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Vladimir Putin berated the US this weekend in terms that echoed the Cold War. Is the New Russia looking more like the old?  We look at Kremlin takeovers of energy and the  media.  What about the imprisonment and mysterious killings of business rivals and political critics?   Plus, Iran denies US charges that it armed Shiite groups in Iraq with armor-piercing weaponry.  On Reporter's Notebook, the Dixie Chicks and the politics of pop music.

Main Topic Resurgent Russia, Friend or Foe?

The US may not want to resume the Cold War, but Vladimir Putin's Russia shows signs of returning to Soviet-style authoritarianism. The Kremlin is taking over powerful industries and the media. Political critics, business rivals and reporters have been murdered in mysterious circumstances. In Munich this weekend, Putin used an international forum to berate the US for destabilizing the world by ignoring international law. Defense Secretary Robert Gates and the Bush Administration are playing it down, but what does Putin's aggressiveness mean--at home and abroad?  We get perspective from journalists and Russia experts, including the attorney for Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the former head of Yukos Oil, who is serving time in a Siberian prison for fraud and tax evasion.

Fred Weir, Christian Science Monitor (@fredweir3)
Robert Amsterdam, attorney for Mikhail Khodorkovsky
Dmitri Trenin, Carnegie Moscow Center (@DmitriTrenin)

Making News Military Offers Evidence of Iran Arming Iraqi Shiites

Iran is angrily denying US charges that it supplied Shiite groups in Iraq with armor-piercing weaponry. There's still talk about the nature of the briefing where American officials revealed their "evidence."  However, once again, the big news today from Baghdad is deadly violence.  Liz Sly is Baghdad Bureau Chief for the Chicago Tribune.

Liz Sly, Washington Post (@lizsly)

Reporter's Notebook Dixie Chicks Find Vindication, Take Home Five Grammys

Two weeks before the Iraq invasion, the Dixie Chicks' lead singer Natalie Maines told a London audience, "We're ashamed the President of the United States is from Texas."  The group was banned on country radio. But that was then and this is now.  Last night the Dixie Chicks won all five of the Grammy Awards for which they were nominated. Their big hit, "Not Ready to Make Nice," is an unapologetic response to Maines' comment about President Bush. We hear more about the politics of pop music from Geoff Boucher of the Los Angeles Times.

Geoff Boucher, staff writer for the Los Angeles Times

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