Random bits of weirdness for the week of May 26, 2015

stupidamericantourists

If it’s a choice between an invasion by these two guys or the two gay-obssessed Russian leaders in the next item, we’d have to think abut it. OK, not really, since these particular Americans appear to be potty trained.Pete and Bret Leduc, both of Los Angeles, happy to tout their stereotype during a visit to Longyearbyen this week, which of course won over plenty of locals including Kroa employee Ida Christine Aske Lima who was among those clamoring for a photo. The gents are wearing custom t-shirts they obtained in 2013 for their foreign travels. Pete’s advice on ensuring a visitor lives up to the shirts’ boast: “The stupid thing I find myself doing is complaining how expensive everything is.” On the other hand, they actually asked where the bathroom is, unlike the parade of tourists doing the deed in questionable places outdoors that we exhibited in this space last week….

putinrogozin

Gays are coming to destroy you! Not that we care about the sexual habits of our conquerors, but we’re wondering why Russia’s deputy PM felt the need to share that particular detail. Photo by Ria Novosti.

Russia’s deputy internet troll is back and feeding orts and droppings to our superficial media souls by declaring “Russia’s tanks don’t need visas” when visiting places like Svalbard. Dmitry Rogozin, responding Saturday on Russian state TV to concerns about increasingly aggressive activity in the Arctic, basically told Norway to screw themselves as it plans to enact tougher entry restrictions to Svalbard after his unwanted visit here in April. “So what if they won’t give us visas, put us on sanctions list,” he said before tossing in the tank remark. He said the West “is afraid of the fact that we have started looking around, at our enormous territory.” What we should fear, he added in one of infamous Twitter messages, is the West will “fall under the weight of Islamic State and gays.” Because those two seem like such a natural alliance…

Much as we poke fun the revival of certain Soviet-era antics, there’s nothing amusing when real repression occurs – and in this case it’s happening on our side of the border as Norwegian government officials are stripping the online newspaper BarentsObserver, which provides some of the best “outside” coverage of Svalbard, of its right to publish without censorship. That has prompted the publishing of our first-ever editorial as we and pretty much every other journalism entity in Norway are denouncing the decision. BarentsObserver is is essentially owned by Norway’s three northernmost county governments, but that’s no excuse when objective coverage of what’s happening between Norway and Russia is more important than ever.