Tag Archives: Vladimir Putin

Putin Escalates: Gets Permission To Move Russian Troops Into Crimea

Main Entry Image

A soldier without identifying insignia mans a machine gun outside the Crimean parliament building shortly after several dozen soldiers took up positions there on March 1, 2014 in Simferopol, Ukraine. | Sean Gallup via Getty Images

The Huffington Post

Russia’s parliament granted President Vladimir Putin permission to use the country’s military in Ukraine and also recommended Saturday that Moscow’s ambassador be recalled from Washington over comments made by President Barack Obama.

The unanimous vote in an emergency session formalized what Ukrainian officials described as an invasion of Russian troops in the strategic region of Crimea. With pro-Russian protests breaking out in other parts of Ukraine, Moscow now could send its military elsewhere in Ukraine.

“I’m submitting a request for using the armed forces of the Russian Federation on the territory of Ukraine pending the normalization of the socio-political situation in that country,” Putin said before the vote.

Putin’s call came as pro-Russian demonstrations broke out in Ukraine’s Russian-speaking east, where protesters raised Russian flags and beat up supporters of the new Ukrainian government.

Russia’s move sharply raised the stakes in the conflict following the ouster of Ukraine’s pro-Russian president last week by a protest movement aimed at turning Ukraine toward the European Union and away from Russia. Ukraine has accused Russia of a “military invasion and occupation” — a claim that brought an alarming new dimension to the crisis, and raised fears that Moscow is moving to intervene on the strategic peninsula where Russia’s Black Sea fleet is based.

President Barack Obama warned Moscow on Friday “there will be costs” if Russia intervenes militarily. In Saturday’s parliamentary session in Moscow, one Russian legislator said Obama had crossed a “red line” and the upper house recommended the Russian ambassador in Washington be recalled. It will be up to Putin to decide whether that happens.

In Crimea, the pro-Russian prime minister who took office after gunmen seized the regional Parliament claimed control of the military and police there and asked Putin for help in keeping peace, sharpening the discord between the two neighboring Slavic countries.

Ukraine’s acting president, Oleksandr Turchynov, said the election of the election of Sergei Aksyonov as prime minister of Crimea was invalid.

It was the latest escalation following the ouster of Ukraine’s pro-Russian president last week by a protest movement aimed at turning Ukraine toward the European Union and away from Russia.

Ukraine’s population is divided in loyalties between Russia and Europe, with much of western Ukraine advocating closer ties with the European Union while eastern and southern regions look to Russia for support. Crimea, a semi-autonomous region of Ukraine, is mainly Russian-speaking.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk opened a Cabinet meeting in the capital, Kiev, by calling on Russia not to provoke discord in Crimea.

“We call on the government and authorities of Russia to recall their forces, and to return them to their stations,” Yatsenyuk was quoted as saying by the Interfax news agency. “Russian partners, stop provoking civil and military resistance in Ukraine.”

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10 things you need to know today: December 23, 2013

Non-critical United Nations staff are relocated out of South Sudan on Dec. 22 | (REUTERS/UNMISS/Handout via Reuters)

The Week

The ObamaCare enrollment deadline arrives, Americans get out of South Sudan, and more

1. Deadline hits for early 2014 ObamaCare coverage
A key deadline for ObamaCare enrollment has arrived. Monday is the last day most Americans can sign up for insurance on the Affordable Care Act exchanges to have their coverage take effect on Jan. 1, as the law requires. Call centers have been beefed up to help consumers confused by the ObamaCare website’s botched launch and a flurry of late policy fixes. President Obama on Sunday urged those without coverage to sign up online. [PoliticoFox News]
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2. U.S. citizens evacuated from rebel turf in South Sudan
Fifteen Americans were evacuated from a United Nations compound in the rebel-held town of Bor in South Sudan on Sunday. The evacuation came a day after U.S. Special Operations forces tried to get the Americans out but had to turn back when their three Osprey aircraft came under small-arms fire that injured four American service members. President Obama said he would take further military action if necessary to protect Americans. [New York TimesAssociated Press]
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3. Apple’s China distribution deal lifts its stock
Apple stock jumped by 3.7 percent in pre-market trading on Monday after the company confirmed a distribution deal with China Mobile that will give the iPhone maker access to a market dominated by rival Samsung. The Chinese mobile carrier will be launching iPhone sales next month. Some analysts say iPhones are priced to high for Apple to expect big sales, but news of the deal gave U.S. stock index futures a boost early Monday. [CNBCReuters]
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4. Extreme weather turns deadly
Severe weather, including tornadoes, killed at least seven people as volatile conditions spread up the East Coast on Sunday. While many areas were hit with icy storms, Philadelphia and New York got record high temperatures. The temperature in New York’s Central Park hit 71 degrees, breaking a 1998 record of 63 degrees, and the wild weather in the area is expected to continue as temperatures plunge to near freezing by Monday night. [ReutersCNN]
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5. Appeals court declines to halt Utah gay weddings
A federal appeals court on Sunday rejected Utah Gov. Gary Herbert’s request for an emergency stay to prevent officials from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples after a lower-court judge ruled Utah’s gay-marriage ban unconstitutional. The state will ask the original judge to stay his own ruling on Monday as it pushes its appeal, arguing that gay couples rushing to get wed will be harmed if their marriages are later invalidated. [ReutersSalt Lake Tribune]
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6. Bangladeshi factory owners face charges for deadly fire
Police in Bangladesh on Sunday charged the owners of a garment factory with culpable homicide in connection with a fire that killed 112 workers last year. A series of recent tragedies — including the collapse of a factory complex in April in which more than 1,100 workers died — has spotlighted unsafe conditions in the world’s second-largest garment industry, but this is the first time factory owners have been prosecuted for negligence. [Associated Press]
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7. Al Qaeda says it is sorry for Yemen attack
Al Qaeda’s Yemen branch on Sunday issued a rare apology for an attack on a hospital attached to the Defense Ministry that killed 52 people in December. Qassim al-Rimi, commander of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninula, said in a video posted online that one of his fighters disobeyed an order not to enter the hospital. “Now we acknowledge our mistake and guilt,” al-Rimi said, promising “blood money for the victims’ families.” [Associated Press]
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8. Freed Pussy Riot members call their release a PR ploy
Two members of the punk band Pussy Riot were released from Russian prisons on Monday and promptly denounced their amnesty as a publicity stunt by President Vladimir Putin. The women were sentenced to two years for “hooliganism” after performing an anti-Putin song in a Russian Orthodox cathedral. They were due to be freed within three months, and said Putin let them out early to improve Russia’s image ahead of the Sochi Winter Olympics. [Voice of America]
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9. Rodman leaves North Korea
Former basketball star Dennis Rodman left North Korea on Monday without saying whether he had seen leader Kim Jong Un. The two established an unlikely friendship during Rodman’s two earlierbasketball diplomacy visits to the secretive communist state. The visit came a week after the execution of Kim’s once-powerful uncle sparked speculation about the future of his regime. [Associated Press]
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10. Manning breaks NFL record for touchdown passes
Peyton Manning threw his 51st touchdown pass of the season on Sunday, breaking Tom Brady’s NFL record. Manning threw four touchdowns — three of them in the fourth quarter — to lead his Denver Broncos to a 37-13 victory over the Houston Texans. Brady, meanwhile, won a record 11th division title as a starting quarterback when his team, the New England Patriots, beat the Ravens to win the AFC East crown. [Sports NetworkSBNation]

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10 things you need to know today: December 18, 2013

Right wing activists in New Delhi protest the U.S.’s treatment of an Indian diplomat.
(AP Photo/Saurabh Das)

The Week

The budget deal clears a Senate hurdle, India protests the arrest of a diplomat in New York, and more

1. Budget deal beats filibuster threat
A two-year bipartisan budget deal cleared a final major hurdle in the Senate on Tuesday, when a majority of 67 senators beat the threat of a GOP filibuster and approved a final vote on the measure. It could be approved as soon as Wednesday. The budget plan would restore $63 billion in automatic cuts to defense and domestic programs, while trimming the deficit by reducing military and federal employee pensions. [New York Times]
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2. India protests arrest of diplomat in New York
Indian officials reacted angrily on Tuesday to the arrest and alleged strip search of India’s deputy consul general, Devyani Khobragade, in New York City. Khobragade was accused of submitting false documents that overstated her housekeeper’s pay to secure the woman a work visa. Indian officials said Khobragade was mistreated before posting $250,000 bail. India reportedly retaliated by stripping some U.S. officials in New Delhi of diplomatic privileges. [New York Daily News]
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3. Russia gives Ukraine a bailout, sparking new protests
Russian President Vladimir Putin offered Ukraine a $15 billion bailout on Tuesday, and slashed gas prices to strengthen its ties with the financially struggling country. The move will help Ukraine avoid bankruptcy, but it prompted fresh protests in Kiev by crowds angry at Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich for dropping a proposed trade deal with the European Union and renewing the former Soviet republic’s close relations with Moscow. [Reuters]
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4. Harvard student charged with bomb hoax
Massachusetts prosecutors on Tuesday charged a Harvard undergraduate, Eldo Kim, with making a bomb threat that forced authorities to evacuate four buildings during final exams. Police said Kim, 20, sent emails to university police and administrators on Monday warning there were “shrapnel bombs” in the buildings, three of which were in historic Harvard Yard. The bomb-hoax charge is punishable with up to five years in prison. [Boston Globe]
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5. Hundreds die in clashes after South Sudan coup attempt
Fighting in South Sudan has killed up to 500 people as violence spread after an alleged coup attempt, United Nations diplomats said Tuesday. The oil-rich East African country’s government said it had arrested 10 high-ranking politicians accused of being involved in the plot, and was searching for their leader, a former vice president. The turmoil comes just two and a half years after South Sudan, Africa’s newest state, seceded from Sudan. [Associated PressReuters]
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6. Two dead in Reno hospital shooting
Two people were killed and another two injured Tuesday in a shooting spree at a Reno medical facility. Police said one of the dead was the alleged shooter, who appeared to have died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Investigators did not immediately say what firearm had been used, or what they believed to be the motive for the crime. [USA Today]
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7. Zimmerman painting fetches bids exceeding $100,000
A painting made by George Zimmerman, the man who shot Trayvon Martin but was acquitted on murder charges, had received a high bid of $110,100 on eBay as of early Wednesday. The 18-by-24-inch image features a blue American flag and part of the Pledge of Allegiance. “Everyone has been asking what I have been doing with myself,” eBay user therealgeorgez posted. “I found a creative, way to express myself” that “allows me to remain indoors.” [Los Angeles Times]
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8. U.K. police say Princess Diana was not murdered
British police said Tuesday that an investigation turned up “no credible evidence” to support suspicions that the British military had something to do with the deaths of Princess Diana, her boyfriend, and their driver 16 years ago. “Every reasonable line of enquiry was objectively pursued in order to fully evaluate any potential evidence,” London’s Metropolitan Police said in a statement concluding the inquiry. [CNN]
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9. Two winners share the second biggest U.S. lottery prize ever
Two winning tickets were drawn Tuesday night for a $636 million Mega Millions lottery jackpot. Alex Traverso, a spokesperson for the California Lottery, said the kitty might grow to $648 million once the numbers are tallied from last-minute sales, which Traverso said reached 25,000 tickets per minute. Either way, the prize will be the second largest lottery jackpot in U.S. history, falling just short of the $656 million record. [CBS/AP]
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10. Obama appoints gay athletes to Olympic delegation
President Obama sent a message of protest to Russia over its anti-gay law, passed earlier this year, by announcing Tuesday that the White House delegation to the opening ceremony of the Sochi Winter Olympics would include a gay athlete, former tennis champion Billie Jean King. The delegation will not include the president, first lady, or the vice president for the first time since the 2000 Sydney Summer Games. [USA Today]

 

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WTH is going on? – To some conservatives, Vladimir Putin is ‘the defender of Christian civilization’

Yes, that Putin. No, really.

Daily Kos

Oh look, the radical conservative American quote-unquote-”pastor” who helped form a vicious anti-gay movement in Uganda that led to the killing of publicly outed gay Ugandans is a huge fan of Vladimir Putin.

Last month a federal judge allowed a first-of-its-kind lawsuit to proceed against [Scott Lively] that alleges the pastor persecuted gays in Uganda and committed a potential “crime against humanity” — one that contributed to a bill that would have made homosexuality an act punishable by death. And yet the grey-haired 57-year-old has refused to quiet down.On his blog this month, Lively praised Putin as “the defender of Christian civilization” for signing this summer a ban on information that treats being gay as valid or attractive — and traced the idea to his own tour of Russia in 2006-7. Last week, Lively suggested Russian officials foil gay activists planning to rainbow-bomb the Olympics by flying a rainbow banner over the games so “the global homosexual movement” would be reminded that “the rainbow belongs to God!”

What the hell is going on? Have we abandoned irony forever, now that the staunch conservatives that saw communism as the be-all, end-all threat to humanity have shuffled into embracing the rather unambiguously creepy Russian leader and the nation’s latest restrictions of human rights—nay, even bragging about their connections to Russian politics? Is there anyone who was alive for even the smallest portion of the Cold War that thought Red Dawnconservatism would move into being pro-Russian-government?

Nope, apparently the hatred of gay Americans is greater than all those old fears of the creeping communist menace. John McCain and other old-schoolers keep trying to get them worked up about Russian plots and dangers and diplomatic machinations, but the social conservatives are too worked up about the Gays and the Muslims and the Obamas to even remember what they were supposed to be worked up about in the before-times. The enemy of my enemy isawesome.

Vladimir Putin, the “defender of Christian civilization.” There’s really no way of making fun of these people anymore, they do it to themselves before you ever get the chance.

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Friday Blog Roundup – 9-20-2013

John McCain takes on Putin

Late Night: Is the Pope Catholic?

Why do Republicans hate children?

Ted Cruz unmasks his own confidence game

13 Wounded as Gunmen Open Fire in Chicago Park

Obama hits the road as House Republicans vote in budget battle

Fox Panelists Agree: Successful Anti-Poverty Programs Are Useless

2014 election campaign is underway in battle for control of Congress

Putin: Gays face no discrimination in Russia, are depopulating Europe

Chris Hayes: ‘I cannot find one Republican who has anything constructive to say’

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10 things you need to know today: September 19, 2013

McCain slammed Putin for coddling dictators and rigging elections in Pravda

The Week

A Fed surprise boosts stocks, McCain slams Putin in Pravda, and more

1. The Fed unexpectedly decides not to slow its stimulus
Stocks indexes surged to record highs late Wednesday after the Federal Reserve, in a surprise move, said it would continue buying $85 billion in bonds and other assets every month to stimulate the economy. Investors had expected the Fed to taper off, but Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke said the job market hadn’t improved enough yet. With mortgage rates rising and Congress cutting spending, he said, the recovery could falter if the Fed cuts back now. [ForbesLos Angeles Times]
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2. McCain responds to Putin’s op-ed by slamming the Russian president… in Pravda
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of corruption and repression in an opinion article published Thursday on Pravda‘s English-language website. Responding to Putin’s recent New York Times op-ed mocking American exceptionalism, McCain said Putin coddles tyrants (including Syrian President Bashar al-Assad), jails dissidents, and rigs elections. “Russians deserve better than Putin,” he wrote. [Reuters]
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3. House Republicans push defunding ObamaCare despite the risk of a shutdown
Bending to pressure from Tea Party conservatives, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) on Wednesday unveiled a plan tying the money needed to keep the government open on Oct. 1 to stripping funding for ObamaCare. A vote is scheduled for Friday, although Democrats controlling the Senate flatly reject the proposal. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said GOP “anarchists” would rather force a disastrous shutdown than compromise. [New York Times]
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4. Navy Yard reopens three days after deadly rampage
The Washington Navy Yard reopened Thursday morning for the first time since a gunman, identified as Aaron Alexis, killed 12 people on Monday before he was shot dead by police. Investigators are still searching for a motive, although they know the former Navy reservist was paranoid and hearing voices. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel ordered a review of how Alexis, who worked for a defense contractor, got security clearance despite the red flags. [ABC NewsAssociated Press]
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5. Assad denies his forces used sarin gas despite U.N. evidence
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, in a defiant interview aired by Fox News Wednesday night, repeated his denial that his forces used chemical weapons. Assad blamed the Aug. 21 attack that the White House says killed 1,400 people on terrorist rebels. Buried inside a report by United Nations inspectors, however, is evidence indicating that rockets containing sarin were fired from areas controlled by elite military units loyal to Assad. [Fox NewsNew York Times]
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6. Second private company sends a spacecraft to the space station
Orbital Sciences Corp. on Wednesday successfully launched a two-stage Antares rocket carrying an unmanned Cygnus cargo ship to the International Space Station. The craft’s maiden flight would mark a significant milestone for NASA, giving it a second private company capable of resupplying orbiting astronauts. Space Exploration Technologies, or SpaceX, has already proved it can make the trip. [Orlando Sentinel]
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7. Facebook apologizes for ad with a photo of girl who committed suicide
Facebook on Wednesday banned a dating website that posted an ad with a picture of Rehtaeh Parsons, a 17-year-old who killed herself after images of her rape were posted online and went viral. The ad, purchased by Ionechat, included a photo of Parsons that had been featured in many stories about her suicide. “Find Love in Canada!” the ad said. Facebook apologized and quickly removed the ad, calling it a “gross violation of our ad policies.”[Think Progress]
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8. Iran releases prisoners as Rouhani heads to the U.S.
Iran unexpectedly freed 11 prominent political prisoners on Wednesday in a gesture of goodwill on the eve of a trip to the U.S. by the country’s new president, reformist cleric Hassan Rouhani. Analysts called the move a potentially significant step toward Rouhani’s pledge to repair the Islamist republic’s relationship with the U.S. Rouhani also said his administration “will never develop nuclear weapons.” [New York TimesMSNBC]
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9. Egyptian soldiers raid a pro-Morsi stronghold
Egyptian security forces clashed with Islamist gunmen on Thursday in a raid aimed at regaining control of a town, Kerdasa, near Cairo that is controlled by supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi. An Egyptian general was killed in the fighting. The army-backed interim government essentially pulled out of the area after an Aug. 14 attack on the town’s main police station left 11 officers dead. [Reuters]
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10. ’70s boxing great Ken Norton dies
Former heavyweight boxing champion Ken Norton died Wednesday at a Nevada medical facility, where he was recovering from a stroke. He was 70. Norton, the father of former NFL linebacker Ken Norton Jr., was known for a series of great bouts in the 1970s against Muhammad Ali. In 1973, Norton broke Ali’s jaw in their first fight, winning in a split decision, then lost a rematch six months later. Ali won their final contest in 1976. [CNN]

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Republicans Unite Behind Putin the Dictator In Order to Diss Obama

So much for American “patriotism”…

PoliticusUSA

With Republicans falling over themselves to hug Putin while aiding Assad in his messaging, and Putin following Republicans lead to take digs at “American exceptionalism” when Obama says it, it’s hard to know who the “bad guys” are these days.

So we get this from the New York Times: “Obama: Weak or the anti-Bush?”

So because Putin had an op-ed on the NYT in which he swaggered a lot (remarkably like another “dictator”, Bush — an accusation made by constitutional lawyers), Obama is loser. This is the conclusion of his usual detractors, and since many Republicans are saying it, it’s also become the takeaway and the trickle down among beltway auto-looping of the narrative of the day.

It’s as if there is no more time. It’s all done now. The weapons are turned over and Putin delivered on his promise and we have proof that even though Obama was talking to him, this was really all Putin’s idea (even though Putin hasn’t exactly proven to be such a long term thinker).

Or, reality: This is the BEGINNING of very tense negotiations that may or may not even work, and Putin did what he had because it turns out that President Obama is not someone to cross when it really matters. See, Obama is not the fantasy liberal pacifist the right thinks he is, nor is he the war-monger the far left thinks he is. People can’t see that Obama’s opponents are often very loud, but rarely victorious. This is not a “weak” person. That is one of the more ignorant arguments I’ve ever heard lobbed at Obama.

And of course, presidents, no matter how well intentioned, can’t control events. They can only control their reaction to events.

So Obama said Syria’s use of chemical weapons merited a military strike and he pushed for it. He also delayed the push by “bringing it to Congress” when he didn’t have to, making it clear that he was serious about the military strikes and wanted everyone to start discussing it. Eventually we got around to the atrocities – the very reason for his proposal – and that led to condemning them once they were backed up with evidence. This put more pressure on Putin and Assad both.

In the meantime, Obama has been talking to Putin for the last year and specifically at the G20 about this issue.

Suddenly Putin is on board, and Putin credits himself as do the Republicans. The media isn’t far behind. All hail the mighty Putin, President of Democracy! Oh, wait. The Navalny verdict.Oh well, this is the kind of guy Republicans, the media and even the far left can get behind. He’s a decider! He saved us all. He’s the good guy, not our own President.

Pssst: You might be wrong if you are so invested in hating Obama that you can’t bring yourself to even question your growing allegiance to a known dictator.

In Republican world, unless you kick the other person in the shin out of the blue, you’re weak. Republicans go for the most obvious and least effective display of power – the bully, the cowboy, the gun, the smirk, the Mission Accomplished banner.

So it’s not their fault that Republicans don’t recognize real power, especially when it’s used against them. It’s just a shame that our media doesn’t bother to see the big picture and can’t keep up with this President. Then again, who would want a president so average that the media left him or her in the dark.

We had a president who played for the media really well, but he was exceptionally bad at his real job. Maybe this is just like real life – the people who are always marketing themselves are often not the best at what they are marketing. And maybe the smarter leader doesn’t take a victory lap before anything has been accomplished. And maybe smarter people don’t get behind the preening id in the room, the “decider”, just because it’s comforting to pretend that things are that simple.

I’m not going to pretend Obama isn’t smarter than most people just so I can appear to be “fair”. He is, and it should be acknowledged; it doesn’t mean he’s infallible. A person of reason factors this into analysis of Obama’s decision making skills. Especially since Obama has proven in the past that he had a reason and a plan, and indeed, in his own autobiography admitted that he has a (sometimes rather cruel) penchant for being able to set others up from behind the scenes.

And now we have a dictator who was refusing to come to the U.N. table suddenly publicly pushing for Assad to turn over the chemical weapons, to much applause from the Republicans, who also can’t stop parroting Assad’s propaganda due to their Obama Opposition Disorder.

Thus, we are presented with a doofus decider preening for public acclaim and in the background, and a President who just silently got what he wanted. Who’s the smarter person?

Sorry, Obama isn’t going to play Kim Kardashian for the media and make splashy “news” for them with Mission Accomplished banners. This leaves them chasing after showboater Putin for the hits, which conveniently aligns them with the GOP once again and allows them to pretend that they are brave truth tellers who stand up to presidential power, when they aren’t selling you WMD for a decider.

 

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Vladimir Putin’s New York Times op-ed, annotated and fact-checked

(ALEXEI NIKOLSKY/AFP/Getty Images)

Russian president Vladimir Putin wrote a stunning (that word is subjective) op-ed piece to “The American People” last night.  Surprisingly it was not the usual rhetoric coming out of that geographical area for the last sixty years.  I recommend that everyone read the entire 800 word op-ed here.  The following is an annotated version.

The Washington Post

Russian President Vladimir Putin has an op-ed in today’s New York Times urging President Obama not to strike Syria. It’s a fascinating document — a very Russian perspective translated into American vernacular, an act of public diplomacy aimed at the American public and the latest chess move in the U.S.-Russia standoff over Syria, one in which we the readers are implicated. Putin does make a number of valid and even compelling points, but there is an undeniable hypocrisy and even some moments of dishonesty between the lines.

Below, I’ve annotated the op-ed, line-by-line, elaborating and translating at some points, fact-checking a bit in others. Putin’s writing is set off in italics; my notes are in plain text.

MOSCOW — RECENT events surrounding Syria have prompted me to speak directly to the American people and their political leaders. It is important to do so at a time of insufficient communication between our societies.

Relations between us have passed through different stages. We stood against each other during the cold war. But we were also allies once, and defeated the Nazis together. The universal international organization — the United Nations — was then established to prevent such devastation from ever happening again.

So far so good, and all true, establishing a baseline of coöperation on shared interests while acknowledging U.S.-Russia tensions.

The United Nations’ founders understood that decisions affecting war and peace should happen only by consensus, and with America’s consent the veto by Security Council permanent members was enshrined in the United Nations Charter. The profound wisdom of this has underpinned the stability of international relations for decades.

Putin here is implicitly defending Russia’s right to use its veto to block the United Nations from any action on Syria, including simple press releases condemning the use of chemical weapons. The U.N. Security Council veto system, which means that Russia can block any action just because it says so, was not a product of “profound wisdom” as  much as profound pragmatism. Countries don’t like to give up their power to other countries. After World War II, getting the world’s five remaining great powers (the United States, Britain, France, China and the Soviet Union) to consent to this newfangled United Nations system required granting them veto power so they’d be comfortable with it. This is what it took, but it wasn’t profoundly wise, and both Russia and the United States abuse their veto power plenty.

No one wants the United Nations to suffer the fate of the League of Nations, which collapsed because it lacked real leverage. This is possible if influential countries bypass the United Nations and take military action without Security Council authorization.

It’s true that the League of Nations collapsed because no one took it seriously, including the United States. But the United Nations survived the Cold War, which included lots of non-U.N.-approved military actions from — you guessed it — the United States and the Soviet Union. If the United Nations can survive the unilateral Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and the U.S. intervention in Vietnam, among many other wars large and small, it will survive cruise missile strikes on Syria.

The potential strike by the United States against Syria, despite strong opposition from many countries and major political and religious leaders, including the pope, will result in more innocent victims and escalation, potentially spreading the conflict far beyond Syria’s borders. A strike would increase violence and unleash a new wave of terrorism. It could undermine multilateral efforts to resolve the Iranian nuclear problem and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and further destabilize the Middle East and North Africa. It could throw the entire system of international law and order out of balance.

Continue reading here…

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The Fifth Column’s Blog Roundup – September 12, 2013

Toxic Inequality

Tech giants want NSA transparency

Trayvon Martin medical examiner fired

The rich got richer. The 99%? Not so much

Cops: Zimmerman iPad too busted to yield video

Pelosi: ‘New Low’ For GOP ‘Dysfunction And Disarray’

Pastor Arrested Before He Could Burn Qurans – ABC News

Obama quietly extends post-9/11 state of national emergency

Mercedes-Benz S 500 Plug-In Hybrid Offers Surprising Gas Mileage

Eric Boehlert: FLASHBACK: Bill O’Reilly Accuses NBC Of Being A “Fifth Column” For Putin

 

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10 things you need to know today: September 9, 2013

Serena Williams celebrates winning her women’s singles final match against Victoria Azarenka of Belarus at the U.S. Open on Sunday.

The Week

Assad denies using chemical weapons, Serena Williams wins the U.S. Open, and more

1. Assad says he hasn’t used chemical weapons
With a crucial Senate vote looming this week over authorizing military strikes against Syria, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad told CBS the U.S. had no proof that he ordered a chemical attack that killed 1,400 people in August. Secretary of State John Kerry said, “The evidence speaks for itself.” Kerry said Monday that Assad could prevent a U.S. attack by handing over his “huge stock” of chemical weapons. [ReutersWall Street Journal]
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2. Syria looms as lawmakers resume work on Capitol Hill
Congress returns to work Monday (after a five-week recess) with a full agenda that will be dominated, at least initially, by debate over authorizing military strikes against Syria. The Senate will take up the matter on Monday, ahead of an expected vote on Wednesday. A vote could follow next week in the GOP-led House, where a majority is leaning against giving President Obama a green light to order the strikes. [Fox News]
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3. NAACP leader steps down
NAACP President Benjamin Todd Jealous announced Sunday that he was stepping down by year’s end, after five years as the leader of the nation’s largest civil rights organization. He said he wanted to spend more time with his wife and two children, ages 7 and 1. Jealous, 40, was the youngest leader in the NAACP’s history when he took over. He has been credited with whipping the organization into financial shape and making it more social-media savvy. [USA Today]
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4. Putin ally is projected the winner of Moscow mayor’s race
Early results indicate that Sergei S. Sobyanin, the incumbent and an ally of Vladimir Putin, has narrowly won Moscow’s first mayoral election in a decade. Opposition candidate Aleksei A. Navalny, a Kremlin critic, challenged the count on Monday, however, saying Soyanin had not won the 50 percent needed to avoid a runoff. The election was considered a test of Putin’s power following 2011 and 2012 street protests over national elections. [New York Times]
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5. Brazilian TV says the NSA spied on Google and Petrobas
A week after broadcasting that the U.S. had spied on the presidents of Brazil and Mexico, the Brazilian network Globo is reporting that America’s National Security Agency also tapped into the computer systems of Google, the Brazilian state-owned energy firm Petrobras, and other companies. The report was based on documents journalist Glenn Greenwald received from NSA leaker Edward Snowden. [Reuters]
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6. Museum confirms discovery of unknown Van Gogh painting
The Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam announced Monday that it had confirmed the authenticity of a newly identified major painting by Vincent Van Gogh. The work, “Sunset at Montmajour,” was painted at the height of the artist’s career, during his time in the southern French town of Arles, when he also painted “Sunflowers,” “The Yellow House,” and “The Bedroom.” The museum will display the painting starting Sept. 24. [Bloomberg]
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7. Toddler dies in Yellowstone shooting
The National Park Service is investigating the shooting death of a 3-year-old girl in a campground at Yellowstone National Park. The child’s mother told authorities that the girl shot herself with her father’s pistol. The apparent accident came three years after a new federal law lifted a decades-old ban on the possession of firearms by visitors to most national parks. It was the first shooting death in Yellowstone since 1978. [Los Angeles Times]
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8. Tropical Storm Humberto could become the first hurricane of 2013
A depression near Africa in the east Atlantic strengthened to become Tropical Storm Humberto early Monday. If, as expected, Humberto continues to intensify, it could become the season’s first hurricane on Wednesday. Humberto would be the latest-developing first hurricane since the satellite tracking era began in the mid-1960s. Computer models suggest it might head north into the open ocean without threatening the U.S. [Sun-Sentinel]
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9. Rodman gushes about his friend Kim Jong Un
Former basketball star Dennis Rodman revealed new details about his second visit to North Korea in an interview with Britain’s Guardian on Sunday. Rodman said he had “a relaxing time by the sea” with the Hermit Kingdom’s leader, Kim Jong Un. Rodman confirmed the rumored birth of Kim’s baby daughter, and revealed her name, Ju-ae. Rodman also called Kim, who has threatened to rain nukes on the U.S., an “awesome guy” and a “good dad.” [Guardian]
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10. Serena Williams takes the U.S. Open
Serena Williams won the U.S. Open on Sunday, beating Victoria Azarenka 7-5, 6-7 (6-8), 6-1. The epic match marked Williams’ 17th Grand Slam singles title, putting her one behind Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova on tennis’ all-time list. Williams is having one of the best years of her career, winning nine tournaments so far and losing just four of her 71 matches. Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nada play in the men’s final on Monday. [USA Today]

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