Tag Archive: Vladimir Putin

Aug 10 2017

The Russian Connection: Browder, Magnitsky, and Putin

Just who is Bill Browder and why is he so important to the investigation into the Russian meddling in the US 2016 election? Sanctions, of course. William Felix Browder is a 53 year American who is the Chief Executive Officer and co-founder of the investment fund Hermitage Capital Management (“Hermitage”), an investment firm that at …

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Jul 06 2017

The Russian Connection: Trump, G-20 and Putin

Donald Trump is in Europe again displaying his ignorance bigly. His first stop was in Poland where he was assured of a warm welcome by crowds bused in by the conservative government. He then proceeded to bash CNN, MSNBC, Barack Obama and America’s own intelligence agencies. He flew to Hamburg where he will meet for …

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Jul 28 2016

Some Would Call This Treason

In 1968, GOP presidential candidate Richard M. Nixon conspired with a foreign government to scuttle the Paris Peace Talks and the election of his Democratic opponent Vice President Hubert H Humphrey. From the FBI wiretaps, (President Lydon B.) Johnson quickly learned about the role of Nixon campaign official (and right-wing China Lobby figure) Anna Chennault …

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Jul 25 2016

The Putin Connection

The Republican nominee for president has deep ties to Russia and it’s head of state Vladimir Putin that long preceded his friendship with Paul Manafort. And, as Charlie Pierce said, this should raise alarm bells for anyone concerned about democracy. Pierce leads us to an in depth article by Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo …

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Jul 19 2014

Stop Listening to Morons

Surface To Air Missiles Kill People

I know I’m a silly and naive hippie. Very Serious People know the importance of arming the rebels, and the rebels of the rebels, and of the governments fighting the rebels, and of the random people who might just be good guys today but who knows about tomorrow, because it’s what we know how to do and our friends get rich in the process.

But, you know, weapons kill people. That’s what they’re for.

Atrios

We need to stop arming morons but most of all we need to stop listening to them.

In the wake of the tragic crash of Malaysian Air Flight 17 yesterday that took the lives of 290, there is a lot of ranting and finger wagging among war hawk conservatives who believe this tragedy could have been averted of we had just given the new Ukrainian government weapons. Considering the clear possibility that the plane was taken down by a Russian made Soviet era surface to air missile, the logic of these neo-cons is baffling. The US backing, arming and training rebels and rogue governments hasn’t worked very well in the past and isn’t working out very well today in either the Middle East or Latin  and South America

Charlie Pierce thinks we should stop listening to morons, in particular a couple of our elected morons, who have never seen a war they didn’t like or a terrorist under every rock, want more weapons and more war. Sen. John “Bomb, Bomb, Bomb Iran” McCain (R-AZ):

“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,” [..]

“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.”

This from the man who wanted to arm the Syrian rebels who were affiliated with Al Qaeda, some of whom are now trying to overthrow the American backed Iraqi government. John, please, just please, retire.

And of course the call for throwing more weapons into the mix wouldn’t be complete without some good ol’ fear mongering for Rep. Peter King (R-NY)

“[W]e need more leadership from the president,” King, a member of the House Homeland Security Committee, said on MSNBC. “He gave this a passing reference in his speech in Delaware, then went on to tell Joe Biden jokes and take the usual shots at Republicans – which is fair game, but not on this day – and then to go to New York and go to two fundraisers. I mean, I can’t imagine [former Presidents Dwight] Eisenhower or [John F.] Kennedy or [Ronald] Reagan doing that.”

Ronnie Reagan? Seriously. The man who slept through the downing of Korean Air Lines Flight 007 over the Kamchatka Peninsula by Soviet forces in 1983 and took three days to make a statement? Pete, get a grip

More of what Charlie said about arming morons:

I often refer to the scene featuring the great character actor Philip Bosco, as a judge in the small upstate New York town that is the setting for the vastly underrated Paul Newman movie Nobody’s Fool. Newman is before the judge because he has punched a local cop — played by the late Philip Seymour Hoffman — and, in response, the cop had fired off a warning shot that frightened an old woman a few blocks over. Bosco listens to the story and then addresses the police chief. “You know my views on arming morons,” Bosco says. “If you arm one, you have to arm them all. Otherwise, it isn’t good sport.”

It is becoming plain that the atrocity visited on the Malaysian jetliner is a direct result of arming morons. The New York Times obtained audiotape, allegedly from the people who shot down the plane, and these guys sound like they shouldn’t be trusted with a lemon zester, let alone a surface-to-air missile. And it is quite plain that the one thing this situation doesn’t need is to arm more morons, or to have another superpower come bungling in. Either by accident or by design — and Josh Marshall is right to point out that, if it’s the former, that’s infinitely worse — Vladimir Putin is responsible for a horrendous crime, and one that weakens his international standing. The only thing that would bail him out would be a flood of American arms to our own set of morons. The only thing that would bail him out would be if we all started listening to John McCain again.

We do know that the separatists in Eastern Ukraine have been armed by the Russians and have taken credit for bring down other planes over the last several weeks. If this is true, the culpability for this tragic loss of lives lies directly at the feet of Vladimir Putin, he alone has the power to stop this. Like Putin, the US needs to stop arming morons and stop listening to them as well.

Sep 13 2013

Game, Set, Match

Just how really stupid do these two think we are?

Obama’s Syria address: do we look that dumb?

by Michael Cohen, The Guardian

The president marred his chance to lay out a principled position to the American people with patronising dog-whistling

Upholding and enforcing the longstanding global norm against chemical weapons – while deterring Bashar al-Assad from using them again against his own people – offers a compelling rationale for even a punitive use of force by the United States against Syria. Tuesday night, Barack Obama made a semblance of that argument; but he lathered it in so much threat-exaggeration and maudlin imagery that it was virtually impossible to take his case for war seriously.

If anything, the fact that Obama was forced to rely on contradictory and deceptive arguments to sell the American people on the idea of military intervention in Syria did more to undermine the case for intervention than reinforce it. [..]

Finally, what is the justification for condemning one violation of international law (the use of chemical weapons) with the violation of another (fighting a war in Syria without a UN security council mandate)? Does this set a troubling precedent for conflicts down the road?

To be sure, there are reasonable answers to these questions, but in failing even to try to answer them, and instead, raising red-herring issues and making dubious claims – such as, attacking Syria will “make our own children safer over the long run” – Obama offered the American people a confusing and ultimately misleading rationale for military action.

What Vladimir Putin didn’t tell the American people about Syria

by Anna Neistat, The Guardian

Russia’s leader poses as a champion of the rule of law in a New York Times op-ed, but his record as Assad’s backer is shameful

It’s not what Vladimir Putin’s New York Times op-ed says that’s so worrisome; it’s what it doesn’t say. As a Russian and as someone who has been to Syria multiple times since the beginning of the conflict to investigate war crimes and other violations, I would like to mention a few things Putin overlooked …

There is not a single mention in Putin’s article, addressed to the American people, of the egregious crimes committed by the Syrian government and extensively documented by the UN Commission of Inquiry, local and international human rights groups, and numerous journalists: deliberate and indiscriminate killings of tens of thousands of civilians, executions, torture, enforced disappearances and arbitrary arrests. His op-ed also makes no mention of Russia’s ongoing transfer of arms to Assad throughout the past two and a half years. [..]

Finally, the sincerity of Putin’s talk about democratic values and international law is hard to take seriously when back home his own government continues to throw activists in jail, threatens to close NGOs, and rubber-stamps draconian and discriminatory laws.

President Putin should give more credit to his audience: Russia will be judged by its actions, both on the international arena and domestically. So far, Russia has been a key obstacle to ending the suffering in Syria. A change towards a more constructive role would be welcome. But a compilation of half-truths and accusations is not the right way to signal such a change.

Neither of these two men are honest brokers to end the Syrian conflict, nor are they exceptional.

Sep 12 2013

Syria: Exceptional Drumming for War

In his speech to the nation on the possible use of military force in Syria, President Barack Obama spent most of the fifteen minutes justifying his banging the drums for war. Describing the images of people dying from exposure to an chemical weapon and citing unconfirmed casualty numbers, was a repulsive ploy to appeal to the emotions of the American people. Bombing and killing more people for humanitarian reasons is an oxymoron.

The president’s speech was a confusing mixture of claims that the action was a matter of national security but a paragraph later stating the opposite as his reason to take the issue to congress. He also made the statement that the US was the “anchor of global security” and looked upon as the enforcer of international agreements but then says “America is not the world’s policeman.” He mentions the danger of al Qaeda gaining strength in the chaos but failed to mention that the US is arming the Syrian rebels many of whom are members of al Qaeda and even more extremist Islamic groups.

After this rambling garbled message, Pres. Obama finally got around to mentioning diplomacy as an option and the Assad government’s offer to surrender its chemical weapons to international control and finally asked congress to table the resolution for the use of force.

However, it seemed as if Mr. Obama was already throwing in the towel on diplomacy through the UN before a resolution is even on the table.

In today’s New York Times, Russian President Vladimir Putin writes an op-ed opposing an American strike against Syria. In his plea for caution, Mr. Putin said he felt the need to speak directly to the “American people and their political leaders” citing “insufficient communication between our societies.” He noted the strong opposition worldwide and the possible consequences from the potential strike.

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.

Mr. Putin went on to argue that this fight is not about democracy stating that neither side is a champion for democratic rule and that arming the Syrian rebels is also arming US designated terrorist organizations, Al Nusra Front, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. Calling this an internal conflict  and ” one of the bloodiest in the world,” he didn’t mention that Russia was supplying the Syrian government with weapons and would continue to do so.

What have not heard from Mr. Obama, Mr. Putin, pundits or any world leaders is a plea for a cease fire. They all have bemoaned how difficult it will be to secure the stockpile of Syrian weapons during an armed conflict but no one has brokered the idea of a “white flag” while the process is taking place. Of course that would mean the rebels would have to present a unified front and there are few that believe that’s possible. Also no one is asking that the rebel forces surrender whatever chemical weapons they might have simply because the White House and the media is refusing to acknowledge even the idea that they might be in possession of them, as has been revealed by communications from Iran.

America is not a neutral actor in this conflict and neither is Russia. As Mr. Putin noted, “we must stop using the language of force and return to the path of civilized diplomatic and political settlement.”  Both sides need to own up to reality and stop banging the war drums. They need to learn to stop talking past each other and listen.

Sep 06 2013

Syria: Looking for Support, Finding Little

President Barack Obama concluded his meetings at the G-20 in Moscow where he sought support for bombing Syria over the alleged use of chemical weapons by President Bashir al-Assad. Unable to persuade Russian President Vladimir Putin, Pres. Obama took his lobbying to the G-20 dinner.

Syria divides deepen during Putin’s G20 dinner

by Patrick Wintour, The Guardian

Leaders fail to reach agreement over military action as UN called on to fulfil its obligations while Russia maintains position

The majority of leaders at a summit dinner on Thursday evening in Peterhof, near Saint Petersburg, were not in favour of any punitive action unless it was agreed by the UN security council, although strong calls for the UN to live up to its responsibilities were made by the Americans, the Turkish, Canadians, French and British. [..]

During the dinner, Putin told Barack Obama and François Hollande that the chances of reviving peace talks soon after a punitive bombing strike would be minimal.

The Russian leader won the support of the Chinese, a long-term ally of Putin on Syria, but backing also came from the UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, Argentina, Brazil and several European leaders, including Angela Merkel. One German diplomat said “Putin did not need to toughen his tone at the dinner. There were enough sceptics.”

At his press conference after the closing of the summit, Pres. Obama would not say if he would strike it congress did not give him the authorization. Two of the more conservative Democratic senators, Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), have drafted a resolution in a move to appeal to those senators  who are reluctant to either approve strikes or reject the use of force outright. The resolution, assuming that it was Assad who ordered the use of chemical weapons, would give President Bashar Assad’s regime a 45-day window to avoid a strike if it signs a chemical weapons ban.

President Obama’s major opposition lies in the House, where, if the vote on the Senate resolution were held today, it would fail.

Representative Alan Grayson (D-FL) who is adamantly opposed to attacking Syria, appeared Democracy Now! with Amy Goodman and Juan González to discuss the US roll as the world’s police force and his website, DontAttackSyria.com, which is gathering signatures for a petition calling on Congress to deny permission to attack Syria



Transcript can be read here

“I am very disturbed by this general idea that every time we see something bad in the world, we should bomb it,” Grayson says. “The president has criticized that mindset, and now he has adopted it. It’s simply not our responsibility to act alone and punish this.”

Secretary of State John Kerry keeps repeating that drooping a few Tomahowk missiles on Syria is not a war. I suggest that Sec. Kerry not try to sell that to the Syrian civilians.

Aug 08 2013

Tit For Tat Diplomacy

This week after much hinting, President Barack Obama cancelled his private meeting Russian President Vladimir Putin that was to take place before the G-20 meeting in St. Petersburg in early September. The primary reason for the snub (yes, despite what you are hearing in the American msm, in the international community this is a snub) is Russia’s decision to grant temporary asylum to the NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.

In a statement, the White House said that it had concluded there was “not enough recent progress in our bilateral agenda” to hold a US-Russia summit. It cited a lack of progress on arms control, trade, missile defence and human rights, and added: “Russia’s disappointing decision to grant Edward Snowden temporary asylum was also a factor that we considered in assessing the current state of our bilateral relationship. Our co-operation on these issues remains a priority for the United States.” [..]

The decision to cancel the meeting was greeted with little surprise in Moscow, where analysts and lawmakers have been predicting such a step. Presidential aide Yuri Ushakov said the Kremlin was disappointed that Obama cancelled the meeting with Putin, state news agency RIA-Novosti reported. “It’s obvious that this decision is connected to the situation with the American intelligence services employee Snowden, which was not created by us,” he said.

Nonetheless, the invitation to Obama to visit Moscow remains open, and Russia is prepared to co-operate with the United States on pressing issues, Ushakov said.

Nationalist Duma deputy Vladimir Zhirinovsky, perhaps the most rabid of the many critics of the United States in parliament, said the decision shows “disrespect” towards Russia.

“If you postpone or completely cancel meetings between heads of state under the pretext of the refusal to hand over one person, then relations between countries will quickly reach zero,” Zhirinovsky said.

Pres. Obama has no room to criticize Russia for giving Snowden asylum considering the fact that the US has given shelter to internationally wanted criminals and refused to investigate or prosecute Americans accused of war crimes

In his opinion article, Glenn Greenwald high lighted the most glaring cases:

New York Times, February 28, 2007:

U.S. to refuse Italian request for extradition of CIA agents

BRUSSELS – A senior U.S. official said Wednesday that the United States would refuse any Italian extradition request for CIA agents indicted in the alleged abduction of an Egyptian cleric in Milan, a case investigated by the European Parliament.

“We’ve not got an extradition request from Italy,” John Bellinger, a legal adviser to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, told reporters after meeting in Brussels with legal advisers to EU governments.

“If we got an extradition request from Italy, we would not extradite U.S. officials to Italy.”

Washington Post, July 19, 2013:

Panama releases former CIA operative wanted by Italy

A former CIA operative detained in Panama this week at the request of Italian authorities over his conviction in the 2003 kidnapping of a Muslim cleric in Milan was released Friday and had boarded a flight to the United States, U.S. officials said.

Robert Seldon Lady’s release from Panama appeared to avert the possibility that he would be extradited to Italy, where he faces a sentence of up to nine years in prison for his role in the CIA capture of a terrorism suspect who was secretly snatched off a street in Milan and transported to Egypt.

Lady, who left Panama on Friday morning, was “either en route or back in the United States,” Marie Harf, State Department deputy spokeswoman, told reporters at a midday briefing.

It was not immediately clear what steps the United States had taken to secure Lady’s release.

The Guardian, September 9, 2012:

America’s refusal to extradite Bolivia’s ex-president to face genocide charges

Obama justice officials have all but granted asylum to Sánchez de Lozada – a puppet who payrolled key Democratic advisers

[US refuses Bolivia’s request to extradite its former CIA-supported president, Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada, to stand trial on charges of genocide and other war crimes after de Lozada hires Democratic lobbyists to represent him]

El Paso Times, December 30, 2010:

Luis Posada Carriles won’t be extradited to Venezuela

The US constantly refuses requests to extradite – even where (unlike Russia) they have an extradition treaty with the requesting country and even where (unlike Snowden) the request involves actual, serious crimes, such as genocide, kidnapping, and terrorism. Maybe those facts should be part of whatever media commentary there is on Putin’s refusal to extradite Snowden and Obama’s rather extreme reaction to it. [..]

At his blog Informed Consent, Juan Cole notes that Russia has denied visas to US officials who have been accused of war crimes:

A less remarked-on round in this game of tit for tat (which so far doesn’t rise to the level of being very serious) is the government’s decision last April to deny visas to American officials and former officials who had something to do with torture at Guantanamo, where Russian citizens have been held.

The Moscow Times reports

   “The list of banned officials released by the Foreign Ministry in April included former U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff David Addington, former U.S. Justice Department adviser John Yoo and various other Justice Department officials alleged to have violated Russian citizens’ human rights. United States Admiral Jeffrey Harbeson, the former head of the Guantanamo prison, was denied a Russian visa in January, Komsomolskaya Pravda reported.”

Professor of international law at Princeton University, Richard Falk explained in an article in Al Jazeera, that the granting of asylum to Snowden wasn’t just within Russia’s rights, but was legally compelled.

The most influential media in the United States has lived up to its pro-government bias in the Snowden Affair in three major ways: firstly, by consistently referring to Snowden by the demeaning designation of ‘leaker’ rather than as ‘whistleblower’ or ‘surveillance dissident,’ both more respectful and accurate.

Secondly, they are completely ignoring the degree to which Russia’s grant of temporary refugee status to Snowden for one year was in full accord with the normal level of protection to be given to anyone accused of nonviolent political crimes in a foreign country, and pursued diplomatically and legally by the government that is seeking to indict and prosecute. In effect, for Russia to have turned Snowden over to the United States under these conditions would have been morally and politically scandalous considering the nature of his alleged crimes.

Thirdly, the media’s refusal to point out that espionage, the main accusation against Snowden, is the quintessential ‘political offense’ in international law, and as such is routinely excluded from any list of extraditable offenses. That is, even if there had been an extradition treaty between the United States and Russia, it should have been made clear that there was no legal duty on Russia’s part to turn Snowden over to American authorities for criminal prosecution, and a moral and political duty not to do so, especially in the circumstances surrounding the controversy over Snowden.

And as Mark Weisbot noted

Meanwhile, Snowden and Glenn Greenwald and Wikileaks are winning. At the outset Snowden said his biggest fear was that people would see “the lengths that the government is going to grant themselves powers unilaterally to create greater control over American society and global society and that ‘nothing will change'”. But his disclosures have already created a new debate, and political change will follow. [..]

The spectacle of US attorney general Eric Holder trying to offer Russia assurances that his government would not torture or execute Snowden speaks volumes about how far the US government’s reputation on human rights – even within the United States – has plummeted over the past decade.

Legally, morally and ethically, Pres. Obama has no room to criticize Russia on it human rights violations.  

Oct 20 2011

Tiger, Tiger: The Year of the Tiger

I wrote this diary a year ago October 22. In light of the tragic event in Ohio that ended the lives of 18 Bengal Tigers, 17 Lions, 8 Bears, 1 Wolf, I am republishing it.

What digby said:

I cannot understand why anyone should be allowed to keep endangered species in a private zoo. But even assuming that property worshiping Americans won’t stand for such a ban, no one should be able to do this after having been cited over and over again for animal cruelty and abuse. What a horrible story.

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TIGER, tiger, burning bright

In the forests of the night,

What immortal hand or eye

Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

h/t watertiger @ Dependable Renegade

Yaaaay . . . um, Putin?

Leaders to Convene on Tiger Rescue

By John Rudolph Collins

With just 3,200 tigers thought to remain in the wild, time is growing short to save the species. Poaching and habitat destruction continue to imperil the tiger, which has undergone an estimated 40 percent drop in its wild population over the last decade and is now perched on the brink of extinction throughout much of its range.

Next month, however, officials from the remaining countries with wild tigers will gather in St. Petersburg, Russia, for a major conference on how to reverse the decline of the species. A draft declaration for the summit sets a goal of doubling the wild tiger population by 2022, and conservationists and biologists have high hopes for the gathering.

The summit conference “promises to be the most significant meeting ever held to discuss the fate of a single non-human species,” a group of tiger experts declared in September, in the preface of a major new report charting the tiger’s perilous condition.

Prime Minister Vladimir V. Putin of Russia has already agreed to attend the event and has been a critical force behind its development. His presence is expected to draw numerous heads of state and high-level delegations from the 13 “tiger range” nations.

Look at the size of these paws

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Bringing the Tiger Back from the Brink-The Six Percent Solution

The Tiger Summit, to be hosted by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin in Russia in November 2010-the Chinese Year of the Tiger and the International Year of Biodiversity-promises to be the most significant meeting ever held to discuss the fate of a single non-human species. The Summit will culminate efforts by the Global Tiger Initiative (GTI), launched in 2008 by Robert Zoellick, World Bank President. Leaders of 13 tiger range states, supported by international donors and conservationists attending the summit, are being asked to commit to substantive measures to prevent the unthinkable: extinction of the world’s last wild tiger populations.

Wild tiger numbers are at an historic low. There is no evidence of breeding populations of tigers in Cambodia, China, Vietnam, and DPR Korea. Current approaches to tiger conservation are not slowing the decline in tiger numbers, which has continued unabated over the last two decades. While the scale of the challenge is enormous, we submit that the complexity of effective implementation is not: commitments should shift to focus on protecting tigers at spatially well-defined priority sites, supported by proven best practices of law enforcement, wildlife management, and scientific monitoring. Conflict with local people needs to be mitigated. We argue that such a shift in emphasis would reverse the decline of wild tigers and do so in a rapid and cost-efficient manner.

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Save the Tiger

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