Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Akbarzhon Dzhalilov - Google Search Tuesday April 4th, 2017 at 12:48 PM

Akbarzhon Dzhalilov - Google Search

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St. Petersburg subway bomber identified as Kyrgyz-born man

WBOC TV 16-7 hours ago
... for National Security said in a statement that one suspect behind the bombing is a Kyrgyz-born Russian national it identified as Akbarzhon Dzhalilov.
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Authorities name suspect from Kyrgyzstan in St. Petersburg metro bombing

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ST. PETERSBURG — A 22-year-old man who held Russian citizenship but came from the restive Central Asian republic of Kyrgyzstan was identified Tuesday as the bomber who set off a deadly blast that ripped through a St. Petersburg metro car.
The confirmation by Russian authorities followed reports from the state security service of Kyrgyzstan that identified Akbarzhon Dzhalilov as the suspect in Monday’s blast, which killed at least 14 people and left dozens injured in Russia’s second-largest city.
In previous reports, Russia’s powerful Investigative Committee had called the attack a suicide bombing and said it had identified Dzhalilov by analysis of genetic material found at the attack site. The agency did not say whether Dzhalilov had died in the bombing, however.
Officials in Kyrgyzstan said Dzhalilov came from the city of Osh, which has been the scene of bloody ethnic conflicts and the growth of Islamist militant movements since the Soviet Union began disintegrating three decades ago.
Russia’s Investigative Committee, which holds sweeping law enforcement powers, said Dzhalilov was identified from genetic material found at the site of the attack and on a second bomb that was defused by law enforcement. Dzhalilov was also seen on security cameras in the metro, investigators said.
(The Washington Post)
At least 14 people were killed and dozens injured when an explosion ripped through a St. Petersburg subway car. What we know about the bombing in a Russian subway (The Washington Post)
According to both Kyrgyz and Russian media reports, Dzhalilov left Kyrgyzstan for St. Petersburg with his family in 2011, a year after fighting broke out between ethnic Uzbeks and ethnic Kyrgyz in the city where Dzhalilov’s father, who held Russian citizenship, worked at an auto body shop. Dzhalilov worked as a sushi chef in St. Petersburg and occasionally took martial arts courses at a local gym, Russian media reported.
Russian media reported that a page on a Russian social network was purportedly linked to Dzhalilov, but it was not clear whether he and the man who posted on the page, and who has a similar name and age, were the same person. Russian law enforcement did not release a photo of the suspect, and the Russian news agency Rosbalt said it had contacted the owner of the page, who denied he was the suicide bomber.
No group has claimed responsibility for the attack — which took place while Russian President Vladi­mir Putin was in St. Petersburg for talks with the leader of Belarus.
“Undoubtedly, the fact that the terrorist attack was committed while the head of state was in the city forces one to reflect,” Peskov told reporters.
In St. Petersburg, friends and loved ones of the victims gathered at city morgues on Tuesday, the first of three days of mourning. At Sennaya Ploshchad, a major subway interchange in downtown St. Petersburg, commuters walked by a mound of red roses and extinguished tea lights. 
Police reported that the station itself, as well as nearby Dostoyevskaya station, were closed because of a new bomb threat.
Shortly after Monday’s attack, another explosive device was found at a nearby subway spot and disarmed.
The blast took place in one of St. Petersburg’s most celebrated, and tourist-visited, neighborhoods. The area around the Sennaya Ploshchad station was the setting of Fyodor Dostoevsky’s novel “Crime and Punishment.” 
The explosion was the worst suspected terrorist attack in memory in Russia’s second-largest city, and the first attack on a subway in Russia in seven years.
The mood in the shaken city veered between grief, anger and confusion.
A ceremony for one victim, Dilbara Aliyeva, 21, was delayed when investigators from Moscow arrived to perform an autopsy on the body before it was to be sent back to her native Azerbaijan. Nearly 100 relatives, friends and classmates, some carrying her portrait, had gathered at the central Mariinsky hospital morgue before learning of the delay.
A teacher, Irina Berezovskaya, held back tears as she described Aliyeva as a quiet psychology student who was close to her family and loved to cook traditional Azeri dishes.
“She was always bright. She was fascinated by what motivated people and was so good at figuring them out. She was writing her dissertation on motivation and sport; her brother is a professional soccer player,” said Berezovskaya, who wore a black scarf over her hair. “It was her brother who finally told my students, ‘We lost Dilbara.’ I looked on the list of those who died and saw someone born in 1996. I had seen her just hours earlier.”
Some government opponents expressed concern Monday that the Kremlin might use the attack as an excuse to curtail a nascent opposition movement that brought tens of thousands of people into the streets eight days earlier to protest official corruption. 
In fact, Putin reminded Russians last week that what started as street protests calling for reforms in Ukraine and the Arab Spring countries degenerated into violence and bloodshed.
Shortly after news of the explosion broke, Putin, who was in his home town for a meeting with Belarusan President Alexander Lukashenko, expressed condolences to the victims’ families in televised remarks. Later on Monday, Putin placed a bouquet of roses at the subway station where the train came to a halt after the blast.
Russian authorities credit the driver, who kept the train moving until it reached the Tekhnologichesky Institut station, with saving the lives of passengers who otherwise might have been trapped. 
Islamist militants from the North Caucasus have been blamed in more than a dozen major terrorist attacks in Russia since the country fought two civil wars in Chechnya. Russia still faces a simmering insurgency in neighboring Dagestan province. In March, six Russian soldiers and six militants were killed in a shootout in Chechnya. 
But the ­post-Soviet republics of Central Asia have also been a source of Islamist fighters. Osh, the home town of the suspect, Dzhalilov, was the site of bloody fighting between ethnic Kyrgyz and Uzbeks in 2010. The city is located in the Ferghana Valley, an area shared by three former Soviet republics that is known as a breeding ground for extremism in Central Asia. The security agency said it was checking when Dzhalilov left Kyrgyzstan. 
Moscow’s military involvement in Syria, which included heavy aerial bombardments of areas controlled by forces rebelling against that country’s president, Bashar al-Assad, has also made Russia a target of the Islamic State extremist group. Russian officials have concluded that a terrorist attack was to blame for an October 2015 midair explosion aboard a Russian jetliner over Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula that killed all 224 passengers and crew .
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In Washington on Monday, President Trump called the St. Petersburg incident a “terrible thing.” Trump “offered the full support of the United States Government in responding to the attack and bringing those responsible to justice,” the White House said in a statement. “Both President Trump and President Putin agreed that terrorism must be decisively and quickly defeated.”
In Moscow on Tuesday, riot police with bomb-sniffing dogs patrolled outside Kievskaya Metro station, the interchange for three subway lines. Police and security guards stepped up their vigilance at the metal detectors at the entrances to the subway, hotels and shopping malls.
Filipov reported from Moscow. David Nakamura in Washington contributed to this report.
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Former Trump adviser at center of...

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Former Trump adviser at center of Russia firestorm alleges in bizarre statement that Justice Department targeted him

Business Insider - ‎30 minutes ago‎
carter page In this Friday, July 8, 2016, file photo, Carter Page, then adviser to U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, speaks at the graduation ceremony for the New Economic School in Moscow, Russia. Associated Press/Pavel Golovkin.

Trump's ex-adviser Carter Page insists giving documents to a Russian spy was no big deal

VICE News - ‎2 hours ago‎
Carter Page, a onetime foreign policy adviser to Donald Trump's campaign, confirmed Monday that he met with and passed documents to a Russian agent in 2013, according to BuzzFeed News. Page did not say why he'd provided the man the documents, but ...

Congress Faces a Ticking Clock as Recess Looms

<a href="http://NBCNews.com" rel="nofollow">NBCNews.com</a> - ‎2 hours ago‎
As House Freedom Caucus members try to resuscitate last month's failed health-care effort, here's an important reminder: Per NBC's Alex Moe, Congress goes on recess starting Friday, and it doesn't return until April 25 — three days before government ...

Russian Spies Tried To Recruit Trump Campaign Adviser In 2013

Daily Caller - ‎1 hour ago‎
A Russian spy ring operating in New York City attempted to recruit an adviser to the Donald Trump campaign back in 2013. On Monday, BuzzFeed reported that the attempt, which was unsuccessful, was made at Carter Page, an energy investment consultant ...

Carter Page: 'I Didn't Want To Be A Spy'

TPM - ‎1 hour ago‎
A one-time foreign policy adviser to Donald Trump's presidential campaign denied Monday afternoon that he had ever sought to become a Russian spy. "I didn't want to be a spy," Carter Page told ABC News. "I'm not a spy." Page, whom the Trump ...
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First Read's Morning Clips: More...

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First Read's Morning Clips: More Russia News

<a href="http://NBCNews.com" rel="nofollow">NBCNews.com</a> - ‎2 hours ago‎
The big news from late yesterday: "Blackwater founder Erik Prince represented Donald Trump at a secret overseas meeting convened by the United Arab Emirates in early January, two intelligence sources familiar with the matter told NBC News. The meeting ...

Blackwater founder held secret meeting to establish Trump-Putin back channel

<a href="http://Philly.com" rel="nofollow">Philly.com</a> - ‎2 hours ago‎
WASHINGTON — The United Arab Emirates arranged a secret meeting in January between Blackwater founder Erik Prince and a Russian close to President Vladimir Putin as part of an apparent effort to establish a back-channel line of communication ...

SitRep: Blackwater Founder And Trump-Putin Go Between; Chemical Attack in Syria; US Bombards AQAP in Yemen

Foreign Policy (blog) - ‎3 hours ago‎
Why not? In yet another strange twist involving the Trump administration and its surrogates, reports have emerged that the United Arab Emirates set up a “secret meeting” just days before Trump took the oath of office in January between Blackwater ...

Secret meeting sought a Trump-Putin back channel, report says

Newsday - ‎3 hours ago‎
Erik Prince, founder of Blackwater Worldwide, held a secret meeting to establish a Trump-Putin back channel, The Washington Post reported. Photo Credit: Bloomberg / Andrew Harrer. advertisement | advertise on newsday ...

Trump supporter met with Kremlin envoy to set up back channel: Intelligence sources

<a href="http://UPI.com" rel="nofollow">UPI.com</a> - ‎3 hours ago‎
Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during a news conference at the Kremlin in Moscow on March 28. Monday, The Washington Post and NBC News reported that GOP supporter Erik Prince met with an envoy of Putin's in the Seychelles Islands in ...

WashPost: Blackwater Founder Met with Russian in Secret Back-Channel Effort

Democracy Now! - ‎28 minutes ago‎
The Washington Post is reporting that Blackwater founder Erik Prince secretly met with a Russian close to Russian President Vladimir Putin in efforts to establish a secret back channel between Trump and Putin in the days before Trump's inauguration.
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Igor Sechin - Google Search

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Story image for Igor Sechin from The Independent Barents Observer

Rosneft spuds northernmost Arctic well

The Independent Barents Observer-22 hours ago
«Lets start drilling», President Putin commands company leader Igor Sechin in a direct televised transmission between the Kremlin and the ...
Russian oil firm Rosneft to start Barents Sea drilling in 2018
Hellenic Shipping News Worldwide-17 hours ago
Rosneft Starts Drilling In East Arctic
<a href="http://OilPrice.com" rel="nofollow">OilPrice.com</a>-21 hours ago
Story image for Igor Sechin from Forbes

Rosneft started the drilling of the northernmost well at the Russian ...

<a href="http://polymerupdate.com" rel="nofollow">polymerupdate.com</a>-1 hour ago
President of Russia Vladimir Putin launched exploration drilling via video link up with Rosneft Chief Executive Officer Igor Sechin who was on ...
Story image for Igor Sechin from The Fiscal Times
The Fiscal Times

Russia's Rosneft hopes Iran rulings can help it beat EU sanctions

Channel NewsAsia-5 hours ago
Chief Executive Igor Sechin, a close ally of Russian President Vla
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succession to Putin - Google Search

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Story image for succession to Putin from Daily Times
Daily Times

New Dædalus Issue on "Russia Beyond Putin"

IT Business Net-33 minutes ago
The Spring 2017 issue of Dædalus on "Russia Beyond Putin," guest edited by ... The Question of Succession," Fiona Hill (Brookings Institution) ...

Putin's patrimony

Prospect-Mar 29, 2017
Watch out for the coming Putin succession crisis. by Robert Skidelsky / March 22, ... These two features together have created Putin's system.
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Page 4

FBI scrutinized by Congress over probe into alleged Russia-Trump link

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Two leading House and Senate committees are examining the FBI’s handling of its investigation into Russia’s possible links to Trump campaign associates and the country’s alleged interference with the 2016 presidential election.
The Senate Judiciary Committee, headed by Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, is investigating whether the FBI wrongly included political opposition research from Trump’s opponents in its probe, and then paid the author of that controversial report, a former British spy, to work for the FBI on its investigation. The committee’s probe began March 6 with the letter Grassley sent the FBI and was furthered Monday with requests for information from the company that did the opposition research.
“When political opposition research becomes the basis for law enforcement or intelligence efforts, it raises substantial questions about the independence of law enforcement and intelligence from politics,” Grassley said Monday.
The House Intelligence Committee, headed by Rep. Devin Nunes, R- Calif., is looking into how classified documents containing foreign surveillance transcripts with references to Trump’s transition team were illegally disclosed to the media. The committee’s probe began Jan. 25.
The leaks could have come from the FBI, a source close to the investigation notes, because that agency requested multiple Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrants that helped capture some of the foreign surveillance. In addition, sources say, the FBI is not cooperating with the House investigation, unlike the National Security Agency, which has been transparent with the committee. In addition, multiple sources suggest that British intelligence also passed along information to U.S. intelligence agencies.
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Sen. Charles Grassley answers questions during the 2009 Reuters Washington Summit in Washington Oct. 19, 2009. (REUTERS )
Meanwhile, the FBI will take full control over the law enforcement investigation into Russia’s interference in the election, Trump’s possible ties to Russia, as well as the leaks, Fox News has learned.
In Grassley’s probe, he is calling into question the FBI’s use of a “controversial and unsubstantiated dossier” compiled by a political opposition research company against then-presidential candidate Trump. 
Fusion GPS, a Washington, D.C.-based research and strategic intelligence company, was paid during the campaign by backers of Trump’s Republican and Democrat opponents to perform opposition research, Grassley said. And that company hired former British spy Christopher Steele to write the dossier that was distributed widely to political opponents, the media and the FBI.
The unverified reported was published by the online publication BuzzFeed and included embarrassing allegations that Russian intelligence supposedly could use against Trump.
Most concerning, Grassley said, is that “Fusion GPS and Steele reportedly shared the dossier with the FBI, which then offered to pay Steele to continue his political opposition research on Trump.”
Grassley wants to determine “the extent to which the FBI has relied on the political dossier in its investigation.” The senator also has requested documentation from Fusion GPS as to who hired and paid them, when Steele was hired, how the FBI got involved and whether Fusion GPS was aware of the FBI paying Steele.  
Meanwhile, House Intelligence Chairman Nunes said last Wednesday that a source in the intelligence community presented him with “dozens” of reports that were produced from “incidentally collected” communications between members of the Trump transition team and foreign targets. Nunes met with his intelligence source at a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF) in the old executive office building on the White House grounds where they could access the computers without being noticed. They couldn’t go to the source’s agency and use the secured computer network, a source told Fox News, because it would “out” the source.
Nunes said Trump staff members’ identities reportedly were “unmasked” within intelligence agencies through foreign surveillance unrelated to Trump or Russia, and the names were illegally disseminated among intelligence agencies and to the media in what many believe was an effort to embarrass Trump and undermine his presidency.
At least one of those unmasked was former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, who had information about his communication with the Russian ambassador leaked to press, resulting in a public scandal and his resignation.
Nunes’ committee, like the FBI, has been looking into what actions Russia took against the U.S. during the 2016 election, whether anyone from a political campaign conspired in the activities; whether the communications of officials or associates of any campaign were subject to any kind of improper surveillance; and which intelligence officials leaked classified information that exposed foreign surveillance, conversations between President Trump and other world leaders.
While Nunes refutes Trump’s claims that Obama had him wiretapped during the campaign, Nunes said “…. it's still possible that other surveillance activities were used against President's Trump and his associates.”
An FBI spokesperson said the agency does not have a comment on Grassley’s letter or any additional comments on the House probe.
Malia Zimmerman is an award-winning investigative reporter focusing on crime, homeland security, illegal immigration crime, terrorism and political corruption. Follow her on twitter at @MaliaMZimmerman
Adam Housley joined Fox News Channel (FNC) in 2001 and currently serves as a Los Angeles-based senior correspondent.
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New York attorney general: Tillerson...

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New York attorney general: Tillerson used 'Wayne Tracker' email at Exxon to discuss climate

CNNMoney - ‎Mar 14, 2017‎
The New York attorney general has accused Secretary of State Rex Tillerson of using the pseudonym "Wayne Tracker" to send emails related to climate change while serving as CEO of Exxon Mobil. The office of Eric Schneiderman revealed the unorthodox ...

Rex Tillerson Used an Email Alias at Exxon to Discuss Climate Change, Says New York AG

TIME - ‎Mar 13, 2017‎
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, the former chairman and chief executive of Exxon Mobil Corp, used an alias email address while at the oil company to send and receive information related to climate change and other matters, according to New York ...

Rex Tillerson used an alias e-mail at Exxon Mobil: WSJ

CNBC - ‎Mar 13, 2017‎
Tillerson used a pseudonym — Wayne Tracker — from 2008 to 2015, but Exxon failed to disclose that detail, the Journal reported late on Monday, citing New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman's office. Schneiderman is investigating whether the ...

Rex Tillerson 'used email alias' at Exxon to talk climate change

BBC News - ‎Mar 14, 2017‎
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, the former head of Exxon Mobil, used an alias email address while at the oil company to discuss information related to climate change, the New York attorney general says. Eric Schneiderman says Mr Tillerson used an ...
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US Supreme Court denies certiorari on...

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US Supreme Court denies certiorari on Russian national Viktor Bout's case

TASS - ‎2 hours ago‎
The U.S. Supreme Court denied certiorari on several dozens of cases, including Bout's. The Court's press service told TASS no additional comments on any of those cases will follow. Viktor Bout's legal team filed an appeal with the Supreme Court in late ...

US Supreme Court denied to consider case of Victor Bout

<a href="https://en.crimerussia.com/" rel="nofollow">https://en.crimerussia.com/</a> - ‎5 hours ago‎
As the CrimeRussia wrote earlier, on March 25, Moscow sent arguments to the US Supreme Court in support of the petition for cancellation of the verdict against Victor Bout. The lawyer of the Russian Alexey Tarasov explained that such a form 'increases ...

US Supreme Court Denies Considering Case of Russian National Bout

Sputnik International - ‎7 hours ago‎
The US Supreme Court will not review the case of Russian businessman Viktor Bout, sentenced to 25 years in prison. WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — The US Supreme Court decided on Monday not to review the case of Russian businessman Viktor Bou

TASS: World - US Supreme Court denies certiorari on Russian national Viktor Bout’s case

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WASHINGTON, April 4. /TASS/. The United States Supreme Court on Monday rejected to grant certiorari on the case of Russian national Viktor Bout, who is serving a 25-year prison term in the United States on arms smuggling charges.
No reasons were provided.
The U.S. Supreme Court denied certiorari on several dozens of cases, including Bout’s. The Court’s press service told TASS no additional comments on any of those cases will follow.
Viktor Bout’s legal team filed an appeal with the Supreme Court in late February. The document particularly says that the appeals court and the District Court for the Southern District of New York applied wrong legal criteria to assess the facts pointing to the prosecutor’s office keeping exculpatory evidence from the defense attorney. According to Tarasov, the evidence was enough for acquitting Bout.
Bout was detained in the Thai capital of Bangkok in 2008 on the basis of an arrest warrant issued by a local court at the United States’ request. He was charged with conspiracy to deliver weapons to a group calling itself the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, regarded as a terrorist organization in the United States. In 2010, Bout was extradited to the United States. In April 2012, he was sentenced to 25 years in prison and a fine of 15 million U.S. dollars.
Bout is serving the term in Marion prison, Chicago, Illinois, 500 kilometers south of Chicago.

Carter Page - Google Search

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Story image for Carter Page from Chicago Tribune

Trump campaign adviser Carter Page met with Russian spy in 2013

Chicago Tribune-29 minutes ago
According to the court documents, Podobnyy tried to recruit Carter Page, an energy consultant working in New York at the time, as an ...
A Former Trump Adviser Met With A Russian Spy
Highly Cited-BuzzFeed News-2 hours ago
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Explosive Device Detonates In St....

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Explosive Device Detonates In St. Petersburg, Russia Metro Train

NPR - ‎2 hours ago‎
Updated at 12:10 p.m. ET. An explosive device ignited in a metro car in St. Petersburg, Russia, Monday afternoon, according to Russian officials. Ten people were killed in the blast, Health Minister Veronika Skvortsova said. St. Petersburg Gov.

11 killed in St. Petersburg subway blast; a second bomb is disarmed

Washington Post - ‎1 hour ago‎
ST. PETERSBURG, Russia — A large explosion blew a hole in the side of train as it traveled between two central St. Petersburg metro stations Monday, killing at least 11 people and sending panicked commuters diving for cover in what Russian authorities ...

Blast in St. Petersburg metro station kills 10: authorities

Reuters - ‎2 hours ago‎
Russian news media said police were searching for a man recorded on surveillance cameras who was thought to have been involved in the attack, which coincided with a visit to the city by President Vladimir Putin. Private television station Ren TV ...

Explosion In St. Petersburg Metro System Kills At Least 9 People

Huffington Post - ‎6 hours ago‎
A picture shows the damaged train carriage at Technological Institute metro station in Saint Petersburg on April 3, 2017. ST. PETERSBURG, Russia, April 3 (Reuters) - At least nine people were killed and 20 were injured when an explosion tore through a ...

St. Petersburg Metro Explosion Kills 10 as Putin Visits City

New York Times - ‎5 hours ago‎
A wounded person received medical attention outside the Sennaya Square subway station after the explosion in St. Petersburg, Russia, on Monday. Credit Anton Vaganov/Reuters. MOSCOW — A bomb tore through a subway train in St. Petersburg on ...
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Page 5

Russia's Troubling Connection With The Czech Republic

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Recently it was discovered that President Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, met with Russian banking officials during the transition period. Kushner is expected to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee, where representatives will be free to ask him about the previously undisclosed meeting.
Many Americans are still concerned if there are ties between President Putin’s government and President Trump’s administration. General Michael Flynn’s resignation brought further light into Russia’s attempt to interfere with America’s government and democracy.
Only now are Americans awaking to the full extent of President Putin’s comprehensive activities aimed at gaining influence abroad. However, Putin’s meddling is a recurring trend in many countries. We only have to look into the recent past to see Putin’s involvement in Ukraine, Syria and Georgia.
However, there is a much more obvious connection between the Czech Republic and Russia. The relationship between the two countries could prove to be toxic to European and American values. The NATO and EU member’s president, Milos Zeman, has expressed pro-Putin and anti-European feelings over the last few years.
According to The New York Times, Zeman has supported Putin’s intervention in Syria and called for an end to sanctions against Russia. He also called for a referendum to exit NATO.
Ties between Zeman and Putin deepen when looking at Zeman’s Russian associations. According to the Euromaidan Press, there appears to be a connection between the Czech President and President Putin’s close associate, Vladimir Yakunin. Yakunin is the former Director of OJSC Russian Railways, and is on the USG sanction list. He is also a senior officer in the Russian Federal Security Service, or FSB, which succeeded the KGB after the fall of the Soviet Union.
At the Dialogue of Civilizations, otherwise known as the Rhodes Forum, the President of the Czech Republic was the only European leader to attend. According to Euromaidan Press, the organizers of the event paid for Zeman’s travel expenses to the event, where the Czech leader expressed anti-western and pro-Putin sympathies.
According to the New York Times, Zeman and Yakunin have had ties going back many years. There has also been evidence of Russian oil money being tied to Zeman. Many Czech officials are fearful that the Russian Federation is attempting to build up its influence similar to that of the Soviet Union.
A pro-Putin European leader should be troubling to most Americans and Europeans, as the Czech Republic is a member of NATO and the EU, and has a voice in these alliances. President Zeman has offered to host a meeting between the presidents of the United States, Russia and China.
However, Zeman’s influence in Europe is small. He does not influence European or NATO politics like England or Germany. His actions and rhetoric leave him in low regard among his fellow Europeans. Many other Czech politicians fear that the Kremlin is buying his influence, and is using him as a tool to influence their country’s politics. According to the New York Times, several Czech politicians feel that Putin is influencing their country through Zeman as the Kremlin did back in the days of the Soviet Union. Many fear that Putin is using Zeman to undermine western influence in Eastern Europe.
President Zeman has told The Washington Post and several European media that he is going to meet with President Trump in April of 2017. Zeman’s anti-NATO rhetoric and close ties to Yakunin and Putin beg the question whether this meeting is with a friendly European nation or a tool of Putin’s government.
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trains derail at Penn station - Google Search

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Story image for trains derail at Penn station from New York Post

Another train derailment makes commuting at Penn Station hell

New York Post-5 hours ago
train derailed at Penn Station on Monday morning, snarling the rush-hour commute in the second such incident in less than two weeks, ...
Train derailment at New York's Penn Station disrupts NJ Transit ...
<a href="http://6abc.com" rel="nofollow">6abc.com</a>-3 hours ago
Five injured in NJ Transit train derailment at Penn Station: FDNY
Local Source-New York Daily News-2 hours ago
Minor NJ Transit derailment halts trains into New York Penn Station
Local Source-<a href="http://NJ.com" rel="nofollow">NJ.com</a>-5 hours ago
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Another train derails at New York's Penn Station, one injured

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Senate better-equipped to probe Russia - Opinion

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Forget about the House Intelligence Committee when it comes to investigating whether Russia stuck its snout into our election. The panel, as led by its Republican chairman, Devin Nunes, of California, with the support of GOP leadership, has lost any credibility now and in the future.
Nunes has capitulated to President Donald Trump, in whose pre-election camp he was an early riser, and seems to have no intention of letting the Russian connection bring down his hero’s presidency. Meanwhile, Speaker Paul Ryan and others of the House Republican hierarchy have already poured enough whitewash on the committee to satisfy Tom Sawyer’s Aunt Polly for the rest of her life.
In 50-some years of watching the political passing parade in this town, I have never seen a more brazenly dishonest performance by a committee chairman. Even if he decides ultimately to recuse himself from leading the inquiry that now may or may not happen, the damage has been done, with the smell of dishonesty indelibly imprinted on the public nostrils.
What an unbelievable performance. Only a sap would swallow Nunes’ cloak-and-dagger research, which is obviously aimed at helping the Donald show Barack Obama wiretapped his telephones — an allegation not supported by evidence, denied by everyone, and clearly designed to both back up the new president and obscure the Russian investigation. The congressman claims he had a secret nighttime meeting on the White House grounds with a source who said there was incidental surveillance of Trump by an official agency eavesdropping on someone else.
Was the meeting with one of the uniform Secret Service guards who prowl the grounds? Was it a bunny getting ready for the Easter egg roll? Or has that too been canceled like so many other traditions? Maybe it was some guy with kind of orange, goofy hair.
What we do now know is that three well-placed White House aides compiled the material Nunes was presented.
The House, except for impeachment, never has been good in delving into possible scandals of this size. Members who face election every two years are too vulnerable to partisan influence. The Senate is a far better venue for getting at the truth and putting pressure on those who will. The leaders of the bipartisan Senate Intelligence Committee — Republican and Democrat — have pledged to put differences aside to work together on the disturbing allegations of foreign influence in our electoral process. That’s nice to hear, since things haven’t always worked that way in the Senate. (Democratic leaders notoriously successfully pulled every string possible in saving then-Vice President Lyndon Johnson in the notorious Bobby Baker case in the 1960s.) The six-year length of a Senate term provides a better cushion from partisan discipline and the ability to take a longer look at the evidence.
The model for modern bipartisan Senate investigations of this magnitude was the Watergate Committee with Democratic Chairman Sam Ervin, of North Carolina, and Republican Vice Chairman Howard Baker, of Tennessee, sharing responsibilities equitably. Although the target, President Richard Nixon, was of his party, the most famous line came from Baker, who set the tone by stating that it was the committee’s responsibility to determine, “What did the president know and when did he know it?” Nixon’s ultimate resignation turned on that point.
The main complication of the Russian investigation, of course, is that it is considerably far more serious in its implications than anything yet seen. Even Nixon’s fall dealt with less threatening circumstances. That was a domestic challenge to the sanctity of the electoral process. These allegations, if true, would forever raise concerns about the security of our elections from disruption by a foreign power. To be a bit melodramatic, images of the “Manchurian Candidate” appear.
Even if a clear conclusion can’t be reached, Americans need to know that every attempt possible was fairly and honestly made to determine the truth.
Impossible? Perhaps. But with guys like Nunes around, perseverance and a proof of diligence are the only answers.
Dan K. Thomasson is an op-ed columnist for Tribune News Service and a former vice president of Scripps Howard Newspapers.
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· · ·

Gay U.S. ambassador's departure from Dominican Republic leaves void

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Dominican Republic, gay news, Washington Blade
Then-U.S. Ambassador to the Dominican Republic James “Wally” Brewster speaks before a Pride march in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, on July 3, 2016. (Photo courtesy of James “Wally” Brewster)
SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic — Activists in the Dominican Republic who attended an LGBT conference in their country’s capital this past weekend say former U.S. Ambassador James “Wally” Brewster’s departure has left a deep void.
Rosalba Karina Crisóstomo, a lesbian activist who is the executive director of Comunidad de Lesbianas Inclusivas Dominicanas, is among the more than 300 people from across the region who attended the conference that the Gay and Lesbian Victory Institute co-sponsored with Diversidad Dominicana, a Dominican advocacy group, and Caribe Afirmativo, an LGBT organization that works throughout northern Colombia.
Crisóstomo told the Washington Blade on Saturday that Brewster “has had a big impact in the country.”
“The Dominican Republic is a country controlled by religious Catholics,” said Crisóstomo. “Wally came here to the Dominican Republic and helped us with development and in doing that he highlighted all of the discrimination that exists towards the LGBT community in the country.”

Brewster’s absence ‘certainly felt’ in Dominican Republic

Then-President Obama nominated Brewster, who is a former member of the Human Rights Campaign’s board of directors, to represent the U.S. in the Dominican Republic in 2013.
Brewster and his husband, Bob Satawake, frequently appeared together at public events and in the Dominican media. They also met regularly with LGBT rights advocates.
Brewster and Satawake attended a candlelight vigil in Santo Domingo’s Parque Duarte — which is a popular gathering place for LGBT Dominicans — last June after the massacre at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Fla. Brewster and Satawake also participated in Santo Domingo’s Pride parade that took place a few weeks later.
The two men attended the June 2015 launch of an LGBT tourism campaign that took place in Santo Domingo’s Old City.
Brewster and Satawake helped secure a grant from the U.S. Agency for International Development that supported efforts to promote LGBT participation in the Dominican Republic’s political process. They also helped pave the way for the Santo Domingo conference, which is the largest LGBT-specific gathering that has ever taken place in the country.
“Surely we miss Ambassador Brewster here,” Gay and Lesbian Victory Institute CEO Aisha Moodie-Mills told the Blade on Friday after she spoke at the conference’s opening plenary. “His absence is certainly felt in the Dominican Republic.”
Brewster officially stepped down on January 20 when President Trump took office. The new administration has yet to nominate anyone to succeed him.
Yimbert Féliz, president of Voluntariado LGBT Dominicano, an advocacy group that works throughout the Dominican Republic, told the Blade on Friday that his organization has not had “any type of” support from the U.S. Embassy since Brewster’s departure.
French Ambassador to the Dominican Republic José Gómez on March 30 hosted a reception for conference participants at his home. Officials from the U.S. Embassy and USAID were among those who attended.
“The ambassador and his husband’s departure from the country has affected us,” Féliz told the Blade, referring to Brewster and Satawake.

Brewster: Dominican activists ‘impacted our lives’

Religious leaders and politicians regularly attacked Brewster and Satawake during his ambassadorship.
Nicolás de Jesús López Rodríguez, the former cardinal of the Archdiocese of Santo Domingo, repeatedly used anti-gay slurs to describe Brewster. A group of Dominican intellectuals and religious leaders last year urged President Danilo Medina to declare Brewster “persona non grata” because of a U.S.-backed education initiative they claimed would “turn our adolescents gay.”
A member of the Dominican congress in 2016 described those who support Brewster and defend him as “faggots.”
Lupita Raposo, a transgender woman and activist from La Romana, a city in the eastern part of the country that is near the resort of Casa de Campo, told the Blade during the reception at Gómez’s home that Brewster and Satawake helped challenge stereotypes about LGBT people in the Dominican Republic in spite of the backlash they received.
“[He is] a person who is openly part of the LGBT community but conservative,” said Raposo.
“The image that we still have of the community in the country is not one of a conservative community,” she added. “But we have many people in the LGBT community who are conservative.”
Wally Brewster, Dominican Republic, gay news, Washington Blade
Then-U.S. Ambassador to the Dominican Republic James “Wally” Brewster, left, and his husband, Bob Satawake, at in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, in June 2015. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)
Raposo told the Blade the Catholic Church in the Dominican Republic and the cardinals within it can have more power in the country because Brewster and Satawake are no longer challenging them. She also said Dominican LGBT rights advocates are afraid they will lose U.S. support.
“There is fear that all of the progress we have seen will be erased with a simple decision that Trump can take,” said Raposo.
Brewster on Saturday told the Blade he is “proud” of the Dominican LGBT activists and their continued efforts “to advance their fight for equality.”
“We are honored to have worked with such amazing human beings and we are proud to always be part of their journey,” said Brewster. “They impacted our lives and we hope we made a difference in theirs.”
Dominican Republic, gay news, Washington Blade
Deivis Ventura, left, a prominent Dominican LGBT rights advocate, raises the rainbow flag over the U.S. Embassy in the Dominican Republic on June 4, 2016, with then-U.S. Ambassador to the Dominican Republic James “Wally” Brewster and his husband, Bob Satawake. (Photo courtesy of Bob Satawake)
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· · · · ·

Moscow International Security Conference To Focus on Terrorism and Regional Threats

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Moscow International Security Conference To Focus on Terrorism and Regional Threats

April 2 (EIRNS)—Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu reported, during a conference call at the ministry March 31, that the upcoming Sixth Moscow Conference on International Security, set for April 26-27, will be dedicated to the fight against terrorism and regional threats.
"The fight against international terrorism and security threats facing Europe, the Asian-Pacific region, Central Asia, the Middle East and North Africa will top the conference agenda,"
he said. Ways to protect information space will also be discussed. Shoigu said he expected a very large attendance at the conference, upwards of 700 people, including 500 representatives of foreign countries, among them 24 defense ministers and 14 deputies who have already confirmed their participation. "
The large number of participants shows that the Moscow conference has become a platform appropriate for exchanging experience on maintaining domestic, regional and global security,"
Shoigu said. The conference’s extensive program is available in Russian and English:
Elsewhere in Moscow, Nikolai Patrushev, the secretary of Russia’s Security Council, told a conference entitled "Crucial Issues of Ensuring Russia’s National Security," that Russia is playing a growing role in settling military conflicts and crises and in tackling other major international problems. "Russia plays a greater role in tackling major international problems, settling military conflicts and crises and ensuring strategic stability," he said.
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Page 6

Terror expert: Russia bigger target than US - YouTube

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Published on Apr 3, 2017
CNN Terrorism Analyst Paul Cruickshank discusses why Russia is a top target for global Jihadi terror.

The big Russia questions loom even larger

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Clint Watts, a senior fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute Program on National Security, talks with reporters on Capitol Hill last Thursday, following his testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Russian intelligence activities. (Susan Walsh/Associated Press)
Following his extraordinary testimony last week, former FBI special agent Clint Watts appeared on “Meet the Press” on Sunday. This exchange, in which he explained Russia’s “active measures” during the 2016 campaign, was eye-popping:
What they want to do is use information as a weapon of warfare to undermine U.S. democracy, such that when we crumble from the inside out, we can’t take aggressive foreign policy or stop their foreign policy around the world. So the way they do that is by using what’s called a state-to-people and a people-to-people strategy. They’re going to bypass the U.S. government, go straight to our Democratic electorate, and try and undermine trust, create divisions, and foment chaos. . . .
The new social media that’s out there, Twitter, Facebook, and the way advertisements are done, the way you can demographically target people, the same way we see it with our own political campaigns in the United States, you can use that as an adversary as well. And so what they do is they create automated technology, commonly referred to as bots, to create what look like armies of Americans.
And they can reprogram those. They can make your biography look like you’re a supporter of one candidate or another, and then they’ll push a series of manipulated truths or fake stories through those accounts to where you think I’m talking to someone who supports my candidate, this makes it more believable, and I’m more amenable to that news.
Now there has been obviously part of the investigation is was there any collusion, was there any, essentially, any American support to this operation. What can you tell about that?
Well, I noted in my testimony the two times where there was obvious use of Russian propaganda. One was, Paul Manafort cited it in ’14 August, the fake ancillary campaign we talked about, and then President Trump mistakenly cited what everyone thinks is a Sputnik news story. But beyond that, the synchronization at times, how many times the campaign picked up on lines that were promoted by the Kremlin, or vice versa, created lines that were then the Kremlin promoted back into the U.S. base was ironic. It was hard to see that with any other campaign.
And so was Donald Trump specifically targeted by this Russian operation as a person to help spread this news?
I don’t think they saw him as a person to spread the news. They just knew that he was opportunistic during his campaign. So if you put stuff that helps his campaign, he will likely use it. And they really turned towards him in August of ’15. That’s when you started to see those stories pop up. But they also pushed for Bernie Sanders at times too. They would go on the left and the right. It’s bipartisan.
Understand what he is saying: The now president of the United States and his campaign team either wittingly or unwittingly helped carry Russian disinformation targeted at American democracy. The magnitude of that analysis has yet to sink in. Consider the number of questions that raises, and the implications for the investigation underway.
How did Paul Manafort, Carter Page and Michael T. Flynn, all enriched by surrogates of Russia (in Manafort’s case by the Kremlin’s stooge in Ukraine and in Flynn’s case, RT, among others) come to work on a single campaign? Did whoever put them there know the extent of their Russian connections? Did Trump? Never in any campaign have so many pro-Russian, Russian-paid advisers worked for a single presidential candidate — one who wound up refusing to criticize Russia and indeed echoing its disinformation.
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In this context Flynn’s failure to reveal his payments from multiple Russian entities in initial financial filings submitted under oath become exceptionally troubling. As CNN reported, “Flynn’s initial disclosures, which he submitted in mid-February, left out that he received money from Russia’s state-funded television network, RT, for a speech in Moscow and from air cargo company Volga-Dnepr Airlines and cybersecurity firm Kaspersky Government Security Solutions Inc. for speaking engagements in the United States.” Flynn, you may recall, denied previously that RT was a Russian propaganda outfit.
Trump’s inclination to pick up Russian propaganda themes is yet another deeply disturbing pattern. In addition to the specific story Watts cited, Trump also echoed familiar Russian themes (e.g., voter fraud, the system is “rigged”) and adopted Russian propaganda at one point by suggesting Russia would not go into Ukraine (when Russia had already seized Crimea). His message of a moral equivalence between the United States and Russia (on killing people, for example) was something that could have come from Vladimir Putin’s mouth.
How did that come to pass? Did aides either intentionally or unintentionally pass tidbits on to him or was Russia so successful in getting conspiracy-minded right-wing outlets to pick them up that the Trump campaign got them indirectly and unknowingly?
And this brings it back to Trump and his own ties to Russia. He has fervently denied any association with Russians. And yet we know he had extensive ties to Russian oligarchs. “To expand his real estate developments over the years, Donald Trump, his company and partners repeatedly turned to wealthy Russians and oligarchs from former Soviet republics — several allegedly connected to organized crime, according to a USA TODAY review of court cases, government and legal documents and an interview with a former federal prosecutor.” Just among the deals discovered so far we know that “[t]he president and his companies have been linked to at least 10 wealthy former Soviet businessmen with alleged ties to criminal organizations or money laundering.”
Any one of these things — Russian-enriched advisers, echoing Russia propaganda and trying to conceal extensive business dealings with Russians — would be enough to set off alarm bells. The presence of all three is, well, astounding. What’s more, when this was all laid out to him first as a candidate and then as president he refused to concede the findings of months and months of U.S. intelligence in uncovering the Russian “active measures.” Such denial was blindness, at best, and potentially intentional misrepresentation seeking to end inquiry into Russia’s “active measures,” at worst.
No effort to investigate the extent of the cooperation between the Trump team and Russians therefore can go forward without a full inquiry into Trump’s finances, including his tax returns, which — wouldn’t you know it? — he has refused to disclose. It would be as if the FBI were investigating a small-town mayor for alleged corruption based on mob ties without examining the mayor’s finances. That would on its face be preposterous.
So far the Senate Intelligence Committee has demonstrated real bipartisanship and diligence. The test will come, however, when it becomes apparent that only Trump can answer certain questions and that his tax returns are a critical part of the investigation. Perhaps if the Senate falters, a combination of conscientious House Republican moderates, Freedom Caucus members and a unified Democratic caucus can demand the information. If not, only a change in control of the House with the threat of impeachment will pry the information out of Trump.
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Ecuador, Venezuela and the Fall of the Latin American Left

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Not so long ago, there were five stars of the 21st century Latin American left: Brazil, Argentina, Venezuela, Bolivia, and Ecuador. But with Venezuela imploding and the narrowest of victories for a leftwing candidate in Ecuador's election this weekend, it looks like this particular chapter of Latin American history is drawing to a close. Here’s what you need to know.
Today’s Brazil represents a spectacular fall from emerging market grace. Under leftist president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, Brazilians saw a dramatic improvement in quality of life between 2003 and 2010—20 million Brazilians rose from poverty, and Brazil profited from a combination of prudent macroeconomic policies and a China-fueled commodities supercycle that boosted the resource-rich country’s exports.
But as government popularity continued to soar, the government began to slowly abandon macroeconomic prudence and implement nationalist policies, especially under Lula’s successor Dilma Rousseff. Then came the global demand slow-down. Brazil’s GDP fell from robust growth to a deep recession—7.5 percent in 2010 to -3.8 percent in 2015. Complicating matters further is the still-unfolding Lava Jato investigation, the largest political corruption case in Brazil’s history, which centers on state oil giant Petrobras. Rousseff was impeached, and Lula’s under investigation as well—as are the current heads of both houses of congress and two former opposition leaders. At least Rousseff’s replacement, the center-right Michel Temer, doesn’t have to worry about re-election in 2018—because of his own corruption charges, he’s currently barred from running for political office for the next eight years.
Argentina defaulted on $95 billion in loans in 2001 and two years later voters elected leftist Nestor Kirchner to lead the country out of the economic wilderness. At the time, nearly 50 percent of Argentines lived in poverty. But like Lula in Brazil, Kirchner was fortunate to come to power during the commodities supercycle. Nestor’s wife, Cristina Kirchner, succeeded him in 2007, and in their combined 12 years in power, the Kirchners used booming agricultural exports to expand social welfare programs and government subsidies to struggling Argentines, endearing them to lower income voters. Foreign investors were less enamored, especially once it became clear that the government’s accounting methods were suspect (to put it politely).
Argentines elected pro-business, center-right Mauricio Macri in 2015, and he has already taken steps to boost foreign investor confidence, unifying the exchange rate and resolving standoffs with international creditors to return to world markets. Still, Macri’s policies have yet to deliver meaningful growth and investment. And Cristina Kirchner? She’s preparing to stand trial on charges that, among other things, she tried to defraud the government of more than $3 billion. Despite that, she’s seriously mulling an upcoming senate run; Argentina has probably not heard the last of her.
Now for the countries where the left remains in power. President Nicolas Maduro has little of the charisma or political talents of his mentor, the late Hugo Chavez, who ruled the country between 1999 and 2013. Nor has he enjoyed Chavez’s success; between 2002 and 2011, the Venezuelan poverty rate fell from 48.6 to 29.5 percent. Like Lula and the Kirchners, Chavez delivered on early promises to improve the lives of the country’s poorest and most vulnerable.
Maduro hasn’t. He’s presiding over the world’s largest proven oil reserves at a time when oil sells for roughly $50 per barrel—and Venezuela’s heavier crude is selling this week for less than $42. Oil accounts for 95 percent of Venezuela’s export earnings, and the average Venezuelan is suffering for it. An astonishing 93 percent of Venezuelans today cannot afford to buy enough food—that is, when there’s food to buy. Inflation stands at 800 percent according to unofficial estimates—Venezuela’s central bank stopped publishing inflation data in December 2015.The government then stopped publishing GDP figures in February 2016. The IMF estimates that the Venezuelan economy contracted 10 percent last year, making it the worst performing economy in the world.
Evo Morales has been in office since January 2006. Elected after his two predecessors were ousted in popular protests, the former coca-growers union leader quickly renationalized the country’s oil and gas industries and used the infusion of cash to fund extensive public works projects and social programs that reduced poverty levels by 25 percent. He was reelected in 2009, and again in 2014. Under his leadership, the Bolivian economy has expanded between 3 and 6.5 percent every year for the past decade. Yet, tumbling natural gas prices threaten that progress, and drought conditions have created a massive water shortage.
Morales wants a fourth term as president, but constitutional term limits stand in his way. In February 2016, voters chose to keep those limits in place by a 51-49 margin. He says he wants to run again anyway. Even if he does, there’s no guarantee he’d win—his popularity has been dented by allegations that his former lover Gabriela Zapata helped secure government contracts worth more than $500 million for a Chinese engineering firm that included her on the payroll.
Ecuador had gone through seven presidents in 10 years before Rafael Correa took office in 2007. Correa, a leftist economist by training, put markets on edge by declaring in December 2008 that Ecuador was defaulting on its ”illegitimate” foreign debt. That move vaulted Ecuador past Argentina and Paraguay as the most frequent defaulter in Latin America. But on the back of the oil boom—Ecuador is a member of OPEC—the economy continued to grow steadily, averaging 3.4 percent growth between 2007 and 2014. During that period, Ecuador grew its public sector spending more than any other South American country, cutting poverty by roughly 10 percent. It began repaying its debts in 2015 and reining in government spending, which earned Correa praise from the IMF.
Unlike Morales, Correa has chosen to respect term limits (at least for the time being), and Ecuador returned to the polls this weekend. Lenin Moreno, a former vice president, defeated Guillermo Lasso, a center-right politician and former banker who wants to make Ecuador more business-friendly and boost foreign investment by cutting taxes. But Moreno won by a slim, 51-49% margin and Lasso is contesting the result. Even if Moreno does emerge as Ecuador's next president, he may want to think carefully about what direction to take. Before the election, some 70% of Ecuadoreans said they wanted “important changes.”
All is not lost for Latin America’s leftists, however. The social programs introduced by these leaders remain popular among the people, even if the politicians that introduced them have not. And thanks to Donald Trump, leftist leader Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has a puncher’s chance to win Mexico’s presidential elections next year. He would be the country’s first leftist president in more than 30 years. The wheel turns.
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· · · · ·

Another train derails at New York's...

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Another train derails at New York's Penn Station, one injured

Reuters - ‎50 minutes ago‎
Emergency officials view scene where a New Jersey transit train derailed during rush hour at Penn Station, forcing passengers to be evacuated from cars in the second such incident at the midtown hub in less than two weeks, according to officials, in ...

At Least 4 Hurt In Minor NJ TRANSIT Derailment At Penn Station

CBS New York - ‎41 minutes ago‎
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Emergency responders are on the scene of a derailment of a NJ TRANSIT train at Penn Station. It happened just after 9 a.m. on track 9. NJ TRANSIT said Northeast Corridor train 3926 from Trenton was approaching the station ...

New York Today: A Belated Budget

New York Times - ‎4 hours ago‎
The Republican state senator James Tedisco wore his feelings on his tie on Saturday. Credit Nathaniel Brooks for The New York Times. Updated: 10:06 a.m.. Good morning on this pleasant Monday. Several New Jersey Transit services have been suspended ...

Trump Budget Leaves New York-Area Transit Projects Up in the Air

New York Times - ‎6 hours ago‎
Former Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, left, with Stephen J. Gardner, an Amtrak executive, touring the Hudson River rail tunnel last year. Credit Todd Heisler/The New York Times. When the new president is a lifelong New Yorker promising a ...

NJ Transit derailment at Penn Station injures four

<a href="http://UPI.com" rel="nofollow">UPI.com</a> - ‎16 minutes ago‎
People exit and enter Pennsylvania Station in New York City on March 24 after a minor derailment by Amtrak's Acela Express Train 2151. On Monday, a NJ Transit train derailed, causing one injury and leading New Jersey's public transportation system to ...
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· · ·

Trump, Putin meeting could mend...

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Trump, Putin meeting could mend deteriorating relationship, Kremlin spokesman says

Fox News - ‎7 hours ago‎
A meeting between President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin could mend the rift between the two nations, a Kremlin spokesman said Sunday. Dmitry Peskov told ABC's “This Week” that relations between the U.S. and Russia are “maybe worse” ...

Marine Le Pen: Who's funding France's far right?

BBC News - ‎3 hours ago‎
When Marine Le Pen appeared in the Kremlin on 24 March, it was Vladimir Putin himself who gave voice to the thought that was surely on many people's minds: "I know that the presidential campaign is developing actively in France," the Russian president ...

US-Russia Relations Are 'Worse' Than During the Cold War, Kremlin Spokesman Says

TIME - ‎2 hours ago‎
In an interview with ABC's This Week on Sunday, spokesman Dmitry Petrov said the countries' relationship was at the "lowest possible point" and "worse" than after World War II — but he said a meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. ...

Russia's Putin says considering all causes, including terrorism for blast

Reuters - ‎2 hours ago‎
Russian President Vladimir Putin looks on after a meeting with President of Iceland Gudni Johannesson as part of the International Arctic Forum in Arkhangelsk, Russia March 30, 2017. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin. ST PETERSBURG Russian President ...

Here's Why It May Be Time to 'Short' Vladimir Putin

<a href="http://TheStreet.com" rel="nofollow">TheStreet.com</a> - ‎1 hour ago‎
"Hoisted by his own petard" is a Shakespearean idiom, coined by the great bard in Hamlet. It means to be hurt by one's plot intended for another, a term that derives from explosive devices hoisted over fortress walls during Medieval battles. These ...
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· ·

Here's Why It May Be Time to 'Short' Vladimir Putin

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"Hoisted by his own petard" is a Shakespearean idiom, coined by the great bard in Hamlet. It means to be hurt by one's plot intended for another, a term that derives from explosive devices hoisted over fortress walls during Medieval battles. These bombs often went awry and destroyed the assailant.
Russian President Vladimir Putin comes to mind. As the ever-widening Russia scandal engulfs President Trump's administration and Putin's cyber warfare increasingly comes to light, the former KGB colonel could face a backlash from the Western powers he is trying to divide. Below is the best way to profit from Russia's day of reckoning.
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To be sure, after more than two years of suffering under the protracted oil and gas price recession, the Russian economy is getting a lift from energy's resurgence. Problem is, oil and gas prices remain volatile and the slightest crumb of bad news could send them reeling again.
Putin never undertook the difficult task of diversifying the Russian economy; the country remains a petro-state (and kleptocracy) that's dangerously reliant on the fickle gyrations of the energy patch. Even Saudi Arabia has taken steps to move away from its over-dependence on fossil fuels. Despite the OPEC production cut accord that has helped buoy prices, the world remains awash in a glut of oil and renewable energy's rise is unstoppable.
Approximately half of Russia's budget stems from taxes on oil and gas, which means budget cuts and tax increases are inevitable whenever energy dips. The benchmark VanEck Vectors Russia ETF (RSX) has jumped 29.5% over the past 12 months, as oil and gas prices recovered. However, amid the deepening Trump-Russia scandal, the exchange-traded fund has declined 2.59% year to date.
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Page 7

Why is Trump flailing? Because Americans hate his agenda, and it’s based on lies.

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President Trump. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)
Everyone in Washington is trying to figure out why President Trump’s agenda has stalled on multiple fronts and why his approval numbers are swirling down the toilet. CNN’s Chris Cillizza suggests Trump’s penchant for disruption and chaos actually works against him. (I agree.) Others point to Trump’s failure to forge relationships on Capitol Hill.
Still others say the problem is congressional Republicans. Trump’s social media director has called for a primary against a House conservative who opposed Trump’s health plan, which may have violated a law designed to keep government officials from swaying elections. Some GOP groups are reportedly mulling ads targeting GOP lawmakers who don’t vote with Trump. Thus, the problem is their disloyalty.
All this has some truth to it. But here’s another overarching reason for Trump’s travails: As his campaign promises are getting translated into concrete policies, Americans are recoiling from the results. What’s more, this process is unmasking the disconcerting levels of dishonesty, bad faith, and lack of concern for detail and procedure that are rotting away at the core of his policies, all of which is plainly working against him.
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The result has been a presidency lacking in significant victories, beset by major stumbles — including the downfall of the Republicans’ health-care bill and his travel ban on six Muslim-majority countries — and that is the target of litigation as a result of executive actions, especially related to the environment.
There are more potential roadblocks ahead. Already, congressional Republicans have balked at his proposed budget, and the White House’s insistence on increased spending for the military and a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border could imperil a spending bill needed to keep the government running past the end of April.
The health bill, the travel ban and the border wall are all either defeated or in deep trouble. As veteran Washington consultant David Gergen put it, Trump is “flailing because he doesn’t know where to find his natural allies.”
President Trump on March 30 tweeted that he would "fight" the House Freedom Caucus in the 2018 midterm elections after the group blocked the health-care bill. (Bastien Inzaurralde/The Washington Post)
President Trump on March 30 tweeted that he would “fight” the House Freedom Caucus in the 2018 midterm elections after the group blocked the health-care bill. President Trump on March 30 tweeted that he would “fight” the House Freedom Caucus in the 2018 midterm elections after the group blocked the health-care bill. (Video: Bastien Inzaurralde/Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)
But if this is so, surely it is partly because the policies are so unpopular. Take health care: Many blame House conservatives for tanking the GOP bill. But more pragmatic GOP lawmakers also played a big role. They opposed it in large part because the policy was so regressive that even they could not abide by it. The plan would have cut over $800 billion in Medicaid spending — which would have left 14 million fewer on Medicaid, according to the Congressional Budget Office — while delivering an enormous tax cut for the rich.
number of moderate House Republicans opposed the plan precisely because it would have taken coverage away from many of their poorer constituents. Moderates were also alienated in part because the plan was broadly unpopular: A recent poll found that only 17 percent of voters backed the plan, and core Trump voter groups opposed it. The Medicaid cuts were a key reason for that: 74 percent of voters, including 54 percent of Republicans, opposed its Medicaid cuts — revealing broad opposition to its most prominent mechanism for massively rolling back spending to cover poor people.
Trump alone is not to blame for this. Trump didn’t care about the details — he only wanted a “win” — and thus embraced Paul Ryan’s plan. It is Ryanism, which includes repeal-and-replace as part of the broader goal of shredding the safety net, that helped create this disaster. Ryan was supposed to craft a policy that would prove ideologically satisfactory to congressional Republicans and could also be sold through shrewd rhetorical subterfuge as a fulfillment of Trump’s promise of better health care for everybody at lower costs. The CBO blew all that up by unmasking its truly regressive nature and, in the process, the big policy lie at the core of Trump’s repeal-and-replace promise. The details ended up mattering.
Something similar is happening on the travel ban and border wall. The original travel ban, which was blocked by the courts, was the result of a laughably slapdash process that could not conceal its anti-Muslim animus. The new version was also put on hold, in part because Trump and his advisers themselves revealed that its true rationale and goals were very similar, thus making it just as vulnerable to legal challenges, even as its stated rationale has been undercut by Homeland Security’s own analysts. (The fact that there’s no serious rationale for it may help explain why it’s unpopular.) Meanwhile, the wall on the Mexican border may also stumble over one of Trump’s big lies. He claimed Mexico will pay for it, but now that Congress actually has to do so, Republicans are privately saying they don’t really want to fight for that spending. The fact that the wall is also very unpopular probably makes this easier for them.
Trump could still notch victories soon. Neil Gorsuch may be confirmed to the Supreme Court. Trump may get tax reform of some kind (including huge tax cuts for the rich). But other aspects of his agenda are still in doubt. Trump has signed executive orders rolling back our policies to fight climate change, but doing that will take years and is very unpopular, perhaps in part because it won’t actually restore coal jobs, as he has promised. Trump’s vow of infrastructure spending could prove popular, but we don’t know whether it will amount to anything more than a tax break and privatization scheme. Trump’s trade bluster is also colliding with the complexity of policy reality.
Why is Trump tanking? The bottom line is that the ongoing translation of Trump’s agenda into policy specifics is showing that major elements of it are unpopular, or unworkable because they are premised on lies, or both.
* SHOWDOWN THIS WEEK ON GORSUCH: CNN reports that Democrats probably won’t supply enough votes for Republicans to overcome the Democrats’ filibuster on Neil Gorsuch’s nomination to the Supreme Court, which may trigger GOP elimination of the filibuster:
With only three Democrats saying they will back the 49-year-old Coloradan, it’s increasingly likely Gorsuch can’t get the 60 votes he needs to overcome a Democratic filibuster. … Many senators are worried that the if Republicans weaken the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees, in the same way Democrats did for all other presidential appointments in 2013, the chamber would be on a slippery slope and the filibuster for legislation could someday be diminished too.
On “Fox News Sunday,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said that this week will end with confirmation of Gorsuch, one way or the other, which sounds like a threat to go nuclear.
* THE WHIP COUNT ON GORSUCH SO FAR: Politico tallies it up: All 52 Republican senators are set to support Gorsuch. Only three Democrats thus far will break with the Democrats’ filibuster; and 37 are supporting the filibuster. Eight are undecided:
Michael Bennet (Colo.)
Ben Cardin (Md.)
Chris Coons (Del.)
Dianne Feinstein (Calif.)
Angus King (Maine)
Patrick Leahy (Vt.)
Robert Menendez (N.J.)
Mark Warner (Va.)
Republicans need to get five of those to break the filibuster; Democrats need to get four of them to sustain it.
* TRUMP COUNTY IS UPSET AT HIS BUDGET CUTS: The New York Times reports on people in a poor Ohio county that went for Trump who are now upset that his budget cuts will eliminate a housing program that many relied on. As one local official says:
“Our county voted for President Trump, so I’m not sure they quite understand what is going to happen. I don’t think people realize how much we rely on these services. I don’t think people are making the connection between cutting the HUD funds and paving our streets or building new affordable housing.”
But as one local who relied on the program tells the Times, Trump will protect them from “people who are coming into this country who are trying to hurt us,” which is more important.
* TRUMP VOTERS WOULD GET HURT BY TRUMP’S BUDGET: The Post, meanwhile, talks to rural voters in Oklahoma who backed Trump and finds worry that his budget cuts would decimate multiple programs they depend on:
The president’s proposed budget would disproportionately harm the rural areas and small towns that were key to his unexpected win. Many red states like Oklahoma — where every single county went for Trump — are more reliant on the federal funds that Trump wants to cut than states that voted for Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.
No one could possibly have predicted this outcome.
* WHY TRUMP’S TRADE AGENDA TOTALLY FIZZLED: Paul Krugman runs through the reasons Trump’s blustery promises on trade are proving a bust, including the fact that trade is deeply interwoven into the economy and can’t be easily unwound by tariffs:
Reversing globalization now would produce [a] painful “Trump shock,” disrupting jobs and communities all over again … at a deep level Trumptrade is running into the same wall that caused Trumpcare to crash and burn. Mr. Trump came into office talking big, sure that his predecessors had messed everything up and he — he alone — could do far better. And millions of voters believed him.
It’s worth adding that if Trump does end up renegotiating our trade deals, it’s still possible he will do so in ways that favor corporations, not workers. That would shock you, wouldn’t it?
* EVERYONE SHOULD WANT THE TRUTH ABOUT RUSSIAN MEDDLING: E.J. Dionne argues that all of us should want to get to the bottom of what Russia did to interfere in our election, which is sometimes derided these days as “McCarthyite”:
Shouldn’t everyone, left, right and center, be furious over Russia’s efforts to inject calumny and falsehood into the American political bloodstream? … It is not McCarthyite to ask why Trump has spoken with such warmth about a Russian autocrat or taken so many positions (on NATO and the European Union, for example) that can be fairly seen as more in line with Russia’s interests than our own.
Let’s not lose sight of the big picture: Trump and many congressional Republicans are frustrating efforts to obtain a full accounting into everything Russia did to undermine our democracy.
* AND JARED/IVANKA MUST RECUSE THEMSELVES: Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump have released disclosure reports showing they still are profiting from extensive holdings. A trio of ethics experts has a good piece in USA Today explaining why they must recuse themselves from policy debates that could create conflicts of interest:
Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump have so many potential conflicts of interest that if they abide by ethics laws and past White House practices, they won’t be able to advise the president on three of his top priorities: Trade, tax reform and Wall Street deregulation … Jared will need to recuse from many matters involving the financial services industry, including any steps to repeal the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act. … They both will also have to recuse from any decisions about tax benefits for the real estate industry, and because the tax code is chock full of them, this will probably mean recusal from the entirety of tax reform.
It’ll be interesting to see if any congressional Republicans raise a peep about this.
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Republicans made their deal with the devil, and … wait for it!

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sennaya ploshchad st petersburg - Google Search

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