While Vladimir Putin is strutting the global stage like a rock star in the wake of his diplomatic initiative on Syria, a new storm is gathering on the horizon. It could have a much deeper impact on Russias relations with its neighbors as well as on the outside world than the Kremlins gambit in the Middle East. As Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia prepare to sign association agreements with the European Union at the summit in Vilnius in the end of November, Moscow has shown its displeasure by waging what many are already calling a customs war on Kiev, hinting at drastically cutting gas supply to Chishinau and unilaterally seizing 400 square meters of Georgian territory.
Putin is angry at the Ukrainians refusal to join the Customs Union between Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan that the Russian leader sees as prototype of a new entity called the Eurasian Union. It is supposed to be his legacy project, an attempt at formally enshrining Russias privileged status in Eurasia and challenging Western notions that development only succeeds when it is accompanied by democratization. Kievs or, more specifically, president Viktor Yanukovychs refusal to join, opting for closer ties with the EU, is seen by the Kremlin not only as a challenge to Russias geo-strategic and geo-economic interests, but as an insult to Putin personally. He has put his reputation on the line, supporting the former convict-turned-politician through the thick and thin of the so-called Orange Revolution in Ukraine in 2004-2005 only to see Yanukovych turn his back on Russia in favor of the EU.
There will be serious implications if Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia sign the EU association agreements in the next two months.
Firstly, it will be the end of the post-Soviet space as we know it now, a fundamental challenge to the notion that Russia can somehow condition the sovereignty of the former Soviet republics. This will test their populations commitment to their historically young independence, as Moscow will use a combination of sticks and carrots to lure the Ukrainians, Georgians and Moldovans from the EU. It has already forced Armenia to abandon the idea of signing the association agreement. Moreover, these agreements as such do not bring immediate benefits to the three countries, while a range of Russian economic and political pressures could instantly inflict pain. This could well lead to rapid disillusionment with the European project, which could provide the Kremlin with political openings in the three states.
Secondly, it will lead to a clash of interests with the EU, as Moscow will try to hamper the ratification of the Vilnius agreements through vast lobbying efforts in the national parliaments of the member states, as well as via massive economic and political pressure applied on the rebel states themselves. Where this will take Moscow and Brussels is anyones guess right now, but it is clear that for both sides, this standoff will be a matter of principle rather than an opportunity to bargain.
Published: Wednesday October 2, 2013 MYT 6:40:01 AM
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama would veto any "piecemeal" legislation that would restore funding only to certain parts of the government like national parks, veterans programs and the District of Columbia rather than a broad federal spending bill, the White House said on Tuesday.
"These piecemeal efforts are not serious, and they are no way to run a government," spokeswoman Amy Brundage said in a statement, noting that the White House wants the Republican-controlled House of Representatives to pass a bill that would continue funding the federal government without any unrelated policy measures attached.
"The president and the Senate have been clear that they won't accept this kind of game-playing, and if these bills were to come to the president's desk, he would veto them," she said.
Read more: http://www.thestar.com.my/News/World/2013/10/02/Obama-would-veto-House-Republican-piecemeal-spending-bills--White-House.aspx
National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden has been nominated for a human rights award in Europe.
Snowden is one of seven on the short list for the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, awarded annually by the European Unions Parliament.
The award, named for the famed Soviet dissident, has been handed out since 1988 to exceptional individuals who combat intolerance, fanaticism and oppression, its website says.
The Greens/European Free Alliance group and the Confederal Group of the European United Left-Nordic Green Left both nominated Snowden for the award, citing his national security leaks as the reason.
"Through his action, Mr. Snowden revealed systematic and widespread violation of fundamental rights, notably freedom of expression and the right to privacy, by these spying programmes, and triggered a ground-breaking, global debate on issues of mass surveillance, government secrecy and information privacy," the groups said in nominating him.
Read more: http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/325811-snowden-nominated-for-prominent-european-human-rights-prize#ixzz2gVrn6ChQ
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu faced criticism for his UN General Assembly address Tuesday from Labor and Meretz MKs in Israel and from the pro- Israel, pro-peace lobby J Street in Washington.
J Street released a statement expressing disappointment that Netanyahu did not spend more time addressing the promise of a better future with the Palestinians, especially in light of the ongoing peace process.
The prime ministers speech to the UN General Assembly was a missed opportunity, the organization said. Of its 33 minutes, he spent less than two minutes addressing the subject of peace with the Palestinians, as if to make it clear that peace is not a high priority for him.
Opposition leader Shelly Yacimovich (Labor), who was one of the speakers at the conference, expressed disappointment that Netanyahu did not use the speech to make firm commitments on the Palestinian issue. She also said his approach to Iran was incorrect.
The way to deal with Iran is to let the US lead an international effort, not by emphasizing Israels isolation, Yacimovich said.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu used his platform at the United Nations Tuesday to voice deep distrust over Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and the newly-elected leaders vows to bring his countrys nuclear program in line with international standards.
I know Rouhani doesnt sound like [former President Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad, but when it comes to Iranians, Ajmadinejad was a wolf in wolfs clothing. Rouhani is a wolf in sheeps clothing a wolf who thinks he can pull the wool over the eyes of the international community, Netanyahu said.
Rouhani on Thursday called for the destruction of all nuclear weapons worldwide, and reiterated that his countrys nuclear program was for civilian energy use only. A day later, President Obama revealed that he and Rouhani spoke by phone, breaking the three-decades-plus silence between the two countries top leaders. Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said Sunday that Iran, with the backing of its supreme leader Ali Khamenei, would allow international inspectors into its nuclear sites as part of negotiations with the United States. Iran, in turn, asked the U.S. to ease up on the crippling sanctions that are imposed on the country for pursuing its nuclear program.
I wish I could believe Rouhani, but I dont. Because facts are stubborn things and the facts are that Irans savage record flatly contradicts Rouhanis soothing rhetoric, Netanyahu said.
Read more: http://tv.msnbc.com/2013/10/01/netanyahu-warns-irans-leader-is-a-wolf-in-sheeps-clothing/
WASHINGTON (AP) -- A conservative group is airing television and radio ads urging Democrats to eliminate funding for President Barack Obama's health care law to resolve a government shutdown.
The Senate Conservatives Fund accuses Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada and fellow Democrats of "forcing a government shutdown" in order to allow the so-called Obamacare system to move forward. The ad buy is expected to be about $500,000 per week.
WASHINGTON The Supreme Court said Tuesday it will weigh whether a motorists anonymous tip about reckless driving is enough for police to pull over a car, without an officers corroboration of dangerous driving.
The issue has divided state and federal courts.
The justices said they will take up an appeal by two brothers who pleaded guilty to transporting marijuana after California Highway Patrol officers pulled over their silver Ford 150 pickup based on a report of reckless driving.
The officers did not observe erratic driving, but acted after dispatchers received a 911 call saying the vehicle had run the caller off the road and identifying it by its model, color and license plate. Officers searched the truck after smelling marijuana, found four large bags of it and arrested driver Lorenzo Prado Navarette and passenger Jose Prado Navarette. They appealed after pleading guilty and are arguing that the traffic stop violated their constitutional rights, based on an earlier high court ruling that anonymous tips by themselves ordinarily are not sufficient for police to detain or search someone.
The question for the justices is whether anonymous tips about reckless or drunken driving should be treated differently.
Source: Associated Press
WASHINGTON Republicans say the GOP-controlled House intends to pass legislation to reopen portions of the government, including national parks and processing of claims at the Department of Veterans Affairs.
The House would also allow the government of Washington, D.C. to use its own taxpayer funds to provide services like garbage pickup, as well as keep D.C. employees on the job.
The closure of national parks is among the most visible effects of the partial government shutdown that hit the government after midnight on Monday. It would reopen gates and visitors centers at iconic parks like Yosemite and Yellowstone.
While VA hospitals remain open and veterans benefits continue to be paid, the legislation would allow claims processors to continue to work on the agency's lengthy backload of applications.
Read more: http://www.greenfieldreporter.com/view/story/ea6eb6419adb4c6aa14d3ce83841a76f/US--Budget-Battle-Partial-Reopening
So they are carrying out the plan to fund the gov't piecemeal, one item at a time. I call bullshit and to not let one of these attempts proceed.
Source: Associated Press
By Associated Press, Updated: Tuesday, October 1, 12:03 PM
BAGHDAD An Iraqi sheik carried his infant grandsons tightly wrapped body, staring ahead with a blank gaze as men behind him bore the coffin of the babys mother during their funeral Tuesday, a day after they were killed in a wave of bombings in Baghdad.
The heartbreaking image, captured in an Associated Press photo, illustrates the human tragedy behind the numbers as the death toll mounts to levels not seen in half a decade amid a new surge in sectarian bloodshed nearly two years after the U.S. withdrew from the country.
The U.N. mission in Iraq said Tuesday that 979 people died in September, most civilians caught up in the violence by insurgents led by al-Qaida in Iraq who appear determined to rekindle the tensions between Sunnis and Shiites that nearly pushed the country to the brink of civil war in 2006-2007.
Iraq is going through its worst surge in violence since 2008, with near-daily attacks and relentless bombings blamed on hard-line Sunni insurgents. The surge followed a deadly crackdown by the Shiite-led government on a Sunni protest camp in northern Iraq in April.
Read more: http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/al-qaida-in-iraq-claims-responsibility-for-mondays-attacks-that-killed-55/2013/10/01/9301207c-2a79-11e3-b141-298f46539716_story.html
By Agence France-Presse
Tuesday, October 1, 2013 7:28 EDT
Syrias President Bashar al-Assad will remain in office, and has the right to decide to run for re-election next year, Information Minister Omran al-Zohbi said on Tuesday.
Syria is staying put: the state, the nation, the people and the president. This is the Syrians choice, Zohbi told journalists.
All the people call for President Bashar al-Assad to be president of this state, whatever the opposition, the Americans and the traitors say, he added.
Conflict broke out in Syria 30 months ago after Assads regime launched a crackdown on Arab Spring-inspired protests demanding political change.
The regime has consistently blamed a foreign-backed terrorist plot for the violence that has wracked the country ever since.
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