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Statement by the President on Executive Order “Blocking Property of Certain Persons and Prohibiting Certain Transactions with Respect to the Crimea Region of Ukraine”

December 21, 2014
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{Russian text below}  Statement by the President on Executive Order “Blocking Property of Certain Persons and Prohibiting Certain Transactions with Respect to the Crimea Region of Ukraine”

Today, I issued an Executive Order taking further steps with respect to the situation in Ukraine. The E.O. prohibits the export of goods, technology, or services to Crimea and prohibits the import of goods, technology, or services from Crimea, as well as new investments in Crimea. The E.O. also authorizes the Secretary of the Treasury to impose sanctions on individuals and entities operating in Crimea. The E.O. is intended to provide clarity to U.S. corporations doing business in the region and reaffirm that the United States will not accept Russia’s occupation and attempted annexation of Crimea. I again call on Russia to end its occupation and attempted annexation of Crimea, cease its support to separatists in eastern Ukraine, and fulfill its commitments under the Minsk agreements. My Administration will continue to work closely with allies and partners in Europe and internationally to respond to events in Ukraine and to support Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, as well its democratic development and reform efforts. We will continue to review and calibrate our sanctions, in close coordination with our international partners, to respond to Russia’s actions.

http://goo.gl/eSeVXV

Заява президента щодо указу «Блокування власності окремих осіб і заборона окремих операцій стосовно кримського регіону України»

Сьогодні я підписав указ про подальші кроки стосовно ситуації в Україні. Указ забороняє експорт товарів, технологій або послуг в Крим, забороняє імпорт товарів, технологій або послуг із Криму, а також нові інвестиції в Крим. Указом міністру фінансів також надано право накладати санкції на фізичних та юридичних осіб, що здійснюють діяльність у Криму. Указ має на меті внести ясність для американських компаній, які ведуть бізнес в регіоні, та ще раз заявити про невизнання Сполученими Штатами окупації та спроби анексії Криму Росією. Я знову закликаю Росію припинити окупацію і спроби анексувати Крим, припинити підтримувати сепаратистів у східній Україні й виконати свої зобов’язання за мінськими домовленостями. Моя адміністрація продовжуватиме тісну співпрацю із союзниками і партнерами в Європі та міжнародною спільнотою з тим, щоб реагувати на події в Україні і підтримувати її суверенітет і територіальну цілісність, а також демократичний розвиток та зусилля із проведення реформ. Ми продовжимо аналізувати і регулювати наші санкції у взаємодії з нашими міжнародними партнерами у відповідь на дії Росії.

Suddenly, Russia’s Confidence Stumbles

December 20, 2014

With the ruble flagging and the price of oil still on the way down, the Russian economy is in trouble. Former U.S. ambassador Michael McFaul tells NPR’s Scott Simon what that means for Russia.

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

The Russian economy is in trouble. The price of the ruble is sinking. It’s now worth 50 percent less against the dollar than it was a year ago, as the price of oil falls and Western economic sanctions tighten. Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, held his annual press conference this week and it lasted three hours. He tried to reassure the nation, but even as he spoke the ruble fell a few points more. We’re joined now by Michael McFaul, a professor of political science at Stanford and former U.S. ambassador to Russia. Thanks very much for being with us again.

MICHAEL MCFAUL: Sure, thanks for having me.

SIMON: It wasn’t so long ago that rich Russians were strutting a little. What’s happened?

MCFAUL: Well, just what you described. There’s been fall in the oil prices, which has had a big effect on the ruble; exacerbated by the sanctions, in my view, and suddenly a confident Putin and a confident Russia is no more. I think growth is next to zero by the end of the year and many people are predicting negative four – maybe even negative 5 – percent economic contraction next year.

SIMON: Does anyone in Russia say – are they bold enough to now say in public that invading Crimea doesn’t look like such a smart move?

MCFAUL: Bold enough in public – that’s an interesting phrase. I would say no to that, but that said, lots of people are now beginning to raise that quietly. And the trade-off, economically, for what happened in Ukraine is becoming a serious issue that people are discussing. One person who’s not discussing it that way, however, is President Putin and that’s the person that matters in terms of changing the policy of Ukraine.

SIMON: I gather polls show an 80 percent approval rating, which any Western Democratic leader would certainly envy. Is he that popular?

MCFAUL: Well, yes and no. I mean, he’s popular in that he’s the only leader on the national stage, right? So there’s no alternative. There’s no independent media, per se. There’s not a – you know, I remember just watching the president’s statement about Cuba. Immediately, on all other television stations were critics of his. That doesn’t happen in Russia. The parliament just rubberstamps what he does, so I don’t think that 80 percent number is as robust as it would be in a democratic society, but yes, he’s still popular. He’s still the leader and most people don’t see an alternative to Putin inside Russia.

SIMON: A lot of voices say the Russian economy needs to diversify, not depend so much on oil. Is it possible to diversify and how quickly?

MCFAUL: Yes, lots of people have been saying that for years, including senior government officials, including the former president – President Medvedev. It was striking to me that Putin himself said that in his press conference. And that hinted at the possibility of some serious structural reforms – admitting that this is not just about oil prices and sanctions, but about economic policy inside Russia. But he did not outline what that was, right? He held his cards, but I’m looking to that in the coming, you know, after the New Year to see if they will take that on seriously.

SIMON: Let me read something else with you. There’s a former esteemed U.S. ambassador to the Soviet Union, George Kennan, who used to say that Russia gets dangerous when it feels cornered. Is there a danger that the combination of falling oil prices and Western sanctions will make Russia feel cornered and that it’ll lash out?

MCFAUL: I did not detect that in Putin’s three-hour press conference. I did not see him saying we need to open up a second front in our confrontation with the West. I actually saw hints of him looking for a deal, hints of him wanting to be more conciliatory vis-a-vis the West. And so I didn’t detect that, you know, we’re in the corner and we’re going to lash out. It was more conciliatory for Putin. I want to emphasize that.

SIMON: Yeah. At some level, is this what American policy wanted?

MCFAUL: At the beginning of the Obama administration – when I joined the government – this is exactly what we didn’t want. We wanted a cooperative relation with the Russians that would be good for the United States, good for Russia.

SIMON: So do Russians of means put all their money into London townhouses now?

MCFAUL: Oh, I’m sure Russians who can do that have already done that. What it will be important to watch for the new year is do people in the middle class buy television sets and cars? And that’s a confidence game, but I don’t think we’re out of the potential for panic moment yet.

SIMON: Former U.S. ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul is now at Stanford. Thanks so much for being with us.

MCFAUL: Sure, thanks for having me.

Source: http://www.npr.org/2014/12/20/372070454/suddenly-russia-is-confident-no-longer

How a Conspiracy Theory is Born, Made Up, Manufactured, uh, Created

December 20, 2014

So there I was, knee-deep in cyber grenade pins (that’s for you, Brett), ‘discussing’ the Sony hack with a Russian on Facebook, when he slings a turd against the wall (to see if it would stick, you know, like spaghetti).  He posted a link to this:

The Interview” Co-Director Says The Sony Hack Was Probably An Inside Job“.

I glanced at the article, and when I stopped laughing I realized – this is how conspiracy theorists in Russia make stuff up (not the words I used in my mind).

I’m sure someone, somewhere in Russia, actually said “How can we use the Sony hack to plant a seed of doubt in everybody’s mind?  How can we cause people to doubt the FBI (more)?  How can we make them distrust Sony (more)?”

So I typed into Facebook, borrowing quotes from the article itself:

“No way. You’d have to know Sony’s network, it has to be somebody on the inside.”

Bwa ha ha ha ha! That is the co-director’s SOLE reason for saying that? “the younger guys in our office who know way more about computers were, like…” They are the experts?

They obviously have zero experience with hackers. No experience seeing them recon a system, wiping out logs, taking weeks, even months to do it properly.

Conspiracy theorists, behold, another piece of <expletive deleted by NSA>!

Oh, by the way, that last sentence was designed solely to make the Russian (even more) paranoid about the NSA messing around on his system…

FAUXTRIBUTION?

December 20, 2014

Joel Harding:

Very good analysis of the Sony hack and the DPRK announcement!

Originally posted on Krypt3ia:

kim-jong-un

Well here we are… It’s the beginning of the cyber wars my friends. POTUS came out on stage and said that we would have a “proportionate response” to the hacking of Sony and that in fact the US believes that it was in fact Kim Jong Un who was behind this whole thing. Yup, time to muster the cyber troops and attack their infrastructure!

*chortle*

So yeah, let’s take a step back here and ponder the FBI statement today on colonel mustard in the study with the laptop before we go PEW PEW PEW ok?

FBI Statement:

Update on Sony Investigation

Washington, D.C. December 19, 2014
  • FBI National Press Office(202) 324-3691

Today, the FBI would like to provide an update on the status of our investigation into the cyber attack targeting Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE). In late November, SPE confirmed that it was the victim of a cyber attack…

View original 2,615 more words

Humor is a Cathartic

December 20, 2014

North Korea LandThe North Korean government has proposed a joint inquiry into the cyber attack on Sony. No, really!

The Russian government has proposed a joint inquiry with Dutch authorities to figure out who in the world could have possibly shot down MH17.

OJ Simpson has offered to participate in a joint investigation with the LAPD to determine who killed Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman.

Al Sharpton has proposed to sit down with IRS investigators to figure out how the hell he owes 4.5 million in taxes, and devise a repayment schedule.

…sorry, I made that last one up.

ht to fh

Proof Putin is Nuts

December 20, 2014

Putin Cites Claim About U.S. Designs on Siberia Traced to Russian Mind Readers.  This article by the New York Times claims the US has sought Siberia’s mineral resources.  Russia used mind readers to discern this information.

According to an investigation by a former Moscow Times correspondent, Anna Smolchenko, the idea that Ms. Albright was jealous of Russia’s natural resources can be traced to a December 2006 interview with Boris Ratnikov, a retired major general from the Russian secret service. General Ratnikov told Rossiyskaya Gazeta that his colleagues in the service’s secret mind-reading division had read Ms. Albright’s thoughts in 1999, just before the United States-led military intervention in Kosovo that she had championed.

According to the general, his colleagues had detected a “pathological hatred of Slavs” in Ms. Albright’s mind and that “she was indignant that Russia held the world’s largest reserves of natural resources.”

Asked by Ms. Smolchenko to explain how the mind reading had worked, General Ratnikov recalled that the team had studied photographs of Ms. Albright. “By tuning in on her image,” he said, “our specialists were able to glean these things.”

I rest my case.

Obama says Sony made a Mistake pulling “The Interview”

December 19, 2014

US President Barack Obama said today that North Korea imposed censorship on Sony to pull “The Interview”, and we cannot have that.

In probably the first rational thing to come out of Washington DC in regards to Sony, he said:

Sony’s a corporation. It suffered significant damage. There were threats against some of its employees. I am sympathetic to the concerns that they faced. Having said all that, yes, I think they made a mistake.

National Security was a strong factor in pulling the movie from theaters, scheduled to show starting Christmas Day.  Apparently the hackers also threatened to attack theaters and Sony took the threat overly serious and stopped the opening. This amounts to extortion on a grand scale.  The threat of terrorism was too great and police do not have the capability to protect every theater from an attack.  Sony probably also felt liable to financial loss if anyone was harmed or killed.

With President Obama’s statement I hope Sony shows “The Interview” movie on Christmas day.  Talk about free publicity!

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