Headlines: 21st March, 2014

I don’t want to unnecessarily alarm anyone but when I tried to look up Russia on Google today morning, it asked if I meant USSR instead.

VP Joe Biden met with the leaders of Poland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania to assure them of US support against expansionist Russia. He told them Obama had drawn a clear red line at Putin moving troops beyond Crimea, which somehow seemed to make them more jittery.

Putin might also try to capture the whole of Ukraine following his chilling claim that Kiev is the “mother” of all Russian cities. So if he does invade and annex Kiev with brute force, it would literally make Putin the baddest motherf***er on the planet.

Russia has gotten the sternest criticism for unilaterally marching troops beyond its borders from the US, which only has a modest 275,000 active-duty military troops stationed in 150 countries around the world at the moment. Moral high ground FTW.

The US and the EU have targeted Putin’s inner circle and placed travel and bank account freezes on 33 of his close friends. Bizarrely, this will affect the outcome of the English Premier League more than the Russian economy if Jose Mourinho can’t buy Diego Costa.

France’s Hollande had strong words as well – ‘Borders cannot be redrawn and a region can’t pass from one nation to another without a response’. A shame Palestinians in the West Bank have no access to TV or the Internet. They would have really enjoyed this joke.

John McCain fired a zinger too, calling Russia a ‘gas station masquerading as a country’. Very funny. But I doubt if anyone in the Kremlin is laughing. The US has the annoying tendency to invade any country which fits that description (see Iraq, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Iran).

Russia’s Foreign Ministry reacted to the sanctions vowing to ‘respond with equal force to every aggressive thrust’. If it’s ok with you all, I’ll take this one. THAT’S WHAT SHE SAID! THAT’S WHAT SHE SAID!  THAT’S WHAT SHE SAID!

So yeah, Putin has hit back at the US with sanctions of his own banning several US officials from travelling to Russia. This is sadly not expected to sting as much given that Anna Kournikova and Maria Sharapova are already in America.

In a sanctions tit-for-tat, the US said it will ban the works of Russian writers Dostoevsky, Chekov and Tolstoy in its colleges and universities. Shortly after, #LoveYouPutin was trending on Twitter.

Canada is chipping in. Many provinces are considering removing all Russian vodka off store shelves. In the middle of the worst winter in decades. Really? Memo to Canada – the way sanctions work is it should hurt the other country more than it hurts your own people.

This week, the cast of the hit TV show ‘Lost’ had a reunion. However, all MH370 questions were barred. Several cast members wanted to share their thoughts on the police brutality on hapless Venezuelan protestors, but all journalists had left the building by then.

Donald Trump has sent out an obnoxious tweet questioning if the US should be spending money tracking down a plane with mostly Chinese passengers. It’s at times like this that Turkey’s Twitter ban, despite its blatant political motives, comes across as a public service.

The Justin Bieber deposition. The lawyer who questioned Bieber is under fire for repeatedly asking Biebs if he was sleeping with Selena Gomez or not. Bear in mind that the 40 million teenage girls following Biebs on Twitter (who can vote in 2016) are more interested in the answer to that question than they are in the new Fed Chairman’s views on monetary policy.

Meanwhile, another teenager yesterday sneaked past security at the new WTC building, got all the way to the top – just to take a bunch of selfies. It was called a ‘massive missed opportunity’. No, not by Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. By Samsung’s marketing department.

India elections update. The Congress party wanted Sachin Tendulkar to run against Narendra Modi in Varanasi. Sachin refused saying he doesn’t openly support any political party. This, incidentally, marks the first time Sachin has ever turned down an endorsement deal.

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