F-Russia / Ukraine / Syria
Yatsenyuk Resigns as Ukraine's Premier After Coalition Dissolves - Bloomberg
Thu, 24 Jul 2014 21:52
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 firstname.lastname@example.org; Daryna Krasnolutska in Kiev at email@example.com
To contact the editors responsible for this story: Balazs Penz at firstname.lastname@example.org Scott Rose, Eddie Buckle
Ukraine's Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk says he is resigning amid government turmoil | National Post
Thu, 24 Jul 2014 21:50
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
Fri, 25 Jul 2014 06:15
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.
Follow @ZeitchikLAT on Twitter
Copyright (C) 2014, Los Angeles TimesJuly 24, 6:37 p.m.: This article has been updated throughout with new details.
Psaki is running joke in Russia
TTIP is very important now. Means OPEN to USA and CLOSED to Aisa
Germany does not want this
Landmass division = Iran/Syria/Georgia/Chechnya
UK leaving the EU is part of this game
Venezuela Receives US$18 Billion of Chinese Financing, Signs 38 Accords
Fri, 25 Jul 2014 06:38
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.
Published on Jul 22nd 2014 at 5.38pm
Keeping Putin's Hands Off Argentina's Oil
Sun, 27 Jul 2014 06:18
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
Sun, 27 Jul 2014 06:28
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.
Putin Visit to Serbia to Focus on Gas
Fri, 25 Jul 2014 06:23
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
Fri, 25 Jul 2014 05:41
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
Fri, 25 Jul 2014 06:20
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
Fri, 25 Jul 2014 07:26
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
Fri, 25 Jul 2014 07:39
By Tsvetelia Tsolova and Angel Krasimirov
SOFIAWed Jul 23, 2014 1:25pm EDT
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)
Link thisShare thisDigg thisEmailPrintReprints
New German-Polish gas pipeline online by 2018?
Fri, 25 Jul 2014 07:39
PR dla Zagranicy
John Beauchamp 23.07.2014 12:28
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
Sun, 27 Jul 2014 13:55
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
Sun, 27 Jul 2014 13:48
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
Sun, 27 Jul 2014 13:47
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
Fri, 25 Jul 2014 07:50
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)
South Stream pipeline crucial for Serbia:
Fri, 25 Jul 2014 07:50
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
Fri, 25 Jul 2014 07:50
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
Ukraine economy hit by crisis: IMF
Fri, 25 Jul 2014 07:38
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
Fri, 25 Jul 2014 07:50
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.
Announcement To Readers
Since 1995, the Kyiv Post has been the world's window on Ukraine. Please support the newspaper's quality, independent journalism with a digital subscription. Subscribers receive unlimited access to all stories, archives and PDFs from the Kyiv Post's staff writers and news services.More info.
12 months1 month$50.00Pay$20.00Pay
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
Sun, 27 Jul 2014 06:14
The European Parliament,
'' 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
Sat, 26 Jul 2014 21:53
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.
Average:Your rating: NoneAverage: 4.9(46 votes)
EU's planned sanctions against Russia to hit South Stream, Yamal LNG
Sun, 27 Jul 2014 06:12
By Henning Gloystein and Barbara Lewis
LONDON/BRUSSELSThu Jul 24, 2014 11:01am EDT
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)
Link thisShare thisDigg thisEmailPrintReprints
KNVB asked to boycott Russia, 2018 World Cup
Fri, 25 Jul 2014 07:45
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
Sun, 27 Jul 2014 06:07
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.
Fri, 25 Jul 2014 07:35
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'
Fri, 25 Jul 2014 07:16
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
Sun, 27 Jul 2014 06:21
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.
Scroll down for video
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.'
Share or comment on this article
EUobserver / German, Dutch firms ready to take hit from Russia sanctions
Sat, 26 Jul 2014 02:48
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.
Massive rise in sale of British arms to Moscow
Fri, 25 Jul 2014 06:39
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
Fri, 25 Jul 2014 06:35
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
Fri, 25 Jul 2014 06:56
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.
'Doema donderdag in spoedzitting bijeen' | Mh17 | Telegraaf.nl
Thu, 24 Jul 2014 06:33
Exclusieve artikelen van de Telegraaf redactie
wo 23 jul 2014, 18:19
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: email@example.comGebruiksvoorwaarden | Privacy | Cookies | Cookie-voorkeuren
Gaspipe Diplomacy: How Ukraine Set Off a New U.S.-Russian Energy Fight | WhoWhatWhy
Sun, 27 Jul 2014 06:13
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?
WhoWhatWhy plans to continue doing this kind of groundbreaking original reporting. You can count on us. Can we count on you? What we do is only possible with your support.Please click here to donate; it's tax deductible. And it packs a punch.
Comment Policy:Keep it civil. Keep it relevant. Keep it clear. Keep it short. Identify your assertions as fact or speculation. No typing in ALL-CAPS. Read the article in its entirety before commenting.Note: As a news site dedicated to serious inquiry, not a bulletin board, we reserve the right to remove any comment at any time, especially when it appears to be part of an effort to push a deceptive, unscientific, false or narrow ideological line. Posts that scapegoat by ethnicity, gender, religion or nationality will also be removed.
Unspecified>> terror threat against Norway - Aftenposten
Thu, 24 Jul 2014 12:49
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.
Publisert: 24.jul. 2014 12:44
Terror threat against Norway | PST
Thu, 24 Jul 2014 12:49
24. JULI 2014av Hanne
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.
interest free Muslim mortgages from freddie mac
Fri, 25 Jul 2014 07:32
By Thomas A. Fogarty, USA TODAY
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.
Oil smuggling finances Islamic State's new caliphate
Fri, 25 Jul 2014 06:52
Reuters, 23/07 07:43 CET
By Ahmed Rasheed
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.
Copyright 2014 Reuters.
Jihadists organize tourist tours in their Syria, Iraq 'caliphate'
Fri, 25 Jul 2014 06:42
BEIRUT - Agence France-Presse
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.
UK - 'Disturbing' findings from Islamist Trojan horse inquiry.
Fri, 25 Jul 2014 06:19
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".
The second coming of the caliphate in Spain
Fri, 25 Jul 2014 06:32
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.
VIDEO-Hillary Clinton: Putin Deserves Some Blame for MH17 | Mediaite
Sun, 27 Jul 2014 06:19
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]
>> Follow Matt Wilstein (@TheMattWilstein) on Twitter
VIDEO-NBC, CBS Allow a Mere 43 Seconds to Hero Doctor Who Shot Crazed Gunman | MRCTV
Sat, 26 Jul 2014 22:54
MRC TV is an online platform for people to share and view videos, articles and opinions on topics that are important to them '-- from news to political issues and rip-roaring humor.
MRC TV is brought to you by the Media Research Center, a 501(c) 3 nonprofit research and education organization. The MRC is located at: 1900 Campus Commons Drive, Reston, VA 20194. For information about the MRC, please visit www.MRC.org.
Copyright (C) 2014, Media Research Center. All Rights Reserved.
VIDEO-POS Tries To Justify Israeli Airstrikes On "HOSPITALS! SCHOOLS! AND MOSQUES!" - YouTube
Sat, 26 Jul 2014 22:32
VIDEO- KT McCrazy Explains Exactly How To TERRORIZE Americans Into "Staying Home And Hiding Under The Bed" - YouTube
Sat, 26 Jul 2014 22:17
VIDEO- Rushkoff: The Rhythms Of Time l Dark Rye - Rhythm l Whole Foods Market - YouTube
Sat, 26 Jul 2014 21:50
VIDEO-CJCS Gen Dempsey Speaks at the Aspen Security Forum - YouTube
Sat, 26 Jul 2014 21:21
VIDEO-WHITE HOUSE VIDEO MESSAGE: Embracing Economic Patriotism | The White House
Sat, 26 Jul 2014 19:44
THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
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
Sat, 26 Jul 2014 04:32
VIDEO- Joan Rivers -- GOES OFF on Epic Israel/Palestine Rant - YouTube
Sat, 26 Jul 2014 04:07
VIDEO- Jon Voight Slams Obama, Kerry At Pro-Israel Rally - YouTube
Sat, 26 Jul 2014 04:05
VIDEO-BBC News - Sierra Leone hunts Ebola patient kidnapped in Freetown
Sat, 26 Jul 2014 03:18
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
Sat, 26 Jul 2014 02:58
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.
VIDEO-Too few teens receiving HPV vaccination, CDC says - ABC15 Arizona
Sat, 26 Jul 2014 01:58
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
Sat, 26 Jul 2014 01:46
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."
VIDEO-No Agenda Battery Car Walk Around - YouTube
Fri, 25 Jul 2014 23:42
VIDEO- State Dept. accuses Russia of firing artillery into Ukraine, provides no evidence - YouTube
Fri, 25 Jul 2014 22:05
VIDEO NEEDED-U.S. Military Chief Compares Putin's Ukraine Move to Stalin's Invasion of Poland - The Daily Beast
Fri, 25 Jul 2014 21:51
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
Fri, 25 Jul 2014 20:59
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 -
Fri, 25 Jul 2014 14:46
By The Right Scoop
This is EPIC.
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.
About The Right ScoopBlogger extraordinaire since 2009 and the owner and Chief Blogging Officer of the most wonderful and super fantastic blog in the known and unknown universe: The Right Scoop
NOTE: If the comments don't load properly or they are difficult to read because they are on the blue background, please use the button below to RELOAD DISQUS.
VIDEO-Letterman Calls on SEAL Team Six to Kill 'Psychopath' Putin | Mediaite
Fri, 25 Jul 2014 07:24
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]
>> Follow Matt Wilstein (@TheMattWilstein) on Twitter
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
Fri, 25 Jul 2014 07:01
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
Fri, 25 Jul 2014 06:59
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
Fri, 25 Jul 2014 06:54
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
Fri, 25 Jul 2014 06:53
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.
(C) 2014 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
Britain to analyze Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 black box
Britain opens inquiry into death of Russian spy
Polish oil and natural gas production rising
Russia working to counter sanctions
Ukrainian military retakes control of Donetsk Airport
VIDEO-Francois Hollande hits back at David Cameron attacking France selling warships to Russia | Mail Online
Fri, 25 Jul 2014 06:44
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'.
Scroll down for video
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
Share or comment on this article
VIDEO-Ukraine MPs come to blows while fighting rages in east | euronews, world news
Fri, 25 Jul 2014 06:37
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
Fri, 25 Jul 2014 06:27
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
Fri, 25 Jul 2014 04:47
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.
Read Trentadue's filing claiming FBI agents tried to sell tapes here:
The trial begins Monday and is expected to wrap up Wednesday. It is anticipated that the federal judge handling the case will issue a ruling in writing at a later date.
VIDEO-Pastor Manning Blames Obama For Black Men Turning Gay - YouTube
Fri, 25 Jul 2014 04:40
VIDEO-Air Algerie plane 'crashes' with 116 on board after going missing over Mali: live - Telegraph
Thu, 24 Jul 2014 13:52
Aircraft damaged beyond repair after botched landing at Pohang, South Korea.
Jan 31 2000 - Alaska Airlines
All 88 people on board killed when plane nosedives into sea off California because of stabiliser problem. Attributed to poor lubrication.
Jan 8 2005 - Aero Republica
Plane written off after aircraft overruns runway on landing in Colombia
Oct 11 2007 - AMC airlines
Plane written off after overshooting runway during emergency landing in Istanbul.
Nov 30 2007 - Atlasjet airlines
All 57 people on board killed when plane crashes into a Turkish mountain
June 3 2012 - Dana Air
All 153 people on board killed along with 10 on the ground when plane on domestic flight in Nigeria loses power in both engines
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.