Thursday, July 16, 2015

A Post For A Thursday

Lots to talk about...

James Holmes was found guilty for a theatre shooting in which twelve people were killed:

A jury convicted Colorado movie theater shooter James Holmes on Thursday in the 2012 massacre that killed 12 people and injured 70, and he could now face the death penalty.  Jurors rejected defense argument that Holmes was insane and driven by delusions during the attack, where he entered a packed showing of a Batman film wearing body armor and opened fire.

Arapahoe County District Chief Judge Carlos Samour Jr. revealed the verdict at 4:15 p.m. local time after jurors reviewed the 165 charges against Holmes for about 14 hours over the course of two days. The verdict comes nearly three years to the day after the July 20, 2012 mass shooting.

The same jury panel will now reconvene for a penalty phase to decide if Holmes should be sentenced to death.

"Workplace violence" by a "lone wolf" that has nothing to do with Islamism:

The FBI confirmed 24-year-old Mohammod Youssuf Abdulazeez was the shooter who opened fire on a military recruiting center and reserve center in Chattanooga on Thursday morning

Military might and economic stability go hand-in-hand:

According to Robert Dannenberg, a Goldman Sachs security analyst and CIA veteran, Russia's President Vladimir Putin recognizes the importance of gaining power through international economic agencies. 

"Putin is conservative and nostalgic, but he also understands that it takes more than just rebuilding or modernizing your nuclear arsenal to create a bi-polar world. You need to have economic power," Dannenberg said during a Q&A in a Goldman note.

Russia seems far from realizing these goals. Lowered oil prices and economic sanctions by NATO due to the Ukraine conflict have crippled the Russian economy in the past few years.

The country's bonds have been downgraded to junk status, and its GDP contracted 1.9% in the first quarter of 2015. It does not seem that Russia is ready to flex its economic muscle. 

In spite of the weak economy, Russia is attempting to boost its fortune by allying with more friendly economic powers, particularly China, and burgeoning markets.

According to Dannenberg, Putin's plan is twofold. The first objective is to create closer formal ties with countries that have similar economic interests. 

Last week Russia hosted the BRICS summit, a meeting of economic and political leaders from the growing powers of Brazil, India, China and South Africa. Russia is also a member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), which has 14 members including China, India, Iran, Pakistan and Turkey.

They've even begun to court Greece as an economic partner in Europe.

Obviously based on those membership lists, Russia's main focus is maintaining strong ties with China. Dannenberg highlighted this the most important part of Putin's economic plan. 

This isn't really news. Russia has had good relations with China for a long time. Now that sanctions have been lifted off of Iran, Russia will see more money in its coffers.

Related: scapegoat:

A Ukrainian military pilot, Nadia Savchenko, who has been held in Russia since June 2014, faces a 25-year prison term, according to reports.

Though a deal with Obama's pet project, Iran, has been struck, such a deal seems unlikely for North Korea:

A deal with North Korea isn’t a legacy-maker. It’s a well-established pattern that lame-duck Presidents grasp for “accomplishments” abroad as their power wanes at home. There’s no better president to negotiate with than one who knows he’ll be safely ensconced in his presidential library by the time the deal falls apart. North Korea’s track record tells us it will cheat, and when it does, the next president will come under strong pressure to walk away. I suspect that the administration has been involved in secret talks with North Korea periodically, but there’s usually at least some warning before a deal is announced. I first got wind of Chris Hill closing a deal with the North Koreans in Berlin in late 2006, and the deal was announced the following February. But then, how often do you hear George W. Bush boast about Agreed Framework 2? And even assuming this were possible, how long would it last under a future president? Probably not much longer than the Leap Day Deal itself. That’s a pretty dubious foundation for a legacy.

Read the whole thing.

Some South Koreans have clearly learned nothing from the UN, China and Russia's permanent seats on the security council, the failed Kaesong Industrial Complex and what a disaster North Korea is:

Judging by state-run Yonhap’s report, the reporter sees nothing wrong with this splendid idea, either. He (or she) never cites any of the U.N. Security Council resolutions or quotes their text, nor does he seek comment from any legal experts or South Korean government officials about the legality of this. Least of all, no one bothers to ask a South Korean labor activist about the ethics of this, not that you’d easily find one who isn’t under Pyongyang’s substantial influence anyway.

Instead, everyone seems to blithely accept circumventing U.N. sanctions and enslaving North Korean workers as a swell ideas. What’s not clear is whether they simply don’t care, because they assume China and South Korea won’t enforce the sanctions, or whether they think they’ve found a neat little loophole.

Sometimes losing money is all these bozos understand.

And now, inside out peppermint patties because deliciousness. Enjoy.

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