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‘Trump-Putin kiss’ graffiti goes viral

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Street graffiti depicting Donald Trump passionately locking lips with Russian President Vladimir Putin went viral on social media in Lithuania Friday, appearing to show concern over the US White House hopeful’s attitude toward Moscow.

The artwork in the capital Vilnius alludes to a famous 1979 photograph of then Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev kissing communist East German president and ally Erich Honecker.

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The “fraternal kiss” between the two Cold War-era communist leaders was immortalised in a famous piece of graffiti on the Berlin Wall.

“It seems we have a new Cold War, and America may have a president who seeks friendship with Russia,” Dominykas Ceckauskas, who commissioned the giant mural on the outside wall of his burger restaurant, told AFP.

“We see many similarities between these two ‘heroes’ (Putin and Trump). They both have huge egos, and it’s amusing to see they are getting along well,” he said.

While relations between Washington and Moscow have been strained for years, Trump has defended Putin, calling him “a powerful leader”. Putin in turn has hailed the “tremendous” Trump as “talented without any doubt.”

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For Lithuania and some eastern European nations once behind the Iron Curtain there are also growing concerns about the criticism of NATO by the presumptive Republican presidential nominee.

The alliance is regarded as a key security guarantee especially in the small Baltic states once under Moscow’s thumb.

Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius said last month that Trump’s comment about an “obsolete NATO” reflects Russia’s view of the Western defence alliance.

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“Trump has notoriously stated that Putin is a strong leader, and that NATO is obsolete and expensive,” Kestutis Girnius, associate professor of the Institute of International Relations and Political Science in Vilnius, told AFP.

“This graffiti in Vilnius expresses the fear of some Lithuanians that Donald Trump is likely to kowtow to Vladimir Putin and be indifferent to Lithuania’s security concerns,” he said.


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A veteran teacher explains why Trump is incapable of learning

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While dyslexia has been mentioned now and then as one of the reasons Donald Trump is so ignorant of what it takes to govern in a free society, I want to explore it as foundational to his inability to learn and grow while in office—and also as a way to link disparate troubling elements in his makeup.

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White House pulls new FEMA nominee for barroom brawl — but not for his boss’ bribery

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MSNBC host Rachel Maddow began her Wednesday show detailing that Jeff Byard, President Donald Trump's nominee to lead FEMA, has withdrawn his name from nomination because of an "altercation" previously reported.

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"Any mystery around that part of the guy’s past would have been cleared up this past year in August when he was indicted by a federal grand jury for his alleged involvement in that Navy bribery scheme," Maddow reported. "He was arrested thereafter."

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Right-wing activists call on Mitch McConnell to stop blocking election security bills

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On Wednesday, CNN reported that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is facing renewed pressure to take up election security legislation, from a pair of unlikely sources: Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist, and FreedomWorks President Adam Brandon.

Norquist — who once famously said that he wanted to slash government to a size where he could "drown it in a bathtub" — called for hand-marked paper ballots, and urged Congress to pass something similar to the bipartisan Secure Elections Act, which would have given states incentives to switch to secure voting methods and promoted data-sharing to identify threats. The measure was first introduced in 2017 by Sens. Kamala Harris (D-CA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), James Lankford (D-OK), and Lindsey Graham (R-SC), but never came to a vote.

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