Actor Gérard Depardieu emigrated to Russia to pay lower taxes. In April, Pavel Durov left Russia, and his lucrative business there, because, he says, he values freedom — his own, and the idea — more than enormous wealth. "In my days in Russia, I visited some very rich guys," Durov tells The New York Times. "I visited big ships, private airplanes, houses — and I know for sure I don't want this for myself."
The iconoclastic young founder of Russian social network VKontakte, more popular than Facebook among Russians, was also prompted to sell his stake (for millions of dollars) and flee after a SWAT team showed up at his door in 2011, he says. That near-miss inspired him to launch the venture he's now promoting, Telegram, a secure messaging app. Durov, who has been bouncing from country to country for the last few months and considers himself "a legal citizen of the world," was in San Francisco this week promoting Telegram.
Durov started VKontakte in 2006, borrowing openly and heavily from early Facebook — he was celebrated "as Russia's Mark Zuckerberg," notes The Times' Danny Hakim. "The best thing about Russia at that time was the internet sphere was completely not regulated," Durov told Hakim in a rare in-person interview. "In some ways, it was more liberal than the United States." But President Vladimir Putin has increasingly cracked down on internet freedoms. "Since I'm obviously a believer in free markets," Durov added, "it's hard for me to understand the current direction of the country." Read more about Durov's life and flight at The New York Times. Peter Weber
"The last thing we can afford is to send a message to the world that the United States government, by the way, is only partially functioning," Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said Sunday in an interview with Face the Nation on CBS, citing tension with North Korea, the French election, and turmoil in Syria as situations that could be dangerously complicated by a U.S. government shutdown.
"I mean, that would just have catastrophic impact in my view or certainly very destabilizing I should say impact on global affairs," Rubio added. "And so we should keep that in mind going into this week." In 2013, Rubio indicated he was willing to "go all the way," which in context meant voting against a spending bill if it did not defund ObamaCare, even if that meant allowing the government to shut down.
A shutdown is expected if Congress does not pass a federal budget or spending extension by Friday, April 28. The White House has demanded any funding package include money for President Trump's proposed wall along the southern border, as well as a spending bump for the Defense Department. Congressional Democrats, suffice it to say, are not enthused.
Watch Rubio's comments in context below. Bonnie Kristian
— Face The Nation (@FaceTheNation) April 23, 2017
North Korea detained a Korean-American man named Tony Kim at the airport in Pyongyang on Friday, South Korea's Yonhap news agency reported Sunday. Kim is a professor who was in North Korea teaching a course at Pyongyang University of Science and Technology (PUST).
Kim is the third American citizen currently held by the isolated nation. The other two detainees were both arrested last year and sentenced to hard labor for subversive acts. Pyongyang has yet to comment on why Kim is in custody.
"The cause of his arrest is not known but some officials at PUST told me his arrest was not related to his work at PUST. He had been involved with some other activities outside PUST such as helping an orphanage," said PUST Chancellor Chan-Mo Park. "I sincerely hope and pray that he will be released soon." Bonnie Kristian
President Trump continues to have record-low approval ratings with the general public, but he is maintaining his core base of supporters, finds a Washington Post/ABC News poll released Sunday in advance of the 100-day mark of Trump's presidency on April 29. Just 42 percent of Americans approve of the job Trump is doing so far, compared to an average of 69 percent approval for past presidents around the same time in their administrations.
A majority of respondents said Trump does not understand their problems, is not trustworthy, has yet to score a major accomplishment as president, and is not guided by a clear set of principles. However, more Americans say Democrats are out of step with the public than feel the same about the GOP, and 96 percent of Trump voters said they would back him again today. Bonnie Kristian
North Korea on Sunday said it is prepared to bomb the USS Carl Vinson, a U.S. aircraft carrier leading a Navy carrier strike group toward North Korea in a show of force.
"Our revolutionary forces are combat-ready to sink a U.S. nuclear powered aircraft carrier with a single strike," said an editorial in a newspaper run by the Kim Jong Un regime's Workers' Party. The article called the ship a "gross animal" and the potential strike "an actual example to show our military's force."
The carrier strike group was first said to be on its way toward North Korea in early April, only to be sighted thousands of miles away, near Singapore. The Trump administration blamed the confusion on miscommunication, and the Vinson is now in transit to the Sea of Japan off the coast of North Korea. Bonnie Kristian
No one candidate is expected to take an outright majority; rather, four candidates are in contention to make it to the second round: far-right nationalist Marine Le Pen, center-right François Fillon, centrist Emmanuel Macron, and far-left populist Jean-Luc Mélenchon. Of these, Le Pen and Macron are generally considered the frontrunners in a close race, and Le Pen — an immigration and war on terror hardliner — is thought to benefit from the fear created by Thursday's terrorist attack in Paris.
France has a prime minister as well as a president; the current PM is a member of the Socialist Party. The prime minister is generally tasked with domestic policy while the president's focus is foreign affairs.
Bill Nye the Science Guy says lawmakers are 'deliberately ignoring and actively suppressing science'
"Without scientifically literate citizens, the United States — any country, in fact — cannot compete on the world stage," Bill Nye the Science Guy told a cheering crowd at the March for Science in Washington, D.C., on Saturday. "Yet today we have a great many lawmakers — not just here, but around the world — deliberately ignoring and actively suppressing science. Their inclination is misguided, and in no one's best interest."
Nye touted the ways scientific discoveries have improved global quality of life, arguing that science is not merely "purview of a different, or special, type of citizen." "Our numbers here today show the world that science is for all," he said, and government must come to recognize that "science serves every one of us."
The Washington event where Nye spoke was one of more than 600 marches scheduled around the globe on Saturday. "I think the profession of science is under attack," said scientist Lucky Tran, who helped organize the rallies, in an interview with NPR. "We haven't engaged in politics, we've left that open for politicians to come in and really hijack and obfuscate science for their own selfish needs."
Crowd size estimates are still in the making, but you can see scenes from a few of the marches below. Bonnie Kristian
— NBC10 Philadelphia (@NBCPhiladelphia) April 22, 2017
— Tom McKay (@thetomzone) April 22, 2017
— Megan Fieser (@mfieser7) April 22, 2017
— Dan Renzetti (@DanRenzetti) April 22, 2017
President Trump is planning 'a BIG rally in Pennsylvania' during the White House Correspondents' Dinner
Next Saturday night I will be holding a BIG rally in Pennsylvania. Look forward to it!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 22, 2017
The last president to miss the dinner was Ronald Reagan in 1981; he sent a phone message instead of appearing personally because he was recovering from an assassination attempt. Trump's decision to decline has been widely interpreted as retribution for press coverage he considers unfair. Bonnie Kristian