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 91 
 on: Oct 18, 2014, 05:56 AM 
Started by Rose Marcus - Last post by Rad
Pope Faces Key Test with Vote on Divorcees, Gays

by Naharnet Newsdesk
18 October 2014, 09:03

Pope Francis was set to sort his allies from his enemies Saturday with a Vatican vote on a document drafted at the end of a fierce two-week debate over opening the Catholic Church's doors to remarried divorcees and gays.

The vote and accompanying message to the world's Catholics will close a special synod of bishops from around the world which has seen conservatives clash publicly with liberals over a Francis-backed drive to reform the Church by softening its approach to sinners.

A preliminary report on Monday made waves around the world by suggesting the Church should reach out to homosexuals, who have "gifts and qualities to offer the Christian community", outraging traditionalists who had to be reminded by the Vatican that it was a work in progress.

A fresh report Thursday summed up the reactions of 10 working groups of bishops, which mixed declarations of respect for homosexual people with fierce insistence that any opening up to sinners risked implying the Church sanctioned their behavior.

The final document, which will go to a vote, is expected to take into account at least part of the long list of amendments proposed by the bishops, but will be written by a drafting committee made up of perceived progressives appointed by Francis himself.

The fallout in the corridors of power, which Boston Globe Vatican expert John Allen described as "like a daytime soap opera", has left religious watchers wondering just how close the vote will be -- if the document passes at all.

"The Synod splits over gays and divorcees: there's a risk of an anti-pope vote," read a headline by Franca Giansoldati, Vatican expert for Italy's Il Messaggero daily, which described the vote as "a nasty test for Pope Francis."

"The risks are high. If the amendments are not inserted in the text the biggest surprise could come from the vote. The majority, for now, do not seem to be in favor -- and the count could prove fatal," she said.

- Possible 'revolution' -

Francis has called for the Church to take a more merciful approach to unwed mothers, remarried divorcees and gay people, famously saying of homosexual people, "Who am I to judge?"

German cardinal Walter Kasper, an ally of the pope's who has been pushing for reform, has said he believes the "majority" of those taking part in the synod are open to change.

But critical bishops have said the initial document placed "too much emphasis on the problems facing the family" and should instead focus on the positive aspects of lives lived according to the rules of the Church.

"Many bishops have asked that the document be thoroughly re-written. There have been such a number of negative reactions that the risk is it won't pass the vote unless its heavily revised," Marco Tosatti, who writes for La Stampa's Vatican Insider, told AFP.

"However, such are the number of proposed amendments that it would be extraordinary if it was not overhauled," he said.

The vote will reflect the attitude of the top rungs of the Church towards reform -- and ultimately towards Francis's rule, which has been coloured since his election in March last year by a determination to show the more humane side of the centuries-old institution.

This synod will be followed by a year of further consultations and a follow-up questionnaire will be sent out to diocese around the world. A second, larger synod will then be held in October 2015.

After that, the results will be handed to the 77-year-old Argentinian pope, who will have the final say in outlining the Church's stance on family matters.

Adolfo Nicolas, superior general of the Society of Jesus -- to which Francis belongs -- told the I.Media religious news agency to watch out for a possible "revolution" a year from now.

Source: Agence France Presse

 92 
 on: Oct 18, 2014, 05:52 AM 
Started by Steve - Last post by Rad
‘Putin is destroying Russia. Why base his regime on corruption?’ asks Navalny

Russia’s opposition leader and anti-corruption campaigner, held under house arrest, says president is using war to stay in power

Shaun Walker in Moscow
The Guardian, Friday 17 October 2014 18.04 BST   
      
High in a dilapidated Soviet-era tower block miles from the centre of Moscow, the door opens to a small, tidy flat. It belongs to Alexei Navalny, once touted as the most potent threat to the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, to emerge in Russia in recent years.

Since February, the politician and activist has been under house arrest. A voracious social-media user with a talent for 140-character attacks on the Kremlin, the 38-year-old is banned from using the telephone or internet, though his wife can use them. He can only leave the confines of his flat when a police van drives him to hearings of his latest court case.

In a recent relaxation of the terms of his arrest, he is now allowed to speak to people other than his relatives, meaning that for the first time in six months, his colleagues and friends can visit him. He is also able to receive journalists, and the Guardian is the first of the international press to see him since his house arrest began.

Dressed in a blue T-shirt and jeans, he pads barefoot through the small flat into the kitchen, where his wife, Yulia, pours tea. A tagging bracelet around his ankle ensures that if he leaves the flat, the police will be alerted immediately.

“I’m really sick of sitting at home,” he says, with a wry smile. In the corner of the living room is a cross trainer, the only way he can get exercise. “But I’ve had experience of real arrest for up to 15 days several times, and it’s much easier to put up with house arrest when you understand what the alternative is.”

Navalny was the great hope of the wave of street protests that shook Moscow in 2011-2012, with many opposition-minded Russians confidently predicting he would become the next president of Russia.

Those protests petered out after a vicious crackdown saw court cases against its leaders and some ordinary protesters, but Navalny is still the most worrying opposition figure for the Kremlin. Some uneasy liberals point to his nationalist streak and see in him a charismatic but dangerous demagogue.

What is clear is that he is able to win support among voters: despite smears on state television and little access to any normal type of campaigning, he managed to win 27% of the vote in last autumn’s Moscow mayoral elections.

Since then, a lot has happened, notably the annexation of Crimea and the fighting in east Ukraine. A summit in Milan on Friday attended by Putin, Ukraine’s president, Petro Poroshenko, and other European leaders including the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, failed to reinforce the faltering ceasefire.

Despite the fact that many Russian nationalists support the separatists in east Ukraine, Navalny feels Putin has laid the groundwork for his regime’s eventual collapse.

“There’s a lot of commentary now that Putin has shown he’s not about money, and about enriching his businessmen buddies, but he has decided to build a great nation, a great Russia or to resurrect the Soviet Union,” says Navalny, who first became known for his anti-corruption investigations, unveiling the secret mansions and foreign accounts of Putin cronies and government officials. “I think in reality it’s all much more simple. Putin has resorted to the method that various leaders have used for centuries: using war or military actions to solve internal problems and boost ratings. That happens even in democratic countries – look at Bill Clinton in Yugoslavia.”

Unlike most of the liberal opposition, who have never found a common language with ordinary Russians, there was always a sense in the Kremlin that Navalny could be dangerous; a fear that his nationalism and charisma could appeal not only to the Moscow hipsters, but equally to the provincial masses, tired of seeing rampant corruption blight the country’s governance.

Those in power have long been split about how to deal with the troublesome campaigner; some believe he should be locked up, others think he should be free but closely monitored. For a while in 2013, it looked as if an allegation of embezzling funds from a timber company in the city of Kirov would put him in prison; but he was released after a surprise about-face, given a suspended sentence, and allowed to run in Moscow’s mayoral elections.

His good showing there clearly spooked some of those in power. A second court case, based on claims that Navalny and his brother defrauded a Russian subsidiary of the French chain Yves Rocher, began. In February he was put under house arrest, and the case has been rumbling on since.

The strategy for now seems to be to shut him up without causing too much of a scandal. To a large extent, it has worked. There has been little outcry over the fact that he is under house arrest – after all, he is not in jail – but at the same time, working on his anti-corruption investigations has become impossible and he has largely disappeared from public discourse.

With everything else happening in Russia, even the hearings of the second court case receive just a fraction of attention that the Kirov case received. Navalny says about 30 prosecution witnesses have been called so far, and “all of them ended up testifying in our favour – it’s stupid and completely absurd.”

He puts the strange zigzagging in the case down to the fact that nobody lower down in the system knows what to do with him.

“Obviously it will be a guilty verdict, but what the sentence will be can only be decided by one man, and that man has a lot of stuff on his plate besides me at the moment. He’s fighting a war against Obama, against the west, against God knows what else.”

The authorities continue to keep Navalny on his toes, and there is always the threat of new criminal cases. Sometimes the charges appear so flimsy they veer into the realm of the absurd. Over the summer, his flat was raided by investigators who seized a picture. The picture had been drawn by a street artist in the town of Vladimir, and been on display on a public wall. Someone pilfered it, and gave it to Navalny as a present.

“The artist has given interviews everywhere saying he never sells his art, that he doesn’t care that it was taken, that he doesn’t want there to be a court case, but they just ignore him – the case exists. From the case materials we can see that FSB [security services] generals are working on the case. They have six top investigators working on it!” Employees of Navalny’s anti-corruption foundation have been questioned, searches carried out, computers and telephones seized.

Indeed, Navalny is such a toxic figure in Russia that any association with him can lead to trouble. In the Kirov court case, a former business partner was hauled into the dock alongside the politician; his brother Oleg is also on trial in the current case.

“That’s one of the most unpleasant parts of my work, because everything that happens around me is basically one giant court case, which spreads out to engulf the people that are close to me,” he says.

It was hinted at several times that he would be better off leaving the country, but he decided to stay. Is he really more use to the opposition cause under house arrest, or potentially in jail, than he would be from abroad?

“Why should I leave? I have not committed any crime. You can agree or disagree with my political position but it’s absolutely legal. And along with me, 90% of Russians think corruption is high, and 80% of Russians think we should bring criminal cases against corrupt officials. It’s also an important matter of trust. If I want people to trust me, then I have to share the risks with them and stay here. How can I call on them to take part in protests and so on if they are risking things and I am not?”

He says it is pointless to make predictions either about his own fate or about how much longer Putin will be in power. Navalny has set up a political party, although it is not able to contest elections, and says he still harbours ambitions that one day he will be actively involved in politics, “including fighting for the top job”.

As for how Putin will finally end up leaving the Kremlin – through a split in the elite, a violent revolution or a democratic transition – Navalny believes one thing is for certain: “In Russia, it will not be elections that provide a change of government.”
Navalny in his own words

On Mikhail Khodorkovsky, formerly owner of Yukos, Russia’s biggest oil company, who was jailed in 2003, released in 2013 and now lives abroad:

“Perhaps if he had stayed an oligarch, I would have had a lot of points of dispute with him, particularly on the rights of minority shareholders, which I worked on as a lawyer. Yukos was famous for various corporate battles. But that was 10 years ago, and discussing it is pointless. I don’t see any position that Khodorkovsky has now that I don’t share.”

On Putin’s reaction to Ukraine:

“Out of nowhere, without any warning, boom: suddenly a genuine, anti-criminal revolution. This was a terrible blow for Putin, a hundred times more painful that the Georgian events, than [former president Mikheil] Saakashvili and his anti-corruption reforms. He cannot allow this in Ukraine. So I think one of his strategic goals in the coming years will be to do absolutely everything to undermine the Ukrainian state, to ensure that no reforms work, so that everything ends in failure.”

On the consequences of Russian actions in Ukraine:

“Putin likes to speak about the ‘Russian world’ but he is actually making it smaller. In Belarus, they sing anti-Putin songs at football stadiums; in Ukraine they simply hate us. In Ukraine now, there are no politicians who don’t have extreme anti-Russian positions. Being anti-Russian is the key to success now in Ukraine, and that’s our fault.”

On what he would ask Putin

“I would be interested to understand his motivations, particularly on Ukraine. Because he is destroying our country. It will all collapse, and surely he can’t not understand that it’s all going to collapse.

“If he wants to be an authoritarian leader, then that’s one thing. But why doesn’t he want to be a Russian Lee Kuan Yew? Why does he want to base his authoritarian regime on corruption? There are other ways of doing it.”

On finding the ‘Putin account’:

“I think there are probably a number of numbered accounts in Swiss banks where money is kept that Putin considers his personal money. But in the main it is all kept by nominal holders, like [head of Russian Railways Vladimir] Yakunin or the Rotenbergs [two billionaire brothers, who are childhood friends of Putin]. The money is communal.

“If intelligence services really wanted to find Putin’s money there would be ways of doing so, but all we can do is work with open sources and the information we get from insiders. We can’t show up at a Swiss bank and seize documents or analyse transfers. Corruption in Russia is so open that even we can find a huge amount. But to find Putin’s accounts, that’s beyond our capabilities.”

On how he spends his time under house arrest

“I’m reading a huge number of books; basically doing what everyone dreams of doing but never has time for. I’m watching the ‘250 best films ever’ one by one. All this American nonsense like The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, and other old films.”

***************

Making Merkel Wait, Finding Time for Truffles

By JIM YARDLEY and DAVID M. HERSZENHORN
OCT. 17, 2014
IHT

MILAN — He was at it again this week.

First, President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia stopped in Belgrade for a military parade evocative of the Cold War. He questioned Kosovo’s sovereignty, took a swipe at President Obama in the Serbian news media and reached a summit meeting in Milan so far behind schedule that he was hours late for a private evening meeting with Europe’s most powerful leader, Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany.

Nor was Mr. Putin done. When he left Ms. Merkel at roughly 2 a.m. Friday, his entourage streaked through Milan to the home of his friend and Italy’s former prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi. The men talked and enjoyed truffles until about 4 a.m., whereupon Mr. Putin departed, leaving him barely four hours before he joined European leaders, including Ukraine’s president, Petro O. Poroshenko, for a pivotal breakfast meeting.

For Mr. Putin, the helter-skelter blitz through Milan was only the latest demonstration of an unpredictable, often theatrical, diplomatic style that he has employed during the Ukraine crisis to throw his rivals off balance. This time he kept Ms. Merkel waiting late at night. Last month he upstaged President Obama on the eve of a NATO summit meeting focused on Russian aggression when he unexpectedly announced a seven-point peace plan for Ukraine — written on the back of a napkin as he flew for a state visit in Mongolia.

President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia said that he and President Petro O. Poroshenko of Ukraine had agreed on the terms of natural gas supplies “at least for the winter period.”

“He loves you and me and everybody else looking at him and trying to figure him out,” said Nina L. Khrushcheva, a professor of international affairs at the New School in New York and the great-granddaughter of Nikita S. Khrushchev. “He’s an exhibitionist.” She added, “He pushes the envelope all the time, and he gets away with it.”

This week, his presence in Western Europe for the first time in four months and the rare occasion of a face-to-face meeting with Mr. Poroshenko — coupled with the bite of Western economic sanctions and falling oil prices — raised expectations among some European leaders that the Russian president might be poised to deliver a major compromise in the Ukraine crisis.

But if progress was made on some issues, including a bitter and longstanding dispute between Ukraine and Russia on gas pricing, Mr. Putin showed little appetite to deliver any major breakthroughs. His entrance upstaged the array of global leaders who had gathered in Milan for an Asia-Europe summit meeting, and the Ukraine crisis dimmed attention on subjects like the Ebola outbreak or climate change.

If European leaders were expecting him to be humbled, they had another thing coming. Not only did he exude his usual confidence, but Mr. Putin even told an off-color joke about the anatomical difference between a grandpa and a grandma at a late afternoon news conference.

After the breakfast meeting, Ms. Merkel and Prime Minister David Cameron of Britain expressed frustration, as Mr. Putin apparently rebuffed their entreaties that he pressure pro-Russian rebels to put off local elections they have scheduled for November in defiance of the Ukrainian government, which has set nationwide local elections for Dec. 7.

To Mr. Cameron, Mr. Putin had not yet budged, or budged enough, on any of the contested issues. “And if those things don’t happen, then clearly the European Union, Britain included, must keep in place the sanctions and the pressure so that we don’t have this kind of conflict in our continent,” Mr. Cameron said. (Mr. Putin’s spokesman, Dmitri S. Peskov, countered by telling Russian reporters in Milan that some European leaders were obstinate and had refused to take an “objective approach.”)

“There’s a ‘Waiting for Godot’ quality to Western analysis,” said Matthew Rojansky, a Russia expert at the Kennan Institute, a research organization in Washington. “It’s always waiting for Putin to blink, to be cowed or shamed or humbled.”

Mr. Rojansky continued: “He stands for Russian resurgence. Ask yourself: When was Peter the Great humble? When was Catherine humble? That’s not part of the role that they play.”

If Mr. Putin is easy to caricature, with his macho photo ops, posing shirtless in the Russian wilderness, for instance, his style underpins a method. Even with Russia’s economy steadily grinding downward, with a recession looming and the ruble hitting new lows almost daily, Mr. Putin is wildly popular at home, using the state press to stir up a nationalistic fervor that has sown unease in the West, but that has created broad public support for his Ukraine policies within Russia.

Just as he introduced his peace plan on a napkin last month, Mr. Putin set the stage for Milan with a visit on Sunday to Sochi, home of the recent Winter Olympics. There, he was watching the final laps of Russia’s first Formula One Grand Prix, the second of three major sporting events that Mr. Putin has personally helped organize, when his aides abruptly announced that he had ordered an end to “military exercises” in western Russia and was pulling back more than 17,000 troops from along the border with Ukraine.

The timing was impeccable, even if Western leaders remained skeptical that the realities on the Ukrainian border had really changed.

Mr. Putin has apparently calculated that European outrage over Ukraine has limits, given economic ties between Europe and Russia, as well as European dependence on Russian energy. He could, however, face a tougher reception when he travels next month to a Group of 20 summit meeting in Brisbane, Australia, a country that lost 28 citizens in the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over eastern Ukraine.

On Friday, the area where Mr. Putin hinted at the most wiggle room was on the gas dispute, where he said Russia was prepared to compromise, to a degree, though he pointedly noted that Russia would no longer sell gas on credit to Ukraine.

Mr. Putin also understands that Europe is far from unified on sanctions and on how hard a line to take with the Kremlin. In Serbia, a country with aspirations of joining the European Union, Mr. Putin was greeted like a Roman proconsul, cheered by throngs during a military parade and awarded the Order of the Republic, Serbia’s highest honor.

Aware of Serbia’s own diplomatic balancing act, Mr. Putin said nothing during his visit that would embarrass Serbian leaders before their European partners, restricting himself to remarks about the historic role played by the Soviet Union in defeating fascism in World War II.

Yet Mr. Putin’s showmanship appears to be wearing thin with Europe’s leaders, particularly the most important one, Ms. Merkel. Early in the Ukraine crisis, she was seen potentially as a trusted broker, herself a child of Soviet East Germany, someone with a genuine understanding of the Russian perspective. But as Mr. Putin has repeatedly finessed or ignored commitments on Ukraine, Ms. Merkel has become increasingly antagonistic, supporting sanctions and saying recently that they could be left in place for a very long time.

Mr. Putin’s tardy arrival for their Thursday night meeting probably did not help. (“And this is a woman he likes; this is a woman he actually respects,” Ms. Khrushcheva said.) He came to her hotel about 11 p.m. on Thursday and remained for more than two hours. Photographs showed the two leaders seated across a table with aides. When he later arrived at Mr. Berlusconi’s apartment, it was apparent that his meeting with Ms. Merkel had not gone particularly well.

“He didn’t say that progress was made,” said Valentino Valentini, a longtime aide to Mr. Berlusconi who was present for their meeting. “The impression was that their positions were still far apart.”

That Mr. Putin would make time for Mr. Berlusconi — especially at 2 a.m. — might seem odd, though the two men do have a colorful history, vacationing together and becoming close friends. “Every time Putin comes through, he comes and visits,” Mr. Valentini noted.

For Mr. Berlusconi, who remains a political force in Italy, if a diminished one, the meeting with Mr. Putin is a political bonus. Il Giornale, a Milan-based newspaper owned by Mr. Berlusconi, wrote that the meeting proved “the true interlocutor with the Russian president is the Cavalier,” alluding to one of Mr. Berlusconi’s nicknames.

Mr. Valentini denied the two men had spent an evening in revelry, as has often been rumored of their past meetings. “At 2 in the morning,” he said, “I’m afraid it wasn’t too much of a wild party.”

 93 
 on: Oct 18, 2014, 05:51 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Rad

‘Putin is destroying Russia. Why base his regime on corruption?’ asks Navalny

Russia’s opposition leader and anti-corruption campaigner, held under house arrest, says president is using war to stay in power

Shaun Walker in Moscow
The Guardian, Friday 17 October 2014 18.04 BST   
     
High in a dilapidated Soviet-era tower block miles from the centre of Moscow, the door opens to a small, tidy flat. It belongs to Alexei Navalny, once touted as the most potent threat to the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, to emerge in Russia in recent years.

Since February, the politician and activist has been under house arrest. A voracious social-media user with a talent for 140-character attacks on the Kremlin, the 38-year-old is banned from using the telephone or internet, though his wife can use them. He can only leave the confines of his flat when a police van drives him to hearings of his latest court case.

In a recent relaxation of the terms of his arrest, he is now allowed to speak to people other than his relatives, meaning that for the first time in six months, his colleagues and friends can visit him. He is also able to receive journalists, and the Guardian is the first of the international press to see him since his house arrest began.

Dressed in a blue T-shirt and jeans, he pads barefoot through the small flat into the kitchen, where his wife, Yulia, pours tea. A tagging bracelet around his ankle ensures that if he leaves the flat, the police will be alerted immediately.

“I’m really sick of sitting at home,” he says, with a wry smile. In the corner of the living room is a cross trainer, the only way he can get exercise. “But I’ve had experience of real arrest for up to 15 days several times, and it’s much easier to put up with house arrest when you understand what the alternative is.”

Navalny was the great hope of the wave of street protests that shook Moscow in 2011-2012, with many opposition-minded Russians confidently predicting he would become the next president of Russia.

Those protests petered out after a vicious crackdown saw court cases against its leaders and some ordinary protesters, but Navalny is still the most worrying opposition figure for the Kremlin. Some uneasy liberals point to his nationalist streak and see in him a charismatic but dangerous demagogue.

What is clear is that he is able to win support among voters: despite smears on state television and little access to any normal type of campaigning, he managed to win 27% of the vote in last autumn’s Moscow mayoral elections.

Since then, a lot has happened, notably the annexation of Crimea and the fighting in east Ukraine. A summit in Milan on Friday attended by Putin, Ukraine’s president, Petro Poroshenko, and other European leaders including the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, failed to reinforce the faltering ceasefire.

Despite the fact that many Russian nationalists support the separatists in east Ukraine, Navalny feels Putin has laid the groundwork for his regime’s eventual collapse.

“There’s a lot of commentary now that Putin has shown he’s not about money, and about enriching his businessmen buddies, but he has decided to build a great nation, a great Russia or to resurrect the Soviet Union,” says Navalny, who first became known for his anti-corruption investigations, unveiling the secret mansions and foreign accounts of Putin cronies and government officials. “I think in reality it’s all much more simple. Putin has resorted to the method that various leaders have used for centuries: using war or military actions to solve internal problems and boost ratings. That happens even in democratic countries – look at Bill Clinton in Yugoslavia.”

Unlike most of the liberal opposition, who have never found a common language with ordinary Russians, there was always a sense in the Kremlin that Navalny could be dangerous; a fear that his nationalism and charisma could appeal not only to the Moscow hipsters, but equally to the provincial masses, tired of seeing rampant corruption blight the country’s governance.

Those in power have long been split about how to deal with the troublesome campaigner; some believe he should be locked up, others think he should be free but closely monitored. For a while in 2013, it looked as if an allegation of embezzling funds from a timber company in the city of Kirov would put him in prison; but he was released after a surprise about-face, given a suspended sentence, and allowed to run in Moscow’s mayoral elections.

His good showing there clearly spooked some of those in power. A second court case, based on claims that Navalny and his brother defrauded a Russian subsidiary of the French chain Yves Rocher, began. In February he was put under house arrest, and the case has been rumbling on since.

The strategy for now seems to be to shut him up without causing too much of a scandal. To a large extent, it has worked. There has been little outcry over the fact that he is under house arrest – after all, he is not in jail – but at the same time, working on his anti-corruption investigations has become impossible and he has largely disappeared from public discourse.

With everything else happening in Russia, even the hearings of the second court case receive just a fraction of attention that the Kirov case received. Navalny says about 30 prosecution witnesses have been called so far, and “all of them ended up testifying in our favour – it’s stupid and completely absurd.”

He puts the strange zigzagging in the case down to the fact that nobody lower down in the system knows what to do with him.

“Obviously it will be a guilty verdict, but what the sentence will be can only be decided by one man, and that man has a lot of stuff on his plate besides me at the moment. He’s fighting a war against Obama, against the west, against God knows what else.”

The authorities continue to keep Navalny on his toes, and there is always the threat of new criminal cases. Sometimes the charges appear so flimsy they veer into the realm of the absurd. Over the summer, his flat was raided by investigators who seized a picture. The picture had been drawn by a street artist in the town of Vladimir, and been on display on a public wall. Someone pilfered it, and gave it to Navalny as a present.

“The artist has given interviews everywhere saying he never sells his art, that he doesn’t care that it was taken, that he doesn’t want there to be a court case, but they just ignore him – the case exists. From the case materials we can see that FSB [security services] generals are working on the case. They have six top investigators working on it!” Employees of Navalny’s anti-corruption foundation have been questioned, searches carried out, computers and telephones seized.

Indeed, Navalny is such a toxic figure in Russia that any association with him can lead to trouble. In the Kirov court case, a former business partner was hauled into the dock alongside the politician; his brother Oleg is also on trial in the current case.

“That’s one of the most unpleasant parts of my work, because everything that happens around me is basically one giant court case, which spreads out to engulf the people that are close to me,” he says.

It was hinted at several times that he would be better off leaving the country, but he decided to stay. Is he really more use to the opposition cause under house arrest, or potentially in jail, than he would be from abroad?

“Why should I leave? I have not committed any crime. You can agree or disagree with my political position but it’s absolutely legal. And along with me, 90% of Russians think corruption is high, and 80% of Russians think we should bring criminal cases against corrupt officials. It’s also an important matter of trust. If I want people to trust me, then I have to share the risks with them and stay here. How can I call on them to take part in protests and so on if they are risking things and I am not?”

He says it is pointless to make predictions either about his own fate or about how much longer Putin will be in power. Navalny has set up a political party, although it is not able to contest elections, and says he still harbours ambitions that one day he will be actively involved in politics, “including fighting for the top job”.

As for how Putin will finally end up leaving the Kremlin – through a split in the elite, a violent revolution or a democratic transition – Navalny believes one thing is for certain: “In Russia, it will not be elections that provide a change of government.”
Navalny in his own words

On Mikhail Khodorkovsky, formerly owner of Yukos, Russia’s biggest oil company, who was jailed in 2003, released in 2013 and now lives abroad:

“Perhaps if he had stayed an oligarch, I would have had a lot of points of dispute with him, particularly on the rights of minority shareholders, which I worked on as a lawyer. Yukos was famous for various corporate battles. But that was 10 years ago, and discussing it is pointless. I don’t see any position that Khodorkovsky has now that I don’t share.”

On Putin’s reaction to Ukraine:

“Out of nowhere, without any warning, boom: suddenly a genuine, anti-criminal revolution. This was a terrible blow for Putin, a hundred times more painful that the Georgian events, than [former president Mikheil] Saakashvili and his anti-corruption reforms. He cannot allow this in Ukraine. So I think one of his strategic goals in the coming years will be to do absolutely everything to undermine the Ukrainian state, to ensure that no reforms work, so that everything ends in failure.”

On the consequences of Russian actions in Ukraine:

“Putin likes to speak about the ‘Russian world’ but he is actually making it smaller. In Belarus, they sing anti-Putin songs at football stadiums; in Ukraine they simply hate us. In Ukraine now, there are no politicians who don’t have extreme anti-Russian positions. Being anti-Russian is the key to success now in Ukraine, and that’s our fault.”

On what he would ask Putin

“I would be interested to understand his motivations, particularly on Ukraine. Because he is destroying our country. It will all collapse, and surely he can’t not understand that it’s all going to collapse.

“If he wants to be an authoritarian leader, then that’s one thing. But why doesn’t he want to be a Russian Lee Kuan Yew? Why does he want to base his authoritarian regime on corruption? There are other ways of doing it.”

On finding the ‘Putin account’:

“I think there are probably a number of numbered accounts in Swiss banks where money is kept that Putin considers his personal money. But in the main it is all kept by nominal holders, like [head of Russian Railways Vladimir] Yakunin or the Rotenbergs [two billionaire brothers, who are childhood friends of Putin]. The money is communal.

“If intelligence services really wanted to find Putin’s money there would be ways of doing so, but all we can do is work with open sources and the information we get from insiders. We can’t show up at a Swiss bank and seize documents or analyse transfers. Corruption in Russia is so open that even we can find a huge amount. But to find Putin’s accounts, that’s beyond our capabilities.”

On how he spends his time under house arrest

“I’m reading a huge number of books; basically doing what everyone dreams of doing but never has time for. I’m watching the ‘250 best films ever’ one by one. All this American nonsense like The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, and other old films.”

 94 
 on: Oct 18, 2014, 05:45 AM 
Started by Steve - Last post by Rad
The key to defeating superbugs? Designer viruses could be the new antibiotics

The Conversation
17 Oct 2014 at 11:04 ET     

Bacterial infections remain a major threat to human and animal health. Worse still, the catalogue of useful antibiotics is shrinking as pathogens build up resistance to these drugs. There are few promising new drugs in the pipeline, but they may not prove to be enough. Multi-resistant organisms – also called “superbugs” – are on the rise and many predict a gloomy future if nothing is done to fight back.

The answer, some believe, may lie in using engineered bacteriophages – a type of viruses that infects bacteria. Two recent studies, both published in the journal Nature Biotechnology, show a promising alternative to small-molecule drugs that are the mainstay of antibiotics today.
From basic to synthetic biology

Every living organism has evolved simple mechanisms to protect itself from harmful pathogens. This innate immune system can be a passive barrier, blocking anything above a certain size, or an active response that recognises foreign molecules – such as proteins and DNA – then kills them.

In bacteria, an important component of the immune system is composed of a family of proteins, which is tased specifically with breaking down foreign DNA. Each bug produces a set of these proteins that chew the genetic material of viruses and other micro-organism into pieces while leaving its own genome intact.

In vertebrates, a more advanced mechanism – called the adaptive immune system – creates a molecular memory of previous attacks and prepares the organism for the next wave of infection. This is the principle on which vaccines are built. Upon introduction of harmless pathogen fragments, the adaptive immunity will train specialist killer cells that later allow a faster and more specific response upon contact with the virulent agent.
Crisp news

Until recently, people thought bacteria were too simple to possess any sort of adaptive immunity. But in 2007 a group of scientists from the dairy industry showed that bacteria commonly used for the production of cheese and yogurts could be “vaccinated” by exposure to a virus. Two years earlier, others had noticed similarities between repetitive sections in bacterial genomes and the DNA of viruses. These repetitive sequences – called CRISPR for “clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats” – had been known for 20 years but no one could ever explain their function.

With both these observations it quickly became clear that bacteria were introducing viral DNA fragments into their own genome to protect themselves from later attacks. But it took another five years to get the whole picture.

In 2012, a German team identified all the pieces and showed how exactly bacteria transcribe viral DNA into a short RNA – usually the messenger molecule – which guides the DNA-cutting protein called Cas9 and tells it where to chop off viral DNA.

This could have been just one more interesting scientific observation, but in an era of synthetic biology, natural functions can quickly become designers tools. Within two years, many laboratories demonstrated that, by tailoring the short RNA guide, any gene could be cut out from a chromosome using the CRISPR-Cas9 system.

Since that breakthrough, hundreds of scientists have used it to manipulate the genome of bacteria, yeast, worms, crops, fruit flies, zebrafish, mice, rats, or even human cells. Although there are limitations, a procedure that used to take months using previous technologies – such as breeding or genome editing – can now be done in a few weeks.
Bacterial immunity, rewired

Now two teams of scientists, one led by Timothy Lu of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the other by Luciano Marriffini of Rockefeller University, each used the CRISPR-Cas9 system to generate their own version of a prototype technology that turns a bacteria’s defence mechanism into a self-destructing weapon. The main idea behind their work was to use genetic engineering to rewire the bacteria’s immunity to produce “boomerang” antibiotic targets only bugs carrying specific genes.

To do this, their teams built an artificial CRISPR-Cas9 system – that could cut out specific genes – by assembling pieces in the lab before reintroducing it back into bacteria using viruses. Once injected into the bug, the guide RNA recruits the Cas9 protein to target genes that endow the bug antibiotic resistance or other harmful properties by embedding viral DNA. After those genes are removed, the superbug either dies or turns into an harmless one.

Although the method still needs improving to become useful for treatment, its ability to specifically kill pathogens has significant potential because it can limit their spread to other bacteria.

Fighting antibiotic resistance would not be the only application for these engineered viruses. Current small-molecule antibiotics also end up killing other healthy bacteria in our body. The new method would the harmless bugs intact, and thus minimise side-effects of antibiotics use.

In the past few years, the role of friendly microbes living in the human gut has become clearer. Imbalance in the diversity of species and their relative abundance may influence the development of certain conditions – including depression, diabetes and obesity. In this context, engineered viruses that would restore or shape the microbiota (or flora) could greatly improve health.

The Conversation

By Luc Henry, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne

Luc Henry does not work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has no relevant affiliations.

 95 
 on: Oct 18, 2014, 05:42 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Rad
Who would kill a deaf woman’s deaf dog with a gunshot, police want to know

Travis Gettys
RawStory
17 Oct 2014 at 13:48 ET       

Police are investigating the shooting death of a dog in southern Alabama.

Tabitha Venable lost her hearing as a toddler, and she said she was drawn to her dog the moment she met him because the animal was also deaf.

“They were about to put to sleep, because he was deaf, and I told her I wanted to see him, and he probably needed a deaf mom,” Venable said. “So we were paired up. He was a beautiful dog. I had to keep him.”

Venable, of Satsuma, said she taught sign language to the dog, which she named Si.

She noticed Si was lethargic when she returned home recently, and she took him to the veterinarian – where Venable discovered the dog had been shot in the side by a small-caliber firearm.

“I don’t feel safe,” Venable said. “If somebody shot my dog, it could happen to me. I can’t hear a gunshot.”

Si died during emergency surgery, and police are investigating the case as felony animal cruelty.

“He was a good dog,” Venable said. “He was very protective of me.”

Watch this video report posted online

http://www.wkrg.com/video?autoStart=true&topVideoCatNo=default&clipId=10695077

 96 
 on: Oct 17, 2014, 08:14 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Skywalker
Hi Rad and Group,

Sorry I thought the date to give in the assignment was Monday and not today, I haven´t even started so luckily i checked!

I will do my best to give it in on Monday like Kristin.

All the best

 97 
 on: Oct 17, 2014, 07:26 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Rad

Family Chooses Homelessness Over Abandoning Pit Bull

By Jaime Lutz
abcnews

For the past year, the Devia family has chosen to be homeless rather than give up their beloved dog.

Carol Devia, her husband Peter and her teenage sons Leandro and Christoffer own Camilla, a lab mix, and Rocco, a pit bull. Both are sweet, housetrained dogs, according to the family. But only one is keeping them from moving out of a car that they have been living out of in Walnut Creek, Calif.

“When landlords see Camilla, they have no problem with her. Everybody will take her,” Carol Devia said. “But as soon as they see Rocco, they say ‘Oh no.’”

Animal welfare advocates say this is part of a housing crisis for pit bull owners, with some landlords forcing families to choose between a roof over their heads and their beloved pup.

“It’s not uncommon for people to say ‘I can’t take the dog to the shelter where it will be killed,’” said Donna Reynolds, the director of Pit Bull advocacy organization BAD RAP.

“What we’re finding is our inbox is filled with people who say ‘I’m about to go homeless, can you take my dog?’” she added.

The Devia family never expected to be in that situation until Carol and her husband were fired from their newspaper delivery job at the same time last year for a breach of security. Carol Devia said she had nothing to do with the breach and that she was terminated wrongfully.

When the family told their landlord what happened, they were evicted from their apartment, Devia said, noting their savings, credit and stability began dwindling rapidly. Worst of all, she said, they couldn’t find a new place to live that would let them bring Rocco, the kind of dog that slept next to them every night.

“I can’t find a place unless I give up my dog, and everyone tells me to, but I can’t do that,” Devia said. “We’ve had Camilla her whole life and Rocco her whole life.”

The issue went viral last weekend, when the owner of a rescued pit bull took to Craigslist to find out the name of the dog’s former owner, who abandoned her in a Manhattan apartment after being evicted.

The dog was underweight and had a few burns behind her ears in the shape of cigarette burns, according to the post. But Alex de Campi — the New Hampshire mother who wrote the post — said she has sympathy for the previous owner of the pit bull she calls “Cathy.”

“These people could have found her on the street and taken her in,” de Campi told ABC News. “She could have had three or four owners. She’s not hand shy in any way, meaning she’s not afraid of my hand, which would be an indication of abuse.”

The reason she wrote the post, de Campi said, was in hopes of reaching the former owners to let them know that their old dog was safe and loved.

Cathy became “a 65-pound lapdog,” as de Campi put it.

But Rocco was not always a model pit bull, Devia said. One time, when a Dachshund peeked his nose into Devia’s yard, Rocco ran over to the dog and broke his snout, Devia recalled.

After the incident, the family had to go to court, take a class, and pay $500 for three years for a special dog license on top of a $200 per year insurance plan, she said.

The dog has been well-behaved ever since, Devia said, especially since he began going to classes at BAD RAP.

“We’ve noticed a huge difference in his behavior,” she said. “He’s like a totally different dog. He wants to meet everybody and lick everybody.”

For now, Devia said her family spends a lot of time driving back and forth between wooded areas where the dogs can get exercise and parking lots where they can get Wi-Fi and make food with their Crock-Pot plugged into the cigarette lighter. They’re working new jobs delivering newspapers at night and sleeping in their car during the day, she said.

For families who are struggling to find housing that will accept their dog, Reynolds suggest they ask friends for help, post on Craigslist, and talk to rescue organizations. They can also consider getting an insurance policy on the dog, so any liability doesn’t fall to the landlord ­– though so far, that hasn’t helped the Devia family.

“It was hard in the beginning but then you kind of consign yourself to it and say okay,” Devia said. “I’m alive, I’m working. I hit bottom, so now I’ve been there and now the only place I can go is up.”

 98 
 on: Oct 17, 2014, 07:21 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Rad

Pit bull hailed a hero after saving boy from bees

By Kelsey Watts
KPTV

OREGON CITY, OR

An Oregon City family is calling their pit bull a hero after it saved an 8-year-old boy from a swarm of bees.

On Tuesday evening, a group of kids were playing near a creek down a steep embankment behind their apartment complex when one of the kids stepped on a rotten log, unleashing the swarm of bees.

The kids tried making their way back up the hill toward home for help, but 8-year-old Jesse-Cole Shaver couldn't.

Luckily, that's when "Hades" did her doggone best to help, grabbing Jesse-Cole by the leg of his pants.

"Hades saw me and came and dragged me up to the grass and stopped and let me crawl on her back and took me to my mom," Jesse-Cole told Fox 12.

His mother, who did not want to be identified, says she was in her car when she heard the kids screaming and running up the hill surrounded by bees. She was astonished to see her dog dragging her son to safety, after he'd already been stung at least 24 times.

"A couple of these kids could have gotten really sick or died, I'm sure of it," she told Fox 12.

Her daughter, Jasmine Jones, 14, was stung five times and is allergic to bees, so she ran to grab her EpiPen while a neighbor called 911. Both children were taken to Willamette Falls Hospital for treatment and were released after a few hours.

"Oh, I thank my puppy," their mother added. "I'm so glad we adopted her."

The kids say they won't go back down the trail behind their apartment ever again.

 99 
 on: Oct 17, 2014, 07:14 AM 
Started by Steve - Last post by Rad
Putin Meets Poroshenko, He Says Ukraine Talks 'Good'

by Naharnet Newsdesk
17 October 2014, 16:39

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Friday he had had "good" talks about the Ukraine crisis with his Ukrainian counterpart Petro Poroshenko and EU leaders in Milan.

Asked by journalists how the talks had gone, Putin said simply they were "good", the state news agency TASS reported.

After the meeting ended he was the first to leave, TASS reported.

Ahead of the latest round of talks, Germany's Angela Merkel said there was "no breakthrough yet."

Earlier on Friday, Putin met Poroshenko in Milan in the latest attempt to ease tensions over the simmering conflict in eastern Ukraine.

EU leaders also attended the breakfast meeting at the Milan prefecture building, held amid very sharp differences with Moscow over implementation of a ceasefire and peace accord agreed last month between Kiev and pro-Russian rebels.

Talks between Putin and German Chancellor Angela Merkel that continued into the early hours of Friday morning were said by the Kremlin to have exposed major differences over the roots of the conflict.

"There are still serious differences concerning the origin of Ukraine's internal conflict, as well as the root causes of what is currently happening," Russian news agencies quoted Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov as saying.

A ceasefire, reached on September 5 in Minsk, has repeatedly been violated by both sides.

The EU leaders were also expected to confront Putin over his warnings that gas supplies to western Europe could be disrupted this winter if Russia cuts deliveries to Ukraine, as it has threatened to do if there is no agreement with Kiev over payment.

Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi later said he was "really positive" on the prospects for a solution to the Ukraine conflict.

"In general, I am really positive after this meeting," Renzi said after the talks in Milan which were also attended by the leaders of Britain, France and Germany.

"I hope this spirit (of dialogue) ... will continue," he said, citing a sense of urgency to solve a conflict which has cost more than 3,600 lives.

Source: Agence France Presse

************

Eleven Soldiers 'Missing', 3 Dead in East Ukraine

by Naharnet Newsdesk
17 October 2014, 14:17

Eleven Ukrainian soldiers are missing in action after getting caught in an ambush in the conflict-torn east, while another three were killed in fighting, Kiev's military said Friday.

The latest clashes rocked an already battered ceasefire deal between Kiev and pro-Moscow rebels, as President Petro Poroshenko held key talks with Russian leader Vladimir Putin in Milan.

"Yesterday the fighters from a special forces battalion were going to a checkpoint near the village of Smile (Lugansk region) but came across an ambush," spokesman Vladyslav Seleznyov told Agence France Presse.

"11 soldiers are missing," he said, "Several burnt-out Ukrainian armoured vehicles were found on the site of the battle," he added.

The area near Smile, west of rebel hub Lugansk, has been a flashpoint in the conflict this week. A local pro-Kiev governor said Wednesday that over 100 soldiers were surrounded by a group of rogue rebels that do not answer to the main separatist leadership.

The rogue rebels, Cossacks who are known as the "Donskoy army," do not recognise the truce deal signed on September 5.

Kiev's military also said Friday that three soldiers were killed over the past 24 hours as fighting with pro-Russian separatists engulfed several hotspots in eastern Ukraine, including the airport on the outskirts of rebel bastion Donetsk.

AFP correspondents heard artillery strikes from the direction of Donetsk airport, the scene of heavy fighting over the past week as separatists try to drive out a Ukrainian contingent still holding positions there.

Army spokesman Andriy Lysenko said the rebels had attacked the airport three times with mortar guns, tanks and artillery over the past day.

Fighting has reduced the state-of-the-art facility opened for the Euro 2012 football championships to a bullet-ridden carcass as the rebels pelt the terminals from neighbourhoods close by while Ukrainians take cover in the vast below-ground networks.

Kiev said this week the separatists had been increasingly active on the coast of the Azov sea in the Donetsk region, where they took the town of Novoazovsk in August, but where the government still controls the industrial hub of Mariupol.

Seven civilians died in a Mariupol suburb on Tuesday after shells exploded close to a funeral procession.

"Terrorists are moving forces to Shirokine," a coastal town about 10 kilometres east of Mariupol, Lysenko said. "These forces are being supplied straight from Russia."

Kiev blamed Moscow for sending Russian regular troops into Ukraine in August, helping the insurgents overtake several key areas, including east of Mariupol. Moscow has denied such reports.

Lysenko said on Friday that 16 of 131 Russian soldiers captured in eastern Ukraine had been sent home after their families made contact with Ukraine's security services.

Source: Agence France Presse

 100 
 on: Oct 17, 2014, 07:12 AM 
Started by Steve - Last post by Rad
In the USA...United Surveillance America

Florida court rules police need warrants to track cell phones

Reuters
17 Oct 2014 at 06:42 ET      

The Florida Supreme Court ruled Thursday that police must get warrants to track criminal suspects by monitoring their cell phone location signals.

“Because cell phones are indispensable to so many people and are normally carried on one’s person, cell phone tracking can easily invade the right to privacy in one’s home or other private areas,” Chief Justice Jorge Labarga wrote in a 5-2 ruling.

The case comes as federal circuit and appeals courts around the country wrestle with cell phone privacy and potential violations of the Fourth Amendment protecting citizens from unreasonable searches and seizures of property by the government.

The ruling said Broward County sheriff’s deputies lacked probable cause to stop Shawn Tracey, who was accused of possession of more than 400 grams of cocaine. The court said investigators obtained a court order to capture telephone numbers of his calls, but “for some unexplained reason” the data included site locations.

When an informant tipped police Tracey was going to Cape Coral, on the Gulf coast, for a drug deal, they tracked his location and arrested him. The state argued his car could be watched on public roads, but Tracey’s attorney said the cell phone surveillance went too far.

“Regardless of Tracey’s location on public roads, the use of his cell site location information emanating from his cell phone in order to track him in real time was a search within the purview of the Fourth Amendment for which probable cause was required,” Labarga wrote.

Because probable cause did not support the search and no warrant had been issued, the evidence obtained could not be used in court, he added.

Justices Charles Canady and Ricky Polston dissented. Canady wrote that users are aware their phones send signals to cellular towers as they travel.

Benjamin Stevenson, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida, called the ruling a big victory for privacy in Florida.

“Technology is changing all the time, but just because a technology you own is newer than the Constitution’s protections doesn’t mean it is exempt from them,” he said.

The ACLU said it found dozens of state and local police agencies covertly using devices known as “Stingrays,” which imitate cell towers and cause phones to send identifying information.

**********

Obama opposes travel ban but considers appointing an Ebola ‘czar’

Reuters
16 Oct 2014 at 20:49 ET      
Agence France-Presse.

President Barack Obama said on Thursday that he was considering appointing an Ebola “czar” to coordinate the fight against the virus in the United States but he remained opposed to a ban on travel from West Africa.

Obama’s administration is under growing criticism from lawmakers over its efforts to contain the disease at home. Obama authorized calling up military reservists for the U.S. fight against Ebola in West Africa on Thursday.

U.S. concerns have intensified after two Texas nurses who cared for Liberian patient Thomas Eric Duncan, who died, contracted the virus.

“It may be appropriate for me to appoint an additional person” to oversee efforts to contain Ebola, Obama told reporters after meeting aides involved in the fight against the disease.

Lawmakers have called for a czar and a ban on travel from West Africa. Obama said experts tell him that “a flat-out travel ban is not the way to go” because current screening measures at airports are working.

He said he had no philosophical objection to a travel ban but that some travelers might attempt to enter the United States by avoiding screening measures, which could lead to more Ebola cases, not less, Obama said.

Many House of Representatives members have joined calls for a ban on travel from the hardest-hit West African countries: Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.

Federal Aviation Administration chief Michael Huerta told reporters separately that the government was assessing whether to issue a travel ban “on a day-to-day basis.”

***********

Rush Limbaugh Admits He’s Causing Panic Over Ebola To Help GOP Win Midterm Elections

By: Justin Baragona
PoliticusUSA
Thursday, October, 16th, 2014, 6:06 pm   

While on the air Thursday, conservative gasbag Rush Limbaugh took exception with Fox News anchor Shepard Smith’s plea on Wednesday for pundits and politicians to pull back on their hyperbole over the Ebola cases in Texas. Smith utilized a few minutes of air time on Wednesday to provide only the facts on the Ebola virus and point out that America is not dealing with an outbreak. He asked that those in the media be more responsible in their coverage of the story and that radio and television personalities stop fear mongering in an effort to stir up panic for political gain.

Well, this didn’t sit well with El Rushbo on Thursday. Ever since the story broke that a man in Texas had contracted Ebola while in West Africa and carried the disease with him to the United States, Limbaugh has made it his mission to blame President Obama for it and stoke as much fear as possible. While Limbaugh has definitely not been alone in this endeavor, his megaphone is one of the largest around, as despite sagging ratings, he still has the #1 radio program in America.

Limbaugh first claimed that he wasn’t trying to cause panic. Instead, he was just displaying concern because of the incompetence of the Obama Administration and other government departments.

Below is from the transcript of The Rush Limbaugh Show:

    There is no desire here to spread a panic, and I am not secretly harboring a belief that we have a wide outbreak and they’re not telling us. I don’t believe that. Not yet. My concern is what it always is. One thing you can count on. Whether you’re a new Article here, whether you’re a veteran, one thing you can count on from me is consistency.

    If there are people who are fearful of a panic out there, or if there are people who think they’re not being told the truth, it’s because we have a level of incompetence I have yet to see in my life prior to this. The point that I’m trying to make with all of these things I highlight is the utter incompetence of the people that you think are trustworthy in these institutions that everybody counts on.

Limbaugh then proceeded to induce panic in his audience over an upcoming epidemic by claiming the government isn’t going to do anything about it. They won’t try to contain the virus on West Africa. Instead, they will just allow it to spread further. They will continue to reject ideas from good, God-fearing conservatives who truly care about America for purely political reasons.

Therefore, per Rush, he is just “trying to alert” the audience in anticipation of the upcoming elections so they choose wisely. They can either stick with the incompetent leaders currently in charge of certain institutions who are going to bring death and destruction to our country via a deadly virus, or they can elect more Republicans who will fix everything.

    My point to you is, just like with Obamacare, and just like with a number of other things with this administration, the election coming up in November is crucial, and whatever is really known about this is not going to be shared with us until after that point. But more than that, I’m just trying to alert you to be curious and to question some of these things that you’re hearing, because it’s nonsensical.

    I think it’s not too powerful to say it’s tragic that we have such levels of incompetence in positions of leadership that are really important. Now, I know why we have such a high degree of incompetence. It’s because the people that are choosing those to lead these institutions are themselves incompetent and have never really done anything. They’ve not accomplished anything.
  
    Anyway, one other thing, folks, about the criticism here. I just want you to understand, the same people who are illustrating their blatant incompetence in all of this, they’re the same people telling you that there is global warming. They are the same people telling you you’re not paying enough in taxes. The same people that promised you shovel-ready jobs and stimulus spending. These are the same people that told you you could keep your doctor. The same people told you you can keep your insurance plan if you liked it, lied to you about that, same people.

Obviously, Shep Smith touched a nerve with Limbaugh. In Limbaugh’s mind, he sees Fox News as kindred spirits if not direct allies. While he occasionally will criticize the network, he only does so if he feels they aren’t pushing the conservative narrative enough regarding a specific subject. When one of the network’s most visible anchors blasts the Conservative Entertainment Complex, it feels like a direct betrayal. Sure, Smith is perhaps the only one that has any credibility left at the network, but he still works for Roger Ailes and needs to toe the company line. Limbaugh is essentially telling those at Fox News that Shep needs to be put in his place.

While it was genuinely refreshing to see someone at Fox News, of all places, call out the right-wing noise machine for being irresponsible, it isn’t going to stop Limbaugh and others. It will only embolden them. Expect non-stop fear mongering and Chicken Little declarations for the next three weeks, minimum.

************

Dem rallies for Grimes: McConnell can’t win with ‘words that come out of Chuck Todd’s goatee’

David Edwards
RawStory
16 Oct 2014 at 13:51 ET  

Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway on Wednesday blasted Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) for suggesting that voters would decide who to elect based on NBC host Chuck Todd’s opinion that Democratic candidate Allison Lundergan Grimes had been “disqualified” from office.

On a recent episode of MSNBC’s Morning Joe, Todd had asserted that Grimes “disqualified herself” because she had refused to say that she voted for President Barack Obama in the 2012 election. McConnell’s campaign quickly turned Todd’s comment into a campaign ad, titled “Disqualified.”

At a rally for Grimes with Hillary Clinton on Thursday, Conway took to the stage to address the negative ads.

“How soon those people in Washington, D.C. forget,” he said. “It was just eight days ago that our own Kentucky poll came out and said that Allison Lundergan Grimes leads Mitch McConnell by 2 points.”

“The national media is saturated with all of these negative ads,” Conway noted. “They’re not working here. You want to know why? Because the people of Kentucky are smarter than that. We’re seeing these ads funded by the Koch brothers or corporate special interests that won’t tell you who they are, they just have some fancy name.”

He argued that if people behind the ads were “telling you the truth or shooting you straight, they’d tell you who they are.”

“And what the national folks haven’t seemed to catch on to is this, this election is not going to be won by some party hack or words that come out of Chuck Todd’s goatee!” Conway exclaimed. “It’s going to be won by you on the ground, and your hearts and minds, and Allison’s hard work!”

Watch the video below from Allison Lundergan Grimes, record Oct. 16, 2014.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4qQvk9rWaZk

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