Why a Second Trump Presidency May Be More Radical Than His First

Why a Second Trump Presidency May Be More Radical Than His First

Charlie Savage, Jonathan Swan and Maggie Haberman – December 4, 2023

Donald J. Trump, wearing a blue suit and pointing to his right.
The extreme policy plans and ideas of Donald J. Trump and his advisers would have a greater prospect of becoming reality if he were to win a second term. Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

Donald Trump has long exhibited authoritarian impulses, but his policy operation is now more sophisticated, and the buffers to check him are weaker.

In the spring of 1989, the Chinese Communist Party used tanks and troops to crush a pro-democracy protest in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square. Most of the West, across traditional partisan lines, was aghast at the crackdown that killed at least hundreds of student activists. But one prominent American was impressed.

“When the students poured into Tiananmen Square, the Chinese government almost blew it,” Donald J. Trump said in an interview with Playboy magazine the year after the massacre. “Then they were vicious, they were horrible, but they put it down with strength. That shows you the power of strength. Our country is right now perceived as weak.”

It was a throwaway line in a wide-ranging interview, delivered to a journalist profiling a 43-year-old celebrity businessman who was not then a player in national politics or world affairs. But in light of what Mr. Trump has gone on to become, his exaltation of the ruthless crushing of democratic protesters is steeped in foreshadowing.

Mr. Trump’s violent and authoritarian rhetoric on the 2024 campaign trail has attracted growing alarm and comparisons to historical fascist dictators and contemporary populist strongmen. In recent weeks, he has dehumanized his adversaries as “vermin” who must be “rooted out,” declared that immigrants are “poisoning the blood of our country,” encouraged the shooting of shoplifters and suggested that the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Mark Milley, deserved to be executed for treason.

As he runs for president again facing four criminal prosecutions, Mr. Trump may seem more angry, desperate and dangerous to American-style democracy than in his first term. But the throughline that emerges is far more long-running: He has glorified political violence and spoken admiringly of autocrats for decades.

A row of people, mostly in suits, in front of a blue backdrop and behind a lectern at a news conference.
Fani Willis, the district attorney in Fulton County, Ga., brought one of the sets of indictments that Mr. Trump faces. Credit…Kenny Holston/The New York Times

As a presidential candidate in July 2016, he praised the former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein as having been “so good” at killing terrorists. Months after being inaugurated, he told the strongman leader of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte, that his brutal campaign of thousands of extrajudicial killings in the name of fighting drugs was “an unbelievable job.” And throughout his four years in the Oval Office, Mr. Trump blew through boundaries and violated democratic norms.

What would be different in a second Trump administration is not so much his character as his surroundings. Forces that somewhat contained his autocratic tendencies in his first term — staff members who saw their job as sometimes restraining him, a few congressional Republicans episodically willing to criticize or oppose him, a partisan balance on the Supreme Court that occasionally ruled against him — would all be weaker.

As a result, Mr. Trump’s and his advisers’ more extreme policy plans and ideas for a second term would have a greater prospect of becoming reality.

To be sure, some of what Mr. Trump and his allies are planning is in line with what any standard-issue Republican president would most likely do. For example, Mr. Trump would very likely roll back many of President Biden’s policies to curb carbon emissions and hasten the transition to electric cars. Such a reversal of various rules and policies would significantly weaken environmental protections, but much of the changes reflect routine and longstanding conservative skepticism of environmental regulations.

Other parts of Mr. Trump’s agenda, however, are aberrational. No U.S. president before him had toyed with withdrawing from NATO, the United States’ military alliance with Western democracies. He has said he would fundamentally re-evaluate “NATO’s purpose and NATO’s mission” in a second term.

He has said he would order the military to attack drug cartels in Mexico, which would violate international law unless its government consented. It most likely would not.

He would also use the military on domestic soil. While it is generally illegal to use troops for domestic law enforcement, the Insurrection Act allows exceptions. After some demonstrations against police violence in 2020 became riots, Mr. Trump had an order drafted to use troops to crack down on protesters in Washington, D.C., but didn’t sign it. He suggested at a rally in Iowa this year that he intends to unilaterally send troops into Democratic-run cities to enforce public order in general.

“You look at any Democrat-run state, and it’s just not the same — it doesn’t work,” Mr. Trump told the crowd, calling cities like New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco crime dens. “We cannot let it happen any longer. And one of the other things I’ll do — because you’re supposed to not be involved in that, you just have to be asked by the governor or the mayor to come in — the next time, I’m not waiting.”

Mr. Trump’s plans to purge undocumented immigrants include sweeping raids, huge detention camps, deportations on the scale of millions per year, stopping asylum, trying to end birthright citizenship for babies born on U.S. soil to undocumented parents and invoking the Insurrection Act near the southern border to also use troops as immigration agents.

A line of people, some carrying bags, walking through an airport.
Mr. Trump has sweeping plans to deal with undocumented immigrants. Credit…Verónica G. Cárdenas for The New York Times

Mr. Trump would seek to expand presidential power in myriad ways — concentrating greater authority over the executive branch in the White House, ending the independence of agencies Congress set up to operate outside of presidential control and reducing civil service protections to make it easier to fire and replace tens of thousands of government workers.

More than anything else, Mr. Trump’s vow to use the Justice Department to wreak vengeance against his adversaries is a naked challenge to democratic values. Building on how he tried to get prosecutors to go after his enemies while in office, it would end the post-Watergate norm of investigative independence from White House political control.

In all these efforts, Mr. Trump would be backed in a second term by a well-funded outside infrastructure. In 2016, conservative think tanks were bastions of George W. Bush-style Republicanism. But new ones run by Trump administration veterans have sprung up, and the venerable Heritage Foundation has refashioned itself to stay in step with Trumpism.

A coalition has been drawing up America First-style policy plans, nicknamed Project 2025. (Mr. Trump’s campaign has expressed appreciation but said only plans announced by him or his campaign count.) While some proposals under development in such places would advance longstanding Republican megadonor goals, such as curbing regulations on businesses, others are more tuned to Mr. Trump’s personal interests.

The Center for Renewing America, for example, has published a paper titled “The U.S. Justice Department Is Not Independent.” The paper was written by Jeffrey Clark, whom Mr. Trump nearly made acting attorney general to aid his attempt to subvert the election and is facing criminal charges in Georgia in connection with that effort.

Asked for comment, a spokesman for Mr. Trump did not address specifics but instead criticized The New York Times while calling Mr. Trump “strong on crime.”

Even running in 2016, Mr. Trump flouted democratic norms.

He falsely portrayed his loss in the Iowa caucuses as fraud and suggested he would treat the results of the general election as legitimate only if he won. He threatened to imprison Hillary Clinton, smeared Mexican immigrants as rapists and promised to bar Muslims from entering the United States. He offered to pay the legal bills of any supporters who beat up protesters at his rallies and stoked hatred against reporters covering his events.

In office, Mr. Trump refused to divest from his businesses, and people courting his favor booked expensive blocks of rooms in his hotels. Despite an anti-nepotism law, he gave White House jobs to his daughter and son-in-law. He used emergency power to spend more on a border wall than Congress authorized. His lawyers floated a pardon at his campaign chairman, whom Mr. Trump praised for not “flipping” as prosecutors tried unsuccessfully to get him to cooperate as a witness in the Russia inquiry; Mr. Trump later did pardon him.

A woman in a white dress with a red floral pattern and a man in a dark suit and white shirt exiting an airplane.
Mr. Trump’s daughter Ivanka Trump and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, received White House posts despite an anti-nepotism law. Credit…Al Drago for The New York Times

But some of the most potentially serious of his violations of norms fell short of fruition.

Mr. Trump pressured the Justice Department to prosecute his adversaries. The Justice Department opened several criminal investigations, from the scrutiny of former Secretary of State John Kerry and of the former F.B.I. director James B. Comey Jr. to the attempt by a special counsel, John Durham, to find a basis to charge Obama-era national security officials or Mrs. Clinton with crimes connected to the origins of the Russia investigation. But to Mr. Trump’s fury, prosecutors decided against bringing such charges.

And neither effort for which he was impeached succeeded. Mr. Trump tried to coerce Ukraine into opening a criminal investigation into Mr. Biden by withholding military aid, but it did not cooperate. Mr. Trump sought to subvert his 2020 election loss and stoked the Capitol riot, but Vice President Mike Pence and congressional majorities rejected his attempt to stay in power.

There is reason to believe various obstacles and bulwarks that limited Mr. Trump in his first term would be absent in a second one.

Some of what Mr. Trump tried to do was thwarted by incompetence and dysfunction among his initial team. But over four years, those who stayed with him learned to wield power more effectively. After courts blocked his first, haphazardly crafted travel ban, for example, his team developed a version that the Supreme Court allowed to take effect.

Four years of his appointments created an entrenched Republican supermajority on the Supreme Court that most likely would now side with him on some cases that he lost, such as the 5-to-4 decision in June 2020 that blocked him from ending a program that shields from deportation certain undocumented people who had been brought as children and grew up as Americans.

Republicans in Congress were often partners and enablers — working with him to confirm judges and cut corporate taxes, while performing scant oversight. But a few key congressional Republicans occasionally denounced his rhetoric or checked his more disruptive proposals.

In 2017, then-Senator Bob Corker rebuked Mr. Trump for making reckless threats toward North Korea on Twitter, and then-Senator John McCain provided the decisive vote against Mr. Trump’s push to rescind, with no replacement plan, a law that makes health insurance coverage widely available.

It is likely that Republicans in Congress would be even more pliable in any second Trump term. The party has become more inured to and even enthusiastic about Mr. Trump’s willingness to cross lines. And Mr. Trump has worn down, outlasted, intimidated into submission or driven out leading Republican lawmakers who have independent standing and demonstrated occasional willingness to oppose him.

Mr. McCain, who was the 2008 G.O.P. presidential nominee, died in 2018. Former Representative Liz Cheney, who voted to impeach Mr. Trump for inciting the Jan. 6, 2021, riot and helped lead the committee that investigated those events, lost her seat to a pro-Trump primary challenger. Senator Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican presidential nominee and the only G.O.P. senator who voted to convict Mr. Trump at his first impeachment trial, is retiring.

A row of people on a wooden dais, with American flags and a large screen behind them.
Representative Liz Cheney, center right, helped lead the investigation of the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol and later lost a primary challenge to a pro-Trump candidate. Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

Fear of violence by Trump supporters also enforces control. In recent books, both Mr. Romney and Ms. Cheney said that Republican colleagues, whom they did not name, told them they wanted to vote against Mr. Trump in the Jan. 6-related impeachment proceedings but did not do so out of fear for their and their families’ safety.

Perhaps the most important check on Mr. Trump’s presidency was internal administration resistance to some of his more extreme demands. A parade of his own former high-level appointees has since warned that he is unfit to be president, including a former White House chief of staff, John F. Kelly; former defense secretaries Jim Mattis and Mark T. Esper; the former national security adviser John R. Bolton; former Attorney General William P. Barr; and others.

Mr. Trump in turn has denounced them all as weak, stupid and disloyal. He has privately told those close to him that his biggest mistakes concerned the people he appointed, in particular his choices for attorney general. The advisers who have stuck with him are determined that if he wins a new term, there will be no officials who intentionally stymie his agenda.

In addition to developing policy papers, the coalition of think tanks run by people aligned with Mr. Trump has been compiling a database of thousands of vetted potential recruits to hand to a transition team if he wins the election. Similar efforts are underway by former senior Trump administration officials to prepare to stock the government with lawyers likely to find ways to bless radical White House ideas rather than raising legal objections.

Such staffing efforts would build on a shift in his final year as president. In 2020, Mr. Trump replaced advisers who had sought to check him and installed a young aide, John McEntee, to root out further officials deemed insufficiently loyal.

Depending on Senate elections, confirming particularly contentious nominees to important positions might be challenging. But another norm violation Mr. Trump gradually developed was making aggressive use of his power to temporarily fill vacancies with “acting” heads for positions that are supposed to undergo Senate confirmation.

In 2020, for example, Mr. Trump made Richard Grenell — a combative Trump ally and former ambassador to Germany — acting director of national intelligence. Two prior Trump-era intelligence leaders had angered Mr. Trump by defending an assessment that Russia had covertly tried to help his 2016 campaign and by informing Democratic leaders it was doing so again in 2020. Mr. Grenell instead won Mr. Trump’s praise by using the role to declassify sensitive materials that Republicans used to portray the Russia investigation as suspicious.

A man in a blue suit and white shirt at a lectern, in front of numerous American flags.
Richard Grenell was one of the acting heads named by Mr. Trump for positions that are supposed to undergo Senate confirmation. He became acting director of national intelligence. Credit…Pete Marovich for The New York Times

After Mr. Trump left office, there were many proposals to codify into law democratic norms he violated. Ideas included tightening limits on presidents’ use of emergency powers, requiring disclosure of their taxes, giving teeth to a constitutional ban on outside payments and making it harder to abuse their pardon power and authority over prosecutors.

In December 2021, when Democrats still controlled the House, it passed many such proposals as the Protecting Our Democracy Act. Every Republican but one — then-Representative Adam Kinzinger, who was retiring after having voted to impeach Mr. Trump after the Jan. 6 riot — voted against the bill, which died in the Senate.

The debate on the House floor largely played out on a premise that reduced its urgency: Mr. Trump was gone. Democrats argued for viewing the reforms as being about future presidents, while Republicans dismissed it as an unnecessary swipe at Mr. Trump.

“Donald Trump is — unfortunately — no longer president,” said Representative Rick Crawford, Republican of Arkansas. “Time to stop living in the past.”

Charlie Savage writes about national security and legal policy. An individual winner of the Pulitzer Prize for his reporting about presidential power, he is also the author of the books “Takeover” and “Power Wars.”

Jonathan Swan is a political reporter who focuses on campaigns and Congress. As a reporter for Axios, he won an Emmy Award for his 2020 interview of then-President Donald J. Trump, and the White House Correspondents’ Association’s Aldo Beckman Award for “overall excellence in White House coverage” in 2022. 

Maggie Haberman is a senior political correspondent and the author of “Confidence Man: The Making of Donald Trump and the Breaking of America.” She was part of a team that won a Pulitzer Prize in 2018 for reporting on President Trump’s advisers and their connections to Russia. 

America is failing Ukraine

Yahoo! Finance

America is failing Ukraine

Rick Newman, Senior Columnist – November 28, 2023


If you haven’t heard much about Russia’s war in Ukraine lately, it’s not because no news is good news. In fact, the war in Ukraine may be tipping in exactly the direction Russian President Vladimir Putin wants.

Ukraine failed to make major breakthroughs in its much-touted 2023 offensive, intended to break Russian lines in eastern and southern Ukraine and push Russian forces back toward the Crimean peninsula. Billions of dollars’ worth of American and European military hardware arrived too late, giving Russian forces months to build stout defenses Ukraine proved unable to penetrate, except for small breakthroughs. Exhaustion and winter mud have now effectively ended that offensive.

Isolationist Republicans who now control the US House of Representatives have so far scotched $61 billion in additional aid President Biden wants for Ukraine, and some weaponry designated for Ukraine is now instead headed to Israel as it wages war with the Hamas terrorist group. Nobody’s going soft in Russia, however, where Putin is boosting defense spending from 4% of GDP to 10%.

Despite devastating losses, Russia’s posture in Ukraine is getting stronger, with some analysts saying it is Ukraine that now needs to shift to defense. “Russia will be materially advantaged in 2024,” military analyst Michael Kofman of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace said on a recent podcast. “If the West just assumes it’s a stalemate and can reduce its commitment to Ukraine, Russian advantages will compound because Russia doesn’t accept the stalemate.”

A slim majority of Americans still support robust US aid for Ukraine, but opposition has grown during the last six months. Most Republicans now say the United States is doing too much for Ukraine, while only 44% of Independents and 14% of Democrats feel that way. A chief complaint among Ukraine objectors is that President Biden should be focusing more on homegrown problems such as inflation and the influx of undocumented migrants.

But that’s a false dichotomy, and the United States is getting something important for its spending on Ukraine: The long-term degradation of Russia’s military and political power. US military aid for Ukraine is only about 5% of the nation’s defense budget, which exists in part to counter and contain Russia.

Plus, the stakes in Ukraine could be far higher than many Americans appreciate. If Putin reverses his losses in Ukraine and ends up victorious, it would validate his view that the West doesn’t have the stomach for an ugly, drawn-out war, even if its own troops aren’t involved. Putin has ambitions beyond Ukraine, and if the West gives up on Ukraine it could meet Putin in Poland or the Baltic states, all members of the NATO military alliance.

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) summit in Minsk, Belarus, November 23, 2023.  Sputnik/Valery Sharifulin/Pool via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.
Ambitions beyond Ukraine: Russian President Vladimir Putin (Sputnik/Valery Sharifulin/Pool via REUTERS) (Sputnik Photo Agency / reuters)

Also watching closely is Chinese President Xi Jinping, who has ordered his nation’s military to be capable of invading and conquering Taiwan by 2027. A key factor in Xi’s decision to invade will undoubtedly be his estimate of US and allied resolve in their vows to help defend the breakaway democratic island. If the US-led alliance fails Ukraine, it would be rational for Xi to conclude they’d bail on Taiwan, too. And a Chinese invasion of Taiwan would be an economic earthquake that makes Putin’s energy war, waged in parallel with his military war in Ukraine, seem tame.

Ukraine isn’t losing. Early in the war, it repelled invading Russia forces from northern Ukraine, and later in 2022, from key strongholds in the northeast and southeast. Ingenious naval drones have chased Russian warships away from Ukraine’s Black Sea ports and allowed the export of grain and other products, an astonishing feat for a country that basically lacks a navy. Russia still controls 18% of the Ukraine, but has gained basically no ground all year.

Two Western assumptions about the war have collapsed, however. The first is that Western training, intelligence, and equipment would tilt the war in Ukraine’s favor. It hasn’t. The second is that Russia would continue the shambolic battlefield performance of the invasion’s early days, when poorly prepared units expecting a cakewalk instead met determined resistance that sent them reeling. But the Russians have learned to plug holes, adapt to Ukrainian innovations, and keep their war machine rumbling along.

Some analysts snickered when Russia made a deal to buy ammunition from hermetic North Korea, but that deal may provide Russia with more artillery shells in 2024 than Ukraine will get from its own allies. That’s a key edge in a war where artillery is one of the most important weapons. Russia showed another weakness by buying relatively low-tech attack drones from Iran. But now Russia is building those drones on its own, by the hundreds, and using them in attempts to overwhelm Ukraine’s air defenses in a likely effort to wreck the country’s energy infrastructure again this winter, as it tried to do last year.

China's president, Xi Jinping, speaks at a dinner with business leaders during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) conference Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2023, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
Watching closely? China’s president, Xi Jinping. (Jeff Chiu/AP Photo) (ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Ukraine pioneered some of the early innovations using armed drones to penetrate enemy lines. But Russia’s state machinery is now cranking out more drones than Ukraine can produce, and using them to deadly effect. As for battle tactics, Russia continues to expend soldiers in appalling human-wave attacks in which commanders seem to treat bodies as receptacles for bullets. There are sporadic protests in Russia of long deployments for troops and other concerns, but nothing approaching mass discontent with the war, suggesting Putin sees no constraint on sacrificing his own troops — another advantage over Ukraine, which husbands its human resources much more carefully.

Meanwhile, some Ukraine backers are beginning to say it’s time for Ukraine and its allies to change strategies.

“Kyiv’s war aims — the expulsion of Russian forces from Ukrainian land and the full restoration of its territorial integrity, including Crimea — remain legally and politically unassailable,” Richard Haass and Charles Kupchan wrote in Foreign Affairs recently. “But strategically they are out of reach, certainly for the near future and quite possibly beyond. [Ukraine’s] near-term priorities need to shift from attempting to liberate more territory to defending and repairing the more than 80 percent of the country that is still under its control.”

Haass and Kupchan argue that Ukraine should dig its own defensive fortifications, similar to Russia’s, and push for an enforceable cease-fire, while letting Russia worry about further territorial gains.

Since Russia invaded in February 2022, the Biden administration has armed Ukraine incrementally, first withholding and then providing key equipment such as armor, air defenses, and missiles that can reach far behind enemy lines. Biden has been careful not to push a nuclear-armed Russia over some perceived red line that would trigger a disproportionate Russian response. Europe has broadly followed the same pattern. But Russia never responded as more and more advanced Western weaponry arrived in Ukraine, prompting complaints that Washington has been too timid, and is not in it to win it.

“When I see this and ask the question whether the US administration wants Ukraine to win the war? The answer I see is ‘no,’” historian Phillips O’Brien of the University of St. Andrews wrote on Nov. 25.

So, the weapon tease continues. In October, the United States provided Ukraine with a small number of long-range ATACMS missiles capable of reaching Russian targets more than 100 miles away, threatening airfields, headquarters, and other crucial nodes. In the first strike using the new missiles, Ukraine reportedly destroyed more than a dozen Russian helicopters used to strafe Ukraine’s front-line troops. But there has been only one other known ATACMS firing since then. “This is a sign that the Biden Administration never wanted to give them in the first place, and is still strictly limiting what they will give Ukraine,” O’Brien wrote.

The next 12 months are likely to be momentous. Putin faces reelection in March, and while there’s no doubt he’ll win, Putin wants high turnout and a lopsided victory, so he may keep the war on simmer until then. Once the election’s over, Russia seems likely to mount a new mobilization effort to funnel more troops into Ukraine and press its manpower advantage. Sanctions are stifling the Russian economy, yet Russia is still selling plenty of oil, its main source of revenue, and finding most of the components it needs to boost defense production.

Putin also has a keen interest in next year’s US presidential election.

Republican front-runner Donald Trump is broadly viewed as a Putin patsy who would end the war in one day, as he says, by suspending US aid to Ukraine and giving Putin much or all of what he wants. “The event most likely to bring US backing for Ukraine to a juddering halt would be a victory by Donald Trump,” historian Lawrence Freedman of King’s College wrote on Nov. 23. “Putin might assume this to be such a positive possibility that it is one worth waiting for.”

No outcome is preordained.

Ukraine’s allies might yet rally and overcome the war fatigue that seems to settle more easily on allies far from the fighting than on those in the midst of it. In Washington, the new House Speaker, Mike Johnson, says he’s “confident” that Congress will provide more aid for Ukraine, though it may be far less than the $61 billion Biden wants. In Europe, several nations are ramping up weapons production to fill gaps the United States might leave. At some point in 2024, Ukraine seems likely to get Western fighter jets and finally be able to provide consistent air cover for infantry, a condition so fundamental to American military doctrine that the Pentagon would never consider fighting as the Ukrainians have been doing.

The Carnegie Endowment’s Kofman argues that the biggest American shortcoming in Ukraine isn’t some miracle weapon system, but the lack of advisers in-country who can understand how the plucky Ukrainians fight and tailor American aid to that. There’s a good reason Americans aren’t doing that: It conjures the specter of Vietnam, when advisers morphed into combatants and a slippery slope became a mudslide. It would be more fraught still if Americans ended up in direct combat with Russians.

But something needs to change if American resolves means anything, and it may start with America determining if it has that resolve in the first place.

Rick Newman is a senior columnist for Yahoo Finance

‘Just have 7 or 8’ – Putin calls on Russian women to become baby factories – video

The New Voice of Ukraine

‘Just have 7 or 8’ – Putin calls on Russian women to become baby factories – video

The New Voice of Ukraine – November 29, 2023

Putin did not specify how much money the Russians have to support so many children
Putin did not specify how much money the Russians have to support so many children

Russian society continues to gravitate towards a patriarchal system where women are expected to bear as many children as possible, while men are called upon to sacrifice their lives for their “tsar” in his wars.

One of the primary advocates of this regression in Russia is an FSB agent that currently heads the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC), Vladimir Gundyaev, better known as Kirill.

Read also: Putin sending more Russians to their deaths in Ukraine — UK Defense Secretary

Among other measures to tackle the demographic crisis and ensure a sufficient number of recruits for the military, he advocates for a complete ban on abortions, and the Russian State Duma is already preparing various restrictions to support this stance.

In turn, Russian dictator Vladimir Putin demands that citizens, despite the hardships prevailing in the country, have “seven or eight children.”

Read also: Students at medical schools in occupied territories being extorted to help wounded Russian soldiers

“In many of our nations, thank God, the tradition of a strong, multi-generational family is preserved, where four, five, or more children are raised,” Putin said.

“Let’s remember that in Russian families, our grandmothers and great-grandmothers had seven, eight, or more people. Let’s preserve and revive these wonderful traditions.”

Putin did not specify how such large families should be supported in a country facing significant economic and social challenges.

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Putin ready to sacrifice his people in Ukraine war, says retired Marine Corps Gen. Jones

The New Voice of Ukraine

Putin ready to sacrifice his people in Ukraine war, says retired Marine Corps Gen. Jones

The New Voice of Ukraine – November 28, 2023

Russian dictator Putin
Russian dictator Putin

Russian President Vladimir Putin is ready to sacrifice his people in the war against Ukraine, but the Russians are not capable of achieving his goals, former NATO supreme allied commander in Europe James L. Jones said in an interview with Radio Liberty on Nov. 26.

“I think one thing that was always clear is that the Russian leader was willing to commit whatever manpower he needed because they outnumber the Ukrainians in terms of population,” Jones said.

Read also: Hodges gives vision of goal of Ukraine’s counter-offensive, praises impact on Russian fleet

The ability of the Russians “to launch a major offensive (by drafting) young men and (throwing) them into the Russian Army, even though they’re fairly poorly trained” cannot be discounted, General Jones argued.

It is clear that the lessons of the first year of the war have taken root in both Russia and Ukraine, as both sides now know each other better – and know where their strengths and weaknesses are, the general said.

“It’s not surprising that both sides are trying to exploit that advantage,” Jones said.

Read also: Western generals and military analysts praise Ukrainian Armed Forces: 7 Quotes for Day of Defenders

“But I don’t see that the Russians are capable of achieving Putin’s goal of taking over the whole of Ukraine.”

Russia is preparing a ‘loyalty agreement’ requirement for foreigners


Russia is preparing a ‘loyalty agreement’ requirement for foreigners

Guy Faulconbridge and Lidia Kelly – November 29, 2023

Steam rises from chimneys of a heating power plan over the skyline of central Moscow

MOSCOW (Reuters) -Russia’s interior ministry has prepared draft legislation that would force foreigners to sign a “loyalty agreement” forbidding them from criticising official policy, discrediting Soviet military history, or contravening traditional family values.

Since President Vladimir Putin ordered troops into Ukraine in February 2022, Russia has introduced a slew of tough laws that outlaw discrediting the military, and courts have handed down long jail sentences to opposition activists.

As the 2024 presidential election approaches, Putin has cast the war as part of an existential battle with the West, saying he will defend Russia’s “sacred” civilisation from what he portrays as the West’s decadence.

The TASS state news agency reported on Wednesday that the draft legislation had been prepared by the interior ministry and would force all foreigners entering Russia to sign an agreement that essentially restricts what they can say in public.

A foreigner entering Russia would be prohibited from “interfering with the activities of public authorities of the Russian Federation, discrediting in any form the foreign and domestic state policy of the Russian Federation, public authorities and their officials”, TASS said.

The proposed agreement would include clauses about morality, family, “propaganda about non-traditional sexual relations” and history.

In particular, foreigners would be barred from “distorting the historical truth about the feat of the Soviet people in the defence of the Fatherland and its contribution to the victory over fascism”.

The Soviet Union is estimated to have lost at least 27 million people in World War Two and eventually pushed Nazi forces back to Berlin. Governments loyal to Moscow then took power across swathes of eastern Europe.

It was not clear from Russian media reports which foreigners the draft legislation – if it becomes law – would apply to or what the punishment would be for not adhering to the “agreement” which foreigners would have to sign upon entry to Russia.

The Kremlin declined to comment on the initiative.


Opposition activists and foreign diplomats in Moscow have for months been warning that the authorities are toughening their stance on any dissent ahead of the presidential election.

The Kremlin said earlier this month that some measure of censorship was needed as Russian troops were fighting in Ukraine, and cautioned those who wanted to criticise the military to think carefully before they did.

For the draft to become law, it has to be introduced to the State Duma, Russia’s lower house of parliament, and to go through committee review and several readings before being submitted to Putin for signing.

The chairman of the Duma’s CIS Affairs Committee said that the draft law was well advanced and was being worked on by the interior ministry, the government, the presidential administration as well as his committee.

“The draft law on the so-called ‘loyalty agreement’ with migrants entering the Russian Federation is in a high degree of readiness,” Leonid Kalashnikov told Interfax.

Kalashnikov said some details of the proposed law were still to be worked out. The interior ministry did not immediately respond to requests for a comment.

The law has not yet been introduced formally in parliament, according to Reuters searches of the Duma’s database.

Since the start of its war in Ukraine, Russia has imposed a number of restrictions on foreigners from what it calls “unfriendly countries” – meaning those that have imposed sanctions on it over its war in Ukraine.

(Reporting by Lidia Kelly in Melbourne and Guy Faulconbridge in Moscow; Editing by Andrew Osborn and Nick Macfie)

Jeff Bezos’ superyacht is in South Florida. It’s so big it has to anchor at a seaport

Miami Herald

Jeff Bezos’ superyacht is in South Florida. It’s so big it has to anchor at a seaport

Madeleine Marr – November 29, 2023

Motorsport Images/Michael Potts/Motorsport Images//Sipa USA

South Florida, meet The Koru.

That’s the name of Jeff Bezos’ colossal yacht that just dropped anchor in Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale. The word means “new beginnings” in Maori, the language spoken by indigenous Polynesians of mainland New Zealand, where the Amazon founder’s private jet was spotted in 2020.

How ginormous is this triple-masted behemoth? Roughly 400 feet long and 250 feet tall, it’s the size of a cruise ship. That ginormous.


The luxury schooner is so big it can’t even hang with other leisure ships; she reportedly is parked near two oil tankers. It has two pools, a hot tub, multiple lounges, dining areas and bars, and perhaps the pièce de résistance, a wooden figurehead on the prow rumored to be modeled after Bezos’ fiancée, Lauren Sanchez.


The 59-year-old billionaire shelled out about $500M for his snazzy new toy, which was built just for him in the Netherlands by Oceanco, the company that also constructed Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones’ superyacht, the Bravo Eugenia.

Get used to seeing The Koru around, especially if you set sail on a vacation. Bezos, a Palmetto High alum, lives back here full time now, after spending three decades in Seattle, busy reinventing the way the world shops.

Russia’s Putin, shown alongside Orthodox icon image, warns West against meddling


Russia’s Putin, shown alongside Orthodox icon image, warns West against meddling

Guy Faulconbridge – November 28, 2023

Russian President Putin attends a plenary session of the World Russian People’s Council, via video link in Sochi

MOSCOW (Reuters) – President Vladimir Putin, whose picture was shown between two giant images of an ancient Orthodox icon on Tuesday, warned the West ahead of elections in March 2024 that any foreign meddling in Russia would be considered an act of aggression.

Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 has led to the most serious confrontation between Moscow and the West since the 1962 Cuban missile crisis, prompting Putin to pivot towards China.

Since the invasion, Putin has changed the narrative of the war, casting it as an existential battle between sacred Russian civilisation and an arrogant West which he says is in cultural, political and economic decline.

Speaking to the World Russian People’s Council, led by the head of Russia’s Orthodox church, Patriarch Kirill, Putin’s picture was shown on a giant screen beside two copies of an ancient Orthodox icon. Such icons are stylised, often gilded, religious paintings considered sacred in Orthodox churches.

The Russian Orthodox Church is an ardent institutional supporter of Russia’s war in Ukraine, and Putin has espoused its conservatism as part of his vision for Russia’s national identity.

The Kremlin chief said that the West was gripped by racist Russophobia which casts Russians as a people of backward “slaves” and warned that the United States allegedly wanted to dismember and plunder Russia’s vast resources.

Putin, 71, cautioned that Russians themselves should remember the lessons of the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution, the civil war and the 1991 fall of the Soviet Union, which he said had allowed the division of the Russian people.

“I want to underscore: We consider any interference from outside, provocations aimed at causing inter-ethnic or inter-religious conflicts as aggressive acts against our country,” Putin said.

“I want to emphasise again that any attempt to sow inter-ethnic and inter-religious discord, to split our society is a betrayal, a crime against the whole of Russia. We will not allow anyone to divide Russia.”

The West casts Putin as a dictator who has led Russia into an imperial-style land grab that has weakened Russia and forged Ukrainian statehood, while uniting the West and handing NATO a post-Cold War mission.

Putin says that the West is now failing in Ukraine and that its attempt to defeat Russia has also failed.

The Kremlin chief claims Western attempts to isolate Russia with the toughest-ever sanctions imposed on a major economy were evidence for what he believed is historic Western racism against Russians.

The West, which denies it wants to rip Russia apart, has said it wants to help Ukraine defeat Russian forces on the battlefields of Ukraine, eject Russian soldiers and punish Putin for the war.

Putin thanked Russian businessmen for evading the West’s sanctions.

“It was by combining the efforts of the state and business that we thwarted the unprecedented economic aggression of the West: its sanctions blitzkrieg failed,” Putin said.

The presidential election campaign is due to start next month and Putin is expected to run, a step that would ensure at least another six years at the helm for the former KGB spy, who has been in power since 2012, and before that, from 2000 to 2008.

Patriarch Kirill said he would pray for Putin to continue his work for the “benefit” of Russia and its people.

(Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge; Editing by Bernadette Baum)

Putin accuses the West of trying to ‘dismember and plunder’ Russia in a ranting speech

Associated Press

Putin accuses the West of trying to ‘dismember and plunder’ Russia in a ranting speech

Associated Press – November 28, 2023

Russian President Vladimir Putin listens to VTB Bank Chairman Andrei Kostin during their meeting in Moscow, Russia, Monday, Nov. 27, 2023. (Mikhail Klimentyev, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP) (ASSOCIATED PRESS)

MOSCOW (AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday, in a ranting speech before a presidential election campaign, cast Moscow’s military action in Ukraine as an existential battle against purported attempts by the West to destroy Russia.

Putin, who has been in power for more than two decades and is the longest-serving Russian leader since Soviet dictator Josef Stalin, is expected to soon declare his intention to seek another six-year term in a presidential election next March.

“We are defending the security and well-being of our people, the highest, historical right to be Russia — a strong, independent power, a country-civilization,” Putin said, accusing the U.S. and its allies of trying to “dismember and plunder” Russia.

Ukraine and its Western allies have condemned the Russian action against Ukraine as an unprovoked act of aggression.

“We are now fighting for the freedom of not only Russia, but the whole world,” Putin said in a speech to participants of a meeting organized by the Russian Orthodox Church.

He denounced what he described as Western “Russophobia,” claiming that “our diversity and unity of cultures, traditions, languages, and ethnic groups simply don’t fit into the logic of Western racists and colonialists, into their cruel scheme of total depersonalization, disunity, suppression and exploitation.”

“If they can’t do it by force, they will try to sow strife,” he said, vowing to block “any outside interference, provocations with the aim of causing interethnic or interreligious conflicts as aggressive actions against our country, as an attempt to once again foment terrorism and extremism in Russia as a tool to fight us.”

Russian authorities have intensified their crackdown on dissent amid the fighting in Ukraine, arresting and imprisoning protesters and activists and silencing independent news outlets.

Putin said that the U.S.-dominated global order has become increasingly decrepit, declaring that “it is our country that is now at the forefront of creating a more equitable world order.”

“And I want to emphasize: without a sovereign, strong Russia, no lasting, stable world order is possible,” he said.

Russian authorities are restricting abortion access amid population and military recruiting concerns


Russian authorities are restricting abortion access amid population and military recruiting concerns

Katie Balevic – November 25, 2023

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks to Russian Orthodox Church Patriarch Kirill at Red Square in Moscow.
Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks to Russian Orthodox Church Patriarch Kirill at Red Square in Moscow in November 2023.Gavriil Grigorov/AP
  • Top Russian authorities are restricting abortion access to combat population stagnation.
  • The head of the Russian Church said it would boost the population like “waving a magic wand.”
  • Russian women’s groups say the policies are forcing women to birth unwanted children, per the BBC.

Top Russian authorities are restricting abortion access, calling the procedure a “disaster.”

It comes amid the state’s concerns over population growth, particularly where it impacts military recruiting, according to the BBC. Some one in three women claim to have gotten the procedure, and more than 500,000 pregnancies were terminated in 2022, the outlet reported.

Patriarch Kirill, the head of the highly influential Russian Orthodox Church, is leading the charge.

“As a member of the clergy, I testify that an abortion is a disaster and a tragedy for the woman [and] those close to her,” Kirill said in January, per the BBC.

The church has close ties to the Kremlin, and Kirill has been a key supporter of President Vladimir Putin.

While Russia’s population leans male for births up to 14 years old, females outpace males ages 15 and up. Over 65% of the population is aged 15 to 64, and there are 3 million more women than men in that age bracket, according to the 2023 data from the Central Intelligence Agency.

The total population of 144 million stands at 2 million less than it did in 2001 when Putin came to power, the BBC reported. In 2022, over 500,000 Russian pregnancies were terminated compared to 1.3 million live births, the outlet reported.

Putin sees it as “an acute problem,” per the BBC. Kirill says anti-abortion policies are the solution.

“The population can be increased as if by waving a magic wand: if we solve this problem and learn how to dissuade women from having abortions, statistics will go up immediately,” Kirill said, per the BBC.

The patriarch’s policies of dissuasion include doctors telling pregnant teenagers to keep their child “because they are practically from the same generation,” the BBC reported. If a woman is single, doctors are to tell the pregnant patient that “having a child is no obstacle to finding a life partner.”

Authorities are also restricting the sale of medication used in medical abortions – over the protests of women’s groups who say such moves will cause the number of illegal and botched abortions to surge.

“Officials, ultra-right politicians and the church are actively forcing women and girls to give birth to unwanted children,” the Urals Feminist Movement group said, according to the BBC.

Oil firms face ‘moment of truth’ in climate crisis: IEA


Oil firms face ‘moment of truth’ in climate crisis: IEA

AFP – November 23, 2023

The IEA says the oil and gas industry's engagement in clean energy has been 'minimal' (Pedro PARDO)
The IEA says the oil and gas industry’s engagement in clean energy has been ‘minimal’ (Pedro PARDO)

Oil and gas firms will face a crucial choice at UN climate talks next week between contributing to the climate crisis or embracing the clean energy transition, the International Energy Agency said Thursday.

The future of fossil fuels that play a massive role in climate change will be at the heart of COP28 negotiations in Dubai, as the world struggles to meet the goal of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

“The oil and gas industry is facing a moment of truth at COP28 in Dubai,” IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol said ahead of the November 30-December 12 conference.

“With the world suffering the impacts of a worsening climate crisis, continuing with business as usual is neither socially nor environmentally responsible,” he said.

In a report, the Paris-based energy watchdog said the industry’s engagement has been “minimal” so far, accounting for less than one percent of global clean energy investment.

It invested $20 billion in clean energy last year, or just 2.7 percent of its total capital spending.

To meet the Paris Agreement’s 1.5C target, the oil and gas sector must devote 50 percent of its investments on clean energy projects by 2030.

By comparison, $800 billion is invested in the oil and gas sector each year.

While investment in oil and gas supply is still needed, the figure is twice as high as what should be spent to respect the Paris goals, the agency said.

“Producers must choose between contributing to a deepening climate crisis or becoming part of the solution by embracing the shift to clean energy,” the IEA said.

– Oil sector stalling –

Oil and gas use would fall by 75 percent by 2050 if governments successfully pursued the 1.5C target and emissions from the energy sector reached net zero by then, the report said.

Instead of cutting fossil fuels outright, oil giants have touted several once-marginal technologies as promising solutions to cut emissions.

They include carbon capture and storage (CCS), direct air capture and carbon credit trading.

CCS prevents CO2 from entering the atmosphere by siphoning exhaust from power plants, while direct air capture pulls CO2 from thin air.

Both technologies have been demonstrated to work, but remain far from maturity and commercial scalability.

“The industry needs to commit to genuinely helping the world meet its energy needs and climate goals –- which means letting go of the illusion that implausibly large amounts of carbon capture are the solution,” Birol said.

The think tank Carbon Tracker said in September that oil and gas sector emission reduction pledges have stalled and in some cases gone backwards.

Oil major BP watered down a previous 2030 production cut target and Shell said its “liquids” output would remain stable — both angering climate campaigners.

– Tripling renewables capacity –

Campaigners have raised concerns over the influence of fossil fuel interests at the UN climate conference, noting that COP28 president Sultan Al Jaber is both UAE climate envoy and head of state-owned oil firm ADNOC.

Jaber has proposed tripling global renewable energy capacity and doubling the annual rate of energy efficiency improvements by 2030.

“The fossil fuel sector must make tough decisions now, and their choices will have consequences for decades to come,” Birol said.

“Clean energy progress will continue with or without oil and gas producers. However, the journey to net zero emissions will be more costly, and harder to navigate, if the sector is not on board.”