Saturday in Whitewater will be cloudy with a high of thirty-five. Sunrise is 7:20 AM and sunset 4:50 PM, for 9h 29m 30s of daytime. The moon is a waning crescent with 37.9% of its visible disk illuminated.
On this day in 1919, the Paris Peace Conference opens.
Recommended for reading in full —
Angela Stent and Adrianna Pita ask What does Putin’s government shakeup mean for his role in Russia?
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s proposed sweeping constitutional changes have stirred speculation about his plans to maintain power after his term of office expires in 2024. Russia expert Angela Stent, author of “Putin’s World,” interprets Putin’s latest moves, the resignation of Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and the rest of the current government, and what to watch for during the next few months.
Masha Gessen writes of The Willful Ambiguity of Putin’s Latest Power Grab:
What Putin seems to be doing now is preëmpting the possibility of a challenge. He is starting early, four years before the end of his term. And he seems to be creating several avenues for staying in power. His preferred option is probably to remain President. When he was first elected, in 2000, the Constitution set a limit of “two four-year terms served consecutively” for the Presidency. Putin chose to interpret this admittedly ambiguous provision to mean “no more than two terms at a time,” and exited the office in 2008, by temporarily trading places with his protégé Medvedev, who moved from the Prime Minister’s chair to the Presidency. While Medvedev was President, he initiated an amendment to the Constitution that extended the Presidential term to six years, so by the time Putin returned to the office, in 2012, he could plan on twelve more years.
Putin’s address on Wednesday included an indecipherable passage:
Bizarrely, the Kremlin’s official translation of the speech omitted the words “more than,” changing the meaning of the passage entirely—if the passage can indeed be said to have meaning. What view does Putin share? The view that one person should not hold the office for more than two consecutive terms? Or the view that this provision should be revisited? Considering that an entire army of Kremlin watchers was listening for what Putin would say about term limits, not even the Kremlin’s speechwriters are so incompetent as to draft such an accidentally ambiguous passage. This message is meant to be mixed.
At a celebration of the Russian Orthodox New Year on Tuesday, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev chose a grim message, the sarcasm of which left his audience on edge. But, then, Medvedev probably knew what Wednesday would bring—the resignation of his entire government—and the audience did not.
On national television, the prime minister read at length from Anton Chekhov’s story “A Night in the Cemetery,” which suggests with ironic wit that celebrating the coming of the New Year is a foolish pursuit, unworthy of a properly functioning mind, since “every coming year is as bad as the previous one,” and the newest year is bound to be even worse.