Putin On The Ditz

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After months of back-and-forth and internet-based intrigue, Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin finally met face-to-face ― like if “You’ve Got Mail” ended with geopolitical upheaval. We thought the G-20 would be the worst place in the world this week, but then we heard that Milo had a book party. And Putin “joked” about journalists who “insulted” Trump and so we are going to “pack a bag” and “flee to Canada.” This is HUFFPOST HILL for Friday, July 7th, 2017:

IT’S ALWAYS NICE WHEN OLD FRIENDS CATCH UP - Mollie Reilly: “President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin met Friday at the G-20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, marking the first face-to-face meeting between the two heads of state. Trump said that he and Putin discussed ‘various things’ during their hours-long sit-down, originally only scheduled for 30 minutes. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov also attended the meeting along with two translators…. Tillerson said the two discussed Russian interference in the U.S. election, and that Putin denied any involvement while asking the U.S. for evidence that hacking had taken place. Russian state media reports Putin and Trump also discussed Syria, Ukraine, counterterrorism and cybersecurity, according to CNN’s Jim Acosta.”  [HuffPost]

RUSSIA: OUR PARTNERS IN PEACE - Alistair Bell: ”The United States, Russia and regional countries have reached a ceasefire deal in southwestern Syria, one of the combat zones in a six-year-old civil war, a U.S. official said on Friday. U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was expected to provide more details of the deal to reporters in Hamburg, Germany, later on Friday, the official said. Russia and Iran are the main international backers of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad while Washington supports some of the rebel groups fighting for his ouster. ‘Still a lot of work to be done,’ the U.S. official said. Jordan’s Petra news agency said the ceasefire would go into effect as of Sunday. Tillerson has said the United States was prepared to discuss joint efforts with Russia to stabilize Syria, including no-fly zones, ceasefire observers and coordinated deliveries of humanitarian assistance.” [Reuters]

New friends! “After a dizzying series of policy shifts on Syria, administration and congressional sources tell The Daily Beast that Team Trump is introducing the beginnings of a new strategy for Syria — one that, in the short term at least: leaves dictator Bashar al-Assad in power; acquiesces to the idea of ‘safe zones’ proposed by Russia and its allies; leans on cooperation from Moscow, including the use of Russian troops to patrol parts of the country.” [Daily Beast’s Spencer Ackerman]

IN THE ROOM WHEN IT HAPPENED - See, Millennials? We can make “Hamilton” references, too.... Callum Borchers: ”The White House allowed Russia to shape early impressions of Friday’s meeting…. Putin got his version of events out first…. Omitting any mention of a conversation about political interference, Putin raised the possibility that Trump hadn’t brought it up during their two-hour sit-down on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Hamburg. But the White House did not allow that notion to hang in the air for long. Press secretary Sean Spicer gathered reporters for a news conference at which Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who was in the room, said Trump made meddling the first topic and that he and Putin ‘had a very robust and lengthy exchange on the subject.’” [WaPo]

We’re all going to die, “literally, we’re all going to die” edition: “A Russian journalist and member of the Kremlin press pool reports that during the photo-op before the much-anticipated Putin-Trump meeting at the G20 summit, he heard Russian President Vladimir Putin ask a question in English of President Donald Trump. With the cameras clicking and journalists yelling out questions, Putin leaned over and, gesturing with his thumb toward the American reporters, asked Trump, according to a tweet from Dmitri Smirnov of Komsomolskaya Pravda, ‘Are these the ones who insulted you?’ With the reporters being ushered out, Trump replied, ‘These are the ones.’ Putin leaned back and laughed, and with a chuckle Trump seemed to add, ‘You’re right about that.’” [Mother Jones’ Hannah Levintova]

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PRIORITIES - Ryan Grenoble: “President Donald Trump is currently at the G-20 summit in Hamburg, Germany ― an event that, for some reason, inspired him to tweet angrily on Friday and claim that everyone in attendance is talking about John Podesta, Hillary Clinton’s former campaign chairman: ′Everyone here is talking about why John Podesta refused to give the DNC server to the FBI and the CIA. Disgraceful!′ [Trump tweeted]. Podesta has since responded, and he seems just as baffled by Trump’s timing ― to say nothing of the claims themselves ― as everyone else. ‘Dude, get your head in the game,’ he wrote at Trump, in part, on Twitter. ‘You’re representing the US at the G20.’ Podesta said he was on cross-country road trip with his wife when he saw reports that ′our whack job POTUS′ was tweeting about him, and apparently accusing him of not cooperating with a federal investigation into the hacking of Democratic National Committee emails.”

OH - Nick Visser: ”Hackers have been targeting companies that operate nuclear power stations around America, prompting the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI to issue an urgent warning about the severity of the threat, several media outlets reported on Thursday. Both The New York Times and Bloomberg published details from a joint report released by the government agencies last month that described efforts by hackers to infiltrate the systems of nuclear facilities, including the Wolf Creek Nuclear Operating Corporation. The report did not provide details of the cyberattacks, but the Kansas-based Wolf Creek said its systems were not affected, according to the Times. Both publications, citing security experts and U.S. officials, said the attacks could be used to disrupt the power grid, and DHS and the FBI sent out a warning to utility companies on June 28 about the potential for hacking.” [HuffPost]

Almost as bad as the Fyre Festival. “In 2003, the wartime prison blasted deafeningly loud recordings of the band Drowning Pool’s ‘Bodies’ to deny a shackled prisoner sleep between rounds of questioning by a masked U.S. interrogator. Guess who played at Guantánamo this Fourth of July? Drowning Pool, reprising the mosh pit anthem whose refrain is ‘Let the bodies hit the floor,’ to the delight of troops attending the base’s Freedom Fest.” [Miami Herald’s Carol Rosenberg]

IRONY IS DEAD - Chris D’Angelo: “The Environmental Protection Agency, which under President Donald Trump removed its climate change website and is set to launch a program to ‘critique’ near-universally accepted climate science, has some advice for protecting yourself against extreme heat this summer.  ‘It’s summertime!’ the agency wrote in a Friday post to Twitter. ‘That means the days can get hot. Wear sunscreen and plan for the heat.’ The post links to an EPA web page about preparing for and staying safe in extreme heat ― a page that has remained virtually unchanged since the Obama administration.” [HuffPost]

SENATORS, THEY’RE JUST LIKE US - Senators are normal humans who do normal human things with other normal humans. Well, except Ted Cruz. Jennifer Steinhauer: “When not working, they cook, bake, go running, practice yoga, shop for antique rugs and indulge in other pastimes to clear the head, fuel the soul and keep themselves healthy. Even the leaders have their distractions; the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky, loves to tailgate at University of Louisville football games, and to watch the Washington Nationals play baseball. When he can fit it in, Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, tools around on a bike.” [NYT]

So this beat sweetener was worth, like, what, 5,000 Senate scoops?

BECAUSE YOU’VE READ THIS FAR - Here’s a child’s bootleg VR setup.  

AWFUL PERSON HAS AWFUL PARTY - Milo probably makes more money than all of us. Happy Friday! Betsy Rothstein: “Milo Yiannopoulos‘s Dangerous book party erupted into all out anarchy against CNN Thursday night in Manhattan…. Another highlight of the party was dancing midgets wearing yarmulkes and Ben Shapiro nametags. Shapiro, who practices Orthodox Judaism and stands well below ex-FBI Director James Comey, is a former editor-at-large for Breitbart News and now editor-in-chief of Daily Wire. ‘They’re a little tall for Ben Shapiro impersonators, but they’ve got the yarmulkes, they’re doing a good job,’ Milo cracked in his video.” [Daily Caller]


- Neural networks are writing “Harry Potter” fan fiction.

- 1,600-year-old mummy is shockingly well-preserved.


@aedwardslevy: was putin wearing sleeves

@chrislhayes: Call me crazy but I don’t feel like we have any particularly reliable narrators of what actually happened in the meeting.

@daveweigel: Have left the decadent elitism of rural Kansas for the working-class Americana of NYC.

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