Tuesday, March 4, 2014
Putin warns West against sanctions, says Ukraine interim leader 'not legitimate'
Of course in this situation I'm pulling for Barry. Never thought I would utter those words. That said, I sure as hell would feel more confident if someone like a JFK, a Reagan, a Truman, or a Bush were president right now.
Russian President Vladimir Putin Tuesday blamed what he called an "unconstitutional overthrow and seizure of power" by Ukraine's opposition for the ongoing crisis in Crimea and rejected Western threats to punish Russia with sanctions by claiming that they will backfire if imposed.
Putin spoke at a news conference at his residence outside Moscow as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry was en route to Ukraine to show his support for that country's interim government. That leadership has accused Moscow of a military invasion in Crimea. The Kremlin, which does not recognize the new Ukrainian leadership, insists it made the move in order to protect Russian installations and its citizens living there.
Putin said Tuesday that Moscow reserved the right to protect ethnic Russians in Ukraine by any means necessary, but added that force would be used only as a last resort.
Putin's remarks were his first public comments on the situation in Ukraine since its former President, Viktor Yanukovych, fled the capital, Kiev, February 22. The Russian leader accused the West of using Yanukovych's decision in November to ditch a pact with the 28-nation European Union in favor of closer ties with Russia to encourage the months of protests that drove him from power.
"Of course people wanted change," Putin said of the protests in Kiev's Independence Square. "But [people] cannot impose illegal change ...you need to use only constitutional means."
Putin went on to say that Ukraine's interim president, parliament speaker Oleksandr Turchynov, was "not legitimate. From the legal perspective it is Mr. Yanukovych who is president." Yanukovych fled Kiev one day after reaching an agreement with leaders of the opposition that was brokered by the foreign ministers of France, Germany, and Poland. Earlier this week, Yanukovych was granted protection by Russia.
As part of the change of power in Ukraine, early elections have been scheduled to take place May 25, but Putin said that Russia would not recognize the results of those elections if they were held under what he called "such terror as we see now."
Putin said that Yanukovych has no political future and claimed that the former Ukrainian leader would have been killed if Russia had not granted him protection. Yanukovych is wanted by Ukraine's interim government on charges of planning the mass murder of civilians during the recent protests. At least 82 people were killed in Kiev in clashes between protesters and security forces prior to Yanukovych's flight into Russia.
Putin echoed remarks made by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov Monday at a United Nations forum in Geneva in which Russia's top diplomat said that the price of halting Russian action in Crimea was reinstating the terms of the February 21 agreement, which called for early elections and limited Yanukovych's powers, but did not remove him from office.
There have been no reports of fighting or casualties since the Russian troop deployments in Crimea began this past Friday. However, there have been signs of increasing tension as pro-Russian troops fired warning shots to ward off protesting Ukrainian soldiers at the Belback Air Base in Sevastopol.
Putin denied that the troops guarding Ukrainian military installations across Crimea were regular Russian troops, claiming that they were "local self-defense forces." Many of the uniforms on those troops lack identifying insignia, but their vehicles and uniforms appear to be Russian. Putin shrugged the accusation off Tuesday, saying "The post-Soviet space is full of such uniforms."
Earlier Tuesday, the Kremlin said Putin had ordered tens of thousands of Russian troops participating in military exercises near Ukraine's border to return to their bases. The massive military exercise in western Russia involving 150,000 troops, hundreds of tanks and dozens of aircraft was supposed to wrap up anyway, so it was not clear if Putin's move was an attempt to heed the West's call to de-escalate the crisis.
In Brussels, meanwhile, the ambassadors of NATO's 28 member nations will hold a second emergency meeting on Ukraine on Tuesday after Poland, which borders both Russia and Ukraine, invoked an article calling for consultations when a nation sees its "territorial integrity, political independence or security threatened," the alliance said in a statement.
President Barack Obama has said that Russia is "on the wrong side of history" in Ukraine and its actions violate international law. Obama said the U.S. was considering economic and diplomatic options that will isolate Russia, and called on Congress to work on an aid package for Ukraine.
In response, Putin said that the West should be bear in mind that it will also suffer damage from potential sanctions, which he called "counterproductive and harmful."
Earlier Tuesday, Russia's agricultural oversight agency issued a statement declaring a reversal of its earlier decision to lift the ban on imports of U.S. pork. It said the existing U.S. system of checks don't guarantee its safety.
Putin's economic advisor, Sergei Glazyev, said that Russia can develop financial ties with other nations to offset any potential Western sanctions.
The European Union's foreign ministers on Monday threatened Moscow with halting talks on visa liberalization and negotiations on further economic cooperation unless Russian troops on the Crimean peninsula pull back over the next three days.
The bloc's heads of state and government will hold an emergency meeting on the situation in Ukraine on Thursday that will decide on imposing the sanctions if there is no de-escalation on the ground, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said.
Posted by Merchant of Venom at 7:48 AM
Monday, March 3, 2014
The only thing Barry knows about a Shirley Temple is… it's his favorite drink.
Check out Shirley's résumé:
(Sadly, in the long list of her credentials there was a absence of drug use)
Rest easy Mrs. Black. You entertained our nation, especially the greatest generation of them all, for decades. We are sorry our president's priorities are so ass-backwards....
WE will remember you none-the-less...
Posted by Merchant of Venom at 7:28 AM
Sunday, March 2, 2014
I'm starting to get a little nervous. This good turn real ugly..real soon…and look who we have calling the shots.
Jokes aside... you don't bring a community organizer to fight the KGB.
(Reuters) - Ukraine mobilized for war on Sunday, after Russian President Vladimir Putin declared he had the right to invade, creating the biggest confrontation between Moscow and the West since the Cold War.
"This is not a threat: this is actually the declaration of war to my country," said Ukraine's Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk, head of a pro-Western government that took power when Russian ally Viktor Yanukovich fled last week.
Putin obtained permission from his parliament on Saturday to use military force to protect Russian citizens in Ukraine, spurning Western pleas not intervene.
Russian forces have already bloodlessly seized Crimea - an isolated Black Sea peninsula where Moscow has a naval base. On Sunday they surrounded several small Ukrainian military outposts there and demanded the Ukrainian troops disarm. Some refused, although no shots were fired.
Ukraine's security council ordered the general staff to immediately put all armed forces on highest alert, the council's secretary Andriy Parubiy announced.
The Defense Ministry was ordered to conduct a call-up of reserves - theoretically all men up to 40 in a country with universal male conscription, though Ukraine would struggle to find extra guns or uniforms for significant numbers of them.
"If President Putin wants to be the president who started the war between two neighboring and friendly countries, between Ukraine and Russia, so: he has reached this target within a few inches. We are on the brink of disaster," Yatseniuk said in televised remarks in English, appealing for Western support.
THREAT TO EASTERN UKRAINE
At Kiev's Independence Square, where anti-Yanukovich protesters had camped out for months, thousands demonstrated against Russian military action. Placards read: "Putin, hands off Ukraine!"
Of potentially even greater concern than Russia's seizure of the Crimea are eastern swathes of the country, where most of the ethnic Ukrainians speak Russian as a native language.
Those areas saw violent protests on Saturday, with pro-Moscow demonstrators hoisting flags at government buildings and calling for Russia to defend them. Kiev said the protests were manufactured by Russia, accusing Moscow of sending hundreds of its citizens across the border to stage them.
Putin's declaration that he has the right to invade his neighbor - for which he quickly received the unanimous approval of his senate - brought the prospect of war to a country of 46 million people on the ramparts of central Europe.
"President Obama expressed his deep concern over Russia's clear violation of Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity, which is a breach of international law," the White House said after the leaders spoke for 90 minutes on Saturday.
Ukraine has appealed for help to NATO, and directly to Britain and the United States, as co-signatories with Moscow to a 1994 accord guaranteeing Ukraine's security after the breakup of the Soviet Union.
NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen accused Russia of threatening peace and security in Europe before NATO ambassadors met in Brussels to discuss their next steps.
Washington has proposed sending monitors to Ukraine under the flags of the United Nations or Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, bodies where Moscow would have a veto.
So far, the Western response has been largely symbolic. Obama and other leaders suspended plans to attend a G8 summit in Sochi, where Putin has just finished staging his $50 billion winter Olympic games. Some countries recalled ambassadors.
"This is probably the most dangerous situation in Europe since the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968," said a Western official. "Realistically, we have to assume the Crimea is in Russian hands. The challenge now is to deter Russia from taking over the Russian-speaking east of Ukraine."
Ukraine's tiny armed forces would be no match against the might of its superpower neighbor. Britain's International Institute of Strategic Studies estimates Kiev has fewer than 130,000 troops under arms, with planes barely ready to fly and few spare parts for a single submarine.
Russia, by contrast, has spent billions under Putin to upgrade and modernize the capabilities of forces that were dilapidated after the breakup of the Soviet Union. Moscow's special units are now seen as equals of the best in the world.
In Crimea, Ukraine's tiny contingent made no attempt to oppose the Russians, who bore no insignia on their uniforms but drove vehicles with Russian plates and seized government buildings, airports and other locations in the past three days. Kiev said its troops were encircled at least three places.
Igor Mamchev, a Ukrainian navy colonel at a small base near the regional capital Simferopol, told Ukraine's Channel 5 television a truckload of Russian troops had arrived at his checkpoint and ordered him to surrender.
"I replied that, as I am a member of the armed forces of Ukraine, under orders of the Ukrainian navy, there could be no discussion of disarmament. In case of any attempt to enter the military base, we will use all means, up to lethal force.
"We are military people, who have given our oath to the people of Ukraine and will carry out our duty until the end."
Dmytro Delyatytskiy, commander of Ukrainian marines barricaded into a base in the Crimean port of Feodosia, told the same television station by telephone he had refused a Russian demand that his troops give up weapons by 10 a.m.
"We have orders," he said. "We are preparing our defenses."
Elsewhere on the occupied peninsula, the Russian forces appeared to be assuming a lower profile on Sunday after the pro-Moscow Crimean leader announced overnight that the situation was now "normalized". Russians had vanished from outside a small Ukrainian guard post in the port of Balaclava that they had surrounded with armored vehicles on Saturday.
A barricade in front of the Crimean regional parliament had been dismantled. A single armored vehicle with two soldiers drove through the main square, where people snapped photos.
Putin's justification - the need to protect Russian citizens - was the same as he used to launch a 2008 invasion of Georgia, where Russian forces seized two breakaway regions.
In Russia, state controlled media portray Yanukovich's removal as a coup by dangerous extremists funded by the West and there has been little sign of dissent with that line.
Russian officials have repeatedly described Ukraine's Russian speakers - some of whom have Russian passports - as facing urgent danger. Itar-Tass quoted Russian border guards as saying 675,000 people had fled Ukraine for Russia in the past two months and there were signs of a "humanitarian catastrophe".
Putin told Obama "there are real threats to the life and health of Russian citizens and compatriots on Ukrainian territory". Moscow reserved the right to intervene on behalf of Russian speakers anywhere they were threatened, Putin added, according to the Kremlin's readout of the phone call.
So far there has been no sign of Russian military action in Ukraine outside Crimea, but Kiev officials accused Moscow of being behind a pattern of violent protests in other eastern cities as a pretext to launch a wider invasion.
Pro-Moscow demonstrators flew Russian flags on Saturday at government buildings in the cities of Kharkiv, Donetsk, Odessa and Dnipropetrovsk. In places they clashed with anti-Russian protesters and guards trying to defend the buildings.
Ukrainian parliamentarian Hrygory Nemyriya, a spokesman to foreign journalists for the new authorities, said the pro-Moscow marchers were sent from Russia. He described a pattern of "Russian citizens in Ukrainian provinces orchestrating the illegal seizure of government buildings".
The worst violence took place in Kharkiv, where scores of people were hurt on Saturday when thousands of pro-Russian activists, some brandishing axe handles and chains, stormed the regional government and fought pitched battles with a smaller number of supporters of Ukraine's new authorities.
In Donetsk, Yanukovich's home city, the local government has called for a referendum on the region's status, a move Kiev says is illegal. A pro-Russian "self-defense" unit, which staged a big protest on Saturday, scheduled another for Sunday.
Posted by Merchant of Venom at 5:29 PM
Saturday, March 1, 2014
As a shareholder and customer this article really pisses me off! Tim Cook's job as CEO is to keep the shareholders and customers happy. For starters I had to overlook the fact he's gay… and now he's going to preach to me about global warming? He recently lambasted Arizona over their anti-gay bill, which I thought was another bad (no-win) decision by Republicans but that's another story.
Mr Cook stay the hell out of politics! As CEO you should be more concerned why Apple stock has plummeted from 704 to 526. What's next…if he had a son he would call him Climate Change?
We own 2 MBP's, 2 iPhones, and 1 iPad. They just lost one loyal customer. Now with this utterly stupid ass comment he just effectively alienated 50% of the customers, and more importantly, the shareholders of Apple stock. Nice going Tim.
Whether you believe in global warming or not he should have kept is big mouth shut. My take… If global warming were real they wouldn't had to modify the name to climate change so it could "embrace" all contingencies coming and going no matter how absurd.
Tim Cook to Climate Change Deniers: Get Out of Apple Stock
|Nice going Tim. Stock will probably dip below 500 and half the customers will go to Samsung.|
Apple CEO Tim Cook has not been known for taking a strong stand on, well, just about anything. Caution has been the watchword of Cook's three-year tenure at the top of the world's wealthiest technology company. So far his legacy is largely comprised of incremental improvements in established products, tweaks to the supply chain, and more corporate transparency.
But Cook does care about the environment — and that became very clear on Friday, when the CEO had a terse exchange with an anti-environmental lobbying group.
Apple has made vast improvements in its use of renewable energy since Cook took over from Steve Jobs. More than three-quarters of the company's facilities worldwide, including all of its data centers and its Cupertino HQ, now run on solar, wind, geothermal or hydro power, up from about a quarter under Jobs. Last year, Cook hired Lisa Jackson, former head of the EPA, to lead the company's sustainability efforts.
None of that sits well with folks who don't think climate change is a big deal — such as the National Center for Public Policy Research, a conservative think tank based in Washington, D.C. and an Apple shareholder. At the company's annual shareholder meeting, the NCPPR urged Cook and the board to pledge that Apple wouldn't pursue any more environmental initiatives that didn't improve its bottom line.
"We object to increased government control over company products and operations, and likewise mandatory environmental standards," wrote NCPPR general counsel Justin Danhof in a statement before the meeting. "This is something [Apple] should be actively fighting, not preparing surrender."
Cook's response was blistering. First of all, he insisted, environmental efforts also make economic sense. Even so, "we do a lot of things for reasons besides profit motive," the CEO said. "We want to leave the world better than we found it."
Anyone who had a problem with that? They should sell their Apple shares. "Get out of the stock," Cook suggested. Danhof's proposal was voted down by shareholders.
It's a measure of the strength of Apple's position that Cook can afford to irritate such a large and powerful shareholder on a matter of principle. But it also offers hope for environmentalists frustrated by the lack of progress on climate change that — in Apple's drought-ridden home state, at least — now seems all too real. Greenpeace recently applauded Cook for working to reduce the number of "conflict minerals" in Apple products. Now it has one more reason to cheer.
Yeah...and if this f------ drought-ridden home state, was up to their eyeballs in water they'd blame it on climate change.
Posted by Merchant of Venom at 10:21 AM