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Hometown: Xenia, OH
Member since: Tue Sep 19, 2006, 04:46 PM
Number of posts: 19,288
Hometown: Xenia, OH
Member since: Tue Sep 19, 2006, 04:46 PM
Number of posts: 19,288
- 2015 (29)
- 2014 (110)
- 2013 (109)
- 2012 (74)
- 2011 (3)
- December (3)
Russian tanks and soldiers have been “decisive” in winning key battles against government troops in eastern Ukraine, the commander of a separatist “special forces” detachment has admitted. The Kremlin denies sending men and military vehicles to fight in Ukraine, but Dmitry Sapozhnikov told the BBC that regular army units sent from Russia and commanded by Russian officers were key in seizing the strategic town of Debaltseve in February.
Nemtsov Allies Plan to Publish Report on Russian Soldiers in Ukraine
A report being prepared by supporters of slain opposition leader Boris Nemtsov claims that Moscow has started discharging its soldiers from the army before sending them to Ukraine and then denying compensation to the families of men who were killed in order to cover up Russia's involvement in the conflict.
The report, which Nemtsov was working on before he was shot and killed in Moscow on Feb. 27, will be completed and published next month by his allies, the politician's friend and associate Ilya Yashin wrote on his Facebook page Monday.
"We have managed to communicate with people who were Nemtsov's sources," Yashin said. "They were very much afraid to speak while he was alive. The murder of Boris, as you understand, did not give them new courage, so they were reluctant to get in contact."
According to these sources, Russia's involvement in Ukraine was marked by two "waves" of increased military casualties, Yashin said. The first surge in casualties came last summer, when scores of Russian troops moved across the border and helped secure an advance by separatist forces. The second wave came in January and February of this year, during the large-scale fighting that preceded the signing of the so-called Minsk II agreement on Feb. 11.
Posted by pampango | Wed Apr 1, 2015, 07:12 AM (3 replies)
Following a meeting of Liberal international in Oxford, Catherine Bearder, Hans van Baalen, Graham Watson and Cecilia Wikström write that liberals must stand together against the rise of the far-right and the 'politics of fear'.
The rise of the 'politics of fear', of branding immigrants as 'others' who should be feared, of xenophobia, racism and separatism (teapublican divisive tactics that we have all experienced) are all things that American liberals have in common with those in Europeans. I am not so sure that we share the European commitment to internationalism, at least not to the same degree, which probably results for decades of experience as the "world's policeman" with its negative consequences. European liberals may see internationalism more as FDR saw it - as a way to tie the world together and promote shared peace and prosperity.
Europe and America seem to also share a decline of a belief that 'friendly cooperation with our neighbors' (down the street or across the border), rather than every man - or country - for itself with its reliance on the mythical 'invisible hand to produce the greatest good, will lead to shared, sustainable prosperity. The more conservative "my country first" (a variant of "me first") seems to be increasingly replacing the "we are all in this together" mentality that was dominant during more liberal eras in both places. There is no evidence that an 'invisible hand' will actually produce the greatest good when many 'me first' actors (individuals or countries) compete, rather than cooperate, with each other.
Posted by pampango | Thu Mar 26, 2015, 06:04 AM (29 replies)
(per capita - 1/4 of US' population, 1/2 of our auto production). In 2014 US vehicle production was 11.6 million, while Germany's was 5.9 million. Paying workers less, which our employers always want to do, is not the answer. German automakers could show GM and Ford why that is true.
Oddly, the US is one of the few countries that manufactures more commercial vehicles (7,407,601 in 2014) than passenger cars (4,253,098). Canada is another (1.5 million vs 900,000).
Another fact, there is a strong positive correlation between the degree of unionization in a country and having a positive balance of trade (more exports than imports).
Posted by pampango | Tue Mar 24, 2015, 05:38 AM (0 replies)
Here, income security is mainly EITC, food stamps, and unemployment benefits, plus a few other means-tested aid programs. Health is all major programs — Medicare, Medicaid/CHIP, and at the very end the exchange subsidies.
What this chart tells you right away:
1. The “nation of takers” stuff is deeply misleading. Until the economic crisis, income security had no trend at all. The only way to make it seem as if means-tested programs were exploding is to include Medicaid, which has gone up in part because of rising costs, in part because of a major expansion to cover children (all those 11-year-old bums on welfare, you know).
2. When people claimed that spending was exploding under Obama, the only thing actually happening was a surge in income-support programs at a time of genuine distress. People smirked knowingly and declared that everyone knew that the bump in spending would become permanent; it didn’t.
3. If there is a long-run spending problem, it’s overwhelmingly about health care. And we have lately been making remarkable progress on that front.
Facts won't matter with republicans and their slash-entitlements fixation. But it is nice to have facts on our side.
Posted by pampango | Thu Mar 12, 2015, 09:55 AM (2 replies)
Obama vows veto of new Senate legislation ensuring vote on Iran deal\
Four senators have introduced a bill that would grant Congress the opportunity to approve, or disapprove, of a comprehensive nuclear deal with Iran negotiated by the Obama administration. The Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015 was introduced on Friday by Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman Bob Corker (R-Tennessee) and ranking member Robert Menendez (D-New Jersey), as well as Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) and Tim Kaine (D-Virginia).
Their move was immediately criticized by the White House. US President Barack Obama will veto all legislation on Iran so long as negotiations are under way, one spokesman told The Jerusalem Post.
The bill would require Obama submit to Congress the text of a final agreement as well as evidence of Iran's compliance to the deal, and prohibits him from "suspending, waiving or otherwise reducing" congressional sanctions for sixty days. At that point in time, Congress would vote on a joint resolution of approval or disapproval of the deal. Should Congress vote against the agreement, and should the president veto that resolution, the legislature would vote a second time with the potential to override his veto with a two-thirds majority.
The American Israel Public Affairs Committee, which is preparing to open its annual conference on Sunday and to host Netanyahu the following day, will fight for the bill, one official said.
Posted by pampango | Sat Feb 28, 2015, 07:48 PM (8 replies)
One week after Greece’s leftist government reached a new debt deal with its creditors, Paul Krugman argues in his New York Times column today that left-wing criticism of the deal is misguided, obscuring larger victories secured by Greek negotiators.
What was at stake in the negotiations, the Nobel Prize-winning economist writes, was whether Greece would have to impose further austerity measures on its already beleaguered populace. The Syriza government avoided such a calamity:
Krugman concedes that the debt deal contains other provisions with which leftists quarrel. Greek negotiators agreed to proceed with privatization deals already underway and to preserve some “structural reform” of the labor market implemented by the leftist government’s predecessors. But Greece also redoubled its commitment to cracking down on tax evasion, particularly by the wealthy; you’d be hard-pressed to frame that as a defeat for the left.
All in all, Krugman concludes, the pushback against austerity is meeting with notable successes — “even if nobody believes it.”
Posted by pampango | Fri Feb 27, 2015, 04:55 PM (1 replies)
Putin Creates Official Holiday on Anniversary of Crimea Annexation
February 27 will from now on be marked in Russia as Special Operations Forces Day, according to a decree signed Thursday by President Vladimir Putin and published on the official legislative website. The Special Operations Forces, a branch of Russian defense apparatus operating both inside the country and abroad, was formed in March 2013. The Chief of the General Staff said at the time of its creation that the new branch was inspired by the experience of "the world's leading nations," Russian media reported.
Answering its own question of why Feb. 27 was chosen as the day, an article in government newspaper Rossiiskaya Gazeta said: "Remember what happened and where a year ago. And how it all ended."
One year ago, mysterious troops bearing no insignia appeared in Crimea, which was shortly afterward annexed from Ukraine by Russia. The troops, who said little and declined to reveal their identity but ensured order during the annexation and subsequent referendum on joining Russia, quickly became known as "little green men" in the international media and "polite people" in Russia.
Putin initially denied that Russian troops had been dispatched to Crimea, but later admitted it.
And now the Russian government denies that there are Russian troops in eastern Ukraine. Perhaps later they will admit that too and establish a new holiday commemorating their deeds.
Posted by pampango | Fri Feb 27, 2015, 03:33 PM (7 replies)
Despite the Ukraine crisis and increasing tensions with Russia, most Nato members are doing little to reverse the decline in their defence spending. Nato has already set a target that member states should each spend a minimum of 2% of their national wealth or GDP on defence. In 2015 only one of the 14 nations examined, Estonia, will meet the 2% target.
New research by Ian Kearns and Denitsa Raynova of the European Leadership Network (ELN) found that six countries, including two of the biggest defence spenders in Europe, the UK and Germany, will cut defence expenditure in 2015. Defence spending in France, the other big spender in Europe, will remain static.
Contrast that with Russia's defence spending, which is rising from 3.4% of its GDP this year to 4.2% next year ($81bn or £52.2bn). Russia is also stepping up its military activity.
A separate report by Ian Brzezinski for the Atlantic Council says there is also an "exercise gap" between Russia and Nato. Since 2013 Russia has conducted at least six military exercises involving 65,000-160,000 troops.
Posted by pampango | Thu Feb 26, 2015, 11:31 AM (2 replies)
Since the revolution in Kyiv, the Kremlin has sharpened its campaign against domestic dissent.
Posted by pampango | Mon Feb 23, 2015, 06:43 PM (1 replies)
Head of the French far-right Front National (FN) party, Marine Le Pen gives a press conference at the FN headquarters in Nanterre on Feb. 6, 2015.
Her popularity is a mark both of increasing French frustration with the political status quo as well as of Le Pen's own efforts to bring her notoriously xenophobic (some would say neo-fascist) party closer to the French mainstream. Yet there are many contexts where Le Pen remains at odds with Europe's liberal consensus. One glaring case in point has to do with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Speaking to a Polish radio station this week, Le Pen took Putin's side in the conflict, hailing Russia as "a natural ally of Europe." She said Moscow's annexation of Crimea last March ought to be recognized by European governments, stressing that the interim government in Kiev at the time "was illegal." She trotted out the Kremlin's talking points on the nature of the revolt that ousted Ukraine's pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych last year, branding the movement as one organized by "Neo-Nazi militants."
Never mind the irony of a far-right European politician warning against neo-Nazism. Le Pen repeated claims she has made for almost a year now that Europe, when it comes to Ukraine, is behaving "like American lackeys." Le Pen sounded the gong again earlier this month: "The aim of the Americans is to start a war in Europe to push NATO to the Russian border," she said.
As WorldViews noted last year, Le Pen is hardly alone in her admiration for Russia under Putin. A whole range of right-wing and ultra-nationalist European politicians share her affection for the Russian leader, whose religious nationalism, conservative values and stated discomfort with the U.S.-authored geopolitical order all appeal to their own brand of politics. ... "It’s beyond irony," a senior figure in the European commission in Brussels tells the Guardian. "You can hear Putin say he had to act in Ukraine to stop fascism, while he’s financing fascists right, left, and centre all over Europe."
Posted by pampango | Thu Feb 19, 2015, 06:53 AM (2 replies)