The Propaganda Olympics

by Walter Brasch For Vladimir Putin, the winter Olympics is not about sports or international camaraderie. It’s a carefully orchestrated propaganda opportunity to try to showcase the nation’s athletes and show the world a Russia that, even with its great culture and arts, may exist only in the imaginations of those who believe in restoring the country’s previous grandeur. Sochi itself is not typical city for a winter Olympics. It’s a sub-tropical city of about 340,000, located along the Black Sea. Its selection by Russia was to let the world believe that the country in winter is not Siberia but a resort, suitable for tourists. Under Putin’s personal direction, Russia spent more than 1.8 trillion rubles (the equivalent of about … Continue reading

Secretary of State John Kerry on ‘This Week’

In an exclusive interview with ABC’s Martha Raddatz for “This Week,” Secretary of State John Kerry said, “the United States had not abandoned former FBI agent Robert Levinson — the 65-year-old American who went missing in Iran seven years ago — and said he was personally involved in the effort to locate him.” Unfortunately your browser does not support IFrames. In his interview with Raddatz, Kerry rejected the Levinson family’s claim that Robert Levinson was working for a rogue CIA operation when he disappeared. “There hasn’t been progress in the sense that we don’t have him back. But to suggest that we have abandoned him or anybody has abandoned him is simply incorrect and not helpful,” Kerry said. “The fact … Continue reading

Secretary of State John Kerry Returns to Mekong Delta

Secretary of State John Kerry returned to the muddy waters of the Mekong Delta this weekend, decades after commanding a Swift Boat there during the Vietnam War.  Serving in that war would ultimately turn Kerry against the war and take him full circle from military service, to activist, to decades of public service in the Senate, to presidential candidate, and now as the U.S. Secretary of State. John Kerry’s visit to the Mekong Delta was to “investigate climate change in his role as Washington’s top diplomat.” Kerry, who arrived in Ho Chi Minh City Saturday on a trip aimed at shoring up ties with Southeast Asia, travelled by boat through Ca Mau, a once-dangerous Viet Cong stronghold, an official with the local … Continue reading

Obama: Mandela, ‘The Last Great Liberator of the 20th Century’

In his eulogy for Nelson Mandela today, President Obama called Mandela “the last great liberator of the 20th century,” while “tens of thousands of South Africans, joyously cheering and singing despite a cold rain, mourned the passing and celebrated the life of the father of their modern nation.” Speaking in large open soccer stadium with world leaders from around the globe, Obama “likened Mandela to historic giants of the past century, such as Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. Like them, Mandela willingly “suffered the consequences of his actions” in standing up to powerful oppressors.” He also likened Mandela to Abraham Lincoln. “We will never see the likes of Nelson Mandela again,” said Obama, who has long regarded Mandela as … Continue reading

Obama Shakes Hand, Conservative Heads Explode

President Obama shook the hand of Cuba’s President Raul Castro today at Nelson Mandela’s memorial service, marking the first time in a longtime since leaders of the U.S. and Cuba have had personal contact. The simple gesture of the handshake, has caused conservative heads to explode across the punditry and social media chanels. CNN notes that “President Barack Obama shook hands with dozens of other world leaders,” as he made his way across the stage. It was merely a moment of politeness, was it not. Image the uproar had Obama snubbed Castro and passed by him without an acknowledgement. Indeed, those crowing now about the handshake would crow just as loud had Obama snubbed Castro. Folks are over-analyzing the handshake Kabuki Theater … Continue reading

South Africa’s Liberator Nelson Mandela, Dies at 95

Nelson Mandela, South Africa’s first black president, died today at 95.  Mandala led the “emancipation of South Africa from white minority rule” after spending 27 years in a South African prison, and became an “international emblem of dignity and forbearance.” Mr. Mandela’s quest for freedom took him from the court of tribal royalty to the liberation underground to a prison rock quarry to the presidential suite of Africa’s richest country. And then, when his first term of office was up, unlike so many of the successful revolutionaries he regarded as kindred spirits, he declined a second term and cheerfully handed over power to an elected successor, the country still gnawed by crime, poverty, corruption and disease but a democracy, respected in the world … Continue reading

Pope Francis Calls On Rich to Share, Says Unfettered Capitalism is ‘Tyranny’

In his first major work written as Pontiff, Pope Francis has called out “unfettered capitalism as ‘a new tyranny’” and is “urging global leaders to fight poverty and growing inequality.” Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation, an 84-page document which is tantamount to his official platform, builds on views Francis “has aired in sermons and remarks since he became the first non-European pontiff in 1,300 years in March.” In it, Francis went further than previous comments criticising the global economic system, attacking the “idolatry of money” and beseeching politicians to guarantee all citizens “dignified work, education and healthcare”. He also called on rich people to share their wealth. “Just as the commandment ‘Thou shalt not kill’ sets a clear limit in order to safeguard the value of … Continue reading