Tag Archive: Vladimir Putin


These are not the best of days for American reporters, editors and correspondents, let alone journalism schools.

The American media is running eight points behind Donald Trump in national esteem.

This Gallup result was registered before CNN’s Anderson Cooper conjured up the impression of the president taking a “dump” on his desk. Ditto for the network’s Kathy Griffin holding up the image of the decapitated head of Donald Trump.

The glory days of Walter Cronkite, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein are clearly in the rear-view mirror. The era of CNN and conjured presidential excrement and bloody heads are upon us.

More to the point, Newsweek ist kaputt. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer is gone. Farewell to the Rocky Mountain News, The Tucson Citizen and so many others that depended on Gutenberg’s printing press for far too long.

Let’s face it: many Fourth Estate types (i.e., reporters, editors, correspondents, anchors …) are looking for jobs, any job that keeps them in the business.

The good news is China is hiring. The bad news is China is hiring.

Should these journalists succumb and work for Chinese-government-sponsored and operated media?

Dollars are dollars. Yuan are yuan. Right?

Ketchum, Putin and $55 million

Before getting knickers in a twist or bowels in an uproar, consider that Almost DailyBrett has posed similar questions about the august public relations profession, namely Ketchum PR.

For years, Ketchum served a provocative client, Vladimir Putin’s Russia, to the tune of $55 million cumulatively. The ostensible mission was to promote the Rodina’s “economic development” and the country as a great place for “investment.” The fact that Putin was behaving as one would expect from the former head of the KGB appeared to be irrelevant to the brass at Ketchum’s New York headquarters.

Reportedly Putin eventually terminated the nation’s contract with Ketchum, which may have been a blessing in disguise for the New York based agency. No longer would they have to register as foreign agents for Putin’s public relations nightmare in which he wasn’t going to accept Ketchum’s council anyway.

The advocacy side (PR) of the great communication divide is not the only one with moral dilemmas to confront. The same applies to the objective side (Journalism), particularly with so many journalists out of work or soon-to-be beating the bushes for another job.

According to The Economist, China expanded the number of foreign bureaus for its government-controlled main news agency, Xinhua, to 162 by the end of 2011. China’s goal is to establish a total of 200 Xinhua bureaus by 2020.Considering the many American media outlets are shutting down, does the Xinhua expansion – doubling its number of correspondents — provide new opportunities for employment?

Also consider that China completed the rebranding of its television network last year and has announced the formation of CGTN (China Global Television Network) to rival the BBC, CNN and Al Jazeera to spread China’s “voice” and to “showcase China’s role as a builder of world peace.”

Just as Ketchum would be tempted to dismiss the concerns about Putin’s Russia with “a client is a client,” will unemployed or soon-to-be-out-of-work American journalists regard a potential opening at Xinhua or CGTN (e.g., major DC bureau) as “a job is a job”?

In a way that sounds just like the Yuppie Nürnberg Defense — “I was only doing it for the mortgage”  — as preached in the Christopher Buckley book/movie, Thank You For Smoking.

The author of Almost DailyBrett remembers the days at USC journalism school, and the protracted discussions about objectively and Joseph Pulitzer’s mantra of “Accuracy, Accuracy, Accuracy.”

Is Xinhua or CGTN, objective?

Are the New York Times, Washington Post, CNN, NBC or CBS objective, let alone MSNBC or Fox News? Many journalists employed by these institutions are miffed that  their “objectivity” may be somehow compromised by their employer’s corporate parent (e.g., NBC owned by Comcast).

What happens if your media employer is owned by the largest nation of earth, run by a single party, and established as part of that country’s $10 billion annual investment in soft power?

If objectivity and fairness are part of the personal DNA as a journalist, would she or he be predisposed to resign if the “editor” wanted to censure/delete submitted copy if it ran afoul with China’s policy toward Taiwan, the Dalia Lama, Tibet or some other hot-button issue for the totalitarian state?

Would the same journalist be comfortable that her or his objective copy was universally regarded as self-serving China propaganda by the vast majority of readers and viewers?

Some may be tempted to rationalize accepting a position with Xinhua or CGTN and following their “editorial” dictates as a job is job (e.g., Yuppie Nürnberg Defense).

Other journalists may not have these same flexible morals.

If the choice came down to aiding and abetting Chinese propaganda or maybe finding another job, maybe the journalist should even consider wearing a green apron instead?

“Was that a grande latte or mocha?”

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2017/05/21/has-the-media-reached-the-point-that-it-can-never-cover-trump-fairly/

https://www.usatoday.com/story/life/people/2017/05/31/cnn-fires-kathy-griffin-over-offensive-trump-photo/102349176/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2014/07/23/russia-doesnt-give-a-particle-about-public-relations/

 https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2014/03/11/ketchums-new-client-in-1938/

https://www.ketchum.com/

https://www.economist.com/news/china/21719508-can-money-buy-sort-thing-china-spending-billions-make-world-love-it

https://www.cgtn.com/

http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/

 

 

The dog does not bother you, does she? She’s a friendly dog and I’m sure she will behave herself.” – Russian President Introducing “Koni,” the black lab, to German Chancellor Angela Merkel in 2007

“It (Koni) doesn’t eat journalists, after all?” – German Chancellor Angela Merkel

putinmerkelkoni

Even though the canine caper happened 10 years ago, Almost DailyBrett contends that Vladimir Putin’s Machiavellian ploy was clearly intended to intimidate and embarrass Kanzlerin Merkel. And considering the recent seismic shifts in global politics, the incident is more relevant than ever.

The most powerful woman on the planet has a well-documented case of cynophobia. She was attacked by a dog in 1995. She clearly does not relish any contact with man’s best friend, including Putin’s best canine.

During the January 21, 2007 summit with Merkel at his summer residence in Sochi, Putin’s eight-year-old Labrador retriever, Koni, made a cameo appearance during their negotiations. Even though she tried to appear cool, calm and collected, Merkel was clearly uncomfortable and unnerved by the sniffing dog.

When asked about the incident last year by the German periodical Bild, Putin insisted he did not know about Merkel’s fear of dogs.

“I wanted to do something nice for her (Merkel). When I found out that she doesn’t like dogs, of course I apologized.” – Russian President Vladimir Putin

“I understand why he has to do this — to prove he’s a man. He’s afraid of his own weakness. Russia has nothing, no successful politics or economy. All they have is this.” – Kanzlerin Angela Merkel

putinmerkelkoni1

Putin Exploiting Donald Trump’s Weaknesses?

At some point, at some venue, at some pre-determined time, Donald Trump is going to meet Vladimir Putin. Will the Russian leader try to do something “nice” for the new American president?

Russia’s legendary xenophobia, coupled with its record of hacking and espionage, will certainly encourage Putin to seek out and fully exploit Trump’s personal weaknesses.

Who would have thought that a fear of dogs would be a weak point for the chancellor of the fourth largest economy of the world and the de-facto leader of the European Union? Putin obviously knew this fact, and used his Labrador to get inside of Merkel’s head.

If the tenets of military strategy are to capitalize on one’s advantages and exploit the weaknesses of an adversary, then it’s safe to assume that Putin is carefully studying Donald Trump.

trumpputinhorse

In many ways Trump and Putin are similar, but Almost DailyBrett takes issue with any discussion of a “Bromance.” Heck, they have not even met each other.

Having taken care of that silly reference, one can safely conclude they are both demagogic, alpha males with a craving for public attention and reverence. In particular, Trump is known for his thin-skin and is quick to take offense, particularly via Twitter. Will this failing be an opening for Putin to exploit?

At the same time, it is well known the Soviets took note of President Ronald Reagan publicly firing the members of the striking Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization (PATCO) in August, 1981. The president knew he was jeopardizing thousands of vacations and even worse risking the possibility of mid-air collisions in the skies. Putin was a key operative in the Soviet Union’s KGB at the time.

reaganpatco

Reagan was roundly criticized for exhibiting strength, and the same applies to Trump. Putin is becoming aware of Trump’s demonstrations of bravado, while at the same time finding out more about Trump’s weaknesses. Call it “opposition research” or “oppo.”

One “nice” thing that Trump does not need to worry about when he finally meets Putin, “Koni” will not be making a cameo appearance. Alas, Koni lived for 15-years, before finally buying the kennel in 2014.

The new president would be wise to remember what Harry S. Truman once said: “If you need a friend in Washington, D.C., get a dog.”

http://www.bild.de/politik/ausland/wladimir-putin/interview-mit-dem-russischen-praesidenten-russland-44091672.bild.html

http://www.cnn.com/2016/01/12/europe/putin-merkel-scared-dog/

http://edition.cnn.com/2013/09/20/world/europe/germany-merkel-profile/

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/vladimir-putin/12094074/Vladimir-Putin-denies-setting-his-dog-on-Angela-Merkel.html

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/vladimir-putin-says-he-didnt-intend-to-scare-dog-phobic-angela-merkel-when-he-brought-his-labrador-a6805801.html

http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/germanys-angela-merkel-afraid-one-thing-its-not-david-cameron-1482159

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cynophobia

http://time.com/4139802/time-person-of-the-year-angela-merkel-surprising-facts/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Konni_(dog)

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/03/opinion/reagan-vs-patco-the-strike-that-busted-unions.html

 

 

 

 

 

There is good news and not-so-good news for Edward Snowden.

First, the good news: A weak morning sun came up over Russia’s Eastern horizon this morning, revealing the legendary frozen tundra steppes.

Maybe Snowden has a comrade he can keep warm or maybe not.snowdenbook

Snowden is being provided tender-loving care under the KGB’s successor, the Federal Security Service (FSB) of Vladimir Putin’s Russia.

Snowden can check in anytime he likes, but can he ever leave?

Second, the not-so-good news: Despite the all-out PR campaign, epitomized by Oliver Stone’s epic movie and a massive media pardon effort, former President Barack Obama boarded a helicopter Friday and left Snowden Back In The (former) USSR.

Sorry Edward, Donald Trump is now president.

What are the chances of a pardon from The Donald? How about none and less than that.

Similar to Napoleon’s Grand Armee and Hitler’s Panzers, Snowden is stranded in Russia in winter.russianwinter

What’s a whistle-blower/traitor to do?

The Legacy of Marc Rich

Almost DailyBrett has to categorically state this blog was wrong, thankfully wrong.

Last February, this post predicted that Snowden’s name would be a last-minute add to the pardon list, as a new president was being inaugurated and all of the attention would be on the incoming administration.

To his credit President Barack Obama did not pardon Snowden, despite intense pressure to give the high-school drop-out, a get-out-of-jail-free card.

Bet ya, Obama remembered Bill Clinton’s last day in office 2001 pardon of the late Marc Rich.marcrich

Über-wealthy Rich was wanted for more than 50 counts wire fraud, racketeering, massive income tax evasion and trading oil with Ayatollah Khomeini’s Iran, Khadafy’s Libya, Milosevic’s Yugoslavia, Kim Il Sung’s North Korea and Apartheid South Africa. He even renounced his U.S. citizenship.

Clinton pardoned him, triggering a firestorm of criticism from both sides of the aisle, and leaving the memory of his last act in office as an enduring chapter in his legacy.

Undoubtedly, Obama did not want pardoning Snowden to among his last actions as president. He was smart to take a pass, leaving Edward to the tender mercies of Putin’s Federal Security Service.

Snowden on the Chess Board?

“Chess is the gymnasium of the mind.” – Blaise Pascal, mathematician, physicist, inventor, writer and philosopher (1623-1662)

There appears to be a standoff.

Snowden faces up to 30-years in the slam Back in the USSA for at least two violations of the Espionage Act of 1917.

He is now working on his fourth year in the Rodina as a “guest” of the Russian government.

There is a ton of speculation about the coming relationship/non-relationship between two of the largest egos on the planet: President Donald Trump and President Vladimir Putin.trumpputin

Will they get along? Almost DailyBrett will take the “over.”

Will they wheel-and-deal? Didn’t Trump write a 1987 book titled, Trump: The Art of the Deal?

And if there is going to be a deal or deals, what about the 32 pieces on a chess board? The Kings are obvious, The Donald and Vladimir. And then there are the vital pieces: queen, bishops, knights and rooks … which brings us to the lowly pawns.

If Donald Trump wants Snowden back in the custody of the United States of America, wouldn’t one think that Putin would trade a pawn (e.g., Snowden) for another piece or pieces on the board?

Think of it this way, Snowden remains in Russia at the unpredictable pleasure of Vladimir Putin. If trading away Snowden pawn fits into the strategic plans of the 11-time zone nation, wouldn’t one surmise that Putin would do just that in a nanosecond?

There is the possibility that Snowden becomes a permanent Russian citizen. He is 33-years-young, giving him plenty of time to learn the Cyrillic alphabet and to take side trips to Siberia.

He could also wait until 2021 to determine if a new incoming president of the United States would pardon him – assuming there is no second term of Donald Trump. The question remains would a new president among his or her first acts in office want to pardon Snowden?

What if Snowden-the-pawn is simply part of a Trump-Putin deal? Or maybe Snowden reads the writing on the wall, and voluntarily (assuming he can) asks to be returned to the United States?

Conceivably, there could be a C-130 waiting for him at Sheremetyevo Airport. The destination could be the United States or …

Is Guantanamo still in business?

https://www.yahoo.com/news/russia-says-snowden-stay-two-more-years-081707423.html?.tsrc=fauxdal

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/18/world/europe/edward-snowden-asylum-russia.html?_r=0

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/was-snowden-hero-or-traitor-perhaps-a-little-of-both/2017/01/19/a2b8592e-c6f0-11e6-bf4b-2c064d32a4bf_story.html?utm_term=.76f7eb553ea8&wpisrc=nl_popns&wpmm=1

http://www.economist.com/news/books-and-arts/21714318-damning-account-devastating-intelligence-breach-how-edward-snowden-changed

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2016/02/28/the-coming-presidential-pardon-of-edward-snowden/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2013/07/11/pr-advice-for-edward-snowden/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2016/09/16/is-snark-ever-smart/

https://fas.org/irp/world/russia/fsb/

 

 

 

 

In military terms, is it ever wise to launch a frontal attack from a position of weakness?

What happens if the Oliver Stone-directed political offensive … not to be confused with his offensive-to-many movie, “Snowden” … fails to convince a lame-duck Barack Obama in his final days, if not the last day, to pardon Edward Snowden of Russia?

Wouldn’t you then expect the Clemency-4-Snowden crowd to shift the focus of its public relations thrust toward the new administration of one, Hillary Clinton?

Wait a minute. Didn’t Snowden use Twitter’s 140 characters last June 1 to essentially contrast himself with Hillary in a very unflattering and politically damaging manner? Was that smart? Do you think he would like to take those words back?snowdentweet2

Almost DailyBrett has repeatedly contended that Digital is Eternal. Heck, maybe even Donald Trump’s handlers are trying to keep him away from Twitter before he infuriates, bloviates and pontificates once again.

Your author has already predicted a fawning Snowden blockbuster movie – check – an epic New York Times bestseller – still to be checked –  university commencement addresses – still to be checked – and most importantly of all, the presidential pardon – still to be checked.

The pardon question comes down to three people: Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.snowdenmovie

Probable? Improbable? NFW?

“Mr. Snowden has been charged with serious crimes, and it’s the policy of the administration that Mr. Snowden should return to the United States and face those charges. The fact is the manner in which Mr. Snowden chose to disclose this information damaged the United States, harmed our national security, and put the American people at greater risk.”White House press secretary Josh Earnest

As a former gubernatorial press secretary, Almost DailyBrett knows that a categorical statement uttered by the press secretary – “… it’s the policy of the administration … “did not arise from spontaneous generation. The question of Snowden’s pardon was anticipated, and the official response was preordained and preapproved.

Does that mean the case is closed? Absolutely not. Any administration can simply disavow a prior statement by reciting that was then, and this is now.

Is it right? Of course not, but these rhetorical gymnastics are a fixture of political life.

Back to Obama, Hillary and The Donald, not necessarily in ascending order.

Will anything involving a Snowden pardon occur before November 8? Nyet.

If Donald Trump is elected the 45th president of the United States on November 8, is there any chance that he would pardon Edward Snowden? Two chances: Zero and less than zero.snowdentweet

A Trump election would result in a frantic push by the Hollywood, ACLU, academic and progressive crowd, who celebrate Snowden as a patriot without quotation marks, exhibiting relentless pressure on Obama. He may relent; he may not. Almost DailyBrett is taking the “over.”

If Hillary Clinton is elected the 45th president of the United States on November 8, is there any chance that she would pardon Edward Snowden, especially in light of his snarky Tweet against her? The Clintons never forget. Period. Almost DailyBrett takes the “under” on Hillary pardoning Edward Snowden.

This exercise brings us back to Barack Obama. If Hillary is a likely “no” and The Donald is a “hell no,” then the hopes of the Oliver Stone-crowd lies solely and squarely on Obama.

Was it smart for Snowden to publicly insult Hillary Clinton at a time he needs friends and not more enemies? Let’s ask the question another way: Does it ever help your cause to be snarky and sassy, particularly when you are living “free” in Russia at the unpredictable pleasure of Vladimir Putin?

Do the words, “gulag” and “Siberia” ring a bell?

The rest of your life is a long-time Mr. Snowden. Wonder how many more Russian winters you will endure? Maybe you should think about that before firing out even more intemperate social media missiles.

http://www.popsci.com/edward-snowden-tweets-photo-his-own-hillary-clinton-protest-tweet

https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/can-oliver-stones-snowden-convince-the-world-that-its-subject-is-not-a-traitor/2016/09/14/61e88768-79b4-11e6-bd86-b7bbd53d2b5d_story.html?wpisrc=nl_headlines&wpmm=1

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-politics/wp/2016/09/15/republicans-and-some-democrats-fight-back-against-snowden-clemency-campaign/?wpisrc=nl_politics&wpmm=1

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3774114/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2016/02/28/the-coming-presidential-pardon-of-edward-snowden/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2013/07/11/pr-advice-for-edward-snowden/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2016/03/22/apples-indefensible-september-10-attitude/

There was a decade when giants walked. These were days when governments and societies for the most part worked. These were days when a wall came down, and the guns went silent. These were the days when 19 million jobs were created, the greatest peacetime employment expansion in American history. These were days when just plain living was a “good thing” as Martha would say.G7worldleaders

Almost DailyBrett will never be accused of being warm and fuzzy, romantic or even nostalgic. There is no desire to turn back the clock, but there is an almost daily longing to go Back to the Future (1985 film) and see what we can learn from the 1980s.

The 1980s began with 52 Americans being held hostage in Iran and ended with the Berlin Wall coming down and the successful culmination of the Cold War.

Some closer to home even dared to utter that it was “Morning in America.” Can you imagine saying that today?

There is no such thing as a perfect society and there never will be, but the 1980s gave us a peek into what we can do, if we can compromise, respect other opinions and work together.

“Bygone Bipartisanship”

“Why won’t our leaders work to accommodate each other, employing civility as they cooperate to accomplish goals in the country’s best interests? What in our national character, in the ways we choose to deal with one another and respect different viewpoints, has changed so much since the days of Reagan and O’Neill? How can we win back the faith that our republic is working?” – Chris Matthews, staffer to former House Speaker Tip O’Neill.reagantip

MSNBC’s Chris Matthews wrote his 2013 best seller, “Tip and the Gipper: When Politics Worked” about the relationship between a Republican president and a Democratic speaker of the house that were mirror philosophical opposites of each other, but managed to work together to improve America.

Even with Paul Ryan coming aboard as Speaker of the House are we in any way more confident that Congress and the incumbent president can put together enough votes and good will to do anything other than raising the debt limit to $20 trillion?

Going back to the future, to the 1980s, Ronald Reagan was president, Margaret Thatcher was prime minster, Mikhail Gorbachev was general secretary and Helmut Kohl was Kanzler. Would we trade Barack Obama, David Cameron, Vladimir Putin and Angela Merkel for their aforementioned predecessors?

Wouldn’t we certainly like to see bare-chested Putin ride his horse into the sunset?

Reading Kohl’s Vom Mauerfall zur Weiderveinigung: Meine Erinnergungen, one is floored by how Kohl drew an inside straight with Gorbachev barely 50 years after Barbarossa commenced and the Panzers roared into Russia.

KARACHAEVO-CHERKESSIA. USSR President Mikhail Gorbachev and his spouse Raisa and German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, right, have a walk prior to their talks at the resort settlement of Arkhyz on July 16,1990. (Photo ITAR-TASS / Yuri Lizunov and Konstantin Tarusov) Êàðà÷àåâî-×åðêåññêàÿ àâòîíîìíàÿ îáëàñòü. 16 èþëÿ 1990 ãîäà â êóðîðòíîì ïîñåëêå Àðõûç ïðîøëè ïåðåãîâîðû ïðåçèäåíòà ÑÑÑÐ Ìèõàèëà Ñåðãååâè÷à Ãîðáà÷åâà ñ ôåäåðàëüíûì êàíöëåðîì ÔÐà Ãåëüìóòîì Êîëåì. Íà ñíèìêå: Ìèõàèë Ãîðáà÷åâ ñ æåíîé Ðàèñîé Ìàêñèìîâíîé è Ãåëüìóò Êîëü (ñïðàâà) âî âðåìÿ ïðîãóëêè ïåðåä íà÷àëîì ïåðåãîâîðîâ. Ôîòî Þðèÿ Ëèçóíîâà è Êîíñòàíòèíà Òàðóñîâà /Ôîòîõðîíèêà ÒÀÑÑ/.

KARACHAEVO-CHERKESSIA. USSR President Mikhail Gorbachev and his spouse Raisa and German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, right, have a walk prior to their talks at the resort settlement of Arkhyz on July 16,1990. (Photo ITAR-TASS / Yuri Lizunov and Konstantin Tarusov)

All Kohl wanted to do was reunify Germany, expel Soviet troops from former East Germany, enroll a united Germany in the NATO alliance, integrate Germany into the European Union and maintain a defense force of 370,000. Surprisingly, Gorbachev said “da” as Germany promised to monetarily assist with Russia’s perestroika or restructuring program.

One of the key ingredients for Kohl to secure what he wanted for Germany and his place in history was being able to provide Gorbachev with talking points he could use back home in the Rodina. Imagine putting yourself into the other leader’s shoes and helping her or him make the politically tough, but correct choice? Alas, Gorbachev paid the ultimate political price for his courage.

Can anyone conceivably imagine Putin signing off on any of the above or compromising on anything? Heck, Putin and Merkel won’t even speak the same language to each other when they meet. Courage seems to be in short supply these days (not suggesting that Merkel is a shrinking violet).

Looking back at the 1980s, Americans were notorious ticket splitters and reflecting the national mood, more times than naught they gladly re-elected incumbents. Almost DailyBrett can’t forget how Republican Governor George Deukmejian was re-elected with the greatest landslide in blue California’s history with a 61-37 percent margin in 1986, and Democratic Senator Alan Cranston won re-election by a 49-47 percent count on the very same day.

21st Century Filter Bubbles

Contrast the mood in the country and political climate in the mid-1980s with the widespread vitriol, anxiety and angst that is prevalent at this mid-point of the second decade of the 21st Century.

Many have asked the question, what happened (e.g., Chris Matthews)? The more important question is to ask: What can we collectively do to bring back the optimism and achievements of the 1980s?

Are we turning back the clock as the pessimistic pundits would say or are we applying the digital wizardry of the 21st Century to recapture the optimism and best hopes of a not-too-distant time?DSC01433

As PR practitioners, reputation managers, students of global society do we dare appreciate the other team’s point of view? Can political animals read both Karl Rove’s Courage and Consequence and David Axelrod’s Believer and learn something from the two architects of the last four winning presidential campaigns?

Or do we selectively search on Google, Yahoo and Bing for news and information that serves to corroborate our own personal confirmation bias? Some even revert to their crayons, coloring books and play dough when some foreign thought is threatening the filter bubble? Vaccines are really bad; it says so right here on Wikipedia.

Even though the 1980s were not perfect, we know they were a better time, a much better time. Sometimes the best strategy is to take one step back before going two steps forward. Sounds like a tactical retreat, a period of reflection and then moving forward with great vigor to New Frontiers. A little compromise may be in order as well.

Do we have the makings of a 1980s plan?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Back_to_the_Future

http://www.nytimes.com/1989/01/12/news/transcript-of-reagan-s-farewell-address-to-american-people.html?pagewanted=all

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/24/books/review/tip-and-the-gipper-by-chris-matthews.html?_r=0

http://www.tagesspiegel.de/kultur/alt-kanzler-auf-der-frankfurter-buchmesse-kohl-praesentiert-sein-neues-altes-buch-vom-mauerfall-zur-wiedervereinigung/10812422.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Senate_election_in_California,_1986

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2015/03/01/the-latest-ism/

 

 

 

 

 

 

“You say you want a revolution; Well, you know, We all want to change the world; You tell me that it’s evolution; Well, you know, We all want to change the world.” – The Beatles, Revolution

Sometimes it’s hard to provide PR advice to an accomplished hombre, who is 74-years young.

What do they say about: “Teaching an old dog new tricks”?Bernierevolution

Now before you accuse Almost DailyBrett of making aspersions about seasoned citizens, please weigh the fact that your author is on the cusp of this rarefied age group.

This particular epistle pertains to Senator Bernie Sanders (S-Vermont) not once — but actually twice — invoking a call for “revolution” during the course of his losing debate performance against Hillary Clinton, October 13.

And then this past weekend, Sanders doubled down on his summons for a citizen uprising with an airplane pulling the following streamer: “REVOLUTION STARTS NOW! FEEL THE BERN!”

The Saturday event was the annual Jefferson-Jackson dinner in first-in-the-nation caucus state, Iowa, to be held next February. Hillary Clinton brought along her beau, Bill, and conceivably he brought along Katy Perry.clintonsperry

In contrast, Bernie invoked visions of a Great October Socialist Revolution. Wonder what he will do for kicks on November 7? Are TJ and Old Hickory turning over in their respective graves?

Why even assess Bernie’s call for “revolution,” when conventional media wisdom points to Hillary winning the nomination in a cakewalk? Maybe, there’s something out there, which cannot be taken for granted, no matter how many times the word “inevitable” is employed. And that is the fact that the folks in retail states, Iowa and New Hampshire, are notoriously fickle, similar to herding cats.

What will actually happen in February, four months from now (a political lifetime), is not preordained. Let’s ask: Why is Bernie still conjuring up visions of Great Leaps Forward, little red books, collective farms, re-education camps and all-expense-paid, one-way trips to Siberia?

Honeymoon in the Rodina

Leave it till tomorrow to unpack my case; Honey disconnect the phone; I’m back in the U.S.S.R. You don’t know how lucky you are boy,” – The Beatles, Back in the USSRcoopersanders

CNN’s anointed Wunderkind Anderson Cooper rubbed a few liberal … err progressive raw nerves with Bernie’s disciples when he asked during the debate whether Americans would actually elect a president, who honeymooned in the bucolic Soviet Union in 1988.

In response, the Daily Kos harkened back to the McCarthy-era (not Eugene) memory lane accusing the Clinton News Network anchor of “red baiting” Bernie about how he took his then-new bride, Jane, on a honeymoon beside the banks of the Kotorosi in Yaroslavl.

How romantic: hearing the balalaikas ringing out; keeping your comrade warm.

Cooper’s question envisioned a potential Republican attack ad against Sanders, which could “write itself,” conjuring up his support for the Sandinistas, opposition to capitalism and the couple’s romantic honeymoon behind the Iron Curtain.yaroslavl

Sanders didn’t even blink, pivoting to his tried-and-true attack on the system being “corrupt” and “rigged” against the middle class. Later he boldly called for revolution.

From a public relations standpoint does “revolution” work in Iowa and New Hampshire, let alone South Carolina and Nevada? Is Sanders a P.T. Barnum press agentry circus act with an aerial streamer buzzing overhead? Could he actually win the Democratic nomination and if he did, how could he put together a coalition that leads to 270+ electoral votes?

Asking Sanders to comb his hair (as opposed to the Donald Trump comb-over) is probably not in the cards. How about toning down the rhetoric, but not enough to aggravate his always excitable followers? What did Nixon say about running to the poles in the primaries and to the center in the general election? Sanders is taking the former to the extreme.

This exercise brings us to the heart of the question: Can one actually provide public relations, branding and reputation management to larger-than-life personalities including Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin and Bernie Sanders?

Trump doesn’t seem to care what you think or say about him, just as long as you are thinking and talking about him 24/7/365. Be sure to spell the name right.

Ketchum Public Relations shamelessly received at least $55 million in fees from Putin’s Russia even as the dictator occupies the Crimea, his compatriots shoot down jet liners and props up an evil despot in Syria. Ketchum is way past the point of worrying about selling its collective soul (not referencing the band). That relationship was terminated by Russia this past March.

Back to Bernie: Is there a pragmatic bone in Sanders’ body? Does he really think that Revolutionary Democratic Socialism will sell in Peoria? His message may have a chance in Berkeley, Santa Cruz and Portland, but alas for Sanders there aren’t enough of these collectivist societies to propel the senator to the White House.

Pass the borscht.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/clinton-sanders-rally-their-iowa-supporters/2015/10/24/ce6b1216-79d3-11e5-a958-d889faf561dc_story.html?wpmm=1&wpisrc=nl_headlines

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/clinton-sanders-rally-their-iowa-supporters/2015/10/24/ce6b1216-79d3-11e5-a958-d889faf561dc_story.html?wpmm=1&wpisrc=nl_headlines

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z3l_2m8l8Aw

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bernie_Sanders

http://russiatrek.org/yaroslavl-city

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2015/09/07/the-politics-of-inevitability/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2015/07/12/the-silly-season/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2014/07/23/russia-doesnt-give-a-particle-about-public-relations/

 

 

 

 

“We must love each other or we must die.” – Lyndon Johnson voice-over for the 1964 “Daisy Ad” with a nuclear explosion in the background

“What Reagan wanted was to get on with the last act. He reached into his coat pocket and removed a deceptively plain white laminated card that had the power to summon hell on earth.” – Excerpt from Lou Cannon’s “Role of a Lifetime”daisy1

Has there ever been a political attack advertisement that could rival the shock-and-awe that comes from watching the stark black-and-white Daisy Ad? There was absolutely no subtlety when it came to President Johnson intimating that the unnamed Barry Goldwater of being trigger happy when it came to nuclear war.

Hillary Clinton ran the 3 am ad in primary season 2008, essentially asking voters whether they were comfortable with Barack Obama having the plain white laminated card in his pocket. Some said the ad was the equivalent of the Daisy ad. Watching both ads back-to-back (see both links below), the 3 am ad seems almost tame.

Harry S. Truman said if one needed a friend in Washington, D.C. the simple solution was to get a dog. Today’s political culture is downright brutal. We have seen ads featuring a politician pushing granny off the cliff, “swift-boating” a veteran or introducing the nation to Willie Horton. Even against these provocative examples, they all fail to rise to the level of fear mongering associated with the young girl picking daisy petals as the nuclear war countdown begins.

Johnson’s frank choice between love and death brings into question his temperament to have access to nation’s nuclear codes. Reagan’s calm relinquishing of the white laminated card, intended to be inserted into the “football,” should be seen as reassuring.

For years, we were reassured that no major terrorist event ever occurred in this country. We can’t say that anymore. What are the chances of a nuclear, biological, chemical or cyber attack in the next 50 years? At least 50/50?

Can you imagine waking up and finding out that your digital records of all of your investment, savings and checking accounts have permanently disappeared into the ether … and with them your nest egg, your child’s college education, your daughter’s wedding, the house down payment or even tomorrow’s groceries … ?

Maybe the question posed by the Daisy ad is still relevant. A related interrogative of equal importance relates to character and temperament of the next person to hold the plain white laminated card in his suit jacket or her purse.donaldcarly,jpg

For example, are we comfortable with the thought of Donald Trump, Carly Fiorina or Bernie Sanders having possession of the plain white laminated card?

Persona Matters

As the date of the next presidential election gets closer, those charged with reputation management and branding of candidates for the highest office in the land are naturally preoccupied with projecting strength, intelligence, sensitivity and gravitas.

These are all vital for a president. But please allow Almost DailyBrett to ask if you mother told you: “It’s not what you say, but how you say it”? Most of us have heard some iteration of this “mom-a-lee” during the course of our lives.

Political campaign press secretaries and communications directors need to be even more concerned about how a candidate deports herself or himself under constant fire in a world of ever-smaller cameras and ever-more acute microphones. Yes, everything and anything is on-the-record in our 24 news-cycles-per-day digital world.

Does your candidate come across as arrogant, unyielding and demagogic or does your candidate project calmness, humor, discipline and confidence?

Does your candidate simply tear everything down from Washington, D.C., Wall Street and other candidates, calling them “stupid” or “corrupt” or does your candidate offer a roadmap with specifics for a more positive future to an anxious nation?

Most of all, does your candidate have the temperament and character to be trusted with four-year or eight-year possession of the plain laminated white card? Some may point to social issues, the economy, jobs, immigration as being the most important questions that will confront the next president.

But heaven forbid, what happens if ICBMs are inbound from Russia and Vladimir Putin isn’t taking any calls?

Even though we are not practicing duck-and-cover any longer in our classrooms, the threat is still there; it will always be there.

Daisy Ad 2016?

What should we think of a candidate and her or his team that would dare to run the 21st. Century equivalent of the Daisy Ad with a nuclear explosion (or chemical, biological or cyber attack) in the background?daisy

What if that candidate gave us a stark choice between loving everybody or dying?

What would that either/or question say about the temperament, the character and persona of that candidate?

Would we really want that person to have access to the plain white laminated card to summon hell on earth?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dDTBnsqxZ3k

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aZ_z9Tpdl9A

http://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/lifestyle/1991/04/22/ronald-reagan-all-american-individualist/9fb8e00c-dbaa-4b5e-a145-2e3e268052fd/

 

Russia is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.” – Winston Churchill

My maternal grandfather never wanted to go to two places: Hell and Russia.

He lived to the century mark and slightly beyond. I doubt he went anyplace, but heaven. I’m certain he never stepped foot inside Russia.

kevinrussia

The author of Almost DailyBrett visited the USSR in 1981, when Leonid Brezhnev and the Politburo were calling the shots. That was 33 years ago.

Today, the Soviet Union is an unpleasant Cold War memory. Nonetheless, Russia remains a difficult and perplexing nine-time-zone nation on the geopolitical map, stretching from Belarus in the West to Vladivostok on the Pacific … and is just as fascinating as ever.

Putin or no Vladimir Putin, I want to go back and check out the changes before I meet Anastasia (“screamed in vain”) in the after-life.

Honeymoon in Stalingrad?

Even though I married Rachel Weisz’ twin, or at least Jeanne could easily be mistaken as Rachel’s sibling, we are not heading to the banks of the Volga for our belated honeymoon. The castles of Bavaria and the phallic symbols of Tuscany in summer are a smidge more romantic.

This is not to suggest that Enemy at the Gates was not a love story. Heck, you have all the elements of a great Casablanca love triangle: Jude Law (sniper Vassili Zaitzev), Joseph Fiennes (Commissar Danilov) and Weisz (Tania), the rubble of Stalingrad and the Wehrmacht and the Red Army in a battle to the death.lawweisz

Nonetheless Russia is calling, and it is a bucket list kind of summons. Some may want to jump out of airplanes. Others may swim with dolphins or sharks (hard to keep them straight) or march with the penguins in Antarctica.

Yours truly wants to walk across Krásnaya Plóshchaď (Red Square) one more time. The same applies to St. Petersburg (it was Leningrad back in 1981) with the Hermitage Museum (Czar’s Winter Palace) and the Summer Palace.

And of course, this time there must be a visit to the aforementioned Stalingrad, now named Volgagrad. It will never be Volgagrad in my mind; it will always be Stalingrad, the most decisive battle of World War II. Germany was finished after Field Marshal Friedrich Wilhelm Ernst Paulus surrendered his surrounded Sixth Army in January 1943.

Looking down at the Russian steppes 33 years ago from an Aeroflot flight from Moscow to Vilnius, Lithuania, I could imagine the majestic Cossacks, Napoleon’s Grand Armee and Hitler’s Panzers all charging deeper and deeper into Russia.

Reflecting back on the trip, I was repeatedly asked when I was going “in and out” of Russia, not “to and from.”

A Trip Like No Other

“Take me to your daddy’s farm; Let me hear your balalaika’s ringing out; Come and keep your comrade warm; I’m back in the U.S.S.R.; Hey you don’t know how lucky you are boys; Back in the U.S.S.R.” – The Beatles

Living in Eugene, Oregon for four years, I was always amused by the city’s “community” gardens. These are patches of land where like-minded folks under the tender, loving guidance of the City of Eugene plant their sustainable and organic crops (if you don’t believe me, just ask them) and maybe even dream of a communal environment where everyone is truly equal.

Regularly driving past this garden on Amazon Parkway, I would reflect back more than three decades to my trip to the Soviet Union. Certainly, Russia was a “social” society at the time (e.g., prefab apartment blocks, jammed fossil-fuel emitting buses, foreign currency-only outlets, and empty store shelves), but I am not certain about the “justice” part.

There was this problem with the “most equal of the equals.” They were the ones in the fancy limousines being whisked to-and-from the Kremlin in their special lanes. These were the same “simple” folks in the fancy boxes at the Kremlin Hall of the Congresses for the opening night of the Bolshoi Ballet’s Swan Lake. Something tells me that the working Ivan never made it to the intermission buffet of caviar and Moskovskaya vodka.

collective

Coming back closer to home: Do the overly educated of Eugene and other cerebral towns really want to emulate the USSR and its collective farms and communal poverty? What is the attraction? Maybe the author of Almost DailyBrett is not smart enough to comprehend.

When asked if I have ever seen real poverty, I think back to my trip to at best, second-world Russia. As my friend and colleague who made the trip with me said” “They treat their people like (insert your favorite fecal material word here).”

Spending any amount of time in the USSR and contrasting it with 1980s Morning in America completed my own political metamorphosis.

Would I recommend Russia as a vacation destination? It all depends what you want to accomplish for your precious time away from the demands of the workplace? If you are looking for romance and your Corona con limon playa, go elsewhere.

If you are a buff on history, politics, suspense (e.g., LeCarre, Forsyth, DeMille novels) and intrigue, Russia may be just your brand of vodka.

Next time, I will remember to keep my eyes open for my photo in front of the onion domes of St. Basil’s in Moscow.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enemy_at_the_Gates

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_Square

http://www.excursions-volgograd.ru/en/excursion/museum_battle_stalingrad_tour

http://listverse.com/2012/09/17/top-10-facts-about-the-battle-of-stalingrad/

http://www.eugene-or.gov/communitygardens

 

Brave declarations of glorious victory notwithstanding …

Do you think Hillary Clinton and her public relations team would like to press the 2009 “reset” button with Russia all over again?

How about a reset of the “reset”?

hillaryreset

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Do they give out PR Mulligans?

The Era of Viral Images

How many ALS campaign “Ice Bucket Challenge” social media videos have you seen so far?

The campaign based upon donors enduring an unceremonious cold-water bath has raised a pledged $62.5 million and counting to fight this fatal disease.

The PR/marketing campaign is beautiful in its simplicity. Accept a friend or colleague’s challenge to video tape yourself being dunked with ice water. Post your video on social media. Invite someone else to do the same. It’s a Ponzi scheme for a great cause.

Former President George W. Bush appeared natural and genuinely had fun as First Lady Laura poured cold water on him at the family compound in Kennebunkport, Maine. He then challenged former President Bill Clinton to do the same.

bushice

Conversely Mitt Romney looked stiff, decked out in his Brooks Brothers’-style suit, as shirt-sleeved Paul Ryan poured water on his former running mate.

No one questions that Mitt and many others should accept the ALS challenge. Having said that, the suit serves as a metaphor for Romney’s stiffness, a characteristic that makes it difficult for Americans to warm up to the notion of the former Governor of Massachusetts in the White House.

It appears that Mitt has not lost his stoicism heading into 2016.

Lasting Metaphors?

Sometimes PR pros need to be careful to not let “props” take on a life of their own, and serve as a not-intended lasting metaphor.

If a picture is worth a 1,000 words, how many words can an ill-chosen gimmick, or for that matter a clearly successful backdrop, mean for a personal brand and/or reputation going forward.

Silent Generation-types and more mature Baby Boomers remember Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev pounding his shoe on the table at the United Nations in 1960. Obviously, PR was not a consideration when he engaged in this boorish behavior. Nonetheless this angry incident with his shoe was one for the history books.

nikita

 

The backdrop of the Brandenburg Gate and the hated Berlin Wall served as the framing for John F. Kennedy’s “Ich bin ein Berliner” and Ronald Reagan’s “Mr Gorbachev, tear down this wall” speeches. Both Clinton and Barack Obama (as a senator) visited the same venue, but did not leave the same lasting memories.

And then there was the “Mission Accomplished” banner behind George W. Bush saluting a job well-done in Iraq. Everything is tranquil and peaceful in Iraq. Right?

missionaccomplished

Five years ago, then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gave her post-Soviet Union, Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, a “reset” button to signal that all was getting better with the two former Cold War adversaries, the United States and Russian Federation.

A few eyebrows were raised, when the reset button reportedly “borrowed” from a Swiss spa, was emblazoned with the word, peregruzka. The only problem is the word in Russian means, “overcharge” not “reset.” One would think the Department of State may have at least one Harvard-head that knew a thing or two about the Russian language.

That day now seems so long ago. This past spring, Russia annexed the Crimean Peninsula in the Ukraine, and later its Ukrainian backed rebels shot down a defenseless Malaysian 747. Will Vladimir Putin’s Russia actually invade the Ukraine, directly defying the Western world, including those who once wanted to reset US/Russia relations?

And if so, what will the “reset” button symbolize? Will it bring into question Hillary’s geopolitical judgment?

The aforementioned Romney pointed to the image of smiling Hillary and beaming Lavrov taking turns pushing the magical “reset” button. Hillary has no choice but to not only defend her actions, but to follow the time-tested political axiom: “When in doubt declare victory.”

Will being tough be enough? Or does she deep down inside wish that she never, ever heard of a “reset” button?

http://www.businessinsider.com/mitt-romney-hillary-clinton-embarrassing-obama-reset-button

http://content.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,1843506_1843505_1843496,00.html

http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2014/07/24/hillary-clinton-stands-by-russian-reset-in-face-of-recent-events/

http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2014/03/03/remember-hillarys-russian-reset-button-guess-where-she-got-it/

http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/nikita-khrushchev-throws-a-tantrum-at-the-united-nations

http://www.alsa.org/fight-als/ice-bucket-challenge.html

http://www.alsa.org/news/archive/ice-bucket-challenge.html

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=77AuXhORs-E

“[Putin] does his own PR,” Angus Roxburgh, who worked on the account from 2006-2009, told the Daily Beast. “I can honestly think of nothing that Ketchum has ever done that has actually improved Russia’s image.”

“Our work continues to focus on supporting economic development and investment in the country and facilitating the relationship between representatives of the Russian Federation and the Western media,” a Ketchum spokeswoman told The Hill. “We are not advising the Russian Federation on foreign policy, including the current situation in Ukraine.”

That comment was made by Ketchum Public Relations after the Russian occupation of Crimea, and before last week’s surface-to-air (SAM) missile destruction of a Malaysian 747 (MH17) with nearly 300 innocent men, women and children on board.

ukrainianrebels

Here are some questions for Ketchum, a division of Omnicom, that are based on the cumulative impact of Putin’s invasion, the attack on a Malaysian 747 and subsequent cover-up activities:

When is Russia’s behavior just too much for your firm, prompting Ketchum to jettison your $55 million (and-counting) client?

Obviously an unprovoked invasion and a premeditated downing by Putin’s proxies of a defenseless airliner is not enough to trigger a termination of an agency/client relationship.

What will it take? A thermonuclear exchange?

Here’s another interrogative: What happens when a lucrative client (e.g., Russia) doesn’t give a particle about public relations? Do you still offer your best-and-brightest PR advice when your “client” will do whatever it wants, whenever it wants, PR consequences be damned?

Ketchum Has Some Explainin’ to Do?

“We must stop using the language of force and return to the path of civilized diplomatic and political settlement.” – Vladimir Putin in his Ketchum placed New York Times op-ed, Sept. 11, 2013

putin2

Ketchum is not advising Russia about foreign policy? Really? Any bridges that you would like us to buy?

A plain English reading of the Ketchum placed New York Times Putin op-ed is exclusively foreign policy, particularly the opposition to the United States’ stance toward Syria. The op-ed had nothing to do with “economic development and investment.”

Ketchum, much like its problem-child client, Russia, has some explainin’ to do.

Does the PR firm really think it’s making a difference when it comes to Russia’s brand led by former KGB-chief Putin?

Wonder how Ketchum would explain gulag re-openings, and resumption of forced deportations to Siberia? And who knows for sure that these activities are not already happening in 21st. Century Russia.

russia1

We do know from quantitative research that Russia’s brand is sinking fast.

According to Pew Research, Russia’s unfavorable views have jumped 29 percent in the United States, and by 20 percent in the European Union in the past year. Invading countries and having your paw-prints all over shot-down airliners is not good for your national brand.

It’s particularly noteworthy that Russia’s brand is down 27 points in Poland. Yes, the same Poland that suffered for decades under heels of Russian jackboots.

Cold War II?

“We are all different, but when we ask for the Lord’s blessings, we must not forget that God created us equal.” — Vladimir Putin in his Ketchum placed New York Times op-ed, Sept. 11, 2013

The very same Pew Research survey demonstrates a massive negative shift in U.S. respondent opinions about Russia in the past five years. In 1999, 27 percent saw Russia as unfriendly; that figure rose to 44 percent this past March (before the downing of the Malaysian 747). Five years ago, 5 percent viewed Russia as an enemy; the March 2014 result was 24 percent.

Conversely, 44 percent regarded Russia as friendly, but not an ally, in 1999; that figure plummeted to 21 percent this past March. Conceivably the result is even lower now.

Assuming that Putin is aware of these figures does he even care? Or does he want to be seen as the macho hombre that restored greatness to Russia regardless of the consequences. Does he yearn for the good ole days of the Soviet Union? Notice these questions have zero to do with “economic development and investment.”

putin

For Ketchum, which preaches a commitment to corporate social responsibility or CSR, the firm is tied to a client that is a proverbial loose cannon. Putin’s Russia is becoming America’s adversary once again. Is Cold War II already here or just around the corner? Almost DailyBrett is not big on sequels.

Yes there are international PR firms that take money from tobacco companies, despite the fact that 400,000 Americans die annually from tobacco-related diseases, more than AIDS, alcohol, car accidents, murders, suicides, drugs and fires combined according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

If PR firms can represent tobacco companies with straight faces, allowing them to participate in the marketplace of ideas, why can’t a PR firm represent invading and (indirect) missile-launching Russia?

These entities (e.g., Big Tobacco, Big Russia) pay big bucks to tell their stories, even if they really don’t give a particle about public relations.

After all, God created all clients equally.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-fix/wp/2014/07/18/russia-has-a-major-pr-problem/?wpisrc=nl_politics

http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Government/2014/03/17/U-S-Public-Relations-Firm-Bags-55-Million-Representing-Putin

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2014/03/11/ketchums-new-client-in-1938/

http://news.msn.com/world/us-outlines-case-against-russia-on-downed-plane

http://news.msn.com/world/us-vice-president-biden-says-putin-has-no-soul-new-yorker

http://www.ketchum.com/

http://www.theonion.com/articles/who-is-vladimir-putin,36515/?utm_source=Twitter&utm_medium=SocialMarketing&utm_campaign=Pic:2:Default

http://news.msn.com/world/us-no-link-to-russian-govt-in-plane-downing

http://www.ibtimes.com/malaysia-airlines-hired-putin-pr-agency-after-mh370-disappearance-1635740

 

 

 

 

 

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