The week the dam broke in Russia and ended Putin's dreams
“It’s going to be worse than the default crisis in 1998. This time you have a situation where the West is against them,” said Mr Browder from Hermitage
Dec. 20 2014
Gallows humour is back in Moscow. Asked what he would do to stop the rouble spiralling out of control, the former governor of Russia’s central bank replied: “I would pick up a pistol and shoot myself.”
This was the week when the country’s long-festering crisis turned virulent. A last-ditch attempt to defend the exchange rate by raising interest rates to 17pc failed within hours, yet the shock is surely enough to set off a chain of corporate failures and push banks over the edge.
Traders in the City watched open-mouthed as the dam broke on Black Tuesday. The event exposed the awful reality that the Kremlin does not have the infinite foreign reserves that many had supposed. “What is happening is a nightmare that we could not even have imagined a year ago,” says the central bank’s deputy chief, Sergei Shvetsov.
What do dictators do when they have trouble on the home front? Vlad is going to double down. If I were his neighbor, I'd be concerned.
(CBS) – The teenage son of Mayor Rahm Emanuel was the victim of a robbery outside the mayor’s Lakeview home Friday night, a spokesperson from the mayor’s office confirms.
Police were called to the 4200 block of North Hermitage at 10:05 p.m. Friday for a report of a robbery on the street where there would normally already be a police presence.
Emanuel’s 17-year-old son went out to make a phone call when he was jumped by two men who stole the teen’s cell phone.
A police report obtained by the Chicago Tribune says that he was put in a chokehold by one of the suspects and punched in the face by the other. Emanuel reportedly suffered a fat lip and chipped tooth.
Emanuel’s spokesperson Kelley Quinn released a statement saying, “Yesterday evening Mayor Emanuel’s son Zach was assaulted in a robbery during which his phone was stolen. He sustained injuries that required medical treatment, but was able to join the family for a long planned trip. The Mayor’s focus is on his son’s well-being, and as parents, he and Amy ask that the media respect their family’s privacy at this time.”
Police officers are assigned to the mayor’s home front and back 24 hours a day. There are also cameras at both ends of the block.
In contrast to Bill De Blasio's son, Rhambo's son wants to feel safe...
Moscow (AFP) - Russian authorities convinced Facebook to shut off a page inviting people to attend a rally in support of an opposition politician, drawing ire from Internet users Sunday.
Supporters on Friday created an event page for January 15, the day President Vladimir Putin's biggest critic Alexei Navalny will hear his verdict in a controversial embezzlement case which could see him sent him to prison for up to 10 years.
Russia's Internet watchdog Roskomnadzor said Sunday that the page has been blocked on orders of the general prosecutor.
The prosecutor "demanded to limit access to a number of resources calling for an unsanctioned mass event, including social networking groups. The demand has been fulfilled," RIA-Novosti news agency quoted spokesman Vadim Ampelonsky as saying.
The Facebook event, called "Public gathering to discuss the verdict", had over 12,000 people signed up at the time it was blocked, and now opens only through a non-Russian IP and only for non-Russian users.
Navalny, whose leadership role in the opposition was built up over the years via his popular anti-corruption blog and carefully-managed Internet campaigns, criticised the social networking giant for quickly bending under Kremlin's pressure.
"It's a rather unpleasant and surprising behaviour by Russian Facebook. I thought they would at least demand a court order rather than rush to block pages as soon as crooks from the Roskomnadzor (the Internet watchdog) ask," he wrote on his personal page.
Taking cues from North Korea?
Outgoing CNN host Candy Crowley sat down with President Barack Obama for his final interview of the year on Friday in which she probed him over his government’s response to the North Korea-linked cyber-attack on Sony Studios.
Crowley asked if the administration considered the costly and dramatic attack on the livelihoods of American citizens, complete with ultimatums warning of future attacks unless Sony behaved in a manner preferred by the attackers, represented an act of war.
“No, I don’t think it was an act of war,” Obama said. “I think it was an act of cyber-vandalism that was very costly, very expensive. We take it very seriously.”
Well, that’s reassuring. The president went on to lecture Crowley that her network should make every effort to not cave to the demands of cyber-attackers as Sony had when they inevitably become the target of a similar assault.
“CNN has done critical stories about North Korea. What happens if, in fact, there is a breach in CNN’s cyberspace?” Obama insisted. “Are we going to suddenly say, are we not going to report on North Korea?”
It was a similar admonition to the one he gave Sony executives from behind the podium of the James Brady Briefing Room. “If we set a precedent in which a dictator in another country can disrupt through cyber, a company’s distribution chain or its products, and as a consequence we start censoring ourselves, that’s a problem,” Obama said.
He’s right. Sony set a bad precedent, but so did Obama. The president cannot possibly think that an attack like that executed by North Korea (and its allies in the People’s Republic of China) is a matter for law enforcement alone? Actually, maybe he does. Why else would he repeatedly suggest that cyber-attacks on private American interests like these are going to become a feature of American life?
I'm sure he'll come up with something while at his winter palace in Hawaii...
I’m not going to beat around the bush here. It is time for New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio to resign. Yesterday’s assassination of two of New York City’s finest was only the latest and most devastating brush stroke on a canvas which has been coming into focus for months. When you are the mayor of a city you have many responsibilities, but one of the most vital (in terms of maintaining a functional societal structure) is the mandate to enforce the laws and maintain social order. It is the same for mayors everywhere, as well as governors and presidents. But currently, the state of relations between City Hall and the New York Police Department has devolved to the point of complete dysfunction, and criminals are well aware of this state of affairs. The fault for the creation of this toxic atmosphere is essentially found solely at the feet of Mayor de Blasio.
Former Governor George Pataki summed up the situation correctly:
George E. Pataki ✔ @GovernorPataki
Sickened by these barbaric acts, which sadly are a predictable outcome of divisive anti-cop rhetoric of #ericholder & #mayordeblasio. #NYPD
So caustic is the current state of relations between the Mayor’s office and the police that a shocking and dismaying scene took place in the wake of the horrific assassinations. When de Blasio arrived at the hospital yesterday, the uniformed officers literally turned their backs to him as he walked by. And this was at a moment when, in more normal times, they should have been rallying to the leadership of the executive.
Why Big Bill has to go.
December 20, 2014
It is sad that there is so much bad news so close to Christmas. The best thing we can say for our president is that he has departed for Hawaii on a 17-day vacation, so he cant do any more damage until after the new year. Meanwhile, we could all use a day brightener. So here is one, via the Facebook account of a mother of twin daughters who were born with a rare heart defect. One died, and the other is undergoing treatment at the Childrens Medical Center in Dallas.
On Tuesday, Santa came to the hospital to deliver gifts to sick children. He is a little hard to recognize behind the beard, but the burly elf in the background could be a clue:
The mother wrote:
Guess who just came and gave Emily a Christmas present dressed in a Santa suit with Secret Service and all?!?!? . Pres. George Bush