Thursday, February 19, 2015

The state of disarray and disunion, the legacy of self-defeat and disaster - by Michael Novakhov



The state of disarray and disunion; the hypocritical, duplicitous, impotent (including his inaction on Ukraine), self-serving legacy of deceit, defeat and disaster under the guise of exercise of "soft power". Mr. Obama is more concerned about his "peacenik" credentials than about the true peace, security and greatness of the country. The divisions and controversies are so intense that it is difficult to avoid the impression that the country is moving to the some type of the civil war, and I would not rule out the deliberate actions of some hostile foreign "invisible hands" behind all this. 

He replays and recreates his own personal psychological issues, traumas and dramas and searches for resolution of these issues in his life and activities as a politician. In this somewhat unhealthy (but maybe not uncommon for the politicians) process he turns America into his image: as a biracial polity, society and culture the way he understands and envisions them. This is his "blue rage" and his "black redemption". This is his not so hidden and main agenda and "mission"


There is nothing wrong with biracial, multiracial, multi-ethnic and multicultural aspects in the country's social, political and cultural lives. We embrace the true diversity and the true color blind society, the true equality and meritocracy based value systems and attitudes. However, it seems to me, Mr. Obama's style as a political leader is marked with revengeful authoritarianism and willful (although well masked by ostensible benevolence and political showmanship via trading in cheap slogans for the masses) imposition of his own values, visions, concepts and goals, which have to do more with his own personal needs and perceived obligations to his own perceived constituency than with what is truly good for the country. 


One of the examples of this is his administration's attitude to the freedom of the press (see Sterling - New York Times - Risen affair, ACLU documentation of harassment of journalists and their own testimonies) and skewed interpretation of civil rights, as illustrated by the scathing criticism of (ex-) Attorney General Eric Holder and his policies (see recent book, describing the recent voting irregularities).


At the same time his foreign policies are marked by indecisiveness, shyness, withdrawal and isolationism and voluntary retreat from the positions of world leadership. His style of "leading from behind" might be suitable for ruling a flock of sheep but not for the positioning of the great nation. It is hypocritical and betrays his underlying personal weakness as a leader


It seems to me that Mr. Obama became a prisoner of his own concept of "moral politics" and his own rhetoric, his own words which sound good and impressive in a Nobel Peace Prize lecture but are absolutely useless and irrelevant in real life and real life world politics, which are not spiritual and metaphysical but physical and mechanical; they are about the exercise of power. Somehow, and paradoxically (which is not really surprising: men and their activities and complex behaviors are paradoxical by their nature) this trait is combined with the tendency towards overexercise of this power domestically, somewhat cynically and surreptitiously. Both parts of this paradox might have one and single, overarching explanation - insecurity: psychological, including the issues of identity and psychosocial, including the issues of survival, control and domination, both personal and political, which had a particular significance for him as a biracial person and as a biracial politician in the essentially mono-racially dominated environment. And from there stems the need to change this environment and to adjust it to his own needs, also both personal and political (which for professional politicians are one and the same), and with the revengeful willfulness of the triumphed victor, even if he is not aware of this, or is half-aware or prefers not to think in these terms. 

By the way, this political dichotomy stands in interesting contrast with Ben Lyndon Johnson, who was liberal domestically and aggressive abroad (and who could hardly be characterized as "insecure").

Some people think that Mr. Obama ought to be impeached, on the basis and by the reason of his accumulated, adverse to the security and well-being of this country, actions and in-actions, errors of commission and omission, although there are no immediate sufficient enough pretexts for impeachment; he is careful to govern under the well constructed covers of legality. Many might also think that the Democratic Party does itself the great disservice by associating and approving this President's deficient leadership


Under the circumstances it might be the best if Mr. Obama works closely and harmoniously with the Republican majority and takes their views into greater consideration, just as the views, mood, emotions and thinking of those who represent the core and the core values of American culture. 


It might be better to leave certain issues with less of obsessive political attention and leave them more to their own natural historical devices rather than to engage in a forceful and willful political agenda mongering and excessive counterproductive social engineering. These issues include "missionary" efforts at political equalization (the things are "equalized" sufficiently enough, and Mr. Obama himself is the best proof of this; don't fix what ain't broken) and his plans on illegal immigration, among others. 


If "involvement in child pornography, narcotics trafficking, fraud or espionage" are the correlates and "national security implications of the EB-5 program", what is to be expected of the mass illegal immigration "plans and programs"? The "amnesty" for illegal immigrants might turn into a wrongful conviction and a life sentence without parole for the whole country. 

This is my personal opinion of course, and this opinion passed through a certain evolution (or revolution, more correctly), as probably is the case with many other people. It is not that the "smell of the new car" was gone, the car happened to be a "lemon" under a new body; it broke down in the middle of the road and came to a full stop. And at this moment came the realization that the road was wrong too. If this is "the transformation", then count me out of it. If the result of this "transformation" is the country which is fundamentally or very different culturally, the great many people would not want to be a part of it and a part of this process. The rate of emigration from the US is already on unprecedentedly, alarmingly high levels.


The times will pass, the disorders will heal - they always do in great nations and cultures, the crises will resolve, the new opportunities and vistas will arise. But the sense of bitterness, deceit, anger and betrayal, the grief for opportunities and hopes lost will remain for a long historical period to come and as a painful subject for the future historians to record, describe, understand, analyse and to judge. And I would not be all that surprised that if timely (and time is running out), comprehensive and decisive adjustments are not made this judgement will pronounce the Obama's Presidency as the greatest disaster in American history.


Michael Novakhov 



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See also: 
Previous Posts: 

Rudy Giuliani Said Obama Doesn't Love America - TIME | Mr. Obama’s verbal tactics have become a target for a growing chorus of critics who believe the evasive language is a sign that he is failing to look squarely at the threat from militant Islam. The vague phrasing, they say, projects uncertainty and weakness at a time when extremists claiming to fight for Islam threaten America and its interests around the world... “Self-deception is not a good idea in politics or international affairs. We’re lying to ourselves, and the world knows it”... “You cannot defeat an enemy that you do not admit exists,” Michael T. Flynn, a retired Army lieutenant general and director of the Defense Intelligence Agency from 2012 to 2014, told a House hearing last week. “I really, really strongly believe that the American public needs and wants moral, intellectual and really strategic clarity and courage on this threat.” - Faulted for Avoiding ‘Islamic’ Labels to Describe Terrorism, White House Cites a Strategic Logic - NYT

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"His secretary of defense says, “The world is exploding all over”... Yet Obama’s reaction to, shall we say, turmoil abroad has been one of alarming lassitude and passivity... Indeed, insists the president, the real source of our metastasizing anxiety is . . . the news media... This passivity — strategic, syntactical, ideological — is more than just a reaction to the perceived overreach of the Bush years. Or a fear of failure. Or bowing to the domestic left. It is, above all, rooted in Obama’s deep belief that we — America, Christians, the West — lack the moral authority to engage, to project, i.e., to lead... All that’s left is to call it strategic patience." - Crusaders and appeasers - The Washington Post

Are We Overlooking The Black Power Behind Obama?



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Google Searches and Articles 

In the text of this post as hyper-linked: 

Obama

Why Giuliani and Other Obama Critics Play the ‘American’ Card


Given how closely bound up questions of American identity are with race, the debate that Mr. Giuliani revived, which is now drawing in Republican presidential contenders and pundits, threatens to make the 2016 campaignanother racially fraught episode in the Obama presidency.

Yes, Obama is different - Chicago Tribune


Why is Obama more circumspect than his presidential peers? Why does his praise come with a note of reservation?
The best answer, I think, lies in identity. By choice as much as birth, Obama is a black American. And black Americans, more than most, have a complicated relationship with our country. It's our home as much as it's been our oppressor: a place of freedom and opportunity as much as a source of violence and degradation. We're an old American tribe, with deep roots in the land and a strong hand in the labor of the nation. But we're often seen as other — a suspect class that just doesn't fit.
As a president from black America, Obama carries this with him, and it comes through in his sometimes less-than-effusive vision of national greatness. He loves this country, but he also tempers his view with a nod toward the uglier parts of our history.


Remarks by the President at the Acceptance of the Nobel Peace Prize

Third, a just peace includes not only civil and political rights -- it must encompass economic security and opportunity.  For true peace is not just freedom from fear, but freedom from want.

It is undoubtedly true that development rarely takes root without security; it is also true that security does not exist where human beings do not have access to enough food, or clean water, or the medicine and shelter they need to survive.  It does not exist where children can't aspire to a decent education or a job that supports a family.  The absence of hope can rot a society from within.
...
And most dangerously, we see it in the way that religion is used to justify the murder of innocents by those who have distorted and defiled the great religion of Islam, and who attacked my country from Afghanistan.  These extremists are not the first to kill in the name of God; the cruelties of the Crusades are amply recorded.  But they remind us that no Holy War can ever be a just war.  For if you truly believe that you are carrying out divine will, then there is no need for restraint -- no need to spare the pregnant mother, or the medic, or the Red Cross worker, or even a person of one's own faith.  Such a warped view of religion is not just incompatible with the concept of peace, but I believe it's incompatible with the very purpose of faith -- for the one rule that lies at the heart of every major religion is that we do unto others as we would have them do unto us.
Adhering to this law of love has always been the core struggle of human nature.  For we are fallible.  We make mistakes, and fall victim to the temptations of pride, and power, and sometimes evil.  Even those of us with the best of intentions will at times fail to right the wrongs before us.
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We do not have to live in an idealized world to still reach for those ideals that will make it a better place.  The non-violence practiced by men like Gandhi and King may not have been practical or possible in every circumstance, but the love that they preached -- their fundamental faith in human progress -- that must always be the North Star that guides us on our journey.

For if we lose that faith -- if we dismiss it as silly or naïve; if we divorce it from the decisions that we make on issues of war and peace -- then we lose what's best about humanity.  We lose our sense of possibility.  We lose our moral compass.
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We can acknowledge that oppression will always be with us, and still strive for justice.  We can admit the intractability of depravation, and still strive for dignity.  Clear-eyed, we can understand that there will be war, and still strive for peace.  We can do that -- for that is the story of human progress; that's the hope of all the world; and at this moment of challenge, that must be our work here on Earth.

Giuliani: Obama influenced by communists since youth

Obama as impotent

The Hill: A.B. Stoddard: An impotent president

psychoanalysis of obama

Obama on the Couch: Inside the Mind of the President - Justin A. Frank M.D.

Obama’s transformation over the course of his brief but incredibly well-examined political career has left some supporters disillusioned and has further frustrated opponents. To explore this change in behavior, and Obama’s seeming inability to manage the response to his actions, Dr. Frank delves into his past, in particular, the President’s turbulent childhood, to paint a portrait of a mixed-race child who experienced identity issues early in life, further complicated by his father’s abandonment. As he addresses everything from Obama’s approach to health care reform, his handling of the Gulf Oil spill, to his Middle East strategies, Dr. Frank argues that the President’s decisions are motivated by inner forces - in particular, he focuses on Obama’s overwhelming need to establish consensus, which can occasionally undermine his personal—and his party’s—objectives. By examining the President’s memoirs, his speeches, and his demeanor in public, Dr. Frank identifies the basis for some of his confusing or self-defeating behavior. Most significantly, he looks at the President’s upbringing and explores the ways in which it has shaped him—and what this means for our nation and its future. 
Obama is a complex and mysterious figure who inspires many questions and great interest...

rate of emigration from us

us emigration statistics

emigration from us

Emigration from the United States - From Wikipedia

As of 2009, there are over 6 million non-military U.S. citizens living abroad.,[3] an increase from the 4 million estimated in 1999.[4] However, these numbers are highly open to dispute as they often are unverified and can change rapidly.[5]

demography us

Demographics of the United States - From Wikipedia

A Study On The Changing Racial Makeup Of 'The Next America'



Issues: 

General: 

Obama's life history

Obama's personality

Psychodynamic aspects of Obama as politician

Obama: style and substance

Obama's Impact on future Democratic policies

Obama: historical assessment

Charles Krauthammer columns in WP


Domestic Issues: 

Obama's Style in Domestic Policies

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Illegal Immigration

illegal immigration pros and cons

obama illegal immigration plan

obama's view illegal immigration

critique of obama illegal immigration plan

Report: Immigration Program Stirs Security, Economic Concerns 

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A U.S. immigration investment program is coming under new scrutiny after an investigative report questioned the desirability of some who have used it to come to America.   The report by the ABC News program Nightline shed light on the national security implications of the EB-5 program, in which wealthy foreigners can get U.S. residency in exchange for $500,000 in investments. Brian Ross, chief investigative correspondent for ABC News, said the investigation had found some people...
Brian Ross, chief investigative correspondent for ABC News, said the investigation had found some people who used the program were suspected of involvement in child pornography, narcotics trafficking, fraud or espionage.
The report also said authorities were investigating whether Iran might have used the program as a means to infiltrate the United States as well as engage in smuggling and terrorism. 
M.N.: If "involvement in child pornography, narcotics trafficking, fraud or espionage" are the correlates and "national security implications of the EB-5 program", what is to be expected of the mass illegal immigration "plans and programs"? The "amnesty" for illegal immigrants might turn into a wrongful conviction and a life sentence without parole for the whole country. 

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Obama and US General Security situation

Obama Hostility towards military, "purges"

Obama and Demoralization in US security services

Obama and Demoralization in US security forces

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obama campaign donors foreign

Obama’s foreign donors - DICK MORRIS - The Hill

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Obama and FBI

president obama and fbi


Is the FBI Investigating Obama?

Cliff Kincaid  —   June 22, 2011 

In a front page story about a major FBI terrorism investigation, The Washington Post has reported that the targets include “Chicagoans who crossed paths with Obama when he was a young state senator and some who have been active in labor unions that supported his political rise.” The implication is that the trail could lead to the White House.
This is an unusual investigation that does not primarily involve Islamists. Instead, it is focused on elements of the old international communist networks that many people mistakenly thought had faded away with the collapse of the Soviet Union. Those under investigation are suspected of providing support to foreign terrorist organizations such as the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine in the Middle East, a Marxist group. The Post called them “Colombian and Palestinian groups designated by the U.S. government as terrorists.”
The investigations came into public view last September when the FBI raided the homes of several “activists,” as the Post called them. Some lived in Chicago.
One of the targets, Tom Burke, was a union organizer for the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). He was so confident he would get a fair shake from the Post that he provided the paper with a photo of himself shaking hands with Barack Obama. The other apparent intention was to send a message to the President and Attorney General Eric Holder that any investigation of Burke might lead to Obama.
The Post suggested that investigations of labor union activists might jeopardize their support for Obama’s 2012 presidential run. Indeed, it could therefore threaten his re-election bid, if investigations determine that the activists did more than “cross paths” with the President.
Deep inside the article, in the 29th paragraph, we find out that some of the “activists” are associated with a group known as the Freedom Road Socialist Organization (FRSO), a Marxist-Leninist organization. Burke is a member of the FRSO, which the Post admitted was “far left.”
The obvious question is why Obama, as a state senator in Illinois, would ever have “crossed paths” with such people. The answer goes beyond just union support for the candidate. The “far-left” networks that include the FRSO, the Communist Party USA, the New American Movement, and the Democratic Socialists of America backed and even spawned Obama’s political career. Don’t forget that Weather Underground leaders Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn hosted a fundraiser for his first run for political office. The same networks also backed CIA Director Leon Panetta’s career when he was a congressman from Santa Cruz, California. This helps explain why Obama would pick Panetta, with no intelligence background, to run the intelligence agency. They are cut from the same cloth.
Nevertheless, on Tuesday, the Senate voted 100-0 in favor of Panetta’s nomination as Secretary of Defense. It was a classic case of “head in the sand” politics, ignoring not only Panetta’s long-time relationship with Communist Party member Hugh DeLacy but his record as a congressman in undercutting then-President Reagan’s pro-defense policies at every turn.
Obama and Panetta were players in the “progressive” community, which since the days of Henry Wallace, presidential candidate of the Progressive Party, has had a red tint. Obama had his own communist mentor, Frank Marshall Davis, a Communist Party member under FBI investigation for 19 years, while Panetta gave DeLacy, who had traveled to China to meet with Soviet and Chinese intelligence agents, sensitive reports on U.S. military matters. Any notion that Panetta had no awareness of DeLacy’s Communist affiliation was obliterated when Panetta in 1983 inserted a tribute to DeLacy into the Congressional Record, praising his resistance to “McCarthyism.”
Former FBI agent Max Noel once told me that the Bureau used to investigate candidates for federal employment by analyzing Character, Associates, Reputation, and Loyalty to the United States. The first letters in those words make up the acronym CARL. By the standard of “A”—Associates—Panetta flunks. But so does Obama.
Another sensitive case involves Huma Abedin, a top aide to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and wife of disgraced Rep. Anthony Weiner.  Walid Shoebat and Ben Barrack have reported that Arab newspapers have revealed that Huma Abedin’s mother is a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, a group whose goal is to subvert Western civilization. Jamie Glazov of Front Page Magazine asks Robert Spencer, “There is a remote possibility that Abedin is actually being deceptive in her marriage to Weiner to follow Muslim Brotherhood instructions and to infiltrate the U.S. government, correct?” Spencer replies, “Certainly. That is a very real possibility, and it should be investigated. But the only ones who have the means to do so are mainstream media journalists who are either clueless or complicit.”
It may also be the case that the FBI never investigated Abedin’s background.
As the FBI does not vet presidential candidates for national security purposes, we know there would have been no FBI investigation into Obama’s own background, associations, loyalty, and overall fitness for office. The FBI only probes those being considered for some federal positions under the president. They should have therefore investigated Panetta. But there is no indication that he was ever properly vetted. Now he is confirmed as Secretary of Defense because conservative Republican Senators were apparently afraid of being accused of McCarthyism for questioning his past associations.
On the other hand, the “progressives” are raising hell with Obama and want him to rein in the FBI. They want to further emasculate the agency charged with ferretting out subversives and terrorist support networks.
As the Post noted, “nine members of Congress have written letters to the administration” complaining about the FBI probe of Burke and other activists. The Post even noted that another one of the targets of the investigation, a union organizer named Tracy Molm, managed to arrange a meeting with Holder himself.
One of these congressional members is Muslim Rep. Keith Ellison, the foremost critic of Rep. Peter King’s hearings into radical Islam in America. “Shortly after the raids,” Ellison said, “I made inquiries to the FBI field office for more information. FBI Special Agent Boelter confirmed that an investigation was ongoing. He informed me that due to the pending nature of the investigation, he was prohibited from sharing any further information. However he gave me assurance that the purpose of the searches and service of subpoenas was not to punish or to suppress protected First Amendment activity.”
Pro-Marxist activist Medea Benjamin has said she managed to have a few words with Holder as well to complain about the probes. She is with the Code Pink group that travels to Gaza to meet with the terrorist group Hamas. She is also a staunch ally of Adam Kokesh, the “Russia Today” TV star who openly admits that he functions as a paid Russian agent of the Vladimir Putin regime.
Holder is receptive to this kind of appeal because of his friendship with Obama and record as Deputy Attorney General in the Clinton Administration for facilitating pardons and clemency for terrorists from the Puerto Rican FALN and Weather Underground. It is this record that puts the current investigations by the FBI in serious jeopardy.
The Post article has to be seen as a signal to Holder from those around Obama that he must act quickly to close down these investigations before they get too close for comfort to the Oval Office. First, however, he has to make sure that the congressional investigations don’t get too close to Holder himself. It won’t look good for the Attorney General to be personally implicated in knowledge of the federal gunrunning schemes now under Congressional investigation that provided weapons to Mexican narco-terrorist cartels. The evidence already shows that federal authorities let guns fall into the hands of known criminals.

TX Congressman Says Obama’s Under Investigation By House, Senate & FBI – Will Impeachment Follow?

Palestinians want to join investigation of Chapel Hill shootings - WP

Obama FBI background check

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Did obama forbid fbi to investigate environmental group financing?

Did obama forbid fbi to investigate environmental group financing? Cato Institute 


CATO's Rahn: Obama Likely Knows Russians Funding Keystone Opponents

Wednesday, 04 Feb 2015 01:35 PM
By Courtney Coren
Russia is funding the opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline and the Obama administration is certainly aware that it is happening, says Richard Rahn, senior fellow at the CATO Institute. 

"We've had a number of reports going on for quite a while that Russian money was finding its way in U.S. environmental groups. Now, we've got increased evidence of this," Rahn told J.D. Hayworth and Miranda Khan on "America's Forum" on Newsmax TV Wednesday. Ford O'Connell, a GOP strategist, joined the panel.

Rahn says that he "learned that money was going in to U.S. environmental groups and over the last couple of weeks there has been a number of very well documented reports showing money from various offshore entities ... we know they're closely tied to Russian interests. 

"That money goes into environmental bundlers in the U.S. and then is distributed to U.S. environmental organizations to oppose Keystone and oil and gas development in the U.S.," he said. 

These offshore entities "don't show the sources of their income," but Congress could subpoena the financial records of environmental groups to determine "where they get their money from and where those who are the bundlers get their money from — it's just following the money back to the original sources," he said.

Not only does Rahn say that he's "certain" that the Obama administration is aware that Russia is funding the Keystone opposition, "I expect they've actually encouraged it. 

"All this kind of information, these foreign financial flows, all go into the Justice Department through the Treasury Department, the CIA, FBI and so forth," he said. 

"They monitor all these financial flows from around the world into and out of the U.S.," he added. "With almost certainty, they're aware of it. 

"There have been reports I've heard that the FBI, for instance, was told to stay away from the investigation of it," the CATO fellow told Newsmax.

"This helps the president and his particular agenda by having money going to support his allies, and all money going into environmental organizations is fungible and is used to probably oppose Republican candidates during the election," he said. 

The problem, from Rahn's point-of-view, isn't so much that the Russians are doing this but that the environmental groups and the government are allowing it. 

"Russia gets about 70 percent of its total foreign exchange from the sale of oil and gas. It accounts for about 50 percent of a Russian budget," he said. 

"They have a huge interest in trying to keep Europe and North America from producing more oil and gas to keep their own markets. 

"It's a rational business decision for them."  

Rahn recently wrote about Russia's involvement in stopping the Keystone XL pipeline in a column for The Washington Times.  


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obama fbi agent

EXCLUSIVE: In Scathing Letter to Obama, Former FBI Assistant Director Slams Holder as "Chief Among Antagonists" in Ferguson

As the Senate prepares to hold confirmation hearings for new Attorney General nominee Loretta Lynch and as outgoing Attorney General Eric Holder continues to allocate Department of Justice resources to the situation in Ferguson, former FBI Assistant Director and Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund President Ron Hosko has sent a scathing letter to President Obama detailing the damage done to the relationship between law enforcement and DOJ over the past six years. 
...
"The hyper-politicization of justice issues has made it immeasurably more difficult for police officers to simply do their jobs. The growing divide between the police and the people – perhaps best characterized by protesters in Ferguson, Mo., who angrily chanted, “It’s not black or white. It’s blue!” – only benefits of members of a political class seeking to vilify law enforcement for other societal failures. This puts our communities at greater risk, especially the most vulnerable among us," Hosko wrote in the letter exclusively obtained by Townhall. "Your attorney general, Eric Holder, is chief among the antagonists. During his tenure as the head of the Department of Justice, Mr. Holder claims to have investigated twice as many police and police departments as any of his predecessors. Of course, this includes his ill-timed decision to launch a full investigation into the Ferguson Police Department at the height of racial tensions in that community, throwing gasoline on a fire that was already burning. Many officers were disgusted by such a transparent political maneuver at a time when presidential and attorney general leadership could have calmed a truly chaotic situation."
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"It won’t be long before the American people turn their attention to other matters. Long after Ferguson is forgotten, police officers across America will still remember the way their senior federal executives turned their back on them with oft-repeated suggestions that race-based policing drives a biased, broken law enforcement agenda," Hosko continued. "As we move forward with the selection and confirmation of a new attorney general, I ask that you personally reengage with the law enforcement community of dedicated and valiant men and women across the country, serving at every level of government. With two years remaining in your presidency, you have an urgent responsibility to correct damage inflicted upon law enforcement and help mend the rift between police and those they protect. The Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund will be happy to support any such discussions."
The Grand Jury report and decision from the Michael Brown case in Ferguson is expected to be released any day now.
It should be noted that before becoming President of LELDF, Hosko served as FBI assistant director under Holder until retiring earlier this year.

Ex-FBI Agent Calls Eric Holder “Coward” - The New American


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Obama and Crisis in Cybersecurity

Obamacare is "half-baked"

Obama's drug policies

Obama's Domestic Governing style



Obama's Style in Foreign Policies

Obama's Isolationism and reluctant interventionism

obama strategic patience

Obama and Russia

Obama and Putin

Obama and Putin relationship

Obama and Putin personal chemistry

Obama and Iran

Obama and "politically correct" pro islamism

Obama and Latin America

Obama and Cuba

Obama and Puerto Rico

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See also: 



Rudy Giuliani Said Obama Doesn't Love America - TIME | Mr. Obama’s verbal tactics have become a target for a growing chorus of critics who believe the evasive language is a sign that he is failing to look squarely at the threat from militant Islam. The vague phrasing, they say, projects uncertainty and weakness at a time when extremists claiming to fight for Islam threaten America and its interests around the world... “Self-deception is not a good idea in politics or international affairs. We’re lying to ourselves, and the world knows it”... “You cannot defeat an enemy that you do not admit exists,” Michael T. Flynn, a retired Army lieutenant general and director of the Defense Intelligence Agency from 2012 to 2014, told a House hearing last week. “I really, really strongly believe that the American public needs and wants moral, intellectual and really strategic clarity and courage on this threat.” - Faulted for Avoiding ‘Islamic’ Labels to Describe Terrorism, White House Cites a Strategic Logic - NYT | Saudi cleric says Earth doesn’t revolve around Sun | Russian Army returns to Latin America

Faulted for Avoiding ‘Islamic’ Labels to Describe Terrorism, White House Cites a Strategic Logic

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WASHINGTON — President Obama chooses his words with particular care when he addresses the volatile connections between religion and terrorism. He and his aides have avoided labeling acts of brutal violence by Al Qaeda, the so-called Islamic State and their allies as “Muslim” terrorism or describing their ideology as “Islamic” or “jihadist.”
With remarkable consistency — including at a high-profile White House meeting this week, “Countering Violent Extremism” — they have favored bland, generic terms over anything that explicitly connects attacks or plots to Islam.
Obama aides say there is a strategic logic to his vocabulary: Labeling noxious beliefs and mass murder as “Islamic” would play right into the hands of terrorists who claim that the United States is at war with Islam itself. The last thing the president should do, they say, is imply that the United States lumps the world’s 1.5 billion Muslims with vicious terrorist groups.
But Mr. Obama’s verbal tactics have become a target for a growing chorus of critics who believe the evasive language is a sign that he is failing to look squarely at the threat from militant Islam. The vague phrasing, they say, projects uncertainty and weakness at a time when extremists claiming to fight for Islam threaten America and its interests around the world.
“Part of this is a semantic battle, but it’s a semantic battle that goes to deeper issues,” said Peter Wehner, a veteran of the past three Republican administrations and a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center. “Self-deception is not a good idea in politics or international affairs. We’re lying to ourselves, and the world knows it.”
While the most vehement criticism has come from Mr. Obama’s political opponents on the right, a few liberals and former security officials have begun to echo the criticism.
“You cannot defeat an enemy that you do not admit exists,” Michael T. Flynn, a retired Army lieutenant general and director of the Defense Intelligence Agency from 2012 to 2014, told a House hearing last week. “I really, really strongly believe that the American public needs and wants moral, intellectual and really strategic clarity and courage on this threat.”
Akbar Ahmed, chairman of Islamic studies at American University and author of a book on Islam in America, said he supported the Obama administration’s care in avoiding a counterproductive smear of all Muslims. But he said the president sometimes seemed to bring an academic approach to a visceral, highly politicized discussion.
“Obama’s reaching a point where he may have to ditch this almost scholastic position,” Mr. Ahmed said. “He sounds like a distinguished professor in the ivory tower, and he may have to come down into the hurly-burly of politics.”
A visual guide to the crisis in Iraq and Syria.
OPEN Graphic
Addressing the extremism conference on Wednesday, Mr. Obama acknowledged the complaints and took pains to try to explain his approach.
“Leading up to this summit, there’s been a fair amount of debate in the press and among pundits about the words we use to describe and frame this challenge, so I want to be very clear about how I see it,” the president said. “Al Qaeda and ISIL and groups like it are desperate for legitimacy. They try to portray themselves as religious leaders, holy warriors in defense of Islam.”
But Mr. Obama said that “we must never accept the premise that they put forward, because it is a lie.” The operatives of Al Qaeda and the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, “are not religious leaders — they’re terrorists,” he said.
The president’s comments suggest that the criticism has disturbed him. “You know your talking points are no longer working when you have to talk about your talking points,” said Peter D. Feaver, a political scientist at Duke who was deeply involved in shaping President George W. Bush’s language while he worked at the White House from 2005 to 2007.
Choosing what to say about the enemy during the long campaign against Al Qaeda, and now the Islamic State, was a challenge for Mr. Bush as well as for Mr. Obama, Mr. Feaver said. The nation’s terrorist enemies define themselves as fighters for Islam, lace their propaganda with quotes from the Quran and claim to speak for all Muslims. But an overwhelming majority of Muslims worldwide reject the Qaeda ideology and condemn terrorist attacks.
Mr. Bush, too, struggled at times to find the right terms for the fight against Al Qaeda. He used and then quickly dropped the word “crusade” for the American campaign against terrorism, concerned that he was playing into the terrorists’ view of a centuries-long clash of civilizations.
He favored the formula “war on terror,” but was battered by critics inside and outside the government who said that it was impossible to wage war against a tactic, Mr. Feaver recalled. For months before a major speech by the president in 2005, different agencies fought over what, exactly, Mr. Bush should call the enemy.
In the end, he effectively threw up his hands. “Some call this evil Islamic radicalism,” he said in the speech. “Others, militant jihadism. Still, others Islamo-fascism. Whatever it’s called, this ideology is very different from the religion of Islam.” But he went on to regularly use the term “Islamic radicalism,” which Mr. Obama has shunned.
Many advocates for Muslims appreciate Mr. Obama’s care in keeping their religion separate from the terrorist groups whose claims they reject. “We support the Obama administration and the administration before them for not falling into the Al Qaeda-ISIS trap of saying this is a religious war,” said Farhana Khera, executive director of Muslim Advocates, a national group.
But even Ms. Khera complained that the name of the White House conference on the topic was too vague. While the label was “violent extremism,” the vast majority of speakers spoke only about Islamic extremism, ignoring all other kinds, she said. “If the summit were called ‘Countering ISIS,’ that would be fine,” she said. “But it’s not.”
Daniel Benjamin, who served as the State Department’s top counterterrorism official from 2009 to 2012, said he believed that the dispute was a “pseudocontroversy” driven largely by domestic politics, even if it has produced some clumsy moments in the White House press room. What the debate has missed, he said, is that any American president has to think about how his words are received overseas.
“Our allies against ISIS in the region are out there every day saying, ‘This is not Islam,’ ” said Mr. Benjamin, now at Dartmouth. “We don’t want to undermine them. Any good it would do to trumpet ‘Islamic radicalism’ would be overwhelmed by the damage it would do to those relationships.”
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Faulted for Avoiding ‘Islamic’ Labels, White House Cites a Strategic Logic 

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With remarkable consistency, President Obama and his aides have favored bland, generic terms over anything that explicitly connects attacks or plots to Islam.

Faulted for Avoiding 'Islamic' Labels, White House Cites a Strategic Logic - New York Times

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New York Times

Faulted for Avoiding 'Islamic' Labels, White House Cites a Strategic Logic
New York Times
WASHINGTON — President Obama chooses his words with particular care when he addresses the volatile connections between religion and terrorism. He and his aides have avoided labeling acts of brutal violence by Al Qaeda, the so-called Islamic State ...
Obama announces initiatives to curb recruitment of terrorist groupsWashington Post
Obama calls on Muslims to distance themselves from brutal ideologiesChristian Science Monitor
Obama: IS is comprised of terrorists "desperate for legitimacy"Fox News Latino
SFGate -Columbus Dispatch -ABC News
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Sniper case witnesses detail Routh's angry outbursts - Dallas Morning News

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Dallas Morning News

Sniper case witnesses detail Routh's angry outbursts
Dallas Morning News
Jennifer Weed, testifying Wednesday in the trial of Eddie Ray Routh, told of accepting Routh's marriage proposal one day, only to have him order her to leave the next. By DIANNA HUNT dhunt@dallasnews.com. Staff Writer. Published: 18 February 2015 ...
Sister testifies in 'American Sniper' trial that suspect fought 'demons'Las Vegas Review-Journal
Ex-girlfriend: Routh joked he had killed before, would againWaxahachie Daily Light
Fact-checking American Sniper as the Oscars nearNew Zealand Herald

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World Leaders Demand Access for Monitors to Eastern Ukraine

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European Union and NATO leaders are calling on Russia to stop supporting separatists in eastern Ukraine and to adhere to a mediated truce agreed to last week in Belarus. Despite the agreement,...
From: VOAvideo
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US preparing to sue Ferguson police over charges of racial bias - Times LIVE

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Times LIVE

US preparing to sue Ferguson police over charges of racial bias
Times LIVE
Demonstrators protest to demand justice for the death of Eric Garner, at Grand Central Terminal in the Manhattan borough of New York, December 9, 2014. The death in New York of Garner, a 43-year-old father of six, and the police shooting in Ferguson, ...

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UN Security Council to Hold Emergency Meeting on Libya

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Jordan circulated a draft United Nations Security Council resolution late Wednesday that would lift an arms embargo against the Libyan government, work toward halting the flow of weapons to militants and push for Libya's internationally recognized government to return to the capital in Tripoli. The council met earlier for emergency talks on the situation in Libya, where militias and two parallel governments have left the country in a persistent state of instability following the 2011...

Obama tells Muslims: don't let Isis hijack your religion and identity 

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Islamic State does not speak for you and ‘we are not at war with Islam’, declares US president at counter-extremism summit
Muslims in the US and around the world have a responsibility to fight the idea that terrorist groups like Islamic State speak for them, Barack Obama has declared in his most direct remarks yet about any link between Islam and violent extremism.
“We are not at war with Islam,” Obama said. “We are at war with people who have perverted Islam.”
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In their cynicism about Putin, western diplomats are making the Ukrainian crisis worse 

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The Russian president has every reason to want the ceasefire to hold, but if the west continues to misread his motives there’s little chance of it happening
Ever since the roadmap for peace in Ukraine was agreed last week, the prevailing mood in western capitals has been pessimism laced with cynicism. In the unlikely event that the ceasefire somehow takes hold, this will be interpreted as proof positive that the terms favoured Russia. Whatever happens, Russia – or, more specifically, President Putin – will be to blame.
Any notion that Moscow might genuinely want peace in Ukraine, and be willing to compromise to achieve that, is excluded from the calculation. And so continues the profound misreading of Kremlin thinking that has dogged the west’s approach to Russia, and militated against any settlement since President Viktor Yanukovych fled Kiev and Russia snatched Crimea a year ago.
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Alaska Leads US States in Well-Being for First Time - Gallup.com

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Gallup.com

Alaska Leads US States in Well-Being for First Time
Gallup.com
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Alaska residents had the highest well-being in the nation in 2014, reaching the top spot for the first time since Gallup and Healthways began tracking well-being in 2008. West Virginia and Kentucky rank 50th and 49th, respectively, for ...
Alaska, Hawaii Lead the United States in Well-Being in Annual Gallup ...Yahoo Finance UK

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Defense to present 3rd day of testimony in 'Sniper' trial - Montana Standard

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Montana Standard

Defense to present 3rd day of testimony in 'Sniper' trial
Montana Standard
Eddie Ray Routh, left, enters the courtroom with defense attorney J. Warren St. John following a break in his capital murder trial at the Erath County, Donald R. Jones Justice Center in Stephenville, Texas, Wednesday, Feb. 18, 2015. Routh is charged with the ...

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Dancer's Death Reveals World of 'Pumping Parties,' Surgery - ABC News

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Dancer's Death Reveals World of 'Pumping Parties,' Surgery
ABC News
An exotic dancer's death at an airport hotel has led Philadelphia police to investigate the strange underworld of "pumping parties" and illegal cosmetic surgery. An aspiring rapper known as "the Black Madam" is accused of killing the 20-year-old dancer ...

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Russia A 'Real And Present Danger' To NATO States

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Russia is "testing NATO" and could target Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia next, Michael Fallon warns.

New American HIV vaccine showing striking results

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AIDS Virus under electron microscope
A radical new type of vaccine has shown positive results during tests on HIV-positive patients, bolstering hopes of fully protecting humans from AIDS in the future, researchers say.
A new type of molecule, used in the vaccine, was engineered by scientists at the Scripps Research Institute in California, which they claim blocks the HIV virus from attaching to cells, the Independent reported on Wednesday.
Usually HIV vaccination works by provoking a response in the immune system, but the new vaccine has a different approach.
During experiments initially reported in the journal Nature, the researchers discovered that four monkeys injected with the vaccine, which works by altering DNA, were protected for at least 34 weeks from all types of HIV.
Even though the new vaccine still requires human testing, experts have said it represents an “exciting” development in the fight against AIDS.
“We are closer than any other approach to universal protection, but we still have hurdles, primarily with safety for giving it to many, many people,” said lead researcher Professor Michael Farzan.
The researchers said they hoped to proceed to human testing within the year.
The search for a HIV vaccine has been going for over 30 years with only limited success. Scientists’ attempts to develop a significant protective therapy have been thwarted due to the ever-evolving nature of the virus.
        
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Oil price falls amid worries about global oversupply

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Brent crude price falls $2 per barrel following big rise in US oil inventories and rising output from Saudi Arabia
Oil prices have tumbled in the runup to the release of data expected to show US inventories at record highs. Rising production from the world’s biggest exporter, Saudi Arabia, also fuelled worries about global oversupply.
Brent crude fell $2 to $58.53 a barrel on Thursday, after hitting a two-month high of $63 a barrel on Tuesday. US crude for March delivery, which expires on Friday, also lost $2, to $50.05 a barrel.
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Islamic State Leader Used To Work As Secretary

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De-classified documents reveal details of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi's former life as a husband and office worker.

WorldViews: Why the Islamic State has its eyes on Libya

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For almost all of its existence, the Islamic State has focused on a spectacular yet singular goal: The creation of a new Islamic caliphate centered around Syria and Iraq. While there were threats and attacks further afield, these attacks were generally made by groups or individuals with relatively weak links to the Islamic State's core.Read full article >>

Number of suicides in UK increases, with male rate highest since 2001 

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ONS figures show 6,233 people over 15 killed themselves in 2013, 252 more than in 2012, and that the male suicide rate is three times greater than the female rate
The number of suicides in the UK increased, with the male rate its highest since 2001, according to the latest statistics.
Figures released by the Office for National Statistics show there was a total of 6,233 people killed over 15 killed themselves in 2013, 252 more than in 2012 and represents a 4% increase.
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Start here: Latest developments in the fight against ISIS

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ISIS ups the ante on its savagery. Iraq asks U.N. to look into organ-harvesting allegations. And U.S. President Barack Obama wants to deny the group legitimacy.
    


Frontline Ukraine: Crisis in the Borderlands by Richard Sakwa review – an ... - The Guardian

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The Guardian

Frontline Ukraine: Crisis in the Borderlands by Richard Sakwa review – an ...
The Guardian
When Arseniy Yatsenyuk, Ukraine's prime minister, told a German TV station recently that the Soviet Union invaded Germany, was this just blind ignorance? Or a kind of perverted wishful thinking? If the USSR really was the aggressor in 1941, it would suit ...

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Oil Prices Fall as US Crude Stockpiles Grow - Wall Street Journal

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Wall Street Journal

Oil Prices Fall as US Crude Stockpiles Grow
Wall Street Journal
LONDON—Oil prices fell sharply on Thursday extending their losses on expectations that U.S. crude stockpiles will reach a record level. The American Petroleum Institute, an industry group, said late Wednesday its data showed a 14.3 million-barrel increase ...
Oil falls sharply as US crude inventories riseReuters
Oil price tumble, Greece weigh on US stocksCNBC
Brent crude dips below $60 again amid fears of worsening supply shockTelegraph.co.uk
Arkansas Online -MarketWatch -The Guardian
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Lenovo accused of compromising user security by installing adware on new PCs 

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Leading PC manufacturer shipped computers containing Superfish software that could leave users permanently open to attack when using public Wi-Fi network
Lenovo, the largest PC manufacturer in world, has been accused of fatally compromising user security by installing an adware application on all its Windows computers as they leave the factory.
The software, called Superfish, purports to offer users a “visual search” experience. In actual fact, it injects third-party advertisements into Google search results and websites, without asking the user.
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Rare Amur tiger playing with her cubs caught on camera

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Footage of a rare Amur tiger playing with her cubs has been captured in China, showing the endangered big cat making a comeback in the country. Report by Sarah Kerr.
From: ODN
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Russian Army returns to Latin America 

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Vladimir Putin said that he would not allow the West to achieve military superiority over Russia. Russia will continue strengthening the nuclear potential, develop space forces, navy and long-range aviation. The Russian Navy plans to commission two new nuclear submarines. However, Russia lacks a developed system of bases that had been lost after the collapse of the USSR. Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu tried to fill the gap during his tour of Latin America on February 11-14.
Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu in Latin America
Of course, the minister discussed issues of closer cooperation in other military areas, such as arms supplies, personnel training and conducting joint drills to repel possible aggression. Noteworthy, Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba are members of the leftist bloc ALBA that considers US imperialism the main threat to overthrow legitimate governments in their countries in order to establish pro-American regimes there.
The results of the visit have not been disclosed. It is possible, though, that Defense Minister Shoigu was sounding out opportunities for Vladimir Putin’s possible visits to the above-mentioned countries to sign adequate agreements. In Nicaragua, an intergovernmental agreement was signed to establish a simplified procedure for vessels of the Russian navy to enter Nicaraguan ports. Another agreement was signed to train military specialists at Russian universities. Venezuela offered its “friendly ports” to Russian ships as well. The country is willing to organize joint drills with Russia, including with the use of multiple rocket launchers. It is possible that aircraft of the Russian Air Force may land in the country someday soon as well.
During the meeting with Cuban leader Raul Castro in Havana, Russian Defense Minister Shoigu said that “military relations develop constructively.” Shoigu expressed Russia’s gratitude to the Cuban side for the honors given to Russian military ships and vessels during their call at the port of Havana. It goes about The Victor Leonov electronic intelligence ship that paid a visit to Cuba in January 2015 and a couple of times in 2014.
Russia and Cuba agreed to train Cuban specialists in Russia. This is a very important aspect, as it means the technical and mental attachment of the armed forces of Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela to Russia. This marks a return to the Soviet system of allied military cooperation between Russia and Latin America.
This long-term strategy imposes obligations on Russia to supply its allies in Latin America with advanced weapons, including air defense systems, aircraft and warships. Such issues were discussed in Nicaragua, Pravda.Ru wrote with reference to defensa.com website. “Moscow will begin shipping patrol gunboats in Managua during the second half of 2016 as part of the package that Russia offered Nicaragua last year.”
Furthermore, if we sell or have plans to sell S-300 and S-400 systems to Beijing and Tehran, why not selling them to Managua, Caracas and Havana? Brazil has recently acquired mobile anti-aircraft Pantsir S-1 (NATO reporting name SA-22 Greyhound) systems, as well as Igla MANPADs totaling 955 million dollars.
The contract for the purchase of Pantsir S1 is to be signed in July 2015, according to the Ministry of Defence of Brazil. The systems will serve to defend the presidential palace, strategic factories, such as Embraer factory of aerospace and defense equipment, a submarine base and Itaguaí Naval Shipyard, where Brazil is building its first-ever nuclear submarine.
Russian forces returning to Latin America
On January 30, Army General Valery Gerasimov said in Moscow that Russia was planning to hold first talks with military authorities of Brazil, Vietnam, Cuba and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to hold “a number of joint naval and air exercises.”
Brazil is very important for Russia in terms of strategic partnership within the framework of the BRICS organization. Russia is unable to resist the United States in Latin America, but it can do something if the country works within the limits of this bloc.
Alberto López Girondo, a political analyst and columnist at Revista Accion from Argentina, told Pravda.Ru that Russia should cooperate with the countries of Latin America, “to strengthen strong ties between Russia, the countries of Latin America and the BRICS countries in search of new geo-political scenarios.”
The expert, however, does not find it expedient to resume the work of the Cuban base in Lourdes. During the Soviet times, the Cuban base was used as a base of electronic intelligence in light of the talks between Havana and Washington. According to the expert, now is not the time when this can happen, as it is more important for Cuba to get rid of the trade embargo.
Lopez Girondo does not think that one can be optimistic about strengthening Russia’s influence in Latin America.
“I think it goes about a trend of increasing Russia’s influence in the region, but the trend is unfavorable for the United States, – Vladimir Yevseyev, Director of the Center for Public Policy Research told Pravda.Ru. – Latin America is waiting, when Russia comes to the region. Russia is developing relations not only with Brazil, a member of the BRICS, but also with Argentina. Russia works to create an alternative to the US. This is very important for many countries, because if there is an alternative, they feel more confident in the international arena.
“Through the territory of Nicaragua, it is planned to build a new canal parallel to Panama Canal. In this case, vessels of the Russian fleet will be able to enter the Gulf of Mexico, that is exit the Pacific Ocean to enter the Atlantic. This is highly important, because in this case, Russia will be able to ensure so-called nuclear deterrence, because the Russian navy has long-range cruise missiles. If such Russian vessels are deployed somewhere near the territory of Cuba, they will be able to attack the United States. This is our response to the deployment of US military objects near the Russian border. If the United States continues to behave the same way, probably, Russia will make further steps to resume the work of the military facility in Lourdes,” Vladimir Yevseyev told Pravda.Ru.
“The United States is quite vulnerable. One may eventually have to create missile defense from the side of Florida, rather than Alaska. All these issues arise and require huge financial resources. I think it will convince the United States of the short-sightedness of this kind of policy. The Americans thoughts that Cuba would fall into their arms, but the Cubans asked the Americans to withdraw the Guantanamo military base first,” the expert told Pravda.Ru.
        
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WorldViews: Germany’s army is so under-equipped that it used broomsticks instead of machine guns 

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The German army has faced a shortage of equipment for years, but the situation has recently become so precarious that some soldiers took matters into their own hands.On Tuesday, German broadcaster ARD revealed that German soldiers tried to hide the lack of arms by replacing heavy machine guns with broomsticks during a NATO exercise last year. After painting the wooden sticks black, the German soldiers swiftly attached them to the top of armored vehicles, according to a confidential army report which was leaked to ARD.Read full article >>

New York judge proposes bill to overhaul grand jury system

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Judge Jonathan Lippman says events of past year led to a ‘crisis of confidence’ and seeks reforms to system in instances of police violence
New York’s senior judge has proposed a bill for the state legislature that would dramatically reform how grand juries work in instances involving police violence, saying the events of the past year had led to “a crisis of confidence” in the justice system.
Judge Jonathan Lippman, chief judge of the New York court of appeals, the state’s highest judicial body, announced his proposed legislation in his annual State of the Judiciary speech on Tuesday.
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NATO Fighter Jets Intercept Russian Bomber

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Video has emerged showing NATO fighter jets 'buzzing' a Russian Tu-95 bomber. 

Reports: Germany Rejects Greek Loan Proposal

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Germany has rejected Greece's proposal for a loan extension, calling it "no substantial solution", reports say.

Greece Climbs Down and Asks For Euro Bailout

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On Monday, Greece was given an ultimatum on extending its bailout and told to take it or leave it. On Thursday, it took it, or rather, it at least said it wouldlike to take it.
Jeroen Dijsselbloem, the Dutch finance minister who chairs the ‘Eurogroup’ (comprising the Eurozone’s 19 finance ministers), confirmed via his Twitter feed that the group will meet again Friday in Brussels to discuss a request from Athens for a six-month “extension” of the bailout program.
The program was due to expire at the end of the month, after which Greece would have lost access to over €10 billion ($1.15 billion) of aid.
Separately, Reuters reported a Greek official as confirming that Athens had asked to extend to its “Master Financial Assistance Facility Agreement” with the euro zone.
In keeping with the frequently surreal semantic quibbling of recent weeks, the official insisted the government was proposing different terms from its current bailout obligations. However, Reuters said that the government, in its request, pledged to abide by all its previous commitments and recognize the bailout as legally binding.
If that’s the case, then Thursday’s developments represent a major de-escalation of the growing crisis and significantly lower the risk of the situation spiralling out of control in the near term.
It’s also a major climbdown for the new government, led by the radical left-wing Syriza party, which swept to power on a pledge to overthrow the bailout agreement in January and subsequently declared it “dead”. According to Reuters, the government Thursday even accepted to continue accepting monitoring visits from the three institutions that have overseen Athens’ implementation of the bailout to date, the European Central Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the European Commission.
The Greek government’s apparent U-turn came less than a day after the ECB subtly increased the pressure on it by allowing only a minimal increase in the amount of cash it was willing to let Greek banks access.
Greeks have reportedly been pulling deposits out of the banking system in increasing numbers recently, scared at the prospect of their country being forced out of the Eurozone. The increase of only €3.3 billion in the ceiling on Emergency Lending Assistence might have left banks unable to honor requests for withdrawals
The German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung had reported earlier Thursday that the ECB would rather impose capital controls on Greece than allow its banking system to continue being drained of resources. However, the ECB later denied this, saying that: “There was no discussion on capital controls in the Governing Council and any reporting on this is incorrect.”
A deal on Friday would buy time for the new Greek government to validate its promise of cracking down on corruption and collecting more taxes, particularly from the business elite that has successfully avoided them in the past. However, it remains to be seen how Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras will reconcile Thursday’s promise to abide by the bailout with his declared intention to introduce new laws rolling back some of its key provisions.
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Saudi cleric says Earth doesn’t revolve around Sun

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A Saudi cleric has appeared in a video rejecting that Earth revolves around the sun, claiming instead that it is “stationary.” His statements have incited a fiery response on social media.
When questioned by a student about whether the Earth was stationary or moving, Sheikh Bandar al-Khaibari responded with “stationary and does not move,” Saudi-owned broadcaster Al-Arabia reported.
He then attempted to support his theory with a strange blend of logic and clerical statements.
“First of all, where are we now? We’re going to Sharjah Airport to travel to China by plane, [is that] clear? Focus with me, this is the Earth,” he said while holding up a sealed water cup.
He proceeded to say that if the plane stopped dead in its tracks in mid-air, “China would be coming towards it in case the Earth rotates in one direction. If the Earth rotates in the opposite direction, the plane would never reach China, because China is also rotating,” he said.
The shaky reasoning incited a torrent of responses on Twitter under a hashtag which roughly translates as #cleric_rejects_rotation_of_Earth.
Saudi cleric Sheikh Bandar al Khaibari trying to explain his theory that the Earth doesn’t revolve around the Sun.
“Check out this hashtag if you feel like watching your IQ plummet,” Twitter user ‘ink’ wrote.
“This is why you don’t give khutbah [a public sermon] after smoking up,”Saijaz wrote.
“No surprise women not allowed 2 drive w cretins like this,” one user commented, referencing the ultra-conservative absolute monarchy’s ban on female drivers.
“Did somebody tell that guy that there are people literally live in space?” another wrote.
Others thought the blunder was a good opportunity to educate the public on issues of science.
The statements, rather ironically, were delivered on the birthday of Galileo Galilei, the 16th century “father of modern observational astronomy” who was persecuted by the Catholic Church for supporting heliocentricism, the astronomical model in which the Earth and planets revolve around the sun at the center of the solar system.
After being found “vehemently suspect of heresy,” Galileo was forced to spend the last nine years of his life under house arrest.
In 1992, the Vatican formally and publicly cleared Galileo of any wrongdoing.
        
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U.K. Defense Secretary Says Russia is a ‘Danger’ to Baltic States 

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The U.K. Defense Secretary said there is a “real and present danger” of Russia trying to destabilize the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.
Michael Fallon told reporters Wednesday, “I’m worried about Putin. I’m worried about his pressure on the Baltics, the way he is testing Nato,” BBC reports. Fallon said he was concerned that Putin would use the same tactics he’s been testing in Ukraine on Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, so Nato must be prepared for more Russian aggression.
The three Baltic states, like Ukraine, were once part of the Soviet Union and have significant Russian-speaking minorities.
Fallon’s statements came the same day as two Russian military aircraft were coas off south-west England. Royal Air Force jets escorted the Russian bombers away from the UK.

Tsarnaev Lawyers To Argue To Move Trial Out Of Mass. Before Federal Appeals ... - WBUR

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WBUR

Tsarnaev Lawyers To Argue To Move Trial Out Of Mass. Before Federal Appeals ...
WBUR
In this courtroom sketch, Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, third from right, is depicted with his lawyers and U.S. District Judge George O'Toole Jr., right. (Jane Flavell Collins/AP). By David Boeri. BOSTON The terrorism trial of accused ...

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Leaders Push Forward With Ukraine Truce

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The leaders of France, Germany, Ukraine and Russia agreed in a telephone call to make a new push to impose a tattered cease-fire in eastern Ukraine, a day after Kiev gave up a strategic rail hub to Russia-backed rebels following days of heavy fighting.

Next Round Of Georgian-Russian Talks Scheduled

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The next round of talks between Russia and Georgia on the normalization of bilateral ties will be held on February 26.

Rudy Giuliani Said Obama Doesn't Love America - TIME

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TIME

Rudy Giuliani Said Obama Doesn't Love America
TIME
Speaking at a private dinner for Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker in Manhattan, the former mayor of New York said, “I do not believe, and I know this is a horrible thing to say, but I do not believe that the president loves America,” POLITICO reports. “He doesn't love ...
Giuliani: Obama doesn't love AmericaMiamiHerald.com
Rudy Giuliani: 'I do not believe that the president loves America'The Week Magazine
Your daily 6: 1-hit wonder faces 2 criminal charges, Happy New Year and ...STLtoday.com
MarketWatch
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Lukashenka Says Belarus Ready For Dialogue With NATO

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Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka says his country is ready for a "constructive dialogue" with NATO.
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Germany Says ‘Nein’ to Greece Bailout Request 

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Greece caved in to pressure from the rest of the Eurozone Thursday and asked for an extension of its bailout program.
But euphoria in financial markets lasted less than two hours before the German finance ministry said the request wasn’t “substantial” and didn’t offer enough guarantees that it would continue to implement reforms.
Berlin’s rejection came barely an hour after Dutch finance minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem hadconfirmed that the Eurogroup’ (comprising the Eurozone’s 19 finance ministers) would meet again Friday in Brussels to discuss the request.
The statement was unusual in that, while Germany has traditionally led the group of creditors driving a hard line at bailout negotiations for six countries over the last five years, it has rarely done anything to pre-empt discussions so thoroughly.
A deal on Friday would buy time for the new Greek government to validate its promise of cracking down on corruption and collecting more taxes, particularly from the business elite that has successfully avoided them in the past. Greece’s government hopes it could then agree a new and less onerous deal with the creditors that would allow it to recover faster.
Greece’s €240 billion program is due to expire at the end of the month, after which it will lose access to over €10 billion ($11.5 billion) of aid. On Monday, the Eurogroup had given Greece an ultimatumon extending the deal, telling finance minister Yanis Varoufakis to either take it or leave it.
A text of the request published by Reuters Thursday indicated that the government pledged to abide by all its previous commitments and recognize the bailout as legally binding. However, the wording of its first point implied that Greece wants to haggle over implementing reforms demanded by the original bailout agreement–an impression reinforced this week as Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras promised to introduce new laws rolling back some of the agreement’s key provisions.
A spokesman for Germany’s finance ministry dismissed it as “not a substantial proposal for a solution. In reality, it aims for a bridging loan without fulfilling the demands of the program.”
Even so, the request is still a major climbdown for the new government, led by Tsipras’ radical left-wing Syriza party, which swept to power on a pledge to overthrow the bailout agreement in January and subsequently declared it “dead”. It pledges to honor all of Greece’s debts and, just as importantly, to continue accepting monitoring visits from the three institutions that have overseen Athens’ implementation of the bailout to date, the hated “troika” of European Central Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the European Commission.
The request comes less than a day after the ECB subtly, but nonetheless significantly, increased the pressure on Greece by voting only a minimal increase in the amount of cash that Greek banks can access from it.
Greeks have reportedly been pulling deposits out of the banking system in increasing numbers recently, scared at the prospect of their country being forced out of the Eurozone. The increase of only €3.3 billion in the ceiling on Emergency Lending Assistence might have left banks unable to honor requests for withdrawals. The banks are already effectively barred from the ECB’s regular lending operations because the ECB no longer considers Greek government debt as good enough collateral.
The German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung had reported earlier Thursday that the ECB would rather impose capital controls on Greece than allow its banking system to continue being drained of resources. However, the ECB later denied this, saying that: “There was no discussion on capital controls in the Governing Council and any reporting on this is incorrect.”
This story updates an earlier version published before the German government issued its statement.
This article originally appeared on Fortune.com.
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