The Obama administration sent Russia a warning shot Thursday, saying it will target individuals and groups tied to the crisis in Ukraine with financial sanctions and visa bans.
The State Department will block visas needed to travel to the U.S. for Ukrainian and Russian individuals who it believes have threatened the “sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine,” White House press secretary Jay Carney said.
The visa bans are in addition to the 20 Ukrainian officials targeted by the department for the government’s crackdown against demonstrators last month.
President Obama also signed an executive order that will allow financial sanctions against individuals and officials who have undermined the Ukrainian government, violated the country’s territorial integrity, misused state funds, or tried to take control of part of the country without the approval of the government in Kiev, a senior administration official said.
The official added that these sanctions can target Ukrainian and Russian individuals, or those who have provided support or are controlled by them.
Carney called the executive order “a flexible tool that will allow us to sanction those who are most directly involved in destabilizing Ukraine, including the military intervention in Crimea.”
And though no individuals have yet been hit with the sanctions or a visa ban, another senior administration official stressed, “This authority is now in place. and we will be looking to use it as appropriate.”
The State Department can also revoke visas if a targeted individual already has one.
“We’ve been preparing very quickly this executive order; we believe that there need to be costs and consequences for Russia for what they’ve already done in Crimea,” a senior administration official said, adding that individuals involved in the recent tensions should be “on notice.”
Thursday morning’s announcement is the latest move by the U.S. government to try to isolate Russia for its incursion into Crimea. The Pentagon announced earlier this week that it suspended all direct military involvement with Russia.
How Thursday’s decision will impact Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision making is murky at best. As a senior administration official said earlier this week, “We in this administration have made it a practice to not look into Vladimir Putin’s soul.”
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Before we get to the specifics of this exposé about escorts working the Iowa and New Hampshire primary crowds, let’s get three things out of the way: 1.) It’s from Cosmopolitan; 2.) most of the women quoted use fake (if colorful) names; and 3.) again, it’s from Cosmopolitan. That said, here’s what we learned:
- Business was booming: one escort who says she typically gets two inquiries a weekend got 15 requests in the pre-primary weekend.
- Their primary season clientele is a bit older than normal—”40s through mid-60s, compared with mostly twentysomething regulars” and “they’ve clearly done this before.”
- They seemed more nervous than other clients, because “the stakes are higher when you’re working for a possible future president” but “all practiced impeccable manners.”
- One escort “typically enjoy[s] the company of Democrats more, just because I feel like our views line up a lot more.”
No matter where you stand on mandating companies to include a backdoor in encryption technologies, it doesn’t make sense to allow that decision to be made on a state level. “The problem with state-level legislation of this nature is that it manages to be both wildly impractical and entirely unenforceable,” writes Brian Barrett at Wired. There is a solution to this problem. “California Congressman Ted Lieu has introduced the ‘Ensuring National Constitutional Rights for Your Private Telecommunications Act of 2016,’ which we’ll call ENCRYPT. It’s a short, straightforward bill with a simple aim: to preempt states from attempting to implement their own anti-encryption policies at a state level.”
Much has been made of David Brooks’s recent New York Times column, in which confesses to missing already the civility and humanity of Barack Obama, compared to who might take his place. In NewYorker.com, Jeffrey Frank reminds us how critical such attributes are to foreign policy. “It’s hard to imagine Kennedy so casually referring to the leader of Russia as a gangster or a thug. For that matter, it’s hard to imagine any president comparing the Russian leader to Hitler [as] Hillary Clinton did at a private fund-raiser. … Kennedy, who always worried that miscalculation could lead to war, paid close attention to the language of diplomacy.”
The New Covenant. The Third Way. The Democratic Leadership Council style. Call it what you will, but whatever centrist triangulation Bill Clinton embraced in 1992, Hillary Clinton wants no part of it in 2016. Writing for Bloomberg, Sasha Issenberg and Margaret Talev explore how Hillary’s campaign has “diverged pointedly” from what made Bill so successful: “For Hillary to survive, Clintonism had to die.” Bill’s positions in 1992—from capital punishment to free trade—“represented a carefully calibrated diversion from the liberal orthodoxy of the previous decade.” But in New Hampshire, Hillary “worked to juggle nostalgia for past Clinton primary campaigns in the state with the fact that the Bill of 1992 or the Hillary of 2008 would likely be a marginal figure within today’s Democratic politics.”
At first, “it was pleasant” to see Trevor Noah “smiling away and deeply dimpling in the Stewart seat, the seat that had lately grown gray hairs,” writes The Atlantic‘s James Parker in assessing the new host of the once-indispensable Daily Show. But where Jon Stewart was a heavyweight, Noah is “a very able lightweight, [who] needs time too. But he won’t get any. As a culture, we’re not about to nurture this talent, to give it room to grow. Our patience was exhausted long ago, by some other guy. We’re going to pass judgment and move on. There’s a reason Simon Cowell is so rich. Impress us today or get thee hence. So it comes to this: It’s now or never, Trevor.”