It's all quite eerily familiar, isn't it? In Russia, critics of Putin disappear from the Kremlin-controlled media, which proves a quite effective way to strangle the message of opposition. Last fall, a prominent political analyst named Mikhail Delyagin had sme harsh words to say about Putin diring the taping of a political roundtable discussion. When the show aired, Delyagin was nowhere to be seen - except for the few frames where his disembodied legs were visible, where the technicians, working in haste, missed them. Actors who cracked jokes about Putin and Medvedev at Russia's equivalent of the Oscars last spring were expunged from the telecast. A rock band had shows canceled after some members took part in an opposition rally.
Merkel modifies her tone on climate change A year after she squared off against the leaders of other nations over the issue of climate change, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has modified her tone on some issues and fallen silent on other key environmental policies. The one opponent she can't bear to face, it would seem, is the German voter. The heady days of bold leadership are gone. Climate policy today is a completely different animal than it was in those illustrious days. On Friday of last week, the Bundestag, Germany's federal parliament, debated climate protection in the automotive and air transportation industries. The chancellor was absent. Not a single cabinet minister attended the debate, nor were any of the parties' parliamentary leaders present.
Supreme Court limits money laundering laws In a blow to prosecutors the supreme court has ruled that concealing money to move it outside the United States is not de facto evidence of criminal wrongdoing. Prosecutors, the court ruled, must prove intent, assertion is no longer sufficient. In a second ruling, the high court found that the law against money laundering applies only to the profits of an illegal operation, not all of the cash it generates. A Washington lawyer who represents white-collar defendants said the justices were concerned about the law being used too broadly. "The decisions today [Monday] significantly raise the bar for prosecutors to prove money laundering charges," said Jeffrey T. Green, who filed a friend-of-the-court brief for the National Assn. of Criminal Defense Lawyers.