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Stories by Jim Picht

James Picht is the Senior Editor for Communities Politics. He teaches economics and Russian at the Louisiana Scholars' College in Natchitoches, La. After earning his doctorate in economics, he spent several years doing economic development work in Moscow and the new independent states of the former Soviet Union for the U.S. government, the Asian Development Bank, and as a private contractor. He has also worked in Latin America, the former USSR and the Balkans as an educator, teaching courses in economics and law at universities in Ukraine and at finance ministries throughout the region. He has been writing at the Communities since 2009.

Putin in Ukraine: The game is poker, not chess

WASHINGTON, March 4, 2014 — Russia’s President Putin has been called “delusional” and a “chess master,” accused of playing recklessly or brilliantly in Ukraine. House Intelligence Committee Chair Mike Rogers, R-Mich., told “Fox News Sunday” that “Putin is playing chess, and I think we’re playing marbles.” The truth is that he’s neither delusional, brilliant, nor a ...

An army of one: Chuck Hagel proposes sharp cuts to U.S. Army

WASHINGTON, February 24, 2014 — Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced plans for a major restructuring of America’s armed forces today. In a speech at the Pentagon, he announced that the United States needs a more agile, mobile military to meet the challenges of a more volatile world. He then called for cuts that would leave the ...

As Ukraine looks to its future, Tymoshenko is the past

WASHINGTON, February 25, 2014 – Oleksandr Turchynov, deputy leader of Batkivshchyna (All-Ukrainian Union Fatherland), the largest opposition party in Ukraine’s parliament, has been named as interim president of Ukraine. He replaces ousted President Viktor Yanukovich, who fled Kyiv on Friday. Ukraine’s parliament removed Yanukovich from office on Saturday, and a warrant has since been issued ...

Dogs shot, Pussy Riot whipped: Sochi’s Olympic spectacle

WASHINGTON, February 22, 2014 – The Winter Olympics in Sochi will be remembered as one of the most corrupt and destructive Olympics ever staged. The games have had their high points, including a beautiful opening show, but the Russian government has built the most expensive Potemkin village in history. There is very little for either ...

Disaster in Sochi? Enjoy the Olympics

WASHINGTON, February 6, 2014 – The world press has descended on Sochi, and the first dispatches are grim. Forget human rights and the environment; the hotel tap water is either missing or undrinkable. Doorknobs come off in your hand. Some hotels don’t have lobbies or floors, there’s no internet service, and you aren’t supposed to ...

Ukraine smolders as Yanukovych fights for power, protester buried

Photo: Political rally in Lviv, Ukraine / James Picht By James Picht WASHINGTON, January 26, 2014 – Mikhail Zhiznevsky, one of three protesters killed near Ukraine’s parliament building in Kyiv on Wednesday, was laid to rest today. His coffin was carried from St. Michael’s cathedral through the streets of Kyiv, while thousands of protesters sang ...

Virginia attorney general refuses to back state’s same-sex marriage law

WASHINGTON, January 24, 2014 — Virginia’s newly sworn-in attorney general, Mark R. Herring, announced this week that he will not defend the state’s statute against same sex marriage. Herring, a Democrat who received strong support from gay-rights groups in his election campaign, said that he considers the ban on SSM unconstitutional. Virginia’s top house Republican, ...

Privacy Board: NSA’s metadata collection program is illegal, ineffective

WASHINGTON, January 24, 2014 — An independent watchdog group, the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, released its review of Section 215 of the USA Patriot Act on Thursday. Section 215 allows the F.B.I. to obtain business records deemed “relevant” to an investigation, and is the basis for the National Security Agency program that collects ...

The Russian adoption ban and Putin’s petty, brutal politics

The adoption ban is called the “Dima Yakovlev” law for a Russian toddler whose adoptive American father, Miles Harrison, left him in a car, where he died of heatstroke. That death was only an excuse; the Russian law was passed in response to America’s Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act.

The danger of precedent: Liberals should worry about Obama

Photo: The Obamas board Air Force 1 / Licensed under United States Government Work By James Picht WASHINGTON, January 20, 2014 — Liberals get defensive when conservatives criticize President Obama. Some criticism they should ignore as normal political sniping; conservatives do it, liberals do it, that’s life. But no matter how they feel about Obama’s policies, ...

Obama’s imperial reign: Who needs Congress?

WASHINGTON, January 19, 2014 — President Obama made clear on Saturday that he is an imperial president: “[I] want to work with Congress this year on proven ways to create jobs, like building infrastructure and fixing our broken immigration system,” he said. “Where Congress isn’t acting, I’ll act on my own to put opportunity within reach ...