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The Queen of Spades by Alexander Pushkin – Part 1

Anna Lutskova

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At the house of Naroumov, a cavalry officer, the long winter night had been passed in gambling. At five in the morning breakfast was served to the weary players. The winners  ate with relish; the losers, on the contrary, pushed back their plates and sat brooding  gloomily. Under the influence of the good wine, however, the conversation then became  general.

“Well, Sourine?” said the host inquiringly.

“Oh, I lost as usual. My luck is abominable. No matter how cool I keep, I never win.”

“How is it, Herman, that you never touch a card?” remarked one of the men, addressing a  young officer of the Engineering Corps. “Here you are with the rest of us at five o’clock  in the morning, and you have neither played nor bet all night.”

“Play interests me greatly,” replied the person addressed, “but I hardly care to sacrifice  the necessaries of life for uncertain superfluities.”

“Herman is a German, therefore economical; that explains it,” said Tomsky. “But the  person I can’t quite understand is my grandmother, the Countess Anna Fedorovna.”

“Why?” inquired a chorus of voices.

“I can’t understand why my grandmother never gambles.”

“I don’t see anything very striking in the fact that a woman of eighty refuses to gamble,” objected Naroumov.

“Have you never heard her story?”

“No—”

“Well, then, listen to it. To begin with, sixty years ago my grandmother went to Paris, where she was all the fashion. People crowded each other in the streets to get a chance to  see the ‘Muscovite Venus,’ as she was called. All the great ladies played faro, then. On  one occasion, while playing with the Duke of Orleans, she lost an enormous sum. She  told her husband of the debt, but he refused outright to pay it. Nothing could induce him  to change his mind on the subject, and grandmother was at her wits’ ends. Finally, she  remembered a friend of hers, Count Saint­-Germain. You must have heard of him, as many wonderful stories have been told about him. He is said to have discovered the elixir of life, the philosopher’s stone, and many other equally marvelous things. He had money  at his disposal, and my grandmother knew it. She sent him a note asking him to come to  see her. He obeyed her summons and found her in great distress. She painted the cruelty  of her husband in the darkest colors, and ended by telling the Count that she depended  upon his friendship and generosity.

“‘I could lend you the money,’ replied the Count, after a moment of thoughtfulness, ‘but I know that you would not enjoy a moment’s rest until you had returned it; it would only  add to your embarrassment. There is another way of freeing yourself.’

“‘But I have no money at all,’ insisted my grandmother.

“‘There is no need of money. Listen to me.’

“The Count then told her a secret which any of us would give a good deal to know.”

The young gamesters were all attention. Tomsky lit his pipe, took a few whiffs, then  continued:

“The next evening, grandmother appeared at Versailles at the Queen’s gaming­-table. The  Duke of Orleans was the dealer. Grandmother made some excuse for not having brought  any money, and began to punt. She chose three cards in succession, again and again, winning every time, and was soon out of debt.”

“A fable,” remarked Herman; “perhaps the cards were marked.”

“I hardly think so,” replied Tomsky, with an air of importance.

“So you have a grandmother who knows three winning cards, and you haven’t found out  the magic secret.”

“I must say I have not. She had four sons, one of them being my father, all of whom are  devoted to play; she never told the secret to one of them. But my uncle told me this much, on his word of honor. Tchaplitzky, who died in poverty after having squandered millions, lost at one time, at play, nearly three hundred thousand rubles. He was desperate and  grandmother took pity on him. She told him the three cards, making him swear never to  use them again. He returned to the game, staked fifty thousand rubles on each card, and  came out ahead, after paying his debts.”

As day was dawning the party now broke up, each one draining his glass and taking his leave.

The Countess Anna Fedorovna was seated before her mirror in her dressing­-room. Three women were assisting at her toilet. The old Countess no longer made the slightest  pretensions to beauty, but she still clung to all the habits of her youth, and spent as much  time at her toilet as she had done sixty years before. At the window a young girl, her  ward, sat at her needlework.

“Good afternoon, grandmother,” cried a young officer, who had just entered the room. “I have come to ask a favor of you.”

“What, Pavel?”

“I want to be allowed to present one of my friends to you, and to take you to the ball on  Tuesday night.”

“Take me to the ball and present him to me there.”

After a few more remarks the officer walked up to the window where Lisaveta Ivanovna  sat.

“Whom do you wish to present?” asked the girl.

“Naroumov; do you know him?”

“No; is he a soldier?”

“Yes.”

“An engineer?”

“No; why do you ask?”

The girl smiled and made no reply.

Pavel Tomsky took his leave, and, left to herself, Lisaveta glanced out of the window. Soon, a young officer appeared at the corner of the street; the girl blushed and bent her  head low over her canvas. This appearance of the officer had become a daily occurrence. The man was totally  unknown to her, and as she was not accustomed to coquetting with the soldiers she saw  on the street, she hardly knew how to explain his presence. His persistence finally roused  an interest entirely strange to her. One day, she even ventured to smile upon her admirer, for such he seemed to be.

The reader need hardly be told that the officer was no other than Herman, the would­-be  gambler, whose imagination had been strongly excited by the story told by Tomsky of the  three magic cards.

“Ah,” he thought, “if the old Countess would only reveal the secret to me. Why not try to  win her good­will and appeal to her sympathy?”

With this idea in mind, he took up his daily station before the house, watching the pretty  face at the window, and trusting to fate to bring about the desired acquaintance.

One day, as Lisaveta was standing on the pavement about to enter the carriage after the  Countess, she felt herself jostled and a note was thrust into her hand. Turning, she saw  the young officer at her elbow. As quick as thought, she put the note in her glove and entered the carriage. On her return from the drive, she hastened to her chamber to read  the missive, in a state of excitement mingled with fear. It was a tender and respectful  declaration of affection, copied word for word from a German novel. Of this fact, Lisa  was, of course, ignorant.

The young girl was much impressed by the missive, but she felt that the writer must not  be encouraged. She therefore wrote a few lines of explanation and, at the first  opportunity, dropped it, with the letter, out of the window. The officer hastily crossed the  street, picked up the papers and entered a shop to read them.

In no wise daunted by this rebuff, he found the opportunity to send her another note in a  few days. He received no reply, but, evidently understanding the female heart, he  presevered, begging for an interview. He was rewarded at last by the following:

“To­night we go to the ambassador’s ball. We shall remain until two o’clock. I can  arrange for a meeting in this way. After our departure, the servants will probably all go  out, or go to sleep. At half­-past eleven enter the vestibule boldly, and if you see any one, inquire for the Countess; if not, ascend the stairs, turn to the left and go on until you come  to a door, which opens into her bedchamber. Enter this room and behind a screen you will  find another door leading to a corridor; from this a spiral staircase leads to my sitting-room. I shall expect to find you there on my return.”

Herman trembled like a leaf as the appointed hour drew near. He obeyed instructions fully, and, as he met no one, he reached the old lady’s bedchamber without difficulty. Instead of going out of the small door behind the screen, however, he concealed himself in a closet to await the return of the old Countess.

The hours dragged slowly by; at last he heard the sound of wheels. Immediately lamps were lighted and servants began moving about. Finally the old woman tottered into the  room, completely exhausted. Her women removed her wraps and proceeded to get her in  readiness for the night. Herman watched the proceedings with a curiosity not unmingled  with superstitious fear. When at last she was attired in cap and gown, the old woman  looked less uncanny than when she wore her ball­-dress of blue brocade.

She sat down in an easy chair beside a table, as she was in the habit of doing before  retiring, and her women withdrew. As the old lady sat swaying to and fro, seemingly  oblivious to her surroundings, Herman crept out of his hiding­-place.

At the slight noise the old woman opened her eyes, and gazed at the intruder with a half­ dazed expression.

“Have no fear, I beg of you,” said Herman, in a calm voice. “I have not come to harm  you, but to ask a favor of you instead.”

The Countess looked at him in silence, seemingly without comprehending him. Herman  thought she might be deaf, so he put his lips close to her ear and repeated his remark. The  listener remained perfectly mute.

“You could make my fortune without its costing you anything,” pleaded the young man;  “only tell me the three cards which are sure to win, and—”

Herman paused as the old woman opened her lips as if about to speak.

“It was only a jest; I swear to you, it was only a jest,” came from the withered lips.

“There was no jesting about it. Remember Tchaplitzky, who, thanks to you, was able to  pay his debts.”

An expression of interior agitation passed over the face of the old woman; then she  relapsed into her former apathy.

“Will you tell me the names of the magic cards, or not?” asked Herman after a pause.

There was no reply.

The young man then drew a pistol from his pocket, exclaiming: “You old witch, I’ll force you to tell me!”

At the sight of the weapon the Countess gave a second sign of life. She threw back her  head and put out her hands as if to protect herself; then they dropped and she sat  motionless.

Herman grasped her arm roughly, and was about to renew his threats, when he saw that  she was dead!

………..to be continued………..

Translated by H. Twitchell. Copyright, 1901, by The Current Literature Publishing Company

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Ariel Cohen explains Washington’s latest foreign policy strategy [Video]

Excellent interview Ariel Cohen and Vladimir Solovyov reveals the forces at work in and behind American foreign policy.

Seraphim Hanisch

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While the American people and press are pretty much complicit in reassuring the masses that America is the only “right” superpower on earth, and that Russia and China represent “enemy threats” for doing nothing more than existing and being successfully competitive in world markets, Russia Channel One got a stunner of a video interview with Ariel Cohen.

Who is Ariel Cohen? Wikipedia offers this information about him:

Ariel Cohen (born April 3, 1959 in Crimea in YaltaUSSR) is a political scientist focusing on political risk, international security and energy policy, and the rule of law.[1] Cohen currently serves as the Director of The Center for Energy, Natural Resources and Geopolitics (CENRG) at the Institute for Analysis of Global Security (IAGS). CENRG focuses on the nexus between energy, geopolitics and security, and natural resources and growth. He is also a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, within the Global Energy Center and the Dinu Patriciu Eurasia Center.[2] Until July 2014, Dr. Cohen was a senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C. He specializes in Russia/Eurasia, Eastern Europe, and the Middle East.

Cohen has testified before committees of the U.S. Congress, including the Senate and House Foreign Relations Committees, the House Armed Services Committee, the House Judiciary Committee and the Helsinki Commission.[4] He also served as a Policy Adviser with the National Institute for Public Policy’s Center for Deterrence Analysis.[5] In addition, Cohen has consulted for USAID, the World Bank and the Pentagon.[6][7]

Cohen is a frequent writer and commentator in the American and international media. He has appeared on CNN, NBC, CBS, FOX, C-SPAN, BBC-TV and Al Jazeera English, as well as Russian and Ukrainian national TV networks. He was a commentator on a Voice of America weekly radio and TV show for eight years. Currently, he is a Contributing Editor to the National Interest and a blogger for Voice of America. He has written guest columns for the New York TimesInternational Herald TribuneChristian Science Monitor, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Times, EurasiaNet, Valdai Discussion Club,[8] and National Review Online. In Europe, Cohen’s analyses have appeared in Kommersant, Izvestiya, Hurriyet, the popular Russian website Ezhenedelny Zhurnal, and many others.[9][10]

Mr. Cohen came on Russian TV for a lengthy interview running about 17 minutes. This interview, shown in full below, is extremely instructive in illustrating the nature of the American foreign policy directives such as they are at this time.

We have seen evidence of this in recent statements by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo regarding Russia’s “invasion” of Ukraine, and an honestly unabashed bit of fear mongering about China’s company Huawei and its forthcoming 5G networks, which we will investigate in more detail in another piece. Both bits of rhetoric reflect a re-polished narrative that, paraphrased, says to the other world powers,

Either you do as we tell you, or you are our enemy. You are not even permitted to out-compete with us in business, let alone foreign relations. The world is ours and if you try to step out of place, you will be dealt with as an enemy power.

This is probably justified paranoia, because it is losing its place. Where the United Stated used to stand for opposition against tyranny in the world, it now acts as the tyrant, and even as a bully. Russia and China’s reaction might be seen as ignoring the bully and his bluster and just going about doing their own thing. It isn’t a fight, but it is treating the bully with contempt, as bullies indeed deserve.

Ariel Cohen rightly points out that there is a great deal of political inertia in the matter of allowing Russia and China to just do their own thing. The US appears to be acting paranoid about losing its place. His explanations appear very sound and very reasonable and factual. Far from some of the snark Vesti is often infamous for, this interview is so clear it is tragic that most Americans will never see it.

The tragedy for the US leadership that buys this strategy is that they appear to be blinded so much by their own passion that they cannot break free of it to save themselves.

This is not the first time that such events have happened to an empire. It happened in Rome; it happened for England; and it happened for the shorter-lived empires of Nazi Germany and ISIS. It happens every time that someone in power becomes afraid to lose it, and when the forces that propelled that rise to power no longer are present. The US is a superpower without a reason to be a superpower.

That can be very dangerous.

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Even a Vacuous Mueller Report Won’t End ‘Russiagate’

Too many reputations and other interests are vested in the legend for it to vanish from American politics anytime soon.

Stephen Cohen

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Authored by Stephen Cohen via The Nation:


Russiagate allegations that the Kremlin has a subversive hold over President Trump, and even put him in the White House, have poisoned American political life for almost three years. Among other afflictions, it has inspired an array of media malpractices, virtually criminalized anti–Cold War thinking about Russia, and distorted the priorities of the Democratic Party. And this leaves aside the woeful impact Russiagate has had in Moscow—on its policymakers’ perception of the US as a reliable partner on mutually vital strategic issues and on Russian democrats who once looked to the American political system as one to be emulated, a loss of “illusions” I previously reported.

Contrary to many expectations, even if the Mueller report, said to be impending, finds, as did a Senate committee recently, “no direct evidence of conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia,” Russiagate allegations are unlikely to dissipate in the near future and certainly not before the 2020 presidential election.

There are several reasons this is so, foremost among them the following:

  1. The story of a “Kremlin puppet” in the White House is so fabulous and unprecedented it is certain to become a tenacious political legend, as have others in American history despite the absence of any supporting evidence.
  2. The careers of many previously semi-obscure Democratic members of Congress have been greatly enhanced—if that is the right word—by their aggressive promotion of Russiagate. (Think, for example, of the ubiquitous media coverage and cable-television appearances awarded to Representatives Adam Schiff, Eric Swalwell, and Maxine Walters, and to Senators Mark Warner and Richard Blumenthal.) If Mueller fails to report “collusion” of real political substance, these and other Russiagate zealots, as well as their supporters in the media, will need to reinterpret run-of-the-mill (and bipartisan) financial corruption and mundane “contacts with Russia” as somehow treasonous. (The financial-corruption convictions of Paul Manafort, Mueller’s single “big win” to date, did not charge “collusion” and had to do mainly with Ukraine, not Russia.) Having done so already, there is every reason to think Democrats will politicize these charges again, if only for the sake of their own careers. Witness, for example, the scores of summonses promised by Jerrold Nadler, the new Democratic chair of the House Judiciary Committee.
  3. Still worse, the top Democratic congressional leadership evidently has concluded that promoting the new Cold War, of which Russiagate has become an integral part, is a winning issue in 2020. How else to explain Nancy Pelosi’s proposal—subsequently endorsed by the equally unstatesmanlike Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, and adopted—to invite the secretary general of NATO, a not-very-distinguished Norwegian politician named Jens Stoltenberg, to address a joint session of Congress? The honor was once bestowed on figures such as Winston Churchill and at the very least leaders of actual countries. Trump has reasonably questioned NATO’s mission and costs nearly 30 years after the Soviet Union disappeared, as did many Washington think tanks and pundits back in the 1990s. But for Pelosi and other Democratic leaders, there can be no such discussion, only valorization of NATO, even though the military alliance’s eastward expansion has brought the West to the brink of war with nuclear Russia. Anything Trump suggests must be opposed, regardless of the cost to US national security. Will the Democrats go to the country in 2020 as the party of investigations, subpoenas, Russophobia, and escalating cold war—and win?

Readers of my new book War With Russia?, which argues that there are no facts to support the foundational political allegations of Russiagate, may wonder how, then, Russiagate can continue to be such a major factor in our politics. As someone has recently pointed out, the Democrats and their media are now operating on the Liberty Valance principle: When the facts are murky or nonexistent, “print the legend.”

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Patriarch Bartholomew slaps down effort to solve Ukrainian Church crisis

Seraphim Hanisch

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Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I has a problem.

In October last year, by his order, two schismatic churches and their leaders were “rehabilitated” and the schismatic churches were combined and relaunched as a new national church, ostensibly for the people of Ukraine.

However, everything about this action was wrong.

The Patriarch attempted to reinterpret Church history and assumed the power to take over the situation in Ukraine, when Orthodox Christian ecclesiology says that no bishop (even a Patriarch) is permitted to impose his will outside his own See. Ukraine was not the territory of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, nor has it been for hundreds of years.

The people he lifted into power – Filaret Denisenko and Makary Maletich, both were formerly out of communion with canonical Orthodoxy, and Filaret is notable for having a terrible record with his priests, a common-law wife (forbidden for a bishop) and most notably, Filaret was also anathematized by the Russian Church for his actions.

Thirdly, the new church has yet to go on record with any statement at all about how its formation serves the will of God. This is because it cannot do so. The Orthodox Church in Ukraine exists as an ultranationalist thumb in the eye of Russia, even to the point some people in the new community said “now we have our own God. We don’t need the Russian God.”

This is a very bad sentiment because in the Orthodox Church there is only one God, and he does not pick between nations because of national identity.

To date, none of the other fourteen universally recognized Local Orthodox Churches has accepted the new Church and none of the local Churches are in communion with the OCU (Orthodox Church in Ukraine). Everyone who has said anything at all about this matter has rejected communion with schismatics, though a few monasteries on Athos did allow services with these people.

In essence, at this time the Patriarch has a new church on his back that no one wants but him. His statements that the other local Churches, namely Russia, will have no choice but to accept the OCU have not been proven right so far.

In fact, the pressure is running in the opposite direction.

Patriarch John X of Antioch, the oldest Christian Church in continuous existence, received a letter from Patriarch Bartholomew in response to the request by many leaders of local Churches to hold a pan-Orthodox discussion to resolve the dispute in Ukraine. According to the Union of Orthodox Journalists, the letter amounted to a slap in the face, borne of Patriarch Bartholomew’s own petulance, arrogance, and pettiness (We have added emphasis):

In a letter to the Primate of the Antiochian Orthodox Church, Patriarch John X, Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople declared that “he has good reasons” to refrain from a general Orthodox meeting on the Ukrainian church issue, reports the official website of the Russian Orthodox Church.

Patriarch Bartholomew called the discussion of the religious situation in Ukraine “useless” and reminded the Primate of the Antiochian Church of his refusal to participate in the Crete Council of 2016, which Constantinople had been prepar[ing] for a long time.

“After the four Orthodox Churches, from a church and theological point of view without a reason, refused to be present at the Ecumenical Sacred Council, for which there are no excuses, and your ancient Church was one of them, the Ecumenical Patriarchate has good reasons to refrain from such a meeting at the pan-Orthodox a level that will be useless since it will only lead to the agreement that the participants will disagree with each other,” wrote the Patriarch of Constantinople.

According to him, the autocephalous nature of the OCU became a reward for the Church of Ukraine, and the Phanar returned “to the fold of the canonical Church” the members of the UOC KP and the UAOC who were “unfairly” outside it. At the same time, Patriarch Bartholomew assures that he returned the schismatics to the bosom of Orthodoxy exclusively “following church traditions and canons.”

In other words, the Patriarch appears to be digging in. This situation is entirely wrong according to Church canons. The Patriarch is acting as though he has jurisdiction over all other Orthodox Churches, which is a position remarkably similar to that perceived by the Bishop of Rome prior to the Great Schism of 1054 which split the Roman Catholic Church apart from the other ancient Orthodox Patriarchates.

The result of that split was a slow disintegration of Christian integrity in the Roman Church, the eventual development of Protestantism and the present result of a severely degraded form of Christianity in the West, where the law of God is not considered at all, and one can essentially believe or act however they want and find a “church” that will back them up, or they will start their own.

The current actions of the Ecumenical Patriarch have caused concerns, even fears, of a new split in the Orthodox Church, and with the present geopolitical climate being strongly anti-Russian, there is a lot of thought that the United States is influencing and encouraging the split in order to isolate both Russia and its Orthodox Church, which is the largest and strongest in the world at this time.

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