Moscow: Ukraine Announces Fast-Track Passports After Putin’s Russian Citizenship Offer

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE MOSCOW TIMES)

 

Ukraine Announces Fast-Track Passports After Putin’s Russian Citizenship Offer

Sergii Kharchenko / ZUMA Wire / TASS

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has ordered an overhaul of the process for granting Ukrainian citizenship, in response to a Russian decree expanding the number of Ukrainians who can apply for fast-track Russian passports.

Zelenskiy’s office said early on Thursday, just a few hours after the Kremlin published Russian President Vladimir Putin’s order, that the foreign ministry would simplify the procedure for certain groups to attain Ukrainian citizenship.

Those who suffer from human rights violations and constraints on freedom in their home countries, and ethnic Ukrainians “from friendly powers” willing to help Ukraine’s development, would be eligible for fast-track passports, Zelenskiy’s office said.

It did not explain which countries are considered to be friendly.

“The President made this decision because of… an order by President Vladimir Putin introducing a simpler procedure for granting Russian citizenship to Ukrainians,” the statement said.

Putin’s order added to the list of those who can apply for fast-track Russian passports Ukrainian citizens who were registered as permanent residents of government-controlled parts of Donetsk and Luhansk regions as of April 2014.

That is the date at which a military conflict with Russia-backed separatists started.

“Such a step by the Russian Federation creates additional obstacles on a path to de-escalation of the conflict, and the reintegration of the Donbass region,” the statement said.

Moscow’s move comes ahead of a Ukrainian parliamentary election on Sunday, when opinion polls suggest the Russia-friendly Opposition Platform party may emerge as the strongest opponents of Zelenskiy’s Servant of the People group.

Five years of war between Ukrainian troops and Russian-backed forces in eastern Ukraine’s Donbass region have killed 13,000 people despite a ceasefire signed in 2015. Zelenskiy has said he will do everything in his power to end the conflict.

China: Turkey blocked from F-35 program for accepting Russian S-400

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF SHANGHAI CHINA’S ‘SHINE’ NEWS NETWORK)

 

Turkey blocked from F-35 program for accepting Russian S-400: White House

Xinhua
Turkey blocked from F-35 program for accepting Russian S-400: White House

AFP

In this file photo taken on June 12, 2019, an F-35 fighter plane flies over the White House in Washington DC.

The White House confirmed on Wednesday that Turkey’s purchase of Russian S-400 air defense systems has led to the termination of Ankara’s involvement with the F-35 program.

“Turkey’s decision to purchase Russian S-400 air defense systems renders its continued involvement with the F-35 impossible,” the White House said in a statement.

The statement noted the F-35 jets cannot coexist with S-400 systems, arguing that its intelligence collection platform would be used to learn about the advanced capabilities of F-35 stealth fighters.

“Much of the F-35’s strength lies in its stealth capabilities. So, the ability to detect those capabilities would jeopardize the long-term security of the F-35 program,” Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment Ellen Lord told the media at the Pentagon later on Wednesday.

The US and other F-35 partners are aligned in this decision to suspend Turkey from the program and initiate the process to formally remove Turkey from the program, Lord said.

Turkey suppliers, which provide over 900 parts for F-35, would no longer receive US$9 billion in projected work share over the life of the program, according to Pentagon.

“Turkey will certainly and regrettably lose jobs and future economic opportunities from this decision,” Lord added.

Turkey has ordered over 100 F-35 fighter jets, and a handful of them had been scheduled to transport to Turkey in the coming months. The arrangement of those F-35 was still under discussion, according to Lord.

Ankara’s acceptance of the S-400 not only has detrimental impacts on Turkish interoperability with the NATO alliance but also undermines the commitments all NATO allies made to each other to move away from Russian systems, the White House said.

The Trump administration, at the same time, sought to reduce the repercussion for the bilateral relations.

Washington still greatly values the strategic relationship with Turkey, the statement added, saying US-Turkey military-to-military relationship is strong and the two allies would continue to cooperate extensively.

The United States has been actively working with Turkey to provide air defense solutions to meet its legitimate air defense needs, said the statement.

The statement, however, made no mention of possible sanctions against Turkey as required by law under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act.

Pentagon officials also deferred all questions about possible sanctions to the Department of State.

In December 2017, Ankara and Moscow signed a US$2.5 billion agreement for two batteries of the S-400 system. Turkey began taking the delivery of the S-400 system Friday.

Activists: Russian, Syrian Strikes Kill 11 in Idlib

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Activists: Russian, Syrian Strikes Kill 11 in Idlib

Saturday, 13 July, 2019 – 11:30
Members of the Syrian Civil Defense (White Helmets) and civilians gather following a reported regime airstrike on the village of Kafriya, in Syria’s Idlib province, on July 13, 2019. Omar HAJ KADOUR / AFP
Asharq Al-Awsat
Syrian rescuers and activists said Saturday that 11 civilians, including two families of four, have been killed in regime and Russian airstrikes inside Syria’s last opposition stronghold in Idlib province.

First responders known as White Helmets said airstrikes in Kafriya village Saturday killed a mother, her baby and another man, leaving 11 injured, including one of their volunteers.

The rescuers and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said other airstrikes in the town of Khan Sheikhoun hit a farm, killing two families— four children and four parents.

The Observatory said Russian aircraft were suspected of launching the strike.

At least 13 civilians were killed Friday in Syrian regime air strikes in the country’s northwest, including three children, the war monitor said.

Another 45 civilians were wounded in the strikes across Idlib, the Observatory added.

Turkey takes delivery of Russian S-400 systems defying US

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF SHANGHAI CHINA’S ‘SHINE’ NEWS NETWORK)

 

Turkey takes delivery of Russian S-400 systems defying US

Xinhua
Turkey takes delivery of Russian S-400 systems defying US

Xinhua

A Russian Antonov military cargo plane, carrying parts of the S-400 missile defense system from Russia, is unloaded after landing at the Murted Air Base in Ankara, Turkey, on July 12, 2019. The first batch of Russian S-400 air defense system was delivered in Turkish capital city of Ankara on Friday, the Turkish Defense Ministry said.

Turkey began taking the delivery of Russia’s S-400 air-defense system on Friday, completing a much-debated deal that is likely to trigger sanctions from the United States and test the NATO alliance.

The first components for the state-of-the-art system arrived aboard three Russian military planes at the Murted air base, located at a distant suburb of Ankara, the Turkish Defense Ministry said in a statement.

“Turkey received the first batch of S-400 air defense systems. The deliveries are sent to the Murted air base,” the ministry said. Two more deliveries are expected in the coming days.

Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told reporters in Ankara that “there is no problem in the deliveries,” adding that “the process will also continue in a healthy pace in the future.”

The purchase, which is the fruit of a controversial agreement inked between Ankara and Moscow in 2017, signals, according to observers, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s willingness to coordinate more with Russia and could set off a new crisis in relations between Turkey and the US, two major NATO allies.

The US President Donald Trump’s administration had given mixed signals about how it might respond if Turkey went through with the deal, but US officials had warned of repercussions, including canceling sales of around 100 high-tech US-made F-35 fighter jets to Ankara and the imposition of sanctions under a 2017 law in cooperation with adversaries.

During a visit to NATO headquarters in Belgium in June, acting US Defense Secretary Mark Esper said “if Turkey accepts delivery of the S-400s, they will not receive the F-35.”

However, Trump has been publicly supportive of the Turkish president and expressed recently sympathy for Erdogan’s decision to purchase the surface-to-air S-400s. Erdogan, after meeting Trump at the G-20 Summit in June in Osaka, said he did not believe that the United States would sanction Turkey.

Erdogan has refused to back down on the S-400 deal and defended the 2.5 billion US dollar acquisition of the Russian system as part of Turkey’s sovereign right to defend itself, and said he tried to purchase the US-made Patriot air defense system but was not offered favorable terms in the past.

US officials fear that Turkey’s possession of the S-400 could give Russia access to secrets of the F-35’s stealth technology and argued that it would create interoperability problems inside NATO.

Ankara has ruled out such a possibility, saying that it is a long standing NATO country, since 1952, and that the S-400 would not be integrated in NATO capabilities.

Nevertheless, Turkey’s purchase of F-35 planes could be compromised as a concrete move last month, the Pentagon said it would halt the training of Turkish pilots to fly the warplane.

Possible US economic sanctions would mark a new standoff in Turkish-American ties. Last year, Washington imposed sanctions on Turkey over its detention of an American pastor, triggering a currency crisis. Sanctions were lifted after Ankara released the clergyman.

Following the arrival of the first S-400 components to the Turkish capital, the Turkish lira dropped about 1.5 percent against the greenback, trading at 5.76 lira.

The deal with Russia also raised some concerns in Western circles that Turkey is drifting away, closer to Moscow’s sphere of influence.

Deliveries of the S-400 components to Turkey would continue “in the coming days,” according to a statement by Turkey’s defense industries authority, which did not say when or where the completed system would ultimately be deployed.

“Once the system is completely ready, it will begin to be used in a way determined by relevant authorities,” said the statement.

An official close to the matter said to Xinhua that the first battery could be deployed at Murted base and a second one likely in southeastern Turkey, near the Syrian and Iraqi border and be operational by October.

“Assessments are underway at several levels to decide on the issue, but everything is going according to plan,” said the official on the condition of anonymity.

Russia Expresses Serious Concern over Decline in Number of Refugees Leaving Rukban

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Russia Expresses Serious Concern over Decline in Number of Refugees Leaving Rukban

Thursday, 11 July, 2019 – 11:30
Humanitarian aid is prepared to be delivered to Syria, in the town of Ramtha, Jordan, July 2, 2018. (File Photo: Reuters)
Moscow – Raed Jabr
Russia has renewed its accusation of the US hindering the exit of refugees from al-Rukban camp in southern Syria, and expressed serious concern about the humanitarian situation in the region.

The Russian Reconciliation Center for Syria issued a statement strongly criticizing Washington’s actions in the region, accusing it of turning a blind eye to militants in Rukban using civilians as “human shields”, a move that aggravates the humanitarian situation.

The Center also expressed “serious concern about a decline in the number of refugees leaving the Rukban camp, due to the desire of militants controlled by the United States to keep them as human shields.”

It explained that militants have constantly increased the financial cost of allowing people to move from al-Tanf zone to the Jleb checkpoint, which falls under the control of the Syrian government.

“We draw to the attention of the international community that further retention by the United States and its allies of Syrian territories, the Rukban and al-Hol refugee camps only delays the end of the conflict in Syria, aggravates the criminal situation, hampers the repatriation of Syrians,” the statement added.

Rukban is located within a 55-km so-called deconfliction zone established by the Pentagon with the aim of shielding the Tanf garrison from attacks.

Moscow has repeatedly called for removing the displaced from the camp and announced with the Syrian authorities the establishment of two crossings for refugee exit, but they failed to convince the displaced to go to areas under regime control.

Washington is ignoring the situation, said Chief of the Russian Reconciliation Center for Syria Major General Viktor Kupchishin, adding that refugees abstain from leaving the camp because of the fuel crisis in the region and the increase in crossing fees imposed by US-affiliated militants.

Washington, in turn, accuses the Russians of blocking access of UN humanitarian aid to the region.

As of June 10, 2019, 13,539 refugees have left the Rukban camp, including 2,842 men, 3,817 women and 6,880 children, according to Russian estimates.

On the other hand, a number of Russian military and security experts believe it is time for the Russian tankers to replace Iranian tankers to cover oil shortage to Syria.

Recently, Vladimir Mukhin wrote in Nezavisimaya Gazeta newspaper saying escalation by Washington and its allies against Damascus and Tehran by trapping oil tankers will have major repercussions if Moscow does not intervene quickly to settle this issue.

Mukhin viewed the seizure of an Iranian tanker by the British Royal Marines as a plan “carefully organized in Washington and London,” recalling a statement by White House national security adviser John Bolton in which he welcomed Britain’s seizure of the tanker loaded with Iranian oil bound for Syria.

The expert said Moscow is currently facing in Syria a new phase of war against the Syrian regime and Iranian leadership.

He added that aside from the blockade on transferring goods to Syria, the United States has unofficially imposed a ban on the purchase of oil produced in Syrian territories occupied by the US forces, which is an attempt to further stifle the Syrian economy.

Nezavisimaya Gazeta reported that last month, five underwater pipelines in Syrian coastal waters from Tartus to Banias were targeted, resulting in a huge oil spill.

The experts agreed that this was a “sabotage act” carried out by militants close to “one of the major military forces hostile to the Assad regime.”

The newspaper believes Moscow should deal with current developments because it reflects an attempt to intensify the pressure on Damascus and block Russian efforts to normalize the situation in Syria.

Iranian Militias on Alert after East Syria Deployment Maps Leaked

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Iranian Militias on Alert after East Syria Deployment Maps Leaked

Saturday, 6 July, 2019 – 11:45
A picture taken on March 22, 2017 near the town of Latamneh in the countryside of the central Syrian province of Hama, shows a displaced Syrian family travelling with their belongings down a road as two rebel fighters on a motorcycle drive past them. AFP file photo
Damascus – Asharq Al-Awsat
“Eye of the Euphrates” has published on its social media sites maps and detailed locations of 13 key Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) positions in the strategic Syrian city of al-Bukamal.

The page, which was created last year and has more than 122,000 followers, published a video showing a truck transporting arms and ammunition from one base to another.

It noted that the Iranian militias have gone on high alert and were changing their deployment locations.

Fatemiyoun leader in al-Bukamal Salman al-Irani has pledged a financial award to whoever provides information on the persons monitoring and taking photographs of Iranian militia bases.

Such developments come amid unprecedented tension between Iranian and Russian forces in the wake of Russian measures east of the Euphrates to limit Iranian influence in the area.

Among the locations revealed by “Eye of the Euphrates” is a site on the banks of the Euphrates river on the other side of al-Baghouz village which now falls under the control of the Syrian Democratic Forces.

The site is a main base for Iranian militias, where 150 Fatemiyoun members are located.

Another map showed two key locations in Hay Jamiat, the first belonging to Hezbollah and the second to Harakat al-Nujaba.

This neighborhood also includes two headquarters for intelligence agents, one belonging to Hezbollah and the other to the IRGC.

According to “Eye of the Euphrates,” the headquarters of Zainebiyoun militias who are specialized in night patrols are widespread as well.

In Bukamal’s countryside, there is a base for the Fatemiyoun that constantly erects checkpoints to inspect civilians.

A meeting bringing together the national security advisers of Russia, the US, and Israel was held in Jerusalem last week to discuss Iranian presence in Syria and urged Moscow to engage in downsizing Iranian power.

Trump and Putin Share Joke About Election Meddling, Sparking New Furor

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE NEW YORK TIMES)

 

Trump and Putin Share Joke About Election Meddling, Sparking New Furor

 
President Trump and President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia on Friday had their first formal meeting in a year in Osaka, Japan.Credit Credit Erin Schaff/The New York Times

By Peter Baker and Michael Crowley

OSAKA, Japan — They were having a good time. Like old friends reuniting, they warmly shook hands, smiled and chatted amiably. And then President Trump brushed off Russia’s interference in American democracy with a joke as President Vladimir V. Putin chuckled.

The first encounter between Mr. Trump and Mr. Putin since the special counsel Robert S. Mueller III reported that Russia conducted a “sweeping and systematic” operation to sway the 2016 election proved more convivial than confrontational. Rather than challenge Mr. Putin, Mr. Trump treated it as a laughing matter.

In the process, he triggered a fresh furor over his accommodating approach to Russia and brought back old questions that have haunted him since he took office. Angry at perceived challenges to his legitimacy, he has long dismissed or at most grudgingly accepted the conclusions of American intelligence agencies that Russia sought to help his campaign.

But while Mr. Trump once hoped to leave the investigation behind and finally recalibrate the Russian-American relationship, he instead put the issue back in the spotlight as House Democrats prepare to question Mr. Mueller on camera next month.

As he sat down on Friday with Mr. Putin on the sidelines of an international summit in Japan, Mr. Trump was asked by a reporter if he would tell Russia not to meddle in American elections.

“Yes, of course I will,” Mr. Trump said.

Turning to Mr. Putin, he said, with a half-grin on his face and mock seriousness in his voice, “Don’t meddle in the election, President.”

As Mr. Putin smiled and tittered, Mr. Trump pointed at another Russian official in a playful way and repeated, “Don’t meddle in the election.”

His appointment with Mr. Putin came amid a busy visit for the annual Group of 20 summit meeting. His talks with President Xi Jinping of China, aimed at defusing a costly trade war, were the most eagerly awaited. As the two men opened their meeting on Saturday morning, Mr. Trump said that “we’re getting a little bit closer” to a deal that he thought could be “monumental and great for both countries.”

In keeping with his unpredictable streak, Mr. Trump caught many diplomats and even his own advisers off guard by publicly inviting North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, to meet him this weekend at the demilitarized zone dividing North and South Korea. Mr. Trump was already scheduled to fly to Seoul on Saturday afternoon and pay a no-longer-secret visit to the DMZ on Sunday, but no preparations had been made for a meeting with Mr. Kim.

The levity with Mr. Putin, however, dominated his first full day in Osaka and came at a time when the Kremlin leader has felt emboldened on the world stage, flexing Russian muscle in Europe, Asia, the Middle East and even South America. In an interview published just hours before the meeting, Mr. Putin celebrated the rise of the populist right in Europe and the United States and declared that traditional Western-style liberalism “has become obsolete.”

Mr. Trump and Mr. Putin, among other leaders, at a photo shoot on Friday.CreditErin Schaff/The New York Times
Credit Erin Schaff/The New York Times

Mr. Trump did not dispute Mr. Putin’s view and seemed almost to share it. As reporters and photographers entered their meeting room to set up cameras and microphones on Friday, the American president offered the sort of disdain for journalists sure to resonate with an authoritarian like Mr. Putin.

“Get rid of them,” Mr. Trump said. “Fake news is a great term, isn’t it? You don’t have this problem in Russia, but we do.”

“We also have,” Mr. Putin insisted in English. “It’s the same.”

In fact, Mr. Putin has made a hallmark of his nearly two decades in power a takeover of major news outlets. Russia’s relatively few independent journalists often come under intense pressure and, in some cases, have even been killed.

It fell to other leaders gathered in Osaka to volunteer the rebuttal to Mr. Putin’s worldview that Mr. Trump did not. “What I find really obsolete are: authoritarianism, personality cults, the rule of oligarchs,” said Donald Tusk, the president of the European Council. “Even if sometimes they may seem effective.”

The bonhomie between Mr. Trump and Mr. Putin came in sharp contrast to Mr. Putin’s frigid meeting with Prime Minister Theresa May of Britain, their first since a former Russian spy living in her country was poisoned by agents that Britain has traced to Russia. Stiff and severe, Mrs. May refused to smile or exchange pleasantries as she sat down with Mr. Putin. Aides later said she upbraided him behind closed doors over the poisoning, calling it a “truly despicable act.”

Mr. Trump’s friendlier session touched off another domestic backlash like the one he endured after their last official meeting in Helsinki, Finland, last year when, standing at Mr. Putin’s side, the president challenged the conclusion of his own intelligence agencies about the Russian election operation and credited the Kremlin leader’s “extremely strong and powerful” denial.

“As Robert Mueller said, Russian interference in our democracy should concern every American,” Representative Adam Schiff, a California Democrat and chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, wrote on Twitter on Friday. “But not the president, apparently, who thinks it’s a joke.”

Former President Jimmy Carter, who at times has been sympathetic to Mr. Trump’s complaints about media coverage, responded sharply on Friday to the president’s comments in Osaka. Going further than some Democrats, he even suggested that the president did not genuinely earn the office.

“I think a full investigation would show that Trump didn’t actually win the election in 2016,” Mr. Carter said at a conference sponsored by the Carter Center. “He lost the election and he was put into office because the Russians interfered on his behalf.”

That assessment goes to the heart of Mr. Trump’s resistance to taking the Russian interference more seriously, according to his advisers. In his view, the intense focus on the matter is mainly a partisan effort to undermine his legitimacy as president.

And he has argued that there was nothing wrong about accepting incriminating information about an election opponent from a hostile foreign power, saying recently that “I’d take it” and did not necessarily see a need to call the F.B.I.

Mr. Trump during the summit’s opening plenary session on Friday.CreditErin Schaff/The New York Times

“It’s a great honor to be with President Putin,” Mr. Trump said as they sat together. “We’ve had great meetings,” he added. “We have had a very, very good relationship. And we look forward to spending some pretty good time together. A lot of very positive things going to come out of the relationship.”

Mr. Putin said they would discuss trade, disarmament and other issues. “All this will be built on a very good relationship that will be between us,” he said. “I think that the results of this meeting will be excellent.” Russian officials later reported that Mr. Putin had invited Mr. Trump to visit Moscow next spring for the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II, and that the American president seemed positive.

The White House summary of the leaders’ meeting indicated that they talked about Mr. Trump’s proposed three-way arms control agreement with China, as well as about disputes in Iran, Syria, Venezuela and Ukraine. The summary made no mention of election interference, nor anything about two Americans who have been arrested by the Russian authorities on disputed charges.

Likewise, it said nothing about an international investigation this month that pointed to Russia in the 2014 downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over Ukraine, which killed all 298 people on board. International prosecutors have indicted three men with ties to Russian military and intelligence agencies in the destruction of the passenger jet and implicated, without charging, a senior aide to Mr. Putin.

Nor did the summary indicate that the leaders talked about Russia’s seizure of three Ukrainian ships and two dozen sailors last November, events that prompted Mr. Trump to cancel a scheduled meeting with Mr. Putin, and that remain unresolved. When a reporter asked about the ships and sailors on Friday, the president said, “We haven’t discussed them.”

While Mr. Putin did not address the election issue with reporters on Friday, he scoffed at the idea of Russian involvement during an interview before flying to Osaka. He advanced the same line of argument that Mr. Trump does: that he won in 2016 because he was in better touch with Americans.

“Russia has been accused, and, strange as it may seem, it is still being accused, despite the Mueller report, of mythical interference in the U.S. election,” Mr. Putin told The Financial Times. “What happened in reality? Mr. Trump looked into his opponents’ attitude to him and saw changes in American society, and he took advantage of this.”

He complimented Mr. Trump’s political skill. “I do not accept many of his methods when it comes to addressing problems,” Mr. Putin said. “But do you know what I think? I think that he is a talented person. He knows very well what his voters expect from him.”

Following the interview, however, the Kremlin pulled back Mr. Putin’s rejection of liberalism, saying he was “still very close to the ideas of liberalism.”

“We agree completely that authoritarianism and the rule of oligarchs are obsolete,” Dmitri S. Peskov, his spokesman, told reporters. “ At the same time, if authoritarianism exists somewhere, this is a question of the people of these countries. We should not judge them and change the regime and government in these countries.”

Andrew Kramer, Ivan Nechepurenko and Oleg Matsnev contributed reporting from Moscow.

Follow Peter Baker and Michael Crowley on Twitter: @peterbakernyt and @michaelcrowley.

A version of this article appears in print on , on Page A1 of the New York edition with the headline: Trump and Putin Share a Chuckle About Meddling. Order Reprints | Today’s Paper | Subscribe

Trusting The Government: U.S., Russia, China, North Korea, All The Same?

Trusting The Government: U.S., Russia, China, North Korea, All The Same?

 

I was born in the mid 1950’s and grew up watching Walter Cronkite deliver the evening news. Mr. Cronkite was by most considered to be the “most trusted man in America.” Whom is it that you totally trust the most in American news media or within the political realm today? With all the news outlets of today all trying to get you to watch or listen to them I find it difficult to put much trust in any of them. There are two main reasons for that, one is that each of these outlets are companies, they are ‘for profit’. Two is the consideration of where are they getting their information?

 

I am in my early 60’s now so during the past 50 years or so we here in the U.S. have been constantly told that we are the good guys and governments who are Communist are the bad guys. From all of the reading and studying that I have done over the years I really don’t doubt that these Communists governments are far less than friendly toward their own population nor to others. Communists seem to think military first and usually military only and it is a proven fact that very few people who are military oriented are very good public leaders. Military frame of mind and civilian frame of mind seldom seem to end up within the same person. Then again within the non-communists countries the people have to put up with politicians who seem to change their mind like farts in a breeze. Here in the U.S. we the people have learned a lot since the NSA murdered John and Bobby Kennedy back in the 60’s. When Nixon was President he illegally expanded the war in Vietnam into Laos and Cambodia. We had military personal who died there or were captured there that our government turned their back on as well as their families basically saying they must have deserted. When the U.S. officially left Vietnam Nixon got on TV and said there were no more POWs in southeast Asia, knowing very well that he was lying to the people. Reality comes down to the fact of truth or not the truth, trust or not being able to trust.

 

Now I am going to talk about current events here in the U.S. and this reality of trust or no trust. On a personal level can you trust a person on really serious matters when you absolutely know as a fact that they have lied to you many many occasions?  In the last 24-36 hours we have been hearing on the news that Iran shot down an unmanned U.S. spy drone. The early news strongly hinted that the drone was over Iranian land which by all forms of international law would have been a violation committed by the Americans and Iran would have had every right to shoot it down. By international law every country which borders a body of water has 12 miles sovereignty except for China’s Communists government who seems to want to claim at least a few thousand miles sovereignty but that is another story for other articles. Now the U.S. government is saying that the drone was 21 miles off of Iran’s coast and if this is true then basically Iran committed and act of war against the U.S. and the U.S. government would have the right to retaliate against Iran. The issue is, how can we trust our own government when they and especially our President is a habitual liar? President George W. Bush’s lies paved the way for us to start a war with Iraq. Personally I believe that he was just trying to show his Daddy that he could ‘one-up’ him and take out Saddam. Think of the cost of those lies in terms of thousands of people dead and about a trillion dollars of taxpayer money thrown into that bloodbath. Today’s news headline said that some of the Republicans in the Senate were upset that President Trump called off a bombing raid in Iran that would have started an all out war with them and their allies. Going to war with anyone should not be a partisan matter and going to war should not be in the hands of one person. If we are going to enter a war this war should be voted on and passed by at least 2/3 of the Congress and the Senate. This is not a computer game, many thousands of people will die. So, what is the truth on this matter, can you or I honestly trust anything that Mr. Trump says? Personally I don’t. Credibility is something that our leaders no longer have, their word is not good enough any more. If we go to war with Iran they have many allies including many sleeper cells within our own borders, many Americans on American land will die, life as we have always know it here in the States will be over. But, how the hell can we the people ever know if what we are being told is the truth, or just another lie.

 

Russia: Faced with protests, Putin blinks — but don’t expect a Moscow Spring

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

Faced with protests, Putin blinks — but don’t expect a Moscow Spring

Russia police drop charges against reporter after backlash
Russia police drop charges against reporter after backlash 03:11

Moscow (CNN)Russian President Vladimir Putin has been in power for nearly two decades, but he still has the capacity to surprise: This week, he unexpectedly showed that the Kremlin — on rare occasions — has a reverse gear.

To recap: On Tuesday, Russian authorities dropped a criminal case against a top investigative reporter known for exposing local corruption. The journalist, Ivan Golunov, had been arrested on an attempted drug-distribution charge that he and his colleagues insisted evidence had been planted by police.
As it turns out, the charges indeed had been fabricated. The police officers who arrested Golunov were suspended from active duty, and on Thursday Putin sacked two top interior ministry officials — the chief of internal affairs at the western district of Russia, Andrei Puchkov, and head of the Moscow directorate for drug control at the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Yuri Devyatkin — in connection with the case.
It was an unexpected reversal after an outpouring of solidarity from Russian civil society. Journalists rallied to Golunov’s side, staging rotating, one-person vigils outside of the main building of the Moscow branch of the Ministry of Internal Affairs at 38 Petrovka Street. Three leading newspapers on Monday published identical front pages with the slogan, “I/we are Ivan Golunov.” And campaigners organized a march in his support on Wednesday.

In this photo, Russia's three major newspapers use the same headline that reads: "I/we are Ivan Golunov"

But Putin’s grip on power was never seriously in peril.
For starters, there was the response to Wednesday’s march. Organizers had hoped to build on the momentum of previous days, as thousands expressed interest in turning out for the demonstration. But the unexpected decision to release Golunov from house arrest clearly diminished interest. Golunov himself did not take part, and discussion about whether to proceed with protests sparked internal squabbling among Russia’s already fractured opposition.
And the authorities moved quickly and forcefully to shut down the unsanctioned demonstration that went ahead on Wednesday. When marchers turned out at the Chistye Prudy metro station in downtown Moscow, they were ordered to disperse by police. As they moved in the direction of 38 Petrovka Street, they were met by a cordon of police who effectively dispersed the march, with small squads of riot police collaring individual demonstrators and locking them inside police buses.
Demonstrators chanted, “Shame! Shame!” but it was all over within a few hours.
But while the protest in Moscow was far, far smaller than the wave of demonstrations seen in Hong Kong, the events of the week were still an unusual display of discontent with Putin. And the official climbdown in the face of street demonstrations was the most stunning: Russian authorities, for instance, have continued to hold US investor Michael Calvey, despite both domestic lobbying and diplomatic pressure from the US.

"Vladimir Putin's grip on power was never seriously in peril."

Voices from Moscow

What appeared to have mobilized some to take part in the protests was not necessarily Putin Fatigue, but resentment of local police, whom Russians distrust for corruption and arbitrary arrests.
“What is happening in this country is totally wrong, when drugs are being planted on a person who does not use them,” a young man from a city on the Volga River visiting Moscow told CNN. “The cops usually act like that.”
But his criticism did not extend to Putin.
“As for Putin, I can’t state that he is a bad ‘ruler’ or something like that. As far as we know, he is quite a good man. I think he should deal with this situation and find out why the law-enforcement bodies have got to the point of planting drugs on people who do not use them, while they fail to catch those who sell tons of them.”
Another woman, a Muscovite, said she didn’t watch the march in support of Golunov. But when told of the circumstances of his case, she said, “I stand for him.”
Asked if Putin’s reputation had taken a hit over the whole affair, she said, “I think yes, and we will do nothing about it.”
Such candor has its limits: Both individuals when approached by CNN asked that their names not be used.
Still, many outspoken Russians have taken to social media to opine on the meaning of the week’s events. And the Golunov case started a wider discussion about revising Article 228 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation, the portion of the criminal code that covers drug crimes.
Writing on Twitter, Yevgeny Roizman, the opposition former mayor of the city of Yekaterinburg, took it further, saying “the entire Criminal Code of the Russian Federation must be revised, since it is an instrument for political persecution.”
That’s a larger discussion that the Kremlin, most likely, is not ready to entertain.

An Asteroid Impact With the Earth in September Is Not Entirely Impossible 

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF INVERSE NEWS)

 

An Asteroid Impact With the Earth in September Is Not Entirely Impossible

It is extremely unlikely, but the probability is actually higher than zero.

Dinosaur asteroid impact

Filed Under AsteroidsESA & NASA

Keep September free … because a massive, football field-sized asteroid has a one in 7,300 chance of smashing into the Earth on the morning of September 9, 2019, according to the European Space Agency.

But it most likely won’t hit us.

Known as asteroid 2006 QV89, it has a diameter of 164 feet — that’s double the width of the meteor that exploded in the atmosphere over Chelyabinsk in Russia in 2013. That meteor came from behind the shadow of the sun and wasn’t seen by astronomers until it was already entering our atmosphere.

Current modeling of the asteroid’s orbit shows it more likely passing by Earth at a distance of over 4.2 million miles this September, but ESA says there’s roughly a one hundredth of a 1 percent chance the model is wrong and it hits our planet instead.

Only last month, US scientists took part in an exercise simulating an imminent asteroid impact with the Earth, and NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine warned that we need to take the real-world threat seriously during his keynote speech at the International Academy of Astronautics Planetary Defense Conference in College Park, Maryland.

But it most likely won’t hit us.

New York gets hit by a meteor shower in the 1998 movie 'Armageddon'
New York gets hit by a meteor shower in the 1998 movie ‘Armageddon’. 

Bridenstine also said that detecting, tracking, and studying asteroids and other near-Earth objects (NEOs) should be taken more seriously following the Chelyabinsk event. The resulting shock wave from that 65-foot-wide asteroid damaged thousands of buildings, and debris and flying glass injured over 1,500 people.

Last June, NASA produced a 20-page plan that details the steps the US should take to be better prepared for NEOs that come within 30 million miles of Earth.

Lindley Johnson, the space agency’s planetary defense officer, said that the country “already has significant scientific, technical, and operational capabilities” to help with NEOs, but implementing the new plan would “greatly increase our nation’s readiness and work with international partners to effectively respond should a new potential asteroid impact be detected.”

According to a 2018 report put together by Planetary.org, there are more than 18,000 NEOs.

Hollywood enjoyed a brief spell of asteroid impact-themed disaster movies during the summer of 1998. In the movie Deep Impact, a comet 1½ miles long slammed into the Atlantic ocean off the coast of Cape Hatteras, creating, at first, a tsunami 100 feet high traveling at 1,100 mph (that’s faster than the speed of sound). Then, when it reached shallow water, it slowed but increased in height to 3,500 feet. The wave washed away farmland and cities and eventually reached as far inland as the Ohio and Tennessee valleys (over 600 miles).

But it most likely won’t hit us.