The Russian military is reportedly in effective control of Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula, a move that is bound to have deep repercussions for the region and Russia's relationship with the West. It's early days yet, but so far the sense is that Russian President Vladimir Putin has pulled a fast one on the new provisional government in Ukraine and a European Union that would like to pull Ukraine and other Russian satellites into its orbit.
But what if the wily Putin has actually made a terrible mistake?
That is what Eugene Romer and Andrew S. Weiss suggest in an article in Politico Magazine, arguing:
We should not take for granted that even in Ukraine’s east and south, where so many ethnic Russians live, that a military occupation will be a cakewalk. Many local residents surely do not want to become Russia’s 90th province. In Ukraine’s west, where the Soviet Army had to fight a protracted counterinsurgency campaign after WWII against Ukrainian nationalist guerrillas, armed resistance is certain to be strong. During the revolution, many army depots and armories were overrun so there are more weapons floating around Ukraine than at any point since 1991. And the leadership of the main instruments of coercion — the army, the interior ministry, and the intelligence service — are all in the hands of political leaders with strong Ukrainian nationalist credentials. [Politico Magazine]
Furthermore, the fallout at the international level is going to be hell for Putin, even if the West stops short of intervention. The last scraps of credibility Russia had as a member of the United Nations Security Council — where it has steadfastly blocked action against Bashar al-Assad on the grounds of sovereignty — are shot. The great "reset" with the United States is in tatters. The Sochi Winter Olympics — which was supposed to be the face of a kinder, gentler Russia — will go down as the most expensive fig leaf in history. Romer and Weiss also suggest that Russia will be kicked out of the Group of Eight; surely some kind of economic pain will be involved.
Putin's Russia is more isolated than ever. Is Crimea worth all that? Ryu Spaeth
Friday evening was supposed to mark the beginning of a new season for the Philadelphia Orchestra, an occasion celebrated with a black tie gala featuring an orchestral performance of works by Bernstein, Gershwin, Ravel, and Respighi for a crowd of about 1,000. But after 20 minutes ticked past curtain time, attendees discovered the orchestra's 96 musicians had walked out on strike.
At issue are the musicianss salaries, which have been subject to fewer raises than usual since the orchestra went into bankruptcy in 2012 and maintains an operating deficit to this day thanks to sluggish fundraising numbers. On Friday, the musicians were offered a minimum annual salary of $128,544 with a 2 percent raise in the first year of a two-year contract, but they insist on a 3 percent raise and object to having a lower base pay than the Boston Symphony Orchestra, which starts players at $152,672.
The Philadelphia musicians called an earlier deal they were offered — which, even with fewer raises, would give each player a salary roughly four times the median individual income in America — "regressive" and marched with signs calling on orchestra management to "retain the artistry." The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra are also on strike for similar reasons. Bonnie Kristian
Dashcam footage released by police in Sacramento, California, shows two officers attempting to run over a mentally ill homeless man before fatally shooting him. The encounter with law enforcement that left Joseph Mann dead happened July 11, and the police video was first reported by local news outlets this Thursday.
In a captioned version of the video with enhanced audio published by The Sacramento Bee Friday, one of the two involved officers, Randy Lozoya and John Tennis, can be heard saying, "f--k this guy" as they approach the scene in their cruiser. The driving officer then says, "I'm going to hit him," and the other cop replies, "Okay. Go for it. Go for it." The car swerves at Mann, who was African-American, and misses. Moments later, Mann was fatally shot 14 times. He was discovered to be armed with only a 4-inch knife.
Both officers are now on "modified duty," and Mann's family is suing the city in civil court. A Sacramento Police Department spokesman, Sgt. Bryce Heinlein, said use of police cars as a lethal weapon is part of officers' training. Bonnie Kristian
After Friday's funeral for former Israeli President Shimon Peres, President Obama was caught on camera begging former President Bill Clinton to get on Air Force One so the two could head home. With all the impatience of a kid whose mom just won't stop talking to the other moms and come on already, Obama cajoled and pleaded with "Billy" to hurry up his long goodbyes.
Finally — finally! — Clinton came up the stairs and Obama subtly ensured the former president walked in front of him onto the plane so the famously charismatic Clinton couldn't start gabbing again. Watch the clip of Obama's anxious wait below. Bonnie Kristian
I've watched this video several times and am not yet done being amused by it pic.twitter.com/113jRAWUm0
— Jennifer Epstein (@jeneps) October 1, 2016
China's yuan on Saturday was added to the International Monetary Fund's basket of reserve currencies, a win for the country's growing economy. As explained by the IMF, the Special Drawing Rights basket is "an international reserve asset, created by the IMF in 1969 to supplement its member countries’ official reserves," and is currently valued at about $285 billion.
Other elite currencies currently in the SDR basket are the U.S. dollar, the British pound, the Japanese yen, and the Euro, which replaced the German deutsche mark and the French franc in 1999. With the new addition, IMF will weight the dollar at 41.73 percent, the euro at 30.93 percent, the yuan at 10.92 percent, the yen at 8.33 percent, and the pound at 8.09 percent.
This inclusion is "a milestone in the internationalization of the [yuan]," said the People's Bank of China, the Asian nation's central bank, "and is an affirmation of the success of China's economic development and results of the reform and opening up of the financial sector." Bonnie Kristian
Hacked audio of Democrat Hillary Clinton speaking with donors about her then-primary rival, Sen. Bernie Sanders, in February shows the nominee describing Sanders' supporters as uninformed and idealistic "children of the Great Recession" who are "living in their parents' basement."
In this election, Clinton says, there "is a strain of, on the one hand, the kind of populist, nationalist, xenophobic, discriminatory kind of approach that we hear too much of from the Republican candidates," while, "on the other side, there's just a deep desire to believe that we can have free college, free healthcare, that what we've done hasn't gone far enough, and that we just need to, you know, go as far as, you know, Scandinavia, whatever that means, and half the people don't know what that means, but it's something that they deeply feel."
The clip, leaked earlier this week and publicized by Politico Friday night, also hears Clinton sympathizing with basement dwellers who see little economic opportunity in their future and thus find a Sanders-style "revolution" enticing. Bonnie Kristian
The largest hospital in the rebel-held part of Aleppo, Syria, was heavily damaged Saturday by airstrikes using barrel bombs and perhaps also cluster bombs. The strikes were conducted by forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad as well as Russian troops; and a second, smaller hospital was also damaged.
This news comes after France and Britain lobbed accusations of war crimes at Russia over its Syria policy during a United Nations meeting earlier this week. Also this week, a Syrian monitoring group reported Russian strikes in Syria have killed more than 9,000 people, while Russia announced plans to send more warplanes to the war-torn Mideast nation.
The damaged Aleppo hospital is no longer operational, and the second-largest hospital in that part of Aleppo has shut down as well. Only six functional hospitals remain in the region, where about 2 million people are without running water. Bonnie Kristian
The spot cuts clips of Ivanka with stock footage of happy moms and their children as the eldest Trump daughter explains her father's plans regarding "the most important job any woman can have," motherhood. "My father will change outdated labor laws so that they support women and American families," Trump says. "He will provide tax credits for childcare, paid maternity leave, and dependent care savings accounts."
The clip is part of a $7.5 million ad buy for the Trump campaign and will air on channels including TLC, Lifetime, and Bravo. Watch the video below via a Trump campaign tweet. Bonnie Kristian
— Official Team Trump (@TeamTrump) September 30, 2016