Putin Blames Enemies of the State for Nemtsov’s Murder

Boris Nemtsov, a leading Russian opposition figure, age 55, was shot dead Friday night as he walked across a bridge connecting the Kremlin with the embankment district of central Moscow. The youthful and handsome Nemtsov was accompanied by his 23-year-old girlfriend, a Ukrainian model. According to initial BBC reports, he was shot four times by several men emerging from a white car and then speeding away. Nemtsov’s death was confirmed at the site by an aide, who reported that Nemtsov’s corpse lay in front of him on the street, surrounded by police. Contacts in Moscow reported that the murder scene was mobbed by mourners bringing flowers. Nemtsov’s female companion was taken away to be interrogated at police headquarters. (See video) Let’s see how long she’ll remain in custody.

Nemtsov served as Deputy Prime Minister under Boris Yeltsin. He was also mayor of Nizhny Novgorod before joining the liberal opposition to Putin. During his tenure under Yeltsin, Nemtsov was considered a possible successor, but handicapped by the fact that he was Jewish.

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Should We Be Worried About the AR-15 Ammunition Ban?

Conservatives who defend the Second Amendment right to bear arms (among whom I count myself) are raising the alarm that the Obama Administration is trying to threaten the AR-15 by banning its ammunition. Apparently, the ATF has announced its intention to prohibit what a news article describes as “inexpensive 5.56 M855 ammo, commonly called lightgreen tips” because it can pierce the armor commonly worn by local police.

I ask the Ricochet community to explain what this ammunition is. It is only with that knowledge that can we judge whether this is a true threat to Second Amendment rights.

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So Give Me the Scoop on this CPAC Thing

v2-Boris-Nemtsov-tributes-2I’m guessing there’s no better group of people to ask. I want to know what really happened at CPAC. Remember, I wasn’t there. Missed the party. Wasted my weekend on the news about Boris Nemtsov being blown away on the streets of Moscow. No, of course I don’t know who killed him, but I’m not yet at that zen state where I look at that news and think, “Political assassination in Moscow, Kremlin critic lying dead just outside the Kremlin’s walls, who cares, how could that possibly affect the world.”

So after freaking out completely, I turn my attention back to the US to scan the news from the other superpower, the last, best chance of –well, “my country,” as I quaintly think of it. I read, variously, that CPAC is freaking out the Nation because it seemed “disturbingly sane,” and that 25.7 percent of the 3,000+ attendees–half of whom identified as between the ages of 18 and 25–think Rand Paul’s the man for the job.

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Saturday Night Science: Rockets and People, Vol. 2

Rockets and People, Vol. 2, by Boris ChertokThis is the second book of the author’s four-volume autobiographical history of the Soviet missile and space program. I will discuss the four volumes in four Saturday Night Science posts, one a month; you can read the first installment here.

Boris Chertok was a survivor, living through the Bolshevik revolution, the Russian civil war, Stalin’s purges of the 1930s, World War II, all of the postwar conflict between chief designers and their bureaux and rival politicians, and the collapse of the Soviet Union. Born in Poland in 1912, he died in 2011 in Moscow. After retiring from the RKK Energia organisation in 1992 at the age of 80, he wrote this work between 1994 and 1999. Originally published in Russian in 1999, this annotated English translation was prepared by the NASA History Office under the direction of Asif A. Siddiqi, author of Challenge to Apollo, the definitive Western history of the Soviet space program.

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Ruling the Fed: Republicans Attacking Yellen Should Be Careful What They Wish for

Fed chair Janet Yellen testified this week on the state of the economy. The only interesting thing to come of it was some sharp-edged criticism by Republican members of the House Financial Services Committee. That includes committee chair Jeb Hensarling, who said, “Fed reforms are needed . . . Fed reforms are coming.”

Senator Rand Paul, for one, is pushing a bill to audit the Fed, by which he means auditing the Fed’s policies and discussions. But Yellen and other Fed big shots fiercely oppose any rules that might be imposed on the central bank by Congress.

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A Quest to Visit All 50 States

I want to visit all 50 states. Don’t know why exactly, but ever since I was a kid it seemed like it was something I had to accomplish. By the time I was 10 years old, I had visited 10 states, 20 states by the time I hit 20, and on it went until I hit 39 and stalled out. Despite this barrier I remain obsessed with this dumb little quest.

When a business trip took me to Boston, I added an extra day so I could swing through Maine and New Hampshire. I volunteered for a singularly unglamorous trip to Cincinnati simply so I could cross the bridge into Kentucky. I can’t look at a U.S. map without mentally calculating which states I must visit and in what order. I’m running out of time to hit all 50 by 50; maybe for a midlife crisis I could rent an RV and disappear for a month.

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Sticks and Stones May Break My Bones, But Hate Speech Is Constitutional

Yik Yak, a controversial social media app, has colleges embroiled in debate as to the proper extents of speech on campuses. Yik Yak is a program that gives the user a “a live feed of what everyone’s saying around you.” On campuses around the country this can lead to predictable results when you combine adolescents, newly freed from the control of their parents, with the ability to spontaneously broadcast whatever they happen to be feeling in that moment within a 10-mile radius.

As noted by one writer at LSU, the results can often be what is popularly considered “hate speech.” Noting some of the truly terrible things that her fellow students feel free to share through the app, she writes:

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Topless Woman Found in Headline Post

An anonymous tipster sent me an excellent suggestion. He thought the “How to Write a Great Post” list needed one more tip. Looking at the examples he sent, I had to agree.

Hence: Rule #12: Create a clear, self-explanatory headline. Too many headlines are enigmas that require further investigation. Don’t make readers scan further to see if they are interested.

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I Am, and Shall Always Be, Your Fan

nimoyYou can imagine James Doohan sitting in heaven, having a wee dram, and raising his head when he suddenly hears something. Everyone else is announced with bells, you know. This is a high, familiar white. DeForest Kelley rolls his eyes.

“Pointy-eared hobgoblin made it,” he says.

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Yes, Reaganomics Sure Does Need a 21st Century Update

shutterstock_177028802“The GOP is Debating Whether Reaganomics Needs an Update” is a must-read piece by Washington Post reporter Jim Tankersley. One side answers the “What would Reagan do?” question by offering a nostalgic return to the 1980s Reagan agenda. Another prefers to apply the Reagan principles — a dynamic private sector, strong families and neighborhoods, upward mobility, work — to modern economic reality with different conservative policy results. Tankersley:

Leading Republicans are clashing over a signature issue the party has treated as gospel for nearly 40 years: the idea that sharply lower taxes and smaller government are enough by themselves to drive a more prosperous middle class — and win national elections. That simple philosophy has been the foundation of every GOP platform since the days of Ronald Reagan. Now, some of the party’s presidential hopefuls — along with some top conservative economists and strategists — are sending strong signals that they believe today’s beleaguered workers need more targeted help, even if growth speeds up.

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