Vladimir Putin

Putin Promises Increased Syrian Airstrikes After Confirming Bomb Destroyed Passenger Plane


Vladimir PutinThe Kremlin officially confirmed today that the passenger plane that crashed over Egypt weeks ago was brought down by a bomb, and that Vladimir Putin will pursue revenge against those responsible.

In the wake of the crash that left 224 dead in the Sinai Peninsula, U.S. and foreign investigators have been taking action based on intelligence reports that strongly suggest a bomb was planted on the plane. Security chief Alexander V. Bortnikov spoke at a late-night meeting of Russia’s security council, according to the New York Times, and gave the first definitive confirmation that the country was recognizing the act as terrorism.

While the Russian government previously called for letting international investigations run their course, Bortnikov concluded that explosive materials were smuggled on board and Putin would take action against those responsible. While it is still inconclusive as to whether this was the work of ISIS, as its affiliates have claimed previously, the Kremlin said the group has exported terrorism to other countries and that there would be an increase of airstrikes in Syria.

“We will search for them everywhere, no matter where they are hiding,” Putin said. “Our military work in Syria must not only be continued, but strengthened so that criminals understand that punishment is inevitable.”

This marks an increase of activity against ISIS in Syria, seeing as their stronghold in Raqqa has been bombed by the French over the past few days in retaliation for the attacks in Paris.

[image via shuterstock]

Ken Meyer

Putin Was Asked A Question About Obama, His Answer Will Drive Conservatives Crazy

Obama, Putin set for rare sit-down meeting: http://abcn.ws/1jptghP


Russian President Vladimir Putin was recently interviewed by Charlie Rose, who asked him a very delicate question about U.S. President Barack Obama. His answer is going to drive conservatives crazy.

In the Conservative Narrative of America – the fairy tale version of news and events promulgated by Fox News and their conservative politicos – President Obama is simultaneously a weak, tofu-eating liberal, and a Stalin-esque dictator out to crush American freedom under his angry Muslim fist. There is no internal challenge to explain the inherent contradiction in these two versions of Obama.

During an interview with Putin for 60 Minutes that aired Sunday night, Charlie Rose took the matter to the Russian premier. Rose asked Putin if he thinks Obama is weak, and Putin said no. Furthermore, Putin sounded considerably more human and contemplative than any U.S. conservative to whom Rose might have addressed the same questions. Here is the transcript of this section of the interview:

Charlie Rose: Let me ask you this, what do you think of President Obama? What’s your evaluation of him?

Vladimir Putin: I don’t think I’m entitled to give any views regarding the president. That’s up to the American people.

Rose: Do you think his activities in foreign affairs reflect a weakness?

Putin: I don’t think so at all. You see, here’s the thing, in any country– and in the United States, I believe this happens even more often than in any other country– foreign political factors are used for domestic political battles. There is a presidential campaign coming up, so they’re playing either the Russian card or some other.

Rose: Okay, but let me ask you this, do you think he listens to you?

Putin: Well, I think we listen to each other in a way, especially when it comes to something that doesn’t go counter to our own ideas about what we should and should not do.

Rose: Do you think he considers Russia, you said you’re not a superpower,  he considers Russia an equal and considers you an equal, which is the way you want to be treated?

Putin: (laughs) Well, you ask him. He’s your president. How could I know what he thinks?

How did we get to the point where the former-KGB, authoritarian leader of Russia can give a more balanced view of the U.S. president than his domestic political opponents?

The 60 Minutes interview comes at a time when U.S-Russia relations are at a post-Cold War low, and Putin is poised to address the United Nations over military intervention in Syria. Still the Russian leader managed more grace and diplomacy than the entire GOP clown car put together.

That’s unpleasant for Obama, but it’s far worse for Republicans, whose party is disintegrating around them.

10 things you need to now today: April 19, 2015

Darren McCollester / Getty Images

The Week

1.Hundreds of migrants feared dead in Mediterranean shipwreck 
An estimated 500 to 700 people went missing on Sunday after a boat ferrying migrants to Italy capsized north of Libya in the Mediterranean Sea. The 65-foot-long fishing boat sent a distress call overnight, but when another vessel approached the migrants huddled to the far side of the ship, causing it to capsize, according to the Italian Coast Guard. Close to 20 ships raced to rescue survivors, pulling 28 people from the water so far. Roughly 900 people are believed to have died this year trying to make the crossing.

Source: The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal

2.FBI admits to exaggerating forensic hair evidence for two decades
Almost every examiner in the FBI’s hair analysis unit repeatedly overhyped evidence to aid prosecutors over a two-decade period ending in 2000, according to The Washington Post. The finding comes from an ongoing review of cases conducted by the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and the Innocence Project in conjunction with the federal government. Per the review, 26 of 28 forensic hair analysts overstated evidence in 95 percent of the 268 trials examined so far. The FBI and Justice Department acknowledged the errors, saying in a statement they were “committed to ensuring that affected defendants are notified of past errors and that justice is done in every instance.”

Source: The Washington Post

3.Republican presidential hopefuls woo New Hampshire voters
A slew of declared and potential Republican presidential candidates trekked to New Hampshire this weekend for the two-day Republican Leadership Summit. Close to 20 prospective candidates — ranging from establishment types like New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Jeb Bush, to bottom-tier hopefuls like Donald Trump and John Bolton — used their stage time to discuss policy, ding the president, and assail presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. “When Hillary Clinton travels, there’s going to need to be two planes,” Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said. “One for her and her entourage, and one for her baggage.”

Source: CNN, Politico

4.Poland summons U.S. ambassador over FBI head’s Holocaust remark
Poland on Sunday summoned the U.S. ambassador to protest FBI Director James Comey’s recent comment casting some blame on Poland for the Holocaust. “The murderers and accomplices of Germany, and Poland, and Hungary, and so many, many other places didn’t do something evil,” Comey said in a speech last week, which was then adapted as an opinion piece in The Washington Post. “They convinced themselves it was the right thing to do, the thing they had to do.” Poland’s ambassador to the U.S. called the comment “unacceptable” and a “falsification of history.”

Source: Reuters

5.Senior Revolutionary Guard rejects weapons inspections
A high-ranking member of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard on Saturdayinsisted weapons inspectors would be barred from visiting military sites under any final nuclear agreement. “Iran will not become a paradise for spies,” Gen. Hossein Salami said. “We will not roll out the red carpet for the enemy,” he added, saying that inspections would amount to Tehran “selling out.” Under a framework agreement reached last month between the U.S., Iran, and five world powers, international inspectors would be granted access to Iran’s nuclear facilities.

Source: The Associated Press

6.Putin walks back anti-U.S. rhetoric
Speaking on Russia’s state-run Rossiya channel on Saturday, President Vladimir Putin admitted that Moscow and Washington have “disagreements,” but that “there is something that unites us, that forces us to work together,” according to Reuters‘ translation of the remarks. “I mean general efforts directed at making the world economy more democratic, measured and balanced, so that the world order is more democratic,” Putin said. “We have a common agenda.” Putin’s comments came two days after he told a Russian phone-in show that the United States wants “not allies, but vassals,” and is behaving like the former Soviet Union in its overreaching foreign policy.

Source: Reuters

7.ISIS claims to kill Ethiopian Christians
The Islamic State on Sunday released a video purporting to show the execution of two groups of captured Ethiopian Christians. The 29-minute video claims to show ISIS affiliates at two separate locations in Libya beheading or shooting to death prisoners, though a death toll was not immediately clear. Though the video has yet to be authenticated, it closely resembled previous ISIS propaganda videos depicting executions.

Source: CBS

8.California water board releases revised drought restrictions
California’s State Water Resources Control Board on Saturday released modified proposed conservation restrictions, adjusting the planned cuts based on water-saving efforts already underway. A former draft divided water suppliers into four tiers; the new framework places them into one of nine tiers — where water usage must be cut by anywhere from 8 percent to 36 percent — to “more equitably allocate” the restrictions. Water suppliers that do not meet their cuts could face fines of up to $10,000 per day. The board is expected to vote on the revised framework proposal in early May.

Source: The New York Times

9. Warriors open NBA playoffs with win
The NBA playoffs tipped off Saturday with the Golden State Warriors, owners of the best record in basketball, holding off the New Orleans Pelicans. Also Saturday, the Houston Rockets, Chicago Bulls, and Washington Wizards won the opening games of their first-round series. The playoffs continue Sunday with four more games.

Source: Sports Illustrated

10.Ringo Starr inducted into Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
Beatles drummer Ringo Starr was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on Saturday as a solo artist, making him the fourth and final member of the seminal band enshrined for his solo work. “As all the other drummers say, he just is something so special,” bandmate Paul McCartney said at the induction ceremony. The Hall’s 2015 class also included newcomers Lou Reed, Green Day, and Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble, among others.

Source: Rolling Stone

Obama’s Had a Helluva Good Month Since the Midterms

Mother Jones

So how have things been going for our bored, exhausted, and disengaged president? He’s been acting pretty enthusiastic, energized, and absorbed with his job, I’d say. Let us count the things he’s done since the November 4th midterm elections:

  • November 10:Surprised everyone by announcing his support for strong net neutrality.
  • November 11:Concluded a climate deal with China that was not only important in its own right, but has since been widely credited with jumpstarting progress at the Lima talks last week.
  • November 20: Issued an executive order protecting millions of undocumented workers from the threat of deportation.
  • November 26: Signed off on an important new EPA rule significantly limiting ozone emissions.
  • December 15: Took a quiet victory lap as Western financial sanctions considerably sharpened the pain of Vladimir Putin’s imploding economy.
  • December 16: Got nearly everything he wanted during the lame duck congressional session, and more. Democrats confirmed all important pending nominees, and then got Republican consent to several dozen lesser ones as well.
  • December 17: Announced a historic renormalization of relations with Cuba.

I guess you can add to that a non-event: In its second year, Obamacare signups are going smoothly and ahead of target. Am I missing anything beyond that? Maybe. It’s been quite the whirlwind month for our bored, exhausted, disengaged president, hasn’t it?

All of these things are worthwhile in their own right, of course, but there’s a political angle to all of them as well: they seriously mess with Republican heads. GOP leaders had plans for January, but now they may or may not be able to do much about them. Instead, they’re going to have to deal with enraged tea partiers insisting that they spend time trying to repeal Obama’s actions. They can’t, of course, but they have to show that they’re trying. So there’s a good chance that they’ll spend their first few months in semi-chaos, responding to Obama’s provocations instead of working on their own agenda.

Was that part of the plan? Beats me. But it seems to be working pretty well so far.


10 things you need to know today: November 15, 2014

Pro-democracy student leaders leave the airport after Chinese officials barred them from a Beijing-bound flight.

Pro-democracy student leaders leave the airport after Chinese officials barred them from a Beijing-bound flight. | (REUTERS/Tyrone Siu)

The Week

Second sign-up season begins for HealthCare.gov, Hong Kong pro-democracy leaders denied entry to Beijing, and more

1. Second sign-up season begins on HealthCare.gov website
A little more than a year after ObamaCare’s rocky rollout, the federal health insurance exchange website opened on Saturday for its second sign-up season. President Barack Obama used his weekly video address to urge Americans to get covered, or re-enroll if they had already used HealthCare.gov. “In part because this law is working, health care prices have grown at their slowest rate in nearly 50 years,” Obama said. [The Associated Press]


2. Chinese officials deny Hong Kong’s pro-democracy leaders entry to Beijing
Hong Kong student leaders Alex Chow, Eason Chung, and Nathan Law planned to take their demands for free, local elections to the mainland on Saturday, but Chinese authorities instead revoked the men’s return-home cards, barring them from boarding a Beijing-bound flight. The trio represents the Hong Kong Federation of Students, which, along with several other groups, is protesting the Chinese Communist Party’s decision that all candidates for Hong Kong’s chief executive position in 2017 must pass a vetting process. [Time]


3. Defense Department to boost nuclear spending by nearly $10 billion
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced on Friday that the Defense Department will increase spending on nuclear forces by 10 percent per year for the next five years, which comes out to nearly $10 billion. Hagel ordered two reviews of the U.S. nuclear forces in February, one by Pentagon officials and one by outside experts following reports alleging lapses in leadership, morale, and safety. “The… reviews show that a consistent lack of investment and support for our nuclear forces over far too many years has left us with too little margin to cope with mounting stresses,” Hagel said. [The Associated Press]


4. Vladimir Putin stations warships off Australia’s coast ahead of G-20 summit
Russian President Vladimir Putin directed four warships to be stationed off the northeastern coast of Australia, in advance of his scheduled attendance at a G-20 summit this weekend in Brisbane. Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott responded by sending three warships of his own to monitor the Russia ones, which are technically in international waters. Abbott accused Putin of “trying to recreate the lost glories of tsarism.” [The Associated Press]


5. House passes bill approving Keystone pipeline construction
The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill on Friday 252-161 allowing the federal government to go ahead with building the Keystone XL oil pipeline, which would move petroleum from Canada to Gulf Coast refineries. But the Democrat-controlled Senate is not expected to give the 60 votes necessary on Tuesday, and even if the bill did reach President Barack Obama’s desk, he has indicated he’d likely veto the legislation. [The New York Times]


6. USPS names first female Postmaster General
The United States Postal Service announced on Friday that Megan Brennan will take over for retiring Patrick Donahoe as Postmaster General in February. Brennan began working for USPS in 1986 as a letter carrier and rose to chief operating officer in 2010. Brennan will be tasked with leading an agency that suffered a $5.5 billion net loss this fiscal year. [Time]


7. Top U.S. general arrives in Baghdad to review ISIS operations
General Martin Dempsey arrived in Iraq on Saturday, his first trip there since President Barack Obama approved U.S. troop deployments to the region. “I want to get a sense from our side about how our contribution is going,” Dempsey said, referring to the U.S. military operations against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. In addition to air strikes, U.S. forces are carrying out training for Iraqi troops. Obama authorized sending up to 1,500 more U.S. troops to the region, in addition to the roughly 1,500 that are already deployed. [Reuters]


8. Four out of 10 new marriages involve remarriage
A new study from the Pew Research Center found that 42 million adults married in 2013 had been married before, almost double the number from 1980. Forty percent of all new marriages include at least one previously married spouse. The study credited the results to a rise in divorce rates, but also an aging population, “which not only increase the number of widows and widowers available to remarry, but means people quite simply have more years in which to make, dissolve, and remake unions.” [Pew Research Center]


9. Extreme storms on Uranus baffling astronomers
A team at the University of California, Berkeley reported on Wednesday that eight storms over the course of two days in August unexpectedly took place on Uranus. One of the storms was the brightest ever captured on the planet, lighting the usually “boring blue dot” up. “Why we see these incredible storms now is beyond anybody’s guess,” Heidi Hammel of the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, said. [UC Berkeley News Center]


10. Conde Nast settles lawsuit with former interns for $5.8 million
Conde Nast agreed on Thursday to pay $5.8 million to settle a class-action lawsuit filed by thousands of former interns who say they were underpaid during their time at the company. Lauren Ballinger and Matthew Leib, the lead plaintiffs, could receive about $10,000 each, while about 7,500 former interns dating back to June 2007 could receive payments ranging from $700 to $1,900. The company canceled its internship program in June 2013 after the lawsuit was filed. [Reuters, Deadline]


No attribution

When the entire world latches on to a cause via social media…anything is possible.

The Huffington Post

All across social media, celebrities and regular citizens seem to be dumping ice water on their heads to raise money for and awareness of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. In fact, the vast majority of Americans have avoided the ice bucket challenge so far, a new HuffPost/YouGov poll shows, though they’re willing to suggest other individuals get wet.

Sixty percent of Americans said they had “heard a lot” about the challenge. Far fewer said they had actually participated: Just 4 percent said they had donated money, and a mere 3 percent said they had dumped ice water on their heads. Another 2 percent said they’d done both.

Knowledge about ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease, remains limited as well. Only 21 percent of Americans said they are “very familiar” with ALS, while another 49 percent said they’re “somewhat familiar.” Twenty percent were “not very familiar” with the disease, and 10 percent were “not at all familiar.”

According to the ALS Association, as many as 30,000 Americans have the progressive neurodegenerative disease at any given time. New cases are diagnosed at a rate of about 15 a day.

Recently, the ice bucket challenge has been criticized by some observers as frivolous if the real point is to raise money for research. After all, by the terms of the challenge, dumping cold water on your head is a way out of donating.

But the survey shows most Americans aren’t buying the bad rap. Sixty-one percent said the ice bucket challenge is “a fun and effective way to raise money and awareness of ALS,” while only 28 percent said that “it’s silly and it would be better if people just donated money.”

Many public figures have posted videos of their cold showers already. Others face limits on their participation. Members of the House of Representatives and the military have been warned that government rules prohibit the use of official resources to promote or references to current military service in ice bucket videos. High-profile State Department diplomats have been barred from participating.

Those rules don’t bar us, however, from asking Americans which politicians they’d most like to see doused with ice cold water.

Asked to pick from a list of potential 2016 presidential candidates who they’d most like to see take the ice bucket challenge, Americans made former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton the runaway winner, with 51 percent choosing her. Sixteen percent opted for New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R), 15 percent for Vice President Joe Biden, 8 percent for Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), 6 percent for former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R), and 5 percent for Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.).

Support for Clinton didn’t vary much along party lines, though the motives may have differed widely. Fifty-seven percent of Republicans, 51 percent of independents and 46 percent of Democrats chose Clinton as the potential candidate they’d most like to see dump freezing water over her head.

Asked separately to pick a world leader for an international edition of the challenge, a 35 percent plurality of Americans rallied behind President Barack Obama, including 34 percent of both Democrats and Republicans. Unfortunately for them, Obama hasalready declined to dump ice water on his head, opting instead to give money.

Second and third place went to the leaders of countries with which the U.S. already suffers icy relations: North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, with 24 percent, and Russia’s Vladimir Putin, with 19 percent. Queen Elizabeth II was fourth with 17 percent, narrowly missing a challenge from America, since three nominations are the usual limit. (Both Putin and the queen have been challenged by others, though neither has responded.)

Germany’s Angela Merkel and Cuba’s Raul Castro took just 3 percent and 2 percent, respectively, in the HuffPost poll.

Remember When Vladimir Putin Was The Right-Wing’s Favorite World Leader?


Steve Marmel


Now read this:

John McCain Finds a Way to Blame ‘Cowardly’ Obama for MH17 Crash

Sen. John McCain | Screenshot

This simply sounds like sour grapes directed toward Obama supporters, but McCain and his ilk are not saying these things to upset Obama’s base.  Right-wing politicians are trying to stir up their Obama-hating base so they will come to the polls in 2014.  They’ll worry about 2016 after the mid-term elections.


When he appeared on MSNBC and CNN Thursday afternoon, shortly after news broke of the Malaysia Airlines passenger jet that had been shot down over Ukraine, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) warned that if Russia turned out to be responsible, there would be “hell to pay.” But by the time he joinedSean Hannity on Fox News last night, he had turned his outrage directly at President Barack Obama.

“It’s just been cowardly,” McCain said. “It’s a cowardly administration that we failed to give the Ukrainians weapons with which to defend themselves.” He speculated that the Russian separatists who allegedly shot down the plane “may not even have occupied and had access to these weapons, which apparently they got at an airfield,” if the U.S. had intervened earlier in the Ukrainian conflict with Russia.

McCain then told Hannity what he would do in response to the deadly crash:

“First, give the Ukrainians weapons to defend themselves and regain their territory. Second of all, move some of our troops in to areas that are being threatened by Vladimir Putin, in other countries like the Baltics and others. Move missile defense into the places where we got out of, like the Czech Republic and Poland and other places. And impose the harshest possible sanctions on Vladimir Putin and Russia. And that’s just for openers.”

And just like that, the likely accidental shooting down of a Malaysian plane carrying mostly Dutch passengers by Russian separatists in Ukraine is President Obama’s fault.

Watch video below, via Fox News:

NRA comes out against #BringBackOurGirls campaign

attribution: None Specified

If the Obama’s are for it, then their detractors are against it…no matter how sensible the issue.  Once again, it’s called Obama derangement syndrome

Daily Kos

The NRA outrage of the moment.

Jeebus, NRA, isn’t there anyone left in your organization who realizes how nutty you sound?

“[T]his month, in response to terrorists kidnapping 300 girls in Nigeria, First Lady Michelle Obama locked and loaded for battle with her own ‘selfie,’ with the unconditional surrender demand #BringBackOurGirls,” the NRA’s lobbying arm wrote in an editorial on its website. “Tyrants and terrorists, like murderers, rapists and robbers, understand only one thing: force. They laugh at, and are emboldened by, weakness. That is why it is important topreserve and promote the right to keep and bear arms. An armed citizenry deters violence.” […]

“Ms. Psaki’s and Mrs. Obama’s naiveté–thinking that Vladimir Putin or Boko Haram terrorists will change their ways because of tweets–would provide ample fodder for their ridicule, were we so inclined,” the NRA said. “But while we appreciate the value of maintaining a sense of humor in the face of things that are disagreeable, we do so only within reasonable limits. There is nothing funny in this instance.”

So how would we fix this? Should First Lady Michelle Obama have been packin’ heat in her photo? Holding up a sign in one hand and an assault rifle in the other, maybe chomping down on a cigar while tigers ride orcas in the background?

Anyway, the NRA thinks that hashtags embolden terrorists, because of course they do.

Tyrants and terrorists, like murderers, rapists and robbers, understand only one thing:  force.  They laugh at, and are emboldened by, weakness. That is why it is important to preserve and promote the right to keep and bear arms.  An armed citizenry deters violence.

Well, then get your heavily armed asses over there, fella. Them freedom bullets ain’t gonna fire themselves. Oh right, I forgot you don’t actually give a damn.

However, those of us who understand and value the Second Amendment will not forfeit the right to keep and bear arms, and we will not stake our personal safety on “#PleaseDontHurtMe” tweets.  Instead, we will exercise our right to arms, by acquiring the best arms for defensive purposes and becoming proficient in their use. And we will do everything possible in 2016 to help elect a president who understands the importance of maintaining strength, whether dealing with common criminals here at home, or with international criminals on the world stage.

Sigh. Again—there’s nobody on staff who might pipe up with a “you know, maybe let’s not open our mouths on this one? I think we’ll just look like asses.”

Oh, while we have the NRA’s attention: A suggestion. It seems like the becoming-proficient-in-their-use part could use some work. That’s supposed to be your actual day job, right?

Bummed George Bush laments how Putin ‘changed’

Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) and his U.S. counterpart George W. Bush (R) talk during a dinner at the NATO summit in Bucharest April 3, 2008.(Xinhua Photo)

In my opinion Putin never changed.  President George W. Bush was a lot like Putin back then.  Their national security methods were quite similar.  When the Bush administration ordered water boarding and other forms of torture, it was already the norm for Russia at the time.  No, Putin hasn’t changed…Bush simply retired and is no longer required to give those orders.

Bush has famously said that he looked into Putin’s eyes and saw his “soul”.  I suspect Bush simply saw a kindred soul back then…dark and evil.

The Week

Former President George W. Bush once remarked that he’d peered into Vladimir Putin’s and eyes and seen his soul. That soul, he now says, has “changed” for the worse.

In an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper, Bush said he truly believed Putin wanted to mend fences with the West when he was still in office. Bush pursued a closer relationship with Moscow during his tenure, and the Obama White House continued that effort in the early years of Obama’s presidency, too. But Bush said a spike in the price of oil convinced Putin to take a more militaristic, confrontational approach to the rest of the world of late, culminating with the situation in Ukraine.

“I think it changed his attitude,” Bush said. “And I think it emboldened him to follow in his game that pretty much zero-sum, you know, I win and you lose and vice versa.”

Bush did not say whether he would as a result be painting a new portrait of the Russian leader to jibe with his new assessment of the man.

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