Putin: McCain Is Nuts

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has lashed out at Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) over his threats that Putin may face the same fate as the late Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi following a voting scandal.

The Russian leader said that the U.S. Senator had likely been traumatized by his experience as a prisoner of war.

“Mr. McCain was taken prisoner in Vietnam and was put, not just in jail, but in a pit! He sat there for several years. Any person would go nuts from that!” Putin said during a television appearance.

The Prime Minister also said that the United States played a much bigger role in the ousting of the former Libyan dictator than has been reported, according to Russia Today.

“All the world saw him being killed, all bloodied. Is that democracy? And who did it? Drones, including American ones, delivered a strike on his motorcade. Then commandos, who were not supposed to be there, brought in so-called opposition and militants. And killed him without trial,” Putin explained.

Putin also said hawkish politicians like McCain are targeting Russia because it has the strength to protect its sovereignty and its international interests rather than submit to U.S. attempts at world domination.

“They still fear our nuclear capabilities,” he said in reference to the West. “That is why we are such an irritant. We have our own opinion and are conducting our own independent foreign policy… And it clearly bothers someone.”

Detention Bill Passes Both Chambers

Congress cleared a $662 billion defense bill Thursday and will send the measure to President Barack Obama for his signature.

The National Defense Authorization Act and its controversial provisions regarding detention of American terror suspects was passed in the House of Representatives Wednesday night by a vote of 283-136.

The bill split Democrats down the middle, as 93 voted in favor and 93 against legislation that President Barack Obama endorsed earlier that day by retreating from a veto threat after a “change in the language” of the detention provision, according to POLITICO. The bill was met with opposition from 43 members of the GOP.

“We have ensured that as we fight terrorists around the world, we also protect the civil liberties of Americans at home,” House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) said in a statement issued following the vote.

The Senate voted 86-13 for the bill on Thursday. The bill would authorize money for military personnel and operations as well as indefinite detention of American terror suspects.

The White House initially threatened a veto but dropped that warning, saying last-minute Congressional changes no longer challenge the President’s ability to prosecute the war on terror, according to The Associated Press.

Human Rights Watch has described the President’s failure to veto the bill as a destruction of the rule of law both in the United States and abroad.

“By signing this defense spending bill, President Obama will go down in history as the president who enshrined indefinite detention without trial in US law,” said Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch. “In the past, Obama has lauded the importance of being on the right side of history, but today he is definitely on the wrong side.”

Study: Obama Youth Support Waning

A new poll conducted by Harvard University, President Barack Obama’s alma mater, found that a growing number of younger voters, many of whom voted for him in 2008, think he will lose the next election.

“This survey may well serve as an ominous sign for Barack Obama’s 2012 chances and the political engagement of America’s largest generation,” said John Della Volpe, polling director at Harvard’s Institute of Politics.

The poll surveyed American 18- to 29-year-olds and found that 36 percent of millennials predict Obama will lose his bid for re-election. The survey shows former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney faring best among potential Republican challengers in a general election match-up against Obama, trailing the President by 11 percentage points, 37 percent to 26 percent. Forty-six percent of those surveyed approved of Obama’s Presidential job performance.

The poll also demonstrates that only one in four millennials support the OWS movement, and 52 percent believe that America is heading in the wrong direction.

 

Tech Heavyweights Decry Government Meddling With Internet

Several high-profile names in the tech industry are on the offensive against two online piracy bills in Congress that would give the government vast new power to censor content on the Web.

The technological innovators — including Google’s Sergey Brin, eBay co-founder Pierre Omidyar and Arianna Huffington — blast the bills in full-page ads expected to run in the coming days in The New York Times and The Washington Post and other publications, according to POLITICO.

The ads, which include a copy of an open letter to Congress that was sent late Tuesday, charges that the PROTECT IP Act in the Senate and Stop Online Piracy Act in the House would “deny website owners the right to due process” and hand “the U.S. government the power to censor the Web using techniques similar to those used by China, Malaysia and Iran.” The members of the tech community also say that the government risks undermining online security by changing the basic structure of the Internet.

The letter was signed by Yahoo co-founder Jerry Yang, Netscape co-founder Marc Andreessen, Craigslist founder Craig Newmark, Flickr and Hunch co-founder Caterina Fake, PayPal co-founder Elon Musk and Twitter’s co-founders Biz Stone, Jack Dorsey and Evan Williams among others.

One lawmaker aid said that the executives’ arguments are inaccurate simply because PROTECT IP Act in the Senate would not be sponsored by 41 Senators if their claims were true.

GBTV To Premiere Show For American Preppers

Glenn Beck’s live video network GBTV will premiere a reality show on Jan. 18 that follows a family of American preppers as they attempt to become able to live completely off the grid.

The show, called “Independence U.S.A.,” follows Frank Belcastro and his family as they tackle prepper tasks that would become commonplace in the event of the collapse of civilization. The show documents the family of four struggling with such tasks as identifying the best alternate fuel sources, planning hunting trips to provide all of their own food and making alcohol for barter.

“This show, for me, is a fun and sometimes funny way to get people to open their eyes and see what’s going on,” said Belcastro, in a statement. “Americans are so reliant on the infrastructure around them but when you can create something with your own hands and everybody works as a team, everybody does a part, you can focus on the positive of this.  You can spend time with your family and your community.”

Belcastro and his family have done this before, starring in a similar show called “Apocalypse, PA,” which aired for a short time on History Channel last year.

Poll: Paul Strong In Iowa

Public Policy Polling recently reported poll numbers for the Iowa Republican Presidential race that show Ron Paul making gains in the contest.

Over the past week, a 9- point lead that was enjoyed by Newt Gingrich has slipped to just 1 point in the State, leaving him neck and neck with Paul at 22 percent to 21 percent. The other candidates are trailing behind the leaders with Mitt Romney at 16 percent, Michele Bachmann at 11 percent, Rick Perry at 9 percent, Rick Santorum at 8 percent, Jon Huntsman at 5 percent and Gary Johnson at 1 percent.

As Gingrich continues to drop in Iowa polls, the Paul campaign is gaining steam. Among the candidates, Paul is viewed most favorably by likely voters in Iowa with 61 percent saying they have a good opinion of the candidate. Gingrich was viewed favorably by 52 percent.

The polling indicates parallels between Paul’s strength in Iowa and Barack Obama’s in 2008. Paul continues to garner support from new voters, young voters and non-Republican voters.

The idea that the most important thing to likely primary voters is beating Obama in 2012 is challenged by the poll results, as 56 percent of those polled said that they are more concerned with picking a candidate whose positions they agree with than simply one who is able to defeat Obama.

A majority of the individuals polled (36 percent ) said that the biggest issue that would weigh on their vote was government spending and the reduction of debt, which is a major portion of the Paul platform.

Obama Attempts To Get Conservative Donations

Barack Obama’s 2012 Presidential campaign wants its supporters to make campaign contributions in the names of conservative friends and family members this holiday season.

Deputy campaign manager Julianna Smoot sent a message to Obama supporters on Tuesday that suggested making a donation “inspired by your favorite conservative friend or relative,” especially if that person is fond of making right-wing arguments against the President. Donors can then send a message to their conservative friends or family members alerting them that a contribution has been given to Obama on their behalf.

A portion of the letter reads:

Know someone on Facebook or Twitter who, day after day,
populates your feed with the latest right-wing talk-radio chatter? Or your
cousin who won’t stop forwarding those chain email hoaxes? It can be frustrating.

So what do you do about it? You can go round and round in
circles arguing with them — or you can have a little fun and make them pay.
Literally.

The letter also suggests that Obama supporters threaten to donate $3 to Obama’s campaign every time their conservative loved ones “say something outrageous” during holiday gatherings.

Diplomatic Quarrel Continues With Iran Over Spy Drone

Foreign relations between the United States and Iran are becoming ever more strained as the Administration of Barack Obama asks the country to return an unmanned surveillance drone downed in the region.

Obama said Monday that the United States wants the top-secret aircraft back, but there is no indication that Iranian leaders are willing to comply.

The state-run Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) reported on Tuesday that the Obama Administration’s requests are childlike in light of the likely dubious nature of the failed drone mission.

“This is a bit like a kid asking for his ball back, though I’m not sure he used the word please,” said Yvonne Ridley, a U.K. journalist, in an interview with IRNA. The news outlet also indicates that the drone capture is proof that the United States continuously violates international conventions and violates Iranian airspace.

According to The Associated Pressformer Vice President Dick Cheney on Tuesday called the downing of the drone “a significant intelligence loss and suggested that it would have been fairly simple for the United States to “go in and take out the drone.”

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Tuesday that Iranians have “been able to control” the U.S. drone, Venezuelan state TV reported.

“There are people here who have been able to control this spy plane,” Ahmadinejad said. “Those who have been in control of this spy plane surely will analyze the plane’s system. Furthermore, the systems of Iran are so advanced also, like the system of this plane.”

Paul Foreign Policy Gaining Traction

Ron Paul released a statement on his website Tuesday that says he supports the pre-9/11 foreign policy views of President George W. Bush.

“I think one way for us to end up being viewed as the ugly American is for us to go around the world saying ‘we do it this way, so should you,’” Bush said during an October 2000 debate.

The then-Presidential candidate went on to say that the United States should avoid an arrogant approach to foreign policy and seek to be a “humble nation” that does not engage in “nation-building.”

Paul’s campaign contends that his foreign policy is basically what Americans voted for in 2000.

International Business Times, in a recent editorial, says that despite reports that Paul’s view on foreign policy is a detriment to his campaign, it is actually one of his strongest points. The article opines that Americans soon will realize the dire economic consequences of the U.S. perpetual war policy and Paul may have the only plan to avoid disaster. The author contends that a continuance of current foreign policy may result in the United States suffering a Soviet-style collapse and possible encroachment by China.

Another real indication that Paul’s foreign policy views are the most logical, says the article, can be traced to campaign contributions:

If nothing else, consider the fact that Paul has raised more money than of any other 2012 presidential candidates from members of the military. In fact, while contributions from members of the military topped Paul’s campaign, contributions from individuals associated with Goldman Sachs topped Mitt Romney’s campaign. Military members, after all, know firsthand a thing or two about U.S. foreign policy.

Quarrel Over Payroll Tax, Keystone Threatens Government Shutdown

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is keeping a $1 trillion omnibus spending bill from moving forward to win leverage in a separate fight over taxes, Republican lawmakers claimed Tuesday.

Reid said he believes Republicans are not being sincere in their desire to extend the President’s payroll tax holiday. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Democrats are holding the tax break hostage in their refusal to consider a provision addressing the Keystone XL pipeline, according to Roll Call.

“The Majority Leader signaled yesterday that he and the president are so determined to turn even the most bipartisan job-creating legislation into a political issue that he’ll ask his Members to hold off on signing the government-funding legislation they’ve already agreed to — just to hand the president what they view as a political victory this week,” McConnell said. “This isn’t just irresponsible, it’s reckless.”

If Congress does not approve the omnibus bill or a continuing resolution to providing funding for government by Friday, most of the government would shut down.