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1.) Pouting over Putin — Vladimir Putin took to the New York Times to spread his government’s propaganda Wednesday evening. A certain Republican leader didn’t like it all that much. TheDC’s Alex Pappas reports:
“House Speaker John Boehner said Thursday he was ‘insulted’ by the New York Times opinion piece by Russian President Vladimir Putin, who argues America is not only wrong about Syria is also but not an ‘exceptional’ country. Asked for his ‘blunt’ reaction to Putin’s op-ed on Thursday, Boehner responded: ‘I was insulted.’ Pressed to elaborate, the Ohio Republican deflected: ‘I think that the president does foreign policy… I’ve probably already said more than I should have said. But you got the truth.'”
Insulted? That seems a bit strong. A lot of dumb things are written every day, particularly on the New York Times’ op-ed page. No reason to get all worked up over it. It won’t be remembered a week from now.
2.) Syria? Something’s going on with Syria? — President Obama apparently wants to get away from his focus on Syria as quickly as possible. TheDC’s Neil Munro reports:
“President Barack Obama is pedaling away from his self-imposed Syrian debacle, telling reporters on Thursday that he’s leaving the issue to Secretary of State John Kerry, and is shifting his focus to domestic issues. ‘I am hopeful that the discussions that Secretary Kerry has with Foreign Minister Lavrov as well as some of the other players in this can yield a concrete result,’ said Obama, who appeared set to bomb Syria last week on a matter that he declared to be of vital national interest. He then touted his domestic priorities. ‘It is still important to recognize that we have a lot of things left to do… The American people are still interested in making sure that our kids are getting the kind of education they deserve, that we are putting people back to work,’ he said.”
If there is one thing Barack Obama is known the world over for, it is putting people back to work. Right? Right?
3.) Russia downsized — Foreign policy expert Ilan Berman is out with a new book that says Russia is collapsing and this could have some not-so-nice consequences for the U.S. Berman talked to TheDC’s Jamie Weinstein about his new book. Among other things, he explained why the Russian population is rapidly declining:
“The causes of Russia’s demographic decline are manifold. They include rampant alcoholism and drug abuse, a corrosive culture of abortion, an AIDS epidemic of frightening proportions and massive out-migration by those with the means and initiative to do so. The results are nothing short of catastrophic. According to the Kremlin’s own projections, if current trendlines hold, Russia’s current population of 142.9 million could constrict by as much as a quarter by 2050. This phenomenon, which demographers have taken to calling ‘the emptying of Russia,’ raises real questions about the country’s long-term viability as a nation-state.”
Read the full interview for much more.
4.) Don’t go West — We don’t mean to the West Coast. We mean to Cornel West. TheDC’s Eric Owens reports:
“Princeton University professor Cornel West has suggested that the government of the United States could have been behind the September 11, 2001 terror attacks. West, 60, made the remarks on Wednesday at a Washington, D.C. rally called the Million Muslim March. He acknowledged the evidence that deceased Al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden had a hand in the coordinated attack which destroyed the World Trade Center and killed some 3,000 people. At the same time, the academic wondered if other nefarious forces could also have been involved. ‘I just don’t know,’ West told a reporter. ‘I mean, my hunch is that bin Laden certainly had something to do with it, though I try to listen and raise questions and allow them to engage in their investigation.’”
Never, ever give comfort to conspiracy theorists. That’s a lesson to live by.
6.) Today in North Korean News — “Kim Jong Un Congratulates Syrian President on His Birthday”