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Paris attack designed to shore up France’s vassal status: Roberts
A former White House official says that the terrorist attack that killed 12 people on Wednesday in Paris, was a false flag operation, “designed to bolster France’s vassal status to Washington.”
Dr. Paul Craig Roberts, who was Assistant Sec. of the Treasury in the Reagan Administration, & associate editor of the Wall Street Journal, says, in his latest published article:
“The suspects can be both guilty and patsies. Just remember all the terrorist plots created by the FBI that served to make the terrorism threat real to Americans,” he writes.
He says the French economy is suffering from the US-imposed sanctions on Russia:
“Shipyards are impacted by being unable to deliver Russian orders, because of France’s vassal status to Washington, and other aspects of the French economy are being adversely impacted by the sanctions that Washington forced its NATO puppet states to apply against Russia.”
Dr. Roberts states that French President Francois Hollande, this week, said that the sanctions against Russia should end.
“This is too much foreign policy independence on France’s part, for Washington.” He adds that the CIA has apparently resurrected a policy that it followed against Europeans during the post- WW II era, when the US spy agency would carry out attacks in European states and blame communist groups.
Dr. Roberts says that now, US agencies have planned false flag operations in Europe to create hatred for Muslims and bring European countries under Washington’s sphere of influence.
He notes that “the attack on Charlie Hebdo was an inside job, and that people identified by NSA as hostile to the West's wars against Muslims are going to be framed for an inside job, designed to pull France firmly back under Washington’s thumb.”
The widely read columnist states that the US “government tells Americans whatever story the government puts together and sits and laughs at the gullibility of the public.”
Poet and Efran Kaye's tribute
to everyone killed in wars.
Bless the large numbers of Ethiopians, the many good people in Indonesia, and the folks of Russia, Greece and Egypt, who are now playing it.
100% CERTAIN 9/11 WAS MOSSAD OPERATION
Most US people polled believe that 9/11 was an "inside job", but what would they feel if they found out that it was designed by Zionists, who deliberately killed thousands of innocent US citizens to drive the US into wars on Muslims?
They'd be angry, right?
Fernando Imposimato, President of the Italian Supreme Court, calls for a criminal investigation of 9/11, comparing the attack to false flag incidents carried out by the CIA in Italy: Operation Gladio.
"The 9/11 attacks were a global state terror operation that was permitted by the US administration, which had foreknowledge of the operation, yet remained intentionally unresponsive in order to make war against Afghanistan and Iraq," Imposimato declares in a letter published by the Journal of 9/11 Studies.
Ferdinando Imposimato is the Honorary President of the Supreme Court of Italy and a former Senator who served on the Anti-Mafia Commission in three administrations. He is the author or co-author of 7 books on international terrorism, state corruption, and related matters, and a Grand Officer of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Italy.
As a former state prosecutor, Imposimato has extensive experience in investigating high- profile crimes, including the kidnapping and assassination of Italian Prime Minster Aldo Moro & the attempted assassination of Pope John Paul II. He also worked on the Anti- Mafia commission as a Senator, giving him a wealth of knowledge on the inner workings of organized crime syndicates.
Imposimato points to several facts contradicting the official 9/11 story, including the free-fall collapse of WTC Building 7, the report that the CIA met with Osama Bin Laden in a Dubai hospital in July 2001, and the overwhelming evidence of insider trading before 9/11 that didn't lead to any criminal charges, reports digitaljournal.com
The following is an excerpt from Imposimato’s letter published by the Journal of 9/11 Studies on Sunday:
The reports of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), November 20, 2005, set forth the following conclusions:
The airplanes that struck each of the Twin Towers caused a breach as well as an explosion evidenced by a giant fireball. The remaining jet fuel flowed onto the lower floors, sustaining the fires. The heat from the fires deformed the building structures and both towers collapsed completely from top to bottom.
Very little that was of any size remained after these events except steel as well as aluminum fragments and the pulverized dust from the concrete floors.
The World Trade Center 7 also collapsed–in a way that was inconsistent with the common experience of engineers. All three buildings collapsed completely, but Building 7 was not hit by a plane. WTC7’s collapse violated common experience and was unprecedented.
The NIST report does not analyze the actual nature of the collapses. According to experts at the Toronto Hearings (Sept. 8-11, 2011), the collapses had features that indicate controlled explosions. I agree with architect Richard Gage & engineer Jon Cole both highly experienced professionals [from Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth – now numbering 1,700 strong], who have arrived at their conclusions through reliable tests, scientific proof, and the visual testimony of people above suspicion, including firefighters and victims.
The authoritative theologian David Ray Griffin has described very precisely why the hypothesis of controlled demolition should be considered. Various witnesses heard bursts of explosions.
According to NIST the collapse of Building 7 was due to fires provoked by the collapse of the twin towers. Chemist and independent researcher Kevin Ryan, however, has demonstrated that NIST gave contradictory versions of the collapse of Building 7.
In a preliminary report NIST declared that WTC7 was destroyed because of fires provoked by diesel fuel stored in the building, while in a second report this fuel was no longer considered the cause of the building’s collapse. Additional comments on the NIST version of events have been made by David Chandler, another expert witness at the Journal of 9/11 Studies Letters, September 2012 Toronto Hearings.
Despite NIST’s claim of 3 distinct phases of collapse, Chandler pointed out that many available videos show that for about two and a half seconds the acceleration of the building cannot be distinguished from freefall. NIST has been obliged to agree with this empirical fact as pointed out by Chandler; now understood by everyone.
The only possibility for achieving justice is to submit the best evidence concerning the involvement of specific individuals in 9/11 to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court and ask him to investigate according to the articles 12, 13, 15 and 17, letters a and b, of the Statute of the ICC, recalling the preamble of the Statute:
“Recognizing that such grave crimes threaten the peace, security and the well being of the world,”
“Affirming that the most serious crimes of concern to the international community as a whole must not go unpunished and that their effective prosecution must be ensured by taking measures at the national level and by enhancing international cooperation, ”
“Determined to put an end to impunity for the perpetrators of these crimes and thus to contribute to the prosecution of such crimes, recalling that it is the duty of every state to exercise its jurisdiction over those responsible for international crimes." reports infowars.com.
More and more people from all walks of life and all professions seem to be questioning the “official” narrative of what happened on 9/11. Those who are questioning the events of 9/11 may be moving under the radar of the corporate media from being labeled “conspiracy theorists” to legitimate investigators with legitimate questions and concerns, reports examiner.com
Theorists believe that the World Trade Center buildings were demolished by bombs, phone calls from the planes were made up, and the former President George W. Bush secretly profited from the attacks, reports newsone.com
The World Trade Center collapse appeared similar to a controlled demolition. Many speculate that the towers were in fact blown down with explosives placed in selected locations. Some witnesses heard explosions inside the building as they attempted to escape. Many architects & scientists maintain that plane fuel couldn't produce enough heat to melt the steel frame of the buildings that collapsed, reports newsone.com
WESTERN MEDIA LIES LEAD TO WAR
Article by Finian Cunningham.
100 years ago, the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife in the Bosnian city of Sarajevo, was the fatal spark that ignited a geopolitical powder keg in Europe.
Within a month, all the major powers of Europe would be embroiled in the First World War, which also dragged in Russia and the US. The war would last for nearly five years and resulted in at least 20 million deaths.
That catastrophe has perplexing resonances with today. One incident set off a conflagration back then, because it came amid simmering rivalries among imperial powers. Another resonance is how historians recount that, in the run-up to the First World War few believed that a war in "modern, civilized" Europe was likely, because of the belief that diplomacy would prevail.
Today, we see a similar reckless goading by imperial powers across Europe. The US and its European NATO allies are embarked on a 25-year expansion towards Russia's heartland.
The dynamic of encroachment has only sped up, not lessened. This expansion is provocative, aggressive and duplicitous, because it not only presents a military threat to Russia, it also flies in the face of past commitments by the US-led NATO alliance not to do so, such as in the 1997 Founding Act, signed with Moscow.
Russia has every right to feel threatened by ever- encroaching ballistic missile systems on its borders that could be used in a pre-emptive nuclear strike by the US and its allies. That concern is heightened ever since Washington invoked a "first strike doctrine" under President George W Bush, which Obama still retains.
Yet, provocatively, Washington dismisses Russian President Vladimir Putin's concerns about NATO expansion, as if they are the deliriums of a Soviet revanchist.
The complacency of the present time towards the dangers of war, has disturbing echoes of the past - on the eve of World War I. A major factor in the present complacency is that the Western mainstream media are failing, woefully, to properly report on the gravity of the situation in Ukraine, and just how provocative that parlous situation is to Russia's vital interests.
This week saw the signing of a trade pact between the European Union and Petro Poroshenko, the declared president of Ukraine. The Western media have hailed it in glowing terms as "a landmark event" and a positive outcome of democracy in the former Soviet Republic. That blithe assessment invites dangerous ignorance and complacency.
The truth is that the signing of the EU trade pact is the outcome of an illegal regime-change operation in Ukraine fomented by Washington and its NATO allies.
That regime change involved CIA-backed mass murder of civilians (the February 20 sniper shootings in Kiev's Maidan Square) and the overthrow of an elected government.
Since the illegal coup against President Viktor Yanukovych, the Western-backed Kiev regime has been waging war on ethnic Russian populations in the east and south of the country, who refuse to recognize the regime as legitimate.
Poroshenko, the billionaire oligarch who is now signing over the sovereign affairs of Ukraine to the US, NATO and the EU, was elected president in a farcical vote last month, where only 45% of the electorate turned out and large sections of the east and south did not even cast a ballot amid a murderous "anti-terror" crackdown by Kiev troops and paramilitaries.
The campaign of terror by the Kiev forces against pro-Russian civilians was launched at the end of April, days after CIA chief John Brennan made a secret visit to the Kiev regime. Brennan briefed the Kiev leadership, including the so-called Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, who only last week used Nazi language to vow that his military forces would "cleanse sub-humans" from the country - referring to the ethnic Russian populations and the self-defence militias they have set up in the Donetz and Lugansk regions.
The impostor-President Poroshenko may have declared a ceasefire over the past week, but the hostilities against civilian centres continue unabated. Crimes against humanity include the bombing of homes, churches, schools & hospitals, the use of White Phosphorus incendiary bombs and exploding bullets, as well as the shelling of electricity and water supplies.
Western media have largely ignored these violations by the "new democratic Ukrainian government", or at best have reported them as "unverified" or merely as "breaches of the ceasefire by both sides".
Western governments and media have gone into denial mode, refusing to acknowledge what even the United Nations this week confirms as a massive displacement of over 150,000 people from eastern Ukraine. Why are such numbers fleeing, if the violence is not also massive?
Another example of the Western cover-up over state terrorism in Ukraine, is the recent killing of three journalists. Earlier this month, Russian journalist Igor Kornelyuk and his colleague Anton Voloshin were killed near Lugansk when they were hit with a mortar shell. Survivors of the attack said it was deliberate targeting by Kiev troops. Previously, Italian journalist Andrea Rochelli was slain near Slavyansk in another incident that bore the hallmarks of shoot-to-kill.
In the past week, by contrast, there was an outpouring of condemnation from Washington and other Western governments, as well as widespread media coverage, of the jailing of three Al Jazeera journalists in Egypt. Those sentences were no doubt a gross miscarriage of justice. But what about the taking of journalists' lives in Ukraine? Where is the Western condemnations and media coverage?
Western-backed regime change and genocidal repression in Ukraine, is a collision course of extreme provocation towards Russia and its vital interests. Yet it is presented to the Western public as if it is a "good news" story about democratic European enlargement, which, perversely, is being spoiled by Russian "interference".
This is a powder-keg situation in Europe, led by US geopolitics and its European henchmen, and which is wrapped up in an explosive shell of ignorance, by a lying Western media.
The repetition of history is not inevitable. But the chances are increased when people are kept in the dark about the underlying causes of war and conflict.
Petko Ganchev, wrote this article for Pravda.Ru.
Today it is absolutely clear that there is a multipurpose strategic operation being conducted on the territory of the former Soviet Union. Ukraine plays a key role in the operation. Why Ukraine?
It's an open secret - the West has always wanted to master the vast territories of Russia and Eurasia, the axial space of the Earth, with its enormous natural resources.
To achieve this goal, there was the outer belt (Turkey, Pakistan, South Korea, Japan) built around Russia-Eurasia after World War Two. The inner belt (Georgia, Moldova, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia) was built after the collapse of the USSR.
Successively, after the Cold War, almost all East European countries - Soviet satellites - were admitted to NATO under the condition of their membership in the European Union.
But the West didn't get closer to Russia's western borders. There were 2 Russia- friendly countries left - historically, culturally and economically - Belarus and Ukraine.
Belarus is closely tied to Russia ethnically, culturally and economically. Ukraine, with its failed state organization was a weak link.
The reason for that is that the regions from which Ukraine was created after World War II (1945), were formed by areas with very different religious and value systems.
In his famous book "The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order" by Samuel P. Huntington, the author described Ukraine as one of civilizational "splits," where one can expect clashes, i.e. wars.
That's why Ukraine was chosen by the US as the key to implement a multi-purpose strategic operation.
In the Middle East, the US has always used monarchies from the Middle Ages as allies - Saudi Arabia and Qatar. In Ukraine, the most loyal ally of the United States was Poland. The country was used to train "Right Sector" fighters and other figures from anti-Russian ultranationalist structures.
What are the main objectives and directions of this geo-strategic operation, the implementation of which began immediately after the US was forced to freeze its activities on Syria and Iran?
First and foremost, the goal is to strike a blow on Russia as the most active US geopolitical rival in the new millennium. When Ukraine leaves Russia's orbit, the US will implement several geostrategic objectives:
- to move air defense systems and other NATO systems closer to Russian borders: neutralizing its defense, including its nuclear capability;
- to undermine the Russian economy by cutting relations with the economy of Ukraine (Poroshenko has already ordered, following instructions from the US, to cease cooperation with the Russian defense industry);
- to burden the budget of the Russian Federation with bigger spending to maintain refugees from Ukraine and substitute imports from Ukraine;
- to close Russia's gas and oil pipelines to the EU to thus block the inflow of foreign currency into the Russian economy;
- to prevent creation of the Customs Union and the Eurasian Economic Union;
- to destabilize the political system in Russia, accusing its leadership of what is happening in Ukraine;
- to stop or minimize economic cooperation between Russia and the EU;
- to sow distrust between Russia and other BRICS countries - Brazil, India, China, South Africa.
Secondly, the U.S. plans to strike a blow on the European Union, which, along with China, acts as a major competitor in the economic sphere. The EU needs to be reminded of its secondary role.
The United States seeks to confirm the assessment of Russophobe Brzezinski in his book "The Grand Chessboard" (1997), according to which the EU was a "U.S. protectorate."
For the U.S. it is vitally important to strengthen the economic dependence of the EU in light of their signing the "Transatlantic Free Trade Agreement" to turn the EU towards the consumption of US shale gas. In this regard, the EU is the most developed market.
To achieve this, Ukrainian company Naftogaz (the largest company in Ukraine) became the property of a new consortium, whose leadership includes the son of U.S. Vice President Joe Biden and former Polish President Kwasniewski.
At the same time, Chevron is preparing shale gas production in south-eastern Ukraine - in the areas of the towns of Slavyansk and Kramatorsk.
Chervon, directly or indirectly, through the European Commission, put pressure on Bulgaria, forcing the country to abandon the South Stream project.
At the same time, the U.S. continues to put pressure on France, to make the country freeze the sale of two Mistral helicopter carriers to Russia. France's largest bank PNB faces a fine of $10 billion for violating the financial embargo that the U.S. put on Cuba, Sudan and Nicaragua.
At the same time, the United States, with its national debt of 17 trillion dollars and GDP of 14 trillion, prepares to grant NATO's Eastern European members $1 billion for new weapons.
Fortunately, on the "grand chessboard" of world civilization, the U.S. does not play against virtual opponents. The geo-strategy of the United States does not unfold like the Desert Storm Operation in 2 003. Today, the US is playing against experienced players.
Russia is rising after the disgrace of the Yeltsin era, and the EU becomes increasingly aware of the fact that the only chance to survive is hidden in the slogan "More Europe for Europeans!"
The last elections to the European Parliament have confirmed the trend. Hitherto, with so many large- scale geopolitical operations after World War II (Korea, Cuba, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, etc.), the US has not been able to boast considerable achievements.
Through all those wars, as George Friedman says in his book "The Next 100 Years," America has stimulated the growth of the national economy.
America was gradually and steadily evolving from a manufacturing economy to the economy of a military-industrial complex. In history, such a condition has always heralded the end of any empire.
US "A CRIMINAL ENTERPRISE"
The US government is a “criminal enterprise” with a foreign policy that places the well- being of Israel ahead of America’s, a political commentator in San Antonio, Texas says.
“This is a criminal enterprise that has the support of both of the major political parties in the United States,” Mark Dankof, a broadcaster and former US Senate candidate, says.
This criminal enterprise “principally involves conducting a foreign policy firstly for Israel, secondly for the international central banks and thirdly for the oil and natural gas consortiums,” Dankof says.
There is no difference between the policies of the Obama and Bush administrations, he notes. Both “are supporting the criminal policies of Benjamin Netanyahu,” he adds.
Dankof dismisses as a deception the recent remarks by US Secretary of State John Kerry that the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq was a serious mistake:
“This is an attempt to absolve John Kerry and Barack Obama of the responsibility for all the criminal policies that they have carried out.”
In an interview with Chinese news agency Geo News, Kerry acknowledged that many problems in the Middle East, have their roots in that war.
George W. Bush, ordered the invasion of Iraq under a pretext --- that former Iraqi dictator, Saddam Hussein, possessed weapons of mass destruction.
In October 2004, a CIA report revealed that Saddam Hussein did not possess any weapons of mass destruction at the time of the invasion.
In a survey out on Wednesday 2nd June, by Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, 33% of registered voters name Obama as the worst president since 1945.
28% choose his predecessor, George W. Bush, as the worst.
By Jim Jones
For many, myself included I suppose, the tragic events unfolding in Ukraine have been riveting over the last couple of months. No need here to go into the sordid history of Coloured Revolutions and the CIA/NATO role in them; most reading this medium as opposed to CNN/SKY/VOA, are informed people and are aware of the manoeuvrings of the West and the associated puppet states in trying to embroil Russia in a war it doesn't want and in extending NATO frontiers to the heart of Russia.
Missile strikes from Ukraine, for example, would be in Moscow in 10 minutes, leaving no reaction time and fits neatly within the new US policy of a "first Strike" nuclear capability. [As opposed to the retaliatory strike doctrine of the last 40 years].
We all know what happened in 1961, when Khrushchev put Soviet Missiles into Cuba after the US put missiles into Turkey. The US wasn't very impressed at all. What is not well known is that Kennedy asked Khrushchev to "cut him some slack" and withdraw the missiles without reference to the US' withdrawal of its missiles from Turkey!
The US had upped the rhetoric so much, that it couldn't be seen to lose face in the public arena - condescendingly, Khrushchev accommodated.
Hold that thought of "face saving" as we explore the current Ukraine Crisis.
The US/NATO pushed the EU to pressure the Ukraine to join the EU and swing to the West. They almost succeeded 4 years ago with their Orange Revolution.
But Russia had learnt a thing or two about the Coloured Revolutions and mounted a successful and embarrassing reversal of the revolution and installed their own man in Ukraine who was leading Ukraine back along the Russian brotherhood line.
Four years later, after over $5 billion in NGO funding and a huge amount of State Department scheming and CIA covert action, the US finally got a chance to redress the "egg on face incident" that the Russians had made for them.
The US played a "background role" in this - preferring to have the EU seen as the driving force behind the Maidan. However, leaked phone calls, like that made to Cabinet Minister Ashton, which clearly identified the role of paid mercenaries in killing both Police & protesters, and later, Viktoria Nuland [US State Dept] hand-picking who will be in the Ukraine government and saying the EU can go get fucked - did nothing to endear the US to the EU -- it came hard on the heels of revelations of extensive phone tapping of EU leaders' phones etc. by the US.
Then we have the unsavoury influence of the Right Sektor in Ukraine being pushed, funded and trained by NATO and the US's Kerry, Nuland, John McCain, Mark Twain and all, were seen in public endorsing the very Right Sektor extremists that the German government was in the process of declaring as criminals!
Europe could see itself being plunged back 70 years with the rise of neo Nazi's, not just in Germany - but across Europe. [Remember Anders Behring Breivik and his mass killings in Norway: an ultra nationalist].
Europe also asked the question, what is the US going to lose over this? If Russia turns off the gas, Europe freezes: the economy of Europe goes down the toilet!
Already Germany is losing billions of Euros in trade with Russia, France has several military deals with Russia, the supply of Mistral Class ships for one, and Putin has promised follow-ons from that. Italy is supplying armour vehicles, many EU nations trade with Russia - so, US, what sanctions are going to hurt you, the EU asks?
Germany has a growing discord there over the 70 year occupation of Germany by US forces - we see demonstrations - Yankees go home! Europe is realising that the US cares, not for them, but only for US and US businesses.
Against this background, we are witnessing the separation of the US/EU and a drawing closer of EU/Russia on common grounds & shared interests.
I was appalled: driven to tears by the criminal acts of the Kyiv Junta's ex facto war crimes/ crimes against humanity. The shelling and bombing of civilians [non-combatants the Junta declares are Terrorists]. The targeting and destructionof schools, kindergartens and hospitals - with the murder of 25 wounded in the hospital - shot by Junta troops!
Destruction of the means of support of life - with water supplies destroyed, electrical installations and sanitary plants destroyed by shelling. The shooting of women and children leaving the region for shelter in Crimea, by bus. The execution style killing of civilians in a town by Junta forces, who lined the people up and shot them in the back of their heads. The use of chemical weapons against civilians - chlorine gas [where is Obama's Red Line on this?]. The targeting of TV reporters in the area trying to objectively record events. I'm sure that I have missed some others.
I cried out from the depths of despair for justice - surely Russia would intervene; surely Russia would protect it's people like it has said it would?
And all along, that is exactly what the US has been saying too - telling the Ukrainian Junta to commit further acts and atrocities against the people who simply want true democracy in the East.
To help them in this, they even get them to demonise and degrade the people there. Junta leaders have called the Russians in the East, "sub-human" - those of you as old as I am, will have heard that phrase before.
They are called parasites and vermin by the new Choco King Junta leader Poroshenko. Such a debasing of the population makes it more acceptable to murder them and commit atrocities against a subhuman species - not much higher than animals really, are they?
The provocation of Russia in this regard has been carefully stage managed by the US, intent as always to let it appear as the EU 's doing, while all the time ensuring that their people are the ones pulling the strings in Kiev - the CIA/FBI and State Department are up to their proverbial balls in Kiev's business.
Don't see the EU featuring though. The US has pushed the warmonger Russian story all through Europe - putting the fear of the bogyman into all ex Soviet states, and determined to show them all how much they need NATO's protection. [In truth, the world needs to be protected from the US].
However, Russia has consistently demonstrated restraint and maturity in handling the world crisis.
Since the failed US--led revolution in Georgia, Russia has been seen to be taking the moral high ground from the US and their consistent lies [WMD et.al].
The lies over Georgia were exposed and eventually the EU came out & confirmed that Georgia started the war. Reluctantly, the Western media has had to admit to "errors" in reporting - all of which have favoured the Russian position. Remember the incredible piece of statesmanship from Russia in pulling the war rug out from under the US's feet over Syrian Chemical weapons?!
Russia has quietly been cementing relationships in Europe - building "partnerships' with European countries, and is doing so in accordance with international law and through responsible, mature actions. All of this has been driving a wedge between the US and the EU. This hasn't gone unnoticed - the US cannot accept that they are not in the driving seat of a single seater any more. Goading and provoking Russia into attacking the Ukraine is how they will demonstrate that the Russia of today is what they told everyone that the USSR of old, was.
Putin has been smarter than they realised.
Reuters reported on July 1st:
Ukrainian forces struck at pro-Russian separatist bases in the eastern regions with air and artillery strikes on Tuesday, after President Poroshenko announced he would not renew a ceasefire, but go on the offensive to rid Ukraine of "parasites".
His decision quickly drew fire from Russian President Vladimir Putin who said Poroshenko had disregarded the advice of himself & German and French leaders. Putin said Poroshenko would now have to bear full responsibility for veering off the road to peace.
Poroshenko, who accuses Russia of fanning the conflict and allowing fighters and equipment to cross the border to support the rebels, then turned his back on another renewal of a 10- day unilateral ceasefire after the phone talks involving Putin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and President Francois Hollande.
The important thing here is that Putin obtained consensus from France and Germany in a four- way dialogue. This consensus was broken by Poroshenko, under pressure from US handlers.
The facts are obvious. What it also shows, is that once again the US has marginalised the EU and shown scant regard for the EU position.
This now opens the door for Russia to reiterate its threat; "Putin said Moscow will continue to defend the interests of ethnic Russians abroad - up to 3 million of whom live in the east of Ukraine, which has been in separatist ferment since April."
By obtaining consensus to a path of peace, and seeing it broken, Moscow now has the mandate to use force... IF it wants to.
The question is, does Russia want or need to? That famous General of Guerrilla warfare, Vo Nguyen Giap [Incidentally, his book Peoples War, People's Army is worth reading] said, "we do not want to defeat the enemy, we simply want him to leave our country!". In this regard, the Ukrainian Junta cannot win the war in Novorussiya.
Firstly, they have completely lost the battle for the hearts and minds of the people --- through the brutal atrocities they have committed.
Their transparent attempt at a Kosovo type ethnic cleansing, has been seen for what it is and has made people more determined to "hold their ground". Their brutality has now created a generational animosity, which will not be resolved in our life-time.
Secondly, militarily they can't succeed - every day, Novorussiya is gaining in strength and skills. The skill level of Novorussiya's troops is much higher than those of the basic conscripted Junta forces and they're much more motivated than the Junta forces - they are fighting for their existence and homeland. Conventional military doctrine states that we require a 10 to 1 advantage to press a successful attack against a defending enemy.
1,000 to 1 is not enough to succeed in a Guerrilla war scenario. Look at the hiding the Yanks got in Vietnam and they poured hundreds of thousands of troops into there, used the might of total air superiority and naval bombardment etc, and still got their arses kicked. Ask them how many they and NATO had in Afghanistan fighting "towel heads"? [and still lost].
The Ukrainian Army has about 30,000 troops committed against 10,000 in the Novorussiya Army, and many Junta forces are actually surrendering without a fight, handing over their gear, getting on a bus and going home with mum who came to collect their sons.
Also, the Junta is bankrupt. They can't even feed their army; people are deserting and walking home, because of no food or pay.
To save face: that wonderful US terminology again; I see it is proposed that Novorussiya become a Russian protectorate! The US is looking to stem the Junta's haemorrhaging.
All Russia needs to do, is open a humanitarian corridor into Novorussiya and maintain/police it and supply Novorussiya with what war materiel they ask for. And it can do all that with the tacit approval of Europe - the US having gone a bridge too far in Ukraine. Russia can allow the Junta to bleed to death here and like Georgia before; the US will be powerless to stop it.
The US has had it's last Tango in Europe.
Urgent appeal: Message from Slavyansk
Igor Strelkov makes an urgent appeal to the international community as western-backed Ukrainian forces slaughter Russian-speaking citizens, strafing women and children with military hardware.
Washington, Paris and London look on and continue to support the Ukrainian government. A massacre is taking place, the west is dancing with the Devil.
Urgent Appeal by Igor Strelkov, July 4, 2014
I would like to make a short statement with respect to what is happening around Slavyansk. With respect to what is happening here. And, well, to make an appeal, if you will.
Yesterday, the enemy completely surrounded Nikolayevka. The enemy shelled the city in the fiercest possible way, using all types of weapons. Using heavy MLRS systems, howitzers, mortars, tanks, APCs. The destruction is enormous. It is simply impossible to determine the numbers of casualties, because nothing works in the city now.
Our units that are in Nikolayevka at this moment continue the battle in complete encirclement. We have no communications with them.
Nikolayevka has been completely cut off from Slavyansk. At this very moment, a large enemy column of armoured vehicles is moving toward Semyonovka from the south, along the Kharkov- Rostov highway. At the same time, the enemy is continuing uninterrupted artillery shelling of the city and of Semyonovka.
Yesterday, the Nikolayevka Thermal Power Plant was destroyed to the ground and set on fire.
To put it bluntly, we are dealing here with unconcealed genocide. In other words, to break the resistance of the Militia, the enemy is using all the available types of weaponry against the civilian population.
Naturally, seeing the destruction and the death of the civilian population, militiamen are starting to lose the will to continue fighting.
I would like to say to you that, in Slavyansk, there is not one Chechen, not one mercenary. There is not a single person here who did not come of their own good will. If, before, 90% of the fighters were local, now the ratio is 95%.
Out of the entire garrison, there are maybe several dozen people who came from Russia. The majority, the overwhelming majority are citizens of Ukraine. Among them, the overwhelming majority are Donbass residents.
These are people who consciously took up arms to defend their homes, their families, their Motherland. To defend their language and their culture. To defend Russia. Because these people never separated from her. They consider themselves Russian. They want to live in Russia.
This right was taken from them a long time ago. And now, when they tried to restore this right, Russia does not want to help them reunite with their people, with their big Russian family.
It is difficult to understand and accept, that, over three months (it will soon be three months since we arrived in Slavyansk to help the local population defend their rights), that, over these three months, no real help has arrived.
I do not claim that Russia does not help. A huge stream of humanitarian cargo, equipment, uniforms, comes to us through private channels. But, that, which we desperately need, does not, at this time, arrive.
Please understand, that even if we get two tanks, four, even ten tanks, five-six artillery pieces, even if a plane flies here once, this will have no impact whatsoever. Over the course of the ceasefire, the Ukrainian army performed a full mobilization and concentration of forces.
Over sixty heavy artillery pieces are pointed a t Semyonovka and at Slavyansk at this time. At Kramatorsk. Two dozen MLRS systems, including Grad, Uragan and Smerch Heavy mortars. All of them are pointed here.
The enemy has so much ammunition - I did not see so much in Chechnya. In our time, we did not have so many shells. And the entire set of this artillery is shelling us without a stop. The supply columns are coming in continuously. They are transferring in more equipment.
Kharkov diligently repairs a dozen and a half armoured vehicles a day. We hit one or two armoured vehicles a day. No more than that. The enemy is able to grow its forces faster than it expends them. Not just faster - much faster.
If Russia is not able to secure an immediate termination of fire and the execution of a truce, or if it does not step in with its armed forces to protect us, to protect the Russian people that reside here, who are a part of the Russian nation, we will be exterminated.
We will be exterminated in the course of a week, two weeks at most. And Slavyansk will be the first to be exterminated, together with its still- numerous population. Over thirty thousand civilians are still left here.
I am being asked to take on the responsibility for their death. And for the death of the Militia brigade under my command. We are ready to fight. We are ready to die. But we do not want to die senselessly, burying beneath the ruins of the city of those people who believed in us.
Some believe that I am panicking, that I am nervous. Yes, I am nervous. Every day, my soldiers are dying. The hospitals are overflowing with wounded. It is very difficult to see children without legs, torn apart by exploding shells.
We will continue to fight. But we desperately need help.
Washington's War Crimes Spread from Africa and the Middle East to Ukraine
By Paul Craig Roberts
A person might think that revulsion in "the world community" against Washington's wanton slaughter of civilians in eight countries would have led to War Crimes Tribunal warrants issued for the arrest of presidents Clinton, Bush, Obama & many officials in their regimes. But the vocal part of "the world community"-- the West -- has become inured to Washington's crimes against humanity and doesn't bother to protest. Indeed, many of these governments are complicit in the US's crimes, and there could just as well be arrest warrants for members of European governments.
The one exception is Russia. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation has published a White Book on violations of human rights and the rule of law in Ukraine. Propagandized Americans think that all the violations in Ukraine are made by Russians. The White Book carefully and accurately documents reported violations that occurred in Ukraine for four months from December 2013 through March 2014.
You will not hear much or anything about it from the presstitute US media, & it's unlikely to receive much coverage in Europe. The facts are so greatly at odds with the West's position, that the White Book is a huge embarrassment to the West.
The slaughter of Ukrainians on Washington's orders by Washington's stooge government in Kiev, has worsened considerably in the past three months, producing more than 100,000 Ukrainian refugees fleeing into Russia for protection from strikes against civilian housing, from the air, artillery, and tanks.
Every effort by Russia's government to involve Washington, the European Union, and Kiev in negotiations to find a peaceful settlement, has failed.
Washington is not interested in a settlement. Disturbed by its NATO vassals' dependence on Russian energy and the growing economic relationships between Russia and Europe, Washington is at work through its Kiev proxy murdering citizens in eastern and southern parts of present-day Ukraine that once were part of Russia.
Washington has declared these civilians to be "terrorists" and is trying to force Russia to intervene militarily in order to protect them.
Russia's protective intervention would then be denounced by Washington as "invasion and annexation." Washington would use this propaganda, which would blare from the Western media, to pressure Europe to support Washington's sanctions against Russia. The sanctions would then effectively destroy the existing economic relationships between Russia and Europe.
Washington hasn't had success in imposing sanctions, because, although Washington's European vassals, such as Merkel, are willing, business interests in Germany, France, and Italy stand opposed.
Washington is hoping that by forcing Russia to act, Washington can sufficiently demonize Russia and silence the European business interests with propaganda.
To counter Washington's ploy, Putin had Russia's Duma rescind his authority to send Russian forces into Ukraine. Unlike US' presidents Clinton, Bush, and Obama, Putin does not claim the authority to use military forces without permission from the legislature.
Washington's response to Putin's stand down is to increase the slaughter of civilians, all the while denying that any such slaughter is occurring.
Washington is determined not to acknowledge the existence of the slaughter for which it is responsible, although everyone knows that Kiev would not dare to take on Russia without Washington's backing.
Putin's bet is that European business interests will prevail over Washington's European lap dogs.
This is a hopeful and optimistic bet, but Washington is already at work to threaten and undermine the resistance of European business interests. Using concocted charges, Washington has stolen $9 billion from France's biggest bank --- for doing business with countries disapproved of by Washington.
This was Washington's warning to European business to comply with Washington's sanctions. Washington even told France that the fine would be rescinded or reduced if France broke its contract with Russia to supply 2 helicopter carriers. Other such moves against European businesses are in the works. The purpose is to intimidate European businesses from opposing sanctions against Russia.
Washington's arrogance that Washington can decide with whom a French bank can do business is astonishing. It is even more astonishing that France and the bank would accept such arrogance and infringements of France's sovereignty.
France's acceptance of Washington's hegemony shows that one risk in Putin's bet is that the bet assumes that European business interests can prevail over Washington's strategic interests.
Another risk in Putin's bet is that by standing down and tolerating Washington's slaughter of civilians, Putin is becoming complicit in Washington's crimes against humanity. The longer the slaughter goes on, the more complicit Russia's government becomes.
Moreover, the passage of time allows Kiev to increase its forces and NATO to supply these forces with more deadly weapons. A Russian intervention, which previously would have met with easy success, becomes more costly and more drawn out as Kiev's forces increase.
Washington's puppet in Kiev makes it clear --- that he is not going to accommodate any Russian interests or any opposition of the Ukraine's provinces, to the radical anti- Russian policies of Washington's stooge government.
As Washington acknowledges no responsibility whatsoever for the situation, how long can Putin wait for Merkel or Hollande to break ranks with Washington?
Putin's alternative is to come to the defense of the Ukrainians who are being attacked. Putin could accept the requests of the rebellious provinces to rejoin Russia, as he did with Crimea, declare Washington's stooge, Petro Poroshenko, to be a war criminal and issue a warrant for his arrest, and send in the Russian military to face down the forces sent by Kiev.
Outside the West, this would establish Putin as a defender of human rights. Inside the West, it would make it completely clear to Washington's European vassals that the consequence of their alignment with Washington is that they will be drawn into a war with Russia and, likely, also with China. Europeans have nothing to gain from these wars.
Sooner than later Putin needs to realize that his reasonableness is not reciprocated by Washington. Washington is taking advantage of Putin's reasonableness, and Washington is pushing Russia harder.
Putin has done what he can to avoid conflict. Now he needs to do the right thing, as he did in Georgia and Crimea.
Paul Craig Roberts
Guilt by insinuation: How American propaganda works
By Paul Craig Roberts
Why hasn't Washington joined Russian President Putin in calling for an objective, non-politicized international investigation by experts of the case of the Malaysian jetliner?
The Russian government continues to release facts, including satellite photos showing the presence of Ukrainian Buk anti-aircraft missiles in locations from which the airliner could have been brought down by the missile system, and documentation that a Ukrainian SU-25 fighter jet rapidly approached the Malaysian airliner prior to its downing.
The head of the Operations Directorate of Russian military headquarters said at a Moscow press conference on July 21st, that the presence of the Ukrainian military jet is confirmed by the Rostov monitoring centre.
The Russian Defense Ministry pointed out that, at the moment of destruction of MH-17 an American satellite was flying over the area. The Russian government urges Washington to make available the photos and data captured by the satellite.
President Putin has repeatedly stressed that the investigation of MH-17, requires "a fully representative group of experts to be working at the site under the guidance of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)."
Putin's call for an independent expert examination by ICAO does not sound like a person with anything to hide.
Turning to Washington Putin stated: "In the meantime, no one (not even the "exceptional nation") has the right to use this tragedy to achieve their narrowly selfish political goals."
Putin reminded Washington: "We repeatedly called upon all conflicting sides to stop the bloodshed immediately and to sit down at the negotiating table. I can say with confidence that if military operations were not resumed [by Kiev] on June 28 in eastern Ukraine, this tragedy would not have happened."
What is the American response?
Lies and insinuations.
On July 20, the US Secretary of State, John Kerry confirmed that pro-Russian separatists were involved in the downing of the Malaysian airliner and said that itwas "pretty clear" that Russia was involved. Here are Kerry's words:
"It's pretty clear that this is a system that was transferred from Russia into the hands of separatists. We know with confidence, with confidence, that the Ukrainians did not have such a system anywhere near the vicinity at that point and time, so it obviously points a very clear finger at the separatists."
Kerry's statement is just another of the endless lies told by US secretaries of state in the 21st century. Who can forget Colin Powell's package of lies delivered to the UN about Saddam Hussein's "weapons of mass destruction" or Kerry's lie repeated endlessly that Assad "used chemical weapons against his own people" or the endless lies about "Iranian nukes"?
Remember that Kerry on a number of occasions stated that the US had proof that Assad crossed the "red line" by using chemical weapons.
However, Kerry was never able to back up his statements with evidence. The US had no evidence to give the British prime minister whose effort to have Parliament approve Britain's participation with Washington in a military attack on Syria was voted down. Parliament told the prime minister, "no evidence, no war."
Again here is Kerry declaring "confidence" in statements that are directly contradicted by the Russian satellite photos and endless eye witnesses on the ground.
Why doesn't Washington release its photos from its satellite?
The answer is for the same reason that Washington will not release all the videos it confiscated and that it claims prove that a hijacked 9/11 airliner hit the Pentagon. The videos do not support Washington's claim, and the US satellite photos do not support Kerry's claim.
The UN weapons inspectors on the ground in Iraq reported that Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction. However, the fact did not support Washington's propaganda and was ignored. Washington started a highly destructive war, based on nothing but Washington's intentional lie.
The International Atomic Energy Commission's inspectors on the ground in Iran and all 16 US intelligence agencies reported that Iran had no nuclear weapons program. However, the fact was inconsistent with Washington's agenda and was ignored by both the US government and the presstitute media.
We are witnessing the same thing right now with the assertions, in the absence of evidence, that Russia is responsible for the downing of the Malaysian airliner.
Not every member of the US government is as reckless as Kerry and John McCain. In place of direct lies, many US officials use insinuations.
US Senator Diane Feinstein is the perfect example. Interviewed on the presstitute TV station CNN, Feinstein said: "The issue is where is Putin? I would say, 'Putin, you have to man up. You should talk to the world. You should say, if this is a mistake, which I hope it was, say it.'"
Putin has been talking to the world nonstop, calling for an expert non-politicized investigation, and Feinstein is asking Putin why he is hiding behind silence. We know you did it, Feinstein insinuates, so just tell us whether you meant to, or whether it was an accident.
The way the entire Western news cycle was orchestrated with blame instantly being placed on Russia long in advance of real information suggests that the downing of the airliner was a Washington operation. It is, of course, possible that the well-trained presstitute media needed no orchestration from Washington in order to lay the blame on Russia. On the other hand, some of the news performances seem too scripted not to have been prepared in advance.
We also have the advanced preparation of the youtube video that purports to show a Russian general and Ukrainian separatists discussing having mistakenly downed a civilian airliner.
As I pointed out earlier, this video is twice damned. It was ready in advance and, by implicating the Russian military, it overlooked that the Russian military can tell the difference between a civilian airliner and a military airplane. The existence of the video itself implies that there was a plot to down the airliner and blame Russia.
I have seen reports that the Russian anti-aircraft missile system, as a safety device, is capable of contacting aircraft transponders in order to verify the type of aircraft. If the reports are correct and if the transponders from MH-17 are found, they might record the contact.
I have seen reports that Ukrainian air control changed the route of MH-17 and directed it to fly over the conflict area. The transponders should also indicate whetherthis is correct.
If so, there clearly is at least circumstantial evidence that this was anintentional act on the part of Kiev, an act which would have required Washington's blessing.
There are other reports that there is a divergence between the Ukrainian military and the unofficial militias formed by the right-wing Ukrainian extremists who apparently were the first to attack the separatists. It is possible that Washington used the extremists to plot the airliner's destruction in order to blame Russia and use the accusations to pressure the EU to go along with Washington's unilateral sanctions against Russia. We do know that Washington is desperate to break up the growing economic and political ties between Russia and Europe.
If it was a plot to down an airliner, any safety device on the missile system could have been turned off, so as to give no warning, or leave any telltale sign. That could be the reason a Ukrainian fighter was sent to inspect the airliner. Possibly the real target was Putin's airliner and incompetence in implementing the plot resulted in the destruction of a civilian airliner.
As there are a number of possible explanations, let's keep open minds and resist Washington's propaganda until facts and evidence are in.
At the very least, Washington is guilty of using the incident to blame Russia in advance of the evidence. All Washington has shown us so far is accusations and insinuations. If that is all Washington continues to show us, we will know where the blame resides.
In the meantime, remember the story of the boy who cried "wolf!" He lied so many times that when the wolf did come, no one believed him. Will this be Washington's ultimate fate?
Instead of declaring war on Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Somalia, and Syria, why did Washington hide behind lies? If Washington wants war with Iran, Russia, and China, why not simply declare war?
The reason that the US Constitution requires war to begin with a declaration of war by Congress is to prevent the executive branch from orchestrating wars, in order to further hidden agendas.
By abdicating its constitutional responsibility, the US Congress is complicit in the executive branch's war crimes. By approving Israel's premeditated murder of Palestinians, the US government is complicit in Israel's war crimes.
Ask yourself this question: Would the world be a safer place, with less death, destruction and displaced peoples, and more truth and justice, if the United States and Israel did not exist?
Paul Craig Roberts
Does Russia have a future? By Paul Craig Roberts
The Russian government has finally realized that it has no Western “partners,” and is complaining bitterly about the propagandistic lies and disinformation issued without any evidence whatsoever against the Russian government by Washington, its European vassals, and press-titute media.
Perhaps the Russian government thought that only Iraq, Libya, Syria, China, and Edward Snowden would be subjected to Washington’s lies and demonization.
It was obvious enough that Russia would be next.
The Russian government and Europe need to look beyond Washington’s propaganda, because the reality is much worse.
NATO commander General Breedlove and Senate bill 2277 clearly indicate that Washington is organizing itself and Europe for war on Russia.
Europe is reluctant to agree with Washington to put Ukraine in NATO. Europeans understand that if Washington or its stooges in Kiev cause a war with Russia, Europe will be the first casualty.
Washington finds its vassals’ noncompliance tiresome. Remember Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland’s “fuck the EU.” And that is just what Washington is about to do.
The US Senate’s Russian Aggression Prevention Act, about which I reported in my previous column, does even more mischief than I reported. If the bill passes, which it likely will, Washington becomes empowered to bypass NATO and to grant the status of “allied nation” to Ukraine independently of NATO membership. By so doing, Washington can send troops to Ukraine and thereby commit NATO to a war with Russia.
Notice how quickly Washington escalated the orchestrated Ukrainian “crisis” - without any evidence - into “Russian aggression.” Overnight we have the NATO commander and US senators taking actions against “Russian aggression”, of which no one has seen any evidence.
With Iraq, Libya, and Syria, Washington learned that Washington could act on the basis of bald- faced lies. No one, not Great Britain, not France, not Germany, not Italy, not the Netherlands, not Canada, not Australia, not Mexico, not New Zealand, not Israel, nor Japan, nor S. Korea, nor Taiwan, nor (substitute your selection) stepped forward to hold the US accountable for its blatant lies and war crimes.
The UN even accepted the package of blatant and obviously transparent lies that Colin Powell delivered to the UN. Everything Powell said had already been refuted by the UN’s own weapons inspectors. Yet the UN pussies gave the go-ahead for a devastating war.
The only conclusion is that all the whores were paid off. Whores can always count on Washington paying them off. For money, the whores are selling out civilization to Washington’s war, which likely will be nuclear and terminate life on earth. The whores’ money will incinerate with them.
It is hardly surprising that Washington now targets Russia. The world has given Washington carte blanche to do as it pleases. We have now had three administrations of US war criminals welcomed and honored wherever the war criminals go. The other governments in the world continue to desire invitations to the White House as indications of their worth. To be received by war criminals has become the highest honor.
Even the president of China comes to Washington to receive acceptance by the Evil Empire.
The world did not notice Washington’s war crimes against Serbia and didn’t puke when Washington then put the Serbian president, who had tried to prevent his country from being torn apart by Washington, on trial as a war criminal.
The world has made no effort to hold Washington responsible for its destruction of Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, and now Syria and Gaza. The world has not demanded that Washington stop murdering people in Pakistan and Yemen, countries with which Washington is not at war. The world looks the other way as Washington creates the US Africa Command. The world looks the other way as Washington sends deadly weapons to Israel, with which to murder women and children in the Gaza Ghetto. Washington passes Senate and House Resolutions cheering on the Israeli murder of Palestinians.
Washington is accustomed to its free pass, granted by the world, to murder and to lie, and now is using it against Russia.
Russian President Putin’s bet that by responding to Washington’s aggression in Ukraine in an unprovocative and reasonable manner, would demonstrate to Europe that Russia was not the source of the problem --- has not paid off.
European countries are captive nations. They are incapable of thinking and acting for themselves. They bend to Washington’s will. Essentially, Europe is a nonentity that follows Washington’s orders.
If the Russian government hopes to prevent war with Washington, which is likely to be the final war for life on earth, the Russian government needs to act now and end the problem in Ukraine by accepting the separatist provinces’ request to be reunited with Russia. Once S.2277 passes, Russia cannot retrieve the situation without confronting militarily the US, because Ukraine will have been declared an American ally.
Putin’s bet was reasonable and responsible, but Europe has failed him. If Putin does not use Russian power to bring an end to the p roblem with which Washington has presented him in Ukraine while he still can, Washington’s next step will be to unleash its hundreds of NGOs inside Russia to denounce Putin as a traitor for abandoning the Russian populations in the former Russian provinces that Soviet leaders thoughtlessly attached to Ukraine.
The problem with being a leader is that you inherit festering problems left by previous leaders. Putin has the problems bequeathed by Yeltsin. Yeltsin was a disaster for Russia. Yeltsin was Washington’s puppet. It is not certain that Russia will survive Yeltsin’s mistakes.
If Washington has its way, Russia will survive only as an American puppet state.
In a previous column I described the article in Foreign Affairs, the journal of the Washington foreign policy community, that makes a case that the US has such strategic advantage over Russia at this time that a “window of opportunity” exists for the US to remove Russia as a restraint on US hegemony --- with a preemptive nuclear attack.
It is almost certain that Obama is being told that President John F. Kennedy had this window of opportunity and did not use it, and that Obama must not let the opportunity pass a second time.
As Steven Starr explained in a guest column, there are no winners of nuclear war. Even if the US escapes retaliatory strikes, everyone will die, regardless.
The view in Washington of the neoconservatives, who control the Obama regime, is that nuclear war is winnable. No expert opinion supports their assumption, but the neocons, not the experts, are in power.
The American people are out to lunch. They have no comprehension of their likely fate. Americans are an uninformed people distracted by their mounting personal and financial problems. If Europeans are aware, they have decided to live for the moment, on Washington’s money.
What life is faced with is a drive for hegemony on the part of Washington and ignorant unconcern on the part of the rest of the world.
Americans, worked into a lather about Washington’s unfunded liabilities and the viability of their future Social Security pension, won’t be alive to collect it.
World doomed by Western insouciance By Paul Craig Roberts
European governments and the Western media have put the world at risk by enabling the US’s propaganda and aggression against Russia.
Washington has succeeded in using transparent lies to demonize Russia as a dangerous aggressive country led by a new Hitler or a new Stalin, just as Washington sought to vilify Assad in Syria, Chavez in Venezuela, and, of course, Iran.
The real demons – Clinton, Bush, Obama – are “the exceptional and indispensable people” above the reach of demonization. Their horrific real crimes go unnoticed, while fictitious crimes are attributed to other people and countries.
The reason that Washington demonizes a leader and a country is to permit the creation of circumstances that Washington can use to act with force against a leader and a country.
Washington’s incessant lies alleging “Russian aggression” have created Russian aggression out of thin air. John Kerry and the State Department’s Marie Harf issue new lies daily, but never any supporting evidence. With the stage set, the US Senate, the NATO commander and the Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff are busy at work energizing the wheels of war.
Senate bill 2277 provides for beefing up forces on Russia’s borders and for elevating Ukraine’s status to “ally of the US” so that US troops can assist the war against “terrorists” in Ukraine.
NATO commander Breedlove is preparing his plans for stockpiling war material on Russia’s borders so that US/NATO troops can more quickly strike Russia.
Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey, is at work preparing American opinion for the upcoming war.
On July 24, Dempsey told Aspen Security Forum, a high level group where US opinion is formed, that Putin’s aggression in Ukraine is comparable to Stalin’s invasion of Poland in 1939 and that the Russian threat was not limited to Ukraine or Eastern Europe, but was global.
The intellects in the Aspen Forum did not break out laughing, when Dempsey told them that Russia’s (alleged but unproven) involvement in Ukraine was the first time since 1939 that a country made a conscious decision to use its military force inside another sovereign nation to achieve its objectives.
No one asked Dempsey what Washington has been doing during the last three presidential regimes: Clinton in Serbia, Bush and Obama in Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Pakistan and Yemen, Obama in Libya and Syria.
Here are Dempsey’s words: “You’ve got a Russian government that has made a conscious decision to use its military force inside another sovereign nation to achieve its objectives. It’s the first time since 1939 or so that that’s been the case. They clearly are on a path to assert themselves differently not just in Eastern Europe, but Europe in the main, and towards the United States.”
Washington’s view that the world is its oyster is so ingrained that neither Dempsey nor his upper echelon audience at the Aspen Forum noticed the absurdity of his statement. Washington and the brainwashed US population take if for granted that the “exceptional, indispensable nation” isn't limited in its actions by the sovereignty of other countries.
Washington takes for granted that US law prevails in other countries over the countries’ own laws – just ask France or Switzerland, that Washington can tell foreign financial institutions and corporations with whom they can do business and with whom they cannot – just ask every country and company prevented from doing business with Iran, that Washington can invade any country whose leader Washington can demonize & overthrow – just ask Iraq, Honduras, Libya, Serbia, and so forth, and that Washington can conduct military operations against peoples in foreign countries, such as Pakistan and Yemen, with which Washington is not at war.
All of this is possible, because Washington has claimed the title from Israel of being “God’s Chosen People.” Of course, Israel’s loss of the title has not stopped Israel from acting in the same way.
Washington has put in motion the wheels of war. Once the wheels of war begin to turn, momentum carries them forward. The foolish, indeed utterly stupid, governments and media in Europe seem unaware of Washington’s orchestration of their future or lack thereof, or they are indifferent to it.
They are dooming themselves and all of humanity by their insouciance.
Readers who cannot tolerate problems without solutions always request solutions. OK, here is the solution:
The only possibility of avoiding war is that Putin take his case to the UN. If Washington can send Colin Powell to the UN unarmed with any truth to make Washington’s case for war against Iraq, Putin should be able to take his case to the UN against Washington’s war against Russia.
The case that the emperor has no clothes is an easy one to make.
Unlike Washington, Putin is willing to share the evidence that Russia has about who is doing what in Ukraine. It is a simple matter to establish that Washington organized a coup that overthrew an elected government, supports violence against those who object to the coup, and has turned a deaf ear to Russia’s repeated pleas for Kiev and the separatists to negotiate their differences.
Putin should make it clear to the world that Washington continues with provocative military steps against Russia, with force buildups on Russia’s borders and calls for more buildups, with S.2277 which reads like a US preparation for war, with provocative actions & accusations by top US generals and government officials against Russia, and with efforts to isolate Russia and to inflict economic and political injury on Russia.
Putin should make it clear to the world that there is a limit to provocations that Russia can accept and that Russia believes that Russia is in danger of a preemptive nuclear attack by Washington.
Putin can describe Washington’s withdrawal from the ABM treaty, the construction of ABM bases on Russia’s borders, and the announced change in Washington’s war doctrine that elevates US nuclear forces from a retaliatory role to a preemptive first strike role. These actions are clearly directed at Russia (and China–wake up China! You are next!).
Putin must state clearly that the likely consequence of the world continuing to enable Washington’s lies & aggression will be not merely another disastrous war, but the termination of life.
The governments of the world, especially Washington’s vassals in Europe, Canada, Australia, and Japan, need to be told that it is their responsibility to stop their enabling of Washington’s aggression or to accept their responsibility for World War III.
At least we could all have the enjoyment of watching the arrogant Samantha Powers and the craven British lapdog rise and walk out of the UN proceedings. There is no doubt what- soever that Washington is unable to answer the charges.
Here again is the Wolfowitz Doctrine that controls US foreign policy and that condemns Planet Earth to death:
“Our first objective is to prevent the re-emergence of a new rival, either on the territory of the former Soviet Union or elsewhere, that posses a threat on the order of that posed formerly by the Soviet Union.
“This is a dominant consideration underlying the new regional defense strategy and requires that we endeavor to prevent any hostile power from dominating a region whose resources would, under consolidated control, be sufficient to generate global power.”
A hostile power is defined as any country that is not a Washington vassal.
The Wolfowitz Doctrine commits the United States, its peoples, Washington’s gullible EU allies and those peoples, to war with Russia and China.
The destruction of the world is what the idiot EU governments and the presstitute Western media are fostering by their enablement of Washington’s lies and aggression.
WHY RUSSIA REFUSES WAR
Two thirds of Russians say in the latest poll that they are against sending troops to Ukraine, despite the latest US' moves.
WHY EU LEADERS ARE FOLLOWING US SANCTIONS TO HURT RUSSIA
The European Union is expanding anti-Russian sanctions against its own interests under tough pressure from the US in favour of the American military-industrial complex, say experts.
“This week, the EU is to expand and toughen anti-Russian measures. This is obviously an operation staged by Washington that is using the Malaysian airliner downed in Ukraine with most of its passengers being Europeans, as an excuse to defeat Russia,” says the director of the strategic analysis & developments dept, at the sanctioned Vnesheconombank, Vladimir Andrianov.
“The unprecedented propaganda campaign on Russia has turned the Old World's public against Russia, to such an extent that its politicians are afraid of looking indecisive and losing voters' support, to blindly take their cue from the US”
“The EU has no chance to withstand US pressure over anti-Russian measures,” the expert explains: “Washington overtly interferes with Russian-EU gas supply talks & blackmails France over its contract on helicopter carrier Mistral supplies to Russia.
“The US is flagrantly pursuing its own policy in Europe and is appointing its own people to key posts in the EU.”
“EU countries have a deficit of strong leaders now, and European governments are weak. Meanwhile, the EU's bureaucratic machine is proving to be incompetent on issues of global politics and economics and totally dependent on the US will,” Andrianov says.
“The fact that even German Chancellor Angela Merkel suddenly switched tactics after several months of a moderate approach shows the EU leaders’ dependence on the US.
“Washington keeps files on all prominent politicians. It certainly has blackmail evidence against Merkel. It’s no coincidence that her cellphone was bugged by US special services. For this reason, the German chancellor yielded to pressure from Washington.”
“All US foreign policy starting from Vietnam, has been tailored to its military's needs. Amid global competition, the US - as the world’s gendarme - cannot bear the thought that Russia remains the only major geopolitical opponent which it can't control,” the expert says.
Washington aims to arm the Ukrainian army with modern weapons and equipment, and pull Russia into a confrontation with Ukraine, Mr Andrianov believes.
“For this purpose, the US Congress plans to recognise Ukraine as a major non-NATO ally and provide it with direct military aid.
“The S.2277 - Russian Aggression Prevention Act of 2014 - has passed two readings in the US. These moves are clearly designed to serve the interests of the US military-industrial complex in order to kindle the fire in Europe and line US pockets on weapon supplies to the crisis zone,” Andrianov says.
“The scenario of pulling Russia into armed conflict with Ukraine is so dangerous that it's unacceptable,” the dean of the Higher School of Economics Faculty for World Economy and International Affairs, Sergey Karaganov says.
“But the EU sanctions already announced, and those on the table, mean that the large-scale US's anti-Russian campaign, caused by the Boeing's downing in Ukraine, is bearing fruit.”
“US pressure for the EU to adopt anti-Russian sanctions aims at splitting Europe, weakening Germany and inflicting as much grave damage as possible on Russia, to deprive the country of its power in the world,” the expert says.
“Europe is blindly obeying the US by imposing anti-Russian sanctions, because EU welfare directly relies on the US in financial terms, the Deputy Director of Russia's Academy of Sciences Institute for the USA and Canadian Studies, Major General Pavel Zolotarev says.
“In terms of its security policy, the EU is peace- ful under the US umbrella. Washington bears the lion’s share of NATO spending, enabling the EU countries to reduce defense spending to 2% of their gross domestic product.”
“EU countries lay out 6-7 times more for education and healthcare than defense,” the analyst adds.
“Russia cannot afford such a budget distribution, while EU countries can, thanks to the US. Hence their obedience to Washington.”
The video above shows a mob of about 50 men in Kiev, attacking one of the few news outlets left which Kiev does not control. A legal case has dragged on for months, threatening its closure.
The US and UK say that the US-backed Kiev coup, is a "people's revolution"...
we say it's fascism.
LATEST NEWS ON THURSDAY
Greece Reacts against European Declaration of Threats to Russia
The new government in Greece expresses its anger to the European Union... for not having taken Greece's views into account, before drafting its statement threatening Russia with new, further sanctions.
In the EU's text published yesterday, EU leaders blamed Moscow for the increasing violence in east Ukraine, where 30 deaths were reported in Mariupol, and for a sharp deterioration in security and a worsening humanitarian situation.
The Greek rejection of this statement is because, says deputy foreign minister, Nikos Juntis, the EU statement was drafted 'without following established procedures, without informing Greece or obtaining the consent of the PM, Alexis Tsipras'.
Juntis rejects 'the spirit of sanctions against Russia, which has negative consequences on agriculture, and on the economy of our country, and on its interests in general.'
He also attacks 'the fevered haste of some Member States (against Russia), and that this haste is reflected in the statement not having been concerted with Athens.
Juntis, whose protest was transmitted by telephone to the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini, says Greece's position on the issue will be fixed today, by the Council of Ministers of Athens.
Casualties as Hezbollah Targets Israeli Convoy in Shebaa Farms
The Islamic resistance in Lebanon targeted an Israeli convoy of 9 vehicles in occupied Shebaa Farms on Wednesday, killing and injuring a large number of Israeli soldiers.
Media outlets initially reported that "an anti-tank missile hit a vehicle in Shebaa Farms."
Israeli Channel 10 added that the Israeli convoy targeted included a number of Israeli military commanders who were inspecting the area.
In details, the Channel pointed out that the resistance could penetrate all Israeli security measures and ambush a military convoy, launching rockets at the vehicles.
Hezbollah prepared militarily and logistically for the operation, and then withdrew troops safely after executing a successful mission.
Hezbollah claims the attack, saying an Israeli convoy was hit, leaving numbers of casualties.
The attack comes just over a week after an Israeli raid in Quneitra in Syria’s Golan killed six Hezbollah fighters.
"At 11:25 this morning, Quneitra Heroic Martyrs group of the Islamic Resistance, targeted an Israeli military convoy in the Shebaa Farms, of several vehicles which were transporting Zionist officers and soldiers," a statement released by Hezbollah Media Relations said.
“Several vehicles were destroyed, and casualties were caused among the enemy ranks,” the statement added.
Shortly after the attack, the occupation army announced that one of its vehicles was destroyed and that several soldiers were injured --- many of whom were in a critical condition.
Conflicting reports emerged concerning the number of casualties. Sky News reported that 4 soldiers were killed, while the Israeli Military Censor put the death toll at 2 soldiers.
According to Israeli media outlets, a Givati Brigade battalion commander, major Yuhay Klinger, as well as a soldier, Dowr Nini, were killed.
Cuba urges US to end economic blockade, return Guantanamo
Cuban leader Raul Castro calls on the US to end the economic embargo & demands that Guantanamo Bay be returned to Cuba as relations between the nations undergo a historic thaw.
Castro reaffirms Cuba’s willingness to normalize relations with the US, but stresses that the embargo must first be lifted.
"The main problem has not been resolved: the economic, commercial and financial blockade, which causes huge human & economic damage, and is a violation of international rights," Castro says, at a Latin American summit in Costa Rica.
The Cuban president also notes that the US must return Guantanamo to Cuba before a full rapprochement. Guantanamo Bay has been under US control for over a century.
Castro stresses that he will not let the US interfere in Cuba's internal affairs.
He suggests that Obama extend measures similar to those the US announced for the telecom industry to all Cuba’s economy, but adds that he knows that ending the embargo, the longest one in modern history, will be a “long and hard road.”
Though Obama used his executive powers to ease both travel and trade restrictions on Cuba since the announcement, Castro says the US leader needs to do more.
"He could, with resolve, use his broad executive powers, to substantially change the scope of the blockade, even without a Congress decision," he says.
Obama, however, faces opposition from Republican lawmakers who are against normalizing ties with Cuba before it agrees to "political change".
“Relations with the Castro regime should not be revisited, let alone normalized, until the Cuban people enjoy freedom – and not one second sooner,” Speaker of the House John Boehner said last month.
“There is no ‘new course’ here, only another in a long line of mindless concessions to a dictatorship that brutalizes its people and schemes with our enemies.”
Islamic State operative confesses to receiving funding through US - report
A man believed to be a Pakistani commander of Islamic State or Daish, Yousaf al Salafi, has confessed to law enforcement agencies in Pakistan to getting funds via the US, says a leading Pakistani newspaper, giving sources.
Al Salafi and two companions were arrested in Lahore, on January 22nd, according to AFP.
“During investigations, Yousaf al Salafi revealed that he was funded – via America – to run the organization in Pakistan and recruit young people to fight in Syria,” a source close to the investigations revealed to Urdu-language Daily Express, on condition of anonymity, according to its sister English paper The Express Tribune.
The newspaper also claimed that Al Salafi was in fact arrested last year sometime in December.
Al Salafi also allegedly confessed to recruiting jihadists to send them to Syria, gaining about $600 per person. He also admitted that he'd been working with a Pakistani accomplice, who was reportedly the Imam of a mosque.
“The US has been condemning IS activities, but unfortunately has not been able to stop funding of these organizations, which is being routed through the US.
“The US had to dispel the impression that it is financing the group for its own interests & that is why it launched offensives against the organization in Iraq but not in Syria,” a source said. It is not made clear where, exactly, the funds came from, within the US.
The sources who spoke to the Express Tribune also stated that the awkward revelations had been revealed to US Secretary of State John Kerry, on his recent trip to Islamabad.
“The matter was also taken up with CENTCOM [US Central Command] chief, General Lloyd Austin, during his visit to Islamabad earlier this month,” a source said.
A source told Reuters last week that Al-Salafi is a Pakistani-Syrian. He came to Pakistan via Turkey five months ago and established an ISIS group in Pakistan.
In recent months, Pakistani media has been discussing the amount of influence Islamic State has in Pakistan, and cited several incidents in Lahore and Multan, where Islamic State flags & graffiti have been seen.
However Pakistan's authorities indicate that local militants oppose Islamic State, according to IHS Jane’s defense review.
In response to large-scale advances made by ISIS militants in June 2014 in Iraq and Syria, the US and others began a large- scale air campaign over the region.
The US and the UK have sent non-operation soldiers to Iraq, as well as special forces.
According to Pentagon documents, seen by AP, President Obama will ask for a $38 billion rise in the Defense Department's core budget.
Of this, $5.3 billion will go to train and equip Iraq's armed forces & 'moderate opposition' in Syria.
Blitzkrieg turned into mayhem: Hacktivists claim finds show Ukrainian troops’ annihilation
Ukraine's subversive hacker group CyberBerkut has published documents allegedly exposing a dreadful situation in Kiev's troops attacking separatist forces in the East: with war crimes, a tremendous loss of lives and the wholesale desertion of encircled troops.
The anti-government activists claim they have hacked the personal computer of Ukraine’s Judge Advocate General and copied numbers of classified documents. The documents allegedly expose some dark secrets of Kiev’s authorities regarding the real state of things in the ‘anti-terrorist operation’ zone in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions of the country.
The price of the war resumed by President Petro Poroshhenko in the east is terrifying. The hacked documents claim at least 1,100 servicemen of the Ukrainian army have lost their lives over the the last two weeks. Many dozens of Ukrainian soldiers have given up to the separatist forces.
Ukraine's army has lost over 100 tanks and armored vehicles.
This information collides with the latest reports by Kiev generals about “no losses”, “defeated enemy” & “thousands of eliminated terrorists”.
The explanation for this is simple: according to the documents allegedly hacked, Ukraine's Security Service (SBU) has officially forbidden Defense Ministry officials to show the true casualties among servicemen.
Leaked document. Image from http://www.cyber-berkut.org/ [SEE THE TRANSLATION BELOW]
“Order by the first deputy head of the Anti- Terrorist center of the Ukraine's Security Service (SBU)
on anti-terrorist operation
Relating to orders by Defense Ministry, General Staff of Ukrainian Defense Forces and Head of anti-terrorist center of the Ukrainian Security Service to restrict from 26th January 2015 the presentation of data on real losses in the area of anti-terrorist operation.
1. Commanders of military units shall present reports only to the anti-terrorist center.
2. Deputy head of the Anti-Terrorist HQ shall instruct via Military Medical Department of the Ukrainian Defense Ministry head of the Dnepropetrovsk Military Hospital, Southern Military Medical Center (Odessa) and Northern Military Medical Center (Kharkov) to stop until further notice make reports through official channels on real losses in the area of anti-terrorist operation.”
The documents the hacktivists claim they have obtained, paint a grim picture of the Ukrainian war: discipline of the troops is undermined, troops are running out of reserves, mobilization is stalled as army draftees escape the country, mostly to Russia and other neighboring states.
With a lack of hardened troops, Ukrainian military leaders order recruits into meaning- less attacks on multi-layered defenses of the separatists, which results in havoc and vast casualties.
Ukraine's military have even employed barrier troops who fired at their fellow service-men to prevent their retreat, as could be learnt from the documents.
CyberBerkut accuses Ukrainian commanders of defecting, leaving their subordinates on the battlefield. The zone along the frontline is full of prowling deserters and blood-thirsty psycho- paths dressed up in Ukrainian uniforms, claims the group.
“We’re CyberBerkut. We don’t forget, we don’t forgive,” announce the hacktivists, promising to follow up on “other criminal organizations” that started the “civil war in Ukraine.”
FIDEL ON US/CUBA RAPPROCHEMENT
The 88-year-old Castro does not “trust the US, nor have I exchanged any words with them,” he writes in a letter to the student federation at the University of Havana and printed in the Communist Party newspaper, Granma.
Yet, “it does not mean I reject a peace- ful resolution to conflicts,” he continues.
“We will always defend cooperation and friendship with all peoples of the world --- including our political adversaries.”
Kiev uses anti-retreat units to stop men falling back – E. Ukraine militia
"Ukrainian troops are demoralized, which is proven by an unprecedented incident that occurred last night,” DPR Defense Ministry spokesperson, Eduard Basurin, says, as quoted by Donetsk News Agency.
An injured Ukrainian soldier who surrendered to the militias, said, during questioning, that “anti-retreat units from territorial defense battalions were used against the Ukrainian troops,” Basurin states.
According to the spokesperson, 70 Ukrainian troops have surrendered to the rebels, since January 9th, with 11 of them capitulating in the past 24 hours.
Meanwhile, Ukraine's Defense Ministry has decided to accelerate students' graduation in the country's military schools and universities, in order to deploy them to the conflict zone in Donetsk and Lugansk Regions, TASS reports.
“It's being done to make up for the huge combat losses of officers” in the southeast fighting - and a mass mobilization evasion, by the reserve officers of Ukraine's army, representative parent associations of Ukraine's military schools, say.
According to the parents, the Defense Ministry now plans to send 2,000 under- educated lieutenants, to the war-torn southeast.
The preparations for early graduation are already underway -- in military schools in Kharkov, Lvov, and Poltava, they state.
Kharkov Air Force University Graduates, are now being sent to infantry units, due to a shortage of operational planes in the Ukrainian military.
The parents stress that they don't agree with the decision by the Defense Ministry, and promise to stage rallies and block the country’s military schools and universities.
Ukrainians grow unwilling to serve in the army — media
Ukraine’s male population is starting to go abroad in search of jobs, in huge numbers, to dodge the current mobilization campaign.
"Entire villages are booking buses to send their men as far away as possible. Military committees are handing over the lists of fugitives to law enforcers, to try to restrict the loss of men subject to conscription, as they move outside their native districts and areas," Vesti writes.
Natalya, from Zaporizhia in S. East Ukraine, sent her son to Russia several months ago. She told Vesti, on condition of anonymity, that she has also sent her husband away (also to Russia), the week before.
Men from western regions, are leaving for Poland and Hungary. Kiev's military committee is also complaining about draft dodgers.
Human resource experts note a growing interest in vacancies abroad. "In the past 3 months, over 281 job seekers interested in work abroad - including 176 last month - have posted their CVs on our website," says Tatyana Pashkina of Rabota.ru portal.
The authorities in Kiev-controlled parts of Lugansk region, have recently forbidden men aged 18-60, to leave for militia-held territories or abroad, without permission from the local military committees.
Last Monday, Belgorod-Dnestrovsky City Council in Odessa region, published a ban on reservists leaving the region’s territory.
The fourth mobilization in Ukraine started on January 20th. Two more are scheduled for April and June.
According to Ukrainian Defense Minister, Stepan Poltorak, about 104,000 people may be mobilized in 2015.
The Ukrainian army’s Chief of Staff, Vladimir Talalay, says draft dodgers will face from 2 to 5 years in prison, and that women aged 25-50 could be drafted into the army, if necessary.
Russia may help Ukrainians avoid army service
Russia's President Vladimir Putin says Russia might extend the period of stay in Russia, for those of conscription age who could be drafted into Kiev's army.
"Many people, by the way, do not want to be 'mobilized'. They are trying to move to Russia and lie low for some time. And they are absolutely right because they're simply being sent into bullets like cannon fodder," Putin said, at a meeting with students of "Gornyi" University of Mineral Resources.
At the same time, the president said that Ukraine nationals can't stay in Russia for longer than the period established in law.
"Under a new law, Ukrainian citizens can't stay in Russia for more than 30 days. After that, they have to return to Ukraine, where they are being caught -- and sent into the bullets again. That's why I think that we're going to change something in that law," Putin said, adding that the stay for some categories of people, especially those of conscription age, could be extended within the legal framework.
Russian lawmaker praises Americans; calls US policy absolute evil for Europe
"Americans are a wonderful, enterprising, talented nation. But US foreign policy is an absolute evil for Europe," Russia's State Duma Speaker, Sergey Naryshkin, said, at a round table in PACE dedicated to the role of parliaments in the restoration of trust.
He reminds us of the "exceptionalism" idea. "You immediately recall the authors of this idea: the ideology of the exceptionalism of one race," Naryshkin said.
"As long as Europe is under Washington’s dictatorship, the stability and security of our European continent will be in the zone of a very serious risk," he warned.
Russian leaders condemn attempts to revise World War II history
Russia's top leaders say that attempts to distort the history of World War II, could open the gate for a revival of Nazism.
"We must clearly understand that any attempt to rewrite history, and revise the contribution of our country to the Great Victory (of World War II), effectively means justifying the Nazi crimes and will open the gates for this deadly ideology," the Kremlin's press service quotes President Vladimir Putin, as saying.
"We must defend the truth about the events of the Second World War, as forgetting the lessons of our common past could lead to the repetition of such terrible tragedies (as the Holocaust)," Putin says.
He stresses that it was the Red Army of the Soviet Union that saved the Jewish, as well as other people in the world, from the Nazis' "merciless annihilation."
PM Dmitry Medvedev says historical revisions have been made by politicians in countries... that once suffered from Nazi occupation.
"Lately, the memories of World War II have been twisted for political speculative goals. There are even cynical attempts to white- wash war criminals and fascist henchmen," Medvedev says.
He says these attempts are provoking new conflicts and are leading to new tragedies.
"The revival of radical nationalism means the oblivion of the lessons of World War II," Medvedev says, in a statement.
Both Putin and Medvedev were attending a memorial event to mark the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz concentration camp, by the Soviet Army.
Earlier this month, the Kremlin said Putin was not going to attend the Auschwitz liberation memorial events planned in Poland, as he had not received an official invitation to Tuesday's gathering, marking the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz concentration camp.
Observers see this as the latest reflection of a fraying of Russia's relationships with Western countries, as their ties have been dragged towards the worst since the Cold War, due to the Ukraine crisis.
A Woman with Cojons
Argentina’s president says the country’s intelligence agency is a “national debt” and has announced plans to disband it.
President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner says that she has now prepared the draft legislation, to set up an alternative body.
"I have prepared a bill to reform the intelligence service," Fernandez says - insisting that she wants it discussed at an urgent session of the Congress.
She says her plan “is to dissolve the Intelligence Secretariat, and create a Federal Intelligence Agency", and adds that new leaders for the agency should be picked by a president and confirmed by the country’s Senate.
Fernandez says the intelligence services have the same structure they had during a US-backed army regime, which ended in 1983.
"Combating impunity is a priority of my government," she emphasizes.
She made her decision after the mysterious death of prosecutor Alberto Nisman -- hours before he was about to testify against senior government authorities.
Nisman had probed the bombing of a Jewish centre in Buenos Aires in 1994, which killed 85 people.
He was found dead on January 18th in his apartment, in Buenos Aires.
Investigators initially said he had committed suicide, but then said homicide or "induced suicide”, could not be ruled out.
Security forces free Iraq's eastern province of Diyala
Iraqi security forces on Monday freed Iraq's eastern province of Diyala from Islamic State (IS) militants after 3 days of fierce clashes, the provincial police chief says.
"Diyala province is now completely free of IS after the military offensive started on Friday and ended on Sunday night," Lt General Jamil al-Shimary, tells reporters.
Hadi al-Ameri, a leading figure in the powerful Shiite party Badr Organization confirms that the whole province is now free from IS militants and that some 58 security members were killed, and hundreds wounded.
"A total of 58 security members were killed and 248 wounded, by the latest battles which ended the last redoubts of Daash (the first Arabic letters of IS extremist group) in the areas of Mansouriya and near Maqdadiyah town, some 100 km northeast of Baghdad," the state-run Iraqiya channel quotes Hadi al-Ameri as saying, while with the troops, at the battlefields in Diyala.
Nearly half the casualties were from Shiite militias which fought with the Iraqi security forces in battles against IS militants, says Ameri, whose Badr group members are part of the militias.
"Diyala has been fully freed, but some individuals from IS militants are now hiding in orchards and hideouts, but they will be hunted down by the security forces," Ameri says, adding that the next battles will concentrate on freeing Salahudin's capital, Tikrit, 170 km north of Baghdad, as well as the provincial towns, Alam and Dowr.
Ameri's Badr Organization was previously known as Badr Brigade and maintains its longtime ties with neighbour Iran, where it was first built, during the 8 year long Iraq-Iran war, in the 1980s.
Ameri's Brigade emerged as a powerful militia during the years following the US-led invasion of Iraq, in 2003, before turning into a political organization a few years later.
Badr Brigade was the military wing of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, a Shiite party led by Shiite cleric Ammar al-Hakim.
On Friday, thousands of Iraqi army, police and Shiite militias backed by Iraqi aircraft launched a major offensive with the aim of ending the presence of the extremist militants in the country's Diyala province.
Despite the announcement of liberating Diyala, three Shiite militiamen were killed and four wounded on Monday morning, as a road bomb struck a militia vehicle near an orchard, northeast of Maqdadiyah, an anonymous police source says.
The security situation in Iraq, badly deteriorated on June 10th, 2014, as Iraqi security forces and IS clashed.
IS then took control of Iraq's Nineveh province and later seized large areas after Iraqi security forces abandoned their posts in mainly Sunni provinces.
Kiev introduces state of emergency in Donbass, high alert across Ukraine
The Ukrainian government has introduced a state of emergency in Donetsk & Lugansk, and put every other region on high alert, PM Arseny Yatsenyuk announces.
"In accordance with the Ukrainian Code of Civil Protection, the Cabinet of Ministers has decided to recognize an emergency situation at state level."
"The Ukrainian government has decided to impose a state of emergency in the Donetsk and Lugansk Regions," Yatsenyuk is quoted as saying by Interfax-Ukraine.
According to the PM, the move is aimed at providing the most efficient coordination of all government agencies in order to ensure civil protection and the population's safety.
The statement was made after a meeting of the Cabinet of Ministers, which took place at the headquarters of the State Emergency Service of Ukraine, in Kiev, on Monday.
Yatsenyuk adds that the state of emergency in the southeast will be overseen by a special government commission.
This will be headed by the PM himself, with Deputy-PM Gennady Zubko and Emergencies Minister Sergey Bochkovsky as his deputies.
Kiev’s troops and Donbass militia forces are locked in renewed hostilities in southeastern Ukraine after a shaky ceasefire reached by the sides in September, utterly collapsed.
Ukrainian forces launched a massive offensive in mid-January, but failed to gain any ground despite employing tanks, artillery and aviation.
On Saturday, a residential area in the port city of Mariupol, which has been relatively insulated from violence throughout most of the conflict, was shelled.
Kiev's forces and the militias have been trading blame for the incident, which took the lives of at least 30 people and saw another 100 injured.
The Ukrainian conflict began last April, when Kiev launched a military operation in the southeastern Donetsk and Lugansk Regions, after they refused to recognize the country’s new, coup-imposed authorities.
The death toll in the Ukraine conflict has exceeded 5,000 people. Over 10,000 have been injured, according to UN estimates.
* * * NEWSFLASH * * *
Putin: Ukraine army is NATO legion aimed at restraining Russia
The Ukrainian army is essentially a ‘NATO legion’, which doesn’t pursue Ukraine's national interests, but persists to restrict Russia, President Vladimir Putin says, in a surprise statement today...
Russia faces an immediate mass mobilisation in Ukraine, and the anti-US coup militias have opened up a wide front to drive Kiev's forces back, as Kiev uses heavy artillery to destroy the east's infrastructure in civilian areas.
More on Putin's surprise speech to come.
Greece’s anti-austerity Syriza party officially wins parliamentary elections
Radical left-wing opposition party Syriza has officially won Greece's parliamentary elections, securing 149 seats, out of 300.
On Monday, Syriza managed to gain key support to form a new government, after a meeting with Panos Kammenos, head of anti-austerity party, Independent Greeks, which also opposes Greece's bailout deal.
Kammenos says his party backs Tsipras to be the next prime minister.
"From this moment there is a government in the country. The Independent Greeks give a vote of confidence to PM Alexis Tsipras. There is an agreement in principle," Panos Kammenos says, after talks with Syriza's leader, as quoted by Reuters. “It's an historic victory. It sends a message against austerity and in favor of dignity and democracy,” Panos Skourletis, spokes- person, tells Greek Mega TV.
Syriza is the first anti-austerity party to come to power in the EU.
This happened the day after the Greek election: STRASBOURG, January 26.
"Officials of the Russian Communist party were kicked and pushed around by two Russian- speaking men."
Managing officials of Russia's Communist party (KPRF), Gennady Zyuganov, & First deputy head of the Communist Party, Ivan Melnikov, were attacked near the PACE building.
Both Zyuganov and Melnikov, members of the Russian delegation to PACE, expressed surprise and anger, over the fact that nobody was near the building of the Council of Europe, to shield them from the assaulters.
Talking to journalists, Melnikov confirms that both were attacked.
"We were kicked & pushed around," Melnikov says. He describes the assaulters as " two Russian-speaking men who uttered the word "Ukraine" in connection with something that I couldn't make out."
He expresses surprise over the absence of security measures that local law enforcers "ought to have ensured."
This is another example of the low and ugly games that NATO is playing against Russia.
US SAYS "PEACE", PUSHES FOR WAR NOW
The Kremlin says Washington’s foreign policy on Ukraine is “aggressive” because it “fails to meet present-day realities, and demonstrates that the US actually wants to dominate the world.”
According to the commander of United States Army Europe, the US military is to send troops to Ukraine this Spring to train four companies in the Ukrainian National Guard.
The US has already earmarked $19 million to help build the Ukrainian National Guard. Lt. Gen Frederick Ben Hodges led a US command delegation to Kiev last Wednesday, to begin "evaluating the situation" in Ukraine’s restive south-eastern regions.
Ukraine: The truth instead of lies
Western media outlets have been spreading outright lies in recent days, as they've been doing since the Ukrainian unrest started last February, when Fascist forces seized power in an illegal coup, ousting a democratically elected President -- against all legal norms necessary for impeachment -- and placed a Putschist government in control.
Many western citizens are unaware that Fascist massacres occurred across south- eastern Ukraine after the illegal Putsch in Kiev -- because reports have been scant, or non-existent.
May 2, 2014. Over fifty people were burnt alive in the Trade Union Building in Odessa when Fascists attacked Russian-speaking protesters. Those who escaped the flames were hacked to death with axes while the crowd jeered chanting "Death to Russians".
May 2, 2014 Kramatorsk: numerous unarmed civilians mown down by the national guard.
May 9, Mariupol: Fascists mowed down un- armed civilians with firearms. The statistics show 46 police shot by Fascist national guard forces - for refusing to murder civilians - and a further 143 civilians slaughtered.
June 8 2014: Fascist forces attack Slavyansk murdering many civilians, including children, women and the elderly.
In 2014, numerous attacks were perpetrated by Ukrainian Junta forces against civilians across the regions of Donetsk and Lugansk, causing hundreds of murders of civilians.
PM Yatsekyuk labeled as "subhumans" the citizens of Donbass, who took up arms to defend themselves, after these countless Fascist massacres.
War crimes by Kiev Junta forces and the Ukrainian National Guard:
2015 January 25, Pervomaysk. The house of an 87-year-old woman was shelled by Junta forces, murdering her.
Mariupol shelling, January 2015. Dozens dead in shelling which Ukrainian Junta forces blame on Donbass freedom fighters. The OSCE took 12 hours to write a report backing this claim.
Yet eye witnesses state that the missile attack was from Ukrainian Junta positions --- and the Donetsk Republic anti-Fascists had already claimed that they would not fire on Mariupol, as they didn't want to cause civilian deaths.
Why would Donetsk People's Republic forces shell a city that they are encircling? And why did the Ukrainian Junta authorities cut off the electricity, gas and water supply, one hour before the shelling?
Meanwhile, in Gorlovka, the Ukrainian Junta forces have unleashed an unceasing barrage of artillery fire against the civilian population, murdering 317 people in just one week. 15 schools & 10 kindergartens have been razed.
30% of arable fields across Donetsk have been mined by Ukrainian Junta personnel, to murder farmers and civilians and schoolchildren making their way across the fields to work and to school.
Due to ceasefire breaches by Ukrainian Junta forces, anti-Fascist forces have opened fire across the entire front. Fascist forces are running in panic across the front - many are surrendering. Villages liberated from the Fascists are being sterilized, as terrorist units from Kiev are liquidated en masse.
In the recent failed attack against Donetsk Airport, which SKY News claimed had been captured by Ukrainian Junta forces, units from the Donetsk People's Republic have successfully defended the airport.
725 Ukrainian Junta forces were killed in the failed operation, 59 tanks, 51 infantry combat vehicles and armored vehicles, were destroyed, reports Pravda.
Yemeni president decides to withdraw resignation: advisor
Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi has decided to withdraw his resignation and continue to serve the country, a presidential advisor tells Xinhua news on Sunday.
A presidential advisor, requesting anonymity, told Xinhua that Hadi made his decision to with- draw the resignation based on the international efforts led by UN envoy Jamal Bin Omar, as well as representatives of political parties in Yemen.
Hadi has 6 advisors on the country's decision- making body --- 1 from the Shiite Houthi group.
But a government spokesperson tells Xinhua that there is no official announcement about Hadi's decision.
Domestic and international efforts are still underway to convince the president to with- draw his resignation, a spokesperson said --- on condition of anonymity.
Hadi, on Thursday, submitted his resignation to parliament amid a standoff with the Shiite Houthi group who control the capital. Yemeni Prime Minister Khaled Bahah and his cabinet also presented their resignations to the president on the same day.
Yemen's official Saba news agency reports Sunday that the Yemeni parliament has post- poned an emergency session to vote on the president's resignation.
The meeting is now delayed for "another date to be set later", in order to have more time to "inform all members of parliament to attend," Saba reports.
Parliament said earlier in a brief statement, that it would hold an emergency session on Friday, which was then postponed to Sunday.
Yemen and its Two Conflicting Powers:
The Yemeni crisis is more serious today... after Parliament rejected the resignation of President Abd Rabu Mansour Hadi and his Houthi rivals formed a presidential council... to replace him.
On Friday the president and the leadership of the Shiite tribe in control of areas of the capital since last September, signed an agreement of mutual concessions to restore calm, after the fighting on Monday left dozens dead & wounded.
However, on Thursday, Prime Minister Khaled Baha and his cabinet handed their resignations in to the president, who took the same course, rejected by the legislature, a few hours later.
"The (president's) resignation is accepted once presented, (and in this case) the (executive) powers cannot be assumed by the Parliament because it is illegal since its mandate expired", says Ali Al-Imad, member of the Ansar Ullah Political Board, of the Houthi armed movement.
A statement broadcast by Al Masirah television channel, owned by the Houthis, says the leader- ship of the tribe welcomes the resignation of the president and "the revolution will continue with or without Hadi '.
A Presidential Council is being formed, backed by the Houthi, state unconfirmed reports, sent to Prensa Latina, by a diplomatic source.
The Council will manage Yemen's daily affairs, and will have as its Vice-president, a member of the Houthi tribe, plus members of the army, security services and the Popular Committees.
The Houthi official recalls that the Constitution that establishes the ascension to power of the President of Parliament in the absence of the president, lost its validity, after the signing of the Gulf Cooperation Council's (GCC) Initiative.
The GCC initiative was negotiated after the resignation of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh imposed by massive protests against him three years ago, which gave way to the National Dialogue, the results of which are contested by the Houthis, particularly the Federation of the country into six regions.
The position of the Arabian Peninsula states is unclear, particularly that of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which borders Yemen to the north and is immersed in a royal succession, after King Abdullah bin Abdelaziz's passing.
Donetsk militia 'not going to storm Mariupol', trades accusations with Kiev
Donetsk's militia has been ordered to suppress Kiev’s military positions to the east of Mariupol, but is not going to storm the city, says Donetsk Republic head, Aleksandr Zakharchenko, who accuses Kiev of a false flag operation, and of shifting the blame.
“Until now, we weren’t conducting operations outside of Mariupol. We were saving strength,” Zakharchenko is cited by RIA-Novosti news agency as saying.
“But now, after Kiev decided to shift blame onto us for its erroneous fire from Grad multiple rocket launchers on residential areas [in Mariupol], I gave the order to suppress the positions of the Ukrainian military, east of Mariupol,” he states.
Zakharchenko adds that the forces of the People’s Republic of Donetsk (DPR) have no plans to storm the city itself.
The DPR leader says “in the last few days the Ukrainian side has relocated a large formation of its troops to Mariupol.”
“Day and night, our positions in the town of Novoazovsk are subjected to massive bombardment from Grad multiple rocket launchers and heavy artillery.
“Today, armored vehicles from the 28th Ukrainian brigade arrived in the area as well,” he stresses.
According to Zakharchenko, Kiev is doing everything to make the rebels “move the forces, which are now involved in battles for Donetsk airport, to Mariupol, in order to weaken & dislodge us from [the airport].”
The Ukrainian military is using the citizens of Mariupol as “human shields,” People’s Republic of Donetsk leader says.
Earlier, a DPR military official, Eduard Basurin, said that Kiev's forces have renewed their attempts to retake the strategically significant Donetsk airport, on Saturday.
“The Ukrainian military is trying to attack from the north, west and east. Hostilities are underway at the airport,” Basurin said, as cited by Interfax news agency.
According to the rebels, they established full control at Donetsk airport on Jan 16, after an exhausting standoff with Kiev's troops, which had been ongoing since May last year.
The Organization for Security & Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) has dispatched its Mariupol observer mission to Olimpiiska Street, which was hit by artillery fire, in order to conduct a fact-finding mission on the ground.
Their monitors say:
“According to impact analysis, Grad rockets originated from a north-easterly direction, in Oktyabr area (19km N-East of Olimpiiska St), & Uragan rockets from an easterly direction, in Zaichenko area (15km east of Olimpiiska St), both controlled by the “Donetsk People’s Republic” (“DPR”),” the Special Monitoring Mission report says.
Ukrainian president, Petro Poroshenko, has aborted his visit to Saudi Arabia for the funeral of King Abdullah, and has flown back to Kiev.
Poroshenko is to “host an urgent meeting of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council,” which was ordered “to develop & implement more effective steps in view of the rapid deterioration of the situation in the east,” the presidential press- service says.
Ukraine's PM, Arseny Yatsenyuk, has requested that an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council be held on the situation in Mariupol.
Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry statement expresses hope that the shelling will be comprehensively and objectively investigated & that the perpetrators will get the punishment they deserve.
The EU is urging Moscow to persuade the leaders of the eastern Ukrainian militias to stop the hostilities, saying that the continued warfare in south- eastern Ukraine “will inevitably lead to a further grave deterioration of relations between the EU and Russia,” says the statement made by Federica Mogherini, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.
The EU and US keep blaming Russia for supporting Donbas' militias. The claims haven't been backed by any significant proof and have been repeatedly denied by Russian officials.
Approximately 30 people, including 2 children, were killed when the city of Mariupol, which had stayed relatively insulated from the violence during the majority of the Ukrainian conflict, was shelled on Saturday.
Kiev was quick to place the blame with the militia, saying that the bombardment was part of their advance on the port.
The militia representatives denied the accusations and called the shelling “yet another provocation” by the Ukrainian forces.
According to the DPR’s speaker of parliament, Denis Pushilin, the rebels simply don’t have the necessary long-range artillery equipment to hit the city centre from their positions.
The Ukrainian conflict began last April when Kiev launched a military operation in south- eastern Donetsk and Lugansk regions, after they refused to recognize Ukraine’s new, coup-imposed authorities.
The death toll in Ukraine's conflict has exceeded 5,000 people. Over 10,000 have been injured, by UN estimates.
Armed Clashes on Syrian Border: Lebanese Army Goes On Alert
The Lebanese Army is keeping a heavy deployment of men 'round Tallat Al-Hamra, near Ras Baalbeck, where the bodies of 3 soldiers were found, & is ready to counter new attacks by armed groups from Syria.
The mobilization of troops intensified after clashes between Lebanese forces and militiamen with Islamic State (IS) and Al-Nusra Front, which operate from Syrian territory, on Friday.
Security sources predict more clashes in Arsal and other border areas with Syria, as part of the armed groups' objective of putting pressure on, and weakening the army and Hezbollah, to end their military support for President Al-Assad.
Deputy Prime Minister & Defense Minister Samir Moqbel on Saturday praised the courage of the Army and its ability to repel the attacks of the jihadists in Ras Baalbeck, the region where Tallat Al-Haamra is located, on the outskirts of the village of Arsal in the northeastern Bekaa.
Moqbel says the army remains "a strong shield and trigger lock" for the country and that their "heroic deeds and victories make it clear, that any attack on Lebanese soil and its army, is doomed to failure."
"Lebanon will be the burial ground of the attackers," he says.
UN: Dozens of children homeless as Israel illegally demolishes Palestinian houses
The United Nations has condemned Israel for illegally demolishing the houses of Palestinians in East Jerusalem, leaving 77 people, over half of whom are children, homeless in three days.
“Demolitions that result in forced evictions and displacement run counter to Israel’s obligations under international law & create unnecessary suffering and tension,” the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says in its statement.
The demolitions took place in East Jerusalem and in the districts of Ramallah, Jericho and Hebron, according to the statement.
“Some of the demolished structures were provided by the international community to support vulnerable families,” says James Rawley, who's also UN Deputy Special Coordinator, the Middle East Peace Process, and he tells Israel that the demolitions “must stop immediately”.
In 2014, Israel executed record numbers of house demolitions in the west bank and East Jerusalem -- and in an area known as Area C, which is under full Israeli control.
“In 2014, according to OCHA figures, Israel's authorities destroyed 590 Palestinian-owned structures in Area C and in east Jerusalem, displacing 1,177 people — the highest level of displacement in the West Bank since OCHA began systematically monitoring the issue in 2008,” OCHA says.
Israel argues that demolitions are always necessary because the homes were built without proper construction permits.
But Palestinians and rights groups say Israel repeatedly denies such permits - forcing people to build without them.
“The planning policies applied by Israel in Area C and East Jerusalem discriminate against Palestinians, making it extremely difficult for them to obtain building permits. As a result, many Palestinians build sans permits to meet their housing needs, and risk having their structures demolished,” says the OCHA.
500,000 Israelis have settled in the West Bank & E Jerusalem, among 2.4 million Palestinians.
The Israeli-occupied territories are seeking full Palestinian statehood and independence from Israel -- and have been, for decades. But despite international criticism, the Israeli government encourages the Jewish population in the West Bank, to build more and more new settlements.
At the end of 2014 Israel gave a green light for the construction of 243 new homes in Ramot in East Jerusalem.
The country also approved amendments to existing projects for 270 homes in the same area and in the neighborhoods of Har Homa.
In mid-January Israelis withheld crucial tax revenue from the Palestinians, in retaliation for Palestinian attempts to the join the ICC.
Three Minutes to Midnight
Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, January 2015:
"The threat is serious, the time short. The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists does not move the hands of the Doomsday Clock for light or transient reasons. The clock ticks now at just 3 minutes to midnight, because international leaders are failing to perform their most important duty - ensuring and preserving the health and vitality of human civilization."
Now, the annual setting of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists Doomsday Clock (22nd Jan) has been re-set - forward by 2 whole minutes - to three minutes to midnight, for the first time since the end of the Cold War and thirty years after the last such setting, in 1984, under the presidency of Grenada invader, Libya bomber, and Iran-Contra dealer --- Ronald Reagan.
In 1984, the Bulletin recorded: "...relations between the US & the Soviet Union reached an icy nadir. Every channel of communications has been constricted or shut down; every form of contact has been attenuated or cut off. And arms control negotiations have been reduced to a species of propaganda."
Now they say: "Today, over 25 years after the end of the Cold War, the members of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists Science & Security Board have looked closely at the world situation & found it highly threatening to humanity - so threatening that the hands of the Doomsday Clock must once again be set at 3 minutes to midnight, two minutes closer to catastrophe, than in 2014."
"Efforts to reduce world nuclear arsenals have stalled. The disarmament process has ground to a halt, with the US & Russia embarking on huge programs to modernize their nuclear triads - thereby undermining existing nuclear weapons treaties - and other nuclear weapons holders joining in this expensive and extremely dangerous modernization craze."
"Insufficient action to slash worldwide emissions of greenhouse gases can produce global climatic catastrophe.
"Even a so-called "limited" nuclear weapons exchange will produce massive casualties & severe effects on the global environment.
"We implore political leaders of the world to take coordinated, fast action, to drastically reduce global emissions of heat-trapping gases, especially carbon dioxide, and shrink nuclear weapons arsenals."
The Bulletin's Science and Security Board of Sponsors includes 17 Nobel Laureates:
"We implore the citizens of the world to demand action from their leaders. The threat looms over all of humanity. Humanity needs to respond now, while there is still time."
The Clock, established in 1947, has become a universally recognized indicator of the world's vulnerability to catastrophe from nuclear weapons, climate change, and emerging technologies in life sciences.
The Board stresses that catastrophe can be avoided with urgent action. Time wasting is not an option. Essential priorities are:
* Actions which would cap greenhouse gas emissions - at levels which would halt the average global temperature from rising over 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
* Dramatically reduce proposed spending on nuclear weapons modernization programmes.
* Re-energize the disarmament process - with commitment to results.
* Deal urgently with nuclear waste problem.
If President Obama reads the documents and consults with the towering collective knowledge available at the Bulletin, applies that commitment for which they plead, builds bridges globally, rather than blowing them up, there is enough time in the final 22 months of his Presidency, to embark on a road to justify the Nobel Peace Prize he was given at its start.
We can only fervently hope that, as he stated in his acceptance speech, his actions at last "can bend history in the direction of justice."
"Thank You for Your Service!" Says Chief of US Army in Europe
In a new low, even worse than Victoria Nuland and her Maidan cookies, General Ben Hodges, Chief of the US Army in Europe, awarded US army medals to Ukrainian soldiers in Kiev's Central Military Hospital, on January 22nd.
A video was made by "independent" Hromadske TV, a station that publicly admits it's funded by money coming from the US & Dutch embassies - and George Soros. The General said the medal is "a symbol of the US army in Europe" & was given "for excellence".
The general ended his visit by thanking the soldiers for their service. The medals are "challenge coins" not real medals, but unit coins, for a US coin challenge.
The Ukrainian soldiers are mostly lower class people who are dying for Western ambitions in Eastern Europe and Eurasia. Once there's no use for them anymore, they will be forgotten.
At least they'll have one US Army challenge coin, even if, instead of a 100,000 Euro arm prosthesis, that would enable a normal life, the US will have let these men own a cheap piece of metal (worth 10 hryvnia -- less than one dollar).
Ukraine Rebels Vow to Conquer More Territory in War-Torn East
Anti-coup rebels on Friday vow to conquer more territory in east Ukraine and rule out peace talks, after Kiev retreats from a long- disputed airport, and casts aside Europe's latest push for a truce.
The defiant comments from Donetsk leader Alexander Zakharchenko, come as Ukraine renews its allegations of Russian army units fighting with rebels across the frontline of the war-torn country's industrial east.
Pope Anticipates Darkness and Dangers to Humanity in 2015 Pope Francis stresses the existence of darkness and danger for humanity this year, while speaking to Vatican security officials, whom he reminds... of their duty to monitor important places of faith.
He emphasises that the millions of pilgrims also require at least as much protection, as he does.
Leading Russian banker warns of war between US and Russia
More financial sanctions by the US on Russia will lead Moscow & Washington to the “brink of war,” the head of a leading Russian bank has warned.
Ties between the US & Russia will be severed if Russian banks are excluded from the Swift banking system due to tougher sanctions, said Andrei Kostin, chair of Russian state-controlled VTB Bank.
“Ambassadors can leave capitals. It means that Russia and America might have no relationship after that,” Kostin said at the World Economic Forum on Friday.
“If there is no banking relationship, it means the countries are on the verge of war, or definitely in a cold war. It will be a very dangerous situation.”
As one of Russia’s most senior bankers, Kostin meets regularly with President Vladimir Putin and other top officials.
The US & European Union have already imposed several rounds of sanctions on Russia, including visa bans and asset freezes.
Washington and Moscow ties deteriorated last year over the crisis in Ukraine after pro-Western forces ousted the country’s president, Viktor Yanukovych, in February 2014.
The US and allies accuse Moscow of sending troops into eastern Ukraine in support of the anti-coup forces. Moscow has long denied any involvement in Ukraine's conflict.
The Kremlin describes Washington’s foreign policy on Ukraine as “aggressive”, saying the policy “fails to meet present-day realities & demonstrates that the United States actually wants to dominate the world.”
At his State of the Union address on Tuesday, US President Barack Obama said more US support for Ukraine was a principled stand against Russia's aggression.
The president said the United States and its allies were united against Moscow, a policy he said has left Russia isolated diplomatically and weakened economically.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov lashed out on Wednesday at Obama's speech, saying that the comments shows the US has adopted a policy of confrontation towards Russia.
Saudi King Abdullah dead – state TV
Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz has died in hospital while being treated for pneumonia.
An official statement has named Saudi Crown Prince Salman, as the new king.
"His Highness Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and all members of the family and the nation mourn the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz, who passed on at exactly 1 a.m. this morning," says the statement on Saudi Arabian state TV channel, attributed to Salman.
Salman has immediately appointed his half- brother Muqrin, as his crown prince and heir.
Prior to this confirmation, conflicting reports suggested that the Saudis had dismissed news of the king's death on social media.
However, Saudi television cut to Koranic verses early on Friday - a practice known to signify the death of a senior royal, Reuters reports.
US President Barack Obama has expressed his condolences and praised the late Saudi King for his “steadfast and passionate belief in the importance of a US-Saudi relationship as a force for stability and security in the Middle East and beyond.”
Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi announces that he will be leaving the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland in order to travel to Saudi Arabia and pay his respects.
Abdullah was officially appointed king in 2006, but had run the country for at least 10 years as the de facto regent, after his predecessor, King Fahd, suffered a debilitating stroke.
The royal’s age is not officially known, however, it is believed that he was born in 1923, according to Reuters. Abdullah had approximately a dozen wives and was a father to more than 30 children, AP reports.
The new head of state of the premier oil exporter in the world is thought to be 79 years old. King Salman was appointed Crown Prince in 2012 and - in the same year - started serving as a defense minister. Before, he was the governor of Riyadh province for five decades.
Abdullah was a staunch US ally, who supported the west's fight against Al-Qaeda and maintained attempts to keep rival Shia Iran in check.
Under his rule, Saudi Arabia backed terrorist fighters trying to overthrow the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad. The monarch was also the first international head of state to congratulate Egypt's interim government as the July 2013 coup deposed Mohamed Morsi.
King Abdullah made some modest reforms in the areas of women’s rights and economic deregulation, but largely stayed away from any sharp changes to the kingdom’s political system. King Salman is said to be part of the royal circle that will continue to pursue similar policies.
Despite Abdullah’s reforms, women in Saudi Arabia are still not allowed to drive and need male “approval” to work, travel outside the country, open a bank account, and even, sometimes, to have surgery.
Under Abdullah the country stayed an absolute monarchy, guided by Sharia law, with severe punishments, such as public beheadings.
‘Saudi human rights record worst in region: 1 beheading every 4 days’
The US repeatedly turns a blind eye towards Saudi Arabia’s human rights record.
For example, the US government chose to classify 28 pages of a bipartisan congressional 9/11 report, which pointed to the Saudi government as a partial financier of the terrorist attacks. More recently, the State Department came under media fire for not going beyond verbal disagreement, when Saudi Arabia’s blogger, Raif Badawi, was sentenced to 1,000 lashes, for criticizing Islam.
Co-conspirator of 9/11 attacks says 'Saudi prince financed operation'.
Abdullah has been a critic of the Arab Spring movement, harboring fears that it may have inspired local unrest and might subsequently give more power to Iran or Al-Qaeda.
His attempts to keep local demonstrations to a minimum, cost the country some $110 billion in social benefits.
Any discontent has landed activists in jail. The country’s reaction to protesters, has caused grave concern among the world's human rights communities.
Head of US state media puts RT on same challenge list as ISIS, Boko Haram
Newly-appointed chief of US Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), Andrew Lack, has named RT as one of the agency’s main challenges alongside extremist groups like Islamic State & Boko Haram.
Lack, the first chief executive of the BBG: “We are facing a number of challenges from entities like Russia Today which is out there pushing a point of view, the Islamic State in the Middle East, and groups like Boko Haram. But I firmly believe that this agency has a role to play in facing those challenges.”
RT never expected to find itself on a list with the two most dangerous terrorist groups of the day and is seeking clarification on the comment.
“We are extremely outraged that the new head of the BBG mentions RT in the same breath as the world’s number 1 terrorist army,” says Margarita Simonyan, RT’s editor-in-chief. “We see this as an international scandal and demand an explanation.”
Apart from BBG itself, RT seeks clarification from the US State Department, and the US Embassy in Russia.
It’s not the first time the BBG, a bipartisan agency supervising government-sponsored media targeting international audiences, has referred to RT as a ‘challenge.’
“Let’s put together a plan of how much that would cost & how to do something that we could compete with Russia Today [RT] and then let’s go to the Hill and then let’s go to the White House and tell them what it’s going to cost to compete, and let’s see if we can do it,” BBG chair Jeffrey Shell said, in August 2014.
RT is viewed this way “because there’s a terror in London and in Washington of new upstarts, of new information coming out and challenging the narratives that they have owned for the last 50 years or so,” editor of politics.co.uk, Ian Dunt, states.
This New York Times article mentions RT’s “significant American presence” arguing that Russia “poured millions” into its US bureau and the Sputnik news agency.
US politicians have lashed out at RT. John Kerry attacked RT over Ukraine as a ‘Propaganda bullhorn’.
Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov: “[The West] has been convinced for some time that it has a full monopoly on mass media,”
“Russia Today has won a large audience in the US & Western Europe, not to mention in Latin America and the Arab world."
“As a broadcaster, RT does indeed present a challenge to US international broadcasting in terms of competing for viewership,” says the Director of Advocacy and Communications of the International Press Institute (IPI) Steven M. Ellis...
“But RT obviously does not present a type of threat to journalists’ physical security, which entities such as the Islamic State group or Boko Haram pose. Mr. Lack could have phrased his comments more carefully to make this distinction clear, and we hope he will do so in the future.”
US television professionals have, however, been more amenable to RT having nominated its reporting for media awards.
RT received an Emmy nomination for its series of Guantanamo hunger strike reports in 2014, and the channel was earlier nominated for Emmies in 2010 and 2012.
'Covert team' caught after shelling kills at least 9 in eastern Ukraine
What local authorities call a "covert group" has been arrested in Donetsk. The group is suspected of the shelling during rush hour Thursday morning, which took the lives of at least nine people and injured up to twenty.
Residents of Donetsk’s Leninsky district heard shelling at about 08:30 local time, media report. Windows in the buildings near a tram stop were blown out. Locals say they believed their district to be “a quiet place” and were shocked by the “tragedy that happened as people were heading to work.”
A trolleybus was also hit, and eye-witnesses said there were victims inside, as well as bodies lying at the stop, local news outlets said. Conflicting reports, citing medical sources, indicate there may have been up to 13 deaths.
“A covert group has been operating, they have been arrested now. No more comments,” the defense minister of self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic, Vladimir Kononov, tells Gazeta.Ru newspaper.
The authorities of the self-proclaimed republic also say the shelling was carried out using mortars, RIA-Novosti reports.
“Our officers were at the scene, according to the preliminary information, the shelling was conducted with mortars from one of the nearby districts. It appears that two bombs fell on the stop,” says a spokesperson for the DPR's Security Ministry.
“The self-defense forces shortly after arrested a covert group of Ukrainian security forces not far from the scene, at the moment it is being verified whether they were involved in the shelling,” the spokesperson adds.
Deputy speaker of DPR's parliament, Denis Pushilin, says the investigation is ongoing, & “the shelling was supposedly conducted from a minibus or a dustbin lorry.”
The OSCE has sent a group of its experts to the shelling scene, to collect information, spokesperson for the organization’s special monitoring mission to Ukraine, Michael Bociurkiw, tells RIA-Novosti.
“We have sent our patrol group to evaluate the situation. Taking into consideration the security situation, we are to present our assessment in the nearest future,” Bociurkiw says.
The OSCE special mission to Ukraine has called for an immediate ceasefire in the Donbas region and military disengagement, after the Donetsk tragedy, a spokesperson for the mission tells RIA-Novosti.
DPR’s Emergency Ministry tells RIA-Novosti: “As the shelling hit the “Kuprina street” stop, nine people were killed, including the driver of a car that was parked nearby. The car caught fire... Another ten people were injured and taken to hospitals.”
Russia will raise the issue of the deadly Donetsk shelling on Thursday, at a session of the OSCE Permanent Council, the country’s permanent representative says.
“We are stunned by a new monstrous offence in Donetsk … that we regard as a crime against humanity, a barbaric provocation, aimed at disrupting efforts to regulate the Ukrainian crisis peacefully,” Russia’s Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov says in a statement.
“It becomes evident that 'the party of war' in Kiev and its foreign patrons won’t be stopped by loss of life.”
Lavrov also called for an immediate investigation into the incident, which would involve the OSCE mission. “Everything has to be done to stop Kiev’s shelling of south-eastern Ukraine cities,” he says.
Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk said that Russia bears responsibility for the tragedy, blaming rebels for the deaths of civilians in Donetsk, Reuters reports.
“Today Russian terrorists again committed a terrible act against humanity. Russia bears responsibility for this,” he said at 'Unity Day' in Kiev.
The shelling comes shortly after the meeting Wednesday of the foreign ministers of Russia, Ukraine, Germany and France in Berlin, where they tried to progress with a solution to the Ukrainian crisis.
On January 13, twelve people died and 13 more were injured as a bus was hit in Donetsk region, Ukraine’s Interior Ministry said. Denis Pushilin, Donetsk People’s Republic representative at the Minsk talks, says this attack might have been staged by Kiev.
The incident took place near a Ukraine military checkpoint near the town of Volnovakha, the spokesperson for the Interior Ministry in the Donetsk region, Vyacheslav Ambroskin, said.
Initially, 10 people were killed in the shelling. A woman reportedly died in hospital later in the day, according to the Donetsk regional administration which cited health officials. The regional administration also reported that 18 people had been injured.
Lavrov: Global US Domination Aggressive Philosophy
Russia's Foreign Minister Serguey Lavrov calls the aspiration of the United States to global domination, a dangerously aggressive philosophy, which ignores objective processes, in a world shaped by several power circles.
The philosophy of believing itself as number one - and the rest should admit it - is very aggressive and outdated, Lavrov states, during the annual media conference, in reference to Washington's resistance to recognize the new situation and the dynamic towards a multipolar order.
On the recent speech by President Obama, the head of Russian diplomacy says the White House's administration does not analyze its steps critically, when trying to isolate Russia and make the confrontation tense.
Obama's speech clearly shows that the course of the US Government is towards confrontation, and old philosophies of world domination, says Lavrov.
The foreign minister warns that the changes in global dynamics will inexorably force a change in that philosophy, in time.
The minister says practice has proved that global problems aren't solved in isolation, and gives as two examples, the struggle against the terror group Islamic State, and international terrorism.
Lavrov also asserts that the United States has imposed its interests on Europe and forced it into a confrontation with Russia, after the sanctions imposed on Moscow.
Yemeni Tribal Leader Dismisses Threat of US-biased UN's Sanctions
Abdelmallik al-Houthi, leader of the Shiite Houthi tribe, in control today of the presidential palace and several areas of the capital, warns that he will face any punitive measures passed by the UN Security Council.
The Houthis have fought fierce battles with Abd Rabu Mansour Hadi's presidential guard, and took the president's mansion yesterday, as some guards put down their weapons.
Informal versions estimate that the fighting left at least 10 dead and about fifty wounded amongst the official ranks:- the members of Ansar Ullah, the Houthi armed movement, do not usually report their casualties.
"I warn the UN Security Council that it will not benefit from measures taken against the Houthi", says their leader, in a public speech last night, after a day of confusion in this capital, where all the government agencies halted their work, but businesses reopened.
Meeting last night behind closed doors, the highest organ of the UN repeated its support for Mansur Hadi as "the legitimate authority", and urged all parties involved in the conflict to support the president, whose whereabouts are unknown, and to conduct dialogues for a solution to the crisis.
The Houthis, Shiites of the Zaidi sect, complain of discrimination by the country's Sunni majority, and they launched a major military offensive last September that allows them to control areas and extend their presence to the provinces of Hudeida and Ibb, in the centre of Yemen.
The crisis in the capital started on Saturday, as the Houthi delegates walked out of a meeting on the Constitution, to protest at Yemen's federation into 6 regions, which they see as detrimental for them, since it locks them into an area with no natural resources, or access to the sea.
The same day the president's chief of staff, Ahmad Awad bin Mubarak, was kidnapped. His release was demanded by tribal chiefs and political parties in the south.
The President's meetings with leaders of political parties and movements, and the Military Council, for Monday, didn't occur, creating greater uncertainty, regarding the course of events.
Opposition Celebrates in Argentina
Prosecutor Alberto Nisman''s accusations against Argentina's Executive, and his death, are boosting the Argentine opposition's campaign against the government, in an election year.
Calls to street protests, a loud media offensive full of distortions & caustic celebrations by opposition politicians and show-business people, resound in Argentina today.
They are so desperate to overthrow the national popular model started by Nestor Kirchner in 2003 and enhanced by Cristina Fernandez, during her two presidential terms, that opposition jubilation nearly borders on political hysteria.
Nisman's accusations against the president and her foreign minister, of covering up the alleged involvement of Iran in an attack on an Argentine Jewish institution in 1994 in exchange for oil are groundless and can easily be unmasked in court.
However, those who conceived the plot have achieved their goal of unleashing a political scandal that is further resounding days after Nisman's "dubious death", according to the file compiled by the prosecutor investigating the case, Viviana Fein.
They've supplied weapons to forces, inside and outside, in their efforts to beat a project of a popular progressive nature, in the 2015 elections.
In a communiqué, the Workers' Confederation of Argentina demands total clarification of the prosecutor's death & demands that this event not be used for political speculation, to gain benefits in elections.
According to the main workers' organization, it is evident that the atmosphere created by Nisman's death is being used to benefit the same powerful groups, that dream about eradicating completely the process of truth and justice, initiated in 2003.
Peace talks conference held in Damascus
The representatives of several Syrian political factions are gathered in the capital Damascus to discuss an outline solution to their country’s conflict, Press TV reports.
Held at Dama Rose Hotel, Monday, it was called for by Syria's Ministry of National Reconciliation Affairs, with the presence of the Syrian National Dialogue Committee and other parties.
The gathering comes ahead of scheduled peace talks...... to be held in Moscow on January 26th.
“What will take place in Russia is a forum aimed at discussing suitable means to make a success of a Syrian-Syrian dialogue meeting inside Syria.
“What we are seeking is an outline for a Syrian solution to the crisis in Syria,” the Minister of National Reconciliation, Ali Haidar, states.
“A political solution through national dialogue among Syrians is the only way out of the crisis. This dialogue should lead to setting a program with a particular schedule and clear steps, in a way that respects democracy, freedom, security, sovereignty and national unity,” says Syrian opposition figure, Adel Nuaiseh.
Syria has been grappling with deadly conflict since March 2011. The violence, fueled by Takfiri groups, has so far claimed the lives of 200,000+ people, according to reports.
6.5 million Syrians are internally displaced by the ongoing crisis, according to the UN.
US Majority Disapproves of Congress' Work, Says Poll
Around 76 percent of the US people disapprove of Congress's work, according a poll this week.
The poll, taken by Gallup, shows that the US' legislature begins with no signs of renewed support by electors, even among those of the red party, since just 16% of those polled approve of the work by the legislature.
The poll reveals that Congress approval levels are rarely high and the historic average does not exceed 32 percent of popularity, although there're reasons to believe that this Congress will have little more support in coming months, than the two previous ones.
USA threatens Palestinian Authority with annual aid cut
Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham warns Palestinians that they could lose US’ annual aid should they lodge a lawsuit at the International Criminal Court.
Graham, who is visiting Israel, Saudi Arabia and Qatar as part of a seven-member senate delegation, said that existing US legislation “would cut off aid to the Palestinians if they filed a complaint.”
The US supplies $400 million dollars worth of aid annually, to the Palestinian Authority.
Last month, Israel halted the transfer of over $120 million in taxes belonging to Palestinians after the Palestinian Authority applied to join the ICC.
After foreign aid is deducted, tax revenues account for two-thirds of the Palestinian Authority's yearly budget.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon states that Palestinians will become a member of the ICC, on April 1st.
The US has condemned the ICC decision to launch a preliminary investigation into Israel’s crimes, calling it a "tragic irony".
Israel is lobbying ICC member states to cut their funding to the ICC in retaliation for its bid to launch a probe into Israeli war crimes.
ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda states that her office intends to conduct an “impartial fully independent analysis” into suspected war crimes by Israeli military forces.
Ukraine bombing raid kills 30 civilians in the S. East
A Donetsk official says Ukrainian warplanes have bombed the eastern city of Gorlovka, killing over 30 civilians including children, as part of Kiev's new offensive on anti-coup forces in the volatile eastern regions.
Eduard Basurin, deputy commander of the headquarters of the self declared Donetsk People’s Republic said on Monday that the Ukrainian military dropped 500-kilogram FAB-500 bombs on Gorlovka’s residential districts, a day earlier.
Basurin added that Kiev troops for the first time used the tactic of “blind” bombing...
“We think the Ukrainian pilots are simply afraid of flying at low altitudes because of heavy losses from our air defense systems last summer.”
The bomb raid comes as Kiev forces have launched a large-scale offensive against the anti-coup forces in eastern regions.
The defense ministry of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic last week said that government troops used phosphorous in attacking Donetsk International Airport.
The United Nations Security Council is set to hold a meeting on Wednesday to discuss ways to end the spiraling deadly clashes in Ukraine’s east.
The 15-member council meets at the request of Lithuania in an attempt to find a solution to the crisis, which has flared up in recent days.
S. Korea to legalize peaceful unification with DPRK
S. Korea plans to legalize its government responsibility for peaceful unification with the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Seoul's unification ministry says on Monday.
The "act to lay foundation for peaceful unification," will be enacted this year, the ministry says, in its annual report to the president, Park Geun-hye.
South Korea's new act aims to define in detail the existing law on unification - adding the government's responsibility - and a way of preparing for peaceful unification.
On "opening a unification era" in 2015, to mark the 70th anniversary of Korea's division, the South Korean government is to place personnel in charge of the unification preparations and put task forces in each government ministry.
Japan gov't eyes first overseas SDF long-term base in Djibouti: report
Japan's government is considering extending the Djibouti base's functions... making it the first semi-permanent multi-purpose base for the Self-Defense Force (SDF) to act in Africa & the Middle East, local media report Monday.
Japan opened an 'anti-piracy' base in Djibouti, East Africa, in June 2011, on 12 hectares next to Djibouti-Ambouli International Airport, also building a command headquarters, boarding facilities, and a parking area there, at a cost of 4.7 billion yen (40.07 million U.S. dollars).
About 180 Japanese SDF personnel stay at Japan's first and only overseas base on a four-month rotational basis to ensure the safe passage of passenger & commercial ships through the perilous Gulf of Aden, off the coast of Somalia.
According to Japan's Asahi Shimbun, Defense Ministry & SDF officials are considering letting SDF troops use the base for disaster relief and UN peacekeeping activities, and to board SDF troops dispatched from Japan in the event of emergencies and terrorist activities.
Thus, the base will become an operational centre for SDF troops in the region on the assumption that Japan continues using it on a long-term basis.
In Japan, at the moment, the government has to pass temporary legislation for each SDF mission sent abroad. If the task is ended, the relevant base has to be removed accordingly.
As Japanese PM Shinzo Abe eyes increasing the capability of the SDF, under the banner of "Active Pacifism", observers fear that the new plan to build a long-term overseas base increases the risk of a war involving Japan, violates the war-renouncing Article 9, and changes Japan's defense-oriented posture.
Ukraine army targeted Gorlovka with 500kg air bombs – Donetsk militia leader
Ukrainian warplanes used 500kg aviation bombs in their attack on Gorlovka town on Sunday, says Aleksandr Zakharchenko, head of the People’s Republic of Donetsk, adding that it was not a targeted bombardment.
"Towards the evening, Ukrainian bombers performed an airstrike on Gorlovka with 500-kilogram aviation bombs. Notably, the bombardment was not targeted; it came from over the clouds and the aim was just to hit the town,” Zakharchenko says.
Over 30 people, including children, have been killed or injured in Donetsk, as a result of the Ukrainian offensive on Sunday, he adds.
The city's mayor, Oleg Gubanov, also says that two people were killed and 16 others injured after a Ukrainian shell exploded at a bus station in Gorlovka.
Several buildings, including four schools and a kindergarten, suffered direct hits during the bombardment, “which went on without a break for almost 24 hours,” he adds.
Donetsk administration states that at least five civilians were killed in the city on Sunday. Several residential buildings and a shop were seriously damaged by artillery fire.
“For several weeks, we’ve been shouting ...trying to prove that Ukraine's military is using the truce to perform a massive regrouping of its forces to prepare for a large-scale offensive. But all of our appeals to the OSCE and Joint Centre for Control & Coordination (JCCC) have been ignored,” the head of the Donetsk People’s Republic says.
“The representatives of the JCCC have themselves felt the scale of Ukraine's shelling,” as they came under fire in Gorlovka earlier in the day, he adds.
Zakharchenko also stresses that “all attempts of Ukraine's forces to take revenge for the defeat they suffered last autumn, have failed.”
“The self-defense forces have successfully repelled all 6 attacks by Ukraine's armored vehicle columns, performed with massive artillery support. As a result, I can say that the Ukrainian offensive on the airport has failed,” he says.
Rebels dislodged Kiev troops from Peski village - which was used by the Ukrainian army to shell the Donetsk airport on a daily basis, he adds.
The Russian representative at the JCCC has confirmed that his colleagues came under artillery fire from Kiev's forces in Gorlovka, on Sunday.
He also stresses that shelling residential areas in Donetsk, is being performed by the Ukrainian military’s regular forces.
"Previously, all the attacks on Donetsk and its suburbs were mainly conducted by uncontrolled National Guard units or the so-called territorial battalions, but today it’s clear that the shelling of residential areas is being performed by regular units of the Ukrainian army.
"Also, for the first time after a long break, the Ukrainian side is using aviation," the representative says.
The offensive by Ukraine's military in Donetsk Region, is a violation of the Minsk peace deal, signed by the two sides on September 5th, he adds.
Instead of the agreed withdrawal of troops to a safe distance, “we see, in fact, an attempt by Ukrainian forces to storm rebel positions, which has led to new mass casualties among civilians in Donetsk and Gorlovka,” the representative stresses.
US war against ISIL is ‘total fraud’ to create a CIA base: Journalist
A Pentagon plan to arm and train the so-called moderate militants in Syria to fight against the ISIL terrorist group, is a “total fraud”, and a “bogus” claim, to carve out a CIA base in the region, an American journalist in Missouri says.
The United States is fighting a “multi-front war” against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, as he operates independently from the West, says Dean Henderson, author & columnist at Veterans Today.
“This whole ISIS thing is just an attempt to carve out this base where the CIA, Mossad, and British intelligence, can operate freely and attack Syria -- for now -- but maybe later, Iran,” Henderson tells Press TV.
Henderson says Congress is wasting “precious US tax dollars” to fund the false fight against ISIL, which the CIA helped create in the beginning.
“We’re not against ISIS, we are ISIS, we created ISIS, we trained ISIS, we are ISIS,” he acknowledges.
On Saturday, a delegation of US senators led by John McCain, began a tour of the Middle East, taking them to Saudi Arabia and Qatar, to discuss a Pentagon plan to arm and train “moderates”, in Syria.
The US Defense Department announced it is deploying about 1,000 troops to train Syrian militants to fight against the ISIL terrorist group.
Analysts reject the idea that “moderate” militants exist in Syria. “Nobody in any position of expertise here, thinks that there really is any significant moderate Syrian rebel force. It does not exist,” Dr. Kevin Barrett, a professor of Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies, says, in an interview with Press TV.
Several Hezbollah Fighters Martyred in Israeli Raid in Syria
Hezbollah announces that several of its fighters were martyred on Sunday in an Israeli airstrike in Quneitra region, Syria.
“The Israeli enemy's helicopters fired missiles at a group of Hezbollah fighters who were inspecting Mazraat al-Amal town, in the Syrian Quneitra region,” a statement issued by Hezbollah says.
The strike “resulted in the martyrdom of a number of brothers, whose names will be announced later, after informing their honorable families,” the statement adds.
Mohamad Issa – chief of Hezbollah operations in Syria – was among those killed, along with Jihad Moughniyah – son of the late Hezbollah leader Imad Moughniyah – reports Al Arabiya.
The attack in Quneitra, is near the Israeli- occupied Golan Heights.
Israeli authorities haven't officially commented. However, a security source states to Reuters - on condition of anonymity - that it was “an Israeli helicopter that carried out the attack.”
The helicopter fired rockets at the convoy, while two Israeli reconnaissance planes were reportedly seen flying over the area.
Another source told Israel's Ynet news, the strike hit "terrorists intending to attack Israel" close to the ceasefire line that separates the Syrian part of Golan Heights from the Israeli- occupied sector. No more details were given.
A statement on Lebanon’s Al-Manar, says the attack suggests that Israel “has gone crazy, because of Hezbollah’s growing capabilities and it could lead to a costly adventure, that will put the Middle East at stake."
The attack follows Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah’s statement that frequent Israeli strikes in Syria are a major aggression against the whole ‘axis of resistance,' not just Damascus, and that the group has the right to retaliate.
Hezbollah has promised retaliation, saying Israel has crossed all lines with the attack.
Putin prods all sides into resolving Ukraine crisis peacefully
Russian President Vladimir Putin has been trying to ask parties involved in Ukraine crisis to spare no effort, in peacefully settling the situation.
"I propose both sides... take urgent measures to stop shelling each other, as well as immediately withdraw heavy weaponry," Russia's Channel 1 Television quotes Putin's message, sent to his Ukrainian counterpart Petro Poroshenko.
"Recent developments in southeastern Ukraine, the resumed shelling of settlements in Donetsk and Lugansk regions, cause grave concern and actually imperil the peace settlement process, based on the September Minsk agreement of last year," Channel 1 Television quotes Putin as saying in the message.
Putin promises that Russia is ready to work with the Organization for Security and Co- operation in Europe (OSCE), to monitor the implementation of the ceasefire agreement and the heavy weapons withdrawal by the conflicting sides in Ukraine.
However, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov has disclosed that Putin's weapon withdrawal proposal has been "rejected" by the Ukrainian side.
"The Ukrainian president received the letter on Friday morning. Unfortunately the Ukrainian side rejected the proposed plan without providing an alternative offer, meanwhile, resuming military operations," RIA Novosti news agency quotes Peskov as saying.
The spokesperson stresses that "Russia has consistently made efforts to mediate in the conflict in recent days."
Russia's Foreign Ministry says Russia is also ready to "use its influence" to persuade the local militias to accept a weapon withdrawal as "a good will gesture", to avoid any more civilian deaths.
In an online statement, the ministry expresses deep concern over Kiev's increasing military presence in Donbas --- a local name referring to eastern Ukraine.
"The intensive militarization, announcements of 'new waves' of citizens' mobilization, and appeals from Kiev to 'take revenge' for the situation 'on the ground', that have taken place after signing the Minsk agreement" prove the Ukrainian side is defying the Minsk agreements, the ministry says, in the statement.
According to the statement, Kiev's regime took advantage of the recent ceasefire to regroup its forces and continue its military actions, while insisting on force to solve the crisis.
Calling for strict adherence to the Minsk agreement by all parties, Russia's Foreign Ministry says Moscow is doing everything in its power to make sure that the contact group can meet early next week.
"We are urging its members and all those influencing the situation to prevent more negotiation breakdowns,"the ministry says,stressing that all sides should immediately return to practical work on "comprehensive implementation" of the Minsk agreement.
Donetsk shelled as Kiev 'orders massive fire' on militia-held E. Ukraine
Violence is escalating in east Ukraine, as Kiev’s troops launched a massive assault on militia-held areas, on Sunday morning.
The army was ordered to start mass shelling of all rebel positions, a presidential aide says.
The order to launch the attack was issued at 6am early on Sunday, according to Yury Biryukov, an aide to President Poroshenko.
“Today we'll show HOW good we are at jabbing in the teeth,” he wrote on his Facebook page, a mode of conveying information favored by many current Ukrainian officials.
In a later post he said: “They are now striking a dot. Uuu…” in a reference to Tochka-U (‘tochka’ is Russian for ‘dot’), a tactical ballistic missile, one of the most powerful weapons Kiev has so far deployed against rebel forces.
“That wasn’t a dot but ellipsis. Strong booms,” he added.
Ground reports confirm a sharp escalation of clashes across the front line, with particularly heavy artillery fire reported at Gorlovka.
“Locals in Donetsk say they haven’t heard such intensive shelling since summer,” Valentin Motuzenko, a military official in the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, tells Interfax news agency.
“The Ukrainian military are using all kinds of weapons, Grad multiple rocket launchers, mortars…” Motuzenko says.
A source at the site says that a group of OSCE monitors have demanded that the Ukrainian military stop the shelling. The source adds that there is a danger that the group may itself come under artillery fire.
Several residential buildings, a shop and a bus station, have been badly damaged by artillery fire in the city, RIA Novosti reports. There are also reports now, of attacks on Makeevka town & several nearby villages.
The militia adds that at least one shell hit a residential area in central Donetsk rather than the outskirts of the city.
The escalation comes after several days of violent clashes at the ruins of Donetsk International Airport, a scene of constant fighting over months of a shaky ceasefire between Kiev’s troops and local militias.
The militia, who accused the Kiev military of launching constant attacks on Donetsk from their positions at the airport, report taking over the location this week. Kiev had denied this.
The Ukrainian Security and Defense Council now confirms the resumption of hostilities and that Kiev's aim is to retake the airport.
This escalation of violence comes after a controversial incident at Kiev’s checkpoint near the town of Volnovakha, where twelve passengers were killed on Tuesday.
Kiev blamed the deaths on the militia, saying it was hit by a Grad rocket. The DNR forces denied the accusations and said the bus was targeted by the Ukrainian troops themselves – either in a tragic incident or as a staged provocation – and said the damage visible in the picture of the bus is consistent with a less powerful weapon, possibly a landmine.
OSCE's observer team studied blast craters near the checkpoint and confirmed the direction they came from.
Russia’s permanent representative to the OSCE, Andrey Kelin, says the direction runs along the disengagement line separating militia- and Kiev-controlled areas, which makes it difficult to determine who fired the rockets.
The observers did not identify the type of rockets used.
Netanyahu blasts ICC's inquiry into Israel-Palestine conflict
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemns the International Criminal Court (ICC)'s decision to start a preliminary probe into possible warcrimes committed against Palestinians.
He slams the move as "preposterous" & "folly."
"It's absurd for the ICC to go after Israel, which upholds the highest standards of international law," Netanyahu says, in a televised statement from his Jerusalem office.
Netanyahu argues that Israel was only trying to defend itself against "Palestinian terrorists who routinely commit multiple war crimes."
He adds that those who should be prosecuted by the ICC are Palestinian extremists, saying "they deliberately fire thousands of rockets at our civilians, while hiding behind Palestinian civilians whom they used a human shield."
Netanyahu telephoned the US State Secretary John Kerry, to ask Washington to help prevent the ICC from going forward with the inquiry.
The US has now reacted to the ICC's move, by condemning it as "counterproductive to the cause of peace."
On Friday, the US State Department said it was "a tragic irony that Israel, which has withstood thousands of terrorist rockets fired at its civilians and its neighborhoods, is now being scrutinized by the ICC."
Washington has also argued that Palestine isn't a state & is therefore not eligible to join the ICC, says Israel's Haaretz news website.
In Palestine, the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) hails the move as an "important & positive step towards achieving justice & guaranteeing respect for the international law."
Fawzi Barhoum, Hamas spokesperson in Gaza, also welcomes the ICC's decision, saying it is "the right step in the right direction."
The spokesperson also says that Hamas is ready to work with the ICC by providing all the needed documents, evidence and testimonies that would "show that the Israeli enemy committed war crimes in Gaza against our people."
The ICC announced its decision to open an initial inquiry on Friday, "to check if there is a reasonable basis for starting a probe into possible war crimes committed in the Palestinian territories."
The decision came after the PNA signed the Rome Statute and joined the ICC, this month.
Nearly 2,200 Palestinians, mostly civilians, were killed in the summer's 50 day long war in the Gaza Strip. Israel saw the loss of 73 people, all but six, being soldiers.
New Ukrainian Armed Forces drafts fraught with full-scale war in Europe
A new spate of drafting to the Ukrainian Armed Forces, the fourth since the start of the military campaign in Ukraine’s eastern regions, testifies to Kiev’s plans to suppress resistance in the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics by force, and is fraught with the danger of a full-scale war in the center of Europe, experts polled by TASS say.
On Thursday, Ukraine’s Verkhovna Rada voted for a Law on Partial Mobilization. The country’s Defense Ministry said earlier that about 104,000 people with military specializations in tanks, artillery, airborne troops, telecommunications, and various aspects of mechanics, in the age bracket of 25 to 60 years old, would be drafted into the Army in 2015, "if need be".
The ministry claims that rotation of servicemen in the zone of the so-called anti-terrorist operation, is the objective of the drafts.
“Yet another draft to the Armed Forces declared in Ukraine now, proves that all the talk about a willingness for peace in the S. East of Ukraine on president Petro Poroshenko's part, is little more than a cover-up aimed at getting a pause, prior to a major offensive on the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics,” Dr Konstantin Sivkov, president of the Academy of Geopolitical Problems, states.
“At present, the Ukrainian Army doesn’t have enough manpower or resources to guarantee victory over the self-defense forces, but Poroshenko obviously hopes to accumulate enough strength to destroy the rebellious republics by spring,” he says.
“The so-called Ukraine Freedom Support Act passed by the US Congress at the end of last year, empowers the US President to grant offensive weaponry to Ukraine to the tune of $350,000,000, and the armaments' scope includes anti-tank armor-piercing weapons, anti-artillery radars, drones, and secure communications systems,” Dr Sivkov adds.
“NATO states are already providing Kiev with weapons from depots of the former Warsaw Treaty Organization.”
“Ukraine has received armored personnel carriers decommissioned in the UK. Ukrainian plants can’t manufacture up-to- date armaments, as they received some component parts for them, from Russia.”
“There’s hardly any doubt regarding Kiev’s lust to regain control over Donbas through the use of armaments, since the region has the biggest manufacturing potential and natural resources - mostly coal - in Ukraine,” Dr. Sivkov says.
“In addition, Donbas and Novorossia that were declared on its territory, make up a buffer zone between Russia & Ukraine, while the American masters of the incumbent Kiev rulers, need to eliminate that buffer zone by fair means or foul to turn it into a springboard for destabilizing Russia. These plans of the Kiev government, which is drawing on Washington’s support, are fraught with the danger of a full-scale war in the center of Europe,” he says.
Dr. Sivkov notes the difficulties in preparing for a summit of the 'Normandy format' states — Germany, France, Russia, and Ukraine — in Kazakhstan’s capital Astana. Preparations for this summit won't achieve a peace settlement in eastern Ukraine, as the US is pushing Kiev to resolve the conflict by using force.
“The new spate of drafts to Ukraine's Army isn't a conventional one, since mobilization means preparation for war,” Dr Vyacheslav Nikonov, a deputy of the State Duma, says.
“Petro Poroshenko, president & commander- in-chief, is thus playing out the scenario of a future war in this manner,” he says.
“Since Poroshenko is not an independently acting figure, he won’t declare a new draft, unless his initiative is a suitable cover for US plans to fan tensions in the region, as a means of struggle with Russia.”
“Russia won’t be able to watch the plight of citizens of the Donetsk & Luhansk republics placidly, because Russians never let their relatives or friends down,” Dr. Nikonov says.
“Once, in the past, the US lost the Vietnam war because Russia, then the Soviet Union, aided the brotherly Vietnamese people, and that is a lesson not to be forgotten.”
Minsk meeting still not taking place.
The meeting, scheduled for Friday, included representatives from the anti-coup regions in S. Eastern Ukraine, but was called off on Friday, by Kiev.
E. Ukrainian rebels say they now control Donetsk airport
The militias in southeastern Ukraine say they now fully control the strategically important Donetsk airport, after an exhausting stand- off with government forces.
The airport has been the scene of violent fighting, since last May.
Parliaments of Cuba and Chile Ask for Closer Links
The President of Cuba's parliament, Esteban Lazo, and the head of the Chilean Chamber of Deputies, Aldo Cornero, say both of their legislative groups want to strengthen links, stating that both their governments and peoples, favour this.
The invitation on Cuba's part, is a true expression of our interest in contributing to improve relations and build the collaborative mechanisms between the parliaments of both nations, affirms Corneiro.
The christian democrat deputy heads a high-level delegation formed, among others, by communist Lautaro Carmona, Vice-preasident of the Chamber of Deputies & a member of the Interparliamentary Group Chile-Cuba.
As he thanked Cuba for the invitation, Cornero praised the particular circumstance in which the visit took place, since the decision of the Cuban & US governments to start to normalize relations --- after more than half a century of US hostility.
Chileans will support everything that leads to improving the life of Cubans, and we ask that this effort has a positive ending, he stated.
Lazo said thank you to the gestures of Chilean solidarity with Cuba, and recalled that the US trade blockade remains, so the island still needs friends all over the world.
He also stressed the significance of the first visit in decades by representatives of the Chilean parliament, a country that - he said - contributed notably to the struggles for independence of the island, in the 19th century.
Chile was the second nation to recognize Cuba's struggle against Spanish colonialism and many of its children joined the cause, he recalled.
He added that this parliamentary visit will bring a tightening of bilateral relations, and a strengthening of the necessary unity of Latin America.
Cornero and his delegation will remain in Havana until January 18th to meet with other authorities and tour historical and scientific places in the Cuban capital.
As he returns to Venezuela via Moscow airport, president Nicolas Maduro leaves convinced of both the strength & efficiency, of the strategic Russia-Venezuela association.
A two-hour dialogue with his peer and host, Vladimir Putin, was enough to reaffirm the political & economic strength of the alliance.
After meeting with Putin, in statements to Prensa Latina, the South American states- person confirmed they had reviewed topics on energy, the agro-industry, commerce, and the food sector.
Other subjects approached were the develop- ment of infrastructure, housing construction projects, cultural cooperation and financing for development plans.
An agreement was signed to increase investment and participation by Russian enterprises in mixed companies already existing in the Orinoco strip, and other projects that will expand stock investments, stated Maduro.
Investment will keep increasing in oil production, to defend the oil market, and to strengthen their strategic alliance in energy and in financing, to keep the country functioning while oil prices are low, said the Venezuelan president.
Credits will be extended to the industrial, food & infrastructure sectors, as well as in programs of social development, called "missions", in Venezuela.
As an example of the support, despite the oil market limitations for both exporting powers, plus sanctions imposed by the US & its allies, Maduro says it has been decided to finance, with a billion dollars, the erection of the first 30 school integrated centres.
The President's optimism was obvious when he mentioned he was returning to report to the popular councils on the achievements made, give details of the tour, and reply at a higher level to what he says, is a pretend economic coup détat, by the opposition.
Putin and Maduro decided to advance the date of the meeting of the Intergovernmental High Level Commission to next April in Moscow to define their cooperation program for 2015-2016.
To that end, the Deputy Minister of Industries, Carlos Farias, executive sec for Venezuela, of the joint intergovernmental commission, will travel to Moscow next week.
Moscow & Caracas keep closely collaborating, above all in the oil market, where Russia is the number one world producer (14 percent) and Venezuela has the largest proven reserves of oil with 298.4 billion barrels (18 percent of the world's crude).
If the 80 billion barrels (4.8% of Russian reserves) are added to the Venezuelan reserves, this totals one quarter of all Earth's reserves.
USA Expands Training of Syrian Anti-government Group
The US will send over 400 advisors & "several hundred" ground troops to the Middle East in the coming months, to train anti-government groups, the Pentagon announces.
The plan marks an extension of President Barack Obama's program to increase the preparation of these irregular groups, which began in March 2013, in Jordan, under the direction of the CIA.
The mission will be led by the US military and it anticipates training - over the next three years - over 15,000 irregulars of the groups seeking to overthrow by force, President Bashar Al-Assad.
The DoD's statement doesn't make clear the location of these training centres, although Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, have all offered themselves as bases for such acts.
The head of the White House last December signed a bill that includes a plan for air strikes against Islamic State, about five billion dollars for the training of Iraqi forces, as well as other resources & 'advisors' for Syrian 'irregulars'.
The military coalition led by Washington has, since August 8th, bombed terrorist groups in Iraq and on September 23rd, extended these bombings to Syrian soil, without the consent of the government in Damascus.
UN calls on Israel to ‘immediately’ resume tax revenue transfer to Palestinians
The UN is now calling on Israel to resume transferring tax revenues to the Palestinian Authority, which it withheld in retaliation for Palestinian efforts to join the International Criminal Court (ICC).
Greek anti-austerity party holds lead before snap election
A recent opinion poll shows that Greece’s anti- bailout opposition political party Syriza holds a lead over the ruling conservatives & is expected to grab the largest share of votes in this month’s snap general election.
According to a survey by pollsters with Pulse for Action 24 television published on Thursday, Syriza will get 31.5% of the vote against 28% for the liberal-conservative political party New Democracy of Prime Minister Antonis Samaras.
The results come a day after the Alco poll for the newspaper To Pontiki revealed that Greek leftist opposition party Syriza holds a steady 3.5-point lead over the ruling conservatives.
That survey, held between January 11th and 13th, indicated that Syriza would get 32.4% of the vote against 28.9% for the New Democracy party.
Syriza will hold 142 of the 300 seats in the parliament should Greeks cast their ballots in the January 25 election, as surveys show.
That means an overall parliamentary majority would be out of Syriza’s reach as the leading party must usually collect between 36 and 40 percent of the vote, to win outright.
Samaras has warned that the cash-strapped country may be forced out of the eurozone if Syriza wins the vote later this month.
Syriza leftists have consistently topped opinion polls in recent months, promising to reverse the austerity measures that secured an international bailout by the so-called troika of the International Monetary Fund, the European Commission, and the European Central Bank.
Greece nearly went bankrupt in 2010, only to survive on international rescue packages. It has received 240 billion euros (USD 330 billion) in international loans.
Sayyed Nasrallah: Hezbollah Ready to Invade Galilee and beyond Galilee
Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah asserts that the Islamic Resistance is ready to invade Galilee & Israeli settlements beyond Galilee, in any upcoming war against the Zionist entity.
Sayyed Nasrallah points out that the Resistance won't only resort to missiles to defend Lebanon. It has prepared its fighters to be able to storm Galilee, if their leadership needs to order this.
During an exclusive interview with Al-Mayadeen TV Network broadcast live on Al-Manar Channel, Sayyed Nasrallah says that, despite Hezbollah's current preoccupations, it has accumulated and sustained its military power, adding that the Israeli enemy has acknowledged that the party is gaining huge military experience, from various battlefields.
Sayyed Nasrallah points out that the resistance has every conceivable type of weapon, revealing that it has possessed Fateh 110 missiles ever since the 2006 war. He goes on to hint of more... "The resistance also has weaponry that is much more sophisticated."
Hezbollah Secretary General says the party is following a permanent plan to develop its abilities and that, in 2015, the resistance is stronger than ever before.
His eminence notes, "We do not limit our human and military capabilities."
Concerning the Israeli recurrent air raids on targets in Syria, Sayyed Nasrallah says that all the axis of resistance is concerned with responding to the attacks, stressing that the response may take place "at any time".
Sayyed Nasrallah reveals that Israeli air raids were always part of a militant plan to attack the Syrian army, noting the communication by the Israeli military, with terrorist groups in the Golan and in Quneitra.
Hezbollah's leader stresses that the Resistance cannot tolerate the Israeli assaults, adding that the party considers that the terrestrial, marine and air violations -- besides the assassinations and the assault --- are red lines which cannot be crossed by the Zionists.
Sayyed Nasrallah notes that Hezbollah will respond to any Israeli violations, in the way that he finds suitable.
However, he adds that the resistance does not compel itself to respond in a manner that might serve the Zionist's interests.
Sayyed Nasrallah clarifies that the Resistance's operation against the Zionist occupation troops on Shebaa Farms in 2014, was a response to the Israeli deliberate murder of a Hezbollah fighter who was dismantling a Zionist spying device.
Sayyed Nasrallah highlights that the US-Zionist security violation of Hezbollah was exaggerated, revealing that Hezbollah detected the spy, who worked in favor of the Israeli enemy, but did not have any relation with the military structure of the resistance.
His eminence adds that the social environment of the resistance does not embrace spy work in favor of the enemy, noting that Hezbollah deals with such violations very seriously.
"As the Israeli security violation was serious, Hezbollah's achievement in detecting the violation, must be applauded."
Hezbollah Secretary General says the party has not deployed military units on the Golan Heights, but is ready to aid public resistance to the Israeli occupation in the area.
"The Zionist entity is no longer able to achieve any military victory in Lebanon after its failure in its recent war on Gaza," Sayyed Nasrallah underscores, "I don't eliminate the possibility of a war with the Zionist entity, yet 'Israel'.. does not launch wars, if it isn't sure of being able to achieve victory."
"Hezbollah has not halted communication with the Palestinian resistance factions, and Hamas is now trying to reset its relation with the axis of resistance," Sayyed Nasrallah says, "We will try to promote these relations, in order to fight the Zionist enemy together."
Commenting on the Syrian-Iraqi scene, the Secretary General points out that militant gangs are unable to beat the regular army, adding that dethroning President Bashar Assad, can no longer be achieved.
"The Syrian opposition does not have any problem about sharing with president Assad in ruling the country, but the interventionists are banning this process."
Stressing that any political solution in Syria must also include President Assad, Sayyed Nasrallah says that the regular army controls most Syrian territories and that ISIL, Nusra Front and the so-called Free Syrian Army, hold the rest.
Saudi Arabia's battlefield influence turned out to be so meager, after the Kingdom committed a major mistake by implementing the Afghani pattern in Syria, Sayyed Nasrallah points out.
Hezbollah's Secretary General confirms that Turkey funds & supports ISIL and Nusra, who get battlefield facilities from the government in Ankara, but he also mentions that Turkish- Iraqi relations may improve with the advent of the new government in Baghdad.
Sayyed Nasrallah asserts that the International Coalition's air raids against ISIL do not aim at eradicating the terrorist group as the US isn't concerned with achieving this goal at present.
"The Americans aim only at containing ISIL, and having US military bases in Iraq."
Hezbollah Sec Gen points out that the Iraqis themselves managed to stop ISIL attacks on their cities with aid from their Iranian brethren.
His eminence clarifies that the US administration is no longer concerned with excluding President Assad from the political solution in Syria.
Sayyed Nasrallah asserts that Hezbollah considers that President Assad can guarantee the implementation of any political solution in Syria.
"The ISIL card has been played and exhausted & the terrorist group can't change the formula. ISIL started to lose its popularity in Iraq, after massacring even Sunni Muslims."
On Bahrain, Sayyed Nasrallah says that the opposition expressed its readiness to reach a political solution with the regime, but Saudi Arabia rejected all the regional mediations to end the crisis, insisting instead, on ending the peaceful revolution.
On Yemen: "The relation between Hezbollah and the Yemen's Ansarullah is political, not military," Sayyed Nasrallah says, "The party and Iran were not involved in the recent developments in Yemen."
"What happened in Yemen is related exclusively to Ansarullah and its people; Hezbollah and Iran did not contribute to the recent developments in that country."
Hezbollah's Sec Gen considers that a plot was set to subdue Ansarullah, which suffered the threat of elimination, so the group reacted.
Welcoming Egypt's return to play its strategic role in the region, Sayyed Nasrallah stresses that Hezbollah supports any Egyptian initiative to end the Syrian crises.
"Hezbollah tried to communicate with the Muslim Brotherhood who always refrained from following this path and even blocked Iranian initiatives to promote mutual relations during Mursi's reign."
Sayyed Nasrallah says Iran enjoys prosperous conditions in spite of Western pressure, adding that those countries trying to challenge the Islamic Republic through the nuclear file, will collapse and that Iran will emerge victorious.
Domestically, Sayyed Nasrallah says:
"Hezbollah supports any dialogue among Lebanese political factions to settle the complicated issues, including presidential elections, despite the attempts of 'hawks' to frustrate this trend in the country."
Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah ends by saying that the resistance, socially, supports its strategic decisions, including the intervention in Syria.
Bahraini protest rages as another opposition leader arrested
Crowds of protesters took to the streets in the capital, Manama, Thursday, calling on the monarchy to release Sheikh Ali Salman, leader of Al-Wefaq opposition party, and expressing outrage over the arrest of his close ally, Jameel Kadhim.
Kadhim was arrested outside Al-Wefaq HQ in Manama and imprisoned on Wednesday.
In a press briefing prior to his arrest, Kadhim told his followers to continue a “peaceful and civilized movement until victory” is reached, promising to continue his fight in prison.
Al-Wefaq issued a statement condemning his arrest as “security & judicial tools to punish opponents.”
Sayed Yousif al-Muhafda of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights says change will never come as long as the ruling family cracks down on the opposition.
“The government, they don't want any dialogue at all. For the last two to three years they are just lying to the international community that there is progress, there is dialogue, but this is the reality: people who should be in the dialogue are in gaol right now,” Al- Muhafda states.
As a member of Bahrain's majority Shi ite opposition group, Kadhim was sentenced to six months for alleging election bribery on his Twitter page in October.
Bahrain’s Lower Criminal Court found him guilty of disrupting the elections and ordered him to pay a 500 Bahraini dinar ($1,300) fine in addition to serving his jail sentence.
Kadhim’s lawyer, Abdullah Al Shamlawi, says his client will appeal against the conviction at the High Criminal Appeals Court.
His sentencing comes as Al-Wefaq leader, Sheikh Ali Salman, after being arrested on December 28th, still remains in gaol, amid ongoing clashes between protesters and security forces. He also faces a gaol term and is being held pending an investigation into charges of inciting violence.
Bahrain, ruled by King Hamad, was rocked by protests in 2011 by the country’s Shiite Muslim population, calling for freedom in the minority Sunni-ruled country.
Although the government, backed by Saudi Arabia, managed to suppress the protests very quickly, clashes between the security forces and protesters still occur near daily.
Japan approves largest military budget since WWII
Japan’s government has approved its largest military budget in 70 years, in contravention of the country’s pacifist constitution, in a display of force to its highly militarized neighbors. The extra military spending comes amid a stalling economy.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's Cabinet has given the green light to an unprecedented nearly 5 trillion yen ($42 billion) defense budget, which comes into force in April.
The extra military spending mirrors an expanded overall budget, which has reached a record 96.3 trillion yen ($814 billion). The budget still awaits parliament’s approval, where Abe's government coalition has a majority in both houses.
The 2 percent increase in military spending is the third hike during Abe’s rule. Since he took office in December 2012, Abe has ended an 11 year decline in defense spending. In 2002, Tokyo passed its previous highest military budget of 4.96 trillion yen.
“This budget will contribute to achieving both economic recovery and regaining fiscal health together," PM Abe said at a press conference.
In line with plans announced in late 2013, Abe’s Cabinet plans to spend 24.7 trillion yen between 2014 and 2019 on military hardware, including amphibious vehicles, drones, fighter jets and submarines.
Japan’s military purchases consist mainly of US- made military hardware & homemade weaponry.
Tokyo intends to buy six 5th-generation F-35A stealth fighter jets (reportedly for $148 million each), and 5 US-made Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft (which have an estimated price of $68 million each).
Japan’s so-called Self-Defense Force also gets a fleet of US-made Global Hawk drones (est. cost over $100 million a unit), yet this will take place over a five-year period and funds for this won't be taken from out of the 2015 military budget, Japanese officials tell AFP.
The Japanese Defense Ministry’s shopping list also includes 20 Kawasaki P-1 (350 billion yen a unit) national-made maritime patrol aircraft, at 350 billion yen each) which are now in service with the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force.
Tokyo’s increased military expenditure comes amid rising tensions between Japan and China over territorial disputes in the East China Sea.
Abe’s government is struggling to prevent the economy slipping into recession. The country's population is aging & welfare costs are soaring.
In 2014, Japan’s population fell for a third straight year, with the elderly (over 65 years old) making up 25% of the nation. Social security spending in 2015 is expected to account for about one-third of the budget.
The Cabinet is boosting government spending, changing its tax policies and prompting the nation’s senior citizens to spend more on the younger generation.
Abe has previously tried to alter the country’s pacifist constitution and downplay restrictions it imposes on the national armed forces, but has failed to gain the necessary public support.
Instead, his government has reinterpreted the law, saying that it allows the Japanese military to come to the rescue of an ally under attack.
Donetsk republic negotiator to leave for Minsk January 15 for Contact Group talks
The self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic's negotiator for the settlement in eastern Ukraine, Denis Pushilin, leaves for Minsk today (Thurs), to take part in the Contact Group talks.
The Contact Group is expected to gather in the Belarusian capital on January 16th.
The Lugansk People’s Republic negotiator, Vladislav Deinego, says the agenda of the meeting will likely include the four previous issues - the pullout of artillery and rocket systems from the disengagement line in Donbass, the exchange of prisoners, the lifting of the economic blockade on Donbass and the coming into effect of the law on Donbass' special status.
The Minsk Protocol document contains 9 points, including a ban on the use of all armaments and withdrawal of weapons with calibres of over 100 millimetres to a distance of 15 kilometres from the contact line by each side.
The OSCE is controlling implementation of the memorandum's provisions, and its numbers are being boosted.
No Religion Can Justify Violence, Says Pope Francis in Sri Lanka Pope Francis expresses to the leaders of the major religious communities in Sri Lanka, the will of the Catholic Church to work jointly for the prosperity of citizens and the country.
We must demand that our communities, clearly and unequivocally, fully live the principles of peace and coexistence encompassed in every religion, and denounce acts of violence committed, says the Supreme Pontiff, meeting the leaders of all religious denominations on the island.
In Sri Lanka, where 70% are Buddhist, 12% Hindu, 10% Muslim & 7.5% Christian, Francis recalls that "for many years men and women of this country were victims of civil conflicts and violence", and he stresses that what is needed now is "recovery and unity".
Noting that "this is a noble task concerning all", he hopes that interfaith & ecumenical cooperation will prove that nobody has to give up their ethnic or religious identity to live in harmony with others.
"For the sake of peace, it should never be allowed that religious beliefs be used to justify violence and war", stresses the Holy Father.
Before, the Pope held a private meeting with the newly elected Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena, who led the welcoming ceremony at Colombo International Airport, along with the Archbishop of Colombo, Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith.
Because of the time it took him to greet the thousands of people who cheered him outside the airport terminal, and from there downtown, the Head of the Vatican suspended a meeting that had been scheduled for the afternoon, with bishops of the island.
Ecuador Urges Asia-Pacific Forum to Favor Regional Co-operation
Ecuador's Foreign Minister, Ricardo Patiño, yesterday (Tues) asked member countries of the Asia-Pacific Parliamentary Forum, to strengthen regional cooperation as a way to change the current world order.
Cooperation is the main tool to transform the international order, said Patino, in the masterly lecture he gave Tuesday, to 240 delegates, from 17 Pacific basin nations.
According to Patino, one of the similarities between members of the Forum founded in 1993 by exJapanese PM Yasuhiro Nakasone is the need to adapt the world's governing bodiess to Earth's new political, economic and social realities.
In this regard, he reiterated the call to reform the United Nations, particularly its Security Council which, he said, continues operating in a closed, faulty way.
After calling for the ending of the right to veto within the UN Security Council, Patino said the five powers with the right to veto should be replaced by regional blocs: eg the European Union, the African Union and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States --- for the sake of true representation.
According to Patino, the Pacific basin should also play a significant role in the international order, because it represents nearly half the world's population and 57% of world trade.
The Pacific will be the most important economic zone in the world in terms of trade, in the next ten years, said Patino, who referring to regional integration cited the example of achievements made by Celac and the Union of S. American Nations (Unasur).
US Central Command Twitter account apparently hacked by CyberCaliphate
The official Twitter account for the United States Central Command — CENTCOM — appears to have been compromised by a hacker group sympathetic to the organization formerly known as Islamic State.
A series of tweets were sent from the @CENTCOM account on Monday, starting with one warning: “AMERICAN SOLDIERS, WE ARE COMING, WATCH YOUR BACK. ISIS. “
That tweet and messages posted moments after, refer to a group known as CyberCaliphate and links to documents that are purported to be confidential files pilfered from American military computers, including one cache of files containing slideshows that appear to have details about apparent threats in the Caspian, China, North Korea, Africa and Indonesia.
A statement posted on the website Pastebin shared by the compromised CENTCOM account announced:
“US and its satellites kill our brothers in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan: we broke into your networks and personal devices and know everything about you.
You'll see no mercy infidels. ISIS is already here, we are in your PCs, in each military base. With Allah's permission we are in CENTCOM now.
We won't stop! We know everything about you, your wives and children.
US soldiers! We're watching you!”
Soon after, the hacked Twitter account posted a photo appearing to show US military personnel surrounded by computers with the caption: “ISIS is already here, we are in your PCs, in each military base."
Last week, the social media accounts for two television news networks were compromised by persons alleging to belong to Cyber Caliphate — an apparent hacker collective either affiliated or sympathetic to the military group also known as ISIS, or ISIL. It was reported at the time that the US Federal Bureau of Investigation had opened a probe into the matter.
Considering that Congress funds IS, and if IS hacked CentCommand, does this mean that the US government just hacked themselves?
Divisions remain after Ukraine crisis talks, sides may meet again next week
The foreign ministers of Russia, Germany, France, and Ukraine spent three hours behind closed doors discussing the Ukraine crisis on Monday, and may meet again next week if progress is made over the next few days in resolving remaining disagreements.
After the meeting in Berlin on Monday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said the political process to end Ukraine's crisis will only succeed if Kiev treats the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk Republics as equal partners.
"It was stressed that the political process can be a success only when you start direct dialogue, in this case between the representatives of the Ukrainian government and the proclaimed DPR and LPR, and they should feel fully involved in the political process as equal partners," Lavrov said.
After the meeting, the four ministers called on the contact group of Ukraine, Russia, and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) to try to make more progress on implementing a Ukraine peace deal agreed in September, including creating the "relevant conditions for an effective ceasefire,” the joint statement reads.
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said that, while Monday's session was a “very open exchange,” it didn't produce enough results for a meeting of the leaders of Russia, Germany, Ukraine, and France this week, in Kazakhstan.
Steinmeier said that representatives from foreign ministries will continue work to find common ground. The foreign ministers of the Normandy Quartet might also hold another meeting next week if “progress is achieved in the coming days.”
The so-called Normandy Quartet was established in June when Russian, French, German, and Ukrainian leaders met in northern France's Normandy, to talk and find a political solution to the Ukrainian crisis.
Ukraine to participate in 11 NATO war games in 2015
The Ukrainian army will take part in 11 international military drills this year to bolster NATO standards in its troops. Despite an economic crisis, Kiev will still use 5.2 percent of its 2015 budget on the army.
Ukrainian servicemen will appear at seven military drills in Europe, while four maneuvers will be hosted in Ukraine, the assistant Ukrainian defense minister, Viktoria Kushnir, states.
“These exercises are going to finalize a stage of combat training to boost NATO standards in our troops,” Kushnir says.
The largest drills will be the Ukrainian-US Rapid Trident maneuvers for ground troops & Sea Breeze, a naval exercise in Ukraine. A like exercise was held as recently as last September, when NATO sent 700 weapons units and 50 vehicles. The US sent 200 servicemen.
The Naval Trident Juncture exercises will take place outside Ukraine's borders, says Kushnir.
The Ukrainian Navy will also take part in drills, with American warships --- in the Black Sea.
The Ukrainian parliament has to give permission for maneuvers in the country. President Petro Poroshenko is expected to submit a draft to Kiev's parliament to get formal approval for it.
Since September, there have been a number of reports saying NATO member states have begun sending "non-lethal" military aid to Kiev.
There have also been unconfirmed reports of lethal aid being supplied to Ukrainian troops fighting 'operations' against anti-Kiev militias in the east of the country.
In December 2014, President Petro Poroshenko signed a law cancelling the country's non-bloc status and promising to hold a referendum on NATO accession, in the next 5 to 6 years.
The latest news of NATO supplies to Ukraine, came last weekend when a cargo ship with 42 containers, holding allegedly non-lethal military supplies, docked at the Ukrainian port of Odessa, in the Black Sea.
Also, last December, Canada sent a small contingent of its military police to Ukraine to help the coup government and security forces protect Ukraine's 'territorial integrity'.
Ukraine plans another war in southeast - Russian FM Lavrov
Moscow has obtained information about the Ukrainian military preparing another plan to 'solve' the conflict in the southeast militarily, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says.
"There is information, very alarming information, which we are now double-checking, that the security forces are preparing for another stage of the military solution to the problem in the foreseeable future. This would be a disaster," Lavrov says at a press conference after talks with his Latvian counterpart Edgars Rinkevich.
In addition, Lavrov says, Ukraine doesn't deny the fact of declaring a mobilization. "There are different numbers, but from 50,000 to more than 200,000 people need to be mobilized," he says.
According to Sergei Lavrov, Russia will continue demanding that the West should put pressure on the "war party" in Kiev, to rule out a military scenario in eastern Ukraine.
"We, regardless of what happens in Paris, Syria, Libya and elsewhere, will continue to demand from our western partners, whose influence on the Ukrainian leadership is much stronger than anyone else's, that they look into those plans not to let the "war party" in Kiev bring down all those fragile hopes that the Minsk agreements created," Lavrov says.
Serbian PM accuses EU of media campaign to destabilize govt
Serbian prime minister, Aleksandar Vucic, has accused the European Union of organizing a campaign to destabilize his administration by funding anti-government media reports, says Reuters news agency.
His accusation comes after a regional news organization published an article criticizing reconstruction of Tamnava coal mine, which was destroyed by flooding last year.
Earlier, the EU-funded Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN) said that the state- owned power monopoly Elektroprivreda Srbije (EPS) hired an inexperienced local company to work on the reconstruction, allegedly steeply raising costs.
Croatia's opposition conservative wins extremely close runoff vote
Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic wins the runoff election in Croatia, on Russia's borders, with 50.54% of the vote, becoming Croatia’s first female president, the state electoral commission says.
The incumbent centre-left Ivo Josipovic, has now admitted defeat & congratulated Grabar-Kitarovic on victory, after getting 49.46% in Sunday's poll.
So far, 97.8% of votes have been counted, which means that Grabar-Kitarovic has won by about 20,000 votes.
Both candidates promised to fix the country’s troubled economy, which has been stuck in a long-lasting recession.
The new president is a NATO public relations official, and, although Croatia's presidency is largely ceremonial, it gives her control over Croatia's armed forces -- jointly with the Social Democratic PM.
The Social Democrats have a majority in Croatia's parliament, and elections are due at the end of this year, but the right (called 'scum' by the centre-leftists) are pressing fiercely for the vote to be brought forward.
Her victory shows that Croatia, a new member of the European Union (EU), is ideologically highly divided and the citizens expect change to get out of a recession which has lasted six years, driving nationwide unemployment rates to nearly 20 percent, analysts in Zagreb say.
Professor Ivan Rimac of Zagreb University's law department said on Croatian public television network, HTV, that Grabar-Kitarovic won, due to her rhetoric about the unity of Croatia.
"We have had enough of divisions," she said in her campaign, calling for those who voted for Josipovic, to become part of her team & unite so as to help Croatia emerge from its crisis.
She said she would see that Croatia became one of the most developed countries in the EU and the world.
Analysts believe Josipovic's defeat is partly due to the fact that the ruling coalition, which supported Josipovic's candidacy, had failed to reform the huge, inefficient public sector, improve the business climate, or attract EU development funds.
Some view Grabar-Kitarovic's victory, backed by the largest opposition party, the Croatian Democratic Union, as likely to bolster that party's electoral chances.
However, others say Grabar-Kitarovic won the presidential office only with the votes of people who no longer live in the country.
According to election data, Grabar-Kitarovic received 91.11 percent of the vote abroad, while Josipovic won 8.89 percent only.
In countries with the largest Croatian communities, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Germany, Grabar-Kitarovic won 93.80 percent and 94.12 percent of the vote, respectively.
Political observers say her unexpected win, by 20,000 votes, only undermines her authority.
Also, as head of state, she too will be held partly responsible for the poor economy, they say.
US Rejects Possibility of Peace on Korean Peninsula
The USA, on Sunday, has rejected a proposal submitted by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, that might have given a possibility of peace on the Korean Peninsula, the website of the newspaper China Daily, reports.
On Friday, Pyongyang proposed canceling its nuclear tests in exchange for the Pentagon & S. Korea suspending their annual military drills.
That way, a step could have been taken towards peace in a region where tensions escalate every year when the United States and S. Korea carry out military maneuvers involving nuclear arms, and North Korea takes preventive measures.
With 28,500 soldiers deployed in the south of the Korean Peninsula, the White House & Seoul carry out military maneuvers that are supposed to be defensive, including landings, bombings and shootings, plus mobilizing atomic weapons.
According to the spokesperson for the US State Department, Jen Psaki, the annual joint drills & Pyongyang's nuclear tests, are "different things".
Psaki says instead, that the DPRK's proposal is an implicit threat, although in fact, since the time of General Douglas MCarthur, the north of the Korean Peninsula has been in danger of being bombed like Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
The Korean War (1950-53) has not concluded officially, as it ended with an armistice, but not with any signed formal ending.
INCREDIBLE CLUE FOUND
The three prime suspects involved in terror in France, are 'identified after one leaves their ID card in the abandoned getaway car', reports the West's media on Sunday.
Ukrainian PM Arseny Yatsenyuk blames Soviet Union for invading Germany
Moscow has requested an explanation for the official position of Berlin regarding the remarks by Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk, of "Russia's invasion of Germany and Ukraine," First Deputy Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Titov says, TASS reports.
On Thursday, January 8th, Arseny Yatsenyuk, when visiting Germany, gave an interview to German TV channel ARD, in which he said:
"Germany and the German Chancellor personally have done a lot to restore peace in Ukraine. To guarantee stability not only in Ukraine, but also in the whole of Europe." The current "Russian aggression in Ukraine is an attack on the world order and the order in Europe." He continued...
"We still remember well, the Soviet invasion of Ukraine and Germany. It should be avoided."
Friday, January 9, Yatsenyuk's spokesperson, Olga Lappo, explained the words by the prime minister. According to her, he meant the post- war division of Germany...
"Arseny Yatsenyuk meant the division of Germany by the Soviet Union after World War II. A wall was built to divide Berlin --- to exclude the movement of Germans from the east to the western part of the city," said Lappo.
Several Russian politicians have reacted to Yatsenyuk's words. For example, the head of the State Duma Committee for Foreign Affairs, Alexei Pushkov, wrote on his Twitter page... "Yatsenyuk has finally gone mad."
The head of the same committee of the upper house of the Russian parliament, Konstantin Kosachev, said that the remarks by the Prime Minister of Ukraine are a shameful excuse for Hitlerism and an insult to the memory of heroes.
In Germany, the online version of Spiegel magazine wrote satirically: "Indeed, since 1942, Soviet troops had been moving relentlessly to the West and were not afraid to pursue the army of the democratically elected chancellor, Adolf Hitler, even onto Ukrainian territory. (...) Finally, the Soviets transgressed the eastern border of Germany & invaded its territory, as we all remember, together with Mr. Yatsenyuk."
Foreign ministers to meet over Ukraine in Berlin
The foreign ministers of Germany, France, Russia and Ukraine will meet in Berlin, Monday, to discuss the Ukraine crisis, says Germany's Foreign Ministry.
"The Minsk agreement must remain the compass for all further steps," German Foreign Minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, says. "But there's still a long and bumpy road, before the agreement is fully implemented."
The minister says he and his counterparts want to "make another attempt to overcome obstacles Monday," aiming to make political compromises possible, which could help ease the tensions in eastern Ukraine.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has invited the leaders of Russia, France & Germany to talks over the Ukraine crisis in Kazakhstan's capital Astana, on January the 15th.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has left it open as to whether the four-way summit will take place next week. During a press conference with visiting Ukrainian Prime Minister, Arseny Yatsenyuk, on Thursday, Merkel said foreign ministers of the four countries were still in the preparatory phases for a possible meeting.
UK Spy Chief Warns: Militants Planning Mass Casualty Attacks against West
The head of Britain's domestic spy agency MI5, warns that militant Islamists in Syria are planning "mass casualty attacks" in the West -- and the intelligence services may be powerless to stop them.
"We know a group of core al-Qaeda terrorists in Syria, is planning mass casualty attacks against the West," he tells media in London.
"Although we and our partners try our utmost, we know we can't hope to stop everything," he adds.
Parker says that fighters returning to the West from Syria, are in danger of bringing with them a "twisted ideology", that could lead them to attack famous landmarks "at home".
Although the Takfiri group operating in Iraq and Syria, ISIL, presents the most obvious threat, fighters aligned with the core of al-Qaeda, are also a danger.
"We still face more complex, ambitious plots, following the now (sadly) well-established approach of al-Qaeda and its imitators ---- attempts to cause large-scale loss of life, often by attacking transport systems or iconic targets," he says.
The MI5 director general says the attack on the French satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo, which took place earlier on Wednesday, is a "terrible reminder" of the threat to Western nations, revealing that MI5 has helped stop three terror plots "in recent months alone".
Parker is now calling for wider powers to identify and monitor suspects, after the backlash against the security services, when the extent of their snooping was exposed by Edward Snowden, a former National Security Agency contractor.
Ayatollah Khamenei: Intelligence Agencies behind Divisive Plots against Muslims
Leader of the Islamic Revolution, Ayatollah Sayyed Ali Khamenei, says that "enemy intelligence agencies" are behind most of the divisive plots hatched against Muslims.
“The hands that sow discord among Shias & Sunnis, are linked to the spy services of the enemies of Islam,” says the Leader, talking to delegates at the Islamic Unity Conference now on, in the Iranian capital, Tehran.
Ayatollah Khamenei notes that the Western- style leanings alleged to be Islamic, in fact, run counter to Islam.
“Neither the (so-called) Shia Muslims allied with the British MI6 are Shias, nor the (so- called) Sunni mercenaries of the American CIA are Sunnis, as they are both anti-Islamic (mercenaries),” adds Ayatollah Khamenei.
Ayatollah Khamenei then notes that certain Middle East states which pursue a hostile approach regarding Iran, have set foot on the wrong path.
“Some regional governments have based their foreign policy on enmity toward Iran; this is a big mistake and runs counter to common sense and wisdom,” he notes.
“Establishing and maintaining friendly ties with Muslim, neighboring and regional states, is a paramount priority for Iran's foreign policy,” his eminence says.
The Leader, focusing on the Arbain march of this year, says it was an amazing event, that the enemies of Islam and the Infallible Household of the Prophet (S) had assumed had been blocked for good.
Ayatollah Khamenei says he appreciates the Iraqi government, nation and tribes' selfless services provided to the Arabin mourners this year.
Japan textbook publisher to erase depictions of "comfort women"
A textbook publisher in Tokyo has got government permission to delete depictions of "comfort women" and all references to foreign workers forced to go to Japan in all its civics textbooks for senior high school, local media report.
According to Japan's Kyodo News Agency, the publisher Suken Shuppan, made a request to the Ministry of Education in November last year and got approval from them recently, to erase such references in three social study textbooks -- two on modern social studies and another on politics and economics.
A separate report by the Yomiuri Shimbun says that textbooks to be used from April have about a 1.8% to 8.7% market share. Suken Shuppan does not publish history textbooks.
In January 2014, the education ministry revised its textbook-screening standards for social studies, asking publishers to state the government's official views or the Japanese Supreme Court's decisions, in "contentious" cases.
Later in August, Japan's Asahi Shimbun published a "clarified report" saying it will retract all stories dated decades ago, that quote Seiji Yoshida, the Japanese man who claimed he kidnapped about 200 Korean women and forced them to work in Japanese military brothels in wartime.
Some conservative politicians & right-wingers took the opportunity to deny that any "comfort women" ever existed, and launched an offensive against the Kono Statement, in which the then Chief Cabinet Secretary, Yoheo Kono, admitted that Japan's army was involved in recruiting women " through coercion."
When asked why it has chosen to cut these references, Suken Shuppan refused to make any comment, saying they could not answer "at this point".
Public Committees in Nubbul & Al-Zahraa Frustrate Nusra Front's Fiercest Attacks
The public committees in Nubbul and Al-Zahraa in Aleppo's northern countryside encountered a full attack launched by Nusra Front terrorists on the southern & eastern axes of both towns, inflicting heavy human and material losses.
The public committees killed scores of Nusra Front terrorists, captured one of their tanks, and destroyed a number of military vehicles, also including tanks.
60,000 Foreigners Fighting in Syria
Over 60,000 foreigners, of which 40,000 are Arabs, now comprise the armed groups fighting the Syrian government, denounces Bouzeina Shaaban, political advisor to the Presidency.
Although it's difficult to predict the duration of the conflict, which is approaching its 4th year, the worst is over, the official says, in an interview with Al Majadeen TV station.
The international community has begun to alter their perception of the war imposed on our country & understand the position of the Syrian government, she says.
Shaaban says that those who destroy factories, schools & markets, cannot be legitimately called "the opposition".
Over the next few days, contacts in Moscow with opponents to relaunch a dialogue, underline the importance of talks... and their hoped for results.
Americans are confused and waiting for Russia's position at the meeting, before they announce a US position on this dialogue, she says.
Washington could join the talks - if they were capable of serving its interests, Shaaban warns.
She reveals that the US authorities notify Damascus in advance, of the places they are about to bomb in Syria, as part of the air offensive against the Islamic State.
The counselor also denounces support given to irregular bands in Syria, by the governments of Saudi Arabia, Qatar & Turkey.
She accuses Ankara of trying to revive the Ottoman Empire and estimated that Syria's neighboring country stole millions of dollars in profits from the looting of Syria's cultural heritage, and from the transfer of numerous factories into its territory, sold to Turkey by armed gangs at laughable prices.
Iran deploys ‘real Iron Dome’
Iran says it's activated its own “real Iron Dome” missile defense system, which makes the air- space above Iran the safest in the Middle East.
“Today Iran's Air Defense System has given our country an Iron Dome in its real sense, and Iran's airspace is now the safest in the region," says Mohammad Hassan Aboutorabifard, vice speaker of parliament, as quoted by Fars news agency.
Aboutorabifard dubs Iran's system a “real Iron Dome,” in reference to the joint US-Israeli Iron Dome missile shield which protects the Jewish state from missiles fired by Hamas fighters.
The vice speaker stresses that Iran's air defense system has “the highest deterrence power in the region.”
He tells of an unnamed US military official who, says Aboutorabifard, acknowledges Iran's high defensive abilities, saying Iran has tied up the US military's capabilities in the Middle East.
Iran first announced plans to create a mid-range and long-range national missile defense system back in August 2014.
The lieutenant commander of Iran’s Khatam ol-Anbia air defense base, Brigadier General Alireza Sabahifard, says Iran’s anti-missile system is fully prepared to deal with any foreign threat.
"Iran's Air Defense and missile capabilities progress in proportion to the possible threats," Sabahifard states.
On Sunday, Fars reported that Iran has now developed “the world’s first missile evading drone.”
Its creator says it “can escape thermal and air-to-air missiles and no missile can approach it any closer than 250 meters."
On Monday, an Iranian military commander reported the successful testing of 3 suicide drones, which “were a type of cruise missiles and were fully manufactured by Iran's experts."
On Wednesday, Iranian Air Force spokesperson General Hossein Chitforoush announced that Iran has begun mass production of its home- made Saeqeh fighter.
Just before the new year, a Iranian scientist said he has invented a state-of-the-art radar tracker, capable of detecting drugs, people, and explosives.
Iran now publishes more scientific papers than most countries.
UNHCR Reports: Record Number of Refugees Since WWII
A new record for the number of internal and external displaced in the first term of 2014, of 56.70 million, is announced today by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UN HCR), Antonio Guterres.
These figures, the highest seen since WWII, were prompted by armed conflicts in the Middle East and Africa, among other factors, says Guterres today.
According to a report presented by Guterres, some of the main countries of origin are... Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, the People's Republic of Congo, Myanmar, and Iraq.
The economic, social and human costs of catering for these people are assumed mostly by communities that are poor, too --- precisely those that can afford it the least, denounces the study.
For instance, Lebanon has over one fourth of its population now refugees, mostly Syrians, says the UNHCR official.
He adds that 11% of the population in Jordan are refugees.
The industrialized country with most refugees is Sweden, with 1%, he adds.
According to general figures presented in the report, the nation sheltering the most refugees in late June, 2014, was Pakistan, with 1.60 million, followed by Lebanon with 1.10 million and Iran, with 982,000.
The report urges the international community to intensify solidarity to avoid the risk of an increasing number of vulnerable people who lack adequate support.
The report says that, although the highest number of refugee arrivals is registered in the above-mentioned areas, most asylum requests are made in the US and Europe, led by Germany, with 67,400.
Guterres warns that, unless new political solutions to sustained conflicts are found, and other new conflicts are avoided, we will continue to face extremely dramatic human consequences.
The Fantasy of an Iran-US Partnership: Report by Seyed Mohammad Marandi
Iran remains profoundly skeptical of US intentions & its professed determination to degrade and destroy ISIL.
Western pundits who blithely assert that the Islamic Republic of Iran can or will cooperate with the United States in Iraq against ISIL, ignore a basic problem; how can the US be a serious partner in fighting a terrorist movement that Washington may have played a critical role in creating?
When US Vice-President Joe Biden told an American university audience in October that Turkey, the UAE and Saudi Arabia are responsible for arming al-Nusra, ISIL, and other al-Qaeda-rooted extremists in Syria and that there is no "moderate middle" in the country, there was (as most non- Americans expected) little coverage of this stunning admission in the US mainstream media.
Indeed, what coverage there was, focused on Biden's subsequent apologies to Turkish, Emirati, and Saudi leaders for having made such comments in the first place.
Predictably, there was no follow-up reporting in the New York Times reminding Americans that the US is itself complicit in funding and arming extremists in Syria.
In early 2013, the newspaper reported what many in the region already knew; that since the beginning of 2012, the CIA had been deeply involved in procuring weapons for anti-Assad forces, airlifting arms to Jordanian and Turkish airports, and "vetting" rebel commanders - all to help US allies "support the lethal side of the civil war". Other reports pointed out that these shipments were actually paid for by US allies, at the bidding of the Obama administration.
But, after the Biden revelation, the so-called "newspaper of record" made no reference to how the US, in violation of international law, helped to facilitate the Syrian civil war - and, in the process, to enable the rise of ISIL.
Western-backed extremism is neither a new nor regionally-bound concept. Whether it is the "Contra" rebels in Nicaragua or al-Qaeda- like groups in Afghanistan, the objective has always been to achieve strategic objectives through the infliction of mass suffering - for, in the "free and civilised world" of the US and its allies, the utopian end too often justifies the Mephistophelean means.
More recently, an important footnote to the Libyan civil war was the involvement of Abdul Hakim Belhaj, previously the leader of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group as well as an al-Qaeda member.
He was one of many Libyan militants influenced by a takfiri (apostate) ideology; the groups with which he was affiliated were designated as terrorist organisations by the US State Dept.
Nevertheless, he, along with other like-minded militants, became central components in the efforts of western and Arab-backed anti-Gaddafi forces to capture Tripoli, the Libyan capital.
Western willingness to cooperate with al-Qaeda (or "former" al-Qaeda) militants in Libya was a major turning point. Even the subsequent death of the US ambassador to Libya did not change US policy in this regard. Belhaj became the representative of Libya's interim president after Gaddafi's overthrow (before complete ruination of the country).
More importantly, the willingness of the US and European and "Middle Eastern" allies to embrace al-Qaeda-like militants took US and western foreign policy in the region back to what it had been before the September 11, 2001 attacks - a policy of cooperation with violent extremists to undermine regional actors the West considers problematic.
This policy quickly expanded from Libya to Syria and the repercussions are being felt today, in states like Pakistan, Nigeria, Australia & China.
After Gaddafi's overthrow, Turkey - a NATO member - allegedly helped Belhaj to meet with leaders of the so-called "Free Syrian Army" in Istanbul and along the Syrian-Turkish border. In the meetings the former al-Qaeda leader discussed supporting the FSA with money, weapons, and fighters, at a time when the CIA was a major conduit for the transfer of weapons from Libya to Syria.
While Belhaj was just one of many al-Qaeda affiliates involved in violent anti-government campaigns in both Libya and Syria, his openly acknowledged role underscores how the supposedly "moderate" FSA was, from early on in the Syrian civil war, as Iran repeatedly warned, deeply associated with and infiltrated by, extremists.
Over time, the problem grew so large with ISIL's rise, it became impossible to hide a monster the US and its allies had created. And so, Washington launched yet another chapter in its never-ending post-9/11 "war on terror".
Notwithstanding Washington's professed determination to degrade and, ultimately, to destroy ISIL, Iran remains profoundly skeptical of US intentions.
Even after dramatic gains by ISIL in Iraq and the formation of a US-led coalition of the guilty to fight it, this coalition has, on average, carried out just nine airstrikes per day in both Iraq and Syria.
In comparison, western reports indicate that, in the same period, the Syrian air force alone has at times carried out up to 200 strikes in 36 hours.
Even as the largely inconsequential US-led airstrikes are carried out in Iraq and Syria, some regional players continue to provide extensive logistical support to ISIL; along Syria's borders with Jordan and the Israeli regime, al Nusra Front keeps collaborating with other extremist militias backed by the foreign (including western) powers.
In light of these realities, Iranians - who've been indispensable in preventing the fall of Damascus, Baghdad, Aleppo, and Erbil - simply do not buy the argument that a repentant US is now waging a real war against ISIL, the Nusra Front, and other extremist organisations in Iraq and Syria.
Rather, Iranians see the evidence as pointing to a complex (yet foolish) policy undertaken by Washington and its allies for the purpose of "containing" the Islamic Republic.
What, then, would be the justification - under such circumstances and as Iranian allies are successfully pushing back extremists in Iraq and Syria, for the Islamic Republic to co- operate with the US in Iraq?
No matter how much some may try to tempt it, Iran will not play Faust to America's Mephistopheles.
Maduro Denounces Media Campaign attacking Venezuela's economy. The president of Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro, denounces today the international media lies which try to show Venezuela as an economic failure. The president says that his country has massive potential for growth.
In declarations to the press, after concluding talks with China's president Xi Jinping in the Great Hall of the People, Maduro states that the Revolutionary path his country is on, is the only possible model to reach that growth.
Regarding the supposed economic failure, he recalls that Venezuela is blessed with the biggest reserves of oil in the world and the fourth position regarding gas, and 'has the capacity to guarantee the functioning of the economy and society'.
The head of state adds that Venezuela plans an economic change which will continue the precepts of the Bolivarian Revolution, and 'not with the neoliberal model that is now destroying Europe and once destroyed all Latin America'.
On the decline of oil prices, Maduro says that Venezuela will keep on defending a just price for crude oil.
Maduro, who flew into Beijing after a stop- over in Moscow, is beginning a tour of the member countries of Opec. He says his long trip is tackling economic, financial, technological, educational and energy, issues.
Venezuelan sources say he has already signed, on Wednesday, deals with China to strengthen the industrial and tele- communications sector of his country.
For his part, the spokesperson of the Chinese chancellery, Hong Lei, says financial cooperation with Venezuela is advancing without difficulties, and China understands that the decline of oil prices has had an impact in the economy of this nation.
The Venezuelan president is assisting president Xi today in opening the first ever ministerial meeting of the China- Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (Celac) Forum.
Tony Blair could face war crime charges: MPs
British government ministers say former Prime Minister Tony Blair could face war crime charges when an Iraq war inquiry publishes its findings.
The ministers told the parliament’s House of Lords on Tuesday that, when the so-called Chilcot report into the Iraq war in 2003 is published, Blair could face war crime charges.
The ministers also criticized the 4-year delay in the release of the report. Lord Dykes describes the long wait as “an utter and total disgrace.”
Lord Hurd also condemned the long delay, saying many Britons are waiting anxiously for the report.
“This has dragged on beyond questions of mere negligence and forgivable delay, it is becoming a scandal,” said Hurd, adding, “This isn't some- thing which is of trivial importance, it is some- thing which a large number of people in this country look anxiously to, for truth.”
Government minister William Wallace said if the report isn't published by February's end --- it will be delayed until after the general elections in May, which, the latest opinion polls suggest, the Tories will win, on their promise to hold a referendum on the EU.
The judge-led inquiry into how Blair led Britain into the war in Iraq was ordered by former PM Gordon Brown in 2009 and was expected to publish its findings within 18 months.
Publication of the results is being held up by rows over criticisms of leading figures in the Blair government. In addition, the report is also being delayed due to "negotiations" between the US and UK about what can be revealed from correspondence between Blair & ex US President George W. Bush.
The report is expected to be highly critical of Blair, who is accused of misleading the British public about the reasons for joining the 2003 US-led war on Iraq.
The US and Britain invaded Iraq in violation of international law in 2003 on the pretext of finding weapons of mass destruction (WMD) allegedly stockpiled by former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. But no WMDs were ever discovered in Iraq.
'UK military strategy in Afghanistan completely bonkers’
A former British minister says the UK made terrible mistakes during its military campaign in a province in Afghanistan, describing the British strategy in the war as “completely bonkers” at times.
Kim Howells, who was a Foreign Office minister with responsibility for Afghanistan at the time of the UK campaign in the Asian country, made the remarks on Tuesday during a session of the defense committee, which is conducting an investigation into Whitehall’s failed decision- making during the Afghanistan campaign.
Howells said the decision to deploy troops to fight in the southern Afghan province of Helmand in 2006 was made on “badly flawed” intelligence.
According to Howells, he was given such poor- quality information before the deployment of British soldiers to the province that, on one trip, he was forced to ask for transport there on an Afghan helicopter, to see things for himself.
British politicians had reportedly been far too reluctant to query any advice by the military, and the decision to deploy forces to Helmand was made at the highest levels of government with little or no consultation.
The US, UK, and their allies invaded Afghanistan on October 7, 2001, as part of their so-called war on terror. Although the offensive removed the Taliban from power, insecurity continues to rise across the country.
In October, Britain handed over Camp Bastion in Helmand to Afghan forces, ending the UK’s campaign in the region. But some US-led 12,500 troops are to remain in 2015, for what they call "training & support" for the Afghan's army and police.
Over 450 British servicemen have been killed during the 13-year military campaign.
Turkey, US, to sign deal to train Syrian rebels
Turkey and the United States are expected to sign a deal this month to train & equip Syrian opposition fighters, a foreign ministry official says.
The training and equipping program is expected to begin in March simultaneously in Jordan and Saudi Arabia, according to the official.
"A memorandum of understanding is expected to be signed this month," the official notes.
The program aims to train a total of 15,000 Syrian opposition fighters over three years, the official says, adding that 5,000 of them will be trained at a military base in the central Turkish city of Kirsehir.
A committee of Turkish and US officials will decide on which Syrian opposition fighters to be trained, says the official.
The IS militants have seized large swathes of territory in Syria. Ankara and Washington have been in negotiation on how to respond to the crisis in Syria.
Turkey is reluctant to take robust measures and declined to be a fully-fledged part of the anti-IS coalition unless Washington agrees to adopt an "integrated strategy" that includes the removal of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad from power.
Meanwhile, Washington is pressing Ankara for the use of Incirlik airbase in Adana province in southern Turkey for the operational needs of "coalition" members. The US government also says the priority is not Assad, but the militant threat from the IS.
Turkey, once Assad ally, is now the fiercest opponent of the Assad regime, and has been aiding those trying to topple him since 2011.
Iran marks 40-km red zone inside Iraq to stop IS: commander
Iran has marked a 40-km red zone into the Iraqi border to thwart any infiltration attempt into its soil by the Islamic State (IS) group, an Iranian army commander said on Tuesday.
The Iranian army has warned IS militants against any movement towards the Iranian border since the "terrorist" group entered Iraq, Brigadier General Ahmad-Reza Pourdastan, commander of the Iranian army's ground forces, Press TV quotes him saying.
"When IS Takfiri terrorists penetrated western Iraq and were close to the Iranian borders, the ground forces were fully ready to annihilate them," the commander says.
"We marked a red line of 40 kilometers into Iraqi soil and warned that they will face Iran's harsh response if they cross the line," he says.
Pourdastan says the Iranian army is fully familiar with the tactics used by the terrorists & closely monitors their movements inside Iraq.
Local media report this week that Iran's border police arrested three people with explosives as they tried to cross Iran's northwestern border to join IS fights in Iraq.
US warplanes strike oil pipeline in Syria: Pentagon
The US military says US and 'coalition' warplanes have struck a crude oil pipeline and collection depots in Syria held by the ISIL terrorist group.
A statement issued by the US military says the coalition jets conducted 14 airstrikes near the eastern city of Deir ez-Zor on Sunday morning, including six raids on five crude oil collection points, a pipeline, armored vehicles and a shipping container.
Since late September, the US and some of its Arab allies have been carrying out "airstrikes against ISIL" in Syria,with no authorization from Damascus and no UN mandate.
US warplanes have been conducting strikes against ISIL in Iraq since early August. Some other Western states have also participated in some of the strikes in Iraq.
The US-led coalition has done little to stop ISIL's gains in parts of Syria and west Iraq.
Some analysts criticize the aerial military campaign in Syria, saying the strikes are meant to destroy Syria's infrastructure.
Alan Sabrosky, a US Marine Corps veteran, says the US’ airstrikes in Syria often target militants with “no military value” and are actually aimed at Syria’s infrastructure.
Sabrosky, a US Army War College graduate, says that Washington intends to inflict “such damage to the economic and industrial infrastructure within Syria, that any Syrian government after the fighting will be so weakened, that it will be vulnerable to further attacks.”
The ISIL terrorists, who were initially trained by the CIA in Jordan, in 2012, to destabilize the Syrian government, control large parts of Syria's northern territory. ISIL sent its fighters into Iraq in June, quickly seizing several parts of Iraq.
Ukraine continues to equip army despite ongoing peace talks
The Ukrainian president says Kiev aims to further equip its army in a bid to clinch a decisive victory against anti-US coup forces, despite the ongoing peace talks in Berlin.
"I am convinced that 2015 will be the year of our victory. To achieve it, we need a strong, patriotic and well-equipped army," says Petro Poroshenko after he delivered armored personnel carriers, howitzers and fighter jets to the Ukrainian army in the western city of Zhytomyr, on Monday.
The provocative arms delivery to the Ukrainian military comes despite peace talks among the representatives of Kiev, Russia, France and Germany, which started in Berlin on Monday.
The Berlin talks come ahead of a crucial meeting of Ukrainian, Russian, German and French heads of state, on January 15 in the Kazakh capital city of Astana. The meeting aims at finding a solution to the deadly conflict in eastern Ukraine, which has claimed the lives of 4,700 people so far.
Hamas opposed to Abbas’ resubmission of UN bid
Palestinian resistance movement Hamas has criticized Mahmoud Abbas’ plan to resubmit a bid to the UN Security Council on ending the Israeli occupation of their land.
A spokesperson for Hamas says the plan to re-submit a resolution on ending Israel's occupation, would be “political foolishness.”
Sami Abu Zuhri says Hamas is totally opposed to any attempt by the Palestinian Authority to go back to the UNSC.
He describes such a potential move as a “dangerous game”, playing with the fate of the Palestinian nation.
The Palestinian Authority announced on Friday that it had decided to resubmit a draft resolution to the UNSC setting a deadline for reaching a peace deal with Israel on ending the occupation.
Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian national unity government, which includes Hamas, says that he has already discussed the issue with allies & specifically Jordan - the Security Council’s only Arab member.
Earlier on December 30th, the UNSC rejected a draft resolution, which called for recognition of an independent Palestinian state and the ending of the Israeli occupation.
Release of Cuban Heroes Welcomed in New York
Groups of solidarity with Cuba, and social organizations in New York, welcomed the release of the five Cuban counter-terrorist fighters held in US prisons for 16 years, on false charges, at a cultural evening.
The event, held at the head office of the union 1199 SEIU, of the US health sector, concluded in Manhattan, where the rain and freezing cold prevented dozens of people from attending.
Posters saying 'Free the Cuban Five' recalled the struggle to gain the return to Cuba, of Gerardo Hernandez, Ramon Labañino, Antonio Guerrero, Rene Gonzalez and Fernando Gonzalez, who were arrested in 1998, simply for monitoring violent groups based in Miami, which were organizing and executing criminal acts against the Caribbean island.
"Thank you for your solidarity, your support and your everyday struggle for the release of our five heroes", said the Cuban Ambassador to the United Nations, Rodolfo Reyes.
The diplomat highlighted the commitment by many social activists to the cause of these counter-terrorist fighters, whose gaoling and unfair sentences, were rejected by the world.
According to the ambassador, another important objective for his country, is to achieve the lifting of the economic, trade and financial blockade imposed by the US, over 50 years ago.
Representatives of the New Yorker movement of solidarity with Cuba reiterated their promise to champion the end of the unilateral measure, with speeches accompanied by the slogan: "Cuba si, bloqueo no" (Cuba: Yes, Blockade: No).
The cultural evening included emotional moments and tears, as a video showed the arrival in Havana of Hernandez, Labañino & Guerrero, who returned to their country on December 17th, the same day that the US and Cuban Presidents, Barack Obama and Raul Castro, respectively, announced steps to normalize their bilateral relations.
Rene Gonzalez and Fernando Gonzalez had returned to the Caribbean island in May, 2013 and February, 2014, respectively, on fully serving their sentences.
Syria Denounces Saudi Support for Terrorism
Syrian Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs, Faisal Mekdad, today accuses Saudi Arabia of being one of the main countries responsible for the massacres and war unleashed against Syria.
The Saudi killing machine keeps shedding Syrian blood -- without mercy, or moral or religious scruples, denounced the Minister, in an article published in the daily, Al Binaa.
Al Mekdad says the government of that Muslim nation has made a pact with Israel, the main enemy of the Arabs.
According to the Deputy Minister, the main responsibility for all the crimes committed against the Syrian people falls squarely on the shoulders of the Saudi authorities.
He also condemns the support of Turkey, the US, France and the UK, for extremist groups like the Muslim Brotherhood, al Qaeda and the Islamic State.
"History will not forgive the Saudi royal family for financing murderers in Syria", he warns.
Over 200,000 people have died since the conflict began in Syria, in March 2011, and millions forced to leave their homes.
Zionist Settlers in West Bank Upped to 15,000 in 2014
More than 15,000 Zionists moved to Jewish-only settlements located in the occupied West Bank over the course of 2014, a Zionist official boasts.
"Interior Ministry figures, showing that Judea- Samaria [the Jewish name for the West Bank] now has nearly 400,000 Israelis, shows [that] settlement in Judea-Samaria is an irreversible fact," former Yesha Council head, Dani Dayan, says this weekend.
The Yesha Council is an umbrella organization for the municipal councils of all the West Bank Jewish settlements.
According to Dayan, the number of Jewish settlers in the West Bank has grown by 15,000, since 2013.
Some Zionists reportedly prefer living in West Bank settlements over Zionist cities, due to the lower cost of housing and the many privileges granted by the Zionist pro-settlement government.
Many immigrants to the self-proclaimed 'Jewish state' are also said to prefer a settlement life.
The figures given by Dayan did not include those Zionists living on settlements in East Jerusalem, whose numbers are estimated at more than 200,000.
‘Premier of war’: Czech president says Yatsenyuk not seeking peaceful solution for E. Ukraine
Czech President Milos Zeman slams Ukrainian PM Arseny Yatsenyuk, calling him “a prime minister of war”, because he's unwilling to peacefully resolve the civil conflict in the country.
"From the statements by PM Yatsenyuk, I think that he is a ‘prime minister of war’, because he doesn't want a peaceful solution to the crisis [in Ukraine] recommended by the European Commission,” Zeman tells Pravo, a Czech daily newspaper.
Yatsenyuk wants to solve the Ukrainian conflict “by the use of force," adds the Czech leader.
According to Zeman, the current policy of the Kiev authorities has two “faces.” The first is the “face” of the country’s president, Petro Poroshenko, who “may be a man of peace.”
The second “face” is that of PM Yatsenyuk, who has an uncompromising position on the self-defense forces in Eastern Ukraine.
Zeman says he doesn’t believe that the February coup, in which President Viktor Yanukovich was deposed from power, was a democratic revolution at all.
"Maidan was not a democratic revolution, and I believe that Ukraine is in a state of civil war,” he says, in response to what he describes as "poorly informed people" who equate Maidan with Czechoslovakia’s Velvet Revolution in 1989.
In November 2013, initially peaceful protests which started as a reaction to then-President Viktor Yanukovich’s refusal to sign the EU association deal became violent in early 2014.
Kiev’s central Independence Square - Maidan Nezalezhnosty - was turned into a battlefield as Ukrainian protesters clashed with police throughout January and February.
The unrest resulted in a coup that toppled Yanukovich and his government in February.
The Republic of Crimea’s withdrawal from Ukraine was followed by a conflict in the country’s southeast.
According to UN figures, at least 4,317 people have been killed and 9,921 wounded in conflict in eastern Ukraine since April when the Kiev authorities launched a so-called anti-terrorist operation in the region.
Israeli Navy Attacks Fishing Boats in Gaza Strip
A fisherman from the Gaza Strip was badly wounded Saturday when Israeli navy ships fired at civilian boats on the South coast of the Palestinian Strip -- blocked by Tel Aviv for over eight years.
In another incident, Israeli armored troops entered Gaza and destroyed crops, report Hamas sources.
The Gazan fishing boats were attacked with heavy machine guns & artillery, say the same sources, & they identify the victim as Jamal Numan, whose ship was destroyed.
In the temporary ceasefire agreements the Israeli government agreed to a limit of 20 nautical miles, but Tel Aviv's Navy attacked the Gazan fishermen on Saturday, by using an imaginary line drawn two miles away from the mainland.
An Israeli military spokesperson says that the attack happened because his country's Coast Guard ships fired, as the fishermen were approaching the Egyptian coast in "a smuggling operation".
Tensions rose in Gaza in recent weeks after Hamas reported incursions of armored and Israeli troops into the Gazan territory and Tel Aviv media reported rocket fire against the territory of historic Palestine, now occupied by the State of Israel.
Over 5,000 Murders in Guatemala in 2014
Although Latin American countries are now moving towards building fairer societies, their violent past under US control still casts a pall.
In Guatemala, a state controlled by terror on its own population for decades, a total of 5,875 homicides were recorded from January 1st to December 28, 2014 --- an average of 16 crimes daily, according to data from the National Institute of Forensic Sciences (Inacif).
June, July, August & October were the most violent months, in which there were over 500 autopsies for violent crime.
According to Inacif, the number of murders last year, was 6,072.
Public transportation was the most affected, with 101 passengers, 97 drivers & 31 driver assistants killed, says the Public Transport Ombudsman's office of the Human Rights Ombudsman.
Piecemeal World War III may have already begun: Pope
Pope Francis warns us that the summation of conflicts underway in the world, may amount to a "piecemeal" World War III.
"Even today, after the second failure of another world war, perhaps one can speak of a 3rd war, one fought piecemeal, with crimes, massacres, and destruction," he says, during a mass at the Redipuglia memorial, a military cemetery in northern Italy, on Saturday.
"Finding myself here, in this place, near this cemetery, I am able to say only one thing: War is madness," says the Pope, who adds, "War ruins everything, even bonds between brothers. War is irrational; its only plan, is to bring destruction: it seeks to grow by destroying."
He condemns the "plotters of terrorism" for sowing death and destruction.
Francis is and has been, urging an end to conflicts in the Middle East, Ukraine and elsewhere.
US, West Europe largest arms producers in 2013: Report
A recent study by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), shows that the US and Western European countries were the biggest producers of weapons & military hardware in 2013.
According to data released by SIPRI at a press conference in the Belgian capital, Brussels, the weapon manufacturing industry was worth 325 billion euros last year, a figure 45% higher than it was a decade ago.
The study suggests that the US & UK were the biggest suppliers of arms in 2013, with France & Italy also playing a major role in the industry.
“Yes, it is very clear that some of the transactions, especially on the international sales level, make it very difficult to see where the money -- how the money -- is being employed. But again, companies report their sales and then we estimate the real value of the arms sales in this revenue, and we publish it,” SIPRI arms and trade expert, Aude Fleurant, states in an interview.
The independent international institute also says there is corruption and a serious lack of transparency in the global arms industry.
Previous reports say that corruption in the industry is worth 16 billion euros per year, as US and UK weapon manufacturers are supplying arms to countries with records of corruption at governmental level.
Analysts & anti-war campaigners say the US, the UK and France, are also the most morally bankrupt nations --- as far as arms trading is concerned, as they are willing to provide any- one with military hardware, for the right price.
The US and UK have been slammed for supplying arms to Israel's regime, which repeatedly carries out deadly attacks on Palestinians, and to a number of African countries, with extremely poor human rights records.
IS Destroys Mosque in Iraq and Threatens to Demolish Another 10
The fundamentalist Islamic State (IS) has destroyed a historic mosque in the city of Mosul, and threatens to destroy another ten in the next few days, according to a report released today.
According to a report from IS, they blew up a temple in Farouk neighborhood, dating from 1838, claiming that it was built on a cemetery.
The extremists say they also, in the last few hours, evacuated 10 other shrines in Mosul & are about to destroy them with explosives.
Previously, IS destroyed the Catholic Church of the Virgin Mary, the Church of San Jorge, and other sacred sites in the city, which is the second largest in Iraq, and capital of the northwestern state of Nineveh, held by the extremists since June 2014.
On 27 December, after IS threats to destroy holy sites in the cities controlled by them, the Iranian Ayatollah Mohammad Emami Kashani warned that "the slightest insult against Iraqi holy places, will receive a strong response".
Armenia Joins Euro-Asian Economic Union Armenia, on Friday, became the fourth fully- fledged member of the Euro-Asian Economic Union (EEU), the new integration mechanism on post-Soviet territories.
Armenia joins the group of countries in a vast market of goods and services, which includes Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan, and whose foundation treaty came into force on January 1.
Armenia signed the agreement in October, at a working session of the Supreme Council of the EEU in Minsk. Parliaments of the founding states ratified the framework document in the last few months of 2014.
For over a year, Armenian representatives have held 8 rounds of negotiations and consultations on the mechanism & membership requirements, since Sept 3rd, 2013, when Erevan announced its intention to join.
The organisation will strengthen regional integration on the basis of equality and mutual benefits, say experts.
For Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan, Erevan's decision is based on the new format of development within the EEU, which gives predictable relationships and maximum benefits, for all of the member countries.
He considers that the Union has huge potential to strengthen its position on the world's economic map.
De-mining On Ecuador-Peru Border Exceeds Targets Set For 2014
Mine-clearing operations on the Ecuador-Peru border, exceeded the targets set for 2014, as an area of 80, 282 square meters was freed of anti-personnel mines, media report today.
According to Andes agency, citing sources in the Defense Ministry, the target set in the bi-nationalal program was 58,000 sq meters.
In the last 7 years, 5, 279 mines were cleared in an area of 253, 573 square meters, while the goal of both governments until 2017, was to destroy 15, 595 mines.
The explosives were planted at the common border during clashes over border disputes between Ecuador and Peru, in the past.
Quito & Lima signed a peace treaty on Oct 26, 1998, and, after President Correa was elected in January 2007, the two countries established the binational cabinets, in which joint policies to boost development in the border areas, are formulated.
Ecuador ratified the Ottawa Treaty in April 1999, and that same year created the Demining Centre, which established, & is developing, the National Mine Action Program.
Russia urges Middle East settlement Quartet meeting as soon as possible
Russia regrets that the resolution on Palestine was not approved by the UN Security Council, due to the position of the US and a few others and urges as soon as possible a meeting of the "Quartet" of international mediators to discuss the Middle East settlement situation, Russia's Foreign Ministry states.
“On December 30, the UN Security Council held a vote on the draft resolution on the Middle East settlement submitted by Jordan’s delegation at the Palestinian's request,” the ministry says.
“The resolution is based on the generally recognized international legal framework for a Middle East settlement, including the relevant UN Security Council resolutions, and the Arab Peace Initiative.
“It provides for a lasting and comprehensive solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, including the creation of a geographically contiguous and viable Palestinian state living side by side in peace and security with Israel.”
“The Russian Federation, along with the majority of other delegations voted in favour of this resolution,” Russia's Foreign Ministry says.
“However, due to the position taken by the United States and a number of other delegations, the document failed to receive the required nine votes “for.”
“The fact that the resolution wasn't approved cannot but cause regret. Especially disturbing is the fact that it happened against the back- ground of a serious degradation of the Middle East peace process, and an aggravation of contradictions between the sides.”
“Today it is more than ever before necessary to prevent the Israelis and Palestinians from aggravating the situation, and to make them take reciprocal steps aimed at the creation of conditions favourable for the peace process re-launch.
“Russia continues to support the intensification of collective efforts in the Middle East settlement and in this connection urges the calling as soon as possible, of a ministers meeting of the ‘Quartet’ of international mediators to discuss the situation & work out optimal solutions to this long-running conflict,” the ministry states.
Israeli Troops Violate Lebanon's Border
Israeli forces have again violated the borders between the occupied Palestinian territories and Lebanon, in a new flagrant violation of the country's sovereignty, states NNA news.
The attack violates UN Security Council resolution 1701, which put an end to the Israel war against Lebanon in 2006.
According to NNA, Israeli soldiers crossed the Blue Line, which is a border demarcation between Israel and Lebanon determined by the UN in 2000, after Tel Aviv regime with- drew its troops from a twentytwo year long occupation of this Arab State's territory.
The on-line Daily Star says 15+ Israeli troops & a Merkava tank crossed the Blue Line into Al Wazan village, southern region, on Tuesday, driving 250 mtrs to reach the Lebanese village.
Israeli soldiers took battle positions in front of the Lebanese border side while a soldier shot videos with a camera, adds the Daily Star.
Sources say this border violation also involved extensive flights by Israeli jets.
Lebanon's Government, Hezbolla Party, and the UN Interim Force, all condemn these illegal Israeli incursions.
Kiev 'Nationalists' Attack Russian Journalists
Ukrainian ultra-nationalists marching in down- town Kiev on the birthday of Ukrainian fascist leader, Stepan Bandera, attacked a reporter and cameraman from LifeNews on Thursday, Russian TV reports.
Less than 2% of reported cases of violence against journalists in Ukraine reach a court.
“LifeNews TV channel correspondent Zhanna Karpenko and her cameraman were attacked during a torchlight procession in Kiev.
“Unknown assailants pushed the journalist, which caused her to fall and hit her head. A telephone was also stolen from her. Besides, hooligans took a TV camera from the cameraman and broke it,” the TV channel states.
LifeNews says this occurred immediately after Karpenko went on air. Before that, the marchers did not display any interest in her, and the demonstration was without incident.
The journalists say the attack happened in front of Kiev police officers. “But the officers didn't even try to stop the violence used on the Russian journalists,” the TV channel says.
There has been no comment from the police.
Early on Thursday, 1,000+ supporters of extreme-right organizations organized a torchlit procession along Kiev's streets.
The march ended at Independence Square (Maidan - the symbol of Ukrainian protests), where the extremists chanted radical and often anti-Russian slogans. Similar actions, involving fewer people, were held today in Dnepropetrovsk and Lvov.
There are different attitudes toward Bandera in modern Ukraine. Stepan Bandera was an ultra-nationalist leader in Western Ukraine in the 20th century, who collaborated with the Nazis during World War II.
In 2010, President Yushchenko awarded Bandera the title of Hero of Ukraine, but in the same year, the Donetsk Administrative Court canceled the ruling, saying that it was illegal.
Yushchenko filed an appeal, but the Donetsk appeals court did not grant it. Over the past year, the Supreme Administrative Court of Ukraine has left the Donetsk courts’ ruling unaltered.
But currently, after the US-directed violent overthrow of the elected President, some fascist sympathisers are key ministers --- including the Minister for the Interior and the current Prime Minister.
Serbia to help ease Ukraine conflict: FM
Serbia says it will use its chairmanship of the Organization for Security & Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) to help de-escalate the crisis in Ukraine.
Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic makes the announcement today, expressing his country’s readiness to be a fair mediator in the crisis in eastern Ukraine.
“The response of the OSCE in such difficult circumstances shows that, when endowed with the necessary political will, it can effectively contribute to addressing the challenges of such crises,” Dacic says.
Serbia has been torn between Kiev and Moscow since the coup began in Ukraine.
The OSCE, Russia & Ukraine are members of a contact group that negotiated with pro-Russia forces in Belarus last month.
Belgrade will hand over the OSCE chair to Germany, on January 1st, in 2016.
The West accuses Russia of instigating Ukraine's crisis, a claim Moscow denies.
'US an enemy':Palestinian official
Palestine is starting an international campaign showing the US as “an enemy,” which pushes Israeli extremists to carry out their aggression and supports Israel in everything it does, Fatah central committee member, Abbas Zaki, says.
Zaki, formerly PLO representative in Lebanon, says that the latest developments in the UNSC are not a failure for Palestinian diplomacy.
“It’s just the persistent unwillingness of the US administration to give the Palestinian people their lawful right of self-determination. It’s a very dangerous precedent,” he says.
“The US administration realizes very well that 138 states support Palestine having UN observer status. The US knows there are many decisions and resolutions of international organizations condemning Israeli crimes and injustice to the Palestinian people,” Zaki says.
He adds: “Regardless of all that, the current US administration still uses its right to veto. In this way, the US wants to tell Palestine not to address the UN, either today, or in the future.’
Zaki describes the US administration’s stance as “unprincipled & unacceptable,” with the US “always making decisions in favor of Israel.”
Comparing the US administration to a “cobra’s head,” Zaki vows retaliation if America does not change its current stance.
“We can’t tolerate anymore the crimes committed against us during the whole ‘peace process’ led by the US. Israel has gone too far, destroying our sacred places, taking our land, killing our citizens. Israel commits crimes and the US can’t stop this in any way,” Zaki says.
However, it’s time for the Palestinian people to be more united, he concludes, as the “civilized world stands on our side, in particular – France, China, Luxembourg and Russia,” and Palestinians are preparing an international campaign of support.
“The whole world should understand that the US is an enemy, pushing Israeli extremists to carry on with their actions, depriving us of our rights, and supporting Israel in everything,” Zaki says.
Israeli forces abduct 1,266 children in 2014
A new report says Israel abducted 1,266 children in the occupied Palestinian territories, in 2014.
According to the Palestine Liberation Organization, 1,266 Palestinian children under 15 years old were abducted by Israeli forces throughout 2014.
“The targeting of children by Israel, especially in occupied Jerusalem, is rising significantly,” says Abdel-Nasser Farawna, the head of the PLO's authority for prisoners' affairs.
“The children testified that they'd been subjected to various forms of torture and deprived of their basic rights,” adds the Palestinian official.
Farawna states that 200 of these children are still in Israeli jails today, and he urges the world community to pressure the occupying regime to release the imprisoned children and protect them from torture.
The Israeli regime is under fire for its violent treatment of children --- in blatant violation of international laws. Tel Aviv frequently arrests Palestinian children without giving any reason for their detention.
According to reports, hundreds of Palestinian prisoners are held in Israeli prisons for a long time without trial, while they aren't provided with even their basic needs, including visits by family members.
Palestinian human rights groups say the number of Palestinians in Israeli administrative detention has reached the highest level since 2008.
Administrative detention is an imprisonment without trial or charge, that "allows" Israel to incarcerate Palestinians for up to six months.
The detention order can then be renewed for indefinite periods of time, and often is.
Chile Assumes Presidency of UN Security Council
Chile assumes today, Presidency Pro Tempore of the United Nations Security Council, with a commitment to make specific contributions, highlights an official source.
In a press release, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Chile points out that, as President this month, the southern nation hopes to foster effective multilateralism.
It recalls that the Security Council, whose primary responsibility is to maintain international peace and security, was chaired by Chile in 1952, 1953, 1961, 1962, 1996, 1997 and 2004.
The Foreign Ministry announces that the will of Chilean representatives at the UN is to continue making contributions to prevent and resolve all crises affecting international peace & security in different regions of the world.
It points out that Chile will be guided by UN principles:- the sovereign equality of states, non-intervention, respect for all international treaties, the promotion of human rights and democracy, and the peaceful settlement of all disputes.
It adds that, during Chile's presidency, 'our country will promote an agenda that would strengthen the action of the United Nations in its three pillars: international peace and security, human rights and development'.
First Woman President of Brazil to Take Over Second Term
The first female President of Brazil in 2010, Dilma Rousseff, has started her 2nd term, promising to continue the socio-economic changes registered over the last 12 years.
Born in 1947 in the city of Belo Horizonte, in Minas Gerais state, Rousseff now begins her 2nd four-year period to lead the country, in a difficult economic situation, with a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) close to zero.
However, the President says her government will take drastic measures to resume the path of development and growth of GDP, but without affecting social gains achieved in recent years.
Her challenges until 2018 included reviving & increasing production, adjusting expenditures, deepening social policies and improving the quality of education and health, as options to reduce inequality in Brazil.
Her re-election last October was supported by four years in office, a period in which new jobs were created, the minimum wage was raised, & millions of dwellings for low-income people were built.
Dilma Vana Rousseff studied Economics at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul. From an early age she was interested in politics and joined the fight against the military dictatorship in the country, which was backed by the USA and ran Brazil from 1964 to 1985.
She was gaoled from 1970 to 1972, and in 1986 was secretary of the Treasury of Porto Alegre, during the administration of Alceu Necklaces.
In 2000, she joined the Workers Party (PT), and became the Minister of Mines and Energy and the head of the Civil House from 2005 to 2010, with President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.
In 2010, she ran for the presidency and won those elections, with the support of nearly 56 million votes.
Her new government is composed of PT members and organizations of the Brazilian Democratic Movement (PMDB), --- the Social Democratic party (PSD), the Progressive party (PP), Republican Social Order (PROS), the Democratic Labour party (PDT), the Republican party (PRB) and the Communist Party of Brazil (PCdoB).
Palestinian statehood bid fails at UN Security Council: US, Australia vote anti
The UN Security Council has failed to adopt an Arab coalition bid calling for the creation of a Palestinian state and an end to Israel's occupation. The US and Australia voted against the move, with 5 abstentions.
The draft resolution gathered only 8 votes in favour and was automatically defeated. The US however, still used its veto power and voted against the resolution. The UK, along with Lithuania, Nigeria, Korea and Rwanda, abstained.
"This resolution sets the stage for more division, not for compromise," said US Ambassador Samantha Power, calling the draft a “staged confrontation.”
“The United kingdom supports much of the content of the draft resolution. It is therefore with deep regret, that we abstained from it,” said the UK's UN ambassador, Mark Lyall Grant.
“We are disappointed that the normal and necessary negotiation did not take place on this occasion.”
Russia’s UN envoy Vitaly Churkin, however, says that Moscow “cannot share the objections of those who believe the draft resolution was undermining prospects for the negotiating process.”
“Unfortunately last year revealed how this process has gone into a blind alley, with its monopolization by the US and their pullback from the Quartet [US, EU, UN and Russia]. We believe this to be a strategic mistake,” said Churkin.
“This draft reflects the just demands of Arab states, including the Palestinian people, and is in accord with the relevant UN resolutions, the ‘land for peace’ principle, the Arab peace initiative and the middle-Eastern peace roadmap, & is also in accord with China’s consistent position.
“We express deep regret over the failure of the draft resolution to be adopted,” says Liu Jieyi, China’s permanent representative to the UN.
An official bid for statehood was submitted to the Council on Tuesday, by a Jordan-led Arab coalition. The bid featured a revised draft resolution of a similar proposal submitted earlier this month. Delegates voted on it on Tuesday afternoon.
The resolution gave 12 months for a “just, lasting & comprehensive peaceful solution” to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which it regards as the creation of a “sovereign & viable” Palestinian state based on 1967's borders, as well as the withdrawal of all Israeli forces from occupied land by 2017.
Its text had already seen several amendments concerning E. Jerusalem as capital of a future state of Palestine, Israeli settlement building, and the Palestinian refugees’ right of return, PLO Executive Committee member, Abu Yousef, tells Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper.
According to the new draft, Jerusalem was seen as the capital of both Israel and Palestine, but E. Jerusalem's role in a Palestinian state wasn't specified.
“International legitimacy is our ceiling on this issue, and we cannot drop below this ceiling,” Yousef says.
“I think there is very little doubt that any resolution in the Security Council that actually creates a Palestinian state or calls for real statehood will be vetoed,” US activist & journalist Phyllis Bennis says.
“I think that there is a big question whether the drafts that are now circulating actually do that. French amendments in particular significantly weaken the idea that this is something that would actually create a Palestinian state.”
“There is no consequence named. The resolution is not taken under either Chapter 6 or Chapter 7, which are the coercive chapters of the UN charter.”
These chapters imply a use of military force and putting pressure against the state, such as sanctions.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said on Tuesday that his administration would "no longer deal" with Israel's regime, if the resolution failed.
"If the Arab-Palestinian initiative submitted to the Security Council to put an end to occupation doesn't pass, we will be forced to take the necessary political and legal decisions," Algeria's APS news agency quotes Abbas as saying.
Palestinian Unity Government Begins Meeting in Gaza
The Palestinian Unity Government has started a meeting on reconstruction to help Gaza, which was devastated by Israeli military aggression in 2014.
The cabinet's official spokesperson says the ministers' visit is aimed at alleviating the suffering of Gaza's people, where 110,000 people are homeless after Israel's indiscriminate bombing in July and August.
According to figures by UN agencies in Gaza, over 2,100 civilians died, mostly women and children, and about 11000 were injured by Tel Aviv's air strikes and artillery fire.
Last October, a world conference of donors for Gaza held in Cairo, promised $5.4 billion, but the funds have not been distributed as agreed. Israeli has said that it will stop all aid from reaching Gaza, anyway.
The ministerial meeting is being held in the absence of PM Rami Hamdallah.
Islamic State, Al Nusra, Clash in Southern Syrian Province
Al Nusra Front, the arm of Al Qaeda in Syria, today announces a war against the Islamic State (IS) in the southern province of Daraa after accusing its members of being foreign mercenaries.
In a video circulated by social networks, the spiritual leader of Al Nusra, Sami al Aridi, calls on his group to fight IS.
"Fighting mercenaries is an Islamic duty, says Aridi in the video.
Talks between both factions have failed. The international community considers them both to be terrorist organizations.
However, Al Nusra's leader in Qalamun, Abu Malik Talli, refuses to join the action.
Al Nusra Front hit at Yarmouk Brigades in Daraa with about 2,000 members this month, after that group swore loyalty to the Islamic State and its self-proclaimed Caliph, Abu Bakr al Baghdadi.
The IS and Al Nusra have been involved in a war since late 2013, with thousands of dead in both groups.
Poroshenko pledges diplomatic efforts for truce in eastern Ukraine
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko vows to seek a peaceful solution to the ongoing conflict in the country's east, after renewed fighting between government forces & anti- government troops killed 17 more on Monday.
Speaking at a press conference, Poroshenko says he'll meet Russian President Vladimir Putin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande on January 15th, in Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan, to discuss ways out of the crisis that has claimed over 4,700 lives since April.
"There is no military solution to this conflict," he says, adding that peace in eastern Ukraine should be established through negotiations, and that Kiev is ready to hold discussions on the issue with its western & eastern partners.
The pledge for diplomacy came after at least 3 government soldiers & 14 anti-government troops were killed earlier in the day in battles near the airport of Donetsk city on Monday, breaking days of relative calm.
Violence has eased significantly in eastern Ukraine since a truce was brokered on Sept. 5th between Kiev and anti-government forces after talks between Russia, Ukraine and the Organization for Security and Cooperation.
Kiev will fully implement the ceasefire deal to achieve long- term stability and a durable truce in eastern regions, the president says.
At the press conference, Poroshenko also signed into law a bill dropping the country's non-aligned status, paving the way for Kiev to seek NATO membership.
Ukraine is unlikely to be accepted as a NATO member, until the confrontation in its eastern territories has stopped, experts say.
To enhance Ukraine's security and defense capabilities, Kiev is to launch a wide-ranging reform of its armed forces, to bring it closer to NATO standards, Poroshenko says.
Ukrainian troops have been fighting anti- government fighters in eastern Donetsk and Lugansk regions for over 8 months, in a conflict where over 4,700 people have died and over 10,000 have been wounded.
Axis of Resistance Turns Tables on US-ISIL Plots in Region, says ’Israel’
Hezbollah has contributed to deactivating a New Middle East plot and has shattered the Israeli direction of developments in the region, the party's Deputy Secretary General stresses.
The resistance has won great achievements in its open encounter with the Zionist-US and takfiri plots.
After Hezbollah liberated the Israeli-occupied Lebanese territories in 2000, Zionist-US plots against the axis of resistance, continued to destabilize various areas in the Middle East.
Occupying Afghanistan & Iraq was the start of a US monstrous attack against the Middle East, before the Zionist-US plotters decided to directly challenge their enemies, and the 2006 war erupted.
Hezbollah, backed by its allies, defeated the Zionist military power in 2006, which pushed the US administration to devise new plans to overcome the resistance.
"Arab Spring" was the nice name given to the US scheme to destabilize the key Arab countries in preparation for striking the axis of resistance --- & Syria was a target.
ISIL (the so-called Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant) and other terrorist groups were established & supported by the US regime and its European and Arab allies.
However, the Syrian army, backed by all its allies, has been challenging the conspiracy and fighting the terrorist groups, inflicting heavy losses upon them.
The Syrian army and its allies have secured several key towns, including the capital. It's now escalating its operations against the terrorist groups in order to eradicate them completely.
Iran, as a basic part of the axis of resistance, has also had to face US military threats and political pressures - aimed at making Tehran accept a humiliating nuclear deal.
But Iran has faced all these challenges, and forced the West to approve Tehran's right to exploit nuclear energy for peaceful ends.
Iran has also retained its military and political support to all resistance factions in the region, benefiting from the huge capabilities of its army - which displayed part of this power in the recent maneuvers, covering 2 million+ square klmtrs.
ISIL was also supported by a number of Arab countries to control Iraq in order to subdue the political will of that country, yet the Iraqi army, backed by all its allies, showed steadfastness in facing this plot and liberated a large number of ISIL-held towns and cities, in preparation for regaining all territory from the terrorist group.
On all fronts, the axis of resistance has been able to kill off the US-ISIL schemes, plus the Israeli wars and aggressions against its different countries.
Israeli intelligence has reported that the Zionist entity now has to encounter real danger within its "borders" --- its way of acknowledging that Hezbollah possesses huge rocket power, with pinpoint missiles, and has gained a frightening amount of military experience after intervening in Syria's war, which exposes the Zionists' north settlements to Hezbollah's threat --- ie, of storming and controlling them.
Israeli intelligence expects that the Palestinian, Syrian and Iranian front may not be quiescent, as its enemies have been accumulating power that seriously threatens its existence.
Abbas: Palestine to present draft resolution for UN bid Monday
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has informed US Secretary of State John Kerry that the Palestinians are to present a draft resolution to the UN Security Council.
The draft resolution calls on the Security Council to support the timetable for a gradual ending of the Israeli military occupation of the Palestinian territories within three years, until 2017.
The resolution also calls for a 1-year direct negotiation with Israel that ends up with a permanent agreement on establishing a Palestinian state on the territories Israel occupied in 1967, with east Jerusalem as its capital.
According to the Palestinian state-run news agency Wafa, Abbas spoke with Kerry by phone and officially informed him that the draft resolution is being presented to the Security Council on Monday.
Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat says he expects the Security Council to convene either on Tuesday or Wednesday, to vote for the Arab-backed draft resolution.
Jordan, a non-permanent Security Council member, will present the Palestinian draft resolution for voting.
The Palestinians are concerned that the resolution may not get the consensus of at least nine council members.
"President Abbas reiterated to Kerry that the Palestinian position of rejecting more settlement building and expansion in the West Bank and Jerusalem is clear," said Wafa's report.
A well-informed official close to Abbas says -- on condition of anonymity -- that Kerry put heavy pressure on Abbas over the phone to postpone the bid until after March elections in Israel.
The official says Kerry hinted there will be economic sanctions imposed on the Palestinians and that the US will veto the draft resolution, even if it gains the nine Security Council votes.
Over 180 ISIL Takfiris killed in Iraqi army operation
A successful anti-ISIL operation by Iraqi forces has left over 180 Takfiri terrorists dead in a key area of Iraq’s central province of Salahuddin.
ISIL Takfiri militants suffered a huge blow on Sunday as Iraqi forces, backed by volunteers, launched a successful offensive in Yathrib, south of Tikrit, Iraq's defense ministry says.
Huge amounts of ammunition and vehicles belonging to terrorists were also destroyed during the operation, the ministry states.
Iraqi news reports that key ISIL figures in Yathrib have begun to flee the city as they failed to resist the army’s huge offensive in the area.
Iraqi armed forces have managed to retake some key areas in the Salahuddin province over the past days.
Early on Sunday, Iraqi troops advanced into Dhuluiyah, north of Baghdad, pushing back ISIL out of the city’s military airport.
The most notable operation came in November when Iraqi forces retook the strategic town of Baiji and its refinery from the terrorists. Iraq's army also managed to liberate key districts in the city of Samarra, in early December.
Iran Warns Foreign Destroyers to Leave Drill Zone
Iran's Navy Commander announces that two transregional destroyers seen recently in two areas of the war games were asked to leave the drill zone, Mehr news agency reports.
Iran's Navy Commander, Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari, states that, in the last few days, 2 destroyers belonging to foreign states appeared in 2 areas of Iran's ongoing war games.
After a warning by Iranian forces, Rear Admiral Sayyari says, the foreign vessels were finally forced to leave the zone.
“We had already warned that no country or party is allowed to be present at the drill region, for security issues,” Iran's Navy commander stresses.
Stating that many countries noted the warning early in the war games, Admiral Sayari says the two destroyers appeared in two different areas of the Mohammad, Messenger of Allah (PBUH) war games and moved out of the area after the warning by the Iranian forces.
The war games began on Thursday and are scheduled to continue until December 30th.
Syrian Army Kills Scores of Terrorists across Country
The Syrian Army hit terrorist organizations hard on Saturday, with units targeting and destroying more dens, vehicles and heavy weaponry, and leaving large numbers of terrorists dead.
Army units killed large numbers of terrorists of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) organization, among them non-Syrians, in Hweijet Sakr, al-Mrei’iyeh, al-Abd, and Mohassan, in Deir Ezzor province.
Cannons and heavy weapons were destroyed.
Other units destroyed seven armored vehicles plus two vehicles equipped with machineguns and eliminated several ISIS terrorists including Ahmad Saleh Abdelmajid in al-Jafra, al-Mrei’iyeh, and Hweijet Sakr.
The army also destroyed five other vehicles, one loaded with weapons and ammo, and eliminated all the terrorists inside them, in the Seven Kilometers Roundabout area.
Units of the armed forces razed terrorists’ gatherings & dens in al-Rastan, Jabbourin, Beit Rabe’a and al-Hilaliyeh Farm in the countryside of Homs (central) province, leaving many terrorists dead or wounded.
Army units destroyed terrorist dens and several of their vehicles - some equipped with heavy machineguns - in Bir Ajam and Mas’hara in the country-side of Quneitra province, killing many of the organizations’ members and wounding others.
Army units carried out a series of operations against terrorists in Jobar area in Damascus countryside, destroying terrorist hideouts and leaving many terrorists dead or injured.
An army unit pursued a terrorist group in al- Bustan neighborhood in Harasta area, killing two terrorists, while another unit eliminated a number of terrorists on the road between Erbin and Madyara, southeast of Harasta.
In Douma area, army units destroyed several terrorist hideouts along with the weapons & ammo inside them, in al-Ebb farms west of Douma city, killing eight terrorists from the “Islam Brigade” organization, in addition to eliminating several terrorists in Hosh al- Dawahra, northeast of Douma.
An army unit destroyed terrorist hideouts, a weapons and ammo cache, and left 15 terrorists dead or injured in al-Rikabiye farms near the town of Deir al-Asafir, in the southern part of Easter Ghouta area.
In Qalamoun, army units destroyed terrorist hideouts near Qara and Ras al-Ma’ara which are near the Lebanese borders, eliminating several terrorists and destroying their vehicles, weapons and ammo.
The town of Daraya also witnessed clashes between army units and terrorist groups, leading to the death of terrorist Abdelsalam al-Jahoush, who was leader of the terrorist group calling itself “the Eagles Brigade.”
In the southwest countryside, an army operation resulted in the death of all members of a terrorist group and the destruction of their weapons, in al- Khazrajiye farms, near Sa’sa’a town.
Army units destroyed vehicles belonging to terrorists in al-Ghariyeh al-Gharbiyeh, Dael and Ibtaa and razed others’ dens in Aqraba, al-Sheikh Miskeen, Bosr al-Harir and Inkhel in the countryside of Daraa province.
Army units destroyed several terrorist dens in al-Hbeit, Abu al-Duhour, Saraqeb, Taftanaz, al-Bara, Shahranaz, Maaret Harmeh & Hzano areas, in the country- side of Idleb.
A military source says that the army units also targeted terrorists’ concentrations in al-Shughur, Umm Jarin, al-Baya’a and near al-Arba’in Mount in Idleb countryside.
Army units killed terrorists and wounded others in Qleib al-Thour, Jurouh, Eqeirbat, al-Khdeira, Kafarzita & al-Latamneh in the countryside of the central province of Hama.
Syria: Ready for Moscow’s Meeting to Agree on Dialogue
Syria's Foreign and Expatriates Ministry stresses Syria’s readiness to participate in Moscow’s consultative meeting as it's keen to meet the Syrians’ aspiration to find a way out of the crisis, a source at the Ministry states.
The source notes in a statement to SANA that there are ongoing talkss between Syria and Russia to hold a preparatory consultative meeting in Moscow, that aims at convening a conference for dialogue among the Syrians, without any foreign interference.
While stressing its keenness to find an exit from the crisis, Syria says it will proceed with fighting terrorism wherever it is on Syrian soil, the source says.
Parallel to that, Syria will be pursuing local reconciliations, “which have proved useful in more than one area,” the source adds.
The Foreign Ministry’s source makes it clear that Syria has always been and still is, ready for dialogue with “whoever believes in Syria’s unity, territorial integrity, sovereignty and independent decision making according to the Syrian people’s will, and in fulfillment of their aspirations for security, stability and halting the bloodshed.”
Israelis demolish Palestinian irrigation pools in WB Israeli regime forces have reportedly demolished irrigation pools used by Palestinian farmers in northern parts of the Jordan Valley in the occupied West Bank.
Israeli bulldozers backed by military vehicles destroyed 6 irrigation pools used by farmers in al-Jiftlik area, Palestinian media outlets report on Saturday.
According to the report, the construction of the pools was being funded by grants from European donors. Local Palestinians state that the pretext for the demolition was an order by the military authorities of the Tel Aviv regime.
The Jordan Valley makes up nearly 30% of the occupied West Bank, while most parts of the region have been designated as Area C, and are thus off-limits to Palestinian construction.
Moreover, Ma’an news agency further cites a Palestinian in Hebron village of al-Burj, identified as Yasser Muhammad Salim Masharqa, as saying that Israeli forces & civil administration officers escorted two bulldozers to the village and demolished his dairy factory.
Israeli bulldozers, the report adds, destroyed the 2000-square-meter steel structure and cement rooms measuring 400 square meters.
According to the report, the factory was near the separation wall, southwest of Hebron (al-Khalil).
The Israeli regime has destroyed at least 359 Palestinian structures in the West Bank in 2014, according to the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions.
UNSC to vote on Palestinian statehood bid by Monday: Erekat
Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat says the UN Security Council will vote on a draft resolution calling for the recognition of the Palestinian state by Monday.
Erekat tells reporters Friday that some revisions were made to the Jordanian-drafted text before sending it to the Security Council. He did not reveal any details of the amendments.
The resolution, approved by the Arab League in September, sets 2016 as the date for a full Israeli withdrawal from Palestinian territories.
The text is also expected to lay out a timeframe for negotiations on a final peace deal between Israelis and Palestinians.
In the past few months, the Palestinian national unity government has been pushing for a UN resolution that sets the borders of a future Palestinian state as based on pre-1967 lines. Israel has expressed anger over the motion.
In 1967, Israel occupied the West Bank, East Jerusalem/al-Quds & the Gaza Strip, but with- drew from the strip & set siege to it, in 2005.
Palestinians seek to create an independent state on the territories of the West Bank, East Jerusalem al-Quds, & the besieged Gaza Strip, and are demanding that Israel withdraw from the occupied Palestinian territories.
In November 2012, the United Nations General Assembly voted to upgrade Palestine’s status at the UN from "non-member observer entity" to a "non-member observer state" despite strong opposition from Israel and the US.
The upgrade allows Palestinians to participate in debates at the UN General Assembly and improve their chances of joining UN agencies and the International Criminal Court, where they could file complaints against Israel.
US-Led Coalition Drops Aid to ISIL in Iraq
The US-led coalition which is allegedly fighting ISIL, the terrorist group operating in Syria and Iraq, on Friday dropped aid to Takfiri militants in an area north of Baghdad.
Iraqi Field sources say coalition airplanes dropped aid to terrorist militants in Balad, in Salahuddin province, north of Baghdad.
Meanwhile, Iraq's army, backed by popular forces, has advanced to southeast of Balad, al-Manar's correspondent reports, noting that the ISIL terrorists retreated from Doloueya region, in Salahuddin province.
Commenting on the move by the international coalition, the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution in Iran, Imam Sayyed Ali Khamenei, says the coalition is a “lie.”
“We have been informed that US air- planes dropped aid for ISIL in Iraq, and this move has been repeated five times.
The US claims it has formed an anti- ISIL coalition, but it is just a lie,” the leader says on Friday.
Deputy Chief of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces Brigadier General Massoud Jazayeri, uncovered earlier that the US had delivered arms and supplied aid to militants of ISIL in Jalawla town, in Diyala.
US atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki 'Nazi crimes': Russia
Speaker of Russia's State Duma, Sergei Naryshkin, says the United States should be investigated for the atomic bombing of two Japanese cities during World War II.
Speaking at a press conference, the Russian official compared the 1945 atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki with “Nazi crimes,” and called them “crimes against humanity.”
“I think that we should discuss this topic together with lawyers and international law experts, because crimes against humanity have no limitation period,” he is quoted as saying, by Itar-Tass.
“As we well know, the bombing of two peaceful Japanese cities could not be explained from a military point of view,” he says. “The atomic bombings... were solely an intimidation demonstration, resulting in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of peaceful residents.”
The remarks are made as relations between Washington and Moscow grow increasingly icy over Ukraine.
Foreign Policy Analyst James Jatras, says imposing more sanctions on Russia could turn a Cold War situation between the two countries into a hot war.
“This really runs the risk that what is increasingly a Cold War between the United States and Russia, could turn into a hot war,” he says.
Meanwhile China is busy building up a fleet of nuclear-armed submarines capable of hitting all major US cities.
Ukraine plans to pull back heavy arms ‘in 48 hours after complete ceasefire’
Kiev will pull back heavy arms from the conflict zone in eastern Ukraine within 48 hours, once a full ceasefire is observed, RIA Novosti quotes Ukraine's General Staff spokesperson, Aleksey Mazepa, as saying on Friday.
This will be “the second phase” in observing the Minsk agreements.
Military officials in Kiev said Thursday that both sides to the conflict will begin the withdrawal of heavy artillery from a separation line on the 26th of December, creating a 30km buffer zone.
Ukraine peace negotiations cancelled in Minsk: Belarus
Belarus announces that new talks between the Kiev government and and the anti-coup forces, in Minsk, on a stable ceasefire in eastern Ukraine, have been scrapped.
“There will be no contact group meeting today,” Belarusian Foreign Ministry spokes- person, Dmitry Mironchik, whose country hosts the peace talks, says on Friday.
The so-called Trilateral Contact Group on Ukraine, also includes negotiators from Russia and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).
The leader of Ukraine’s self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic has warned that the fighting will continue in eastern Ukraine if these peace talks in Belarus fail to bear fruit.
Alexander Zakharchenkov asserted on Thursday that the Kiev authorities were preparing to wreck the negotiations in Mink, and start a full-scale military offensive in the east of Ukraine.
Bahrainis protest Al Khalifa regime’s repression of dissent
People in Bahrain have held a mass anti-government protest rally against the ruling Al Khalifa regime’s continued repression of dissent, Press TV reports.
Bahrainis poured into the streets in the capital, Manama, on Friday, and chanted slogans in condemnation of the sham elections there and the regime’s continued crackdown on political activists.
A prominent Bahraini dissident and human rights activist, Nabeel Rajab, earlier told Press TV that at least 200,000 Bahraini people, or one-third of the country’s population, were expected to turn up for the rally.
He added that the protesters would express their opposition to the government’s policies, discrimination against most of the population, and the systematic torture of prisoners.
They would call for the release of all political prisoners and an end to the monarchy’s repression, Rajab said.
Demonstrators said they would continue protests despite the ruling regime’s heavy- handed crackdown.
Bahrain has been the scene of almost daily protests against the Al Khalifa dynasty since early 2011, when a pro-democracy uprising began in the kingdom.
Since mid-February 2011, thousands of pro- democracy protesters have held numerous rallies in the streets of Bahrain, calling for the Al Khalifa family to relinquish power.
Bahrain has been severely criticized by human rights groups for its harsh crackdown on anti- government protesters, which has claimed the lives of scores of people so far.
On November 29, the Manama regime held a runoff parliamentary vote amid a widespread boycott by the main opposition groups, including al-Wefaq National Islamic Society.
On March 14, 2011, troops from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were deployed to Bahrain to assist the Manama regime in its crackdown on peaceful protesters.
Bahrain was stolen from Iran by Britain, which now intends to build a military base there, to repress further events.
Putin endorses updated version of Russia's military doctrine
President Vladimir Putin has signed a decree "On the Military Doctrine of the Russian Federation," the Kremlin says on its official website.
The changes introduced in the doctrine were endorsed at a meeting of Russia's Security Council on December 19th, 2014.
A report at the Council's official website says the updates concern, in the first place, the emergence of new security threats in north Africa, Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan. It also notes a rise in NATO's offensive potential right on Russia's doorstep.
The report pinpoints NATO's active steps to unfold a global antiballistic missile system.
NATO's increasing military potential is among the key external threats for Russia, says the new wording of the Russian Federation’s Military Doctrine.
The key threats include giving NATO “global functions being implemented in violation of international law norms,” as well as the “military infrastructure of NATO member countries getting closer to Russia's borders, including through further expansion of the bloc.”
The Security Council stresses the consistently defense-orientated character of its doctrine, and Russia's accent on using military force only after exhausting all non-violent measures.
The principles of combat use of Russia's Armed Forces, and especially the use of nuclear weapons, have stayed unchanged, but it now contains the idea of "non-nuclear deterrence," which implies a high degree of combat alert of the general-purpose forces.
Russia's ambassador warns today of the high likelihood of "foreign forces" being sent to Ukraine, & the speed with which NATO can make its decisions.
Israel approves over 350 new settlements in occupied Jerusalem and 250+ in the occupied West Bank
Jerusalem City Council has approved the building of almost 400 new settlements in 2 city districts and its southern part, including annexed areas beyond the 'Green Line'.
Ukraine says power supplies to Crimea resumed after blackout
Ukraine has resumed power supplies to Crimea after a blackout that lasted for several hours, TASS quotes the minister for energy and coal in Kiev, Vladimir Demchishin, as saying.
“We've resumed electric power supplies, but we ask for Crimea to stick to agreements on the amount of electric power used,” he said.
In the case of “excessive electricity usage” supplies will be limited, he says.
Ukraine is in negotiations with Russia over importing electricity, asserts Demchishin.
The Energy Ministry in Kiev earlier said it had temporarily cut off power to Crimea, Wednesday, after the Russian peninsula “failed to curb consumption as required, due to a power crisis” in Ukraine.
A meeting of the contact group on peaceful settlement of the conflict in eastern Ukraine began in Minsk on Wednesday, TASS says.
It's being attended by Russia's Ambassador to Ukraine, Mikhail Zurabov, former Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma, & representatives of the Donetsk & Lugansk People’s Republics, plus the OSCE.
Some participants said it wasn't clear if any documents would be signed afterwards.
Euro-Asian Union Multiplies Forces and Region's Potential The Euro-Asian Economic Union (EEU) multiplies its forces after the incorporation of Armenia and Kirgizstan to the founding troika, just days before the launch of the most ambitious project in the post-Soviet space, due on January 1st.
The entry of members of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) was ratified at the last session of the EEU Supreme Council this year, held on Tuesday in the Kremlin and chaired by President Vladimir Putin.
Armenia will become a full-fledged member a day after the entry into force of the EEU, that is, on January 2nd, Presidential Aide Yuri Ushakov points out.
The founding treaty of the bloc within CIS space was signed by the presidents of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan, on May 29th, in Astanta.
In October, the parliaments of the 3 countries gave a green light to Yerevan's membership in the future common market.
The UEE will soon become a powerful centre of regional growth, with many benefits for its participants, Putin said, at the closing session of the summit of heads of State, which was also attended by the presidents of Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan & Kirgizstan.
The increase in the number of participants, Putin adds, will bring more benefits and will multiply the force & potential of integration.
NATO Praises Mission in Afghanistan, Despite Thousands of Deaths
Despite the nearly 650,000 victims of the conflict in Afghanistan since 2001, NATO praises the results of its 'mission' there.
Jens Stoltenberg, Sec General of NATO, which deployed about 100 personnel there as the Pentagon launched bombs in October 2001, estimates that the block "did the right thing" by invading Afghanistan.
To Stoltenberg, NATO ensured a better future for Afghans, whose authorities installed there, with the consent of the West, has denounced on several occasions, the killing of civilians by drones used by NATO, on their 'mission'.
"We left a strong Afghanistan, where we built an army from zero to 350,000-strong today", says the head of NATO, without taking into account the rise in attacks and violence in general in Afghanistan over the last decade.
For the exit of what's left of its contingent in the Asian state, the Atlantic alliance has had to hold difficult negotiations with Kabul on the status of its group of alleged "advisers" from the start of next year.
The presence of NATO's occupation troops, in an International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, which 'concluded' its mission there this year, has caused fierce resistance from armed groups, particularly the Taliban.
Ukraine’s decision to abandon non-allied status urged by NATO – Russian military
The decision by Ukraine’s parliament to abandon the country’s non-allied status was urged by NATO countries, TASS quotes Russian Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov saying, on Wednesday.
This aggravates the situation - which is already difficult - he says, adding that NATO countries are attempting to turn Ukraine into “a forward line of standoff against Russia.” Moscow will have to take this decision into account, he says.
Ukraine ascension to NATO would end Russia-NATO ties – Moscow
If Ukraine were accepted as a NATO member, it would end any relations between the alliance and Moscow, the Russian Defense Ministry warns.
Kiev has revoked its long-time non-alliance stance and is seeking NATO membership under the post- coup government.
The threat is voiced by Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov on Wednesday, a day after the Ukrainian Verkhovna Rada adopted a law, which allows Ukraine to become part of a military bloc.
“So far the Ukrainian parliament’s decision to abandon its non-alignment status does not threaten Russia’s security. It’s a political decision. But if in the future this decision leads to military aspects, namely joining NATO, we will react accordingly.
Then we will have absolutely all ties with NATO severed, and such a rift would be virtually impossible to mend,” he says.
Antonov repeats Moscow’s concern over the increased NATO presence close to Russia's borders.
The alliance claims that a military boost in Eastern Europe is needed to counter what it perceives as Russia's aggressive stance on the Ukrainian crisis.
Russia sees NATO’s actions as provocative and anti-Russian.
“Our special concern is the continued training of crews from non-nuclear NATO members in piloting nuclear-capable aircraft and the inclusion of new countries like Poland into this process,” Antonov says.
Ukraine seeka NATO membership to receive help in its fight against rebel forces in the east. Kiev says the rebels are a form of Russian aggression, and Ukraine needs NATO’s protection from Moscow.
NATO says that joining it is a sovereign decision by any applying nation and that it will not take Russia’s concerns into consideration when making a decision on such an application.
But Ukraine is unlikely to join the alliance any time soon, NATO Sec General Jens Stoltenberg says, after the new law’s adoption.
Kiev will have to settle its territorial disputes and conduct a thorough overhaul of its military and entire governance system, before having any feasible chance of joining NATO, he says.
Kiev itself estimates that it would take six years for the required reforms to take place. Until then it seeks the role of ‘key NATO ally’.
The alliance this year doubled flights of both tactical and reconnaissance aviation close to Russia’s border, Antonov says.
The Russian military has recorded 3,000 tactical sorties and 480 reconnaissance flights over the Baltic and Barents Seas in 2014.
NATO has also deployed more tanks in Eastern Europe.
US Official in Charge of Closing Guantanamo Prison Resigns
The resignation of the US official in charge of the negotiations to close the prison at Guantanamo naval base, affects President Barack Obama''s project to close the detention centre.
The New York Times recalls today that, since 2002, the White House has kept a detention centre at that military facility, on Cuban territory, against the will of the people and Government of the Caribbean island.
Cliff Sloan, a man trusted by State Secretary John Kerry, according to the Times, has resigned as special envoy of the Government for the transfer of prisoners, out of frustration over the Pentagon's delay in carrying out the proceedings for the approved transfers.
Officials close to Sloan say that just a few prisoners have been freed, but others have been kept as prisoners unnecessarily.
Charles Hagel was responsible as Defense Secretary, but he also resigned recently.
Obama has nominated as his replacement, the former Defense Undersecretary, Ashton B. Carter, who is waiting on confirmation at the Senate, and Hagel continues occupying his post until the senators' decision is made.
Putin Highlights Launch of New Russian Heavy Missile
Russia's President Vladimir Putin says that the successful test launch of a Russian-made Angara-A5 missile is a major development for Russia and its allies in the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), who are meeting in Moscow.
It is a significant event for both Russia and the space industry, says Putin, who participated in a video-conference in the ceremony to launch the heavy missiles from Plesetsk cosmodrome, in northern Russia.
The president adds that the Angara-A5 missile can put any space device into orbit, for both scientific and military ends.
The missile will be used for economic reasons and to strengthen the defensive capacity of Russia and CSTO, Putin stresses.
He notes that this test marks the end of an era of great and serious work, for several years.
The Russian president reaffirms the offering of the National Defense Centre to its CSTO allies and notes that the missile was built using Russian technology only.
I am sure that it will improve coordination between our allies, and benefit from the leading role of the ministry of defense, Putin points out.
China sends first infantry battalion for UN peacekeeping
China's first infantry battalion to South Sudan is set to depart, and it's the country's first infantry to participate in a United Nations peacekeeping mission.
Their dispatch was approved by the Central Military Commission and its chair, Xi Jinping.
Court ruling: Mentally ill people in US can own guns
A three-judge panel rules that being hospitalized for a psychiatric problem is not a good reason to prevent someone from owing a gun.
This new court ruling in the US authorizes anyone with psychiatric problems to own a gun.
The federal ban on gun ownership for anyone judged to be mentally defective or committed to a mental institution, violates rights, rules the panel from the Sixth US Circuit Court of Appeals, sitting in Cincinnati.
The ruling was issued after Clifford Charles Tyler, a 73-year-old man, in Michigan lodged a lawsuit for not being able to buy a gun.
Charles’ request to buy a gun was rejected in 2011 over a stay in a mental institution in 1986.
Many demonstrations have been held in recent years across the US, urging Congress to enact tougher gun ownership laws.
After the 2012 Sandy Hook shooting, US President Obama pushed for gun reforms, including expanded background checks and a ban on high-capacity magazines, but the National Rifle Association of America and its people in Congress, fiercely opposed the measures.
Every year, over 30,000 people are shot and killed in the United States.
The US averages 87 gun deaths each day from gun violence, with an average of 183 injured, reports the University of Chicago Crime Lab and Centre for Disease Control.
Iraqi Army Liberates Base in Tal Afar, Kurds Make their Way into Sinjar
The Iraqi army has reportedly regained control of a military base in the city of Tal Afar, west of Mosul, in Nineveh.
Shia volunteers, Sunni tribes and Kurdish Peshmerga forces backed the army in the operations that led to the liberation of the base from the ISIL’s grip on Sunday.
The Iraqi army and Kurdish forces have made major gains in their battle against the Takfiri militants operating in the area in recent days.
On Friday, the Kurdish fighters regained control of the Tal Afar Mountain from the ISIL militants.
Kurdish forces also made their way into Sinjar in the northwestern part of the country on Sunday, lifting the siege on the town.
The US military claimed 13 air strikes in Iraq and three in Syria had been launched using fighters, bombers and other aircraft.
“Now the fighting is in Sinjar and we've freed most of the city. Last night they (Islamic State militants) tried to attack two or three times, but failed. They left & fled to Jordan & Syria,” says Peshmerga fighter, Kamran Kochar.
Iran’s DM: Missile Range Increases to Face All Possible Threats
Iran’s Defense Minister says the Islamic Republic is the 4th missile power in the world, adding that the range of its missiles has been increased.
“Iran has an acceptable status among countries possessing missile capabilities and stands after the United States, Russia and China,” Brigadier General Hossein Dehqan says in a TV interview.
“In proportion to possible threats against the country, we have endeavored to increase the range of our missiles,” the minister adds.
The country is currently striving to boost the accuracy of the missiles, plus make them radar-evading, he notes.
Dehqan points to efforts by the US and its allies to include the issue of Iran’s missile capability in the nuclear talks between Tehran and the P5+1, and says the talks will only cover nuclear issues.
“What we are discussing with the P5+1 is merely the nuclear issue -- and no other topic has been put, or will be put, on the agenda,” the defense minister says.
He notes that Iran decides about its own missile and defense capabilities and no other entity will be able to impose its will on Iran’s decisions in the missile sector.
Egypt Reopens Border with Gaza for 48 Hours
Egypt's authorities have announced a reopening of the border with Gaza for Sunday and Monday. The crossing has been closed since last October.
According to MENA news, the Rafah border path will be open from 09:00 to 16:00 hours local time.
The borders with Gaza are in the blocked zone created for three months last October. An 11- hour curfew was also imposed on that zone, after fierce attacks against military & police checkpoints, which left 32 dead.
The Islamist Ansar Beit Al Maqdis group, which swore loyalty to Islamic State (IS) shortly after the attacks, has claimed full responsibility for both actions.
The IS occupies zones in Iraq and Syria, and has been introduced into Tunisia and Libya.
Egypt's announcement follows an Israeli air strike near Khan Younis city, in south Gaza, early this morning.
Gaza Strip, controlled by the Islamist Hamas Movement has been under siege by Israel, for 8 years.
Japan and the US Delay Plans to Expand Military Cooperation
Japan and the US have delayed until the middle of the next year, the review of their plans to expand cooperation in the military sector, Japan's Foreign Minister, Fumio Kishida, announces.
This update of the two allies was scheduled for last October, but the statement says that Tokyo needs time to pass new legislation before their next convention.
The statement underlines that the proposal by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to change the current pacifist constitution needs approval by the Japanese parliament.
Abe wants approval for his changes to some sections of the Constitution, which are an impediment to turning Japan's Self- Defense Forces into an army, thus allowing for Japan's participation in the Pentagon's military adventures.
The communique says that both countries have agreed that revisions for the coming pact be concluded by the first half of 2015.
Next April, seats in the Japanese Dieta will be disputed during general elections, but a win for the ruling Liberal Democratic Party is expected, after their election wins earlier this December.
The Prime Minister's group, in coalition with the Komeito Party, managed 326 of the 475 seats at stake, i.e. more than two thirds of the Chamber.
According to a report issued in October, the removal of all existing boundaries in bilateral military cooperation, will be derived from the defense pact of Japan and the United States.
ISIL trafficking body parts to fund terror: Report
The ISIL Takfiri group has resorted to trafficking human organs as a means of funding its terrorist activities, according to a report.
A US-based media website Al-Monitor reported this development earlier in December, quoting Siruwan al-Mosuli, an otolaryngologist.
“He (al-Mosuli) said that lately he noticed unusual movements within the medical facilities in Mosul. Arab and foreign surgeons were hired, but banned from mixing with local doctors,” the website wrote.
“Information then leaked about organ selling. Surgery takes place within a hospital, and organs are quickly transported through networks specialized in trafficking human organs,” it noted.
“Mosuli said that the organs come from fallen fighters who were quickly transported to the hospital, injured people who were abandoned, or individuals who were kidnapped.”
A specialized mafia and overseas medical institutions have been enlisted to enable the trafficking operation.
ISIL terrorists control some parts of Syria and Iraq. They engage in crimes against humanity in the areas under their control.
On Saturday, 100 terrorists trying to quit, were executed en masse, to deter others.
1mn wounded in Syria war, diseases spreading – WHO
A million people have been wounded in Syria’s destabilisation, says the World Health Organization.
WHO’s Syria representative also says that diseases are spreading, as regular supplies of medicine are failing to reach patients, Reuters reports.
A plunge in vaccination rates from 90% before the West's destabilisation to 52% this year, & an increase in contaminated water, have added to the woes, Elizabeth Hoff says.
Over half of Syria's public hospitals are now out of service, and treatments for diseases and injuries are "irregular", she says.
Ukrainian Militarization to Lead Only to War, Says Former Ambassador
The former US Ambassador to Russia, Thomas Pickering, warns today that Ukraine's idea of building one of Europe's most powerful armies, could have dangerous consequences.
Pickering says the idea is a dream, which leads only to war and worse, and suggests that a fair deal through the Minsk process, is better for both sides, reports 'Sputnik'.
Kiev representatives and the People's Republics of Donetsk (PRD) and Lugansk, with mediation by the Organization for Security & Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), & Russia, signed a truce & memorandum, with various points to implement a cease- fire, on September the 5th and 19th.
OSCE says the agreement is being fulfilled, but admits that violations of the truce have been reported, with bombings from Kiev's forces, the response of the militiamen, and scores of dead and injured, chiefly civilians.
On Thursday, the newly appointed head of Ukraine's National Security and Defense Council, Aleksandr Turchynov, threatened Crimea, saying that his country must create one of the most powerful armies in Europe.
Turchynov stated that his country's "war will be over" only when they have total control of the territory of Crimea, which voted in a March referendum, to rejoin Russia.
CUBA/US DIPLOMATIC TIES RESTORED
Cuban leader Raul Castro says in a televised speech on Wednesday, that Cuba and the United States have agreed "to restore" ties, ending 50 years of frosty bilateral relations.
Pope Francis unexpected hero of US-Cuba relations breakthrough
Pope Francis has congratulated both the US and Cuba on restoring relations. The Vatican and Canada both played a significant role in the talks, which broke 50 years of cold war- style sanctions imposed on the independent island.
President Obama comments that "sanctions did not work".
At this point, it is hard to predict how soon the US Congress may lift the trading and economic embargo from Cuba, but the first steps towards cancelling visas are being taken already,” the international research director at the Institute of Modern Development, Sergey Kulik, states.
“It's very unlikely that the restoration of diplomatic relations between the United States & Cuba was prompted only by the awareness that sanctions are ineffective, contrary to what Obama said.
“Washington never makes decisions on the basis of just one reason, and always, on several ones, first and foremost, geopolitical — for the sake of tightening its grip on the world,” the analyst says.
Yemen Shia fighters take full control of strategic port city
Yemen’s Shia Houthi movement’s Ansarullah fighters have taken full control of the Yemen’s second-largest port city of Hudaydah, on the Red Sea.
According to reports, the Ansarullah fighters managed to gain full control of the strategic port of Hudaydah on Wednesday (17th Dec), which they had entered earlier, in October.
The Yemeni army soldiers in Hudaydah gave no resistance, as the Shia fighters tightened their grip on the strategic port.
The Ansarullah revolutionaries also captured several government offices, including the state-owned SAFER oil and gas company, in the Yemeni capital, Sana’a, on Wednesday.
Ansarullah’s gains now pose a serious challenge to the authority of the Yemen-based al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), which has for long destabilized the impoverished Arab country.
In the past months, al-Qaeda militants have frequently attacked Yemen’s security forces and been locked in deadly battles with Shia Ansarullah fighters.
Yemen’s central government has so far failed to confront the terrorist threats. Ansarullah fighters, however, have intervened to fill the vacuum and driven al-Qaeda militants out of many areas in the country.
The Shia revolutionaries also played a major role in ousting Yemen’s former dictator, Ali Abdullah Saleh, in 2012.
Syrian Opposition Parties Reject Foreign Intervention
Various Syrian opposition parties call for an end to economic sanctions against Syria and a stop to the flow of radicals and mercenaries to their country, local television channels broadcast.
During a meeting with Ramzy Ezzedine Ramzy, the deputy of the UN special envoy for Syria, Staffan De Mistura, and the secretary general of the National Development Party, Inas al Hammal, he said that those conditions are needed to promote inter-Syrian talks.
For his part, Parwen Ibrahim, leader of the National Youth for Justice and Development Party, urged the United Nations to condemn the constant Israeli violations of Syrian sovereignty.
Meanwhile, Sheikh Nawaf Abdul Aziz Trad Al Milhim, from the People's Party, highlighted the importance of dialogue, and the UN's proposals for ending combat in Aleppo city.
During a meeting with de Mistura last month, president Bashar al Assad promised to study the initiative and highlighted the importance of Aleppo, considered to be Syria's economic heart, before the conflict.
A Syrian political opposition party says plans for "frozen zones" in Aleppo must be coupled with a political solution and expand to cover other Syrian cities.
"The plan put forward by the UN special envoy Staffan de Mistura, must be coupled with a political solution and expanded to cover the areas in southern and central Syria," says Safwan Akkasheh, a leading member of the opposition 'National Coordination Body' (NCB).
He says his group met earlier in the day with Ramzi Ezz el-Deen, deputy of de Mistura, who flew in last Saturday for a meeting with Syrian officials and opposition forces to discuss de Mistura's plans.
The special envoy has proposed a plan to freeze battles between government troops and "rebels" in Aleppo, as a prelude to a broader pacification across the war-torn country.
The Syrian government says the plan is "worth studying" but government officials say that they are waiting for more details about the plan from Mistura, who's gathering regional & international support for his plan, which is basically still a series of ideas.
Meanwhile, Akkasheh says the NCB discussed Mistura's plan in detail, adding that his group, the largest domestically-based opposition group, backs any step that might alleviate the suffering and end the destruction.
The opposition figure, though, expresses concern that the plan, if kept limited to Aleppo, could push the key Syrian province which borders Turkey, to become an autonomous area.
He stresses that this idea is of great concern to a majority of all the political forces in Syria.
Akkasheh says his group also agrees on the presence of international observers to monitor Aleppo's "frozen battles" --- if the cessation of violence is ever accepted by the warring sides.
Syrian troops have recently been racing against time to consolidate their positions in Aleppo and further tighten the siege on various rebel and extremist groups in rebel-held areas in Aleppo, while the plan is being discussed.
Local media and activists say Syrian troops are advancing on the northeastern part of Aleppo and inching closer to laying siege to the rebel- held areas, cutting their key supply lines from neighboring Turkey.
Russia Is Concerned about Western Lethal Aid to Ukraine
Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov states Russia''s concern about the possible supply of weapons to Ukraine by the West, and calls on those countries to foster political dialogue in Ukraine.
"I know that over the past few weeks, the debate on the so-called supplies of "lethal weapons" to Kiev has intensified in a worrying way, he says, adding that NATO planes have already sent the weapons to Ukraine secretly.
The deputy minister points out that if the West is interested in solving the Ukrainian crisis, it should promote the start of inclusive dialogue among all parties politically involved, and the adoption of constitutional reform, the First channel of Russian television reports.
Victoria Kushnir, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine, confirms that, thanks to the West's assistance, despite the crisis that keeps the country on the verge of bankruptcy, the Armed Forces continue receiving new and better military technology.
Israel suffers series of diplomatic setbacks in Europe
An EU court orders the removal of Hamas from the list of terror groups and the European Parliament has voted to recognise a Palestinian state.
Ban Ki Moon Calls to Strengthen Cooperation with Africa
UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon calls for a strengthening of United Nations links with Africa & the mechanisms for integrating that continent -- to foster peace and stability.
"The problems in Africa are the problems of everyone there and there is a possibility to solve the problems, only if all parts of the international community work as one, Ban Ki Moon said, at a forum centred on the links with the African Union.
The diplomat said that there are examples of the usefulness of joint work with African organizations to prevent conflicts or try to solve them, but there is still a lot to do, to strengthen such an alliance.
Burkina Faso, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, Central African Republic and the Great Lakes region, show the importance of cooperation in facing the crisis, he added.
Ban Ki Moon said there are many challenges to move forward in the search for peace and stability, and create key scenarios for socio- economic development.
"We should foster political links with the African Union, fix them into a clear strategy, foster the peace joint operations and promote a search for greater access to financial resources in the region," he concluded.
Russia Ends Military Drills in Kaliningrad Successfully
Lt General Andrei Kartapolov,spokesperson for the General Staff of the Armed Forces, confirms the successful conclusion of the largest military drill carried out in Russia''s westernmost region, Kaliningrad.
According to the military spokesperson, 9,000 soldiers, 250 tanks and other armored vehicles, 100 pieces of artillery and multiple rocket launchers, 55 boats and 41 planes participated in the maneuvers.
Kartapolov underlines that the operations, which took place from December 5 - 10, involved all kinds of troops, including units equipped with Iskander- M tactical missile systems, artillery, mechanized infantry, airborne troops and navy infantry.
The crews of fighters and transport helicopters, plus Baltic Sea Fleet troops, demonstrated their capabilities during the drills, states the source.
Particularly, the pilots and antiaircraft defense systems simulated the protection of key military and state objectives, as well as air support for other kinds of troops and the neutralization of ground targets of allegedly hostile groups.
The lieutenant general notes the participation of intelligence, communications and logistics experts in the maneuvers. The spokesperson assures that all forces that participated in the military drills have returned to their permanent garrisons and routine missions.
The presence of Iskander missiles in these operations grants a special importance to the maneuvers, as they can destroy targets within a radius of up to 500 kilometers and can carry several warheads, including nuclear warheads.
Russian President Vladimir Putin warns that the deployment of this kind of missile in Kaliningrad is Russia's response to the Antimissile Defense (AMD) deployed by the United States in Europe.
Putin has repeatedly stated that the AMD is a threat against Russia and forces the country to react.
ISIL executes 150 Iraqi women for not marrying militants
The ISIL terrorist group has executed 150 women in the Western Iraqi province of Anbar for refusing to marry Takfiri militants.
"At least 150 females, including pregnant women, were executed in Fallujah… after they refused to accept jihad marriage," reads a statement issued by Iraq’s Ministry of Human Rights.
"Many families were also forced to migrate from the province’s northern town of al-Wafa, after hundreds of residents received death threats," the statement adds.
According to the Iraqi Ministry of Human Rights, many children lost their lives after their families took refuge in deserts, in an attempt to escape from Takfiri terrorists.
The issue of the so-called Jihad al-Nikah (sexual jihad) was first brought up last September when it was revealed that a number of Sunni girls had travelled to Syria to marry Takfiri militants. This is while the real Islam in no way approves of the so-called Jihad al-Nikah.
Anbar province, which borders conflict-ravaged Syria, has been a major stronghold of the ISIL Takfiri militants and continues to be largely controlled by the terror group.
The ISIL terrorists control large areas across northern and western Iraq, as well as in eastern Syria.
The Takfiri militants have been carrying out horrific acts of violence, including public decapitations, against Iraqi communities, such as Shias, Sunnis, Kurds & Christians.
Five Million People Affected by Crisis in Ukraine, Says UN
More than five million people in the Ukrainian southeastern region are facing difficulties, as a result of the internal conflict, in which violations of human rights still continue, the United Nations warns today.
In its 8th report on the crisis in the country, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights says the arrival of the winter season increases the risks of hardship to the population.
The report, by a group of experts deployed on the spot for months, says at least 4,000 Ukrainians have died and 10,332 wounded, since the middle of April, during hostilities that have Donetsk and Lugansk, in the region of Donbass, as the epi-centre.
The document, which covers all November, says over 1,300 people have died, despite the ceasefire agreed in September in Minsk, Belarus, between the Government in Kiev and the pro-Russia activists who declared the independence of those territories.
The office accuses the sides of committing human rights violations, starting with the indiscriminate attack against densely populated areas and the kidnapping of people by armed groups and the Ukrainian Security Service.
It also regrets and criticizes the lack of progress in investigations into violations of human rights committed during protests in the Maidan, the violence on May 2nd in Odessa, and other cases.
The authorities in Moscow repeatedly criticize UN reports on human rights in Ukraine, for its bias in favour of the anti-Russian sectors.
US Government Insists on Studying New Sanctions Against Russia
A top US official says today the President Barack Obama is still considering signing legislation which imposes more sanctions on Russia and would authorize sending "resources" to Ukraine.
The source - quoted by the daily The Hill - considers as important that the sanctions regime reaches a "delicate balance" that keeps a united front with allies & partners, optimizes costs on Russia and minimizes the impact on US businesses, international oil markets and the world economy.
He adds that the present target is to maintain that focus.
According to The Hill, Obama is under pressure from the Capitol, where this Monday, President of the House of Representatives, John Boehner, vows that the aforementioned legislation will be approved immediately..
New legislation will penalize Russian weapon exports and oil imports, and also send Ukraine more "defensive weapons and non-lethal aid".
The US media seems to believe that Obama will keep to the same pace as his European allies, even if Congress pursues a more radical stand.
Since the beginning of this year, since the political conflict in Ukraine exploded, it has become a crisis between Russia and many western countries, especially the US.
Russia's authorities denounce those nations for using Ukraine as a spearhead against their country, in particular through the approach of NATO forces right up to Russia's borders.
For its part, the US and the European Union accuse Russia of supporting the independent movement of the Donbass, with its epicentre in the cities of Donetsk and Lugansk, and in consequence, they have imposed several economic sanction.
According to the report of a group of experts displayed on the ground months ago, hostilities on Ukrainian soil have left at least 4,707 Ukrainian dead and 10,332 wounded, since mid April.
Nigerian army denounces US officers over soldiers’ mutiny
The Nigerian army says not only has the US done nothing to help, but has made matters worse with its training of the soldiers who recently committed acts of mutiny.
“Our investigations show that some of the soldiers who were involved in the mutiny received training in the US,” a senior Nigerian official told Nigerian daily Punch, adding that the soldiers’ mutiny in the fight against Boko Haram Takfiri militants in recent months was due to the "negative training" they received from US trainers.
The official also said, “Another thing Nigerians should note is that since the Americans came here purportedly to help get the Chibok girls, yet they have not done anything. What have they done with all their technology and might? Is it not suspicious?”
The official also stressed that it might not be easy to tell Americans to leave Nigeria as “they are a super power.”
In response, the US Embassy in the Nigerian capital Abuja announced it hadn't received any request from the Nigerian government to withdraw its forces from the country.
The forces were allegedly brought into the country to assist with the rescue of the abducted girls.
On April 14, Boko Haram kidnapped 276 students from a secondary school in the northeastern town of Chibok, triggering worldwide outrage. Reports say 57 of the girls managed to escape, but 219 are still missing.
Boko Haram, whose name means “Western education is forbidden,” has claimed responsibility for numerous deadly shooting and bombing attacks in various parts of Nigeria which have left 10,000+ people dead, so far.
Syrian Army Closes Siege around Aleppo Syrian Armed Forces closed the siege around the city of Aleppo, on Sunday.
The Army's progress at Al Jandoul roundabout threatens the rebel bastions in Al Qweeka and Hanano.
As part of its offensive, the Syrian Army took control over the Al Bureij quarry and a timber factory in the industrial district.
Meanwhile, the al-Nusra Front, the armed branch of Al Qaeda in Syria, resumed its attacks on the towns of Nubl and Zahra, about 20 kilometers northwest of Aleppo, although the assault was rejected.
Both villages have been besieged by the radicals, for more than two years.
Since 2012, the rebels have controlled eastern Aleppo, which was Syria's economic heart, before the war.
Over the past few months, the Army has taken control over several strategic areas of the city amid violent confrontations.
As a consequence, the corridor that serves as a way for the Islamic groups to get provisions from the north, is getting narrower.
Ukraine closes 3 major airports ‘for security reasons’
Three major airports in Ukraine - Kharkov, Dnepropetrovsk and Zaporozhye - have been closed indefinitely, Ukraine’s State Air Traffic Service says on Monday.
Flights are banned “for security reasons,” TASS reports, citing the statement. The service’s chief, Denis Antonyuk, earlier said the airports would be closed until Tuesday morning.
Netanyahu vows to fight Palestinian UN bid
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vows to “fend off any attempts to dictate unilateral moves,” referring to a Palestinian UN proposal that sets a timetable for an Israeli withdrawal to the pre-1967 lines, Haaretz daily says.
The Palestinian leadership on Sunday, said it plans to submit a resolution to the UN Security Council setting a two-year deadline for Israel to end its occupation, AFP reports.
A draft UN resolution will be presented on Wednesday, to end the Israeli occupation by late 2016, senior Palestine Liberation Organization member Wassel Yussef says.
ICC to examine UK troop abuses during Iraq invasion
The International Criminal Court (ICC) is reportedly expected to look into hundreds of new cases accusing British soldiers of abusing Iraqi civilians from 2003 to 2008.
The Hague-based court will review cases which detail torture techniques such as rape, sexual assaults, electrocution, sleep deprivation, beating and hooding used by UK forces in, Iraq during interrogations in the period, the Independent reports today.
The cases, presented by lawyers and human right activists, accuse UK troops of abusing Iraqi children, women & men aged between 13 and 101.
In one of the cases, an Iraqi policeman died after British soldiers “forced his head into a bucket of cold water a number of times. He stopped breathing and died. His wife and children witnessed the soldiers killing him.”
The Independent report comes ahead of the publication of an official report into allegations that British forces mistreated and unlawfully killed Iraqis back in 2004.
The report, to be released on Wednesday, is likely to fuel more anger against the UK government, which reportedly was aware of the CIA's torture techniques at the time.
Earlier this week, Angus Robertson MP, the defense spokesperson for the Scottish National Party (SNP), called for an immediate publication of the findings of the long-awaited Chilcot inquiry into the UK’s role in the Iraq war.
UK forces participated in the US-led invasion of Iraq in a blatant violation of international law in 2003 under the pretext that the regime of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction. No such weapons were ever discovered in Iraq.
Elsewhere in his remarks, the SNP lawmaker further accused the UK government of failing to act urgently “despite the appalling findings of the US Senate report about the inhumane treatment of detainees.”
On December 9, the US Senate Intelligence Committee released a truncated report on the CIA’s so-called Terror War, which detailed torture techniques it used during the term of former US President George W. Bush.
Ninth Humanitarian Convoy Returns to Russia from Donbass
The ninth convoy of humanitarian assistance to the population of the Donbass regions has now returned to Russia, after delivering over 1,000 tons of food and basic necessities.
130 Ministry of Emergency Situations lorries crossed the border today to Russian territory across Rostov province, says Rossia 24 TV.
The humanitarian aid, the 9th since mid-August, was food, basic staples, building materials for the recovery of the infrastructure destroyed by bombing, and devices for mobile power plants.
Over 50 vehicles moved the load to Donetsk, to alleviate the food shortage in the region, say representatives of the self-proclaimed People's Republic of Donetsk in charge of distributing the reconstruction and social aid to the population... with Russia's help.
Another 80 lorries took the aid to inhabitants of the neighboring region of Lugansk, also in a very serious humanitarian situation, due to an economic, financial & energy embargo imposed by the Kiev coup authorities and the consequences of the bombing on cities.
Civil defense sources say another convoy could arrive by the year's end, to the south Ukrainian territories, which have received over 10,700 tons of humanitarian aid so far.
Meanwhile, various Russian regions are sheltering 2,600,000 Ukrainian refugees, according to statistics from November, issued by the Federal Migration Service.
Syrian Army Beats Off New IS Attack on Military Airport
After fierce fighting, the Syrian army has beaten off a new attack by armed elements of the Islamic State (IS) on Deir Ezzor military airport in the eastern province of Deir Ezzor, military sources report today.
Members of the terrorist organization tried to infiltrate the Al-Jafra Quarter in order to get closer to the base in Deir Ezzor town, but they were defeated and retreated with heavy losses, says a spokesperson quoted by Masdar News agency.
"IS has been controlling this neighborhood for 11 days now. But, it has been unable to move forward, the spokesperson states.
Meanwhile, the 104th airborne brigade has launched a counteroffensive to counter IS attacks in the nearby Al-Mariiyyah Quarters with the support of units of 137th brigade, and militias.
The armed forces have recovered several blocks of buildings in the area.
After the operation, military units control 70% of Al-Mariiyyah, while the IS keeps control of its southeastern perimeter.
Patients ‘dying of hunger & cold’: WHO raises alarm over healthcare in Ukraine
A lack of doctors and medicines in the east Ukraine conflict zone, is putting lives at risk, says a new World Health Organization report, which describes the situation on the ground as “not just a humanitarian crisis.”
“No child has been vaccinated in the areas affected by conflict since September 2014, sending polio vaccine coverage down to less than 30-40%,” the WHO report reads.
Fears of Ukraine becoming increasingly vulnerable to preventable diseases are becoming ever more real.
The report comes up with more “daunting” statistics in the section titled “Not just a humanitarian crisis,” where it talks about the first casualties of the botched health- care system.
“About 40 patients in a mental health institution have reportedly died from hunger, cold and lack of care,” it says.
The WHO argues that 60 villages situated between the front lines of Kiev's troops and the rebels, have been left with no medical personnel at all.
It also estimates that Lugansk city has only a third of the doctors and nurses who used to work there.
“Universal health care exists only on paper,” says Dorit Nitzan, the WHO representative for Ukraine. “People have to pay for a large amount of health services, buy their own medicines and there are no set prices for these essentials.”
The WHO is trying to assist with mobile emergency units made up of one doctor, two nurses and a logistician.
The units deal primarily with internally displaced people, assess their health and try to refer them to any medical services that still exist.
The Russian charity, Fair Aid, run by a famous Russian philanthropist, Elizaveta Glinka - better known as just Doctor Liza – has been regularly transporting children with serious health problems, to medical institutions in Moscow.
She has already helped 36 children from Donetsk get treatment in the Russian capital. And she was accompanying another group of 13 children - 4 of them born this year, and others aged from 4 to 12 years – on Wednesday.
“All the children I bring to Moscow are seriously ill - some of them have epilepsy with frequent seizures, some have congenital heart disorders,” Glinka tells RT’s Roman Kosarev, as the bus is about to set off from Donetsk.
Ivan Kravchenko, father of 3-year-old Ilya, who has heart disease, says Fair Aid was their last hope.
“Surgeons are nowhere to be found – they’ve all left,” says Ivan. “The fund found out about us and offered assistance...” Everything, from the trip to Moscow to the surgery itself, will be free of charge for Ilya.
The main challenge is safely passing the Ukraine part of the road from Donetsk to Konstantinovka on the border with Russia.
“There are checkpoints and the road is completely ruined by tanks,” Elizaveta Glinka says. “We'll have to hold our children tight - as you can see, we don't have the prams we need - so we just have to draw them close to us and hold them with our hands.”
‘Die-in’ for Eric Garner: Hundreds shut down mall, block streets in London protest
76 protesters were arrested after a large crowd stormed a London mall, blockaded roads, and shouted slogans against police brutality and a Staten Island grand jury’s ruling not to indict a police officer for Eric Garner's death.
Protests under the “We Can’t Breathe” slogan began near Westfield Shopping Centre in London.
Activists came out to support a recent wave of demonstrations in the US against the killing of African-American Eric Garner by white New York Police Officer, Daniel Pantaleo.
As the protest heated up, people occupied and shut down the shopping centre. The crowd was very lively, shouting slogans, jumping, and waving banners.
After staging a “die-in” by lying on the floor, protesters walked out of the mall with their hands in the air, imitating surrendering to the police.
Activists then walked onto the streets and blockaded a main road in London. Some surrounded and stopped a bus.
The bus driver eventually stopped trying to make his way through the crowd and posed for pictures with the activists.
Protesters repeatedly shouted: “What do we want? Justice! When do we want it? Now!”
After the action, London police surrounded dozens of protesters and announced they would be arrested for “violent disorder.”
“We came out tonight to protest in solidarity with those in America, who are protesting against police brutality, the unlawful killing of Eric Garner...and the unlawful killing of so many black people both in America & in the UK,” one protester, Joanna, said to RT. “We are here to say that it has to stop.”
She described how the crowd was kettled by police, that activists were “manhandled, and one was put in a chokehold.” She stressed that the activists weren't doing anything illegal.
“We’ve been taken off one by one to police custody, where we are told that we will be charged with violent disorder, which is completely outrageous. All we’ve done here today is show our solidarity,” she said.
Police said that those taken into custody broke away from the crowd, assaulted security staff, and vandalized property.
The US too has witnessed protests across the country after a grand jury decision that acquitted a white New York police officer of wrongdoing in the death of Eric Garner, a 43-year-old black Staten Island resident, on July 17th.
The incident was videotaped by a passer-by and uploaded online, causing global outrage against US' police brutality.
The video shows the officer placing Garner in an illegal chokehold while a group of other officers force Garner to the ground. Garner, who reportedly suffered from asthma, died after repeatedly saying, “I can’t breathe” – a phrase that has become a backbone of the protests.
The jury’s decision in the Garner case follows a Missouri grand jury's ruling not to indict a white police officer in the death of Michael Brown, 18, who was shot multiple times after a set to with police in Ferguson Missouri, despite being unarmed.
Tuesday, protesters in Berkeley, California shut down both sides of the I-80 freeway.
Pope Francis Calls For Nuclear Disarmament
Pope Francis urges states with nuclear arsenals, to get rid of them.
Nuclear weapons, his statement says, are an issue affecting all nations with negative consequences for future generations and the planet.
The Pope says that nuclear deterrence and the threats of mutual destruction cannot be the basis for coexistence and fraternity among countries and peoples.
Our youngsters deserve a peaceful world, ordered by values like respect, cooperation, solidarity and compasion, says the text.
Pope Francis' message urges nations to join hands for disarmament and a safer world with responsibility, confidence and sincere dialogue.
He also condemns states spending on weapons, which he considers a waste of riches and resources.
Piority should be given instead to programs related to human development in areas like education, health and the eradication of poverty, says the message.
His statement is released at the Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons.
70 Palestinian prisoners start hunger strike in Israel jails
Seventy Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails have started a hunger strike to protest against the regime’s policy of solitary confinement, a prisoners' group says.
According to a statement by the Palestinian Prisoners Society, the protest action started on Tuesday in solidarity with detainees being held in solitary confinement, some of whom had already gone on hunger strike, to stop the policy.
The strikers are calling for an end to solitary confinement, and the release of ill prisoners.
Their strike is also in solidarity with Nahar al-Saadi, who’s been refusing meals since November 20th, to protest at being held in solitary confinement.
Saadi’s demands include: end his confinement, allow family visits, & end solitary confinement for all the other prisoners.
Earlier, the group said that two other prisoners, Fahd Sawalha & Mahmoud Kleibim, also began a hunger strike on Saturday, in protest at their solitary confinement.
Reports say over 7,000 Palestinians are now held in Israeli gaols, many of them without charge or trial.
Israel's Prison Service, the agency responsible for overseeing gaols, has come under criticism from human rights groups, for rampant rights abuses in gaols.
ISRAELI TROOPS MURDER TOP OFFICIAL
Israeli forces have killed a senior Palestinian official, at a protest rally near the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah.
According to Palestinian security sources on Wednesday, Ziad Abu Ein, who was in charge of the issue of Israeli settlements within the Palestinian Authority, died after Israeli troops hit him with the butts of their weapons and their helmets, during the rally in the village of Turmus Ayya.
Abu Ein "was martyred after being beaten in the chest," says Ahmed Bitawi, the director of Ramallah hospital.
The president of the Palestinian national unity government, Mahmud Abbas, condemns "the brutal assault that led to the martyrdom" of Abu Ein, calling it "a barbaric act that can't be tolerated, or accepted."
"We will take the necessary measures after the results of the investigation into the incident," Abbas says.
Tensions have been running high for weeks, in the West Bank & East Jerusalem/Al-Quds, over the desecration by Israeli troops of Al-Aqsa Mosque.
Israel gives demolition orders to Palestinians
Israeli security forces have given demolition orders to the residents of homes and commercial stores in various parts of the occupied West Bank, as part of the regime's settlement expansion project.
Israeli troops invaded Silwan and Jabal al-Mukabir neighbourhoods on Tuesday and handed demolition orders to a number of Palestinian families, local sources say.
The residents were told to leave their homes, because they were built “illegally.”
Similar orders were handed to the residents of Silwan, Jabal al-Mukabir and Sur Baher a day earlier.
In November, Human Rights Watch (HRW) urged Israel to end the destruction of Palestinian homes, saying the practice can amount to a “war crime.”
"Israel should impose an immediate moratorium on its policy of demolishing the family homes of Palestinians," the HRW said.
The decision to destroy more Palestinian homes comes, as Tel Aviv continues with its illegal settlement expansion on Palestinian land.
Report on the CIA's Use of Torture and Lies Above All Expectations
The report to the US Senate beats all the calculations of those who expected the worst.
The summary of a report released to the Senate's investigation of these operations, even after being sanitized by the CIA itself, is a portrait of depravity that is hard to comprehend & even harder to stomach, says the New York Times.
The report again raises the question of why no one has ever been held accountable for these seeming crimes - not the top officials who set them in motion, the lower-level officials who committed the torture, or those who covered it up, including by destroying videotapes of the abuse and by trying to block the Senate Intelligence Committee's investigation of their acts.
At one point, the report says, the CIA assured Congress that the behavior of the secret jailers and interrogators was nothing like the horrors the world saw at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. That's the closest the agency seems to have come to the truth.
What happened appears to have been worse than what took place at Abu Ghraib.
The Senate committee's summary says that the torture by CIA interrogators and private contractors was "brutal and far worse" than the agency has admitted to the public, to Congress and the Justice Department, even to the White House.
In that, and other clandestine prisons, very often no initial attempt was made to question prisoners in a nonviolent manner, despite CIA assertions to the contrary.
"Instead, in many cases the most aggressive techniques were used immediately, in combination and nonstop," states the summary of the declassified and heavily censored document.
The CIA appears to have used water- boarding on more than the three detainees it has acknowledged subjecting to that form of torture.
But "at no time" did the CIA's torture program produce intelligence averting a terrorism threat, the report says.
According to The Hill, the 'Report on Torture' shows a great abbys between the confidence of the intelligence community and members of Congress.
Obama's response? He appoints Brennan to say:
“Our review indicates that interrogations of detainees on whom EITs were used, did produce intelligence that helped thwart attack plans, capture terrorists, and save lives. The intelligence gained from the program was critical to our understanding of al-Qaida and continues to inform our counterterrorism efforts to this day,” Brennan says, defying the report's main conclusion -- that the torture failed to stop a single act of terror.
Russia warns against US missile bases in east Europe
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov warns that Moscow will show an adequate response to the US deployment of a costly missile system in Eastern Europe.
"We warn that at some stage of the development of the American missile defense systems, we will have to take adequate measures to ensure our own security," Lavrov says on Tuesday.
"We don't intend to get drawn into an expensive arms race but we will provide the defensive capabilities of our country reliably," he adds.
Russia says US missile plans across the globe are a real threat, not only to Russia, but to the whole world, adding that the missile systems harm the global strategic balance of forces.
The remarks are made amid escalating tensions between the West and Russia over the crisis in Ukraine.
On October 10th, the US military commissioned its new missile base in southern Romania amid strong opposition by Russia.
The military base will be the first to feature the Aegis Ashore ballistic missile system and it will be operational by the end of 2015.
Several hundred American military, civilian and contract employees will be deployed to the site.
Another missile base is scheduled to become operational in Poland by 2018.
Last year, the Russian Defense Ministry confirmed that it deployed several Iskander ballistic missile systems, which are capable of carrying nuclear warheads, in Kaliningrad.
The Iskander ballistic missile has a range of up to 500 kilometers (about 300 miles) and travels at hypersonic speed --- making it very difficult to intercept.
Their deployment came as a response to the development of a US missile system in Europe.
Ukraine military suspends combat operations in east
Ukrainian government troops have suspended their military operations in the volatile east in preparation for a frontline ceasefire.
"The Ukrainian military has suspended all combat actions and is ready for the Day of Silence, but if separatists attack, we will fire in response," a Ukrainian army spokesman says on Tuesday.
Ukraine and the pro-Russia forces agreed on December 9th, to stop fighting across the eastern conflict zone, under the terms of a Kremlin-brokered ceasefire.
Also on Tuesday, the Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says the contact group on Ukraine, made up of pro-Russia forces fighting the Kiev government in the east, and officials from Kiev, Moscow and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), will meet soon, to discuss the implementation of measures to uphold the truce in eastern Ukraine.
"In the coming days, a meeting of the contact group is planned, in which will be discussed a plan: with the aim of a final ceasefire," he says.
Ukraine’s mainly Russian-speaking regions in the east have witnessed deadly clashes between pro-Russia forces and the Ukrainian army since Kiev launched military operations to silence the pro-Moscow protests in mid-April.
UN: Opium Harvests Soaring in Southeast Asia The UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) says in the findings of its annual Southeast Asia Opium Survey, that poppy cultivated in Myanmar and Laos in 2014, reached 772 tons of opium.
Poppy cultivated in Myanmar and Laos in 2014 reached 63,800 hectares, up from 21,600 hectares in 2006.
The latest figure represents a rise in cultivation for the eighth consecutive year, boosting an industry estimated to be worth $16bn a year in Southeast Asia.
Around 76 tons of heroine were made. That drug, one of the most expensive, has a ready market in many other nations.
Myanmar is the world's second largest producer of opium, with Afganistan now in first place.
The great demand for drugs motivates more international crime cartels, says the report.
Poppy cultivation in the heroin-producing Golden Triangle, the area adjoining Myanmar, Laos and Thailand, has nearly tripled since 2006, and is now a challange to the State and the Law, according to a new UN report.
According to Yuri Fedoto, Executive Director of the UN agency, a lot of poor farmers depend on harvesting opium for survival, fuelled by an increase in consumption in the West, and made easy because of the porous borders.
Protests in Front of US Congress Demand End to Police Brutality
Demonstrations took place in front of the US Congress and the Department of Justice on Monday, demanding an investigation into the deaths of Afro Americans at the hands of police officers in this country.
In the Capitol, a line of police officers stopped the access of several dozen demonstrators, who carried posters and shouted slogans, condemning police brutality.
Spokespeople for the demonstrators demanded an international investigation into the most recent crimes against Afro Americans by police officers, and other public order forces.
The death of Michael Brown, an 18-year-old negro adolescent, assassinated by white police officer Darren Wilson in the city of Ferguson, Missouri, and the strangling of Eric Garner at hands of policeman Daniel Pantaleo, in New York, provoked energetic protests in over 170 US cities in the last weeks.
Another similar case occurred in Cleveland, Ohio, in November, when another police officer fired his gun and killed a black 12-year-old child.
Other demonstrations took place last Saturday in Phoenix, Arizona, after people knew about the death by two shots in his chest of Afro American Rumain Brisbon, 34, by a white police officer.
Lebanon Strengthens Border Security with Syria
Lebanese armed forces have strengthened their security on the border with Syria, after a marked increase in attacks by jihadist groups.
The military blocked roads in a mountainous area to prevent access by armed groups to the regions of Arsal, Wadi Atah and Wadi el Hons, located in the eastern Valley of the Bekaa.
In August extremists captured 30 Lebanese army troops in Arsal and recently killed six soldiers in an attack in Ras Baaleck area.
Palestinian Prisoners In Israel Announce Hunger Strike
Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails warn - they will initiate an open hunger strike if the prison authorities continue to ignore demands by one of their fellow captives.
The detainees, members of the Islamic Jihad movement, are acting in solidarity with Nahar al-Saadi, who 16 days ago refuses to eat food after the authorities banned him from receiving family and medical visits and started to impose arbitrary punishments, constant searches and confiscated all his belongings.
Violations of the rights of Palestinian prisoners have increased in recent weeks, particularly solitary confinement & collective punishment, states the director of the Centre for Palestinian Prisoners Studies, Rafat Hamdouna.
5,000 plus Palestinians are in Israeli prisons, including women and children: hundreds of them under an administrative detention law dating from UK colonial rule, according to which, any person may be arrested with- out the right to legal assistance.
United Kingdom to Open military Base in Bahrain UK Foreign Minister Philip Hammond today announces that his country is to open a permanent military base in Bahrain, aimed at reinforcing security in the Persian Gulf.
Hammond's communique was released by the local press this weekend, and it says that the base is believed to cost over 19 million euros.
The base will be first permanent UK base in the Middle East since 1971.
Hammond stresses that the opening of the base will extend the presence of the Royal Navy and reinforce security in the region.
For his part, UK Defense Secretary Michael Fallon says the new base is a permanent expansion of the Royal Navy's footprint and will enable the UK to send more and larger ships to "reinforce stability" in the Gulf.
Israeli 'planes carried out 2 air assaults against an area of Damascus International Airport, and another airport in the town of Dimas, on Sunday.
The Syrian army issued a statement later in the day, saying the air attacks by Tel Aviv were aimed at helping the ISIL militants operating in the Arab country.
Israel has carried out several airstrikes in Syria since the start of the conflict there, in 2011.
Israel must explain airstrikes on Syria: Russia
The Russian Foreign Ministry has expressed grave concern over Israel’s recent airstrike against Syria, calling on Tel Aviv to provide answers regarding the military aggression.
“Moscow is deeply worried by this dangerous development, the circumstances of which demand an explanation,” says Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Alexander Lukashevich.
Russia has sent a letter to the UN complaining about Israel’s “aggressive action,” stressing that such attacks should not take place in the future, he states.
Police Kill Another African American in Phoenix and Revive Tensions New protests against racial discrimination and the excessive use of police force have reignited tensions in the US, after the death of another African-American, at the hands of the police, in Phoenix.
The US media highlights the death of Rumain Brisbon, 34, who was shot twice in the chest by a white police officer in a confusing drug trafficking incident on Tuesday.
The death of Brisbon has reignited the passion of the African American community in the US, which has returned to the streets in protests over recent court decisions to exempt two white police officers involved in violent acts that have taken the lives of Michael Brown, Ferguson, and Eric Garner, in New York.
According to the police statement, Rumain Brisbon was selling drugs when the police asked him to raise his hands, but he didn't obey the order.
Brisbon ran to an apartment building where a struggle began, during which the suspect put his hands in his pockets, which, says the police report, caused the officer to think that he had a gun.
The officer, identified only as a white man of 30 years, shot him twice in the chest, which caused Brisbon's death.
An inspection of his body showed that he had in his pockets a bottle of oxycodone, a drug that's also used as a narcotic. The vehicle driven by Brisbon contained marijuana and a semi-automatic rifle.
The victim had a long criminal record for assault and robbery, says the local media.
Marci Kratter, attorney for the family Brisbon, says witnesses contradict the police version.
Russia Opens Criminal Case against Ukrainian Deputies Russian Investigative Committee spokesperson Vladimir Markin confirms that the committee has opened a criminal case against three Ukrainian deputies for backing a terrorist act in Chechnya which left 14 dead, and 28 injured.
"The Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation, upon obtaining data on Ukrainian deputies Yury Beryoza, Andrei Levus and Igor Mosiychuk, has opened a criminal case for an offense under Article 205.2 of Russia's Criminal Code (public calls for terrorist acts, or the public approval of terrorism)," Markin says.
The three deputies praised the recent attack by 11 Islamic terrorists, who attacked a road patrol station in Grozny, in Russia's southern Republic of Chechnya, on Thursday.
The attackers then found shelter in the city's Press House and a nearby school after killing police officers on patrol.
After killing the armed militants, Russian security forces found weapons caches and over 20 bombs at the school.
Investigators believe that a series of attacks were planned by the extremists in Chenchnya.
Yet Ukrainian deputy and ex chief of Ukraine's Security Service, Andriy Levus, says that the counter-terrorist operation has caused outrage ]within the human rights movement, in Grozny.
Levus justifies the violent attack by the extremists, who are trying to create in the Caucasus, what the Islamic State is trying to create in the Middle East, by claiming that they're "fighting for respect for their constitutional rights."
Syria:--- Destroy all Weapons of Mass Destruction in Middle east
Syria''s Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal al Mekdad calls the use of any weapons of mass destruction "immoral" and demands that the Middle East be made a nuclear-weapons-free zone.
The nuclear weapons that Israel, the US, UK and France persist in having as a deterrence strategy, can destroy the planet five or six times in a few minutes, says a report from Al Binaa daily.
The Syrian deputy Foreign minister recalls that Syria was one of the first countries to join The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, in 1968.
Mekdad says his Government proposed declaring the region free of nuclear arsenals 11 years ago, but that Washington and its European allies rejected that initiative.
The deputy Foreign minister denounces Tel Aviv's big nuclear, biological, and chemical arsenals and its refusal to destroy them.
He says Syria was unfairly accused of using chlorine gas, but then it was later proved that armed groups were responsible for those attacks.
With the complicity of the US, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey, rebels used chemical substances in order to blame the Damascus authorities.
Kerry warns about release of US torture report: and asks Finestein to delay the report's release.
US Secretary of State John Kerry has warned Senate Intelligence Chair, Dianne Feinstein, about the expected release of a report criticizing US torture techniques.
In a phone call between Kerry & Feinstein on Friday, the top US diplomat asked the senator to delay the release of the report.
State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki states that he called his former colleague and made clear that the timing was, of course, her choice.
“He wanted to make sure that foreign policy implications were being appropriately factored into the timing,” she said. “These include our ongoing efforts against ISIL and the safety of Americans being held hostage around the world.”
The release of the report about the CIA's use of torture methods could complicate Washington’s foreign policy issues.
The US says ISIL terrorist group and other groups that hold American hostages would execute them once the report is released.
At least 3 Americans, including a woman, are believed to be held by terrorist groups.
The torture program was launched under former president George W. Bush after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Centre in New York.
The report was scheduled to be released next week.
Ansarullah fighters take over Sana'a army academy
Shia fighters of the Ansarullah movement in Yemen have reportedly seized the military academy in the capital, Sana'a.
Witnesses say the Shia fighters of the Houthi tribe entered the academy on Friday with no resistance from the guards and stationed their patrols inside.
"The Houthis are now in control of the academy's gates,” said one witness.
Neither the Ansarullah nor the government is offering any comment.
The development comes a few days after Defense Minister Mahmoud al-Subaihi said that Ansarullah fighters might be allowed to join the Yemeni army.
Over the past few months, al-Qaeda militants have frequently carried out attacks on Yemen’s security forces and have been also locked in deadly battles with Ansarullah fighters.
The US and its ally, Saudi Arabia, have backed the terrorists and armed, paid and trained them.
Yemen’s central government has so far failed to confront the terrorist threat. Ansarullah fighters, however, have intervened to fill the vacuum and driven al-Qaeda militants out of many areas.
In September, Ansarullah revolutionary fighters gained control over key government buildings in Sana’a, after weeks of demonstrations and a 4--day battle with army forces loyal to General Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar, a half-brother of Yemen’s former dictator, Ali Abdullah Saleh.
On November the 2nd, Yemen’s main political parties, including Ansarullah revolutionaries, signed a UN-brokered truce, deal in a bid to end Yemen's crippling political crisis.
On November 9th, Yemeni President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi swore in Yemen’s new government, despite opposition from Ansarullah revolutionaries.
They called for the replacement of a number of newly-appointed ministers, on the grounds of corruption and lacking qualifications.
The Ansarullah movement played a major role in the popular uprising which forced Saleh to step down in 2012, after 33+ years in power.
China's warships more than US by 2020: Report
We all learnt yesterday, that China is now larger, economically, than the US.
A report by a US congressional commission on China predicts now that China's military will have more warships than the US --- by 2020.
The number of China’s military vessels will reach about 351 within six years, The Washington Post reports.
The US-China Economic & Security Review Commission has given its annual report to the US Congress.
The US Navy now has 289 deployable battle force ships.
The commission demands that Congress increase its Pacific fleet by up to 67 ships.
According to the commission, China's military spending is $131 billion this year, almost 12.2% greater than last year.
The US Navy says it is concerned about China’s military plans.
Last year, the US Department of Defense said in a report to Congress, that China will “likely build multiple aircraft carriers over the next decade. The first Chinese-built carrier will likely be operational sometime in the second half of this decade.”
For several years, the US military has said that Washington might be losing its military superiority in areas such as fighter jets, missile systems and cyber warfare "soon".
China, for its part, is concerned about US militarism in the Asia-Pacific region.
Beijing sees the Pentagon’s Asia “pivot” to the Pacific, and its increased military presence there, as a strategy to counter China’s increasing global influence.
New Agreement and Truce in Ukraine
The foreign ministers of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) ended in Basel, with important agreements on European security and a new truce between the US-installed Kiev government and its opponents in the South East.
Hezbollah missiles can level Israel to ground: Iran general
An Iranian commander says missiles of the Lebanese resistance movement Hezbollah are capable of completely destroying Israel.
“Although the United States’ first mission is to ensure the security of the Zionist regime, today Hezbollah’s missiles can raze Israel to the ground,” says Brigadier General Esmail Qa’ani, the second- in-command of Quds Force, a branch of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC).
Today, missiles fired by Hezbollah at the Zionist regime, have such a range that they can reach even Gaza which is located beyond Israel, says the general, describing Israel as one of the most insecure spots in the world.
“A large number of missiles threatening Israel’s security today, are manufactured in this very Palestinian territory which, in many cases, has difficulty providing [even] necessary foodstuff,” says the top commander.
Israel launched wars on Lebanon in 2000 and 2006. About 1,200 Lebanese, mostly civilians, were killed in the 33-Day War of 2006.
On both occasions, however, Hezbollah fighters defeated Israeli forces and Tel Aviv was forced to retreat without achieving any of its objectives.
Hezbollah says that it has both the capability and courage to defend Lebanon and that the movement's missiles are ready to strike back on "certain targets" in Israel in self-defense --- if Tel Aviv launches an attack on Lebanon.
Russia Counteracts NATO in Eastern Europe
Russia's ambassador to NATO, Alexandr Grushko, says that his country has begun applying measures to counter the rising presence of NATO's military in E. Europe.
NATO is handling the crisis in Ukraine to its own advantage, in order to justify its activity in the area and the war costs, declares the diplomat to the press.
Grushko stresses that Russia's response will be well-analyzed, based on NATO's actions in the region.
According to the Russian diplomat, NATO admits that the flights over international waters of the Baltic sea, authorized by Moscow, do not violate the established regulations.
The majority of the block's Defense ministers indicate that the Russian planes operate in full accordance with the rule of International Law, and that the routine maneuvres do not represent any threat, he states.
Grushko points out that the relationship between Russia and NATO is getting closer to freezing point. The alliance will have to reassess its position on Moscow, he insists.
Russia has no shortage of partners on the international scene, therefore, the projects we have carried out within the framework of the Russia-NATO Council can be retaken with others, or taken solo.
Russia Reinforces Defense in Arctic Region with New Command
The North United Strategic Command, Russia''s fifth Military District equipped with its own land, naval and air forces, and deployed beyond the Arctic Circle, is officially established and now carrying out its missions, local media report.
The nucleus for this new military structure will be the Russian North Fleet, whose ships will join the maritime units of that armed corps, the official newspaper Rossiyskaya Gazeta reports.
Without revealing the exact composition of the new command, the newspaper says that, in addition to the North Fleet, it will be made up of units from the West, Central, South and East Military Districts, which were linked to protecting the Arctic before these changes.
Since October, Russia has stationed army units integrated into the Single Tactic Group on its Arctic island. Those units are equipped with new weapons such as the Rubezh coastal missile systems and the Pantsir-S1 missile-cannon anti-aircraft complexes.
Military sources say that a land component of the new strategic command, made up of two Arctic brigades that must be fully operational by 2016, is being created.
Mikhail Mizintsev, chief of the National Defense Centre, said recently that Russia will build 13 aerodromes and an aviation polygon in the Arctic region, where it will replace several radars and command posts of the Air Force.
For his part, President Vladimir Putin said on November 25th that in order to improve the composition and structure of the Armed Forces, a unified strategic command would be operational on December 1st in the Arctic.
Nikolai Patrushev, secretary of Russia's Security Council, has warned about the interests of such countries as the United States, Canada, Iceland, Norway and Denmark in the Arctic region, and their military mobilization, which has increased dramatically.
Syria Calls Coalition Air Strikes on IS Ineffective
Syrian President Bashar al Assad says that the international coalition''s air attacks, led by Washington, against the Islamic State (IS) terrorist group, are "ineffective".
In an interview with the French 'Paris Match' magazine, released on Thursday, and whose summary is reproduced by the state-run Sana news agency, the president says that Syrian armed forces fighting against that radical group have not seen any changes on the ground, after the coalition's air strikes.
Al Assad repeats his denunciation of the Turkish Government's support of terrorist groups in Syria, chiefly IS, and warns that his people will never accept being puppets in the hands of Western powers.
The president says that Damascus will hold talks with any French Government that works with good intentions for the common benefit, but warns that the government of Francois Hollande acts against the interests of both Syria and France.
Last month, Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal al Mekdad accused Ankara and Paris of backing terrorist groups in this nation of the Levant.
Al Mekdad said that both Hollande and his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, seek to divide Syria.
UN urges Israel to renounce nuclear arms, join non-proliferation treaty
The UN General Assembly has passed an Arab- introduced resolution calling on Israel not to develop, produce or possess nuclear arms and criticizing the country for not being a party to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT).
The resolution calls on Israel to "accede to that treaty without further delay, not to develop, produce test or otherwise acquire nuclear weapons, to renounce possession of nuclear weapons," and put its nuclear facilities under the safeguard of the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency, AP reports.
The UN would like to see the whole of the Middle East as a nuclear weapons-free zone, according to the text of the document, which specifies that Israel is the only country in the region which has not signed the non-proliferation treaty.
Israel, which is believed to have nuclear arms, but has never admitted to it, has long been under fire from Arab countries in the region for not putting its alleged stockpile under international supervision.
The resolution, initiated by Egypt, was approved by 161 nations with only five voting against it, and 18 abstentions.
The United States and Canada were among the minority opposing the measure.
US representative Robert Wood, earlier condemned the resolution for failing “to meet the fundamental tests of fairness and balance.”
“It confines itself to expressions of concern about the activities of a single country," he said.
The International Atomic Energy Agency voted in September on a resolution, expressing concern over Israel's assumed nuclear arsenal. That time the resolution was rejected by 58 votes to 45.
In 2012, the United Nations General Assembly passed a non-binding call on Tel Aviv to join the NPT “without further delay."
Israel rebuffed this call with a Foreign Ministry statement that the UN has “lost all its credibility regarding Israel with these types of routine votes that are ensured passage by an automatic majority and which single out Israel."
Israel has repeatedly stressed that it sees Iran as the real nuclear threat in the region, urging the international community to do whatever it takes to thwart the 'Iranian nuclear problem'.
Tehran insists it’s not pursuing weapons and that its nuclear effort is altogether peaceful.
Moscow Slams NATO over Ukraine
Russia accuses NATO of risking European peace with military drills linked to a spike in tensions over the Ukraine crisis.
Russia's deputy foreign minister Alexei Meshkov says that the US-led military alliance is "trying to destabilize the world's most stable region".
"Endless military exercises, the deployment of nuclear-capable planes to Baltic countries" will lead to the "destruction" of stability and security in the region, he tells Interfax news agency.
The comments came the same week as a meeting of foreign ministers from NATO's 28 member states, meet in Brussels.
Talks are dominated by Ukraine, where fighting in the east between government forces and pro- Russian separatist rebels has killed over 4,300 people and displaced one million, since April.
The West accuses Moscow of stoking the conflict and has imposed sanctions against Russia, sending relations plunging to Cold War lows.
On the ground, Ukraine's military says its forces and Russian generals have agreed a temporary ceasefire around an airport in rebel-held Donetsk that has been the focus of fighting for months.
A pro-Russian rebel leader confirms to media outlets that top-level negotiations are ongoing and a final agreement is expected by today.
US President Obama and European Council chief Donald Tusk express their concern over the Ukraine crisis, urging Russia to pull back from the country's east.
We "agreed on how important it is for Russia to withdraw from eastern Ukraine, to stop supplying troops and equipment, to allow effective control of the border," Tusk says in a statement.
"The European Union and the United States continue working together closely, including on sanctions as well as on financial support to Ukraine. We agreed to stay united and to keep a steady course."
Moscow fiercely rejects any claims that it is involved in the fighting in east Ukraine but gives open political backing to the rebels, who now boast the heavy weaponry of a regular army.
Russia in upgraded war of words with NATO
Russia slams NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg over his anti-Moscow remarks, saying NATO's boss repeats "idle inventions".
"Instead of doing some concrete work, looking for a settlement of the Ukrainian internal conflict, Stoltenberg has joined in the efforts of propagating idle inventions about the supposed movements of Russian armaments across the Ukrainian border," Russia's Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova says in a statement.
The remarks made by Stoltenberg, who took the current position in October, were primarily based on principles and instructions that reflect the consolidated opinion of all 28 member countries of NATO, Zhkharova says.
"They bring grist to the mill of Kiev's party of war and are fraught with destructive effects on the fragile process of peaceful settlement of the Ukrainian internal crisis," she adds.
Stoltenberg says that the alliance has extensive evidence of the movement of Russian military equipment near Ukraine. He says the maneuvers Russian military aircraft have been conducting in Europe, have posed threats to civilian airlines.
The politician admits to NATO's increasing military presence in Eastern Europe, but attributes that to the need to prevent developments in Ukraine from "growing into a new Cold War".
Moscow insists that NATO prefers to fan up anti-Russian sentiment, to justify its plans to strengthen its defense potential and build up its military presence near Russia's borders.
"This creates serious security risks in the Euro-Atlantic region," Zakharova says.
Russia & NATO have severely strained ties since the Ukraine crisis. Since April, NATO has ended all practical cooperation with Russia, only maintaining contacts at ambassadorial and higher levels.
Police in Ferguson React to Protests by Rams Soccer Players
Police officers from Ferguson say today that six members of the football team St. Louis Rams, have been "punished" for going onto the field with their hands up, to protest about the murder of the African-American, Michael Brown.
The Association of St. Louis police officers says that it was "deeply disappointed" with the demonstration by the athletes from the National Soccer League (NSL), which they describe as "offensive and incendiary".
They also claim that the players involved were punished and that the league and the team have issued a public apology.
The protest occurred on Sunday, minutes before the beginning of the game between the St. Louis Rams and the Oakland Raiders, when Afro-American players Tavon Austin, Kenny Britt, Edward Jones Dome, Jared Cook, Stedman Bailey and Chris Givens, went out onto the field, with their hands up.
The slogan "hands up, do not shoot" is being used by demonstrators who disagree with a decision by a county grand jury in St. Louis, not to charge officer Darren Wilson, who was responsible for Brown's death, on August 9th.
Some witnesses state that Brown, a black 18 year old teenager, had put his hands up before receiving six shots fired by white police officer Wilson.
Right-Wing Continues Losing in Latin America, says Topolansky
Lucia Topolansky, a re-elected senator and Uruguay's First Lady, believes that the recent elections in Latin America, from Venezuela in 2013, to Uruguay last Sunday, prove that "the right-wing is losing in the region".
In an interview for the newspaper Pagina 12, Topolansky, President Jose Mujica's wife, a former guerrilla member and political prisoner during the US-backed Uruguayan dictatorship, highlights the importance of regional integration and the relationship between her country and Argentina.
Topolansky, who described herself as "a left- wing woman seeking socialism", believes that Latin America's left-wing lacks theorizing and should "add theory to these processes and the concept of populism".
By 'Populism', she refers to the label used by the right-wing, calling leaders of the region populist.
She highlights popular projects and revolutionary processes that have led to a change of direction in Latin American politics.
"The most striking was when Cuban President Raul Castro received the presidency of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), from Sebastian Piñera:-- that picture would had been impossible 15 years ago", says Mrs Topolansky, a senator for the Movement of Popular Participation.
From her standpoint, Brazilian Frei Betto gives the best definition about what is happening in Latin America in the statement:"Now people elect presidents with human faces".
As a Uruguayan politician, Topolansky says that she cares "too much about what happens in Argentina and Brazil, because we're defined a lot by both countries'.
At Least 21 Million People Suffer Modern Slavery
Human rights experts from the United Nations say that at least 21 million human beings on the planet are now suffering from several contemporary ways of slavery and they demand the use of political will to eradicate this shameful practice.
Forced labour in mines & farms, sexual exploitation and several "informal economy" jobs under similar conditions to the ones suffered by slaves in the past, are listed as among the modern manifestations of slavery.
Women and children are the most affected people, says the UN Special Rapporteur for Contemporary Ways of Slavery, Urmila Bhoola, a South African lawyer, who adds that statistics on the problem do not include the 168 million children submitted to infant labour, some of them involved in quite dangerous tasks.
"We need countries to fulfill their respective obligations on international laws. We need them to show a greater commitment to eradicate the problem," says the UN rapporteur, in a speech on a joint declaration on the Day for Abolition of Slavery, which is celebrated today.
The special rapporteur for the Sale and Sexual Exploitation of Children, Maud de Boer-Buquicchio, complains that millions of minors suffer slavery.
Slavery will only be able to be fought in an effective way if systems are adopted for the protection of the child, including the prevention of the risks and the early identification of the victims, he says.
In the joint declaration, the special rapporteur for the Trafficking of People, Grazia Giammarinaro, demands the existence of mechanisms of justice and compensation, at a world level.
"Human victims of contemporary forms of slavery should have access to compensation and support, regardless of their immigration status or otherwise."
Bhoola, de Boer-Buquicchio & Giammarinaro both call for ongoing negotiations to secure the sustainable development agenda after 2015, to take account of eradicating the scourge of slavery.
Tension Decreases in Cairo Tahrir Square Reopened
Tahrir Square in downtown Cairo is open today after being closed for about 2 days for security reasons, as well as one of the metro stations.
The area in Cairo gained notoriety during the popular uprising that put an end to the over 30-year-old regime of Hosni Mubarak, and then the opposition to the now imprisoned Mohamed Morsi.
The surrounding of the famous crossroad of avenues, and the blockade of Gamal Abdel Nasser subway, continues under the custody of the Army, deployed since last Thursday as a precaution against an announced Islamic revolution.
The Islamist summoning, to which the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) responded, was not warmly met by the population. But the exoneration of Mubarak, two of his children, and a former Minister of the Interior, unleashed a wave of mass rejection.
Tahrir and the surrounding areas were the stage of a mass protest on Saturday, in which 3 people died, due to the exoneration of Mubarak and ex minister Habib el Adli, accused of allowing the death of more than 800 demonstrators during opposition demonstrations in 2011.
US Laws Encourage Armed Violence
The rise of violence in the United States is directly linked to the existence of state laws that allow the carrying of firearms, reveals new research published today.
The investigation, carried out by experts of Stanford and John Hopkins universities USA, rejects the results of previous reports made with empirical conclusions which asserted that the carrying of firearms by US citizens results in a reduction of all kinds of crimes.
'The evidence, based on data between 1979-2010 suggests that laws on the right to carry arms are associated with substantially higher rates of both attacks and murders, notes the law professor of Stanford University, John Donohue, co-author of the report.
Although there's no federal law that allows people to carry guns when they are in public places, 50 states of the Union have adopted statutes that do allow citizens to carry the devices in public places -- with a permit from the local authorities, adds the specialist.
Since 2009 there have been over 50 massacres with guns in the US, the worst of which occurred in December 2012, at a school in Newtown, Connecticut, where 20 children and 6 adults died.
President Barack Obama launched an offensive in 2013 to regulate the sale and use of weapons in the country, but he faced strong opposition from right-wing groups and the National Rifle Association who lobbied on behalf of the makers of the devices.
Israeli agents training MKO terrorists in Jordan
Israel is training members of the anti-Iran terrorist Mujahedin-e Khalq Organization (MKO) in Jordan along the border with Saudi Arabia -- to carry out acts of terror inside Iran and neighboring Iraq, Press TV has learnt.
According to sources, who decline to be named, MKO terrorists are undergoing training on how to conduct terrorist operations in Iran and Iraq, and are receiving technical and information technology (IT) training from Israeli agents.
It is the first time it is revealed that anti-Iran MKO terrorists are being trained in Jordan along the border with Saudi Arabia.
Earlier reports revealed that radical extremists are receiving terror training in Jordan before being sent into Syria and Iraq to carry out bomb attacks and join the ranks of al-Qaeda-affiliated al-Nusra Front, ISIL Takfiri militants and other terrorist groups operating inside both violence-plagued Arab countries.
The MKO fled to Iraq in 1986, where it enjoyed the support of Iraq's executed dictator Saddam Hussein, and set up its camp near Iran's border.
The group is also known to have cooperated with Saddam Hussein in suppressing the 1991 uprisings in southern Iraq and carrying out the massacre of Iraqi Kurds.
The MKO has carried out numerous acts of violence against Iranian civilians and government officials.
Out of the nearly 17,000 Iranians killed in terrorist attacks since the victory of Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution, 12,000 have fallen victim to the acts of terror carried out by the MKO.
US "PIVOT TO ASIA" INCLUDES RE-ARMING JAPAN
The United States is set to provide Japan with a number of amphibious vehicles amid tensions between Tokyo and Beijing over disputed islands in the East China Sea.
A Defense Ministry official says on Monday that Japan plans to buy 52 amphibious vehicles in 2018, but it has not decided on a model yet, Stars and Stripes reports.
The military deal comes as the disputed islands, called Diaoyu in Chinese and Senkaku in Japanese, have been a source of tension between Japan and China for decades.
Japan claimed to nationalize a part of the island chain by buying them back from private ownership.
Last year, China established an Air Defense Identification Zone over the East China Sea, urging all military and commercial aircraft to inform the Chinese government before entering the region.
However, the United States and Japan violated the air zone several times after the declaration.
Japan and China have scrambled fighter jets over the islands during the past two years.
The Japanese government now wants to assemble a Marines-like unit within its Self-Defense Forces.
A spokesman from Japan’s Defense Ministry said the Amphibious Assault Vehicle (AAV-7) is among the country’s options.
“We have purchased four AAV-7s in fiscal 2013 and two AAV-7s in fiscal 2014 as samples for reference,” the unnamed spokesman said.
According to the spokesman, the Defense Ministry started reviewing options in April, but it has not decided on a model yet.
Forum for Peace in Bogota Next Sunday
Representatives of the party Union Patriótica have arranged a forum for peace in Colombia's capital to be held next Sunday, to promote the peace talks as a way out of the armed conflict --- and for social justice.
The meeting will be headed by Aida Avella, UP president, and the party invites Bogota citizens to take part in the forum to be held at the District University.
With these meetings we contribute to build a peaceful scenario - of reconciliation - which includes all the sectors hit by violence, says a UP press release.
As of right now - it adds - we must begin to build the peace that the country needs.
Internal confrontations, over the last 50 years, have left about six million victims, among them, 230 thousand dead.
Social activists and cultural groups have recently held an artistic event to paint the walls of Bogota with drawings & messages calling for peace.
Recently interrupted peace talks held by the government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-Peoples Army (FARC-EP), were pursuing an end to the armed conflict.
The negotiating process was stopped by president Juan Manuel Santos, after the capture of general Ruben Dario Alzate by the guerrilla movement in the department of Chocoacute.
Once the high official and those with him (lawyer Gloria Urrego and corporal Jorge Rodriguez) are freed, negotiations should be reestablished in Havana, the venue of the peace talks since 2012.
Their release is to occur next Sunday, states FARC-EP.
The Union Patriotica party regained its legal right to exist in 2013.
Created in 1985, the UP was a victim of political genocide in the 1990s.
Former Israeli President against Declaring Israel a Jewish State
Former president Shimon Peres joins the rejection of other Israeli important figures to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu''s motion declaring in law, the exclusively Jewish nature of the Israeli State.
"The law is motivated by political interests, will damage the image of the State, and will erode the Israeli democratic principles," says Peres at a ceremony attended by Netanyahu.
The current Israeli president, Reuven Rivlin, a member of the ultra right Zionist coalition Likud, as well as Netanyahu, expressed a similar opinion after Israel's General Attorney, Yehuda Weinstein, stated that the motion weakens the country's democratic nature.
For its part, the Palestinian Government condemns the measure for its racist nature, and lists among its consequences the loss of rights of Palestinian residents in Israeli territory, who are over one million 600,000, or 20% of the population.
The recognition by Palestinians of Israel as a Jewish State was one of the conditions imposed by Netanyahu to resume peace talks started in July 2013 and closed in April this year after the formation of a Government of unity in the still occupied territories.
US Fourth Infantry Division Will Deploy to Ukraine
Fort Carson''s 4th Infantry Division will be deployed in Ukraine at the begining of next January 2015, according to The Colorado Springs Gazette.
The Army hasn't said how long the division will be overseas, leaving the deployment indefinite and the day of departure unknown.
US European Command says the division will head to Europe in early 2015, to lead ground forces in "Operation Atlantic Resolve."
"Operation Atlantic Resolve is a continued demonstration of the US' commitment to the collective security of our NATO allies and support for our partners in Europe." European Command says in a news release.
"The operation will remain in place as long as required to reassure our allies."
Leaders from the division will run a series of training exercises to ensure that US forces are ready to fight alongside their partners in Europe and they are still developing plans for how they will support the open-ended troop commitment in Europe.
Fort Carson got the call as part of the Army's new "regionally-aligned forces" plan.
That assigns US based units to overseas areas of responsibility. In the division's case, troops in Colorado Springs will get specialized training in European languages and culture.
Russia's authorities consistently denounce the military reinforcement of NATO in Ukraine and other nearby countries, which present a threat to Russia's security.
FFIRI condemns Israel raid on
Palestine football association
The Football Federation of the Islamic Republic of Iran (FFIRI) has censured the latest Israeli raid on the Palestinian Football Association (PFA) in the occupied West Bank.
“The military campaign of the Zionist regime (of Israel) against the oppressed people of Gaza constantly preys on our mind, as the regime commits another act of folly in violation of sport's international laws and regulations,” the FFIRI says in a statement.
The statement terms Israel’s attack on the premises of the PFA as illogical and contrary to the rules set by FIFA, which specifically bar any form of state political involvement and/or military action in soccer.
The FFIRI calls on members of the international community, especially the governing bodies for football worldwide, to condemn the incident.
On Tuesday, FIFA and the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) decried the assault on the Palestinian soccer body.
On Monday, Israeli soldiers broke into the PFA's headquarters in the Palestinian town of al-Ram, situated eight kilometers (4.9 miles) north of al-Quds (Jerusalem), ransacked it and assaulted its employees.
PFA President Jibril Rajoub says the raid was an attempt by the Tel Aviv regime to undermine Palestinian sports, and calls for international condemnation of the incident.
Israel's regime has imposed travel restrictions on Palestinian footballers in the occupied West Bank and besieged Gaza Strip.
Despite all obstacles, Palestinians managed in May, to qualify for the 16th edition of the AFC Asian Cup, scheduled to be held in Australia from January the 9th to the 31st, in 2015.
US may be helping ISIL terrorists in Iraq: Officials
‘US pursues agenda of Syria destruction’ ‘US double game targets Syria gov’t’
Iraqi officials say that the US-led coalition against ISIL Takfiri terrorists may have intentionally dropped arms for the militant group, Press TV reports.
“The airstrikes cannot defeat ISIL and liberate the cities. We hear that in some places the warplanes drop weapons for ISIL... What we know is that the victories achieved on the ground are done by the Iraqi army and volunteers,” Iraqi State of Law Coalition MP Hanan Fatlawi told the Press TV correspondent in Baghdad.
On October 22, the US admitted that one of the weapon airdrops intended for Kurds fighting in the Syrian town of Kobani was almost certainly intercepted by ISIL terrorists.
“The presence of international advisers in such huge numbers is not necessary. We are in a war and this is not the time for training, it’s the time for fighting. I think this is an effort by the US to come back to Iraq,” Fatlawi added.
Washington has launched hundreds of airstrikes against the ISIL militants in Iraq and Syria, which analysts regard as part of the US attempts to gradually spread its influence in Iraq.
The Takfiri militants have been carrying out horrific acts of violence, including public decapitations and crucifixions, against all Syrian and Iraqi communities such as Shias, Sunnis, Kurds, Christians and Izadi Kurds.
The West and its regional allies, including Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey, are giving financial & military support to the militants.
EU AND US DON'T HAVE SOLUTION ON UKRAINE
The European Union & the United States have no idea what the final solution to the Ukraine crisis should be. Nor do they know the vector of movement towards this settlement, Vladimir Chizhov, Russia’s Ambassador to the European Union, said in a live interview aired by the state- owned Rossiya 24 television news channel on Wednesday.
“They (the European Union & the United States) are driving, or have already driven themselves, into a corner. They were very much unwilling to recognize their responsibility for what happened in Ukraine. It’s only now that sober-minded and reasonable voices have started breaking through the propaganda noise,” Chizhov said.
UN rights chief: Disproportionate number of blacks killed by police
The United Nations human rights chief voices concern over “institutionalized discrimination” and the “disproportionate” number of young African Americans being killed by police in the United States.
“I am deeply concerned at the disproportionate number of young African Americans who die in encounters with police officers, as well as the disproportionate number of African Americans in US prisons and the disproportionate number of African Americans on death row,” says Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, in a statement.
His comments come after a grand jury in Missouri fails to indict a white police officer for the fatal shooting of unarmed African American teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson.
The 12-member jury, including nine whites and three African Americans, had been meeting in secret for months on whether probable cause existed to bring charges against Darren Wilson.
The decision has sparked a fresh firestorm of protests across the United States.
The UN rights chief warns that there is a deep lack of confidence in the fairness of the justice system in the United States, and urges the authorities to thoroughly examine how “race- related issues are affecting law enforcement and the administration of justice, both at the federal and state levels.”
To many protesters, Brown’s death is symbolic of broader racial injustice in America. In 2012, African American man Trayvon Martin was gunned down by a white Florida neighbor- hood watch --- later acquitted of murder.
50 civilians dead in US-led airstrikes against ISIS in Syria – UN
The US-led coalition against the Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) in Syria has killed 865 people since the start of the airstrikes in late September, at least 50 of them civilians, a new report from the UN chief reveals.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon warns that the strikes alone cannot defeat the militant Islamist group and cites estimates of civilian casualties caused by the bombing.
“The international coalition continued airstrikes against ISIL in Syria on a near-daily basis with reports of some 865 people killed, including 50 civilians, in Aleppo, Deir ez-Zor, Hasakeh, Idlib & Raqqa since strikes began,” the report says.
Meanwhile, “armed opposition and designated terrorist groups continue shelling government- controlled areas, including in civilian-populated areas... including in Damascus, Homs, Hama and Quneitra,” according to the report.
Ban warns that “a military campaign alone [against IS] could lead to further radicalization and spark a cycle of renewed violence,” adding that Islamic State is intensifying its recruitment efforts inside and outside of Syria.
The document focuses on the July 14 resolution, which approved delivery of aid to rebel-held areas in Syria without the government's approval through four border crossings. Ban confirms that the UN team has been able to access an average of 66 hard to reach areas a month since the resolution was passed, up from an average of 38 per month in the four months prior to the vote.
Following the report, UN humanitarian chief Valerie Amos told the Security Council that an estimated 12.2 million people need assistance in Syria – a rise from 10.8 million in July. At the same time, Amos said that aid coming in from Turkey and Jordan is making a difference and called on the UNSC to extend the authorization that expires on January 9th.
Critics of the US-led bombing warfare against ISIS in Iraq and Syria assert that not only is this tactic ineffective – it also encourages more people to join radical groups.
“It's completely unsuccessful from the standpoint of destroying ISIS, but it’s an enormous success story for ISIS. It is actually helping the Sunni Islamists recruit new people – over a thousand every month from across Asia, Africa, and the Middle East,” retired US Army Colonel Douglas MacGregor explains to RT.
According to MacGregor, Washington should not step into the conflict and should leave it at the regional level.
Russian Navy checks Nuclear Capability and Adds New Units
The Russian Navy this year has tested its nuclear deterrent and strengthened its potential with new naval units, say its senior officers.
Admiral Vladimir Korolev, head of the Northern Fleet, says that the squadron in charge of the atomic deterrent reaffirms its ability to fulfill the assigned missions.
Korolev highlights the high combat capability demonstrated this year.
He commends the missions carried out effectively by Navy troops in repaired or upgraded submarines.
This year, the Pacific Fleet has already received the first 10 of 12 craft which increase its potential power, according to the spokesperson for the East Military District, Captain Roman Martov.
It's the first time that the squadron has received this number of new ships in a year, since the collapse of the Soviet Union, says the official.
The Pacific Fleet will also receive tugboats RB-406 and RB-407.
This number of special and auxiliary units enhances the combat effectiveness of the squadron, concludes the official.
Russia is modernizing its arsenal amid the growing hostility of the United States and NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization), that has already deployed forces and arms in countries bordering Russia, a situation that didn't exist in the worst moments of the Cold War.
U.S. defense secretary resigns
Obama on Monday announced the resignation of Chuck Hagel as the country's defense secretary, making the first change to his cabinet after the Democrats' heavy losses in midterm elections.
Iranian nuclear talks extended by 7 months
The sides will meet again in December to discuss the tough Iranian nuclear issue, and the expert- level meeting will start soon, aimed at a political deal within four months, US Secretary of State, John Kerry, told reporters on Monday.
Kerry said that expert-level talks will start soon. "In fact we will have meetings in December," he noted.
Speaking at a press conference, Kerry said they had achieved "real and substantial progress" on Iran's nuclear issue in the past negotiations and this lays the foundations for further talks in the next months.
"These last days in Vienna, we have made real and substantial progress, and we have seen new ideas surface," Kerry said.
After a week of difficult talks, the parties involved decided to extend Iran's nuclear talks by seven months, aiming to reach a political agreement within the next four months, Kerry said.
Kerry stressed that even though the talks are not finalized "the world is safer than it was just one year ago."
"We are closer to a deal," he said, adding that a comprehensive agreement is "possible" and "desirable."
Iran has 19,000 centrifuges installed, of which 10,190 are operating. Most are IR-1, an old model centrifuge, and Iran has also installed around 1,000 IR-2M centrifuges, which are assessed to be 3 to 5 times more efficient than IR-1 centrifuges.
Israel openly questions the nuclear talks, fearing that a "bad nuclear deal" could undermine its security.It leaves as "open" the possibility of military action against Iran's nuclear facilities.
Recent nuclear talks between Iran and world powers over the country's nuclear issue have been " steps forward," Iran's President Hassan Rouhani said Monday.
"Although in the recent nuclear talks we could not finalize a comprehensive deal, I could say that forward steps have been taken in the run-up for a final agreement," Rouhani said in an interview with IRIB TV following Iran's agreement with the world powers in Vienna on Monday to extend the nuclear talks for another seven months.
The White House warned on Monday that additional sanctions on Iran would be "counterproductive"..... as the Islamic republic and major powers had agreed to extend their nuclear talks for seven more months.
"We continue to believe that adding on sanctions while negotiations are ongoing would be counterproductive," spokes- person Josh Earnest said, in response to some lawmakers clamoring for more sanctions on Tehran after negotiators failed to close a final deal by Monday's previous deadline after long intense talks in Vienna, Austria.
Obama’s U-Turn on Afghanistan: US Combat Role Secretly Extended
US President Barack Obama has secretly signed an order which allows US troops to be involved in combat operations in Afghanistan throughout 2015.
The order will authorize American forces to continue their missions against the Taliban and other militant groups, the New York Times reports.
The new order also allows for air support - from US jets, bombers and drones, for Afghan combat missions, according to the report,.
The Times quotes an administration official as saying that US forces will not carry out "offensive missions" on the Taliban in 2015.
“We will no longer target belligerents solely because they are members of the Taliban,” the official said. “To the extent that Taliban members directly threaten the United States and coalition forces in Afghanistan or provide direct support to Al Qaeda, however, we will take appropriate measures to keep Americans safe.”
Obama’s new decision has been made in recent weeks with his top national security advisors.
Previously, the president said that US-led NATO combat operations would finish at the end of this year.
The NATO follow up mission, to take over on January 1st with 9,800 US troops and about 3,000 soldiers from Germany, Italy and other member nations, was to focus on supporting Afghan forces as they take on the Taliban, in parallel with US counter-terrorism operations.
Russian FM Urges Recognition of Palestinian State The Russian Foreign Affairs Minister, Sergei Lavrov today urges an end to the long armed conflict with Israel, and the illegal occupation of Palestinian territories, and presses as a solution, recognition of the Palestinian State.
During his address to the meeting of the Council for Foreign Policy and Defense, Lavrov says the question of a Palestinian state should no longer be frozen.
"It is important to understand that problems can not continue in deep freeze all the time, while the Arab-Israeli conflict is still at a standstill, notes the head of Russian diplomacy.
The situation in the Palestinian territories, Syria, Libya, Iraq and Yemen and the overall convulsive situation in the Middle East, was discussed the previous evening, by Lavrov and his counterpart from Saudi Arabia, Saud al Faisal, during official talks in Moscow.
The leaders of the Palestinian Authority demand that the UN Security Council force Israel to end the illegal occupation of Palestinian territories in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, as a factor in the escalation of confrontation and the rise in civilian deaths on both sides.
West Hopes for a Change of Regime in Russia Says FM
The West has the deliberate intention of destroying Russia's economy and changing the government regime and does not hide it today, stresses Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov.
The purpose of Western sanctions is to change the regime, and it does not even hide it, stresses Lavrov, in his address to the assembly of the Council for Foreign policy and defense.
He says Western leaders speak publicly that restrictive measures should be such so that they can destroy our economy and raise popular protests in the country.
In the election campaign of President Vladimir Putin for a third term, Russian pro-Western opposition parties called, in February 2012, for massive demonstrations to be held in a so-called anti-Putin Million March, in May, after his presidential inauguration.
Lavrov considers the West is trying to act in a 'thirst for widening the geopolitical space', as traders fears of losing their benefits are obvious.
The foreign minister repeats that the sanctions imposed by the US, EU and some allies are also detrimental to the promoting countries, besides destroying the main principles of international economic relations, he adds.
He also denies that such instruments of pressure, used in other global contexts, has achieved the political isolation of Russia, which is revealed as having multiple links with many countries, all over the world.
Salam on Lebanon's Independence Day:
"Country holds fast so far, We support any means to release kidnapped soldiers -- As long as they respect Lebanon's rights
PM Tammam Salam decries the Lebanon's current situation, contrasting today's leaders with the leading figures during independence, but accepts that the country's present state results from the accumulated malpractices of many years that have passed since.
"Nobody is exempt from the situation Lebanon is currently suffering from, but responsibility falls upon the leaders," Salam tells "Voice of Lebanon" radio, on Independence Day.
Salam adds that he has been trying to put things on the right track, but "it is tough and hard". "Despite that, the present situation in Lebanon is sound -- so far," the PM says, expressing his concern over immature political performances by some leaders, which might disrupt finding any political solutions to the current crisis and could drive the country to a deadlock. Commenting on claims that it takes more than agreements to build a country, Salam says: "In a diversified country like Lebanon, agreements among its citizens are basic to keep it healthy." Talking about what lies behind the failure of to reach a Lebanese-Lebanese consensus, Salam notes that foreign countries play an important role in the achievement of such settlements, adding that foreign forces are currently occupied in more dangerous issues of a higher priority than Lebanon.
Salam stresses the importance of internal agreement among all parties for "no party can triumph over the other," underscoring that agreement has obviously recognisable characteristics, primarily dialogue, open- ness and recognition of the other.
Talking about UN Security Council statements which call on the Lebanese to speed up the election of a new President, Salam says: "It seems that the international referees are keen to treat Lebanon's situation in a positive manner."
Responding to a question about the extent to which Speaker Nabih Berri's call for dialogue between the "Future" movement and Hizbullah has succeeded, Salam confirms that Speaker Berri "enjoys a special place that enables him to follow up on this issue… and employ his capabilities to find appropriate solutions."
Talking about the economic situation, he considers that the power void negatively affects the economic situation, not to mention the repercussions on Lebanon of Syria's population displacement.
Tackling the kidnapped security members and soldiers' issue, Salam stresses: "the cabinet's permanent keenness to adopt all means possible to set our sons free," supporting any means that might contribute to releasing them -- provided it respects the state's dignity and rights.
Talking about the possibility of reaching an agreement with Iran on its nuclear file and the impact of that on Lebanon, Salam confirms that any agreement of the kind will reflect positively on all countries and would result in more stability in the region.
US Escalates its Failed Strategy in Syria
Turkey and the United States have recently signed an agreement to train and equip 2,000 fighters of the "moderate" Syrian opposition, says Turkish newspaper Hurriyet Daily News.
Training these forces of the so-called Free Syrian Army (FSA) will begin “late December” at Turkey's Kirsehir Training Centre, 150 klmtrs southeast of the Turkish capital, Ankara, adds the newspaper --- quoting unidentified sources.
The training will be carried out by the Turkish and US military, but the equipment and cost of the training will be entirely paid by the US, says Hürriyet. The final details of the plan were agreed at a meeting between the military leaders of the two countries.
Shortly after, The Washington Post indicated that the US government has been studying plans to increase the CIA’s role in arming and training of “moderate” (a term meaning they are willing to surrender their country to the Western powers) terrorists in Syria, a move aimed at escalating covert US support.
The Pentagon is preparing to establish its own training bases, US officials say, opines the Post: “The proposed CIA buildup would expand a covert mission that's grown substantially over the past year”.” The agency now arms and trains about 400 rebels each month” and a similar number is expected “to be trained by the Pentagon when its program reaches full strength late next year”.
However, this strategy is now facing its first obstacles, writes Yusuf Fernandez on al Manar.
Firstly, it has led ISIL and the al-Qaeda-affiliated al Nusra Front to sign an alliance, fighting both the Syrian Army and the US-backed forces. In a meeting held on November 2nd in the northern Syrian town of Atareb, both groups, the largest ones in the Syrian terrorist camp, agreed not to fight against each another and to cooperate against their common enemies.
Before the US started its airstrikes in Syria in September, ISIL and al Nusra Front were fierce enemies, fighting each other for leadership of the insurgency.
The US air war targeting both groups has persuaded them to cooperate against a mutual enemy.
Their alliance, Yusuf Fernandez on al Manar says, presents more difficulties for the US strategy against ISIL. He says the union of both groups will make them more effective against US-backed rebels, who are already considered to be weak and disorganized.
al Nusra Front has already almost wiped out the Syrian Revolutionaries Front and the Hazm Movement, two rebel groups armed and trained by the United States.
On November 1st, SRF surrendered after the fall of Deir Sinbal, its main stronghold in Syria, and agreed to hand over all their weapons and bases to the Nusra Front.
Another dozen rebel-controlled villages in the Idlib province were also captured. “As a movement, the SRF is effectively finished," says Aymen al-Tammimi, a Syrian analyst, to the Daily Telegraph. “Nusra has driven them out of their Idlib & Hama strongholds.”
Captured US weapons included anti-tank missiles and GRAD rockets, adding to the sizable stock of US weapons now in the hands of ISIL and The Nusra Front in Iraq and Syria.
Despite being small factions within the terrorist camp in Syria, the US gave SRF and the Hazm Movement, large amounts of advanced weapons.
The very next day, the Harakat Movement also surrendered their military bases and weapons to al Nusra Front, when the latter seized the villages it controlled in northern Idlib province.
ISIL sent 100 fighters to help al Nusra Front to take over the town of Khan al Sunbul in northern Syria but their intervention became unnecessary because the Hazm Movement surrendered without fighting and 65 of its militants defected to al Nusra Front.
al Nusra Front also took over the town of Minnig in Aleppo Province, on the outskirts of the city. Its fighters ordered all other US- backed rebels there to disband and turn their weapons over to them.
As a result, there are already only two effective fighting forces in Aleppo province now: The al Nusra Front and Syria's Army.
Another report by AP, confirms that the “moderate rebels” that Washington is boosting “are instead hemorrahaging on multiple fronts". Some of their leaders have been killed.
“This is the end of the Free Syrian Army," says Alaa al-Deen, an opposition activist in Idlib, of Western-backed militant groups.
He adds that - in recent weeks - dozens of leaders of the “moderate” terrorist groups have been eliminated.
For the US, Yusuf Fernandez on al Manar says, the defeat of these groups, which had been trying to present themselves as successful examples for the US in Syria, is a humiliating blow, at a time when the US administration is increasing the training of "its" rebels.
The Syrian population is also fed up with these terrorists, who are supported by the US, Turkey and Saudi Arabia.
While Washington has been selling the idea that these people, who largely share the extremist ideology of their new enemies, are “freedom fighters”, Syrians see them as just terrorists, bandits, and brutal exploiters.
In Douma, the main rebel stronghold in Eastern Gouta, near Damascus, several clashes occurred on November 14th, after an attack by inhabitants of the city, against a grocery store controlled by a rebel group.
US and Saudi patronage of the “moderate rebel groups” has convinced Syrians that they are just mercenaries who seek to impose foreign control over Syria, and thus put an end to the prominent role that the country has played in the Middle East for decades.
Therefore, Syrians will fight these forces in order to maintain their independence.
US support for terrorist groups in Syria also violates international law, which prohibits states from giving aid to foreign insurgents who seek to overthrow legal governments in other countries.
In this sense, US actions against Syria are a threat to the whole international community and the international legal framework. They are also a proxy war against Syria´s allies, especially Iran, Russia and China.
The new US plans in Syria, instead of drawing the right lessons from failure --- the first of which is that any successful strategy against terrorism in Syria needs the cooperation of the Syrian Army and State, which are the most effective forces in the anti-ISIS fight --- the US Administration sticks once again to the failed strategy of supporting non-existent “moderate rebels”.
It means that there is not a new strategy, but an escalation that has been going on in recent months and which will become a more serious failure for US' foreign policy.
Russia Warns of Signs of Change in US Policy Towards Ukraine Russia's Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Alexander Lukashevich says today that the visit of US Vice President 'Joe' Biden to Kiev might mean a change of direction into open military support to that country.
Lukashevich considers as a serious sign, recent pronouncements in Washington about US administration plans to provide lethal weapons to Ukraine, which would mean a clear, direct violation of the Geneva agreements, he says.
The diplomat says that Moscow paid attention to the trip to Washington of representatives of the 'volunteer" battalions, which took part in the 'cleansing' operations in Donbass, to ask for military assistance from the US government.
In his opinion, the public announcements of the White House and Biden's visit, might give signs of a cardinal change in US policy regarding the conflict in southeastern Ukraine.
He recalls that the Geneva declaration in April, focussing on the end of armed confrontation and the start of a broad national dialogue, was reached with US participation.
If a change in that policy occurs, any military support will be a destabilizing factor leading to a modification of the balance of power in the Ukrainian conflict, he says, adding that military support to Kiev will ignore the basic principles of the Organization for Security & cooperation in Europe, accepted by all of its members, regarding the transfer of weapons in conflict areas.
Biden recently told Ukrainian newspaper Den that he had many important announcements to be addressed to the Ukrainian government and people when he arrived in Kiev for his visit.
He was scheduled to arrive in Kiev last night with Assistant Secretary of State for Eurasian Affairs, Victoria Nuland.
Zionist Settlers Storm Al-Aqsa Mosque, Clashes Reported in WB
Zionist settlers, backed by occupation police, stormed al-Aqsa Mosque yesterday in al-Quds (Jerusalem), sparking clashes with Palestinians who reject any desecration of the holy mosque.
Media reports say Palestinians intercepted the Zionist settlers, backed by occupation police. Fierce clashes were reported at the scene, injuring dozens of Palestinians.
Clashes were reported in other neighborhoods across the West Bank, as Israeli occupation police fired live bullets and tear gas at the Palestinian civilians.
The IDF also raided the houses of the two Palestinians who carried out operation in a Jerusalem synagogue on Tuesday, in a bid to destroy the houses. But Palestinian residents prevented the occupation police from doing so.
Tensions in the West Bank are rising, especially in the occupied city of al-Quds, where extremist Zionists have been calling for Jews to pray in the holy al-Aqsa Mosque, a desecration that is totally rejected by Palestinians and Muslims.
Turkey doomed to fall under Erdogan: Ex-president
Former Turkish President Abdullah Gul slams the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, warning that Ankara is doomed to collapse, if it continues its foreign policy on Iraq and Syria.
Gul criticizes the Turkish president’s policies on the chaotic situation in neighboring Syria, saying: “I am sure that one day (God forbid) the chickens of Erdogan’s past follies in Syria will come home to roost."
The former Turkish leader goes on to say that Ankara’s spy agencies have played a key role in the transportation of the Takfiri militants fighting the government of Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad, ever since the crisis erupted in Syria in 2011.
Erdogan’s strategic blunders in neighboring Syria and Iraq are behind the emergence of the ISIL Takfiri terrorists, who're committing atrocities in those areas under their control in both countries, according to Gul.
He slams the US-led “idiots’ club” coalition currently carrying out airstrikes against ISIL hideouts in Iraq and Syria.
Gul adds that some Saudi-backed terrorist organizations operating against Syria, such as the al-Qaeda-affiliated al-Nusra Front, have been working with Western spy agencies, including the CIA.
He adds that mutual cooperation existed
“between Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MÄ°T)” & the ISIL extremist terrorists.
The ISIL terrorists entered Iraq in June. The violence is seen as a spillover of militancy from Syria, where Takfiri groups fighting the Damascus government are enjoying support from the US and its allies, including Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey.
OSCE monitors says Ukrainian troops shot in their direction twice in past two days...
One incident took place on Wednesday near the village of Marinovka, the other one was reported on Tuesday in the town of Debaltsevo
Ukrainian troops opened fire at monitors from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) twice in the last two days, states the regular daily up- date of OSCE's Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine made public Wednesday.
The OSCE monitors were unhurt.
"On November 19th, at “12:38hrs, an OSCE convoy composed of two vehicles was travelling east from Kurakhovo (30km west of Donetsk) towards the city of Donetsk. Near the area of Mariinka, about 80m ahead of the convoy, there was a flat-bed cargo truck carrying a large green wooden box, with 2 uniformed personnel on board wearing helmets.
"The SMM observed tactical marks of two white vertical lines on the tail-gate of the vehicle and on the passenger door. One of the soldiers stood up and fired two shots in the direction of the OSCE convoy. The bullets struck about 2m from the second OSCE vehicle. The SMM staff travelling in this vehicle heard sharp sounds originating from road or bullet fragments impacting on their car.”
On November 18th, the SMM was traveling towards Perevalsk, when it came under gunfire. They report that the SMM “was not allowed to pass” through a checkpoint controlled by Ukrainian forces at the entrance of a bridge in a northeastern suburb of the town of Debaltsevo. “Instead, the SMM was told to take a long roundabout route to bypass the bridge,” the report says.
Returning from Perevalsk, the mission came to the bridge & stopped at another checkpoint directly opposite the one on the other side of the bridge.
“As the SMM stopped in expectation of a further command, a warning shot was fired by CP staff in the direction of the OSCE car,” the document says.
Israel slams Spain's vote for Palestinian recognition
The Israeli Foreign Ministry has harshly criticized the Spanish parliament for passing a non-binding resolution calling for recognition of a Palestinian state, saying such measures "push away" the chances of reaching an agreement.
"The Spanish parliament's declaration only pushes away further the chance of reaching an agreement between Israel and the Palestinians, because it encourages the Palestinians to take extreme positions," the ministry says in its statement.
The ministry also slams the timing of the vote, which took place Tuesday evening, the same day in which a murderous militant attack at a synagogue in Jerusalem, killed five Israelis.
Spain's parliament passed the symbolic motion, calling upon the government to recognize a Palestinian state, with 319 parliament members voting for it and just two voting against it.
"It's not binding," Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo told media in Belgium, the day before the vote:
"It does not set a timeline for the recognition, it gives the government the margin to proceed with the recognition, when it feels it will be opportune," he added.
Both the UK and Irish parliaments made similar non- binding resolutions last month, after Sweden, was the first major Western European country to announce its acknowledgement of a Palestinian state, in October.
French politicians vote on a similar bill next week.
Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu criticizes the wave of symbolic recognition of a Palestinian state and blames the countries that want to "reward" Palestinians for their "constant incitement" via the Palestinian Authority, and urges the international community to denounce terror.
Peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians collapsed in April and the Palestinian Authority has been seeking diplomatic avenues to end the occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
Israel faces a diplomatic crisis, with its relations with the US at a low point, and growing criticism over its ongoing expansion of settlements in the West Bank and east Jerusalem.
The European Union is considering imposing sanctions on Israel over its settlement policy.
In addition, Israel has been under scrutiny for its offensive in the recent Gaza War, which killed over 2,000 Palestinians: mostly civilians.
Extraterritorial Threat of Vulture Funds Denounced in France The ruling by a US judge to force Argentina to pay a disproportionate sum to speculators is now a threat to EVERY States'' sovereignty, several French experts state.
Judge Thomas Griesa, from a New York court, has sentenced Buenos Aires to comply with the demands of so-called vulture funds, which bought Argentina's public debts at less than 15 percent of its real value -- but now plan to collect all of it.
According to Pierre Salama, professor emeritus of the University of Paris, it is a decision that goes beyond the scope of a dispute between a small group of voracious creditors and the Argentinean State, and is now a real threat to all countries.
If Argentina had accepted Griesa's ruling in the United States, its sovereignty would have disappeared, said the experts during a debate about the issue held at the House of Latin America in the French capital.
For his part, the economist Dominique Plihon said it is another case of juridical extraterritoriality committed by US justice.
The United States imposes its norms on others, although the entire Argentinean debt affected by the demand from the speculators isn't on US territory, he noted.
He recalled that the case was criticized at several levels, such as the United Nations General Assembly and the Human Rights Council in Geneva.
Between 2005 - 2010, Argentina successfully concluded negotiations to restructure 93% of its debt, a landmark in international economic relations.
Carlos Quenan, a professor at the University of Sorbonne Nouvelle, says the predatory acts of the vulture funds demand a permanent global solution.
Jose Eduardo Weisfreid, of the executive committee of France-Amérique Latine, said that Argentina's public debt is an inheritance from the US-backed military dictatorship and neoliberal government of President Carlos Menem, which plunged the country into poverty.
Independent report saying bombings of IS positions kill civilians alarming — Russian FM
“The fact of civilian casualties resulting from UN-unauthorized bombings of Islamic State positions, quoted by the Independent International Commission of Inquiry for Syria under the UN Council for Human Rights, are alarming, the Russian Foreign Ministry says.
“On November 14, the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Republic, established by the UN Human Rights Council, published a report entitled Rule of Terror: Living under ISIL (Islamic State's former name was Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant). It was drawn up at Russia’s request and supported by 17 other states,” the Foreign Ministry says.
“One cannot but feel concern over the fact that the Commission mentions civilian deaths in the course of UN-unauthorized bombings of ISIL positions in Syria by the United States and its allies,” the Foreign Ministry says.
“We fully share the Commission’s call for the resumption of intra-Syrian talks with the aim of normalization of the political situation in the Syrian Arab Republic,” Russia's Foreign Ministry says.
“Joint work against terrorism must become one of the key topics of a dialogue between the Syrian government and a credible delegation of the Syrian opposition."
Greeks march to commemorate 1973 uprising on International Student's Day
Thousands of Greeks have taken to the streets of the capital, Athens, to commemorate the 1973 student uprising against the country's US-backed military dictatorship.
Over 20,000 demonstrators took part in the peaceful march on Monday, marking the 41st anniversary of the National Technical University of Athens (Athens Polytechnic) uprising, which began on November 14th, 1973, and ended in bloodshed in the early morning of November 17.
The annual rally in which the students, joined by trade union members, marched from the Polytechnic University to the US embassy, was policed by some 7,000 officers.
Greek officials closed down most of the city’s universities and banned all sit-ins.
As part of security measures in the city, the authorities closed off major streets and underground stations.
Athens' Law School and Athens University of Economics were also cordoned off by security police.
On November 13th, police forces gathered outside the Athens Law School and Athens University of Economics after a decision by the universities’ authorities not to shut down the schools ahead of the November 17th anniversary.
Brief clashes broke out when the students tried to enter the school building, with police using tear gas to disperse them.
The November 17th anniversary marks the student uprising against Greece's military rule in 1973, to which police and the Greek military responded by opening fire on protesters and bystanders, killing hundreds of them.
EU discusses sanctions against eastern Ukraine
The Council of the European Union (EU) on Monday discussed more sanctions targeting eastern Ukraine.
No more sanctions were announced against Russia. The EU said in a statement that they will continue to closely follow the situation in Ukraine and "act accordingly".
Tension has escalated since the Kiev authorities decided to repeal a law granting special status to Donetsk and Lugansk regions, which raised fears that an ongoing prisoners-of-war swap may be disrupted.
The EU called on all parties to follow the Minsk agreements, underlining the need to intensify talks within the framework of the Trilateral Contact Group.
The Kiev government and the leaders in the south East signed a ceasefire deal on September 5th in the Belarusian capital city of Minsk, to de-escalate tensions and release of hundreds of prisoners-of-war.
The Minsk agreement was signed by representatives of Ukraine, Russia, and the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk people's republics under the OSCE deal.
Israel Assures Expansion in Jerusalem "Will Continue" Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman says Israel WILL continue expanding in East Jerusalem, despite the fact that it violates international law & compromises the remote possibility of an agreement with Palestinians.
"We will never accept the definition of the constructions in Jerusalem as settlements. We will not admit any limits to construction in all areas of Jerusalem," says the minister in a joint press conference with the German Foreign Minister, Frank Walter Steinmeier.
In 1980, Israel annexed East Jerusalem (Al Quds to Muslims), and declared it as its "eternal, indivisible capital", in a resolution that has been considered as illegal by the international community, which also condemns the construction of Israeli settlements in the West Bank.
A few days ago, Tel Aviv allowed the building of 200 homes in Jerusalem, shortly after beginning the process of constructing 167 other houses.
In recent weeks, the city, which is sacred to the three major monotheistic religions, Islam, Christianity and Judaism, was the scene of clashes between local people and occupying troops, due to outrages against the Al Aqsa Mosque, one of the three most sacred places for Muslims.
AID FOR FELLOW COMRADES
Russia’s humanitarian convoy, which took aid to Donetsk city in eastern Ukraine, has returned to Russia’s southern Rostov region, Oleg Voronov, a deputy head of the Russian Emergencies Ministry’s National Crisis Management Centre, says.
Early on Sunday, over 50 lorries delivered 350 tonnes of humanitarian aid to Donetsk. It took several hours to unload them.
“Over 50 lorries crossed Russia's border and returned to the Rostov region empty,” Voronov says, adding that "no incidents" were reported during the mission.
Earlier, another 20 lorries returned to Rostov region -- leaving 100 tonnes of humanitarian help in Lugansk, also in eastern Ukraine.
Kiev's authorities have driven Ukraine into an energy crisis --- just as winter kicks in.
Shortly after a gas war over Kiev’s reluctance to pay Moscow for previously supplied fuel... Ukraine is in a real crisis over a coal scandal.
A high-profile deal for the importation of coal from S Africa through the London-registered company, Steel Mont Trading Ltd. has fallen through with a resounding crash.
After the first 250,000 tons reached Ukraine, Kiev stopped paying. Steel Mont Trading Ltd, which purchased the coal for Ukraine with a loan taken on especially for the purpose, had to enter then settle up with the lender bank. So the company refused to send any more coal from South Africa, to avoid further damage to its reputation.
Ukraine's Prosecutor-General’s Office is now taking criminal proceedings on the suspicion of embezzlement of state funds.
Fuel and Energy Minister Yuriy Prodan and the head of the Ukrinterenergo company, Vladimir Zinkevich, have been questioned.
'Friendly' Poland is refusing to supply coal. Its Economics Minister, J Piechoczinski, has said publicly, that Ukraine would like to have Polish coal for nothing.
Kiev adviser Prodan:
“the coal supply situation looks really dangerous and the country will have great trouble getting through the autumn and winter period.”
He says Kiev has no option left other than to try to purchase coal from Russia or the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic.
At the Cabinet meeting the Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk asked if there was any possibility of importing coal from Australia or the United States. Prodan replied that finding an agent in these countries would take no less than six weeks -- and winter freezing is just around the corner.
The leaders of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic say supplies to Ukraine are ruled out, as long as hostilities go on.
The Donetsk Republic’s Thermo-electric Industry Minister, Aleksey Granovsky, dismisses the possibility of supplying fuel to anyone the Donetsk Republic sees as an aggressor.
Besides, Kiev has for many months paid no wages to coalminers, and has also frozen the coalmines’ bank accounts.
After the recent decision to stop paying pensions & grants to Donbass residents, Yatsenyuk will have problems conducting fuel negotiations with Donetsk.
The Russian Energy Ministry says it sees no barrier to supplying coal to Ukraine "on a commercial basis".
Until recently Ukraine was Europe’s third largest coal producer. In 2013 Donbass cut 83,600 tons, but a military crackdown on the South-East, has now stopped the operation of 145 pits.
Instead of looking for a way out of the coal crisis, Yatsenyuk has ordered the Security Services to investigate “who's behind the re-division of the coal market.”
“The problems with supplying coal to freezing Ukraine is a precise replica of Kiev’s relations with Russian gas provider Gazprom. The Kiev authorities want to have fuel now, but prefer to pay sometime in the future, or not at all.
"Having received the first consignment of coal from South Africa they turned for more. In South Africa they were told: ‘Come on, guys, you haven't paid for the first one yet.’
Further supplies were cancelled,” an adviser to the chief of the Russian government’s Centre of Analysis, Vladimir Averchev, says.
“The authorities in Kiev hoped that the whole world would rush to rebuild Ukraine into a shop-window for the ‘free world’. But neither the EU nor the IMF have even the slightest intention of indulging in charity,” he says.
“In their policies towards Kiev, both the EU & the IMF proceed from their own analysis of the overall political situation there.
"3 weeks after elections to the Verkhovna Rada, no government coalition has been formed yet. A standoff between President Poroshenko and PM Yatsenyuk is getting worse. No economic reforms are in sight. The military conflict in the southeast of the country keeps smouldering. The treasury is empty. The authorities are unable to honor their liabilities.
"In a situation like this, Ukraine may well suffer not just an energy crisis, but an utter collapse,” Averchev says.
Egypt briefly reopens Rafah
Egypt has decided to briefly reopen the Rafah border crossing to the Gaza Strip, which has been under an Israeli siege for over 7 years.
The Rafah crossing, which was closed by Egypt after a deadly bombing last October, will reopen starting from Tuesday to Thursday, according to a statement by the Palestinian embassy in the Cairo, issued on Sunday the 18th of January.
Cairo had announced its intention to temporarily reopen the crossing last week. Egypt's officials then decided to keep the crossing closed after an Egyptian border control officer was killed by militants in the Sinai Peninsula.
Last month, the crossing was opened for three days and around 1,200 people were allowed to travel through.
Analysts call Israel's blockade of Gaza illegal, and accuse Egypt of acting as Israel’s proxy by maintaining Tel Aviv’s years-long blockade of the Palestinian enclave.
Gaza has been blockaded by Israel since June 2007, which has collapsed the standard of living, brought unprecedented levels of unemployment, and gifted the Palestinians unrelenting poverty.
The blockade, which has cut off the territory from the world, has led to an economic and human crisis in the densely-populated strip.
Algeria team donating money earned at Brazil World Cup to people of Gaza
Algeria's World Cup team has decided to donate the team salary of $9 million they received after their Round of 16 match with Germany, to the people of Gaza, states a squad forward player.
OIC Chief Calls for access to Al-Aqsa Mosque
The Secretary-General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Iyad Ameen Madani, calls for access to Al-Aqsa Mosque, in an effort to confront Zionist policies aimed at Judaizing Al-Quds (occupied East Jerusalem).
Addressing a joint press conference with the Palestinian Foreign Minister, Riyad al-Maliki, Madani says the OIC is committed to offering its political and financial support, to the Palestinian people.
He goes on to call for the formation of a legal committee tasked with bringing the Zionist entity to account, over what he says are its habitually "racist" violations.
"The Palestinian cause and Al-Quds, are a top priority for the OIC," he says.
Madani says OIC foreign ministers will meet in the Saudi city of Jeddah in June, for talks on the means to provide support for Al-Quds, and the Palestinian cause, in particular.
Al-Maliki, for his part, calls on the pan-Islamic body to intervene to stop the Zionist regime's violations in Al-Quds and Al-Aqsa Mosque.
In recent months, groups of extremist Jewish settlers, often accompanied by Zionist security forces, have repeatedly forced their way into the Al-Aqsa complex.
The frequent violations anger Palestinian Muslims, and occasionally lead to violent confrontations.
For Muslims, Al-Aqsa represents the world's third holiest site. Jews, for their part, refer to the area as the "Temple Mount," claiming that it was the site of two prominent Jewish temples, in ancient times.
Venezuela signs deal to provide Palestinian Authority with oil
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and his Venezuelan counterpart, Nicholas Maduro, now have an agreement which will see 240,000 barrels of oil and diesel sent to the Palestinian Authority by state-owned company Petróleos de Venezuela.
During his three-day visit to the oil rich South American nation, which sits on the world’s largest oil reserves, Abbas thanked Maduro for his support.
“Thank you Venezuela for helping to break the monopoly that Israel has over our economy. Thank you Venezuela for responding to our needs. Thank you Venezuela, for being available to continue to lend Palestinian people more support in their fight,” said Abbas.
Maduro reiterated his support for Palestine and its desire to be a fully independent state.
“We welcome the Palestinian people and the Arabs. Our people support your right to a land of prosperity. Today, Petro Palestine has been born,” Maduro said.
Maduro also agreed to support the Palestinian Authority's request to be granted observer status in three Latin American organizations: UNASUR, ALBA, and CELAC.
The leaders also announced a number of bilateral projects, including Palestinian medical students possibly studying at Venezuelan universities.
While in Caracas, Abbas also visited the grave of Hugo Chavez, Maduro’s predecessor, who died of cancer last year.
The deal comes as Tel Aviv bars Palestinian banks from making shekel deposits in Israel and limits electricity supply to the Palestinian Authority to half strength for an hour every day. The Israelis are also withholding $116 million of Palestinian tax revenue.
The punitive measures were a response to the reconciliation agreement between the Palestinian Fatah party, which rules the Palestinian Authority, and Hamas, the militant group which controls Gaza, according to Haaretz.
The Israeli Electric Company points to a $154 million debt they say is owed by the Palestinian Jerusalem District Electricity Company.
MILES OF SMILES FOR GAZA
An international humanitarian convoy known as “Miles of Smiles 26” has now reached the besieged Gaza Strip, to break the blockade imposed on Palestinians by the Israeli regime.
The convoy includes over 30 activists from Arab and European countries.
Deputy chair of the committee, Aladdin al-Battah, says the convoy carries humanitarian aid and medical materials to hospitals in Gaza.
On January 8th, the "Miles of Smiles 24" arrived in the besieged area through the Rafah crossing on the border with Egypt. Only seven of the 127 activists were allowed into Gaza.
Over the past few years, the Miles of Smiles convoy has delivered humanitarian supplies to Palestinians in the impoverished region, defying the Israeli blockade.
Since the December 2008-January 2009 war Israel imposed on Gaza, several convoys have managed to break the Israeli blockade.
The Gaza Strip has been suffering under an all-out land, aerial, and naval blockade imposed by the Israeli regime since 2007.
The siege has had a disastrous impact on the humanitarian and economic situation in the enclave, turning the territory into the world’s largest open-air prison.
Tel Aviv denies about 1.7 million people in Gaza their basic rights such as freedom of movement, access to jobs that pay proper wages, adequate healthcare, and education.
Silence Breaking: Dozens of Rockets Hit Occupied Territories, as Israel Strikes
In response to Israeli aggression against the besieged Gaza strip, Al-Quds Brigades, the military wing of the resistance group, Islamic Jihad, launches over 130 rockets and shells into the occupied territories.
Meanwhile the occupation announces it struck "many targets" in the tiny enclave.
The Israeli military targeted 29 sites in Gaza, it says on its Twitter page. "Direct hits were confirmed," the occupation military tweets.
The Israeli airstrikes targeted three areas in Gaza -- Rafah, Khan Younis and Jabalia, say security sources in Gaza.
A Hamas spokesperson has texted CNN, to say they counted only six airstrikes, but notes they were all on empty bases.
Al-Quds Brigades' spokesperson, Abu Ahmad, says the rocket fire came “after a long series of violations to the truce with the Palestinian resistance since November 2012."
"This operation, dubbed 'Breaking the Silence,' comes as a response to the ongoing and continued Zionist Israeli aggression against the Palestinian people in the West Bank and Gaza," Abu Ahmad says.
The Secretary General of Islamic Jihad, Ramadan Abdullah Shallah, stresses that the resistance will show its rockets ability, just after Al-Quds Brigades rockets and shells struck the occupied territories.
Addressing Iranian Television, Shallah says the Palestinian resistance is ready to respond to Israeli aggression with longer range rockets.
He notes that the resistance, after the Israeli aggression against Gaza in 2012, had signed up to a ceasefire... not a surrender to Israel.
Hamas warns that any re-invasion of Gaza will be met by new forms of resistence.
VILLAGE "DISAPPEARED" BY ISRAEL
Israeli forces have razed an entire Palestinian village in the Jordan Valley region of the occupied West Bank.
According to reports, the demolition took place in the village of Khirbat Jamal early on Thursday.
Over a dozen families living in the area are now homeless, after Israeli bulldozers destroyed their homes.
The Israeli military is preventing human rights activists from visiting the area to help villagers.
Demolitions are commonplace in the Jordan Valley as the Tel Aviv regime continues with its policy of settlement expansion in the area. Over 90% of the Jordan Valley is under full Israeli military control.
On January 9, Israeli military forces backed by bulldozers entered Khirbet Ein Karzaliyah village and destroyed the entire village, leaving over two dozen locals homeless.
In October last year, Israeli bulldozers backed by military jeeps entered the village of Makhool north of the Jordan Valley and destroyed the village.
Israel has already been under fire for demolishing Palestinian homes. Israeli authorities claim they destroy houses "built without permission".
Rights activists, however, reject the claims, saying the demolitions are part of an ethnic cleansing campaign against Palestinians.
An environmentalist organization says Palestinians in the Gaza Strip are facing a deepening water crisis as Israel maintains its crippling siege.
Some 1.7 million Gazans are facing water shortages, and the salinity of nearly 90% of drinking water in Gaza is above standard levels, Friends of the Earth's Middle East experts stated during a conference held in the occupied Palestinian territories on Wednesday.
The experts also warned of an increasing risk of waterborne diseases as the Gaza Strip is also facing a sewage crisis.
“In Gaza, the first desalination plant built by the World Bank was completed in October of last year,” said Friends of the Earth Middle East Director Gidon Bromberg. “But the tragedy is that it has no electricity to run it.”
Gaza municipality has also declared a state of emergency, and experts have warned of an environmental crisis in the besieged enclave.
Fuel and electricity shortages in the Israeli- blockaded Palestinian territory have worsened in recent months due to Egypt’s closure of Gaza tunnels. These tunnels are the only lifeline for Palestinians living under the Israeli siege.
Gaza has been blockaded since June 2007, a situation that has caused a decline in the standard of living, unprecedented levels of unemployment, and unrelenting poverty.
Israel denies about 1.7 million people in Gaza their basic rights, such as freedom of movement, jobs that pay proper wages, & adequate health- care and education.
Abbas in Russia Visit, Seeks to Sign $1-Billion Deal
Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas is hoping to secure a billion-dollar Gaza energy deal in talks with Russian leaders aimed at restoring warmer ties between the two Soviet-era allies.
Abbas and Russian PM Dmitry Medvedev are due to sign an intergovernmental agreement that reports say includes a $1.0-billion (730 million-euro) natural gas project in the Gaza section of the Mediterranean Sea.
The state ITAR-TASS news agency says Russia's natural gas giant Gazprom hopes to produce 30 billion cubic meters of natural gas at the site.
Moscow has been a close Palestinian ally since the Soviet era. Russia's President Vladimir Putin, has also called for the establishment of east Jerusalem as the capital of an independent Palestinian state.
Abbas began his Moscow visit by holding talks with Putin at which he called Russia a "great power" that deserved to play a more prominent role the volatile Middle East region.
Abbas is also to hold talks today with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.
SOON ISRAELI APARTHEID WILL FALL
S. Africa's Foreign Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane says her country has decided to “slow down” its ties with the Israeli regime in solidarity with Palestinians.
She says “the struggle of the people of Palestine is our struggle,” and criticizes the Israeli regime’s plan to build new illegal settler units in East al-Quds (Jerusalem).
“That arrangement in Palestine keeps us awake,” she says...
“The last time I looked at the map of Palestine, I could not go to sleep. Its dots are smaller than those of the homelands,” she adds, referring to the former "homelands" in her country - known as bantustans - set up under apartheid to give blacks a sense of autonomy.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon “deplores” the Israeli regime's new settlement plans, and UN spokesperson Martin Nesirky says: “Settlement activity is contrary to international law and constitutes an obstacle to peace.”
UN special Rapporteur Richard Falk says that if renewed talks between the Palestinian Authority (PA) and the Tel Aviv regime fail, the UN General Assembly should seek an opinion from the International Court of Justice on “the legal consequences of Israel's occupation” of Palestinian lands.
Palestinian schools switched to an Israeli curriculum in Jerusalem
The director of education in Jerusalem urges families with schoolchildren in Jerusalem to be aware that at least five Palestinian schools are switching to Israeli education materials.
Sameer Jibril says Ebin Rushd and Abdulla bin Hussain schools are now using Israeli education materials in the seventh and eighth grades.
The Sour Baher school is using them for fourth, fifth and sixth grades, and the Ibin Khaldoun school uses it for seventh graders.
An education official tells Ma’an news agency that a meeting took place Thursday in Herzliya, near Tel Aviv, for Palestinian and Israeli heads and teachers to "discuss" switching from the Palestinian Authority, to Israeli curricula.
The Israeli municipality in Jerusalem offered to increase salaries for teachers and heads who agreed to implement the plans in their schools, the official says.
The proposal would add about 2,000 shekels (about $550) per student enrolled in those schools using the Israeli curricula.
A teacher who identified himself as Jibril tells Ma'an that using the Israeli curricula is a "violation" of Palestinian culture and history.
"This step is very dangerous and touches the awareness of Palestinians in Jerusalem in an effort to brainwash them and control them, especially young generations.”
Among the concerns Palestinian teachers have about the materials, are maps purporting to show the state of Israel which include the West Bank, and identify all places in Palestinian territory using Jewish Biblical names.
It includes history lessons about the destruction of a Jewish temple in Jerusalem, which the texts separately identify as the capital of Israel, despite international consensus that the city is occupied.
Another section depicts a conversation between three Arab students praising Israel's development of Palestinian cities and who then decide to sing the Israeli national anthem.
Other points of concern include references to Israel as: "a bastion of human rights and democracy".
OPPOSING ISRAEL'S RACIST PLAN
A number of Palestinians have staged a sit-in at the courtyard of the Church of Resurrection in occupied Jerusalem in solidarity with Palestinians in Naqab (Negev) who are threatened with losing their lands due to Israeli Prawer-Begin racial projects.
During the sit-in, Archbishop of the Sebastian Roman Orthodox Church, Attallah Hanna, expressed Palestinian solidarity in occupied Jerusalem with the Palestinians in Negev, asserting that they are threatened with being displaced and uprooted from their lands due to the Israeli racial project.
He rejects what the Palestinians in Negev are being exposed to and asserts that they will always defend their right to live peacefully.
The Israeli Prawer-Begin racial projects threatens to eliminate 36 Arab villages in Negev inhabited by about 40,000 Palestinians, to settle 250,000 Israeli settlers there.
If the world allows this to go ahead, about 850,000 duman of Negev lands will be confiscated and thousands of Palestinian families will be displaced. ___________________________________
SUFFER, LITTLE CHILDREN OF GAZA
Media now often report hundreds of Palestinian travelers stranded at the crossing on Gaza's border.
Some 800 people normally leave for Egypt & beyond through the Rafah crossing, the only passageway leading to the rest of the world for most Gazans.
Israel imposed an all-out land, aerial, and naval blockade of the Gaza in June 2007 after the democratically-elected Palestinian resistance movement of Hamas took over administration of the territory.
The siege has had a disastrous impact on the humanitarian and economic situation in the impoverished enclave, and turned the territory into the world’s largest open-air prison.
Impoverished Palestinians are forced to use underground tunnels to bring in essential supplies, including food, fuel and medicine.
The Rafah crossing is the Palestinian territory's only crossing outside Israeli control.
A delegation of European peace activists, with which Egyptian activists joined in, arrived in Gaza after crossing Rafah from Egypt to deliver humanitarian aid to needy Palestinians. Gaza was the target of Israeli attacks for weeks, which increased late November with a wave of land, air & sea strikes, leaving about 170 dead, including women and children, and over 1,000 injured, according to official figures.
The delegation Welcome to Palestine brought medicines, medical equipment, and books, says the organizers. They recall that a similar initiative in 2009 was interfered with by the Government of toppled former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak.
"This is the first time we've made it and arrived in Gaza," says Olivia Zamar from the French EuroPalestine group.
ISRAEL PRODUCING MARTYRS
The banning of a generation of young men from Al Aqsa is creating a generation of martyrs.
This is what is happening in Gaza. The anniversary of Land Day has come and gone.
Israeli soldiers shot two young men, armed only with a flag, from point blank range.