Executive Producers: Sir Endipity Pedro Vaz, Sir John of Stratford the Red Knight, Sir David Foley Grand Duke of the USA, Sir Random Hillbilly, Sir Guardog of Sin City, Sir. Kraut Brothers (of 89th and Bluegrass)
Associate Executive Producers: Baron Sander van Hocksbergen, Sir Arthur Hugger of Kitties, Jason Peterson, Jennifer Lovberg
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Just finishing up episode 638 and I heard the clip about coal rolling. We never had a term for it but have been doing it for years in Northern Colorado and Southeastern Wyoming. Two of my family members have large 3500 Dodge Ram pickups. Both are chipped and set up to blow extra black smoke when the engine is revved. For fun we used to go bar hopping in the big city on Saturday nights. We would look for unsuspecting motorists with their windows down at stop lights. As soon as we had a green light we would floor it and fill their car with smoke. Yes we were total douche bags but what do you expect from a bunch of 20 something farm kids looking to have a good time in the city. Hope this story brought a smile to someone's face. Feel free to use it on a future show if you so choose.
I wanted to chime in on the number string Christine Legard(eh, to lazy to check the spelling) posed in the press conference.
I understand that these numbers mean something to those who follow the occult so I won't dismiss her use of it. Usually I do not pay much respect to numerology unless one of the people who do are using it for messaging.
I listened to the clip you played on the show on youtube a few times and I got July 27th from it. First she refers to 7 as a stand alone number, then she stated the odd "G7 or G20". Since the 7 was established the second seven should be used with the 20 making 27. I first thought it was 27 when I heard you play the clip. I didn't realize you came up with 20th until today's show.
The thing that really caught my attention with this is that it coincides with that odd Siri message where if you ask Siri what happens on July 27th the program answers "Opening of the Gates of Hades".
In numerology the symbols(numbers) can be inverted or mirror imaged and even reduced(it really never ends and is why those who keep tabs on it can become crazy people). Now you reduce 27 to it's root of 3 nines and invert them for 666. I'm not sure why this is legit but a friend who is a kind of well know researcher in this (Mark Passio) explained it to me. I found the explanation so convoluted that I can't begin to remember how it worked.
I remember a conversation about a year ago we had where he kept going back to 27 being a power number. Since 9 is the most important number to these occultists and 27 contains three nines and three being the root of nine. 81 is also important because 9 is it's cube root 9 to the power of three and if you add 8 + 1 you get nine. So maybe on August First Hades poops out the shit the ends the world. oh yeah, the 27th is Saturday which is also important for the robe wearing freaks being Saturn's Day Saturn being Satan being Hades... Oh wait, it's sunday, it's after midnight. never mind.
Hey? Amazon prime is now listing Rubicon as unavailable, my wife and I have watched the first ten episodes and are very into the series, and we are cut off. Seems like Rubicon is like the plane that was shot down. When I tried to check at Amazon I ran into legal boiler plate B.S. I gave up!
More than six decades ago, courageous Americans joined Korean patriots as they defended their right to decide their own fate. They fought through mud, snow, and heavy fire. As they stood firm against the tide of Communism, nearly 37,000 Americans gave their last full measure of devotion. Thanks to all who served and all who died, allied forces pushed invading armies back across the 38th parallel, and on July 27, 1953, they secured a hard-earned victory. On National Korean War Veterans Armistice Day, we honor the men and women who sacrificed so a people they had never met would know the blessings of liberty and security.
Yet our gratitude is not enough. As a Nation, we must do more to keep faith with our veterans and the families that stand with them always. Just as they have done their duty, we must do ours. We will never waver in our commitment to fully account for the captured and the missing, nor will we ever stop striving to give our veterans the care and opportunities they have earned.
As we salute the men and women who made this victory possible, we reflect on the open and prosperous society that is their enduring legacy. The Republic of Korea has risen from occupation and ruin to become one of the world's most vibrant democracies. While carefully defending the peace won 61 years ago, the South Korean people have built an advanced, dynamic economy. Today, the alliance between the United States and the Republic of Korea -- forged in war and fortified by common ideals -- remains as strong as ever.
This progress was not an accident. It reminds us that liberty and democracy do not come easily; we must win them, tend to them constantly, and defend them without fail. As we mark this anniversary, let us show the full care and support of a grateful Nation to every service member who fought on freedom's frontier.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim July 27, 2014, as National Korean War Veterans Armistice Day. I call upon all Americans to observe this day with appropriate ceremonies and activities that honor our distinguished Korean War veterans.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-fifth day of July, in the year of our Lord two thousand fourteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-ninth.
Presidential Proclamation -- Anniversary of the Americans With Disabilities Act
ANNIVERSARY OF THE AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT, 2014
- - - - - - -
BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
Over two decades ago, Americans -- some in wheelchairs, some using sign language, and all with an abiding belief in our Nation's promise -- came together to strengthen our commitment to equality for all. At a time when people with disabilities were turned away at movie theaters, rejected for employment, and measured by what so many thought they could not do, leaders and activists refused to accept the world as it was. In small towns and big cities, they spoke out. They staged sit-ins, authored discrimination diaries, and scaled the Capitol steps. Finally, they realized their call for simple justice in one of the most comprehensive civil rights bills in our country's history. On the anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), we honor those who fought against discrimination, and we recommit to tearing down barriers and guaranteeing all Americans the right to pursue their own measure of happiness.
The ADA promises equal access and equal opportunity -- regardless of ability. It secures each person's right to an independent life, and it enables our country and our economy to benefit from the talents and contributions of all Americans.
Even as we commemorate this milestone, we recognize that too often, casual discrimination or fear of the unfamiliar still prevent disabled Americans from achieving their full potential. That is why my Administration is pushing to fulfill the promise of and better enforce the ADA. Fifteen years after the Olmstead decision -- in which the Supreme Court ruled it discrimination to unjustifiably institutionalize someone with a disability -- we have increased the number of homes integrated into communities that are available for persons with disabilities. Under the Affordable Care Act, insurance companies are banned from discriminating on the basis of pre-existing conditions, medical history, or genetic information. Expanding on my Executive Order to establish the Federal Government as a model employer of individuals with disabilities, my Administration is also providing Federal contractors with the tools and resources to recruit, retain, and promote people with disabilities.
The nearly one in five Americans living with a disability are our parents, children, neighbors, colleagues, and friends. They are entitled to the same rights and freedoms as everyone else. Today, we celebrate their accomplishments, stand against discrimination in all its forms, and honor all who sacrificed so future generations might know a more equal society.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim July 26, 2014, the Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. I encourage Americans across our Nation to celebrate the 24th anniversary of this civil rights law and the many contributions of individuals with disabilities.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-fifth day of July, in the year of our Lord two thousand fourteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-ninth.
Presidential Proclamation -- Minority Enterprise Development Week, 2014
Our Nation thrives when we fulfill the promise of opportunity for all -- when each of us has the same chance to succeed, when every American can find pride and independence in their work, when our shared prosperity rests upon the broad shoulders of a rising middle class. With talent, dedication, and bold ideas, minority entrepreneurs reach for that promise. They bring jobs and services to communities across our country. They innovate and create. They open new markets to goods stamped "Made in the U.S.A." During Minority Enterprise Development Week, we celebrate their essential role in our economy and our communities.
Minority-owned businesses employ millions of Americans, and my Administration is proud to invest in their success. We have increased access to contracts and capital, reduced burdensome paperwork, and connected more minority enterprises to booming export markets. Since I took office, my Administration has made more loans to small business owners than any other. By hosting workshops and through www.Business.USA.gov, we are empowering minority entrepreneurs with the tools to help their businesses grow.
America's great strength lies in our diversity -- of people, perspectives, and ideas. We cannot succeed when a shrinking few do very well and a growing many barely make it. But if we invest in small businesses and give all our entrepreneurs a chance to compete, new opportunities will open, and we will flourish -- as individuals and as a Nation.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim July 27 through August 2, 2014, as Minority Enterprise Development Week. I call upon all Americans to celebrate this week with appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities to recognize the many contributions of our Nation's minority enterprises.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-fifth day of July, in the year of our Lord two thousand fourteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-ninth.
Just Licensing signs Bavaria Sonor for German speaking markets and Lixesa for Spain and Portugal.
Just Licensing, the master agent for the WikiLeaks brand and Julian Assange's name and likeness, has signed deals for the brand with Bavaria Sonor for German speaking markets and Lixesa for Spain and Portugal.
The agreements continue the firm's plans to build a network of powerful agents in all key territories for WikiLeaks.
''Telling the truth is about to become fashionable,'' said Olafur V Sigurvinsson, Just Licensing CEO.
''From the widespread interest that we see already, these two edgy brands: WikiLeaks and Julian Assange, are poised to make waves in fashion, accessories and other consumer product categories that people use to express themselves.
"So I am extremely pleased to announce agency agreements with Bavaria Sonor and Lixesa to bring WikiLeaks branded merchandise to market. We look forward to working with both companies to build and execute outstanding licensing programs as we roll out across Europe.''
Jos(C) F(C)lix Garca, Lixesa managing director, added: ''People today are passionate about freedom, transparency and simply being told the truth.
"The support WikiLeaks enjoys in Spain is phenomenal. Research has shown that 85 per cent of people support WikiLeaks, so we believe that we will see rapid traction in the marketplace.''
the quality or fact of being greater in number, quantity, or importance.
"the preponderance of women among older people"
synonyms:prevalence, predominance, dominance
"the preponderance of women among older people"
bulk, majority, larger part, best/better part
"the preponderance of the evidence"
predominance, dominance, ascendancy, supremacy, power
"the preponderance of the unions"
Israel / Palestine
Its often called 'mowing the grass'.
Operations by IDF in the Gaza region
Always the same result: Massive civilian casualtiees in gaza and infrastructure losses, Huge international image problems for Israel
Yet, this time is different. Its wore than ever
Bibi wants to keep the status quo, occupation of The west bank and east jerusalem and does not appear to want a 2 state solution
What is different on the palestinian side is that their governance used to be divided: Abbas' Fatah political party and the fundemental Hamas, who spilt after massiv eshit in 2007
Hamas grabbed the Gaza regio, and Fatah, the internationally recognized Palestinian governance retained essentially the west bank.
They were never really able to re-uinite, to Isrel's advantage
A divided enemy is better!
The latest escalation didn't just start with rockets being fired on Israel, but with the unificatio of the palestinian unity government on june 2nd
The Palestinian government of 2014 is a unity government formed on 2 June 2014 under Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. The new government was formed after an agreement between the Fatah and Hamas parties. Before the agreement there were two separate governments, one ruled by Fatah in the West Bank and the other by Hamas in the Gaza Strip. The European Union, the United Nations, the United States, China, India, Russia and Turkey all agreed to work with it.The Israeli government condemned the unity government because it views Hamas as a terrorist organization.
This unity came about starting in 2011 with the 'arab spring'
It supported Assad in Syria, and therfore received support from Iran as financiers and weapons suppliers
Hamas also had the support of Egypts Mohammad Morsi, who was Muslim Brotherhood...good pals of Hamas
And then the power in Egypt changed...Sisi came in, The Brotherhood was categorized as a terrorist group and all the supply tunnels that led under the border to Gaza which supplied everything...weapons, food, medecine, money even a pair of live lions were blocked.
Hamas essentially went broke, and started to loose credibility with the population
Then the strategy continued: blocling finanical aid from Qatar for the 40,000 Hamas civil servants payroll.
Then we had the spark of the kidnapped and killed teenagers, with reciprocalpalestinian kid burned alive
So: These people are trapped. They will eventually run out of bottle rockets
Protective Edge is meant to break up the unity government
Hamas is actually needed to keep the multitude of micro terror groups organized in Gaza
So this is really about re-opening the tunnels from egypt or any other form of supply routes, but of course not for weapons
If something doesn't happen, it will be an intifada and that will result in massive loss of life
If Palestinians develop their own gas resources, the resulting economic transformation could in turn fundamentally increase Palestinian clout.
Israel's defence minister is on record confirming that military plans to uproot Hamas' are about securing control of Gaza's gas reserves
The conquest of Gaza is accelerating. Israel has now launched its ground invasion, bringing the Palestinian death toll to 260, 80% of whom are civilians.
A further 1,500 have been wounded and 1,300 Palestinian homes destroyed. Israel's goal, purportedly, is to "restore quiet" by ending Hamas rocket attacks on Israel.
Last Tuesday, Israeli defence minister and former Israeli Defence Force (IDF) chief of staff Moshe Ya'alon announced that Operation Protective Edge marks the beginning of a protracted assault on Hamas.
The operation "won't end in just a few days", he said, adding that "we are preparing to expand the operation by all means standing at our disposal so as to continue striking Hamas."
The price will be very heavy ... yes, $4 billion!
The following morning, he went on: "We continue with strikes that draw a very heavy price from Hamas. We are destroying weapons, terror infrastructures, command and control systems, Hamas institutions, regime buildings, the houses of terrorists, and killing terrorists of various ranks of command ...
"The campaign against Hamas will expand in the coming days, and the price the organization will pay will be very heavy."
But in 2007, a year before Operation Cast Lead, Ya'alon's concerns focused on the 1.4 trillion cubic feet of natural gas discovered in 2000 off the Gaza coast, valued at $4 billion.
Ya'alon dismissed the notion that "Gaza gas can be a key driver of an economically more viable Palestinian state" as "misguided".
The problem, he said is that "Proceeds of a Palestinian gas sale to Israel would likely not trickle down to help an impoverished Palestinian public. Rather, based on Israel's past experience, the proceeds will likely serve to fund further terror attacks against Israel ...
"A gas transaction with the Palestinian Authority will, by definition, involve Hamas. Hamas will either benefit from the royalties or it will sabotage the project and launch attacks against Fatah, the gas installations, Israel - or all three ...
"It is clear that without an overall military operation to uproot Hamas control of Gaza, no drilling work can take place without the consent of the radical Islamic movement."
Resource competition is at the heart of the conflict
Operation Cast Lead did not succeed in uprooting Hamas, but the conflict did take the lives of 1,387 Palestinians (773 of whom were civilians) and 9 Israelis (3 of whom were civilians).
Since the discovery of oil and gas in the Occupied Territories, resource competition has increasingly been at the heart of the conflict, motivated largely by Israel's increasing domestic energy woes.
Mark Turner, founder of the Research Journalism Initiative, reported that the siege of Gaza and ensuing military pressure was designed to "eliminate" Hamas as "a viable political entity in Gaza" to generate a "political climate" conducive to a gas deal.
This involved rehabilitating the defeated Fatah as the dominant political player in the West Bank, and "leveraging political tensions between the two parties, arming forces loyal to Abbas and the selective resumption of financial aid."
Ya'alon's comments in 2007 illustrate that the Israeli cabinet is not just concerned about Hamas - but concerned that if Palestinians develop their own gas resources, the resulting economic transformation could in turn fundamentally increase Palestinian clout.
It's not called Leviathan for nothing
Meanwhile, Israel has made successive discoveries in recent years - such as the Leviathan field estimated to hold 18 trillion cubic feet of natural gas - which could transform the country from energy importer into aspiring energy exporter with ambitions to supply Europe, Jordan and Egypt.
The chief obstacle is that much of the 122 trillion cubic feet of gas and 1.6 billion barrels of oil in the Levant Basin Province lies in territorial waters where borders are hotly disputed between Israel, Syria, Lebanon, Gaza and Cyprus.
Amidst this regional jockeying for gas, Israel has its own little-understood energy challenges. First, it could take until 2020 for much of these domestic resources to be mobilised.
Worse, a 2012 letter by two Israeli government chief scientists - which the Israeli government chose not to disclose - warned the government that Israel still had insufficient gas resources to sustain exports despite all the stupendous discoveries. The letter, according to Ha'aretz, stated:
"We believe Israel should increase its use of natural gas by 2020 and should not export gas. The Natural Gas Authority's estimates are lacking. There's a gap of 100 to 150 billion cubic meters between the demand projections that were presented to the committee and the most recent projections. The gas reserves are likely to last even less than 40 years!"
Israel's looming power crisis
As Dr Gary Luft - an advisor to US Energy Security Council - wrote in the Journal of Energy Security, "with the depletion of Israel's domestic gas supplies accelerating, and without an imminent rise in Egyptian gas imports, Israel could face a power crisis in the next few years ...
"If Israel is to continue to pursue its natural gas plans it must diversify its supply sources."
Israel's new discoveries do not, as yet, offer an immediate solution as electricity prices reach record levels, heightening the imperative to diversify supply. This appears to be behind Prime Minister Netanyahu's announcement in February 2011 that it was now time to seal the Gaza gas deal.
But even after a new round of negotiations was kick-started between the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority and Israel in September 2012, Hamas was excluded from these talks, and thus rejected the legitimacy of any deal.
Earlier this year, Hamas condemned a PA deal to purchase $1.2 billion worth of gas from Israel Leviathan field over a 20 year period once the field starts producing.
Simultaneously, the PA has held several meetings with the British Gas Group to develop the Gaza gas field, albeit with a view to exclude Hamas - and thus Gazans - from access to the proceeds. That plan had been the brainchild of Quartet Middle East envoy Tony Blair.
But the PA was also courting Russia's Gazprom to develop the Gaza marine gas field, and talks have been going on between Russia, Israel and Cyprus, though so far it is unclear what the outcome of these have been. Also missing was any clarification on how the PA would exert control over Gaza, which is governed by Hamas.
The curse of Gaza's fossil fuel wealth
According to Anais Antreasyan in the University of California's Journal of Palestine Studies, the most respected English language journal devoted to the Arab-Israeli conflict, Israel's stranglehold over Gaza has been designed to make "Palestinian access to the Marine-1 and Marine-2 gas wells impossible."
Israel's long-term goal "besides preventing the Palestinians from exploiting their own resources, is to integrate the gas fields off Gaza into the adjacent Israeli offshore installations."
This is part of a wider strategy of "separating the Palestinians from their land and natural resources in order to exploit them, and, as a consequence, blocking Palestinian economic development.
"Despite all formal agreements to the contrary, Israel continues to manage all the natural resources nominally under the jurisdiction of the PA, from land and water to maritime and hydrocarbon resources."
Hamas - an obstacle to peace? Or an obstacle to a gas deal?
For the Israeli government, Hamas continues to be the main obstacle to the finalisation of the gas deal. In the incumbent defence minister's words:
"Israel's experience during the Oslo years indicates Palestinian gas profits would likely end up funding terrorism against Israel. The threat is not limited to Hamas ... It is impossible to prevent at least some of the gas proceeds from reaching Palestinian terror groups."
The only option, therefore, is yet another "military operation to uproot Hamas".
Unfortunately, for the IDF uprooting Hamas means destroying the group's perceived civilian support base - which is why Palestinian civilian casualties massively outweigh those of Israelis. Both are obviously reprehensible, but Israel's capacity to inflict destruction is simply far greater.
The IDF's aggressive new combat doctrine
In the wake of Operation Cast Lead, the Jerusalem-based Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (Pcati) found that the IDF had adopted a more aggressive combat doctrine based on two principles:
"zero casualties" for IDF soldiers at the cost of deploying increasingly indiscriminate firepower in densely populated areas;and the "dahiya doctrine" promoting targeting of civilian infrastructure to create widespread suffering amongst the population with a view to foment opposition to Israel's opponents.This was confirmed in practice by the UN fact-finding mission in Gaza which concluded that the IDF had pursued a "deliberate policy of disproportionate force" aimed at the "supporting infrastructure" of the enemy. "This appears to have meant the civilian population", said the UN report.
The Israel-Palestine conflict is clearly not only about resources. But in an age of expensive energy, competition to dominate regional fossil fuels are increasingly influencing the critical decisions that can inflame war.
Dr. Nafeez Ahmed is an international security journalist and academic. He is the author of A User's Guide to the Crisis of Civilization: And How to Save It, and the forthcoming science fiction thriller, ZERO POINT. ZERO POINT is set in a near future following a Fourth Iraq War.
Follow Ahmed on Facebook and Twitter.
This article is an updated version of one originally published by The Guardian.
Gas in the Levant
Egypt, Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, Turkey
Norwegian Company Ansis and Sagex discovered in 2003 Syrian Reserves, larger than Qatar
Ansis then acquired by Veritas, Franco American Company based in London
This begat the "Friends of Syria" including the "Working Group on Economic Reconstruction and Development" held in May 2012 in the United Arab Emirates
In July 2007, the new special envoy of the Quartet (UN, EU, Russia, USA), Tony Blair, negotiated an agreement between Palestinians and Israelis to exploit the Marine-1 and Marine-2 fields in Gaza. The Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority, Salam Fayyad, agreed that British Gas would pay royalties due to the Palestinian Authority to a bank account controlled by London and Washington so as to garantee that this money would be used for economic development.
In October 2010, things got complicated again with the discovery of a mega gas field offshore by Noble Energy Inc., The Leviathan, in Israeli and Lebanese territorial waters, in addition to that discovered by British Gas in 2001, Tamar. Lebanon, at the instigation of Hezbollah, immediately notified the UN and asserted its rights to exploitation. However, Israel started extracting gas from these common pockets without taking Lebanese objections into account.
The new Egyptian president, General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, hired Tony Blair to advise him, without the latter resigning for as much from his position as representative of the Quartet. Pursuing his advocacy for British Gas, he then suggested a "peace initiative" perfectly unacceptable to the Palestinians, who refused while Israel accepted it. This manoeuvre was clearly intended to provide an opportunity for the IDF to continue its offensive to "uproot Hamas from Gaza." It is not irrelevant that Tony Blair is not remunerated for this work by Egypt, but by the United Arab Emirates.
By Aliaksandr Kudrytski and Daryna KrasnolutskaJuly 24, 2014 12:45 PM EDTPhotographer: Sertac Bulur/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
Prime Minister of Ukraine Arseniy Yatsenyuk inspects Ukrainian National Guard Headquarters in Slavyansk on July 16, 2014.
Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk resigned after two parties quit the ruling coalition and President Petro Poroshenko signaled his support for early elections.
Yatsenyuk told the parliament in Kiev today that he's stepping down after losing his allies' backing and failing to pass legislation. Former world boxing champion Vitali Klitschko's UDAR and Svoboda, a nationalist group, said they'd leave the coalition and seek a snap parliamentary ballot, according to statements today on their websites.
''The coalition has fallen apart, laws haven't been voted on, soldiers can't be paid, there's no money to buy rifles, there's no possibility to store up gas,'' Yatsenyuk told lawmakers. ''What options do we have now?''
Yatsenyuk's administration took charge of Ukraine in February after pro-European street protests prompted Kremlin-backed President Viktor Yanukovych to flee. Since then, the government has battled a pro-Russian insurgency in the east of the country, which it says is supported by the government in Moscow. Russia also annexed Ukraine's Black Sea peninsula of Crimea in March.
More on the Crisis in Ukraine:
''All opinion polls and direct talks with the people show that society wants a full-power reboot,'' Poroshenko, who has pledged to call parliamentary elections this year, said in a statement on his website.
Ukraine's parliament must approve Yatsenyuk's resignation, according to the constitution.
Yields RiseYields on Ukrainian government bonds due 2023 rose to 8.38 percent as of 6:54 p.m. in Kiev from 8.27 percent yesterday, data compiled by Bloomberg show. Ukraine's hryvnia weakened to 11.73 per dollar, compared with 11.68 yesterday.
Parliamentary Speaker Oleksandr Turchynov called on the parties that withdrew from the coalition to propose a candidate for interim prime minister. Under the former Soviet republic's constitution, the existing cabinet will remain in place until a new coalition is formed.
Probably PlannedThe breakup of the coalition ''was probably agreed on by political parties seeking elections and the president,'' Yuriy Yakymenko, the head of political research at Kiev's Razumkov Center, a non-governmental policy group, said by phone.
''Withdrawals from the coalition should not paralyze the parliament's work,'' Poroshenko said before Yatsenyuk announced his resignation. ''The parliament must adopt amendments to the state budget needed to finance our army and also documents needed for cooperation with international financial institutions.''
Ukraine obtained a $17 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund in May to stay afloat as its economy may contract 6.5 percent this year. The hryvnia lost 29.75 percent versus the dollar since the beginning of the year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
The government expected lawmakers to approve changes to the 2014 budget, which envisages social-spending cuts and army spending increases, needed to qualify for the IMF's next tranche. The 450-seat legislature rejected putting the amendments on the agenda.
Yatsenyuk's resignation ''brings some volatility to the process,'' said Vladislav Sochinsky, the treasurer at Citigroup Inc.'s unit in Kiev. ''The IMF program has some risk as the dysfunctional parliament may be reluctant to vote on austerity measures ahead of the snap elections,''
The parliament also rejected a cabinet law on a joint venture to operate the country's gas transportation system.
''Ukrainian authorities are interested in holding parliamentary elections as early as possible to consolidate the mandate of trust that Ukrainian society gave to Poroshenko during the last presidential elections,'' Serhiy Yahnych and Yevgeniy Orudzhev, analysts at BNP Paribas SA's Ukrsibbank unit in Kiev, wrote in a note to clients.
To contact the reporters on this story: Aliaksandr Kudrytski in Minsk, Belarus at email@example.com; Daryna Krasnolutska in Kiev at firstname.lastname@example.org
To contact the editors responsible for this story: Balazs Penz at email@example.com Scott Rose, Eddie Buckle
Ukraine's Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk says he is resigning amid government turmoil | National Post
KYIV, Ukraine '-- Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk announced his resignation Thursday, opening the way for new elections that would reflect the country's starkly changed political scene after the ouster of pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych in February.
Yatsenyuk made the announcement from the dais of Parliament after two parties said they would pull out of the governing coalition. He said Parliament could no longer do its work and pass necessary laws.
President Petro Poroshenko, elected to replace Yanukovych May 25, earlier praised the withdrawal of the two parties. He said that ''all opinion polls, and direct conversations with people, show that society wants a complete rebooting of the government.''
The nationalist Svoboda party and the Udar party led by former boxer Vitali Klitschko pulled out of the group of legislators that took over after former President Viktor Yanukovich was ousted by protesters seeking closer ties with the European Union.
Parliament speaker Oleksandr Turchynov said it was up to Udar and Svoboda to propose a candidate for temporary prime minister to lead the government until early parliamentary elections can be held.
Yatsenyuk took over as prime minister just short of five months ago, and since then has seen the country embroiled in conflict with pro-Russian separatists in the country's eastern regions.
He was put in office by a coalition of parties that took power after Yanukovych was driven from office by months of street protests. The protests began over Yanukovych's refusal to sign a sweeping trade deal with the European Union, but swelled over disgust with corruption and government attempts to suppress the protests.
When he took office, Yatsenyuk's administration was expected to be a brief one because it was taking over with the government almost broke and facing the likelihood of adopting unpopular measures to satisfy conditions for rescue loans from the International Monetary Fund.
Ukraine political gridlock on view as government falls, premier resigns - LA Times
The Ukrainian government collapsed and the popular prime minister resigned Thursday, highlighting the political gridlock gripping the country struggling with a pro-Russia insurgency, a hostile neighbor and one of the weakest economies in Europe.
The resignation of Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk, considered a rising star in Ukrainian politics, came as U.S. officials cited evidence they said showed that Russia was firing artillery across the border into Ukrainian territory.
A pro-Europe party led by former heavyweight boxing champion Vitali Klitschko, who is currently mayor of Kiev, and a far-right party with a few seats withdrew from the governing coalition with the Fatherland party, causing it to fall.
In an emotional speech announcing his resignation, Yatsenyuk told lawmakers that legislative gridlock was hampering the country in areas that included the war effort against separatists in the east and economic stabilization.
Politicians have 30 days to try to form a new government; if they fail, President Petro Poroshenko is likely to call elections for the fall. Such elections would probably result in major gains for pro-Europe parties and marginalize pro-Russia factions, which are highly unpopular because of Moscow's annexation of Ukraine's Crimean region in March and what many Ukrainians view as Russia's support for the separatists.
In the interim, Cabinet members named Deputy Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman acting prime minister. At 36 and with no party affiliation, Groysman is seen as an appealing alternative. He has served as the mayor of the western city of Vinnytsia, where Poroshenko grew up, and was named the government's point person on the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over eastern Ukraine last week.
Despite the parliament's dysfunction, the 40-year-old Yatsenyuk had repeatedly said he wouldn't resign.
''It was an emotional move but also a rational move,'' said Igor Popov, a political scientist at the Politika Analytical Center in Kiev. ''Yatsenyuk realized that with the economic problems and the parliament problems, it was going to get worse for him and he would get more blame, so he made this move for his political future.''
Yatsenyuk met with President Obama in a high-profile White House visit during the Crimean crisis in March, and has drawn domestic support from those who laud his populist image.
Many Ukrainians resent the fact that the parliament still includes pro-Russia members who stayed on after the ouster of President Viktor Yanukovich.
During his campaign to replace Yanukovich, Poroshenko pledged to move up parliamentary elections, which are not scheduled until 2017.
The perception of disarray is likely to hurt the country at a time when leaders are trying to gain Western support for their fight against Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Thursday's moves also highlight a fault line within the Ukrainian political culture over the separatist conflict. The Fatherland party and Poroshenko have been divided over the approach to the conflict, with party leaders criticizing the president for not taking a sufficiently hard line against the separatists.
After the collapse of the government, Poroshenko reiterated his desire for a new parliament and appealed for national unity.
''All public opinion polls as well as direct communication with people demonstrate that the society wants a complete reload of state power,'' he said in a statement. ''I call on all people's deputies to work responsibly in the parliament and to realize that Ukraine is currently struggling for its sovereignty, territorial integrity, existence of our state and the future of the people of Ukraine.''
Despite hope that tension in eastern Ukraine would subside after the Malaysian jetliner disaster, the conflict has intensified. On Wednesday, two Ukrainian fighter jets were downed, possibly by separatists, and on Thursday a State Department spokeswoman said U.S. intelligence agencies had evidence that Russia was firing artillery at Ukrainian military positions.
Also Thursday, European Union ambassadors meeting in Brussels agreed to add more names and entities to the 72 from Russia already subject to visa bans and asset freezes. They said they would meet again Friday.
The talks did not lead to agreement on tougher measures favored by the U.S., such as imposing sanctions on entire sectors of the Russian economy, but the action taken Thursday essentially means that Putin's allies can now be targeted.
Still, the ambassadors' inability to agree on tougher measures points up the difficulty in finding consensus among the 28 nations of the EU, and underlines the divisions among them over how far to go in punishing Moscow.
Times staff writers Henry Chu in London and Brian Bennett in Washington contributed to this report.
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Copyright (C) 2014, Los Angeles TimesJuly 24, 6:37 p.m.: This article has been updated throughout with new details.
Merida, 22nd July 2014 (Venezuelanalysis.com) '' Venezuela has signed 38 agreements worth US$18 billion with China, signaling a deepening of the two countries' relations.
The new agreements were signed publically by Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro and Chinese president Xi Jinping in Caracas yesterday.
The accords include a US$4 billion direct loan for Venezuela and US$14 billion in Chinese financing for development projects in energy, mining, industry, technology, communications, transport, housing and culture.
Specific agreements include financing to increase oil production, explore mining reserves, expand public transport, launch a third Venezuelan satellite, and build factories to produce cement, fertilizers and other products.
During the high level bilateral meeting's closing ceremony President Maduro said that the two governments had agreed to elevate their relations to a ''comprehensive strategic association''.
''We find ourselves in a new political moment, forging, in this act, a new historic stage for the strengthening of relations for the wellbeing and prosperity of our countries,'' he said.
Meanwhile Chinese premier Xi Jinping stated, ''We want to promote the social and economic development of our respective countries and achieve constant improvement in our significant cooperation''.
Sino-Venezuelan relations have increased greatly since 2001, when former president Hugo Chavez sought to build a strategic alliance with the country as part of a policy to create a ''multi-polar world'' and counteract US global hegemony.
As a cornerstone of the relationship, China aids Venezuelan development with loans, technology transfer and joint projects. These loans are paid for in kind through oil shipments, while many Chinese firms gain access to the Venezuelan market for the export of their goods.
Since 2001 Venezuela and China have signed 480 cooperation agreements and participated in 143 joint projects. According to Blouin News, from 2005 '' 2012 China lent Venezuela US$47 billion, accounting for 55% of Chinese credit issued to South American nations in that period.
Venezuela's Vice President for the Economy, Rafael Ramirez, told investors last month that much of this debt had been paid back, and that outstanding debt with China was $17 billion, and not the $40 billion that markets had been estimating.
China is Venezuela's largest trading partner after the U.S., while Venezuela is China's fourth largest trading partner in the region, after Brazil, Mexico and Chile.
Opposition leader Henrique Capriles has publically criticised the agreements with China, arguing that the financing only benefits ''those with connections''.
''If we're the country with the greatest oil reserves in the world, why do we have to indebt ourselves to China? Our debt with China is equivalent to twice our reserves,'' he claimed on Twitter.
Capriles, who is also a state governor, argued that the money from the loan deals was siphoned off by allegedly corrupt officials and not invested as promised, citing examples of what he said were unfinished projects financed under previous agreements.
Government officials defended Venezuela's relationship with China as the deals were signed. President Maduro argued that the loans did not represent a heavy debt burden for the South American OPEC nation.
''The financing doesn't put heavy debt on our country because it's backed up by a formula of production and supply of oil that now amounts to 524,000 barrels to China daily,'' he stated.
Ramirez also argued that the agreements were beneficial for Venezuela's development, stating, ''Through this cooperation scheme our energy potential acts as a base so that China can give us the financial support that is going to allow us to diversify our economy and support development projects in the [2013 - 2019] National Plan''.
Chinese president Xi Jinping visited Venezuela as part of a South American tour to deepen economic ties with the region. Other destinations include Brazil, Argentina and Cuba.
Just prior to the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, Russian President Vladimir Putin was wrapping up a six-day tour of Latin America, including a bilateral meeting with Argentine President Cristina Fernndez de Kirchner on July 12.
Kirchner's meeting with Putin, in conjunction with a July 18 meeting between Kirchner and Chinese President Xi Jinping, could have significant strategic repercussions for the United States if Argentina follows through on its threats to default on its sovereign debt on July 30.
An Argentine default would be the nadir of a rancorous 12-year-long dispute between Argentina and some of its creditors, who refused to take losses of over 70 percent following the country's historic default on over $80 billion in 2001.
After years of legal battles, the U.S. Supreme Court issued the definitive ruling against Argentina on June 16 of this year. The Supreme Court declined to hear Argentina's appeal of a lower-court ruling ordering it to pay creditors who did not participate in the restructuring at the same time it pays those who agreed to losses.
The lower-court judge has now ordered Argentina to negotiate with its holdout creditors, but it has so far refused. If Argentina does not find a way to settle with its holdout creditors by July 30, the country will default for the second time in 13 years. But according to news reports, Argentine leaders have still not met with creditors to negotiate a resolution, even though it has been over a month since the Supreme Court's ruling.
This is where Putin's recent visit becomes important: A focus of discussion between Kirchner and Putin was reported to be Russia's role in helping develop Argentina's vast unconventional oil reserves, the Vaca Muerta. Kirchner announced that members of the Russian delegation would visit the field in Patagonia.
According to the International Energy Agency, the 20,000-square-mile, 3,000-foot-deep Vaca Muerta shale field '-- estimated to be the largest oil field in the Western Hemisphere and one of the top two or three in the world '-- likely contains more than 20 billion barrels of oil equivalent.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration ranks Argentina second and fourth worldwide in deposits of recoverable shale gas and oil, respectively. If exploited, these reserves could make Argentina a net energy exporter, a capacity it lost in 2012 as a result of mismanagement, ideologically driven economic policies, and a failure to abide by international law. Argentina is currently importing energy at a cost of nearly $10 billion annually, something Kirchner would be happy to reverse. And to make this happen, the Argentines are looking for partners.
According to Argentine estimates, the full development of the Vaca Muerta unconventional reserves will cost upwards of $250 billion and, just as essential, will require foreign engineering expertise. Since re-nationalizing its national oil company, YPF, from Spain's Repsol in May 2012, Argentina has aggressively sought global investors and partnerships, among them Russian state oil company Gazprom (whose financing arm was hit by the latest round of U.S. sanctions) and Chinese state oil company Sinopec.
Several U.S. companies, including Exxon Mobil, have been active in the Vaca Muerta, and others are looking to get involved. This year, Chevron signed an investment agreement with YPF under which it will invest $1.6 billion in 170 wells with future investments of up to $15 billion. But this agreement was brokered prior to the current crisis.
If Argentina's leadership takes the country into default, the deal with Chevron could be a casualty.
If Argentina's leadership takes the country into default, the deal with Chevron could be a casualty. Furthermore, opportunities for other U.S. companies would likely diminish or evaporate, as none would be able to afford the heightened country risk that another default would create.
Argentina can ill afford a second default in 13 years. Its economy is in recession, inflation is at double-digit levels, and its trade deficit is widening. Furthermore, a second default would close the door to international capital markets, which the country desperately needs and has had only limited access to since 2001.
But another Argentine default wouldn't only be a problem for Argentina. It would also be a strategic loss for the United States. A default would almost certainly forestall U.S. energy companies' investment in Argentina's energy industry '-- the sector that offers the most promising growth potential. Lead investor Chevron is likely to have second thoughts about its commitment to Argentina if the country appears, once again, to be an untrustworthy business partner. Others are likely to pull back or demand more favorable terms to offset risk.
If Argentina's government does choose to default, and if it remains locked out of U.S. and European capital markets, then partnership with Russia's Gazprom and China's Sinopec will likely provide a much-needed alternative to U.S. investment, putting U.S. energy companies at a significant disadvantage.
Kirchner's courtship of Russia has intensified visibly in recent months, most notably in her defense of Russia's seizure of Crimea, which she compared to Argentina's fight with Britain over the Falkland Islands. Similarly, in its rapprochement with China, Argentina has brokered new agreements with Sinopec to partner on energy development. Significantly, Argentina announced new investment pacts with China totaling $7.5 billion immediately following Xi's meeting with Kirchner on July 18.
Argentina can take another path '-- one in which it respects the rule of international law, settles its debts, regains full access to the global financial markets, and consequently continues to attract energy investment from U.S.-based global companies that have the engineering experience and know-how to develop an unconventional oil field.
Energy security in the Western Hemisphere is of vital strategic importance to the United States. And thus helping to avert Argentina's self-destructive path to default must be a top priority for Barack Obama's administration as it signals to Argentina in the critical days ahead.
Administration officials can help by engaging with their counterparts in the Argentine government and explaining that a settlement with Argentina's private creditors would finally clear the way for Argentina to regain access to numerous sources of external capital after more than a decade of relative economic isolation.
For one thing, a full economic normalization would open the way to a resumption of World Bank lending to Argentina, which the U.S. government has opposed since 2011 due to Argentina's failure to pay its debts. But more importantly, the administration can and should make the case that U.S. energy companies are uniquely capable of helping Argentina fully develop and benefit from one of its most promising natural resources.
Above all, the administration needs to make sure that it does not through inattention allow Argentina to slip away. As we have seen in recent weeks, the United States' geopolitical rivals stand ready to take advantage of such a strategic mistake.
ITAR-TASS: World - Ukrainian army helps installing shale gas production equipment near Slavyansk
DONETSK, July 25. /ITAR-TASS/. Ukrainian troopers help installing shale gas production equipment near the east Ukrainian town of Slavyansk, which they bombed and shelled for the three preceding months, the Novorossiya news agency reports on its website citing local residents.
''Civilians protected by Ukrainian army are getting ready to install drilling rigs. More equipment is being brought in,'' they said, adding that the military are encircling the future extraction area.
The people of Slavyansk, which is located in the heart of the Yzovka shale gas field, staged numerous protest actions in the past against its development. They even wanted to call in a referendum on that subject. Environmentalists are particularly concerned with the consequences of hydrofracing, a method used for shale gas extraction, because it implies the use of extremely toxic chemical agents which can poison not only subsoil waters but also the atmosphere. Experts claim that not a single country in the world has invented a method of utilization of harmful toxic agents in the process of development of shale gas deposits.
Countries like the Czech Republic, the Netherlands and France have given up plans to develop shale gas deposits in their territories.
In May 2012, Ukraine's State Service for Geology and Mineral Resources announced a tender for the right to develop the Yuzovka shale gas deposit that was won by British-Dutch Shell.
Burisma, Ukraine's oil and gas production holdings, also has the right to develop the shale gas fields in the Dnieper-Donetsk basin of Eastern Ukraine.
A son of U.S. Vice-President Joe Biden has recently become a member of Burisma's board of directors.
President Vladimir Putin of Russia has confirmed that he will visit Serbia on October 19 for the 70th anniversary celebration of the Soviet Red Army's liberation of Belgrade at the end of the Second World War.
At meetings with Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic and Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic, talks will focus on bilateral cooperation over the South Stream gas pipeline, part of which is to pass through Serbia.
Serbia and Russia are closes allies and - despite pressure from Brussels - Serbia has refused to join sanctions imposed on Russia in relarion to its involvement in the crisis in Ukraine.
Belgrade has also refused to abandon its plans to participate in the Russian-managed gas pipeline.
Belgrade officials insist that the project is crucial for Serbia's energy sustainability and cannot be sacrificed.
The South Stream pipeline will pump natural gas from Russia under the Black Sea, then through Bulgaria and Serbia towards Hungary, Slovenia and Italy. The Serbian section of the pipeline will run for 421 kilometres.
The European Commission has already forced Bulgaria to suspend its participation in the project, claiming that the Russian state-run energy giant, Gazprom, would have a monopolistic position over the pipeline, which would violate internal EU regulations.
The EU is keen to reduce Europe's energy dependence on Russia.
Putin's confirmation of the Belgrade visit comes at a time of unprecedented international pressure on Moscow from the US and some European countries over Ukraine, which has heightened dramatically since the downing of the Air Malaysia flight over eastern Ukraine, killing all 298 passengers on board.
Putin is widely blamed for arming the pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine who likely shot down the plane by mistake.
Putin was last in Belgrade in March 2011, when he met the then President, Boris Tadic, visited the Serbian parliament, the Red Star football stadium and the Orthodox cathedral of St Sava.
Battle for Syria gas field after jihadists execute hundreds
AFPBattle for Syria gas field after jihadists execute hundredsBeirut (AFP) - Syrian regime forces launched an offensive Saturday to retake a gas field in Homs province seized two days ago by jihadists who killed 270 people, most of them executed, a monitoring group said.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights also reported that a woman accused of adultery was stoned to death by Islamic State (IS) jihadists in the northern city of Raqa, in the second such case in as many days.
Regime forces backed by warplanes pressed a counter-attack Saturday around Shaar, recapturing large areas of the gas field, said Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman.
"They are advancing in Shaar and have managed to regain large parts of it, while trying to control surrounding areas that fall under the control of the Islamic State," he said.
"Regime forces are conducting air raid and clashes are taking place on the ground," he added.
The counter-attack had killed at least 40 IS militants and 11 soldiers while 10 other troops were wounded, said the Observatory which relies for its information on a network of activists and medics on the ground.
It described Thursday's takeover of the Shaar field as the biggest anti-regime operation by the IS since the jihadist group rose to prominence last year among rebel groups in the Syrian conflict.
The watchdog said it had documented "the deaths of 270 people killed in the fighting or executed" by the jihadists.
"A large majority of the men killed were executed at gunpoint after being taken prisoner following the takeover of the camp," said Abdel Rahman.
"Eleven of the dead were civilian employees, while the rest were security guards and National Defence Forces members," he added.
The fate of nearly 100 people who worked at the site remains unknown.
There was no official confirmation of the reports but supporters of President Bashar al-Assad's regime posted photographs of the dead.
One pro-regime Twitter user said: "Thirty martyrs were brought to Homs hospital from the Shaar gas field... Homs is still bleeding."
Gruesome footage apparently recorded by the jihadists at the gas field and distributed via YouTube showed dozens of bodies, some of them mutilated, strewn across a desert landscape.
One video shows a jihadist posing with the bodies as he speaks in German interspersed with religious terms in Arabic, seemingly celebrating the killings.
- Lorry full of rocks -
On Friday night on a main square in Raqa, IS jihadists stoned to death a woman they accused of adultery, the Observatory said, citing residents of their stronghold.
"Because residents refused to take part in the stoning, the IS fighters themselves executed the woman," it said, adding that they pulled up a lorry filled with rocks for the killing.
The jihadists also stoned a young woman to death for adultery in Raqa on Thursday. Abdel Rahman identified her as a 26-year-old widow.
According to a local activist, who said that the public stoning took place in a square in the Raqa provincial town of Tabqa, residents are "terrified but do not dare react to such barbaric methods".
The jihadists proclaimed an Islamic "caliphate" straddling Syria and Iraq last month and have also taken over Syria's oil-rich Deir Ezzor province.
Deir Ezzor borders Homs province as well as Iraq, where the jihadist group has spearheaded a major Sunni militant offensive that has seen large swathes of territory fall out of the Baghdad government's control.
On Saturday regime forces clashed with IS jihadists in the western part of the province, the Observatory said.
Meanwhile nine people were killed in a car bomb attack in the rebel-held city of Douma, northeast of Damascus, it said.
Bilal Erdogan purchases $35 million oil tanker | Veooz 360
Summary The BMZ Group, a company run by Bilal Erdogan, the son of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has purchased a $35 million oil tanker, according to Turkish news sources on Tuesday. Erdogan's ship G. Inebolu has also continued to transport goods from Russia to a Syrian port, despite the prime minister's falling out with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Last month, a shipment of oil from the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) arrived in the Israeli Port of Ashkelon; however, the KRG denied that the shipment had been directly or indirectly sold to Israel.
Bulgarian Energy Holding Puts Off Gazprom Loan on South Stream
The Bulgarian Energy holding surprisingly decided to postpone a decision whether to receive a EUR 620 M from Gazprom for the construction of the South Stream pipeline.
BEH had planned to boost the capital of South Stream Bulgaria (a joint venture of the holding and Russian energy concern Gazprom) with the funds.
It had stressed it needed additional money to transfer the 10% (EUR 380 M) of advanced payment to Stroytransgaz, a sum that the subcontractor involved in the construction is expecting under the signed agreements.
The 22-year loan will bear an interest rate of 4.25 percent.
Is was not announced when a new decision is due to be taken on the issue.
BEH's decision to put off the loan, contrary to previous announcements, came as President Rosen Plevneliev criticized the fact that the South Stream project is ongoing despite Prime Minister Plamen Oresharski's commitment to halt activities until odds with the EU Commission are cleared.
Plevneliev was quoted by Mediapool.bg as urging that all activities on South Stream be frozen, implying that it was not the moment for important financial decisions related to the pipeline.
Sofia announced it would temporarily stop the construction of South Stream after the European Commission warned it had launched infringement proceedings against the country over non-compliance of the Bulgarian section with the EU's Third Energy Package.
#2The manual also includes a handy parts list and full-scale drawings of the parts and hardware. And the included HPI RC Car DVD is your personal RC car expert in a box!
#1EDC - 24 Jul 2014 // 08:43:05So please can the CLEVER people involved EXPLAIN to the BULGARIAN People ,
WHERE ARE THEY GOING TO GET FUEL FROM ? And at what COST ?You can only refuse help so many times ?
Bulgaria's prime minister resigns with bank crisis unresolved
Bulgarian Prime Minister Plamen Oresharski reacts as he leaves the parliament after a no-confidence vote in Sofia June 13, 2014.
Credit: Reuters/Stoyan Nenov
SOFIA (Reuters) - Bulgaria's Prime Minister Plamen Oresharski stood down on Wednesday, leaving his successor to sort out the Balkan state's worst banking crisis since the 1990s with the fate of its fourth largest lender undecided.
Oresharski, in power for just over a year, had flagged his departure after the ruling Socialists' poor showing in May's European Parliament elections. His resignation paves the way for an interim government to take over in August and a general election in October.
The vote marks the second snap election in less than two years in the European Union's poorest member state. The prolonged instability has hampered efforts to make the economy more efficient and prompted a credit rating downgrade in June.
The Socialist-led coalition increased the minimum wage, worked to cut red tape for businesses and found investors for a 1.5 billion euro ($2 billion) sovereign bond last month despite the banking crisis. But Oresharski's tenure was overshadowed by months of street protests against corruption, deadly floods that hit the Black Sea city of Varna in June and a standoff between Brussels and Moscow over a Russian-led gas pipeline project. The Socialists ruled with the ethnic Turkish MRF party in a minority coalition, which relied on the outside support of the nationalist Attack party to cling to power and survive repeated no confidence votes while in office.
Hundreds gathered in the Bulgarian capital as news of the resignation broke, chanting "victory", as two lines of police looked on in front of the parliament building. Wednesday also marked the first anniversary of an eight-hour siege of parliament by protesters demanding the government's resignation.
But opposition GERB leader Boiko Borisov wrote on his Facebook wall: "Such a belated resignation, and knowing what ruin they leave behind, I could not even enjoy it."
Earlier, protesters threw tomatoes at a government building, according to local media reports. The government stands down with no consensus in sight about how to rescue Corporate Commercial Bank (Corpbank) and protect its depositors after a run on the bank in June. The central bank governor on Tuesday wrote to parliament offering to step down, saying he would not let the bank be used as a political "toy" after repeated attacks on the institution.
MORE DEBTDepositors unnerved by reports of shady deals by Corpbank's main owner withdrew more than a fifth of deposits in a week-long bank run. The owner, who was locked in a public feud with a business rival at the time, has denied any wrongdoing and said the run was a plot hatched by his competitors. The run prompted the central bank to seize control of Corpbank for three months, block depositors from taking out their money and commission an audit. Panic spread to another lender, forcing the Bulgarian government to free up an emergency credit line for its banking system.
"Although the authorities successfully intervened to prevent contagion, the price of the containment effort will be higher deficit and debt levels," Tsveta Petrova, an analyst at the Eurasia Group, said in a note on Wednesday. Sofia has estimated the state rescue cost at about 1.5-2 billion levs ($1.4 billion). Bulgarian authorities have pursued various options for rescuing Corpbank, including hiving off its healthy assets and liabilities into a subsidiary, which would then open as a nationalized bank under a new name. But lawmakers rejected that rescue package, making a resolution unlikely before parliament dissolves in August. Parliament will now vote on whether to accept Oresharski's resignation, likely on Thursday or Friday. The GERB party, which governed Bulgaria until it was toppled by street protests in February 2013, looks set to win the October polls. But it might fall short of a majority, prolonging the instability that prompted Standard & Poor's to downgrade Bulgaria's sovereign debt rating to one notch above junk. GERB has put forward its own proposals for solving the bank crisis, including purging the central bank's leadership and guaranteeing deposits of up to 100,000 euros at Corpbank - short of the government's pledge to guarantee deposits in full. There is no clear indication of what will happen to holders of Corpbank's dollar denominated bond, due to mature on Aug. 8.
The new government will have also to deal with the rising debt of public electricity provider NEK, after the outgoing government cut electricity prices twice last year and increased them only marginally in July.
"We are leaving the country with a stable fiscal reserve, which exceeds 8 billion levs ($5.5 billion), despite baseless talk of bankruptcy," outgoing Finance Minister Petar Chobanov told reporters in Sofia. "It gives room for flexibility. "Under its currency board which pegs the lev currency to the euro, Bulgaria is obliged to maintain a fiscal reserve. ($1 = 0.7425 Euros)
(Writing by Matthias Williams; Editing by Jeremy Gaunt/Ruth Pitchford)
Energy project developers Polish Energy Partners have announced that a new pipeline running from Bernau, near the German capital of Berlin, to the Baltic port of Szczecin may come online by 2018.
Currently, Polish Energy Partners is in the process of acquiring a stake in Polenergia Holding, which originally bought the project '' which would add another Polish-German gas link '' from the Bartimpex-E.ON consortium.
Polenergia is majority-owned by Kulczyk Holding, owned by Poland's richest man Jan Kulczyk, and will have a 51-percent stake in the project.
Polish Energy Partners' CEO Zbigniew Prokopowicz told the wnp.pl website that the new Bernau-Szczecin pipeline is the most realistic intersystem gas link project between the two countries.
The project has got the initial green light from German regulators, with a preliminary go-ahead from the Polish URE energy regulator. About 85 percent of the pipeline will be in Germany, with the remaining 15 percent constructed in Poland.
''We have operator contracts in the project which would allow for the flow of 5 billion cubic metres, of which 3 billion cubic metres would be sent across the German gas system,'' Prokopowicz said.
When in service, the pipeline may provide stiff competition for Polish gas giant PGNiG, and provide a better position for Poland when negotiating gas imports from Russia, as the reversible interconnector would also link Poland's new LNG terminal with additional gas sources to the west of the country. (jb)
Hungary's Prime Minister Not Intending to Give Up South Stream '' Agency
MOSCOW, July 26 (RIA Novosti) - Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said that the South Stream project meets the interests of the country and he does not plan to give it up, Reuters reported on Saturday.
The corresponding statement came amid discussions on further EU sanctions against Russia, which may affect the energy sector. Orban said that, although he supports Ukraine, he must think about the interests of his country first and that is why he will not reject the South Stream Project.
He added that, if maintaining good relations with Russia means laying a pipeline across Hungary, the country will certainly support the South Stream project.
The South Stream pipeline expected to carry Russian gas across the Black Sea to Southern and Central European countries, is aimed at diversification of export routes for Russian gas.
The project stalled when the European Commission expressed concern that Russia's bilateral agreements with European transit countries, namely Austria, Bulgaria, Hungary and Slovenia, violate the EU Third Energy Package. According to these legislative proposals, the pipelines in the EU cannot belong to the natural gas extractors.
South Stream construction began in late 2012, with the first deliveries expected in 2016. The pipeline is to become fully operational in 2018.
Russia's Gazprom Neft started oil production from Badra oilfield of Iraq
Oil ministry of Iraq reported on last Wednesday that Russia's Gazprom Neft, the oil arm of state-run Gazprom, has commenced first stage of oil production from the Badra oilfield of Iraq.Production from Badra started on Monday at an average of 15,000 barrels per day and is expected to reach 170,000 bpd of crude oil by 2017, the ministry said in a statement.Official spokesperson for oil ministry of Iraq, Mr. Asheem Jihad mentioned, "Oil flow from Badra has started on Monday to fill the oilfield storages in preparing to feed the export."The oilfield is located in the Wasit Province in eastern Iraq with an estimated 3 billion barrels of oil in reserve. The Russian company submitted a tender in December 2009 and signed a contract with the government in January 2010 to develop the field.
Iraq's oil minister, Abdul Kareem Luaibi reported last week that other parts of the country would not cease its southern oil facilities. He also remarked that the current daily production is running at 3.15 million bpd.
Oil and Gas: Russian company signs exploration deal with Ethiopia
A Russian company is set to begin petroleum and natural gas exploration in Ethiopia after signing an agreement with the country's mines ministry.
GPB Global Resources signed the agreement last Thursday, after a year-long negotiation, which will see the Russian company exploring in the Afar region of eastern Ethiopia.
A statement from Ethiopia's Foreign ministry on Tuesday said the deal, a petroleum production and sharing agreement, will see GPB taking 30 per cent of production if the exploration yields positive results.
GBP has an estimated capital of $60 million and has been involved in Russian petroleum giant, Gazprom's oil and gas projects in Libya.
Mines minister, Tolosa Shagi and and GPB's business development director, Alexander Ivanov, signed the deal, which allows the the Russian firm to carry out preliminary explorations on 42,226 sq kilometres of the concession over the next three years.
The agreement indicates that the two-year exploration license can be renewed twice if there are positive results.
GPB will be allowed to operate for 25 years if its finds petroleum, the Foreign Affairs ministry statement said.
Roundup: LNG by 2020, South Stream not priority: Croatia official
ZAGREB, July 22 (Xinhua ) -- Croatian Economy Minister Ivan Vrdoljak said on Tuesday that a liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal on the Croatian northern Adriatic island of Krk was on the European Commission's list of priorities and that it should be built by 2020 at the latest.
"Energy supply is a priority on the lists of projects which might be funded by the European Commission," Vrdoljak said.
A development permit would be issued the moment the government named the LNG terminal a strategic project, said Vrdoljak, adding that this would happen very soon and that the terminal could be built by 2019 or 2020 at the latest.
The Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) fund was opened for such projects and Croatia will apply in August for the co-financing of the terminal's design project and other documentation necessary so that CEF could later finance construction.
He expected part of the documentation to be financed this year so that Croatia could apply for the construction of the terminal, likely in the second half of 2015.
The minister also explained that the building of the terminal without transport pipelines made no sense and that Croatia would apply for CEF co-financing of the pipelines, independently of the terminal.
The European Commission is to pay a maximum 50 percent of the construction costs, about 320 million euros (432 million U.S. dollars). As for evacuation pipelines, whose construction is estimated at 440 million euros, the goal is also to have half of the cost co-financed, according to him.
Asked if the construction of a South Stream gas pipeline section through Croatia had been agreed with Russia's Gazprom, Vrdoljak made clear it was not Croatia's priority.
"That is not Croatia's priority because Croatia is not on the main route and does not profit from the transport, so the section could be feasible only for new consumers, which was openly said to Gazprom," Vrdoljak said.
There were talks last week in Dubrovnik, the Croatian southern coast town, about the energy issue during the 9th Croatia Forum. Scores of politicians and businessmen from southeast Europe gathered there, while the star of the "Brdo Brijuni Process" was German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Merkel gave the green light to the crossborder projects approved by the European Commission, namely Muenchen-Istanbul railroad and Adriatic-Ionian Highway.
Croatian President Ivo Josipovic added the LNG terminal on the list of projects, but shied away from mentioning the South Stream.
Earlier at the Forum in Duibrovnik, Russian deputy foreign minister Alexey Meshkov accused the EU of blackmailing the countries in the region with the candicacy status if cooperating with Russia.
"The European Union should not use the ambitions of Western Balkan countries to join it to force them to choose between Europe and Russia," Meshkov said.
"Nobody here doubts the importance of setting up additional energy supply routes from Russia to Europe. One of the most important tasks is the development of cross-border infrastructure projects such as the South Stream gas pipeline," Meshkov said.
He regretted that there was still a political approach to such an important project, recalling that EU-Russia dialogue on the legal and technical aspects of South Stream had been literally blocked.
"We expect the partners in the countries of the region to be more active in the dialogue with the European Commission regarding South Stream, or they will lose the chance for big investments and thousands of jobs," he said, recalling that Austria's OMW had clearly committed to the project.
On the other hand, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland said Croatia could play a vital role in ensuring regional energy security by diversifying supply options for European countries and allowing them to reduce their dependence on Russian gas, in other words - "make smart choices".
"Now, more than ever, we have to work to secure Europe's energy security, by ensuring diversity of supply, building up diverse flow capabilities and capacities and building up deeper networks throughout the continent," she said at the Croatia Forum diplomatic conference in Dubrovnik last Friday.
"Croatia has an essential role to play, as an energy security hub for the 21st century ... You (Croatia) have spectacular assets to do that so long as you make smart choices as you are going forward," Nuland said.
Croatia, which joined the EU last year, in April published a tender for gas and oil exploration off the Adriatic coast and will invite bidders to express interest for on-shore exploration of potential fields in the country's north. (1 euro = 1.35 U.S. dollars)
The South Stream gas pipeline project which is the largest infrastructure project in Europe awaits a crucial agreement between Moscow and Brussels, Aleksandar Antic, Serbian Minister of Energy and Mining said Wednesday.
The European Commission, however, opposes the project claiming it contradicts EU's policy of separation of gas companies' sale operations from their distribution networks. Most recently, the commission asked Serbia on Monday to suspend the construction of the project.
Speaking to Anadolu Agency in an exclusive interview about the ongoing debates on Russia's South Stream, Antic said the South Stream pipeline would bring great benefits and energy security to Serbia.
For the last two years, Russia has signed agreements with a number of EU countries for the construction of the South Stream gas pipeline, which aims to transport Russian gas to Europe by bypassing Ukraine.
Antic underlined Serbia is a candidate for EU membership and has obligations arising from that status. He said whatever is pertinent for EU member states on the route of the South Stream should also apply to Serbia too.
''The abandonment of the project would work adversely not only for Serbia, but for a number of other countries involved in the South Stream,'' Antic said, adding that, ''I am optimistic and believe the gas will flow through the South Stream, regardless of the current dilemma.''
Orhan Dragas, the general manager of Serbia based research center, International Security Institute, explained Serbia's dilemma with the country needing to cover 90 percent of its gas needs with Russian imports - the only long term source of supply for Serbia.
''It is, of course, not a favorable circumstance for Serbia, but there are currently no visible alternatives,'' Dragas said. ''The South Stream may not be ideal, but is the most acceptable solution in the given circumstances.''
He added that Serbia aims to take a neutral position and maintain it as long as possible on the crisis between western countries and Russia.
- "Serbia's ties with Russia are forced ones"
On the other hand, Director of the Center for Euro-Atlantic Studies, Jelena Milic said Serbia's ties with Russia are forced ones and are related to the country's energy dependency.
''Russia does not want to admit EU legislation has an upper hand on domestic issues and is separate from international common law,'' Milic said, referring to Russia's objection to EU's Third Energy Package, which restricts Russian energy giant Gazprom's operation share in natural gas pipelines to a maximum of 50 percent. However, Gazprom refuses to adapt itself to the package and continues to negotiate with the EU countries seperately, as Gazprom is the sole company allowed by the Russian Federation to operate international pipelines.
Milic said that there are three possible scenarios on the future of South Stream.
"Firstly, the Russians and the EU make an agreement, and this is the best case for Serbia, as we have already made two big down payments," Milic said.
The second scenario would be with no agreement between Russia and the EU. In this case, Serbia loses out, as the country has no clause in the agreement with Russia, in which if Russia fails to deliver the promised natural gas to Serbia, it should compensate Serbia.
The final scenario, Milic said, is the worst one.
"The EU forces Serbia to withdraw from the Energy treaty with Russia unilaterally. As Serbia's deal with Russia is 30 years long and it does not stipulate consequences in case of unilateral withdrawal, Serbian companies would have to additionally compensate Russian companies that have invested so far in the deal."
Bulgarian Government Approves South Stream Loan from Gazprom in Its Last Days
July 23rd, 201412:00amPosted In: Pipelines, Natural Gas, News By Country, South Stream Pipeline, Bulgaria, Balkans/SEE FocusThe state-owned Bulgarian Energy Holding (BEH) will approve the EUR 620 m loan it was offered by Russia's Gazprom for the construction of South Stream in Bulgaria during a meeting currently held after 17.00 h EET, Capital Daily reported. The news comes as the government of Plamen Oresharski is expected to resign on Tuesday, the resignation being set for parliament voting on Thursday.
The EUR 620 m is meant to help BEH finance its participation in the project. The amount however would not be enough for BEH to cover its 15-percent share, as the contract with Stroytransgaz Consortium is estimated at EUR 3.8 m rather than the initial EUR 3.5 m, thus obliging BEH to put EUR 68 m more of own financing on the table, Capital wrote.
BEH will pay back the loan with the future dividends from the pipeline.
The newspaper also informed that the capital of South Stream Bulgaria will be increased with 10 percent so that it could make the required advanced payment of 10 percent (EUR 380 m) to the consortium.
This news is just one of a series of rumours pointing to the fact that Bulgaria has not actually stopped working on South Stream despite promises to the EU for the opposite.
Bulgarian liberal political formation the ''Reformist Block'' alarmed on Monday that the Bulgarian government is preparing to issue an EUR 100 million bank guarantee via the Bulgarian Development Bank (BDB) and the Bulgarian Export Insurance Agency (BEIA) for the construction of South Stream gas pipeline despite earlier signals that the project has been put on hold in accordance with the EU's grievances. Ex-energy minister during the GERB government and current member of the Reformists Traicho Traikov stated that the state intends to make its participation in the South Stream project irreversible through the issuance of a state guarantee via the DBD and the BEIA despite the fact that the construction of the pipeline might not happen in the end.
''If the project is to be stopped, delayed or modified, these 100 million euros will be paid by the Bulgarian taxpayers'', Traikov said.
This statement follows earlier evidence uncovered by the Reformists which suggested planned amendments to Bulgaria's Energy Act in favour of South Stream's construction were directly adopted from a series of Gazprom letters to the BEH, both partnering with equal shares in the joint venture and future pipeline operator South Stream Bulgaria.
Meanwhile the rumoured tacit replacing of U.S.-sanctioned Stroytransgaz in the construction of the Bulgarian stretch of South Stream with the Gazprom subsidiary Centrgaz was confirmed by Bulgaria's energy minister Dragomir Stoinev in an interview for bTV. Centrgaz will partner with five Bulgarian companies reported by Bulgarian media as close to the current socialists-led government.
Last week Centrgaz was announced as construction of the pipeline in Serbia.
This article originally appeared on Publics.bg, a Natural Gas Europe Media Partner
The International Monetary Fund has warned that the pro-Russia uprising engulfing Ukraine's economically-vital eastern rustbelt has delivered a "notable" blow that will force its economy to shrink faster than feared.
The Fund said on Friday upon completing its latest review of Kiev's compliance with the terms of a $US17.0 billion ($A18.39 billion) two-year rescue that Ukraine was facing new economic headwinds that had not been foreseen when the program was unveiled at the start of May.
It said the economy would probably shrink by 6.5 rather than the 5.0 per cent in 2014 because of shortfalls in revenue collection in crisis-hit regions and higher spending on defence.
The IMF added that its program's success now hinged not only on Kiev's ability to adopt urgent but unpopular belt-tightening measures but also "crucially on the assumption that the conflict will begin to subside in the coming months."
The Fund's country mission chief added that the new pro-Western leaders were doing a good job meeting commitments that could see the quick release of a second loan instalment of $1.4 billion.
"The conflict is putting increasing strain on the program and a number of key elements of the macroeconomic framework have had to be revised," Nikolay Gueorguiev said in a statement.
"Economic prospects have deteriorated notably, and GDP (gross domestic product) is now expected to contract by 6.5 per cent this year, compared to 5 per cent when the program was adopted," he said.
"A shortfall in revenue collections in the East, higher security spending, and lower-than-expected debt collection by Naftogaz will cause fiscal and quasi-fiscal deficits and financing needs to rise above the programmed path."
Gueorguiev added that higher-than-expected capital outflows were also putting the country's currency and budget forecasts in peril.
IMF expects Ukraine to pass law on restructuring of currency loans by Aug. 16
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) expects Ukraine to finally pass a law on restructuring currency credits by Aug. 16, 2014, and demands that the law is passed with certain wording, First Deputy Head of the parliamentary committee for finances and banking operation Oleksiy Kaida has said.
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EU F-RUSSIA RESOLUTION-Joint motion for a resolution on Russian pressure on Eastern Partnership countries and in particular destabilisation of eastern Ukraine - RC-B7-0436/2014
'' having regard to its previous resolutions on the European Neighbourhood Policy, on the Eastern Partnership (EaP) and on Ukraine, with particular reference to those of 27 February 2014 on the situation in Ukraine(1) and of 13 March 2014 on the invasion of Ukraine by Russia(2),
'' having regard to its position adopted at first reading on 3 April 2014 with a view to the adoption of Regulation (EU) No '.../2014 of the European Parliament and of the Council on the reduction or elimination of customs duties on goods originating in Ukraine(3),
'' having regard to the conclusions of the extraordinary meeting of the Foreign Affairs Council on Ukraine of 3 March 2014 and to the conclusions of the Foreign Affairs Council meetings of 17 March and 14 April 2014,
'' having regard to the statement of the Heads of State or Government on Ukraine at the European Council of 6 March 2014,
'' having regard to the European Council's conclusions on Ukraine of 20 March 2014,
'' having regard to the conclusions of the Vilnius Summit held on 28 and 29 November 2013,
'' having regard to the resolution of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe of 9 April 2014 on 'recent developments in Ukraine: threats to the functioning of democratic institutions',
'' having regard to the UN General Assembly resolution of 27 March 2014 entitled 'Territorial integrity of Ukraine'(4),
'' having regard to the joint statement made by the G7 leaders in The Hague on 24 March 2014,
'' having regard to Rule 110(2) and (4) of its Rules of Procedure,
A. whereas an illegal and illegitimate referendum was organised on 16 March 2014 in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol and was conducted under the control of Russian troops; whereas, despite the international condemnation of the referendum, the Russian authorities and lawmakers proceeded swiftly with the annexation of the Ukrainian peninsula, against international law;
B. whereas limited numbers of pro-Russian demonstrations have taken place in eastern and southern Ukraine over the last few days; whereas pro-Russian separatists, led in most cases by Russian special forces, stormed local administration buildings in Kharkiv, Luhansk and Donetsk; whereas these elements, under the leadership of a group called 'the Russian Sector', occupied the local government building in Donetsk, proclaimed the creation of a sovereign 'People's Republic of Donetsk' independent from Kyiv, and announced a referendum on the secession of the region, to be held no later than 11 May 2014;
C. whereas on 12 and 13 April 2014 police stations and government buildings in Slovyansk, Kramatorsk, Krasny Lyman, Mariupol, Yenakiyeve and other towns in the Donetsk region were attacked and seized by well-armed, unidentified masked gunmen, believed to be led by Russian special forces, in a series of coordinated raids; whereas at least one officer died and several were injured during the clashes;
D. whereas any further escalation of violent destabilisation in eastern and southern Ukraine risks being used by Russia as a false pretext for further aggression by military means, prevention of the presidential elections, and forced federalisation as a precursor to the partition of Ukraine;
E. whereas Russia is still maintaining large numbers of combat-ready troops along the Ukrainian-Russian border, despite having promised a withdrawal in order to ease the tensions; whereas there is a serious possibility that Russia could try to repeat the 'Crimea scenario';
F. whereas Russia continues to violate its international obligations, such as those stemming from the UN Charter, the Helsinki Final Act, the Statute of the Council of Europe and, in particular, the 1994 Budapest Memorandum on security guarantees for Ukraine;
G. whereas the EU has adopted an economic package in support of Ukraine that also includes macro-financial aid and autonomous trade measures; whereas Ukraine is about to finalise an agreement with the International Monetary Fund on an aid plan; whereas the conditions attached to this agreement have so far been kept confidential;
H. whereas the social and economic situation of the country is further deteriorating, owing inter alia to Russian destabilisation and trade restrictions; whereas widespread poverty remains one of the most acute socioeconomic problems in Ukraine; whereas according to a recent UN report the poverty rate in Ukraine is now around 25 %, with 11 million people earning less than local social standards;
I. whereas on 21 March 2014 the EU and Ukraine signed the political provisions of the Association Agreement (AA), undertaking to sign the remainder of the agreement, which includes the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA), as soon as possible;
J. whereas strong international diplomatic action at all levels and a negotiated process are needed to de-escalate the situation, ease tensions, prevent the crisis from spiralling out of control and secure a peaceful outcome; whereas the EU must respond effectively so as to allow Ukraine and all other eastern neighbouring countries to fully exercise their sovereignty and territorial integrity free from undue external pressure;
K. whereas, immediately after Crimea was annexed, the Supreme Soviet of the separatist region of Transnistria in Moldova sent an official request to the Russian Federation to consider annexing Transnistria;
L. whereas Russia is still occupying the Georgian regions of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali / South Ossetia, in violation of the fundamental norms and principles of international law; whereas ethnic cleansing and forcible demographic changes have taken place in the areas under the effective control of the occupying force, which bears the responsibility for human rights violations in these areas;
M. whereas Russia increased gas prices for Ukraine from USD 268 to USD 486 per thousand cubic metres from 1 April 2014, unilaterally ending the discount Ukraine received as part of the Kharkiv Accords governing the lease of the Sevastopol naval base, and, in the last few days, has banned Ukrainian dairy products from entering Russian territory; whereas the Russian Federation has also arbitrarily applied unilateral trade restrictions on products from Georgia and Moldova;
N. whereas Russia's annexation of the Crimean peninsula represents, beyond any doubt, a grave violation of international law which undermines trust in international instruments, including the agreements on disarmament and on non-proliferation of nuclear weapons; whereas a new arms race could lead to further escalation; whereas it is imperative to prevent such a dangerous situation, which could easily spiral out of control;
1. Condemns in the strongest possible terms the escalating destabilisation and provocations in eastern and southern Ukraine; rejects any preparation for illegal 'Crimea-like' referendums; warns that the increasing destabilisation and sabotage caused by pro-Russian armed, trained and well-coordinated separatists led by Russian special forces could be used as a false pretext for Russia to intervene militarily, prevent the presidential elections and force federalisation as a precursor to the partition of Ukraine;
2. Expresses its gravest concern over the fast-deteriorating situation and bloodshed in eastern and southern Ukraine; urges Russia to immediately withdraw its presence in support of violent separatists and armed militias who have seized government buildings in Slovyansk, Donetsk and other cities, to cease all provocative actions designed to foment unrest and further destabilise the situation, to remove troops from the eastern border of Ukraine, and to work towards a peaceful resolution of the crisis by political and diplomatic means; expresses its full support for and solidarity with the Government of Ukraine as it seeks to re-establish authority in the occupied cities, welcomes the restrained and measured manner in which the Ukrainian Government has dealt with the current phase of the crisis so far, and recalls that the Ukrainian authorities have the full right to use all necessary measures, including the right to self-defence as defined in Article 51 of the UN Charter; warns Russia against using Ukraine's legitimate right to defend its territorial integrity as a pretext to launch a full-scale military invasion;
3. Strongly reiterates its support for the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of Ukraine and of all Eastern Partnership countries; looks upon Russia's acts of aggression as a grave violation of international law and its own international obligations stemming from the UN Charter, the Helsinki Final Act, the Statute of the Council of Europe and the 1994 Budapest Memorandum on security guarantees, as well as bilateral obligations deriving from the 1997 Bilateral Treaty on Friendship, Cooperation and Partnership;
4. Stresses that no attacks, intimidation or discrimination whatsoever against Russian or ethnic Russian citizens or other minorities have been reported recently in Ukraine, as confirmed by credible international monitors such as the UN, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the Council of Europe;
5. Is convinced that Russia's assertion of the right to use all means to protect Russian minorities in third countries, as proclaimed by President Putin in his speech of 18 March 2014, is not supported by international law and contravenes fundamental principles of international conduct in the 21st century, while also threatening to undermine the post-war European order; calls on the Federation Council to immediately withdraw its mandate to use force on Ukrainian soil;
6. Reiterates the necessity for the EU and its Member States to speak to Russia with one united voice; considers that the current situation requires the Council to strengthen the second phase of sanctions and be ready for the third phase (economic sanctions), which must be applied immediately; reiterates, furthermore, its call on the Council to swiftly apply an arms and dual-use technology embargo;
7. Calls for measures against Russian companies and their subsidiaries, particularly in the energy sector, as well as Russian investments and assets in the EU, and for all agreements with Russia to be reviewed with a view to their possible suspension;
8. Urges the EU to support Ukraine in international bodies, particularly international judicial bodies, should Ukraine decide to bring cases against Russia for violation of its sovereignty and territorial integrity;
9. Stresses the urgent need for Russia to engage in a constructive dialogue with the current legitimate Government of Ukraine, and supports the active engagement of the EU in diplomatic efforts to de-escalate the crisis; looks forward to the quadripartite meeting between the EU High Representative, the US Secretary of State and the Foreign Ministers of Russia and Ukraine, and hopes that this can contribute to reducing tension and paving the way for a comprehensive and lasting diplomatic solution to the crisis; stresses, however, that Ukraine's future choices can only be made by the Ukrainian people themselves through a democratic, inclusive and transparent process;
10. Points out that the suspension of the voting rights of the Russian delegation by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, together with the resolution adopted by the UN General Assembly condemning Russia for the annexation of Crimea, are unequivocal signs of the Russian Federation's growing isolation at international level that should be given all due consideration by the Russian authorities if Russia wants to remain a credible international player;
11. Calls for the introduction of economic, trade and financial restrictions in respect of Crimea and its separatist leadership; takes the view that these restrictions should be implemented rapidly on the basis of the Commission's analysis of the legal consequences of Crimea's annexation;
12. Reiterates its concern over the fate of the Tatar community in Crimea and the safety and access to rights of persons belonging to the Ukrainian-speaking community; stresses the responsibility of the Russian Federation, under the Fourth Geneva Convention, to protect all civilians in the occupied territories;
13. Welcomes the deployment of an OSCE Special Monitoring Mission tasked with gathering information about atypical military activity and provocative actions aimed at destabilising the situation, as well as monitoring human and minority rights in Ukraine, and calls for its expansion; regrets, however, the fact that the mission has not secured access to Crimea, where various human rights violations, including cases of violence against journalists and their families, have taken place; regrets the fact that attacks on journalists are now also being reported in eastern Ukraine;
14. Calls, furthermore, for an in-depth election observation mission from the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODHIR), and also from Parliament and the EU, to monitor the elections comprehensively; calls for the presidential elections on 25 May 2014 to be conducted in full compliance with international standards; rejects any external pressure to delay these elections;
15. Welcomes the Ukrainian Government's intention to hold early parliamentary elections;
16. Welcomes, in principle, the idea of holding a nationwide referendum on the future status and territorial set-up of Ukraine, as suggested by acting President Oleksandr Turchynov in his televised address of 14 April 2014;
17. Welcomes the recent resolution of the Ukrainian parliament calling for the immediate disarmament of all illegal self-defence forces, and looks forward to its implementation;
18. Welcomes the Council's readiness to assist Ukraine in the field of civilian security-sector reform and provide support for the police and the rule of law, and to examine all options, including a possible CSDP mission, as well as the possibility of an EU monitoring mission;
19. Expresses its strong support for Ukraine and its people in these difficult times; welcomes the signing of the political chapters of the Association Agreement and the subsequent adoption of the unilateral trade measures; calls for the signing of the full AA/DCFTA as soon as possible and before the expiry of the unilateral trade measures;
20. Welcomes the announcement by the Ukrainian Government of an ambitious economic and social reform agenda, and highlights the vital importance of its swift implementation in order to stabilise and overcome the country's critical financial situation; welcomes the decision of the international financial institutions and the EU to provide Ukraine with substantial short' and long-term financial aid; recalls the need to organise and coordinate an international donor conference, which should be convened by the Commission and take place as soon as possible;
21. Supports the conditionality laid down by the EU regarding much-needed structural reforms that will help create more favourable conditions for sustainable economic growth, improve the management of public finances, develop the social safety net and tackle corruption; calls for transparency in the spending of EU funds and effective monitoring by the Commission;
22. Draws attention to the serious economic and social situation in the country; calls for measures to accompany the structural reforms with the aim of alleviating the current situation with regard, in particular, to the most vulnerable sections of the population;
23. Encourages Ukraine to continue to move ahead with its course of political reform, in particular constitutional reform, which should be the subject of a broad, in-depth discussion among all components of Ukrainian society; welcomes the will of the Ukrainian Government to implement its commitments to ensure the representative nature of governmental structures, reflecting regional diversity, to ensure the full protection of the rights of persons belonging to national minorities, to align the country's anti-discrimination legislation with EU standards, to investigate all human rights violations and acts of violence and to fight extremism;
24. Welcomes the Commission's decision to create a Support Group for Ukraine which will work on the implementation of the 'European Agenda for Reform';
25. Supports the efforts of the Ukrainian Government, working in close cooperation with the OSCE and the Council of Europe, to ensure due respect for the legitimate rights of the Russian-speaking population and other cultural, national and linguistic minority groups, in line with the provisions of the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages and the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities;
26. Reiterates its call for the setting-up of an independent commission to investigate the Kyiv shootings and the tragic events on Maidan, with the inclusion of a strong international component and under the supervision of the Council of Europe International Advisory Panel; welcomes the appointment of a third party to that panel and the holding of its first meeting on 9 April 2014;
27. Welcomes the signing of the political provisions of the AA and expects the quick implementation of the autonomous trade preferences adopted by the EU to bridge the gap until the signing of the remainder of the agreement, which includes the DCFTA;
28. Welcomes the initial measures adopted by the Commission to enable Ukraine to tackle an energy crisis should Russia cut gas supplies to the country, and urges the Council and the Commission to assist and support Kyiv in its efforts to resolve the long-standing gas dispute with Moscow; stresses the urgent need for a strong common energy security policy (an Energy Union), with the aim of reducing the EU's dependency on Russian oil and gas, including the diversification of energy supply, the full implementation of the Third Energy Package and the possibility of suspending gas imports when necessary; takes the view that the South Stream pipeline should not be built, and that other sources of supply should be made available; is convinced that EU assistance to Ukraine in securing reverse-flow supply through further diversification, enhanced energy efficiency and effective interconnections with the EU will strengthen Ukraine against political and economic pressures; recalls, in this connection, the strategic role of the Energy Community, of which Ukraine holds the presidency in 2014;
29. Calls on the Council to authorise the Commission immediately to speed up visa liberalisation with Ukraine, so as to advance along the path of introducing a visa-free regime, following the example of Moldova; calls, in the meantime, for the immediate introduction of temporary, very simple, low-cost visa procedures at EU and Member State level;
30. Stresses that the Russian concerns as regards the EU association process of Ukraine and the other Eastern neighbours must be adequately addressed and explained, so as to ease fears of new geopolitical dividing lines on the European continent; points out that each country has every right to make its own political choices, but that the EU's engagement with the Eastern partners aims to spread prosperity and increase political stability, from which the Russian Federation will also ultimately gain;
31. Reiterates that the AAs with Ukraine and the other EaP countries do not constitute the final goal in their relations with the EU; points out in this connection that, pursuant to Article 49 of the TEU, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine '' like any other European state '' have a European perspective and may apply to become members of the Union provided that they adhere to the principles of democracy, respect fundamental freedoms and human and minority rights and ensure the rule of law;
32. Calls on the Council to sign the AAs/DCFTAs between the EU and its Member States and Moldova and Georgia, respectively; expresses its approval of the proposal for a Council decision on the provisional application of the EU''Moldova and EU''Georgia AAs immediately upon signature; urges the General Secretariat of the Council of the European Union to reduce the notification procedures following the signing of the AAs, so that provisional application can take effect as soon as possible after signing; states its intention, in the event of all requirements being met and the AAs subsequently being signed, to proceed with full ratification of the EU''Moldova and EU''Georgia AAs as soon as possible and before the end of the Commission's current term; calls for the allocation to those countries of the additional financial assistance required; calls, furthermore, for a frank and open dialogue with the Russian Federation in order to make every effort to develop synergies aimed at benefiting EaP countries;
33. Express particular concern over the renewed instability in the separatist region of Transnistria in Moldova; believes that the recent request of 18 March 2014 by the self-proclaimed authorities in Tiraspol to become part of Russia represents a dangerous and irresponsible step; reiterates its full support for Moldova's territorial integrity, and calls on all parties, as a matter of urgency, to resume dialogue under the 5+2 framework, with an enhanced status for the EU, with a view to a peaceful and sustainable settlement of the issue;
34. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the governments of the Member States, the Presidents, Governments and Parliaments of Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova, the Council of Europe, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe and the President, Government and Parliament of the Russian Federation.
Company In Which Joe Biden's Son Is Director Prepares To Drill Shale Gas In East Ukraine | Zero Hedge
Recall what we said earlier today: the proxy Ukraine war just like that in Syria preceding it, "is all about energy."
Recall also the following chart showing Ukraine's shale gas deposits, keeping in mind that the Dnieper-Donets basin which lies in the hotly contested eastern part of the nation and where as everyone knows by now a bloody civil war is raging, is the major oil and gas producing region of Ukraine accounting for approximately 90 per cent of Ukrainian production and according to EIA may have 42 tcf of shale gas resources technically recoverable from 197 tcf of risked shale gas in place.
Finally, recall our story from May that Joe Biden's son, Hunter, just joined the board of the largest Ukraine gas producer Burisma Holdings. From the press release:
R. Hunter Biden will be in charge of the Holdings' legal unit and will provide support for the Company among international organizations. On his new appointment, he commented: ''Burisma's track record of innovations and industry leadership in the field of natural gas means that it can be a strong driver of a strong economy in Ukraine. As a new member of the Board, I believe that my assistance in consulting the Company on matters of transparency, corporate governance and responsibility, international expansion and other priorities will contribute to the economy and benefit the people of Ukraine.''
R. Hunter Biden is also a well-known public figure. He is chairman of the Board of the World Food Programme U.S.A., together with the world's largest humanitarian organization, the United Nations World Food Programme. In this capacity he offers assistance to the poor in developing countries, fighting hunger and poverty, and helping to provide food and education to 300 million malnourished children around the world.
Burisma Holdings is a privately owned oil and gas company with assets in Ukraine and operating in the energy market since 2002. To date, the company holds a portfolio with permits to develop fields in the Dnieper-Donets, the Carpathian and the Azov-Kuban basins. In 2013, the daily gas production grew steadily and at year-end amounted to 11.6 thousand BOE (barrels of oil equivalent '' incl. gas, condensate and crude oil), or 1.8 million m3 of natural gas. The company sells these volumes in the domestic market through traders, as well as directly to final consumers.
Now put it all together and what happens next should be rather clear.
* * *
Still confused? It's very simple, really.
In a nutshell Ukraine (or rather its puppetmasters) has decided to let no crisis (staged or otherwise) or rather civil war, go to waste, and while the fighting rages all around, Ukrainian troopers are helping to install shale gas production equipment near the east Ukrainian town of Slavyansk, which was bombed and shelled for the three preceding months, according to local residents cited by Itar Tass. The reason for the scramble? Under peacetime, the process was expected to take many years, during which Europe would be under the energy dictatorship of Putin. But throw in some civil war and few will notice let alone care that a process which was expected to take nearly a decade if not longer while dealing with broad popular objections to fracking, may instead be completed in months!
''Civilians protected by Ukrainian army are getting ready to install drilling rigs. More equipment is being brought in,'' they said, adding that the military are encircling the future extraction area.
The people of Slavyansk, which is located in the heart of the Yzovka shale gas field, staged numerous protest actions in the past against its development. They even wanted to call in a referendum on that subject. Environmentalists are particularly concerned with the consequences of hydrofracing, a method used for shale gas extraction, because it implies the use of extremely toxic chemical agents which can poison not only subsoil waters but also the atmosphere. Experts claim that not a single country in the world has invented a method of utilization of harmful toxic agents in the process of development of shale gas deposits.
Countries like the Czech Republic, the Netherlands and France have given up plans to develop shale gas deposits in their territories.
Not only them but also all-important Germany, which two weeks ago announcedit would halt shale-gas drilling for the next seven years over groundwater pollution concerns.
Which clearly makes Ukraine, potentially the last place with massive shale gas deposits and no drilling ban,quite valuable to those who want to develop a major source of shale gas, one which reduces Europe's reliance on Russian gas even more, yet one whose future depends on one simple question: who controls East Ukraine?
Because what better way to accelerate "next steps" than to start drilling for gas in the middle of the Donetsk republic as a civil war is waging in all directions, and where public mood has shifted decidedly against the local "separatists" in the aftermath of the MH-17 tragedy.
The punchline: who will develop the gas field in conjunction with Shell (jointly owned by the Netherlands and the UK: the two countries that loathe Putin the most in the aftermath of the MH-17 disaster) which in May 2012 announced a tender for the right to develop the Yuzovka shale gas deposit?
Burisma, Ukraine's oil and gas production holdings, also has the right to develop the shale gas fields in the Dnieper-Donetsk basin of Eastern Ukraine. The same Burisma where R. Hunter Biden, Joseph's son, was appointed a director two months ago.
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EU's planned sanctions against Russia to hit South Stream, Yamal LNG
LONDON/BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Union's proposed sanctions against Russia, targeting sensitive technology, take aim at Gazprom's huge South Stream gas pipeline project to Europe and Novatek's Arctic Yamal liquefied natural gas (LNG) facility.
A draft proposal outlines a package of targeted measures in the areas of access to capital markets, defense, dual use goods and sensitive technologies, EU diplomats said on condition of anonymity.
It makes clear any measures should not affect current energy supplies and that sanctions should be reversible.
But the list, if enforced, would delay major energy projects in the pipeline sector, which Russia dominates, and the fast-growing global liquefied natural gas (LNG) market, in which Russia is so far not a big participant.
The diplomats said the EU was considering restricting Russian access to piping used for building oil and natural gas pipelines, drilling pipes to extract oil and gas, floating or submersible drilling platforms, as well as floating cranes and dredging equipment.
That would likely halt or delay development of Gazprom's South Stream pipeline, planned to pump 63 billion cubic meters (bcm) of natural gas a year, equivalent to 15 percent of European demand, via the Black Sea into the EU later this decade, cementing Russia's position as the region's dominant gas supplier.
"If Europe's engineering partners are prevented from work on any of the big Russian oil or gas projects because of the sanctions, they are almost certainly going to be delayed," said one advisory source that works on Russian energy projects.
Gazprom's main partners in South Stream are Italy's Eni, France's EDF, Austria's OMV and Germany's Wintershall [WINT.UL], which is a subsidiary of German chemical giant BASF.
Already, the European Commission, the EU executive, has suspended negotiations on making South Stream conform with EU legislation.
South Stream relies heavily on European know-how to be built, such as through a contract with Italy's Saipem to work on one of four parallel South Stream pipelines due to cross the Black Sea.
The proposed sanctions would also likely hit Novatek's Yamal LNG export project.
Novatek's main partners in the project are France's Total, a specialist in deep-sea drilling, and China's CNPC.
French oil services company Technip, which won the engineering, procurement and construction contract for Yamal LNG last May warned earlier on Thursday about the risk that sanctions against Russia could interrupt income flows from the Siberian project, sending its shares down more than 8 percent. [ID: nL6N0PZ10I]
EU diplomats were meeting on Thursday to debate tighter sanctions, but were expected to meet again next week before taking any final decision.
Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger said on Wednesday that the EU should not give Russia technical help to develop Arctic oil and gas fields if Moscow failed to help to defuse the Ukraine crisis.
Novatek, which has seen one of its shareholders hit by U.S. sanctions, is the main developer of the Arctic Yamal peninsula LNG export project, which plans to export 16.5 million tonnes of LNG a year.
The project's gas is so far in the Arctic North that it requires the use of specialized technology, often provided by Western partners.
(Additional reporting by Michel Rose in Paris, editing by David Evans and William Hardy)
PoliticsSportsEx-international footballer Johan van 't Schip has urged Dutch football association KNVB to boycott the 2018 World Cup being hosted by Russia. Germany is currently taking the lead in trying to prevent Russia from hosting, with several politicians making it clear that they find this irresponsible.
''I say call to @KNVB Ned. Government and #FIFA to #boycott #WorldCup2018 in Russia #MH017'" Van 't Schip tweeted. The angry Melbourne City coach's call is now being heard by German politicians.
''A country that can't even guarantee that an airplane can fly over without a problem, should not organize a World Cup'' said vice-faction president Michael Fuchs of the German Christian Democratic CDU party.
The politician believes that this boycott will make much more of an impact than the sanctions currently being discussed in Brussels. ''Trade restrictions are too easy for Russia to avoid. Those are easy to control in a country with so many borders'', Fuchs said.
Frank Steffel of the CDU urges FIFA to make sure that Russia's President Putin knows that a country that violates citizen rights should not be able to organize a World Cup.
The CDU is joined by the green party in their plea for a boycott. ''We must no longer give Putin a stage for his propaganda'', Parliamentarian Dieter Janeck said.
City of London to bear the brunt of EU sanctions on Russia
Controversially, the EU ducks the issue of whether France should be forced to cancel the delivery of the first Mistral amphibious invasion warship to Russia this autumn.
"The question on how to deal with prior contracts needs to be addressed politically by member states," said the paper.
"There are a number of options to deal with the issue, such as a clause of safeguard for the execution of contracts signed before a certain date. The embargo would be reversible."
Annual EU exports to Russia are worth an annual £250million ('¬300m) compared to a trade armaments imported from the Russians of £2.5billion ('¬3.2bn) mainly by East European countries.
"An embargo on the trade in arms could be imposed on the whole defence sector," said the paper.
Sanctions set in a detailed annex would target EU exports of "dual use" goods, that can be used for military purposes, worth £3.1billion a year, including "special materials, quantum key distribution systems, some machine tools, high performance computers and electronics".
As a "possible next step", the EU proposals suggest "prohibiting subscription of bonds and equities from companies operating in the sectors subject to sanctions", such as Russia defence industry, cutting Russian companies off from financing.
While Britain's financial sector would bear the greatest burden of sanctions, the EU has backed off any measures that would hit oil and gas imports from Russia, the most significant economic sector for the Russian economy worth 68 per cent of export revenues.
"The new sanctions will represent a step up but will leave the Russian economy's biggest sector untouched. That shows the limitations," said a diplomat.
Instead of hitting oil and gas imports, which would be acutely felt by Germany and energy importing countries, the EU proposals target "sensitive technologies" that could be used in deep-sea drilling, arctic exploration and shale oil extraction, business worth just £119million. Gas related technologies would be not covered.
"The restriction to technology transfer would only target long term production, so it should not disrupt current supply and trade in energy products," said the paper, in an attempt to convince energy dependent EU countries.
Measures would also include restrictions on "technical and financial assistance like export credit, re-insurance or other financial services associated in trades in commodities" covered by sanctions.
The proposal to bar Russian banks from listing new bond or equity issues on European exchanges would place the biggest burden of punishing Vladimir Putin on London as the EU's financial centre but is unlikely to be agreed amid continuing European divisions over economic sanctions on Russia.
If agreed, and if Russia fails to cooperate, the measure would hit bond issues that in 2013 accounted for £5.9billion ('¬7.5bn) out of a total of £12.5bn ('¬15.8bn) in bonds issued by Russian public financial institutions in EU markets.
"Impact on Russian investors would consist in sharply increased costs of issuance, even if eventually alternative financing sources in third markets could be found," said the paper.
The EU measures, handed to national ambassadors in a 10-page "non-paper" last night, would go further than United States sanctions that target only two Russian banks, Gazprombank and VEB, to cover all Russia banks with more than 50 per cent public ownership. the The four largest Russian banks with state ownership of over 50 per cent are Sberbank, VTB, the Russian Agriculture Bank and VEB. The first two are listed on the London Stock Exchange.
"The measure would consist in prohibiting any EU persons form investing in debt, equity and similar financial instruments with a maturity higher than 90 days, issued by state-owned Russian financial institutions after the entry into force of the restrictive measure anywhere in the world," said the paper.
"It would also be prohibited to provide investment services and any service in relation to the admission to trading on a regulated market or trading on a multilateral trading facility with regard to the same instruments."
The measures are expected to have an impact on existing Russian securities held by Western investors, a development that could hit banks across Europe with concerns that the City, as the EU's main banking centre, could pay a higher price than other financial capitals.
"Adverse effects could materialise in loss of revenue for operators, depessed value of existing securities, loss of market positions and as an un-likely worst case scenario risks of default," warned the EU paper.
The Open Europe think tank warned: "This raises the question of whether the UK would be taking a larger share of the burden. This is possible, and the document does not provide national estimates in terms of costs."
But the EU proposals do not include measures to ban the auctions on European markets of Russian state bonds because of fears that Moscow could hit back by stopping purchases of European debt. The ban would only affect market transactions of newly-issued Russian securities, exempting all existing stock and bonds would not be covered.
"At an initial stage restrictions would not extend to sovereign bonds as Russia is a significant investor in issuance by several EU member states," said the paper.
If the proposals are agreed by EU ambassadors before the weekend, the European Commission could table legislative proposals next week in time for agreement by EU foreign ministers before the end of the month.
Under existing sanctions EU ambassadors will to target "individuals or entities who actively provide material or financial support to or are benefiting from the Russian decision makers responsible for the annexation of Crimea or the destabilisation of Eastern-Ukraine".
These sanctions will be more likely to target the Russian companies and billionaires already targeted and tipped off by measures such as the asset freezes imposed by the United States and will be published on Saturday.
Putin gives green light for gambling zone in Crimea.
23 July 2014Last updated at 12:37 Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a law setting up a gambling zone in Crimea, the territory Russia annexed from Ukraine in March.
Four official gambling zones were created in Russia five years ago when the authorities acted to curb betting.
Russian MPs argue that the new law will attract investment and boost visitor numbers in Crimea, with its network of Black Sea holiday resorts.
Western states refuse to recognise Crimea's unification with Russia.
While the annexation, which followed a referendum on self-determination, was virtually bloodless, it encouraged pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine to take up arms against the new authorities in Kiev.
There were concerns that Crimea's tourist revenue would fall sharply this summer as a result of the crisis.
Russia has sought to maintain summer visitor numbers with holiday promotions while state companies have been encouraged to treat their workers to holidays on the peninsula. Initiatives include visa-free travel to Crimea for Chinese tourists.
The new law also extends the gambling zone in Russia's southern Krasnodar territory to cover the city of Sochi with its Winter Olympics venues. Casinos are expected to be built near the Olympic Village, Russian media report.
The other three gambling zones were set up in Russia's Baltic enclave of Kaliningrad, the Far East and Siberia's Altai territory.
'Burgemeester Hilversum oppert land uitzetten dochter Poetin'
En hoe vaak ben je zelf al op al die plaatsen geweest die je opnoemde?In en om Moskou wonen ruim 12 miljoen mensen, noem mij een stad van die omvang die geen ghetto's heeft?
Nee het is zeker niet geweldig buiten de steden maar wat jij neerkalkt slaat echt nergens op.Ik ben zelf meerdere keren geweest en heb jouw waanbeelden daar niet gezien.
Een dochter deporteren voor een daad die haar vader niet eens begaan heeft, is onzin!Moeten alle Russen er nu ineens uit?
WAAROM stelt niemand vragen aan Oekra¯ne?De Russen hebben bewijzen laten zien, Oekra¯ne heeft gelogen over het bezit van BUK systeem (ze hadden er zelfs een operationeel in de omgeving)De audiovideo op youtube gezet door Oekra¯ne van het zogenaamde gesprek, is op 16(!!) Juli gemaakt!!Waarom werd MH17 door de Oekra¯ense luchtvaart autoriteit over oorlogsgebied gestuurd, terwijl alle voorgaande vluchten de route een stuk zuidelijker ging?
Er zijn enorm veel vragen die door de Nederlandse (en alle andere Westerse) media NIET gesteld worden.
Rusland wordt 100% erin geluisd, duidelijker kan niet.En half Nederland is zo gek om erin mee te gaan.
Calls grow to impound Russian billionaires' luxury boats in protest at shooting down of MH17 | Mail Online
Billionaires with links to Putin's Russia flaunt wealth with huge superyachtsRussian regime currently in international firing line over MH17 jet attackFlight, with 298 on board, was shot out of the sky last weekWestern powers are considering sanctions of Russia's centres of powerForeign policy experts suggest 'symbolic' sanctions against super-wealthy could influence Putin By Kieran Corcoran
Published: 05:39 EST, 25 July 2014 | Updated: 20:09 EST, 25 July 2014
The luxury superyachts of billionaire oligarchs could be seized as part of a squeeze on Vladimir Putin's Russia as international outrage builds over the attack on passenger jet MH17.
Foreign policy experts raised the prospect of levying sanctions on the super-rich allies of the Russian president as a way of punishing the country over its links to attack on the passenger jet.
Dozens of wealthy businessmen with links to Putin's government are based outside the country, as are their prized yachts, some of which are worth as much as £1billion.
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Billion-pound palace: Roman Abramovich's Eclipse, pictured, is worth as much as £1billion. Super-rich Russians such as Abramovich could be caught up in rounds of sanctions directed against Russia
Second ride: Abramovich also has a second yacht named Luna, worth £105million
CHELSEA OWNER'S PAIR OF SUPER-PRICEY SHIPS Rich-list: Roman Abramovich is worth around £5.4billion
Eclipse, worth £1billion, and Luna, worth £105million, are both the possessions of Chelsea FC owner and super-rich Russia Roman Abramovich.
Eclipse, the main vessel, is 535ft long and can hold 34 guests across 18 cabins. It has two swimming pools, a pair of helipads, a nightclub, cinema, theatre, submarine and missile defence system.
It is thought to be
Luna, a more humble affair, is just 380ft long, has a single swimming pool and nine cabins which can hold 18.
This could make them a target for sanctions by the international community, and they could be impounded by court as a way to 'make life difficult' for those at the top and exert pressure on Russia.
Super-wealthy businessmen including Chelsea FC owner Roman Abramovich, metals trader Oleg Deripaska and energy magnate Andrey Melnichenko have strong links to the Russian leader and also flaunt their wealth with glamorous ships.
'Ostentatious': Pictured is the Dilbar, owned by Russian business magnate Alisher Usmanov
PLAYTHING OF 'THE RICHEST MAN IN RUSSIA' 'Richest man in Russia': Alisher Usmanov
The Dilbar, 360ft superyacht, is one of the prize possessions of Alisher Usmanov, 60.
Valued at around £100million, the vessel has space for 20 guests and features a pool, and hot tub and two helipads
Usmanov has been described by Forbes magazine as 'the wealthiest man in Russia'. He amassed his £11billion fortune from metals trading and his telecoms company Megaphone, which is the second largest mobile carrier in Russia.
He also owns a newspaper and a substantial stake in Arsenal football club.
Splashing out: Le Grand Bleu, owned by Eugene Shvidler, is another superyacht owned by a Russia billionaire
Features: The huge yacht, pictured moored in Kent, can hold 20 guests, as well as two smaller boats
Russia Ambassador: 'Too early to lay blame over MH17'
The vessels could become targets of governments looking to teach Russia a lesson, and become a 'symbolic' way to discipline the country, alongside wider sanctions being considered against the Russian economy.
Dr Andrew Foxall, an expert from the Henry Jackson Society think-tank,said there was a 'stronger case than ever' for seizing the ships, which would send a 'symbolic but important message' to Russia.
'The point of these sanctions is to get at the people who enable Putin to act as he is doing - and sanctions are one of the best ways of doing that.'
'It's part of a wider clamping-down on them, their lifestyle they lead in the West while facilitating and enabling Putin to do as he has been doing in eastern Ukraine and Russia.
A-team: Andrey Melnichenko is the owner of the above superyacht, named A in honour of his wife
BOMB-PROOF PARTY PALACE OWNED BY BANKING BILLIONAIRE Super-rich: Andrey Melnichenko
A, pictured above on the open seas, is the £200million ship of billionaire Andrey Melnichenko.
It is 390ft long, and features a dancefloor with a glass ceiling, which is also the floor of a swimming pool on the floor above.
The ship has two other swimming pools as well as a bomb-proof master bedroom and a series of fingerprint security devices to restrict access to parts of the interior.
The 42-year-old's personal wealth is estimated at £6.4billion. His fortune was amassed by the founding of a Russian bank, from which he moved into manufacturing pipes and selling coal and fertiliser.
'There's a legitimate argument for looking at their broader lifestyles, and manifestations of ostentatious wealth, like yachts for example.'
Putin has been blamed by the West for the attack last week which led to the jet being shot down. It is believed a surface-to-air missile used by pro-Russian rebels brought down the blame, killing all 298 on board.
Other experts said that while sanctions on oligarch's yachts would send a strong signal, it could be difficult to enact because governments would need to prove the men were directly linked to the situation.
It was also suggested that authorities in ports where oligarchs' tend to moor their prize possessions could be reluctant to seize the ships for fear of scaring off other super-rich holidaymakers.
A spokesman for the Open Europe think-tank told MailOnline: 'Dictators like Saddam Hussein and the Gadaffis have had their yachts impounded in the past.
'Sanctions are always a bit of a mixed bag - if you're trying to ostracise a country they can be quite effective.
'For individuals, you can make life very difficult for them - but in this case it's not clear how much influence these people have on Putin and Russia.'
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EUobserver / German, Dutch firms ready to take hit from Russia sanctions
BRUSSELS - German and Dutch companies, so far among the most reluctant to back EU's planned Russia sanctions, are ready to take a hit from possible retaliatory measures.
The "Eastern association of German economy" representing firms who are active in Russia is ready to support the sanctions, its chief Eckhard Cordes told Handelsblatt.
"If Putin continues to go this way, then this is not the way of German economy," Cordes said.
And if the German government, together with other EU countries, decide that economic sanctions have to be put in place because Russia fails to cooperate and use its influence on the Ukrainian separatists to stop the fighting, "then we will back it 100 percent," he said.
German firms doing business in Russia have so far been lobbying the German government against economic sanctions, for fear of retaliation from Moscow.
The same goes for Dutch firms, such as Shell and Heineken.
But the downing of the Malaysia Airlines passanger plane last week over Ukrainian territory controlled by pro-Russian separatists and with a missile that is believed to have been fired from a Russian rocket-launcher has changed the mood even among the most fervent Russia-defenders.
Cordes said the way the catastrophe was handled was an "act of inhumanity".
"We see disturbing behaviours, when separatists find bodies. From the Russian side, we hear adventurous theories, for instance that there were dead people on the plane."
In the Netherlands, the plane crash has become a national trauma, as almost 200 out of the 298 passengers on the plane were Dutch citizens.
Dutch oil giant Shell, who has some '¬5 billion in oil and gas producing assets in Russia, said on Thursday it wants to "ensure that we comply with all applicable international sanctions and related measures.''
Shell lost four employees in the downing of the plane.
Electronics manufacturer Philips, who also lost two employees in the crash, called the incident "unacceptable" and is also ready to face the brunt of economic sanctions.
Ad van Hamburg, the head of Fenedex, an association representing some 4,000 Dutch companies, told De Telegraaf that "exporters understand the Netherlands can't take this horrendous attack lying down".
"After this, feelings have to take the upper hand, not economic interests. These entrepreneurs are creative and will find other sources of income. What has happened is simply too momentous. You don't need to remain friendly at all costs," he said.
EU ambassadors on Friday were set to continue preparations for wide-ranging economic sanctions, targeting Russian banks' and firms' access to EU capital markets, as well as export bans on technological equipment, arms and high-tech goods that can have both military and civilian use.
The sanctions could be imposed next week if Russia does not change course.
On Thursday, there appeared to be no change in Moscow's actions. The US said it has evidence that Russia fired artillery across the border targeting Ukrainian military positions.
Russia also intends "to deliver heavier and more powerful multiple rocket launchers" to pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine, the State Department said.
US President Barack Obama phoned Dutch PM Mark Rutte on Thursday to convey his condolences and both agreed that "Russia still has not met the conditions set forth earlier by the leaders of the United States and European Union".
"Instead of deescalating the situation, they agreed that all evidence indicates Russia is still arming and supplying separatists who continue to engage in deadly acts of aggression against Ukrainian armed forces," a readout from the White House says.
MPs warn today that at least 251 export licences for the sale of controlled goods - ranging from sniper rifles to night sights - remain in place despite a call from Prime Minister David Cameron for other countries, in particular France, to halt lucrative arms deals with Moscow.
Downing Street insisted that any arms licences granted for equipment to the Russian military had been suspended in the wake of the MH17 disaster after Mr Cameron singled out French President Francois Hollande's refusal to call off a £1bn deal to sell Moscow two helicopter carriers.
The increasingly acrimonious war of words between London and Paris over sales of military hardware to Moscow deepened last night when the head of Mr Hollande's Socialist ruling party called Mr Cameron a ''hypocrite''.
Video: The aftermath of MH17 crashRead more: Pro-Russian rebel 'admits to shooting down plane'US CLAIMS RUSSIA 'CREATED THE CONDITIONS' THAT LED TO THE DOWNING OF FLIGHT MH17AIDS CONFERENCE DELEGATES VOW TO HONOUR MH17 VICTIMSCOMMENT: THE WEST IS TOO LOCKED IN TO RUSSIA TO CAUSE IT PAIN. BUT IT INFLICTS A LOT OF PAIN ON ITSELFA powerful select committee of MPs added to Downing Street discomfort over the issue by today calling on the Government to show ''more cautious judgment'' when approving exports to Russia after the value of licences rocketed by more than half in the last year from £86m to £131.5m.
The increase of 52 per cent in the last 12 months took place despite Britain's increasingly strident criticism of Russian support - including the supply of arms - for Ukrainian separatists, who have now been blamed for the killing of 298 people on board flight MH17.
As the European Union last night announced it was considering targeting defence sales as part of widened sanctions against Moscow, Labour claimed the Conservative Party had also accepted donations worth more than £900,00 since 2007 from Russians with alleged links to the Russian government.
The exhaustive report by MPs on sales to 28 countries deemed by the Government to be ''of human rights concern'' found that Britain last year issued 285 separate licences for the sale of weaponry and controlled goods to Russia, including £1.6m of small arms ammunition, 38 sniper rifles, components for assault rifles and combat shotguns, and cryptography equipment worth £74m.
A five-year licence was also granted last year by Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) for the shipping of multiple military components, including missile components and launching technology, to Russian territory.
Officials in Business Secretary Vince Cable's department last night insisted the licence applied to a contingency agreement to supply emergency spare parts to the Brazilian navy in 23 countries, including Russia, and no missile parts had been sent to Russia under the deal.
But MPs questioned whether there were enough checks in place to ensure that a long list of arms and weaponry approved for export to Russia reached its declared end user and said Britain needed to be significantly more circumspect about what it agreed to sell to authoritarian countries.
Sir John Stanley, chairman of the House of Commons Committees on Arms Export Controls (CAEC), said: ''Our view is that there should be a more cautious approach. We have been appealing for a more considered approach to Russia for some time. I think many people would be wondering why the UK is giving export approval to the considerable number of items on that list?''
The senior Conservative MP said last night he would be writing to Mr Cameron for clarification on which further weaponry exports to Russia have now been banned amid criticism from anti-arms trade campaigners that Britain was only taking action because of the international outcry over the Malaysia Airlines atrocity.
Andrew Smith, from the Campaign Against Arms Trade, said: ''All too often it takes a humanitarian catastrophe before the UK Government practices arms control. We welcome tighter regulation of the arms trade, but when the UK's target markets include oppressive Governments, it doesn't just give them military support, it also indicates political support.''
Former Foreign Secretary William Hague announced in March that it was suspending all licences existing licences and applications of military and dual-use equipment to Russia where it was or could be used against Ukraine.
Former Foreign Secretary William Hague (Getty Images)Sir John said this had resulted in the suspension of the ''relatively small number'' of just 34 of the 285 approved sales to Russia. The Government last night insisted that the ''majority'' of remaining export licences for Russia applied to items for ''for commercial use''.
The annual report by the MPs, based on joint meetings of four separate Commons' select committees, also accused Mr Cable of quietly dropping a longstanding plank of Britain's arms export policy to make sales to oppressive regimes such as Russia easier.
The report found that the Government last year approved sales worth £11.9bn to 28 countries designated by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) as being ''of human rights concern'', including £1.7bn each to Saudi Arabia and China. Sales to Israel, also named on the FCO list, were dominated by a single deal - worth £7.8bn - of cryptographic equipment and software to an unnamed customer in the country.
Since 2000, arms sales had been considered alongside criteria which states: ''An export licence will not be issued if the arguments for doing so are outweighed by concern that the goods might be used for internal repression or international aggression''.
Nightvision goggles on display at the DSEI arms fair in London last year (Getty)Despite being omitted from stated Government criteria, BIS officials last night insisted the move did constitute a change of policy and safeguards remains in place.
But the MPs strongly criticised the move. Sir John said: ''We don't accept that there has been no change of policy. This is very important policy wording and it has been dropped.''
The MPs were also strongly critical of the current Government and its Labour predecessor for approving the sale of chemical weapon precursors to Syria despite the knowledge that the country's regime was developing a nerve gas stockpile.
The report described the decision under Labour to grant five export licences for ''dual-use'' nerve gas ingredients between 2004 and 2010 as ''highly questionable'' and said the decision by the Coalition to grant to further licences in 2012 - after the civil war had started - as ''irresponsible''.
A Government spokesperson said: ''The UK aims to operate one of the most robust and transparent export control systems in the world. Every application is examined rigorously against internationally recognised criteria and particular attention is paid to human rights risks.''
Eastern promise: The Tories' Russian donors
A former vice-president of oil giant Yukos, Mr Temerko fled Russia and received UK citizenship after being charged with fraud. He is a director of Offshore Group Newcastle, who specialise in offshore wind, and gas and oil platforms. He has personally donated around £259,230 to the Conservative Party since 2012. OGN has also donated £185,325 to the Tories.
Lubov and Vladimir Chernukhin
Lubov Chernukhin paid £160,000 at the most recent Tory summer ball for a game of tennis with David Cameron. She is married to Vladimir Chernukhin, former deputy finance minister of Russia. Mr Chenhukhin is also a former director of Aeroflot, JCS Russian Agricultural Bank, Vnesheconombank, and Polyus Gold International Limited until April 2014.
New Century Media
Had a table at the Tory summer ball and have donated £91,000 to the Conservatives. The lobbying company has worked with organisations such as ''Positive Russia'' '' which seeks to portray Vladimir Putin and Russia in a positive light, and invited Mr Putin's judo partner Vasily Shestakov and billionaire Andrei Klyamko to the ball.
Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17: Canada to strengthen sanctions on Russia
Canada is ready to level more sanctions against Russia in the wake of the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 in Eastern Ukraine, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said Monday.
Baird, speaking to reporters by teleconference from London, said new sanctions will be introduced against individuals and entities, as well as entire sectors of the Russian economy. Baird told reporters the new sanctions will be similar to those already imposed by the U.S.
While Baird didn't directly blame Russia for downing the plane, he said it must take some responsibility.
''The Kremlin may not have pulled the trigger, but it certainly loaded the gun and put it in the murderer's hand,'' he said.
Baird also called on pro-Russian separatists in Eastern Ukraine to immediately vacate the crash site to allow international investigators the chance to look through the wreckage without fear.
"I am very, very disturbed by the reports of the careless, even callous, way in which the crash site has been treated. It's time for these pro-Russian forces to immediately withdraw from the area and let Ukrainian and international authorities get on with their investigating and forensic work."
Baird was speaking prior to a press conference by Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak in which he said the rebels have now agreed to grant international investigators access to the site. Razak also said the pro-Russia Ukrainian separatists had agreed to hand over the plane's two black boxes.
A total of 298 people, including one Canadian, were killed when MH17 crashed near Donetsk last week.
Obama: Burden on PutinIn Washington, U.S. President Barack Obama also addressed Russia's role in the MH17 crash, saying the "burden" now falls on Russian President Vladimir Putin to tell the separatists to allow a proper independent investigation to proceed.
U.S. President Barack Obama said Russia must use its influence over the Ukrainian separatists to ensure they leave the MH17 crash site and stop tampering with the investigation. (Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty)
Obama also blasted Ukrainian rebels for removing and tampering with bodies and wreckage at the crash site.
''What exactly are they trying to hide?'' Obama asked.
The U.S. president, who also spoke ahead of Razak, did not announce any new sanctions but warned Russia that it could face increasing isolation from the international community if the separatists continue to be a threat.
The U.S. has sent crash investigators to Ukraine to help study the crash, Obama added, before calling for "full, unimpeded access" to the crash site for investigators on the ground.
Earlier Monday, the Dutch prime minister said "all political, economic and financial options" are on the table if access doesn't improve to the area in Eastern Ukraine.
Mark Rutte told parliament on Monday that his government's priority is to recover and identify the bodies. Of all on board at the time of Thursday's downing of the plane,193 were Dutch.
"It is clear that Russia must use her influence on the separatists to improve the situation on the ground," Rutte said.
The train carrying the remains of many of the crash victims left the city of Torez shortly before 1 p.m. ET headed for the Eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv. From there, the bodies will be flown to Amsterdam..
Dutch team wants bodies movedPeter van Vliet of the Dutch National Forensic Investigations Team, inspected the bodies of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 victims on Monday, and said he was told they soon would be moved to a safer location. (Brendan Hoffman/Getty)
Earlier Monday, experts from the Dutch National Forensic Investigations Team had told armed separatists guarding train cars full of bodies from the downed jet that the train must be allowed to leave within hours.
The Dutch team had also pressed for rebels to seal the train cars.
In the Netherlands, Dutch prosecutors opened an investigation into MH17's downing, on suspicion of murder, war crimes and intentionally downing an airliner, a spokesman said.
Based on the Law on International Crimes, the Netherlands can prosecute any individual who committed a war crime against a Dutch citizen. As part of the investigation, a Dutch public prosecutor is conducting an investigation in Ukraine, a spokesman said.
'Powerful' evidenceAustralia, meanwhile, pressed for a UN resolution calling for uninhibited access to the rebel-controlled crash site. It also asks for the full co-operation of all countries in the region, including Russia. The UN Security Council was to vote on a resolution related to the MH17 disaster at 3 p.m. ET Monday.
'Russia is supporting these separatists. Russia is arming these separatists. Russia is training these separatists.'- John Kerry, U.S. secretary of state
Also on Monday, a team of international experts arrived at a crisis centre serving as a base of operations for the crash investigation in the government-controlled eastern city of Kharkiv. Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk said the team included 23 Dutch, two Germans, two Americans, one Briton and three representatives from the Australian Embassy.
The United States presented what it called "powerful" evidence Sunday that the rebels shot down the Boeing 777 with a Russian surface-to-air missile. That evidence included video of a rocket launcher, one surface-to-air missile missing, leaving the likely launch site; imagery showing the firing; phone calls claiming credit for the strike and phone recordings said to reveal a cover-up at the crash site.
Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko, right. and Dutch ambassador to Ukraine Kees Klompenhouwer paid their respect to MH17 victims in Kyiv on Monday. Dutch prosecutors have opened an investigation into the plane's downing, on suspicion of murder and war crimes. (Valentyn Ogirenko/Reuters)
"A buildup of extraordinary circumstantial evidence ... it's powerful here," said U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.
"Russia is supporting these separatists. Russia is arming these separatists. Russia is training these separatists," he added.
The head of counterintelligence for Ukraine's SBU security service, Vitaliy Najda, said Saturday the Buk launchers came from Russia, and called on Russia to supply the names and ranks of the service personnel "who brought about the launch of the missile" so they could be questioned by investigators.
He said the rebels could not have operated the sophisticated weapon without Russian help. Nayda did not provide specific evidence for his claim.
Yatsenyuk said Monday "it is crystal clear that any Russian drunken guerrilla cannot manage this system."
FIFA Investigation Into Bidding Process For World Cup 2018 and 2022 Delayed
FIFA's official investigation into the World Cup bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 tournaments in Russia and Qatar has been delayed until September of this year.
Initially due to be submitted during this month, FIFA's ethics committee now say they expect the report to be ready in the first week of September 2014.
The 2022 World Cup in Qatar has been shrouded in controversy, with this investigation targeting former FIFA vice-president, Mohamed bin Hammam, who has been alleged to pay over £3m to officials for their support of the Qatari bid in The Sunday Times.
Qatar had very little in the form of developed World Cup appropriate stadia, especially compared to the more established bids from Australia, the United States and Japan. Qatar also promised radical ways of overcoming temperatures that can often sore to over 50°C (over 120 °F), such as air conditioned stadium, which has since been thought impossible to achieve.
Beyond this, numerous reports of several workers dying in the World Cup construction process has raised questions not just over the World Cup's location, but the nation's labor laws as a whole. Cultural differences to much of the footballing world have also raised concerns about the eligibility of the country.
If there were negative findings within this report, one could suggest that releasing this information in September, rather than just after the hugely successful World Cup in Brazil could well soften the blow. However, theories aside, this delay does absolutely nothing to help FIFA's already abject image. With FIFA vice-president Jim Boyce and former attorney general Lord Goldsmith being among a host of people calling for the re-run of the 2022 vote, and UEFA's own Michel Platini being very critical of FIFA, delaying the findings of this process will only intensify the calls for action from people all across the sport. Rightly so, we say.
You can follow Jordan Willis on Twitter @JMWillis01.
MOSKOU - Het Russische parlement, de Doema, komt donderdag voor een spoedzitting bijeen. Althans, dat meldt de Oekra¯ense nieuwssite Ukrinform die zich baseert op een anonieme bron bij de Doema.
,,Er staat iets te gebeuren, want veel volksvertegenwoordigers komen, misschien voor een quorum", aldus de bron die niet kan vertellen waarover precies gestemd gaat worden. Hij vermoedt dat de spoedzitting te maken heeft met de situatie in het oosten van Oekra¯ne.
Op de website van de Doema staat vooralsnog geen aankondiging van de spoedvergadering.
(C) 1996-2014 TMG Landelijke Media B.V., Amsterdam.Alle rechten voorbehouden.e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.orgGebruiksvoorwaarden | Privacy | Cookies | Cookie-voorkeuren
Gaspipe Diplomacy: How Ukraine Set Off a New U.S.-Russian Energy Fight | WhoWhatWhy
By Sylvia Todorova on Jul 23, 2014South Stream pipeline's planned route through the heart of Europe
Now that all eyes are on Ukraine and the potential of a bigger war looms, there's never been a more important time to understand what is at stake.
As WhoWhatWhy readers know, the real reasons surrounding a conflict are often buried under the headlines and rhetoric. So it shouldn't come as any surprise that, behind the scenes, oil and natural gas are driving a big piece of the U.S. response to Russian involvement in Ukraine.
If you want to understand where the rubber meets the geopolitical road in the Ukraine war, you need to learn about the 1,480-mile South Stream natural gas pipeline.
The pipeline is core to the larger battle being fought over Europe between Moscow and Washington. It may even have been a motivation behind Russia's annexation of Crimea. And if there's a crack in the unified front between the U.S. and Europe over Russia's role in Ukraine, South Stream is it.
Why does South Stream matter? It's a $21.6 billion project to connect Russia's gas reserves'--the world's largest'--to Europe's markets. Europe relies on Russia for about 30 percent of its natural gas.
Any delays in finishing the pipeline'--scheduled for completion in 2018'--can only help Russia's competitors in the international energy business. And one player gearing up to challenge Russia in the European energy market is the United States.
This year, the United States became the largest producer of natural gas and oil hydrocarbons in the world, surpassing Russia and Saudi Arabia. There's solid evidence that the U.S. is seeking both commercial advantage and political influence by gaining a foothold in Europe's oil and gas markets.
The evidence comes, in part, from the targets the Obama administration has chosen to punish for Russia's annexation of the Crimean peninsula. All of this raises the question of how much the confrontation in the Ukraine is about who gets to sell natural gas (and later oil) to one of the world's biggest energy consumers: Europe.
South Stream pipeline map.
South Stream owes much of its existence to the 2005-2010 Russia-Ukraine gas disputes, which left as many as 18 European countries cut off from Russian gas. Gazprom, Russia's state-run energy company, proposed South Stream as a way to circumvent Ukraine and ensure an uninterrupted, diversified flow to Europe. It found a willing partner in the Italy's state-controlled oil and gas company, Eni S.p.A., and seven other gas-hungry countries.
To truly understand how intrinsic South Stream is to Russian economic influence over Europe, one only has to look at some of the targets of U.S. sanctions against Russian or Russian-linked companies. Two of them were directly aimed at slowing down or stopping South Stream.
The first South Stream-related company the U.S. targeted was Stroytransgaz, which is building the Bulgarian section. Putin ally and billionaire Gennady Timchenko owns it and he's already on the sanctions list. So Stroytransgaz had to stop construction or risk exposing other companies on the project to the sanctions.
The second entity in the sanctions crosshairs was a Crimean company called Chernomorneftgaz. After the Russian annexation, the Crimean parliament voted to take over the company, which belonged to the Ukrainian government. And guess what that company owned? The rights to the exclusive maritime economic zone in the Black Sea.
That's important because Russia routed the pipeline on a longer path through the Black Sea that cut out Ukraine. It avoided the Crimean waters, going instead via Turkey's.
The European Union attacked South Stream through a non-binding resolution that called for a halt to its construction. EU member states don't have to pay attention to the resolution, which was mostly designed to put public pressure on Russia.
That's where split among countries in Europe became evident.
Several that will benefit from the pipeline have spoken out in support of construction or moved ahead with agreements to build it. Italy wants it to proceed, and Austria and Russia signed an agreement to construct a segment, in defiance of the EU's position that the pipeline may violate anti-competitiveness rules. Germany's Siemens will supply the instrumentation for the pipeline.
One country that's trying to avoid getting trampled as the giants fight is Bulgaria. It still has close ties to Russia but is subject to pressure from the U.S.
Both have taken aim at its section of South Stream, which is where the pipeline will come ashore from Russia via the Black Sea. The European Union warned the Bulgarian government that its construction tender broke EU rules. The U.S. sanctioned the company that won the tender, Stroytransgaz.
Bulgaria is arguing to the EU that its position is legally sound, and that its economic stability is at risk without South Stream. Bulgaria has no other secure gas supply so ''the national interest must be protected,'' Economy and Energy Minister Dragomir Stoynev said.
In the meantime, Bulgaria is hard at work finding a way around the U.S. sanctions. The government may hand the construction job to a subsidiary of Gazprom that's building the Serbian section. And here's a neat trick: the Bulgarian government approved an $835 million loan from Gazprom to pay for it, secured by future revenue from the pipeline.
JUST BUSINESS, NEVER POLITICAL
According to Vladimir Putin, South Stream is just a business venture facing ordinary commercial setbacks that have nothing to do with Ukraine. Washington is interfering, Putin said after meeting with his Austrian counterpart in June, because the United States wants to supply the gas to Europe. ''It is an ordinary competitive struggle. In the course of this competition, political tools are being used,'' he said, referring to the U.S. sanctions.
Undoubtedly, the United States has a massive commercial interest in selling natural gas to Europe. Thanks to the abundant supply created by the domestic shale-gas boom, the U.S. may be able to export liquefied natural gas to European buyers in the near future. Already, Washington has licensed seven export facilities; about 30 more are awaiting approval. The first exports could start by the end of this year.
But since all the infrastructure to ship liquefied gas is not yet in place, Serbian Prime Minister Alexander Vucic, a South Stream proponent, has ridiculed the idea of U.S. gas exports to Europe in a year or two as ''fairy tales.'' Meanwhile, Putin has pointedly said that piped gas will always be cheaper than the liquid form, and Moscow has consistently claimed that Europe's gas bill will rise if it chooses alternatives besides Russian natural gas.
However, there's more than natural gas at play in Europe's energy future. The Obama Administration is negotiating a free trade agreement with Europe that could legalize American oil exports for the first time since 1975. This would bring U.S. exporters in direct competition with Russia, which sells 84 percent of its oil exports to Europe today.
At the moment the South Stream pipeline is projected to generate approximately $20 billion a year in income. With that much money at stake, the politics behind the armed confrontation in eastern Ukraine takes on a new dimension: Is the shooting war there part of larger, longer-term conflict'--a continuing battle between the United States and Russia for global energy dominance?
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It wasn't that long ago that Kremlin officials could hardly avoid laughing when asked about the economic sanctions imposed on Russia by the West. As long as every NATO member state jealously sought to protect its own business interests, things "weren't all that bad," they gloated.
But since last week, their moods have darkened. For months, the European Union in particular had been reluctant to enact effective penalties against Moscow. Last Wednesday, though, the 28 EU heads of state and government cleared a psychological hurdle: For the first time, they opted go beyond sanctions targeting individual political leaders in Moscow, adding prohibitions against doing business with specific Russian companies that contribute to the destabilization of the situation in Ukraine. A concrete list is to be presented by the end of the month. European development banks have also been banned from providing loans to Russian companies.
The US, for its part, penalized a dozen leading Russian conglomerates, including oil giant Rosneft, natural gas producer Novatek, Gazprombank and the weapons manufacturer Kalashnikov. From now on, they are forbidden from borrowing money from American monetary institutions and from issuing medium- and long-term debt to investors with ties to the US.
For the companies involved, the penalties are a significant blow. It has become difficult to acquire capital in Russia itself, with both domestic and foreign investors withdrawing their money from the country in recent months. It is hardly surprising, then, that Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev spoke of a return to the Cold War and President Vladimir Putin warned that sanctions "usually have a boomerang effect."
Even prior to the sanctions, the Russian economy had been struggling. Now, though, the Ukraine crisis is beginning to make itself felt in Germany as well. German industry's Committee on Eastern European Economic Relations believes that the crisis could endanger up to 25,000 jobs in Germany. Were a broad recession to befall Russia, German growth could sink by 0.5 percent, according to a Deutsche Bank study.
The most recent US sanctions, warns Eckhard Cordes, head of the Committee on Eastern European Economic Relations, have placed an additional strain "on the general investment climate." Particularly, he adds, because European companies have to conform to the American penalties.
By last Thursday, just a day after the US sanctions were announced, the German-Russian Foreign Trade Office in Moscow was besieged by phone calls from concerned German companies who do business with both the US and Russia. The German Chambers of Commerce and Industry estimate that up to a quarter of German companies that do business abroad could be affected. And the risks are significant, with large fines threatening those who violate the American sanctions, whether knowingly or not.
Stefan Fittkau, who heads the Moscow office of EagleBurgmann, the Bavaria-based industrial sealing specialists, says company sales have already plunged by 30 percent. "Orders have been cancelled or delayed -- or we simply don't receive them anymore," he says. Novatek, Russia's second largest natural gas company, for example, had hired EagleBurgmann to take care of seals at a vast liquefied natural gas facility on the Yamal Peninsula in Siberia. Now, though, doing business with Novatek is no longer allowed.
The inclusion of Rosneft on the list also affects more than a dozen German companies: The construction firm Bilfinger maintains facilities for Rosneft, for example, while Siemens received a '¬90 million contract to supply turbines and generators. "In the end, both sides, the Russians and the Europeans, will lose," says Frank Schauff, head of the Association of European Businesses in Moscow.
Already, the uneasiness can be seen in the Ifo Business Climate Index. One in three of the companies surveyed at the end of June said it expected adverse effects. "Russian customers have begun looking for suppliers outside of Europe," says Ulrich Ackermann, a foreign trade expert with the German engineering association VDMA. "They are concerned that European companies, because of the threat of increased sanctions, won't be able to deliver."
Even prior to the latest sanctions, business has been slowing in almost all sectors. The D¼sseldorf-based energy giant E.on, for example, recently built power stations in Russia worth '¬9 billion. Most of the generators are already online, but because the economy in Russia is suffering, the returns are much lower than forecast. Volkswagen is a further example. The carmaker's sales figures for 2014 are 10 percent lower than they were last year. Opel's figures dropped by 12 percent during the first five months of the year.
Already, Opel has been forced to take a radical step. In St. Petersburg, where the Astra is manufactured, the company shut down the assembly lines recently for several weeks.
(C) SPIEGEL ONLINE 2014All Rights ReservedReproduction only allowed with the permission of SPIEGELnet GmbH
Germany gives up plan to repatriate gold from US - News - Reality Check - The Voice of Russia: News, Breaking news, Politics, Economics, Business, Russia, International current events, Expert opinion, podcasts, Video
The saga of German gold repatriation started in the aftermath of the European debt crisis, when a grassroots campaign began pressuring the government in Berlin to bring the gold home from New York and London. After a long and difficult media campaign, Bundesbank overcame its initial reluctance and demanded a full repatriation of the Germany's entire $141 billion gold reserve.
The Fed's reaction was extremely irritated and the issue of "German gold" became one of the most difficult diplomatic problems in the US-German relations. Every delay and every excuse cooked up by the US Federal Reserve made the campaign for repatriation even stronger, leading to an even deeper mistrust between the parties involved in the conflict.
Finally, Bundesbank was told that it will get its gold back in seven years, clearly showing that the US central banking cartel did something nefarious with the metal it has been entrusted to safeguard. Most likely, the gold has either been sold long ago or "hypothecated" to American banks trading in gold derivatives. According to Bloomberg, after repatriating just 5 tons of gold, Germany gave up.
Bloomberg quotes Norbert Barthle, the budget spokesman for Merkel's Christian Democratic bloc in parliament, who said that "the Americans are taking good care of our gold. Objectively, there's absolutely no reason for mistrust." Critics point out that there are a number of objective reasons for mistrust. One of such reasons is that there never was a German or an independent audit of the German gold store in New York or London. Moreover, the Bundesbank was never able to provide a reason for the lack of audits, claiming that it stores gold "only at central banks of the highest international reputation" and therefore an independent audit is not required.
The decision to halt the repatriation attempts bear the hallmarks of a political concession to Washington. It is very likely that in the long war Berlin will regret this decision because its chances of ever regaining control of its gold are now close to zero. However, there is still some hope left for the German gold. Hours after Bloomberg ran the story about Germany giving up its repatriation attempts, Peter Boehringer, the leader of the "Repatriate our gold" campaign, issued a statement,calling the Bloomberg piece"a 'non-news' article with a wrong headline, strange interviewees, old news, and with a clearly apologetic ideological approach.''He also said that the fight to bring the German gold back will continue.
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Picking up the Pieces: Practical Guide for Surviving Economic Crashes, Internal Unrest and Military SuppressionBy: Sorcha Faal ''In the span of less than 3 months gasoline prices will rise 500%. The prices of both food and shelter rise over 300%. (Continued)
Partisans Handbook:By: Sorcha Faal ''Essential Survival Guide For Resisting Foreign Military Occupation, Escape And Evasion Techniques, Surviving Interrogation, Facing Execution, Wilderness Survival (Continued)
The Great Refusal: An Historical Guide To Christian Suicide:By: Sorcha Faal is a MUST book for anyone who has contemplated suicide, tried suicide or has had someone they know commit suicide. For as the Sorcha Faal quotes in this psychologically, spiritual, monumental and controversial work: ''The whole secret of existence is to have no fear.Never fear what will become of you. Only the moment you reject all are you freed.'' (Continued)
July 23, 2014
Shock German Move To Russia Spells Obama Doom
By:Sorcha Faal, and as reported to her Western Subscribers
A shocking new report prepared by the Ministry Of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) circulating in the Kremlin today states that Germany's Federal Foreign Office (FFO) contacted Moscow this week requesting an accelerated membership course for their joining the BRICS economic community as they plan to leave the European Union (EU), a move Russian experts said would ''spell doom'' to the Obama regimes ''dream of empire''.
BRICS is the acronym for an association of five major emerging national economies: Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa and as of 2013, the five BRICS countries represent almost 3 billion people with a combined nominal GDP of US$16.039 trillion and an estimated US$4 trillion in combined foreign reserves. As of 2014, the BRICS nations represented 18 percent of the world economy.
Opposing BRICS is a global financial system organized by the West and dominated by the US which forces nations to conduct their international business in the unstable US dollar, making their economies swing back and forth with the winds of policy crafted in Washington, D.C., and New York City.
The West has ceded influence in institutions like the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) only grudgingly, and to the BRICS, today's financial system is out of touch with the changing times, and ill-suited to support the world's up-and-coming economic titans.
According to this report, Germany became ''alarmed'' this week after the Obama regime ordered the EU to ''ignore and not comment on'' the evidence provided by Russia relating to the Malaysian Airlines 17 flight shot down over Ukraine last week proving it was a ''deliberate action'' ordered by Kiev officials with CIA involvement.
German intelligence sources, this report continues, confirm their US counterpart's assessment that Russia had no involvement in the downing of this aircraft and further confirm that the Obama regimes case using YouTube videos and Tweets to blame Russia is ''unraveling like a cheap sweater'' under the increasing realization that dubious social media-sourced evidence is essentially all there is.
Most damning about the Obama regime accusations against Russia relating to the downing of MH-17, this report says, were German intelligence confirmations that these same YouTube videos and Tweets seeking to prove Russian involvement have proven to be ''manipulated'' and, instead, prove Ukrainian military forces were to blame.
Important to note, MoFA experts in this report say, is that Germany in knowing of the coming showdown between the Obama regime and Russia, had secretly planned to join the BRICS nations economic bloc in 2011 when its Bundesbank (Central Bank of Germany) demanded a full repatriation of Germany's entire US$141 billion gold reserve from the US Federal Reserve where it was stored.
On 24 June 2014, this report continues, Germany was forced to give up on its plan to repatriate its gold from the US after being told by the Obama regime that it would only get its gold back in seven years, clearly showing that the US central banking cartel did something nefarious with the metal it had been entrusted to safeguard.
In countering the Obama regimes move, however, this report says, Germany withheld from being converted into Euros over US13 billion worth of its former currency Deutsche Marks, and since 2011 have had their printing presses working overtime printing more.
Making Germany's move to BRICS and away from the Obama regime even more urgent, this report warns, are the Americans planned attack on the Bundesbank similar to their one on France's largest bank BNP Paribas that was punished with a US$9 billion legal fee after France refused to cancel the Mistral warship shipment to Russia, and which promptly led Banque de France (French National Bank) head Christian Noyer to warn that ''the days of the US Dollar as a reserve currency are numbered''.
Agreeing with Noyer, this report says, is Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff who stated last week at the start of the seventh summit of the BRICS nations that the five big emerging economies ''are moving toward a new global architecture''; an economic structure Germany desperately needs as the ''boomerang effect'' of the Obama regimes sanctions on Russia are beginning to destroy the Germany economy.
Equally as critical behind Germany's move to join BRICS, this report says, was the Obama regimes CIA spy ring uncovered spying on top German officials causing Germany to order the CIA station chief in Berlin to leave their country.
So alarmed has Germany become over the Obama regimes spying on them, Russian intelligence experts in this report say, their top government officials are now forced to store their smartphones and tablet computers when sensitive discussions take place, and typewriter sales are now surging in Germany too as CIA/NSA fears are forcing even of the most common of people to keep their secrets safe.
As to the American people themselves being aware of the catastrophically dangerous West-East struggle for global economic supremacy now ongoing, and with each passing day is leading to open conflict, this report doesn't say.
However, in a recent poll conducted by Politico, it found that most Americans aren't paying the least bit of attention to the war propaganda coming out of Washington'...a deliberate ignorance they will surely pay for much sooner than later.
July 23, 2014 (C) EU and US all rights reserved. Permission to use this report in its entirety is granted under the condition it is linked back to its original source at WhatDoesItMean.Com. Freebase content licensed under CC-BY and GFDL.
[Ed. Note: Western governments and their intelligence services actively campaign against the information found in these reports so as not to alarm their citizens about the many catastrophic Earth changes and events to come, a stance that the Sisters of Sorcha Faal strongly disagrees with in believing that it is every human beings right to know the truth. Due to our missions conflicts with that of those governments, the responses of their 'agents' against us has been a longstanding misinformation/misdirection campaign designed to discredit and which is addressed in the report ''Who Is Sorcha Faal?''.]
David And Goliath Moment Shakes America
They Are Going To Come For You'...Why Are You Helping Them?
Displaying the symbols of notorious motorcycle gangs the Hells Angels and the Bandidos is forbidden across Germany, but that ban has now extended to the internet.
Websites baring the bright red "Hells Angels" lettering and the iconic winged skull or the so-called Fat Mexican of the Bandidos gang will now be punished, the interior minister of the western state of North Rhine-Westphalia Ralf J¤ger said on Tuesday.
The biker symbols must be deleted from websites or the site will be taken down, the interior minister of Germany's most populous state said.
"Offenders will be tracked down based on the website and punished," a press spokesperson from the ministry told The Local when questioned how an online ban can be enforced by one state. He added that the exact consequence, most likely a fine, will vary on a case by case basis.
"We do not want to tolerate any legal loopholes. We're applying a zero tolerance strategy," said J¤ger in a statement. "The deceptive image of motorcycle romance has become a criminal reality."
"We'll use all of our available legal options in the fight against biker crime," he added.
A judge first banned the Hells Angels' charter in Hamburg in 1983. When a former member of the gang tried to appeal the decision in April this year, a judge ruled that public displays of the logo were forbidden throughout the entire country.
North Rhine-Westphalia is, however, the first state to also ban the logo online.
The California-based motorcycle club boasts upwards of 1,000 members throughout Germany, according to the Federal Criminal Police Office.
BERLIN, Germany '-- In the latest salvo of a battle to rein in outlaw motorcycle clubs, the authorities here are hitting the global Hell's Angels brand where it hurts most: the logo.
Last month, the signature winged death's head and ''Hell's Angels'' label featured on the motorcycle club's ''cut,'' or leather vest, were banned in the capital as the symbols of a criminal organization.
Although a tough-minded Hamburg judge outlawed Germany's first Hell's Angels charter in the city in 1983, the Hell's Angels as an organization have never been banned across Germany.
Now the prohibition of the iconic logo has come about through an ironic twist.
When a former member of the banned Hamburg charter appealed to the court in April to be allowed to wear the club's ''colors,'' the judge interpreted the original ruling to mean that the Hell's Angels logo is illegal not only in Hamburg, but throughout the country.
''Now, all the other regions in Germany are thinking about that judgment,'' said detective superintendent Matthias Frohn, deputy head of the Berlin police division responsible for curtailing the city's motorcycle gangs. ''Some, like Berlin, said, 'If that deadhead is forbidden, then I guess it's forbidden.'''
Since the ban of its first charter, the Hell's Angels have taken advantage of an organizational structure that mimics global chains such as McDonalds and Starbucks to gain a big following in Germany. Just check out their website.
The California-based motorcycle club immortalized by gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson has charters across Germany and boasts as many as 1,000 members, according to Germany's Federal Criminal Police Office.
The police allege that the loose-knit organization is involved in human trafficking for prostitution as well as dealing in drugs and guns.
Although specific charters have been banned in a handful of cities besides Hamburg, prosecutors have been unable to push through a blanket ban on the parent organization.
As soon as local authorities bring the hammer down on one outfit, another one crops up.
''You have individuals who work their way through different outlaw motorcycle gangs,'' said Frohn, whose bearish build and thick beard make him look a little like a biker himself.
''Nowadays, they even sometimes switch between the Bandidos and Hell's Angels,'' he added, naming another biker club.
As with other groups allegedly involved in organized criminal activities, bikers, or ''rockers,'' battle for control of legal and illegal businesses mostly among themselves. The US-headquartered Hell's Angels, Bandidos, Outlaws and the homegrown Gremium motorcycle club all compete.
Over the past five years, however, a ''rocker war'' between the Bandidos and Hell's Angels '-- reportedly fought not only with chains and knives but also guns and hand grenades '-- has spilled into Berlin's streets.
In the latest case, the Berlin state prosecutor this month indicted 10 Hell's Angels members for the alleged murder of a 26-year-old rival in a sports betting parlor.
Video footage from a surveillance camera shows the perpetrators striding purposefully into the establishment and gunning down the victim as ''civilians'' nearby plugged euro coins into slot machines.
''It's become pretty dangerous for the regular person,'' Frohn said.
''We don't like the term 'rocker war,''' he added, ''but when the Bandidos and Hell's Angels started stabbing and shooting each other in 2009, that is something that does affect the general public.''
If convicted, the alleged killers could face life in prison. The Hell's Angels Berlin-City charter has already been banned under laws that allow German states to prohibit groups that are expressly organized for criminal purposes.
Frohn says it remains to be seen whether the broader ban on the club's logo will be enough to finally scatter the gang.
Financial newsletter writer Jim Willie says no matter who shot down the Malaysian commercial jet over Ukraine recently, there is going to be massive fallout. Willie contends, ''Here's the big, big consequence. The U.S. is basically telling Europe you have two choices here. Join us with the war against Russia. Join us with the sanctions against Russia. Join us in constant war and conflicts, isolation and destruction to your economy and denial of your energy supply and removal of contracts. Join us with this war and sanctions because we'd really like you to keep the dollar regime going. They are going to say were tired of the dollar. . . . We are pushing Germany. Don't worry about France, don't worry about England, worry about Germany. Germany has 3,000 companies doing active business right now. They are not going to join the sanctions'--period.''
Willie goes on to say, ''It's a war game and Europe is sick of U.S. war games. The defense of the dollar has come to war versus trade. Are you with us or are you against us?'' As far as the NSA spying on Germany, Willie says, ''I think they are looking for details on assisting Russia on dumping the dollar. I think they are looking for details for a secret movement for Germany to get away from the dollar and join the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.) This is exactly what I think they are going to do.''
Willie thinks as countries move away from the U.S. dollar, the money printing (quantitative easing, QE) increases, and the economy gets worse. Willie calls this a ''feedback loop'' that he contends, ''You get the feedback loop from the damage of lost income that comes from the higher costs that comes from QE. It's not stimulus, people. It's a back door Wall Street bailout that degrades, deteriorates and damages the economy in a feedback vicious system. . . . You are seeing the free-fall and acceleration of the damage; and, so now, you get even more cost damage. QE didn't happen by accident. Foreigners didn't want to buy the Treasuries anymore. They don't want to buy a bond where the same central bank is printing money to buy the bond! QE raises the cost structure and brings about shrinkage and disappearance of profits. QE is not stimulus. It's capital destruction. ''
On the so-called ''recovery'' the mainstream media has been harping on for years, Willie says, ''I believe the U.S. has gone into a recession that it is not going to get out of until the dollar is gone. When you factor inflation in properly . . . we got a monster recession of -6% or -7% right now. I don't think it will get better until the dollar is disposed of. So, we're entering the final phase of the dollar.''
In closing, Willie says, ''You want to get rid of political obstacles? Go straight to commerce and trade. Why is it that Exxon Mobil is still doing projects in the Artic and still doing projects in the Black Sea, which is Crimea, with the Russians and their energy companies? We already got the U.S. energy companies defying our own sanctions, and yet we are prosecuting French banks for doing the same thing. This is insane. We are losing control.
Join Greg Hunter as he goes One-on-One with Jim Willie, Editor of ''The Hat Trick Letter'' which can be found on GoldenJackass.com.
(There is much, much more in the video interview.)
After the Interview:
Jim Willie also said, ''All the stories are converging as we now approach the climax.'' If you would like to get a subscription of ''The Hat Trick Letter,'' click here. There are many free Jim Willie articles and interviews on the Home page of the GoldenJackass.com website.
This morning the Norwegian department of justice, the Norwegian police and the Norwegian police security service (Norwegian abbreviation: PST) announced that they have recieved information of an unspescified but plausible>> attack against Norway in the coming days.
The attack could happen in three, five or seven days - or not at all. They hope reaching out to the public with this information will deter the terrorists from moving forward with their plan.
Islamist threatAccording to the information the Norwegian government has acquired, the threat is connected to islamist groups in Syria. They do not know which group in particular the threat comes from or whether or not the threat comes from Norwegian citizens or people who have previously lived in Norway who have fought on the ground in Syria.
Several Norwegians and people with a relation to Norway have gone to Syria to fight in the Syrian civil war.
The government says that according to their information the threat is directed at Norway in general, not Norwegian interests, institutions or businesses abroad.
No flight restrictionsThe authorities have very little information regarding this threat. They do not know who has made the threat, their motive or if a particular group, place or person has been targeted.
- We do not usually reach out to the public like this, but in the current situation we have reason to believe that the threat is real. Our intelligence and investigations point to the threat being plausible. We do not have any further information at this point, says Benedicte Bj¸rnland of the Norwegian police security service.
At the moment, there is no indication that the threat is directed at flights or other transports. No flight or movement restrictions will be enforced unless new information points to this becoming necessary.
Armed police will be stationed at airports, ports, train stations and other transport hubs.
The police security service have released a press release in English about the threat, found here.
In PST's threat assessment for 2014, which we made public in the beginning of March, we state the following among other things:The terror threat against Norway is considered to be aggravated. Extreme Islamism is still the most serious terror threat against Norway. Also, we state that it has for a long time been a strategy to recruit extreme Islamists in war and conflict zones to carry out terrorist actions in Europe, and that Syria at the time being is considered to be the one of the leading arenas for this recruitment.
During the past two or three years, PST has through our threat assessments, communicated that the terror threat from extreme Islamists against Norway and Norwegian interests is increasing.
The situation we are now facing is serious, but is still an expected development, in view of the trends and developments we have seen in the course of the last two or three years.
PST handles a great amount of threats each year. The majority of these threats are threats that it would be neither correct nor possible for us to comment openly on. In the current situation however I believe that to inform the public is the right thing to do. Both the 22 of July Commission and the Traavik Committee have emphasized the importance of PST being as open as possible about threats to our society.
PST recently received information that individuals affiliated with an extreme Islamist group in Syria may have the intention of carrying out a terrorist action in Norway. PST receives this sort of information from partner services from time to time, but it often turns out not to be correct after we have carried out our investigations to be able to confirm or deny the information.
In our preliminary investigations in this case, the credibility of the information was however strengthened. We also have information indicating that a terrorist action against Norway is planned to be carried out shortly '' probably in a few days.
We have no information about who is behind such an attack, how it will be carried our, the target or in what way such an attack will be carried out.
PST is currently working on verifying the information we have received, in close cooperation with the Norwegian Intelligence Service. The Joint Counter Terrorism Centre is in this relation important in order to ensure a rapid and good flow of information between the services. PST also has a close dialogue with the Ministry of Justice and Public Security and the Police Directorate in this matter, and the National Police Commissioner will inform in more detail about the measures to be undertaken by the police.
PST will to the greatest possible extent inform the public about further developments in this matter.
In the last few years, several countries have chosen to inform the public about threats that the individual country considers it may be facing. This will always be a difficult choice to make, which it also is for us in this case. However, when we choose to make this information public after all, it is because we believe it can have a preventive and a deterrent effect.
As the information is not specific and not very concrete but at the same time credible, it is difficult to give advice to the citizens of this country on how to act in this situation. I still believe that to inform about the situation is the right thing to do and at the same time assure that PST, in collaboration with the Norwegian Intelligence Service, the Ministry of Justice and Public Security and our other national and international partners, will do our outmost to determine whether the threat is real or not '' in order to prevent it.
Tips oss dersom du ser eller vet om noe du tror kan v...re viktig for oss ¥ vite om.
In a sign of America's changing face, giant mortgage investor Freddie Mac this month started purchasing the home loans of Muslims who follow the Koran's prohibition against paying or collecting interest.
"This is a growth area for us," says Freddie Mac vice president Saber Salam. An estimated 7 million Muslims live in the USA, and their number is growing.
For years, a small number of Islamic financial institutions have structured mortgages to permit observant Muslims to sidestep the interest payments that accompany conventional home financing. But the few institutions making such loans have been hobbled by their limited access to capital.
Freddie Mac's decision to buy so-called Islamic mortgages changes that. A private corporation chartered by the government, Freddie Mac provides financing for about one in six home sales by channeling capital from securities investors to mortgage lenders.
"It really opens us up to all Muslim communities in the U.S.," says Yahia Abdul-Rahman, adviser to American Finance House '-- LARIBA of Pasadena, Calif., the first Islamic institution to sell its mortgages to Freddie Mac. Abdul-Rahman says Freddie Mac's capital has allowed American Finance, which is offering the mortgages in 15 states, to increase its home loans to about 10 a week, up from about two a month
At the same time, Abdul-Rahman says, required down payments have been halved to 20% and maximum repayment periods tripled to 30 years.
Islamic lenders such as American Finance sidestep interest by entering a partnership with customers to buy a home. The customer acquires the home through a lease-to-own arrangement. Their monthly payment includes two components: repayment of the lender's contribution to the purchase price and fair-market rent.
But the deal also gets translated into the conventional lending documents to conform with U.S. real estate laws aimed at protecting consumers. At that point, the numbers in the Islamic deal are translated into a conventional house deal, interest rate and all.
Because the deal then has what Islamic lenders call "an implied interest rate," observant borrowers have a sum that Abdul-Rahman says may be deducted as mortgage interest for income tax purposes. An IRS spokesman says the agency has never ruled on the legitimacy of such deductions.
Will American Muslims embrace the new option? "If it's available and if it seems to be efficient and transparent, people will probably take it," says Thomas Mullins, director of the Islamic finance program at Harvard.
Freddie Mac's Salam says Islamic mortgages could produce as many as 50,000 home loans totaling $5 billion over 5 years. Freddie Mac plans eventually to pool the loans and sell them to investors as mortgage-backed securities, which company officials expect to have special appeal to institutional investors in Islamic nations.
BAGHDAD (Reuters) '' Islamic State militants seized four small oilfields when they swept through north Iraq last month and are now selling crude oil and gasoline from them to finance their newly declared ''caliphate''.
Near the northern city of Mosul, the Islamic State has taken over the Najma and Qayara fields, while further south near Tikrit it overran the Himreen and Ajil fields during its two-day sweep through northern Iraq in mid-June.
The oilfields in Islamic State hands are modest compared to Iraq's giant fields near Kirkuk and Basra, which are under Kurdish and central government control. Most of the Islamic State-held oil wells '' estimated by a Kurdish official to number around 80 '' are sealed and not pumping.
But the monopoly over fuel in the territory it has captured gives the Islamic State leverage over other armed Sunni factions who could threaten its dominance in northern Iraq.
Iraqi officials say that in recent weeks the group has transported oil from Qayara to be processed by mobile refineries in Syria into low quality gasoil and gasoline, then brought back for sale in Mosul, a city of 2 million people.
Larger shipments of crude, some of them from Najma, are also sold via smugglers to Turkish traders at vastly discounted prices of around $25 (£14.64) per barrel, they said.
''We have confirmed reports showing that the Islamic State is shipping crude from Najma oilfield in Mosul into Syria to smuggle it to one of Syria's neighbours,'' said Husham al-Brefkani, head of Mosul provincial council's energy committee.
''The Islamic State is making multi-million dollar profits from this illegal trade.''
Petrol stations in Mosul are now selling fuel supplied by traders working with the Islamic State, which charges either $1.0 or $1.5 a litre depending on quality '' a huge increase on previous prices, one petrol station owner in the city said.
''The fuel is brought from Syria '... It's triple the price before, but drivers have to buy it because subsidised government fuel was halted,'' he said.
Brefkani said the Islamic State was the sole sponsor of the imports from Syria, where the group also controls oilfields in the Syrian province of Deir al-Zor. ''They use part of it for their vehicles and sell the rest to their traders in Mosul.''
Najma and Qayara had been operated by Angola's state-owned firm Sonangol, but it pulled out last year declaring force majeure amid rising development costs and security concerns over Sunni militants in the area, even before last month's assault.
Qayara, which has estimated reserves of 800 million barrels, had been producing 7,000 barrels per day of heavy crude before the Islamic State took over the field and a nearby 16,000 bpd refinery. Qayara refinery and second smaller plant at Kasak, northwest of Mosul, stopped operating when staff fled.
But Qayara oilfield itself has kept pumping after the militants asked Iraqi employees to stay at their posts, promising to protect them '' as they have done at most oil facilities in order to maintain production.
Iraqi official gave the example of the battle to seize Baiji refinery in the north, Iraq's largest, where the Islamic States and other insurgents have been trying since mid-June to control the site without damaging its facilities.
''(The Islamic State) were keen to keep energy installations inside Qayara intact. We did not realise why they did not destroy facilities, but a week later they started to fill the trucks with Qayara crude. They were planning from the beginning to profiteer the field,'' said an engineer who works at Qayara, speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals.
Iraqi government sources said it was hard to assess how much money the group makes from selling crude or the fuel refined in Syria as the number of trucks fluctuates daily.
One source said that a separate '' and now terminated '' smuggling operation into the Kurdish enclave and into Iran generated nearly $1 million a day earlier this month.
One dealer and shipping company owner in Mosul said he buys 250-barrel truckloads of crude from the militants for $6,000.
''The next step depends on our cunning in dealing with the Turkish traders,'' he said.
FROMTAXES TO NYMEX?
As another revenue earner, the Islamic militant group levies taxes on all vehicles and trucks bringing goods into Mosul.
A large truck must pay $400, while small trucks are charged $100 and cars $50 if they are also carrying goods.
Ahmed Younis, a Baghdad expert on armed groups, said the Islamists were in effect establishing an economic state based on the increasing resources and infrastructure under their command.
Considering its spread across the Syria-Iraq border, its grip over oilfields there and its growing economic activity, the Islamic State will ''transform into an economic giant with assets of billions of dollars,'' he said.
''In future, will they buy shares in NYMEX? Everything is possible,'' Younis said.
Further south Islamic State fighters control another two oilfields east of Tikrit, home town of Saddam Hussein.
One of them, Ajil, produced 25,000 bpd of crude that were shipped to the Kirkuk refinery and 150 million cubic feet of gas per day piped to the government-controlled Kirkuk power station.
The gas is still pumped '' albeit at lower volume of about 100 million cubic feet daily '' because, according to energy experts, Kirkuk power station supplies many towns in the region and the militants want to avoid energy shortages.
The militants are moving only small amounts of oil from Ajil because of fears that their primitive extraction techniques could ignite the gas, according to an engineer at the site.
The other small oilfield captured by the Islamic State is Himreen, with a capacity of 5,000-6,000 barrels per day from five operating oil wells.
''The militants brought technicians from outside Tikrit to deal with crude from Himreen and they started to dig up craters and siphon crude out of the wells using small water irrigation pumps,'' said an oil ministry employee working at the field.
An Iraqi security official said trucks used to smuggle crude from Ajil and Himreen into Iraqi Kurdistan and Iran. Kurdish peshmerga forces used to turn a blind eye.
But Iraqi national security forces as well as the peshmerga began to halt the trade on July 12, he said. The army used helicopters to bomb trucks heading east from Tikrit, while Kurdish security forces seized trucks with smuggled crude crossing into territories under their control.
''We have managed to destroy more than 50 trucks as of July 12,'' Iraqi counter-terrorism spokesman Sabah Nouri said. ''Our helicopter strikes hit the smuggling process hard and cut a vital source of finance to the terrorists.''
An oil ministry adviser estimated that in the first two weeks of July, before the operation was halted, the Islamic State made around $10 million '' nearly $1 million a day.
The mayor of Tuz Khuramto, a town on the route between Tikrit, the Kurdish enclave and Iran, said the smuggling route had been shut down 10 days ago.
''Before that, between 30 to 60 trucks moved into the Kurdish region, but now we can say number is zero,'' Shallal Abdul said.
(Additional reporting by Isabel Coles in Arbil and a reporter in Tikrit whose name is withheld for security reasons; Editing by Dominic Evans and Giles Elgood)
euronews provides breaking news articles from Reuters as a service to its readers, but does not edit the articles it publishes.
Militant Islamist fighters parade on military vehicles along the streets of northern Raqqa province June 30, 2014. REUTERS Photo
Known for kidnapping, public stonings, lashings and executions, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), who had recently renamed itself as the Islamic State (IS), is now expanding into tourism, taking jihadists on honeymoon and civilians to visit other parts of its "caliphate". Running twice-weekly tours from Syria's Raqa to Iraq's Anbar, IS' buses fly the group's black flag and play jihadist songs throughout the journey. One of the first clients was Chechen jihadist Abu Abdel Rahman al-Shishani, aged 26, who took his new Syrian wife on honeymoon, according to activist Hadi Salameh. "Just after they got married, he took her to Anbar. These jihadists are very romantic," Salameh joked. But the two weren't able to sit together, because "women sit in the back, and men at the front. The bus driver plays jihadist songs all through the ride, and the IS black flag flies over the bus." IS proclaimed a "caliphate" last month straddling Iraq and Syria. According to a rebel from eastern Syria, the tours started operating immediately afterwards. It firmly controls large swathes of northern and eastern Syria, the Iraq-Syria border, and parts of northern and western Iraq. The group is responsible for a number of atrocities, including mass kidnappings and killings, stonings and crucifixions. Salameh said the group's tour buses "start their journey in Tal Abyad (on Syria's Turkish border) and end in Iraq's Anbar. You can get off wherever you want, and you don't need a passport to cross the border."
The activist, who lives in Raqa and uses a pseudonym to avoid retribution from IS, told AFP via the Internet the company is for profit. "Of course it's not free. The price varies, depending on how far you go on the bus," Salameh said. Syrian rebel Abu Quteiba al-Okaidi, who is from the border province of Deir Ezzor, said most of those who use the buses are foreign jihadists. "Most of them are foreigners. They communicate in English, and wear the Afghan-style clothing preferred by jihadists," Okaidi told AFP by telephone. "There is a translator on the bus, who explains to them where they are going. The men on the bus are not armed, but vehicles carrying armed escorts accompany the bus," he added. IS has its roots in Iraq, but spread into Syria in late spring last year. It gradually took over Raqa city in northern Syria, and transformed it into its bastion. In June, IS spearheaded a lightning offensive in Iraq that saw large swathes of the north and west of the country fall from Iraqi government hands. Abu Ibrahim al-Raqawi, another activist living in Raqa city, said "tour buses run twice a week, on Wednesday and Sunday. It works like any bus company would, except that it treats areas under IS control in Iraq and Syria as one state."
He also said the bus company is "popular" among those with relatives in Iraq. "Many people living in this area (northern Syria through western Iraq) have tribal ties stretching across the border. So they use these buses to visit their families," said Abu Ibrahim. Speaking to AFP via the Internet, Abu Ibrahim also said others take the bus "to do business, while some just want to take a break from the shelling in Syria". Syria's war began as a peaceful movement for democratic change, but was transformed into a war after Damascus unleashed a brutal crackdown on dissent. Many months into the fighting, jihadists began streaming into Syria.
Peter Clarke: "Birmingham City Council at least knew or suspected these sort of things were happening"
There is "disturbing" evidence that people with a "shared ideology" were trying to gain control of governing bodies in Birmingham, says Education Secretary Nicky Morgan.
She was responding to the Trojan horse report from former counter-terror chief Peter Clarke into allegations of a hardline Muslim take-over of schools.
Mr Clarke found evidence of an "aggressive Islamist agenda".
Ms Morgan highlighted "intolerant" messages between school staff.
Teachers could face misconduct inquiries, she told the House of Commons, after Mr Clarke's report found a social media group called the "Park View Brotherhood" used by male senior staff at Park View School.
'Anti-western'Mr Clarke's report said this included "grossly intolerant" messages.
He said the social media messages included "explicit homophobia; highly offensive comments about British service personnel; a stated ambition to increase segregation in the school; disparagement of strands of Islam; scepticism about the truth of reports of the murder of Lee Rigby and the Boston bombings; and a constant undercurrent of anti-western, anti-American and anti-Israeli sentiment".
Education Secretary Nicky Morgan says the report's findings are disturbing
Ms Morgan also announced that there would be an education commissioner for Birmingham, who would report to the education secretary and to Birmingham City Council's chief executive.
There will be a wider review of the "governance culture of the council", which would report by the end of the year.
The education secretary warned that the council's inability to intervene reflected a "culture of not wanting to address difficult problems where there is a risk of accusations of racism or Islamophobia".
Rather than supporting head teachers under pressure, she said the council could be responsible for helping them to be "eased out".
Sir Albert Bore, leader of the city council, welcomed the creation of an education commissioner and said the authority was "making progress".
"In addition, we are already working on a number of key areas such as strengthening governor appointments and training and our whistle-blowing process and reporting, as well as continuing our work in reviewing our relationship with all schools," said Sir Albert.
Labour's Tristram Hunt said that the "chickens had come home to roost" - blaming the problems on the lack of oversight in the academy system.
Mr Hunt told MPs that the "free market policy" in running schools had "fomented the crisis in Birmingham".
Mr Clarke had delivered the findings of a report commissioned by the Department for Education.
Much of the report had already been leaked - and representatives of schools facing allegations claimed they had faced a "co-ordinated and vicious" attack from the government.
'Governing bodies'The inquiry found no evidence of extremism, said Mr Clarke, but "there are a number of people in a position of influence who either espouse, or sympathise with or fail to challenge extremist views".
Albert Bore, Birmingham City Council: "Mistakes have been made"
"I have established that there is a group of associated individuals in positions of influence in schools and governing bodies who have, over quite a considerable time, looked to introduce what could be described as an aggressive Islamist agenda into some schools, very few schools, in Birmingham," Mr Clarke told the BBC.
Continue reading the main storyIt quickly became apparent to me that although there are some factual inaccuracies in the letter, there is also a great deal that is true, some of which had not previously been in the public domain''
End QuotePeter Clarke on the authenticity of the Trojan horse letter"The report gives a description of a number of practices that really have no place in state, non-faith schools. There's clearly been a wish to introduce what has been described as a conservative religious agenda into those schools.
"There is a group of people of like mind, who are well known to each other, who have been working together for a number of years - and they have deliberately sought to bring those practices into the schools."
The report raises concerns about the lack of intervention by the local council, which he says was too sensitive to "community cohesion".
"It's quite clear that Birmingham City Council either knew or suspected that these things were happening for a considerable period of time, but didn't do enough to stop it," said Mr Clarke.
He also warned that there needed to be a review of the accountability of academies. These are autonomous state schools - and are now the most typical secondary school - but he highlighted concerns about a lack of oversight.
Concerns about schools highlighted in the report included Friday prayers broadcast through schools but stopped during Ofsted visits, banning Christmas celebrations and complaints that female staff were not treated equally.
Anonymous letterThis is the latest in a series of reports triggered by an anonymous and unverified letter which claimed that there was a "Trojan horse" conspiracy to take over governing bodies and create a school culture more sympathetic to their hardline Muslim religious ethos.
Mr Clarke's investigation says the significant question was not whether this was a "genuine" letter, but whether "the events and behaviours described have actually happened".
"It quickly became apparent to me that although there are some factual inaccuracies in the letter, there is also a great deal that is true, some of which had not previously been in the public domain," says Mr Clarke's report.
His inquiry found evidence that concerns had already been raised, including an internal council email about claims that head teachers had been "hounded out... as a result of organised community action focused on a group of Muslim governors".
Mr Clarke's report highlighted a "disconcerting pattern" in the schools, including nepotism in staff appointments, bullying of senior teachers, a "strategy of harassment to oust the head teacher" and the "reinforcement of Muslim identity to the exclusion or disparagement of others".
Ofsted chief Sir Michael Wilshaw, delivering his own findings last month, said there had been a "culture of fear and intimidation" in which head teachers had been undermined by governing bodies.
He told MPs that head teachers had described how they had been bullied by governors wanting to intervene in the day to day running of the school.
Inspectors had carried out a wave of inspections in Birmingham, with five schools being put into special measures.
Birmingham City Council's inquiry had found "no evidence of a conspiracy to promote an anti-British agenda, violent extremism or radicalisation in schools".
But the council's report said that the patterns outlined to destabilise schools in the "Trojan horse" letter were "present in a large number of the schools considered part of the investigation".
In June, Spanish monarch Juan Carlos abdicated the throne in favour of his son Felipe.
More drastic systemic rearrangements have since been proposed, however, by the guardians of another world order. A short video, the subject of recent hype in the Spanish media, features two men who claim to be jihadists in Syria and who explain - in Spanish - that "Spain is the land of our grandfathers" and will thus be reclaimed for Islam as part of the effort to recuperate rightful territory "from Jakarta to Andalusia". (Their particular jihadist outfit is not specified.)
The tone of the declaration is slightly less than spine-chilling. The holy warriors appear carefree, and one laughingly encourages the other to speak: "Come on, man."
Of course, some view prospects of land recuperation as more apocalyptic in nature. On her website Atlas Shrugs, professional Islamophobe Pamela Geller took credit for predicting the impending Muslim takeover; in a post under the category Spain's Islamic Kingdom, she wrote: "Syria, Iraq, Egypt, Libya'... Jordan and now Rome and Spain. Regular Atlas readers have been expecting this for some time".
If only Oriana Fallaci, the late Italian journalist and patron saint of Islamophobia, were around to witness the second coming of the caliphate - the logical result of her warning that Muslim immigrants to Europe were endeavouring to replace miniskirts with chadors and cognac with camel's milk.
When debating whether she despised Mexicans or Muslims more, Fallaci eventually opted for the latter "because they have broken [her] balls", and threatened to blow up a mosque slated for construction in Tuscany.
So much for fighting terrorism in Europe.
Blame it on the jihadists
As it turns out, the Muslim reconquest of Spain couldn't have occurred at a more auspicious time.
We all know that the terrorist threat comes in handy when governments need to curtail civil liberties. And austerity-stricken Spain is nothing if not a place of far too many such liberties, as evidenced by massive protests against health care and education cuts, wanton home evictions, and other means of diverting economic disaster onto the poorer echelons of society.
A new Citizens' Security Law just approved by the Spanish cabinet will do much to ensure that freedom doesn't get out of control. The law prescribes fines of up to 600,000 euros ($809,307) for unauthorised gatherings and protests in certain locations and of up to 30,000 euros ($40,465) for "obstructing authority in the carrying out of administrative or judicial decisions, such as evictions".
The encroaching caliphate will presumably facilitate the clampdown on rights, especially given that an anti-terror plan is already in the pipeline over at Spain's interior ministry. According to the news agency EFE, the aim of the plan - which will be unleashed in a few months - is "prevention of violent radicalisation". Conveniently, Spanish interior minister Jorge Fernandez Diaz, curator of the Citizens' Security Law, previously accused "radical and violent elements" of infiltrating protests by unions and social organisations.
So it doesn't require a huge leap of the imagination to assume that ostensibly anti-jihad actions by the Spanish police and Civil Guard will affect non-jihadists as well. The liberal application of terror charges has meanwhile led to the detention of a spate of Twitter and other social media users for allegedly "glorifying terrorism" via such activities as indicating support for Basque independence.
As for Catalonian secessionist aspirations, Fernandez Diaz has sworn that an independent Catalonia would be more susceptible to terror attacks. This sort of scientific reasoning, it seems, could be exploited by the Spanish state to justify all sorts of measures (eg, if we don't evict you from your home, the terrorists will attack).
And the interior minister's claims to fame don't stop there. Earlier this year, he also awarded a top policing medal to a statue of the Virgin Mary - his own little holy war, perhaps, on those who believe in a separation of church and state.
The terrorist distraction
According to the jihad video from Syria, incoming terrorists will not stop at Catalonia.
Obviously, this is not to make light of the terrorist threat, which is quite real - thanks in no small part to the history of western imperial machinations in the Middle East, which have contributed to the proliferation of the jihadist mindset. The Madrid terror attacks of March 11, 2004, for example, were apparently in retaliation for Spain's participation in the ongoing terroristic assault on Iraq.
And indeed, news currently emanating from other sections of the caliphate confirms that it's no laughing matter.
Spain's ABC newspaper reported in June that the "jihadist factory" operating in the country consists of at least a dozen centres for recruitment and training of fighters who are then dispatched to locations like Syria and Iraq. Another ABCarticle specifies that Spain produces an estimated 40 fighters per month, including persons with Spanish nationality, and that the "process of radicalisation'... especially affects Muslim males under the age of 30". The fear is that, if the jihadists survive their business abroad, they'll bring the battle home.
Fernandez Diaz has described jihadist terrorism as "the most serious threat to society in the 21st century". But the obsession with the terrorist threat helpfully distracts from other serious societal problems, such as Spain's youth unemployment rate, which rose to 57 percent last year.
It also fuels racism, Islamophobia, and anti-immigrant sentiment - afflictions that are already well-represented in Spanish society and that only further alienate and disillusion persecuted demographics.
To be sure, the jihad phenomenon is complex and shouldn't be over-simplified. But it seems that rectifying some of society's other problems might help ensure folks have better things to do than set up caliphates.
Belen Fernandez is the author of The Imperial Messenger: Thomas Friedman at Work, published by Verso. She is a contributing editor at Jacobin Magazine.
The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera's editorial policy.
Published time: July 22, 2014 12:04Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro (R) shakes hands with China's President Xi Jinping during a signing-of-agreements ceremony, in Caracas on July 21, 2014. (AFP Photo / Leo Ramirez)
Chinese President Xi Jinping has signed a row of oil and mineral deals with Venezuela. The Chinese leader is on a four-country tour of Latin America aimed to increasing influence in the region.
The 38 economic agreements are related to the production and development of Venezuelan oil and agriculture, as well as social and cultural expansion, says the BBC. The deals provides a credit line of $4 billion in return for Venezuelan oil and oil products, as well as allocating $691 million to explore Venezuela's gold and copper reserves, and an agreement to develop the countries' third jointly-owned satellite.
China is the second-largest market for Venezuelan oil after the United States.
The underlying purpose of the visit has been to secure more natural resources from Latin America to fuel China's long term economic expansion, BBC cites analysts. The Venezuela negotiations were preceded by visits to Brazil and Argentina.
At the BRICS summit in Brazil the Chinese leader, along with the other emerging powers Brazil, Russia, India and South Africa, launched a $100 billion BRICS Development Bank and a reserve currency pool worth over another $100 billion. Both will counter the influence of Western-based lending institutions and the dollar.
Read more: BRICS establish $100bn bank and currency pool to cut out Western dominance
The next stop was Argentina where President Xi Jinping agreed an $11 billion currency swap and extended much-needed investment to President Cristina Kirchner. Argentina's economy has been locked out of the international capital markets since defaulting on its debt in 2001, and is staring down the possibility of another default.
After Venezuela the Chinese leader arrived in Cuba on Tuesday where he is meeting President Raul Castro on the last stop of his four-country visit to Latin America.
Xi Jinping hopes to expand political and economic ties in the other communist nation. The island has had close political ties with China for decades, and was granted generous trade credits in the past.
Chinese trade with Latin America has grown rapidly reaching $261.6 billion in 2013. It is now the second-largest trading partner in Argentina and Cuba, and has been Brazil's largest since 2009. To compare, in 1990 China was ranked 17th on the list of Latin American export destinations.
WTCThe United States and Japan are in the early stages of integrating theirspace programs to prevent China from stalking their satellites, accordingto a Bloomberg Businessweek article.
The Chinese were probably testing a mobile rocket booster for anantisatellite weapon last May under the name of science space mission,said Brian Weeden, a retired US Air Force officer. As Weeden described,the weapon could reach targets in geostationary orbit about 22,236 milesabove the equator.
The range is the stomping grounds of expensive US spacecraft that monitorbattlefield movements, detect heat from the early stages of missile launches,and help orchestrate drone fleets, making any activity there worrisome toWashington. China has launched at least six antisatellite missile testssince the destruction of a defunct Chinese weather satellite in 2007.American and Japanese analysts say China has the most aggressivesatellite attack program in the world.
In addition, Lance Gatling, president of Nexial Research, an aerospaceconsultant in Tokyo, said that China has studied ground-based lasers thatcould take down a satellite's solar panels and satellites equipped withgrappling arms that could co-orbit and then disable expensive US hardware.Bremner added that the United States is most vulnerable to a Chinese laserattack since 43% of all satellites in orbit belong to the Pentagon orAmerican companies,
China is also dispatching a fleet of smaller, mobile satellites such as theGF-1 that would be harder for adversaries to find and destroy. Their primarymission is to locate and follow US satellites in orbit before the People'sLiberation Army launches the attack against them. Lockheed Martin won a US$914million contract from the United States Air Force on June to build a ground-based radar system that will track objects as small as a baseball, whichcould help identify a satellite attack as it is happening.
Nearly a year has passed since a natural gas pipeline formally went into operation last July linking Myanmar's deep-water port of Kyaukphyu with Kunming, the capital city of southwestern China's Yunnan Province. A parallel oil pipeline is expected to finish this year. As well as opening up a new energy corridor for China, the pipeline has benefited Myanmar immensely.
The natural gas pipeline starts from Kyaukphyu, and runs through Mandalay, Lashio, and Muse in Myanmar before entering China at the border city of Ruili in Yunnan Province.
China-Myanmar oil and gas pipelines connect Myanmar's deep-water port of Kyaukphyu with Kunming, the capital city of southwestern China's Yunnan Province. [file photo]Construction started in October 2009 and in the following years the US$1.04 billion natural gas pipeline has created thousands of jobs for the Burmese people.
The Southeast Asia Pipeline Company, which is a subsidiary of CNPC, China's largest oil and gas producer, operates the pipeline, and now employs over 1,000 workers, including 500 Burmese. Forty seven Burmese employees currently hold managerial posts in the company. The company expects that in the future, 75 percent of managerial posts will be held by Burmese employees.
"I have been working here for over four years, and we are like a family. The whole village admires the fact that I have a job in a Chinese company. I feel proud too," Burmese employee Ang Nai said.
The life of Wu Juemin, a local resident in Kyaukphyu who runs an electrical appliances shop, has completely changed. Business was hard two years ago due to grave power shortages, and he could barely make ends meet. Since a natural gas power station was brought into use last July, the days of only having three or four hours of unstable power a day have gone. "Sales have doubled compared with two years ago. My shop can barely keep up with demand for refrigerators, air-conditioners and DVD players. It is the natural gas pipeline that has changed our lives," Wu said.
CNPC has been investing heavily in an attempt to gain a social approval in Myanmar. By the end of 2013, CNPC had helped to build 67 schools, two kindergartens, three hospitals, 23 healthcare stations, one nursing home and three orphanages along the nearly 800km-pipeline, benefiting more than 800,000 local residents.
Thanks to the gas pipeline, the newly built power plant in Mandalay has been providing stable power to 6 million people in central Myanmar, accounting for 10 percent of the entire population.
According to an agreement between China and Myanmar, the gas pipeline will deliver 20 percent of the expected annual capacity of 12bn cubic meters to Myanmar per year.
In addition, Myanmar will get 2 million tons of crude oil annually after the oil pipeline enters operation. Overall, the two pipelines will also be a great opportunity to boost Myanmar's petrochemical industry, as its economic growth rate is forecast at 7-8 percent in the following 20 years.
Burma Gas Exports Worth $3.3Bln Last Year After Slight Drop
A platform in Burma's Yetagun Offshore Field in the Andaman Sea that produces natural gas exported to Thailand. (Photo: Reuters)
RANGOON '-- Burma's earnings from natural gas exports fell in the last fiscal year as more of the resource was consumed domestically but shipments of greater volumes to China as a new pipeline comes up to speed are expected to boost earnings this year.
Burma earned $3.299 billion from the export of gas during the 2013-14 (April/March) fiscal year, down from $3.666 billion in 2012-13 and compared to $3.502 billion in 2011-2012 and $580 million in 2003-2004, according to data released on Wednesday by the state-run Central Statistical Organization (CSO).
Gas exports are a crucial revenue source for the Southeast Asian nation, accounting for nearly 30 percent of its total exports of $11.204 billion in the last fiscal year.
Win Maw, a senior energy ministry official, said the drop in exports in the last fiscal year was due to the allocation of more gas for domestic consumption after redrawing the agreement with Thailand's PTT, previously the sole buyer of gas from offshore blocks in the Mottama Sea in southern Burma.
He said a small amount of the gas was exported during 2013-2014 to energy-hungry neighbor China but more will be exported this year as a new cross-country pipeline is filled to capacity.
''We started selling gas from Rakhine Offshore Blocks to China through the 793 km-long cross-country pipeline around the end of last year, but the amount was rather small since it was not technically feasible to send much through a new pipeline,'' Win Maw told Reuters.
''Technically, we need to fill up a new pipeline with gas gradually and it takes about a year to fill to capacity. Around the end this year, we'll be able to transport to China through the pipeline to full capacity,'' he said.
Domestic power consumption in Burma has been rising steeply as the country has undertaken economic reforms since a quasi-military government took office in 2011 after nearly five decades of military rule.
According to CSO data, total generation of electric power during the last fiscal year was 13.048 billion kwh, up from 10.964 billion kwh in the 2012-13 fiscal year and 8.625 billion kwh in 2011-2012.
Generation by gas was 2.794 billion kwh during the last fiscal, up from 2.377 billion kwh in 2012-13 and 1.763 billion kwh in 2011-2012.
''As the official data shows, domestic demand for electricity is growing speedily, but we have prepared to increase generation to meet the demand without affecting gas exports,'' a senior official from the Ministry of Electric Power told Reuters.
A planned rail project to give China access to the Indian Ocean through Myanmar has been cancelled due to strong public objections and delays, a senior official said on Tuesday.
The two countries had failed to implement the contract for a 1,215-kilometre railway between western Myanmar's Rakhine state and the Chinese city of Kunming, within three years of memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed in April 2011.
''No progress within three years after signing the MoU between us, so the project was to be cancelled,'' the official said.
''Also, China made no request to sign another contract,'' he said.
''This is because we care about the people's desires. Most people view the project as having more disadvantages than advantages,'' the official said.
China's cancelled Burma railway is its latest derailment in southeast Asia - Quartz
A $20-billion Burmese railroad project that would link the Chinese province of Yunnan to the Bay of Bengal was cancelled this week due to fears over the project's environment impact and objections from the public. It was the latest backlash to China's attempt to expand its influence in its ''near abroad'' of southeast Asia.
The railway between Burmese city of Kyaukpyu and the Chinese city of Kunming was supposed to follow the gas and oil pipelines (the former is operational, the latter almost finished) that have been the target of widespread protests by Burmese who are outraged that a country largely without electric power is shipping its natural resources to China.
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From the sea to Yunnan.
Civil society groups in Burma have long protested the Sino-Burmese railway, with groups in the country's Rakhine state saying it was one of 10 major infrastructure projects'--including the China gas pipeline, major mining works, and hydropower projects'--that were granted without the approval of local people who would be affected. Under a memorandum of understanding that has now expired, China was to finance most of the cost of the railroad in exchange for a 50-year concession to operate it.
''This is because we care about the people's desires. Most people view the project as having more disadvantages than advantages,'' a Burmese official told German press agency DPA.
Burma, also known as Myanmar, was once a major Chinese ally, but it has increasingly asserted its independence from Beijing since dissolving its military junta in 2012. China's investment in the country has plunged accordingly'--from nearly $13 billion in 2011 to just $407 million in 2012 after the transition to democracy.
China's relations with many of its other neighbors in ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations), who have long been used to living in the country's shadow, haven't fared much better.
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Beijing's controversial provocations in the South China Sea have already generated a upswell of public anger this year in Vietnam and the Philippines, both major Chinese trading partners that have also clashed with Beijing over disputed islands and offshore drilling rights. China's ties with Malaysia were also strained this year after the disappearance and bungled Malaysian investigation into a missing aircraft that had 154 Chinese citizens abroad, and by the kidnapping of a Chinese woman from a Malaysian resort.
But Beijing does still have one rock-solid ally in the region. In Laos it is building a controversial railroad, again from Yunnan province, to the Lao capital Vientiane, financed by a $7.2 billion loan to the Lao government'--equivalent to 75% of the country's GDP. China's state-owned news service Xinhua reported this week that since the Burma project has been halted, China will proceed with its planned ''Trans-Asian Railway'' through Laos:
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'Radio Free Asia
And if China is looking for more friends in the region, it may have find some in the form of Thailand's military junta, which recently took over the country in a bloodless coup d'etat. Beijing voiced support for the new military rulers, and is strengthening its ties to Thailand. Bangkok is a long-standing US ally, but China is also Thailand's biggest trading partner.
Summary The BMZ Group, a company run by Bilal Erdogan, the son of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has purchased a $35 million oil tanker, according to Turkish news sources on Tuesday. Erdogan's ship G. Inebolu has also continued to transport goods from Russia to a Syrian port, despite the prime minister's falling out with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Last month, a shipment of oil from the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) arrived in the Israeli Port of Ashkelon; however, the KRG denied that the shipment had been directly or indirectly sold to Israel.
Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir (L) shakes hands with Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi (R) before Sisi departures the Khartoum International Airport in Khartoum June 27, 2014. REUTERS/Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah
Egypt's Foreign Ministry on July 26 condemned Turkey's prime minister for calling Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi a "tyrant," warning already sour relations between the two countries could worsen. In a strongly-worded statement, the ministry said it summoned the Turkish charge d' affaires, the highest-ranking Turkish official in the country, over the comments. It said Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip ErdoÄan is driven by "narrow ideological interests," referencing Turkey's support to the Muslim Brotherhood group, branded as a terrorist organization in Egypt. "The continuation of the insults against Egypt and its elected leadership will undoubtedly lead to more measures from Egypt, leading to limited progress of bilateral relations," the statement said. Relations between Egypt and Turkey soured after al-Sisi led the last year's ouster of Islamist President Mohammed Mursi, a Brotherhood leader. Egypt expelled Turkish ambassador in Cairo and withdrew its ambassador in Turkey after it called for Mursi release from prison.July/26/2014
Turkish Kurds Want Ankara to Declare Stance on ISIL.
ISTANBUL '--The leadership of the Kurdish rebel group PKK has called on Ankara to "declare its stance on ISIL."
The PKK is accusing the Turkish government of backing ISIL in its battle against Syrian Kurds. Ankara has blamed the PKK for the deaths of three soldiers this week in a clash on the Syrian border. Concerns are now growing that the deepening tensions concerning the future of the Syrian Kurds could jeopardize peace efforts between the PKK and Ankara.
In a statement issued by the leadership of the Kurdish rebel group the PKK, it warned the Turkish government its support of the radical Islamic group ISIL was incompatible with ongoing peace efforts.
The PKK claimed Ankara is providing logistical and medical support for ISIL in its battle against Syrian Kurds who declared an autonomous secular region called Rojava. International relations expert Cengiz Aktar of the Istanbul Policy Centre said, despite denials by Ankara, there is strong evidence of at least tacit support of ISIL.
"Turkey used ISIL and other groups to push its policy regarding Syrian Kurds and it employed ISIL, al-Nusra and al-Qaida offshoots for months if not years as subcontracting fighters," Ankara stated. "Turkey's western partners were warning Turkey against this dangerous collaboration with radical Islamists."
Ankara accuses the leadership of the Syrian Kurdish enclave, which borders Turkey's own predominantly Kurdish region, as being under PKK control, a charge it denies. Observers say there are strong family and tribal ties between the two Kurdish minorities of Syria and Turkey. Many members of the PKK are Syrian Kurds.
Political columnist Asli Aydintasbas of the Turkish newspaper Milliyet says there is considerable support among many of Turkey's Kurds for the plight of their Syrian kin.
"They are trying to develop local governance there and meanwhile fighting Jihadist and actually Turkish citizens of Kurdish origin from Turkey are crossing the border and going into the Syrian Kurdish territory to fight ISIL there," said Aydintasbas.
According to local media reports, this month nearly 1,000 Kurds from Turkey entered Syria to fight ISIL. Experts say the surge in numbers follows ISIL's launch of a major offensive against the Syrian Kurds, using heavy weapons secured from recent victories against the Iraqi army. Ankara's efforts to beef up its military presence along the Syrian-Kurdish border has only increased tensions and drawn further criticism from both the PKK and pro-Kurdish parties in Turkey.
Earlier this week three Turkish soldiers and six suspected PKK members were killed in a clash on the Syrian border. Despite the rising tension, analyst Sinan Ulgen, a visiting scholar for the Carnegie Europe institute in Brussels, said the current peace process between Ankara and the PKK will continue for now.
"The peace process in Turkey has its own dynamic, it will not be derailed by what is going on beyond Turkey, that is essentially the two sides are firmly committed to this process, both the Kurdish side but also the Turkish government. And they certainly would not want this process to collapse for factors beyond their control," stated Ulgen.
The peace process between Ankara and the PKK seeks to end a 3-decade-long conflict for greater Kurdish rights.
Although the process remains stalled, the government has promised progress will be made after next month's presidential elections.
Observers warn patience running out among pro-Kurdish activists, and that a key test of the government's sincerity is not only over the steps its takes in Turkey but also in neighboring Syria.
Turkey's Erdogan Complains About Charges of Anti-Semitism Against Him | Jewish & Israel News Algemeiner.com
Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan. Photo: Wilson Dias.
Turkey's Islamist Prime Minister Recep Tayyip ErdoÄan took to Twitter on Friday to complain about allegations of anti-Semitism against him.
''Inside and outside there is an unethical campaign that is being waged against us, in which they are trying to expose us as anti-Semites by distorting our words'', ErdoÄan tweeted.
He continued, ''We follow the footsteps of our ancestry who embraced the Jews for centuries, and opened their arms when they were expelled from Spain.''
''In the history of our nation there has never been anti-Semitism; not today, and there will never be in the future.''
The premier's comments came a day after a New York based Jewish group demanded that he return an award that it had presented to him in 2004. The request came following violent anti-Israel riots in Istanbul and Ankara and after ErdoÄan called Israel a ''terrorist state'' and claimed the Jewish state had ''surpassed Hitler in barbarism.''
In a letter, the Jewish group said, ''A decade after we gave you our award, you have become arguably the most virulent anti-Israel leader in the world'--spewing dangerous rhetoric for political gain and inciting the Turkish population to violence against the Jewish people.''
Researchers identify possible glitch in Antarctic ice measurements | Ars Technica
With all the attention given to every nuance of climate data, areas of research that would have never attracted much public interest sometimes find themselves in the spotlight. So it is with the process of measuring sea ice cover. People pay careful attention because it appears to be a leading indicator of climate change. In the Arctic, where the warming has been most intense, sea ice is retreating rapidly, with record lows having been set every few years over the past decades.
But at the other pole, Antarctic sea ice has been steadily expanding, creating a bit of a conundrum for scientists. They've come up with a variety of explanations for why the two poles might be behaving differently but, in the mean time, people have latched on to the difference to question our understanding of climate change.
Now, a paper has come out questioning whether the difference between the poles is as dramatic as it seemed. The reason for the potential difference? Measuring sea ice is remarkably hard.
You wouldn't think a giant sheet of white stuff against a backdrop of dark ocean would be so difficult to sum up, but using visible wavelengths won't necessarily give you the right number. The consensus in the field is that a specific area of ocean is considered to have sea ice when the coverage reaches 15 percent. If you were simply looking for white stuff, then anything that's white (like frothy waves) could throw you off'--as could darker pools of melt water forming on top of the ice. Plus there's the added issue of the poles being in darkness for a lot of the year.
So instead, the field has focused on measuring the amount of microwaves emitted by these regions. Ice emits more microwaves than cold water, which allows the two to be distinguished. Unfortunately, this difference gets less dramatic as the water gets warmer, so ocean currents could potentially throw this off. As a result, the process of searching for ice involves using data from multiple wavelengths and with different polarizations.
Obviously, this analysis isn't run by eyeballing things and punching numbers into a calculator. Instead, software analyzes the raw microwave data coming in from satellites, processing it into less raw data about the location and amount of sea ice.
Currently, there are two different algorithms that are used for this processing, one called "NASA Team" and a second called "Bootstrap." The latter, Bootstrap, is what was used for the analysis that went into the IPCC climate reports.
The authors of the new paper noticed something strange about the two most recent IPCC reports. In the Fourth Assessment Report, released in 2007, Antarctic ice was reported as not undergoing any statistically significant change. By the time of the latest Assessment Report's release, however, the sea ice near the South Pole was found to be expanding rapidly. The authors note that 2007 was significant for a second reason: that was the year the National Snow and Ice Data Center updated the Bootstrap software.
The authors went back and re-analyzed all the data generated with both versions of the Bootstrap program, finding there was a significant difference. Prior to 1991, Bootstrap 1 produced estimates of sea ice extent that were slightly higher than those produced with Bootstrap 2. After that year, however, Bootstrap 1 produces values that are lower. The net result is that, while both algorithms show Antarctic sea ice expanding, the earlier one showed a much more gradual expansion.
Enlarge/ The difference between the Bootstrap 1 and 2 records, showing a sudden change in 1991.What happened in 1991? This gets into another reason why measuring ice isn't so simple: the satellite changed. Most of our orbiting hardware has a finite life span, and so it gets replaced on a regular schedule. And the replacements are rarely identical; even the conservatively designed, radiation-hardened hardware moves on. So there are often orderly transitions between instruments, with a period where both are performing identical measurements at roughly the same time, allowing them to be calibrated against each other.
One of these transitions happened in December of 1991. The authors of the new paper conclude that Bootstrap 2 handles compensating for this transition differently, accounting for the change in the ice records before and after this point.
The authors note that, "Our analysis does not definitively identify whether this change introduced an error or removed one." In other words, everything we've been hearing about Antarctic ice could still be true, but it's impossible for them to tell based on the scientific data and computer code that's publicly available. The obvious thing to do is to then talk to the person who maintains the Bootstrap code, something that the authors of the new paper don't appear to have done, even though one of them works at the same institution.
Nature News, however, did. He says that both the original error and the correction were introduced accidentally, which is why they were not documented. However, you can safely assume that scientists will want to have a close look at both versions of the code, if for no other reason than to reassure themselves.
The one thing that they clearly all agree on is that the academic community could clearly use to more thoroughly embrace some of the practices of the software industry, where version control and code documentation is often far more thorough.
While this may all ultimately be much ado about nothing, it's an excellent illustration of the scientific process at work. And it highlights how something that we tend to assume is a simple fact'--Antarctic sea ice is increasing'--may sometimes be built on top of complicated collection of smaller pieces of data.
The Cryosphere, 2014. DOI: 10.5194/tc-8-1289-2014 (About DOIs).
IDG News Service - A presentation on a low-budget method to unmask users of a popular online privacy tool, TOR, will no longer go ahead at the Black Hat security conference early next month.
The talk was nixed by the legal counsel with Carnegie Mellon's Software Engineering Institute after a finding that materials from researcher Alexander Volynkin were not approved for public release, according to a notice on the conference's website.
It's rare but not unprecedented for Black Hat presentations to be cancelled. It was not clear why lawyers felt Volynkin's presentation should not proceed.
Volynkin, a research scientist with the university's Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT) was due to give a talk entitled "You Don't Have to be the NSA to Break Tor: Deanonymizing Users on a Budget" at the conference, which take places Aug. 6-7 in Last Vegas.
TOR is short for The Onion Router, which is a network of distributed nodes that provide greater privacy by encrypting a person's browsing traffic and routing that traffic through random proxy servers. Although originally developed by the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory, it is now maintained by The TOR Project.
TOR is widely used by both cybercriminals and those with legitimate interests in preserving their anonymity, such as dissidents and journalists. Although TOR masks a computer's true IP address, advanced attacks have been developed that undermine its effectiveness.
Some of Volynkin's materials were informally shared with The TOR Project, a nonprofit group that oversees the TOR, wrote Roger Dingledine, a co-founder of the organization, in mailing list post on Monday.
The TOR Project did not request the talk to be canceled, Dingledine wrote. Also, the group has not received slides or descriptions of Volynkin's talk that go beyond an abstract that has now been deleted from Black Hat's website.
Dingledine wrote that The TOR Project is working with CERT to do a coordinated disclosure around Volynkin's findings, possibly later this week. In general, the group encourages researchers to responsibly disclose information about new attacks.
"Researchers who have told us about bugs in the past have found us pretty helpful in fixing issues and generally positive to work with," Dingledine wrote.
Send news tips and comments to email@example.com. Follow me on Twitter: @jeremy_kirk
Reprinted with permission from IDG.net. Story copyright 2014 International Data Group. All rights reserved.
Tor developers vow to fix bug that can uncloak users
Developers of the Tor privacy service say they're close to fixing a weakness that researchers for an abruptly canceled conference presentation said provides a low-cost way for adversaries to deanonymize hundreds of thousands of users.
The talk previously scheduled for next month's Black Hat security conference in Las Vegas was titled "You Don't Have to be the NSA to Break Tor: Deanonymizing Users on a Budget." The abstract said that the hack cost less than $3,000 and could uncloak hundreds of thousands of users. On Monday, Black Hat organizers said the presentation was canceled at the request of attorneys from Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), where the researchers were employed, as well as the Software Engineering Institute (SEI). The attorneys said only that the materials to be presented "have not yet been approved by CMU/SEI for public release." Researchers Alexander Volynkin and Michael McCord have yet to explain why their talk was pulled.
Tor officials responded by saying that they're working on an update for individual Tor relay nodes that will close the unspecified security hole.
"Based on our current plans, we'll be putting out a fix that relays can apply that should close the particular bug they found," Tor project leader Roger Dingledine wrote in an e-mail to Tor users. "The bug is a nice bug, but it isn't the end of the world. And of course these things are never as simple as 'close that one bug and you're 100% safe.'"
He said the fix was complicated because the researchers didn't provide all the technical details when privately informing Tor officials of the vulnerability.
"We've been trying to find delicate ways to explain that we think we know what they did, but also it sure would have been smoother if they'd opted to tell us everything," he wrote. "The main reason for trying to be delicate is that I don't want to discourage future researchers from telling us about neat things that they find. I'm currently waiting for them to answer their mail so I can proceed."
In a previous e-mail, Dingledine said Tor developers "informally" received some materials related to the vulnerability. He went on to say Tor officials played no role in the cancellation of the Black Hat talk.
"We did not ask Black Hat or CERT to cancel the talk. We did (and still do) have questions for the presenter and for CERT about some aspects of the research, but we had no idea the talk would be pulled before the announcement was made," he wrote.
CMU is affiliated with CERT, which coordinates security disclosures between researchers and affected parties. A CMU spokesman contacted Monday didn't elaborate on the reasons for pulling the talk.
Dutch government can use spy data gathered illegally, court rules
Summary: Data collected by the likes of the NSA in a manner that would be forbidden in the Netherlands can still be used by the country's government, according to a recent court ruling.
The Netherlands' Supreme Court has ruled that the country's government can continue using data collected by foreign intelligence agencies, even if the information in question was gathered in violation of Dutch law.
A coalition of organisations and citizens had brought a case against the state in an effort to force it to destroy the illegally obtained data. The coalition '-- which includes lawyers, journalists, and privacy groups '-- felt that it was unjustifiable for the Dutch government to use information received from agencies such as the US intelligence organisation, the NSA, while being aware that the information was obtained through methods deemed illegal in the Netherlands.
Although the court admitted the possibility exists that intelligence agencies gather and potentially use information that wasn't collected in line with Dutch legislation governing such practices, it has ruled that collaboration with foreign intelligence agencies is necessary to ensure the safety of the Dutch people. Moreover, the Hague court noted that data gathered by foreign intelligence agencies is subject to less strict privacy rules than the information gathered by Dutch agencies.
However, according to the court, a situation in which the intelligence agencies are no longer allowed to cooperate with foreign colleagues because "they are not familiar with their work methods and because there is a risk that the information received has been obtained using a method that is illegal in the Netherlands" is undesirable and even unthinkable. Only in individual cases can the use of illegally obtained foreign information be considered to violate privacy.
Intelligence legislation in the Netherlands and the US is different in terms of the untargeted interception of data. US intelligence agencies are allowed to intercept and query large amounts of data without a clearly defined target; in the Netherlands, such practices are not permitted.
The Dutch parliament is, however, working on proposal for changes to legislation that would give the government permission to conduct so-called untargeted interception. It's not yet known when the proposals will be published.
Although the coalition of organisations effectively lost the case, they did not go home empty-handed. In February of this year, the parliament '-- concerned it may have to disclose the information in court '-- admitted that data on 1.8 million phone conversations that ended up in the hands of the NSA was, in fact, not gathered by the US agency itself but by its Dutch counterparts, which had subsequently shared it. Up to that point, the government had insisted that the information had been gathered by the NSA.
Read more from the NetherlandsAbout Martin GijzemijterMartin began his IT career in 1998 covering games and gadgets, only to discover that the scope of his interests extended far beyond that. Ironically, where he used to cover 'anything with a plug', he now focuses on the wireless world. A self-pronounced Apple enthusiast who can't live without his Windows PC, he writes tech news, reviews and tutorials for the Dutch market and stories about flying elephants for his two sons.
NYTimes: Sheldon Adelson, Warren Buffett and Bill Gates on Immigration Reform
Price of Beef and Bacon Reach All-Time High | CNS News
(CNSNews.com) - The price of beef and bacon hit its all-time high in the United States in June, according to data released Tuesday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).In January 1980, when BLS started tracking the price of these commodities, ground chuck cost $1.82 per pound and bacon cost $1.45 per pound. By this June 2014, ground chuck cost $3.91 per pound and bacon cost $6.11 per pound.
A decade ago, in June 2004, a pound of ground chuck cost $2.49, which means that the commodity has increased by 57 percent since then. Bacon has increased by 78.7 percent from the $3.42 it cost in June 2004 to the $6.11 it costs now.
In one month, beef increased from $3.85 in May 2014 to $3.91 in June 2014. Bacon increased from $6.05 in May 2014 to $6.11 in June 2014.
Each month, the BLS employs data collectors to visit thousands of retail stores all over the United States to obtain information on the prices of thousands of items to measure changes for the Consumer Price Index (CPI). The CPI is simply the average change over time in prices paid by consumers for a market basket of goods and services.
The BLS found that there was a 0.1 percent change in the food index in June, which tracks foods like meats, poultry, fish, eggs and dairy, as well as many others. ''The index for meats, poultry, fish, and eggs increased in June, though its 0.2 percent increase was its smallest since December,'' stated BLS.
''The index for food at home has increased 2.4 percent over the past year, with the index for meats, poultry, fish and eggs up 7.5 percent,'' BLS stated.
He managed to board the flight despite of having a high fever. Once on the plane he vomited, before dying in Nigeria.
Upon arrival in the country's capital Lagos - a megacity home to 21 million people - the 40-year-old had been moved to an isolation ward.
Believed to be a government official with the finance ministry, he had recently lost his sister to Ebola in Liberia, health officials there said. Authorities are now investigating anyone who may have come into contact with him.
Nigerian health minister Onyebuchi Chukwu said it was the first case of Ebola to be confirmed in Nigeria since the start of the current outbreak in the region. The disease has already hit Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, infecting 1,093.
In Sierra Leone, officials are hunting the first known resident of the capital Freetown to test positive for the disease after the family of the woman forcibly removed her from a hospital in the city.
Saudatu Koroma, 32, a resident of the densely populated Wellington neighbourhood, had been admitted to an isolation ward while blood samples were analysed, health ministry spokesman Sidi Yahya Tunis. The results came back on Thursday.
''The family of the patient stormed the hospital and forcefully removed her and took her away,'' Tunis said. ''We are searching for her.''
Fighting one of the world's deadliest diseases is straining the region's weak health systems, while a lack of information and suspicion of medical staff has led many to shun treatment.
According to health ministry data and officials, dozens of people confirmed by laboratory tests to have Ebola are now unaccounted for in Sierra Leone, where the majority of cases have been recorded in the country's east.
There is no cure or vaccine for Ebola, which causes diarrhea, vomiting and internal and external bleeding. It can kill up to 90 percent of those infected, although the mortality rate of the current outbreak is around 60 percent.
The West African outbreak is the first time that Ebola, which was first discovered in what is now Democratic Republic of Congo in 1976, has appeared in heavily populated urban areas and international travel hubs.
Barclays, Deutsche Bank in US tax scheme: Senate report
WASHINGTON: Two of Europe's largest banks, Barclays and Deutsche Bank, have sold complex financial products that allowed hedge funds to avoid US taxes, a Senate report said on Tuesday.
The scheme has cost the federal government billions of dollars in tax revenues, according to the report by the Senate permanent subcommittee on investigations of the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.
The committee said an investigation revealed how British bank Barclays and Germany's Deutsche Bank developed two types of so-called "basket options" - instruments indexed on market values, such as stocks and commodities - to help the hedge funds skirt US taxes.
From 1998 to 2013, Barclays and Deutsche Bank sold 199 basket options to more than a dozen hedge funds, which used them to conduct more than $100 billion in trades.
The banks and the hedge funds used the basket options to open proprietary trading accounts in the names of the banks, making it look like the banks owned the account assets.
However, the hedge funds exercised total control over the assets, executed all the trades, and reaped all the trading profits, the report said.
"The 'option' functioned as little more than a fictional derivative, permitting the hedge fund to cast short-term capital gains as long-term gains and authorizing financing at levels otherwise legally barred for a customer's US brokerage account."
The banks offering the "options" benefited from the financing, trading, and other fees charged to the hedge funds initiating the trades.
The Democratic chairman of the subcommittee, Carl Levin, said the investigation focused on two important issues: "tax avoidance by profitable companies and wealthy individuals, and reckless behavior that threatens the stability of the financial system."
The Internal Revenue Service publicly identified in 2010 that type of option product was "abusive" yet the IRS has not collected taxes on many of the basket option transactions, the report said.
"These banks and hedge funds used dubious structured financial products in a giant game of 'let's pretend,' costing the Treasury billions and bypassing safeguards that protect the economy from excessive bank lending for stock speculation," Levin said.
"Americans are tired of large financial institutions playing by a different set of rules when it comes to paying taxes," said John McCain, the ranking Republican member of the committee.
Deutsche Bank, in an emailed statement to AFP, said the options discussed in the report were "at all times fully compliant with applicable laws, regulations and guidance."
The German bank said it ceased to offer them in 2010.
Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday online that the Federal Reserve of New York had uncovered serious problems at Deutsche Bank's giant US operations, "including shoddy financial reporting, inadequate auditing and oversight and weak technology systems."
In a letter to Deutsche Bank executives last December cited by the Journal, a senior official with the New York Fed wrote that financial reports produced by some of the bank's US arms "are of low quality, inaccurate and unreliable. The size and breadth of errors strongly suggest that the firm's entire US regulatory reporting structure requires wide-ranging remedial action."
The US branch of Deutsche Bank was not immediately available to comment on the Journal report.
Shut Up Slave!
The Secret Government Rulebook For Labeling You a Terrorist
The Obama administration has quietly approved a substantial expansion of the terrorist watchlist system, authorizing a secret process that requires neither ''concrete facts'' nor ''irrefutable evidence'' to designate an American or foreigner as a terrorist, according to a key government document obtained by The Intercept.
The ''March 2013 Watchlisting Guidance,'' a 166-page document issued last year by the National Counterterrorism Center, spells out the government's secret rules for putting individuals on its main terrorist database, as well as the no fly list and the selectee list, which triggers enhanced screening at airports and border crossings. The new guidelines allow individuals to be designated as representatives of terror organizations without any evidence they are actually connected to such organizations, and it gives a single White House official the unilateral authority to place entire ''categories'' of people the government is tracking onto the no fly and selectee lists. It broadens the authority of government officials to ''nominate'' people to the watchlists based on what is vaguely described as ''fragmentary information.'' It also allows for dead people to be watchlisted.
Over the years, the Obama and Bush Administrations have fiercely resisted disclosing the criteria for placing names on the databases'--though the guidelines are officially labeled as unclassified. In May, Attorney General Eric Holder even invoked the state secrets privilege to prevent watchlisting guidelines from being disclosed in litigation launched by an American who was on the no fly list. In an affidavit, Holder called them a ''clear roadmap'' to the government's terrorist-tracking apparatus, adding: ''The Watchlisting Guidance, although unclassified, contains national security information that, if disclosed '... could cause significant harm to national security.''
The rulebook, which The Intercept is publishing in full, was developed behind closed doors by representatives of the nation's intelligence, military, and law-enforcement establishment, including the Pentagon, CIA, NSA, and FBI. Emblazoned with the crests of 19 agencies, it offers the most complete and revealing look into the secret history of the government's terror list policies to date. It reveals a confounding and convoluted system filled with exceptions to its own rules, and it relies on the elastic concept of ''reasonable suspicion'' as a standard for determining whether someone is a possible threat. Because the government tracks ''suspected terrorists'' as well as ''known terrorists,'' individuals can be watchlisted if they are suspected of being a suspected terrorist, or if they are suspected of associating with people who are suspected of terrorism activity.
''Instead of a watchlist limited to actual, known terrorists, the government has built a vast system based on the unproven and flawed premise that it can predict if a person will commit a terrorist act in the future,'' says Hina Shamsi, the head of the ACLU's National Security Project. ''On that dangerous theory, the government is secretly blacklisting people as suspected terrorists and giving them the impossible task of proving themselves innocent of a threat they haven't carried out.'' Shamsi, who reviewed the document, added, ''These criteria should never have been kept secret.''
The document's definition of ''terrorist'' activity includes actions that fall far short of bombing or hijacking. In addition to expected crimes, such as assassination or hostage-taking, the guidelines also define destruction of government property and damaging computers used by financial institutions as activities meriting placement on a list. They also define as terrorism any act that is ''dangerous'' to property and intended to influence government policy through intimidation.
This combination'--a broad definition of what constitutes terrorism and a low threshold for designating someone a terrorist'--opens the way to ensnaring innocent people in secret government dragnets. It can also be counterproductive. When resources are devoted to tracking people who are not genuine risks to national security, the actual threats get fewer resources'--and might go unnoticed.
''If reasonable suspicion is the only standard you need to label somebody, then it's a slippery slope we're sliding down here, because then you can label anybody anything,'' says David Gomez, a former senior FBI special agent with experience running high-profile terrorism investigations. ''Because you appear on a telephone list of somebody doesn't make you a terrorist. That's the kind of information that gets put in there.''
The fallout is personal too. There are severe consequences for people unfairly labeled a terrorist by the U.S. government, which shares its watchlist data with local law enforcement, foreign governments, and ''private entities.'' Once the U.S. government secretly labels you a terrorist or terrorist suspect, other institutions tend to treat you as one. It can become difficult to get a job (or simply to stay out of jail). It can become burdensome'--or impossible'--to travel. And routine encounters with law enforcement can turn into ordeals.
A chart from the ''March 2013 Watchlisting Guidance''
In 2012 Tim Healy, the former director of the FBI's Terrorist Screening Center, described to CBS News how watchlists are used by police officers. ''So if you are speeding, you get pulled over, they'll query that name,'' he said. ''And if they are encountering a known or suspected terrorist, it will pop up and say call the Terrorist Screening Center'.... So now the officer on the street knows he may be dealing with a known or suspected terrorist.'' Of course, the problem is that the ''known or suspected terrorist'' might just be an ordinary citizen who should not be treated as a menace to public safety.
Until 2001, the government did not prioritize building a watchlist system. On 9/11, the government's list of people barred from flying included just 16 names. Today, the no fly list has swelled to tens of thousands of ''known or suspected terrorists'' (the guidelines refer to them as KSTs). The selectee list subjects people to extra scrutiny and questioning at airports and border crossings. The government has created several other databases, too. The largest is the Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment (TIDE), which gathers terrorism information from sensitive military and intelligence sources around the world. Because it contains classified information that cannot be widely distributed, there is yet another list, the Terrorist Screening Database, or TSDB, which has been stripped of TIDE's classified data so that it can be shared. When government officials refer to ''the watchlist,'' they are typically referring to the TSDB. (TIDE is the responsibility of the National Counterterrorism Center; the TSDB is managed by the Terrorist Screening Center at the FBI.)
In a statement, a spokesman for the National Counterterrorism Center told The Intercept that ''the watchlisting system is an important part of our layered defense to protect the United States against future terrorist attacks'' and that ''watchlisting continues to mature to meet an evolving, diffuse threat.'' He added that U.S. citizens are afforded extra protections to guard against improper listing, and that no one can be placed on a list solely for activities protected by the First Amendment. A representative of the Terrorist Screening Center did not respond to a request for comment.
The system has been criticized for years. In 2004, Sen. Ted Kennedy complained that he was barred from boarding flights on five separate occasions because his name resembled the alias of a suspected terrorist. Two years later, CBS News obtained a copy of the no fly list and reported that it included Bolivian president Evo Morales and Lebanese parliament head Nabih Berri. One of the watchlists snared Mikey Hicks, a Cub Scout who got his first of many airport pat-downs at age two. In 2007, the Justice Department's inspector general issued a scathing report identifying ''significant weaknesses'' in the system. And in 2009, after a Nigerian terrorist was able to board a passenger flight to Detroit and nearly detonated a bomb sewn into his underwear despite his name having been placed on the TIDE list, President Obama admitted that there had been a ''systemic failure.''
Obama hoped that his response to the ''underwear bomber'' would be a turning point. In 2010, he gave increased powers and responsibilities to the agencies that nominate individuals to the lists, placing pressure on them to add names. His administration also issued a set of new guidelines for the watchlists. Problems persisted, however. In 2012, the U.S. Government Accountability Office published a report that bluntly noted there was no agency responsible for figuring out ''whether watchlist-related screening or vetting is achieving intended results.'' The guidelines were revised and expanded in 2013'--and a source within the intelligence community subsequently provided a copy to The Intercept.
''Concrete facts are not necessary''The five chapters and 11 appendices of the ''Watchlisting Guidance'' are filled with acronyms, legal citations, and numbered paragraphs; it reads like an arcane textbook with a vocabulary all its own. Different types of data on suspected terrorists are referred to as ''derogatory information,'' ''substantive derogatory information,'' ''extreme derogatory information'' and ''particularized derogatory information.'' The names of suspected terrorists are passed along a bureaucratic ecosystem of ''originators,'' ''nominators,'' ''aggregators,'' ''screeners,'' and ''encountering agencies.'' And ''upgrade,'' usually a happy word for travellers, is repurposed to mean that an individual has been placed on a more restrictive list.
The heart of the document revolves around the rules for placing individuals on a watchlist. ''All executive departments and agencies,'' the document says, are responsible for collecting and sharing information on terrorist suspects with the National Counterterrorism Center. It sets a low standard'--''reasonable suspicion'''--for placing names on the watchlists, and offers a multitude of vague, confusing, or contradictory instructions for gauging it. In the chapter on ''Minimum Substantive Derogatory Criteria'''--even the title is hard to digest'--the key sentence on reasonable suspicion offers little clarity:
''To meet the REASONABLE SUSPICION standard, the NOMINATOR, based on the totality of the circumstances, must rely upon articulable intelligence or information which, taken together with rational inferences from those facts, reasonably warrants a determination that an individual is known or suspected to be or has been knowingly engaged in conduct constituting, in preparation for, in aid of, or related to TERRORISM and/or TERRORIST ACTIVITIES.''
The rulebook makes no effort to define an essential phrase in the passage'--''articulable intelligence or information.'' After stressing that hunches are not reasonable suspicion and that ''there must be an objective factual basis'' for labeling someone a terrorist, it goes on to state that no actual facts are required:
''In determining whether a REASONABLE SUSPICION exists, due weight should be given to the specific reasonable inferences that a NOMINATOR is entitled to draw from the facts in light of his/her experience and not on unfounded suspicions or hunches. Although irrefutable evidence or concrete facts are not necessary, to be reasonable, suspicion should be as clear and as fully developed as circumstances permit.''
While the guidelines nominally prohibit nominations based on unreliable information, they explicitly regard ''uncorroborated'' Facebook or Twitter posts as sufficient grounds for putting an individual on one of the watchlists. ''Single source information,'' the guidelines state, ''including but not limited to 'walk-in,' 'write-in,' or postings on social media sites, however, should not automatically be discounted '... the NOMINATING AGENCY should evaluate the credibility of the source, as well as the nature and specificity of the information, and nominate even if that source is uncorroborated.''
There are a number of loopholes for putting people onto the watchlists even if reasonable suspicion cannot be met.
One is clearly defined: The immediate family of suspected terrorists'--their spouses, children, parents, or siblings'--may be watchlisted without any suspicion that they themselves are engaged in terrorist activity. But another loophole is quite broad'--''associates'' who have a defined relationship with a suspected terrorist, but whose involvement in terrorist activity is not known. A third loophole is broader still'--individuals with ''a possible nexus'' to terrorism, but for whom there is not enough ''derogatory information'' to meet the reasonable suspicion standard.
Americans and foreigners can be nominated for the watchlists if they are associated with a terrorist group, even if that group has not been designated as a terrorist organization by the U.S. government. They can also be treated as ''representatives'' of a terrorist group even if they have ''neither membership in nor association with the organization.'' The guidelines do helpfully note that certain associations, such as providing janitorial services or delivering packages, are not grounds for being watchlisted.
The nomination system appears to lack meaningful checks and balances. Although government officials have repeatedly said there is a rigorous process for making sure no one is unfairly placed in the databases, the guidelines acknowledge that all nominations of ''known terrorists'' are considered justified unless the National Counterterrorism Center has evidence to the contrary. In a recent court filing, the government disclosed that there were 468,749 KST nominations in 2013, of which only 4,915 were rejected''a rate of about one percent. The rulebook appears to invert the legal principle of due process, defining nominations as ''presumptively valid.''
Profiling categories of peopleWhile the nomination process appears methodical on paper, in practice there is a shortcut around the entire system. Known as a ''threat-based expedited upgrade,'' it gives a single White House official the unilateral authority to elevate entire ''categories of people'' whose names appear in the larger databases onto the no fly or selectee lists. This can occur, the guidelines state, when there is a ''particular threat stream'' indicating that a certain type of individual may commit a terrorist act.
This extraordinary power for ''categorical watchlisting'''--otherwise known as profiling'--is vested in the assistant to the president for homeland security and counterterrorism, a position formerly held by CIA Director John Brennan that does not require Senate confirmation.
The rulebook does not indicate what ''categories of people'' have been subjected to threat-based upgrades. It is not clear, for example, whether a category might be as broad as military-age males from Yemen. The guidelines do make clear that American citizens and green card holders are subject to such upgrades, though government officials are required to review their status in an ''expedited'' procedure. Upgrades can remain in effect for 72 hours before being reviewed by a small committee of senior officials. If approved, they can remain in place for 30 days before a renewal is required, and can continue ''until the threat no longer exists.''
''In a set of watchlisting criteria riddled with exceptions that swallow rules, this exception is perhaps the most expansive and certainly one of the most troubling,'' Shamsi, the ACLU attorney, says. ''It's reminiscent of the Bush administration's heavily criticized color-coded threat alerts, except that here, bureaucrats can exercise virtually standard-less authority in secret with specific negative consequences for entire categories of people.''
The National Counterterrorism Center declined to provide any details on the upgrade authority, including how often it has been exercised and for what categories of people.
Pocket litter and scuba gearThe guidelines provide the clearest explanation yet of what is happening when Americans and foreigners are pulled aside at airports and border crossings by government agents. The fifth chapter, titled ''Encounter Management and Analysis,'' details the type of information that is targeted for collection during ''encounters'' with people on the watchlists, as well as the different organizations that should collect the data. The Department of Homeland Security is described as having the largest number of encounters, but other authorities, ranging from the State Department and Coast Guard to foreign governments and ''certain private entities,'' are also involved in assembling ''encounter packages'' when watchlisted individuals cross their paths. The encounters can be face-to-face meetings or electronic interactions'--for instance, when a watchlisted individual applies for a visa.
In addition to data like fingerprints, travel itineraries, identification documents and gun licenses, the rules encourage screeners to acquire health insurance information, drug prescriptions, ''any cards with an electronic strip on it (hotel cards, grocery cards, gift cards, frequent flyer cards),'' cellphones, email addresses, binoculars, peroxide, bank account numbers, pay stubs, academic transcripts, parking and speeding tickets, and want ads. The digital information singled out for collection includes social media accounts, cell phone lists, speed dial numbers, laptop images, thumb drives, iPods, Kindles, and cameras. All of the information is then uploaded to the TIDE database.
Screeners are also instructed to collect data on any ''pocket litter,'' scuba gear, EZ Passes, library cards, and the titles of any books, along with information about their condition'--''e.g., new, dog-eared, annotated, unopened.'' Business cards and conference materials are also targeted, as well as ''anything with an account number'' and information about any gold or jewelry worn by the watchlisted individual. Even ''animal information'''--details about pets from veterinarians or tracking chips'--is requested. The rulebook also encourages the collection of biometric or biographical data about the travel partners of watchlisted individuals.
The list of government entities that collect this data includes the U.S. Agency for International Development, which is neither an intelligence nor law-enforcement agency. As the rulebook notes, USAID funds foreign aid programs that promote environmentalism, health care, and education. USAID, which presents itself as committed to fighting global poverty, nonetheless appears to serve as a conduit for sensitive intelligence about foreigners. According to the guidelines, ''When USAID receives an application seeking financial assistance, prior to granting, these applications are subject to vetting by USAID intelligence analysts at the TSC.'' The guidelines do not disclose the volume of names provided by USAID, the type of information it provides, or the number and duties of the ''USAID intelligence analysts.''
A USAID spokesman told The Intercept that ''in certain high risk countries, such as Afghanistan, USAID has determined that vetting potential partner organizations with the terrorist watchlist is warranted to protect U.S. taxpayer dollars and to minimize the risk of inadvertent funding of terrorism.'' He stated that since 2007, the agency has checked ''the names and other personal identifying information of key individuals of contractors and grantees, and sub-recipients.''
Death and the watchlistThe government has been widely criticized for making it impossible for people to know why they have been placed on a watchlist, and for making it nearly impossible to get off. The guidelines bluntly state that ''the general policy of the U.S. Government is to neither confirm nor deny an individual's watchlist status.'' But the courts have taken exception to the official silence and footdragging: In June, a federal judge described the government's secretive removal process as unconstitutional and ''wholly ineffective.''
The difficulty of getting off the list is highlighted by a passage in the guidelines stating that an individual can be kept on the watchlist, or even placed onto the watchlist, despite being acquitted of a terrorism-related crime. The rulebook justifies this by noting that conviction in U.S. courts requires evidence beyond a reasonable doubt, whereas watchlisting requires only a reasonable suspicion. Once suspicion is raised, even a jury's verdict cannot erase it.
Not even death provides a guarantee of getting off the list. The guidelines say the names of dead people will stay on the list if there is reason to believe the deceased's identity may be used by a suspected terrorist''which the National Counterterrorism Center calls a ''demonstrated terrorist tactic.'' In fact, for the same reason, the rules permit the deceased spouses of suspected terrorists to be placed onto the list after they have died.
For the living, the process of getting off the watchlist is simple yet opaque. A complaint can be filed through the Department of Homeland Security Traveler Redress Inquiry Program, which launches an internal review that is not subject to oversight by any court or entity outside the counterterrorism community. The review can result in removal from a watchlist or an adjustment of watchlist status, but the individual will not be told if he or she prevails. The guidelines highlight one of the reasons why it has been difficult to get off the list'--if multiple agencies have contributed information on a watchlisted individual, all of them must agree to removing him or her.
If a U.S. citizen is placed on the no fly list while abroad and is turned away from a flight bound for the U.S., the guidelines say they should be referred to the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate, which is prohibited from informing them why they were blocked from flying. According to the rules, these individuals can be granted a ''One-Time Waiver'' to fly, though they will not be told that they are traveling on a waiver. Back in the United States, they will be unable to board another flight.
The document states that nominating agencies are ''under a continuing obligation'' to provide exculpatory information when it emerges. It adds that the agencies are expected to conduct annual reviews of watchlisted American citizens and green card holders. It is unclear whether foreigners'--or the dead'--are reviewed at the same pace. As the rulebook notes, ''watchlisting is not an exact science.''
Josh Begley, Lynn Dombek, and Peter Maass contributed to this story.
Photo credits: TSA: G.J. McCarthy/Dallas Morning News/Corbis (2); Guidance: Josh Begley; White House: Win McNamee/Getty Images; Airport: Nick Ut/AP Photo
2013 Watchlisting Guidance (PDF)
U.S. Government To Pull Foreign Aid In El Salvador For Refusing Monsanto Seeds
Governments do not dictate major policy, major multinational corporations do. We've seen this time and time again, and one of the best examples out there is Monsanto. This time, the United States government wants to force GMO seeds on El Salvadorian farmers.
Encouraged by the U.S. Embassy, the Millennium Challenge Corporation had ''granted'' El salvador 277 million dollars to ''improve El Salvador's competitiveness and productivity in international markets.'' This, however, would not come without certain commitments and obligations, which included a commitment to ensure that the Ministry of Agriculture's procurement of corn and bean seed would ''be consistent with the provisions of the CAFTA-DR( Dominican Republic-Central America-United States Free Trade Agreement).'' (1)
''We are asking the Government of EL Salvador to implement the procurement program for corn and bean seeds in a competitive, objective, and transparent manner that demonstrates to all stakeholders both EL Salvador's commitment to the CAFTA-DR, as well as its commitment to good governance. Such principles are inherent in the provisions of the CAFTA-DR.'' (1)
Again, without these specific economic reforms the U.S. government will not provide El Salvador with the 277 million dollars in aid money through the MCC. What is happening here? The U.S. is seeking to spark economic growth in El Salvador through various policy reforms created and set up by Washington.What will this lead to? More pollution? More environmental degradation?
Farmers across the country have united in order to stop this stipulation within this US aid package. Which again, indirectly requires the purchase of Monsanto genetically modified (GM) seeds.
''Transnational companies have been known to provide expired seeds that they weren't able to distribute elsewhere. We would like the US embassy and the misinformed media outlets to know more about the reality of national producers and recognize the food sovereignty of the country.'' - Juan Joaquin Luna Vides, 45 year old Salvadoran farmer (2)
Hundreds of other farmers have successfully produced high-quality seed that is adapted to the specific soil and climate conditions of their country. Using indigenous seeds simply makes more sense.
If you didn't know, Monsanto controls the majority of seeds all over the world. In India alone, thousands of farmers lost their livelihoods, and many farmers all over the world have filed lawsuits against Monsanto.
''In defining seed as their creation and invention, corporations like Monsanto shape the Global Intellectual Property and Patent Laws so that they can prevent farmers from seed saving and sharing, forcing them into dependence on their patented GMO seeds.'' - Dr. Vandana Shiva (source)
The president of the El Salvadorian Center for Appropriate Technologies (CESTA) criticized the US negotiating position and says the country should back away from its demand.
CESTA President Ricardo Navarro said that:
''I would like to tell the U.S. Ambassador to stop pressuring the Government (of El Salvador) to buy 'improved' GM seeds. There is a harmful corporation on the planet called Monsanto'...it is truly disturbing that the U.S. is trying to promote them.'' (source)
El Salvador has been taking leaps that other countries in South America have been taking, in September of 2013 they completely banned glyphosate, a chemical used in Monsanto's Roundup pesticides along with dozens of other agricultural chemicals. Sri Lanka also recently banned it after citing a link to a deadly kidney disease (you can read more about that HERE). It's also been linked to various diseases, including cancer. You can find out more about Glyphosate and links to studies HERE.
In 2013, a Washington, DC-based watchdog group called ''Food & Water Watch'' released a report detailing how the US State Department issued directives to US embassies to promote biotech products and to be responsive to the concerns of the biotech industry. The report said:
''Between 2007 and 2009, the State Department sent annual cables to 'encourage the use of agricultural biotechnology,' directing every diplomatic post worldwide to 'pursue and active biotech agenda' that promotes agricultural biotechnology, encourages the export of biotech crops and foods and advocated for pro-biotech policies and laws.'' (source)
WikiLeaks CablesSomething like this might be considered economic warfare, it's happened before. There are cables released by WikiLeaks that reveal the Bush administration developed ways to retaliate against Europe for refusing to use genetically modified seeds. (source 1) (source 2) (source 3) The US embassy in Paris advised Washington to start a military-style economic war against any European Union country that opposed GM crops.
''The United States has aggressively pursued foreign policies in food and agriculture that benefit the largest seed companies. The U.S. State Department has launched a concerted strategy to promote agricultural biotechnology, often over the opposition of the public and government, to the near exclusion of other more sustainable, more appropriate agricultural policy alternatives. The U.S. State Department has also lobbied foreign governments to adopt pro-agricultural biotechnology policies and laws, operated a rigorous public relations campaign to improve the image of biotechnology and challenged common sense biotechnology safeguards and rules '' even including opposing laws requiring the labelling of genetically engineered (GE) foods.'' (source) (referenced by wikileaks on twitter, see rt news link)
Final CommentsAs you can see, it's not just the studies coming out year after year indicating that GM foods can be harmful to human health, it's shady politics and other meanderings that clearly indicate something is up here. It's great to see the power of activism working, as multiple countries around the world have banned GMOs and the pesticides that go with them. The Marches Against Monsanto the past two years have seen millions gather all over the world to oppose the major biotech giant.
There are better ways to feed the world, organically. It's possible and we have the resources to do so. Ask yourself, why aren't we doing it?
For more on this story, please read THIS article, written by award winning investigative journalist Dahr Jamail from truth-out.org.
Should Netflix CEO Reed Hastings insist on payments from Comcast and Verizon?
While the network neutrality debate has focused primarily on whether ISPs should be able to charge companies like Netflix for faster access to consumers, cable companies are now arguing that it's really Netflix who holds the market power to charge them.
This argument popped up in comments submitted to the FCC by Time Warner Cable and industry groups that represent cable companies. (National Journal writer Brendan Sasso pointed this out.)
The National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA), which represents many companies including Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cablevision, Cox, and Charter wrote to the FCC:
Even if broadband providers had an incentive to degrade their customers' online experience in some circumstances, they have no practical ability to act on such an incentive. Today's Internet ecosystem is dominated by a number of ''hyper-giants'' with growing power over key aspects of the Internet experience'--including Google in search, Netflix and Google (YouTube) in online video, Amazon and eBay in e-commerce, and Facebook in social media.
If a broadband provider were to approach one of these hyper-giants and threaten to block or degrade access to its site if it refused to pay a significant fee, such a strategy almost certainly would be self-defeating, in light of the immediately hostile reaction of consumers to such conduct. Indeed, it is more likely that these large edge providers would seek to extract payment from ISPs for delivery of video over last-mile networks.
ISPs making payments to online video companies would be similar to the payments cable TV providers make to programmers. But in practice it hasn't worked that way. Cable TV and Internet providers have less incentive to ensure that Netflix and YouTube work well on their networks because online video competes against their own video services and because the cable companies face little competition in each local market.
All talk of "fast lanes" has centered on ISPs potentially charging Web services for better access to consumers over the last mile of the network. The FCC's latest proposal would let ISPs charge for fast lanes as long as they provide a minimum level of service to all Internet users and Web services. Network neutrality proponents have urged the FCC to pass stronger rules that would ban such prioritization. Yet the issue is even more complicated than that because ISPs could still degrade bandwidth-heavy services like video by refusing to upgrade infrastructure that connects their networks to the rest of the Internet.
Nonetheless, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings noted in an earnings call this week that "the question comes up'--should we over time be charging ISPs for the privilege of carrying our data to their customers, and charging for that?"
The answer, so far, is no. "I think the Internet really has this different, much more open architecture than classic cable, where we meet in the middle, we bring the bits to where they want, we don't charge them, they don't charge us," Hastings said. "Both sides innovate,. It's very open structure, and I think then you get more competitors for Netflix frankly, but what you get is this open vibrant system that the Internet has been so famous for, and that's really the tradition that we grew up in, and that we're trying to see carry forward, and I'm optimistic about it, frankly."
Further ReadingIn fact, Netflix has paid Comcast and Verizon for direct connections to their networks to improve quality, although not for a faster pipe over the last portions of the network that bring video directly to consumers.Time Warner Cable's filing with the FCC makes an argument similar to the NCTA's. The concern about ISPs charging Web services for "fast lanes" is a "red herring," Time Warner wrote.
"To TWC's knowledge, no broadband provider has expressed any intention of prioritizing one class of Internet traffic at the expense of another," the company wrote. "If anything, it is more likely that some content owners might well seek payment from broadband Internet access providers as a condition of delivering their content'--paralleling the business model that already exists on MVPD [multichannel video programming distributor] platforms. The Commission should not turn a blind eye to actual marketplace dynamics in developing open Internet protections."
Verizon also complained about the power wielded by Google, Netflix, and Amazon, saying that the companies "have undeniable power to affect the consumer experience online and Internet openness, and the reach of these companies often dwarfs that of particular ISPs." For example, "Netflix has built its 'Open Connect' content delivery network to support its video service, and until recently it denied the highest quality video to end users whose broadband providers did not agree to host Netflix's servers directly on their networks."
The ability of ISPs to offer special, paid arrangements to Web services "could prove crucial to help smaller companies" competing against Google, Amazon, and Netflix, which are big enough to build their own content delivery networks, Verizon wrote. Verizon asserts that it doesn't plan to offer paid prioritization but does want the ability to negotiate "individualized agreements beyond paid prioritization, such as sponsored data, two-sided pricing, or other benign arrangements."
The American Cable Association (ACA), which represents smaller cable companies (and opposes the AT&T/DirecTV and Comcast/TWC mergers) argued that the FCC's rules should apply to Web services as well. "If protecting and preserving Internet openness are the goals, the proposed rules are too narrow because they do not address the threats posed by Internet edge providers," the ACA wrote.
The concerns aren't hypothetical, the ACA said.
"For example, Internet edge providers who are also distributors of MVPD programming, have opted to selectively block access to otherwise freely accessible Internet content to all broadband Internet subscribers of an MVPDs to extract higher fees for its MVPD programming from the MVPD," the ACA wrote. "In 2009, Viacom threatened to block access to Time Warner Cable broadband subscribers from accessing its web-based content, including such popular sites as MTV.com and Nick.com. In 2010, News Corp. threatened to block access to Cablevision Internet users from accessing Fox websites, including Hulu.com, which News Corp. partially owned, as part of Fox's on-going retransmission dispute with Cablevision'... Similarly, in 2013, CBS elected to block Time Warner Cable and Bright House Network broadband subscribers in New York as part of their dispute over retransmission rights."
Although big and small cable providers have different concerns on many issues, the ACA and NCTA ultimately make roughly the same argument on net neutrality. Each said the FCC should continue a "light touch regulatory approach" and that broadband providers should not be reclassified as common carriers, a move that would open them up to stricter, utility-style regulation.
Net neutrality needs 'strongest possible rules,' mayors of Portland, New York and San Francisco tell FCC | OregonLive.com
Portland Mayor Charlie Hales joined the mayors of San Francisco and New York this week in a joint letter to the Federal Communications Commission, urging the FCC to enforce 'net neutrality.'
Net neutrality is the hotly contested principle that all traffic on the Internet ought to be treated equally, blocking service providers' ability to levy tolls on certain content or give preferential treatment to companies who pay a premium for faster access.
The FCC was swamped with comments last week as it approached a deadline for its current proposal, logging more than a million comments altogether. After a court tossed out a prior FCC plan last winter, the commission came up with a revised proposal that would allow Internet service providers (ISPs) to offer premium Internet "fast lanes."
Consumer advocates feel the FCC's proposal would, in time, raise prices for Internet services like Netflix, because companies would charge subscribers to cover the cost of premium access on ISPs' networks.
The mayors' letter, dated July 18, asks the FCC "to issue the strongest possible rules to guarantee Net Neutrality." They ask the FCC to reverse prior decisions and classify high-speed Internet access as a telecommunications service, subject to a higher regulatory standard, citing in part "widespread consumer dissatisfaction with broadband providers."
"Perhaps no issue has generated as much alarm among members of the public, advocates and other stakeholders as the risk that content and content-provider based blocking and other discriminatory practices pose to Net Neutrality," the mayors write.
Improving broadband service has long been a city priority in Portland, and in June the city council approved a franchise agreement with Google Fiber, which is contemplating super-fast Internet in Portland and several nearby suburbs. Google says it supports net neutrality.
U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Oregon, has also been a leading advocate of net neutrality.
The flood of public comments on net neutrality prompted the FCC to extend a deadline for comments. That deadline passed last Friday, the date of the mayors' letter, but the FCC said it will accept additional input past the deadline.
-- Mike Rogoway; twitter: @rogoway; phone: 503-294-7699
Indie ISP to Netflix: Give it a rest about 'net neutrality' '' and get your checkbook out ' The Register
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A pioneering American community ISP is telling customers that Netflix should spend more time improving its technology, more money on its network '' and less energy on lobbying in Washington DC.
BSD developer and author Brett Glass founded Lariat.net in Wyoming in 1992, making it one of the first ISPs in the world. He told The Register that he's fed up with Netflix hiding behind the "net neutrality" lobbying movement, and says it should invest in better infrastructure and better technology instead.
Glass said he believes the net neutrality debate is fundamentally misleading - with large corporations using deceptive language (does anyone actually want a ''closed internet''?) and squabbling about lowering their costs. Netflix is an ''over the top'' (OTT) video service that generates enormous costs - but does demand that tiny community ISPs pay a hefty upfront fee, says Glass.
Glass told us:
Netflix generates huge amounts of wasteful, redundant traffic and then refuses to allow ISPs to correct this inefficiency via caching. It fails to provide adequate bandwidth for its traffic to ISPs' "front doors" and then blames their downstream networks when in fact they are more than adequate.
It exercises market power over ISPs - one of the first questions asked by every customer who calls us is, "How well do you stream Netflix?" - in an attempt to force them to host their servers for free and to build out network connections for which it should be footing the bill.
Netflix told us that, if we wanted to improve streaming performance, we should pay $10,000 per month for a dedicated link, spanning nearly 1,000 miles, to one of its "peering points" '' just to serve it and no other streaming provider.) It then launches misleading PR campaigns against ISPs that dare to object to this behavior.
Part of the problem is that Netflix doesn't make its content cacheable, even in encrypted form. It could save enormous costs and customer problems if it kept a cache of even the Top 10 shows at a server, argues Glass.
''Netflix asks large ISPs (but not small ones) to host its servers ''they are not caches but servers '' for free. Alas, not only are the servers power hogs, but Netflix pumps terabytes of data into each one every day, sapping huge amounts of bandwidth from the ISP," he says.
"We tell prospective customers that we provide a guaranteed amount of capacity for them to the nearest major Internet hub. However, because Netflix does not have a presence at that hub, has failed to invest in adequate infrastructure, will not build out to our ISP as it has to larger ones such as Comcast, and needlessly wastes network capacity, they may or may not get adequate performance.''
Everyone loves the idea of small community ISPs, but their needs seem to have been forgotten. We'll watch out to see if any others follow suit.
You can get an insight into running a wireless ISP from this video of a talk by Glass at (ironically) Berkman. ®
The Power of One Brief: Top reasons to choose HP BladeSystem
Hollande declares three days of mourning over Air Algerie crash.
In a preview of a longer interview that will air on CNN's Fareed Zakaria GPS this Sunday, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says she believes Russian President Vladimir Putin deserves at least some blame for the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over Ukraine last week.
''If there were any doubt, I think it should be gone by now that Vladimir Putin certain indirectly, through his support of the insurgents in Eastern Ukraine and the supply of advanced weapons, and, frankly, the presence of Russian special forces and intelligence agents, bears responsibility for what happened with the shoot down of the airliner,'' Clinton tells Fareed Zakaria.
''Therefore, we have to up the sanctions that are required,'' she continues. While the U.S. has done so, she said Europe as ''been reluctant'' but ''need to understand they must stand up to Vladimir Putin.''
Clinton's comments echo those of senior U.S. intelligence officials, who claimed this week that Russia is responsible for ''creating the conditions'' that led to the incident, but said there was no apparent direct link between the Kremlin and the rebels who are believed to have shot down the plane.
Watch video below, via CNN:
[Photo via screengrab]
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VIDEO-NBC, CBS Allow a Mere 43 Seconds to Hero Doctor Who Shot Crazed Gunman | MRCTV
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VIDEO-POS Tries To Justify Israeli Airstrikes On "HOSPITALS! SCHOOLS! AND MOSQUES!" - YouTube
EMBARGOED UNTIL 6:00 AM ET, SATURDAY, July 26, 2014
WHITE HOUSE VIDEO MESSAGE: Embracing Economic Patriotism
WASHINGTON, DC '' In this week's message, Director of the White House Domestic Policy Council Cecilia Mu±oz highlighted the progress our economy has made since September 2008, but also discussed the small but growing group of big corporations that are fleeing the country to avoid paying taxes, even as corporate profits are as high as ever. The best way to level the playing field, as the President's budget earlier this year proposed, is through tax reform that lowers the corporate tax rate, closes wasteful loopholes, and simplifies the tax code for everybody.
The audio of the address and video of the message will be available online HERE.
Remarks of Cecilia Mu±oz
Spanish Weekly Address
The White House
July 26, 2014
Hi, everybody. Our businesses have now added nearly 10 million new jobs over the past 52 months. The unemployment rate is at its lowest point since September 2008 '' the fastest one-year drop in nearly 30 years.
But there's another trend that threatens to undermine the progress you've helped make. Even as corporate profits are as high as ever, a small but growing group of big corporations are fleeing the country to get out of paying taxes. They're keeping their headquarters, and most of their business, inside the United States, but they're basically renouncing their citizenship and declaring that they're based somewhere else, just to avoid paying their fair share.
I want to be clear: this is only a few big corporations so far. The vast majority of American businesses play by the rules. But these companies cherrypick their taxes. It damages the country's finances.
The best way to level the playing field is through tax reform that lowers the corporate tax rate, closes wasteful loopholes, and simplifies the tax code for everybody. In the President's budget earlier this year, he proposed closing this unpatriotic tax loophole for good.
Together, we can build up our middle class, hand down something better to our kids, and restore the American Dream for all who work and study and strive for it.
Thanks, and have a great weekend.
VIDEO- 7-25-2014 You Don't Have A Right to Know Everything In a Separation of Powers Government - YouTube
Since February, 660 people have died of Ebola in three West African states, as Tomi Oladipo reports
A hunt has been launched in Sierra Leone's capital, Freetown, for a woman with Ebola who was forcibly removed from hospital by her relatives.
Radio stations around the country are appealing for help to find the 32-year-old who is being described as a "risk to all".
She is the first Freetown resident to have tested positive for the virus.
Meanwhile, Nigeria's health minister has confirmed that a Liberian man has died of Ebola in Lagos.
According to the Reuters news agency, he collapsed on arrival in Lagos on Sunday and was taken from the airport and put in quarantine at a hospital in the Nigerian city.
Since February, more than 660 people have died of Ebola in West Africa - the world's deadliest outbreak to date.
It began in southern Guinea and spread to Liberia and Sierra Leone. The case in Nigeria is the first in Africa's most populous country.
Angry protestersThe virus kills up to 90% of those infected but if patients receive early treatment, they have a better chance of survival.
It spreads through contact with an infected person's bodily fluids.
WHO: Latest West Africa Ebola outbreak figures Guinea - 314 deaths, 415 cases Liberia - 127 deaths, 224 cases Sierra Leone - 219 deaths, 454 cases Sidi Yahya Tunis, a spokesperson for Sierra Leone's ministry of health, said the King Harman Road Hospital was stormed by the Ebola patient's family on Thursday.
The BBC's Umaru Fofona in Freetown said the woman, who is an apprentice hairdresser, is a resident of the densely populated area of Wellington in the east of the city.
The Ebola cases in Sierra Leone are centred in the country's eastern districts of Kenema and Kailahun, just over the border from the Guekedou region of Guinea where the outbreak started.
Our reporter says there is increasing anger and confusion over the handling of the outbreak.
Police say thousands of people have taken to the streets of Kenema to protest - thronging to the town's hospital, which treats all Ebola cases in the district.
The father of a nine-year-old boy has told the BBC that his son was shot and injured by police as they tried to put down the angry demonstration, in which he says his son was not involved.
Our reporter says the police have not been able to confirm this as they say they are still busy with operational matters.
Nurses at Kenema hospital went on strike for a day on Monday after three of their colleagues died of suspected Ebola.
Earlier this week, it was announced that the doctor leading Sierra Leone's fight against Ebola was being treated for the virus.
On Thursday, the World Health Organization said that 219 people had died of Ebola in Sierra Leone.
Ebola virus disease (EVD) Symptoms include high fever, bleeding and central nervous system damage Fatality rate can reach 90% Incubation period is two to 21 days There is no vaccine or cure Supportive care such as rehydrating patients who have diarrhoea and vomiting can help recovery Fruit bats are considered to be the natural host of the virus
VIDEO-Underwear bomber's terror plot failed because he wore same pants for TWO WEEKS - Mirror Online
Underwear bomber Umar Abdulmutallab failed in his bid to blow up a transatlantic flight because he had been wearing the same pants for TWO WEEKS, it's been revealed.
Nigerian Abdulmutallab was sentenced to life in prison without parole after he pleaded guilty to the Christmas Day 2009 plot, which saw him board an Amsterdam to Detroit flight with a bomb in his underwear.
Thankfully the explosives failed to fully detonate - something a US security official yesterday claimed was down to how long he had been wearing his pants.
Asked why Abdulmutallab's attempt had failed, John Pistole from the Transportation Security Administration told the Aspen Security Forum: "He had had the device with him for over two weeks."
Jailed for life: Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab His interviewer Catherine Herridge then asked if the device was "damp", to which Pistole replied: "It was degraded... it's efficacy was degraded."
Herridge then quipped: "Thank god for bad hygiene."
Abdulmutallab admitted his attempted attack was inspired by Anwar al-Awlaki, a radical American-born cleric and leading al Qaida figure who was killed by a US drone strike in 2011.
He admitted attempting use of a weapon of mass destruction and attempted murder.
Unacceptably low numbers of teens are getting vaccinated for the human papillomavirus, or HPV, which protects against cervical, throat and mouth cancers, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The CDC recommends boys and girls get three doses of the vaccines starting at age 11 or 12, but a study found in children aged 13 to 17, only 57 percent of girls and 35 percent of boys received at least one dose.
Health officials are blaming pediatricians for the low numbers of vaccinations, saying not enough doctors are recommending the vaccination, so people aren't getting the shots.
For more, watch this Newsy video.
Copyright 2014 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
VIDEO-Rolling Coal: America's political divide reaches the roads [w/videos] - Autoblog
Jason Mendelson was driving his Toyota Prius in the right lane of Interstate 64 near Richmond, Virginia, when a white pickup truck with two protruding smokestacks cut into the lane ahead.
After a few moments, the pickup spewed a torrent of black smoke that enveloped his small car. The pickup sped away. Mendelson didn't think much of the odd interaction until a few minutes later, when the pickup returned and again left him in a cloud of smoke.
"That's when I realized, 'Okay, this was on purpose,'" he said.
Indeed, he was the victim of a practice called "coal rolling" or "rolling coal," which if you're unfamiliar, is the equivalent of farting in someone's vehicular face.
Own a diesel pickup truck, and you can spend somewhere between several hundred to several thousand dollars on modifications that make the vehicle capable of belching towers of black smoke on command, all for the apparent pleasure of leaving fellow drivers or pedestrians choking on a cloud of soot.
Victims aren't usually chosen at random. Rather, coal rollers take particular delight in targeting drivers of green-friendly cars like the Toyota Prius, because rolling coal isn't always mere indiscriminate harassment, but a form of grassroots political protest against President Obama and perceived burdensome federal regulations.
Coal rollers take particular delight in targeting drivers of green-friendly cars like the Toyota Prius.
"I run into a lot of people that don't really like Obama at all," one coal-roller tells Slate, which detailed the practice at length. "If he's into the environment, if he's into this or that, we're not. I hear a lot of that. To get a single stack on my truck '' that's my way of giving them the finger. You want clean air and a tiny carbon footprint? Well, screw you."This isn't the first time that clashes between conservatives and liberals have reached the automotive world. In 2012, one-time Republican leader Newt Gingrich took a swipe at the Chevrolet Volt, declaring on the campaign stump that "you cannot put a gun rack in a Volt." But it may be the first time that politics have been a root cause of everyday harassment of drivers on American roadways.
YouTube is filled with examples of coal rollers providing footage of their brazen pranks (or brazen stupidity, depending on your perspective), many of them with hundreds of thousands of views. In one, a driver with a "Prius Repellent" sticker on his rear window, sends a billowing cloud of black smoke toward the Toyota hybrid behind him. In another, a young driver, under the headline of "This is what I think of hybrid cars," coal-rolls a Ford Fusion Hybrid that belongs to his parents. In another, between goofy giggles, a driver leaves a police cruiser in a black haze. In yet another, a driver doesn't attack a green-car driver, but a friend who happens to be sleeping in the cab of another vehicle '' pranking friends and family is another running theme among coal rollers.
There are countless examples that, collectively, provide an astounding look at the coal-rolling subculture.
In recent days, the Environmental Protection Agency at the center of many coal rollers' angst has issued a statement saying that the modifications that enable rolling coal are illegal. "Tampering with vehicle pollution controls is against the law," an EPA spokesperson tells Autoblog. "Tailpipe pollution, uncontrolled by emissions reduction technology, contains high levels of soot and smog-forming chemicals, which are linked to premature death in people with heart or lung disease, aggravated asthma and other serious, negative health effects."
Out on the road, there are no specific laws that prohibit rolling coal.
The EPA says it has reached settlements with some of the largest manufacturers of defeat-device equipment, and that it aggressively enforces the relevant portions of the Clean Air Act.Out on the road, there are no specific laws that prohibit rolling coal, but there may be indirect traffic violations that result from the practice. Laws vary on a state-by-state basis, but conceivably, cutting off another driver or intentionally impairing their vision could result in a ticket. Some could run afoul of emissions regulations. In the meantime, motorists like Mendelson are left to fend for themselves.
"It's illegal, but who is enforcing that? It would have to happen in front of a cop, so I don't think there's a whole lot that can be done," he said. "When someone pulls in front of you like that, it's a safety risk ... it's also a symptom of a greater underlying problem of intolerance combined with stupidity. It's disturbing that someone feels so threatened that they have to essentially attack someone they don't know, who can't defend themselves, who might not even have the views they think you do."
Today the U.S. government claimed the Russian military is firing artillery into Ukraine and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs said it reminds him of Russia's invasion of Poland in 1939.
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey said Thursday that Russian President Vladimir Putin's new use of Russian military force inside Ukraine harkens back to 1939 when Joseph Stalin led a Russian invasion of Poland, and Dempsey predicted Putin was far from finished.
Dempsey was speaking to the Aspen Security Forum and responding to the news that the U.S. government is accusing the Russian military of firing artillery from Russian territory into eastern Ukraine in support of separatists there. The latest development represents a dangerous escalation of the crisis on the part of Putin, and the Russia-Ukraine crisis is now a global problem, he said.
''It does change the situation. You've got a Russian government that has made a conscious decision to use its military force inside another sovereign nation to achieve its objectives. It's the first time since 1939 or so that that's been the case,'' Dempsey said. ''They clearly are on a path to assert themselves differently not just in Eastern Europe, but Europe in the main, and towards the United States.''
Since 2008, the Russian military has increased its capability, proficiency, and the level of its activities, indicating Putin's worldwide ambitions, Dempsey said. The strategy is Putin's alone, he added, and said much of Russia's military were probably reluctant participants in Putin's war.
''This is very clearly Putin, the man himself, with a vision for Europe as he sees it, what he considers to be an effort to redress grievances that we burdened upon Russia after the fall of the Soviet Union and also to appeal to ethnic Russian enclaves across Eastern Europe,'' he said. ''He's very aggressive about it, he's got a playbook he's been successful with two or three times, and he will continue.''
Following new U.S. and European sanctions on Russia last week and amid harsh international criticism of Russian support for Ukrainian separatists who apparently accidentally shot down a commercial airliner, Putin has not shown any indication that he is responding to the pressure by pulling back, Dempsey said.
''At a time when some folks could convince themselves that Putin would be looking for a reason to de-escalate, he's actually taken a decision to escalate,'' Dempsey said
Joseph Stalin used similar rhetoric and justifications when he invaded Poland in September 1939, only days after Adolf Hitler's Nazi army invaded Poland from the other direction. Stalin and Hitler had signed a secret pact of non-aggression and proposed to carve up Europe between them, but Stalin said his goal was to protect ethnic Russians in his near abroad.
''The Soviet Government cannot regard with indifference the fact that the kindred Ukrainian and White Russian people, who live on Polish territory and who are at the mercy of fate, are now left defenseless,'' read the note from the Soviet Foreign Ministry to the Polish Ambassador to Moscow on the day Stalin invaded.
''Putin may actually light a fire that he loses control over,'' he said. ''There's a rising tide of nationalism in Europe right now that has been created in many ways by these Russian activities.''
Putin has not yet ordered a full-on Russian military invasion of eastern Ukraine, but continues to ship heavy weapons including tanks and rocket launchers to Ukrainian separatists from the Russian military base in Rostov, according to U.S. intelligence officials, along with what Dempsey called a strategy of ''proximate coercion and subversion'' inside Ukraine that is creating dangerous conditions.
''Putin may actually light a fire that he loses control over,'' he said. ''There's a rising tide of nationalism in Europe right now that has been created in many ways by these Russian activities.''
State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf told reporters Thursday that U.S. intelligence showed that the Russian military had now fired artillery from Russia into Ukraine, but she declined to provide any details about the source of the intelligence.
''We have new evidence that the Russians intend to deliver heavier and more powerful, multiple rocket launchers to the separatist forces in Ukraine, and have evidence that Russia is firing artillery from within Russia to attack Ukrainian military positions,'' she said. ''This is just some pieces of info I've been able to get from our intelligence friends for you. I can't tell you what the information is based on. I know that's disappointing to you.''
Mikheil Saakashvili, the former president of Georgia who fought a war against Russia in 2008, told The Daily Beast in an interview that as the Ukrainian government escalates its war on the separatists, Putin is escalating his support of them in proportion, a strategy he has employed since the crisis began.
But although everything was going Putin's way for a while, recently the Ukrainian government has been performing much better, he said, and the downing of MH17, apparently by the separatists, also could lead to more sanctions against Russia. Putin is cornered, according to Saakashvili, which is why he is lashing out.
''Putin's problem is that he is right now on the verge of military defeat. So he has two choices right now, neither of them good,'' Saakashvili said. ''He could move in his troops, after which he would become an international pariah with no certain outcome. The second choice he has is to live with military defeat, but that could trigger a process inside Russia that he can no longer control'... Putin cannot afford to lose.''
VIDEO-Eleanor Holmes Norton says 'you don't have a right to know' what's going on in government | WashingtonExaminer.com
Eleanor Holmes Norton, the non-voting congressional representative for the District of Columbia, angrily sputtered during a congressional hearing Friday that the White House should not be held up to scrutiny, saying that there was no right to know what it was doing behind closed doors.
"You don't have a right to know everything in a separation-of-powers government, my friend. That is the difference between a parliamentary government and a separation-of-powers government," Norton said during a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing.
It was, to put mildly, a significant departure from the more traditional liberal stance that openness and transparency are must to prevent abuses of power by government officials. Instead the leading advocate for statehood for the District of Columbia literally argued that even the congressional committee charged with oversight shouldn't be asking questions in the first place.
She made the comments while protesting the committee's Republican majority for voting to ignore a claim by the White House that David Simas, director of it's Office of Political Strategy and Outreach, was immune to a congressional subpoena to testify. Republicans believe the office is being used a political campaign operation, a violation of federal election law.
Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., noted he was not alleging any wrongdoing by Simas, but there was a history of violations involving that particular office in prior administrations that justified requesting his testimony.
Under President Obama, the White House has asserted sweeping executive powers, including the right to ignore pretty much all congressional inquiries. The administration has regularly ignored subpoenas from congressional committees.
Holmes was clearly down with that. She called Issa's subpoena a "showcase fishing expedition." She went on to argue that the Constitution's separation of powers specifically gives the people who work directly under the chief executive immunity from subpoenas. "The president's immediate advisor is not an agency and this is not a matter of policy," she said, before going to further clarify that we "don't have a right to know" everything that the administration does.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., top ranking Democrat on the Oversight Committee, thanked Holmes for her comments.
"I associate myself with your comments," Cummings added, thus making it clear that he doesn't believe the public has right to know what is going on inside the White House either.
VIDEO-Israeli Ambassador REAMS OUT CNN for not reporting UN statement that says Hamas makes UN schools a target >> The Right Scoop -
Israeli Ambassador to the US, Ron Dermer, reamed out CNN host Erin Burnett for CNN showing split-screens of dead and injured children for 2 hours, showing reports from their reporter in Gaza, while not once mentioning the fact that just yesterday the UN Secretary General issued a statement warning people that Hamas is storing weapons in these UN schools and thus making them a target.
Demer hits hard from the beginning of the interview and doesn't let up until it's over.
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VIDEO-Letterman Calls on SEAL Team Six to Kill 'Psychopath' Putin | Mediaite
The fact that Russian President Vladimir Putin could have had a hand in bringing down Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over Ukraine and could escape any major consequences is seriously bothering David Letterman. Last night, during a discussion about the incident with CBS This Morning host Norah O'Donnell, the Late Show host proposed a solution for how the U.S. should handle Putin: Send in SEAL Team Six.
The ''stern warning'' and sanctions that O'Donnell said the U.S. has delivered to Russia in the aftermath of the crash did not seem to be enough for Letterman, who was visibly frustrated and wanted more action. But then, playing devil's advocate, he also brought up the Iranian passenger jet that the U.S. admitted to shooting down in 1988, but for which the country never apologized.
''As outraged as we are, we ourselves are guilty of the same horrific nonsense,'' Letterman said, asking O'Donnell how that scenario was any different.
''I think it's a good question,'' O'Donnell said, after a lengthy pause, not exactly offering up specific differences. Letterman just shook his head as O'Donnell said the U.S. reaching a ''turning point'' in its relationship with Russia.
''We've just not come through 12 years of war that the United States has been committed to,'' Letterman said. ''This smells like war, but we're not going to have another war. This is a job for SEAL Team Six. Call them and kill the guy.''
While his audience eagerly applauded that sentiment, a slightly horrified-looking O'Donnell said, ''You're not advocating violence.''
''He's a psychopath!'' Letterman exclaimed. ''He doesn't care, he just couldn't care less. A sanction? What does he care?''
Watch video below, via CBS:
[Photo via screengrab]
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VIDEO-Sherrie Questioning All: Hacked Email from U.S. Army Attache in Ukraine - For False Flags to occur so U.S. can take military action against Russia
Putin is a big thorn in the U.S. side and they want to do something about him. The U.S. created the problem in Ukraine to be able to control the country and the resources. The U.S. was/is behind the revolution due to them wanting the President out who was pro Russia and not Europe.
The U.S. and Western governments inserted a Pro-European acting President. That President even called on the U.S. giving them nuclear weapons a couple of days ago.
First paragraph of article:
KIEV, Ukraine '-- Ukraine may have to arm itself with nuclear weapons if the United States and other world powers refuse to enforce a security pact that obligates them to reverse the Moscow-backed takeover of Crimea, a member of the Ukraine parliament told USA TODAY.
The U.S. media is acting as if Russia invaded the country, when in reality the U.S. is the one who invaded the country before Russia. Russia is only protecting their assets in Crimea.The U.S. went in and got all of Ukraine's gold reserves and flew it to the U.S. for 'safe keeping'.
A source in the Ukrainian government confirmed that the transfer of the gold reserves of Ukraine to the United States was ordered by the acting PM Arseny Yatsenyuk.
Now, if anyone is willing to read the TRUTH about Ukraine and the history of what is happening and why, this article details the TRUTH about the situation. It is a long article but it is worth the read, because it is of course about the resources that Ukraine has and how the Western governments want those, besides to in dept the country through IMF loans. Russia was staying out of Ukraine's problems overall, until they got forced into it, with the U.S. causing the revolution.Remember China has come out and blamed the U.S. for what is happening in Ukraine.
We know how the U.S. will create false flags so they can do a military action, just like they tried in Syria, with the chemical attack that was really caused by Saudi Arabia.
A Jason Gresh emails were hacked, he is the Assistant Army Attache at the U.S. embassy in Ukraine. The emails discuss setting up bombs and a false flag to blame Russia. As he says in the email, so "the Pentagon and Company can act."
What he means by company, I would love to know. What company is this? The U.S. government? Is that the 'company' he means?
Video with the hacked email from Jason Gresh to the acting Ukraine PM assistant:
Link to emails
((UPDATE 3/13/14 - Ukraine Anonymous hacked the emails -link to emails file share download: https://shared.com/pj5ayc9im8?s=l
http://depositfiles.com/files/nsj5poqlb - I have opened up the file. There are lots of emails in it from the people involved. For those not believing the hacked emails, just look at the files. All of their emails were gotten. These are real. Also Silence says a lot from the media and governments.Image at top in one of the emails, I got from when I downloaded the file share.))Translated Emails from Ukrainian to English below video:)
Email from Jason Gresh:
Events are moving rapidly in Crimea. Our friends in Washington expect more decisive actions from your network.I think it's time to implement the plan we discussed lately. Your job is to cause some problems to the transport hubs in the south-east in order to frame-up the neighbor.It will create favorable conditions for Pentagon and the Company to act.Do not waste time, my friend.Jason P. GreshLieutenant Colonel, U.S. ArmyAssistant Army Attach(C)U.S. Embassy, KyivTankova 4, Kyiv, Ukraine 04112(380-44) 521 '' 5444 | Fax (380-44) 521 '' 5636TRANSLATED EMAILS IN VIDEO AND FROM LINK - UKRAINIAN TO ENGLISH: ALL ABOUT DOING A FALSE FLAG. EMAIL TO IGOR FROM UKRAINE OFFICIALOleg , an urgent need poshumity on behalf of Russians at the airport in Melitopol. This should be done by March 15 . Sam understands why.First of all you must contact Pasha Tarasenko. You must know him , he is a local Liberty and has a theme.Before you arrive 10-12 boys from the Centre. Top fighters Trident . Chief Mike there , you should know it too . Details will know him. We need people to meet and provide everything you need.Proceed with caution. Speak only Russian. 25 team is executing combat missions , so do not do them much damage to aircraft . There is a lot of scrap metal, with it you can do anything . Damaged aircraft you specify. It is essential that all was as real attack neighbor's Special Forces. But without corpses.Give me again your account. The money will come in time, do not worry.See the appendix . This is an example of action. Decisions are made in person.Basil , you must quickly carry out proactive in Melitopol. There's 25 aviation brigade . Must zamaraty our sworn friends and good neighbors. I think you understand me.Just proceed carefully and cautiously. 25 brigade combat mission out , so do not do them much damage to aircraft . There is already damaged aircraft , that He can do everything. Yihny board numbers you give. Remember , you need everythingto be as real attack of the Russian Special Forces.Brigade commander there is a reasonable man . Details of know he will not, but in extreme cases it can turn to. We did come.Who Igor is:COL Igor PROTSYKChief, Bilateral Military Cooperation DivisionMain Directorate for Military Cooperation and PKOGeneral Staff, Armed Forces of Ukrainetel +38044 481-5407cell +38067 407 97 40e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org: email@example.comUpdate - PressTV has an article about it out today 3/13/14 with the picture I have at top.
VIDEO-Russian oligarchs shift assets out of London as sanctions loom - Telegraph
No'10 refused to say which oligarchs were being targeted because of the risk of ''asset flight''.
David Cameron welcomed the EU agreement but the Prime Minister called on European countries including France and Germany ''to do more'' and agree the toughest possible economic penalties against Russia as a whole. EU officials will meet on Thursday to discuss imposing ''Tier 3 sanctions'' that could include blocks on financial services as well as trade and energy exports.
Asked whether oligarchs were already moving assets out of London, the Prime Minister's official spokesman said: ''The measures that have been taken with regard to individuals and entities has got a correlation with some of the financial flows we have seen across Europe including here in London. That's certainly the case.''
Mark Rutte, the Dutch prime minister, announced on Tuesday that a train carrying some of the passengers and crew killed last Thursday '' which included 10 Britons '' had arrived in the Ukrainian government-controlled city of Kharkiv. The first bodies have now been flown to Holland.
VIDEO-CDC director warns of 'post-antibiotic era' | TheHill
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warns that the government needs to take immediate action before we live in a world where life-saving antibiotics are no longer effective.
''Every day we delay it becomes harder and more expensive to fix this problem,'' said CDC Director Thomas Frieden Tuesday.
Frieden says the healthcare system needs to improve how it detects patients with drug-resistant infections, controls the spread of such infections, prevents them from happening in the first place and incentivizes drugmakers to develop new antibiotics.
''We talk about the pre-antibiotic era and the antibiotic era; if we're not careful we will soon be in the post-antibiotic era,'' he said. ''And, in fact, for some patients and some pathogens we're already there.''The CDC is launching a new system this week that lets hospitals track all the antibiotics dispensed and look at real-time patterns of antibiotic resistance, so doctors can narrow down which antibiotics are most likely to work.
Frieden warns that 23,000 Americans die from drug-resistant infections annually. He also said hundreds of thousands of cancer patients rely on antibiotics after chemotherapy because their immune systems become compromised.
Even though Congress has passed laws to give drugmakers more incentives to develop new antibiotics, such as longer patent exclusivities and faster pathways to get their drugs on the market, they have been reluctant.
''From a strictly business standpoint, the terrible thing about antibiotics is they cure people,'' Frieden said. ''That's not a model for a highly lucrative pharmaceutical product '-- you want a product that has to be taken for a long, long time.''
He said the government needs to work with the industry to come up with even more incentives to push antibiotic research and development.
The CDC says every hospital should have an ''antibiotic stewardship program'' that tracks how antibiotics are used to try minimize overuse of the drugs, which can lead to drug resistance.
''We've done a study that says about a third of all antibiotics used in this country are either unnecessary or inappropriate,'' Frieden said.
Frieden also touted an initiative in the president's budget to develop regional centers that would cost $150 million over five years. The centers would advise doctors if their patients have a drug-resistant infection faster and develop a bank of drug-resistant bacteria that drugmakers can use to develop new antibiotics.
VIDEO-Fistfight breaks out in the Ukrainian parliament - UPI.com
KIEV, Ukraine, July 22 (UPI) --Members of the Ukrainian parliament came to blows Tuesday after a disagreement escalated between the Svoboda (Freedom) party and the Regions party over the conflict in Donetsk.The fight came after the Svoboda party recommended the mobilization of more troops to the Ukrainian border to fight the pro-Russian separatists. Oleg Tiagnybok of the Svoboda party reacted to Regions party member Yuri Levcheko's accusation that the Svoboda party "kills its citzens" causing the altercation to come to punches.
This is not the first time a fistfight has broken out in the legislative body of the Ukrainian government. In April, a fight occurred after the parties started blaming each other for the escalating unrest in the region.
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VIDEO-Francois Hollande hits back at David Cameron attacking France selling warships to Russia | Mail Online
Prime Minister insists all EU countries must accept impact of sanctionsFinancial curbs would hit London while others would be affected by energyCameron says it would be 'unthinkable' for France to sell warships to RussiaEU foreign ministers meet in Brussels to discuss tougher sanctionsPhilip Hammond warns 'the world has changed' since MH17 plane crash By Matt Chorley, Mailonline Political Editor and James Chapman
Published: 04:07 EST, 22 July 2014 | Updated: 02:20 EST, 23 July 2014
France branded the British as 'hypocrites' yesterday over David Cameron's demands that Paris abandon its £1billion warship sale to Russia.
The Prime Minister says it would be 'unthinkable' for French president Francois Hollande to go ahead with the supply of two helicopter carriers to Moscow.
European leaders have been under intense pressure to impose tough sanctions on Russian '' or risk repeating the mistakes of Nazi appeasers in the 1930s.
But Mr Hollande has vowed to press on with the deal, with an ally warning Mr Cameron that he should 'start by cleaning up his own back yard'.
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French President Francois Hollande has vowed to press ahead with selling warships to Russia, despite criticism from David Cameron
Mr Cameron is pushing for tougher sanctions against Russian President Vladimir Putin and his 'cronies' in attempt to force Moscow to reign in separatists in eastern Ukraine
Tribute to the victims: Barack Obama visits the Dutch Embassy in Washington to sign a book of condolence
Asked on Monday whether France should pull out, Mr Cameron said: 'Frankly in this country it would be unthinkable to fulfil an order like the one outstanding that the French have.
'But we need to put the pressure on with all our partners to say that we cannot go on doing business as usual with a country when it is behaving in this way.'
In response, Jean-Christophe Cambadelis, head of Hollande's ruling Socialist Party, said: 'Hollande is not backing down. He is delivering the first (ship) despite the fact he is being asked not to.
'This is a false debate led by hypocrites. When you see how many (Russian) oligarchs have sought refuge in London, David Cameron should start by cleaning up his own back yard.'
David Cameron should start by cleaning up his own backyard
head of France's Socialist Party
Tougher sanctions have been proposed in an attempt to force Mr Putin to rein in the separatists in eastern Ukraine.
After an emergency summit in Brussels, Mr Cameron hailed an agreement in principle to widen measures against Mr Putin's 'cronies' and to consider targeting Russia's defence sector.
But Lithuania's president reflected growing anger in former Soviet countries at the failure of EU leaders to move decisively following the downing of flight MH17.
'If European states keep on acting so indecisively, this is a direct invitation for the aggressor to be more aggressive and go further,' said Dalia Grybauskaite, condemning France for pressing ahead with the Mistral sale.
New British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond (right) speaks to Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski at a Foreign Affairs Council meeting at the EU Council headquarters in Brussels
Foreign Secretary: 'EU must send clear signal to Russia'
HOW RICH RUSSIANS BOUGHT UP LONDON'S HOMES... AND FOOTBALL Russian President Vladimir Putin last year teased David Cameron about the influx of wealthy foreigners into London.
Britain was dismissed as 'a small island' by his spokesman, who claimed nobody pays attention to it '' except of course the Russian 'oligarchs who have bought Chelsea'.
That does not mean that every wealthy Russian in London now faces the prospect of sanctions.
But it does raise questions about the UK government's willingness to accept their millions into the Treasury's coffers.
Chelsea FC owner Roman Abramovich is probably the best known Russian billionaire in the capital, worth an estimated £6.4billion.Uzbek-born Russian businessman Alisher Usmanov, worth £10.7billion, has a 30 per cent stake in Arsenal football club in North London.Len Blavatnik, worth £10billion, is a Russian-born oil billionaire who in 2004 bought a group of former Soviet Embassy buildings in Kensington Palace Gardens, creating a house surrounded by a 30ft wall and guarded 24/7 by armed staff.Billionaire Boris Berezovsky, who died last year, was a fierce critic of Putin. He sought exile in London as part of a campaign to expose allegations against the Russian President.Banker Lubov Chernukhin is married to Vladimir Chernukhin, who was Russia's deputy finance minister during Vladimir Putin's first term as Russian President. Last month she paid £160,000 to play tennis against David Cameron.Billionaire banker Andrei Borodin and his model wife Tatanya Korsakova, own Britain's most expensive home, the £140 million Park Place, near Henley-on-Thames. Russian banker George Piskov has previously donated £17,378 to the Tories'In the 1930s, Nazism wasn't stopped, and now aggressive Russian chauvinism isn't stopped and that resulted in the attack against a civilian plane.'
Yesterday, the EU threatened Moscow with broad economic sanctions if it failed to muzzle pro-Russian separatists fomenting chaos in Ukraine '' but stopped short of any immediate action to punish the Kremlin.
Philip Hammond, Britain's new Foreign Secretary, had called for an immediate arms embargo, while Britain and Germany also brandished lists of names of pro-Putin individuals and firms they want targeted.
EU foreign ministers agreed to draft a new set of names by tomorrow to be added to the 63 individuals and entities already targeted.
The latest move could mean a big increase in asset freezes and travel bans.
EU leaders also agreed to prepare further options, including a potential arms embargo and broader sanctions against Russia's energy and financial sectors.
Many of Russia's billionaire businessmen are said to be 'horrified' at the prospect of crippling economic sanctions but are too terrified of Mr Putin to say so openly.
There was a suggestion last night that the threat of sanctions is already having an impact on Russian oligarchs.
Asked if there was any evidence of assets being moved out of London, the Prime Minister's official spokesman said: 'The measures which have been taken with regard to individuals and entities has got a correlation with some of the financial flows we have seen across Europe, including here in London.
'That's certainly the case.'
Of the Brussels talks, Mr Cameron said: 'We are making progress.
'Other countries of Europe can now see that this lethal cocktail of allowing weapons and armed personnel to go into eastern Ukraine and support separatists has ended in this appalling tragedy.'
Mr Putin last night declared that Russia would strengthen its military capability to 'counter Nato activity' in Eastern Europe.
Cameron threatens Putin with tougher sanctions
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VIDEO-Ukraine MPs come to blows while fighting rages in east | euronews, world news
Ukraine's parliament descended into chaos after a politician took issue with criticism of Russia over the MH17 plane crash and accused Kyiv of waging war on Ukrainian people.
The comments came from Mykola Levchenko, from the Party of Regions of former president Viktor Yanukovych. He was pushed off the rostrum by Ihor Miroshychenko of the far-right Svoboda party, and a melee ensued.
The elected deputies did manage to approve a presidential decree calling up more military reserves to serve in the east, where fighting with pro-Russian rebels has continued.
The authorities in Kyiv say several towns including Severodonetsk, with a population of 100,000, have been retaken by government forces after being in separatist hands.
In Donetsk civilians have been reported killed in shelling, and desperate people have been fleeing after more clashes.
''I never thought the Ukrainian authorities would kill us Ukrainians,'' said one woman named as Larisa, speaking from a residential area in the city's northwest.
With explosions happening every few minutes, fire raged after an old factory was hit.
Ukrainian troops have forced pro-Russian rebels back to their two main strongholds of Donetsk and Luhansk, where troops are said by one security official in Kyiv to be closing in.
VIDEO-Microsoft's Mass Layoffs Capture the Attention of the U.S. Senate | Cloud content from Windows IT Pro
Is what's good for Microsoft, equally good for American workers?
Throughout the past week, we've heard from analysts and investors about how the mass Microsoft layoff is a good thing. And, from an industry perspective, it should be. Of course, it will take some time to see the full effect, but already stock prices are rising and the company is getting positive reviews. Satya Nadella may be leading an old charge, left over from the Ballmer days, but the way the new CEO brandishes it, it looks new and fresh. Microsoft seems to have renewed vigor and a bit of a swagger. It sort of reminds me of the opening intro for Saturday Night Fever where Tony Manero (played by John Travolta) struts down the Brooklyn sidewalk to the tune of the Bee Gee's Stayin' Alive. I half expect Satya to walk out on stage much the same way.
But, amid the new look and feel, there's a couple problems.
It's easy to look at a number like 18,000 (the eventual total sum of layoffs) and just lump it into a single unit without piecing it apart and realizing there's a bunch of actual people inside. In fact, it's probably more comfortable for most to do so. It helps overcome the human aspect.
Part of the reason for the layoffs, obviously, is cost cutting. Satya inherited a business (Nokia) that he was against and didn't want. But, those being laid-off in Redmond seems to be more about culture change and change of direction.
So, it's important to realize that Microsoft isn't dumping employees just to curb costs '' the company is still actively hiring. It's estimated that for Redmond alone, there are currently over 3,200 open positions. Some of those will be filled by those who have already received pink slips from their current positions '' at least those that want to reapply to work elsewhere in the company '' but, that still leaves a significant vacancy if Microsoft still intends to fill those positions. A friend that made the cut noted recently that it felt strange to watch so many exiting while a room full of new hires were being educated on company policy.
It's not surprising that this has caught the eye of the U.S. Senate. In an almost 7 minute statement, Senator Jeff Sessions (R-Ala) questioned how Microsoft could lay-off 18,000 people yet still be at the fore for requesting that H1-B visa allowances be doubled.
H1-B is a non-immigrant visa that allows foreign workers to receive special occupation privileges in the United States. These workers are not citizens, they simply receive a special pass to take a job for up to 3 years. H1-B visa holders are, in effect, temporary citizens of the United States. Some go on to request citizenship, but many go back to their country of origin only to apply for another H1-B visa and then return to the same job after period of time.
Sessions' problem with it is that there's fear that those jobs left open in Redmond will be filled with foreign workers and not U.S. workers. He's concerned that Microsoft is firing employees but appealing for more foreign workers. Sessions' responsibility is to the American-supplied workforce and he would like to see American workers honored before doubling H1-B visas. Obviously, the Senator wasn't well enough informed to know that the majority of those 18,000 workers were actually based in other countries, but he's right in addressing the overall issue.
Based on the U.S. Census Bureau, there are enough American workers to fill the positions. The agency's reports show that there are three-fourths of Americans with STEM degrees (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) that currently don't have jobs in their field. Additionally, it's noted that those with H1-B visas are filling as many as half of all new technology-related jobs each year. And, it's not as if American workers demand more money. As Sessions' states in his speech, IT workers' salaries have not risen in 14 years.
I've talked with a few sources at Microsoft who would never go on record about the H1-B visas issues, but only discuss it privately, and they say some have attempted to lobby for more American workers, but whenever it's brought up, is considered bordering on being, well, racist. Go figure.
Sesssion' ends his Senate address by wondering where interest actually lies, and promising the his intent is to represent the United States of America when considering any change in H1-B visa policy.
Take a listen and let me know what you think'...
VIDEO-Oklahoma City bombing video trial to begin next week in Utah | fox13now.com
SALT LAKE CITY '-- A trial over videotapes that purport to show the 1995 bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City will begin here next week.
Jesse Trentadue is suing the CIA and FBI, demanding the agencies release surveillance video of the bombing that killed 168. But the federal government claims the tapes don't exist anymore.
Read Trentadue's lawsuit against the government:
The trial is tied to Trentadue's lawsuit against the federal government over the death of his brother, Kenneth, who died in a prison cell in Oklahoma in 1995. The federal government claimed Kenneth Trentadue's death was a suicide. Jesse Trentadue said his brother's corpse had bruises and lacerations.
''It's obvious he's been tortured and murdered,'' Jesse Trentadue told FOX 13 News in a 2001 interview.
Jesse Trentadue has said the FBI believed at the time Kenneth may have been a co-conspirator in the Oklahoma City bombing. Trentadue won a wrongful death lawsuit that is currently under appeal by the federal government.
Monday's trial will be focused solely on the videotapes. Jesse Trentadue filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit.
''What this lawsuit is about is just evidence only,'' said Tanya Peters, a civil litigation attorney not involved in the case. ''The questions are, number one: Does evidence exist? Number two: Has the FBI done a reasonable and diligent search for this evidence, and number three: if they found it, did they produce it? They say it doesn't exist.''
Read the Justice Department response to Trentadue's FOIA lawsuit here:
In a court filing, Trentadue has claimed there is information the tapes exist. He claims FBI agents once tried to sell a surveillance tape for $1 million.
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14.18 A fuller passenger list has been published by official Algerian news agency APS.
The list of passengers includes 51 French, 27 Burkina Faso nationals, eight Lebanese, six Algerians, five Canadians, four Germans, two Luxemburg nationals, one Swiss, one Belgium, one Egyptian, one Ukrainian, one Nigerian, one Cameroonian and one Malian, Burkina Faso Transport Minister Jean Bertin Ouedraogo reportedly said.
However, AFP is reporting that "at least 20" passengers were Lebanese.
The six crew members are Spanish, according to the Spanish pilots' union.
14.14 Fiona Govan reports from Madrid, Spain with the latest on the fate of AH5017, which was owned and staffed by the Spanish firm Swiftair:
Swiftair confirmed that the two pilots and four cabin crew are all Spanish, and said that contact had been lost with the plane 50 minutes after it took off from Burkina Faso this morning for Algiers.
The company said it was trying to establish the nationalities of those on board and were coordinating with the Spanish foreign ministry.
"At this moment we have emergency teams and company personnel working 'to establish what happened and as soon as we know more details we will release new statements," it said in a statement, according to Spanish websites.
According to Algeria media reserves of kerosene on the plane could have run out after an hour.
Spain's ministry for development and transport 'has called a crisis cabinet and is in touch with the company and authorities in Burkino Faso, Mali and Algeria.
Jose Manuel Margallo, Spain's foreign minister described the situation as "confusing" and is in touch with his Algerian counterpart Ramatane Lamama, as well as the Spanish prime minister.
Speaking on an office visit to Tunisia he said "the situation is very confused."
14.11 "I can confirm that it has crashed," the unnamed Algerian official who spoke to Reuters has said, declining to give details of where the plane was or what caused the accident.
13.57 An Algerian aviation official has told Reuters the plane has crashed.
No more details are currently available on the location, but Niger security sources say planes are flying over its border with Mali to search for the plane.
13.51 Swiftair, which owned and staffed the plane, has a relatively clean safety record, with five accidents since 1977, two of which caused a total of eight deaths, according to the Washington-based Flight Safety Foundation.
Air Algerie's last major accident was in 2003 when one of its planes crashed shortly after take-off from the southern city of Tamanrasset, killing 102 people. In February this year, 77 people died when an Algerian military transport plane crashed into a mountain in eastern Algeria.
13.45 French fighter jets based in the region have been dispatched to try to locate the missing plane, French army spokesman Gilles Jaron has said.
Two Mirage 2000 jets based in Africa were dispatched to try to locate the Air Algerie plane that disappeared on Thursday.
They will search an area from its last known destination along its probable route.
13.42 David Millward explains why a Spanish-owned plane was being operated by an Algerian airline:
The aircraft was "wet leased" by Air Algerie from Swiftair [a Spanish airline company], which supplied both aircraft and crew. The practice of wet leasing is common in the industry. British Airways wet-leased a number of aircraft during the 2010 cabin crew dispute to maintain services.
13.30 There may have been as many as 80 French passengers on board AH5017, "airport sources" in Algeria have told EFE.
13.25 The Telegraph's David Millward, former transport editor, has been following events from the US:
David Soucie, a former investigator with the Federal Aviation Administration, has told CNN: ''There is no reason to think there is anything mechanically wrong with the plane. There is some reason that it flew over restricted airspace.''
Speaking on CNN he adds that field could have been an issue when the pilot had to make a decision what route should be taken to avoid the storm.
13.19 Mike Pflanz reports for The Telegraph from Nairobi:
A European diplomat in Ouagadougou said that there was limited information available from the country's civil aviation authorities, but that he had been briefed that the aircraft left Burkina Faso airspace and had continued as planned over Malian territory.
There were reportedly many French citizens on the flight, which was likely to be routed over territory that was in the hands of al-Qaeda's affiliates in northern Mali until France intervened to push them out in 2013.
Despite this, the European diplomat said that there was no suggestion he had heard that the aircraft could have been specifically targeted by anti-French Islamist forces from the ground.
13.07 Amid conflicting reports about the missing plane's movements, here is a roundup of what we have heard so far.
- Flight AH5017 set off from Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, toward Algiers, Algeria, at 0117 local time [02.17am UK time].
- It flew northward, into Mali airspace.
- Burkina Faso air traffic control handed over to the control tower in Niamey, Niger, just across the border from Mali, at 1:38am local time [02.38 UK time].
- At around this time AH5017 was asked to change route because of a storm.
- The last contact Algerian authorities had with the missing Air Algerie aircraft was at 01.55am [02.55am UK time] when it was flying over Gao, Mali.
- Niger air traffic controllers have reportedly said their said last contact with the flight was just after 4:30am local time (04.30am UK), suggesting it may have entered Niger air space, though this is yet unconfirmed
12.58 Burkina Faso authorities have set up a crisis unit in Ouagadougou airport to provide information to families of people on the flight, reports Reuters.
A diplomat in the Malian capital Bamako said that the north of the country - which lies on the plane's likely flight path - was struck by a powerful sandstorm overnight.
Issa Saly Maiga, head of Mali's National Civil Aviation Agency, said that a search was under way for the missing flight.
"We do not know if the plane is Malian territory," he told Reuters. "Aviation authorities are mobilised in all the countries concerned - Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger, Algeria and even Spain."
12.56 The Air Algerie flight disappeared over northern Mali, France's transport minister has confirmed.
12.54 Fifty French people were on board according the plane's passenger list, an Air Algerie representative in Burkina Faso has told Reuters.
12.51 The missing Air Algerie flight AH5017 was asked to change route at 01.38 (02.38 UK time) because of a storm, the Burkina Faso transport minister has said.
However, it has also been reported that air traffic controllers in both Algerian and Niger had contact with it later.
12.42 "There were likely French people on board, and if there were French people on board there were certainly many of them," Frederic Cuvillier, France's transport minister, has told reporters.
12.33 The first details on the 110 passengers on board flight AH5017 - the French transport minister has said that "likely many" French citizens would have been on board the flight, which has disappeared.
12.28 More details are emerging of the final minutes of contact with the plane.
An Algerian aviation official has told Reuters that the last contact Algerian authorities had with the missing Air Algerie aircraft was at 0155 GMT (02.55am UK time) when it was flying over Gao, Mali.
Aviation authorities in Burkina Faso say they handed the flight to the control tower in Niamey, Niger, at 1:38am local time (02.38 UK time). They said last contact with the flight was just after 4:30am local time (04.30 UK).
12.22 More reports are emerging that the flight was asked to change course midflight in order to avoid the path of another plane, again unconfirmed.
12.19 Chinese state television is now reporting that the plane has crashed in Niger. It has not yet been possible to verify this information.
12.07 This map, based on information from the Federal Aviation Administration and International Civil Aviation Organisation, depicts how Mali is considered by US airlines to be one of the world's "high risk" flight zones.
Burkina Faso is the country directly south of Mali - Algeria is directly north of the country.
11.58 Following early reports of poor visibility, Mali is at the end of its dry season, during which the harmattan, a dry, hot wind that blows from the east out of the Sahara, "sweeps the soil into dusty whirlwinds and is accompanied by daytime temperatures of about 104 to 113 °F (40 to 45 °C)", accoridng to Encyclopaedia Britannica.
The weather in Mali today is described as "mostly cloudy".
11.48 Air Algerie has confirmed via its Twitter feed that contact was lost 50 minutes into the flight, and has provided a crisis contact.
The tweet translates as "The aircraft took off at 1:55. 50 minutes after we have not heard from the aircraft. Spanish plane Crisis Staff @AeroportAlger"
11.46 Flight AH5017 was in Malian air space approaching the border with Algeria when contact was lost, a source from Air Algerie has reportedly told AFP.
The plane was not far from the Algerian frontier when the crew was asked to make a detour because of poor visibility and to prevent the risk of collision with another aircraft on the Algiers-Bamako route.
Contact was lost after the change of course.
11.35 Air Algerie has tweeted the following message, which translates to "Currently we have no news of VolAH5017. Thank you"
11.32 The missing airplane is owned by Spanish private airline Swiftair, and operated by Air Algerie, according to Reuters:
Spanish private airline company Swiftair on Thursday said it had lost contact with one of its airplane operated by Air Algerie with 110 passengers and six crew members on board.
The company said in a notice posted on its website that the aircraft took off from Burkina Faso at 0117 local time [02.17am UK time] and was supposed to land in Algiers at 0510 local time but never reached its destination.
11.27 Mali - the shortest flight path for AH5017 - is currently considered a "high risk" flight zone by US airlines, according to this Wall Street Journal graphic.
However, a senior French official has told AP it is unlikely that fighters in Mali had weaponry that could shoot down a plane:
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because she was not authorized to speak for attribution, said the fights have shoulder-fired weapons which could not hit an aircraft at cruising altitude.
General view of Ouagadougou in Burkina Faso (NEIL COOPER/ALAMY)
11.25 Contact was lost with the plane some time after 01.55GMT (02.55 UK), according the official Algerian news agency.
"In keeping with procedures, Air Algerie has launched its emergency plan," the agency quoted the airline as saying.
11.22 The flight code was AH5017, according to AP, and originated in the Burkina Faso capital city of Ouagadougou.
Ougadougou is in a nearly straight line south of Algiers, passing over Mali where unrest continues in the north.
11.16 Air Algerie is the national airline of Algeria, flying to 28 countries including the United Kingdom.
It is not yet clear what route the plane was taking when it went missing, but would most likely have been flying over either Mali or Niger.
11.10 A plane carrying 110 passengers from Burkina Faso to Algeria has gone missing, according to reports. The plane was an Air Algerie aircraft, and lost contact with air traffic controllers 50 minutes after takeoff.