Gouré: We Continually Underestimate Russian President Putin (7)

The trouble with dictators – and that is what Putin is in everything but name – and their “stupid” moves is that they get away with them repeatedly until their opponents finally say enough.

A few months ago I attended a two day conference on the subject of the future of U.S.-Russian relations, attended by an impressive array of officials from Administrations past and present and experts on things Russian. One of the subjects discussed was the possibilities for additional, even more dangerous crises between our two countries. There were lots of potential flash points identified, beyond the current crisis in Ukraine, ranging from the Baltics to Kaliningrad, Moldova, Kazakhstan and the Arctic. But for each of these there were also “cooler” heads who argued that it would be stupid for Putin to initiate a new crisis in any of these places. After all, given the declining state of the Russian economy, technology base, demographics and even military capacity, he was playing with a very weak hand. Finally, one former senior Pentagon official interrupted to say “you can’t take stupid off the table.”

I will point out that nobody at the conference suggested that Russia might open a second front in Syria, while telling the U.S. to get out of that country’s air space. If anyone had, I am absolutely certain that they would have been met by howls of derision from the assembled wise people. Why? Because for Putin to have done so would have been stupid. I am pretty sure the response would have been the same if anyone had suggested this time last year that Moscow’s reaction to the ouster of their puppet as President of the Ukraine would be the invasion and then annexation of Crimea. Even after that, they would have responded to the suggestion that the Kremlin would double down by fomenting an insurgency in eastern Ukraine by declaring it impossible because it would be stupid.

[Interesting Read]

See Also:

#1 — Trump: We’re Destroying Our Country Spending Trillions in the Mideast

#2 — Putin has sent the feared Spetsnaz special forces into Syria to bail out Assad

#3 — How Putin Wins in Syria

#4 — Putin’s moral clarity on radical Islam at the UN – Did I just say that?

#5 — Putin’s fearsome Spetsnaz units are preparing ground assault to ‘wipe out’ rebels fighting the Syrian President


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Afternoon Update October 6th, 2015 (10)


#1 — CBC | Hungarians regularly prevented from boarding Canada-bound flights

Canada-bound Hungarians with valid travel documents have been interrogated at Budapest’s international airport and denied permission to travel by unidentified officials dozens of times in recent months, CBC Montreal Investigates has learned.


#2 — CNews | Ottawa parents shocked at unlocked schools

Security systems are being turned off and front doors unlocked at five dozen elementary schools in Ottawa as a result of the latest job action by support staff at Ontario schools.


#3 — CTV | Despite public stink, Montreal to dump wastewater into St. Lawrence

Despite mounting opposition, the City of Montreal is going ahead with its plan to dump eight billion litres of untreated wastewater into the St. Lawrence River.


#4 — Global | TSX, U.S. stocks rise sharply as new TPP trade deal announced

TORONTO – North American markets began the week with big advances amid continued optimism among traders that sluggish U.S. employment figures make it unlikely that the U.S. Federal Reserve will raise interests rates any time soon.


#5 — Postmedia | Election polls have become less reliable in an age of cellphones and telemarketing

Canadians knew the three-way race couldn’t last forever. And indeed, with two weeks until Election Day, a party has begun to pull into the lead.



#6 — BBC | Missing ship: El Faro confirmed to have sunk off Bahamas

The lost cargo ship El Faro sank in Bahamian waters after sailing into the path of Hurricane Joaquin, according to the US Coast Guard.


#7 — CNS | Sunnis Rage Over Russian Backing for Shi’ite Foes

(CNSNews.com) – Russia’s military intervention in Syria appears to be fueling sectarian animosity in the region, as Sunni clerics and organizations react with anger to the perception that Moscow is siding with a reviled Shi’ite front rather than targeting terrorists as it claims.


#8 — Fox | Boehner sets House leadership vote for Oct. 29, Chaffetz gets feisty

Retiring House Speaker John Boehner said Monday that the vote for the next speaker would be held Oct. 29 and balloting for all other positions would be delayed until after that in light of the fact Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., is among the top candidates to succeed him.


#9 — DM | The ‘Epic of Gilgamesh’ revised

A missing chapter has been found for one of the first great works of literature.

Researchers have discovered a new clay tablet that adds 20 previously unknown lines to the ‘Epic of Gilgamesh’.


#10 — WT | Bill Clinton White House suppressed evidence of Iran’s terrorism

Bill Clinton’s administration gathered enough evidence to send a top-secret communique accusing Iran of facilitating the deadly 1996 Khobar Towers terrorist bombing, but suppressed that information from the American public and some elements of U.S. intelligence for fear it would lead to an outcry for reprisal, according to documents and interviews.


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More signs the stuttering eurozone is grinding to a halt (10)

Latest data for September show little sign of life for faltering single currency economy

Europe’s economic recovery is showing dangerous signs of falling flat after another disappointing set of data from the single currency bloc of countries.

September’s combined Purchasing Manager’s Index (PMI) of the services and manufacturing sector fell to 53.6, from 54.3 in August. This suggests momentum has petered out after a spike in activity over the summer.

The weak numbers all but guarantee the European Central Bank will be pushed into further stimulus measures, ramping up its €1 trillion quantitative easing programme.

Economists suggest an announcement on more QE could be due at the end of the year.


See Also:

#1 — Investigation of Volkswagen emissions cheating zeroes in on two top engineers

#2 — Greek coast guard rescues hundreds at sea over weekend

#3 — EU’s border protection agency asks for 775 more guards to handle migrants

#4 — Judges rule UK immigration laws can be BYPASSED by Britons ADOPTING foreign kids

#5 — Air France bosses’ shirts ripped off amid attacks by angry workers over job losses

Afternoon Update:

#6 — Europe’s top court declares EU-US data deal invalid

#7 — Tricky talks with Erdogan in Brussels

#8 — Turkey warns 3 mln more refugees may be headed to EU from Syria

#9 — Seeking creative ways out of the crisis

#10 — EU warns Spain on budget as election nears

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F-35 Fatal Ejection Fear Riles Congress

WASHINGTON — Concern is mounting on Capitol Hill after recent tests revealed a lightweight F-35 pilot’s neck could snap when ejecting at certain speeds.

The fears focus on the Martin-Baker US16E ejection seat. During testing of the new Generation 3 helmet this summer, testers discovered the risk of fatal neck injury when a lighter pilot ejects during slower-speed flights, according to a source with knowledge of the program. Testers discovered the ejection snapped the necks of lighter-weight test dummies, the source said.

Until the problem is fixed, the US military services decided to restrict pilots weighing under 136 pounds from operating the plane, Defense News first reported Oct. 1.

Since the issue emerged, lawmakers have vowed to push for increased oversight of the F-35, with one congresswoman condemning the program for “malpractice.” Rep. Jackie Speier, ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee’s subcommittee on oversight and investigations, slammed the Pentagon for rushing tests to field the plane prematurely.


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Bernanke: Wall Street Execs Should Have Gone to Jail for Crisis

Former Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke says some Wall Street executives should have gone to jail for their roles in the financial crisis that gripped the country in 2008 and triggered the Great Recession.

Billions of dollars in fines have been levied against major banks and brokerage firms in the wake of the economic meltdown that was in large part triggered by reckless lending and shady securities dealings that blew up a housing bubble.

But in an interview with USA Today published Sunday, Bernanke said he thinks that in addition to the corporations, individuals should have been held more accountable.\

“It would have been my preference to have more investigations of individual actions because obviously everything that went wrong or was illegal was done by some individual, not by an abstract firm,” Bernanke said.

Asked if someone should have gone to jail, the former Fed chairman replied, “Yeah, I think so.” He did not, however, name any individual he thought should have been prosecuted.


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Petkov: Ontario’s forced pension plan even worse than you thought

TORONTO – The Ontario government continues to push us all to a place we don’t want to go.

The now-infamous Ontario Retirement Pension Plan (ORPP) is moving forward despite growing opposition, and against the wishes of Ontarians, who have repeatedly said they cannot afford to save more than they already do for their retirement.

Recent polls by Forum Research and Mainstreet Technologies indicate that more employees, (i.e. future ORPP plan members), oppose this pension scheme now than a year ago, when the idea was first floated.

Add to that the results of a CFIB survey which shows 90% of small business owners also reject the ORPP. Clearly the more Ontarians learn about the ORPP, the less they want it. So this seems like a good time to tally up what we currently have in our ORPP knowledge bank.


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Brodbeck: NDP has province sailing into choppy waters

The Manitoba government saw its credit rating downgraded for the first time in 30 years over the summer.

With record debt levels, perpetual deficits and government’s astonishing inability to get a grip on its runaway spending, Moody’s Investors Service – one of Canada’s top bond rating agencies – had little choice but to downgrade the province’s credit rating in July.

It was the first time since former NDP premier Howard Pawley was in office in 1985 that the provincial government saw a credit rating downgrade. Ironically, around the same time, the NDP raised the PST by one percentage point and ran up the provincial debt to unsustainable levels. When that happens, governments usually get a credit rating downgrade and have to pay higher interest rates on the money they borrow.

Three decades later, history appears to be repeating itself. The Selinger government has allowed the provincial debt to balloon to record levels and can’t seem to free itself from the structural deficit it created – even with the recent increase to the PST. And, just like 30 years ago, it saw its credit rating downgraded.

So, how bad are the Manitoba government finances? They’re pretty bad.


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Canada reaches sweeping Trans-Pacific trade deal

Canada is joining a massive Pacific Rim free trade zone, but has sacrificed some long-held protections for the country’s dairy, poultry and auto industries to gain entry.

Negotiators for the 12 members of the Trans-Pacific Partnership struck a tentative deal in Atlanta early Monday morning that will eliminate most tariffs in a region spanning roughly 40 per cent of the global economy.

But that will come at a hefty price for some sectors, and for taxpayers.

Ottawa said Monday it will spend $4.3-billion over 15 years to compensate dairy, chicken and egg farmers, who are ceding what Canadian officials called “limited access” to their now highly protected markets under the TPP deal. The subsidies will “keep producers whole,” according to a government press release.

The deal, originally slated to be announced Friday, was delayed numerous times over the weekend as countries haggled over last-minute details on autos, patent protection for drugs and agricultural products.


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Hanson: Obama – Nihilist or Just Incompetent?

Who knows; the only mystery left is how much damage will the last gasp of 2016 bring?

Three things so far have saved Obama’s otherwise unfortunate tenure; all came over his own objections.

One, after the 2010 midterm tsunami, the newly elected House Republicans put a lid on spending — ratified by the wins of 2014. Sequestration is a crude blunderbuss and slashed defense, but it at least slowed down Obama’s disastrous serial $1 trillion-plus budget deficits. In spending terms, it certainly has vastly reduced the government’s share of GDP. We know that because Obama occasionally brags of falling deficits, as if to say, “Thank you for not letting me be entirely myself.” When he leaves office, we will have $20 trillion in debt and nearly 100 million permanently out of the work force, as well as uncontrolled and unaddressed entitlement spending on life support through zero-interest rates. But we will still be alive for now, thanks to sequestration. Shutting down the government may have been politically unwise (or not — given the 2014 midterm elections), but it kept the debt financeable.


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Fund: Muslim Face-Veil Controversy Boosts Canada’s Conservatives

Vancouver, British Columbia — Canada holds national elections on October 19, and the race there has taken a surprising turn. The ruling Conservative party is making political hay over a court decision that killed its ban on women wearing the niqab — or face veil — while taking the oath of citizenship. The opposition left-wing Liberal and New Democratic parties have been pounded relentlessly for not opposing use of the niqab. Conservatives have moved from third place into first place in the polls and are currently the only party with a shot at winning a majority of seats in Parliament. A full 83 percent of voters back the Conservatives’ position on the Muslim face veil.

In the last debate among party leaders on Friday night, New Democratic party leader Tom Mulcair was clearly frustrated at the arrival of a cultural “wedge” issue in the middle of the campaign. He admitted that the face veil makes him “uncomfortable” but said that Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s use of the issue was “a weapon of massive distraction.” In plain language, he’s upset that his party has lost ten points in one week in Quebec (the French-speaking province where a fifth of voters live), much of the loss due to the naqib issue. Liberal leader Justin Trudeau, son of a former prime minister, also tried to change the subject by attacking Harper on abortion.


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Morning Update October 6th, 2015 (10)


#1 — CBC | Suncor Energy makes $4.3B bid for Canadian Oil Sands

Suncor Energy is making a bid to acquire Canadian Oil Sands Ltd., the largest partner in Syncrude.


#2 — CNews | Immigration probe into whether Toronto 18 plotter’s privacy breached

OTTAWA — Federal officials are investigating an apparent privacy breach involving an imprisoned terrorist who was stripped of his citizenship.


#3 — CTV | Inquest to begin into deaths of 7 First Nations youth

THUNDER BAY, Ont. – An inquest is set to begin today into the deaths of seven First Nations youth in northern Ontario.

They ranged in age from 15 to 21 and all left their remote communities to pursue a high school education.


#4 — Global | Norovirus strikes cruise ship docked in Vancouver; 61 passengers ill

The Star Princess cruise ship is having a slightly longer stay in Vancouver than expected due to an outbreak of norovirus.


#5 — Postmedia | Toronto-area detached home prices surge above $1 million, out of reach of first-time buyers

It doesn’t matter where you go in the greater Toronto area, the price of a detached home is soaring faster than the rest of the market with the situation showing no signs of abating, according to new data.



#6 — BBC | Afghan conflict: MSF ‘disgust’ at government hospital claims

Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) has said it is “disgusted” by Afghan government statements justifying an air strike on its hospital in Kunduz, calling it an “admission of a war crime”.


#7 — CNS | Trump: ‘I Hate the Way Our Country Is Spending My Money and Everybody Else’s Money’

(CNSNews.com) – Republican tycoon Donald Trump says he fights “like hell” to pay as little in taxes as possible.

“I mean, I fight because that’s a very big expense,” Trump told ABC’s “This Week” with George Stephanopoulos. “And one of the problems and one of the reasons I fight so hard is because I hate the way our country is spending my money and everybody else’s money.”


#8 — Fox | Coast Guard believes El Faro has sunk

A missing cargo ship with 28 Americans on board has likely sunk, a U.S. Coast Guard spokesperson confirmed Monday morning.


#9 — DM | Three scientists who discovered drugs against malaria and other parasites are awarded Nobel prize for medicine

Three scientists have won the Nobel Prize in medicine for discovering drugs against malaria and other parasitic diseases that affect hundreds of millions of people every year.


#10 — WT | Hillary rips Benghazi probe, says it’s a ‘political partisan committee’ of the GOP

Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Monday denounced the Congress’ Benghazi committee, seizing on controversial remarks by House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy that she said proved the panel was political hit job aimed solely at her.


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