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Gender: Male
Hometown: Detroit, MI
Member since: Fri Oct 29, 2004, 12:18 AM
Number of posts: 75,435

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Putin thought Ukraine war was a missile to Nato. It may be a boomerang

(Guardian UK) It is conceivable that by the end of the year Nato’s land mass, GDP and territorial borders with Russia may expand by nearly as much as they would have if Ukraine had achieved its distant goal of eventual membership of the western defence alliance – if not more.

The brutal manner in which Vladimir Putin has tried to foreclose Ukraine’s security options has led to a sudden change in thinking in Finland and Sweden that has been all the more powerful since it seems to have come from below, as opposed to from the political elites.

It is not yet a done deal. Opinion so volatile, and previously so settled in its opposition to Nato membership, could swing back towards the comforts of semi-neutrality. Russian nuclear threats, already starting, may intimidate voters into having second thoughts.

The process may be fraught. Many brands of Nato membership exist, and have yet to be fully explored by the Finns and the Swedes.

But by Nato’s Madrid summit in June, Nato will be on course to expand its population by 16 million, its GDP by €800bn and its land mass by 780,000m sq km. Ukraine, by contrast, has a population of 41 million, a land mass of 603,000m sq km and a GDP of €155bn. A new 1,300km border with Nato could be formed, the precise opposite of what Putin set out to achieve in the treaties designed to shrink Nato that he ordered the west to accept last year. What is worse for Moscow, Nato could have strengthened itself in the Baltic Sea, right next to Kalingrad enclave, the strategic Russian naval base. ............(more)


Trump, Putin and their kind are still dangerous -- but their time is almost up

Trump, Putin and their kind are still dangerous — but their time is almost up
Old-guard autocrats like Trump, Putin and Erdogan can't control information — in the end, that will destroy them


(Salon) My phone vibrated, indicating a new text message.

I checked and found one from a Turkish colleague who occasionally visited the White House during the Trump presidency: "I'm a 26-year-old journalist. I don't want to end up in jail."

At the time I was in a private screening of the movie "Navalny," about the Russian politician who is widely considered to be Vladimir Putin's greatest national rival. Alexei Navalny survived an attempt on his life, by way of poison applied to his underwear, only to be arrested upon his re-entry into Russia from Germany, where he had been recovering from the attempt on his life in Siberia.


From behind prison bars, Navalny has called for protests against Putin's chosen war in Ukraine, where Navalny has ancestral roots. He is viewed by Amnesty International as a "prisoner of conscience" and re-entered his country knowing he might be jailed for up to 20 years because he wants to fight the "corruption and thieves" at the heart of the Russian government.

As for my friend Ibrahim Haskologlu in Turkey, he reported on news that the authoritarian regime of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan didn't like. He was called "Fake News" and told me that pro-government groups "started to share my home address and identity information." He reports that he's gotten threatening messages and Turkey's minister of the interior sent him a message that there was "an investigation launched against me."


But what Trump and the rest of these old, dangerous, atavistic, arrogant authoritarians haven't learned yet is that their time is up. It's done. The Navalny documentary — partially shot on cellphone — the text sent by my colleague in Turkey, the home videos posted on a variety of apps by those suffering from the Russian invasion of Ukraine and even the videos posted from Trump rallies are exposing these cretins for what they are: narcissistic power-mongers who care about no one but themselves. Because of social media, they cannot hide and lie with impunity as they could in the past. ...........(more)


Toronto: Eglinton Crosstown West Extension tunneling begins

Provincial, municipal and transit officials celebrated the start of tunneling of the Eglinton Crosstown West Extension on April 11. The 9.2-kilometer (5.7-mile), seven-stop subway extension is one of four priority transit projects of the government of Ontario and will bring rapid transit to Etobicoke and Mississauga.

“Our government is getting it done and delivering the largest subway expansion in Canadian history,” said Ontario Premier Doug Ford. “We are getting shovels in the ground for this historic project and building world-class transit that will make life easier for the people of the [Greater Toronto Area], while supporting the creation of thousands of jobs and spurring economic growth for decades to come.”

The extension will bring the Crosstown LRT further west from Mount Dennis to Renforth Drive with a further extension to Pearson International Airport being explored with the Greater Toronto Airports Authority. The Eglinton Crosstown West Extension will offer connections to UP Express and Kitchener GO Train services, as well as GO Transit, Toronto Transit Commission and MiWay buses.

"This is all good news for our city and our residents. We are working together and getting on with building much-needed transit lines in Toronto that will not only help us move people around our city but connect residents to other parts of the region. The Eglinton Crosstown West Extension will create more opportunities for residents by connecting them to other parts of the city and to places where they can work, play and go to school,” said Toronto Mayor John Tory. .................(more)


Pharma Bro is a deadbeat

Martin Shkreli, the former hedge fund manager convicted of securities fraud in 2017, is nearing the tail end of his seven-year sentence at the federal correctional institution in Allenwood, Pennsylvania but the defense team that aided in his trial has not yet been paid in full.

According to Reuters, Duane Morris LLP filed a request to a U.S. judge asking to withdraw as Shkreli's counsel stating that as of March 31 they had yet to be paid the $2.04 million balance owed to them for their services.

Shkreli's former law firm states that Phoenixus AG, Shkreli's employer prior to incarceration, had at one time agreed to pay for legal fees, but the "limits of an insurance policy" used for such costs has been "exhausted," according to Reuters.

In the filing made Tuesday in a Manhattan federal court Duane Morris revealed that Shkreli "has no assets" and would not be affected negatively by the removal of his current counsel as his trial has already been concluded. ..............(more)


Right-wing switchback: "National conservatives" dump Putin, want to claim Ukraine

Right-wing switchback: "National conservatives" dump Putin, want to claim Ukraine
At global gathering of right-wing nationalists, a startling pivot: Putin's toast — and wow, do they love Ukraine


(Salon) From the first day of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, conservatives on both sides of the Atlantic have been placed in an uneasy position. For more than two decades, right-wing activists and politicians have praised Russia as the unlikely wellspring of renewed traditionalism, as Vladimir Putin intertwined church and state in an effort to bolster Russian nationalism and, more quietly, his aspirations to reconstruct the Soviet empire.

When the launch of Putin's war coincided with the first day of the Conservative Political Action conference in late February, a dizzying ideological switchback began. Speakers who had declared just days or hours earlier that they didn't care about the fate of Ukraine were rapidly forced to recalibrate. Fox News' Tucker Carlson, who in 2019 declared he was "root[ing] for Russia" in its conflict with Ukraine, was compelled to recant, at least temporarily. In Europe, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, who had celebrated his long and fond relationship with Putin in Moscow just weeks before Russia invaded, issued a tepid condemnation. (Hungary is a member state of both the EU and NATO, though its relationship with both is tense.)

At least initially, on the broader, more ideological level, there was a sense that Russia's aggression — and Putin's claims that he was fighting not just Ukraine but the whole of the "degenerate" West — would engender a rebuke of the "illiberal" populist movements that have swept far-right leaders into power around the world.

As the Washington Post editorial board put it this week, Putin had launched two wars, the second being a war of ideas over the international illiberal agenda Russia has helped lead. Or as columnist Brad Littlejohn wrote at The American Conservative, "behind the battles being waged on the plains of Ukraine was a deeper battle over the narrative that would frame Russia's invasion, the lessons the West must learn from it, and the vision for a future Europe that ought to emerge on the other side of this crisis."


Yet when the NatCons gathered several weeks ago in Brussels, for their fifth international conference, the dominant message of the speakers was not reassessment or remorse, but vindication. Not because of any overt or coded sympathy for Russian aggression — the speakers were so uniformly vitriolic in condemning the invasion that conservative writer Rod Dreher, another presenter, noted it was "almost impossible to dissent from anti-Russian maximalism" — but rather because of their ambitious and perhaps mind-bending claim that Ukraine's struggle against an invading army embodied their values, not those of the democratic center or left. ..............(more)


Sheriff: Florida man had meth, guns, baby gator in truck

COLLIER COUNTY, Fla. — A Florida man has been arrested after deputies pulled him over in Collier County.

"Did you hear the one about the guns, drugs and gator?" deputies wrote on Facebook.

According to a report from the Collier County Sheriff's Office, 31-year-old Michael Marolla has been charged with two counts of carrying a concealed firearm and possession of a controlled substance.

Deputies made contact with Marolla after pulling over a black GMC he was riding in.

According to authorities, deputies found one firearm concealed in the glove box and another hidden under the front passenger seat. Deputies also found multiple loaded syringes in Marolla’s jacket that tested positive for methamphetamine.

Additionally, a live baby alligator was found in an open plastic tub in the bed of the truck. .............(more)


76-year-old man arrested at Boston airport after allegedly masturbating, exposing himself on flight

A 76-year-old Florida man is accused of masturbating and exposing his genitals to a 21-year-old woman seated next to him while onboard a flight from Newark to Boston, according to the feds.

Donald Edward Robinson, of Bonita Springs, Fla., then placed his hand on top of the victim’s thigh without her consent, the U.S. Attorney’s Office alleges.

Robinson was arrested Sunday at Boston Logan International Airport for allegedly performing a lewd act aboard an aircraft on Friday. He has been charged with one count of lewd, indecent and obscene acts while in the special aircraft jurisdiction of the U.S.

Shortly after departure, the victim recorded a 24-second video of Robinson allegedly fondling and manipulating his genitals through his pants, the feds allege. A short time later, the victim looked over and saw that Robinson had exposed his genitals. ............(more)


Marsha Blackburn is never going to be mistaken for a MENSA member

Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., suggested on Monday that Tennessee residents want a "wall" on state's southern border to guard against illegal immigration – even even though Tennessee is not located along the U.S.-Mexico border.

"Tennesseans want a wall on our southern border," the conservative tweeted without any further explanation.


The comment bewildered many critics online, many of whom noted that south Tennessee is bordered by Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi – none of which border Mexico.

"YOUR southern border is with Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia, MORON," tweeted political commentator Keith Olberman. ..............(more)


San Diego: Record breaking ridership for MTS public transit as gas prices soar

Hoboken Pot Sellers Are So Eager to Open, They Will Pay for Cops

(Bloomberg CityLab) Moments before two marijuana retailers got permission to set up legal sales in Hoboken, New Jersey, the city had a request: Would the new operators be willing to cover the costs of two police officers?

The applicants agreed — and said yes to other asks, including cash for affordable housing and the community food pantry. The sweeteners total at least $300,000 annually for Hoboken, a square-mile city one train stop from Manhattan.

Such freebies increasingly are being requested by cities and towns as millions of dollars in taxes from legal pot sales start to flow into the coffers of U.S. states. Businesses use them to speed the all-important licenses that can give them an early advantage over competitors in what’s expected to be a $43 billion industry by 2025. Towns and cities, meanwhile, use the extra money to promise boosted or broadened municipal services without dreaded property tax hikes.

In Davis, California, where almost one in three people live in poverty, the school district and a community group get as much as $50,000 each annually for drug education and public safety outreach. In Lowell, Massachusetts, one pot retailer had to pay for janitorial supplies, snow removal and catered meals for city workers. Elsewhere, the pacts, called host-community agreements, are intended to cover downtown landscaping, traffic improvements, library technology and more. .................(more)


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