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Putin Cancels Live Coverage of the Oscars

Via Variety:

Russia’s state-controlled network Channel One has cancelled its live coverage of the Oscars in order to cover the crisis in Ukraine.

The channel was due to show the awards between 4 a.m. and 9 a.m. Moscow time on Monday, AFP reported Sunday.

In a statement, Channel One said: “Due to the large amount of news concerning the situation in Crimea and the Ukraine, and the audience’s rising interest in news programs, Channel One considers it impossible to air the Oscars ceremony for five hours, particularly in the morning.”

It added that the awards would be aired at midnight on Monday instead. . .

Putin plays hardball -- taking it directly to Obama's base? Cold. - Greg Pollowitz

Ukraine Calls Up its Military Reserves

Via France 24:

Ukraine has called up its military reserves and ordered its armed forces to be combat-ready as soon as possible, the country’s top security official said on Sunday – one day after Russian forces seized control of its Crimea region.

Andriy Parubiy, Secretary of the Security Council which groups top security and defense chiefs, said an order had also been given to the country’s Foreign Ministry to seek US and British support in guaranteeing the security of Ukraine.

Reading out the order after a meeting of the council, Parubiy said the Defense Ministry was to organize and conduct training with the necessary amount of people of military age.”. . .

The problem for Ukraine is that their armed forces are just no match for Russia. Via the New York Times today, "Ukraine Finds Its Forces Are Ill Equipped to Take Crimea Back From Russia."


Putin Asks Parliament to Send Troops to Crimea

Via CNN:

Russian President Vladimir Putin asked the upper house of parliament to send Russian troops into Ukraine’s Crimea region to normalize the political situation there, the Kremlin said Saturday. Due to the “extraordinary situation on Ukraine,” Putin said, there are threats to the lives of Russian citizens and Russian military personnel based in the Crimean region. . .

I wonder if President Obama regrets saying Putin slouches and looks like “the bored kid in the back of the classroom.” Or if the president regrets saying it's Putin's "shtick" to want to "look like the tough guy"?

Because Vladimir is now the bored guy at the back of parliament whose tough-guy shtick is to invade Ukraine.

- Greg Pollowitz

An Obamacare Surcharge on a Restaurant Bill? Yes We Can!

Via Local 10 Ft. Lauderdale:

Several restaurants in a Florida chain are asking customers to help foot the bill for the Affordable Care Act.

Diners at eight Gator’s Dockside casual eateries are finding a 1 percent ACA surcharge on their tabs, which comes to 15 cents on a typical $15 lunch tab. Signs on the door and at tables alert diners to the fee, which is also listed separately on the bill.

The Gator Group’s full-time hourly employees won’t actually receive health insurance until December. But the company said it implemented the surcharge now because of the compliance costs it’s facing ahead of the ACA’s employer mandate kicking in in 2015.

“The costs associated with ACA compliance could ultimately close our doors,” the sign reads. “Instead of raising prices on our products to generate the additional revenue needed to cover the costs of ACA compliance, certain Gator’s Dockside locations have implemented a 1% surcharge on all food and beverage purchases only.”

The company employs a total of 500 people, with about half working full time. Currently only management receives health benefits, but the restaurant will have to offer coverage to all full-timers once the mandate takes effect. The fee will allow the company to continue offering full-time hours to many workers, according to Sandra Clark, the group’s director of operations.

“I’m just trying to keep the employees I have that I’ve worked hard to train,” Clark said.

In addition to the costs of providing health care, the company hired one additional staffer and a consulting firm to make sure it is complying with the law and to assist in the additional tracking of workers’ hours and wages required by the health care law, said Clark.

Well, Justice Roberts did call it a tax. - Greg Pollowitz

52 Killed in Separate Baghdad Attacks

Via Reuters:

At least 52 people were killed Wednesday as a motorcycle rigged with explosives detonated in Baghdad’s Sadr City and militants targeted mostly Shi’ite neighborhoods around the country.

The motorcycle was parked in a second-hand bike market in the Shi’ite Muslim neighborhood that was filled with people, mostly young men, when it exploded late Thursday afternoon, killing 31 and wounding 51 others, Iraqi medical and police sources said.

Blood covered the ground, storefront windows were shattered and shoes and motorcycle parts were strewn around the market, according to a Reuters correspondent at the scene. Dozens of people were screaming for information about their relatives. . .


As John Kerry worries about CO2 emissions as a WMD, guys with rifles are killing people. - Greg Pollowitz

Not Surprising: Russia Moves to Secure its Black Sea Naval Base in Crimea

Via CBS News:

Russian military were blocking a Ukrainian military airport in the Black Sea port of Sevastopol in Crimea near the Russian naval base while unidentified armed men were patrolling another airport serving the regional capital, Ukraine’s new Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said on Friday.

No violence was reported, and flights continued to operate at the airport serving Simferopol, the regional capital. It was not immediately clear whether the airport in Sevastopol, owned by the Ukrainian defense ministry, was open but there are no scheduled services to the facility.

Ukraine’s State Border Guard Service said about 30 Russian paratroopers from the 810th brigade of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet had taken up position outside the Ukrainian Coast Guard base in the Sevastopol area. It said the paratroopers said they were there to prevent any weapons at the base from being seized by extremists. Russia’s defense ministry had no comment. . .

I suspect Russia looks at Ukraine as a domino that coiuld end up costing them their access to the Black Sea. - Greg Pollowitz

De Blasio Closes 3 NYC Charter Schools

Via New York Post:

Mayor de Blasio brought down the hammer Thursday on three charter schools operated by his nemesis Eva Moskowitz, leaving hundreds of kids without classrooms this fall.

“This has to be the saddest day for the Success Academy’s children, family, teachers, school leaders,” Moskowitz said after meeting with stunned charter parents in Harlem.

“Right now, our kids are being evicted. Evicted out of their school. It’s wrong and we need an explanation. You’re going to have to ask Mayor de Blasio what the motivations are for a decision that will hurt so many children now and, frankly, forever.”. . .

Lou Holtz once told a recruit who picked FSU over Notre Dame, "Son, you didn't make a four-year mistake. You made a 40-year mistake." Closing down these schools is a 40-year mistake for the kids. -

Canada: Muslim Barbers vs. Lesbians

Via Ezra Levant - Toronto Sun:

So a lesbian walks into a Muslim barbershop, and asks for a “businessmen’s haircut”.

It sounds like the beginning of a joke, but it really happened, and now a government agency called the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario will hear her complaint.

Faith McGregor is the lesbian who doesn’t like the girly cuts that they do at a salon. She wants the boy’s hairdo.

Omar Mahrouk is the owner of the Terminal Barber Shop in Toronto. He follows Shariah law, so he thinks women have cooties. As Mahrouk and the other barbers there say, they don’t believe in touching women other than their own wives.

But that’s what multiculturalism and unlimited immigration from illiberal countries means. A central pillar of many immigrant cultures is the second-class citizenship of women and gays.

So if we now believe in multiculturalism, and that our Canadian culture of tolerance isn’t any better than the Shariah culture of sex crimes and gender apartheid, who are we to complain when Omar Mahrouk takes us up on our promise that he can continue to practise his culture — lesbian haircuts be damned?

He’s not the one who passed the Multiculturalism Act, and invited in hundreds of thousands of immigrants with medieval attitudes towards women and gays and Jews, etc. We did.

Mahrouk’s view is illiberal. But in Canada we believe in property rights and freedom of association — and in this case, freedom of religion, too.

But McGregor ran to the Human Rights Tribunal and demanded that Mahrouk give her a haircut. . .

How stupid. If the barber shop sees no female customers, then why should they take on this woman just becasue she's a lesbian? There are plenty of men/women only salons all over the place. And Levan ends with this: "f I were a gay activist, I’d probably want to declare victory and shut down these human rights commissions right now. In five years time, it won’t be gay activists forcing themselves into Christian B&Bs. It’ll be Muslim activists vetoing the gay pride parade."

Yep. That's spot-on. Eventually we'll see lawsuits going the other way where gays are forced to provide services to people who hate them, which makes no sense to me.

- Greg Pollowitz

You Mad, Girl? UCLA Student Breaks Down Over Failed Israel Divestment Vote

Via Legal Insurrection:

Here is a video of how a student council member note taker, who apparently supported the resolution, reacted (the sound on the Google Hangout live feed (via Daily Bruin) was low, so turn up the volume). . .


Maybe she needs a refreshing SodaStream beverage to calm her down?


Girls Actor Adam Driver to Appear in Star Wars Sequel

Via Variety:

Adam Driver is ready to travel to a galaxy far, far, away.

Sources tell Variety that while no deal is done yet, the “Girls” actor is close to signing on to play the villain in J.J. Abrams’ “Star Wars: Episode VII.” Exact details are unknown, but the character is said to be in the vein of iconic “Star Wars” villain Darth Vader.

Driver, 30, is the first cast member to be revealed for Walt Disney Studios and Lucasfilm’s highly-anticipated “Star Wars” installment, which will open in theaters on Dec. 18, 2015.

The big-budget tentpole, directed by J.J. Abrams, is scheduled to shoot at London’s Pinewood Studios in April. Additional cast members will likely be announced in the next month. . .

Star Wars VII: Attack of the Loser Hipster - Greg Pollowitz

Not So Subtle a Hint: Putin Orders ‘Combat Readiness’ Drill Near Ukraine

Via The Globe and Mail:

With Ukraine in turmoil and struggling to form a new government, Russian President Vladimir Putin has put his country’s military on alert.

The provocative move came amid ferocious debate on Wednesday about the future of Crimea, a pro-Russian peninsula here on Ukraine’s Black Sea coast.

“In accordance with an order from the president of the Russian Federation, forces of the Western Military District were put on alert at 14:00 (5 a.m. EST) today,” Interfax quoted Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu as saying. . .

Gird your loins. . . -

Must See TV: Sen. Rubio Unloads on Sen. Harkin and Cuba

Via YouTube:

The following is Senator Rubio’s response to Senator Harkin and his recent trip to Cuba, the socialist paradise of the Caribbean:


- Greg Pollowitz

The Long, National Nightmare is Over: Meet the Waffle Taco

Via the Christian Science Monitor:

After over two years of market testing and limited launches, Taco Bell will start selling its new breakfast menu in 6,000 locations nationwide on March 27, the company announced Monday. The menu, as you might expect from Taco Bell at this point, is not made up of the usual breakfast fare, but the chain does have a very traditional competitor in its crosshairs as it fights to take a chunk out of the breakfast pie (er, quesadilla): McDonald’s, the comnpany that has dominated the fast food breakfast market for years. 

“Hey America. Wake Up. Live Mas,” Taco Bell’s press announcement of the breakfast rollout reads. “Taco Bell is launching the brand’s largest, most extensive menu since it first opened its doors more than 50 years ago. Taco Bell Breakfast is classic breakfast tastes (eggs, sausage, bacon and hash browns) with a Taco Bell twist – products uniquely wrapped up and portable for consumers’ ‘on-the-go’ lifestyle.”. . .

I'm sold. - Greg Pollowitz

Shocker: Bitcoin Economy on the Brink

Via Los Angeles Times:

Rumors about the possible collapse of leading Bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox are sending shock waves through the community that has embraced the virtual currency. 

Amid radio silence from the company, users are attempting to sort through conflicting signals that the company has shut down or that it is being acquired and possible relaunched. There was a debate over the authenticity of a document circulating that appears to be an internal Mt. Gox memo detailing how the company may have lost 744,000 Bitcoins in theft over several years.

A joint statement from several Bitcoin companies condemned Mt. Gox’s handling of its situation:

“This tragic violation of the trust of users of Mt. Gox was the result of one company’s actions and does not reflect the resilience or value of bitcoin and the digital currency industry. There are hundreds of trustworthy and responsible companies involved in bitcoin. These companies will continue to build the future of money by making bitcoin more secure and easy to use for consumers and merchants.  As with any new industry, there are certain bad actors that need to be weeded out, and that is what we are seeing today.”. . .

- Greg Pollowitz

Calls for Peace in Venezuela; Russia Calls Ukraine an ‘Armed Mutiny’

Via :

CNN: As Venezuelan opposition leaders push for demonstrators to stay in the streets, “he who tires, loses” is their mantra.

Lilian Tintori de Lopez, the wife of jailed Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez, held up a T-shirt showing the phrase before protesters Monday.

Beside her, opposition leader Henrique Capriles called for demonstrators to keep demanding change from the South American country’s government and described President Nicolas Maduro as “an error in the history of the country.”

Outrage at soaring crime and a tanking economy triggered protests earlier this month.

Washington Post Russian leaders expressed their distrust and dislike of Ukraine’s new government on Monday, saying it came to power through “armed mutiny,” just hours after the authorities here announced a nationwide manhunt for ousted president Viktor Yanukovych on charges of “mass murder of peaceful civilians.”

Russia questioned the legitimacy of Ukraine’s interim leadership, charging that it used a peace deal brokered by Europe to make a power grab and to suppress dissent in Russian-speaking regions through “terrorist methods.”


- Greg Pollowitz

Ukraine: Arrest Warrant Issued for Viktor Yanukovych

Via the Guardian:

The hunt is on for Ukraine’s fugitive president, Viktor Yanukovych, who is believed to be hiding in the pro-Russian Crimean peninsula. The country’s new acting government has issued a warrant for his arrest, accusing him of the mass murder of protesters who died in street clashes last week.

Ukraine’s acting interior minister, Arsen Avakhov, said on his official Facebook page on Monday that a warrant had been issued for the arrest of Yanukovych and several other officials for the “mass killing of civilians”. At least 82 people, primarily protesters, were killed in clashes in the capital, Kiev, last week.

After signing an agreement with the opposition, Yanukovych fled the capital for eastern Ukraine. Avakhov said he tried to fly out of Donetsk but was stopped, then went to Crimea. Yanukovych appeared in a video address on Saturday evening claiming he was still the president, but he has lost the support of most of his party and his main goal now will probably be to flee the country without being arrested. . .

- Greg Pollowitz

Ukraine has a New President; Raul Castro Voices Support for Maduro

Via the BBC and El Nuevo Dia:

BBC: Parliament in Ukraine has named its speaker as interim president

Oleksandr Turchynov takes charge following the dismissal of President Viktor Yanukovych on Saturday. Mr Turchynov told MPs they had until Tuesday to form a new unity government.

Parliament also voted to seize Mr Yanukovych’s luxury estate near Kiev, which protesters entered on Saturday.

The whereabouts of Mr Yanukovych, who described parliament’s decision to vote him out as a coup, remain unclear.

Thousands of opposition supporters remain in Independence Square, where the atmosphere is described as calm. . .

El Nuevo Dia (translated): Raul Castro supports Maduro 

President Raul Castro on Tuesday expressed support for President Nicolas Maduro of Venezuela and condemned the violence that has caused deaths and injuries in the country.

“We have expressed and ratified our full support for the Bolivarian revolution and Chavez, and teammate Nicolas Maduro, who wisely and firmly handled this complex crisis,” Castro said in a speech at the closing ceremony of the Central ruling Workers Cuba. . .

- Greg Pollowitz

Tags: Ukraine , Venezuela , Euromaiden

480,000 New Autoworker Jobs Under Obama. . .In Mexico

Via the Los Angeles Times:

The first Honda Fit rolled off the assembly line Friday at a new $800-million factory near Celaya, Mexico, a symbol of the growing might of the country’s auto industry.

Honda’s U.S. factories spit out hundreds of thousands of Accords and Civics each year. But when the automaker redesigned the Fit for North America, it turned to Mexico for an increasingly skilled workforce and favorable export rules.

Mexico already accounts for about 18% of North American auto production, but that’s expected to jump to 25% by 2020 as automakers pour billion of dollars into factories, said Joe Langley, an analyst at IHS Automotive. The nation has joined Germany, Japan and the U.S as one of the heavyweights of auto production, he said.

U.S. auto factories have also kicked into a higher gear since the recession as auto sales have rebounded. But Mexico’s plants are adding jobs and production even more quickly.

Mexico’s auto industry employment has soared 46% to about 580,000 jobs since 2009, according to the Brookings Institution. U.S. auto employment has gained 16% in the same period. . .

¡Adiós a nuestros amigos sindicales! - Greg Pollowitz

Venezuela: Protest Leader Lopez Tells Supporters, ‘I Ask You Not to Give Up, I Won’t’

Via Reuters:

Venezuela’s jailed protest leader urged supporters on Friday to keep demonstrating peacefully against President Nicolas Maduro despite violence that has killed at least six people and rocked the OPEC member nation.

“I’m fine, I ask you not to give up, I won’t,” Leopoldo Lopez told his followers in a handwritten note passed to his wife at Caracas’ Ramo Verde prison and then posted on the Internet.

The 42-year-old Lopez, a Harvard-educated economist and one of the few surviving relatives of Venezuelan independence hero Simon Bolivar, spearheaded protests against the socialist government that began at the start of February. . .

- Greg Pollowitz

Report: Yanukovych Has Left Kiev

Via AFP:

Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych has flown out of Kiev to visitUkraine’s second largest city Kharkiv, considered his eastern political base.

A US official said the embattled president made the trip to attend a meeting. Two key allies, parliamentary speaker Volodomyr Rybak and presidential administration chief Andrei Kluyev, were also reported to be on board the aircraft.

“Our information, and I talked to the foreign minister about half an hour ago, is that President Yanukovych has gone out to Kharkiv… to some kind of a meeting that is taking place out there, and that he has now arrived,” the official said. . .

- Greg Pollowitz


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