5 Essential Statements From Influential People Made in the Last Week

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This past week saw a host of prominent, influential world leaders take to various forms of media in order to express a range of messages. Equally as interesting as the content of their communications were the contexts in which these five men chose to speak. If there’s any truth to the notion that “how you say it is as important as what you say,” then these guys are all over the map. Still, every one of them got heard on the world stage; from Twitter to the Times, there are more ways than ever to speak out and be heard… for better or for worse.

5 Pope Francis Dishes on Doctrine to Interviewers

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If any pope can ever be called a breath of fresh air, it’s Pope Francis. Since ascending to the head of the Holy See in March, Francis has been gently easing the Catholic Church into the modern era, adopting a conciliatory tone toward people of all faiths (or even no faith) and backing away from some of the more controversial issues that have long stymied the church’s progression and development. Most recently, Francis granted an interview, the transcript of which was printed in multiple Jesuit magazines and ran more than 12,000 words, in which he spoke of a “new balance” for the church, saying: “We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods.” Preach on.

4 Iran’s Rouhani Takes Out an Op-Ed

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You have to hand it to Hassan Rouhani: the new Iranian president knows how to get heard. He penned an opinion editorial column in the Washington Post, one of the globe’s most prominent newspapers, and the piece was immediately picked up by media outlets worldwide. Rouhani was commended for speaking of peace and tolerance among nations, unlike certain other Iranian presidents we remember from the recent past. “Gone is the age of blood feuds,” he stated, adding: “World leaders are expected to lead in turning threats into opportunities.” While there is likely a larger agenda behind his words (cough-cough-Syria!) at least they are not words of war.

3 Putin Pens a Piece for the Times

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In a bold and unexpected move (the standard M.O. for this guy), Russian president Vladimir Putin took his case for western restraint in Syria to the court of public opinion by recently running an op-ed piece in the New York Times. He made no bones about his motivation or his intended audience, opening with the lines: “Recent events surrounding Syria have prompted me to speak directly to the American people and their political leaders. It is important to do so at a time of insufficient communication between our societies.” He went on to pretty much say America’s approach to the conflict was wrong and risked “throw[ing] the entire system of international law and order out of balance.” And who would that leave squaring off against us, Mr. Putin? Oh right…

2 McCain Fires Back in Pravda

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John McCain has never been one to hold his tongue, and he apparently didn’t feel like holding his pen, either. Shortly after publication of Vladimir Putin’s longwinded opinion piece criticizing America’s approach to the Syrian crisis, McCain wrote a fiery response for the Russian news outlet Pravda. In the piece, McCain directly attacked Putin myriad times, saying Putin “has made [Russia] a friend to tyrants and an enemy to the oppressed and untrusted by nations that seek to build a safer, more peaceful and prosperous world” and “Putin rules by corruption, repression and violence. He rules for himself, not [the Russian people].”

1 Assad Threatens Assault via Charlie Rose

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Fortunately, it already looks like diplomacy may rule the day in Syria, at least as far as the international community’s involvement there, because in mid-September, it looked like things were about to get really ugly. When asked by veteran correspondent what his military would do in retaliation to an airstrike (meant as retaliation for his regime’s use of chemical weapons), Assad ominously replied: “You should expect everything… expect every action, [and] not necessarily from the government.” In other words he said his regime, in collusion with terrorists, would make it their business to make Americans and allies pay with blood.

It’s been a pretty swingin’ papacy so far. See the Top5 Ways Pope Francis is attracting people to the Catholic church.

Vladimir Putin took a serious tone with his Op-Ed, but we commemorated his 5 Most Outrageous Moments here.

Steven John is a published novelist and competitive pole vault champion. (The latter is not true.) His writing runs the gamut from speculative fiction to essays fueled by a mix of mirth and derision. He has never been to Lisbon but, statistically speaking, is probably taller than you.

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