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10 Vladimir Putin classics from this year’s marathon Q & A

The marathon session clocked in at just under 4.5 hours!

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Vladimir Putin has delivered yet another marathon Q & A session known as Direct Line with The President. For nearly four and a half hours, President Putin took questions from people across Russia and throughout the wider world about any and all topics. It happens every year and by now, President Putin is a seasoned pro.

Here are some of the highlights. 

1. Asylum for Comey 

Vladimir Putin was asked what he thought of the continuing saga between former FBI Director James Comey and the Trump administration.

Putin responded saying that it was “strange” also translated as “weird” that Comey should leak the contents of a private memo detailing a meeting with President Trump to the media via a surrogate.

Putin then stated that in some ways there are parallels between the Comey incident and that of NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden who has received asylum in Russia on human rights grounds.

Putin said that if necessary, Russia is happy to grant Comey asylum on the same basis.

This rather sarcastic remarks demonstrates Putin’s keen sense of humour, something rarely discussed in western mainstream media.

CNN are probably  still trying to make out what it really means.

IT WAS A JOKE! That being said, a joke which referenced a lot of truth behind the recent political saga in the US.

2. Putin’s Time Machine 

Vladimir Putin was asked by a 12 year old girl where he would go if he had a time machine. In spite of the fantastical nature of the question, Putin rhetorically asked the girl if this time machine would allow a traveller in time to change the course of past events or simply observe them?

Putin then stated that he would use a time machine to observe  great moments in Russian history, including the Great Patriotic War.

He then told the girl that learning objective history is our real life time machine and encouraged all children to learn as much history as they can.

3. The Next President of Russia

Next year, Russia holds Presidential elections in which Vladimir Putin is eligible to run. Thus far, the only officially confirmed candidate is political veteran Vladimir Zhirinovsky of the LDPR (Liberal Democratic Party of Russia).

Putin stated,

“Certainly, one day I will make up my mind. I don’t see anything bad in sharing my preferences [about the future president of Russia]. But ultimately let’s not forget that only the voters, Russian citizens, can determine who will lead”.

He continued,

“I look at what happens in other countries. And there you go, we know how political processes go there, we know political veterans. It’s basically normal, as long as it confirms democratic procedures and the nation’s law.

Nobody broke the law here in that regard”.

It seems Putin wants to keep the public in suspense even though recent polls have found that a majority of Russians want Putin to run for and win another term.

4. Ukraine 

Putin received a question from a man in Kiev who worried that Russia has abandoned a fraternal people. The man stated that he loves Russia, celebrates victory in the Great Patriotic War on the 9th of May and wants the Russian President to know that the current fascist regime in Ukraine does not speak for people like him.

President Putin thanked the man for his kind words but stated that Russia will not interfere in the business of the Kiev regime. He also said that Kiev regime leader Petro Poroshenko is beholden to the people he surrounds himself with who are “scoundrels wearing swastikas”.

Putin expressed concern for the fact that living standards in Ukraine have gone down while wages in Russia have risen from the depths of the dark 1990s.

Putin warned that the economic decline in Ukraine may make it so that Ukrainians won’t even be able to wash themselves. Nevertheless he said that Russia will not interfere in the workings of the current regime.

5. Putin’s Family 

Putin confirmed that he has grandchildren but that he wants to shelter them from the wider world. He explained that he does not want them growing up in the throes of fame and “blue blood” but would rather they live a life where they can talk with other children their age and grow up in a normal way.

It is this reason why Putin does not parade his children publican in the way that many western leaders do.

6. Church and State

When asked a question about St. Issac’s Cathedral in Saint Petersburg, Putin said that Russia is a secular state but that religious traditions must always be respected and the feelings of believers must not be insulted.

He insisted that great Russian Orthodox Churches can function as places of worship as well as public museums. He cited the Vatican as such an example of this mix.

7. Call From American Supporter 

President Putin received a call from a supporter in Arizona, USA. The man said that he is saddened that the US and Russia are politically at odds as he believes that Russia is an admirable country which should have good relations with America.

Vladimir Putin stated that there is much to admire in America and that the US is not seen as an enemy by Russia. He said that he looked forward to meeting President Trump and working with him on many issues, including climate change.

He said that while it is in the best interests of the world for nuclear powers like Russia and the US to have good relations, that ultimately, the political situation in the US has prohibited this. Nevertheless, Putin said that the door remains open.

8. Anger Management 

President Putin was asked how he deals with being cheated. Putin said that he “never forgets” but that at the same time one shouldn’t ever act in  haste and that one should try to see what the lying person might be getting at. He elaborated in the following way,

“I believe everyone sitting here had the experience when somebody was trying to deceive him.

I am a human being and this happens to me, too. But even when I see I am being lied to, I try not to act rashly. Before reacting, even if I am convinced that was a lie, I always try to understand what that person wanted and why. And I never forget”.

9. World Cup 

As Russia readies to host the World Cup, Putin spoke with builders at a football stadium in Kaliningrad. He assured the builders as well as a local football coach that based on the success of the Sochi Olympics, it will be imperative for facilities built for the World Cup to be converted into local facilities for young people to play sport in a modern and fun environment.

10. Big Fish 

Like Russian Foreign Minsiter Sergey Lavrov, Vladimir Putin is a keen fisherman. He was ask about his biggest catch.

Putin replied,

“Yes, I know that fishermen and enthusiasts (of fishing) are interested in it. I read about it, seen in the Internet. Honestly, (the fish) was weighed in front of me, it was 20 kilograms, though many believe it was too small for 20 kilograms, but anyway, that is what I saw”.

For those who missed the marathon sessions, you can watch it all here.

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BREAKING: Explosion in Crimea, Russia kills many, injuring dozens, terrorism suspected

According to preliminary information, the incident was caused by a gas explosion at a college facility in Kerch, Crimea.

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“We are clarifying the information at the moment. Preliminary figures are 50 injured and 10 dead. Eight ambulance crews are working at the site and air medical services are involved,” the press-service for the Crimean Ministry of Health stated.

Medics announced that at least 50 people were injured in the explosion in Kerch and 25 have already been taken to local hospital with moderate wounds, according to Sputnik.

Local news outlets reported that earlier in the day, students at the college heard a blast and windows of the building were shattered.

Putin Orders that Assistance Be Provided to Victims of Blast in Kerch – Kremlin Spokesman

“The president has instructed the Ministry of Health and the rescue services to take emergency measures to assist victims of this explosion, if necessary, to ensure the urgent transportation of seriously wounded patients to leading medical institutions of Russia, whether in Moscow or other cities,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitriy Peskov said.

The president also expressed his condolences to all those affected by the tragic incident.

Manhunt Underway in Kerch as FSB Specialists Investigate Site of Explosion – National Anti-Terrorist Committee

The site of the blast that rocked a city college in Kerch is being examined by FSB bomb disposal experts and law enforcement agencies are searching for clues that might lead to the arrest of the perpetrators, the National Anti Terrorism Committee said in a statement.

“Acting on orders from the head of the NAC’s local headquarters, FSB, Interior Ministry, Russian Guards and Emergency Ministry units have arrived at the site. The territory around the college has been cordoned off and the people inside the building evacuated… Mine-disposal experts are working at the site and law enforcement specialists are investigating,” the statement said.

Terrorist Act Considered as Possible Cause of Blast in Kerch – Kremlin Spokesman

“The tragic news that comes from Kerch. Explosion. The president was informed … The data on those killed and the number of injured is constantly updated,” Peskov told reporters.

“[The version of a terrorist attack] is being considered,” he said.

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10 percent of American F-22 fighter jets damaged by Hurricane Michael

Part of the reason the F-22’s were left in the path of the storm is that they were broken and too expensive to fix or fly.

Seraphim Hanisch

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Note to the wise: When a hurricane comes, move your planes out of the way. Especially your really expensive F-22 fighter planes. After all, those babies are $339 mil apiece. Got the message?

Apparently the US Air Force didn’t get this message. Or, did they find themselves unable to follow the message?

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The Washington Times reported Tuesday that between 17 and 20 of these top-of-the-line fighter jets were damaged, some beyond the point of repair, when Hurricane Michael slammed ashore on Mexico Beach, Florida, not far from the Tyndall Air Force Base in the same state. The Times reports that more than a dozen of the F-22 Raptor stealth fighter jets were damaged after being left in the path of the extremely fierce storm:

President Trump’s tour Monday of devastation wrought by Hurricane Michael took him close to Florida’s Tyndall Air Force Base, where more than a dozen F-22 Raptor stealth fighter jets were damaged after being left in the path of the powerful storm.

The pricey fighter jets — some possibly damaged beyond repair — were caught in the widespread destruction that took at least 18 lives, flattened homes, downed trees and buckled roads from Florida to Virginia.

The decision to leave roughly $7.5 billion in aircraft in the path of a hurricane raised eyebrows, including among defense analysts who say the Pentagon’s entire high-tech strategy continues to make its fighter jets vulnerable to weather and other mishaps when they are grounded for repairs.

“This becomes sort of a self-defeating cycle where we have $400 million aircraft that can’t fly precisely because they are $400 million aircraft,” said Dan Grazier, a defense fellow at Project on Government Oversight. “If we were buying simpler aircraft then it would be a whole lot easier for the base commander to get these aircraft up and in working order, at least more of them.”

This is quite a statement. The F-22 is held to be the tip of the American air defense sword. A superb airplane (when it works), it can do things no other plane in the world can do. It boasts a radar profile the size of a marble, making it virtually undetectable by enemy radars. It is highly maneuverable with thrust-vectoring built into its engines.

However, to see a report like this is simply stunning. After all, one would expect that the best military equipment ought to be the most reliable as well. 

It appears that Hurricane Michael figuratively and physically blew the lid off any efforts to conceal a problem with these planes, and indeed with the hyper-technological basis for the US air fighting forcesThe Times continues:

Reports on the number of aircraft damaged ranged from 17 to 22 or about 10 percent of the Air Force’s F-22 fleet of 187.

The Air Force stopped buying F-22s, considered the world’s most advanced fighter jets, in 2012. The aircraft is being replaced by the F-35, another high-tech but slightly less-expensive aircraft.

Later in the tour, at an emergency command center in Georgia, Mr. Trump said the damage to the F-22s couldn’t be avoided because the aircraft were grounded and the storm moved quickly.

“We’re going to have a full report. There was some damage, not nearly as bad as we first heard,” he said when asked about the F-22s, which cost about $339 million each.

“I’m always concerned about cost. I don’t like it,” Mr. Trump said.

Still, the president remains a fan of the high-tech fighter jet.

“The F-22 is one of my all-time favorites. It is the most beautiful fighter jet in the world. One of the best,” he said.

The Air Force managed to fly 33 of the F-22s to safety, but maintenance and repair issues kept 22 of the notoriously finicky aircraft on the ground when the powerful storm hit the base.

About 49 percent of the F-22s are out of action at any given time, according to an Air Force report this year.

This is a stunning statistic. This means that of the 187 planes in existence, 90 of them are not working. At their cost, that means that over thirty billion dollars worth of military equipment is sitting around, broken, just in airplanes alone.

As a point of comparison, the entire Russian military budget for 2017 was $61 billion, with that budget producing hypersonic missiles, superb fighter aircraft and tanks. Russian fighter planes are known for being able to take harsh landing and take-off conditions that would cripple the most modern American flying machines.

It would seem that Hurricane Michael exposed a serious problem with the state of readiness of American armed forces. Thankfully that problem did not arise in combat, but it is no less serious.

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Saudi Arabia trying to squirm free of Khashoggi murder (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 2.

Alex Christoforou

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RT CrossTalk host Peter Lavelle and The Duran’s Alex Christoforou take a quick look at Saudi Arabia’s possible admission to killing journalist Jamal Khashoggi…accidentally, while they were torturing the man inside the consulate in Istanbul.

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Via Zerohedge

Even before the publication of last night’s Saudi trial balloon hinting that the kingdom would soon acknowledge that the extrajudicial killing of Jamal Khashoggi – the insider-turned dissident journalist who walked into the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last week and never walked back out – was the result of a “botched” kidnapping attempt carried out by “rogue killers” (despite reports that the US intelligence community knew that Khashoggi was being “targeted”), two realities had become increasingly clear. One: That the Saudis would avoid responsibility for the killing by pinning it on some unfortunate underling, and two: that there would be few, if any, lasting diplomatic repercussions.

And as more media organizations confirmed reports about Saudi’s plans to spin Khashoggi’s murder as a botched interrogation (we can only imagine what was said in that room to justify the use of such extreme violence), CNN calculated the Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met with Saudi King Salman in Riyadh for approximately 15 minutes early Tuesday, following his 12-hour-plus flight to the kingdom.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s meeting with King Salman of Saudi Arabia lasted no more than 15 minutes, CNN estimates based on the time the top US diplomat’s motorcade arrived at the royal court and departed.

The motorcade arrived at the royal court at 11:42 a.m. (4:42 a.m. ET) and left 26 minutes later. There is a fair distance to walk from where the motorcade dropped Pompeo off to where he met the king.

While Trump said on Monday that Pompeo would travel to Turkey “if necessary”, the Saudi’s decision to “come clean” about Khashoggi’s death pretty much rendered Pompeo’s fact-finding mission unnecessary.More important are developments in Turkey, where the joint Saudi-Turkish “investigation” is turning its attention toward the home of the Saudi consul, where a black diplomatic van that departed the Saudi consulate just under two hours after Khashoggi entered was captured on camera disappearing into a garage. Some speculate that this is where the killers finished disposing of Khashoggi’s body. This comes after a “nine-hour” search of the Saudi consulate building that, according to leaks published in Al-Jazeera, turned up “evidence of tampering” by the Saudis. On Tuesday, Turkey’s foreign minister clarified that Saudi had yet to admit its role in Khashoggi’s disappearance and probable death.

Turkish investigators will carry out a search of the Saudi Consul General’s residence on Tuesday as the probe into the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi continues, according to a Turkish diplomatic source.

CCTV footage released to the media from the day the Washington Post writer vanished show movement of vehicles from the consulate building to the Consul General’s residence nearby.

As speculation mounts that the incident could unseat the increasingly authoritarian Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman (who has already marginalized or incapacitated nearly every threat to his rule), it’s looking more likely that neither the US nor the rest of the Western world will do much to punish the world’s most important oil exporter, which can “weaponize” the oil market seemingly on a whim.

Any punishment for this flagrant violation of human rights will need to come, therefore, from the private sector, which, according to Bloomberg, could sabotage MbS’s grand Vision 2030 plan, which aims to remake the Saudi economy via a flood of foreign direct investment:

The economic strategy of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, known as MBS, is to make investment the main engine of economic growth instead of government spending, but the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi could frustrate these ambitions. Foreign direct investment, a key part of the plan to reinvent Saudi Arabia’s economy, declined sharply in 2017 and is unlikely to return to previous levels, leaving the government’s target for 2020 beyond reach, according to analysis by Bloomberg Economics. Increased policy uncertainty and, after the Khashoggi incident, the risk of reputational damage to foreign companies working in Saudi Arabia won’t help.

 

 

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