Supreme Court meets in secret re Rustavi 2, Patriarch head of security resigns in widening church scandal, Visa free starts 28 March, Janalidze in Switzerland, US House members visit, EU Energy Community boss visits Tbilisi, Karabakh heats up, Aliyev supports Southern Line, NATO says closing Abkhaz checkpoints bad idea, Abashidze and Karasin spar over recognition, name of second Congo hostage released, Uzbek American held in Batumi for extradition name not released, Israelis say no more Georgian asylum, Girchi not prosecuted for weed plants, Otsneba and presidential elections, 12 Georgians this year abducted on the ABL, Interior Minister buys 100 thousand kilos of chocolate Because, Iran and German tourism up, new 285 mil IMF deal, growth high, Beirut flights, new whiskey, Aerosmith sells out, Kalashnikova wins, Judo two golds, Kobakhidze award, new messed up surveillance law, chess boats, Pmoerantsev in Georgian

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  1. The MEME this week is a video featuring a restaurant in New York City that serves adjarian khachapuri. Made for non-Georgians, the video explains what an adjaruli is, and, more importantly, how to eat one. It’s pretty amazing to watch the reaction of someone encountering an adjaruli for the first time.
    Link: http://bit.ly/2lD96SO


    Social Science in the Caucasus looks at voting habits among young Georgians. Sixty-two percent of people ages 18 to 35 reported having voted in the parliamentary elections last October, compared to 75 percent of those ages 36 to 55 and 86 percent of those ages 56 and up. People in the younger age group were also the most likely to report that they didn’t vote because they’re not interested in politics.
    Link: http://bit.ly/2mwUusg

    Will Cathcart, who often writes about Georgian issues for The Daily Beast and Vice News, has a heartfelt piece in USA Today this week. Addressing the possibility that GOP lawmakers could repeal the Affordable Care Act, he tells his personal story. Will has cystic fibrosis, a rare lung disease. He’s made it this far due to the medication Kalydeco, something that he absolutely wouldn’t be able to afford without health insurance. Because the individual mandate requires younger, healthier Americans to buy insurance, the Affordable Care Act made it financially feasible for his insurer to cover his pre-existing condition, even though Kalydeco costs about 300,000 dollars per year.
    Link: http://bit.ly/2mJo62s

    Writing for the Atlantic Council, Ariel Cohen expresses the opinion that the Trump-Putin honeymoon is already over. Russian state-sponsored media have been instructed to reduce their coverage of the US President, new National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster is a known Russia hawk, and at the Munich Security Conference last month, US representatives including Vice President Mike Pence reassured US allies by saying that Russia should uphold the Minsk II ceasefire agreement in Eastern Ukraine. Also, White House spokesman Sean Spicer said that Trump expects the Russian government to return Crimea to Ukraine.
    Link: http://bit.ly/2migzun

    The Sun reports that several international boxers have faked their stats to line up high-paying fights with British boxers. Several of the boxers it mentioned are Georgian; GOGITA GORGILADZE, BEKA LOBJANIDZE, GIORGI BEROSHVILI, DAVID GEGESHIDZE, and ZURAB NONIASHVILI. A source told the paper that Lobjanidze’s manager created fake records to promote his fights in the UK. One Georgian boxer said anonymously that only three of his listed fights were real, and that he has never had a legitimate medical check.
    Link: http://bit.ly/2mwXaq4

    Inge Snip writing for EurasiaNet covers the recent string of labor protests taking place in Tbilisi and Rustavi. She focuses on retail workers at Fresco and Biblus. In both cases, workers took to social media to voice their dissatisfaction about poor working conditions and low salaries. The National Movement government dismantled the Labor Inspection Department, which made life easier for companies but left workers unprotected. Otsneba promised they would improve the situation, but in the view of many workers and protesters, they’ve done very little.
    Link: http://bit.ly/2lY76HB

    Also for EurasiaNet, Michael Cecire writes about the potential for Georgians to get visa-free travel to Russia. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov recently made some insensitive and poorly-reasoned arguments where he said that Russia is reluctant to liberalize visas with Georgia because the country is a transit route for terrorists; in fact it’s the opposite, terrorists are crossing into Georgia from Russia. It’s also hypocritical, because Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan have visa-free regimes with Russia, and citizens of both countries have joined Daesh in large numbers. In Cecire’s view, the comments can be read in two ways. First, it’s Russia presenting the idea of visa liberalization as a reward for Georgia adopting a more accommodating stance toward Russia. On the other hand, it might be a backhanded admission that Russia needs Georgian cooperation on regional security issues.
    Link: http://bit.ly/2lwA4uN

    The 2016 Global Hunger Index considers Georgia to have a low level of hunger compared to other developing countries around the world. According to the index, it has higher levels of hunger than Kazakhstan, Serbia, and Russia, but lower levels than Bulgaria, Armenia, and Kyrgyzstan. The Global Hunger Index is prepared by the International Food Policy Research Institute.
    Link: http://bit.ly/2lwjriU

    The long-running political comic strip Doonesbury references Georgia in its newest edition, which features the return of president-for-life Bmzklfrpz as a member of the US president’s foreign policy team.
    Link: http://bit.ly/2migaIo

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