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GORI, GEORGIA — The keychain costs about 50 cents. It comes in a little plastic bag with a staple through the middle, and is sometimes given away free to visiting foreigners. On one side of the keychain is a thumbnail size photo, a scratchy black and white of the revolutionary when he was in his early 20s. On the flip side of this cheap souvenir is an image of the same man about 30 years later, no longer a revolutionary, but a despot who commanded one of the most heinous reigns of terror in the history of mankind. Welcome to […]

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Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia, is a city that brings to mind three images: hospitality, khachapuri (a delicious cheese-filled heart attack encased in dough), and George W. Bush, whose larger-than-life visage graced the surface of numerous billboards on the stretch of road that linked the airport to the city in August 2005. The billboards went up after Bush visited Georgia in May 2005, and not long after that, this main drag officially became “George W. Bush Street.” Cab drivers got a kick out of pointing to the billboards and giving Americans smiles — the type people give each other to […]

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Taking a cue from comedy duo Laurel and Hardy or, perhaps more accurately, Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum, Pootie-Poot and Dubya’s foibles took center stage at the Group of 8 (G8) summit. Between Putin’s jabs and Bush’s FCC violation and unsolicited shoulder rub on German Chancellor Angela Merkel, much of the G8’s purpose, to allow world leaders “to harmonize attitudes to acute international problems,” was lost. Russian President Vladimir Putin, who U.S. President George “Dubya” Bush nicknamed Pootie-Poot back in 2002 when he gazed into his eyes and got a “sense of his soul,” set the tone of the G8 […]

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On an exceptionally cold January day in 1978, my family was beginning its long voyage to America from the Soviet Union. Our bags were being checked by Soviet customs in Brest, Belarus – the last Soviet outpost – when my father stepped out of line to, in his own words, “wave one last time to my father, whom I may never see again.” He started walking towards the exit, but before he reached it, a Soviet agent walked up behind him and said, “Either you go back to the waiting area, or you won’t be going anywhere today or anytime […]