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Putin’s opponent jailed for third time this year

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On Friday, a Moscow court sentenced Alexei Navalny to jail for 20 days. The charge was that Navalny called for an unsanctioned protest, despite getting permission from the city to hold the rally. He is opposing Putin in next year’s election. This is not the first time he has been jailed nor is he the only one facing charges. Reuters reported that Navalny “has been jailed twice already this year after organising rallies and protests against government corruption.” and his campaign chief, Leonid Volkov, is facing similar charges

Alexei Navalny isn’t just a political opponent to Vladimir Putin. He also runs the Anti-Corruption Foundation which “investigates, exposes and fights corruption among high-ranking government officials.” It is important that we take self-appointed mission statements with a grain of salt. However, I find myself giving the benefit of the doubt to the Kremlin’s opposition over the Kremlin itself. The upward trend of political opponents being poisoned, exiled, jailed, or killed in the last several years is apparent to anyone who looks.

Navalny’s platform is reminiscent of the democratic socialists of Western Europe and America. It is built, in large part, on redistributing wealth. He campaigns on the idea that the corporations connected to the Kremlin are the cause of economic pain for the Russian people. In many ways, it reminds me of Bernie Sanders’ political perspective. But rather than the people being able to decide whether the candidate is good for them, the Kremlin uses the iron fist to decide that Putin is people’s choice. Here are some examples.

Perspectives

 

Alexei Navalny: Russia’s vociferous opposition leader – BBC News

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-16057045Mr Navalny was arrested and imprisoned for 15 days following the first protest on 5 December, but emerged to speak at the biggest of the post-election rallies in Moscow on 24 December, attended by as many as 120,000 people.

Russia jails top opposition leader; Putin denounced as dictator | Reuters

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-russia-navalny/russia-jails-top-opposition-leader-putin-denounced-as-dictator-idUSBRE96G0WO20130718In a last message from court, Navalny, 37, referred to Putin as a “toad” who abused Russia’s vast oil revenues to stay in power, and urged his supporters to press on with his campaign.

“Okay, don’t miss me. More important – don’t be idle. The toad will not get off the oil pipeline on its own,” he wrote on Twitter.

Russia’s opposition: who is left to take on Vladimir Putin? | World news | The Guardian

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/mar/01/russias-opposition-who-is-left-to-take-on-vladimir-putinAmong the “non-systemic” opposition, there are few politicians who have much of a national profile, with the restrictions of state television meaning it is hard to gain a real platform. Harassment, threats and fatigue have led many into either jail or exile. Now that Nemtsov has been silenced, here are a list of the main opposition figureheads.

More of Kremlin’s Opponents Are Ending Up Dead

https://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/21/world/europe/moscow-kremlin-silence-critics-poison.htmlPutin, has made no secret of his ambition to restore his country to what he sees as its rightful place among the world’s leading nations. He has invested considerable money and energy into building an image of a strong and morally superior Russia, in sharp contrast with what he portrays as weak, decadent and disorderly Western democracies. Political murders, particularly those accomplished with poisons, are nothing new in Russia, going back five centuries.

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Final Thoughts

Dennis Prager gives a great comparison of authoritarian and totalitarian regimes. In a totalitarian regime, the people have no say in how they live their lives. In an authoritarian regime, the people can live their lives largely unimpeded, provided they don’t oppose the leader.

Putin’s Russia is an authoritarian regime. As long as the people live their lives and don’t speak out, the government will leave them alone. As soon as someone questions Putin’s leadership, the iron fist of government shows its full strength

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Budget head Mulvaney picked as Trump’s next chief of staff

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Budget head Mulvaney picked as Trumps next chief of staff

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump has picked budget director Mick Mulvaney to be his acting chief of staff, ending a chaotic search in which several top contenders took themselves out of the running for the job.

“Mick has done an outstanding job while in the Administration,” Trump tweeted Friday. “I look forward to working with him in this new capacity as we continue to MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!”

Trump added that his current chief of staff, John Kelly, will be staying until the end of the year. “He is a GREAT PATRIOT and I want to personally thank him for his service!” Trump wrote.

Trump’s first pick for the job, Vice President Mike Pence’s chief of staff Nick Ayers, took himself out of the running last weekend and decided to leave the White House instead. The decision caught the president and many senior staffers by surprise, and Trump soon found that others he considered front-runners were not interested in the job.

It was not immediately clear why the president decided to make Mulvaney’s appointment temporary. One senior White House official said there was no time limit on the appointment and Mulvaney would fill the role of chief of staff indefinitely, regardless of the “acting” title.

Key to his selection: Mulvaney and the president get along and the president likes him personally. Additionally, Trump prized the former congressman’s knowledge of Capitol Hill and political instincts as the White House prepares for a Democratic-controlled House and the president’s upcoming re-election campaign.

The decision came suddenly. Trump had grown frustrated with the length of the search and the growing perception that no one of stature wanted the job, according to one person familiar with his thinking.

Mulvaney received the news before the president tweeted his announcement. They spoke face to face Friday afternoon at a meeting that was supposed to be about the budget and spoke by phone later in the evening, according to a second White House official. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the personnel matter on the record.

“This is a tremendous honor,” Mulvaney tweeted. “I look forward to working with the President and the entire team. It’s going to be a great 2019!”

Mulvaney, who will be Trump’s third chief of staff, will now take on his third job in the administration. He is head of the Office of Management and Budget, and for a time simultaneously led the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

The White House originally said Russell Vought, Mulvaney’s deputy, would be taking over at OMB. But press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Friday night that Mulvaney will not resign that job even though he “will spend all of his time devoted to his role as the acting Chief Of Staff for the President.”

Sanders said Vought “will handle day to day operations and run OMB.”

Mulvaney had signaled in recent weeks that he wasn’t interested in being chief of staff, with a person close to him telling reporters that he’d made clear that he would me more interested in taking over as secretary of the Treasury or Commerce. But the White House officials disputed reports that captured that sentiment, and said the president didn’t need to change Mulvaney’s mind.

A former tea party congressman, Mulvaney was among a faction on the hard right that pushed GOP leaders into a 2013 government shutdown confrontation by insisting on lacing a must-pass spending bill with provisions designed to cripple President Barack Obama’s signature health care law.

Trump’s pick generated little immediate reaction on Capitol Hill, where most of Mulvaney’s allies are part of the conservative House Freedom Caucus. But his knowledge of Congress and how government works is likely to be an asset in the coming months.

The appointment of the affable, fast-talking South Carolinian came just hours after another candidate for the post, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, took himself out of contention. Christie cited family reasons in a statement saying he was asking Trump to remove him from consideration. He had met with Trump on Thursday to discuss the job, according to a person familiar with the meeting who was not authorized to discuss it publicly.

Ayers, who had cited family concerns as a reason he didn’t accept the post, tweeted Friday: “The right father of triplets got the job…Congratulations @MickMulvaneyOMB!” Both men are, coincidentally, fathers of triplets.

Trump’s first chief of staff, Reince Priebus, served for six months before leaving in July 2017. Trump tweeted his choice of Kelly to replace him before he formally offered the retired four-star Marine general the job.

For some months, Kelly had success streamlining the decision-making process in the West Wing and curtailing access to the undisciplined president. But Trump grew weary of the restrictions and Kelly’s influence waned as the two men frequently clashed.

As the search dragged on after Ayers bowed out, with no backup at the ready, the void had been filled with Trump’s specialty: drama.

British journalist Piers Morgan suggested he would be a good fit in an op-ed for The Daily Mail, while former major league slugger Jose Canseco tweeted his interest to Trump. Speculation swirled around an array of Trump associates, prompting some to distance themselves from the job.

When former House Speaker Newt Gingrich visited the White House this week, he insisted it was merely to see the Christmas decorations.

The wild process was hardly a novelty for the Trump administration, which has struggled with high staff turnover and attracting top talent, but it underscored the tumult of Trump’s Washington. In past administrations, chief of staff was a sought-after job, typically awarded after a careful process. Now, many view the job as a risky proposition, given Trump’s propensity for disorder and his resistance to being managed.

Author Chris Whipple, an expert on chiefs of staff, had called the search process “sad to watch.”

“In his first two years, Trump devalued the position by failing to empower anyone to perform the job, and now he’s turned the search for a replacement into a reality show,” said Whipple, author of “The Gatekeepers,” a book on the subject. “The only thing more broken and dysfunctional than the White House itself seems to be the search for the new White House chief of staff.”

Trump on Friday disputed that notion.

“For the record, there were MANY people who wanted to be the White House Chief of Staff. Mick M will do a GREAT job!” he tweeted.

___

Associated Press writer Zeke Miller contributed to this report.

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J&J hammered by report it knew of asbestos in baby powder

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J&J hammered by report it knew of asbestos in baby powder

NEW YORK (AP) — Johnson & Johnson is forcefully denying a media report that it knew for decades about the existence of trace amounts of asbestos in its baby powder.

The report Friday by the Reuters news service sent company shares into a tailspin, suffering their worst sell-off in 16 years.

Reuters is citing documents released as part of a lawsuit by plaintiffs claiming that the product can be linked to ovarian cancer. The New Brunswick, New Jersey company has battled in court against such claims and on Friday called the Reuters report, “one-sided, false and inflammatory.”

Shares are down more than 9 percent, the most severe decline since 2002.

In the report, Reuters points out that documents show consulting labs as early as 1957 and 1958 found asbestos in J&J talc. Further reports by the company and outside labs showed similar findings through the early 2000s.

In its statement Friday, Johnson & Johnson said “thousands of independent tests by regulators and the world’s leading labs prove our baby powder has never contained asbestos.”

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