In the next 10 days, the water level around Heixiazi Island is expected to submerge the whole land mass, which usually has an average altitude of 37 meters, said an official with the flood control and drought relief headquarters with northeast China's Heilongjiang Province.
China and Russia ended a century-long dispute over the island and held a border redrawing ceremony in 2008, declaring each side owned half of the 335-square-km piece of land, which is located at the confluence of the Heilongjiang River, known as the Amur River in Russia, and the Ussuri River.
Last winter, when Vladimir Putin appeared to be staying out of the public spotlight following a mysterious injury and a memo was leaked from Kremlin spin-doctors suggesting that he embrace a milder less macho image, I wondered if we might see fewer of the over-the-top, outdoorsman photo-ops that the Russian president has become known for.
Judging by last week's mini-submarine voyage and the video above, we needn't have worried.
South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham surprised many on Capitol Hill this week by suggesting that the U.S. should boycott the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi if Russia grants asylum to fugitive former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. "It might help, because what they're doing is outrageous," Graham told The Hill. "We certainly haven't reset our relationship with Russia in a positive way. At the end of the day, if they grant this guy asylum it's a breach of the rule of law as we know it and is a slap in the face to the United States."
First of all, this is not a good idea. The last time the U.S. boycotted an Olympics -- 1980 in Moscow -- it didn't accomplish much besides giving the Soviets a propaganda victory and setting the stage for a retaliatory boycott of the 1984 Los Angeles Games. It's hard to imagine a Sochi boycott would be much more effective -- and given the amount of money U.S. companies have invested in the event, it's hard to imagine this actually happening. (Even staunch Russia hawk John McCain didn't seem too impressed by the idea, saying, "I think the experience of canceling the Olympics the last time around wasn’t very good.")
But if the U.S. were to sit out the games, one beleaguered whistleblower seems like a bit of an insignificant basis for doing so. For the sake of argument, if America is going to start playing the boycott game, recent Russian policies have provided much better reasons to do so:
Following Mohamed Morsy's overthrow in Egypt, I wrote about Ozan Varol's argument that under certain rare circumstances, coups can be described as "democratic" if they are staged against authoritarian regimes with the widespread support of the people. The three main examples cited in the paper are the 1960 Turkish Coup, 1974 Portuguese Coup, and the 2011 ouster of Hosni Mubarak In a post on the Opinio Juris blog yesterday day, Varol says recent events in Egypt don't fit the bill:
The Egyptian military deposed a president who was elected just a year ago via elections characterized by many as free and fair. To be sure, the military responded to the demands of a massive protest movement against an immensely unpopular and defiant president. There is much to criticize about President Morsi’s majoritarian governance style and the Constitution drafted under the Muslim Brotherhood’s tutelage. But the military’s actions were premature. Speculations aside, there was no indication at the time of the coup that Morsi would refuse to relinquish power upon an electoral loss or that any elections under his government would be rigged, as they were under Mubarak. Had the military not forcibly removed Morsi, opposition groups may have been able to capitalize on Morsi’s unpopularity to oust him at the ballot box. The military’s quick-fix short-circuited the established democratic procedures.
For more coup follow-up, see Jay Ulfelder on how they slow economic growth.
GIANLUIGI GUERCIA/AFP/Getty Images
The Hill is reporting the rather startling news that Reps. Donna Edwards (D-MD) and Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) have introduced legislation to create a National Historic Park at the Apollo landing sites on the moon. "As commercial enterprises and foreign nations acquire the ability to land on the Moon, it is necessary to protect the Apollo lunar landing sites for posterity," the bill reads.
On first reading, you might wonder -- as I did -- how the United States can establish a national historical park outside of its borders. Neil Armstrong may have planted a flag on the moon, but that doesn't mean we own the place.
With a 5-4 decision today, the Supreme Court ruled that the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) violates the U.S. Constitution's equal protection guarantee. The ruling means that married same-sex couples will now be entitled to the same federal benefits as opposite-sex couples.
One of the main beneficiaries of the decision will be the estimated 36,000 binational same-sex couples living in the United States as well as countless more forced to live outside the country because, under DOMA, gay Americans could not sponsor their husbands or wives for citizenship, even if they had been married in one of the 12 states -- plus the District of Columbia -- where same-sex marriage is legal.
Mark Wilson/Getty Images
Exodus International, the controversial evangelical Christian organization that since the 1970s has promoted "reparative therapy" as a cure for homosexuality, announced Wednesday that it is shutting down, with president Alan Chambers disavowing the group's mission and offering an apology to the LGBT community on the organization's website. It's a major story for the U.S. gay rights movement, obviously, but there are global implications as well.
Height: 5'8 (Fine, 5'5)
Body type: Athletic
Drugs: Definitely not
Religion: Russian Orthodox
Job: President of Russia
Income: Rather not say
Children: 2 daughters. No, you cannot meet them.
Pets: "Bigger, stronger, faster" than yours
Speaks: Russian, German, some English
What I'm doing with my life: Restoring Russia to its rightful position of global leadership
I'm really good at: Sovereign democracy, political technology, winning elections by staggering margins, suppressing hooliganism, judo, hockey, cruising on my big trike, tickling the ivories, shooting whales (but only for a good cause)
The first things people usually notice about me: Raw charisma, piercing blue eyes that reveal my soul, pecs, the fact that I'm the president
The six things I could never do without: Being the leader of Russia, my siloviki posse, my photo team, outdoor sporting equipment, my watch collection, the mansion I am definitely not building on the Black Sea
The most private thing I'm willing to admit: My prime minister gets on my nerves sometimes
You should message me if: You want to see the other side of those Kremlin walls
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