HAARETZ (Israel), WAFA (Palestine), REUTERS, AP

Worldcrunch

RAMALLAH – Barack Obama arrived Thursday in Ramallah in the West Bank to meet with Palestinian leaders, on the second day of his visit to the Middle East.

The U.S. President met with President of the Palestinian National Authority Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah’s presidential headquarters to emphasize the importance of reaching an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal, a message AP says was underscored when Palestinian militants in Gaza launched two rockets into southern Israel.

Obama was still in Jerusalem, some 80 kilometers away from the border town of Sderot where one of the rockets exploded in the courtyard of a house early in the morning, causing damage but no injuries; the other rocket landed in an open field, Reuters reports.

"We condemn violence against civilians regardless of its source, including rocket firing," Abbas was quoted as saying by the official Palestinian news agency Wafa.

The second leg of Obama’s four-day Mideast tour started more calmly with a visit to the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, where he saw the Dead Sea Scrolls, accompanied by Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Haaretz reports.

After his meeting with Abbas, Obama will attend a cultural event at Al-Bireh Youth Center and will meet with Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Fayyad. He will then give a speech at the Jerusalem Convention Center, before attending a dinner hosted by Israeli President Peres where he will receive the Presidential Medal of Distinction.

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Geopolitics

Putin Psychology 101: The World Tries To Get Inside Russian Leader’s Head

Experts in geopolitics and the workings of world leaders have accelerated a two-decade long quest to understand the motivations of the enigmatic man in the Kremlin.

Vladimir Putin during the president's annual press conference in Russia

Kremlin.ru
Anna Akage

PARISVladimir Putin’s origin story, fed by Russian propaganda into the Western media, centers around his rise to lead Russia after a strategic KGB posting in the closing years of the Cold War. Understanding his current geopolitical ambitions would thus require that we imagine the mindset of a Soviet spymaster ready to manipulate world politics for the past two decades as he attempts to build a new Russian empire.

But what if Putin was nothing more than a desk clerk in his late 1980s posting in the eastern German city of Dresden? If the young functionary was simply a convenient tool plucked by the circle of oligarchs formed around then Russian president Boris Yeltsin to secure their own status? That indeed is the reading from influential Russian blogger and political analyst Maxim Katz, who last year exposed recently declassified documents that Putin was a minor player who went by the codename of “Moth” — not a bear or tiger, or even a hamster!

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