Vladimir Putin’s Russia is a creaking ship. Don’t fall for the propaganda | Marie Mendras

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The united front seen during the World Cup is an illusion. Putin fears the convergence of grassroots and an elite opposition

This summer, the World Cup created the illusion Russia was a well-run country with a contented population. But now the sports pageantry is over, Russians are back to the grey reality of everyday life, and a dire lack of prospects. And the idea of the nation being united around Vladimir Putin is fiction.

Russia is often presented in binary terms: as a country divided between Putinists and liberals, rich and poor, rural folks and Moscovites, “slavophiles” and westerners. The Kremlin’s narrative hinges on the notion of a “patriotic” Russia constantly overcoming a minuscule opposition, depicted as a “fifth column” that is activated or manipulated by external forces. It is tempting for foreign observers to adopt such a black-and-white vision, in which the leader is dominant and admired while his doubters are an exception.

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Gene-edited plants and animals are GM foods, EU court rules

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Landmark decision means gene-edited plants and animals will be regulated under the same rules as genetically modified organisms

Plants and animals created by innovative gene-editing technology have been genetically modified and should be regulated as such, the EU’s top court has ruled.

The landmark decision ends 10 years of debate in Europe about what is – and is not – a GM food, with a victory for environmentalists, and a bitter blow to Europe’s biotech industry.

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Actor Brigitte Nielsen defends having baby at 54, saying: ‘It’s my life’

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Older fathers don’t receive the sort of criticism I’ve had to endure, she tells magazine

The model and actor Brigitte Nielsen has said she understands why people think she is too old to have a baby at 54, but highlighted that older fathers never receive the same criticism.

Her daughter Frida – her fifth child, and her first with 39-year-old husband Mattia Dessi was born in June. Nielsen, now 55, has also revealed she started having IVF treatment 14 years ago in the hope of becoming pregnant.

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‘Why does anyone need a gun?’: Toronto shooting prompts calls for handgun ban

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As city reels from attack that left three dead and 13 injured, mayor leads push to ban sale of handguns and ammunition

Officials in Toronto are pushing for a ban on the sale of handguns and handgun ammunition, as Canada’s biggest city continues to reel from a shooting that left three people dead and injured 13 others.

“Why does anyone in this city need to have a gun at all?” John Tory, Toronto’s mayor, said on Tuesday as the city council passed a motion to urge the federal and provincial government to enact the ban.

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Breaking News: lawyer releases tape of Trump & Cohen talking model payoff

(CNN) Presidential candidate Donald Trump is heard on tape discussing with his attorney Michael Cohen how they would buy the rights to a Playboy model’s story about an alleged affair Trump had with her years earlier, according to the audio recording of the conversation aired exclusively on CNN’s “Cuomo Prime Time.”

The recording offers the public a glimpse at the confidential discussions between Trump and Cohen, and it confirms the man who now occupies the Oval Office had contemporaneous knowledge of a proposal to buy the rights to the story of Karen McDougal, a woman who has alleged she had an extramarital affair with Trump about a decade ago.

Cohen told Trump about his plans to set up a company and finance the purchase of the rights from American Media, which publishes the National Enquirer.

“I need to open up a company for the transfer of all of that info regarding our friend David,” Cohen said in the recording, likely a reference to American Media head David Pecker.

Trump interrupts Cohen asking, “What financing?” according to the recording. When Cohen tells Trump, “We’ll have to pay.” Trump is heard saying “pay with cash” but the audio is muddled and it’s unclear whether he suggests paying with cash or not paying. Cohen says, “no, no” but it is not clear what is said next.

No payment was ever made from Trump, Rudy Giuliani, the President’s attorney, has said. Giuliani has previously acknowledged that the recorded discussion related to the buying the story rights.

The recording, which was provided to CNN by Cohen’s attorney Lanny Davis, was made in September 2016.

“What is this about? This is about honesty versus false disparagement of Michael Cohen. Why is Giuliani out falsely disparaging Michael Cohen — because they fear him,” Davis said on “Cuomo Prime Time.”

“What do they fear, Chris? Why am I representing him? They fear that he has the truth about Donald Trump. He will someday speak the truth about Donald Trump. The truth is that when Donald Trump said ‘cash,’ which Rudy Giuliani knows that only drug dealers and mobsters talk about cash, it was, you heard Michael Cohen … say what? ‘No, no, no, no.’”

Court filings said federal prosecutors have obtained 12 audio recordings from the FBI raids on Cohen earlier this year. CNN previously reported that Trump’s lawyers waived attorney-client privilege on the President’s behalf regarding the recording involving him personally.

The discussion relates to whether Trump should buy the rights of the story from American Media, which paid McDougal $150,000 in August 2016 for her story about an alleged 10 month affair with Trump. The story was never published by AMI.

In addition to discussing the McDougal payment, Trump and Cohen are overheard running through a list of potential legal issues, including contesting a New York Times request to unseal divorce records from Trump’s first wife Ivana as well as more mundane matters such as polling numbers and Trump surrogate Pastor Mark Burns.

Wednesday Open Thread | Why the SpyGirl Scandal is Simple

There are those who say that the ‘Collusion’ between the Trump Campaign and Russia is ‘too hard ‘ to explain.

It’s not Collusion.

It’s Conspiracy Against the United States.

And, it’s not complicated at all. But, I’ll humor you for the moment.

Spy Girl, aka Marina Butina, isn’t complicated AT ALL.

It involves:

a) A Russian Spy

b) Spreading Russian Money

c) To buy Russian Influence

Across the Conservative Spectrum…

NRA

Evangelicals

Right-Wing Politicians of All Stripes

She was 29 years old. And, nobody asked how a 29 year old got access to the kind of money that she was throwing around?

 

Really?

Seriously?

UH HUH

UH HUH

A gun’s right’s movement in RUSSIA?

IN WHAT WORLD, did that even make sense, knowing what we know about Putin?

Never EVER passed the smell test. Stevie Wonder could see that it was nothing but a FRONT to launder money.

So, while the Special Counsel’s indictments have been full of Russian names….

SPY GIRL?

Oh, sweetheart….

The names that will be coming up with her are going to be a long list of AMERICANS.

AM Joy 7/21/18
Indicted Russian national Maria Butina allegedly sought to…

Maria Butina, a Russian gun activist with ties to the NRA and the religious right, has been charged with being a foreign agent for her alleged role in a Russian campaign to influence American politics. Joy Reid and her panel discuss.

Accused Russian agent Maria Butina met with US Treasury, Fed officials – meetings were arranged by Center for the National Interest, a DC think tank that also hosted Trump at an April 2016 event at the Mayflower Hotel in DC attended by Sergei Kislyak https://t.co/NSRqYd6eB9

— Wendy Siegelman (@WendySiegelman) July 22, 2018

There’s a reason why the GOP has abdicated it’s role as the Legislative Branch…because they are all caught up in Russia too. While we don’t know about the 2016 Elections, we know, that if it’s detwemined that Russia ILLEGALLY FUNNELED MONEY to the NRA….that means that whoever received that money -GOT ILLEGAL MONIES.

Well, we talk about the NRA and donations…

THAT’S THE ENTIRETY OF THE GOP.

So, they are ALL ON THE HOOK.

So glad I wrote this three weeks ago, heh.https://t.co/pd6YJHBx7z

— Grant Stern (@grantstern) July 22, 2018

I can confirm now that last yr Treasury”s financial crimes unit collected voluminous suspicious activity reports from banks on Maria Butina, Alexander Torshin, Paul Erickson, Bridges LLC & Investing With Dignity

The SARs were shared w/FBI, Mueller, SSCI
https://t.co/XhIp3dCnvP

— Jason Leopold (@JasonLeopold) July 22, 2018

NEW: How did alleged Russian agent Maria Butina make inroads with conservative groups for so many years?

She learned how to speak their language – guns, freedom, God, America.

https://t.co/m8B2SZ4oj8

— Vera Bergengruen (@VeraMBergen) July 19, 2018

Are Republicans Covering for Trump, or for Themselves?

If the NRA was compromised by Russia — as appears to be the case — the whole Republican Party is in big trouble. https://t.co/mRn948VZyg

— Jon Cooper 🌊 (@joncoopertweets) July 21, 2018

‘A Confession,’ by Tunisian Poet Sami Messelmani

Translator Sihem Hammouda shares a favorite poem by Tunisian poet Sami Messelmani

By Sihem Hammouda

Sami Messelmani, who writes mostly prose poetry, is one of Tunisia’s most distinguished poets in Tunisia. In addition to being a poet, he is also a teacher and a critic. One of his best-known works is Pillows of an Exhausted Wave.

A Confession

By Sami Messelmani

Translated by Sihem Hammouda

I realize that many

do not acknowledge me,

do not see me as a rose-seller:

one who arranges lilies

or serves up carnations

perhaps because I am too calm,

like a cold fire,

and I don’t chase the

resounding booms,

nor do I have I great desire

to lie down

like a face, its features erased

I will not be angered by their disregard,

everything they say,

will be but stray arrows

eternally drowning

in false lights

I do not care about the limelight,

their bright lights

infect me with an intellectual insomnia

shrinking my soul,

and blinding my eyes,

which

have not yet become accustomed to tapping tambourines.

Sihem Hammouda is a Tunisian writer and translator who works between English, Arabic, and French. She also works as a teacher.