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Politibetch: The White House Refuses to Deport Bieber & Other News

Politibetch: The White House Refuses to Deport Bieber & Other News

Happy Monday, betches. Here's the important political news you've been waiting for:

The White House responds to petition to deport Justin Bieber

Well sort of. The White House’s official comment was that they had no comment. Such a fucking let down. Justin will continue to douche up the American music industry after all. Read article>>


A Very Obama Easter

This past Sunday was the annual White House Easter Egg Roll. WTF's an egg roll? Well apparently it's when the kids roll an Easter egg across the lawn with a spoon to see who gets across the fastest (or, in other words, nothing that exciting). When addressing the crowd, Obama said that the egg roll was the biggest event the White House has held all year…which is kind of fucking sad if you ask me. The first lady also read a book to the children called “my garden” and encouraged the kids to see her vegetable garden and learn about “tasty, healthy foods”. Never an inappropriate time for a political plug! We get it Michelle, you want to fight obesity and blah blah blah, but you can at least take Easter off (a holiday almost exclusively dedicated to candy) from making the fat kids feel bad about themselves. Read article>>


Biden is heading to Ukraine

Joe Biden is headed to Ukraine to, we assume, offend even more people with his word vomit and inappropriate comments. That said, forcing the invading Russians deal with Biden just HAS TO be part of Obama's sanctions. That or Obama is just sick of dealing with him and uses anything as an excuse to get him out of the country. “Yea, go to Ukraine. You'll be SOOO much help there!” Obama's motivations aside, we might actually be able to get something out of this. Official threat to Putin: give back Crimea or Biden stays. Shit will be straightened out in no time flat. Read article>>


The Heartbleed virus causes problems for healthcare.gov

Healthcare.gov has obviously been plagued with problems from the beginning. I mean, I haven't seen Facebook go down once but healthcare.gov goes down all the fucking time…what's the deal? Now a cyber security scare caused by the Heartbleed virus is forcing users of the site to change their passwords. Again, this is a website operated by the federal government. You would think, or at least hope, that shit would be more protected than that. As we've said before, if the government can (allegedly) tap everyone's phones and monitor everyone's email, we should also be able to keep healthcare.gov running smoothly for, like, 5 fucking minutes. Seriously, healthcare.gov, get your shit together. Read article>>

Read more: http://www.betcheslovethis.com/article/politibetch-the-white-house-refuses-to-deport-bieber-other-news

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Ukraine Pleads For Help Against “Russian Invasion” Of Crimea

Ukraine Pleads For Help Against “Russian Invasion” Of Crimea

Fears of civil war over the separatist peninsula are growing. Yanukovych is defiant.

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Baz Ratner / Reuters

Updated — 7:30 p.m. ET:

SEVASTOPOL, Ukraine — Ukraine appealed to Western powers and the United Nations to help resolve the spiraling crisis in Crimea after unidentified armed men seized two airports and Russian troops were spotted making ominous movements around the peninsula.

Even as Ukraine’s ousted, pro-Russian president called for investigations of his ouster in a press conference from a southern Russian city, Ukraine’s parliament asked the United Nations Security Council to hold a special session on the situation in Crimea and appealed to the U.S., Britain, and Russia to uphold a 1994 agreement to guarantee the country’s territorial integrity. Russia has said that it wants to maintain Ukraine’s territorial integrity, but spent several months flagrantly violating another point of the agreement, which agrees to refrain from pressuring Ukraine economically by threatening to cut aid if the country drifted out of the Kremlin’s embrace.

Acting President Olexander Turchynov, who is also the speaker of parliament, presided over an emergency Ukrainian security council meeting as reports trickled in of Russian troop movements. Russia, Turchnyov told reporters, had used a military drill as cover for an “Abkhazia scenario,” referring to a breakaway territory of Georgia Russian troops occupied after a four-day war in 2008.

“I am personally addressing President [Vladimir] Putin to stop the provocation and call back the military from the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, and work exclusively within the framework of the signed agreements,” Turchynov said Friday evening. “The whole civilized world supports Ukraine. We demand to stop this provocation, we demand to normalize the situation.”

Acting Interior Minister Arsen Avakov wrote on Facebook that the groups of armed men who took control of Simferopol and Sevastopol airports Friday morning were Russian soldiers and accused the Kremlin of an “armed invasion and occupation.”

“This is a direct attempt to provoke armed bloodshed on the territory of a sovereign state,” Avakov wrote.

U.N. diplomat Robert Serry met with Turchynov on Friday and told him the organization was “ready to offer all and any help possible to solve the difficult situation that has arisen in Crimea,” Turchynov’s Fatherland party said in a statement. The U.N Security Council was set to hold a closed-door meeting later Friday.

President Obama called Russian actions in Ukraine “deeply destabilizing” on Friday and warned that incursions into the country by Russian forces would violate international law.

“We are now deeply concerned by reports of military movements by the Russian Federation inside Ukraine,” Obama said in a late afternoon statement from the White House.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers said it looked as though Russia had taken over the region.

“It appears that the Russian military now controls the Crimean peninsula. This aggression is a threat not only to Ukraine, but to regional peace and stability,” Rogers said. “Russia’s latest action is yet another indicator that Vladimir Putin’s hegemonic ambitions threaten U.S. interests and allies around the world.”

Secretary of State John Kerry told reporters that the U.S. would watch to see if Russia “might be crossing a line in any way,” but said the White House would be “very careful” before making any judgements.

“While we were told that they are not engaging in any violation of the sovereignty and do not intend to, I nevertheless made it clear that could be misinterpreted at this moment,” Kerry said. “There are enough tensions that it is important for everybody to be extremely careful not to inflame the situation and not send the wrong messages.”

Russia’s foreign ministry confirmed in a statement that the armored personnel carriers spotted around Crimea were Russian, but said that they were only working to supply their naval base in Sevastopol, as permitted under a deal with Ukraine. The ministry added that Russia sees events in Crimea “as the consequence of recent internal political processes in Ukraine” and would not intervene.

Twenty men BuzzFeed found guarding the road to Sevastopol airport Friday afternoon were wearing civilian clothes and black-and-orange bands symbolizing the Soviet victory in World War II, which saw heavy fighting in Crimea. A dozen well-armed soldiers stood watch over them, but it was not clear which country they represented.

Andrei Sitnikov, a local villager guarding the post, said he called out to the armed men, but they wouldn’t speak to him.

“I’m out to defend my family. I’m not scared of them,” he said, as a truck towing an armored personnel carrier with no license plates drove past. Trucks BuzzFeed saw on the road from Simferopol, the provincial capital, had black Russian military plates.

Russia has backed separatists in Georgia and other nations on its perimeter, and Ukrainian leaders fear that Moscow will use the tactic to weaken the power of the central government and give it an even stronger foothold in the divided country. Russia’s parliament is to debate bills that would make it easy for Crimea to join Russia and for Ukrainians to obtain Russian citizenship, a tactic used in the breakaway Georgian territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. They have also taken in Viktor Yanukovych, who claims he is still Ukraine’s legitimate president, despite fleeing Kiev in the early hours of Feb. 22.

“Nobody overthrew me in Ukraine. I was forced to flee under threat” from Nazis “representing the absolute minority in Ukraine,” Yanukovych said. “I intend to fight for the future of Ukraine against those who are trying to saddle it with fear and terror.”

He also appeared to blame the U.S. and Europe for his ouster: “The shocks and victims are the result of the irresponsible policies of the West, which supported the Maidan,” he said, referring to the central Kiev square that has been the heart of protests.

How much Russian support Yanukovych actually enjoys is another question. During his press conference, Yanukovych said he and Putin would meet when the latter “had time” and implored him to break his weeks-long silence on the Ukrainian crisis. In conversation with British Prime Minister David Cameron, however, Putin said early elections scheduled for May 25 were “the best way to secure a positive future for Ukraine in which all Ukrainian people are represented.” That essentially means the Kremlin has dropped Yanukovych, who says the elections are illegal and is refusing to participate in them. The Kremlin said Putin told Cameron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and European Council chairman Herman van Rompuy that any further violence was unacceptable.

Ukraine’s general prosecutor’s office asked Russia to extradite Yanukovych on charges of mass murder for violent clashes last week in which dozens died, though the Kremlin’s apparent sheltering of the ousted leader and continued recognition of him as Ukraine’s president makes the prospect of that seem unlikely.

Ukraine’s security forces have been divided on how to deal with Crimea, which is home to many members of the Berkut riot police unit widely reviled in Kiev for their attempts to suppress the months-long encampment on the Maidan. Turchnyov fired army chief of staff Yuri Ilin Friday without specifying reasons. Ilin became chief of staff last week when Yanukovych fired his predecessor for not using the army against protesters in Kiev. Ukrainian outlet Levy Bereg reported that Ilin was hospitalized in Sevastopol Thursday after suffering a heart attack. Turchnyov also replaced the head of Ukraine’s interior ministry conscript troops later Friday.

Gennady Moskal, a former Crimean police captain now in parliament, has claimed that many of the armed men seizing government buildings in the peninsula were Berkut members revolting against the new government. Avakov said earlier this week that Ukraine would dissolve Berkut and only allow former members who met strict requirements to join its replacement. Then on Friday, Russia’s interior ministry said it would hire the former Berkut troops once they received expedited Russian citizenship. Russia later announced its consulate in Simferopol would give the division Russian passports.

A Russian foreign ministry spokesperson told BuzzFeed the entire 4,000-strong division would be eligible for a passport, but declined to say why Russia was offering them. A sign outside the consulate said it was closed until Monday, after which it will only accept appointments made in advance by phone.

Rustam Temirgaliyev, first deputy prime minister in the new Crimean government, said on his Facebook page that late Thursday night he had met Berkut fighters. They agreed to form a new Crimean special forces unit, also called Berkut, that would answer only to the Crimean government. Legislators in the Crimean parliament supported the decision today, according to Temirgaliyev.

It was not immediately clear who the men occupying the airports, dressed similarly to men who occupied Crimea’s parliament Thursday, were. Russian state media claimed the men were members of Crimean “self-defense” units formed in the autonomous province in response to the violent overthrowal of Yanukovych last week.

A spokesperson for Russia’s Black Sea fleet, which stations about 15,000 troops in a naval base in the Crimean port of Sevastopol, denied that it had blocked the airport there, but did not comment on the airport in Simferopol, the provincial capital. Reports trickled in of Russian troop carriers driving around near Sevastopol, where Ukraine’s border service said Russia’s military had blocked the sea border at Balaklava.

Russian media reported by nightfall that the Ukrainian government had closed all airspace over Crimea, though both airports were still open. Ukraine’s telephone monopoly lost all contact with Crimea and phone service within Crimea after men seized its nodes.

Reputable Ukrainian newspaper Zeraklo Nedeli reported that these military helicopters arrived in Crimea from a Russian base in Anapa:

Video available at: http://youtube.com/watch?v=2TVyPiHVZ1A.

youtube.com

Read more: http://buzzfeed.com/maxseddon/ukraine-pleads-for-help-against-russian-invasion-of-crimea

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Putin’s Aid Convoy Raises Fears of A Russian Invasion Of Eastern Ukraine

Putin’s Aid Convoy Raises Fears of A Russian Invasion Of Eastern Ukraine

Prospect of a prolonged standoff on the border tailor-made for Russian TV looms large. BF_STATIC.timequeue.push(function () { if (BF_STATIC.bf_test_mode) localStorage.setItem(‘posted_date’, 1407849890); }); BF_STATIC.timequeue.push(function () { document.getElementById(“update_posted_time_3415547”).innerHTML = “posted on ” + UI.dateFormat.get_formatted_date(1407849890); });

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A Russian convoy of trucks sets off from near Moscow. Reuters Tv / Reuters

KIEV, Ukraine — What’s in the 280 trucks that set out from a depot near Moscow for eastern Ukraine on Tuesday morning, freshly painted white and blessed by an Orthodox priest? Are they, as Russia says, carrying vital aid for civilians in the conflict-stricken Luhansk region? Or a pretext for an invasion to prevent the tide turning against the Kremlin-backed rebel groups? Or, in a way, are they both?

Vladimir Putin caught the world by surprise on Monday evening when he announced a Russian “humanitarian convoy” for civilians in eastern Ukraine. Moscow claims the trucks —which appear to be hastily repainted military trucks and have no license plates — are carrying much-needed supplies like food, sleeping bags, and generators for the city of Luhansk, which has been without water and electricity for ten days as Ukrainian forces encircle it.

But neither the Red Cross, the organization in charge of an aid initiative proposed by Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, nor the government in Kiev know what’s really in the trucks. Ukraine fears that Russia would use the aid as cover for military action, pointing to a video showing similar trucks stationed near the border. A radar system for a highly sophisticated S-300 anti-aircraft missile system appears to be alongside the trucks.

Video available at: http://youtube.com/watch?v=IcckEprQ9Hc.

Youtube / Via youtube.com

“They are trying to use the pretext of humanitarian aid and assistance, and it seems that they are just running out of excuses for their policy,” Ukrainian deputy foreign minister Danylo Lubkivskiy told reporters in Kiev. “You don’t need tanks and artillery to bring food and medicine to civilians.”

Ukraine vows that it will stop the trucks when they reach the border and only let their cargo through if the Red Cross transfers them under a plan the organization is not expected to finish devising for another week. With the trucks expected to arrive as early as Wednesday morning, the prospect of a prolonged standoff tailor-made for Russian TV now looms large.

It remains unclear exactly where the aid will be transferred into eastern Ukraine, be it in territory held by Russian-backed militia, or the Ukrainian government.

Kiev is damned if it lets the aid in, and damned if it doesn’t. Allowing Russia to seize the initiative would create the impression that Ukraine cannot protect its own citizens in the east — or, worse, has little intention to do so given its single-minded focus on wrapping up operations against Russian-backed rebel groups there in a matter of weeks.

Blocking the aid, on the other hand, could make matters even worse. Holding the trucks up at the border could confront Kiev with its own version of the ill-fated “Gaza flotilla,” reinforcing Moscow’s narrative that it is the protector of the Russian-speakers predominant in the region while Ukrainian forces continue their often indiscriminate shelling of major populated areas.

Putin’s move has aroused major skepticism in Western capitals, where officials have long accused him of funneling weapons and reinforcements to the rebels and say they will only approve humanitarian missions led by the Red Cross. NATO’s secretary general says there is now a “high probability” the 45,000 Russian troops stationed on the border will invade.

Carl Bildt @carlbildt

So far Russia has sent weapons, tanks and fighters across border into Eastern Ukraine. And produced death, destruction and despair.

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But though the trucks are stoking fears Putin is intent on war, they may also make him better placed to sue for peace. The controversy may force a halt to Kiev’s offensive in the east, which Poroshenko ordered on the evident belief that Russia would not intervene openly to stop the rebels from being routed. The sheer size of the convoy — the trucks are carrying 2,000 tons of goods, according to Russian state media — and the grandiose nature of the gesture makes it clear that, even as government forces surround militia positions and rebel appeals to Moscow for help become ever more desperate, Russia will not let the crisis end if it is not party to a solution.

Read more: http://buzzfeed.com/maxseddon/is-putins-aid-convoy-really-a-cover-for-an-invasion-of-easte

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Sens. McCain And Murphy Working On Ukraine Sanctions Bill

Sens. McCain And Murphy Working On Ukraine Sanctions Bill

A Magnitsky Act-style bill would target those behind violence that has killed dozens of protesters in Ukraine. Updated with statement from McCain and Murphy.

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Stringer / Reuters

Updated — 4:28 p.m. ET

WASHINGTON — Sens. John McCain and Chris Murphy are writing a bill that would enact sanctions against people responsible for violence against anti-government protesters in Ukraine, two sources with knowledge of the bill told BuzzFeed.

“Folks are working on it,” a senior Senate aide said on Wednesday. “Would be targeted sanctions against individual Ukrainians responsible for ordering or carrying out violence against peaceful protesters, as opposed to blanket sanctions against Ukraine.”

The specific details of the bill are not yet clear. McCain and Murphy will announce the bill today, a source said. The two senators visited Ukraine in December to lend support to protesters who have been demonstrating against Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych’s decision to turn the country closer to Russia and reject a deal with the European Union.

Pressure to enact sanctions against Ukraine has mounted after dozens of anti-government protesters were killed and hundreds injured in clashes with police this week.

The violence is spurring condemnation from the highest levels of the U.S. government. President Obama is expected to address the Ukraine situation in public comments later on Wednesday.

“We have made it clear we would consider taking action against individuals who are responsible for acts of violence within Ukraine,” Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes told reporters on Air Force One on Wednesday. “We have a toolkit for doing that that includes sanctions.”

Secretary of State John Kerry also publicly raised the threat of sanctions in an appearance in Paris today.

The European Union is also weighing sanctions against those responsible for the violence.

The State Department has already enacted a number of visa bans against top Ukrainian officials.

“We have begun working together on legislation that would impose targeted sanctions on government officials and other persons who have committed, ordered, or materially supported acts of violence against peaceful citizens in Ukraine, or who are complicit in the rollback of Ukraine’s democracy,” McCain and Murphy said in a joint statement on Wednesday afternoon. “These sanctions should not, and will not, target the people or the country of Ukraine as a whole. Instead, they will be narrowly focused on those individuals who must be held accountable for violating human rights and undermining democracy. We remain in contact with the Administration and look forward to working together on this legislation.”

Read more: http://buzzfeed.com/rosiegray/senators-mccain-and-murphy-working-on-ukraine-sanctions-bill