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Report: Putin hails Pussy Riot jail terms

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Russian President Vladimir Putin hailed the two-year jail sentences against three members of feminist punk band Pussy Riot for staging a performance protesting his rule, according to a report Sunday.

“It was right to arrest them, and it was right that the court took the decision that it did,” Putin said in a television programme aired on NTV, Interfax news agency said.

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The programme was to air in Moscow at 1650 GMT Sunday but was broadcast to audiences in the Russian Far East earlier.

“One cannot undermine the moral foundations, break up the country. What would we be left with?” Putin reportedly said of the Pussy Riot performance in a cathedral in Moscow in February that led to their sentence.

He also said he had not exerted any pressure in the sentencing of the women. “I had nothing to do with it. They wanted it, and they got it,” Putin was quoted as saying.

“My first reaction was to ask believers to forgive them, I thought it would end at that,” Putin reportedly said. But the case was “wheeled up to trial, and the trial slapped a little two years on them,” he said.

“It’s important to say tender words on a person’s birthday,” Pussy Riot said in a sarcastic reaction on Twitter to the president’s words. “Putin told our members about the ‘little two years’.”

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“A little two years there, a little five years there,” opposition leader Alexei Navalny wrote. “Misha got a little eight,” he said, referring to jailed oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky’s sentence.

Donning brightly coloured balaclavas, the group of women on February 21 belted out a “prayer” in the country’s main cathedral, Christ the Saviour, calling on the Virgin Mary to remove Putin.

Three Pussy Riot members, Maria Alyokhina, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Yekaterina Samutsevich, were convicted in August of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred, and sentenced to two years in a prison camp.

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Moscow city court will hear their appeal on Wednesday.

Putin celebrated his 60th birthday Sunday, receiving warm wishes from supporters and numerous mentions on state television, but the event aroused derision from critics who since late last year have held regular mass protests against his rule.

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[Image via Agence France-Presse]


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GOP scrambles to save it’s only Latina congresswoman as she heads towards a ‘fatal collision’ with Trump’s tribal politics

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Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA) is female, Hispanic, and a rare sight when it comes to Republicans on the West Coast, who have seen their female ranks in the House cut in half since 2011. As she prepares to run for reelection, the fact that she doesn't represent the typical GOP ideals in 2019 creates challenges in and of themselves. But as a report from POLITICO this Wednesday points out, Republicans are committed to protecting her.

"But as the daily war machine hits overdrive with the impeachment proceedings, Herrera Beutler is wary of what message she is expected to deliver," POLITICO's Rishika Dugyala and Melanie Zanonaes write. "Yes, she voted against the impeachment inquiry in October, but she is far from an unquestioning supporter of President Donald Trump. In fact, she is open about the fact she wrote in former House Speaker Paul Ryan's name on her ballot in 2016. And yes, she subscribes to the party’s beliefs on Obamacare repeal and a barrier on the southern border. But she voted against the GOP’s health care bill to replace much of Obamacare, which would have left millions uncovered. And she was one of 13 Republicans who rebuked Trump for his national wall emergency, saying it set a 'dangerous' precedent to circumvent Congress. Matt Gaetz, she is not."

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Fox News has always been bad — but this week shows it’s willing to destroy democracy for Trump

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Fox News has been detrimental to democracy all along, but one journalist and historian believes it's gone fully off the rails this year and become a threat to national security.

Talk show host Stephen Colbert has been mocking the conservative network's commitment to "truthiness" for nearly 15 years, but 2019 has seen Fox News push out Russian disinformation campaigns and attack democracy itself to defend President Donald Trump from impeachment, reported Garrett Graff for Wired.

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Donald Trump Jr. got special permission from the Mongolian government to kill endangered sheep — on your tax dollars

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The rocky highlands of Central Asia, in a remote region of Western Mongolia, are home to a plummeting population of the largest sheep in the world, the argali. The endangered species is beloved for its giant curving horns, which can run over 6 feet in length.

On a hunting trip this August, Donald Trump Jr. shot and killed one.

His adventure was supported by government resources from both the U.S. and Mongolia, which each sent security services to accompany the president’s eldest son and grandson on the multiday trip. It also thrust Trump Jr. directly into the controversial world of Mongolian trophy hunting — a polarizing practice in a country that views the big-horned rams as a national treasure. The right to kill an argali is controlled by an opaque permitting system that experts say is mostly based on money, connections and politics.

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