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Putin panic: ‘From hero to zero’
Dec 16th, 2014 by Warren Swil

Economy in free fall

as Russian leader’s

popularity peaks

President Vladimir Putin is trashed by global money managers as Russians applaud.

President Vladimir Putin is trashed by global money managers as Russians applaud.

As the Russian economy was slammed on global financial markets, the man at the center of the storm had a big smile on his face.
The Moscow Times reported Tuesday that Russians had just named President Vladimir Putin the ‘politician of the year’ for the 15th consecutive time.
As investors ran for the exits and the currency collapsed, a whiff of panic swept financial markets from east to west after the failure of a dramatic, midnight attempt by the Russian central bank to stem the flood with a massive interest rate hike.
The irony is rich. As his political popularity at home reaches new heights, Putin is getting trashed by money managers everywhere.


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Torture report ‘shame and disgrace’

US MORAL AUTHORITY SINKS TO A NEW LOW
There is only one good thing to say about the U.S. Senate’s report on torture: that it was made public.
The entire world is now lumping the US together with those like China, Iran and North Korea who are at the bottom of the heap when it comes to respect for human rights.
The only difference remains the candor of America when it comes to recognizing its mistakes. The very release of the report is the one bright spot in an otherwise dark and dismal chapter of our history.


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Privacy lost: A pact with the devil?

Hidden cost of technology slowly becomes apparent
As we rush headlong into the era of constant connectivity through mobile devices, the price we are paying in surrendering our privacy is coming into sharper focus.
We are marching blindly into a future where even the most personal and private information is collected and stored on a server somewhere. We should do so with a heightened awareness of the hidden cost of the perceived convenience of hyper connectivity.


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Time to end ‘war on drugs,’ starting with marijuana

NYT’S CALL FOR LEGAL POT DOES NOT GO FAR ENOUGH
While The New York Times’ prominent series of editorials calling for legalizing marijuana is laudable, it misses the real target.
The conversation should not start and end with pot. We need to mobilize in support of the proposition that substance abuse in general is not a matter for the criminal justice system at all.
Instead, it is a public health issue. Civilized countries have long moved in this direction. The US needs to evolve from incarcerating substance abusers to treating them.


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REALPOLITIK: Jetliner attack unlikely to spark World War III

RUSSIA’S PUTIN HAS GLOBAL ECONOMY OVER A BARREL – FOR NOW
The muted reaction to the downing of a passenger jet by those in a position to do something about it reflects the new realities of an interconnected, mutually-dependent global economy.
The chief villain in western eyes, the Russian Federation has become a strategically significant player in the global economy.
If this acts to restrain the hotheads who would immediately bomb Moscow in retaliation, the entire world can breathe a sigh of relief.


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CULTURE SHOCK: Would US elect two women to run the country?

CLINTON-WARREN TICKET WOULD COVER ALL THE BASES
It is not too early to speculate that a Hillary Clinton-Elizabeth Warren presidential ticket in 2016 would cover all the Democratic bases.
Inviting Warren onto the ticket would cover many political gaps in Clinton’s support.
It would energize the base and give the progressive wing of the party a reason to get out and vote.
And it could have a salutary effect on a Hillary Clinton presidency.


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Villain of Iraq invasion makes astounding comeback

CHALABI SEEN AS POSSIBLE CONTENDER FOR PRIME MINISTER SLOT
One of the most villainous players in the disastrous 2003 US invasion of Iraq has made an astounding comeback.
The resurrection of Ahmad Chalabi was, ironically, capped with a front-page story and photo in The New York Times today.
It reminds us of one the main reasons Iraq finds itself in such an impossible quandary today and the role US media played in getting it there.


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Outrageous: Cheney dares to critique Iraq policy

A REMINDER THAT HE WAS MOST WRONG ABOUT MOST THINGS
The utterly outrageous op-ed by the one most wrong about most things to do with Iraq at the most enormous cost in blood and treasure dares to call President Obama “blithely unaware.”
Dick Cheney is wrong again.
Chutzpah is not nearly strong enough to describe Cheney’s latest foray into the debacle he foisted on the world. He should shut up, already, for all time.


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Frightful implosion of Ottoman Empire remnants accelerates

VANISHING MIDDLE EAST ‘NATION STATES’ POSE THREAT OF CONFLAGRATION
The world spotlight has again turned to the slow-motion implosion of what was once the Ottoman Empire.
The ‘border’ between Iraq and Syria has been effectively erased, and the region is poised on the edge of conflagration. One hundred years of nation-states are coming apart, with dangerous global implications.
The world is powerless to intervene in what has become an epochal earthquake.
There are no easy answers, and those who pose them should be regarded as fools who would plunge us all over the abyss.


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HARD CHOICES: Clinton inevitability in 2016 a media myth

POTENTIAL CHALLENGER SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN COULD UPSET DYNASTY
With all the hype about Hillary Clinton’s new book, it may seem her victory in 2016 is increasingly inevitable.
But, political memories are short. Everyone seems to have forgotten that Clinton also seemed “inevitable” in 2008 – until an upstart from Illinois proved otherwise.
If there is a remote chance that anyone can challenge the emerging Clinton lock on the 2016 presidential race, it is embodied in Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren. Let’s all hope she is up to the challenge.


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