41 People confirmed dead in plane fire in Moscow’s airport

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

 

41 people confirmed dead in plane fire in Moscow’s airport

Xinhua

Video from AFP.

Russia’s Investigative Committee confirmed Monday that 41 people were killed after an SSJ-100 passenger plane en route to the northwestern Russian city of Murmansk caught fire before an emergency landing Sunday at the Sheremetyevo International Airport in Moscow.

“41 people died,” Elena Markovskaya, representative of the committee’s Moscow Interregional Investigation Department for Transport, was quoted by Tass news agency as saying.

The committee reported 37 survivors from the 78 people aboard the airliner in an earlier statement.

The plane reportedly took off from the Sheremetyevo Airport at 6pm local time (1500 GMT) and made an emergency landing after circling over the Moscow region for about 40 minutes.

It was “engulfed in flames” before the emergency landing, Tass news agency quoted a source as saying.

It was previously reported that the fire could be caused by lightening strike.

The committee has opened a criminal case on violation of safety regulations for air transport and started further investigation of the accident, according to the statement.

Investigators began to interview the victims, eyewitnesses, airport staff and the airline carrier, as well as others responsible for the operation of the aircraft, it said.

The causes and circumstances are being verified and an explicit conclusion will be made after a comprehensive study of the data and documentation is completed, the committee said.

Xinhua

An SSJ-100 passenger plane catches fire at Sheremetyevo airport outside Moscow on May 5.

Russian journalists unmask a famous anti-Kremlin blogger, sparking ethical debate

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF GLOBAL VOICES)

 

Too big to be anonymous? Russian journalists unmask a famous anti-Kremlin blogger, sparking ethical debate

At the time of writing, StalinGulag’s blog on Telegram had 355 thousand subscribers. In a highly unusual move, Telegram’s creator Pavel Durov even gave StalinGulag a verification badge — something that only a few select blogs on Telegram can boast to have // Photo by Runet Echo

StalinGulag is an immensely popular Russian political blogger. He has more than one million followers on Twitter, and 347,000 subscribers to his channel. This places him among the top five most followed bloggers on Telegram, an essential platform for politically active Russians.

His acerbic, profanity-laden critiques of Russia’s political system and latest news generate thousands of likes and retweets. Here’s a typical one:

Сталингулаг@StalinGulag

«Ради приезда Ким Чен Ына во Владивосток более 23 тысячам студентов Дальневосточного федерального университета отменили занятия на пять дней»

Представляете, ради пухлого диктатора закроют Гарвард, например? Потому что где-то народ – это граждане, а где-то просто скот

1 103 человек(а) говорят об этом

While Kim Jong Un is visiting Vladivostok, five days worth of classes were cancelled for 23 thousand students of the Far Eastern Federal University. Can you imagine Harvard closing down for a visit of a plump dictator? Because somewhere the people are citizens and in other places they are nothing but cattle.

Until recently, StalinGulag’s identity was a mystery. But in July 2018, RBC, a business news outlet known for its investigative exposes of the infamous St. Petersburg “troll factory,” used open source intelligence methods to trace StalinGulag’s true identity to that of one 26-year-old Alexander Gorbunov, an online trader from Makhachkala, the capital of the North Caucasian republic of Dagestan.

When RBC’s investigation came out, StalinGulag dismissed the report as conjecture based on hearsay and attacked the journalists for “blaming an unsuspecting person for something they didn’t do.”

There were no further corroborations or follow-ups on RBC’s story, but theories about the real owners of StalinGulag and their motivations kept emerging.

Some wondered if there was a real person behind the account. Others suggested it was run by a group of individuals. A former Ukrainian special services officer even alleged that the StalinGulag blog was secretly controlled by the SBU — Ukraine’s primary intelligence agency and successor to the KGB.

Things took a dramatic turn in April 2019, when StalinGulag announced on his blog that police were searching the home of Alexander Gorbunov’s elderly parents, on the premise that his phone number was used to commit an act of “telephone terrorism.” The author of StalinGulag continued distancing himself from Alexander Gorbunov, while offering the latter support and even promoting a separate channel called “Sanya [short for Alexander] from Dagestan.”

Then, on April 30, the online investigative outlet Baza interviewed Gorbunov’s mother who confirmed that Alexander Gorbunov was indeed the same person who ran the StalinGulag blogs — thus finally corroborating RBC’s original report and confirming StalinGulag’s true identity.

It turned out that StalinGulag is indeed Alexander Gorbunov — now 27 and living in Moscow, but originally born in Makhachkala. Gorbunov is wheelchair-bound and suffering from a chronic, rapidly progressing condition known as Werdnig-Hoffman disease, the most severe type of spinal muscular atrophy.

When it became clear that any further denials would be pointless, Gorbunov himself finally came out in an exclusive interview with BBC Russian — coincidentally, the same outlet where the author of the original exposé of his identity, Andrey Zakharov, currently works as an investigative reporter.

Here’s how BBC Russian described the first public appearance of one of the most sought-after anonymous political bloggers in Russia:

For someone whose pithy tweets frequently contain expletives and slang, Gorbunov in real life comes across as articulate, educated and thoughtful.

He arrives at the BBC office smartly dressed in a black polo-neck and tweed jacket. He speaks softly and with the quiet confidence of someone who is used to being listened to.

In the interview, Gorbunov spoke of the difficulties of growing up as a disabled person in one of the least wheelchair-friendly places in Russia. He expressed his desire to provide the best care for himself and his forays in online business, from selling dietary supplements to dreams of setting up his own investment fund. These ambitions were crushed, he said, when StalinGulag’s real identity was revealed in 2018 and his prospective partners bailed out of the deal for fear of political repercussions.

One might wonder why he chose this particular name. His intention, he explained, was to troll Stalin fans who would flock to a familiar name and the avatar of Joseph Stalin smoking a pipe, expecting to read praises of the dictator but seeing instead something radically different.

An outpouring of sympathetic messages on Russian social media followed his BBC Russian interview. Even those who disliked StalinGulag’s crude, populist messaging lauded his strength of spirit and will to live despite his severe physical impairments.

M̢̎̈ͅa͔̜̲̭̱͇̬͌̓̈́ͭ̀r̶͓̣̥͇̼͕͚͊ͧ͛ͩ̅͛͆́̈́̕ͅk̰̦ͬ̊̀̎ͥ̐͛̒̃@Mark__Shein

Сталингулаг вообще молодец. если бы на меня жизнь вывалила столько говна, не уверен что у меня хватило бы сил даже просто дышать. А чувак что-то делает, старается. респектище кароч.

18 человек(а) говорят об этом

Stalingulag is a great guy after all. If life poured so much shit on me, I’m not sure I’d have the strength to even breathe. And this dude is doing something, carrying on. huge respect to him, I’d say.

рывкин

@Andrew_Ryvkin

Этот человек – чертов герой

bbcrussian

@bbcrussian

Первое интервью автора Telegram-канала “Сталингулаг” Александра Горбунова. Видео https://bbc.in/2GQ3qRy 

Смотреть другие твиты рывкин

This man is a goddamn hero.

Смерть неизбѣжна@death_is_invtbl

ну вот многие хуесосили сталинагулаг за всякую ебанину (и надо сказать, за дело, пишет временами отвратительно), но вот сегодня оказалось, что он вполне самостоятельный сильный человек, который зарабатывает и живёт совсем другим, бывает, дя

Смотреть другие твиты Смерть неизбѣжна

Many would badmouth stalingulag for the crap he’s been putting out there (and for good reason, his writing is sometimes atrociously bad), but it turned out today that he is an independent, strong person who makes his living on something quite unrelated [to his blog] and lives a full life. So it happens, yes.

The case also prompted fierce debates in the Russian media community about the justification for such unmasking anonymous bloggers in an atmosphere where any government critic could be targeted for persecution or harassment.

Roman Volobuyev, a former journalist and currently a film director, wrote on his Facebook page, addressing the editors of RBC, the outlet which ran the original expose of StalinGulag’s identity:

What is the societal value of publishing these incomplete biographical details? Where is the public good that outweighs the cops’ visit to his mom, the surveillance and other “bonuses” now heaped on him? What “informed decision” was society prevented from making while being unaware that the man’s name is Sasha? (Even if we naively assume that our society is capable of acting on the information instead of just passively consuming it and forgetting about it the next day.)

Valery Igumenov, who was editor at RBC when the original investigation of StalinGulag came out in 2018, responded to Volobuyev with a comment that left many scratching their heads:

We were interested in who was writing this and why. The most popular Telegram channel, 300 thousand views per post, and no one knows who it is. This is a question people have been asking each other all the time. Why tell about it? Day in, day out the author is sending these, without doubt, ideologically charged messages, getting into people’s heads: everything is going to shit, it’s all bad and only going to get worse, life is impossible, can’t even keep your head upright, just lie down and die. Meanwhile, the man himself is still somehow finding the will to live, to make money, to have other interests outside this neverending torrent of doom and gloom, but still is dumping on others nothing but despair and bile, without hope, without options, without an exit in sight. I don’t think a person like this deserves the right to anonymity, because all he’s doing is just multiplying the helplessness and despair while staying out of sight himself.

Valery Igumenov argued that there was public interest in knowing the person behind an immensely popular political blog, even though it did not in the end, contrary to the original assumption of the investigative reporter, turn out to be the work of a shadowy team of professionals waging an information war.

Since RBC is a business publication, those who agreed with Igumenov said, there was still merit in exploring the one-man media empire which brought its owner considerable profit in advertisement. StalinGulag also offered sponsored posts for upwards from 150 thousand rubles, or approximately 2,300 US dollars.

However, many of Igumenov’s colleagues and members of the public were disgusted by the idea that a person should be denied anonymity if their writings are too “depressive.” Screenshots of Igumenov’s comments started circulating online, with many former and current media professionals condemning the lapse in judgement that, in their minds, led to exposing a vulnerable person to danger because an editor didn’t like his style.

Liusia Shteyn, an opposition politician and a local council member in Moscow, wrote:

I don’t like the style of angry posting of screencapped comments, but here I couldn’t help myself! That’s how RBC’s former editor justifies Stalingulag’s deanon[ymization] last summer. Don’t transmit your frustration into the world, lest a fair-minded journalist decides that you don’t deserve to be anonymous, and cops will bust into your mama’s home!

But others thought that, Igumenov’s peculiar emotional arguments aside, there still was journalistic value in RBC’s investigation of Stalingulag’s identity.

Amid these debates, some government loyalists found silver linings in the story:

Владимир Демидко@vdemidko

А вообще, смешно, оппозиционный блоггер СталинГулаг личным примером показал, что Россия – страна возможностей, где инвалид может хорошо зарабатывать своим умом, заниматься политикой и жить в самом дорогом городе страны.

Смотреть другие твиты Владимир Демидко

It’s ironic, after all, that an opposition blogger like StalinGulag demonstrated through personal example that Russia is a land of opportunity where a disabled person can make a good living with his own mind, dabble in politics and live a full life in the most expensive city in the country.

The debates about whether StalinGulag’s unmasking served any public interest are still ongoing, but it’s already clear that it’s a landmark case in history of Russian independent media.

Turkey Says Not Distancing Itself From NATO With S-400 Deal

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

 

Turkey Says Not Distancing Itself from NATO with S-400 Deal

Friday, 3 May, 2019 – 10:30
FILE PHOTO: A Lockheed Martin F-35 aircraft is seen at the ILA Air Show in Berlin, Germany, April 25, 2018. REUTERS/Axel Schmidt
Asharq Al-Awsat
Turkey is not distancing itself from the NATO alliance by buying Russian S-400 missile defense systems, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said on Friday, adding that Ankara should not be excluded from the F-35 jet project over the purchases.

Turkey and the United States, NATO allies, have been at odds over Ankara’s move to buy the Russian S-400s, which Washington says are not compatible with NATO systems and may threaten the Lockheed Martin F-35 fighter jets, of which Turkey is a prospective buyer and partner in production, Reuters reported.

In an interview with broadcaster NTV, Akar said that excluding Turkey from the F-35 project would put “very serious” burdens on the other partners in the project.

“There is no clause saying ‘you will be excluded if you buy S-400s’ in this partnership. Excluding us just because any one country wants so would not be in line with justice, laws or rights. This should not happen,” Akar said, according to Reuters.

He said Turkey was trying to explain to the United States and other partners in the F-35 project that the S-400s would not pose a threat to the jets, and added that Ankara had taken measures to prevent that.

In his strongest challenge yet to warnings that Turkey may be removed from the F-35 project, President Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday that the project would collapse if Turkey did not participate.

While Washington has warned of potential US sanctions if Ankara pushed on with the S-400 agreement, Turkey has said it would not back down from the deal.

Instead, Turkey has proposed to form a working group with the United States to assess the impact of the S-400s, but says it has not yet received a response from US officials.

Akar said on Friday Turkey was still evaluating the latest US offer to sell Raytheon Co. Patriot systems, which he said was more positive than Washington’s previous offers.

Putin And Limbaugh: Founding Brothers Of Far Right Hate?

Putin And Limbaugh: Founding Brothers Of Far Right Hate?

 

When anyone writes an article or a letter all they are really doing is giving their opinion on the subject matter they are writing about.  I believe that this is so, unless the writer is purposely lying in trying to get you to believe what is not the truth, as they believe it to be. Truth, what if the writer is simply telling the Truth you may say? Whose version of the truth though? To me, there is only one version of ‘The Truth’ and that is when it is by the lips of G-d Himself. You see, that is 100% Truth. Human versions of truth are flawed when we lack 100% knowledge of the issue, or when a person tries to ‘slant the truth’ to fit their own agendas. A good example would be a politician who says they are telling the truth when in deed only 1% is truth and 99% is BS. They can then say that they told the truth, the exception to this rule would have to be someone like our President who doesn’t have a clue about reality at all. When you have an habitual liar as your country’s Leader, you have a dictator for a president. Here in the U.S. we have a ‘wanna-be’ Dictator right now, unlike Russia, they have the real thing.

 

Here in the U.S. we have a lot of the responsibility of having helped bring Mr. Putin to power in Russia! Think about it, Hollywood, Nation Media and many of our Politicians started in on Russia bashing almost as soon as the Wall fell in late 1989. We portrayed Russia and her people as ignorant, inept and lazy. We (Hollywood, Media, Politicians) stepped all over the personal and National Pride of this Nation and Her people. Folks it is we who helped bring this mass murdering Dictator onto the Russian National scene. He did what a Dictator does if they want to stay in power, they get the military and the security agencies on their side, then they take control of all the Media outlets and then they use them against their own people. Now the people of Russia are the only ones who should remove their Monster. Ultra Nationalists are by my belief ‘far-right.’ Far-Right just like far-Left refuse to compromise and if you are a Dictator you don’t have to compromise. Also, I believe that ‘extremists’ are by their nature, hate filled. Hate filled people tend to refuse any compromise on anything. Personally I do believe that Mr. Putin is one of these type of persons. Yet I ask you a question, which is better, a rather intelligent Dictator or a wanna-be Dictator who is a total imbecile?

 

Now, I would like to bring up the second subject in this letter to you tonight, Rush Limbaugh. I first started hearing of Mr. Limbaugh back when Bush Senior was our President so that would have been 1989-93. In my opinion he was so far to ‘the-right’ that he was almost comical but when he picked up a following of far-right ‘Haters’ he was no longer humorous. Mr. Limbaugh is a very smart person, he found a niche then he worked it to his financial independence. Trouble is (in my opinion) the agenda he often spouts should be considered as hate speech. In a Democracy there must be compromise for without that, you have a Dictatorship. Mr. Limbaugh has for decades preached from his Bully Pulpit against ever compromise. Back when Senator John McCain was the Republican Candidate for President Mr. Limbaugh railed against him because he was a moderate, meaning that Mr. McCain would compromise with the Democrats in order to pass legislation. Do you remember during the 2016 Republican Presidential Debates that Texas Senator Ted Cruz looked straight into the camera and strongly insisted that if he were to be elected President that he would not ‘negotiate with the Democrats.’ Folks in my opinion, this builds the foundation of Dictatorships. Folks, hate is hate and Mr. Limbaugh and Mr. Putin have been preaching hate for decades now. These two just like with many others are simply Brothers (of hate) born of different Mothers but their Daddy (the Father of Hate and Lies) is pure evil.

 

 

Damascus, Tel Aviv Exchange ‘Goodwill’ Gestures

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

 

Damascus, Tel Aviv Exchange ‘Goodwill’ Gestures

Sunday, 28 April, 2019 – 06:30
An Israeli soldier stands next to signs pointing out distances to different cities at an observation post in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. (Reuters)
Moscow, Beijing, London – Raed Jaber and Asharq Al-Awsat
A series of “goodwill gestures” emerged on Saturday between Damascus and Tel Aviv related to a prisoner exchange.

An Israeli official said Tel Aviv decided in the past few days to release two Syrian prisoners as a goodwill gesture after the return of the remains of Israeli soldier Zachary Baumel.

Baumel went missing during in a battle between Israeli and Syrian forces in Sultan Yaqub during the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982. His remains were recovered by Russian forces in Syria and returned to Israel earlier this month.

A Syrian regime source told Reuters that authorities had pressured Moscow to secure the prisoners’ release after news emerged that the Israeli soldier’s remains were being handed over.

Israel’s Prison Service identified the two prisoners as Ahmed Khamis and Zidan Taweel.

Khamis, from a Palestinian refugee camp in Syria, was a member of the Palestinian Fatah group and was jailed in 2005 after he tried to infiltrate an Israeli military base in order to carry out an attack.

Taweel, from the Syrian Druze village of Hader, was jailed in 2008 for drug smuggling.

Meanwhile, Syria’s representative to the UN, Bashar al-Jaafari said on Saturday that “Turkey’s occupation is four times larger than Israel’s and that Turkey’s negative attitude to Syria is thus four times worst than Israel.”

He compared the Israeli occupation of the Syrian Golan Heights to Ankara’s “occupation” of Syrian territory in the North. He charged that Turkey was occupying some 6,000 kms of Syrian land, encompassing Afrin and Idlib.

He also accused it of constructing 70-km wall south of Manbij to separate it from Aleppo and imposing a Turkish curriculum at schools.

Chinese, Russian Presidents Hold Talks

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

 

Chinese, Russian presidents hold talks

Xinhua

The Belt and Road Initiative

AFP

Chinese President Xi Jinping (R) shakes hands with Russian President Vladimir Putin during a ceremony at Tsinghua University in Beijing on April 26, 2019.

Chinese President Xi Jinping Friday held talks with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the Second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing.

Xi said the relationship between China and Russia has become a major-country relationship featuring the highest degree of mutual trust, the highest level of coordination and the highest strategic value since the two countries established diplomatic ties 70 years ago.

“We should always regard each other as important development opportunities, support each other and draw on each other’s strength to achieve revitalization together,” he said.

Stressing that Russia is an important partner in the joint development of the Belt and Road Initiative, Xi said the alignment of the BRI with the Eurasian Economic Union is a model of regional economic cooperation.

The two sides should continue to promote cooperation in economy and trade, energy, science and technology, aerospace, connectivity, as well as cooperation at sub-national level and people-to-people and cultural exchanges, Xi said, adding that China will send a pair of giant pandas to Russia for joint research.

Xi also noted that China and Russia should enhance coordination in international affairs, jointly defend the authority of the United Nations and the UN Security Council, uphold the international law and universally recognized norms governing international relations, firmly promote multi-polarity and democracy of international relations, and uphold multilateralism.

The BRI, proposed by President Xi, has provided an important platform and set a successful example for expanding international cooperation, and won increasing support from the international community, Putin said, adding that the presence of so many state leaders and representatives at this forum is a proof.

On the occasion of celebrating the 70th anniversary of diplomatic relations, Russia is willing to enhance high-level contacts with China, and deepen bilateral exchanges and cooperation in various fields, such as doing well in exemplary major projects in energy and connectivity sectors, he said.

The two leaders also exchanged views on issues including the situation on the Korean Peninsula and Venezuela, and agreed to communicate and coordinate closely in international and regional affairs and multilateral institutions.

Also on Friday, President Xi attended a ceremony at which Tsinghua University awarded Putin an honorary doctorate.

Tsinghua University is a world-renowned university and the alma mater of President Xi, Putin said. “In the presence of my good friend President Xi Jinping, Tsinghua University conferred an honorary doctorate on me and held a grand ceremony. I feel honored and deeply touched.”

“President Putin is a good friend and old friend of the Chinese people, and has made historic contributions to deepening political mutual trust between China and Russia and promoting bilateral cooperation in various fields,” Xi said, extending congratulations to Putin.

Xi said he hopes young Chinese and Russian students will contribute to China-Russia friendship for generations to come.

The Belt and Road Initiative

North Korea’s Kim Jong-un Arrives In Russia For Meeting With Putin

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE NEW YORK TIMES)

 

North Korea’s Kim Jong-un Arrives in Russia for Meeting With Putin

Video

0:37 Kim Jong-un Gives Interview to Russian Reporter

Up Next Chinese Cameras Come With Chinese Tactics

Kim Jong-un, North Korea’s leader, is in Russia and is expected to meet with President Vladimir V. Putin. “I hope this visit will be successful and fruitful,” Mr. Kim said. Credit Credit Igor Novikov/Press Office of the Primorye Territory Administration, via Associated Press

SEOUL — Wearing a black fedora and black overcoat, a smiling Kim Jong-un, North Korea’s leader, stepped off an armored train that had taken him on a daylong journey from Pyongyang to the Russian port city of Vladivostok on Wednesday.

Mr. Kim’s arrival came a day before he is scheduled to meet with President Vladimir V. Putin as part of the North Korean leader’s efforts to fend off American pressure to give up his nuclear weapons arsenal.

Accompanied by senior Russian officials, Mr. Kim listened to a military band before stopping for a rare, short interview with the Russian television network Rossiya 1.

“I hope this visit will be successful and fruitful,” Mr. Kim said. “I hope that during talks with esteemed President Putin I will have a detailed discussion of the settlement process on the Korean Peninsula and the development of our relations.”

Mr. Kim is the first North Korean leader to travel to Russia since his father, Kim Jong-il, visited there in 2011, signaling that Mr. Kim is trying to foster ties with his country’s old Soviet allies while his diplomacy with President Trump remains deadlocked.

Mr. Kim’s meeting with Mr. Trump in Hanoi, Vietnam, in late February ended abruptly when the North Korean leader rejected Mr. Trump’s proposal for a “big deal” in which the United States would lift sanctions in return for a quick dismantlement of the North’s entire nuclear weapons program. Mr. Kim offered only a partial dismantlement in exchange for lifting the most harmful economic sanctions.

North Korea has since grown increasingly frustrated with Washington, conducting a weapons test and accusing Mr. Trump’s national security adviser, John R. Bolton, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo of sabotaging the negotiations. Mr. Kim said he was willing to meet Mr. Trump again, but only if the United States made a new proposal that the North could accept by the end of the year.

A recent report by the United Nations sanctions committee has accused Russia of helping North Korea circumvent international sanctions through illegal ship-to-ship transfers of oil and coal. But there is doubt over Russia’s ability to ease the pain of sanctions for North Korea.

So The Putin Mafia Controls Mafia Don: I don’t care about Treason He Is A Republican

So The Putin Mafia Controls MAFIA Don: I don’t care about Treason He Is A Republican
 THIS ARTICLE IS MEANT ONLY FOR THE PURPOSE OF TRYING TO GET FOLKS TO THINK ABOUT THE SITUATION OF HAVING OUR NATIONS POLITICIANS CONSTANTLY BETRAYING THE CONSTITUTION AND THE PEOPLE OF THE WORLD. THE REASON FOR THIS IS SIMPLE, PEOPLE LIKE SENATOR MITCH MCCONNELL AND THE OTHER REPUBLICANS IN THE CONGRESS AND THE SENATE DO NOT CARE WHAT MAFIA DON DOES BECAUSE ALL THEY CARE ABOUT IS THE REPUBLICAN PARTY, NOT THE CONSTITUTION NOR THE PEOPLE OF THIS NATION.

 

DO NOT GET ME WRONG, I HAVE NO USE FOR THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY EITHER. IF HILLARY CLINTON HAD WON (AND SHE DID WIN THE POPULAR VOTE BY SEVERAL MILLION VOTERS.) (THERE SHOULD BE NO SUCH THING AS THE ‘ELECTORAL COLLEGE’.) IT IS MY TOTAL BELIEF THAT THE DEMOCRATIC LEADERSHIP WOULD BE BACKING HER JUST AS THE REPUBLICANS ARE BACKING MAFIA DON AND FAMILY. IT IS MY PERSONAL BELIEF THAT MR. TRUMP IS GUILTY AS CAN POSSIBLY BE OF TREASON, FRAUD, TAX FRAUD AND EVASION AND THEFT.

 

I wrote the above message in all caps and in red hoping that it would get a few more people’s attention. I have no intention or wish to ‘yell’ at folks. In the 2016 Presidential Election ‘we the people’ really only had two choices of who would become our next President, Hillary Clinton or Vladimir Putin.  Whichever one won, we the people lost. In my opinion as a fellow Kentuckian the second biggest traitor (outside of the Trump household) to the people and our Nation is the Republican head of the U.S. Senate, Mitch McConnell.

DOJ Policy To Not Indict A Sitting President: That Is Up To The Congress To Do

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF POLITICO NEWS)

 

MUELLER INVESTIGATION

Clinton says Trump escaped indictment only because of DOJ policy

Updated 

Hillary Clinton said Tuesday that President Donald Trump escaped obstruction of justice charges only because of a Justice Department rule barring the indictment of a sitting president.

“I think there’s enough there that any other person who had engaged in those acts would certainly have been indicted,” Clinton said at a TIME magazine event in New York. “But because of the rule in the Justice Department that you can’t indict a sitting president, the whole matter of obstruction was very directly sent to the Congress.”

Clinton’s 2016 electoral defeat was once again thrust in the spotlight on Thursday after the release of special counsel Robert Mueller’s redacted report, which detailed the 22-month probe into Russian interference in the presidential election.

The report said the special counsel found evidence of Russian meddling in the election but said there was insufficient evidence of a conspiracy between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin.

Mueller also did not take a stance on whether the president obstructed justice, citing a Watergate-era policy in the Justice Department not to indict a sitting president. Such action would leave the president with no legal recourse to clear his name or protections normally afforded to criminal defendants, according to the report.

“Fairness concerns counseled against potentially reaching that judgment when no charges can be brought,” the report says.

In his report, however, Mueller detailed 10 episodes where Trump tried to interfere with the Russia investigation. He also wrote that Congress has authority to conduct its own investigation of the president’s behavior.

Clinton on Tuesday called for the release of an unredacted version of Mueller’s report to allow lawmakers the information necessary to move forward with a thorough investigation.

In the days since the publication of the report, the question of whether to initiate impeachment proceedings has hung over Democrats. Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Monday rejected calls to immediately take the politically risky move of launching efforts to oust Trump.

Pelosi’s strategy earned the approval of Clinton, who said impeachment — a drastic move that Democratic leaders worry could cost their party the House in 2020 — should not be fueled by “partisan political purposes.”

“I think her argument was we want to show the American people we take our constitutional responsibilities seriously,” Clinton said.

Like Pelosi, she advocated for a “careful” approach, describing impeachment as something that should be undertaken “in a really serious, diligent way, based on evidence.”

That means giving Congress access to key information. Clinton said she thinks it’s “fully appropriate” for Congress to call upon former White House counsel Don McGahn, who emerged as a central figure in investigations after telling special counsel investigators Trump ordered him to fire Mueller. The House Judiciary Committee issued a subpoena to McGahn on Monday demanding that he testify in public on May 21.

Clinton compared buzz about impeaching Trump to the two most recent congressional pushes to eject sitting U.S. presidents. Clinton had an inside look at both proceedings as the wife of Bill Clinton and as a young staff attorney on Richard Nixon’s impeachment proceedings in the wake of the Watergate scandal.

The failed efforts to oust her husband, initiated in 1998, were nothing but a partisan ploy, Clinton said — a stark contrast with the lengthy and in-depth investigation she described that led to Nixon’s resignation.

The comments from the TIME event marked Clinton’s first public remarks on the Mueller report since its release. The former candidate and secretary of state said she thinks Russian interference “certainly had an impact” on the 2016 election results, but said her priority now is to make sure similar foreign interference does not affect future elections.

A Comedian Just Became UKraine’s Next President

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF VOX NEWS)

 

A comedian just became Ukraine’s next president

Volodymyr Zelensky rode a populist, anti-corruption message straight to the presidency.

Volodymyr Zelensky was just voted in as Ukraine’s next president. Here he talks to journalists after taking a drug and alcohol test at the Eurolab diagnostic center on April 5, 2019.
 Pyotr Sivkov\TASS via Getty Images

Ukrainians on Sunday overwhelmingly voted to make a comedian their next president — ushering in a new era of politics in the struggling country.

Volodymyr Zelensky, a famous comedian who portrayed Ukraine’s head of state for years on a popular comedy show, defeated the incumbent president, Petro Poroshenko, who had been in power since 2014.

According to exit polls, Zelensky won a staggering 73 percent of the vote. Poroshenko conceded the race not long after polls closed.

It’s all quite the rise for an ordinary guy who, well, played an ordinary guy-turned-president on television.

Zelensky — or “Ze,” as he’s more popularly known — has no prior political experience and hasn’t offered a detailed blueprint for how he would govern. But he struck a populist, anti-corruption message during the campaign that clearly resonated with millions of Ukrainians suffering from poverty and government graft. That, plus his previous celebrity, made him a formidable force during the Eastern European country’s election.

The big question now is if he can follow through on his promises to stamp out undue oligarch influence in Kyiv and turn Ukraine’s economic fortunes around. After all, the comedian has no prior political experience and didn’t offer a detailed governing blueprint during the campaign.

Clearly, though, Ukrainians believe Zelensky embodies the change they hope he can bring to a struggling nation.

“There’s been a desire for a new face for a long time,” Melinda Haring, a Ukraine expert at the Atlantic Council in Washington, DC, told me before the election. “It was clear the people wanted someone without the same baggage and connections to political dinosaurs.”

Ukraine’s struggles led to Zelensky’s rise

Experts say Zelensky’s remarkable story stems from Ukrainians’ dissatisfaction with decades of failed political leadership.

“After almost 30 years of electing to the presidency either relatively pro-Russian or officially pro-Western candidates from the economic and political elite, Ukraine remains one of the poorest nations in Europe,” Andreas Umland, an expert at the Institute for Euro-Atlantic Cooperation in Kyiv, wrote for the European Council on Foreign Relations think tank on April 16.

World Bank chart below showing Ukraine’s massive dip in gross domestic product per capita starting around 2013 illustrates this point. And while the country has been experiencing a bit of growth lately, Ukraine is still among Europe’s poorest — if not the poorest — countries.

Chart of Ukraine’s GDP per capita, 2000 to 2017.
Chart of Ukraine’s GDP per capita, 2000 to 2017.
 World Bank

The country’s troubles have led millions of Ukrainians to flee in search of a better life.

“Ukrainians just want a normal standard of living,” Haring told me, but “Ukraine has gotten poorer as Poroshenko has gotten richer.”

Since Poroshenko, who once led the very successful company Roshen, took power in 2014 corruption only worsened as the government’s ties to oligarchs have strengthened. That made it harder for Ukraine to attract foreign investment and help the country’s economy rebound.

In February, Ukraine’s finance minister said that if the country grows at the same economic rate for 50 years — a big if — Ukraine will have the same economic strength as Poland. That, to put it mildly, isn’t an optimistic outlook it may take a half-century to become a European economic success story.

So while Poroshenko got high marks from many for pushing back against Russia’s invasion of parts of Ukraine’s east and south, a record he touted throughout the election, experts said that counted for very little.

“Poroshenko either misread the voters or thought his campaign themes — army, language, and faith — would carry the day,” Steven Pifer, the US ambassador to Ukraine from 1998 to 2000, told me on Thursday. “It looks like he greatly misjudged the electorate.”

Voters clearly wanted to hear new ideas for a new Ukraine, and that meant stemming the country’s rampant corruption and kick-starting the nation’s sputtering economy.

Poroshenko was such a symbol for Ukraine’s old ways that it was almost funny. Enter a comedian.

Zelensky represents what Ukraine wants to be

Zelensky, 41, made his name on Servant of the People, a comedy program that you can watch on Netflix in the US. It follows the life of Vasyl Petrovych Holoborodko, an everyman schoolteacher who unexpectedly becomes president and takes on the nation’s oligarchs.

The actor wants to do the same thing — but now in real life.

It’s probably not surprising that such an unconventional candidate ran an unconventional campaign. He held few big rallies and rarely spoke to the press. Instead, he mainly toured the country with comedy troupes to perform in skits and make audiences laugh, experts told me. But he leveraged social media to directly connect with voters and make his pitch.

Not much is known about his foreign policy except that he is mainly pro-Western, wants Ukraine to enter the European Union, and would seek NATO membership for his country — all positions that didn’t separate him much from Poroshenko.

There are two big worries Ukrainians still have about Zelensky, however. The first, of course, is his inexperience. But Ukrainians have shrugged that off in the past, though, like when voters in Kyiv voted in 2014 to make former heavyweight boxing champion Vitali Klitschko their mayor.

The second, and more important, is just how close he is to a Ukrainian oligarch: Igor Kolomoisky.

Zelensky’s show appeared on Kolomoisky’s TV channel, and the billionaire has long been a Poroshenko rival. Some worry that the comedian may simply be a tool of another Ukrainian fat cat trying to wield power, a charge Zelensky denies.

But those concerns didn’t dissuade Ukrainians from choosing Zelensky on Sunday. And so now a Ukrainian comedian who entered an election to take on the entrenched corruption in his country will be the next president. It sounds like a joke, but it’s reality.