Civil rights activists in the United States hope the Snowden affair will wake Americans up and start a debate about the anti-democratic behaviour of the state towards its citizens.

WASHINGTON DC - I have to say I kind of like being listened to. Even if it is by a secret service agent. You do get a feeling of a certain gravitas if a state makes the financial and infrastructural effort to tap your phone. In Moscow it was especially delicious. Whenever there was this special noise on the line, even Austrian correspondents could feel important. That does not happen so often. In Putin’s Russia, we lived in a real authoritarian state which considered foreign reporters to be enemies of the state.

Yoram Kaniuk died. He was 83. He had cancer. And he was by far the most pessimistic Israeli author I knew. We had dinner in a fish restaurant in the old port of Jaffa in 1992 on the day before the Israeli elections and he informed me that the left would never win and even if they did, nothing would change for the better because the religious nationalist right held the country hostage. The next day Yitzhak Rabin won the elections and embarked on a journey to peace via the Oslo accords. Kaniuk was not impressed. Looking back, it seems as if he was right. Rabin did not stop the Israeli settlements when it was still possible to do so.

Putin is divorcing his wife. Really ? Hardly a surprise. Lately Vladimir only brought out Ludmila for an annual visit to church and for his inaugurations. For years, there have been rumours that Putin was involved with a former gymnast turned Duma member. Alina Kabayeva is a 30-year-old Uzbek-born woman who is never seen in public with Putin, a man twice her age. They are said to have two children together - but who knows? When the "Moskovsky Korrespondent" newspaper reported the secret relationship in 2008, it was abruptly shut down.

The divorce announcement on June 6 was the grand finale of the 15th season of the "Tsar Putin" TV soap opera. After all, Putin is the first sitting Russian head of state to divorce his wife since Peter the Great in 1698. When Putin came to power in 1999, the media was still free and there were still reports about his private life. But that changed quickly. By 2004 he had control, and his spin doctors have been busy ever since to create an image of Putin which has very little to do with the reality. The real Putin is the man we do not see.

It's Nigel Farage's turn to "Laugh out Loud" when David Cameron tries to outsmart the eurosceptics.

Nigel Farage is having such a fantastic time. He only needs to look at David Cameron to have a good laugh. The British Prime Minister is trying everything to stop the rise of UKIP - Farage's right-wing populist "United Kingdom Independence Party". But every move to appease the eurosceptics backfires. Last Tuesday Cameron presented a draft for an EU referendum. "An act of pure desperation!", cried Farage triumphantly before he disappeared off on a Eurostar train to Brussels en route to the much hated headquarters of the European Union institutions. Farage stars there as member of the European Parliament.

The ascent of Nigel Farage's right-wing populist party continues into the next round. Even before the final local election results came in, Nigel Farage stated triumphantly: “We are not just a protest party. People vote UKIP because of what we stand for." The right-wing populist “United Kingdom Independence Party” won 23 % of the vote in local council elections in England this week. The big losers were the governing coalition parties, the Tories and the LibDems. Labour won some seats – but most of the protest votes went to UKIP.

The unstoppable ascent of Nigel Farage thus continues. The jovial ex-commodities trader took UKIP over in 2006. His father worked in the City too – and both men are fond of a drink. The 49-year-old Farage likes to rub shoulders in pubs with potential voters, while calling for a halt to immigration. A successful model, it seems. And these elections were only the beginning. In the EU parliament elections next year, which use a system of proportional representation that favours smaller parties, UKIP could become the strongest party. The Eurosceptics now hold 11 of Britain's 73 Euro seats. There is more to come: in 2015's national parliamentary elections, UKIP could turn into the decisive third force after Labour and the Tories, replacing the totally discredited centrist LibDems. Today, UKIP has no MPs in the House of Commons.


In her new book “Vagina. A biography” US-star feminist Naomi Wolf deconstructs female sexual myths. A conversation about orgasm, creativity, Obama and new feminism.

You cannot help but notice Naomi Wolf.The US-star feminist cannot even go to a gala dinner in New York without getting arrested on the way for joing a peaceful protest on the way. When not in trouble the author writes another book, which is guaranteed to create controversy. The very attractive journalist became famous with “The Beauty Myth” in 1991. With “The End Of America” she attacked fascist tendencies in George W. Bushs United States. When she noticed reduced pleasure with her own orgasms, she had herself checked. After an operation at her spine, which fixed a squeezed nerve, she wrote the book about the “central organ of female power”: “The Vagina. A Biography” was heavily critized in 2012: “Shoddy research” was diagnosed and Wolf was called a “sexual prophet”.


Much has been said about the Boston bombers, about their possible motives, their origin, their upbringing and their thinking. We know quite a bit by now about Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. The older brother had links to radical circles and liked to watch extremist Chechen Islamist videos on Youtube; the FBI even interviewed him in 2011 after the Russian security apparatus showed concern. His younger brother seemed a nice enough chap without political affiliations, who was probably dragged into the radical abyss by his brother.

Margaret Thatcher’s bombastic funeral was less about grief than political calculation.

LONDON - Sweating soldiers carefully laid Margaret Thatcher’s coffin down under the cupola of St Paul’s Cathedral. Its stately procession up the stairs and along the aisle of the huge cathedral, past rows filled with bald heads and “fascinators” (as women’s headpieces are called here) had been long indeed. The entire funeral for the former prime minister altogether seemed too drawn-out, too pompous.

With Boris Beresovsky gone Putin is left with only loyal tycoons. The Russian president has turned the "Russia of the oligarchs" into a state oligarchy.

At the time of his self-chosen death Boris Berezovsky was what he probably detested most: an ex-oligarch. He had lost a super expensive court trial against his former partner Roman Abramovich last year in London. The internationally active business man Abramovich is worth 7.8 billion euros according to the 'Forbes' richest list 2013 *. Berezovsky on the other hand was broke. At the end he worried not to be able to feed his six children by three wives "sufficiently" any longer.

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© 2018 Tessa Szyszkowitz