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American Resistance To Empire

Al-Nusra Murders Dozens of Free Syrian Army Rebels, Taking Base 46 West of Aleppo

Dozens dead as Nusra takes US-backed Syria rebel base: activists

daily star LEB

People inspect the damage at a site hit by what residents said were two mortar shells fired by rebel fighters towards Aleppo’s al-Azizieh neighborhood, a government-controlled area February 26, 2015. REUTERS/George Ourfalian
Agence France Presse

BEIRUT: Al-Qaeda’s Syria affiliate on Saturday drove U.S.-backed rebels out of a strategic northern military base in fierce fighting that left dozens dead, activists said.

At least 29 fighters from the Western-armed Hazm movement were killed along with six Nusra Front jihadis, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

It said fierce fighting had broken out on Friday night for Base 46, west of the city of Aleppo.

“Al-Nusra captured Base 46,” said Rami Abdel Rahman, director of the Britain-based Observatory.

Base 46 is a sprawling military compound that rebel fighters seized in November 2012 from Syrian army troops.

In a statement, residents in the nearby rebel-held village of Atareb criticised the attack on the base and appealed to Nusra to instead fight the “infidel regime and its allies.”

The offensive came a month after Nusra — Al-Qaeda’s official affiliate in Syria — expelled Hazm from Regiment 111, another base they had taken from Syrian army forces.

Hazm is mainly present in northern Syria. Last year, it was the first to receive U.S.-made anti-tank missiles from its Western backers.

It is one of a number rebel groups that the United States classes as “moderate.” They are loosely branded as the Free Syrian Army.

Someone Is Trying To Use Nemptsov’s Killing To Jumpstart A New Revolution In Moscow

[(SEE:  Opposition politician Boris Nemtsov killed in the center of Moscow) What did it take for American news outlets to jump to this way too obvious conclusion, 5 or 6 hours? (SEE:  West Calls On Russia For Independent Probe Of Nemtsov’s Murder)]

Russian investigators: Nemtsov killing may be provocation

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By JIM HEINTZ Associated Press

Russian police investigate the the body of Boris Nemtsov, a former Russian deputy prime minister and opposition leader at Red Square with St. Basil Cathidral in the background in Moscow, Russia, Saturday, Feb. 28, 2015. Russia's Interior Ministry says Boris Nemtsov, a leading opposition figure and former deputy prime minister, has been shot and killed near the Kremlin. Nemtsov, a sharp critic of President Vladimir Putin, was killed early Saturday. His death comes just a day before a major opposition rally in Moscow.(AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)
Russian police investigate the the body of Boris Nemtsov, a former Russian deputy prime minister and opposition leader at Red Square with St. Basil Cathidral in the background in Moscow, Russia, Saturday, Feb. 28, 2015. Russia’s Interior Ministry says Boris Nemtsov, a leading opposition figure and former deputy prime minister, has been shot and killed near the Kremlin. Nemtsov, a sharp critic of President Vladimir Putin, was killed early Saturday. His death comes just a day before a major opposition rally in Moscow.(AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin) The Associated Press

 

MOSCOW (AP) — Russia’s top investigative body says it is looking into several possible motives for the killing of prominent opposition figure Boris Nemtsov, including an attempt to destabilize the state, Islamic extremism, the Ukraine conflict and his personal life.

A statement from the body, the Investigative Committee, did not address the possibility seen as likely by many of Nemtsov’s supporters — that he was killed for being one of President Vladimir Putin’s most adamant and visible critics.

The 55-year-old Nemtsov was gunned down early Saturday as he walked on a bridge near the Kremlin with a female companion.

The committee said it was looking into whether he had been killed as a “sacrificial victim for those who do not shun any method for achieving their political goals.”

French Lawmaker–Assad Decries ‘Isolation’ in Face of Extremism

French Lawmaker: Assad Decries ‘Isolation’ in Face of Extremism

naharnet

W460

Syrian leader Bashar Assad no longer wants to “remain isolated in the face of the terrorist threat”, one of the French lawmakers who met him in Damascus on a much-decried private trip said Friday.

Senator Francois Zocchetto was one of several lawmakers who travelled to the Syrian capital and met with high-ranking officials including Assad on Wednesday.

The visit drew an angry response from the French government, which cut diplomatic ties with Damascus in 2012.

“Bashar Assad is reserved, he does not easily confide in people,” Zocchetto told Radio Classique.

“He said he expected to no longer remain isolated in the face of the terrorist threat.”

The trip was feted by Syrian media as reflecting rising sentiment within Western countries that their governments should re-engage with Assad to try and resolve the four-year conflict and rein in the radical Islamic State (IS) group, which controls swathes of the country.

But both French President Francois Hollande and Prime Minister Manuel Valls condemned the lawmakers’ talks with Assad, whom they described as a “dictator” and “butcher.”

“(They) have taken it upon themselves to meet with a dictator who is the cause of one of the worst civil wars of recent years,” Hollande told reporters during a visit to the Philippines.

Zocchetto said both the head of the Senate and its foreign affairs commission were made aware of the private trip.

He added that one of the other lawmakers on the visit — Gerard Bapt from the ruling Socialist party, who did not attend the talks with Assad — had also informed the presidency and the foreign ministry.

“We do not carry an official message from the French government,” Zocchetto said.

“It’s hard to say that we want to fight against terrorism in France and ignore what is going on in Syria.

“This secular state could disappear tomorrow… because right now there is no longer any moderate Syrian opposition.”

Opposition politician Boris Nemtsov killed in the center of Moscow

Opposition politician Boris Nemtsov killed in the center of Moscow

Russia-Today

Boris Nemtsov (RIA Novosti / Ruslan Krivobok)

Boris Nemtsov (RIA Novosti / Ruslan Krivobok)

Famous Russian politician Boris Nemtsov has been shot dead in the center of Moscow, according to Tass news agency.

“Boris Nemtsov was shot four times in the center of Moscow at Vasilyevsky spusk. Investigation team is working at the scene,” Tass reports siting police sources.

Nemtsov’s colleague has confirmed his death.

 

 

writing off postcommunist reforms as a failure would be a mistake

The eastern question

khaleej times-logo-s

Jonathan Power (Power’s World) / 26 February 2015

East Europeans are nostalgic as Ukraine slumps into anarchy

 

Economically Ukraine continues to go down the chute. No other East European has messed up its economic potential, as has Ukraine. During Soviet times Ukraine with its industrial prowess and wonderful fertile soil, making it the Soviet Union’s breadbasket, was a success (by communist standards). Now 25 years of political upheaval, economic mismanagement and greed by the oligarchs have taken a dreadful tool on living standards. The stoicism of ordinary people is to be wondered at. One reason why many easterners want to return to Russia is because they think they will have higher living standards.

In “Normal Countries,” in the December, 2014, issue of Foreign Affairs, Andrei Shleifer, a professor of economics at Harvard and Daniel Treisman, a professor of political science at the University of California, presented an analysis of what went right in the other East European countries, and, a for a time, in Russia under President Vladimir Putin. They write: “The East European countries have transformed their militarised, over industrialised and state-dominated systems into service-orientated market economies based on private ownership and integrated into global commercial networks.

No longer distorted to fit Marxist blueprints, their economic institutions, trade, and regulatory environments today look much like those of other countries at similar income levels. These changes notwithstanding, observers often blame post-communist reforms for poor economic performance, Two common charges are that the reforms were fundamentally misconceived and that they were implemented in too radical a fashion. Such criticism raises two questions: first whether the states’ economic performance has indeed been poor, and second, whether more radical strategies resulted in worse outcomes than more gradual approaches. The short answer to both questions is no.”

There was well-publicised economic slump after communist rule was ended but half of it reflected cuts in fictitious output or worthless investments. And it didn’t take more than a handful of years for economic growth to buzz. For example, between 1990 and 2011, the median income in Uzbekistan expanded slightly more than the median income elsewhere in the world. Bosnia had the third-highest growth rate in the world — its national income increased by 450 per cent. Poland, Albania, as well as Bosnia, outpaced the traditional growth engines of Hong Kong and Singapore.

The rise in consumption took off. From 1990 to 2011 household consumption per capita in the region grew on average by 88 per cent, compared with the average increase elsewhere in the world of 56 per cent. In Poland, it was 146 per cent, the same as South Korea’s. In Russia the increase was 100 per cent.

Between 1993 and 2011 car ownership in Eastern Europe climbed from one for every ten people to one for every four.

Mobile phone subscriptions per head are today greater than those in Western countries. Living space — mainly larger apartments — has increased per person, expanding by 100 per cent in the Czech Republic, 85 per cent in Armenia and 40 per cent in Russia. University enrolments have increased significantly.

Poverty and income equality did increase in the immediate post-communist years but today the rates are now lower than in those countries with similar income levels.

Infant mortality has fallen faster than any other region in the world. While it is true that the alcohol consumption rates are too high in Russia and the Baltic states they are not as high as in France, Austria, Germany and Ireland.

When it comes to demilitarisation, the Soviet Union in Cold War years spent 25 per cent of its GDP on armaments. The successor states are spending no more than five per cent — and that includes Russia.

A note of caution about the statistics above. Some are averages and don’t show, for example, that while Poland has doubled its income Tajikistan remains war-scarred and is a very poor dictatorship.

It is true that the aggressive reforms that put an end to Soviet-style economic management did result in falling incomes and rising unemployment. But by the mid 1990s countries that had fully embraced serious reforms were doing much better than those who were more cautious (and perhaps, we shouldn’t forget, more caring of the poor- the communists were good at providing universal health services).

Most of this grand achievement is not well known in Western Europe and North America but there it is — the honest truth.

 

Jonathan Power is a veteran foreign affairs analyst

 

Putin Meets Obama’s Hybrid Warfare “Fire” With Fire of His Own In Ukraine

[Now that Putin has adapted Western guerilla warfare tactics to his side’s PsyWar strategy, he has acquired a very effective resistance strategy, to which the Western psy-warriors have not yet devised a solution.  Putin is teaching Obama in Ukraine, that there is no strategy which cannot be countered.  Empty threats of intensifying PsyWar pressure with “overwhelming” force, or assorted economic pressures (even though they cannot be sustained) have, in the past, tipped the scales against Russia.  Russian nuclear modernization has become a trump card, preventing credible American bullying as in the past, beyond that made possible by supportive allies, who are willing to risk nuclear war over Ukraine.  If Putin and his powerful foreign allies remain resolute in their resistance to American hegemony in all its manifestations, then the Ukraine stand-off will end in stand-off, even if Obama does take it all the way “to the mat” with this one.]

Hybrid war: The real reason fighting stopped in Ukraine – for now

Reuters

By Fiona Hill

A man pushes a wheelbarrow past a house damaged by fighting in the town of Debaltseve

President Vladimir Putin understands how insurgencies work better than any other Russian leader. We are watching this play out right now in Ukraine.

Before Putin took power, Moscow had long struggled to suppress rebel movements. In the 1980s, for example, the Soviet Union grappled with the Muslim mujahedeen in Afghanistan. Moscow propped up the beleaguered Kabul government with an invasion and occupation — to little avail. After 10 years of grueling conflict, Moscow withdrew, just as the Soviet Union fell apart. A few years later, rebels inflicted another serious blow against the Russian military, in the Russian province of Chechnya. Chechen militants launched attacks deep into Russia. The Kremlin again withdrew its forces and essentially sued for peace.

Until Putin took the helm.

Putin succeeded where others had failed because he was skilled at fighting dirty. As a former KGB operative, he fused together intelligence and military measures. In Chechnya he relentlessly pursued the rebels, often using undercover operations that adopted terrorist tactics, until one Chechen leader switched sides and helped him defeat the rebels.

A Russian flag flutters on top of a separatist self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic army armoured personnel carrier as it drives through the town of Vuhlehirsk

Now in Ukraine, Putin has turned the tables. He is with the insurgents, not the government. Putin is to Kiev what the mujahedeen and the Chechens were to Kabul and Moscow, respectively. Given Russia’s own simmering national minority troubles and territorial disputes, the Russian president is taking a huge risk in backing an armed rebellion in a neighboring country.

But the risk is well calculated because the stakes are high. Putin has a great deal riding on this.

He firmly believes, as he has laid out in many statements, that the battle for the Donbass region of eastern Ukraine is a proxy war with the West. The United States and Europe seek to weaken Russia, Putin’s argument goes, by pulling a key Russian ally, Ukraine, into their sphere of influence. Putin’s goal is to deny Kiev the chance of associating with the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

In Putin’s view, the West stoked regime change in Kiev in February 2014 for the same reasons that the United States supported the mujahedeen in Afghanistan in the 1980s — to undermine Moscow’s authority throughout the region. Putin also asserts that the West aided and abetted the Chechens throughout the 1990s and into the 2000s to destabilize the Russian Federation. So according to Putin’s logic, Afghanistan was the West’s proxy war with the Soviet Union. Ukraine is the West’s proxy war with Russia.

This being a proxy war, Putin is intent on helping the side that best serves Russia’s interests. In this case, that side is the “armed formations,” as the February Minsk agreement describes them,  of Ukraine’s Donetsk and Lugansk regions.

Russian President Vladimir Putin looks on during a meeting with Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades at the Novo-Ogaryovo state residence outside Moscow

Putin, of course, denies that Russians are fighting with the Donbass rebels. Kremlin officials insist this is a civil war between Ukraine and people who reject the new Kiev government. Putin does admit, though, that many Russian volunteers have joined the rebels, including “vacationing” soldiers. Yet Putin has also claimed that Kiev is being supported by “NATO’s foreign legion” and U.S. arms.

The Minsk agreement refers to the presence of “foreign armed formations, military technology, and likewise mercenaries” in Ukraine, without specifying their origin. The denials and the voluntary nature of the external involvement are all hallmarks of a civil war centered on an insurgency.

Having fought off an insurgency himself, Putin knows a thing or two about insurgents’ methods. Putin and the Russian military have incorporated these tactics into a larger strategy of 21st-century hybrid war. Valery Gerasimov, chief of staff of the Russian armed forces, rolled this out in a January 2013 speech. He announced the Russian military would engage in a “new kind of war” fought with “nonmilitary methods to achieve political and strategic goals.”

These methods, Gerasimov explained, would involve fomenting popular protests, using covert military measures and deploying special operations forces, often under the guise of peacekeeping or crisis management. Such tactics, Gerasimov insisted, had been used by the United States for decades. Now Russia would fight back in the same way.

Because of what Putin perceives as an asymmetry of military capabilities and economic strength between Russia and the United States and its Western allies, he feels Russia has to be more aggressive and smarter than its opponents in fighting this new kind of war. This asymmetric, hybrid war, Gerasimov noted, requires “the close coordination of military, intelligence and information operations.”

Russia’s military intelligence, the GRU, and the Federal Security Service have been at the forefront of operations in Crimea and eastern Ukraine, as many observers have noted. Russian diplomats and media have helped to maintain a coordinated information-support campaign to persuade domestic and foreign audiences of “the futility of [exerting] any forms of pressure on the Russian Federation and its allies.” Gerasimov, in another speech in February 2014, explained that this was also a goal of hybrid warfare.

A man waits for a convoy of mobile artillery cannons of the separatist self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic army to start pulling back from Donetsk

Putin and the Russian military hierarchy have been remarkably open in describing how the Kremlin is using the war in Ukraine as a giant training exercise for conducting a hybrid war. While the rebels have directly engaged the Ukrainian army in the Donbass, the Russian military has been engaged in training exercises just inside Russian territory. These exercises include the use of space, missile and nuclear forces, special forces and conventional military units, and psychological operations teams and political operatives.

They have pulled in all branches of Russia military and security services, as well as the civilian leadership. The exercises have been covered widely in the Russian media and on Moscow’s official websites. In a May 2014 announcement, for example, the Kremlin stated, somewhat cryptically, that Putin was overseeing these giant war games “in operational mode.”

So where are we now in this giant war game? On Feb. 24, we appeared to enter what Moscow might term a “political-diplomatic phase.” This was the first full day without casualties since the Feb. 12 Minsk agreement. As Gerasimov asserted in his speeches, the goal of an asymmetric hybrid war is to achieve objectives without launching a full-blown conventional military war. Hybrid war has many weapons and many ways of fighting.

Diplomacy can be one of them. In late January, the United States government debated whether to send arms to the Ukrainian military. The intent was clearly to push Putin from covert to overt support of the rebels — and into a conventional war. Instead, however, Putin was able to push the U.S. debate into the background by plunging into diplomatic negotiations with the Ukrainian president, the German chancellor and the French president — which ultimately resulted in the second Minsk agreement.

The agreement, in spite of its references to foreign fighters, maintains Russia’s position that the war in Ukraine is between Kiev and the Donbass “armed formations.” The arrangement also provided enough diplomatic cover for the rebels to rout the Ukrainian army from the town of Debaltseve, a railway hub that connects Donetsk and Luhansk.

The timing and wording of the agreement’s provisions that Putin directly hammered out provided sufficient strategic ambiguity for the rebels to press their advantage. As Gerasimov noted a year ago, “political-diplomatic and foreign economic measures … are … closely interconnected with military, information, and other measures.”

Now that the rebels have consolidated their area of control, one operational phase of the game seems to have concluded. Putin bought time for the rebels to take Debaltseve. With the rebels having secured a position of strength on the ground, the ceasefire can now be enforced.

In the next phase, Putin and the rebels will likely regroup. They will pocket whatever concessions they can take from Kiev. They will then likely reassess what they need to do militarily, politically and economically in the next phases of the proxy hybrid war to maintain pressure on Ukraine and the West.

This sort of tactical maneuvering is something Putin learned in the KGB. As circumstances change, you step back and see how everyone else reacts. You have to be willing to adapt and have a range of  backup plans to keep one step ahead of your adversaries.

If the military part of an operation runs into a problem, for example, try another approach. If diplomatic efforts don’t bear the fruit you want, look elsewhere. You just have to be willing to use all methods available — and be ruthless to achieve your goals.

China’s Ambassador To Belgium Blames Ukraine Crisis On Big Powers Playing Games

qu xingInterview: Chinese diplomat calls powers’ game root cause of Ukraine crisis

Xinhua net

BRUSSELS, Feb. 26 (Xinhua) — A senior Chinese diplomat has said that the nature and root cause of Ukraine crisis was the game between Russia and western powers, including the United States and the European Union.

“There were internal and external reasons for the Ukraine crisis. Originally, the issue stemmed from Ukraine’s internal problems, but it now was not a simple internal matter. Without external intervention from different powers, the Ukrainian problem would not develop into the serious crisis as it be,” Chinese Ambassador to Belgium Qu Xing told Xinhua in a recent interview.

POWERS’ GAME ROOT TO UKRAINE CRISIS

Qu said that from the perspective of Ukraine’s internal affairs, the eastern and western regions in Ukraine differed in culture, ethnic groups, understanding of history, and social and economic development, so the relationship between the two parts had long been affected by external forces.

Moreover, in recent years, as Ukraine underwent repeated changes of regime, politicians focused more on partisan struggle rather than improving people’s livelihood. Thereby weak economy and severe corruption further intensified internal contradictions.

Qu noted that Russia would felt anxious that the West may squeeze its geographical space by extending influence in eastern European countries including Ukraine.

In addition, Qu said that the involvement of the United States in Ukraine crisis would become a distraction in its foreign policy, including its “re-balancing strategy”.

“The United States is unwilling to see its presence in any part of the world being weakened, but the fact is its resources are limited, and it will be to some extent a hard work to sustain its influence in external affairs, ” Qu said.

TO RETHINK CONCEPTS IN GLOBAL AFFAIRS

“The major powers need to seek a win-win situation rather than zero-sum security,” Qu said, pointing out that countries needed to rethink the concepts in international affairs and learn a lesson from the Ukraine crisis.

He said for the West’s own part, although its military strength had been comparatively powerful, it still felt no absolute security with taking continuous steps to cement security, including moves to enhance the global distribution of ballistic missile defense systems.

An example of west powers’ high sensitivity about their own security could be that the United States had a national security review system for foreign investors’ mergers and acquisition activities in the United States. But its definition of “national security” was not clear enough and the process of the review should be more transparent to the public, Qu said.

If a country is highly sensitive to its own security, while ignoring other countries’ basic security needs and concerns, it will cause lots of problems, and the phenomenon would be a serious issue in nowadays international society. If this problem cannot be solved, the Ukraine issue and some other similar global problems would not be solved, he said.

If the western powers do not have the same acknowledgment of Russia’s security concerns and security needs, Russia will feel that it has not been equally treated by the West, and its security interests and development interests have not been respected by the West, he said.

“The West should abandon the zero-sum mentality, and take the real security concerns of Russia into consideration,” said Qu.

Against the backdrop of the Ukraine crisis, the international community must re-think over the concepts of international relations. Major powers must get along with each other following the principle of equality, cooperation, and mutual benefits and trust, so as to realize win-win situation in the global scenario, he said.

EU MORE PRAGMATIC THAN US OVER UKRAINE ISSUE

As to the U.S. and Europe’s stance on the issue of Ukraine, Qu said the United States and Europe essentially had the same strategy, but their tactics were different, as their geopolitical interests were different, said Qu.

As Ukraine and Europe share geopolitical proximity, Ukraine’s chaos will definitely cause instability in Europe. Also, the EU had energy dependence on Russia. Therefore, the EU held more pragmatic attitudes than the United States over the Ukraine issue, he said.

The fact that the United States did not participate in the latest round of negotiations in Minsk precisely reflected the Western parties’ concerns and tactics. On the one hand, the absence of the United States raised the negotiation leverage for European partners to force other parties to make more concession. On the other hand, this left the West further action maneuver.

“Even though a latest ceasefire agreement had been achieved, it is still possible for the Western parties to change the original decisions in the future for the excuse that the United States was not involved in the negotiations,” he said.

Qu said China hopes the Ukraine crisis could be solved in the political way. On the one hand, China and Ukraine are traditional friendly countries. China has always pursued the principles of non-interference, respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine. And on the other hand, China acknowledges that the issue involved complicated historical elements.

Editor: Tian Shaohui

Kyiv Cuts-Off Gas To Donbass…Gazprom Prepared To Restore Gas Supply

PM Medvedev orders commencement of gas deliveries to embattled Donbass

Russia-Today
Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev (RIA Novosti / Ekaterina Shtukina)

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev (RIA Novosti / Ekaterina Shtukina)

Russia’s prime minister has ordered the Energy Ministry and state-owned corporation Gazprom to prepare for natural gas deliveries to the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk Republics after the Kiev regime stopped selling fuel to the regions.

There is a problem related to natural gas deliveries, caused by the decision of Ukrainian authorities that has not yet been canceled. The situation is that natural gas is not delivered to a number of settlements,” Dmitry Medvedev told ministers at a cabinet meeting on Thursday.

I would like the Energy Ministry and Gazprom to prepare their suggestions on rendering aid to these regions in the form of natural gas supplies. Of course this will be needed only if Kiev does not take urgent measures to resume gas supplies under the usual scheme.”

In any case, people must not freeze there. Prepare the necessary suggestions and report on what is done,” Medvedev said.

Medvedev’s press secretary Natalya Timakova told Interfax that Gazprom would send natural gas to Donetsk and Lugansk “on a commercial basis,” but noted that the sources of financing were yet to be determined. The agency also quoted an unnamed source “acquainted with the situation” as saying that the possible scheme could include a bank credit.

Earlier, representatives from Donetsk and Lugansk told reporters that the natural gas supplies to the regions had been stopped without warning and that existing reserves would only last for less than a day in subzero temperatures.

Ukrainian PM Arseny Yatsenyuk announced an energy blockade to the southeastern regions in a press statement on Wednesday. He ordered the cessation of deliveries of natural gas and electricity in a unilateral step.

The prime minister of the unrecognized Lugansk People’s Republic, Gennady Tsipkalov, told Interfax that since the Ukrainian side was not commenting on the gas cutoff there was little hope that supplies would be resumed anytime soon.

They deliberately aggravate the situation, step up the political and economic pressure. They did it now, when outdoor temperatures dropped and gas consumption in our regions increased,” he added.

Tsipkalov also noted that Lugansk authorities could potentially cut off the natural gas flow to the districts of the republics that are currently controlled by the pro-Kiev military, but chose not to do so in order not to adversely affect civilians.

We will not do the same out of malice and hatred. We have had enough of all this.”

Also on Thursday, head of Russian Emergencies Ministry Vladimir Puchkov told reporters that another convoy of trucks with humanitarian aid was starting for the southeast of Ukraine in the nearest hours. The deliveries include medical supplies and food.

Renegade French Senators Meet Secretly With Assad and Hezbollah, Raising Stink-Storm Back In Paris

Four French parliamentarians met Bashar al-Assad

la nouvelle republique
Jacques Myard (UMP), Gérard Bapt (PS), Jean-Pierre Vial (UMP) et François Zocchetto (UDI) ont été reçus mercredi par le président syrien, Bachar al-Assad. - Jacques Myard (UMP), Gérard Bapt (PS), Jean-Pierre Vial (UMP) et François Zocchetto (UDI) ont été reçus mercredi par le président syrien, Bachar al-Assad. - (AFP)

Jacques Myard (UMP), Gerard Bapt (PS), Jean-Pierre Vial (UMP) and François Zocchetto (IDUs) were received Wednesday by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. – (AFP)

France has severed diplomatic relations with Damascus. However, two deputies and two senators exchanged with Syrian President Wednesday.

Ignoring the diplomatic relations since 2012 between Paris and Syria, four French parliamentarians since Tuesday in Damascus, “personal mission”, “to see what happens, hear, listen,” according to one of them, the UMP deputy Jacques Myard.

The latter, his colleague PS Gerard Bapt, and two senators, the UMP Jean-Pierre Vial and the centrist François Zocchetto were received Wednesday morning by President Bashar al-Assad in person. The day before, they had been received by the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and had dinner with the Mufti of the Republic.

France demands the departure of Syrian President

“We met with Bashar al-Assad for a good hour. It went very well, “said Jacques Myard, while refusing to specify the content of the exchanges that focused, according to Syrian television, on the state of Franco-Syrian relations and the issue of terrorism.
Paris, which closed in March 2012 its embassy in Damascus, played down the case. This meeting is a “personal initiative” and in any case a mission “official and diplomatic of France”, has developed the spokesman of the government Stéphane Le Foll. “The idea that we could find peace in Syria trusting in Bashar al-Assad and thinking he is the future of his country is an idea that I believe wrong, “reiterated Sunday, February 15 Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius.

Since the beginning of the war in Syria that killed more than 210,000 dead in four years, France is sticking to a hard line. Paris supports militarily and politically “moderate opposition” in Syria, extremely weak and fragmented, and believes that a solution to the conflict through negotiations between representatives of the opposition and the Syrian regime elements. But four years of bloody war, the failure of diplomatic efforts, especially the emergence of the jihadist Islamic State Group (EI), have undermined this strategy. And the voices calling for a resumption of contact with Damascus are becoming more insistent, in many Western countries, alarmed by the number of their nationals leaving the ranks of the IU likely to come back and carry out attacks on their own soil.

Judge Rafecas Tosses-Out Nisman Charges of Cover-Up Against President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner In Jewish Center Bombing

Federal Judge Daniel Rafecas has dismissed the accusation made by a state prosecutor that claimed President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner and top government officials conspired to cover up Iran’s alleged role in the 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish community center.

Federal Prosecutor Gerardo Pollicita is expected to appeal the decision to discontinue the investigation.

“The judge believes the minimum conditions to launch a criminal investigation have not been met, based on what the prosecutor presented,” the Judicial Information Centre (CIJ) said in a statement.

Four days before he was found dead in his apartment in the Buenos Aires City neighbourhood of Puerto Madero, AMIA special prosecutor Alberto Nisman accused President Fernández de Kirchner, Foreign Minster Héctor Timerman, lawmaker Andrés “Cuervo” Larroque and social leaders Luis D’Elía and Fernando Esteche of conducting secret negotiations to cover-up Iran’s alleged involvenment in the attack that claimed the lives of 85 people and left hundreds injured.

Pollicita later went forward with the criminal complaint, claiming Argentina would receive unspecified trade benefits from the deal.

“None of the two hypotheses of a crime put forward by prosecutor Pollicita in his writ stand up to the minimum level of scrutiny,” Rafecas wrote in his ruling today.

Iran has long denied any involvement in the AMIA attack.

Turkish Stream Project Already Underway

Turkish Stream in execution stage, says Gazprom

The project to construct a new gas pipeline with a capacity of 63 billion cubic meters from Russia to Turkey has entered the execution stage, said a written statement from Russian energy giant Gazprom.

“The gas transmission route will be laid via the Black Sea and will annually supply up to 47 billion cubic meters of gas to the Turkey-Greece border. The gas pipeline will represent an alternative export route, which, in combination with the highly-reliable Nord Stream, Blue Stream and Yamal-Europe gas pipelines, will secure the entirety of Russian gas exports beyond the CIS and make it possible to abandon the transit corridor via Ukraine,” the company said.

With a view to provide stable and well-balanced supplies of Russian gas to Europe, as well as to mitigate the risks related to transiting gas via third-party countries, the company is making “great efforts to expand the existing gas transmission routes and build up new ones,” Gazprom said.

The company noted it would also focus on supplying significant volumes of Russian pipeline gas to the Asia-Pacific region.

“Work is underway to have the resource and transmission base in place for the start of gas supplies from Russia to China via the eastern route. The agreement on Russian gas purchase and sales via the western route is being formulated,” the company said.

Gazprom also said it would build up its presence in new markets primarily by increasing its own production activity.

“We plan to construct LNG plants with a capacity of 10 million tons a year in the Leningrad Region and the Primorye Territory. We are also considering the possibility of constructing a new process train within the Sakhalin II project,” Gazprom said.

Feb 26, 2015 | DHA | İstanbul

Cyprus/Russia Sign Agreement To Allow Russian Navy Use of Cyprus Ports

Cyprus Signs Military Deal With Russia

Moscow Times

Cyprus on Wednesday signed a deal with Russia allowing its navy ships to make regular port calls on the island.

The deal with European Union member Cyprus, which also hosts British military bases, comes amid Russia-West tensions over Ukraine, the worst since Cold War times.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said after Thursday’s talks with visiting Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades that the agreement would primarily refer to Russian navy ships involved in international counter-terrorism and anti-piracy efforts. He added that military cooperation between Russia and Cyprus isn’t directed against any third party.

“Our friendly ties aren’t aimed against anyone,” Putin said. “I don’t think it should cause worries anywhere.”

Russia has sought permission for navy ships to use ports in various parts of the world to replenish supplies and undergo maintenance, deals that would allow Moscow to expand its global military presence.

Russian ships already have made port calls at Limassol, but the new agreement apparently aims to create a more solid legal basis for that.

Speaking to TASS news agency before his trip to Moscow, Anastasiades said that Cyprus and Russia were also discussing a possibility for Russian planes to use an air base near Paphos for humanitarian relief missions.

The Real Buzz About the USS Donald Cook Incident In the Black Sea

Russian Fighter Buzzes U.S. Destroyer in Black Sea

USNI News

By:

Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Donald Cook (DDG-75) transits the Dardanelles en route to the Black Sea. US Navy Photo Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Donald Cook (DDG-75) transits the Dardanelles en route to the Black Sea. US Navy Photo

A Russian fighter spent 90 minutes making low-level passes near a U.S. ballistic missile defense (BMD) guided missile destroyer on station in the Black Sea, a defense official told USNI News on Monday.

The incident occurred on Saturday when a Sukhoi SU-24 Fencer flew as close as 1,000 yards from USS Donald Cook (DDG-75) at an altitude of only 500 feet, the official said.

The fighter made up to 12 passes on the destroyer after not responding to several attempts by the ship to contact the Fencer via radio. There was a second SU-24 in the region but did not engage Cook.

“This provocative and unprofessional Russian action is inconsistent with international protocols and previous agreements on the professional interaction between our militaries,” Pentagon spokesman Col. Steve Warren told reporters on Monday.
“We’ve seen the Russians conduct themselves unprofessionally and in violation of international norms in Ukraine now for several months, and … these continued acts of provocation and unprofessionalism do nothing to help de-escalate the situation in Ukraine, which is what we’ve called on the Russians to do.”

A Russian Sukhoi SU-24 Fencer. A Russian Sukhoi SU-24 Fencer.

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   this is the culprit:

KNIRTI L175M Khibiny-M KNIRTI L175M Khibiny-M radar jamming pod

Russian Khibiny Jammer

world armed forces forum

Recently sailors on the USS Donald Cook got owned by Russians:

“Dear Mary, you can not imagine what happened . Such a shame I have ever felt in my life . Some of the children were crying like little kids, our superiors drank half a bottle of whiskey to recover from this stupid Russian Hibiya ( Russian electronic warfare system ) and the master had become green from shame . ”

Russian Khibiny EW suite

The KNIRTI L005S Sorbtsiya-S mid/high band defensive jammer is carried in wingtip pods. Unlike competing Western designs, this system uses a steerable mainlobe to maximise the Jam/Signal ratio at the threat emitter. The design uses a wideband phased array and dielectric lens arrangement (KNIRTI).

Electronic Warfare

Defensive systems in legacy and production Flankers include a Radar Warning Receiver, mostly variants of the SPO-32 / L150 Pastel digital receiver carried. The latest subtypes like the Su-35BM/Su-35-1 carry the KNIRTI L175M Khibiny M Radio Frequency Surveillance (RFS = ESM/RHAW) system, initially developed for the Su-34 Fullback. The Khibiny M is believed to use a channelised receiver and most likely employs a wideband dual baseline interferometer in the forward sector, to permit passive targeting of Kh-31P and R-27P/R-77P variants in defence suppression and air combat roles.

Newer Flankers carry the podded wingtip mounted KNIRTI SPS-171 / L005S Sorbtsiya-S mid/high band defensive jammer (ECM), this system being an evolution of a jammer developed for the Backfire C. The Sorbtsiya-S, unlike most Western jamming pods, is designed to operate in pairs and uses forward and aft looking steerable wideband phased arrays to maximise jamming effect, a similar arrangement to the Eurofighter Typhoon EWSP package. It is worth observing that the Sorbtsiya is clearly built to provide cross-eye jamming modes against monopulse threats, and the wideband mainlobe steering capability provided by the phased array permits best possible utilisation of available jamming power. A graded dielectric lens is employed. Russian contractors have been recently using Digital RF Memory (DRFM) technology, which is of the same generation as the US IDECM EWSP, and competing Israeli systems.

The most recent defensive jamming equipment to be offered on Flanker variants is the new KNIRTI SAP-518 wingtip jamming pod, displayed at MAKS 2009. Concurrently KNIRTI displayed a high power support jamming pod, the SAP-14, intended for centreline carriage on a large pylon. To date little has been disclosed on these pod designs, which are likely to retain the wideband phased array / lens antenna system first used on the Sorbstiya.

 

 

 

Obama, The Devil, Is Luring the World Over the Nuclear Threshold In Ukraine

Peter Chamberlin

So many of us are still so childlike in our belief in “America,” the ideal, that we continue to sit in silent awe on the sidelines, waiting for someone, anyone, to explain to us how it is that our America consistently produces presidents who eagerly tear through the world like bulls in china shops, destroying heirloom governments without hesitation, in their zeal to create new, subservient mini-states.

Did George Washington and Abraham Lincoln have similar war ambitions?  Would they have exported war and instigated artificial revolutions to destroy nations, in order to control their energy markets (SEE: Cold War-style confrontation between US and Russia focuses on energy rather than military)?

Would the founding fathers have admired Obama and Bush as they have so outrageously used and abused the nearly sancrosanct ideals of Democracy and “human rights,” using them as “war-bait” (a set-up for war) for luring unhappy, but unwarring nations onto the path of destruction?

There was no war in Iraq, nor in Yemen, in Syria, Lebanon, Libya, nor in Ukraine, before Bush and Obama created them from thin air and unstable populations.  Were these “Noble Acts” on America’s part?

Do you think the citizens of those countries, who participated in Obama’s insurrections regret their actions?

Is there more or less terrorism in those countries now, or in the world in general, than there was before American hands created all of these conflicts?

By trusting the world into American hands all of these years, the world has been put into a very bad, very dangerous position.  All national economies, except for those of the OPEC countries, have been run into the ground, with most of the world operating solely upon the power of inflation and pure speculation.  The power of imagination can only get you so far, before someone has to stop and take stock of the reality of the situation.  You can see that reflection being expressed today by regretful diplomats and spies, like former US Ambassador to Syria, Robert Ford, who once served as Obama’s regime-change ax-man, only to recently denounce those policies as “singularly unsuccessful.”

Those faulty policies are still in place, still doing more damage, still pushing and prodding to turn Syria into some type of regional war.  Escalation of existing hostilities in either Syria or Libya will endanger and damage Europe, just as it would the entire Middle East.  The flow of refugees from the burgeoning war zones emptying into Europe would quickly turn into floods, or tsunamis of starving, dark-skinned refugees, into a weary, frightened, white European populace (SEE: THE CAMP OF THE SAINTS).

Why is it that American forces cannot stop chasing the rabbit of terrorism all over the globe for just a short while, long enough to give all of us a chance to catch our breath?  Why must the US Congress hurriedly pass another war authorization for an entirely new war against ISIS (which we helped the Arabs to create)?  What is it about Barack Obama which compels him to seek, or to create new conflicts wherever American forces can demonstrate their superiority over all other forces?

For those with eyes to see, it is plain to see that Obama is pushing one European country after another into dispute with Russia, with the intention of forcing Putin’s hand and pushing Russia into open warfare with its former satellite nations.  This is being done with obvious malice, under a design which risks igniting nuclear war in Europe, which could never be contained just to Europe and Russia.

Obama is gambling with all of our lives, risking nuclear war over oil, nuclear and natural gas markets…and that is really all that ALL OF THIS is about…Who will provide the gas to heat European homes…who will supply nuclear power to light European homes.

Using national armies to sieze markets is a crime against humanity…Supporting the use of national armies to seize energy markets is a moral sin against our species and our Creator.

peter.chamberlin@hotmail.com

 

Playing Nuclear Chicken in Kiev

Playing Nuclear Chicken in Kiev

pacificfreepress

by Robert Parry – Consortium News

Ready for Nuclear War over Ukraine?

Nazi symbols on helmets worn by members of 

Ukraine’s Azov battalion. (As filmed by a 
Norwegian film crew and shown on German TV.)
A senior Ukrainian official is urging the West to risk a nuclear conflagration in support of a “full-scale war” with Russia that he says authorities in Kiev are now seeking, another sign of the extremism that pervades the year-old, U.S.-backed regime in Kiev.
During a recent visit to Canada, Ukraine’s Deputy Foreign Minister Vadym Prystaiko told CBC Radio that “Everybody is afraid of fighting with a nuclear state. We are not anymore, in Ukraine — we’ve lost so many people of ours, we’ve lost so much of our territory.”
Prystaiko added, “However dangerous it sounds, we have to stop [Russian President Vladimir Putin] somehow. For the sake of the Russian nation as well, not just for the Ukrainians and Europe.” The deputy foreign minister announced that Kiev is preparing for “full-scale war” against Russia and wants the West to supply lethal weapons and training so the fight can be taken to Russia.
“What we expect from the world is that the world will stiffen up in the spine a little,” Prystaiko said.
Yet, what is perhaps most remarkable about Prystaiko’s “Dr. Strangelove” moment is that it produced almost no reaction in the West. You have a senior Ukrainian official saying that the world should risk nuclear war over a civil conflict in Ukraine between its west, which favors closer ties to Europe, and its east, which wants to maintain its historic relationship with Russia.
Why should such a pedestrian dispute justify the possibility of vaporizing millions of human beings and conceivably ending life on the planet? Yet, instead of working out a plan for a federalized structure in Ukraine or even allowing people in the east to vote on whether they want to remain under the control of the Kiev regime, the world is supposed to risk nuclear annihilation.
But therein lies one of the under-reported stories of the Ukraine crisis: There is a madness to the Kiev regime that the West doesn’t want to recognize because to do so would upend the dominant narrative of “our” good guys vs. Russia’s bad guys. If we begin to notice that the right-wing regime in Kiev is crazy and brutal, we might also start questioning the “Russian aggression” mantra.
According to the Western “group think,” the post-coup Ukrainian government “shares our values” by favoring democracy and modernity, while the rebellious ethnic Russians in eastern Ukraine are “Moscow’s minions” representing dark forces of backwardness and violence, personified by Russia’s “irrational” President Putin. In this view, the conflict is a clash between the forces of good and evil where there is no space for compromise.
Yet, there is a craziness to this “group think” that is highlighted by Prystaiko’s comments. Not only does the Kiev regime display a cavalier attitude about dragging the world into a nuclear catastrophe but it also has deployed armed neo-Nazis and other right-wing extremists to wage a dirty war in the east that has involved torture and death-squad activities.

Not Since Adolf Hitler

No European government, since Adolf Hitler’s Germany, has seen fit to dispatch Nazi storm troopers to wage war on a domestic population, but the Kiev regime has and has done so knowingly. Yet, across the West’s media/political spectrum, there has been a studious effort to cover up this reality, even to the point of ignoring facts that have been well established.

The New York Times and the Washington Post have spearheaded this journalistic malfeasance by putting on blinders so as not to see Ukraine’s neo-Nazis, such as when describing the key role played by the Azov battalion in the war against ethnic Russians in the east.
On Feb. 20, in a report from Mariupol, the Post cited the Azov battalion’s importance in defending the port city against a possible rebel offensive. Correspondent Karoun Demirjian wrote:
“Petro Guk, the commander of the Azov battalion’s reinforcement operations in Mariupol, said in an interview that the battalion is ‘getting ready for’ street-to-street combat in the city. The Azov battalion, now a regiment in the Ukrainian army, is known as one of the fiercest fighting forces­ in the pro-Kiev operation.
“But … it has pulled away from the front lines on a scheduled rest-and-retraining rotation, Guk said, leaving the Ukrainian army — a less capable force, in his opinion — in its place. His advice to residents of Mariupol is to get ready for the worst.
“‘If it is your home, you should be ready to fight for it, and accept that if the fight is for your home, you must defend it,’ he said, when asked whether residents should prepare to leave. Some are ready to heed that call, as a matter of patriotic duty.”
The Post’s stirring words fit with the Western media’s insistent narrative and its refusal to include meaningful background about the Azov battalion, which is known for marching under Nazi banners, displaying the Swastika and painting SS symbols on its helmets.
The New York Times filed a similarly disingenuous article from Mariupol on Feb. 11, depicting the ethnic Russian rebels as barbarians at the gate with the Azov battalion defending civilization. Though providing much color and detail – and quoting an Azov leader prominently – the Times left out the salient and well-known fact that the Azov battalion is composed of neo-Nazis.
But this inconvenient truth – that neo-Nazis have been central to Kiev’s “self-defense forces” from last February’s coup to the present – would disrupt the desired propaganda message to American readers. So the New York Times just ignores the Nazism and refers to Azov as a “volunteer unit.”
Yet, this glaring omission is prima facie proof of journalistic bias. There’s no way that the editors of the Post and Times don’t know that the presence of neo-Nazis is newsworthy. Indeed, there’s a powerful irony in this portrayal of Nazis as the bulwark of Western civilization against the Russian hordes from the East. It was, after all, the Russians who broke the back of Nazism in World War II as Hitler sought to subjugate Europe and destroy Western civilization as we know it.
That the Nazis are now being depicted as defenders of Western ideals has to be the ultimate man-bites-dog story. But it goes essentially unreported in the New York Times and Washington Post as does the inconvenient presence of other Nazis holding prominent positions in the post-coup regime, including Andriy Parubiy, who was the military commander of the Maidan protests and served as the first national security chief of the Kiev regime. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “Ukraine, Through the US Looking Glass.”]

The Nazi Reality

Regarding the Azov battalion, the Post and Times have sought to bury the Nazi reality, but both have also acknowledged it in passing. For instance, on Aug. 10, 2014, a Times’ article mentioned the neo-Nazi nature of the Azov battalion in the last three paragraphs of a lengthy story on another topic.

“The fighting for Donetsk has taken on a lethal pattern: The regular army bombards separatist positions from afar, followed by chaotic, violent assaults by some of the half-dozen or so paramilitary groups surrounding Donetsk who are willing to plunge into urban combat,” the Times reported.

“Officials in Kiev say the militias and the army coordinate their actions, but the militias, which count about 7,000 fighters, are angry and, at times, uncontrollable. One known as Azov, which took over the village of Marinka, flies a neo-Nazi symbol resembling a Swastika as its flag.” [See Consortiumnews.com’s “NYT Whites Out Ukraine’s Brownshirts.”]Similarly, the Post published a lead story last Sept. 12 describing the Azov battalion in flattering terms, saving for the last three paragraphs the problematic reality that the fighters are fond of displaying the Swastika:

“In one room, a recruit had emblazoned a swastika above his bed. But Kirt [a platoon leader] … dismissed questions of ideology, saying that the volunteers — many of them still teenagers — embrace symbols and espouse extremist notions as part of some kind of ‘romantic’ idea.”
Other news organizations have been more forthright about this Nazi reality. For instance, the conservative London Telegraph published an article by correspondent Tom Parfitt, who wrote: “Kiev’s use of volunteer paramilitaries to stamp out the Russian-backed Donetsk and Luhansk ‘people’s republics’… should send a shiver down Europe’s spine.
“Recently formed battalions such as Donbas, Dnipro and Azov, with several thousand men under their command, are officially under the control of the interior ministry but their financing is murky, their training inadequate and their ideology often alarming. The Azov men use the neo-Nazi Wolfsangel (Wolf’s Hook) symbol on their banner and members of the battalion are openly white supremacists, or anti-Semites.”
Based on interviews with militia members, the Telegraph reported that some of the fighters doubted the Holocaust, expressed admiration for Hitler and acknowledged that they are indeed Nazis.
Andriy Biletsky, the Azov commander, “is also head of an extremist Ukrainian group called the Social National Assembly,” according to the Telegraph article which quoted a commentary by Biletsky as declaring: “The historic mission of our nation in this critical moment is to lead the White Races of the world in a final crusade for their survival. A crusade against the Semite-led Untermenschen.”
The Telegraph questioned Ukrainian authorities in Kiev who acknowledged that they were aware of the extremist ideologies of some militias but insisted that the higher priority was having troops who were strongly motivated to fight.
Azov fighters even emblazon the Swastika and the SS insignia on their helmets. NBC News reported: “Germans were confronted with images of their country’s dark past … when German public broadcaster ZDF showed video of Ukrainian soldiers with Nazi symbols on their helmets in its evening newscast.”
But it’s now clear that far-right extremism is not limited to the militias sent to kill ethnic Russians in the east or to the presence of a few neo-Nazi officials who were rewarded for their roles in last February’s coup. The fanaticism is present at the center of the Kiev regime, including its deputy foreign minister who speaks casually about a “full-scale war” with nuclear-armed Russia.

An Orwellian World

In a “normal world,” U.S. and European journalists would explain to their readers how insane all this is; how a dispute over the pace for implementing a European association agreement while also maintaining some economic ties with Russia could have been worked out within the Ukrainian political system, that it was not grounds for a U.S.-backed “regime change” last February, let alone a civil war, and surely not nuclear war.

But these are clearly not normal times. To a degree that I have not seen in my 37 years covering Washington, there is a totalitarian quality to the West’s current “group think” about Ukraine with virtually no one who “matters” deviating from the black-and-white depiction of good guys in Kiev vs. bad guys in Donetsk and Moscow.
And, if you want to see how the “objective” New York Times dealt with demonstrations in Moscow and other Russian cities protesting last year’s coup against Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, read Sunday’s dispatch by the Times’ neocon national security correspondent Michael R. Gordon, best known as the lead writer with Judith Miller on the infamous “aluminum tube” story in 2002, helping to set the stage for the invasion of Iraq in 2003.
Here’s how Gordon explained the weekend’s anti-coup protests: “The official narrative as reported by state-run television in Russia, and thus accepted by most Russians, is that the uprising in Ukraine last year was an American-engineered coup, aided by Ukrainian Nazis, and fomented to overthrow Mr. Yanukovych, a pro-Russian president.”
In other words, the Russians are being brainwashed while the readers of the New York Times are getting their information from an independent news source that would never be caught uncritically distributing government propaganda, another example of the upside-down Orwellian world that Americans now live in. [See, for example, “NYT Retracts Russian Photo Scoop.”]
In our land of the free, there is no “official narrative” and the U.S. government would never stoop to propaganda. Everyone just happily marches in lockstep behind the conventional wisdom of a faultless Kiev regime that “shares our values” and can do no wrong — while ignoring the brutality and madness of coup leaders who deploy Nazis and invite a nuclear holocaust for the world.

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com). You also can order Robert Parry’s trilogy on the Bush Family and its connections to various right-wing operatives for only $34. The trilogy includes America’s Stolen Narrative. For details on this offer, click here.

Obama Dancing On Reagan’s Grave, Running Tanks Up To Putin’s Doorstep

Cross-Eyed-Bill-Clinton--58648

[SEE:  BILL CLINTON: FIRST NEOCON PRESIDENT ]

Bill Clinton’s Epic Double-Cross: How “Not An Inch” Brought NATO To Russia’s Border

zero hedge

“It began as a pledge by the first Bush Administration to Gorbachev that in return for German unification and liberation of the “captive nations” there would be “not an inch” of NATO expansion. It ended up its opposite, and for no plausible reason of American security whatsoever. In fact, NATO went on to draft nearly the entire former “Warsaw Pact”, expanding its membership by 12 nations. So doing, it encroached thousands of kilometers from its old Cold War boundaries to the very doorstep of Russia.”

“Bill Clinton used NATO enlargement to advertise his assertiveness in foreign policy and America’s status as the “world’s indispensable nation.” Clinton bragged about proposing NATO enlargement at his first NATO summit in 1994, saying it “should enlarge steadily, deliberately, openly.” He never explained why.”

“Such a decision may be expected to inflame the nationalistic, anti-Western and militaristic tendencies in Russian opinion; to have an adverse effect on the development of Russian democracy; to restore the atmosphere of the cold war to East-West relations, and to impel Russian foreign policy in directions decidedly not to our liking.”–George Kennan, father of the “containment” doctrine and Truman’s aggressive anti-Soviet policy,

US armor paraded 300m from Russian border

Russia-Today

U.S. soldiers attend military parade celebrating Estonia's Independence Day near border crossing with Russia in Narva February 24, 2015. (Reuters/Ints Kalnins)

U.S. soldiers attend military parade celebrating Estonia’s Independence Day near border crossing with Russia in Narva February 24, 2015. (Reuters/Ints Kalnins)

NATO member Estonia has held a military parade in border town of Narva, just 300 meters from the Russian border. Tallinn is a long-time critic of Moscow, which it accuses of having an aggressive policy towards the Baltic nation.

Tuesday’s military parade was dedicated to Estonia’s Independence Day. Chief military commander Lt. Gen. Riho Terras headed the troops as President Toomas Hendrik Ilves reviewed them.

Over 140 pieces of NATO military hardware took part in the parade, including four US armored personnel carriers M1126 Stryker flying stars-and-stripes. Another foreign nation, the Netherlands, provided four Swedish-made Stridsfordon 90 tracked combat vehicles (designated CV9035NL Mk III by the Dutch).

Estonia also showed off its own howitzers, anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons, armored vehicles and other hardware. Over 1,400 troops also marched the streets of Narva.

The parade is an obvious snub at Estonia’s eastern neighbor Russia, whom it accuses of pushing aggressive policies in Eastern Europe. The Estonian government is among several vocally accusing Russia of waging a secret war against Ukraine by supplying arms and troops to anti-Kiev forces in the east.

Moscow denies the accusations, insisting that the post-coup government in Kiev alienated its own people in the east and started a civil war instead of resolving the differences through dialogue.

NATO seized the Ukrainian conflict as an opportunity to argue for a military build-up in Eastern Europe, supposedly to deter a Russian aggression. The three Baltic States are among the most vocal proponents of this policy.

Russia sees it as yet another proof that NATO is an anti-Russian military bloc that had been enlarging towards Russia’s border and compromised its national security.

The Estonian government defended its right to hold whatever military maneuvers it wants in its territory.

“Narva is a part of NATO no less than New York or Istanbul, and NATO defends every square meter of its territory,” Estonian Prime Minister Taavi Rõivas said in a speech in capital, Tallinn.

Historically Narva was a point of centuries of confrontation between Russia and Sweden, when the two nations fought for dominance in the region. The city changed hands several times and ended up under Russian control in 1704, serving as a military outpost for decades.

The city was again contested in the wake of the Bolshevik revolution of 1917 and the dissolution of the Russian Empire it triggered. Narva took turns between being governed by the self-proclaimed Estonian Republic, occupying German troops and the Red Army until eventually becoming Estonian again under a peace treaty between Estonia and Russia.

It then changed hands between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union along with the rest of the Baltics during World War II and went on to be part of an independent Estonia in 1991.

The city has a large number of ethnic Russians and a strong pro-autonomy movement, with some Estonian politicians fearing that it could be exploited now by Russia to saw dissent. Commenting on the issue in an interview with Washington Post, President Ilves said seeing Narva as a potentially separatist region “is stupid.”

Obama Admits That His Foreign Policy Is The Same As Qatar’s

Obama Hails Qatar as ‘Strong Partner’ against Islamic State

daily star LEB

Barack Obama, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al Thani

U.S. President Barack Obama praised Qatar as a “strong partner” in the fight against Islamic State militants Tuesday, as he hosted Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani in the Oval Office.

“Qatar is a strong partner in our coalition to degrade and ultimately defeat ISIL,” said Obama, using another name for the jihadist group.

“We are both committed to making sure that ISIL is defeated, to making sure that in Iraq there is an opportunity for all people to live together in peace,” Obama said.

Qatar is host to a large U.S. military base, but the two countries are sometimes uneasy allies.

The White House played down allegations that Qatar has itself has abetted hardline Islamic groups and is a source of terror financing.

“There are areas where we disagree with the Qataris” said White House spokesman Josh Earnest, adding there were more areas where interests “overlap.”

Speaking after the meeting, the Emir also praised the strong bilateral relationship, and urged efforts to advance the Middle East peace process.

“We have to find a solution for Palestine. And I’m happy to learn, to hear from you Mr President, that you’re committed,” he said.

Libya and Yemen were also discussed.

“The bottom line is that Washington and Doha share an exceptionally strong strategic partnership,” said Lori Plotkin Boghardt of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

“Washington and Doha certainly have a number of important differences, but we’ve seen over and over again that the strategic partnership between the two allies ultimately trumps in importance almost all of those differences.”

 

 

Sharbat Bibi, Afghan Refugee, Tormented For 30 Years By US Foreign Policy

‘Mona Lisa of Afghan war’ resurfaces in Peshawar

the news pak

THIRTY YEARS AGO……………………………………..TODAY

PESHAWAR: Gaining fame for featuring on the cover of National Geographic magazine in 1985, ‘Mona Lisa of Afghan war’ Sharbat Bibi has been living with two of her sons in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa capital for the last several years.

Bibi was identified when she applied for the National Identity Cards (NICs) for her and her sons last year.

The famous photo of the 12-year-old Sharbat has often been compared with Leonardo Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa.

The National Geographic rediscovered her in 2002 after she remained anonymous for years after the first iconic photo of 1985.

Nat Geo photographer McCurry knew immediately that he had found her again when he met with Sharbat after getting her family’s permission in 2002.

“Her eyes are as haunting now as they were then,” he had said.

British Prime Minister Cameron Anxious To Send British Troops To Jumpstart World War III.

Cameron commits troops and ‘non-lethal aid’ to Ukraine

Russia-Today
Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron (Reuters / Russell Cheyne)

Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron (Reuters / Russell Cheyne)

Prime Minister David Cameron has said Britain will not supply Ukraine with lethal weaponry in the fight against rebels in the East of the country, but UK troops will support Ukrainians with tactical intelligence, training and logistics.

Speaking to the Liaison Select Committee, David Cameron said UK support would be given “well away from the area of conflict,” adding that the purpose of aid would be to improve Ukraine’s tactical advantage.

He was further questioned on the capability of the UK to defend its airspace after RAF jets were scrambled to intercept Russian bombers last week for the second time in 2015.

He said the Russians were probably trying to make “some sort of point,” but added that he didn’t know what that point was.

Cameron said Britain should be confident in its defensive strengths against Russia.

EU and US leaders accuse Russia of supporting the militias in Donbass. The claims have been repeatedly denied by Russian officials.

He added that should Russian President Vladimir Putin risk destabilizing the Baltic states with a cyber-attack, or similar, he would risk confrontation with NATO.

“We are committed to their collective defense,” Cameron said, but he did not give an indication of what a “red line” might be, in terms of intervention.

He said the UK must continue to work with Russia on matters other than Ukraine, despite the country not “behaving like a strategic partner to Europe,” saying it was important to join efforts to stop Iran acquiring nuclear weapons.

The Prime Minister, however, also advocated deeper sanctions against Russia, adding that the Baltic States and Poland were likely to agree.

Cameron’s actions go against those of French and German leaders Hollande and Merkel who are pushing for a peaceful and diplomatic solution to the conflict. The leaders orchestrated the Minsk peace talks, where a ceasefire was agreed, though there have been reports of continued clashes since the deal was reached.

Last week the United Nations Security Council voted unanimously to approve a Russian-drafted resolution to support the Minsk agreements, reached by the leaders of France, Germany, Russia and Ukraine.

The resolution was submitted to the UNSC by Russia on February 13, a day after the Minsk deal was agreed. It is aimed at endorsing and executing the Minsk agreements. The document also expresses concern over the continuing violence in eastern Ukraine, and stresses the importance of resolving the conflict peacefully.

“After the unprecedented diplomatic efforts last week, Ukraine has a chance to turn a dramatic page in its history,” said Russia’s UN envoy Vitaly Churkin, who expressed “gratitude” towards the other parties for endorsing the document.

It was revealed in early February the US is considering sending arms to Ukraine.

Cameron is facing a general election on May 7. His tough stance on international tensions between Russia and the West is informed with this in mind.

New Sec/Def Picks A Fight With Putin

Luga, Russia alleged cruise missile battery Luga, Russia alleged cruise missile battery2 Luga_Iskander-K_062014_MOD

[SEE: Russia Declared In Violation Of INF Treaty: New Cruise Missile May Be Deploying]

Ash Carter warns Russia on nukes

politico

“U.S. responses must make clear to Russia that if it does not return to compliance, our responses will make them less secure than they are today.”

Ashton Carter Travels To Afghanistan
Ash Carter/Getty

Ash Carter has quietly thrown down the gauntlet in a lingering dispute with Russia: If President Vladimir Putin continues to violate the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, the U.S. could respond in kind.

“The range of options we should look at from the Defense Department could include active defenses to counter intermediate-range ground-launched cruise missiles; counter-force capabilities to prevent intermediate-range ground-launched cruise missile attacks; and countervailing strike capabilities to enhance U.S. or allied forces,” Carter told senators in little-noticed written answers to follow-up questions from his confirmation hearing.

The defense secretary’s bottom line: “U.S. responses must make clear to Russia that if it does not return to compliance, our responses will make them less secure than they are today.”

Obama administration officials believe Russia began testing what they call its illegal cruise missile as long ago as 2008, predating the current crisis in Europe over Moscow’s military incursion into Ukraine. And they have accused Russia of violating the 1987 INF treaty under which the U.S. and then-Soviet Union agreed to pull back land-based missiles deployed around Europe that many feared could escalate a crisis too quickly for either side to control.

Now, with Putin still pressing into Ukraine, some members of Congress are even more eager to push back on what they see as Russia’s violations of the INF treaty. And Carter’s endorsement of new “counter-force capabilities,” following his cautious support for arming Ukraine’s government against the Russian invaders, puts him on the hawkish side of the spectrum as President Barack Obama and his advisers weigh how to resolve the standoff.

The Russian president may have secretly been developing a new intermediate missile even as diplomats were negotiating the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty that the Senate approved in 2010, a breach of faith that hawks say deserves a serious answer. Carter would appear to agree. In his written answers to Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), he said Putin had imperiled a cornerstone of global stability since the Cold War.

“Russia’s continued disregard for its international obligations and lack of meaningful engagement on this particular issue require the United States to take actions to protect its interests and security, as well as those of its allies and partners,” Carter said. “U.S. efforts should continue to remind Russia why the United States and Russia signed this treaty in the first place and be designed to bring Russia back into verified compliance with its obligations.”

Critics in Congress, meanwhile, call the violation of the INF agreement just another broken Russian promise.

“Within the last year, Mr. Putin has flagrantly and deliberately violated the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, the Budapest Memorandum, and the Minsk Protocol,” said Rep. Mike Turner (R-Ohio), long a top congressional delegate to NATO. “In order to change Putin’s calculus, President Obama must stop stalling and listen to his own secretary of defense, members of Congress in his own party and dozens of military and civilian leaders who have all recommended actions to empower the Ukrainian army so they can successfully confront the growing Russian threat.”

Another Republican, Alabama Rep. Mike Rogers, said during an Armed Services Committee hearing earlier this month that there’s no reason for Washington to continue to honor the deal.

“If we’re the only team that’s sticking to the treaty,” he complained, “then I don’t know why we’re sticking with the treaty, since they are flagrantly violating it.”

Russian leaders, however, may already feel the U.S. and Europe have violated the treaty, said Hans Kristensen, director of the Nuclear Information Project at the Federation of American Scientists. Moscow points to the U.S.-backed Aegis Ashore system, which the Obama administration is fielding in Romania this year in place of former President George W. Bush’s previously planned ballistic missile defense system.

Weapons don’t need to be nuclear to violate the INF agreement. Between Aegis Ashore and Lockheed Martin’s Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile, which Poland is buying, Russia most likely feels it has both cause and cover to field a new intermediate-range missile, Kristensen said. Plus, the U.S. plans to field an extended-range JASSM, a new anti-ship missile and new ways to use weapons that exist in its stockpile.

For example, the Navy and Air Force have demonstrated their ability to launch a Raytheon-built Tomahawk cruise missile and then retarget it in flight. The pilot of an Air Force F-22 Raptor redirected one missile launched from a Navy submarine, and last month, the crew of a Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet directed a Tomahawk launched from a destroyer onto a target vessel at sea.

“This is potentially a game-changing capability for not a lot of cost,” Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work said at a trade show in San Diego this month.

In view of these developments, Russian commanders most likely believe their work is entirely appropriate. They’re believed to want a weapon that could defeat NATO’s formidable air defenses and enable them to hit targets the way the U.S. uses its precision strike missiles and bombs, Kristensen said.

And as long as Russia’s new missile is not deployed or in production, it technically has not violated the INF.

“This is a political show,” Kristensen said. “One side does something, so other side has to do it too.”

Qatar To Openly Hand al-Nusra Terrorists Boatload of Cash, Calling It “Hostage Ransom””

Doha to pay Nusra ransom for Lebanon hostages

daily star LEB

Relatives of the 25 Lebanese servicemen being held hostage by ISIS and Nusra gather in Downtown Beirut, Monday, Feb. 23, 2015. (The Daily Star/Mohammed Azakir)

 

BEIRUT: Lebanese Islamist prisoners and a ransom will be exchanged for the captive servicemen being held by the Nusra Front on Lebanon’s northeastern border, a security source familiar with the negotiations told The Daily Star Tuesday.

According to the source, ransom money was now the key demand of the jihadi group, and the main reason behind General Security head Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim’s intended visits to Qatar and Turkey.

The source said that while Ibrahim would seek ransom money from Doha, he expects Ankara to facilitate the swap deal.

Nusra, which is believed to be holding 16 Lebanese servicemen hostage, has also agreed with the government’s assessment that only Lebanese inmates, not non-Lebanese prisoners, can be released from Lebanese jails in any prisoner exchange agreement.

Under current negotiations, Nusra also agreed to release all the hostages the group was holding. Previously, Nusra wanted to release only Druze hostages, the source said.

The deal does not include at least nine other Lebanese servicemen held by ISIS.

ISIS and Nusra Front briefly overran the northeastern border town of Arsal early in August, taking with them more than 30 Lebanese soldiers and policemen captive. They have since released eight and killed four.

Local daily Al-Joumhouria said Tuesday that Ibrahim will likely visit Turkey to boost efforts to end crisis.

It said Ibrahim, who recently visited the United Arab Emirates, was waiting for the green light to visit Istanbul.

A senior security source had told The Daily Star that Turkey and Qatar were the only two nations that wield enough influence to secure the release of the remaining 25 Lebanese servicemen in captivity.

Jordan Steps-In With 30 Tanks and A Dozen Howitzers, While Lebanon Waits On the French/Saudis

Lebanon receives 30 tanks, 12 howitzers from Jordan

daily star LEB
Lebanese soldiers check artillery unloaded from a ship at the port in Beirut, Sunday, Feb. 8, 2015. (The Daily Star/Hasan Shaaban)

BEIRUT: The Lebanese Army has received a shipment of 30 tanks and 12 howitzers from Jordan, media reported Monday, as Interior Minister Nouhad announced that the country would soon receive the first batch of weapons financed through a $1 billion Saudi grant.

Lebanon’s National News Agency said the military recently acquired 30 M113 armored carriers and a dozen 155 mm howitzers. The weapons themselves were not delivered Monday, but a ceremony was held at Beirut’s naval base to announce their arrival.

The delay in announcing the shipment is due to the killing of Jordanian air force pilot Moaz al-Kassasbeh who was burned to death by ISIS militants in January. The pilot was captured in December after his F-16 fighter jet went down in Syria, with a gruesome video of his killing being released earlier this month.

During the event, Army Deputy Chief of Staff Brig. Gen. Manuel Kirjian thanked Jordan for its donation and lauded the military cooperation between the two countries.

The donation was first announced by Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk two weeks ago during his visit to Amman.

After his meeting with Jordanian King Abdallah, Machnouk said that the Jordanian donation had already arrived to Lebanon and that the Army would hold a ceremony announcing the delivery soon.

Meanwhile, Machnouk told Al-Mustaqbal newspaper that a $1 billion Saudi-funded arms grant announced in August “was on its way.”

The delivery will consist of weapons and equipment as part of the Internal Security Forces’ share of the grant, he said in remarks published Monday.

Al-Mustaqbal also quoted a military official as saying the Lebanese Army has completed the majority of the contracts related to its share of the deal that amounts to $500 million.

The official said light weapons will arrive soon.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius had announced that the first arms shipment of a separate, $3 billion Saudi grant, which has been delayed for more than year, will reach Lebanon on April 1.

The Lebanese Army remains in dire need of weapons in its war against jihadi militants deployed across the border with Syria.

One Out of Five Germans Ready For Revolution

One fifth of Germans want revolution: report
A left-wing demo in Leipzig in May 2014. Photo: DPA

One fifth of Germans want revolution: report

the local.de

Anti-capitalism, anti-fascism and anti-racism were all are prominent positions according to the study entitled ‘Against state and capital – for the revolution’, which has revealed a public much further to the left than previously thought.

In the report, 20% of the people surveyed agreed with the statement that “Living conditions won’t be improved by reforms – we need a revolution”.

A similar percentage of people said they saw the rise of a new fascism in Germany as a real danger, while as many as a third agreed that capitalism inevitably leads to poverty and hunger.

Reflecting the massive media attention given to a wave of anti-Islam Pegida demonstrations, the report highlighted that 48 percent thought that a deep-rooted xenophobia existed in modern day Germany.

East-West divide

An ideological divide between the former East and West was also very prominent, with left-wing statements generally garnering more support in the eastern states.

Among Germans living in the east, 60 percent considered socialism to be a good idea that so far has merely been poorly implemented – compared to only 37 percent of people in the west.

The statement that most people (62 percent) agreed to in the survey was that German democracy isn’t real democracy, because it is the economy not the electorate that has the biggest say.

This is as clear a message as any for the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth, who commissioned the study as part of their ‘Strengthening Democracy’ initiative.

State against dissidents

Almost 50 percent of respondents said they had noticed an increased surveillance of left-wing dissidents by police and the state.

And 27 percent fear that by spying on its citizens, Germany is on its way towards a dictatorship.

A more damning finding of the report, which aimed to provide a comprehensive portrayal of left-wing extremism in Germany, was that left-wing related violence had seen a stark increase in recent years.

Police and right-wing extremists were the most regular targets of far-left violence.

An attack on a Leipzig police station in January, with hooded people throwing rocks, bottles and paint bombs and burning vehicles, was the most visible far-left outburst in recent times.

But left-wing extremists were the prime suspects in the vandalizing of posters for the Hamburg local elections belonging to right-wing party AfD (Alternative for Germany).

The report looked into previous studies, discussions on the notion of extremism and interviews with former and current activists.

Researchers deemed it important to analyse the “structural similarities between right and left-wing extremism”, which include a doctrinal fanaticism that can be prone to conspiracy theories.

by Matty Edwards

For more stories about Germany, join us on Facebook and Twitter

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

The Empire’s Ants Mistake Russia For the AntEater

Georgia victim of Russia imperialist ambitions, appreciates Croatia support

dalje croatia

David Usupashvili

Georgia is a victim of Russia’s imperialist ambitions and it appreciates Croatia’s support for its sovereignty and territorial integrity, Georgian Parliament Speaker David Usupashvili said after talks with Croatian Parliament Speaker Josip Leko in Zagreb on Monday.Concurrently with the horrible developments in Ukraine, Georgia too has become a victim of the imperialist ambitions of its big neighbour, Usupashvili said, adding that while openly violating international law in Eastern Europe, Russia had taken another step in Georgia’s case, by concluding agreements on integration with the breakaway Georgian regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, which he said in reality constituted the annexation of the occupied territory.

The Georgian official, who was on an official visit to Croatia, said the problem could be solved only peacefully and not through war, which was why Georgia was interested in joining the EU and NATO, which he said protected stability in Europe.

Usupashvili said that he came to Zagreb to convey to the Croatian people the Georgian people’s appreciation of their strong support to Georgia’s territorial integrity and sovereignty.

Leko told reporters that he and his Georgian counterpart discussed the Geneva talks on Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

Leko said they agreed on the continuation of parliamentary cooperation and closer cooperation in the transfer of Croatia’s experience relating to the process of its integration with the EU and NATO.

Usupashvili was interested in the process of development of democratic standards in Croatia, from the judicial authorities to human rights and freedoms and minority rights.

The two officials agreed that there was great potential for enhancing overall bilateral cooperation, notably in the economic sector.

Obama Invites Wahhabis To His Islamist Denial-Fest

Fat Pig of Qatar

[Why isn’t the “Fat Pig of Qatar” also at that meeting, holding hands with Obama and the King of the Head-Choppers’ emissary, loudly denying that they have both been, and still are, heavily into investing in Islamist terrorism?]

War on extremism: Saudi Arabia joins White House talks

arab news

Prince Abdulaziz bin Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Prince Abdulaziz bin Abdullah bin Abdulaziz

The Kingdom is at the forefront of global efforts to eradicate terrorism, senior Saudi officials told a recent meeting at the White House on countering extremism.
Deputy Foreign Minister Prince Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah led the Kingdom’s delegation at the talks.
Addressing US and international officials, he said that Saudi Arabia is determined to fight extremism in all its forms.
He highlighted Saudi Arabia’s keenness and commitment to supporting global efforts against extremism and terrorism, and fight whatever party standing behind it in the name of religion, said Prince Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah. The Kingdom has always deplored extremism, which distorts the image of Islam.
The prince stressed that Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman upholds the Kingdom’s longstanding campaign against extremism and terrorism.
The US summit has gained special significance as it comes within a series of international and regional meetings that analyze the phenomena of extremism from all aspects, its roots and causes.
Participants hope to come out with a unified vision on ways of countering extremist violence on political, military, security, intelligence, economic and social levels.
“We must seriously move to fight such thoughts and their funding channels,” the prince said.
According to Prince Abdul Aziz, Saudi Arabia has taken several measures to fight and enacted a number of regulations to counter extremist thoughts.
He pointed out that the first international summit to fight terrorism was held in Riyadh in 2005, where the Kingdom called for the setting up of a UN center to fight extremism.
In September 2011, Saudi Arabia signed an agreement to set up the center under the auspices of the UN and supported it with $110 million.
The Kingdom also supported the establishment of The King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz International Center for Inter-religious and Intercultural Dialogue in Vienna.

Did Georgian President Hold Hands With Former Pres. Saakashvili In Kiev Maidan Commemoration?

[Interfax claims that Georgian President Margvelashvili: Every Georgian stands by Ukraine;

Georgian Prosecutor’s Office: ‘Ukraine Refuses to Extradite Saakashvili’]

Georgia, Ukraine Presidents meet in Kiev

agenda.ge

Georgia’s President Giorgi Margvelashvili has voiced his full support and solidarity with Ukraine after participating in the “March of Dignity” and meeting his Ukrainian counterpart in Kiev.

The Georgian official and other European leaders took part in the “March of Dignity” yesterday – a special event dedicated to the victims of the Maidan protests in Kiev, Ukraine. Following this, the Georgian President held face-to-face and broader meetings with Ukraine’s president Petro Poroshenko.

After discussing the current situation in the region, Margvelashvili invited Poroshenko to Georgia, to which the Ukrainian responded: “[I will] certainly visit Georgia as soon as circumstances allow”.

Bilateral relations and corresponding issues was the main topic of the meeting between Margvelashvili and Poroshenko, and the significance of the Dignity March was also stressed.

“We are happy to see Ukraine united and its friends having joined the rally to protect the values Ukraine aspires to. It was an impressive day not only for Ukraine, but for all those taking part in the march,” Margvelashvili said.

Poroshenko said he “greatly appreciated” Georgia’s participation in the Kiev events.

The two presidents also discussed the situation in eastern Ukraine as well as in Georgia’s Russian-occupied regions, Tskhinvali and Abkhazia.

The men stressed the importance of “standing together” and sharing their European aspirations.

March of Dignity in Kiev; Photo by President Margvelashvili’s press office

The March of Dignity was held in central Kiev yesterday and attended by world leaders and officials, including European Council president Donald Tusk and the presidents of Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Germany and Slovakia. The event was held on the first anniversary of the Maidan protests and was held to commemorate those who lost their lives in the protest.

In February 2014, violent clashes between protesters and law enforcement officials broke out in central Kiev’s Independence Square, or Maidan Nezalezhnosti. Several weeks of unrest claimed the lives of about 100 civilians and 20 police officers.

Four months earlier, in November 2013, a political crisis erupted in Ukraine when the country’s authorities announced to suspend its European integration process. The protests that started in Kiev spread across the country and led to a government coup in February, forcing then-president Viktor Yanukovych to flee the country.

Islamist Terrorists Are All Misled Religious Fanatics

[Even the King of Al-Qaeda understands what Obama is denying to be true, even though he can never acknowledge the Wahhabi roots of all Sunni terror (SEE:  Saudi King: terrorists besmirching all Muslims).]

Fanaticism, not poverty, drives Islamist terrorism

chicago sun times

Pakistani Islamists burn a French flag during a protest against the printing of satirical sketches of the Prophet Mohammad by French magazine Charlie Hebdo in Quetta on January 22, 2015. BANARAS KHAN/AFP/Getty Images

“A global summit on countering violent extremism” is the description of a three-day meeting of more than 60 nations in Washington ending Thursday. No one expects much out of this gathering. It’s worth noting that it was being watched mainly to see if anyone from the Obama administration uttered the phrase “Islamist terrorism” or “Islamic terrorism.” You don’t know whether to laugh or weep.

In his speech to the meeting, President Barack Obama continued to reject the religious foundation of Islamist terrorism by raising the false alternative of the West being portrayed as being at war against Islam. Al-Qaida and the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria do not represent the majority of Muslims, but they do stand for a powerful, dangerous, religious-based movement that is driving history in the Islamic world and, to our misery, beyond. To his credit, Obama did acknowledge the anti-Western sentiment that often exists in mainstream Muslim societies and its role in aiding the fanatics in recruiting the discontented to their ranks.

But notice that the goal of the summit was “countering,” not defeating, violent extremism, a k a terrorism. As a State Department spokeswoman put it the other day, “We cannot kill our way out of this war.” We can’t talk our way out of the terrorist threat with summits either.

In an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times, Obama wrote, “We know that military force alone cannot solve this problem. Nor can we simply take out terrorists who kill innocent civilians.” Maybe not, but it must be a top priority. Our armed forces must keep killing as many of the enemy as possible. That’s a prime goal of war.

The talking point of the day was that “violent extremism” is about poverty and the lack of jobs. What’s the answer? For Congress to pass a humongous stimulus bill to fund shovel-ready projects someplace in the Muslim world? Where? In oil-rich Saudi Arabia where 15 of the 9/11 hijackers hailed from (and mostly from middle-class or well-to-do families)?

Poor people populate many parts of the world and in huge numbers, yet most of them — like most Muslims — do not commit terrorist atrocities. Religious fanaticism and the justification provided by religious text and clerics, not the absence of economic opportunity, inspire the discontented to behead Christians, burn alive Kurds and a Jordanian pilot, murder Jews wherever they can find them, enslave women and children, and slaughter fellow Muslims deemed not sufficiently Islamic.

The administration clearly is irritated by concerns over its denial of the Islamist roots of terrorism. In a speech the other day, Attorney General Eric Holder tried to defend the administration’s obscurantism and practically became a parody of it. He referred to the “very serious problems that our allies face and that we face, particularly in a particular part of the world.” What problems? And what particular part of the world would that be? Patagonia?

Islamist terrorism is reduced to violent extremism. The heartland of Islamist fanaticism, the Middle East, becomes “a particular part of the world.”

The administration is not alone in these rhetorical gymnastics. A headline in the New York Times described the second-generation immigrant responsible for killing a film director and Jew in last week’s terrorist attack in Denmark as a “native son.” Turns out the killer wasn’t named Hans Christian Anderson Jr., but Omar Abdel Hamid el-Hussein.

To defeat an enemy, you have to know it. In an Atlantic magazine article, contributing editor Graeme Wood demonstrates considerable research and writes, “Muslims can reject the Islamic State; nearly all do. But pretending that it isn’t actually a religious, millennarian group, with theology that must be understood to be combatted, has already led the United States to underestimate it and back foolish schemes to counter it. We’ll need to get acquainted with the Islamic State’s intellectual genealogy if we are to react in a way that will not strengthen it, but instead help it self-immolate in its own excessive zeal.”

Jobs, economic opportunity, improved governance in Muslim countries, and better social media and other efforts against recruitment may be part of the answer. But I suspect few Islamic State fighters will be lured away from their fanatical, ideological, religious jihad  by the prospect of a good job. Unless, that is, the Islamic State is soundly defeated on the battlefield.

Email: shuntley.cst@gmail.com

UNIFIL Claims That Zionist Forces Targeted UN Position In Punitive Strike

Exclusive: UNIFIL suspects Israel deliberately killed peacekeeper

daily star LEB

Spanish UNIFIL peacekeepers patrol the border village of Abbassieh, Wednesday, Jan. 28, 2015. (The Daily Star/Mohammed Zaatari)

Nicholas Blanford| The Daily Star

BEIRUT: A Spanish UNIFIL peacekeeper killed three weeks ago by an Israel artillery shell following Hezbollah’s missile attack on an Israeli army convoy appears to have fallen victim to the Hannibal Protocol – the controversial Israeli policy of preventing the kidnapping of a soldier even at the expense of his life.

The deadly incident has left some UNIFIL officers convinced that Israel deliberately targeted one of their positions to “punish” the peacekeepers for not taking greater action against Hezbollah’s activities in the southern border district.

No Israeli soldiers were abducted in Hezbollah’s Jan. 28 attack. But the retaliatory shelling – a mix of mortar rounds and 155mm high explosive and white phosphorous artillery shells – was unusual in blanketing both sides of the Blue Line in a 3-kilometer arc from the village of Ghajar to the foot of the Shebaa Farms hills.

Unlike past retaliatory bombardments which target the sources of Hezbollah fire north of the Blue Line, the shelling around Ghajar indicates that the Israelis were attempting to hit a possible kidnap squad retreating to Lebanese territory with captive soldiers.

During Israel’s bombardment, the observation tower in a Spanish UNIFIL position at Abbasieh, 1 kilometer east of Ghajar, took a direct hit from an artillery shell, killing Cpl. Francisco Javier Soria Toledo.

“We can’t say they made a mistake … the rounds were getting nearer and nearer and eventually they hit it,” a UNIFIL officer said, adding that the U.N. position had been bracketed by artillery rounds before it was struck.

The Hezbollah team that fired the missiles was not targeted at all, possibly because the Israelis seemed to be unaware of the source of fire and also because the priority in the confusing minutes after the attack commenced was to ensure that no soldiers were kidnapped. Hezbollah conducted an operation in November 2005 to kidnap Israeli soldiers from Ghajar, but was unsuccessful.

The Hannibal Protocol was devised in the late 1980s in response to Hezbollah’s abduction of two Israeli soldiers from Kounin near Bint Jbeil in 1986. Israel tends to pay a high price for the return of its kidnapped citizens which makes them a valuable commodity for its enemies. The remains of the two soldiers were swapped in 1996 for 45 detainees from Khiam prison and the bodies of 123 resistance fighters. The doctrine decrees that all measures must be taken to ensure that a soldier does not end up in the hands of the enemy, even if he should die in the process.

The Israeli military applied the Hannibal Protocol in the hours after Hezbollah kidnapped three soldiers from the Shebaa Farms in October 2000. Several vehicles were attacked by helicopter gunships around Shebaa, wounding 20 civilians. The protocol was invoked again on July 12, 2006, after Hezbollah snatched two soldiers from across the Blue Line near Aita Shaab. Armored vehicles crossed the Blue Line in hot pursuit only to fall into a deadly ambush. A total of eight dead soldiers and two more kidnapped that day spurred the Israeli government to escalate the border clash into a war.

As new details emerge of Hezbollah’s Jan. 28 missile ambush, it is clear the operation was meticulously planned and skillfully implemented.

The attack was Hezbollah’s response to the deaths of six of its fighters and an Iranian general in an Israeli drone strike on the Golan Heights 10 days earlier.

The Hezbollah team, equipped with two Kornet anti-tank missile launchers, was hidden above the Hasbani river gorge about 1 kilometer south of Arab Louaize village. The location grants good eastward views across the flat grassy plain to the foot of the Shebaa Farms hills. The assumption is that the team was in place for possibly more than a day, waiting for a target of opportunity to emerge. That target arrived at 11:30 a.m. on Jan. 28, when a convoy of military vehicles was spotted heading south.

The distance between the Hezbollah team and the target was in excess of 4.7 kilometers, the upper end of the Kornet’s 5.5 kilometer range.

Due to the distance, the team decided to fire two missiles simultaneously at the same target, the second vehicle in the convoy, doubling the chances of a strike. If they had fired at separate vehicles and missed, the element of surprise would have been lost, reducing the odds of causing casualties.

In fact, both laser-guided missiles struck the target. The first missile smashed into the rear of the vehicle and the second penetrated the passenger door, instantly killing the two occupants, an officer and a soldier. “That both missiles hit is amazing shooting at that distance,” a military observer said.

It takes around 25 seconds to load a Kornet launcher, ample time for the surviving members of the convoy to immediately exit their vehicles and seek cover. The third missile hit the third car in the convoy while the fourth struck a stationary civilian mini bus that had been traveling in the opposite direction. The passengers had already abandoned the vehicle. The fifth and sixth missiles missed.

The Israeli retaliatory bombardment began some 20 minutes later. Toledo, the Spanish peacekeeper, was killed shortly afterward.

Andrea Tenenti, UNIFIL’s spokesman, said the investigation into Toledo’s death was ongoing and that the results would soon be handed to the Lebanese and Israeli authorities as well as the U.N. in New York.

Israel has repeatedly accused UNIFIL of failing to curb Hezbollah’s alleged military activities in the southern border zone. In late December, UNIFIL commander Maj. Gen. Luciano Portolano was quoted as saying that the peacekeepers had “no evidence” of Hezbollah weapons in the border district. That statement prompted an anonymous Israeli officer to complain two days later that Hezbollah was conducting “intelligence-gathering operations” along the Blue Line every day, “often under UNIFIL’s noses.”

UNIFIL has a long history of suffering casualties at the hands of Israeli artillery and airpower. Four U.N. observers were killed in an Israeli air attack on their post in Khiam in the 2006 war. A French U.N. observer was killed in 2005 beside the Shebaa Farms by an Israeli tank round. The most notorious incident was in April 1996 when Israeli artillery shells hit the Fijian battalion headquarters in Qana, killing 107 civilians. A U.N. investigation subsequently concluded that it was “unlikely” the Qana shelling was a mistake.

Egypt Taking On Qatari International Immunity From War Crimes In Libya

[Egypt is bravely stepping into the international fray, between Qatar (fronting for the CIA) and the rest of the world, challenging the over-endowed Pissant State’s self-appointed right to support of the Islamist terrorists of N. Africa (SEE:  Qatar’s Puppets Outgun Saudi Egyptian Puppet In Libya ; The spread of Islamic State.)  Qatar has been fronting for Obama, whenever it has lent obvious support to both streams of Muslim Brotherhood-supported Islamists, either political or terrorist, all over Africa and the Middle East.

General_Haftar
Egypt is daring to use its military in Libya against Islamists fighting against the Arab League-supported alliance of retired general Khalifa Haftar.

The curious part here is that Haftar is widely understood to be the CIA’s new “Man” in Libya.  It is amazing that al-Sisi would trust such a man, but then, he must play a two-sided game to survive in such a spy-dominated scenario.

 What a mess this Assclown has made.]

Beyond Al-Jazeera

al-ahram

The Cairo-Doha dispute goes much deeper than the anti-Egyptian media blitz being orchestrated by Qatar, writes Salah Nasrawi.

al jazeeraThe day a Cairo court ordered two Al-Jazeera journalists accused of supporting the Muslim Brotherhood to be released on bail, the Qatar-owned network aired secretly taped recordings of conversations between Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi and his aides in which he purportedly expressed contempt for Saudi Arabia and the Gulf rulers.

The message could not have been missed: Doha does not seem to be interested in patching up differences with Cairo, and Al-Jazeera will continue its hostile coverage of Egypt, one of the main issues behind soured relations between the two countries.

Furthermore, the leaks, first aired by pro-Muslim Brotherhood television, seemed designed to drive a wedge between Egypt and the Gulf countries which are the main aid providers to Egypt.

Relations between Cairo and Doha deteriorated after the 2013 ouster of former Islamist president Mohamed Morsi whose Muslim Brotherhood group was backed by Qatar.

Al-Jazeera has since been broadcasting anti-Al-Sisi propaganda, labelling his takeover a “military coup.”

But what has appeared to be a row over negative television coverage may in fact hide a deeper conflict over a host of domestic and regional issues, in particular Qatar’s support for Islamists whom Egypt considers to be a threat to its security.

Efforts to reconcile Cairo and Doha have stalled as Qatar’s sponsorship of what has been termed the “Political Islam project” has been too much for Egypt to ignore and leave the ball in Qatar’s court.

In November, Al-Sisi tactically gave the nod to an overture by the late Saudi King Abdullah to reach out to Qatar after the Gulf Cooperation Council’s (GCC) rapprochement with its troublesome member state.

Egypt has shown pragmatism by not staying aloof from its allies in the Gulf – Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates – which are also its main financial backers.

But Egypt, familiar with the region’s chessboard, has seemed to be holding back and playing a waiting game. It has shown no sign of starting to mend fences with Qatar until the Gulf emirate changes what Cairo interprets as its hostile policies.

Egypt’s dispute with Qatar goes beyond Doha’s support for the Muslim Brotherhood and the platform for anti-Al-Sisi propaganda which Al-Jazeera and other Qatar-owned media outlets have been giving to the group.

Cairo’s grievances against Doha include its role in building a broader Egyptian opposition movement to Al-Sisi and targeting its ailing economy by withdrawing loans and deposits provided to the ousted Muslim Brotherhood-led government.

The two countries have also been locked in a political standoff over a series of regional disputes in Gaza, Libya, Syria and Sudan, conflicts that Egypt considers as having a direct impact on its stability.

Egypt believes that the Palestinian Hamas movement, backed and funded by Qatar, shares a large part of the blame for militant attacks in Sinai. Cairo says that militants from Hamas-run Gaza have been helping jihadist groups in Sinai, such as Ansar Bait Al-Maqdis, which is linked to the Islamic State (IS) in Iraq and Syria.

The terror group is responsible for attacks against Egyptian security forces in the Peninsula and it may be seeking targets in Egypt’s mainland.

Another major point of contention with Qatar is Libya. Egypt feels there is a danger to its security from its western neighbour where Islamist extremists and Muslim Brotherhood-backed militias supported by Qatar are fighting a government that is recognised by Egypt and the international community.

On Sunday, a Libyan terror group affiliated to IS said it had beheaded 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians who were working in Libya. Many Egyptians were angered by Al-Jazeera for hosting Al-Sisi’s opponents who have exploited the tragedy to blame the government for the massacre and not its perpetrators.

There is also Sudan, Egypt’s southern backyard, which is ruled by Islamists who have close ties with Qatar. Though Cairo and Khartoum continue to maintain working relations, Egypt remains wary of Sudan’s close ties with the Gulf state.

In November the Khartoum government signed a military cooperation pact with Doha that Egypt fears will be used to advance the Qatari agenda.

Egypt also has stakes in Syria where Qatar has influence over some of the Islamist extremist groups which are fighting to topple the regime of President Bashar Al-Assad. Egypt fears both the rise of Islamists in Iraq and Syria and the influx of jihadists to join the insurgency in Sinai.

Another case in point is Turkey whose ties with Egypt have been strained since the ouster of Morsi. Cairo accuses Ankara of forming an alliance with Doha in a bid to destabilise Egypt through support for the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas.

All this indicates that a breakthrough in ties with Qatar will have to come on Egyptian terms. In the words of Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shukri, “what is required is for Qatar’s policies to be supportive of Egypt and its national security and to avoid anything that leads to destabilising Egypt.”

The problem is that no one can be certain that Qatar is prepared to make the required changes in its foreign policy that Egypt takes to be a source of instability.

Touted as backing the Islamists, Qatar’s current strategy poses a serious threat to Al-Sisi’s drive to stifle the Muslim Brotherhood.

In broader terms, in its high-stakes regional game Qatar is challenging Egypt, the Arab world’s most populous nation and one of the region’s powerhouses.

There is an increasing understanding in Egypt that Qatar is trying to use its huge hydrocarbon-generated wealth and international connections to undermine Egypt’s efforts to restore its role as a major regional player, weakened by the turmoil after the 25 January Revolution that toppled former president Hosni Mubarak.

But even if the mood in Cairo looks to be calm and diplomatic relations with Doha remain normal, Egypt seems to have options on the table.

Last month, Egypt returned a US$2 billion Qatari deposit to Doha after negotiations to convert the money into bonds failed. It plans to return a further $500 million, the rest of the billions extended to Egypt after Mubarak’s fall, as a sign of refusing to be intimidated by Qatari money.

Al-Sisi had refused to use his authority to pardon the Al-Jazeera journalists and gave the law due process to decide their fate, something which denied Qatar the opportunity to claim that it had exercised pressure on Egypt to secure their release.

An Egyptian court, meanwhile, is continuing the trial of the deposed former president and another 10 men on charges of espionage and leaking secret documents, including military and security files, to Qatar while in office.

Though no details about the documents have been made public by prosecutors, questions have been raised as to whether they included the recordings used by Al-Jazeera.

Western Elites Scramble To Shore-Up EU House of Cards

German retreat gives a chance for Greeks to prepare for Grexit

failed revolution

by system failure
The details of the new agreement between Greece and the lenders are rather of little importance. It seems that the four-month period will function mostly as a truce period rather than a period of substantial progress for the two sides to build a bridge between them.
The generalities in the new agreement are very convenient mostly for the Greek side because they will give the flexibility to the Greek government to take some measures during this period against austerity, in order to fight the humanitarian disaster in Greece, as promised.
However, the financial lobbyists, represented by the Troika, insist in the final sadistic fiscal targets, exactly because they know that a devastated economy is impossible to meet them. They will use this four-month period only as an excuse to say later that they treated Greece with enough clemency against the other eurozone members and they will play this card to turn all the eurozone countries against Greece, in order to isolate fully the Greek government.
On the other hand, Tsipras took what he wanted in order to prepare better for a Grexit. The Greek Leftists in power know very well who are dealing with, so they will use this time to prepare for the next battle of this big war. The four-month period is currently a tactical win for the Greeks as it is close to a recent proposal which was not accepted initially by the eurogroup: http://failedevolution.blogspot.gr/2015/02/breaking-four-month-moratorium-proposal.html
Furthermore, the Greek side will exploit this period to build stronger alliance with the Sino-Russian bloc. Tsipras will certainly exploit his visit to Moscow in May (http://failedevolution.blogspot.gr/2015/02/confirmed-putin-calls-tsipras.html), while he will search all the possibilities for a financial aid from BRICS which are building fast an autonomous financial system to decouple their economies from the neoliberal monetary monopoly. In the middle of the negotiations, Tsipras already took the chance to send another message to the Western allies with the help of the Chinese fleet.(http://en.enikos.gr/politics/24368,Tsipras_welcomes_Chinese_fleet_in_Piraeu.html)
This will bring further pressure to the American factor as the nightmare may become true. Losing part of Europe and especially a geopolitically important country like Greece would be absolute disaster for the Western dominance, which is widely disputed already.
If Greece play this card smartly, the Americans will be forced to impose further pressure especially to the Germans to retreat further towards the Greek demands at the end of the four-month period. The relations between the two countries are not in the best shape already. (http://failedevolution.blogspot.gr/2014/07/who-is-considered-ostensible-ally-by-us.html)
However, this will give further extension to the hopes of the European people as the Spanish elections and Podemos win will come even closer. After that, everything is possible. It is the first time that the Western elites are in such a difficult position after many decades of complete dominance. Grexit or not, it seems that they are losing control. What will they do then? Actions as usual in order of magnitude: propaganda – soft assassinations – economic hitmen – hard assassinations – color revolutions – military coups.
That’s why it is important the rapid rise of the Leftist powers in other European countries. It would be extremely difficult to apply all these in many European countries simultaneously.

What the Hell?–Donetsk, September 20, 2014

donetskDonetsk,   donetsk2 donetsk3

‘They’ll ridicule us’: Ukraine defense minister ‘claims’ Russia used nukes

Russia-Today
Image from wikipedia.org

2S4 Tyulpan self-propelled mortars

A reported claim by Ukraine’s Defense minister that Russia used tactical nuclear weapons against his troops sparked sarcastic comments from Moscow and criticism from the rival Ukrainian Interior Ministry.

The allegations, by Col. Gen. Valery Geletey, were first reported by Roman Bochkala, one of the Ukrainian journalists accompanying the minister in his recent trip to Poland.

“So Russia did use tactical nuclear weapons against Ukrainian troops,” the journalist wrote on his Facebook page, citing Geletey’s words.

The nuclear weapons in question are rounds for 2S4 Tyulpan self-propelled mortars. The journalist reported the minister as saying that Russia supplied some of those to rebel forces and used at least two 3-kiloton nuclear rounds in the battle for Lugansk airport.

“If it were not for the Tyulpans, we could have been holding the airport for months and nobody would have ousted us from it,” the general was cited as saying.

Ukraine's Defense Minister Valery Geletey (RIA Novosti)

Ukraine’s Defense Minister Valery Geletey (RIA Novosti)

The allegations understandably provoked a small media storm in Ukraine and even comments from the Russian Defense Ministry, which expressed doubt that a general could actually have said it.

If the minister did say all that, the Russians joked, then “the Ukrainian security service should investigate what the Polish friends slipped into Geletey’s glass.”

“Speaking seriously, Geletey’s habit of justifying the failures of the punitive operation in southeastern Ukraine with the alleged actions of the Russian armed forces start to resemble paranoia,” the Russian ministry added.

ByCVXuoIAAA81MX.jpg large
And ever-sarcastic Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, who supervises Russian defense and security, tweeted a picture of Geletey with his hands stretched out saying: “they nuked us with a bomb this big.”

The Ukrainian general himself later denied the nuclear allegations, saying that the journalist had misinterpreted his words.

“Everyone knows that Russia is de facto using Ukrainian territory as a testing range for its new weapons,” Geletey wrote on his Facebook page. “What else than for testing did the Russians send 2S4s into our territory?”

“I stress that only competent specialists armed with special equipment may test whether or not a nuclear or any other weapon that we don’t know of was used. In particular they need to take radiation samples on the ground. Unfortunately, we cannot do that because Lugansk airport is currently under control of the terrorists and the Russian military,” he added.

The minister apparently is not completely honest, since direct access is not required to collect evidence of a nuclear detonation, even a small one. For instance, North Korea’s underground nuclear tests were independently proven to be genuine thanks to surveillance planes and monitoring stations equipped with radioactive isotope detectors.

Ukraine's Interior Minister Arsen Avakov (RIA Novosti / Alexandr Maksimenko)

Ukraine’s Interior Minister Arsen Avakov (RIA Novosti / Alexandr Maksimenko)

The 2S4 mortar can hardly be called new as well, even if Geletey bothered to provide any evidence of its presence in eastern Ukraine. Russia, or rather the Soviet Union, stopped producing them in 1988, although some remain in service. Other countries in possession of the weapon include Iraq, Libya and the Czech Republic, although it’s not immediately clear whether any of theirs remain in working order.

If anything, the defense minister and the journalist, who misreported his words, have given ammo to critics of Ukraine, saidAnton Gerashchenko, an aide to Interior Minister Arsen Avakov.

“Why would anyone make such statements that can be easily checked and proven false?” he wrote on his Facebook page. “In the end Russia and the entire world will now ridicule us. Too bad, it’s nothing new for us.”

The two Ukrainian ministries involved in the military campaign against rebel forces in the east have been trading accusations lately. The latest round of bickering this week came after Geletey said in an interview that “there were no real heroes” among the commanders of the Interior Ministry’s National Guard, who are now seeking seats in parliament. Avakov responded with a demand for an apology from his fellow minister.

Ukraine President Drags Poland and Lithuania Into His Quagmire

[SEE:  Poland to move thousands of troops to border with Ukraine]

Ukrainian President ratifies joint 4,500-strong military unit with Poland and Lithuania

Russia-Today
Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko.(Reuters / Valentyn Ogirenko)

Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko.(Reuters / Valentyn Ogirenko)

Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko has signed a law ratifying the creation of a joint military unit with Poland and Lithuania. The unit is set to carry out tasks which have been given a UN Security Council mandate.

“The Agreement provides for the establishment of joint Ukrainian-Polish-Lithuanian military unit and determines the general purpose, principles of activity, decision-making process, security guarantees and other organizational measures related to the activity of the brigade,” the Ukrainian president’s official website says.

The brigade is to become a UN and EU peacekeeping force. Other states can join it under joint invitation from the three states.

The Ukrainian commitment is planned at 545 soldiers, according to the country’s defense ministry. Poland and Lithuania were expected to contribute up to 3,800 and 350 servicemen respectively. The funding will be separate for each country’s contingent and it will be provided by the governments of the participants. The HQ is going to be situated in Lublin in Eastern Poland.

The defense ministers of the three countries agreed to form the unit last September in Warsaw, and plan to conduct the first joint military drill in 2015. Ukraine’s parliament ratified it on February 4.

The idea to create a joint Ukrainian-Polish-Lithuanian brigade was first put forward in 2007, when the three states decided to establish a joint battalion.

A year later, a more ambitious plan of assembling an entire brigade of Ukrainian, Lithuanian, and Polish troops was put forward.

Former Ambassador, Robert Ford, Blasts Obama’s Syrian Policy As “a huge failure,” “singularly unsuccessful”

Once a top booster, ex-U.S. envoy no longer backs arming Syrian rebels

McClatchy

By Hannah Allam

Congress SyriaRobert Ford, former U.S. ambassador to Syria, arrives to testify to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee about the conflict in Syria, on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. on Oct. 31, 2013.

J. SCOTT APPLEWHITE — AP

WASHINGTON — Robert Ford was always one of the Syrian rebels’ loudest cheerleaders in Washington, agitating from within a reluctant administration to arm vetted moderates to fight Bashar Assad’s brutal regime.

In recent weeks, however, Ford, the former U.S. ambassador to Syria who made news when he left government service a year ago with an angry critique of Obama administration policy, has dropped his call to provide weapons to the rebels. Instead, he’s become increasingly critical of them as disjointed and untrustworthy because they collaborate with jihadists.

The about-face, which is drawing murmurs among foreign policy analysts and Syrian opposition figures in Washington, is another sign that the so-called moderate rebel option is gone and the choices in Syria have narrowed to regime vs. extremists in a war that’s killed more than 200,000 people and displaced millions.

On the heels of meetings with rebel leaders in Turkey, Ford explained in an interview this week why his position has evolved: Without a strong central command or even agreement among regional players that al Qaida’s Nusra Front is an enemy, he said, the moderates stand little chance of becoming a viable force, whether against Assad or the extremists. He estimated that the remnants of the moderate rebels now number fewer than 20,000. They’re unable to attack and at this point are “very much fighting defensive battles.”

In short: It makes no sense to keep sending help to a losing side.

“We have to deal with reality as it is,” said Ford, who’s now with the Middle East Institute in Washington. “The people we have backed have not been strong enough to hold their ground against the Nusra Front.”

Ford today sounds like a different person from the optimist who only six months ago wrote an essay in Foreign Policy that began: “Don’t believe everything you read in the media: The moderate rebels of Syria are not finished. They have gained ground in different parts of the country and have broken publicly with both the al Qaida affiliate operating there and the jihadists of the Islamic State.”

Now, however, on panels and in speeches, Ford has accused the rebels of collaborating with the Nusra Front, the al Qaida affiliate in Syria that the U.S. declared a terrorist organization more than two years ago. He says opposition infighting has worsened and he laments the fact that extremist groups now rule in most territories outside the Syrian regime’s control.

Ford said part of the problem was that too many rebels – and their patrons in Turkey and Qatar – insisted that Nusra was a homegrown, anti-Assad force when in fact it was an al Qaida affiliate whose ideology was virtually indistinguishable from the Islamic State’s. The Obama administration already has suffered a string of embarrassments involving supplies it’s donated to the rebels ending up in the hands of U.S.-designated terrorist groups.

“Nusra Front is just as dangerous, and yet they keep pretending they’re nice guys, they’re Syrians,” Ford said. “The second problem is, some of our stuff has leaked to them.”

As his calls to arm the rebels have become more muted, Ford has grown more vocal about the relationship between the rebels and Nusra, something U.S. officials have preferred to ignore, at least in public.

At a seminar last month where the audience included prominent Syrian dissidents he’d worked with for years, Ford began with a disclaimer that what he was about to say was “not going to be popular” among the opposition crowd.

He then launched into an indictment of the moderate rebels, pulling no punches as he told them they could forget about outside help as long as they kept collaborating with Nusra. He suggested that supportive U.S. officials had grown tired of covering for them before an administration and an American public that are skeptical of deeper U.S. involvement in Syria.

“For a long time, we have looked the other way while the Nusra Front and armed groups on the ground, some of whom are getting help from us, have coordinated in military operations against the regime,” Ford said. “I think the days of us looking the other way are finished.”

Most audience members were familiar with Ford’s record, and they were visibly surprised at the tongue lashing; they knew him as a relentless defender of the rebels, someone who’d ended a long diplomatic career a year ago this month with scathing words about the Obama administration’s refusal to arm them. Ford is often described as the first senior official to come out so vocally against U.S. policy toward Syria; the White House is still furious with his decision to go off-message.

Ford hasn’t softened his stance against the U.S. role in the Syrian catastrophe – he still describes American policy as “a huge failure” and “singularly unsuccessful” – but now he doesn’t spare the rebels their share of the blame. He has little patience for the argument that they were forced to work with Nusra and other unpalatable partners because of broken Western promises of assistance. There needs to be agreement, he said, that an al Qaida affiliate is off-limits as a partner.

“It becomes impossible to field an effective opposition when no one even agrees who or what is the enemy,” he said.

Ford said the latest U.S. approach of ditching the old rebel model to build a new, handpicked paramilitary to focus on the Islamic State was doomed; Syrian rebels are more concerned with bringing down Assad than with fighting extremists for the West, and there are far too few fighters to take the project seriously.

“The size of the assistance is still too small,” he said. “What are they going to do with 5,000 guys? Or even 10,000 in a year? What’s that going to do?”

The Assad regime is eager to present itself as an alternative, but Ford said the Syrian military had been severely weakened and that it was doubtful the regime could pull off a successful campaign against the extremists. Then there’s the political and moral fallout that would come from a U.S. détente with a man American officials have described since 2011 as a butcher who’s lost the legitimacy to rule.

Ford said the time had come for U.S. officials and their allies to have a serious talk about “boots on the ground,” though he was quick to add that the fighters didn’t need to be American. He said a professional ground force was the only way to wrest Syria from the jihadists.

And any parallel effort to build up a local rebel movement would have to be streamlined through a central, Syrian chain of command, he said. International partners, Ford said, have to ditch the current “nonsensical” framework in which regional powerhouses each fund client groups in an uncoordinated tangle that he said would be comical if the results weren’t so tragic.

And if those steps can’t be achieved, said the man known for advocating greater U.S. involvement, “then we have to just walk away and say there’s nothing we can do about Syria.”

Email: hallam@mcclatchydc.com; Twitter: @HannahAllam.

Read more here: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2015/02/18/257024/once-a-top-booster-ex-us-envoy.html#storylink=cpy

Baghdadi’s Bucca Records Turn-Up–Released, Dec. 8, 2004

[SEE:  What is the truth about ISIS?]

baghdadi

1yr in US custody as ‘civilian detainee’: Declassified files shed light on mysterious ISIS leader

Russia-Today

A man purported to be the reclusive leader of the militant Islamic State Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi (Reuters/Social Media Website via Reuters TV)

A man purported to be the reclusive leader of the militant Islamic State Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi (Reuters/Social Media Website via Reuters TV)

The leader of ISIS jihadist group and self-proclaimed “caliph” Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, spent nearly a year in US custody in Iraq in 2004 as a “civilian detainee,” declassified military documents have revealed.

Baghdadi-Detainee-File

The files were obtained by Business Insider through a Freedom of Information Act request, revealing new details about the mysterious jihadist leader. The Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL ) chief was identified by his birth name, Ibrahim Awad Ibrahim Al Badry, in the detainee information records, viewed by the website.

The documents helped determine the time, spent by Baghdadi in US custody, more precisely as there had previously been conflicting reports on the issue.

According to the records, his “capture date” was February 4, 2004, with the detention taking place in Fallujah in central Iraq. Baghdadi was then held in several prison facilities in the country, including Camp Bucca and Camp Adder, with the date of his “release in place” being December 8, the same year.

The papers list him as a “civilian detainee,” meaning that he was not considered a member of any militant group at that time, but was still held for security reasons.

The declassified records identified Baghdadi’s “civilian occupation” as “administrative work (secretary).”

The book called “ISIS: Inside The Army of Terror” by Michael Weiss and Hassan Hassan claims that Baghdadi was arrested together with Nessayif Numan Nessayif, who was the real target of the US military.

The date of his birth was redacted in the files received by Business Insider, but the website said that the current IS leader was listed as having been 43 years old in 2014. The paper also included details on Baghdadi’s family, revealing that he was married and next of kin was an uncle. However, the names of his family members were also redacted.

The Islamic State has declared a caliphate, with Baghdadi as its ruler, after capturing large parts of Iraqi and Syrian territory last summer. The jihadist group is notorious for its brutality, ethnic cleansings of minorities and executions of Western hostages.

A US-led coalition has been conducting regular airstrikes against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria since August 2014, with several unconfirmed reports stating that Baghdadi might have been injured in one of the raids.

baghdadi bucca

IMF Puts the Screws To Ukraine for Latest Bailout–280% Increase In Gas Prices Mandated

[Let the Food Riots in Ukraine Begin!  How will Obama and Bitch Nuland manage to blame Putin for the coming anti-austerity protests?]

IMF aid package pushes Ukraine gas prices up 280%

Russia-Today
Reuters / Regis Duvignau

Reuters / Regis Duvignau

Ukraine has agreed to increase the cost of gas to consumer by 280 percent, and 66 percent for heating, as part of the IMF terms for getting extra financial aid, says Valery Gontareva the head of the National Bank of Ukraine.

“From now on, in accordance with our joint program with the IMF, the tariffs will see rather a sharp increase of 280 percent for gas and about 66 percent for heat,” said Gontareva Wednesday during the 11th Dragon Capital investment conference in Kiev. She added that as a result inflation will be 25-26 percent by the end of 2015.

The tariff rises are part of the amendments to the 2015 budget the government has had to introduce in order to receive an $8.5 billion loan from the IMF by the end of the year.

The changes will also see Ukraine’s budget deficit growing to 4.1 percent of GDP and forecasts a 5.5 percent decline in the Ukrainian economy.

Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk had warned of future price rises for gas and heating, and stressed the IMF saved Ukraine from default, and now it’s time to make moves which should eventually result in Ukraine’s complete independence from Russian gas.

The tariff increase was among the subjects Ukraine and the IMF touched upon during negotiations in January. Deputy Chairman of the Ukraine parliament’s budget committee Viktor Krivenko said the IMF had requested a sevenfold increase in prices.

The head of IMF Christine Lagarde said on February 12 that the preliminary agreement reached between Kiev and Western creditors envisages increasing the aid package to $40 billion over the next four years.

The program will help Ukraine receive an additional $25 billion in financial aid, of which $17.5 billion will be provided to stabilize the financial situation in the country.

The latest IMF program will replace the $17 billion package agreed in April 2014. Ukraine has already received $4.5 billion under that agreement, thus the total IMF loans to Ukraine since the beginning of the crisis amount to $22 billion.

Putin Signs Gas Deal With Pal Orban, After Ending South Stream

[SEE:  Putin To Make All Gas To EU “Self-Serve” At Turkish Fuel Depot]

Orban Attacks EU Energy Plan as Putin Link Nets Hungary Gas Deal

BLOOMBERG

(Bloomberg) — Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said he won’t support a European Union plan to integrate the bloc’s energy policy a day after he reached a gas-supply agreement with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Hungary wouldn’t support amending the EU’s charter to create an “energy union,” Orban told reporters in Budapest Wednesday. The country will also refrain from re-selling Russian gas to Ukraine, he said.

The plan “would require involving the EU in bilateral relationships,” Orban said. “For us, this would be abdicating our sovereignty.”

European leaders are looking for ways to cut the 28-nation bloc’s reliance on Russian oil and gas as the conflict in Ukraine chills relations with the Kremlin. Orban, who hosted Putin for bilateral talks, has often cited Hungary’s energy dependence for opposing stiffer sanctions on Russia.

Hungary was among the countries that suffered from disruptions in gas shipments as Russia halted deliveries twice in the past decade. Russia supplies at least 60 percent of the country’s consumption according to the International Energy Agency.

The European Commission, the EU’s executive, plans to adopt the energy pact proposal on Feb. 25, Vice President Maros Sefcovic said Feb. 4. The plan includes creating an internal market and uniting member states “to improve our negotiating power with non-EU countries,” according to an outline on the commission’s website.

The energy union proposal, on track to be released next week, focuses on measures that can be adopted over the next year and doesn’t include any treaty change proposals, an EU official said, asking not to be identified in line with policy.

Gas Deal

Orban said he agreed with Putin on Tuesday to avert a 3 billion-euro ($3.4 billion) gas payment by rolling over unused volumes from a 20-year-old contract that expires this year.

The agreement will ensure gas supplies for as many as five years, making a new long-term contract unnecessary, Orban said. That’s in line with Hungary’s interests not to lock in a set price amid gas-price volatility, he said.

Hungary currently pays $260 per 1,000 cubic meters of gas, he said. That compares with an estimated $270 average in Europe, Ekaterina Rodina, an oil and gas analyst at VTB Capital, a brokerage in Moscow, said by phone.

Orban has widened his nation’s energy cooperation with Russia since he returned to power in 2010. Last year, he agreed with Putin on a loan of about 10 billion euros to expand Hungary’s nuclear power plant and Russian state-owned gas exporter OAO Gazprom stored 700 million cubic meters of the fuel in the country. Gazprom is open to boosting this amount, Orban said.

Defiant Orban

Aside from Orban’s criticism of the sanctions, Hungary defied the EU to support South Stream, a Russian-backed pipeline that would have circumvented Ukraine. Putin canceled the project last year, citing the trading bloc’s opposition. The Hungarian leader also rankled some of his EU counterparts and the government in Kiev with a call for autonomy for ethnic Hungarians in Ukraine, echoing similar demands for the Russian minority by the Kremlin.

At home, Orban extolled what he labeled “illiberal democracy,” citing Putin’s Russia as a model.

More recently, Orban has toned down his rhetoric as relations suffered with NATO allies, including the U.S. He pledged to follow Berlin’s cue on foreign policy and hosted Merkel this month. Orban also traveled to Kiev to meet President Petro Poroshenko after the cease-fire agreement in Minsk.

At his news conference with Putin, Orban warned against isolating Russia.

“Russia and Hungary are mutually dependent on one another, even if this resembles more the dependence of, say, an elephant and a mouse,” Orban said. “We also have to give something in return as” Russia “needs to know it can count on us.”

To contact the reporters on this story: Edith Balazs in Budapest at ebalazs1@bloomberg.net; Zoltan Simon in Budapest at zsimon@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Balazs Penz at bpenz@bloomberg.net; James M. Gomez at jagomez@bloomberg.net Paul Abelsky

Qatar’s Puppets Outgun Saudi Egyptian Puppet In Libya

[The following Qatari propaganda organ Aljazeera gloats over Egypt’s dilemma in Libya, trying to defeat the Islamist side of Libya’s two-headed govt, without reigniting the Muslim Brotherhood Islamist revolution in Egypt.  Al-Sisi is now playing the UN Trump Card, hoping to force the United Nations to take responsibility for closing the can of worms that it once helped Obama to open (SEE:  Egypt says UN should weigh all options on ISIL in Libya).  Qatar paid for the original aggression against Libya, because the Fat Pig of Qatar held a grudge against Khaddafy.  Obama, the Brits and the French laid waste to the country, in order to empower the MB terrorists, planning on exporting their terror to Syria, next, along with half of Libya’s vast arsenal.  Now that the Saudi’s Egyptian valet is coming up against the Islamists of Obama and Qatar, he wants new, improved weaponry to be thrown into the Libyan fire.
Everything continues to follow Obama’s plan…both the Saudis and the Qataris are Obama’s slaves…]
assclown ASSCLOWN

Will Libya be Egypt’s quagmire?

aljazeera

 
Egyptian president says international community must intervene in Libya but what would be the regional implications?

Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi says the international community must intervene in Libya after Cairo said its fighter jets had bombed suspected ISIL targets in the eastern city of Derna.

The president acted after fighters pledging allegiance to ISIL released a video on Sunday purporting to show the beheading of 21 Egyptian Christians.

Sisi called the 2011 NATO operation that helped unseat leader Muammar Gaddafi an “unfinished mission”.

Libya is already embroiled in conflict, with the country torn between two governments. There have been calls for an international intervention to help put an end to the chaos there.

But could Egypt lead that intervention? And what are the implications for Egypt itself and the region?

Will Greece turn to China-Russia?

Will Greece turn to China-Russia?

failed revolution

Greece only has a few days to either agree to an extended EU bailout, or walk away from its European partners and seek other assistance, possibly Russia or China, or other BRICS countries.”
Finance ministers from the eurozone will meet with Greek counterpart Yanis Varoufakis on Friday February 20 to either extend the current bailout program or sign a new deal. If no progress is made, Greece could be forced to leave the euro currency.”
The EU is nervous about Greece looking elsewhere to get a better deal, according to former British diplomat William Mallinson. ‘They fear above all Greece getting closer to Russia, as it ought to historically in any case. Because at the end of the day, they know very well that it is possible to have a BRICS loan with perhaps Russian-Chinese help, with far lower interest rates,’ Mallinson told RT.”
A move towards China or Russia would deepen the divide between Athens and the rest of the EU, says Mallinson, and any EU country that comes to Greece’s rescue could also be economically isolated. ‘Or who knows, even a compromise with Russian help and some individual European countries,’ he suggests. However, the cost of borrowing for Greece continues to rise as government debt continues to devalue. Greek banks are very dependent on help from the European Central Bank.”
Greece’s Deputy Foreign Minister, Nikos Chountis, confirmed that Greece examines a plan B in case that the negotiations with the European “partners” about the debt will be driven to a dead end. […] “There have been proposals, offers I would say, from Russia, recently after the election, for economic support as well as from China, regarding help, investment possibilities,” Chountis said, …
Earlier, the Greek Defence Minister Panos Kammenos spoken about a plan B, concerning funding from Russia and China or other countries:
As BRICS are in the processes to decouple economies from the Western neoliberal monetary monopoly, they could bring back the gold standard as a base for their transactions, which is much more steady than the paper money unstable financial bubbles. They are ready, because they are emerging economies with billions of potential consumer tanks and can attract other countries too being victims of the international financial mafia, like Argentina and Greece.

Court Order blocking Obama plan to defer deportation

Order blocking Obama plan to defer deportation

latimes

A fed­er­al judge in Texas has is­sued a pre­lim­in­ary in­junc­tion block­ing Pres­id­ent Obama’s pro­gram that would de­fer de­port­a­tion for up to 5 mil­lion people liv­ing in the United States il­leg­ally.

Case 1:14-cv-00254 Document 144 Filed in TXSD on 02/16/15 Page 1 Of 3

IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FEB 1 6 2015
FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF TEXAS
BROWNSVILLE DIVISION Wuamwm?ogm

STATE OF TEXAS, ET AL.,
Plaintiffs,
V. CIVIL NO. B?l4-254

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, ET AL.,
Defendants.



ORDER OF TEMPORARY INJUNCTION

The Court having found that at least one Plaintiff has satis?ed all the necessary elements
to maintain a lawsuit and to Obtain a Temporary Injunction hereby grants the Motion for
Temporary Injunction [Doc. NO. The United States of America, its departments, agencies,
Of?cers, agents and employees and Jeh Johnson, Secretary Of the Department of Homeland
Security; R. Gil Kerlikowske, Commissioner Of United States Customs and Border Protection;
Ronald D. Vitiello, Deputy Chief of United States Border Patrol, United States Customs and
Border Protection; Thomas S. Winkowski, Acting Director of United States Immigration and
Customs Enforcement; and Leon Rodriguez, Director Of United States Citizenship and
Immigration Services are hereby enjoined from implementing any and all aspects or phases Of
the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents 
program as set out in the Secretary Of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson?s memorandum dated
November 20, 2014 Memorandum?), pending a ?nal resolution of the merits Of this
case or until a further order of this Court, the United States Court Of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
or the United States Supreme Court. The reasons for this injunction are set out in detail in the
accompanying Memorandum Opinion and Order, but, to summarize, it is due to the failure of the

Defendants to comply with the Administrative Procedure Act.

For similar reasons, the United States of America, its departments, agencies, of?cers,
agents and employees and Jeh Johnson, Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security; R.
Gil Kerlikowske, Commissioner of United States Customs and Border Protection; Ronald D.
Vitiello, Deputy Chief of United States Border Patrol, United States Customs and Border
Protection; Thomas S. Winkowski, Acting Director of United States Immigration and Customs
Enforcement; and Leon Rodriguez, Director of United States Citizenship and Immigration
Services are further enjoined from implementing any and all aspects or phases of the expansions
(including any and all changes) to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals 
program as outlined in the DAPA Memorandum pending a trial on the merits or until a further
order of this Court, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals or the United States Supreme Court.

In addition to any other relief provided by law, the Defendants are given leave to
reapproach this Court for relief from this Order, in the time period between the date of this Order
and the trial on the merits, for good cause, including if Congress passes legislation that
authorizes DAPA or at such a time as the Defendants have complied with the requirements of the
Administrative Procedure Act. The parties are ordered to meet and confer and formulate and ?le
with the Court by February 27, 2015 an agreed upon (to the extent possible) schedule for the
resolution on the merits. The Court will hold a conference call among counsel after it reviews
this submission.

The Court has considered the issue of security as per Rule 65(0) of the Federal Civil
Rules of Procedure. It ?nds that the Defendants will not suffer any ?nancial loss that warrants
the need for the Plaintiffs to post security. The Fifth Circuit has held that a district court has the
discretion to ?require no security at all? and the Court hereby exercises that authority based upon

the facts and circumstances of the case, the issues being decided and the parties involved.

Kaepa, Inc. v. Achilles F.3d 624, 628 (5th Cir. 1996); see also Corrigan Dispatch Co.
12. Casa Guzman, S.A., 569 F.2d 300 (5th Cir. 1978); Wright Miller, Federal Practice and

Procedure, 2954.

Signed this 16?? day of February, 2015.

ext.?

Andrew S. Hanen
United States District Judge

Georgian Prosecutor’s Office–‘Ukraine Refuses to Extradite Saakashvili’

Georgian Prosecutor’s Office: ‘Ukraine Refuses to Extradite Saakashvili’

civil.ge

Civil Georgia, Tbilisi

Georgian Chief Prosecutor’s Office said in a statement on February 17 that despite its request, Ukraine has “not cooperated” with Georgia and refuses to extradite ex-president Mikheil Saakashvili and ex-justice minister Zurab Adeishvili.

On February 13 Saakashvili, wanted by the Georgian authorities, was appointed by Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko as his adviser and head of International Advisory Council on Reforms. The Georgian Foreign Ministry summoned Ukrainian ambassador in Tbilisi over Saakashvili’s appointment.

Although ex-justice minister of Georgia Zurab Adeishvili, who is also wanted by Tbilisi, has no official post in the Ukrainian government, he is informally advising Ukrainian authorities, according to former Georgian officials now working in Ukraine.

A close ally of Saakashvili and Adeishvili, Georgian MP from UNM party, Davit Sakvarelidze was appointed as Deputy General Prosecutor of Ukraine on February 16, joining several other former Georgian officials who took senior government posts in Ukraine, among them Eka Zguladze, who is Ukraine’s Deputy Interior Minister; Gia Getsadze, who is Ukraine’s Deputy Justice Minister, and Alexander Kvitashvili, who is Ukraine’s Healthcare Minister.

“Extradition of wanted persons between Ukraine and Georgia is carried out according to the European Convention on Extradition of 1957, Minsk Convention on Legal Assistance and Legal Relations in Civil, Family and Criminal Matters of 1993, Bilateral Agreement signed between Georgia and Ukraine in 1995. Based on the aforementioned international treaties, parties undertake to review and extradite wanted persons to the other country in accordance with the provisions of the Agreement,” the Georgian Chief Prosecutor’s Office said in the written statement on February 17.

“Therefore, since charges have been filed against Mikheil Saakashvili and Zurab Adeishvili, they are wanted in Georgia, and Adeishvili is further wanted under [Interpol’s] Red Notice… Office of the Chief Prosecutor of Georgia has addressed the Prosecutor General’s Office of Ukraine with petitions on the identification, detention and extradition of the aforementioned persons,” the Georgian prosecutor’s office said.

“Notwithstanding the above obligations between the two countries in the field of extradition, the Ukrainian side has not cooperated with the Office of the Chief Prosecutor of Georgia in the matter of the extradition of Mikheil Saakashvili and Zurab Adeishvili to Georgia, and has refused to extradite the abovementioned persons,” it said.

INTERPOL

ADEISHVILI, ZURAB

ADEISHVILI, ZURAB

Wanted by the judicial authorities of Georgia for prosecution / to serve a sentence

Identity particulars

Present family name: ADEISHVILI
Forename: ZURAB
Sex: Male
Date of birth: 27/07/1972 (42 years old)
Place of birth: Georgia
Language spoken: Georgian, English, Russian
Nationality: Georgia

Charges Published as provided by requesting entity

Charges:

1. Organizing the abuse of official power by a state political official against the public interest, with the intent to obtain benefit for oneself and others that resulted in the substantial violation of rights of natural and legal persons and the legitimate interests of the public and state, committed with the use of violence and in the manner of humiliating the personal dignity of the victim; 2. Organizing the degrading and inhuman treatment of inmates revealed in their humiliation, intimidation inhuman treatment and putting them in a position degrading human dignity and honour, which caused strong physical, mental pain and moral suffering, committed by a public official, with the abuse of official power, against two or more persons, by a group, against detainee and by a hired offender; 3. Organizing the falsification of evidences regarding the criminal case of a grave crime; 4. Organizing the provocation of crimes.

Troublemaking Bitch Nuland Starting New Fires In Georgia, Azerbaijan Today

US Assistant Secretary goes on tour of South Caucasus

VESTNIK KAVKAZA

17 February 2015 – 11:32amThe US Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, Victoria Nuland, travels to Baku today.

 

During the trip, she will meet with Prime Minister of Georgia Irakli Garibashvili, Minister of Foreign Affairs Tamar Beruchashvili, Defense Minister Mindy Dzhanelidze and Minister of Justice Thea Tsulukiani. In addition, President of Georgia Giorgi Margvelashvili will receive the Assistant Secretary of State.

 

Meetings with opposition leaders and representatives of civil society are also scheduled, Trend reports.

 

During official meetings, Georgia’s integration into European and Euro-Atlantic structures, the situation in the country and the region and Georgia’s efforts to defend its territorial integrity and sovereignty will be discussed.

All they care about is to complete the brutal, neoliberal experiment in Greece at any cost

Euro-puppets dirty games exposed

failed revolution
by system failure
After yesterday’s eurogroup parody, further evidence of the real role of the Brussels eurocrats has been revealed. The eurocrat banking puppets behaved to the Greek government officials like they were childs, trying to trap them through cheap tricks.
As the Greek FinMin, Yanis Varoufakis, stated, he was ready to sign an intermediate proposal, but the eurocrats finally decided to change the content going back to their initial position, demanding from Greece to continue Troika’s catastrophic measures. A summary of the draft, also published here, was based on a 4-month intermediate period during which both sides could reach an acceptable agreement.
Indeed, Paul Mason revealed through his twitter account an updated draft closer to the Greek positions, presumably proposed by Pierre Moscovici, which Varoufakis was ready to sign to surpass the dead end in negotiations. A characteristic part of the draft leaves no doubt that the Greek government could “breathe” gaining some time: “The above forms a basis for an extension of the current loan agreement, which could take the form of a [four-month] intermediate program, as a transitional stage to a new contract for growth for Greece, that will be deliberated and concluded during this period.” (http://failedevolution.blogspot.gr/2015/02/updated-draft-revealed-by-paul-mason.html)
However, the strong Brussels-Frankfurt axis prevailed and demanded from the Greek government to request the extension of the current catastrophic program. In other words, the axis demanded from Greece to declare submission to the banking-corporate lobbies that demand the completion of the Greek experiment.
Why do they insist in such a hard line against Greece? We can guess at least two basic reasons:
First, the axis fears a potential domino of Leftist and anti-neoliberal powers in Europe starting from Spain, where Podemos precedes in all recent polls. This explains the stance of the Spanish PM, Mariano Rajoy, who is fully aligned with the German hard position against Greece. Let’s not forget that he was the one who rushed to visit the former Greek PM, Antonis Samaras, in Athens, in order to express his support prior to the Greek elections, when all the polls were giving a win to Alexis Tsipras and his party, SYRIZA. (http://failedevolution.blogspot.gr/2015/01/banksters-and-lobbyists-unite-their.html)
Second, the axis is not willing to give Greece time to prepare better for a Grexit. Even a short four-month period would give the chance to the Greek government to make the appropriate arrangements in order to return to national currency if necessary. This would give another card to play in case that the eurocrats would insist to the blackmail tactic, as usual.
Now you know. The eurocrat puppets don’t really care about the humanitarian crisis in Greece. They don’t care about the suicides, the devastated lives, the unemployment, the collapsed welfare state. They don’t care about the improvement of the economy. They don’t care at all.
All they care about is the sell-out of public property to their masters. All they care about is to complete the brutal, neoliberal experiment in Greece at any cost. The new government and the Greek people resist, and they don’t like it at all because eventually the Greeks may become an example for all the European people.
Read also:

RAGE—because there is no rage

[The following was sent by a reader of the site.  I sympathize with Al, but, for a man with his varied political interests, one would think that his disillusionment with the left would have set in during Obama’s first term.  I have two suggestions–stop reading anyone related to the London School, and look for different sources (Chossudofsky banned me from Global Research years ago).  You have been officially marginalized.  You will have zero chance of being heard, unless you manage to arrange a very public heckling arrest.  If that happens, let me know and I will let others know.    Peter]

RAGE—because there is no rage

-al perry

NEWS FROM THE STREET #2
(february 16, 2015)
wow…what a night…i found out a few days ago that world-renowned leftist and co-editor of new left review (a publication i subscribed to for 10 years) tariq ali was to appear at a bookstore on the lower east side…i’m a long time fan but have never met him or heard him speak in public…ever since 2000 or 2001 i’ve occasionally provided links from my band’s website to his essays and articles…one particular article he wrote, a scathing critique of obama’s first term, i must have read over 10 times…so i was excited to hear he’d be in new york today….
i packed a bottle of water, a used marcuse book to read on the journey, and a whole bunch of cd’s of my, now defunct, folk rock band, “losing touch”…our cd was entitled”with time” and was released in 2002…i have quite a few left gathering dust and figured i can hand some out for free to friends i may make, including possibly tariq, along the way…my band and i performed a few gigs in manhattan and new jersey at the time but i hated performing (i’m the singer and acoustic guitarist) so we got nowhere…well, actually we were played several times on a commercial rock station in n.j., wdha…quite a feat for an unsigned band…we also received kudos from some big names like neal casal (of the chris robinson brotherhood), evan dando of the lemonheads, and even actress ally sheedy…i know this may seem like i’m trying to brag or something, but i’m not…i feel i have to get in a quick bio because many on the left, it seems, think i’m some kind of informant…or maybe agent provocateur…nothing could be further from the truth…true, i do not disguise my rage but a cold hard look at today’s political climate should have ANY sensitive individual GOING INSANE!…
 i’m a lifelong chronic depressive and anti-depressants, and even medical marijuana!, have unpleasant effects on me – they don’t work…in 2005 i moved to tucson, arizona and became more of a recluse…luckily my mother moved out there too so by the time i left and returned to the east coast my social circle was composed of 2 people…3 if you count me…i had to leave tucson – the police didn’t like my one man protesting with my guitar…they even locked me up a couple of times…i decided to protest in the rich part of town…one time they followed me with a crime chopper!…
well, i returned to the east coast, after some failed attempts at trying to feel better in n.j. and killorglin, ireland…the state i was raised in, n.j., was way too expensive for a guy like me to live in…i had to stop working in 2010…i couldn’t function even as a night security guard…food stamps and family charity – the feds won’t give me cash assistance and i’ve been waiting for years now for disability assistance but nada…i guess they don’t like radicals…having an outstanding warrant for my arrest in the state of arizona, i guess, doesn’t help…it’s only a misdemeanor so it’s not extradictable…i refused to leave the entrance of a church because they locked the door on me and wouldn’t tell me why they wouldn’t let me in…the police told me to move along but i refused until i received a proper reply…shockingly, it was not forthcoming!…the religious hypocrites would rather have me in jail than answer any questions!…i didn’t show up at the trial…the state already wanted me badly and i know when i’m being railroaded…this all involved my exposing of the pax americana…and 911…my one friend chuck aubrey, himself a rabble rouser, was often there for support…he’s got a clip on youtube where he’s interviewing richard gage of 911 truth…
my chronic depression and overwhelming desire for isolation has gotten progressively worse over the years…my sister helen took her own life on feb. 1, 2007…she was living in gouda, holland…tragedy hit again with superstorm sandy…i’ve been a life long collector of vinyl records and books…i lost over 1,000 books and 1,500 vinyl records…the passaic river in new jersey overflowed and most of what i owned in storage was underneath dirty river water for several days…i also lost all my recording equipment, my stereo system and musical instruments…most of my cd’s were salvageable…i’m 47 years old…that was a lifetime of collecting i lost…i’ll never be able to afford or find most of those records again…i don’t care about the recording equipment…
i’m living now in easton, pennsylvania…i’ve contacted my band members for a possible  reunion…but, unfortunately, they’re not quite interested…my new songs are incorrigibly very angry and they, having spouses, children, etc. don’t seem to want any trouble…they’re involved in other “safer” musical projects…

although a recluse, rage always seems to get me out of the house…rage at war…rage at imperialism…rage at innocents dying…rage at drone warfare…rage at lies…rage at compromise with the pax americana…etc….can rage be therapeutic?…i however have never hurt anyone physically whilst enraged…verbally, but not physically…i am confrontational, however, and am afraid of NO ONE…
well, today i had a 100 bucks to spend so i boarded a bus for 45 dollars at the easton station and arrived at the new york port authority bus terminal a couple hours later…i had some time to kill so i went to the “revolution” book store on west 26th street…i purchased two cheap used books by harry magdoff…(i used to subscribe to monthly review a few years ago – around the time harry passed away)…the elderly gentleman who was at the register, who’s name escapes me now, was extremely friendly…he too had lost a lot of books, records, photographs, etc. when his basement flooded years ago…i can’t believe i forgot to mention my music and i didn’t give him a free cd of mine…after all, i’m trying to get rid of them…next time…he did put me on the bookstore’s mailing list…here’s hoping the compromising, scared, disrespectful, machiavellian left doesn’t get to him…
i then walked a few blocks to the “democracy now” studio on west 25th…the security guard told me i needed an appointment to visit…”no problem”, i told him…i watch the program religiously and have emailed them quite often…sometimes to encourage them and sometimes to criticize them…i’ve never received a response but i’m sure they get tons of emails…i’ve been pretty persistent however when criticism is warranted but always in a spirit of respect…i thought i’d drop by today, introduce myself to whoever was there…(it was a little before 5p.m.)…and drop off some free cds…and tell them they could criticize me if they wanted…all in good fun…oh well, “next time”, i thought…
i then headed south through the streets of manhattan…surprised at all the changes…i used to work and commute into the city back in the nineties…and used to go to the shops until i moved to arizona…i performed with my band at a venue called “kenny’s castaways” on bleeker st. back in 2002…springsteen’s new york debut venue i was told at the time…sadly it’s no longer there…the “bottom line” tragically is also gone…it used to be on e. 4th…i saw and met john martyn there a few times!…tom rush…jorma kaukonen…dino valenti…etc….legends!…it’s nice to know “other music” is still there…i had some pizza on 2nd ave…and a pint of guinness on houston…
i arrived at the bookstore a couple minutes early…the place was packed…standing room only…all the chairs were taken…i stood near the entrance…i didn’t have much choice…it was basically an interview with tariq conducted by someone from “jacobin” magazine…tariq first spoke about the greek syriza party and then discussed the events in spain dealing with the “podemos” party…i have an estranged father who is living in portugal near the spanish border so lately i’ve been a bit curious about what’s been going on over there…when tariq seemed to conclude the spanish topic, i innocently raised my hand…i was going to ask him if the catalan and basque independence movements in spain are complicating the “podemos” situation…are these break away movements merely populist capitalist or do they have their own political factions?…i was ignored and rightly so because the question session was reserved for the end of the interview…however, i realized i was getting some ugly looks from some people…including what seemed like to me from the jacobin interviewer….i quickly shrugged it off thinking i’m paranoid and, of course, i should get out more…
tariq then discussed the topic of his recent book, the “extreme center”…a clipboard was passed around and i entered my name and email address…a money jar was also passed around (though they did make it clear that a contribution was not necessary)…i threw a 20 dollar bill in the jar…(once again, not bragging – just trying to make clear my pure intentions)…
when the audience question session started, i didn’t raise my hand right away (feeling a bit embarrased about raising it prematurely earlier)…i did, however, raise my hand after the first question was asked and answered…and i raised it again…and i raised it again…and i raised it again…and i raised it again…and i raised it again…the jacobin interviewer looked straight at me every time…i soon realized that my initial discomfort was actually well founded…people who had only raised their hand ONCE were getting chosen!…even one girl standing right next to me!…i persisted and while LOOKING RIGHT AT ME, the interviewer stated there would be no more questions taken…i came a long way to get a chance to ask tariq a question…i intended to purchase his book and if possible say hi, give him a free cd, and maybe get an autographed copy…i also wanted to MEET other leftists and sort of network…remember, this is not exactly easy for me…my only visitor in easton is my mother! who lives nearby in bethlehem…i’m coming off a decade of a 2 person social circle!…while raising my hand six or seven times, i was debating whether to address the spanish issue or the extreme center issue…
after raising my hand one last time, and being told again “no more questions”, i immediately realized that i was singled out right from the beginning!…some of them knew who i was…particularly the interviewer…they couldn’t have made it any clearer…i have been sending constructive criticism to many “left” outlets for a couple of years now…WELL WARRANTED CRITICISM…AND THEY KNOW THAT!…yes, i’m al perry…the guy who knows fires cannot pulverize concrete and steel and bring down steel high rises into their own footprint at freefall speed…yeah, al, the guy who feels the rage of the 911 victim’s family members, and thousands of demolition experts, pilots, firefighters, construction engineers, etc. who want answers…yeah, al perry, the guy who doesn’t believe the bullshit “beheading” videos presented by the zionist s.i.t.e. intelligence group to justify war where thousands are killed by satanic drone warfare which violates international law…yes, the al perry that’s completely flabberghasted as to why there are no major war protests!…why so called leaders of the left ignore these issues without TELLING US WHY and INSULT those who RIGHTFULLY are ENRAGED!!!
they think they know who i am and are afraid i might bring up a topic they didn’t want to discuss…maybe if they had showed some respect and spoken to me respectfully beforehand OR ANSWERED the myriad amounts of emails i’ve sent throughout the years, they would have known who i really am…
i have gotten NO RESPONSE throughout the years from “democracy now”, monthly review, new left review, the intercept, greenwald, scahill, klein, the nation…the list goes on and on…literally hundreds of emails asking perfectly valid questions and many times i offered words of ENCOURAGEMENT…NO REPLY AT ALL…
who have responded to my emails?…short list…tom hayden! (i was shocked…the godfather of protest!)…he understood my rage!…russell brand who tolerates my angry posts on his site…mike davis, who i emailed directly and although extremely busy, answered a few of my questions in detail…i’ll never bother him again out of respect and appreciation…
after realizing that i’ve been set up to look like public enemy number one, i became very angry and did something COMPLETELY UNPLANNED…COMPLETELY IMPROMPTU…ON THE SPUR OF THE MOMENT…AND I FELT EXHILIRATED!…
as half the audience was getting ready to leave, i suddenly shouted “SO I GUESS WE’RE NOT GONNA HEAR ABOUT 911 TONIGHT!…I CAN’T BELIEVE YOU TRAVEL TO NEW YORK CITY AND DON’T BRING UP 911!…AND WHAT ABOUT THE FAKE BEHEADINGS PROVIDED BY THE S.I.T.E. INTELLIGENCE GROUP?!……AND WHERE ARE THE PROTESTS?!!!…THERE’S A WAR GOING ON, YOU FUCKS!!!..THERE’S A WAR TO PROTEST!!!…HIT THE STREETS!!!…WHERE ARE THE PROTESTS…PEOPLE ARE DYING!!!…” and other words to that effect…i was then asked by an employee of the bookstore to leave…i was already on my way out…i hadn’t intended the night to end this way so i left…when outside, still enraged, i slammed my backpack on the storefront window…
I FELT GREAT!…TARIQ, YOU HAD IT COMING…PERHAPS I’VE EVEN STATED..YELLED…THINGS YOU’D LIKE TO SAY BUT FIND YOURSELF FOR SOME REASON UNABLE TO UTTER…
IT’S OBVIOUS THAT MANY ON THE LEFT ARE ENGAGED IN A CONCERTED EFFORT NOT TO MENTION CERTAIN TOPICS…THEY’VE AVAILED THEMSELVES OF MACHIAVELLIAN STRATEGIES WHICH THEY OBVIOUSLY THINK THE RABBLE WOULD NOT UNDERSTAND!!!!!!!!!!…….BUT WHEN THEY DESIST FROM PROTESTING  WAR…THE DEATHS OF THOUSANDS…DRONE WARFARE…THEY’VE GONE TOO FAR!!!…OFTEN, THESE LEFT OUTLETS SHAMEFULLY ECHO NEWS I HEAR ON THE MAINSTREAM WITHOUT QUESTIONING IT!!!…MAKING THEMSELVES BLOODGUILTY!!!!!…AND AREN’T THEY SUPPOSED TO BE ORGANIZING PROTESTS?!…SHOULDN’T THEY TELL US WHERE THE FUCK TO MEET?!…
AND I’M SICK AND TIRED OF FUCKING WORDS!!!…HIT THE STREETS!!!!…SCARE THE STATUS QUO!!!!…..I CANNOT BELIEVE HOW EASY IT HAS BEEN FOR THE PAX AMERICANA TO RAMPAGE THROUGHOUT THIS EARTH THESE LAST FEW YEARS!!!…MOST OF THE LEFT IS EITHER SCARED OR COMPROMISING AND LYING!!!!……THAT’S RIGHT, LYING!!!…BEING DISINGENUOUS IS LYING!!!!!!!!…..AND THOUSANDS ARE DYING BECAUSE OF THIS BULLSHIT!!!!!….YOU’RE GONNA REGRET IT!…MARK MY WORDS!!!….
IF ANYONE OUT THERE WANTS FEARLESS, UNCOMPROMISING REPORTING GO TO THE GLOBAL RESEARCH WEBSITE RUN BY MICHEL CHOSSUDEVSKY AND BARRY ZWICKER IN CANADA…THEY ARE TRULY NOT BLOODGUILTY…and i’m sure would let me ask any question i like…
i now realize there’s a david and goliath situation in this country…if any of you authentic leftists want to protest war and drones this year, you’ll probably be alone…don’t worry…THINK OF BRIAN HAW!!!…that always gets me going…print some leaflets and signs…even if you’re alone, you can be very effective…there are courageous leftists out there organizing…for example, i was involved recently with the lepoco group of pennsylvania…a month ago 53 of us showed up at a drone command center in horsham, pa. to protest…it will soon be a monthly event…most cars driving by that reacted to the protest honked their approval…you can even go door to door in your neighborhood alerting people about what’s really going on in their world and what the scared left is afraid to mention…
i do not regret what i did tonight…it should’ve been done a long time ago…and i’m just getting started…
– al perry

The Great War Of The American Empire–Zero Hedge

The Great War Of The American Empire

zero hedge

Looking at a map of current American military engagements overseas, one cannot help but notice their wide geographical spread and their seemingly interminable nature. Battles have raged in Europe (Yugoslavia and Ukraine), in Africa, in the Middle East, and in central Asia. The American Empire has launched this country into a series of battles that have no end in sight and no location that may not become a focal point of military force. These battles, each a war in its own right, have drawn in forces and resources from U.S. allies in Europe through NATO and even drawn in Japan. The scope of this war is global. In fact, one part of this war has been called the Global War on Terror. To understand this war and grasp its meaning, in the hope of bringing it to an end, a descriptive name is needed that tells us what this war is about. The name suggested here is the “Great War of the American Empire”. Since World War I, another disastrous war that America joined, is called the Great War, we can refer to the Great War of the American Empire also as Great War II.

Great War II comprises a number of sub-wars. The American Empire is the common element and the most important driver in all the sub-wars mentioned below. American involvement has never been necessary in these sub-wars, but the decisions to make them America’s business have come from the Empire’s leaders. The name “Great War of the American Empire” emphasizes the continuity of all the sub-wars to produce one Great War, and the responsibility of the American Empire in choosing to participate in and create this Great War. Had America’s leaders chosen the radically different path of non-intervention and true defense of this continent, rather than overseas interventions, Great War II would not have occurred and not still be occurring.

The Great War of the American Empire began 25 years ago. It began on August 2, 1990 with the Gulf War against Iraq and continues to the present. Earlier wars involving Israel and America sowed the seeds of this Great War. So did American involvements in Iran, the 1977-1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran, and the Iran-Iraq War (1980-1988). Even earlier American actions also set the stage, such as the recognition of Israel, the protection of Saudi Arabia as an oil supplier, the 1949 CIA involvement in the coup in Syria, and the American involvement in Lebanon in 1958. Poor (hostile) relations between the U.S. and Libya (1979-1986) also contributed to a major sub-war in what has turned out to be the Great War of the American Empire.

The inception of Great War II may, if one likes, be moved back to 1988 and 1989 without objection because those years also saw the American Empire coming into its own in the invasion of Panama to dislodge Noriega, operations in South America associated with the war on drugs, and an operation in the Philippines to protect the Aquino government. Turmoil in the Soviet Union was already being reflected in a more military-oriented foreign policy of the U.S.

Following the Gulf War, the U.S. government engages America and Americans non-stop in one substantial military operation or war after another. In the 1990s, these include Iraq no-fly zones, Somalia, Bosnia, Macedonia, Haiti, Zaire, Sierra Leone, Central African Republic, Liberia, Albania, Afghanistan, Sudan, and Serbia. In the 2000s, the Empire begins wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya, and gets into serious military engagements in Yemen, Pakistan, and Syria. It has numerous other smaller military missions in Uganda, Jordan, Turkey, Chad, Mali, and Somalia. Some of these sub-wars and situations of involvement wax and wane and wax again. The latest occasion of American Empire intervention is Ukraine where, among other things, the U.S. military is slated to be training Ukrainian soldiers.

Terror and terrorism are invoked to rationalize some operations. Vague threats to national security are mentioned for others. Protection of Americans and American interests sometimes is made into a rationale. Terrorism and drugs are sometimes linked, and sometimes drug interdiction alone is used to justify an action that becomes part of the Great War of the American Empire. On several occasions, war has been justified because of purported ethnic cleansing or supposed mass killings directed by or threatened by a government.

Upon close inspection, all of these rationales fall apart. None is satisfactory. The interventions are too widespread, too long-lasting and too unsuccessful at what they supposedly accomplish to lend support to any of the common justifications. Is “good” being done when it involves endless killing, frequently of innocent bystanders, that elicits more and more anti-American sentiment from those on the receiving end who see Americans as invaders? Has the Great War II accomplished even one of its supposed objectives?

The Great War of the American Empire encompasses several sub-wars, continual warfare, continual excuses for continual warfare, and continual military engagements that promise Americans more of the same indefinitely. There is a web site called “The Long War Journal” that catalogs events all over the globe that are part of the Great War II, what the site calls the Long War. This site is a project of the “Foundation for Defense of Democracies”, which is a neocon organization that is promoting the Great War of the American Empire.

What they see, and accurately see, as a Long War is a portion of what is here called the Great War of the American Empire. The difference is that all the interventions and sub-wars of the past 25 years and all the military outposts of the U.S. government that provide the seeds of future wars and interventions are included in the Great War II. They all spring from the same source, even though each one has a different specific character.

*  *  *

Of course, none of this looks set to improve (or even stop escalating) following President Obama’s Force Authorization this week (as Ron Paul recently exclaimed)

The president is requesting Congress to pass an authorization for the use of military force (AUMF) resolution against ISIS. Congress has not issued a similar resolution since 2002, when President Bush was given the authority to wage war against Iraq. The purpose of this resolution is to give official authority to the president to do the things that he has already been doing for the past six years. Seems strange but this is typical for Washington. President Obama’s claim is that he does not need this authority. He claims, as have all other recent presidents, that the authority to wage war in the Middle East has been granted by the resolutions passed in 2001, 2002, and by article II of the Constitution. To ask for this authority at this time is a response to public and political pressure.

 

It has been reported that the president is going to request that the authority limit the use of ground troops. However it would not affect the troops already engaged in Syria and Iraq to the tune of many thousands. This new authority will acknowledge that more advisors will be sent. Most importantly it will appear to have given moral sanction to the wars that have already been going for years.

 

Interestingly it actually expands the ability of the president to wage war although the president publicly indicates he would like to restrain it. The new authorization explicitly does not impose geographic limits on the use of troops anywhere in the world and expands the definition of ISIS to that of all “associated forces.” A grant of this authority will do nothing to limit our dangerous involvement in these constant Middle East wars.

 

The war propagandists are very active and are winning over the support of many unsuspecting American citizens. It is not difficult to motivate resistance against an organization like ISIS that engages in such evil displays of horrific violence.

 

We have been fighting in the Middle East for 25 years. There have been no victories and no “mission accomplished.” Many needless deaths and dollars have been spent and yet we never reassess our policies of foreign interventionism. One would think after the humiliating defeat of the Republicans in 2008, as a reaction to the disastrous foreign policy of George W. Bush, that the American people would be more cautious in granting support to expanding our military presence in that region.

 

Even if our policies led to no boots on the ground, the unintended consequences of blowback and the enemy obtaining more American weapons will continue. The CIA has said that 20,000 foreigners are on their way to Iraq and Syria to join the ISIS. Our government has no more credibility in telling us the truth about the facts that require us to expand our military presence in this region than Brian Williams. Constant war propaganda has proven too often to be our nemesis in supporting constant war promoted by the neoconservatives and the military industrial complex.

 

It’s my opinion that giving additional authority to wage war in the Middle East is a serious mistake. Instead, the authority granted in 2001 and 2002 should be repealed. A simple and correct solution would be for our elected officials to follow the rules regarding war laid out in the Constitution.

 

Ironically there may well be some Republicans in the Congress who will oppose this resolution because of their desire to have an all-out war and not be limited in any way by the number of troops that we should be sending to this region. The only way that Congress can be persuaded to back off with our dangerous interventionism, whether it’s in the Middle East or Ukraine, is for the American people to speak out clearly in opposition.

 

There is no doubt that ISIS represents a monstrous problem – a problem that should be dealt with by the many millions of Arabs and Muslims in the region. ISIS cannot exist without the support of the people in the region. Currently it is estimated that their numbers are in a range of 30,000. This is not the responsibility of American soldiers or the American taxpayer.

 

Declaring war against ISIS is like declaring war against communism or fascism. The enemy cannot be identified or limited. Both are ideological and armies are incapable of stopping an idea, good or bad, that the people do not resist or that they support. Besides, the strength of ISIS has been enhanced by our efforts. Our involvement in the Middle East is being used as a very successful recruitment tool to expand the number of radical jihadists willing to fight and die for what they believe in. And sadly our efforts have further backfired with the weapons that we send ending up in the hands of our enemies and used against our allies and Americans caught in the crossfire. Good intentions are not enough. Wise policies and common sense would go a long way toward working for peace and prosperity instead of escalating violence and motivating the enemy.

*  *  *

Georgian Govt Summons Ukrainian Ambassador Over Appointment of Criminal Saakashvili

mikheil_saakashvili_Crop

TBILISI, DFWatch–The government in Georgia has summed the Ukrainian ambassador to explain why ex-president Mikheil Saakashvili, who is wanted in his home country, has been appointed to a high position in Kiev.

Ambassador Vasyl Tsybenko was asked to come to the Foreign Ministry in Tbilisi some time the coming week.

Also the Georgian ambassador to Ukraine will be dispatched for a similar purpose, to meet with the Kiev government and hear their explanation as to why Saakashvili was appointed as head of the Advisory International Council of Reforms, despite being a wanted man for which Interpol has issued a Red Alert.

Saakashvili is wanted in four criminal cases: For having ordered the beating of a parliamentarian in 2005, for covering up the murder of a 28 year old man in 2006, for ordering the dispersal of an opposition rally and storming an independent TV studio in 2008, and for embezzlement of more than four million US dollars.

Neither Ukraine’s ambassador to Georgia nor Georgia’s ambassador to Ukraine had commented by press time.

Can Art Inspire Revolution?

Henry Simon, Untitled (Industrial Frankenstein I), (1932)

What makes a work of art revolutionary? Is revolutionary art radical in form or content? Is it effective only insofar as it sparks concrete action? Or is portraying the marginalized as if their lives had some claim to beauty, their suffering to relevance, sufficiently revolutionary?

Lynd Ward Lynching, from the novel Wild Pilgrimage (1932), wood engraving 9 in x 6 3/4 in., Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art, Northwestern University, 1999.27.1 (click to enlarge)

The works on display in The Left Front: Radical Art in the ‘Red Decade’ 1929–1940, a newly opened exhibition at New York University’s Grey Art Gallery, gesture at a range of eloquent and arresting answers to these provocative questions. The exhibition traces the development of activist art in the wake of the Great Depression, when economic turbulence bred heightened social consciousness. The artists represented in The Left Front show are united in their conviction that art is intrinsically social — indeed, the draft manifesto of the John Reed Clubs, named for poet and founding member of the American Communist Party John Reed, issued a call for artists to “abandon decisively the treacherous illusion that art … can remain remote from historical conflicts.” The clubs, which were founded in 1929, strove to effect change through writing, art, and organizing. Their membership thought of activist writing, painting, and drawing not as the ineffable stuff of Homeric inspiration but rather as the product of honest labor. Activist artists regarded themselves, writes John Paul Murphy in the informative Grey Gazette that accompanies the exhibition, as “culture workers.”

Todros Geller, "Untitled (Factory)" (c.1930), watercolor, 12 x 10 in., Collection of Bernard Friedman

But how are culture workers to “produce” culture with maximal revolutionary impact? Different artists disagree as to how communist convictions are best or most effectively visualized, and the best part of The Left Front is the methodological tension that underwrites the varied approaches on display. On one end of the spectrum are satirical prints stylized enough to have a legible message, like Henry Glinetenkamp’s 1935 “Voter Puppets,” which depicts a huge puppet-master directing a political pageant as the faceless masses cast ballots behind him. The work suggests, and none too opaquely, that politics is as dominated by capital as the image is dominated by the looming puppeteer. It’s not crude so much as it’s single-minded: stark and bold, its design is clearly designed to incite action.

Werner Drewes, "Old Scarecrow––Hitler as Scarecrow" (1943)

In contrast, many of the prints and paintings in The Left Front are images of dereliction, rendered in listless browns and greys. These works have expressive rather than reformatory ambitions. Reginald Marsh’s 1930 watercolor “Chicago” depicts a deserted street lined with dilapidated buildings, and Eugene Morley’s stunning 1936 lithograph “Hurricane” shows a lone woman outside the wreckage of a cross-section of her house. The windswept room is open to both our invasive gaze and the elements, and the woman’s desolation is palpable: her fragile figure is visually negligible, eclipsed by the massive material violence of her environment. In a similarly despairing work, Alexander Stavenitz sketches out the very picture of dejection: the subject of 1930 etching “Subway No. 2” slumps over on a subway seat, subsumed by his hat and coat.

Rockwell Kent, "Solar Flare-Up" (1937), lithograph, 12 x 10 1/8 in., Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art, Northwestern University, 1994.94.4

These images of human discontent are complimented by images of inhuman bleakness — cityscapes reminiscent of Fritz Lang’s 1927 film Metropolis. In works like Ernest Fiene’s 1932 etching of Madison Square Park and Blance Grambs’ 1938 etching “Workers’ Homes,” oppressive backdrops weigh heavily on their subjects, enmeshing them in the impersonal immensity of the urban environment. These etchings imply that the built landscape of industrialization contains less and less space for those who built it. There is something haunting about sites of human habitation that are conspicuously without humans, and Boris Gorelick’s 1938 lithograph “Industrial Strife” takes this state of affairs to its logical conclusion. In his disturbing work, the city’s triumph over humanity is complete: human faces are flattened and superimposed onto clocks and buildings.

Harry Sternberg, "Terror" (1935), courtesy of Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art, Northwestern University

For many of the artists featured in The Left Front, the antidote to the convergence of human and city was a different sort of post-humanism, a forceful and revolutionary re-appropriation of the mechanized capitalist apparatus. As a plaque in the exhibition notes, “communists like John Reed believed that capitalists had created a ‘Frankenstein’s monster’ in industrial production that would come back to destroy them.” The human-machines that feature so powerlessly in Gorelick’s lithograph return with a revolutionary vengeance in two striking drawings by Henry Simon, both of which depict the proletariat as an enormous metal monster attacking a throng of tiny, terrified business moguls. The robotic figure is not at odds with his material environment but rather integrated into it.

American Artists of the John Reed Club (Amerikanskiye Khudozhniki “Dzhon Rid Klub”), Moscow, 1931, Pamphlet, 6 3/4 x 5 1/8 in., Courtesy Amherst Center for Russian Culture, Amherst College

If this sounds propagandistic, it because it is, paradoxically, an advertisement for anti-capitalism. The irony of using sensationalized images to serve the communist cause was not lost on yet another camp of activist artists, the so-called “social mystics,” who drew on the surrealist tradition to create works that were formally revolutionary. The “products” of social mysticism reject capitalism’s insistence on images that lend themselves to easy, thoughtless consumption, striving to create something less consistent with the logic of consumerism — something that challenges the capitalist methodology in addition to the capitalist method. One highlight is Julio de Diego’s 1943 painting, “Industry Becomes More Complex,” which recalls Bosch’s nightmarish triptychs. It depicts a factory equipped with a hellish furnace. In the foreground lurks a monster with a gaping mouth, crystallized in a pose of perpetual, insatiable hunger.

Faced with this horrifying image, The Left Front leaves us to determine how to proceed — how to satisfy our consumptive craving once and for all, and which visual props can aid us along the way.

Mabel Dwight, }Danse Macabre" (c.1934), lithograph, 11 3/8 x 15 3/4 in., Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art, Northwestern University, 1995.59

The Left Front: Radical Art in the ‘Red Decade’ 1929-1940 is on display at the NYU Grey Gallery (100 Washington Square East, Greenwich Village, Manhattan) through April 4.

Democracy’s Last Stand Begins In Greece—TODAY

Mr. Schaeuble provokes again

failed revolution
globinfo freexchange
‘The problem is that Greece has lived beyond its means for a long time and that nobody wants to give Greece money anymore without guarantees,’ Schaeuble said, noting that Athens had to stick to agreed reforms to become competitive. Schaeuble added that the new Greek government was behaving ‘quite irresponsibly’ right now and that it was no help to insult others who have supported the country in the past.”
In a separate interview with German broadcaster ZDF, Austria’s finance minister Hans-Joerg Schelling said the new Greek government still appeared to be in ‘election mode not working mode’.”
Mr. Schaeuble should at last tell the truth to the German and European people and stop this fairy tail.
The truth is that the Troika program destroyed the Greek economy bringing war conditions in the country.
The truth is that Mr. Schaeuble and the neoliberal eurocrats have chosen to resque the big banks, although these are mostly responsible for the debt European crisis, at the expense of the Greek and European taxpayers.
The truth is that the ECB together with IMF and the European Institutions which are occupied by banking and corporate lobbies want to complete the brutal experiment in Greece expanding it throughout Europe.
Mr. Schaeuble will never tell the truth of course: that this is a class war, not a war between nations. He is using the obsolete tactic of divide and conquer turning the people of one country against the other.
Unfortunately, Mr. Mariano Rajoy followed this logic only to save his party’s rates against Podemos “threat”.
The European people will learn the truth. Plutocrats’ plans will fail.

Thousands Take to the Streets of Europe Ahead of Greece, EU Meeting

B94t9g1IUAEKUpNThousands Take to the Streets Ahead of Greece, EU Meeting

telesur

A day before a euro zone finance ministers’ meeting in Brussels, thousands hit the streets of Europe to show support for the Greek people and their newly-elected left-wing government which is looking to undo years of imposed austerity programs.

Demonstrations in cities across the UK, France and Spain stood in solidarity with massive crowds in Greece that also went out to express support for the Syriza government led by new prime minister, Alexis Tsipras.

Meanwhile, Syriza officials told media that they remained committed to making good on their promises to Greek voters and improve their country.

“I expect difficult negotiations; nevertheless I am full of confidence,” Tsipras told Germany’s Stern magazine. “I promise you: Greece will then, in six months’ time, be a completely different country.”

“The Greek government is determined to stick to its commitment towards the public … and not continue a program that has the characteristics of the previous bailout agreement,” Greek government spokesman Gabriel Sakellaridis said to Greece’s Skai television.

People walk in front of the parliament during an anti-austerity and pro-government demonstration in Athens February 15, 2015.
People walk in front of the parliament during an anti-austerity and pro-government demonstration in Athens February 15, 2015. Photo:Reuters
People gather in front of the parliament during an anti-austerity and pro-government demonstration in Athens February 15, 2015.
People gather in front of the parliament during an anti-austerity and pro-government demonstration in Athens February 15, 2015. Photo:Reuters
Protesters wave Greek, Portuguese and Spanish flags in front of the parliament during an anti-austerity and pro-government demonstration in Athens February 15, 2015.
Protesters wave Greek, Portuguese and Spanish flags in front of the parliament during an anti-austerity and pro-government demonstration in Athens February 15, 2015. Photo:Reuters
Solidarity Demonstration at Trafalgar Square, UK.
Solidarity Demonstration at Trafalgar Square, UK. Photo:Louise Regan/ Facebook
Solidarity Demonstration in Nottingham, UK.
Solidarity Demonstration in Nottingham, UK. Photo:Ra H/ Facebook
Solidarity Demonstration at Trafalgar Square, UK.
Solidarity Demonstration at Trafalgar Square, UK. Photo:Ra Ha/ Facebook
Demonstrations in Paris
Demonstrations in Paris Photo:Florian Martiny/ Twitter
At Royal Palace, Dam Square, Amsterdam.
At Royal Palace, Dam Square, Amsterdam. Photo:Greek Rebel News/ Twitter

Obama Extends America’s Shame For Three More Years With Another AUMF

HuffingtonPost
Alyona Minkovski Headshot

Six months after the United States began a bombing campaign against ISIS, President Obama has asked Congress to pass a new ‘Authorization of Military Force’ to make it official. The proposal has a time-stamp of three years, places limits on the use of ground troops, and sunsets a Bush era AUMF from 2002 that authorized military action in Iraq. It’s the administration’s attempt to appease both Democrats’ supposed uneasiness about endless war and Republicans’ thirst for more of it. The truth is, it changes nothing.

We can start with the most obvious opportunities for mission creep. The new proposed AUMF applies not only to ISIS but also “associated persons or forces” including any “closely related successor entity”; there are no geographical boundaries set in the language; troop limits include the possibility of rescue operations, the use of Special Operations forces and don’t adequately define what an “enduring” presence would mean, and despite the three year expiration date, it can always be reauthorized. Let’s also not pretend that if Congress doesn’t give it the go ahead, “Operation Inherent Resolve” will suddenly cease. The president will just continue on without official permission as he has done since September 2014.

The more important aspect of the new proposal is what it leaves out: the 2001 AUMF remains untouched. Passed in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, the 2001 authorization is only 60 words long and yet it’s become, as Gregory Johnsen called it, “the most dangerous sentence in history.” Originally intended to provide legal cover for hunting down those responsible for the attacks, the lethal phrasing has been manipulated to justify drone strikes and shadow wars in Yemen, Pakistan, Somalia and beyond. It’s also not as simple as repealing the 2001 AUMF. This administration has argued that it has other tools at its disposal, including Article II of the US Constitution, which decrees the president the commander-in-chief. The world has become Obama’s battlefield and neither American citizens nor innocent civilians are beyond his reach.

Over the years he’s been in office, the president’s rhetoric has consistently failed to square up with his actions. Speaking from the White House this week, he said “I do not believe America’s interests are served by endless war, or by remaining on a perpetual war footing.” This echoes statements in past speeches promising to rein in a boundless war on terror, including a repeal of the 2001 AUMF. It seems the master orator has chosen to placate a war-weary and skeptical public with soothing words while holding a knife behind his back.

Six years into a presidency, the repetition shouldn’t be surprising. Bending the law as it applies to military and clandestine warfare is a trademark of the Obama administration. Looking at media coverage, however, the deviations are rationalized by the efforts to “disrupt, dismantle and defeat Al Qaeda,” or “degrade and ultimately destroy ISIS.” Sadly, 16-year-old Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, 13-year-old Mohammed Toiman al-Jahmi, or 67-year-old Momina Bibi continue to be seen as nothing more than collateral damage, and American citizens placed on a kill list are labelled terrorists without being given a day in court.

Perhaps even more disturbing than a constitutional scholar acting so flagrantly despite criticism from the legal community, human rights organizations, and even intelligence officials within the administration, is the hands-off policy of Congress. The legislative body has been full of complaints about Obama’s foreign policy on both sides of the aisle, but they’ve never collectively organized to try and put a stop to it. This is often blamed on partisan disagreement, but since no one wants to be seen as “soft on terror,” the consensus has been to shirk responsibility and let the president take the blame. Yes, Obama is the commander-in-chief, but the power to declare war lies with Congress (something they haven’t officially done since WWII). Apparently checks and balances only matter when it’s convenient.

The current “debate” over the president’s new AUMF proposal puts the farce on display. Republican opposition has centered around absurdist concerns that it’s too limiting, and that the game plan of how to defeat ISIS either isn’t clear enough, or tells the enemy too much. Senator Ron Johnson told the National Journal, “I need to find out exactly what President Obama is trying to achieve… I know he says ‘degrade and ultimately destroy ISIS.’ I’m not sure what he means by that. I don’t think his definition of destroy and defeat is the same as mine.” While Senator Orrin Hatch told KSL radio, “If we advertise when the authorization expires with the arbitrary date and time, won’t they just hunker down and wait for that date?” As if ISIS will pause for a few years until America gives up. The real outrage is that Republican shock at executive overreach on immigration or health care are absent in the realm of war.

Democrats meanwhile have shared their fears about a lack of constraints, but few have said they won’t vote for the new proposal. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi toed a careful line with a painfully bland, “We hope to have bipartisan support for something that would limit the power of the president but nonetheless protect the American people.” Rep. Adam Schiff, who in January introduced a war authorization bill, said, “It’s I think quite carte blanche in terms of geography, types of forces, etc. And therefore, I think we’re going to have to have a lot of work on that.” That’s a work in progress, not a rejection. Despite a recent and faint uptick in concern over perpetual conflict, AUMF repeal efforts have been blocked numerous times over the last 14 years and are just one reminder that Democrats have become a party that endorses aggression.

If the United States is truthfully aiming to curb its global military endeavors, neither Congress nor the president are making that clear. The faux dispute over the most recent proposal ignores the realities of this administration’s legal logic and leaves its endless war mentality intact. The job description for 2016 hopefuls may as well read “No Limits.”

Uzbek-Looking Terrorists Attack Shia Mosque In Peshawar–20 dead

hayatabad-attack-in-pictures-1423837549-6719Forces inspect a body of a man who is said to be one of the attackers. Militants stormed in an imambargah in Hayatabad, Peshawar during Friday prayers, killing 19 and injuring several worshipers. Photo source: AFP

20 killed as three blasts rock Hayatabad area of Peshawar

the news pak
PESHAWAR: At least 20 people were killed when terrorists attacked the Imamia Masjid Imambargah located in Peshawar’s Hayatabad Phase V following Friday prayers. 

The attack left over 55 injured, several of whom were being treated at the Hayatabad Medical Complex. Another body was brought to the hospital later in the evening, raising the death toll to 20.

The attackers first hurled hand grenades before entering the Imamia Masjid Imambargah where they opened fire and carried out the first suicide-bombing.

Inspector General Police (IGP) Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Nasir Durrani told reporters the attackers entered the mosque by scaling a wall of an adjacent under-construction building. The IGP said the attackers arrived in a car which they burnt.

IGP Durrani added that the first suicide bomber carried out the attack in the gallery of the mosque while the body of the second suicide bomber was recovered from inside the mosque.

According to the IGP, people offering their prayers stopped a third suicide bomber from detonating his vest, though he was also killed in exchange of gunfire.

In-charge Bomb Disposal Squad (BDS) unit Shafqat Malik said the attackers looked like Uzbeks.

Earlier, SSP Operations Peshawar, Dr. Mian Saeed said at least three suicide bombers attacked the Imamia Masjid Imambargah. He confirmed that one suicide bomber detonated his explosives while another was injured and succumbed to his injuries, adding that his suicide-jacket had been defused.

An eyewitness of the attack told Geo News that the first explosion took place just minutes before Friday prayers were over. Following the first blast, five armed men in FC uniforms entered the imambargah and started to fire indiscriminately, the eye witness claimed.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif expressed grief over the loss of lives in the terrorist attack. The prime minister directed authorities to ensure provision of the best medical treatment to the injured. He said the government was committed to eradicating the menace of terrorism and extremism from the country.

Sadistic Alabama PIG Paralyzes Grandfather On Morning Walk

https://localtvwhnt.files.wordpress.com/2015/02/eric_parker640.jpg Eric Jason Parker–THE SADISTIC PIG

U.S. cop who attacked Indian man arrested

Narayan Lakshman

Sureshbhai Patel was partially paralysed after he was thrown to the ground by an Alabama police officer.
Reuters

Sureshbhai Patel was partially paralysed after he was thrown to the ground by an Alabama police officer.

Police in Madison, Alabama, on Thursday evening announced the arrest of a police officer, Eric Parker, on assault charges after the release of videos showing Parker violently shoving Sureshbhai Patel (57), an Indian man, who had committed no crime but was simply taking a walk down an avenue of the quiet suburban locale.

Mr. Patel, who was visiting his son Chirag to help care for his newborn grandson, lay partially paralysed on a hospital bed with spinal injuries and bled profusely from the nose after the incident, in which the police officer’s “dash-cam” showed Parker swiping Mr. Patel off his feet from behind causing him fall face-first into the asphalt sidewalk.

The incident caused a nationwide outcry among the Indian-American community here and elicited a sharp reaction from India’s Ministry of External Affairs, whose spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said on Wednesday, “We expressed concern at what appears from media reports as the excessive use of force by police… We have requested expeditious investigations and action taken.”

On Thursday, the U.S. State Department also expressed regret at the event, with Spokesperson Jen Psaki saying, “Our hearts go out to him and to his family… The Secretary and the State Department certainly express our strong condolences to the family for everything that he has been through.”

While she promised an investigation by local authorities in Alabama, Ms. Psaki added, that the State Department “would address any concerns through private diplomatic channels.”

The Madison police also released a 911 emergency call recording. in which the a man, presumably a neighbour of Mr. Chirag could be heard complaining to police about a “skinny black guy” walking down the street peering into garages.

In comments to The Hindu earlier, the Patel family’s lawyer Hank Sherrod said that the notion that Mr. Sureshbhai was peering into garages was “completely untrue” and “ridiculous,” adding, “Most garages in the area have solid metal gates with no windows and even the ones that do have windows would require a ladder to peek into them. So how could [Mr. Sureshbhai Patel] been doing that?”

At a press conference on Thursday afternoon, Madison Police Chief Larry Muncey said that he “recommended that Parker be fired for his use of force against a man, who committed no crime, did not speak English and could not understand the commands.”

Chief Muncey added, “I found that officer Eric Parker’s actions did not meet the high standards and expectations of the Madison City Police Department.”

However, reports suggested that Parker has been released from jail on a $1,000 bond.

Atlanta-based Indian Consul General Ajit Kumar had earlier described to The Hindu the consulate’s efforts to provide all necessary assistance to the Patel family, and on Thursday, Mr. Kumar was among the attendees at the Madison press conference witnessing the evidence supplied by the police department.

Chief Muncey further said, “I sincerely apologise to Mr. Patel, Mr. Patel’s family and our community,” adding that the Federal Bureau of Investigation “would be conducting a parallel inquiry to ascertain if there were any federal violations.”

Package of Measures for the Implementation of the Minsk Agreements

1. Immediate and comprehensive ceasefire in certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine and its strict implementation as of 15 February 2015, 12am local time.

2. Withdrawal of all heavy weapons by both sides by equal distances in order to create a security zone of at least 50 km wide from each other for the artillery systems of caliber of 100 and more, a security zone of 70 km wide for MLRS and 140 km wide for MLRS „Tornado-S“, Uragan, Smerch and Tactical Missile Systems (Tochka, Tochka U):

for the Ukrainian troops: from the de facto line of contact;

for the armed formations from certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine: from the line of contact according to the Minsk Memorandum of Sept. 19th, 2014;

The withdrawal of the heavy weapons as specified above is to start on day 2 of the ceasefire at the latest and be completed within 14 days.

The process shall be facilitated by the OSCE and supported by the Trilateral Contact Group.

3. Ensure effective monitoring and verification of the ceasefire regime and the withdrawal of heavy weapons by the OSCE from day 1 of the withdrawal, using all technical equipment necessary, including satellites, drones, radar equipment, etc.

4. Launch a dialogue, on day 1 of the withdrawal, on modalities of local elections in accordance with Ukrainian legislation and the Law of Ukraine “On interim local self-government order in certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions” as well as on the future regime of these areas based on this law.

Adopt promptly, by no later than 30 days after the date of signing of this document a Resolution of the Parliament of Ukraine specifying the area enjoying a special regime, under the Law of Ukraine “On interim self-government order in certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions”, based on the line of the Minsk Memorandum of September 19, 2014.

5. Ensure pardon and amnesty by enacting the law prohibiting the prosecution and punishment of persons in connection with the events that took place in certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine.

6. Ensure release and exchange of all hostages and unlawfully detained persons, based on the principle “all for all”. This process is to be finished on the day 5 after the withdrawal at the latest.

7. Ensure safe access, delivery, storage, and distribution of humanitarian assistance to those in need, on the basis of an international mechanism.

8. Definition of modalities of full resumption of socio-economic ties, including social transfers such as pension payments and other payments (incomes and revenues, timely payments of all utility bills, reinstating taxation within the legal framework of Ukraine).

To this end, Ukraine shall reinstate control of the segment of its banking system in the conflict-affected areas and possibly an international mechanism to facilitate such transfers shall be established.

9. Reinstatement of full control of the state border by the government of Ukraine throughout the conflict area, starting on day 1 after the local elections and ending after the comprehensive political settlement (local elections in certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions on the basis of the Law of Ukraine and constitutional reform) to be finalized by the end of 2015, provided that paragraph 11 has been implemented in consultation with and upon agreement by representatives of certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions in the framework of the Trilateral Contact Group.

10. Withdrawal of all foreign armed formations, military equipment, as well as mercenaries from the territory of Ukraine under monitoring of the OSCE. Disarmament of all illegal groups.

11. Carrying out constitutional reform in Ukraine with a new constitution entering into force by the end of 2015 providing for decentralization as a key element (including a reference to the specificities of certain areas in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, agreed with the representatives of these areas), as well as adopting permanent legislation on the special status of certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions in line with measures as set out in the footnote until the end of 2015.1

12. Based on the Law of Ukraine “On interim local self-government order in certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions”, questions related to local elections will be discussed and agreed upon with representatives of certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions in the framework of the Trilateral Contact Group. Elections will be held in accordance with relevant OSCE standards and monitored by OSCE/ODIHR.

13. Intensify the work of the Trilateral Contact Group including through the establishment of working groups on the implementation of relevant aspects of the Minsk agreements. They will reflect the composition of the Trilateral Contact Group.

Participants of the Trilateral Contact Group:

Ambassador Heidi Tagliavini

Second President of Ukraine, L. D. Kuchma

Ambassador of the Russian Federation

to Ukraine, M. Yu. Zurabov

A.W. Zakharchenko

I.W. Plotnitski

 

1 Such measures are, according to the Law on the special order for local self-government in certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions:

Exemption from punishment, prosecution and discrimination for persons involved in the events that have taken place in certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions;

Right to linguistic self-determination;

Participation of organs of local self-government in the appointment of heads of public prosecution offices and courts in certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions;

Possibility for central governmental authorities to initiate agreements with organs of local self-government regarding the economic, social and cultural development of certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions;

State supports the social and economic development of certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions;

Support by central government authorities of cross-border cooperation in certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions with districts of the Russian Federation;

Creation of the people’s police units by decision of local councils for the maintenance of public order in certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions;

The powers of deputies of local councils and officials, elected at early elections, appointed by the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine by this law, cannot be early terminated.

Greece to conduct joint military exercises with Israel, Egypt and Cyprus

https://i2.wp.com/www.hellas.org/military/navy/images/fleet-2.jpg Hellenic (Greek) Navy

Greece to conduct joint military exercises with Israel, Egypt and Cyprus

Athens seeks closer defense ties with neighbors in light of continuing tensions between Cyprus and Turkey

Greece plans joint military exercises with Israel, Cyprus and Egypt, Greek Defense Minister Panos Kammenos said Wednesday, amid continuing tensions between Cyprus and Turkey over oil exploration in the eastern Mediterranean.

Kammenos, visiting close ally Cyprus, said the two countries, along with Israel and “possibly” Egypt would begin joint exercises within the coming months aimed at improving regional security.

Cyprus has suspended UN-led peace talks with Turkey, which invaded the island in 1974 and still occupies its northern third, saying Ankara persists in trying to hamper the country’s energy search.

Nicosia has licensed exploratory drilling in its exclusive economic zone (EEZ), and is unhappy that Ankara is determined to search for oil and gas in the same area.

Kammenos criticized as a “clear provocation” Turkey’s sending of a survey ship to the waters where the drilling is taking place.

“We want peace,” Kammenos told reporters during an official visit, “but we are also ready to respond to any attempt against the national sovereignty or territorial integrity of the broader defence area of Greece and Cyprus, if necessary.”

Kammenos said Cyprus and Greece, which he called “pillars of stability and security,” would upgrade cooperation in the light of the island’s energy search within its exclusive economic zone.

At the same time, Athens would proceed with delineating its offshore boundaries for its own exploration.

Kammenos said cooperation “essentially extends the responsibility of providing security and defence areas by defining the EEZ, which Cyprus has already done and very soon the Greek Republic will do as well”.

He said regional security also meant closer ties with Israel, another energy player.

“Defence planning should take into account friends and allies which seek defence cooperation in the region. And I clearly I mean eastward toward Israel.”

US firm Noble Energy made the first find off Cyprus’s southeast coast in 2011 in a block estimated to contain up to 6 trillion cubic feet (170 billion cubic metres) of gas.

Cyprus has ambitions to become a regional gas hub for its own exports, as well those from Israel and even Lebanon.

Energy-starved Egypt is also banking on Cyprus untapping greater reserves.

Cyprus is hoping to export its gas, and maybe oil, by 2022.

(AFP)

Russian Strategic Missile Forces Begin Wide-Range Drills in 12 Regions

More than 30 mobile and stationary groups of Russia’s Strategic Missile Forces have started drills in 12 regions of the country.

MOSCOW (Sputnik) – Russia’s Strategic Missile Forces have begun wide-range exercises in 12 regions in the country, the Russian Defense Ministry said Thursday.“Russia’s SMF with more than 30 missile battalions in 12 regions in Russia (from the Tver to the Irkustsk regions) are taking part in drills. There are both mobile and stationary SMF groups participating,” the ministry said in a statement.

The war games are meant to test the troops’ combat readiness, drill maneuver operations on patrol routes, actions to counter subversive and terrorist acts, as well as high-precision strikes, the defense ministry said.

The drills will involve Engineer Troops and Radiation, Chemical and Biological Defense Troops, who will respond to a mock enemy attack close to patrol routes.On Tuesday, the Russian Pacific Ocean Fleet began week-long snap drills off the far eastern Kamchatka coast.

Russia’s Strategic Missile Forces are the arm of the country’s Armed Forces and the main component of it’s strategic nuclear forces. Their main goals include nuclear deterrence of a possible aggression and the defeat of possible enemy’s strategic objects of military and economic potential by means of nuclear missile attacks.

Vladimir Putin Announces Ceasefire In Ukraine, To Begin Sunday

Ukraine crisis: Vladimir Putin announces ceasefire to begin Sunday

cbc news

French President Hollande says he and German Chancellor Merkel will help ‘verify’ peace process

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks after the peace talks in Minsk, Belarus, Thursday. Putin emerged from marathon Ukraine peace talks by announcing a new ceasefire deal.

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks after the peace talks in Minsk, Belarus, Thursday. Putin emerged from marathon Ukraine peace talks by announcing a new ceasefire deal. (Alexander Zemlianichenko/Associated Press)

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday emerged from marathon Ukraine peace talks by announcing a new ceasefire deal, but questions remained whether Ukraine and the pro-Russian rebels have agreed on its terms.

Putin told reporters that the ceasefire will be effective starting from Sunday, but he added that he and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko disagreed on assessing the situation in a key flashpoint.

The government-controlled town of Debaltseve, a key transport hub between the two main rebel-controlled cities in the east, has been the focus of intense fighting in recent weeks as the rebels sought to encircle the Ukrainian troops there.

Putin said that the rebels consider the Ukrainian forces surrounded and expect them to surrender, while Ukraine disagrees with that.

He added that they agreed with Poroshenko to clarify the situation. Putin urged the warring parties to show restraint.

Petro Poroshenko

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, shown early Thursday, has previously said his country is spending $8 million per day fighting the rebels. (Sergei Grits/The Associated Press)

Putin’s statement followed the talks brokered by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande, which dragged for more than 15 hours deep into a second day Thursday as the four leaders desperately sought to resolve their differences.

The Russian leader said that the peace deal they reached also determines a division line from which heavy weapons will be pulled back and contains provision for providing a special status for the rebellious regions, solving humanitarian issues and settling issues related to border control.

Obama Boasts of “Twisting Arms” To Force His Will Upon Others

Obama: ‘We have to twist arms when countries don’t do what we need them to’

Russia-Today
U.S. President Barack Obama (Reuters/Larry Downing)

U.S. President Barack Obama (Reuters/Larry Downing)

President Barack Obama has said the reality of “American leadership” at times entails “twisting the arms” of states which “don’t do what we need them to do,” and that the US relied on its military strength and other leverage to achieve its goals.

READ MORE: ‘US unilateral actions to protect its interests let other govts use same excuse’

In a broad-ranging interview with Vox, which Obama himself described as a venue “for the brainiac-nerd types,” the US president both denied the efficacy of a purely “realist” foreign policy but also arguing that at times the US, which has a defense budget that exceeds the next 10 countries combined, needed to rely on its military muscle and other levers of power.

Lauding the rule-based system to emerge in the post-World War II era, Obama admitted it wasn’t perfect, but argued “the UN, the IMF, and a whole host of treaties and rules and norms that were established really helped to stabilize the world in ways that it wouldn’t otherwise be.”

He argued, however, that the efficacy of this idealistic, Wilsonian, rule-based system was severely tested by the fact that “there are bad people out there who are trying to do us harm.”

READ MORE: ‘Unexceptional’ US, Russia scrap over Putin’s NY Times Op-Ed

In the president’s view, the reality of those threats has compelled the US to have “the strongest military in the world.” Obama further says that “we occasionally have to twist the arms of countries that wouldn’t do what we need them to do if it weren’t for the various economic or diplomatic or, in some cases, military leverage that we had — if we didn’t have that dose of realism, we wouldn’t get anything done, either.”

‘We occasionally have to twist the arms of countries that wouldn’t do what we need them to do’

Obama argues that the US doesn’t have “military solutions” to all the challenges in the modern world, though he goes on to add that “we don’t have a peer” in terms of states that could attack or provoke the United States.

“The closest we have, obviously, is Russia, with its nuclear arsenal, but generally speaking they can’t project the way we can around the world. China can’t, either. We spend more on our military than the next 10 countries combined,” he said.

Within this context, Obama said that “disorder” stemming from “failed states” and “asymmetric threats from terrorist organizations” were the biggest challenges facing the international community today.

Obama also argued that tackling these and other problems entailed “leveraging other countries” and “other resources” whenever possible, while also recognizing that Washington is “the lead partner because we have capabilities that other folks don’t have.”

‘We spend more on our military than the next 10 countries combined’

This approach, he said, also led to “some burden-sharing and there’s some ownership for outcomes.”

When asked about the limits of American power, Obama conceded that there were things that his administration simply cannot do in terms of power projection, but remained upbeat.

“Well, American leadership, in part, comes out of our can-do spirit. We’re the largest, most powerful country on Earth. As I said previously in speeches: when problems happen, they don’t call Beijing. They don’t call Moscow. They call us. And we embrace that responsibility. The question, I think, is how that leadership is exercised. My administration is very aggressive and internationalist in wading in and taking on and trying to solve problems.”

U.S. President Barack Obama speaks at the United Nations meeting in New York September 25, 2014. (Reuters/Kevin Lamarque)

U.S. President Barack Obama speaks at the United Nations meeting in New York September 25, 2014. (Reuters/Kevin Lamarque)

This appeal to US leadership, which has often been couched within the notion of American exceptionalism, has regularly been questioned by Moscow.

‘American leadership, in part, comes out of our can-do spirit’

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov took issue with the notion past September, following Obama’s speech before the UN in which the US president named “Russian aggression in Europe” along with the Ebola epidemic and ISIS as threats to international peace and security.

Lavrov said that Obama’s address to the UN was the “speech of a peacemaker – the way it was conceived,” but added that he had “failed to deliver, if one compares it to real facts.”

READ MORE: Russia tops ISIS threat, Ebola worst of all? Lavrov puzzled by Obama’s UN speech

The Russian foreign minister added that Obama had presented a worldview based on the exceptionality of the United States.

“That’s the worldview of a country that has spelt out its right to use force arbitrarily regardless of the UN Security Council’s resolutions or other international legal acts in its national defense doctrine,” Lavrov said.

In a September 2013 Op-Ed article in the New York Times, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that the concept of American exceptionalism was a precarious one in the global arena.

“It is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional, whatever the motivation,” Putin wrote. “There are big countries and small countries, rich and poor, those with long democratic traditions and those still finding their way to democracy. Their policies differ, too. We are all different, but when we ask for the Lord’s blessings, we must not forget that God created us equal.”

Emergency Shutdown of Ukraine’s Largest Nuke Plant, Right In Eastern War Zone

ZAPORIZIHA POWER PLANT

ZAP

[SEE: Moscow says Ukraine’s switch to US nuclear fuel threatens European safety;“Emergency shutdown” at one of world’s largest nuke plants ;Ukraine’s Nukenado < Updated]

Ukraine Energy Wars Are Leading To A Fukushima-Chernobyl Debacle In Europe

rense

By Yoichi Shimatsu
Exclusvie to Rense
1-5-15

Clashes over energy in Ukraine between the West and Russia could prompt another Chernobyl-type accident or a catastrophe on the order of a Fukushima that will complete the nuclear devastation of the Northern Hemisphere. As news media fixate on conflicts over pipelines that supply Europe with Russian gas, another energy war is erupting over control of Ukraine’s nuclear-power industry, which generates half that nation’s electricity.

Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenuk’s campaign for “energy independence” from Russian-sourced natural gas and nuclear fuel is not a study in cost control, economic security or even national sovereignty. His corporate-giveaway policies are actually a concession to Western energy interests in return for their influence over the EU, which can provide loans to avert an imminent default on Kiev’s debt to the IMF and World Bank. With an annual budget shortfall of $15 billion and a currency collapse, Ukraine is staggering under external sovereign debt estimated at between $140 and $200 billion.

The IMF and World Bank have halted further transfers of loan tranches to Kiev, which is now unable to make payments on its gas imports from Russia. Kiev policymakers are therefore desperately looking to expand their nuclear industry. Unfortunately two recent accidents at its largest nuclear-power plant highlight the serious risks to a nation still grappling with the long-term effects of the 1986 Chernobyl meltdown.

Boom and Bust

In stark contrast with eco-conscious capitals across Europe, Kiev is unable to resist foreign demands to adopt the Texan model of boom-and-bust energy extraction. Chevron and Shell have launched fracking projects to tap shale-oil deposits across Ukraine, but exploration and revenues have been delayed by the fierce fighting in the Donetsk region.

Ukraine also possesses one of Europe’s few exploitable uranium reserves in its Kirovograd and Dnipropetrovsk regions, now being targeted by the French nuclear giant AREVA in cooperation with local partner VostGOK.

An ongoing series of nuclear-fuel deals between Toshiba-Westinghouse and Ukraine energy monopoly Energoatom is aimed at severing Kiev’s reliance on Russian technology and Kazakh uranium. The competition to supply the global market for MOX (mixed oxides of uranium and plutonium) is pitting a consortium of Westinghouse, AREVA and their US suppliers against their Moscow-based rival Rusatom and nuclear-engineering firm TVE.

Beset by losses of orders from Japan, the AREVA MOX fabrication plant in France is facing a new and strong challenge from the Rusatom pellet facility in Krasnoyarsk, western Siberia, which has replaced the aging Mayak fuel plant.

To reduce stockpiles of plutonium-laced spent fuel rods stored inside power plants, the global nuclear industry is pushing to introduce advanced prototypes of fast-breeder reactors, which burn a variety of nuclear fuels including plutonium. Rusatom is producing MOX pellets for a next-generation fast-breeder to start operation this year at Beloyarskaya. The Russian design is the chief rival for next-generation breeder reactors being developed by the French ASTRID program in the Rhone region and the Hitachi-GE Horizon project along Britain’s Irish Sea coast.

In this global race to revive the fortunes of the nuclear industry, Chernobyl and the ongoing Fukushima cataclysm spewing radioactive waste into the jet stream over Europe have all but been forgotten.

Salvaging Savannah River

The powerful explosion of MOX fuel rods at Reactor 3 in Fukushima nearly four years ago prompted Britain to close its Sellafield MOX fuel-rod production facility and convinced the Department of Energy to suspend construction on the US mixed-oxide project in Savannah River, South Carolina. These setbacks for the US-UK nuclear industry left the AREVA’s Mercoule facility in the southern French region of Languedoc-Roussillon as the only MOX producer in the West.

Ulterior motives lurk behind the Ukraine sales pitch. The year-end push by Toshiba-Westinghouse to supply nuclear fuel to Kiev is a backhanded tactic to overturn the DOE decision to halt construction on the Savannah River MOX fuel fabrication facility. Anti-Moscow rhetoric and geopolitical arguments for switching Ukraine to Western-based energy systems (fracking, tanker-delivered oil imports and MOX fuel) bolster the odds for congressional funding to complete the Savannah River MOX facility.

Started in 1999 to dispose of plutonium from warheads under nuclear-weapons reductions agreed between Washington and Moscow, the MOX plant has already cost taxpayers $4 billion while an added $3.8 billion in project overruns is the low estimate before the operations are scheduled to begin in 2019. Unfortunately for Toshiba-Westinghouse, the main arguments against completing Savannah River are based on security questions.

Since the planning stage, nonproliferation experts have come to recognize the threat of plutonium being hijacked from DOE facilities, as happened in the 2008 covert operation by Israeli agents at the PANTEX warhead-dismantling plant in Amarillo, Texas. (This investigative journalist penned an in-depth article on the PANTEX heist and the murder of CIA contract inspector Roland Carnaby.)

The technological factor behind abandoning MOX for nonproliferation purposes was the introduction of laser-extraction systems that enable nuclear engineers to efficiently remove pure plutonium from spent MOX fuel rods. Nations with nuclear-weapons ambitions just have to place an order for MOX fuel to obtain high-grade plutonium.

A Bridge Too Far

To anyone with a rational mind, shipping nuclear fuel to the land of Chernobyl might seem not only criminal and unethical but also an act of sheer madness. Yet, under a 2008 contract, Westinghouse (which is majority-owned by Toshiba), has already started supplying uranium fuel assemblies to three reactors at the South Ukraine nuclear plant.

What’s profitable for the nuclear industry in the US and Japan is toxic for the EU, particularly its more environmental and anti-nuclear member-nations including Germany and Austria, which will have no choice but to accept this legal precedent for continent-wide fracking and a revival of nuclear power.

Ukraine serves as the bridgehead for US-Japanese takeover of the European energy industry, but it is a “bridge too far” because the strong possibility of a Fukushima-type MOX fuel explosion at its aging nuclear plants would exterminate all of Europe.

The European public should find little reassurance in that fact that Toshiba built the Fukushima Reactor 3, which blew apart in a mushroom cloud sending microparticles of plutonium as far as Scandinavia and the French Alps. Now the very same company responsible for Fukushima radiation spreading to Europe is toying around in the EU’s backyard.

Chernobyl Redux

A coalition of AREVA and Toshiba-Westinghouse have been lobbying the Parliament in Kiev to approve construction of a western-designed nuclear-power plant in Ukraine’s Black Sea region. According to an Energy Ministry press releases in June, “a new concept for the development of nuclear power is expected to be adopted and will include the technical and financial aspects of the construction of new power units, as well as advancing plans for a fuel fabrication plant and a waste repository.”

No doubt Ukrainian nationalists might rejoice at the sudden prospects of Kiev regaining its nuclear-weapons production capability, which was surrendered to Washington’s nonproliferation soon after its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. That proud national aspiration, in the cold light of geopolitics, will remain only a dream. Any nuclear deterrence will be provided by NATO missile launch pads and bomber airfields, transforming Ukraine into a battlefield and radioactive graveyard. Instead of gaining real independence, Ukraine has sadly reverted to its traditional place as a brutal buffer zone.

The truth is bitter, indeed. Ukraine is getting a raw deal. The proposed high-level waste repository is the predictable price for steep discounts on nuclear technology shipped in modules onto the docks at Odessa along with casks of spent fuel. Japan is in dire need of a foreign nuclear-waste dump, especially for its damaged Fukushima fuel rods, following rebuffs from Russia, China and Mongolia. The US, also straddled with decades of spent-fuel rods, needs an alternative to the canceled Yucca Mountain repository site. Thus, under this unsavory “international partnership”, Toshiba-Westinghouse and AREVA make the profits while Ukraine gets stuck with piles of nuclear waste.

Retrofit Risks

At this point in time, the easiest way to dump nuclear waste is to provide unsuspecting nations with MOX fuel rods, which actually a repository for surplus plutonium. The Energy Ministry’s “new concept of nuclear power” and a proposed “fuel fabrication plant” are code words for the planned conversion of the Russian-built VVER pressurized water reactors for MOX fuel rods. Retrofitting has sizable risks, as shown at Fukushima.

Westinghouse has recently negotiated a deal with to provide an undisclosed type of nuclear fuel for two additional reactors to be built at Energoatom’s Khmelnitsky plant in northwest Ukraine. The deal eliminates fuel rods from Russian nuclear-engineering company TVE, the main contractor for plant construction which operates its own mine and fuel plant in Kazakhstan.

Since then Energoatom director Natalia Shumkova stated the company might start shipping its nuclear waste to the AREVA recycling facility in La Hague, France. AREVA states that its facility separates uranium (95%) and plutonium(1%) as ingredients in new fuels. MOX, in short, is garbage fuel.

Accidents Happen

The 15 reactors in Ukraine’s four nuclear plants have Russian-designed VVER (pressurized water) reactors of the type that can be converted from enriched uranium to MOX fuel rods. The problem is that many of the Russian-built reactors have reached their 4-decade lifetime limit and are now in permanent disrepair, a fact underscored by shutdowns at the giant Zaporozhye nuclear-power plant’s Reactor 3 in late November and at its Reactor 6 a month later.

Energoatom reported the causes of both accidents as minor electrical problems and denied late November reports from a Baltic monitoring station of wide-ranging atmospheric radiation releases. Also ignored were reports from the nearby Donetsk area, where surges in radiation levels were detected at the end of December. The Ukraine nuclear industry must have adopted the TEPCO standards for public disinformation. Or perhaps lying about the dangers of radiation is a homegrown legacy of Chernobyl.

One last point needs to be considered as a spur toward civil peace in unfortunate Ukraine: Zaporozhye with its six reactors is the largest nuclear plant in Europe and lies within easy artillery and rocket range of the battle lines in eastern Ukraine. Collateral damage or a plane crash onto Plant Z would make Chernobyl seem like a picnic in the countryside.

Yoichi Shimatsu is a Hong Kong-based science journalist and environmental consultant who has conducted radiation studies inside the Fukushima exclusion zone and the Hanford and San Onofre nuclear plants.

Cyprus Questions Integrity of Turkish Claims To Opposing ISIS

Cyprus questions Turkey’s determination to fight ISIS

Euractiv

Ioannis Kasoulides [Georgi Gotev]

Cypriot Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides asked on Wednesday (10 February) whether the fight against Islamic State (or Daesh, as it is called in Arabic) was a priority for Turkey.

Speaking at a conference organised by the European Policy Centre (EPC), Kasoulides spoke of “certain question marks around Turkey”.

“It’s up to Turkey to decide what its relations will be vis-à-vis the countries in the region. What are Turkey’s relations with Israel, with Egypt?”, Kasoulides asked, referring to the worsening relations between Ankara and Tel Aviv, as well as with Cairo.

Kasoulides said that Turkey’s top priority was the PKK, the Kurdish rebel organisation which, between 1984 to 2013, fought an armed struggle for Kurdish self-determination, and a security zone inside Syria, which the he said was intended to occupy an area inhabited by Kurds.

The second Turkish priority is the fight against the Assad regime in Syria, the Cypriot minister said, adding “and I don’t know whether the third, or forth, or fifth priority is the fight against Daesh”.

Kasoulides also pointed out “how porous the Turkish border is”, both as an entry point for foreign fighters coming from other countries, including Europe, and also for them entering Syria.

In contrast, Kasoulides highlighted the role of Cyprus in combating international terrorism, the issue being at the centre of the EU summit tomorrow (12 February).

Kasoulides drew attention to the situation of Lebanon, a country which, he stated, had assumed a huge burden over the Syria crisis. The minister noted that Cyprus provided assistance to Lebanon and called on the international community to support this country in effectively coping with the threat of terrorism spreading there as well.

“There is a legitimate fear that if terrorists advance to the shores of the Mediterranean, this would create an immediate threat for the security of Cyprus,” Kasoulides said.

In his analysis, ISIS was created by the Syrian civil war, the international community having “largely miscalculated the Syrian crisis”.

The minister said that his country’s view on resolving the Syrian conflict was to create an Iraq-type solution, through the formation of a unity government composed mainly by the Ba’ath Party and the Assad regime, without Assad on the one hand, and elements of the moderate opposition, specifically moderate Sunnis, Alawites, Christians and Kurds on the other.

“It should be remembered that the role of Russia and Iran are crucial in any such solution”, Kasoulides said.

The minister also said that regarding Turkish-Cyprus relations, Turkey had decided for the first time to use force, sending naval vessels specialising in seismic exploration, into Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone, without permission.

>> Read: Cyprus Ambassador: The EU should tell Turkey that gunboat diplomacy is over

Kasoulides added that President Nicos Anastasiades had decided that this gunboat diplomacy is not compatible with holding reunification talks.

Answering a question, Kasoulides expressed his doubt that Turkey “could make it” to become member of the EU.

Egypt-Russia Determined Impediments To World Hegemony

News Analysis: Egypt-Russia approach shows rejection of “US hegemony”

Xinhua net

by Mahmoud Fouly

CAIRO, Feb. 10 (Xinhua) — Besides their economic interests for both sides, the continuous closeness between Egypt and Russia and their growing strategic partnership indicate shared position on rejection of “U.S. hegemony.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin started on Monday a two-day official visit to Cairo where he held talks with his Egyptian counterpart Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi on enhancing strategic partnership and boosting economic and military cooptation.

“The first message behind the visit is that both countries are dissatisfied with the U.S. hegemony over the world both politically and economically,” said Nourhan al-Sheikh, political science professor at Cairo University and expert in Russian affairs.

The professor told Xinhua that Egyptian-Russian rejection of U.S. dominance is also indicated in Sisi’s remarks on the necessity for “the establishment of a fairer international economic system.”

Although Sisi did not mention the U.S. by name, the Egyptian president said on Tuesday in a joint press conference with Putin that the world needs to develop “an international system that is more democratic, fairer and safer for all countries.”

Egypt has been facing U.S.-led Western criticism since then-military-chief Sisi led the overthrow of former Islamist President Mohamed Morsi in July 2013, whereas Russia has been suffering U.S. pressures and sanctions over the Ukrainian crisis.

Sheikh described Putin’s visit to Cairo as “very supportive and earnest” as it shows Russia’s confidence in Egypt’s stability ahead of the country’s long-awaited economic summit to be held in Sharm El-Sheikh in March to offer foreign investment opportunities in Egypt.

“This visit is like a Russian testimony that Egypt is stable, secure and trustworthy enough for strategic partnership and huge foreign investments,” the professor added, noting that Cairo is Putin’s first foreign visit in 2015.

As Russia’s support is significant for Egypt in its “anti-terror war” and development aspirations, Russia also needs Egypt as the portal to maintain its interests in the Middle East and to help overcome the economic isolation attempts launched by the U.S..

Sisi and Putin agreed to establish a nuclear power plant in a coastal city in Egypt, an Egyptian-Russian free trade zone as well as a Russian industrial city near the Suez Canal corridor region.

“Russia would satisfy Egypt’s needs for energy projects and weapon deals while Egypt would provide Russia with its needs of agricultural materials and other consumables affected by Western sanctions on Russia,” the professor continued, “which explains how great their mutual interests are.”

Putin said in Cairo on Tuesday that there are more than 400 Russian companies operating in Egypt and that three million Russian tourists visited Egypt in 2014, representing a 50 percent increase compared to 2013.

The annual volume of trade between Egypt and Russia has exceeded four billion U.S. dollars and it is expected to reach five billion dollars in the near future.

“The Russian-Egyptian decision to replace the dollar with their local currencies in their mutual trade is also part of their anti-U.S. hegemony policies,” Abdel-Moneim Fawzi, head of diplomatic department at state-run Gomhuria newspaper, told Xinhua.

Fawzi noted that Russia has previously made this move with close allies like China and Thailand, which is seen as a Russian attempt “to shake the thrown of the U.S. dollar.”

According to the diplomatic expert, the Egyptian-Russian approach sends an important message that the structure of the international system cannot be “unipolar.”

“For instance, unlike the United States, China is the world’s second largest economy and it does not attempt to impose its will on other countries; the same applies to Russia,” Fawzi illustrated.

Fawzi echoed Sheikh’s view that Russia and Egypt have complementary interests and mutual needs for each other’s political and economic support, “while the United States wants to tailor the world according to its visions and will.”

The heads of states of Egypt and Russia also shared same positions on regional and international issues, including the necessity for reaching political solutions to the turmoil in Syria, Libya, Iraq and Yemen, and on implementing the two-state solution to end the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

Experts see that approaching Russia is part of Egypt’s foreign policy to create a kind of balance in its relations with world powers in the West and the East through strengthening strategic partnership with influential states including Russia, China and Japan