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At G20, Putin leads attack on western liberalism

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Russian President Vladimir Putin has used a global summit founded on liberal ideas to attack them in a demonstration of Moscow’s apparent confidence amid international discord.

Kicked out of the G-20’s more exclusive cousin G-8 in 2014 for annexing Crimea, Putin is now not the only one defending illiberal views on issues ranging from sexuality to immigration, even winning a vague endorsement from US counterpart Donald Trump.

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“The liberal idea has become obsolete. It has come into conflict with the interests of the overwhelming majority of the population,” Putin told the Financial Times in an interview ahead of the summit.

He criticized Germany for welcoming immigrants, saying multiculturalism was letting immigrants “kill, plunder, rape” without punishment — and was understanding to Trump’s idea of building a wall on the Mexican border.

On Saturday, he repeated that western liberal policies on sexuality and gender identity were being forced on people, often children, and that parents who opposed this were “often jailed.”

“Overreach” by proponents of liberalism is what caused protests in Europe and Trump’s surprise election, Putin said.

– EU leaders on defensive –

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Putin’s views, undiplomatically expressed in a language usually reserved for his domestic working class constituency rather than global leaders, touched a few nerves in Osaka and beyond.

“What I find really obsolete are authoritarianism, personality cults, the rule of oligarchs, even if sometimes they may seem effective,” EU President Donald Tusk said.

Elton John accused Putin of hypocrisy: while the Russian leader denied violating rights of LGBT community, John’s recent film Rocketman was heavily censored in the country to cut out all scenes of gay intimacy.

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French President Emmanuel Macron also countered, saying: “I am convinced that, in a world full of uncertainty, liberal democracies still have a lot to offer.”

But Trump, asked if he agreed with Putin, said the Russian leader “sees what’s going on”, before adding that US cities San Francisco and Los Angeles are “sad” because they are run by an “extraordinary group of liberal people.”

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– ‘Crusade’ on liberalism –

A political veteran first elected president in 2000, Putin had initially adhered to liberal ideas, but his advisers from those days are some of his biggest critics now.

Since then, he has punished opposition, silenced media and sided with most Russians in criticising the liberal economic policies of predecessor Boris Yeltsin.

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Criticism followed by sanctions from the West was met with increasingly anti-Western policies, while lobbying of the Russian Orthodox Church has increased in recent years, resulting in conservative laws.

Opposition politicians point out that pro-Kremlin figures or media figures who uphold Putin’s conservative, anti-Western rhetoric often have mansions in Europe, while their children attend Western schools, suggesting that the traditionalist and patriotic fervour is just an act.

But Putin’s public lashing of western liberalism could be a bid to unite right-wing or conservative forces that oppose liberal values, analyst Vladimir Frolov said.

“It’s a bid for a crusade against liberalism,” he told Dozhd television channel.

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“In the West, they have gotten used to Vladimir Putin in his new role as leader of the right, and this gives him confidence and some independence.”


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Devin Nunes’ hometown newspaper flooded with letters from out-of-towners wondering ‘What were you thinking when you sent him to Congress?’

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The Frenso Bee, which hails from the San Joaquin Valley where California GOP Congressman Devin Nunes is from, published a series of letters from people around the country who watched his performance in this week's impeachment hearings. The letters all had one thing in common: a notable "absence of pro-Nunes sentiment," which the Fresno Bee's Marek Warszawski said was not intentional on his part.

"Angry people tend to send letters, not those who are pleased," he writes.

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WATCH: Lindsey Graham flees Iraq War vet who politely asks to talk about Trump’s conduct

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Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) on Friday was filmed running away from a war veteran who tried to talk with him about President Donald Trump's impeachable conduct.

In a video posted by progressive veterans organization Common Defense, a man who identifies himself as an Iraq War veteran from Louisiana calmly walks up to Graham and tells the senator that he believes that he's being treated unfairly by the media.

"I believe that you honestly believe in our democracy as I do," the man tells him.

"I do," Graham replies.

"I came here to D.C. because I'm a Marine, I went to Iraq, and I believe, as I believe that you do, that President Trump is not acting in accordance to his oath," the veteran continued. "The oath that you took and I did to defend the Constitution."

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2020 Election

‘The Senate’s in play’: Reeling GOP faces collapse into minority status as Trump drags party down

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According to a report in Rolling Stone, there is a very good chance that the Democrats could take control of the Senate after the 2020 election as the impeachment of Donald Trump casts a cloud over the Republican Party.

The report -- by longtime political observer Tim Dickinson -- states, "the fight to wrest the Senate from Republican control — and oust Mitch McConnell as majority leader — is arguably just as important" as the battle to force Trump from office.

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