December 8, 2011
“Make sure you click the link below to watch the blatant lies and propaganda the mainstream media is feeding you.” –KTRN
With so much going on in the world today, one can see how easy it would be to get confused. Are those pictures of the war in Iraq or Afghanistan? Poverty in Somalia or Congo? And what’s a news program to do if there aren’t any good pictures?
So producers all over the world search, and talk to their own crews or news agencies who provide feeds for everyone, and find the best shots to grace their air time.
Or – in some cases – ANY shots that look more or less similar to the covered topic. Case in point: protests in Russia and the ever-blundering FOX News.
Yes, there are mass protests in Russia. Have been, since election day on Sunday. Thousands have been gathering to speak their mind and protest the election results. Yes, hundreds have been arrested. For two days in a row, and for various violations. Yes, there are reports of police brutality and no; right now it’s not possible to say whether they are true. It really does depend on the cops – much as it does anywhere else in the world. In New York, for example, some police officers will look the other way when you are filming somewhere you technically shouldn’t be; and others will detain you outside the United Nations building for no reason and refuse you your rights (and yes, all this did happen). Cops in Moscow are the same – some are nicer than others, while some appear to be almost looking for a fight.
Regardless of all this – yes, there are protests. But this, my friends, is NOT them.
August 13, 2010
By: Nile Gardener
The last few weeks have been a nightmare for President Obama, in a summer of discontent in the United States which has deeply unsettled the ruling liberal elites, so much so that even the Left has begun to turn against the White House. While the anti-establishment Tea Party movement has gained significant ground and is now a rising and powerful political force to be reckoned with, many of the president’s own supporters as well as independents are rapidly losing faith in Barack Obama, with open warfare breaking out between the White House and the left-wing of the Democratic Party. While conservatism in America grows stronger by the day, the forces of liberalism are growing increasingly weaker and divided.
Against this backdrop, the president’s approval ratings have been sliding dramatically all summer, with the latest Rasmussen Daily Presidential Tracking Poll of US voters dropping to minus 22 points, the lowest point so far for Barack Obama since taking office. While just 24 per cent of American voters strongly approve of the president’s job performance, almost twice that number, 46 per cent, strongly disapprove. According to Rasmussen, 65 per cent of voters believe the United States is going down the wrong track, including 70 per cent of independents.
The RealClearPolitics average of polls now has President Obama at over 50 per cent disapproval, a remarkably high figure for a president just 18 months into his first term. Strikingly, the latest USA Today/Gallup survey has the President on just 41 per cent approval, with 53 per cent disapproving.
There are an array of reasons behind the stunning decline and political fall of President Obama, chief among them fears over the current state of the US economy, with widespread concern over high levels of unemployment, the unstable housing market, and above all the towering budget deficit. Americans are increasingly rejecting President Obama’s big government solutions to America’s economic woes, which many fear will lead to the United States sharing the same fate as Greece.
Growing disillusionment with the Obama administration’s handling of the economy as well as health care and immigration has gone hand in hand with mounting unhappiness with the President’s aloof and imperial style of leadership, and a growing perception that he is out of touch with ordinary Americans, especially at a time of significant economic pain. Barack Obama’s striking absence of natural leadership ability (and blatant lack of experience) has played a big part in undermining his credibility with the US public, with his lacklustre handling of the Gulf oil spill coming under particularly intense fire.
On the national security and foreign policy front, President Obama has not fared any better. His leadership on the war in Afghanistan has been confused and at times lacking in conviction, and seemingly dictated by domestic political priorities rather than military and strategic goals. His overall foreign policy has been an appalling mess, with his flawed strategy of engagement of hostile regimes spectacularly backfiring. And as for the War on Terror, his administration has not even acknowledged it is fighting one.
Can it get any worse for President Obama? Undoubtedly yes. Here are 10 key reasons why the Obama presidency is in serious trouble, and why its prospects are unlikely to improve between now and the November mid-terms.
1. The Obama presidency is out of touch with the American people
In a previous post I noted how the Obama presidency increasingly resembles a modern-day Ancien Régime, extravagant, decaying and out of touch with ordinary Americans. The First Lady’s ill-conceived trip to Spain at a time of widespread economic hardship was symbolic of a White House that barely gives a second thought to public opinion on many issues, and frequently projects a distinctly elitist image. The “let them eat cake” approach didn’t play well over two centuries ago, and it won’t succeed today.
2. Most Americans don’t have confidence in the president’s leadership
This deficit of trust in Obama’s leadership is central to his decline. According to a recent Washington Post/ABC News poll, “nearly six in ten voters say they lack faith in the president to make the right decisions for the country”, and two thirds “say they are disillusioned with or angry about the way the federal government is working.” The poll showed that a staggering 58 per cent of Americans say they do not have confidence in the president’s decision-making, with just 42 per cent saying they do.
3. Obama fails to inspire
In contrast to the soaring rhetoric of his 2004 Convention speech in Boston which succeeded in impressing millions of television viewers at the time, America is no longer inspired by Barack Obama’s flat, monotonous and often dull presidential speeches and statements delivered via teleprompter. From his extraordinarily uninspiring Afghanistan speech at West Point to his flat State of the Union address, President Obama has failed to touch the heart of America. Even Jimmy Carter was more moving.
4. The United States is drowning in debt
The Congressional Budget Office Long-Term Budget Outlook offers a frightening picture of the scale of America’s national debt. Under its alternative fiscal scenario, the CBO projects that US debt could rise to 87 percent of GDP by 2020, 109 percent by 2025, and 185 percent in 2035. While much of Europe, led by Britain and Germany, are aggressively cutting their deficits, the Obama administration is actively growing America’s debt, and has no plan in place to avert a looming Greek-style financial crisis.
5. Obama’s Big Government message is falling flat
The relentless emphasis on bailouts and stimulus spending has done little to spur economic growth or create jobs, but has greatly advanced the power of the federal government in America. This is not an approach that is proving popular with the American public, and even most European governments have long ditched this tax and spend approach to saving their own economies.
6. Obama’s support for socialised health care is a huge political mistake
In an extraordinary act of political Harakiri, President Obama leant his full support to the hugely controversial, unpopular and divisive health care reform bill, with a monstrous price tag of $940 billion, whose repeal is now supported by 55 per cent of likely US voters. As I wrote at the time of its passing, the legislation is “a great leap forward by the United States towards a European-style vision of universal health care, which will only lead to soaring costs, higher taxes, and a surge in red tape for small businesses. This reckless legislation dramatically expands the power of the state over the lives of individuals, and could not be further from the vision of America’s founding fathers.”
7. Obama’s handling of the Gulf oil spill has been weak-kneed and indecisive
While much of the spilled oil in the Gulf has now been thankfully cleared up, the political damage for the White House will be long-lasting. Instead of showing real leadership on the matter by acing decisively and drawing upon offers of international support, the Obama administration settled on a more convenient strategy of relentlessly bashing an Anglo-American company while largely sitting on its hands. Significantly, a poll of Louisiana voters gave George W. Bush higher marks for his handling of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, with 62 percent disapproving of Obama’s performance on the Gulf oil spill.
8. US foreign policy is an embarrassing mess under the Obama administration
It is hard to think of a single foreign policy success for the Obama administration, but there have been plenty of missteps which have weakened American global power as well as the standing of the United States. The surrender to Moscow on Third Site missile defence, the failure to aggressively stand up to Iran’s nuclear programme, the decision to side with ousted Marxists in Honduras, the slap in the face for Great Britain over the Falklands, have all contributed to the image of a US administration completely out of its depth in international affairs. The Obama administration’s high risk strategy of appeasing America’s enemies while kicking traditional US allies has only succeeded in weakening the United States while strengthening her adversaries.
9. President Obama is muddled and confused on national security
From the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq to the War on Terror, President Obama’s leadership has often been muddled and confused. On Afghanistan he rightly sent tens of thousands of additional troops to the battlefield. At the same time however he bizarrely announced a timetable for the withdrawal of US forces beginning in July 2011, handing the initiative to the Taliban. On Iraq he has announced an end to combat operations and the withdrawal of all but 50,000 troops despite a recent upsurge in terrorist violence and political instability, and without the Iraqi military and police ready to take over. In addition he has ditched the concept of a War on Terror, replacing it with an Overseas Contingency Operation, hardly the right message to send in the midst of a long-war against Al-Qaeda.
10. Obama doesn’t believe in American greatness
Barack Obama has made it clear that he doesn’t believe in American exceptionalism, and has made apologising for his country into an art form. In a speech to the United Nations last September he stated that “no one nation can or should try to dominate another nation. No world order that elevates one nation or group of people over another will succeed. No balance of power among nations will hold.” It is difficult to see how a US president who holds these views and does not even accept America’s greatness in history can actually lead the world’s only superpower with force and conviction.
There is a distinctly Titanic-like feel to the Obama presidency and it’s not hard to see why. The most left-wing president in modern American history has tried to force a highly interventionist, government-driven agenda that runs counter to the principles of free enterprise, individual freedom, and limited government that have made the United States the greatest power in the world, and the freest nation on earth.
This, combined with weak leadership both at home and abroad against the backdrop of tremendous economic uncertainty in an increasingly dangerous world, has contributed to a spectacular political collapse for a president once thought to be invincible. America at its core remains a deeply conservative nation, which cherishes its traditions and founding principles. President Obama is increasingly out of step with the American people, by advancing policies that undermine the United States as a global power, while undercutting America’s deep-seated love for freedom.
August 10, 2010
By: Stuart Williams
Russia fought a deadly battle Tuesday to prevent wildfires from engulfing key nuclear sites as alarm mounted over the impact on health of a toxic smoke cloud shrouded over Moscow.
Two soldiers were killed by blazing trees as they worked to put out a fire dangerously close to Russia’s main nuclear research centre, while workers were also mobilised to fight blazes near a nuclear reprocessing plant.
After almost two weeks of fires that have claimed over 50 lives and even part destroyed a military storage site, the authorities said they were making progress in fighting fires that still covered 174,035 hectares of land
“A positive dynamic in liquidating the wildfires continues to be observed,” said the head of the emergencies ministry’s crisis unit, Vladimir Stepanov.
“The numbers (of emergency workers) have been increased in those regions where there is a difficult situation with the fires,” he added.
The emergencies ministry said that over the last 24 hours, 247 new fires had appeared, more than the 239 that were extinguished, and 557 fires were still raging across the affected region.
Two members of the Russian armed forces were killed Monday fighting wildfires around the major nuclear research centre in Sarov, a town still closed to foreigners as in Soviet times.
Reporting the first death, Interfax news agency said “A burning tree fell on the soldier. He died of cranial trauma on the way to the hospital,” quoting defence ministry spokesman Vasily Panchenkov.
The local crisis unit later confirmed that another serviceman, who usually worked at a local prison camp, was also killed by a burning tree while fighting the fire, Interfax said.
Meanwhile, officials said fires close to the town of Snezhinsk in the Urals and home to one of Russia’s top nuclear research centres had been localised.
The acrid smog from wildfires 100 kilometres (60 miles) out in the countryside that descended over Moscow lightened Tuesday morning but forecasters warned it could return and the air quality was still dangerously poor.
The Moscow authorities acknowledged for the first time on Monday that the daily mortality rate in Moscow had doubled and morgues were overflowing with bodies but the federal government has yet to confirm that statistic.
Carbon monoxide in the Moscow air was 1.4 times higher than acceptable levels Tuesday, the state pollution watchdog said, a slight improvement from the day before. On Saturday they had been an alarming 6.6 times worse.
Moscow mayor Yuri Luzhkov, meeting Prime Minister Vladimir Putin for the first time since returning from a much-criticised holiday, said calls to the emergency health services in Moscow had grown by one-fifth.
Luzhkov initially refused to return from holiday, with his aides earning ridicule in the tabloid press by denying there was any crisis in the city.
“You of course did the right thing by coming back from holiday. You did it on time,” Putin said pointedly.
The authorities have rejected criticism that they were poorly prepared for the heatwave, which meteorologists have said is the worst in the 1,000 year history of Russia.
“Even if we had started (preparing for the heatwave and fires) 10 years ago we would not have been able to do anything,” President Dmitry Medvedev said late Monday on a visit to one of the worst affected regions.
Moreover Russia is such a vast country. “Putting out fires in Luxembourg is presumably easier than in Russia,” he remarked.
The heatwave has a huge impact on all areas of Russian society and economists warned Tuesday the record temperatures could have cost the country 15 billion dollars and undercut a modest economic revival.
Worst hit has been the agriculture industry, which has seen 10 million hectares of land destroyed.
Putin, who shocked international markets last week by announcing that Russia was banning grain exports, slashed the grain harvest forecast by another 10 million tonnes.
He also warned the Moscow could even extend the export ban, due to expire on December 31, saying that anyone waiting for that date was doing so “in vain”.
August 3, 2010
By Theunis Bates
The former Soviet bloc seems to have produced a whole generation of danger-loving beauties named Anna. Less than a month after sultry Russian spy Anna Chapman was shipped back to the motherland, another gorgeous Anna — this time with the more Slavic surname Fermanova — has been busted for allegedly trying to smuggle high-tech weapons parts from the U.S. to Moscow.
Federal agents stopped the Latvian-born beautician — who has U.S. citizenship and lives near Dallas — as she prepared to board a March 1 flight to the Russian capital at New York’s JFK airport. They found a $7,000 Raptor 4X night-vision weapons sight in her suitcase, along with two advanced night-vision sights worth $4,000 each, stuffed inside a pair of Ugg boots, according to court documents.
The 24-year-old blonde told officers she was taking the items to her husband — who lives in Moscow, where she also teaches English to children. She told them he wanted to resell the scopes to a hunter friend.
When asked by investigators if she’d known that the sights couldn’t be exported without a State Department license, she replied that she “signed something about that” when she’d bought them online, but was “not really sure what she was signing.” However, authorities said, ID numbers on the scopes had been scratched off or covered with a black marker pen, and she admitted doing this “so they would be less noticeable.”
Agents confiscated the sights and let Fermanova fly on to Russia. She was arrested on arrival back in the U.S. on July 15 and charged with “knowingly and intentionally” attempting to export “defense articles on the United States munitions list” — charges that carry a possible 10-year sentence upon conviction.
Fermanova may share a first name, good looks and a penchant for striking provocative poses in Facebook photos (since taken down, but viewable here) with the 28-year-old Chapman, but her lawyer insists the similarities with the flame-haired spy end there. “She is quite sexy, you could say, but she is not a spy,” Fermanova’s Dallas attorney, Scott Palmer, told The Dallas Morning News. “The government is not accusing her of being a spy, or having any connection with any spy or terrorist organization. She’s just a U.S. citizen who was doing a friend a favor.” And while Chapman was a relatively recent arrival in the U.S., Fermanova has lived in America since was 9, according to the paper, when her Jewish parents fled religious persecution in Latvia.
Fermanova, who is described in court papers as being 5-foot-6, 135 pounds, and having a pierced belly button, is under house arrest at her parents’ home in Plano, where she is going “stir crazy” her lawyer told the New York Daily News. She is expected to appear in Brooklyn Federal Court later this summer.
July 12, 2010
By: Guy Faulconbridge
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said on Monday that Iran was moving closer to having the potential to create nuclear weapons.
“Iran is moving closer to possessing the potential which in principle could be used for the creation of nuclear weapons,” Medvedev told a meeting of ambassadors in Moscow.
June 30, 2010
The Wall Street Journal
By Evan Perez
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on Tuesday criticized U.S. law enforcement, even as his government acknowledged that its citizens were among the 11 people that U.S. authorities charged were part of a long-running spy operation.
Both Mr. Putin and U.S. officials voiced hopes that the brewing scandal would not harm relations between the two countries, and there was no sign in Moscow of the kind of tit-for-tat action that a deeper diplomatic rift would imply.
Still, the emergence of an alleged cell of secret agents reporting back to handlers in Moscow undercut the Obama administration’s claim of improved ties with Moscow as part of a “reset” of U.S.-Russia relations.
President Barack Obama last week took Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to his favorite hamburger joint, which turned out to be just blocks from the Arlington, Va., apartment building where one of the alleged Russian secret agents lived.
June 21, 2010
By: Catherine Belton
Dmitry Medvedev, the Russian president, said Moscow was bidding to help lead efforts to build a new world economic order after the old system collapsed in the global financial crisis.
Opening Russia’s annual economic forum in St Petersburg where hundreds of global chief executives have flocked, Mr Medvedev said the renewed interest in Russia this year was a sign of a changing world in which the institutions of the western-dominated world order had had their day amid thousands of corporate defaults and the threat of sovereign defaults.
May 13, 2010
Inside The Ring
By Bill Gertz
The recent crash of a Polish military transport that killed most of Warsaw’s senior civilian and military leaders was not only a human catastrophe for a key U.S. ally. NATO sources said that, in addition to the loss of nearly 100 pro-U.S. Polish leaders, the crash provided Moscow with a windfall of secrets.
The crash killed Polish President Lech Kaczynski in western Russia on April 10 and decapitated Poland’s military, killing two service chiefs, key military aides and several national security officials, many of whom were carrying computers and pocket memory sticks that contained sensitive NATO data.
Perhaps the most significant compromise, according to a NATO intelligence source, is that the Russians are suspected of obtaining ultrasecret codes used by NATO militaries for secure satellite communications.
The compromise of the codes is considered what electronic spies call a “break” for Moscow code-breakers. New NATO codes almost certainly were issued to allied militaries immediately after the crash.
But if the Russian electronic intelligence service, known as the Federal Agency of Government Communications and Information, was able to recover and use the communication key code from the wreckage, electronic spies will be able to decode months’ or perhaps years’ worth of scrambled communications that are routinely gathered electronically for just such an occasion.
The coded communications, if decrypted, would reveal some of NATO’s most intimate secrets, such as plans for defenses and even the identities of agents or allied eavesdropping sources.
Other Polish and NATO secrets also were believed to be aboard the jet, and so far Russia’s government is refusing to cooperate fully with Poland’s government in providing details on the cause of the crash, or even to turn over the Polish jet’s black boxes.
Additionally, Poland’s interim government has not pressed the Russians for answers to questions about the crash, such as why Russian aviation authorities, without any investigation, ruled that pilot error caused the crash minutes after the jet crashed short of the runway in fog at Russia’s Smolensk airport. Polish security and aviation authorities also were denied access to the crash site…
March 29, 2010
At least 38 people have been killed after two female suicide bombers blew themselves up on Moscow Metro trains in the morning rush hour, officials say.
Twenty-four died in the first blast at 0756 (0356 GMT) as a train stood at the central Lubyanka station, beneath the offices of the FSB intelligence agency.
About 40 minutes later, a second explosion ripped through a train at Park Kultury, leaving another 14 dead.
The FSB said it was likely a group from the North Caucasus was responsible.
The BBC’s Richard Galpin in Moscow says no group has yet said it carried out the attacks, but past suicide bombings in the capital have been carried out by or blamed on Islamist rebels fighting for independence in Chechnya.
In February, Chechen rebel leader Doku Umarov said “the zone of military operations will be extended to the territory of Russia… the war is coming to their cities”.
At an emergency meeting with senior officials, President Dmitry Medvedev vowed to uphold the “policy of suppressing terror and the fight against terrorism”.
“We will continue operations against terrorists without compromises and to the end,” he said.
Federal security forces have scored a series of successes against militants in the North Caucasus in recent weeks. In February, at least 20 insurgents were killed in an operation by troops in Ingushetia.
Emergency services ministry spokeswoman Irina Andrianova said the first explosion tore through the second carriage of a train as it stood at Lubyanka at the peak of the rush hour.
The station, on both the busy Sokolnicheskaya and Tagansko-Krasnopresnenskaya lines, lies beneath the headquarters of the Federal Security Service (FSB).
“I was moving up on the escalator when I heard a loud bang, a blast. A door near the passage way arched, was ripped out and a cloud of dust came down on the escalator,” an eyewitness named Alexei told Rossiya 24 TV channel.
“People started running, panicking, falling on each other,” he said.
The second blast at Park Kultury, which is six stops away from Lubyanka on the Sokolnicheskaya line, came at 0838 (0438 GMT). It struck at the back of the train as people were getting on board.
“I was in the middle of the train when somewhere in the first or second carriage there was a loud blast. I felt the vibrations reverberate through my body,” one passenger told the RIA news agency.
“People were yelling like hell,” he said. “There was a lot of smoke and within about two minutes everything was covered in smoke.”
More than 60 people were injured in the two attacks, 30 of them badly, officials said.
In a meeting with President Medvedev, FSB chief Alexander Bortnikov said its investigators believed the attacks had been carried out by “terrorist groups related to the North Caucasus”.
“This is likely to be our main conclusion, because fragments of the bodies of two female suicide bombers were found earlier at the scene of the incident and examinations show that these individuals came from the North Caucasus region,” he said.
Citing a preliminary forensic report, Mr Bortnikov added that the devices had been made with the powerful explosive, hexogen, which is more commonly known as RDX.
The bomb that went off at Lubyanka station had an equivalent force of up to 4kg of TNT, while the bomb at Park Kultury was equivalent to 1.5-2kg of TNT, he said. The devices were filled with chipped iron rods and screws for shrapnel.
Federal prosecutors said they had opened an investigation into “suspected acts of terrorism”.
December 9, 2009
Los Angeles Times
By Megan K. Stack
In the snow-hushed woods on Moscow’s northern edge, scientists are decades deep into research on bending the weather to their will. They’ve been at it since Soviet dictator Josef Stalin paused long enough in the throes of World War II to found an observatory dedicated to tampering with climatic inconveniences.
Since then, they’ve melted away fog, dissipated the radioactive fallout from Chernobyl and called down rains fierce enough to drown unborn locusts threatening the distant northeastern grasslands.
Now they’re poised to battle the most inevitable and emblematic force of Russian winter: the snow.
Moscow’s government, led by powerful and long-reigning Mayor Yuri Luzhkov, has indicated that clearing the capital’s streets of snow is simply too expensive. Instead, officials are weighing a plan to seed the clouds with liquid nitrogen or dry ice to keep heavy snow from falling inside the city limits.
Word of the proposal has sent a shudder through Moscow just as the first dark, snowy days have fallen on the capital. It has also piqued the surrounding region, which would receive the brunt of the displaced snowfall, and has raised concerns among ecologists.
“I was very surprised because [the mayor] never even asked us,” says Alexei Yablokov, who sits on the mayor’s ecological council and has concerns about the proposal, including the environmental effects and pressure on surrounding villages. “We never discussed it at all.”