Mayor Bill DeBlasio will not do anything about Riker’s Island Jail Violence until his son, Dante, is imprisoned for being black as mayor’s son.
It’s a joke but I’m serious about it because the minute DeBlasio is no longer Mayor – that is what is going to happen.
NEW YORK, NY – DECEMBER 17: New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (C), joined by Department Correction Commissioner Joe Ponte (L) and Warden Becky Scott (R), talk during his tour of Second Chance Housing at Rikers Island on December 17, 2014 in New York City. Second Chance Housing is alternative housing for incarcerated adolescents instead of punitive segregation. (Photo by Susan Watts – Pool/Getty Images) | Pool via Getty Images
NEW YORK (AP) — Federal prosecutors have sued New York City to speed reforms at the troubled Rikers Island jail complex.
The lawsuit was filed Thursday to address what a Justice Department investigation found was a culture of violence against young inmates.
It comes one day after Mayor Bill de Blasio visited Rikers to announce the end of solitary confinement for 16- and 17-year-old inmates. The end of solitary was just one of 73 recommendations made by federal prosecutors to curb the violence.
In court papers, Attorney General Eric Holder and Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara (buh-RAH’-ruh) wrote that despite four months of negotiations with the city, federal prosecutors “have been unable to reach agreement as to lasting, verifiable and enforceable reforms.”
Emails seeking comment from the mayor’s office and city lawyers weren’t immediately returned.
Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
YOU MADE FUN OF FOX NEWS REPORT ON JAY Z BEING A CRACK DEALER
BUT THAT’S EXACTLY WHO HE WAS IN HIS PAST
OH, & JON – SNOOP DOG WAS A PIMP WHILE HE WAS IN THE PROCESS OF BECOMING A FAMOUS DIP OH SORRY – RAPPER
To compare Rush Limbaugh (and I NEVER DEFEND THAT MORON) to Jay Z’s actual profession is actually wrong on your part. Rush became a pill popping drug addict through over medicating his prescription drugs.
I think you owe Fox News and Sean Hannity an apology but you’ll never do it. Jews are never wrong.
If Jon Stewart is going to tell the truth where Fox fails to do so – perhaps the whole truth is needed, eh Jon?
Jon Stewart Hits Back After Sean Hannity Refers To Jay Z As A ‘Crack Dealer’
To millions, Jay Z is an American success story — a wildly popular artist and a self-made businessman from humble roots. But to Sean Hannity, Jay Z is just a “former crack dealer.”
“Fuck, man,” Jon Stewart said on “The Daily Show” Wednesday night, after playing a clip of Hannity’s comments. “I don’t even know what to do here.”
But if Jay Z is just a “former crack dealer” to Fox News, then turnabout is fair play. “The Daily Show” correspondent Jessica Williams joined Stewart to give new titles to some of the network’s favorite talking heads, including Ted Nugent, G. Gordon Liddy and Mark Fuhrman, based on “the worst thing they’ve ever done.”
Rush Limbaugh, for example, is no longer a “radio talk show host”; he’s a “prescription drug addict.”
There’s no way to talk about “The Interview” without discussing in detail the dénouement and the ending. Those are the crucial parts of the film, the best parts of the film, and the ones that have reportedly aroused the most controversy within Sony, the film’s producer and distributor. It’s unclear how many people will even get to see “The Interview.” As I write this, Sony has cancelled the release of the film and North Korea has been linked to the Sony hacking by the U.S. government.
The subject of the movie, as everyone knows by now, is an entertainment reporter and host of a celebrity-centric talk show, Dave Skylark (James Franco), who learns that he’s a favorite of the North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un. Skylark and his producer, Aaron Rapaport (Seth Rogen), a tabloid-TV adept who aspires to serious journalism, get in touch with a North Korean office in the hope of interviewing Kim. When their plans are approved, the two are contacted by the C.I.A., whose agents persuade them to accept the mission of killing Kim.
This bare-bones synopsis doesn’t do justice to a story that is as much about the policies of the United States as those of North Korea. The film’s comic setup is built around the unfunny idea of North Korea’s ramped-up nuclear arsenal and the notion that its missiles can reach the West Coast. As Kim’s threats grow increasingly hectic, the C.I.A. asserts that a moderate dissident faction within the regime is ready to take over, but doesn’t dare act against Kim personally. What follows is a lot of clattery, only intermittently funny comic riffing by Rogen and Franco as they play bumbling but well-meaning bourgeois nerds who are forced into physical action. Yet Rogen and Evan Goldberg—the movie’s directors and the co-writers of the story, along with Dan Sterling (who wrote the screenplay)—take seriously, in their own soft-handed way, the movie’s underlying question: When is it legitimate to kill the sitting leader of another country?
“The Interview” is a post-9/11 and, especially, a post-Iraq War meditation on a pre-9/11 theme: What should be done about a belligerent government (as opposed to an Al Qaeda-like non-state group) that poses a threat to the United States? More precisely: At what point is an act of war—because, of course, that’s what the planned assassination is—justified? As it turns out, the Rogen-Goldberg standard is a very high one (when the U.S. is in grave, imminent danger), and a counterfactual one (in the service of comedy, the film overhypes the North Korean threat). The filmmakers have talked about the research that went into their construction of the comic portrait of Kim and the movie’s depiction of North Korean society, but most of the film’s action—and, in particular, the film’s climactic events—are utter fantasy.
Spoilers, as promised: Dave Skylark and Kim hit it off—they have a sort of bromantic connection—and Kim presents himself as a kind of Red Star frat boy, an unhappy heir with unresolved daddy issues. Skylark comes to recognize that their emotional bond is a ruse—that he has been seduced by the dictator, whose sympathetic personal self-presentation is a smoke screen to obscure his policies—but he doesn’t take the chance to kill Kim.
Instead, Skylark and Rapaport take action against Kim only in extremis, when he’s in the midst of an actual, literal, finger-on-the-trigger countdown for a nuclear attack against the United States. Here’s what happens: Kim is in a helicopter, in contact with his nuclear-command center. The directors show a military officer with his finger poised above the launch button, and intercut to Kim counting down with his orders. Skylark and Rapaport are in a functioning, weaponized tank (a gift from Stalin to Kim’s grandfather, Kim Il-sung) and, to prevent the nuclear attack, they launch a shell from the tank that incinerates Kim’s helicopter—and Kim.
That climactic scene is the one that was at the center of controversy between the film’s directors and its producers at Sony. The shell that’s launched from the tank flies toward Kim’s helicopter in super-slow motion. When the shell strikes, the helicopter bursts into flames (again, in slow motion). Then there’s a cut to Kim, whose countdown is about to reach zero. What results is a moment of grotesque comedy that shocked me with its gory audacity: the wave of heat and shock makes Kim’s face waver—then his hair, eyebrows, and even skin begin to catch fire.
Apparently, Rogen and Goldberg had gone further: the New York Timesreports that Kazuo Hirai, Sony’s C.E.O., “insisted over the summer that a scene in which Mr. Kim’s head explodes when hit by a tank shell be toned down to remove images of flaming hair and chunks of skull.” In the cut that I saw, at a press screening last week, there was a little bit of flaming hair and even flaming flesh—but no chunks of skull or other mutilations.
Rogen and Goldberg offer a comedic dramatization of a political principle that would pass muster over craft beers in a liberal barroom: the killing of a foreign leader, or an act of war, would be justified if and only if an attack were verifiably imminent. In effect, the filmmakers are responding to the past decade of American foreign policy. They are retroactively opposing the Iraq War without declaring themselves absolutely opposed to war. They’re asserting a liberal muscularity of readiness to take action in the face of a verifiable immediate threat. They don’t involve the U.N., they don’t invoke diplomacy, they don’t assert a principle of pacifism but affirm a policy of prudent and patient but ready and robust defense.
On the other hand, the filmmakers have other arrows in their quiver—the ones provided to them by Hollywood itself, the power of the mass media—and this power is the main subject of the film. Once inside North Korea, Skylark and Rapaport decide to combat Kim not with the literal poison that the C.I.A. has provided but with their own skills—the power of the poison press.
The condition placed on their interview, of course, is that the questions be scripted. Kim will answer the softball questions in such a way as to present himself internationally as a reasonable and regular guy, and to present himself simultaneously at home as an internationally respected figure. But the American duo discover that they have a friend inside Kim’s regime—their official handler, Sook (played by Diana Bang), who is actually a secret opponent of Kim and who, at the critical moment, takes Skylark and Rapaport’s side (indeed, with an act of violence).
So, under the protection of Sook, who is in charge of North Korea’s TV studio, the interview that Skylark administers to Kim actually becomes a hard-hitting interview (of sorts). Although Kim manages to parry questions of policy, his character is held up to ridicule, which is no news around the world but a shock to his subjects. The result is in an instantaneous nationwide revolt. The subject of “The Interview” is the political impact on North Korea of a worldwide media event such as “The Interview” itself.
The threat posed by “The Interview” to the real Kim Jong-un isn’t just that it holds him up to ridicule, but that it could subject him to ridicule at home—not least, by dramatizing that prospect. Before the movie’s release was cancelled,news broke that human-rights activists were planning to airlift DVDs of the film into North Korea, via hydrogen balloons, when the disks came on the market. Park Sang Hak, who runs Free North Korea, the organization behind the plan, is, according to the HollywoodReporter, “a former government propagandist who escaped to South Korea.” He is perhaps uniquely placed to recognize the power of such ridicule.
Which leads to another question: Why isn’t the movie actually very funny?
Rogen is, to my mind, an authentically, irrepressibly funny person—who at times tries to do too good a job of repressing it. His comedic inclinations seem even to trouble him. He sometimes performs with an angel perched on one shoulder—a triumphant angel who knocked the devil off the other. The ethical strain in Rogen’s comedy is central to his persona. Judd Apatow has made decisive use of this side of Rogen’s character in “Knocked Up” and “Funny People.”
In “The Interview,” Rogen deals with power even at its most extreme—international politics, nuclear weapons, the global media—yet there’s something inescapably small, even embarrassed, about the movie’s approach to it. The movie isn’t reduced just by its sketch-like comedy but by its ingratiating tone. It reflects an absence of temptation, an aversion to anarchy, overflow, id. It’s a comedy of responsibility. The irony is how its one moment of recklessly ecstatic excess—the sadistic destruction of Kim’s face—seems to have led to its downfall.
THE PROBLEM I HAVE WITH SONY PULLING THE FLICK IS THAT IT IS GIVING INTO TERRORIST THAT ARE HACKER’S DEMANDS.
IN SHORT THIS IS WHAT I HAVE TO SAY TO DIPSTICK UN
YOU ARE A LOSER – HE’S THE ZUCKERBERG OF HIS GENERATION IN NORTH KOREA
YOU ARE A LOSER WHEN YOU HAVE TO HIRE A HACKER TO INFILTRATE AN AMERICAN COMPANY WITH WHOM YOU HAVE A DISAGREEMENT
WE DON’T ALL WANT TO SEE YOU DIE ASSWIPE
WE JUST WANT YOU, JR, TO STAY IN NORTH KOREA AND KILL OFF ALL YOUR RELATIVES
AND PLEASE DO NOT PROCREATE – THERE ARE ENOUGH DEVILS OUT IN THE WORLD WITH YOUR TYPE OF BACKGROUND. WE DON’T NEED MORE OF YOU.
America’s five biggest theater chains have all dropped The Interview from their lineups after a group of anonymous hackers threatened violence against any theater caught screening the film. According to TheHollywood Reporter,Regal Entertainment, AMC Entertainment, Cinemark, Carmike Cinemas, and Cineplex Entertainment have all pulled the film, which was set to debut on Christmas Day; the movie’s New York premiere, which was also threatened, was canceled on Tuesday. Though the hackers told Sony to “remember the 11th of September, 2001,” the Department of Homeland Security insists there is “no credible intelligence to indicate an active plot against movie theaters within the United States.”
NOT ONLY DID THE HACKER SO CALLED TERRORIST WIN – SONY SHOULD LEAVE THE USA AND GO BACK TO JAPAN – WHAT THE FUCK WERE THEY THINKING?
Sony pictures is at fault for allowing a film NAMING DIRECTLY UN & his country NORTH KOREA as the main subject of this film. They are supposed to be creative yet these producers writing this screenplay used a real country and a real person at the head of it – dictator instead of making up a fictitious name?
But with all the “protections” America is supposed to have on the internet foreign hackers hired by UN, a paranoid depressive commie dictator was able to hire these people and now they are threatening Sony Pictures?
Sony should close up shop and return to Japan with their heads between their legs. I find it laughable but I’d be insincere if I didn’t write that I am just as equally disgusted with how the Homeland Security handled this as well as Sony Pictures.
This picture was doomed from the start. I will bet that these so called producers are 20 years old working with their parents millions.
AND HAVE BEEN STOPPED FOR WALKING IN BEVERLY HILLS INSTEAD OF RIDING IN MY CAR?
IT’S LIKE BEING GIVEN A TICKET IN NYC (THANKS MICHAEL BLOOMBERG YOU KNOB KNOCKER)
THIS IS BEAUTIFUL AND IT’S GOING TO HAPPEN ALL OVER THE COUNTRY WITHIN THE YEAR.
LA IS ALWAYS THE FIRST PLACE TO DO ANYTHING – NYC IS ALWAYS THE LAST
FUCK YOU ASSHOLE GIVE ME A PLAYBACK!
LOS ANGELES — Every Los Angeles police officer will soon be equipped with a body camera, Mayor Eric Garcetti announced Tuesday.
Garcetti said at a press conference that the department will buy 7,000 on-body cameras for Los Angeles Police Department officers to expand transparency and accountability.
“The trust between a community and its police department can be eroded in a single moment,” Garcetti said. “Trust is built on transparency.”
The announcement comes two weeks after President Barack Obama announced a $363 million package that includes $75 million to pay half the cost of 50,000 officer-mounted cameras. The technology has been widely endorsed as a reform following the death of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager killed by Ferguson, Missouri, police officer Darren Wilson in August.
“No big city department has done this,” LAPD Chief Charlie Beck said at the press conference. “Officers will have tremendously powerful evidence and the ability to collect it. We are starting a journey that will go on for decades.”
Beck said he didn’t expect that the cameras would be recording all the time. For example, cameras would not be used when officers interview victims of sexual abuse, but would likely be used when a suspect is in custody. Policies on proper use of the cameras will be considered in early 2015. The mayor’s office said the city hopes to deploy the first 800 cameras within six months.
LAPD is not alone in its interest in officer-worn cameras. Police departments inChicago, New York, Minneapolis and Washington, D.C., as well as in smaller citieslike Ferguson, have started pilot programs with cameras or have announced plans to do so.
Police reform advocates have long called for police body cameras, arguing that the video can help eliminate bias and uncertainty when allegations of misconduct arise. One frequently cited officer body camera pilot program in Rialto, California, found that the number of complaints filed against officers fell by 88 percent and use of force by officers fell by almost 60 percent in the first year police used the cameras.
Garcetti’s new plan would expand an LAPD pilot program that began early this year involving 600 officer-mounted cameras.
The announcement comes more than four months after Ezell Ford, a 25-year-old mentally ill man, was shot to death by LA police in a South LA neighborhood, just days after Brown was killed in Ferguson. Like the Brown case, eyewitness and police accounts of Ford’s death vary.
Police have said that during an Aug. 11 “investigative stop,” a struggle ensued in which Ford tried to grab an officer’s gun and another officer fired at Ford.
“I think people forget that we’ve lived in the White House for six years,” Michelle Obama told the magazine. “Before that, Barack Obama was a black man that lived on the South Side of Chicago, who had his share of troubles catching cabs.”
In the interview, the president said it’s common for black men to understand what it’s like to be racially profiled. The first lady specifically mentioned an incident where Obama was asked to get coffee while attending a black-tie dinner.
In a Nov. 2008 piece published by the Wall Street Journal, Susan Davis recalled a 2003 party she attended with Obama, when another guest told her he had asked Obama “to fetch him a drink.”
“There’s no black male my age, who’s a professional, who hasn’t come out of a restaurant and is waiting for their car and somebody didn’t hand them their car keys,” Obama told People.
Amid discussions over race relations sparked by the deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, Eric Garner in New York City, Tamir Rice in Cleveland, Ohio, and others, Obama has made several recent comments on race, highlighting his concern for “when anybody in this country is not being treated equally under the law.”
“It’s incumbent on all of us as Americans …that we recognize that this is an American problem and not just a black problem,” Obama said after a grand jury announced it would not indict the NYPD officer who killed Garner. “It is an American problem when anybody in this country is not being treated equally under the law.”
Obama told People his experiences “are nothing” in light of more serious situations of racial profiling by police.
“The small irritations or indignities that we experience are nothing compared to what a previous generation experienced,” Obama said. “It’s one thing for me to be mistaken for a waiter at a gala. It’s another thing for my son to be mistaken for a robber and to be handcuffed, or worse, if he happens to be walking down the street and is dressed the way teenagers dress.”
A bill proposed by a Republican state lawmaker in Missouri would require a woman seeking an abortion to obtain notarized consent from the baby’s father, even if he is physically abusive toward her.
The bill’s sponsor, State Rep. Rick Brattin, told Mother Jones that while the bill has exceptions for rape victims and to protect the life of the mother, women in domestic violence situations are not exempt from having to ask the father’s permission. “What does that have to do with the child’s life?” Brattin said. “Just because it was an abusive relationship, does that mean the child should die?”
In explaining the bill to Mother Jones, Brattin channeled Todd Akin, the former Republican congressman from Missouri who, during a failed 2012 Senate bid, said that women who are victims of “legitimate rape” have mechanisms in their bodies that prevent them from getting pregnant. Brattin said his bill would require a woman to be able to prove that a “legitimate rape” happened in order to avoid having to ask for a man’s consent for the abortion.
“Just like any rape, you have to report it, and you have to prove it,” said Brattin. “So you couldn’t just go and say, ‘Oh yeah, I was raped,’ and get an abortion. It has to be a legitimate rape.”
Brattin said he was inspired to introduce the bill on December 3 for the next legislative session, but it has not moved yet in the Missouri House. He said he was inspired to change the laws around abortion consent because he was required to obtain his wife’s consent before having a vasectomy.
There are no laws in the United States, however, requiring men to seek permission from women before having a vasectomy.Mother Jones notes that some individual medical providers in Missouri have a policy requiring the partner’s consent. Elizabeth Nash, state issues manager for the Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive health research organization, told The Huffington Post there are legal reasons some providers might require spousal consent.
“It could be that the physician is afraid of being sued,” she said.
If Brattin’s bill gains traction in the state legislature and becomes law, it will likely be blocked by the courts. The Supreme Court decided in Casey v. Planned Parenthood in 1992 that requiring a woman to notify her spouse before having an abortion is unconstitutional.
70 YEARS AGO, 14 YR OLD GEORGE STINNEY was convicted for the murder of two white girls and executed in old sparky down in South Carolina.
After seven decades, a black 14-year-old boy has been cleared of murder.
In 1944, George Stinney was convicted of murdering two white girls in Alcolu, South Carolina. He was executed via the electric chair after his white lawyer called no witnesses and performed no cross-examinations.
Now this judge Mullins has vacated the conviction but they have not sought out the late George Stinney’s relatives to give them any compensation.
Are they even alive? To kill a 14 yr old boy at that time (1944) is ridiculous. It’s ridiculous even now unless you found him red handed. For pedophiles in America there is a statue of limitations – cos raping a woman is a notch in a man’s belt, don’t cha know! (total sarcasm)
And what about his former white lawyer who did not do his civic duty? I would think Judge Mullins would slam an injunction against his family members as well.
South Carolina has now opened pandora’s box for this child’s family to sue them for the reparations that George would have deserved and because they murdered him thru the law he was not able to grow up and live – his death served no purpose; except to kill the members of his family slowly every single day.
Who would we give reparations to?
Sad and sick.
George Stinney, Exonerated 70 Years After Wrongful Murder Conviction As 14-Year-Old
Posted: 12/17/2014 1:50 pm EST Updated: 1 hour ago
After seven decades, a black 14-year-old boy has been cleared of murder.
In 1944, George Stinney was convicted of murdering two white girls in Alcolu, South Carolina. He was executed via the electric chair after his white lawyer called no witnesses and performed no cross-examinations.
In January, a judge agreed to hear new testimony and arguments in the case.
At a hearing that month, Solicitor Ernest “Chip” Finney III argued the conviction should stand.
“They weren’t trying to railroad every black person associated with Alcolu and these little girls. They made a determination based on facts we don’t have today that George Stinney should be detained,” Finney said.
But an attorney arguing on behalf of Stinney said the state handled the case so badly that it merited another look.
“The state, as an entity, has very unclean hands,” attorney Miller Shealy argued.
THEIR ECONOMY IS BEING BLINDSIDED AND PUTIN BETTER START WORRYING ABOUT HIS PEOPLE
BURNING HIS LITTLE BIG CHEST
AT THE STAKE
FOR ALL THE WORLD TO SEE
TALK ABOUT GOING DOWN IN FLAMES FOR BEING AN ARSE!
THE UKRAINE IS LAUGHING AT FUGLY PUTIN & COMPANY
GOOGLE, APPLE AND IKEA ARE AMONG THE STORES THAT ARE EITHER RAISING PRICES OR PULLING OUT OF THE SUPER POWER
POOR RUSSIA – GO FUCK YOURSELVES – WELCOME TO KARMA LAND
COURTESY OF “THE UNIVERSE”
Russians Rush To Stores As Country Fears Bank Run
| By NATALIYA VASILYEVA
Posted: 12/17/2014 8:33 am EST Updated: 38 minutes ago
MOSCOW (AP) — Russian consumers flocked to the stores Wednesday, frantically buying a range of big-ticket items to pre-empt the price rises kicked off by the staggering fall in the value of the ruble in recent days.
As the Russian authorities announced a series of measures to ease the pressure on the ruble, which slid 15 percent in the previous two days and raised fears of a bank run, many Russians were buying cars and home appliances — in some cases in record numbers — before prices for these imported goods shoot higher.
The Swedish furniture giant IKEA already warned Russian consumers that its prices will rise Thursday, which resulted in weekend-like crowds at a Moscow store on a Wednesday afternoon.
Shops selling a broad range of items were reporting record sales — some have even suspended operations, unsure of how far the ruble will sink. Apple, for one, has halted all online sales in Russia.
“This is a very dangerous situation. We are just a few days away from a full-blown run on the banks,” Russia’s leading business daily Vedomosti said in an editorial Wednesday. “If one does not calm down the currency market right now, the banking system will need robust emergency care.”
Alyona Korsuntseva, a shopper at IKEA in her 30s, said the current jitters surrounding the Russian economy reminded her of the 1998 Russian crisis when the ruble tumbled following the government’s default on sovereign bonds.
“What’s pressuring us is the fact that many people (back then) rushed to withdraw money from bank cards, accounts,” she says. “We want to safeguard ourselves so that things wouldn’t be as bad they were back then.”
Consumers are buying durable goods as they are seen as better investments than most Russian stocks. And, an overwhelming majority of Russians cannot afford to buy land or real estate.
Earlier this week, the ruble suffered catastrophic losses as traders continued to fret over the combined impact of low oil prices and Western sanctions over Russia’s involvement in Ukraine’s crisis.
Some signs emerged Wednesday that the ruble’s freefall may have come to an end and the currency could recover, at least in the short-term. After posting fresh losses early Wednesday, the ruble rallied more than 10 percent to around 60 per dollar at 9 p.m. Moscow time (1800 GMT, 1 p.m. EST).
Analysts credited a series of reassuring statements from the Central Bank and the government for the improving ruble backdrop.
First, Deputy Finance Minister Alexei Moiseyev said the government will sell foreign currency from its own reserves “as much as necessary and as long as necessary.”
Then the Central Bank announced an expanded series of measures to help calm the situation such as giving banks more freedom to increase interest rates on retail deposits and offering them more flexibility to deal with the ruble’s depreciation on their balance sheets.
Neil Shearing, chief emerging markets economist at London-based Capital Economics, said the “authorities have at last started to develop a strategy for containing the effects of the ruble’s collapse on the banking system and wider economy.”
Tom Levinson, chief foreign exchange and rates strategist at Sberbank CIB, agreed, saying the Central Bank could ease pressure on the ruble, even without massively spending its reserves.
“If they can provide measures that help secure the banking sector, provide confidence to investors and also to the population as a whole … that could be the first toward stabilizing the situation,” Levinson said in an interview. “Long way to go, but we are seeing some positive steps at last.”
The ruble’s tailspin continued Tuesday, despite a surprise move by Russia’s Central Bank to raise its benchmark interest rate to 17 percent from 10.5 percent — a move aimed to make it more attractive for currency traders to hold onto their rubles.
Should the current attempts to shore up the ruble fail, then the Russian authorities could be imposing capital controls.
However, Russia’s Economic Development Minister Alexei Ulyukayev has denied the government is considering doing so. While easing pressure on the ruble, the move would shatter Russia’s already tarnished reputation to investors.
Russian officials, meanwhile, have sought to project a message of confidence on state television, dwelling on the advantages of ruble devaluation, such as a boost to domestic manufacturing.
There are fears that the ruble could come under further pressure this week as President Barack Obama is expected to sign legislation authorizing new economic sanctions against Russia.
Whatever happens with the ruble, the Russian economy is set to shrink next year by 0.8 percent, even if oil prices stay above $80 per barrel. If oil prices stay at the current level of around $60, the Central Bank said the Russian economy could contract by nearly 5 percent.
The German government’s coordinator for relations with Russia, Gernot Erler, said the economic crisis in Russia was largely the result of the drop in oil prices, not the sanctions imposed by the West.
“It’s an illusion to think that if the sanctions were to fall away tomorrow, the Russian economy would suddenly be all right again,” Erler told rbb-Inforadio on Wednesday.
Vladimir Kondrashov and Vladimir Isachenkov in Moscow and Frank Jordans in Berlin contributed to this report.
BANS FRACKING IN THE STATE BUT WHAT IS FRACKING & WHY IS IT CONTROVERSIAL?
Fracking is the process of drilling down into the earth before a high-pressure water mixture is directed at the rock to release the gas inside. Water, sand and chemicals are injected into the rock at high pressure which allows the gas to flow out to the head of the well.
Why is it controversial?
The extensive use of fracking in the US, where it has revolutionised the energy industry, has prompted environmental concerns.
The first is that fracking uses huge amounts of water that must be transported to the fracking site, at significant environmental cost. The second is the worry that potentially carcinogenic chemicals used may escape and contaminate groundwater around the fracking site. The industry suggests pollution incidents are the results of bad practice, rather than an inherently risky technique.
There are also worries that the fracking process can cause small earth tremors. Two small earthquakes of 1.5 and 2.2 magnitude hit the Blackpool area in 2011 following fracking.
“It’s always recognised as a potential hazard of the technique”, says Professor Ernie Rutter from the University of Manchester, “But they’re unlikely to be felt by many people and very unlikely to cause any damage.”
Finally, environmental campaigners say that fracking is simply distracting energy firms and governments from investing in renewable sources of energy, and encouraging continued reliance on fossil fuels.
“Shale gas is not the solution to the UK’s energy challenges,” said Friends of the Earth energy campaigner Tony Bosworth. “We need a 21st century energy revolution based on efficiency and renewables, not more fossil fuels that will add to climate change.”
What are the advantages of fracking?
Fracking allows drilling firms to access difficult-to-reach resources of oil and gas. In the US it has significantly boosted domestic oil production and driven down gas prices. It is estimated to have offered gas security to the US and Canada for about 100 years, and has presented an opportunity to generate electricity at half the CO2 emissions of coal.
The industry suggests fracking of shale gas could contribute significantly to the UK’s future energy needs. A report by the Energy and Climate Change Committee in April said shale gas in the UK may help to secure energy supplies, but may not bring down gas prices.
Where is fracking taking place?
Reserves of shale gas have been identified across swathes of the UK, particularly in the north of England. However no fracking is currently taking place, and drilling firms must apply for a fracking licence if they wish to do so in the future.
PRESIDENT OBAMA HAS RESTORED OUR POLITICAL RELATIONSHIP WITH CUBA WITH THE HELP OF A POPE, SECRETARY KERRY, RAUL CUBA (THE BROTHER OF THE COMMUNIST) & BARTER/TRADE.
MEANWHILE REPUBS – MARCO RUBIO – WHO CLAIMS HE CAME TO AMERICA UNDER CASTRO & LIED – IS FURIOUS; DEMOCRAT MENENDEZ – ALSO A CLASS A DOUCHE IS WARY AND HATES CASTRO’S CUBA & TED CRUZ WHO COMES FROM CANADA BY WAY OF
OUR POLITICAL PRISONER ALLAN GROSS WAS RELEASED THIS MORNING AFTER BEING IMPRISONED THERE FOR SPYING OVER 5 YEARS IN THEIR JAILS THERE. HE WAS SWAPPED FOR 3 POLITICAL PRISONERS THAT ARE CUBAN BEING HELD IN GUANTANAMO BAY
AND LET’S FACE IT
OBAMA DOES NOT WANT TO CLOSE GUANTANAMO BAY COS WERE ARE WE GONNA PUT THESE TERRORISTS AND WHERE ELSE CAN WE TORTURE THEM WITH SUCH GREAT SUCCESS? (total sarcasm)
So I’m sure the lampooning will begin and impeachment processes for Obama’s head courtesy of the Repubs in Congress. It’s gonna be a zoo for a coupla days people.
This is your heads up – Fried Obama for Xmas.
Personally, I have a let’s wait and see attitude because really we scooped up Cuba before Putin could win them over and it’s better to have an ally 90 miles in our hood than not.
Obama Speaks On Relations With Cuba, Release Of Alan Gross
Posted: 12/17/2014 11:07 am EST Updated: 26 minutes ago
President Barack Obama spoke Wednesday on U.S. relations with Cuba, hours after American Alan Gross was released from a Cuban prison, where he’d been for five years.
Gross was accompanied back to the U.S. by Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.). The Cuban government had detained Gross for setting up satellite Internet access as a subcontractor for the U.S. Agency for International Development, and charged him with violating the country’s “territorial integrity.”
“Today, Alan returned home, reunited with his family at long last,” Obama said in remarks delivered from the White House.
Three Cubans who had been jailed in the U.S. for spying, along with a U.S. intelligence source who had been jailed in Cuba for more than 20 years, were also released on Wednesday. Obama said that U.S. source was released “separately” from Gross.
Several lawmakers were quick to criticize the release of the Cuban spies, including Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.).
“Trading Mr. Gross for three convicted criminals sets an extremely dangerous precedent,” Menendez said in a statement. “It invites dictatorial and rogue regimes to use Americans serving overseas as bargaining chips.”
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) also criticized the spies’ release, saying during an interview on Fox News that it “sets a very dangerous precedent,” and calling the normalization of relations with Cuba “absurd.”
“This is going to do absolutely nothing to further human rights and democracy in Cuba,” Rubio told the AP earlier Wednesday. “But it potentially goes a long way in providing the economic lift that the Castro regime needs to become permanent fixtures in Cuba for generations to come.”
Obama addressed these critics in his remarks on Wednesday.
“I respect your passion and share you commitment to liberty and democracy,” the president said.
Obama also said he’s “under no illusion about the continued barriers to freedom” Cuban citizens still face.
“I do not expect the changes I am announcing today to bring about a transformation of Cuban society overnight,” Obama said.
Officials said Wednesday that talks will begin to normalize full U.S.-Cuba diplomatic relations, according to the AP. The U.S. also will aim to open an embassy in Havana in the coming months.
“We will end an outdated approach that for decades has failed to advance our interests, and instead we will begin to normalize relations between our two countries,” Obama said Wednesday, noting he’s instructed Secretary of State John Kerry to begin the discussions to re-establish diplomatic relations with Cuba.
Obama said he instructed Kerry to conduct a review of Cuba’s designation as state sponsor of terror. He also said the U.S. is “taking steps to increase travel, commerce and the flow of information to and from Cuba,” noting the changes will make it easier for Americans to travel there.
“Neither the American nor Cuban people are well-served by a rigid policy that took place before most of us were born,” Obama said, describing the steps being taken to improve relations as the beginning of a “new chapter.”
In a background call with reporters about an hour and a half before the president spoke, senior administration officials outlined the contours of the deal and how it came together.
The biggest news was that Obama on Monday personally spoke with Raul Castro for at least 45 minutes about both Gross and normalizing relations between the two countries. One senior administration official called it the “first engagement at the presidential level with Cuba since the Cuban revolution.” Absent from the call was Fidel Castro, the longtime Cuban strongman who has ceded authority to his brother Raul as his health has worsened.
The deal probably could not have come together, the officials said, without the assistance of two major actors. One was the government of Canada, which provided office space and other assistance to help facilitate the talks. Ben Rhodes, Obama’s senior foreign policy hand, and Ricardo Zuniga, senior director for the Western Hemisphere National Security Council, met Cuban counterparts in Canada.
The second major actor was the Vatican. Pope Francis personally issued a letter to Castro and Obama urging them to resolve the Gross case. The letter came after the president’s meeting with the Pope. A senior administration official called it “very rare” to receive such a direct appeal — so rare that they weren’t sure if it had happened before.
Obama thanked the pope, along with the Canadian government and members of U.S. Congress who worked to free Gross, in his remarks on Wednesday.
The administration officials said they had talked to members of Congress in advance of the announcement, which the presence of Flake, Leahy and Van Hollen on Gross’ plane home certainly suggests. But they also appeared aware that the policy would spark blowback. Officials said Wednesday’s announcement should not be considered a call for the ending of the embargo, though they do want it eased.
The officials repeatedly stressed that they were not exchanging the Cuban prisoners held in the U.S. for Gross. They said the exchange was for the intelligence asset that Cuba was currently holding, and that Gross was separate from that deal.
There still will be some limitations on relations between the two countries. The administration officials said that they were “acting within boundaries of the law” and could not “completely lift the travel ban.” Instead, they were broadening the number of acceptable reasons to travel to Cuba.
“We are authorizing as much travel as we possibly can within the constraints of the legislation,” said a senior administration official.
The administration said it also would allow licensed U.S. travelers to Cuba to import $400 worth of goods from the island. Of that $400, $100 could consist of tobacco and alcohol products combined.
“That can include cigars,” said a senior administration official, when asked twice if people will be able to smoke Cubans without fear in the new era of Cuban-U.S. relations.
A senior administration official told The Huffington Post after the call was over that the announcement will have no impact on the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay.
Castro also made a statement on Wednesday welcoming the talks to normalize diplomatic relations with the U.S.