Gorbachev Warns Against New Cold War

Mikhail Gorbachev

Source: Russian Television, January 29

Mikhail Gorbachev has accused the US of dragging Russia into a new Cold War. The former Soviet president fears the chill in relations could eventually spur an armed conflict.

“Plainly speaking, the US has already dragged us into a new Cold War, trying to openly implement its idea of triumphalism,” Gorbachev said in an interview with Interfax.

The former USSR leader, whose name is associated with the end of the Cold War between the Soviet Union and the United States, is worried about the possible consequences.

“What’s next? Unfortunately, I cannot be sure that the Cold War will not bring about a ‘hot’ one. I’m afraid they might take the risk,” he said.

Gorbachev’s criticism of Washington comes as the West is pondering new sanctions against Russia, blaming it for the ongoing military conflict in eastern Ukraine, and alleging Moscow is sending troops to the restive areas. Russia has denied the allegations.

“All we hear from the US and the EU now is sanctions against Russia,” Gorbachev said. “Are they completely out of their minds? The US has been totally ‘lost in the jungle’ and is dragging us there as well.”

Elizabeth and Abdullah: In Memoriam of the Late Saudi King

Queen Elizabeth at the wheel

Source: Mother Jones, January 23

Great Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II is known to have a wicked sense of humour, and some mean driving skills. One day back in 1998, she deployed both spectacularly to punk Saudi Arabia’s late King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz. Back then, Abdullah was a Saudi crown prince visiting Balmoral, the vast royal estate in Scotland. The Queen had offered him a tour of the grounds – here’s what happened next, according to former British ambassador to Saudi Arabia Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles.

The royal Land Rovers were drawn up in front of the castle. As instructed, the Crown Prince climbed into the front seat of the Land Rover, with his interpreter in the seat behind. To his surprise, the Queen climbed into the driving seat, turned the ignition and drove off. Women are not – yet – allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia, and Abdullah was not used to being driven by a woman, let alone a queen. His nervousness only increased as the queen, an Army driver in wartime, accelerated the Land Rover along the narrow Scottish estate roads, talking all the time. Through his interpreter, the Crown Prince implored the Queen to slow down and concentrate on the road ahead.

Royal custom discourages repeating what the Queen says in private, Cowper-Coles explained, but the anecdote was corroborated by Abdullah, and became, in the diplomat’s words, “too funny not to repeat.”

Abdullah went on to cultivate the image of a reformer as king. One thing he didn’t change, despite the Queen’s badass stunt: women still can’t drive in Saudi Arabia.