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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, the 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 permitted by the administration of the USA, 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 seven 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 and 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 and 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 taken into consideration. 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 three 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 understandable 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 also 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 and scientists maintain that plane fuel couldn't produce enough heat to melt the steel frame of the buildings that collapsed, reports newsone.com
TEN REASONS WHY THE US WONT CUT "AID" TO EGYPT
1. The US doesn’t give much aid to the Egyptian people per se. Only $250 million a year out of $1.55 billion is civilian. The aid is to cement a relationship between the Egyptian officer corps and the Pentagon.
2. The military aid, $1.3 billion a year, is mostly in-kind, a grant of weaponry. It must be spent on US weapons manufacturers. It is US arms manufacturers like Lockheed-Martin and General Dynamics (and their employees) who would suffer if it were cut off.
3. The Congress gave the Egyptian Generals a credit card to buy weapons, and they’ve run up $3 billion on it for F-16s and M1A1 tanks. If the US cancelled aid, it's the US who would have to pick up that bill.
4. Even most of the civilian aid is required to be spent on US goods and materiel. It is corporate welfare for the US.
5. The aid was given as a bribe to the Egyptian elite to make nice with Israel. Given the chaos in Sinai, and Egypt’s instability, Congress is more worried about that issue than at any time in 40 years.
6. The Israelis asked the US not to suspend the aid.
7. Congress even structured the economic aid, to require some of it to help joint Israeli-Egyptian enterprises in Egypt, so part of the aid to Egypt, actually goes to . . . Israel.
8. It is not generally recognized, but the Egyptian army is a “security umbrella” for Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the UAE against Iran (and often Iraq). The Persian Gulf oil states also have powerful Washington lobbies and want Egypt to continue as a Gurkha force. Children, can you say oil?
9. Many in the US Congress don’t disagree with the generals’ actions in overthrowing the Muslim Brotherhood-backed Freedom and Justice Party and driving it underground, since they agree it is a terrorist organization.
10. Behind the scenes, Egyptian military intelligence has helped the US track down extremists, and in the Mubarak era ran black sites where they tortured suspected al-Qaeda for Washington. The US deep state would like to ramp that relationship back up.
(from an article by Press TV, 'opinion')
The face of today's US-led NATO boss, unelected Anders "Fau pas" Rasmussen.
LATEST NEWS WEDNESDAY
FLASH: NATO CHIEF RASMUSSEN SAYS TO DEPLOY MORE AIR, SEA, AND LAND MILITARY FORCES IN EASTERN EUROPE
Anti-govt protesters seize Ukrainian APCs, as army units 'switch sides'
Kiev’s military faced off with protesters in east Ukraine on Wednesday to sort out their differences… and found none.
Soldiers appeared reluctant to go into battle against anti-government activists.
As Ukrainian Armored Personnel Carriers (APCs) entered downtown Kramatorsk as part of Kiev’s military operation against anti-government protesters in the east of the country, they were stopped in their tracks, and surrounded by crowds of local residents.
One YouTube video of what happened next shows a woman coming to a soldier with the reproach: “You are the army, you must protect the people.”
“We are not going to shoot, we weren’t even going to,” is the soldier’s reply.
Similar conversations could be heard at each of several APCs which entered the city, with locals promising to defend their neighbours, in case the soldiers start a military operation.
Military vehicles parked in downtown Kramatorsk have turned into hotspots for political discussion, with people beside the vehicles trying to get their views through to people on top of the tanks.
Another video features the Kramatorsk crowds loudly chanting “Army with the people” and applauding the soldiers as they were leaving their APCs.
“Guys, we are with you! You are great!” women are heard yelling to the vacating soldiers.
Six Ukrainian military vehicles in Kramatorsk actually switched sides and began flying Russian flags on Wednesday.
Later a report emerged that 3 more Ukrainian armored vehicles had switched sides in the Donetsk Region.
The vehicles came to the centre of Slavyansk, took down their Ukrainian flags and handed their weapons to self-defense squads.
“We decided not to be at war with the people and not to defend authorities like this,” the crew members explained to RIA Novosti.
One YouTube video shows an encounter where some Ukraine military vehicles raise Russian flags, while others raise the flags of the Donetsk People’s Republic that the supporters of federalization want to establish. The crowd reacted with loud cheers.
Vladimir, a resident of Kramatorsk who witnessed the events, told RT in a phone call that a clear majority of the soldiers who arrived at Kramatorsk in armored vehicles were “boys of only 18-20 yrs old, with their heads freshly shaved, as they had just entered military service.”
Immediately after the column of armored vehicles was blocked near the local market, local residents surrounded the column with a human chain, but did nothing more, Vladimir said.
“Both sides were simply standing there and smoking, waiting for God-knows-what. Then the local militia came to the scene, and asked the locals to step back, and started negotiations. The soldiers were asked if they would like to surrender. They thought a little bit – and agreed,” Vladimir said.
The soldiers and civilians started fraternizing very quickly and soon were joking about “coming for a visit without weapons next time.”
Many soldiers put on St. George’s ribbons, the traditional Russian emblem used to commemorate the Soviet Union’s fight against Nazism in World War II.
The tanks have already been driven away to a safe place by the local militia, the witness said.
Vladimir said that Kramatorsk wasn't under siege, but confirmed that there were armed checkpoints throughout the city.
Military helicopters have been flying over the city since Tuesday, when there were clashes at the local airport.
The local Internet connection is extremely unstable and mobile networks have been functioning only intermittently over the last few days, he said.
On Tuesday, when the military operation against anti-government protesters in the east was launched, it was not so peaceful.
According to activists, four people were killed and two others injured when troops seized an airfield in Kramatorsk, which had earlier been controlled by protesters.
CIA Involvement in Repressive Ukraine Operation Denounced
The military operation by the Government in the country''s eastern region is a result of the visit from CIA Chief John Brennan, a Ukrainian expert affirms.
President of the Centre for Systemic Analysis and Forecasts, Rostislav Itschenko, says that the repressive operation taking place in south- eastern Ukraine is not a casual coincidence, considering the presence of Brennan in Kiev.
After Moscow's insistence on a convincing explanation for the emergency visit, the US State Department confirmed that Brennan was in the Ukrainian capital, but denied that the CIA had backed "the tactical operation" in the regions outside Kiev.
Head of the International Affairs Committee of Parliament, Alexéi Pushkov, says that Brennan's visit is a corroboration of the "extremely close relationship" between Ukrainian and US leaders.
Meanwhile, in Tallin, US Republican Senator John McCain declared to the Estonian media that the US will provide arms to Ukraine "so it can defend itself from Russian threats."
The US Department of State announces today that $11.4 million USD will be allocated for early presidential elections in Ukraine, scheduled for May 25th.
Zionist Police Break into Al-Aqsa temple in Jerusalem, Wound 30+
Over 30 Palestinians holding a sit-in in Al-Aqsa Mosque were wounded after Israeli occupation forces shot at them on Wednesday in an attempt to eject them by force from the mosque, an Al-Manar correspondent says.
A large number of police officers broke into Al-Aqsa Mosque courtyard, firing rubber bullets and stun grenades. The occupation forces also detained one of the mosque guards.
Palestinians held the sit-in to stop Israeli forces attempting to bring Jewish settlers to Al-Aqsa to perform their rituals, Palestine Today reports.
Witnesses say that Zionist Special Forces and snipers were deployed to force Palestinians to leave the yards of Al-Aqsa as troops besieged those in the mosque, Arabs48 website reports.
Special Forces were also deployed at all entrances of Al-Aqsa. They set up checkpoints and prevented hundreds of women and men under the age of 50 from worshiping in the mosque.
Israeli forces also assaulted protestors near Bab Hatta and Bab Al-Silsila.
It is noteworthy that tightening the security measures in and near Al-Aqsa coincides with extremist Jewish calls for breaking into Al-Aqsa.
Kiev launches military operation in eastern Ukraine
Ukraine’s coup-appointed acting President Aleksandr Turchinov announces the start of a crackdown on anti-government protesters in the north of Donetsk Region.
“The anti-terrorist operation started overnight Monday,” says Turchinov. “The aim of these actions is to protect the citizens of Ukraine.”
According to Turchinov, this ‘anti-terrorist operation’ also aims to prevent “attempts to break Ukraine apart.”
The anti-government protesters in south- eastern Ukraine have recently protested against the coup-appointed authorities.
They demand constitutional reform that takes into consideration the interests of all Ukraine regions. They also propose the federalization of the country and to make Russian a second official language in the regions.
Earlier, a clip posted on YouTube showed local people in the town of Rodinskoye, Donetsk Region, who stopped a tank, allegedly on its way from Kiev to take part in the Kiev crackdown.
Andrey Parubiy, head of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council, on Tuesday, announces that a battalion of the National Guard “comprised of volunteers from Maidan self-defense troops", is on its way from Kiev.
According to Parubiy, the “battalion is comprised of volunteers from Maidan self-defense troops".
On Monday, Turchinov signed a decree to officially begin a “special anti-terrorist operation” in the east of the country.
He ordered "that the National Security and Defense Council's decision of April 13, 2014, 'On urgent measures to overcome the territorial threat and to preserve the territorial integrity of Ukraine', be put into effect."
Russia has warned that if Kiev uses force it will undermine the effort to convene a 4- party conference on resolving the crisis in the country, which would include the US, the EU, Russia and Ukraine.
Turchinov also proposes conducting a joint operation with UN peacekeeping forces, a decision that is strongly condemned by Russian FM Sergey Lavrov at Beijing press conference, as “totally unacceptable.”
The Kiev authorities have already tried to launch a so-called “anti-terrorist operation” in the eastern city of Slavyansk, Donetsk Region, after anti-government protesters seized several buildings in the city.
Gunfire broke out on Sunday, after troops in black uniforms supported by armored vehicles and several helicopters, approached the road- block set up by locals. One person was killed and two others injured in the crackdown.
There are rumours that among the troops were members of the radical ultranationalist Right Sector movement, who were mobilized to take decisive steps to “defend Ukraine’s sovereignty.”
Ukraine presidential candidates attacked in Kiev
Radicals have attacked two Ukrainian presidential candidates. One of them, Oleg Tsarev, was “brutally beaten,” claimed the candidate’s press office. The radicals poured green antiseptic solution and flour on another candidate, Mikhail Dobkin.
Oleg Tsarev was attacked after being trapped inside the ICTV media building following his appearance on the ‘Svoboda Slova’ chat show, according to the statement released by Tsarev’s office.
“It was with great difficulty that government security forces were able to recapture Oleg Tsarev from the angry mob. He was severely beaten and is in serious condition,” the press office says.
Earlier, there were reports of the entire building being surrounded by unidentified gunmen with Tsarev trapped inside and his car attacked, including slashed tires.
After the attack, Tsarev says that he will not withdraw his candidacy from the presidential election under any circumstances, his press office states.
“Peaceful dialogue between the authorities and all of the people in the country, the search for compromise and understanding are the only ways to solve the political crisis,” Interfax quotes the politician as saying in the lobby of the General Prosecutor's Office, on Tuesday night.
Meanwhile, Konstantin Dolgov, the Russian Foreign Ministry’s commissioner for human rights, has noted a “shy silence” from Western countries towards the attack on Tsarev.
“The Maidan tank democracy is in full swing, the extremists remained unpunished,” Dolgov tweets. “Typical double standards.”
According to Dolgov, the Kiev coup-appointed government is using ‘tank’ force against people in south-eastern Ukrainian cities whose rights should be protected by this very government.
“Is this an inclusive political dialogue and a constitutional reform?” he asks on Twitter.
Around the same time, unidentified individuals blocked and damaged the vehicle carrying another presidential candidate, Mikhail Dobkin, while attacking and injuring his aides on their way to that same talk show.
Dobkin spoke of the attack during a live 'phone interview later on the show. Other media report that the radicals poured green antiseptic solution & flour on him.
The two candidates were scheduled to join a third presidential candidate, Yulia Tymoshenko, on the talk show.
Both Dobkin and Tsarev submitted their candidacies for the presidential election as self-nominees.
Ukraine’s presidential elections are scheduled to be held on May 25th, with 23 registered candidates taking part in the campaign.
Dobkin is a businessman-turned-politician and former governor of the eastern Kharkov region. During his presidential bid he vows to focus on reviving relations with Russia, if elected.
Tsarev is also from the eastern part of Ukraine and was a Dnepropetrovsk businessperson and People's Deputy of Ukraine elected for the Party of Regions. He was later expelled from the party, on April 7th.
This is not the first time Tsarev has been attacked in recent days. There are reports of him being caught up in clashes in Odessa on Friday, as well as being beaten and pelted with eggs in Nikolaev, by members of the Right Sector, according to RIA Novosti.
CHINESE MEDIA START TO CRITICISE UKRAINE
China usually stays out of conflict, believing as it does in the unity of its state, and in non-interference.
But on Monday, Xinhuanet says this:
Russia warns of civil war in Ukraine, West ratchets up sanctions
Russia warns Ukraine not to use force on pro-Russia protesters, saying it might lead to civil war, while the West continues to impose sanctions on Russia.
The use of armed force against pro-Russia protestors in eastern Ukraine is "dangerous", Moscow's ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), Andrei Kelin, says.
"In Moscow, we strongly believe it might lead to a civil war. We are very worried," Kelin says.
Russia has consistently denied that there are Russian troops in Ukraine, saying it isn't in Russia's interest to have troops there.
After armed confrontation between Ukrainian security forces and pro-Moscow protesters, who were occupying government buildings in the cities of Donetsk, Lugansk and Kharkov, demanding a referendum on autonomy and closer ties with Russia, Russia voiced its profound concern.
According to the local 1+1 TV channel, at least 4 people were killed and 10 injured in the clashes.
Ukraine has taken a hardline attitude toward the pro-Russia activists. On April 8th, the government approved a tougher anti-separatism law, providing for jail terms of up to five years for a single offence and up to 10 years for repeat offenses for those convicted of breaking Ukraine territorial supremacy.
The Ukraine parliament also made the criminal liability for treason harsher, requiring offenders to spend 12 to 15 years behind the bars.
The Ukrainian government then launched an "anti-terrorist" operation in an eastern city on April 13th, Interior Minister Arsen Avakov says.
He says men who seized buildings opened fire on the approaching troops, adding that both sides suffered casualties in the clash.
Avakov said then that the special forces had begun to "regroup" and urged local residents to remain calm and stay at home as a safety precaution.
"Pass this on to all civilians: they should leave the centre of town, not come out of their apartments, and not go near the windows," he said.
Acting Ukrainian President Oleksandr Turchynov yesterday called on the United Nations to send peacekeeping forces to the east of the country.
During a 'phone conversation with UN Secretary- General Ban Ki-moon, Turchynov proposed a joint Ukraine-UN "anti-terror operation".
However, the hardline response so far has proven to be counterproductive, inciting more clashes with the pro-Russia activists.
The Ukrainian government then stated that it was backing down on federalization, to ease the tension in the east.
"We are not against holding the referendum," Turchynov told the lawmakers, referring to the Ukrainian interim authorities.
He suggested voting be held along with the presidential elections scheduled for May 25th, if the parliament adopted a corresponding decision.
Meanwhile, Russia has slammed the West for its sanctions against Russia's national car racing team, saying the team has nothing to do with the events in Ukraine and sets no political or economic goals.
The move was one of the sanctions the West has imposed on Russia following the recent unrest in Ukraine.
The European Union (EU) decided yesterday to expand the number of Russians subject to its asset freezes and visa bans.
EU foreign ministers issued a joint statement demanding that Russia "call back its troops from the Ukrainian border."
It also threatened that any destabilizing steps by Russia in Ukraine "would lead to additional and far reaching consequences for relations in a broad range of economic areas."
Meanwhile, the EU also pledged to continue diplomatic engagement to de-escalate the crisis and stabilize the situation.
Washington has suspended military cooperation and trade and investment talks with Russia, and slapped sanctions on a number of key Russian and Crimean officials. It also has threatened to target Russia's key sectors like energy, banking and mining, in response to any further moves.
Militia in Slavyansk gets weapons back, starts patrolling streets — acting mayor
Anti-Kiev protesters in Slavyansk, eastern Ukraine, have returned most weapons to the local militia, after it took the side of the Donetsk People’s Republic.
All weapons, except automatic guns, have now been returned to the militiamen, who've started patrolling the city streets, Slavyansk’s acting mayor, Vyacheslav Ponomaryov, tells ITAR-TASS on Monday.
“The militia is on our side. They are starting to patrol the streets, together with the Cossacks and the self-defense forces,” Ponomaryov says.
Their main task is to maintain public order and fight any manifestations of extremism. The militia is also investigating assaults on some members of Donbass people’s volunteer force.
One volunteer has been killed and another 4 injured, since the confrontation started.
Federalization supporters in Slavyansk have also established control over a local military airfield, according to witnesses.
They are afraid that the government in Kiev will airlift forces to crack down on the anti-Kiev protesters in Slavyansk.
A video on the Internet shows men in civilian clothes and armed with submachine-guns, encircling the airfield.
Kiev must stop war on Ukrainians – Russia’s envoy to UN
The international community must demand that those who are in power in Kiev stop waging war on their own citizens in south-eastern Ukraine, Russia’s UN envoy Vitaly Churkin tells the UN Security Council.
“The international community must demand that the stooges of Maidan stop the war against their own people", Churkin says at an emergency Security Council session, called by Russia.
Churkin stresses that “reckless actions” by the Kiev government are “threatening to rip apart the delicate mosaic of Ukrainian society.”
Kiev’s post-coup authorities, Churkin says, “stubbornly,” refuse to listen to those who reject Kiev's “radicalized, chauvinistic, Russophobic, anti-Semitic forces.”
“Some, including those in this hall, constantly look for Moscow's hand in the events in the southeast , persistently - without wishing to see the true reasons for events in Ukraine. Quit doing it,” Churkin tells the meeting.
“Quit spreading tales that we built up military armadas on the border with Ukraine, ready at any moment, within a few hours, to reach almost as far as La Manche; that we sent hordes of agents to coordinate the actions of the protesting people of Ukraine.”
Monstrous Russophobia bordering on hatred became the norm in the Verhovna Rada, Churkin reminds his listeners.
“These beings deserve only one thing – death,” Churkin quotes a recent female Svoboda party MP’s saying, about protesters in the East. And such views are widely shared among her “brutal co-party members,” he adds.
The people's outcry in the East was indeed answered by Ukraine's Parliament – with “draconian laws” threatening them with long term imprisonment for “separatism” and “terrorism,” Churkin says.
US Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power:
“You heard that there are no Russian troops in eastern Ukraine but the fact is that many of the armed units that we have seen were outfitted in bullet proof vests, camouflage uniforms with insignia removed,” she says.
“We know who is behind this. Indeed the only entity in the area capable of coordinating these professional military actions is Russia,” Power claims.
Ukraine's Ambassador Yuriy Sergeyev:
“Russia has not only constantly been increasing its troops alongside the Ukrainian border but also sending subversive groups into Ukrainian regions in order to destabilize the situation.” He accuses Russia of orchestrating a full-scale “terrorist operation” in the East.
Replying to these critics, Churkin warns that a deadline is looming, and that the prospect of holding negotiations next week will be undermined if Kiev uses force against the people in the East.
“Let’s move aside from speculations, accusations, from searching for Russian phantoms flying all over different corners of Ukraine, but let us concentrate attention on what we can do – in this case I'm directing my eyesight at my Western colleagues – in order to prevent the Kiev authorities’ reckless actions, which at this moment are embodied in the criminal order of Mr. Turchinov, and to prevent the realization of this order, which will have the most severe implications primarily for the people of Ukraine.”
To his Ukrainian colleague’s accusation that Russia is supporting terrorism in Ukraine, Churkin responds: “Why did you not accuse of terrorism those who were terrorizing your government for a span of several months?”
“Those who actually terrorized the security forces, who actually set on fire the policemen, shot at them, just like they did at those who were protesting against the authorities and seemingly acted on their side. Those people, for some reason, you did not call terrorists, and even relieved them from any liability for their criminal actions - conducted over several months.”
Churkin calls the accusations against Russia “ridiculous” pointing out that Russia's calls to start negotiations at the beginning of the crisis, were completely ignored.
“Why did you encourage this crisis?” Churkin asks.
“Russia, throughout the stretch of the Ukrainian crisis spoke out not for any aggravation of the crisis, not to destabilize the country,” but to “keep the situation stable” in the neighboring country, Churkin told the UNSC, adding, “it is not our fault, what we're witnessing.”
He questions the role the US plays in any EU decision making process, citing the fact that Washington was quick to answer President's Putin letter addressed to EU nations, on gas transit to Europe.
“We will have to wait and see if there is any sovereignty left in the EU. Can it independently make decisions that could lead the situation out of crisis?”
Churkin stresses that Russia has repeatedly stated that constitutional reform, mentioned in the February 21st agreement, has to be implemented, to avoid escalating tension.
He also stresses that FM Sergey Lavrov in conversations with his counterpart, John Kerry, always tries to explain to him the position of pro-federalization activists, so the US can get a full picture of the tension in Ukraine.
And while Russia and the US continue their talks, Churkin says, some politicians in the US already state that these conversations “will not lead to anything” and are just being conducted by the US to “occupy time.”
“Occupy time? Does that mean that someone in Washington actually has something like Turchinov’s armed scenario in their heads? If so, let’s not accuse Russia of seeking to destabilize the situation.”
Churkin accuses the West of double standards, pointing out the fact that the West encouraged actions to overthrow the government in Kiev in February, while at the same time condemning the events in the East of the country, where people reject the new rule forcibly imposed on them.
Russia's UN envoy also says that there seems to be a total disconnect in Kiev's approach to the crisis, as the acting prime minister, Yatsenyuk, talks of the possibility of referenda, while Turchinov, at the same time, is giving crackdown orders. “It seems they prefer to use force,” Churkin says.
Samantha Power takes the floor again, to say that the US consistently “called for de-escalation and urged restraint” when dealing with the Ukrainian crisis, saying “there has been no shortage of evidence in diplomacy.”
She again blames Russia for fuelling Ukraine's crisis.
“It is not the United States that escalated the situation. It is the Russian Federation,” Power says, stating that it is hard to “reconcile the behavior of the Russian Federation, the propaganda of the Russian Federation, the military actions of the Russian Federation, which range from the massing of 40,000 troops at the border to the subversive activities inside Ukraine,” with “this appeal for diplomacy and de- escalation, and an appeal we wish was in fact sincere.”
Power says that Russia's point of view is “rooted in the idea that the internet does not exist” where people can see all the "evidence."
She claims that the pro-federalization rallies are not protests, but instead are a series of military operations by “professional forces, carrying weapons, Russian made weapons as it happens, carrying out sophisticated, complicated military operations across a substantial no. of eastern Ukrainian cities.”
Powers ends by saying that the “credibility of the Russian Federation has been greatly undermined.”
In his final address to the council, Churkin expresses hope that his calls will eventually find some response, and that the bloodshed in Ukraine will be prevented while there is still time.
“Maybe, he, Vice President Biden, will pick up the 'phone and call Mr. Turchinov, as he often called Mr. Yanukovich before Feb 21st?” Churkin asks.
“Just call to tell Mr. Turchinov the same thing he told Mr. Yanukovich. He told him, as the press service of the vice president reported: 'For God's sake don’t use force, get rid of your security forces from central Kiev.”
“And now what? Will the US endorse the realization of this criminal order to use armed forces?” Churkin says, urging Ms Power to tell Biden "immediately" to call Kiev, instead of waiting for his planned visit, as, "in a couple of hours, the situation could take an irreversible turn."
The urgent UN Security Council meeting came, after the coup-imposed Kiev government authorized the use of the military in Ukraine’s south-east, to suppress their popular uprising.
Events on the ground have taken a very dangerous turn, Russia's Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Sunday, slamming the order of a full-scale military operation as “criminal.”
“The Kiev authorities, who self-proclaimed themselves as a result of a coup, have embarked on a violent military suppression of the protests,” the ministry said, adding that the rallies which have gripped the Donbas region, were prompted by Kiev’s disregard of people's legitimate interests.
NATO to Moscow: Pull back your forces
NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen Sunday accuses “pro-Russian protesters” of trying to “destabilize Ukraine” as demonstrators are reported to be taking over more official buildings in the country’s eastern regions.
Rasmussen tells Russia to "de-escalate" the ongoing crisis and to "pull back" its troops near the borders with Ukraine.
"Any further Russian military interference, under any pretext, will only deepen Russia's international isolation," he says.
On Sunday, Kiev starts its deadly operation against pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine.
Interior Minister Arsen Avakov says both sides have suffered "casualties" in the offensive in Slavyansk, that threatens to further escalate tensions with Russia.
"There are dead and wounded on both sides," Avakov writes on his Facebook page.
"On our side -- an SBU (Ukrainian Security Service) officer. On the side of separatists -- an unidentified number... The separatists have started to protect themselves using human shields," he writes.
Russia Today reports a gunfight in the city of Slavyansk in eastern Ukraine, where anti- government protesters hold several buildings.
“Helicopters are flying over the defiant city in the Donetsk region. The aircraft are Ukrainian, judging by two white markings on their tails - painted on all Ukrainian military hardware to distinguish them from Russian ones of the same design.
Armored infantry vehicles have also been spotted near the city,” RT says.
Earlier, Avakov announced an “anti- terrorist operation" against pro-Russian gunmen holed up in a police station in the restive east.
“An anti-terrorist operation has begun in Slavyansk. It is being directed by the anti-terrorist centre of the state security service. Forces from all the security units of the country have been brought in,” he said.
On Saturday, the interior and defense ministries announced their plans to launch operational responses to separatist sentiments in eastern parts of the country after government buildings were seized by pro-Russian protesters in Slavyansk, in southern Donetsk.
After Crimea's secession from Ukraine in March, the secessionist movement spread to other regions including Odessa, Lugansk, Nikolayev, Slavyansk, Kramatorsk and Druzhkovka:- all in Donetsk Province.
Protesters in these areas took control of government buildings and raised the Russian flag over the buildings.
Reports say fighting has erupted in several towns in eastern Ukraine. Protesters demand referenda on breaking away from Ukraine and integrating into Russia, but Ukrainian officials say that their demands are "unacceptable".
Meanwhile, in Western Ukraine, a unit of the neo-nazi Right Sector bloc has occupied and set fire to, the headquarters of Ukraine's Communist Party, in Rovno city.
About 50 members of the extremist Falange burst into the Communists' regional office and demanded that the people there leave the building, accusing them of supporting protests in south-eastern Ukraine.
Police did not intervene in the action and no arrests have been reported so far, while the Communists announce that they plan an "appropriate response" to the Right Sector neo-fascists.
On Saturday evening, Russian FM Sergey Lavrov told his US counterpart, John Kerry, that, if Kiev fulfils its threat to use force against desperate South-eastern Ukrainians, it will undermine the prospect of a four-sided meeting in Geneva and "other cooperation" on the Ukrainian crisis.
Kiev backpedals on referendums after deadline to stop protest ends
Just after the deadline set for the protesters in eastern Ukraine to vacate seized buildings expired, Kiev's temporary PM Arseny Yatsenyuk pledges to push through a law allowing regional referendums in the country.
Holding referendums on the status of their respective regions was a main demand of anti-Maidan activists, who have taken over a number of governmental buildings in eastern Ukraine this week.
Ukrainian law currently does not allow regions to hold referendums separately from the rest of the country.
It was one of the main arguments Kiev voiced in declaring illegal last month’s referendum in Crimea, which ended with it seceding from Ukraine and joining Russia.
Speaking in Donetsk, Yatsenyuk said his government wants greater autonomy for Ukrainian regions, including the abolition of the offices of Kiev-appointed governors.
He was speaking just as a 48-hour deadline, which Kiev gave to protesters to evacuate the seized buildings, expired.
The central authorities had threatened force, including military force - and even threatened to deal with their opponents as terrorists - if they didn't withdraw from the buildings.
The U-turn comes after Ukraine’s elite Alpha unit reportedly refused to obey an order to besiege the protester-held buildings.
At a session of law enforcement officials in Donetsk, one of the Alpha commanders said that he and his men are a force intended for rescuing hostages and fighting terrorism, and will only act in accordance with the law, local media report.
This unconfirmed act of defiance comes days after the siege by police of a seized building in Kharkov, which ended with dozens of activists being arrested.
On Thursday, a local police lieutenant-colonel spoke to the media, claiming that he and other officers were deceived by the Kiev authorities.
He claimed that they were sent to take over the building under the pretext that it was held by dangerous armed bandits.
In fact the protesters had only improvised clubs and offered no resistance to the storming troops.
The officer, Andrey Chuikov, said he would no longer take “criminal” orders, and announced his resignation from the police, adding that he would be sacked anyway, by his superiors, for speaking to the press.
Protests have taken place in Donetsk, Kharkov and Lugansk, while smaller protest actions and "clashes" are reported in Odessa and Nikolayev.
Donetsk activists remain in control of the regional administration building and have built three lines of barricades to defend themselves from a siege.
They have declared the Donetsk region, home to about one-tenth of the population of Ukraine, a “people’s republic” and have demanded a referendum on its future status.
They also state that they are forming a “people’s army” in response to threats of violence from Kiev.
Negotiations between the activists and the Kiev-appointed authorities of the region were held on Thursday and into Friday morning.
They're trying to hammer out a deal to de- escalate the tension, which includes joint patrols by police and Donetsk activists, and a possible move by protesters to a nearby building.
In Lugansk, activists maintain their hold on a Ukrainian Security Service office.
They also cordoned off the Interior Ministry’s troops base on Thursday night, saying this would prevent their deployment for a crack- down on the protest - although, later, their blockade was lifted.
In Kharkov, where police on Tuesday captured a regional administration building and took over 50 activists into custody, the protests do not seem to be calming down.
On Thursday evening several hundred people picketed the building, despite a court ban on doing so.
A mass protest rally is scheduled for Sunday.
Venezuela Asks Vatican to Mediate Political Crisis
President Nicolas Maduro’s government has asked Cardinal Pietro Parolin to be a witness in good faith in talks to end the conflict with the opposition, which has led to two months of deadly protests.
President Maduro is now holding 'face to face' talks with his opposition-leader opponent.
A senior Israeli official calls on the Tel Aviv regime to annex 60% of the West Bank now.
Israeli Finance Minister Naftali Bennett launches a plan called ‘Settlement Blocs First,’ and urges the regime’s PM, Benjamin Netanyahu, to annex nearly 60% of the West Bank to punish the PA for furthering Palestinian recognition at the UN.
The plan calls for annexing territories such as Ariel and Beit el-Ofra.
Bennett’s call comes via a letter to Netanyahu, insisting that the era of negotiations has ended:
“It is clear that the diplomatic process has run its course and that we are entering a new era,” Bennett writes. “We have been hitting our heads against the wall of negotiations over and over again for years and we kept getting surprised when the wall did not break. The time has come for new thinking.”
The PA’s bid to join several UN agencies came in response to Israel’s refusal to free a final batch of Palestinian prisoners, as agreed.
OUR EUROPEAN HOME
Members of German civil society have written an open letter to Russian President Vladimir Putin, condemning Russophobia in the mass media and the German political establishment, while showing support for Moscow's actions in the ongoing Ukrainian crisis.
Retired German Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Jochen Scholz wrote an open letter to the Russian leader in response to the speech Putin made on March 18th, 2014 at the reunification of Crimea with Russia.
The letter was co-signed by hundreds of Germans including lawyers, journalists, doctors, servicemen, scholars, scientists, diplomats and historians.
In their letter the German intellectuals said that Putin’s speech “appealed directly to the German people” and deserved a “positive response that corresponds to the true feelings of Germans.”
The letter acknowledges that the Soviet Union played a decisive role in the liberation of Europe from Nazi Germany and helped the reunification of Germany and its membership of NATO after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact.
Then US President, George Bush Sr. gave assurances to Russia that NATO would not expand eastward, and yet, despite Moscow showing trust, the US and its allies have violated that commitment, Scholz says.
“NATO expansion into the former Soviet republics, the creation of military bases in the former Warsaw Pact countries and the setup of an umbrella missile defense system in Eastern Europe, while unilaterally withdrawing from the ABM Treaty by the US is a flagrant violation of promises,” the letter reads.
According to Scholz, the West's demonstration of its power and readiness to confront Moscow in response to the recent economic and political consolidation of Russia, which became apparent after Vladimir Putin was elected President back in 2000, is now apparent to us all.
In an interview with RT, Scholz elaborates on his position, claiming that US interests and its vision of a world order where Europe is allocated a role as Washington’s “vassals”, differs from European interests.
“During the Cold War, the interests of the US and Europe were almost 100% identical. But since 1990 this has changed. European interests are objectively different to those of the US,” he told RT.
“So our task here in Europe, and of course Russia belongs to Europe too, is to take our affairs in our own hands. To work with each other in peace and cooperation with respect for human rights.”
Europeans are now “considered to be an obstacle in the way of American intentions in the region,” as revealed by the leaked telephone conversation between Assistant Secretary of State for Europe Victoria Nuland and the US ambassador, Scholz says.
Bearing in mind the main US geopolitical goal of neutralizing Russia, the ex-colonel believes, as stated in the letter, that Washington is using the Ukrainian unrest as a “tool” to achieve this.
“This template was used repeatedly: in Serbia, Georgia and Ukraine in 2004, Egypt, Syria, Libya and Venezuela,” the letter to Putin reads.
Scholz emphasizes that the main US objective is “to deny Ukraine a role as a bridge between the Eurasian Union and the European Union.”
“Instead they want to bring Ukraine under NATO control,” he told RT, stressing that he supports Putin's proposal to build a “common European Home,” united under “a common economic zone from Lisbon to Vladivostok.”
Therefore, the author and the co-signers of the letter support the actions taken by Russia as a counterweight to US interests.
“Based on the background of the developments in Europe since 1990, the establishment of some 1,000 US military bases around the world, control of sea straits by the United States, as well as the danger posed by the abuse from Maidan for the Russian Black Sea Fleet – we consider the separation of the Crimea as a defensive measure and, simultaneously, as a warning: this is a line that cannot be crossed,” the open letter states.
While accepting Kosovo's unilateral declaration of independence in 2008 as a precedent for the self-determination of Crimea, the letter said that the principle difference in comparison is clear.
Unlike Crimea, the Kosovo process was “violating international law by the NATO air war in which Germany unfortunately participated.”
In conclusion in his letter Scholz expresses hope that European nations can agree not to interfere in other nation's affairs, and this could act as a guarantee of peace in the rest of the world.
He calls Vladimir Putin an ally of Europe and wishes him “strength, endurance and wisdom.”
Scholz told RT that Berlin is in a “very difficult position” as a member of the EU and NATO, as the goals of these blocs contradict Germany's desire “to develop closer relationship with Russia.”
“We should develop our neighbour policy together with Russia and on that way we can move forward. But in any case there should be no further expansion of NATO towards the Russian borders,” he told RT.
KIEV LEADERS HEAD FOR "CIVIL WAR"
Deputies of the Communist party and the ultra nationalist Svoboda Party had a fight during a session of the Ukrainian parliament yesterday.
Communist deputy Petr Simonenko accused the current authorities of inaction over the situation in eastern and southern regions.
"People have long demanded to give the Russian language the status of an official state language. People demand that we should listen to their social problems, but the authorities don't listen to them," Simonenko said.
He also stated that "the current authorities call the protesters seizing administrative buildings in Donetsk, Luhansk and Kharkiv separatists...
"yet when there were seizures of regional administrations in western Ukraine, Svoboda Party deputies called the protesters patriots," the communist leader added.
After these words the nationalist deputies ran up to Simonenko and tried to push him off the stand.
Communist deputies tried to defend their leader and fought off the Svoboda deputies.
* * *
Meanwhile, Ukraine's temporary Interior Minister Arsen Avakov, threatens to fire 30% of all police in Kharkiv city.
"I said yesterday that a considerable number of police officers were not so much serving their Motherland, as sabotaging the process. I believe at least 30% of Kharkiv police will be dismissed," Avakov says.
Avakov praises Berkut, which took part in an operation Tuesday morning to clear a regional administration building set on fire by a group amongst the protesters.
The fire was extinguished and police took away 70 protesters suspected of illegal actions, who are being detained in pre-trial holding centres outside their home region.
Law-enforcement bodies did not use firearms. Preliminary reports say the Jaguar unit based in the Vinnitsa region was used in the operation.
EUROPE's RECORD OF SHAME PLAYS DAILY
Amnesty International says many of the 10 to 12 million Roma living in Europe face “the daily threat of forced eviction, police harassment and violent attacks.”
In a report released on International Roma Day, the rights group says European countries are failing to protect their Roma communities.
Amnesty blames Europe's leaders for echoing populist anti Roma sentiment, saying they fuel violence against the community by branding it anti-social and unwelcome.
“The conditions in which many Roma are forced to live is a damning indictment of years of official neglect and discrimination,” the report states.
Amnesty says in its report that the European Union has been “reluctant to challenge member states on the systemic discrimination of Roma that is all too evident.”
It also accuses the European Commission of failing to take clear and decisive action to address the violence and discrimination against Roma.
Amnesty’s report shows that many of France’s 20,000 Roma people live in extreme poverty in makeshift settlements with little or no access to basic services, and are at constant risk of forced evictions.
It also cites several examples of alleged police brutality against the community, including spraying tear gas inside tents where children were sleeping and the beating up of a man in Marseille.
The rights group also documents an example in Greece, where police are accused of Roma harassment, by conducting 1,130 operations on their settlements in the first 9 months of 2013.
Amnesty says that Roma communities in the Czech Republic last year, were also subjected to official systematic harassment, linked with anti-Roma protests across the country.
EU leaders repeatedly blame the Roma community for “failing to integrate” into their societies, saying they should be transferred back to Romania and Bulgaria, which house the most Roma people.
Independent People’s Republics versus US mercenaries and neo-fascists
Russia today warns Ukraine over the build up of Ukrainian troops and US mercenaries in the southeastern part of Ukraine, and says that this move could lead to a “civil war.”
Russia's Foreign Ministry now says that it is particularly concerned, as: “the operation involves some 150 US mercenaries from a private company, Greystone Ltd., dressed in the uniform of the special task police unit Sokol.”
“Organizers of and participants in such incitement assume a huge responsibility for threatening the rights, freedoms and lives of Ukrainian citizens, as well as the stability of Ukraine,” it adds.
The statement calls on Kiev's authorities to stop all military preparations in the region, "immediately".
The Russian statement comes after Ukraine’s acting Interior Minister, A. Avakov, confirmed that more units of special forces have arrived in southern and eastern parts of the country.
“These special forces are ready to solve operational problems without bias,” Avakov said in his address to residents of Kharkiv, who held pro-Russia protests yesterday.
The Ukraine interior ministry, however, says the special forces are tasked with suppressing protests in the southeast.
Kiev-backed special forces have removed protesters who took over buildings and the streets of Kharkiv are now deserted.
Moscow today urges Kiev not to use force against the protesters who have declared independence in Ukraine's east and south.
The Russian foreign ministry says it has information that Ukraine is now sending internal security forces and volunteers from its National Guard, as well as armed groups from the far-right Right Sector, to south-east regions --- including Donetsk.
It says Ukraine has tasked these forces with "suppression by using force on those residents of the southeast of the country who are against the policies of the current Kiev authorities."
In a phone conversation with Ukraine's acting foreign minister, Andrei Deshchytsa, on Monday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov called on the current Ukrainian government to respect the aspirations of the region’s inhabitants.
"The need to respect the aspirations of the residents of southeastern Ukraine (and) the inadmissibility of the use of force to respond to legal demands to protect their language, culture and socioeconomic rights was emphasized," Russia’s Foreign Ministry says in a statement.
On Sunday, Ukraine’s interior minister accused the Kremlin of orchestrating “separatist disorder” in eastern parts of the country, and claimed that such moves are a ploy to deploy Russian troops into Ukraine.
All this, as people in Ukraine’s eastern city of Kharkiv declare their independence from Kiev on Monday, after a similar move by pro- Russians in Donetsk.
Protesters announced the formation of the Independent People’s Republic of Kharkiv outside the regional administration building.
50 percent of the region's inhabitants are ethnic Russians who believe that Ukraine's acting authorities are nationalists who will repress Russians.
Lavrov calls on Kiev to take "urgent measures" to organize a national dialogue, saying Russia is ready to "support this process, along with the European Union and the United States."
PALESTINIANS SAY YES TO MORE... FREEDOM!
An aide to acting PA Chief Mahmoud Abbas, says today that Palestinians are going for more UN recognition by joining many more international agencies and treaties.
Mohammed Ishtayeh speaks today (Monday) after Abbas signed a request to join 15 UN agencies and international treaties on April 1.
The Israeli regime has reportedly asked Abbas to withdraw the letters of accession. However, Ishtayeh says that the requests are irreversible.
He says Palestinians “are keeping the door open for any serious talks” until April 29 deadline, but that gaps on almost all issues have only grown and that Israel is not negotiating in good faith.
In recent weeks, negotiations have been on reaching agreement to extend talks into 2015.
63 agencies, treaties and conventions have been divided into four groups, Ishtayeh says. “The second tranche of UN organizations is ready for signing.”
The release of Palestinian prisoners and Israel’s illegal settlement expansion in the occupied Palestinian territories are now the two major obstacles to talks.
The Israeli settlements are considered illegal under international law. However, Netanyahu says the settlement construction is part of Tel Aviv’s policy, and will not stop.
Legislature of just proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic asks Putin to move in peacekeepers.
Earlier, the deputies of Donetsk regional council proclaimed state sovereignty for the Donetsk People’s Republic.
The council of the new Donetsk People’s Republic has turned to President Putin, asking him to introduce a temporary peacekeeping contingent.
The lawmakers unanimously supported the address of the Republican Council of the Donetsk People’s Republic.
“The territory of the republic within the recognized borders, is indivisible and inviolable,” the council said.
The legislators also passed a decision on holding a referendum on whether or not the region joins the Russian Federation.
It will be held no later than May 11th.
Mass meetings supporting Ukraine’s move to become a federation, were held under Russian flags in Kharkiv, Luhansk and Donetsk, on Sunday.
On Monday, supporters of turning the country into a federation, put up barricades in front of the entrance to Kharkiv Region's administration using tires and other ‘construction materials’.
In Luhansk, unidentified people in the building of the Security Service’s regional branch, seized the room where service guns were kept.
On using Russian Armed Forces on the territory of Ukraine.
On March 1, 2014, Russia’s Federation Council gave consent to President Putin using Russian armed forces on the territory of Ukraine.
The relevant decision was unanimously adopted by the upper house of Russia's parliament at an extraordinary session.
Vladimir Putin asked for use of Russia's armed forces on the territory of Ukraine, until the socio-political situation in that country is normalized.
His initiative was proposed after a plea by Ukraine’s legitimate president Yanukovych.
The Ukrainian leader says his address to Vladimir Putin on the use of armed forces, was triggered by the 'armed delinquency' in Ukraine.
“I’ve done it for a reason: because I became a target for the criminals. Armed gangs started to cruise around the country. They pursued me, in particular, on the territory of Ukraine,” he said.
Ukraine nationalists attempt to storm Kiev Supreme Court
Russia Today reports that Radical activists representing the Right Sector group are now trying to storm Kiev’s Supreme Court building.
They have blocked all entrances into the building and surrounded its perimeter.
Around 100 activists prevented Supreme Court employees from entering the building through the back door.
Near the building, a stage has been set up with audio equipment. Car tires have been brought to the building, but haven’t yet been set on fire.
The activists disrupted the convention of judges that was scheduled for Monday.
A few judges, who were in the building before the attack, were led out by the activists shouting “Lustration!”
The protesters demand they adopt lustration legislation, so that people connected to any former regime may not take office under the new authorities.
The far right activists are concerned that judicial authorities may grant 150 ousted officials power, despite their relationship with the ousted president.
The 150 include Viktor Yanukovich, ex-head of the presidential administration, Andrey Klyuyev, ex-premiers Sergey Arbuzov and Nikolay Azarov, and Interior Ministry and judicial officials, and their family members.
Right Sector is known for its violent behavior and radical far right nationalist views.
The Right Sector movement first appeared at the end of November 2013 supporting pro-EU crowds in Kiev's Independence Sq. (Maidan).
The movement is headed by Dmitry Yarosh. In March, the ultra-nationalist movement decided to become a political party, nominating Yarosh for president.
Russia has put Yarosh on an international wanted list and charged him with inciting terrorism after he urged Chechen terrorist leader, Doku Umarov, to attack Russia over the Ukrainian conflict.
The far-right leader has also threatened to destroy Russian pipelines in Ukraine.
Russian Military Opens Massive Nuclear War Drill
As Western attention was fixated on a Russian military buildup near Ukraine, Moscow launched a nuclear offensive exercise, media reports say.
The Russian daily Nezavisimaya Gazeta says Russia’s Strategic Missile Forces began a massive three-day exercise on Thursday, involving 10,000 soldiers and 1,000 pieces of equipment from over 30 units.
The major purpose of the drill, according to the report - which cites multiple senior Russian military officers - is to ensure that Russia’s Strategic Missile Forces have sufficient readiness to conduct offensive operations involving the massive and simultaneous use of nuclear missiles.
Troops were expected to conduct surveillance for chemical, biological and radiological threats, and to identify and stop conventional efforts to thwart the offensive.
Russian strategic missile forces chief, Col. Gen. Sergei Karakaev, first unveiled plans for the command staff exercise in December, Nezavisimaya Gazeta reports.
The drill was expected to focus on the Omsk and Orenburg armies of Karakaev's missile forces, and to involve 1,000 pieces of equipment belonging to over 30 units of the Russian military.
The Nezavisimaya Gazeta article said there was "no connection between the current nuclear exercise and the crisis in Ukraine," noting that testing the readiness of Russia’s strategic forces is especially important, in light of the “current reality of the world situation.”
KIEV COUP LOSING CONTROL
Protesters in the Ukrainian city of Donetsk have seized the regional department building of Ukraine’s Security Service, local media report.
This, after pro-Russian rallies happened across Ukraine during the weekend.
“The people’s militia seized Ukraine’s Security Service in 15 minutes, at 3:32 in the morning,” activists tell Ukraine's Vesti newspaper.
On Sunday, thousands of people waving Russian flags, flooded the streets of eastern Ukraine.
Demonstrators in the cities of Donetsk, Lugansk, and Kharkov seized state offices, while in Donetsk they also demanded an independence referendum.
Violence broke out in the city of Kharkov where pro-Russian protesters clashed with alleged activists from the far-right Right Sector.
Fireworks were used as weapons during the scuffle, with several explosions heard. However, there were no reports of injuries as the police managed to quickly separate the sides.
Following the incident, the Maidan activists had to crawl inside the corridor, erected by police for their protection, as the crowd threw foreign objects at them.
Following the rally, around 1,500 pro-Russian activists made their way to Kharkov’s regional administration HQ, UNIAN news agency reports.
Despite the administration being guarded by police in riot gear, a group of protesters have managed to penetrate the building.
The storm began after the organizers of the protests urged participants “to support Donetsk and Lugansk where government buildings were seized earlier in the day.”
According to anti-Maidan activists, around 10,000 people participated in the protest in Kharkov on Sunday.
Pro-Russian rallies are taking place almost every weekend in major cities in the Russian- speaking part of Ukraine since the nationalist coup ousted president, Viktor Yanukovich, in late February.
One of the first laws the new government revoked was the regional status of the Russian language, which sent a clear message to people in the country’s east.
Centre-left candidate Solis wins Costa Rica presidential run-off with 78% of votes
A centre-left academic Luis Guillermo Solis easily won Costa Rica's presidential election on Sunday.
The former diplomat representing the Citizen Action Party (PAC) won with around 78% of votes by tapping in to public anger at rising inequality and government corruption scandals, Reuters says.
The win dislodges a two-party dynasty that has governed the coffee-producing country for decades.
His rival Johnny Araya of the ruling National Liberation Party (PLN) last month halted his campaign as polls showed him with little or no chance of catching Solis.
France pulls out of Rwandan genocide commemoration after complicity accusations
France pulls out of the 20th commemoration of the Rwanda genocide, after President Paul Kagame says that France played ‘a direct role’ in one of the vilest events of the 20th century.
The accusations are voiced by Kagame in an interview with African weekly, Jeune Afrique, published on Sunday.
He says France had a “direct role in the political preparation of genocide and participation in its execution.”
France aided the Hutu-led government of Juvenal Habyarimana in Rwanda, by helping to train and arm its military.
After Habyarimana’s assassination, a 100 day slaughter of Tutsis & moderate Hutus left 500,000 to 1,060,000 million people dead, according to different estimates.
Paris also sent its military to carry out UN- mandated Operation Turquoise, aimed at establishing a safe zone in the country...
Critics say it propped up the crumbling Hutu government, and helped many guilty genocide perpetrators to escape the retribution of the advancing Tutsi Rwandan Patriotic Front.
Rwanda’s Foreign Minister Louise Mushikiwabo says Paris must face the “difficult truth” about its role in the genocide.
Belgium, a former colonial power of Rwanda, which had a peacekeeping force at the time the bloodshed started and is also mentioned by Kagame as a culprit in the genocide, says it will still send a delegation.
Unlike France, Belgium has apologized to Rwanda for failing to prevent the atrocities.
The Rwandan genocide was among the worst humanitarian catastrophes of the last century.
Official mourning for the lives lost 20 years ago, began three months ago in Rwanda.
Apart from the direct damage, this evil act dealt a blow to the United Nations, which failed to act to stop the ongoing bloodshed, giving fuel to the supporters of the concept of “humanitarian interventions.”
Its legacy is evident today, as humanitarian reasons are used and misused by countries pursuing their own geopolitical interests.
US operates global drone war from German base – ex-pilot
Testimony by a former US Air Force drone pilot has revealed that the US is using its Ramstein Air Base in Germany, to wage its controversial drone warfare in Africa, Yemen, and Pakistan.
“The entire drone war of the US military wouldn't be possible without Germany," Brandon Bryant, who resigned in 2011, told NDR television and Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper.
Last year, German media revealed that the US uses its military bases in Germany to conduct its killings of suspected terrorists in Somalia.
But Bryant now says that Ramstein Air Base in the German state of Rhineland-Palatinate is involved in strikes on Pakistan and Yemen.
During his five years of service, Bryant flew over 1,000 operations in Pakistan and Yemen.
He said his unit was responsible for 1,262 targeted killings. Although Bryant was sat at a control pad in New Mexico – far away from the actual drones – there is mounting evidence that the base in Germany plays a key role.
Data from the remote controlled drones is transmitted via satellite to Germany.
It is then sent back to the US via fiber optic cables. Live pictures are then analyzed and classified by teams of US intelligence officers in Germany, suggesting that Ramstein truly is the nerve centre behind the operations.
Bryant said that Ramstein was always “the first port of call” during any strike.
Polls show that the majority of Germans have consistently disapproved of drone strikes, saying they are secretive, do not follow any legal process, and can prove ineffective as "wrong targets" are often "eliminated."
Aware of these concerns, the US – which has a permanent military presence in Germany guaranteed by post-WWII agreements – denies that its German base, which houses over 600 personnel, is directly involved in the strikes.
"The US government has confirmed that such armed and remote aircrafts are not flown or controlled from US bases in Germany," a US government spokesperson, Steffen Seibert, told reporters as recently as Friday.
In total, up to 900 people may have been killed in Yemen since strikes began in 2002. Over 3,700 people have died in Pakistan since 2004.
The figures are collated on the basis of reports by The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, an independent online news source, as the CIA or Pentagon do not reveal any official figures.
Foreign policy spokesperson for the Greens party, Omid Nouripour, urges Angela Merkel’s government to take action:
"It is shameful that the German government simply closes its eyes to violations of international law on German territory," Nouripour tells DPA news agency.
While the new revelations may further strain relationships between Washington and Berlin (already tense after Edward Snowden's leaks) they are not likely to lead to specific measures from Germany.
Berlin cannot freely inspect – much less close down – US bases, without pulling out of key military cooperation agreements.
Over 1,500 Palestinian children killed by Israeli forces since 2000 – PA minister
Over 1,500 Palestinian children have died at the hands of Israeli forces since 2000, the Palestinian Authority's minister of social affairs, Kamal Sharafi, said on Palestinian Children's Day, yesterday.
Another 6,000 have been injured and over 10,000 arrested, Palestinian news agency Ma’an quoted Sharafi as saying. Two hundred children are still in detention in Israeli prisons.
"Protecting and supporting children should be a national responsibility," Sharafi said, urging the Palestinian Authority to approve a law for the protection of minors.
The international community has criticized Israel for the mistreatment of Palestinian minors.
In March 2013, a United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) report stated that Palestinian children detained by the Israeli military in the West Bank are “systematically” ill-treated.
Each year, some 700 Palestinian children aged 12 to 17 – mainly boys – are arrested, interrogated, and detained by Israel's army, police, and security agents, UNICEF said in the 22-page document.
According to the report, the ill-treatment often begins at the point of arrest, when children are woken by heavily-armed soldiers and forcibly brought to an interrogation center “tied and blindfolded, sleep-deprived and in a state of extreme fear.”
In June 2013, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) issued a report stating that thousands of Palestinian children are being systematically injured, tortured, and used as human shields by Israel.
During the 10-year period examined by UN human rights experts, up to 7,000 children aged 9 to 17 were arrested, interrogated and kept captive, CRC said in the report.
IRAN & PAKISTAN HOLD JOINT NAVAL DRILL
A Pakistani fleet of warships has docked at the southern Iranian port city of Bandar Abbas to hold a joint naval drill with Iran in the strategic Strait of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf, a senior Iranian commander says.
The flotilla arrived in Bandar Abbas on Saturday where it will stay for four days, says the Iranian Navy's second-in-command for operations, Rear-Admiral Shahram Irani.
“The most important plan of the Pakistani fleet during its stay in Bandar Abbas is to stage joint maneuvers with select units of the Iranian Navy on April 8th, which will be held in the eastern waters of the Strait of Hormuz,” he adds.
He says that the Pakistani fleet is conveying a message of peace and friendship and will help boost military cooperation between Tehran and Islamabad.
The commander notes that the fleet involves a missile-launcher warship, a logistic warship and an advanced submarine.
Iranian and Pakistani naval authorities will hold official meetings during the Pakistani fleet’s stay, says the commander.
BAHRAIN IS NOT "NORMAL"
Tens of thousands of Bahraini protesters have staged an anti-regime demonstration ahead of the start of the Formula One Grand Prix.
On Friday, around 200,000 men and women marched along 3.5 kilometers (2 miles) on a highway west of the capital, Manama.
The demonstration was organized by al-Wefaq National Islamic Society, the country’s main opposition party.
The protesters, who were carrying national flags and posters, chanted pro-democracy slogans and called for the release of prisoners jailed during the regime's crackdown on protests.
"The people demand democracy and reject tyranny," a poster read in Arabic and English.
Anti-regime protesters have held similar rallies every year, since 2011. They call now on the Formula One governing body, FIA, to stop the race over the ongoing crackdown by the Al Khalifa regime, against peaceful protests.
Rights activists also say that the Formula One event is being used as a political tool to make the world believe that the situation in Bahrain is normal.
Since the invasion of Bahrain by Saudi and United Arab Emirates troops on March 14th, 2011, they have assisted Bahraini Royals in their crackdown on peaceful protesters.
According to local sources, scores of people have been killed, and hundreds arrested.
Physicians for Human Rights says doctors and nurses have been detained, tortured, or "disappeared" because they have "evidence of atrocities committed by the authorities, security forces, and riot police", in their crack-down on protesters.
Russian security detains Ukrainian citizens on suspicion of preparing subversive acts
Russian secret services have detained 25 citizens of Ukraine on suspicion of preparing subversive acts on Russian territory, Moscow-based NTV channel says.
“According to the information from the secret services, the terrorist acts were due to take place from March 14th through to March 16th in the Rostov, Volgograd, Tver, Oryol, and Belgorod regions, as well as the constituent republic of Kalmykia and Tatarstan,” the report says.
“A total of 25 persons, including 3 Right Sector activists were detained,” NTV says. “They admitted they had been receiving instructions from Ukraine’s Security Service.”
Their tasks included gathering data on any redeployments of army vehicles in the parts of Russia bordering Ukraine and establishing contacts with radical organizations in Russia, the report says.
“An inquiry into the detainees is underway and preliminary investigations have begun,” NTV says.
“The so-called Ukrainian leadership is making direct threats of what they call a ‘guerilla war’ on the territory of Russia and a question arises in this connection of whether or not we’re ready for this,” Russian official, Ovsiyenko, said recently, after another foreigner was caught with weapons in Moscow.
“A man who had arrived from Ukraine with a huge arsenal of munitions and explosives - quite possibly, for translating those threats into life - was detained in the Moscow region several days ago,” he says. “All the details of the situation are being clarified now, as a criminal case against him has been instituted.”
Crimes related to extremist activities grew almost 20% in the Central Federal District last year. “Given the current developments in Ukraine, this situation is causing a really big concern,” Ovsiyenko says.
ISRAEL PUSHES AS TALKS DRONE ON
Israel's regime approves the implementation of an archeology project in Eastern Jerusalem, in a new move that may end the "peace talks" with the Palestinian Authority.
The Israeli Interior Ministry announces the decision on Friday to push ahead with plans to build a visitor centre in the neighborhood of Silwan, outside the Old City walls.
Residents of the area and the Palestinians have already objected to the project.
The ministry, however, defends the decision, saying the complex "will show important archaeological discoveries to the public."
Palestinians say it is mainly to strengthen the Zionist regime’s presence there, and is a part of Israel's attempts to end Eastern Jerusalem's Islamic and Palestinian identity.
Last month, Palestinian media reported that several ancient archeological sites have been damaged, as a result of Israel’s controversial excavations in Silwan.
The Palestinian al-Aqsa Foundation says the excavations are part of an Israeli plan to build a seven-story building which will serve as a Zionist cultural centre.
The go-ahead for the controversial project comes just after the Palestinian Authority said during the US-brokered negotiations with Tel Aviv, that it will never recognize Israel as a "Jewish state."
The Palestinians insist that no peace deal will be achieved without an independent Palestinian state with Eastern al-Quds as its capital.
There are reports of clashes today, between Palestinians and Israeli troops near prisons, as the latest batch of prisoners freed under the talks fails to run smoothly.
Israel’s chief negotiator Tzipi Livni says that, after the talks reached an "impasse", Israel will not go ahead with the promised release of 26 Palestinian inmates, AFP reports today.
Russia expects NATO to respect bilateral agreements — Lavrov
Russia expects explanations from NATO for its decision to deploy additional troops in E. European states, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says
“Russia-NATO relations are based on certain rules, particularly the Rome Declaration, under which no country has the right to deploy additional troops in East European states,” Lavrov says after talks with his Kazakhstan counterpart Yerlan Idrisov Thursday.
Russia and Kazakhstan both express hope that unbiased work by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) mission in Ukraine, will help overcome the political crisis.
“Russia and Kazakhstan have common approaches towards the situation in Ukraine," Lavrov says.
"We have agreed on the importance of stopping extremism, normalizing the situation and carrying out a constitutional reform."
US USES NATO TO DIVIDE AND RULE EUROPE
NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen announces the suspension of all military or civilian cooperation with Moscow after its "annexation" of Crimea from Ukraine.
Rasmussen earlier accused Russia of violating Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty.
Meanwhile, NATO's Supreme Allied Commander for Europe, US Air Force General Philip Breedlove says NATO is working on a package of proposals to reinforce European allies by air, land and sea.
Russian generals and government ministers have reacted with disbelief, if not amusement, as the US seems to be leading Europe's people by the nose, using a hyped up Russian threat.
Finian Cunningham writes in Press Tv:
“The US is prepared to plunge Europe into a war with Russia in order for Washington to preserve its hegemony over the transatlantic axis.”
He says a war would be aimed at preventing Russia and Europe from developing closer trade and political ties, and preserving the US dollar as the world's reserve currency.
“Washington does not want to see European and Russian economies integrating on the vital issue of trade in oil and gas --- the foundation for economic and social development,” the commentator states.
He says that the enormous oil and gas volumes supplied by Moscow have led to the substantial alignment of European and Russian economies over the past two decades.
The value of European-Russian bilateral trade is over one trillion dollars annually - ten times more than that of the trade between the US and Russia, he explains.
“This trend was always seen as a strategic danger by Washington. It can be argued that the Cold War from 1945 to 1990 was deliberately instigated by the US, as a bulwark to counter the naturally inclined trade integration between Europe and Russia, owing to the latter's prodigious energy reserves and its continental proximity,” he says.
He says the strategic danger is twofold for the US. Close ties between Russia and Europe will leave no reason for America's military role in NATO shrinking US political influence in Europe, and:
“The second is that the European-Russian energy trade undermines the role of the American dollar as the world's reserve currency.
Exchanges in such a key world market will inevitably move to the use of the Euro/Ruble, which would spell the end of global American financial hegemony, and with that, the end of the monstrously indebted US economy.”
He emphasizes that the US has played the key role in creating the recent crisis in Ukraine... “which has seen the rise of an unelected fascist junta in Kiev, posing a serious threat to Russia.”
“The reality is that Washington has done everything to escalate this conflict, in particular between Russia and Europe, for its own selfish strategic interests. That includes, if deemed necessary by the pyromaniacs in Washington, the ignition of all-out war in Europe.”
AMANO PRAISES ISRAEL's "IAEA RELATIONSHIP"
A political analyst says the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Yukiya Amano’s “praise” for Israel, undermines the “legitimacy and credibility” of the UN nuclear agency.
Meeting with Israeli President Shimon Peres this week, the IAEA chief turned a blind eye to international concerns about Tel Aviv’s nuclear arsenal, saying that Israel is a “valued partner” for the agency.
During the meeting, held at the headquarters of the UN nuclear agency in Vienna, Amano did not say anything about Israel’s illegal nuclear arsenal and activities.
Speaking to Press TV in an interview, Kaveh Afrasiabi, a political analyst, says he strongly believes “this is double standards running amok, because the praise that Mr. Amano had for Israel, is totally uncalled for.”
He says Israel has so far defied a resolution overwhelmingly approved by the UN General Assembly in December 2012 calling on Tel Aviv to open up to IAEA inspections.
Mr Afrasiabi says “one is at a loss for words to describe and indeed find out” the reasons why Amano failed to press Israel to abide by the UN and international community’s will, when it is a clandestine nuclear weapons holding state.
The commentator adds that the IAEA chief already has a credibility problem, as recent WikiLeaks revelations show that “he is overly pro-American and pro-Western.”
He repeats that Amano must pressure Israel to open up to IAEA inspections, if he is to perform his duty even-handedly.
Israel is believed to be the only possessor of nuclear arms in the Middle East, reportedly maintaining 200 to 400 atomic warheads.
The Israeli regime has never allowed any inspection of its nuclear facilities, and continues to defy UN and world calls to join the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
Mr Amano also called for a nuclear free Middle East and one is tempted to ask:
How does he expect to achieve that, then?
Free-fall: IMF to accelerate Ukraine’s economic collapse?
Patrick Young, expert in world financial markets, asks now: "Will Maidan optimism be extinguished as the citizens of Ukraine realize their economic plight means considerable imminent hardship?
He says Ukraine is bankrupt and about to discover that Western politicians who promised prosperity have been encouraging the IMF to deliver a leveraged poisoned chalice.
With Crimea returned to Russia, the IMF, he says, is offering what elected governments have been refusing since 2010.
The bailout, Young explains, fell primarily to the IMF, as the EU - unable to support its failing currency zone - couldn’t afford a bailout.
The EU remains an empire, Patrick Young says, with multiple competing Presidential Emperors, but no clothes for any of them.
Ukraine, he says, has been economically abandoned to IMF austerity before it even has a new president.
Kiev is poised to become the Athens of Central Europe, he says - but not for architectural or cultural reasons.
Yanukovich pivoted away from the EU pact for three reasons: eliminating gas subsidies; widespread government cutbacks including civil service payrolls; and pensions halved.
Economists predict the 2013 recession will involve a 5-20% GDP loss - a catastrophic depression akin to Greece.
Nobody knows how much Ukraine may need to survive – a $50 billion package?
The Western embrace, he says, is about to turn very chilly for Ukraine’s citizens. Extreme nationalists are already voicing dissent.
One pivotal point Patrick Young makes: if the IMF lends to Ukraine, that affirms Crimea’s status: the IMF says it cannot lend money to a state illegally partitioned.
The West has blinked on its ‘invasion’ rhetoric, Young says.
YEMEN SEEKS END TO US DRONE CRIMES
A new organization has been founded in Yemen, seeking to end to the deadly US drone program there, Press TV reports.
The report says the National Organization for Drone Victims has been established by families of drone victims and rights activists.
They have formed the organization which they say seeks to criminalize the use of US drone strikes in Yemen and to prosecute any official who supports such a policy.
They say any government official supporting US drones should be tried in a criminal court.
“Today, we launch the start of this new organization which will be the starting point for us to get justice and to take legal measures on a national and international scale against anyone who is aiding these crimes,”Mohammad Ali al-qwali, a Yemeni anti-drone activist, says.
According to the organization, 13 US drone operations were conducted last month in the country, killing over 20 Yemenis.
Earlier this week, a US assassination drone targeted a vehicle in the southern Yemeni province of Abyan, killing an unknown number of people there.
The US administration is under heavy criticism for launching drone raids in Yemen and several other Muslim countries. The airstrikes were initiated under former US president, George W. Bush, and have been stepped up under the present President, Barack Obama.
Washington claims that the unmanned US aircraft attacks target al-Qaeda militants, but local sources say civilians have been the main victims of the non-UN-sanctioned airstrikes.
On December 15, 2013, the Yemeni parliament strongly condemned the US drone strikes inside the country. The legislature also passed a law banning the drone attacks.
Last October, Human Rights Watch said US killer drone strikes in Yemen have led to the deaths of many civilians over the past years in a blatant violation of international law.
As John Kerry promises Lavrov that the US is committed to diplomatic means, (to resolve the potentially explosive Ukraine impasse), the puppets who now control Kiev, vote for NATO "exercises" on Ukraine's territory.
Ukraine MPs vote to host NATO exercises
What is left of Ukraine’s parliament today, has unanimously approved a series of joint military exercises with NATO in Ukraine.
“This is a good opportunity to develop our armed forces,” AFP quotes acting Defense Minister Mikhail Koval as saying at the Verkhovna Rada session, ahead of a 235-0 vote on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, NATO foreign ministers are gathered in Brussels, to "discuss the situation in Ukraine".
CIA FOOLS US' PEOPLE AND GOVERNMENT
A classified report by the US Senate, shows that the CIA, for years, has misled both government and people, over its brutal interrogation program.
According to the report, the CIA has concealed details about the severity of its interrogation methods, overstated the significance of plots and prisoners, and taken credit for vital pieces of intelligence that detainees possessed that, in fact, they had surrendered before they were forced to endure such harsh techniques.
The 6,300-page report, revealed by The Washington Post, was built on detailed chronologies of several CIA detainees, and it documents a pattern of uncorroborated claims, as agency officials sought permission to utilize and later tried to defend, harsh methods that yielded little or no intelligence.
In June 2013, the CIA issued a lengthy classified rebuttal to the Senate report, asserting that its program was effective and provided significant counterterrorism information.
“The CIA described [its program] repeatedly, both to the Department of Justice and eventually to Congress as getting unique, otherwise unobtainable intelligence that helped disrupt terrorist plots and save thousands of lives,” says a US official briefed on the report.
“Was that actually true? The answer is no,” he says.
The damning disclosures also include the abuses used within secret jails, where terror suspects were kept as prisoners.
CIA spokesperson Dean Boyd says the agency will review declassification submissions "expeditiously."
"We've not been provided with a final copy of the [report], and until we're given the opportunity to review it, we are unable to comment on details it may contain," he adds.
The report has caused a deep split between intelligence agencies and the Senate panel tasked with conducting an oversight of spying activities.
The Israeli regime has ordered the seizure of 300,000 square meters of Palestinian land in the city of Nablus, north of the occupied West Bank, for its illegal settlements.
"Military orders have been issued to confiscate 300 dunums of land in Jaloud village to establish an educational compound, a cemetery and farmland," says Ghassan Daghlas, the Palestinian official in charge of monitoring illegal settlers' activities in the area.
Dunum, a unit of land measurement, roughly equals 1,000 square meters in Palestine.
Daghlas adds that Palestinian land in Jaloud and the surrounding villages has long been subject to confiscation by Israeli officials.
On March 28th, the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) condemned the Israeli regime for its continued settlement building activities and the violation of Palestinians’ rights.
The UN's top human rights body censured the Israeli demolition of Palestinian houses and their expulsions and called on Tel Aviv to immediately stop all settlement activities.
The presence and continued expansion of Israeli settlements in occupied Palestine is a major obstacle to establishing peace in the Middle East.
More than half a million Israelis live in over 120 illegal settlements built since Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and East al-Quds in 1967.
The UN and most countries regard the Israeli settlements as illegal because the territories were captured by Israel in a war in 1967 and are hence subject to the Geneva Conventions, which deny construction on occupied lands.
It was Cesar Chavez Day, yesterday, honoring a man who loved and cared for all migrant workers...
Mexico’s National Migration Institute says about 370 child migrants have been found abandoned by traffickers crossing the country into the US... in just one week.
The children - one as young as 9 - were rescued across 14 states in Mexico between March 17th and 24th, the institute says in a statement.
Mexico authorities say 163 of the children under 18-years-old, were found travelling alone.
Most of the children showed signs of extreme fatigue, dehydration and foot injuries, along with disorientation at being abandoned at unknown, often dangerous, locations, the institute says.
They often face the threat of accidents, robbery, rape or being forcibly recruited by criminal gangs.
Traffickers are paid between USD 3,000 and USD 5,000 to take the children, most of them hailing from Central America, to the US, via Mexico.
In February, Mexican President Enrique Nieto said he had discussed the issue of Mexican immigrants with US President Barack Obama.
Washington is causing a humanitarian crisis with its anti-immigrant policies, the Mexican president said.
Over 47,000 migrants have died while traveling through Mexico in the past six years, with an estimated 8,800 unidentified bodies, states a report published by the Mexican newspaper La Jornada, late last year.
Mexicans make up 52% of all undocumented immigrants in the US, says the Pew Hispanic Center, a nonpartisan research organization that seeks to improve understanding of the US Hispanic population.
Russia and China both say: excessive military activities in Northeast Asia are unacceptable.
“We are concerned about the continuing escalation of tensions on the Korean Peninsula, which resulted in the exchange of artillery fire between the DPRK (North Korea) and the Republic of Korea (South Korea) in the area of the so-called Northern Limit Line in the Yellow Sea,” Russia's Foreign Affairs ministry says today.
“One cannot but see that periodic deterioration of the situation in the region coincides in time with the annual large-scale military exercises of the United States and the Republic of Korea,” the ministry says.
“We have repeatedly noted the inadmissibility of excessive military activities in Northeast Asia, especially such provocative elements as bombing practices with the use of strategic bombers and landing operations to seize certain ‘administrative centres’ of foreign states,” the ministry says.
Rally in Kharkov demands autonomy for 8 Ukrainian southeastern regions
Marchers handed over a petition Sunday to Russia's consulate, asking for Russia's help in ensuring a fair referendum on the federalization of Ukraine and autonomous status for its southeastern regions.
The column of marchers then went to the Polish consulate to demand that the West stop interfering in Ukraine’s domestic affairs.
“We're all descendants of the Donetsk-Krivoi Rog and Odessa republics. We have always been the real basis of our country,” said an appeal read out by Yuri Apukhtin, a leader of the Kharkov Civic Forum.
“We call on the forces of Ukraine’s southeastern regions to unite, to set up a coordination council and form a united front against putschists in Kiev. We see our place in this country as an historically formed southeastern autonomy.”
Apukhtin says an agreement on joint actions has been reached with the leaders of similar rallies in Donetsk and Lugansk.
Participants in the rally also urged the release from home arrest, of activist Ignat Kromskoi, for “organizing mass disorder”, as he took part in moves to expel radicals from the Kharkov region administration building in early March.
Palestinians Mark Land Day
Palestinians marked the 37th anniversary of Land Day yesterday as they demonstrated across the occupied territories.
Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza held mass rallies, facing down Israeli occupation troops' aggressions against them.
In the Gaza Strip, people joined a rally in the northern town of Beit Lahiya, and at Khan Younis in the south, fresh olive trees were planted in commemoration.
Islamic Jihad's commander asserted that the Palestinian resistance is the only way to regain national rights "that will never be abandoned."
MAIDAN AND RIGHT SECTOR THUGS' VIOLENCE SYSTEMATIC AND RISING
The population of Southeastern Ukraine expressing their discontent with the current government in Kiev are facing increasingly violent intimidation.
A recent anti-Maidan motor rally in Zaporozhye was attacked by ‘self-defense’ nationalist thugs.
Fighters from the local Maidan self-defense nationalist squad, blocked and attacked a column of cars bearing Russian, regional and Ukrainian flags that was heading from a neighboring town of Melitopol to join an anti-government rally in Zaporozhye.
The anti-Maidan activists met to rally for Ukraine joining the Customs Union and to protect the Russian language in the region, an activist from Melitopol, Ekaterina Umonets, told RT.
To support their cause, some 15 cars and 2 mini-buses left Meritopol to join the protest movement in Zaporozhye, a city of over 750,000 people.
“As the motor rally was about to enter Zaporozhye, it was clear, that an ambush was being organized by the Maidan criminals,” eyewitness Artyom Tymchenko told RT.
Once the motorists reached the bus and railway station, ultra-right forces attacked the cars to block their movement.
“Near the railway station the column was stopped by the Maidan bandits, who started beating people, taking their property, and smashing their cars,” Tymchenko says.
Maidan self-defense forces justified their actions by saying that they “suspected” the presence of weapons in the cars, and thus reacted to the “pro- Russian separatists and provocateurs,” the local media reported.
The local authorities, however, did not report any weapons in possession of the activists.
Motorists, with many women and elderly people among them, say they suffered “a sudden attack by members of Right Sector.” But police provided little or no help, as the attackers continued to intimidate the activists.
“The police, who are supposed to sort out the situation, aren't going about their job with any enthusiasm and, although the attackers didn't hide their faces, no-one's been arrested so far.
"Which simply leads to the conclusion that they acted under the protection of the criminals currently in power.”
Anti-Maidan protests in Zaporozhye are being held under the slogan "Our Town" and led by Vladimir Balagura. After the attack on the car convoy, "Our Town" ran a fundraiser, to repair the damaged vehicles.
Representatives from "Our Town" movement appeal to the leaders of the Right sector and local Maidan self-defense squads to disarm their men...
“It is very scary to witness people running at you with weapons, shovels, and batons, with chains, and metal rods,” an Our Town representative said after meeting the local governor Valery Baranov, as she urged the authorities to “get rid of these men from our streets and disarm them.”
In another worrying incident this week, a group of Ukrainian vigilantes have been hunting out people they accuse of being "pro-Russian thugs" in Dnepropetrovsk in eastern Ukraine.
Meanwhile Right Sector, the most prominent nationalist movement in Ukraine, has become a political party, with the leader Dmitry Yarosh, who is wanted on terrorist charges in Russia, running as presidential candidate in Ukraine's elections on May 25th.
The Right Sector's manifesto, announced in early January, says that “all those who at this point try to tame the revolutionary energy of the masses, should be proclaimed traitors and punished in the most severe way,” GlobalSecurity.org quotes.
US war plan for Europe and Russia By Finian Cunningham
The US is prepared to plunge Europe into a war with Russia in order for Washington to preserve its hegemony over the transatlantic axis.
The key issues, are the prevention of Russia and Europe developing closer trade and political ties - primarily through a vast trade in energy fuels - and the dollar's survival as the world reserve currency.
So vital are these two issues for continued US hegemony, that the US is prepared to sacrifice millions of lives in a war between Russia and its so-called transatlantic European "ally".
This shocking revelation comes from a former European NATO commander...
You can read the full article here, which pinpoints the UK's role:
Putin invites Obama to consider international action to stabilize Ukraine
In a 'phone conversation with his US counterpart Barack Obama, Russian President Vladimir Putin drew attention to the escalating violent acts by extremists in Ukraine, who are committing acts of intimidation against civilians, authorities and law enforcers in different parts of Ukraine and in Kiev, and do so with impunity, the Kremlin’s press-service says.
As a result, the Russian leader suggested considering likely steps by the international community, to help stabilize the situation.
It's agreed that Russian and US foreign ministers will discuss the specifics of such joint work in the near future.
TURKEY OFFICIALS CAUGHT PLANNING WAR
“I'll make up a cause of war by ordering a missile attack on Turkey.” This leaked conversation is damaging the highest echelons of the Turkish government, as it reveals their plan to cause a a major provocation in Syria, and it is why they are struggling to box in Turkey's social media.
The leaked audiotapes reveal Turkey’s highest ministers planning to stage anti- Assad military interventions in Syria and led to YouTube being "shut" internally.
Accusations of treachery and betrayal of Turkey's political interests are rife – “a declaration of war,” is how Turkey's Foreign Minister, A. Davutoglu, puts it.
Intelligence chief, Hakan Fidan, is heard suggesting seizing the chance to secure Turkish intervention in the Syrian conflict - a war that's killed 140,000 people - so far.
In the conversation, Davutoglu is heard saying that PM Erdogan sees any attack on Syria as an "opportunity" to build Turkey's troop presence on Syrian land, where it has supported rebel groups.
WEST BITES AT RUSSIAN FEDERATION
The Russian Federal Security Service says that western countries seek to destabilize the internal situation within Russia itself, after the events in Crimea, and calls for urgent measures to ensure the security of Russian nationals, including those living in the newly-formed Crimean Federal District.
“The number of external threats to the state has increased. The legal desire of the people of Crimea and eastern Ukraine to be joined with Russia, is driving the US and its allies into hysteria. They are trying to destabilize the socio-political and economic situation in Russia,” FSB Deputy Director A. Malyovanyi says at a ceremony on Friday when President Putin met senior officers receiving promotion.
“Under these circumstances we are drawing up and implementing offensive counter-intelligence and intelligence measures, aimed at thwarting such aspirations,” Malyovanyi went on to say, pledging to protect all Russian nationals from radicals and extremists penetrating Russia, including within the Crimean Federal District.
He said that this year the Russian Federal Security Service has prevented 14 terror- linked crimes and liquidated 76 terrorists and their leaders, who took up violence in the North Caucasus. 235 militants and their accomplices are now being detained.
“The Russian Federal Security Service continues fighting underground terrorist groups in North Caucasus with the aim of normalizing the situation.
"We are doing everything possible to ensure the effective functioning of state power and the region’s economic development, as well as the constitutional rights of its citizens.
"We are going to fulfill these tasks,” the FSB deputy director said.
Ukraine's elected President, V. Yanukovych, calls for a referendum in every Ukraine region.
Yanukovych makes his appeal in a statement sent to media outlets on Friday.
"As president, who is with you in thought and soul, I ask every single sensible citizen of Ukraine not to let yourselves be used by the imposters!
"Demand a referendum on determining the status of every region in Ukraine," he says in the statement.
“Only a referendum on the whole of Ukraine in every region can stabilize the political situation, and preserve its independence and unity.”
Residents in southern and eastern Ukraine are calling for the federalization of Ukraine & more autonomy for different regions, after Ukraine’s Autonomous Republic of Crimea voted to be a part of Russia in their referendum this month.
Thousands attended rallies in at least 2 major eastern Ukrainian cities on March 22, calling for a referendum like Crimea's, to secede from the former Soviet state and join Russia.
Protesters in Kharkiv in the north-east also demanded a vote on their fate, chanting "Referendum" and "Russia".
They were also there to respect those killed in clashes between far-right and pro-Russian protesters, on March 15th.
In Donetsk, people came out to show their support for Russia, demanding that the Donetsk governor resign, as he was appointed by what they called Kiev's illegitimate pro-Western leaders.
The pro-Russian demonstrators also urged the authorities to immediately release their leader, Pavel Gubarev, who is being held by Ukrainian security forces.
Ukraine has been gripped by a political crisis since November 2013, after Victor Yanukovych refused to sign an Association Agreement with the European Union, in favor of one with Russia.
US FAILS HUMAN RIGHTS TESTS
THE UN TEST:
The UN Human Rights Committee, chaired by the UK law professor Sir Nigel Rodley, is composed of 18 independent experts from different countries.
Their report says that the US has failed on a series of human rights issues, including: lack of transparency in its electronic surveillance programs, torture, targeted drone killings, secret detentions, and the closure of the Guantanamo Bay prison.
President Obama's administration is the least transparent in US history, despite his election rhetoric.
('Though some experts argue that they can see right through him.)
Associated Press reports “More often than ever, the administration censored government files or outright denied access to them last year under the US Freedom of Information Act [FOIA].”
The AP report continues, “The government’s efforts to be more open about its activities last year, were their worst since President Barack Obama took office.”
TREATMENT OF THE YOUNG TEST
The United States is the only country in the world that sentences juveniles -- under 18 year olds -- to life in prison without parole.
The American Civil Liberties Union and Columbia Law School's Human Rights Institute argued at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights Tuesday, that kids convicted of serious crimes don't deserve such severe sentences.
"You need to have sentences that are intended to rehabilitate a child," Deborah LaBelle, an attorney with ACLU, tells The Huffington Post.
"You need to incarcerate them for the least amount of time to achieve that goal."
The UK's secret service has threatened to shut down the Guardian daily, for covering reports about the revelations of whistle- blower Edward Snowden.
His revelations uncovered the UK's true relationship to the US, and GCHQ's role.
Paul Johnson, Guardian deputy editor, says that the daily was threatened for printing Snowden’s disclosures of mass espionage.
“We were threatened that we'd be closed down. We were accused of endangering national security and people’s lives. It left us in a very difficult position,” he says.
Johnson also says that he has been informed (by a senior civil servant) that “the prime minister, the deputy prime minister, the foreign secretary, the home secretary and the attorney general, have got a problem with you.”
Cuba Rejects Western Interference in Ukraine
Cuba condemns the intervention of the US and NATO in Ukrainian internal affaire, describing it as a threat to world peace and security.
Cuba's permanent representative at the UN, Rodolfo Reyes, also condemns the instruments of western policy: the way a change of regime was achieved and Nato's support for a military doctrine ever more offensive, which includes the extension of NATO to Russia's borders.
This last stage is to be seen in the present Ukrainian crisis, where last month radical groups supported by the US and the EU, led to the overthrow of President elect, Victor Yanukovich, and the appointment of a pro-western government, he states.
During a meeting of the General Assembly to discuss the UN's approach to the situation in Ukraine, Reyes recalled recent statements made by Cuban president Raul Castro and Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez, on the peril of such interference for world peace.
The plenary session of the 193 UN member nations analyzed in particular, a resolution presented by the new Kiev authorities, which rejected the results of the March 16th referendum that approved the full integration of the Crimean peninsula into Russia.
The non mandatory document was adopted by 100 in favour, 11 against, and 58 abstentions.
Armenia, Belarus, Bolivia, Cuba, Nicaragua, the Democratic and Popular Republic of Korea, Russia, Syria, Sudan, Venezuela and Zimbabwe, voted against.
The US and most European states said yes.
In Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean, Asia and Oceania, the positions varied, including many who abstained in the vote.
Some backed the resolution, while expressing concerns about the new power in Ukraine being assumed by a government which came to power through violence, and by rupturing Ukraine's constitution and democracy.
For Russia, it was precisely this illegitimacy of the authorities imposed after a coup detat, that stood out among the many causes that led the people of Crimea, of Russian majority, to opt overwhelmingly for their re-incorporation into Russia, of which they were part for centuries, until 1954.
Ukrainian nationalists threaten to storm parliament after leader killed
2,000 nationalists from the Right Sector encircled Ukraine's parliament in Kiev, threatening to storm it, on Thursday.
They demanded the interior minister's resignation, after a leader, Muzychko, was killed in a police operation.
Up to 2,000 members of Right Sector, which was recently revamped into a political party, flooded the square in front of the Verkhovna Rada, on Thursday night.
The radicals, who brought tires to burn, banged on the Parliament’s doors, and smashed the glass parts in them.
Wearing masks and brandishing bats, they shouted "Avakov, get out!"
Parliament was empty except for guards, some administrative staff and reporters.
All the MPs had earlier left the building through an underground tunnel, RIA Novosti reports.
The protesters threatened to break into parliament if their demands weren't met, journalists reported from the scene.
The Rada’s security personnel concentrated in front of the entrance to the building, and prepared water cannons, urging journalists inside not to approach windows looking on to Constitution Square.
Several hours later activists announced the rally was over "for tonight" and that they had decided not to storm the building yet, but to reconvene Friday morning.
Today, Verkhovna Rada is holding an emergency session to discuss Avakov’s resignation, a representative of Right sector told Itar-Tass.
Right Sector activists were urged to gather outside Parliament at 9:00 GMT.
Interior Minister Arsen Avakov is held personally responsible by the nationalists for the death of Aleksandr Muzychko, also known as Sashko Bilyi, one of the Right Sector's leaders. Muzychko was declared killed in a police raid against his gang in Rovno, western Ukraine, on Tuesday.
After his death, Right Sector leaders threatened Avakov with revenge, although they did not say exactly what they would do. Dmitry Yarosh has called for the minister's dismissal.
"We’ll wait for negotiators from Parliament, - the MPs, but we won’t settle for Avakov’s resignation – we want his trial,” radicals announced through megaphones.
The radicals also blame the interior minister for not making enough effort in investigating the deaths of protesters during the Maidan standoff in January and February.
The leader of the UDAR party and former boxing champ, Vitaly Klitschko, went out to negotiate with Right Sector in front of the Rada yesterday.
Klitschko tried to persuade the radicals to give up the idea of storming the parliament building as “it will destabilize the current situation in Ukraine. The parliament building is empty, because the deputies have already left,” he explained to the group's activists.
MOLDOVA TURNS FROM EU TRAP
The Party of Socialists in the Republic of Moldova has launched its campaign to support Moldova's entry into the Customs Union between Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan.
“We have launched a nationwide signup campaign in support of Moldova’s accession to the Customs Union and then to the Eurasian Union. At the same time, we'll be informing people about the benefits of this foreign political course for our country,” leader of the party, MP, and former republican Deputy Prime Minister, Igor Dodon, says.
He notes that recent opinion polls suggest that an overwhelming majority of Moldovan citizens prefer to join the Customs Union instead of the European Union.
KIEV COUP REGIME BENT ON EU
The "main aim" now for Ukraine is European Union membership, Oleksandr Turchynov, appointed the Acting President of Ukraine says Wednesday, at the 21st meeting of the Committee on Parliamentary Cooperation between Ukraine and the EU.
“For Ukraine,signing an association agreement with the European Union is not the ultimate aim, it is the beginning of a new cooperation. We set ourselves the aim of full membership in the EU,” he says and adds that despite the situation with Crimea, "european integration continues."
EAST OF UKRAINE REJECTS EU COUP
Leaflets calling on President V. Yanukovych to return to restore law and order in Ukraine have appeared in public places in Odessa. Many people found them in their postboxes.
“You are our last hope. Otherwise, we will not have a choice other than to defend our lives, rights, honour and dignity with arms in hands!” a leaflet signed by the leadership of Ukraine’s National-Liberation Movement says.
Thousands of people marched through Odessa on Sunday to protest about the current political repression and usurpation of power in Ukraine.
They chanted slogans urging Yanukovych to return and protect Ukrainians from fascists.
Rostislav Barda, the leader of 'Resistance' and one of the march’s organizers, told ITAR-TASS that Victor Yanukovych, despite the mistakes he made, is Ukraine’s legitimate president according to the Constitution.
“Therefore, he must return to the country & fulfill his duty of protecting his people from those who illegally seized power in Ukraine and are now launching reprisals against Ukrainians,” the activist says.
UK MPs urge transparency over UK drone use
UK MPs have called for more transparency from the Ministry of Defence (MoD) to win public trust over their use of unmanned aerial drones.
Members of the Commons Defence Committee urged the MoD yesterday (Tuesday) to provide a "detailed public explanation" as called for by a UN special rapporteur, to shed more light on civilian casualties caused by drone attacks.
In their report, MPs said "misunderstandings and misinformation" have sparked public frustration about drones – or "remotely piloted air systems" as the Royal Air Force (RAF) prefers to call them.
The committee urged the MoD to accept the UN special rapporteur on human rights and counter- terrorism, Ben Emmerson QC’s proposal, which calls for detailed information to be made public about such incidents.
"We recognise that this is not a simple and straightforward request, as to do so could seriously jeopardise continuing operations," the recommendations suggested.
"Nonetheless, we recommend that, to the extent that it is operationally secure to do so, following an event which has resulted in confirmed civilian casualties, the MoD should seek to publish details about the incident and any lessons learned from the review process," the MPs said.
The committee questioned ministers’ statements on the use of drones as "apparently inconsistent" and demanded that the MoD clarify whether the UK military has been deploying armed drones only in Afghanistan, or if it has used them in attacks on Pakistan or other states as well.
"If public confidence is to be built around the use of remotely piloted air systems, it is important it is clear that UK aircraft have only been utilised in Afghanistan, & always in accordance with UK rules of engagement," it said.
However, the committee failed to even mention the casualty figures from UK drone strikes in Afghanistan, never mind challenge them.
Emmerson QC, in his report to the UN Human Rights Council earlier this month, urged the UK to “declassify and publish the results of the investigation into the March 2011 drone strike, and of any other report relating to the inflicting of civilian casualties through the use of remotely piloted aircraft in Afghanistan.”
According to Emmerson QC’s report, the death toll among civilians caused by the UK and US assassination drone strikes in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia continues to rise.
In Afghanistan, the report said, there was a threefold increase in drone-related civilian deaths between 2012 and 2013.
UK MPs yesterday colluded in slaughter, by refusing to fully respond to the UN's report.
UKRAINE TROOPS PREFERRED CRIMEA
The Ukrainian parliament has voted to dismiss the newly-appointed acting Defense Minister, Admiral Ihor Tenyukh, after he stated that a majority of troops in Crimea preferred to join the Russia army.
Tenyukh’s resignation failed on a first vote as only 197 lawmakers supported it, but a new resolution, after discussions, ended in a vote to relieve the acting defense minister from the post.
Parliament appointed Tenyukh as acting defense minister on February 27th, with 326 lawmakers voting in favour.
Mikhailo Koval was then voted in to serve as acting defense minister by 251 (226 required).
Kiev decides to tame eastern Ukraine by using foreign mercenaries, Itar-Tass reports.
The coup PM Turchynov, believes that law enforcement agencies in eastern regions cannot settle the issue of the pro-Russian movement themselves, the source says.
Ukraine's new authorities plan to attract US private military company Greystone Limited to suppress protests by the mostly Russian- speaking population in the east of Ukraine.
Ukraine's Security Service says mercenaries will be engaged in political searches and the protection of state security, because of the inability of Ukrainian law enforcement agencies to curb the leaders and activists of pro-Russian movements independently.
This initiative was put forward by oligarchs Ihor Kolomoyskyi, a co-owner of Ukraine’s PrivatBank, and Serhiy Taruta, head of the industrial union of Donbass, a coal basin in eastern Ukraine, as these business tycoons were appointed as governors in central Ukraine’s Dnepropetrovsk region and the eastern Ukraine’s Donetsk region, respectively.
A source in the Ukrainian Security Service which participated in a recent special meeting chaired by parliament-appointed interim President Oleksandr Turchynov, reported this fact.
“Turchynov believes that law enforcement agencies in the eastern regions cannot settle the issue of pro- Russian movements themselves, so they have now decided to attract foreign mercenaries,” the security official says.
“In debates over the action plan, Kolomoyskyi proposed “not to re-invent a bicycle”, because there are real people who have a clear idea of how much and how to pay,” he says.
Greystone security service is registered on the Caribbean island of Barbados. The company recruits people from different countries through its subsidiary 'Satelles Solutions Inc'.
The company promises its clients it provides the “best military from the whole world” to fulfill tasks in any part of the world up to large-scale operations.
Private military company Greystone Limited was established 47 years ago, and has UK roots, as veterans of the SAS registered an organization of mercenaries in 1967.
The company was called WatchGuard International and drew attention to itself after its abortive first large-scale operation — an attempt on the life of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, in 1971.
Then the organization undertook a second "operation" with retired US Navy SEALs, in Iraq in 2003-2011, when major corporations used Greystone services.
Greystone Limited is now one of the branches of a massive mercenary empire in the US which changes names constantly. It was Blackwater until 2009, then Xe Services and then Academi and now is "US Training Center".
Murders, shooting demonstrators, and arms smuggling have ensured its ill fame through- out events in the Middle East, Asia & Africa.
Now Ukraine is next in line.
There is no longer exact information about the size of the private military services market. It's estimated at a mere $200 billion annually.
US high-ranking officials have always held key posts in this mercenaries' empire... from the US State Department Bureau of Counter-terrorism, to the CIA’s Counter- terrorism Center & US intelligence services.
GERMANY's LEFT LEADER SAYS UKRAINE SHOULD STOP FASCISM
Instead of finding common ground with Russia, the West continues to escalate tensions: using inefficient sanctions and rhetoric, and by provocatively supporting the illegitimate Kiev government, German Left opposition leader, Gregor Gysi, says.
Gysi is parliamentary head of the largest lower- house opposition party in Germany – The Left.
"NATO and the EU did not realize back in 1990," he says, "that they should create a new security organization, with no Warsaw pact and no NATO. Not without Russia, nor against Russia, but with Russia – a common security alliance."
"And, against promises that were given during the time of German reunification, the further expansion of NATO towards the east took place so that Russia slowly became encircled."
"Then there were missiles stationed in Poland and the Czech Republic. The Russian side said that it reduced its security, but the Western side was not interested in hearing that."
"Then they said those missiles were not targeting Russia. That's when the Russian foreign minister said to his US counterpart: 'If we install rockets in Mexico, would you trust us if we say it's against Colombia or Cuba, and has nothing to do with the USA?' Of course they would not believe in that, but in spite of all that, it (NATO missiles placed near Russia) has happened."
"Then there were other mistakes. I don't want to go into too many details. George W. Bush has suggested bringing Georgia and Ukraine into NATO. Naturally this was a provocation - even former US ministers of defense agreed."
"And then it came to the issue of Ukraine, where it came to tensions between two sides – Russia and the EU – when they said: ‘Either you enter into the alliance with us or with the other.’ And nobody has realized that Ukraine should have been a bridge between the EU and Russia, and that is bothering me."
"Now there are talks of sanctions against Russia and also against the former Ukrainian president and his staff. And I see it as one sided."
"I would go for a diplomatic way to engage Russia and propose to them a new relationship with the EU and NATO - to find a security concept with Russia, not against it or without it."
"I think that would have been my vision of a positive development that we all urgently need. But as you can see, the situation is the other way around."
"There are real fascists in the Ukrainian government. They are currently in leading positions. They have the vice-prime minister's position, the defense ministry, the agriculture ministry and the environment ministry."
"Besides that, there is the co-founder of Svoboda party, who's not a member of this party right now, but he is in charge of the security committee - some sort of intelligence service."
"Of course there are democratic forces in the government, but fascists never give up the power they have got hold of."
"There are terrible quotes, awful quotes from them, and I am not alone standing here."
"There are Social Democrat members, and a former EU commissioner who say they won't speak a word with those people."
"I don't understand how they can sign any agreements with them. It's again, another provocation - they want to send money over.
"Right now you have to demand a democratic election, when you've a democratic government --- then you can negotiate with them."
"I don't understand why agreements have to happen now? I see it as another step towards escalation instead of in the opposite direction."
"And I have to say that the government that is installed right now is not a legitimate one. The former president was removed from power, but not properly voted out, at least not according to the constitution."
"And then when I hear the Crimean referendum is illegitimate according the constitution, then I ask my government:- ‘Well, is the constitution valid or not?’ But I am not getting any answers."
UKRAINE STRANGLES ITSELF
Electricity supply to Crimea has been cut by half and the region is experiencing rotating blackouts, after two "accidents" on power lines coming from Ukraine, Crimea’s energy company says.
Crimean Vice-PM Rustam Temirgaliev says that Ukraine's national energy company Ukrenergo has cut the electricity supply to Crimea by 50%.
“Ukrenegro reduced the power in its power lines, cutting the amount of supplied energy by half,” the top official told Kryminfo news agency.
Temirgaliev describes the power shortages as “blackmail” by Kiev.
“It can be explained by these people’s foolishness,” he says. “We don’t have any debts. There's no reason for the blackout. They are just ‘training.’”
The vice-PM says Crimea is prepared for any such developments. “We understand what we signed up for. We will economize on consumption, but we won't have any disaster, crisis or collapse.”
Crimean energy company DTEK Krymenergo says in a statement that accidents on two power lines connecting the peninsula with Ukraine, forced it to put them offline Sunday.
There are a total of three power lines that come from Ukraine and all are operated by Ukrenergo.
Russia's PM Medvedev, says a Kerch crossing will quickly integrate Crimea into the Russian electricity system.
URAINE ADMITS ALL TROOPS MUST WITHDRAW FROM CRIMEA
As the Crimea's 189th military centre is taken by Russian forces on Sunday the temporary PM of Ukraine orders all Ukrainian forces to withdraw.
Half of KAMAZ trucks seized by Right Sector militants "lost"
On March 17th, militants of the Right Sector took a shipment of lorries that KAMAZ trading company prepared for shipping to Kazakhstan.
Twenty-two of the 43 KAMAZ trucks seized by Right Sector militants were "lost" in Chernihiv.
The factory tried to ship the lorries to Kazakhstan but the vehicles were guarded by supporters of Ukraine's ultra-radical nationalist organization, Right Sector, says Oleg Afanasyev, spokesperson for KAMAZ OJSC, on Monday morning.
The Ukrainian National Guard, now largely made up of Right Sector members, says it is upgrading its lorry fleet with "confiscated" Russian vehicles.
“After we filed a complaint against people impeding the lorries, the Ukrainian law enforcement agencies filed a criminal case under ‘Arbitrary behavior’,” the factory spokesperson says.
He adds that this weekend (March 22-23), the shipment of seized lorries was divided into two parts: 21 vehicles were left on a parking lot being guarded by the police, and the rest, transferred to members of the Right Sector, to keep.
The rest were "lost". Representatives of the carmaker say the vehicles could have been taken out of the city.
Massive anti-Maidan rallies grip eastern Ukraine as residents demand referendum
Rallies have swept eastern Ukraine, with residents protesting against Kiev’s coup- imposed government and demanding a referendum to decide on the future of the entire region.
Thousands took to the streets in Kharkov, Donetsk, Lugansk, and Odessa on Sunday.
About 5,000 protesters gathered in Kharkov city on Sunday, to rally in favour of federalizing the country and holding "people’s referenda" in eastern Ukraine.
The demonstrators also demanded that Russian becomes the official language of Kharkov region.
Russian is the most common first language in the eastern regions.
Kharkov residents proclaimed as illegitimate, the political part of the EU-Ukraine association agreement signed by temporary PM Yatsenyuk.
Some protesters headed to the Russian embassy, to ask Moscow to investigate the legality of NATO troops in Ukraine, and addressed Crimeans, asking Crimea to help their region.
The rally in Kharkov was also dedicated to two protesters who were killed last week by members of the ultra-nationalist Right Sector movement, which played an active role in the Maidan protests.
The demonstrators chanted “Glory to Kharkov defendants!” and “We won’t live under Bandera!”
Stepan Bandera was head of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN). Bandera's nationalist movement collaborated with Nazi Germany during World War II and was involved in the mass ethnic cleansing of Poles, Jews, and Russians.
OUN was also responsible for the massacres of Poles in Volhynia and Eastern Galicia, which resulted in about 100,000 murders.
In the eastern Ukrainian city of Lugansk, the preliminary results of an improvised referendum were relayed to a several thousands-strong rally.
According to the results, over 100,000 people voted in favour of joining Russia in a people’s referendum carried out in the form of a poll in Lugansk. The poll was initiated last Sunday, and will continue for another week.
Another 1,000 people gathered near the building of the regional security service, to protest against the current authorities in Kiev.
Donetsk city, also in the Donbass region, also witnessed protests on Sunday, as over 2,000 people took to the streets.
They demanded that a referendum be held to decide the future of the region, and gave out ballot papers.
The protesters hoisted a Russian flag near the city council building, chanting “Russia” and “Berkut” while the building was surrounded by police.
Thousands also gathered for a rally in the Black Sea coastal city of Odessa on Sunday, protesting against the West's coup-imposed government in Kiev.
They carried Ukranian, Russia, and Crimean flags and chanted slogans such as “Ukraine & Russia are together” and “Odessa is against Nazis and tycoons,” as well as “Referendum!”
The peaceful demonstrators urged the authorities to release Anton Davidchenko, the arrested leader of 'People's Alternative', a council coordinating the work of regional public organizations.
They demanded an end to the persecution of activists accused of "separatism".
Davidchenko’s mother, Lubov,at the rally,urged all mothers in Ukraine to “prevent their sons from going to the criminal war, which the West-backed far-right authorities and tycoons in Kiev are trying to unleash between the fraternal Slavic peoples in the interests of their Western sponsors,”Itar- Tass reports.
“The authorities in Kiev are speaking about war with Russia, but in fact they are at war with their own people."
"The majority of Ukrainians don't support [Kiev’s] policy, but Kiev prefers not to pay attention to the people’s opinion, retaliating with repression,” stated city council deputy, Sergey Bovbolan.
Speakers at the rally called for an end to the disinformation campaign being waged by local media, and for the coup authorities to stop putting pressure on TV channels.
A crowd of thousands of Odessa residents walked through the central streets, to the Polish embassy, to remind them of past genocidal crimes by Bandera's followers.
Poland, Ukraine's western neighbour, has been very vocal during the crisis, in its support for the current far-right Kiev authorities.
Poland also hosts the US military and the Pentagon dispatched 12 fighterplanes and hundreds of troops to Poland, after the Crimean referendum.
People in the eastern regions of Ukraine fear that the far-right Kiev authorities will not represent their interests.
Residents of the Donbass region – the majority of whom are Russian speakers – are extremely unhappy over the Kiev parliament's decision to revoke laws on the use of minority languages, including Russian.
TURKEY PLANE SHOOT
Turkey's armed forces on Sunday shot down a Syrian warplane near the Turkish-Syrian border.
Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Sunday that his country's armed forces shot down a Syrian jet, "after it crossed the border" into Turkey.
He congratulated the army for targeting the plane and warned of a heavy response, "if Syria violates Turkey’s airspace again".
"A Syrian plane violated our airspace. Our F-16s took off and hit this plane. Why? Because if you violate my airspace, our slap after this will be hard," he told a rally of his supporters in northwest Turkey.
Syrian officials reject Turkey’s claim about the violation of its airspace and say the plane was in Syrian airspace when it was downed.
The jet fell on Syrian territory and the pilot ejected in time, and without injury.
A Syrian army spokesperson describes the act as “a flagrant aggression”.
"In a flagrant act of aggression, that is evidence of Erdogan's support for terrorist groups, Turkish anti-aircraft defenses shot down a Syrian military aircraft that was chasing terrorist groups inside Syrian territory at Kassab," the spokesperson says.
Syrian officials say the warplane was targeting foreign-backed militants in the coastal province of Latakia, close to the border with Turkey.
Since Friday, heavy clashes have broken out between soldiers of the Syrian army and foreign-backed groups near Kassab, a border crossing with Turkey, close to the Mediterranean sea.
Turkey has been a most vocal supporter of the terrorists fighting against Syria's President, Bashar al-Assad.
Syria has been gripped by deadly violence since 2011.
Over 130,000 people have been killed and millions displaced, due to the violence fueled by Western- backed armed groups drawn from many countries.
Ukrainians Urge Unity after Russia Enters Crimea Base
Kiev braces for a unity rally today (Sunday) after elite Russian forces stormed one of Ukraine's last Crimean bases, in an advance that defies both sanctions, and global isolation.
Saturday's takeover, involving machinegun fire into the air and stun grenades, provided the most spectacular show of force since the Kremlin sent troops into the heavily Russified peninsula three weeks ago before sealing its absorbtion on Friday.
It came as the chill in East-West relations grew intense as Germany -- a nation whose friendship Russian President Vladimir Putin has nurtured -- charged the Kremlin with trying to "splinter" Europe along Cold War-era lines.
Europe's most explosive security crisis in decades will now dominate a nuclear security summit that starts in The Hague on Monday, and will include what may prove the most difficult meeting to date between US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
The diplomats' encounter will come with Russia facing the loss of its coveted seat among the G8 group of leading nations, and Putin's inner circle facing off those sanctions the US has imposed, for a "use of force", in response to last month's fall of a pro-Kremlin regime in Kiev, reports al Manar news.
PROTECTION NO - MASSACRES YES
A former UK commander recalls his mission in Afghanistan, by saying that US-led UK troops ‘pointlessly’ massacred 100s of Afghan villagers.
In a new book, Major Richard Streatfeild, who served in the town of Sangin in Afghanistan’s southern province of Helmand, in 2009-2010, censures UK soldiers for using “turkey shoot tactics,” which resulted in the “repetitive slaughter” of Afghan villagers, the Daily Mail reports yesterday.
According to the ex-commander, UK forces operating in Helmand from 2006 to 2009, were authorized to open fire on anyone nearing their bases carrying a weapon.
“These men, who lived in the villages surrounding our bases, did not want to fight us,” Streatfeild, says: “Sadly, there were many occasions when these men approached our bases and, as they were carrying a weapon, they were shot dead.”
The former commander says the Afghan people targeted, were the very people UK troops were supposed to be protecting.
The US and its allies invaded Afghanistan in 2001 as part of Washington’s so-called war on terror.
The offensive removed the Taliban from power, but the country is still gripped by insecurity.
Anger has been rising among the Afghan people and officials over civilian deaths by US-led troops.
Political figures in Afghanistan also heap scorn on US-led forces for committing unforgivable crimes against Afghan women and children since 2001.
On March 15th, Afghan President Hamid Karzai said that over 12 years of US-led war had been imposed on the Afghan nation.
NO TROOP BUILD UP SAYS RUSSIA
Russia is observing all international agreements on troop limits in regions bordering Ukraine, the Russian Deputy Defense Minister says, adding that foreign missions’ inspections confirm this.
The statement is made in response to reports by several foreign media outlets saying there are concentrations of "thousands" of Russian servicemen on the Russian-Ukrainian border.
“This issue has been regularly raised over the last month in 'phone conversations between Russia’s Minister of Defense Sergey Shoigu, and his foreign counterparts, including US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and even acting Ukrainian Defense Minister, Igor Tenyukh,” Anatoly Antonov, the Russian Deputy Defense Minister says.
Sergey Shoigu has, in a very transparent manner, informed all of them about the real situation on the Russian-Ukrainian border. He also stressed that Russia has no intention to concentrate troops there, Antonov says.
Following recent probes by foreign missions in Russia, of Ukraine’s bordering regions, foreign inspectors concluded that the "Russian Armed Forces are not undertaking any undeclared military activity that would threaten the security of neighboring countries," Antonov says.
He points out that 8 foreign inspection groups have recently visited Russia.
“Our venues and regions, where troops are stationed near Ukrainian borders, have twice been checked by the Ukrainian military,” the Deputy Minister says.
“Besides, we have had on our territory, inspectors from the US, Canada, Germany, France, Switzerland, Poland, Latvia, Estonia and Finland.”
Seven of those eight missions were interested in Russian regions bordering Ukraine, he says.
Foreign inspectors were allowed to talk to chiefs of the Russian military units, take pictures of deployment sites and military vehicles, and control them during relocation.
“We did our best to meet our partners’ requests by allowing them to inspect all of the sites they wanted. We have nothing to hide,” Antonov says.
89% of Veneto residents vote for independence from Rome.
89% of residents in Italy's Veneto region have voted in an unofficial referendum, in favour of independence from the rest of the country, as Venetians seek to restore the glory of the old days, by creating a state of their own.
Crimean premier urges Ukrainians to oppose association with EU
Crimea's Prime Minister Sergei Aksyonov urges the people of Ukraine to fight against Kiev’s drive for association with the European Union, which he says, would be fatal for the country.
In his televised address to the people of Ukraine on Saturday, March 22nd, Aksyonov notes that:
“a movement in support of our traditional and the only legitimate political & economic union - with the Russian state - is now gaining momentum” in many Ukrainian regions. “I ask you to support it for the sake of our common good! Rise to fight for a decent future, for our common future!” CrimeaInform quotes him as saying.
The prime minister stresses that this fight will not be directed against Ukraine as a state, because “only you can save it”.
Aksyonov believes that “the impostors in Kiev are step by step taking” the country to the brink of an abyss and if the economic part of the association agreement with the European Union is signed, “if, of course, you allow it to be signed, you will face unjustifiably high taxes and prices, inflation and growing unemployment, and a higher retirement age - beyond the average life expectancy.”
"All industry and agriculture, not only in the south-east, but also in other parts of Ukraine, will be destroyed within months after the association agreement with the EU enters into force."
“Millions of people will be left without any means of existence and will only have to choose between dying, or becoming forced labour migrants,” he warns.
“And all this just to allow home-bred Ukrainian oligarchs to continue to reap the benefits, comfortably and unhindered, by plundering their own people, and for a bunch of Nazi politicians to get a ticket for reigning and realising their cannibal ideas of ‘the purity of the Ukrainian nation’ and assimilation of ‘non-indigenous people’.”
The prime minister notes that he cannot stand aside, even though no such threat exists for the people of Crimea any more.
“I appeal to you and urge you to fight! I have no right to urge you to separate from Ukraine. But I will urge you to fight for your right to a decent life,” Aksyonov says, adding that this is his “human and civil duty”.
He urges Ukrainians to “resist the choice” made for them by “a bunch of adventurists financed by comprador oligarchs”.
“I urge you to rise to defend your own freedom, rights and interests, which I am confident can be ensured only in a close alliance - political, economic and cultural - with the Russian Federation,” he says.
Aksyonov stresses that he does not speak on behalf of Russia, or its leadership, but expresses his own view, and the opinion of the multi-ethnic people of Crimea.
Egypt Mass Trial of Mursi Backers 'deferred'
An Egyptian court adjourned the mass trial of over 1,200 supporters of the ousted president, Mohamed Morsi, shortly after it opened in the town of Minya, local media say.
The mass trial is part of a crackdown by Egypt's military-installed authorities which targets Mursi's supporters, who remain steadfast in demanding his reinstatement.
Morsi, Egypt's first elected and civilian president, was removed by the army on July 3rd. His ouster triggered widespread unrest across a deeply polarized country.
500 defendants were to be tried on Saturday, and another 700 will face charges Tuesday, sources said.
Judicial sources say that many of the defendants are on bail or "on the run".
'Colonialism, apartheid and ethnic cleansing': UN rapporteur on Palestine blasts Israel
The UN Special Rapporteur on Palestine accuses the Israeli authorities of conducting colonialist policies that are forms of apartheid, and of ethnic cleansing in occupied territories in the West Bank & E. Jerusalem.
Speaking at a news conference at the UN European headquarters in Geneva on Friday, the UN Special Rapporteur on Palestine, Richard Falk, accuses Israel of forcing Palestinians out of East Jerusalem and creating unbearable conditions for the minority --- to force them to immigrate.
Falk, an ethnic Jewish expert in international law and professor emeritus at Princeton University, tells journalists that Israeli policies have the “unacceptable characteristics of colonialism, apartheid and ethnic cleansing.”
In the present situation where talks between Israel and the Palestinian authority remain in deadlock, the acceleration of Israeli settlement construction in the occupied territories is causing Palestinians to lose faith that their own state can ever be won.
“Every increment of enlarging the settlements, or every incident of house demolition, is a way of worsening the situation confronting Palestinian people and reducing what prospects they might have as the outcome of supposed peace negotiations,” he says.
Speaking about Israel de facto annexing parts of Palestinian territory, Falk cites a report on the human rights situation in occupied Palestinian territories, prepared by his group and presented last January.
The report maintains that Israeli policies in the West Bank are effectively denying a Palestinian right to self-determination by using “apartheid and segregation.”
“To sustain indefinitely an oppressive occupation containing many punitive elements also seems designed to encourage residents to leave Palestine, which is consistent with the apparent b annexationist, colonialist, ethnic-cleansing goals of Israel, especially in relation to the West Bank, including East Jerusalem,” the report said.
For that purpose, the Israelis use bureaucratic processes, such as “revocation of residency permits, demolitions of residential structures built without Israeli permits (often virtually impossible to obtain), and forced evictions of Palestinian families,” which is a definite violation of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, said the report.
In Jerusalem alone, over 11,000 Palestinians have lost their right to live in the city since 1996, only because Israel has been imposing residency laws in favour of Jews, making it possible to revoke Palestinian residence permits, Falk reports.
“The 11,000 is just the tip of the iceberg because many more are faced with possible challenges to their residency rights,” he says.
Along with the eviction of the Arab population from Jerusalem, Israel is actively constructing settlements to "change the ethnic composition" of East Jerusalem, Falk said.
Israel captured both the West Bank and Gaza Strip as a result of the so-called Six-Day War in the Middle East in 1967. Captured East Jerusalem was later annexed as part of Israel’s indivisible capital, though this move has never been recognized internationally.
At the same time Palestinians are trying to establish a state of their own in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, the only land left to them as of now. The capital of the state they aim for, is occupied East Jerusalem.
Palestinians refuse to recognize the state of Israel in its present borders, whereas Israel says that this refusal is the main obstacle to the creation of a Palestinian state.
Israel has consistently denied any allegations of persecuting Palestinians, shifting the blame onto their Palestinian opponents, whom they accuse of anti-Israeli violence that permanently disturbs the peace in the Jewish state.
This week US President Barack Obama addressed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, pointing out the necessity to break the stalemate with Israel before the deadline for a framework deal, initiated by the US Secretary of State John Kerry, expires on April 29th.
According to Professor Richard Falk, any peace negotiations between Israel and Palestinians are usually undermined by a sharp rise in Israeli settlement activities.
At the same time, the general attitude of the Israeli political establishment towards any direct peace negotiations has seriously changed, Falk notes, as many Israelis now say that even entering into such negotiations is a betrayal of their national interests.
"A few years ago it would be hard to imagine that there was something to the right of Netanyahu,” Falk says, pointing out that as of today, a gradual shift to the right has taken place.
"And there is a strong internal Israeli opposition to any sense that the Palestinian people, in any diminished way, deserve a state of their own,” he concludes.
Facing the end of his six-year term as the UN Special Rapporteur on Palestinian human rights, Richard Falk is to address the UN Human Rights Council directly this Monday, before it names his successor.
UNASUR Shields Latin America From Coup d'Etat Attempts
This week the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) shields its members from coup d''etat attempts and attacks on constitutional order - like the one currently affecting Venezuela - by adding a democratic constitution clause.
The 'Additional Protocol of UNASUR Constituent Treaty on the Commitment to Democracy', entered into force on Wednesday, a month after being signed by Uruguay and on the same date when Colombia officially joined the organization.
Of the 12 country members of UNASUR, made up of Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Colombia, Chile, Ecuador, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Uruguay, Venezuela and Ecuador, only Brazil and Paraguay have still not signed the clause, to be implemented in cases of breaking or attempts to break democracy, or violating constitutional order in members of the regional bloc created in 2008.
Along with a restoration of democracy in the country concerned, UNASUR could now enforce political and diplomatic sanctions such as border closures and the reduction or suspension of trade and air traffic.
The democratic clause comes at a fitting time due to the situation that has been affecting Venezuela for a month, where the legitimate government is threatened by violent opposition groups.
Venezuela is also determined to press ahead with its broad-based reforms, by improving the social and economic lives of the majority of its citizens.
Dozens of Zionist soldiers and Jewish settlers storm the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Al-Quds (occupied East Jerusalem) through the Bab al-Maghrabeh Gate, late on Thursday.
In recent months, groups of extremist Jewish settlers, often accompanied by Zionist security forces, have stepped up their intrusions into the Al-Aqsa Mosque complex, the world's third holiest site for Muslims.
The frequent violations anger Palestinian Muslims and occasionally lead to violent confrontations.
Jews refer to the area as the "Temple Mount," claiming it was the site of 2 prominent Jewish temples in ancient times.
In September 2000, a visit to the site by Ariel Sharon triggered a "Second Intifada" – a popular uprising in which thousands of Palestinians were killed and injured.
Israel to build 1,220 housing units in West Bank
Israel now approves 1, 220 new housing units in its largest settlement in the West Bank.
The Civil Administration approves 839 housing units in Ariel, the largest settlement there.
Some 31 housing units will be built in Almog, in the northern Dead Sea. 350 more housing units are to be built in Rahel, north of Ramallah.
The plan was initiated by the hawkish Housing and Construction Minister, Uri Ariel, a proponent of the settlement movement and by the former Sec. General of Yesha, the umbrella organization of the settlements' municipal councils .
70+ Ukrainian military facilities on Crimea peninsula fly Russian flags today, including some Ukrainian Black Sea navy ships.
Ukrainian military personnel serving in Crimea now have the opportunity to choose whether to stay or leave, Crimean PM Aksenov states.
They are guaranteed salary payments and allowances due under Ukrainian legislation, the chair of Crimea's council of ministers says.
"I'm absolutely sure that all military units will move to the March 17th side of the legitimate government or become the reserves," he says.
US boycotts UN human rights conference with drone resolution looming
Pakistani leaders hope to convince the UN Human Rights Council to pass a resolution that will force US drone strikes to adhere to international law – a request that inspired the US to boycott the talks altogether, according to a new report.
The draft of a Pakistani resolution, reported by Colum Lynch of 'Foreign Policy', proposes that nations “ensure transparency” when discussing drone strikes and “conduct prompt, independent and impartial investigations whenever there are indications of any violations to human rights caused by their use.”
While official numbers don't exist, experts suggest that anywhere from 200 to 1,000 Pakistani civilians have been killed by US drone strikes, with as many as 200 children hit and killed.
The UN proposal urges “interactive panel discussions” on the use of drones, and is a clear appeal to the world community.
The Human Rights Council entered a third day of discussing the resolution on Wednesday, yet the US delegation was nowhere to be found.
The Obama administration joined the council in 2009, ending a boycott initiated by the Bush administration, which was nervous about smaller nations trying to influence the body – particularly on Israel's actions.
But the US has since avoided a number of instances where the US authorities may have been forced to turn over information about its drone program.
Ben Emmerson, the UN’s current special rapporteur for the promotion of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism, told 'Foreign Policy' - US intelligence leaders must at least give world leaders an understanding of US drone use.
“The single greatest obstacle to an evaluation of the civilian impact of drone strikes is lack of transparency, which makes it extremely difficult to assess claims of precision targeting objectively,” he said.
Pressure from the world seems to have worked, at least temporarily, as the number of US drone strikes in Pakistan has fallen in the past month.
Pakistan's government asked the US to curtail drone activity while it tries to continue peace negotiations with the Pakistani Taliban, says The Washington Post.
“That’s what they asked for, and we didn’t tell them no,” one US official says.
“The president has made clear that even as we aggressively pursue terrorist networks through more targeted efforts & by building the capacity of our foreign partners – America must move off a war footing,” White House spokesperson Caitlin Hayden said last month.
“We will not be safer, if people abroad believe we strike within their countries without regard for the consequences.”
The current restrictions are doing little to stop debate both at home and abroad. Last month, after the Obama administration said it would reduce attack numbers, this was criticised by Representative Mike Rogers, a Michigan Republican who warns against such a decision.
“Individuals who would have been previously removed from the battlefield by US counter- terrorism operations for attacking for plotting to attack against US interests remain free because of self-imposed red tape,” he said at a congressional hearing.
Resolutions like the one proposed by Pakistan generally pass by consensus, although the US has asked that this proposal goes to a vote when it is formally introduced next week.
This, like the rest of the Obama administration’s approach on this matter, is misguided, says Andrew Prasow, a US lawyer affiliated with Human Rights Watch.
“This resolution will be the first time the council is going to do anything about drones and the US is not even participating in any of the informal discussion about language,” he states.
“They tell us they are reserving judgment on the resolution, which means they aren't happy with it. We have also heard from them, and others as well, that they are concerned as the council doesn’t have jurisdiction on this issue. I think it’s ludicrous to say that the Human Rights Council doesn’t have anything to say about drone strikes.”
Israel gears up for possible unilateral strike on Iran
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon have ordered Israel's military to continue the preparations for a possible strike on Iran's nuclear facilities during 2014, says Israeli daily Ha'aretz.
According to the report, the Israel Defense Forces allocated up to NIS 12 billion (3.5 billion U.S. dollars), nearly a fifth of its budget this year, on preparations for a possible unilateral strike on Iran, approximately the same amount invested last year.
The figure was presented by top officers who briefed the joint committee in January and February on the military's plans, say Israeli lawmakers.
They say some of their colleagues asked the officers if it was justifiable to keep pouring billions into preparations to strike Iran, citing the interim nuclear agreement inked between Tehran and the 6 powers last November, and the ongoing negotiations aimed at reaching a final accord...
The officers replied that the military had received a "clear directive" from the political echelon, ie Netanyahu and Ya' alon, to continue training for a possible independent strike, regardless of the diplomatic efforts to resolve the Iranian issue peacefully, says the Ha'aretz report.
Netanyahu, who has stated repeatedly that Israel must be able to defend itself, has clarified that the Jewish state isn't bound by an interim accord, and is issuing the threats, as Iran and the P5+1 engage in fressh talks for a permanent agreement.
"I believe letting Iran enrich uranium, would open up the floodgates. We will make sure it does not happen," the prime minister told the 2014 US AIPAC conference earlier this month.
Ya'alon, in a speech early this week at Tel Aviv University, hinted he too is inclined to support an Israeli strike, given his assessment that the Obama administration, despite its often-stated promise that no option is off the table, will not attack Iran.
UK RUNS FROM ITS CRIMES BUT CAN'T HIDE
Relatives of Malaysians killed by UK troops over six decades ago, vow to continue their legal campaign for a fresh inquiry into the massacre in colonial-era Malaya.
Lawyers representing the families of 24 unarmed Malaysian rubber plantation workers killed by UK troops in 1948, say they will take their case for a new investigation to the highest UK Court, and ultimately to the European Court of Human Rights.
England’s Court of Appeal this week, threw out attempts to overturn an earlier High Court ruling that upheld the UK government’s decision not to hold a formal probe into the Batang Kali killings.
Quek Ngee Meng, a spokesperson for family members of the victims, says that, despite the dismissal of the appeal, the “journey to seek redress and justice has not come to an end.”
“The destination is not too far off either. Either UK human rights law needs to catch up with Europe with the help of the UK Supreme Court, or the families will need to go to Europe for satisfaction,” he concludes.
The massacre, involving members of G Company, 2nd Scots Guards, occurred as UK troops were trying to put down the post-Second World War Communist insurgency, known as the Malayan "Emergency".
UK soldiers surrounded the rubber estate at Sungai Rimoh, Batang Kali, above Kuala Lumpur, then killed 24 villagers and set the village on fire.
EU doesn't want to know truth about Ukraine --- Russia's Foreign Ministry
President of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy, who has asked to visit Russia, “has not been allowed to go to Moscow,” and is now “on a new sanction list”, says Russia's Foreign Ministry.
“On March 17th, the President of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy, asked urgently to visit Russia”, to “hear first hand information about the position of the Russian side on the crisis in Ukraine and around it, as well as a better perspective on ways out of the still deteriorating situation,” the ministry says.
“Moscow promptly responded to his request and offered to receive him on March 19th.
“However, the European Council president has not been allowed to travel to Moscow,” Russia's Foreign Ministry stresses.
“His friends didn't allow him [to go], assuming that he does not need to know the truth, as everything has already been decided."
WEST 'RUDE AND IRRESPONSIBLE'
Russian President Vladimir Putin says the Western nations continue with their policy to stop Russia, and cross the line over Ukraine and Crimea, with irresponsible, rude and unprofessional behaviour.
In an address to a joint session of Russia's Federal Assembly (Parliament) in the Kremlin, Putin urges Western governments to put an end to the hysteria and admit that Russia has national interests, which must be respected, making a clear reference to Moscow's position of support over the unification of Crimea and Sebastopol.
Putin accuses the US & its allies of claiming for themselves, the right to decide this world's fate, by disregarding UN decisions, and through the formation of coalitions in the style of: "those who are not with us, are against us."
Russia's president accuses the West of trying to put his country up against a wall, for having and defending an independent policy, and for calling things by their name, without hypocrisy.
Putin stresses that everything has a limit, and that Russia sees no reciprocal steps, but the opposite: Western countries have lied several times and have taken decisions behind Russia's back, president Putin says, about NATO's expansion to the east & the anti missile shield sponsored by Washington.
On Crimea, Putin says that everybody knew in advance, that Russia would not remain with its arms crossed, with millions of Russians living in that peninsula.
Putin addresses the US people, urging them to recognize Crimea's right to independence, when recalling chapters in their own history.
Ukrainian Navy’s commander detained in Sevastopol - latest
Ukrainian Navy Commander Sergey Gaiduk and seven activists, supporters of the new Ukrainian leaders, were released in Crimea "this morning in Chongar village, near a checkpoint", stated Supreme Council member Andrei Senchenko.
Deputy Anatoly Gritsenko also confirms this, saying his son has been freed: "My son called a moment ago. Everything is okay at Chongar. The hostages are freed," he says on Facebook.
The prosecutor’s office explains that, according to their sources, Gaiduk had passed on to Ukrainian military units, Kiev’s orders to use weapons against civilians.
Ukraine's Navy commander, Sergei Gaiduk, was temporarily detained by the prosecutor’s office in Sevastopol.
“There are questions to be put to him,” the Sevastopol prosecutor’s office said then.
The prosecutor’s office said that, according to their sources, Gaiduk had passed on to Ukrainian military units, Kiev’s orders to use weapons against civilians.
Earlier, Sergei Gaiduk followed by 50 officers, abandoned fleet headquarters in Sevastopol, taking away all belongings and documents.
The Ukrainian officers walked off unimpeded and relatives welcomed them at the gate. Sevastopol activists and members of the self- defense forces watched them go peacefully.
Vice-Admiral Gaiduk drove off in a car with Ukrainian license plates and tinted windows.
On Wednesday morning, representatives of the self-defense forces entered the military unit and hoisted a Russian and a St. Andrew's flag.
After, the Russian national anthem was played.
No force was used against Ukraine's personnel.
After that, Russian Black Sea Fleet Commander Vice-Admiral Alex Vitko arrived at the Ukrainian Navy headquarters to meet with Ukrainian Navy Commander Vice-Admiral Sergei Gaiduk.
The Russian Black Sea fleet commander and a Black Sea fleet officer stayed in the building of the Ukrainian Navy headquarters for around 15 minutes and left, making no comment.
The Russian Black Sea fleet commander and the Russian officer talked to the former Chief of the Ukrainian General headquarters Admiral Yuri Ilyin and ex-commander of the Ukrainian Navy, Viktor Maksimov.
The subject of discussion was not disclosed.
Later, Ilyin told journalists that he arrived "to keep the process in a peaceful framework." Neither Ilyin, nor Maksimov were admitted to the talks held with Vice-Admiral Gaiduk.
Earlier, Sevastopol Mayor Aleksei Chalyi declared that all Ukrainian service-people in Sevastopol abandon their military units and go to a temporary registration office, pending further instructions.
COUP PM TRIES TO PROVOKE WORLD WAR 3
Ukraine's Western-backed interim prime minister said Thursday night that the country's conflict with Russia has entered a “military stage”.
Arseniy Yatsenyuk was speaking at an urgent government meeting in Kiev, after reports that a Ukrainian soldier has been shot dead in the Crimean peninsula.
"The conflict is shifting from a political to a military stage," Yatsenyuk said, telling Ukrainian troops to use weapons to protect their lives.
"Russian soldiers have started shooting at Ukrainian military servicemen & that is a war crime," he added.
BUT IT'S ALL A FALSE FLAG:
Two people – a self-defense member and a Ukrainian soldier – were killed and 2 others wounded, after snipers opened fire from a partially inhabited building near a military research center in Simferopol. One sniper was detained, and another is on the run, reports RT television news.
RT's producer Lida Vasilevskaya said that the perimeter of the Ukrainian military topography and navigation centre was already surrounded by men in camouflage when she arrived, and added that the situation is now "calm."
The local Interior Ministry press release says shots came from a house under construction opposite the centre, and targeted Crimean self-defense units, as well the military centre.
“Earlier today self-defense units were informed that a group of armed men had been discovered in a partially inhabited building,” the press release said on Thursday evening.
“As the self-defense were taking measures to check, they came under fire, presumably from a sniper rifle,” police say, adding that the shooting came “in 2 directions, from 1 spot.”
One self-defense unit member was killed and another wounded, police say. One Ukrainian soldier from the military research centre was also killed, and another was wounded.
Crimea police and Prosecutor's Office staff are investigating the attack.
The tiny Ukrainian military topography research centre, is mainly staffed by women. The centre has reportedly decided to join with Crimea and Russia and was preparing paperwork to go over.
Crimean PM Sergey Aksyonov tells Russia’s Channel One that this attack is reminiscent of the Maidan sniper shootings.
“At the moment two people are dead as a result of a provocation, a sabotage. The situation allows me to conclude that the same techniques used at Maidan are being used now, because most likely one attacker fired at both sides:- one Ukrainian serviceman and one man from self-defense forces of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea were killed.”
“The location of the sniper was identified,” he adds.
Earlier, Ukrainian servicemen told RT that on late Wednesday evening, unknown groups tried to break into several military bases, but self-defense units managed to prevent them.
“Guys from self-defense told me Tuesday they feared provocations," Lida Vasilevskaya tweets.
The Crimean Interior Ministry "did not rule out" a provocation aimed at complicating the situation in the city, after Crimea and Sevastopol were accepted into the Russian Federation.
Senior UK army officers blocked an investigation into the killing and mistreatment of Iraqi prisoners during the Iraq occupation, a public inquiry has found.
The Al-Sweady Inquiry into the incidents heard Monday that senior UK army officers have been making efforts to block the UK military police investigation into the killing of 20 unarmed Iraqi civilians and the abuse of 9 others held in the Battle of Danny Boy, north of the Iraqi city of Basra, in 2004.
Military police special investigations officer, Lucy Bowen, told the inquiry she had been stopped by the commanders of 1 Battalion, Princess of Wales Royal Regiment (1PWRR) from questioning soldiers after the battle.
The inquiry counsel, Jonathan Acton Davis QC, asked Bowen if “the door was slammed” in her face. She replied: “Yes. They would not allow us to investigate.”
“They blocked your investigation?” said Acton Davis. “Yes,” Bowen replied.
An official UK Ministry of Defense (MoD) document in which commanding officer of 1PWRR Lieutenant Colonel Matthew Maer says he and fellow officers themselves asked the military police to investigate the allegations, Bowen states, is “absolutely untrue.”
The MoD was forced to authorize the al-Sweady Inquiry, named after a 19-year-old victim, after a High Court ruling that the ministry seriously broke its obligations under the Human Rights Act to investigate the matter, while hiding evidence that could lead to the convictions of UK troops for killing and maltreatment.
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 had weapons of mass destruction. No such arms were ever discovered in Iraq.
US/EU SANCTIONS AN INSULTING JOKE
Russia’s Upper House speaker and former deputy prime minister slams the sanctions by the US on Russian government officials.
Valentina Matviyenko tells Interfax that the sanctions on her and ten other Russian, Crimean and Ukrainian individuals are an “unprecedented” decision that had not even been made during the Cold War.
“This is political blackmail: the US government knows I have no accounts, assets or property abroad,” Matviyenko states.
“I have always defended and will further defend Russia’s national interests, not the geopolitical interests of the West. No-one can intimidate us,” the Russian official adds.
Obama’s order freezes any assets of the officials that are inside the US or “hereafter come within the US,” & bans them from travelling to the US.
The sanctions came after nearly 97% of voters in Crimea voted on March 16th to secede from Ukraine in favor of joining Russia.
The sanctions sparked anger from other Russian officials. Yelena Mizulina, a member of the Duma, calls the sanctions “a rude violation” of her rights as a citizen and a politician.
Vladislav Surkov, a senior adviser to President Putin, says it is "a great honour" for him.
Deputy Prime Minister, Dmitry Rogozin, also responds to the move with irony...
Rogozin states on Twitter that he is finally getting worldwide recognition.
The EU has also imposed sanctions: on three senior Russian commanders, Crimea's PM, a deputy speaker of the Duma, and 16 other senior officials.
EAST UKRAINE MOVES TO BLOCK COUP
Residents of the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk have set up checkpoints to prevent the country's military from approaching the border with Russia.
The checkpoints were established by the National Militia of Donetsk -- a pro-Russian volunteer group of self-defense forces.
The group says at least 100 unarmed men have joined it, with 20 people manning each checkpoint.
On Sunday, thousands of people living in Donetsk held a demonstration, demanding a referendum on joining Russia.
Donetsk’s city council has refused to recognize Ukraine’s new government and is calling now, for a referendum on the whole region’s status.
ISRAEL's CHOICE: MORE SETTLEMENTS OR PEACE
The chief Palestinian negotiator signals that the Palestinian authorities are preparing to end 9 months of negotiations with Israel's current regime - if an agreement is not reached by the April 29th deadline.
Chief Palestinian Authority negotiator, Saeb Erekat states, “The negotiations are up on April 29th. You don’t need negotiations any more. You need decisions.”
The Palestinian Authority official expresses its "hope" that the Israeli regime “will make the choice: settlements or peace.”
“They can’t have both,” he added.
Erekat says the Tel Aviv regime has built over 10,000 homes in the occupied West Bank since the negotiations began. “Is this progress?” he asks.
The official says any agreement must include a Palestinian state on the boundaries set in 1967, before the Israeli regime captured the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and E. Jerusalem.
US Secretary of State Kerry gave Israelis and Palestinians the nine-month deadline to reach a so-called peace deal.
UK Troops Withdraw from Military Bases in Afghanistan
The Armed Forces of Afghanistan are handed over another 2 military bases by occupying UK troops in Helmand, media publish here.
A statement by the UK's Ministry of Defense confirms that Lashkar Gah and Lashkar Gah Durai military bases have been handed over to Afghan army control.
Of 137 UK military centres in Afghanistan, only 2 remain under UK command: Camp Bastion and Sterga 2.
Brigadier James Woodham, Commander of Task Force Helmand, said that this was a "historic moment in the military campaign of the United Kingdom in Afghanistan".
He added that Afghan forces are capable of protecting their own people, therefore UK troops are not needed anymore.
Troops from 50 countries - led by NATO, the US and UK - are committed to withdrawing from Afghan territory by the end of 2014.
The Pentagon is pressing for an agreement to be signed with Afghanistan, in order to keep some 10,000 soldiers beyond the final date of the occupying forces' withdrawal.
Sanchez Ceren: President elect of El Salvador
Salvador Sanchez Ceren, one of the historic leaders of the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN), is president elect of El Salvador, to take effect on June 1st.
Sanchez Ceren received 1, 495, 815 votes, (50.11% of all valid votes).
It's the highest number of votes any candidate has ever received in the history of El Salvador.
Sanchez Ceren, once member of the FMLN general command, is one of the signers of Peace Agreements that ended the internal armed conflict, on January 16th, 1992.
Sanchez Ceren was born into a humble family on June 18th, 1944, in Quezaltepeque town.
During his electoral campaign, Sanchez Ceren committed himself to continuing and increasing the democratic, economic and social changes begun by the FMLN.
His term of office ends in 5 years, on May 31, 2019.
SANCTION CRIMINAL WEST?
A political analyst calls on the global community to bring US rulers to justice and impose sanctions against the Machiavellian regime in Washington over its hegemonic policies.
In an article on Press TV, Paul Craig Roberts points to Washington’s incessant destruction of countries across the world, as it uses its military and economic warfare, with manipulative propaganda.
“When will the world sanction the criminal enterprise that pretends to be a government of the United States?
“When will the War Crimes Tribunal and International Criminal Court issue arrest warrants for Obama and his entire criminal regime, as well as the criminal regimes of Bush and Clinton? When will the assets of the US government and its criminal members be seized?” he asks.
The analyst says the US government is “the worst criminal enterprise in the history of the world,” which constantly manipulates democratic slogans to extend its pernicious influence across the world.
Roberts censures Washington and its allies for their refusal to accept Sunday's referendum in the Republic of Crimea, as 68% of Crimeans voted to join Russia.
“Democracy is not acceptable to Washington, or to the two-bit punk American puppets who rule for Washington in Germany, the UK, and France, when democracy does not serve Washington’s agenda of hegemony over the entire world,” Roberts says.
The United States and the EU have rejected the Crimea vote as “illegal” and placed sanctions and visa bans on many leaders, over its Ukraine stand.
Russia says such measures are counterproductive.
RUBLE ADOPTED AS OFFICIAL CURRENCY
Two official currencies, the Russian ruble and the Ukrainian hryvnia, will be accepted in Crimea until January 1, 2016, according to a resolution adopted on Monday, by the Crimean parliament. “The official currency unit of the Republic of Crimea is the Russian ruble, and until January 1st, 2016, the Ukrainian hryvnia, will be also the official currency,” the parliament’s official website says.
“The organization of money circulation and withdrawing them from circulation on the territory of the Republic of Crimea will be made exclusively by the Bank of Crimea.”
“The Bank of Crimea without any fees, performs transactions with budget funds of the Republic of Crimea, as well as transactions regarding the public debt management of the Republic of Crimea.”
The resolution also says that “profit making is not the objective of the activity of the Bank of Crimea”.
The main objectives of the Bank of Crimea are “protection and providing of stability of currency circulation, development and strengthening of the banking system, providing effective and faultless operation of the payment system”.
In Kharkiv, last Sunday, crowds gathered to press for all Ukraine to become a federation.
Demonstrators chanted “Referendum!”, “Russia!” and “We are with you, Crimea!”
The rally of several thousands backed a resolution containing a demand for calling a local referendum in favour of federalization.
The resolution urges “territorial communities of the Southeast, from Odessa to Kharkiv, to pool all efforts for the sake of simultaneous plebiscites and the federalization of Ukraine.”
“Our city has been Russian, and will remain Russian, albeit within Ukraine. We're prepared to live in one country, but on our terms,” one of the leaders of Civic Platform, Yuri Apukhtin, tells the crowd.
‘If we answer in the affirmative to the question about federalization, this will settle the inter- ethnic rifts that exist in Ukraine,” says the leader of the Kharkov branch of the Communist Party of Ukraine, Alla Aleksandrovskaya.
She says the referendum should also decide on the status of the Russian language as a second official one, and Ukraine’s refusal to join NATO.
Ukrainian CyberBerkut takes down NATO websites
The hacktivist group 'CyberBerkut' claims it took down three NATO websites using DDoS attacks.
The group damns NATO for stirring the crisis in Ukraine, and for helping the “Kiev junta” to suppress freedom of speech.
CyberBerkut claims it brought down NATO’s main website (nato.int), as well as the sites alliance’s cyber defense centre (ccdcoe.org) and NATO's Parliament website (nato-pa.int).
The group, in a message posted on its website, says its members will “not allow the presence of NATO occupation on our homeland territory!”
The hacktivists also claim they are countering the acts of the so-called “Tallinn cyber centre” or NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence, which has been hired by the “Kiev junta” to carry out “propaganda amongst the Ukrainian population through the media and social networks.”
The West's cyber network, hactivists claim, is hiding behind the façade of the so-called “Maidan Cyber Sotnya” and is helping to “block objective sources of information, concealing the criminal acts of those who call themselves a ‘legitimate authority.’"
NATO has confirmed attacks on its websites via twitter, and says its sites suffered from a “significant DDoS attack.” No critical systems have been hit and the integrity of its systems remains intact, NATO spokesperson, Oana Lungescu says.
CyberBerkut, named after the riot police unit that became an “arch-enemy” of Maidan, has pledged to fight against the stream of “neo-fascist propaganda” from “vicious and corrupt media.”
Cyber activists supporting the Maidan coup have been targeting Russian government websites and media for four straight days.
Crimean military thwart sabotage of gas plant supplying peninsula schools, medical centres.
Crimean military and self-defense forces have prevented an attempt to sabotage the gas distribution centre that supplies a number of socially critical facilities in Crimea, including schools and medical centres, Crimean authorities report.
At 11:00 GMT on Saturday, the gas supply to Crimea was halted at one of the distribution centres near Strelkovaya, cutting gas to a number of areas in the eastern peninsula.
As a result, a number of hospitals, medical centres, schools and apartment buildings, had their gas cut off.
A group of technicians, escorted by the Crimea’s newly created military, (former Ukraine troops who've sworn allegiance to the republic), set out to check.
“There they encountered a group of at least 20 armed men in camouflage,” the Cabinet of Ministers of Crimea says: “These people were planting explosives at the facility in order to knock it out of action completely.”
On seeing Crimean forces, they quickly fled towards the village of Strelkovaya.
According to Crimean PM Sergey Aksenov, the men sabotaging the facility introduced themselves as Ukraine Border Troops, but retreated without a further explanation of what they were doing at the gas plant.
Gas supplies have been restored, Crimean authorities say, adding: the “distribution station was put under the control of self-defense forces of Crimea, in order to halt similar provocations in the near future.”
Aksenov says such measures are needed to “ensure the energy security of the Republic of Crimea and smooth functioning of critical infrastructure,” reports the Crimean news agency.
Ukraine is yet again accusing Russia of "military aggression". Ukraine's media has reported nothing about the event at the gas plant.
A new National Guard is officially started made up of Maidan self-defense squads, of which, many of whom are neo-fascists from the Right Sector and Svoboda Party.
Large quantities of weapons have gone missing from Ukrainian depots, since the coup that deposed the government.
Chief Editor of National Defense Magazine, Igor Korotchenko, says the guards role is:
“Roughly speaking, these will be Maiden commissars, people with executive roles and the right to dismiss field commanders suspected of disloyalty to Ukraine's new authorities,” he says, adding that they will be deployed to all those areas which seek greater autonomy from Kiev, and might be used “against the population and the Self- Defense Forces of Crimea.”
The Right Sector, which is believed to be the nucleus of this new National Guard, is notorious for its violent rhetoric and extremist actions.
Yalta, a resort city in Crimea, on the Black Sea's north coast, witnessed such an act of sabotage by the Right Sector this week, as local authorities found and dismantled a bomb in a local cafe.
Aksenov also announces that he has good information that the Right Sector plans to attack one of the Ukrainian army units in the peninsula disguised as Russian troops as a provocation to disrupt the referendum.
The Russian foreign ministry warns that numbers of fighters, including many from Right Sector, are active across Ukraine, citing the attack in Kharkov on Friday, that killed two people.
“We are receiving disturbing information that a column of armed Right Sector mercenaries, whose leaders announced the opening of the ‘Eastern Front’, has left Kharkov for Donetsk and Lugansk, while at one of the garment factories, they are urgently sewing Russian uniforms,” Russia's Foreign Ministry says, in a statement.
The statement adds that Russia is now receiving large numbers of petitions from Ukraine, asking for protection.
Russia Says Intercepted US Drone over Crimea
A US surveillance drone has been intercepted over Crimea, Rostec, Russia's state arms and technology group, says.
"The drone was flying at about 4,000 meters (12,000 feet) and was virtually invisible from the ground.
It was possible to break the link with US operators with "complex radio-electronic" technology, says Rostec in a statement.
The drone fell "almost intact into the hands of self-defense forces" adds Rostec, which says it manufactured the equipment used to down the aircraft, but doesn't say who operated it.
"Judging by its identification number, UAV MQ-5B belonged to the 66th American Reconnaissance Brigade, based in Bavaria," Rostec says on its website, which also carries a picture of what it says is the captured drone.
The US says there has been no loss of a drone.
Fascist concerns as Ukraine’s govt hastily turns Maidan squads into a National Guard
The creation of Ukraine’s National Guard as custodians of a coup-imposed government, is raising concerns that it may be deployed to eastern regions of Ukraine - to suppress the populations increasingly opposing Kiev.
Its declared goal, according to the statement by the country’s parliament, is the protection of Ukrainians against external and internal aggression and to ensure territorial integrity.
A decree enabling the creation of a National Guard was signed in by the coup-imposed President of Ukraine, Aleksandr Turchinov, after it was fast tracked by Kiev Thursday.
A total of 262 members of the Rada voted to establish the Ukrainian National Guard.
The National Guard's chief will be appointed by the Rada, upon the recommendation of the acting post-coup president.
The Guard will be made up of 60,000 men and women. Its official task is "to protect & safeguard the lives, rights, freedoms & legitimate interests of citizens, society & the state from criminal & other illegal acts."
The guard will also "ensure public order in cooperation with law enforcement authorities, protect state borders, combat terrorism, and suppress the activities of illegal paramilitary or armed organized groups or individuals."
The National Guard will be able to carry out the functions of any law enforcement agency in the post-coup state, as existing agencies cannot be fully relied upon, considering the questionable legitimacy of the new rulers & public discontent in most eastern regions.
Ukraine established a National Guard before, in 1991, with a similar role, as remnants of the former Soviet army were considered "unreliable".
In 1995, it became the personal praetorian guard of President Kuchma, but was disbanded in 2000.
Historian Vladimir Skachko argues that the Guard will be used to antagonize the Russian speaking population, and he calls its creation this week, a “legalization of neo-Nazi and neo-fascist batons.”
Citing examples from 20th century European history, Skachko draws a parallel with the SA, or Brownshirts, a paramilitary wing of the Nazi Party, which acted as death squads...
The new secretary of Ukraine's Security Council, Andrey Parubiy, was one of the founders of the Neo-Nazi Social-National Party of Ukraine (SNPU), known as Svoboda party. Parubiy, according to numerous reports, was in control of the building from which snipers shot in central Kiev, February.
Deputy Prime Minister Aleksandr Sych is also a member of Svoboda, which uses Nazi symbols, & flies WWII era nationalist flags from the time when Ukrainian Nazis collaborated with Berlin.
The self-imposed prosecutor general of Ukraine, Oleg Makhnitsky is also a member of Svoboda.
A 1999 report from Tel-Aviv University called the Svoboda party "an extremist, right-wing, nationalist organization which emphasizes its identification with the ideology of German National Socialism."
On Friday, Moscow launched a criminal investigation into Svoboda’s leader Oleg Tyagnibok for his alleged role in fighting Russian forces in Chechnya.
Another key figure is Dmitry Yarosh, the leader of the Right Sector, which was instrumental in setting up the National Guard forces.
Right Sector allies several neo-fascist groups, including UNA-UNSO, Patriots of Ukraine, who allegedly fought against Russian troops in Chechnya and Moldova.
Russia has placed Yarosh on an international wanted list, charged with inciting terrorism, after Right Sector’s social page published an address to Doku Umarov, Moscow’s most wanted person, to attack Russia.
Yarosh later said the page was hacked and that the address was fabricated.
Historian Vladimir Skachko believes that the authorities in Kiev are trying to channel all neo-Nazi “combustible material” out of Kiev. Most likely, he says they will be dispersed around Crimea.
This idea is supported by sources cited by the editor-in-chief of the National Defense Magazine, Igor Korotchenko, who says ‘Maidan commissars’ have now joined the Ukrainian National guard.
“Rotation of forces is taking place, to move the military units to new locations. New authorized political representatives posts are created for those troops that are being sent to South-East and the Crimean borders,” Korotchenko says.
The National Guard units, he says, will act as guardians of the coup's leadership and ideals.
He says the troops will be deployed to those areas which seek greater autonomy from Kiev & might be used soon “against the population and the Self-Defense Forces of Crimea.”
Kiev’s present economic struggles make some experts wonder who is financially supporting Ukraine’s military reform...
“Most financial assistance allocated to Ukraine by foreign countries, will focus on the establishment and maintenance of the National Guard of Ukraine,” the former Deputy Minister of Defense of Ukraine, Vladimir Tereshchenko, says on Saturday.
Tereshchenko says financial support for the Ukrainian Navy and army is being neglected by Kiev... “thus emphasizing the priority of the domestic power structure” on forming a National Guard - which will receive the funds.
REFERENDUM IN CRIMEA LEGAL - KIEV COUP NOT
Serguei Aksionov, Prime Minister of the autonomous republic of Crimea, says the authorities there will only talk to the legitimate government of Ukraine.
In a press interview broadcast by Russia 1 TV, Aksionov says Crimea is ready to talk from an independent position when talking about its status: to be decided today, in a referendum considered illegitimate and separatist by the government of Kiev.
But Aksionov insists on the legal case, and will only talk with "a legitimate government in Kiev."
Aksionov was appointed as the new Prime Minister by the Supreme Council (Parliament) on February 27.
With the support of the Legislature, he subordinated the military & police to the autonomous government, and says just 2 Ukrainian military units in Crimean territory, have not sworn fidelity and respect to the people of Crimea.
He admits to the press that these groups haven't sided with the Crimean autonomous government, but says they are suffering mass defections.
RIGHT SECTOR GUNFIRE AT CROWDS IN BOTH KHARKIV AND DONETSK...
Clashes between pro-Moscow and pro-Kiev demonstrators in Ukraine’s Russian-speaking city of Kharkiv, have reportedly killed 2 people.
One pro-Russia protester and a passerby were killed by gunfire during clashes between the two sides outside a building of the far-right Ukrainian nationalist group, Right Sector, late on Friday.
Police say events leading to the deaths began when a group of nationalists opened fire from inside a car at a pro-Russian protest being held on Kharkiv’s central Svoboda (Freedom) Square.
On Saturday morning, Kharkov region's police chief, Anatoly Dmitriyev, said their operation to detain Right Sector gunmen, who opened fire and seized hostages in Kharkov, was complete, with about thirty people detained.
As was earlier reported, two people died and a policeman and one more person were wounded in clashes between Kharkov residents and Right Sector gunmen. Submachine gun fire was used from the Right Sector headquarters, as well as stun grenades and Molotov cocktails.
Ukraine’s acting Interior Minister Arsen Avakhov says on his Facebook page that around 30 people “from both sides” were arrested.
Violent clashes between rival demonstrators in Ukraine’s eastern city of Donetsk, also left one person dead & over a dozen injured on March 13.
Russia Warns Against Military Maneuvers in Ukrainian Conflict Zone
Russia's Deputy Minister of Defense, Anatoly Antonov, criticizes the military exercises "of great magnitude" taking place in the East and South of Ukraine, where there are majority protests against the recent coup.
Antonov warns in an amazing understatement that this "is pretty risky" and may destabilize Ukraine's political situation even more, already immersed as it is, in chaos, following the overthrow of the elected President, Víktor Yanukóvich, by the violent action of neo-fascist groups.
Kiev ordered a maximum alert of troops imposed, after Yanukovich left Kiev to speak in the East.
Without recognizing the Kiev coup authorities, Russia authorized an observation flight by the Ukrainian air force over its territory this week.
The Deputy Minister explained it was for Russia's neighbours - to help them check that Russia isn't engaging in any military activity on its border, that might threaten the safety of Ukraine.
Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry, however, considers Russia’s conditions for making an observation flight over its territory, are "excessive".
The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Yevgen Perebyinis, says now: “Although Russia agreed to Ukraine conducting an extraordinary observation flight over its territory, its conditions are absolutely excessive, and make the flight impossible.”
“We hope that Russia will respond to Ukraine’s request to change the conditions, which will make a flight possible,” the spokesperson says.
On Friday the Kremlin, Channel 1 TV, and Russia's Central Bank, were all hit by hackers, as were Crimea's main websites.
RT reported the authorities as saying it could not be assumed that the Ukraine crisis provoked these attacks.
Russia warns it reserves right to protect citizens in Ukraine
Russia now accuses the current Ukrainian authorities of failing to control the situation in that country, saying Moscow might take Russian people there under its protection.
"We have repeatedly said, those who came to power in Kiev must disarm the militants, provide security for the population, and the people's legal right to hold rallies," a Russian Foreign Ministry statement says.
It refers to Thursday's events in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk, where a young man was killed and several others injured, when a right-wing group armed with baseball bats clashed with a pro-Russian rally.
"As these events demonstrate, the authorities in Kiev do not control the situation in the country," the ministry states.
Russia realizes its responsibility for the lives of its fellow citizens & compatriots in Ukraine.
"We reserve the right to take these people under our protection," says Moscow.
The killing in Donetsk marks the first death since tensions moved from Kiev to Crimea, in mid-February.
Crimea, a Ukrainian autonomous republic, is to hold a referendum today, on its future.
KIEV COUP KILLERS START TO BE NAMED
Ukraine’s former security chief confirms that the snipers who killed dozens of people during last month's anti-government protests in Kiev, fired from a building held by the opposition.
In an interview with Rossiya-1 TV today, the former head of the Security Service of Ukraine, Aleksandr Yakimenko, says the shots that killed both police and protesters in February were fired from a building which was under the full control of the opposition and Maidan Commandant, Andrey Parubiy.
Parubiy was appointed as Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine, after the opposition took power in the former Soviet state.
“Shots came from the Philharmonic Hall and Maidan Commandant Parubiy was responsible for this building. Snipers and people with automatic weapons, were ‘working’ from this building on February 20th,” Yakimenko says.
The former chief of Ukraine’s security service also says Parubiy had been in contact with US Special Forces and that they may have arranged the deadly shootings.
"These forces did what they were told by their bosses – the US. They basically lived in the embassy. They were there every day.
"It's true that Nalivaichenko allowed CIA agents to work in the Security Service building He also handed personal files of his own employees over to the CIA agents to study.
"But their mission was interrupted by an armed coup. The Maidan do not appoint these people; rather, it’s the US that does it. It’s enough to look at the newly appointed officials: Parubiy, Gvozd, and Nalyvaichenko are all people who followed someone else’s orders, the orders of the US, not even Europe.
"They are directly linked to US intelligence. They sought to delay the negotiations and prevent the incumbent president from striking a deal with Russia and Russia helping to prop up social and economic order in Ukraine.
"After that they planned to depose the president and integrate Ukraine into Europe, using Russian money. Who was troubled by the victory of the EU and the pro-integration forces? Only the US.
"The US was the only country concerned over a possible alliance of Europe, Russia & Ukraine. "The Customs Union and a connection between Russia and Ukraine, did not sit well with their plans, either.
"They’d been doing it ever since Yushchenko was president, and we couldn’t get rid of them. Once we started to put pressure on, they relocated to Poland, Latvia and Lithuania.
The most interesting part is that many regional governments spent budget money to pay for the so-called vyshkoli, i.e. training camps for militants to fight with various types of weapons.
All orders were given, either by the US embassy, or by Jan Tombinski, a Polish representative who worked in the EU mission in Kiev.
Poland played an invaluable role in the coup. It has always dreamt of restoring its former power & a Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.
Ever since the Maidan kicked off, our security services registered a dramatic increase in diplomatic correspondence coming in to various Western embassies in Kiev.
There is one more mystery. Straight after this influx of correspondence we saw some foreign money at the Maidan and in Kiev exchange bureaus: new, re-designed US dollar bank notes.
Poroshenko, Firtash, Pinchuk – they all poured money into the Maidan. With all their assets in foreign banks, they found themselves trapped. So they had to follow orders from the West.
All they were supposed to do was back the Maidan; otherwise they would have lost all their assets. They were thinking about their money rather than their own country.
Unfortunately we couldn’t prevent the casualties, the people, mainly those who had come from the Western regions, were sent into the line of fire.
The Maidan militants left the barricades after the sniper fire started. But time will set the record straight.
The whole story has affected the Berkut guys, the Internal Troops, the Security Service, too. But ordinary Ukrainians have suffered as well.
And I don’t think they should have sacrificed their lives for Yatsenyuk, Klitschko, Poroshenko and others to take their posts.
Ukrainians have lots of patience. But one day they will run out of it and remove them from power. I hope that happens soon enough."
His remarks come after a recently leaked phone call between EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Catherine Ashton, and the Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Paet, showed that Ukraine’s opposition had hired snipers to kill both police officers and demonstrators.
In the 11-minute conversation, Paet said the February killings were carried out by snipers hired by the Maidan coalition, which is the main provocateur of the crisis in Kiev.
The Estonian official also noted that ousted Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych had not been behind the fatal shootings.
Moscow has called for the formation of an independent group to investigate the crimes committed by extremist and armed elements of the opposition over the past three months in the Eastern European country.
Ukraine's civil disorder started in November, as soon as Yanukovych refused to sign an EU Association Agreement, and chose instead, closer ties with Russia.
EU PARLIAMENT HAS NO REAL POWER
The European Parliament votes to suspend certain data-sharing agreements with the US.
MEPs also vote in favor of a total end to data sharing deals between the EU and US, unless the NSA stops blanket spying on EU citizens.
The European Commission, however, refuses to suspend data sharing with the US and says it's looking for "assurances" from Washington. Most MEPs believe that is not good enough.
“If we are simply looking at a nice diplomatic cozy chat with the US as a result of this, it really makes you wonder what has to happen before we actually take any definitive action,” says UK Green MEP, Jean Lambert.
MEPs have also voted in favor of data protection regulations that would give EU citizens the right to have their personal information totally erased, and see large fines imposed on those flouting the laws.
But observers know that the EU Parliament has no power to act, and that all EU policy is decided by the unelected Commission, which serves the US.
In October, ex-NSA contractor, Ed Snowden, leaked secret US government spying programs which the NSA and the FBI use to eavesdrop on millions of US and European phone records, plus the Internet data from Facebook, Yahoo, Google, Apple and Microsoft.
The NSA scandal revealed spy activities which included bugging German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s private cellphone, for over a decade.
US/EU POODLES V RUSSIAN BEAR
German Chancellor Angela Merkel threatens Russia's leaders with individual travel bans... and a seizure of their assets - unless Russia starts direct talks with Kiev.
Merkel makes the threat at a press event with Poland's centre-right PM, Donald Tusk, after the US Congress "calls on" EU states to impose travel bans and asset seizures on Russia's leaders, to be followed by trade and economic sanctions...
Germany's Chancellor says if "no progress" is made by March 17th, EU foreign ministers will impose measures, including visa bans and asset freezes on those responsible for "Russia's actions against Ukraine and EU leaders."
Merkel stresses that Ukraine and the EU WILL sign an association agreement at the next EU summit - on March 20th.
Most Germans against sanctions on Russia — poll
Most German citizens do not support the possible imposition of economic sanctions on Russia over the situation in Ukraine, says a recent opinion poll, conducted by market research company Forsa, for the German-Russian Chamber of Commerce.
Forsa statistics show only 24% of respondents consider economic sanctions against Russia an effective way to settle the crisis in Ukraine. 69% say such pressure will bring nothing.
Most respondents believe economic sanctions will harm
REPUBLIC OF CRIMEA BORN TUESDAY (QUOTES KOSOVO AS PRECEDENT)
The parliament of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea Tuesday, adopts its declaration of independence from Ukraine - necessary for holding the March 16th referendum.
“We, the members of the parliament of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the Sevastopol City Council, with regard to the charter of the United Nations and a range of other international documents, taking into consideration the confirmation of Kosovo's status by the United Nations' International Court of Justice on July 22nd, 2010, which says a unilateral declaration of independence by a part of a country doesn’t violate any international norms, make this decision,” says the text of the declaration, published by the Crimean media.
The document is adopted at an extraordinary session of Crimea's parliament.
78 of 100 members of parliament, voted in favour of the declaration.
The Crimean parliament’s vote to become an independent sovereign state paves the way for a March 16th referendum in the Crimean Autonomous Republic and the city of Sevastopol, to join Russia.
If the referendum is in favour, the Crimean authorities will request that their country becomes a constituent republic of the Russian Federation.
The declaration was signed by the speaker of the Supreme Council of Crimea, Vladimir Konstantinov, and the head of Sevastopol City Council, Yury Doynikov.
“We adopted the declaration of independence to make the upcoming referendum legitimate and transparent,” Konstantinov says.
“Now we declare ourselves the Republic of Crimea, we don’t add ‘autonomous."
After today’s declaration of independence, Crimea will never rejoin Ukraine, he adds.
He says Crimea will adopt the Russian ruble as its currency, shortly after the referendum.
ANTI-FASCISTS TO WORLD LEADERS - ARE YOU FOR FASCISM IN UKRAINE?
World Without Nazism, the international human rights movement led by Boris Spiegel warns of the threat Ukraine's Neo-Nazis pose to ALL minorities.
“The absence of any international community reaction could repeat the Kristallnacht [Night of Broken Glass] for non-Ukrainians and other ethnic minorities,” the movement says Tuesday.
The human rights activists urge world leaders “to take concrete measures to protect human rights & prevent violence & genocide in Ukraine”.
World Without Nazism considers as dishonest, the position of certain Jewish leaders, who “consider the communities’ state satisfactory when synagogues are on fire and when Jews face danger”.
The movement fears that, soon, Nazism may be an official policy of the Ukrainian authorities.
The human rights activists ask: “who can condemn Crimean residents, who want to get rid of Nazis and set up people’s power on the peninsula?”
“Only those who want to see Europe under Nazi and radical nationalists will condemn Crimea,” they answer.
CRIMEA BANS NEO-NAZI GROUPS
Crimea’s Supreme Council has banned the activity of pro-fascist & Neo-Nazi political parties and public organisations, including the Right Sector, the Crimean parliament's press service says in a statement Tuesday.
The Right Sector leader has been put on the international wanted list for terrorism, the press service says.
Such parties as UNA-UNSO, Patriots of Ukraine, Carpathian Sich and others, are also banned, as they “pose a threat to Crimea’s security”, the press service states.
“Crimea is shocked by the chaos that prevails in many Ukrainian regions,” the press service says, and “The statement by the Right Sector extremist group gives serious concern, since its actions have led to escalating violence on the peninsula."
CRIMEA's TATARS GRANTED FULL RIGHTS
A resolution passed by the Crimean parliament guarantees proportional representation in the republic’s legislative and executive bodies for the Crimean Tatar ethnic minority, and grants their language official status, and other rights.
The resolution stipulates proportional representation in future parliaments and provides for at least 20% of seats in Crimea’s executive for Crimean Tatars. They will have guaranteed representation in the lower levels of government, as well.
The parliament also wants to recognize as official all the self-governance bodies of Crimean Tatars, starting with the Kurultai, a Tatar general assembly.
Crimean MPs pledge to fund programs to support the Tatar community in Crimea and repatriation of Crimean Tatars, who were deported from the peninsula by Stalin's Soviet government in the 1940s.
There will also be recognition of the Tatars’ cultural impact on Crimea through the return of the original names of some geographical features, such as mountains or rivers, that were changed at the time of the deportation.
Parliament Speaker Vladimir Konstantinov calls the bill “historic” and says Crimean Tatars have been waiting for the reform for 70 years.
“The Crimean Tatar people have not been offered anything like this from either the Soviet Union or independent Ukraine. They have been hoping for this for decades, and it will allow Crimeans of all nationalities to develop and feel safe and comfortable on Crimean soil,” he says.
NO JAW JAW -- US TO RUSSIA
The leaders of current US policy say the door to diplomacy is now closed, unless Russia agrees to accept US conditions.
Kerry today refuses to accept President Putin's invitation to talk on the crisis.
French Leftist Leader Criticizes Western Attitudes Towards Ukraine
The Co-president of the French Leftist Party & former presidential candidate, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, today describes the US and EU's attitude to Ukraine, as "irresponsible and provocative".
Speaking to BFM TV, Mélenchon says that the West's goal is to bring NATO member states to Russia's borders... which is unacceptable, irresponsible and provocative.
The former presidential candidate says it's no good adding fuel to a fire, and France should act as a mediator, which is in the country's tradition.
Mélenchon adds that the new Ukrainian government, made up of right-wing and neo-Nazis individuals, will oppress the people --- as never before.
SOCIALIST INTERNATIONAL ADDRESSED
Fair Russia, a left of centre party allied to the Socialist International, calls on its sister parties across the world to react wisely to Ukraine's rightwing coup.
It was inaction by European officials, that instigated the activities of the Right Sector radical group manned by nationalists and neo-fascists whose prime motto is 'Ukraine for Ukrainians', the Russian message reads.
Fair Russia says that Right Sector controls about 15,000 well armed extremists, using threats and violence to force the authorities in several regions into cooperating with the "Maidan" movement.
The Russian party tells its foreign allies that the leaders of Ukrainian rightists have called to evict Russians and Jews from the country or the physical extermination of these groups.
Fair Russia holds that it was only because of the Upper House’s decision to allow President Vladimir Putin to use military force in Ukraine, that the threat of neo-fascist ultra-nationalists seizing power in the eastern & south-eastern regions, was stopped.
The Russian party calls upon all its partners in the Socialist International to deliver aid to the Ukrainian people and also expects them to publicly denounce the ideology of the Right Sector opposition, and rightwing extremists.
Fair Russia says only free, honest and universal elections, can now restore the legitimate state structures in Ukraine.
Ukrainian military won't listen to 'junta' in Kiev - Yanukovich
Ukrainian officers & soldiers loyal to their oaths won't take criminal orders from a coup-imposed government in Kiev, President Viktor Yanukovich tells reporters today.
He says that, as a legitimate head of state, he is still the commander-in-chief of Ukraine.
“I'm still alive and I'm still the legitimate president,” Yanukovich says today in a statement to the media in the southern Russian city of Rostov-on-Don.
He accuses the coup-imposed government of “shooting your own people” - protesters and police officers - during the February conflict, and of escalating the violence.
The coup leaders in Kiev “will sooner or later be held accountable for the suffering of the people,” he says.
Yanukovich blasts western officials who recognize the Kiev government, despite the way it came to power and control by right-wing radicals.
“Are you blind? Have you forgotten what fascism is?” he asks the West.
He criticizes the US for providing a $1 billion loan to the new authorities in Kiev, saying that US law forbids financial support for any government reaching power by military coup, ousting a legitimately elected head of state.
Yanokovich says he will now appeal to US legislators to re-assess this noted violation.
Yanukovich warns that Ukrainians face a serious fall in their living standards due to economic "austerity measures" that Kiev will have to take to secure western "aid".
The authorities will blame Yanukovich and probably Russia for this, he predicts, and adds that they will be false accusations.
He also mentions the defiance to Kiev in Crimea and eastern Ukraine...
"Your actions have led to the fact that Crimea is separating and the people of the south and east are demanding respect, even in the face of machine guns," he says.
"We will get through this trouble, and the people who have been deceived by you, will see this and the country will rise up and unite," he says, addressing the Kiev coup authorities.
He neither endorses nor condemns Crimea's imminent referendum on whether to become independent from Ukraine and join the Russian Federation.
He denounces the presidential election in Ukraine planned for May 25th, saying that, under the circumstances, it cannot be a legal, representative body.
Yanukovich dismisses the notion that he lost legitimacy after fleeing Ukraine and pledges to return to Kiev, “as soon as the circumstances allow it.” He says he believes that will be soon.
Yanukovich was overthrown on February 22nd in what Russia considers was an armed coup, committed with the help of armed groups.
The new authorities declared him deposed in violation of constitutional impeachment procedures, and formed a new government.
While western countries hail this development and support Kiev, Russia sees it as illegitimate and insists on forming a new inclusive national reconciliation government.
Such a move is part of a deal which Yanukovich and protesters struck, just before his ousting, and which three European nations also signed.
Those 3 Western countries who signed, say now that the peace deal became "irrelevant" after Yanukovich crossed Ukraine's borders.
(The 3 without honour, are France, Germany and Poland.)
THE RESULT OF NATO's BOMBING OF LIBYA
Libya is "epicentre of illicit arms trade" – UN
Libya has been named as the primary source of the illegal weapons trade, fueling conflicts in at least 14 countries around the world, a final report from the UN's independent panel on Libya’s sanctions, announces.
In a briefing to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) yesterday, Libya sanctions committee chair, Rwandan Ambassador, Eugene Gasana, says that the post-Gaddafi government is struggling to secure a state in which a number of armed tribal militias do not accept Tripoli’s authority.
“The panel noted that the control of non-state armed actors over the majority of stockpiles in Libya as well as ineffective border control systems, remain the primary obstacles to countering proliferation and that Libya has become a primary source of illicit weapons, including MANPADs [portable air defense systems],” Gasana stated, reports Reuters.
Unable to secure its borders, Libya has let weapons fall into the hands of violent radical elements on several continents, Gasana said.
“Arms transfers to over 14 countries reflect a highly diversified range of trafficking dynamics; and trafficking from Libya is now fueling conflict and insecurity, including terrorism, on several continents,” he said.
As of now, three ports in the country... are under the full control of armed rebels.
A "special force" has been ordered by Libya’s parliament to be sent next week to “liberate” all rebel-held ports, which are crucial to sustaining Libya's oil-rich export economy that is struggling to survive after the NATO invasion and forced regime change.
A UN arms embargo was enacted on Libya at the start of the unrest which eventually ousted former leader Muammar Gaddafi.
Last year, non-lethal equipment was allowed to enter Libya when the UNSC eased sanctions as the UN cautioned Tripoli against the spread of weapons to nearby states.
The panel found a number of violations of the arms embargo, such as “non-notified” transfers to government security forces, and transfers of weapons to the private market, Gasana said.
The head of the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) warned the 15-member body that Libya faces increased and unprecedented violence.
“Libya faces the risk of embarking on a new trajectory of unprecedented violence,” as security and political divisions deteriorate, Tarek Mitri told the UNSC.
Mitri pointed to the surge of attacks in Sabha in the south, with over 100 civilian deaths – including children – and the displacement of hundreds of families, as well as shortages of food, fuel, and medical supplies. In the east, targeted assassinations, bombings, and now kidnappings around Benghazi, have reached “intolerable” levels.
“Intense efforts to resolve differences and negotiate an agreement on the management of the transitional period, including the future of the General National Congress and the Government, have not succeeded in bringing an end to the divisions that have paralyzed the political process,” noted Mitri.
An “alarming” rise in attacks on journalists has also been witnessed in recent months, Mitri told the Council, with TV stations in Tripoli and Benghazi vandalized, and a number of journalists abducted.
Kidnapped Syrian nuns released !!!
12 Syrian nuns kidnapped by rebel gangs late last year have been released, the pan-Arab al-Mayadeen TV, reports.
Reports say the released nuns will be hosted in the Mariamieh Church in Damascus, where a celebratory religious mass is to be held.
Radical jihadist militants kidnapped the 12 nuns from their convent in the Christian town of Maloula, north of Damascus, and took them to the nearby town of Yabroud in December last year, where they were fighting hard with Syrian government troops.
Syrian forces unleashed a wide-scale offensive over the last three weeks to recapture the key town, where more than 10,000 rebel fighters are believed to be hiding out.
As clashes flared up near Yabroud, media reports said communication with the nuns had been cut off.
Major-General Abbas Ibrahim, the chief of Lebanon's security, who headed mediation efforts for the nuns' release, said a decision to release the nuns had been taken, but it would take time, due to logistical snags.
Putin defends Crimean referendum legitimacy to EU leaders as Ukraine's southeast rallies
Crimea’s upcoming referendum will reflect the legitimate interests of its people, President Vladimir Putin tells two EU leaders by phone.
Inspired by Crimea’s actions, eastern Ukraine is also protesting about a coup-imposed Kiev government which bans all pro-Russia actions.
Putin on Sunday had a top-level conversation with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and UK Prime Minister David Cameron, states the Kremlin press service.
Russia's president “underlined in particular that the steps taken by Crimea’s legitimate authorities are based on international law, & are aimed at guaranteeing the legitimate interests of the peninsula’s population,” the statement says.
The “lack of any action” on the part of the current Kiev authorities with regard to ultra- nationalists and armed radicals in Ukraine, has particularly been noted by Putin.
KIEV COUP LEADERS fight AUTONOMY
The coup-imposed Kiev government is now stepping up its pressure on Crimea, blocking the electronic system of the region’s treasury, freezing the autonomy’s accounts, and ramping up border police' numbers on Crimea’s borders.
Crimean Deputy PM, Rustam Temirgaliyev, says that Kiev’s recent moves will not affect state payments, including pensions, and that Crimea's authorities are opening accounts in Russian banks, and ignoring the frozen ones.
Temirgaliev also tells Interfax that the Crimean authorities anticipate "some additional railway traffic" to and from Russia, to be ferried over the Kerch Strait.
A bridge connecting Kerch and Russia’s Krasnodar Region, is also being built “at a rapid pace,” he says.
Tthe All-Crimean referendum will occur on March 16th.
On Sunday, thousands of demonstrators rallied in the eastern Ukrainian city of Lugansk, and occupied the regional administration building, hoisting a Russian flag on top.
Protesters demanded that Mikhail Bolotskikh, the region’s head, step down. Bolotskikh was appointed by the self-proclaimed Kiev regime.
Twitter users claim that Bolotskikh has already signed his resignation and escaped from the city centre in a car, via a “disgrace corridor” formed by the protesters.
On Sunday evening, the fugitive official said that he signed the document under pressure and that he is still "carrying out his duties".
Pro-Russian demonstrators reportedly clashed with Euromaidan activists demonstrating near a monument to Ukrainian poet Shevchenko, whose 200th birthday was celebrated Sunday.
Shevchenko’s anniversary attracted rallies in support of Ukraine’s unity across the country.
One of the largest demonstrations took place in Kharkov, where some 10,000 people met with a huge 100-meter Ukrainian flag, and chanted, “No to war!”
The eastern Ukrainian city, 26 kilometers away from the Russian border and with a large Russian minority, has been extremely divided on whether to accept the current Kiev regime as a legitimate power.
On Saturday, over 10,000 pro-Russian residents rallied to reject Kiev’s rule, urging the formation of a southeast Ukraine "federation of regions".
Federation, or the Autonomous South- Eastern Republic, should be decided by a popular vote as soon as possible, the people demanded.
While the rally itself was peaceful, it ended with several attempts at provoking violence.
Two people were beaten and one shot by unidentified masked people, who quickly left the scene by car. The radical Right Sector movement has denied that its members waged the attack.
About 7,000 pro-Russian demonstrators in the city of Donetsk on Sunday, also demand the holding of a referendum on the status of their region.
The people demand that the status of the Russian language, stripped by the coup-imposed government, is upheld, and that the “People’s Governor” of Donetsk, Pavel Gubarev, is freed.
Gubarev, detained in Donetsk by Special Security Forces, has reportedly been taken to Kiev charged with violating the territorial integrity of Ukraine, taking over power, and seizing government buildings.
The coup-imposed Ukrainian authorities have also responded to the situation in Lugansk, by opening a criminal case, on similar charges.
UDAR party leader Vitaly Klitschko says Sunday to BBC Ukraine, that those who demand referendums in eastern Ukraine are simply “citizens of another state,” for whom Ukraine's borders “must be closed.”
OUR SANCTIONS ARE BIGGER THAN YOUR SANCTIONS...
Moscow is preparing a bill to freeze the assets of European and US companies operating in Russia, in response to the West's moves against Russia.
A group of Russian lawmakers, including Senator Andrey Klishas, chair of Russia's upper house committee for constitutional law, are working on plans to respond to US sanctions, as well as potential bans by other Western countries.
Klishas says Moscow must have sufficient leverage to respond to the threats of sanctions coming from foreign countries.
The US has imposed visa restrictions and sanctions on individual Russians and stopped all military co-operation, including on Syrian chemical arms.
The EU has suspended visa and investment talks and threatens to impose sanctions.
Russian Official: Kiev should Block Far-right Leader’s Presidential Bid
The Kiev authorities should block the presidential bid of the leader of Right Sector, Dmytro Yarosh, the Russian foreign ministry's rights envoy says today (Sunday).
"The de facto authorities in Kiev and their Western protectors must close the road to power for the neo-fascist Yarosh and his supporters," Konstantin Dolgov writes on Twitter.
"The violent mayhem committed by ultranationalists, taking advantage of lawlessness, has completely discredited the Maidan movement," Dolgov adds, referring to Kiev's Independence Square protest hub.
Right Sector on Friday announced that Yarosh would stand in the elections on May 25th, and said it was ready to go to war with Russia.
The ultra-nationalist group was at the frontline of clashes with police in Kiev.
Yarosh founded it on November 13th, to coordinate radical forces in the Kiev protests. Russia seeks Yarosh's arrest after his calls to commit extremist acts and "terror" in Russia.
OSCE MUST INVESTIGATE NOW
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov calls now for the OSCE (Organization for Security & Cooperation in Europe) investigation into who was behind the deaths of dozens of people in Kiev last month in attacks by snipers, to begin, and says the truth can no longer be covered up.
Lavrov's comments come after Estonia's top diplomat told EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton in a 'phone call leaked this week, that the then-opposition to president Viktor Yanukovych, may have been involved in the attacks.
"The latest information about the so-called snipers case can no longer be covered up," Lavrov tells a news conference in Moscow with his Tajik counterpart.
"We have proposed that the OSCE (Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe) takes up an objective investigation of this, and we will ensure that there is justice.
"There have been too many lies, and this lie has been used too long to push European public opinion in the wrong direction, contrary to the objective facts."
The European Union also wants a probe into reports about the killing of people by snipers in Kiev, EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton's press secretary, Maja Kocijancic, says.
An investigation must be conducted into the violence and murders and those guilty must be brought to justice, she says, in reply to a question from a reporter about the EU's attitude to the fact that snipers who killed people on Independence Square, could have been hired by the Western-backed opposition.
EU MUST NOT IGNORE NEO-FASCISTS
Ukraine’s new government is under the influence of radical nationalists, says Russia’s Foreign Minister, who believes his foreign counterparts are well aware of this, but unwilling to acknowledge it.
“The so-called interim government is not self-sufficient and, to our great regret, depends upon radical nationalists, who carried out the military coup,” Sergey Lavrov says Saturday, when asked if Russia is ready to have direct talks with the present Kiev government.
At the press conference, Lavrov gives an example of how the Right Sector now controls decision-making.
“The new government’s officials asked Right Sector to approve their choice of ministers, and the Right Sector wasn't satisfied. Its leaders said a reloading of the government system in Ukraine has not been completed. "They demand now that each minister must go to the Maidan protesters to report on how well they implement the demands of the protest leaders.”
Sergey Lavrov says that Right Sector, which has allegedly demanded access to Ukraine's arsenals, now has security in Kiev totally under its control.
The capital of Ukraine has not been safe since ousted President Viktor Yanukovich removed all the police from the streets in compliance with the February-21 agreement.
"Actually there’s no state control over public order and the so-called Right Sector calls the tune - the group that has resorted to terror and intimidation,” Lavrov says.
Lavrov believes the West is well aware of the role Right Sector is playing in post-coup Ukraine.
“Our western partners, it seems to me, are quite well informed of what they represent, because they are frequent quests there, and, among themselves, they are sharing extremely alarming impressions. But, I guess for political reasons, they are trying to conceal the facts in public.”
John Laughland, of the Paris-based Institute of Democracy and Cooperation, warns of the dangers of underestimating the nationalist forces in Ukraine:
“Western media call far-right groups a minority, but it’s a decisive minority.”
“It's been clear for some time, that men of violence exercise decisive influence.
"In 2012, EU's parliament condemned Svoboda - and now its members are in the government.
"Europe is looking the other way. Double standards - the whole point is to bounce Ukraine into the western camp.”
KIEV COUP REGIME BACKED BY WEST "ON THE BRINK OF ARMING NEO-NAZIS"
The leader of Ukraine's Right Sector, Dmitry Yarosh, has reportedly demanded that the Kiev authorities open military arsenals for the group’s fighters, ITAR-TASS cites an anonymous source in Ukraine’s military department, as saying.
The source also quotes Yarosh as saying that the “conservative approach” of the security agencies’ chiefs is failing to let order be restored through stopping anti- Maidan rallies in eastern and southern regions of Ukraine.
In an ultimatum, Yarosh demands that the government now gives access to his group to weapons and military equipment, and to army training centres, “for quality training for Right Sector fighters.”
“Yarosh doesn’t rule out more decisive action on Ukraine, if the government doesn’t comply with these demands,” the source indicates to ITAR-TASS.
Yarosh also plans to stand as president, states the head of his movement in Kiev.
The Right Sector, an amalgamation of several far-right groups, was formed in November 2013.
Members were active in the violence which drove President Viktor Yanukovich from Kiev.
After the February 21 agreement between Yanukovich & the opposition was signed, the Right Sector said they did not accept it and would continue the armed struggle.
Its violent acts are well-documented on YouTube. The fighters used clubs, petrol bombs and firearms against the Ukrainian police. Even after the coup, some members continue to use rifles and pistols.
On Wednesday, a proposal was submitted to the Ukrainian parliament, that Right Sector be established as "a regular armed unit".
Coup-appointed PM Arseny Yatsenyuk dismissed 3 deputy defense ministers over their refusal to support the proposal.
Russia has put Yarosh on an international wanted list for inciting terrorism, after he urged Mr Doku Umarov, one of the most- wanted terrorists in the world, to attack Russia, over the Ukrainian conflict.
UKRAINE DEFAULTS ON ITS GAS BILL
Ukraine has missed its payment deadline for gas supplies. As its debt is increasing, Gazprom does not rule out it may cut gas supplies to the country, the Russian energy giant’s head Aleksey Miller says.
“Today, March 7th, is the deadline for making a payment for February's gas supplies to Ukraine,” Miller tells journalists on Friday, adding that Gazprom has not received any payment on account.
“Given the discount for the first quarter, the outstanding debt has increased to $1.89 billion,” Miller adds.
“Factually it means that Ukraine has stopped paying for gas. This contravenes the contract terms and international trade practice. But we can’t deliver gas for free”.
If Ukraine doesn’t pay its bills it risks plunging into a crisis similar to the one in 2009, Miller warns.
During the transit crisis five years ago, supplies of Russian gas to Europe were cut off for 20 days because of tension between Russia and Ukraine.
Earlier this week President Putin said that, starting from April 1st, Gazprom will no longer offer Ukraine the lower price agreed in December.
The aid package to Kiev included $15 billion in bonds purchases, and a 33 percent gas discount, that reduced the price to $268.50 per 1,000 cubic meters - down from $400.
Currently Ukraine buys more than 50% of its gas from Russia, but aims to be energy independent by 2020.
Before protests kicked off in Ukraine, the country signed a $10 billion shale gas exploration deal with Chevron.
Dozens of Israeli settlers have stormed the compound of al-Aqsa Mosque in al-Quds (Jerusalem) under armed forces' protection.
According to witnesses, the Israeli settlers, backed by the regime's troops, once again raided the al-Aqsa Mosque in groups.
In recent months, Israeli forces and settlers have stepped up their attacks on the mosque. This has led to violent confrontations between the two sides.
Israel has also imposed severe restrictions to stop Muslim worshippers entering the mosque.
ISRAEL CUTS WATER SUPPLY TO REFUGEES
The Israeli regime has reportedly cut off the water supply to some 45,000 Palestinians residing in the areas around East al-Quds (Jerusalem), local sources say.
Residents of Shuafat refugee camp said on Wednesday that their water had been cut off for nearly three days, while a number of other Palestinian suburbs near al-Quds had also been without water for 20 days.
According to the residents, the Israeli water authority started to gradually reduce water supplies about two weeks ago and now it has completely stopped.
However, the Israeli water company, Gihon, is denying any water shut-off to Arab areas.
MAD DOG AMERICA SNARLS
US Secretary of State John Kerry interfered to provoke high tension again on Thursday, insisting that Ukraine's territorial integrity must be upheld, and then adding that the coup government in Kiev should decide now, on the future of Crimea.
"Crimea is part of the Ukraine. Crimea is Ukraine (sic). We support the territorial integrity of Ukraine, & the government of Ukraine needs to be involved in any decision" on whether the peninsula would break away, he says.
"It's my understanding that the constitution of Ukraine requires an all-Ukraine referendum. Every part of Ukraine, all Ukrainians, would have to be part of a referendum," he says.
In Washington, US President Barack Obama proves that a black president can be just as twisted in the service of US power as Bush, by claiming that holding a Crimea referendum “would violate the Ukrainian Constitution, and violate international law.”
“Any discussion about the future of Ukraine must include the legitimate government of Ukraine,” Obama echoes on Thursday. “In 2014, we're well beyond the days when borders can be redrawn over the heads of democratic leaders.” (Such as in Kosovo?)
Earlier Thursday, the US leader ordered sanctions on individuals he claims were involved in "Russia's military intervention" in Ukraine, imposing travel bans and illegally freezing (stealing) their assets.
Washington is also suspending military ties with Russia: including joint maneuvers, port visits and planning meetings over the crisis.
Tensions between Washington and Moscow escalated after Mr Obama's administration accused the Kremlin of planning a "military intervention" in Ukraine.
With no proof, wisdom or understanding. Just like mad neocon AIPAC-crazed Bush.
Russia: Ukraine's NATO membership impossible
Moscow categorically rules out any possibility of Ukraine joining NATO, a senior Russian diplomat says Thursday.
"It won't happen under any circumstances. It is impossible," Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Vasily Nebenzya tells reporters.
He stresses that both Russia and NATO understand very well the consequences of Ukraine becoming a member of the Euro-Atlantic defence alliance.
"I cannot imagine Ukraine's participation in NATO - not now, or in the future," he says.
Wednesday, Ukrainian lawmakers introduced a bill to cancel Ukraine's nonaligned status and allow it to join military alliances. The bill could be voted on early next week.
NATO is beefing up air-strike patrols in Poland & other Baltic states, & cutting cooperation with Russia to pressure it into backing down on Ukraine.
NATO announced Wednesday, it has suspended plans for the first NATO- Russia joint naval mission to escort Syria's chemical weaponsshipments.
The empire didn't like Russia winning over Syria, did it?
Lawmakers of Ukraine’s autonomous Crimea region have asked Russia to let the region join the Russian Federation.
The 100-member Crimean Supreme Council on Thursday voted unanimously in favor of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea joining Russia and becoming part of it.
The Crimean Parliament states that if Russia responds to their request positively, Crimean citizens could give their view in a referendum on March 16th.
“The referendum will take place on March 16th," says the autonomous region’s First Deputy Premier, Rustam Temirgaliev, reports ITAR-TASS news agency.
According to Temirgaliev, Crimean citizens should answer two questions in the ballot.
“The first one: Are you in favor of Crimea becoming a constituent territory of the Russian Federation.? The second one: Are you in favor of restoring Crimea’s 1992 constitution?”, he says.
Under current Ukrainian law, the Crimean parliament enjoys a degree of autonomy. It voted 78-0 with eight abstentions in favor of holding the referendum and joining Russia.
The Russian government hasn't commented but says President Vladimir Putin has been informed of the Crimea parliament's request.
In Moscow, a prominent member of the Russian parliament, Sergei Mironov, says he has tabled a bill to ease the procedure for Crimea to join Russia and that it could be put to a vote as early as next week.
An opinion poll carried out in Russia over the weekend, shows that most Russians express commitment towards the people of Crimea, and believe the Kremlin should make greater efforts to defend the interests of ethnic Russians in that region.
NATO LEADS DRIVE TO CRIPPLE RUSSIA
Russia’s envoy to NATO criticizes its full review of any military cooperation with Moscow over Ukraine.
Alexander Grushko says NATO is applying double standards to Russia, by trying to press Moscow to back down on Ukraine.
"This meeting proves that NATO still has a double standard policy & that Cold War stereotypes are still being used towards Russia," Grushko tells reporters, after a meeting of NATO and Russian officials to discuss tensions in Ukraine.
Unelected NATO Sec General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, has announced a review of the “entire range” of military cooperation with the Russian Federation.
The NATO chief also adds that the US-led western military alliance will intensify its partnership with Ukraine, by helping to boost Ukraine's army... !
US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel says Washington is boosting military cooperation with Poland & the Baltic states also, to show "solidarity with allies" in the Ukraine crisis.
"The Defense Department is pursuing measures to support our allies," Hagel tells the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Isolating Moscow - ‘most stupid decision one could come up with - German media.
“The West should not break off contacts and should use every opportunity diplomacy offers”, Esslinger Zeitung says.
As for the situation in Ukraine, “there is hope in Putin’s de-escalating tones”, Germany's Ludwigsburger Kreiszeitung says about the Russian president’s latest news conference.
“He wants a new order to be established in Ukraine, with people having nothing in common with the old corrupt class.”
“Putin has even expressed sympathy for some demonstrators & is highly skeptical of a new political future for ex-President Yanukovych,” the daily newspaper says.
“Raising the issue of Russia’s legitimacy to interfere in such a way in the neighboring countries’ internal problems, will hardly produce results.”
“What is more important is the fact that Russia wants to be entitled to vote on the future of Ukraine, ie, to have a deciding vote,” it adds.
Nuernberger Nachrichten says that “the conflict around Ukraine hasn't escalated yet” and that the Russian President has “indicated he is prepared to negotiate”.
“This should be the top-priority target of all diplomatic efforts - to figure out together with the Kremlin’s chief, what the future of Crimea and Ukraine may look like,” it says.
“Before these talks are held, it will be rather counterproductive to keep irritating Russia with some questionable sanctions, as Putin’s answer would be clear - he, also, can apply economic sanctions, by shutting off gas, for example.”
The daily suggests “resuming contacts” and “at least trying to understand Russia,” which could facilitate a resolution of the crisis.
“The West should not break off contacts and should use every opportunity diplomacy offers”, Esslinger Zeitung says, adding that Russia “should not - even for a moment - regard this as a sign of weakness”.
“Russia has its own interests, as well as the West having its own ones,” General- Anzeiger says. “No one will be able to get ahead, while threatening.”
“The EU, that is to a great extent in a state of unconsciousness, has already experienced this in quite another sphere - in espionage, by the US National Security Agency (NSA)”, the newspaper says.
“All the threats, complaints & refutations do not help. The only thing that helps is analyzing others’ interests in a way that both sides are able to ensure a balance of interests.”
“Barack Obama’s big idea to isolate Moscow is the most stupid decision one could come up with in this situation,” Freie Presse says.
“It is to be hoped that the federal government will adhere to another opinion.”
“Berlin has theorized much on its new role in foreign policy. It's time to play this role now,” the daily says.
“It is in our interests to maintain contacts with Russia. Only in such a manner can we act constructively & avoid mutual threats, before someone loses their nerve.”
Russia: Sanctions Would Lead to a Crash of US Financial System.
You won't read this in the Western media, but Russia warned (on Tuesday), that US sanctions against Moscow on the current crisis in Ukraine, would end in a crash for the entire US financial system.
Kremlin economic aide Sergei Glazyev said that Russia could reduce to zero its economic dependency on the US, if sanctions occurred.
“We would find a way, not just to reduce our dependence on the United States to zero, but to emerge from those sanctions with great benefit to ourselves,” he told RIA Novosti.
The Russian official said Moscow could stop using dollars for international transactions and create its own payment system using its "wonderful trade and economic relations with our partners in the East and South."
Russian firms & banks would also not return loans from US financial institutions, he said.
"Any attempt to announce sanctions, would end in a crash for the financial system of the United States, which would cause the end of the domination of the United States in the global financial system," he stated.
He added that economic sanctions imposed by the EU would be "catastrophic" for Europe, saying that Russia could halt all gas supplies, "which would be beneficial for the Americans" and give Russia's economy a useful "boost".
The snipers who shot at both protesters and police in Kiev were hired by Maidan leaders, according to a leaked 'phone conversation between EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton & Estonia's foreign affairs minister, which has gone viral online.
“There is now stronger and stronger understanding that behind the snipers, it was not Yanukovich, but it was somebody from the new coalition,” Paet says during the conversation.
“I think we do want to investigate. I mean, I didn’t pick that up, that’s interesting. Gosh,” Ashton answers.
The call took place after Estonia’s Foreign Minister Urmas Paet visited Kiev on February 25th, at the peak of clashes between pro-EU protesters and security forces.
Paet also recalls his conversation with a doctor who treated those shot by snipers in Kiev. She says protesters and police were shot at by the same people.
“And second, what was quite disturbing, this same Olga [Bogomolets] also says that all the evidence shows that people were killed by snipers from both sides, policemen and then people from the streets, that it was the same snipers killing people from both sides,” the Estonian FM stresses on tape.
Ashton reacts to that by saying: “Well, yeah… that’s, that’s terrible.”
“She then showed me some photos. She said that as a medical doctor she can say that it is the same handwriting, the same type of bullets, and it’s really disturbing that now the new coalition, don’t want to investigate what exactly happened,” Paet says.
The file was reportedly uploaded to the web by officers of the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) loyal to ousted President Viktor Yanukovich, who hacked Paet’s and Ashton’s phones.
94 people were killed and another 900 injured in the standoff between police and protesters at Maidan Square in Kiev last month.
Int'l community calls for unity, peaceful solution to Ukraine crisis says China's Xinhua news agency
The international community calls for unity and a peaceful solution to the Ukraine crisis amid simmering tensions in Crimea, says a lead article in Xinhua.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stresses the need to urgently de-escalate the current tension in Ukraine and facilitate dialogue for a peaceful resolution, it reports.
Both Ban and the German Foreign Minister, Frank- Walter Steinmeier, agree all diplomatic channels must be explored more actively, as the situation in Ukraine remains volatile.
UN Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson also stresses the crucial need for a diplomatic solution to the crisis.
All wish for Ukraine's territorial integrity to be respected and preserved.
In response to escalating tensions in Crimea, Russian President Vladimir Putin says that only the Crimeans themselves can decide their own future, and Russia will provide the Crimean authorities with financial aid.
Asked by reporters whether he is concerned about the fact that sending Russian troops to Ukraine might trigger a war, Putin says Moscow will not go to war with the Ukrainian people.
"We have no enemies there. Ukraine is a friendly country, including those from western Ukraine. They are all brothers of ours," he says.
"If we see that lawlessness starts in eastern regions, we reserve the right to use all means to protect these people," Putin says, stressing that it would be a last resort.
He accuses Western countries of turning the political life of Ukraine into farce. "Western instructors did their job well. We saw well- trained armed groups there (in Kiev). Every- thing was well organized," he says.
In a phone talk with Putin, China's President Xi Jinping calls the situation in Ukraine highly complicated and sensitive, and adds that Beijing believes Moscow can coordinate with other parties to push for a political settlement of the issue, so as to safeguard regional peace and world peace and stability.
China supports the proposals and mediation efforts of the international community that are conducive to the reduction of tension, Xi adds.
Western countries also express their support for all constructive efforts to reach a peaceful solution to the current Ukraine crisis.
NATO says it welcomes the ongoing efforts undertaken by the UN and the EU, and will continue to consult with Ukraine within the NATO-Ukraine Commission.
US President Barack Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel both agree on de-escalating the situation in Ukraine, and have discussed potential solutions to the crisis in a 'phone conversation, Xinhua reports/suggests.
Obama says there is room for Ukraine to be a friend with both the West and Russia.
French President Francois Hollande says his country and its European partners will "apply all necessary pressure, including sanctions" to seek a political solution to the Ukraine crisis.
In order to de-escalate tensions between Russia and Ukraine, members of the Ukrainian cabinet have started consultations with their Russian counterparts, Ukraine's temporary Prime Minister, Yatsenyuk says.
"Consultations on a ministerial level between Ukraine and Russia have started. 'Though the negotiation process runs quite sluggishly, the first steps have been taken," Yatsenyuk tells a press conference.
Russian President Vladimir Putin calls events in Ukraine a coup, and argues that the use of force is Russia's last resort in solving the ongoing crisis.
The self-proclaimed acting PM of Ukraine, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, says he has already committed Ukraine to all IMF demands.
At a meeting with representatives of the European Business Society, Yatsenyuk tells his audience that, on Sunday, he promised the IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde, by telephone.
"I can assure you that this government will meet all IMF terms, Yatsenyuk told the meeting, reports Segodnya journal.
He refused to give more details, saying that an IMF delegation is scheduled to arrive in Kiev tomorrow.
A 15-billion USD IMF rescue package is expected by Ukraine.
PRESIDENT OF UKRAINE HAS REQUESTED RUSSIAN TROOPS
Russian authorities have received an appeal from Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich, with a request to use the Russian Federation armed forces, to restore constitutional rule, the RF's Permanent Representative to the UN, Vitaly Churkin, says at an open meeting of the UN Security Council, on Monday.
“The Russian president has received the following appeal from Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich,” he said, quoting a letter in which the Ukrainian leader states that “events in the Maidan, the illegal seizure of power in Kiev, have put Ukraine on the threshold of a civil war.”
“In this connection I turn to Russian President Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin, with a request to use the armed forces of the Russian Federation in the restoration of the rule of law, peace, law and order, stability and for the protection of the population of Ukraine,” Churkin read from the letter, dated March 1st.
He showed UN Security Council members a photocopy of Yanukovich’s original appeal.
He says Russia’s actions in Ukraine, are “fully adequate and legitimate".
ALL NEWS REPORTS SUSPECT
Early reports Wednesday said Moscow had put an ultimatum to the crews of 2 Ukrainian warships to surrender immediately and that four Russian ships had "surrounded" the Ukrainian ships in Sevastopol’s harbour.
A representative of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet says now that those claims were unfounded.
“We've become accustomed to daily accusations by the Ukrainian media of carrying out some sort of military act against our Ukrainian colleagues. Those who want to pit us against each other in the Crimea, won’t succeed.”
Russia's Black Sea Fleet also says it has no plans to launch an attack on Ukraine's military units in Crimea.
According to earlier reports, Russian military vessels blocked the exit from Sevastopol Bay... "for hours".
Ukrainian special forces refuse to fight against Ukrainians in Crimea
Ukrainian special forces yesterday refused to obey an order from the Kiev authorities to advance in the Crimean isthmus, on the autonomous republic's self-defense units.
The soldiers say that they did not, and do not, understand who to fight on the peninsula, ITAR-TASS says, quoting one of the commandos.
As the commando says, his comrades have relatives in the Crimea, and he often holidays in Evpatoria resort, so many simply did not understand, for whom and against whom, they were to fight.
This is not the first time the Ukrainian military has disobeyed the Kiev regime.
The Chief of the Naval Forces of Ukraine, Berezovsky, has sworn loyalty to Crimea.
ARMED UNITS STILL REIGN IN KIEV
"Fatherland" lawmaker Gennady Moskal to an RBC-Ukraine reporter Wednesday:
"More and more units are arriving in Kiev. They are looting, stealing cars from the residence of Yanukovich, destroying property and breaking into apartments.
"I do not support these people and do not treat them with respect, but we should not turn Maidan into a gang, steal art and alcohol, or shoot."
"How can one unit have 10 machine guns and 20 shotguns?" he asks.
Can recent decisions by the Verkhovna Rada, be considered legitimate, if the government is "protected" by Maidan "self-defense" units? Residents of the government quarter, and regional and Communist representatives, are all hostages of the armed units.
Rada meetings are broadcast and displayed on a large screen, and exits from parliament are "guarded" by Maidan self-defense units.
The opposition trinity (Yatsenuk - Klitschko - Tyahnibok) are also held hostage by them, not to mention the completely defenseless civilian population.
China urges political solution
A Chinese spokesperson urges all sides in the Ukraine crisis to follow international law and to seek a political solution to their disputes through dialogue and negotiations.
"China is deeply concerned with the current Ukraine situation," Qin Gang, Foreign Ministry spokesperson says.
Condemning the recent violence in Ukraine, Qin says China urges all parties in Ukraine to address their domestic disputes peacefully and lawfully, safeguarding the rights of Ukrainian people of all ethnicities, and quickly restoring social order.
Qin says China always sticks to the principle of non-interference in any country's internal affairs & respects the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine.
"There have been reasons for today's situation in Ukraine," the Ministry spokesperson adds obliquely.
China will closely watch the development of the situation in Ukraine, and calls on all relevant sides to respect international law and pursue a political solution to disputes through dialogue and negotiations so as to safeguard peace and stability in the region, Qin says.
FRENCH "EMPIRE" BANS PROTEST
French activists have condemned the government ban on a planned rally against French colonialism and racism.
The activists were not permitted to hold their annual march in Paris after it was banned by the interior minister.
“Even with Chirac and his France-Africa summits, even under Sarkozy, never ever did they prevent people demonstrating at Republic Square.
There's a real problem for democracy with this government,” one of the demonstrators says.
A huge police force prevented demonstrators from taking to the streets of the capital for their annual anti-colonial march.
“It’s political colonialism. They are playing political games. We are "independent". But there is no real independence, because we cannot decide anything about our fate, and that means that we are still colonized,” another protester says.
The decision to ban the event was made by French Interior Minister Manuel Valls.
The protesters condemn French military intervention in Mali and the CAR and call on French troops to withdraw from Africa.
A female demonstrator says:
“In France, there is still a current that never accepts the reality;- that the French empire doesn’t exist anymore.
"France remains the second maritime empire thanks to its colonies. What is actually happening in Africa is pure new colonialism.”
COUP HOLD WEAKENING
Ukrainian armed forces dispatched to Crimea have started resigning on a massive scale, Russian news agencies report on Sunday.
Living quarters, weapons and ammunition have all been left under the protection of the so-called ‘self-defense forces.’
Letters of resignation have been coming in since Sunday morning, as the self-defense forces continue to keep order on the streets of Simferopol, RIA Novosti says.
Crimea’s deputy prime minister, Rustam Temirgaliev, announces that the Ukraine armed forces have all but surrendered their military capabilities & no active units remain.
"The entire Ukrainian armed forces stationed on Crimean territory have been blocked – a number have been disarmed, while another big portion is switching to the Crimean side," Interfax reports him as saying.
"The self-defense forces have taken control of the landing strips of all Crimean airports and airfields," Temirgaliev adds.
The deputy PM says the region’s security services and emergency services now report to the local government, while self-defense forces control all runways at Crimea’s airports and airfields.
The local government, Temirgaliev says, promises the Tatar minority a place in Crimea’s Supreme Council, and adds that funding for resettlement programs and the reintegration of those deported during the Stalin era, will be generous.
Crimean Tatars have been supporting the self-proclaimed authorities in Kiev.
COUP LEGITIMACY QUESTIONABLE
The self-imposed president of Ukraine, Aleksandr Turchinov, will be considered a “war criminal” if he uses military force on the south-east of Ukraine's people, Russia’s lower house Speaker, Sergey Naryshkin, reportedly warns.
Naryshkin held a 'phone conversation with Aleksandr Turchinov of Batkivshchyna party, who leads the self-proclaimed regime in Kiev.
During the conversation, Naryshkin warned Turchinov repeatedly against deploying force against Ukrainians resisting Kiev, a source tells RIA Novosti.
The Ukrainian side has stated that it has "no plans" to use force against citizens.
Turchinov has ordered a full mobilization of Ukraine’s armed forces and ordered boosted security at nuclear power plants, airports and other sites, citing the threat of “potential aggression” from Russia.
Political commentator Aleksandr Nekrasov:
“Ever since they seized power in Kiev, I think they have got more desperate by the day, because they have suddenly realized that they are not getting the money they hoped to get at once,” Nekrasov tells RT.
“And this desperation shows in the fact that they have repeated all those warnings about Russian invasion, Russian aggression and so on and so forth, and now we see they are desperate enough to make provocative statements that the danger of war is rising.”
The crisis in Ukraine escalated after a putsch forced President Viktor Yanukovich to leave the capital.
One of the first acts of the self-proclaimed government, abolished the use of all other languages in official life in Ukraine.
This sparked a wave of mass protests in Eastern Ukraine, where a majority speak Russian.
Feeling threatened by a new government of questionable legitimacy, a number of regions are standing against the regime.
Thousands of people across eastern and southern Ukraine are flooding the streets of major cities, carrying Russian flags and urging local authorities to disobey Kiev.
Local populations are calling the regime in Kiev illegitimate, and demanding that their officials refuse to obey it.
The City Council in the eastern city of Donetsk is refusing to recognize Ukraine’s self-imposed government and has called for a referendum on the region’s status.
“Until all the legitimacy of the new laws approved by Verkhovna Rada is clarified, the City Council takes full responsibility for its territories,” says the Council.
Donetsk is the capital of the coal-rich Donbass region in eastern Ukraine.
Beside Donetsk, a major economic, industrial & scientific centre, Donbass includes the regions of Lughansk and Dnepropetrovsk.
The Council calls on the local parliament to set a referendum date immediately, to “protect the citizens from possible violent acts on behalf of radicalized nationalistic forces,” the council statement says.
Members of the city council have voted to set up their own self-defense squads.
Russian has been re-introduced as an official language, along with Ukrainian.
The Donetsk authorities stress that they consider Russia as their strategic partner.
Eastern Ukraine and Crimea are now seeing massive pro-Russian demonstrations against the new self-proclaimed central government, with many government buildings topped by Russian flags.
Russia, too, voices doubts over the legitimacy of the self-proclaimed government, citing the procedural violations the Ukrainian parliament committed in ousting Yanukovich, appointing a new cabinet & taking control of the judiciary.
Moscow is also concerned over reports that some MPs were forced to change their votes under threats of physical violence.
Moscow on Saturday referred the issue to the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe, an advisory body with expertise in constitutional law.
A request to monitor the legitimacy of actions in Kiev has also been sent to the Interparliamentary Assembly of the Commonwealth of Independent States, which brings together MPs from most former republics of the Soviet Union.
3 OPTIONS ON UKRAINE
Read this article to discover what the choices are here:
VENEZUELA CALLS FOR UNITY TO DEFEAT US-BACKED COUP
Just as in Ukraine, Venezuela faces neo-fascist violence on the streets as opposition there tries to ignore elected leaders.
Venezuela is calling on the new organisations of Latin American states to help keep the peace.
Calls in Kiev to go nuclear
Unable to resolve tensions with a largely pro-Russian autonomous Crimea region, the pro-Western self-appointed regime in Kiev is using accusations and threats.
Some politicians are threatening now ...to renew Ukraine’s nuclear arsenal.
An ultra-right “Svoboda” representative in the Ukrainian parliament warns that, if Russia doesn’t tread carefully, it will be dealing with a nuclear power.
"We’ll regain our status as a nuclear power and that’ll change the conversation. Ukraine has all the technological means needed to create a nuclear arsenal – which would take us about 3 to 6 months,” Svoboda party MP, Mikhail Golovko, says.
The threat to break the international nuclear non-proliferation treaty Ukraine signed in 1994, is not new for Svoboda, a driving force behind Maidan's uprising.
Its leader, Oleg Tyagnibok, while he was running for the presidency in 2009, vowed that the country would go nuclear.
After the collapse of the Soviet Union, former republics Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan agreed to either dispose of or send to Russia any nuclear arsenals held while they were part of the USSR.
In 1994 a trilateral agreement was signed by the United States, Russia and Ukraine, stipulating Kiev’s nuclear disarmament.
In 1996 Ukraine officially lost its nuclear status, and had no stockpile left at all.
But the country still draws almost half of its energy from atomic power, and has Europe's largest nuclear power plant.
While the uranium Ukraine gets from Russia for its reactors is low-enriched, reactor waste is enough to make a so-called dirty bomb.
The country possesses manpower and the know-how to do that, as well as delivery vehicles for a nuclear payload, which don’t have to be too sophisticated.
Political and economic analyst Martin Seiff from The Globalist news website:
“These threats are probably extreme, irresponsible bluff, but it’s very alarming to hear them being made in the first place.
“The new government which has now emerged in Kiev, and other figures, like this opposition MP, need to act in a responsible manner to earn the deserved respect, trust & cooperation of the international community."
"That comment is disastrously counter- productive and should be seen as such.”
US geopolitical analyst Eric Draitser:
“The money we can’t use to feed the poor and hungry in the US and Europe - that money is going to support Nazis in Ukraine with nuclear ambitions, who are looking to destabilize the region, and whose sole goal is the destruction of Russia,” Draitser says.
So far, Washington has been hard on those it suspects of a nuclear build-up...
It will be curious to see how it reacts if the idea of restocking its nuclear arsenal gains popularity now in Kiev.
PUTIN GETS 'YES' FOR TROOPS
Russian President Vladimir Putin's request for approval of the Upper House of parliament (Federation Council) to “use Russian Armed Forces on the territory of Ukraine to normalize the socio-political situation in the country”, has been approved Itar-Tass reports.
Ukraine’s self-appointed president, Aleksandr Turchinov has appointed Rear Admiral Denis Berezovsky as a new Navy Chief, according to an order published Sunday. Reportedly, the previous Navy commander resigned last Friday.
Ukraine's self-proclaimed president has also signed a decree now, declaring that the appointment of a pro-Russia premier in the Crimea region, is "illegal".
Russian flags are being raised across Eastern and Southern Ukraine.
Ukraine’s border service is taking “urgent steps” to prevent the “seizure” of its sea watch base and ships located in Sevastopol, Itar-Tass reports, citing the service’s press office.
“All the ships are going to sea ready for action,” it says. The alert signal came after several armed people were seen not far from the base.
Thousands of protesters in Kharkov against the self-proclaimed Kiev authorities, are beseiging regional governor's headquarters and some have broken in to raise Russia's flag.
Russia’s State Duma (parliament) Council says legitimate and democratic elections are impossible in Ukraine, now that a significant part of the country has seen “violence, the persecution of dissidents and even political parties being banned,” RIA Novosti reports.
“Militants who have undergone special training, including one in camps outside Ukraine, and other radical forces, who illegitimately seized power, have been imposing their will on eastern and south- eastern regions, where a large part of the Russian-speaking population lives, who do not share the views of an aggressive radical minority.
The human rights of Ukrainian citizens have been violated, including their right to speak their native language and be educated in it,” the Duma Council statement reads.
Unknown armed men from Kiev tried to take Crimea's Interior Ministry overnight, and several were injured in the attack, Russia’s Foreign Ministry says Sunday.
“Thanks to the decisive action of self- defense squads, an attempt to seize the Interior Ministry building was stopped."
"This attempt confirms the intention of prominent political circles in Kiev, to destabilize the situation on the peninsula,” the statement adds.
"We believe it is extremely irresponsible to further pressure the already tense situation in the Crimea," the ministry statement says.
Earlier, Crimea's PM Sergey Aksyonov declared that firearms have been used in clashes in the region, Itar-Tass news agency reports.
Crimean leader Sergey Aksenov has called on President Vladimir Putin to help guarantee peace in the Crimea.
"Taking into account my responsibility for the life and security of citizens, I ask Russian President Vladimir Putin to help ensure peace and calm on the territory of Crimea,"Aksenov stated. Russia says it will not ignore the request:
“Russia will not leave this request without attention,” a source in the Kremlin is quoted saying Sunday.
Aksenov, the Russian Unity Party leader appointed prime minister of Crimea by local lawmakers, also stresses that powerful institutions, such as the armed forces, the police, the national security service and border guards, should answer only to his orders and all commanders should obey his instructions.
The new Ukrainian central government ordered the replacement of heads of Crimea's police department on Friday, but Aksenov says this opposes an agreement with Crimea's parliament, under which the central government has no right to appoint the directors of Crimea's powerful agencies.
The Russian parliament is not ruling out ‘limited’ troops in Crimea to ensure safety
The Russian government has been very careful in its assessment of the new self- proclaimed Ukrainian government in Kiev.
Matvienko says the reason for that, was that Russia was counting on its Western partners, who had vowed to guarantee the February 21st agreement with the Ukraine President, Viktor Yanukovich, and the opposition.
“Russia didn't interfere in the situation in Ukraine for a very long time and showed restraint, assuming that the Western states, who became backers of the agreements, would see strict compliance with the deal observed,” she says.
However, after “violent upheaval” took place in Ukraine, the Western states did not come up with “any reasonable measures or responses,” she says.
Russia, in contrast, for a very long time, has urged the situation to be resolved by lawful means, and called for the anti- coup sentiments in Crimea and eastern Ukraine to be heard, she says.
MPs of Crimea's parliament, the Supreme Council, tell journalists they have been receiving threats from anonymous calls, reports Itar-Tass.
“Yesterday I had 70 calls from unknown numbers, and over 100 text messages with threats to physically harm me and my family,” says the Party of Regions deputy, Konstantin Bakharev on Sunday.
Another MP for the party, Olga Kovitidi, says someone phoned her and said she would be shot.
Ukraine's Elected President Viktor Yanukovich pledges to fight for Ukraine.
He has addressed a press conference in southern Russia, appearing in public for the first time since he fled Kiev's riots.
“No one ousted me,” Yanukovich tells the reporters. “I had to leave Ukraine because of a direct threat to my life and the lives of my family.”
According to Yanukovich, “nationalist fascist-like fellows who represent an absolute minority of Ukrainians” have taken power in Ukraine.
He describes the situation in Ukraine as “total lawlessness,” “terror” & "chaos", saying that politicians, including MPs, have been threatened and are now working under threats.
It has nothing to do with any unity government negotiated with the opposition, he says.
The violence and deaths in Ukraine are the “result of the irresponsible politics of the West, which have encouraged Maidan,” Yanukovich stresses.
US and other Western countries’ representatives “must take full responsibility” for the fact that agreement between Yanukovich and the opposition did not hold, the ousted president stresses.
The West's “patronage” of Maidan makes them directly responsible for the situation in Ukraine, he claims.
The current Ukrainian parliament is “not legitimate,” and the people in power are spreading the propaganda of violence, Yanukovich asserts.
When asked if he feels ashamed of his actions, Yanukovich replies that he feels ashamed and sorry for “not being able to stabilize the situation and stop the mayhem” in Ukraine.
“I want to apologize to the Ukrainian people for what has happened in Ukraine and that I lacked the strength to maintain stability.”
Yanukovich also apologizes to the Ukrainian riot police, Berkut, for having to “suffer” while doing their duty of maintaining peace and order.
Police officers had to stand their ground while rioters set them on fire with petrol bombs, he reminds people.
Yanukovich stresses that he did not give any order for police to shoot live fire until rioters started using firearms, putting the officers’ lives under threat.
According to Yanukovich, the early Ukrainian elections announced for May 25 are “illegitimate” and he will not take part in them.
However, he says he will “remain in politics.”
Crimea must remain a part of Ukraine while maintaining a broad autonomy, Yanukovich stresses.
He rules out any possibility that he will ask Russia for military help to resolve the situation there.
Yanukovich says he understands the concerns of Crimeans, who want to “protect their homes and families” from “extremists.”
When asked why he chose to leave Ukraine for Rostov-on-Don, Yanukovich says he has “an old friend there,” who can provide him with a “temporary safe haven.”
Yanukovich made it to Russia thanks to “patriotically-minded officers,” who helped to “save his life.”
He has not met Russian President Vladimir Putin, but they've already talked over the 'phone.
Yanukovich answered a lot of questions put by reporters on Russia’s role and possible actions in the Ukrainian crisis.
While saying “it is not correct” to tell Moscow what to do, Yanukovich says he believes “Russia cannot abandon Ukraine to its fate and should use all possible means to prevent chaos and terror in its neighboring country.”
Yanukovich says he is “categorically against any intervention into Ukraine and breach of its territorial integrity.”
There remains, however, a chance for the country to change its course and not slip into chaos, Yanukovich says.
He says he will return to Ukraine as soon as he has “international safety guarantees.”
The ousted president refused to comment on the coup parliament’s intention to try him in the International Criminal Court, saying that an independent investigation has to be carried out first.
However, he stresses that “the scenario of bloodshed, was not drafted in Ukraine.”
“The truth will prevail,” Yanukovich says in an emotional conclusion to his comments to journalists, urging the politicians who have seized power in Kiev to “leave” for the sake of the Ukrainian people.
Ukrainian PM Praises IMF, and Threatens Crimea.
The temporary Prime Minister of Ukraine, Arseni Yatseniuk, says that a financial improvement in Ukraine "is coming", thanks to the International Monetary Fund and then threatens Crimea over its autonomy claims.
Appointed in a unicameral Parliament guarded by ultra-nationalists who seized it by force to topple President Viktor Yanokovich, Yatseniuk admits that his Cabinet will be unpopular, as it implements the cuts demanded by the IMF.
These include a 40% increase in gas prices, ending support to farmers, a devaluation of the national currency, the hrivnya, and other social cuts, as condemned in November by the elected PM, Nikholai Azarov, who left office recently, after threats to his family.
However, his replacement insists that the country's financial situation, which he says is "on the brink of bankruptcy", will be fine "when the IMF money comes."
On the call to hold a referendum on greater autonomy by the autonomous Parliament of Crimea, the leader of the anti-government subversion in Kiev quotes current legislation.
"Ukraine will use all legal and constitutional methods to preserve the State's territorial integrity", he warns the Russian speaking population, who don't recognize the regime imposed in Kiev after its lack of compliance with the truce agreements of Feb. 21st.
Yatseniuk, leader of the Bratkivschina party, flatly says that Crimea was, is and will be, part of Ukraine.
He urges Russia not to support those people he describes as separatists, or the toppled Yanukovich and other high ranking officials of his administration, against whom the Ukrainian Attorney General's Office has opened criminal processes and now lists them as wanted people.
Volunteer Guards in Crimea have secured two airports against any attack by neo-nazis or nationalists.
“According to the underlying principles of democracy, the presidium of the Crimean parliament considers the only possible way out of the situation on the ground, is to apply the principles of direct rule of the people."
"We are confident that only by holding an All-Crimea referendum on the issue of improving the status of Autonomy and expanding its powers, Crimeans will be able to determine the future of the Autonomy on their own and without external pressure,” Oksana Korniychuk, press secretary of the head of parliament says in a statement last Thursday.
As a result of “the unconstitutional seizure of power in Ukraine by radical nationalists supported by armed gangs,” Crimea’s peace and order is “under threat,” the spokes- person stresses.
Wednesday's clashes near parliament in Simferopol, which led to two deaths and about 30 injuries were “a result of rampant political extremism and violence gripping the country,” which could bring Ukraine to “complete chaos, anarchy and economic catastrophe,” she said.
The Autonomy’s parliament thus takes “full responsibility for the future of Crimea,” relying on the will of its people, she says.
The group of people barricaded inside the building of the Crimean parliament allowed MPs to enter, including the speaker of the parliament, Vladimir Konstantinov. The MPs have now held their session, as planned.
Ethnic Crimean Tatars clashed near parliament last Wednesday to stop it taking a vote.
Crimea’s Russian majority has been hoping to hold a regional referendum ever since 1991, when it was refused the right to take such a step.
Before the Soviet Union eventually split, 93.26% of Crimeans voted in favour of establishing a ‘Crimean Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic’.
The people, however, were never allowed to decide which country the autonomous region should be with: Ukraine or Russia.
CRIMEA PARLIAMENT TAKEN
Armed men have occupied the regional government buildings AND parliament, of Ukraine’s Crimea territory & Russian armed forces are on high alert.
Dozens of gunmen seized the buildings in Simferopol, the Autonomous Republic’s administrative centre last Thursday, and flew Russian flags over a government HQ.
The buildings’ guards were also reportedly removed from the premises peacefully.
Crimean PM Anatoliy Mohilyov, confirmed that up to 50 men with weapons occupied government buildings early last Thursday.
Seizure of the headquarters came one day after clashes between pro- Russian demonstrators & backers of Ukraine's new regime in Simferopol, when a man died of a heart attack and dozens were injured outside the Crimean Parliament the day before.
EU PARLIAMENT CALLS FOR TOLERANCE AFTER COUP...
The unelected "leaders" of the EU, the Commission, may be 100% for the coup leaders' acts, but not the European Parliament, which calls on Ukraine’s interim government to protect the Russian-speakers' right to use their language.
“All Ukrainian and international, political forces must work together to ensure a united Ukraine, taking into account linguistic, cultural & historical factors,” says the parliamentary statement.
Viktor Yanukovich still considers himself the legitimate leader of Ukraine & warns against internal military conflict.
He has asked Russia to ensure his safety against the actions of the extremists who have taken power in Ukraine.
LAVROV: DROP SUPPORT FOR NEO-NAZIS
Russia's top diplomat, Lavrov, urges the OSCE to condemn the "nationalist and neo-fascist" sentiment in the Western part of Ukraine.
“Lavrov calls on the OSCE to condemn calls to ban the Russian language, to turn the Russian-speaking population into 'non-citizens' and to restrict freedom of expression," the statement adds.
The Russian foreign ministry also announces that Moscow will give a tough response to any country's violation of its citizens’ rights.
Moscow warns of calls to “nearly ban” the Russian language, eliminate parties and organizations, close media outlets, and lift curbs on neo-Nazi propaganda, saying such moves pose a threat to peace and society's security.
China's People's Daily says that the West is locked into a cold war mentality that supports any enemy of "unco-operative" states.
Scuffles as pro- and anti-Russian crowds protest in Ukraine's Crimea
Thousands of pro and anti-Russian rival demonstrators rallied in front of the Crimea parliament building in Simferpol, capital of Ukraine's autonomous Crimea region, last Thursday. Scuffles sometimes broke out between the face-to-face sides.
The rival groups were protesting for and against new national authorities in Kiev.
Some proclaimed that Crimea will not obey Kiev, while the local Muslim community of Crimean Tatars expressed support for the new Ukrainian authorities.
Two separate rallies, consisting of several thousands of protesters, faced each other.
Russians shouted “Russia-Russia!” and “Berkut!”, the name of the special police task force disbanded on Tuesday by the Ukrainian authorities now in control of Kiev, who blame them for their "heavy-handed" policing of activists in central Kiev.
The Muslim community protesters shouted “Ukraine-Ukraine!” & “Crimea is not Russia!”
Pro-Russian demonstrators held Russian flags, while Tatars held Ukrainian flags & flags of their nationalist organizations.
Video footage from the scene appeared to show both sides preparing for a clash.
The police officers who temporarily left the scene, later returned to the square and attempted to separate the sides.
The police were unarmed except for rubber batons.
The Tatar community has spoken out sharply against holding a parliamentary session on changing Crimea's status.
Russians rallying demand that the Crimea autonomous region declare independence and ask for assistance from Russia.
The Tatars of the Crimea peninsula, united by their national party Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People, together with local supporters of the new Ukrainian authorities, declare that they "will not allow" the autonomous region to break away.
“We warn them not to arrange a session. 'Do not explode the situation in Crimea.' We know they need that session to tear Crimea away from Ukraine,” said leader of the Mejlis party, Refat Chubarov.
“We warn that Crimea Tatars will not allow this to happen. Tatars will not allow the fate of this land to be decided without them.”
The protesters demand a public referendum to decide whether Crimea should retain its current status as an autonomous region in Ukraine, or become independent, or be part of Russia again (Crimea was part of Russia until 1954).
Demonstrators from Russian-dominated Sevastopol, the largest city in Crimea, are still arriving at the region’s capital Simferopol, in the centre of the Crimea peninsula, to support the thousands of Russian nationals rallying against the new authorities in Kiev.
Crimeans started protesting last week outside the regional parliament building in Simferopol, urging local MPs not to support Kiev’s new government.
Demonstrators want the autonomous region to return to the constitution of 1992, under which Crimea had its own president and independent foreign policy.
In the meantime, vigilante groups are being formed in Crimea’s largest city of Sevastopol.
About 3,500 people have already joined the groups, their leader Yury Pankov tells Itar-Tass news agency.
The vigilantes plan to patrol the streets along with police to prevent violence.
“In fact, we are creating classical Voluntary People's Guards,” Pankov says.
The authorities in Sevastopol have refused to comply with an order by the new interior minister, Arsen Avakov, to disband a detachment of the Berkut special police task force.
The Berkut task force, abolished nationwide this week by the new Ukrainian authorities, was formed 20 years ago, and consisted of 4,000 officers throughout Ukraine.
The head of the city government, Aleksey Chaly, has called for all Berkut officers to come & live in Sevastopol with their families.
ZIONISM BEING SLOWLY SQUEEZED
Luxembourg’s general pension fund has decided to boycott major Israeli banks in response to Tel Aviv’s contravention of international law and its violation of human rights.
Reports say the fund has announced that it will boycott five major Israeli banks and a number of Israeli investment companies over their involvement in settlement construction plans.
The fund also says that these banks and organizations are being banned because they support and finance Tel Aviv’s illegal constructions on Palestinian land.
Israel faces a widening boycott campaign by some European businesses over its illegal settlement activities on occupied Palestinian land.
Europe’s 2 biggest financial institutions have boycotted transactions with Israeli companies involved in settlement building.
The European Union has also blocked all grants and funding to any Israeli entity based in the illegal settlements.
The American Studies Association has also announced a decision to boycott Israeli institutions and academics over discriminatory treatment of Palestinians.
The UN and most countries regard the Israeli settlements as illegal, because the territories were captured by Israel in a war in 1967, and are hence subject to the Geneva Conventions, which forbid construction on occupied lands.
SLOWLY THE GOOD WINS...
South Korea's president says she is setting up a presidential committee to prepare for the reunification of the troubled Korean Peninsula.
In a televised speech marking her first year in office, President Park Geun-hye announces plans to create a blue print for reuniting South Korea with the North.
"I plan to launch a 'committee to prepare for reunification' under presidential control and explore ways for a systemic and constructive direction of reunification," President Park says.
The president says the committee will seek ways to expand dialogue and private-level exchanges with N. Korea.
“It is necessary to prepare for reunification that will open up a new era of the Korean Peninsula, which will lead to a genuine peace," she says.
Both North and South have reunification as a goal, but neither side has specified how they want it to happen.
Millions of Koreans have been separated since the war split the peninsula in 1953.
The South Korean President's remarks come as South and North Korea wrap up the first reunion of separated families in over three years.
Hundreds of South Koreans met with their northern relatives during the 6-day family reunions at Mount Kumgang resort.
The second and last round of the meetings began on Sunday, the day before S. Korea and the US launched joint military drills.
The reunion program began after a North- South summit in 2000, and large numbers of Koreans still wait to see their relatives.
STOP ISRAEL TAKING AL-AQSA MOSQUE
Dozens of Jordanian lawmakers call on the Amman government to revoke the 1994 peace treaty with the Israeli regime in a Knesset debate on Israel's plan to annex al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.
Last night, as many as 47 lawmakers signed a petition, urging the government to freeze the 20-year-old treaty with Israel.
The al-Aqsa Mosque is Islam’s third-holiest site after Mecca and Medina in S. Arabia. Jordan is the custodian of the holy site.
The lawmakers also criticize the government for failing to take a strong stand against Israel.
One of the lawmakers called for the Israeli ambassador to be expelled from Jordan.
The call for a freeze in the so-called peace deal, follows a similar request by Jordan’s opposition, the Islamic Action Front (IAF).
“We urge the government to meet the demands of people who have repeatedly called for a freeze and eventually the peace treaty's cancellation,” says IAF.
The IAF call came after Israeli troops and police raided the al-Aqsa Mosque compound in East al-Quds (Jerusalem) on Tuesday, and forcefully dispersed Palestinian worshipers and protesters.
In recent months, Israeli forces and settlers have stepped up attacks on the mosque. This has led to violent confrontations.
Earlier this month, clashes erupted between Palestinian worshippers and Israeli soldiers at the mosque. The clashes broke out when Israeli forces stormed the holy site during Friday prayers. 20 people, including children, were wounded in the violence.
The Palestinian Authority and Hamas have also warned against Israeli plans to impose its “sovereignty” on the al-Aqsa Mosque.
VENEZUELA NOT UKRAINE
Brazil's President says Venezuela is not Ukraine, and the main difference is that the whole of central and South America understands how the rich oligarchies use their strength to subvert the people's will and interests.
Thousands of government supporters in Venezuela have taken to the streets of the capital Caracas, as anti-government protesters set up barricades and start fires.
On Monday, Venezuela was once again the scene of rival demonstrations as opponents & supporters of the government continued their rallies.
Bikers rode in a convoy to the presidential palace to attend a demonstration in support of President Nicolas Maduro.
Addressing them, Maduro blamed the opposition for bringing in "mercenaries" to fuel the unrest and causing problems for the sick by setting up blockades, prevented them reaching hospitals.
"They have affected the health of thousands of people in the communities they've cut off," he said.
Meanwhile, in other areas of the capital, anti- government protesters barricaded the main roads and set fire to piles of rubbish.
The opposition says Maduro's administration is to blame for the country's high crime rate and economic hardships, claiming his polices have led to both shortages of essential goods and high inflation.
Maduro, who accuses the US of backing the opposition in trying to topple his government, unveiled a new peace initiative on Saturday:
"I am calling on the Venezuelan people to join me on Wednesday, in a national peace conference with all the country's political sectors ... so that we Venezuelans can try to neutralize the violent groups," he said.
He also added that US Secretary of State John Kerry's remarks about the use of "unacceptable" force on protesters by the government, has given violent groups a "green light" to continue their brutal acts.
According to Maduro, the US is backing the unrest in a bid to launch a coup d’état.
Venezuela has witnessed nearly two weeks of anti-government protests that have claimed the lives of 13 people and injured 150 others.
Russia says the Ukrainian parliament seeks to pass laws that will infringe upon rights of ethnic Russians and other ethnic minorities.
The Russian Foreign Ministry says Moscow is suspicious about recent decisions taken by Ukraine's parliament on ethnicity.
Moscow warns over calls to “nearly ban” the Russian language, eliminate parties and organizations, close media outlets, and lift curbs on neo-Nazi propaganda, saying such moves pose a threat to peace and social security.
The statement also accused Ukraine’s new leaders of launching a “dictatorial” campaign against Russian speakers.
Mikhail Dobkin, governor of the eastern region that includes Kharkiv, where many Ukrainians speak Russian as their first language, also denounces the decision to downgrade the status of Russian as an official second language as “fascist.”
According to some sources, the head of the Freedom Party, Oleg Tyagnibok, has recently told his supporters in Kiev that the use of Russian language should be criminalized and all ethnic Russians should be stripped of citizenship.
Russia calls US/EU coup support “aberration of consciousness”.
Russia questions the legitimacy of Ukraine’s new government, saying that the current authorities have come to power as a result of an "armed mutiny."
“The legitimacy of a whole number of organs of power that function there raises great doubts," local news agencies quote Russian PM Dmitry Medvedev as saying.
The Russian premier denounces the decision by Western countries to accept the new Ukrainian regime as an “aberration of consciousness”.
He also notes that Moscow is unable to accept the current leaders in the Eastern European country as a partner for talks.
“If you consider Kalashnikov-toting people in black masks who are roaming Kiev to be the government, then it will be hard for us to work with that government,” Medvedev adds.
He says Moscow-Kiev relations will be resumed once Russia sees a “normal, modern government, based on the laws and constitution of Ukraine.”
Russia recalled its ambassador to Ukraine last Sunday, to discuss the "deteriorating situation" in Kiev.
Russia’s Economy Minister warns now - if Kiev signs partnership agreements with the European Union - Moscow will raise import duties on goods.
Egypt's army-backed government has resigned, Reuters reports.
"The cabinet decided to submit its resignation to Adly Mansour, the interim president," a statement says.
An unnamed source says the decision was made at a 15-minute cabinet meeting.
Army chief Field Marshal Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, expected to run for president, was defense minister in the cabinet.
MORSI ACCUSED OF BETRAYAL
The trial of the elected president deposed by army coup after civilian mass protests continues, and President Morsi is being accused now of giving away all Egypt's defence secrets, to Palestinians and Iran.
Ugandan President Museveni signs bill to stop Western paedophiles.
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni today signs a bill with harsh penalties for predatory homosexual acts, says AP.
The new law calls for first-time offenders to be sentenced to 14 years in jail and sets life imprisonment as the maximum penalty for a category of offenses named “aggravated homosexuality.”
International rights groups condemn it -- but it's widely popular in Uganda.
The legislation is necessary because “arrogant and careless Western groups” have tried to “recruit Ugandan children into homosexuality", says the president.
UKRAINE COUP CONTINUES...
Ukraine’s acting Interior Minister says police have issued an arrest warrant for the President, Viktor Yanukovych, accusing him of the “mass murder” of peaceful protesters.
Arsen Avakov, a close ally of Tymoshenko, recently released from prison, says on a Facebook page, that a number of other officials are also now on a wanted list.
“An official case for the mass murder of peaceful citizens has been opened,” says Avakov adding, “Yanukovych and other people responsible for this (sic), have also been declared 'wanted'.”
On February 23rd, the Ukrainian parliament ousted Yanukovych and named Oleksandr Turchynov, the legislature’s newly-elected speaker, as interim president.
On the same day, jailed opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko was released and held a speech in which she promised supporters that the country would soon join the EU.
The Party of Regions' faction in Ukraine's parliament is now in opposition to the current authorities of Ukraine, the party’s leader in the Rada, Aleksandr Yefremov, has announced.
“Considering the fact that you took over and, as we see, you have the capability to form a government & rebuild authority, we have decided to be in the opposition,” he tells all party and committee heads.
Viktor Yanukovich's once-majority Party of Regions suffered a mass exodus of MPs, over just a few days.
At least 77 parliamentarians resigned from the party's ranks, thinning them down to some 130 MPs.
Earlier, the Ukrainian Communist Party, main ally of the Party of the Regions in the Rada, announced that it too, is now part of the opposition.
Paul Craig Roberts, former US' Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy, argues that Ukraine is now in the grip of a fascist coup, saying:
"In western Ukraine the only organized and armed force is the ultra-nationalist Right Sector."
"From the way this group’s leaders speak, they assume that they are in charge. One leader, Aleksandr Muzychko, has pledged to fight “Jews and Russians until I die.”
Asserting the Right Sector’s authority, Muzychko declares that, now that the democratically elected government has been overthrown, “there will be order and discipline” or “Right Sector squads will shoot the bastards on the spot.”
'The bastards' are any protesters who dare to protest the Right Sector’s control.
Muzychko declares, “The next president of Ukraine will be from Right Sector.”
Another Right Sector leader, Dmitry Yarosh, says that “Right Sector will not lay down its arms.”
He declares the deal made between the opposition and the President to be “unacceptable” and he demands the liquidation of President Yanukovich’s political party.
The Right Sector’s roots go back to the Ukrainians who fought for Adolf Hitler against the Soviet Union in WWll.
It was Right Sector that introduced armed fighters and turned the tide of protests in Kiev from peaceful protests in favor of joining the EU, to violent attacks on police, with the main view of overthrowing the democratically elected government - which Right Sector has now done.
Right Sector didn't overthrow Ukraine's government, in order to deliver it into the hands of US & EU paid “opposition.”
There's a tendency to discount Right Sector as a small fringe group, but Right Sector not only took control of protests away from West-supported moderates, as moderate leaders themselves admit, but also, Right Sector has enough public support to destroy the national monument to Red Army soldiers, who died liberating Ukraine from Nazi Germany.
If Right Sector hates Russians for defeating the Nazis, Right Sector also hates the US, France, and the UK, for the same reasons.
Right Sector, is an unlikely political party to take Ukraine into the EU, says Roberts.
The Russian parts of Ukraine now clearly understand that Right Sector’s destruction of the monument commemorating the stand of the Red Army against German troops, is a threat to the Russian population of Ukraine.
Provincial governments in eastern and southern Ukraine that were formerly part of Russia, are organizing militias against the ultra-nationalist threat unleashed by Washington’s stupidity and incompetence, and by the naive and gullible Kiev protesters.
Having interfered in Ukraine’s internal affairs and lost control, the US is now issuing ultimatums to Russia to not "interfere".
Does the idiot Susan Rice, Obama’s neo- conservative National Security Advisor, think Putin is going to pay any attention to her ultimatums, or to any instruction from a government so militarily incompetent that it was unable to successfully occupy Baghdad after 8 years, or to defeat a few thousand lightly armed Taliban after 12 years?
In only took a few hours for Russian troops to destroy the US and Israeli- trained and armed Georgian army, that the US sent to invade S. Ossetia.
Where does Obama find morons like Susan Rice and Victoria Nuland?
These two belong in a kindergarten for mentally handicapped children, not in government for a superpower, where ignorance and arrogance can start World War 3.
Ukraine is far more important to Russia than it is to the US or EU. If the situation in Ukraine spirals out of control and right- wing extremists seize control, Russian intervention is certain.
The arrogant and stupid Obama regime has carelessly and recklessly created a direct strategic threat to the existence of Russia.
According to the Moscow Times, this is what a senior Russian official has to say:
“If Ukraine breaks apart, it will trigger a war.” Ukraine “will lose the Crimea first,” because Russia “will go in just as we did in Georgia.”
Another Russian official said: “ We will not allow Europe and the US to take Ukraine from us."
"The states of the former Soviet Union, we are one family. They think Russia is still as weak as in the early '90s, but we are not.”
The Ukrainian right-wing is also in a stronger position than the US's paid Ukrainian puppets, who are essentially weak and irrelevant persons, who have sold out their country for US' money.
The Right Sector is organized. It is armed. It is indigenous. It is not dependent on money funneled in by US & EU financed NGOs. It has an ideology, and is focused.
The Right Sector doesn’t have to pay its protesters to take to the streets like the US had to do.
Most importantly, well-meaning but stupid protesters - especially the Kiev students - and a Ukrainian parliament playing to the protesters, have destroyed Ukraine's democracy.
The opposition controlled parliament has removed an elected president from office without an election, an obviously illegal, undemocratic act.
The opposition controlled parliament has issued illegal arrest warrants for members of the president’s government.
The opposition controlled parliament has illegally released criminals from prison.
As the opposition has created a regime of illegality in place of law and constitutional procedures, the field is wide open for the Right Sector.
Expect everything the opposition did to Yanukovich, to be done to them by the Right Sector.
By their own illegal, unconstitutional actions, the opposition has set the precedent for their own demise.
Just as the February 1917 revolution against the Russian Tsar set the stage for the Oct 1917 Bolshevik Revolution, surprising the stupid “reformers,” the overthrow of the Ukrainian political order sets the stage for Right Sector.
We can only hope that Right Sector blows its chances.
The US media is a useless news source. It serves as Ministry for Government Lies.
The corrupt propagandists are portraying the undemocratic removal of Yanukovich as a victory for freedom and democracy.
When it begins to leak out that all has gone wrong, the presstitutes will try to blame it all on Russia and Putin.
The Western media is a plague upon humanity.
US citizens have no idea that the neo- conservative regime of the White House Fool is leading them into a Great Power Confrontation that could end in the destruction of life on earth.
Ironic, isn’t it. A US' “first black president,” the person liberals thought would restore justice, morality, and reason to Western civilization, is instead now positioned as the person who will have to accept humiliating defeat, or risk the destruction of life on earth.
The Crimea is refusing to pay taxes to what they state is an illegitimate and unconstitutional Duma as it was born of "violence, terror and threats."
EU SUPPORTING FASCIST-LED COUP
A bill was registered Sunday, in the Supreme Rada (Parliament), which aims to ban the party of President Viktor Yanukovych, the Party of Regions, and the Communist Party.
This demand was promotedfirst from the rostrum in Maidan Square, by a leader of the ultra-rightwing 'Right Sector'.
'NAZI COUP IN UKRAINE NOW'
Ukraine's President Viktor Yanukovych says what has happened since he signed a deal with the opposition to end almost three months of unrest in the country, is a neo-nazi coup..
Speaking in a televised address from the northeastern city of Kharkov, Yanukovych stresses that he has no intention of resigning, or leaving the country, saying that events resemble the rise of the Nazis, in the 1930s.
Yanukovych says a coup has been underway ever since he left Kiev, when Ukraine's parliament debated a motion calling for his resignation.
The president rejects the parliament’s recent moves as illegal.
He speaks out, after a lawmaker from the Western-backed opposition camp said Yanukovych is "stepping down".
But he repeats that he has no intention of resigning or of leaving Ukraine.
Earlier, the parliament, now packed by rightwing MPs, voted to quickly release ex-prime minister, Yulia Tymoshenko, from prison, and then picked Oleksandr Turchynov, a close ally of Tymoshenko, as a new speaker. It also appointed a new interior minister.
Pro-Yanukovych authorities in Eastern regions, meanwhile, are challenging the parliament's legitimacy and say they're taking full control of their territories.
Regional leaders meeting in Kharkov have adopted a resolution declaring the central state organs "paralyzed."
"Until constitutional order & lawfulness are restored... we have decided to take all responsibility for safeguarding the constitutional order, legality, citizens' rights and security, on our territories," the resolution says.
REGIONS MEET IN UKRAINE: SAY "ALL RECENT DUMA DECISIONS ARE UNDER DURESS AND INVALID"
Local MPs from the Euro-skeptic east and south of Ukraine, have gathered in Kharkov city, to form a joint response to the collapse of central government.
“The territorial integrity of Ukraine is at risk,” the gathering says in a resolution.
It adds that instability in Ukraine is highly dangerous and may cause unpredictable consequences, considering that the country hosts five nuclear power plants with 15 reactors in total, which some extremists have threatened to attack.
The recent decisions of the national parliament were taken in conditions “of terror, threats of violence, and of death,” the resolution says.
The gathering says the legislative acts may have been passed involuntarily, and are neither legitimate nor lawful.
The opposition has broken the agreement with the government, the resolution says.
“Armed gangs have not given over their weapons, they continue taking over governmental buildings, killing citizens and officers of the law,” it says.
The Kharkov public gathering announces a number of measures local authorities should take in response to developments in Kiev.
They should take full responsibility for all decision-making in their respective regions, and pay no regard to the authorities in Kiev until full constitutional order is restored, the resolution states.
Military commanders should take measures to protect arms depots and prevent their take-over and looting by opposition activists.
Meanwhile citizens are encouraged to form local militias to protect public order. Local regions are to fund and support the militias.
“3, 477 deputies from local councils in southeastern Ukraine have gathered. We have gathered here not to separate the country, but to save it,” the regional governor, Mikhail Dobkin, tells the crowd.
The head of the Kharkov administration, Gennady Kernes, calls the public gathering “an attempt by qualified deputies from the east of Ukraine to stabilize the situation.”
"My colleagues and I have been personally threatened. But today we have gathered to change the situation,” he says. “We will not give in; we will fight till the end.”
The statement is echoed by Rada’s Party of Regions deputy, Vadim Kolesnichenko, who also says that politicians are being threatened and that “their families are basically hostages.”
UKRAINE FASCIST COUP...
President Yanukovych hasheld talks with Ukraine regions which reject the rightwing takeover of their country.
His trusted ally had to resign as Speaker of the Parliament, on "health grounds", as did the Deputy, and about 30 party of Regions members.
Alexandr Turchinov, ally of jailed former PM, Yulia Tymoshenko, is now speaker, after his predecessor, Volodymyr Rybak, resigned for "health reasons".
First Vice Speaker Igor Kalentik, an MP from Ukraine's Communist Party, also stepped down from the parliament... in which the right only, now sits.
The Ukrainian ultra right-wing party, Right-Wing Sector, recognized as the combative wing of the Maidan, has rejected agreements signed between the Government & opposition leaders, and promises to keep carrying out acts to complete their agenda.
In a communiqué published on the web page Vkontakte, the Russian social network, the leader of the organization, Dmitri Yarosh, said the document didn't give any clear promises about the resignation of President Yanukovich, or the dissolution of the Supreme Council (Parliamentâ and Rada in the Ukrainian language).
Yarosh, who encouraged the offensive against the Rada and police in a new wave of mass violence, blames "the authorities" for all the violence.
The leader of command groups that killed police agents and kidnapped special-troop soldiers, said that the Government must punish the chiefs of all the security corps, including the Defense minister, and ban all activity by the Party of Regions.
"The national revolution will continue and will end only with a total overthrow of the regime", wrote Yarosh in his blog, published by Ukrainian media outlets.
Around 3,000 right-wing and nationalist fighters ruled the ranks of demonstrators in the Maidan, and led clashes with the police and riot agents (Berkut), and the attacks on Government HQs and military institutions, says a report premiered by Russia's NTV.
Analysts interviewed by the filmmaking team all agreed that the purpose of the so-called Heirs of Bandera (named after Ukrainian nationalist Stepan Bandera, who was a collaborator for the Nazis during the World War ll occupation of Ukraine) is to lead Ukraine into a civil war.
The right-wing sector, nationalist organizations and the pro-Western opposition, do not want a peaceful solution to the crisis in Ukraine, as that is not part of their plans, says Russian political scientist, Veronika Krasheninnikova.
UKRAINE's ROUTE 'UNCONSTITUTIONAL'
Ukraine's President Viktor Yanukovich and the opposition had signed an EU brokered agreement on ending the political crisis.
The deal included a return to parliamentary democracy, away from the presidential rule under Yanukovitch, and that of his archrival and predecessor, Ms Tymoshenko.
A coalition government was set to be formed in days, regional MP Vladimir Oleynik told RIA-Novosti, quoting the draft of the now doomed peace deal, which included early Presidential elections (in November).
Kiev is now awash with rumours and the situation is very fraught, as the neo-nazi elements are still violent, and sworn to continue their actions.
Last week, 400 rioters partially blocked traffic at the Prospect Pobedy (Victory avenue) in Kiev, in a rally led by masked rioters armed with clubs, and caused a traffic jam. Police were not seen there.
Ukraine is also under financial attack from both outside "investors" and their own people, as shops & banks are emptied, especially in some cities close to Poland and the West, and US based credit agencies drop Ukraine's credit rating to CCC minus.
Now reports suggest 70 to 100 deaths since the agreement was rejected and 88 law enforcement agents, 6 journalists, 4 foreigners and 1 member of parliament were among those injured in the clashes which erupted on February 18th, after a deadline set by authorities to end the protests expired, the website states.
Reports say thousands of Western- backed protesters took to the streets in Kiev, that some Kiev shops were reported as looted, and civilians are reported to be leaving Kiev, for safety.
Rioters reached the Rada building (the country's parliament), as the police pulled back into Mariinsky park nearby.
An emergency evacuation was declared... but then so was an emergency session, of parliament, just as parliament members and employees were leaving the building.
The result, reports say, was a barely-quorate meeting, which ordered the withdrawal of police from the square and included a severe legal challenge to the President.
Protesters hurled rocks and Molotov cocktails at the police, in spite of a day of mourning being declared as a mark of respect for the 35 people who had died previously.
Protesters not only pushed security forces out of Independence Square, theyseized Oktyabrsky Palace, a major concert hall in Kiev, and Hotel Ukraine, reports say.
Over 60 security forces were taken hostage after their bus was besieged by protesters.
The officers were taken to St Volodymyr's Cathedral nearby by rioters, but are free, and have left the protest site in Maidan Sq.
The Interior Ministry of Ukraine says at least 23 police officers were injured by sniper fire.
The protesters were “openly using fire arms against the Berkut [Special Forces],” says the Interior Ministry statement.
Police say the sniper fire originated from the roof of Kiev’s Conservatory, and deliberately targeted officers.
“I think the opposition has crossed the line. I think the policy of negotiations has now exhausted itself,” said the deputy head of the Party of Regions, Oleg Tsarev, in Ukraine's parliament.
Despite Yanukovich agreeing a temporary truce to mourn victims of the unrest, and despite the agreement between the Party of Regions and the opposition... the neo-fascist opposition group Right Sector rejected any truces, and urged its followers to keep pressing.
Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych had earlier sacked the head of the army and announced an anti-terror group to stop violent take-overs.
COMMUNISTS WARN OF FASCIST-LED COUP
The Communist Party of Ukraine says that the extremist groups behind the worst of the violence in Ukraine, are "sponsored not only by Ukrainian oligarchs, but also by major Western capital, which is interested in destabilising the situation in Ukraine."
It says the nationalist forces have mounted a coup, using "the most treacherous methods of warfare": by terrorism and by using women and children as "human shields".
The party says the leaders and activists of the fascist forces must be prosecuted.
BAHRAIN REGIME "MURDERS ITS OWN PEOPLE"
Bahraini protesters held anti-government demonstrations across the country last week, despite an ongoing crackdown by regime forces.
Bahraini security forces used birdshot and tear gas to break up the crowds.
Protesters chanted anti-regime slogans, saying the Al Khalifa regime murders its own people.
They also pledged to continue on the path of those who sacrificed their lives for freedom and democracy.
Since mid-February 2011, thousands of pro- democracy protesters have staged numerous demonstrations in the streets of the country, calling for the Al Khalifa royal family to relinquish power.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon calls on the Bahraini regime to respect “international human rights obligations” in dealing with peaceful protests in the kingdom.
On March 14, 2011, troops from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates invaded Bahrain to assist the Bahraini regime in its crackdown on the peaceful protesters.
According to local sources, scores of people have been killed and hundreds arrested.
Physicians for Human Rights say doctors and nurses have been detained, tortured, or "disappeared" because they have "evidence of atrocities committed by the authorities, security forces, and riot police" in the crackdown on protesters.
VENEZUELA DEALS WITH ITS WEST-BACKED NEO-FASCISTS
Venezuelan right-wing leader Leopoldo Lopez, national coordinator of opposition organization Voluntad Popular (People's Will), is in detention, due to his relation to recent violent fascist acts.
Russia warned against attempts to "forcibly seize power" in Ukraine Moscow condemned the violent protests in Ukraine and will use its influence to defeat this "pro-Fascist revolution", Russia's Foreign Ministry said.
SNOWDEN HONORED BY GLASGOW STUDENTS
Students at the University of Glasgow have voted ex NSA contractor and whistleblower Edward Snowden as the school’s rector in the university court for the next three years.
Snowden beat ex racing cyclist Graeme Obree, author Alan Bissett, and the Rev. Kelvin Holdsworth, reports the Guardian.
Snowden is not expected to fulfill a rector's duties, being in temporary asylum in Russia.
He is wanted by the US on both charges of espionage and theft of government property after leaking classified material to journalists that revealed the National Security Agency’s global spying operations.
"We are delighted to see Edward Snowden elected as the new rector of the University of Glasgow,” says Chris Cassells, Snowden’s spokesperson for the election campaign.
“We have a proud and virtuous tradition of making significant statements through our rectors, and today we have once more championed this idea, by proving to the world that we are not apathetic on important issues such as democratic rights.”
David Newall, secretary of the university court, says that Snowden’s nomination contributed to an historic campaign:
"This has been a record turnout for a rectorial election. I warmly congratulate Edward Snowden on his success.”
NASRALLAH - KEEP FIGHTING FOR THE GOOD.
"We have reached a situation in which people don't want to tackle the Palestinian cause and the enemy," Sayyed Nasrallah, the Hezbollah leader says, pointing out that "this is what America has sought."
Sayyed Nasrallah says "the US Administration seeks, along with the Zionist Administration, to put an end to the Palestinian cause, and it considers that this is the best time for that, because the Arab and Islamic worlds are absent today, and every country is occupied with its own problems."
Sayyed Nasrallah reminds the Lebanese about the threat this enemy has constantly posed on all political, military, economic, and energy levels, and stresses that "our concern is to defend Lebanon, its glory and capabilities & not leave it to face its destiny."
He points out: "if it wasn't for the resistance, Israel would have stayed in Lebanon." "Israel is still the enemy and threat that we should be aware of... in the past couple of weeks Israel has tried to take advantage of the situation to wage aggression on the resistance and its environment... as its eyes are still on our land and oil and it still sees Hezbollah as the greatest danger in the region."
But, he says, "Israel does not terrify us and does not affect our morale, and it must know that the resistance is on high readiness at all times."
He says that when "we establish a capable state and a strong Army which will become the sole power that defends Lebanon, we can then relax."
Sayyed Nasrallah emphasizes that the second threat, after the Israeli enemy, is Takfiri terror:
"Takfirism is not a threat by itself as long as it remains in the mental field, but the problem lies in their rejection of everyone they disagree with ideologically, politically, or mentally, so they tend to eliminate or proscribe people."
His eminence stresses that "Lebanon is a target for the Takfiri groups and part of their project, and their priority was Lebanon after finishing Syria, and this is why they followed the strategy of controlling Lebanon's borders with Syria."
To those who say Hezbollah's fighting in Syria caused trouble in Lebanon he replies:
"Before going to Syria, didn't Lebanon witness a war imposed by those in the north and in some refugee camps, and didn't they target Christian regions and Army locations with booby-trapped cars? All these occurred before the incidents in Syria began."
He addresses the Lebanese, saying:
"What has the Lebanese government done besides self disassociation which is similar to burying it's head in the sand?
"Don't we have the right to interfere to stop the killing, stealing and raping of women which 30,000 Lebanese have been suffering in Al-Qusayr? What if those Takfiris whom we defeated in Qusayr, came to Lebanon? What if, God forbid, they took control of all Syria? What would the picture be like then?"
His eminence asks: "Why do they fear an election in Syria? It is because they know where Syria's public opinion is now."
"We will triumph in this battle and it is only a matter of time. What this battle requires on various levels is available. This is a crucial battle, but its destiny is victory."
"Their speech in Syria and Lebanon is sectarian as they want to stir incitement. They want us Shiites - whose women and children are being targeted in explosions - to react in a sectarian way, but this did not happen in the past and it will not happen in the future. Such reactions would only serve the Takfiris," he says, praising the Lebanese Army and its recent intelligence achievements.
Sayyed Nasrallah says those "who delayed forming a government for ten months were refusing to form a government and wanted a "neutral" government to isolate Hezbollah."
However, he says "Hezbollah's position today is stronger politically than at any other time, internally, regionally, and internationally."
On the fears and concerns of some people because of some ministers appointed in the new government, Sayyed Nasrallah says:
"I tell them that no matter who the Minister of Justice is, Omar Al-Atrash or Naim Abbas will not be released because they have confessed about their role in sending booby-trapped cars."
His eminence concludes by saluting the oppressed people of Bahrain, as 3 years have passed in their peaceful, civilized revolution, despite all the oppression and arrests by the West-backed regime.
He also addresses the Lebanese, Palestinians, and all honorable people in the region, saying:
"If you want Israel to lose any chances, and if you want to prevent sedition in the region, stop the war on Syria and take out the fighters there. (and, of course, we would pull out then.)
"We should all stop this war on Syria in order to preserve Lebanon, Palestine, and Syria."
US NEOCON STRATEGY - STILL TRYING HARD!
William Engdahl, award-winning geopolitical analyst and strategic risk consultant, says the US is still trying to "win" a nuclear war with Russia and this places European countries in the utmost danger.
Despite Russia’s recent efforts to broker a peaceful resolution of the Syrian chemical weapons crisis, as well as its good offices in helping resolve the Iranian nuclear conflict with Washington, the Obama administration is moving ahead with its highly provocative nuclear Ballistic Missile ‘Defense’ (BMD) deployments around Russia.
What we are not being told by politicians Engdahl warns, is that this action, far from being peaceful, "brings the world closer than ever to nuclear war by miscalculation."
Four US advanced destroyers to be positioned in Rota, Spain, will form a key part of the US- controlled ballistic missile “shield.”
The shield is being sold as protecting Europe against any Iranian nuclear missile attacks.
But the reality, as Moscow has declared again and again since 2001, is to target the only nuclear arsenal on Earth capable of countering a US nuclear attack - Russia’s.
As military experts across the world point out, no “terrorists” or small rogue state has any such nuclear missile delivery capability ... and US intelligence estimates agree.
Why then is the US spending tens of billions if not hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars developing its BMD system?
Official US military policy reports demonstrate, Engdahl says, that it has been the deliberate and unflinching policy of Washington since the collapse of the Soviet Union to systematically and relentlessly - throughout the administrations of four US Presidents - to pursue nuclear primacy (unilateral assured destruction) and the capacity for absolute, global military dominance, what the Pentagon callS Full Spectrum Dominance.
In 2006, the then US Ambassador to NATO, former Cheney advisor Victoria Nuland (yes, the same person disgraced by a video of her phone tirade with US Ukraine Ambassador Pyatt on changing Ukraine's government - saying “Fuck the EU”) declared that the US wants a “globally deployable military force” that would operate everywhere – from Africa to the Middle East & beyond - “all across our planet.”
As nuclear strategy experts warned at that time, more than eight years ago, deployment of even a minimal missile defense, under the Pentagon’s then-new CONPLAN 8022, would give the US what the military calls, “Escalation Dominance” - the ability to win a war at any level of violence, including nuclear war.
As a Foreign Affairs article in 2006 notes: “A nuclear war-fighting capability remains a key component of US' military doctrine and nuclear primacy remains a goal of the US.”
The two authors, Lieber and Press, outline the real consequences of the current escalation of BMD in Europe (and against China in Japan):
“The sort of missile defenses that the US might plausibly deploy would be valuable primarily in an offensive context, not a defensive one - as an adjunct to a US First Strike capability, not as a stand- alone shield." If the US launched a nuclear attack against Russia (or China), the targeted country would be left with only a tiny surviving arsenal - if any at all. At that point, even a relatively modest or inefficient missile defense system might well be enough to protect against any retaliatory strikes.”
“Today, for the first time in almost 50 years, the US stands on the verge of attaining nuclear primacy. It will probably soon be possible for the US to destroy the long- range nuclear arsenals of Russia or China with a first strike.
"This dramatic shift in the nuclear balance of power stems from a series of improvements in the US' nuclear systems, the precipitous decline of Russia's arsenal, and the glacial modernization pace of China's nuclear forces.”
Today, in addition to the missile-loaded USS Donald Cook in Rota, the US has BMD bases in Turkey, Bulgaria, Poland and the Czech Republic, all aimed at Russia.
As the Russian military command refused to completely dismantle their nuclear capacities after 1991 until they were assured that the US would do likewise, every step closer to full US Ballistic Missile Defense deployment brings nearer the possibility of a Russian preemptive nuclear strike against Turkey, Bulgaria, Poland, the Czech Republic and now Spain as well as the US nuclear silos, including reportedly in Germany. How stupid are EU governments? How stupid is Washington?
The Washington neo-conservatives’ agenda to reduce Russia to pieces - as seen by their actions in Ukraine, Engdahl says, is not the most intelligent strategy.
But then, Engdahl points out, neo-conservative warhawks are not famed for their intelligence, but for their brutal war strategies in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria and now, perhaps, in a potential Third World War triggered by their insistence on BMD aimed at Russia's nuclear strike force.
TERROR AND DIVISION- it's US !
The UK and US are the main orchestrators of the devastation in Syria as the neocolonialist agenda of the two, focuses on support for terrorism and division in different countries across the world, a political analyst says.
In an interview with Press TV, Sukant Chandan points to the ongoing crisis in Syria & notes:
“The source of the problem, actually, is in London and in Washington."
"London is still the world capital of the privately- armed mercenary industry, and it’s also still the world financial capital of neocolonialism today.”
The analyst says that terrorism is a US and UK strategy to conduct regime change and to keep hegemony and domination across the world.
He says that terrorism, combined with creating divisions inside countries, is “the 21st-century neocolonialism” tactic employed by the US and UK, against different nations.
European Union (EU) countries, alongside the UK, one of the Western supporters of the militants in Syria, have already expressed concern over the threat of terrorism from extremist groups in Syria.
A study by UK defense consultancy IHS Jane’s published last September showed that about 100,000 militants, fragmented into 1,000 groups, are operating inside Syria and carrying out atrocities against people and Syrian soldiers.
According to reports, over 300 UK nationals, along with militants from the US, Canada, France and the Netherlands, have joined the foreign-backed militant groups in Syria.
The country has been gripped by a deadly crisis since March 2011. Millions have been displaced.
UK USED TERROR IN INDIA
The UK's Sikh community has threatened to boycott Conservative candidates at the 2015 election over the Coalition's refusal to launch a full public inquiry into the UK's role in India's Golden Temple massacre.
The Sikh Federation launched a mass letter- writing campaign, urging UK MPs to set up a large-scale inquiry into UK involvement in the deadly attack on Sikhism's holiest shrine in India’s Amritsar city, in June 1984.
A spokesperson for the Federation warned that all MPs who refuse to support the call, face losing the votes of Sikhs across the UK.
Bhai Amrik Singh, chair of the Sikh Federation, predicts that the number of politicians backing an independent probe into the Amritsar raid will increase from 50 to 100+ over the next few days.
"Many Conservative politicians in Labour target seats, while not yet supporting the inquiry, are under enormous pressure, as we have now started to gain the support of prospective parliamentary candidates who are their main rivals," Singh says.
UK PM David Cameron has been given a deadline of February 20th, to agree to a meeting with representatives of the Sikh Federation, or face a protest outside Downing Street.
Appearing in the House of Commons earlier this month, Foreign Secretary William Hague acknowledged that an officer from the SAS (Special Air Service) travelled to India in February 1984 and advised Indian authorities on planning one of the most notorious atrocities in UK imperial history, in the South Asian country.
The death toll from the temple raid remains disputed, with Indian authorities putting it in the hundreds and Sikh groups, in the thousands.
Cybernet Attack Affects Venezuelan Institutions Venezuela's Minister for Science, Technology and Innovation, Manuel Fernandez, asserts today that Venezuela is facing one of the most serious cybernet attacks in its history.
Over the last 48 hours, 61 Government web pages were hacked, in the fiercest attack ever recorded in this country, says the minister, in an interview with Toda Venezuela (The Whole Venezuela), broadcast on Venezolana de Television station.
Fernandez reports that the most damaging attack so far, was carried out on Friday night against the website of the Foreign Currency Administrative Commission (CADIVI).
He says the saboteurs tried for minutes to send 500,000 requests to CADIVI and for that reason, one of 16 links from Venezuela to other countries through CANTV, was saturated.
That website could not be accessed for three or four hours, he says.
Fernandez explains to Venezuela's people, that there are four types of cyber attacks and that 16 Venezuelan websites were hit by the best known of them, called distortion, that is, distorting or changing a web page.
"27 other web pages were attacked through service denial, which causes a resource to be inaccessible to users of those pages", says the minister.
He says the third type of attack uncovers website vulnerabilities and inserts malicious software to take control of the page. "That was the cause of the collapse of one Venezuelan website," the minister explains.
Through Webhive, malicious software that causes a user's request to be replicated until the service is denied, 17 websites were attacked, he says.
The minister says the government of Falcon state, the University of Zulia, Venezolana de Television station, Mision Ribas, the Ministry of the Interior, Justice and Peace, the city halls of Valencia and Carabobo, and the Republic's Vice Presidency, were among the institutions damaged.
Supreme Leader Urges Iran’s Students to Prepare for ’Cyber War’
The Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution of Iran Grand Ayatollah Sayyed Ali Khamenei has told Iranian students this week to prepare to go to battle in a 'cyber war'.
Calling them 'cyber-war agents', Ayatollah Khamenei was quoted by Mehr news agency telling students 'Get yourself ready for such war wholeheartedly.'
His comments are believed to be in response to Israeli Major General Aviv Kochavi, who warned that cyber attacks will soon be revealed to be the 'biggest revolution in warfare'.
Iran has previously blamed the CIA and Mossad for a cyber attack on the Bushehr power station in 2010, before being targeted again in 2012, by a data mining virus.
Saudis Agree to Provide Gunmen in Syria with Mobile Anti-aircraft Missiles
Saudi Arabia, one of the US's main Arab allies, has agreed to provide Takfiri groups in Syria with more sophisticated weaponry, including shoulder-fired missiles that can take down jets, say Western and Arab diplomats and opposition figures, says the Wall Street Journal today.
Saudi Arabia has offered to give the opposition Chinese man-portable air defense systems, (Manpads) and Russian antitank guided missiles, says an Arab diplomat and some opposition figures with knowledge of these efforts.
The US has long opposed arming opposition gunmen with antiaircraft missiles, for fear they could fall into the hands of extremists who could then use them against the West and commercial airlines.
The US is, however, raising its cash support, handing around $3 million in new aid to pay gumen's salaries in the Southern Front.
Payments were delivered in cash at two meetings in Jordan - one on January 30th, and the other late last year, say opposition field commanders who have received some of the money, says the US daily.
"If the Manpads are supplied in the quantities needed, rebels say it could tip the balance in the stalemated war in favor of the opposition.
The antiaircraft and Russian Konkurs antitank weapons would help them chip away at the regime's 2 big advantages on the battlefield - air power and heavy armour," it says.
The Wall Street Journal says leaders of the Syrian political opposition say they don't know yet how many of the Manpads and antiaircraft missiles they will get, but have been told it will be "significant".
"The weapons are already waiting in warehouses in Jordan and Turkey," it adds.
The daily says that opposition group leaders met with US and Saudi intelligence agents, among others, in Jordan on January 30th, as the first round of Syrian peace talks in Geneva came to a close and that is when rich Gulf States offered the weapons.
The weapons will flow across the border into south Syria from warehouses in Jordan and across the northern border from Turkey, the 'Western diplomat' says.
"With the rebels still deeply divided and infighting growing, the new aid is aimed squarely at the more moderate, secular rebels of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) the US has always favored," the 'paper says.
The plan coincides with the reorganization of rebel forces in the south, where 10,000 fighters have formed the Southern Front. The new front aims to break the government's siege of the southern suburbs of Damascus.
Congressional aides in the US confirm that there are scheduled meetings with opposition leaders next week to discuss their request for more advanced weapons.
But Congress remains sharply divided about the conflict in Syria. Some lawmakers favor stepped-up support to moderate opposition groups, but others question the wisdom of providing heavy weapons.
BAHRAIN UPRISING CONTINUES
Clashes with police mark the third anniversary of the Bahrain uprising that has seen numerous human rights violations by the government and wide social discontent by the majority Shia, with the minority ruling Sunni monarchy.
Police have used tear gas in a number of villages outside the capital Manama across the small island as security forces moved in to disperse gatherings.
In some districts protesters have been setting barricades of burning tires on fire to prevent police moving in. They chanted "Down with Hamad", and "Only to Allah (God), we kneel."
At least 29 people have been arrested.
Thursday saw the beginning of a three-day-long protest called by the 'February 14 youth coalition', the Shiite-led opposition, to mark Friday's 3 year anniversary of the popular protest.
Anti-government movement supporters were urged to once again occupy the Pearl Square, the cradle of the revolution where activists camped in 2011, before Bahraini, Saudi and UAE troops smashed the uprising.
CHINA WALKS THE WALK ON KOREA
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi says Friday, that China will never allow any chaos or war on the Korean Peninsula.
Wang makes the remarks while meeting Secretary of State John Kerry in Beijing.
"China is serious on this. We not only say so, but do so, " says Wang.
Amnesty: Central Africa - ’Ethnic Cleansing’
'Ethnic cleansing" is being carried out against Muslim civilians in the Central African Republic and international peacekeepers are unable to prevent it, Amnesty International says.
France's defense minister has already calls on international forces deployed in the Christian- majority country to put an end to attacks by the militias "by force if needed".
Amnesty says it has documented at least 200 killings of Muslim civilians by Christian militia groups known as the anti-balaka, set up in the wake of the March 2013 coup by the mainly- Muslim Seleka rebellion.
"'Ethnic cleansing' of Muslims has been carried out in the western part of the Central African Republic, the most populous part of the country, since early January 2014," Amnesty International says.
"Entire Muslim communities have been forced to flee and hundreds of Muslim civilians who haven't managed to escape have been killed by loosely organized militias known as anti-balaka."
The group say attacks against Muslims are occurring "with the stated intent to forcibly displace these communities from the country," with many anti-balaka fighters seeing Muslims as "'foreigners' who should leave the country or be killed".
"They appear to be achieving their aims, with Muslims being forced out of the country in increasingly large numbers," it says.
Amnesty urges international peacekeepers in the country to "take rapid steps to break anti-balaka control over the country's road network, and to station sufficient troops in towns where Muslims are threatened".
UN chief Ban Ki-Moon:
"The sectarian brutality is changing the country's demography. The de facto partition of the C.A.R. is a distinct risk."
"The international response does not yet match the gravity of the situation," he adds.
"We must do more to prevent more atrocities, protect civilians, restore law and order, provide humanitarian assistance and hold the country together," Ban says.
GITMO FORCE-FEEDING IS GOOD, SAY US JUDGES
A US federal appeals court has dismissed demands for an end to force-feeding inmates at the notorious Guantanamo military prison run by the US, in Cuba.
A three-judge panel of the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia in Washington ruled on Tuesday that prison authorities were entitled to "force-feed a starving inmate actually facing the risk of death."
Egypt’s Sisi in Russia for $2-Billion Arms Deal
Egyptian army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi arrived in Moscow wednesday with Egypt's Foreign Minister, Nabil Fahmy, for "2+2" talks with their Russian counterparts, to negotiate a $2 billion arms deal.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrvov and Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu also made a trip to Cairo in November, aimed at reviving ties that have stagnated since Soviet times.
Diplomats in Moscow says Thursday's talks focused on regional security issues such as Syria's crisis, trade and economic relations. But Moscow officials confirm that a large part of the discussions will focus on striking a massive new Russian arms delivery deal.
The head of Russia's state industrial holding company said after the November meeting, that Moscow was on the verge of reaching a landmark agreement to supply air defense systems to Egypt's army.
The Soviet Union was the main supplier of arms to Egypt in the 1960s and early 1970s.
Cooperation between the two sides dropped after the Zionist entity and Egypt signed a peace treaty and Cairo began receiving generous US aid.
But the US suspended some military assistance to Egypt after the July ousting of democratically- elected Islamist president Mohamed Mursi.
Analysts say the Russia-Egypt arms deal is meant to replace subsidised assistance from its old ally, Washington.
Syrian government forces have regained full control of a strategic town near neighboring Lebanon’s border.
The recapture of Jarajir took place after heavy clashes between government forces and foreign- backed militants near the flashpoint city of Yabrud.
The clashes are part of what locals call the "Battle for Qalamoun."
In recent days, the Syrian army has stepped up its attacks on foreign-backed militants along the border with Lebanon. Reports say the attacks are a prelude to a major offensive in the region.
The Syrian army has just conducted successful clean-up operations across the country, inflicting heavy losses on the militants.
The army launched attacks against militants in the provinces of Damascus, Aleppo, Deir Ezzor, Homs, Idlib, Latakia and Daraa, killing large numbers.
CHECK, MATE !!!
Hezbollah says they are to stay in Syria and that the aim of the West to control the future of the region through terror and division, is doomed.
The Lebanese army has arrested a leader of a unit in the al-Qaeda-linked Abdullah Azzam Brigades, which has been involved in recent bombings there.
The army says the leader, Naim Abbas, was arrested by army intelligence in Beirut and the al-Qaeda leader is being questioned under supervision of the judiciary.
According to the Lebanese security forces, Abbas was arrested on suspicion of receiving booby-trapped cars from Omar Ibrahim al-Atrash, an extremist Sunni Muslim Sheikh involved in 2 deadly bombings in south Beirut last month, when a large number of people lost their lives.
Over two dozen people, including Iran’s cultural attaché to Beirut, were killed and more than 150 others injured in November last year after two explosions struck near the Iranian Embassy in southern Beirut.
Abdullah Azzam Brigades claimed responsibility for the twin bomb attacks.
AL AQSA MOSQUE THREATENED BY ISRAELI REGIME
Palestinians in the city of East al-Quds (Jerusalem) have reacted angrily to a visit by Israel’s Minister of Housing & Construction Uri Ariel to al-Aqsa Mosque.
Muslim worshipers at the al-Aqsa Mosque shouted slogans against the minister as he, accompanied by a number of settlers, entered the compound under armed guard.
"The Israeli housing minister, accompanied by 27 settlers, stormed the Al-Aqsa compound through the Al-Magharbah Gate as Israeli police looked on," Turkish state-run Anadolu Agency news agency quotes Sheikh Azzam al-Khatib, the director-general of Muslim endowments & Al-Aqsa affairs, as saying.
Israeli forces took the ID cards of Palestinian protesters.
The Israeli minister has earlier said that Tel Aviv plans to replace the al-Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest site in the Muslim world, with a temple.
This remark has infuriated Palestinians, who condemn the plan as desecration and part of the Israeli regime’s ongoing attempts to Judaize the al-Aqsa Mosque and East al-Quds (Jerusalem).
In recent months, Israeli settlers have stepped up their attacks on the mosque. A move that has led to violent confrontations between the two sides.
On February 7th, clashes erupted between Palestinian worshippers and Israeli soldiers at the al-Aqsa Mosque when Israeli troops stormed the holy site.
Israeli soldiers fired rubber bullets and stun grenades at the people who were praying at the mosque.
At least 20 people, including children, were wounded in the violence.
Eyewitnesses say Israeli forces also beat a number of women and arrested several Palestinians, mostly youths.
MILLIONS SHOW SUPPORT FOR IRAN's REVOLUTION
Abadi: Iran Will Always Be Strategic Depth of Lebanon, Syria, and Palestine
Iran’s ambassador to Lebanon, Ghazanfar Roknabadi, says on the eve' of the 35th anniversary of Iran's revolution, as millions mass to show their support:
"Iran will always be the strategic depth of dignified independent people, especially in Lebanon, Syria and Palestine, against the Zionist occupation and Takfiri terrorism."
With Iran reaching rapprochment with Turkey, Roknabadi says that recent measures by Saudi Arabia suggest a change in Riyadh’s foreign policy, and he predicts that a rapprochement is close between Tehran and the Arab kingdom.
“[We are seeing the] start of a change in Saudi Arabia’s foreign policy,” Roknabadi says, citing King Abdullah's recent decree punishing Saudi citizens who fight in foreign conflicts.
“Iran is keen on the best of ties with the world, and with its neighbour states, particularly with Saudi Arabia,” Roknabadi says.
“Reaching a Saudi-Iranian rapprochement will not take long,” he says. “God willing, we will reach that stage soon.”
“We insist on strengthening our ties with Saudi Arabia,” he adds.
Miqdad: States Involved in Syrian Blood Regard Stopping Terrorism "Not Priority"
Syrian deputy Foreign Minister Fayssal al-Miqdad says there are governments involved in the blood of the Syrian people who have "other priorities" than stopping terrorism.
Miqdad states " it is time to reach an agreement between Syrians to stop the bloodshed, and this is a priority."
"The goal of Geneva-II is the cessation of violence and terrorism," he says, adding that progress can't be made, if the bloodshed and support for terrorism doesn't stop.
"The time has come to stop terrorist acts in Syria and to reach an agreement. If we do not stop the massacres taking place in Syria, Syria's people will not trust the talks in Geneva."
The Syrian official stresses that the goal behind the "Maan massacre" on Sunday, was to kill women and children only.
On Sunday, the opposition militants committed a horrible massacre in Maan village in central Syria, killing 120 people, including women and children.
GAZA MAN SHINES
A Palestinian man in the Israeli-blockaded Gaza Strip has come up with a new method to light up houses and streets in his neighbourhood, as the Palestinian territory suffers massive power cuts, Press TV reports.
Hassan Saad, who is in his thirties, has launched a project to make use of expired and broken batteries to produce electricity.
He has managed to provide 60 houses, several streets, and the mosque in his neighborhood with safe and free lights during power outages.
Saad says that he came up with the project, called the National Unity Network, because he personally suffers from the power cuts and the prices of batteries are so high that most people in the coastal enclave cannot afford them.
Saad describes his project as a “message of sympathy to raise awareness of what is happening to Palestinians under the blockade.”
“This project saved our lives from the danger of lighting candles after a number of houses were set on fire,” say one Gazan man.
In recent months, fuel and electricity shortages in Gaza have worsened as the Egyptian military has blocked supply tunnels leading into the region. The underground tunnels serve as a lifeline for Gaza’s population of over 1.7 million.
Gaza has been under Israeli illegal siege since 2007, a situation that has made the Gazans desperately dependent on goods coming through the tunnels.
The Palestinian Non-Governmental Organizations Network (PNGO), which represents more than 130 Palestinian civil society organizations, has called on the international community to end the “continuous Israeli siege.”
Several human rights organizations and civil groups have also criticized the Egyptian army for preventing the people in Gaza from accessing most of their basic goods like construction materials, food, and fuel.
Russia Criticizes US Increasing Sanctions on Iran Russia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs expresses outrage today at the US Government reprisals against individuals and organizations included in new "black lists" for having traded with Iran, and failing to comply with US unilateral bans.
Additional sanctions against Iran contradict what was agreed in Geneva, says a Russian Foreign Ministry statement referring to a report issued by the US Treasury Department.
David Cohen, Undersecretary of the US Treasury Department, said the list includes countries and companies that support the Iranian nuclear program.
Companies and businesspeople from Turkey, Germany, Spain, Georgia, Afghanistan, the United Arab Emirates, Liechtenstein and Iran itself are included, and will now be subjected to repressive measures, says the Ministry.
The reprisals were taken after officials from over 100 French corporations and other countries, visited Iran to boost trade ties under agreements reached in November.
Palestinians Evicted from Camp, Set up a New One Protest camp participants in a village in the Jordan valley, evicted yesterday by Israelí soldiers, have set up another camp nearby, say Palestinian press reports.
The new facility is in the area of Jiftlik, north of the previous camp, which was stormed on Friday night by Israelí occupying forces.
The activists, including members of foreign human rights organizations, gathered in the new camp as a reaffirmation that the area belongs to Palestine, and to neutralize the Israeli government's plan to annex the Jordan valley, considered vital to its national security.
In an attack against the protest camp of Ein Hajla on Friday, several protesters, including minors, suffered fractures and other injuries, says Bassa Maslamani, a member of the Central Committee of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine.
The increase of Israeli settlement construction and the moving of the population to annexed land in the West Bank and East Jerusalem is the main cause of a stalemate in peace talks resumed in July, 2013.
The resumption of the protest coincides with figures revealed, according to which, last year Israel demolished 663 Palestinian houses in the West Bank and E. Jerusalem, including 122 built with funds provided by international aid bodies.
According to a communiqué issued by international assistance bodies, the figure is the highest for 5 years.
IRAN's NAVY HEADS FOR US
Ships from the Iranian army’s naval fleet are headed towards US maritime borders as part of a longstanding protest against US vessels in the Persian Gulf, Fars News Agency states.
"The Iranian Army's naval fleets have already started their voyage towards the Atlantic Ocean via the waters near South Africa," the Commander of Iran's Northern Navy Fleet, Admiral Afshin Rezayee Haddad, announces.
The admiral, who also heads the Iranian Army's 4th Naval Zone, says the ships are approaching the US' maritime borders, “and this move has a message."
The agency gave no details on the number or types of vessels deployed.
The US Navy’s 5th fleet, which is responsible for naval forces in the Persian Gulf, Red Sea, Arabian Sea, and parts of the Indian Ocean, is based in Bahrain.
"Like the arrogant powers that are present near our maritime borders, we will also have a powerful presence close to the American marine borders," Sayyari had promised.
UK spies use sex, cyber attacks to discredit "targets" – Snowden leaks
Intelligence agents working for the UK have employed “dirty tricks” including sexual traps, to ensnare rival agents, hackers, suspected terrorists, arms dealers, campaigners, political activists and others, according to documents leaked by Edward Snowden.
Documents leaked by the US NSA whistleblower and published by NBC news on Friday, detail the strategies used by the Joint Threat Research and Intelligence Group (JTRIG), a spy unit whose existence has been classified, to “destroy, deny, degrade [and] disrupt” adversaries.
The slides, which were used in 2010 and 2012, show that the JTRIG completes missions by “discrediting”, via misinformation and hacking.
The leak details two primary methods of attack - cyber operations and propaganda efforts - including mass messaging and the manipulation of stories on social media platforms like Twitter, Flickr, Facebook, and YouTube.
The cyber-attacks are primarily denial of service (DDoS) attacks, made famous by hackers who overtake millions of computers and direct all their internet traffic to one site, overwhelming that URL and effectively shutting it down.
Eric King, attorney, who teaches IT law now, at the London School of Economics, told NBC it is “remarkable” that the GCHQ has become so adept at launching DDoS attacks without “clear lawful authority,” and even as the UK government criticizes similar methods used by other states.
“GCHQ has no clear authority to send a virus or conduct cyber-attacks,” he says. “Hacking is one of the most invasive methods of surveillance.”
The slides also point out that the UK's spies are “slightly ahead” of US spies on offensive operations and that the GCHQ has absorbed many of the responsibilities formerly under the domain of the MI5 and MI6 spy agencies.
As well as "honey traps", hacking and having people closely watched, also mentioned in the 2010 presentation is a technique known as “credential harvesting” that manipulates journalists into giving false information to an intelligence target.
Whether or not the journalist would be aware of their role is unclear but the slides do indicate a reporter could be used to gain access to a target, perhaps through an interview, and then have their conversation monitored by the GCHQ.
Joel Simon, executive director of the Committee to Protect Journalists, says that the very idea of “credential harvesting” should be a “wake up call” to media personnel.
“All journalists generally are then vulnerable to the charge that they work at the behest of an intelligence agency,” he says.
As Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, the Sudan, Libya, all experience increased turmoil, the Lebanon eyes its future...
A report says extremist militants are flocking to a Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon, with plans for terror attacks.
According to the report acquired by the Daily Star newspaper, extremist militants from Chechnya, Egypt, Tunisia and Syria, have been flooding to Ain al-Hilweh refugee camp in the southern port city of Sidon, since January.
They have reportedly joined the Ziad Jarrah Brigades, part of the terrorist group, the Abdallah Azzam Brigades.
“Lebanese security forces have received information that these groups entered the country through the border town of Arsal,” the report states.
The report shows that the militants have been planning terrorist attacks to target diplomatic, military and security institutions.
Lebanese security forces have also expressed concern about potential attacks by militants against the UN Interim Force in Lebanon.
Lebanon has been embroiled in a string of deadly bomb attacks in recent months. Many view the violence as a "spillover" from neighboring Syria.
Terrorist groups of the al-Nusra Front and the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) operating in Syria have already claimed responsibility for a number of the bombings in Lebanon.
An intercepted phone conversation between top US officials about Ukraine suggests that Washington has meddled inappropriately.
In a four-minute video, posted on YouTube by an anonymous user, US Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland and US ambassador to Kiev Geoffrey Pyatt discuss which of Ukraine’s opposition leaders they want to rule in Ukraine:
“I don’t think that [Vitaly] Klitschko should go into the government. I don’t think it is necessary. I don’t think it is a good idea,” a female voice, allegedly Nuland, said.
“In terms of him not going into government, just let him stay out and do his political homework,” a male voice, believed to be Pyatt, replied. “In terms of the process moving ahead, we want to keep the moderate democrats together,” he said.
Nuland also referred to getting the UN involved in the process to resolve Kiev’s political crisis, saying UN chief Ban Ki- moon is about to appoint Robert Serry, the former Dutch ambassador to Kiev, as his representative to the country.
"That would be great, I think, to help glue this thing and have the UN glue it and you know, f**k the EU," she said, in an apparent reference to their differences over policies.
"We've got to do something to make it stick together, because you can be pretty sure that if it does start to gain altitude the Russians will be working behind the scenes to try to torpedo it," Pyatt replied.
Nebojsa Malic, foreign policy expert, says:
"There is obvious evidence confirming what is actually going on there. Considering that there have been pamphlets found among the rioters, that are exact replicas of pamphlets used previously in Serbia and in Egypt, offered by the people who are on the pay roll of the US government through various US non- governmental institutions and institutes."
"If I were Klitschko, I’d be really upset. If I were the other two leaders of the rebels, I’d be upset too."
"Here we have a situation where a high ranking official of the US government, who's even been to Kiev distributing cookies to demonstrators back when they were still relatively peaceful, refers to these guys as "Klitch," "Yatsy" and "Tiny Bock."
I would be seriously upset. I'd consider it an insult."
The date and precise context of the recording are not known yet, but according to some reports, the call was made last month, based on references in the conversation.
State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki refused to comment on the taped conversation.
However, she did not deny the authenticity of the recording, saying Nuland has called EU officials to apologize for dismissing the European Union in such crude terms.
As US officials visited Kiev, Putin’s economic advisor, Sergey Glazyev, said the situation in Ukraine is "an attempted coup", adding that Moscow enjoys legal grounds to intervene in the country’s crisis.
"According to our information, US sources spend $20 million a week on financing the opposition & rebels, including on weapons," he told the Ukrainian edition of Russian newspaper Kommersant.
"We have information that the militants are briefed on the territory of the US Embassy, that they are being armed. Of course it is unacceptable, this has to be looked into," he said.
Glazyev quoted the Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances dating back to 1994, adding that Russia has legal grounds to intervene in the crisis.
"According to this document, Russia and the US are guarantors of Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity and frankly speaking they are obliged to intervene when such conflicts arise," Putin’s advisor point out.
An Israeli lawmaker says the Likud party plans to propose a bill that will officially annex all illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank.
Miri Regev, from PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party, said on February 4th that the bill is aimed at keeping the settlements under Israeli rule, no matter what future develops.
The controversial bill also bars Tel Aviv from restricting settlement construction for "diplomatic reasons".
The Israeli Ministerial Committee for Legislation is expected to discuss the proposal on February 9. If passed, the law would be a new obstacle to the talks with the Palestinian Authority.
In December 2013, the Israeli cabinet panel endorsed another law proposed by Regev, to annex the Jordan Valley.
Israel’s illegal settlement expansion on occupied Palestinian land, is one of the sticking points in the talks with the PA.
The Palestinians demand that East al-Quds (Jerusalem) be their capital and that Israel recognize borders based on the 1967 lines, which existed before the Six-Day War, when Israel captured the West Bank and East al-Quds.
Tel Aviv, however, has refused to return to the 1967 borders and is unwilling to discuss al-Quds. It also wants to keep the settlements it has built in occupied Palestinian territories.
Israel also wants to keep its military presence in the Jordan Valley under any deal, but the Palestinians say an international force should be stationed there to guarantee security.
European Union Blocks Russian Transnational Gas Pipeline
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov denounces the European Union's plans to "review" agreements signed between Moscow and seven EU members participating in the South Flow gas pipeline.
Lavrov expresses concern and astonishment about the EU's decision to "reconsider" intergovernmental agreements between Moscow and Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Slovenia, Greece, Hungary and Serbia on the pipeline that will carry 63 billion cubic meters of gas a year.
The head of Russian diplomacy warns that Brussels' purpose is to homologate treaties with the so-called Third Strategic Package of the EU.
That document is aimed at limiting Russia's role to a mere supplier of hydrocarbons and to veto its participation in fuel distribution within Europe.
Lavrov underlines that the pipeline is Russia's contribution to European energy security, as it allows route diversification of gas transport on the continent.
He condemns EU legislation for preventing implementation of bilateral agreements, which, he says, are an inalienable part of international law and therefore cannot be reviewed unilaterally.
US BACKING OF TERRORISTS BACKFIRES BIG TIME
The US has been pressuring India to use their influence over Karzai to persuade him to sign the Bilateral Security Agreement with the US, which would allow US troops to stay in Afghanistan beyond the end of 2014.
James Dobbins, the US special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, one week before Karzai reached India, testified before a Senate committee that he hoped India would persuade Karzai to sign the BSA.
Dobbins said the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan would push the country into civil war and warned that such a scenario would lead to a "rise in extremist groups, outflow of refugees and disruptions in commerce that would threaten the region as a whole."
The US diplomat even cautioned Karzai thus: "We try to tell him that American opinion isn't exactly where he thinks it is, and that he is playing with fire."
Dobbins remarks: "His upcoming visit to India could, I think, be quite influential, because he highly respects and has good relations with the Indian government."
The US wanted Karzai to fall in line and sign the BSA by 31 December, 2013. But it has still not been signed and Karzai has bluntly told the US that he won’t be signing on the dotted line, as the US expects and wants.
Russia, China and India differ with the US view, primarily because of their concerns about the deadly web of Islamist terrorism that the US's policies may weave for the region.
India and Russia are now working on a deal to ensure that Russian military technology reaches Afghanistan to fight terrorist forces, while India pays for these military supplies.
A new strategic paradigm is rapidly evolving in India’s backyard. The US influence in the region is clearly waning while Russia, India, and China are on the ascendence.
Israel's approval of new settlement units outrages Palestinians
Palestinians are infuriated by an announcement by Israel's ministry of housing that it is tendering for 1, 200 housing units in Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, saying that the decision will derail the already fragile peace negotiations between the two sides.
Israeli Radio reports that 800 units will be built in the settlements in East Jerusalem and another 400 units in the West Bank.
The news of the new tenders comes as Israeli and Palestinian negotiators, along with US mediators, are scheduled to hold a new round of direct talks in Jerusalem tommorrow (Wednesday).
Mohamed Ishtaya, a Palestinian negotiator, told Xinhua that the Israeli decision is a deliberate blow to international and US efforts exerted to achieve peace in the region, adding "peace and settlements are contradictory and can never meet."
He warns that Israel "is only interested in keeping on illegally building," adding "the Israeli government is ignoring all the efforts to revive the peace process and make real peace in the region."
Halting settlement construction was a major condition demanded by the Palestinians for resuming the stalled peace talks. They are now hoping that the US Secretary of State John Kerry, will intervene and ask the Israeli government to end its settlement expansion, which is illegal under international law.
Kerry has earlier considered the building of settlements as an obstacle to the peace process, however, he hasn't officially ask Israel to stop.
"Israel is trying to empty the content of US-sponsored peace negotiations before they are really launched," says Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the executive committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization.
"After this, I don't believe that Palestinians are in need of any meaningless negotiations with Israel."
She accuses Israeli of trying to escape from any political commitments. "Israel is giving a priority to the program of its coalition of fanatics, at the expense of the Palestinian people's legitimate rights and at the expense of the requirements of peace," she says, referring to the pro- settlement political lobby in Israel.
On Sunday, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and the US special peace envoy to the Middle East, Martin Indyk, met in Ramallah, to prepare for the next round of peace talks.
Afghan Government Agrees to Break with NATO
The National Security Council (NSC) of Afghanistan, led by President Hamid Karzai, has agreed to end collaboration with NATO, it says in a communiqué.
The decision was made after delegates heard reports from the NSC's advisor; Rangin Dadfar Spanta, on the status of negotiations with the North Atlantic Alliance.
The declaration issued by the Afghan President's Office stresses that the covenant will only progress if Kabul's interests are taken into account and ratified immediately.
The rejected agreement is one key element within the necessary juridical framework for deployment of a mission led by NATO aimed at training, advising and supporting Afghan forces, after 2014.
Realization of a NATO/Afghanistan agreement is taking a long time, because of the delayed signing of a US-Afghanistan security agreement, to which, president Karzai has put conditions.
Among other conditions, the head of state demands the release of Afghans imprisoned in Guantanamo, a total stop to military operations against Afghans and a guarantee that the treaty will ensure peace.
NATO's Secretary General, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, says that if the two agreements "disappear", NATO troops will withdraw completely IN 2014.
PEACE PLAN "LEAKS"
Jordan’s FM: Jordan Will Not Recognize Israel As Jewish State
Jordan’s Foreign Minister Nasser Jawda, says Jordan is against recognizing Israel as a Jewish state and Jordan will not be an alternative home for Palestinians, Alray Palestinian news agency reports.
Speaking to parliament in a session on US Secretary of State John Kerry’s peace plan, Jawda repeats that Jordan will not be an "alternative home for anybody."
"There are no formulas or US documents written to solve the Arab-Israeli conflict, but a framework agreement," he stresses, noting that "it is up to Palestinians and Israelis to sign it, or not."
"Jordan is integrally involved in and has a big role in the Palestinian-Israeli talks," he adds.
Jawda stresses that Jordan is not absent from the peace negotiations and will not accept any solution that contradicts its country’s interests or national security. He adds "Jordan will not negotiate on behalf of Palestinians, regarding their envisioned state’s borders with Israel."
Jawda describes US efforts to push peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) as a "serious attempt" to reach tangible results.
Martin Indyk, the US Special Envoy for Israeli- Palestinian Negotiations, has already revealed that Kerry’s framework agreement addresses compensation for Palestinian refugees but does not say anything about a Palestinian refugees' right of return.
Indyk DOES say, that a brand new security zone is to be created between Jordan and the West Bank, with fences, sensors and unmanned aerial vehicles.
Kerry's peace plan, which will be public within weeks, involves a "semi-cancellation" of the Palestinian refugees' right of return, which will transfer the problem over to Jordan, half of whose population are of Palestinian origin, and 15% do not hold Jordanian citizenship.
SETTLEMENTS NEED CONTROL
Israeli Finance Minister Suspends Settlement Funds
Israeli Finance Minister Yair Lapid has decided to suspend the transfer of public funds to West Bank settlements, pending a probe into their alleged misuse, his office says.
Lapid's move came after it emerged that some funds earmarked for compensating West Bank communities were transferred to the settlement leadership for political activity, a ministry statement says.
The funds were intended for security and the maintenance of schools and kindergartens.
But after it emerged the funds were "allegedly being illegally channeled to the Yesha Council, which used the money for political activities - including against the government - Lapid ordered the future funding cut immediately, under this clause," his office statement says.
The minister has ordered an investigation into the matter, it adds.
PEACE DEAL OR BOYCOTT - ISRAEL's CHOICE
Israel is rejecting warnings by the US that it could face a growing boycott, if the peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority fail.
Yesterday, Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu called the boycott threats by US Secretary of State John Kerry “immoral and unjust,” adding that no pressure would force him to renounce Israel’s “vital interests.”
Earlier, two Israeli ministers lashed out at Kerry over his remarks, made at the 50th Munich Security Conference in Germany.
Speaking at the conference, Kerry warned that the boycott campaign against Israel will intensify if talks fail between the Israelis and Palestinians.
He also said that “Israel's security” is an illusion that is bound to change if the talks fail.
Israel has faced a widening boycott campaign by some European businesses over its illegal settlements on occupied Palestinian land.
Terrorist Groups in Syria Treat over 700 of Their Injured in Israeli Hospital
The Israeli army has erected a field hospital on the Golan Heights to treat injured militants belonging to the terrorist groups in Syria.
These groups have treated over 700 of their injured militants in the Israeli hospital, say Israeli media outlets.
The Zionist army has stopped media outlets from broadcasting the activities of the field hospital until now, yet allowed Channel 2 to prepare a report about it to promote it as a "humane Israeli step towards the Syrians."
The report mainly focused on Israeli intentions behind treating the militants, saying that the Israelis aim is to strengthen and deepen their relations with the terrorist groups in Syria, to keep the calm and stability which presently prevails between these groups and Israel, on the Palestinian-Syrian borders.
The report included interviews with some militants, one of whom stated:
"Zionism is not macabre, as it has been portrayed by the Syrian regime."
"The regime used to force us to believe that our enemy is all the surrounding world, yet, after the beginning of the revolution, we recognized our real friends and enemies."
OFFICIAL "WE CANNOT STOP BOYCOTTS"
Tel Aviv's current regime cannot stop the growing international anti-Israel boycott campaign over Israeli settlement building on occupied Palestinian territories, an official admits.
The Israeli Foreign Ministry official, whose name is not mentioned in the report, admits on Sunday that Europe will continue to ban Israel as long as it persists with settlements on Palestinian land.
“We cannot truly fight against the will to boycott us,” says the official, adding, “There is no way to explain the fundamental issue that troubles even our most prominent companies in the world. It is impossible to face the subject of boycotts while not facing the subject of settlements. That is the truth.”
There's a “boycott fashion in Europe against Israel” and “as long as Israel continues to build, this will persist and it will be difficult to prevent, without handling this political issue,” the official said.
The comments came after two of Europe’s biggest financial institutions boycotted transactions with Israeli companies engaged in the construction of settlements on occupied Palestinian land.
The EU has also blocked all grants and funding to any Israeli entity based in the illegal settlements.
The American Studies Association has also announced a decision to boycott Israeli institutions and academics over the discriminatory treatment of Palestinians.
Israelis are frustrated by the boycott campaign and Cabinet ministers will hold a meeting next week in an attempt to find a strategy to counter the boycotts.
The presence and continued expansion of Israeli settlements in occupied Palestinian territories, has created a major obstacle to efforts being made to establish peace in the Middle East.
Over half a million Israelis live in more than 120 illegal settlements built since Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and East al-Quds in 1967.
US fighting in more countries than ever before - Hagel says
US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel warns that China and Russia are challenging the US as they invest in their military capabilities.
“The most persistent and pressing security challenges to Europe and the US are global,” he says at the Munich Security Conference, the most important transatlantic security gathering, on Saturday.
“Nations such as China and Russia are rapidly modernizing their militaries and global defense industries, challenging our technological edge and defense partnerships around the world.”
The Pentagon chief, addressing the conference with Secretary of State John Kerry, says that the US military is reorganizing, to deal with all these new "threats".
And, notes Hagel, the US is expanding its military across the world, more than before.
“I would venture to say, that the US is more present, doing more things in more places today than maybe ever before,” Hagel says.
“How we’re doing it is different,” he adds.
(Yes - murder by special forces, and the backing of Saudi Takfiri terrorist gangs, plus using CIA run illegal killer drones, and accelerated armament production!)
New research shows that the United States, Canada and some W. European countries topped the list of arms producers in 2012.
The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) says in its report that, of the top 100 arms manufacturers, 42 are based in the US, one in Canada, and 30 in West Europe.
Arms producers in the US and Western Europe account for almost 90% of world weapons sales, the Sweden-based research institute says.
Russia increased its production by 28% in 2013.
Afghanistan: Blast Kills Three NATO Soldiers
Three soldiers with NATO die after a blast in the Afghan province of Helmand, a local government spokesperson of Omar Zwak, informs the media.
The source notes that the deceased soldiers were from Denmark.
The soldiers were killed by an explosive device activated by remote control as a NATO convoy passed through the area.
The Danish army leadership underlines that other soldiers were injured due to the blast and are currently hospitalized.
CELAC Declares Latin America and the Caribbean a Peace Zone
Latin America and the Caribbean are declared a Peace Zone region at CELAC's Second Summit in Havana.
Cuban president Raúl Castro read the declaration ratifying CELAC countries' commitment to comply with the goals and principles laid down by the UN Charter and international law.
He says the region's prosperity & stability contributes to world peace and security.
"We are aware peace is a greater good and a rightful wish for all nations, & its preservation is fundamental to the integration of L. America & the Caribbean; & a CELAC common principle and value" the document reads.
The text also highlights the relevance of the Tlatelolco Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean, establishing the world's first nuclear weapon free zone in a highly populated area, and representing a contribution to regional and international peace and security.
The document reiterates the need for a general and complete nuclear disarmament.
Castro recalls UNASUR heads of state's decision to strengthen South America as a Cooperation and Peace Zone.
The declaration reaffirms "our commitment that Latin America and the Caribbean consolidate as a peace zone, where differences among nations are solved peacefully, through dialogue and negotiation, according to international law".
The Cuban president says the peace zone includes the international organizations to which member states belong.
The document confirms a permanent commitment to find peaceful solutions to conflicts, in order to ban the threat or use of force in the region, as well as the obligation not to intervene, directly or indirectly, in other states' internal affairs.
It also calls for observance of the principles of national sovereignty, equal rights and peoples' self-determination.
The text insists on the need to foster friendly and cooperative relations, regardless of political, economic or social systems or level of development.
The text commits and urges 33 State members to act according to the signed declaration in their international conduct & relations between members.
Cuba Calls to Overcome Obstacles to World Peace at UN
Cuba at the United Nations, calls on us all to remove the obstacles to the realization of lasting world peace, such as the old interests of domination and colonialism; and to solve or remove social problems.
It is not enough to desire peace or create agencies and mechanisms to try to implement it, it's necessary to eradicate the causes conspiring against it, says Cuba's Deputy Permanent Representative, Oscar Leon, speaking at an open debate of the UN Security Council on peacekeeping.
Leon defends the urgency of coordinated efforts by the international community to overcome the dangers posed by hegemonic and imperialist domination, acts of aggression, the plundering of natural resources and colonial and neo- colonial strategies.
"We must also replace the current unjust and exclusive international order, and find ways to drop unequal exchange, discrimination, xenophobia, interventionism and violations of the right to self-determination",he says.
Regarding social issues, Leon states that conflict prevention must also involve the elimination of poverty, unemployment, hunger and inequality.
During the debate entitled Maintaining International Peace and Security, Cuba reiterates the importance of respecting the principles of the UN Charter and international law, which stipulate the sovereign equality of states, peaceful settlement of disputes and non use of force.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel joined some European authorities, putting her weight behind anti-government, pro-EU protesters in Ukraine, irrespective of calls for outsiders not to intervene.
"They are fighting for the same values that guide the European Union, and that is why they must be listened to," Merkel said.
"We support, with all the means at our disposal, efforts for a peaceful solution of the conflict and the justified demands of the opposition," she said.
Merkel’s speech supporting the opposition came straight after Russian President Putin called on outsiders not to interfere in Ukraine's internal affairs.
EGYPT WANTS "JUSTICE" TO BE SEEN
An Egyptian criminal court has decided to again delay the trial of ousted President Mohamed Morsi and 130 others, state television reports.
Top lawyer to MPs: GCHQ mass surveillance largely illegal
A substantial part of GCHQ’s dragnet snooping program is most likely illegal and was approved by government ministers despite breaching human rights and surveillance laws, a legal analysis requested by British MPs has found, The Guardian reports.
In a 32-page opinion, leading public law barrister Jemima Stratford QC warns that the UK's primary surveillance law is vague to the point of allowing intelligence agencies to ignore privacy safeguards laid out by the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).
The advice cited by The Guardian, says that the murkiness of UK law has created a situation where GCHQ staff are able to rely on “gaps in the current statutory framework to commit serious crime with impunity."
The paper explicitly warns that GCHQ staff who passed on intelligence which was later used in the commission of a US drone strike against “non-combatants” could face dire consequences.
"An individual involved in passing that information is likely to be an accessory to murder. It is well arguable, on a variety of different bases, that the government is obliged to take reasonable steps to investigate that possibility," The Guardian cites the advice as saying.
The opinion also suggests that the UK might well consider publishing a Memorandum of Understanding with any country it shares intelligence with, which could clarify what the data is used for under UK law, and outline how the data would be stored & destroyed.
All 46 members of the all-party parliamentary group on drones, chaired by Labour MP Tom Watson, were sent the legal advice.
The cross-party parliamentary group reportedly sought the legal advice after receiving reports that the CIA relied on NSA surveillance to conduct the CIA’s clandestine drone program.
The advice, based on five hypothetical scenarios, found multiple areas in which the GCHQ had legally overstepped its bounds under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA) which establishes the powers of public bodies to carry out surveillance and investigation.
- GCHQ is not allowed to intercept “internal” contents data between two British residents under RIPA, even if the data is routed via a transatlantic cable;
- GCHQ can intercept metadata and “external” contents data under RIPA, although this is considered a disproportionate interference with Article 8 of the ECHR;
- The executive has retained a largely unrestrained discretion to permit the transfer of UK data to the NSA under RIPA;
- RIPA does not place any restriction on the uses to which intercept material might be put, other than its admissibility in court;
- The current framework for the retention, use and destruction of metadata is inadequate and potentially unlawful.
- The government has an obligation to investigate & prevent UK agents, visiting forces and visiting agents, becoming “accidental” accessories to murder under domestic law, if data or facilities are knowingly given to the US, even though it will be used in a drone strike that is most likely unlawful under UK law;
The advice also noted that RIPA has been left behind as advances in technology have rendered virtually meaningless the difference between “contents” and “communications” data.
It says RIPA gives “too wide a discretion" to UK Foreign Secretary William Hague, and "provides almost no meaningful restraint on the exercise of executive discretion in respect of external communications."
Such surveillance may also be a breach of the ECHR, it adds.
"We consider the mass interception of external contents and communications data is unlawful. The indiscriminate interception of data, solely by reference to the request of the executive, is a disproportionate interference with the private life of the individuals concerned."
In June 2013, media reports using thousands of documents leaked by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden extensively detailed the surveillance activities of GCHQ and its larger US counterpart, the NSA.
One of the key revelations focused on Operation Tempora, a GCHQ program that mines vast amounts of information by tapping into undersea cables that carry internet and phone traffic passing in and out of the UK.
GCHQ and Hague, have repeatedly insisted the agency acts in accordance with the law.
Last year, Hague told MPs: "It has been suggested GCHQ uses our partnership with the US to get around UK law, obtaining information that they cannot legally obtain in the UK. I wish to be absolutely clear that this accusation is baseless."
GCHQ also maintains all its work is "carried out in accordance with a strict legal and policy framework which ensures that our activities are authorized, necessary and proportionate, and that there is rigorous oversight, including from the secretary of state, the interception and intelligence Services commissioners and the parliamentary intelligence and security committee."
Last week, however, the ECHR ordered UK ministers to provide submissions on mass GCHQ’s surveillance programs to determine whether they had violated the European convention on human rights.
Meanwhile, as GCHQ chief Iain Lobban announces he will step down by year’s end, the Foreign Office officially denies that his departure was linked to public anger over the Snowden revelations.
UN chief hails new gov't in Central African Republic
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomes the establishment of a new government in the CAR, saying this "offers a fresh opportunity to move the political process forward" in the war-torn country.
Ban congratulates interim President Catherine Samba-Panza and PM Andre Nzapayeke for their efforts to put the transition back on track, says a statement issued by Ban's spokesperson.
The CAR put in a caretaker government Monday in a bid to pull the country out of its crisis and organize general elections by February 2015.
The secretary-general, currently in Cuba for a CELAC summit, repeats the readiness of the UN to support CAR transitional authorities in their efforts to ensure the security and the welfare of the people, the statement says.
Ban says he "remains deeply concerned about the ongoing sectarian violence in the country and the humanitarian crisis that affects over half of the population."
"He calls for determined national and international efforts to stop the violence & overcome the crisis," adds the statement.
"The secretary-general reiterates the importance of ensuring the success of the African-led International Support Mission to the Central African Republic (MISCA), which is playing a critical role in providing security on the ground," the statement says.
"He appeals once again to all those in a position to do so, to provide financial and in-kind assistance to MISCA and to announce their contributions at the MISCA donor conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on 1 February," it adds.
The secretary-general appreciates the timely adoption of a new Security Council resolution on the CAR which reinforces the mandate of the UN peace-building mission in the country.
BINUCA provides for sanctions on individuals involved in violations of human rights and of the arms embargo, and authorizes the EU's troop deployment to the country, the statement says.
"The Council's sustained engagement will be crucial to the efforts of the United Nations to restore peace and stability in the country," it says.
Ethnic tensions in the north of the CAR and the presence of the Lord's Resistance Army, an armed group known for its brutal tactics, have added to instability, which has crippled the country for decades and driven people away from their homes.
The United Nations has been supporting the CAR for over a decade. Efforts on the ground are led by the BINUCA, a field office of the UN Department of Political Affairs.
The BINUCA operates under a mandate from the Security Council to help consolidate peace, foster national reconciliation, and strengthen democratic institutions, as well as strengthening the promotion and protection of human rights.
Plagued by decades of instability and fighting, the CAR witnessed a resurgence of violence last December when Seleka rebels launched a series of attacks, culminating in March when then President Francois Bozize was forced to flee the city as they seized control of the capital.
A transitional government, headed by PM Nicolas Tiangaye, was entrusted with restoring law and order, and paving the way for democratic elections.
On January 10th, 2013, the interim President Michel Djotodia resigned... as did Tiangaye.
Armed clashes in the northeast part of the country having increased since August 2013, the CAR now faces a dire humanitarian situation, affecting some 4.6 million people.
In early December, the UN Security Council authorized the deployment of French and African troops to restore order in Bangui.
SERBIA DISSOLVES PARLIAMENT
New elections are to take place "soon".
2014 will see Gitmo close, says Obama
US President Obama vowed Tuesday night in his State of the Union address, to use all his executive powers to push his agenda, if Congress doesn’t agree with his priorities.
In his address before a joint session of Congress with millions of Americans watching on television, Obama put urgency behind his pledge to close the Guantanamo Bay prison, saying:
“With the Afghan war ending, this needs to be the year Congress lifts the remaining restrictions on detainee transfers and we close the prison at Guantanamo Bay.”
Israeli Occupiers Arrest Dozens of Palestinians in West Bank
Israeli troops arrested, early this morning, in West Bank cities, 22 men accused of terrorist activities, and the government spokesperson refrained from identifying them.
The troops, reinforced by gun vehicles, burst into civilian homes in Au Dis, al Eirariya, E. Jerusalem, Beita and Urif, Hani Halabiyyah, spokesperson of the Youth Movement in occupied Jerusalem, tells the press.
Various houses were invaded by troops that, before entering, shot tear grenades at will, say witnesses.
After the raids, during which there were clashes with the local population, soldiers pasted fliers to the walls with photos of detainees and their families, warning them of reprisals that will affect their lives.
The method was abundantly used by Nazi troops in the cities they occupied during World War II, like public executions, to terrify the populations, she recalls.
PEACE DEADLINE APPROACHES FOR ISRAEL
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is failing to keep his government in order, as US Secretary of State John Kerry pushes the peace negotiations.
Over the past few days Netanyahu has been accused by Justice Minister and peace talks chief negotiator Tzipi Livni, of not negotiating with the Palestinians in good faith.
Livni claims that Netanyahu is only conducting the negotiations to expose Palestinians as the rejecters of peace.
Naftali Bennet, chair of the powerful right-wing HaBayit HaYehudi (The Jewish Home) party, is now publicly criticizing Netanyahu's proposal, which calls for Jewish settlers to become citizens of a future Palestinian state, instead of being relocated.
Netanyahu, most experts argue, has basically been trying to buy time, as much as possible. But now, because of Kerry's efforts, he is at the point where he has to give clear answers.
If the Palestinians say yes, even conditionally, Netanyahu will have to declare his own position and then he might lose his coalition and have to form a new one, or go to elections.
Kerry is expected to present a framework for a final peace deal within a couple of weeks.
When he announced last year that negotiations were to be resumed, a nine-month timeframe was outlined that is scheduled to end in March.
'Gitmo' must close during Obama's term - Russian Foreign Ministry
Guantanamo Bay detention facility should be closed down before President Barack Obama leaves power, insists Russia’s Foreign Ministry.
A Russian delegation that recently inspected the facility, saw grave violations of basic human rights.
“Our visit to Guantanamo has convinced us all over again that this so-called prison must be shut down at the earliest possible time,” says the Russian Foreign Ministry's Commissioner for Human Rights, Konstantin Dolgov, at a media briefing.
“It is an installation where fundamental human rights are brazenly violated,” he says.
According to Dolgov, the 155 inmates currently imprisoned in Guantanamo, are denied fair justice.
“We have a resolute desire to shut this prison down before President Obama leaves office,” says Dolgov, and calls on the US authorities to “redouble efforts” to make this come true.
On January 17th, a delegation of high-ranking Russian diplomats and representatives of the judicial system was allowed to into Guantanamo Bay prison, in an unprecedented move by the US.
It took 3 years of negotiations between Russian and US diplomats, before this historic visit could take place.
The Russian visitors toured the facility and spoke to the commanders of the detention centre, along with senior representatives of the US Defense Dept.
The delegation was allowed to talk to the only Russian citizen in Guantanamo, Ravil Mingazov - arrested in Pakistan in 2002. He has been detained in 'Gitmo' prison for over a decade, without charge.
The delegation’s basic aim was to ensure Mingazov’s earliest possible release, and there is a good chance that US authorities will review Mingazov’s case soon.
“We will continue our contacts with the US administration on that issue,” promises the Commissioner for Human Rights, adding that Russia “would welcome it if all Guantanamo prisoners were freed along with the Russian citizen (Mingazov).”
Konstantin Dolgov told journalists that the Obama administration is “firmly resolved” to shut down the Guantanamo detention facility and “turn over this page of American history.”
In 2013 the Obama administration was forced to re-focus its attention on Guantanamo Bay prison after a majority of detainees went on hunger strike.
At its peak in July last year, 106 of the then 166 detainees were on hunger strike, with 45 of them being force-fed.
The hunger strike sparked a worldwide debate on the future of Guantanamo, pushing the US Obama administration to find a solution to this humiliating judicial "entanglement".
Raúl Castro Highlights Optimism and Confidence in Cuba's Socialist Future
Cuban president Raúl Castro says the container terminal at Mariel Port, and the infrastructure accompanying it, are a concrete example of the optimism and confidence with which Cubans see a socialist and prosperous future.
Together with Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff, the Cuban leader cut the ribbon and officially inaugurated the first section covering 700 km.
The president stressed the importance of the opening of the container terminal on National Hero José Martí's anniversary and in the context ofthe Second Summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC).
The Cuban president thanked all designers, builders, investors, national & international operators, who concluded an arduous task to finish the terminal, which is now part of the Cuban and Latin American port system.
He also recalled the important funding on advantageous terms provided by Brazil during President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva's administration.
On behalf of all Cubans, he thanked President Rousseff for her country's solidarity and aid, on such a significant project for the Cuban and Latin American economy.
He highlighted that Mariel container terminal will be operated by one of the world's largest port operators, bringing the expectation that efficiency, security and quality services, will be guaranteed.
He said Mariel Special Development Zone will become the main gateway for Cuba's foreign trade, and a chance to drive the nation's economy with its aim to replace imports, raise exports, create jobs and gain access to cutting-edge technology.
Other regional leaders in Cuba for CELAC, also attended the inauguration.
UKRAINE RESCUERS Invoked Geneva Convention after Attacks
Ukraine's State Service for Exceptional Situations invoked the Geneva Convention of 1949 - on the need to safeguard civilians - after attacks by anti-government extremists on public servants.
"We call for the work of firefighters and other forces to not be hindered, including that of physicians and members of religious sects that are working to put out fires and save lives endangered in the middle of a conflict that began in Kiev, but has already spread to other regions," said their communique.
"Such negative actions by radical protesters are criminal and have already caused seven injuries to first-responders in recent days," said the communique sent to the media.
The statement called on those participating in the clashes to act with responsibility and avoid using direct fire in places where large numbers of people were gathered.
Vitali Zajarchenko, then Minister of the Interior, said in a statement on the ministry's website, that radical demonstrators had stored large amounts of a liquid with properties similar to napalm.
Hundreds of police officers were injured in the Maidan riots in Kiev ... 118 of them hospitalized, with head injuries, fractures, burns, stab wounds and poisoning by unidentified substances.
SURPRISE, SURPRISE !
Egypt’s military officials have approved the army chief, Field Marshal Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, as a candidate to run for president later this year, state media says.
The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) met for several hours on Monday to discuss the country’s security situation, and Sisi’s nomination for the presidency.
"The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, by consensus mandated the defense minister to stand in presidential elections,” the state media news agency says.
The statement came just hours after Egypt’s interim President Adly Mansour promoted Sisi to Marshal - the military’s highest rank.
Shortly after the announcement, Egypt’s deputy Prime Minister Ziad Bahaa El-Din resigned from his post in protest against Sisi’s candidacy.
Experts say Sissi may sweep the vote due to a lack of alternatives, as well as full support from Egypt's media including the lack of any criticism of the general allowed in the country.
Tens of thousands of MB activists and their supporters staged nationwide demonstrations on Saturday to mark the anniversary of the 2011 revolution that toppled former dictator Hosni Mubarak.
They demand Morsi’s reinstatement now, and the release of Muslim Brotherhood members arrested by police.
Mikdad: Assad to Remain President Until Syrian People Say Otherwise
Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mikdad stresses that only the Syrian people can decide President Bashar al-Assad's future.
During a press conference on the sidelines of the Geneva II conference on Syria, Mikdad says Assad will remain president unless the people decide otherwise at the next election.
"The president of the Syrian Arab Republic stays until the Syrian people says something else," he says, stating the government position that Assad can stay and win another election.
"This is a red line. If some people think we are coming here to give them the keys of Damascus, they are wrong," he adds.
Mikdad also says that those seeking to demonize the Syrian government have misled the international media.
The Syrian official says international public opinion and the world's media have been misguided in every possible way since unrest broke out almost 3 years ago.
He says the government delegation has a sincere desire to resolve the Syrian crisis and end the bloodshed there.
Meanwhile, a main highway has been retaken from terrorists and dozens of families return to their houses in Barzeh neighborhood in Damascus after accomplishing national reconciliation.
The families had run away leaving their houses in Barzeh neighborhood after acts by armed terrorists.
The families re-entered their houses after the authorities in Damascus province restored all services and repaired the infrastructure.
SISI MOVES TO COMPLETE ARMY COUP
Sisi is "promoted" to Marshal Sisi - by the President he appointed.
Egypt will hold presidential elections before any parliamentary polls, the interim President, Adly Mansour, also announces, on Sunday.
The decision runs contrary to a roadmap imposed by the Egyptian Army, after it deposed Egypt's first democratically elected President, Mohamed Morsi, in July, 2013, after mass protests.
According to Egypt’s new constitution, a presidential vote is to be held before the second half of April this year.
West complicit in Egypt’s mass murder
The Egyptian Health Ministry says over 50 people have been killed and 100s injured in the country in clashes between security forces, opponents and supporters of ousted President Mohamed Morsi.
On Saturday, tens of thousands of Muslim Brotherhood activists and their supporters staged nationwide demonstrations to mark the anniversary of the 2011 revolution that toppled former dictator Hosni Mubarak.
The demonstrators want Morsi’s reinstatement and demanded that Brotherhood activists be released after being arrested by police. They chanted slogans against army chief, General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.
Clashes between protesters and security forces broke out in several cities. Police used violent force against demonstrators.
A number of pro-coup protesters also attacked Morsi’s supporters with stones and bullets.
Deaths were reported in the cities of Cairo, Alexandria, Giza and Minya. Most fatalities occurred in the capital and its suburbs.
At least 300 protesters were reportedly arrested across the nation.
Egypt has been experiencing unrelenting violence since July 3, when the army toppled Morsi’s government, suspended the constitution, and dissolved the parliament. It also appointed the head of the Supreme Constitutional Court, Adly Mahmoud Mansour, as an interim president.
The interim government has launched a bloody crackdown on Morsi’s supporters and arrested thousands of Brotherhood members, including the party’s senior leaders.
Egyptian universities have also been the scene of violent clashes, with students calling for the reinstatement of Morsi and demanding an end to the crackdown on Brotherhood supporters.
On December 25th, the military-appointed government listed the MB as a “terrorist” organization over alleged involvement in a deadly bombing, without investigating the case, or providing any evidence.
Amnesty International has criticized the Egyptian authorities for using an “unprecedented scale” of violence on protesters and dealing “a series of damaging blows to human rights.”
According to the UK-based rights group, 1,400 people have been killed in political violence since Morsi’s ouster, "most of them due to excessive force used by security forces."
US' THREAT OF FORCE ON IRAN "ILLEGAL, BREAKS UN CHARTER, AND WILL SPEED US COLLAPSE"
A senior Iranian military commander has dismissed US Sec. of State John Kerry’s latest threat of military action against Iran over its nuclear program.
The commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Major General Mohammad Ali Ja’fari, said on Saturday that the US MUST NEVER underestimate Iran's capacity to deal with a US invasion.
Iran's response would be "swift and stunning."
He added: “Mr. Kerry must know that direct battle with the US is the biggest dream of pious, revolutionary people across the world.
"Your threats offer our revolutionary people the best opportunity,” said Ja’fari.
He added that “wise politicians” in the US are unlikely to let the “ridiculous military option” remain on the table.
Ja’fari advised Kerry to stop repeating “bankrupt strategies like the use of military power” in order to avoid an accelerated collapse of US civilization.
UK WAKING UP TO US USING "RAF" BASES! UK lawmakers want stricter scrutiny of US military bases in the UK, which are believed to be used for mass spying and drone 'kills'.
Draft legislation has been tabled by the UK’s 3 major parties, that requires the government to review the rules under which the US bases operate.
“These amendments are designed to enable light to be shone on an area causing increasing public concern.
They will enable proper scrutiny in Parliament so ministers responsible can decide whether steps should be taken to review laws and agreements which appear increasingly outdated,” Lord Hodgson, Conservative lawmaker, tells The Independent.
The growing calls for tougher rules come in the wake of leaks that some US bases in the UK were used to funnel information gained by spying on Europe, back to the US.
The UK government itself is also accused of complicity in the US drone operations and the US spying on European nations.
Last year, The Independent disclosed that Royal Air Force Station (RAF) Croughton - the US Air Force base and CIA relay station in Northamptonshire - was utilized to transfer information gained by monitoring German Chancellor Angela Merkel's 'phone.
The UK's Defense Ministry, which is tightening security around RAF Croughton, has denied the role of US bases in the UK, in US drone strikes.
The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, a UK- based non-profit news organization, says over 2,400 people have been killed in US drone attacks in the last five years.
US whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed that RAF Croughton is used as a part of the Special Collection Service, the network of embassy-based listening stations.
“It is a scandal that there is so little oversight by the British government of potentially criminal activities taking place on our own soil,” says Kat Craig, legal director of campaigning group Reprieve.
ZIONIST REGIME WANTS TO PULL DOWN AL AQSA MOSQUE
An Israeli official says the Tel Aviv regime is considering replacing the al-Aqsa Mosque in al-Quds (Jerusalem) with a temple.
Minister of Housing and Construction Uri Ariel on Friday called for the construction of what he called "the Third Temple" to replace the holy site.
Ariel said the first and second temples were destroyed many years ago, so a third one needs to be built now.
“Al-Aqsa Mosque is currently in the place of the temple,” he claimed.
Al-Aqsa Mosque is considered to be the third holiest site in the Muslim world.
Palestinians denounce the plan as desecration.
They say it is part of the Israeli regime’s ongoing attempts to distort all Arab and Islamic history.
Palestinians argue that al-Quds is the capital of a future Palestinian independent state, and that its heritage should remain intact.
NEW YORK MAYOR OWNED BY ISRAEL
The new mayor of New York City has told members of the American-Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) that part of his “job description is to be a defender of Israel.”
Bill de Blasio, who took office on January 1st, made the remarks in an unannounced speech at an AIPAC gathering on Thursday, The New York Times reports.
According to the Times, reporters were denied attendance and even a reporter who tried to attend the gathering was escorted away by security guards.
Blasio, who faced sharp criticism from reporters, has said that the organizers of the event did not want any journalists to attend the gathering.
AIPAC is the most powerful pro-Israel lobby group in the US that has recently intensified its anti-Iran efforts on Capitol Hill in order to convince US senators to co-sponsor a new sanctions bill against Iran.
The bill was introduced by Sen. Bob Menendez (D-New Jersey) and Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Illinois) in mid December but is unlikely to ever get a vote on the Senate floor because key members of the Senate Democratic leadership oppose it.
US President Barack Obama has already said that he would veto the legislation which, says congress.gov, has 58 co-sponsors.
However, AIPAC, which wants to sabotage diplomatic efforts to resolve the West’s ten-year-old dispute with Iran over its nuclear energy program, is attempting an “open revolt against the White House’s Iran diplomacy,” according to Foreign Policy’s The Cable.
AIPAC even attacked a pro-Israel Jewish Democrat in the House of Representatives, Florida congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, for being silent over the new anti- Iran legislation.
According to The Cable, the AIPAC’s attack on Schultz “raised eyebrows among some current and former AIPAC officials.”
KARZAI TO US - BRING PEACE OR GET OUT
Addressing a press conference in Kabul, Saturday, Afghan President Hamid Karzai says he won't sign a bilateral security deal with the US, if Washington does not guarantee peace in Afghanistan.
He says signing the deal will have no positive outcome if peace and security aren't guaranteed.
"If the US is not willing to accept our conditions on the BSA (so-called Bilateral Security Agreement) they can leave anytime - and Afghanistan will do without foreigners," he says.
Karzai lambasts the US for pursuing wrong policies in its so-called fight against terrorism.
The Afghan president says it will be intolerable for Afghans if innocent people are killed even after the security agreement is signed.
The Afghan president warns that pressure or psychological warfare will not make him sign.
Karzai has previously accused the US of not providing the country with military supplies, in its attempts to pressure him to sign.
Karzai condemns the US military detentions in Afghanistan, describing the notorious prison at the Bagram Airbase in eastern Afghanistan as a 'Taliban-making factory'.
The Afghan president says inmates at Bagram have been insulted and tortured by US forces.
NATO Sec-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen has urged the Afghan government to sign the BSA with the US - as a matter of "urgency".
The deal allows the US to keep thousands of its troops after the 2014 withdrawal date.
Afghan activists say the security treaty will pave the way for a prolonged US military presence in the war-ravaged country.
Afghan political figures have also heaped scorn on US-led forces, for committing unforgivable crimes against Afghan women and children, since illegally invading the country in 2001.
IRAN: FORCE IN SYRIA MUST BE NO OPTION
Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has urged the withdrawal of all foreign-backed militants from Syria, saying the Syrian people should be allowed to determine their own destiny without foreign interference.
“I ask all foreign forces to withdraw, to allow the Syrian people to decide their own future,” Zarif told a panel discussion held on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, on Friday.
Foreign forces should stop funding and supplying weapons to militants in Syria, said the top Iranian diplomat.
He also stated that any military option to end Syria's crisis should be off the table.
Zarif dismissed claims by US Secretary of State John Kerry, who had accused Syrian President Bashar al-Assad of preparing the ground for terrorists to enter the country.
"Extremism is a product of foreign intervention and the product of short-sightedness. Those who created the Taliban [in Afghanistan] ended up paying with their blood for what they created.
The flames created in our region will engulf everybody," Zarif said.
He emphasized that those who are calling on President Assad to go, are responsible for the crisis in the Middle East region, which has caused innumerable deaths.
Earlier, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani told Swiss TV station RTS on the sidelines of the WEF that the fate of Syria needs to be determined solely by the Syrian people, rejecting any foreign interference in the future of the Arab country.
“I believe that only Syrian people are allowed to decide and nobody else can pass a judgment on the future of Syria,” President Rouhani said.
“Decision-making is for the Syrian people to do and they are the ones who should determine their own future, and, in doing so, the first condition is that bloodshed be stopped... and certain countries give up supporting terrorism,” the Iranian president added.
Syria has been gripped by a deadly crisis since 2011. According to reports, Western powers and their regional allies - especially Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey - are supporting the militants inside the country.
The UN says more than four million Syrians will be forced out of their homes in 2014 by the escalating conflict in the country, that has killed more than 100,000 people and displaced millions, so far.
AFGHAN SUPPLY LINE STILL BLOCKED
Supporters of the Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Party, which controls the northwestern province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in Pakistan, continue to block a supply route for US-led NATO forces stationed in neighboring Afghanistan, Press TV reports.
The PTI activists, who are against the deadly US drone strikes in Pakistan, have blocked one of the main NATO routes on the outskirts of the province’s capital, Peshawar, since Nov 2013.
Protesters spend days and nights stopping all travelling lorries and checking them to ensure they are not carrying supplies for US-led forces in Afghanistan, before clearing them to pass through the province.
The continuation of the blockage comes as the protesters and their leaders in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, have been under intense pressure from the EU and Washington, as well as the Pakistani government, to open the supply line.
The blockade is disrupting the withdrawal of heavy equipment of US-led forces from Afghanistan. Analysts say if this continues, Washington might have to leave much of its heavy military equipment, in Afghanistan.
PTI members say US drones have killed thousands of innocent civilians and left their families in endless mental trauma.
Jameel Abbasi, one of the PTI leaders, told Press TV's correspondent in Pakistan, that the route will remain cut off until the US stops its drone attacks.
The government of Pakistan insists that it is making an all-out effort to stop the strikes.
Washington says the CIA-run drone strikes primarily kill Taliban militants who threaten US-led forces in Afghanistan; however, the figures show that Pakistani civilians are more often the victims of the non- UN-sanctioned attacks.
The slaughter of Pakistani civilians, including women and children, in US drone strikes, has strained relations between Islamabad and Washington, and Pakistani officials have complained to the US administration on numerous occasions.
In September 2012, a report by Stanford Law School and the New York University School of Law gave an alarming account of the effect that killer drone strikes have on ordinary people in Pakistan’s tribal areas.
“The number of ‘high-level’ targets killed as a percentage of total casualties is extremely low -- estimated at just two percent,” the report noted.
The UN says US-operated drone strikes in Pakistan and some other countries, pose a growing challenge to the rule of international law.
SYRIA BEATING TERROR
The first passenger plane has landed at Aleppo International Airport, after the army restored stability and security to the surrounding areas.
Works to reverse the damage caused by terrorists' attacks were also carried out.
OVER 2,000 POUNDS FOR ARREST ATTEMPT ON BLAIR
Despite failing to arrest Tony Blair for ‘crimes against peace’ last Friday, the London barperson who attempted the citizen’s arrest on Blair, is awarded a quarter of the bounty on Blair's head, for keeping the issue of double standards alive in the media.
The award should come in handy, now that Twiggy Garcia, London DJ-turned-barperson, has quit his job.
Website Arrestblair.org, creator, George Monbiot, says Garcia rose to the challenge and deserves the money even for a failed attempt, as it still serves to keep the issue of the former UK PM’s alleged war crimes alive, while criminals from ‘weaker nations’ get prosecuted all the time, for lesser crimes.
FARC-EP Denounces Killing of Patriotic March Activists
The FARC-EP denounces today the Colombian Government''s extermination of political activists of Marcha Patriotica (the Patriotic March) movement and considers such actions to be a negative sign within the context of peace talks.
"For the peace process to avoid ending up being a farce or a comedy, or simply empty words about the expansion of democracy, it is urgent that the Government stops its vicious crusade against Patriotic March," says the insurgent delegation that has been participating in peace talks with the Colombian Executive for 14 months.
"We are speaking with unease from Havana, where we have signed a partial agreement with the Government of Juan Manuel Santos to expand democracy & political participation in Colombia," say the guerrillas.
The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia People's Army (FARC-EP) considers such killings as a denial of agreed-upon political participation, a disregard for the duties of the State, and an extremely bad sign that continues to undermine confidence in the word of the Government.
"We cannot tolerate that, amid a peace process, the Patriotic March movement should be systematically annihilated, as occurred with the Patriotic Union," the guerrillas say, recalling the state genocide in the middle of the 1980s.
"There is a vital need in Colombia to destroy the national Security Doctrine, the concept of an internal enemy and of paramilitarism, as factors that foster State terrorism," the guerrillas say.
"It is necessary to start implementing what has been agreed, for the peace process to avoid becoming just empty words.
It is the State's duty to protect citizens' lives and guarantee the right to political choice in Colombia," they say.
The Geneva ll conference on Syria was shadowed by clashes and accusations.
Bashar Jaafari, Permanent Representative of Syria to the UN, told journalists he was disappointed at the format of the ministerial meeting. Most of the 40 participants were "anti-Syria delegations", and their speeches bore "provocative and repetitive statements based on hatred towards the Syrian government", he said.
A preliminary list disclosed less than 30 countries attending the Geneva II conference, apart from organizations. "They added 10 more countries, but excluded Iran," Jaafari said.
He slashed the meeting as failing to encourage national political dialogue, and as "counter- productive, not positive at all". "We need hope to put an end to terrorism," he said.
Earlier at the meeting, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem urged the international community to "stop supporting armed opposition" in Syria, noting that some countries at the conference have "Syrian blood on their hands".
He spoke of the atrocities of the extremists, and accused those who, under the cover of revolution, try to fan tension in the nation.
The speech was followed by Ahmed Jarba, head of the Syrian National Coalition, the country's opposition bloc: "Mass killings continue in Syria. Can one stand? This is not our choice to bear arms," he said.
But the focus of disputes between the two sides was the role of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Muallem said upon his arrival in Geneva that the subject of the status of the president is a "red-line" and cannot be touched.
"Nobody in this world has the right to withdraw the legitimacy of a president or government - other than the Syrians themselves," he said.
John Kerry, US Secretary of State said the President has lost legitimacy and "You can not save Syria as long as Assad remains" he told media at the press conference.
But many participants spoke of the positive sign that - for the first time in three years - the warring sides agreed to sit down and talk.
"It is not easy to sit around the table after so much bloodshed and destruction," said Ban who chaired the conference's first day.
"Almost everyone with a means to influence the cause of this country was in the same room, under the auspices of the United Nations. That moment is historic," he said.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov urged participants to "do everything to help the Syrian government and the opposition to pool efforts with the objective of eradicating terrorism".
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said that the path of peace talks between the different parties from Syria is bound to be tortuous, with twists and turns, therefore confidence, patience and persistence are needed to find a middle way.
The Syrian government also expresses good will. "We hope to reach an agreement with the opposition," said Syrian Information Minister Omran al-Zohbi, although he said it would not be easy "to produce a solution - the political process needs time."
Another step will be taken on Friday, when the two Syrian parties will engage in talks chaired by the joint special envoy of the UN and the Arab League chief, Lakhdar Brahimi, which is a more difficult task.
Brahimi says he is going to meet both parties separately today to see if they should go straight to meetings or keep talking separately.
"We have a road-map in the communique," he says, hoping the schedule on Friday won't change.
EYES ON THE PRIZE
While the world's media focuses on Ban Ki Moon's treatment of the Iranians and his interuption of the Syrian foreign minister's speech, plus the "bought and paid for" nature of the terrorists' leaders... others come intending peace:
South Africa remains steadfast in its belief that there can be no military solution to the conflict in Syria, the government says.
"South Africa believes that democracy is an unassailable right of the Syrian people," the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) said in a statement.
The South African government is committed to encouraging all parties involved in the current conflict in Syria to engage in a process of all- inclusive national dialogue, free of any form of violence, intimidation or outside interference aimed at government change, in order to satisfy the legitimate democratic aspirations of the Syrian people, said the statement.
Geneva ll is a welcome step in the right direction toward bringing an end to the suffering of the Syrian people, said Clayson Monyela, spokesperson for DIRCO.
"South Africa believes it is essential that a political path be supported by a united, cohesive international effort towards a Syrian-led, negotiated political transition aimed at establishing a democratic and pluralistic society in which minorities are protected," Monyela said.
"The situation in Syria is evolving into one of the worst humanitarian disasters in recent times, with severe political and economic consequences for the entire region."
The South African government welcomes the opportunity to participate in the Geneva II Conference, which is long-overdue, he said.
GENEVA ll GLASS HALF FULL?
Both the Syrian government and opposition are embarking on dialogue for the first time since the eruption of conflict in Syria three years ago.
"The success chances are high... we could either see full success of the conference or half success," Hmaidi Abdullah, political expert, tells Xinhua.
He says there are 3 issues: the first is the military situation on the ground, the second is the humanitarian file, and the third is the formation of a transitional government.
Abdullah says the recent proposal of Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem about a ceasefire in Aleppo and a possible prisoner swap is an indicator that a halt to military operations is possible, if the rebels commit to a ceasefire.
Abdullah says such a proposal is welcomed by the superpowers, which means a solution for the ongoing battles could be within reach.
Abdullah says that, following the government's acceptance to allow in relief aid to a number of besieged areas in Syria, the humanitarian issue is also looking less intractable.
He says aid convoys are entering besieged areas in Syria, and negotiations are underway between government and local communities in those areas seeking a solution, marking the beginning of real reconciliation on the ground in some areas.
Syrian state media has recently been reporting the surrender of tens of armed rebels in some hotspots of Damascus as part of deals reached with the Syrian officials.
On the third file in the Geneva II conference, Abdulla says a transitional government will be discussed and now there are two options:
"An agreement to form the transitional government will be reached, and in this case we can say that the Geneva II conference has 100% succeeded, or it will not reach an agreement about government and in this case we can say that the conference succeeded 50%, since at least the humanitarian and military files would probably be solved."
NO HIDING PLACE FOR WAR CRIMINALS
A barman in London makes an attempt to arrest former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair.
Twiggy Garcia, who works at the Tramshed restaurant in East London, noticed the former prime minister eating with friends and family at the restaurant on Friday night.
“My heart rate increased when I found out he was in the building; there was an eerie presence, which some of the other staff noticed too. It wasn’t like any other night. I couldn’t believe he was there.
His security were sitting at the bar directly in front of me and I got nervous because I thought they overheard me say, ‘Should I citizen’s arrest him?’,” Garcia told the monthly Vice Magazine.
He went over to Blair’s table and told him that he was responsible for the illegal war in Iraq and the mass murder of Iraqi civilians.
“I went over to him, put my hand on his shoulder and said, ‘Mr. Blair, this is a citizen’s arrest for a crime against peace, namely your decision to launch an unprovoked war against Iraq. I am inviting you to accompany me to a police station to answer the charge’,” he said.
Blair repeatedly changed the subject, he added.
Garcia decided to end the conversation when “one of his (Blair’s) sons got up and went to get plain-clothes security from downstairs.”
As the fifth UK citizen who has tried to arrest Tony Blair for war crimes, Garcia said his goal was to remind people that the former premier is a war criminal.
Tony Blair is accused of lying to the public about Iraq’s potential threat, knowing that former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein had no weapons of mass destruction.
BAN KI MOON BOWS TO ZIONISTS...
US seeking to form puppet gov’t in Syria
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon reversed his invitation to Iran to participate in Geneva ll - after pressure from the US.
The US, UK, Saudi Arabia and the foreign- backed Syrian opposition, were all strongly opposed to Iran’s participation in the event.
The US said the UN must rescind its invitation - unless Tehran publicly backs the 2012 road- map to establish a transitional government in Syria. The Western sponsored so-called Syrian National Council, threatened to boycott the Geneva II conference entirely.
Russia's Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, says the talks resemble “hypocrisy”, without Iran's participation.
"Among the countries also invited were Australia, Mexico, the Republic of Korea, South Africa, Japan, Brazil, India, Indonesia, and many others.
So if there is no Iran in this list… I think the peace talks resemble hypocrisy," Lavrov said.
He stressed that Iran is one of the countries with a direct interest in a settlement of the Syrian crisis “without any more damage to the stability of this most important region of the world."
Iran's Foreign Ministry Spokesperson, Marzieh Afkham, said Iran would participate in the talks without accepting any preconditions.
“We accept no precondition for participating in the Geneva II [conference] and, based on the official invitation [we received], Iran will take part in the conference without [any] preconditions,” she stated.
Syria has been in deadly crisis since 2011. According to reports, the Western powers and their regional allies -- especially Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey -- are supporting armed gangs operating inside the country.
Iran --- Ban's decision "regrettable":
"Unfortunately, Ban Ki-moon came under pressure after the announcement of the invitation to Iran," Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said.
He added that the UN chief "rescinded the invitation as a result of the pressure exercised on him."
Ban's "lack of courage to state the reason for the rescinding of the invitation of Iran to participate in Geneva II, is more regrettable than the [act of] rescinding the very invite."
"We said from the start, that we accept no precondition for Iran's presence at the Geneva II meeting, since Iran has an important role in this region and they cannot ignore this role," says the top Iranian diplomat.
But they did. And put the whole world straight back on course for war.
Even before this, Iran's ambassador to the UN, Mohammad Khazaee, expressed his doubts that the Geneva 2 conference could settle the conflict in Syria.
“I’m not very optimistic that the Geneva 2 conference might solve anything in Syria,” the diplomat told Itar-Tass.
Moscow insisted on Iran’s participation and said not inviting the republic will be “an unforgivable mistake.”
“Those who question such a need are clearly not interested in a fair resolution of the Syrian crisis,” Russia’s UN envoy Vitaly Churkin said at a Security Council meeting.
US WANTS JAPANESE MILITARY BASES... SO...
The Japanese government confirms now the relocation of the US military base from Futenma, Okinawa to Nago city, despite the opposition of the local authorities, said News Asia channel.
After US approval, the agreement is to be implemented, regardless of opposition by the new Nago city Mayor, Susumu Inamine.
He has vowed to block construction of the base by denying permits for the project & won a hard-fought contest against a pro- base opponent backed by Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party.
Now the signing of the project is revealed, Inamine says he will work hard to block it.
Cabinet Chief Secretary, Yoshihide Suga, in Tokyo, says relocation of the military base will proceed under the law and the country's judicial procedures.
Humanitarian organizations say citizens from other parts of Japan and Okinawans oppose the construction of any US military bases in Japan and demand a withdrawal of US marines from this Asian country.
Robert Ford to Syria Opposition: Bandar on Long Vacation, Go to Geneva 2
The US Ambassador to Syria, Robert Ford, ordered foreign-backed opposition figures to take part in the Geneva 11 international peace conference, noting that there were now many changes in Saudi policy on Syria.
At a meeting, Ford told the SNC figures that Saudi prince Bandar Bin Sultan is on a long vacation in the US, “because of sickness and psychological fatigue,” Hamade added, citing a Syrian opposition official who is also close to the former Prime Minister, Riyad Hijab.
“We would like to inform you that there are some changes that will take place in Saudi Arabia next March,” Ford said, noting that the changes will "reach" Bandar Bin Sultan and Saud al-Faissal.
“We also would like to tell you, that the US has asked Saad Hariri (head of al-Mustaqbal parliamentary bloc in Lebanon) to participate in a coalition government with Hezbollah.”
The US ambassador added that the Saudi committee for Lebanon and Syria (which compromises Abdulaziz Khoja, Abdulaziz Bin Abdullah Al Saud and Muqren Bin Abdullah Al Saud) is to be activated and will take over the Lebanese and Syrian file from Bandar.
Ford told the Syrian opposition figures: “Bandar’s plan for the Syrian conflict, put into action in 2012, had catastrophic repercussions on Syria and the region. It has made of Syria a powerful hub for al-Qaeda that the US cannot confront.
For that, you have to stop objecting and go to Geneva 2 - this is in US’ interest.”
UAE introduces compulsory military service
United Arab Emirates (UAE) Prime Minister, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, says via Twitter that the Gulf state is now introducing compulsory military service for all nationals above 18 years old.
All Emirati nationals between 18 to 30 will have to take compulsory military service.
Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid: "The Service will cover military training in the armed forces - 9 months for high school graduates and two years for those below high school."
"UAE reserve forces will consist of retired armed forces' soldiers and national service program graduates," adds the UAE PM.
"Protecting the nation and preserving its independence and sovereignty is a sacred national duty. The new law will apply to everyone," tweeted Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid.
The UAE has 8.8 million inhabitants, of which, only 20% are UAE nationals.
The UAE prime minister, who is also the country's vice president and the ruler of Dubai, has ordered his cabinet to draw up a bill for national defense and reserves.
Amid major warnings of an emerging genocide in the Central African Republic (CAR) by a UN official, reports indicate that Muslim residents in CAR are being ‘butchered’ by Christian militias.
IRAQ - IT's NOT GOING AWAY !
A dossier has been presented to the International Criminal Court, which could result in some of the UK's leading defence figures and politicians facing prosecution for "systematic" war crimes in Iraq.
The 250-page dossier, entitled "The Responsibility of UK Officials for War Crimes Involving Systematic Detainee Abuse in Iraq from 2003-2008", draws on cases of over 400 Iraqis, representing "thousands of allegations of mistreatment amounting to war crimes of torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment".
They range from "hooding" prisoners to burning, electric shocks, threats to kill and "cultural and religious humiliation". Other forms of alleged abuse include sexual assault, mock executions, threats of rape, death and torture.
The dossier says "those who bear the greatest responsibility" for alleged war crimes "include individuals at the highest levels" of the British Army and political system.
It further argues that UK military commanders "knew or should have known" that forces under their control "were committing or about to commit war crimes."
General Sir Peter Wall, the head of the British Army; former Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon; and former defence minister Adam Ingram are among those named in the report.
The formal complaint to the ICC also argues that "civilian superiors knew or consciously disregarded information at their disposal, which clearly indicated that UK services personnel were committing war crimes in Iraq."
The European Centre for Constitutional Human Rights (ECCHR) and the Public Interest Lawyers (PIL) firm say in a statement that they filed the joint complaint to the ICC, calling for a probe into UK war crimes in Iraq.
In their 250-page complaint, the two NGOs call for a probe into the actions of senior UK officials, for “systematic torture and abuse” of prisoners in Iraq between 2003 and 2008.
Over the past few years, over 400 Iraqi prisoners have contacted PIL, based in Birmingham, alleging “serious abuse and humiliation” by British soldiers.
According to the law firm, the allegations range from sexual and religious humiliation to physical violence.
The joint statement by the 2 groups also points to a similar complaint to the ICC, which failed in 2006, on the grounds of insufficient evidence.
The NGOs say that, after eight years, “a thorough investigation” is still necessary.
German daily Süddeutsche Zeitung reports that the UK's Ministry of Defence (MoD) has confirmed that there were “isolated” cases of abuse by UK soldiers in Iraq, but denies any alleged systematic torture by members of the UK army.
The US and UK invaded Iraq in blatant violation of international law in 2003, on the pretext of looking for weapons of mass destruction (WMD), allegedly stockpiled by ex-Iraqi dictator, Saddam Hussein.
No WMDs, however, were ever discovered in Iraq.
According to the California-based investigative organization Project Censored, over one million Iraqis were killed as a result of the invasion and subsequent occupation of their country.
REPORT: NATO BOMBED MOTHERS & CHILDREN
At least 14 civilians, including three women and five children, were killed in an air strike by NATO in the northern Siagh Gerd district.
A Parlamentarian commission headed by Deputy Abdul Satar Khawasi confirms the slaughter, after hearing testimony from local residents.
According to the report, US forces bombed the area from Tuesday night until dawn the next day.
The mission, led by Khawasi, is to submit evidence to the National Assembly, such as photographs of the victims and the damage caused by US aircraft.
This unfortunate episode adds to one by ISAF, which killed 8 civilians, including 7 children and a woman, in an "operation" in the Afghan province of Parwan.
ISAF says the event took place in a high- risk zone where important leaders of the insurgent Taliban take refuge.
ISAF's brief statement adds that a soldier was killed by "non-combat" wounds.
IMF AND US CITIZENS BLOWN UP IN KABUL
At least two US citizens were killed in a bombing and shooting attack on a popular Lebanese restaurant in Kabul, the US embassy in Kabul says.
"The US Embassy has confirmed that at least 2 private US citizens were among the victims of the terrorist attack in Kabul," the embassy said on its Twitter page.
"Our deepest sympathies go out to the families of those who were killed."
The Embassy said its staff were all accounted for.
19 others, mostly foreigners, including the IMF’s representative in Afghanistan, 3 UN employees and people from other international organizations, were killed.
HOW IS S. SUDAN's NEW CHRISTIAN STATE?
The UN's Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights, Ivan Simonovic, says child soldiers are fighting in the month-long plus conflict there, with mass killings reported.
"The reports that we have come across involve mass killings, extrajudicial killings, widespread destruction, looting & child soldier recruitment", the top UN rights envoy in South Sudan reports.
"Destruction and death is everywhere in Bentiu, which has now become a ghost town. The extent of looting is hard to grasp, for anyone who hasn't been there," Jonglei's Bor, where fighting continues, is in a similar state, he says.
Somonovic accuses both President Salva Kiir and the former vice president Riek Machar of atrocities, in the conflict that started on December 15th.
PROPPING UP CRIMINALS
A prominent human rights advocacy group criticizes the UK over its decision to fund military training for Myanmar’s army, which is accused of human rights violations.
In a report titled ‘Training War Criminals? – British Training of the Burmese Army’, Burma Campaign UK says the decision to spend at least £87,850 on the project is deeply flawed, since there are no preconditions on improving human rights and supporting democratic reform there.
“If the British government were serious about reforming the Burmese military and ending their human rights abuses, they could have used this training to elicit practical action and commitments to reforms,” Mark Farmaner, Director of Burma Campaign UK, says.
He notes that London is moving as close as possible to Myanmar’s government, to secure trade and investment opportunities.
Muslims there are being persecuted and forced out of their country by Buddhists.
Canada to Present Evidence of Abuse on Indigenous Children?
The Canadian Government has agreed to publish a 1990 police investigation which gathered evidence about the mistreatment received by hundreds of native children in one of the so-called residential schools, where many of them remained segregated for years.
Erica Meekes, spokesperson for the Aboriginal Affairs Minister, has confirmed by e-mail to the press that the Government will comply with judge Paul Perell's order, from the Superior Court in Ontario province, that requests disclosure of those documents.
Nevertheless, Meekes still has not given details about the date of disclosure of the files, which have been withheld for years, on the pretext of "protecting the victims".
Residential schools were used from 1883 to 1990, with the objective of teaching "western customs and traditions" to some 150,000 children.
Those schools were managed by the Government and Church, and have been charged with torture, and both psychological and physical abuse on the children who lived in those schools - against their will and their families' will.
The children were forced to work some 10 to 12 hours daily, without being paid or properly fed.
THE GENOCIDAL MIND-SET CONTINUES
Photographs published on TMZ.com show US Marines burning the bodies of dead Iraqis, in Fallujah, in 2004.
“TMZ obtained 41 pictures that we’re told were shot in Fallujah in 2004,” the website writes. “Two pictures show a Marine appearing to pour gasoline or some other flammable on the remains of what officials believe are 2 insurgents. Two other photos show the bodies on fire. You then see the charred remains.”
“Another photo' shows a Marine crouched down next to a dead body and mugging for the camera.
“Still another picture shows a Marine rifling through the pocket of the pants on a corpse.”
The website said some of the photos are “too gruesome” to be published, adding that over a dozen bodies are seen in the pictures and “some are covered with flies and one is being eaten by a dog.”
The website says it turned the photos over to the Pentagon last week.
A Marine spokesperson at the Pentagon, Lt. Col. Neil F. Murphy, says the Marine Corps is investigating the circumstances depicted in the photos and attempting to identify the Marines shown.
Murphy says the results will determine whether the Marine Corps launches an investigation into possible wrongdoing.
The US used the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York as a pretext to attack Afghanistan in 2001.
Two years later, the US military also invaded Iraq, which conflict, left over one million dead.
Thousands of US troops are still stationed in both countries, years after the ouster of the Taliban in Afghanistan and the former dictator Saddam Hussein in Iraq.
'STOP OUTSIDE ARMS' SAYS POPE
Shortly before the US Secretary of State John Kerry visited Rome, Pope Francis called for a ceasefire & an end to violence in Syria, without preconditions.
During a conference of experts sponsored by the Vatican, attended by Catholics and non-Catholics, the Pope considered that to achieve that goal, all foreign powers must stop sending weapons and financing to Syria.
"To build the basis of a regional peace, Geneva II should ensure the participation of all parties in the conflict in the region and beyond," noted Pope Francis, alluding to Iran, whose presence in Switzerland has "not yet been decided".
Jorge Mario Bergoglio also affirmed that the Vatican is dedicated to supporting all religious creeds, due to the plurality of religions which has already been created in Syria.
Kerry then left the Vatican for Kuwait, to attend a "donors´ conference" on Syria, but local media say that this Kuwait "forum" is being held to seek more support for the opposition groups fighting the Syrian government.
Kuwait pledges $500mn in aid to Syria
Kuwait's emir, Sheik Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah, pledges $500 million of new funding, to "help Syrians affected by the conflict".
This comes on top of Kuwait's pledge of $300 million last year. The emir opened an international fundraising conference today, that officials hope will help cover the billions of dollars needed this year.
Kuwait, the US and other donor nations have so far promised more than $1.2 billion of fresh assistance, AP reports.
The UN is asking for $6.5 billion this year to help Syrians, the largest-ever funding appeal for a single crisis.
US Secretary of State John Kerry has promised $380 million in additional humanitarian aid to Syria today, Reuters reports.
“I am proud to announce today on President Obama's behalf, a new announcement of an additional $380 million in assistance,” Kerry told the donor conference in Kuwait.
The wave of countries liberating themselves in America, looks likely to continue with El Salvador... despite years of US interference which used violence and corruption to try to stop it (in the name of 'anti-communism', and then, of 'anti-terrorism').
The Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN) is now favorite to win the presidential elections in El Salvador, according to the latest survey carried out by the private Technological University (UTEC).
UTEC's survey, which took a poll 'forecast' gives 38.3% of forecast votes to the FMLN.
The right-wing Nationalist Republican Alliance (Arena), a close rival, has 29% of poll votes and the Unity coalition is third with 11.6%. Other minority parties barely make 0.8%.
'Though these results are not enough to win in the first round, other opinion polls place the FMLN in the lead, and close to winning in the first electoral round.
The Rector of UTEC, Nelson Zarate, says that Arena and its presidential candidate Norman Quijano, has lost momentum against the FMLN candidate Salvador Sanchez Ceren, compared to a survey carried out last November.
The deadline to release surveys before the presidential polls, is January the 17th.
The FMLN leads in most surveys, boasting more support than other political forces, to rule the country for the period 2014-2019.
ARMS RACE GOES HYPERSONIC
China has successfully tested its first hypersonic missile delivery vehicle, capable of penetrating US missile defense systems and delivering nuclear warheads with record breaking speeds, Pentagon officials have confirmed.
The new hypersonic glide vehicle (HGV), dubbed the WU-14, was allegedly spotted flying at record- breaking speeds during a flight test over China on January 9, an anonymous Pentagon official told the Washington Free Beacon.
The new system is reportedly designed to be launched as the final stage of China’s intercontinental ballistic missile, which would approach its target at a velocity of up to 10 times the speed of sound.
Hypersonic speed range lies between Mach 5 and Mach 10, or 3,840 to 7,680 miles per hour.
A Pentagon spokesperson confirms the Chinese test launch but has declined to provide details.
“We routinely monitor foreign defense activities and we are aware of this test,” Lt. Col. Jeffrey Pool, a Marine Corps spokesperson, told the Washington Free Beacon.
“However, we don’t comment on our intelligence or assessments of foreign weapon systems,” Pool said in a statement. “We encourage greater transparency regarding their defense investments and objectives to avoid miscalculation,” he added.
Hypersonic vehicles - also being designed by the US, India and Russia - are developed for precise targeting, rapid delivery of weapons, and are being tested to outmaneuver missile and space defenses.
“A boost glide missile theoretically would be intended to counter existing mid-course missile defenses,” Mark Stokes, former US Air Force officer, told the Washington Free Beacon.
Strokes explained that China is developing two hypersonic flight vehicle programs – one believed to be of a post-boost vehicle designed to be deployed from a missile that pursues its target from near space, or some 62 miles from earth.
Basing his hypothesis on emerging reports from China, Stokes believes that hypersonic glide vehicles could reach Mach 12 speeds of up to 9,127 miles per hour, potentially compromising a US missile defense.
“The beauty of the HGV is that it can perform hypersonic precision strikes while maintaining a relatively low altitude and flat trajectory, making it far less vulnerable to missile defenses,” Rick Fisher, an analyst at the International Assessment & Strategy Center, told the Washington Free Beacon.
“With the integration of strategic analysis and planning into technical research, China’s pursuit of hypersonic and high-precision weaponry promises to be faster and more focused than that associated with its previous [anti-satellite] and [ballistic missile defense] related research and programs,” Lora Saalman, a specialist on Chinese strategic systems with the Carnegie Endowment Saalman said by email. “This recent test is a manifestation of this trend.”
The Chinese are “actively seeking global military power to challenge the US, and it is not yet in any mood to talk, or engage in arms control, about it,” Fisher said.
In May, the Pentagon’s assessment of Chinese capabilities suggested that China built the world’s largest shockwave hypersonic wind tunnel capable of generating test flying conditions of up to Mach 9 speeds.
Chinese technical papers from December 2012 and April 2013 reveal that China is developing precision guidance systems designed to be directed via satellite.
One Chinese paper concluded that hypersonic weapons pose “a new aerospace threat.”
Current US hypersonic research is being conducted through the FALCON program in association with the Pentagon and Air Force.
The US is now in the process of developing the Lockheed HTV-2, an unmanned, missile-launched aircraft capable of gaining speeds of up to Mach 20, or 13,000 miles per hour.
The US Air Force is also testing the X-37B Space Plane, which has been orbiting earth since December 2012.
At the same time Boeing is working on the X-51 WaveRider, a jet-fueled, air-breathing hypersonic rocket developed for the Air Force to be used for hypersonic attack and reconnaissance missions.
Russia too, has confirmed the development of similar ultrasonic technology. The Air Force National Air and Space Intelligence Center said in its annual report that Russia is building “a new class of hypersonic vehicle” that would “allow Russian strategic missiles to penetrate missile defense systems.”
“We are experiencing a revolution in military science,” Russian deputy prime minister Dmitry Rogozin said last June, after the 4th test of an advanced road- mobile ICBM, a “missile defense killer” called the RS-26 Rubezh (‘frontier’). “Neither current nor future American missile defense systems will be able to prevent that missile from hitting a target dead on.”
Moscow is also developing the S-500 air and space defense system, with interceptors capable of shooting down hypersonic missiles.
US Ex-General Demands Guantanamo Prison Closure
Major General Lehnert, a retired officer of the US Army, demandS today the immediate closure of the prison the US maintains in Cuba's eastern province of Guantanamo.
Lehnert was the first chief of the detention centre - which opened in January, 2002 in a military base on Cuban soil - against the will of the people and the Government of the Caribbean island.
"It is time to close the prison to abide by domestic and international laws, the US Constitution, and ensure that human rights are respected," says the Marine Corps general.
"I think we did a bad job since the beginning, determining who would be sent to Guantanamo, especially during the first days after opening the prison, and most of the prisoners should have never been there," he says.
The former military man criticizes the work by military commissions trying the prisoners there, and says the trials could be held in US courts, in an article published today by the newspaper Stars and Stripes.
After assuming his first term of office in 2009, President Barack Obama signed an executive order to close Guantanamo prison in less than one year, but the prison is still operating.
There are numerous denunciations about the use of cruel techniques in that detention centre, such as deprivation of sleep, locking prisoners naked in rooms at low temperatures and exhausting interrogations.
USING UK ROYALS ON TORTURE ISLAND
The UK’s Duke of York, Prince Andrew, began an official visit to the Persian Gulf state of Bahrain to promote UK business, in a trip criticized by human rights activists.
Prince Andrew started his visit as a part of the so-called GREAT British week in Bahrain, which completes a series of events marking 200 years of bilateral relations between the two states.
Andrew’s controversial trip came at the request of the UK government and included a meeting with Bahrain’s King Hamad Bin Isa Al Khalifa.
The royal’s visit to Bahrain faced criticism by human rights activists, who point to the Persian Gulf state’s human rights record, disfigured by a harsh crackdown on anti-government protests, which began in 2011.
Maryam al-Khawaja, acting president of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights, accused the UK of putting short-term commercial interests before any support for democracy & human rights in Bahrain by sending the Queen's second son.
Since mid-February 2011, thousands of pro-democracy protesters have staged frequent demonstrations in Bahrain, calling for the Al Khalifa royal family to step down from power.
On March 14, 2011, troops led by Saudi Arabia were deployed to Bahrain to help the Manama government crackdown on the peaceful protesters.
Scores have been killed, many of them under torture while in custody, and thousands more detained, since the popular uprising started in the kingdom.
The Physicians for Human Rights says doctors and nurses have been detained, tortured, or disappeared because they had “evidence of atrocities committed by the authorities, security forces, and riot police” in the crackdown on anti-government protesters.
THE STINK OF FRENCH COLONIALISM
The CAR was grabbed by France as part of the European powers' "scramble for Africa." In 1928 a major insurrection against taxes and forced labour imposed by the French - the Kongo-Wara rebellion or 'war of the hoe handle' - broke out in Western Ubangi-Shari, and continued for several years.
The extent of this insurrection, which was perhaps the largest anti-colonial rebellion in Africa during the interwar years, was carefully hidden from the French public, because it was evidence of strong opposition to French colonial rule and forced labour.
After France granted a show of independence, for many decades, CAR was ruled by presidents or by an emperor, all of whom were unelected, or took power by force.
Any popularly elected leaders were overthrown by coups backed by French fighter jets, or had "accidents".
Now Christian mobs and militias are threatening to kill all Muslims, despite relative calm there, Press TV reports.
There have been reports of attacks on mosques and looting against Muslim-owned shops and houses in the capital, Bangui.
“The Christians only want to destroy the Muslims; they killed women and children here. We are scared. We don’t know why they attack us. But if they don’t want us in the Central African Republic, where else can we go?” a Muslim man asked Press TV.
This is while a Christian mob told Press TV:
“We will do exactly what the Muslims did to us. They killed us, so we will do the same to them. We want peace in the country. We want peace in the Central African Republic. So we will cut the throats of all the Muslims.”
The African nation fell into its recent deadly unrest in March 2013, when Christian militias launched an attack on the capital.
The United Nations has already warned of a potential sectarian genocide there.
Violence has been raging even after the country’s interim leaders President Michel Djotodia and PM Nicolas Tiangaye, both stepped down Friday to try to ease tension.
Thousands of stranded foreigners caught up in violence in the CAR have started leaving Bangui.
Antoine Mbao Bogo, local Red Cross president, on Sunday confirmed 13 deaths in two days of consecutive intense clashes in the country’s capital, since January 10th.
The deaths have spread fear across Bangui. Many streets there were deserted on Sunday.
THE FOX IN THE HEN-HOUSE
A political commentator says France had one real objective - of ‘regime change’ in the Central African Republic.
Finian Cunningham says that the violence in the African country “has been deliberately provoked by the French as a cover for their real objective – regime change.”
“Western media portray French conduct in the Central African Republic as a benevolent force,” the political analyst stated. “This is like lauding a fox in a hen house.”
“The reality is that violence and suffering have largely stemmed as a direct result of illegal French interference in that African country,” Cunningham added.
The Central African Republic has been gripped by unrest since Seleka rebels seized control of the impoverished landlocked country in March 2013, ousting former President Francois Bozize and bringing Michel Djotodia to power.
Djotodia resigned on January 10. He has left the country and is said to be going into exile in Benin.
“Djotodia was forced to step down after he was politically ambushed by other Francophile African leaders at a special conference convened... in neighboring Chad,” Cunningham argued.
“The French tried to cover their tracks by saying ‘we are not here to give our thumbs up or down’ but that is exactly what they were doing – giving the thumbs down.”
Alexandre Ferdinand Nguendet is the interim president of the Central African Republic now, while the National Transition Council, or the provisional parliament, is scheduled to begin consultations with politicians and civil society members on Monday, about electing the successor to Djotodia.
GOOD PEACE NEWS ON IRAN
A top Iranian nuclear negotiator says Iran and the six world powers will start implementing the Geneva nuclear agreement on January 20th.
“Today, Iran and the P5+1 finalized an agreement on ways to take the first step to implement the Joint Plan of Action. The two sides reached a consensus,” Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister for Legal and International Affairs, Abbas Araqchi, told reporters.
Araqchi said once Iran begins to implement the Geneva deal, the six powers (5 permanent UN Security Council members plus Germany) – will begin to ease sanctions on Tehran.
He says the other side will release USD 4.2 billion in Iranian frozen assets in 8 stages and Iran, in return, will oxidize its 20% enriched uranium, within a year.
Araqchi emphasized that both Tehran and the six powers will proceed to implement the Geneva deal in a balanced way.
The Iranian official said Tehran is to allow the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to verify implementation of the deal.
The deal was clinched on November 24, 2013, in which the 6 countries undertook to provide Iran with some sanctions relief in exchange for Iran agreeing to limit certain aspects of its nuclear activities over a six-month period.
It was also agreed that no nuclear-related sanctions would be imposed on Iran within the same timeframe.
SUDAN KEEPS ITS DIGNITY AS S. SUDAN OIL CAUSES WARS.
The Sudanese army says it expelled a force belonging to Riek Machar, the rebel leader in South Sudan, after it crossed into Sudan's territory and refused to be disarmed.
"On January 9th, a force of Nuer tribe, about an infantry battalion, crossed into Sudanese territory near Higlieg area. They were on the run after the advance of South Sudan's army towards Bantio, capital of the oil-rich Unity State," said a Sudanese army spokesperson, Al-Sawarmy Khalid Saad.
Saad said that there is no room for any South Sudanese troops inside the Sudanese territories, saying "we reiterate that our territories are now free of any foreign troops and that international law is our means of dealing with any similar cases."
Sudanese border areas have seen flows of South Sudanese refugees fleeing clashes in their country between the South Sudan army and defectors loyal to former vice- president Riek Machar.
Sudan says it will treat the fleeing South Sudanese as Sudanese citizens, and that it will not establish camps at the borders but will allow southerners to stay anywhere in Sudan.
South Sudan's army on Friday managed to regain control of Bantio, capital city of the oil-producing "Unity State" and it is currently leading battles to restore Bor town, the capital of Jonglie State, the last area held by Machar's forces.
MESSAGE TO SHARON's HEIRS
EU’s foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton says she is “deeply concerned” by new “illegal” Israeli settlements plans and - once again - calls on the nation to stop, says her statement.
"I was deeply concerned to hear the latest announcement by the Israeli authorities to advance settlement plans once more," Ashton says.
She confirms that the settlements are illegal under international law, and remain an obstacle to peace, as they “threaten to make the 2-state solution impossible.”
Ashton’s statement came the day Israel’s former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon - the architect of the settlement program - died.
Israel announced new settlement plans for over 1,800 homes on the day.
US military advisers back in Somalia
The US military has sent a small number of “uniformed trainers and advisers” to Somalia for the first time since 1993, when two US helicopters were shot down and 18 Americans killed, during the “Black Hawk Down” mission.
A small cell of less than two-dozen US military personnel has been stationed in Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu, since last Autumn in an effort to advise and coordinate with African troops fighting Al-Shabab, an Islamic militia with ties to Al-Qaeda, three US military officials have told The Washington Post.
In late 2014, US military officials indicated that the Pentagon would be more involved there.
The Pentagon’s top policy official in Africa, Amanda Dory, told Congress in October that the US military will “increase our presence in Mogadishu in tandem with the State Department” but did not elaborate.
Three anonymous US military officials told The Washington Post that US Africa Command sent a small amount of advisers to Mogadishu in the Autumn, to coordinate with Somali security forces a the regional coalition of African troops.
The Pentagon declined to comment on the plans.
This clandestine deployment ends two decades of US’ unofficial policy that prohibited any long- term US military presence on the ground in Somalia, despite the country being considered a failed state, teeming with pirates and militant Islamic organizations.
Yet the informal policy has not kept the US from actively participating in Somali affairs.
President Barack Obama’s administration runs surveillance drones out of neighboring Djibouti, occasionally using attack drones to conduct airstrikes from Somali skies.
In addition, elite Special Operations forces have entered Somalia for swift counter-terrorism raids and hostage situations.
The CIA has also operated a base in Somalia for some time, financing Somali forces fighting Al- Shabab and other entities.
Journalist Jeremy Scahill has documented the CIA’s secretive movements in Somalia.
In 2011, he revealed the existence of the CIA’s counterterrorism centre at Mogadishu airport.
He also reported on a secret prison in the US- funded Somali National Security Agency, which according to his sources, was used by the US to interrogate prisoners.
In response to The Washington Post’s story Friday, he tweets, “US has had military 'adviser/trainers' in Somalia for years. Not new.”
According to an ABC report, US personnel have gone into Somalia, but the latest deployment "is the first permanent posting since 1993".
The US finally recognized the federal government of Somalia in 2013, reestablishing diplomatic ties for the first time since the Somali government collapsed in 1991. The State Department still doesn't have a permanent presence there.
In recent years, the US has spent over US$500 million to train and arm an African Union security force of over 18,000 soldiers amid the ongoing chaos and famine in Somalia.
Most of the forces are trained outside Somalia by US contractors and uniformed military advisers.
The US has also spent around $170 million to boost the often-ineffective Somali national army.
African Union forces control most of Mogadishu, though Al-Shabab still holds most of the country.
It announced a merger with Al-Qaeda two years ago, though how much of a threat they pose to the US, is disputed by US analysts.
Despite The Washington Post’s report that “fewer than two-dozen troops” were sent to Mogadishu, ABC News reported late Friday that “less than” five US advisers are now stationed there, according to a Department of Defense official.
ABC News also tweeted “advisers were sent to Mogadishu after Hagel received request from Somali gov't & African Union Mission in Somalia.”
SHUT GITMO NOW US DEMOS SAY
Americans took to the streets in January to demand the closure of Guantanamo prison on the 12th anniversary of the notorious US- run prison’s opening.
On January 11th, 2002, the first prisoners were airlifted into a prison complex at the Guantanamo Bay US Naval Base in Cuba, after George Bush’s November 13th, 2001 order authorized the establishment of the prison and detention of US-captured “terror suspects.”
Nevertheless, out of the 779 prisoners ever held at the prison, only 7 men have been convicted and sentenced.
According to The Guardian, those charged and convicted of a war crime were lucky, because they have a chance to get out of Guantanamo while most of the prisoners who have been held there without a charge, could spend the rest of their lives in prison.
During his presidential campaign in 2008, President Barack Obama promised to close the prison as he acknowledged it as a symbol of the US government’s violation of human rights.
Now, 12 years after the opening of the prison and almost 5 years after Obama promised to close it, Americans across the land, took to the streets, to demand its shut down.
Protests took place at the White House in Washington, D.C., and in a number of other US cities including Miami, Santa Monica & Chicago.
In early February last year, Guantanamo prisoners began a hunger strike in protest against harsh conditions and indefinite detention without trial. The mass protest peaked in July as over 130 prisoners were taking part in the hunger strike.
Images from the detention centre published in June showed how prisoners were force-fed by military guards, being strapped to a metal restraint chair and fed through the nose with plastic tubing.
The US military said in December that it would no longer release reports of hunger strikes staged at the prison to the public, since disclosing such news would "not be in the US's interests".
UK ACTIVISTS ALSO CALL FOR CLOSURE NOW !!!
UK activists also took to the streets in London to mark the 12th anniversary of the opening of the notorious Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba - and to demand its closure.
The London Guantanamo Campaign (LGC), calling the demonstration, says activists wearing orange jumpsuits & black hoods, held up placards in Trafalgar Square, to demand London’s urgent action on the release of the last Gitmo Briton, Shaker Aamer.
"Twelve years on, the prison at Guantánamo Bay remains a stain on the current global landscape. It is unfortunate that it has taken a near-fatal hunger strike by prisoners to remind the world, and Barack Obama, of his promise to close the facility,” said Aisha Maniar, a spokesperson for the LGC.
According to Manir, the UK government can lead the way by using this anniversary to renew its demands for the return of Aamer to his family in London, saying:
“the time to act is now. There must be no more anniversaries.”
CHINA WARNS RE 'US ASIA PIVOT'
Countries around the South China Sea should have clear vision when it comes to the US strategy of hyping up issues in the region, and return to the path of direct friendly consultations, says China, in an op-ed published in Xinhua.
The US has been playing up the South China Sea issue again by pointing fingers at China's new fishing regulations.
State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki told a news briefing that the regulations are "provocative and potentially dangerous."
Washington's accusations are unreasonable, as China's fishing regulations are in line with international practice & aimed at strengthening the protection of fishery resources and the maritime environment. The US itself has similar rules, the article points out.
It is not the first time Washington has meddled in this region. Over past years, the South China Sea has become a new frontier in the US's strategic pivot to Asia.
In July 2010, Hillary Clinton, then US Secretary of State, initiated a discussion about navigation freedom, security and U.S. "national interests" in the South China Sea, at a meeting in Hanoi.
Playing up issues again and again in the region, the US is resorting to the old trick of "divide and rule" -- first it stirs up tensions, disputes and even conflicts, then steps in to pose as "mediator" or "judge", in a bid to maximize its own interests.
Countries around the South China Sea should see clearly the US strategy and tricks, and see through its ambition to manipulate Asian affairs just to maintain dominance.
History has repeatedly proven that more often than not, the involvement of a superpower in disputed areas complicates the situation and brings tragedy to the parties concerned.
If countries around the South China Sea are under any illusion about the US strategy and start to abandon consensus and understanding when it comes to resolving disputes in the area, they risk turning into chess pieces of the superpower and paying an unnecessary price for any confrontation or friction.
Therefore, concerned countries should demonstrate wisdom in resolving issues in the South China Sea through direct friendly consultations, and be on guard against being a pawn for US ambitions.
It is also time for Washington to stop playing old tricks and take a role in advancing peace and stability in the area, otherwise it will be deemed unwelcome in the region, the article concludes.
The President of the Central African Republic, Michel Djotodia, has resigned, the Economic Community of Central African States says in a statement.
An Israeli rights group reveals Tel Aviv’s plans to build over 1,800 new settler units in occupied Palestinian territory.
The Israel Housing Ministry has announced the construction of over 1,076 units in the illegally annexed East al-Quds (Jerusalem) and 801 more in the occupied West Bank, Peace Now says.
The group says the new units will be built in existing settlements such as Efrat and Ariel in the West Bank, as well as Ramat Shlomo, Ramot and Pisgat Zeev in East al-Quds.
The news came days after the latest US efforts to broker direct talks between the Israeli regime and the Palestinian Authority proved fruitless. Israeli settlements are the main obstacles in the negotiations.
Responding to the new settlement units, Palestinians say the move shows Israel wants Washington to stay away.
They condemn the decision as yet another attempt by PM Benjamin Netanyahu to "destroy" the so-called two-state solution.
Tel Aviv has given the green light to the construction of 272 new settler units, 250 of them to be built in Ofra and Karnei Shomron, in the heart of the West Bank.
Over half a million Israelis live in over 120 illegal settlements built since Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and East al-Quds in 1967.
The United Nations and most countries regard the Israeli settlements as illegal because the territories were captured by Israel in a war in 1967 and are hence subject to the Geneva Conventions, which forbid construction on occupied territories.
MORE "ACCIDENTS" IN AFGHANISTAN - NO SECURITY PACT WITH US, SAYS KARZAI
US forces stationed in Afghanistan accidentally gunned down a 4-year-old boy, say local officials.
The incident prompted a rebuke from President Karzai who is refusing to sign a security pact unless it gives assurances on civilian safety.
Marines based in the violence-plagued province of Helmand mistakenly opened fire on the boy because of poor visibility, say local authorities.
“As the weather was dusty, the marine forces based there thought he was enemy and opened fire. As a result of mistaken fire, he was killed,” the spokesperson for the governor of Helmand Province, Omar Zwak, told Reuters.
NATO says an investigation into the matter will be launched immediately and that all possible measures are taken to avoid civilian casualties.
The four-year-old’s death at the hands of US troops sparked a furious reaction from the Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who demanded an immediate end to all military operations on civilian homes, and clearly shown dedication to the peace process, before any security pact can be signed.
"We have called … for an absolute end to ISAF/ NATO military operations on homes and villages in order to avoid such killings, where innocent children or civilians are the victims," presidential spokesperson, Aimal Faizi, said re the boy's death.
The US and Kabul are currently at loggerheads over a security pact that would see a US troop presence after the US’s scheduled withdrawal in December.
The Obama Administration pressured Karzai to sign the agreement before a December 31st deadline, and continues to press now.
It argues that if the US does not leave behind at least 8,000 troops it could allow the Taliban to regain a foothold and plunge the country into “chaos”.
The Afghan government rejects these claims as “baseless” and intimates that there is an ulterior motive behind the security pact.
"We strongly reject that as baseless as they have in the past been proved inaccurate," Faizi told Reuters.
President Karzai says what continues to happen in Helmand province "reveals that American forces have no respect for Afghan lives."
He says that if such “cruelty” goes on, “the security pact will not be signed with America.”
Washington has recently been complaining to the Afghan leadership after Kabul announced the release of 72 prisoners the US deems “dangerous criminals” suspected of “terror- related crimes”.
The Afghan government says there was too little evidence to warrant a trial for the detainees and it could not allow “innocent Afghan citizens to be kept in detention for months and years without a trial, for no reason at all.”
South Korea Halts Tear Gas Exports to Bahrain
South Korea has suspended tear gas exports to Bahrain, citing an unstable political situation in the Gulf state.
South Korea’s Defense Acquisition Program Administration, which oversees the country’s military trade, told two companies that sought approval to export to Bahrain in October and November to suspend shipments.
Lee Jung-geun, a spokesperson for the defense agency, said the decision had been made because of the “unstable politics in the country [Bahrain], people’s death due to tear gas and complaints from human rights groups”.
The Bahraini government did not respond to requests for a comment.
The move comes after months of campaigning by rights groups who say the Bahraini authorities’ misuse of tear gas has led to dozens of deaths during peaceful protests against the government.
Bahrain’s interior ministry in June solicited bids for 1.6m tear gas projectiles, 90,000 tear gas grenades and 145,000 stun grenades, according to a tender document leaked to Bahrain Watch, an advocacy group.
The order would have been of a similar magnitude to the 2m tear gas projectiles activists estimate have been fired by the security forces since pro- democracy protests swept the strategic island in February 2011.
“This is also a clear message to any other countries considering supplying tear gas to Bahrain that profiting from repression is unacceptable,” Bahrain Watch says in a statement.
One of the companies seeking to export tear gas, DaeKwang Chemical, says it is now “unlikely” to provide any material to Bahrain owing to increasing protests from human rights groups, says Kim Jong-bae, chief executive.
DaeKwang had been planning to sell 3m tear gas canisters for around Won30bn ($28m) but the deal will probably be cancelled, he adds.
Tear gas projectiles, which are sometimes thrown into houses, have caused as many as 39 deaths, according to Physicians for Human Rights.
The government has always denied that these deaths can be attributed to the use of tear gas.
Bolivia to Promote from G-77 a Fair, Peaceful, Sustainable, World Order
President Evo Morales says that Bolivia will promote, from the Presidency of the Group of 77 plus China, a fair and peaceful world order based on harmony with nature.
"We will defend a planet without impositions, hierarchies, the plundering of resources, or interventionist wars; a planet where the rights of mother earth are considered", Morales says at the United Nations, during the handover ceremony of the bloc's presidency, which brings together 133 developing countries.
To Morales, the construction - with no exceptions - of a new international order, must have 10 objectives, which he describes at the event.
"From the G-77, we must promote a change in the priorities of the generation of wealth, to switch from spending and hoarding profits to satisfying the needs of human beings", he said at the ceremony, as Bolivia took over the presidency from Fiji.
The Latin American leader then stressed the urgency of replacing 'representative' democracy with participatory and community democracies, so as to put an end to the dominance of elites, and ensure that all voices are heard equally.
Bolivia will head the G-77 plus China in 2014. The D-77 was created to articulate & promote the interests of the states of the South, on economic issues within the UN system.
FATAH & HAMAS RECONCILE?
As 17 Palestinians are injured by Israeli troops in the occupied West Bank, Fatah officials are to pay a visit to the Gaza Strip for reconciliation with Palestinian resistance movement, Hamas.
Mohamed Shtayyeh, a senior Fatah official, announced Tues. night that he and Azzam al-Ahmed, another top Fatah member, met with Khaled Mashaal, the political bureau chief of Hamas, two weeks ago in Doha, Qatar, and discussed ways of achieving reconciliation between the two factions.
“We are prepared for reconciliation and ending the split,” Shtayyeh said, adding, “Brother Haniyeh is making a big effort regarding reconciliation and we welcome his recent measures.”
The announcement came the day after Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh said Fatah members can return to the Gaza Strip.
"The [Hamas] government will allow all Fatah members who are from Gaza and who left the Strip [in 2007] to return, without any preconditions," Haniyeh said on Monday.
He described it as a bid to promote Palestinian reconciliation, saying... "We promised our people we'd take decisions that would reinforce the internal front and pave the way for reconciliation."
In 2011, the Palestinian factions of Fatah and Hamas signed a reconciliation accord to form a transitional unity government, which was supposed to pave the way for legislative elections before the end of May 2012. However, the process failed and has yet to be implemented.
On January 17, 2013, the two rival Palestinian factions agreed, in the Egyptian capital Cairo, to revive consultations over the deal.
Hamas and Fatah have been at odds since the former won Palestinian parliamentary elections in January 2006.
Israel reacted to the victory by imposing a blockade on the Gaza Strip, ruled by Hamas.
Fatah, however, set up headquarters in the occupied Palestinian territory of the West Bank.
DUTCH CALL FOR EU TO ALTER CUBA STANCE
Dutch Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans has called on the EU to revise its relationship with Cuba while visiting the Caribbean nation.
Timmermans says the best way to promote change in the socialist island nation just south of the US is through dialogue, and not by isolation.
Speaking in Havana while visiting a football camp for Cuban children on Tuesday, the top Dutch diplomat also underlined that differences of opinion between the EU and Cuba would likely remain.
"But we have seen that not meeting each other, not talking about this, doesn't really help," adding that dialogue could "bring the relationship forward."
Describing the economic reforms under way there as “encouraging," Timmermans was cited by state-run newspaper Juventud Rebelde as telling the Cuban Vice-President of the Council of Ministers Ricardo Cabrisas that the economic changes were a chance to improve business & social ties between the two countries.
Timmermans is the first Dutch foreign minister to visit Cuba since the nation’s 1959 revolution against US-backed dictator Fulgencio Batista.
The EU has limited its political ties with the Cuban government in a bid to push what it describes as a ‘multi-party democracy.’
In 1996, the European bloc agreed on a set of rules governing its relations with Cuba, called the Common Position.
It boasts that the EU's objective is "to encourage a process of transition to a pluralist democracy and respect for human rights & fundamental freedoms, as well as sustainable recovery and improvement in the living standards of the Cuban people."
Cuba rejects the so-called Common Position, arguing that it constitutes interference in its internal affairs.
The EU, meanwhile, remains a key trading partner for Cuba as hundreds of thousands of European tourists visit Cuba every year.
ANTI-ISRAEL FRONT MOVES TO CREATE UNITY
Arab scholars, politicians, students and activists have taken part in an international conference in the Tunisian Capital, Tunis, to support the growing anti-Israeli resistance front, Press TV reports.
The 2-day conference kicked off on Tuesday, one week ahead of the third anniversary of the popular revolution in the Arab country.
During the conference, participants shed light on the dangers of normalizing ties with Israel and slammed human rights abuses by the Zionist regime in occupied Palestine territories.
“The whole world should be aware that negotiating with Israel and its racist government and extremist settlers is betting on a mirage,” M. Barghouti, general secretary of the Palestine National Initiative says.
Some scholars at the conference consider Israel’s crimes against Palestinians a strategy to occupy more lands in order to impose a “Zionist presence” in the whole Arab world, believing the political unrest in the region gives Israel the opportunity to commit new crimes in the occupied Palestinian territories.
The scholars expressed concern over Arab countries in the region normalizing relations with Israel, saying, “This is a real danger, we are fighting an enemy within.”
EGYPT's COUP LEADERS REFERRED TO ICC
Today (Wed), Morsi's trial is postponed due to "cold weather".
Muslim Brotherhood lawyers have submitted a formal complaint to the International Criminal Court re the army’s “crimes against humanity.”
The Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party lawyers said in a press conference in London on Monday, that they have asked the ICC to investigate the crimes the military committed against the Brotherhood's leaders, members and supporters.
The lawyers plan to meet with the ICC to discuss opening a preliminary probe into “crimes against humanity.”
The lawyers state that their declaration was lodged on December 20th, on behalf of the first democratically elected President and MB leader, Mohamed Morsi, who was ousted by the army on July 3rd, 2013.
The complaint details crimes committed by the Egyptian army since Morsi’s ouster and reportedly includes evidence of murder, unlawful imprisonment, torture, and disappearances.
“The message must be sent out clearly to the Egyptian military regime that it runs the risk of prosecution. This is what the declaration accepting jurisdiction aims to achieve,” says John Dugard, a South African lawyer and member of the legal team appointed by the Freedom and Justice Party.
Supporters and members of the Muslim Brotherhood have been facing a heavy crackdown by the military and its appointed interim government since July.
The clampdown increased in December, after the coup leaders' interim government designated the Brotherhood as a “terrorist organization.”
On December 31st, an Egyptian court ordered the assets of hundreds of Muslim Brotherhood leaders (and their families) to be confiscated.
The Egyptian Interior Ministry said on January 6th, that Morsi will be denied any visitors for a one-month period, starting on January 2nd.
UK ARMS EXPORTS "UNACCOUNTABLE"?
A report on UK weapons exports has triggered accusations that the UK may be arming Somali pirates and dictatorial regimes.
MPs allege this is due to the sheer volume of guns being exported, and poor oversight.
An urgent review has been launched over why some 44,000 guns have been exported to East Africa in the last 15 months.
Government data shows that among the arms were 30,000 assault rifles, 2,536 pistols and 11,000 rifles, which ended up in countries with poor human rights records, like Somalia, Egypt and Sri Lanka.
Some of the weapons were also exported to Russia and South Africa.
The report, part of a wide-ranging inquiry into arms exports, notes that MPs want to know why UK firms stocked such huge numbers of new weapons, as they already had thousands of weapons in their armories before April 2012.
MPs say the sheer volume of weapons being exported means it is difficult to keep tabs on where they end up, prompting speculation that the UK could be arming pirates in Somalia.
The House of Commons Arms Export Controls Committee says that the Business Department, which approves weapons exports, did not thoroughly assess where the arms were sent.
MPs also doubt whether UK export policy has the “balance right between the arms trade, surveillance equipment and our economic interests.”
"The evidence provided to us by Mr Bell seems to suggest that the department did not have a process of looking at the cumulative number of weapons and whether those exports fitted the scenario on the ground needed for protection."
Head of the Export Control Organisation at the Business Department, Edward Bell, says he understands the worries of MPs, given the large quantity of arms, although he denies that the weapons have fallen into any wrong hands.
“I understand the concern about the volumes … having now heard about the volumes, I would like to do a bit more digging around that.
"I have no concerns that anything untoward has happened, but I certainly will have a closer look at the volumes involved,” he has told MPs.
The Business Department has now launched an internal inquiry into weapons exports.
AFRICA ALLOWING IMPERIAL POWERS TO INTERFERE
The death toll in Egypt in demonstrations has reached 17, as the army-backed "interim" government vows to "crush" the Muslim Brotherhood and its support.
French Majority Rejects Intervention in the Central African Republic
About 60% of the French population reject military intervention by France in the Central African Republic (CAR), says a survey by the Institute of Analysis and Opinion (Ifop).
The survey, released in the newspaper Sud Ouest Dimanche, shows that support for the so-called sangaris operation, launched in December, is rapidly eroding.
Last month opinion was divided - 51% supported the deployment of French troops in the CAR - now only 41% are in favour, and 59 disapprove, says the latest survey.
The institute attributes the rejection to several factors, including the effect of fatigue on citizens after several interventions abroad in recent years (Afghanistan, Ivory Coast, Libya and Mali).
Another factor is the uniqueness of the conflict in the CAR "with war aims and identifiable enemies," the Ifop adds.
On 5 December, President Francois Hollande announced the shipment of about 1600 French troops to its former colony, after the Security Council of the UN said 'yes' to the operation.
The French authorities said then that the intervention "would be quick and aim to restore order and security" in CAR, which had imploded after the coup last March.
France also began a similar deployment to Mali in January 2013. A year later, 3,000 troops remain.
In an interview with L'Humanité newspaper, the former Senegalese Minister Hamath Dansokho questions the effectiveness of French military interventions in Africa to address the serious problems in certain countries.
INTERNALLY DISPLACED IN CAR 1 MILLION
The number of internally displaced due to the conflict in the CAR now exceeds 935,000, warns the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
Those citizens who fled their homes because of a lack of security, now suffer extreme difficulties in getting humanitarian assistance, adds UNHCR.
Attacks on civilians, looting, and the presence of armed people in settlements for the displaced, seriously hinder access to assistance for those urgently needing it, says UNHCR spokesperson Babar Baloch.
The UNHCR says 60% of the displaced are children.
A deteriorating situation and the long distances between settlements for the displaced on the outskirts of Bangui, the capital, and poor roads, make relief efforts enormously difficult, he says.
Direct South Sudanese Peace Talks Delayed
Government and rebel delegations in South Sudan have delayed their first direct peace talks for a ceasefire, sources close to the process report.
On Friday, the representatives of the two parties agreed in their meeting with the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), to start their first face-to-face talks on Saturday.
However, separate meetings with the IGAD, which is mediating, continued in the capital to set the agenda to be followed, though there is no official information about this yet.
Opponents began talks here after an ultimatum issued by the IGAD.
They held preliminary meetings on Friday, but the delay of contacts decreases hopes of a rapid truce.
Both the South Sudanese Minister of Information, Michael Makuei, and the spokesperson for the insurgents, Yohanis Musa Pouk, state that they will not meet until an agenda is adopted.
Violence broke out in South Sudan on Dec. 15 after an alleged attempted coup d'état by former vice president Reik Machar, according to the president, Salva Kiir.
Machar denies the allegations and states that, with this argument, the president seeks to eliminate his political rivals, but then, later statements from his underground shelter called for the overthrow of Kiir.
According to estimates, in the 3 weeks after the uprising in Juba, capital of South Sudan, about a thousand people died and over 80,000 are now displaced.
TURKEY AND IRAN TALK PEACE
The foreign ministers of Iran and Turkey are to discuss issues of mutual interests and the latest developments in Syria, as well as ways to find a peaceful solution to the crisis there.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif is on an official visit to Turkey today (Saturday) at the invitation of his Turkish counterpart Ahmet Davutoglu, says Iran’s Foreign Ministry.
Syria has been gripped by deadly unrest since 2011. According to reports, Western powers and their regional allies - especially Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey - are supporting militants operating inside the country.
According to the UN, over 100,000 people have been killed and millions displaced in attacks gripping Syria, for almost 3 years.
On Oct 28th, Davutoglu described prospects for further bilateral relations between Ankara and Tehran as “very positive.”
He said Turkey-Iran relations have witnessed a great leap over the past 10 years in light of the goodwill and brotherly interactions between officials from the two countries, noting that there is still potential for stronger mutual ties.
Children deliberately targeted in CAR clashes: Aid workers
Aid workers say children are now deliberate targets of armed gangs in the violence-hit Central African Republic (CAR).
Ombretta Pasotti, who coordinates work by the Italian NGO Emergency at the pediatric hospital in CAR's capital, Bangui:
“Before now, children were collateral victims, but today some of them are targeted directly.”
“Some children are victims of stray bullets and shell fragments," Pasotti said, adding, some have also been wounded "by chance."
The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) had earlier said in a December 30 statement that assaults on children “have sunk to a vicious new low, with at least two children beheaded, and one of them mutilated, in the violence that has gripped the capital.”
UNICEF added that in all it had confirmed 16 killings of children since December 5, while 60 more youths were injured in clashes.
Meanwhile, the UN agency's representative in CAR, Souleymane Diabete, said that besides “being directly targeted in atrocious revenge attacks,” more children are being recruited by armed gangs.
The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said in a Friday statement that a total of 935,000 people have so far fled their homes because of the ongoing clashes in the African country.
The Central African Republic spiraled into chaos in March last year when Seleka fighters overthrew President Francois Bozizé and brought Michel Djotodia to power. Bozizé fled the country after his ouster.
On September 13, 2013, Djotodia dissolved the Seleka coalition. Some of the rebels later joined the country’s regular army while some defied.
France invaded CAR on December 5, 2013, after the UN Security Council adopted a resolution giving the African Union and Paris the go-ahead to send troops to the country.
MORE NATO DEAD
A joint NATO-Afghan military base has come under attack in Eastern Afghanistan with one NATO soldier killed in the assault, Press TV reports.
The Taliban militants say they have attacked the base belonging to the US-led forces in Afghanistan’s eastern province of Nangarhar.
The militants reportedly attacked the base, situated in Nangarhar’s Ghazni Khail village, with a car bomb on Saturday. Gunfire was heard after the blast.
The NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said one soldier was killed in the assault, without giving further details. Afghan sources said all six assailants were killed.
Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid claims responsibility for the attack in a statement.
On December 18, 2013, militants carried out another attack on a US base in Nangarhar.
NATO has stationed more than 84,000 troops in war-torn Afghanistan.
The United States and its allies invaded Afghanistan in 2001 as part of Washington’s so-called war on terror. That removed the Taliban from power, but the country is still gripped by insecurity.
MB AND ISLAMISTS STILL DETERMINED
At least fourteen people have been killed in fresh
clashes between security forces and supporters
of ousted president, Mohamed Morsi, across Egypt.
The clashes broke out when security forces used
tear gas, bird shot and live gunfire to disperse
large crowds of angry protesters.
The casualties have been reported from the cities
of Cairo, Alexandria, Suez, Ismailia, and Fayoum.
Similar violence has been also reported from Assiut
and northern Sinai.
Security forces also rounded up a large number of
protesters across the violence-wracked country.
Demonstrators were out joining rallies after Friday
prayers to demand an end to military rule and
voice opposition to the new constitution.
The pro-Morsi group, known as Egypt Anti-Coup
Alliance, had urged its supporters to stage
mass rallies across the country.
Egypt has been tense ahead of Morsi’s trial
and an upcoming referendum on a new
Mohamed Morsi is set to go on a new trial.
Judicial sources said Thursday that the Cairo
Appeals Court has set January 28, 2014, as
the date for Morsi's new trial.
The Muslim Brotherhood and its allied groups
have also pledged to boycott the constitution
referendum set to be held this month.
UN: 2013 deadliest for Iraq since 2008
A total of 8,868 people, including 7,818 civilians, have been killed in violent attacks across Iraq in 2013, the United Nations reports – the highest annual death toll there in five years.
In December alone, at least 759 Iraqis were killed and another 1,345 wounded in terrorist attacks and violence, reports the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNIRAQ), which monitors the impact of armed violence and terrorism on Iraqi civilians.
May was the most violent month, according to the mission’s statistics, with a total of 3,154 civilian casualties (including civilian police), of whom, 963 people were killed and 2,191 wounded.
Since April 2013, the monthly number of civilians killed and injured has remained above 1,700.
According to UNIRAQ, Baghdad was the worst affected area in Iraq last year for civilian casualties, with 809 (including 254 killed), followed by Nineva (331 casualties), Salahadin (262 casualties) and Diyala (260 casualties).
“This is a sad and terrible record which confirms once again the urgent need for the Iraqi authorities to address the roots of violence to curb this infernal