90.9 WBUR - Boston's NPR news station
Top Stories:
PLEDGE NOW
Putin’s Games And Putin’s Russia

As the world watches Sochi, Russia and Vladimir Putin, we’ll look at the Olympic Games and their host.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, declares the 2014 Winter Olympics open as United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, right, looks on during the opening ceremony, Friday, Feb. 7, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. (AP)

Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, declares the 2014 Winter Olympics open as United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, right, looks on during the opening ceremony, Friday, Feb. 7, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. (AP)

If you spend $50 billion and gather the world’s top winter athletes on a snowy mountainside, you’re going to get attention.  Russia’s got it right now – for better and worse – in Sochi.  For better – well, the vistas are beautiful, it hasn’t blown up, and the athletes are great.  The skates and skis and snowboards are, for most, irresistible.  For worse – Russia can come across as the angry, iron-fisted private preserve of President Vladimir Putin, pumped up on oil and gas money and ready to smack down anybody who complains.  This hour On Point:  the Sochi Olympics, and Putin’s Russia.

– Tom Ashbrook

Guests

John Cherwa, deputy sports editor at the Los Angeles Times. (@jcherwa)

Gregory Feifer, Europe editor at the Global Post. Author of “Russians: The People Behind The Power.” Also author of “The Great Gamble.” (@gfeifer)

Julia Ioffe, senior editor at The New Republic. Former Moscow correspondent for Foreign Policy and The New Yorker. (@juliaioffe)

From Tom’s Reading List

Los Angeles Times: Sochi Olympic organizers prepare for a rainy — and sunny — day –“The 2014 Sochi Games will take place 1,000 miles south of Moscow, at a Black Sea resort that qualifies as one of only a few Russian cities with a subtropical climate. If that seems less than hibernal, the organizers insist they can stage a successful competition no matter what kind of weather there is over the next month.”

New York Times: A Triumph for Putin, if Not for the Rest of a Sagging Russia –“Now, as the first events begin, the Games have for Mr. Putin and his allies become a self-evident triumph of Russia’s will. The avalanche of criticism that has already fallen, from minor complaints about ill-prepared hotels and stray dogs to grave concerns about the costs, security and human rights, is being brushed away like snowflakes from a winter coat.”

The New Republic: Russians Think We’re Engaging in Olympic Schadenfreude. They’re Right. — “There’s a fine line between fair criticism and schadenfreude, and the Western press has been largely well on the side of the latter. I’d also argue that there’s something chauvinistic, even Russophobic in it. The Europeans may not be ready for their Olympics, but, okay, we’ll give them the benefit of the doubt and hope for the best. The Chinese prepare for theirs ruthlessly, but we don’t understand them so whatever. ”

Read An Excerpt Of “Russians” By Gregory Feifer

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
ONPOINT
TODAY
Mar 6, 2015
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu waves as he speaks before a joint meeting of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, March 3, 2015. Since Republicans took control of Congress two months ago, an elaborate tug of war has broken out between GOP lawmakers and Obama over who calls the shots on major issues for the next two years. (AP)

Netanyahu’s speech. Hillary Clinton’s email. Obamacare back at the high court. A stunning start to the Boston Marathon bombing trial. Our weekly news roundtable goes behind the headlines.

Mar 6, 2015
"The Sellout" is novelist Paul Beatty's new book. (Courtesy Farrar, Strauss & Giroux)

Author Paul Beatty’s novel “The Sellout” is a satirical look at race relations in America. He joins us.

RECENT
SHOWS
Mar 5, 2015
One in four women use psychiatric medication. The reasons for the medication aren't always so clear. (Flickr)

Are American women being prescribed psychiatric drugs – anti-depressants, anti-psychotics — for normal emotions? We’ll hear out one psychiatrist’s bold claim.

 
Mar 5, 2015
A car passes a memorial for Michael Brown, who was shot and killed by Ferguson, Mo., Police Officer Darren Wilson last summer, Tuesday, March 3, 2015, in Ferguson. A Justice Department investigation found sweeping patterns of racial bias within the Ferguson police department, with officers routinely discriminating against blacks by using excessive force, issuing petty citations and making baseless traffic stops, according to law enforcement officials familiar with the report.  (AP)

The big Justice Department report finds a pattern of racial bias in the Ferguson Police Department. Now what? We’re back in Ferguson – and beyond — for answers.

On Point Blog
On Point Blog
Answers To Your Questions On Black Holes
Tuesday, Mar 3, 2015

Yale University’s Priyamvada Natarajan answers your black hole questions in full. (Well, most of them.)

More »
Comment
 
Want To Listen To Lead Belly? Here’s Where To Start
Monday, Mar 2, 2015

Loved our show on Lead Belly, but unsure on where you should start to listen? Jeff Place of the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage offers his best picks for a beginning Lead Belly listener.

More »
Comment
 
Our Week In The Web: February 27, 2015
Friday, Feb 27, 2015

We won’t lead you into a debate on the color of #TheDress (it’s blue and black, end of debate), but we do wonder about the blurring lines between so-called Internet culture and general popular culture. Also, it’s snowing in Boston. Still.

More »
Comment