Daily Dispatches
Russian President Vladimir Putin
Associated Press/Photo by Mikhail Klimentyev
Russian President Vladimir Putin

Midday Roundup: Deconstructing Putin’s scary statement on Kiev


Look out, Kiev. Russian President Vladimir Putin is so misunderstood. A Kremlin spokesman said today that EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso took Putin’s recent comments about the fighting in Ukraine out of context. According to Barroso, as quoted in an Italian newspaper, Putin told him, “If I want to, I can take Kiev in two weeks.” The Kremlin says those comments had a completely different meaning when Putin said them. Russian officials also accuse Barroso of a breach of confidentiality for sharing the contents of a private conversation. Did Putin really expect him to stay quiet about the possible expansion of the Russian “incursion” into Ukraine? Despite what appears to be a direct threat, European leaders remain flummoxed about what to do with Putin. They can’t live with him, but they just can’t live without his natural gas.

Drone attack. U.S. drones attacked a militant stronghold in Somalia on Monday, reportedly in an attempt to kill the man who allegedly orchestrated the attack against the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya, last year. According to Somali officials, Mukhtar Abu Zubeyr and seven other al-Shabaab leaders died in the bombing near the seaside city of Barawe. U.S. officials are still trying to confirm Zubeyr’s death. Last year, Navy SEALs conducted an operation in the same area to try to capture Abdulkadir Mohamed Abdulkadir, a senior al-Shabaab commander. After engaging with militants in a firefight, the SEALs withdrew because the risk to civilians was too great. U.S. officials then offered a $3 million reward for any information leading to his arrest or capture.

Let our people go. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry issued a statement Friday calling on the Iranian government to free three U.S. citizens jailed there. The detainees include Pastor Saeed Abedini, who was jailed for his involvement with the house church movement in Iran. He will have been imprisoned for two years on Sept. 26. Amir Hekmati was convicted on false espionage charges and has been jailed for three years. Jason Rezaian, a reporter for The Washington Post, is being detained in an unknown location, according to the State Department. “The United States remains committed to returning all of them to their families, friends, and loved ones,” Kerry said. He also called on Iranian authorities to help U.S. officials locate another American citizen, Robert Levinson, who went missing in Iran in 2007.

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Prison break. A weak spot in a fence at a Nashville, Tenn., youth detention center allowed 32 residents to escape Monday night. Seventeen teenagers between the ages of 14 and 17 are still at large. Youth held at the center have committed at least three felonies. Officials do not know whether the escape was planned beforehand or happened spontaneously. The teens snuck under the fence when a large group went together into the yard shortly after a shift change. The facility houses 78 teenage offenders.

Who’s in control here? A militant group known as Dawn of Libya has taken control of the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli a day after video was posted online showing militants splashing in the swimming pool at the nearby residential compound. U.S. diplomats abandoned the post earlier this year as fighting in the country escalated. U.S. officials say they believe both buildings are now secure. A leader with Dawn of Libya said his group is guarding the facility in an attempt to show it is capable of providing a safe environment for the officials to return. He did acknowledge that another militia group had taken up residence before his troops arrived. U.S. officials say the buildings do not appear to have been looted.

New man on Wall Street. Former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, who lost the GOP primary to an upstart, tea party challenger and left Congress months before his term was up, has a new job. Cantor is joining boutique Wall Street investment firm Moelis & Company as vice chairman and a director on its board. He’ll make $400,000 in base salary, plus $400,000 in a separate cash payout and $1 million in restricted stock—a seemingly good salve for the wounds Cantor suffered in his unexpected loss to college professor David Brat.

Leigh Jones
Leigh Jones

Leigh lives in Houston with her husband and daughter. She is the managing editor of WORLD's website.


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