Sunday, February 23, 2014

Last Call For Ukraine Migraine

In Kiev, opposition forces have now put President Viktor Yanukovich into the "ousted, former leader" category, but the headache in the Crimea region is just starting.

Ukraine's interim leadership pledged to put the country back on course for European integration now Moscow-backed Viktor Yanukovich had been ousted from the presidency, while the United States warned Russia against sending in its forces.

As rival neighbors east and west of the former Soviet republic said a power vacuum in Kiev must not lead to the country breaking apart, acting president Oleksander Turchinov said late on Sunday that Ukraine's new leaders wanted relations with Russia on a "new, equal and good-neighborly footing that recognizes and takes into account Ukraine's European choice".

European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton will travel to Ukraine on Monday, where she is expected to discuss measures to shore up the ailing economy.

Russia said late on Sunday it had recalled to Moscow its ambassador in Ukraine for consultations on the "deteriorating situation" in Kiev.

A day after Yanukovich fled to the Russian-speaking east following dozens of deaths during street protests aimed at toppling him, parliament named new speaker Turchinov as interim head of state. An ally of the ousted leader's long-jailed rival Yulia Tymoshenko, he aims to swear in a government by Tuesday that can provide authority until a presidential election on May 25.

The last thing Vlad Putin wants is for Ukraine to join the EU, and by extension, NATO.  This whole mess started because Yanukovich basically ignored the will of the people to join the EU in order to keep Putin happy.  All that has now fallen apart, but it doesn't mean sunshine and roses in Kiev just yet, either.  Ukraine's economy is in shambles right now.

In addition to any economic assistance the EU might offer, the U.S. has also promised help. Budgets are tight on both sides of the Atlantic, and international creditors may be wary of Yanukovich's opponents, whose previous spell in government was no economic success, but a desire to avoid instability and back what looks to Western voters like a democratic movement menaced by Russian diktat may loosen purse strings, at least to tide Ukraine over until elections.

In Russia, where Putin had wanted Ukraine as a key part in a union of ex-Soviet states, the finance minister said the next tranche of a $15-billion loan package agreed in December would not be paid, at least before a new government is formed.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, according to his office, told U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry the opposition had "seized power" by force by ignoring an EU-brokered truce that would have left Yanukovich in office for the time being.

So no, Russia's in no mood to help out.  The good news is the EU is in position to help, at least in the short run.  We'll see how this works out.

Imprisoned By Fear

Texas Republican Michael McCaul is chair of the House Homeland Security Committee, and wants everyone to know that American super-max prisons are the only solution to hold the world's most dangerous criminals.

The chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security is encouraging Mexico's authorities to extradite drug kingpin Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman (wah-KEEN' el chah-poh gooz-MAHN') to the United States to ensure he remains behind bars.

Guzman was arrested Saturday morning in the resort city of Mazatlan, Mexico.

Republican Michael McCaul calls Guzman the world's most notorious drug lord and says on ABC's "This Week" that his arrest is a significant victory for Mexico and the United States.

Guzman faces at least seven federal indictments.

McCaul said it's Mexico's call on where Guzman faces prosecution, but he noted that Guzman escaped from prison in 2001 and corruption continues to plague Mexico.

McCaul says Guzman would end up "in a super-max prison" in the U.S. from which he could not escape.

So Guzman, the Mexican drug kingpin, the "world's most notorious drug lord", well we would have to extradite him to the US in order to face our justice system so he can spend the rest of his life in a super-max cell.  Got it.  What about, you know, other criminals?

McCaul said efforts to close Gitmo were impractical and questioned where detainees suspected of terrorism could be housed.

“The president's position was let's just close it down and find a solution to this,” he said. “I think the reverse should be true and that is we ought to be trying to find how to deal with them before we close this facility down.

Name me one American city that would like to host these guys -- these terrorists in their country?,” asked McCaul.

Oh, so absolutely we must put the world's most notorious drug lord in a US super-max, a man so dangerous he had his own personal army that viciously fought military troops and killed civilians (completely unlike a terrorist), a criminal so ruthless and rich he regularly made Forbes's list of World Billionaires and Most Powerful People, but we can never, ever put some angry former goat herder from Yemen in a US super-max because unlike El Chapo, there's too much of a risk of reprisal to the surrounding community.


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