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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.


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

They'd be angry, right?

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


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

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

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


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

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


The reports of the National Institute of Standards and Technology
(NIST), November 20, 2005, set forth the following conclusions:
The airplanes that struck each of the Twin Towers caused a
breach as well as an explosion evidenced by a giant fireball.
The remaining jet fuel flowed onto the lower floors, sustaining
the fires. The heat from the fires deformed the building
structures and both towers collapsed completely from top to
bottom. Very little that was of any size remained after these
events except steel as well as aluminum fragments and the
pulverized dust from the concrete floors.


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


The NIST report does not analyze the actual nature of the
collapses.  According to experts at the Toronto Hearings
(Sept. 8-11, 2011), the collapses had features that indicate
controlled explosions. I agree with architect Richard Gage
and engineer Jon Cole, both highly experienced professionals
[from Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth – now numbering
1,700 strong], who have arrived at their conclusions through
reliable tests, scientific proof, and the visual testimony of people
above suspicion, including firefighters and victims. The
authoritative theologian David Ray Griffin has described very
precisely why the hypothesis of controlled demolition should
be taken into consideration. Various witnesses heard bursts
of explosions.


According to NIST the collapse of Building 7 was due to fires
provoked by the collapse of the twin towers. Chemist and
independent researcher Kevin Ryan, however, has
demonstrated that NIST gave contradictory versions of
the collapse of Building 7. In a preliminary report NIST
declared that WTC7 was destroyed because of fires
provoked by diesel fuel stored in the building, while in a
second report this fuel was no longer considered the cause
of the building’s collapse. Additional comments on the NIST
version of events have been made by David Chandler,
another expert witness at the Journal of 9/11 Studies
Letters, September 2012 Toronto Hearings. Despite NIST’s
claim of three distinct phases of collapse, Chandler pointed
out that many available videos show that for about two and
a half seconds the acceleration of the building cannot be
distinguished from freefall. NIST has been obliged to agree
with this empirical fact as pointed out by Chandler; now
understandable by everyone.


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


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


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


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


More and more people from all walks of life and all professions
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
reports examiner.com


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


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

architects and scientists maintain that plane fuel couldn't
enough heat to melt the steel frame of the buildings
that collapsed,

little girl frightens USA


1. The US doesn’t give much aid to the Egyptian people
per se. Only $250 million a year out of $1.55 billion
is civilian. The aid is to cement a relationship between
the Egyptian officer corps and the Pentagon.

2. The military aid, $1.3 billion a year, is mostly in-kind,
a grant of weaponry. It must be spent on US weapons
manufacturers. It is US arms manufacturers like
Lockheed-Martin and General Dynamics (and their
employees) who would suffer if it were cut off.

3. The Congress gave the Egyptian Generals a credit
card to buy weapons, and they’ve run up $3 billion
on it for F-16s and M1A1 tanks. If the US cancelled
aid, it's the US who would have to pick up that bill.

4. Even most of the civilian aid is required to be spent
on US goods and materiel. It is corporate welfare
for the US.

5. The aid was given as a bribe to the Egyptian elite
to make nice with Israel. Given the chaos in Sinai,
and Egypt’s instability, Congress is more worried
about that issue than at any time in 40 years.

6. The Israelis asked the US not to suspend the aid.

7. Congress even structured the economic aid, to
require some of it to help joint Israeli-Egyptian
enterprises in Egypt, so part of the aid to
Egypt, actually goes to . . . Israel.

8. It is not generally recognized, but the Egyptian
army is a “security umbrella” for Saudi Arabia,
Kuwait and the UAE against Iran (and often Iraq).
The Persian Gulf oil states also have powerful
Washington lobbies and want Egypt to continue
as a Gurkha force. Children, can you say oil?

9. Many in the US Congress don’t disagree with
the generals’ actions in overthrowing the Muslim
Brotherhood-backed Freedom and Justice Party
and driving it underground, since they agree it is
a terrorist organization.

10. Behind the scenes, Egyptian military intelligence
has helped the US track down extremists, and in the
Mubarak era ran black sites where they tortured
suspected al-Qaeda for Washington. The US deep
state would like to ramp that relationship back up.

(from an article by Press TV, 'opinion')

Anders Fogh Rasmussen wants to beat Russia down

The face of today's US-led NATO boss,
unelected Anders "Fau pas" Rasmussen.




Anti-govt protesters seize Ukrainian
APCs, as army units 'switch sides'

Kiev’s military faced off with protesters in
 east Ukraine on Wednesday to sort out their
 differences… and found none.

Soldiers appeared reluctant to go into battle
against anti-government activists.

As Ukrainian Armored Personnel Carriers (APCs)
 entered downtown Kramatorsk as part of Kiev’s
 military operation against anti-government
 protesters in the east of the country, they were
 stopped in their tracks, and surrounded by
 crowds of local residents.

One YouTube video of what happened next
shows a woman coming to a soldier with the
 reproach:  “You are the army, you must
protect the people.”

“We are not going to shoot, we weren’t
 even going to,” is the soldier’s reply.

Similar conversations could be heard at each
 of several APCs which entered the city, with
locals promising to defend their neighbours,
 in case the soldiers start a military operation.

Military vehicles parked in downtown Kramatorsk
 have turned into hotspots for political discussion,
 with people beside the vehicles trying to get their
views through to people on top of the tanks.

Another video features the Kramatorsk crowds
loudly chanting “Army with the people” and
 applauding the soldiers as they were leaving
 their APCs.

“Guys, we are with you! You are great!” women
 are heard yelling to the vacating soldiers.

Six Ukrainian military vehicles in Kramatorsk
 actually switched sides and began flying
 Russian flags on Wednesday.

Later a report emerged that 3 more Ukrainian
 armored vehicles had switched sides in the
 Donetsk Region.

The vehicles came to the centre of Slavyansk,
 took down their Ukrainian flags and handed
 their weapons to self-defense squads.

“We decided not to be at war with the people
 and not to defend authorities like this,” the
crew members explained to RIA Novosti.

One YouTube video shows an encounter where
 some Ukraine military vehicles raise Russian flags,
 while others raise the flags of the Donetsk People’s
 Republic that the supporters of federalization want
 to establish. The crowd reacted with loud cheers.

Vladimir, a resident of Kramatorsk who witnessed
 the events, told RT in a phone call that a clear
 majority of the soldiers who arrived at Kramatorsk
 in armored vehicles were “boys of only 18-20 yrs
 old, with their heads freshly shaved, as they had
 just entered military service.”

Immediately after the column of armored vehicles
 was blocked near the local market, local residents
 surrounded the column with a human chain, but
 did nothing more, Vladimir said.

“Both sides were simply standing there and smoking,
 waiting for God-knows-what. Then the local militia
 came to the scene, and asked the locals to step
 back, and started negotiations. The soldiers were
 asked if they would like to surrender. They thought
a little bit – and agreed,” Vladimir said.

The soldiers and civilians started fraternizing
 very quickly and soon were joking about
 “coming for a visit without weapons next time.”

Many soldiers put on St. George’s ribbons,
the traditional Russian emblem used to
 commemorate the Soviet Union’s fight
against Nazism in World War II.

The tanks have already been driven away
 to a safe place by the local militia, the
 witness said.

Vladimir said that Kramatorsk wasn't under siege,
 but confirmed that there were armed checkpoints
 throughout the city.

 Military helicopters have been flying over the city
 since Tuesday, when there were clashes at the
 local airport.

 The local Internet connection is extremely
 unstable and mobile networks have been
 functioning only intermittently over the last
few days, he said.

On Tuesday, when the military operation against
 anti-government protesters in the east was
 launched, it was not so peaceful.

According to activists, four people were killed
 and two others injured when troops seized an
 airfield in Kramatorsk, which had earlier been
 controlled by protesters.


CIA Involvement in Repressive
                 Ukraine Operation Denounced               
 The military operation by the Government in
 the country''s eastern region is a result of the
visit from CIA Chief John Brennan, a Ukrainian
 expert affirms.

President of the Centre for Systemic Analysis
 and Forecasts, Rostislav Itschenko, says that
 the repressive operation taking place in south-
eastern Ukraine is not a casual coincidence,
 considering the presence of Brennan in Kiev.

After Moscow's insistence on a convincing
 explanation for the emergency visit, the US
 State Department confirmed that Brennan
 was in the Ukrainian capital, but denied that
 the CIA had backed "the tactical operation"
 in the regions outside Kiev.
Head of the International Affairs Committee of
Parliament, Alexéi Pushkov, says that Brennan's
 visit is a corroboration of the "extremely close
 relationship" between Ukrainian and US leaders.

Meanwhile, in Tallin, US Republican Senator
John McCain declared to the Estonian media
 that the US will provide arms to Ukraine "so
 it can defend itself from Russian threats."

The US Department of State announces today
 that $11.4 million USD will be allocated for early
 presidential elections in Ukraine, scheduled for
 May 25th.


Zionist Police Break into Al-Aqsa
 temple in Jerusalem, Wound 30+
Over 30 Palestinians holding a sit-in in Al-Aqsa
 Mosque were wounded after Israeli occupation
 forces shot at them on Wednesday in an attempt
 to eject them by force from the mosque, an
Al-Manar correspondent says.

A large number of police officers broke into
 Al-Aqsa Mosque courtyard, firing rubber bullets
 and stun grenades. The occupation forces also
 detained one of the mosque guards.

Palestinians held the sit-in to stop Israeli forces
 attempting to bring Jewish settlers to Al-Aqsa
to perform their rituals, Palestine Today reports.

Witnesses say that Zionist Special Forces and
 snipers were deployed to force Palestinians to
 leave the yards of Al-Aqsa as troops besieged
 those in the mosque, Arabs48 website reports.

Special Forces were also deployed at all entrances
 of Al-Aqsa. They set up checkpoints and prevented
 hundreds of women and men under the age of 50
 from worshiping in the mosque.

Israeli forces also assaulted protestors
 near Bab Hatta and Bab Al-Silsila.

It is noteworthy that tightening the security
 measures in and near Al-Aqsa coincides with
 extremist Jewish calls for breaking into Al-Aqsa.


Kiev launches military operation
in eastern Ukraine

Ukraine’s coup-appointed acting President
Aleksandr Turchinov announces the start of
 a crackdown on anti-government protesters
in the north of Donetsk Region.

“The anti-terrorist operation started overnight
 Monday,” says Turchinov. “The aim of these
actions is to protect the citizens of Ukraine.”

According to Turchinov, this ‘anti-terrorist
operation’ also aims to prevent “attempts
to break Ukraine apart.”

The anti-government protesters in south-
eastern Ukraine have recently protested
 against the coup-appointed authorities.

They demand constitutional reform that takes
 into consideration the interests of all Ukraine
 regions. They also propose the federalization
of the country and to make Russian a second
 official language in the regions.

Earlier, a clip posted on YouTube showed
local people in the town of Rodinskoye,
 Donetsk Region, who stopped a tank,
 allegedly on its way from Kiev to take
part in the Kiev crackdown.

Andrey Parubiy, head of Ukraine’s National
Security and Defense Council, on Tuesday,
announces that a battalion of the National
Guard “comprised of volunteers from Maidan
self-defense troops", is on its way from Kiev.

According to Parubiy, the “battalion is
comprised of volunteers from Maidan
 self-defense troops".

On Monday, Turchinov signed a decree
 to officially begin a “special anti-terrorist
operation” in the east of the country.

He ordered "that the National Security and
 Defense Council's decision of April 13, 2014,
'On urgent measures to overcome the territorial
 threat and to preserve the territorial integrity of
 Ukraine', be put into effect."

Russia has warned that if Kiev uses force
 it will undermine the effort to convene a 4-
party conference on resolving the crisis in
the country, which would include the US,
the EU, Russia and Ukraine.

Turchinov also proposes conducting a joint
operation with UN peacekeeping forces, a
decision that is strongly condemned by
Russian FM Sergey Lavrov at Beijing press
 conference, as “totally unacceptable.”

The Kiev authorities have already tried to
 launch a so-called “anti-terrorist operation”
 in the eastern city of Slavyansk, Donetsk
Region, after anti-government protesters
seized several buildings in the city.

Gunfire broke out on Sunday, after troops in
black uniforms supported by armored vehicles
 and several helicopters, approached the road-
block set up by locals. One person was killed
and two others injured in the crackdown.

There are rumours that among the troops were
 members of the radical ultranationalist Right
Sector movement, who were mobilized to take
 decisive steps to “defend Ukraine’s sovereignty.”


Ukraine presidential candidates attacked in Kiev

Radicals have attacked two Ukrainian presidential
 candidates. One of them, Oleg Tsarev, was “brutally
 beaten,” claimed the candidate’s press office. The
radicals poured green antiseptic solution and flour
on another candidate, Mikhail Dobkin.

Oleg Tsarev was attacked after being trapped inside
 the ICTV media building following his appearance on
 the ‘Svoboda Slova’ chat show, according to the
 statement released by Tsarev’s office.

“It was with great difficulty that government
 security forces were able to recapture Oleg
Tsarev from the angry mob. He was severely
beaten and is in serious condition,” the press
office says.

Earlier, there were reports of the entire building
 being surrounded by unidentified gunmen with
 Tsarev trapped inside and his car attacked,
 including slashed tires.

After the attack, Tsarev says that he will not
 withdraw his candidacy from the presidential
 election under any circumstances, his press
office states.

“Peaceful dialogue between the authorities and
all of the people in the country, the search for
 compromise and understanding are the only
 ways to solve the political crisis,” Interfax
quotes the politician as saying in the lobby
of the General Prosecutor's Office, on
Tuesday night.

Meanwhile, Konstantin Dolgov, the Russian Foreign
 Ministry’s commissioner for human rights, has noted
 a “shy silence” from Western countries towards the
 attack on Tsarev.

“The Maidan tank democracy is in full swing, the
 extremists remained unpunished,” Dolgov tweets.
 “Typical double standards.”

According to Dolgov, the Kiev coup-appointed
 government is using ‘tank’ force against people
 in south-eastern Ukrainian cities whose rights
 should be protected by this very government.

“Is this an inclusive political dialogue and a
constitutional reform?” he asks on Twitter.

Around the same time, unidentified individuals
 blocked and damaged the vehicle carrying
another presidential candidate, Mikhail Dobkin,
 while attacking and injuring his aides on their
 way to that same talk show.

Dobkin spoke of the attack during a live
 'phone interview later on the show. Other
 media report that the radicals poured
 green antiseptic solution & flour on him.

The two candidates were scheduled to
 join a third presidential candidate, Yulia
 Tymoshenko, on the talk show.

Both Dobkin and Tsarev submitted their
 candidacies for the presidential election
 as self-nominees.

 Ukraine’s presidential elections are scheduled
to be held on May 25th, with 23 registered
candidates taking part in the campaign.

Dobkin is a businessman-turned-politician and
 former governor of the eastern Kharkov region.
 During his presidential bid he vows to focus on
 reviving relations with Russia, if elected.

Tsarev is also from the eastern part of Ukraine
 and was a Dnepropetrovsk businessperson
 and People's Deputy of Ukraine elected for the
 Party of Regions. He was later expelled from
 the party, on April 7th.

This is not the first time Tsarev has been
attacked in recent days. There are reports
 of him being caught up in clashes in Odessa
 on Friday, as well as being beaten and pelted
 with eggs in Nikolaev, by members of the
 Right Sector, according to RIA Novosti.



China usually stays out of conflict,
believing as it does in the unity of
its state, and in non-interference.

But on Monday, Xinhuanet says this:

Russia warns of civil war in Ukraine,
 West ratchets up sanctions
Russia warns Ukraine not to use force on
pro-Russia protesters, saying it might lead
 to civil war, while the West continues to
 impose sanctions on Russia.

The use of armed force against pro-Russia
 protestors in eastern Ukraine is "dangerous",
 Moscow's ambassador to the Organization
for Security and Cooperation in Europe
 (OSCE), Andrei Kelin, says.

"In Moscow, we strongly believe it might lead
 to a civil war. We are very worried," Kelin says.

Russia has consistently denied that there are
 Russian troops in Ukraine, saying it isn't in
Russia's interest to have troops there.

After armed confrontation between Ukrainian
 security forces and pro-Moscow protesters,
 who were occupying government buildings in
 the cities of Donetsk, Lugansk and Kharkov,
 demanding a referendum on autonomy and
 closer ties with Russia, Russia voiced its
profound concern.

According to the local 1+1 TV channel, at least
 4 people were killed and 10 injured in the clashes.

Ukraine has taken a hardline attitude toward the
 pro-Russia activists. On April 8th, the government
 approved a tougher anti-separatism law, providing
 for jail terms of up to five years for a single offence
 and up to 10 years for repeat offenses for those
 convicted of breaking Ukraine territorial supremacy.

The Ukraine parliament also made the criminal
 liability for treason harsher, requiring offenders
to spend 12 to 15 years behind the bars.

The Ukrainian government then launched an
 "anti-terrorist" operation in an eastern city on
 April 13th, Interior Minister Arsen Avakov says.

He says men who seized buildings opened
 fire on the approaching troops, adding that
both sides suffered casualties in the clash.

Avakov said then that the special forces had
begun to "regroup" and urged local residents
 to remain calm and stay at home as a safety

"Pass this on to all civilians: they should leave
 the centre of town, not come out of their
 apartments, and not go near the windows,"
 he said.

Acting Ukrainian President Oleksandr Turchynov
 yesterday called on the United Nations to send
 peacekeeping forces to the east of the country.

During a 'phone conversation with UN Secretary-
General Ban Ki-moon, Turchynov proposed a
 joint Ukraine-UN "anti-terror operation".

However, the hardline response so far has
 proven to be counterproductive, inciting
more clashes with the pro-Russia activists.

The Ukrainian government then stated that
it was backing down on federalization, to
 ease the tension in the east.

"We are not against holding the referendum,"
 Turchynov told the lawmakers, referring to
 the Ukrainian interim authorities.

He suggested voting be held along with
the presidential elections scheduled for
 May 25th, if the parliament adopted a
corresponding decision.

Meanwhile, Russia has slammed the West
 for its sanctions against Russia's national
car racing team, saying the team has
nothing to do with the events in Ukraine
 and sets no political or economic goals.

The move was one of the sanctions the West
 has imposed on Russia following the recent
 unrest in Ukraine.

The European Union (EU) decided yesterday
 to expand the number of Russians subject to
 its asset freezes and visa bans.

EU foreign ministers issued a joint statement
 demanding that Russia "call back its troops
 from the Ukrainian border."

It also threatened that any destabilizing steps
 by Russia in Ukraine "would lead to additional
 and far reaching consequences for relations in
 a broad range of economic areas."

Meanwhile, the EU also pledged to continue
 diplomatic engagement to de-escalate the
 crisis and stabilize the situation.

Washington has suspended military cooperation
 and trade and investment talks with Russia, and
 slapped sanctions on a number of key Russian
 and Crimean officials. It also has threatened to
 target Russia's key sectors like energy, banking
 and mining, in response to any further moves.


Militia in Slavyansk gets weapons back,
starts patrolling streets — acting mayor

Anti-Kiev protesters in Slavyansk, eastern
 Ukraine, have returned most weapons to
the local militia, after it took the side of
the Donetsk People’s Republic.

All weapons, except automatic guns, have now
been returned to the militiamen, who've started
patrolling the city streets, Slavyansk’s acting
mayor, Vyacheslav Ponomaryov, tells
 ITAR-TASS on Monday.

“The militia is on our side. They are starting to
 patrol the streets, together with the Cossacks
 and the self-defense forces,” Ponomaryov says.

Their main task is to maintain public order and
 fight any manifestations of extremism. The
 militia is also investigating assaults on some
members of Donbass people’s volunteer force.

One volunteer has been killed and another
4 injured, since the confrontation started.

Federalization supporters in Slavyansk have
also established control over a local military
 airfield, according to witnesses.

They are afraid that the government in Kiev will
 airlift forces to crack down on the anti-Kiev
 protesters in Slavyansk.

A video on the Internet shows men in civilian
 clothes and armed with submachine-guns,
 encircling the airfield.


Kiev must stop war on Ukrainians –
 Russia’s envoy to UN

The international community must demand that
 those who are in power in Kiev stop waging war
 on their own citizens in south-eastern Ukraine,
Russia’s UN envoy Vitaly Churkin tells the UN
 Security Council.

“The international community must demand that
the stooges of Maidan stop the war against their
 own people", Churkin says at an emergency
Security Council session, called by Russia.

Churkin stresses that “reckless actions”
by the Kiev government are “threatening
 to rip apart the delicate mosaic of
 Ukrainian society.”

Kiev’s post-coup authorities, Churkin says,
  “stubbornly,” refuse to listen to those who
 reject Kiev's “radicalized, chauvinistic,
 Russophobic, anti-Semitic forces.”

“Some, including those in this hall, constantly
 look for Moscow's hand in the events in the
 southeast , persistently - without wishing to
 see the true reasons for events in Ukraine.
 Quit doing it,” Churkin tells the meeting.

“Quit spreading tales that we built up military
 armadas on the border with Ukraine, ready
 at any moment, within a few hours, to reach
almost as far as La Manche; that we sent
 hordes of agents to coordinate the actions
 of the protesting people of Ukraine.”

Monstrous Russophobia bordering on hatred
became the norm in the Verhovna Rada,
Churkin reminds his listeners.

 “These beings deserve only one thing – death,”
 Churkin quotes a recent female Svoboda party
 MP’s saying, about protesters in the East.
And such views are widely shared among her
 “brutal co-party members,” he adds.

The people's outcry in the East was indeed
answered by Ukraine's Parliament – with
 “draconian laws” threatening them with
long term imprisonment for “separatism”
 and “terrorism,” Churkin says.

US Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power:

“You heard that there are no Russian troops
 in eastern Ukraine but the fact is that many
 of the armed units that we have seen were
outfitted in bullet proof vests, camouflage
 uniforms with insignia removed,” she says.

“We know who is behind this. Indeed the only
 entity in the area capable of coordinating
 these professional military actions is Russia,”
 Power claims.

Ukraine's Ambassador Yuriy Sergeyev:

 “Russia has not only constantly been increasing
 its troops alongside the Ukrainian border but
also sending subversive groups into Ukrainian
 regions in order to destabilize the situation.”
 He accuses Russia of orchestrating a full-scale
 “terrorist operation” in the East.

Replying to these critics, Churkin warns that
 a deadline is looming, and that the prospect
 of holding negotiations next week will be
 undermined if Kiev uses force against the
 people in the East.

“Let’s move aside from speculations, accusations,
 from searching for Russian phantoms flying all
 over different corners of Ukraine, but let us
 concentrate attention on what we can do – in
 this case I'm directing my eyesight at my
 Western colleagues – in order to prevent the
 Kiev authorities’ reckless actions, which at
 this moment are embodied in the criminal
order of Mr. Turchinov, and to prevent the
 realization of this order, which will have the
 most severe implications primarily for the
 people of Ukraine.”

To his Ukrainian colleague’s accusation that
 Russia is supporting terrorism in Ukraine,
Churkin responds: “Why did you not accuse
 of terrorism those who were terrorizing your
 government for a span of several months?”

“Those who actually terrorized the security
 forces, who actually set on fire the policemen,
 shot at them, just like they did at those who
were protesting against the authorities and
 seemingly acted on their side. Those people,
 for some reason, you did not call terrorists,
 and even relieved them from any liability
 for their criminal actions - conducted
 over several months.”

Churkin calls the accusations against Russia
“ridiculous” pointing out that Russia's calls
 to start negotiations at the beginning of
 the crisis, were completely ignored.

 “Why did you encourage this crisis?”
Churkin asks.

“Russia, throughout the stretch of the
 Ukrainian crisis spoke out not for any
aggravation of the crisis, not to
destabilize the country,” but to “keep
the situation stable” in the neighboring
country, Churkin told the UNSC, adding,
“it is not our fault, what we're witnessing.”

He questions the role the US plays in any EU
 decision making process, citing the fact that
 Washington was quick to answer President's
 Putin letter addressed to EU nations, on gas
 transit to Europe.

 “We will have to wait and see if there is any
 sovereignty left in the EU. Can it independently
make decisions that could lead the situation
 out of crisis?”

Churkin stresses that Russia has repeatedly
 stated that constitutional reform, mentioned
 in the February 21st agreement, has to be
 implemented, to avoid escalating tension.

 He also stresses that FM Sergey Lavrov in
 conversations with his counterpart, John
 Kerry, always tries to explain to him the
position of pro-federalization activists, so
 the US can get a full picture of the tension
 in Ukraine.

And while Russia and the US continue their talks,
 Churkin says, some politicians in the US already
 state that these conversations “will not lead to
 anything” and are just being conducted by the
US to “occupy time.”

“Occupy time? Does that mean that someone
 in Washington actually has something like
 Turchinov’s armed scenario in their heads?
 If so, let’s not accuse Russia of seeking to
 destabilize the situation.”

Churkin accuses the West of double standards,
 pointing out the fact that the West encouraged
 actions to overthrow the government in Kiev in
 February, while at the same time condemning
the events in the East of the country, where
 people reject the new rule forcibly imposed
 on them.

Russia's UN envoy also says that there seems to be
 a total disconnect in Kiev's approach to the crisis,
 as the acting prime minister, Yatsenyuk, talks
 of the possibility of referenda, while Turchinov,
 at the same time, is giving crackdown orders.
 “It seems they prefer to use force,” Churkin says.

Samantha Power takes the floor again,
to say that the US consistently “called
 for de-escalation and urged restraint”
when dealing with the Ukrainian crisis,
saying “there has been no shortage of
 evidence in diplomacy.”

She again blames Russia for fuelling
 Ukraine's crisis.

“It is not the United States that escalated
 the situation. It is the Russian Federation,”
 Power says, stating that it is hard to
 “reconcile the behavior of the Russian
 Federation, the propaganda of the Russian
 Federation, the military actions of the
 Russian Federation, which range from the
 massing of 40,000 troops at the border to
 the subversive activities inside Ukraine,”
 with “this appeal for diplomacy and de-
escalation, and an appeal we wish was
 in fact sincere.”

Power says that Russia's point of view is
 “rooted in the idea that the internet does
 not exist” where people can see all the

She claims that the pro-federalization rallies
 are not protests, but instead are a series of
 military operations by “professional forces,
 carrying weapons, Russian made weapons
 as it happens, carrying out sophisticated,
 complicated military operations across a
 substantial no. of eastern Ukrainian cities.”

Powers ends by saying that the “credibility
 of the Russian Federation has been greatly

In his final address to the council, Churkin
expresses hope that his calls will eventually
 find some response, and that the bloodshed
 in Ukraine will be prevented while there is
still time.

“Maybe, he, Vice President Biden, will pick up
 the 'phone and call Mr. Turchinov, as he often
 called Mr. Yanukovich before Feb 21st?”
 Churkin asks.

“Just call to tell Mr. Turchinov the same thing
 he told Mr. Yanukovich. He told him, as the
press service of the vice president reported:
 'For God's sake don’t use force, get rid of
 your security forces from central Kiev.”

“And now what? Will the US endorse the
realization of this criminal order to use
 armed forces?” Churkin says, urging
Ms Power to tell Biden "immediately"
 to call Kiev, instead of waiting for his
 planned visit, as, "in a couple of hours,
 the situation could take an irreversible

The urgent UN Security Council meeting
came, after the coup-imposed Kiev
government authorized the use of the
military in Ukraine’s south-east, to
suppress their popular uprising.

Events on the ground have taken a very
 dangerous turn, Russia's Foreign Ministry
 said in a statement on Sunday, slamming
 the order of a full-scale military operation
 as “criminal.”

“The Kiev authorities, who self-proclaimed
 themselves as a result of a coup, have
 embarked on a violent military suppression
 of the protests,” the ministry said, adding
that the rallies which have gripped the
Donbas region, were prompted by Kiev’s
disregard of
people's legitimate interests.


NATO to Moscow: Pull back your forces

NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen
Sunday accuses “pro-Russian protesters” of trying
to “destabilize Ukraine” as demonstrators are
reported to be taking over more official
buildings in the country’s eastern regions.

Rasmussen tells Russia to "de-escalate"
 the ongoing crisis and to "pull back" its
troops near the borders with Ukraine.

"Any further Russian military interference,
 under any pretext, will only deepen
 Russia's international isolation," he says.


On Sunday, Kiev starts its deadly operation
against pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine.

Interior Minister Arsen Avakov says both sides
 have suffered "casualties" in the offensive in
 Slavyansk, that threatens to further escalate
 tensions with Russia.

"There are dead and wounded on both sides,"
 Avakov writes on his Facebook page.

"On our side -- an SBU (Ukrainian Security
Service) officer. On the side of separatists
 -- an unidentified number... The separatists
 have started to protect themselves using
 human shields,"  he writes.

Russia Today reports a gunfight in the city
 of Slavyansk in eastern Ukraine, where anti-
government protesters hold several buildings.

“Helicopters are flying over the defiant city in
 the Donetsk region. The aircraft are Ukrainian,
 judging by two white markings on their tails -
 painted on all Ukrainian military hardware to
 distinguish them from Russian ones of the
same design.

Armored infantry vehicles have also been
spotted near the city,”  RT says.

Earlier, Avakov announced an “anti-
terrorist operation" against pro-Russian
 gunmen holed up in a police station in
 the restive east.

“An anti-terrorist operation has begun in Slavyansk.
 It is being directed by the anti-terrorist centre of
 the state security service. Forces from all the
 security units of the country have been brought
 in,” he said.

On Saturday, the interior and defense ministries
 announced their plans to launch operational
 responses to separatist sentiments in eastern
 parts of the country after government buildings
were seized by pro-Russian protesters in
 Slavyansk, in southern Donetsk.

Crimea's secession from Ukraine in
 March, the secessionist movement spread
 to other regions including Odessa, Lugansk,
 Nikolayev, Slavyansk, Kramatorsk and
Druzhkovka:- all in Donetsk Province.

Protesters in these areas took control
of government buildings and raised the
 Russian flag over the buildings.

Reports say fighting has erupted in several towns
 in eastern Ukraine. Protesters demand referenda
 on breaking away from Ukraine and integrating
 into Russia, but Ukrainian officials say that their
 demands are "unacceptable".

Meanwhile, in Western Ukraine, a unit of the
 neo-nazi Right Sector bloc has occupied and
fire to, the headquarters of Ukraine's
Communist Party, in Rovno city.

About 50 members of the extremist Falange
 burst into the Communists' regional office
 and demanded that the people there leave
 the building, accusing them of supporting
protests in south-eastern Ukraine.

Police did not intervene in the action and
no arrests have been reported so far,
while the Communists announce that
they plan an "appropriate response" to
 the Right Sector neo-fascists.

On Saturday evening, Russian FM Sergey Lavrov
 told his US counterpart, John Kerry, that, if Kiev
 fulfils its threat to use force against desperate
 South-eastern Ukrainians, it will undermine the
 prospect of a four-sided meeting in Geneva and
"other cooperation" on the Ukrainian crisis.


Kiev backpedals on referendums
after deadline to stop protest ends

Just after the deadline set for the protesters
 in eastern Ukraine to vacate seized buildings
 expired, Kiev's temporary PM Arseny Yatsenyuk
 pledges to push through a law allowing regional
 referendums in the country.

Holding referendums on the status of their
respective regions was a main demand of
anti-Maidan activists, who have taken over
a number of governmental buildings in
eastern Ukraine this week.

Ukrainian law currently does not allow regions
 to hold referendums separately from the rest
 of the country.

 It was one of the main arguments Kiev voiced
 in declaring illegal last month’s referendum in
 Crimea, which ended with it seceding from
 Ukraine and joining Russia.

Speaking in Donetsk, Yatsenyuk said his
 government wants greater autonomy for
Ukrainian regions, including the abolition
 of the offices of Kiev-appointed governors.

He was speaking just as a 48-hour deadline,
 which Kiev gave to protesters to evacuate
 the seized buildings, expired.

The central authorities had threatened force,
 including military force - and even threatened
to deal with their opponents as terrorists - if
they didn't withdraw from the buildings.

The U-turn comes after Ukraine’s elite Alpha unit
 reportedly refused to obey an order to besiege
 the protester-held buildings.

 At a session of law enforcement officials in Donetsk,
 one of the Alpha commanders said that he and his
 men are a force intended for rescuing hostages and
 fighting terrorism, and will only act in accordance
 with the law, local media report.

This unconfirmed act of defiance comes days
after the siege by police of a seized building
 in Kharkov, which ended with dozens of
 activists being arrested.

 On Thursday, a local police lieutenant-colonel
 spoke to the media, claiming that he and other
 officers were deceived by the Kiev authorities.

He claimed that they were sent to take over
 the building under the pretext that it was held
 by dangerous armed bandits.

 In fact the protesters had only improvised clubs
 and offered no resistance to the storming troops.

The officer, Andrey Chuikov, said he would no
longer take “criminal” orders, and announced
 his resignation from the police, adding that he
 would be sacked anyway, by his superiors,
 for speaking to the press.

Protests have taken place in Donetsk, Kharkov
 and Lugansk, while smaller protest actions and
 "clashes" are reported in Odessa and Nikolayev.

Donetsk activists remain in control of the regional
 administration building and have built three lines
 of barricades to defend themselves from a siege.
They have declared the Donetsk region, home
 to about one-tenth of the population of Ukraine,
 a “people’s republic” and have demanded a
 referendum on its future status.

 They also state that they are forming a
“people’s army” in response to threats
of violence from Kiev.

Negotiations between the activists and the
 Kiev-appointed authorities of the region were
held on Thursday and into Friday morning.

They're trying to hammer out a deal to de-
escalate the tension, which includes joint
 patrols by police and Donetsk activists,
 and a possible move by protesters to a
 nearby building.

In Lugansk, activists maintain their hold
 on a Ukrainian Security Service office.

 They also cordoned off the Interior Ministry’s
 troops base on Thursday night, saying this
 would prevent their deployment for a crack-
down on the protest - although, later, their
blockade was lifted.

In Kharkov, where police on Tuesday captured
 a regional administration building and took over
50 activists into custody, the protests do not
 seem to be calming down.

 On Thursday evening several hundred people
 picketed the building, despite a court ban on
 doing so.

 A mass protest rally is scheduled for Sunday.


Venezuela Asks Vatican to Mediate Political Crisis

President Nicolas Maduro’s government has asked
 Cardinal Pietro Parolin to be a witness in good faith
 in talks to end the conflict with the opposition,
which has led to two months of deadly protests.

President Maduro is now holding 'face to face'
talks with his opposition-leader opponent.


A senior Israeli official calls on the Tel Aviv
 regime to annex 60% of the West Bank now.

Israeli Finance Minister Naftali Bennett launches
 a plan called ‘Settlement Blocs First,’ and urges
 the regime’s PM, Benjamin Netanyahu, to annex
 nearly 60% of the West Bank to punish the PA
 for furthering Palestinian recognition at the UN.

The plan calls for annexing territories such as
 Ariel and Beit el-Ofra.

Bennett’s call comes via a letter to Netanyahu,
insisting that the era of negotiations has ended:

“It is clear that the diplomatic process has run
 its course and that we are entering a new era,”
 Bennett writes. “We have been hitting our heads
 against the wall of negotiations over and over
again for years and we kept getting surprised
when the wall did not break. The time has
come for new thinking.”

The PA’s bid to join several UN agencies came
 in response to Israel’s refusal to free a final
batch of Palestinian prisoners, as agreed.



Members of German civil society have written an
 open letter to Russian President Vladimir Putin,
 condemning Russophobia in the mass media
and the German political establishment, while
 showing support for Moscow's actions in the
ongoing Ukrainian crisis.

Retired German Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Jochen
 Scholz wrote an open letter to the Russian leader in
 response to the speech Putin made on March 18th,
2014 at the reunification of Crimea with Russia.

 The letter was co-signed by hundreds of Germans
 including lawyers, journalists, doctors, servicemen,
scholars, scientists, diplomats and historians.

In their letter the German intellectuals said that
 Putin’s speech “appealed directly to the German
 people” and deserved a “positive response that
 corresponds to the true feelings of Germans.”

The letter acknowledges that the Soviet Union
  played a decisive role in the liberation of Europe
 from Nazi Germany and helped the reunification
 of Germany and its membership of NATO after
 the fall of the Berlin Wall and the dissolution of
 the Warsaw Pact.

Then US President, George Bush Sr. gave
 assurances to Russia that NATO would not
expand eastward, and yet, despite Moscow
 showing trust, the US and its allies have
violated that commitment, Scholz says.

“NATO expansion into the former Soviet republics,
 the creation of military bases in the former Warsaw
 Pact countries and the setup of an umbrella missile
 defense system in Eastern Europe, while unilaterally
 withdrawing from the ABM Treaty by the US is a
 flagrant violation of promises,” the letter reads.

According to Scholz, the West's demonstration
 of its power and readiness to confront Moscow
 in response to the recent economic and political
 consolidation of Russia, which became apparent
 after Vladimir Putin was elected President back
in 2000, is now apparent to us all.

In an interview with RT, Scholz elaborates on his
position, claiming that US interests and its vision
 of a world order where Europe is allocated a role
as  Washington’s “vassals”, differs from
 European interests.

“During the Cold War, the interests of the US
 and Europe were almost 100% identical. But
since 1990 this has changed. European
interests are objectively different to those
 of the US,” he told RT.

 “So our task here in Europe, and of course
 Russia belongs to Europe too, is to take our
 affairs in our own hands. To work with each
 other in peace and cooperation with respect
 for human rights.”

Europeans are now “considered to be an obstacle
 in the way of American intentions in the region,”
as revealed by the leaked telephone conversation
 between Assistant Secretary of State for Europe
 Victoria Nuland and the US ambassador, Scholz says.

Bearing in mind the main US geopolitical goal
 of neutralizing Russia, the ex-colonel believes,
as stated in the letter, that Washington is using
 the Ukrainian unrest as a “tool” to achieve this.

“This template was used repeatedly: in Serbia,
 Georgia and Ukraine in 2004, Egypt, Syria,
Libya and Venezuela,” the letter to Putin reads.

Scholz emphasizes that the main US objective
 is “to deny Ukraine a role as a bridge between
the Eurasian Union and the European Union.”

“Instead they want to bring Ukraine under NATO
 control,” he told RT, stressing that he supports
 Putin's proposal to build a “common European
 Home,” united under “a common economic zone
 from Lisbon to Vladivostok.”

Therefore, the author and the co-signers
 of the letter support the actions taken by
 Russia as a counterweight to US interests.

“Based on the background of the developments
 in Europe since 1990, the establishment of some
 1,000 US military bases around the world, control
 of sea straits by the United States, as well as the
 danger posed by the abuse from Maidan for the
 Russian Black Sea Fleet – we consider the
 separation of the Crimea as a defensive measure
 and, simultaneously, as a warning: this is a line
that cannot be crossed,” the open letter states.

While accepting Kosovo's unilateral declaration
 of independence in 2008 as a precedent for the
self-determination of Crimea, the letter said that
 the principle difference in comparison is clear.

Unlike Crimea, the Kosovo process was
 “violating international law by the NATO
 air war in which Germany unfortunately

In conclusion in his letter Scholz expresses hope
 that European nations can agree not to interfere
 in other nation's affairs, and this could act as a
 guarantee of peace in the rest of the world.

 He calls Vladimir Putin an ally of Europe and
 wishes him “strength, endurance and wisdom.”

Scholz told RT that Berlin is in a “very difficult
 position” as a member of the EU and NATO, as
the goals of these blocs contradict Germany's
 desire “to develop closer relationship with Russia.”

“We should develop our neighbour policy together
 with Russia and on that way we can move forward.
 But in any case there should be no further expansion
 of NATO towards the Russian borders,” he told RT.



Deputies of the Communist party and the ultra

nationalist Svoboda Party had a fight during a
 session of the Ukrainian parliament yesterday.

Communist deputy Petr Simonenko accused
the current authorities of inaction over the
situation in eastern and southern regions.

 "People have long demanded to give the
 Russian language the status of an official
 state language. People demand that we
 should listen to their social problems,
 but the authorities don't listen to them,"
Simonenko said.

He also stated that "the current authorities
 call the protesters seizing administrative
 buildings in Donetsk, Luhansk and Kharkiv

 "yet when there were seizures of regional
 administrations in western Ukraine, Svoboda
 Party deputies called the protesters patriots,"
 the communist leader added.

After these words the nationalist deputies
ran up
to Simonenko and tried to push him
off the stand.

 Communist deputies tried to defend their
leader and fought off the Svoboda deputies.

*   *   *

Meanwhile, Ukraine's temporary Interior Minister
 Arsen Avakov, threatens to fire 30% of all police
in Kharkiv city.

"I said yesterday that a considerable number of
police officers were not so much serving their
Motherland, as sabotaging the process. I believe
at least 30% of Kharkiv police will
be dismissed,"
Avakov says.

Avakov praises Berkut, which took part in an
operation Tuesday morning to clear a
building set on
fire by a group
amongst the protesters.

The fire was extinguished and police took
70 protesters suspected of illegal
actions, who
are being detained in pre-trial 
holding centres
outside their home region.

Law-enforcement bodies did not use firearms.
Preliminary reports say the Jaguar unit based
 in the Vinnitsa region was used in the operation.



Amnesty International says many of the
 10 to 12 million Roma living in Europe
 face “the daily threat of forced eviction,
 police harassment and violent attacks.”

In a report released on International Roma Day,
 the rights group says European countries are
 failing to protect their Roma communities.

Amnesty blames Europe's leaders for echoing
 populist anti Roma sentiment, saying they fuel
 violence against the community by branding it
anti-social and unwelcome.

“The conditions in which many Roma are forced
 to live is a damning indictment of years of official
 neglect and discrimination,” the report states.

Amnesty says in its report that the European
Union has been “reluctant to challenge member
 states on the systemic discrimination of Roma
 that is all too evident.”

It also accuses the European Commission of
failing to take clear and decisive action to
address the violence and discrimination
against Roma.

Amnesty’s report shows that many of France’s
 20,000 Roma people live in extreme poverty in
 makeshift settlements with little or no access
to basic services, and are at constant risk of
forced evictions.

It also cites several examples of alleged police
 brutality against the community, including spraying
 tear gas inside tents where children were sleeping
 and the beating up of a man in Marseille.

The rights group also documents an example
 in Greece, where police are accused of Roma
 harassment, by conducting 1,130 operations on
 their settlements in the first 9 months of 2013.

Amnesty says that Roma communities in the
 Czech Republic
last year, were also subjected
to official systematic harassment, linked with
anti-Roma protests across the country.

EU leaders repeatedly blame the Roma community
 for “failing to integrate” into their societies, saying
 they should be transferred back to Romania and
 Bulgaria, which house the most Roma people.


Independent People’s Republics
versus US mercenaries and neo-fascists

Russia today warns Ukraine over the build up
of Ukrainian troops and US mercenaries in the
 southeastern part of Ukraine, and says that
this move could lead to a “civil war.”
Russia's Foreign Ministry now says
that it is particularly concerned, as:
 “the operation involves some 150 US
 mercenaries from a private company,
 Greystone Ltd., dressed in the uniform
 of the special task police unit Sokol.”

“Organizers of and participants in such
 incitement assume a huge responsibility
 for threatening the rights, freedoms and
 lives of Ukrainian citizens, as well as the
 stability of Ukraine,” it adds.

The statement calls on Kiev's authorities
 to stop all military preparations in the
region, "immediately".

The Russian statement comes after Ukraine’s
 acting Interior Minister, A. Avakov, confirmed
 that more units of special forces have arrived
 in southern and eastern parts of the country.

“These special forces are ready to solve
operational problems without bias,” Avakov
 said in his address to residents of Kharkiv,
 who held pro-Russia protests yesterday.

The Ukraine interior ministry, however,
the special forces are tasked with
 suppressing protests in the southeast.

Kiev-backed special forces have removed
protesters who took over buildings and
the streets of
Kharkiv are now deserted.

Moscow today urges Kiev not to use force
 against the protesters who have declared
independence in Ukraine's east and south.

The Russian foreign ministry says it has
information that Ukraine is now sending
 internal security forces and volunteers
 from its National Guard, as well as armed
groups from the far-right Right Sector, to
south-east regions --- including Donetsk.

It says Ukraine has tasked these forces
 with "suppression by using force on those
residents of the southeast of the country
 who are against the policies of the
current Kiev authorities."

In a phone conversation with Ukraine's acting
 foreign minister, Andrei Deshchytsa, on Monday,
 Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov called
on the current Ukrainian government to respect
the aspirations of the region’s inhabitants.

"The need to respect the aspirations of the
residents of southeastern Ukraine (and) the
 inadmissibility of the use of force to respond
 to legal demands to protect their language,
culture and socioeconomic rights was
 emphasized," Russia’s Foreign Ministry
 says in a statement.

On Sunday, Ukraine’s interior minister accused
 the Kremlin of orchestrating “separatist disorder”
 in eastern parts of the country, and claimed that
 such moves are a ploy to deploy Russian troops
into Ukraine.

All this, as people in Ukraine’s eastern city
 of Kharkiv declare their  independence from
 Kiev on Monday, after a similar move by pro-
Russians in Donetsk.

Protesters announced the formation of the
 Independent People’s Republic of Kharkiv
 outside the regional administration building.

50 percent of the region's inhabitants are
ethnic Russians who believe that Ukraine's
 acting authorities are nationalists who will
 repress Russians.

Lavrov calls on Kiev to take "urgent measures"
to organize a national dialogue, saying Russia
is ready to "support this process, along with
the European Union and the United States."



An aide to acting PA Chief Mahmoud Abbas,
 says today that Palestinians are going for
more UN recognition by joining many more
international agencies and treaties.

Mohammed Ishtayeh speaks today (Monday)
 after Abbas signed a request to join 15 UN
agencies and international treaties on April 1.

The Israeli regime has reportedly asked Abbas
 to withdraw the letters of accession. However,
 Ishtayeh says that the requests are irreversible.

He says Palestinians “are keeping the door open
 for any serious talks” until April 29 deadline, but
 that gaps on almost all issues have only grown
 and that Israel is not negotiating in good faith.

 In recent weeks, negotiations have been
 on reaching agreement to extend talks
 into 2015.

63 agencies, treaties and conventions have
 been divided into four groups, Ishtayeh says.
“The second tranche of UN organizations is
 ready for signing.”

The release of Palestinian prisoners and
Israel’s illegal settlement expansion in
 the occupied Palestinian territories are
now the two major obstacles to talks.

The Israeli settlements are considered illegal
 under international law. However, Netanyahu
says the settlement construction is part of
Tel Aviv’s policy, and will not stop.


Legislature of just proclaimed Donetsk People's
Republic asks Putin to move in peacekeepers.

Earlier, the deputies of Donetsk regional
council proclaimed state sovereignty for
the Donetsk People’s Republic.

The council of the new Donetsk People’s
 Republic has turned to President Putin,
asking him to introduce a temporary
 peacekeeping contingent.

The lawmakers unanimously supported the
 address of the Republican Council of the
 Donetsk People’s Republic.

“The territory of the republic within the
 recognized borders, is indivisible and
 inviolable,” the council said.

The legislators also passed a decision on
 holding a referendum on whether or not
 the region joins the Russian Federation.

 It will be held no later than May 11th.

Mass meetings supporting Ukraine’s move
 to become a federation, were held under
Russian flags in Kharkiv, Luhansk and
Donetsk, on Sunday.

On Monday, supporters of turning the country
 into a federation, put up barricades in front of
 the entrance to Kharkiv Region's administration
 using tires and other ‘construction materials’.

In Luhansk, unidentified people in the building
 of the Security Service’s regional branch,
 seized the room where service guns were kept.
On using Russian Armed Forces
 on the territory of Ukraine.

On March 1, 2014, Russia’s Federation Council
 gave consent to President Putin using Russian
 armed forces on the territory of Ukraine.

 The relevant decision was unanimously
adopted by the upper house of Russia's
 parliament at an extraordinary session.

 Vladimir Putin asked for use of Russia's
 armed forces on the territory of Ukraine,
 until the socio-political situation in that
 country is normalized.

 His initiative was proposed after a plea by
 Ukraine’s legitimate president Yanukovych.

The Ukrainian leader says his address to
 Vladimir Putin on the use of armed forces,
 was triggered by the 'armed delinquency'
 in Ukraine.

“I’ve done it for a reason: because I
became a target for the criminals.
Armed gangs started to cruise
 around the country. They pursued
 me, in particular, on the territory
 of Ukraine,” he said.


Ukraine nationalists attempt
 to storm Kiev Supreme Court

Russia Today reports that Radical activists
 representing the Right Sector group are now
trying to storm Kiev’s Supreme Court building.

 They have blocked all entrances into the
 building and surrounded its perimeter.

Around 100 activists prevented Supreme
 Court employees from entering the building
 through the back door.

Near the building, a stage has been set up
with audio equipment. Car tires have been
 brought to the building, but haven’t yet
 been set on fire.

The activists disrupted the convention of
judges that was scheduled for Monday.

A few judges, who were in the building
 before the attack, were led out by the
 activists shouting “Lustration!”

The protesters demand they adopt lustration
 legislation, so that people connected to any
 former regime may not take office under the
new authorities.

The far right activists are concerned that
 judicial authorities may grant 150 ousted
officials power, despite their relationship
 with the ousted president.

The 150 include Viktor Yanukovich, ex-head
 of the presidential administration, Andrey
 Klyuyev, ex-premiers Sergey Arbuzov and
 Nikolay Azarov, and Interior Ministry and
judicial officials, and their family members.

Right Sector is known for its violent behavior
and radical far right nationalist views.

The Right Sector movement first appeared at
 the end of November 2013 supporting pro-EU
 crowds in Kiev's Independence Sq. (Maidan).

The movement is headed by Dmitry Yarosh. In
 March, the ultra-nationalist movement decided
 to become a political party, nominating Yarosh
 for president.

Russia has put Yarosh on an international wanted
 list and charged him with inciting terrorism after
 he urged Chechen terrorist leader, Doku Umarov,
 to attack Russia over the Ukrainian conflict.

 The far-right leader has also threatened
 to destroy Russian pipelines in Ukraine.


Russian Military Opens Massive Nuclear War Drill

As Western attention was fixated on a Russian
 military buildup near Ukraine, Moscow launched
 a nuclear offensive exercise, media reports say.

The Russian daily Nezavisimaya Gazeta says
 Russia’s Strategic Missile Forces began a massive
 three-day exercise on Thursday, involving 10,000
 soldiers and 1,000 pieces of equipment from over
30 units.

The major purpose of the drill, according to the
 report - which cites multiple senior Russian military
 officers - is to ensure that Russia’s Strategic Missile
 Forces have sufficient readiness to conduct
 offensive operations involving the massive and
 simultaneous use of nuclear missiles.

Troops were expected to conduct surveillance
for chemical, biological and radiological threats,
and to identify and stop conventional efforts to
thwart the offensive.

Russian strategic missile forces chief, Col.
Gen. Sergei Karakaev, first unveiled plans
 for the command staff exercise in December,
 Nezavisimaya Gazeta reports.

The drill was expected to focus on the Omsk
and Orenburg armies of Karakaev's missile
 forces, and to involve 1,000 pieces of
equipment belonging to over 30 units
of the Russian military.

The Nezavisimaya Gazeta article said there
was "no connection between the current
nuclear exercise and the crisis in Ukraine,"
noting that testing the readiness of Russia’s
strategic forces is especially important, in
light of the “current reality of the world



Protesters in the Ukrainian city of Donetsk
seized the regional department building of
Ukraine’s Security Service, local media report.

 This, after pro-Russian rallies happened across
 Ukraine during the weekend.

“The people’s militia seized Ukraine’s Security
 Service in 15 minutes, at 3:32 in the morning,”
 activists tell Ukraine's Vesti newspaper.

On Sunday, thousands of people waving Russian
flags, flooded the streets of eastern Ukraine.

 Demonstrators in the cities of Donetsk, Lugansk,
 and Kharkov seized state offices, while in Donetsk
 they also demanded an independence referendum.

Violence broke out in the city of Kharkov where
 pro-Russian protesters clashed with alleged
 activists from the far-right Right Sector.

Fireworks were used as weapons during the scuffle,
 with several explosions heard. However, there were
 no reports of injuries as the police managed to
 quickly separate the sides.

Following the incident, the Maidan activists had
 to crawl inside the corridor, erected by police
 for their protection, as the crowd threw foreign
 objects at them.

Following the rally, around 1,500 pro-Russian
 activists made their way to Kharkov’s regional
 administration HQ, UNIAN news agency reports.

Despite the administration being guarded by
 police in riot gear, a group of protesters have
 managed to penetrate the building.

The storm began after the organizers of the
 protests urged participants “to support
Donetsk and Lugansk where government
 buildings were seized earlier in the day.”

According to anti-Maidan activists, around
 10,000 people participated in the protest
 in Kharkov on Sunday.

Pro-Russian rallies are taking place almost
every weekend in major cities in the Russian-
speaking part of Ukraine since the nationalist
 coup ousted president, Viktor Yanukovich, in
 late February.

One of the first laws the new government
 revoked was the regional status of the
 Russian language, which sent a clear
 message to people in the country’s east.


Centre-left candidate Solis wins Costa Rica
presidential run-off with 78% of votes

A centre-left academic Luis Guillermo Solis easily
 won Costa Rica's presidential election on Sunday.

 The former diplomat representing the Citizen Action
 Party (PAC) won with around 78% of votes by tapping
 in to public anger at rising inequality and government
 corruption scandals, Reuters says.

The win dislodges a two-party dynasty that has
 governed the coffee-producing country for decades.

 His rival Johnny Araya of the ruling National
 Liberation Party (PLN) last month halted his
 campaign as polls showed him with little or
 no chance of catching Solis.


France pulls out of Rwandan genocide
commemoration after complicity accusations

France pulls out of the 20th commemoration
 of the
Rwanda genocide, after President Paul
 Kagame says that France played ‘a direct role’
 in one of the vilest events of the 20th century.

The accusations are voiced by Kagame in
 an interview with African weekly, Jeune
 Afrique, published on Sunday.

He says France had a “direct role in the
 political preparation of genocide and
 participation in its execution.”

France aided the Hutu-led government
of Juvenal Habyarimana in Rwanda, by
helping to train and arm its military.

 After Habyarimana’s assassination, a 100
day slaughter of Tutsis & moderate Hutus
 left 500,000 to 1,060,000 million people
 dead, according to different estimates.

Paris also sent its military to carry out UN-
mandated Operation Turquoise, aimed at
establishing a safe zone in the country...

 Critics say it propped up the crumbling Hutu
 government, and helped many guilty genocide
 perpetrators to escape the retribution of the
 advancing Tutsi Rwandan Patriotic Front.

Rwanda’s Foreign Minister Louise Mushikiwabo
 says Paris must face the “difficult truth” about
 its role in the genocide.

Belgium, a former colonial power of Rwanda,
 which had a peacekeeping force at the time
 the bloodshed started and is also mentioned
 by Kagame as a culprit in the genocide, says
 it will still send a delegation.

 Unlike France, Belgium has apologized to
for failing to prevent the atrocities.

The Rwandan genocide was among the worst
humanitarian catastrophes of the last century.

 Official mourning for the lives lost 20 years
 ago, began three months ago in Rwanda.

Apart from the direct damage, this evil act
 dealt a blow to the United Nations, which
failed to act to stop the ongoing bloodshed,
 giving fuel to the supporters of the concept
 of “humanitarian interventions.”

 Its legacy is evident today, as humanitarian
 reasons are used and misused by countries
pursuing their own geopolitical interests.


US operates global drone war
 from German base – ex-pilot

Testimony by a former US Air Force drone pilot
 has revealed that the US is using its Ramstein
Air Base in Germany, to wage its controversial
 drone warfare in Africa, Yemen, and Pakistan.

“The entire drone war of the US military wouldn't
 be possible without Germany," Brandon Bryant,
 who resigned in 2011, told NDR television and
 Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper.

Last year, German media revealed that the US
 uses its military bases in Germany to conduct
 its killings of suspected terrorists in Somalia.

 But Bryant now says that Ramstein Air Base
 in the German state of Rhineland-Palatinate
 is involved in strikes on Pakistan and Yemen.

During his five years of service, Bryant flew
 over 1,000 operations in Pakistan and Yemen.

 He said his unit was responsible for 1,262
 targeted killings. Although Bryant was sat
 at a control pad in New Mexico – far away
from the actual drones – there is mounting
 evidence that the base in Germany plays
 a key role.

Data from the remote controlled drones
 is transmitted via satellite to Germany.

It is then sent back to the US via fiber optic
 cables. Live pictures are then analyzed and
 classified by teams of US intelligence officers
 in Germany, suggesting that Ramstein truly
 is the nerve centre behind the operations.

Bryant said that Ramstein was always
 “the first port of call” during any strike.

Polls show that the majority of Germans
 have consistently disapproved of drone
 strikes, saying they are secretive, do not
 follow any legal process, and can prove
 ineffective as "wrong targets" are often

Aware of these concerns, the US – which has
 a permanent military presence in Germany
 guaranteed by post-WWII agreements – denies
 that its German base, which houses over 600
 personnel, is directly involved in the strikes.

"The US government has confirmed that such
armed and remote aircrafts are not flown or
 controlled from US bases in Germany," a US
government spokesperson, Steffen Seibert,
 told reporters as recently as Friday.

In total, up to 900 people may have been killed
 in Yemen since strikes began in 2002. Over
3,700 people have died in Pakistan since 2004.

 The figures are collated on the basis of reports
 by The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, an
 independent online news source, as the CIA
or Pentagon do not reveal any official figures.

Foreign policy spokesperson for the Greens
 party, Omid Nouripour, urges Angela Merkel’s
 government to take action:

 "It is shameful that the German government
 simply closes its eyes to violations of
 international law on German territory,"
Nouripour tells DPA news agency.

While the new revelations may further strain
 relationships between Washington and Berlin
 (already tense after Edward Snowden's leaks)
  they are not likely to lead to specific measures
 from Germany.

Berlin cannot freely inspect – much less close
 down – US bases, without pulling out of key
military cooperation agreements.


Over 1,500 Palestinian children killed by
 Israeli forces since 2000 – PA minister

Over 1,500 Palestinian children have died at the
 hands of Israeli forces since 2000, the Palestinian
 Authority's minister of social affairs, Kamal Sharafi,
 said on Palestinian Children's Day, yesterday.

Another 6,000 have been injured and over 10,000
 arrested, Palestinian news agency Ma’an quoted
 Sharafi as saying. Two hundred children are still
 in detention in Israeli prisons.

"Protecting and supporting children should be a
 national responsibility," Sharafi said, urging the
 Palestinian Authority to approve a law for the
 protection of minors.

The international community has criticized Israel
 for the mistreatment of Palestinian minors.

 In March 2013, a United Nations Children Fund
 (UNICEF) report stated that Palestinian children
 detained by the Israeli military in the West Bank
 are “systematically” ill-treated.

Each year, some 700 Palestinian children
aged 12 to 17 – mainly boys – are arrested,
interrogated, and detained by Israel's army,
police, and security agents, UNICEF said
 in the 22-page document.

According to the report, the ill-treatment often
begins at the point of arrest, when children are
 woken by heavily-armed soldiers and forcibly
brought to an interrogation center “tied and
 blindfolded, sleep-deprived and in a state of
 extreme fear.”

In June 2013, the UN Committee on the Rights
 of the Child (CRC) issued a report stating that
 thousands of Palestinian children are being
systematically injured, tortured, and used as
 human shields by Israel.

During the 10-year period examined by UN human
 rights experts, up to 7,000 children aged 9 to 17
 were arrested, interrogated and kept captive,
 CRC said in the report.



A Pakistani fleet of warships has docked at
 the southern Iranian port city of Bandar Abbas
 to hold a joint naval drill with Iran in the strategic
 Strait of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf, a senior
 Iranian commander says.

The flotilla arrived in Bandar Abbas on Saturday
 where it will stay for four days, says the Iranian
 Navy's second-in-command for operations,
 Rear-Admiral Shahram Irani.

“The most important plan of the Pakistani fleet
during its stay in Bandar Abbas is to stage joint
 maneuvers with select units of the Iranian Navy
 on April 8th, which will be held in the eastern
waters of the Strait of Hormuz,” he adds.

He says that the Pakistani fleet is conveying
a message of peace and friendship and will
help boost military cooperation between
Tehran and Islamabad.

The commander notes that the fleet involves
 a missile-launcher warship, a logistic warship
 and an advanced submarine.

Iranian and Pakistani naval authorities will
 hold official meetings during the Pakistani
fleet’s stay, says the commander.



Tens of thousands of Bahraini protesters have
staged an anti-regime demonstration ahead of
 the start of the Formula One Grand Prix.

On Friday, around 200,000 men and women
 marched along 3.5 kilometers (2 miles) on
 a highway west of the capital, Manama.

The demonstration was organized by al-Wefaq
 National Islamic Society, the country’s main
 opposition party.

The protesters, who were carrying national flags
 and posters, chanted pro-democracy slogans
 and called for the release of prisoners jailed
during the regime's crackdown on protests.

"The people demand democracy and reject
tyranny," a poster read in Arabic and English.

Anti-regime protesters have held similar rallies
 every year, since 2011. They call now on the
 Formula One governing body, FIA, to stop the
 race over the ongoing crackdown by the Al
Khalifa regime, against peaceful protests.

Rights activists also say that the Formula One
 event is being used as a political tool to make
 the world believe that the situation in Bahrain
is normal.

Since the invasion of Bahrain by Saudi and
United Arab Emirates troops on March 14th,
2011,  they have assisted Bahraini Royals
 in their crackdown on peaceful protesters.

According to local sources, scores of people
 have been killed, and hundreds arrested.

Physicians for Human Rights says doctors
 and nurses have been detained, tortured, or
"disappeared" because they have "evidence
 of atrocities committed by the authorities,
security forces, and riot police", in their
 crack-down on protesters.


Russian security detains Ukrainian citizens
on suspicion of preparing subversive acts

Russian secret services have detained 25 citizens
 of Ukraine on suspicion of preparing subversive
acts on Russian territory, Moscow-based NTV
 channel says.

“According to the information from the secret
 services, the terrorist acts were due to take
 place from March 14th through to March 16th
 in the Rostov, Volgograd, Tver, Oryol, and
 Belgorod regions, as well as the constituent
 republic of Kalmykia and Tatarstan,” the
 report says.

“A total of 25 persons, including 3 Right
Sector activists were detained,” NTV says.
“They admitted they had been receiving
instructions from Ukraine’s Security Service.”

Their tasks included gathering data on
any redeployments of army vehicles in
the parts of Russia bordering Ukraine
and establishing contacts with radical
organizations in Russia, the report says.

“An inquiry into the detainees is underway
 and preliminary investigations have begun,”
 NTV says.

“The so-called Ukrainian leadership is making
 direct threats of what they call a ‘guerilla war’
 on the territory of Russia and a question arises
 in this connection of whether or not we’re
 ready for this,” Russian official, Ovsiyenko,
 said recently, after another foreigner was
caught with weapons in Moscow.

“A man who had arrived from Ukraine with a
 huge arsenal of munitions and explosives -
 quite possibly, for translating those threats
 into life - was detained in the Moscow region
several days ago,” he says. “All the details
 of the situation are being clarified now, as a
 criminal case against him has been instituted.”

Crimes related to extremist activities grew almost
 20% in the Central Federal District last year. “Given
 the current developments in Ukraine, this situation
 is causing a really big concern,” Ovsiyenko says.



Israel's regime approves the implementation
 of an archeology project in Eastern Jerusalem,
in a new move that may end the "peace talks"
 with the Palestinian Authority.

The Israeli Interior Ministry announces the
decision on Friday to push ahead with plans
 to build a visitor centre in the neighborhood
 of Silwan, outside the Old City walls.

Residents of the area and the Palestinians
 have already objected to the project.

The ministry, however, defends the decision,
 saying the complex "will show important
 archaeological discoveries to the public."

Palestinians say it is mainly to strengthen
 the Zionist regime’s presence there, and is
a part of Israel's attempts to end Eastern
 Jerusalem's Islamic and Palestinian identity.

Last month, Palestinian media reported that
 several ancient archeological sites have been
 damaged, as a result of Israel’s controversial
 excavations in Silwan.

The Palestinian al-Aqsa Foundation says
 the excavations are part of an Israeli plan
 to build a seven-story building which will
 serve as a Zionist cultural centre.

The go-ahead for the controversial project
comes just after the Palestinian Authority
 said during the US-brokered negotiations
with Tel Aviv, that it will never recognize
Israel as a "Jewish state."

The Palestinians insist that no peace deal
 will be achieved without an independent
 Palestinian state with Eastern al-Quds as
 its capital.

There are reports of clashes today, between
Palestinians and Israeli troops near prisons,
as the latest batch of prisoners freed under
the talks fails to run smoothly.

Israel’s chief negotiator Tzipi Livni says that,
after the talks reached an "impasse", Israel
will not go ahead with the promised release
 of 26 Palestinian inmates, AFP reports today.


Russia expects NATO to respect
bilateral agreements — Lavrov

Russia expects explanations from NATO for its
 decision to deploy additional troops in E. European
 states, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says

“Russia-NATO relations are based on certain rules,
 particularly the Rome Declaration, under which no
 country has the right to deploy additional troops in
 East European states,” Lavrov says after talks with
 his Kazakhstan counterpart Yerlan Idrisov Thursday.

Russia and Kazakhstan both express hope that
 unbiased work by the Organization for Security
 and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) mission in
Ukraine, will help overcome the political crisis.

“Russia and Kazakhstan have common approaches
 towards the situation in Ukraine," Lavrov says.

"We have agreed on the importance of stopping
 extremism, normalizing the situation and carrying
 out a constitutional reform."



NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen
announces the suspension of all military or civilian
 cooperation with Moscow after its "annexation" of
 Crimea from Ukraine.

 Rasmussen earlier accused Russia of violating
 Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty.
Meanwhile, NATO's Supreme Allied Commander
 for Europe, US Air Force General Philip Breedlove
 says NATO is working on a package of proposals
 to reinforce European allies by air, land and sea.

Russian generals and government ministers
have reacted with disbelief, if not amusement,
as the US seems to be leading Europe's people
 by the nose, using a hyped up Russian threat.

Finian Cunningham writes in Press Tv:
“The US is prepared to plunge Europe into a war
 with Russia in order for Washington to preserve
 its hegemony over the transatlantic axis.”

He says a war would be aimed at preventing
 Russia and Europe from developing closer
 trade and political ties, and preserving the
 US dollar as the world's reserve currency.

“Washington does not want to see European
 and Russian economies integrating on the
vital issue of trade in oil and gas --- the
foundation for economic and social
 development,” the commentator states.

He says that the enormous oil and gas volumes
 supplied by Moscow have led to the substantial
 alignment of European and Russian economies
over the past two decades.

The value of European-Russian bilateral trade
is over one trillion dollars annually - ten times
more than that of the trade between the US
and Russia, he explains.

“This trend was always seen as a strategic danger
 by Washington. It can be argued that the Cold War
 from 1945 to 1990 was deliberately instigated by
 the US, as a bulwark to counter the naturally
inclined trade integration between Europe and
 Russia, owing to the latter's prodigious energy
 reserves and its continental proximity,” he says.

He says the strategic danger is twofold for the US.
 Close ties between Russia and Europe will leave
 no reason for America's military role in NATO
 shrinking US political influence in Europe, and:

“The second is that the European-Russian energy
 trade undermines the role of the American dollar
 as the world's reserve currency.

Exchanges in such a key world market will
inevitably move to the use of the Euro/Ruble,
which would spell the end of global American
 financial hegemony, and with that, the end of
 the monstrously indebted US economy.”

He emphasizes that the US has played the key
 role in creating the recent crisis in Ukraine...
 “which has seen the rise of an unelected fascist
 junta in Kiev, posing a serious threat to Russia.”

“The reality is that Washington has done everything
 to escalate this conflict, in particular between
 Russia and Europe, for its own selfish strategic
 interests. That includes, if deemed necessary by
 the pyromaniacs in Washington, the ignition of
all-out war in Europe.”



A political analyst says the Director General
 of the International Atomic Energy Agency
 (IAEA) Yukiya Amano’s “praise” for Israel,
 undermines the “legitimacy and credibility”
 of the UN nuclear agency.

Meeting with Israeli President Shimon Peres
 this week, the IAEA chief turned a blind eye to
 international concerns about Tel Aviv’s nuclear
 arsenal, saying that Israel is a “valued partner”
for the agency.

During the meeting, held at the headquarters
 of the UN nuclear agency in Vienna, Amano
 did not say anything about Israel’s illegal
nuclear arsenal and activities.

Speaking to Press TV in an interview, Kaveh
 Afrasiabi, a political analyst, says he strongly
believes “this is double standards running
 amok, because the praise that Mr. Amano
had for Israel, is totally uncalled for.”

He says Israel has so far defied a resolution
 overwhelmingly approved by the UN General
 Assembly in December 2012 calling on Tel
Aviv to open up to IAEA inspections.

Mr Afrasiabi says “one is at a loss for words
 to describe and indeed find out” the reasons
 why Amano failed to press Israel to abide by
the UN and international community’s will,
when it is a clandestine nuclear weapons
holding state.

The commentator adds that the IAEA chief
 already has a credibility problem, as recent
WikiLeaks revelations show that “he is
 overly pro-American and pro-Western.”

He repeats that Amano must pressure Israel
 to open up to IAEA inspections, if he is to
perform his duty even-handedly.

Israel is believed to be the only possessor of
nuclear arms in the Middle East, reportedly

 maintaining 200 to 400 atomic warheads.

The Israeli regime has never allowed any
 inspection of its nuclear facilities, and
 continues to defy UN and world calls to
join the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty

Mr Amano also called for a nuclear free
Middle East and one is tempted to ask:

How does he expect to
achieve that, then?


Free-fall: IMF to accelerate
 Ukraine’s economic collapse?
Patrick Young, expert in world financial markets,
asks now: "Will Maidan optimism be extinguished
 as the citizens of Ukraine realize their economic
plight means considerable imminent hardship?

He says Ukraine is bankrupt and about to discover
 that Western politicians who promised prosperity
 have been encouraging the IMF to deliver a
 leveraged poisoned chalice.

With Crimea returned to Russia, the IMF, he says,
is offering what elected governments have been
refusing since 2010.

The bailout, Young explains, fell primarily
 to the IMF, as the EU - unable to support
 its failing currency zone - couldn’t afford
 a bailout.

The EU remains an empire, Patrick Young says,
with multiple competing Presidential Emperors,
 but no clothes for any of them.
Ukraine, he says, has been economically
 abandoned to IMF austerity before it even
 has a new president.

Kiev is poised to become the Athens
 of Central Europe, he says - but not
for architectural or cultural reasons.

Yanukovich pivoted away from the EU pact
for three reasons: eliminating gas subsidies;
widespread government cutbacks including
 civil service payrolls; and pensions halved.

Economists predict the 2013 recession will
 involve a 5-20% GDP loss - a catastrophic
 depression akin to Greece.

Nobody knows how much Ukraine may
 need to survive – a $50 billion package?

The Western embrace, he says, is about
 to turn very chilly for Ukraine’s citizens.
Extreme nationalists are already
 voicing dissent.

One pivotal point Patrick Young makes:
 if the IMF lends to Ukraine, that affirms
 Crimea’s status: the IMF says it cannot
 lend money to a state illegally partitioned.

 The West has blinked on its ‘invasion’
rhetoric, Young says.



A new organization has been founded in Yemen,
 seeking to end to the deadly US drone program
 there, Press TV reports.

The report says the National Organization
 for Drone Victims has been established by
 families of drone victims and rights activists.

They have formed the organization which they
 say seeks to criminalize the use of US drone
 strikes in Yemen and to prosecute any official
 who supports such a policy.

They say any government official supporting
US drones should be tried in a criminal court.

“Today, we launch the start of this new organization
 which will be the starting point for us to get justice
 and to take legal measures on a national and
 international scale against anyone who is aiding
 these crimes,” Mohammad Ali al-qwali, a Yemeni
 anti-drone activist, says.

According to the organization, 13 US drone
 operations were conducted last month in
 the country, killing over 20 Yemenis.

Earlier this week, a US assassination drone
 targeted a vehicle in the southern Yemeni
province of Abyan, killing an unknown
 number of people there.

The US administration is under heavy criticism
 for launching drone raids in Yemen and several
 other Muslim countries. The airstrikes were
 initiated under former US president, George W.
 Bush, and have been stepped up under the
 present President, Barack Obama.

Washington claims that the unmanned US
 aircraft attacks target al-Qaeda militants,
 but local sources say civilians have been
 the main victims of the non-UN-sanctioned

On December 15, 2013, the Yemeni parliament
 strongly condemned the US drone strikes inside
 the country. The legislature also passed a law
 banning the drone attacks.

Last October, Human Rights Watch said US
 killer drone strikes in Yemen have led to the
 deaths of many civilians over the past years
 in a blatant violation of international law.



As John Kerry promises Lavrov that the
US is committed to diplomatic means,
(to resolve the potentially explosive
Ukraine impasse), the puppets who
now control Kiev, vote for NATO
"exercises" on Ukraine's territory.

Ukraine MPs vote to host NATO exercises

What is left of Ukraine’s parliament today,
has unanimously approved a series of joint
military exercises with NATO in Ukraine.

 “This is a good opportunity to develop our
armed forces,” AFP quotes acting Defense
Minister Mikhail Koval as saying at the
Verkhovna Rada session, ahead of a
235-0 vote on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, NATO foreign ministers are gathered
 in Brussels, to "discuss the situation in Ukraine".



A classified report by the US Senate, shows that
 the CIA, for years, has misled both government
 and people, over its brutal interrogation program.

According to the report, the CIA has concealed
 details about the severity of its interrogation
 methods, overstated the significance of plots
and prisoners, and taken credit for vital pieces
 of intelligence that detainees possessed that,
 in fact, they had surrendered before they were
 forced to endure such harsh techniques.

The 6,300-page report, revealed by The Washington
 Post, was built on detailed chronologies of several
 CIA detainees, and it documents a pattern of
 uncorroborated claims, as agency officials sought
 permission to utilize and later tried to defend, harsh
 methods that yielded little or no intelligence.

In June 2013, the CIA issued a lengthy classified
 rebuttal to the Senate report, asserting that its
 program was effective and provided significant
 counterterrorism information.

“The CIA described [its program] repeatedly, both
 to the Department of Justice and eventually to
 Congress as getting unique, otherwise unobtainable
 intelligence that helped disrupt terrorist plots and
 save thousands of lives,” says a US official briefed
 on the report.

“Was that actually true? The answer is no,” he says.

The damning disclosures also include the abuses
 used within secret jails, where terror suspects
were kept as prisoners.

CIA spokesperson Dean Boyd says the agency
 will review declassification submissions

"We've not been provided with a final copy of the
 [report], and until we're given the opportunity to
 review it, we are unable to comment on details
 it may contain," he adds.

The report has caused a deep split between
 intelligence agencies and the Senate panel
tasked with conducting an oversight of
spying activities.



The Israeli regime has ordered the seizure of
300,000 square meters of Palestinian land in
 the city of Nablus, north of the occupied West
 Bank, for its illegal settlements.

"Military orders have been issued to confiscate
 300 dunums of land in Jaloud village to establish
 an educational compound, a cemetery and
 farmland," says Ghassan Daghlas, the
Palestinian official in charge of monitoring
illegal settlers' activities in the area.

Dunum, a unit of land measurement, roughly
 equals 1,000 square meters in Palestine.

Daghlas adds that Palestinian land in Jaloud
 and the surrounding villages has long been
 subject to confiscation by Israeli officials.

On March 28th, the UN Human Rights Council
 (UNHRC) condemned the Israeli regime for its
 continued settlement building activities and
 the violation of Palestinians’ rights.

The UN's top human rights body censured the
 Israeli demolition of Palestinian houses and
 their expulsions and called on Tel Aviv to
 immediately stop all settlement activities.

The presence and continued expansion of
Israeli settlements in occupied Palestine is
 a major obstacle to establishing peace in
 the Middle East.

More than half a million Israelis live in over
 120 illegal settlements built since Israel’s
 occupation of the Palestinian territories of
 the West Bank and East al-Quds in 1967.

The UN and most countries regard the
 Israeli settlements as illegal because
 the territories were captured by Israel
 in a war in 1967 and are hence subject
 to the Geneva Conventions, which deny
 construction on occupied lands.


It was Cesar Chavez Day, yesterday, honoring a
man who
loved and cared for all migrant workers...

Mexico’s National Migration Institute says about
 370 child migrants have been found abandoned
by traffickers crossing the country into the US...
 in just one week.

The children - one as young as 9 - were rescued
across 14 states in Mexico between March 17th
and 24th, the institute says in a statement.

Mexico authorities say 163 of the children under
18-years-old, were found travelling alone.

Most of the children showed signs of extreme
 fatigue, dehydration and foot injuries, along
 with disorientation at being abandoned at
 unknown, often dangerous, locations, the
 institute says.

They often face the threat of accidents, robbery,
 rape or being forcibly recruited by criminal gangs.

Traffickers are paid between USD 3,000 and USD
 5,000 to take the children, most of them hailing
 from Central America, to the US, via Mexico.

In February, Mexican President Enrique Nieto
 said he had discussed the issue of Mexican
 immigrants with US President Barack Obama.

Washington is causing a humanitarian crisis
with its anti-immigrant policies, the Mexican
president said.

Over 47,000 migrants have died while traveling
 through Mexico in the past six years, with an
 estimated 8,800 unidentified bodies, states a
 report published by the Mexican newspaper
 La Jornada, late last year.

Mexicans make up 52% of all undocumented
 immigrants in the US, says the Pew Hispanic
 Center, a nonpartisan research organization
 that seeks to improve understanding of the
 US Hispanic population.


Russia and China both say:
 excessive military activities in
 Northeast Asia are unacceptable.

“We are concerned about the continuing escalation
 of tensions on the Korean Peninsula, which resulted
 in the exchange of artillery fire between the DPRK
 (North Korea) and the Republic of Korea (South
 Korea) in the area of the so-called Northern Limit
 Line in the Yellow Sea,” Russia's Foreign Affairs
ministry says today.

“One cannot but see that periodic deterioration
 of the situation in the region coincides in time
 with the annual large-scale military exercises
 of the United States and the Republic of Korea,”
 the ministry says.

 “We have repeatedly noted the inadmissibility of
 excessive military activities in Northeast Asia,
 especially such provocative elements as bombing
 practices with the use of strategic bombers and
 landing operations to seize certain ‘administrative
 centres’ of foreign states,” the ministry says.


Rally in Kharkov demands autonomy
for 8 Ukrainian southeastern regions

Marchers handed over a petition Sunday
to Russia's consulate, asking for Russia's
 help in ensuring a fair referendum on the
 federalization of Ukraine and autonomous
 status for its southeastern regions.

 The column of marchers then went to the
 Polish consulate to demand that the West
 stop interfering in Ukraine’s domestic affairs.

“We're all descendants of the Donetsk-Krivoi
 Rog and Odessa republics. We have always
 been the real basis of our country,” said an
 appeal read out by Yuri Apukhtin, a leader
of the Kharkov Civic Forum.

“We call on the forces of Ukraine’s southeastern
 regions to unite, to set up a coordination council
 and form a united front against putschists in Kiev.
We see our place in this country as an historically
 formed southeastern autonomy.”

Apukhtin says an agreement on joint actions
 has been reached with the leaders of similar
 rallies in Donetsk and Lugansk.

Participants in the rally also urged the release
from home arrest, of activist
Ignat Kromskoi,
  for “organizing mass
disorder”, as he took
part in moves to
expel radicals from the
Kharkov region
administration building
in early March.


Palestinians Mark Land Day

Palestinians marked the 37th anniversary of
Land Day
yesterday as they demonstrated
across the occupied territories.

Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza held
mass rallies, facing down Israeli occupation
troops' aggressions against them.

In the Gaza Strip, people joined a rally in the
northern town of Beit Lahiya, and at Khan
 Younis in the south, fresh olive trees were
planted in

Islamic Jihad's commander asserted that the
 Palestinian resistance is the only way to regain
 national rights "that will never be abandoned."



The population of Southeastern Ukraine expressing
 their discontent with the current government in Kiev
 are facing increasingly violent intimidation.

A recent anti-Maidan motor rally in Zaporozhye
 was attacked by ‘self-defense’ nationalist thugs.

Fighters from the local Maidan self-defense
 nationalist squad, blocked and attacked a
column of cars bearing Russian, regional
and Ukrainian flags that was heading from
 a neighboring town of Melitopol to join an
anti-government rally in Zaporozhye.

The anti-Maidan activists met to rally for
Ukraine joining the Customs Union and
to protect the Russian language in the
 region, an activist from Melitopol,
Ekaterina Umonets, told RT.

 To support their cause, some 15 cars and 2
 mini-buses left Meritopol to join the protest
 movement in Zaporozhye, a city of over
750,000 people.

“As the motor rally was about to enter Zaporozhye,
 it was clear, that an ambush was being organized
 by the Maidan criminals,” eyewitness Artyom
 Tymchenko told RT.

Once the motorists reached the bus and railway
 station, ultra-right forces attacked the cars to
block their movement.

“Near the railway station the column was stopped
 by the Maidan bandits, who started beating people,
 taking their property, and smashing their cars,”
 Tymchenko says.

Maidan self-defense forces justified their actions
 by saying that they “suspected” the presence of
 weapons in the cars, and thus reacted to the “pro-
Russian separatists and provocateurs,” the local
 media reported.

 The local authorities, however, did not report
 any weapons in possession of the activists.

Motorists, with many women and elderly people
 among them, say they suffered “a sudden attack
by members of Right Sector.” But police provided
 little or no help, as the attackers continued to
 intimidate the activists.

“The police, who are supposed to sort out the
 situation, aren't going about their job with any
 enthusiasm and, although the attackers didn't
hide their faces, no-one's been arrested so far.
"Which simply leads to the conclusion that they
acted under the protection of the criminals
 currently in power.”

Anti-Maidan protests in Zaporozhye are being
held under the slogan "Our Town"  and led by
 Vladimir Balagura. After the attack on the car
 convoy, "Our Town" ran a fundraiser, to repair
 the damaged vehicles.

Representatives from "Our Town" movement
 appeal to the leaders of the Right sector and
 local Maidan self-defense squads to disarm
their men...

“It is very scary to witness people running at you
 with weapons, shovels, and batons, with chains,
and metal rods,” an Our Town representative said
 after meeting the local governor Valery Baranov,
as she urged the authorities to “get rid of these
 men from our streets and disarm them.”

In another worrying incident this week, a group
 of Ukrainian vigilantes have been hunting out
 people they accuse of being "pro-Russian
 thugs" in Dnepropetrovsk in eastern Ukraine.

Meanwhile Right Sector, the most prominent
 nationalist movement in Ukraine, has become
 a political party, with the leader Dmitry Yarosh,
who is wanted on terrorist charges in Russia,
 running as presidential candidate in Ukraine's
 elections on May 25th.

The Right Sector's manifesto, announced in early
 January, says that “all those who at this point try
 to tame the revolutionary energy of the masses,
 should be proclaimed traitors and punished in the
 most severe way,” GlobalSecurity.org quotes.


US war plan for Europe and Russia
By Finian Cunningham

The US is prepared to plunge Europe into a war
with Russia in order for Washington to preserve
 its hegemony over the transatlantic axis.

The key issues, are the prevention of Russia and
 Europe developing closer trade and political ties -
primarily through a vast trade in energy fuels - and
the dollar's survival as the world reserve currency.

So vital are these two issues for continued US
hegemony, that the US is prepared to sacrifice
 millions of lives in a war between Russia and
 its so-called transatlantic European "ally".

This shocking revelation comes from
 a former European NATO commander...

You can read the full article here,
which pinpoints the UK's role:



Putin invites Obama to consider
international action to stabilize Ukraine

In a 'phone conversation with his US counterpart
 Barack Obama, Russian President Vladimir Putin
 drew attention to the escalating violent acts by
 extremists in Ukraine, who are committing acts
 of intimidation against civilians, authorities and
 law enforcers in different parts of Ukraine and
 in Kiev, and do so with impunity, the Kremlin’s
 press-service says.

As a result, the Russian leader suggested
 considering likely steps by the international
 community, to help stabilize the situation.

 It's agreed that Russian and US foreign
 ministers will discuss the specifics of
such joint work in the near future.



“I'll make up a cause of war by ordering a missile
 attack on Turkey.” This leaked conversation is
 damaging the highest echelons of the Turkish
 government, as it reveals their plan to cause a
a major provocation in Syria, and it is why they
are struggling to box in Turkey's social media.

The leaked audiotapes reveal Turkey’s
 highest ministers planning to stage anti-
Assad military interventions in Syria and
led to YouTube being "shut" internally.

 Accusations of treachery and betrayal
 of Turkey's political interests are rife –
 “a declaration of war,” is how Turkey's
 Foreign Minister, A. Davutoglu, puts it.

Intelligence chief, Hakan Fidan, is heard
suggesting seizing the chance to secure
 Turkish intervention in the Syrian conflict -
a war that's killed 140,000 people - so far.

 In the conversation, Davutoglu is heard saying
 that PM Erdogan sees any attack on Syria as an
"opportunity" to build Turkey's troop presence on
 Syrian land, where it has supported rebel groups.



The Russian Federal Security Service says that
 western countries seek to destabilize the internal
 situation within Russia itself, after the events in
 Crimea, and calls for urgent measures to ensure
 the security of Russian nationals, including those
 living in the newly-formed Crimean Federal District.

“The number of external threats to the state
 has increased. The legal desire of the people
 of Crimea and eastern Ukraine to be joined
with Russia, is driving the US and its allies
 into hysteria. They are trying to destabilize
 the socio-political and economic situation in
 Russia,” FSB Deputy Director A. Malyovanyi
 says at a ceremony on Friday when President
 Putin met senior officers receiving promotion.

“Under these circumstances we are drawing up
 and implementing offensive counter-intelligence
 and intelligence measures, aimed at thwarting
 such aspirations,” Malyovanyi went on to say,
 pledging to protect all Russian nationals from
 radicals and extremists penetrating Russia,
 including within the Crimean Federal District.

He said that this year the Russian Federal
 Security Service has prevented 14 terror-
linked crimes and liquidated 76 terrorists
 and their leaders, who took up violence
in the North Caucasus.  235 militants and
 their accomplices are now being detained.

“The Russian Federal Security Service
 continues fighting underground terrorist
 groups in North Caucasus with the aim
 of normalizing the situation.

 "We are doing everything possible to ensure
the effective functioning of state power and
 the region’s economic development, as well
 as the constitutional rights of its citizens.

"We are going to fulfill these tasks,” the FSB
 deputy director said.


Ukraine's elected President, V. Yanukovych,
 calls for a referendum in every Ukraine region.

Yanukovych makes his appeal in a statement
 sent to media outlets on Friday.

"As president, who is with you in thought and soul,
 I ask every single sensible citizen of Ukraine not
 to let yourselves be used by the imposters!

 "Demand a referendum on determining the status of
 every region in Ukraine," he says in the statement.

“Only a referendum on the whole of Ukraine in
every region can stabilize the political situation,
and preserve its independence and unity.”

Residents in southern and eastern Ukraine are
  calling for the federalization of Ukraine & more
  autonomy for different regions, after Ukraine’s
 Autonomous Republic of Crimea voted to be a
part of Russia in their referendum this month.

Thousands attended rallies in at least 2 major
 eastern Ukrainian cities on March 22, calling
 for a referendum like Crimea's, to secede
from the former Soviet state and join Russia.

Protesters in Kharkiv in the north-east
also demanded a vote on their fate,
 chanting "Referendum" and "Russia".

They were also there to respect those
killed in clashes between far-right and
pro-Russian protesters, on March 15th.

In Donetsk, people came out to show
their support for Russia, demanding
 that the Donetsk governor resign, as
he was appointed by what they called
Kiev's illegitimate pro-Western leaders.

The pro-Russian demonstrators also urged
the authorities to immediately release their
 leader, Pavel Gubarev, who is being held by
Ukrainian security forces.

Ukraine has been gripped by a political crisis
since November 2013, after Victor Yanukovych
 refused to sign an Association Agreement with
 the European Union, in favor of one with Russia.




The UN Human Rights Committee, chaired by the
 UK law professor Sir Nigel Rodley, is composed of
 18 independent experts from different countries.

Their report says that the US has failed on a
 series of human rights issues, including: lack
of transparency in its electronic surveillance
 programs, torture, targeted drone killings,
secret detentions, and the closure of the
 Guantanamo Bay prison.


President Obama's administration is the
least transparent in US history, despite
his election rhetoric.

('Though some experts argue that
they can see right through him.)

Associated Press reports  “More often
than ever, the administration censored
government files or outright denied
access to them last year under the US
Freedom of Information Act [FOIA].”

 The AP report continues, “The government’s
efforts to be more open about its activities
last year, were their worst since President
Barack Obama took office.”


The United States is the only country in
the world that sentences juveniles -- under
18 year olds -- to life in prison without parole.

 The American Civil Liberties Union and
Columbia Law School's Human Rights
Institute argued at the Inter-American
Commission on Human Rights Tuesday,
that kids convicted of serious crimes
don't deserve such severe sentences.

"You need to have sentences that are intended
to rehabilitate a child," Deborah LaBelle, an
attorney with ACLU, tells The Huffington Post.

"You need to incarcerate them for the least
amount of time to achieve that goal."



The UK's secret service has threatened to
 shut down the Guardian daily, for covering
 reports about the revelations of whistle-
blower Edward Snowden.

His revelations uncovered the UK's true
 relationship to the US, and GCHQ's role.
Paul Johnson, Guardian deputy editor, says
 that the daily was threatened for printing
Snowden’s disclosures of mass espionage.

“We were threatened that we'd be closed
down.  We were accused of endangering
national security and people’s lives. It left
us in a very difficult position,” he says.

Johnson also says that he has been
 informed (by a senior civil servant)
 that “the prime minister, the deputy
prime minister, the foreign secretary,
the home secretary and the attorney
 general, have got a problem with you.”


    Cuba Rejects Western Interference in Ukraine 
Cuba condemns the intervention of the US and
 NATO in Ukrainian internal affaire, describing
it as a threat to world peace and security.

Cuba's permanent representative at the UN,
 Rodolfo Reyes, also condemns the instruments
 of western policy: the way a change of regime
was achieved and Nato's support for a military
 doctrine ever more offensive, which includes
 the extension of NATO to Russia's borders.

This last stage is to be seen in the present
Ukrainian crisis, where last month radical
groups supported by the US and the EU,
led to the overthrow of President elect,
Victor Yanukovich, and the appointment
of a pro-western government, he states.

During a meeting of the General Assembly to
discuss the UN's approach to the situation in
Ukraine, Reyes recalled recent statements
 made by Cuban president Raul Castro and
 Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez, on the
 peril of such interference for world peace.

The plenary session of the 193 UN member nations
 analyzed in particular, a resolution presented by the
 new Kiev authorities, which rejected the results of
the March 16th referendum that approved the full
integration of the Crimean peninsula into Russia.

The non mandatory document was adopted by
100 in favour, 11 against, and 58 abstentions.

Armenia, Belarus, Bolivia, Cuba, Nicaragua,
the Democratic and Popular Republic of
 Korea, Russia, Syria, Sudan, Venezuela
 and Zimbabwe, voted against.

 The US and most European states said yes.

 In Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean, Asia
 and Oceania, the positions varied, including
 many who abstained in the vote.

Some backed the resolution, while expressing
concerns about the new power in Ukraine being
assumed by a government which came to power
through violence, and by rupturing Ukraine's
constitution and democracy.

For Russia, it was precisely this illegitimacy of the
 authorities imposed after a coup detat, that stood
 out among the many causes that led the people of
Crimea, of Russian majority, to opt overwhelmingly
for their re-incorporation into Russia, of which they
were part for centuries, until 1954.


Ukrainian nationalists threaten to
 storm parliament after leader killed

2,000 nationalists from the Right Sector
 encircled Ukraine's parliament in Kiev,
threatening to storm it, on Thursday.

 They demanded the interior minister's
 resignation, after a leader, Muzychko,
 was killed in a police operation.

Up to 2,000 members of Right Sector, which
  was recently revamped into a political party,
 flooded the square in front of the Verkhovna
 Rada, on Thursday night.

 The radicals, who brought tires to burn,
 banged on the Parliament’s doors, and
smashed the glass parts in them.

Wearing masks and brandishing bats,
 they shouted "Avakov, get out!"

Parliament was empty except for guards,
some administrative staff and reporters.

 All the MPs had earlier left the building
 through an underground tunnel, RIA
 Novosti reports.

The protesters threatened to break into
 parliament if their demands weren't met,
 journalists reported from the scene.

 The Rada’s security personnel concentrated
 in front of the entrance to the building, and
 prepared water cannons, urging journalists
 inside not to approach windows looking
 on to Constitution Square.

Several hours later activists announced the
rally was over "for tonight" and that they had
decided not to storm the building yet, but to
reconvene Friday morning.

Today, Verkhovna Rada is holding an
emergency session to discuss Avakov’s
 resignation, a representative of Right
sector told Itar-Tass.

 Right Sector activists were urged to
 gather outside Parliament at 9:00 GMT.

Interior Minister Arsen Avakov is held personally
 responsible by the nationalists for the death of
 Aleksandr Muzychko, also known as Sashko Bilyi,
 one of the Right Sector's leaders. Muzychko was
 declared killed in a police raid against his gang
 in Rovno, western Ukraine, on Tuesday.

After his death, Right Sector leaders threatened
 Avakov with revenge, although they did not say
 exactly what they would do. Dmitry Yarosh
has called for the minister's dismissal.

"We’ll wait for negotiators from Parliament,
- the MPs, but we won’t settle for Avakov’s
 resignation – we want his trial,” radicals
 announced through megaphones.

The radicals also blame the interior minister
 for not making enough effort in investigating
the deaths of protesters during the Maidan
 standoff in January and February.

The leader of the UDAR party and former boxing
 champ, Vitaly Klitschko, went out to negotiate
with Right Sector in front of the Rada yesterday.

Klitschko tried to persuade the radicals to give
 up the idea of storming the parliament building
 as “it will destabilize the current situation in
 Ukraine. The parliament building is empty,
 because the deputies have already left,”
he explained to the group's activists.



The Party of Socialists in the Republic of Moldova
has launched its campaign to support Moldova's
 entry into the Customs Union between Russia,
 Belarus and Kazakhstan.

“We have launched a nationwide signup campaign
 in support of Moldova’s accession to the Customs
 Union and then to the Eurasian Union. At the same
time, we'll be informing people about the benefits
 of this foreign political course for our country,”
leader of the party, MP, and former republican
 Deputy Prime Minister, Igor Dodon, says.

 He notes that recent opinion polls suggest that
 an overwhelming majority of Moldovan citizens
 prefer to join the Customs Union instead of the
 European Union.



The "main aim" now for Ukraine is European Union
 membership, Oleksandr Turchynov, appointed the
Acting President of Ukraine says Wednesday, at the
 21st meeting of the Committee on Parliamentary
 Cooperation between Ukraine and the EU.
“For Ukraine,signing an association agreement
 with the European Union is not the ultimate aim,
 it is the beginning of a new cooperation. We set
 ourselves the aim of full membership in the EU,”
he says and adds that despite the situation with
 Crimea, "european integration continues."



Leaflets calling on President V. Yanukovych
 to return to restore law and order in Ukraine
 have appeared in public places in Odessa.
 Many people found them in their postboxes.

“You are our last hope. Otherwise, we will not
 have a choice other than to defend our lives,
rights, honour and dignity with arms in hands!”
 a leaflet signed by the leadership of Ukraine’s
 National-Liberation Movement says.

Thousands of people marched through Odessa
 on Sunday to protest about the current political
 repression and usurpation of power in Ukraine.

 They chanted slogans urging Yanukovych
 to return and protect Ukrainians from fascists.

Rostislav Barda, the leader of  'Resistance' and
 one of the march’s organizers, told ITAR-TASS
 that Victor Yanukovych, despite the mistakes
 he made, is Ukraine’s legitimate president
 according to the Constitution.

“Therefore, he must return to the country &
 fulfill his duty of protecting his people from
 those who illegally seized power in Ukraine
 and are now launching reprisals against
Ukrainians,” the activist says.


UK MPs urge transparency over UK drone use
UK MPs have called for more transparency from
 the Ministry of Defence (MoD) to win public trust
 over their use of unmanned aerial drones.

Members of the Commons Defence Committee
 urged the MoD yesterday (Tuesday) to provide
 a "detailed public explanation" as called for
by a UN special rapporteur, to shed more light
 on civilian casualties caused by drone attacks.

In their report, MPs said "misunderstandings and
 misinformation" have sparked public frustration
 about drones – or "remotely piloted air systems"
 as the Royal Air Force (RAF) prefers to call them.

The committee urged the MoD to accept the UN
 special rapporteur on human rights and counter-
terrorism, Ben Emmerson QC’s proposal, which
 calls for detailed information to be made public
 about such incidents.

"We recognise that this is not a simple and
 straightforward request, as to do so could
 seriously jeopardise continuing operations,"
 the recommendations suggested.

"Nonetheless, we recommend that, to the
 extent that it is operationally secure to do
 so, following an event which has resulted
 in confirmed civilian casualties, the MoD
 should seek to publish details about the
 incident and any lessons learned from
 the review process," the MPs said.

The committee questioned ministers’ statements
 on the use of drones as "apparently inconsistent"
 and demanded that the MoD clarify whether the
 UK military has been deploying armed drones
 only in Afghanistan, or if it has used them in
 attacks on Pakistan or other states as well.

"If public confidence is to be built around
the use of remotely piloted air systems,
it is important it is clear that UK aircraft
have only been utilised in Afghanistan,
 & always in accordance with UK rules
of engagement," it said.

However, the committee failed to even
mention the casualty figures from UK
 drone strikes in Afghanistan, never
 mind challenge them.

Emmerson QC, in his report to the UN Human
Rights Council earlier this month, urged the
 UK to “declassify and publish the results of
 the investigation into the March 2011 drone
 strike, and of any other report relating to the
 inflicting of civilian casualties through the
 use of remotely piloted aircraft in

According to Emmerson QC’s report, the death
 toll among civilians caused by the UK and US
 assassination drone strikes in Afghanistan,
 Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia continues to rise.

In Afghanistan, the report said, there was a
 threefold increase in drone-related civilian
 deaths between 2012 and 2013.

UK MPs yesterday colluded in slaughter, by
refusing to fully respond to the UN's report.



The Ukrainian parliament has voted to dismiss
the newly-appointed acting Defense Minister,
 Admiral Ihor Tenyukh, after he stated that a
majority of troops in Crimea preferred to join
 the Russia army.

Tenyukh’s resignation failed on a first vote
 as only 197 lawmakers supported it, but a
 new resolution, after discussions, ended
 in a vote to relieve the acting defense
minister from the post.

Parliament appointed Tenyukh as acting
defense minister on February 27th, with
 326 lawmakers voting in favour.

Mikhailo Koval was then voted in to serve as
 acting defense minister by 251 (226 required).


Kiev decides to tame eastern Ukraine by
using foreign mercenaries, Itar-Tass reports.
The coup PM Turchynov, believes that law
 enforcement agencies in eastern regions
 cannot settle the issue of the pro-Russian
 movement themselves, the source says.

Ukraine's  new authorities plan to attract US
 private military company Greystone Limited
to suppress protests by the mostly Russian-
speaking population in the east of Ukraine.

Ukraine's Security Service says mercenaries will be
 engaged in political searches and the protection of
 state security, because of the inability of Ukrainian
 law enforcement agencies to curb the leaders and
 activists of pro-Russian movements independently.

 This initiative was put forward by oligarchs Ihor
 Kolomoyskyi, a co-owner of Ukraine’s PrivatBank,
 and Serhiy Taruta, head of the industrial union of
Donbass, a coal basin in eastern Ukraine, as these
 business tycoons were appointed as governors in
 central Ukraine’s Dnepropetrovsk region and the
eastern Ukraine’s Donetsk region, respectively.

 A source in the Ukrainian Security Service which
 participated in a recent special meeting chaired by
 parliament-appointed interim President Oleksandr
 Turchynov, reported this fact.

“Turchynov believes that law enforcement agencies
 in the eastern regions cannot settle the issue of pro-
Russian movements themselves, so they have now
decided to attract foreign mercenaries,” the security
 official says.
“In debates over the action plan, Kolomoyskyi
 proposed “not to re-invent a bicycle”, because
 there are real people who have a clear idea of
how much and how to pay,” he says.

Greystone security service is registered on the
 Caribbean island of Barbados. The company
 recruits people from different countries through
 its subsidiary 'Satelles Solutions Inc'.

 The company promises its clients it provides the
 “best military from the whole world” to fulfill tasks
 in any part of the world up to large-scale operations.

Private military company Greystone Limited was
 established 47 years ago, and has UK roots, as
 veterans of the SAS registered an organization
 of mercenaries in 1967.

 The company was called WatchGuard International
 and drew attention to itself after its abortive first
 large-scale operation — an attempt on the life of
 Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, in 1971.

Then the organization undertook a second
 "operation" with retired US Navy SEALs, in
Iraq in 2003-2011, when major corporations
 used Greystone services.

 Greystone Limited is now one of the branches
 of a massive mercenary empire in the US which
changes names constantly. It was Blackwater
 until 2009, then Xe Services and then Academi
 and now is "US Training Center".

 Murders, shooting demonstrators, and arms
 smuggling have ensured its ill fame through-
 out events in the Middle East, Asia & Africa.

 Now Ukraine is next in line.

 There is no longer exact information about
 the size of the private military services market.
 It's estimated at a mere $200 billion annually.

 US high-ranking officials have always held
 key posts in this mercenaries' empire...
from the US State Department Bureau of
 Counter-terrorism, to the CIA’s Counter-
terrorism Center & US intelligence services.



Instead of finding common ground with Russia,
the West continues to escalate tensions: using
 inefficient sanctions and rhetoric, and by
 provocatively supporting the illegitimate Kiev
 government, German Left opposition leader,
 Gregor Gysi, says.

Gysi is parliamentary head of the largest lower-
house opposition party in Germany – The Left.

"NATO and the EU did not realize back in 1990,"
he says, "that they should create a new security
organization, with no Warsaw pact and no NATO.
Not without Russia, nor against Russia, but with
 Russia – a common security alliance."

 "And, against promises that were given during
 the time of German reunification, the further
 expansion of NATO towards the east took place
 so that Russia slowly became encircled."

"Then there were missiles stationed in Poland
 and the Czech Republic. The Russian side said
 that it reduced its security, but the Western
 side was not interested in hearing that."

"Then they said those missiles were not targeting
 Russia. That's when the Russian foreign minister
said to his US counterpart: 'If we install rockets
in Mexico, would you trust us if we say it's against
 Colombia or Cuba, and has nothing to do with the
 USA?' Of course they would not believe in that,
 but in spite of all that, it (NATO missiles placed
 near Russia) has happened."

"Then there were other mistakes. I don't want
 to go into too many details. George W. Bush
 has suggested bringing Georgia and Ukraine
 into NATO. Naturally this was a provocation -
 even former US ministers of defense agreed."

"And then it came to the issue of Ukraine, where
 it came to tensions between two sides – Russia
 and the EU – when they said:  ‘Either you enter
into the alliance with us or with the other.’ And
 nobody has realized that Ukraine should have
 been a bridge between the EU and Russia,
 and that is bothering me."

"Now there are talks of sanctions against Russia
 and also against the former Ukrainian president
 and his staff. And I see it as one sided."

"I would go for a diplomatic way to engage Russia
 and propose to them a new relationship with the
 EU and NATO - to find a security concept with
Russia, not against it or without it."

"I think that would have been my vision of a positive
 development that we all urgently need. But as you
 can see, the situation is the other way around."

"There are real fascists in the Ukrainian government.
 They are currently in leading positions. They have
 the vice-prime minister's position, the defense
 ministry, the agriculture ministry and the
environment ministry."

 "Besides that, there is the co-founder of Svoboda
 party, who's not a member of this party right now,
 but he is in charge of the security committee -
 some sort of intelligence service."

"Of course there are democratic forces in the
 government, but fascists never give up the
 power they have got hold of."

"There are terrible quotes, awful quotes from
 them, and I am not alone standing here."

 "There are Social Democrat members, and
 a former EU commissioner who say they
won't speak a word with those people."

"I don't understand how they can sign any
 agreements with them. It's again, another
 provocation - they want to send money over.

"Right now you have to demand a democratic
 election, when you've a democratic government
 --- then you can negotiate with them."

 "I don't understand why agreements have to
happen now? I see it as another step towards
 escalation instead of in the opposite direction."

"And I have to say that the government that is
 installed right now is not a legitimate one. The
 former president was removed from power, but
 not properly voted out, at least not according to
 the constitution."

 "And then when I hear the Crimean referendum
 is illegitimate according the constitution, then I
 ask my government:-  ‘Well, is the constitution
valid or not?’ But I am not getting any answers."



Electricity supply to Crimea has been cut by half
and the region is experiencing rotating blackouts,
after two "accidents" on power lines coming from
Ukraine, Crimea’s energy company says.

Crimean Vice-PM Rustam Temirgaliev says that
 Ukraine's national energy company Ukrenergo
 has cut the electricity supply to Crimea by 50%.

“Ukrenegro reduced the power in its power lines,
 cutting the amount of supplied energy by half,”
 the top official told Kryminfo news agency.

Temirgaliev describes the power shortages
as “blackmail” by Kiev.

 “It can be explained by these people’s
foolishness,” he says. “We don’t have
 any debts. There's no reason for the
 blackout. They are just ‘training.’”

The vice-PM says Crimea is prepared for
any such developments. “We understand
what we signed up for. We will economize
 on consumption, but we won't have any
disaster, crisis or collapse.”

Crimean energy company DTEK Krymenergo
 says in a statement that accidents on two
 power lines connecting the peninsula with
 Ukraine, forced it to put them offline Sunday.

There are a total of three power lines that come
 from Ukraine and all are operated by Ukrenergo.

Russia's PM Medvedev, says a Kerch crossing
will quickly integrate Crimea into the Russian
electricity system.



As the Crimea's 189th military centre
is taken by Russian forces on Sunday
the temporary PM of Ukraine orders
all Ukrainian forces to withdraw.


Half of KAMAZ trucks seized by
 Right Sector militants "lost"

On March 17th, militants of the Right Sector
 took a shipment of lorries that KAMAZ trading
 company prepared for shipping to Kazakhstan.

Twenty-two of the 43 KAMAZ trucks seized by
 Right Sector militants were "lost" in Chernihiv.

The factory tried to ship the lorries to Kazakhstan
but the vehicles were guarded by supporters of
Ukraine's ultra-radical nationalist organization,
Right Sector, says Oleg Afanasyev, spokesperson
for KAMAZ OJSC, on Monday morning.

The Ukrainian National Guard, now largely made
up of Right Sector members, says it is upgrading
 its lorry fleet with "confiscated" Russian vehicles.

“After we filed a complaint against people
impeding the lorries, the Ukrainian law
enforcement agencies filed a criminal
case under  ‘Arbitrary behavior’,” the
factory spokesperson says.

He adds that this weekend (March 22-23),
 the shipment of seized lorries was divided
 into two parts: 21 vehicles were left on a
 parking lot being guarded by the police,
and the rest, transferred to members of
the Right Sector, to keep.

 The rest were "lost". Representatives of the
 carmaker say the vehicles could have been
 taken out of the city.


Massive anti-Maidan rallies grip eastern
 Ukraine as residents demand referendum

Rallies have swept eastern Ukraine, with
residents protesting against Kiev’s coup-
imposed government and demanding a
referendum to decide on the future of
the entire region.

Thousands took to the streets in Kharkov,
Donetsk, Lugansk, and Odessa on Sunday.

About 5,000 protesters gathered in Kharkov city
on Sunday, to rally in favour of federalizing the
country and holding "people’s referenda" in
eastern Ukraine.

The demonstrators also demanded that Russian
becomes the official language of Kharkov region.

 Russian is the most common first language in
 the eastern regions.

residents proclaimed as illegitimate,
the political part of the EU-Ukraine association
agreement signed by temporary PM Yatsenyuk.

Some protesters headed to the Russian
embassy, to ask Moscow to investigate
legality of NATO troops in Ukraine,
and addressed Crimeans, asking

Crimea to help their region.

The rally in Kharkov was also dedicated to two
 protesters who were killed last week by members
 of the ultra-nationalist Right Sector movement,
 which played an active role in the Maidan protests.

 The demonstrators chanted “Glory to Kharkov
 defendants!” and “We won’t live under Bandera!”

Stepan Bandera was head of the Organization of
Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN). Bandera's nationalist
movement collaborated with Nazi Germany during
World War II and was involved in the mass ethnic
cleansing of Poles, Jews, and Russians.

OUN was also responsible for the massacres of
 Poles in Volhynia and Eastern Galicia, which
 resulted in about 100,000 murders.

In the eastern Ukrainian city of Lugansk, the
preliminary results of an improvised referendum
were relayed to a several thousands-strong rally.

According to the results, over 100,000 people
voted in favour of joining Russia in a people’s
referendum carried out in the form of a poll in
Lugansk. The poll was initiated last Sunday,
and will continue for another week.

Another 1,000 people gathered near the building
of the regional security service, to protest against
the current authorities in Kiev.

Donetsk city, also in the Donbass region, also
witnessed protests on Sunday, as over 2,000
 people took to the streets.

 They demanded that a referendum be held
to decide the future of the region, and gave
out ballot papers.

The protesters hoisted a Russian flag near the
 city council building, chanting “Russia” and
 “Berkut” while the building was surrounded
 by police.

Thousands also gathered for a rally in the
Black Sea coastal city of Odessa on Sunday,
protesting against the West's coup-imposed
government in Kiev.

 They carried Ukranian, Russia, and Crimean flags
 and chanted slogans such as “Ukraine & Russia
 are together” and “Odessa is against Nazis and
 tycoons,” as well as “Referendum!”

The peaceful demonstrators
urged the authorities
 to release Anton Davidchenko, the arrested leader
 of 'People's Alternative', a council coordinating
 the work of regional public organizations.

 They demanded an end to the persecution
 of activists accused of "separatism".

Davidchenko’s mother, Lubov, at the rally, urged
 all mothers in Ukraine to “prevent their sons from
 going to the criminal war, which the West-backed
 far-right authorities and tycoons in Kiev are trying
 to unleash between the fraternal Slavic peoples
 in the interests of their Western sponsors,” Itar-
Tass reports.

“The authorities in Kiev are speaking about war
 with Russia, but in fact they are at war with
their own people."

 "The majority of Ukrainians don't support [Kiev’s]
 policy, but Kiev prefers not to pay attention to
 the people’s opinion, retaliating with repression,”
 stated city council deputy, Sergey Bovbolan.

Speakers at the rally called for an end to
 the disinformation campaign being waged
 by local media, and for the coup authorities
 to stop putting pressure on TV channels.

A crowd of thousands of Odessa residents
 walked through the central streets, to the
 Polish embassy, to remind them of past
genocidal crimes by Bandera's followers.

Poland, Ukraine's western neighbour, has
been very vocal during the crisis, in its
support for the current far-right Kiev

 Poland also hosts the US military and the
 Pentagon dispatched 12 fighterplanes and
hundreds of troops to Poland, after the
 Crimean referendum.

People in the eastern regions of Ukraine
fear that the far-right Kiev authorities
will not represent their interests.

Residents of the Donbass region – the majority
 of whom are Russian speakers – are extremely
 unhappy over the Kiev parliament's decision to
 revoke laws on the use of minority languages,
 including Russian.



Turkey's armed forces on Sunday shot down a
Syrian warplane near the Turkish-Syrian border.

Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said
on Sunday that his country's armed forces shot down
a Syrian jet, "after it crossed the border" into Turkey.

He congratulated the army for targeting the plane
and warned of a heavy response, "if Syria violates
 Turkey’s airspace again".

"A Syrian plane violated our airspace. Our F-16s took
 off and hit this plane. Why? Because if you violate
my airspace, our slap after this will be hard," he
told a rally of his supporters in northwest Turkey.

Syrian officials reject Turkey’s claim about the
violation of its airspace and say the plane was
in Syrian airspace when it was downed.

The jet fell on Syrian territory and the pilot
ejected in time, and without injury.

A Syrian army spokesperson describes the act
 as “a flagrant aggression”.

"In a flagrant act of aggression, that is evidence
of Erdogan's support for terrorist groups, Turkish
anti-aircraft defenses shot down a Syrian military
aircraft that was chasing terrorist groups inside
Syrian territory at Kassab," the spokesperson says.

Syrian officials say the warplane was targeting
 foreign-backed militants in the coastal province
 of Latakia, close to the border with Turkey.

Since Friday, heavy clashes have broken
out between soldiers of the Syrian army
 and foreign-backed groups near Kassab,
 a border crossing with Turkey, close to
 the Mediterranean sea.

Turkey has been a most vocal supporter
 of the terrorists fighting against Syria's
 President, Bashar al-Assad.

Syria has been gripped by deadly violence
 since 2011.

Over 130,000 people have been killed and millions
 displaced, due to the violence fueled by Western-
backed armed groups drawn  from many countries.


Ukrainians Urge Unity after
 Russia Enters Crimea Base

Kiev braces for a unity rally today (Sunday) after
elite Russian forces stormed one of Ukraine's
last Crimean bases, in an advance that defies
both sanctions, and global isolation.

Saturday's takeover, involving machinegun fire
into the air and stun grenades, provided the most
 spectacular show of force since the Kremlin sent
troops into the heavily Russified peninsula three
weeks ago before sealing its absorbtion on Friday.

It came as the chill in East-West relations grew
intense as Germany -- a nation whose friendship
Russian President Vladimir Putin has nurtured --
 charged the Kremlin with trying to "splinter"
 Europe along Cold War-era lines.
Europe's most explosive security crisis in decades
 will now dominate a nuclear security summit that
 starts in The Hague on Monday, and will include
what may prove the most difficult meeting to date
 between US Secretary of State John Kerry and
 Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
The diplomats' encounter will come with Russia
 facing the loss of its coveted seat among the G8
 group of leading nations, and Putin's inner circle
 facing off those sanctions the US has imposed,
for a "use of force", in response to last month's
 fall of a pro-Kremlin regime in Kiev, reports
al Manar news.



A former UK commander recalls his mission
 in Afghanistan, by saying that US-led UK troops
 ‘pointlessly’ massacred 100s of Afghan villagers.

In a new book, Major Richard Streatfeild, who
served in the town of Sangin in Afghanistan’s
southern province of Helmand, in 2009-2010,
censures UK soldiers for using “turkey shoot
 tactics,” which resulted in the “repetitive
 slaughter” of Afghan villagers, the Daily Mail
 reports yesterday.

According to the ex-commander, UK forces
 operating in Helmand from 2006 to 2009,
 were authorized to open fire on anyone
nearing their bases carrying a weapon.

“These men, who lived in the villages surrounding
 our bases, did not want to fight us,” Streatfeild,
 says:  “Sadly, there were many occasions when
 these men approached our bases and, as they
were carrying a weapon, they were shot dead.”

The former commander says the Afghan people
 targeted, were the very people UK troops were
 supposed to be protecting.

The US and its allies invaded Afghanistan in 2001
 as part of Washington’s so-called war on terror.

The offensive removed the Taliban from power,
but the country is still gripped by insecurity.

Anger has been rising among the Afghan people
and officials over civilian deaths by US-led troops.

Political figures in Afghanistan also heap scorn on
 US-led forces for committing unforgivable crimes
 against Afghan women and children since 2001.

On March 15th, Afghan President Hamid Karzai
 said that over 12 years of US-led war had been
 imposed on the Afghan nation.



Russia is observing all international agreements
 on troop limits in regions bordering Ukraine, the
 Russian Deputy Defense Minister says, adding
that foreign missions’ inspections confirm this.

The statement is made in response to reports
 by several foreign media outlets saying there
 are concentrations of "thousands" of Russian
servicemen on the Russian-Ukrainian border.

“This issue has been regularly raised over the
 last month in 'phone conversations between
Russia’s Minister of Defense Sergey Shoigu,
and his foreign counterparts, including US
 Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and even
 acting Ukrainian Defense Minister, Igor
Tenyukh,” Anatoly Antonov, the Russian
 Deputy Defense Minister says.

Sergey Shoigu has, in a very transparent manner,
 informed all of them about the real situation on
 the Russian-Ukrainian border. He also stressed
 that Russia has no intention to concentrate
 troops there, Antonov says.

Following recent probes by foreign missions in
 Russia, of Ukraine’s bordering regions, foreign
 inspectors concluded that the "Russian Armed
 Forces are not undertaking any undeclared
 military activity that would threaten the
security of neighboring countries,"
Antonov says.

 He points out that 8 foreign inspection
 groups have recently visited Russia.

“Our venues and regions, where troops are
stationed near Ukrainian borders, have twice
 been checked by the Ukrainian military,” the
 Deputy Minister says.

 “Besides, we have had on our territory,
 inspectors from the US, Canada, Germany,
 France, Switzerland, Poland, Latvia,
 Estonia and Finland.”

Seven of those eight missions were interested
 in Russian regions bordering Ukraine, he says.

 Foreign inspectors were allowed to talk to
chiefs of the Russian military units, take
 pictures of deployment sites and military
vehicles, and control them during relocation.

“We did our best to meet our partners’ requests
 by allowing them to inspect all of the sites they
 wanted. We have nothing to hide,” Antonov says.


89% of Veneto residents vote for
independence from Rome.

89% of residents in Italy's Veneto region
 have voted in an unofficial referendum,
 in favour of independence from the rest
 of the country, as Venetians seek to
 restore the glory of the old days, by
 creating a state of their own.


Crimean premier urges Ukrainians
 to oppose association with EU

Crimea's Prime Minister Sergei Aksyonov urges
 the people of Ukraine to fight against Kiev’s drive
 for association with the European Union, which
 he says, would be fatal for the country.

In his televised address to the people of Ukraine
 on Saturday, March 22nd, Aksyonov notes that:

 “a movement in support of our traditional and the
only legitimate political & economic union - with
 the Russian state - is now gaining momentum” in
 many Ukrainian regions. “I ask you to support it
for the sake of our common good! Rise to fight
for a decent future, for our common future!”
CrimeaInform quotes him as saying.

The prime minister stresses that this fight will not
 be directed against Ukraine as a state, because
 “only you can save it”.

Aksyonov believes that “the impostors in Kiev are
 step by step taking” the country to the brink of an
 abyss and if the economic part of the association
 agreement with the European Union is signed, “if,
 of course, you allow it to be signed, you will face
 unjustifiably high taxes and prices, inflation and
 growing unemployment, and a higher retirement
 age - beyond the average life expectancy.”

"All industry and agriculture, not only in the
south-east, but also in other parts of Ukraine,
will be destroyed within months after the
association agreement with the EU enters
into force."

 “Millions of people will be left without any
means of existence and will only have to
choose between dying, or becoming
forced labour migrants,” he warns.

 “And all this just to allow home-bred Ukrainian
oligarchs to continue to reap the benefits,
comfortably and unhindered, by plundering
their own people, and for a bunch of Nazi
politicians to get a ticket for reigning and
realising their cannibal ideas of ‘the purity
of the Ukrainian nation’ and assimilation
of ‘non-indigenous people’.”

The prime minister notes that he cannot stand
aside, even though no such threat exists for
the people of Crimea any more.

 “I appeal to you and urge you to fight! I have no right
 to urge you to separate from Ukraine. But I will urge
 you to fight for your right to a decent life,” Aksyonov
 says, adding that this is his “human and civil duty”.

He urges Ukrainians to “resist the choice” made
 for them by “a bunch of adventurists financed
 by comprador oligarchs”.

 “I urge you to rise to defend your own freedom,
rights and interests, which I am confident can
 be ensured only in a close alliance - political,
economic and cultural - with the Russian
 Federation,” he says.

Aksyonov stresses that he does not speak on
behalf of Russia, or its leadership, but expresses
his own view, and the opinion of the multi-ethnic
people of Crimea.


Egypt Mass Trial of Mursi Backers 'deferred'

An Egyptian court adjourned the mass trial of
over 1,200 supporters of the ousted president,
 Mohamed Morsi, shortly after it opened in the
town of Minya, local media say.

The mass trial is part of a crackdown by Egypt's
military-installed authorities which targets Mursi's
supporters, who remain steadfast in demanding
 his reinstatement.

Morsi, Egypt's first elected and civilian president, was
removed by the army on July 3rd. His ouster triggered
widespread unrest across a deeply polarized country.

500 defendants were to be tried on Saturday,
 and another 700 will face charges Tuesday,
 sources said.

Judicial sources say that many of the
defendants are on bail or "on the run".


'Colonialism, apartheid and ethnic cleansing':
 UN rapporteur on Palestine blasts Israel

The UN Special Rapporteur on Palestine accuses
the Israeli authorities of conducting colonialist policies
that are forms of apartheid, and of ethnic cleansing in
occupied territories in the West Bank & E. Jerusalem.

Speaking at a news conference at the UN European
headquarters in Geneva on Friday, the UN Special
Rapporteur on Palestine, Richard Falk, accuses
Israel of forcing Palestinians out of East Jerusalem
and creating unbearable conditions for the minority
--- to force them to immigrate.

Falk, an ethnic Jewish expert in international law
and professor emeritus at Princeton University,
 tells journalists that Israeli policies have the
 “unacceptable characteristics of colonialism,
apartheid and ethnic cleansing.”

In the present situation where talks between Israel
and the Palestinian authority remain in deadlock,
the acceleration of Israeli settlement construction
in the occupied territories is causing Palestinians
to lose faith that their own state can ever be won.

“Every increment of enlarging the settlements, or
every incident of house demolition, is a way of
worsening the situation confronting Palestinian
people and reducing what prospects they might
have as the outcome of supposed peace
negotiations,” he says.

Speaking about Israel de facto annexing parts of
  Palestinian territory, Falk cites a report on the
 human rights situation in occupied Palestinian
territories, prepared by his group and presented 
last January.

The report maintains that Israeli policies in the
West Bank are effectively denying a Palestinian
right to self-determination by using “apartheid
and segregation.”

“To sustain indefinitely an oppressive occupation
containing many punitive elements also seems

designed to encourage residents to leave
Palestine, which is consistent with the apparent
b annexationist, colonialist, ethnic-cleansing goals

of Israel, especially in relation to the West Bank,
including East Jerusalem,” the report said.

For that purpose, the Israelis use bureaucratic
processes, such as “revocation of residency
permits, demolitions of residential structures
built without Israeli permits (often virtually
impossible to obtain), and forced evictions of
Palestinian families,” which is a definite
violation of the International Covenant on
Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, said
the report.

In Jerusalem alone, over 11,000 Palestinians have
lost their right to live in the city since 1996, only
because Israel has been imposing residency laws
in favour of Jews, making it possible to revoke
Palestinian residence permits, Falk reports.

“The 11,000 is just the tip of the iceberg because
many more are faced with possible challenges
to their residency rights,” he says.

Along with the eviction of the Arab population
from Jerusalem, Israel is actively constructing
settlements to "change the ethnic composition"
of East Jerusalem, Falk said.

Israel captured both the West Bank and Gaza Strip
 as a result of the so-called Six-Day War in the Middle
East in 1967. Captured East Jerusalem was later
annexed as part of Israel’s indivisible capital, though
this move has never been recognized internationally.

At the same time Palestinians are trying to establish a
 state of their own in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, the
only land left to them as of now. The capital of the state
 they aim for, is occupied East Jerusalem.

Palestinians refuse to recognize the state of Israel
in its present borders, whereas Israel says that this
refusal is the main obstacle to the creation of a
Palestinian state.

Israel has consistently denied any allegations of
 persecuting Palestinians, shifting the blame onto
their Palestinian opponents, whom they accuse
of anti-Israeli violence that permanently disturbs
the peace in the Jewish state.

This week US President Barack Obama addressed
 Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, pointing out

the necessity to break the stalemate with Israel
before the deadline for a framework deal, initiated
 by the US Secretary of State John Kerry, expires
 on April 29th.

According to Professor Richard Falk, any peace
 negotiations between Israel and Palestinians are

usually undermined by a sharp rise in Israeli
settlement activities.

At the same time, the general attitude of the Israeli
 political establishment towards any direct peace
 negotiations has seriously changed, Falk notes, as
many Israelis now say that even entering into such
 negotiations is a betrayal of their national interests.

"A few years ago it would be hard to imagine that
there was something to the right of Netanyahu,”
 Falk says, pointing out that as of today, a gradual
shift to the right has taken place.

 "And there is a strong internal Israeli opposition
 to any sense that the Palestinian people, in any
diminished way, deserve a state of their own,”
 he concludes.

Facing the end of his six-year term as the UN
Special Rapporteur on Palestinian human rights,
Richard Falk is to address the UN Human Rights
Council directly this Monday, before it names
his successor.


UNASUR Shields Latin America
               From Coup d'Etat Attempts               
 This week the Union of South American Nations
 (UNASUR) shields its members from coup d''etat
 attempts and attacks on constitutional order
- like the one currently affecting Venezuela -
by adding a democratic constitution clause.

The 'Additional Protocol of UNASUR Constituent
 Treaty on the Commitment to Democracy',
entered into force on Wednesday, a month after
 being signed by Uruguay and on the same date
 when Colombia officially joined the organization.

Of the 12 country members of UNASUR, made up of
 Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Colombia, Chile, Ecuador,

Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Uruguay,
Venezuela and Ecuador, only Brazil and Paraguay
have still not signed the clause, to be implemented
in cases of breaking or attempts to break democracy,
or violating constitutional order in members of the
regional bloc created in 2008.

Along with a restoration of democracy in the
country concerned, UNASUR could now enforce
political and diplomatic sanctions such as border
closures and the reduction or suspension of trade
 and air traffic.

The democratic clause comes at a fitting time due
to the situation that has been affecting Venezuela
for a month, where the legitimate government is
threatened by violent opposition groups.

Venezuela is also determined to press ahead with
 its broad-based reforms, by improving the social
 and economic lives of the majority of its citizens.


Israeli Forces and Settlers Storm Al-Aqsa Mosque

Dozens of Zionist soldiers and Jewish settlers storm
 the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Al-Quds (occupied
 East Jerusalem) through the Bab al-Maghrabeh Gate,
 late on Thursday.

In recent months, groups of extremist Jewish settlers,
often accompanied by Zionist security forces, have
stepped up their intrusions into the Al-Aqsa Mosque
 complex, the world's third holiest site for Muslims.

The frequent violations anger Palestinian Muslims
and occasionally lead to violent confrontations.

Jews refer to the area as the "Temple Mount,"
claiming it was the site of 2 prominent Jewish
 temples in ancient times.

In September 2000, a visit to the site by 
Ariel Sharon triggered a "Second Intifada"
– a popular uprising in which thousands of
Palestinians were killed and injured.


Israel to build 1,220 housing units in West Bank
Israel now approves 1, 220 new housing units
 in its largest settlement in the West Bank.

The Civil Administration approves 839 housing
 units in Ariel, the largest settlement there.

Some 31 housing units will be built in Almog, in
 the northern Dead Sea. 350 more housing units
 are to be built in Rahel, north of Ramallah.

The plan was initiated by the hawkish Housing
and Construction Minister, Uri Ariel, a proponent
 of the settlement movement and by the former
 Sec. General of Yesha, the umbrella organization
 of the settlements' municipal councils .


70+ Ukrainian military facilities on Crimea
 peninsula fly Russian flags today, including
 some Ukrainian Black Sea navy ships.

Ukrainian military personnel serving in Crimea
now have the opportunity to choose whether
 to stay or leave, Crimean PM Aksenov states.

They are guaranteed salary payments and
allowances due under Ukrainian legislation,
the chair of Crimea's council of ministers says.

"I'm absolutely sure that all military units will
move to the March 17th side of the legitimate
 government or become the reserves," he says.


US boycotts UN human rights conference
 with drone resolution looming

Pakistani leaders hope to convince the UN Human
 Rights Council to pass a resolution that will force
 US drone strikes to adhere to international law – a
request that inspired the US to boycott the talks
altogether, according to a new report.

The draft of a Pakistani resolution, reported by
 Colum Lynch of 'Foreign Policy', proposes that
nations “ensure transparency” when discussing
drone strikes and “conduct prompt, independent
 and impartial investigations whenever there are
 indications of any violations to human rights
 caused by their use.”

While official numbers don't exist, experts suggest
that anywhere from 200 to 1,000 Pakistani civilians
have been killed by US drone strikes, with as many
 as 200 children hit and killed.

The UN proposal urges “interactive panel
discussions” on the use of drones, and is
 a clear appeal to the world community.

The Human Rights Council entered a third day of
discussing the resolution on Wednesday, yet the
US delegation was nowhere to be found.

The Obama administration joined the council in 2009,
 ending a boycott initiated by the Bush administration,
which was nervous about smaller nations trying to
influence the body – particularly on Israel's actions.

But the US has since avoided a number of instances
where the US authorities may have been forced to
turn over information about its drone program.

Ben Emmerson, the UN’s current special rapporteur
 for the promotion of human rights and fundamental
 freedoms while countering terrorism, told 'Foreign
 Policy' - US intelligence leaders must at least give
 world leaders an understanding of US drone use.

“The single greatest obstacle to an evaluation
of the civilian impact of drone strikes is lack of
transparency, which makes it extremely difficult
 to assess claims of precision targeting
 objectively,” he said.

Pressure from the world seems to have worked,
at least temporarily, as the number of US drone
 strikes in Pakistan has fallen in the past month.

 Pakistan's government asked the US to curtail
drone activity while it tries to continue peace
negotiations with the Pakistani Taliban, says
 The Washington Post.

“That’s what they asked for, and we didn’t tell
 them no,” one US official says.

“The president has made clear that even as we
 aggressively pursue terrorist networks through
 more targeted efforts & by building the capacity
 of our foreign partners – America must move off
a war footing,” White House spokesperson
 Caitlin Hayden said last month.

 “We will not be safer, if people abroad believe we
strike within their countries without regard for
the consequences.”

The current restrictions are doing little to stop
 debate both at home and abroad. Last month,
 after the Obama administration said it would
 reduce attack numbers, this was criticised
by Representative Mike Rogers, a Michigan
Republican who warns against such a decision.

“Individuals who would have been previously
 removed from the battlefield by US counter-
terrorism operations for attacking for plotting
 to attack against US interests remain free
 because of self-imposed red tape,” he said
 at a congressional hearing.

Resolutions like the one proposed by Pakistan
 generally pass by consensus, although the US
 has asked that this proposal goes to a vote
 when it is formally introduced next week.

This, like the rest of the Obama administration’s
approach on this matter, is misguided, says
 Andrew Prasow, a US lawyer affiliated
with Human Rights Watch.

“This resolution will be the first time the council
 is going to do anything about drones and the US
 is not even participating in any of the informal
discussion about language,” he states.

“They tell us they are reserving judgment on the
resolution, which means they aren't happy with it.
 We have also heard from them, and others as well,
 that they are concerned as the council doesn’t
have jurisdiction on this issue. I think it’s ludicrous
to say that the Human Rights Council doesn’t have
 anything to say about drone strikes.”


Israel gears up for possible unilateral strike on Iran
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense
 Minister Moshe Ya'alon have ordered Israel's military to
 continue the preparations for a possible strike on Iran's
nuclear facilities during 2014, says Israeli daily Ha'aretz.

According to the report, the Israel Defense Forces
allocated up to NIS 12 billion (3.5 billion U.S. dollars),
 nearly a fifth of its budget this year, on preparations
 for a possible unilateral strike on Iran, approximately
 the same amount invested last year.

The figure was presented by top officers who briefed
 the joint committee in January and February on the
 military's plans, say Israeli lawmakers.

They say some of their colleagues asked the
 officers if it was justifiable to keep pouring
billions into preparations to strike Iran, citing
the interim nuclear agreement inked between
Tehran and the 6 powers last November, and
the ongoing negotiations aimed at reaching
 a final accord...

The officers replied that the military had received
a "clear directive" from the political echelon, ie
 Netanyahu and Ya' alon, to continue training for
a possible independent strike, regardless of the
 diplomatic efforts to resolve the Iranian issue
 peacefully, says the Ha'aretz report.

Netanyahu, who has stated repeatedly that Israel
must be able to defend itself, has clarified that
 the Jewish state isn't bound by an interim accord,
and is issuing the threats, as Iran and the P5+1
 engage in fressh talks for a permanent agreement.

"I believe letting Iran enrich uranium, would
open up the floodgates. We will make sure it
does not happen," the prime minister told the
 2014 US AIPAC conference earlier this month.

Ya'alon, in a speech early this week at Tel Aviv
University, hinted he too is inclined to support
an Israeli strike, given his assessment that the
Obama administration, despite its often-stated
 promise that no option is off the table, will not
 attack Iran.



Relatives of Malaysians killed by UK troops
 over six decades ago, vow to continue their
legal campaign for a fresh inquiry into the
 massacre in colonial-era Malaya.

Lawyers representing the families of 24 unarmed
 Malaysian rubber plantation workers killed by UK
troops in 1948, say they will take
their case for a
new investigation to the highest
UK Court, and
ultimately to the European Court
of Human Rights.

England’s Court of Appeal this week, threw out
attempts to overturn an earlier High Court ruling
 that upheld the UK government’s decision not to
hold a formal probe into the Batang Kali killings.

Quek Ngee Meng, a spokesperson for family
members of the victims, says that,
 the dismissal of the appeal,
the “journey to
 seek redress and justice has not come to
 an end.”

“The destination is not too far off either. Either
 UK human rights law needs to catch up with
Europe with the help of the UK Supreme Court,
 or the families will need to go to Europe for
 satisfaction,” he concludes.

The massacre, involving members of G Company,
2nd Scots Guards, occurred as UK troops were
trying to put down the post-Second World War
 Communist insurgency, known as the Malayan

UK soldiers surrounded the rubber estate at
Sungai Rimoh, Batang Kali, above Kuala Lumpur,
then killed 24 villagers and set the village on fire.


EU doesn't want to know truth about
 Ukraine --- Russia's Foreign Ministry

President of the European Council, Herman
Van Rompuy, who has asked to visit Russia,
“has not been allowed to go to Moscow,”
 and is now “on a new sanction list”,
 says Russia's Foreign Ministry.

“On March 17th, the President of the European
Council, Herman Van Rompuy, asked urgently
to visit Russia”, to “hear first hand information
about the position of the Russian side on the
crisis in Ukraine and around it, as well as a
 better perspective on ways out of the still
 deteriorating situation,” the ministry says.

 “Moscow promptly responded to his request
and offered to receive him on March 19th.

“However, the European Council president
 has not been allowed to travel to Moscow,”
 Russia's Foreign Ministry stresses.

“His friends didn't allow him [to go], assuming
 that he does not need to know the truth, as
everything has already been decided."



 Russian President Vladimir Putin says the Western
 nations continue with their policy to stop Russia,
and cross the line over Ukraine and Crimea, with
irresponsible, rude and unprofessional behaviour.

In an address to a joint session of Russia's Federal
 Assembly (Parliament) in the Kremlin, Putin urges
 Western governments to put an end to the hysteria
 and admit that Russia has national interests, which
 must be respected, making a clear reference to
 Moscow's position of support over the unification
 of Crimea and Sebastopol.

Putin accuses the US & its allies of claiming for
 themselves, the right to decide this world's fate,
by disregarding UN decisions, and through the
 formation of coalitions in the style of: "those
 who are not with us, are against us."

Russia's president accuses the West of trying
 to put his country up against a wall, for having
 and defending an independent policy, and for
 calling things by their name, without hypocrisy.

Putin stresses that everything has a limit, and that
Russia sees no reciprocal steps, but the opposite:
 Western countries have lied several times and have
 taken decisions behind Russia's back, president
 Putin says, about NATO's expansion to the east &
the anti missile shield sponsored by Washington.

On Crimea, Putin says that everybody knew in
 advance, that Russia would not remain with its
 arms crossed, with millions of Russians living
 in that peninsula.

Putin addresses the US people, urging them
 to recognize Crimea's right to independence,
when recalling chapters in their own history.


Ukrainian Navy’s commander
in Sevastopol - latest

Ukrainian Navy Commander Sergey Gaiduk and
 seven activists, supporters of the new Ukrainian
 leaders, were released in Crimea "this morning
in Chongar village, near a checkpoint", stated
Supreme Council member Andrei Senchenko.

Deputy Anatoly Gritsenko also confirms this,
saying his son has been freed: "My son called
 a moment ago. Everything is okay at Chongar.
The hostages are freed," he says on Facebook.

The prosecutor’s office explains that, according to
their sources, Gaiduk had passed on to Ukrainian
 military units, Kiev’s orders to use weapons
against civilians.

Ukraine's Navy commander, Sergei Gaiduk,
was temporarily detained by the prosecutor’s
 office in Sevastopol.

“There are questions to be put to him,” the
Sevastopol prosecutor’s office said then.

The prosecutor’s office said that, according
 to their sources, Gaiduk had passed on to
Ukrainian military units, Kiev’s orders to
use weapons against civilians.

Earlier, Sergei Gaiduk followed by 50 officers,
 abandoned fleet headquarters in Sevastopol,
taking away all belongings and documents.

The Ukrainian officers walked off unimpeded
and relatives welcomed them at the gate.
Sevastopol activists and members of the self-
defense forces watched them go peacefully.

Vice-Admiral Gaiduk drove off in a car with
Ukrainian license plates and tinted windows.

On Wednesday morning, representatives of
the self-defense forces entered the military unit
and hoisted a Russian and a St. Andrew's flag.

 After, the Russian national anthem was played.

 No force was used against Ukraine's personnel.

After that, Russian Black Sea Fleet Commander
Vice-Admiral Alex Vitko arrived at the Ukrainian
 Navy headquarters to meet with Ukrainian Navy
Commander Vice-Admiral Sergei Gaiduk.

 The Russian Black Sea fleet commander and a
 Black Sea fleet officer stayed in the building of
the Ukrainian Navy headquarters for around 15
 minutes and left, making no comment.

The Russian Black Sea fleet commander and
the Russian officer talked to the former Chief
of the Ukrainian General headquarters Admiral
 Yuri Ilyin and ex-commander of the Ukrainian
Navy, Viktor Maksimov.

 The subject of discussion was not disclosed.

 Later, Ilyin told journalists that he arrived "to
keep the process in a peaceful framework."
Neither Ilyin, nor Maksimov were admitted
 to the talks held with Vice-Admiral Gaiduk.

Earlier, Sevastopol Mayor Aleksei Chalyi
 declared that all Ukrainian service-people
 in Sevastopol abandon their military units
 and go to a temporary registration office,
pending further instructions.



Ukraine's Western-backed interim prime minister
 said Thursday night that the country's conflict
with Russia has entered a “military stage”.

Arseniy Yatsenyuk was speaking at an urgent
government meeting in Kiev, after reports that
a Ukrainian soldier has been shot dead in the
Crimean peninsula.

"The conflict is shifting from a political to a military
 stage," Yatsenyuk said, telling Ukrainian troops
 to use weapons to protect their lives.

"Russian soldiers have started shooting at Ukrainian
 military servicemen & that is a war crime," he added.


Two people – a self-defense member and a
Ukrainian soldier – were killed and 2 others
wounded, after snipers opened fire from a
partially inhabited building near a military
research center in Simferopol. One sniper
was detained, and another is on the run,
reports RT television news.

RT's producer Lida Vasilevskaya said that the
perimeter of the Ukrainian military topography
 and navigation centre was already surrounded
 by men in camouflage when she arrived, and
added that the situation is now "calm."

The local Interior Ministry press release says
shots came from a house under construction
 opposite the centre, and targeted Crimean
 self-defense units, as well the military centre.

“Earlier today self-defense units were informed
 that a group of armed men had been discovered
 in a partially inhabited building,” the press
 release said on Thursday evening.

 “As the self-defense were taking measures to
check, they came under fire, presumably from
a sniper rifle,” police say, adding that the
shooting came “in 2 directions, from 1 spot.”

One self-defense unit member was killed and
another wounded, police say. One Ukrainian
soldier from the military research centre was
 also killed, and another was wounded.

Crimea police and Prosecutor's Office staff
 are investigating the attack.

The tiny Ukrainian military topography research
 centre, is mainly staffed by women. The centre
has reportedly decided to join with Crimea and
 Russia and was preparing paperwork to go over.

Crimean PM Sergey Aksyonov tells Russia’s
Channel One that this attack is reminiscent
 of the Maidan sniper shootings.

“At the moment two people are dead as a result
of a provocation, a sabotage. The situation allows
 me to conclude that the same techniques used at
 Maidan are being used now, because most likely
 one attacker fired at both sides:-  one Ukrainian
 serviceman and one man from self-defense forces
of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea were killed.”

“The location of the sniper was identified,” he adds.

Earlier, Ukrainian servicemen told RT that on
late Wednesday evening,
unknown groups
tried to break into several military
bases, but
self-defense units managed to prevent

“Guys from self-defense told me Tuesday they
 feared provocations," Lida Vasilevskaya tweets.

The Crimean Interior Ministry "did not rule out" a
provocation aimed at complicating the situation
 in the city, after Crimea and Sevastopol were
accepted into the Russian Federation.


Senior UK army officers blocked an
 investigation into the killing and
mistreatment of Iraqi prisoners
 during the Iraq occupation,
 a public inquiry has found.

The Al-Sweady Inquiry into the incidents
heard Monday that senior UK army officers
 have been making efforts to block the UK
 military police investigation into the killing
 of 20 unarmed Iraqi civilians and the abuse
of 9 others held in the Battle of Danny Boy,
 north of the Iraqi city of Basra, in 2004.

Military police special investigations officer,
 Lucy Bowen, told the inquiry she had been
stopped by the commanders of 1 Battalion,
 Princess of Wales Royal Regiment (1PWRR)
from questioning soldiers after the battle.

The inquiry counsel, Jonathan Acton Davis
 QC, asked Bowen if “the door was slammed”
 in her face. She replied: “Yes. They would
not allow us to investigate.”

“They blocked your investigation?” said Acton
 Davis. “Yes,” Bowen replied.

An official UK Ministry of Defense (MoD) document
 in which commanding officer of 1PWRR Lieutenant
 Colonel Matthew Maer says he and fellow officers
 themselves asked the military police to investigate
 the allegations, Bowen states, is “absolutely untrue.”

The MoD was forced to authorize the al-Sweady
 Inquiry, named after a 19-year-old victim, after
 a High Court ruling that the ministry seriously
broke its obligations under the Human Rights
Act to investigate the matter, while hiding
evidence that could lead to the convictions
of UK troops for killing and maltreatment.

UK forces participated in the US-led invasion
 of Iraq, in a blatant violation of international
 law in 2003 under the pretext that the regime
 of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein had
weapons of mass destruction. No such arms
 were ever discovered in Iraq.



Russia’s Upper House speaker and former
 deputy prime minister slams the sanctions
 by the US on Russian government officials.

Valentina Matviyenko tells Interfax that the
sanctions on her and ten other Russian,
Crimean and Ukrainian individuals are an
 “unprecedented” decision that had not
even been made during the Cold War.

“This is political blackmail: the US government
 knows I have no accounts, assets or property
 abroad,” Matviyenko states.

“I have always defended and will further defend
 Russia’s national interests, not the geopolitical
 interests of the West. No-one can intimidate us,”
 the Russian official adds.

Obama’s order freezes any assets of the officials
that are inside the US or “hereafter come within
 the US,” & bans them from travelling to the US.

The sanctions came after nearly 97% of voters
in Crimea voted on March 16th to secede from
 Ukraine in favor of joining Russia.

The sanctions sparked anger from other Russian
 officials. Yelena Mizulina, a member of the Duma,
 calls the sanctions “a rude violation” of her
rights as a citizen and a politician.

Vladislav Surkov, a senior adviser to
President Putin, says it is "a great
honour" for him.

Deputy Prime Minister, Dmitry Rogozin,
 also responds to the move with irony...

Rogozin states on Twitter that he is
 finally getting worldwide recognition.

The EU has also imposed sanctions:
 on three senior Russian commanders,
 Crimea's PM, a deputy speaker of the
 Duma, and 16 other senior officials.



Residents of the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk
 have set up checkpoints to prevent the country's
 military from approaching the border with Russia.

The checkpoints were established by the National
 Militia of Donetsk -- a pro-Russian volunteer group
 of self-defense forces.

The group says at least 100 unarmed men have
 joined it, with 20 people manning each checkpoint.

On Sunday, thousands of people living in Donetsk
 held a demonstration, demanding a referendum
on joining Russia.

Donetsk’s city council has refused to recognize
Ukraine’s new government and is calling now,
 for a referendum on the whole region’s status.



The chief Palestinian negotiator signals that
the Palestinian authorities are preparing to
 end 9 months of negotiations with Israel's
 current regime - if an agreement is not
reached by the April 29th deadline.

Chief Palestinian Authority negotiator, Saeb
 Erekat states, “The negotiations are up on
April 29th. You don’t need negotiations any
more. You need decisions.”

The Palestinian Authority official expresses
its "hope" that the Israeli regime “will make
 the choice: settlements or peace.”

“They can’t have both,” he added.

Erekat says the Tel Aviv regime has built
over 10,000 homes in the occupied West
 Bank since the negotiations began. “Is
 this progress?” he asks.

The official says any agreement must include
 a Palestinian state on the boundaries set in
1967, before the Israeli regime captured the
 West Bank, the Gaza Strip and E. Jerusalem.

US Secretary of State Kerry gave Israelis
 and Palestinians the nine-month deadline
 to reach a so-called peace deal.


UK Troops Withdraw from
               Military Bases in Afghanistan               
 The Armed Forces of Afghanistan are handed
over another 2 military bases by occupying
 UK troops in Helmand, media publish here.

A statement by the UK's Ministry of Defense
 confirms that Lashkar Gah and Lashkar Gah
 Durai military bases have been handed over
 to Afghan army control.

Of 137 UK military centres in Afghanistan,
 only 2 remain under UK command: Camp
Bastion and Sterga 2.

 Brigadier James Woodham, Commander of
Task Force Helmand, said that this was a
"historic moment in the military campaign
 of the United Kingdom in Afghanistan".

He added that Afghan forces are capable
 of protecting their own people, therefore
 UK troops are not needed anymore.

Troops from 50 countries - led by NATO, the
 US and UK - are committed to withdrawing
from Afghan territory by the end of 2014.

The Pentagon is pressing for an agreement
 to be signed with Afghanistan, in order to
 keep some 10,000 soldiers beyond the final
date of the occupying forces' withdrawal.


Sanchez Ceren: President elect
               of El Salvador               
 Salvador Sanchez Ceren, one of the historic
 leaders of the Farabundo Marti National
Liberation Front (FMLN), is president elect
 of El Salvador, to take effect on June 1st.

Sanchez Ceren  received 1, 495, 815 votes,
 (50.11% of all valid votes).

It's the highest number of votes any candidate
 has ever received in the history of El Salvador.

Sanchez Ceren, once member of the FMLN
general command, is one of the signers of
 Peace Agreements that ended the internal
 armed conflict, on January 16th, 1992.

Sanchez Ceren was born into a humble family
 on June 18th, 1944, in Quezaltepeque town.

During his electoral campaign, Sanchez Ceren
 committed himself to continuing and increasing
 the democratic, economic and social changes
 begun by the FMLN.

His term of office ends in 5 years, on May 31, 2019.



A political analyst calls on the global community
 to bring US rulers to justice and impose sanctions
 against the Machiavellian regime in Washington
over its hegemonic policies.

In an article on Press TV, Paul Craig Roberts
points to Washington’s incessant destruction
of countries across the world, as it uses its
military and economic warfare, with
manipulative propaganda.

“When will the world sanction the criminal enterprise
 that pretends to be a government of the United States?

“When will the War Crimes Tribunal and International
 Criminal Court issue arrest warrants for Obama and
his entire criminal regime, as well as the criminal
regimes of Bush and Clinton? When will the assets
of the US government and its criminal members be
seized?” he asks.

The analyst says the US government is “the worst
 criminal enterprise in the history of the world,”
which constantly manipulates democratic slogans
to extend its pernicious influence across the world.

Roberts censures Washington and its allies for their
 refusal to accept Sunday's referendum in the Republic
 of Crimea, as 68% of Crimeans voted to join Russia.

“Democracy is not acceptable to Washington, or
to the two-bit punk American puppets who rule
 for Washington in Germany, the UK, and France,
 when democracy does not serve Washington’s
agenda of hegemony over the entire world,”
 Roberts says.

The United States and the EU have rejected the
 Crimea vote as “illegal” and placed sanctions and
visa bans on many leaders, over its Ukraine stand.
Russia says such measures are counterproductive.



Two official currencies, the Russian ruble
 and the Ukrainian hryvnia, will be accepted
 in Crimea until January 1, 2016, according
 to a resolution adopted on Monday, by the
 Crimean parliament.
“The official currency unit of the Republic of Crimea
 is the Russian ruble, and until January 1st, 2016,
the Ukrainian hryvnia, will be also the official
currency,” the parliament’s official website says.

“The organization of money circulation and
withdrawing them from circulation on the
 territory of the Republic of Crimea will be
 made exclusively by the Bank of Crimea.”

 “The Bank of Crimea without any fees, performs
 transactions with budget funds of the Republic
 of Crimea, as well as transactions regarding the
 public debt management of the Republic of Crimea.”

The resolution also says that “profit making is not
 the objective of the activity of the Bank of Crimea”.

 The main objectives of the Bank of Crimea are
 “protection and providing of stability of currency
circulation, development and strengthening of
 the banking system, providing effective and
faultless operation of the payment system”.


In Kharkiv, last Sunday, crowds gathered to
press for all Ukraine to become a federation.

  Demonstrators chanted “Referendum!”,
“Russia!” and “We are with you, Crimea!”

The rally of several thousands backed a
resolution containing a demand for calling a
local referendum in favour of federalization.

 The resolution urges “territorial communities
of the Southeast, from Odessa to Kharkiv, to
pool all efforts for the sake of simultaneous
plebiscites and the federalization of Ukraine.”

“Our city has been Russian, and will remain
 Russian, albeit within Ukraine. We're prepared
 to live in one country, but on our terms,” one
 of the leaders of Civic Platform, Yuri Apukhtin,
 tells the crowd.

‘If we answer in the affirmative to the question
 about federalization, this will settle the inter-
ethnic rifts that exist in Ukraine,” says the leader
 of the Kharkov branch of the Communist Party of
 Ukraine, Alla Aleksandrovskaya.

 She says the referendum should also decide on
 the status of the Russian language as a second
official one, and Ukraine’s refusal to join NATO.


Ukrainian CyberBerkut takes down NATO websites

The hacktivist group 'CyberBerkut' claims it took
 down three NATO websites using DDoS attacks.

 The group damns NATO for stirring the crisis in
Ukraine, and for helping the “Kiev junta” to
suppress freedom of speech.

CyberBerkut claims it brought down NATO’s
 main website (nato.int), as well as the sites
 alliance’s cyber defense centre (ccdcoe.org)
and NATO's Parliament website (nato-pa.int).

The group, in a message posted on its website,
 says its members will “not allow the presence
 of NATO occupation on our homeland territory!”

The hacktivists also claim they are countering
 the acts of the so-called “Tallinn cyber centre”
or NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of
Excellence, which has been hired by the “Kiev
junta” to carry out “propaganda amongst the
Ukrainian population through the media and
 social networks.”

The West's cyber network, hactivists claim,
 is hiding behind the façade of the so-called
 “Maidan Cyber Sotnya” and is helping to
 “block objective sources of information,
 concealing the criminal acts of those who
call themselves a ‘legitimate authority.’"

NATO has confirmed attacks on its websites
via twitter, and says its sites suffered from a
“significant DDoS attack.” No critical systems
 have been hit and the integrity of its systems
 remains intact, NATO spokesperson, Oana
 Lungescu says.

CyberBerkut, named after the riot police unit
 that became an “arch-enemy” of Maidan,
has pledged to fight against the stream of
“neo-fascist propaganda” from “vicious
 and corrupt media.”

Cyber activists supporting the Maidan coup
have been targeting Russian government
websites and media for four straight days.


Crimean military thwart sabotage of gas plant
 supplying peninsula schools, medical centres.

Crimean military and self-defense forces 
have prevented an attempt to sabotage 
the gas distribution centre that supplies
a number of socially critical facilities in 
Crimea, including schools and medical
centres, Crimean authorities report.

At 11:00 GMT on Saturday, the gas supply to
 Crimea was halted at one of the distribution
centres near Strelkovaya, cutting gas to a
number of areas in the eastern peninsula.

As a result, a number of hospitals, medical
centres, schools and apartment buildings,
 had their gas cut off.

A group of technicians, escorted by the
Crimea’s newly created military, (former
Ukraine troops who've sworn allegiance
 to the republic), set out to check.

“There they encountered a group of
at least 20 armed men in camouflage,”
the Cabinet of Ministers of Crimea says:
 “These people were planting explosives
 at the facility in order to knock it out
of action completely.”

On seeing Crimean forces, they quickly
 fled towards the village of Strelkovaya.

According to Crimean PM Sergey Aksenov,
 the men sabotaging the facility introduced
 themselves as Ukraine Border Troops, but
retreated without a further explanation of
what they were doing at the gas plant.

Gas supplies have been restored,
Crimean authorities say, adding:
the “distribution station was put
under the control of self-defense
 forces of Crimea, in order to halt
 similar provocations in the near

Aksenov says such measures are
needed to “ensure the energy security
 of the Republic of Crimea and smooth
 functioning of critical infrastructure,”
 reports the Crimean news agency.

Ukraine is yet again accusing Russia of
"military aggression". Ukraine's media
 has reported nothing about the event
 at the gas plant.

A new National Guard is officially started
 made up of Maidan self-defense squads,
 of which, many of whom are neo-fascists
from the Right Sector and Svoboda Party.

Large quantities of weapons have gone
 missing from Ukrainian depots, since
 the coup that deposed the government.

Chief Editor of National Defense Magazine,
 Igor Korotchenko, says the guards role is:

“Roughly speaking, these will be Maiden
commissars, people with executive roles
 and the right to dismiss field commanders
 suspected of disloyalty to Ukraine's new
 authorities,” he says, adding that they will
 be deployed to all those areas which seek
 greater autonomy from Kiev, and might be
 used “against the population and the Self-
Defense Forces of Crimea.”

The Right Sector, which is believed to be
 the nucleus of this new National Guard,
 is notorious for its violent rhetoric and
extremist actions.

Yalta, a resort city in Crimea, on the Black
 Sea's north coast, witnessed such an act
of sabotage by the Right Sector this week,
 as local authorities found and dismantled
a bomb in a local cafe.

Aksenov also announces that he has good
 information that the Right Sector plans to
 attack one of the Ukrainian army units in
 the peninsula disguised as Russian troops
 as a provocation to disrupt the referendum.

The Russian foreign ministry warns that
 numbers of fighters, including many from
 Right Sector, are active across Ukraine,
citing the attack in Kharkov on Friday,
that killed two people.

“We are receiving disturbing information that
 a column of armed Right Sector mercenaries,
 whose leaders announced the opening of the
 ‘Eastern Front’, has left Kharkov for  Donetsk
 and Lugansk, while at one of the garment
 factories, they are urgently sewing Russian
 uniforms,” Russia's Foreign Ministry says,
 in a statement.

The statement adds that Russia is now
 receiving large numbers of petitions
 from Ukraine, asking for protection.


Russia Says Intercepted US Drone over Crimea

A US surveillance drone has been intercepted
 over Crimea,
Rostec, Russia's state arms and
technology group, says.

"The drone was flying at about 4,000 meters (12,000
feet) and was virtually invisible from the ground.

 It was possible to break the link with US
with "complex radio-electronic"
technology, says
Rostec in a statement.

The drone fell "almost intact into the hands of
self-defense forces" adds Rostec, which says
it manufactured the equipment used to down
the aircraft, but doesn't say who operated it.

"Judging by its identification number, UAV MQ-5B
 belonged to the 66th American Reconnaissance
 Brigade, based in Bavaria," Rostec says on its
 website, which also carries a picture of what it
says is the captured drone.

The US says there has been no loss of a drone.


Fascist concerns as Ukraine’s govt hastily
 turns Maidan squads into a National Guard

The creation of Ukraine’s National Guard as
 custodians of a coup-imposed government,
is raising concerns that it may be deployed
 to eastern regions of Ukraine - to suppress
the populations increasingly opposing Kiev.

 Its declared goal, according to the statement
 by the country’s parliament, is the protection
 of Ukrainians against external and internal
 aggression and to ensure territorial integrity.

A decree enabling the creation of a National
Guard was signed in by the coup-imposed
 President of Ukraine, Aleksandr Turchinov,
after it was fast tracked by Kiev Thursday.

A total of 262 members of the Rada voted to
establish the Ukrainian National Guard.

 The National Guard's chief will be appointed
 by the Rada, upon the recommendation of
 the acting post-coup president.

The Guard will be made up of 60,000 men
and women. Its official task is "to protect
 & safeguard the lives, rights, freedoms &
 legitimate interests of citizens, society &
 the state from criminal & other illegal acts."

 The guard will also "ensure public order in
 cooperation with law enforcement authorities,
protect state borders, combat terrorism, and
 suppress the activities of illegal paramilitary
 or armed organized groups or individuals."

The National Guard will be able to carry out
 the functions of any law enforcement agency
 in the post-coup state, as existing agencies
cannot be fully relied upon, considering the
 questionable legitimacy of the new rulers &
public discontent in most eastern regions.

Ukraine established a National Guard before,
 in 1991, with a similar role, as remnants of the
former Soviet army were considered "unreliable".

In 1995, it became the personal praetorian guard
of President Kuchma, but was disbanded in 2000.

 Historian Vladimir Skachko argues that the Guard
 will be used to antagonize the Russian speaking
 population, and he calls its creation this week, a
“legalization of neo-Nazi and neo-fascist batons.”

Citing examples from 20th century European
 history, Skachko draws a parallel with the SA,
 or Brownshirts, a paramilitary wing of the Nazi
 Party, which acted as death squads...

The new secretary of Ukraine's Security Council,
 Andrey Parubiy, was one of the founders of the
 Neo-Nazi Social-National Party of Ukraine (SNPU),
 known as Svoboda party. Parubiy, according to
 numerous reports, was in control of the building
 from which snipers shot in central Kiev, February.

Deputy Prime Minister Aleksandr Sych is also a
member of Svoboda, which uses Nazi symbols,
& flies WWII era nationalist flags from the time
when Ukrainian Nazis collaborated with Berlin.

The self-imposed prosecutor general of Ukraine,
Oleg Makhnitsky is also a member of Svoboda.

A 1999 report from Tel-Aviv University called the
 Svoboda party "an extremist, right-wing, nationalist
 organization which emphasizes its identification
 with the ideology of German National Socialism."

On Friday, Moscow launched a criminal investigation
 into Svoboda’s leader Oleg Tyagnibok for his alleged
 role in fighting Russian forces in Chechnya.

Another key figure is Dmitry Yarosh, the leader
of the Right Sector, which was instrumental in
 setting up the National Guard forces.

 Right Sector allies several neo-fascist groups,
 including UNA-UNSO, Patriots of Ukraine, who
allegedly fought against Russian troops in
Chechnya and Moldova.

Russia has placed Yarosh on an international
wanted list, charged with inciting terrorism,
after Right Sector’s social page published an
address to Doku Umarov, Moscow’s most
wanted person, to attack Russia.

Yarosh later said the page was hacked and
that the address was fabricated.

Historian Vladimir Skachko believes that the
authorities in Kiev are trying to channel all
neo-Nazi “combustible material” out of Kiev.
 Most likely, he says they will be dispersed
 around Crimea.

This idea is supported by sources cited by the
editor-in-chief of the National Defense Magazine,
 Igor Korotchenko, who says ‘Maidan commissars’
 have now joined the Ukrainian National guard.

“Rotation of forces is taking place, to move the
 military units to new locations. New authorized
political representatives posts are created for
 those troops that are being sent to South-East
 and the Crimean borders,” Korotchenko says.

The National Guard units, he says, will act as
guardians of the coup's leadership and ideals.

He says the troops will be deployed to those
areas which seek greater autonomy from Kiev
& might be used soon “against the population
and the Self-Defense Forces of Crimea.”

Kiev’s present economic struggles make some
 experts wonder who is financially supporting
Ukraine’s military reform...

“Most financial assistance allocated to Ukraine by
foreign countries, will focus on the establishment
and maintenance of the National Guard of Ukraine,”
 the former Deputy Minister of Defense of Ukraine,
Vladimir Tereshchenko, says on Saturday.

Tereshchenko says financial support for the
 Ukrainian Navy and army is being neglected
 by Kiev...  “thus emphasizing the priority of
the domestic power structure” on forming a
 National Guard - which will receive the funds.



Serguei Aksionov, Prime Minister of the autonomous
 republic of Crimea, says the authorities there will
only talk to the legitimate government of Ukraine.

In a press interview broadcast by Russia 1 TV,
Aksionov says Crimea is ready to talk from an
 independent position when talking about its
 status: to be decided today, in a referendum
considered illegitimate and separatist by
the government of Kiev.

But Aksionov insists on the legal case, and will
 only talk with "a legitimate government in Kiev."

Aksionov was appointed as the new Prime Minister
by the Supreme Council (Parliament) on February 27.

With the support of the Legislature, he subordinated
the military & police to the autonomous government,
 and says just 2 Ukrainian military units in Crimean
 territory, have not sworn fidelity and respect to the
 people of Crimea.

He admits to the press that these groups haven't
 sided with the Crimean autonomous government,
 but says they are suffering mass defections.



Clashes between pro-Moscow and pro-Kiev
demonstrators in Ukraine’s Russian-speaking
 city of Kharkiv, have reportedly killed 2 people.

One pro-Russia protester and a passerby were
killed by gunfire during clashes between the two
 sides outside a building of the far-right Ukrainian
nationalist group, Right Sector, late on Friday.

Police say events leading to the deaths began
when a group of nationalists opened fire from
inside a car at a pro-Russian protest being held
 on Kharkiv’s central Svoboda (Freedom) Square.

On Saturday morning, Kharkov region's police
 chief, Anatoly Dmitriyev, said their operation
to detain Right Sector gunmen, who opened
fire and seized hostages in Kharkov, was
complete, with about thirty people detained.

As was earlier reported, two people died and a
policeman and one more person were wounded
in clashes between Kharkov residents and Right
Sector gunmen. Submachine gun fire was used
from the Right Sector headquarters, as well as
 stun grenades and Molotov cocktails.

Ukraine’s acting Interior Minister Arsen Avakhov
 says on his Facebook page that around 30 people
“from both sides” were arrested.

Violent clashes between rival demonstrators in
Ukraine’s eastern city of Donetsk, also left one
person dead & over a dozen injured on March 13.


Russia Warns Against Military
              Maneuvers in Ukrainian Conflict Zone               
 Russia's Deputy Minister of Defense, Anatoly Antonov,
 criticizes the military exercises "of great magnitude"
 taking place in the East and South of Ukraine, where
 there are majority protests against the recent coup.

Antonov warns in an amazing understatement that
this "is pretty risky" and may destabilize Ukraine's
 political situation even more, already immersed
 as it is, in chaos, following the overthrow of the
elected President, Víktor Yanukóvich, by the
violent action of neo-fascist groups.

Kiev ordered a maximum alert of troops imposed,
 after Yanukovich left Kiev to speak in the East.

Without recognizing the Kiev coup authorities,
 Russia authorized an observation flight by the
Ukrainian air force over its territory this week.

The Deputy Minister explained it was for Russia's
 neighbours - to help them check that Russia isn't
 engaging in any military activity on its border,
 that might threaten the safety of Ukraine.

Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry, however, considers
Russia’s conditions for making an observation
 flight over its territory, are "excessive".

The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry spokesperson,
Yevgen Perebyinis, says now: “Although Russia
 agreed to Ukraine conducting an extraordinary
 observation flight over its territory, its conditions
 are absolutely excessive, and make the flight

“We hope that Russia will respond to Ukraine’s
 request to change the conditions, which will
 make a flight possible,” the spokesperson says.

On Friday the Kremlin, Channel 1 TV, and
Russia's Central Bank, were all hit by
hackers, as were Crimea's main websites.

RT reported the authorities as saying it
could not be assumed that the Ukraine
 crisis provoked these attacks.


Russia warns it reserves right
to protect citizens in Ukraine
Russia now accuses the current Ukrainian
 authorities of failing to control the situation
 in that country, saying Moscow might take
 Russian people there under its protection.

"We have repeatedly said, those who came
 to power in Kiev must disarm the militants,
provide security for the population, and
 the people's legal right to hold rallies," a
Russian Foreign Ministry statement says.

It refers to Thursday's events in the eastern
Ukrainian city of Donetsk, where a young man
was killed and several others injured, when
a right-wing group armed with baseball bats
 clashed with a pro-Russian rally.

"As these events demonstrate, the authorities
 in Kiev do not control the situation in the
country," the ministry states.

Russia realizes its responsibility for the lives
 of its fellow citizens & compatriots in Ukraine.

"We reserve the right to take these people
 under our protection," says Moscow.

The killing in Donetsk marks the first death
 since tensions moved from Kiev to Crimea,
in mid-February.

Crimea, a Ukrainian autonomous republic,
 is to hold a referendum today, on its future.



Ukraine’s former security chief confirms that
the snipers who killed dozens of people during
 last month's anti-government protests in Kiev,
 fired from a building held by the opposition.

In an interview with Rossiya-1 TV today,
the former head of the Security Service of
Ukraine, Aleksandr Yakimenko, says the
shots that killed both police and protesters
 in February were fired from a building which
 was under the full control of the opposition
and Maidan Commandant, Andrey Parubiy.

Parubiy was appointed as Secretary of the
 National Security and Defense Council of
 Ukraine, after the opposition took power
 in the former Soviet state.

“Shots came from the Philharmonic Hall and
Maidan Commandant Parubiy was responsible
for this building. Snipers and people with
automatic weapons, were ‘working’ from this
building on February 20th,” Yakimenko says.

The former chief of Ukraine’s security service
also says Parubiy had been in contact with
 US Special Forces and that they may have
 arranged the deadly shootings.

"These forces did what they were told by their
bosses – the US. They basically lived in the
embassy. They were there every day.

"It's true that Nalivaichenko allowed CIA agents
to work in the Security Service building He also
 handed personal files of his own employees
 over to the CIA agents to study.

 "But their mission was interrupted by an armed
coup. The Maidan do not appoint these people;
 rather, it’s the US that does it. It’s enough to
 look at the newly appointed officials: Parubiy,
 Gvozd, and Nalyvaichenko are all people who
 followed someone else’s orders, the orders
 of the US, not even Europe.

"They are directly linked to US intelligence.
 They sought to delay the negotiations and
prevent the incumbent president from striking
 a deal with Russia and Russia helping to prop
 up social and economic order in Ukraine.

"After that they planned to depose the president
and integrate Ukraine into Europe, using Russian
 money. Who was troubled by the victory of the
 EU and the pro-integration forces? Only the US.

"The US was the only country concerned over a
 possible alliance of Europe, Russia & Ukraine.
"The Customs Union and a connection between
Russia and Ukraine, did not sit well with their
 plans, either.

"They’d been doing it ever since Yushchenko was
 president, and we couldn’t get rid of them. Once
 we started to put pressure on, they relocated to
Poland, Latvia and Lithuania.

The most interesting part is that many regional
 governments spent budget money to pay for
 the so-called vyshkoli, i.e. training camps for
 militants to fight with various types of weapons.

All orders were given, either by the US
embassy, or by Jan Tombinski, a Polish
 representative who worked in the EU
 mission in Kiev.

 Poland played an invaluable role in the coup.
 It has always dreamt of restoring its former
power & a Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.

Ever since the Maidan kicked off, our security
 services registered a dramatic increase in
 diplomatic correspondence coming in to
various Western embassies in Kiev.

 There is one more mystery. Straight after this
 influx of correspondence we saw some foreign
money at the Maidan and in Kiev exchange
 bureaus: new, re-designed US dollar bank notes.

Poroshenko, Firtash, Pinchuk – they all poured money
 into the Maidan. With all their assets in foreign banks,
 they found themselves trapped. So they had to follow
orders from the West.

 All they were supposed to do was back the Maidan;
otherwise they would have lost all their assets. They
 were thinking about their money rather than their
 own country.

Unfortunately we couldn’t prevent the casualties,
 the people, mainly those who had come from the
 Western regions, were sent into the line of fire.

The Maidan militants left the barricades after
 the sniper fire started. But time will set the
 record straight.

The whole story has affected the Berkut guys, the
 Internal Troops, the Security Service, too. But
ordinary Ukrainians have suffered as well.

And I don’t think they should have sacrificed their
 lives for Yatsenyuk, Klitschko, Poroshenko and
others to take their posts.

 Ukrainians have lots of patience. But one day
 they will run out of it and remove them from
power. I hope that happens soon enough."

His remarks come after a recently leaked
 phone call between EU High Representative
 for Foreign Affairs Catherine Ashton, and the
 Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Paet, showed
 that Ukraine’s opposition had hired snipers to
 kill both police officers and demonstrators.

In the 11-minute conversation, Paet said
the February killings were carried out by
 snipers hired by the Maidan coalition, which
is the main provocateur of the crisis in Kiev.

The Estonian official also noted that ousted
Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych
had not been behind the fatal shootings.

Moscow has called for the formation of an
 independent group to investigate the crimes
committed by extremist and armed elements
 of the opposition over the past three months
 in the Eastern European country.

Ukraine's civil disorder started in November,
 as soon as Yanukovych refused to sign an
 EU Association Agreement, and chose
instead, closer ties with Russia.



The European Parliament votes to suspend
 certain data-sharing agreements with the US.

MEPs also vote in favor of a total end to data
sharing deals between the EU and US, unless
 the NSA stops blanket spying on EU citizens.

The European Commission, however, refuses
 to suspend data sharing with the US and says
it's looking for "assurances" from Washington.
Most MEPs believe that is not good enough.

“If we are simply looking at a nice diplomatic
cozy chat with the US as a result of this, it
 really makes you wonder what has to happen
 before we actually take any definitive action,”
 says UK Green MEP, Jean Lambert.

MEPs have also voted in favor of data protection
 regulations that would give EU citizens the right to
 have their personal information totally erased, and
 see large fines imposed on those flouting the laws.

But observers know that the EU Parliament has no
 power to act, and that all EU policy is decided by
 the unelected Commission, which serves the US.

In October, ex-NSA contractor, Ed Snowden,
 leaked secret US government spying programs
 which the NSA and the FBI use to eavesdrop
on millions of US and European phone records,
 plus the Internet data from  Facebook, Yahoo,
 Google, Apple and Microsoft.

The NSA scandal revealed spy activities which
 included bugging German Chancellor Angela
Merkel’s private cellphone, for over a decade.



German Chancellor Angela Merkel threatens
 Russia's leaders with individual travel bans...
and a seizure of their assets - unless Russia
 starts direct talks with Kiev.

Merkel makes the threat at a press event
 with Poland's centre-right PM, Donald Tusk,
after the US Congress "calls on" EU states
to impose travel bans and asset seizures
on Russia's leaders, to be followed by
trade and economic sanctions...

Germany's Chancellor says if "no progress"
 is made by March 17th, EU foreign ministers
will impose measures, including visa bans
 and asset freezes on those responsible for
 "Russia's actions against Ukraine and
 EU leaders."

Merkel stresses that Ukraine and the EU
 WILL sign an association agreement at
 the next EU summit - on March 20th.


Most Germans against sanctions on Russia — poll

Most German citizens do not support the possible
 imposition of economic sanctions on Russia over
 the situation in Ukraine, says a recent opinion poll,
conducted by market research company Forsa,
 for the German-Russian Chamber of Commerce.

Forsa statistics show only 24% of respondents
 consider economic sanctions against Russia 
 an effective way to settle the crisis in Ukraine.
69% say such pressure will bring nothing.

Most respondents believe economic sanctions
will harm



The parliament of the Autonomous Republic
 of Crimea Tuesday, adopts its declaration of
independence from Ukraine - necessary
 for holding the March 16th referendum.

“We, the members of the parliament of
the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and
 the Sevastopol City Council, with regard
 to the charter of the United Nations and
 a range of other international documents,
 taking into consideration the confirmation
 of Kosovo's status by the United Nations'
 International Court of Justice on July 22nd,
2010, which says a unilateral declaration of
 independence by a part of a country doesn’t
violate any international norms, make this
decision,” says the text of the declaration,
 published by the Crimean media.

The document is adopted at an extraordinary
 session of Crimea's parliament.

78 of 100 members of parliament, voted
 in favour of the declaration.

The Crimean parliament’s vote to become an
 independent sovereign state paves the way
for a March 16th referendum in the Crimean
Autonomous Republic and the city of
Sevastopol, to join Russia.

If the referendum is in favour, the Crimean
authorities will request that their country
becomes a constituent republic of the
Russian Federation.

The declaration was signed by the speaker
of the Supreme Council of Crimea, Vladimir
Konstantinov, and the head of Sevastopol
 City Council, Yury Doynikov.

“We adopted the declaration of independence
 to make the upcoming referendum legitimate
and transparent,” Konstantinov says.

“Now we declare ourselves the Republic of
Crimea, we don’t add ‘autonomous."

After today’s declaration of independence,
Crimea will never rejoin Ukraine, he adds.

He says Crimea will adopt the Russian ruble
as its currency, shortly after the referendum.



World Without Nazism, the international human
rights movement led by Boris Spiegel warns of the
 threat Ukraine's Neo-Nazis pose to ALL minorities.

“The absence of any international community
 reaction could repeat the Kristallnacht [Night
 of Broken Glass] for non-Ukrainians and other
ethnic minorities,” the movement says Tuesday.

The human rights activists urge world leaders
 “to take concrete measures to protect human
 rights & prevent violence & genocide in Ukraine”.

World Without Nazism considers as dishonest,
the position of certain Jewish leaders, who
“consider the communities’ state satisfactory
 when synagogues are on fire and when Jews
 face danger”.

The movement fears that, soon, Nazism may be
an official policy of the Ukrainian authorities.

 The human rights activists ask: “who
 can condemn Crimean residents, who
 want to get rid of Nazis and set up
people’s power on the peninsula?” 

“Only those who want to see Europe
under Nazi and radical nationalists
will condemn Crimea,” they answer.



Crimea’s Supreme Council has banned the
 activity of pro-fascist & Neo-Nazi political
parties and public organisations, including
 the Right Sector, the Crimean parliament's
 press service says in a statement Tuesday.

The Right Sector leader has been put on
the international wanted list for terrorism,
 the press service says.

Such parties as UNA-UNSO, Patriots of Ukraine,
Carpathian Sich and others, are also banned, as
they “pose a threat to Crimea’s security”, the
press service states.

“Crimea is shocked by the chaos that prevails
 in many Ukrainian regions,” the press service
 says, and “The statement by the Right Sector
extremist group gives serious concern, since
 its actions have led to escalating violence on
the peninsula."



A resolution passed by the Crimean parliament
 guarantees proportional representation in the
 republic’s legislative and executive bodies for
the Crimean Tatar ethnic minority, and grants
 their language official status, and other rights.

The resolution stipulates proportional representation
 in future parliaments and provides for at least 20%
of seats in Crimea’s executive for Crimean Tatars.
They will have guaranteed representation in the
lower levels of government, as well.

The parliament also wants to recognize as official
all the self-governance bodies of Crimean Tatars,
starting with the Kurultai, a Tatar general assembly.

Crimean MPs pledge to fund programs to
 support the Tatar community in Crimea
 and repatriation of Crimean Tatars, who
were deported from the peninsula by
 Stalin's Soviet government in the 1940s.

There will also be recognition of the Tatars’
 cultural impact on Crimea through the return
 of the original names of some geographical
 features, such as mountains or rivers, that
were changed at the time of the deportation.

Parliament Speaker Vladimir Konstantinov calls
 the bill “historic” and says Crimean Tatars have
 been waiting for the reform for 70 years.

“The Crimean Tatar people have not been offered
 anything like this from either the Soviet Union or
 independent Ukraine. They have been hoping for
 this for decades, and it will allow Crimeans of
all nationalities to develop and feel safe and
comfortable on Crimean soil,” he says.



The leaders of current US policy
say the door to diplomacy is now
closed, unless Russia agrees to
accept US conditions.

Kerry today refuses to accept
President Putin's invitation to
talk on the crisis.


French Leftist Leader Criticizes
              Western Attitudes Towards Ukraine               
  The Co-president of the French Leftist
 Party & former presidential candidate,
 Jean-Luc Mélenchon, today describes
 the US and EU's attitude to Ukraine,
 as "irresponsible and provocative".

Speaking to BFM TV, Mélenchon says
that the West's goal is to bring NATO
 member states to Russia's borders...
which is unacceptable, irresponsible
 and provocative.

The former presidential candidate
says it's no good adding fuel to a fire,
and France should act as a mediator,
which is in the country's tradition.

Mélenchon adds that the new Ukrainian
 government, made up of right-wing and
neo-Nazis individuals, will oppress the
 people --- as never before.



Fair Russia, a left of centre party allied
to the Socialist International, calls on
its sister parties across the world to
react wisely to Ukraine's rightwing coup.

It was inaction by European officials, that
 instigated the activities of the Right Sector
radical group manned by nationalists and
 neo-fascists whose prime motto is 'Ukraine
 for Ukrainians', the Russian message reads.

Fair Russia says that Right Sector controls
 about 15,000 well armed extremists, using
threats and violence to force the authorities
 in several regions into cooperating with the
 "Maidan" movement.

The Russian party tells its foreign allies that
 the leaders of Ukrainian rightists have called
to evict Russians and Jews from the country
 or the physical extermination of  these groups.

Fair Russia holds that it was only because of
 the Upper House’s decision to allow President
Vladimir Putin to use military force in Ukraine,
 that the threat of neo-fascist ultra-nationalists
seizing power in the eastern & south-eastern
regions, was stopped.

The Russian party calls upon all its partners
in the Socialist International to deliver aid to
 the Ukrainian people and also expects them
 to publicly denounce the ideology of the Right
Sector opposition, and rightwing extremists.

Fair Russia says only free, honest and universal
 elections, can now restore the legitimate state
 structures in Ukraine.


Ukrainian military won't listen
 to 'junta' in Kiev - Yanukovich

Ukrainian officers & soldiers loyal to their oaths
 won't take criminal orders from a coup-imposed
 government in Kiev, President Viktor Yanukovich
tells reporters today.

He says that, as a legitimate head of state,
he is still the commander-in-chief of Ukraine.

“I'm still alive and I'm still the legitimate
president,” Yanukovich says today in a
statement to the media in the southern
 Russian city of Rostov-on-Don.

He accuses the coup-imposed government
 of “shooting your own people” - protesters
 and police officers - during the February
conflict, and of escalating the violence.

The coup leaders in Kiev “will sooner
or later be held accountable for the
suffering of the people,” he says.

Yanukovich blasts western officials who
 recognize the Kiev government, despite
 the way it came to power and control
 by right-wing radicals.

“Are you blind? Have you forgotten
what fascism is?” he asks the West.

He criticizes the US for providing a $1 billion
 loan to the new authorities in Kiev, saying
 that US law forbids financial support for any
 government reaching power by military coup,
ousting a legitimately elected head of state.

Yanokovich says he will now appeal to US
 legislators to re-assess this noted violation.

Yanukovich warns that Ukrainians face a
 serious fall in their living standards due to
 economic "austerity measures" that Kiev
 will have to take to secure western "aid".

 The authorities will blame Yanukovich and
 probably Russia for this, he predicts, and
adds that they will be false accusations.

He also mentions the defiance to Kiev
 in Crimea and eastern Ukraine...

"Your actions have led to the fact that Crimea
 is separating and the people of the south and
east are demanding respect, even in the face
 of machine guns," he says.

"We will get through this trouble, and the
people who have been deceived by you,
will see this and the country will rise up 
and unite,"
he says, addressing the Kiev
coup authorities.

He neither endorses nor condemns Crimea's
imminent referendum on whether to become
 independent from Ukraine and join the
Russian Federation.

He denounces the presidential election in
 Ukraine planned for May 25th, saying that,
 under the circumstances, it cannot be
a legal, representative body.

Yanukovich dismisses the notion that he lost
 legitimacy after fleeing Ukraine and pledges to
 return to Kiev,  “as soon as the circumstances
 allow it.” He says he believes that will be soon.

Yanukovich was overthrown on February 22nd
 in what Russia considers was an armed coup,
 committed with the help of armed groups.

The new authorities declared him deposed
 in violation of constitutional impeachment
procedures, and formed a new government.

While western countries hail this development
 and support Kiev, Russia sees it as illegitimate
and insists on forming a new inclusive national
 reconciliation government.

Such a move is part of a deal which Yanukovich
 and protesters struck, just before his ousting,
and which three European nations also signed.

Those 3 Western countries who signed, say
now that the peace deal became "irrelevant"
 after Yanukovich crossed Ukraine's borders.

(The 3 without honour, are France, Germany
and Poland.)



Libya is "epicentre of illicit arms trade" – UN

Libya has been named as the primary source
of the illegal weapons trade, fueling conflicts
in at least 14 countries around the world, a
final report from the UN's independent panel
 on Libya’s sanctions, announces.

In a briefing to the United Nations Security
Council (UNSC) yesterday, Libya sanctions
 committee chair, Rwandan Ambassador,
Eugene Gasana, says that the post-Gaddafi
government is struggling to secure a state
 in which a number of armed tribal militias
do not accept Tripoli’s authority.

“The panel noted that the control of non-state
armed actors over the majority of stockpiles
in Libya as well as ineffective border control
 systems, remain the primary obstacles to
countering proliferation and that Libya has
become a primary source of illicit weapons,
including MANPADs [portable air defense
systems],” Gasana stated, reports Reuters.

Unable to secure its borders, Libya has let
 weapons fall into the hands of violent radical
elements on several continents, Gasana said.

“Arms transfers to over 14 countries reflect a
highly diversified range of trafficking dynamics;
 and trafficking from Libya is now fueling conflict
 and insecurity, including terrorism, on several
 continents,” he said.

As of now, three ports in the country...
under the full control of armed rebels.

 A "special force" has been ordered by
 Libya’s parliament to be sent next week
to “liberate” all rebel-held ports, which
 are crucial to sustaining Libya's oil-rich
export economy that is struggling to
 survive after the NATO invasion and
forced regime change.

A UN arms embargo was enacted on Libya
at the start of the unrest which eventually
 ousted former leader Muammar Gaddafi.

Last year, non-lethal equipment was allowed
 to enter Libya when the UNSC eased sanctions
as the UN cautioned Tripoli against the spread
of weapons to nearby states.

The panel found a number of violations of
the arms embargo, such as “non-notified”
 transfers to government security forces,
and transfers of weapons to the private
 market, Gasana said.

The head of the UN Support Mission in Libya
 (UNSMIL) warned the 15-member body that
 Libya faces increased and unprecedented

“Libya faces the risk of embarking on a new
trajectory of unprecedented violence,” as
security and political divisions deteriorate,
Tarek Mitri told the UNSC.

Mitri pointed to the surge of attacks in Sabha
 in the south, with over 100 civilian deaths –
 including children – and the displacement of
hundreds of families, as well as shortages of
food, fuel, and medical supplies. In the east,
targeted assassinations, bombings, and now
 kidnappings around Benghazi, have reached
“intolerable” levels.

“Intense efforts to resolve differences and
negotiate an agreement on the management
 of the transitional period, including the future
of the General National Congress and the
Government, have not succeeded in bringing
 an end to the divisions that have paralyzed
 the political process,” noted Mitri.

An “alarming” rise in attacks on journalists
has also been witnessed in recent months,
Mitri told the Council, with TV stations in
Tripoli and Benghazi vandalized, and a
number of journalists abducted.


Kidnapped Syrian nuns released !!!
12 Syrian nuns kidnapped by rebel gangs
 late last year have been released, the
pan-Arab al-Mayadeen TV, reports.

Reports say the released nuns will be hosted
 in the Mariamieh Church in Damascus, where
 a celebratory religious mass is to be held.

Radical jihadist militants kidnapped the 12 nuns
 from their convent in the Christian town of Maloula,
 north of Damascus, and took them to the nearby
 town of Yabroud in December last year, where they
 were fighting hard with Syrian government troops.

Syrian forces unleashed a wide-scale offensive
over the last three weeks to recapture the key
 town, where more than 10,000 rebel fighters
 are believed to be hiding out.

As clashes flared up near Yabroud, media
 reports said communication with the nuns
had been cut off.

Major-General Abbas Ibrahim, the chief of
 Lebanon's security, who headed mediation
 efforts for the nuns' release, said a decision
 to release the nuns had been taken, but it
would take time, due to logistical snags.


Putin defends Crimean referendum legitimacy
 to EU leaders as Ukraine's southeast rallies

Crimea’s upcoming referendum will reflect the
legitimate interests of its people, President
 Vladimir Putin tells two EU leaders by phone.

 Inspired by Crimea’s actions, eastern Ukraine
 is also protesting about a coup-imposed Kiev
government which bans all pro-Russia actions.

Putin on Sunday had a top-level conversation
 with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and
UK Prime Minister David Cameron, states the
 Kremlin press service.

Russia's president “underlined in particular
 that the steps taken by Crimea’s legitimate
authorities are based on international law,
 & are aimed at guaranteeing the legitimate
 interests of the peninsula’s population,”
 the statement says.

The “lack of any action” on the part of the
current Kiev authorities with regard to ultra-
nationalists and armed radicals in Ukraine,
 has particularly been noted by Putin.



The coup-imposed Kiev government is now
 stepping up its pressure on Crimea, blocking
 the electronic system of the region’s treasury,
 freezing the autonomy’s accounts, and ramping
up border police' numbers on Crimea’s borders.

Crimean Deputy PM, Rustam Temirgaliyev,
says that Kiev’s recent moves will not affect
 state payments, including pensions, and that
Crimea's authorities are opening accounts in
 Russian banks, and ignoring the frozen ones.

Temirgaliev also tells Interfax that
the Crimean authorities anticipate
"some additional railway traffic"
 to and from Russia, to be ferried
 over the Kerch Strait.

A bridge connecting Kerch and Russia’s
Krasnodar Region, is also being built
 “at a rapid pace,” he says.

Tthe All-Crimean referendum will occur
 on March 16th.

On Sunday, thousands of demonstrators rallied
 in the eastern Ukrainian city of Lugansk, and
 occupied the regional administration building,
hoisting a Russian flag on top.

 Protesters demanded that Mikhail Bolotskikh,
 the region’s head, step down. Bolotskikh was
 appointed by the self-proclaimed Kiev regime.

Twitter users claim that Bolotskikh has already
 signed his resignation and escaped from the
 city centre in a car, via a “disgrace corridor”
 formed by the protesters.

On Sunday evening, the fugitive official said
 that he signed the document under pressure
and that he is still "carrying out his duties".

Pro-Russian demonstrators reportedly clashed
 with Euromaidan activists demonstrating near
a monument to Ukrainian poet Shevchenko,
whose 200th birthday was celebrated Sunday.

Shevchenko’s anniversary attracted rallies in
 support of Ukraine’s unity across the country.

 One of the largest demonstrations took place
 in Kharkov, where some 10,000 people met
with a huge 100-meter Ukrainian flag, and
chanted, “No to war!”

The eastern Ukrainian city, 26 kilometers
 away from the Russian border and with a
 large Russian minority, has been extremely
 divided on whether to accept the current
 Kiev regime as a legitimate power.

 On Saturday, over 10,000 pro-Russian
residents rallied to reject Kiev’s rule,
urging the formation of a southeast
 Ukraine "federation of regions".

Federation, or the Autonomous South-
Eastern Republic, should be decided
 by a popular vote as soon as possible,
 the people demanded.

While the rally itself was peaceful, it ended
with several attempts at provoking violence.

Two people were beaten and one shot by
unidentified masked people, who quickly
 left the scene by car. The radical Right
 Sector movement has denied that its
members waged the attack.

About 7,000 pro-Russian demonstrators
 in the city of Donetsk on Sunday, also
 demand the holding of a referendum on
 the status of their region.

 The people demand that the status of
the Russian language, stripped by the
coup-imposed government, is upheld,
 and that the “People’s Governor” of
Donetsk, Pavel Gubarev, is freed.

Gubarev, detained in Donetsk by Special
Security Forces, has reportedly been taken
 to Kiev charged with violating the territorial
 integrity of Ukraine, taking over power,
and seizing government buildings.

The coup-imposed Ukrainian authorities
 have also responded to the situation in
 Lugansk, by opening a criminal case,
 on similar charges.

UDAR party leader Vitaly Klitschko says
 Sunday to BBC Ukraine, that those who
demand referendums in eastern Ukraine
 are simply “citizens of another state,” for
whom Ukraine's borders “must be closed.”



Moscow is preparing a bill to freeze the
assets of European and US companies
 operating in Russia, in response to the
West's moves against Russia.

A group of Russian lawmakers, including
 Senator Andrey Klishas, chair of Russia's
 upper house committee for constitutional
law, are working on plans to respond  to
 US sanctions, as well as potential bans
 by other Western countries.

Klishas says Moscow must have
 sufficient leverage to respond to
the threats of sanctions coming
 from foreign countries.

The US has imposed visa restrictions
 and sanctions on individual Russians
and stopped all military co-operation,
including on Syrian chemical arms.

The EU has suspended visa and
investment talks and threatens
to impose sanctions.


Russian Official: Kiev should Block
 Far-right Leader’s Presidential Bid

The Kiev authorities should block the
presidential bid of the leader of Right
 Sector, Dmytro Yarosh, the Russian
 foreign ministry's rights envoy says
today (Sunday).
"The de facto authorities in Kiev and
 their Western protectors must close
 the road to power for the neo-fascist
 Yarosh and his supporters,"
Konstantin Dolgov writes on Twitter.
"The violent mayhem committed by
ultranationalists, taking advantage
of lawlessness, has completely
 discredited the Maidan movement,"
 Dolgov adds, referring to Kiev's
Independence Square protest hub.
Right Sector on Friday announced that
 Yarosh would stand in the elections on
 May 25th, and said it was ready to go to
war with Russia.

 The ultra-nationalist group was at the
 frontline of clashes with police in Kiev.

Yarosh founded it on November 13th,
 to coordinate radical forces in the Kiev
protests. Russia seeks Yarosh's arrest
 after his calls to commit extremist acts
 and "terror" in Russia.



Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov
now for the OSCE (Organization
 for Security & Cooperation in Europe)
investigation into who was behind the
 deaths of dozens of people in Kiev last
month in attacks by snipers, to begin,
and says the truth can no longer be
covered up.

Lavrov's comments come after Estonia's
top diplomat told EU foreign policy chief
Catherine Ashton in a 'phone call leaked
 this week, that the then-opposition to
president Viktor Yanukovych, may
have been involved in the attacks.

"The latest information about the so-called
snipers case can no longer be covered up,"
Lavrov tells a news conference in Moscow
 with his Tajik counterpart.

"We have proposed that the OSCE (Organisation
 for Security and Cooperation in Europe) takes up
an objective investigation of this, and we will
ensure that there is justice.

"There have been too many lies, and this lie
 has been used too long to push European
public opinion in the wrong direction,
contrary to the objective facts."

The European Union also wants a probe
 into reports about the killing of people by
snipers in Kiev, EU foreign affairs chief
Catherine Ashton's press secretary,
 Maja Kocijancic, says.

An investigation must be conducted into
 the violence and murders and those guilty
 must be brought to justice, she says, in
 reply to a question from a reporter about
 the EU's attitude to the fact that snipers
 who killed people on Independence
 Square, could have been hired by
 the Western-backed opposition.



Ukraine’s new government is under the
 influence of radical nationalists, says
 Russia’s Foreign Minister, who believes
his foreign counterparts are well aware
of this, but unwilling to acknowledge it.

“The so-called interim government is not
self-sufficient and, to our great regret,
 depends upon radical nationalists, who
 carried out the military coup,” Sergey
 Lavrov says Saturday, when asked if
Russia is ready to have direct talks
 with the present Kiev government.

At the press conference, Lavrov
 gives an example of how the Right
Sector now controls decision-making.

“The new government’s officials asked
 Right Sector to approve their choice of
ministers, and the Right Sector wasn't
satisfied. Its leaders said a reloading of
the government system in Ukraine has
 not been completed.
"They demand now that each minister
must go to the Maidan protesters to
 report on how well they implement
 the demands of the protest leaders.”

Sergey Lavrov says that Right Sector, which
has allegedly demanded access to Ukraine's
arsenals, now has security in Kiev totally
under its control.

The capital of Ukraine has not been safe since
 ousted President Viktor Yanukovich removed
all the police from the streets in compliance
with the February-21 agreement.

"Actually there’s no state control over public order
 and the so-called Right Sector calls the tune - the
group that has resorted to terror and intimidation,

Lavrov says.

Lavrov believes the West is well aware
 of the role Right Sector is playing in
 post-coup Ukraine.

“Our western partners, it seems to me, are
quite well informed of what they represent,
 because they are frequent quests there,
and, among themselves, they are sharing
 extremely alarming impressions. But, I
guess for political reasons, they are
 trying to conceal the facts in public.”

John Laughland, of the Paris-based
Institute of Democracy and Cooperation,
 warns of the dangers of underestimating
 the nationalist forces in Ukraine:

“Western media call far-right groups a
but it’s a decisive minority.” 

“It's been clear for some time, that men
of violence exercise decisive influence.

 "In 2012, EU's parliament condemned
 Svoboda - and now its members are
in the government.

 "Europe is looking the other way. Double
 standards - the whole point is to bounce
 Ukraine into the western camp.”



The leader of Ukraine's Right Sector, Dmitry
 Yarosh, has reportedly demanded that the
Kiev authorities open military arsenals for
the group’s fighters, ITAR-TASS cites an
 anonymous source in Ukraine’s military
department, as saying.

The source also quotes Yarosh as saying
that the “conservative approach” of the
security agencies’ chiefs is failing to let
 order be restored through stopping anti-
Maidan rallies in eastern and southern
 regions of Ukraine.

In an ultimatum, Yarosh demands that the
 government now gives access to his group
to weapons and military equipment, and to
 army training centres, “for quality training
 for Right Sector fighters.”

“Yarosh doesn’t rule out more decisive
action on Ukraine, if the government
doesn’t comply with these demands,”
the source indicates to ITAR-TASS.

Yarosh also plans to stand as president,
states the head of his movement in Kiev.

The Right Sector, an amalgamation of several
 far-right groups, was formed in November 2013.

Members were active in the violence which
drove President Viktor Yanukovich from Kiev.

After the February 21 agreement between
Yanukovich & the opposition was signed,
the Right Sector said they did not accept
 it and would continue the armed struggle.

Its violent acts are well-documented on YouTube.
The fighters used clubs, petrol bombs and firearms
against the Ukrainian police. Even after the coup,
 some members continue to use rifles and pistols.

On Wednesday, a proposal was submitted to
 the Ukrainian parliament, that Right Sector
 be established as "a regular armed unit".

 Coup-appointed PM Arseny Yatsenyuk
dismissed 3 deputy defense ministers
 over their refusal to support the proposal.

Russia has put Yarosh on an international
wanted list for inciting terrorism, after he
urged Mr Doku Umarov, one of the most-
wanted terrorists in the world, to attack
 Russia, over the Ukrainian conflict.



Ukraine has missed its payment deadline
 for gas supplies. As its debt is increasing,
 Gazprom does not rule out it may cut gas
 supplies to the country, the Russian
 energy giant’s head Aleksey Miller says.

“Today, March 7th, is the deadline for making
 a payment for February's gas supplies to
 Ukraine,” Miller tells journalists on Friday,
adding that Gazprom has not received any
payment on account.

“Given the discount for the first quarter, the
 outstanding debt has increased to $1.89
 billion,” Miller adds.

“Factually it means that Ukraine has
stopped paying for gas. This contravenes
 the contract terms and international trade
 practice. But we can’t deliver gas for free”.

If Ukraine doesn’t pay its bills it risks
plunging into a crisis similar to the one
 in 2009, Miller warns.

During the transit crisis five years ago,
 supplies of Russian gas to Europe were
cut off for 20 days because of tension
between Russia and Ukraine.

Earlier this week President Putin said
that, starting from April 1st, Gazprom
 will no longer offer Ukraine the lower
price agreed in December.

The aid package to Kiev included $15 billion
 in bonds purchases, and a 33 percent gas
 discount, that reduced the price to $268.50
 per 1,000 cubic meters - down from $400.

Currently Ukraine buys more than 50%
 of its gas from Russia, but aims to be
 energy independent by 2020.

 Before protests kicked off in Ukraine,
 the country signed a $10 billion shale
gas exploration deal with Chevron.


Dozens of Israeli settlers have stormed the
 compound of al-Aqsa Mosque in al-Quds
 (Jerusalem) under armed forces' protection.

According to witnesses, the Israeli settlers,
 backed by the regime's troops, once again
 raided the al-Aqsa Mosque in groups.

In recent months, Israeli forces and settlers
 have stepped up their attacks on the mosque.
This has led to violent confrontations between
 the two sides.

Israel has also imposed severe restrictions to
 stop Muslim worshippers entering the mosque.



The Israeli regime has reportedly cut off the
 water supply to some 45,000 Palestinians
 residing in the areas around East al-Quds
 (Jerusalem), local sources say.

Residents of Shuafat refugee camp said on
Wednesday that their water had been cut off
 for nearly three days, while a number of other
 Palestinian suburbs near al-Quds had also
been without water for 20 days.

According to the residents, the Israeli water
authority started to gradually reduce water
 supplies about two weeks ago and now it
 has completely stopped.

However, the Israeli water company, Gihon,
 is denying any water shut-off to Arab areas.



US Secretary of State John Kerry interfered
to provoke high tension again on Thursday,
 insisting that Ukraine's territorial integrity
 must be upheld, and then adding that the
coup government in Kiev should decide
now, on the future of Crimea.

"Crimea is part of the Ukraine. Crimea is Ukraine
(sic). We support the territorial integrity of Ukraine,
 & the government of Ukraine needs to be involved
 in any decision" on whether the peninsula would
break away, he says.

"It's my understanding that the constitution of
 Ukraine requires an all-Ukraine referendum.
 Every part of Ukraine, all Ukrainians, would
 have to be part of a referendum," he says.

In Washington, US President Barack Obama
proves that a black president can be just as
twisted in the service of US power as Bush,
by claiming that holding a Crimea referendum
 “would violate the Ukrainian Constitution,
 and violate international law.”

“Any discussion about the future of Ukraine must
 include the legitimate government of Ukraine,”
 Obama echoes on Thursday. “In 2014, we're well
 beyond the days when borders can be redrawn
over the heads of democratic leaders.”
(Such as in Kosovo?)

Earlier Thursday, the US leader ordered sanctions
 on individuals he claims were involved in "Russia's
 military intervention" in Ukraine, imposing travel
bans and illegally freezing (stealing) their assets.

Washington is also suspending military ties
 with Russia: including joint maneuvers, port
 visits and planning meetings over the crisis.

Tensions between Washington and Moscow
 escalated after Mr Obama's administration
 accused the Kremlin of planning a "military
 intervention" in Ukraine.

With no proof, wisdom or understanding.
Just like mad neocon AIPAC-crazed Bush.


Russia: Ukraine's NATO
 membership impossible
Moscow categorically rules out any
 possibility of Ukraine joining NATO, a
senior Russian diplomat says Thursday.

"It won't happen under any circumstances.
 It is impossible," Russian Deputy Foreign
Minister Vasily Nebenzya tells reporters.

He stresses that both Russia and NATO
understand very well the consequences
of Ukraine becoming a member of the
Euro-Atlantic defence alliance.

"I cannot imagine Ukraine's participation in
NATO - not now, or in the future," he says.

Wednesday, Ukrainian lawmakers introduced
 a bill to cancel Ukraine's nonaligned status
 and allow it to join military alliances. The
bill could be voted on early next week.

NATO is beefing up air-strike patrols in
Poland & other Baltic states, & cutting
cooperation with Russia to pressure it
into backing down on Ukraine.

NATO announced Wednesday, it has
 suspended plans for the first NATO-
Russia joint naval mission to escort
Syria's chemical weaponsshipments.

The empire didn't like Russia winning
over Syria, did it?


Lawmakers of Ukraine’s autonomous Crimea
region have asked Russia to let the region
 join the Russian Federation.

The 100-member Crimean Supreme Council
on Thursday voted unanimously in favor of
the Autonomous Republic of Crimea joining
 Russia and becoming part of it.

The Crimean Parliament states that
 if Russia responds to their request
 positively, Crimean citizens could
 give their view in a referendum
on March 16th.

“The referendum will take place on March
 16th," says the autonomous region’s First
 Deputy Premier, Rustam Temirgaliev,
reports ITAR-TASS news agency.

According to Temirgaliev, Crimean citizens
 should answer two questions in the ballot.

“The first one: Are you in favor of Crimea
becoming a constituent territory of the
Russian Federation.? The second one:
 Are you in favor of restoring Crimea’s
1992 constitution?”, he says.

Under current Ukrainian law, the Crimean
 parliament enjoys a degree of autonomy.
It voted 78-0 with eight abstentions in favor
 of holding the referendum and joining Russia.

The Russian government hasn't commented
but says President Vladimir Putin has been
 informed of the Crimea parliament's request.

In Moscow, a prominent member of the
Russian parliament, Sergei Mironov, says
 he has tabled a bill to ease the procedure
 for Crimea to join Russia and that it could
be put to a vote as early as next week.

An opinion poll carried out in Russia over the
weekend, shows that most Russians express
 commitment towards the people of Crimea,
and believe the Kremlin should make greater
efforts to defend the interests of ethnic
 Russians in that region.



 Russia’s envoy to NATO criticizes its
full review of any military cooperation
with Moscow over Ukraine.

Alexander Grushko says NATO is applying
double standards to Russia, by trying to
 press Moscow to back down on Ukraine.

"This meeting proves that NATO still has
 a double standard policy & that Cold War
 stereotypes are still being used towards
 Russia," Grushko tells reporters, after a
 meeting of NATO and Russian officials
 to discuss tensions in Ukraine.

Unelected NATO Sec General Anders Fogh
 Rasmussen, has announced a review of the
“entire range” of military cooperation with
 the Russian Federation.

The NATO chief also adds that the US-led
western military alliance will intensify its
partnership with Ukraine, by helping to
 boost Ukraine's army... !

US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel says
 Washington is boosting military cooperation
with Poland & the Baltic states also, to show
 "solidarity with allies" in the Ukraine crisis.

"The Defense Department is pursuing measures
 to support our allies," Hagel tells the Senate
Armed Services Committee.


Isolating Moscow - ‘most stupid decision
 one could come up with - German media.

“The West should not break off contacts and
 should use every opportunity diplomacy
 offers”, Esslinger Zeitung says.

As for the situation in Ukraine, “there is hope
 in Putin’s de-escalating tones”, Germany's
Ludwigsburger Kreiszeitung says about the
 Russian president’s latest news conference.

 “He wants a new order to be established
 in Ukraine, with people having nothing
 in common with the old corrupt class.”

“Putin has even expressed sympathy for
some demonstrators & is highly skeptical
 of a new political future for ex-President
Yanukovych,” the daily newspaper says.

“Raising the issue of Russia’s legitimacy to
 interfere in such a way in the neighboring
countries’ internal problems, will hardly
 produce results.”

“What is more important is the fact that Russia
 wants to be entitled to vote on the future of
Ukraine, ie, to have a deciding vote,” it adds.

Nuernberger Nachrichten says that “the
 conflict around Ukraine hasn't escalated
 yet” and that the Russian President has
“indicated he is prepared to negotiate”.

“This should be the top-priority target of all
 diplomatic efforts - to figure out together
with the Kremlin’s chief, what the future of
Crimea and Ukraine may look like,” it says.

“Before these talks are held, it will be rather
 counterproductive to keep irritating Russia
with some questionable sanctions, as Putin’s
answer would be clear - he, also, can apply
 economic sanctions, by shutting off gas,
 for example.”

The daily suggests “resuming contacts” and
 “at least trying to understand Russia,” which
 could facilitate a resolution of the crisis.

“The West should not break off contacts and
should use every opportunity diplomacy
offers”, Esslinger Zeitung says, adding that
Russia “should not - even for a moment -
 regard this as a sign of weakness”.

“Russia has its own interests, as well as
 the West having its own ones,” General-
Anzeiger says. “No one will be able to
 get ahead, while threatening.”

“The EU, that is to a great extent in a state of
unconsciousness, has already experienced
this in quite another sphere - in espionage,
 by the US National Security Agency (NSA)”,
 the newspaper says.

 “All the threats, complaints & refutations
 do not help. The only thing that helps is
 analyzing others’ interests in a way that
 both sides are able to ensure a balance
of interests.”

“Barack Obama’s big idea to isolate Moscow
 is the most stupid decision one could come
 up with in this situation,” Freie Presse says.

“It is to be hoped that the federal government
will adhere to another opinion.”

“Berlin has theorized much on its new role in
foreign policy. It's time to play this role now,”
 the daily says.

 “It is in our interests to maintain contacts
 with Russia. Only in such a manner can we
 act constructively & avoid mutual threats,
 before someone loses their nerve.”


Russia: Sanctions Would Lead to
 a Crash of US Financial System.

You won't read this in the Western media,
but Russia warned (on Tuesday), that US
 sanctions against Moscow on the current
 crisis in Ukraine, would end in a crash
 for the entire US financial system.

Kremlin economic aide Sergei Glazyev said
 that Russia could reduce to zero its economic
 dependency on the US, if sanctions occurred.

“We would find a way, not just to reduce our
 dependence on the United States to zero, but
 to emerge from those sanctions with great
benefit to ourselves,” he told RIA Novosti.

The Russian official said Moscow could stop
 using dollars for international transactions
 and create its own payment system using
 its "wonderful trade and economic relations
 with our partners in the East and South."

Russian firms & banks would also not return
 loans from US financial institutions, he said.

"Any attempt to announce sanctions, would
end in a crash for the financial system of
the United States, which would cause the
 end of the domination of the United States
 in the global financial system," he stated.

He added that economic sanctions imposed
 by the EU would be "catastrophic" for Europe,
 saying that Russia could halt all gas supplies,
 "which would be beneficial for the Americans"
 and give Russia's economy a useful "boost".


Kiev snipers hired by Maidan leaders -
 leaked EU's Ashton phone tape

The snipers who shot at both protesters and
police in Kiev were hired by Maidan leaders,
according to a leaked 'phone conversation
 between EU foreign affairs chief Catherine
 Ashton & Estonia's foreign affairs minister,
which has gone viral online.

“There is now stronger and stronger understanding
 that behind the snipers, it was not Yanukovich, but
it was somebody from the new coalition,” Paet
says during the conversation.

“I think we do want to investigate. I mean, I didn’t pick
 that up, that’s interesting. Gosh,” Ashton answers.

The call took place after Estonia’s Foreign Minister
 Urmas Paet visited Kiev on February 25th, at the
peak of clashes between pro-EU protesters and
security forces.

Paet also recalls his conversation with a doctor
who treated those shot by snipers in Kiev. She
says protesters and police were shot at by the
same people.

“And second, what was quite disturbing, this same
Olga [Bogomolets] also says that all the evidence
 shows that people were killed by snipers from both
 sides, policemen and then people from the streets,
that it was the same snipers killing people from
 both sides,” the Estonian FM stresses on tape.

Ashton reacts to that by saying: “Well, yeah…
that’s, that’s terrible.”

“She then showed me some photos. She said that
 as a medical doctor she can say that it is the same
 handwriting, the same type of bullets, and it’s really
 disturbing that now the new coalition, don’t want to
 investigate what exactly happened,” Paet says.

The file was reportedly uploaded to the web by
 officers of the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU)
 loyal to ousted President Viktor Yanukovich,
who hacked Paet’s and Ashton’s phones.

94 people were killed and another 900 injured
 in the standoff between police and protesters
at Maidan Square in Kiev last month.


Int'l community calls for unity,
 peaceful solution to Ukraine crisis
says China's Xinhua news agency

The international community calls for unity
 and a peaceful solution to the Ukraine crisis
 amid simmering tensions in Crimea, says
a lead article in Xinhua.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stresses
 the need to urgently de-escalate the current
 tension in Ukraine and facilitate dialogue for
 a peaceful resolution, it reports.

Both Ban and the German Foreign Minister, Frank-
Walter Steinmeier, agree all diplomatic channels
 must be explored more actively, as the situation
in Ukraine remains volatile.

UN Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson also
stresses the crucial need for a diplomatic
solution to the crisis.

All wish for Ukraine's territorial integrity to be
respected and preserved.

In response to escalating tensions in Crimea,
 Russian President Vladimir Putin says that
only the Crimeans themselves can decide
their own future, and Russia will provide
the Crimean authorities with financial aid.

Asked by reporters whether he is concerned
about the fact that sending Russian troops
to Ukraine might trigger a war, Putin says
 Moscow will not go to war with the
Ukrainian people.

"We have no enemies there. Ukraine is a
friendly country, including those from
 western Ukraine. They are all brothers
of ours," he says.

"If we see that lawlessness starts in eastern
 regions, we reserve the right to use all means
to protect these people," Putin says, stressing
that it would be a last resort.

He accuses Western countries of turning the
 political life of Ukraine into farce. "Western
 instructors did their job well. We saw well-
trained armed groups there (in Kiev). Every-
thing was well organized," he says.

In a phone talk with Putin, China's President
 Xi Jinping calls the situation in Ukraine highly
 complicated and sensitive, and adds that
 Beijing believes Moscow can coordinate with
other parties to push for a political settlement
 of the issue, so as to safeguard regional peace
and world peace and stability.

China supports the proposals and mediation
 efforts of the international community that are
conducive to the reduction of tension, Xi adds.

Western countries also express their support
 for all constructive efforts to reach a peaceful
solution to the current Ukraine crisis.

NATO says it welcomes the ongoing efforts
 undertaken by the UN and the EU, and will
 continue to consult with Ukraine within the
 NATO-Ukraine Commission.

US President Barack Obama and German
Chancellor Angela Merkel  both agree on
 de-escalating the situation in Ukraine,
and have discussed potential solutions
to the crisis in a 'phone conversation,
Xinhua reports/suggests.

Obama says there is room for Ukraine to
 be a friend with both the West and Russia.

French President Francois Hollande says
 his country and its European partners will
 "apply all necessary pressure, including
sanctions" to seek a political solution to
the Ukraine crisis.

In order to de-escalate tensions between Russia
 and Ukraine, members of the Ukrainian cabinet
 have started consultations with their Russian
 counterparts, Ukraine's temporary Prime
Minister, Yatsenyuk says.

"Consultations on a ministerial level between
 Ukraine and Russia have started. 'Though the
 negotiation process runs quite sluggishly,
the first steps have been taken," Yatsenyuk
tells a press conference.

Russian President Vladimir Putin calls events
 in Ukraine a coup, and argues that the use of
force is Russia's last resort in solving the
ongoing crisis.


The self-proclaimed acting PM of Ukraine,
Arseniy Yatsenyuk, says he has already
committed Ukraine to all IMF demands.

 At a meeting with representatives of the
European Business Society, Yatsenyuk
 tells his audience that, on Sunday, he
 promised the IMF Managing Director
Christine Lagarde, by telephone.

"I can assure you that this government
 will meet all IMF terms, Yatsenyuk told
the meeting, reports Segodnya journal.

He refused to give more details, saying
that an IMF delegation is scheduled to
 arrive in Kiev tomorrow.

A 15-billion USD IMF rescue package
is expected by Ukraine.



Russian authorities have received an appeal
 from Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich,
  with a request to use the Russian Federation
 armed forces, to restore constitutional rule,
the RF's Permanent Representative to the
 UN, Vitaly Churkin, says at an open meeting
 of the UN Security Council, on Monday.

“The Russian president has received the
 following appeal from Ukrainian President
Viktor Yanukovich,” he said, quoting a letter
 in which the Ukrainian leader states that
“events in the Maidan, the illegal seizure
of power in Kiev, have put Ukraine on the
threshold of a civil war.”

 “In this connection I turn to Russian President
 Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin, with a request
 to use the armed forces of the Russian
Federation in the restoration of the rule of
law, peace, law and order, stability and for
 the protection of the population of Ukraine,”
Churkin read from the letter, dated March 1st.

He showed UN Security Council members a
photocopy of Yanukovich’s original appeal.

He says Russia’s actions in Ukraine, are
“fully adequate and legitimate".



Early reports Wednesday said Moscow had
put an ultimatum to the crews of 2 Ukrainian
warships to surrender immediately and that
four Russian ships had "surrounded" the
Ukrainian ships in Sevastopol’s harbour.

A representative of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet
says now that those claims were unfounded.

“We've become accustomed to daily accusations
by the Ukrainian media of carrying out some sort
of military act against our Ukrainian colleagues.
Those who want to pit us against each other in
the Crimea, won’t succeed.”

Russia's Black Sea Fleet also says it has
no plans to launch an attack on Ukraine's
military units in Crimea.

According to earlier reports, Russian
 military vessels blocked the exit from
Sevastopol Bay... "for hours".


Ukrainian special forces refuse to
 fight against Ukrainians in Crimea

Ukrainian special forces yesterday refused
to obey an order from the Kiev authorities
to advance in the Crimean isthmus, on the
autonomous republic's self-defense units.

The soldiers say that they did not,
and do not, understand who to fight
on the peninsula, ITAR-TASS says,
quoting one of the commandos.

As the commando says, his comrades
have relatives in the Crimea, and he
often holidays in Evpatoria resort, so
 many simply did not understand, for
 whom and against whom, they were
to fight.

This is not the first time the Ukrainian
 military has disobeyed the Kiev regime.

 The Chief of the Naval Forces of Ukraine, 
Berezovsky, has sworn loyalty to Crimea.



"Fatherland" lawmaker Gennady Moskal
 to an
RBC-Ukraine reporter Wednesday:

"More and more units are arriving in Kiev.
They are looting, stealing cars from the
residence of Yanukovich, destroying
 property and breaking into apartments.

 "I do not support these people and do
not treat them with respect, but we
should not turn Maidan into a gang,
steal art and alcohol, or shoot."

"How can one unit have 10 machine
guns and 20 shotguns?" he asks.
Can recent decisions by the Verkhovna Rada,
 be considered legitimate, if the government
 is "protected" by Maidan "self-defense" units?

Residents of the government quarter, and
and Communist representatives,
are all hostages of the armed units.

 Rada meetings are broadcast and displayed
on a large screen, and exits from parliament
 are "guarded" by Maidan self-defense units.

The opposition trinity (Yatsenuk - Klitschko
 - Tyahnibok) are also held hostage by them,
 not to mention the completely defenseless
 civilian population.


China urges political solution
A Chinese spokesperson urges all sides
in the Ukraine crisis
to follow international
and to seek a political solution to their
disputes through
dialogue and negotiations.

"China is deeply concerned with the
current Ukraine situation," Qin Gang,
 Foreign Ministry spokesperson says.

Condemning the recent violence in
 Ukraine, Qin says China urges all
 parties in Ukraine to address their
domestic disputes peacefully and
 lawfully, safeguarding the rights of
 Ukrainian people of all ethnicities,
and quickly restoring social order.

Qin says China always sticks to the
principle of non-interference in any
country's internal affairs & respects
 the independence, sovereignty and
 territorial integrity of Ukraine.

"There have been reasons for today's
 situation in Ukraine," the Ministry
spokesperson adds obliquely.

China will closely watch the development
of the situation in Ukraine, and calls on all
relevant sides to respect international law
 and pursue a political solution to disputes
 through dialogue and negotiations so as
to safeguard peace and stability in the
 region, Qin says.



French activists have condemned the
government ban on a planned rally
 against French colonialism and racism.

The activists were not permitted to hold
 their annual march in Paris after it was
 banned by the interior minister.

“Even with Chirac and his France-Africa summits,
 even under Sarkozy, never ever did they prevent
 people demonstrating at Republic Square.

There's a real problem for democracy with this
 government,” one of the demonstrators says.

A huge police force prevented demonstrators
from taking to the streets of the capital for
 their annual anti-colonial march.

“It’s political colonialism. They are playing
 political games. We are "independent".
But there is no real independence, because
 we cannot decide anything about our fate,
 and that means that we are still colonized,”
another protester says.

The decision to ban the event was made
 by French Interior Minister Manuel Valls.

The protesters condemn French military
intervention in Mali and the CAR and call
 on French troops to withdraw from Africa.

A female demonstrator says:

“In France, there is still a current that
never accepts
the reality;- that the
French empire doesn’t
exist anymore.

 "France remains the second maritime empire
 thanks to its colonies. What is actually
 happening in Africa is pure new colonialism.”



Ukrainian armed forces dispatched to Crimea
 have started resigning on a massive scale,
 Russian news agencies report on Sunday.

Living quarters, weapons and ammunition
 have all been left under the protection of
the so-called ‘self-defense forces.’

Letters of resignation have been coming in
 since Sunday morning, as the self-defense
 forces continue to keep order on the streets
 of Simferopol, RIA Novosti says.

Crimea’s deputy prime minister, Rustam
Temirgaliev, announces that the Ukraine
 armed forces have all but surrendered their
 military capabilities & no active units remain.

"The entire Ukrainian armed forces stationed
 on Crimean territory have been blocked – a
 number have been disarmed, while another
big portion is switching to the Crimean
side," Interfax reports him as saying.

"The self-defense forces have taken control
 of the landing strips of all Crimean airports
 and airfields," Temirgaliev adds.

The deputy PM says the region’s security
 services and emergency services now
 report to the local government, while
self-defense forces control all runways
 at Crimea’s airports and airfields.

The local government, Temirgaliev says,
promises the Tatar minority a place in
 Crimea’s Supreme Council, and adds
 that funding for resettlement programs
 and the reintegration of those deported
 during the Stalin era, will be generous.

 Crimean Tatars have been supporting
 the self-proclaimed authorities in Kiev.



The self-imposed president of Ukraine,
 Aleksandr Turchinov, will be considered
 a “war criminal” if he uses military force
 on the south-east of Ukraine's people,
Russia’s lower house Speaker, Sergey
Naryshkin, reportedly warns.

Naryshkin held a 'phone conversation with
 Aleksandr Turchinov of Batkivshchyna party,
who leads the self-proclaimed regime in Kiev.

 During the conversation, Naryshkin warned
 Turchinov repeatedly against deploying force
 against Ukrainians resisting Kiev, a source
 tells RIA Novosti.

The Ukrainian side has stated that it has
 "no plans" to use force against citizens.

Turchinov has ordered a full mobilization
 of Ukraine’s armed forces and ordered
 boosted security at nuclear power plants,
airports and other sites, citing the threat
 of “potential aggression” from Russia.

Political commentator Aleksandr Nekrasov:

“Ever since they seized power in Kiev,
I think they have got more desperate
 by the day, because they have suddenly
 realized that they are not getting the
 money they hoped to get at once,”
Nekrasov tells RT.

 “And this desperation shows in the fact
 that they have repeated all those warnings
 about Russian invasion, Russian aggression
and so on and so forth, and now we see they
are desperate enough to make provocative
statements that the danger of war is rising.”

The crisis in Ukraine escalated after a putsch
 forced President Viktor Yanukovich to leave
 the capital.

One of the first acts of the self-proclaimed
 government, abolished the use of all other
languages in official life in Ukraine.

 This sparked a wave of mass protests in
Eastern Ukraine, where a majority speak

Feeling threatened by a new government
of questionable legitimacy, a number of
regions are standing against the regime.

Thousands of people across eastern and
southern Ukraine are flooding the streets
of major cities, carrying Russian flags and
 urging local authorities to disobey Kiev.

 Local populations are calling the regime
in Kiev illegitimate, and demanding that
their officials refuse to obey it.

The City Council in the eastern city of Donetsk
is refusing to recognize Ukraine’s self-imposed
 government and has called for a referendum
 on the region’s status.

“Until all the legitimacy of the new laws
approved by Verkhovna Rada is clarified,
 the City Council takes full responsibility
for its territories,” says the Council.

Donetsk is the capital of the coal-rich
Donbass region in eastern Ukraine.

 Beside Donetsk, a major economic,
 industrial & scientific centre, Donbass
 includes the regions of Lughansk
 and Dnepropetrovsk.

The Council calls on the local parliament
to set a
referendum date immediately, to
“protect the citizens from possible violent
acts on behalf of radicalized nationalistic
forces,” the council statement says.

Members of the city council have voted
to set up their own self-defense squads.

Russian has been re-introduced as an
official language, along with Ukrainian.

The Donetsk authorities stress that they
consider Russia as their strategic partner.

Eastern Ukraine and Crimea are now seeing
massive pro-Russian demonstrations against
 the new self-proclaimed central government,
 with many government buildings topped by
 Russian flags.

Russia, too, voices doubts over the legitimacy
 of the self-proclaimed government, citing the
 procedural violations the Ukrainian parliament
 committed in ousting Yanukovich, appointing
a new cabinet & taking control of the judiciary.

 Moscow is also concerned over reports that
 some MPs were forced to change their votes
 under threats of physical violence.

Moscow on Saturday referred the issue to
 the Venice Commission of the Council of
Europe, an advisory body with expertise
in constitutional law.

 A request to monitor the legitimacy
 of actions in Kiev has also been sent
 to the Interparliamentary Assembly of
 the Commonwealth of Independent
States, which brings together MPs from
 most former republics of the Soviet Union.



Read this article to discover
what the choices are here:




Just as in Ukraine, Venezuela
faces neo-fascist violence on
the streets as opposition there
tries to ignore elected leaders.

Venezuela is calling on the new
organisations of Latin American
states to help keep the peace.



Calls in Kiev to go nuclear

Unable to resolve tensions with a
 largely pro-Russian autonomous
Crimea region, the pro-Western
self-appointed regime in Kiev is
using accusations and threats.

 Some politicians are threatening now
...to renew Ukraine’s nuclear arsenal.

An ultra-right “Svoboda” representative
in the Ukrainian parliament warns that,
 if Russia doesn’t tread carefully, it will
be dealing with a nuclear power.

"We’ll regain our status as a nuclear power
 and that’ll change the conversation. Ukraine
has all the technological means needed to
 create a nuclear arsenal – which would take
 us about 3 to 6 months,” Svoboda party MP,
Mikhail Golovko, says.

The threat to break the international
nuclear non-proliferation treaty Ukraine
 signed in 1994, is not new for Svoboda,
a driving force behind Maidan's uprising.

 Its leader, Oleg Tyagnibok, while he was
 running for the presidency in 2009, vowed
 that the country would go nuclear.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union,
former republics Ukraine, Belarus and
 Kazakhstan agreed to either dispose of
or send to Russia any nuclear arsenals
 held while they were part of the USSR.

In 1994 a trilateral agreement was signed
 by the United States, Russia and Ukraine,
 stipulating Kiev’s nuclear disarmament.

 In 1996 Ukraine officially lost its nuclear
status, and had no stockpile left at all.

But the country still draws almost half
of its energy from atomic power, and
 has Europe's largest nuclear power plant.

While the uranium Ukraine gets from Russia
 for its reactors is low-enriched, reactor waste
 is enough to make a so-called dirty bomb.

 The country possesses manpower and the
know-how to do that, as well as delivery
vehicles for a nuclear payload, which
 don’t have to be too sophisticated.

Political and economic analyst Martin
 Seiff from The Globalist news website:

“These threats are probably extreme,
 irresponsible bluff, but it’s very alarming
 to hear them being made in the first place.

 “The new government which has now
emerged in Kiev, and other figures,
 like this opposition MP, need to act
 in a responsible manner to earn the
 deserved respect, trust & cooperation
 of the international community."

"That comment is disastrously counter-
productive and should be seen as such.”

US geopolitical analyst Eric Draitser:

“The money we can’t use to feed the
poor and hungry in the US and Europe -
that money is going to support Nazis
in Ukraine with nuclear ambitions,

who are looking to destabilize the
and whose sole goal is the
destruction of Russia,” Draitser says.

So far, Washington has been hard
on those it suspects of a nuclear

 It will be curious to see how it reacts
 if the idea of restocking its nuclear
 arsenal gains popularity now in Kiev.



Russian President Vladimir Putin's
request for approval of the Upper House
 of parliament (Federation Council) to “use
 Russian Armed Forces on the territory of
Ukraine to normalize the socio-political
 situation in the country
, has been
approved Itar-Tass reports.

Ukraine’s self-appointed president, Aleksandr
 Turchinov has appointed Rear Admiral Denis
 Berezovsky as a new Navy Chief, according
 to an order published Sunday. Reportedly, the
 previous Navy commander resigned last Friday.

Ukraine's self-proclaimed president has
also signed a decree now, declaring that
 the appointment of a pro-Russia premier
 in the Crimea region, is "illegal".

Russian flags are being raised across
Eastern and Southern Ukraine.

Ukraine’s border service is taking
 “urgent steps” to prevent the “seizure”
 of its sea watch base and ships located
 in Sevastopol, Itar-Tass reports, citing
 the service’s press office.

“All the ships are going to sea ready for
 action,” it says. The alert signal came
 after several armed people were seen
 not far from the base.

Thousands of protesters in Kharkov
 against the self-proclaimed
, are beseiging regional
 governor's headquarters and some
 have broken in to raise Russia's flag.

Russia’s State Duma (parliament) Council
 says legitimate and democratic elections
 are impossible in Ukraine, now that a
significant part of the country has seen
“violence, the persecution of dissidents
 and even political parties being banned,”
 RIA Novosti reports.

“Militants who have undergone special
training, including one in camps outside
 Ukraine, and other radical forces, who
 illegitimately seized power, have been
 imposing their will on eastern and south-
eastern regions, where a large part of the
 Russian-speaking population lives, who
 do not share the views of an aggressive
 radical minority.

 The human rights of Ukrainian citizens
have been violated, including their right
to speak their native language and be
 educated in it,” the Duma Council
 statement reads.


Unknown armed men from Kiev tried to
 take Crimea's Interior Ministry overnight,
 and several were injured in the attack,
Russia’s Foreign Ministry says Sunday.

“Thanks to the decisive action of self-
defense squads, an attempt to seize the
Interior Ministry building was stopped."

 "This attempt confirms the intention of
 prominent political circles in Kiev, to
 destabilize the situation on the
peninsula,” the statement adds.

"We believe it is extremely irresponsible
 to further pressure the already tense
 situation in the Crimea," the ministry
statement says.

Earlier, Crimea's PM Sergey Aksyonov
declared that firearms have been used
 in clashes in the region, Itar-Tass
agency reports.

 Crimean leader Sergey Aksenov has
called on President Vladimir Putin to
help guarantee peace in the Crimea.

"Taking into account my responsibility
 for the life and security of citizens, I ask
 Russian President Vladimir Putin to help
ensure peace and calm on the territory
of Crimea," Aksenov stated.

Russia says it will not ignore the request:

“Russia will not leave this request
 without attention,” a source in the
Kremlin is quoted saying Sunday.

Aksenov, the Russian Unity Party leader
appointed prime minister of Crimea by
 local lawmakers, also stresses that
 powerful institutions, such as the armed
 forces, the police, the national security
 service and border guards, should answer
only to his orders and all commanders
should obey his instructions.

The new Ukrainian central government
 ordered the replacement of heads of 
Crimea's police department on Friday,
but Aksenov says this opposes an
 agreement with Crimea's parliament,
 under which the central government
has no right to appoint the directors
of Crimea's powerful agencies.


The Russian parliament is not ruling out
 ‘limited’ troops in Crimea to ensure safety

The Russian government has been very
 careful in its assessment of the new self-
 proclaimed Ukrainian government in Kiev.

Matvienko says the reason for that, was
that Russia was counting on its Western
 partners, who had vowed to guarantee
the February 21st agreement with the
Ukraine President, Viktor Yanukovich,
and the opposition.

“Russia didn't interfere in the situation
 in Ukraine for a very long time and
 showed restraint, assuming that the
Western states, who became backers
 of the agreements, would see strict
 compliance with the deal observed,”
 she says.

However, after “violent upheaval” took
 place in Ukraine, the Western states
 did not come up with “any reasonable
 measures or responses,” she says.

Russia, in contrast, for a very long time,
 has urged the situation to be resolved
by lawful means, and called for the anti-
coup sentiments in Crimea and eastern
 Ukraine to be heard, she says.


MPs of Crimea's parliament, the Supreme
 Council, tell journalists they have been
 receiving threats from anonymous calls,
reports Itar-Tass.

“Yesterday I had 70 calls from unknown
 numbers, and over 100 text messages
with threats to physically harm me and
 my family,” says the Party of Regions
 deputy, Konstantin Bakharev on Sunday.

Another MP for the party, Olga
Kovitidi, says someone phoned 
her and said she would be shot.


Ukraine's Elected President Viktor
Yanukovich pledges to fight for Ukraine.

He has addressed a press conference in
 southern Russia, appearing in public for
the first time since he fled Kiev's riots.

“No one ousted me,” Yanukovich tells
 the reporters. “I had to leave Ukraine
 because of a direct threat to my life
 and the lives of my family.”

According to Yanukovich, “nationalist
like fellows who represent an
absolute minority
of Ukrainians”
have taken power in Ukraine.

He describes the situation in Ukraine as
 “total lawlessness,” “terror” & "chaos",
 saying that politicians, including MPs,
have been threatened and are now
working under threats.

It has nothing to do with any unity
 government negotiated with the
opposition, he says.

The violence and deaths in Ukraine are
 the “result of the irresponsible politics
 of the West, which have encouraged
Maidan,” Yanukovich stresses.

US and other Western countries’
representatives “must take full
responsibility” for the fact that
 agreement between Yanukovich
and the opposition did not hold,
 the ousted president stresses.

 The West's “patronage” of Maidan
 makes them directly responsible for
 the situation in Ukraine, he claims.

The current Ukrainian parliament is
 “not legitimate,” and the people in
 power are spreading the propaganda
 of violence, Yanukovich asserts.

When asked if he feels ashamed of
 his actions, Yanukovich replies that
 he feels ashamed and sorry for “not
being able to stabilize the situation
 and stop the mayhem” in Ukraine.

“I want to apologize to the Ukrainian people
 for what has happened in Ukraine and that
 I lacked the strength to maintain stability.”

Yanukovich also apologizes to the
Ukrainian riot police, Berkut, for
having to “suffer” while doing their
 duty of maintaining peace and order.

 Police officers had to stand their ground
while rioters set them on fire with petrol
bombs, he reminds people.

Yanukovich stresses that he did not
give any order for police to shoot live
 fire until rioters started using firearms,
 putting the officers’ lives under threat.

According to Yanukovich, the early
 Ukrainian elections announced for
 May 25 are “illegitimate” and he
will not take part in them.

However, he says he will “remain
 in politics.”

Crimea must remain a part of Ukraine
 while maintaining a broad autonomy,
Yanukovich stresses.

He rules out any possibility that he will
 ask Russia for military help to resolve
 the situation there.

Yanukovich says he understands the
 concerns of Crimeans, who want to
“protect their homes and families”
 from “extremists.”

When asked why he chose to leave
 Ukraine for Rostov-on-Don, Yanukovich
 says he has “an old friend there,” who
can provide him with a “temporary
safe haven.”

Yanukovich made it to Russia thanks
“patriotically-minded officers,”
helped to “save his life.”

 He has not met Russian President
Vladimir Putin, but they've already
 talked over the 'phone.

Yanukovich answered a lot of questions
 put by reporters on Russia’s role and
possible actions in the Ukrainian crisis.

While saying “it is not correct” to tell
Moscow what to do, Yanukovich says
 he believes “Russia cannot abandon
 Ukraine to its fate and should use all
 possible means to prevent chaos and
 terror in its neighboring country.”

Yanukovich says he is “categorically
 against any intervention into Ukraine
and breach of its territorial integrity.”

There remains, however, a chance for
 the country to change its course and
not slip into chaos, Yanukovich says.

He says he will return to Ukraine as soon
 as he has “international safety guarantees.”

The ousted president refused to comment
 on the coup parliament’s intention to try
 him in the International Criminal Court,
 saying that an independent investigation
 has to be carried out first.

However, he stresses that “the scenario
 of bloodshed, was not drafted in Ukraine.”

“The truth will prevail,” Yanukovich says in
 an emotional conclusion to his comments
 to journalists, urging the politicians who
 have seized power in Kiev to “leave” for
 the sake of the Ukrainian people.


Ukrainian PM Praises IMF,
and Threatens Crimea.

The temporary Prime Minister of Ukraine,
Arseni Yatseniuk, says that a financial
improvement in Ukraine "is coming", thanks
 to the International Monetary Fund and then
threatens Crimea over its autonomy claims.

Appointed in a unicameral Parliament guarded
 by ultra-nationalists who seized it by force to
 topple President Viktor Yanokovich, Yatseniuk
admits that his Cabinet will be unpopular, as
 it implements the cuts demanded by the IMF.

These include a 40% increase in gas prices,
ending support to farmers, a devaluation of
 the national currency, the hrivnya, and other
social cuts, as condemned in November by
 the elected PM, Nikholai Azarov, who left
office recently, after threats to his family.

However, his replacement insists that the
 country's financial situation, which he says
is "on the brink of bankruptcy", will be fine
 "when the IMF money comes."

On the call to hold a referendum on greater
autonomy by the autonomous Parliament
 of Crimea, the leader of the anti-government
 subversion in Kiev quotes current legislation.

"Ukraine will use all legal and constitutional
 methods to preserve the State's territorial
 integrity", he warns the Russian speaking
population, who don't recognize the regime
 imposed in Kiev after its lack of compliance
 with the truce agreements of Feb. 21st.

Yatseniuk, leader of the Bratkivschina party,
 flatly says that Crimea was, is and will be,
 part of Ukraine.

 He urges Russia not to support those people
 he describes as separatists, or the toppled
 Yanukovich and other high ranking officials
 of his administration, against whom the
Ukrainian Attorney General's Office has
opened criminal processes and now
them as wanted people.

Volunteer Guards in Crimea have
secured two airports against any
attack by neo-nazis or nationalists.


“According to the underlying principles of
democracy, the presidium of the Crimean
 parliament considers the only possible
 way out of the situation on the ground,
is to apply the principles of direct rule
of the people."
"We are confident that only by holding
an All-Crimea referendum on the issue
 of improving the status of Autonomy
and expanding its powers, Crimeans
will be able to determine the future of
the Autonomy on their own and without
external pressure,” Oksana Korniychuk,
press secretary of the head of parliament
 says in a statement last Thursday.

As a result of “the unconstitutional seizure
 of power in Ukraine by radical nationalists
 supported by armed gangs,” Crimea’s peace
 and order is “under threat,” the spokes-
person stresses.

Wednesday's clashes near parliament
 in Simferopol, which led to two deaths
and about 30 injuries were
“a result
 of rampant political extremism and
violence gripping the country,” which
 could bring Ukraine to “complete chaos,
 anarchy and economic catastrophe,”
 she said.

The Autonomy’s parliament thus takes
 “full responsibility for the future of
Crimea,” relying on the will of its
 people, she says.

 The group of people barricaded inside
the building of the Crimean parliament
allowed MPs to enter, including the
speaker of the parliament, Vladimir
Konstantinov. The MPs have now
held their session, as planned.

Ethnic Crimean Tatars clashed near
 parliament last Wednesday to stop
it taking a vote.

Crimea’s Russian majority has been
 hoping to hold a regional referendum
 ever since 1991, when it was refused
 the right to take such a step.

Before the Soviet Union eventually split,
 93.26% of Crimeans voted in favour of
 establishing a ‘Crimean Autonomous
Soviet Socialist Republic’.

The people, however, were never allowed
to decide which country the autonomous
 region should be with: Ukraine or Russia.



Armed men have occupied the regional
 government buildings AND parliament,
 of Ukraine’s Crimea territory & Russian
armed forces are on high alert.

Dozens of gunmen seized the buildings
in Simferopol, the Autonomous Republic’s
 administrative centre last Thursday, and
flew Russian flags over a government HQ.

The buildings’ guards were also reportedly
 removed from the premises peacefully.

Crimean PM Anatoliy Mohilyov,
confirmed that up to 50 men with
weapons occupied government
buildings early last Thursday.

Seizure of the headquarters came
one day after clashes between pro-
Russian demonstrators & backers of
Ukraine's new regime in Simferopol,
when a man died of a heart attack
 and dozens were injured outside the
Crimean Parliament the day before.



The unelected "leaders" of the EU,
the Commission, may be 100% for
the coup leaders' acts, but not the
European Parliament, which calls
on Ukraine’s interim government
 to protect the Russian-speakers'
 right to use their language.

“All Ukrainian and international, political
 forces must work together to ensure a
united Ukraine, taking into account
 linguistic, cultural & historical factors,”
 says the parliamentary statement.

Viktor Yanukovich still considers himself
 the legitimate leader of Ukraine & warns
 against internal military conflict.

 He has asked Russia to ensure his safety
 against the actions of the extremists
who have taken power in Ukraine.


Russia's top diplomat, Lavrov, urges
 the OSCE to condemn the "nationalist
 and neo-fascist" sentiment in the
Western part of Ukraine.

“Lavrov calls on the OSCE to condemn
 calls to ban the Russian language,
to turn the Russian-speaking population
into 'non-citizens' and to restrict freedom
 of expression," the statement adds.

The Russian foreign ministry also announces
 that Moscow will give a tough response to
 any country's violation of its citizens’ rights.

Moscow warns of calls to “nearly ban”
the Russian language, eliminate parties
and organizations, close media outlets,
 and lift curbs on neo-Nazi propaganda,
 saying such moves pose a threat to
peace and society's security.

China's People's Daily says that
 the West is locked into a cold war
mentality that supports any enemy
 of "unco-operative" states.


Scuffles as pro- and anti-Russian crowds
 protest in Ukraine's Crimea

Thousands of pro and anti-Russian rival
demonstrators rallied in front of the Crimea
parliament building in Simferpol, capital
of Ukraine's autonomous Crimea region,
  last Thursday. Scuffles sometimes broke
out between the
face-to-face sides.

The rival groups were protesting for and
against new national authorities in Kiev.

 Some proclaimed that Crimea will not obey
Kiev, while the local Muslim community
 of Crimean Tatars expressed support for
the new Ukrainian authorities.

Two separate rallies, consisting of several
thousands of protesters, faced each other.

 Russians shouted “Russia-Russia!” and
“Berkut!”, the name of the special police task
 force disbanded on Tuesday by the Ukrainian
authorities now in control of Kiev, who blame
 them for their "heavy-handed" policing of
activists in central Kiev.

The Muslim community protesters shouted
 “Ukraine-Ukraine!” & “Crimea is not Russia!”

 Pro-Russian demonstrators held Russian
flags, while Tatars held Ukrainian flags
  & flags of their nationalist organizations.

Video footage from the scene appeared
to show both sides preparing for a clash.

The police officers who temporarily left
the scene, later returned to the square
and attempted to separate the sides.

The police were unarmed except for
rubber batons.

The Tatar community has spoken out sharply
 against holding a parliamentary session on
changing Crimea's status.

Russians rallying demand that the Crimea
 autonomous region declare independence
 and ask for assistance from Russia.

The Tatars of the Crimea peninsula, united
by their national party Mejlis of the Crimean
 Tatar People, together with local supporters
 of the new Ukrainian authorities, declare
 that they "will not allow" the autonomous
region to break away.

“We warn them not to arrange a session.
 'Do not explode the situation in Crimea.'
 We know they need that session to tear
Crimea away from Ukraine,” said leader
 of the Mejlis party, Refat Chubarov.

 “We warn that Crimea Tatars will not allow
 this to happen. Tatars will not allow the
fate of this land to be decided without them.”

The protesters demand a public referendum
 to decide whether Crimea should retain
 its current status as an autonomous region
 in Ukraine, or become independent, or be
 part of Russia again (Crimea was part of
 Russia until 1954).

Demonstrators from Russian-dominated
Sevastopol, the largest city in Crimea,
 are still arriving at the region’s capital
Simferopol, in the centre of the Crimea
peninsula, to support
the thousands of
Russian nationals
rallying against the
authorities in Kiev.

Crimeans started protesting last week
outside the regional parliament building
 in Simferopol, urging local MPs not to
support Kiev’s new government.

 Demonstrators want the autonomous region
 to return to the constitution of 1992, under
 which Crimea had its own president and
 independent foreign policy.

In the meantime, vigilante groups are being
 formed in Crimea’s largest city of Sevastopol.

 About 3,500 people have already joined the
groups, their leader Yury Pankov tells
 Itar-Tass news agency.

The vigilantes plan to patrol the streets
 along with police to prevent violence.

“In fact, we are creating classical Voluntary
 People's Guards,” Pankov says.

The authorities in Sevastopol have refused
 to comply with an order by the new interior
 minister, Arsen Avakov, to disband a
detachment of the Berkut special police
 task force.

The Berkut task force, abolished nationwide
this week by the new Ukrainian authorities,
 was formed 20 years ago, and consisted
of 4,000 officers throughout Ukraine.

 The head of the city government, Aleksey
Chaly, has called for all Berkut officers to
come & live in Sevastopol with their families.



Luxembourg’s general pension fund has
 decided to boycott major Israeli banks
 in response to Tel Aviv’s contravention
of international law and its violation of
 human rights.

Reports say the fund has announced that
it will boycott five major Israeli banks and
 a number of Israeli investment companies
 over their involvement in settlement
construction plans.

The fund also says that these banks and
 organizations are being banned because
 they support and finance Tel Aviv’s illegal
 constructions on Palestinian land.

Israel faces a widening boycott campaign
 by some European businesses over its
illegal settlement activities on occupied
Palestinian land.

 Europe’s 2 biggest financial institutions
 have boycotted transactions with Israeli
 companies involved in settlement building.

The European Union has also blocked all
grants and funding to any Israeli entity
 based in the illegal settlements.

The American Studies Association has
also announced a decision to boycott
Israeli institutions and academics over
 discriminatory treatment of Palestinians.

The UN and most countries regard the
 Israeli settlements as illegal, because
 the territories were captured by Israel
 in a war in 1967, and are hence subject
 to the Geneva Conventions, which
forbid construction on occupied lands.



South Korea's president says she is
 setting up a presidential committee
 to prepare for the reunification of
 the troubled Korean Peninsula.

In a televised speech marking her first
year in office, President Park Geun-hye
announces plans to create a blue print
for reuniting South Korea with the North.

"I plan to launch a 'committee to prepare
 for reunification' under presidential
control and explore ways for a systemic
 and constructive direction of
 reunification," President Park says.

The president says the committee will
 seek ways to expand dialogue and
private-level exchanges with N. Korea.

“It is necessary to prepare for reunification
 that will open up a new era of the Korean
 Peninsula, which will lead to a genuine
 peace," she says.

Both North and South have reunification
 as a goal, but neither side has specified
 how they want it to happen.

Millions of Koreans have been separated
 since the war split the peninsula in 1953.

The South Korean President's remarks
come as South and North Korea wrap up
the first reunion of separated families in
 over three years.

Hundreds of South Koreans met with
their northern relatives during the 6-day
 family reunions at Mount Kumgang resort.

The second and last round of the meetings
 began on Sunday, the day before S. Korea
 and the US launched joint military drills.

The reunion program began after a North-
South summit in 2000, and large numbers
 of Koreans still wait to see their relatives.



Dozens of Jordanian lawmakers call on
the Amman government to revoke the
 1994 peace treaty with the Israeli regime
 in a Knesset debate on Israel's plan to
annex al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.

Last night, as many as 47 lawmakers
signed a petition, urging the government
 to freeze the 20-year-old treaty with Israel.

The al-Aqsa Mosque is Islam’s third-holiest
site after Mecca and Medina in S. Arabia.
Jordan is the custodian of the holy site.

The lawmakers also criticize the government
for failing to take a strong stand against Israel.

One of the lawmakers called for the Israeli
ambassador to be expelled from Jordan.

The call for a freeze in the so-called peace
deal, follows a similar request by Jordan’s
 opposition, the Islamic Action Front (IAF).

“We urge the government to meet the
demands of people who have repeatedly
 called for a freeze and eventually the
 peace treaty's cancellation,” says IAF.

The IAF call came after Israeli troops
 and police raided the al-Aqsa Mosque
 compound in East al-Quds (Jerusalem)
 on Tuesday, and forcefully dispersed
Palestinian worshipers and protesters.

In recent months, Israeli forces and settlers
have stepped up attacks on the mosque.
 This has led to violent confrontations.

Earlier this month, clashes erupted
between Palestinian worshippers and
 Israeli soldiers at the mosque.
 The clashes broke out when Israeli
 forces stormed the holy site during
 Friday prayers. 20 people, including
 children, were wounded in the violence.

The Palestinian Authority and Hamas
 have also warned against Israeli plans
 to impose its “sovereignty” on the
al-Aqsa Mosque.



Brazil's President says Venezuela is not
Ukraine, and the main difference is that
the whole of central and South America
understands how the rich oligarchies
use their strength to subvert the
people's will and interests.

Thousands of government supporters in Venezuela
 have taken to the streets of the capital Caracas,
 as anti-government protesters set up barricades
and start fires.

On Monday, Venezuela was once again the scene
 of rival demonstrations as opponents & supporters
of the government continued their rallies.

Bikers rode in a convoy to the presidential palace
to attend a demonstration in support of President
 Nicolas Maduro.

Addressing them, Maduro blamed the opposition
for bringing in "mercenaries" to fuel the unrest
and causing problems for the sick by setting up
 blockades, prevented them reaching hospitals.

"They have affected the health of thousands
of people in the communities they've cut off,"
 he said.

Meanwhile, in other areas of the capital, anti-
government protesters barricaded the main
roads and set fire to piles of rubbish.

The opposition says Maduro's administration
 is to blame for the country's high crime rate
 and economic hardships, claiming his polices
 have led to both shortages of essential goods
and high inflation.

Maduro, who accuses the US of backing the
 opposition in trying to topple his government,
 unveiled a new peace initiative on Saturday:

"I am calling on the Venezuelan people to
 join me on Wednesday, in a national peace
 conference with all the country's political
sectors ... so that we Venezuelans can try
 to neutralize the violent groups," he said.

He also added that US Secretary of State
 John Kerry's remarks about the use of
"unacceptable" force on protesters by
 the government, has given violent groups
 a "green light" to continue their brutal acts.

According to Maduro, the US is backing the
 unrest in a bid to launch a coup d’état.

Venezuela has witnessed nearly two weeks
 of anti-government protests that have claimed
 the lives of 13 people and injured 150 others.


  Russia says the Ukrainian parliament seeks
to pass laws that will infringe upon rights of
ethnic Russians and other ethnic minorities.

The Russian Foreign Ministry says Moscow
 is suspicious about recent decisions taken
 by Ukraine's parliament on ethnicity.

Moscow warns over calls to “nearly ban”
the Russian language, eliminate parties
 and organizations, close media outlets,
 and lift curbs on neo-Nazi propaganda,
saying such moves pose a threat to
peace and social security.

The statement also accused Ukraine’s
new leaders of launching a “dictatorial”
campaign against Russian speakers.

Mikhail Dobkin, governor of the eastern
 region that includes Kharkiv, where many
 Ukrainians speak Russian as their first
 language, also denounces the decision
to downgrade the status of Russian as
an official second language as “fascist.”

According to some sources, the head of
the Freedom Party, Oleg Tyagnibok, has
recently told his supporters in Kiev that
the use of Russian language should be
 criminalized and all ethnic Russians
should be stripped of citizenship.


Russia calls US/EU coup support
“aberration of consciousness”.

Russia questions the legitimacy of
Ukraine’s new government, saying
that the current authorities have
come to power as a result
of an "armed mutiny."

“The legitimacy of a whole number
of organs of power that function
there raises great doubts," local
news agencies quote Russian PM
Dmitry Medvedev as saying.

The Russian premier denounces the
decision by Western countries to
accept the
new Ukrainian regime as
an “aberration of consciousness”.

He also notes that Moscow is unable to
 accept the current leaders in the Eastern
European country as a partner for talks.

“If you consider Kalashnikov-toting people
 in black masks who are roaming Kiev to
 be the government, then it will be hard
for us to work with that government,”
 Medvedev adds.

He says Moscow-Kiev relations will be
resumed once Russia sees a “normal,
modern government, based on the
laws and constitution of Ukraine.”

Russia recalled its ambassador to Ukraine
 last Sunday, to discuss the "deteriorating
situation" in Kiev.

Russia’s Economy Minister warns now
  - if Kiev signs partnership agreements
 with the European Union - Moscow
 will raise import duties on goods.


Egypt's army-backed government
 has resigned, Reuters reports.

"The cabinet decided to submit its
 resignation to Adly Mansour, the
 interim president," a statement says.

 An unnamed source says the decision
 was made at a 15-minute cabinet meeting.

Army chief Field Marshal Abdel Fattah
al-Sisi, expected to run for president,
was defense minister in the cabinet.



The trial of the elected president deposed
by army coup after civilian mass protests
continues, and President Morsi is being
accused now of giving away all Egypt's
defence secrets, to Palestinians and Iran.


Ugandan President Museveni signs
 bill to stop Western paedophiles.

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni
 today signs a bill with harsh penalties
 for predatory homosexual acts, says AP.

The new law calls for first-time offenders
 to be sentenced to 14 years in jail and
 sets life imprisonment as the maximum
 penalty for a category of offenses named
 “aggravated homosexuality.”

 International rights groups condemn
 it -- but it's widely popular in Uganda.

The legislation is necessary because
“arrogant and careless Western groups”
have tried to “recruit Ugandan children
 into homosexuality", says the president.



Ukraine’s acting Interior Minister says
police have issued an arrest warrant
for the
President, Viktor Yanukovych,
accusing him of the “mass murder”
 of peaceful protesters.

Arsen Avakov, a close ally of Tymoshenko,
recently released from prison, says on a
Facebook page, that a number of other

officials are also now on a wanted list.

“An official case for the mass murder of
peaceful citizens has been opened,” says
 Avakov adding, “Yanukovych and other
 people responsible for this (sic), have
 also been declared 'wanted'.”

On February 23rd, the Ukrainian parliament
ousted Yanukovych and named Oleksandr
Turchynov, the legislature’s newly-elected
speaker, as interim president.

On the same day, jailed opposition leader
Yulia Tymoshenko was released and held
 a speech in which she promised supporters
 that the country would soon join the EU.

The Party of Regions' faction in Ukraine's
 parliament is now in opposition to the
 current authorities of Ukraine, the party’s
 leader in the Rada, Aleksandr Yefremov,
 has announced.

“Considering the fact that you took over
and, as we see, you have the capability
 to form a government & rebuild authority,
 we have decided to be in the opposition,”
 he tells all party and committee heads.

Viktor Yanukovich's once-majority Party
of Regions suffered a mass exodus of
MPs, over just a few days.

 At least 77 parliamentarians resigned
 from the party's ranks, thinning them
down to some 130 MPs.

Earlier, the Ukrainian Communist Party,
main ally of the Party of the Regions
 in the Rada, announced that it too, is
 now part of the opposition.


Paul Craig Roberts, former US'
Secretary of the Treasury for Economic
argues that Ukraine is now in
grip of a fascist coup, saying:

"In western Ukraine the only organized
 and armed force is the ultra-nationalist
 Right Sector."

"From the way this group’s leaders speak,
they assume that they are in charge. One
 leader, Aleksandr Muzychko, has pledged
 to fight “Jews and Russians until I die.”

Asserting the Right Sector’s authority,
Muzychko declares that, now that the
democratically elected government has
 been overthrown, “there will be order
 and discipline” or “Right Sector squads
 will shoot the bastards on the spot.”

'The bastards' are any protesters who
 dare to protest the Right Sector’s control.

Muzychko declares, “The next president
 of Ukraine will be from Right Sector.”

Another Right Sector leader, Dmitry
Yarosh, says that “Right Sector will
 not lay down its arms.”

 He declares the deal made between
the opposition and the President to be
 “unacceptable” and he demands the
 liquidation of President Yanukovich’s
 political party.

The Right Sector’s roots go back to the
Ukrainians who fought for Adolf Hitler
against the Soviet Union in WWll.

It was Right Sector that introduced
 armed fighters and turned the tide
 of protests in Kiev from peaceful
protests in favor of joining the EU,
 to violent attacks on police, with
 the main view of overthrowing the
democratically elected government
 - which Right Sector has now done.

Right Sector didn't overthrow Ukraine's
 government, in order to deliver it into
 the hands of US & EU paid “opposition.”

There's a tendency to discount Right
Sector as a small fringe group, but Right
Sector not only took control of protests
away from West-supported moderates,
as moderate leaders themselves admit,
 but also, Right Sector has enough public
support to destroy the national monument
 to Red Army soldiers, who died liberating
 Ukraine from Nazi Germany.

 If Right Sector hates Russians for defeating
 the Nazis, Right Sector also hates the US,
France, and the UK, for the same reasons.

Right Sector, is an unlikely political party
 to take Ukraine into the EU, says Roberts.

The Russian parts of Ukraine now clearly
 understand that Right Sector’s destruction
of the monument commemorating the stand
 of the Red Army against German troops, is a
 threat to the Russian population of Ukraine.

 Provincial governments in eastern and
 southern Ukraine that were formerly
part of Russia, are organizing militias
 against the ultra-nationalist threat
unleashed by Washington’s stupidity
 and incompetence, and by the naive
 and gullible Kiev protesters.

Having interfered in Ukraine’s internal
affairs and lost control, the US is now
issuing ultimatums to Russia to not

Does the idiot Susan Rice, Obama’s neo-
conservative National Security Advisor,
 think Putin is going to pay any attention
to her ultimatums, or to any instruction
 from a government so militarily
 incompetent that it was unable to
successfully occupy Baghdad after 8
 years, or to defeat a few thousand
 lightly armed Taliban after 12 years?

In only took a few hours for Russian
troops to destroy the US and Israeli-
 trained and armed Georgian army,
that the US sent to invade S. Ossetia.

Where does Obama find morons like
 Susan Rice and Victoria Nuland?

 These two belong in a kindergarten
 for mentally handicapped children,
 not in government for a superpower,
 where ignorance and arrogance can
start World War 3.

Ukraine is far more important to Russia
 than it is to the US or EU. If the situation
 in Ukraine spirals out of control and right-
wing extremists seize control, Russian
 intervention is certain.

The arrogant and stupid Obama regime has
 carelessly and recklessly created a direct
 strategic threat to the existence of Russia.

According to the Moscow Times, this is
 what a senior Russian official has to say:

 “If Ukraine breaks apart, it will trigger a war.”
Ukraine “will lose the Crimea first,” because
Russia “will go in just as we did in Georgia.”

Another Russian official said: “ We will not
 allow Europe and the US to take Ukraine
 from us."

 "The states of the former Soviet Union, we
 are one family. They think Russia is still as
weak as in the early '90s, but we are not.”

The Ukrainian right-wing is also in a
 stronger position than the US's paid
 Ukrainian puppets, who are essentially
 weak and irrelevant persons, who have
sold out their country for US' money.

 The Right Sector is organized. It is armed.
 It is indigenous. It is not dependent on
money funneled in by US & EU financed
NGOs. It has an ideology, and is focused.

The Right Sector doesn’t have to pay its
protesters to take to the streets like the
 US had to do.

Most importantly, well-meaning but stupid
protesters - especially the Kiev students -
and a Ukrainian parliament playing to the
protesters, have destroyed Ukraine's

 The opposition controlled parliament has
removed an elected president from office
without an election, an obviously illegal,
undemocratic act.

 The opposition controlled parliament has
issued illegal arrest warrants for members
 of the president’s government.

The opposition controlled parliament has
 illegally released criminals from prison.

 As the opposition has created a regime of
illegality in place of law and constitutional
procedures, the field is wide open for
 the Right Sector.

 Expect everything the opposition did to
Yanukovich, to be done to them by the
Right Sector.

By their own illegal, unconstitutional
 actions, the opposition has set the
 precedent for their own demise.

Just as the February 1917 revolution
 against the Russian Tsar set the stage
 for the Oct 1917 Bolshevik Revolution,
 surprising the stupid “reformers,” the
 overthrow of the Ukrainian political
order sets the stage for Right Sector.

We can only hope that Right Sector
blows its chances.

The US media is a useless news source.
It serves as Ministry for Government Lies.

The corrupt propagandists are portraying
 the undemocratic removal of Yanukovich
 as a victory for freedom and democracy.

 When it begins to leak out that all has
gone wrong, the presstitutes will try
to blame it all on Russia and Putin.

The Western media is a plague upon

US citizens have no idea that the neo-
conservative regime of the White House
 Fool is leading them into a Great Power
Confrontation that could end in the
destruction of life on earth.

Ironic, isn’t it. A US' “first black president,”
 the person liberals thought would restore
 justice, morality, and reason to Western
civilization, is instead now positioned as the
 person who will have to accept humiliating
defeat, or risk the destruction of life on earth.



The Crimea is refusing to pay taxes
to what they state is an illegitimate
and unconstitutional
Duma as it was
born of "violence, terror and threats."



A bill was registered Sunday, in the Supreme
 Rada (Parliament), which aims to ban the
 party of President Viktor Yanukovych, the
Party of Regions, and the Communist Party.

This demand was promoted
first from the
rostrum in Maidan Square, by a leader of
the ultra-rightwing 'Right Sector'.



Ukraine's President Viktor Yanukovych
says what has happened since he signed
  a deal with the opposition to end almost
three months of unrest in the country, is
a neo-nazi coup..

Speaking in a televised address from
 the northeastern city of Kharkov,
 Yanukovych stresses that he has no
 intention of resigning, or leaving the
 country, saying that events resemble
 the rise of the Nazis, in the 1930s.

Yanukovych says a coup has been
 underway ever since he left Kiev,
 when Ukraine's parliament debated
 a motion calling for his resignation.

The president rejects the parliament’s
 recent moves as illegal.
He speaks out, after a lawmaker from
 the Western-backed opposition camp
 said Yanukovych is "stepping down".

But he repeats that he has no intention
 of resigning or of leaving Ukraine.

Earlier, the parliament, now packed by
rightwing MPs, voted to quickly release
 ex-prime minister, Yulia Tymoshenko,
 from prison, and then picked Oleksandr
Turchynov, a close ally of Tymoshenko,
 as a new speaker. It also appointed a
new interior minister.

Pro-Yanukovych authorities in Eastern
 regions, meanwhile, are challenging the
 parliament's legitimacy and say they're
 taking full control of their territories.

Regional leaders meeting in Kharkov
 have adopted a resolution declaring
 the central state organs "paralyzed."

"Until constitutional order & lawfulness
 are restored... we have decided to take
all responsibility for safeguarding the
 constitutional order, legality, citizens'
 rights and security, on our territories,"
 the resolution says.



Local MPs from the Euro-skeptic east
and south of Ukraine, have gathered in

Kharkov city, to form a joint response
to the collapse of central government.

“The territorial integrity of Ukraine is at
the gathering says in a resolution.

It adds that instability in Ukraine is highly
 dangerous and may cause unpredictable
consequences, considering that the
country hosts five nuclear power plants
 with 15 reactors in total, which some
 extremists have threatened to attack.

The recent decisions of the national parliament
 were taken in conditions “of terror, threats of
violence, and of death,” the resolution says.

 The gathering says the legislative acts may
 have been passed involuntarily, and are
 neither legitimate nor lawful.

The opposition has broken the agreement
 with the government, the resolution says.

“Armed gangs have not given over their
weapons, they continue taking over
governmental buildings, killing citizens
and officers of the law,” it says.

The Kharkov public gathering announces
 a number of measures local authorities
 should take in response to developments
 in Kiev.

They should take full responsibility for all
decision-making in their respective regions,
and pay no regard to the authorities in Kiev
until full
constitutional order is restored,
the resolution states.

Military commanders should take measures
 to protect arms depots and prevent their
 take-over and looting by opposition activists.

Meanwhile citizens are encouraged to form
 local militias to protect public order. Local
regions are to fund and support the militias.

“3, 477 deputies from local councils in
southeastern Ukraine have gathered.
 We have gathered here not to separate
the country, but to save it,” the regional
governor, Mikhail Dobkin, tells the crowd.

The head of the Kharkov administration,
Gennady Kernes, calls the public gathering
 “an attempt by qualified deputies from the
 east of Ukraine to stabilize the situation.”

"My colleagues and I have been personally
 threatened. But today we have gathered to
 change the situation,” he says. “We will
give in; we will fight till the end.”

The statement is echoed by Rada’s Party
 of Regions deputy, Vadim Kolesnichenko,
who also says that politicians are being
 threatened and that “their families are
 basically hostages.”



Yanukovych has held talks
Ukraine regions which reject the
rightwing takeover of their country.

His trusted ally had to resign as Speaker
of the Parliament, on
"health grounds",
as did the Deputy, and about 30 party of
Regions members.

Alexandr Turchinov, ally of jailed former
 PM, Yulia Tymoshenko, is now speaker,
after his predecessor, Volodymyr Rybak,
resigned for "health reasons".

First Vice Speaker Igor Kalentik, an MP
 from Ukraine's Communist Party, also
stepped down from the parliament...
in which the right only, now sits.

The Ukrainian ultra right-wing party,
 Right-Wing Sector, recognized as the
combative wing of the Maidan, has
rejected agreements signed between
the Government & opposition leaders,
 and promises to keep carrying out
acts to complete their agenda.

In a communiqué published on the web
page Vkontakte, the Russian social
network, the leader of the organization,
Dmitri Yarosh, said the document didn't
give any clear promises about the
resignation of President Yanukovich,
or the dissolution of the Supreme
Council (Parliamentâ and Rada in
the Ukrainian language).

Yarosh, who encouraged the offensive
 against the Rada and police in a new
wave of mass violence,
blames "the
authorities" for all the violence

The leader of command groups that
 killed police agents and kidnapped
 special-troop soldiers, said that the
Government must punish the chiefs
all the security corps, including the
minister, and ban all activity
by the
Party of Regions.

"The national revolution will continue and
 will end only with a total overthrow of
 the regime", wrote Yarosh in his blog,
published by Ukrainian media outlets.

Around 3,000 right-wing and nationalist
fighters ruled the ranks of demonstrators
 in the Maidan, and led clashes with the
police and riot agents (Berkut),
the attacks on Government HQs
military institutions, says a report

premiered by Russia's NTV.

Analysts interviewed by the filmmaking
 team all agreed that the purpose of the
so-called Heirs of Bandera (named after
nationalist Stepan Bandera,
who was
a collaborator for the Nazis
during the
World War ll occupation of
Ukraine) is to lead Ukraine
into a
civil war.

The right-wing sector, nationalist
organizations and the pro-Western
opposition, do not want a peaceful
solution to the crisis in Ukraine,
 as that is not part of their plans,
says Russian political scientist,
Veronika Krasheninnikova.



Ukraine's President Viktor Yanukovich and
the opposition had signed an EU brokered
agreement on ending the political crisis.

The deal included a return to parliamentary
democracy, away from the presidential rule
under Yanukovitch, and that of his archrival
and predecessor,
Ms Tymoshenko.

A coalition government was set to be
formed in days, regional MP Vladimir
Oleynik told RIA-Novosti, quoting the
draft of the now doomed peace deal,
which included early Presidential
elections (in November).

Kiev is now awash with rumours and
the situation is very fraught, as the
neo-nazi elements are still violent,
and sworn to continue their actions.

Last week, 400 rioters partially blocked
 traffic at the Prospect Pobedy (Victory
 avenue) in Kiev, in a rally led by masked
 rioters armed with clubs, and caused a
traffic jam. Police were not seen there.

Ukraine is also under financial attack
from both outside "investors" and
their own people, as shops & banks
are emptied, especially in some
cities close to Poland and the West,
and US based credit agencies drop
Ukraine's credit rating to CCC minus.

Now reports suggest 70 to 100 deaths
since the agreement was rejected and
88 law enforcement agents, 6 journalists,
 4 foreigners and 1 member of parliament
 were among those injured in the clashes
 which erupted on February 18th, after a
deadline set by authorities to end the
protests expired, the website states.

Reports say thousands of Western-
backed protesters took to the streets
in Kiev, that some Kiev shops were
reported as looted, and civilians are
reported to be leaving Kiev, for safety.

Rioters reached the Rada building (the
country's parliament), as the police
pulled back into Mariinsky park nearby.

An emergency evacuation was declared...
 but then so was an emergency session,
of parliament, just as parliament members
and employees were
leaving the building.

The result, reports say, was a barely-quorate
meeting, which ordered the withdrawal of
police from the square and included a
severe legal challenge to the President.

Protesters hurled rocks and Molotov
at the police, in spite of a
day of
mourning being declared as
a mark
of respect for the 35 people
who had died previously

Protesters not only pushed security forces
 out of Independence Square,
they seized
Oktyabrsky Palace, a major concert hall
 in Kiev, and Hotel Ukraine, reports say.

Over 60 security forces were taken hostage
 after their bus was besieged by protesters.

The officers were taken to St Volodymyr's
Cathedral nearby by rioters, but are free,
and have
left the protest site in Maidan Sq.

The Interior Ministry of Ukraine says at least
 23 police officers were injured by sniper fire.

The protesters were “openly using fire arms
against the Berkut [Special Forces],” says
 the Interior Ministry statement.

Police say the sniper fire originated from
the roof of Kiev’s Conservatory, and
deliberately targeted officers.

“I think the opposition has crossed the line.
 I think the policy of negotiations has now
exhausted itself,” said the deputy head of
 the Party of Regions, Oleg Tsarev, in
Ukraine's parliament.

Despite Yanukovich agreeing a temporary
truce to mourn victims of the unrest, and
despite the agreement between the
Party of Regions and the opposition...
the neo-fascist opposition group Right
rejected any truces, and urged
followers to keep pressing.

Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych
 had earlier sacked the head of the army
and announced an anti-terror
to stop violent take-overs.



The Communist Party of Ukraine says that
the extremist groups behind the worst
the violence in Ukraine, are "sponsored

 not only by Ukrainian oligarchs, but also by
 major Western capital, which is interested
 in destabilising the situation in Ukraine."

It says the nationalist forces have mounted
a coup, using "the most treacherous
of warfare": by terrorism and by
using women
and children as "human shields".

The party says the leaders and activists
of the fascist forces must be prosecuted.



Bahraini protesters held anti-government
demonstrations across the country last week,
an ongoing crackdown by regime forces.

Bahraini security forces used birdshot
and tear gas to break up the crowds.

Protesters chanted anti-regime slogans, saying
 the Al Khalifa regime murders its own people.

 They also pledged to continue on the path of
those who sacrificed their lives for freedom
and democracy.

Since mid-February 2011, thousands of pro-
democracy protesters have staged numerous
demonstrations in the streets of the country,
calling for the Al Khalifa royal family to
relinquish power.

 UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon calls on
 the Bahraini regime to respect “international
 human rights obligations” in dealing with
peaceful protests in the kingdom.

On March 14, 2011, troops from Saudi Arabia
 and the United Arab Emirates invaded Bahrain
 to assist the Bahraini regime in its crackdown
 on the peaceful protesters.

According to local sources, scores of people
 have been killed and hundreds arrested.

Physicians for Human Rights say doctors
 and nurses have been detained, tortured,
 or "disappeared" because they have
 "evidence of atrocities committed by the
 authorities, security forces, and riot
police" in the crackdown on protesters.



 Venezuelan right-wing leader Leopoldo Lopez,
national coordinator of opposition organization
Voluntad Popular (People's Will), is in detention,
due to his relation to
recent violent fascist acts.


Russia warned against attempts to
 "forcibly seize power" in Ukraine
Moscow condemned the violent protests
 in Ukraine and will use its influence to
 defeat this "pro-Fascist revolution",
Russia's Foreign Ministry said.



Students at the University of Glasgow have
voted ex NSA contractor and whistleblower
 Edward Snowden as the school’s rector in
 the university court for the next three years.

Snowden beat ex racing cyclist Graeme
Obree, author Alan Bissett, and the Rev.
Kelvin Holdsworth, reports the Guardian.

Snowden is not expected to fulfill a rector's 
duties, being in temporary asylum in Russia.

He is wanted by the US on both charges of
espionage and theft of government property
 after leaking classified material to journalists
that revealed the National Security Agency’s
global spying operations.

"We are delighted to see Edward Snowden
elected as the new rector of the University
 of Glasgow,” says Chris Cassells, Snowden’s
 spokesperson for the election campaign.

 “We have a proud and virtuous tradition of
making significant statements through
our rectors, and today we have once more
 championed this idea, by proving to the
world that we are not apathetic on
important issues such as democratic

David Newall, secretary of the university
 court, says that Snowden’s nomination
contributed to an historic campaign:

"This has been a record turnout for a
rectorial election. I warmly congratulate
Edward Snowden on his success.”



"We have reached a situation in which people
 don't want to tackle the Palestinian cause
and the enemy," Sayyed Nasrallah, the
Hezbollah leader says, pointing out that
"this is what America has sought."

Sayyed Nasrallah says "the US Administration
seeks, along with the Zionist Administration,
 to put an end to the Palestinian cause, and it
 considers that this is the best time for that,
 because the Arab and Islamic worlds are
absent today, and every country is
occupied with its own problems."

Sayyed Nasrallah reminds the Lebanese
about the threat this enemy has constantly
 posed on all political, military, economic,
and energy levels, and stresses that "our
concern is to defend Lebanon, its glory and
 capabilities & not leave it to face its destiny."

He points out: "if it wasn't for the resistance,
 Israel would have stayed in Lebanon."
"Israel is still the enemy and threat that we
 should be aware of... in the past couple of
 weeks Israel has tried to take advantage
of the situation to wage aggression on
the resistance and its environment... as
 its eyes are still on our land and oil and
 it still sees Hezbollah as the greatest
 danger in the region."

But, he says, "Israel does not terrify us
 and does not affect our morale, and it
 must know that the resistance is on
 high readiness at all times."

He says that when "we establish a capable
 state and a strong Army which will become
 the sole power that defends Lebanon, we
 can then relax."

Sayyed Nasrallah emphasizes that the
 second threat, after the Israeli enemy,
 is Takfiri terror:

"Takfirism is not a threat by itself as long as
 it remains in the mental field, but the problem
 lies in their rejection of everyone they disagree
with ideologically, politically, or mentally, so
 they tend to eliminate or proscribe people."

His eminence stresses that "Lebanon is a
target for the Takfiri groups and part of their
project, and their priority was Lebanon after
 finishing Syria, and this is why they followed
 the strategy of controlling Lebanon's
 borders with Syria."

To those who say Hezbollah's fighting in
 Syria caused trouble in Lebanon he replies:

"Before going to Syria, didn't Lebanon witness a
 war imposed by those in the north and in some
 refugee camps, and didn't they target Christian
 regions and Army locations with booby-trapped
cars? All these occurred before the incidents
 in Syria began."

He addresses the Lebanese, saying:

"What has the Lebanese government done
besides self disassociation which is similar
 to burying it's head in the sand?

 "Don't we have the right to interfere to stop
 the killing, stealing and raping of women
which 30,000 Lebanese have been suffering
 in Al-Qusayr? What if those Takfiris whom
 we defeated in Qusayr, came to Lebanon?
What if, God forbid, they took control of all
 Syria? What would the picture be like then?"

His eminence asks: "Why do they fear an
 election in Syria? It is because they know
where Syria's public opinion is now."

"We will triumph in this battle and it is
only a matter of time. What this battle
 requires on various levels is available.
This is a crucial battle, but its destiny
 is victory."

"Their speech in Syria and Lebanon is sectarian
 as they want to stir incitement. They want us
 Shiites - whose women and children are being
targeted in explosions - to react in a sectarian
way, but this did not happen in the past and
 it will not happen in the future. Such reactions
 would only serve the Takfiris," he says,
 praising the Lebanese Army and its
 recent intelligence achievements.

Sayyed Nasrallah says those "who delayed
 forming a government for ten months were
 refusing to form a government and wanted
     a "neutral" government to isolate Hezbollah."

 However, he says "Hezbollah's position today
 is stronger politically than at any other time,
   internally, regionally, and internationally."

On the fears and concerns of some people
 because of some ministers appointed in the
 new government, Sayyed Nasrallah says:

"I tell them that no matter who the Minister of
Justice is, Omar Al-Atrash or Naim Abbas will
 not be released because they have confessed
 about their role in sending booby-trapped cars."

His eminence concludes by saluting the
 oppressed people of Bahrain, as 3 years
 have passed in their peaceful, civilized
revolution, despite all the oppression
and arrests by the West-backed regime.

He also addresses the Lebanese, Palestinians,
 and all honorable people in the region, saying:

 "If you want Israel to lose any chances, and if
you want to prevent sedition in the region, stop
the war on Syria and take out the fighters there.
(and, of course, we would pull out then.)

 "We should all stop this war on Syria in order
 to preserve Lebanon, Palestine, and Syria."



William Engdahl, award-winning geopolitical analyst
 and strategic risk consultant, says the US is still
trying to "win" a nuclear war with Russia and this
places European countries in the utmost danger.

Despite Russia’s recent efforts to broker a
peaceful resolution of the Syrian chemical
weapons crisis, as well as its good offices in
 helping resolve the Iranian nuclear conflict
 with Washington, the Obama administration
 is moving ahead with its highly provocative
 nuclear Ballistic Missile ‘Defense’ (BMD)
 deployments around Russia.

 What we are not being told by politicians
Engdahl warns, is that this action, far from
peaceful, "brings the world closer
than ever to
nuclear war by miscalculation."

Four US advanced destroyers to be positioned
 in Rota, Spain, will form a key part of the US-
controlled ballistic missile “shield.”

 The shield is being sold as protecting Europe
 against any Iranian nuclear missile attacks.

But the reality, as Moscow has declared
again and again since 2001, is to target
the only nuclear arsenal on Earth capable
 of countering a US nuclear attack - Russia’s.

As military experts across the world point
no “terrorists” or small rogue state has
such nuclear missile delivery capability

 ... and US intelligence estimates agree.

Why then is the US spending tens of billions
 if not hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars
developing its BMD system?

Official US military policy reports demonstrate,
Engdahl says, that it has been the deliberate
and unflinching policy of Washington since the
 collapse of the Soviet Union to systematically
 and relentlessly - throughout the administrations
 of four US Presidents - to pursue nuclear primacy
(unilateral assured destruction) and the capacity
 for absolute, global military dominance, what the
Pentagon callS Full Spectrum Dominance.

In 2006, the then US Ambassador to NATO,
 former Cheney advisor Victoria Nuland (yes,
 the same person disgraced by a video of her
 phone tirade with US Ukraine Ambassador
 Pyatt on changing Ukraine's government
 - saying “Fuck the EU”)  declared that the
 US wants a “globally deployable military
that would operate everywhere –
from Africa to
the Middle East & beyond -
“all across our planet.”

As nuclear strategy experts warned at that time,
more than eight years ago, deployment of even
 a minimal missile defense, under the Pentagon’s
then-new CONPLAN 8022, would give the US
 what the military calls, “Escalation Dominance”
- the ability to win a war at any level of violence,
 including nuclear war.

As a Foreign Affairs article in 2006 notes:
 “A nuclear war-fighting capability remains a
 key component of US' military doctrine and
 nuclear primacy remains a goal of the US.”

The two authors, Lieber and Press, outline the
real consequences of the
current escalation
of BMD in Europe
(and against China in Japan):

“The sort of missile defenses that the US
 might plausibly deploy would be valuable
 primarily in an offensive context, not a
defensive one - as an adjunct to a US
First Strike capability, not as a stand-
alone shield."
If the US launched a nuclear attack against
 Russia (or China), the targeted country
 would be left with only a tiny surviving
 arsenal - if any at all. At that point, even
 a relatively modest or inefficient missile
defense system might well be enough
 to protect against any retaliatory strikes.”

“Today, for the first time in almost 50 years,
the US stands on the verge of attaining
nuclear primacy. It will probably soon be
 possible for the US to destroy the long-
nuclear arsenals of Russia or
China with
a first strike.

"This dramatic shift in the nuclear balance of
stems from a series of improvements
in the US'
nuclear systems, the precipitous
decline of Russia's
arsenal, and the glacial
modernization pace
of China's nuclear forces.”

Today, in addition to the missile-loaded USS
Donald Cook in Rota, the US has BMD bases
 in Turkey, Bulgaria, Poland and the Czech
 Republic, all aimed at Russia.

As the Russian military command refused to
completely dismantle their nuclear capacities
after 1991 until they were assured that the US
 would do likewise, every step closer to full US
Ballistic Missile Defense deployment brings
nearer the possibility of a Russian preemptive
 nuclear strike against Turkey, Bulgaria, Poland,
 the Czech Republic and now Spain as well as
 the US nuclear silos, including reportedly in
Germany. How stupid are EU governments?
How stupid is Washington?

The Washington neo-conservatives’ agenda
to reduce Russia to pieces - as seen by their
actions in Ukraine, Engdahl says, is not the
most intelligent strategy.

 But then, Engdahl points out, neo-conservative
 warhawks are not famed for their intelligence,
 but for their brutal war strategies in Iraq,
Afghanistan, Libya, Syria and now, perhaps,
in a potential Third World War triggered by
 their insistence on BMD aimed at Russia's
 nuclear strike force.



The UK and US are the main orchestrators of
 the devastation in Syria as the neocolonialist
 agenda of the two, focuses on support for
 terrorism and division in different countries
across the world,
a political analyst says.

In an interview with Press TV,
Sukant Chandan points
to the
ongoing crisis in Syria & notes:

 “The source of the problem, actually,
is in London
and in Washington."

"London is still the world capital of the privately-
armed mercenary industry, and it’s also still the
world financial capital of neocolonialism today.”

The analyst says that terrorism is a US and UK
strategy to conduct regime change and to keep
hegemony and domination across the world.

He says that terrorism, combined with creating
divisions inside countries, is “the 21st-century
 neocolonialism” tactic employed by the US
 and UK, against different nations.

European Union (EU) countries, alongside the UK,
 one of the Western supporters of the militants in
Syria, have already expressed concern over the
 threat of terrorism from extremist groups in Syria.

A study by UK defense consultancy IHS Jane’s
 published last September showed that about
 100,000 militants, fragmented into 1,000 groups,
are operating inside Syria and carrying out
atrocities against people and Syrian soldiers.

According to reports, over 300 UK nationals,
 along with militants from the US, Canada,
France and the Netherlands, have joined the
 foreign-backed militant groups in Syria.

The country has been gripped by a deadly crisis
since March 2011. Millions have been displaced.



The UK's Sikh community has threatened
 to boycott Conservative candidates at the
 2015 election over the Coalition's refusal
 to launch a full public inquiry into the UK's
 role in India's Golden Temple massacre.

The Sikh Federation launched a mass letter-
writing campaign, urging UK MPs to set up
a large-scale inquiry into UK involvement in
 the deadly attack on Sikhism's holiest shrine
 in India’s Amritsar city, in June 1984.

A spokesperson for the Federation warned
 that all MPs who refuse to support the call,
 face losing the votes of Sikhs across the UK.

Bhai Amrik Singh, chair of the Sikh Federation,
 predicts that the number of politicians backing
an independent probe into the Amritsar raid will
 increase from 50 to 100+ over the next few days.

"Many Conservative politicians in Labour target
 seats, while not yet supporting the inquiry, are
 under enormous pressure, as we have now
 started to gain the support of prospective
 parliamentary candidates who are their
main rivals," Singh says.

UK PM David Cameron has been given a
deadline of February 20th, to agree to a
 meeting with representatives of the Sikh
 Federation, or face a protest outside
Downing Street.

Appearing in the House of Commons earlier
this month, Foreign Secretary William Hague
 acknowledged that an officer from the SAS
 (Special Air Service) travelled to India in
February 1984 and advised Indian authorities
 on planning one of the most notorious atrocities
 in UK imperial history, in the South Asian country.

The death toll from the temple raid remains
disputed, with Indian authorities putting it in
the hundreds and Sikh groups, in the thousands.


 Cybernet Attack Affects Venezuelan Institutions

 Venezuela's Minister for Science, Technology and
 Innovation, Manuel Fernandez, asserts today that
 Venezuela is facing one of the most serious
cybernet attacks in its history.

Over the last 48 hours, 61 Government web pages
 were hacked, in the fiercest attack ever recorded
 in this country, says the minister, in an interview
 with Toda Venezuela (The Whole Venezuela),
 broadcast on Venezolana de Television station.

Fernandez reports that the most damaging attack
so far, was carried out on Friday night against the
 website of the Foreign Currency Administrative
Commission (CADIVI).

He says the saboteurs tried for minutes to send
 500,000 requests to CADIVI and for that reason,
 one of 16 links from Venezuela to other countries
 through CANTV, was saturated.

That website could not be accessed for three or
four hours, he says.

Fernandez explains to Venezuela's people,
 that there are four types of cyber attacks
 and that 16 Venezuelan websites were hit
by the best known of them, called distortion,
that is, distorting or changing a web page.

"27 other web pages were attacked through
service denial, which causes a resource to
be inaccessible to users of those pages",
 says the minister.

He says the third type of attack uncovers website
vulnerabilities and inserts malicious software to
 take control of the page. "That was the cause of
 the collapse of one Venezuelan website," the
 minister explains.

Through Webhive, malicious software that causes
a user's request to be replicated until the service
 is denied, 17 websites were attacked, he says.

The minister says the government of Falcon state,
 the University of Zulia, Venezolana de Television
station, Mision Ribas, the Ministry of the Interior,
Justice and Peace, the city halls of Valencia and
 Carabobo, and the Republic's Vice Presidency,
 were among the institutions damaged.


Supreme Leader Urges Iran’s Students
 to Prepare for ’Cyber War’

The Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution
 of Iran Grand Ayatollah Sayyed Ali Khamenei
has told Iranian students this week to prepare
to go to battle in a 'cyber war'.

Calling them 'cyber-war agents', Ayatollah Khamenei
 was quoted by Mehr news agency telling students
 'Get yourself ready for such war wholeheartedly.'

His comments are believed to be in response to
 Israeli Major General Aviv Kochavi, who warned
 that cyber attacks will soon be revealed to be
 the 'biggest revolution in warfare'.

Iran has previously blamed the CIA and Mossad
for a cyber attack on the Bushehr power station
 in 2010, before being targeted again in 2012,
 by a data mining virus.


Saudis Agree to Provide Gunmen in Syria
with Mobile Anti-aircraft Missiles

Saudi Arabia, one of the US's main Arab allies,
 has agreed to provide Takfiri groups in Syria
 with more sophisticated weaponry, including
 shoulder-fired missiles that can take down jets,
 say Western and Arab diplomats and opposition
 figures, says the Wall Street Journal today.

Saudi Arabia has offered to give the opposition
 Chinese man-portable air defense systems,
(Manpads) and Russian antitank guided
says an Arab diplomat and some
figures with knowledge of
these efforts.

The US has long opposed arming opposition
 gunmen with antiaircraft missiles, for fear
they could fall into the hands of extremists
who could then use them against the West
and commercial airlines.

 The US is, however, raising its cash support,
 handing around $3 million in new aid to pay
 gumen's salaries in the Southern Front.

 Payments were delivered in cash at two
meetings in Jordan - one on January 30th,
and the other late last year, say opposition
 field commanders who have received some
 of the money, says the US daily.

"If the Manpads are supplied in the quantities
 needed, rebels say it could tip the balance in
 the stalemated war in favor of the opposition.

The antiaircraft and Russian Konkurs antitank
weapons would help them chip away at the
 regime's 2 big advantages on the battlefield -
air power and heavy armour," it says.

The Wall Street Journal says leaders of the
Syrian political opposition say they don't
know yet how many of the Manpads and
antiaircraft missiles they will get, but
 have been told it will be "significant".

"The weapons are already waiting in
warehouses in Jordan and Turkey,"
it adds.

The daily says that opposition group leaders
 met with US and Saudi intelligence agents,
 among others, in Jordan on January 30th,
 as the first round of Syrian peace talks in
Geneva came to a close and that is when
 rich Gulf States offered the weapons.

The weapons will flow across the border
 into south Syria from warehouses in Jordan
 and across the northern border from Turkey,
 the 'Western diplomat' says.

"With the rebels still deeply divided and
infighting growing, the new aid is aimed
 squarely at the more moderate, secular
 rebels of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) the
 US has always favored," the 'paper says.

The plan coincides with the reorganization
 of rebel forces in the south, where 10,000
 fighters have formed the Southern Front.
The new front aims to break the government's
 siege of the southern suburbs of Damascus.

Congressional aides in the US confirm that
 there are scheduled meetings with opposition
leaders next week to discuss their request
 for more advanced weapons.

 But Congress remains sharply divided about
 the conflict in Syria. Some lawmakers favor
 stepped-up support to moderate opposition
groups, but others question the wisdom of
providing heavy weapons.



Clashes with police mark the third anniversary
 of the Bahrain uprising that has seen numerous
human rights violations by the government and
 wide social discontent by the majority Shia,
 with the minority ruling Sunni monarchy.

Police have used tear gas in a number of villages
 outside the capital Manama across the small island
 as security forces moved in to disperse gatherings.

In some districts protesters have been setting
 barricades of burning tires on fire to prevent
moving in. They chanted "Down with
and "Only to Allah (God), we kneel."

At least 29 people have been arrested.

Thursday saw the beginning of a three-day-long
 protest called by the 'February 14 youth coalition',
the Shiite-led opposition, to mark Friday's 3 year
 anniversary of the popular protest.

Anti-government movement supporters were urged
 to once again occupy the Pearl Square, the cradle
 of the revolution where activists camped in 2011,
 before Bahraini, Saudi and UAE troops smashed
 the uprising.



Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi says
   Friday, that China will never allow any
or war on the Korean Peninsula.

Wang makes the remarks while meeting
Secretary of State John Kerry in Beijing.

"China is serious on this. We not only
say so,
but do so, " says Wang.


Amnesty: Central Africa - ’Ethnic Cleansing’

'Ethnic cleansing" is being carried out against
 Muslim civilians in the Central African Republic
and international peacekeepers are unable to
prevent it, Amnesty International says.

France's defense minister has already calls on
forces deployed in the Christian-
majority country
to put an end to attacks by
the militias "by force
if needed".

Amnesty says it has documented at least 200
 killings of Muslim civilians by Christian militia
groups known as the anti-balaka, set up in the
 wake of the March 2013 coup by the mainly-
Muslim Seleka rebellion.

"'Ethnic cleansing' of Muslims has been carried out
 in the western part of the Central African Republic,
 the most populous part of the country, since early
January 2014," Amnesty International says.

"Entire Muslim communities have been forced to
 flee and hundreds of Muslim civilians who haven't
 managed to escape have been killed by loosely
 organized militias known as anti-balaka."

The group say attacks against Muslims are
 occurring "with the stated intent to forcibly
 displace these communities from the country,"
with many anti-balaka fighters seeing Muslims
 as "'foreigners' who should leave the country
 or be killed".

"They appear to be achieving their aims, with
 Muslims being forced out of the country in
 increasingly large numbers," it says.

Amnesty urges international peacekeepers
 in the country to "take rapid steps to break
 anti-balaka control over the country's road
 network, and to station sufficient troops in
 towns where Muslims are threatened".

UN chief Ban Ki-Moon:

"The sectarian brutality is changing the country's
 demography. The de facto partition of the C.A.R.
is a distinct risk."

"The international response does not yet match
the gravity of the situation," he adds.

"We must do more to prevent more atrocities,
 protect civilians, restore law and order,
 provide humanitarian assistance and hold
 the country together," Ban says.



A US federal appeals court has dismissed demands
 for an end to force-feeding inmates at the notorious
Guantanamo military prison run by the US, in Cuba.

A three-judge panel of the US Court of Appeals for
the District of Columbia in Washington ruled on
Tuesday that prison authorities were entitled to
 "force-feed a starving inmate actually facing the
 risk of death."


Egypt’s Sisi in Russia for $2-Billion Arms Deal

Egyptian army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi arrived in
 Moscow wednesday with Egypt's Foreign Minister,
Nabil Fahmy, for "2+2" talks with their Russian
counterparts, to negotiate a $2 billion arms deal.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrvov and
Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu also made a
 trip to Cairo in November, aimed at reviving
 ties that have stagnated since Soviet times.

Diplomats in Moscow says Thursday's talks
 focused on regional security issues such as
Syria's crisis, trade and economic relations.
But Moscow officials confirm that a large
 part of the discussions will focus on striking
 a massive new Russian arms delivery deal.

The head of Russia's state industrial holding
company said after the November meeting,
 that Moscow was on the verge of reaching
 a landmark agreement to supply air defense
systems to Egypt's army.

The Soviet Union was the main supplier of
arms to Egypt in the 1960s and early 1970s.

 Cooperation between the two sides dropped after
the Zionist entity and Egypt signed a peace treaty
 and Cairo began receiving generous US aid.

But the US suspended some military assistance
to Egypt after the July ousting of democratically-
elected Islamist president Mohamed Mursi.

 Analysts say the Russia-Egypt arms deal
 is meant to replace subsidised assistance
from its old ally, Washington.


Syrian government forces have regained full control
of a strategic town near neighboring Lebanon’s border.

The recapture of Jarajir took place after heavy
 clashes between government forces and foreign-
backed militants near the flashpoint city of Yabrud.

The clashes are part of what locals call the
"Battle for Qalamoun."

In recent days, the Syrian army has stepped up
its attacks on foreign-backed militants along the
 border with Lebanon. Reports say the attacks
 are a prelude to a major offensive in the region.

The Syrian army has just conducted successful
 clean-up operations across the country, inflicting
 heavy losses on the militants.

The army launched attacks against militants in the
 provinces of Damascus, Aleppo, Deir Ezzor, Homs,
 Idlib, Latakia and Daraa, killing large numbers.



Hezbollah says they are to stay in Syria
and that the aim of the West to control
the future of the region through terror
and division, is doomed.

The Lebanese army has arrested a leader of a unit
 in the al-Qaeda-linked Abdullah Azzam Brigades,
which has been involved in recent bombings there.

The army says the leader, Naim Abbas, was arrested
 by army intelligence in Beirut and the al-Qaeda leader
 is being questioned under supervision of the judiciary.

According to the Lebanese security forces, Abbas
 was arrested on suspicion of receiving booby-trapped
 cars from Omar Ibrahim al-Atrash, an extremist Sunni
 Muslim Sheikh involved in 2 deadly bombings in south
 Beirut last month, when a large number of people lost
 their lives.

Over two dozen people, including Iran’s cultural attaché
 to Beirut, were killed and more than 150 others injured in
November last year after two explosions struck near the
Iranian Embassy in southern Beirut.

Abdullah Azzam Brigades claimed responsibility for the
twin bomb attacks.



Palestinians in the city of East al-Quds (Jerusalem)
 have reacted angrily to a visit by Israel’s Minister of
 Housing & Construction Uri Ariel to al-Aqsa Mosque.

Muslim worshipers at the al-Aqsa Mosque shouted
 slogans against the minister as he, accompanied
 by a number of settlers, entered the compound
 under armed guard.

"The Israeli housing minister, accompanied by 27
settlers, stormed the Al-Aqsa compound through
the Al-Magharbah Gate as Israeli police looked on,"
Turkish state-run Anadolu Agency news agency
 quotes Sheikh Azzam al-Khatib, the director-general
 of Muslim endowments & Al-Aqsa affairs, as saying.

Israeli forces took the ID cards of Palestinian protesters.

The Israeli minister has earlier said that Tel Aviv plans
 to replace the al-Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest site in
 the Muslim world, with a temple.

This remark has infuriated Palestinians, who condemn
 the plan as desecration and part of the Israeli regime’s
 ongoing attempts to Judaize the al-Aqsa Mosque and
 East al-Quds (Jerusalem).

In recent months, Israeli settlers have stepped up their
attacks on the mosque. A move that has led to violent
 confrontations between the two sides.

On February 7th, clashes erupted between Palestinian
 worshippers and Israeli soldiers at the al-Aqsa Mosque
 when Israeli troops stormed the holy site.

Israeli soldiers fired rubber bullets and stun grenades
 at the people who were praying at the mosque.

At least 20 people, including children, were wounded
 in the violence.

Eyewitnesses say Israeli forces also beat a number of
 women and arrested several Palestinians, mostly youths.



Abadi: Iran Will Always Be Strategic Depth
 of Lebanon, Syria, and Palestine

Iran’s ambassador to Lebanon, Ghazanfar Roknabadi,
 says on the eve' of the 35th anniversary of Iran's
revolution, as millions mass to show their support:

 "Iran will always be the strategic depth of dignified
independent people, especially in Lebanon, Syria
 and Palestine, against the Zionist occupation and
Takfiri terrorism."

With Iran reaching rapprochment with Turkey,
Roknabadi says that recent measures by Saudi
 Arabia suggest a change in Riyadh’s foreign
policy, and he predicts that a rapprochement
 is close between Tehran and the Arab kingdom.

“[We are seeing the] start of a change in Saudi
Arabia’s foreign policy,” Roknabadi says, citing
King Abdullah's recent decree punishing Saudi
citizens who fight in foreign conflicts.

“Iran is keen on the best of ties with the world,
and with its neighbour states, particularly
with Saudi Arabia,” Roknabadi says.

“Reaching a Saudi-Iranian rapprochement
 will not take long,” he says. “God willing,
 we will reach that stage soon.”

“We insist on strengthening our ties with
 Saudi Arabia,” he adds.


Miqdad: States Involved in Syrian Blood

 Regard Stopping Terrorism "Not Priority"

Syrian deputy Foreign Minister Fayssal al-Miqdad
says there are governments involved in the blood
 of the Syrian people who have "other priorities"
stopping terrorism.

Miqdad states " it is time to reach an agreement
between Syrians to stop the bloodshed, and this
 is a priority."

"The goal of Geneva-II is the cessation of violence
 and terrorism," he says, adding that progress can't
be made, if the bloodshed and support for terrorism
 doesn't stop.

"The time has come to stop terrorist acts in Syria
 and to reach an agreement. If we do not stop the
massacres taking place in Syria, Syria's people
 will not trust the talks in Geneva."

The Syrian official stresses that the goal behind
the "Maan massacre" on Sunday, was to kill
women and children only.

On Sunday, the opposition militants committed  a
horrible massacre in Maan village in central Syria,
killing 120 people, including women and children.



A Palestinian man in the Israeli-blockaded Gaza Strip
 has come up with a new method to light up houses
 and streets in his neighbourhood, as the Palestinian
 territory suffers massive power cuts, Press TV reports.

Hassan Saad, who is in his thirties, has launched
 a project to make use of expired and broken
batteries to produce electricity.

He has managed to provide 60 houses, several
streets, and the mosque in his neighborhood
with safe and free lights during power outages.

Saad says that he came up with the project,
 called the National Unity Network, because he
personally suffers from the power cuts and the
 prices of batteries are so high that most people
 in the coastal enclave cannot afford them.

Saad describes his project as a “message
of sympathy to raise awareness of what is
 happening to Palestinians under the blockade.”

“This project saved our lives from the danger of
 lighting candles after a number of houses were
 set on fire,” say one Gazan man.

In recent months, fuel and electricity shortages
in Gaza have worsened as the Egyptian military
has blocked supply tunnels leading into the region.
The underground tunnels serve as a lifeline for
Gaza’s population of over 1.7 million.

Gaza has been under Israeli illegal siege since
2007, a situation that has made the Gazans
 desperately dependent on goods coming
 through the tunnels.

The Palestinian Non-Governmental Organizations
 Network (PNGO), which represents more than 130
 Palestinian civil society organizations, has called
on the international community to end the
 “continuous Israeli siege.”

Several human rights organizations and civil groups
 have also criticized the Egyptian army for preventing
 the people in Gaza from accessing most of their
basic goods like construction materials, food, and fuel.


Russia Criticizes US
              Increasing Sanctions on Iran             
 Russia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs expresses
 outrage today at the US Government reprisals
 against individuals and organizations included
in new "black lists" for having traded with Iran,
and failing to comply with US unilateral bans.

Additional sanctions against Iran contradict
 what was agreed in Geneva, says a Russian
Foreign Ministry statement referring to a
 report issued by the US Treasury Department.

David Cohen, Undersecretary of the US Treasury
 Department, said the list includes countries and
 companies that support the Iranian nuclear program.

Companies and businesspeople from Turkey,
 Germany, Spain, Georgia, Afghanistan, the
United Arab Emirates, Liechtenstein and Iran
itself are included, and will now be subjected
 to repressive measures, says the Ministry.

The reprisals were taken after officials from
 over 100 French corporations and other
countries, visited Iran to boost trade ties
 under agreements reached in November.


  Palestinians Evicted from Camp,
                  Set up a New One               
 Protest camp participants in a village in
 the Jordan valley, evicted yesterday by
 Israelí soldiers, have set up another camp
 nearby, say Palestinian press reports.

The new facility is in the area of Jiftlik, north
 of the previous camp, which was stormed
on Friday night by Israelí occupying forces.

The activists, including members of foreign
human rights organizations, gathered in the
 new camp as a reaffirmation that the area
belongs to Palestine, and to neutralize the

Israeli government's plan to annex the Jordan
valley, considered vital to its national security.

In an attack against the protest camp of Ein Hajla
 on Friday, several protesters, including minors,
suffered fractures and other injuries, says Bassa
 Maslamani, a member of the Central Committee of
 the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

The increase of Israeli settlement construction and
the moving of the population to annexed land in the
 West Bank and East Jerusalem is the main cause
 of a stalemate in peace talks resumed in July, 2013.

The resumption of the protest coincides with
 figures revealed, according to which, last year
 Israel demolished 663 Palestinian houses in the
West Bank and E. Jerusalem, including 122 built
with funds provided by international aid bodies.

According to a communiqué issued by international
 assistance bodies, the figure is the highest for 5 years.



Ships from the Iranian army’s naval fleet are
 headed towards US maritime borders as part
of a longstanding protest against US vessels
 in the Persian Gulf, Fars News Agency states.

"The Iranian Army's naval fleets have already
started their voyage towards the Atlantic
 Ocean via the waters near South Africa,"
 the Commander of Iran's Northern Navy Fleet,
 Admiral Afshin Rezayee Haddad, announces.

The admiral, who also heads the Iranian Army's
 4th Naval Zone, says the ships are approaching
the US' maritime borders, “and this move has a

The agency gave no details on the number
or types of vessels deployed.

The US Navy’s 5th fleet, which is responsible
 for naval forces in the Persian Gulf, Red Sea,
Arabian Sea, and parts of the Indian Ocean,
 is based in Bahrain.

"Like the arrogant powers that are present
near our maritime borders, we will also have
 a powerful presence close to the American
marine borders," Sayyari had promised.


UK spies use sex, cyber attacks
 to discredit "targets" – Snowden leaks

Intelligence agents working for the UK have
 employed “dirty tricks” including sexual traps,
 to ensnare rival agents, hackers, suspected
terrorists, arms dealers, campaigners, political
activists and others, according to documents
leaked by Edward Snowden.

Documents leaked by the US NSA whistleblower
and published by NBC news on Friday, detail the
strategies used by the Joint Threat Research and
Intelligence Group (JTRIG), a spy unit whose
 existence has been classified, to “destroy, deny,
 degrade [and] disrupt” adversaries.

The slides, which were used in 2010 and 2012,
show that the JTRIG completes missions by
 “discrediting”, via misinformation and hacking.

The leak details two primary methods of attack
- cyber operations and propaganda efforts -
including mass messaging and the manipulation
of stories on social media platforms like Twitter,
 Flickr, Facebook, and YouTube.

The cyber-attacks are primarily denial of service
(DDoS) attacks, made famous by hackers who
overtake millions of computers and direct all
 their internet traffic to one site, overwhelming
 that URL and effectively shutting it down.

Eric King, attorney, who teaches IT law now,
 at the London School of Economics, told NBC
 it is “remarkable” that the GCHQ has become so
 adept at launching DDoS attacks without “clear
lawful authority,” and even as the UK government
 criticizes similar methods used by other states.

“GCHQ has no clear authority to send a virus
 or conduct cyber-attacks,” he says. “Hacking is
one of the most invasive methods of surveillance.”

The slides also point out that the UK's spies
are “slightly ahead” of US spies on offensive
operations and that the GCHQ has absorbed
many of the responsibilities formerly under
 the domain of the MI5 and MI6 spy agencies.

As well as "honey traps", hacking and
having people closely watched, also
mentioned in the 2010 presentation is a
 technique known as “credential harvesting”
 that manipulates journalists into giving
 false information to an intelligence target.

Whether or not the journalist would be aware of
 their role is unclear but the slides do indicate a
reporter could be used to gain access to a target,
 perhaps through an interview, and then have their
 conversation monitored by the GCHQ.

Joel Simon, executive director of the Committee
 to Protect Journalists, says that the very idea
 of “credential harvesting” should be a “wake
 up call” to media personnel.

“All journalists generally are then vulnerable to
 the charge that they work at the behest of an
 intelligence agency,” he says.


As Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, the Sudan,
Libya, all experience increased turmoil, the
Lebanon eyes its future...

A report says extremist militants are flocking
 to a Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon,
 with plans for terror attacks.

According to the report acquired by the Daily
 Star newspaper, extremist militants from
 Chechnya, Egypt, Tunisia and Syria, have
 been flooding to Ain al-Hilweh refugee camp in
 the southern port city of Sidon, since January.

They have reportedly joined the Ziad Jarrah
Brigades, part of the terrorist group, the
Abdallah Azzam Brigades.

“Lebanese security forces have received
 information that these groups entered the
 country through the border town of Arsal,”
 the report states.

The report shows that the militants have been
planning terrorist attacks to target diplomatic,
military and security institutions.

Lebanese security forces have also expressed
concern about potential attacks by militants
 against the UN Interim Force in Lebanon.

Lebanon has been embroiled in a string of deadly
 bomb attacks in recent months. Many view the
violence as a "spillover" from neighboring Syria.

Terrorist groups of the al-Nusra Front and the
 so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant
 (ISIL) operating in Syria have already claimed
responsibility for a number of the bombings
in Lebanon.


An intercepted phone conversation between
 top US officials about Ukraine suggests that
Washington has meddled inappropriately.

In a four-minute video, posted on YouTube
 by an anonymous user, US Assistant
Secretary of State Victoria Nuland and
 US ambassador to Kiev Geoffrey Pyatt
 discuss which of Ukraine’s opposition
 leaders they want to rule in Ukraine:

“I don’t think that [Vitaly] Klitschko should
 go into the government. I don’t think it is
 necessary. I don’t think it is a good idea,”
 a female voice, allegedly Nuland, said.

“In terms of him not going into government,
 just let him stay out and do his political
 homework,” a male voice, believed to be
Pyatt, replied. “In terms of the process
 moving ahead, we want to keep the
moderate democrats together,” he said.

Nuland also referred to getting the UN
 involved in the process to resolve Kiev’s
political crisis, saying UN chief Ban Ki-
moon is about to appoint Robert Serry,
the former Dutch ambassador to Kiev,
as his representative to the country.

"That would be great, I think, to help
glue this thing and have the UN glue it
 and you know, f**k the EU," she said,
 in an apparent reference to their
differences over policies.

"We've got to do something to make it
stick together, because you can be
 pretty sure that if it does start to gain
 altitude the Russians will be working
 behind the scenes to try to torpedo it,"
 Pyatt replied.

Nebojsa Malic, foreign policy expert, says:

"There is obvious evidence confirming what is
 actually going on there. Considering that there
 have been pamphlets found among the rioters,
that are exact replicas of pamphlets used
 previously in Serbia and in Egypt, offered by
the people who are on the pay roll of the US
 government through various US non-
governmental institutions and institutes."

 "If I were Klitschko, I’d be really upset. If I
were the other two leaders of the rebels,
 I’d be upset too."

"Here we have a situation where a high ranking
 official of the US government, who's even been
to Kiev distributing cookies to demonstrators back
 when they were still relatively peaceful, refers to
 these guys as "Klitch," "Yatsy" and "Tiny Bock."

 I would be seriously upset. I'd consider it an insult."

The date and precise context of the
 recording are not known yet, but
 according to some reports, the call
was made last month, based on
references in the conversation.

State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki
 refused to comment on the taped conversation.

 However, she did not deny the authenticity of
 the recording, saying Nuland has called EU
officials to apologize for dismissing the
European Union in such crude terms.

As US officials visited Kiev, Putin’s economic
advisor, Sergey Glazyev, said the situation
in Ukraine is "an attempted coup", adding
that Moscow enjoys legal grounds to
intervene in the country’s crisis.

"According to our information, US sources
 spend $20 million a week on financing the
 opposition & rebels, including on weapons,"
he told the Ukrainian edition of Russian
 newspaper Kommersant.

"We have information that the militants are
 briefed on the territory of the US Embassy,
that they are being armed. Of course it is
 unacceptable, this has to be looked into,"
 he said.

Glazyev quoted the Budapest Memorandum
 on Security Assurances dating back to 1994,
adding that Russia has legal grounds to
intervene in the crisis.

"According to this document, Russia and the
US are guarantors of Ukraine's sovereignty
 and territorial integrity and frankly speaking
 they are obliged to intervene when such
 conflicts arise," Putin’s advisor point out.


 An Israeli lawmaker says the Likud party plans
 to propose a bill that will officially annex all
illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank.

Miri Regev, from PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud
party, said on February 4th that the bill is aimed at
 keeping  the settlements under Israeli rule, no
 matter what future develops.

The controversial bill also bars Tel Aviv from
 restricting settlement construction for
"diplomatic reasons".

The Israeli Ministerial Committee for Legislation
 is expected to discuss the proposal on February 9.
If passed, the law would be a new obstacle to the
 talks with the Palestinian Authority.

In December 2013, the Israeli cabinet panel
endorsed another law proposed by Regev, to
annex the Jordan Valley.

Israel’s illegal settlement expansion on
occupied Palestinian land, is one of the
sticking points in the talks with the PA.

The Palestinians demand that East al-Quds
(Jerusalem) be their capital and that Israel
recognize borders based on the 1967 lines,
which existed before the Six-Day War, when
 Israel captured the West Bank and East al-Quds.

Tel Aviv, however, has refused to return to the
1967 borders and is unwilling to discuss al-Quds.
It also wants to keep the settlements it has built
 in occupied Palestinian territories.

Israel also wants to keep its military presence
in the Jordan Valley under any deal, but the
 Palestinians say an international force should
be stationed there to guarantee security.


European Union Blocks Russian
                Transnational Gas Pipeline               
 Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov denounces
 the European Union's plans to "review" agreements
 signed between Moscow and seven EU members
 participating in the South Flow gas pipeline.

Lavrov expresses concern and astonishment about
 the EU's decision to "reconsider" intergovernmental
agreements between Moscow and Austria, Bulgaria,
 Croatia, Slovenia, Greece, Hungary and Serbia on
the pipeline that will carry 63 billion cubic meters
of gas a year.

The head of Russian diplomacy warns that
Brussels' purpose is to homologate treaties
with the so-called Third Strategic Package
of the EU.

That document is aimed at limiting Russia's role
 to a mere supplier of hydrocarbons and to veto
 its participation in fuel distribution within Europe.

Lavrov underlines that the pipeline is Russia's
 contribution to European energy security, as
 it allows route diversification of gas transport
  on the continent.

He condemns EU legislation for preventing
 implementation of bilateral agreements,
which, he says, are an inalienable part of
international law and therefore cannot be
reviewed unilaterally.



The US has been pressuring India to use their
 influence over Karzai to persuade him to sign
 the Bilateral Security Agreement with the US,
 which would allow US troops to stay in
 Afghanistan beyond the end of 2014.

James Dobbins, the US special representative
 for Afghanistan and Pakistan, one week before
Karzai reached India, testified before a Senate
 committee that he hoped India would persuade
 Karzai to sign the BSA.

Dobbins said the withdrawal of US troops from
Afghanistan would push the country into civil war
and warned that such a scenario would lead to a
 "rise in extremist groups, outflow of refugees and
disruptions in commerce that would threaten the
region as a whole."

The US diplomat even cautioned Karzai thus:
"We try to tell him that American opinion isn't
 exactly where he thinks it is, and that he is
 playing with fire."

Dobbins remarks: "His upcoming visit to India
could, I think, be quite influential, because he
highly respects and has good relations with
 the Indian government."

The US wanted Karzai to fall in line and sign
 the BSA by 31 December, 2013. But it has still
not been signed and Karzai has bluntly told the
 US that he won’t be signing on the dotted line,
 as the US expects and wants.

Russia, China and India differ with the US view,
primarily because of their concerns about the
 deadly web of Islamist terrorism that the US's
policies may weave for the region.

India and Russia are now working on a deal
 to ensure that Russian military technology
 reaches Afghanistan to fight terrorist forces,
 while India pays for these military supplies.

A new strategic paradigm is rapidly evolving in
 India’s backyard. The US influence in the region
is clearly waning while Russia, India, and China
 are on the ascendence.


Israel's approval of new settlement
 units outrages Palestinians
Palestinians are infuriated by an announcement
by Israel's ministry of housing that it is tendering
 for 1, 200 housing units in Israeli settlements in
 East Jerusalem and the West Bank, saying that
 the decision will derail the already fragile peace
negotiations between the two sides.

Israeli Radio reports that 800 units will be built
in the settlements in East Jerusalem and another
400 units in the West Bank.

The news of the new tenders comes as Israeli and
 Palestinian negotiators, along with US mediators,
are scheduled to hold a new round of direct talks
 in Jerusalem tommorrow (Wednesday).

Mohamed Ishtaya, a Palestinian negotiator, told
Xinhua that the Israeli decision is a deliberate blow
 to international and US efforts exerted to achieve
 peace in the region, adding "peace and settlements
 are contradictory and can never meet."

He warns that Israel "is only interested in keeping
 on illegally building," adding "the Israeli government
 is ignoring all the efforts to revive the peace process
and make real peace in the region."

Halting settlement construction was a major condition
 demanded by the Palestinians for resuming the stalled
 peace talks. They
are now hoping that the US Secretary
 of State John Kerry, will intervene and ask the Israeli
government to end its settlement expansion, which
 is illegal under international law.

Kerry has earlier considered the building of settlements
 as an obstacle to the peace process, however, he hasn't
 officially ask Israel to stop.

"Israel is trying to empty the content of US-sponsored
 peace negotiations before they are really launched,"
 says Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the executive
 committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization.

 "After this, I don't believe that Palestinians are in
 need of any meaningless negotiations with Israel."

She accuses Israeli of trying to escape from any
political commitments. "Israel is giving a priority
 to the program of its coalition of fanatics, at the
 expense of the Palestinian people's legitimate
 rights and at the expense of the requirements
of peace," she says, referring to the pro-
settlement political lobby in Israel.

On Sunday, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas
 and the US special peace envoy to the Middle East,
Martin Indyk, met in Ramallah, to prepare for the
 next round of peace talks.


Afghan Government Agrees to Break with NATO

The National Security Council (NSC) of Afghanistan,
led by President Hamid Karzai, has agreed to end
 collaboration with NATO, it says in a communiqué.

The decision was made after delegates heard reports
 from the NSC's advisor; Rangin Dadfar Spanta, on the
of negotiations with the North Atlantic Alliance.

The declaration issued by the Afghan President's Office
 stresses that the covenant will only progress if Kabul's
 interests are taken into account and ratified immediately.

The rejected agreement is one key element
 within the necessary juridical framework for
 deployment of a mission led by NATO aimed
 at training, advising and supporting Afghan
 forces, after 2014.

Realization of a NATO/Afghanistan agreement
 is taking a long time, because of the delayed
 signing of a US-Afghanistan security agreement,
 to which, president Karzai has put conditions.

Among other conditions, the head of state demands
 the release of Afghans imprisoned in Guantanamo,
a total stop to military operations against Afghans
and a guarantee that the treaty will ensure peace.

NATO's Secretary General, Anders Fogh Rasmussen,
 says that if the two agreements "disappear", NATO
 troops will withdraw completely IN 2014.



Jordan’s FM: Jordan Will Not
 Recognize Israel As Jewish State

Jordan’s Foreign Minister Nasser Jawda,
 says Jordan is against recognizing Israel
 as a Jewish state and Jordan will not be
 an alternative home for Palestinians,
Alray Palestinian news agency reports.

Speaking to parliament in a session on
 US Secretary of State John Kerry’s peace
 plan, Jawda repeats that Jordan will not
 be an "alternative home for anybody."

"There are no formulas or US documents written
 to solve the Arab-Israeli conflict, but a framework
 agreement," he stresses, noting that "it is up to
 Palestinians and Israelis to sign it, or not."

"Jordan is integrally involved in and has a big
 role in the Palestinian-Israeli talks," he adds.

Jawda stresses that Jordan is not absent from
 the peace negotiations and will not accept any
 solution that contradicts its country’s interests
or national security. He adds "Jordan will not
 negotiate on behalf of Palestinians, regarding
 their envisioned state’s borders with Israel."

Jawda describes US efforts to push peace talks
 between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA)
as a "serious attempt" to reach tangible results.

Martin Indyk, the US Special Envoy for Israeli-
Palestinian Negotiations, has already revealed
 that Kerry’s framework agreement addresses
 compensation for Palestinian refugees but does
 not say anything about a Palestinian refugees'
 right of return.

Indyk DOES say, that a brand new security zone is
to be created between Jordan and the West Bank,
 with fences, sensors and unmanned aerial vehicles.

Kerry's peace plan, which will be public within
 weeks, involves a "semi-cancellation" of  the
Palestinian refugees' right of return, which will
transfer the problem over to Jordan, half of
whose population are of Palestinian origin,
 and 15% do not hold Jordanian citizenship.



Israeli Finance Minister
 Suspends Settlement Funds

Israeli Finance Minister Yair Lapid has
decided to suspend the transfer of public
 funds to West Bank settlements, pending
a probe into their alleged misuse, his
office says.

Lapid's move came after it emerged that some
 funds earmarked for compensating West Bank
 communities were transferred to the settlement
 leadership for political activity, a ministry
statement says.

The funds were intended for security and the
maintenance of schools and kindergartens.

But after it emerged the funds were "allegedly
 being illegally channeled to the Yesha Council,
 which used the money for political activities
 - including against the government - Lapid
ordered the
future funding cut immediately,
under this clause," his office statement says.

The minister has ordered an investigation
into the matter, it adds.



Israel is rejecting warnings by the US
that it could face a growing boycott, if
the peace talks between Israel and the
Palestinian Authority fail.

Yesterday, Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu
 called the boycott threats by US Secretary
 of State John Kerry “immoral and unjust,”
 adding that no pressure would force him
to renounce Israel’s “vital interests.”

Earlier, two Israeli ministers lashed out at
 Kerry over his remarks, made at the 50th
Munich Security Conference in Germany.

Speaking at the conference, Kerry warned that
 the boycott campaign against Israel will intensify
 if talks fail between the Israelis and Palestinians.

He also said that “Israel's security” is an illusion
 that is bound to change if the talks fail.

Israel has faced a widening boycott campaign
 by some European businesses over its illegal
settlements on occupied Palestinian land.


Terrorist Groups in Syria Treat over
700 of Their Injured in Israeli Hospital

The Israeli army has erected a field hospital
on the Golan Heights to treat injured militants
belonging to the terrorist groups in Syria.

These groups have treated over 700 of their
 injured militants in the Israeli hospital, say
 Israeli media outlets.

The Zionist army has stopped media outlets
 from broadcasting the activities of the field
hospital until now, yet allowed Channel 2 to
a report about it to promote it as a
"humane Israeli step towards the Syrians."

The report mainly focused on Israeli intentions
 behind treating the militants, saying that the
Israelis aim is to strengthen and deepen their
 relations with the terrorist groups in Syria, to
 keep the calm and stability which presently
 prevails between these groups and Israel,
the Palestinian-Syrian borders.

The report included interviews with
militants, one of whom stated:

"Zionism is not
macabre, as it has
been portrayed by the
Syrian regime."

"The regime used to force us to believe that
our enemy is all the surrounding world, yet,
after the beginning of the revolution, we
recognized our real friends and enemies."



Tel Aviv's current regime cannot stop the
 growing international anti-Israel boycott
 campaign over Israeli settlement building
on occupied Palestinian territories, an
official admits.

The Israeli Foreign Ministry official, whose name
 is not mentioned in the report, admits on Sunday
 that Europe will continue to ban Israel as long as
it persists with settlements on Palestinian land.

“We cannot truly fight against the will to boycott us,”
 says the official, adding, “There is no way to explain
 the fundamental issue that troubles even our most
prominent companies in the world. It is impossible
 to face the subject of boycotts while not facing
 the subject of settlements. That is the truth.”

There's a “boycott fashion in Europe against Israel”
 and “as long as Israel continues to build, this will
 persist and it will be difficult to prevent, without
 handling this political issue,” the official said.

The comments came after two of Europe’s biggest
 financial institutions boycotted transactions with
Israeli companies engaged in the
construction of
settlements on occupied Palestinian land.

The EU has also blocked all grants and funding to
 any Israeli entity based in the illegal settlements.

The American Studies Association has also announced
 a decision to boycott Israeli institutions and academics
 over the discriminatory treatment of Palestinians.

Israelis are frustrated by the boycott campaign and
Cabinet ministers will hold a meeting next week in
 an attempt to find a strategy to counter the boycotts.

The presence and continued expansion of Israeli
settlements in occupied Palestinian territories,
 has created a major obstacle to efforts being
made to establish peace in the Middle East.

Over half a million Israelis live in more than 120
illegal settlements built since Israel’s occupation
 of the Palestinian territories of the West Bank
and East al-Quds in 1967.


US fighting in more countries
than ever before - Hagel says

US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel warns
 that China and Russia are challenging the US
 as they invest in their military capabilities.

“The most persistent and pressing security
challenges to Europe and the US are global,”
 he says at the Munich Security Conference,
the most important transatlantic security
 gathering, on Saturday.

“Nations such as China and Russia are rapidly
 modernizing their militaries and global defense
 industries, challenging our technological edge
 and defense partnerships around the world.”

The Pentagon chief, addressing the conference
 with Secretary of State John Kerry, says that
 the US military is reorganizing, to deal with
all these new "threats".

And, notes Hagel, the US is expanding its
 military across the world, more than before.

“I would venture to say, that the US is more
 present, doing more things in more places
today than maybe ever before,” Hagel says.

“How we’re doing it is different,” he adds.

(Yes - murder by special forces, and the
backing of Saudi Takfiri terrorist gangs,
plus using CIA run illegal killer drones,

and accelerated armament production!)

New research shows that the United States,
Canada and some W. European countries
 topped the list of arms producers in 2012.

The Stockholm International Peace Research
 Institute (SIPRI) says in its report that, of the
top 100 arms manufacturers, 42 are based in
the US, one in Canada, and 30 in West Europe.

Arms producers in the US and Western Europe
account for almost 90% of world weapons sales,
the Sweden-based research institute says.

Russia increased its production by 28% in 2013.


Afghanistan: Blast Kills Three NATO Soldiers

Three soldiers with NATO die after a blast
in the Afghan province of Helmand,
a local government spokesperson of
Omar Zwak, informs the media.

The source notes that the deceased
soldiers were from Denmark.

The soldiers were killed by an explosive device
 activated by remote control as a NATO convoy
passed through the area.

The Danish army leadership underlines that
 other soldiers were injured due to the blast
and are currently hospitalized.


CELAC Declares Latin America
              and the Caribbean a Peace Zone              
 Latin America and the Caribbean are declared
 a Peace Zone region at CELAC's Second
 Summit in Havana.

Cuban president Raúl Castro read the declaration
ratifying CELAC countries' commitment to comply
 with the goals and principles laid down by the
 UN Charter and international law.

He says the region's prosperity & stability
 contributes to world peace and security.

"We are aware peace is a greater good and a
 rightful wish for all nations, & its preservation
is fundamental to the integration of L. America
 & the Caribbean; & a CELAC common principle
 and value" the document reads.

The text also highlights the relevance of the
Tlatelolco Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear
 Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean,
 establishing the world's first nuclear weapon
 free zone in a highly populated area, and
representing a contribution to regional
and international peace and security.

The document reiterates the need for a
general and complete nuclear disarmament.

Castro recalls UNASUR heads of state's decision
 to strengthen South America as a Cooperation
 and Peace Zone.

The declaration reaffirms "our commitment that
Latin America and the Caribbean consolidate
as a peace zone, where differences among
nations are solved peacefully, through dialogue
 and negotiation, according to international law".

The Cuban president says the peace zone includes
 the international organizations to which member
states belong.

The document confirms a permanent commitment
 to find peaceful solutions to conflicts, in order to
 ban the threat or use of force in the region, as
 well as the obligation not to intervene, directly
 or indirectly, in other states' internal affairs.

It also calls for observance of the principles
 of national sovereignty, equal rights and
peoples' self-determination.

The text insists on the need to foster friendly
 and cooperative relations, regardless of political,
 economic or social systems or level of development.

The text commits and urges 33 State members to
act according to the signed declaration in their
 international conduct & relations between members.


Cuba Calls to Overcome
                Obstacles to World Peace at UN               
 Cuba at the United Nations, calls on us all
 to remove the obstacles to the realization
 of lasting world peace, such as the old
interests of domination and colonialism;
 and to solve or remove social problems.

It is not enough to desire peace or create
 agencies and mechanisms to try to implement it,
 it's necessary to eradicate the causes conspiring
 against it, says Cuba's Deputy Permanent
Representative, Oscar Leon, speaking at an open
 debate of the UN Security Council on peacekeeping.

Leon defends the urgency of coordinated efforts
 by the international community to overcome the
 dangers posed by hegemonic and imperialist
 domination, acts of aggression, the plundering
 of natural resources and colonial and neo-
colonial strategies.

"We must also replace the current unjust and
 exclusive international order, and find ways
 to drop unequal exchange, discrimination,
xenophobia, interventionism and violations
 of the right to self-determination", he says.

Regarding social issues, Leon states that
 conflict prevention must also involve the
elimination of poverty, unemployment,
hunger and inequality.

During the debate entitled Maintaining International
 Peace and Security, Cuba reiterates the importance
 of respecting the principles of the UN Charter and
 international law, which stipulate the sovereign
 equality of states, peaceful settlement of disputes
 and non use of force.



German Chancellor Angela Merkel joined
some European authorities, putting her weight
 behind anti-government, pro-EU protesters in
 Ukraine, irrespective of calls for outsiders
not to intervene.

"They are fighting for the same values that
 guide the European Union, and that is why
they must be listened to," Merkel said.

"We support, with all the means at our disposal,
 efforts for a peaceful solution of the conflict and
 the justified demands of the opposition," she said.

Merkel’s speech supporting the opposition
came straight after Russian President Putin
called on outsiders not to interfere in
internal affairs.



An Egyptian criminal court has decided to again
the trial of ousted President Mohamed Morsi
130 others, state television reports.


Top lawyer to MPs: GCHQ mass surveillance largely illegal

A substantial part of GCHQ’s dragnet snooping
 program is most likely illegal and was approved
by government ministers despite breaching
human rights and surveillance laws, a legal
analysis requested by British MPs has found,
The Guardian reports.

In a 32-page opinion, leading public law barrister
Jemima Stratford QC warns that the UK's primary
 surveillance law is vague to the point of allowing
 intelligence agencies to ignore privacy safeguards
 laid out by the European Convention on Human
Rights (ECHR).

The advice cited by The Guardian, says that the
 murkiness of UK law has created a situation where
 GCHQ staff are able to rely on “gaps in the current
statutory framework to commit serious crime
 with impunity."

The paper explicitly warns that GCHQ staff who
passed on intelligence which was later used in
the commission of a US drone strike against
“non-combatants” could face dire consequences.

"An individual involved in passing that information
 is likely to be an accessory to murder. It is well
arguable, on a variety of different bases, that the
 government is obliged to take reasonable steps
 to investigate that possibility," The Guardian
cites the advice as saying.

The opinion also suggests that the UK might well
consider publishing a Memorandum of Understanding
with any country it shares intelligence with, which
could clarify what the data is used for under UK law,
and outline how the data would be stored & destroyed.

All 46 members of the all-party parliamentary group
on drones, chaired by Labour MP Tom Watson, were
 sent the legal advice.

The cross-party parliamentary group reportedly
 sought the legal advice after receiving reports
 that the CIA relied on NSA surveillance to
conduct the CIA’s clandestine drone program.

The advice, based on five hypothetical scenarios,
found multiple areas in which the GCHQ had
 legally overstepped its bounds under the
Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA)
 which establishes the powers of public bodies to
 carry out surveillance and investigation.

- GCHQ is not allowed to intercept “internal” contents
data between two British residents under RIPA,
even if the data is routed via a transatlantic cable;

- GCHQ can intercept metadata and “external”
contents data under RIPA, although this is
considered a disproportionate interference
with Article 8 of the ECHR;

- The executive has retained a largely
unrestrained discretion to permit the
 transfer of UK data to the NSA under RIPA;

- RIPA does not place any restriction on
the uses to which intercept material might
 be put, other than its admissibility in court;

- The current framework for the retention,
 use and destruction of metadata is
 inadequate and potentially unlawful.

- The government has an obligation to
 investigate & prevent UK agents, visiting
 forces and visiting agents, becoming
“accidental” accessories to murder
under domestic law, if data or facilities
 are knowingly given to the US, even
though it will be used in a drone strike
 that is most likely unlawful under UK law;

The advice also noted that RIPA has been
 left behind as advances in technology have
 rendered virtually meaningless the difference
 between “contents” and “communications” data.

It says RIPA gives “too wide a discretion"
 to UK Foreign Secretary William Hague, and
 "provides almost no meaningful restraint on the
 exercise of executive discretion in respect of
external communications."

Such surveillance may also be a breach
of the ECHR, it adds.

"We consider the mass interception of external
contents and communications data is unlawful.
The indiscriminate interception of data, solely
by reference to the request of the executive,
 is a disproportionate interference with the
 private life of the individuals concerned."

In June 2013, media reports using thousands
of documents leaked by NSA whistleblower
 Edward Snowden extensively detailed the
surveillance activities of GCHQ and its
larger US counterpart, the NSA.

One of the key revelations focused on
 Operation Tempora, a GCHQ program
that mines vast amounts of information
 by tapping into undersea cables that
carry internet and phone traffic passing
 in and out of the UK.

GCHQ and Hague, have repeatedly insisted
 the agency acts in accordance with the law.

Last year, Hague told MPs: "It has been
suggested GCHQ uses our partnership with
 the US to get around UK law, obtaining
 information that they cannot legally
 obtain in the UK. I wish to be absolutely
 clear that this accusation is baseless."

GCHQ also maintains all its work is "carried
out in accordance with a strict legal and
policy framework which ensures that our
 activities are authorized, necessary and
proportionate, and that there is rigorous
oversight, including from the secretary of
 state, the interception and intelligence
Services commissioners and the
 parliamentary intelligence and security

Last week, however, the ECHR ordered UK
 ministers to provide submissions on mass
 GCHQ’s surveillance programs to determine
whether they had violated the European
convention on human rights.

Meanwhile, as GCHQ chief Iain Lobban announces
 he will step down by year’s end, the Foreign Office
 officially denies that his departure was linked to
public anger over the Snowden revelations.


UN chief hails new gov't in Central African Republic
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomes
 the establishment of a new government in the CAR,
 saying this "offers a fresh opportunity to move the
political process forward" in the war-torn country.

Ban congratulates interim President Catherine
Samba-Panza and PM Andre Nzapayeke for their
 efforts to put the transition back on track, says
 a statement issued by Ban's spokesperson.

The CAR put in a caretaker government Monday
in a bid to pull the country out of its crisis and
organize general elections by February 2015.

The secretary-general, currently in Cuba for a CELAC
 summit, repeats the readiness of the UN to support
 CAR transitional authorities in their efforts to ensure
 the security and the welfare of the people, the
 statement says.

Ban says he "remains deeply concerned about
 the ongoing sectarian violence in the country
 and the humanitarian crisis that affects over
 half of the population."

"He calls for determined national and international
 efforts to stop the violence & overcome the crisis,"
 adds the statement.

"The secretary-general reiterates the importance of
 ensuring the success of the African-led International
Support Mission to the Central African Republic
(MISCA), which is playing a critical role in providing
 security on the ground," the statement says.

"He appeals once again to all those in a position to
 do so, to provide financial and in-kind assistance
 to MISCA and to announce their contributions at
 the MISCA donor conference in Addis Ababa,
Ethiopia, on 1 February," it adds.

The secretary-general appreciates the timely
 adoption of a new Security Council resolution
on the CAR which reinforces the mandate of the
UN peace-building mission in the country.

 BINUCA provides for sanctions on individuals
 involved in violations of human rights and of
 the arms embargo, and authorizes the EU's troop
deployment to the country, the statement says.

"The Council's sustained engagement will be crucial
 to the efforts of the United Nations to restore peace
and stability in the country," it says.

Ethnic tensions in the north of the CAR and the
 presence of the Lord's Resistance Army, an
armed group known for its brutal tactics, have
 added to instability, which has crippled the
 country for decades and driven people away
 from their homes.

The United Nations has been supporting the CAR
 for over a decade. Efforts on the ground are led by
 the BINUCA, a field office of the UN Department
 of Political Affairs.

The BINUCA operates under a mandate from the
 Security Council to help consolidate peace, foster
national reconciliation, and strengthen democratic
 institutions, as well as strengthening the promotion
 and protection of human rights.

Plagued by decades of instability and fighting,
the CAR witnessed a resurgence of violence
 last December when Seleka rebels launched a
series of attacks, culminating in March when then
 President Francois Bozize was forced to flee the
city as they seized control of the capital.

A transitional government, headed by PM Nicolas
 Tiangaye, was entrusted with restoring law and
order, and paving the way for democratic elections.

On January 10th, 2013, the interim President
 Michel Djotodia resigned... as did Tiangaye.

Armed clashes in the northeast part of the country
having increased since August 2013, the CAR now
 faces a dire humanitarian situation, affecting some
 4.6 million people.

In early December, the UN Security Council
 authorized the deployment of French and
African troops to restore order in Bangui.



New elections are to take place "soon".


2014 will see Gitmo close, says Obama

US President Obama vowed Tuesday night
 in his State of the Union address, to use all
 his executive powers to push his agenda, if
Congress doesn’t agree with his priorities.

In his address before a joint session of Congress
 with millions of Americans watching on television,
 Obama put urgency behind his pledge to close the
 Guantanamo Bay prison, saying:

 “With the Afghan war ending, this needs to be
 the year Congress lifts the remaining restrictions
 on detainee transfers and we close the prison
 at Guantanamo Bay.”


Israeli Occupiers Arrest Dozens
                  of Palestinians in West Bank               
 Israeli troops arrested, early this morning, in
 West Bank cities, 22 men accused of terrorist
 activities, and the government spokesperson
refrained from identifying them.

The troops, reinforced by gun vehicles, burst into
 civilian homes in Au Dis, al Eirariya, E. Jerusalem,
 Beita and Urif,  Hani Halabiyyah, spokesperson of
 the Youth Movement in occupied Jerusalem,
 tells the press.

Various houses were invaded by troops that,
 before entering, shot tear grenades at will,
 say witnesses.

 After the raids, during which there were clashes
with the local population, soldiers pasted fliers to
 the walls with photos of detainees and their families,
 warning them of reprisals that will affect their lives.

The method was abundantly used by Nazi troops
 in the cities they occupied during World War II,
like public executions, to terrify the populations,
she recalls.



Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
 is failing to keep his government in order,
 as US Secretary of State John Kerry
pushes the peace negotiations.

Over the past few days Netanyahu has been
accused by Justice Minister and peace talks
chief negotiator Tzipi Livni, of not negotiating
 with the Palestinians in good faith.

 Livni claims that Netanyahu is only conducting
 the negotiations to expose Palestinians as
the rejecters of peace.

Naftali Bennet, chair of the powerful right-wing
 HaBayit HaYehudi (The Jewish Home) party, is now
publicly criticizing Netanyahu's proposal, which calls
 for Jewish settlers to become citizens of a future
Palestinian state, instead of being relocated.

Netanyahu, most experts argue, has basically
been trying to buy time, as much as possible.
But now, because of Kerry's efforts, he is at
the point where he has to give clear answers.

If the Palestinians say yes, even conditionally,
Netanyahu will have to declare his own position
and then he might lose his coalition and have to
 form a new one, or go to elections.

Kerry is expected to present a framework for
 a final peace deal within a couple of weeks.

When he announced last year that negotiations
 were to be resumed, a nine-month timeframe
 was outlined that is scheduled to end in March.


'Gitmo' must close during Obama's
 term - Russian Foreign Ministry

Guantanamo Bay detention facility should
 be closed down before President Barack
 Obama leaves power, insists Russia’s
 Foreign Ministry.

 A Russian delegation that recently
 inspected the facility, saw grave
violations of basic human rights.

“Our visit to Guantanamo has convinced us
 all over again that this so-called prison must
 be shut down at the earliest possible time,”
says the Russian Foreign Ministry's
 Commissioner for Human Rights,
 Konstantin Dolgov, at a media briefing.

“It is an installation where fundamental
 human rights are brazenly violated,” he says.

According to Dolgov, the 155 inmates currently
 imprisoned in Guantanamo, are denied fair justice.

“We have a resolute desire to shut this prison
 down before President Obama leaves office,”
says Dolgov, and calls on the US authorities to
 “redouble efforts” to make this come true.

On January 17th, a delegation of high-ranking
Russian diplomats and representatives of the
judicial system was allowed to into Guantanamo
 Bay prison, in an unprecedented move by the US.

It took 3 years of negotiations between
 Russian and US diplomats, before this
 historic visit could take place.

The Russian visitors toured the facility and
 spoke to the commanders of the detention
 centre, along with senior representatives
 of the US Defense Dept.

The delegation was allowed to talk to the
 only Russian citizen in Guantanamo, Ravil
 Mingazov - arrested in Pakistan in 2002.
He has been detained in 'Gitmo' prison
 for over a decade, without charge.

The delegation’s basic aim was to ensure
Mingazov’s earliest possible release, and
 there is a good chance that US authorities
 will review Mingazov’s case soon.

“We will continue our contacts with the US
 administration on that issue,” promises the
 Commissioner for Human Rights, adding that
 Russia “would welcome it if all Guantanamo
prisoners were freed along with the Russian
citizen (Mingazov).”

Konstantin Dolgov told journalists that the
Obama administration is “firmly resolved” to
 shut down the Guantanamo detention facility
and “turn over this page of American history.”

In 2013 the Obama administration was forced to
 re-focus its attention on Guantanamo Bay prison
 after a majority of detainees went on hunger strike.
At its peak in July last year, 106 of the then 166
 detainees were on hunger strike, with 45 of
 them being force-fed.

The hunger strike sparked a worldwide debate
 on the future of Guantanamo, pushing the US
 Obama administration to find a solution to
this humiliating judicial "entanglement".


   Raúl Castro Highlights Optimism and
                Confidence in Cuba's Socialist Future             
 Cuban president Raúl Castro says the
container terminal at Mariel Port, and
 the infrastructure accompanying it,
 are a concrete example of the
 optimism and confidence with which
Cubans see a socialist and
 prosperous future.

Together with Brazilian president Dilma
Rousseff, the Cuban leader cut the ribbon
 and officially inaugurated the first section
 covering 700 km.

The president stressed the importance of
the opening of the container terminal on
National Hero José Martí's anniversary
 and in the context of the Second Summit
 of the Community of Latin American and
Caribbean States (CELAC).

The Cuban president thanked all designers,
builders, investors, national & international
operators, who concluded an arduous task
 to finish the terminal, which is now part of
 the Cuban and Latin American port system.

He also recalled the important funding on
 advantageous terms provided by Brazil
during President Luiz Inacio Lula da
 Silva's administration.

On behalf of all Cubans, he thanked President
 Rousseff for her country's solidarity and aid,
on such a significant project for the Cuban
and Latin American economy.

He highlighted that Mariel container terminal
will be operated by one of the world's largest
 port operators, bringing the expectation
 that efficiency, security and quality
services, will be guaranteed.

He said Mariel Special Development Zone
will become the main gateway for Cuba's
foreign trade, and a chance to drive the
nation's economy with its aim to replace
imports, raise exports, create jobs and
 gain access to cutting-edge technology.

Other regional leaders in Cuba for
 CELAC, also attended the inauguration.


Geneva Convention after Attacks

Ukraine's State Service for Exceptional Situations
 invoked the Geneva Convention of 1949 - on the
need to safeguard civilians - after attacks by
anti-government extremists on public servants.

"We call for the work of firefighters and other
 forces to not be hindered, including that of
physicians and members of religious sects
 that are working to put out fires and save
lives endangered in the middle of a conflict
that began in Kiev, but has already spread
to other regions," said their communique.

"Such negative actions by radical protesters
 are criminal and have already caused seven
 injuries to first-responders in recent days,"
 said the communique sent to the media.

The statement called on those participating
 in the clashes to act with responsibility and
avoid using direct fire in places where large
 numbers of people were gathered.

Vitali Zajarchenko, then Minister of the Interior,
in a statement on the ministry's website,
that radical demonstrators had stored
amounts of a liquid with properties similar

 to napalm.

Hundreds of police officers were
injured in the Maidan riots in Kiev ...
 118 of them hospitalized, with head
 injuries, fractures, burns, stab wounds
 and poisoning by unidentified substances.



Egypt’s military officials have approved the
army chief, Field Marshal Abdel Fattah el-Sisi,
as a candidate to run for president later this
year, state media says.

The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces
 (SCAF) met for several hours on Monday
 to discuss the country’s security situation, 
and Sisi’s nomination for the presidency.

"The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces,
by consensus mandated the defense minister
 to stand in presidential elections,” the state
 media news agency says.

The statement came just hours after Egypt’s
interim President Adly Mansour promoted
 Sisi to Marshal - the military’s highest rank.

Shortly after the announcement, Egypt’s
 deputy Prime Minister Ziad Bahaa El-Din
 resigned from his post in protest against
 Sisi’s candidacy.

Experts say Sissi may sweep the vote due to
 a lack of alternatives, as well as full support
 from Egypt's media including the lack of any
 criticism of the general allowed in the country.

Tens of thousands of MB activists
 and their supporters staged nationwide
demonstrations on Saturday to mark the
anniversary of the 2011 revolution that
toppled former dictator Hosni Mubarak.

They demand Morsi’s reinstatement now,
and the release of Muslim Brotherhood
members arrested by police.


Mikdad: Assad to Remain President
Until Syrian People Say Otherwise

Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mikdad
 stresses that only the Syrian people can
 decide President Bashar al-Assad's future.

During a press conference on the sidelines of
 the Geneva II conference on Syria, Mikdad says
 Assad will remain president unless the people
decide otherwise at the next election.

"The president of the Syrian Arab Republic stays
 until the Syrian people says something else,"
he says, stating the government position that
Assad can stay and win another election.

"This is a red line. If some people think we
are coming here to give them the keys of
Damascus, they are wrong," he adds.

Mikdad also says that those seeking to
 demonize the Syrian government have
 misled the international media.

The Syrian official says international public
 opinion and the world's media have been
misguided in every possible way since
unrest broke out almost 3 years ago.

He says the government delegation has a
sincere desire to resolve the Syrian crisis
and end the bloodshed there.

Meanwhile, a main highway has been retaken
from terrorists and dozens of families return to
 their houses in Barzeh neighborhood in Damascus
after accomplishing national reconciliation.

The families had run away leaving their houses in
 Barzeh neighborhood after acts by armed terrorists.

The families re-entered their houses after the
authorities in Damascus province restored
 all services and repaired the infrastructure.



Sisi is "promoted" to Marshal Sisi
- by the President he appointed.

Egypt will hold presidential elections
before any parliamentary polls, the
interim President, Adly Mansour,
also announces, on Sunday.

The decision runs contrary to a roadmap
imposed  by the Egyptian Army, after it
deposed Egypt's first democratically
 elected President, Mohamed Morsi, in
 July, 2013, after mass protests.

 According to Egypt’s new constitution, a
 presidential vote is to be held before the
second half of April this year.


West complicit in Egypt’s mass murder

The Egyptian Health Ministry says over 50
 people have been killed and 100s injured
 in the country in clashes between security
 forces, opponents and supporters of ousted
 President Mohamed Morsi.

On Saturday, tens of thousands of Muslim
 Brotherhood activists and their supporters
staged nationwide demonstrations to mark
the anniversary of the 2011 revolution that
 toppled former dictator Hosni Mubarak.

The demonstrators want Morsi’s reinstatement
 and demanded that Brotherhood activists be
 released after being arrested by police. They
chanted slogans against army chief, General
Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

Clashes between protesters and security forces
 broke out in several cities. Police used violent
force against demonstrators.

 A number of pro-coup protesters also attacked
Morsi’s supporters with stones and bullets.

Deaths were reported in the cities of Cairo,
Alexandria, Giza and Minya. Most fatalities
 occurred in the capital and its suburbs.

At least 300 protesters were reportedly
 arrested across the nation.

Egypt has been experiencing unrelenting
 violence since July 3, when the army toppled
Morsi’s government, suspended the constitution,
 and dissolved the parliament. It also appointed
 the head of the Supreme Constitutional Court,
Adly Mahmoud Mansour, as an interim president.

The interim government has launched a bloody
 crackdown on Morsi’s supporters and arrested
 thousands of Brotherhood members, including
 the party’s senior leaders.

Egyptian universities have also been the scene
 of violent clashes, with students calling for
 the reinstatement of Morsi and demanding an
 end to the crackdown on Brotherhood supporters.

On December 25th, the military-appointed
 government listed the MB as a “terrorist”
 organization over alleged involvement in
 a deadly bombing, without investigating
 the case, or providing any evidence.

Amnesty International has criticized
the Egyptian authorities for using an
 “unprecedented scale” of violence on
 protesters and dealing “a series of
damaging blows to human rights.”

According to the UK-based rights group, 1,400
 people have been killed in political violence
 since Morsi’s ouster, "most of them due to
excessive force used by security forces."



A senior Iranian military commander has
dismissed US Sec. of State John Kerry’s
 latest threat of military action against Iran
 over its nuclear program.

The commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolution
 Guards Corps (IRGC) Major General Mohammad
Ali Ja’fari, said on Saturday that the US MUST
NEVER underestimate Iran's capacity to deal
with a US invasion.

Iran's response would be "swift and stunning."

He added: “Mr. Kerry must know that direct
 battle with the US is the biggest dream of
pious, revolutionary people across the world.

 "Your threats offer our revolutionary people
 the best opportunity,” said Ja’fari.

He added that “wise politicians” in the US are
 unlikely to let the “ridiculous military option”
remain on the table.

Ja’fari advised Kerry to stop repeating “bankrupt
 strategies like the use of military power” in order
 to avoid an accelerated collapse of US civilization.



UK lawmakers want stricter scrutiny of US
 military bases in the UK, which are believed
 to be used for mass spying and drone 'kills'.

Draft legislation has been tabled by the
UK’s 3 major parties, that requires the
government to review the rules under
 which the US bases operate.

“These amendments are designed to
enable light to be shone on an area
causing increasing public concern.

They will enable proper scrutiny in
Parliament so ministers responsible
can decide whether steps should be
taken to review laws and agreements
which appear increasingly outdated,”
Lord Hodgson, Conservative lawmaker,
 tells The Independent.

The growing calls for tougher rules come
in the wake of leaks that some US bases
 in the UK were used to funnel information
 gained by spying on Europe, back to the US.

The UK government itself is also accused
of complicity in the US drone operations
 and the US spying on European nations.

Last year, The Independent  disclosed that
 Royal Air Force Station (RAF) Croughton - the
 US Air Force base and CIA relay station in
Northamptonshire - was utilized to transfer
 information gained by monitoring German
Chancellor Angela Merkel's 'phone.

The UK's Defense Ministry, which is tightening
 security around RAF Croughton, has denied the
 role of US bases in the UK, in US drone strikes.

The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, a UK-
based non-profit news organization, says over
 2,400 people have been killed in US drone
attacks in the last five years.

US whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed
 that RAF Croughton is used as a part of the
Special Collection Service, the network of
 embassy-based listening stations.
“It is a scandal that there is so little oversight
by the British government of potentially criminal
 activities taking place on our own soil,” says Kat
 Craig, legal director of campaigning group Reprieve.



An Israeli official says the Tel Aviv regime is
considering replacing the al-Aqsa Mosque
 in al-Quds (Jerusalem) with a temple.

Minister of Housing and Construction Uri Ariel
on Friday called for the construction of what
he called "the Third Temple" to replace the
 holy site.

Ariel said the first and second temples were
 destroyed many years ago, so a third one
needs to be built now.

“Al-Aqsa Mosque is currently in the place
 of the temple,” he claimed.

Al-Aqsa Mosque is considered to be the
 third holiest site in the Muslim world.

Palestinians denounce the plan as desecration.

They say it is part of the Israeli regime’s ongoing
attempts to distort all Arab and Islamic history.

Palestinians argue that al-Quds is the capital
of a future Palestinian independent state,
 and that its heritage should remain intact.



The new mayor of New York City has told
 members of the American-Israeli Public
 Affairs Committee (AIPAC) that part of his
 “job description is to be a defender of Israel.”

Bill de Blasio, who took office on January 1st,
made the remarks in an unannounced speech
at an AIPAC gathering on Thursday, The New
 York Times reports.

According to the Times, reporters were denied
 attendance and even a reporter who tried to
 attend the gathering was escorted away by
 security guards.

Blasio, who faced sharp criticism from reporters,
 has said that the organizers of the event did not
 want any journalists to attend the gathering.

AIPAC is the most powerful pro-Israel lobby
 group in the US that has recently intensified
 its anti-Iran efforts on Capitol Hill in order to
 convince US senators to co-sponsor a new
 sanctions bill against Iran.

The bill was introduced by Sen. Bob Menendez
 (D-New Jersey) and Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Illinois)
 in mid December but is unlikely to ever get a
 vote on the Senate floor because key members
 of the Senate Democratic leadership oppose it.

US President Barack Obama has already said
 that he would veto the legislation which,
 says congress.gov, has 58 co-sponsors.

However, AIPAC, which wants to sabotage
 diplomatic efforts to resolve the West’s
ten-year-old dispute with Iran over its
nuclear energy program, is attempting an
“open revolt against the White House’s

 Iran diplomacy,” according to Foreign
Policy’s The Cable.

AIPAC even attacked a pro-Israel Jewish
 Democrat in the House of Representatives,
 Florida congresswoman Debbie Wasserman
 Schultz, for being silent over the new anti-
Iran legislation.

According to The Cable, the AIPAC’s attack on
Schultz “raised eyebrows among some current
 and former AIPAC officials.”



Addressing a press conference in Kabul, Saturday,
Afghan President Hamid Karzai says he won't sign
 a bilateral security deal with the US, if Washington
 does not guarantee peace in Afghanistan.

He says signing the deal will have no positive
 outcome if peace and security aren't guaranteed.

"If the US is not willing to accept our conditions on
the BSA (so-called Bilateral Security Agreement)
 they can leave anytime - and Afghanistan will do
 without foreigners," he says.

Karzai lambasts the US for pursuing wrong
 policies in its so-called fight against terrorism.

The Afghan president says it will be intolerable
 for Afghans if innocent people are killed even
 after the security agreement is signed.

The Afghan president warns that pressure or 
psychological warfare will not make him sign.

Karzai has previously accused the US of not
 providing the country with military supplies,
 in its attempts to pressure him to sign.

Karzai condemns the US military detentions in
 Afghanistan, describing the notorious prison
 at the Bagram Airbase in eastern Afghanistan
 as a 'Taliban-making factory'.

The Afghan president says inmates at Bagram
 have been insulted and tortured by US forces.

NATO Sec-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen
 has urged the Afghan government to sign the
 BSA with the US - as a matter of "urgency".

The deal allows the US to keep thousands
 of its troops after the 2014 withdrawal date.

Afghan activists say the security treaty will
pave the way for a prolonged US military
presence in the war-ravaged country.

Afghan political figures have also heaped scorn
 on US-led forces, for committing unforgivable
 crimes against Afghan women and children,
since illegally invading the country in 2001.



Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif
 has urged the withdrawal of all foreign-backed
 militants from Syria, saying the Syrian people
 should be allowed to determine their own
destiny without foreign interference.

“I ask all foreign forces to withdraw, to allow
 the Syrian people to decide their own future,”
 Zarif told a panel discussion held on the
sidelines of the World Economic Forum
(WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, on Friday.

Foreign forces should stop funding and
supplying weapons to militants in Syria,
said the top Iranian diplomat.

He also stated that any military option to
end Syria's crisis should be off the table.

Zarif dismissed claims by US Secretary of
 State John Kerry, who had accused Syrian
 President Bashar al-Assad of preparing the
 ground for terrorists to enter the country.

"Extremism is a product of foreign intervention
and the product of short-sightedness. Those
 who created the Taliban [in Afghanistan]
 ended up paying with their blood for what
they created.

 The flames created in our region will engulf
 everybody," Zarif said.

He emphasized that those who are calling
on President Assad to go, are responsible
 for the crisis in the Middle East region,
 which has caused innumerable deaths.

Earlier, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani
 told Swiss TV station RTS on the sidelines
 of the WEF that the fate of Syria needs to
be determined solely by the Syrian people,
rejecting any foreign interference in the
 future of the Arab country.

“I believe that only Syrian people are allowed
to decide and nobody else can pass a judgment
 on the future of Syria,” President Rouhani said.

“Decision-making is for the Syrian people to do
 and they are the ones who should determine
 their own future, and, in doing so, the first
 condition is that bloodshed be stopped...
 and certain countries give up supporting
terrorism,” the Iranian president added.

Syria has been gripped by a deadly crisis
since 2011. According to reports, Western
 powers and their regional allies - especially
 Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey - are
supporting the militants inside the country.

The UN says more than four million Syrians
 will be forced out of their homes in 2014 by
 the escalating conflict in the country, that
has killed more than 100,000 people and
displaced millions, so far.



Supporters of the Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Party,
which controls the northwestern province of
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in Pakistan, continue to
 block a supply route for US-led NATO forces
 stationed in neighboring Afghanistan, Press
TV reports.

The PTI activists, who are against the deadly
 US drone strikes in Pakistan, have blocked one
 of the main NATO routes on the outskirts of the
 province’s capital, Peshawar, since Nov 2013.

Protesters spend days and nights stopping all
 travelling lorries and checking them to ensure
 they are not carrying supplies for US-led forces
 in Afghanistan, before clearing them to pass
through the province.

The continuation of the blockage comes as
 the protesters and their leaders in Khyber
Pakhtunkhwa, have been under intense
pressure from the EU and Washington,
as well as the Pakistani government,
to open the supply line.

The blockade is disrupting the withdrawal
 of heavy equipment of US-led forces from
 Afghanistan. Analysts say if this continues,
 Washington might have to leave much of its
heavy military equipment, in Afghanistan.

PTI members say US drones have killed
 thousands of innocent civilians and left
 their families in endless mental trauma.

Jameel Abbasi, one of the PTI leaders, told
 Press TV's correspondent in Pakistan, that
the route will remain cut off until the US
 stops its drone attacks.

The government of Pakistan insists that it is
making an all-out effort to stop the strikes.

Washington says the CIA-run drone strikes
 primarily kill Taliban militants who threaten
 US-led forces in Afghanistan; however, the
figures show that Pakistani civilians are
more often the victims of the non-
UN-sanctioned attacks.

The slaughter of Pakistani civilians, including
women and children, in US drone strikes, has
 strained relations between Islamabad and
Washington, and Pakistani officials have
complained to the US administration on
numerous occasions.

In September 2012, a report by Stanford Law
School and the New York University School
of Law gave an alarming account of the effect
 that killer drone strikes have on ordinary
people in Pakistan’s tribal areas.

“The number of ‘high-level’ targets killed as
 a percentage of total casualties is extremely low
-- estimated at just two percent,” the report noted.

The UN says US-operated drone strikes in Pakistan
and some other countries,
pose a growing challenge
to the rule of
international law.



The first passenger plane has landed at Aleppo
 International Airport, after the army restored
 stability and security to the surrounding areas.

Works to reverse the damage caused by
 terrorists' attacks were also carried out.



Despite failing to arrest Tony Blair for ‘crimes
 against peace’ last Friday, the London barperson
 who attempted the citizen’s arrest on Blair, is
awarded a quarter of the bounty on Blair's head,
for keeping the issue of double standards alive
 in the media.

The award should come in handy, now that
Twiggy Garcia, London DJ-turned-barperson,
 has quit his job.

 Website Arrestblair.org, creator, George Monbiot,
 says Garcia rose to the challenge and deserves
 the money even for a failed attempt, as it still
serves to keep the issue of the former UK PM’s
 alleged war crimes alive, while criminals from
‘weaker nations’ get prosecuted all the time,
 for lesser crimes.


    FARC-EP Denounces Killing of Patriotic March Activists

The FARC-EP denounces today the Colombian
 Government''s extermination of political activists
 of Marcha Patriotica (the Patriotic March) movement
 and considers such actions to be a negative sign
 within the context of peace talks.

"For the peace process to avoid ending up being
 a farce or a comedy, or simply empty words
 about the expansion of democracy, it is urgent
that the Government stops its vicious crusade
 against Patriotic March," says the insurgent
delegation that has been participating in peace
 talks with the Colombian Executive for 14 months.

"We are speaking with unease from Havana,
where we have signed a partial agreement
with the Government of Juan Manuel Santos
 to expand democracy & political participation
 in Colombia," say the guerrillas.

The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia
People's Army (FARC-EP) considers such killings
 as a denial of agreed-upon political participation,
 a disregard for the duties of the State, and an
 extremely bad sign that continues to undermine
 confidence in the word of the Government.

"We cannot tolerate that, amid a peace process,
the Patriotic March movement should be
systematically annihilated, as occurred with
 the Patriotic Union," the guerrillas say, recalling
 the state genocide in the middle of the 1980s.

"There is a vital need in Colombia to destroy the
 national Security Doctrine, the concept of an
 internal enemy and of paramilitarism, as factors
 that foster State terrorism," the guerrillas say.

"It is necessary to start implementing what
has been agreed, for the peace process to
 avoid becoming just empty words.

It is the State's duty to protect citizens' lives
 and guarantee the right to political choice
 in Colombia," they say.


The Geneva ll conference on Syria was
shadowed by clashes and accusations.

Bashar Jaafari, Permanent Representative of Syria
 to the UN, told journalists he was disappointed at
 the format of the ministerial meeting. Most of the
 40 participants were "anti-Syria delegations", and
 their speeches bore "provocative and repetitive
statements based on hatred towards the Syrian
 government", he said.

A preliminary list disclosed less than 30 countries
 attending the Geneva II conference, apart from
 organizations. "They added 10 more countries,
 but excluded Iran," Jaafari said.

He slashed the meeting as failing to encourage
national political dialogue, and as "counter-
productive, not positive at all". "We need
 hope to put an end to terrorism," he said.

Earlier at the meeting, Syrian Foreign Minister
Walid Muallem urged the international community
 to "stop supporting armed opposition" in Syria,
 noting that some countries at the conference
have "Syrian blood on their hands".

He spoke of the atrocities of the extremists,
 and accused those who, under the cover of
revolution, try to fan tension in the nation.

The speech was followed by Ahmed Jarba,
 head of the Syrian National Coalition, the
 country's opposition bloc: "Mass killings
 continue in Syria. Can one stand? This is
not our choice to bear arms," he said.

But the focus of disputes between
the two sides was the role of Syrian
President Bashar al-Assad.

Muallem said upon his arrival in Geneva that
the subject of the status of the president is
a "red-line" and cannot be touched.

"Nobody in this world has the right to
withdraw the legitimacy of a president
or government - other than the Syrians
 themselves," he said.

John Kerry, US Secretary of State said the
 President has lost legitimacy and "You can
 not save Syria as long as Assad remains"
 he told media at the press conference.

But many participants spoke of the positive
sign that - for the first time in three years -
the warring sides agreed to sit down and talk.

"It is not easy to sit around the table after
 so much bloodshed and destruction," said
 Ban who chaired the conference's first day.

"Almost everyone with a means to influence
 the cause of this country was in the same room,
 under the auspices of the United Nations. That
 moment is historic," he said.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov urged
 participants to "do everything to help the Syrian
 government and the opposition to pool efforts
with the objective of eradicating terrorism".

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said that
the path of peace talks between the different
 parties from Syria is bound to be tortuous, with
 twists and turns, therefore confidence, patience
and persistence are needed to find a middle way.

The Syrian government also expresses good will.
"We hope to reach an agreement with the
opposition," said Syrian Information Minister
Omran al-Zohbi, although he said it would not
 be easy "to produce a solution - the political
process needs time."

Another step will be taken on Friday, when
 the two Syrian parties will engage in talks
chaired by the joint special envoy of the UN
and the Arab League chief, Lakhdar Brahimi,
which is a more difficult task.

Brahimi says he is going to meet both parties
 separately today to see if they should go
straight to meetings or keep talking separately.

"We have a road-map in the communique," he
says, hoping the schedule on Friday won't change.



While the world's media focuses
on Ban Ki Moon's treatment of the
Iranians and his interuption of the
Syrian foreign minister's speech,
plus the "bought and paid for"
nature of the terrorists' leaders...
others come intending peace:
South Africa remains steadfast in its belief that
there can be no military solution to the conflict
 in Syria, the government says.

"South Africa believes that democracy is an
 unassailable right of the Syrian people," the
Department of International Relations and
Cooperation (DIRCO) said in a statement.

The South African government is committed to
 encouraging all parties involved in the current
 conflict in Syria to engage in a process of all-
inclusive national dialogue, free of any form of
 violence, intimidation or outside interference
 aimed at government change, in order to
 satisfy the legitimate democratic aspirations
 of the Syrian people, said the statement.

Geneva ll is a welcome step in the right
direction toward bringing an end to the
suffering of the Syrian people, said
Clayson Monyela, spokesperson for DIRCO.

 "South Africa believes it is essential that
 a political path be supported by a united,
cohesive international effort towards a
Syrian-led, negotiated political transition
aimed at establishing a democratic and
 pluralistic society in which minorities
 are protected," Monyela said.

"The situation in Syria is evolving into one of
 the worst humanitarian disasters in recent
 times, with severe political and economic
consequences for the entire region."

The South African government welcomes the
 opportunity to participate in the Geneva II
 Conference, which is long-overdue, he said.



Both the Syrian government and opposition are
 embarking on dialogue for the first time since
the eruption of conflict in Syria three years ago.

"The success chances are high... we could
 either see full success of the conference or
half success," Hmaidi Abdullah, political
 expert, tells Xinhua.

He says there are 3 issues: the first is the
 military situation on the ground, the second
the humanitarian file, and the third is the
formation of a transitional government.

Abdullah says the recent proposal of Foreign
 Minister Walid al-Moallem about a ceasefire
 in Aleppo and a possible prisoner swap is an
indicator that a halt to military operations is
 possible, if the rebels commit to a ceasefire.

Abdullah says such a proposal is welcomed
 by the superpowers, which means a solution
 for the ongoing battles could be within reach.

Abdullah says that, following the government's
acceptance to allow in relief aid to a number
 of besieged areas in Syria, the humanitarian
issue is also looking less intractable.

He says aid convoys are entering besieged areas
 in Syria, and negotiations are underway between
 government and local communities in those areas
 seeking a solution, marking the beginning of real
reconciliation on the ground in some areas.

Syrian state media has recently been reporting
the surrender of tens of armed rebels in some
hotspots of Damascus as part of deals reached
 with the Syrian officials.

On the third file in the Geneva II conference,
Abdulla says a transitional government will
be discussed and now there are two options:
"An agreement to form the transitional government
 will be reached, and in this case we can say that
the Geneva II conference has 100% succeeded,
 or it will not reach an agreement about government
 and in this case we can say that the conference
 succeeded 50%, since at least the humanitarian
 and military files would probably be solved."



A barman in London makes an attempt to
 arrest former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Twiggy Garcia, who works at the Tramshed
restaurant in East London, noticed the
former prime minister eating with friends
and family at the restaurant on Friday night.

“My heart rate increased when I found out he
 was in the building; there was an eerie presence,
 which some of the other staff noticed too. It
 wasn’t like any other night. I couldn’t believe
 he was there.

 His security were sitting at the bar directly
 in front of me and I got nervous because I
thought they overheard me say, ‘Should I
 citizen’s arrest him?’,” Garcia told the
monthly Vice Magazine.

He went over to Blair’s table and told him that
 he was responsible for the illegal war in Iraq
 and the mass murder of Iraqi civilians.

“I went over to him, put my hand on his shoulder
and said, ‘Mr. Blair, this is a citizen’s arrest for
 a crime against peace, namely your decision
to launch an unprovoked war against Iraq.
I am inviting you to accompany me to a
 police station to answer the charge’,” he said.

Blair repeatedly changed the subject, he added.

Garcia decided to end the conversation
when “one of his (Blair’s) sons got up
and went to get plain-clothes security
 from downstairs.”

As the fifth UK citizen who has tried to
arrest Tony Blair for war crimes, Garcia
said his goal was to remind people that
 the former premier is a war criminal.

Tony Blair is accused of lying to the public
about Iraq’s potential threat, knowing that
former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein had
 no weapons of mass destruction.



US seeking to form puppet gov’t in Syria

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
reversed his invitation to Iran to participate in
Geneva ll - after pressure from the US.

The US, UK, Saudi Arabia and the foreign-
backed Syrian opposition, were all strongly
opposed to Iran’s participation in the event.

The US said the UN must rescind its invitation
 - unless Tehran publicly backs the 2012 road-
map to establish a transitional government
 in Syria. The
Western sponsored so-called
Syrian National Council, threatened to
boycott the Geneva II conference entirely.

Russia's Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov,
 says the talks resemble “hypocrisy”,
without Iran's participation.

"Among the countries also invited were Australia,
 Mexico, the Republic of Korea, South Africa,
 Japan, Brazil, India, Indonesia, and many others.

So if there is no Iran in this list… I think
peace talks resemble hypocrisy,"
Lavrov said.

He stressed that Iran is one of the countries
 with a direct interest in a settlement of the
Syrian crisis “without any more damage to
the stability of this most important region
of the world."

Iran's Foreign Ministry Spokesperson, Marzieh
 Afkham, said Iran would participate in the
talks without accepting any preconditions.

“We accept no precondition for participating
in the Geneva II [conference] and, based on
the official invitation [we received], Iran will
take part in the conference without [any]
preconditions,” she stated.

Syria has been in deadly crisis since 2011.
 According to reports, the Western powers
 and their regional allies -- especially Qatar,
 Saudi Arabia, and Turkey -- are supporting
armed gangs operating inside the country.


Iran --- Ban's decision "regrettable":

"Unfortunately, Ban Ki-moon came under
pressure after the announcement of the
 invitation to Iran," Iran's Foreign Minister
Mohammad Javad Zarif said.

He added that the UN chief "rescinded the
invitation as a result of the pressure

exercised on him."

Ban's "lack of courage to state the reason
 for the rescinding of the invitation of Iran to
participate in Geneva II, is more regrettable
 than the [act of] rescinding the very invite."

"We said from the start, that we accept
precondition for Iran's presence at
Geneva II meeting, since Iran has
important role in this region and
cannot ignore this role," says
the top
Iranian diplomat.

But they did.  And put the whole
straight back on course for war.

Even before this, Iran's ambassador to
 the UN, Mohammad Khazaee, expressed
his doubts that the Geneva 2 conference
could settle the conflict in Syria.

“I’m not very optimistic that the Geneva 2
 conference might solve anything in Syria,”
 the diplomat told Itar-Tass.

Moscow insisted on Iran’s participation
 and said not inviting the republic will
“an unforgivable mistake.”

“Those who question such a need are clearly
 not interested in a fair resolution of the Syrian
crisis,” Russia’s UN envoy Vitaly Churkin said
 at a Security Council meeting.



The Japanese government confirms now
the relocation of the US military base from
Futenma, Okinawa to Nago city, despite the
opposition of the local authorities, said
News Asia channel.

After US approval, the agreement is to be
implemented, regardless of opposition by
the new Nago city Mayor, Susumu Inamine.

He has vowed to block construction of the
 base by denying permits for the project &
won a hard-fought contest against a pro-
base opponent backed by Japan's ruling
 Liberal Democratic Party.

Now the signing of the project is revealed,
 Inamine says he will work hard to block it.

Cabinet Chief Secretary, Yoshihide Suga,
 in Tokyo, says relocation of the military
 base will proceed under the law and the
 country's judicial procedures.

Humanitarian organizations say citizens
 from other parts of Japan and Okinawans
 oppose the construction of any US military
bases in Japan and demand a withdrawal
of US marines from this Asian country.


Robert Ford to Syria Opposition:
Bandar on Long Vacation, Go to Geneva 2

The US Ambassador to Syria, Robert Ford,
 ordered foreign-backed opposition figures
 to take part in the Geneva 11 international
 peace conference, noting that there were
 now many changes in Saudi policy on Syria.

At a meeting, Ford told the SNC figures that
Saudi prince Bandar Bin Sultan is on a long
vacation in the US, “because of sickness and
 psychological fatigue,” Hamade added, citing
Syrian opposition official who is also close
the former Prime Minister, Riyad Hijab.

“We would like to inform you that there are
some changes that will take place in Saudi
 Arabia next March,” Ford said, noting that
the changes will "reach" Bandar Bin Sultan
and Saud al-Faissal.

“We also would like to tell you, that the US
has asked Saad Hariri (head of al-Mustaqbal
parliamentary bloc in Lebanon) to participate
in a coalition government with Hezbollah.”

The US ambassador added that the Saudi
committee for Lebanon and Syria (which
 compromises Abdulaziz Khoja, Abdulaziz
Bin Abdullah Al Saud and Muqren Bin
Abdullah Al Saud) is to be activated and
 will take over the Lebanese and Syrian
file from Bandar.

Ford told the Syrian opposition figures:
 “Bandar’s plan for the Syrian conflict, put
into action in 2012, had catastrophic
 repercussions on Syria and the region.
 It has made of Syria a powerful hub for
 al-Qaeda that the US cannot confront.

For that, you have to stop objecting and
go to Geneva 2 - this is in US’ interest.”


UAE introduces compulsory military service
United Arab Emirates (UAE) Prime Minister,
 Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al-Maktoum,
 says via Twitter that the Gulf state is now
introducing compulsory military service
for all nationals above 18 years old.

All Emirati nationals between 18 to 30 will
 have to take compulsory military service.

Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid:
 "The Service will cover military training in
the armed forces - 9 months for high school
graduates and two years for those below
 high school."

"UAE reserve forces will consist of retired
armed forces' soldiers and national service
 program graduates," adds the UAE PM.

"Protecting the nation and preserving its
independence and sovereignty is a
sacred national duty. The new law will
apply to everyone," tweeted Sheikh
 Mohammed Bin Rashid.

 The UAE has 8.8 million inhabitants,
 of which, only 20% are UAE nationals.

The UAE prime minister, who is also the
 country's vice president and the ruler of
Dubai, has ordered his cabinet to draw up
a bill for national defense and reserves.



Amid major warnings of an emerging genocide
in the Central African Republic (CAR) by a UN
 official, reports indicate that Muslim residents
 in CAR are being ‘butchered’ by Christian militias.



A dossier has been presented to the International
 Criminal Court, which could result in some of the
 UK's leading defence figures and politicians
 facing prosecution for "systematic" war crimes
 in Iraq.

The 250-page dossier, entitled "The Responsibility
 of UK Officials for War Crimes Involving Systematic
 Detainee Abuse in Iraq from 2003-2008", draws on
 cases of over 400 Iraqis, representing "thousands
 of allegations of mistreatment amounting to war
crimes of torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading

They range from "hooding" prisoners to burning,
electric shocks, threats to kill and "cultural and
 religious humiliation". Other forms of alleged abuse
 include sexual assault, mock executions, threats
of rape, death and torture.

The dossier says "those who bear the greatest
 responsibility" for alleged war crimes "include
 individuals at the highest levels" of the British
 Army and political system.

It further argues that UK military commanders
 "knew or should have known" that forces under
their control "were committing or about to
commit war crimes."

General Sir Peter Wall, the head of the British Army;
 former Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon; and former
defence minister Adam Ingram are among those
 named in the report.

The formal complaint to the ICC also argues
 that "civilian superiors knew or consciously
 disregarded information at their disposal,
which clearly indicated that UK services
 personnel were committing war crimes
in Iraq."

The European Centre for Constitutional Human
 Rights (ECCHR) and the Public Interest Lawyers
 (PIL) firm say in a statement that they filed the
joint complaint to the ICC, calling for a probe
UK war crimes in Iraq.

In their 250-page complaint, the two NGOs call for
a probe into the actions of senior UK officials,
 for “systematic torture and abuse” of prisoners
in Iraq between 2003 and 2008.

Over the past few years, over 400 Iraqi prisoners
 have contacted PIL, based in Birmingham, alleging
 “serious abuse and humiliation” by British soldiers.

According to the law firm, the allegations range from
sexual and religious humiliation to physical violence.

The joint statement by the 2 groups also points
 to a similar complaint to the ICC, which failed in
2006, on the grounds of insufficient evidence.

 The NGOs say that, after eight years, “a
 thorough investigation” is still necessary.

German daily Süddeutsche Zeitung reports that
the UK's Ministry of Defence (MoD) has confirmed
 that there were “isolated” cases of abuse by UK
 soldiers in Iraq, but denies any alleged systematic
 torture by members of the UK army.

The US and UK invaded Iraq in blatant violation of
 international law in 2003, on the pretext of looking
for weapons of mass destruction (WMD), allegedly
stockpiled by ex-Iraqi dictator, Saddam Hussein.

 No WMDs, however, were ever discovered in Iraq.

According to the California-based investigative
organization Project Censored, over one million
Iraqis were killed as a result of the invasion and
subsequent occupation of their country.



 At least 14 civilians, including three women
 and five children, were killed in an air strike
 by NATO in the northern Siagh Gerd district.

A Parlamentarian commission headed by
Deputy Abdul Satar Khawasi confirms the
slaughter, after hearing testimony from
 local residents.

According to the report, US forces bombed
 the area from Tuesday night until dawn the
next day.

The mission, led by Khawasi, is to submit 
evidence to the National Assembly, such
as photographs of the victims and the
 damage caused by US aircraft.

This unfortunate episode adds to one by
 ISAF, which killed 8 civilians, including
 7 children and a woman, in an "operation"
 in the Afghan province of Parwan.

ISAF says the event took place in a high-
risk zone where important leaders of the
 insurgent Taliban take refuge.

ISAF's brief statement adds that a soldier
 was killed by "non-combat" wounds.



At least two US citizens were killed in a
bombing and shooting attack on a popular
 Lebanese restaurant in Kabul, the US
embassy in Kabul says.

"The US Embassy has confirmed that at least
2 private US citizens were among the victims
of the terrorist attack in Kabul," the embassy
said on its Twitter page.

 "Our deepest sympathies go out to the
 families of those who were killed."

The Embassy said its staff were all
accounted for.

19 others, mostly foreigners, including
the IMF’s representative in Afghanistan,
 3 UN employees and people from other
 international organizations, were killed.



The UN's Assistant Secretary-General for Human
Rights, Ivan Simonovic, says child soldiers are
 fighting in the month-long plus conflict there,
with mass killings reported.

"The reports that we have come across involve
 mass killings, extrajudicial killings, widespread
destruction, looting & child soldier recruitment",
the top UN rights envoy in South Sudan reports.

"Destruction and death is everywhere in Bentiu,
which has now become a ghost town. The
extent of looting is hard to grasp, for anyone
 who hasn't been there," Jonglei's Bor, where
fighting continues, is in a similar state, he says.

Somonovic accuses both President Salva Kiir
and the former vice president Riek Machar

 of atrocities, in the conflict that started on
December 15th.



A prominent human rights advocacy group
 criticizes the UK over its decision to fund
 military training for Myanmar’s army, which
 is accused of human rights violations.

In a report titled ‘Training War Criminals? –
British Training of the Burmese Army’,
 Burma Campaign UK says the decision
 spend at least £87,850 on the project
deeply flawed, since there are no
on improving human rights
and supporting
democratic reform there.

“If the British government were serious about
reforming the Burmese military and ending
their human rights abuses, they could have
used this training to elicit practical action and
 commitments to reforms,” Mark Farmaner,
Director of Burma Campaign UK, says.

He notes that London is moving as close
 as possible to Myanmar’s government, to
 secure trade and investment opportunities.

Muslims there are being persecuted and
forced out of their country by Buddhists.


Canada to Present Evidence of
Abuse on Indigenous Children

The Canadian Government has agreed to publish a 1990
 police investigation which gathered evidence about the
 mistreatment received by hundreds of native children in
 one of the so-called residential schools, where many
of them remained segregated for years.

Erica Meekes, spokesperson for the Aboriginal Affairs
 Minister, has confirmed by e-mail to the press that the
Government will comply with judge Paul Perell's order,
from the Superior Court in Ontario province, that
 requests disclosure of those documents.

Nevertheless, Meekes still has not given details
 about the date of disclosure of the files, which
have been withheld for years, on the pretext of
"protecting the victims".

Residential schools were used from 1883 to 1990,
 with the objective of teaching "western customs
 and traditions" to some 150,000 children.

Those schools were managed by the Government
 and Church, and have been charged with torture,
 and both psychological and physical abuse on the
 children who lived in those schools - against their
 will and their families' will.

The children were forced to work some 10 to 12
hours daily, without being paid or properly fed.



Photographs published on TMZ.com
show US Marines burning the bodies
of dead Iraqis, in Fallujah, in 2004.

“TMZ obtained 41 pictures that we’re told
were shot in Fallujah in 2004,” the website
 writes. “Two pictures show a Marine
appearing to pour gasoline or some other
 flammable on the remains of what officials
believe are 2 insurgents. Two other photos
show the bodies on fire. You then see
the charred remains.”

“Another photo' shows a Marine crouched down
next to a dead body and mugging for the camera.

“Still another picture shows a Marine rifling
 through the pocket of the pants on a corpse.”

The website said some of the photos are
 “too gruesome” to be published, adding
that over a dozen bodies are seen in the
 pictures and “some are covered with
and one is being eaten by a dog.”

The website says it turned the photos
over to the Pentagon last week.

A Marine spokesperson at the Pentagon,
 Lt. Col. Neil F. Murphy, says the Marine
Corps is investigating the circumstances
 depicted in the photos and attempting
 to identify the Marines shown.

Murphy says the results will determine
whether the Marine Corps launches an
 investigation into possible wrongdoing.

The US used the 9/11 terrorist attacks
 in New York as a pretext to attack
 Afghanistan in 2001.

Two years later, the US military also invaded
 Iraq, which conflict, left over one million dead.

Thousands of US troops are still stationed
 in both countries, years after the ouster of
the Taliban in Afghanistan and the former
dictator Saddam Hussein in Iraq.



Shortly before the US Secretary of State John Kerry
visited Rome, Pope Francis called for a ceasefire
 & an end to violence in Syria, without preconditions.

During a conference of experts sponsored by the
 Vatican, attended by Catholics and non-Catholics,
the Pope considered that to achieve that goal, all
 foreign powers must stop sending weapons and
 financing to Syria.

"To build the basis of a regional peace, Geneva II
 should ensure the participation of all parties in
 the conflict in the region and beyond," noted
Pope Francis, alluding to Iran, whose presence
 in Switzerland has "not yet been decided".

Jorge Mario Bergoglio also affirmed that the
 Vatican is dedicated to supporting all religious
 creeds, due to the plurality of religions which
has already been created in Syria.

Kerry then left the Vatican for Kuwait, to
 attend a "donors´ conference" on Syria, but
 local media say that this Kuwait "forum" is
being held to seek more support for the
opposition groups fighting the Syrian


Kuwait pledges $500mn in aid to Syria

Kuwait's emir, Sheik Sabah Al Ahmad Al
pledges $500 million of new funding,
to "help
Syrians affected by the conflict".

This comes on top of Kuwait's pledge of
 $300 million last year. The emir opened
 an international fundraising conference
 today, that officials hope will help cover
 the billions of dollars needed this year.

Kuwait, the US and other donor nations
have so far promised more than $1.2
billion of fresh assistance, AP reports.

The UN is asking for $6.5 billion this year
to help Syrians, the largest-ever funding
appeal for a single crisis.

US Secretary of State John Kerry has promised
 $380 million in additional humanitarian aid to
 Syria today, Reuters reports.

 “I am proud to announce today on President
 Obama's behalf, a new announcement of an
additional $380 million in assistance,” Kerry
 told the donor conference in Kuwait.


Survey: Salvadorian FMLN Leads Electoral Preference

The wave of countries liberating themselves
in America, looks likely to continue with El
 Salvador... despite years of US interference
 which used violence and corruption to try
 to stop it (in the name of 'anti-communism',
 and then, of 'anti-terrorism').

The Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front
 (FMLN) is now favorite to win the presidential
elections in El Salvador, according to the
 latest survey carried out by the private
 Technological University (UTEC).

UTEC's survey, which took a poll 'forecast'
gives 38.3% of forecast votes to the FMLN.

The right-wing Nationalist Republican Alliance
(Arena), a close rival, has 29% of poll votes
 and the Unity coalition is third with 11.6%.
 Other minority parties barely make 0.8%.

'Though these results are not enough to
 win in the first round, other opinion polls
place the FMLN in the lead, and close to
 winning in the first electoral round.

The Rector of UTEC, Nelson Zarate, says that
Arena and its presidential candidate Norman
 Quijano, has lost momentum against the FMLN
 candidate Salvador Sanchez Ceren, compared
 to a survey carried out last November.

The deadline to release surveys before the
 presidential polls, is January the 17th.

The FMLN leads in most surveys, boasting
 more support than other political forces, to
 rule the country for the period 2014-2019.



China has successfully tested its first hypersonic
missile delivery vehicle, capable of penetrating
missile defense systems and delivering nuclear
warheads with record breaking speeds, Pentagon
 officials have confirmed.

The new hypersonic glide vehicle (HGV), dubbed
WU-14, was allegedly spotted flying at record-
speeds during a flight test over China
on January 9, an
anonymous Pentagon official
told the Washington Free Beacon.

The new system is reportedly designed to
be launched as the final stage of China’s
intercontinental ballistic missile, which
would approach its target at a velocity
of up to 10 times the speed of sound.

 Hypersonic speed range lies between Mach 5
 and Mach 10, or 3,840 to 7,680 miles per hour.

A Pentagon spokesperson confirms the Chinese
 test launch but has declined to provide details.

“We routinely monitor foreign defense activities and
we are aware of this test,” Lt. Col. Jeffrey Pool, a
 Marine Corps spokesperson, told the Washington
Free Beacon.

“However, we don’t comment on our intelligence or
 assessments of foreign weapon systems,” Pool said
 in a statement. “We encourage greater transparency
 regarding their defense investments and objectives
to avoid miscalculation,” he added.

Hypersonic vehicles - also being designed by
 the US, India and Russia - are developed for precise
 targeting, rapid delivery of weapons, and are being
tested to outmaneuver missile and space defenses.

“A boost glide missile theoretically would be intended
 to counter existing mid-course missile defenses,” Mark
Stokes, former US Air Force officer, told the Washington
 Free Beacon.

Strokes explained that China is developing two
 hypersonic flight vehicle programs – one believed
 to be of a post-boost vehicle designed to be
 deployed from a missile that pursues its target
 from near space, or some 62 miles from earth.

Basing his hypothesis on emerging reports from China,
 Stokes believes that hypersonic glide vehicles could
 reach Mach 12 speeds of up to 9,127 miles per hour,
 potentially compromising a US missile defense.

“The beauty of the HGV is that it can perform
hypersonic precision strikes while maintaining
 a relatively low altitude and flat trajectory, making
 it far less vulnerable to missile defenses,” Rick
Fisher, an analyst at the International Assessment
 & Strategy Center, told the Washington Free Beacon.

“With the integration of strategic analysis and planning
 into technical research, China’s pursuit of hypersonic
 and high-precision weaponry promises to be faster and
 more focused than that associated with its previous
 [anti-satellite] and [ballistic missile defense] related
 research and programs,” Lora Saalman, a specialist
 on Chinese strategic systems with the Carnegie
 Endowment Saalman said by email. “This recent
test is a manifestation of this trend.”

The Chinese are “actively seeking global military
 power to challenge the US, and it is not yet in any
 mood to talk, or engage in arms control, about it,”
 Fisher said.

In May, the Pentagon’s assessment of Chinese
capabilities suggested that China built the
 world’s largest shockwave hypersonic wind
tunnel capable of generating test flying
 conditions of up to Mach 9 speeds.

Chinese technical papers from December 2012
 and April 2013 reveal that China is developing
precision guidance systems designed to be
 directed via satellite.

One Chinese paper concluded that hypersonic
 weapons pose “a new aerospace threat.”

Current US hypersonic research is being conducted
 through the FALCON program in association with
 the Pentagon and Air Force.

 The US is now in the process of developing the
Lockheed HTV-2,
an unmanned, missile-launched
aircraft capable of
gaining speeds of up to Mach
20, or 13,000 miles
per hour.

The US Air Force is also testing the X-37B

 Space Plane, which has been orbiting earth
December 2012.

At the same time Boeing is working on the X-51
 WaveRider, a jet-fueled, air-breathing hypersonic
rocket developed for the Air Force to be used for
hypersonic attack and reconnaissance missions.

Russia too, has confirmed the development of
 similar ultrasonic technology. The Air Force
 National Air and Space Intelligence Center said
 in its annual report that Russia is building “a new
 class of hypersonic vehicle” that would “allow
 Russian strategic missiles to penetrate missile
 defense systems.”

“We are experiencing a revolution in military science,”
Russian deputy prime minister Dmitry Rogozin said
 last June, after the 4th test of an advanced road-
mobile ICBM, a “missile defense killer” called
 the RS-26 Rubezh (‘frontier’). “Neither current nor
 future American missile defense systems will be
able to prevent that missile from hitting a target
dead on.”

 Moscow is also developing the S-500 air and space
 defense system, with interceptors capable of
 shooting down hypersonic missiles.


US Ex-General Demands Guantanamo Prison Closure

Major General Lehnert, a retired officer of the US Army,
demandS today the immediate closure of the prison the
 US maintains in Cuba's eastern province of Guantanamo.

Lehnert was the first chief of the detention centre
- which opened in January, 2002 in a military base
on Cuban soil - against the will of the people and
 the Government of the Caribbean island.

"It is time to close the prison to abide by domestic
 and international laws, the US Constitution, and
 ensure that human rights are respected," says
 the Marine Corps general.

"I think we did a bad job since the beginning,
determining who would be sent to Guantanamo,
 especially during the first days after opening
the prison, and most of the prisoners should
 have never been there," he says.

The former military man criticizes the work by
 military commissions trying the prisoners there,
 and says the trials could be held in US courts,
 in an article published today by the newspaper
Stars and Stripes.

After assuming his first term of office in 2009,
 President Barack Obama signed an executive
 order to close Guantanamo prison in less than
 one year, but the prison is still operating.

There are numerous denunciations about the use
 of cruel techniques in that detention centre, such
as deprivation of sleep, locking prisoners naked
 in rooms at low temperatures and exhausting



The UK’s Duke of York, Prince Andrew, began
an official visit to the Persian Gulf state
Bahrain to promote UK business, in a trip

criticized by human rights activists.

Prince Andrew started his visit  as a part of
the so-called GREAT British week
in Bahrain,
which completes a series of events
200 years of bilateral relations between

 the two states.

Andrew’s controversial trip came at the request
 of the UK government and included a meeting with
 Bahrain’s King Hamad Bin Isa Al Khalifa.

The royal’s visit to Bahrain faced criticism by
 human rights activists, who point to the Persian
 Gulf state’s human rights record, disfigured by a
 harsh crackdown on anti-government protests,
 which began in 2011.

Maryam al-Khawaja, acting president of the Bahrain
Centre for Human Rights, accused the UK of putting
 short-term commercial interests before any support
 for democracy & human rights in Bahrain by sending
 the Queen's second son.

Since mid-February 2011, thousands of pro-democracy
 protesters have staged frequent demonstrations in
Bahrain, calling for the Al Khalifa royal family to
 step down from power.

On March 14, 2011, troops led by Saudi Arabia were
 deployed to Bahrain to help the Manama government
 crackdown on the peaceful protesters.

Scores have been killed, many of them under torture
while in custody, and thousands more detained,
 since the popular uprising started in the kingdom.

The Physicians for Human Rights says doctors and
nurses have been detained, tortured, or disappeared
 because they had “evidence of atrocities committed
by the authorities, security forces, and riot police” in
 the crackdown on anti-government protesters.



The CAR was grabbed by France as part of
the European powers' "scramble for Africa."

In 1928 a major insurrection against taxes
and forced labour imposed by the French -
 the Kongo-Wara rebellion or 'war of the hoe
 handle' - broke out in Western Ubangi-Shari,
and continued for several years.

The extent of this insurrection, which was perhaps
 the largest anti-colonial rebellion in Africa during
 the interwar years, was carefully hidden from the
 French public, because it was evidence of strong
 opposition to French colonial rule and forced labour.

After France granted a show of independence,
for many decades,  CAR was ruled by presidents
 or by an emperor, all of whom were unelected,
 or took power by force.

Any popularly elected leaders were overthrown
by coups backed by French fighter jets, or had

Now Christian mobs and militias are threatening
kill all Muslims, despite relative calm there
Press TV reports.

There have been reports of attacks on mosques
 and looting against Muslim-owned shops and
 houses in the capital, Bangui.

“The Christians only want to destroy the Muslims;
 they killed women and children here. We are scared.
 We don’t know why they attack us. But if they don’t
 want us in the Central African Republic, where else
can we go?” a Muslim man asked Press TV.

This is while a Christian mob told Press TV:

 “We will do exactly what the Muslims did to us.
 They killed us, so we will do the same to them.
We want peace in the country. We want peace
 in the Central African Republic. So we will cut
 the throats of all the Muslims.”

The African nation fell into its recent deadly
 unrest in March 2013, when Christian militias
launched an attack on the capital.

The United Nations has already warned of
 a potential sectarian genocide there.

Violence has been raging even after the
country’s interim leaders President Michel
 Djotodia and PM Nicolas Tiangaye, both
 stepped down Friday to try to ease tension.

Thousands of stranded foreigners caught up in
 violence in the CAR have started leaving Bangui.

Antoine Mbao Bogo, local Red Cross president,
 on Sunday confirmed 13 deaths in two days of
consecutive intense clashes in the country’s
capital, since January 10th.

The deaths have spread fear across Bangui.
 Many streets there were deserted on Sunday.



A political commentator says France had
one real objective  -  of ‘regime change’ in
 the Central African Republic.

Finian Cunningham says that the violence in
 the African country “has been deliberately
provoked by the French as a cover for their
 real objective – regime change.”

“Western media portray French conduct in the
 Central African Republic as a benevolent force,”
the political analyst stated.
“This is like lauding a fox in a hen house.”

“The reality is that violence and suffering have
 largely stemmed as a direct result of illegal
 French interference in that African country,”
Cunningham added.

The Central African Republic has been gripped
by unrest since Seleka rebels seized control
 of the impoverished landlocked country in
March 2013, ousting former President Francois
 Bozize and bringing Michel Djotodia to power.

Djotodia resigned on January 10. He has left
 the country and is said to be going into exile
 in Benin.

“Djotodia was forced to step down after he was
 politically ambushed by other Francophile African
 leaders at a special conference convened... in
 neighboring Chad,” Cunningham argued.

“The French tried to cover their tracks by saying
 ‘we are not here to give our thumbs up or down’
 but that is exactly what they were doing – giving
 the thumbs down.”

Alexandre Ferdinand Nguendet is the interim
president of the Central African Republic now,
 while the National Transition Council, or the
provisional parliament, is scheduled to begin
 consultations with politicians and civil society
 members on Monday, about electing the
 successor to Djotodia.



A top Iranian nuclear negotiator says Iran and
 the six world powers will start implementing
 the Geneva nuclear agreement on January 20th.

“Today, Iran and the P5+1 finalized an agreement
 on ways to take the first step to implement
 the Joint Plan of Action. The two sides reached
 a consensus,” Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister for
 Legal and International Affairs, Abbas Araqchi,
 told reporters.

Araqchi said once Iran begins to implement
 the Geneva deal, the six powers (5 permanent
UN Security Council members plus Germany)
 – will begin to ease sanctions on Tehran.

He says the other side will release USD
 4.2 billion in Iranian frozen assets in 8
 stages and Iran, in return, will oxidize
 its 20% enriched uranium, within a year.

Araqchi emphasized that both Tehran and
the six powers will proceed to implement
 the Geneva deal in a balanced way.

The Iranian official said Tehran is to allow
the International Atomic Energy Agency
to verify implementation of the deal.

The deal was clinched on November 24, 2013,
in which the 6 countries undertook to provide
 Iran with some sanctions relief in exchange
 for Iran agreeing to limit certain aspects of its
 nuclear activities over a six-month period.

It was also agreed that no nuclear-related
sanctions would be imposed on Iran within
 the same timeframe.



The Sudanese army says it expelled a force
 belonging to Riek Machar, the rebel leader in
South Sudan, after it crossed into Sudan's
territory and refused to be disarmed.

"On January 9th, a force of Nuer tribe, about an
infantry battalion, crossed into Sudanese territory
 near Higlieg area. They were on the run after the
 advance of South Sudan's army towards Bantio,
 capital of the oil-rich Unity State," said a Sudanese
 army spokesperson, Al-Sawarmy Khalid Saad.

Saad said that there is no room for any South
 Sudanese troops inside the Sudanese territories,
saying "we reiterate that our territories are now
 free of any foreign troops and that international
 law is our means of dealing with any similar cases."

Sudanese border areas have seen flows of South
 Sudanese refugees fleeing clashes in their country
 between the South Sudan army and defectors
loyal to former vice- president Riek Machar.

Sudan says it will treat the fleeing South Sudanese
 as Sudanese citizens, and that it will not establish
 camps at the borders but will allow southerners
to stay anywhere in Sudan.

South Sudan's army on Friday managed to regain
control of Bantio, capital city of the oil-producing
 "Unity State" and it is currently leading battles
to restore Bor town, the capital of Jonglie State,
 the last area held by Machar's forces.



EU’s foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton says
 she is “deeply concerned” by new “illegal” Israeli
 settlements plans and - once again - calls on the
 nation to stop, says her statement.

"I was deeply concerned to hear the latest
 announcement by the Israeli authorities to
advance settlement plans once more,"
 Ashton says.

 She confirms that the settlements are illegal
 under international law, and remain an obstacle
 to peace, as they “threaten to make the 2-state
 solution impossible.”

 Ashton’s statement came the day Israel’s
 former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon - the
of the settlement program - died.

 Israel announced new settlement plans for
over 1,800 homes on the day.


 US military advisers back in Somalia

The US military has sent a small number of
“uniformed trainers and advisers” to Somalia
for the first time since 1993, when two US
 helicopters were shot down and 18 Americans
 killed, during the “Black Hawk Down” mission.

A small cell of less than two-dozen US military
personnel has been stationed in Somalia’s
capital, Mogadishu, since last Autumn in an
 effort to advise and coordinate with African
 troops fighting Al-Shabab, an Islamic militia
 with ties to Al-Qaeda, three US military
 officials have told The Washington Post.

In late 2014, US military officials indicated that
the Pentagon would be more involved there.

The Pentagon’s top policy official in Africa,
 Amanda Dory, told Congress in October that
the US military will “increase our presence
 in Mogadishu in tandem with the State
 Department” but did not elaborate.

Three anonymous US military officials told
The Washington Post that US Africa Command
sent a small amount of advisers to Mogadishu
 in the Autumn, to coordinate with Somali
security forces a the regional coalition of
 African troops.

The Pentagon declined to comment on the plans.

This clandestine deployment ends two decades
 of US’ unofficial policy that prohibited any long-
term US military presence on the ground in
 Somalia, despite the country being considered
 a failed state, teeming with pirates and militant
 Islamic organizations.

Yet the informal policy has not kept the US
from actively participating in Somali affairs.

 President Barack Obama’s administration runs
surveillance drones out of neighboring Djibouti,
occasionally using attack drones to conduct
 airstrikes from Somali skies.

 In addition, elite Special Operations forces have
 entered Somalia for swift counter-terrorism raids
 and hostage situations.

The CIA has also operated a base in Somalia for
 some time, financing Somali forces fighting Al-
Shabab and other entities.

 Journalist Jeremy Scahill has documented
 the CIA’s secretive movements in Somalia.

In 2011, he revealed the existence of the CIA’s
 counterterrorism centre at Mogadishu airport.

 He also reported on a secret prison in the US-
funded Somali National Security Agency, which
according to his sources, was used by the US
 to interrogate prisoners.

In response to The Washington Post’s story Friday,
 he tweets, “US has had military 'adviser/trainers'
 in Somalia for years. Not new.”

 According to an ABC report, US personnel have
 gone into Somalia, but the latest deployment
"is the first permanent posting since 1993".

The US finally recognized the federal government
of Somalia in 2013, reestablishing diplomatic ties
 for the first time since the Somali government
collapsed in 1991. The State Department still
 doesn't have a permanent presence there.

In recent years, the US has spent over US$500
 million to train and arm an African Union security
 force of over 18,000 soldiers amid the ongoing
 chaos and famine in Somalia.

Most of the forces are trained outside Somalia by
 US contractors and uniformed military advisers.

The US has also spent around $170 million to boost
 the often-ineffective Somali national army.

African Union forces control most of Mogadishu,
 though Al-Shabab still holds most of the country.

 It announced a merger with Al-Qaeda two years
 ago, though how much of a threat they pose to
 the US, is disputed by US analysts.

Despite The Washington Post’s report that “fewer
 than two-dozen troops” were sent to Mogadishu,
 ABC News reported late Friday that “less than”
 five US advisers are now stationed there,
according to a Department of Defense official.

ABC News also tweeted “advisers were sent to
 Mogadishu after Hagel received request from
Somali gov't & African Union Mission in Somalia.”



Americans took to the streets in January
to demand the closure of Guantanamo prison
 on the 12th anniversary of the notorious US-
run prison’s opening.

On January 11th, 2002, the first prisoners
were airlifted into a
prison complex at the
Guantanamo Bay US
Naval Base in Cuba,
after George Bush’s
November 13th, 2001
order authorized
the establishment of
the prison and detention
of US-captured
“terror suspects.”

Nevertheless, out of the 779 prisoners ever
at the prison, only 7 men have been
and sentenced.

 According to The Guardian, those charged and
convicted of a war crime were lucky, because
they have a chance to get out of Guantanamo
 while most of the prisoners who have been held
 there without a charge, could spend the rest of
their lives in prison.

During his presidential campaign in 2008,
President Barack Obama promised to close
 the prison as he acknowledged it as a symbol
of the US government’s violation of human rights.

Now, 12 years after the opening of the prison
 and almost 5 years after Obama promised to
close it, Americans across the land, took
 to the streets, to demand its shut down.

Protests took place at the White House in
Washington, D.C., and in a number of other US
cities including Miami, Santa Monica & Chicago.

In early February last year, Guantanamo prisoners
 began a hunger strike in protest against harsh
 conditions and indefinite detention without trial.
 The mass protest peaked in July as over 130
prisoners were taking part in the hunger strike.

Images from the detention centre published in
 June showed how prisoners were force-fed by
 military guards, being strapped to a metal
restraint chair and fed through the nose with
 plastic tubing.

The US military said in December that it would
 no longer release reports of hunger strikes staged
 at the prison to the public, since disclosing such
 news would "not be in the US's interests".



UK activists also took to the streets in London
  to mark the 12th anniversary of
the opening
of the notorious Guantanamo Bay
prison in
Cuba - and to demand its closure.

The London Guantanamo Campaign (LGC),
calling the demonstration, says activists
 wearing orange jumpsuits & black hoods,
held up placards in Trafalgar Square, to
demand London’s urgent action on the
of the last Gitmo Briton,
Shaker Aamer.

"Twelve years on, the prison at Guantánamo Bay
remains a stain on the current global landscape.
It is unfortunate that it has taken a near-fatal
hunger strike by prisoners to remind the world,
and Barack Obama, of his promise to close the
 facility,” said Aisha Maniar, a spokesperson
the LGC.

According to Manir, the UK government can
 lead the way by using this anniversary to
 renew its demands for the return of Aamer
to his family in London, saying:

“the time to
act is now. There must be
no more



 Countries around the South China Sea should
 have clear vision when it comes to the US
 strategy of hyping up issues in the region,
and return to the path of direct friendly
 consultations, says China, in an op-ed
published in Xinhua.

The US has been playing up the South
 China Sea issue again by pointing fingers
at China's new fishing regulations.

 State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki
told a news briefing that the regulations are
"provocative and potentially dangerous."

Washington's accusations are unreasonable,
 as China's fishing regulations are in line with
 international practice & aimed at strengthening
 the protection of fishery resources and the
maritime environment. The US itself has
rules, the article points out.

It is not the first time Washington has meddled
 in this region. Over past years, the South China
Sea has become a new frontier in the US's
 strategic pivot to Asia.

In July 2010, Hillary Clinton, then US Secretary
 of State, initiated a discussion about navigation
freedom, security and U.S. "national interests"
 in the South China Sea, at a meeting in Hanoi.

Playing up issues again and again in the region,
the US is resorting to the old trick of "divide and
rule" -- first it stirs up tensions, disputes and even
 conflicts, then steps in to pose as "mediator" or
 "judge", in a bid to maximize its own interests.

Countries around the South China Sea should see
 clearly the US strategy and tricks, and see through
 its ambition to manipulate Asian affairs just to
 maintain dominance.

History has repeatedly proven that more often
 than not, the involvement of a superpower in
 disputed areas complicates the situation and
 brings tragedy to the parties concerned.

If countries around the South China Sea are
under any illusion about the US strategy and
start to abandon consensus and understanding
 when it comes to resolving disputes in the area,
they risk turning into chess pieces of the
superpower and paying an unnecessary price
 for any confrontation or friction.

Therefore, concerned countries should demonstrate
 wisdom in resolving issues in the South China Sea
 through direct friendly consultations, and be on guard
 against being a pawn for US ambitions.

It is also time for Washington to stop playing old
 tricks and take a role in advancing peace and
stability in the area, otherwise it will be deemed
 unwelcome in the region, the article concludes.


The President of the Central African Republic,
 Michel Djotodia, has resigned, the Economic
 Community of Central African States says in


An Israeli rights group reveals Tel Aviv’s plans
 to build over 1,800 new settler units in occupied
 Palestinian territory.

The Israel Housing Ministry has announced the
construction of over 1,076 units in the illegally
 annexed East al-Quds (Jerusalem) and 801 more
 in the occupied West Bank, Peace Now says.

The group says the new units will be built in
 existing settlements such as Efrat and Ariel
 in the West Bank, as well as Ramat Shlomo,
 Ramot and Pisgat Zeev in East al-Quds.

The news came days after the latest US
 efforts to broker direct talks between the
 Israeli regime and the Palestinian Authority
 proved fruitless. Israeli settlements are
 the main obstacles in the negotiations.

Responding to the new settlement units,
Palestinians say the move shows Israel
 wants Washington to stay away.

They condemn the decision as yet another
 attempt by PM Benjamin Netanyahu to
"destroy" the so-called two-state solution.

Tel Aviv has given the green light to the
 construction of 272 new settler units, 250 of
 them to be built in Ofra and Karnei Shomron,
 in the heart of the West Bank.

Over half a million Israelis live in over 120 illegal
settlements built since Israel’s occupation of
 the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and
 East al-Quds in 1967.

The United Nations and most countries regard
the Israeli settlements as illegal because the
 territories were captured by Israel in a war in
1967 and are hence subject to the Geneva
Conventions, which forbid construction on
occupied territories.



US forces stationed in Afghanistan accidentally
 gunned down a 4-year-old boy, say local officials.

The incident prompted a rebuke from President
 Karzai who is refusing to sign a security pact
 unless it gives assurances on civilian safety.

Marines based in the violence-plagued province
of Helmand mistakenly opened fire on the boy
 because of poor visibility, say local authorities.

“As the weather was dusty, the marine forces
based there thought he was enemy and opened
 fire. As a result of mistaken fire, he was killed,”
the spokesperson for the governor of Helmand
Province, Omar Zwak, told Reuters.

NATO says an investigation into the matter
will be launched immediately and that all
 possible measures are taken to avoid
civilian casualties.

The four-year-old’s death at the hands of US
 troops sparked a furious reaction from the
 Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who demanded
 an immediate end to all military operations on
 civilian homes, and clearly shown dedication
 to the peace process, before any security pact
 can be signed.

"We have called … for an absolute end to ISAF/
NATO military operations on homes and villages
 in order to avoid such killings, where innocent
children or civilians are the victims," presidential
 spokesperson, Aimal Faizi, said re the boy's death.

The US and Kabul are currently at loggerheads
 over a security pact that would see a US troop
presence after the US’s scheduled withdrawal
 in December.

The Obama Administration pressured Karzai to
 sign the agreement before a December 31st
deadline, and continues to press now.

It argues that if the US does not leave behind
 at least 8,000 troops it could allow the Taliban
 to regain a foothold and plunge the country
 into “chaos”.

The Afghan government rejects these claims
 as “baseless” and intimates that there is an
 ulterior motive behind the security pact.

"We strongly reject that as baseless as they
have in the past been proved inaccurate,"
 Faizi told Reuters.

President Karzai says what continues to happen
 in Helmand province "reveals that American
 forces have no respect for Afghan lives."

He says that if such “cruelty” goes on, “the
security pact will not be signed with America.”

Washington has recently been complaining to
the Afghan leadership after Kabul announced
 the release of 72 prisoners the US deems
 “dangerous criminals” suspected of “terror-
related crimes”.

 The Afghan government says there was too little
evidence to warrant a trial for the detainees and
 it could not allow “innocent Afghan citizens to
 be kept in detention for months and years
without a trial, for no reason at all.”


South Korea Halts Tear Gas Exports to Bahrain

South Korea has suspended tear gas exports
to Bahrain, citing an unstable political situation
 in the Gulf state.

South Korea’s Defense Acquisition Program
 Administration, which oversees the country’s
military trade, told two companies that sought
 approval to export to Bahrain in October and
 November to suspend shipments.

Lee Jung-geun, a spokesperson for the defense
 agency, said the decision had been made
 because of the “unstable politics in the country
 [Bahrain], people’s death due to tear gas and
 complaints from human rights groups”.

The Bahraini government did not respond to
 requests for a comment.

The move comes after months of campaigning
 by rights groups who say the Bahraini authorities’
misuse of tear gas has led to dozens of deaths
during peaceful protests against the government.

Bahrain’s interior ministry in June solicited
bids for 1.6m tear gas projectiles, 90,000
tear gas grenades and 145,000 stun grenades,
 according to a tender document leaked to
 Bahrain Watch, an advocacy group.

The order would have been of a similar magnitude
 to the 2m tear gas projectiles activists estimate
 have been fired by the security forces since pro-
democracy protests swept the strategic island
 in February 2011.

“This is also a clear message to any other
countries considering supplying tear gas to
 Bahrain that profiting from repression is
unacceptable,” Bahrain Watch says in
a statement.

One of the companies seeking to export tear gas,
 DaeKwang Chemical, says it is now “unlikely”
to provide any material to Bahrain owing to
increasing protests from human rights groups,
 says Kim Jong-bae, chief executive.

DaeKwang had been planning to sell 3m tear
gas canisters for around Won30bn ($28m) but
the deal will probably be cancelled, he adds.

Tear gas projectiles, which are sometimes
thrown into houses, have caused as many
 as 39 deaths, according to Physicians for
Human Rights.

The government has always
denied that
these deaths can be attributed
to the use
of tear gas.


Bolivia to Promote from G-77 a Fair,
 Peaceful, Sustainable, World Order

President Evo Morales says that Bolivia
will promote, from the Presidency of the
 Group of 77 plus China, a fair and peaceful
world order based on harmony with nature.

"We will defend a planet without impositions,
hierarchies, the plundering of resources, or
interventionist wars; a planet where the rights
 of mother earth are considered", Morales says
  at the United Nations, during the handover
 ceremony of the bloc's presidency, which
 brings together 133 developing countries.

To Morales, the construction - with no
 exceptions - of a new international
order, must have 10 objectives,
 which he describes at the event.

"From the G-77, we must promote a change
 in the priorities of the generation of wealth,
 to switch from spending and hoarding profits
 to satisfying the needs of human beings",
he said at the ceremony, as Bolivia took
over the presidency from Fiji.

The Latin American leader then stressed the
 urgency of replacing 'representative' democracy
 with participatory and community democracies,
 so as to put an end to the dominance of elites,
and ensure that all voices are heard equally.

Bolivia will head the G-77 plus China in 2014.
 The D-77 was created to articulate & promote
 the interests of the states of the South, on
economic issues within the UN system.



As 17 Palestinians are injured by Israeli troops
in the occupied West Bank, Fatah officials are
to pay a visit to the Gaza Strip for reconciliation
 with Palestinian resistance movement, Hamas.

Mohamed Shtayyeh, a senior Fatah official,
announced Tues. night that he and Azzam
 al-Ahmed, another top Fatah member, met
with Khaled Mashaal, the political bureau
 chief of Hamas, two weeks ago in Doha,
 Qatar, and discussed ways of achieving
reconciliation between the two factions.

“We are prepared for reconciliation and ending
the split,” Shtayyeh said, adding, “Brother
 Haniyeh is making a big effort regarding
reconciliation and we welcome his
recent measures.”

The announcement came the day after
Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh said
Fatah members can return to the Gaza Strip.

"The [Hamas] government will allow all
Fatah members who are from Gaza and
 who left the Strip [in 2007] to return,
 without any preconditions," Haniyeh
 said on Monday.

He described it as a bid to promote
 Palestinian reconciliation, saying...
 "We promised our people we'd take
 decisions that would reinforce the
 internal front and pave the way for

In 2011, the Palestinian factions of Fatah
 and Hamas signed a reconciliation accord
 to form a transitional unity government,
 which was supposed to pave the way
 for legislative elections before the end
of May 2012. However, the process failed
 and has yet to be implemented.

On January 17, 2013, the two rival Palestinian
 factions agreed, in the Egyptian capital Cairo,
 to revive consultations over the deal.

Hamas and Fatah have been at odds since
 the former won Palestinian parliamentary
 elections in January 2006.

Israel reacted to the victory by imposing a
 blockade on the Gaza Strip, ruled by Hamas.

 Fatah, however, set up headquarters in
 the occupied Palestinian territory of
 the West Bank.



Dutch Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans
 has called on the EU to revise its relationship
 with Cuba while visiting the Caribbean nation.

Timmermans says the best way to promote
 change in the socialist island nation just
south of the US is through dialogue, and
not by isolation.

Speaking in Havana while visiting a football
 camp for Cuban children on Tuesday, the
 top Dutch diplomat also underlined that
differences of opinion between the EU
and Cuba would likely remain.

"But we have seen that not meeting each
 other, not talking about this, doesn't
 really help," adding that dialogue could
"bring the relationship forward."

Describing the economic reforms under way
 there as “encouraging," Timmermans was
 cited by state-run newspaper Juventud
 Rebelde as telling the Cuban Vice-President
 of the Council of Ministers Ricardo Cabrisas
 that the economic changes were a chance
 to improve business & social ties between
 the two countries.

Timmermans is the first Dutch foreign minister
 to visit Cuba since the nation’s 1959 revolution
 against US-backed dictator Fulgencio Batista.

The EU has limited its political ties with the
Cuban government in a bid to push what it
 describes as a ‘multi-party democracy.’

In 1996, the European bloc agreed on a set
 of rules governing its relations with Cuba,
called the Common Position.

It boasts that the EU's objective is "to
 encourage a process of transition to a
pluralist democracy and respect for
human rights & fundamental freedoms,
as well as sustainable recovery and
improvement in the living standards of
the Cuban people."

Cuba rejects the so-called Common Position,
 arguing that it constitutes interference in
 its internal affairs.

The EU, meanwhile, remains a key trading
 partner for Cuba as hundreds of thousands
 of European tourists visit Cuba every year.



Arab scholars, politicians, students and activists
 have taken part in an international conference in
the Tunisian Capital, Tunis, to support the growing
 anti-Israeli resistance front, Press TV reports.

The 2-day conference kicked off on Tuesday,
 one week ahead of the third anniversary of
the popular revolution in the Arab country.

During the conference, participants shed light
 on the dangers of normalizing ties with Israel
 and slammed human rights abuses by the
Zionist regime in occupied Palestine territories.

“The whole world should be aware that
negotiating with Israel and its racist
 government and extremist settlers is
 betting on a mirage,” M. Barghouti, 
general secretary of the Palestine
 National Initiative says.

Some scholars at the conference consider
Israel’s crimes against Palestinians a strategy
 to occupy more lands in order to impose
 a “Zionist presence” in the whole Arab world,
believing the political unrest in the region
gives Israel the opportunity to commit
new crimes in the occupied
Palestinian territories.

The scholars expressed concern over 
Arab countries in the region normalizing
relations with Israel, saying, “This is a real
 danger, we are fighting an enemy within.”



Today (Wed), Morsi's trial is postponed due
to "cold weather".

Muslim Brotherhood lawyers have submitted
 a formal complaint to the International Criminal
Court re the army’s “crimes against humanity.”

The Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party
 lawyers said in a press conference in London
 on Monday, that they have asked the ICC to
 investigate the crimes the military committed
 against the Brotherhood's leaders, members
 and supporters.

The lawyers plan to meet with the ICC to
 discuss opening a preliminary probe into
 “crimes against humanity.”

The lawyers state that their declaration
was lodged on December 20th, on behalf
of the first democratically elected President
and MB leader, Mohamed Morsi, who was
 ousted by the army on July 3rd, 2013.

The complaint details crimes committed by
 the Egyptian army since Morsi’s ouster and
reportedly includes evidence of murder,
unlawful imprisonment, torture, and

“The message must be sent out clearly to
 the Egyptian military regime that it runs
 the risk of prosecution. This is what the
declaration accepting jurisdiction aims
 to achieve,” says John Dugard, a South
African lawyer and member of the legal
team appointed by the Freedom and
 Justice Party.

Supporters and members of the Muslim
Brotherhood have been facing a heavy
crackdown by the military and its
 appointed interim government since July.

The clampdown increased in December,
 after the coup leaders' interim government
 designated the Brotherhood as a “terrorist

 On December 31st, an Egyptian court ordered
 the assets of hundreds of Muslim Brotherhood
 leaders (and their families) to be confiscated.

The Egyptian Interior Ministry said on January
 6th, that Morsi will be denied any visitors for
a one-month period, starting on January 2nd.



A report on UK weapons exports has triggered
 accusations that the UK may be arming Somali
pirates and dictatorial regimes.

 MPs allege this is due to the sheer volume of
guns being exported, and poor oversight.

An urgent review has been launched over why
 some 44,000 guns have been exported to East
in the last 15 months.

 Government data shows that among the arms
 were 30,000 assault rifles, 2,536 pistols and
11,000 rifles, which ended up in countries with
poor human rights records, like Somalia, Egypt
 and Sri Lanka.

 Some of the weapons were also exported to
Russia and South Africa.

The report, part of a wide-ranging inquiry into
 arms exports, notes that MPs want to know
why UK firms stocked such huge numbers of
 new weapons, as they already had thousands
of weapons in their armories before April 2012.

MPs say the sheer volume of weapons being
exported means it is difficult to keep tabs on
 where they end up, prompting speculation that
the UK could be arming pirates in Somalia.

The House of Commons Arms Export Controls
Committee says that the Business Department,
which approves weapons exports, did not
 thoroughly assess where the arms were sent.

MPs also doubt whether UK export policy
 has the “balance right between the arms
 trade, surveillance equipment and our
 economic interests.”

"The evidence provided to us by Mr Bell seems
to suggest that the department did not have a
process of looking at the cumulative number of
weapons and whether those exports fitted the
 scenario on the ground needed for protection."

Head of the Export Control Organisation at the
 Business Department, Edward Bell, says he
understands the worries of MPs, given the large
 quantity of arms, although he denies that the
 weapons have fallen into any wrong hands.

“I understand the concern about the volumes …
having now heard about the volumes, I would
 like to do a bit more digging around that.

"I have no concerns that anything untoward has
happened, but I certainly will have a closer look
at the volumes involved,” he has told MPs.

The Business Department has now launched
 an internal inquiry into weapons exports.



The death toll in Egypt in demonstrations
has reached 17, as the army-backed
"interim" government vows to "crush"
the Muslim Brotherhood and its support.

French Majority Rejects Intervention
 in the Central African Republic

About 60% of the French population reject military
 intervention by France in the Central African Republic
 (CAR), says a survey by the Institute of Analysis
 and Opinion (Ifop).

The survey, released in the newspaper Sud Ouest
Dimanche, shows that support for the so-called
 sangaris operation, launched in December, is
 rapidly eroding.

Last month opinion was divided - 51% supported
 the deployment of French troops in the CAR - now
 only 41% are in favour, and 59 disapprove, says
 the latest survey.

The institute attributes the rejection to several factors,
 including the effect of fatigue on citizens after several
interventions abroad in recent years (Afghanistan,
 Ivory Coast, Libya and Mali).

Another factor is the uniqueness of the conflict in the
CAR "with war aims and identifiable enemies," the
 Ifop adds.

On 5 December, President Francois Hollande
 announced the shipment of about 1600 French
troops to its former colony, after the Security
 Council of the UN said 'yes' to the operation.

The French authorities said then that the intervention
 "would be quick and aim to restore order and security"
in CAR, which had imploded after the coup last March.

France also began a similar deployment to Mali in
 January 2013. A year later, 3,000 troops remain.

In an interview with L'Humanité newspaper, the
 former Senegalese Minister Hamath Dansokho
 questions the effectiveness of French military
 interventions in Africa to address the serious
problems in certain countries.



The number of internally displaced due to the
 conflict in the CAR now exceeds 935,000, warns
 the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

Those citizens who fled their homes because of
a lack of security, now suffer extreme difficulties
 in getting humanitarian assistance, adds UNHCR.

Attacks on civilians, looting, and the presence of
armed people in settlements for the displaced,
 seriously hinder access to assistance for those
urgently needing it, says UNHCR spokesperson
 Babar Baloch.

The UNHCR says 60% of the displaced are children.

A deteriorating situation and the long distances
 between settlements for the displaced on the
 outskirts of Bangui, the capital, and poor roads,
 make relief efforts enormously difficult, he says.


Direct South Sudanese Peace Talks Delayed

Government and rebel delegations in South Sudan
 have delayed their first direct peace talks for a
ceasefire, sources close to the process report.

On Friday, the representatives of the two parties
agreed in their meeting with the Intergovernmental
 Authority on Development (IGAD), to start their
first face-to-face talks on Saturday.

However, separate meetings with the IGAD,
which is mediating, continued in the capital to
 set the agenda to be followed, though there is
 no official information about this yet.

Opponents began talks here after an ultimatum
 issued by the IGAD.

They held preliminary meetings on Friday, but the
 delay of contacts decreases hopes of a rapid truce.

Both the South Sudanese Minister of Information,
 Michael Makuei, and the spokesperson for the
insurgents, Yohanis Musa Pouk, state that they
 will not meet until an agenda is adopted.

Violence broke out in South Sudan on Dec. 15
after an alleged attempted coup d'état by former
vice president Reik Machar, according to the
president, Salva Kiir.

Machar denies the allegations and states that,
with this argument, the president seeks to
eliminate his political rivals, but then, later
statements from his underground shelter
 called for the overthrow of Kiir.

According to estimates, in the 3 weeks after
 the uprising in Juba, capital of South Sudan,
about a thousand people died and over 80,000
 are now displaced.



The foreign ministers of Iran and Turkey are
to discuss issues of mutual interests and the
 latest developments in Syria, as well as ways
 to find a peaceful solution to the crisis there.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif
 is on an official visit to Turkey today (Saturday)
 at the invitation of his Turkish counterpart
 Ahmet Davutoglu, says Iran’s Foreign Ministry.

Syria has been gripped by deadly unrest since
 2011. According to reports, Western powers and
their regional allies - especially Qatar, Saudi
Arabia and Turkey - are supporting militants
 operating inside the country.

According to the UN, over 100,000 people
 have been killed and millions displaced in
 attacks gripping Syria, for almost 3 years.

On Oct 28th, Davutoglu described prospects
for further bilateral relations between Ankara
and Tehran as “very positive.”

He said Turkey-Iran relations have witnessed a
great leap over the past 10 years in light of the
goodwill and brotherly interactions between
 officials from the two countries, noting that
there is still potential for stronger mutual ties.


Children deliberately targeted
 in CAR clashes: Aid workers

Aid workers say children are now deliberate
targets of armed gangs in the violence-hit
 Central African Republic (CAR).

Ombretta Pasotti, who coordinates work by
 the Italian NGO Emergency at the pediatric
hospital in CAR's capital, Bangui:

 “Before now, children were collateral victims,
 but today some of them are targeted directly.”

“Some children are victims of stray bullets
 and shell fragments," Pasotti said, adding,
some have also been wounded "by chance."

The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF)
had earlier said in a December 30 statement
that assaults on children “have sunk to a
 vicious new low, with at least two children
 beheaded, and one of them mutilated, in the
 violence that has gripped the capital.”

UNICEF added that in all it had confirmed 16
 killings of children since December 5, while
 60 more youths were injured in clashes.

Meanwhile, the UN agency's representative
 in CAR, Souleymane Diabete, said that
 besides “being directly targeted in atrocious
 revenge attacks,” more children are being
recruited by armed gangs.

The Office of the United Nations High
Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said
 in a Friday statement that a total of 935,000
 people have so far fled their homes because
 of the ongoing clashes in the African country.

The Central African Republic spiraled into chaos
 in March last year when Seleka fighters overthrew
 President Francois Bozizé and brought Michel
 Djotodia to power. Bozizé fled the country
after his ouster.

On September 13, 2013, Djotodia dissolved the
 Seleka coalition. Some of the rebels later joined
 the country’s regular army while some defied.

France invaded CAR on December 5, 2013,
after the UN Security Council adopted a
 resolution giving the African Union and Paris
 the go-ahead to send troops to the country.



A joint NATO-Afghan military base has come
 under attack in Eastern Afghanistan with one
NATO soldier killed in the assault, Press
TV reports.

The Taliban militants say they have attacked
the base belonging to the US-led forces in
 Afghanistan’s eastern province of Nangarhar.

The militants reportedly attacked the base,
situated in Nangarhar’s Ghazni Khail village,
 with a car bomb on Saturday. Gunfire was
 heard after the blast.

The NATO-led International Security Assistance
 Force (ISAF) said one soldier was killed in the
 assault, without giving further details. Afghan
 sources said all six  assailants were killed.

Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid claims
 responsibility for the attack in a statement.

On December 18, 2013, militants carried out
another attack on a US base in Nangarhar.

NATO has stationed more than 84,000
troops in war-torn Afghanistan.

The United States and its allies invaded
Afghanistan in 2001 as part of Washington’s
so-called war on terror. That removed the
Taliban from power, but the country is
 still gripped by insecurity.



At least fourteen people have been killed in fresh 
clashes between security forces and supporters
 of ousted president, Mohamed Morsi, across Egypt.
The clashes broke out when security forces used 
tear gas, bird shot and live gunfire to disperse
 large crowds of angry protesters.
The casualties have been reported from the cities
 of Cairo, Alexandria, Suez, Ismailia, and Fayoum.
Similar violence has been also reported from Assiut 
and northern Sinai.
Security forces also rounded up a large number of 
protesters across the violence-wracked country.
Demonstrators were out joining rallies after Friday 
prayers to demand an end to military rule and
 voice opposition to the new constitution.
The pro-Morsi group, known as Egypt Anti-Coup 
Alliance, had urged its supporters to stage 
mass rallies across the country.
Egypt has been tense ahead of Morsi’s trial
 and an upcoming referendum on a new 
Mohamed Morsi is set to go on a new trial.
Judicial sources said Thursday that the Cairo 
Appeals Court has set January 28, 2014, as
 the date for Morsi's new trial.
The Muslim Brotherhood and its allied groups 
have also pledged to boycott the constitution
 referendum set to be held this month.


UN: 2013 deadliest for Iraq since 2008

A total of 8,868 people, including 7,818 civilians,
 have been killed in violent attacks across Iraq
in 2013, the United Nations reports – the highest
 annual death toll there in five years.

In December alone, at least 759 Iraqis were killed
and another 1,345 wounded in terrorist attacks
and violence, reports the UN Assistance Mission
 for Iraq (UNIRAQ), which monitors the impact of
armed violence and terrorism on Iraqi civilians.

May was the most violent month, according to
 the mission’s statistics, with a total of 3,154
civilian casualties (including civilian police), of
whom, 963 people were killed and 2,191 wounded.

Since April 2013, the monthly number of civilians
 killed and injured has remained above 1,700.

According to UNIRAQ, Baghdad was the worst
 affected area in Iraq last year for civilian casualties,
 with 809 (including 254 killed), followed by Nineva
 (331 casualties), Salahadin (262 casualties) and
Diyala (260 casualties).

“This is a sad and terrible record which confirms
once again the urgent need for the Iraqi authorities
to address the roots of violence to curb this infernal