Russia: 3 Stunning Buildings to See in Moscow

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRAVEL TRIVIA)

 

3 Stunning Buildings to See in Moscow

Moscow is an incredible place to visit. Russia’s capital city is full of buildings that are centuries old and that have designs that are completely unique from the rest of the world. Its historic center in particular is home to buildings that are not only spectacular to look at, but also important to the history of Russia and the rest of the world. Here is a look at three stunning buildings in Moscow that you have to check out if you visit.

Cathedral of Christ the Saviour

Credit: yulenochekk/iStock

The first building on our itinerary is the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour. Not only is this huge, white building with high-rising, gold-painted domes beautiful, but it is also the tallest Christian church on the planet. It reaches heights of around 338 feet, and its main sanctuary area can fit more than 10,000 visitors. Completed in 1883, the original version of this cathedral took over 40 years to build, only to be tragically destroyed on the orders of Joseph Stalin in 1931 in his attempt to enforce atheism on the entire country. His vision was to replace the cathedral with a skyscraper dedicated to Vladimir Lenin, but construction was stalled during World War II, when the property was turned into the world’s biggest swimming pool… in which many Russian citizens drowned. Finally, in the 1990s, plans to rebuild the cathedral to its original glory were put into motion, and the breathtaking building was restored.

State Historical Museum Moscow

Credit: Javen/Shutterstock

Moscow’s State Historical Museum holds more than 4.5 million pieces of art and other artifacts that date back hundreds of years. It holds all aspects of Russia’s history, including manuscripts from famous leaders, records describing Russia’s adoption of Christianity and an in-depth look at how it defended itself against invaders. What makes this building truly stunning, though, is its architecture. At first glance, this towering, red, castle-like building might look intimidating, but it is actually a work of art in and of itself. Built in 1872, the museum building has elements of the luxurious, baroque style of Imperial Russia, but these are united with elements of Neo-Russian architecture, making it both appealingly sophisticated and impressively modern at the same time.

St. Basil’s Cathedral

Credit: dimbar76/Shutterstock

Taking the number one spot on our list is St. Basil’s Cathedral, located right next to the famous Red Square. This stunningly ornate structure has become symbolic of Moscow as a whole, and perhaps even the entire country of Russia. Its colorful, spiraling domes reach high into the sky, making it look like something made of gingerbread and candy toppings and draws visitors from all over the world. St. Basil’s was built in the 16th century as per the orders of Tsar Ivan the Terrible, who wanted to memorialize the capture of the city of Kazan. Inside this one cathedral are 10 separate churches, as well as another smaller chapel on the side. The interior is just as awe-inducing as its exterior, leading to it being named one of the “Seven Wonders of Russia” in 2008.

US, Russia gave Israel green light to strike Iran in Syria, Iraq

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

Report: US, Russia gave Israel green light to strike Iran in Syria, Iraq

Under alleged agreement, Jerusalem allowed to conduct attacks against Iranian threats in Middle East, but can’t publicly acknowledge them

Explosions at an arms depot of a Shiite militia group in Iraq, August 20, 2019 (video screenshot)

Explosions at an arms depot of a Shiite militia group in Iraq, August 20, 2019 (video screenshot)

Israel has conducted several strikes on Iranian-controlled bases in Syria and Iraq in recent weeks with permission from the United States and Russia, a Western diplomatic source told a Saudi-owned newspaper Wednesday.

Moscow and Washington agreed that the Jewish state could conduct these attacks on Iranian targets in order to “ensure Israel’s security,” the source told the London-based Arabic-language Asharq Al-Awsat.

In recent weeks, a number of explosions have been reported in Iraqi military installations connected to pro-Iranian Shiite militias, including on Tuesday night in an arms depot north of Baghdad.

As part of the reported agreement, Israel would not publicly acknowledge carrying out the strikes. However, this has not prevented Israeli officials from hinting at their involvement in these attacks.

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Asked about Tuesday night’s blast at the pro-Iranian militia base, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Israeli reporters, “Iran has no immunity, anywhere… We will act — and currently are acting — against them, wherever it is necessary.”

The explosions have occurred in bases and warehouses belonging to militia groups under the umbrella of the mainly Iran-backed Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF). The state-sanctioned PMF militias have fought alongside Iraq’s regular armed forces against the Islamic State group.

Iraqi MP Karim Alaiwi told pro-Hezbollah Lebanese network al-Mayadeen on Wednesday that evidence pointed to Israel being behind recent attacks on Shiite militias, adding that the Jewish state was trying to weaken the PMF.

Alaiwi said American forces controlled Iraqi airspace and reasoned that no one could be conducting airstrikes without US knowledge.

The Iraqi Civil Defense said in a statement that Tuesday’s blast occurred near Balad air base, one of the country’s largest. A Shiite militia group is stationed nearby.

Iraqi security forces’ vehicles are seen at the delivery ceremony of four new US- made F-16 fighter jets at Balad air base, 75 kilometers (45 miles) north of Baghdad, Iraq, July 20, 2015. (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed)

The officials who confirmed the explosion spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity in line with regulations. They said the blast occurred in a depot belonging to the PMF and that an investigation was underway.

The mysterious blasts have given rise to a host of theories, including that Israel may have conducted airstrikes.

No one has claimed responsibility for Tuesday’s blast or other recent explosions.

In July, an explosion took place at a PMF base in Amirli, in Iraq’s northern Salaheddin province, killing two Iranians and causing a huge fire.

Last week, a massive explosion was also reported at the al-Saqr military base.

Israel has struck Iranian bases in neighboring Syria on numerous occasions, and there has been speculation that it might be expanding its campaign to target Iranian bases in  Iraq. However, neither the Iraqi government nor Israel has addressed the reports.

Satellite photo of a weapons depot in southern Baghdad controlled by a pro-Iranian militia that was hit in an alleged Israeli operation on August 12, 2019. (ImageSat International)

Israeli officials have identified Iraq as a likely growing base of operations for Iran-backed efforts against the Jewish state. But Israeli officials have so far neither confirmed nor denied responsibility for the strikes.

Raphael Ahren, AP and Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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72% Trade Volume Hike between Saudi, Russia in Q1 2019

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

 

72% Trade Volume Hike between Saudi, Russia in Q1 2019

Wednesday, 21 August, 2019 – 08:30
Riyadh- Fatehelrahman Yousif
Moscow affirmed holding strategic relations with Riyadh in all fields, revealing that the trade volume between Russia and Saudi Arabia during the Q1 2019 increased by 72%.

The office of Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak told Asharq Al-Awsat that there was trade growth between the two countries from January to April 2019.

The volume of trade rose by 72%, reaching $ 505.2 million, compared to the same period last year.

“We have many points of intersection and mutual interests, as there is a certain mutual desire to boost cooperation in such fields as industry, peaceful use of atomic energy, innovation, the space sector, and agriculture,” Novak’s office stated.

Energy Ministers noted the importance of increasing cooperation especially in promising sectors and pointed to the inking of agreements in previous meetings. Both sides also voiced their support for the currently shared technical cooperation in the fuel and energy sectors.

Novak’s office also confirmed Moscow and Riyadh’s commitment to efforts spent by OPEC and non-OPEC oil-producing countries to stabilize global oil market and reduce volatility.

It also noted the importance of joint efforts to stabilize the market, stressing the determination of producers to ensure stability, predictability, and gradual development of the market.

6 Longest Highways on the Planet

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRIP TRIVIA)

 

6 Longest Highways on the Planet

If you’re used to traveling by car, you’re probably quite familiar with the highways in your local area. These lengthy stretches of empty roadway can seem nearly endless on long trips and are notorious for prompting complaints from the backseat. And while no roadway lasts forever, these six highways come the closest. Buckle up and prepare for an epic road trip.

6. National Highway 010 – China

Credit: Anna Frodesiak / Wikimedia

First on our list is National Highway 010, the longest highway in China. Also known as the Tongsan Expressway, this highway is over 3,500 miles long and runs through nine of China’s major provinces. A curious feature of this highway is that it’s interrupted by the Qiongzhou Strait, where cars must be ferried across the water to reach the province of Hainan. However, after decades of research, China is finally exploring new ways to subvert this problem and connect Hainan with a dedicated road-rail tunnel.

5. Golden Quadrilateral Highway Network – India

Credit: Soham Banerjee / Wikimedia

Completed in 2012, India’s Golden Quadrilateral Highway Network is the newest roadway on this list yet already stands as the fifth-longest highway in the world. Spanning over 3,600 miles, the Golden Quadrilateral Network gets its name from the shape the roads make from connecting four of India’s major metropolitan areas: Delhi in the north, Chennai in the south, Kolkata in the east, and Mumbai in the west. It was an ambitious project that ended up creating a network of highways throughout all 13 of India’s states, and it stands to this day as the country’s primary transit route for commerce, industry, and agriculture.

4. Trans-Canada Highway – Canada

Credit: FrankvandenBergh / iStock

Ranking as the fourth-longest highway in the world and the second-longest national roadway is the Trans-Canada Highway. This long, interconnected system of roadways extends 4,860 miles, running through all 10 of Canada’s provinces and joining most of the country’s major cities. The Trans-Canada Highway took 21 years to build and required over $1 billion to finish, and the final results are pretty impressive: At the time of its completion, it was the world’s longest uninterrupted highway.

Of course, it wouldn’t hold this title for long, but it does still have a few cool features that others on this list don’t. For example, electric vehicle charging stations were installed along many segments of the highway in 2012, helping owners of electric cars make their trips across the country without relying on gasoline.

3. Trans-Siberian Highway – Russia

Credit: bksrus / iStock

With a total length of over 6,800 miles, the Trans-Siberian Highway is the longest highway in Russia and the Asian continent as a whole. Comprised of seven federal highways that were built separately and combined, the Trans-Siberian Highway runs an impressive distance from St. Petersburg in Western Russia all the way to the eastern city of Vladivostok.

Unlike some other highways on this list, the Trans-Siberian Highway is a dangerous route to travel. Many of the sections are poorly-maintained and extend far into the cold Russian tundra, with few gas stations or rest areas in sight. It’s recommended that drivers make the trip only between June and September when the weather is warm and the conditions are easier—if they must make the trip at all.

2. Highway 1 – Australia

Credit: Michael R Evans / Shutterstock.com

Runner-up on our list is Highway 1 in Australia. While it’s not the longest highway in the world compared to our first place winner, Highway 1 does bear the distinction of being the longest national highway owned by any single country, so it has that going for it.

Highway 1 is just over 9,000 miles long; a series of interconnected roads that connects to all of Australia’s major state capitals by way of a giant loop that circles the entire Australian continent. Known locally as the “Big Lap,” this long highway certainly isn’t the most direct way to travel around Australia — but it’s a popular route for motorists interested in taking a scenic tour of the country.

1. Pan-American Highway – North/South America

Credit: Vadim Petrakov / Shutterstock.com

The longest highway in the world is undoubtedly the Pan-American Highway. This sprawling maze of interconnected roadways spans over 29,000 miles, beginning up north in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, and running all the way to Ushuaia, Argentina.

Yep, that’s right—this particular highway runs nearly the entire length of North and South America combined. Motorists who travel the whole length of the highway will pass through 14 countries, two continents, and a diverse array of climates that include forests, prairies, jungles, deserts, and arctic tundra, to name a few. It’s a trip that few can claim to have made, but in terms of sheer length, this highway is second to none.

The World’s Longest Roadways

Credit: 35007 / iStock

Many of these highways are destinations for world travellers who love the road and want a challenge — but be careful on these long trips! Just because these regions are designated as “highways” doesn’t mean that they’re well-kept or safe in all areas. Make sure you do your research and prepare well in advance before tackling any of these.

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US ambassador in Moscow resigns: media report

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SHANGHAI CHINA NEWS AGENCY ‘SHINE’)

 

US ambassador in Moscow resigns: media report

AFP
US ambassador in Moscow resigns: media report

AFP

In this file photo taken on September 19, 2017, Jon Huntsman testifies before the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee on his nomination to be ambassador to Russia on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC.

US Ambassador to Russia Jon Huntsman is resigning after more than two years in one of the hottest of diplomatic hot seats, a US newspaper reported Tuesday.

The Salt Lake Tribune published Huntsman’s resignation letter to President Donald Trump in which he said he would leave effective October 3 to attend to family and personal demands back home.

The White House and State Department did not immediately confirm the report.

In the letter, Huntsman noted the upheaval he has witnessed in US-Russian relations during a period marked by spying accusations, scandal over Russia’s alleged interference in US elections, the demise of a key Cold War nuclear missile treaty, and continuing conflict in Ukraine.

“We must continue to hold Russia accountable when its behavior threatens us and our allies. While much of what divides us is irreconcilable, there are common interests we cannot ignore,” Huntsman’s letter said.

“No reset or restart is going to help, just a clear understanding of our interests and values.”

CNN reported that Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin had discussed the upcoming switch in ambassador when they talked by phone last week in a conversation the White House said focused mostly on huge wildfires in Siberia.

One of Huntsman’s most delicate tasks involves the case of Paul Whelan, a former US marine detained in Russia on accusations of espionage. Trump, frequently accused of cosying up to Putin, has been notably silent about Whelan’s fate.

The Salt Lake Tribune said Huntsman is considering running for governor in his native Utah, a position he held previously.

Moscow Police Detain Hundreds At Latest Election-Related Protest

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF NPR NEWS)

 

Moscow Police Detain Hundreds At Latest Election-Related Protest

Police officers detain opposition candidate and lawyer Lyubov Sobol in Moscow on Saturday. Sobol was one of more than 600 arrested in Saturday’s protests, according to an independent monitoring agency.

Dmitry Serebryakov/AP

Police detained 600 protesters in Moscow on Saturday, according to OVD-info, an independent group that monitors protests and policing in Russia.

Demonstrators in Moscow have been demanding that opposition candidates be allowed to register in city elections. Police arrested more than 1,000 people at an election-focused protest last week.

Reuters reporters in Moscow on Saturday said they witnessed dozens of arrests; OVD-info reports that police beat multiple demonstrators with clubs.

The Moscow City Duma is controlled by the pro-Kremlin United Russia party. All of its 45 seats, which carry five-year terms, are up for re-election on Sept. 8. The disagreement between protesters and election authorities hinges on the signature-gathering process for candidates. Election authorities say certain opposition candidates did not gather enough valid signatures on their nominating petitions to be eligible for the race. Opposition candidates and their supporters say signatures have been invalidated for political reasons, to hinder the democratic process and prevent anti-Kremlin candidates from getting on the ballot.

Lyubov Sobol, one of the opposition candidates who election officials say failed to qualify for the ballot, was one of the protesters arrested on Saturday. Sobol has been on hunger strike for 21 days, according to the BBC.

As NPR’s Lucian Kim has reported, the Moscow city elections have national significance; opponents of Russian President Vladimir Putin are trying to use local elections to chip away at his political support in advance of Russia’s 2024 presidential election.

“Moscow is the key,” Kim told Morning Edition last month. “It’s Russia’s largest city and is probably also the place where the opposition has a potentially large support base.”

According to Kim, a Putin spokesperson has said that though the Kremlin is following the developments, local elections remain under the jurisdiction of local authorities.

The Associated Press reported Saturday that Russia’s Investigative Committee plans to open a criminal case against the anti-corruption foundation of prominent opposition figure Alexei Navalny. Navalny is currently serving a 30-day jail sentence for his role in last week’s protest, and he recently raised the possibility that he had been poisoned while in custody.

Moscow’s police have been criticized for using violent methods to control protests. According to the BBC, Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said protesters last week“simply compelled the police to use force, which was perfectly appropriate for the situation.”

Fontanka.ru, a local news site, reported that 2,000 people rallied in St. Petersburg on Saturday to support protesters in Moscow. Local police said 1,000 were in attendance.

Moscow Mitch McConnell The Trumpian And Putin Bitch

Moscow Mitch McConnell The Trumpian And Putin Bitch

 

This letter to you today is not the type of letter that I ever thought I would need to write but it has become very clear that these thoughts and opinions need to be vocalized. First, Mitch McConnell is one of my home states two Senators, the other being Rand Paul so I have been reading up on Moscow Mitch for a long time now and the more I learn about this douche bag the sicker I get of him. I am going to pop some realities at you about this man then simply think what you will. I know that many folks won’t care if everything I say was to be proven to be the total truth beyond a doubt and some of you will probably get even more pissed off at him than you are now.

 

Mr. McConnell has already stated that he is running for re-election in the November 3rd, 2020 election cycle. He was born on February 20th of 1942 so if he wins re-election as our state Senator he would be just barely shy of his 79th birthday when the new cycle begins letting him be in Office until just shy of his 85th birthday. This would also be his 8th term in the Senate and the reality is that he is the second most powerful person in our Nation so for a person as power hungry and money hungry as he is I believe that he will try to stay in Office until the day he dies.

 

Now, lets talk about our Nations elections that is and has been fixed by Russian interference since at least 2016. Our security agencies have proven that the Russian government at the direction of Mr. Trumps good friend President Putin have been trying to ‘fix’ all of our elections even at the State level. Even though Mr. Trump supposedly won the most electoral votes in 2016 he did lose to crooked Hilary by more than 3 million actual votes. But think about what I am getting ready to discuss with you about 2016, even during the primaries. The CIA, FBI and NSA all know that Russia was infiltrating the elections in all 50 States. Do you remember how most folks thought that Trump was nothing but a joke running for the Office of President, then he started winning primaries? What if he actually didn’t win most or any of those primaries, Putin did? Think about it, why would Putin wait until the main election to start fixing things for his puppet Trump? Really, if Russia hadn’t fixed the State and Federal elections Mr. John Kasich would probably be our President now. But, then again if the DNC hadn’t fixed the Democratic primaries for crooked Hilary Senator Bernie Sanders would probably be our President, but certainly not this idiotic Clown we have now.

 

Now, back to Moscow Mitch and why he won’t allow any bill to be brought to the Senate floor that would help stop the Russian interference in our next set of elections. First, he using his position as the Head of the Senate to totally nullified the existence of the Federal Congress. Anything and everything that the Congress has passed and sent onto the Senate he has not allowed it to hit the Senate floor for a vote. This is why he is the second most powerful person in our Nation. He is controlling not only the Senate but the House also. There is good reason why he doesn’t want to stop the Russians form messing up our elections, as the votes get fixed for Trump to win, the Republican Senators win riding Trump’s coat tails. As long as this is allowed to continue the Republicans will control the Senate thus keeping McConnell in this high perch of power. In other words it behooves him personally ego wise and financially to not stop the election interference. Just like Mr. Trump has sold out America and all of our people to Mr. Putin, so has Moscow Mitch.

 

 

Why won’t the Senate protect American elections?

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BROOKINGS BRIEF)
(Moscow Mitch The Trumpian Bitch?) oped: oldpoet56)

Why won’t the Senate protect American elections?

Darrell M. West and Raj Karan Gambhir

Editor’s Note:This post is part of “Cybersecurity and Election Interference,” a Brookings series that explores digital threats to American democracy, cybersecurity risks in elections, and ways to mitigate possible problems.

Cybersecurity & Election InterferenceThe United States is at risk of serious foreign intervention and disinformation in the 2020 elections. When asked during his testimony to the House Judiciary Committee whether Russia could interfere in the 2020 elections, Robert Mueller responded that they are “doing it as we sit here.” The very next day, the Senate Intelligence Committee reported that “the Russians had attempted to intrude in all 50 states” during the 2016 election. A blog post by Brookings Institution Fellow Margaret Taylor furthermore shows that our European allies have experienced similar Russian activities over the last few years in their national elections, the Brexit campaign, and European Union parliamentary races. Even as the scope of Russian intent and ability becomes increasingly clear, Senate Republicans have done nothing to address this problem.

It is not as if there aren’t good ideas to protect American elections. Four major pieces of election security legislation have been introduced over the last two years: the Secure Elections Act (introduced by Senators James Lankford (R-OK) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN)); Defending American Security from Kremlin Aggression Act (introduced by Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Cory Gardner (R-CO), Ben Cardin (D-MD), and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH)); Defending Elections from Threats by Establishing Redlines Act (Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD)); and Securing America’s Federal Elections Act (introduced by Representative Zoe Lofgren (D-CA19)).

As noted below, the bills demonstrate relative bipartisan agreement over several key remedies. A number of members have proposed providing additional funding for the Election Assistance Commission, sharing election security expertise with the states, providing paper ballot backups of electronic voting systems, sanctioning financial institutions that support foreign interference, authorizing retaliatory actions against any nation interfering in American elections, and requiring intelligence agencies to determine whether any foreign agents interfered in American elections. A version of these ideas already has been approved by the U.S. House of Representatives on a 225 to 184 vote, but has been repeatedly blocked from a Senate vote by Senate Majority Leader McConnell (R-KY). Calling the bill “highly partisan,” McConnell blocked a unanimous consent vote on the bill just hours after Mueller’s testimony.

This Senate inaction brings to mind Albert Einstein’s infamous definition of insanity as repeating the same behavior but expecting a different outcome. With no beefing up of election defenses and high odds of continuing foreign interference, 2020 will likely see the same problems of 2016: campaigns that sow discontent and play on societal divisions, active efforts to undermine electoral legitimacy, and widespread public doubts following the campaign about the integrity of the election process itself. Americans will wake up on Wednesday, November 4, 2020 wondering how the U.S. electoral process again fell prey to foreign interference and why political leaders failed to defend our vital democratic processes.

Providing additional funding for the Election Assistance Commission

In looking across the proposed bills, there are a number of promising ideas designed to secure U.S. elections. One of them advanced in the Secure Elections Act is the creation of an Election Assistance Commission grant program that provides funding for states and localities to secure electoral processes and upgrade equipment. The idea is that since elections largely are administered at the state and local level, additional funding for those entities would enable them to update their equipment, install the latest cyber-security protections, and make sure that vital infrastructure is protected during the election.

Sharing election security expertise

Several of the proposed bills give the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) a major role in advising the states, offering them technical expertise, and being proactive in dealing with possible cyber-threats. Since this department works to counter terrorism and maintain vital infrastructure, the department has expertise to evaluate hardware and software for cyber-security risks. Armed with that information, it could provide help to state and local agencies charged with administering the upcoming elections.

Providing paper ballot backups of electronic voting systems with an audit trail

A number of local jurisdictions have moved to electronic voting machines in recent years, although in most cases, this equipment is not connected to the internet in order to minimize opportunities for hacking. However, there still could be software bugs that distort the vote or systematically under-count certain areas. Given that possibility, it is important to have paper ballot backups of electronic voting systems and the possibility of conducting an audit if any irregularities are spotted. That way, voters can feel confident their votes will be counted and there are mechanisms to evaluate the vote in case anything is contested.

Sanctioning financial institutions that support foreign interference

The Defending American Security from Kremlin Aggression Act establishes financial sanctions that could be applied against countries, financial institutions, or individuals that “facilitate illicit and corrupt activities, directly or indirectly, on behalf of Putin.” The idea is that Russians could be discouraged from malicious behavior if they think there will be serious consequences.

Authors

In addition, the bill “would give prosecutors additional authorities to pursue federal charges for the hacking of voting systems and create a National Fusion Center to respond to hybrid threats of disinformation and other emerging threats from Russia”. There are provisions that specifically would impose sanctions for “Russian interference in democratic processes.”

Authorize retaliatory actions against any nation interfering in American elections

The Defending Elections from Threats by Establishing Redlines (DETER) Act would allow the President to impose sanctions against any country identified as a threat. Among the actions that could invite retaliation “include a foreign government or agent purchasing political advertisements to influence an election” or “using social media to spread false information, hacking and releasing or modifying election- or campaign-related information or hindering access to elections infrastructure, such as websites for polling places.”

Requiring intelligence agency leaders to determine whether any foreign agents interfered in American elections

The DETER Act would mandate that the director of national intelligence determine within 30 days of the national election whether “the government of a foreign country, or any person acting as an agent of or on behalf of that government, knowingly engaged in interference in the election.” Under threat of sanction, foreign agents specifically would not be allowed to “spread significant amounts of false information to Americans. They also cannot hack, leak or modify election and campaign infrastructure, including voter registration databases and campaign emails.”

Why the Senate inaction in the face of a clear foreign danger?

A number of arguments have been made to justify the votes of those who opposed the House bill or are supporting Senate inaction. One is a state’s rights argument suggesting that the federal government should not have a major role in electoral security given the country’s history of state and local control of balloting. While it certainly is important to maintain state and local control of elections, providing federal assistance to upgrade voting machines does not violate existing legal or constitution provisions. There is a long history of the federal government paying for voting equipment and offering technical assistance. Many states lack funding for voting machines and the federal government often has funded upgrades and improvements. There is ample precedent for national authorities to protect vital infrastructure in the face of foreign threats.

Another rationale concerns the financial cost of electoral security. The idea is at a time when America is running a trillion-dollar budget deficit, it should avoid unnecessary expenditures. Rather, lawmakers should focus on vital priorities and critical infrastructure. Yet electoral security should fall within each of those principles. Having secure elections is essential to democracy. There is no excuse for not spending several hundred million dollars (a very small portion of the overall federal budget) on meaningful steps to protect American elections. Democracy is too important to be risked for a relatively small amount of money.

Short of these criticisms, it is hard to see any justified reason not to enact some type of electoral security measures. As is clear to all who study American elections and have heeded the warnings of our European allies, the intelligence community, and the Special Counsel—the Russian threat is real. Given these dire circumstances, it is difficult to fathom why Senate leadership is refusing to allow a vote on such important legislation, and therefore risking the integrity of the democratic process. Americans should demand Senate action to protect U.S. elections from foreign interference.

China, Trump And Tariffs: My Idea On How To Best Do The Tariffs

China, Trump And Tariffs: My Idea On How To Best Do The Tariffs

 

First, the government of China is no one’s friend just as Putin’s government in Russia nor is the fat little Rocket Man in North Korea. I know that statement will bring a rebuke from Mr. Trump who thinks these guys love him, but then again, he is possibly the world’s biggest idiot. I did not say that the people of these countries are ass-hats like their Leaders and Ours are. I have nothing against the people of these Countries, just their Leaders, and our Leaders.

 

Now, about those tariff’s, this is what I wish our government’s policies were toward China. Personally I believe that the whole world should stop buying anything that has to do with China as long as they have a Communists government in place who seems to think that everything on earth should be theirs to control, including all the land, oceans and air space. When anyone buys anything that is made in China you are feeding their military buildup that they will use to subjugate their own people and the people of the Nations around them.

 

But for a more doable emmediate tariff policy I believe the following approach should be adopted. Instead of having a trade war with China via tariff’s I believe that our government should only put tariffs on products that are coming into the U.S. from companies who have outsourced jobs that used to be here in our Country.  Including to China, Indonesia, Vietnam, Mexico or any other Nation. For the purpose of an example let us use General Motors. If General Motors wants into the Chinese market for the purpose of making vehicles for the Chinese market I have no problem with that at all. But, if they take jobs away from our people and then want to sell in our market I believe that our government needs to put a 100% tariffs on all of those imports. Make it very un-profitable for the company to take away American jobs if they want to sell to our market. This program would keep American companies from closing factories here and it would force the companies who have closed shops here to reinvest in our Nation, not an enemy Nation like China.

 

As I said earlier, the people of China are not our enemy, but their government damn sure is. And, in my opinion, companies who have outsourced American jobs for the sole purpose of higher profits should be treated as enemies of the American people. If you have noticed, when a company closes shop here in the States and moves to a “cheaper” place to make their products they never ever lower the prices they sell their products for. If a company made a product here in the States and sold it for $20 then they close shop here and move to China they still sell the product for $20, the name of the game is all and only about profits, to hell with the people, they only want your money. We need to quit giving it to them. Force them to move back here, if they refuse then tariff the hell out of them and also sell all of their stock, don’t allow it to be sold on the U.S Stock Exchange, bankrupt their asses. If our Leaders really want to put America, then prove it!

As Siberia burns, Russia chokes

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF GLOBAL VOICES)

 

As Siberia burns, Russia chokes

Fighting a wildfire in Siberia. From Euronews’s YouTube video “Лесные пожары не тушат из-за экономии средств

An immense forest fire has hit Siberia, where Buryatia, Yakutia, and the Irkutsk and Krasnoyarsk regions are ablaze. According to Greenpeace Russia, over four million hectares are burning, an area larger than the size of Belgium. The vast boreal forests sometimes called the “lungs of the northern hemisphere” are at risk.

For nearly two weeks, photos have spread across the Runet of flaming forests, as well as satellite imagery showing the extent of the blaze, accompanied by the hashtags #сибирьгорит (“Siberia is burning”), #гориттайга (“the Taiga is burning”), #потушитесибирь, (“Extinguish Siberia”) and #мирспасисибирь (“World, Save Siberia!”)

Commentators are angry that local authorities did not start to fight the fire sooner. While forest fires are no rarity in Siberia, climate scientists stated that this year’s fires spread particularly aggressively due to a combination of strong winds and the unusually hot summer. The sluggishness in tackling them could also be explained by the fact that the fires first broke out in remote areas.

According to Alexander Uss, governor of the Krasnoyarsk Region, it is impractical to fight fires in such remote regions. Uss added, during a lecture at a youth forum at a Siberian university on 29 July, that the forests were “self-replenishing,” that forest fires were “a common natural phenomenon,” and that fighting them is “meaningless and can even be harmful to try.”

But there is no fire without smoke. In recent days, that smoke has drifted well beyond Siberian cities such as Novosibirsk and Tomsk, where medical personnel have reported a rise in ambulance calls and patients with high blood pressure due to air pollution. Residents as far west as Tatarstan and as far south as Kazakhstan have also reported breathing difficulties; they are sharing images of thick smog in their regions over Instagram. Others are sharing selfies in which they wear breathing masks bearing the words “Siberia Burns.”

One user shared the experience of her relatives living in a town in the Irkutsk region:

говорила сейчас с сестрой, она живет и работает в Усть-Илимске. дышать там нечем совершенно, все сидят в закрытых квартирах с увлажнителями воздуха и терпят. я не нашла информации по погибшим (а в пожары городские люди часто гибнут не от огня, а от сердца, вспомните пожары в Центральной России 2011 года. но умирающие от сердца на счет пожара и совесть властей не пойдут)

I just spoke with my sister, she lives and works in Ust-Ilimsk. It’s really impossible to breathe there; everyone’s sitting locked up in their apartments with air humidifiers and suffering. I haven’t found any information on victims (and during fires, city dwellers often don’t die from the flames but from heart [complications], remember the fires in Central Russia in 2011.

— Oksana Vasyakina, Facebook, 29 July 2019

Another gave a chillingly clinical account of what awaits residents in such places:

Населённые пункты на запад от горящих лесов поглотил густой дым. Люди дышат токсичными продуктами горения. Наверное, вы знаете, что, когда пожарные входят в горящий дом, на них надеты специальные маски, чтобы они не задохнулись от угарного газа. По этой же причине во время пожара в помещении рекомендуется дышать через мокрую тряпку. Но это делают, когда горят только здания, из которых можно выбраться и начать дышать свежим воздухом, а сейчас пламенем охвачены гигантские лесные массивы, а смог от этих пожаров распространяется на тысячи километров. Людей до сих пор не начали эвакуировать, из-за этого они сильно пострадают. […] Многие последствия могут проявляться не сразу, а через несколько недель. Это бомба замедленного действия.

Populated places to the West of the burning forests are enveloped in a thick fog. People are breathing the toxic emissions from the fire. You probably know that, when firemen enter a burning house, they wear special masks so they don’t suffocate from carbon monoxide. That’s the reason why it’s recommended to breathe though a damp cloth in case of fire. But that’s done when a single building is burning, from which you can escape and start to breathe fresh air. But now the flames cover gigantic forests, and smoke from these fires spreads over thousands of kilometres. People still haven’t begun to be evacuated, so they’re seriously suffering. […] Many of the symptoms don’t manifest immediately, but after several weeks. It’s a slow-acting bomb.

— Александра Кукулина, Facebook, 28 July 2019

The St Petersburg based Buryat journalist Alexandra Gamarzhapova reflected on the crisis in her home region:

Больше 3 млн га леса прямо в эти минуты горит в Сибири. В моей родной Бурятии введен режим ЧС.

Мы привыкли, что людям в общем-то друг на друга плевать (чиновников, которые отказывается тушить пожары, терпим мы с вами), но звери-то и леса тут причем?

Сотни тысяч животных гибнут сейчас, потому что человек говорит, что тушить пожары дорого.

Я присоединяюсь ко флешмобу #сибирьгорит и верю, что если нас, неравнодушных, будет миллионы, власти начнут борьбу с огнем.

P.S. За виртуальные флешмобы пока не сажают, так что присоединяйтесь.

More than three million hectares are burning in Siberia this very minute. A state of emergency has been introduced in my native region of Buryatia.

We’re used to people not giving a damn about each other (to those officials who refuse to put out the fires: we suffer with you), but why do the animals and the forests have to suffer?

Hundreds of thousands of animals are dying right now, because one man said that it is too expensive to put out the fires?

I’m joining the flashmob #Siberiaisburning and believe that if there are millions of us who are not indifferent [to this], the authorities will start fighting the fire.

P.S. They don’t jail people yet for virtual flashmobs, so come and join.

— Alexandra Garmazhapova, Facebook, 30 July 2019

Those are just a few reasons why Alexander Uss is probably the least popular man in Russia right now. They’re also why 780,000 people, as of 31 July, signed an online petition demanding that the government introduce emergency status across Siberia.

Nevertheless, Uss’s statements did have a legal basis. As the Russian daily Vedomosti noted, many of the remote areas where the fires broke out are “control zones,” a term introduced in 2015. Due to their distance from settlements and key infrastructure, local authorities are not obliged to fight forest fires in these areas, which saves them money and resources. But Grigory Kukshin of Greenpeace Russia told Sibir.Realii that many of the control zones are far from uninhabited, and that nearly 90 per cent of Russia’s forest fires last summer occurred in such areas. The State Duma, Russia’s legislature, is now considering a review of “control zones.”

So the authorities are beginning to respond to public demand; on 29 July, Rosleskhoz, Russia’s state forestry agency, reported that military units and planes had started to put out the blaze. But it seems to be too little, too late. As was the case during recent floods in Siberia’s Irkutsk region, Russian commentators are already linking the government’s response to broader questions of accountability and state-society relations. This was not helped by president Vladimir Putin’s earlier offer of support to Greece to combat forest fires on 24 July.

Importantly, many of the regions affected already suffer from ecological problems, meaning that existing eco-movements (such as Krasnoyarsk’s “Clear Sky” movement against air pollution) have played an important role in mobilising locals to make their voices heard.

So the idea that fighting forest fires is “economically unprofitable” resonates with people who suspect this is just how the government sees their prior problems. In fact, the phrase has become a meme in its own right, in a similar spirit to Dmitry Medvedev’s words “there’s no money but you hang in there,” which the Russian prime minister said to pensioners in Crimea in 2016.

They tell us that it’s not profitable to extinguish the Krasnoyarsk taiga. And what about paying the multi-million salaries of [Igor] Sechin, [-] Miller, [-] Kostin; is that profitable? Or, perhaps, the construction of a new residence for [Russian Orthodox Patriarch] Kirill for nearly three billion rubles; is that profitable? Have all of you over there in Moscow completely lost your minds? Have you forgotten who saved your asses from the clutches of the fascists in December 1941? We, the Siberian people, demand a full-scale operation to extinguish [the fires] in our forests, using all the forces of the Ministry of Emergency Situations and Ministry of Defence.

— Nikolai Salnikov, Ekho MoskvyJuly 27, 2019

Similarly, libertarian activist Mikhail Svetov, who runs a popular YouTube channel, linked discontent over the forest fires to other causes of public concern:

It’s not profitable to extinguish the taiga. But it is profitable to spend 216 billion on supporting the national guard. It is profitable to poison children with landfills and send toxic waste to Shiyes. As we go out to defend Russia and our future, they fight for the right to ravage our country.

— Mikhail Svetov (@msvetov) July 27, 2019

True to form, some Runet users turned tragedy to farce with their acerbic wit:

It’s unpatriotic to say “forest fires.”
As everybody knows:
It’s not an explosion, but a ball of cotton
Not an aviation catastrophe, but a hard landing
Not miserable poverty, but negative income growth
That’s why these are not forest fires, but a smoke screen against NATO spy satellites

— Проф. Преображенский (@prof_preobr), July 30, 2019