Tag Archives: Ukraine

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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Ukraine’s Truce Collapses, Turns Into More Violence…. And Other News

Before and After Independence Square Ukraine Truce

So much for Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych’s “truce”…

Hours after the Ukrainian government announced a truce between police and anti-government protesters, Kiev broke out into a ball of violence. Since the truce announcement at least 20 protesters have died in gunfire that opened in Kiev’s Independence Square – in addition to one police officer. That makes almost 100 deaths since Tuesday – yikes. Meanwhile, the international community is not impressed. The European Union has agreed to impose sanctions on Ukrainian officials “responsible for violence and excessive force”. And in case asset freezes and visa bans don’t scare Ukraine into co-operating, maybe a stern message from President Obama will (but probably not). Appalled at the video of security forces firing automatic weapons at protesters, Obama called on Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych to immediately withdraw security forces from the streets of Kiev. So far, no response. BBC News

WhatsApp, Facebook?Facebook just bought an app worth 19 Instagrams. The social network paid $19 billion (19 times what they paid for Instagram two years ago) to acquire WhatsApp, the app you get someone you know switches to the iPhone while you’re still stuck with a disgruntled Blackberry. While not super popular in North America yet, the real-time instant messaging application has over 450 million monthly users – mainly in Brazil, South Africa, and Australia. “WhatsApp will complement our existing chat and messaging services to provide new tools for our community,” Zuckerberg wrote on his Facebook page. “Since WhatsApp and (Facebook) Messenger serve such different and important users, we will continue investing in both.” AKA Facebook is desperate to boost its popularity among the younger markets, who no longer think Facebook is cool. Reuters

Obama PicDear art history majors, you will be forever unemployed but at least you got an apology from the president. After making “off-the-cuff” remarks mocking art history degrees, President Obama sent a letter of apology to University of Texas at Austin Prof. Anne Collins Johns, who was offended by his statement. The remarks were made at a speech last month at a General Electric plant in Milwaukee. Obama told the crowd that “folks can make a lot more potentially with skilled manufacturing or the trades than they might with an art-history degree.” Then, realizing his possibly offensive statement, the president quickly added, “Now, nothing wrong with an art history degree – I love art history. So I don’t want to get a bunch of emails from everybody.” Apparently Prof. Anne Collins Johns didn’t catch that last part of the speech and wrote an angry message via the White House website. The president then sent a personal apology note to the university professor saying “Let me apologize. I was making a point about the jobs market, not the value of art history.” End of story, right? Wrong. Because Obama can’t do ANYTHING right in the Republicans’ eyes, Marco Rubio tweeted out this message: “Pathetic Obama apology to art history prof. We do need more degrees that lead to #jobs”. Telegraph

Hot Choc ExplosionHot chocolate explosion!! 30 students at Northside College Prep High School in Illinois were standing around making some sweet hot chocolate when suddenly there was a “a big explosion.” Turns out the gas from a single burner stove somehow ignited improperly, ruining the hot chocolate making experience that is essential to every high schooler’s education. “I was walking around to see what other groups were making,” said Mia Devura, 16. “I turn around and it’s this huge fire that’s up to the ceiling.” The students were evacuated and the ones with serious burns were sent to a nearby hospital. While there were no deaths, the students will never look at hot chocolate the same way again. Chicago Tribune

Pot MoneyLegalized pot (or legalized retard pills as Ann Coulter calls it) is a definite money-maker. Along with its residents, Coloardo and Washington state’s economies are getting high off of marijuana’s recent legalization. Colorado expects to take in more than $133 million from taxes on weed-related sales next fiscal year, well exceeding expectations of $70 million. But what will they spend their newfound wealth on? Colorado Governor John “Buzzkill” Hickenlooper is proposing a large chunk of the extra revenue be used for programs like preventing the underage consumption of marijuana and substance abuse treatment. Huh. Was he high when he came up with that idea? Time

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Current Event Cat of the Day: Viktor Yanukovych’s Sick Day

Current Event Cat - Sick Day Viktor Yanukovych

While his country teeters on the brink of civil war, Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych has decided to deal with it by calling in sick. When times get tough, stay in bed!

Yanukovych’s his deputy health chief says his sick leave is “in connection with an acute respiratory disease accompanied by high fever.” Well, I’ll need to see a thermometer before I can determine if he’s faking it to get out of school/civil unrest.

Some opposition figures are also calling bullsh*t on Yanukovych’s reported illness, arguing that he’s just trying to buy time and remove himself from the conflict.

“This smacks of a diplomatic illness,” Rostislav Pavlenko, a member of boxer-turned-politician Vitaly Klitschko‘s Udar (Punch) party said.

“It allows Yanukovych not to sign laws, not to meet the opposition, absent himself from decisions to solve the political crisis.”

The sick leave statement was issued in Ukrainian on the presidential website following weeks of violent anti-government protests in Kiev and a series of government concessions that appear to have gone nowhere.

Just a day before Yanukovych called in sick, he forced the Ukrainian parliament to pass a conditional amnesty for 100 imprisoned protesters, despite demands from the opposition that the amnesty be unconditional. And earlier in the week Yanukovych accepted the resignation of Prime Minister Mykola Azarov and his cabinet and annulled a recently enacted law restricting protests, hoping this would appease the protesters and end the unrest. Nope. They’re not happy yet – not until Yanukovych himself is out of power.

All out of ideas (short of stepping down), Yanukovych decided that the best way to deal with the crisis was to just stay in bed with a cup of hot cocoa and wait for everything to resolve itself.

Via: BBC News

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Ukrainian Protesters Make Progess: One Prime Minister Down, One President to Go

Ukraine President Yet to Resign

Perhaps Pope Francis’ doves of peace did help the situation in Ukraine?  Two new developments in Ukraine: Ukrainian Prime Minister Mykola Azarov has offered to resign in an effort to appease the protesters and President Viktor Yanukovich has agreed to repeal some of the anti-protest laws that have fueled the latest round of unrest.

The back-to-back moves were aimed at defusing Ukraine’s political crisis, but will the concessions be enough to quell the protesters who have been fighting non-stop with the police for the last 10 days? Meh. The protesters want more.

While the departure of the unpopular Mykola Azarov (who can’t even speak Ukranian) is welcomed, the opposition is holding off on naming his replacement, hoping for further concessions. Demonstrators are calling for amnesty for detained protestors, President Yanukovich’s resignation, and new elections (not corrupt ones…) In fact, the latest government concessions may only be encouraging the protesters.

“The authorities are afraid and making concessions. We should use this moment and continue our fight to achieve a change of power in Ukraine,” said 23-year-old demonstrator Oleg Rudakov.

Yeah, I’m pretty sure they won’t be satisfied until President Yanukovich is dead or out of power. Whichever one comes first.

Via: CBC News

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The Pope’s Peace Doves Attacked By Angry Birds

Doves

Pope Francis’ doves of peace became doves in pieces after a seagull and a large black crow swept down and attacked after the doves were set free from an open window.

Tens of thousands of people gathered in St. Peter’s Square on Sunday to watch the Pope’s weekly Sunday Angelus prayer. Following Pope Francis’ appeal for peace in Ukraine, two children helped the Pontiff release two white doves as a symbolic gesture of peace.

Peace doves gone wrongBut as the doves were released from the open window of the Apostolic Palace, a seagull and a large black crow went in for the kill. The seagull attacked first, pinning the larger dove against the wall of the palace. Although the dove lost some feathers it eventually managed to break free and fly to freedom. The crow set its sights on the smaller dove and began pecking at it repeatedly until it too managed to fly off into the distance.

Huh. This doesn’t look great for peace in Ukraine… Right before the doves were released Pope Francis said a prayer for Ukraine, where at least four people have been killed during the latest clashes between anti-government protesters and the police.  The mass demonstrations began in November after Ukraine opted not to sign a treaty with the EU and instead strengthen ties with Russia.

“I am close to Ukraine in prayer, in particular to those who have lost their lives in recent days and to their families,” Francis told the crowd in St Peter’s Square.

“I hope that a constructive dialogue between the institutions and civil society can take place, that any resort to violence is avoided and that the spirit of peace and a search for the common good is in the hearts of all.”

Meanwhile, the protests in Ukraine have been spreading beyond Kiev after opposition leader Arseniy Yatsenyuk rejected President Viktor Yanukovych‘s offer to appoint him prime minister. The protesters want more! The opposition is demanding early elections, a free trade agreement with the EU, the release of prisoners, and a repeal of the recently introduced public protest ban (which I don’t think is working btw…) But the government says their efforts to peacefully negotiate and resolve unrest in the capital are “futile” and blame the negotiation failure on the radical arm of the opposition.

So maybe the peace dove attack was a sign from God that things in the Ukraine are going to get worse before they get better? I mean, if a burnt grilled cheese sandwich slightly resembling Jesus is a sign from God, surely this is too.

Via: CBC News & BBC News

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Ukrainian Government Sends Sinister Text Messages to Protesters… And Other News

Ukraine Text

According to Russia’s Foreign Minister, the protests in Ukraine are “getting out of control” after the second consecutive night of clashes ended with firecrackers and petrol bombs flying through the air. But luckily the Ukrainian government has a foolproof plan to stop the violent clashes between anti-government protesters and police: annoying text messages.

The government is using cellphone data to track down protesters NSA style. If someone gets too close to the riots they will receive a text saying “Dear subscriber, you are registered as a participant in a mass disturbance.” Now a text message may not seem like a major deterrent – a little annoying, yes, but hardly enough to stop a hardcore pro-Eu anti-Russian protester – BUT there’s more. The Ukrainian government has passed a series of new anti-protest laws in the past week, one of which calls for jail sentences of up to 15 years for participating in mass riots. So basically the text message should read” “Go directly to jail, do not pass go, do NOT collect $200. The Guardian

Ban Ki PsychYou’re invited – psych! Under pressure from the United States, Saudi Arabia, and everybody else who hates Iran, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon withdrew his last minute invitation for Iran to participate in the Syria peace conference. The surprise invite threw the long-awaited Geneva conference into disarray; the US started a tantrum because Iran didn’t agree to the conditions for the talks and therefore must be excluded and the Syrian opposition refused to take part if Iran was going to be there. But everything is OK now because Ban realized his international faux-pas and retracted the invite. The US and Saudi Arabia are very pleased and the main Western-backed Syrian opposition group agreed to show up. Now if they could only sort out the whole civil war thing. CBC News

Rob Ford Drunk and JamaicanSo much for Rob Ford’s New Mayor’s resolution… A new video shows Toronto Mayor Rob Ford slurring his words and rambling in what appears to be a Jamaican accent at a Rexdale fast-food restaurant on a MONDAY night. Despite telling reporters just last week that he no longer drank, Ford admitted to drinking on Monday night but insisted it was fine because he wasn’t at work. “I was with some friends and what I do in my personal life and (with) my personal friends, that’s up to me. This really has nothing to do with, has nothing to do with you guys,” he said. “It’s my own time. It’s my own time.” As for the strange Jamaican accent, Ford says “that’s how I speak with some of my friends.” By friends do you mean fellow crackheads? The Toronto Star

Gaga ChinaChina is slowly getting more progressive, one Lady Gaga album at a time. Lady Gaga went from blacklist to playlist after China lifted its ban on the singer. In 2011 the Culture Ministry declared her work (along with Katy Perry’s “Last Friday Night” and the Backstreet Boys’ “I Want It That Way” ) to be “creating confusion in the order of the online music market, and damaging the nation’s cultural security” – whatever that means. But for some reason (they finally realized the Chinese just knock-off everything anyways?) Beijing is allowing Lady Gaga’s latest chart-topping album, ARTPOP, to go on sale legally in China – with a few small changes of course. Chinese officials changed one song title, transforming “Sexxx Dreams” to “X Dreams” and a large ball and a pair of tights have been imposed on the album’s cover to hide Lady Gaga’s naked body. CNN

Samba PanzaSomeone’s being setup for failure… Catherine Samba-Panza, 58, has been chosen by the National Assembly to be the interim president of the Central African Republic – the first woman to ever lead the country. Samba-Panza, who beat out seven other candidates, including the sons of two former presidents, succeeds Michel Djotodia, the recently resigned leader of the Seleka rebels who seized power in March. And what kind of country is she inheriting? Well, there’s been months of sectarian violence, dead corpses dragged through the street and at least one case of cannibalism. Have fun! Huffington Post

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Russia Dangles a $15 Billion Carrot in Front of the Ukraine

ukraine Yanukovich $15 billion

Amid growing tensions surrounding Ukraine’s rejection of a popular EU deal, Russia has decided to sweeten the pot by dangling a $15 billion carrot in front of President Viktor Yanukovich’s face.

To entice the Ukraine into rejecting the calls of the protesters and signing a deal with Russia instead, Russian President Vladimir Putin made Yanukovich an offer he couldn’t refuse: $15 billion in loans and a hefty discount on natural gas prices. The offer was seen as giving the cash-strapped country an economic lifeline and apparently it worked; Yanukovich signed the Russian aid agreement in defiance of the mass protests in the capital, which called for closer ties to the EU and loosened ties to Russia.

Prime Minister Mykola Azarov has told ministers in Kiev that the package from Russia would provide stability and prevent the bankruptcy of the country.

“Today I can firmly announce that the crisis moment has passed,” the prime minister, Mykola Azarov said. “We have a new and firm perspective of confidence. We will maintain social and financial stability. Now, nothing threatens the financial and economic stability of Ukraine.”

Well, the hundreds of thousands of protesters calling for Yanukovich’s resignation and closer ties with the EU might threaten some stability, but whatever – the Ukraine got $15 billion! But in exchange for what?

Ukraine’s opposition has demanded to know what Ukraine offered Russia in return. Putin insisted that the financial assistance was not “tied to any conditions”, not even the condition that Ukraine must join a Moscow-led customs union with Belarus and Kazakhstan. Although with a $15 billion gift, they’ll pretty much have to…

Via: The New York Times

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Current Event Cat of the Day: Ukrainian Protests

Ukrainian Protests

The Ukrainian protests continue into their fourth week with roughly 200,000 people rallying in the Ukrainian capital Kiev to protest against President Viktor Yanukovych’s refusal to sign a landmark EU deal.

Yanukovich’s decision to abandon the EU deal last month in favor of closer ties with Russia sparked weeks of mass protests in Kiev. Ukraine SituationAfter months of negotiations, Ukraine was set to sign the the association agreement with the EU, but one stern look from Putin and Yanukovich backed off – which can be nicely summed up in this gif ———->

Many Ukrainians, along with the opposition parties, are outraged at the government’s decision to strengthen ties with Russia over the European Union – hence the growing protests. Last week a large group of demonstrators at Independence Square were stormed by police, prompting Secretary of State John Kerry to step in and condemn the Ukraine for the violent crackdown. Saying the U.S. “expresses its disgust with the decision of Ukrainian authorities to meet the peaceful protest in Kyiv’s Maidan Square with riot police, bulldozers, and batons,” Kerry assured the Ukrainian people that the United States was with them.

The riot police then retreated and Interior Minister Vitali Zakharchenko insisted in a statement Wednesday that no force will be used… for now.

U.S. Senator John McCain also decided to jump on the Ukranian bandwagon on Sunday, joining the housands of protesters in Kiev, telling them “People of Ukraine, this is your moment. This is about you, no one else. This is about the future you want for your country.”

Despite McCain’s passion, the European Union put a hold on trade agreement discussions with the Ukraine until there is a “clear commitment” to sign. So the ball is now in President Viktor Yanukovych’s court: Sign the deal, resign in shame, or cave to the heavy pressure from Putin and join a Russian-led customs union instead.

Via: BBC News

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