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Susan Smith-Harmon

Susan Smith-Harmon

McCain slams Putin in opinion piece for Pravda

Thursday, 19 September 2013 01:46 Published in National News

   WASHINGTON (AP) — Republican Sen. John McCain is accusing Russian President Vladimir Putin of corruption, repression and self-serving rule in an opinion piece for Pravda that answers the Russian leader's broadside published last week in an American newspaper.

   In an op-ed headlined "Russians Deserve Better That Putin," McCain singles out Putin and his associates for punishing dissent, specifically the death in prison of Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky. The Russian presidential human rights council found in 2011 that Magnitsky, who had accused Russian officials of colluding with organized criminals, had been beaten and denied medical treatment.

   McCain also criticized Putin for siding with Syrian President Bashar Assad in the 2½ year civil war that has killed more than 100,000 people.

   McCain insists that he is not anti-Russian but rather "more pro-Russian than the regime that misrules you today."

   "President Putin doesn't believe ... in you. He doesn't believe that human nature at liberty can rise above its weaknesses and build just, peaceful, prosperous societies. Or, at least, he doesn't believe Russians can. So he rules by using those weaknesses, by corruption, repression and violence. He rules for himself, not you," McCain wrote.

   The senator submitted the editorial to Pravda and was told it would be posted on Thursday. The Associated Press obtained a copy of the editorial.

   McCain assailed Putin and his associates for writing laws that codify bigotry, specifically legislation on sexual orientation. A new Russian law imposes fines and up to 15 days in prison for people accused of spreading "propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations" to minors.

   On Syria, McCain said Putin is siding with a tyrant.

   "He is not enhancing Russia's global reputation. He is destroying it. He has made her a friend to tyrants and an enemy to the oppressed, and untrusted by nations that seek to build a safer, more peaceful and prosperous world," the Arizona senator said.

   McCain also criticized the imprisonment of the punk rock band Pussy Riot. The three women were convicted of hooliganism after staging an anti-Putin protest inside a Russian Orthodox Church.

   The article by McCain, the 2008 Republican presidential nominee, comes just days after the U.S. and Russian officials reached an ambitious agreement that calls for an inventory of Syria's chemical weapons program within a week, and its complete eradication by mid-2014. Diplomatic wrangling continues, however.

   Last week, Putin blamed opposition forces for the latest deadly chemical weapons attack in Syria and argued President Barack Obama's remarks about America were self-serving in an opinion piece for The New York Times. Putin also said it was dangerous for America to think of itself as exceptional, a reference to a comment Obama made.

   McCain was not the first U.S. lawmaker to respond to Putin. House Armed Services Committee Chairman Howard "Buck" McKeon, R-Calif., wrote in an editorial for the Moscow Times about the suppression of the Russian people and the disregard for basic human rights.

St. Louis incomes down since Great Recession

Thursday, 19 September 2013 01:40 Published in Local News

   If it feels like you are making less money now than you were before the Great Recession, you just might be.  

   Census data released Wednesday indicates that inflation in St. Louis has increased faster than income since 2007.  The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that when adjusted for inflation, median household income for the region was just over $52,000 last year, compared with more than $58,000 in 2007.  

   And the poverty rate has jumped to 14.3 percent this year from 11 percent six years ago.  

   Its a national problem.  Inflation has outpaced income in 95 of the largest 100 metro areas.

Layoffs possible as Boeing ends C-17 production

Thursday, 19 September 2013 01:31 Published in Local News

   LOS ANGELES (AP) — Boeing Co. announced Wednesday that it will end production of its C-17 Globemaster III military cargo jet and close the final assembly plant in Long Beach in 2015, putting as many as 3,000 jobs at risk as orders plunged in the fragile world economy.  That includes about 300 workers in St. Louis.

   "Our customers around the world face very tough budget environments. While the desire for the C-17's capabilities is high, budgets cannot support additional purchases in the timing required to keep the production line open," Dennis Muilenburg, president and chief executive officer of Boeing Defense, Space & Security, said in a statement. "What's more, here in the United States the sequestration situation has created significant planning difficulties for our customers and the entire aerospace industry."

   Last week, the Long Beach plant delivered the last of 223 C-17s produced for the U.S. Air Force. Nan Bouchard, Boeing vice president and C-17 program manager, said the company will complete 22 final aircraft: seven for the Indian Air Force, two for an international customer that she declined to name, and 13 that have not yet been sold.

   "Despite strong international interest, we did not receive sufficient orders" to continue production, she said.

   Boeing said it expects the announcement to result in a charge of less than $100 million this quarter, and that will not impact financial guidance for the year.

   The company will begin reducing the C-17 workforce in 2014 at plants in Long Beach; Macon, Ga.; Mesa, Ariz.; and St. Louis. However, Boeing will make efforts to provide jobs elsewhere with the company, Bouchard said, and had plans to continue a repair and spare parts program for the planes through 2017 at least, Bouchard said.

   With modernization and upkeep, the big planes are expected to last for decades, she said.

   The massive, four-engine C-17 made its first flight in 1991, and military deliveries began about two years later. The plane is used to airlift tanks, supplies and troops as well as performing medical evacuations. It quickly became a war and disaster workhorse, prized for its ability to operate from basic airstrips and cover intercontinental distances with a full load without refueling.

   With a payload of 160,000 pounds, it is designed to airdrop 102 paratroopers and their equipment.

   Design work on the plane began at the million-plus square-foot Long Beach facility in 1981, when it was a McDonnell Douglas facility. Boeing merged with McDonnell Douglas in the 1990s. Boeing has so far delivered 257 planes worldwide, at a cost of about $311 million each when research, development and construction costs are included.

   The Long Beach plant has about 2,000 employees.

   "It will be sad that we're closing this last major production facility in Southern California but again, we're all very proud to be part of that heritage," Bouchard said.

   Boeing has about 20,000 employees in California, working on a variety of projects. That includes commercial aircraft, new markets such as cyber security and the largest satellite design and manufacturing factory in the world, Boeing said.

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