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Paris attack designed to shore up

 France’s vassal status: Roberts

A former White House official says that
the terrorist
attack that killed 12 people
on Wednesday in
Paris, was a false flag
operation, “designed to
bolster France’s
vassal status to Washington.”


Dr. Paul Craig Roberts, who was Assistant Sec.
 of the Treasury in the Reagan Administration,
 & associate editor of the Wall Street Journal,
says, in his latest published article:

“The suspects can be both guilty and patsies.
Just remember all the terrorist plots created
by the FBI that served to make the terrorism
threat real to Americans,” he writes.

He says the French economy is suffering
from the US-imposed sanctions on Russia:

“Shipyards are impacted by being unable to
 deliver Russian orders, because of France’s
vassal
status to Washington, and other
aspects of the
French economy are being
adversely impacted
by the sanctions that
Washington forced its NATO
puppet states
to apply against Russia.”


Dr. Roberts states that French President
Francois
Hollande, this week, said that
the sanctions against
Russia should end.

“This is too much foreign policy

independence on France’s part,
for Washington.”


He adds that the CIA has apparently
resurrected a
policy that it followed
against Europeans during the
post-
WW II era, when the US spy agency
would carry
out attacks in European
states and blame
communist groups.

Dr. Roberts says that now, US agencies
have planned
false flag operations in
Europe to create hatred for
Muslims
and bring European countries
under
Washington’s sphere of influence.


He notes that “the attack on Charlie
Hebdo was
an inside job, and that
people identified by NSA
as hostile
to the West's wars against Muslims

 are going to be framed for an inside
job, designed
to pull France firmly
back under Washington’s
thumb.”

The widely read columnist states that
the US
“government tells Americans
whatever story
the government puts
together and sits and
laughs at the
gullibility of the public.”




REQUIEM
Poet and Efran Kaye's tribute
to everyone killed in wars.

Bless the large numbers of Ethiopians,
the many good people in Indonesia, and
the folks of Russia, Greece and Egypt,
who are now playing it.


100% CERTAIN 9/11 WAS MOSSAD OPERATION

Most US people polled believe that 9/11 was
an "inside job",
but what would they feel if they
found out that it was
designed by Zionists, who
deliberately killed thousands
of innocent US
citizens to drive the US into wars on Muslims?


They'd be angry, right?



Fernando Imposimato, President of the Italian Supreme
Court, calls for a criminal investigation of 9/11, comparing
the attack to false flag incidents carried out by the CIA
in Italy: Operation Gladio.

 

"The 9/11 attacks were a global state terror operation
that was permitted by the US
administration, which
had foreknowledge of the operation, yet
remained
intentionally unresponsive in order to make war
against
Afghanistan and Iraq," Imposimato declares
in a letter published by
the Journal of 9/11 Studies.

 Ferdinando Imposimato is the Honorary President
of the Supreme Court of Italy and a former Senator
who served on the Anti-Mafia Commission in three
administrations. He is the author or co-author of 7
books on international terrorism, state corruption,
and related matters, and a Grand Officer of the
Order of Merit of the Republic of Italy.

As a former state prosecutor, Imposimato has
extensive experience in investigating high-
profile crimes, including the kidnapping and
assassination of Italian Prime Minster Aldo
Moro & the attempted assassination of Pope
John Paul II. He also worked on the Anti-
Mafia commission as a Senator, giving him a
wealth of knowledge on the inner workings
of organized crime syndicates.

 

Imposimato points to several facts contradicting
the official 9/11 story, including the free-fall
collapse of WTC Building 7, the report that the
CIA met with Osama Bin Laden in a Dubai hospital
in July 2001, and the overwhelming evidence of
insider trading before 9/11 that didn't lead to any
criminal charges, reports digitaljournal.com

The following is an excerpt from Imposimato’s letter
published by the Journal of 9/11 Studies on Sunday:

 

The reports of the National Institute of Standards
and Technology (NIST), November 20, 2005, set
forth the following conclusions:

The airplanes that struck each of the Twin Towers
caused a breach as well as an explosion evidenced
by a giant fireball. The remaining jet fuel flowed onto
the lower floors, sustaining the fires. The heat from
the fires deformed the building structures and both
towers collapsed completely from top to bottom.

Very little that was of any size remained after these
events except steel as well as aluminum fragments
and the pulverized dust from the concrete floors.

 

The World Trade Center 7 also collapsed–in a way that
was inconsistent with the common experience of
engineers. All three buildings collapsed completely,
but Building 7 was not hit by a plane. WTC7’s collapse
violated common experience and was unprecedented.

 

The NIST report does not analyze the actual nature of the
collapses.  According to experts at the Toronto Hearings
(Sept. 8-11, 2011), the collapses had features that indicate
controlled explosions. I agree with architect Richard Gage
  & engineer Jon Cole both highly experienced professionals
[from Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth – now
numbering 1,700 strong], who have arrived at their
conclusions through reliable tests, scientific proof,
and the visual testimony of people above suspicion,
including firefighters and victims.

The authoritative theologian David Ray Griffin has
described very precisely why the hypothesis of
controlled demolition should be considered.
Various witnesses heard bursts of explosions.

 

According to NIST the collapse of Building 7 was
due to fires provoked by the collapse of the twin
towers. Chemist and independent researcher Kevin
Ryan, however, has demonstrated that NIST gave
contradictory versions of the collapse of Building 7.

In a preliminary report NIST declared that WTC7
was destroyed because of fires provoked by diesel
fuel stored in the building, while in a second report
this fuel was no longer considered the cause of the
building’s collapse. Additional comments on the NIST
version of events have been made by David Chandler,
another expert witness at the Journal of 9/11 Studies
Letters, September 2012 Toronto Hearings.

Despite NIST’s claim of 3 distinct phases of collapse,
 Chandler pointed out that many available videos show
that for about two and a half seconds the acceleration
of the building cannot be distinguished from freefall.
NIST has been obliged to agree with this empirical fact
as pointed out by Chandler; now understood by everyone.

 

The only possibility for achieving justice is to submit the
best evidence concerning the involvement of specific
individuals in 9/11 to the Prosecutor of the International
Criminal Court and ask him to investigate according to
the articles 12, 13, 15 and 17, letters a and b, of the
Statute of the ICC, recalling the preamble of the Statute:

 

“Recognizing that such grave crimes threaten the
peace, security and the well being of the world,”

 

“Affirming that the most serious crimes of concern to
the international community as a whole must not go
unpunished and that their effective prosecution must
be ensured by taking measures at the national level
and by enhancing international cooperation, ”

 

“Determined to put an end to impunity for the perpetrators
of these
crimes and thus to contribute to the prosecution
of such crimes,
recalling that it is the duty of every state
to exercise its jurisdiction over
those responsible for
international crimes.
"  reports infowars.com.

More and more people from all walks of life and all
professions seem
to be questioning the “official”
narrative of what happened on 9/11.
Those who
are questioning the events of 9/11 may be moving
under
the radar of the corporate media from being
labeled “conspiracy
theorists” to legitimate
investigators with legitimate questions and
concerns, reports examiner.com

 

Theorists believe that the World Trade Center
buildings were
demolished by bombs, phone
calls from the planes were made up,
and the
former President George W. Bush secretly
profited from
the attacks, reports
newsone.com

 

The World Trade Center collapse appeared similar to a
controlled
demolition. Many speculate that the towers
were in fact blown down
with explosives placed in
selected locations. Some witnesses heard
explosions
inside the building as they attempted to escape. Many

architects & scientists maintain that plane fuel couldn't
produce
enough heat to melt the steel frame of the
buildings that collapsed,
reports
newsone.com



little girl frightens USA


WESTERN MEDIA LIES LEAD TO WAR

Article by Finian Cunningham.


100 years ago, the assassination of Archduke
Franz Ferdinand and his wife in the
Bosnian
city of Sarajevo, was the fatal spark that

 ignited a geopolitical powder keg in Europe.

Within a month, all the major powers of Europe
 would be embroiled in the First World War, which
 also dragged in Russia and the US. The war would
 last for nearly five years and resulted in at least
 20 million deaths.

That catastrophe has perplexing resonances
with
today. One incident set off a conflagration
 back then, because it came amid simmering
rivalries among imperial powers. Another
resonance is how historians recount that, in
 the run-up to the First World War few believed
 that a war in "modern, civilized" Europe was
likely, because of the belief that diplomacy
 would prevail.

Today, we see a similar reckless goading by
 imperial powers across Europe. The US and
 its European NATO allies are embarked on a
25-year expansion towards Russia's heartland.

 The dynamic of encroachment has only sped up,
not lessened. This expansion is provocative,
 aggressive and duplicitous, because it not only
 presents a military threat to Russia, it also flies
 in the face of past commitments by the US-led
 NATO alliance not to do so, such as in the 1997
 Founding Act, signed with Moscow.

Russia has every right to feel threatened by ever-
encroaching ballistic missile systems on its borders
 that could be used in a pre-emptive nuclear strike
 by the US and its allies. That concern is heightened
 ever since Washington invoked a "first strike
 doctrine" under President George W Bush,
which Obama still retains.

Yet, provocatively, Washington dismisses Russian
 President Vladimir Putin's concerns about NATO
 expansion, as if they are the deliriums of a Soviet
 revanchist.

The complacency of the present time towards
 the dangers of war, has disturbing echoes of
the past - on the eve of World War I. A major
factor in the present complacency is that the
 Western mainstream media are failing, woefully,
 to properly report on the gravity of the situation
 in Ukraine, and just how provocative that
 parlous situation is to Russia's vital interests.

This week saw the signing of a trade pact between
 the European Union and Petro Poroshenko, the
 declared president of Ukraine. The Western media
 have hailed it in glowing terms as "a landmark event"
 and a positive outcome of democracy in the former
 Soviet Republic. That blithe assessment invites
 dangerous ignorance and complacency.

The truth is that the signing of the EU trade pact is
 the outcome of an illegal regime-change operation in
 Ukraine fomented by Washington and its NATO allies.

 That regime change involved CIA-backed mass
 murder of civilians (the February 20 sniper shootings
 in Kiev's Maidan Square) and the overthrow of an
 elected government.

Since the illegal coup against President Viktor
Yanukovych, the Western-backed Kiev regime has
 been waging war on ethnic Russian populations
 in the east and south of the country, who refuse
 to recognize the regime as legitimate.

 Poroshenko, the billionaire oligarch who is now
 signing over the sovereign affairs of Ukraine to
 the US, NATO and the EU, was elected president
 in a farcical vote last month, where only 45% of
the electorate turned out and large sections of
the east and south did not even cast a ballot
amid a murderous "anti-terror" crackdown by
 Kiev troops and paramilitaries.

The campaign of terror by the Kiev forces against
 pro-Russian civilians was launched at the end of
 April, days after CIA chief John Brennan made a
 secret visit to the Kiev regime. Brennan briefed
the Kiev leadership, including the so-called Prime
 Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, who only last week
used Nazi language to vow that his military forces
 would "cleanse sub-humans" from the country -
 referring to the ethnic Russian populations and
the self-defence militias they have set up in the
 Donetz and Lugansk regions.

The impostor-President Poroshenko may have
 declared a ceasefire over the past week, but
 the hostilities against civilian centres continue
 unabated. Crimes against humanity include the
 bombing of homes, churches, schools & hospitals,
 the use of White Phosphorus incendiary bombs
 and exploding bullets, as well as the shelling of
 electricity and water supplies.

Western media have largely ignored these violations
 by the "new democratic Ukrainian government", or at
 best have reported them as "unverified" or merely as
 "breaches of the ceasefire by both sides".

Western governments and media have gone into
 denial mode, refusing to acknowledge what even
the United Nations this week confirms as a massive
 displacement of over 150,000 people from eastern
 Ukraine.  Why are such numbers fleeing, if the
 violence is not also massive?

Another example of the Western cover-up over state
 terrorism in Ukraine, is the recent killing of three
journalists. Earlier this month, Russian journalist Igor
 Kornelyuk and his colleague Anton Voloshin were
 killed near Lugansk when they were hit with a mortar
 shell. Survivors of the attack said it was deliberate
 targeting by Kiev troops. Previously, Italian journalist
 Andrea Rochelli was slain near Slavyansk in another
 incident that bore the hallmarks of shoot-to-kill.

In the past week, by contrast, there was an
 outpouring of condemnation from Washington and
 other Western governments, as well as widespread
 media coverage, of the jailing of three Al Jazeera
 journalists in Egypt. Those sentences were no
 doubt a gross miscarriage of justice. But what
 about the taking of journalists' lives in Ukraine?
 Where is the Western condemnations and 
media coverage?

Western-backed regime change and genocidal
 repression in Ukraine, is a collision course of
 extreme provocation towards Russia and its
 vital interests. Yet it is presented to the
 Western public as if it is a "good news" story
 about democratic European enlargement,
 which, perversely, is being spoiled by Russian
 "interference".

This is a powder-keg situation in Europe, led
 by US geopolitics and its European henchmen,
 and which is wrapped up in an explosive shell
 of ignorance, by a lying Western media.

The repetition of history is not inevitable.
But the chances are increased when people
are kept in the dark about the underlying
causes of war and conflict.



China Russia reach deal

Petko Ganchev, wrote this article for Pravda.Ru.

Today it is absolutely clear that there is
a multipurpose strategic operation being
 conducted on the territory of the former
 Soviet Union. Ukraine plays a key role in
 the operation. Why Ukraine?

It's an open secret - the West has always
wanted to master the vast territories of
Russia and Eurasia, the axial space of the
Earth, with its enormous natural resources.

 To achieve this goal, there was the outer belt
 (Turkey, Pakistan, South Korea, Japan) built
 around Russia-Eurasia after World War Two.
 The inner belt (Georgia, Moldova, Lithuania,
 Latvia, Estonia) was built after the
 collapse of the USSR.

Successively, after the Cold War, almost all
East European countries - Soviet satellites -
were admitted to NATO under the condition
of their membership in the European Union.

 But the West didn't get closer to Russia's
western borders. There were 2 Russia-
friendly countries left - historically,
culturally and economically - Belarus
 and Ukraine.

Belarus is closely tied to Russia ethnically,
culturally and economically. Ukraine, with
its failed state organization was a weak link.

The reason for that is that the regions from
which Ukraine was created after World War
 II (1945), were formed by areas with very
different religious and value systems.

In his famous book "The Clash of Civilizations
and the Remaking of World Order" by Samuel P.
 Huntington, the author described Ukraine as
one of civilizational "splits," where one can
expect clashes, i.e. wars.

That's why Ukraine was chosen by the US
 as the key to implement a multi-purpose
 strategic operation.

 In the Middle East, the US has always used
 monarchies from the Middle Ages as allies -
 Saudi Arabia and Qatar. In Ukraine, the most
loyal ally of the United States was Poland.
 
The country was used to train "Right Sector"
 fighters and other figures from anti-Russian
 ultranationalist structures.

What are the main objectives and directions of
 this geo-strategic operation, the implementation
 of which began immediately after the US was
 forced to freeze its activities on Syria and Iran?

First and foremost, the goal is to strike a blow on
 Russia as the most active US geopolitical rival in
 the new millennium. When Ukraine leaves Russia's
 orbit, the US will implement several geostrategic
 objectives:

- to move air defense systems and other NATO
 systems closer to Russian borders: neutralizing
 its defense, including its nuclear capability;

- to undermine the Russian economy by cutting
 relations with the economy of Ukraine (Poroshenko
 has already ordered, following instructions from the
 US, to cease cooperation with the Russian defense
 industry);

- to burden the budget of the Russian Federation with
 bigger spending to maintain refugees from Ukraine
 and substitute imports from Ukraine;

- to close Russia's gas and oil pipelines to the EU
 to thus block the inflow of foreign currency into
the Russian economy;

- to prevent creation of the Customs Union
 and the Eurasian Economic Union;

- to destabilize the political system in Russia,
 accusing its leadership of what is happening
 in Ukraine;

- to stop or minimize economic cooperation
 between Russia and the EU;

- to sow distrust between Russia and other BRICS
 countries - Brazil, India, China, South Africa.

Secondly, the U.S. plans to strike a blow on the
European Union, which, along with China, acts
 as a major competitor in the economic sphere.
The EU needs to be reminded of its secondary role.

The United States seeks to confirm the assessment
 of Russophobe Brzezinski in his book "The Grand
 Chessboard" (1997), according to which the EU
was a "U.S. protectorate."

 For the U.S. it is vitally important to strengthen the
 economic dependence of the EU in light of their
 signing the "Transatlantic Free Trade Agreement"
 to turn the EU towards the consumption of US
shale gas. In this regard, the EU is the most
developed market.

To achieve this, Ukrainian company Naftogaz (the
 largest company in Ukraine) became  the property
 of a new consortium, whose leadership includes
the son of U.S. Vice President Joe Biden and
former Polish President Kwasniewski.

At the same time, Chevron is preparing shale gas
 production in south-eastern Ukraine - in the areas
 of the towns of Slavyansk and Kramatorsk.

Chervon, directly or indirectly, through the European
 Commission, put pressure on Bulgaria, forcing the
 country to abandon the South Stream project.

 At the same time, the U.S. continues to put pressure
 on France, to make the country freeze the sale of
two Mistral helicopter carriers to Russia. France's
 largest bank PNB faces a fine of $10 billion for
 violating the financial embargo that the U.S. put
on Cuba, Sudan and Nicaragua.

 At the same time, the United States, with its
national debt of 17 trillion dollars and GDP of
14 trillion, prepares to grant NATO's Eastern
 European members $1 billion for new weapons.

Fortunately, on the "grand chessboard" of world
 civilization, the U.S. does not play against virtual
 opponents. The geo-strategy of the United States
 does not unfold like the Desert Storm Operation in
2 003. Today, the US is playing against experienced
 players.

 Russia is rising after the disgrace of the Yeltsin era,
 and the EU becomes increasingly aware of the fact
 that the only chance to survive is hidden in the
 slogan "More Europe for Europeans!"

The last elections to the European Parliament have
 confirmed the trend. Hitherto, with so many large-
scale geopolitical operations after World War II
 (Korea, Cuba, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, etc.),
 the US has not been able to boast considerable
 achievements.

Through all those wars, as George Friedman says
 in his book "The Next 100 Years," America has
 stimulated the growth of the national economy.

America was gradually and steadily evolving from
 a manufacturing economy to the economy of a
 military-industrial complex. In history, such a
 condition has always heralded the end of any
empire.



working toward very cold war



US "A CRIMINAL ENTERPRISE"

The US government is a “criminal enterprise”
 with a foreign policy that places the well-
being of Israel ahead of America’s, a political
commentator in San Antonio, Texas says.

“This is a criminal enterprise that has the support
 of both of the major political parties in the United
 States,” Mark Dankof, a broadcaster and former
US Senate candidate, says.

This criminal enterprise “principally involves
 conducting a foreign policy firstly for Israel,
 secondly for the international central banks
and thirdly for the oil and natural gas
 consortiums,” Dankof says.

There is no difference between the policies
 of the Obama and Bush administrations, he
 notes. Both “are supporting the criminal
 policies of Benjamin Netanyahu,” he adds.

Dankof dismisses as a deception the recent
 remarks by US Secretary of State John Kerry
 that the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq was a
 serious mistake:

“This is an attempt to absolve John Kerry and
 Barack Obama of the responsibility for all the
 criminal policies that they have carried out.”

In an interview with Chinese news agency Geo
 News, Kerry acknowledged that many problems
 in the Middle East, have their roots in that war.

George W. Bush, ordered the invasion of Iraq
under a pretext --- that former Iraqi dictator,
 Saddam Hussein, possessed weapons of
 mass destruction.

 In October 2004, a CIA report revealed
 that Saddam Hussein did not possess any
weapons of mass destruction at the time
 of the invasion.

In a survey out on Wednesday 2nd June,
by
Quinnipiac University Polling Institute,

33% of registered voters name Obama
as the worst president since 1945.

 28% choose his predecessor, George
W.
Bush, as the worst.






By Jim Jones

For many, myself included I suppose, the tragic
 events unfolding in Ukraine have been riveting
over the last couple of months. No need here to
 go into the sordid history of Coloured Revolutions
 and the CIA/NATO role in them; most reading this
 medium as opposed to CNN/SKY/VOA, are informed
 people and are aware of the manoeuvrings of the
 West and the associated puppet states in trying
to
embroil Russia in a war it doesn't want and in
extending NATO frontiers to the heart of Russia.

Missile strikes from Ukraine, for example, would be
 in Moscow in 10 minutes, leaving no reaction time
 and fits neatly within the new US policy of a "first
 Strike" nuclear capability. [As opposed to the
retaliatory strike doctrine of the last 40 years].

We all know what happened in 1961, when
 Khrushchev put Soviet Missiles into Cuba after
the US put missiles into Turkey. The US wasn't
very impressed at all. What is not well known
is
that Kennedy asked Khrushchev to "cut him
some
slack" and withdraw the missiles without
reference
to the US' withdrawal of its missiles
from Turkey!


 The US had upped the rhetoric so much, that it
 couldn't be seen to lose face in the public arena
 - condescendingly, Khrushchev accommodated.

Hold that thought of "face saving" as we explore
 the current Ukraine Crisis.

The US/NATO pushed the EU to pressure the Ukraine
 to join the EU and swing to the West. They almost
succeeded 4 years ago with their Orange Revolution.

 But Russia had learnt a thing or two about the
 Coloured Revolutions and mounted a successful
 and embarrassing reversal of the revolution and
 installed their own man in Ukraine who was leading
 Ukraine back along the Russian brotherhood line.

Four years later, after over $5 billion in NGO funding
and
a huge amount of State Department scheming
and
CIA covert action, the US finally got a chance
 to redress the "egg on face incident" that the
Russians had made for them.

The US played a "background role" in this - preferring
 to have the EU seen as the driving force behind the
 Maidan. However, leaked phone calls, like that made
 to Cabinet Minister Ashton, which clearly identified
the role of paid mercenaries in killing both Police &
 protesters, and later, Viktoria Nuland [US State Dept]
hand-picking who will be in the Ukraine
government
and saying the EU can go get fucked -
did nothing to
endear the US to the EU -- it came
hard on the heels
of revelations of extensive phone
tapping of EU
leaders' phones etc. by the US.


Then we have the unsavoury influence of the Right
 Sektor in Ukraine being pushed, funded and trained
 by NATO and the US's Kerry, Nuland, John McCain,
 Mark Twain and all, were seen in public endorsing
 the very Right Sektor extremists that the German
 government was in the process of declaring as
criminals!

Europe could see itself being plunged back 70 years
 with the rise of neo Nazi's, not just in Germany - but
 across Europe. [Remember Anders Behring Breivik
 and his mass killings in Norway: an ultra nationalist].

Europe also asked the question, what is the US going
 to lose over this? If Russia turns off the gas, Europe
 freezes: the economy of Europe goes down the toilet!

Already Germany is losing billions of Euros in trade
 with Russia, France has several military deals with
 Russia, the supply of Mistral Class ships for one,
 and Putin has promised follow-ons from that. Italy
 is supplying armour vehicles, many EU nations
trade with Russia - so, US, what sanctions are
going
to hurt you, the EU asks?

Germany has a growing discord there over the
70
year occupation of Germany by US forces -
we
see demonstrations - Yankees go home!
Europe
is realising that the US cares, not for
them, but
only for US and US businesses.

Against this background, we are witnessing the
 separation of the US/EU and a drawing closer of
 EU/Russia on common grounds & shared interests.

I was appalled: driven to tears by the criminal
acts
of the Kyiv Junta's ex facto war crimes/
crimes
against humanity. The shelling and
bombing of
civilians [non-combatants the
Junta declares
are Terrorists]. The targeting
and destructionof
schools, kindergartens and
hospitals - with the
murder of 25 wounded in
the hospital - shot by
Junta troops!

Destruction of the means of
support of life
  - with water supplies destroyed,
electrical
installations and sanitary plants
destroyed
by shelling. The shooting of women
and
children leaving the region for shelter in

 Crimea, by bus. The execution style killing
of
civilians in a town by Junta forces, who
lined
the people up and shot them in the
back of
their heads. The use of chemical
weapons
against civilians - chlorine gas
[where is
Obama's Red Line on this?]. The
targeting of
TV reporters in the area trying
to objectively
record events. I'm sure that
I have missed some
others.

 I cried out from the depths of despair for justice
-
surely Russia would intervene; surely Russia
would protect it's people like it has said it would?

And all along, that is exactly what the US has been
 saying too - telling the Ukrainian Junta to commit
 further acts and atrocities against the people who
 simply want true democracy in the East.

To help them in this, they even get them to
demonise and degrade the people there.
 Junta leaders have called the Russians in
 the East, "sub-human" - those of you as old
 as I am, will have heard that phrase before.

They are called parasites and vermin by the
 new Choco King Junta leader Poroshenko.
 Such a debasing of the population makes it
 more acceptable to murder them and commit
 atrocities against a subhuman species - not
 much higher than animals really, are they?

The provocation of Russia in this regard has been
 carefully stage managed by the US, intent as always
 to let it appear as the EU 's doing, while all the time
 ensuring that their people are the ones pulling the
 strings in Kiev - the CIA/FBI and State Department
are up
to their proverbial balls in Kiev's business.

 Don't see the EU featuring though. The US has
 pushed the warmonger Russian story all through
 Europe - putting the fear of the bogyman into all
ex Soviet states, and determined to show them
all how much they need NATO's protection.
 [In truth, the world needs to be protected from
 the US].

However, Russia has consistently demonstrated
 restraint and maturity in handling the world crisis.

 Since the failed US--led revolution in Georgia,
Russia has been seen to be taking the moral
 high ground from the US and their consistent
 lies [WMD et.al].

The lies over Georgia were exposed and eventually
 the EU came out & confirmed that Georgia started
 the war. Reluctantly, the Western media has had
to
admit to "errors" in reporting - all of which have
 favoured the Russian position. Remember the
 incredible piece of statesmanship from Russia
 in pulling the war rug out from under the US's
feet
over Syrian Chemical weapons?!

Russia has quietly been cementing relationships
 in Europe - building "partnerships' with European
 countries, and is doing so in accordance with
 international law and through responsible,
mature actions.

 
All of this has been driving a wedge between the
 US and the EU. This hasn't gone unnoticed - the
 US cannot accept that they are not in the driving
 seat of a single seater any more. Goading and
 provoking Russia into attacking the Ukraine is
how they will demonstrate that the Russia of
 today is what they told everyone that the
USSR of old, was.

Putin has been smarter than they realised.

 Reuters reported on July 1st:

Ukrainian forces struck at pro-Russian separatist
 bases in the eastern regions with air and artillery
strikes on Tuesday, after President Poroshenko
 announced he would not renew a ceasefire, but
 go on the offensive to rid Ukraine of "parasites".

His decision quickly drew fire from Russian President
 Vladimir Putin who said Poroshenko had disregarded
 the advice of himself & German and French leaders.
 Putin said Poroshenko would now have to bear full
 responsibility for veering off the road to peace.

Poroshenko, who accuses Russia of fanning the
 conflict and allowing fighters and equipment to
 cross the border to support the rebels, then
turned
his back on another renewal of a 10-
day
unilateral ceasefire after the phone talks
 involving Putin, German Chancellor Angela
 Merkel, and President Francois Hollande.

The important thing here is that Putin obtained
 consensus from France and Germany in a four-
way dialogue. This consensus was broken by
 Poroshenko, under pressure from US handlers.

 The facts are obvious. What it also shows, is
that
once again the US has marginalised the
EU and
shown scant regard for the EU position.

This now opens the door for Russia to reiterate its
 threat; "Putin said Moscow will continue to defend
 the interests of ethnic Russians abroad - up to 3
 million of whom live in the east of Ukraine, which
 has been in separatist ferment since April."

By obtaining consensus to a path of peace, and
 seeing it broken, Moscow now has the mandate
 to use force... IF it wants to.

The question is, does Russia want or need to?
That famous General of Guerrilla warfare, Vo

 Nguyen Giap [Incidentally, his book Peoples War,
 People's Army is worth reading] said, "we do not
 want to defeat the enemy, we simply want him to
leave our country!". In this regard, the Ukrainian
Junta cannot win the war in Novorussiya.

Firstly, they have completely lost the battle for
the hearts and minds of the people --- through
the
brutal atrocities they have committed.

 Their transparent attempt at a Kosovo type ethnic
 cleansing, has been seen for what it is and has
 made people more determined to "hold their
ground". Their brutality has now created a
 generational animosity, which will not be
 resolved in our life-time.

Secondly, militarily they can't succeed - every day,
Novorussiya is gaining in strength and skills. The
 skill level of Novorussiya's troops is much higher
 than those of the basic conscripted Junta forces
 and they're much more motivated than the Junta
 forces - they are fighting for their existence and
 homeland. Conventional military doctrine states
that we require a 10 to 1 advantage to press a
 successful attack against a defending enemy.

 1,000 to 1 is not enough to succeed in a Guerrilla
 war scenario. Look at the hiding the Yanks got in
 Vietnam and they poured hundreds of thousands
of troops into there, used the might of total air
superiority and naval bombardment etc, and still
 got their arses kicked. Ask them how many they
 and NATO had in Afghanistan fighting "towel
 heads"? [and still lost].

The Ukrainian Army has about 30,000 troops
 committed against 10,000 in the Novorussiya
 Army, and many Junta forces are actually
 surrendering without a fight, handing over
their
gear, getting on a bus and going home
with mum
who came to collect their sons.

Also, the Junta
is bankrupt. They can't even
feed their army;
people are deserting and
walking home,
because of no food or pay.

To save face: that wonderful US terminology
again; I see it is proposed that Novorussiya
become a Russian protectorate! The US is
 looking to stem the Junta's haemorrhaging.

All Russia needs to do, is open a humanitarian
 corridor into Novorussiya and maintain/police it
 and supply Novorussiya with what war materiel
 they ask for. And it can do all that with the tacit
 approval of Europe - the US having gone a bridge
 too far in Ukraine. Russia can allow the Junta to
 bleed to death here and like Georgia before; the
 US will be powerless to stop it.

The US has had it's last Tango in Europe.

Jim Jones







Urgent appeal: Message from Slavyansk

Igor Strelkov makes an urgent appeal to the
 international community as western-backed
 Ukrainian forces slaughter Russian-speaking
 citizens, strafing women and children with
 military hardware.

 Washington, Paris and London look on and
continue to support the Ukrainian government.
 A massacre is taking place, the west is
dancing
with the Devil.



Urgent Appeal by Igor Strelkov, July 4, 2014

Good day.

I would like to make a short statement with respect
 to what is happening around Slavyansk. With respect
 to what is happening here. And, well, to make an
 appeal, if you will.

Yesterday, the enemy completely surrounded
 Nikolayevka. The enemy shelled the city in the
 fiercest possible way, using all types of weapons.
 Using heavy MLRS systems, howitzers, mortars,
 tanks, APCs. The destruction is enormous.
 It is simply impossible to determine the numbers of
 casualties, because nothing works in the city now.

Our units that are in Nikolayevka at this moment
 continue the battle in complete encirclement.
We have no communications with them.

Nikolayevka has been completely cut off from
 Slavyansk. At this very moment, a large enemy
 column of armoured vehicles is moving toward
 Semyonovka from the south, along the Kharkov-
Rostov highway. At the same time, the enemy
 is continuing uninterrupted artillery shelling of
 the city and of Semyonovka.

 Yesterday, the Nikolayevka Thermal Power
Plant was destroyed to the ground and set
 on fire.

To put it bluntly, we are dealing here with
 unconcealed genocide. In other words, to break
 the resistance of the Militia, the enemy is using
all the available types of weaponry against the
 civilian population.

Naturally, seeing the destruction and the death
 of the civilian population, militiamen are starting
 to lose the will to continue fighting.

I would like to say to you that, in Slavyansk, there
 is not one Chechen, not one mercenary. There is
 not a single person here who did not come of their
 own good will. If, before, 90% of the fighters were
 local, now the ratio is 95%.

 Out of the entire garrison, there are maybe several
dozen people who came from Russia. The majority,
 the overwhelming majority are citizens of Ukraine.
Among them, the overwhelming majority are
 Donbass residents.

 These are people who consciously took up arms to
 defend their homes, their families, their Motherland.
 To defend their language and their culture. To defend
 Russia. Because these people never separated from
 her. They consider themselves Russian. They want
to live in Russia.

This right was taken from them a long time ago.
And now, when they tried to restore this right,
 Russia does not want to help them reunite with
their people, with their big Russian family.

It is difficult to understand and accept, that,
over three months (it will soon be three months
 since we arrived in Slavyansk to help the local
 population defend their rights), that, over these
 three months, no real help has arrived.

I do not claim that Russia does not help. A
 huge stream of humanitarian cargo, equipment,
uniforms, comes to us through private channels.
 But, that, which we desperately need, does not,
 at this time, arrive.

Please understand, that even if we get two tanks,
 four, even ten tanks, five-six artillery pieces, even
 if a plane flies here once, this will have no impact
 whatsoever. Over the course of the ceasefire,
 the Ukrainian army performed a full mobilization
and concentration of forces.

Over sixty heavy artillery pieces are pointed a
t Semyonovka and at Slavyansk at this time.
 At Kramatorsk. Two dozen MLRS systems,
 including Grad, Uragan and Smerch Heavy
 mortars. All of them are pointed here.

The enemy has so much ammunition - I did not
see so much in Chechnya. In our time, we did
 not have so many shells. And the entire set of
 this artillery is shelling us without a stop. The
supply columns are coming in continuously.
 They are transferring in more equipment.

Kharkov diligently repairs a dozen and a half
 armoured vehicles a day. We hit one or two
 armoured vehicles a day. No more than that.
 The enemy is able to grow its forces faster
 than it expends them. Not just faster -
 much faster.

If Russia is not able to secure an immediate
 termination of fire and the execution of a truce,
or if it does not step in with its armed forces to
 protect us, to protect the Russian people that
 reside here, who are a part of the Russian nation,
 we will be exterminated.

We will be exterminated in the course of a week,
 two weeks at most. And Slavyansk will be the
 first to be exterminated, together with its still-
numerous population. Over thirty thousand
 civilians are still left here.

I am being asked to take on the responsibility
 for their death. And for the death of the Militia
 brigade under my command. We are ready to
 fight. We are ready to die. But we do not want
to die senselessly, burying beneath the ruins
of the city of those people who believed in us.

Some believe that I am panicking, that I
am nervous. Yes, I am nervous. Every day,
my soldiers are dying. The hospitals are
 overflowing with wounded. It is very
difficult to see children without legs,
 torn apart by exploding shells.

We will continue to fight. But we
 desperately need help.



civilians being murdered by Kiev coup forces


Washington's War Crimes Spread from
 Africa and the Middle East to Ukraine

By Paul Craig Roberts


A person might think that revulsion in "the world
 community" against Washington's wanton slaughter
 of civilians in eight countries would have led to War
Crimes Tribunal warrants issued for the arrest of
presidents Clinton, Bush, Obama & many officials
 in their regimes.  But the vocal part of "the world
 community"-- the West -- has become inured to
 Washington's crimes against humanity and
doesn't bother to protest.  Indeed, many of
these governments are complicit in the US's
 crimes, and there could just as well be arrest
 warrants for members of European governments.

The one exception is Russia. The Ministry of Foreign
 Affairs of the Russian Federation has published a
 White Book on violations of human rights and the
 rule of law in Ukraine.  Propagandized Americans
 think that all the violations in Ukraine are made
by Russians.  The White Book carefully and
 accurately documents reported violations that
 occurred in Ukraine for four months from
 December 2013 through March 2014.

The White Book is available here:

http://www.mid.ru/bdomp/ns-dgpch.nsf
/03c344d01162d351442579510044415b
/38fa8597760acc2144257ccf002beeb8/
$FILE/White%20Book.pdf


  You will not hear much or anything about it from
the
presstitute US media, & it's unlikely to receive
 much coverage in Europe. The facts are so greatly
 at odds with the West's position, that the White
 Book is a huge embarrassment to the West.

The slaughter of Ukrainians on Washington's orders
 by Washington's stooge government in Kiev, has
 worsened considerably in the past three months,
 producing more than 100,000 Ukrainian refugees
 fleeing into Russia for protection from strikes
 against civilian housing, from the air, artillery,
 and tanks. 

Every effort by Russia's government to involve
 Washington, the European Union, and Kiev in
 negotiations to find a peaceful settlement,
has failed.


Washington is not interested in a settlement.
 Disturbed by its NATO vassals' dependence
 on Russian energy and the growing economic
 relationships between Russia and Europe,
 Washington is at work through its Kiev proxy
 murdering citizens in eastern and southern
parts of present-day Ukraine that once were
 part of Russia.

 Washington has declared these civilians to be
 "terrorists" and is trying to force Russia to
 intervene militarily in order to protect them.

  Russia's protective intervention would then
 be denounced by Washington as "invasion
 and annexation."  Washington would use
this propaganda, which would blare from the
 Western media, to pressure Europe to support
Washington's sanctions against Russia. The
 sanctions would then effectively destroy the
existing economic relationships between
 Russia and Europe.

Washington hasn't had success in imposing
 sanctions, because, although Washington's
 European vassals, such as Merkel, are willing,
 business interests in Germany, France, and
 Italy stand opposed.

 Washington is hoping that by forcing Russia
 to act, Washington can sufficiently demonize
Russia and silence the European business
 interests  with propaganda.

To counter Washington's ploy, Putin had Russia's
 Duma rescind his authority to send Russian forces
 into Ukraine.  Unlike US' presidents Clinton, Bush,
 and Obama, Putin does not claim the authority to
use military forces without permission from the
 legislature.

Washington's response to Putin's stand down is
 to increase the slaughter of civilians, all the while
 denying that any such slaughter is occurring.

  Washington is determined not to acknowledge
 the existence of the slaughter for which it is
 responsible, although everyone knows that
 Kiev would not dare to take on Russia
 without Washington's backing.

Putin's bet is that European business interests
 will prevail over Washington's European lap dogs.

 This is a hopeful and optimistic bet, but Washington
 is already at work to threaten and undermine the
 resistance of European business interests. Using
 concocted charges, Washington has stolen $9
billion
from France's biggest bank --- for doing
business with
countries disapproved of by
Washington.


 This was Washington's warning to European
 business to comply with Washington's sanctions.
Washington even told France that the fine
would be rescinded or reduced if France broke
 its contract with Russia to supply 2 helicopter
 carriers.  Other such moves against European
 businesses are in the works. The purpose is
to intimidate European businesses from
 opposing sanctions against Russia.

Washington's arrogance that Washington
can decide with whom a French bank can
do business is astonishing.  It is even more
astonishing that France and the bank would
 accept such arrogance and infringements
of
France's sovereignty.

 France's acceptance of Washington's hegemony
 shows that one risk in Putin's bet is that the bet
 assumes that European business interests can
 prevail over Washington's strategic interests. 

Another risk in Putin's bet is that by standing down
 and tolerating Washington's slaughter of civilians,
 Putin is becoming complicit in Washington's crimes
 against humanity. The longer the slaughter goes on,
 the more complicit Russia's government becomes.

 Moreover, the passage of time allows Kiev to
 increase its forces and NATO to supply these
 forces with more deadly weapons. A Russian
 intervention, which previously would have met
 with easy success, becomes more costly and
more drawn out as Kiev's forces increase.

Washington's puppet in Kiev makes it clear
--- that he is not going to accommodate any
Russian interests or any opposition of the
Ukraine's
provinces, to the radical anti-
Russian policies
of Washington's stooge
government.


 As Washington acknowledges no responsibility
 whatsoever for the situation, how long can Putin
 wait for Merkel or Hollande to break ranks with
 Washington?

Putin's alternative is to come to the defense of the
 Ukrainians who are being attacked. Putin could
 accept the requests of the rebellious provinces
 to rejoin Russia, as he did with Crimea,  declare
  Washington's stooge, Petro Poroshenko, to be a
war criminal and issue a warrant for his arrest,
and send in the Russian military to face down
 the forces sent by Kiev.

Outside the West, this would establish Putin as
 a defender of human rights. Inside the West, it
would make it completely clear to Washington's
 European vassals that the consequence of their
 alignment with Washington is that they will be
drawn into a war with Russia and, likely, also
with China.  Europeans have nothing to gain
 from these wars.

Sooner than later Putin needs to realize that
 his reasonableness is not reciprocated by
 Washington. Washington is taking advantage
 of Putin's reasonableness, and Washington
is pushing Russia harder. 

Putin has done what he can to avoid conflict.
 Now he needs to do the right thing, as he did
 in Georgia and Crimea.

Paul Craig Roberts



Donetsk residents call on Russia


Guilt by insinuation: How
American propaganda works

By Paul Craig Roberts

Why hasn't Washington joined Russian President
 Putin in calling for an objective, non-politicized
 international investigation by experts of the
 case of the Malaysian jetliner? 

The Russian government continues to release facts,
 including satellite photos showing the presence of
 Ukrainian Buk anti-aircraft missiles in locations from
 which the airliner could have been brought down by
 the missile system, and documentation that a
 Ukrainian SU-25 fighter jet rapidly approached the
 Malaysian airliner prior to its downing.

The head of the Operations Directorate of Russian
 military headquarters said at a Moscow press
 conference on July 21st, that the presence of the
 Ukrainian military jet is confirmed by the Rostov
 monitoring centre.

The Russian Defense Ministry pointed out that, at
the moment of destruction of MH-17 an American
 satellite was flying over the area. The Russian
 government urges Washington to make available
 the photos and data captured by the satellite.

President Putin has repeatedly stressed that
the investigation of MH-17, requires "a fully
 representative group of experts to be
working at the site under the guidance of
 the International Civil Aviation Organization
 (ICAO)."

  Putin's call for an independent expert examination
 by ICAO does not sound like a person with anything
 to hide.

Turning to Washington Putin stated: "In the
 meantime, no one (not even the "exceptional
 nation") has the right to use this tragedy to
 achieve their narrowly selfish political goals." 

Putin reminded Washington: "We repeatedly
 called upon all conflicting sides to stop the
 bloodshed immediately and to sit down at
 the negotiating table. I can say with
 confidence that if military operations
 were not resumed [by Kiev] on June 28
 in eastern Ukraine, this tragedy would
not have happened."

What is the American response?

Lies and insinuations.

On July 20, the US Secretary of State, John
Kerry confirmed that pro-Russian separatists
were involved in the downing of the Malaysian
airliner and said that itwas "pretty clear" that
 Russia was involved. Here are Kerry's words:

 "It's pretty clear that this is a system that
was transferred from Russia into the hands
 of separatists. We know with confidence,
with confidence, that the Ukrainians did not
 have such a system anywhere near the
vicinity at that point and time, so it obviously
 points a very clear finger at the separatists."

Kerry's statement is just another of the endless
 lies told by US secretaries of state in the 21st
 century.  Who can forget Colin Powell's package
of lies delivered to the UN about Saddam
Hussein's "weapons of mass destruction"
or Kerry's lie repeated endlessly that Assad
"used chemical weapons against his own
people" or the endless lies about "Iranian
 nukes"?

Remember that Kerry on a number of occasions
 stated that the US had proof that Assad crossed
 the "red line" by using chemical weapons.

 However, Kerry was never able to back up
 his statements with evidence.  The US had
 no evidence to give the British prime minister
whose effort to have Parliament approve
Britain's participation with Washington in a
 military attack on Syria was voted down.
 Parliament told the prime minister, "no
evidence, no war."

Again here is Kerry declaring "confidence"
 in statements that are directly contradicted
 by the Russian satellite photos and endless
 eye witnesses on the ground. 

Why doesn't Washington release its photos
 from its satellite?

The answer is for the same reason that Washington
 will not release all the videos it confiscated and
 that it claims prove that a hijacked 9/11 airliner
hit the Pentagon.  The videos do not support
 Washington's claim, and the US satellite
photos do not support Kerry's claim.

The UN weapons inspectors on the ground in
Iraq reported that Iraq had no weapons of
mass destruction.  However, the fact did not
 support Washington's propaganda and was
 ignored. Washington started a highly
destructive war, based on nothing but
Washington's intentional lie.

The International Atomic Energy Commission's
 inspectors on the ground in Iran and all 16 US
 intelligence agencies reported that Iran had
no nuclear weapons program. However, the
fact
was inconsistent with Washington's
agenda
and was ignored by both the US
government
and the presstitute media.

We are witnessing the same thing right
now with the assertions, in the absence
 of evidence, that Russia is responsible
 for the downing of the Malaysian airliner.

Not every member of the US government
is as reckless as Kerry and John McCain.
In place of direct lies, many US officials
 use insinuations.

US Senator Diane Feinstein is the perfect
 example.  Interviewed on the presstitute
 TV station CNN, Feinstein said: "The issue
 is where is Putin?  I would say, 'Putin, you
 have to man up. You should talk to the
 world. You should say, if this is a mistake,
 which I hope it was, say it.'"

Putin has been talking to the world nonstop,
 calling for an expert non-politicized
investigation,
and Feinstein is asking Putin
why he is hiding
behind silence.  We know
you did it, Feinstein
insinuates, so just tell
us whether you meant
to, or whether it
was an accident.


The way the entire Western news cycle was
 orchestrated with blame instantly being placed
 on Russia long in advance of real information
 suggests that the downing of the airliner was
 a Washington operation.  It is, of course,
 possible that the well-trained presstitute media
 needed no orchestration from Washington in
 order to lay the blame on Russia.  On the other
 hand, some of the news performances seem too
 scripted not to have been prepared in advance. 

We also have the advanced preparation of the
 youtube video that purports to show a Russian
 general and Ukrainian separatists discussing
 having mistakenly downed a civilian airliner.

 As I pointed out earlier, this video is twice damned.
  It was ready in advance and, by implicating the
 Russian military, it overlooked that the Russian
 military can tell the difference between a civilian
 airliner and a military airplane. The existence of
 the video itself implies that there was a plot to
 down the airliner and blame Russia.

I have seen reports that the Russian anti-aircraft
 missile system, as a safety device, is capable
 of contacting aircraft transponders in order to
 verify the type of aircraft.  If the reports are
correct and if the transponders from MH-17
 are found, they might record the contact.

I have seen reports that Ukrainian air control
 changed the route of MH-17 and directed it to
 fly over the conflict area.  The transponders
 should also indicate whetherthis is correct.

  If so, there clearly is at least circumstantial
 evidence that this was anintentional act on
 the part of Kiev, an act which would have
 required Washington's blessing.

There are other reports that there is a divergence
 between the Ukrainian military and the unofficial
 militias formed by the right-wing Ukrainian
 extremists who apparently were the first to attack
 the separatists.  It is possible that Washington
 used the extremists to plot the airliner's destruction
 in order to blame Russia and use the accusations
 to pressure the EU to go along with Washington's
 unilateral sanctions against Russia. We do know
that Washington is desperate to break up the
 growing economic and political ties between
 Russia and Europe. 

If it was a plot to down an airliner, any safety device
 on the missile system could have been turned off,
so as to give no warning, or leave any telltale sign.
  That could be the reason a Ukrainian fighter was
 sent to inspect the airliner.  Possibly the real
 target was Putin's airliner and incompetence in
 implementing the plot resulted in the destruction
of a civilian airliner.

As there are a number of possible explanations,
let's keep open minds and resist Washington's
 propaganda until facts and evidence are in.

 At the very least, Washington is guilty of using
 the incident to blame Russia in advance of the
 evidence. All Washington has shown us so far
 is accusations and insinuations.  If that is all
 Washington continues to show us, we will
know where the blame resides.

In the meantime, remember the story of the boy
 who cried "wolf!"  He lied so many times that
 when the wolf did come, no one believed him.
 Will this be Washington's ultimate fate?

Instead of declaring war on Iraq, Afghanistan,
 Libya, Somalia, and Syria, why did Washington
 hide behind lies?  If Washington wants war with
 Iran, Russia, and China, why not simply declare
 war? 

The reason that the US Constitution requires war
 to begin with a declaration of war by Congress is
 to prevent the executive branch from orchestrating
 wars, in order to further hidden agendas.

 By abdicating its constitutional responsibility, the
 US Congress is complicit in the executive branch's
 war crimes.  By approving Israel's premeditated
 murder of Palestinians, the US government is
 complicit in Israel's war crimes.

Ask yourself this question: Would the world be
 a safer place, with less death, destruction and
 displaced peoples, and more truth and justice,
 if the United States and Israel did not exist? 

Paul Craig Roberts



__________________________________________




Does Russia have a future?
By Paul Craig Roberts

The Russian government has finally realized that
 it has no Western “partners,” and is complaining
 bitterly about the propagandistic lies and
 disinformation issued without any evidence
 whatsoever against the Russian government
 by Washington, its European vassals, and
press-titute media.

Perhaps the Russian government thought
that only Iraq, Libya, Syria, China, and Edward
 Snowden would be subjected to Washington’s
lies and demonization.

It was obvious enough that Russia would be next.

The Russian government and Europe need to look
 beyond Washington’s propaganda, because the
 reality is much worse.

NATO commander General Breedlove and Senate
 bill 2277 clearly indicate that Washington is
 organizing itself and Europe for war on Russia.

Europe is reluctant to agree with Washington to
 put Ukraine in NATO. Europeans understand that
 if Washington or its stooges in Kiev cause a war
with Russia, Europe will be the first casualty.

Washington finds its vassals’ noncompliance
 tiresome. Remember Assistant Secretary of
State Victoria Nuland’s “fuck the EU.” And
 that is just what Washington is about to do.

The US Senate’s Russian Aggression Prevention
 Act, about which I reported in my previous column,
does even more mischief than I reported. If the bill
 passes, which it likely will, Washington becomes
empowered to bypass NATO and to grant the status
 of “allied nation” to Ukraine independently of NATO
 membership. By so doing, Washington can send
 troops to Ukraine and thereby commit NATO to a
war with Russia.

Notice how quickly Washington escalated the
 orchestrated Ukrainian “crisis”  -  without any
 evidence - into “Russian aggression.” Overnight
 we have the NATO commander and US senators
 taking actions against “Russian aggression”, of
which no one has seen any evidence.

With Iraq, Libya, and Syria, Washington learned
 that Washington could act on the basis of bald-
faced lies. No one, not Great Britain, not France,
not Germany, not Italy, not the Netherlands, not
 Canada, not Australia, not Mexico, not New
Zealand, not Israel, nor Japan, nor S. Korea,
nor Taiwan, nor (substitute your selection)
stepped forward to hold the US accountable
 for its blatant lies and war crimes.

The UN even accepted the package of blatant
and obviously transparent lies that Colin Powell
 delivered to the UN. Everything Powell said had
 already been refuted by the UN’s own weapons
 inspectors. Yet the UN pussies gave the go-ahead
 for a devastating war.

The only conclusion is that all the whores were
paid off. Whores can always count on Washington
 paying them off. For money, the whores are selling
 out civilization to Washington’s war, which likely
will be nuclear and terminate life on earth. The
 whores’ money will incinerate with them.

It is hardly surprising that Washington now targets
 Russia. The world has given Washington carte
 blanche to do as it pleases. We have now had three
 administrations of US war criminals welcomed and
 honored wherever the war criminals go. The other
governments in the world continue to desire
 invitations to the White House as indications of
their worth. To be received by war criminals has
 become the highest honor.

Even the president of China comes to Washington
 to receive acceptance by the Evil Empire.

The world did not notice Washington’s war crimes
 against Serbia and didn’t puke when Washington
 then put the Serbian president, who had tried to
 prevent his country from being torn apart by
 Washington, on trial as a war criminal.

The world has made no effort to hold Washington
 responsible for its destruction of Iraq, Afghanistan,
 Libya, and now Syria and Gaza. The world has not
 demanded that Washington stop murdering people
 in Pakistan and Yemen, countries with which
 Washington is not at war. The world looks the other
 way as Washington creates the US Africa Command.
The world looks the other way as Washington sends
 deadly weapons to Israel, with which to murder
 women and children in the Gaza Ghetto. Washington
 passes Senate and House Resolutions cheering on
 the Israeli murder of Palestinians.

Washington is accustomed to its free pass,
granted by the world, to murder and to lie,
and now is using it against Russia.

Russian President Putin’s bet that by responding
 to Washington’s aggression in Ukraine in an
 unprovocative and reasonable manner, would
 demonstrate to Europe that Russia was not the
 source of the problem --- has not paid off.

European countries are captive nations. They
are incapable of thinking and acting for themselves.
 They bend to Washington’s will. Essentially, Europe
 is a nonentity that follows Washington’s orders.

If the Russian government hopes to prevent war
with Washington, which is likely to be the final
war for life on earth, the Russian government
needs to act now and end the problem in Ukraine
 by accepting the separatist provinces’ request to
 be reunited with Russia. Once S.2277 passes,
 Russia cannot retrieve the situation without
 confronting militarily the US, because Ukraine
will have been declared an American ally.

Putin’s bet was reasonable and responsible,
 but Europe has failed him. If Putin does not
use Russian power to bring an end to the p
roblem with which Washington has presented
him in Ukraine while he still can, Washington’s
 next step will be to unleash its hundreds of
NGOs inside Russia to denounce Putin as a
traitor for abandoning the Russian populations
 in the former Russian provinces that Soviet
 leaders thoughtlessly attached to Ukraine.

The problem with being a leader is that you
inherit festering problems left by previous
 leaders. Putin has the problems bequeathed
by Yeltsin. Yeltsin was a disaster for Russia.
 Yeltsin was Washington’s puppet. It is not
certain that Russia will survive Yeltsin’s
mistakes.

If Washington has its way, Russia will survive
 only as an American puppet state.

In a previous column I described the article in
 Foreign Affairs, the journal of the Washington foreign
 policy community, that makes a case that the US
 has such strategic advantage over Russia at this
 time that a “window of opportunity” exists for the
US to remove Russia as a restraint on US hegemony
--- with a preemptive nuclear attack.

It is almost certain that Obama is being told that
 President John F. Kennedy had this window of
 opportunity and did not use it, and that Obama
must not let the opportunity pass a second time.

As Steven Starr explained in a guest column,
there are no winners of nuclear war. Even if the
 US escapes retaliatory strikes, everyone will
die, regardless.

The view in Washington of the neoconservatives,
who control the Obama regime, is that nuclear
war is winnable. No expert opinion supports
 their assumption, but the neocons, not the
experts, are in power.

The American people are out to lunch. They have
 no comprehension of their likely fate. Americans
 are an uninformed people distracted by their
 mounting personal and financial problems.
 If Europeans are aware, they have decided to
live for the moment, on Washington’s money.

What life is faced with is a drive for hegemony
on the part of Washington and ignorant
unconcern on the part of the rest of the world.

Americans, worked into a lather about Washington’s
 unfunded liabilities and the viability of their future
 Social Security pension, won’t be alive to collect it.


______________________________________________



World doomed by Western insouciance
By Paul Craig Roberts

European governments and the Western media
 have put the world at risk by enabling the US’s
 propaganda and aggression against Russia.

Washington has succeeded in using transparent
 lies to demonize Russia as a dangerous aggressive
 country led by a new Hitler or a new Stalin, just as
 Washington sought to vilify Assad in Syria, Chavez
in Venezuela, and, of course, Iran.

The real demons – Clinton, Bush, Obama – are “the
 exceptional and indispensable people” above the
 reach of demonization. Their horrific real crimes
go unnoticed, while fictitious crimes are attributed
 to other people and countries.

The reason that Washington demonizes a leader and
 a country is to permit the creation of circumstances
 that Washington can use to act with force against
 a leader and a country.

Washington’s incessant lies alleging “Russian
 aggression” have created Russian aggression out
 of thin air. John Kerry and the State Department’s
 Marie Harf issue new lies daily, but never any
 supporting evidence. With the stage set, the US
 Senate, the NATO commander and the Chairman
 of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff are busy at work
 energizing the wheels of war.

Senate bill 2277 provides for beefing up forces on
 Russia’s borders and for elevating Ukraine’s status
 to “ally of the US” so that US troops can assist the
 war against “terrorists” in Ukraine.  

NATO commander Breedlove is preparing his plans
 for stockpiling war material on Russia’s borders so
 that US/NATO troops can more quickly strike Russia.

Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, General
Martin Dempsey, is at work preparing American
 opinion for the upcoming war.

On July 24, Dempsey told Aspen Security Forum,
 a high level group where US opinion is formed,
that
Putin’s aggression in Ukraine is comparable
to
Stalin’s invasion of Poland in 1939 and that
the
Russian threat was not limited to Ukraine
or
Eastern Europe, but was global.

The intellects in the Aspen Forum did not break
 out laughing, when Dempsey told them that
Russia’s (alleged but unproven) involvement in
 Ukraine was the first time since 1939 that a
country made a conscious decision to use its
military force inside another sovereign nation
 to achieve its objectives.

 No one asked Dempsey what Washington has
been doing during the last three presidential
 regimes: Clinton in Serbia, Bush and Obama in
 Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Pakistan and
Yemen,
Obama in Libya and Syria.


Here are Dempsey’s words: “You’ve got a Russian
 government that has made a conscious decision to
 use its military force inside another sovereign nation
 to achieve its objectives. It’s the first time since
 1939 or so that that’s been the case. They clearly
 are on a path to assert themselves differently not
 just in Eastern Europe, but Europe in the main,
and towards the United States.”

Washington’s view that the world is its oyster is
so
ingrained that neither Dempsey nor his upper
 echelon audience at the Aspen Forum noticed the
 absurdity of his statement. Washington and the
 brainwashed US population take if for granted that
 the “exceptional, indispensable nation” isn't limited
 in its actions by the sovereignty of other countries.

Washington takes for granted that US law prevails
 in other countries over the countries’ own laws –
just ask France or Switzerland, that Washington
 can tell foreign financial institutions and
 corporations with whom they can do business
and with whom they cannot – just ask every
country and company prevented from doing
business with Iran, that Washington can invade
 any country whose leader Washington can
demonize & overthrow – just ask Iraq, Honduras,
 Libya, Serbia, and so forth, and that Washington
 can conduct military operations against peoples
 in foreign countries, such as Pakistan and Yemen,
 with which Washington is not at war.

All of this is possible, because Washington has
 claimed the title from Israel of being “God’s Chosen
 People.” Of course, Israel’s loss of the title has not
 stopped Israel from acting in the same way.

Washington has put in motion the wheels of war.
Once the wheels of war begin to turn, momentum
 carries them forward. The foolish, indeed utterly
 stupid, governments and media in Europe seem
 unaware of Washington’s orchestration of their
 future or lack thereof, or they are indifferent to it.

 They are dooming themselves and all of humanity
 by their insouciance.

Readers who cannot tolerate problems without
 solutions always request solutions. OK, here is
 the solution:

The only possibility of avoiding war is that Putin
take his case to the UN. If Washington can send
 Colin Powell to the UN unarmed with any truth to
 make Washington’s case for war against Iraq,
Putin should be able to take his case to the UN
 against Washington’s war against Russia.

The case that the emperor has no clothes is
 an easy one to make.

Unlike Washington, Putin is willing to share the
 evidence that Russia has about who is doing
what in Ukraine. It is a simple matter to establish
 that Washington organized a coup that overthrew
 an elected government, supports violence against
 those who object to the coup, and has turned a
deaf ear to Russia’s repeated pleas for Kiev and
 the separatists to negotiate their differences.

Putin should make it clear to the world that
 Washington continues with provocative military
 steps against Russia, with force buildups on
Russia’s borders and calls for more buildups,
with S.2277 which reads like a US preparation
 for war, with provocative actions & accusations
by top US generals and government officials
 against Russia, and with efforts to isolate Russia
 and to inflict economic and political injury
 on Russia.

Putin should make it clear to the world that there
 is a limit to provocations that Russia can accept
and that Russia believes that Russia is
in danger
of a preemptive nuclear attack by
Washington.


 Putin can describe Washington’s withdrawal from
 the ABM treaty, the construction of ABM bases on
 Russia’s borders, and the announced change in
 Washington’s war doctrine that elevates US nuclear
 forces from a retaliatory role to a preemptive first
 strike role. These actions are clearly directed at
 Russia (and China–wake up China! You are next!).

Putin must state clearly that the likely consequence
 of the world continuing to enable Washington’s lies
 & aggression will be not merely another disastrous
 war, but the termination of life.

The governments of the world, especially
 Washington’s vassals in Europe, Canada,
Australia, and Japan, need to be told that it
is
their responsibility to stop their enabling
of
Washington’s aggression or to accept
their
responsibility for World War III.


At least we could all have the enjoyment of
watching the arrogant Samantha Powers and
 the craven British lapdog rise and walk out of
 the UN proceedings. There is no doubt what-
soever that Washington is unable to answer
 the charges.

Here again is the Wolfowitz Doctrine that controls
US foreign policy and that condemns Planet Earth
 to death:

“Our first objective is to prevent the re-emergence
of a new rival, either on the territory of the former
 Soviet Union or elsewhere, that posses a threat on
 the order of that posed formerly by the Soviet Union.

 “This is a dominant consideration underlying the
new regional defense strategy and requires that
 we endeavor to prevent any hostile power from
 dominating a region whose resources would,
 under consolidated control, be sufficient to
 generate global power.”

A hostile power is defined as any country that
 is not a Washington vassal.

The Wolfowitz Doctrine commits the United States,
 its peoples, Washington’s gullible EU allies and
 those peoples, to war with Russia and China.

The destruction of the world is what the idiot EU
 governments and the presstitute Western media
 are fostering by their enablement of Washington’s
 lies and aggression.


___________________________________



WHY RUSSIA REFUSES WAR


Two thirds of Russians say in the latest
poll that they are against sending troops
to Ukraine, despite the latest US' moves.



WHY EU LEADERS ARE FOLLOWING
US SANCTIONS TO HURT RUSSIA


 The European Union is expanding anti-Russian
 sanctions against its own interests under tough
 pressure from the US in favour of the American
 military-industrial complex, say experts.

“This week, the EU is to expand and toughen
anti-Russian measures. This is obviously an
 operation staged by Washington that is using
 the Malaysian airliner downed in Ukraine with
 most of its passengers being Europeans, as
an excuse to defeat Russia,” says the director
 of the strategic analysis & developments dept,
 at the sanctioned Vnesheconombank, Vladimir
 Andrianov.

“The unprecedented propaganda campaign
 on Russia has turned the Old World's public
against Russia, to such an extent that its
politicians are afraid of looking indecisive
and losing voters' support, to blindly take
 their cue from the US”

“The EU has no chance to withstand US pressure
 over anti-Russian measures,” the expert explains:
 “Washington overtly interferes with Russian-EU gas
 supply talks & blackmails France over its contract
 on helicopter carrier Mistral supplies to Russia.

“The US is flagrantly pursuing its own policy in
Europe
and is appointing its own people to
key posts in the EU.”


“EU countries have a deficit of strong leaders
 now, and European governments are weak.
Meanwhile,
the EU's bureaucratic machine is
proving to be incompetent
on issues of global
politics and economics and
totally dependent
on the US will,” Andrianov says.


 “The fact that even German Chancellor Angela
 Merkel suddenly switched tactics after several
 months of a moderate approach shows the EU
 leaders’ dependence on the US.

 “Washington keeps files on all prominent politicians.
 It certainly has blackmail evidence against Merkel.
 It’s no coincidence that her cellphone was bugged
by US special services. For this reason, the German
 chancellor yielded to pressure from Washington.”

“All US foreign policy starting from Vietnam, has
been tailored to its military's needs. Amid global
 competition, the US - as the world’s gendarme -
 cannot bear the thought that Russia remains the
only major geopolitical opponent which it can't
control,” the expert says.

Washington aims to arm the Ukrainian army with
 modern weapons and equipment, and pull Russia
 into a confrontation with Ukraine,  Mr Andrianov
believes.

“For this purpose, the US Congress plans to
 recognise Ukraine as a major non-NATO ally
 and provide it with direct military aid.

 “The S.2277 - Russian Aggression Prevention Act
 of 2014 - has passed two readings in the US.
These moves are clearly designed to serve the
 interests of the US military-industrial complex
 in order to kindle the fire in Europe and line US
 pockets on weapon supplies to the crisis zone,”
Andrianov says.

“The scenario of pulling Russia into armed conflict
 with Ukraine is so dangerous that it's unacceptable,”
the dean of the Higher School of Economics Faculty
 for World Economy and International Affairs, Sergey
 Karaganov says.

 “But the EU sanctions already announced, and
those on the table, mean that the large-scale
US's anti-Russian campaign, caused by the
Boeing's downing in Ukraine, is bearing fruit.”

“US pressure for the EU to adopt anti-Russian
 sanctions aims at splitting Europe, weakening
 Germany and inflicting as much grave damage
 as possible on Russia, to deprive the country
of its power in the world,” the expert says.

“Europe is blindly obeying the US by imposing
 anti-Russian sanctions, because EU welfare
directly relies on the US in financial terms,
the
Deputy Director of Russia's Academy of
Sciences
Institute for the USA and Canadian
Studies, Major
General Pavel Zolotarev says.

“In terms of its security policy, the EU is peace-
ful under the US umbrella. Washington bears the
 lion’s share of NATO spending, enabling the EU
 countries to reduce defense spending to 2% of
their gross domestic product.”

“EU countries lay out 6-7 times more for education
 and healthcare than defense,” the analyst adds.

 “Russia cannot afford such a budget distribution,
 while EU countries can, thanks to the US. Hence
 their obedience to Washington.”




The video above shows a mob of about
50 men in Kiev, attacking one of the
few news outlets left which Kiev does
not control. A legal case has dragged
on for months, threatening its closure.

The US and UK say that the US-backed
Kiev coup, is a "people's revolution"...

we say it's fascism.


______________________________



LATEST NEWS ON THURSDAY


Greece Reacts against European
               Declaration of Threats to Russia               
 
 The new government in Greece expresses
 its anger to the European Union... for not
 having taken Greece's views into account,
before drafting its statement threatening
Russia with new, further sanctions.

In the EU's text published yesterday, EU
 leaders blamed Moscow for the increasing
violence in east Ukraine, where 30 deaths
 were reported in Mariupol, and for a sharp
 deterioration in security and a worsening
 humanitarian situation.

The Greek rejection of this statement is
because, says deputy foreign minister,
Nikos Juntis,  the EU statement was
 drafted 'without following established
 procedures, without informing Greece
 or obtaining the consent of the PM,
 Alexis Tsipras'.

Juntis rejects 'the spirit of sanctions against
 Russia, which has negative consequences
 on agriculture, and on the economy of our
country, and on its interests in general.'

He also attacks 'the fevered haste of
some Member States (against Russia),
and that this haste is reflected in the
statement not having been concerted
with Athens.

Juntis, whose protest was transmitted by
 telephone to the High Representative of
the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security
Policy, Federica Mogherini, says Greece's
 position on the issue will be fixed today,
 by the Council of Ministers of Athens.


___________________________



Casualties as Hezbollah Targets
 Israeli Convoy in Shebaa Farms

The Islamic resistance in Lebanon targeted
 an Israeli convoy of 9 vehicles in occupied
 Shebaa Farms on Wednesday, killing and
injuring a large number of Israeli soldiers.

Media outlets initially reported that "an
anti-tank missile hit a vehicle in Shebaa
 Farms."

Israeli Channel 10 added that the Israeli
convoy  targeted included a number of
Israeli military commanders who were
 inspecting the area.

In details, the Channel pointed out that
the resistance could penetrate all Israeli
 security measures and ambush a military
 convoy, launching rockets at the vehicles.

Hezbollah prepared militarily and logistically
 for the operation, and then withdrew troops
safely after executing a successful mission.

Hezbollah claims the attack, saying an
Israeli convoy was hit, leaving numbers
 of casualties.

The attack comes just over a week after an
 Israeli raid in Quneitra in Syria’s Golan killed
 six Hezbollah fighters.

"At 11:25 this morning, Quneitra Heroic
Martyrs group of the Islamic Resistance,
 targeted an Israeli military convoy in the
 Shebaa Farms, of several vehicles which
were transporting Zionist officers and
 soldiers," a statement released by
 Hezbollah Media Relations said.

“Several vehicles were destroyed, and
 casualties were caused among the
enemy ranks,” the statement added.

Shortly after the attack, the occupation
 army announced that one of its vehicles
 was destroyed and that several soldiers
 were injured --- many of whom were in
a critical condition.

Conflicting reports emerged concerning
 the number of casualties. Sky News
reported that 4 soldiers were killed,
while the Israeli Military Censor
 put the death toll at 2 soldiers.

According to Israeli media outlets, a
Givati Brigade battalion commander,
 major Yuhay Klinger, as well as a
 soldier, Dowr Nini, were killed. 


_______________________________



Cuba urges US to end economic
 blockade, return Guantanamo

Cuban leader Raul Castro calls on the US
to end the economic embargo & demands
 that Guantanamo Bay be returned to Cuba
as relations between the nations undergo
 a historic thaw.

Castro reaffirms Cuba’s willingness to
normalize relations with the US, but
 stresses that the embargo must first
 be lifted.

"The main problem has not been resolved:
 the economic, commercial and financial
blockade, which causes huge human &
 economic damage, and is a violation of
 international rights," Castro says, at a
Latin American summit in Costa Rica.

The Cuban president also notes that
the US must return Guantanamo to Cuba
 before a full rapprochement. Guantanamo
 Bay has been under US control for over
 a century.

Castro stresses that he will not let the
US interfere in Cuba's internal affairs.

He suggests that Obama extend measures
similar to those the US announced for the
 telecom industry to all Cuba’s economy,
but adds that he knows that ending the
embargo, the longest one in modern
history, will be a “long and hard road.”

Though Obama used his executive powers
 to ease both travel and trade restrictions
 on Cuba since the announcement, Castro
 says the US leader needs to do more.

"He could, with resolve, use his broad
executive powers, to substantially
change the scope of the blockade,
 even without a Congress decision,"
 he says.

Obama, however, faces opposition from
 Republican lawmakers who are against
normalizing ties with Cuba before it
 agrees to "political change".

“Relations with the Castro regime should
 not be revisited, let alone normalized, until
 the Cuban people enjoy freedom – and not
 one second sooner,” Speaker of the House
 John Boehner said last month.

“There is no ‘new course’ here, only another
in a long line of mindless concessions to a
 dictatorship that brutalizes its people and
schemes with our enemies.”


____________________________



Islamic State operative confesses to
receiving funding through US - report

A man believed to be a Pakistani commander
 of Islamic State or Daish, Yousaf al Salafi,
has confessed to law enforcement agencies
 in Pakistan to getting funds via the US, says
 a leading Pakistani newspaper, giving sources.

Al Salafi and two companions were arrested
 in Lahore, on January 22nd, according to AFP.

“During investigations, Yousaf al Salafi revealed
 that he was funded – via America – to run the
 organization in Pakistan and recruit young
 people to fight in Syria,” a source close to the
 investigations revealed to Urdu-language Daily
 Express, on condition of anonymity, according
 to its sister English paper The Express Tribune.

The newspaper also claimed that Al Salafi was
 in fact arrested last year sometime in December.

Al Salafi also allegedly confessed to recruiting
 jihadists to send them to Syria, gaining about
 $600 per person. He also admitted that he'd
been working with a Pakistani accomplice,
 who was reportedly the Imam of a mosque.

“The US has been condemning IS activities,
 but unfortunately has not been able to stop
 funding of these organizations, which is being
 routed through the US.

“The US had to dispel the impression that it
 is financing the group for its own interests &
 that is why it launched offensives against the
 organization in Iraq but not in Syria,” a source
 said. It is not made clear where, exactly, the
 funds came from, within the US.

The sources who spoke to the Express Tribune
 also stated that the awkward revelations had
been revealed to US Secretary of State John
Kerry, on his recent trip to Islamabad.

“The matter was also taken up with CENTCOM
 [US Central Command] chief, General Lloyd
Austin, during his visit to Islamabad earlier
this month,” a source said.

A source told Reuters last week that Al-Salafi
is a Pakistani-Syrian. He came to Pakistan via
Turkey five months ago and established an
ISIS group in Pakistan.

In recent months, Pakistani media has
been discussing the amount of influence
 Islamic State has in Pakistan, and cited
 several incidents in Lahore and Multan,
 where Islamic State flags & graffiti have
 been seen.

However Pakistan's authorities indicate
 that local militants oppose Islamic State,
according to IHS Jane’s defense review.

In response to large-scale advances made
by ISIS militants in June 2014 in Iraq and
Syria, the US and others began a large-
scale air campaign over the region.

The US and the UK have sent non-operation
 soldiers to Iraq, as well as special forces.

According to Pentagon documents, seen by
 AP, President Obama will ask for a $38 billion
 rise in the Defense Department's
core budget.

 Of this, $5.3 billion will go to train and equip
 Iraq's armed forces & 'moderate opposition'
 in Syria.


__________________________________________



Blitzkrieg turned into mayhem: Hacktivists
 claim finds show Ukrainian troops’ annihilation

Ukraine's subversive hacker group CyberBerkut
 has published documents allegedly exposing
a dreadful situation in Kiev's troops attacking
 separatist forces in the East: with war crimes,
a tremendous loss of lives and the wholesale
 desertion of encircled troops.

The anti-government activists claim they have
 hacked the personal computer of Ukraine’s Judge
 Advocate General and copied numbers of classified
 documents. The documents allegedly expose some
 dark secrets of Kiev’s authorities regarding the real
 state of things in the ‘anti-terrorist operation’ zone
 in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions of the country.

The price of the war resumed by President Petro
 Poroshhenko in the east is terrifying. The hacked
 documents claim at least 1,100 servicemen of
the Ukrainian army have lost their lives over the
 the last two weeks. Many dozens of Ukrainian
 soldiers have given up to the separatist forces.

 Ukraine's army has lost over 100 tanks and
 armored vehicles.

This information collides with the latest reports
 by Kiev generals about “no losses”, “defeated
 enemy” & “thousands of eliminated terrorists”.

The explanation for this is simple: according
 to the documents allegedly hacked, Ukraine's
Security Service (SBU) has officially forbidden
 Defense Ministry officials to show the true
casualties among servicemen.

Leaked document. Image from
 http://www.cyber-berkut.org/
[SEE THE TRANSLATION BELOW]

“Order by the first deputy head of the Anti-
Terrorist center of the Ukraine's Security
 Service (SBU)

on anti-terrorist operation

Relating to orders by Defense Ministry, General
 Staff of Ukrainian Defense Forces and Head of
 anti-terrorist center of the Ukrainian Security
Service to restrict from 26th January 2015 the
 presentation of data on real losses in the
 area of anti-terrorist operation.

Order:

1. Commanders of military units shall present
 reports only to the anti-terrorist center.

2. Deputy head of the Anti-Terrorist HQ shall
 instruct via Military Medical Department of
 the Ukrainian Defense Ministry head of the
 Dnepropetrovsk Military Hospital, Southern
 Military Medical Center (Odessa) and Northern
 Military Medical Center (Kharkov) to stop
 until further notice make reports through
official channels on real losses in the area
 of anti-terrorist operation.”

The documents the hacktivists claim they have
 obtained, paint a grim picture of the Ukrainian
 war: discipline of the troops is undermined,
troops are running out of reserves, mobilization
 is stalled as army draftees escape the country,
mostly to Russia and other neighboring states.

With a lack of hardened troops, Ukrainian
 military leaders order recruits into meaning-
less attacks on multi-layered defenses of
 the separatists, which results in havoc
 and vast casualties.

Ukraine's military have even employed
 barrier troops who fired at their fellow
service-men to prevent their retreat, as
could be learnt from the documents.

CyberBerkut accuses Ukrainian commanders
 of defecting, leaving their subordinates on the
 battlefield. The zone along the frontline is full
 of prowling deserters and blood-thirsty psycho-
paths dressed up in Ukrainian uniforms,
claims the group.

“We’re CyberBerkut. We don’t forget, we don’t
 forgive,” announce the hacktivists, promising
 to follow up on “other criminal organizations”
that started the “civil war in Ukraine.”


________________________________


FIDEL ON US/CUBA RAPPROCHEMENT

The 88-year-old Castro does not “trust the US,
nor have I exchanged any words with them,”
he writes in a letter to the student federation
 at the University of Havana and printed in
the Communist Party newspaper, Granma.

Yet, “it does not mean I reject a peace-
ful resolution to conflicts,” he continues.

 “We will always defend cooperation and
friendship with all peoples of the world
--- including our political adversaries.”


_________________________________


Kiev uses anti-retreat units to stop
 men falling back – E. Ukraine militia

"Ukrainian troops are demoralized, which is
proven by an unprecedented incident that
occurred last night,” DPR Defense Ministry
 spokesperson, Eduard Basurin, says, as
quoted by Donetsk News Agency.

An injured Ukrainian soldier who surrendered
 to the militias, said, during questioning, that
 “anti-retreat units from territorial defense
battalions were used against the Ukrainian
 troops,” Basurin states.

According to the spokesperson, 70 Ukrainian
 troops have surrendered to the rebels, since
 January 9th, with 11 of them capitulating in
 the past 24 hours.

Meanwhile, Ukraine's Defense Ministry has
decided to accelerate students' graduation in
 the country's military schools and universities,
 in order to deploy them to the conflict zone in
 Donetsk and Lugansk Regions, TASS reports.

“It's being done to make up for the huge
combat losses of officers” in the southeast
 fighting - and a mass mobilization evasion,
 by the reserve officers of Ukraine's army,
representative parent associations of
 Ukraine's military schools, say.

According to the parents, the Defense
Ministry now plans to send 2,000 under-
educated lieutenants, to the war-torn
 southeast.

The preparations for early graduation are
 already underway -- in military schools in
 Kharkov, Lvov, and Poltava, they state.

 Kharkov Air Force University Graduates,
 are now being sent to infantry units, due
 to a shortage of operational planes in the
 Ukrainian military.

The parents stress that they don't agree
with the decision by the Defense Ministry,
 and promise to stage rallies and block the
country’s military schools and universities.


___________________________



Ukrainians grow unwilling to
 serve in the army — media

Ukraine’s male population is starting to go
abroad in search of jobs, in huge numbers,
 to dodge the current mobilization campaign.

"Entire villages are booking buses to send
 their men as far away as possible. Military
 committees are handing over the lists of
fugitives to law enforcers, to try to restrict
 the loss of men subject to conscription, as
they move outside their native districts
and areas," Vesti writes.

Natalya, from Zaporizhia in S. East Ukraine,
 sent her son to Russia several months ago.
 She told Vesti, on condition of anonymity,
 that she has also sent her husband away
 (also to Russia), the week before.

 Men from western regions, are leaving
for Poland and Hungary.  Kiev's military
 committee is also complaining about
 draft dodgers.

Human resource experts note a growing
 interest in vacancies abroad. "In the past
 3 months, over 281 job seekers interested
 in work abroad - including 176 last month  
- have posted their CVs on our website,"
says Tatyana Pashkina of Rabota.ru portal.

The authorities in Kiev-controlled parts of
 Lugansk region, have recently forbidden
men aged 18-60, to leave for militia-held
 territories or abroad, without permission
 from the local military committees.

Last Monday, Belgorod-Dnestrovsky City
Council in Odessa region, published a ban
 on reservists leaving the region’s territory.

The fourth mobilization in Ukraine started
 on January 20th. Two more are scheduled
 for April and June.

According to Ukrainian Defense Minister,
 Stepan Poltorak, about 104,000 people
may be mobilized in 2015.

The Ukrainian army’s Chief of Staff, Vladimir
Talalay, says draft dodgers will face from 2 to
5 years in prison, and that women aged 25-50
 could be drafted into the army, if necessary.


-----------------------------------------


Russia may help Ukrainians
 avoid army service

Russia's President Vladimir Putin says
Russia might extend the period of stay
 in Russia, for those of conscription age
 who could be drafted into Kiev's army.

"Many people, by the way, do not want to
 be 'mobilized'. They are trying to move to
Russia and lie low for some time. And they
 are absolutely right because they're simply
 being sent into bullets like cannon fodder,"
 Putin said, at a meeting with students of
 "Gornyi" University of Mineral Resources.

At the same time, the president said that
Ukraine nationals can't stay in Russia for
longer than the period established in law.

"Under a new law, Ukrainian citizens can't
 stay in Russia for more than 30 days. After
 that, they have to return to Ukraine, where
 they are being caught -- and sent into the
 bullets again. That's why I think that we're
 going to change something in that law,"
Putin said, adding that the stay for some
categories of people, especially those of
 conscription age, could be extended
within the legal framework.


___________________________________



Russian lawmaker praises Americans;
 calls US policy absolute evil for Europe

"Americans are a wonderful, enterprising,
 talented nation. But US foreign policy is an
absolute evil for Europe," Russia's State
 Duma Speaker, Sergey Naryshkin, said, at
a round table in PACE dedicated to the role
 of parliaments in the restoration of trust.

He reminds us of the "exceptionalism" idea.
 "You immediately recall the authors of this
 idea: the ideology of the exceptionalism of
one race," Naryshkin said.

"As long as Europe is under Washington’s
 dictatorship, the stability and security of
 our European continent will be in the zone
 of a very serious risk," he warned.

_____________________________


Russian leaders condemn attempts
 to revise World War II history

Russia's top leaders say that attempts to
distort the history of World War II, could
open the gate for a revival of Nazism.

"We must clearly understand that any attempt
 to rewrite history, and revise the contribution
 of our country to the Great Victory (of World
 War II), effectively means justifying the Nazi
 crimes and will open the gates for this deadly
 ideology," the Kremlin's press service quotes
 President Vladimir Putin, as saying.

"We must defend the truth about the events
of the Second World War, as forgetting the
lessons of our common past could lead to
the repetition of such terrible tragedies
(as the Holocaust),"  Putin says.

He stresses that it was the Red Army of the
Soviet Union that saved the Jewish, as well
as other people in the world, from the Nazis'
 "merciless annihilation."

PM Dmitry Medvedev says historical revisions
 have been made by politicians in countries...
 that once suffered from Nazi occupation.

"Lately, the memories of World War II have
been twisted for political speculative goals.
 There are even cynical attempts to white-
wash war criminals and fascist henchmen,"
 Medvedev says.

He says these attempts are provoking new
 conflicts and are leading to new tragedies.

 "The revival of radical nationalism means
 the oblivion of the lessons of World War II,"
Medvedev says, in a statement.

Both Putin and Medvedev were attending a
 memorial event to mark the 70th anniversary
of the liberation of Auschwitz concentration
 camp, by the Soviet Army.

Earlier this month, the Kremlin said Putin was
 not going to attend the Auschwitz liberation
 memorial events planned in Poland, as he had
 not received an official invitation to Tuesday's
 gathering, marking the 70th anniversary of the
 liberation of Auschwitz concentration camp.

Observers see this as the latest reflection
of a fraying of Russia's relationships with
 Western countries, as their ties have been
 dragged towards the worst since the Cold
War, due to the Ukraine crisis.


_______________________



A Woman with Cojons

Argentina’s president says the country’s
 intelligence agency is a “national debt”
 and has announced plans to disband it.

President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner
 says that she has now prepared the draft
 legislation, to set up an alternative body.

"I have prepared a bill to reform the
intelligence service," Fernandez says
- insisting that she wants it discussed
 at an urgent session of the Congress.

She says her plan “is to dissolve the
 Intelligence Secretariat, and create
 a Federal Intelligence Agency", and
 adds that new leaders for the agency
 should be picked by a president and
 confirmed by the country’s Senate.

Fernandez says the intelligence
 services have the same structure
 they had during a US-backed army
 regime, which ended in 1983.

"Combating impunity is a priority of
 my government," she emphasizes.

She made her decision after the
 mysterious death of prosecutor
Alberto Nisman -- hours before
he was about to testify against
senior government authorities.

Nisman had probed the bombing of
 a Jewish centre in Buenos Aires in
1994, which killed 85 people.

He was found dead on January 18th
 in his apartment, in Buenos Aires.

Investigators initially said he had
 committed suicide, but then said
 homicide or "induced suicide”,
 could not be ruled out.


___________________________________



Security forces free Iraq's
eastern province of Diyala

Iraqi security forces on Monday freed Iraq's
 eastern province of Diyala from Islamic State
(IS) militants after 3 days of fierce clashes,
 the provincial police chief says.

"Diyala province is now completely free of IS
  after the military offensive started on Friday
 and ended on Sunday night," Lt General
Jamil al-Shimary, tells reporters.

Hadi al-Ameri, a leading figure in the
 powerful Shiite party Badr Organization
confirms that the whole province is now
free from IS militants and that some 58
security members were killed, and
hundreds wounded.

"A total of 58 security members were killed
 and 248 wounded, by the latest battles
which ended the last redoubts of Daash
 (the first Arabic letters of IS extremist
group) in the areas of Mansouriya and
 near Maqdadiyah town, some 100 km
 northeast of Baghdad," the state-run
 Iraqiya channel quotes Hadi al-Ameri
 as saying, while with the troops, at
 the battlefields in Diyala.

Nearly half the casualties were from
 Shiite militias which fought with the
 Iraqi security forces in battles against
IS militants, says Ameri, whose Badr
group members are part of the militias.

"Diyala has been fully freed, but some
individuals from IS militants are now
 hiding in orchards and hideouts, but
 they will be hunted down by the
security forces," Ameri says, adding
 that the next battles will concentrate
 on freeing Salahudin's capital, Tikrit,
170 km north of Baghdad, as well as
 the provincial towns, Alam and Dowr.

Ameri's Badr Organization was previously
 known as Badr Brigade and maintains its
 longtime ties with neighbour Iran, where
 it was first built, during the 8 year long
Iraq-Iran war, in the 1980s.

Ameri's Brigade emerged as a powerful militia
 during the years following the US-led invasion
 of Iraq, in 2003, before turning into a political
 organization a few years later.

 Badr Brigade was the military wing of the
 Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, a Shiite
party led by Shiite cleric Ammar al-Hakim.

On Friday, thousands of Iraqi army, police
and Shiite militias backed by Iraqi aircraft
 launched a major offensive with the aim
 of ending the presence of the extremist
 militants in the country's Diyala province.

Despite the announcement of liberating
 Diyala, three Shiite militiamen were killed
and four wounded on Monday morning, as
a road bomb struck a militia vehicle near
 an orchard, northeast of Maqdadiyah, an
anonymous police source says.

The security situation in Iraq, badly
deteriorated on June 10th, 2014, as
Iraqi security forces and IS clashed.

 IS then took control of Iraq's Nineveh
 province and later seized large areas
 after Iraqi security forces abandoned
 their posts in mainly Sunni provinces.


__________________________________



Kiev introduces state of emergency in
 Donbass, high alert across Ukraine

The Ukrainian government has introduced a
state of emergency in Donetsk & Lugansk,
 and put every other region on high alert,
PM Arseny Yatsenyuk announces.

"In accordance with the Ukrainian Code of
 Civil Protection, the Cabinet of Ministers
has decided to recognize an emergency
situation at state level."

 "The Ukrainian government has decided to
 impose a state of emergency in the Donetsk
 and Lugansk Regions," Yatsenyuk is quoted
 as saying by Interfax-Ukraine.

According to the PM, the move is aimed at
providing the most efficient coordination of
all government agencies in order to ensure
civil protection and the population's safety.

The statement was made after a meeting of
 the Cabinet of Ministers, which took place
 at the headquarters of the State Emergency
 Service of Ukraine, in Kiev, on Monday.

Yatsenyuk adds that the state of emergency
 in the southeast will be overseen by a special
 government commission.

This will be headed by the PM himself, with
 Deputy-PM Gennady Zubko and Emergencies
Minister Sergey Bochkovsky as his deputies.

Kiev’s troops and Donbass militia forces are
 locked in renewed hostilities in southeastern
 Ukraine after a shaky ceasefire reached by
the sides in September, utterly collapsed.

Ukrainian forces launched a massive offensive
 in mid-January, but failed to gain any ground
 despite employing tanks, artillery and aviation.

On Saturday, a residential area in the port city
 of Mariupol, which has been relatively insulated
 from violence throughout most of the conflict,
 was shelled.

Kiev's forces and the militias have been trading
 blame for the incident, which took the lives of
 at least 30 people and saw another 100 injured.

The Ukrainian conflict began last April, when
Kiev launched a military operation in the
 southeastern Donetsk and Lugansk Regions,
after they refused to recognize the country’s
 new, coup-imposed authorities.

The death toll in the Ukraine conflict has
 exceeded 5,000 people. Over 10,000 have
 been injured, according to UN estimates.

___________________________


* * * NEWSFLASH * * *

Putin: Ukraine army is NATO legion
aimed at restraining Russia

The Ukrainian army is essentially a ‘NATO
 legion’, which doesn’t pursue
Ukraine's
national interests, but persists to restrict
 Russia, President Vladimir Putin says, in
a surprise statement today...

Russia faces an immediate mass mobilisation
in Ukraine, and the anti-US coup militias have
opened up a wide front to drive Kiev's forces
back, as Kiev uses heavy artillery to destroy
the east's infrastructure in civilian areas.

More on Putin's surprise speech to come.


________________________________


Greece’s anti-austerity Syriza party
 officially wins parliamentary elections

Radical left-wing opposition party Syriza
has officially won Greece's parliamentary
elections, securing 149 seats, out of 300.

On Monday, Syriza managed to gain key
support to form a new government, after
 a meeting with Panos Kammenos, head of
anti-austerity party, Independent Greeks,
 which also opposes Greece's bailout deal.

Kammenos says his party backs Tsipras
to be the next prime minister.

"From this moment there is a government in
the country. The Independent Greeks give
 a vote of confidence to PM Alexis Tsipras.
There is an agreement in principle," Panos
 Kammenos says, after talks with Syriza's
 leader, as quoted by Reuters.

“It's an historic victory. It sends a message
against austerity and
in favor of dignity and
democracy,” Panos
Skourletis, spokes-
person, tells
Greek Mega TV.

Syriza is the first anti-austerity party to
come to
power in the EU.


______________________________



This happened the day after the Greek election:
STRASBOURG, January 26.

"Officials of the Russian Communist party were
 kicked and pushed around by two Russian-
speaking men."

Managing officials of Russia's Communist party
 (KPRF), Gennady Zyuganov, & First deputy head
 of the Communist Party, Ivan Melnikov, were
 attacked near the PACE building.

 Both Zyuganov and Melnikov, members of the
 Russian delegation to PACE, expressed surprise
 and anger, over the fact that nobody was near
 the building of the Council of Europe, to shield
 them from the assaulters.

Talking to journalists, Melnikov confirms that
 both were attacked.

 "We were kicked & pushed around," Melnikov
 says. He describes the assaulters as " two
Russian-speaking men who uttered the word
 "Ukraine" in connection with something that
I couldn't make out."

 He expresses surprise over the absence of
security measures that local law enforcers
 "ought to have ensured."

This is  another example of the  low and ugly
 games that NATO is playing against Russia.


_____________________________


US SAYS "PEACE", PUSHES FOR WAR NOW

The Kremlin says Washington’s foreign policy
 on Ukraine is “aggressive” because it “fails to
 meet present-day realities, and demonstrates
 that the US actually wants to dominate the
 world.”

According to the commander of United States
Army Europe, the US military is to send troops
 to Ukraine this Spring to train four companies
 in the Ukrainian National Guard.

The US has already earmarked $19 million to
help build the Ukrainian National Guard.  Lt.
 Gen Frederick Ben Hodges led a US command
 delegation to Kiev last Wednesday, to begin
"evaluating the situation" in Ukraine’s restive
south-eastern regions.


____________________________________



Ukraine: The truth instead of lies
 
Western media outlets have been spreading
 outright lies in recent days, as they've been
 doing since the Ukrainian unrest started last
 February, when Fascist forces seized power
in an illegal coup, ousting a democratically
elected President -- against all legal norms
necessary for impeachment -- and placed
 a Putschist government in control.

Many western citizens are unaware that
Fascist massacres occurred across south-
eastern Ukraine after the illegal Putsch in
 Kiev -- because reports have been scant,
or non-existent.

Fascist attacks:

May 2, 2014. Over fifty people were burnt
alive in the Trade Union Building in Odessa
 when Fascists attacked Russian-speaking
 protesters. Those who escaped the flames
 were hacked to death with axes while the
crowd jeered chanting "Death to Russians".

May 2, 2014 Kramatorsk: numerous unarmed
 civilians mown down by the national guard.

May 9, Mariupol:  Fascists mowed down un-
armed civilians with firearms. The statistics
show 46 police shot by Fascist national guard
 forces - for refusing to murder civilians - and
 a further 143 civilians slaughtered.

June 8 2014: Fascist forces attack Slavyansk
 murdering many civilians, including children,
 women and the elderly.

In 2014, numerous attacks were perpetrated
by Ukrainian Junta forces against civilians
 across the regions of Donetsk and Lugansk,
 causing hundreds of murders of civilians.

 PM Yatsekyuk labeled as "subhumans" the
 citizens of Donbass, who took up arms to
defend themselves, after these countless
Fascist massacres.

War crimes by Kiev Junta forces and the
 Ukrainian National Guard:

https://vk.com/album-69838054_198072706

2015 January 25, Pervomaysk. The house of
 an 87-year-old woman was shelled by Junta
 forces, murdering her.

Mariupol shelling, January 2015. Dozens dead
 in shelling which Ukrainian Junta forces blame
 on Donbass freedom fighters. The OSCE took
 12 hours to write a report backing this claim.

 Yet eye witnesses state that the missile attack
 was from Ukrainian Junta positions --- and the
 Donetsk Republic anti-Fascists had already
 claimed that they would not fire on Mariupol,
as they didn't want to cause civilian deaths.

Why would Donetsk People's Republic forces
 shell a city that they are encircling? And why
 did the Ukrainian Junta authorities cut off the
 electricity, gas and water supply, one hour
 before the shelling?

Meanwhile, in Gorlovka, the Ukrainian Junta
 forces have unleashed an unceasing barrage
 of artillery fire against the civilian population,
 murdering 317 people in just one week. 15
schools & 10 kindergartens have been razed.

30% of arable fields across Donetsk have been
 mined by Ukrainian Junta personnel, to murder
 farmers and civilians and schoolchildren making
 their way across the fields to work and to school.

Due to ceasefire breaches by Ukrainian Junta
 forces, anti-Fascist forces have opened fire
across the entire front. Fascist forces are
 running in panic across the front - many are
 surrendering. Villages liberated from the
Fascists are being sterilized, as terrorist
units from Kiev are liquidated en masse.

In the recent failed attack against Donetsk
 Airport, which SKY News claimed had been
captured by Ukrainian Junta forces, units
from the Donetsk People's Republic have
successfully defended the airport.

725 Ukrainian Junta forces were killed in
 the failed operation, 59 tanks, 51 infantry
 combat vehicles and armored vehicles,
 were destroyed, reports Pravda.


_________________________________


Yemeni president decides to
withdraw resignation: advisor

Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi
 has decided to withdraw his resignation and
 continue to serve the country, a presidential
 advisor tells Xinhua news on Sunday.

A presidential advisor, requesting anonymity,
 told Xinhua that Hadi made his decision to with-
draw the resignation based on the international
 efforts led by UN envoy Jamal Bin Omar, as well
 as representatives of political parties in Yemen.

Hadi has 6 advisors on the country's decision-
making body --- 1 from the Shiite Houthi group.

But a government spokesperson tells Xinhua
 that there is no official announcement about
 Hadi's decision.

Domestic and international efforts are still
 underway to convince the president to with-
draw his resignation, a spokesperson said
--- on condition of anonymity.

Hadi, on Thursday, submitted his resignation
 to parliament amid a standoff with the Shiite
 Houthi group who control the capital. Yemeni
Prime Minister Khaled Bahah and his cabinet
also presented their resignations to the
president on the same day.

Yemen's official Saba news agency reports
 Sunday that the Yemeni parliament has post-
poned an emergency session to vote on the
 president's resignation.

The meeting is now delayed for "another date
 to be set later", in order to have more time to
"inform all members of parliament to attend,"
 Saba reports.

Parliament said earlier in a brief statement,
 that it would hold an emergency session on
 Friday, which was then postponed to Sunday.


               Yemen and its Two Conflicting Powers:              
 
The Yemeni crisis is more serious today...
after Parliament rejected the resignation
of President Abd Rabu Mansour Hadi and
his Houthi rivals formed a presidential
council... to replace him.

On Friday the president and the leadership of
 the Shiite tribe in control of areas of the capital
 since last September, signed an agreement of
mutual concessions to restore calm, after the
 fighting on Monday left dozens dead & wounded.

However, on Thursday, Prime Minister Khaled
Baha and his cabinet handed their resignations
 in to the president, who took the same course,
 rejected by the legislature, a few hours later.

"The (president's) resignation is accepted once
 presented, (and in this case) the (executive)
powers cannot be assumed by the Parliament
 because it is illegal since its mandate expired",
 says Ali Al-Imad, member of the Ansar Ullah
 Political Board, of the Houthi armed movement.

A statement broadcast by Al Masirah television
 channel, owned by the Houthis, says the leader-
ship of the tribe welcomes the resignation of
the president and "the revolution will continue
 with or without Hadi '.

A Presidential Council is being formed, backed
by the Houthi, state unconfirmed reports, sent
to Prensa Latina, by a diplomatic source.

The Council will manage Yemen's daily affairs,
 and will have as its Vice-president, a member
of the Houthi tribe, plus members of the army,
 security services and the Popular Committees.

The Houthi official recalls that the Constitution
 that establishes the ascension to power of the
 President of Parliament in the absence of the
 president, lost its validity, after the signing of
the Gulf Cooperation Council's (GCC) Initiative.

The GCC initiative was negotiated after the
 resignation of former President Ali Abdullah
 Saleh imposed by massive protests against
 him three years ago, which gave way to the
National Dialogue, the results of which are
 contested by the Houthis, particularly the
Federation of the country into six regions.

The position of the Arabian Peninsula states
 is unclear, particularly that of the Kingdom
 of Saudi Arabia, which borders Yemen to the
north and is immersed in a royal succession,
 after King Abdullah bin Abdelaziz's passing.


__________________________




Donetsk militia 'not going to storm
Mariupol', trades accusations with Kiev

Donetsk's militia has been ordered to suppress
 Kiev’s military positions to the east of Mariupol,
but is not going to storm the city, says Donetsk
 Republic head, Aleksandr Zakharchenko, who
accuses Kiev of a false flag operation, and of
 shifting the blame.

“Until now, we weren’t conducting operations
outside of Mariupol. We were saving strength,”
 Zakharchenko is cited by RIA-Novosti news
 agency as saying.

“But now, after Kiev decided to shift blame
 onto us for its erroneous fire from Grad
multiple rocket launchers on residential
 areas [in Mariupol], I gave the order to
suppress the positions of the Ukrainian
 military, east of Mariupol,” he states.

Zakharchenko adds that the forces of
 the People’s Republic of Donetsk (DPR)
have no plans to storm the city itself.

The DPR leader says “in the last few days
 the Ukrainian side has relocated a large
 formation of its troops to Mariupol.”

“Day and night, our positions in the town
 of Novoazovsk are subjected to massive
 bombardment from Grad multiple rocket
 launchers and heavy artillery.

“Today, armored vehicles from the 28th
 Ukrainian brigade arrived in the area as
well,” he stresses.

According to Zakharchenko, Kiev is doing
everything to make the rebels “move the
forces, which are now involved in battles
 for Donetsk airport, to Mariupol, in order to
 weaken & dislodge us from [the airport].”

The Ukrainian military is using the citizens
 of Mariupol as “human shields,” People’s
Republic of Donetsk leader says.

Earlier, a DPR military official, Eduard
Basurin, said that Kiev's forces have
 renewed their attempts to retake the
strategically significant Donetsk
airport, on Saturday.

“The Ukrainian military is trying to attack
 from the north, west and east. Hostilities
 are underway at the airport,” Basurin
said, as cited by Interfax news agency.

According to the rebels, they established
full control at Donetsk airport on Jan 16,
after an exhausting standoff with Kiev's
 troops, which had been ongoing since
 May last year.

The Organization for Security & Co-operation
 in Europe (OSCE) has dispatched its Mariupol
 observer mission to Olimpiiska Street, which
 was hit by artillery fire, in order to conduct a
 fact-finding mission on the ground.

Their monitors say:

“According to impact analysis, Grad rockets
originated from a north-easterly direction, in
Oktyabr area (19km N-East of Olimpiiska St),
 & Uragan rockets from an easterly direction,
 in Zaichenko area (15km east of Olimpiiska
 St), both controlled by the “Donetsk People’s
 Republic” (“DPR”),” the Special Monitoring
Mission report says.

Ukrainian president, Petro Poroshenko,
has aborted his visit to Saudi Arabia for
the funeral of King Abdullah, and has
 flown back to Kiev.

Poroshenko is to “host an urgent meeting
 of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense
 Council,” which was ordered “to develop
& implement more effective steps in view
 of the rapid deterioration of the situation
 in the east,” the presidential press-
service says.

Ukraine's PM, Arseny Yatsenyuk,
 has requested that an emergency
meeting of the UN Security Council
 be held on the situation in Mariupol.

Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry statement
 expresses hope that the shelling will
be comprehensively and objectively
investigated & that the perpetrators
 will get the punishment they deserve.

The EU is urging Moscow to persuade
 the leaders of the eastern Ukrainian
 militias to stop the hostilities, saying
 that the continued warfare in south-
eastern Ukraine “will inevitably lead
 to a further grave deterioration of
 relations between the EU and Russia,”
says the statement made by Federica
Mogherini, EU High Representative for
 Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.

The EU and US keep blaming Russia for
supporting Donbas' militias. The claims
 haven't been backed by any significant
 proof and have been repeatedly denied
 by Russian officials.

Approximately 30 people, including 2
 children, were killed when the city of
 Mariupol, which had stayed relatively
 insulated from the violence during the
 majority of the Ukrainian conflict, was
shelled on Saturday.

Kiev was quick to place the blame with
 the militia, saying that the bombardment
 was part of their advance on the port.

The militia representatives denied the
accusations and called the shelling
 “yet another provocation” by the
 Ukrainian forces.

According to the DPR’s speaker of parliament,
 Denis Pushilin, the rebels simply don’t have
 the necessary long-range artillery equipment
 to hit the
city centre from their positions.

The Ukrainian conflict began last April when
 Kiev launched a military operation in south-
eastern Donetsk and Lugansk regions, after
 they refused to recognize Ukraine’s new,
coup-imposed authorities.

The death toll in Ukraine's conflict has
 exceeded 5,000 people. Over 10,000
have been injured, by UN estimates.


_______________________________



     Armed Clashes on Syrian Border:    
Lebanese Army Goes On Alert
                          
The Lebanese Army is keeping a heavy
deployment
of men 'round Tallat Al-Hamra,
near Ras Baalbeck,
where the bodies of 3
soldiers were found, & is
ready to counter
new attacks by armed groups
from Syria.

The mobilization of troops intensified after
 clashes between Lebanese forces and
militiamen with Islamic State (IS) and

 Al-Nusra Front, which operate from
Syrian
territory, on Friday.

Security sources predict more clashes in Arsal
 and other border areas with Syria, as part of the
 armed groups' objective of putting pressure on,
and weakening the army and Hezbollah, to end
 their military support for President Al-Assad.

Deputy Prime Minister & Defense Minister Samir
 Moqbel on Saturday praised the courage of the
Army and its ability to repel the attacks of the
 jihadists in Ras Baalbeck, the region where
Tallat Al-Haamra is located, on the outskirts of
 the village of Arsal in the northeastern Bekaa.

Moqbel says the army remains "a strong shield
and trigger lock" for the country and that their
"heroic deeds and victories make it clear, that
any attack on Lebanese soil and its army, is
doomed to failure."


"Lebanon will be the burial ground of the
 attackers," he says.


_________________________________



UN: Dozens of children homeless as Israel
illegally demolishes Palestinian houses

The United Nations has condemned Israel for
 illegally demolishing the houses of Palestinians
 in East Jerusalem, leaving 77 people, over half
 of whom are children, homeless in three days.

“Demolitions that result in forced evictions and
 displacement run counter to Israel’s obligations
 under international law & create unnecessary
 suffering and tension,” the UN Office for the
 Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)
says in its statement.

The demolitions took place in East Jerusalem
and in the districts of Ramallah, Jericho and
 Hebron, according to the statement.

“Some of the demolished structures were provided
 by the international community to support vulnerable
 families,” says James Rawley, who's also UN Deputy
 Special Coordinator, the Middle East Peace Process,
and he tells Israel that the demolitions “must stop
 immediately”.

In 2014, Israel executed record numbers of house
  demolitions in the west bank and East Jerusalem
-- and in an area known as Area C, which is under
 full Israeli control.

“In 2014, according to OCHA figures, Israel's
 authorities destroyed 590 Palestinian-owned
 structures in Area C and in east Jerusalem,
displacing 1,177 people — the highest level
 of displacement in the West Bank since
OCHA began systematically monitoring the
 issue in 2008,” OCHA says.

Israel argues that demolitions are always
necessary because the homes were built
 without proper construction permits.

 But Palestinians and rights groups say
 Israel repeatedly denies such permits -
 forcing people to build without them.

“The planning policies applied by Israel in
Area C and East Jerusalem discriminate
 against Palestinians, making it extremely
difficult for them to obtain building permits.
As a result, many Palestinians build sans 
permits to meet their housing needs, and
 risk having their structures demolished,”
says the OCHA.

500,000 Israelis have settled in the West Bank
 & E Jerusalem, among 2.4 million Palestinians.

 The Israeli-occupied territories are seeking full
 Palestinian statehood and independence from
 Israel -- and have been, for decades. But despite
international criticism, the Israeli government
encourages the Jewish population in the West
Bank, to build more and more new settlements.

At the end of 2014 Israel gave a green light
 for the construction of 243 new homes in
Ramot in East Jerusalem.

The country also approved amendments to
existing projects for 270 homes in the same
 area and in the neighborhoods of Har Homa.

In mid-January Israelis withheld crucial tax
revenue from the Palestinians, in retaliation
 for Palestinian attempts to the join the ICC.


__________________________________



Three Minutes to Midnight

Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, January 2015:

"The threat is serious, the time short. The Bulletin
 of Atomic Scientists does not move the hands of
 the Doomsday Clock for light or transient reasons.
The clock ticks now at just 3 minutes to midnight,
 because international leaders are failing to perform
 their most important duty - ensuring and preserving
 the health and vitality of human civilization."

Now, the annual setting of the Bulletin of the
Atomic Scientists Doomsday Clock (22nd Jan)
 has been re-set  - forward by 2 whole minutes
 - to three minutes to midnight, for the first time
 since the end of the Cold War and thirty years
 after the last such setting, in 1984, under the
 presidency of Grenada invader, Libya bomber,
 and Iran-Contra dealer --- Ronald Reagan.

In 1984, the Bulletin recorded:  "...relations
between the US & the Soviet Union reached
an icy nadir. Every channel of communications
 has been constricted or shut down; every form
 of contact has been attenuated or cut off. And
 arms control negotiations have been reduced
to a species of propaganda."

Now they say: "Today, over 25 years after
 the end of the Cold War, the members of the
Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists Science &
 Security Board have looked closely at the
world situation & found it highly threatening
 to humanity - so threatening that the hands
 of the Doomsday Clock must once again be
 set at 3 minutes to midnight, two minutes
 closer to catastrophe, than in 2014."

"Efforts to reduce world nuclear arsenals
 have stalled. The disarmament process
has ground to a halt, with the US & Russia
 embarking on huge programs to modernize
 their nuclear triads - thereby undermining
 existing nuclear weapons treaties - and
other nuclear weapons holders joining in
 this expensive and extremely dangerous
 modernization craze."

"Insufficient action to slash worldwide
emissions of greenhouse gases can
produce global climatic catastrophe.

 "Even a so-called "limited" nuclear weapons
 exchange will produce massive casualties
 & severe effects on the global environment.

 "We implore political leaders of the world to
take coordinated, fast action, to drastically
reduce global emissions of heat-trapping
 gases, especially carbon dioxide, and
shrink nuclear weapons arsenals."

The Bulletin's Science and Security Board
 of Sponsors includes 17 Nobel Laureates:

"We implore the citizens of the world to demand
 action from their leaders. The threat looms over
 all of humanity. Humanity needs to respond
now, while there is still time."

The Clock, established in 1947, has become
a universally recognized indicator of the
world's vulnerability to catastrophe from
 nuclear weapons, climate change, and
emerging technologies in life sciences.

The Board stresses that catastrophe can
 be avoided with urgent action.
Time wasting is not an option.
 Essential priorities are:

*  Actions which would cap greenhouse gas
emissions - at levels which would halt the
average global temperature from rising over
2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

*  Dramatically reduce proposed spending on
nuclear weapons modernization programmes.

*  Re-energize the disarmament process -
with commitment to results.

* Deal urgently with nuclear waste problem.

If President Obama reads the documents
 and consults with the towering collective
 knowledge available at the Bulletin, applies
 that commitment for which they plead, builds
 bridges globally, rather than blowing them up,
there is enough time in the final 22 months of
 his Presidency, to embark on a road to justify
 the Nobel Peace Prize he was given at its start.

 We can only fervently hope that, as he stated
 in his acceptance speech, his actions at last
 "can bend history in the direction of justice."


________________________________


"Thank You for Your Service!"
Says Chief of US Army in Europe

 In a new low, even worse than Victoria Nuland
 and her Maidan cookies, General Ben Hodges,
Chief of the US Army in Europe, awarded US
army medals to Ukrainian soldiers in Kiev's
 Central Military Hospital, on January 22nd.

A video was made by "independent" Hromadske
 TV, a station that publicly admits it's funded by
 money coming from the US & Dutch embassies -
and George Soros. The General said the medal
 is "a symbol of the US army in Europe" & was
 given "for excellence".

The general ended his visit by thanking the
soldiers
for their service. The medals are
"challenge coins"
not real medals, but unit
coins, for a US coin challenge.


The Ukrainian soldiers are mostly lower class
 people who are dying for Western ambitions in
 Eastern Europe and Eurasia. Once there's no
 use for them anymore, they will be forgotten.

 At least they'll have one US Army challenge
 coin, even if, instead of a 100,000 Euro arm
 prosthesis, that would enable a normal life,
 the US will have let these men own a cheap
 piece of metal (worth 10 hryvnia -- less than
 one dollar).


_____________________________



Ukraine Rebels Vow to Conquer
 More Territory in War-Torn East

Anti-coup rebels on Friday vow to conquer
more territory in east Ukraine and rule out
 peace talks, after Kiev retreats from a long-
disputed airport, and casts aside Europe's
 latest push for a truce.

The defiant comments from Donetsk leader
 Alexander Zakharchenko, come as Ukraine
renews its allegations of Russian army units
fighting with rebels across the frontline of
the war-torn country's industrial east.


______________________________



Pope Anticipates Darkness and
              Dangers to Humanity in 2015               
 
 Pope Francis stresses the existence of darkness
 and danger for humanity this year, while speaking
 to Vatican security officials, whom he reminds...
of their duty to monitor important places of faith.

He emphasises that the millions of pilgrims also
require at least as much protection, as he does.


______________________________



Leading Russian banker warns
 of war between US and Russia

More financial sanctions by the US on Russia
will lead Moscow & Washington to the “brink
of war,” the head of a leading Russian bank
has warned.

Ties between the US & Russia will be severed
 if Russian banks are excluded from the Swift
 banking system due to tougher sanctions, said
 Andrei Kostin, chair of Russian state-controlled
 VTB Bank.

“Ambassadors can leave capitals. It means that
Russia and America might have no relationship
after that,” Kostin said at the World Economic
Forum on Friday.

“If there is no banking relationship, it means the
 countries are on the verge of war, or definitely in
a cold war. It will be a very dangerous situation.”

As one of Russia’s most senior bankers, Kostin
meets regularly with President Vladimir Putin
 and other top officials.

The US & European Union have already
 imposed several rounds of sanctions on
Russia,
including visa bans and asset
freezes.


Washington and Moscow ties deteriorated last
 year over the crisis in Ukraine after pro-Western
 forces ousted the country’s president, Viktor
Yanukovych, in February 2014.

The US and allies accuse Moscow of sending
troops into eastern Ukraine in support of the
 anti-coup forces. Moscow has long denied
any involvement in Ukraine's conflict.

The Kremlin describes Washington’s foreign policy
 on Ukraine as “aggressive”, saying the policy “fails
 to meet present-day realities & demonstrates that
 the United States actually wants to dominate the
 world.”

At his State of the Union address on Tuesday, US
 President Barack Obama said more US support for
 Ukraine was a principled stand against Russia's
 aggression.

The president said the United States and its allies
 were united against Moscow, a policy he said has
 left Russia isolated diplomatically and weakened
 economically.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov lashed out
on Wednesday at Obama's speech, saying that the
 comments shows the US has adopted a policy of
 confrontation towards Russia.


_________________________________



Saudi King Abdullah dead – state TV

Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz has
 died in hospital while being treated for pneumonia.

An official statement has named Saudi Crown
Prince Salman, as the new king.

"His Highness Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and
all members of the family and the nation mourn
the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King
Abdullah bin Abdulaziz, who passed on at exactly
 1 a.m. this morning," says the statement on Saudi
Arabian state TV channel, attributed to Salman.

Salman has immediately appointed his half-
brother Muqrin, as his crown prince and heir.

Prior to this confirmation, conflicting reports
suggested that the Saudis had dismissed
news of the king's death on social media.

 However, Saudi television cut to Koranic
verses early on Friday - a practice known
 to signify the death of a senior royal,
Reuters reports.

US President Barack Obama has expressed
 his condolences and praised the late Saudi
King for his “steadfast and passionate belief
 in the importance of a US-Saudi relationship
 as a force for stability and security in the
Middle East and beyond.”

Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi announces
 that he will be leaving the World Economic Forum
 in Davos, Switzerland in order to travel to Saudi
Arabia and pay his respects.

Abdullah was officially appointed king in 2006,
but had run the country for at least 10 years as
 the de facto regent, after his predecessor, King
 Fahd, suffered a debilitating stroke.

The royal’s age is not officially known, however,
it is believed that he was born in 1923, according
to Reuters. Abdullah had approximately a dozen
 wives and was a father to more than 30 children,
AP reports.

The new head of state of the premier oil exporter
in the world is thought to be 79 years old. King
 Salman was appointed Crown Prince in 2012 and
 - in the same year - started serving as a defense
minister. Before, he was the governor of Riyadh
 province for five decades.

Abdullah was a staunch US ally, who supported
the west's fight against Al-Qaeda and maintained
 attempts to keep rival Shia Iran in check.

Under his rule, Saudi Arabia backed terrorist
 fighters trying to overthrow the government of
 Syrian President Bashar Assad. The monarch
 was also the first international head of state
 to congratulate Egypt's interim government as
 the July 2013 coup deposed Mohamed Morsi.

King Abdullah made some modest reforms in
 the areas of women’s rights and economic
 deregulation, but largely stayed away from
 any sharp changes to the kingdom’s political
 system. King Salman is said to be part of the
 royal circle that will continue to pursue
similar policies.

Despite Abdullah’s reforms, women in Saudi
 Arabia are still not allowed to drive and need
 male “approval” to work, travel outside the
country, open a bank account, and even,
sometimes, to have surgery.

 Under Abdullah the country stayed an absolute
 monarchy, guided by Sharia law, with severe
 punishments, such as public beheadings.

 ‘Saudi human rights record worst in region:
1 beheading every 4 days’

The US repeatedly turns a blind eye towards
Saudi Arabia’s human rights record.

 For example, the US government chose to classify
28 pages of a bipartisan congressional 9/11 report,
which pointed to the Saudi government as a partial
 financier of the terrorist attacks. More recently, the
 State Department came under media fire for not
 going beyond verbal disagreement, when Saudi
 Arabia’s blogger, Raif Badawi, was sentenced to
 1,000 lashes, for criticizing Islam.

Co-conspirator of 9/11 attacks says 'Saudi
prince financed operation'.

Abdullah has been a critic of the Arab Spring
 movement, harboring fears that it may have
inspired local unrest and might subsequently
give more power to Iran or Al-Qaeda.

His attempts to keep local demonstrations
to a minimum, cost the country some $110
 billion in social benefits.

Any discontent has landed activists in jail.
 The country’s reaction to protesters, has
caused grave concern among the world's
human rights communities.


__________________________



Head of US state media puts
 RT on same challenge list as
 ISIS, Boko Haram

Newly-appointed chief of US Broadcasting Board
of Governors (BBG), Andrew Lack, has named RT
as one of the agency’s main challenges alongside
 extremist groups like Islamic State & Boko Haram.

Lack, the first chief executive of the BBG:
“We are facing a number of challenges from entities
 like Russia Today which is out there pushing a point
 of view, the Islamic State in the Middle East, and
 groups like Boko Haram. But I firmly believe that
 this agency has a role to play in facing those
 challenges.”

RT never expected to find itself on a list with the
 two most dangerous terrorist groups of the day
and is seeking clarification on the comment.

“We are extremely outraged that the new head of
 the BBG mentions RT in the same breath as the
world’s number 1 terrorist army,” says Margarita
Simonyan, RT’s editor-in-chief. “We see this as an
 international scandal and demand an explanation.”

Apart from BBG itself, RT seeks clarification
 from the US State Department, and the US
Embassy in Russia.

It’s not the first time the BBG, a bipartisan
agency supervising government-sponsored
media targeting international audiences,
has referred to RT as a ‘challenge.’

“Let’s put together a plan of how much that
 would cost & how to do something that we
 could compete with Russia Today [RT] and
 then let’s go to the Hill and then let’s go to
the White House and tell them what it’s
going to cost to compete, and let’s see if
 we can do it,” BBG chair Jeffrey Shell
said, in August 2014.

RT is viewed this way “because there’s a
 terror in London and in Washington of new
upstarts, of new information coming out
and challenging the narratives that they
have owned for the last 50 years or so,”
 editor of politics.co.uk, Ian Dunt, states.

This New York Times article mentions
 RT’s “significant American presence”
arguing that Russia “poured millions”
 into its US bureau and the Sputnik
news agency.

US politicians have lashed out at RT.
John Kerry attacked RT over Ukraine
as a ‘Propaganda bullhorn’.

Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov:
“[The West] has been convinced for some time
 that it has a full monopoly on mass media,”

“Russia Today has won a large audience in the
 US & Western Europe, not to mention in Latin
 America and the Arab world."

“As a broadcaster, RT does indeed present a
challenge to US international broadcasting in
 terms of competing for viewership,” says the
Director of Advocacy and Communications of
the International Press Institute (IPI) Steven
 M. Ellis...

 “But RT obviously does not present a type
of threat to journalists’ physical security,
which entities such as the Islamic State
group or Boko Haram pose. Mr. Lack could
 have phrased his comments more carefully
to make this distinction clear, and we hope
 he will do so in the future.”

US television professionals have, however,
been more amenable to RT having nominated
 its reporting for media awards.

RT received an Emmy nomination for its series
 of Guantanamo hunger strike reports in 2014,
and the channel was earlier nominated for
Emmies in 2010 and 2012.


_________________________________



'Covert team' caught after shelling
 kills at least 9 in eastern Ukraine

What local authorities call a "covert group" has
been arrested in Donetsk. The group is suspected
of the shelling during rush hour Thursday morning,
 which took the lives of at least nine people and
 injured up to twenty.

Residents of Donetsk’s Leninsky district heard
 shelling at about 08:30 local time, media report.
Windows in the buildings near a tram stop were
 blown out. Locals say they believed their district
 to be “a quiet place” and were shocked by the
 “tragedy that happened as people were heading
 to work.”

A trolleybus was also hit, and eye-witnesses said
 there were victims inside, as well as bodies lying
at the stop, local news outlets said. Conflicting
 reports, citing medical sources, indicate there
may have been up to 13 deaths.

“A covert group has been operating, they have
 been arrested now. No more comments,”  the
 defense minister of self-proclaimed Donetsk
 People's Republic, Vladimir Kononov, tells
 Gazeta.Ru newspaper.

The authorities of the self-proclaimed republic
also say the shelling was carried out using
 mortars, RIA-Novosti reports.

“Our officers were at the scene, according to
the preliminary information, the shelling was
conducted with mortars from one of the nearby
 districts. It appears that two bombs fell on the
stop,” says a spokesperson for the DPR's
 Security Ministry.

“The self-defense forces shortly after arrested
 a covert group of Ukrainian security forces not
 far from the scene, at the moment it is being
verified whether they were involved in the
 shelling,” the spokesperson adds.

Deputy speaker of DPR's parliament, Denis
Pushilin, says the investigation is ongoing,
 & “the shelling was supposedly conducted
from a minibus or a dustbin lorry.”

The OSCE has sent a group of its experts to
the shelling scene, to collect information,
 spokesperson for the organization’s special
 monitoring mission to Ukraine, Michael
 Bociurkiw, tells RIA-Novosti.

“We have sent our patrol group to evaluate the
 situation. Taking into consideration the security
 situation, we are to present our assessment in
the nearest future,” Bociurkiw says.

The OSCE special mission to Ukraine has called
 for an immediate ceasefire in the Donbas region
 and military disengagement, after the Donetsk
tragedy, a spokesperson for the mission tells
 RIA-Novosti.

DPR’s Emergency Ministry tells RIA-Novosti:
“As the shelling hit the “Kuprina street” stop,
nine people were killed, including the driver of
 a car that was parked nearby. The car caught
 fire... Another ten people were injured and
 taken to hospitals.”

Russia will raise the issue of the deadly Donetsk
 shelling on Thursday, at a session of the OSCE
 Permanent Council, the country’s permanent
representative says.

“We are stunned by a new monstrous offence in
 Donetsk … that we regard as a crime against
 humanity, a barbaric provocation, aimed at
 disrupting efforts to regulate the Ukrainian
crisis peacefully,” Russia’s Foreign Minister,
 Sergey Lavrov says in a statement.

 “It becomes evident that 'the party of war' in
 Kiev and its foreign patrons won’t be stopped
 by loss of life.”

Lavrov also called for an immediate investigation
 into the incident, which would involve the OSCE
 mission. “Everything has to be done to stop
Kiev’s shelling of south-eastern Ukraine cities,”
 he says.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk said
 that Russia bears responsibility for the tragedy,
blaming rebels for the deaths of civilians in
Donetsk, Reuters reports.

“Today Russian terrorists again committed a
 terrible act against humanity. Russia bears
 responsibility for this,” he said at 'Unity Day'
 in Kiev.

The shelling comes shortly after the meeting
 Wednesday of the foreign ministers of Russia,
Ukraine, Germany and France in Berlin, where
 they tried to progress with a solution to the
 Ukrainian crisis.

On January 13, twelve people died and 13 more
were injured as a bus was hit in Donetsk region,
 Ukraine’s Interior Ministry said. Denis Pushilin,
 Donetsk People’s Republic representative at
the Minsk talks, says this attack might have
been staged by Kiev.

The incident took place near a Ukraine military
 checkpoint near the town of Volnovakha, the
 spokesperson for the Interior Ministry in the
Donetsk region, Vyacheslav Ambroskin, said.

Initially, 10 people were killed in the shelling.
A woman reportedly died in hospital later in
 the day, according to the Donetsk regional
 administration which cited health officials.
The regional administration also reported
 that 18 people had been injured.


____________________________________



Lavrov: Global US Domination
               Aggressive Philosophy               
 
 Russia's Foreign Minister Serguey Lavrov calls the
 aspiration of the United States to global domination,
a dangerously aggressive philosophy, which ignores
 objective processes, in a world shaped by several
 power circles.

The philosophy of believing itself as number one
- and the rest should admit it - is very aggressive
 and outdated, Lavrov states, during the annual
 media conference, in reference to Washington's
 resistance to recognize the new situation and
 the dynamic towards a multipolar order.

On the recent speech by President Obama,
 the head of Russian diplomacy says the White
House's administration does not analyze its
 steps critically, when trying to isolate Russia
and make the confrontation tense.

Obama's speech clearly shows that the course of
the US Government is towards confrontation, and
  old philosophies of world domination, says Lavrov.

The foreign minister warns that the changes in
global dynamics will
inexorably force a change
 in that philosophy, in time.

The minister says practice has proved that
global problems aren't solved in isolation,
and gives as two examples, the struggle
against the terror group Islamic State,
 and international terrorism.

Lavrov also asserts that the United States
has imposed its interests on Europe and
forced it into a confrontation with Russia,
 after the sanctions imposed on Moscow.


_______________________________________





Yemeni Tribal Leader Dismisses
               Threat of US-biased UN's Sanctions               
 
Abdelmallik al-Houthi, leader of the Shiite Houthi
tribe, in control today of the presidential palace
 and several areas of the capital, warns that he
will face any punitive measures passed by the
 UN Security Council.

The Houthis have fought fierce battles with
Abd Rabu Mansour Hadi's presidential guard,
and took the president's mansion yesterday,
as some guards put down their weapons.

Informal versions estimate that the fighting
left at least 10 dead and about fifty wounded
amongst the official ranks:- the members of
 Ansar Ullah, the Houthi armed movement,
  do not usually report their casualties.

"I warn the UN Security Council that it will not
 benefit from measures taken against the Houthi",
 says
their leader, in a public speech last night,
after a day of confusion in this capital, where all
the government agencies halted their work, but
 businesses reopened.

Meeting last night behind closed doors, the
 highest organ of the UN repeated its support
for Mansur Hadi as "the legitimate authority",
 and urged all parties involved in the conflict
 to support the president, whose whereabouts
 are unknown, and to conduct dialogues for a
solution to the crisis.

The Houthis, Shiites of the Zaidi sect, complain
 of discrimination by the country's Sunni majority,
 and they launched a major military offensive last
 September that allows them to control areas and
 extend their presence to the provinces of Hudeida
 and Ibb, in the centre of Yemen.

The crisis in the capital started on Saturday, as
 the Houthi delegates walked out of a meeting on
 the Constitution, to protest at Yemen's federation
 into 6 regions, which they see as detrimental for
them, since it locks them into an area with no
 natural resources, or access to the sea.

The same day the president's chief of staff,
Ahmad Awad bin Mubarak, was kidnapped.
 His release was demanded by tribal chiefs
and political parties in the south.

The President's meetings with leaders of
political parties and movements, and the
Military Council, for Monday, didn't occur,
 creating greater uncertainty, regarding
 the course of events.


_________________________________


            Opposition Celebrates in Argentina               
 
 Prosecutor Alberto Nisman''s accusations against
 Argentina's Executive, and his death, are boosting
 the Argentine opposition's campaign against the
 government, in an election year.

Calls to street protests, a loud media offensive full
of distortions & caustic celebrations by opposition
 politicians and show-business people, resound in
 Argentina today.

They are so desperate to overthrow the national
popular model started by Nestor Kirchner in 2003
 and enhanced by Cristina Fernandez, during her
two presidential terms, that opposition jubilation
 nearly borders on political hysteria.

Nisman's accusations against the president and
 her foreign minister, of covering up the alleged
 involvement of Iran in an attack on an Argentine
 Jewish institution in 1994 in exchange for oil are
 groundless and can easily be unmasked in court.

However, those who conceived the plot have
 achieved their goal of unleashing a political
 scandal that is further resounding days after
 Nisman's "dubious death", according to the
 file compiled by the prosecutor investigating
the case, Viviana Fein.

They've supplied weapons to forces, inside
 and outside, in their efforts to beat a project
of a popular progressive nature, in the 2015
elections.

In a communiqué, the Workers' Confederation
 of Argentina demands total clarification of the
 prosecutor's death & demands that this event
 not be used for political speculation, to gain
 benefits in elections.

According to the main workers' organization, it is
 evident that the atmosphere created by Nisman's
 death is being used to benefit the same powerful
 groups, that dream about eradicating completely
 the process of truth and justice, initiated in 2003.


___________________________________



Peace talks conference held in Damascus

The representatives of several Syrian political
 factions are gathered in the capital Damascus
 to discuss an outline solution to their country’s
 conflict, Press TV reports.

Held at Dama Rose Hotel, Monday, it was called
 for by Syria's Ministry of National Reconciliation
 Affairs, with the presence of the Syrian National
 Dialogue Committee and other parties.

The gathering comes ahead of scheduled peace
 talks...... to be held in Moscow on January 26th.

“What will take place in Russia is a forum aimed
 at discussing suitable means to make a success
 of a Syrian-Syrian dialogue meeting inside Syria.

 
What we are seeking is an outline for a Syrian
 solution to the crisis in Syria,” the Minister of
       National Reconciliation, Ali Haidar, states.            

“A political solution through national dialogue
 among Syrians is the only way out of the crisis.
 This dialogue should lead to setting a program
 with a particular schedule and clear steps, in
a way that respects democracy, freedom,
security, sovereignty and national unity,”
          says Syrian opposition figure, Adel Nuaiseh.            

Syria has been grappling with deadly conflict
 since March 2011. The violence, fueled by
 Takfiri groups, has so far claimed the lives
 of 200,000+ people, according to reports.

6.5 million Syrians are internally displaced
 by the ongoing crisis, according to the UN.


______________________________



        US Majority Disapproves of Congress'
                    Work, Says Poll               
 
 Around 76 percent of the US people disapprove
of Congress's work, according a poll this week.

The poll, taken by Gallup, shows that the US'
legislature begins with no signs of renewed
 support by electors, even among those of
the red party, since just 16% of those polled
 approve of the work by the legislature.

The poll reveals that Congress approval levels
are rarely high and the historic average does
 not exceed 32 percent of popularity, although
 there're reasons to believe that this Congress
 will have little more support in coming months,
 than the two previous ones.

______________________________


USA threatens Palestinian
 Authority with annual aid cut

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham warns
Palestinians that they could lose US’
 annual aid should they lodge a lawsuit
 at the International Criminal Court.

Graham, who is visiting Israel, Saudi Arabia
and Qatar as part of a seven-member senate
 delegation, said that existing US legislation
“would cut off aid to the Palestinians if they
 filed a complaint.”

The US supplies $400 million dollars worth
 of aid annually, to the Palestinian Authority.

Last month, Israel halted the transfer of over
$120 million in taxes belonging to Palestinians
after the Palestinian Authority applied to join
 the ICC.

After foreign aid is deducted, tax revenues
account for two-thirds of the Palestinian
 Authority's yearly budget.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon states
 that Palestinians will become a member
of the ICC, on April 1st.

The US has condemned the ICC decision
 to launch a preliminary investigation into
Israel’s crimes, calling it a "tragic irony".

Israel is lobbying ICC member states to
 cut their funding to the ICC in retaliation
 for its bid to launch a probe into Israeli
 war crimes.

ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda states that
 her office intends to conduct an “
impartial
fully independent
analysis” into suspected
war crimes by Israeli military forces.


____________________________



Ukraine bombing raid kills
30 civilians in the S. East

A Donetsk official says Ukrainian warplanes
 have bombed the eastern city of Gorlovka,
 killing over 30 civilians including children,
 as part of Kiev's new offensive on anti-coup
forces in the volatile eastern regions.

Eduard Basurin, deputy commander of the
 headquarters of the self declared Donetsk
 People’s Republic said on Monday that the
Ukrainian military dropped 500-kilogram
FAB-500 bombs on Gorlovka’s residential
districts, a day earlier.

Basurin added that Kiev troops for the first
time used the tactic of “blind” bombing...

“We think the Ukrainian pilots are simply
 afraid of flying at low altitudes because of
heavy losses from our air defense systems
last summer.”

The bomb raid comes as Kiev forces have
launched a large-scale offensive against
the anti-coup forces in eastern regions.

The defense ministry of the self-proclaimed
 Donetsk People’s Republic last week said
 that government troops used phosphorous
 in attacking Donetsk International Airport.

The United Nations Security Council is set
 to hold a meeting on Wednesday to discuss
ways to end the spiraling deadly clashes in
Ukraine’s east.

The 15-member council meets at the request
 of Lithuania in an attempt to find a solution to
 the crisis, which has flared up in recent days.


__________________________________________



S. Korea to legalize peaceful
unification with DPRK


S. Korea plans to legalize its government
 responsibility for peaceful unification with
 the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, 
Seoul's unification ministry says on Monday.

The "act to lay foundation for peaceful
 unification," will be enacted this year,
the ministry says, in its annual report
 to the president, Park Geun-hye.

South Korea's new act aims to define
 in detail the existing law on unification
- adding the government's responsibility
 - and a way of preparing for peaceful
unification.

 On "opening a unification era" in 2015,
 to mark the 70th anniversary of Korea's
division, the South Korean government
is to place personnel in charge of the
 unification preparations and put task
 forces in each government ministry.


________________________________



Japan gov't eyes first overseas
 SDF long-term base in Djibouti: report

Japan's government is considering extending
 the Djibouti base's functions... making it the
first
semi-permanent multi-purpose base for
the
Self-Defense Force (SDF) to act in Africa
&
the Middle East, local media report Monday.

Japan opened an 'anti-piracy' base in Djibouti,
East Africa, in June 2011, on 12 hectares next
to Djibouti-Ambouli International Airport, also
building a command headquarters, boarding
 facilities, and a parking area there, at a cost
of 4.7 billion yen (40.07 million U.S. dollars).

About 180 Japanese SDF personnel stay
at Japan's first and only overseas base on
 a four-month rotational basis to ensure the
 safe passage of passenger  & commercial
ships through the perilous Gulf of Aden, off
the coast of Somalia.


According to Japan's Asahi Shimbun, Defense
 Ministry & SDF officials are considering letting
 SDF troops use the base for disaster relief and
UN peacekeeping activities, and to
board SDF
troops dispatched
from Japan in the event of
emergencies and
terrorist activities.

Thus, the base will become an operational
centre
for SDF troops in the region on the
assumption
that Japan continues using it
on a long-term basis.


In Japan, at the moment, the government has
to pass temporary
legislation for each SDF
mission sent abroad. If
the task is ended, the
relevant base has to be
removed accordingly.

As Japanese PM Shinzo Abe eyes increasing
 the capability of the SDF, under the banner
of "Active Pacifism", observers fear that the
 new plan to build a long-term overseas base
 increases the risk of a war involving Japan,
 violates the war-renouncing Article 9, and
 changes Japan's defense-oriented posture.


_________________________________________



Ukraine army targeted Gorlovka with
 500kg air bombs – Donetsk militia leader

Ukrainian warplanes used 500kg aviation
 bombs in their attack on Gorlovka town
 on Sunday, says Aleksandr Zakharchenko,
head of the People’s Republic of Donetsk,
adding that it was not a targeted
bombardment.

"Towards the evening, Ukrainian bombers
 performed an airstrike on Gorlovka with
500-kilogram aviation bombs. Notably, the
 bombardment was not targeted; it came
from over the clouds and the aim was
just to hit the town,” Zakharchenko says.

Over 30 people, including children, have
 been killed or injured in Donetsk, as a
 result of the Ukrainian offensive on
 Sunday, he adds.

The city's mayor, Oleg Gubanov, also says
 that two people were killed and 16 others
 injured after a Ukrainian shell exploded at
a bus station in Gorlovka.

Several buildings, including four schools
and a kindergarten, suffered direct hits
 during the bombardment, “which went
on without a break for almost 24 hours,”
he adds.

Donetsk administration states that at
least five civilians were killed in the
city on Sunday. Several residential
buildings and a shop were seriously
 damaged by artillery fire.

“For several weeks, we’ve been shouting
...trying to prove that Ukraine's military
 is using the truce to perform a massive
regrouping of its forces to prepare for
a large-scale offensive. But all of our
appeals to the OSCE and Joint Centre
 for Control & Coordination (JCCC) have
 been ignored,” the head of the Donetsk
People’s Republic says.

“The representatives of the JCCC have
 themselves felt the scale of Ukraine's
 shelling,” as they came under fire in
Gorlovka earlier in the day, he adds.

Zakharchenko also stresses that “all
attempts of Ukraine's forces to take
revenge for the defeat they suffered
 last autumn, have failed.”

“The self-defense forces have successfully
 repelled all 6 attacks by Ukraine's armored
 vehicle columns, performed with massive
 artillery support. As a result, I can say that
 the Ukrainian offensive on the airport has
 failed,” he says.

Rebels dislodged Kiev troops from Peski village
  - which was used by the Ukrainian army to shell
 the Donetsk airport on a daily basis, he adds.

The Russian representative at the JCCC has
 confirmed that his colleagues came under
 artillery fire from Kiev's forces in Gorlovka,
 on Sunday.

He also stresses that shelling residential
areas in Donetsk, is being performed by
 the Ukrainian military’s regular forces.

"Previously, all the attacks on Donetsk
 and its suburbs were mainly conducted
 by uncontrolled National Guard units or
the so-called territorial battalions, but
 today it’s clear that the shelling of
 residential areas is being performed
 by regular units of the Ukrainian army.

 "Also, for the first time after a long break,
 the Ukrainian side is using aviation," the
 representative says.

The offensive by Ukraine's military in
 Donetsk Region, is a violation of the
 Minsk peace deal, signed by the two
 sides on September 5th, he adds.

Instead of the agreed withdrawal of
 troops to a safe distance, “we see, in
 fact, an attempt by Ukrainian forces
 to storm rebel positions, which has
led to new mass casualties among
 civilians in Donetsk and Gorlovka,”
 the representative stresses.


____________________________________



US war against ISIL is ‘total fraud’
 to create a CIA base: Journalist

A Pentagon plan to arm and train the so-called
 moderate militants in Syria to fight against the
ISIL terrorist group, is a “total fraud”, and a
“bogus” claim, to carve out a CIA base in the
region, an American journalist in Missouri says.

The United States is fighting a “multi-front
war” against Syrian President Bashar
al-Assad, as he operates independently
from the West, says Dean Henderson,
author & columnist at Veterans Today.

“This whole ISIS thing is just an attempt to
carve out this base where the CIA, Mossad,
and British intelligence, can operate freely
 and attack Syria -- for now -- but maybe
later, Iran,” Henderson tells Press TV.

Henderson says Congress is wasting
“precious US tax dollars” to fund the
 false fight against ISIL, which the CIA
 helped create in the beginning.

“We’re not against ISIS, we are ISIS,
we created ISIS, we trained ISIS,
we are ISIS,” he acknowledges.

On Saturday, a delegation of US senators
 led by John McCain, began a tour of the
 Middle East, taking them to Saudi Arabia
and Qatar, to discuss a Pentagon plan
to arm and train “moderates”, in Syria.

The US Defense Department announced
 it is deploying about 1,000 troops to train
 Syrian militants to fight against the ISIL
terrorist group.

Analysts reject the idea that “moderate”
militants exist in Syria. “Nobody in any
 position of expertise here, thinks that
there really is any significant moderate
Syrian rebel force. It does not exist,”
Dr. Kevin Barrett, a professor of Islamic
 and Middle Eastern Studies, says, in
an interview with Press TV.


____________________________________



Several Hezbollah Fighters Martyred
 in Israeli Raid in Syria

Hezbollah announces that several of its
 fighters were martyred on Sunday in an
 Israeli airstrike in Quneitra region, Syria.

“The Israeli enemy's helicopters fired
missiles at a group of Hezbollah fighters
 who were inspecting
Mazraat  al-Amal
town, in the Syrian Quneitra region,” a
 statement issued by Hezbollah says.

The strike “resulted in the martyrdom of
a number of brothers, whose names will
 be announced later, after informing their
honorable families,” the statement adds.

Mohamad Issa – chief of Hezbollah operations
 in Syria – was among those killed, along with
 Jihad Moughniyah – son of the late Hezbollah
 leader Imad Moughniyah – reports Al Arabiya.

 The attack in Quneitra, is near the Israeli-
occupied Golan Heights.

Israeli authorities haven't officially commented.
 However, a security source states to Reuters
  - on condition of anonymity - that it was “an
Israeli helicopter that carried out the attack.”

The helicopter fired rockets at the convoy,
while two Israeli reconnaissance planes
were reportedly seen flying over the area.

Another source told Israel's Ynet news, the
strike hit "terrorists intending to attack Israel"
 close to the ceasefire line that separates the
 Syrian part of Golan Heights from the Israeli-
occupied sector. No more details were given.

A statement on Lebanon’s Al-Manar, says
 the attack suggests that Israel “has gone
 crazy, because of Hezbollah’s growing
 capabilities and it could lead to a costly
 adventure, that will put the Middle East
 at stake."

The attack follows Hezbollah leader Hassan
 Nasrallah’s statement that frequent Israeli
strikes in Syria are a major aggression
against the whole ‘axis of resistance,' not
just Damascus, and that the group has
the right to retaliate.

Hezbollah has promised retaliation, saying
 Israel has crossed all lines with the attack.


______________________________



Putin prods all sides into resolving
 Ukraine crisis peacefully
 
Russian President Vladimir Putin has been trying
 to ask parties involved in Ukraine crisis to spare
 no effort, in peacefully settling the situation.

"I propose both sides... take urgent measures to
 stop shelling each other, as well as immediately
 withdraw heavy weaponry," Russia's Channel 1
 Television quotes Putin's message, sent to his
 Ukrainian counterpart Petro Poroshenko.

"Recent developments in southeastern Ukraine,
 the resumed shelling of settlements in Donetsk
 and Lugansk regions, cause grave concern and
 actually imperil the peace settlement process,
 based on the September Minsk agreement of
last year," Channel 1 Television quotes Putin
 as saying in the message.

Putin promises that Russia is ready to work
with the Organization for Security and Co-
operation in Europe (OSCE), to monitor the
 implementation of the ceasefire agreement
and the heavy weapons withdrawal by the
conflicting sides in Ukraine.

However, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry
 Peskov has disclosed that Putin's weapon
 withdrawal proposal has been "rejected"
 by the Ukrainian side.

"The Ukrainian president received the
letter on Friday morning. Unfortunately
 the Ukrainian side rejected the proposed
 plan without providing an alternative offer,
 meanwhile, resuming military operations,"
 RIA Novosti news agency quotes Peskov
 as saying.

The spokesperson stresses that "Russia
 has consistently made efforts to mediate
 in the conflict in recent days."

Russia's Foreign Ministry says Russia is also
ready to "use its influence" to persuade the
 local militias to accept a weapon withdrawal
 as "a good will gesture", to avoid any more
civilian deaths.

In an online statement, the ministry expresses
 deep concern over Kiev's increasing military
 presence in Donbas --- a local name referring
 to eastern Ukraine.

"The intensive militarization, announcements
 of 'new waves' of citizens' mobilization, and
appeals from Kiev to 'take revenge' for the
 situation 'on the ground', that have taken
 place after signing the Minsk agreement"
prove the Ukrainian side is defying the
Minsk agreements, the ministry says,
 in the statement.

According to the statement, Kiev's regime
took advantage of the recent ceasefire to
 regroup its forces and continue its military
actions, while insisting on force to solve
the crisis.

Calling for strict adherence to the Minsk
agreement by all parties, Russia's Foreign
Ministry says Moscow is doing everything
in its power to make sure that the contact
group can meet early next week.

"We are urging its members and all those
influencing the situation to prevent more
 negotiation breakdowns," the ministry
says, stressing that all sides should
 immediately return to practical work
 on "comprehensive implementation"
 of the Minsk agreement.


___________________________________



Donetsk shelled as Kiev 'orders massive
fire' on militia-held E. Ukraine

Violence is escalating in east Ukraine, as
Kiev’s troops launched a massive assault
 on militia-held areas, on Sunday morning.

 The army was ordered to start mass shelling
 of all rebel positions, a presidential aide says.

The order to launch the attack was issued
 at 6am early on Sunday, according to Yury
Biryukov, an aide to President Poroshenko.

“Today we'll show HOW good we are at jabbing
 in the teeth,” he wrote on his Facebook page,
a mode of conveying information favored by
many current Ukrainian officials.

In a later post he said: “They are now striking a
dot. Uuu…” in a reference to Tochka-U (‘tochka’
 is Russian for ‘dot’), a tactical ballistic missile,
 one of the most powerful weapons Kiev has
so far deployed against rebel forces.

“That wasn’t a dot but ellipsis. Strong
booms,” he added.

Ground reports confirm a sharp escalation of
clashes across the front line, with particularly
 heavy artillery fire reported at Gorlovka.

“Locals in Donetsk say they haven’t heard
 such intensive shelling since summer,”
 Valentin Motuzenko, a military official in
 the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s
 Republic, tells Interfax news agency.

“The Ukrainian military are using all
kinds of weapons, Grad multiple
rocket launchers, mortars…”
Motuzenko says.

A source at the site says that a group
of OSCE monitors have demanded that
 the Ukrainian military stop the shelling.
 The source adds that there is a danger
that the group may itself come under
artillery fire.

Several residential buildings, a shop and
 a bus station, have been badly damaged
 by artillery fire in the city, RIA Novosti
 reports. There are also reports now, of
attacks on Makeevka town & several
 nearby villages.

The militia adds that at least one shell
 hit a residential area in central Donetsk
 rather than the outskirts of the city.

The escalation comes after several days
 of violent clashes at the ruins of Donetsk
International Airport, a scene of constant
 fighting over months of a shaky ceasefire
 between Kiev’s troops and local militias.

The militia, who accused the Kiev military
 of launching constant attacks on Donetsk
 from their positions at the airport, report
 taking over the location this week. Kiev
had denied this.

The Ukrainian Security and Defense Council
 now confirms the resumption of hostilities
and
that Kiev's aim is to retake the airport.

This escalation of violence comes after a
controversial incident at Kiev’s checkpoint
 near the town of Volnovakha, where twelve
 passengers were killed on Tuesday.

Kiev blamed the deaths on the militia, saying
 it was hit by a Grad rocket. The DNR forces
 denied the accusations and said the bus was
 targeted by the Ukrainian troops themselves
 – either in a tragic incident or as a staged
 provocation – and said the damage visible in
 the picture of the bus is consistent with a
 less powerful weapon, possibly a landmine.

OSCE's observer team studied blast craters
 near the checkpoint and confirmed the
direction they came from.

Russia’s permanent representative to the
OSCE, Andrey Kelin, says the direction runs
along the disengagement line separating
militia- and Kiev-controlled areas, which
makes it difficult to determine who fired
the rockets.

The observers did not identify the type of
rockets used.


________________________________



Netanyahu blasts ICC's inquiry
 into Israel-Palestine conflict
         
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
 condemns the International Criminal Court
 (ICC)'s decision to start a preliminary probe
 into possible warcrimes committed against
 Palestinians.

He slams the move as "preposterous" & "folly."

"It's absurd for the ICC to go after Israel, which
 upholds the highest standards of international
 law," Netanyahu says, in a televised statement
 from his Jerusalem office.

Netanyahu argues that Israel was only trying
to defend itself against "Palestinian terrorists
who routinely commit multiple war crimes."

He adds that those who should be prosecuted
 by the ICC are Palestinian extremists, saying
 "they deliberately fire thousands of rockets at
 our civilians, while hiding behind Palestinian
 civilians whom they used a human shield."

Netanyahu telephoned the US State Secretary
 John Kerry, to ask Washington to help prevent
 the ICC from going forward with the inquiry.

The US has now reacted to the ICC's move,
by condemning it as "counterproductive
to the cause of peace."

On Friday, the US State Department said
 it was "a tragic irony that Israel, which has
 withstood thousands of terrorist rockets
fired at its civilians and its neighborhoods,
is now being scrutinized by the ICC."

Washington has also argued that Palestine
isn't a state & is therefore not eligible to join
 the ICC, says Israel's Haaretz news website.

In Palestine, the Palestinian National Authority
 (PNA) hails the move as an "important & positive
 step towards achieving justice & guaranteeing
 respect for the international law."

Fawzi Barhoum, Hamas spokesperson in Gaza,
 also welcomes the ICC's decision, saying it is
"the right step in the right direction."

The spokesperson also says that Hamas is ready
 to work with the ICC by providing all the needed
 documents, evidence and testimonies that would
 "show that the Israeli enemy committed war
crimes in Gaza against our people."

The ICC announced its decision to open an
initial inquiry
on Friday, "to check if there is
a reasonable basis for starting a probe into
possible war crimes committed in the
Palestinian territories."

The decision came after the PNA signed the
Rome Statute and joined the ICC, this month.

Nearly 2,200 Palestinians, mostly civilians,
were killed in the summer's 50 day long war
 in the Gaza Strip. Israel saw the loss of 73
people, all but six, being soldiers.


_________________________



New Ukrainian Armed Forces drafts
 fraught with full-scale war in Europe

A new spate of drafting to the Ukrainian Armed
 Forces, the fourth since the start of the military
 campaign in Ukraine’s eastern regions, testifies
 to Kiev’s plans to suppress resistance in the
 self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk People’s
 Republics by force, and is fraught with the
danger of a full-scale war in the center of
 Europe, experts polled by TASS say.

On Thursday, Ukraine’s Verkhovna Rada voted for
 a Law on Partial Mobilization. The country’s Defense
 Ministry said earlier that about 104,000 people with
 military specializations in tanks, artillery, airborne
 troops, telecommunications, and various aspects of
 mechanics, in the age bracket of 25 to 60 years old,
 would be drafted into the Army in 2015, "if need be".

The ministry claims that rotation of servicemen in
 the zone of the so-called anti-terrorist operation,
 is the objective of the drafts.

“Yet another draft to the Armed Forces declared
 in Ukraine now, proves that all the talk about a
 willingness for peace in the S. East of Ukraine
on president Petro Poroshenko's part, is little
 more than a cover-up aimed at getting a pause,
 prior to a major offensive on the Donetsk and
 Luhansk People’s Republics,” Dr Konstantin
Sivkov, president of the Academy of
 Geopolitical Problems, states.

“At present, the Ukrainian Army doesn’t have
enough manpower or resources to guarantee
 victory over the self-defense forces, but
 Poroshenko obviously hopes to accumulate
enough strength to destroy the rebellious
 republics by spring,” he says.

“The so-called Ukraine Freedom Support Act
 passed by the US Congress at the end of last
year, empowers the US President to grant
offensive weaponry to Ukraine to the tune
of $350,000,000, and the armaments' scope
 includes anti-tank armor-piercing weapons,
 anti-artillery radars, drones, and secure
 communications systems,” Dr Sivkov adds.

 “NATO states are already providing Kiev
 with weapons from depots of the former
Warsaw Treaty Organization.”

“Ukraine has received armored personnel
carriers decommissioned in the UK.
Ukrainian plants can’t manufacture up-to-
date armaments, as they received some
component parts for them, from Russia.”

“There’s hardly any doubt regarding Kiev’s lust
 to regain control over Donbas through the use
 of armaments, since the region has the biggest
 manufacturing potential and natural resources 
- mostly coal - in Ukraine,” Dr. Sivkov says.

“In addition, Donbas and Novorossia that were
 declared on its territory, make up a buffer zone
 between Russia & Ukraine, while the American
 masters of the incumbent Kiev rulers, need to
 eliminate that buffer zone by fair means or foul
to turn it into a springboard for destabilizing
 Russia. These plans of the Kiev government,
 which is drawing on Washington’s support,
 are fraught with the danger of a full-scale
 war in the center of Europe,” he says.

Dr. Sivkov notes the difficulties in preparing
 for a summit of the 'Normandy format' states
 — Germany, France, Russia, and Ukraine — in
 Kazakhstan’s capital Astana. Preparations for
 this summit won't achieve a peace settlement
 in eastern Ukraine, as the US is pushing Kiev
 to resolve the conflict by using force.

“The new spate of drafts to Ukraine's Army 
 isn't a conventional one, since mobilization
means preparation for war,” Dr Vyacheslav
Nikonov, a deputy of the State Duma, says.

“Petro Poroshenko, president & commander-
in-chief, is thus playing out the scenario of a
 future war in this manner,” he says.

 “Since Poroshenko is not an independently
 acting figure, he won’t declare a new draft,
 unless his initiative is a suitable cover for
 US plans to fan tensions in the region, as
 a means of struggle with Russia.”

“Russia won’t be able to watch the plight of
 citizens of the Donetsk & Luhansk republics
 placidly, because Russians never let their
 relatives or friends down,” Dr. Nikonov says.

 “Once, in the past, the US lost the Vietnam
war because Russia, then the Soviet Union,
aided the brotherly Vietnamese people,
and that is a lesson not to be forgotten.”


____________________________



Minsk meeting still not taking place.

The meeting, scheduled for Friday, included
representatives from the anti-coup regions
in S. Eastern Ukraine, but was called off on
Friday, by Kiev.


____________________________________



E. Ukrainian rebels say they
 now control Donetsk airport

The militias in southeastern Ukraine say they
now fully control the strategically important
Donetsk airport, after an exhausting stand-
off with government forces.

 The airport has been the scene of violent
fighting, since last May.


__________________________



Parliaments of Cuba and Chile
             Ask for Closer Links               
 
 The President of Cuba's parliament, Esteban Lazo,
 and the head of the Chilean Chamber of Deputies,
 Aldo Cornero, say both of their legislative groups
 want to strengthen links, stating that both their
governments and peoples, favour this.

The invitation on Cuba's part, is a true expression
 of our interest in contributing to improve relations
 and build the collaborative mechanisms between
 the parliaments of both nations, affirms Corneiro.

The christian democrat deputy heads a high-level
 delegation formed, among others, by communist
Lautaro Carmona, Vice-preasident of the Chamber
 of Deputies & a member of the Interparliamentary
Group Chile-Cuba.

As he thanked Cuba for the invitation, Cornero
 praised the particular circumstance in which the
 visit took place, since the decision of the Cuban
 & US governments to start to normalize relations
 --- after more than half a century of US hostility.

Chileans will support everything that leads to
 improving the life of Cubans, and we ask that
 this effort has a positive ending, he stated.

Lazo said thank you to the gestures of
 Chilean solidarity with Cuba, and recalled
 that the US trade blockade remains, so the
 island still needs friends all over the world.

He also stressed the significance of  the
first visit in decades by representatives of
 the Chilean parliament, a country that - he
 said - contributed notably to the struggles
 for independence of the island, in the 19th
century.

Chile was the second nation to recognize
Cuba's struggle against Spanish colonialism
 and many of its children joined the cause,
 he recalled.

He added that this parliamentary visit will
bring a tightening of bilateral relations,
 and a strengthening of the necessary
 unity of Latin America.

Cornero and his delegation will remain in
 Havana until January 18th to meet with
 other authorities and tour historical and
 scientific places in the Cuban capital.



---------------------------------------------------



Presidential Talks Reaffirm Effective
                  Russia-Venezuela Alliance               

As he returns to Venezuela via Moscow airport,
president Nicolas Maduro leaves convinced of
both the strength & efficiency, of the strategic
Russia-Venezuela association.

A two-hour dialogue with his peer and host,
 Vladimir Putin, was enough to reaffirm the
 political & economic strength of the alliance.

After meeting with Putin, in statements to
 Prensa Latina, the South American states-
person confirmed they had reviewed topics
 on energy, the agro-industry, commerce,
 and the food sector.

Other subjects approached were the develop-
ment of infrastructure, housing construction
 projects, cultural cooperation and financing
 for development plans.

An agreement was signed to increase investment
 and participation by Russian enterprises in mixed
 companies already existing in the Orinoco strip,
 and other projects that will expand stock
 investments, stated Maduro.

Investment will keep increasing in oil production,
 to defend the oil market, and to strengthen their
 strategic alliance in energy and in financing, to
 keep the country functioning while oil prices are
 low, said the Venezuelan president.

Credits will be extended to the industrial, food
 & infrastructure sectors, as well as in programs
 of social development, called "missions", in
 Venezuela.

As an example of the support, despite the oil
market limitations for both exporting powers,
 plus sanctions imposed by the US & its allies,
 Maduro says it has been decided to finance,
 with a billion dollars, the erection of the first
 30 school integrated centres.

The President's optimism was obvious when
 he mentioned he was returning to report to
 the popular councils on the achievements
 made, give details of the tour, and reply at
a higher level to what he says, is a pretend
 economic coup détat, by the opposition.

Putin and Maduro decided to advance the date
 of the meeting of the Intergovernmental High
 Level Commission to next April in Moscow to
 define their cooperation program for 2015-2016.

To that end, the Deputy Minister of Industries,
 Carlos Farias, executive sec for Venezuela,
 of the joint intergovernmental commission,
will travel to Moscow next week.

Moscow & Caracas keep closely collaborating,
 above all in the oil market, where Russia is the
 number one world producer (14 percent) and
 Venezuela has the largest proven reserves of
oil with 298.4 billion barrels (18 percent of the
world's crude).

If the 80 billion barrels (4.8% of Russian reserves)
 are added to the Venezuelan reserves, this totals
 one quarter of all Earth's reserves.


__________________________________________



USA Expands Training of
                 Syrian Anti-government Group               
 
 The US will send over 400 advisors & "several
 hundred" ground troops to the Middle East in
 the coming months, to train anti-government
 groups, the Pentagon announces.

The plan marks an extension of President Barack
 Obama's program to increase the preparation of
these irregular groups, which began in March
2013, in Jordan, under the direction of the CIA.

The mission will be led by the US military and it
 anticipates training - over the next three years -
 over 15,000 irregulars of the groups seeking to
 overthrow by force, President Bashar Al-Assad.

The DoD's statement doesn't make clear the
 location of these training centres, although
 Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, have all
offered themselves as bases for such acts.

The head of the White House  last December
signed a bill that includes a plan for air strikes
 against Islamic State, about five billion dollars
 for the training of Iraqi forces, as well as other
resources & 'advisors' for Syrian 'irregulars'.

The military coalition led by Washington has,
since August 8th, bombed terrorist groups in
 Iraq and on September 23rd, extended these
 bombings to Syrian soil, without the consent
 of the government in Damascus.


__________________________________________



UN calls on Israel to ‘immediately’ resume
 tax revenue transfer to Palestinians

The UN is now calling on Israel to resume
 transferring tax revenues to the Palestinian
 Authority, which it withheld in retaliation for
 Palestinian efforts to join the International
 Criminal Court (ICC).


_________________________



Greek anti-austerity party
 holds lead before snap election

A recent opinion poll shows that Greece’s anti-
bailout opposition political party Syriza holds a
 lead over the ruling conservatives & is expected
 to grab the largest share of votes in this month’s
 snap general election.

According to a survey by pollsters with Pulse
for Action 24 television published on Thursday,
 Syriza will get 31.5% of the vote against 28%
 for the liberal-conservative political party New
 Democracy of Prime Minister Antonis Samaras.

The results come a day after the Alco poll for
the newspaper To Pontiki revealed that Greek
 leftist opposition party Syriza holds a steady
 3.5-point lead over the ruling conservatives.

That survey, held between January 11th
 and 13th, indicated that Syriza would get
 32.4% of the vote against 28.9% for the
 New Democracy party.

Syriza will hold 142 of the 300 seats in the
 parliament should Greeks cast their ballots
 in the January 25 election, as surveys show.

That means an overall parliamentary majority
 would be out of Syriza’s reach as the leading
 party must usually collect between 36 and
 40 percent of the vote, to win outright.

Samaras has warned that the cash-strapped
 country may be forced out of the eurozone if
 Syriza wins the vote later this month.

Syriza leftists have consistently topped opinion
 polls in recent months, promising to reverse the
 austerity measures that secured an international
 bailout by the so-called troika of the International
 Monetary Fund, the European Commission, and
 the European Central Bank.

Greece nearly went bankrupt in 2010, only to
 survive on international rescue packages. It
has received 240 billion euros (USD 330
billion) in international loans.


__________________________________________



Sayyed Nasrallah: Hezbollah Ready
 to Invade Galilee and beyond Galilee

Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hasan
Nasrallah asserts that the Islamic Resistance
 is ready to invade Galilee & Israeli settlements
 beyond Galilee, in any upcoming war against
the Zionist entity.

Sayyed Nasrallah points out that the Resistance
 won't only resort to missiles to defend Lebanon.
 It has prepared its fighters to be able to storm
 Galilee, if their leadership needs to order this.

During an exclusive interview with Al-Mayadeen
 TV Network broadcast live on Al-Manar Channel,
 Sayyed Nasrallah says that, despite Hezbollah's
 current preoccupations, it has accumulated and
 sustained its military power, adding that the Israeli
 enemy has acknowledged that the party is gaining
 huge military experience, from various battlefields.

Sayyed Nasrallah points out that the resistance
 has every conceivable type of weapon, revealing
that it has possessed Fateh 110 missiles ever
since the 2006 war. He goes on to hint of more...
"The resistance also has weaponry that is much
 more sophisticated."

Hezbollah Secretary General says the party
 is following a permanent plan to develop its
abilities and that, in 2015, the resistance
 is stronger than ever before.

His eminence notes, "We do not limit our
 human and military capabilities."

Concerning the Israeli recurrent air raids on
 targets in Syria, Sayyed Nasrallah says that
all the axis of resistance is concerned with
 responding to the attacks, stressing that the
 response may take place "at any time". 

Sayyed Nasrallah reveals that Israeli air raids
 were always part of a militant plan to attack
 the Syrian army, noting the communication
by the Israeli military, with terrorist groups
in the Golan and in Quneitra. 

Hezbollah's leader stresses that the Resistance
 cannot tolerate the Israeli assaults, adding that
 the party considers that the terrestrial, marine
 and air violations -- besides the assassinations
 and the assault --- are red lines which cannot
 be crossed by the Zionists.

Sayyed Nasrallah notes that Hezbollah will
 respond to any Israeli violations, in the way
 that he finds suitable.

However, he adds that the resistance does not
 compel itself to respond in a manner that might
 serve the Zionist's interests.

Sayyed Nasrallah clarifies that the Resistance's
 operation against the Zionist occupation troops
 on Shebaa Farms in 2014, was a response to the
 Israeli deliberate murder of a Hezbollah fighter
 who was dismantling a Zionist spying device.

Sayyed Nasrallah highlights that the US-Zionist
 security violation of Hezbollah was exaggerated,
 revealing that Hezbollah detected the spy, who
worked in favor of the Israeli enemy, but did not
 have any relation with the military structure of
 the resistance.

His eminence adds that the social environment
of the resistance does not embrace spy work in
 favor of the enemy, noting that Hezbollah deals
 with such violations very seriously.

"As the Israeli security violation was serious,
 Hezbollah's achievement in detecting the
 violation, must be applauded."

Hezbollah Secretary General says the party
 has not deployed military units on the Golan
Heights, but is ready to aid public resistance
 to the Israeli occupation in the area.

"The Zionist entity is no longer able to achieve
 any military victory in Lebanon after its failure
 in its recent war on Gaza," Sayyed Nasrallah
 underscores, "I don't eliminate the possibility
 of a war with the Zionist entity, yet 'Israel'..
does not launch wars, if it isn't sure of being
able to achieve victory."
 
"Hezbollah has not halted communication with
 the Palestinian resistance factions, and Hamas
 is now trying to reset its relation with the axis of
 resistance," Sayyed Nasrallah says, "We will try
 to promote these relations, in order to fight the
 Zionist enemy together."

Commenting on the Syrian-Iraqi scene, the
 Secretary General points out that militant
gangs are unable to beat the regular army,
 adding that dethroning President Bashar
Assad, can no longer be achieved.

"The Syrian opposition does not have any
problem about sharing with president Assad
in ruling the country, but the interventionists
are banning this process."

Stressing that any political solution in Syria
 must also include President Assad, Sayyed
Nasrallah says that the regular army controls
most Syrian territories and that ISIL, Nusra
Front and the so-called Free Syrian Army,
 hold the rest.

Saudi Arabia's battlefield influence turned out
to be so meager, after the Kingdom committed
 a major mistake by implementing the Afghani
 pattern in Syria, Sayyed Nasrallah points out.

Hezbollah's Secretary General confirms that
Turkey funds & supports ISIL and Nusra, who
 get battlefield facilities from the government
 in Ankara, but he also mentions that Turkish-
Iraqi relations may improve with the advent
 of the new government in Baghdad.

Sayyed Nasrallah asserts that the International
 Coalition's air raids against ISIL do not aim at
 eradicating the terrorist group as the US isn't
 concerned with achieving this goal at present.

"The Americans aim only at containing ISIL,
 and having US military bases in Iraq."

Hezbollah Sec Gen points out that the Iraqis
 themselves managed to stop ISIL attacks on
 their cities with aid from their Iranian brethren.

His eminence clarifies that the US administration
 is no longer concerned with excluding President
 Assad from the political solution in Syria.

Sayyed Nasrallah asserts that Hezbollah
considers that President Assad can guarantee
 the implementation of any political solution in
 Syria.

"The ISIL card has been played and exhausted
 & the terrorist group can't change the formula.
 ISIL started to lose its popularity in Iraq, after
 massacring even Sunni Muslims."

On Bahrain, Sayyed Nasrallah says that the
 opposition expressed its readiness to reach
 a political solution with the regime, but Saudi
Arabia rejected all the regional mediations to
 end the crisis, insisting instead, on ending
the peaceful revolution.

On Yemen: "The relation between Hezbollah
and the Yemen's Ansarullah is political, not
military," Sayyed Nasrallah says, "The party
and Iran were not involved in the recent
developments in Yemen."

"What happened in Yemen is related exclusively
 to Ansarullah and its people; Hezbollah and Iran
 did not contribute to the recent developments
 in that country."

Hezbollah's Sec Gen considers that a plot was
 set to subdue Ansarullah, which suffered the
 threat of elimination, so the group reacted. 

Welcoming Egypt's return to play its strategic
 role in the region, Sayyed Nasrallah stresses
 that Hezbollah supports any Egyptian initiative
 to end the Syrian crises.

"Hezbollah tried to communicate with the Muslim
 Brotherhood who always refrained from following
 this path and even blocked Iranian initiatives to
 promote mutual relations during Mursi's reign."

Sayyed Nasrallah says Iran enjoys prosperous
 conditions in spite of Western pressure, adding
that those countries trying to challenge the
 Islamic Republic through the nuclear file, will
 collapse and that Iran will emerge victorious.

Domestically, Sayyed Nasrallah says:

"Hezbollah supports any dialogue among
Lebanese political factions to settle the
complicated issues, including presidential
 elections, despite the attempts of 'hawks'
 to frustrate this trend in the country."

Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah ends by saying that
 the resistance, socially, supports its strategic
 decisions, including the intervention in Syria.


______________________________________



Bahraini protest rages as
 another opposition leader arrested

Crowds of protesters took to the streets
 in the capital, Manama, Thursday, calling
 on the monarchy to release Sheikh Ali
Salman, leader of Al-Wefaq opposition
 party, and expressing outrage over the
 arrest of his close ally, Jameel Kadhim.

Kadhim was arrested outside Al-Wefaq HQ
 in Manama and imprisoned on Wednesday.

 In a press briefing prior to his arrest, Kadhim
 told his followers to continue a “peaceful and
 civilized movement until victory” is reached,
 promising to continue his fight in prison.

 Al-Wefaq issued a statement condemning his
arrest as “security & judicial tools to punish
 opponents.”

Sayed Yousif al-Muhafda of the Bahrain Centre
for Human Rights says change will never come
 as long as the ruling family cracks down on the
 opposition.

“The government, they don't want any dialogue at all.
 For the last two to three years they are just lying to
 the international community that there is progress,
 there is dialogue, but this is the reality: people who
 should be in the dialogue are in gaol right now,” Al-
Muhafda states.

As a member of Bahrain's majority Shi ite
 opposition group, Kadhim was sentenced
to six months for alleging election bribery
 on his Twitter page in October.

 Bahrain’s Lower Criminal Court found him
 guilty of disrupting the elections and ordered
 him to pay a 500 Bahraini dinar ($1,300) fine
 in addition to serving his jail sentence.

Kadhim’s lawyer, Abdullah Al Shamlawi, says
 his client will appeal against the conviction
 at the High Criminal Appeals Court.

His sentencing comes as Al-Wefaq leader,
 Sheikh Ali Salman, after being arrested on
 December 28th, still remains in gaol, amid
 ongoing clashes between protesters and
security forces. He also faces a gaol term
and is being held pending an investigation
 into charges of inciting violence.

Bahrain, ruled by King Hamad, was rocked
 by protests in 2011 by the country’s Shiite
Muslim population, calling for freedom in
the minority Sunni-ruled country.

 Although the government, backed by Saudi
Arabia, managed to suppress the protests
 very quickly, clashes between the security
 forces and protesters still occur near daily.


___________________________________________



Japan approves largest military budget since WWII

Japan’s government has approved its largest military
budget in 70 years, in contravention of the country’s
 pacifist constitution, in a display of force to its highly
 militarized neighbors. The extra military spending
 comes amid a stalling economy.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's Cabinet has given the
 green light to an unprecedented nearly 5 trillion yen
 ($42 billion) defense budget, which comes into force
 in April.

The extra military spending mirrors an expanded
 overall budget, which has reached a record 96.3
 trillion yen ($814 billion). The budget still awaits
 parliament’s approval, where Abe's government
 coalition has a majority in both houses.

The 2 percent increase in military spending is
the third hike during Abe’s rule. Since he took
 office in December 2012, Abe has ended an
11 year decline in defense spending. In 2002,
Tokyo passed its previous highest military
budget of 4.96 trillion yen.

“This budget will contribute to achieving both
 economic recovery and regaining fiscal health
 together," PM Abe said at a press conference.

In line with plans announced in late 2013,
Abe’s Cabinet plans to spend 24.7 trillion yen
 between 2014 and 2019 on military hardware,
 including amphibious vehicles, drones, fighter
 jets and submarines.

Japan’s military purchases consist mainly of US-
made military hardware & homemade weaponry.

Tokyo intends to buy six 5th-generation F-35A
 stealth fighter jets (reportedly for $148 million
 each), and 5 US-made Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey
 tilt-rotor aircraft (which have an estimated
price of $68 million each).

Japan’s so-called Self-Defense Force also gets
 a fleet of US-made Global Hawk drones (est.
 cost over $100 million a unit), yet this will take
 place over a five-year period and funds for this
 won't be taken from out of the 2015 military
budget, Japanese officials tell AFP.

The Japanese Defense Ministry’s shopping list
 also includes 20 Kawasaki P-1 (350 billion yen a
unit) national-made maritime patrol aircraft, at
350 billion yen each) which are now in service
 with the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force.

Tokyo’s increased military expenditure comes
 amid rising tensions between Japan and China
 over territorial disputes in the East China Sea.

Abe’s government is struggling to prevent the
 economy slipping into recession. The country's
population is aging & welfare costs are soaring.

In 2014, Japan’s population fell for a third straight
 year, with the elderly (over 65 years old) making
 up 25% of the nation. Social security spending in
 2015 is expected to account for about one-third
 of the budget.

The Cabinet is boosting government spending,
changing its tax policies and prompting the
 nation’s senior citizens to spend more on the
 younger generation.

Abe has previously tried to alter the country’s
pacifist constitution and downplay restrictions
 it imposes on the national armed forces, but
has failed to gain the necessary public support.

Instead, his government has reinterpreted the
 law, saying that it allows the Japanese military
 to come to the rescue of an ally under attack.



___________________________



Donetsk republic negotiator to leave for
Minsk January 15 for Contact Group talks

The self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic's
 negotiator for the settlement in eastern Ukraine,
 Denis Pushilin, leaves for Minsk today (Thurs),
 to take part in the Contact Group talks.

The Contact Group is expected to gather in
 the Belarusian capital on January 16th.

The Lugansk People’s Republic negotiator,
Vladislav Deinego, says the agenda of the
 meeting will likely include the four previous
 issues - the pullout of artillery and rocket
systems from the disengagement line in
 Donbass, the exchange of prisoners, the
 lifting of the economic blockade on
Donbass and the coming into effect of
the law on Donbass' special status.

 The Minsk Protocol document contains 9 points,
 including a ban on the use of all armaments and
 withdrawal of weapons with calibres of over 100
 millimetres to a distance of 15 kilometres from
the contact line by each side.

 The OSCE is controlling implementation of the
 memorandum's provisions, and its numbers
are being boosted.


_________________________________



No Religion Can Justify Violence,
                Says Pope Francis in Sri Lanka               
 
 Pope Francis expresses to the leaders of the
major religious communities in Sri Lanka, the
 will of the Catholic Church to work jointly for
 the prosperity of citizens and the country.

We must demand that our communities,
 clearly and unequivocally, fully live the
 principles of peace and coexistence
 encompassed in every religion, and
denounce acts of violence committed,
 says the Supreme Pontiff, meeting the
 leaders of all religious denominations
 on the island.

In Sri Lanka, where 70% are Buddhist,
12% Hindu, 10% Muslim & 7.5% Christian,
Francis recalls that "for many years men
 and women of this country were victims
 of civil conflicts and violence", and he
stresses that what is needed now is
 "recovery and unity".

Noting that "this is a noble task concerning all",
he hopes that interfaith & ecumenical cooperation
 will prove that nobody has to give up their ethnic
 or religious identity to live in harmony with others.

"For the sake of peace, it should never be allowed
 that religious beliefs be used to justify violence
 and war", stresses the Holy Father.

Before, the Pope held a private meeting with the
 newly elected Sri Lankan President Maithripala
 Sirisena, who led the welcoming ceremony at
Colombo
International Airport, along with the
Archbishop
of Colombo, Cardinal Malcolm
Ranjith.


Because of the time it took him to greet the
 thousands of people who cheered him outside
 the airport terminal, and from there downtown,
 the Head of the Vatican suspended a meeting
 that had been scheduled for the afternoon,
 with bishops of the island.


_______________________________



Ecuador Urges Asia-Pacific Forum
                to Favor Regional Co-operation               
 
 Ecuador's Foreign Minister, Ricardo Patiño,
yesterday (Tues) asked member countries
of the Asia-Pacific Parliamentary Forum, to
 strengthen regional cooperation as a way
 to change the current world order.

Cooperation is the main tool to transform
the international order, said Patino, in the
masterly lecture he gave Tuesday, to 240
 delegates, from 17 Pacific basin nations.

According to Patino, one of the similarities
between members of the Forum founded in
 1993 by exJapanese PM Yasuhiro Nakasone
 is the need to adapt the world's governing
 bodiess to Earth's new political, economic
 and social realities.

In this regard, he reiterated the call to reform
 the United Nations, particularly its Security
Council which, he said, continues operating
 in a closed, faulty way.

After calling for the ending of the right to
 veto within the UN Security Council, Patino
 said the five powers with the right to veto
should be replaced by regional blocs: eg the
 European Union, the African Union and the
 Community of Latin American and Caribbean
 States --- for the sake of true representation.

According to Patino, the Pacific basin should
 also play a significant role in the international
 order, because it represents nearly half the
 world's population and 57% of world trade.

The Pacific will be the most important economic
 zone in the world in terms of trade, in the next
 ten years, said Patino, who referring to regional
 integration cited the example of achievements
 made by Celac and the Union of S. American
 Nations (Unasur).


_________________________



US Central Command Twitter account
apparently hacked by CyberCaliphate

The official Twitter account for the United States
 Central Command — CENTCOM — appears to have
 been compromised by a hacker group sympathetic
 to the organization formerly known as Islamic State.

A series of tweets were sent from the @CENTCOM
 account on Monday, starting with one warning:
 “AMERICAN SOLDIERS, WE ARE COMING, WATCH
 YOUR BACK. ISIS. “

That tweet and messages posted moments after,
 refer to a group known as CyberCaliphate and links
 to documents that are purported to be confidential
 files pilfered from American military computers,
 including one cache of files containing slideshows
 that appear to have details about apparent threats
 in the Caspian, China, North Korea, Africa and
 Indonesia.

A statement posted on the website Pastebin shared
 by the compromised CENTCOM account announced:

“US and its satellites kill our brothers in Syria, Iraq
 and Afghanistan: we broke into your networks and
 personal devices and know everything about you.

You'll see no mercy infidels. ISIS is already here,
we are in your PCs, in each military base. With
Allah's permission we are in CENTCOM now.

We won't stop! We know everything about you,
your wives and children.

US soldiers! We're watching you!”

Soon after, the hacked Twitter account posted
a photo appearing to show US military personnel
 surrounded by computers with the caption: “ISIS
 is already here, we are in your PCs, in each
military base."

Last week, the social media accounts for two
  television news networks were compromised
 by persons alleging to belong to Cyber Caliphate
 — an apparent hacker collective either affiliated
 or sympathetic to the military group also known
as ISIS, or ISIL. It was reported at the time that
the US Federal Bureau of Investigation had
opened a probe into the matter.

Considering that Congress funds IS, and if IS
 hacked CentCommand, does this mean that
 the US government just hacked themselves?


____________________________________



Divisions remain after Ukraine crisis
 talks, sides may meet again next week

The foreign ministers of Russia, Germany, France,
 and Ukraine spent three hours behind closed doors
 discussing the Ukraine crisis on Monday, and may
 meet again next week if progress is made over the
 next few days in resolving remaining disagreements.

After the meeting in Berlin on Monday, Russian
 Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said the political
 process to end Ukraine's crisis will only succeed
 if Kiev treats the self-proclaimed Donetsk and
 Lugansk Republics as equal partners.

"It was stressed that the political process can
 be a success only when you start direct dialogue,
 in this case between the representatives of the
 Ukrainian government and the proclaimed DPR
and LPR, and they should feel fully involved in the
 political process as equal partners," Lavrov said.

After the meeting, the four ministers called on
 the contact group of Ukraine, Russia, and the
Organization for Security and Co-operation in
 Europe (OSCE) to try to make more progress
on implementing a Ukraine peace deal agreed
 in September, including creating the "relevant
 conditions for an effective ceasefire,” the joint
 statement reads.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier
 said that, while Monday's session was a “very
open exchange,” it didn't produce enough results
 for a meeting of the leaders of Russia, Germany,
 Ukraine, and France this week, in Kazakhstan.

Steinmeier said that representatives from foreign
 ministries will continue work to find common ground.
The foreign ministers of the Normandy Quartet might
 also hold another meeting next week if “progress
is achieved in the coming days.”

The so-called Normandy Quartet was established in
 June when Russian, French, German, and Ukrainian
 leaders met in northern France's Normandy, to talk
 and find a political solution to the Ukrainian crisis.


____________________________________



Ukraine to participate in
 11 NATO war games in 2015

The Ukrainian army will take part in 11 international
 military drills this year to bolster NATO standards in
its troops. Despite an economic crisis, Kiev will still
use 5.2 percent of its 2015 budget on the army.

Ukrainian servicemen will appear at seven military
 drills in Europe, while four maneuvers will be hosted
 in Ukraine, the assistant Ukrainian defense minister,
 Viktoria Kushnir, states.

“These exercises are going to finalize a stage of
combat training to boost NATO standards in our
troops,” Kushnir says.

The largest drills will be the Ukrainian-US Rapid
 Trident maneuvers for ground troops & Sea Breeze,
a naval exercise in Ukraine. A like exercise was
held as recently as last September, when NATO
sent 700 weapons units and 50 vehicles. The US
sent 200 servicemen.

The Naval Trident Juncture exercises will take
place outside Ukraine's borders, says Kushnir.

The Ukrainian Navy will also take part in drills,
 with American warships --- in the Black Sea.

The Ukrainian parliament has to give permission
 for maneuvers in the country. President Petro
 Poroshenko is expected to submit a draft to
Kiev's parliament to get formal approval for it.

Since September, there have been a number
 of reports saying NATO member states have
 begun sending "non-lethal" military aid to Kiev.

There have also been unconfirmed reports of
 lethal aid being supplied to Ukrainian troops
 fighting 'operations' against anti-Kiev militias
 in the east of the country.

In December 2014, President Petro Poroshenko
 signed a law cancelling the country's non-bloc
status and promising to hold a referendum on
 NATO accession,  in the next 5 to 6 years.

The latest news of NATO supplies to Ukraine,
 came last weekend when a cargo ship with 42
 containers, holding allegedly non-lethal military
 supplies, docked at the Ukrainian port of
Odessa, in the Black Sea.

Also, last December, Canada sent a small
contingent of its military police to Ukraine
 to help the coup government and security
 forces protect Ukraine's 'territorial integrity'.


______________________________________



Ukraine plans another war in
southeast - Russian FM Lavrov

Moscow has obtained information about the
 Ukrainian military preparing another plan to
'solve' the conflict in the southeast militarily,
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says. 

"There is information, very alarming information,
 which we are now double-checking, that the
security forces are preparing for another stage
 of the military solution to the problem in the
 foreseeable future. This would be a disaster,"
Lavrov says at a press conference after talks
 with his Latvian counterpart Edgars Rinkevich.

In addition, Lavrov says, Ukraine doesn't deny
the fact of declaring a mobilization. "There are
different numbers, but from 50,000 to more than
 200,000 people need to be mobilized," he says.

According to Sergei Lavrov, Russia will continue
 demanding that the West should put pressure on
 the "war party" in Kiev, to rule out a military
scenario in eastern Ukraine.

"We, regardless of what happens in Paris, Syria,
 Libya and elsewhere, will continue to demand
from our western partners, whose influence on
 the Ukrainian leadership is much stronger than
 anyone else's, that they look into those plans
 not to let the "war party" in Kiev bring down all
 those fragile hopes that the Minsk agreements
 created," Lavrov says.


_____________________________________



Serbian PM accuses EU of media
campaign to destabilize govt

Serbian prime minister, Aleksandar Vucic, has
accused the European Union of organizing a
campaign to destabilize his administration by
 funding anti-government media reports, says
Reuters news agency.

 His accusation comes after a regional news
 organization published an article criticizing
 reconstruction of Tamnava coal mine, which
 was destroyed by flooding last year.

 Earlier, the EU-funded Balkan Investigative
Reporting Network (BIRN) said that the state-
owned power monopoly Elektroprivreda Srbije
 (EPS) hired an inexperienced local company to
 work on the reconstruction, allegedly steeply
raising costs.



________________________________________



Croatia's opposition conservative
wins extremely close runoff vote

Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic wins the runoff election
in Croatia, on Russia's borders, with 50.54% of the
 vote, becoming Croatia’s first female president,
 the state electoral commission says.

The incumbent centre-left Ivo Josipovic, has now
admitted defeat & congratulated Grabar-Kitarovic
 on victory, after getting 49.46% in Sunday's poll.

 So far, 97.8% of votes have been counted,
 which means that Grabar-Kitarovic has
won by about 20,000 votes.

 Both candidates promised to fix the country’s
 troubled economy, which has been stuck in
a long-lasting recession.

The new president is a NATO public relations
official, and, although Croatia's presidency is
largely ceremonial, it gives her control over
Croatia's armed forces -- jointly with the
Social Democratic PM.

The Social Democrats have a majority in
Croatia's parliament, and elections are due
at the end of this year, but the right (called
'scum' by the centre-leftists) are pressing
fiercely for the vote to be brought forward.

Her victory shows that Croatia, a new member
of the European Union (EU), is ideologically
 highly divided and the citizens expect change
 to get out of a recession which has lasted six
 years, driving nationwide unemployment rates
 to nearly 20 percent, analysts in Zagreb say.

Professor Ivan Rimac of
Zagreb University's law
department said on Croatian public television
 network, HTV, that Grabar-Kitarovic won, due
to her rhetoric about the unity of Croatia.

"We have had enough of divisions," she said in
her campaign, calling for those who voted for
Josipovic, to become part of her team & unite
 so as to help Croatia emerge from its crisis.

She said she would see that Croatia became
 one of the most developed countries in the
 EU and the world.

Analysts believe Josipovic's defeat is partly
due to the fact that the ruling coalition, which
 supported Josipovic's candidacy, had failed
 to reform the huge, inefficient public sector,
 improve the business climate, or attract EU
 development funds.

Some view Grabar-Kitarovic's victory, backed
 by the largest opposition party, the Croatian
 Democratic Union, as likely to bolster that
 party's electoral chances.

However, others say Grabar-Kitarovic won
 the presidential office only with the votes
of people who no longer live in the country.

According to election data, Grabar-Kitarovic
 received 91.11 percent of the vote abroad,
while Josipovic won 8.89 percent only.

In countries with the largest Croatian
communities, Bosnia and Herzegovina,
and Germany, Grabar-Kitarovic won
 93.80 percent and 94.12 percent of
the vote, respectively.

Political observers say her unexpected
 win, by 20,000 votes, only undermines
her authority.

Also, as head of state, she too will be held
 partly responsible for the poor economy,
 they say.


____________________________________



US Rejects Possibility of Peace
 on Korean Peninsula

The USA, on Sunday, has rejected a proposal
 submitted by the Democratic People's Republic
of Korea, that might have given a possibility of
 peace on the Korean Peninsula, the website
 of the newspaper China Daily, reports.

On Friday, Pyongyang proposed canceling its
 nuclear tests in exchange for the Pentagon &
 S. Korea suspending their annual military drills.

That way, a step could have been taken towards
 peace in a region where tensions escalate every
 year when the United States and S. Korea carry
 out military maneuvers involving nuclear arms,
and North Korea takes preventive measures.

With 28,500 soldiers deployed in the south of
the Korean Peninsula, the White House & Seoul
 carry out military maneuvers that are supposed
 to be defensive, including landings, bombings
 and shootings, plus mobilizing atomic weapons.

According to the spokesperson for the US State
 Department, Jen Psaki, the annual joint drills &
 Pyongyang's nuclear tests, are "different things".

Psaki says instead, that the DPRK's proposal
 is an implicit threat, although in fact, since the
 time of General Douglas MCarthur, the north of
 the Korean Peninsula has been in danger of
being bombed like Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

The Korean War (1950-53) has not concluded
 officially, as it ended with an armistice, but
 not with any signed formal ending.


_________________________________________



INCREDIBLE CLUE FOUND

The three prime suspects involved in terror
in France, are 'identified after one leaves
their ID card in the abandoned getaway
 car', reports the West's media on Sunday.


________________________________________



Ukrainian PM Arseny Yatsenyuk
 blames Soviet Union for invading Germany

Moscow has requested an explanation for the
 official position of Berlin regarding the remarks
 by Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk,
 of "Russia's invasion of Germany and Ukraine,"
 First Deputy Foreign Minister of the Russian
 Federation, Vladimir Titov says, TASS reports.

On Thursday, January 8th, Arseny Yatsenyuk,
when visiting Germany, gave an interview to
German TV channel ARD, in which he said:

 "Germany and the German Chancellor personally
 have done a lot to restore peace in Ukraine. To
 guarantee stability not only in Ukraine, but also
 in the whole of Europe." The current "Russian
 aggression in Ukraine is an attack on the world
 order and the order in Europe." He continued...

 "We still remember well, the Soviet invasion of
Ukraine and Germany. It should be avoided."

Friday, January 9, Yatsenyuk's spokesperson,
 Olga Lappo, explained the words by the prime
 minister. According to her, he meant the post-
war division of Germany...

 "Arseny Yatsenyuk meant the division of Germany
 by the Soviet Union after World War II. A wall was
 built to divide Berlin --- to exclude the movement
of Germans from the east to the western part of
 the city," said Lappo.

Several Russian politicians have reacted to
 Yatsenyuk's words. For example, the head of
 the State Duma Committee for Foreign Affairs,
Alexei Pushkov, wrote on his Twitter page...
"Yatsenyuk has finally gone mad."

The head of the same committee of the upper
 house of the Russian parliament, Konstantin
 Kosachev, said that the remarks by the Prime
 Minister of Ukraine are a shameful excuse for
 Hitlerism and an insult to the memory of heroes.

In Germany, the online version of Spiegel magazine
  wrote satirically: "Indeed, since 1942, Soviet troops
 had been moving relentlessly to the West and were
 not afraid to pursue the army of the democratically
 elected chancellor, Adolf Hitler, even onto Ukrainian
 territory. (...) Finally, the Soviets transgressed the
eastern border of Germany & invaded its territory,
 as we all remember, together with Mr. Yatsenyuk."


_________________________________



Foreign ministers to meet over Ukraine in Berlin
        
The foreign ministers of Germany, France, Russia
 and Ukraine will meet in Berlin, Monday, to discuss
 the Ukraine crisis, says Germany's Foreign Ministry.

"The Minsk agreement must remain the compass
for all further steps," German Foreign Minister,
 Frank-Walter Steinmeier, says. "But there's still
 a long and bumpy road, before the agreement
is fully implemented."

The minister says he and his counterparts want
 to "make another attempt to overcome obstacles
 Monday," aiming to make political compromises
 possible, which could help ease the tensions in
eastern Ukraine.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has invited
 the leaders of Russia, France & Germany to talks
 over the Ukraine crisis in Kazakhstan's capital
 Astana, on January the 15th.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has left it open
 as to whether the four-way summit will take place
 next week. During a press conference with visiting
 Ukrainian Prime Minister, Arseny Yatsenyuk, on
 Thursday, Merkel said foreign ministers of the four
 countries were still in the preparatory phases for
 a possible meeting.


_____________________________________________



UK Spy Chief Warns: Militants Planning
Mass Casualty Attacks against West

The head of Britain's domestic spy agency
 MI5, warns that militant Islamists in Syria
 are planning "mass casualty attacks" in
 the West -- and the intelligence services
 may be powerless to stop them.

"We know a group of core al-Qaeda terrorists
 in Syria, is planning mass casualty attacks
 against the West," he tells media in London.

"Although we and our partners try our utmost,
 we know we can't hope to stop everything,"
 he adds.

Parker says that fighters returning to the West
 from Syria, are in danger of bringing with them
 a "twisted ideology", that could lead them to
 attack famous landmarks "at home".

Although the Takfiri group operating in Iraq
and Syria, ISIL, presents the most obvious
threat, fighters aligned with the core of
 al-Qaeda, are also a danger.

"We still face more complex, ambitious plots,
 following the now (sadly) well-established
 approach of al-Qaeda and its imitators ----
 attempts to cause large-scale loss of life,
 often by attacking transport systems or
 iconic targets," he says.

The MI5 director general says the attack on
the French satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo,
 which took place earlier on Wednesday, is a
 "terrible reminder" of the threat to Western
 nations, revealing that MI5 has helped stop
three terror plots "in recent months alone".

Parker is now calling for wider powers to
 identify and monitor suspects, after the
 backlash against the security services,
 when the extent of their snooping was
exposed by Edward Snowden, a former
 National Security Agency contractor.


__________________________________



Ayatollah Khamenei: Intelligence Agencies
 behind Divisive Plots against Muslims

Leader of the Islamic Revolution, Ayatollah
Sayyed Ali Khamenei, says that "enemy
 intelligence agencies" are behind most of
 the divisive plots hatched against Muslims.

“The hands that sow discord among Shias &
Sunnis, are linked to the spy services of the
 enemies of Islam,” says the Leader, talking
 to delegates at the Islamic Unity Conference
 now on, in the Iranian capital, Tehran.

Ayatollah Khamenei notes that the Western-
style leanings alleged to be Islamic, in fact,
 run counter to Islam.

“Neither the (so-called) Shia Muslims allied
 with the British MI6 are Shias, nor the (so-
called) Sunni mercenaries of the American
 CIA are Sunnis, as they are both anti-Islamic
 (mercenaries),” adds Ayatollah Khamenei.

Ayatollah Khamenei then notes that certain
 Middle East states which pursue a hostile
 approach regarding Iran, have set foot on
 the wrong path.

 “Some regional governments have based
their foreign policy on enmity toward Iran;
this is a big mistake and runs counter to
 common sense and wisdom,” he notes.

“Establishing and maintaining friendly ties
 with Muslim, neighboring and regional
states, is a paramount priority for Iran's
 foreign policy,” his eminence says.
 
The Leader, focusing on the Arbain march
 of this year, says it was an amazing event,
 that the enemies of Islam and the Infallible
 Household of the Prophet (S) had assumed
 had been blocked for good.

Ayatollah Khamenei says he appreciates
 the Iraqi government, nation and tribes'
selfless services provided to the Arabin
 mourners this year.


______________________________________



Japan textbook publisher to erase
 depictions of "comfort women"

A textbook publisher in Tokyo has got government
 permission to delete depictions of "comfort women"
 and all references to foreign workers forced to go
to Japan in all its civics textbooks for senior high
 school, local media report.

According to Japan's Kyodo News Agency, the
 publisher Suken Shuppan, made a request to the
 Ministry of Education in November last year and
 got approval from them recently, to erase such
 references in three social study textbooks -- two
 on modern social studies and another on politics
and economics.

A separate report by the Yomiuri Shimbun says
 that textbooks to be used from April have about
a 1.8% to 8.7% market share. Suken Shuppan
does not publish history textbooks.

In January 2014, the education ministry revised
 its textbook-screening standards for social studies,
 asking publishers to state the government's official
 views or the Japanese Supreme Court's decisions,
 in "contentious" cases.

Later in August, Japan's Asahi Shimbun published
a "clarified report" saying it will retract all stories
 dated decades ago, that quote Seiji Yoshida, the
 Japanese man who claimed he kidnapped about
200 Korean women and forced them to work in
  Japanese military brothels in wartime.

Some conservative politicians & right-wingers
took the opportunity to deny that any "comfort
 women" ever existed, and launched an offensive
 against the Kono Statement, in which the then
 Chief Cabinet Secretary, Yoheo Kono, admitted
that Japan's army was involved in recruiting
 women " through coercion."

When asked why it has chosen to cut these
 references, Suken Shuppan refused to make
any comment, saying they could not answer
"at this point".


_______________________________________



Public Committees in Nubbul & Al-Zahraa
 Frustrate Nusra Front's Fiercest Attacks

The public committees in Nubbul and Al-Zahraa
 in Aleppo's northern countryside encountered
a full attack launched by Nusra Front terrorists
 on the southern & eastern axes of both towns,
 inflicting heavy human and material losses.

The public committees killed scores of Nusra
Front terrorists, captured one of their tanks,
and destroyed a number of military vehicles,
 also including tanks.


_____________________________



                60,000 Foreigners Fighting in Syria               
 
 Over 60,000 foreigners, of which 40,000
are Arabs, now comprise the armed groups
 fighting the Syrian government, denounces
 Bouzeina Shaaban, political advisor to the
 Presidency.

Although it's difficult to predict the duration
 of the conflict, which is approaching its 4th
 year, the worst is over, the official says, in
an interview with Al Majadeen TV station.

The international community has begun to
alter their perception of the war imposed
on our country & understand the position
 of the Syrian government, she says.

Shaaban says that those who destroy
 factories, schools & markets, cannot
 be legitimately called "the opposition".

Over the next few days, contacts in
Moscow with opponents to relaunch
a dialogue, underline the importance
 of talks... and their hoped for results.

Americans are confused and waiting
 for Russia's position at the meeting,
before they announce a US position
 on this dialogue, she says.

Washington could join the talks - if
they were capable of serving its
interests, Shaaban warns.

She reveals that the US authorities notify
Damascus in advance, of the places they
 are about to bomb in Syria, as part of the
air offensive against the Islamic State.

The counselor also denounces support
 given to irregular bands in Syria, by the
 governments of Saudi Arabia, Qatar &
 Turkey.

She accuses Ankara of trying to revive the
Ottoman Empire and estimated that Syria's
 neighboring country stole millions of dollars
 in profits from the looting of Syria's cultural
 heritage, and from the transfer of numerous
factories into its territory, sold to Turkey by
 armed gangs at laughable prices.


_______________________________



Iran deploys ‘real Iron Dome’

Iran says it's activated its own “real Iron Dome”
 missile defense system, which makes the air-
space above Iran the safest in the Middle East.

“Today Iran's Air Defense System has given our
 country an Iron Dome in its real sense, and Iran's
 airspace is now the safest in the region," says
 Mohammad Hassan Aboutorabifard, vice speaker
of parliament, as quoted by Fars news agency.

Aboutorabifard dubs Iran's system a “real Iron Dome,”
 in reference to the joint US-Israeli Iron Dome missile
 shield which protects the Jewish state from missiles
 fired by Hamas fighters.

The vice speaker stresses that Iran's air defense
 system has “the highest deterrence power in the
 region.”

He tells of an unnamed US military official who,
 says Aboutorabifard, acknowledges Iran's high
 defensive abilities, saying Iran has tied up the
US military's capabilities in the Middle East.

Iran first announced plans to create a mid-range
 and long-range national missile defense system
 back in August 2014.

The lieutenant commander of Iran’s Khatam
ol-Anbia air defense base, Brigadier General
Alireza Sabahifard, says Iran’s anti-missile
 system is fully prepared to deal with any
 foreign threat.

"Iran's Air Defense and missile capabilities
 progress in proportion to the possible
 threats," Sabahifard states.

On Sunday, Fars reported that Iran has
 now developed “the world’s first missile
 evading drone.”

Its creator says it “can escape thermal
 and air-to-air missiles and no missile can
 approach it any closer than 250 meters."

On Monday, an Iranian military commander
 reported the successful testing of 3 suicide
 drones, which “were a type of cruise missiles
 and were fully manufactured by Iran's experts."

On Wednesday, Iranian Air Force spokesperson
 General Hossein Chitforoush announced that
 Iran has begun mass production of its home-
made Saeqeh fighter.

Just before the new year, a Iranian scientist
 said he has invented a state-of-the-art radar
 tracker, capable of detecting drugs, people,
and explosives.

Iran now publishes more scientific papers
than most countries.


_________________________________



UNHCR Reports: Record Number
                   of Refugees Since WWII               
 
 A new record for the number of internal and
external displaced in the first term of 2014,
of 56.70 million, is announced today by the
 UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UN
HCR), Antonio Guterres.

These figures, the highest seen since WWII,
 were prompted by armed conflicts in the
Middle East and Africa, among other
 factors, says Guterres today.

According to a report presented by Guterres,
some of the main countries of origin are...
Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, the People's
 Republic of Congo, Myanmar, and Iraq.

The economic, social and human costs of
 catering for these people are assumed mostly
 by communities that are poor, too --- precisely
those that can afford it the least, denounces
 the study.

For instance, Lebanon has over one fourth of
 its population now refugees, mostly Syrians,
says the UNHCR official.

He adds that 11% of the population in Jordan
 are refugees.

The industrialized country with most refugees
 is Sweden, with 1%, he adds.

According to general figures presented in
the report, the nation sheltering the most
 refugees in late June, 2014, was Pakistan,
with 1.60 million, followed by Lebanon with
1.10 million and Iran, with 982,000.

The report urges the international community
 to intensify solidarity to avoid the risk of an
  increasing number of vulnerable people who   
 lack adequate support.

The report says that, although the highest
number of refugee arrivals is registered in
 the above-mentioned areas, most asylum
 requests are made in the US and Europe,
led by Germany, with 67,400.

Guterres warns that, unless new political
 solutions to sustained conflicts are found,
 and other new conflicts are avoided, we
 will continue to face extremely dramatic
 human consequences.


________________________________



The Fantasy of an Iran-US Partnership:
 Report by Seyed Mohammad Marandi

Iran remains profoundly skeptical of US
 intentions & its professed determination
 to degrade and destroy ISIL.

Western pundits who blithely assert that the
 Islamic Republic of Iran can or will cooperate
 with the United States in Iraq against ISIL,
 ignore a basic problem; how can the US be
 a serious partner in fighting a terrorist
movement that Washington may have
 played a critical role in creating? 

When US Vice-President Joe Biden told an
 American university audience in October
 that Turkey, the UAE and Saudi Arabia are
 responsible for arming al-Nusra, ISIL, and
 other al-Qaeda-rooted extremists in Syria
and that there is no "moderate middle" in
 the country, there was (as most non-
Americans expected) little coverage of
this stunning admission in the US
 mainstream media.

Indeed, what coverage there was, focused
 on Biden's subsequent apologies to Turkish,
 Emirati, and Saudi leaders for having made
 such comments in the first place.

Predictably, there was no follow-up reporting
in the New York Times reminding Americans
that the US is itself complicit in funding and
 arming extremists in Syria.

In early 2013, the newspaper reported what
 many in the region already knew; that since
 the beginning of 2012, the CIA had been
deeply involved in procuring weapons for
anti-Assad forces, airlifting arms to
Jordanian and Turkish airports, and
"vetting" rebel commanders - all to help
US allies "support the lethal side of the
civil war". Other reports pointed out that
 these shipments were actually paid for
by US allies, at the bidding of the Obama
 administration.

But, after the Biden revelation, the so-called
 "newspaper of record" made no reference to
how the US, in violation of international law,
 helped to facilitate the Syrian civil war - and,
 in the process, to enable the rise of ISIL.

Western-backed extremism is neither a new
 nor regionally-bound concept. Whether it is
the "Contra" rebels in Nicaragua or al-Qaeda-
like groups in Afghanistan, the objective has
always been to achieve strategic objectives
through the infliction of mass suffering - for,
 in the "free and civilised world" of the US
and its allies, the utopian end too often
 justifies the Mephistophelean means.

More recently, an important footnote to the
 Libyan civil war was the involvement of Abdul
Hakim Belhaj, previously the leader of the
 Libyan Islamic Fighting Group as well as an
 al-Qaeda member.

He was one of many Libyan militants influenced
 by a takfiri (apostate) ideology; the groups with
 which he was affiliated were designated as
 terrorist organisations by the US State Dept.

Nevertheless, he, along with other like-minded
 militants, became central components in the
efforts of western and Arab-backed anti-Gaddafi
forces to capture Tripoli, the Libyan capital.

Western willingness to cooperate with al-Qaeda
 (or "former" al-Qaeda) militants in Libya was a
 major turning point. Even the subsequent death
 of the US ambassador to Libya did not change
US policy in this regard. Belhaj became the
 representative of Libya's interim president
after Gaddafi's overthrow (before complete
 ruination of the country).

More importantly, the willingness of the US
 and European and "Middle Eastern" allies to
embrace al-Qaeda-like militants took US and
western foreign policy in the region back to
 what it had been before the September 11,
 2001 attacks - a policy of cooperation with
 violent extremists to undermine regional
actors the West considers problematic.

This policy quickly expanded from Libya to Syria
 and the repercussions are being felt today, in
 states like Pakistan, Nigeria, Australia & China.

After Gaddafi's overthrow, Turkey - a NATO member
 - allegedly helped Belhaj to meet with leaders of the
 so-called "Free Syrian Army" in Istanbul and along
 the Syrian-Turkish border. In the meetings the former
 al-Qaeda leader discussed supporting the FSA with
 money, weapons, and fighters, at a time when the
 CIA was a major conduit for the transfer of weapons
 from Libya to Syria.

While Belhaj was just one of many al-Qaeda affiliates
 involved in violent anti-government campaigns in
 both Libya and Syria, his openly acknowledged role
 underscores how the supposedly "moderate" FSA
 was, from early on in the Syrian civil war, as Iran
 repeatedly warned, deeply associated with and
 infiltrated by, extremists.

Over time, the problem grew so large with
 ISIL's rise, it became impossible to hide a
 monster the US and its allies had created.
 And so, Washington launched yet another
chapter in its never-ending post-9/11 "war
 on terror".

Notwithstanding Washington's professed
 determination to degrade and, ultimately,
 to destroy ISIL, Iran remains profoundly
skeptical of US intentions.

Even after dramatic gains by ISIL in Iraq
 and the formation of a US-led coalition of
 the guilty to fight it, this coalition has, on
average, carried out just nine airstrikes
per day in both Iraq and Syria.

In comparison, western reports indicate that,
in the same period, the Syrian air force alone
 has at times carried out up to 200 strikes in
 36 hours.

 Even as the largely inconsequential US-led
 airstrikes are carried out in Iraq and Syria,
 some regional players continue to provide
extensive logistical support to ISIL; along
Syria's borders with Jordan and the Israeli
regime, al Nusra Front keeps collaborating
with other extremist militias backed by the
foreign (including western) powers.

In light of these realities, Iranians - who've been
 indispensable in preventing the fall of Damascus,
 Baghdad, Aleppo, and Erbil - simply do not buy
 the argument that a repentant US is now waging
 a real war against ISIL, the Nusra Front, and
other extremist organisations in Iraq and Syria.

Rather, Iranians see the evidence as pointing
 to a complex (yet foolish) policy undertaken
 by Washington and its allies for the purpose
 of "containing" the Islamic Republic.

What, then, would be the justification - under
such circumstances and as Iranian allies are
 successfully pushing back extremists in Iraq
 and Syria, for the Islamic Republic to co-
operate with the US in Iraq?

No matter how much some may try to
 tempt it, Iran will not play Faust to
America's Mephistopheles.


__________________________



Maduro Denounces Media Campaign
                attacking Venezuela's economy.               
 
 The president of Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro,
 denounces today the international media lies
which try to show Venezuela as an economic
 failure. The president says that his country
 has massive potential for growth.

In declarations to the press, after concluding
 talks with China's president Xi Jinping in the
Great Hall of the People, Maduro states that
the Revolutionary path his country is on, is
 the only possible model to reach that growth.

Regarding the supposed economic failure,
 he recalls that Venezuela is blessed with
the biggest reserves of oil in the world and
 the fourth position regarding gas, and 'has
 the capacity to guarantee the functioning
 of the economy and society'.

The head of state adds that Venezuela plans
 an economic change which will continue the
 precepts of the Bolivarian Revolution, and
'not with the neoliberal model that is now
destroying Europe and once destroyed all
Latin America'.

On the decline of oil prices, Maduro says
that Venezuela will keep on defending a
 just price for crude oil.

Maduro, who flew into Beijing after a stop-
over in Moscow, is beginning a tour of the
 member countries of Opec. He says his
long trip is tackling economic, financial,
technological, educational and energy,
 issues.

Venezuelan sources say he has already
signed, on Wednesday, deals with China
to strengthen the industrial and tele-
communications sector of his country.

For his part, the spokesperson of the
 Chinese chancellery, Hong Lei, says
 financial cooperation with Venezuela
is advancing without difficulties, and
China understands that the decline of
 oil prices has had an impact in the
 economy of this nation.

The Venezuelan president is assisting
president Xi today in opening the first
ever ministerial meeting of the China-
Community of Latin American and
Caribbean States (Celac) Forum.


____________________________



Tony Blair could face war crime charges: MPs

British government ministers say former Prime
 Minister Tony Blair could face war crime charges
when an Iraq war inquiry publishes its findings.

The ministers told the parliament’s House of Lords
on Tuesday that, when the so-called Chilcot report
 into the Iraq war in 2003 is published, Blair could
 face war crime charges.

The ministers also criticized the 4-year delay in
 the release of the report. Lord Dykes describes
 the long wait as “an utter and total disgrace.”

Lord Hurd also condemned the long delay, saying
 many Britons are waiting anxiously for the report.

“This has dragged on beyond questions of mere
 negligence and forgivable delay, it is becoming
a scandal,” said Hurd, adding, “This isn't some-
thing which is of trivial importance, it is some-
thing which a large number of people in this
country look anxiously to, for truth.”

Government minister William Wallace said if
the report isn't published by February's end
--- it will be delayed until after the general
 elections in May, which, the latest opinion
polls suggest, the Tories will win, on their
promise to hold a referendum on the EU.

The judge-led inquiry into how Blair led Britain
 into the war in Iraq was ordered by former PM
Gordon Brown in 2009 and was expected to
publish its findings within 18 months.

Publication of the results is being held up by
rows over criticisms of leading figures in the
Blair government. In addition, the report is
 also being delayed due to "negotiations"
between the US and UK about what can be
 revealed from correspondence between
Blair & ex US President George W. Bush.

The report is expected to be highly critical
 of Blair, who is accused of misleading the
 British public about the reasons for joining
 the 2003 US-led war on Iraq.

The US and Britain invaded Iraq in violation
 of international law in 2003 on the pretext
of finding weapons of mass destruction
 (WMD) allegedly stockpiled by former Iraqi
dictator Saddam Hussein. But no WMDs
 were ever discovered in Iraq.


__________________________________


'UK military strategy in Afghanistan
 completely bonkers’

A former British minister says the UK made
terrible mistakes during its military campaign
 in a province in Afghanistan, describing the
British strategy in the war as “completely
 bonkers” at times.

Kim Howells, who was a Foreign Office minister
with responsibility for Afghanistan at the time
of the UK campaign in the Asian country, made
 the remarks on Tuesday during a session of the
 defense committee, which is conducting an
investigation into Whitehall’s failed decision-
making during the Afghanistan campaign.

Howells said the decision to deploy troops to
fight in the southern Afghan province of Helmand
in 2006 was made on “badly flawed” intelligence.

According to Howells, he was given such poor-
quality information before the deployment of
 British soldiers to the province that, on one trip,
he was forced to ask for transport there on an
 Afghan helicopter, to see things for himself.

British politicians had reportedly been far too
reluctant to query any advice by the military,
 and the decision to deploy forces to Helmand
 was made at the highest levels of government
 with little or no consultation.

The US, UK, and their allies invaded Afghanistan
 on October 7, 2001, as part of their so-called war
 on terror. Although the offensive removed the
 Taliban from power, insecurity continues to rise
 across the country.

In October, Britain handed over Camp Bastion
 in Helmand to Afghan forces, ending the UK’s
 campaign in the region. But some US-led
 12,500 troops are to remain in 2015, for
what they call "training & support" for
the Afghan's army and police.

Over 450 British servicemen have been
 killed during the 13-year military campaign.


__________________________



Turkey, US, to sign deal to train Syrian rebels

Turkey and the United States are expected to sign
 a deal this month to train & equip Syrian opposition
 fighters, a foreign ministry official says.

The training and equipping program is expected
 to begin in March simultaneously in Jordan and
 Saudi Arabia, according to the official.

"A memorandum of understanding is expected
 to be signed this month," the official notes.

The program aims to train a total of 15,000
Syrian opposition fighters over three years,
the official says, adding that 5,000 of them
 will be trained at a military base in the
central Turkish city of Kirsehir.

A committee of Turkish and US officials will
 decide on which Syrian opposition fighters
to be trained, says the official.

The IS militants have seized large swathes
of territory in Syria. Ankara and Washington
 have been in negotiation on how to respond
 to the crisis in Syria.

Turkey is reluctant to take robust measures and
 declined to be a fully-fledged part of the anti-IS
 coalition unless Washington agrees to adopt an
 "integrated strategy" that includes the removal
of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad from power.

Meanwhile, Washington is pressing Ankara for
 the use of Incirlik airbase in Adana province in
 southern Turkey for the operational needs of
 "coalition" members. The US government also
 says the priority is not Assad,  but the militant
 threat from the IS.

Turkey, once Assad ally, is now the fiercest
opponent of the Assad regime, and has been
 aiding those trying to topple him since 2011.



________________________________



Iran marks 40-km red zone
 inside Iraq to stop IS: commander

Iran has marked a 40-km red zone into the Iraqi
border to thwart any infiltration attempt into its
 soil by the Islamic State (IS) group, an Iranian
 army commander said on Tuesday.

The Iranian army has warned IS militants against
 any movement towards the Iranian border since
 the "terrorist" group entered Iraq, Brigadier General
 Ahmad-Reza Pourdastan, commander of the Iranian
 army's ground forces, Press TV quotes him saying.

"When IS Takfiri terrorists penetrated western Iraq
 and were close to the Iranian borders, the ground
 forces were fully ready to annihilate them," the
 commander says.

"We marked a red line of 40 kilometers into Iraqi
soil and warned that they will face Iran's harsh
 response if they cross the line," he says.

Pourdastan says the Iranian army is fully familiar
with the tactics used by the terrorists & closely
 monitors their movements inside Iraq.

Local media report this week that Iran's border
police arrested three people with explosives as
 they tried to cross Iran's northwestern border
to join IS fights in Iraq.


____________________________



US warplanes strike oil pipeline in Syria: Pentagon

The US military says US and 'coalition' warplanes
 have struck a crude oil pipeline and collection
 depots in Syria held by the ISIL terrorist group.

A statement issued by the US military says the
 coalition jets conducted 14 airstrikes near the
 eastern city of Deir ez-Zor on Sunday morning,
 including six raids on five crude oil collection
points, a pipeline, armored vehicles and a
shipping container.

Since late September, the US and some of its
 Arab allies have been carrying out "airstrikes
 against ISIL" in Syria, with no authorization
 from Damascus and no UN mandate.

US warplanes have been conducting strikes
 against ISIL in Iraq since early August. Some
 other Western states have also participated
in some of the strikes in Iraq.

The US-led coalition has done little to stop
 ISIL's gains in parts of Syria and west Iraq.

Some analysts criticize the aerial military
campaign in Syria, saying the strikes are
meant to destroy Syria's infrastructure.

Alan Sabrosky, a US Marine Corps veteran,
says the US’ airstrikes in Syria often target
 militants with “no military value” and are
actually aimed at Syria’s infrastructure.

Sabrosky, a US Army War College graduate,
 says that Washington intends to inflict “such
damage to the economic and industrial
infrastructure within Syria, that any Syrian
 government after the fighting will be so
 weakened, that it will be vulnerable to
further attacks.”

The ISIL terrorists, who were initially trained
 by the CIA in Jordan, in 2012, to destabilize
 the Syrian government, control large parts
of Syria's northern territory. ISIL sent its
 fighters into Iraq in June, quickly seizing
 several parts of Iraq.


_____________________________



Ukraine continues to equip army
 despite ongoing peace talks

The Ukrainian president says Kiev aims to further
 equip its army in a bid to clinch a decisive victory
 against anti-US coup forces, despite the ongoing
 peace talks in Berlin.

"I am convinced that 2015 will be the year of our
 victory. To achieve it, we need a strong, patriotic
and well-equipped army," says Petro Poroshenko
 after he delivered armored personnel carriers,
howitzers and fighter jets to the Ukrainian army
 in the western city of Zhytomyr, on Monday.

The provocative arms delivery to the Ukrainian
 military comes despite peace talks among the
 representatives of Kiev, Russia, France and
 Germany, which started in Berlin on Monday.

The Berlin talks come ahead of a crucial meeting
 of Ukrainian, Russian, German and French heads
 of state, on January 15 in the Kazakh capital city
 of Astana. The meeting aims at finding a solution
 to the deadly conflict in eastern Ukraine, which
 has claimed the lives of 4,700 people so far.


___________________________________



Hamas opposed to Abbas’ resubmission of UN bid

Palestinian resistance movement Hamas has
 criticized Mahmoud Abbas’ plan to resubmit a
bid to the UN Security Council on ending the
 Israeli occupation of their land.

A spokesperson for Hamas says the plan
 to re-submit a resolution on ending Israel's
occupation, would be “political foolishness.”

Sami Abu Zuhri says Hamas is totally opposed
 to any attempt by the Palestinian Authority to
 go back to the UNSC.

He describes such a potential move as a
“dangerous game”, playing with the fate
of the Palestinian nation.

The Palestinian Authority announced on
Friday that it had decided to resubmit a
draft resolution to the UNSC setting a
 deadline for reaching a peace deal
 with Israel on ending the occupation.

Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian
 national unity government, which includes
 Hamas, says that he has already discussed
the issue with allies & specifically Jordan -
the Security Council’s only Arab member.

Earlier on December 30th, the UNSC rejected
 a draft resolution, which called for recognition
 of an independent Palestinian state and the
 ending of the Israeli occupation.


________________________________



          Release of Cuban Heroes Welcomed in New York               
 
 Groups of solidarity with Cuba, and social
 organizations in New York, welcomed the
 release of the five Cuban counter-terrorist
 fighters held in US prisons for 16 years,
on false charges, at a cultural evening.

The event, held at the head office of the union
 1199 SEIU, of the US health sector, concluded
in Manhattan, where the rain and freezing cold
prevented dozens of people from attending.

Posters saying 'Free the Cuban Five' recalled the
struggle to gain the return to Cuba, of Gerardo
Hernandez, Ramon Labañino, Antonio Guerrero,
Rene Gonzalez and Fernando Gonzalez, who were
 arrested in 1998, simply for monitoring violent
 groups based in Miami, which were organizing
 and executing criminal acts against the
Caribbean island.

"Thank you for your solidarity, your support and
your everyday struggle for the release of our
five heroes", said the Cuban Ambassador to
 the United Nations, Rodolfo Reyes.

The diplomat highlighted the commitment by
 many social activists to the cause of these
counter-terrorist fighters, whose gaoling and
unfair sentences, were rejected by the world.


According to the ambassador, another important
 objective for his country, is to achieve the lifting
 of the economic, trade and financial blockade
 imposed by the US, over 50 years ago.

Representatives of the New Yorker movement
 of solidarity with Cuba reiterated their promise
 to champion the end of the unilateral measure,
 with speeches accompanied by the slogan:
 "Cuba si, bloqueo no"
(Cuba: Yes, Blockade: No).

The cultural evening included emotional moments
 and tears, as a video showed the arrival in Havana
 of Hernandez, Labañino & Guerrero, who returned
 to their country on December 17th, the same day
 that the US and Cuban Presidents, Barack Obama
 and Raul Castro, respectively, announced steps
 to normalize their bilateral relations.

Rene Gonzalez and Fernando Gonzalez had returned
 to the Caribbean island in May, 2013 and February,
 2014, respectively, on fully serving their sentences.


________________________________



             Syria Denounces Saudi Support for Terrorism               
 
 Syrian Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs, Faisal
 Mekdad, today accuses Saudi Arabia of being
 one of the main countries responsible for the
 massacres and war unleashed against Syria.

The Saudi killing machine keeps shedding 
Syrian blood -- without mercy, or moral or
religious scruples, denounced the Minister,
 in an article published in the daily, Al Binaa.

Al Mekdad says the government of that Muslim
nation has made a pact with Israel, the main
 enemy of the Arabs.

According to the Deputy Minister, the main
responsibility for all the crimes committed
against the Syrian people falls squarely on
 the shoulders of the Saudi authorities.

He also condemns the support of Turkey,
the US, France and the UK, for extremist
groups like the Muslim Brotherhood,
 al Qaeda and the Islamic State.

"History will not forgive the Saudi royal family
 for financing murderers in Syria", he warns.

Over 200,000 people have died since the
conflict began in Syria, in March 2011,
and millions forced to leave their homes.


_____________________________



Zionist Settlers in West Bank
Upped to 15,000 in 2014

More than 15,000 Zionists moved to Jewish-only
 settlements located in the occupied West Bank
over the course of 2014, a Zionist official boasts.

"Interior Ministry figures, showing that Judea-
Samaria [the Jewish name for the West Bank]
 now has nearly 400,000 Israelis, shows [that]
settlement in Judea-Samaria is an irreversible
fact," former Yesha Council head, Dani Dayan,
says this weekend.

The Yesha Council is an umbrella organization
for the municipal councils of all the West Bank
Jewish settlements.

According to Dayan, the number of Jewish
settlers in the West Bank has grown by
15,000, since 2013.

Some Zionists reportedly prefer living in
West Bank settlements over Zionist cities,
 due to the lower cost of housing and the
many privileges granted by the Zionist
pro-settlement government.

Many immigrants to the self-proclaimed
 'Jewish state' are also said to prefer
a settlement life.

The figures given by Dayan did not include
 those Zionists living on settlements in East
 Jerusalem, whose numbers are estimated
 at more than 200,000.


______________________________



‘Premier of war’: Czech president says Yatsenyuk
not seeking peaceful solution for E. Ukraine

Czech President Milos Zeman slams Ukrainian PM
Arseny Yatsenyuk, calling him “a prime minister of
 war”, because he's unwilling to peacefully resolve
 the civil conflict in the country.

"From the statements by PM Yatsenyuk, I think that
 he is a ‘prime minister of war’, because he doesn't
 want a peaceful solution to the crisis [in Ukraine]
recommended by the European Commission,”
Zeman tells Pravo, a Czech daily newspaper.

Yatsenyuk wants to solve the Ukrainian conflict
 “by the use of force," adds the Czech leader.

According to Zeman, the current policy of the
Kiev authorities has two “faces.” The first is
 the “face” of the country’s president, Petro
Poroshenko, who “may be a man of peace.”

The second “face” is that of PM Yatsenyuk,
who has an uncompromising position on
 the self-defense forces in Eastern Ukraine.

Zeman says he doesn’t believe that the
February coup, in which President Viktor
 Yanukovich was deposed from power,
was a democratic revolution at all.

"Maidan was not a democratic revolution,
 and I believe that Ukraine is in a state of
civil war,” he says, in response to what
 he describes as "poorly informed people"
 who equate Maidan with Czechoslovakia’s
 Velvet Revolution in 1989.

In November 2013, initially peaceful protests
which started as a reaction to then-President
 Viktor Yanukovich’s refusal to sign the EU
 association deal became violent in early 2014.

Kiev’s central Independence Square - Maidan
 Nezalezhnosty - was turned into a battlefield
 as Ukrainian protesters clashed with police
 throughout January and February.

The unrest resulted in a coup that toppled
 Yanukovich and his government in February.

The Republic of Crimea’s withdrawal from
Ukraine was followed by a conflict in the
country’s southeast.

According to UN figures, at least 4,317 people
 have been killed and 9,921 wounded in conflict
 in eastern Ukraine since April when the Kiev
 authorities launched a so-called anti-terrorist
operation in the region.


_____________________________



       Israeli Navy Attacks Fishing Boats in Gaza Strip

  
         
   A fisherman from the Gaza Strip was badly
wounded Saturday when Israeli navy ships
fired at civilian boats on the South coast of
the Palestinian Strip -- blocked by Tel Aviv
for over eight years.

In another incident, Israeli armored troops
entered Gaza and destroyed crops, report
 Hamas sources.

The Gazan fishing boats were attacked with
 heavy machine guns & artillery, say the same
sources, & they identify the victim as Jamal
 Numan, whose ship was destroyed.

In the temporary ceasefire agreements the
Israeli government agreed to a limit of 20
nautical miles, but Tel Aviv's Navy attacked
 the Gazan fishermen on Saturday, by using
an imaginary line drawn two miles away
 from the mainland.

An Israeli military spokesperson says that
the attack happened because his country's
 Coast Guard ships fired, as the fishermen
were approaching the Egyptian coast
in "a smuggling operation".

Tensions rose in Gaza in recent weeks after
Hamas reported incursions of armored and
 Israeli troops into the Gazan territory and
 Tel Aviv media reported rocket fire against
the territory of historic Palestine, now
 occupied by the State of Israel.


______________________________



                Over 5,000 Murders in Guatemala in 2014               
 
 Although Latin American countries are now
moving towards building fairer societies, their
violent past under US control still casts a pall.

 In Guatemala, a state controlled by terror on
its own population for decades, a total of 5,875
homicides were recorded from January 1st to
 December 28, 2014 --- an average of 16 crimes
daily, according to data from the National
 Institute of Forensic Sciences (Inacif).

June, July, August & October were the most
 violent months, in which there were over
500 autopsies for violent crime.

According to Inacif, the number of murders
 last year, was 6,072.

Public transportation was the most affected,
 with 101 passengers, 97 drivers & 31 driver
assistants killed, says the Public Transport
 Ombudsman's office of the Human Rights
Ombudsman.


_____________________________



Piecemeal World War III
 may have already begun: Pope

Pope Francis warns us that the summation of
 conflicts underway in the world, may amount
 to a "piecemeal" World War III.

"Even today, after the second failure of another
world war, perhaps one can speak of a 3rd war,
one fought piecemeal, with crimes, massacres,
and destruction," he says, during a mass at the
 Redipuglia memorial, a military cemetery in
 northern Italy, on Saturday.

"Finding myself here, in this place, near this
cemetery, I am able to say only one thing:
War is madness," says the Pope, who adds,
 "War ruins everything, even bonds between
 brothers. War is irrational; its only plan, is
to bring destruction: it seeks to grow by
 destroying."

He condemns the "plotters of terrorism"
for sowing death and destruction.

Francis is and has been, urging an end
 to conflicts in the Middle East, Ukraine
 and elsewhere.


______________________________



US, West Europe largest
arms producers in 2013: Report

A recent study by the Stockholm International
Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), shows that
the US and Western European countries were
 the biggest producers of weapons & military
 hardware in 2013.

According to data released by SIPRI at a press
 conference in the Belgian capital, Brussels, the
 weapon manufacturing industry was worth 325
 billion euros last year, a figure 45% higher than
 it was a decade ago.

The study suggests that the US & UK were the
biggest suppliers of arms in 2013, with France
& Italy also playing a major role in the industry.

“Yes, it is very clear that some of the transactions,
 especially on the international sales level, make it
 very difficult to see where the money -- how the
 money -- is being employed. But again, companies
 report their sales and then we estimate the real
value of the arms sales in this revenue, and we
 publish it,” SIPRI arms and trade expert, Aude
 Fleurant, states in an interview.

The independent international institute also
 says there is
corruption and a serious lack
of transparency in the global arms industry.

Previous reports say that corruption in the
 industry is worth 16 billion euros per year,
as US and UK weapon manufacturers are
 supplying arms to countries with records
 of corruption at governmental level.

Analysts & anti-war campaigners say the US,
 the UK and France, are also the most morally
 bankrupt nations --- as far as arms trading is
 concerned, as they are willing to provide any-
one with military hardware, for the right price.

The US and UK have been slammed for
supplying arms to Israel's regime, which
 repeatedly carries out deadly attacks on
 Palestinians, and to a number of African
countries, with extremely poor human
rights records.


____________________________



IS Destroys Mosque in Iraq and
Threatens to Demolish Another 10
               
 The fundamentalist Islamic State (IS) has
destroyed a historic mosque in the city of
Mosul, and threatens to destroy another
ten in the next few days, according to a
report released today.

According to a report from IS, they blew up a
 temple in Farouk neighborhood, dating from
1838, claiming that it was built on a cemetery.

The extremists say they also, in the last few
hours, evacuated 10 other shrines in Mosul
 & are about to destroy them with explosives.

Previously, IS destroyed the Catholic Church
 of the Virgin Mary, the Church of San Jorge,
and other sacred sites in the city, which is
 the second largest in Iraq, and capital of
the northwestern state of Nineveh, held
 by the extremists since June 2014.

On 27 December, after IS threats to destroy
holy sites in the cities controlled by them, the
 Iranian Ayatollah Mohammad Emami Kashani
warned that "the slightest insult against Iraqi
 holy places, will receive a strong response".


___________________________



  Armenia Joins Euro-Asian Economic Union
               
 Armenia, on Friday, became the fourth fully-
fledged member of the Euro-Asian Economic
Union (EEU), the new integration mechanism
 on post-Soviet territories.

Armenia joins the group of countries in a vast
market of goods and services, which includes
Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan, and whose
 foundation treaty came into force on January 1.

Armenia signed the agreement in October, at
 a working session of the Supreme Council of
the EEU in Minsk. Parliaments of the founding
 states ratified the framework document in the
 last few months of 2014.

For over a year, Armenian representatives have
held 8 rounds of negotiations and consultations
 on the mechanism & membership requirements,
 since Sept 3rd, 2013, when Erevan announced
 its intention to join.

 The organisation will strengthen regional
 integration on the basis of equality and
 mutual benefits, say experts.

For Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan,
Erevan's decision is based on the new
format of development within the EEU,
which gives predictable relationships
 and maximum benefits, for all of the
 member countries.

He considers that the Union has huge
 potential to strengthen its position on
 the world's economic map.


_______________________________



De-mining On Ecuador-Peru Border
 Exceeds Targets Set For 2014 
              
Mine-clearing operations on the Ecuador-Peru
 border, exceeded the targets set for 2014, as
an area of 80, 282 square meters was freed
of anti-personnel mines, media report today.

According to Andes agency, citing sources
 in the Defense Ministry, the target set in the
 bi-nationalal program was 58,000 sq meters.

In the last 7 years, 5, 279 mines were cleared
 in an area of 253, 573 square meters, while
the goal of both governments until 2017,
was to destroy 15, 595 mines.

The explosives were planted at the common
border during clashes over border disputes
between Ecuador and Peru, in the past.

Quito & Lima signed a peace treaty on Oct 26,
 1998, and, after President Correa was elected
 in January 2007, the two countries established
the binational cabinets, in which joint policies
 to boost development in the border areas, are
 formulated.

Ecuador ratified the Ottawa Treaty in April 1999,
 and that same year created the Demining Centre,
 which established, & is developing, the National
Mine Action Program.


__________________________



Russia urges Middle East settlement
 Quartet meeting as soon as possible

Russia regrets that the resolution on Palestine
 was not approved by the UN Security Council,
 due to the position of the US and a few others
 and urges as soon as possible a meeting of
the "Quartet" of international mediators to
discuss the Middle East settlement situation,
 Russia's Foreign Ministry states.

“On December 30, the UN Security Council held
a vote on the draft resolution on the Middle East
 settlement submitted by Jordan’s delegation at
 the Palestinian's request,” the ministry says.

“The resolution is based on the generally
recognized international legal framework
for a Middle East settlement, including the
relevant UN Security Council resolutions,
 and the Arab Peace Initiative.

 “It provides for a lasting and comprehensive
 solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict,
including the creation of a geographically
contiguous and viable Palestinian state
 living side by side in peace and security
with Israel.”

“The Russian Federation, along with the
 majority of other delegations voted in
favour of this resolution,” Russia's
 Foreign Ministry says.

“However, due to the position taken by
 the United States and a number of other
delegations, the document failed to
 receive the required nine votes “for.”

“The fact that the resolution wasn't approved
 cannot but cause regret. Especially disturbing
is the fact that it happened against the back-
ground of a serious degradation of the Middle
 East peace process, and an aggravation of
contradictions between the sides.”

“Today it is more than ever before necessary
 to prevent the Israelis and Palestinians from
 aggravating the situation, and to make them
 take reciprocal steps aimed at the creation
 of conditions favourable for the peace
 process re-launch.

“Russia continues to support the intensification
 of collective efforts in the Middle East settlement
 and in this connection urges the calling as soon
 as possible, of a ministers meeting of the ‘Quartet’
 of international mediators to discuss the situation
 & work out optimal solutions to this long-running
 conflict,” the ministry states.


___________________________________



  Israeli Troops Violate Lebanon's Border
               
Israeli forces have again violated the borders
 between the occupied Palestinian territories
 and Lebanon, in a new flagrant violation of
the country's sovereignty, states NNA news.

The attack violates UN Security Council
 resolution 1701, which put an end to the
Israel war against Lebanon in 2006.

According to NNA, Israeli soldiers crossed
 the Blue Line, which is a border demarcation
 between Israel and Lebanon determined by
 the UN in 2000, after Tel Aviv regime with-
drew its troops from a twentytwo year long
occupation of this Arab State's territory.

The on-line Daily Star says 15+ Israeli troops
 & a Merkava tank crossed the Blue Line into
Al Wazan village, southern region, on Tuesday,
driving 250 mtrs to reach the Lebanese village.

Israeli soldiers took battle positions in front of
 the Lebanese border side while a soldier shot
 videos with a camera, adds the Daily Star.

Sources say this border violation also
 involved extensive flights by Israeli jets.

Lebanon's Government, Hezbolla Party,
and the UN Interim Force, all condemn
 these illegal Israeli incursions.


_____________________________



Kiev 'Nationalists' Attack Russian Journalists

Ukrainian ultra-nationalists marching in down-
town Kiev on the birthday of Ukrainian fascist
 leader, Stepan Bandera, attacked a reporter
and cameraman from LifeNews on Thursday,
 Russian TV reports.

Less than 2% of reported cases of violence
 against journalists in Ukraine reach a court.

“LifeNews TV channel correspondent Zhanna
 Karpenko and her cameraman were attacked
 during a torchlight procession in Kiev.

 “Unknown assailants pushed the journalist,
which caused her to fall and hit her head.
A telephone was also stolen from her.
Besides, hooligans took a TV camera
from the cameraman and broke it,” the
TV channel states.

LifeNews says this occurred immediately
after Karpenko went on air. Before that, the
 marchers did not display any interest in her,
 and the demonstration was without incident.

The journalists say the attack happened in
front of Kiev police officers. “But the officers
 didn't even try to stop the violence used on
the Russian journalists,” the TV channel says.

There has been no comment from the police.

Early on Thursday, 1,000+ supporters of
extreme-right organizations organized a
 torchlit procession along Kiev's streets.

 The march ended at Independence Square
(Maidan - the symbol of Ukrainian protests),
where the extremists chanted radical and
often anti-Russian slogans. Similar actions,
 involving fewer people, were held today
 in Dnepropetrovsk and Lvov.

There are different attitudes toward Bandera
in modern Ukraine. Stepan Bandera was an
 ultra-nationalist leader in Western Ukraine
in the 20th century, who collaborated with
the Nazis during World War II.

In 2010, President Yushchenko awarded
 Bandera the title of Hero of Ukraine, but in
the same year, the Donetsk Administrative
Court canceled the ruling, saying that it
was illegal.

Yushchenko filed an appeal, but the Donetsk
 appeals court did not grant it. Over the past
 year, the Supreme Administrative Court of
Ukraine has left the Donetsk courts’ ruling
 unaltered.

But currently, after the US-directed violent
overthrow of the elected President, some
fascist sympathisers are key ministers
--- including the Minister for the Interior
and the current Prime Minister.


_______________________



Serbia to help ease Ukraine conflict: FM

Serbia says it will use its chairmanship of the
 Organization for Security & Cooperation in Europe
 (OSCE) to help de-escalate the crisis in Ukraine.

Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic makes the
 announcement today, expressing his country’s
 readiness to be a fair mediator in the crisis in
eastern Ukraine.

“The response of the OSCE in such difficult
 circumstances shows that, when endowed
with the necessary political will, it can
effectively contribute to addressing the
challenges of such crises,” Dacic says.

Serbia has been torn between Kiev and
 Moscow since the coup began in Ukraine.

The OSCE, Russia & Ukraine are members
 of a contact group that negotiated with
 pro-Russia forces in Belarus last month.

Belgrade will hand over the OSCE chair
to Germany, on January 1st, in 2016.

The West accuses Russia of instigating
 Ukraine's crisis, a claim Moscow denies.


___________________________



'US an enemy': Palestinian official

Palestine is starting an international campaign
 showing the US as “an enemy,” which pushes
 Israeli extremists to carry out their aggression
 and supports Israel in everything it does, Fatah
 central committee member, Abbas Zaki, says.

Zaki, formerly PLO representative in Lebanon,
 says that the latest developments in the UNSC
 are not a failure for Palestinian diplomacy.

“It’s just the persistent unwillingness of the US
 administration to give the Palestinian people
 their lawful right of self-determination. It’s a
very dangerous precedent,” he says.

“The US administration realizes very well that
 138 states support Palestine having UN observer
 status. The US knows there are many decisions
 and resolutions of international organizations
 condemning Israeli crimes and injustice to the
 Palestinian people,” Zaki says.

He adds: “Regardless of all that, the current
 US administration still uses its right to veto.
 In this way, the US wants to tell Palestine
not to address the UN, either today, or in
the future.’

Zaki describes the US administration’s stance
 as “unprincipled & unacceptable,” with the US
 “always making decisions in favor of Israel.”

Comparing the US administration to a “cobra’s
 head,” Zaki vows retaliation if America does
not change its current stance.

“We can’t tolerate anymore the crimes committed
 against us during the whole ‘peace process’ led
 by the US. Israel has gone too far, destroying our
 sacred places, taking our land, killing our citizens.
 Israel commits crimes and the US can’t stop this
 in any way,” Zaki says.

However, it’s time for the Palestinian people to be
 more united, he concludes, as the “civilized world
 stands on our side, in particular – France, China,
 Luxembourg and Russia,” and Palestinians are
 preparing an international campaign of support.

“The whole world should understand that the US
is an enemy, pushing Israeli extremists to carry
on with their actions, depriving us of our rights,
and supporting Israel in everything,” Zaki says.


________________________________



Israeli forces abduct 1,266 children in 2014

A new report says Israel abducted 1,266 children
 in the occupied Palestinian territories, in 2014.

According to the Palestine Liberation Organization,
 1,266 Palestinian children under 15 years old were
 abducted by Israeli forces throughout 2014.

“The targeting of children by Israel, especially in
occupied Jerusalem, is rising significantly,” says
 Abdel-Nasser Farawna, the head of the PLO's
 authority for prisoners' affairs.

“The children testified that they'd been subjected
 to various forms of torture and deprived of their
basic rights,” adds the Palestinian official.

Farawna states that 200 of these children are
still in Israeli jails today, and he urges the world
 community to pressure the occupying regime
to release the imprisoned children and protect
 them from torture.

The Israeli regime is under fire for its violent
treatment of children --- in blatant violation
 of international laws. Tel Aviv frequently
arrests Palestinian children without giving
any reason for their detention.

According to reports, hundreds of Palestinian
 prisoners are held in Israeli prisons for a long
time without trial, while they aren't provided
with even their basic needs, including visits
by family members.

Palestinian human rights groups say the number
 of Palestinians in Israeli administrative detention
 has reached the highest level since 2008.

Administrative detention is an imprisonment
 without trial or charge, that "allows" Israel to
incarcerate Palestinians for up to six months.

 The detention order can then be renewed
 for indefinite periods of time, and often is.


____________________________



Chile Assumes Presidency of UN Security Council 
              

Chile assumes today, Presidency Pro Tempore
 of the United Nations Security Council, with a
commitment to make specific contributions,

 highlights an official source.

In a press release, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
 of Chile points out that, as President this month,
the southern nation hopes to foster effective
 multilateralism.

It recalls that the Security Council, whose primary
responsibility is to maintain international peace
 and security, was chaired by Chile in 1952, 1953,
 1961, 1962, 1996, 1997 and 2004.

The Foreign Ministry announces that the will of
 Chilean representatives at the UN is to continue
 making contributions to prevent and resolve all
crises affecting international peace & security
 in different regions of the world.

It points out that Chile will be guided by UN
 principles:- the sovereign equality of states,
non-intervention, respect for all international
treaties, the promotion of human rights and
 democracy, and the peaceful settlement of
 all disputes.

It adds that, during Chile's presidency, 'our
country will promote an agenda that would
 strengthen the action of the United Nations
 in its three pillars: international peace and
 security, human rights and development'.


_______________________________



First Woman President of Brazil
to Take Over Second Term
               
The first female President of Brazil in 2010,
Dilma Rousseff, has started her 2nd term,
 promising to continue the socio-economic
 changes registered over the last 12 years.

Born in 1947 in the city of Belo Horizonte, in
Minas Gerais state, Rousseff now begins her
 2nd four-year period to lead the country, in
 a difficult economic situation, with a Gross
Domestic Product (GDP) close to zero.

However, the President says her government
will take drastic measures to resume the path
 of development and growth of GDP, but without
 affecting social gains achieved in recent years.

Her challenges until 2018 included reviving &
 increasing production, adjusting expenditures,
 deepening social policies and improving the
quality of education and health, as options to
 reduce inequality in Brazil.

Her re-election last October was supported by
 four years in office, a period in which new jobs
 were created, the minimum wage was raised,
 & millions of dwellings for low-income people
 were built.

Dilma Vana Rousseff studied Economics at the
 Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul. From
 an early age she was interested in politics and
 joined the fight against the military dictatorship
 in the country, which was backed by the USA
and ran Brazil from 1964 to 1985.

She was gaoled from 1970 to 1972, and in 1986
 was secretary of the Treasury of Porto Alegre,
 during the administration of Alceu Necklaces.

 In 2000, she joined the Workers Party (PT), and
 became the Minister of Mines and Energy and
the head of the Civil House from 2005 to 2010,
 with President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

In 2010, she ran for the presidency
 and won those elections, with the
 support of nearly 56 million votes.

Her new government is composed of
PT members and organizations of the
Brazilian Democratic Movement (PMDB),
--- the Social Democratic party (PSD),
the Progressive party (PP), Republican
Social Order (PROS), the Democratic
Labour party (PDT), the Republican
party (PRB) and the Communist Party
of Brazil (PCdoB).


___________________________



Palestinian statehood bid fails at UN
Security Council: US, Australia vote anti

The UN Security Council has failed to adopt
an Arab coalition bid calling for the creation
 of a Palestinian state and an end to Israel's
 occupation. The US and Australia voted
 against the move, with 5 abstentions.

The draft resolution gathered only 8 votes
 in favour and was automatically defeated.
The US however, still used its veto power
and voted against the resolution. The UK,
 along with Lithuania, Nigeria, Korea and
 Rwanda, abstained.

"This resolution sets the stage for more
 division, not for compromise," said US
 Ambassador Samantha Power, calling
 the draft a “staged confrontation.”

“The United kingdom supports much of
 the content of the draft resolution. It is
therefore with deep regret, that we
abstained from it,” said the UK's
 UN ambassador, Mark Lyall Grant.

“We are disappointed that the normal
 and necessary negotiation did not
 take place on this occasion.”

Russia’s UN envoy Vitaly Churkin,
 however, says that Moscow “cannot
 share the objections of those who
 believe the draft resolution was
undermining prospects for the
 negotiating process.”

“Unfortunately last year revealed how
this process has gone into a blind alley,
 with its monopolization by the US and
 their pullback from the Quartet [US, EU,
UN and Russia]. We believe this to be
a strategic mistake,” said Churkin.

“This draft reflects the just demands of
Arab states, including the Palestinian
 people, and is in accord with the
relevant UN resolutions, the ‘land for
 peace’ principle, the Arab peace
 initiative and the middle-Eastern
 peace roadmap, & is also in accord
with China’s consistent position.

 “We express deep regret over the failure
 of the draft resolution to be adopted,”
says Liu Jieyi, China’s permanent
representative to the UN.

An official bid for statehood was submitted
to the Council on Tuesday, by a Jordan-led
Arab coalition. The bid featured a revised
 draft resolution of a similar proposal
 submitted earlier this month. Delegates
 voted on it on Tuesday afternoon.

The resolution gave 12 months for a “just,
 lasting & comprehensive peaceful solution”
 to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which it
regards as the creation of a “sovereign &
 viable” Palestinian state based on 1967's
 borders, as well as the withdrawal of all
Israeli forces from occupied land by 2017.

Its text had already seen several amendments
 concerning E. Jerusalem as capital of a future
state of Palestine, Israeli settlement building,
and the Palestinian refugees’ right of return,
PLO Executive Committee member, Abu
 Yousef, tells Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper.

According to the new draft, Jerusalem
 was seen as the capital of both Israel
 and Palestine, but E. Jerusalem's role
 in a Palestinian state wasn't specified.

“International legitimacy is our ceiling
 on this issue, and we cannot drop
below this ceiling,” Yousef says.

“I think there is very little doubt that
 any resolution in the Security Council
 that actually creates a Palestinian state
or calls for real statehood will be vetoed,”
 US activist & journalist Phyllis Bennis says.

 “I think that there is a big question whether
the drafts that are now circulating actually
 do that. French amendments in particular
 significantly weaken the idea that this is
 something that would actually create a
 Palestinian state.”

“There is no consequence named.
The resolution is not taken under either
Chapter 6 or Chapter 7, which are the
coercive chapters of the UN charter.”

 These chapters imply a use of military
 force and putting pressure against the
 state, such as sanctions.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas
 said on Tuesday that his administration
 would "no longer deal" with Israel's
regime, if the resolution failed.

 "If the Arab-Palestinian initiative submitted
 to the Security Council to put an end to
 occupation doesn't pass, we will be forced
 to take the necessary political and legal
decisions," Algeria's APS news agency
 quotes Abbas as saying.


______________________________



Palestinian Unity Government
                   Begins Meeting in Gaza               
 
 The Palestinian Unity Government has
 started a meeting on reconstruction
to help Gaza, which was devastated
by Israeli military aggression in 2014.

The cabinet's official spokesperson says
 the ministers' visit is aimed at alleviating
 the suffering of Gaza's people, where
 110,000 people are homeless after Israel's
 indiscriminate bombing in July and August.

 According to figures by UN agencies in Gaza,
over 2,100 civilians died, mostly women and
children, and about 11000 were injured by
Tel Aviv's air strikes and artillery fire.

Last October, a world conference of donors
 for Gaza held in Cairo, promised  $5.4 billion,
but the funds have not been distributed as
 agreed. Israeli has said that it will stop all
 aid from reaching Gaza, anyway.

The ministerial meeting is being held in
 the absence of PM Rami Hamdallah.


____________________________



Islamic State, Al Nusra, Clash
                   in Southern Syrian Province               
 
 Al Nusra Front, the arm of Al Qaeda in Syria,
 today announces a war against the Islamic
 State (IS) in the southern province of Daraa
 after accusing its members of being foreign
 mercenaries.

In a video circulated by social networks,
the spiritual leader of Al Nusra, Sami al
Aridi, calls on his group to fight IS.

"Fighting mercenaries is an Islamic
duty, says Aridi in the video.

Talks between both factions have failed.
The international community considers
them both to be terrorist organizations.

However, Al Nusra's leader in Qalamun,
Abu Malik Talli, refuses to join the action.

Al Nusra Front hit at Yarmouk Brigades
 in Daraa with about 2,000 members this
month, after that group swore loyalty to
the Islamic State and its self-proclaimed
Caliph, Abu Bakr al Baghdadi.

The IS and Al Nusra have been involved
in a war since late 2013, with thousands
of dead in both groups.


___________________________



Poroshenko pledges diplomatic
efforts for truce in eastern Ukraine

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko vows
 to seek a peaceful solution to the ongoing
conflict in the country's east, after renewed
 fighting between government forces & anti-
government troops killed 17 more on Monday.

Speaking at a press conference, Poroshenko
 says he'll meet Russian President Vladimir Putin,
 German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French
 President Francois Hollande on January 15th,
 in Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan, to discuss
 ways out of the crisis that has claimed over
4,700 lives since April.

"There is no military solution to this conflict,"
he says, adding that peace in eastern Ukraine
 should be established through negotiations,
 and that Kiev is ready to hold discussions on
 the issue with its western & eastern partners.

The pledge for diplomacy came after at least
3 government soldiers & 14 anti-government
troops were killed earlier in the day in battles
 near the airport of Donetsk city on Monday,
breaking days of relative calm.

Violence has eased significantly in eastern
 Ukraine since a truce was brokered on Sept.
 5th between Kiev and anti-government forces
 after talks between Russia, Ukraine and the
 Organization for Security and Cooperation.

Kiev will fully implement the ceasefire deal
 to achieve long- term stability and a durable
 truce in eastern regions, the president says.

At the press conference, Poroshenko also
signed into law a bill dropping the country's
 non-aligned status, paving the way for Kiev
to seek NATO membership.

Ukraine is unlikely to be accepted as a NATO
 member, until the confrontation in its eastern
 territories has stopped, experts say.

To enhance Ukraine's security and defense
 capabilities, Kiev is to launch a wide-ranging
 reform of its armed forces, to bring it closer
 to NATO standards, Poroshenko says.

Ukrainian troops have been fighting anti-
government fighters in eastern Donetsk
and Lugansk regions for over 8 months,
 in a conflict where over 4,700 people
have died and over 10,000 have been
 wounded.

_________________________


 Axis of Resistance Turns Tables
on US-ISIL Plots in Region, says ’Israel’

Hezbollah has contributed to deactivating a
 New Middle East plot and has shattered the
 Israeli direction of developments in the region,
 the party's Deputy Secretary General stresses.

The resistance has won great achievements
 in its open encounter with the Zionist-US
 and takfiri plots.

After Hezbollah liberated the Israeli-occupied
 Lebanese territories in 2000, Zionist-US plots
against the axis of resistance, continued to
 destabilize various areas in the Middle East.

Occupying Afghanistan & Iraq was the start
 of a US monstrous attack against the Middle
 East, before the Zionist-US plotters decided
to directly challenge their enemies, and the
 2006 war erupted.

Hezbollah, backed by its allies, defeated
the Zionist military power in 2006, which
 pushed the US administration to devise
new plans to overcome the resistance.

"Arab Spring" was the nice name given to
 the US scheme to destabilize the key Arab
 countries in preparation for striking the
axis of resistance --- & Syria was a target.

ISIL (the so-called Islamic State in Iraq and
 the Levant) and other terrorist groups were
 established & supported by the US regime
 and its European and Arab allies.

However, the Syrian army, backed by all its
 allies, has been challenging the conspiracy
 and fighting the terrorist groups, inflicting
 heavy losses upon them.

The Syrian army and its allies have secured
 several key towns, including the capital. It's
 now escalating its operations against the
terrorist groups in order to eradicate them
completely.

Iran, as a basic part of the axis of resistance,
has also had to face US military threats and
 political pressures - aimed at making Tehran
 accept a humiliating nuclear deal.

But Iran has faced all these challenges, and
forced the West to approve Tehran's right to
exploit nuclear energy for peaceful ends.

 Iran has also retained its military and political
 support to all resistance factions in the region,
benefiting from the huge capabilities of its army
- which displayed part of this power in the recent
 maneuvers, covering 2 million+ square klmtrs.
 
ISIL was also supported by  a number of Arab
 countries to control Iraq in order to subdue the
 political will of that country, yet the Iraqi army,
 backed by all its allies, showed steadfastness
 in facing this plot and liberated a large number
 of ISIL-held towns and cities, in preparation for
 regaining all territory from the terrorist group.

On all fronts, the axis of resistance has
 been able to kill off the US-ISIL schemes,
plus the Israeli wars and aggressions
 against its different countries. 

Israeli intelligence has reported that the
Zionist entity now has to encounter real
 danger within its "borders" --- its way of
acknowledging that Hezbollah possesses
 huge rocket power, with pinpoint missiles,
 and has gained a frightening amount of
 military experience after intervening in
Syria's war, which exposes the Zionists'
 north settlements to Hezbollah's threat
--- ie, of storming and controlling them. 

Israeli intelligence expects that the
Palestinian, Syrian and Iranian front
 may not be quiescent, as its enemies
 have been accumulating power that
 seriously threatens its existence.


 __________________________



Abbas: Palestine to present draft
resolution for UN bid Monday

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has
 informed US Secretary of State John Kerry
that the Palestinians are to present a draft
 resolution to the UN Security Council.

The draft resolution calls on the Security Council
to support the timetable for a gradual ending of
 the Israeli military occupation of the Palestinian
 territories within three years, until 2017.

The resolution also calls for a 1-year direct
 negotiation with Israel that ends up with a
 permanent agreement on establishing a
Palestinian state on the territories Israel
occupied in 1967, with east Jerusalem
as its capital.

According to the Palestinian state-run news
 agency Wafa, Abbas spoke with Kerry by
phone and officially informed him that the
draft resolution is being presented to the
Security Council on Monday.

Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat says
 he expects the Security Council to convene
either on Tuesday or Wednesday, to vote for
 the Arab-backed draft resolution.

Jordan, a non-permanent Security Council
member, will present the Palestinian draft
 resolution for voting.

 The Palestinians are concerned that the
 resolution may not get the consensus of
at least nine council members.

"President Abbas reiterated to Kerry that
 the Palestinian position of rejecting more
settlement building and expansion in the
 West Bank and Jerusalem is clear," said
 Wafa's report.

A well-informed official close to Abbas says
-- on condition of anonymity -- that Kerry put
 heavy pressure on Abbas over the phone to
 postpone the bid until after March elections
 in Israel.

The official says Kerry hinted there will
 be economic sanctions imposed on the
Palestinians and that the US will veto
the draft resolution, even if it gains the
  nine Security Council votes.


_______________________



Over 180 ISIL Takfiris killed
in Iraqi army operation

 
A successful anti-ISIL operation by Iraqi forces
has left over 180 Takfiri terrorists dead in a key
 area of Iraq’s central province of Salahuddin.

ISIL Takfiri militants suffered a huge blow on
Sunday as Iraqi forces, backed by volunteers,
launched a successful offensive in Yathrib,
south of Tikrit, Iraq's defense ministry says.

Huge amounts of ammunition and vehicles
belonging to terrorists were also destroyed
 during the operation, the ministry states.

Iraqi news reports that key ISIL figures in
Yathrib have begun to flee the city as they
 failed to resist the army’s huge offensive
in the area.

Iraqi armed forces have managed to retake
 some key areas in the Salahuddin province
over the past days.

Early on Sunday, Iraqi troops advanced
into Dhuluiyah, north of Baghdad, pushing
 back ISIL out of the city’s military airport.

The most notable operation came in November
 when Iraqi forces retook the strategic town of
 Baiji and its refinery from the terrorists. Iraq's
 army also managed to liberate key districts in
 the city of Samarra, in early December.


______________________________


Iran Warns Foreign Destroyers
 to Leave Drill Zone

Iran's Navy Commander announces that two
 transregional destroyers seen recently in two
areas of the war games were asked to leave
the drill zone, Mehr news agency reports.

Iran's Navy Commander, Rear Admiral
Habibollah Sayyari, states that, in the
last few days, 2 destroyers belonging
 to foreign states appeared in 2 areas
 of Iran's ongoing war games.

After a warning by Iranian forces, Rear
Admiral Sayyari says, the foreign vessels
were finally forced to leave the zone.

“We had already warned that no country
 or party is allowed to be present at the
drill region, for security issues,” Iran's
Navy commander stresses.

Stating that many countries noted the warning
 early in the war games, Admiral Sayari says the
 two destroyers appeared in two different areas
 of the Mohammad, Messenger of Allah (PBUH)
war games and moved out of the area after the
 warning by the Iranian forces.

The war games began on Thursday and are
 scheduled to continue until December 30th.


__________________________


Syrian Army Kills Scores of Terrorists across Country

The Syrian Army hit terrorist organizations hard
on Saturday, with units targeting and destroying
 more dens, vehicles and heavy weaponry, and
 leaving large numbers of terrorists dead.

Army units killed large numbers of terrorists
of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS)
 organization, among them non-Syrians, in
 Hweijet Sakr, al-Mrei’iyeh, al-Abd, and
Mohassan, in Deir Ezzor province.

Cannons and heavy weapons were
 destroyed.

Other units destroyed seven armored vehicles
 plus two vehicles equipped with machineguns
 and eliminated several ISIS terrorists including
 Ahmad Saleh Abdelmajid in al-Jafra, al-Mrei’iyeh,
 and Hweijet Sakr.

The army also destroyed five other vehicles,
 one loaded with weapons and ammo, and
eliminated all the terrorists inside them,
 in the Seven Kilometers Roundabout area.

Units of the armed forces razed terrorists’
gatherings & dens in al-Rastan, Jabbourin,
 Beit Rabe’a and al-Hilaliyeh Farm in the
countryside of Homs (central) province,
leaving many terrorists dead or wounded.

Army units destroyed terrorist dens
 and several of their vehicles - some
equipped with heavy machineguns
- in Bir Ajam and Mas’hara in the
country-side of Quneitra province,
 killing many of the organizations’
 members and wounding others.

Army units carried out a series of operations
 against terrorists in Jobar area in Damascus
 countryside, destroying terrorist hideouts
 and leaving many terrorists dead or injured.

An army unit pursued a terrorist group in al-
Bustan neighborhood in Harasta area, killing
 two terrorists, while another unit eliminated
 a number of terrorists on the road between
Erbin and Madyara, southeast of Harasta.

In Douma area, army units destroyed several
 terrorist hideouts along with the weapons &
 ammo inside them, in al-Ebb farms west of
Douma city, killing eight terrorists from the
 “Islam Brigade” organization, in addition to
 eliminating several terrorists in Hosh al-
Dawahra, northeast of Douma.

An army unit destroyed terrorist hideouts,
 a weapons and ammo cache, and left 15
 terrorists dead or injured in al-Rikabiye
farms near the town of Deir al-Asafir, in
the southern part of Easter Ghouta area.

In Qalamoun, army units destroyed terrorist
hideouts near Qara and Ras al-Ma’ara which
 are near the Lebanese borders, eliminating
several terrorists and destroying their
vehicles, weapons and ammo.

The town of Daraya also witnessed clashes
 between army units and terrorist groups,
leading to the death of terrorist Abdelsalam
 al-Jahoush, who was leader of the terrorist
 group calling itself “the Eagles Brigade.”

In the southwest countryside, an army
operation resulted in the death of all
members of a terrorist group and the
destruction of their weapons, in al-
Khazrajiye farms, near Sa’sa’a town.

Army units destroyed vehicles belonging to
terrorists in al-Ghariyeh al-Gharbiyeh, Dael
and Ibtaa and razed others’ dens in Aqraba,
 al-Sheikh Miskeen, Bosr al-Harir and Inkhel
 in the countryside of Daraa province.

Army units destroyed several terrorist
dens in al-Hbeit, Abu al-Duhour, Saraqeb,
 Taftanaz, al-Bara, Shahranaz, Maaret
 Harmeh & Hzano areas, in the country-
side of Idleb.

A military source says that the army units
 also targeted terrorists’ concentrations in
 al-Shughur, Umm Jarin, al-Baya’a and near
 al-Arba’in Mount in Idleb countryside.

Army units killed terrorists and wounded
 others in Qleib al-Thour, Jurouh, Eqeirbat,
al-Khdeira, Kafarzita & al-Latamneh in the
 countryside of the central province of Hama.


_____________________________



Syria: Ready for Moscow’s
 Meeting to Agree on Dialogue

Syria's Foreign and Expatriates Ministry
 stresses Syria’s readiness to participate
in Moscow’s consultative meeting as it's
 keen to meet the Syrians’ aspiration to
find a way out of the crisis, a source at
the Ministry states.

The source notes in a statement to SANA
 that there are ongoing talkss between Syria
 and Russia to hold a preparatory consultative
 meeting in Moscow, that aims at convening a
 conference for dialogue among the Syrians,
 without any foreign interference.

While stressing its keenness to find an exit
from the crisis, Syria says it will proceed with
 fighting terrorism wherever it is on Syrian soil,
 the source says.

Parallel to that, Syria will be pursuing local
 reconciliations, “which have proved useful
in more than one area,” the source adds.

The Foreign Ministry’s source makes it clear
that Syria has always been and still is, ready
 for dialogue with “whoever believes in Syria’s
 unity, territorial integrity, sovereignty and
independent decision making according to
the Syrian people’s will, and in fulfillment of
their aspirations for security, stability and
halting the bloodshed.”


_________________________


 
Israelis demolish Palestinian irrigation pools in WB
 
Israeli regime forces have reportedly demolished
 irrigation pools used by Palestinian farmers in
northern parts of the Jordan Valley in the
occupied West Bank.

Israeli bulldozers backed by military vehicles
 destroyed 6 irrigation pools used by farmers
 in al-Jiftlik area, Palestinian media outlets
report on Saturday.

According to the report, the construction of the
pools was being funded by grants from European
 donors.  Local Palestinians state that the pretext
for the demolition was an order by the military
 authorities of the Tel Aviv regime.

The Jordan Valley makes up nearly 30% of the
 occupied West Bank, while most parts of the
region have been designated as Area C, and
 are thus off-limits to Palestinian construction.

Moreover, Ma’an news agency further cites a
 Palestinian in Hebron village of al-Burj, identified
 as Yasser Muhammad Salim Masharqa, as saying
 that Israeli forces & civil administration officers
 escorted two bulldozers to the village and
demolished his dairy factory.

Israeli bulldozers, the report adds, destroyed
 the 2000-square-meter steel structure and
 cement rooms measuring 400 square meters.

According to the report, the factory was near
 the separation wall, southwest of Hebron
 (al-Khalil).

The Israeli regime has destroyed at least
359 Palestinian structures in the West Bank
 in 2014, according to the Israeli Committee
 Against House Demolitions.


___________________________



UNSC to vote on Palestinian statehood
 bid by Monday: Erekat

Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat says the
 UN Security Council will vote on a draft resolution
 calling for the recognition of the Palestinian state
 by Monday.

Erekat tells reporters Friday that some revisions
 were made to the Jordanian-drafted text before
 sending it to the Security Council. He did not
reveal any details of the amendments.

The resolution, approved by the Arab League
in September, sets 2016 as the date for a full
Israeli withdrawal from Palestinian territories.

The text is also expected to lay out a timeframe
 for negotiations on a final peace deal between
 Israelis and Palestinians.

In the past few months, the Palestinian national
 unity government has been pushing for a UN
 resolution that sets the borders of a future
 Palestinian state as based on pre-1967 lines.
 Israel has expressed anger over the motion.

In 1967, Israel occupied the West Bank, East
Jerusalem/al-Quds & the Gaza Strip, but with-
drew from the strip & set siege to it, in 2005.

Palestinians seek to create an independent
 state on the territories of the West Bank, East
 Jerusalem al-Quds, & the besieged Gaza Strip,
and are demanding that Israel withdraw from
 the occupied Palestinian territories.

In November 2012, the United Nations General
Assembly voted to upgrade Palestine’s status
at the UN from "non-member observer entity"
to a "non-member observer state" despite
strong opposition from Israel and the US.

The upgrade allows Palestinians to participate
 in debates at the UN General Assembly and
improve their chances of joining UN agencies
 and the International Criminal Court, where
 they could file complaints against Israel.


_____________________________



US-Led Coalition Drops Aid to ISIL in Iraq

The US-led coalition which is allegedly fighting
 ISIL, the terrorist group operating in Syria and
 Iraq, on Friday dropped aid to Takfiri militants
 in an area north of Baghdad.

Iraqi Field sources say coalition airplanes
 dropped aid to terrorist militants in Balad,
 in Salahuddin province, north of Baghdad.

Meanwhile, Iraq's army, backed by popular
forces, has advanced to southeast of Balad,
 al-Manar's correspondent reports, noting
 that the ISIL terrorists retreated from
 Doloueya region, in Salahuddin province.

Commenting on the move by the
international coalition, the Supreme
 Leader of the Islamic Revolution in
 Iran, Imam Sayyed Ali Khamenei,
says the coalition is a “lie.”

“We have been informed that US air-
planes dropped aid for ISIL in Iraq,
 and this move has been repeated
 five times.

 The US claims it has formed an anti-
ISIL coalition, but it is just a lie,” the
leader says on Friday.

Deputy Chief of Staff of the Iranian Armed
 Forces Brigadier General Massoud Jazayeri,
 uncovered earlier that the US had delivered
 arms and supplied aid to militants of ISIL
 in Jalawla town, in Diyala.


___________________________


US atomic bombing of Hiroshima
 and Nagasaki 'Nazi crimes': Russia

Speaker of Russia's State Duma, Sergei
 Naryshkin, says the United States should
 be investigated for the atomic bombing of
 two Japanese cities during World War II.

Speaking at a press conference, the Russian
 official compared the 1945 atomic bombings
 of Hiroshima and Nagasaki with “Nazi crimes,”
and called them “crimes against humanity.”

“I think that we should discuss this topic
together with lawyers and international
 law experts, because crimes against
humanity have no limitation period,” he
 is quoted as saying, by Itar-Tass.

“As we well know, the bombing of two
peaceful Japanese cities could not be
explained from a military point of view,”
 he says. “The atomic bombings... were
 solely an intimidation demonstration,
 resulting in the deaths of hundreds of
 thousands of peaceful residents.”

The remarks are made as relations
 between Washington and Moscow
 grow increasingly icy over Ukraine.

Foreign Policy Analyst James Jatras,
 says imposing more sanctions on Russia
 could turn a Cold War situation between
 the two countries into a hot war.

“This really runs the risk that what is
 increasingly a Cold War between the
 United States and Russia, could turn
into a hot war,” he says.

Meanwhile China is busy building up
a fleet of nuclear-armed submarines
capable of hitting all major US cities.


____________________________



Ukraine plans to pull back heavy arms
 ‘in 48 hours after complete ceasefire’

Kiev will pull back heavy arms from the conflict
zone in eastern Ukraine within 48 hours, once a
 full ceasefire is observed, RIA Novosti quotes
 Ukraine's General Staff spokesperson, Aleksey
 Mazepa, as saying on Friday.

 This will be “the second phase” in observing
 the Minsk agreements.

 Military officials in Kiev said Thursday that both
 sides to the conflict will begin the withdrawal of
 heavy artillery from a separation line on the 26th
of December, creating a 30km buffer zone.


___________________________


Ukraine peace negotiations
 cancelled in Minsk: Belarus

Belarus announces that new talks
 between the Kiev government and
and the anti-coup forces, in Minsk,
on a stable ceasefire in eastern
 Ukraine, have been scrapped.

“There will be no contact group meeting
 today,” Belarusian Foreign Ministry spokes-
person, Dmitry Mironchik, whose country
 hosts the peace talks, says on Friday.

The so-called Trilateral Contact Group on
Ukraine, also includes negotiators from
Russia and the Organization for Security
 and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).

The leader of Ukraine’s self-proclaimed
Donetsk People’s Republic has warned
 that the fighting will continue in eastern
 Ukraine if these peace talks in Belarus
fail to bear fruit.

Alexander Zakharchenkov asserted on
Thursday that the Kiev authorities were
 preparing to wreck the negotiations in
 Mink, and start a full-scale military
 offensive in the east of Ukraine.


_________________________________


Bahrainis protest Al Khalifa regime’s
 repression of dissent

People in Bahrain have held a mass anti-government
 protest rally against the ruling Al Khalifa regime’s
 continued repression of dissent, Press TV reports.

Bahrainis poured into the streets in the capital,
 Manama, on Friday, and chanted slogans in
 condemnation of the sham elections there
 and the regime’s continued crackdown on
 political activists.

A prominent Bahraini dissident and human rights
 activist, Nabeel Rajab, earlier told Press TV that
 at least 200,000 Bahraini people, or one-third of
 the country’s population, were expected to turn
up for the rally.

He added that the protesters would express
 their opposition to the government’s policies,
discrimination against most of the population,
 and the systematic torture of prisoners.


They would call for the release of all political
 prisoners and an end to the monarchy’s
 repression, Rajab said.

Demonstrators said they would continue
 protests despite the ruling regime’s heavy-
handed crackdown.

Bahrain has been the scene of almost daily
 protests against the Al Khalifa dynasty since
 early 2011, when a pro-democracy uprising
 began in the kingdom.

Since mid-February 2011, thousands of pro-
democracy protesters have held numerous
 rallies in the streets of Bahrain, calling for
the Al Khalifa family to relinquish power.

Bahrain has been severely criticized by human
 rights groups for its harsh crackdown on anti-
government protesters, which has claimed the
lives of scores of people so far.

On November 29, the Manama regime held a
runoff parliamentary vote amid a widespread
 boycott by the main opposition groups,
including al-Wefaq National Islamic Society.

On March 14, 2011, troops from Saudi Arabia
and the United Arab Emirates were deployed
 to Bahrain to assist the Manama regime in
its crackdown on peaceful protesters.

Bahrain was stolen from Iran by Britain,
which now intends to build a military
base there, to repress further events.


______________________________



Putin endorses updated version
 of Russia's military doctrine

President Vladimir Putin has signed a decree "On
 the Military Doctrine of the Russian Federation,"
 the Kremlin says on its official website.

The changes introduced in the doctrine were
 endorsed at a meeting of Russia's Security
 Council on December 19th, 2014.

A report at the Council's official website says
 the updates concern, in the first place, the
 emergence of new security threats in north
 Africa, Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan. It also
 notes a rise in NATO's offensive potential
right on Russia's doorstep.

The report pinpoints NATO's active steps to
 unfold a global antiballistic missile system.

NATO's increasing military potential is among
 the key external threats for Russia, says the
 new wording of the Russian Federation’s
Military Doctrine.

The key threats include giving NATO
 “global functions being implemented
 in violation of international law norms,”
 as well as the “military infrastructure of
NATO member countries getting closer
to Russia's borders, including through
 further expansion of the bloc.”

The Security Council stresses the consistently
 defense-orientated character of its doctrine,
 and Russia's accent on using military force
 only after exhausting all non-violent measures.

The principles of combat use of Russia's
Armed Forces, and especially the use of
nuclear weapons, have stayed unchanged,
 but it now contains the idea of "non-nuclear
deterrence," which implies a high degree of
 combat alert of the general-purpose forces.

Russia's ambassador warns today of the
high likelihood of "foreign forces" being
sent to Ukraine, & the speed with which
NATO can make its decisions.


___________________________



Israel approves over 350 new settlements
 in occupied Jerusalem and 250+ in the
occupied West Bank


Jerusalem City Council has approved the
 building of almost 400 new settlements
in 2
city districts and its southern part,
 including annexed areas beyond the
'Green Line'.


________________________________________



Ukraine says power supplies to Crimea
 resumed after blackout

Ukraine has resumed power supplies to Crimea
 after a blackout that lasted for several hours,
TASS quotes the minister for energy and coal
in Kiev, Vladimir Demchishin, as saying.

“We've resumed electric power supplies, but
we ask for Crimea to stick to agreements on
the amount of electric power used,” he said.

 In the case of “excessive electricity usage”
supplies will be limited, he says.

Ukraine is in negotiations with Russia over
 importing electricity, asserts Demchishin.

The Energy Ministry in Kiev earlier said it
had temporarily cut off power to Crimea,
Wednesday, after the Russian peninsula
“failed to curb consumption as required,
due to a power crisis” in Ukraine.

A meeting of the contact group on peaceful
 settlement of the conflict in eastern Ukraine
 began in Minsk on Wednesday, TASS says.

It's being attended by Russia's Ambassador
 to Ukraine, Mikhail Zurabov, former Ukrainian
 President Leonid Kuchma, & representatives
 of the Donetsk & Lugansk People’s Republics,
 plus the OSCE.

 Some participants said it wasn't clear if any
 documents would be signed afterwards.


_________________________________



Euro-Asian Union Multiplies Forces
                 and Region's Potential               
 
 The Euro-Asian Economic Union (EEU) multiplies
 its forces after the incorporation of Armenia and
 Kirgizstan to the founding troika, just days before
 the launch of the most ambitious project in the
 post-Soviet space, due on January 1st.

The entry of members of the Commonwealth
 of Independent States (CIS) was ratified at
the last session of the EEU Supreme Council
this year, held on Tuesday in the Kremlin and

chaired by President Vladimir Putin.

Armenia will become a full-fledged member a
day after the entry into force of the EEU, that
is, on January 2nd, Presidential Aide Yuri
Ushakov points out.

The founding treaty of the bloc within CIS space
 was signed by the presidents of Russia, Belarus
 and Kazakhstan, on May 29th, in Astanta.

In October, the parliaments of the 3 countries
 gave a green light to Yerevan's membership
  in the future common market.

The UEE will soon become a powerful centre
 of regional growth, with many benefits for
its participants, Putin said, at the closing
 session of the summit of heads of State,
which was also attended by the presidents
 of Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan & Kirgizstan.

The increase in the number of participants,
 Putin adds, will bring more benefits and will
 multiply the force & potential of integration.


_____________________________



NATO Praises Mission in Afghanistan,
                  Despite Thousands of Deaths               
 
 Despite the nearly 650,000 victims of the
 conflict in Afghanistan since 2001, NATO
 praises the results of its 'mission' there.

Jens Stoltenberg, Sec General of NATO,
which deployed about 100 personnel
there as the Pentagon launched bombs
 in October 2001, estimates that the
 block "did the right thing" by invading
Afghanistan.

To Stoltenberg, NATO ensured a better future
 for Afghans, whose authorities installed there,
 with the consent of the West, has denounced
 on several occasions, the killing of civilians
 by drones used by NATO, on their 'mission'.

"We left a strong Afghanistan, where we built
 an army from zero to 350,000-strong today",
 says the head of NATO, without taking into
 account the rise in attacks and violence in
 general in Afghanistan over the last decade.

For the exit of what's left of its contingent in
 the Asian state, the Atlantic alliance has had
 to hold difficult negotiations with Kabul on
 the status of its group of alleged "advisers"
 from the start of next year.

The presence of NATO's occupation troops,
 in an International Security Assistance Force
 in Afghanistan, which 'concluded' its mission
 there this year, has caused fierce resistance
 from armed groups, particularly the Taliban.


________________________



Ukraine’s decision to abandon non-allied status
 urged by NATO – Russian military

The decision by Ukraine’s parliament to abandon
 the country’s non-allied status was urged by NATO
 countries, TASS quotes Russian Deputy Defense
 Minister Anatoly Antonov saying, on Wednesday.

 This aggravates the situation - which is already
 difficult - he says, adding that NATO countries
 are attempting to turn Ukraine into “a forward
 line of standoff against Russia.” Moscow will
have to take this decision into account, he
 says.


_____________________



Ukraine ascension to NATO would
 end Russia-NATO ties – Moscow

If Ukraine were accepted as a NATO member,
it would end any relations between the alliance
 and Moscow, the Russian Defense Ministry warns.

Kiev has revoked its long-time non-alliance stance
 and is seeking NATO membership under the post-
coup government.

The threat is voiced by Deputy Defense Minister
 Anatoly Antonov on Wednesday, a day after the
 Ukrainian Verkhovna Rada adopted a law, which
 allows Ukraine to become part of a military bloc.

“So far the Ukrainian parliament’s decision to
 abandon its non-alignment status does not threaten
 Russia’s security. It’s a political decision. But if in
 the future this decision leads to military aspects,
 namely joining NATO, we will react accordingly.

 Then we will have absolutely all ties with NATO
 severed, and such a rift would be virtually
impossible to mend,” he says.

Antonov repeats Moscow’s concern over the
 increased NATO presence close to Russia's
 borders.

The alliance claims that a military boost in Eastern
 Europe is needed to counter what it perceives as
 Russia's aggressive stance on the Ukrainian crisis.

Russia sees NATO’s actions as provocative and
 anti-Russian.

“Our special concern is the continued training of
 crews from non-nuclear NATO members in piloting
 nuclear-capable aircraft and the inclusion of new
 countries like Poland into this process,” Antonov
 says.

Ukraine seeka NATO membership to receive help in
its fight against rebel forces in the east. Kiev says
 the rebels are a form of Russian aggression, and
 Ukraine needs NATO’s protection from Moscow.

NATO says that joining it is a sovereign decision
by any applying nation and that it will not take
 Russia’s concerns into consideration when
 making a decision on such an application.

But Ukraine is unlikely to join the alliance any
time soon, NATO Sec General Jens Stoltenberg
 says, after the new law’s adoption.

Kiev will have to settle its territorial disputes
 and conduct a thorough overhaul of its military
 and entire governance system, before having
 any feasible chance of joining NATO, he says.

Kiev itself estimates that it would take six
years for the required reforms to take place.
Until then it seeks the role of ‘key NATO ally’.

The alliance this year doubled flights of both
tactical and reconnaissance aviation close
 to Russia’s border, Antonov says.

The Russian military has recorded 3,000
tactical sorties and 480 reconnaissance
 flights over the Baltic and Barents Seas
 in 2014.

NATO has also deployed more tanks in
 Eastern Europe.


_______________________



US Official in Charge of Closing
               Guantanamo Prison Resigns               
 
 The resignation of the US official in charge
 of the negotiations to close the prison at
 Guantanamo naval base, affects President
 Barack Obama''s project to close the
detention centre.

The New York Times recalls today that,
since 2002, the White House has kept a
 detention centre at that military facility,
on Cuban territory, against the will of the
 people and Government of the Caribbean
 island.

Cliff Sloan, a man trusted by State Secretary
 John Kerry, according to the Times, has
 resigned as special envoy of the Government
 for the transfer of prisoners, out of frustration
 over the Pentagon's delay in carrying out
 the proceedings for the approved transfers.

Officials close to Sloan say that just a few
 prisoners have been freed, but others have
 been kept as prisoners unnecessarily.

Charles Hagel was responsible as Defense
 Secretary, but he also resigned recently.

Obama has nominated as his replacement,
the former Defense Undersecretary, Ashton
 B. Carter, who is waiting on confirmation at
 the Senate, and Hagel continues occupying
 his post until the senators' decision is made.


____________________________



Putin Highlights Launch of
               New Russian Heavy Missile               
 
 Russia's President Vladimir Putin says that
 the successful test launch of a Russian-made
 Angara-A5 missile is a major development for
Russia and its allies in the Collective Security
 Treaty Organization (CSTO), who are meeting
 in Moscow.

It is a significant event for both Russia and the
 space industry, says Putin, who participated in
 a video-conference in the ceremony to launch
 the heavy missiles from Plesetsk cosmodrome,
 in northern Russia.

The president adds that the Angara-A5 missile
 can put any space device into orbit, for both
scientific and military ends.

The missile will be used for economic reasons
 and to strengthen the defensive capacity of
 Russia and CSTO, Putin stresses.

He notes that this test marks the end of an era
 of great and serious work, for several years.

The Russian president reaffirms the offering of
the National Defense Centre to its CSTO allies
 and notes that the missile was built using
Russian technology only.

I am sure that it will improve coordination
between our allies, and benefit from the
 leading role of the ministry of defense,
 Putin points out.



__________________________



China sends first infantry battalion
 for UN peacekeeping

China's first infantry battalion to South Sudan is
 set to depart, and it's the country's first infantry
 to participate in a United Nations peacekeeping
 mission.

Their dispatch was approved by the Central
Military Commission and its chair, Xi Jinping.


________________________________



Court ruling: Mentally ill people in US can own guns

A three-judge panel rules that being hospitalized
 for a psychiatric problem is not a good reason to
 prevent someone from owing a gun.
 
This new court ruling in the US authorizes
 anyone with psychiatric problems to own a gun.

The federal ban on gun ownership for anyone
 judged to be mentally defective or committed
 to a mental institution, violates rights, rules
the panel from the Sixth US Circuit Court of
Appeals, sitting in Cincinnati.

The ruling was issued after Clifford Charles Tyler,
 a 73-year-old man, in Michigan lodged a lawsuit
 for not being able to buy a gun.

Charles’ request to buy a gun was rejected in
 2011 over a stay in a mental institution in 1986.

Many demonstrations have been held in recent
years across the US, urging Congress to enact
tougher gun ownership laws.

After the 2012 Sandy Hook shooting, US
 President Obama pushed for gun reforms,
 including expanded background checks
and a ban on high-capacity magazines,
but the National Rifle Association of
America and its people in Congress,
 fiercely opposed the measures.

Every year, over 30,000 people are shot
and killed in the United States.

The US averages 87 gun deaths each day
 from gun violence, with an average of 183
 injured, reports the University of Chicago
 Crime Lab and Centre for Disease Control.


____________________________



Iraqi Army Liberates Base in Tal Afar,
 Kurds Make their Way into Sinjar

The Iraqi army has reportedly regained
control
of a military base in the city of
Tal Afar, west
of Mosul, in Nineveh.

Shia volunteers, Sunni tribes and Kurdish
Peshmerga forces backed the army in the
 operations that led to the liberation of the
 base from the ISIL’s grip on Sunday.

The Iraqi army and Kurdish forces have made
 major gains in their battle against the Takfiri
 militants operating in the area in recent days.

On Friday, the Kurdish fighters regained control
of the Tal Afar Mountain from the ISIL militants.

Kurdish forces also made their way into Sinjar
in the northwestern part of the country on
Sunday, lifting the siege on the town.

The US military claimed 13 air strikes in Iraq
and three in Syria had been launched using
 fighters, bombers and other aircraft.

“Now the fighting is in Sinjar and we've freed
 most of the city. Last night they (Islamic State
 militants) tried to attack two or three times,
 but failed. They left & fled to Jordan & Syria,”
 says Peshmerga fighter, Kamran Kochar.


______________________________

   

Iran’s DM: Missile Range Increases
 to Face All Possible Threats

Iran’s Defense Minister says the Islamic Republic
 is the 4th missile power in the world, adding that
 the range of its missiles has been increased.

“Iran has an acceptable status among countries
 possessing missile capabilities and stands after
the United States, Russia and China,” Brigadier
 General Hossein Dehqan says in a TV interview.

“In proportion to possible threats against the
country,
we have endeavored to increase the
range of our missiles,”
the minister adds.

The country is currently striving to boost the
 accuracy of the missiles, plus make them
radar-evading, he notes.

Dehqan points to efforts by the US and its allies
 to include the issue of Iran’s missile capability in
 the nuclear talks between Tehran and the P5+1,
 and says the talks will only cover nuclear issues.

“What we are discussing with the P5+1 is merely
 the nuclear issue -- and no other topic has been
 put, or will be put, on the agenda,” the defense
minister says.

He notes that Iran decides about its own missile
 and defense capabilities and no other entity will
 be able to impose its will on Iran’s decisions in
 the missile sector.


____________________________



    Egypt Reopens Border with Gaza for 48 Hours 
            
  Egypt's authorities have announced a reopening
 of the border with Gaza for Sunday and Monday.
The crossing has been closed since last October.

According to MENA news, the Rafah border path
 will be open from 09:00 to 16:00 hours local time.

The borders with Gaza are in the blocked zone
 created for three months last October. An 11-
hour curfew was also imposed on that zone,
after fierce attacks against military & police
 checkpoints, which left 32 dead.

The Islamist Ansar Beit Al Maqdis group,
 which swore loyalty to Islamic State (IS)
 shortly after the attacks, has claimed full
responsibility for both actions.

The IS occupies zones in Iraq and Syria, and
 has been introduced into Tunisia and Libya.

Egypt's announcement follows an Israeli air
strike near Khan Younis city, in south Gaza,
 early this morning.

Gaza Strip, controlled by the Islamist Hamas
 Movement has been under siege by Israel,
for 8 years.


_________________________________



Japan and the US Delay Plans
                 to Expand Military Cooperation               
 
 Japan and the US have delayed until the
 middle of the next year, the review of their
plans to expand cooperation in the military
sector, Japan's Foreign Minister, Fumio
 Kishida, announces.

This update of the two allies was scheduled
 for last October, but the statement says that
Tokyo needs time to pass new legislation
 before their next convention.

The statement underlines that the proposal
by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to change the
 current pacifist constitution needs approval
 by the Japanese parliament.

Abe wants approval for his changes to
some sections of the Constitution, which
are an impediment to turning Japan's Self-
Defense Forces into an army, thus allowing
 for Japan's participation in the Pentagon's
 military adventures.

The communique says that both countries
have agreed that revisions for the coming
 pact be concluded by the first half of 2015.

Next April, seats in the Japanese Dieta
will be disputed during general elections,
 but a win for the ruling Liberal Democratic
 Party is expected, after their election wins
 earlier this December.

The Prime Minister's group, in coalition with
 the Komeito Party, managed 326 of the 475
seats at stake, i.e. more than two thirds of
the Chamber.

According to a report issued in October, the
 removal of all existing boundaries in bilateral
 military cooperation, will be derived from the
 defense pact of Japan and the United States.


_____________________________________



ISIL trafficking body parts to fund terror: Report

The ISIL Takfiri group has resorted to trafficking
 human organs as a means of funding its terrorist
 activities, according to a report.

A US-based media website Al-Monitor reported
 this development earlier in December, quoting
 Siruwan al-Mosuli, an otolaryngologist.

“He (al-Mosuli) said that lately he noticed unusual
 movements within the medical facilities in Mosul.
 Arab and foreign surgeons were hired, but banned
 from mixing with local doctors,” the website wrote.

“Information then leaked about organ selling.
 Surgery takes place within a hospital, and
organs are quickly transported through networks
 specialized in trafficking human organs,” it noted.

“Mosuli said that the organs come from fallen
fighters who were quickly transported to the
hospital, injured people who were abandoned,
 or individuals who were kidnapped.”

A specialized mafia and overseas medical
institutions have been enlisted to enable
 the trafficking operation.

ISIL terrorists control some parts of Syria
 and Iraq. They engage in crimes against
humanity in the areas under their control.

On Saturday, 100 terrorists trying to quit,
were executed en masse, to deter others.


_________________________________



1mn wounded in Syria war,
diseases spreading – WHO

A million people have been wounded in
Syria’s destabilisation, says the World
Health Organization.

WHO’s Syria representative also says
that diseases are spreading, as regular
supplies of medicine are failing to reach
patients, Reuters reports.

A plunge in vaccination rates from 90%
before the West's destabilisation to 52%
this year, & an increase in contaminated
water, have added to the woes, Elizabeth
Hoff says.

Over half of Syria's public hospitals are
now out of service, and treatments for
diseases and injuries are "irregular",
she says.


__________________________



Ukrainian Militarization to Lead
 Only to War, Says Former Ambassador    

The former US Ambassador to Russia, Thomas
Pickering,
warns today that Ukraine's idea of
building one of Europe's most powerful armies,
could have dangerous consequences.

Pickering says the idea is a dream, which
leads only to war and worse, and suggests
that a fair deal through the Minsk process,
is better for both sides,
reports 'Sputnik'.

Kiev representatives and the People's
Republics of Donetsk (PRD) and Lugansk,
 with mediation by the Organization for
Security & Cooperation in Europe (OSCE),
& Russia, signed a truce & memorandum,
with various points to implement a cease-
fire, on September the 5th and 19th.

OSCE says the agreement is being fulfilled,
but admits that violations of the truce have
been reported, with bombings from Kiev's
forces, the response of the militiamen, and
scores of dead and injured, chiefly civilians.

On Thursday, the newly appointed head of
Ukraine's National Security and Defense
Council, Aleksandr Turchynov, threatened
 Crimea, saying that his country must create
 one of the most powerful armies in Europe.

Turchynov stated that his country's "war will
 be over" only when they have total control
of the territory of Crimea, which voted in a
 March referendum, to rejoin Russia.



________________________




CUBA/US DIPLOMATIC TIES RESTORED

Cuban leader Raul Castro says in a televised
speech on Wednesday, that Cuba and the
United States have agreed "to restore" ties,
ending 50 years of frosty bilateral relations.

Pope Francis unexpected hero
of US-Cuba relations breakthrough

Pope Francis has congratulated both the US
 and Cuba on restoring relations. The Vatican
 and Canada both played a significant role in
the
talks, which broke 50 years of cold war-
style
sanctions imposed on the independent
island.


President Obama comments that "sanctions
did not work".

 At this point, it is hard to predict how soon the
 US Congress may lift the trading and economic
 embargo from Cuba, but the first steps towards
 cancelling visas are being taken already,” the
 international research director at the Institute
 of Modern Development, Sergey Kulik, states.

“It's very unlikely that the restoration of diplomatic
 relations between the United States & Cuba was
 prompted only by the awareness that sanctions
are ineffective, contrary to what Obama said.

“Washington never makes decisions on the basis
 of just one reason, and always, on several ones,
 first and foremost, geopolitical — for the sake of
 tightening its grip on the world,” the analyst says.


_______________________



Yemen Shia fighters take full control
of strategic port city

Yemen’s Shia Houthi movement’s Ansarullah
fighters have taken full control of the Yemen’s
 second-largest port city of Hudaydah, on the
Red Sea.

According to reports, the Ansarullah fighters
managed to gain full control of the strategic
 port of Hudaydah on Wednesday (17th Dec),
which they had entered earlier, in October.

The Yemeni army soldiers in Hudaydah gave
 no resistance, as the Shia fighters tightened
 their grip on the strategic port.

The Ansarullah revolutionaries also captured
several government offices, including the
state-owned SAFER oil and gas company, in
the Yemeni capital, Sana’a, on Wednesday.

Ansarullah’s gains now pose a serious challenge
 to the authority of the Yemen-based al-Qaeda in
the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), which has for long
 destabilized the impoverished Arab country.

In the past months, al-Qaeda militants have
 frequently attacked Yemen’s security forces
 and been locked in deadly battles with Shia
 Ansarullah fighters.

Yemen’s central government has so far failed
to confront the terrorist threats. Ansarullah
fighters, however, have intervened to fill the
 vacuum and driven al-Qaeda militants out
of many areas in the country.

The Shia revolutionaries also played a major
role in ousting Yemen’s former dictator, Ali
Abdullah Saleh, in 2012.



_________________________




Syrian Opposition Parties
Reject Foreign Intervention 
             
 Various Syrian opposition parties call for an end
to economic sanctions against Syria and a stop
to the flow of radicals and mercenaries to their
 country, local television channels broadcast.

During a meeting with Ramzy Ezzedine Ramzy,
the deputy of the UN special envoy for Syria,
 Staffan De Mistura, and the secretary general
 of the National Development Party, Inas al
 Hammal, he said that those conditions are
 needed to promote inter-Syrian talks.

For his part, Parwen Ibrahim, leader of the
National Youth for Justice and Development
Party, urged the United Nations to condemn
 the constant Israeli violations of Syrian
sovereignty.

Meanwhile, Sheikh Nawaf Abdul Aziz Trad Al
 Milhim, from the People's Party, highlighted
 the importance of dialogue, and the UN's
 proposals for ending combat in Aleppo city.

During a meeting with de Mistura last month,
 president Bashar al Assad promised to study
 the initiative and highlighted the importance
 of Aleppo, considered to be Syria's economic
 heart, before the conflict.

A Syrian political opposition party says plans
 for "frozen zones" in Aleppo must be coupled
with a political solution and expand to cover
other Syrian cities.

"The plan put forward by the UN special envoy
 Staffan de Mistura, must be coupled with a
political solution and expanded to cover the
areas in southern and central Syria," says
Safwan Akkasheh, a leading member of
the opposition 'National Coordination Body'
 (NCB).

He says his group met earlier in the day with
 Ramzi Ezz el-Deen, deputy of de Mistura, who
 flew in last Saturday for a meeting with Syrian
 officials and opposition forces to discuss de
Mistura's plans.

The special envoy has proposed a plan to freeze
 battles between government troops and "rebels"
 in Aleppo, as a prelude to a broader pacification
 across the war-torn country.

The Syrian government says the plan is "worth
 studying" but government officials say that they
 are waiting for more details about the plan from
 Mistura, who's gathering regional & international
 support for his plan, which is basically still a
series of ideas.

Meanwhile, Akkasheh says the NCB discussed
 Mistura's plan in detail, adding that his group,
 the largest domestically-based opposition group,
 backs any step that might alleviate the suffering
 and end the destruction.

The opposition figure, though, expresses concern
that the plan, if kept limited to Aleppo, could push
the key Syrian province which borders Turkey, to
become an autonomous area.

 He stresses that this idea is of great concern
 to a majority of all the political forces in Syria.

Akkasheh says his group also agrees on the
presence of international observers to monitor
 Aleppo's "frozen battles" --- if the cessation of
violence is ever accepted by the warring sides.

Syrian troops have recently been racing against
 time to consolidate their positions in Aleppo and
 further tighten the siege on various rebel and
 extremist groups in rebel-held areas in Aleppo,
 while the plan is being discussed.

Local media and activists say Syrian troops are
 advancing on the northeastern part of Aleppo
 and inching closer to laying siege to the rebel-
held areas, cutting their key supply lines from
 neighboring Turkey.



_________________________




Russia Is Concerned about
   Western Lethal Aid to Ukraine    
 
Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov states
 Russia''s concern about the possible supply of
weapons to Ukraine by the West, and calls on
those countries to foster political dialogue in
Ukraine.

"I know that over the past few weeks, the debate
 on the so-called supplies of "lethal weapons" to
 Kiev has intensified in a worrying way, he says,
 adding that NATO planes have already sent the
 weapons to Ukraine secretly.

The deputy minister points out that if the West
 is interested in solving the Ukrainian crisis, it
should promote the start of inclusive dialogue
 among all parties politically involved, and the
 adoption of constitutional reform, the First
channel of Russian television reports.

Victoria Kushnir, a spokesperson for the Ministry
 of Defense of Ukraine, confirms that, thanks to
 the West's assistance, despite the crisis that
keeps the country on the verge of bankruptcy,
 the Armed Forces continue receiving new and
better military technology.



___________________________




Israel suffers series of
diplomatic setbacks in Europe

An EU court orders the removal of Hamas from the
 list of terror groups and the European Parliament
 has voted to recognise a Palestinian state.



_________________________




Ban Ki Moon Calls to Strengthen
Cooperation with Africa
 
 UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon calls for a
strengthening of United Nations links with Africa
& the mechanisms for integrating that continent
 -- to foster peace and stability.

"The problems in Africa are the problems of everyone
 there and there is a possibility to solve the problems,
only if all parts of the international community work
 as one, Ban Ki Moon said, at a forum centred on the
 links with the African Union.

The diplomat said that there are examples of the
usefulness of joint work with African organizations
to prevent conflicts or try to solve them, but there
 is
still a lot to do, to strengthen such an alliance.

Burkina Faso, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan,
Central African Republic and the Great Lakes
 region, show the importance of cooperation
 in facing the crisis, he added.

Ban Ki Moon said there are many challenges
 to move forward in the search for peace and
stability, and create key scenarios for socio-
economic development.

"We should foster political links with the African
 Union, fix them into a clear strategy, foster the
 peace joint operations and promote a search for
 greater access to financial resources in the
region," he concluded.



__________________________



Russia Ends Military Drills in Kaliningrad Successfully
   
  Lt General Andrei Kartapolov,spokesperson for
 the General Staff of the Armed Forces, confirms
 the successful conclusion of the largest military
 drill carried out in Russia''s westernmost region,
Kaliningrad.

According to the military spokesperson, 9,000
 soldiers, 250 tanks and other armored vehicles, 100
 pieces of artillery and multiple rocket launchers, 55
boats and 41 planes participated in the maneuvers.

Kartapolov underlines that the operations, which
 took place from December 5 - 10, involved all kinds
 of troops, including units equipped with Iskander-
M tactical missile systems, artillery, mechanized
 infantry, airborne troops and navy infantry.

The crews of fighters and transport helicopters,
plus
Baltic Sea Fleet troops, demonstrated their
capabilities during the drills, states the source.

Particularly, the pilots and antiaircraft defense
 systems simulated the protection of key military
and state objectives, as well as air support for
other kinds of troops and the neutralization of
ground targets of allegedly hostile groups.

The lieutenant general notes the participation
of intelligence, communications and logistics
experts in the maneuvers. The spokesperson
assures that all forces that participated in the
 military drills have returned to their permanent
 garrisons and routine missions.

The presence of Iskander missiles in these
 operations grants a special importance to the
 maneuvers, as they can destroy targets within
 a radius of up to 500 kilometers and can carry
several warheads, including nuclear warheads.

Russian President Vladimir Putin warns that the
 deployment of this kind of missile in Kaliningrad
 is Russia's response to the Antimissile Defense
(AMD) deployed by the United States in Europe.

Putin has repeatedly stated that the AMD is a
threat against Russia and forces the country
 to react.


__________________________



ISIL executes 150 Iraqi women
 for not marrying militants

The ISIL terrorist group has executed 150 women
 in the Western Iraqi province of Anbar for refusing
 to marry Takfiri militants.

"At least 150 females, including pregnant women,
 were executed in Fallujah… after they refused to
accept jihad marriage," reads a statement issued
by Iraq’s Ministry of Human Rights.

"Many families were also forced to migrate from
 the province’s northern town of al-Wafa, after
 hundreds of residents received death threats,"
 the statement adds.

According to the Iraqi Ministry of Human Rights,
 many children lost their lives after their families
 took refuge in deserts, in an attempt to escape
 from Takfiri terrorists.

The issue of the so-called Jihad al-Nikah (sexual
 jihad) was first brought up last September when
 it was revealed that a number of Sunni girls had
 travelled to Syria to marry Takfiri militants. This
 is while the real Islam in no way approves of the
 so-called Jihad al-Nikah.

Anbar province, which borders conflict-ravaged
Syria, has been a major stronghold of the ISIL
 Takfiri militants and continues to be largely
 controlled by the terror group.

The ISIL terrorists control large areas across
 northern and western Iraq, as well as in
eastern Syria.

The Takfiri militants have been carrying out
 horrific acts of violence, including public
 decapitations, against Iraqi communities,
 such as Shias, Sunnis, Kurds & Christians.


______________________________



Five Million People Affected by Crisis
                       in Ukraine, Says UN               
 
 More than five million people in the Ukrainian
 southeastern region are facing difficulties, as
 a result of the internal conflict, in which
violations of human rights still continue, the
 United Nations warns today.

In its 8th report on the crisis in the country,
the Office of the UN High Commissioner for
Human Rights says the arrival of the winter
season increases the risks of hardship to
 the population.

The report, by a group of experts deployed
on the spot for months, says at least 4,000
Ukrainians have died and 10,332 wounded,
 since the middle of April, during hostilities
 that have Donetsk and Lugansk, in the
 region of Donbass, as the epi-centre.

The document, which covers all November,
 says over 1,300 people have died, despite
 the ceasefire agreed in September in Minsk,
 Belarus, between the Government in Kiev
 and the pro-Russia activists who declared
 the independence of those territories.

The office accuses the sides of committing
 human rights violations, starting with the
 indiscriminate attack against densely
populated areas and the kidnapping of
 people by armed groups and the
 Ukrainian Security Service.

It also regrets and criticizes the lack of
 progress in investigations into violations
 of human rights committed during protests
 in the Maidan, the violence on May 2nd
 in Odessa, and other cases.

The authorities in Moscow repeatedly criticize
UN reports on human rights in Ukraine, for its
 bias in favour of the anti-Russian sectors.

________________________


US Government Insists on Studying
                  New Sanctions Against Russia               
 
A top US official says today the President
 Barack Obama is still considering signing
 legislation which imposes more sanctions
 on Russia and would authorize sending
 "resources" to Ukraine.

The source - quoted by the daily The Hill -
 considers as important that the sanctions
 regime reaches a "delicate balance" that
keeps a united front with allies & partners,
optimizes costs on Russia and minimizes
 the impact on US businesses, international
oil markets and the world economy.

He adds that the present target is to
 maintain that focus.

According to The Hill, Obama is under pressure
 from the Capitol, where this Monday, President
 of the House of Representatives, John Boehner,
vows that the aforementioned legislation will
be approved immediately..

New legislation will penalize Russian weapon
 exports and oil imports, and also send Ukraine
 more "defensive weapons and non-lethal aid".

The US media seems to believe that Obama will
  keep to the same pace as his European allies,
 even if Congress pursues a more radical stand.

Since the beginning of this year, since the
 political conflict in Ukraine exploded, it has
become a crisis between Russia and many
western countries, especially the US.

Russia's authorities denounce those nations
for using Ukraine as a spearhead against their
 country, in particular through the approach of
 NATO forces right up to Russia's borders.

For its part, the US and the European Union
 accuse Russia of supporting the independent
 movement of the Donbass, with its epicentre
 in the cities of Donetsk and Lugansk, and in
 consequence, they have imposed several
economic sanction.

According to the report of a group of experts
 displayed on the ground months ago, hostilities
 on Ukrainian soil have left at least 4,707
Ukrainian dead and 10,332 wounded, since
 mid April.



____________________________




Nigerian army denounces US officers over soldiers’ mutiny

The Nigerian army says not only has the US done
nothing to help, but has made matters worse with
 its training of the soldiers who recently committed
acts of mutiny.

“Our investigations show that some of the soldiers
who were involved in the mutiny received training in
the US,” a senior Nigerian official told Nigerian daily
Punch, adding that the soldiers’ mutiny in the fight
against Boko Haram Takfiri militants in recent
months was due to the "negative training" they
 received from US trainers.

The official also said, “Another thing Nigerians should
 note is that since the Americans came here purportedly
 to help get the Chibok girls, yet they have not done
 anything. What have they done with all their technology
 and might? Is it not suspicious?”

The official also stressed that it might not be easy to tell
Americans to leave Nigeria as “they are a super power.”

In response, the US Embassy in the Nigerian capital Abuja
announced it hadn't received any request from the Nigerian
government to withdraw its forces from the country.

The forces were allegedly brought into the country to
assist with the rescue of the abducted girls.

On April 14, Boko Haram kidnapped 276 students from
a secondary school in the northeastern town of Chibok,
triggering worldwide outrage. Reports say 57 of the girls
 managed to escape, but 219 are still missing.

Boko Haram, whose name means “Western education
is forbidden,” has claimed responsibility for numerous
 deadly shooting and bombing attacks in various parts
 of Nigeria which have left 10,000+ people dead, so far.



____________________________



             Syrian Army Closes Siege around Aleppo              
 Syrian Armed Forces closed the siege
around the city of Aleppo, on Sunday.

The Army's progress at Al Jandoul roundabout
threatens the rebel bastions in Al Qweeka and
Hanano.

As part of its offensive, the Syrian Army took
control over the Al Bureij quarry and a timber
 factory in the industrial district.

Meanwhile, the al-Nusra Front, the armed branch
 of Al Qaeda in Syria, resumed its attacks on the
 towns of Nubl and Zahra, about 20 kilometers
 northwest of Aleppo, although the assault was
 rejected.

Both villages have been besieged by the
radicals,
for more than two years.

Since 2012, the rebels have controlled eastern
 Aleppo, which was Syria's economic heart,
 before the war.

Over the past few months, the Army has taken
 control over several strategic areas of the city
amid violent confrontations.

As a consequence, the corridor that serves as
a way for the Islamic groups to get provisions
from the north, is getting narrower.



_________________________



Ukraine closes 3 major airports
‘for security reasons’


Three major airports in Ukraine - Kharkov,
Dnepropetrovsk and Zaporozhye - have been
closed indefinitely, Ukraine’s State Air Traffic
 Service says on Monday.

Flights are banned “for security reasons,”
TASS reports, citing the statement. The
 service’s chief, Denis Antonyuk, earlier
said the airports would be closed until
Tuesday morning.



_________________________



Netanyahu vows to fight Palestinian UN bid

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vows
 to “fend off any attempts to dictate unilateral
 moves,” referring to a Palestinian UN proposal
that sets a timetable for an Israeli withdrawal
to the pre-1967 lines, Haaretz daily says.

The Palestinian leadership on Sunday, said it
plans to submit a resolution to the UN Security
Council setting a two-year deadline for Israel
to end its occupation, AFP reports.

 A draft UN resolution will be presented on
Wednesday, to end the Israeli occupation
 by late 2016, senior Palestine Liberation
 Organization member Wassel Yussef says.



___________________________



ICC to examine UK troop abuses
during Iraq invasion

The International Criminal Court (ICC) is
 reportedly expected to look into hundreds
 of new cases accusing British soldiers of
abusing
Iraqi civilians from 2003 to 2008.

The Hague-based court will review cases
 which detail torture techniques such as
rape, sexual assaults, electrocution, sleep
 deprivation, beating and hooding used by
 UK forces in, Iraq during interrogations in
 the period, the Independent reports today.

The cases, presented by lawyers and human
 right activists, accuse UK troops of abusing
 Iraqi children, women & men aged between
13 and 101.

In one of the cases, an Iraqi policeman died
 after British soldiers “forced his head into a
 bucket of cold water a number of times. He
stopped breathing and died. His wife and
children witnessed the soldiers killing him.”

The Independent report comes ahead of
the publication of an official report into
 allegations that British forces mistreated
 and unlawfully killed Iraqis back in 2004.

The report, to be released on Wednesday,
is likely to fuel more anger against the UK
 government, which reportedly was aware
of the
CIA's torture techniques at the time.

Earlier this week, Angus Robertson MP,
 the defense spokesperson for the Scottish
 National Party (SNP), called for an immediate
 publication of the findings of the long-awaited
 Chilcot inquiry into the UK’s role in the Iraq war.

UK forces participated in the US-led invasion
of Iraq in a blatant violation of international
 law in 2003 under the pretext that the regime
 of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein
 possessed weapons of mass destruction.
No such weapons were ever discovered in Iraq.

Elsewhere in his remarks, the SNP lawmaker
 further accused the UK government of failing
 to act urgently “despite the appalling findings
 of the US Senate report about the inhumane
 treatment of detainees.”

On December 9, the US Senate Intelligence
 Committee released a truncated report on
 the CIA’s so-called Terror War, which detailed
 torture techniques it used during the term of
 former US President George W. Bush.


________________________________



Ninth Humanitarian Convoy Returns
                to Russia from Donbass               
 
 The ninth convoy of humanitarian assistance
to the population of the Donbass regions has
now returned to Russia, after delivering over
 1,000 tons of food and basic necessities.

130 Ministry of Emergency Situations lorries
crossed the border today to Russian territory
 across Rostov province, says Rossia 24 TV.

The humanitarian aid, the 9th since mid-August,
 was food, basic staples, building materials for
 the recovery of the infrastructure destroyed by
 bombing, and devices for mobile power plants.

Over 50 vehicles moved the load to Donetsk,
 to alleviate the food shortage in the region,
say representatives of the self-proclaimed
 People's Republic of Donetsk in charge of
 distributing the reconstruction and social
aid to the population... with Russia's help.

Another 80 lorries took the aid to inhabitants
 of the neighboring region of Lugansk, also
 in a very serious humanitarian situation, due
to an economic, financial & energy embargo
 imposed by the Kiev coup authorities and
the consequences of the bombing on cities.

Civil defense sources say another convoy
could arrive by the year's end, to the south
 Ukrainian territories, which have received
over 10,700 tons of humanitarian aid so far.

Meanwhile, various Russian regions are
 sheltering 2,600,000 Ukrainian refugees,
 according to statistics from November,
 issued by the Federal Migration Service.



___________________________



Syrian Army Beats Off New
                IS Attack on Military Airport               
 
 After fierce fighting, the Syrian army has
beaten off a new attack by armed elements
of the Islamic State (IS) on Deir Ezzor military
 airport in the eastern province of Deir Ezzor,
 military sources report today.

Members of the terrorist organization tried
to infiltrate the Al-Jafra Quarter in order to
 get closer to the base in Deir Ezzor town,
 but they were defeated and retreated with
 heavy losses, says a spokesperson quoted
 by Masdar News agency.

"IS has been controlling this neighborhood
 for 11 days now. But, it has been unable
 to move forward, the spokesperson states.

Meanwhile, the 104th airborne brigade has
launched a counteroffensive to counter IS
 attacks in the nearby Al-Mariiyyah Quarters
with the support of units of 137th brigade,
 and militias.

The armed forces have recovered several
blocks of buildings in the area.

After the operation, military units control 70%
 of Al-Mariiyyah, while the IS keeps control of
 its southeastern perimeter.


________________________________



Patients ‘dying of hunger & cold’:
 WHO raises alarm over healthcare in Ukraine

A lack of doctors and medicines in the east
 Ukraine conflict zone, is putting lives at risk,
 says a new World Health Organization report,
 which describes the situation on the ground
as “not just a humanitarian crisis.”

“No child has been vaccinated in the areas
 affected by conflict since September 2014,
 sending polio vaccine coverage down to
 less than 30-40%,” the WHO report reads.

Fears of Ukraine becoming increasingly
 vulnerable to preventable diseases are
 becoming ever more real.

The report comes up with more “daunting”
 statistics in the section titled “Not just a
 humanitarian crisis,” where it talks about
 the first casualties of the botched health-
care system.

“About 40 patients in a mental health
 institution have reportedly died from
 hunger, cold and lack of care,” it says.

The WHO argues that 60 villages situated
 between the front lines of Kiev's troops and
 the rebels, have been left with no medical
 personnel at all.

 It also estimates that Lugansk city has
 only a third of the doctors and nurses
who used to work there.

“Universal health care exists only on paper,”
says Dorit Nitzan, the WHO representative
 for Ukraine. “People have to pay for a large
 amount of health services, buy their own
medicines and there are no set prices for
 these essentials.”

The WHO is trying to assist with mobile
 emergency units made up of one doctor,
two nurses and a logistician.

 The units deal primarily with internally
 displaced people, assess their health
 and try to refer them to any medical
services that still exist.

The Russian charity, Fair Aid, run by a famous
Russian philanthropist, Elizaveta Glinka - better
 known as just Doctor Liza – has been regularly
 transporting children with serious health
 problems, to medical institutions in Moscow.

She has already helped 36 children from Donetsk
 get treatment in the Russian capital. And she was
 accompanying another group of 13 children - 4 of
 them born this year, and others aged from 4 to 12
 years – on Wednesday.

“All the children I bring to Moscow are seriously
 ill - some of them have epilepsy with frequent
 seizures, some have congenital heart disorders,”
 Glinka tells RT’s Roman Kosarev, as the bus is
 about to set off from Donetsk.

Ivan Kravchenko, father of 3-year-old Ilya, who
 has heart disease, says Fair Aid was their last
hope.

“Surgeons are nowhere to be found – they’ve all
left,” says Ivan. “The fund found out about us
 and offered assistance...” Everything, from the
 trip to Moscow to the surgery itself, will be
 free of charge for Ilya.

The main challenge is safely passing the Ukraine
 part of the road from Donetsk to Konstantinovka
 on the border with Russia.

“There are checkpoints and the road is completely
 ruined by tanks,” Elizaveta Glinka says. “We'll have
 to hold our children tight - as you can see, we don't
have the prams we need - so we just have to draw
 them close to us and hold them with our hands.”


___________________________



‘Die-in’ for Eric Garner: Hundreds shut down mall,
 block streets in London protest

76 protesters were arrested after a large crowd
 stormed a London mall, blockaded roads, and
 shouted slogans against police brutality and
 a Staten Island grand jury’s ruling not to indict
 a police officer for Eric Garner's death.

Protests under the “We Can’t Breathe” slogan
 began near Westfield Shopping Centre in London.

Activists came out to support a recent wave of
 demonstrations in the US against the killing of
 African-American Eric Garner by white New
 York Police Officer, Daniel Pantaleo.

As the protest heated up, people occupied and
 shut down the shopping centre. The crowd was
 very lively, shouting slogans, jumping, and
waving banners.

After staging a “die-in” by lying on the floor,
 protesters walked out of the mall with their
 hands in the air, imitating surrendering to
 the police.

Activists then walked onto the streets
 and blockaded a main road in London.
 Some surrounded and stopped a bus.

The bus driver eventually stopped trying
 to make his way through the crowd and
posed for pictures with the activists.

Protesters repeatedly shouted: “What do
 we want? Justice! When do we want it?
 Now!”

After the action, London police surrounded
dozens of protesters and announced they
 would be arrested for “violent disorder.”

“We came out tonight to protest in solidarity
 with those in America, who are protesting
 against police brutality, the unlawful killing
 of Eric Garner...and the unlawful killing of so
 many black people both in America & in the
 UK,” one protester, Joanna, said to RT.
“We are here to say that it has to stop.”

She described how the crowd was
 kettled by police, that activists were
 “manhandled, and one was put in a
chokehold.” She stressed that the
 activists weren't doing anything illegal.

“We’ve been taken off one by one to police
 custody, where we are told that we will be
 charged with violent disorder, which is
 completely outrageous. All we’ve done here
today is show our solidarity,” she said.

Police said that those taken into custody
 broke away from the crowd, assaulted
security staff, and vandalized property.

The US too has witnessed protests across
 the country after a grand jury decision that
 acquitted a white New York police officer
of wrongdoing in the death of Eric Garner,
 a 43-year-old black Staten Island resident,
on July 17th.

The incident was videotaped by a passer-by
 and uploaded online, causing global outrage
 against US' police brutality.

The video shows the officer placing Garner
in an illegal chokehold while a group of other
officers force Garner to the ground. Garner,
who reportedly suffered from asthma, died
after repeatedly saying, “I can’t breathe” –
 a phrase that has become a backbone
 of the protests.

The jury’s decision in the Garner case follows
a Missouri grand jury's ruling not to indict a
white police officer in the death of Michael
 Brown, 18, who was shot multiple times
after a set to with police in Ferguson
Missouri, despite being unarmed.

Tuesday, protesters in Berkeley, California
shut down both sides of the I-80 freeway.


______________________



             Pope Francis Calls For Nuclear Disarmament             
 
 Pope Francis urges states with nuclear
arsenals, to get rid of them.

Nuclear weapons, his statement says, are
 an issue affecting all nations with negative
 consequences for future generations and
the planet.

The Pope says that nuclear deterrence and
 the threats of mutual destruction cannot be
the basis for coexistence and fraternity
among countries and peoples.

Our youngsters deserve a peaceful world,
ordered by values like respect, cooperation,
solidarity and compasion, says the text.

Pope Francis' message urges nations to
 join hands for disarmament and a safer
 world with responsibility, confidence and
 sincere dialogue.

He also condemns states spending on
weapons, which he considers a waste
 of riches and resources.

Piority should be given instead to programs
related to human development in areas like
 education, health and the eradication of
 poverty, says the message.

His statement is released at the
Conference on the Humanitarian
Impact of Nuclear Weapons.


______________________



70 Palestinian prisoners start
 hunger strike in Israel jails
 
Seventy Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails
 have started a hunger strike to protest against
the regime’s policy of solitary confinement, a
 prisoners' group says.

According to a statement by the Palestinian
 Prisoners Society, the protest action started
 on Tuesday in solidarity with detainees being
 held in solitary confinement, some of whom had
 already gone on hunger strike, to stop the policy.

The strikers are calling for an end to solitary
 confinement, and the release of ill prisoners.

Their strike is also in solidarity with Nahar
 al-Saadi, who’s been refusing meals since
 November 20th, to protest at being held in
solitary confinement.

Saadi’s demands include: end his confinement,
 allow family visits, & end solitary confinement
 for all the other prisoners.

Earlier, the group said that two other prisoners,
 Fahd Sawalha & Mahmoud Kleibim, also began
 a hunger strike on Saturday, in protest at their
 solitary confinement.

Reports say over 7,000 Palestinians are now
held in Israeli gaols, many of them without
 charge or trial.

Israel's Prison Service, the agency responsible
 for overseeing gaols, has come under criticism
 from human rights groups, for rampant rights
abuses in gaols.


_______________________



ISRAELI TROOPS MURDER TOP OFFICIAL

Israeli forces have killed a senior Palestinian
 official, at a protest rally near the occupied
 West Bank city of Ramallah.

According to Palestinian security sources on
 Wednesday, Ziad Abu Ein, who was in charge
 of  the issue of Israeli settlements within the
 Palestinian Authority, died after Israeli troops
 hit him with the butts of their weapons and
 their helmets, during the rally in the village
of Turmus Ayya.

Abu Ein "was martyred after being beaten in
the chest," says Ahmed Bitawi, the director
of Ramallah hospital.

The president of the Palestinian national unity
 government, Mahmud Abbas, condemns "the
 brutal assault that led to the martyrdom" of
Abu Ein, calling it "a barbaric act that can't
 be tolerated, or accepted."

"We will take the necessary measures after
the results of the investigation into the
 incident," Abbas says.

Tensions have been running high for weeks,
 in the West Bank & East Jerusalem/Al-Quds,
 over the desecration by Israeli troops of
 Al-Aqsa Mosque.


_______________________



Israel gives demolition orders to Palestinians

Israeli security forces have given demolition orders
 to the residents of homes and commercial stores
 in various parts of the occupied West Bank, as
 part of the regime's settlement expansion project.

Israeli troops invaded Silwan and Jabal al-Mukabir
 neighbourhoods on Tuesday and handed demolition
 orders to a number of Palestinian families, local
sources say.

The residents were told to leave their homes,
 because they were built “illegally.”

Similar orders were handed to the residents
 of Silwan, Jabal al-Mukabir and Sur Baher a
 day earlier.

In November, Human Rights Watch (HRW) urged
 Israel to end the destruction of Palestinian homes,
 saying the practice can amount to a “war crime.”

"Israel should impose an immediate moratorium
 on its policy of demolishing the family homes
of Palestinians," the HRW said.

The decision to destroy more Palestinian homes
 comes, as Tel Aviv continues with its illegal
 settlement expansion on Palestinian land.


_______________________________



Report on the CIA's Use of Torture and Lies
             Above All Expectations               
 
 The report to the US Senate beats all the
 calculations of those who expected the
worst.

The summary of a report released to the
 Senate's investigation of these operations,
 even after being sanitized by the CIA itself,
 is a portrait of depravity that is hard to
comprehend & even harder to stomach,
 says the New York Times.

The report
again raises the question of why
 no one has ever been held accountable for
these seeming crimes - not the top officials
 who set them in motion, the lower-level
 officials who committed the torture, or
those who covered it up, including by
destroying videotapes of the abuse and
by trying to block the Senate Intelligence
Committee's investigation of their acts.

At one point, the report says, the CIA
 assured Congress that the behavior of
the secret jailers and interrogators was
nothing like the horrors the world saw
at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. That's
 the closest the agency seems to have
come to the truth.

 What happened appears to have been
worse than what took place at Abu Ghraib.

The Senate committee's summary says
that the torture by CIA interrogators and
private contractors was "brutal and far
worse" than the agency has admitted to
the public, to Congress and the Justice
 Department, even to the White House.

In that, and other clandestine prisons,
very often no initial attempt was made
to question prisoners in a nonviolent
manner, despite CIA assertions to the
 contrary.

 "Instead, in many cases the most
 aggressive techniques were used
 immediately, in combination and
nonstop," states the summary of
the declassified and heavily
 censored document.

The CIA appears to have used water-
boarding on more than the three
detainees it has acknowledged
subjecting to that form of torture.

But "at no time" did the CIA's torture
program produce intelligence averting
 a terrorism threat, the report says.

According to The Hill, the 'Report on Torture'
 shows a great abbys between the confidence
of the intelligence community and members
 of Congress.

Obama's response? He appoints Brennan to say:

“Our review indicates that interrogations of detainees
 on whom EITs were used, did produce intelligence
 that helped thwart attack plans, capture terrorists,
 and save lives. The intelligence gained from the
 program was critical to our understanding of al-Qaida
 and continues to inform our counterterrorism efforts
 to this day,” Brennan says, defying the report's
main conclusion -- that the torture failed to stop
a single act of terror.


______________________



Russia warns against US missile bases in east Europe

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov warns that
 Moscow will show an adequate response to the US
 deployment of a costly missile system in Eastern
 Europe.

"We warn that at some stage of the development
of the American missile defense systems, we will
 have to take adequate measures to ensure our
own security," Lavrov says on Tuesday.

"We don't intend to get drawn into an expensive
arms race but we will provide the defensive
 capabilities of our country reliably," he adds.

Russia says US missile plans across the globe
 are a real threat, not only to Russia, but to the
whole world, adding that the missile systems
harm the global strategic balance of forces.

The remarks are made amid escalating tensions
 between the West and Russia over the crisis in
 Ukraine.

On October 10th, the US military commissioned
 its new missile base in southern Romania amid
 strong opposition by Russia.

The military base will be the first to feature the
Aegis Ashore ballistic missile system and it
will be operational by the end of 2015.

Several hundred American military, civilian and
 contract employees will be deployed to the site.

Another missile base is scheduled to become
 operational in Poland by 2018.

Last year, the Russian Defense Ministry confirmed
 that it deployed several Iskander ballistic missile
 systems, which are capable of carrying nuclear
warheads, in Kaliningrad.

The Iskander ballistic missile has a range of up to
 500 kilometers (about 300 miles) and travels at
hypersonic speed --- making it very difficult to
 intercept.

Their deployment came as a response to the
 development of a US missile system in Europe.


_____________________________



Ukraine military suspends combat operations in east

Ukrainian government troops have suspended their
military operations in the volatile east in preparation
 for a frontline ceasefire.

"The Ukrainian military has suspended all combat
 actions and is ready for the Day of Silence, but
if separatists attack, we will fire in response," a
Ukrainian army spokesman says on Tuesday.

Ukraine and the pro-Russia forces agreed on
 December 9th, to stop fighting across the
eastern conflict zone, under the terms of a
Kremlin-brokered ceasefire.

Also on Tuesday, the Russian Foreign Minister
 Sergei Lavrov says the contact group on Ukraine,
made up of pro-Russia forces fighting the Kiev
 government in the east, and officials from Kiev,
 Moscow and the Organization for Security and
 Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), will meet soon,
 to discuss the implementation of measures to
 uphold the truce in eastern Ukraine.

"In the coming days, a meeting of the contact
 group is planned, in which will be discussed a
 plan: with the aim of a final ceasefire," he says.

Ukraine’s mainly Russian-speaking regions in the
 east have witnessed deadly clashes between
pro-Russia forces and the Ukrainian army since
 Kiev launched military operations to silence
the pro-Moscow protests in mid-April.



__________________________



   UN: Opium Harvests Soaring in Southeast Asia 
            
 The UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) says
 in the findings of its annual Southeast Asia Opium
 Survey, that poppy cultivated in Myanmar and
Laos in 2014, reached 772 tons of opium.

Poppy cultivated in Myanmar and Laos in
2014 reached 63,800 hectares, up from
21,600 hectares in 2006.

The latest figure represents a rise in cultivation
for the eighth consecutive year, boosting an
industry estimated to be worth $16bn a year
in Southeast Asia.

Around 76 tons of heroine were made. That drug,
one of the most expensive, has a ready market
 in many other nations.

Myanmar is the world's second largest producer
of opium, with Afganistan now in first place.

The great demand for drugs motivates more
international crime cartels, says the report.

Poppy cultivation in the heroin-producing
 Golden Triangle, the area adjoining Myanmar,
 Laos and Thailand, has nearly tripled since
 2006, and is now a challange to the State
 and the Law, according to a new UN report.

According to Yuri Fedoto, Executive Director
of the UN agency, a lot of poor farmers depend
 on harvesting opium for survival, fuelled by an
 increase in consumption in the West, and made
easy because of the porous borders.


_________________________________



Protests in Front of US Congress
                Demand End to Police Brutality               
 
 Demonstrations took place in front of the US
 Congress and the Department of Justice on
Monday, demanding an investigation into the
 deaths of Afro Americans at the hands of
police officers in this country.

In the Capitol, a line of police officers stopped
the access of several dozen demonstrators,
 who carried posters and shouted slogans,
 condemning police brutality.

Spokespeople for the demonstrators demanded
 an international investigation into the most recent
crimes against Afro Americans by police officers,
and other public order forces.

The death of Michael Brown, an 18-year-old negro
 adolescent, assassinated by white police officer
 Darren Wilson in the city of Ferguson, Missouri, and
 the strangling of Eric Garner at hands of policeman
 Daniel Pantaleo, in New York, provoked energetic
 protests in over 170 US cities in the last weeks.

Another similar case occurred in Cleveland, Ohio,
 in November, when another police officer fired
his gun and killed a black 12-year-old child.

Other demonstrations took place last Saturday
 in Phoenix, Arizona, after people knew about
the death by two shots in his chest of Afro
American Rumain Brisbon, 34, by a white
police officer.


__________________________



Lebanon Strengthens Border Security with Syria  
             
Lebanese armed forces have strengthened their
 security on the border with Syria, after a marked
 increase in attacks by jihadist groups.

The military blocked roads in a mountainous
 area to prevent access by armed groups to the
 regions of Arsal, Wadi Atah and Wadi el Hons,
 located in the eastern Valley of the Bekaa.

In August extremists captured 30 Lebanese
army troops in Arsal and recently killed six
soldiers in an attack in Ras Baaleck area.


______________________________



Palestinian Prisoners In Israel
               Announce Hunger Strike               
 
 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails warn -
they will initiate an open hunger strike if
the prison authorities continue to ignore
demands by one of their fellow captives.

The detainees, members of the Islamic Jihad
 movement, are acting in solidarity with Nahar
al-Saadi, who 16 days ago refuses to eat food
after the authorities banned him from receiving
 family and medical visits and started to impose
 arbitrary punishments, constant searches and
 confiscated all his belongings.

Violations of the rights of Palestinian prisoners
 have increased in recent weeks, particularly
 solitary confinement & collective punishment,
 states the director of the Centre for Palestinian
 Prisoners Studies, Rafat Hamdouna.

5,000 plus Palestinians are in Israeli prisons,
  including women and children: hundreds of
 them under an administrative detention law
dating from UK colonial rule, according to
 which, any person may be arrested with-
out the right to legal assistance.


_____________________________



United Kingdom to Open
              military Base in Bahrain               
 
 UK Foreign Minister Philip Hammond today
 announces that his country is to open a
 permanent military base in Bahrain, aimed
 at reinforcing security in the Persian Gulf.

Hammond's communique was released by
 the local press this weekend, and it says
 that the base is believed to cost over 19
million euros.

The base will be first permanent UK base
 in the Middle East since 1971.

Hammond stresses that the opening of the
 base will extend the presence of the Royal
Navy and reinforce security in the region.

For his part, UK Defense Secretary Michael
Fallon says the new base is a permanent
expansion of the Royal Navy's footprint and
 will enable the UK to send more and larger
ships to "reinforce stability" in the Gulf.


__________________________



Israeli 'planes carried out 2 air assaults against
 an area of Damascus International Airport, and
 another airport in the town of Dimas, on Sunday.

The Syrian army issued a statement later in the
 day, saying the air attacks by Tel Aviv were
 aimed at helping the ISIL militants operating
 in the Arab country.

Israel has carried out several airstrikes in Syria
 since the start of the conflict there, in 2011.

+++++++++++++++++++

Israel must explain airstrikes on Syria: Russia

The Russian Foreign Ministry has expressed
 grave concern over Israel’s recent airstrike
 against Syria, calling on Tel Aviv to provide
 answers regarding the military aggression.

“Moscow is deeply worried by this dangerous
 development, the circumstances of which
 demand an explanation,” says Russian Foreign
 Ministry spokesperson Alexander Lukashevich.

Russia has sent a letter to the UN complaining
about Israel’s “aggressive action,” stressing
 that such attacks should not take place in
the future, he states.


________________________



Police Kill Another African American
                in Phoenix and Revive Tensions               
 
 New protests against racial discrimination
and the excessive use of police force have
reignited tensions in the US, after the death
 of another African-American, at the hands
 of the police, in Phoenix.

The US media highlights the death of Rumain
Brisbon, 34, who was shot twice in the chest
by a white police officer in a confusing drug
 trafficking incident on Tuesday.

The death of Brisbon has reignited the passion
 of the African American community in the US,
 which has returned to the streets in protests
over recent court decisions to exempt two
white police officers involved in violent acts
 that have taken the lives of Michael Brown,
Ferguson, and Eric Garner, in New York.

According to the police statement, Rumain
Brisbon was selling drugs when the police
asked him to raise his hands, but he didn't
obey the order.

Brisbon ran to an apartment building where
 a struggle began, during which the suspect
put his hands in his pockets, which, says
 the police report, caused the officer to think
that he had a gun.

The officer, identified only as a white man of
 30 years, shot him twice in the chest, which
caused Brisbon's death.

An inspection of his body showed that he had
 in his pockets a bottle of oxycodone, a drug
that's also used as a narcotic. The vehicle
driven by Brisbon contained marijuana and
 a semi-automatic rifle.

The victim had a long criminal record for
assault and robbery, says the local media.

Marci Kratter, attorney for the family Brisbon,
says witnesses contradict the police version.


______________________________



Russia Opens Criminal Case
            against Ukrainian Deputies            
 
 Russian Investigative Committee spokesperson
 Vladimir Markin confirms that the committee has
 opened a criminal case against three Ukrainian
deputies for backing a terrorist act in Chechnya
which left 14 dead, and 28 injured.

"The Investigative Committee of the Russian
 Federation, upon obtaining data on Ukrainian
 deputies Yury Beryoza, Andrei Levus and Igor
Mosiychuk, has opened a criminal case for an
offense under Article 205.2 of Russia's Criminal
Code (public calls for terrorist acts, or the
public approval of terrorism)," Markin says.

The three deputies praised the recent attack
by 11 Islamic terrorists, who attacked a road
patrol station in Grozny, in Russia's southern
Republic of Chechnya, on Thursday.

The attackers then found shelter in the city's
 Press House and a nearby school after killing
 police officers on patrol.

After killing the armed militants, Russian
 security forces found weapons caches
and over 20 bombs at the school.

Investigators believe that a series of attacks
were planned by the extremists in Chenchnya.

Yet Ukrainian deputy and ex chief of Ukraine's
 Security Service, Andriy Levus, says that the
counter-terrorist operation has caused outrage
]within the human rights movement, in Grozny.

Levus justifies the violent attack by the
 extremists, who are trying to create in the
 Caucasus, what the Islamic State is trying
 to create in the Middle East, by claiming
that they're "fighting for respect for their
constitutional rights."


________________________



Syria:---  Destroy all Weapons of
                Mass Destruction in Middle east               
 
 Syria''s Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal al Mekdad
 calls the use of any weapons of mass destruction
 "immoral" and demands that the Middle East be
made a nuclear-weapons-free zone.

The nuclear weapons that Israel, the US, UK and
 France persist in having as a deterrence strategy,
can destroy the planet five or six times in a few
minutes, says a report from Al Binaa daily.

The Syrian deputy Foreign minister recalls that
 Syria was one of the first countries to join The
Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear
 Weapons, in 1968.

Mekdad says his Government proposed declaring
 the region free of nuclear arsenals 11 years ago,
 but that Washington and its European allies
 rejected that initiative.

The deputy Foreign minister denounces Tel Aviv's
 big nuclear, biological, and chemical arsenals and
its refusal to destroy them.

He says Syria was unfairly accused of using
 chlorine gas, but then it was later proved that
armed groups were responsible for those
attacks.

With the complicity of the US, Saudi Arabia,
 and Turkey, rebels used chemical substances
 in order to blame the Damascus authorities.


__________________________


Kerry warns about release of US torture report:
and asks Finestein to delay the report's release.
 
US Secretary of State John Kerry has warned
 Senate Intelligence Chair, Dianne Feinstein,
 about the expected release of a report
criticizing US torture techniques.

In a phone call between Kerry & Feinstein
 on Friday, the top US diplomat asked the
senator to delay the release of the report.

State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki
states that he called his former colleague
 and made clear that the timing was, of
course, her choice.

“He wanted to make sure that foreign
policy implications were being appropriately
 factored into the timing,” she said. “These
 include our ongoing efforts against ISIL and
 the safety of Americans being held hostage
around the world.”

The release of the report about the CIA's
 use of torture methods could complicate
Washington’s foreign policy issues.

The US says ISIL terrorist group and other
 groups that hold American hostages would
execute them once the report is released.

At least 3 Americans, including a woman,
 are believed to be held by terrorist groups.

The torture program was launched under
 former president George W. Bush after the
Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade
 Centre in New York.

The report was scheduled to be released
 next week.


________________________



Ansarullah fighters take over Sana'a army academy

Shia fighters of the Ansarullah movement in Yemen
have reportedly seized the military academy in the
capital, Sana'a.

Witnesses say the Shia fighters of the Houthi tribe
 entered the academy on Friday with no resistance
 from the guards and stationed their patrols inside.

"The Houthis are now in control of the academy's
 gates,” said one witness.

Neither the Ansarullah nor the government is
 offering any comment.

The development comes a few days after Defense
 Minister Mahmoud al-Subaihi said that Ansarullah
 fighters might be allowed to join the Yemeni army.

Over the past few months, al-Qaeda militants have
 frequently carried out attacks on Yemen’s security
 forces and have been also locked in deadly battles
 with Ansarullah fighters.

The US and its ally, Saudi Arabia, have backed
the terrorists and armed, paid and trained them.

Yemen’s central government has so far failed to
 confront the terrorist threat. Ansarullah fighters,
 however, have intervened to fill the vacuum and
 driven al-Qaeda militants out of many areas.

In September, Ansarullah revolutionary fighters
 gained control over key government buildings
 in Sana’a, after weeks of demonstrations and a
 4--day battle with army forces loyal to General
Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar, a half-brother of Yemen’s
 former dictator, Ali Abdullah Saleh.

On November the 2nd, Yemen’s main political
parties, including Ansarullah revolutionaries,
 signed a UN-brokered truce, deal in a bid to
end Yemen's crippling political crisis.

On November 9th, Yemeni President Abd Rabbuh
 Mansur Hadi swore in Yemen’s new government,
 despite opposition from Ansarullah revolutionaries.

 They called for the replacement of a number of
 newly-appointed ministers, on the grounds of
 corruption and lacking qualifications.

The Ansarullah movement played a major role
 in the popular uprising which forced Saleh to
step down in 2012, after 33+ years in power.


______________________________



China's warships more than US by 2020: Report


We all learnt yesterday, that China is
 now larger, economically, than the US.

A report by a US congressional commission on
 China predicts now that China's military will
have
more warships than the US --- by 2020.

The number of China’s military vessels will
 reach about 351 within six years, The
Washington Post reports.

The US-China Economic & Security Review
 Commission has given its annual report to
the US Congress.

 The US Navy now has 289 deployable battle
 force ships.

The commission demands that Congress
 increase its Pacific fleet by up to 67 ships.

According to the commission, China's
 military spending is $131 billion this year,
almost 12.2% greater than last year.

The US Navy says it is concerned about
China’s
military plans.

Last year, the US Department of Defense said
in a report to Congress, that China will “likely
 build multiple aircraft carriers over the next
 decade. The first Chinese-built carrier will
 likely be operational sometime in the
second half of this decade.”

For several years, the US military has said
 that Washington might be losing its military
 superiority in areas such as fighter jets,
 missile systems and cyber warfare "soon".

China, for its part, is concerned about US
 militarism in the Asia-Pacific region.

Beijing sees the Pentagon’s Asia “pivot”
to the Pacific, and its increased military
presence there, as a strategy to counter
 China’s increasing global influence.


____________________________



New Agreement and Truce in Ukraine

The foreign ministers of the Organization for
 Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE)
 ended in Basel, with important agreements
 on European security and a new truce
 between the US-installed Kiev government
 and its opponents in the South East.


______________________________


 
Hezbollah missiles can level Israel
to ground: Iran general
 
An Iranian commander says missiles of the
 Lebanese resistance movement Hezbollah
 are capable of completely destroying Israel.

“Although the United States’ first mission is to
 ensure the security of the Zionist regime, today
 Hezbollah’s missiles can raze Israel to the ground,”
 says Brigadier General Esmail Qa’ani, the second-
in-command of Quds Force, a branch of Iran’s
Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC).

Today, missiles fired by Hezbollah at the Zionist
 regime, have such a range that they can reach
 even Gaza which is located beyond Israel, says
 the general, describing Israel as one of the most
 insecure spots in the world.

“A large number of missiles threatening Israel’s
 security today, are manufactured in this very
 Palestinian territory which, in many cases, has
difficulty providing [even] necessary foodstuff,”
 says the top commander.

Israel launched wars on Lebanon in 2000 and
 2006. About 1,200 Lebanese, mostly civilians,
were killed in the 33-Day War of 2006.

On both occasions, however, Hezbollah fighters
 defeated Israeli forces and Tel Aviv was forced
 to retreat without achieving any of its objectives.

Hezbollah says that it has both the capability
and courage to defend Lebanon and that the
 movement's missiles are ready to strike back
on "certain targets" in Israel in self-defense
--- if Tel Aviv launches an attack on Lebanon.



__________________________



              Russia Counteracts NATO in Eastern Europe               
 
 Russia's ambassador to NATO, Alexandr
Grushko, says that his country has begun
applying measures to counter the rising
presence of NATO's military in E. Europe.

NATO is handling the crisis in Ukraine to
 its own advantage, in order to justify its
 activity in the area and the war costs,
 declares the diplomat to the press.

Grushko stresses that Russia's response
will be well-analyzed, based on NATO's
 actions in the region.

According to the Russian diplomat, NATO
 admits that the flights over international
waters of the Baltic sea, authorized by
 Moscow, do not violate the established
regulations.

The majority of the block's Defense ministers
 indicate that the Russian planes operate in
 full accordance with the rule of International
 Law, and that the routine maneuvres do not
 represent any threat, he states.

Grushko points out that the relationship
between Russia and NATO is getting
closer to freezing point. The alliance
 will have to reassess its position on
 Moscow, he insists.

Russia has no shortage of partners on
the international scene, therefore, the
 projects we have carried out within the
framework of the Russia-NATO Council
 can be retaken with others, or taken
solo.


________________________



Russia Reinforces Defense in Arctic
                Region with New Command               
 
 The North United Strategic Command, Russia''s
 fifth Military District equipped with its own land,
 naval and air forces, and deployed beyond the
Arctic Circle, is officially established and now
carrying out its missions, local media report.

The nucleus for this new military structure will
be the Russian North Fleet, whose ships will
 join the maritime units of that armed corps, the
 official newspaper Rossiyskaya Gazeta reports.

Without revealing the exact composition of
the new command, the newspaper says that,
in addition to the North Fleet, it will be made
up of units from the West, Central, South and
East Military Districts, which were linked to
protecting the Arctic before these changes.

Since October, Russia has stationed army units
 integrated into the Single Tactic Group on its Arctic
 island. Those units are equipped with new weapons
 such as the Rubezh coastal missile systems and the
 Pantsir-S1 missile-cannon anti-aircraft complexes.

Military sources say that a land component of the
 new strategic command, made up of two Arctic
 brigades that must be fully operational by 2016,
is being created.

Mikhail Mizintsev, chief of the National Defense
 Centre, said recently that Russia will build 13
 aerodromes and an aviation polygon in the
Arctic region, where it will replace several
 radars and command posts of the Air Force.

For his part, President Vladimir Putin said
on November 25th that in order to improve
 the composition and structure of the Armed
 Forces, a unified strategic command would
be operational on December 1st in the Arctic.

Nikolai Patrushev, secretary of Russia's Security
 Council, has warned about the interests of such
 countries as the United States, Canada, Iceland,
Norway and Denmark in the Arctic region, and
their military mobilization, which has increased
 dramatically.


_____________________



   Syria Calls Coalition Air Strikes on IS Ineffective
               
Syrian President Bashar al Assad says that
 the international coalition''s air attacks, led
 by Washington, against the Islamic State (IS)
 terrorist group, are "ineffective".

In an interview with the French 'Paris Match'
 magazine, released on Thursday, and whose
 summary is reproduced by the state-run Sana
news agency, the president says that Syrian
 armed forces fighting against that radical
group have not seen any changes on the
ground, after the coalition's air strikes.

Al Assad repeats his denunciation of the
Turkish Government's support of terrorist
groups in Syria, chiefly IS, and warns that
his people will never accept being puppets
in the hands of Western powers.

The president says that Damascus will hold talks
 with any French Government that works with good
 intentions for the common benefit, but warns that
the government of Francois Hollande acts against
 the interests of both Syria and France.

Last month, Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal al
Mekdad accused Ankara and Paris of backing
 terrorist groups in this nation of the Levant.

Al Mekdad said that both Hollande and his
 Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan,
seek to divide Syria.



_______________________



UN urges Israel to renounce nuclear arms,
 join non-proliferation treaty

The UN General Assembly has passed an Arab-
introduced resolution calling on Israel not to
develop, produce or possess nuclear arms and
 criticizing the country for not being a party to
 the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear
 Weapons (NPT).

The resolution calls on Israel to "accede to that
 treaty without further delay, not to develop,
 produce test or otherwise acquire nuclear
weapons, to renounce possession of nuclear
 weapons," and put its nuclear facilities under
 the safeguard of the UN's International Atomic
 Energy Agency, AP reports.

The UN would like to see the whole of the Middle
 East as a nuclear weapons-free zone, according
 to the text of the document, which specifies that
Israel is the only country in the region which has
 not signed the non-proliferation treaty.

Israel, which is believed to have nuclear arms, but
 has never admitted to it, has long been under fire
 from Arab countries in the region for not putting its
 alleged stockpile under international supervision.

The resolution, initiated by Egypt, was approved
 by 161 nations with only five voting against it,
and 18 abstentions.

The United States and Canada were among the
 minority opposing the measure.

US representative Robert Wood, earlier condemned
 the resolution for failing “to meet the fundamental
 tests of fairness and balance.”

“It confines itself to expressions of concern about
 the activities of a single country," he said.

The International Atomic Energy Agency voted
 in September on a resolution, expressing concern
 over Israel's assumed nuclear arsenal. That time
 the resolution was rejected by 58 votes to 45.

In 2012, the United Nations General Assembly
 passed a non-binding call on Tel Aviv to join
the NPT “without further delay."

Israel rebuffed this call with a Foreign Ministry
statement that the UN has “lost all its credibility
 regarding Israel with these types of routine votes
 that are ensured passage by an automatic majority
 and which single out Israel."

Israel has repeatedly stressed that it sees Iran
 as the real nuclear threat in the region, urging
 the international community to do whatever it
 takes to thwart the 'Iranian nuclear problem'.

Tehran insists it’s not pursuing weapons and
that its nuclear effort is altogether peaceful.


_________________________________



Moscow Slams NATO over Ukraine

Russia accuses NATO of risking European peace
 with military drills linked to a spike in tensions
 over the Ukraine crisis.

Russia's deputy foreign minister Alexei Meshkov
 says that the US-led military alliance is "trying
 to destabilize the world's most stable region".

"Endless military exercises, the deployment of
 nuclear-capable planes to Baltic countries" will
 lead to the "destruction" of stability and security
 in the region, he tells Interfax news agency.

The comments came the same week as a
meeting of foreign ministers from NATO's
28 member states, meet in Brussels.

Talks are dominated by Ukraine, where fighting
 in the east between government forces and pro-
Russian separatist rebels has killed over 4,300
people and displaced one million, since April.

The West accuses Moscow of stoking the
conflict and has imposed sanctions against
Russia, sending relations plunging to Cold
War lows.

On the ground, Ukraine's military says its forces
and Russian generals have agreed a temporary
 ceasefire around an airport in rebel-held Donetsk
 that has been the focus of fighting for months.

A pro-Russian rebel leader confirms to media
outlets that top-level negotiations are ongoing
 and a final agreement is expected by today.

US President Obama and European Council
 chief Donald Tusk express their concern over
the Ukraine crisis, urging Russia to pull back
 from the country's east.

We "agreed on how important it is for Russia
 to withdraw from eastern Ukraine, to stop
supplying troops and equipment, to allow
effective control of the border," Tusk says
in a statement.

"The European Union and the United States
 continue working together closely, including
on sanctions as well as on financial support
 to Ukraine. We agreed to stay united and to
 keep a steady course."

Moscow fiercely rejects any claims that it is
involved in the fighting in east Ukraine but
gives open political backing to the rebels,
who now boast the heavy weaponry of a
 regular army.


________________________________



Russia in upgraded war of words with NATO

Russia slams NATO Secretary General Jens
 Stoltenberg over his anti-Moscow remarks,
saying NATO's boss repeats "idle inventions".

"Instead of doing some concrete work, looking
for a settlement of the Ukrainian internal conflict,
 Stoltenberg has joined in the efforts of propagating
 idle inventions about the supposed movements of
 Russian armaments across the Ukrainian border,"
 Russia's Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria
 Zakharova says in a statement.

The remarks made by Stoltenberg, who took the
 current position in October, were primarily based
 on principles and instructions that reflect the
 consolidated opinion of all 28 member countries
 of NATO, Zhkharova says.

"They bring grist to the mill of Kiev's party of war
 and are fraught with destructive effects on the
 fragile process of peaceful settlement of the
 Ukrainian internal crisis," she adds.

Stoltenberg says that the alliance has extensive
 evidence of the movement of Russian military
 equipment near Ukraine. He says the maneuvers
 Russian military aircraft have been conducting in
 Europe, have posed threats to civilian airlines.

The politician admits to NATO's increasing military
 presence in Eastern Europe, but attributes that to
 the need to prevent developments in Ukraine from
 "growing into a new Cold War".

Moscow insists that NATO prefers to fan up
anti-Russian sentiment, to justify its plans to
 strengthen its defense potential and build up
 its military presence near Russia's borders.

"This creates serious security risks in the
 Euro-Atlantic region," Zakharova says.

Russia & NATO have severely strained ties
 since the Ukraine crisis. Since April, NATO
 has ended all practical cooperation with
Russia, only maintaining contacts at
ambassadorial and higher levels.


_________________________



Police in Ferguson React
            to Protests by Rams Soccer Players               
 
 Police officers from Ferguson say today
that six members of the football team
 St. Louis Rams, have been "punished"
for going onto the field with their hands
 up, to protest about the murder of the
African-American, Michael Brown.

The Association of St. Louis police officers
says that it was "deeply disappointed" with
 the demonstration by the athletes from the
National Soccer League (NSL), which they
describe as "offensive and incendiary".

They also claim that the players involved
were punished and that the league and
the team have issued a public apology.

The protest occurred on Sunday, minutes
before the beginning of the game between
 the St. Louis Rams and the Oakland Raiders,
 when Afro-American players Tavon Austin,
 Kenny Britt, Edward Jones Dome, Jared Cook,
 Stedman Bailey and Chris Givens, went out
onto the field, with their hands up.

The slogan "hands up, do not shoot" is being
 used by demonstrators who disagree with a
 decision by a county grand jury in St. Louis,
 not to charge officer Darren Wilson, who was
responsible for Brown's death, on August 9th.

Some witnesses state that Brown, a black
18 year old teenager, had put his hands up
 before receiving six shots fired by white
police officer Wilson.


_____________________



Right-Wing Continues Losing in
Latin America, says Topolansky
               
Lucia Topolansky, a re-elected senator and
Uruguay's First Lady, believes that the recent
elections in Latin America, from Venezuela in
2013, to Uruguay last Sunday, prove that "the
right-wing is losing in the region".

In an interview for the newspaper Pagina 12,
 Topolansky, President Jose Mujica's wife, a
former guerrilla member and political prisoner
 during the US-backed Uruguayan dictatorship,
 highlights the importance of regional integration
 and the relationship between her country and
 Argentina.

Topolansky, who described herself as "a left-
wing woman seeking socialism", believes that
 Latin America's left-wing lacks theorizing and
should "add theory to these processes and
the concept of populism".

By 'Populism', she refers to the label used by the
 right-wing, calling leaders of the region populist.

She highlights popular projects and revolutionary
 processes that have led to a change of direction
in Latin American politics.

"The most striking was when Cuban President Raul
 Castro received the presidency of the Community of
 Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), from
 Sebastian Piñera:-- that picture would had been
 impossible 15 years ago", says Mrs Topolansky, a
senator for the Movement of Popular Participation.

From her standpoint, Brazilian Frei Betto gives
 the best definition about what is happening in
 Latin America in the statement: "Now people
elect presidents with human faces".

As a Uruguayan politician, Topolansky says
 that she cares "too much about what happens
 in Argentina and Brazil, because we're defined
 a lot by both countries'.


_________________________



At Least 21 Million People Suffer Modern Slavery
 
Human rights experts from the United Nations say
 that at least 21 million human beings on the planet
 are now suffering from several contemporary ways
of slavery and they demand the use of political will
to eradicate this shameful practice.

Forced labour in mines & farms, sexual exploitation
 and several "informal economy" jobs under similar
conditions to the ones suffered by slaves in the past,
 are listed as among the modern manifestations of
 slavery.

Women and children are the most affected
 people, says the UN Special Rapporteur for
Contemporary Ways of Slavery, Urmila Bhoola,
a South African lawyer, who adds that statistics
 on the problem do not include the 168 million
 children submitted to infant labour, some of
 them involved in quite dangerous tasks.

"We need countries to fulfill their respective
 obligations on international laws. We need
them to show a greater commitment to
eradicate the problem," says the UN
rapporteur, in a speech on a joint
 declaration on the Day for Abolition of
 Slavery, which is celebrated today.

 The special rapporteur for the Sale and Sexual
 Exploitation of Children, Maud de Boer-Buquicchio,
 complains that millions of minors suffer slavery.

Slavery will only be able to be fought in an effective
way if systems are adopted for the protection of the
 child, including the prevention of the risks and the
 early identification of the victims, he says.

In the joint declaration, the special rapporteur for
 the Trafficking of People, Grazia Giammarinaro,
 demands the existence of mechanisms of justice
 and compensation, at a world level.

"Human victims of contemporary forms of slavery
 should have access to compensation and support,
 regardless of their immigration status or otherwise."

Bhoola, de Boer-Buquicchio & Giammarinaro
 both call for ongoing negotiations to secure
the sustainable development agenda after
2015, to take account of eradicating the
scourge of slavery.


_______________________



Tension Decreases in Cairo
Tahrir Square Reopened 
              
Tahrir Square in downtown Cairo is open today
 after being
closed for about 2 days for security
reasons, as well as one of the metro stations.

The area in Cairo gained notoriety during the
popular uprising that put an end to the over
30-year-old regime of Hosni Mubarak, and
then the opposition to the now imprisoned
Mohamed Morsi.

The surrounding of the famous crossroad of
avenues, and the blockade of Gamal Abdel
 Nasser subway, continues under the custody
 of the Army, deployed since last Thursday as
 a precaution against an announced Islamic
 revolution.

The Islamist summoning, to which the Muslim
 Brotherhood (MB) responded, was not warmly
 met by the population. But the exoneration of
 Mubarak, two of his children, and a former
 Minister of the Interior, unleashed a wave of
 mass rejection.

Tahrir and the surrounding areas were the stage
 of a mass protest on Saturday, in which 3 people
 died, due to the exoneration of Mubarak and ex
minister Habib el Adli, accused of allowing the
death of more than 800 demonstrators during
opposition demonstrations in 2011.


_______________________



              US Laws Encourage Armed Violence               
 
The rise of violence in the United States is
 directly linked to the existence of state laws
that allow the carrying of firearms, reveals
 new research published today.

The investigation, carried out by experts of 
Stanford and John Hopkins
universities USA,
 rejects the results of previous reports made
with empirical conclusions which asserted
that
the carrying of firearms by US citizens
results in
a reduction of all kinds of crimes.

'The evidence, based on data between 1979-2010
 suggests that laws on the right to carry arms are
 associated with substantially higher rates of both
attacks
and murders, notes the law professor of
Stanford
University, John Donohue, co-author of
the report.


Although there's no federal law that allows people
to carry guns when they are in public places, 50
states of the Union have adopted statutes that do
allow citizens to carry the devices in public places
-- with a permit from the local authorities, adds the
 specialist.

Since 2009 there have been over 50 massacres
 with guns in the US, the worst of which occurred
 in December 2012, at a school in Newtown,
 Connecticut, where 20 children and 6 adults died.

President Barack Obama launched an offensive
 in 2013 to regulate the sale and use of weapons
 in the country, but he faced strong opposition from
 right-wing groups and the National Rifle Association
who lobbied on behalf of the makers of the devices.


______________________________________



Israeli agents training MKO terrorists in Jordan

 Israel is training members of the anti-Iran terrorist
 Mujahedin-e Khalq Organization (MKO) in Jordan
 along the border with Saudi Arabia -- to carry out
 acts of terror inside Iran and neighboring Iraq,
Press TV has learnt.

According to sources, who decline to be named,
MKO terrorists are undergoing training on how
to conduct terrorist operations in Iran and Iraq,
 and are receiving technical and information
technology (IT) training from Israeli agents.
 
It is the first time it is revealed that anti-Iran
 MKO terrorists are being trained in Jordan
 along the border with Saudi Arabia.

Earlier reports revealed that radical extremists
 are receiving terror training in Jordan before being
 sent into Syria and Iraq to carry out bomb attacks
 and join the ranks of al-Qaeda-affiliated al-Nusra
 Front, ISIL Takfiri militants and other terrorist
 groups operating inside both violence-plagued
 Arab countries.

The MKO fled to Iraq in 1986, where it enjoyed
 the support of Iraq's executed dictator Saddam
 Hussein, and set up its camp near Iran's border.

The group is also known to have cooperated with
 Saddam Hussein in suppressing the 1991 uprisings
 in southern Iraq and carrying out the massacre of
 Iraqi Kurds.

The MKO has carried out numerous acts of violence
 against Iranian civilians and government officials.

Out of the nearly 17,000 Iranians killed in terrorist
 attacks since the victory of Iran’s 1979 Islamic
 Revolution, 12,000 have fallen victim to the acts
 of terror carried out by the MKO.



__________________________



US "PIVOT TO ASIA" INCLUDES
RE-ARMING JAPAN 

The United States is set to provide Japan with
a number of amphibious vehicles amid tensions
 between Tokyo and Beijing over disputed islands
 in the East China Sea.

A Defense Ministry official says on Monday that
 Japan plans to buy 52 amphibious vehicles in
 2018, but it has not decided on a model yet,
 Stars and Stripes reports.

The military deal comes as the disputed islands,
called Diaoyu in Chinese and Senkaku in Japanese,
 have been a source of tension between Japan and
 China for decades.

Japan claimed to nationalize a part of the island
 chain by buying them back from private ownership.

Last year, China established an Air Defense
Identification Zone over the East China Sea,
 urging all military and commercial aircraft to
 inform the Chinese government before
entering the region.

However, the United States and Japan violated
the air zone several times after the declaration.

Japan and China have scrambled fighter jets
over the islands during the past two years.

The Japanese government now wants to assemble
a Marines-like unit within its Self-Defense Forces.

A spokesman from Japan’s Defense Ministry said
 the Amphibious Assault Vehicle (AAV-7) is among
 the country’s options.

“We have purchased four AAV-7s in fiscal 2013 and
 two AAV-7s in fiscal 2014 as samples for reference,”
 the unnamed spokesman said.

According to the spokesman, the Defense Ministry
 started reviewing options in April, but it has not
decided on a model yet.


___________________________



                 Forum for Peace in Bogota Next Sunday               
 
Representatives of the party Union Patriótica
 have arranged a forum for peace in Colombia's
 capital to be held next Sunday, to promote the
peace talks as a way out of the armed conflict
 --- and for social justice.

The meeting will be headed by Aida Avella,
UP president, and the party invites Bogota
citizens to take part in the forum to be held
at the District University.

With these meetings we contribute to build
 a peaceful scenario - of reconciliation - which
 includes all the sectors hit by violence, says
 a UP press release.

As of right now - it adds - we must begin to
 build the peace that the country needs.

Internal confrontations, over the last 50
 years, have left about six million victims,
 among them, 230 thousand dead.

Social activists and cultural groups have
recently held an artistic event to paint the
walls of Bogota with drawings & messages
 calling for peace.

Recently interrupted peace talks held by
the government and the Revolutionary
Armed Forces of Colombia-Peoples Army
 (FARC-EP), were pursuing an end to the
 armed conflict.

The negotiating process was stopped by
 president Juan Manuel Santos, after the
capture of general Ruben Dario Alzate by
 the guerrilla movement in the department
 of Chocoacute.

Once the high official and those with
 him (lawyer Gloria Urrego and corporal
 Jorge Rodriguez) are freed, negotiations
 should be reestablished in Havana, the
venue of the peace talks since 2012.

Their release is to occur next Sunday,
states FARC-EP.

The Union Patriotica party regained its
 legal right to exist in 2013.

Created in 1985, the UP was a victim
of political
genocide in the 1990s.


______________________________



Former Israeli President against
                 Declaring Israel a Jewish State               
 
 Former president Shimon Peres joins the
rejection of other Israeli important figures
 to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu''s
motion declaring in law, the exclusively
Jewish nature of the Israeli State.

"The law is motivated by political interests,
will damage the image of the State, and will
 erode the Israeli democratic principles," says
 Peres at a ceremony attended by Netanyahu.

The current Israeli president, Reuven Rivlin, a
member of the ultra right Zionist coalition Likud,
as well as Netanyahu, expressed a similar opinion
 after Israel's General Attorney, Yehuda Weinstein,
 stated that the motion weakens the country's
 democratic nature.

For its part, the Palestinian Government condemns
 the measure for its racist nature, and lists among
its consequences the loss of rights of Palestinian
 residents in Israeli territory, who are over one
 million 600,000, or 20% of the population.

The recognition by Palestinians of Israel as a
Jewish State was one of the conditions imposed
 by Netanyahu to resume peace talks started in
July 2013 and closed in April this year after the
 formation of a Government of unity in the still
occupied territories.


______________________________________



US Fourth Infantry Division Will Deploy to Ukraine
               
 Fort Carson''s 4th Infantry Division will be deployed
 in Ukraine at the begining of next January 2015,
 according to The Colorado Springs Gazette.

The Army hasn't said how long the division will be
 overseas, leaving the deployment indefinite and
 the day of departure unknown.

US European Command says the division will head
 to Europe in early 2015, to lead ground forces in
 "Operation Atlantic Resolve."

"Operation Atlantic Resolve is a continued
 demonstration of the US' commitment to
 the collective security of our NATO allies
 and support for our partners in Europe."
 European Command says in a news release.

"The operation will remain in place as long
 as required to reassure our allies."

Leaders from the division will run a series of
training exercises to ensure that US forces are
 ready to fight alongside their partners in Europe
 and they are still developing plans for how they
 will support the open-ended troop commitment
 in Europe.

Fort Carson got the call as part of the Army's
 new "regionally-aligned forces" plan.

That assigns US based units to overseas
 areas of responsibility. In the division's case,
 troops in Colorado Springs will get specialized
training in European languages and culture.

Russia's authorities consistently denounce the
 military reinforcement of NATO in Ukraine and
 other nearby countries, which present a threat
 to Russia's security.


____________________________


FFIRI condemns Israel raid on
Palestine football association

 The Football Federation of the Islamic Republic
 of Iran (FFIRI) has censured the latest Israeli
 raid on the Palestinian Football Association
(PFA) in the occupied West Bank.

“The military campaign of the Zionist regime
(of Israel) against the oppressed people of
Gaza constantly preys on our mind, as the
 regime commits another act of folly in
 violation of sport's international laws and
 regulations,” the FFIRI says in a statement.

The statement terms Israel’s attack on the
premises of the PFA as illogical and contrary
 to the rules set by FIFA, which specifically
 bar any form of state political involvement
 and/or military action in soccer.

The FFIRI calls on members of the international
 community, especially the governing bodies for
 football worldwide, to condemn the incident.

On Tuesday, FIFA and the Asian Football
 Confederation (AFC) decried the assault
on the Palestinian soccer body.

On Monday, Israeli soldiers broke into the
PFA's headquarters in the Palestinian town of
 al-Ram, situated eight kilometers (4.9 miles)
north of al-Quds (Jerusalem), ransacked it
 and assaulted its employees.

PFA President Jibril Rajoub says the raid
was an attempt by the Tel Aviv regime to
undermine Palestinian sports, and calls for
international condemnation of the incident.

Israel's regime has imposed travel restrictions
 on Palestinian footballers in the occupied West
Bank and besieged Gaza Strip.

Despite all obstacles, Palestinians managed in
 May, to qualify for the 16th edition of the AFC
 Asian Cup, scheduled to be held in Australia
 from January the 9th to the 31st, in 2015.


__________________________________



US may be helping ISIL terrorists in Iraq: Officials

‘US pursues agenda of Syria destruction’
‘US double game targets Syria gov’t’

Iraqi officials say that the US-led coalition against
 ISIL Takfiri terrorists may have intentionally dropped
 arms for the militant group, Press TV reports.

“The airstrikes cannot defeat ISIL and liberate the
 cities. We hear that in some places the warplanes
 drop weapons for ISIL... What we know is that the
 victories achieved on the ground are done by the
 Iraqi army and volunteers,” Iraqi State of Law
 Coalition MP Hanan Fatlawi told the Press TV
 correspondent in Baghdad.

On October 22, the US admitted that one of the
 weapon airdrops intended for Kurds fighting in
the Syrian town of Kobani was almost certainly
 intercepted by ISIL terrorists.

“The presence of international advisers in such
 huge numbers is not necessary. We are in a war
 and this is not the time for training, it’s the time
 for fighting. I think this is an effort by the US to
come back to Iraq,” Fatlawi added.

Washington has launched hundreds of airstrikes
 against the ISIL militants in Iraq and Syria, which
 analysts regard as part of the US attempts to
 gradually spread its influence in Iraq.

The Takfiri militants have been carrying out
horrific acts of violence, including public
decapitations and crucifixions, against all
Syrian and Iraqi communities such as Shias,
Sunnis, Kurds, Christians and Izadi Kurds.

The West and its regional allies, including
Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey, are giving
 financial & military support to the militants.


_________________________



EU AND US DON'T HAVE
SOLUTION ON UKRAINE

The European Union & the United States have
 no idea what the final solution to the Ukraine
 crisis should be. Nor do they know the vector
of movement towards this settlement, Vladimir
 Chizhov, Russia’s Ambassador to the European
 Union, said in a live interview aired by the state-
owned Rossiya 24 television news channel on
 Wednesday.

“They (the European Union & the United States)
 are driving, or have already driven themselves,
 into a corner. They were very much unwilling to
 recognize their responsibility for what happened
 in Ukraine. It’s only now that sober-minded and
 reasonable voices have started breaking through
 the propaganda noise,” Chizhov said.


_____________________________



UN rights chief: Disproportionate number
 of blacks killed by police

The United Nations human rights chief voices
 concern over “institutionalized discrimination”
 and the “disproportionate” number of young
 African Americans being killed by police in
 the United States.

“I am deeply concerned at the disproportionate
 number of young African Americans who die in
 encounters with police officers, as well as the
 disproportionate number of African Americans
in US prisons and the disproportionate number
of African Americans on death row,” says Zeid
Ra’ad Al Hussein, the UN High Commissioner
for Human Rights, in a statement.

His comments come after a grand jury in Missouri
fails to indict a white police officer for the fatal
 shooting of unarmed African American teenager
 Michael Brown in Ferguson.

The 12-member jury, including nine whites and
three African Americans, had been meeting in
 secret for months on whether probable cause
 existed to bring charges against Darren Wilson.

The decision has sparked a fresh firestorm of
 protests across the United States.

The UN rights chief warns that there is a deep
 lack of confidence in the fairness of the justice
 system in the United States, and urges the
 authorities to thoroughly examine how “race-
related issues are affecting law enforcement
and the administration of justice, both at the
 federal and state levels.”

To many protesters, Brown’s death is symbolic
 of broader racial injustice in America.
 
In 2012, African American man Trayvon Martin
 was gunned down by a white Florida neighbor-
hood watch --- later acquitted of murder.


__________________________



50 civilians dead in US-led airstrikes
 against ISIS in Syria – UN

The US-led coalition against the Islamic State (IS,
 formerly ISIS/ISIL) in Syria has killed 865 people
 since the start of the airstrikes in late September,
at least 50 of them civilians, a new report from
 the UN chief reveals.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon warns that the
 strikes alone cannot defeat the militant Islamist
 group and cites estimates of civilian casualties
 caused by the bombing.

“The international coalition continued airstrikes
 against ISIL in Syria on a near-daily basis with
 reports of some 865 people killed, including 50
 civilians, in Aleppo, Deir ez-Zor, Hasakeh, Idlib
 & Raqqa since strikes began,” the report says.

Meanwhile, “armed opposition and designated
 terrorist groups continue shelling government-
controlled areas, including in civilian-populated
 areas... including in Damascus, Homs, Hama
and Quneitra,” according to the report.

Ban warns that “a military campaign alone
[against IS] could lead to further radicalization
 and spark a cycle of renewed violence,” adding
 that Islamic State is intensifying its recruitment
efforts inside and outside of Syria.

The document focuses on the July 14 resolution,
 which approved delivery of aid to rebel-held areas
 in Syria without the government's approval through
four border crossings. Ban confirms that the UN
 team has been able to access an average of 66
hard to reach areas a month since the resolution
 was passed, up from an average of 38 per month
 in the four months prior to the vote.

Following the report, UN humanitarian chief Valerie
 Amos told the Security Council that an estimated
  12.2 million people need assistance in Syria – a
rise from 10.8 million in July. At the same time,
Amos said that aid coming in from Turkey and
 Jordan is making a difference and called on the
 UNSC to extend the authorization that expires
 on January 9th.

Critics of the US-led bombing warfare against ISIS
 in Iraq and Syria assert that not only is this tactic
 ineffective – it also encourages more people to
join radical groups.

“It's completely unsuccessful from the standpoint
of destroying ISIS, but it’s an enormous success
 story for ISIS. It is actually helping the Sunni
Islamists recruit new people – over a thousand
every month from across Asia, Africa, and the
 Middle East,” retired US Army Colonel Douglas
 MacGregor explains to RT.

According to MacGregor, Washington should not
 step into the conflict and should leave it at the
 regional level.


_________________________



Russian Navy checks Nuclear Capability
                 and Adds New Units               
 
 The Russian Navy this year has tested its
 nuclear deterrent and strengthened its
 potential with new naval units, say its
 senior officers.

Admiral Vladimir Korolev, head of the Northern
 Fleet, says that the squadron in charge of the
atomic deterrent reaffirms its ability to fulfill
 the assigned missions.

Korolev highlights the high combat capability
 demonstrated this year.

He commends the missions carried out effectively
 by Navy troops in repaired or upgraded submarines.

This year, the Pacific Fleet has already received
 the first 10 of 12 craft which increase its potential
power, according to the spokesperson for the East
Military District, Captain Roman Martov.

It's the first time that the squadron has received
 this number of new ships in a year, since the
 collapse of the Soviet Union, says the official.

The Pacific Fleet will also receive tugboats
RB-406 and RB-407.

This number of special and auxiliary units
 enhances the combat effectiveness of the
 squadron, concludes the official.

Russia is modernizing its arsenal amid the
 growing hostility of the United States and
 NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization),
 that has already deployed forces and arms
 in countries bordering Russia, a situation
 that didn't exist in the worst moments of
the Cold War.


_________________________



U.S. defense secretary resigns

Obama on Monday announced the resignation of
 Chuck Hagel as the country's defense secretary,
 making the first change to his cabinet after the
 Democrats' heavy losses in midterm elections.


_________________________



Iranian nuclear talks extended by 7 months
   
 The sides will meet again in December to discuss
 the tough Iranian nuclear issue, and the expert-
level meeting will start soon, aimed at a political
 deal within four months, US Secretary of State,
 John Kerry, told reporters on Monday.


Kerry said that expert-level talks will start soon.
 "In fact we will have meetings in December,"
he noted.

Speaking at a press conference, Kerry said they
had achieved "real and substantial progress" on
 Iran's nuclear issue in the past negotiations and
this lays the foundations for further talks in the
next months.

"These last days in Vienna, we have made real
 and substantial progress, and we have seen
 new ideas surface," Kerry said.

After a week of difficult talks, the parties
involved decided to extend Iran's nuclear
talks by seven months, aiming to reach a
 political agreement within the next four
months, Kerry said.

Kerry stressed that even though the talks
 are not finalized "the world is safer than
 it was just one year ago."

"We are closer to a deal," he said, adding
that a comprehensive agreement is
 "possible" and "desirable."

Iran has 19,000 centrifuges installed, of
 which 10,190 are operating. Most are IR-1,
 an old model centrifuge, and Iran has also
installed around 1,000 IR-2M centrifuges,
 which are assessed to be 3 to 5 times
 more efficient than IR-1 centrifuges.

Israel openly questions the nuclear talks,
 fearing that a "bad nuclear deal" could
 undermine its security. It leaves as "open"
the possibility of military action against
 Iran's nuclear facilities.

Recent nuclear talks between Iran and
 world powers over the country's nuclear
issue have been " steps forward," Iran's
President Hassan Rouhani said Monday.

"Although in the recent nuclear talks we
could not finalize a comprehensive deal,
I could say that forward steps have been
 taken in the run-up for a final agreement,"
Rouhani said in an interview with IRIB TV
following Iran's agreement with the world
powers in Vienna on Monday to extend the
 nuclear talks for another seven months.

The White House warned on Monday that
 additional sanctions on Iran would be
 "counterproductive"..... as the Islamic
 republic and major powers had agreed
 to extend their nuclear talks for seven
more months.

"We continue to believe that adding on
 sanctions while negotiations are ongoing
 would be counterproductive," spokes-
person Josh Earnest said, in response
 to some lawmakers clamoring for more
 sanctions on Tehran after negotiators
failed to close a final deal by Monday's
 previous deadline after long intense
 talks in Vienna, Austria. 


____________________________



Obama’s U-Turn on Afghanistan:
US Combat Role Secretly Extended

US President Barack Obama has secretly signed
 an order which allows US troops to be involved in
 combat operations in Afghanistan throughout 2015.

The order will authorize American forces to continue
 their missions against the Taliban and other militant
groups, the New York Times reports.

The new order also allows for air support - from
US jets, bombers and drones, for Afghan combat
missions, according to the report,.

The Times quotes an administration official
as saying that US forces will not carry out
 "offensive missions" on the Taliban in 2015.

“We will no longer target belligerents solely
because they are members of the Taliban,”
 the official said. “To the extent that Taliban
 members directly threaten the United States
and coalition forces in Afghanistan or provide
 direct support to Al Qaeda, however, we will
 take appropriate measures to keep Americans
 safe.”

Obama’s new decision has been made in recent
 weeks with his top national security advisors.

Previously, the president said that US-led NATO
 combat operations would finish at the end of
this year.

The NATO follow up mission, to take over on
January 1st with 9,800 US troops and about
3,000 soldiers from Germany, Italy and other
 member nations, was to focus on supporting
 Afghan forces as they take on the Taliban, in
 parallel with US counter-terrorism operations.



________________________________



         Russian FM Urges Recognition of Palestinian State                
 The Russian Foreign Affairs Minister, Sergei Lavrov
today urges an end to the long armed conflict with
 Israel, and the illegal occupation of Palestinian
 territories, and presses as a solution, recognition
 of the Palestinian State.

During his address to the meeting of the Council
 for Foreign Policy and Defense, Lavrov says the
 question of a Palestinian state should no longer
be frozen.

"It is important to understand that problems can
not continue in deep freeze all the time, while the
 Arab-Israeli conflict is still at a standstill, notes
 the head of Russian diplomacy.

The situation in the Palestinian territories,
 Syria, Libya, Iraq and Yemen and the overall
  convulsive situation in the Middle East, was
discussed the previous evening, by Lavrov
and his counterpart from Saudi Arabia, Saud
 al Faisal, during official talks in Moscow.

The leaders of the Palestinian Authority demand
 that the UN Security Council force Israel to end
 the illegal occupation of Palestinian territories in
 the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, as a factor in
 the escalation of confrontation and the rise in
civilian deaths on both sides.



________________________________



West Hopes for a Change of Regime
               in Russia Says FM               
 
 The West has the deliberate intention of
destroying Russia's economy and changing
 the government regime and does not hide it
 today, stresses Russian Foreign Minister,
 Sergei Lavrov.

The purpose of Western sanctions is to
change the regime, and it does not even
 hide it, stresses Lavrov, in his address to
 the assembly of the Council for Foreign
policy and defense.

He says Western leaders speak publicly
 that restrictive measures should be such
 so that they can destroy our economy and
 raise popular protests in the country.

In the election campaign of President Vladimir
 Putin for a third term, Russian pro-Western
 opposition parties called, in February 2012,
 for massive demonstrations to be held in a
so-called anti-Putin Million March, in May,
after his presidential inauguration.

Lavrov considers the West is trying to act in a
 'thirst for widening the geopolitical space', as
 traders fears of losing their benefits are obvious.

The foreign minister repeats that the sanctions
 imposed by the US, EU and some allies are also
 detrimental to the promoting countries, besides
 destroying the main principles of international
 economic relations, he adds.

He also denies that such instruments of pressure,
 used in other global contexts, has achieved the
 political isolation of Russia, which is revealed
as having multiple links with many countries,
 all over the world.


____________________________



Salam on Lebanon's Independence Day:

 "Country holds fast so far, We support
 any means to release kidnapped
soldiers -- As long as they respect
 Lebanon's rights

PM Tammam Salam decries the Lebanon's
 current situation, contrasting today's leaders
 with the leading figures during independence,
but accepts that the country's present state
 results from the accumulated malpractices
of many years that have passed since.

"Nobody is exempt from the situation Lebanon
 is currently suffering from, but responsibility
falls upon the leaders," Salam tells "Voice of
 Lebanon" radio, on Independence Day.

Salam adds that he has been trying to put
things
on the right track, but "it is tough
and hard".

 
"Despite that, the present situation in Lebanon
 is sound -- so far," the PM says, expressing his
 concern over immature political performances
 by some leaders, which might disrupt finding
any political solutions to the current crisis
and could drive the country to a deadlock.
 
Commenting on claims that it takes more than
agreements to build a country, Salam says:
 "In a diversified country like Lebanon,
agreements among its citizens are basic
 to keep it healthy."
 
Talking about what lies behind the failure of
to reach a Lebanese-Lebanese consensus,
 Salam notes that foreign countries play an
 important role in the achievement of such
 settlements, adding that foreign forces are
 currently occupied in more dangerous issues
 of a higher priority than Lebanon.

Salam stresses the importance of internal
agreement among all parties for "no party
 can triumph over the other," underscoring
that agreement has obviously recognisable
 characteristics, primarily dialogue, open-
ness and recognition of the other.

Talking about UN Security Council statements
 which call on the Lebanese to speed up the
 election of a new President, Salam says:
 "It seems that the international referees
are keen to treat Lebanon's situation in
a positive manner."

Responding to a question about the extent to
which Speaker Nabih Berri's call for dialogue
 between the "Future" movement and Hizbullah
 has succeeded, Salam confirms that Speaker
Berri "enjoys a special place that enables him
 to follow up on this issue… and employ his
 capabilities to find appropriate solutions."

Talking about the economic situation, he
 considers that the power void negatively
affects the economic situation,  not to
 mention the repercussions on Lebanon
 of Syria's population displacement.

Tackling the kidnapped security members
 and soldiers' issue, Salam stresses:
 "the cabinet's permanent keenness to
 adopt all means possible to set our sons
 free," supporting any means that might
contribute to releasing them -- provided it
respects the state's dignity and rights.

Talking about the possibility of reaching
 an agreement with Iran on its nuclear file
and the impact of that on Lebanon, Salam
 confirms that any agreement of the kind
will reflect positively on all countries and
 would result in more stability in the region.



_____________________________




US Escalates its Failed Strategy in Syria

Turkey and the United States have recently signed
 an agreement to train and equip 2,000 fighters of
 the "moderate" Syrian opposition, says Turkish
newspaper Hurriyet Daily News.

Training these forces of the so-called Free Syrian
 Army (FSA) will begin “late December” at Turkey's
 Kirsehir Training Centre, 150 klmtrs southeast of
 the Turkish capital, Ankara, adds the newspaper
 --- quoting unidentified sources.

The training will be carried out by the Turkish
and US military, but the equipment and cost of
 the training will be entirely paid by the US, says
 Hürriyet. The final details of the plan were agreed
 at a meeting between the military leaders of the
 two countries.

Shortly after, The Washington Post indicated
that
the US government has been studying
plans to
increase the CIA’s role in arming and
training of
“moderate” (a term meaning they
are willing to
surrender their country to the
Western powers)
terrorists in Syria, a move
aimed at escalating
covert US support.

 The Pentagon is preparing to establish its own
 training bases, US officials say, opines the Post:
“The proposed CIA buildup would expand a covert
 mission that's grown substantially over the past
 year”.” The agency now arms and trains about
400 rebels each month” and a similar number is
 expected “to be trained by the Pentagon when
its program reaches full strength late next year”.

However, this strategy is now facing its first
 obstacles, writes Yusuf Fernandez on al Manar.

 Firstly, it has led ISIL and the al-Qaeda-affiliated
al Nusra Front to sign an alliance, fighting both
 the Syrian Army and the US-backed forces.
 
In a meeting held on November 2nd in the
northern Syrian town of Atareb, both groups,
 the largest ones in the Syrian terrorist camp,
agreed not to fight against each another and
to cooperate against their common enemies.

Before the US started its airstrikes in Syria
 in September, ISIL and al Nusra Front were
 fierce enemies, fighting each other for
leadership of the insurgency.

 The US air war targeting both groups has
 persuaded them to cooperate against a
mutual enemy.

Their alliance, Yusuf Fernandez on al Manar
says, presents more difficulties for the US
 strategy against ISIL. He says the union of
 both groups will make them more effective
against US-backed rebels, who are already
 considered to be weak and disorganized.

al Nusra Front has already almost wiped out
 the Syrian Revolutionaries Front and the
Hazm Movement, two rebel groups armed
 and trained by the United States.

 On November 1st, SRF surrendered after
the fall of Deir Sinbal, its main stronghold
 in Syria, and agreed to hand over all their
 weapons and bases to the Nusra Front.

Another dozen rebel-controlled villages in
 the Idlib province were also captured. “As
 a movement, the SRF is effectively finished,"
 says Aymen al-Tammimi, a Syrian analyst,
to the Daily Telegraph. “Nusra has driven
 them out of their Idlib & Hama strongholds.”

Captured US weapons included anti-tank
 missiles and GRAD rockets, adding to the
 sizable stock of US weapons now in the
hands of ISIL and The Nusra Front in Iraq
 and Syria.

Despite being small factions within the
 terrorist camp in Syria, the US gave
SRF and the Hazm Movement, large
amounts of advanced weapons.

The very next day, the Harakat Movement
 also surrendered their military bases and
weapons to al Nusra Front, when the latter
seized the villages it controlled in northern
 Idlib province.

 ISIL sent 100 fighters to help al Nusra Front
to take over the town of Khan al Sunbul in
 northern Syria but their intervention became
 unnecessary because the Hazm Movement
 surrendered without fighting and 65 of its
 militants defected to al Nusra Front.

al Nusra Front also took over the town of
Minnig in Aleppo Province, on the outskirts
of the city. Its fighters ordered all other US-
backed rebels there to disband and turn
 their weapons over to them.

 As a result, there are already only two
 effective fighting forces in Aleppo province
 now: The al Nusra Front and Syria's Army.

Another report by AP, confirms that the
 “moderate rebels” that Washington is
boosting “are instead hemorrahaging
 on multiple fronts". Some of their
leaders
have been killed.

 “This is the end of the Free Syrian Army,"
says Alaa al-Deen, an opposition activist
 in Idlib, of Western-backed militant groups.

 He adds that - in recent weeks - dozens of
leaders of the “moderate” terrorist groups
have been eliminated.

For the US, Yusuf Fernandez on al Manar says,
the defeat of these groups, which had been
 trying to present themselves as successful
examples for the US in Syria, is a humiliating
 blow, at a time when the US administration
 is increasing the training of "its" rebels.

The Syrian population is also fed up with
 these terrorists, who are supported by
the
US, Turkey and Saudi Arabia.

While Washington has been selling the
idea
that these people, who largely
share the
extremist ideology of their
new enemies,
are “freedom fighters”,
Syrians see them as
just terrorists,
bandits, and brutal exploiters.


In Douma, the main rebel stronghold in Eastern
 Gouta, near Damascus, several clashes occurred
 on November 14th, after an attack by inhabitants
 of the city, against a grocery store controlled by
 a rebel group.

US and Saudi patronage of the “moderate rebel
 groups” has convinced Syrians that they are
just mercenaries who seek to impose foreign
 control over Syria, and thus put an end to the
prominent role that the country has played
 in the Middle East for decades.

Therefore, Syrians will fight these forces in
 order to maintain their independence.

US support for terrorist groups in Syria also
violates international law, which prohibits
 states from giving aid to foreign insurgents
 who seek to overthrow legal governments
 in other countries.

In this sense, US actions against Syria are a
 threat to the whole international community
 and the international legal framework. They
 are also a proxy war against Syria´s allies,
especially Iran, Russia and China.

The new US plans in Syria, instead of drawing
 the right lessons from failure --- the first of which
 is that any successful strategy against terrorism
 in Syria needs the cooperation of the Syrian Army
 and State, which are the most effective forces in
 the anti-ISIS fight --- the US Administration sticks
 once again to the failed strategy of supporting
 non-existent “moderate rebels”.

It means that there is not a new strategy, but
 an escalation that has been going on in recent
 months and which will become a more serious
failure for US' foreign policy.



________________________________



Russia Warns of Signs of Change
               in US Policy Towards Ukraine               
 
 Russia's Foreign Ministry spokesperson,
 Alexander Lukashevich says today that
 the visit of US Vice President 'Joe' Biden
 to Kiev might mean a change of direction
 into open military support to that country.

Lukashevich considers as a serious sign,
 recent pronouncements in Washington
about US administration plans to provide
 lethal weapons to Ukraine, which would
 mean a clear, direct violation of the
Geneva agreements, he says.

The diplomat says that Moscow paid attention
 to the trip to Washington of representatives of
 the 'volunteer" battalions, which took part in
 the 'cleansing' operations in Donbass, to ask
for military assistance from the US government.

In his opinion, the public announcements of the
 White House and Biden's visit, might give signs
 of a cardinal change in US policy regarding the
 conflict in southeastern Ukraine.

He recalls that the Geneva declaration in April,
focussing on the end of armed confrontation
and
the start of a broad national dialogue,
was
reached with US participation.

If a change in that policy occurs, any military
support will be a destabilizing factor leading
 to a modification of the balance of power in
 the Ukrainian conflict, he says, adding that
military support to Kiev will ignore the basic
 principles of the Organization for Security &
 cooperation in Europe, accepted by all of its
members, regarding the transfer of weapons
 in conflict areas.

Biden recently told Ukrainian newspaper Den
 that he had many important announcements
 to be addressed to the Ukrainian government
and people when he arrived in Kiev for his visit.

He was scheduled to arrive in Kiev last night
 with Assistant Secretary of State for Eurasian
 Affairs, Victoria Nuland.


___________________________



Zionist Settlers Storm Al-Aqsa Mosque,
Clashes Reported in WB

Zionist settlers, backed by occupation police,
 stormed al-Aqsa Mosque yesterday in al-Quds
(Jerusalem), sparking clashes with Palestinians
 who reject any desecration of the holy mosque.

Media reports say Palestinians intercepted the
 Zionist settlers, backed by occupation police.
Fierce clashes were reported at the scene,
injuring dozens of Palestinians.

Clashes were reported in other neighborhoods
 across the West Bank, as Israeli occupation
police fired live bullets and tear gas at the
Palestinian civilians.

The IDF also raided the houses of the two
 Palestinians who carried out operation in
 a Jerusalem synagogue on Tuesday, in a
 bid to destroy the houses. But Palestinian
 residents prevented the occupation police
 from doing so.

Tensions in the West Bank are rising, especially
 in the occupied city of al-Quds, where extremist
 Zionists have been calling for Jews to pray in
 the holy al-Aqsa Mosque, a desecration that is
 totally rejected by Palestinians and Muslims.



___________________________




Turkey doomed to fall under Erdogan:
Ex-president


Former Turkish President Abdullah Gul slams
the government of President Recep Tayyip
Erdogan, warning that Ankara is doomed to
collapse, if it continues its foreign policy on
Iraq and Syria.

Gul criticizes the Turkish president’s policies on
 the chaotic situation in neighboring Syria, saying:
“I am sure that one day (God forbid) the chickens
 of Erdogan’s past follies in Syria will come home
 to roost."

The former Turkish leader goes on to say
 that Ankara’s spy agencies have played a
key role in the transportation of the Takfiri
 militants fighting the government of Syrian
 President Bashar Al-Assad, ever since the
crisis erupted in Syria in 2011.

Erdogan’s strategic blunders in neighboring
Syria and Iraq are behind the emergence of
 the ISIL Takfiri terrorists, who're committing
 atrocities in those areas under their control
 in both countries, according to Gul.

He slams the US-led “idiots’ club” coalition
 currently carrying out airstrikes against ISIL
 hideouts in Iraq and Syria.

Gul adds that some Saudi-backed terrorist
 organizations operating against Syria, such
as the al-Qaeda-affiliated al-Nusra Front,
 have been working with Western spy
 agencies, including the CIA.

He adds that mutual cooperation existed
“between Turkey’s National Intelligence
 Organization (MÄ°T)” & the ISIL extremist
 terrorists.

The ISIL terrorists entered Iraq in June. The
violence is seen as a spillover of militancy
 from Syria, where Takfiri groups fighting the
 Damascus government are enjoying support
 from the US and its allies, including Saudi
Arabia, Qatar and Turkey.



____________________________




OSCE monitors says
Ukrainian troops shot

 in their direction twice
in past two days...


One incident took place on Wednesday
 near the village of Marinovka, the other
one was reported on Tuesday in the
town of Debaltsevo

Ukrainian troops opened fire at monitors
 from the Organization for Security and
 Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) twice in the
last two days, states the regular daily up-
date of OSCE's Special Monitoring Mission
 (SMM) to Ukraine made public Wednesday.

The OSCE monitors were unhurt.

"On November 19th, at “12:38hrs, an OSCE convoy
 composed of two vehicles was travelling east from
 Kurakhovo (30km west of Donetsk) towards the city
 of Donetsk. Near the area of Mariinka, about 80m
 ahead of the convoy, there was a flat-bed cargo
 truck carrying a large green wooden box, with
2 uniformed personnel on board wearing helmets.

 "The SMM observed tactical marks of two white
 vertical lines on the tail-gate of the vehicle and
on the passenger door. One of the soldiers stood
 up and fired two shots in the direction of the OSCE
 convoy. The bullets struck about 2m from the second
 OSCE vehicle. The SMM staff travelling in this
 vehicle heard sharp sounds originating from road
 or bullet fragments impacting on their car.”

On November 18th, the SMM was traveling towards
 Perevalsk, when it came under gunfire. They report
 that the SMM “was not allowed to pass” through a
 checkpoint controlled by Ukrainian forces at the
 entrance of a bridge in a northeastern suburb of the
 town of Debaltsevo. “Instead, the SMM was told to
 take a long roundabout route to bypass the bridge,”
 the report says.

 Returning from Perevalsk, the mission came
 to the bridge & stopped at another checkpoint
 directly opposite the one on the other side of
 the bridge.

 “As the SMM stopped in expectation of a further
 command, a warning shot was fired by CP staff in
 the direction of the OSCE car,” the document says.



______________________________




Israel slams Spain's vote for Palestinian recognition

The Israeli Foreign Ministry has harshly criticized
 the Spanish parliament for passing a non-binding
 resolution calling for recognition of a Palestinian
 state, saying such measures "push away" the
 chances of reaching an agreement.

"The Spanish parliament's declaration only pushes
 away further the chance of reaching an agreement
 between Israel and the Palestinians, because it
 encourages the Palestinians to take extreme
 positions," the ministry says in its statement.

The ministry also slams the timing of the vote,
 which took place Tuesday evening, the same
day in which a murderous militant attack at a
 synagogue in Jerusalem, killed five Israelis.

Spain's parliament passed the symbolic
 motion, calling upon the government to
 recognize a Palestinian state, with 319
 parliament members voting for it and
  just
two voting against it.

"It's not binding," Spanish Foreign Minister
Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo told media
 in Belgium, the day before the vote:

 "It does not set a timeline for the recognition,
 it gives the government the margin to proceed
 with the recognition, when it feels it will be
 opportune," he added.

Both the UK and Irish parliaments made similar
 non- binding resolutions last month, after Sweden,
 was the first major Western European country to
 announce its acknowledgement of a Palestinian
 state, in October.

French politicians vote on a
similar bill next week.

Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu criticizes the
 wave of symbolic recognition of a Palestinian
 state and blames the countries that want to
"reward" Palestinians for their "constant
 incitement" via the Palestinian Authority,
 and urges the international community to
 denounce terror.

Peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians
 collapsed in April and the Palestinian Authority
 has been seeking diplomatic avenues to end the
 occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Israel faces a diplomatic crisis, with its relations
 with the US at a low point, and growing criticism
 over its ongoing expansion of settlements in the
 West Bank and east Jerusalem.

 The European Union is considering imposing
 sanctions on Israel over its settlement policy.

 In addition, Israel has been under scrutiny for
 its offensive in the recent Gaza War, which
 killed over 2,000 Palestinians: mostly civilians.



__________________________




Extraterritorial Threat of Vulture Funds
                 Denounced in France               
 
 The ruling by a US judge to force Argentina
 to pay a disproportionate sum to speculators
 is now a threat to EVERY States'' sovereignty,
 several French experts state.

Judge Thomas Griesa, from a New York court,
has sentenced Buenos Aires to comply with
 the demands of so-called vulture funds, which
 bought Argentina's public debts at less than
 15 percent of its real value -- but now plan to
collect all of it.

According to Pierre Salama, professor emeritus
 of the University of Paris, it is a decision that
 goes beyond the scope of a dispute between
 a small group of voracious creditors and the
 Argentinean State, and is now a real threat
to
all countries.

If Argentina had accepted Griesa's ruling in
 the United States, its sovereignty would
have disappeared, said the experts during
a debate about the issue held at the House
 of Latin America in the French capital.

For his part, the economist Dominique
 Plihon said it is another case of juridical
 extraterritoriality committed by US justice.

The United States imposes its norms on
 others, although the entire Argentinean
 debt affected by the demand from the
speculators isn't on US territory, he noted.

He recalled that the case was criticized at
several levels, such as the United Nations
 General Assembly and the Human Rights
 Council in Geneva.

Between 2005 - 2010, Argentina successfully
 concluded negotiations to restructure 93% of
 its debt, a landmark in international economic
 relations.

Carlos Quenan, a professor at the University
 of Sorbonne Nouvelle, says the predatory acts
of the vulture funds demand a permanent
 global solution.

Jose Eduardo Weisfreid, of the executive
 committee of France-Amérique Latine,
said that Argentina's public debt is an
 inheritance from the US-backed military
 dictatorship and neoliberal government
 of President Carlos Menem, which
plunged the country into poverty.


_________________________________



Independent report saying bombings of IS
positions kill civilians alarmingRussian FM

“The fact of civilian casualties resulting from
 UN-unauthorized bombings of Islamic State
 positions, quoted by the Independent
 International Commission of Inquiry for Syria
 under the UN Council for Human Rights, are
 alarming, the Russian Foreign Ministry says.

“On November 14, the Independent International
 Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Republic,
 established by the UN Human Rights Council,
published a report entitled Rule of Terror: Living
 under ISIL (Islamic State's former name was
 Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant). It was
drawn up at Russia’s request and supported
by 17 other states,” the Foreign Ministry says.

“One cannot but feel concern over the fact that
 the Commission mentions civilian deaths in the
 course of UN-unauthorized bombings of ISIL
 positions in Syria by the United States and its
 allies,” the Foreign Ministry says.

“We fully share the Commission’s call for the
 resumption of intra-Syrian talks with the aim
 of normalization of the political situation in
 the Syrian Arab Republic,” Russia's Foreign
 Ministry says.

 “Joint work against terrorism must become
 one of the key topics of a dialogue between
 the Syrian government and a credible
 delegation of the Syrian opposition."



______________________________________



Greeks march to commemorate 1973 uprising
on International Student's Day


Thousands of Greeks have taken to the streets
of the capital, Athens, to commemorate the
1973 student uprising against the country's
 US-backed military dictatorship.

Over 20,000 demonstrators took part in the
peaceful march on Monday, marking the 41st
 anniversary of the National Technical University
 of Athens (Athens Polytechnic) uprising, which
 began on November 14th, 1973, and ended in
 bloodshed in the early morning of November 17.

The annual rally in which the students, joined
 by trade union members, marched from the
 Polytechnic University to the US embassy,
 was policed by some 7,000 officers.

Greek officials closed down most of the
city’s universities and banned all sit-ins.

As part of security measures in the city,
the authorities closed off major streets
 and underground stations.

Athens' Law School and Athens University
 of Economics were also cordoned off by
security police.

On November 13th, police forces gathered
outside
the Athens Law School and Athens
University
of Economics after a decision by
the universities’
authorities not to shut down
the schools ahead
of the November 17th
anniversary.


Brief clashes broke out when the students
tried to enter the school building, with
 police using tear gas to disperse them.

The November 17th anniversary marks
the
student uprising against Greece's
 military rule in 1973, to which police and
 the Greek military responded by opening
 fire on protesters and bystanders, killing
hundreds of them.



_____________________________________




EU discusses sanctions against eastern Ukraine

 The Council of the European Union (EU) on Monday
 discussed more sanctions targeting eastern Ukraine.


No more sanctions were announced against Russia.
The EU said in a statement that they will continue
to closely follow the situation in Ukraine and "act
 accordingly".

Tension has escalated since the Kiev authorities
 decided to repeal a law granting special status to
 Donetsk and Lugansk regions, which raised fears
 that an ongoing prisoners-of-war swap may be
 disrupted.

The EU called on all parties to follow the Minsk
 agreements, underlining the need to intensify
talks within the framework of the Trilateral
Contact Group.

The Kiev government and the leaders in the south
East signed a ceasefire deal on September 5th in
 the Belarusian capital city of Minsk, to de-escalate
 tensions and release of hundreds of prisoners-of-war.

The Minsk agreement was signed by representatives
 of Ukraine, Russia, and the self-proclaimed Donetsk
 and Lugansk people's republics under the OSCE deal.



________________________________




Israel Assures Expansion in Jerusalem
                     "Will Continue"              
 
 Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman
 says Israel WILL continue expanding in East
 Jerusalem, despite the fact that it violates
 international law & compromises the remote
 possibility of an agreement with Palestinians.

"We will never accept the definition of the
 constructions in Jerusalem as settlements.
 We will not admit any limits to construction
 in all areas of Jerusalem," says the minister
in a joint press conference with the German
Foreign Minister, Frank Walter Steinmeier.

In 1980, Israel annexed East Jerusalem
(Al Quds to
Muslims), and declared it as
its "eternal,
indivisible capital", in a
resolution that has been
considered as
illegal by the international community,

 which also condemns the construction
of Israeli
settlements in the West Bank.

A few days ago, Tel Aviv allowed the
 building of 200 homes in Jerusalem,
shortly after beginning the process
of
constructing 167 other houses.


In recent weeks, the city, which is sacred
 to the three major monotheistic religions,
 Islam, Christianity and Judaism, was the
scene of clashes between local people
 and occupying troops, due to outrages
 against the Al Aqsa Mosque, one of the
three most sacred places for Muslims.



______________________________




AID FOR FELLOW COMRADES

Russia’s humanitarian convoy, which took
 aid to Donetsk city in eastern Ukraine, has
 returned to Russia’s southern Rostov region,
 Oleg Voronov, a deputy head of the Russian
 Emergencies Ministry’s National Crisis
 Management Centre, says.

Early on Sunday, over 50 lorries delivered
350 tonnes of humanitarian aid to Donetsk.
 It took several hours to unload them.

“Over 50 lorries crossed Russia's border
 and returned to the Rostov region empty,”
Voronov says, adding that "no incidents"
 were reported during the mission.

Earlier, another 20 lorries returned to Rostov
 region -- leaving 100 tonnes of humanitarian
 help in Lugansk, also in eastern Ukraine.


__________________________



Kiev's authorities have driven Ukraine into
an energy crisis --- just as winter  kicks in.

Shortly after a gas war over Kiev’s reluctance
 to pay Moscow for previously supplied fuel...
Ukraine is in a real crisis over a coal scandal.

A high-profile deal for the importation of coal
from
S Africa through the London-registered
company, Steel Mont Trading Ltd. has fallen
 through with a resounding crash.

After the first 250,000 tons reached Ukraine,
 Kiev stopped paying. Steel Mont Trading Ltd,
which purchased the coal for Ukraine with a
 loan taken on especially for the purpose, had
 to enter then settle up with the lender bank.
So the company refused to send any more
 coal from South Africa, to avoid further
 damage to its reputation.

Ukraine's Prosecutor-General’s Office is
now taking
criminal proceedings on the
suspicion of
embezzlement of state funds.

Fuel and Energy Minister Yuriy Prodan and
the head of the Ukrinterenergo company,
Vladimir Zinkevich, have been questioned.

'Friendly' Poland is refusing to supply coal. 
Its
Economics Minister, J Piechoczinski,
has said publicly, that Ukraine would like
to
have Polish coal for nothing.

Kiev adviser Prodan:

“the coal supply situation looks really
dangerous and the country will have
great trouble
getting through the
autumn and winter period.”


 He says Kiev has no option left other than
to try
to purchase coal from Russia or the
self-
proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic.

At the Cabinet meeting the Prime Minister
 Arseniy Yatsenyuk asked if there was any
 possibility of importing coal from Australia
or the United States. Prodan replied that
 finding an agent in these countries would
 take no less than six weeks -- and winter
 freezing is just around the corner.

The leaders of the self-proclaimed Donetsk
 People’s Republic say supplies to Ukraine
are ruled out, as long as hostilities go on.

The Donetsk Republic’s Thermo-electric
 Industry Minister, Aleksey Granovsky,
 dismisses the possibility of supplying
 fuel to anyone the Donetsk Republic
 sees as an aggressor.

Besides, Kiev has for many months paid
no wages to coalminers, and has also
frozen
the coalmines’ bank accounts.

After the recent decision to stop paying
pensions
& grants to Donbass residents,
Yatsenyuk will
have problems conducting
fuel negotiations
with Donetsk.


The Russian Energy Ministry says it sees
 no barrier to supplying coal to Ukraine
"on a commercial basis".

Until recently Ukraine was Europe’s third
largest
coal producer. In 2013 Donbass
cut 83,600 tons, but a
military crackdown
on the South-East, has now
stopped the
operation of 145 pits.


Instead of looking for a way out of the
coal crisis
, Yatsenyuk has ordered the
Security
Services to investigate “who's
behind the re-
division of the coal market.”


“The problems with supplying coal to freezing
 Ukraine is a precise replica of Kiev’s relations
 with Russian gas provider Gazprom. The Kiev
 authorities want to have fuel now, but prefer
to pay sometime in the future,
or not at all.


"Having received the first consignment of
 coal from South Africa they turned for more.
 In South Africa they were told: ‘Come on,
guys,
you haven't paid for the first one yet.’

Further
supplies were cancelled,” an
adviser to the
chief of the Russian
government’s Centre of
Analysis,
Vladimir Averchev, says.


“The authorities in Kiev hoped that the whole
 world would rush to rebuild Ukraine into a
shop-window for the ‘free world’. But neither
 the EU nor the IMF have even the slightest
 intention of indulging in charity,” he says.

“In their policies towards Kiev, both the EU
 & the IMF proceed from their own analysis
 of the overall political situation there.

"3 weeks after elections to the Verkhovna
 Rada, no government coalition has been
formed
yet. A standoff between President
Poroshenko
and PM Yatsenyuk is getting
worse.
No economic reforms are in sight.
The military
conflict in the southeast of
the country keeps
smouldering. The
treasury is empty. The
authorities are
unable to honor their liabilities.


 "In a situation like this, Ukraine may
well suffer
not just an energy crisis,
but an utter collapse,”
Averchev says.


___________________________

Gaza child prisoners



Egypt briefly reopens Rafah

Egypt has decided to briefly reopen the Rafah
 border crossing to the Gaza Strip, which has
 been under an Israeli siege for over 7 years.

The Rafah crossing, which was closed by Egypt
 after a deadly bombing last October, will reopen
 starting from Tuesday to Thursday, according to
 a statement by the Palestinian embassy in the
 Cairo, issued on Sunday the 18th of January.

Cairo had announced its intention to temporarily
 reopen the crossing last week. Egypt's officials
then decided to keep the crossing closed after
 an Egyptian border control officer was killed
 by militants in the Sinai Peninsula.

Last month, the crossing was opened for three
days and around 1,200 people were allowed to
 travel through.

Analysts call Israel's blockade of Gaza illegal,
 and accuse Egypt of acting as Israel’s proxy
by
maintaining Tel Aviv’s years-long blockade
of
the Palestinian enclave.

Gaza has been blockaded by Israel since June
 2007, which has collapsed the standard of living,
brought unprecedented levels of unemployment,
 and gifted the Palestinians unrelenting poverty.

The blockade, which has cut off the territory
from the world, has led to an economic and
 human crisis in the densely-populated strip.


________________________________



Algeria team donating money earned
 at Brazil World Cup to people of Gaza

Algeria's World Cup team has decided to donate
 the team salary of $9 million they received after
 their Round of 16 match with Germany, to the
people of Gaza, states a squad forward player.


____________________________________________



OIC Chief Calls for access to Al-Aqsa Mosque

The Secretary-General of the Organization of
Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Iyad Ameen Madani,
calls for access to Al-Aqsa Mosque, in an effort
 to confront Zionist policies aimed at Judaizing
 Al-Quds (occupied East Jerusalem).

Addressing a joint press conference with the
Palestinian Foreign Minister, Riyad al-Maliki,
 Madani says the OIC is committed to offering
 its political and financial support, to the
Palestinian people.

He goes on to call for the formation of a
 legal committee tasked with bringing the
 Zionist entity to account, over what he
says are its habitually "racist" violations.


"The Palestinian cause and Al-Quds, are
a
top priority for the OIC," he says.

Madani says OIC foreign ministers will meet
 in the Saudi city of Jeddah in June, for talks
 on the means to provide support for Al-Quds,
 and the Palestinian cause, in particular.

Al-Maliki, for his part, calls on the pan-Islamic
body to intervene to stop the Zionist regime's
violations in Al-Quds and Al-Aqsa Mosque.

In recent months, groups of extremist Jewish
 settlers, often accompanied by Zionist security
 forces, have repeatedly forced their way into
 the Al-Aqsa complex.

The frequent violations anger Palestinian
Muslims,
and occasionally lead to violent
confrontations.


For Muslims, Al-Aqsa represents the world's
 third holiest site. Jews, for their part, refer
 to the area as the "Temple Mount," claiming
that it was the site of two prominent Jewish
 temples, in ancient times.

______________________________________


Venezuela signs deal to provide
 Palestinian Authority with oil

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and
 his Venezuelan counterpart, Nicholas Maduro,
now have an agreement which will see 240,000
barrels of oil and diesel sent to the Palestinian
 Authority by state-owned company Petróleos
 de Venezuela.

During his three-day visit to the oil rich South
 American nation, which sits on the world’s
 largest oil reserves, Abbas thanked Maduro
 for his support.

“Thank you Venezuela for helping to break the
 monopoly that Israel has over our economy.
Thank you Venezuela for responding to our
needs. Thank you Venezuela, for being
available to continue to lend Palestinian
 people more support in their fight,” said
Abbas.

Maduro reiterated his support for Palestine
and its desire to be a fully independent state.

“We welcome the Palestinian people and the Arabs.
 Our people support your right to a land of prosperity.
 Today, Petro Palestine has been born,” Maduro said.

Maduro also agreed to support the Palestinian
 Authority's request to be granted observer status
 in three Latin American organizations: UNASUR,
 ALBA, and CELAC.

The leaders also announced a number of bilateral
 projects, including Palestinian medical students
possibly studying at Venezuelan universities.

While in Caracas, Abbas also visited the grave
of Hugo Chavez, Maduro’s predecessor, who
 died of cancer last year.

The deal comes as Tel Aviv bars Palestinian banks
 from making shekel deposits in Israel and limits
 electricity supply to the Palestinian Authority to
 half strength for an hour every day. The Israelis
are also withholding $116 million of Palestinian
 tax revenue.

The punitive measures were a response to the
 reconciliation agreement between the Palestinian
 Fatah party, which rules the Palestinian Authority,
 and Hamas, the militant group which controls Gaza,
 according to Haaretz.

 The Israeli Electric Company points to a $154 million
 debt they say is owed by the Palestinian Jerusalem
 District Electricity Company.

_______________________________


MILES OF SMILES FOR GAZA


An international humanitarian convoy known
 as “Miles of Smiles 26” has now reached the
besieged Gaza Strip, to break the blockade

 imposed on Palestinians by the Israeli regime.

The convoy includes over 30 activists from Arab
 and European countries.

Deputy chair of the committee, Aladdin al-Battah,
 says the convoy carries humanitarian aid and
medical materials to hospitals in Gaza.


On January 8th, the "Miles of Smiles 24" arrived
 in the besieged area through the Rafah crossing
 on the border with Egypt. Only seven of the 127
 activists were allowed into Gaza.

Over the past few years, the Miles of Smiles
 convoy has delivered humanitarian supplies
 to Palestinians in the impoverished region,
defying the Israeli blockade.

Since the December 2008-January 2009 war
 Israel imposed on Gaza, several convoys have
 managed to break the Israeli blockade.

The Gaza Strip has been suffering under
an all-out land, aerial, and naval blockade
 imposed by the Israeli regime since 2007.

The siege has had a disastrous impact on
 the humanitarian and economic situation
 in the enclave, turning the territory into
 the world’s largest open-air prison.

Tel Aviv denies about 1.7 million people in
Gaza their basic rights such as freedom of
movement, access to jobs that pay proper
 wages, adequate healthcare, and education.

__________________________________________


Silence Breaking: Dozens of Rockets Hit
 Occupied Territories, as Israel Strikes

In response to Israeli aggression against
the besieged Gaza strip, Al-Quds Brigades,
 the military wing of the resistance group,
Islamic Jihad, launches over 130 rockets
 and shells into the occupied territories.

Meanwhile the occupation announces it
 struck "many targets" in the tiny enclave.

The Israeli military targeted 29 sites in Gaza,
it says on its Twitter page. "Direct hits were
confirmed," the occupation military tweets.

The Israeli airstrikes targeted three areas
in Gaza -- Rafah, Khan Younis and Jabalia,
 say security sources in Gaza.

A Hamas spokesperson has texted CNN,
 to say they counted only six airstrikes,
but notes they were all on empty bases.

Al-Quds Brigades' spokesperson, Abu Ahmad,
says the rocket fire came “after a long series
 of violations to the truce with the Palestinian
 resistance since November 2012."

"This operation, dubbed 'Breaking the Silence,'
 comes as a response to the ongoing and
continued Zionist Israeli aggression against
the Palestinian people in the West Bank and
 Gaza," Abu Ahmad says.

The Secretary General of Islamic Jihad,
Ramadan Abdullah Shallah, stresses that
the resistance will show its rockets ability,
just after Al-Quds Brigades rockets and
shells struck the occupied territories.

Addressing Iranian Television,  Shallah says
 the Palestinian resistance is ready to respond
 to Israeli aggression with longer range rockets.

He notes that the resistance, after the Israeli
aggression against Gaza in 2012, had signed
  up to a ceasefire... not a surrender to Israel.

Hamas warns that any re-invasion of Gaza
will be met by new forms of resistence.


________________________________________________


VILLAGE "DISAPPEARED" BY ISRAEL

Israeli forces have razed an entire Palestinian village

 in the Jordan Valley region of the occupied West Bank.

According to reports, the demolition took place
in the village of Khirbat Jamal early on Thursday.

Over a dozen families living in the area are now
 homeless, after Israeli bulldozers destroyed
their homes.

The Israeli military is preventing human rights
 activists from visiting the area to help villagers.

Demolitions are commonplace in the Jordan Valley
 as the Tel Aviv regime continues with its policy of
settlement expansion in the area. Over 90% of the
 Jordan Valley is under full Israeli military control.

On January 9, Israeli military forces backed by
 bulldozers entered Khirbet Ein Karzaliyah village 
 and destroyed the entire village, leaving over
 two dozen locals homeless.

In October last year, Israeli bulldozers backed by
 military jeeps entered the village of Makhool north
 of the Jordan Valley and destroyed the village.

Israel has already been under fire for demolishing
Palestinian homes. Israeli authorities claim they
 destroy houses "built without permission".

Rights activists, however, reject the claims, saying
the demolitions are part of an ethnic cleansing
campaign against Palestinians.

______________________________________


An environmentalist organization says Palestinians
 in the Gaza Strip are facing a deepening water crisis
 as Israel maintains its crippling siege.

Some 1.7 million Gazans are facing water shortages,
 and the salinity of nearly 90% of drinking water in Gaza
 is above standard levels, Friends of the Earth's Middle
 East experts stated during a conference held in the
 occupied Palestinian territories on Wednesday.

The experts also warned of an increasing risk of
 waterborne diseases as the Gaza Strip is also
 facing a sewage crisis.

“In Gaza, the first desalination plant built by the
 World Bank was completed in October of last year,”
 said Friends of the Earth Middle East Director Gidon
 Bromberg. “But the tragedy is that it has no
electricity to run it.”

Gaza municipality has also declared a state of
emergency, and experts have warned of an
environmental crisis in the besieged enclave.

Fuel and electricity shortages in the Israeli-
blockaded Palestinian territory have worsened
 in recent months due to Egypt’s closure of
Gaza tunnels. These tunnels are the only lifeline
 for Palestinians living under the Israeli siege.

Gaza has been blockaded since June 2007, a
 situation that has caused a decline in the standard
 of living, unprecedented levels of unemployment,
 and unrelenting poverty.

Israel denies about 1.7 million people in Gaza
 their basic rights, such as freedom of movement,
 jobs that pay proper wages, & adequate health-
care and education.


_________________________________________


Abbas in Russia Visit, Seeks to Sign $1-Billion Deal


Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas is hoping
 to secure a billion-dollar Gaza energy deal in
 talks with Russian leaders aimed at restoring
warmer ties between the two Soviet-era allies.

Abbas and Russian PM Dmitry Medvedev are
due to sign an intergovernmental agreement
 that reports say includes a $1.0-billion (730
million-euro) natural gas project in the Gaza
section of the Mediterranean Sea.

The state ITAR-TASS news agency says
 Russia's natural gas giant Gazprom hopes
 to produce 30 billion cubic meters of
natural gas at the site.

Moscow has been a close Palestinian ally
 since the Soviet era. Russia's President
Vladimir Putin, has also called for the
establishment of east Jerusalem as the
capital of an independent Palestinian state.

Abbas began his Moscow visit by holding
 talks with Putin at which he called Russia
a "great power" that deserved to play a more
 prominent role the volatile Middle East region.

Abbas is also to hold talks today with
 Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.


_________________________________



SOON ISRAELI APARTHEID WILL FALL

S. Africa's Foreign Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane
 says her country has decided to “slow down” its ties
with the Israeli regime in solidarity with Palestinians.

She says “the struggle of the people of Palestine
 is our struggle,”  and criticizes the Israeli regime’s
plan to build new illegal settler units in East al-Quds
(Jerusalem).

“That arrangement in Palestine keeps us awake,”
she says...

“The last time I looked at the map of Palestine,
 I could not go to sleep. Its dots are smaller than
those of the homelands,” she adds, referring to
 the former "homelands" in her country - known
 as bantustans - set up under apartheid to give
 blacks a sense of autonomy.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon “deplores”
 the Israeli regime's new settlement plans, and
 UN spokesperson Martin Nesirky says:
 “Settlement activity is contrary to international
 law and constitutes an obstacle to peace.”

UN special Rapporteur Richard Falk says that if
 renewed talks between the Palestinian Authority
 (PA) and the Tel Aviv regime fail, the UN General
Assembly should seek an opinion from the
International Court of Justice on “the legal
consequences of Israel's occupation” of
Palestinian lands.

________________________________


Palestinian schools switched to
an Israeli curriculum in Jerusalem

The director of education in Jerusalem urges
 families with schoolchildren in Jerusalem to
 be aware that at least five Palestinian schools
 are switching to Israeli education materials.

Sameer Jibril says Ebin Rushd and Abdulla bin
 Hussain schools are now using Israeli education
 materials in the seventh and eighth grades.

 The Sour Baher school is using them for fourth,
 fifth and sixth grades, and the Ibin Khaldoun
 school uses it for seventh graders.

An education official tells Ma’an news agency
that a meeting took place Thursday in Herzliya,
 near Tel Aviv, for Palestinian and Israeli heads
 and teachers to "discuss" switching from the
Palestinian Authority, to Israeli curricula.

The Israeli municipality in Jerusalem offered
 to increase salaries for teachers and heads
 who agreed to implement the plans in their
 schools, the official says.

 The proposal would add about 2,000 shekels
 (about $550) per student enrolled in those
schools using the Israeli curricula.

A teacher who identified himself as Jibril
tells Ma'an that using the Israeli curricula is
 a "violation" of Palestinian culture and history.

"This step is very dangerous and touches
 the awareness of Palestinians in Jerusalem
 in an effort to brainwash them and control
 them, especially young generations.”

Among the concerns Palestinian teachers have
 about the materials, are maps purporting to show
 the state of Israel which include the West Bank,
 and identify all places in Palestinian territory
 using Jewish Biblical names.

It includes history lessons about the destruction
 of a Jewish temple in Jerusalem, which the texts
 separately identify as the capital of Israel, despite
 international consensus that the city is occupied.

Another section depicts a conversation between
 three Arab students praising Israel's development
 of Palestinian cities and who then decide to sing
the Israeli national anthem.

Other points of concern include references
 to Israel as: "a bastion of human rights
 and democracy".


___________________________________


OPPOSING ISRAEL'S RACIST PLAN

A number of Palestinians have staged a sit-in

 at the courtyard of the Church of Resurrection in
 occupied Jerusalem in solidarity with Palestinians
 in Naqab (Negev) who are threatened with losing
 their lands due to Israeli Prawer-Begin racial projects.

During the sit-in, Archbishop of the Sebastian Roman
 Orthodox Church, Attallah Hanna, expressed Palestinian
 solidarity in occupied Jerusalem with the Palestinians
 in Negev, asserting that they are threatened with being
displaced and uprooted from their lands due to the
 Israeli racial project.

He rejects what the Palestinians in Negev are being
exposed to and asserts that they will always defend
their right to live peacefully.

The Israeli Prawer-Begin racial projects threatens to
 eliminate 36 Arab villages in Negev inhabited by about
40,000 Palestinians, to settle 250,000 Israeli settlers there.

If the world allows this to go ahead, about 850,000
 duman of Negev lands will be confiscated and
 thousands of Palestinian families will be displaced.

___________________________________


SUFFER, LITTLE CHILDREN OF GAZA


Media now often report hundreds of Palestinian
travelers
stranded at the crossing on Gaza's border.

Some 800 people normally leave for Egypt & beyond
 through the Rafah crossing, the only passageway
leading to the rest of the world for most Gazans.

Israel imposed an all-out land, aerial, and naval
blockade of the Gaza in June 2007 after the
democratically-elected Palestinian resistance
movement of Hamas took over administration
 of the territory.

The siege has had a disastrous impact on the
 humanitarian and economic situation in the
impoverished enclave, and turned the territory
 into the world’s largest open-air prison.

Impoverished Palestinians are forced to use
 underground tunnels to bring in essential
 supplies, including food, fuel and medicine.

The Rafah crossing is the Palestinian territory's
 only crossing outside Israeli control.

_________________________________


PEACE DELEGATION    

  A delegation of European peace activists, with which
Egyptian activists joined in, arrived in Gaza after
crossing Rafah from Egypt to deliver humanitarian aid
to needy Palestinians. Gaza was the target of Israeli
attacks for weeks, which increased late November with
a wave of land, air & sea strikes, leaving about 170 dead,
including women and children, and over 1,000 injured,
 according to official figures.

The delegation Welcome to Palestine brought medicines,
medical equipment, and books, says the organizers.
They recall that a similar initiative in 2009 was interfered
with by the Government of toppled former Egyptian
president Hosni Mubarak.

"This is the first time we've made it and arrived in Gaza,"
says Olivia Zamar from the French EuroPalestine group.


__________________________________________



ISRAEL PRODUCING MARTYRS

The banning of a generation of young men from
Al Aqsa is creating a generation of martyrs.

This is what is happening in Gaza. The 
anniversary of Land Day has come and gone.

Israeli soldiers shot two young men, armed
only with a flag, from point blank range.