Tag Archives: Crimea

Russia Gets Booted Out of the G8… And Other News

G8 Turns to G7

The G7, formerly known as the G8, is meeting in the Netherlands on Monday to discuss how they can further shun Russia for annexing the formerly Ukrainian region of Crimea.

President Obama and rest of the leaders all agreed that Vladimir Putin should be excluded from the G8, effectively ending Russia’s 15-year participation in the diplomatic forum. Obviously this means that the planned summer G8 summit in Sochi will no longer take place in Russia. Instead, the G7 will be headed to Brussels in June to try and ward off Russia’s attempt to reunite the old Soviet gang under Kremlin rule. In retaliation for being kicked out of the G8 Club, Russia announced travel bans on 13 Canadian politicians, including Prime Minister Stephen Harper. There go Harper’s vacation plans to wintry Russia… now it’s back to the never ending Canadian winter. New York Times

Ebola Virus GuineaThe plot to the 1995 film Outbreak has hit the West African country of Guinea. An outbreak of the Ebola virus has so far left 59 people dead (out of 80 infected) in Guinea and is suspected to have spread to neighbouring Liberia. Health workers in Guinea are trying to contain the spread of the disease, which causes severe internal bleeding, diarrhea, vomiting, and severe hemorrhagic fever. “In Guinea, a country with a weak medical infrastructure, an outbreak like this can be devastating,” UNICEF said. There’s only one way to stop it: rewatch the movie Outbreak and copy whatever they did to stop the virus from spreading. I’m going to need a VCR and some bananas to lure monkeys. CBC News

Mudslide FloodsA mudslide (and not the good kind) has left 8 people dead in Washington State and 108 unaccounted for. After a month of heavy rains, a wall of mud and debris came sliding down, wiping out neighborhoods and a highway about 55 miles north of Seattle. Authorities in Oso, a remote community of about 180, and Darrington, a town of about 1,350, have been working tirelessly to find survivors. “Total devastation. I mean, it’s just unbelievable. It reminds me of what a tornado looks like when it’s touched the ground,” Snohomish County Sheriff Ty Trenary said. Maybe if they ask nicely they can trade their rain for some of California’s drought. CNN

Hawaii HookersHawaii cops want their hookers! Police officers in Honolulu are asking state lawmakers not to repeal a statute that allows them to have sex with prostitutes during the course of legitimate investigations. Police say they “need” to be able to have sex with hookers during investigations so that they can be caught in the act. Opponents say cops can do their investigations with their pants on and human trafficking experts say allowing cops full access to prostitutes can further traumatize sex workers, some of whom have reported being forced into sex with police officers to avoid arrest. Raw Story

sad-dogSpring is in the air in Detroit and so is the scent of rotting dog carcasses. Melting snow has revealed masses of dead dogs—at least 28 so far, according to the Detroit Animal Welfare Group (DAWG) and they say that is just the “tip of the iceberg.” “Because of the heavy snowfall in the month of January, a lot of these deceased bodies were discarded there because it was easier to cover them up. Also, it was an unusually cold month where a lot of dogs froze outside or were left to starve to death,” a DAWG board member said. Detroit BodyA number of dead dogs, mostly pit bulls and Mastiff mixes, were found at River Rouge Park, an apparently popular dumping ground for dogs killed in fights. But because it’s Detroit, the piles of melting snow have also revealed human bodiesCBS Local

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Who Knew That Tupac Shakur Was Alive And Well In Russia?

Tupac Shakur Sanctions

As the United States and the European Union pile sanctions on Putin for annexing Crimea, Russian politicians are laughing them off – apparently while listening to Tupac Shakur.

In Moscow, sanctioned Russian officials mocked the White House’s announcement that the U.S. was going to impose costs on Russia for making military moves in Ukrainian territory. Turns out freezing assets and banning travel visas don’t do much to discourage Putin’s top aides.

Vladislav Surkov, a top Putin advisor and one of the eleven Russian and Ukrainian officials slapped with White House sanctions, declared that he’s “proud” to have made the sanctions list, equating it to a “political Oscar from America for a best supporting actor”.

“The only things that interest me in the U.S. are Tupac Shakur, Allen Ginsberg and Jackson Pollock,” Surkov told a Russian newspaper. “I don’t need a visa to access their work. I lose nothing.”

Allen Ginsberg the gay, peace loving hippy poet? And Tupac Shakur? Did 90s music just hit Russia? Maybe next year they’ll get the Notorious B.I.G.

Putin, Putin, Putin, can’t you see, sometimes your Cold War tactics just hypnotize me…

Yuri Ushakov, Putin’s chief foreign policy aide, also dismissed the sanctions, saying they “are already a bore.”

“They truly cause a sense of irony and even sarcasm,” he told Interfax on Tuesday.

Dmitry Rogozin, the deputy prime minister of Russia in charge of defense (and friend of Steven Seagal!), took to Twitter to ridicule the U.S. sanctions.

“I think some prankster prepared the draft of this Act of the US President,” he wrote.

“Comrade @BarackObama, what should do those who have neither accounts nor property abroad? Or U didn’t think about it?”

Screenshot 2014-03-18 21.38.19

It remains to be seen whether the sanctions will have any impact on Russia’s plan for Crimea – but from the looks of it the answer is no. President Obama may have to resort to much more drastic measures than freezing assets and restricting visas to convince Putin to hand Crimea back to Ukraine – perhaps freezing Putin’s Facebook account?

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Current Event Cat of the Day: Crimea Gets Annexed

Current Event Cat - Annex Crimea

Hours after Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a treaty adding Crimea to the Russian map, Russia celebrated by killing a Ukrainian soldier. Did they run out of celebratory vodka?

With a historic sweep of his pen, Putin signed a treaty annexing Crimea, two days after the soon-to-be Russian region’s hastily put together referendum to leave Ukraine. Putin described the move a correction of a “historical injustice” and a necessary response to what he referred to as Western encroachment upon Russia’s vital interests.

Crimea has always been an integral part of Russia in the hearts and minds of people,” Putin said in an overly patriotic speech at the Grand Kremlin Palace.

Putin declared before the Russian parliament that Moscow is undeterred in its plan to annex Crimea, and dismissed the West’s criticism of Sunday’s Crimean referendum as a manifestation of the West’s double standards.

Putin’s treaty still must be ratified by Russia’s Constitutional Court and both houses of parliament, but given the quick pace of the whole “annexing Crimea plan”, the deal will probably be complete by the end of this week.

Shortly after Putin and his Crimean pals signed the bill to absorb the peninsula into Russia, a Ukrainian officer was killed in an attack on a base in Crimea. Armed men stormed the base in Simferopol, firing automatic weapons, killing one serviceman and injuring several others. Ukrainian military spokesman Vladislav Seleznyov said it was unclear who had staged the assault, but the Ukrainian prime minister has accused Russia of committing a “war crime” and has authorized its troops to fire in self defense.

The West’s response? MORE SANCTIONS! And a G7 meeting couldn’t hurt.

White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters Tuesday that the United States planned to increase sanctions in response to Russia’s move to annex Crimea and President Obama has called a G7 meeting next week to discuss the annexation.

I guess it’s a good thing this all happened after the Olympics… otherwise it would make for a very awkward closing ceremonies.

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Crisis in the Ukraine: Crimea Votes to Join Russia

Crimea Referendum

Crimea’s parliament declared the region an independent state and formally asked to become part of Russia, following its residents’ overwhelming vote Sunday to break away from Ukraine.

According to Crimean officials, 97% of Crimea voted to join Russia. While 97% isn’t as high as Kim Jong Un’s 100% of the votes, it’s still pretty high. Despite the fact that Russian military officials heavily guarded the voting process and residents were only given two options on the ballots (join Russia or seek greater autonomy within Ukraine), it seems pretty safe to say that the majority of Crimea is pro-Putin. It’s also pretty safe to say that the West only supports democracy when people vote the way they want.

The U.S. and European Union do not consider the vote legitimate, angrily claiming it violates Ukraine’s constitution and took place under pressure from the Russian military. As a result, the western powers have announced travel bans and asset freezes against a number of officials from Russia and Ukraine who are seen as having played a key role in the referendum.

But amid all the Western hatred against Russia, one U.S. politician is breaking away from the pack and siding with Putin: Ron Paul. The former congressman said on Saturday that Crimea should be able to break away and join Russia, arguing that this “is our how our country was started. It was the right of self-determination, and voting, and asking and even fighting for it, and seceding.” Paul went on to say the U.S. had engineered a coup in Kiev against the Yanukovych government and U.S. sanctions against Moscow are an “act of war.” 

Meanwhile, his son Rand Paul, who’s got a 2016 White House bid to worry about, has called for stiff penalties against Russia and declared: “If I were president, I wouldn’t let Vladimir Putin get away with it!”

But Putin has said he will respect the will of the people in Crimea.

“The results of the referendum in Crimea clearly showed that residents of Crimea see their future only as part of Russia,” the deputy speaker of the State Duma, Sergei Neverov said.

The parliament in Moscow intends to pass legislation allowing Crimea to join Russia “in the very near future”, sanctions or no sanctions, Rand Paul or Ron Paul.

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John Kerry Tells Crimea to Crimea River… And Other News

Crimea John Kerry

Crimea river – is Secretary of State John Kerry’s message to the Ukrainian-owned, Russia-loving region.

After a tense meeting with  Russia’s foreign minister, the U.S. has declared that it will not recognize the results of Sunday’s “illegitimate” referendum in Crimea on joining Russia. Meanwhile, foreign minister Sergey Lavrov said Russia has “no plans for military intrusion in Eastern Ukraine,” despite the fact that Putin has lined up tens of thousands of Russian troops along the border. As for the “illegitimate” referendum, Lavrov said Moscow is “committed to respect the will of the people of Crimea.” While Lavrov said his six-hour meeting with Kerry was “constructive”, I think what he really meant is they disagreed on everything and left it at that. BBC News

Child Marriage IraqWhile the U.S is slowly legalizing gay marriage state by state, Iraq has gone one step further (or very far backwards?) by considering legalizing child-marriage. The draft measure, which was first introduced by Iraq’s Justice Ministry at the end of 2013, would open the door to girls as young as nine getting married and would allow a husband to have sex with his wife regardless of consent.  The measure, based on a school of religious law found by the Shiite imam Jaafar al-Sadiq, would only apply to Iraq’s majority Shiite population. While the measure still has to be ratified by parliament before it becomes law, rights activists are doing everything they can to make sure that doesn’t happen. “That law represents a crime against humanity and childhood,” prominent Iraqi human rights activist Hana Adwar said. “Married underage girls are subjected to physical and psychological suffering.” I guess America’s plan to bring freedom and democracy to Iraq didn’t exactly go as planned… Huffington Post

Boehner Invites PopeHouse Speaker and apparent Catholic John Boehner has extended a formal and open invitation to the Pope to pay a visit Congress and share his message of “protection of the most vulnerable among us-the ailing, the disadvantaged, the unemployed, the impoverished, [and] the unborn.” There’s at least one Republican congressman (Paul Ryan…) who could use a lecture on helping the poor – or inner city men as he calls them. No pope or religious leader that serves as a head of state has ever addressed Congress before, so if Pope Francis accepts, it would be a big pope-ing deal. The Pope is reportedly considering a trip to the U.S. next year so I’m sure he’s thrilled to already have something on his itinerary. USA Today

Taliban prisonersAre we sure we want to pull out of Afghanistan and leave everything in the capable hands of their security forces…? The Taliban was up to their old tricks again when they tricked prison officials in Afghanistan’s southern city of Kandahar into releasing 12 Taliban fighters. How did this trickery occur? The Taliban sent a fake letter to the prison requesting the release of 30 prisoners. Eighteen inmates on the list were supposed to be freed anyways, but the other 12 were not. The prison didn’t realize their mistake until the prisoners had already been released. Oops. Two have since been recaptured but the search for the others continues. BBC News

China Market Knife AttackIs China short on guns? Another stabbing rampage broke out in China on Friday morning when a dispute between food stall owners turned ugly. The fight between the two peddlers ended when one decided to hack the other to death and “in the process of fleeing,” fatally stabbed four pedestrians before police arrived on the scene to shoot him. The knifing comes just weeks after another stabbing incident left 29 people dead and 130 injured. Police are attributing that attack to separatist forces/terrorists from the predominantly Muslim Uighur region, who I hope had a better reason than a food stall dispute. The Guardian

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