BOULDER, Colorado -- As their economy totters on the brink of collapse, Russia's rich and powerful apparently cannot wait for squirrels and rabbits to run out before they resort to the next vital food source - endangered species.
On January 9, a helicopter carrying eight VIP passengers, including government officials and local businessmen, on a hunting trip to the Altai Mountains of southern Siberia crashed, killing seven passengers and two of the three crewmen. It took two days for rescue workers to locate the crash site and the four survivors in the remote mountains of Russia's Altai Republic. Among the dead was Alexander Kosopkin, the presidential representative to the State Duma.
These Russian high-fliers were up to no good on their hunting trip, however. Amidst the wreckage of the Mil-171 helicopter, several carcasses of Argali bighorn sheep, an animal that is classified as endangered in Russia, were uncovered. Ironically, among the dead in the crash was Viktor Kaymin, the chairman of the department of wildlife protection and management for the Altai Republic. Pictures of the crash showing the dead animals were released to the public (photo courtesy altapress.ru), and the director of the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) in Russia has asked local prosecutors to investigate whether these men were engaged in criminal poaching.
The cause of the crash has yet to be determined, but investigators speculate that it may have been the result of pilot error. Russia's less scrupulous tabloids have suggested that the chopper may have been shot down by local hunters seeking revenge for the slaughtered sheep.
Itchy continues to be obsessed with America's coming day of reckoning with the Chinese, and he's sounding increasingly like George Friedman, author of the 1991 (not 1941) classic, The Coming War with Japan. But in the current scenario, the US is actually much like Japan was in the early 1990's. After seeing a massive real estate bubble collapse, Japan suffered through a decade-long recession. America runs the risk of repeating Japan's mistakes - understimulating the economy with poorly-directed infrastructure projects and failing to adequately deal with all the bad debt that banks hold.
As for myself, I am looking beyond the horizon of the apocalypse, and I am more worried about how we will survive when all of our modern technology is lost in the vortex of deflation, bank nationalizations, and deadly moth swarms (seriously, can't Liberia catch a break?). We will all have to eat endangered species.
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