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Sochi, site of the Winter Olympic Games, has all the markings of being a total disaster. Like Ishtar, but with a bigger body count. Though the Games have not yet begun, reporters from around the globe are beginning to descend on the so-called resort town. What has greeted them is nothing more than poorly produced modern-day relics of the Potemkin Village known as Russia.
Chicago Tribune reporter Stacy St. Clair exposed the problem, and the comic relief. First, a photo of two glasses of yellow-ish/rust-ish third world "water." With the photo, a tweet from St. Clair stating:
My hotel has no water. If restored, the front desk says, "do not use on your face because it contains something very dangerous." #Sochi2014
What I wouldn't give for St. Clair to bring some of that back to the States so it could be properly examined! However, since I don't wish for reporters to be carriers of biological agents from Russia, I should hope that she does the prudent thing and leave them behind. (Just take a swab with a Q-Tip. OK? If it works for Law and Order, it should work for this!)
St. Clair brought levity to the situation, also tweeting:
Also on the bright side: I just washed my face with Evian, like I'm a Kardashian or something.
That tweet made me follow her immediately.
Other reporters were met with their own calamities. Hotels not completed, lobbies with no floors, elevators that don't work. Sidewalks with open drain pipes - literally, someone forgot to put the covers on - and curtain rods that don't stay up. And one sign that asked users to please not flush toilet paper down the toilet. You know, for health reasons.
Sure, one could say, there are problems. But the Russians will get them fixed. Why is everyone picking on them? What's that famous Russian expression again? Oh, that's right - It's just some glitches!
But it's not. It's a problem endemic of these games; That when the world is watching, Russia is unable to show a game face of competence. $51 billion has been spent on the game, and Russia couldn't finish building hotels. They can't get potable water to reporters who report - to news outlets worldwide! - what's happening at the Games.
I thought these former KGB'ers were experts at propaganda?
All that money, and security is still suspect at best. The constant specter of an attack has gone from long-shot possibility to an unfortunate and utterly frightening "place your bets!" with odds at near even. While President Obama has said that Russian President Vladimir Putin has shared security details with him, DCI Advisory President Steven Yates is hard pressed to believe that anything of detail or of quality has been shared. On FOX News, he declared that the Super Bowl will have far better security than will be seen in Sochi. If something happened in Sochi, Yates asks, "Would the Russians be really open to international intervention to help?"
I have wished nothing but a safe trip for the athletes, and their safe return home. And I still do. Now I add the reporters to the list, as "Dangerous Face Water" may be more terrifying, and more damaging, than luge.