Humanitarian crisis in Avdiivka

The New York Times at 6:30pm today shared this photo essay of citizens in Avdiivka. Pictured above: Bread was distributed by workers from the United Nations refugee agency. 

The town’s chief of emergency services and a British photographer were among the wounded.

We have had many flare-ups before and yet somehow the sides have pulled back, reverting to an uneasy, often violent static confrontational stance,” Alexander Hug, deputy head of the OSCE ceasefire monitoring mission in Ukraine, said on Friday.

Now however the stakes are even higher, there is a potential humanitarian and ecological disaster about to unfold,” he added.

From the TelegraphLocals and aid agencies warn of ‘humanitarian disaster’ as Ukraine fighting sparks diplomatic crisis

📷 Credit Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images

Nikki Haley

… is spineless. And Trump wants to abolish the U.N.

Presidential parallels

Greg Satell of Forbes shares the eerie parallels between the 2016 American and 2010 Ukrainian presidential elections:

The parallels don’t stop […] Both Yanukovych and Donald Trump often expressed admiration for Vladimir Putin and his authoritarian approach. Both hired Paul Manafort to smooth out their image and hone their populist rhetoric. Once in office, Yanukovych jailed his opponent, just as Donald Trump threatened to do to Hillary Clinton.

📷 AP Photo/Olexander Prokopenko

Ukrainian soul food

Potato and cheese pierogies or varenykyin Ukrainian are the ultimate comfort food. Enveloped in a silky dough of sour cream filled with a variety of simple ingredients, varenyky are a dumpling from Ukraine in Eastern Europe that anyone can enjoy at home. In the United States and Ukraine, or wherever Ukrainian diaspora have created lasting communities, one of the most popular and traditional varenyky filling are caramelized onion, potato, and cheddar cheese.

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This recipe works well with any sharp cheddar available in grocery stores. For further fillings, use the dough recipe below and then complete a simple Google search for mixtures such as sauerkraut, farmer’s cheese, fresh cabbage, mushrooms, berries, plum, and apple.

Varenyky are traditionally consumed in late 19th and 20th-century Ukrainian tradition with sour cream, more hot butter, and caramelized onions.

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Varenyky require a lot of time on your feet, so be sure to set aside 3-4 hours total from the start of the dough and filling, to the boiling of the last varenyk. Approximation and trial/error are techniques that can easily be practice in this recipe.

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Want to share your recipes? Install the open source recipe publishing tool for developers by Simmer.

Questions? Leave a comment below ☺️ Happy cooking! 🍴🍴🍴

Varenyky

This distinctly Ukrainian dumpling recipe can be made absolutely any time of the year, with any type of filling.

  • Yield: 65 varenyky

Ingredients

  • 5 c flour
  • 1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk
  • 1/4 c melted butter
  • 1/2 c sour cream
  • 1 c or so  water not cold
  • 2 c grated cheddar
  • 1 tbsp. kosher salt
  • 6 onions, diced
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 12 medium yellow potatoes, peeled
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • chopped fresh dill (optional garnish)

Instructions

Dough

  1. Beat eggs lightly, mix with flour. Add (sufficiently cooled) butter then sour cream.
  2. Slowly add water in increments. Set in kneading machine on low setting for 5-7 minutes until dough forms. (If by hand, knead a few minutes longer). Dough should be silky upon completion, not as dense as bread dough. Set dough aside in refrigerator for use later.

Potato Filling

  1. Cook diced onions in a pan with 2 TBS butter until caramelized and lightly brown.
  2. Cut and boil peeled potatoes until done. Drain water and add butter, grated cheddar, half the caramelized onions, and salt & pepper. Cover with lid to melt. Then use a potato masher to combine, not whip, the mixture.

Assemble the varenyky

  1. Roll out a portion of the dough with flour above and beneath the dough to easily pull it up. Use the top of a glass at least 3" in diameter to cut out as many circles in your flattened dough as you can fit. Recombine discarded dough to roll out with a new batch later.
  2. Use a melon baller or small ice-cream scoop to portion even amounts of potato filling into a single dough circle. To make the dumpling, stretch out top and bottom of dough circle to create an oval, place scooped mixture in center, and then attach top and bottom pieces of dough to form a "half-moon" around the potato filling. Finish by pinching the dough closed very tightly from edge to edge. Fold in and pinch in corners. Seal tightly so that no dumplings open during boiling later.
  3. Bring half a large pot of water to boil. Boil varenyky for 8-10 minutes, or until they rise to the top and simmer in the rolling water for a few minutes. Continually top off water and keep it boiling as you cook each batch after punching and sealing, in sums of about a dozen.
  4. Serve freshly boiled with remaining caramelized onions and a new dollop of sour cream. Add fresh chopped dill on top as an optional garnish.
  5. To freeze: organize batches of cooled varenyky into freezer gallon bags. You can easily fit a dozen into a single bag. Freeze, and then reheat by boiling or frying to prepare and eat as if they were just freshly made.

Adrian Chen on Russian Troll Farms

If you haven’t yet read Adrian Chen’s latest piece on Russian troll farms entitled “The Agency” featured in the New York Times June 2, 2015, I highly recommend it. If you read the language, be sure to check it out in Russian, too.

Troll farms in Russia have a rich history previously little documented. Trolls by their very definition are meant to “spoil” the Internet. Social media are just a few of their tools of digital warfare.

Adrian’s piece studies this phenomenon in a truly nail-biting tale of real world and online sleuthing. It ends with his own case of being set up as a Neo-Nazi supporter in a final assault meant to debase his credibility once the Russian agency became aware of his plans for the front page story. I first studied Russian trolling in my 2011 thesis on the subject for Columbia University. Trolls, at their very best, “get into the head” of their abuse victims.

A few days later, Soshnikov chatted with me on Skype. “Did you see an article about you on FAN?” he asked. “They know you are going to publish a loud article, so they are trying to make you look stupid in front of the Russian audience.”

I explained the setup, and as I did I began to feel a nagging paranoia. The more I explained, the more absurd my own words seemed — the more they seemed like exactly the sort of elaborate alibi a C.I.A. agent might concoct once his cover was blown. The trolls had done the only thing they knew how to do, but this time they had done it well. They had gotten into my head

Thankfully, there are some tell-tale signs of Russian trolling, which are covered in the article that can help most discerning readers separate fact from fiction, especially in the English language.

These techniques of modern warfare aren’t only limited to Russia, either:

As the Internet has grown, the problem posed by trolls has grown more salient even as their tactics have remained remarkably constant. Today an ISIS supporter might adopt a pseudonym to harass a critical journalist on Twitter, or a right-wing agitator in the United States might smear demonstrations against police brutality by posing as a thieving, violent protester. Any major conflict is accompanied by a raging online battle between trolls on both sides.

This June 10, 2015 piece, “Russian Propaganda Kills” at RFE/RL also provides a well-rounded picture of the current state of warfare caused by Russian trolls.

Fighting back

Today digital publications such as RFE/RLStopFake.org and many others have started to document the very real acts of deceit and abuse that Russian trolls carry out on an hourly basis and whose targets reach far around the globe.

As groups like ISIS and other inherently troll driven organizations like Russia’s Internet Agency continue to wage warfare on Twitter and beyond, the best solution is awareness building and careful understanding of one’s digital “surroundings.” A strong culture of technological security is what we need to ensure our future safety and sanity online.