McDonald’s Objects to Russia Restaurant Closures

People sit on the terrace of a closed McDonald’s restaurant, the first to be opened in the Soviet Union in 1990, in Moscow on Aug. 21, 2014. Alexander Nemenov—AFP/Getty Images

The Russian government says conditions in some of the chain’s restaurants are unsanitary

McDonald’s on Friday objected to the Russian government’s decision to close 12 of its restaurants in the country, following weeks of highly publicized investigations into health and safety at the fast food giant’s locations.

“We are closely studying the content of the agency documents to determine what should be done to re-open the restaurants as soon as possible,” the company said in a statement. “We do not agree with the court’s decision and will appeal against it in accordance with the procedures established by the law.”

The investigations come as the United States and Russia face heightened tensions over the crisis in Ukraine. While Russian authorities maintain that the restaurants have been closed for health reasons, critics say the closures are a response to U.S. sanctions against Russia.

The Russian government is continuing “microbiology tests, sanitary and chemical tests” at other McDonald’s restaurants in Russia, according to reports.


Hulk vs Superman

This fan film seems to be a work in progress. The idea of the video is the Hulk’s increasing rage and Superman is powered by sunlight. I have an interesting idea for a possible end to the series, but I’ll leave that up to the filmmaker.

I am especially appreciative of the homage to Christopher Reeve, whose likeness is used as a model for Superman. Thank you for being a great Superman, Mr. Reeve.

churchill and the taliban — 8/18/14 is a brief daily email with an excerpt or quote we view as interesting or noteworthy, offered with commentary to provide context.  There is no theme, except that most excerpts will come from a non-fiction work, mainly works of history, are occasionally controversial, and we hope will have a more universal relevance than simply the subject of the book from which they came. 

Today’s selection — from Chuchill’s First War by Con Coughlin. The irresistible juxtaposition of young Winston Churchill and the Taliban:

“When the young Winston Churchill arrived at the North-West Frontier of the Indian Empire in the early autumn of 1897 he very quickly formed a low opinion of the Taliban. In Churchill’s day, the great-great-grandfathers of those who created the modern Taliban movement were known as the Talib-ul-ilms, a motley collection of indigent holy men who lived off the goodwill and hospitality of the local Afghan tribes and preached insurrection against the British Empire. To Churchill’s mind, these Talibs were, together with other local priestly figures such as the mullahs and fakirs, primarily responsible for the wretched condition of the local Afghan tribesfolk and their violent indisposition to foreign rule. In Churchill’s view they were ‘as degraded a race as any on the fringe of humanity: fierce as a tiger, but less cleanly; as dangerous, not so graceful’. He blamed the Talibs for the Afghans’ lamentable absence of civilized development, keeping them in the ‘grip of miserable superstition’. Churchill was particularly repelled by the Talibs’ loose moral conduct. They lived free at the expense of the people and, ‘more than this, they enjoy a sort of “droit de seigneur“, and no man’s wife or daughter is safe from them. Of some of their manners and morals it is impossible to write.’ 

Winston Churchill, aged 19, as a second lieutenant in the Fourth Queen’s Own Hussars

“Churchill saw the conflict in even more apocalyptic terms when he published his first newspaper article on his experiences as a young British soldier locked in mortal combat with these fearsome Afghan tribesmen. ‘Civilisation is face to face with militant Mohammedism,’ he wrote. He entertained no doubts as to the conflict’s ultimate outcome for, given the ‘moral and material forces arrayed against each other, there need be no fear of the ultimate issue’. Even so, he lamented the warlike nature of the tribes who inhabited the mountainous no-man’s land between Afghanistan to the north and British India to the south. Many tribes, the majority of them Pashtuns, lived in the wild but wealthy valleys that led from Afghanistan to India, but they were all of similar character and condition. Except when they were sowing or harvesting their crops, Churchill observed that a continual state of feud and strife prevailed throughout the land. ‘Tribe wars with tribe. The people of one valley fight with those of the next. To the quarrels of communities are added the combats of individuals. Khan assails khan, each supported by his retainers. Every tribesman has a blood feud against his neighbour. Every man’s hand is against the other, and all are against the stranger.’ More than a hundred years later, when a new generation of Western soldiers deployed to Central Asia, they found that little had changed in the way the tribes of the Afghan frontier conducted themselves.

“In criticizing some of the Talibs’ more depraved practices, Churchill conveniently overlooked the conduct of his own social milieu back in London, which could hardly be described as a cradle of virtuous rectitude. The loose moral values observed in certain upper-class circles of late-Victorian England were most famously embodied by the louche conduct of the Prince of Wales, the future King Edward VII. A close family friend of the Churchills, ‘Bertie’ entertained a string of mistresses; one of his conquests was said to be Winston’s mother Jennie, the wife of the Tory peer Lord Randolph Churchill and a notable society beauty. The American-born Jennie is credited with having had more than two hundred lovers of her own and was susceptible to the charms of young Guards officers who were barely older than Winston.”

Churchill’s First War: Young Winston at War with the Afghans

Author: Con Coughlin 
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books, St. Martin’s Press
Copyright 2013 by Con Coughlin
Pages: 1-2