Russians increasingly indifferent to Trump, US turmoil

In this Feb. 20, 2017 photo, traditional Russian nesting dolls called depicting US President Donald Trump, center left, and Russian President Vladimir Putin are displayed for sale at a souvenir street shop in St.Petersburg, Russia. (AP)
Updated 20 May 2017
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Russians increasingly indifferent to Trump, US turmoil

MOSCOW: While their country has become a daily source of headlines and political intrigue in the US, most Russians are watching the drama over President Donald Trump’s relationship with Moscow with resignation, even indifference.
Russian media chronicle Trump’s troubles matter-of-factly. Regular citizens generally care little about them. Many share the view that what is unfolding in Washington has dimmed prospects for the mended Russia-US ties his candidacy represented here and thus have lost interest.
“I live in Russia, and that’s why I’m not so much interested in what’s going on in the United States,” musician Artem Burnat said. “Yes, the president is a controversial and unpredictable person. But this is their country and their president.”
Opinion surveys have indicated that initial expectations of a thaw have given way to apathy, and perceptions of Trump have become more negative. Although many Russians attribute his travails to Democrats’ anger over losing the election, they do not see the billionaire businessman as someone to stand up for.
“The vote was split nearly in half, and he didn’t even have the majority of votes,” manager Andrei Tereshkovich, 56, said on the streets of Moscow.
“There is a strong desire to change things, people are upset, and the situation is unstable. Trump lacks resources to put an end to that.”
The Justice Department’s decision to appoint a special counsel to investigate possible collusion between Russia and the Republican campaign also was widely seen in Russia as part of relentless efforts by Trump’s foes to weaken and sideline him. The reports this week that the president shared highly sensitive classified information with Russia’s foreign minister and ambassador to the US were viewed as more of the same.
“Anyone with his kind of persona would draw attacks,” poultry farmer Oleg Matveyenko said, referring to Trump’s combative ways.
Matveyenko, 54, said that he supported Russia’s liberal pro-Western Yabloko party during the 1990s, but added that Western-style democracy had since lost its appeal.
“Neither Europe, nor the United States can serve as an example for us,” he said. “There is a crisis of democracy there, a systemic crisis.”
The Kremlin has staunchly denied meddling in the US election. Russian state television and other media have offered detailed coverage of the US political infighting and developments such as the ouster of FBI Director James Comey, maintaining a neutral tone.
Tereshkovich predicted that Trump will not face impeachment proceedings as long as Republicans have the majority in the US Senate. Yet despite his sophisticated knowledge of American politics, he confesses to having only passing curiosity about the biggest political scandal in modern US history interest
“I don’t really care about the developments in the US and the rest of the world,” Tereshkovich said.


Bill Cosby convicted of drugging and molesting a woman

Updated 26 April 2018
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Bill Cosby convicted of drugging and molesting a woman

NORRISTOWN-PENNSILVANIA: Bill Cosby was convicted Thursday of drugging and molesting a woman in the first big celebrity trial of the #MeToo era,
completing the spectacular late-life downfall of a comedian who broke racial barriers in Hollywood on his way to TV superstardom as America’s Dad.
Cosby, 80, could end up spending his final years in prison after a jury concluded he sexually violated Temple University employee Andrea Constand at his suburban Philadelphia home in 2004. He claimed the encounter was consensual.
Cosby stared straight ahead as the verdict was read, but moments later lashed out loudly at District Attorney Kevin Steele and called him an “a--hole” after the prosecutor asked that Cosby be immediately jailed because he might flee. Cosby denied he has an airplane and shouted, “I’m sick of him!“
The judge decided Cosby can remain free on bail while he awaits sentencing.
Shrieks erupted in the courtroom when the verdict was announced, and some of his accusers whimpered and cried. Constand remained stoic, then hugged her lawyer and members of the prosecution team.
“Justice has been done!” celebrity attorney Gloria Allred, who represented some of Cosby’s accusers, said on the courthouse steps. “We are so happy that finally we can say women are believed.”
The verdict came after a two-week retrial in which prosecutors put five other women on the stand who testified that Cosby, married for 54 years, drugged and violated them, too. One of those women asked him through her tears, “You remember, don’t you, Mr. Cosby?“
The panel of seven men and five women reached a verdict after deliberating 14 hours over two days, vindicating prosecutors’ decision to retry Cosby after his first trial ended with a hung jury less than a year ago.
Cosby could get up to 10 years in prison on each of the three counts of aggravated indecent assault. He is likely to get less than that under state sentencing guidelines, but given his age, even a modest term could mean he will die behind bars.
Constand, 45, a former Temple women’s basketball administrator, told jurors that Cosby knocked her out with three blue pills he called “your friends” and then penetrated her with his fingers as she lay immobilized, unable to resist or say no.
It was the only criminal case to arise from a barrage of allegations from more than 60 women who said the former TV star drugged and molested them over a span of five decades.
“The time for the defendant to escape justice is over,” prosecutor Stewart Ryan said in his closing argument. “It’s finally time for the defendant to dine on the banquet of his own consequences.”
Another prosecutor, Kristen Feden, said Cosby was “nothing like the image that he played on TV” as sweater-wearing, wisdom-dispensing father of five Dr. Cliff Huxtable on “The Cosby Show.”