Russia is launching airstrikes on Syria now, too

Heavy smoke rises following an airstrike in Kobani, Syria on Oct. 18, 2014.

Editor's note: This is Chatter, our morning rundown of what you need and want to know around the world. Fortunately for us all, you can have Chatter emailed to you every day. Just sign up here!


Soon it will be easier to list who isn’t bombing Syria than to list who is. The latest government to enter the battle — at least officially — is Russia.

The Russian parliament on Wednesday approved the use of military force abroad. The last time it did that Russia annexed Crimea, which used to belong to Ukraine. Russian officials said the measure would be used to launch airstrikes on Syria, adding that Russia would not send any troops. The officials said the airstrikes would target Islamic State positions and support the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

The latter part of that strategy is complicated. Russia believes Assad must stay until the Islamic State is defeated. The United States, on the other hand, believes Assad has created a climate in his country for the Islamic State to thrive, and so must go.

For now the United States and Russia are going to have to agree to disagree, and then work together to make sure they aren’t shooting down each other’s planes. Russia will also have to coordinate with everyone else participating in the bombing of Syria, namely: Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Bahrain, Qatar, Turkey, Australia, France, Canada and the UK. Oh, and Syria itself, of course.


How soon we forget: Many of the capital rules imposed on European banks during the European debt crisis will be “eased” in order to spur growth, EU officials said Wednesday. Yep.

Many European banks were severely under-capitalized at the end of 2009. This was true for American banks too in 2007 and 2008. Perhaps you remember the words: "Global Economic Meltdown." Being under-capitalized means you don’t have the necessary funds (maybe they are tied up elsewhere) to cover expenses when things go wrong, say, the bursting of a housing bubble. Governments (read: you and me) are forced to come to the rescue, bailing the banks out. Some governments can’t afford to do that. So third parties get involved. It becomes a mess really fast and ultimately it’s the poorest of us who are most adversely affected.

That’s the short of it. The European debt crisis wasn’t a long time ago. It was only a few years ago that everyone was clamoring for more capital rules on banks. And one only needs to look to Greece to see how the effects of the crisis are still being felt today. But the economy in Europe, just like in the United States, is improving. So now, some EU officials apparently think that we can roll back some of the protections put in place.

The theory goes that revoking some of these rules will allow banks more freedom to lend, because they won’t have to spend so much on shoring up safety buffers and maintaining high levels of capital in case something goes wrong again, which will boost economic growth.

Raise your hand if you think this is a good idea.


Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko on Monday brought his 11-year-old son to the UN General Assembly. Isn't that sweet? The young boy sat right there with his father, taking in all the world-changing debates unfolding around him. It must have been a truly eye-opening experience for such a young person.

Wouldn't that be nice. In reality, the Belarusian president is one of the world’s most repressive leaders and his son is essentially a "dictator in waiting," a slightly younger Kim Jong Un. Lukashenko is known as “Europe’s last dictator.” And, really, the fact that he brought his kid to the United Nations is downright creepy. It came off as more an act of grooming-to-eventually-assume-power than it did take-your-kid-to-work-day.

Kolya is the son's name. And he’s well known in Belarus, where he follows his father everywhere, including in full-regalia at military parades. Here’s the full story.