A series of Friday top-level exchanges between Russia and the United States has little chance of yielding significant progress on any key point of contention between the sides, including an entrenched dispute over Washington’s missile defense plans for Europe, U.S. government personnel told Reuters.
A lack of progress on the antimissile standoff fed into President Obama’s decision this week to back out of a planned September meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Moscow has demanded a legally enforceable guarantee that sophisticated U.S. interceptors slated for deployment in Europe would never be aimed at Russian strategic missiles. The Obama administration has spurned that request, saying it does not have the authority to make such a promise.
Still, U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Secretary of State John Kerry will mount a new effort to clear up Moscow’s worries about the antimissile plans when they meet with their Russian counterparts on Friday, an U.S. government insider said.
The talks were under way as of Friday morning, the Associated Press reported. A morning exchange between Hagel and Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu was to be followed by a mid-day gathering of all four officials and an afternoon meeting between Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, AP reported separately on Friday.
One of Lavrov’s deputies said “the American ideas [on missile defense] and our concerns seem to exist in different dimensions, and we have so far been unable to find where they intersect,” Interfax reported on Wednesday.
“Without an agreement on antimissile defense which will dispel all our concerns, any further steps toward nuclear disarmament are impossible,” Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov added in remarks quoted on Wednesday by the Xinhua News Agency.
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Foreign Policy takes a look at the future of mining the estimated "100,000 near-Earth objects—including asteroids and comets—in the neighborhood of our planet. Some of these NEOs, as they’re called, are small. Others are substantial and potentially packed full of water and various important minerals, such as nickel, cobalt, and iron. One day, advocates believe, those objects will be tapped by variations on the equipment used in the coal mines of Kentucky or in the diamond mines of Africa. And for immense gain: According to industry experts, the contents of a single asteroid could be worth trillions of dollars." But the technology to get us there is only the first step. Experts say "a multinational body might emerge" to manage rights to NEOs, as well as a body of law, including an international court.
Not to be outdone by Jeffrey Goldberg's recent piece in The Atlantic about President Obama's foreign policy, the New York Times Magazine checks in with a longread on the president's economic legacy. In it, Obama is cognizant that the economic reality--73 straight months of growth--isn't matched by public perceptions. Some of that, he says, is due to a constant drumbeat from the right that "that denies any progress." But he also accepts some blame himself. “I mean, the truth of the matter is that if we had been able to more effectively communicate all the steps we had taken to the swing voter,” he said, “then we might have maintained a majority in the House or the Senate.”
Ronald Reagan's children and political allies took to the media and Twitter this week to chide funnyman Will Ferrell for his plans to play a dementia-addled Reagan in his second term in a new comedy entitled Reagan. In an open letter, Reagan's daughter Patti Davis tells Ferrell, who's also a producer on the movie, “Perhaps for your comedy you would like to visit some dementia facilities. I have—I didn’t find anything comedic there, and my hope would be that if you’re a decent human being, you wouldn’t either.” Michael Reagan, the president's son, tweeted, "What an Outrag....Alzheimers is not joke...It kills..You should be ashamed all of you." And former Rep. Joe Walsh called it an example of "Hollywood taking a shot at conservatives again."
In a sign that she’s ready to put a longer-than-expected primary battle behind her, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (D) is no longer going on the air in upcoming primary states. “Team Clinton hasn’t spent a single cent in … California, Indiana, Kentucky, Oregon and West Virginia, while” Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT) “campaign has spent a little more than $1 million in those same states.” Meanwhile, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Sanders’ "lone backer in the Senate, said the candidate should end his presidential campaign if he’s losing to Hillary Clinton after the primary season concludes in June, breaking sharply with the candidate who is vowing to take his insurgent bid to the party convention in Philadelphia.”
The team behind the bestselling "Clinton Cash"—author Peter Schweizer and Breitbart's Stephen Bannon—is turning the book into a movie that will have its U.S. premiere just before the Democratic National Convention this summer. The film will get its global debut "next month in Cannes, France, during the Cannes Film Festival. (The movie is not a part of the festival, but will be shown at a screening arranged for distributors)." Bloomberg has a trailer up, pointing out that it's "less Ken Burns than Jerry Bruckheimer, featuring blood-drenched money, radical madrassas, and ominous footage of the Clintons."