|   February 27, 2014   10:42 AM ET

It's official: America is building Iron Man.

Well, kinda. President Obama recently said it - but as we know, in politics that's rarely a guarantee that it's actually happening.

There's also the fact that he laughed audibly after having said it - and that the press conference was about new military technology, and collaboration between different agencies, and not a specific program to weaponise Robert Downey Jr.

On the other hand, we're already aware of several US-funding programs to build exo-suits, next-gen armour and AI-controlled hardware and bring it to the battlefield. At this point Iron Man could be a period piece before we know it.

Sara C Nelson   |   February 25, 2014    4:02 PM ET

Barack Obama has paid tribute to late actor Harold Ramis, describing him as "one of America's greatest satirists".

In a statement issued via the White House twitter account, the American President said: "When we watched his movies . . . we didn't just laugh until it hurt. We questioned authority. We identified with the outsider. We rooted for the underdog. And through it all, we never lost our faith in happy endings."

The Ghostbusters star died on Monday from complications of autoimmune inflammatory vasculitis, a rare disease that involves swelling of the blood vessels.

The 69-year-old was known as much for his off-screen work - writing the Ghostbusters films, along with 'Groundhog Day' and 'Analyze This' - as he was for playing Dr Egon Spengler in front of the camera.

Ghostbusters co-star Dan Aykroyd, Billy Crystal and William Shatner were just some of those who have also tweeted their sadness at his death.

Keep scrolling for Ramis's top ten comedies

SEE ALSO: The 21 Greatest Moments In 'Groundhog Day'

Ukraine: Could EU Referendum have Prevented Bloodshed and Chaos?

Dan Ehrlich   |   February 24, 2014   10:50 AM ET

Ukraine and the United Kingdom seem to have one thing in common, a problem deciding if they do or don't want to be in the European Union.

And the mini revolution that has taken place with the loss of 100 plus lives might have been prevented had President Victor Yanukovich, who was against EU membership, offered to hold a referendum on the issue.

Now that he has been removed in what amounts to a lack of confidence by the nation's parliament, that same parliament immediately announced it will seek close ties with the EU and less close ties with its neighbour Russia.

Acting President Oleksander Turchinov said Ukraine's new leaders wanted relations with Russia on a "new, equal and good-neighborly footing that recognizes and takes into account Ukraine's European choice" Yet, this decision has also been made without the mention of holding a referendum on the action.

Why is a referendum important here? Ukraine is a country divided between the western oriented and largely Roman Catholic west and the Russian oriented and Orthodox Church east. The nation can be compared to the north and south in the USA...very different. The two regions are divided by the Dnieper River. If ever there was a case for such a vote, Ukraine's divided nation offers a good one.

Aside from having a civil war on the issue of which block the country will be allied with, the democratic way would be to hold a popular vote on the issue. To simply change direction with a new government could be inviting another uprising in the future.

It should be pointed out that unlike what some newspapers have reported, Yanukovich was not a dictator. He may have acted that way, but so have some UK prime ministers. He was democratically elected and driven out of office through undemocratic means. The parliament stripping him of office happened after he had fled Kiev.

I'm not defending him since it appears the nation is loaded with corrupt politicians and billionaire business people who maintain their wealth by not sinking it back into Ukraine's dying economy.

The desire of many people to join the EU is the fantasy that membership will be the remedy for the country's economy. And you can bet many workers would like the luxury of being able to seek work anywhere in the EU.

European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton will now travel to Ukraine, where she is expected to discuss measures to shore up the ailing economy. The finance ministry said is needs $35 billion in foreign aid over the next two years, with the first tranche needed within two weeks. Yet, this is only a wish not a reality, something Ashton may bring home to the new government.

In what might be compared to a mini Bolshevik Revolution sans communism, the idealistic left that began the protests is being replaced by the far right, even neo Nazis, something which won't help their prospects of EU membership. This also means that the eastern half of the nation, the Russian half, is less radical that the west.

Meanwhile the USA has warned Russia not to intervene in the situation and has expressed a hope the country would remain united.http://news.yahoo.com/u-says-39-grave-mistake-39-russia-send-154700499.html

According to some Ukrainians I have talked to, a big problem is that there are no non-corrupt qualified politicians. They are all in the pocket of some oligarch. The now freed former president Yulia Tymoshenko is such an oligarch with a fortune reputed to be much larger than anything Yanukovich has.

This upheaval, according to what I have heard, is far from over.

Building Trust on Social Media: A Recipe to Increase Turnout at the 2014 European Elections

Alessandro Bonzio   |   February 23, 2014    9:50 AM ET

The upcoming European elections will offer a valuable insight into the current state of democracy in the EU. While the vote will lay the foundations for a greater involvement of citizens in the Union's policy-making process, a poor result may end up undermining the legitimacy of the EU system as a whole. One aspect likely to be tested is the much-lauded value of social media as a tool of democratic participation. With discontent concerning EU institutions growing at an alarming pace, policy-makers are on the lookout for new opportunities to reach out to citizens and many believe social media could be the key to finally drive turnout up. Could social media actually encourage citizens to walk to the polling booths?

To begin with, all those Web enthusiasts picturing the 2014 elections as a potentially European version of the 2012 Obama campaign are likely to remain disappointed. Obama spent 47 million dollars for his digital campaign: a sum not even comparable with the budget in the pockets of candidates running for a seat in the next EP. The true secret behind his success was a systematic use of big data, which could hardly fall within the boundaries of the European legal framework, with its much stricter regulations on privacy issues. And if you think about the profound differences between the US and the EU political systems, the Obama analogy becomes even more problematic.

A better approach is to look at one of the factors that most affects people's willingness to get involved in politics: their trust in political institutions. Over the last decade, citizens' faith in the EU has declined hand in hand with turnout at EP elections. Both dropped by 3 per cent in the five years prior to the 2009 vote, which registered the lowest turnout rate in the history of the European Parliament. Since then trust levels have gone from 47 to a worrying 31 per cent, and many take this as a sign that the next elections might reach an unprecedented low in terms of participation.

Strengthening relationships and building trust is something social media is potentially really good at. Users can reach people they would otherwise be unable to reach, and engage in a direct and immediate dialogue with them, which is essential to earn people's trust. According to the Labour MEP Richard Howitt - who spoke at an event held in December at Europe House, London - social media is much more than an effective tool for getting to as many citizens as possible. In his view, "the increased insight into the lives of politicians brought about by social media will [also] allow the public to see that 'they are just normal people'." Trust cannot come without authenticity: treating people merely as a target for propaganda not only isn't going to do the job but in many cases may even reveal counterproductive.

The EU seems to be on the right track in this sense: three months away from the vote, its digital campaign shows a genuine commitment to values of accountability and transparency. The EP has created an online platform combining multi-media content from different social networks, including a page dedicated to the online activities of single MEPs. Moreover, on the MyVote2014 portal citizens can access information on party policies and single issues, learn how each party member has voted and even discover interactively how EU policies would change if decided upon by users.

This strategy could well succeed in convincing part of the electorate to cast their vote in May. But as some have noted, it might have a hard time reaching fervent Euro-sceptics as well as militant abstainers. Increasing turnout might ultimately depend as much on politicians as on citizens themselves. At the end of the day, it is not the politicians that most influence thoughts and behaviours, but the people we really trust, be they friends and colleagues or our favourite writers and journalists. From this perspective, spreading engaging content online in order to get people to talk about the elections may prove even more effective than interacting with them directly.

With 350 million users potentially connected to each other, social media could be the public space the EU has always lacked; a place where transnational issues can be discussed and where popular debate could suddenly develop a pan-European dimension. The mainstream media no longer retain their traditional monopoly of news and, therefore, no longer exclusively define the parameters of public discussion. Thanks to Twitter, British people were able to follow the 2013 election campaign in Germany to an extent it would have never been possible by simply relying on national media. New technologies are helping Europeans come together despite geographic and language barriers, which in the long run may create a stronger sense of identity among them. And history teaches us that identity is another powerful fuel for political action.

Social media could play an important role in boosting turnout at the next EP elections. But, maybe, not in the way people think. Listening to citizens' voices online will be a crucial step towards reconnecting them to Europe, while making EU democracy more transparent and accountable will help Brussels restore part of its lost legitimacy. Yet social media's potential will not be fully exploited unless citizens begin using it consistently as a platform for discussing Europe with fellow Europeans. Building trust is hardly ever a top-down process: whatever happens in May, constructive change will be driven largely by the people.

A Requiem for the World's Revolutionaries

Robin Lustig   |   February 22, 2014   12:00 AM ET

Today is a day to weep for the world's revolutionaries. Their bruised bodies, their lost lives- and their shattered dreams.

Not just those who have been out in the freezing streets and squares of Kiev and other Ukrainian towns and cities, but also those who were out not so long ago in Cairo or Tripoli, where as in Kiev, their passion and their courage brought them nothing but grief. People power meets brute power- and the cost is huge.

It's impossible to say yet how all this will end - but it may well be that when peace eventually returns to Ukraine, the protesters will, in effect, have lost. When a regime uses live ammunition against its own citizens, it has crossed a line. It cannot turn back, it cannot concede. It's hard to see what real prospect there can possibly be now of a meaningful negotiated settlement. Just as in Cairo and Tripoli (Syria is a tragedy of a different order), even the overthrow of a hated president may lead to a new reality that is no better than what went before. It gives me no pleasure to say this: revolutions are often in vain.

It is, alas, too easy to be swept up in the excitement of young protesters taking control of the streets, unfurling their banners, erecting their tents and singing their songs of defiance. TV cameras blinking down from the balconies of nearby hotels give us the impression of a people in revolt, an unstoppable wave of protest, sweeping away oppression and corruption.

But the cameras can lie. Yes, the people are there, and yes, for a time, they control the streets. But the real power is elsewhere, behind the heavy wooden doors in government buildings, in army headquarters- and sometimes in capital cities hundreds or thousands of miles away, where those with more power make their own calculations, in their own interests.

So let's look at what has been happening in Kiev. Nearly a decade ago, the protesters of the Orange Revolution were out in that same Independence Square, from where they successfully brought down a sclerotic, corrupt regime and prevented the fraudulent installation of a pro-Moscow president, Viktor Yanukovych. Today, that same Mr Yanukovych is in power- having been elected, more or less fairly, in 2010. With the all-important backing of President Putin, he is determined to stay there.

Here are the real battle lines: pro-Western protesters out on the streets, most of them young and dreaming of a Ukrainian future as part of Europe, up against a ruthless Kremlin autocrat who has a very different dream- of a Ukraine firmly in Russia's sphere of influence, beholden to Moscow politically, militarily and economically.

Ask Hungarians who remember 1956 what happens when popular protest confronts Moscow might. Ask Czechs who remember 1968. It doesn't require Red Army tanks to start rolling through the streets of Kiev for the answer to be the same: the people lose.

Yet it has not been forever thus. In 1989, in Romania, Bulgaria and across eastern Europe, brutal Communist dictatorships were indeed swept away by people's uprisings. Different time, different Kremlin. For Mr Putin, 1989 was the greatest disaster to befall Moscow in its recent history. He is determined not to let it happen again.

Only now, it seems, are Western policy-makers waking up to the new reality: as Obama's Washington has withdrawn from global engagement, weakened and exhausted by Afghanistan and Iraq, Putin's Moscow has leapt in to fill the gap. We have seen it in Syria, where President Assad survives only at Putin's pleasure, and now we are seeing it in Ukraine as well. Putin understands the nature of power, and he knows better than any other current world leader how to use it.

I do not believe that all revolutions are doomed to fail. In east Asia and Latin America, the ruthless military dictatorships that were the norm in the 1960s and 70s have long gone, swept aside by a combination of popular resistance and internal decay. Similarly in much of Africa, kleptocratic dictatorships have made way for democracies, at least in part due to the end of the Cold War and the removal of external Big Power support for military strongmen.

But nor are all revolutions bound to succeed. Especially not in countries like Ukraine, Libya, Egypt and Syria, with deep social and political divisions, where there is no national consensus and no tradition of political dialogue. It is easy to forget as we watch the terrible, apocalyptic images from Ukraine that President Yanukovych has plenty of supporters, just as President Mubarak did in Egypt and President Assad, despite everything, still has in Syria. (There is one important difference, though: neither Mubarak nor Assad ever won a properly contested election. Yanukovych did.)

I still want to believe in the power of protest. I am still an optimist who believes that the world is slowly becoming a better place, with millions more people able to live decent, fulfilling lives. But when I see what is happening in Ukraine, Syria, Egypt, Libya, Central African Republic - need I go on? - my faith, such as it is, is sorely tested.

Barely Racist?

Shweta Kothari   |   February 21, 2014   10:11 AM ET

It was an everyday lunch and all classmates were sitting together to discuss an assignment. Suddenly I said something which made all the eyeballs roll towards me and one of my classmates remarked, "Jeez, are we in seventies"? I didn't comprehend the reaction very well. All I had asked was whether a woman being discussed was coloured.

Must be a cultural thing, I thought. After all I don't really get English jokes and satires. This was one of those things that I didn't understand, until today when one of my friends said that it's offensive to refer to someone by their skin colour. Honestly, I wasn't in agreement.

In 2006, the deputy chairman of the Conservative Party, Bernard Jenkin was sacked when he used the word 'Coloured' in a radio interview. It sparked a debate in Britain regarding the use of the word, which is otherwise widely used in the US and other parts of the world. Some said it is highly derogatory and reduces a person to their skin color, while others proposed that it is merely used to identify people and does not entails racism.

As for me, I do not consider addressing people by their skin color to be offensive or racist, unless it is used to devoid them of equal rights. As an Asian, I proudly call myself brown and some may acknowledge that black has become a fashionable word after the appointment of Barack Obama.

Don't we say 'white men' in a discriminatory manner to refer to any imperialistic or colonization aftermath and to vent out our anger? Then why is this hypocrisy?

Some people go so far to ward off racism that after a point it becomes fallacious! I am sure I was looked upon as a racist when I said that and it made me reflect upon my own upbringing as an Indian.

An essentially pluralistic country, India is divided on the grounds of caste, creed, religion, ethnicity, dialect and geography. A country where a northerner dismisses an easterner, a southern discriminates a northerner, coupled with an age-old caste system and gender inequality. All these do not make India very tolerant.

People seldom use the 'N' word, but the 'C' word is widely spoken while referring to people of North-East. These slurs are used in a very casual manner without much care for the offence they cause to the people around. Lack of awareness, insensitivity, persistent prejudice and absence of law enforcement make Indians highly racist.

Grown up in such an environment and berated for saying a cautious line such as that, did annoy me. However, after much contemplation I recognize that it is not the best way to address people and sow the seeds of racism in a long run.

As Indians, we presume ourselves to be forbearing and do not pay heed to our day-to-day attitude where we unconsciously nurture stereotypes. Death of a young boy from Arunachal Pradesh, a few weeks back in a racist attack was what it took to bring the spotlight on a long neglected issue of racism.

As hostile as we are to the LGBT community and people of North-East, we must change our outlook towards fellow citizens for the sake of humanity. As a developing country there is a need to educate and sensitize people towards diversity, so that youths like me understand the gravity of a racial phrase, before we land abroad.

An Athlete's Perspective: Human Rights at the Winter Olympics

Jonathan Cook   |   February 19, 2014    9:12 PM ET

Lost among much of the recent debate over human rights at the Sochi Winter Olympics, and Russia's 'anti-gay law', has been the fine line that athletes at Sochi have to tread between the strict restrictions placed upon 'political comment' by the International Olympic Committee, and remaining true to their own moral convictions.

The days preceding the opening of the Sochi games were characterised by sharp disagreements between many western governments and the new IOC President, Thomas Bach. In response to the refusal of prominent leaders such as Barack Obama and David Cameron to attend the games, and Mr Obama's decision to include several openly gay former athletes in the American delegation, Mr Bach issued a strongly worded criticism of such 'ostentatious' political statements. 'Have the courage', Mr Bach counselled western leaders, 'to address your disagreements in a peaceful direct political dialogue and not on the backs of the athletes'.

But what of the personal convictions of the athletes Mr Bach purports to protect? Olympic organisers recently refused permission for competitors to wear stickers in memory of the Canadian freestyle skier Sarah Burke, who died in a training accident in 2012. The decision to outlaw these stickers, which could in no reasonable sense be considered to carry a 'political' message, unmasks the IOC as a hypocritical and archaic body out of touch with modern realities. While the IOC continues to cloak itself in the ideals of amateurism, fair play, and mutual respect, the reality is far different. The Olympics has indisputably become a commercial and political entity, raking in billions of dollars in sponsorship from many of the world's largest corporations. Furthermore, the IOC has built an increasingly close relationship with the United Nations in recent years, with Mr Bach himself drawing parallels between the objectives of the two organisations in a speech to the UN General Assembly in November last year. While these notions are laudable, the blatant contradictions between the IOC's own activities and the draconian restrictions it imposes on its own athletes is particularly worrying.

The Olympic movement represents all the people of the world, with their many distinct cultures and national identities, and it would admittedly be improper for the IOC to play an active role in encouraging any political viewpoint. The point is, simply, that neither should the IOC, or any other major sporting body, prevent athletes from expressing strongly held individual beliefs - political or otherwise. In August 2013, in a prelude to the debates that have shrouded the Sochi Games, the Swedish High Jumper, Emma Green Tregaro, competing at the IAAF World Athletics Championships in Moscow, was reprimanded for painting her nails in the colours of the rainbow in a statement of solidarity with homosexual Russians. Green Tregaro was told that her actions breached IAAF regulations, which stipulate that athletes may not engage in any political or commercial statements; and she was instructed to repaint her nails prior to the next round of competition or risk disqualification. Such overbearing actions - inhibiting the considered and reasoned right of expression for an athlete with a clear sense of her own personal convictions - are fundamentally wrong.

The truth is that sport and politics cannot be separated - they are inextricably linked from the foundations upward. Athletes compete, after all, in the colours of their home nation. They stand on the podium, victorious, and often teary-eyed, as the flag of their nation is raised to the echoes of their national anthem. This exemplifies politics at its most basic level. Representing one's country is a privilege and a responsibility that transcends the wearing of a branded tracksuit and singing the national anthem. Athletes also represent the values with which they have been raised; but above all they represent themselves: what they believe and what they stand for as individuals. Many Olympians are, of course, inclined to focus entirely on their own performances, free from distractions of any sort; and they certainly should not be negatively judged for doing so. However, athletes who have strongly held political views deserve to be allowed to express them free from any external restriction. It is, fundamentally, an issue of individual rights, which the IOC should not suppress.

Sport has immense power to do good. It brings people together across divides of language, race, sexuality, gender and culture, and has enriched and inspired countless millions. Within the sporting world the IOC has more power and influence than any other organisation, but its current restriction of freedom of expression among the movement's own ambassadors - the athletes - has the potential to do significant harm. At the very heart of the Olympic Charter is an unequivocal respect for other human beings and a repudiation of discrimination in any form. It is high time the IOC found the courage to live up to these convictions.

A Bitter Valentine's Day

Shaker Aamer   |   February 14, 2014   12:00 AM ET

It's 14 February. In Britain it will be Valentine's Day. In 2002, it was the day I arrived in Guantánamo Bay, and the day my youngest child was born - Faris, whom I have never been allowed to touch.

Yesterday, my fellow detainee Emad Hassan did not take his legal call, for the same reason every time he misses a phone call or a meeting. They intimidate him by telling him before he goes, "we'll do a full body search" - the "scrotum groping search" as they call it. So Emad goes with them to the Camp 5 exit where they plan to do the search, and when he sees them ready to carry out a full body search, he tells them that he refuses the humiliation, and demands to go back to his cell.

Indeed, the authorities don't want someone like Emad to let the world know what has happened to him. Recently, he encountered the worst doctor here in Guantánamo - the "Doctor of the Dark Side". I told him to write as much as he can about it and send it out, but it takes time for him to write in English, and it takes time for the letters to get through the censors.

I am on my hunger strike. Last night, I took one cup of coffee and added two creamers. As a consequence, all this morning I had bad diarrhoea and went to the toilet more than six times in half an hour. That is why I am writing now. I can't go to sleep, plus it is nice to write something about this place on the first day of my New Year.

There are 35 hunger strikers now. Eighteen of them are being tube-fed. These brothers go and return from feedings by the FCE [Forcible Cell Extraction] team. They even are weighed by the FCE team, but it's impossible to take someone's weight whilst he is shaking so hard on the digital scale and tied to a board. But this means there are 11 or 12 soldiers required every time they have to be moved, as many as five or six times a day.

It is exactly 8:00AM and the National Anthem is playing so loudly. There are big rumours going around, and we hope they are true. It is said that the Government dropped the charges against 12 Yemenis and that only two Yemenis will be prosecuted (Bin Attash and Nashiri). The eligible ones will go to Yemen in three groups: only those who have conditions will be kept in the planned rehabilitation centre; those who have no conditions will be free; and the third group will be those who are to be prosecuted in Yemen, serving their jail sentence in Yemen.

What else... How do I feel with another year of my life gone unjustly and another year started? Truly, I feel numb. I can't even think about it. Years are passing like months and months like weeks. Weeks pass like days and days like hours. Hours feel like minutes, minutes seconds, and seconds pass like years. And it goes around in a strange circle that makes no sense. It all takes an age, and yet an age of my life seems to pass too fast. On and on and on.
I live in the dark, knowing nothing. Here I am, cleared for release for seven years, more than half my time here. What, why, when, how, where? These questions have no answers, only total darkness.

I feel lonely and lost. Not knowing my future is the worst torture. I am living just to die. I am confused about everything and everyone. It is not enough for them to leave us alone with all this pain we are suffering. It is not enough for us to live only with our memories, which bring more pain. Dead people are better off than us. They are living a new way of life, knowing that they are dead and facing the consequences of their past actions.

But our suffering is endless - and with it, our loved ones' suffering is endless. We are not dead but they forget us after awhile, because they cannot see us or feel us and know how we truly are.

Yet still they do more harm to us: humiliating and insulting us, degrading us, anything to make us more miserable. Welcome to the Hell on Earth, welcome to Guantánamo. Welcome to the year 1984, the year 2014.

I have no doubt justice will prevail and the light of the truth will shine all over the world. What is happening to us and others is a small price for justice, peace, and happiness which will cover the whole world soon. Always, after total darkness, the sun rises again. I hope to see the sun of justice, peace, and happiness with my own eyes. It will be a great day.

If I don't get to see that sun, please remember that I have endured all this in the name of Justice.

Shaker Aamer

Alone in Guantánamo

Shaker relayed this blog post to his lawyer Clive Stafford Smith in an unclassified letter

Five Principles and 38 Influential Quotations for the Modern Politician

Davis Mukasa   |   February 13, 2014    6:36 PM ET

With the Sochi Winter Olympics well under way and the conduct of our global leaders and their policies firmly in the spotlight, I thought it'd be helpful to produce a guide to some abiding political principles, quotations and notes that aspiring politicians and politicos can use to make sense of the madcap crazy political world we live in. Enjoy.



1. Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly, and applying the wrong remedies
Groucho Marx
Well that sounds cynical

2. I myself know some people who are gay. We're on friendly terms.
Vladimir Putin, Russian President, on 'anti-gay' legislation to protect children
Oh, I see your point Groucho

3. The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings; the inherent virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of miseries
Winston Churchill
I dare not say that this is connected to the previous statement

4. Suffer little children and come unto me
Evita Peron, Argentine First Lady
Eva extends an arm of optimism to the children

5. Blessed are the young for they shall inherit the national debt
Herbert Hoover
Herbert takes it away again

6. Please do not touch the kids
Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak's advice to gay Winter Olympic athletes
As I said, I see your point Groucho

7. When I was poor and I complained about inequality people said I was bitter, now I'm rich and I complain about inequality they say I'm a hypocrite
Russell Brand
I'm tempted to say they just don't like you Russell but I hear your point

8. I live in a neighbourhood so bad that you can get shot while getting shot
Chris Rock

9. I went to Zimbabwe. I know how white people feel in America now; relaxed! Cause when I heard the police car I knew they weren't coming after me!
Richard Pryor, on race, profiling and the perks of afro-American Zimbabwean tourism 


10. Politics, noun. A strife of interests masquerading as a contest of principles. The conduct of public affairs for private advantage
Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary

11. The president has kept all the promises he intended to keep
George Stephanopolous, Communications Director to Bill Clinton
Never let virtue get in the way of semantics


12. Now, I know that he's taken some flak lately but no one is prouder to put this birth certificate matter to rest than The Donald. And that's because he can finally get back to focusing on the issues that matter like where are Biggie and Tupac?'
President Obama, on Donald Trump at the 2011 White House Correspondents' Dinner

13. We don't do God!
Alastair Campbell, Communications chief, quickly reminds Tony Blair not to mention his faith
I only wanted to know where Biggie and Tupac were

14. It's pity there isn't a hell for him to go to
Christopher Hitchens, Atheist, of a particular journalist
Not of Alastair Campbell although some in the British media have uttered similar. Adam Boulton?

15. I don't make predictions. I never have and never will.
Tony Blair, predicts he won't be making a prediction anytime soon

16. He can compress the most words into the smallest ideas better than any man I ever met
Abraham Lincoln, referring to a lawyer
The fact this appears below former lawyer Tony Blair is innocently unfortunate

17. The penalty of success is to be bored by people who used to snub you
Nancy Astor, on the joys of being the first female Member of Parliament
Eyes on the prize Nancy



18. Now is not the time for sound-bites. I can feel the hand of history on my shoulder
Tony Blair, signing the Northern Ireland Good Friday Agreement, April 1998
The media made sure this would haunt him for years to come

19. If one morning I walked on top of the water across the Potomac River, the headline that afternoon would read: 'President Can't Swim'
Lyndon Johnson

20. We don't do God!! [again]
Alastair Campbell, on walking on water

21. Politics is supposed to be the second-oldest profession. I have come to realise that it bears a very close resemblance to the first
Ronald Reagan
Reagan hated courting

22. The first time Adam had a chance, he laid the blame on women
Nancy Astor
When the cameras are rolling there is no gallantry Nancy

23. Television has made dictatorship impossible, but democracy unbearable
Shimon Peres, Israeli President laments
Unless you're a dictator that likes the limelight...


24. The difference between a democracy and a dictatorship is that in a democracy you vote first and take orders later; in a dictatorship you don't have to waste time voting
Charles Bukowski, US Writer


25. In the past months the people of Uganda have been following with sorrow the alarming economic crisis befalling on Britain
Dictator Idi Amin Dada, offers parcels of food and compassion to depression-hit Britain, 1974

26. Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt
Abraham Lincoln
Seems simple

27. I love to bring people into the Oval office and say, this is where I office
George W. Bush
OK, point taken Abraham



28. Democracy is the process by which people choose the man who'll get the blame
Bertrand Russell, British philosopher

29. Despise the enemy strategically, but take him seriously tactically.
Chairman Mao Zedong
Mao, never far from killing something

30. An ideal form of government is democracy tempered with assassination
Voltaire, French writer

31. The difference between a misfortune and a calamity is this: If Gladstone fell into the Thames, it would be a misfortune. But if someone dragged him out again, that would be a calamity
Benjamin Disraeli, British Prime Minister considers the assisted drowning of the opposition

32. In waking a tiger, use a long stick.
Mao Zedong

33. If God had intended us not to eat animals, how come he made them out of meat?
Sarah Palin, US politician evaluates Mao's words

34. One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors.
Plato, Greek philosopher
See above. Must see Russell Brand about this...

35. Amigo! Amigo!
George W. Bush hails Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi in Spanish at G8 summit

36. A fool and his money are soon elected
Will Rogers
See above

37. If ignorance goes to $40 a barrel. I want drilling rights to George Bush's head.
Jim Hightower, US political activist on George Bush Snr
See above

38. A man may fight for many things. His country, his principles, his friends. The glistening tear on the cheek of a golden child. But personally, I'd mud-wrestle my own mother for a ton of cash, an amusing clock and a sack of French porn.
Edmund Blackadder on the art of selflessness and expenses filing

That just about covers it.
Happy Politicking.

Cartoon images under creative commons licence from DonkeyHotey http://www.flickr.com/photos/donkeyhotey/
Other images adapted by author from publicly available WikiCommons Images. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:Images

Mehdi's Minute: On the Floods, 'Money Is No Object' and the Obama-Beyonce Nonsense

Mehdi Hasan   |   February 13, 2014    5:02 PM ET

Do you want my alternative take on the political fallout from the floods, Cameron's 'money is no object' remarks and the (false) French claims of an Obama-Beyonce affair?

Here it is in 60 seconds.

  |   February 13, 2014   11:15 AM ET

There's a time and a place for a selfie, and this probably isn't it.

French journalists seized the moment while they were sitting in the Oval Office - with Barack Obama and French President Francois Hollande looking on in the background.

According to French reports, they were ticked off by White House staff, who reportedly said this was "not the done thing".


Perhaps the hacks should concentrate on holding their President to account over rumours about his private life.

Paul Vale   |   February 12, 2014    2:22 PM ET

A Republican senator is to hit president Obama with a lawsuit on Wednesday that aims to halt surveillance by USA spy agencies which have been intercepting private communications both at home and abroad, as revealed by the Edward Snowden leaks.

Entitled 'Rand Paul v. Barack Obama', the Kentucky Senator is asking the Federal court in Washington DC to declare part of the Patriot Act, the legislation signed into law by George W Bush after the 9/11 attacks that enables agencies such as the NSA to monitor private phone calls, unconstitutional. Those named as defendants include the president, FBI director James Comey, director of the NSA General Keith Alexander and director of National Intelligence, James Clapper.

The legal action currently has around 350,000 plaintiffs, with Paul, a staunch libertarian and a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016, looking to corral many more. In a Fox News interview in December, Paul said that “everybody who has a cell phone would be eligible to become a plaintiff”.

The thrust of Paul’s complaint focuses on the metadata – the bulk phone records collected from American telecommunications companies – routinely collected by the NSA, which includes details such as phone numbers, dates and times of calls.

Several other lawsuits challenging the collection of this metadata are already pending in federal courts across the US. However Paul’s challenge is different in that it’s a class action suit, which means the plaintiff is not only seeking damages for themselves, but also for anyone who has been affected by the perceived wrongdoing.

Speaking to MSNBC, Stephen Vladeck, a law professor at American University, said of Paul’s suit: "Ostensibly, he could be suing on behalf of all Americans, or all Americans hypothetically affected by these court orders."

Addressing his supporters via a video message on Tuesday, Paul said: "When we learned that the NSA was collecting the phone data of every American last year it posed a serious Constitutional question: Do we no longer have a Fourth Amendment?"

The Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution, part of the Bill of Rights, prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures and requires any warrant to be judicially sanctioned and supported by probable cause.

In a statement released this week, Paul outlined his case against Obama, arguing that the president has "publicly refused to stop a clear and continuing violation of the Fourth Amendment," with the 51-year-old senator expecting the case to go all the way to the US Supreme Court.

The White House has yet to publicly comment on the lawsuit but, in a speech on security given earlier in January, Obama argued that members of the intelligence community "follow protocols designed to protect the privacy of ordinary people", adding: "They're not abusing authorities in order to listen to your private phone calls or read your emails."

Paul is expected to give a press conference in front of the federal courthouse in the capital after the suit has been filed, with the senator trumpeting his credentials as a defender of the constitution against encroachment of the intelligence services.

However, Paul’s critics, many of whom are from the Republican Party, have lambasted the move, with Peter King going as far as to question the Senator’s place in government.

"The NSA is doing exactly what it is supposed to be doing," said King in an interview earlier this month, adding: "To me, he’s either totally uninformed, or he’s part of that ‘hate America’ crowd that I thought left us in the 1960s.

"In any event, he doesn’t deserve to be in the United States Senate for spreading that type of misperception and absolute lies."

The scope of the NSA’s surveillance programme gained international notoriety last June after former NSA contractor Snowden, who is currently in asylum in Russia, released a tranche of classified documents about US and British spying activities.


  |   February 12, 2014    1:33 PM ET

As Jon Stewart points out in this clip from 'The Daily Show' (showing midnight tonight on Comedy Central Extra), the American media are rather obsessed with one detail of Francois Hollande's trip to Washington...

Sara C Nelson   |   February 12, 2014   11:48 AM ET

Sad times, social media fans – if you’re in Sonora, Mexico you can’t name your baby ‘Facebook’.

‘Rambo’ is also off the list after the state began banning names found to be odd or offensive.

“The law is very clear because it prohibits giving children names that are derogatory or that don’t have any meaning and that can lead to bullying,” Sonora state Civil Registry director Cristina Ramirez told the Associated Press.

rambo stallone

Rambo is off the list

So far 61 names have been struck off and more could follow as officials continue to check records.

Ramirez also cited a male child being named ‘Juan Calzon’ or ‘Juan Panties’ and a baby girl called ‘Lady Di.’

If you thought that was bad, spare a thought for baby Hashtag.

SEE ALSO: He's Not The Messiah... Judge Changes Baby's Name To Martin Claiming Moniker 'Only Befits Jesus'

Oh and two-year-old twins Barack Obama and Mitt Romney – born to proud mother Millicent Owour of south-west Kenya in 2012.

Aaaand while we’re at it – the ridiculously-named spawn of these 66 celebrities: