Friday, February 28, 2014

Russian Government Admits Its Military Has Entered Crimea

The Russian foreign ministry has finally admitted that Russian troops have entered the Crimean region.  The Russians claim the military offensive was simply a mission to “protect Black Sea Fleet’s positions.”   Vladimir Putin has put out a statement that said authorities in the restive Crimean region of Ukraine had appealed for humanitarian aid and that he had directed the Russian government to consider the request, “including possibilities for the Russian regions to provide assistance."  

Russian troops block the road way towards the military airport at the Black Sea port of Sevastopol in Crimea
 The Telegraph is reporting that 20 men wearing Black Sea Fleet uniforms have surrounded a Ukrainian border guard post. The Telegraph goes on to state that a Reuters reporter in the Balaklava district saw Ukrainian border police in helmets and riot gear shut inside the border post, with a metal gate pulled shut and metal riot shields placed behind the windows as protection. A servicemen who identified himself as an officer of the Black Sea Fleet said: "We are here ... so as not to have a repeat of the Maidan."

The State Border Guard in the Ukraine has said Russian Marines have surrounded a coast guard base.  
It is also being reported that Russian soldiers have now blocked Ukrainian air traffic control, it's unclear if this is meant to prevent the arrival of Ukrainian soldiers.  The BBC has reported  that at least five Russian Il-76 planes have landed at a military airport in Gvardiysky, near Simferopol, Ukrainska Pravda internet newspaper reports citing eyewitnesses. Reports also say a column of Russian armored personnel carriers is heading towards Simferopol.  This comes on the heals of a video purporting to show twelve Russian MI-24 and MI-83 combat helicopters flying over Sevastopol in Crimea.
Video HERE and HERE.  

It appears Russian lawmakers are paving the way for the breakup of Ukraine.  The lawmakers say they plan to submit a bill to parliament that would make it easier for new territories to join the Russian Federation.  Russia has also said it will give Russian passports to members of Ukraine's Berkut (disbanded riot police).  It is being reported that some worried politicians in the Ukraine parliament have pleaded with the UK and the US to come to their rescue.  I would tell these politicians not to hold their breath, because help will not be forthcoming from Barack Obama, Britain or even NATO for that matter.  Sovietesque Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin will do what he wants in the Ukraine and the West will be unable, or unwilling to do anything about it.

Keep up with LIVE coverage at the Telegraph and the BBC.     
Above photographs originally posted at The Telegraph.  

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Thursday, February 27, 2014

Putin Masses Troops Along Border, Armed Pro-Russian Militants Seize Government Headquarters

I predicted early on that Vladimir Putin may intervene militarily to prop up a Moscow friendly Ukraine government and it appears that may be unfolding. Putin has massed 150,000 soldiers on their shared border and is conducting the largest 'war-games' since the Soviet days.  The Russians  have also scrambled fighter jets to patrol the border and have placed other elements of the air-force on standby status.  

Pro-Russian militants have seized the regional government headquarters and parliament in Ukraine's Crimea on Thursday and raised the Russian flag.  The acting Ukraine President, Olexander Turchino, has pleaded with Putin to refrain from using the Russian naval base as a springboard for military action.  The Russian naval base in the Ukraine is a remnant of the Soviet Union glory days and has been leased (2010 Kharkiv Pact) to the Russians until 2047. 

Ousted Ukraine President, Viktor F. Yanukovych, recently declared that he remained the lawful president of Ukraine and he appealed to Russia to “secure my personal safety from the actions of extremists.” Russian news agencies have reported that Yanukovych had arrived in Russia just recently.  Ukraine's Foreign Ministry also summoned Russia's acting envoy in Kiev for immediate consultations in an effort to prevent military intervention. 

President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry have been warning the Nu-Soviets not to intervene as well, but the days of American deterrence are long gone. Our enemies no longer fear us and our allies no longer respect us. Our bumbling paper-tiger president instills fear into no one (except maybe RINO Republicans) and his threats, warnings and red-lines have become something of a joke.

Obama plans to cut our military to pre-WWII levels and the bad guys of the world are licking their collective chops.  I think we will see Russia, China and Iran take advantage of Obama's weak leadership over the next two years and the 'all options on the table' military threats by this White House will be ignored.     

According to CBC News.....Maxim, a pro-Russian activist who refused to give his last name, said he and other activists had camped overnight outside the local parliament in Simferopol when 50 to 60 heavily armed men wearing flak jackets and carrying rocket-propelled grenade launchers and sniper rifles took over the building.
"Our activists were sitting there all night calmly, building the barricades," he said. "At 5 o'clock unknown men turned up and went to the building. They got into the courtyard and put everyone on the ground.  "They were asking who we were. When we said we stand for the Russian language and Russia, they said: 'Don't be afraid. We're with you.' Then they began to storm the building bringing down the doors," he said. "They didn't look like volunteers or amateurs; they were professionals. This was clearly a well-organized operation."
"Who are they?" he added. "Nobody knows."

Full story HERE

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Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Citizen Harassed by Police for Video Taping Arrest. “You have no rights”...Baltimore County Police Officer

A citizen in Towson Maryland was harassed by a Baltimore County police officer Sunday morning as the citizen filmed an arrest of two people.  As the citizen filmed the police action, one officer goes ballistic after he realized he was being filmed.  When the agitated officer confronted the filmographer, the man exerted his right to film the scene.
“I’m allowed to do this,” he told the officer.  “Get it out of my face,” the officer replied.
“I have my rights,” the man states.  “You have no rights,” the officer retorted.  This mindset is very troubling to say the least.  Video can be viewed here.   

I usually give law enforcement the benefit of the doubt in many instances, however, that's getting harder to do because these types of stories are becoming more numerous. 
It's problematic that this officer tells the man filming the arrest that he lost his First Amendment right.  “I thought I had freedom of speech here,” the man filming said.  “You don’t. You just lost it,” the officer replied.

The First Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled (2011) that it is not illegal for citizens to videotape police officers when they are on public duty.  “The filming of government officials while on duty is protected by the First Amendment, said the Court.”

Furthermore, the court stated “The filming of government officials engaged in their duties in a public place, including police officers performing their responsibilities, fits comfortably within these principles [of protected First Amendment activity].”  

“Gathering information about government officials in a form that can readily be disseminated to others serves a cardinal First Amendment interest in protecting and promoting the free discussion of governmental affairs,” stated the ruling, adding that this has been the case all along, and that the right to film police officers is not just restricted to the press.

The U.S. Supreme Court has refused to review an earlier federal appeals court decision in regards to the filming of police officers.  Justices decided not to hear a case involving the state of Illinois' authoritarian "eavesdropping" law that has been regularly abused by authorities to prevent citizens from taping cops in action.

The Chicago Tribune reported that in deciding to pass on the issue, justices left standing a ruling by a lower federal appeals court which found that the law violates free-speech rights when it is applied to persons who tape police. 

Some of these confrontations with citizens can be blamed on bad training, but bad training didn't create the dangerous mindset of this particular Baltimore County police officer.  When the officer stated that the man "had no rights," he revealed his disdain for the Bill of Rights. 

Of course every occupation has its bad apples, but when a police department has bad apples, the rights of citizens can be trampled.  When law enforcement disregards our rights as something of a nuisance, a police state can emerge. 

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Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Ukraine Clashes Leaves 26 Dead And 425 Injured, Will Russia Intervene Militarily?

With Ukraine on the verge of all out civil war, one has to wonder if Putin will intervene militarily after the Sochi Olympics are concluded.  You wouldn't think Putin would take such a drastic action, but Vladimir is unpredictable and he doesn't want to lose the Ukraine to the EU. 

Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych has just granted the military a green light to shoot and kill protesters.  26 people were killed and nearly 425 injured last night alone in fighting...but this new order to shoot to kill will only inflame the situation.

President Viktor Yanukovych fired his military chief (Volodymyr Zaman) and replaced him with navy chief Yuriy Ilyin before announcing the decree.  The Ukraine military announced it would take part in a national anti-terrorist operation to restore order.  I suspect Yanukovych fired his military chief because Zamam refused to order his troops to shoot and kill fellow Ukrainians. 

Many Ukrainians are speculating the military (soldiers on the ground) may side with the opposition, rather than the government.  If that indeed occurs, I think that's when you will see Russian military involvement.  Putin gave Ukraine a fresh cash injection of $2 billion last Monday in a carrot and stick scheme, however, if Putin thinks a new Orange Revolution is in the works, his financial aid may well turn into military intervention.

The United States and the EU are threatening sanctions if Yanukovych resorts to a government sponsored killing spree, but that will be ineffective in my opinion.  Western countries would be better served to threaten Putin with sanctions if he intervenes militarily.

With the 2016 presidential election in mind, the Obama White House is allowing Vice President Biden to look 'presidential' during this potential armed conflict.  Vice President Biden called the Ukrainian President on Monday to express "deep concern about the situation in Ukraine and the growing potential for violence."   

The White House statement reads:

"The Vice President underscored the need to immediately de-escalate the situation and begin a dialogue with opposition leaders on developing a consensus way forward for Ukraine.  "He (Biden) noted that violence has no place in a democratic society and is incompatible with our strategic relationship.  "The Vice President reaffirmed the strong support of the United States for Ukraine's European aspirations and welcomed President Yanukovych's commitment to maintaining this path."

We will no doubt see Biden taking a more prominent role in the media spotlight over the next 2 years in an effort to burnish his credibility with the voters.  As long as they don't let Biden push any buttons or give him the nuke codes, all should be well.  It really doesn't matter if it's Biden, John Kerry or Barack Obama urging restraint or threatening sanctions, they are both viewed as weak by all parties involved. 

Short lived truce is shattered by renewed fighting.  Chaos broke out in Independence Square, leaving at least 22 dead.  READ MORE HERE

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Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Vatican Secretly Purges Child Raping Priests...Does That Go Far Enough?

The Catholic Church takes its share of unfounded criticism from the media, but some of that criticism is well deserved.  The Holy See has for decades covered up child rape within the church and only recently has a Pope seen fit do something about it.  Before his retirement, Pope Benedict XVI defrocked 260 priests in 2011 and 124 priests in 2012 for crimes against children. Benedict, who retired in 2013, had apparently insisted on secrecy on the matter.  That secret remained a secret...that is until the AP obtained and released the document exposing the purge last month.
Defrocking perverted priests is a good start, but it's not enough.  The suspected priests should not only be defrocked, they should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.  I realize the statute of limitations prevents prosecution in many cases, but they need to prosecute as many as possible.  The Catholic Church needs to hold those that covered up the crimes responsible as well.  Local legal jurisdictions need to prosecute those that helped hide the rapists.  To date, no single person has been punished (administratively or criminally) for conspiring to conceal the crimes within the church and that needs to change.

Pope Benedict had good reason to want the defrockings to remain secret.  Benedict had to know he was opening up the Church to even more lawsuits if this document were to become public.  He also knew the Vatican would suffer a public relations nightmare if the actual numbers of rapist priests were known.  Benedict's decision to keep this secret may have been smart from a public relations/financial standpoint, but it's morally wrong on every level.  The Vatican not only needs to correct their past misdeeds, they need to figure out why priests are raping/molesting young boys.  I realize young women have been victims as well, however, the vast majority of victims have been young males.

It's no secret the priesthood attracts homosexual men in great numbers and the reasons for that can be debated for perpetuity.  Pope Francis recently admitted what everyone already knew.  Francis said gay priests make up a significant segment of the Catholic clergy and deserved papal recognition.  Pope Benedict XVI signed a document in 2005 that said men with strong gay tendencies should not be priests, but I really doubt that had much effect on gay men entering the priesthood.

Am I saying that all gay priests are predatory rapists?  Of course not, but apparently many are and that's cause for concern.  As I mentioned earlier, the view that many Catholic priests are gay is not a new one.  The Reverand Donald Cozzens (in his book "The Changing Face of the Priesthood," suggested that the priesthood was progressively becoming a gay profession. Cozzens estimated that as much as 58% of current priests are gay, and the percentages for younger priests are even higher.

Should the Catholic Church allow priests to get married?  If they did allow marriage in the priesthood, would that cure the problem?  If they allowed heterosexual priests to marry, would they conversely allow gay priests to marry as well?  That's one heck of a sticky conundrum.  One Ugandan Friar recently asked that question and lost his job in the process.  Fr. Anthony Musaala authored a letter arguing that priests and nuns should be allowed to get married.  Musalla's argument is that many priests are involved in acts that are contrary to what is expected of them including defilement, homosexuality, and giving birth to children.

The Pew Research Center conducted a poll last year that revealed nearly six in ten American Catholics believe it would be a good thing for the Catholic Church if the next pope (Pope Francis) allows priests to get married.  Pope Benedict XVI convened a meeting 2005 to discuss whether the vows of celibacy and the ban on marriage for priests who want to marry, or have married in the past, should be overturned.  I don't know how that meeting turned out, but as far as I know priests still can't get married.  I do know St. Peter was married and Catholic priests were allowed to be married until the 12th century.  

This post isn't meant to advocate marriage in the priesthood and as a Methodist myself, I have no right to tell Catholics what doctrine to practice.  I'm not even sure if the marriage of priests would prevent the rape of children in the church.  Raping a child is pure evil and I doubt that evil exists because priests aren't allowed to marry.  What I will tell the Catholic Church though is they should do what is morally right and not what's politically expedient.  They should turn over all the information they have on the pervert priests to the legal authorities and they should punish those that covered up their crimes.  

Until the Vatican comes clean in an open and transparent way, they will deserve to be looked upon with skepticism.  Pope Francis has the perfect opportunity to build on what his predecessor began and expand on it.  My guess it will be status quo at the Holy See and that's unfortunate.          

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