Saturday, August 27, 2016


Emily Barker

Trumps Minority Outreach

From the pen of Drew Sheneman

From the pen of Horsey

Just one of many stories

Immigration laws as currently constituted have created a situation that divides families in unnecessarily cruel fashion.
“I understand that I’m unauthorized and I know I did something wrong that went against U.S. law, but I’m not a criminal,” she said. “I haven’t committed any serious offenses such as robbery, murder or prostitution.”

Sanchez entered the United States illegally in 2000. Before that, she had attempted to illegally come through the San Ysidro Port of Entry, but agents turned her away.

She met Paulsen in Vista shortly after arriving. He noticed her at the bus stop in front of the body shop where he worked as a mechanic. Paulsen didn’t know a word of Spanish at the time, and the two used an acquaintance as an interpreter. The couple married just one month after they met, in a civil ceremony in Vista.

Sanchez was filing paperwork for legalization in 2006 when she was summoned out of the country, to an appointment with immigration authorities at the U.S. Consulate in Cuidad Juarez. Authorities told her she would be prohibited from returning home to Vista for 10 years, despite the fact that Paulsen, 51, is a U.S. citizen and a Marine veteran.

Immigration law at the time stipulated that applicants seeking legal status must return to their country of origin. But once an applicant who had been living in the United States without permission left the country, they were automatically barred from re-entering for at least three years, sometimes for up to a decade.

“My whole world came crashing down.… You can’t believe that in one minute they’re destroying your life, your family,” Sanchez said in Spanish from her home in Tijuana. She told her husband they should divorce.

“I tell people, ‘I’ve got to go see my wife, she lives in another country.’ It’s hard,” Paulsen said. “I’d like to one day come home and say, ‘Honey, what’s for dinner?’ I want to do that one day.”

Typically, a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident can petition for his spouse to receive a green card or permanent residence. Children over age 21 can petition on a parent’s behalf, according to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Sanchez, banned from the U.S. for 10 years, is eligible to apply for re-entry.
Her period of banishment is almost over, but Emma Sanchez is just one of many families that that are torn apart by laws that make no provision for families.

GOP fears Donald Has Screwed The Pooch

And the Republican Party is the pooch. Their greatest fears are in sections of the West where ugly conservatism has held sway for numerous election cycles up to now.
Republicans in Western states fear that Donald J. Trump could imperil their party for years to come in the country’s fastest-growing region as he repels a generation of Hispanics, Asians and younger voters who have been altering the electoral map.

Mr. Trump, with his insult-laden, culturally insensitive style of campaigning, is providing fuel for the demographic trends that are already reshaping the political composition of this once-heavily Republican territory. And now many Republicans are contemplating the possibility that states like Colorado or Nevada could soon become the next California: once competitive but now unwinnable in presidential contests.

In few places are the party’s woes over their nominee more immediate than here in Arizona, a state that has voted for the Democratic presidential candidate only once in the last 68 years.

Recent polls show Hillary Clinton is close to tying Mr. Trump here. And her campaign has responded by teaming up with local Democrats on a statewide get-out-the-vote operation, which has grown to 160 staff members across 20 offices.

While flipping Arizona has been a Democratic fantasy for years — and one that Clinton supporters acknowledge remains quite difficult — their efforts to register and recruit voters are part of a longer-term plan to capitalize on the Republican Party’s vulnerabilities with younger and minority voters.

Nonwhites are growing as a share of the electorate faster in the West than they are elsewhere. For the first time, minorities in 2012 accounted for at least 30 percent of the eligible voting population in Arizona, Nevada and Alaska — all states where Republicans currently hold top statewide offices. Colorado, where Mrs. Clinton’s campaign is so confident of a victory now that it has has no plans to buy advertising time through Election Day, is also approaching 30 percent.

The demographics were already daunting. But many Republicans now say Mr. Trump is only accelerating the flight of minority voters to the Democratic Party, like dry underbrush feeds an Arizona wildfire.
Some GOPers are saying things will be OK if you keep your distance from Trump. But the Great Orange Fungus is like a nuclear bomb, he can kill your election chances far from the immediate blast area.

A name can be important

Friday, August 26, 2016

Observe the Sabbath

Granville Automatic sings "Never On A Sunday" from Sun Studios, no doubt on one of the other days of the week/

The Professional

From the pen of Rob Rogers

Someone in France has some sense

From the New York Times:
France’s highest administrative court on Friday suspended a town’s ban on so-called burkinis, the full-body swimwear used by some Muslim women that has become the focus of intense debates over women’s rights, assimilation and secularism.

The Council of State, the top court in the French administrative justice system, ruled that the ban on bathing at the beach in the outfit, enacted by the town of Villeneuve-Loubet on Aug. 5, violated civil liberties, including freedom of movement and religious freedom.

At least 20 other municipalities, most of which are on the French Riviera, have imposed similar bans. Although the decision on Friday does not apply directly to them, it amounts to a warning that their prohibitions are likely to be similarly struck down if challenged in court. The largest such community is the city of Nice.
Lots of people wear inappropriate clothing at the beach and if Muslim women want to blame their outfits on their particular imaginary sky demon, so be it. So far the reaction to it has been the harmful part.

The sometime fatal flaw

That was embraced by corporations around the world because it was cheaper. And despite proven hazard to their customers, they were reluctant to give it up. I am referring to the Takata airbag inflator that has been recalled by just about every mass market carmaker, it was that ubiquitous.
In the late 1990s, General Motors got an unexpected and enticing offer. A little-known Japanese supplier, Takata, had designed a much cheaper automotive airbag.

G.M. turned to its airbag supplier — the Swedish-American company Autoliv — and asked it to match the cheaper design or risk losing the automaker’s business, according to Linda Rink, who was a senior scientist at Autoliv assigned to the G.M. account at the time.

But when Autoliv’s scientists studied the Takata airbag, they found that it relied on a dangerously volatile compound in its inflater, a critical part that causes the airbag to expand.

“We just said, ‘No, we can’t do it. We’re not going to use it,’” said Robert Taylor, Autoliv’s head chemist until 2010.

Today, that compound is at the heart of the largest automotive safety recall in history. At least 14 people have been killed and more than 100 have been injured by faulty inflaters made by Takata. More than 100 million of its airbags have been installed in cars in the United States by General Motors and 16 other automakers.

Details of G.M.’s decision-making process almost 20 years ago, which has not been reported previously, suggest that a quest for savings of just a few dollars per airbag compromised a critical safety device, resulting in passenger deaths. The findings also indicate that automakers played a far more active role in the prelude to the crisis: Rather than being the victims of Takata’s missteps, automakers pressed their suppliers to put cost before all else.

“General Motors told us they were going to buy Takata’s inflaters unless we could make a cheaper one,” Ms. Rink said. Her team was told that the Takata inflaters were as much as 30 percent cheaper per module, she added, a potential savings of several dollars per airbag. “That set off a big panic on how to compete.”
But have no fear ammonium nitrate lovers, Takata has a new and improved version of the same inflator that it says is safe and won't kill you when it goes off. Now, don't you feel better?

A moon colony would make many sad admirals

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Playing the Royal Opera

ABBA sings "Dancing Queen" to the King of Sweden on the eve of his marriage, those many years ago.

Why Big Pharma must die

From the pen of Jim Morin

Letting his mouth run wild worked in the primaries

But then he only had to appeal to a portion of the lunatic fringe to get what he wanted. Now that The Great Orange Fungus is the Republican candidate for president, he is discovering that a runaway mouth is a definite handicap. As much as he hates it, Donald Trump is now letting other people tell him what to do.
After months of flailing attempts, Donald J. Trump has begun to recast his political message in more structured terms and wrestle with his temptation to go off script, as his campaign seeks to revive his fading candidacy and turn the focus this fall to Hillary Clinton’s honesty and integrity.

Working off a script from his reshuffled team of advisers, Mr. Trump is also drastically tempering his language about the signature issue of his campaign: immigration. After winning the Republican nomination on a promise to deport all 11 million immigrants who are in the United States illegally, he indicated on Wednesday night that he was considering allowing some to stay if they had lived in the United States for many years, lacked criminal records and paid back taxes.

“We are going to come out with a decision very soon,” he said on Fox News, signaling flexibility on an issue that sharply divides undecided voters. He is expected to deliver a speech on immigration next week in Phoenix.

Mr. Trump is also spending far less time attacking his fellow Republicans and picking fights with people other than Mrs. Clinton, instead hammering away at her State Department tenure and her family’s charitable foundation. And he is aligning his stump speeches with his television advertising, vowing to crack down on violent crime and improve border security.

Aware of his unpopularity with white moderate voters, especially women who have been turned off by his racially charged words, he is trying to show interest in the lives of African-Americans and Hispanics, too, even as he uses language that offends those groups.

Many Republicans, weary of repeated promises of a reborn Mr. Trump, remain skeptical that he can stick to his message over the next 11 weeks, and some say it is too late to persuade most voters to see him anew.
Poor Donald, even if he can keep his mouth on a short leash, he will find that all those burnt bridges are difficult if not impossible to rebuild in the time left.

There are some vile people out there

And if they are not yet Trump supporters, then his campaign needs to get busy because these are his kind of people. The kind that would go beyond stealing lawn signs and put bleach in a cars gas tank and worse. And if you have to ask, yes they are from Texas.
Matt Steadman and his wife are proud Hillary Clinton supporters. They’ve put up yard sign after yard sign after yard sign (three) and each one disappeared almost as fast as they appeared. That didn’t surprise Steadman, who said it was, “no big deal.”

Then, things changed. It began with sign stuck under their door that said “Hillary for Prison 2016.” Then, their SUV was vandalized with bleach in the gas tank. The car can’t be repaired.

“Smelled the inside of my gas tank and there was bleach,” said Steadman. “I’ve never heard about bleach and gas tanks and cars.”

Then things got even worse, much worse. The Steadman’s adorable 2-year-old Shepard mix named Abby got sick.

“She started tremoring and she started shaking, I called Beth around 4 and said ‘I think somethings wrong with Abby.’ ”

Abby had ingested a neurotoxin and there was nothing the veterinarian could do.

Abby didn’t make it.
Stealing lawn signs is a grand Texas political tradition. Putting bleach in the gass tank is very creative, but poisoning a dog requires one sick fuck to do it. Pity the police in Richardson don't have the balls to investigate. Maybe it's a case for Internal Affairs?

If only he were white

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Something new from Norah

"Carry On" from Norah Jones

Only seems that big because of the price

From the pen of Matt Davies

People help people in times of crisis

And during Louisiana's current flood crisis, a great many people have stepped up to help their friends and neighbors and any one in need. All of this Christ-like behavior must have rubbed the Republicans the wrong way because now they are calling for regulating all these good people.
“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’”

And that’s exactly what the affectionately-dubbed Cajun Navy did during the terrible flooding in Louisiana that has killed six and displaced thousands. They have used their own boats and skiffs to patrol neighborhoods and try to help others, taking them where they need to go.

But a Republican lawmaker has now called for regulating those helpers, including mandating training, certificates and a permit fee.

“At the end of the day, there are going to be two things that are going to be the hurdle when you approach it from the state’s standpoint,” Sen. Jonathan Perry said in a local radio interview. “Liability is going to be number one for them. They don’t want the liability of someone going out to rescue someone and then not being able to find them (the rescuers) and, secondly, there’s a cost.”

Cajun Navy member Dustin Clouatre told USA Today that they’re against regulation, and it “doesn’t make sense.”

“How can you regulate people helping people?” Clouatre wondered.
Good question Mr Clouatre. But never forget that Republicans are really good at finding what is good in life and eliminating it.

Nice work if you can get it

Anybody who needs to keep an EpiPen knows what a life saver it can be. And now they are learning how expensive they can be despite the lack of any improvement in the product. As small consolation, EpiPen users are only one of 20 Mylan drugs that have taken a huge jump in price.
The executive of the pharmaceutical company that hiked the prices of two dozen drugs, including EpiPen, received a 671% pay increase over the past nine years.

Heather Bresch, chief executive officer of Mylan, came under public scrutiny this week after reports that since acquiring rights to EpiPen in 2007, the company had implemented a series of gradual price increases inflating the price of the drug from $56.64 to $317.82, a 461% increase in cost . During that same time, Bresch went from being Mylan’s chief operating officer to president to chief executive and saw her pay rise $2,453,456 to $18,931,068, a whopping 671% increase.

When Mylan first acquired Merck KGaA in 2007, Bresch oversaw the integration of its 400 products. Among those products was EpiPen, which is used to quickly deliver a proper dose of epinephrine to those suffering from anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis is when an allergic reaction causes one’s airways to swell and close. In a 2015 interview with Fortune, Bresch described EpiPen as “my baby”. Under her management, EpiPen went from bringing in $200m a year in sales to becoming Mylan’s first billion dollar product.

Following the outcry over the increase in EpiPen’s prices, Bresch, who is the daughter of West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin, could be called on to justify Mylan’s pricing before the US Congress. Her father does not sit on the Senate judiciary committee, who would most likely hear her testimony.

Mylan has hiked prices of other products as well, according to a June report by a Wells Fargo senior analyst David Maris.

“Mylan has raised the prices more than 20% on 24 products, and more than 100% on seven products,” he wrote.

Among the products whose prices were hiked over the past six months were:

Ursodiol, a drug used to treat gallstones, saw its price increase by 542%
Dicyclomine, a drug used to treat irritable bowel syndrome, saw its price increase by 400%
Tolterodine, a drug used to treat overactive bladders, saw its price increase by 56%

The Guardian has reached out to Mylan to confirm these hikes.

In his report, Maris noted that the price hikes could draw “greater regulatory scrutiny and headline risk”.

“Mylan’s business model is not today, nor has it ever been, premised on price hikes,” Nina Devlin, Mylan’s spokeswoman, said in June. She described Maris’ analysis was “flawed” and focused on a small selection of its 1,400 plus products.
Having daddy in the Senate will certainly make any inquiry less onerous than ordinary civilians would expect. And while there may be no improvement to the product, there is a most definite improvement to Ms Bresch's compensation as she has increased it $16 Million.

Cause and effect

Which effect do you want?

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Hard to find anything better

Gershwin music arranged by Nelson Riddle for Ella Fitzgerald to sing "The Man I Love"

Let's see the Olympics Trump this!

15 years and $70 Billion later

Another US soldier dies because the generals don't have the brains to end the conflict in Shitholeistan and the politicians don't have the balls.
A United States soldier was killed by a bomb near the southern Afghan city of Lashkar Gah and another was wounded, officials said on Tuesday, days after more than 100 American soldiers arrived there to help plan the strategic city’s defense against a fierce Taliban assault.

The United States military has increasingly found itself drawn back to regular combat situations this year as the Afghan forces have struggled against Taliban offensives.

The increased American presence around Lashkar Gah in particular, more than two years after British soldiers closed their last base in the city, highlights a scramble to prevent the fall of a major population center. For weeks before the Americans’ arrival, top Afghan generals were being sent from Kabul to hold the line as district after district came under attack, with the Taliban surrounding the city.

In a statement on Tuesday, the United States military said the service member had died of “wounds sustained during operations near Lashkar Gah,” the capital of Helmand Province, when a patrol encountered an improvised explosive device.
People may blame this on the Military Industrial Complex but they make minimal profit from this. Their money comes from boy toys like the F-35 Flying Brick, the latest nuclear carrier and unneeded C-130's M1A1's and other worthless projects that continue war or peace.

John asks Donald to do the right thing

He forgot about the essential bodily fluids

In Donny's own words

How you get to Trump

Monday, August 22, 2016

She has a way with a song

Rickie Lee Jones sings "Walk Away Rene" and adds back as much as some might think is lost.

Some things only happen at Election Time

And our intrepid correspondent Tom Tomorrow has collected some prime examples of the best of these phenomena.

Yes he does

From the pen of Paul Noth

R.I.P. Jean-Baptiste Frédéric Isidore Thielemans

Known as 'Toots' you made the harmonica into a soulful jazz instrument with a sound recognized around the world.

Let Reince do it

Because the Great Orange Fungus is far too busy looking fabulous and talking trash at his rallies to bother with any of the political stuff that goes with getting elected.
Donald J. Trump is leaning heavily on Republican Party organizations to provide crucial campaign functions like getting out the vote, digital outreach and fund-raising, at a time when some leading Republicans have called for party officials to cut off Mr. Trump and focus instead on maintaining control of Congress.

Despite an influx of campaign cash from small donors in July, Mr. Trump’s operation still largely resembles the bare-bones outfit that he rode to victory during the primary season, more concert tour than presidential campaign, according to interviews and documents filed with the Federal Election Commission through Saturday night. And some Republicans believe he is effectively out of time to invest in the kind of large-scale infrastructure that the Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, will bring to the polls in November.

Mr. Trump spends little on polling and made his first advertising purchase of the general election campaign only last week. His rapidly growing digital fund-raising and voter-targeting operation is a partnership with the Republican National Committee, relying significantly on lists built and maintained in recent years by the party.

In July, when Mrs. Clinton spent almost $3 million to field a staff of 700 people at her Brooklyn headquarters and in swing states around the country, according to Federal Election Commission payroll data, Mr. Trump spent more money on renting arenas for his speeches than he did on payroll. A senior Trump campaign official, who asked for anonymity because he was not permitted to discuss staffing publicly, said Mr. Trump’s campaign had fewer than 200 total staff members at the end of July, about evenly divided between field offices and New York.

Although he has opened offices in Ohio and Florida in recent weeks, Mr. Trump’s field efforts rely primarily on roughly 500 Republican National Committee organizers scattered across 11 swing states.

The arrangement is a kind of throwback to the pre-Citizens United era, when party organizations — not independent “super PACs” and political nonprofits — assumed many of the financial and organizational burdens of national campaigns.

But it also highlights the bind in which Republican leaders find themselves as Mr. Trump’s struggles threaten to undermine the party’s Senate and House candidates in November: As dependent as Mr. Trump is on their organization, the party is now deeply dependent on Mr. Trump’s surging base of small donors to finance it.
A truly parasitic relationship between the two and it couldn't happen to a more deserving class of vermin.

Your bank doesn't want to see you

But your money is welcome through their doors any time. With the continuing growth of the Internet and what it can do for you, banks are hoping you will stay home to do your banking so they can close those expensive branches and dump all those costly little people they keep there.
The case for reining in sprawling branch networks as a way to cut costs looks compelling.

The traditional branch costs roughly $2-4 million to set up and $200,000-400,000 per year to operate, according to Ed O'Brien, an analyst at Mercator Advisory Group. For big banks with thousands of branches – many of them clustered in pricey urban centers – it can get expensive.

For instance, an eight block stretch near Manhattan's Penn Station houses 14 bank branches - Astoria Bank, Apple Bank, Capital One, Citibank, HSBC, PNC, TD Bank, Sterling National Bank, Wells Fargo, two Bank of America branches, and three Chase branches.

Yet bank executives argue that, in a competitive market, they need to be footsteps away from the best customers.

Executives at JPMorgan Chase & Co (JPM.N), the country's largest bank, say each branch earns about $1 million in annual profit, but takes a decade to reach its full potential.

Chase bankers regularly scrutinize data on branch foot traffic and what customers do while inside to determine whether a location should remain open, shut down or shrink.

The bank has shut 265 locations since 2013, roughly 5 percent of its network, but executives insist that branches remain essential for JPMorgan's relationships with customers. They are the best way to sell clients many products and services ranging from mortgages to investment advice, according to Gordon Smith, JPMorgan's head of consumer and community banking.

"Often I will be asked why don't we just accelerate closings. Why don't we close 400 or 500 branches?" Smith said at the 2016 investor day. "The answer is that customers won't go there."

Banks do keep trying to steer customers to digital tools.

They have reduced the number of tellers and moved them to the back. Their ATMs can perform more sophisticated tasks and banks have developed nifty mobile apps for routine banking needs. They are even experimenting with digital loan underwriting.

Yet customers still expect contact with bank staff and JPMorgan recently had to hire more tellers after customer complaints.

JPMorgan and Wells Fargo data show most customers visit branches several times every quarter, though younger clients tend to visit less often.

It may be too early to tell what happens in the long run when a big bank shutters many branches.

Bank of America Corp (BAC.N), which has closed a quarter of its branches since 2009, could eventually serve as a test case.
BAC may be a good case for what happens as it has long been averse to smaller customers as well as staff. If they could reasonably get rid of all the people and just deal with the money they would be very happy.

Oliver on the Charter School Scam

Education is not pizza, my friend.

How can you add 2+2 without the first 2

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Mother and daughter singing together

Irene Kelley, in red and her daughter Justyna sing "Rattlesnake Rattler"

The Future of Denial (Not The River)

From the pen of Brian McFadden

click pic to big

The Party of the Damned

That would be the Republicans who find themselves in the position of having to stay with Donald Trump if they don't want to lose everything, even as he drags them down to the eventual loss of everything.
The argument pits pundits such as Michael Gerson and David Books, against tacticians close to congressional leaders who have one priority: keeping the Senate and House in Republican hands after November.
The Republicans close to congressional leaders argue their party can’t afford to completely cut ties to Trump if it wants to avoid a disaster this fall.

“The bandwagonning [against Trump] that a lot of Democrats are trying to goad Republicans into is one way of ensuring that very good [Republican] candidates have an even harder time getting across the finish line in November,” said one Senate Republican strategist. “A lot of Republican commentators and analysts fall in the same category.

“They want to make the argument we have to stand up against this guy on principle. The problem with that is if you do so, you end up taking out really good Republicans,” the source added.

Republicans have to defend 24 Senate seats this year while Democrats only need to protect 10. Democrats will capture the upper chamber if they pick up four seats and keep the White House.

Gerson, a senior aide to President George W. Bush and columnist for The Washington Post, and Brooks, a conservative columnist for The New York Times, have loudly called on Republicans to distance themselves from Trump.

Gerson warned on Monday that “Trump may cost the GOP a generation of voters.”

He urged party leaders such as Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus, Speaker Paul Ryan (Wis.) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) to consider that at some schools with large minority populations, chanting Trump is viewed as a racial taunt.

Earlier in the year, Gerson wrote that if Priebus endorsed Trump’s nomination, “it would turn the sins of Trump in to the sins of the GOP” and squander the party’s legacy in a “squalid and hopeless political effort.”

Brooks warned earlier this month that Republicans who refuse to disavow Trump “are being sucked down a nihilistic whirlpool.”

“If you’re not in revolt, you’re in cahoots. When this period and your name are mentioned, decades hence, your grandkids will look away in shame,” he wrote.
So the GOP finds itself in a position where it can not change horses in mid stream even though the horse they are on won't make it to the other side. This is fun!

That was then

Back in the good old days when she worked for someone else, Kellyanne Conway blasted The Great Orange Fungus for not releasing his tax returns. Now that she works for The GOF she has had a "come to Jeebus" moment.
Donald Trump's campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, said Sunday morning that she does not want the Republican presidential nominee to release his tax returns until an audit by the Internal Revenue Service is completed, abandoning a position that she took five months ago, when she didn't work for the campaign and urged Trump to "be transparent" and release the filings.

"I've learned since being on the inside that this audit is a serious matter and that he has said that when the audit is complete, he will release his tax returns," Conway said during an interview on ABC's "This Week" that aired Sunday morning. "I also know as a pollster that what concerns people most about quote 'taxes' is their own tax liability, and so we appreciate people being able to see Hillary Clinton's plan and Donald Trump's plan and figure out who will really get the middle-class tax relief."

According to Trump's attorneys, his tax returns filed since 2009 are under audit but those from 2002 to 2008 are no longer under audit. Conway said Sunday in an interview on CNN that she does not want Trump to release those returns, either.
It is easy to understand that a minion would conform her ideas to those of her boss. It is offensive for her to pretend there is any other reason for her change of heart.

Don't Like Putin? Don't Make Long Range Plans

Many people have an image of Lucretia Borgia as an Arch-Poisoner but one look at modern day Russia and Vladimir Putin emerges as the new King of the Hill in that field.
Russia’s president, Vladimir V. Putin, 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.

Muckraking journalists, rights advocates, opposition politicians, government whistle-blowers and other Russians who threaten that image are treated harshly — imprisoned on trumped-up charges, smeared in the news media and, with increasing frequency, killed.

Political murders, particularly those accomplished with poisons, are nothing new in Russia, going back five centuries. Nor are they particularly subtle. While typically not traceable to any individuals and plausibly denied by government officials, poisonings leave little doubt of the state’s involvement — which may be precisely the point.

“Outside of popular culture, there are no highly skilled hit men for hire,” Mark Galeotti, a professor at New York University and an authority on the Russian security services, said in an interview. “If it’s a skilled job, that means it’s a state asset.”

Other countries, notably Israel and the United States, pursue targeted killings, but in a strict counterterrorism context. No other major power employs murder as systematically and ruthlessly as Russia does against those seen as betraying its interests abroad. Killings outside Russia were even given legal sanction by the nation’s Parliament in 2006.

Applied most notoriously in the case of Alexander V. Litvinenko, a Putin opponent who died of polonium-210 poisoning in London in 2006, murders and deaths under mysterious circumstances are now seen as such a menace that Kremlin critics now often flee the country and keep their whereabouts secret.

Russia has never acknowledged using the authority under the 2006 law and has specifically denied any government ties to high-profile cases, including the Litvinenko murder.
Putin is old school and remembers the old ways. And if they help him to remain in power, they are good enough for him.

A Few Words From God Today

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