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Current News and Analysis

What’s the punishment for a 300 million euro tax fraud?

By Tom Gill ⋅ RevoltingEurope ⋅ April 18, 2014

What’s the punishment for a 300 million euro tax fraud? If you are in Italy and your name is Silvio Berlusconi it is about a week hanging out with people your age.

A court in Milan ruled earlier this week that as his sentence the 77-year-old billionaire media mogul and thrice Italian PM would be performing community service in the small northern town of Cesano Boscone – “once a week and for a period of no less than four consecutive hours” – in a centre for the elderly and disabled.

The ruling came eight months after his conviction for tax fraud was made definitive by Italy’s supreme court. In August last year the country’s top court had found him guilty of having had a role in allowing his Mediaset company – which has a virtual private terrestrial TV monopoly in Italy – to fraudulently lower its tax bill by buying US film and television rights at inflated prices. … continue

US to extend stay of F-16 fighter jets in Poland till end of 2014

Voice of Russia | April 18, 2014

The United States said Thursday that it would extend the stay of its F-16 fighters and military personnel in Poland through the end of 2014. The decision was made after Tomash Semonjak had a meeting with his American colleague in the US. During the meeting both ministers discussed possible expansion of the American military presence in Poland. In view of the Ukrainian crisis the Polish government has turned to the US and other NATO allies, asking them to station their forces in Poland.

US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel made the announcement when eastern Ukraine is awash with violent protests against new authorities in Kiev, with pro-Federalization activists seizing several government buildings in nearly ten eastern cities.

“We’re committed to maintaining that augmented presence to the end of the year,” said Hagel during a joint news conference at the Pentagon with Polish Defense Minister Tomasz Siemoniak, referring to a dozen F-16 fighter jets and about 200 US troops currently based in Poland.

The Pentagon chief urged allies to contribute to the US air detachment mission in Poland, and said that the two countries will also conduct more cooperation in other areas, including closer collaboration between US and Polish special operations forces, additional Air Force training initiatives, augmented air detachment program and missile defense efforts. … Full article

Ukraine Seeks Renewable-Energy Investors to Loosen Russia’s Grip

By Brian Wingfield | Bloomberg | April 18, 2014

Ukrainian officials say they’ve found a way to protect the nation from Russia: Go green.

Ukraine is seeking U.S. investment in its biomass, wind and solar power industries. The idea is to use renewable energy to curb its reliance on fuel imports from Russia…

Babcock & Wilcox … has been working closely with the Ukrainian government to explore a fuel switch from natural gas to coal, Patrick Wilson, the company’s director of government affairs for energy, said in a phone interview. He said the company has proposed a five-plant pilot project worth $1 billion to convert the fuel.

“The number one reason for making the fuel switch is to increase the energy security of Ukraine,” Wilson said in a phone interview. … Full article

Greenland really was once green! Three-million-year-old landscape discovered beneath Arctic ice

Daily Mail | April 18, 2014
  • University of Vermont researchers analysed soil to prove the presence of an ancient tundra two miles (3.2km) below the Greenland Ice Sheet
  • Greenland looked like the green Alaskan tundra, before it was covered by the second largest body of ice on Earth, the experts said
  • Evidence suggests the sheet is older – and more stable – than thought and has survived a number of periods of global warming

Read article

Holdren Is Wrong – Cold Winters Are Not Getting More Common

By Paul Homewood | Watts Up With That? | April 18, 2014

As WUWT points out, John Holdren is one of many who have tried to link the cold winter in the USA this year to global warming.

In his White House video in January, he had this to say:

“A growing body of evidence suggests that the kind of extreme cold being experienced by much of the United States as we speak is a pattern that we can expect to see with increasing frequency as global warming continues….

We also know that this week’s cold spell is of a type there’s reason to believe may become more frequent in a world that’s getting warmer, on average, because of greenhouse-gas pollution.”

But is there any evidence that extreme cold winters are becoming more common, or, for that matter, more extreme? … continue

Why Hubbert was wrong

By John Kemp | Reuters | April 17, 2014

US petroleum production in 2014

Combined production of crude oil, gas and condensates in the United States is on course to a hit a record this year, passing the previous peak set in 1972.

The rise in output has confounded the famous forecast made by Shell geologist M King Hubbert who predicted that U.S. oil and gas production would peak in the 1970s and then decline.

Hubbert’s prediction was contained in a paper entitled “Nuclear Energy and the Fossil Fuels,” published in 1956, in which he argued the coming decline of oil and gas output would make the development of nuclear energy essential.

Hubbert’s prediction of peaking oil and gas production came to be known as “Hubbert’s peak” and spawned the popular and influential theory known as “peak oil”. [...]

“Peak oil” is what Nobel physicist Max Planck termed a phantom problem: “soberly looked at, it is void of meaning – a phantom problem on which our labours and thoughts were wasted.” – Full article

Russian journalist detained, questioned for 15 hours by Ukraine law enforcement

RT | April 17, 2014

A journalist for Russia’s LifeNews has been released after being detained and questioned for 15 hours by Ukraine law enforcement. Police allegedly “kicked” the reporter and “other peaceful civilians” during an armed confrontation in Mariupol on Wednesday.

Kristina Babayeva was detained following an armed confrontation between anti-government protesters and soldiers stationed at a military base in the eastern Ukrainian city of Mariupol on Wednesday. Her colleague, camerawoman Maria Povalyaeva, still remains at the local police station.“She is being actively interrogated,” Babayeva told RT.

Babayeva said she was working at the scene when the shooting began. She said the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) and police then “launched an operation,” throwing her and other peaceful civilians on the ground.

“Many were kicked, including me. They were talking to us really harshly and said that if we moved a finger they would shoot to kill,” the journalist said, adding that she received several bruises. … continue

‘Letter to Jews’, Kerry cited, appears to be fake

RT | April 18, 2014

A letter urging the Jews of Donetsk to get registered, which the US Secretary of State cited in Geneva, is a fake says a man whose signature appears on the communication.

Following the four-side meeting on the Ukrainian crisis in Geneva on Wednesday, John Kerry lashed out at a letter that was allegedly sent to Jewish citizens in Ukraine’s eastern town of Donetsk, asking them to register and report all their property, or be stripped of citizenship and face expulsion.

“In year 2014, after all of the miles traveled in all the journey of history, this is not just intolerable, it’s grotesque… beyond unacceptable,” he stated.

Images of the letter have been circulating online.

The letter was stamped and signed by Denis Pushilin, who was identified on it as the “People’s Governor.”

However, Pushilin denied he had anything to do with the letter, claiming it was a fake. … continue


By Anatoly Karlin | Da Russophile | April 18, 2014

The media refers to the document that emerged out of today’s four party talks as an “agreement”. This is not strictly correct. The text of the document is here.

As its text makes clear what this document is in reality is not an an agreement to settle the Ukrainian crisis or even an outline of such an agreement but rather a statement of basic principles around which an agreement should be negotiated. The real agreement (if it comes about) will emerge from negotiations based on the principles set out in this document. … continue

Lavrov: Russia, US, EU, Ukraine agree on de-escalation roadmap

RT | April 17, 2014

Russia, the US, the EU and Ukraine have adopted a joint document on the de-escalation of the Ukraine crisis, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said, after talks in Geneva. It calls for all illegal armed groups to lay down arms and a wide amnesty.

The document calls for an “immediate start of a nationwide national dialogue within the framework of the constitutional process, which must be inclusive and accountable,” Lavrov said.

The most important agreement reached during the talks, according to Lavrov, states that the Ukrainian crisis “must be resolved by the Ukrainians themselves concerning an end to the conflict” including those related to “detaining protesters, occupying buildings” and, in the long run “the start of true constitutional reform.” … continue

Ukraine Tanks Stopped By Unarmed Woman

Indian Authorities Arrest Opposition Kashmiri Leaders

Al-Manar | April 18, 2014

Over two dozen separatist and pro-Pakistan political leaders and workers have been arrested in Indian-held Kashmir by the Indian authorities, a senior police officer, who requested anonymity, confirmed, according to World Bulletin.

Some of those rounded up were said to have been put under house arrest while others have gone to prison, as the capital of Indian-held Kashmir, Srinagar, and other constituencies go to the polls April 30 in India’s national elections.

Those arrested have supposedly advocated boycotting the elections as it is held under the Indian constitution that they refuse to accept and ask instead for the right to self-determination under UN resolutions.

The senior police officer told media outlets that the arrests had not been made because of polls but because of law and order situations and that these people were considered to ‘foment trouble.’

Among those arrested was Syed Ali Shah Geelani, the octogenarian Kashmiri leader and head of Tehreek-e-Hurriyat, who arrived on Wednesday from New Delhi where he had been taken for treatment and immediately on his arrival he was put under house arrest.

Geelani, who demands the right to self-determination for the people of Kashmir and is one of the strongest opponents of the Indian elections in the area, has already been under house arrest for most of the previous year.

Senior Hurriyat leader Nayeem Ahmed Khan has also been placed under house arrest.

Meanwhile, police have reportedly raided the house of Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front chairman, Yasin Malik, imprisoning him in the Kothibagh police station. Yasin was one of the first militant commanders of Indian-held Kashmir who put down weapons and opted instead for a non-violent struggle against the Indian rule.

Police have also arrested Hurriyat leaders Zafar Akbar Bhat and Mushtaq-ul-Islam, as well as several separatist political workers from villages and small towns across the region. … Full article

Majd Kayyal Released from Israeli Prison, Most Serious Security Charges Dropped

By Richard Silverstein | Tikun Olam | April 17, 2014

460_0___10000000_0_0_0_0_0_kayyalIt isn’t often there are victories to report in the struggle for justice for Palestine. But through the combined efforts of U.S. bloggers, reporters and Israeli activists, the Israeli state has backed down from its persecution of Israeli-Palestinian journalist and political activist, Majd Kayyal. Today, he was released from prison and placed under house arrest. The secret police also dropped the most serious charges against him of contact with an enemy agent and hostile organization (Hezbollah). Now, he is charged with visiting an enemy state.

I should note that every Israeli Jewish journalist who has done the same (and there are at least three I can think of) has been threatened with investigation by the police, but no case was ever pursued. A clear double-standard. [...]

Now, I would challenge those Israeli Jewish journalists like Lisa Goldman and Ron Ben Ishai, who visited “enemy states” but were not charged with a crime to make their voices heard on Majd’s behalf. [...]

Zvi Barel wrote an impassioned plea on Kayyal’s behalf in which the Haaretz columnist noted that he had violated the law the Palestinian was charged with numerous times, and not received so much as an invitation from the secret police to regale them with any of his travel stories. But the glaring omission from Barel’s piece was an acknowledgement that the sole reason he could even write this story was the intrepid work of largely foreign journalists who rejected the Israeli gag and compelled the security police to remove it and free its prisoner. Israeli journalism has a strong case of amnesia. All that it does it does on its own merit. It owes nothing to anyone.

Though this is a victory, it was one earned only through the help of foreign groups. It can’t be emphasized enough that the Israeli system, if left to itself, would trample democratic rights, especially those of Palestinians. This makes the efforts of outsiders critical to protect the vulnerable inside Israel. I wish it weren’t so, but it is. And let no liberal Zionist or Israeli nationalist dare make the claim that Israeli democracy “worked” in this case. It didn’t. If Israeli democracy worked it wouldn’t have charged him to begin with.

I have also contacted Reporters Without Borders and the Committee to Protect Journalists along with Amnesty and Human Rights Watch. None have taken any action that I know of on Majd’s behalf. It would be helpful for them to weigh in even now to protect Majd’s rights to practice journalism undeterred by criminal charges. … Full article

Thousands march across West Bank, Gaza to mark Prisoners Day

175058_345x230Ma’an – 18/04/2014

BETHLEHEM – At least ten Palestinians were detained by Israeli forces on Thursday as thousands participated in protests across the West Bank and the Gaza Strip to commemorate the annual Palestinian Prisoners Day.

Large demonstrations took place in Hebron, Gaza City, Jenin, Nablus, and Ramallah to mark the day of solidarity with the more than 5,000 Palestinian prisoners currently being held in Israeli prisons.

The demonstrations took place amid a major row with Israel over its failure to release a batch of prisoners held for more than twenty years as previously agreed upon as a part of ongoing peace negotiations. … Full article

Suspected Jewish extremists torch mosque in northern Israel

Ma’an – April 18, 2014

BETHLEHEM – Suspected Jewish extremists set fire to a mosque and sprayed racist graffiti in the town of Umm al-Fahm on Friday, an Israeli police spokesman said.

Mickey Rosenfeld told Ma’an that there was “damage to the front door of the mosque and graffiti found on nearby walls.”

Israeli police and border police arrived at the scene and are investigating the incident, he said, adding that the attack had “price tag” motives.

Graffiti on the walls in the town read “Arabs out”, according to Israeli media.

In early April, Jewish extremists slashed the tires of over 40 cars and sprayed racist graffiti in the predominantly Christian town of Jish in northern Israel.

“Only goyim should be evacuated from our land” was sprayed on village walls.

A week earlier, Jewish extremists sprayed anti-Christian graffiti on the walls of a convent west of Jerusalem and damaged vehicles parked nearby. … Full article

Jewish holiday increases violence in Hebron

International Solidarity Movement | April 17, 2014

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHebron, Occupied Palestine – Pesach, or Passover, started Monday April 14th and is a seven day long holiday where many Zionist tourists and settlers from illegal settlements travel to al-Khalil (Hebron). Increased violence and attacks toward Palestinians occurs during many Jewish holidays. During the holiday, entry into historic Palestine (the current state of Israel) is completely closed to Palestinians, even those with the correct permits.

Restriction of movement is also inflicted on the Palestinians living within al-Khalil itself, as checkpoints and many local shops are forced to close, while settlers and Zionist tourists go on ‘tours’ guarded by Israeli soldiers and border police. The number of tourists in al-Khalil during these seven days is estimated to be approximately 7,000 people.

Yesterday afternoon, Israeli forces closed the main road in the center of al-Khalil, in order to allow settlers access to the Tomb of Othniel Ben Knaz, which is located in H1. Thousands of Hebronites were hugely disrupted as the major Palestinian access road was blocked by a mobile barrier and then occupied by hundreds of Israeli soldiers.

Many Palestinians in recent days have expressed anxiety over the escalating violence during the holiday. In al-Khalil there is normally one “settler tour” every Saturday, when settlers from the illegal settlements enter the souq (market) accompanied by soldiers. During the tours they often harass the shop owners and Palestinian souq visitors. During Pesach, and particularly today, Thursday the 17th, many groups of tourists and settlers have toured through the market.

The checkpoint between the souq and the mosque has been closed since yesterday morning, stopping the Muslim population from entering the mosque. The closing of the checkpoint also means that local children are forced to walk a much longer route to school. … Full article

ICC is ready to look at Israel’s complaint against Abbas

MEMO | April 17, 2014

The International Criminal Court (ICC) has said an international tribunal is authorised to look into Israeli lawyer Mordechai Tzivin’s complaint against the Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

Tzivin filed a complaint against Abbas and senior Hamas leaders to the ICC. In his complaint, he claimed that Abbas is responsible for “terrorist operations” carried out by Hamas against Israelis.

The Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth today said that Abbas is responsible for everything happening in the Palestinian territories, including the Gaza Strip, as the president for a UN non-member state.

Tzivin claimed that the ICC offers a chance to fight terrorism and it does not leave this issue to a single party. He described the Palestinian resistance against the Israeli occupation “war crimes and crimes against humanity”.

Oligarchy, not democracy: Americans have ‘near-zero’ input on policy – report

RT | April 15, 2014

Am+People+Spoken+IIThe first-ever scientific study that analyzes whether the US is a democracy, rather than an oligarchy, found the majority of the American public has a “minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy” compared to the wealthy.

The study, due out in the Fall 2014 issue of the academic journal Perspectives on Politics, sets out to answer elusive questions about who really rules in the United States. The researchers measured key variables for 1,779 policy issues within a single statistical model in an unprecedented attempt “to test these contrasting theoretical predictions” – i.e. whether the US sets policy democratically or the process is dominated by economic elites, or some combination of both.

“Despite the seemingly strong empirical support in previous studies for theories of majoritarian democracy, our analyses suggest that majorities of the American public actually have little influence over the policies our government adopts,” the researchers from Princeton University and Northwestern University wrote.

While “Americans do enjoy many features central to democratic governance, such as regular elections, freedom of speech and association,” the authors say the data implicate “the nearly total failure of ‘median voter’ and other Majoritarian Electoral Democracy theories [of America]. When the preferences of economic elites and the stands of organized interest groups are controlled for, the preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy.” … continue

Why Israeli Officials are Chuckling: The ‘Stable’ West Bank Dilemma

By Ramzy Baroud | Palestine chronicle | April 16, 2014

Israel’s deputy foreign minister, Ze’ev Elkin, is a member of Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party and his predominantly rightwing cabinet. In a recent interview with The Economist, Elkin used the familiar tone of being conceited and oblivious to such notions as international or human rights, and reaffirmed his rejection of a Palestinian state.

Instead, Elkin wants Israel to annex a chunk of the West Bank. There is nothing new here, as such language is now official Israeli discourse. But one statement stood out, one that many Palestinians would find bewildering and exasperating.

These days, said Elkin with a chuckle, the West Bank is “the most stable part of the Middle East”.

The bewilderment would stem from the fact that the West Bank is an occupied Palestinian territory. Its population is held at gunpoint; they have no freedom, and enjoy no rights. Their land is seized by force to make room for more settlements and illegal Jewish settlers, now numbering well passed the half million mark.

Needless to say, the West Bank should not be stable. … continue

Nablus farmer detained after being attacked by settlers

Ma’an – 17/04/2014

NABLUS – Israeli forces detained a Palestinian farmer in Nablus on Wednesday on suspicion of attempting to stab a settler after a group assaulted him and cut down his olive trees.

Palestinian security officials told Ma’an that settlers from Maale Levona assaulted Khalid Samih Daraghmah and his son while they were tending their trees south of Nablus near al-Lubban ash-Sharqiyah.

Jalal Daraghmah, 19, was brutally beaten during the attack.

The farmers filed a complaint at the Palestinian liaison department, who referred it to the Israeli office.

After reporting the assault, Israeli forces arrested Samih Daraghmah after claiming he had tried to stab one of the settlers.

In 2013, there were 399 incidents of settler violence against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. … Full article

Israeli Army Kidnaps Eight Palestinians In The West Bank

460_0___10000000_0_0_0_0_0_kidnapIMEMC & Agencies | April 17, 2014

Israeli soldiers invaded various Palestinian communities in the occupied West Bank, broke into homes and searched them, installed roadblocks and kidnapped at least eight young Palestinian men on Thursday. [...]

Medical sources said sixteen Palestinians were shot and injured by Israeli army fire in the center of Hebron city, during clashes with the invading soldiers.

Also, eyewitnesses said dozens of soldiers invaded the Ibrahimiyya School in Hebron, attacked teachers and students, and detained its headmaster, Mohammad Kamel Ja’afra, three teachers, and at least one student. … Full article

Israel abducts five from South Lebanon village

Al-Akhbar | April 17, 2014

Israeli occupation forces crossed into Lebanon on Thursday abducted five people from the Bastra farms of the southern town of Shebaa, state news reported.

Lebanon’s National News Agency identified the kidnapped as Hassan and Ismail Qassem Zahra, Nouhad Awad, Wafa Moussa, Woroud Moussa.

Television networks Al-Manar and NBN reported that the three women in the group have been released, while brothers Hassan and Ismail, who work as shepherds, remain in Israeli custody.

Israeli forces reportedly crossed about 100 meters into Lebanese territory to kidnap the group who were taken to the occupied Shebaa farms. The town of Shebaa itself is not occupied.

The NNA added that forces from UNIFIL and the Lebanese army are coordinating to release the men.

Egypt court sentences 119 Morsi supporters to three years in prison

MEMO | April 17, 2014

An Egyptian court sentenced 119 Mohamed Morsi supporters to three years in jail on charges of illegally protesting last October 6.

On October 6, 2013, more than 50 protesters were killed in the nationwide protests that called for the fall of the military coup and reinstatement of Morsi.

The court acquitted six defendants in the case.

Iran complying with interim nuclear accord: IAEA

Press TV – April 17, 2014

The United Nations’ nuclear monitoring body says Iran is complying with the terms of an interim nuclear agreement struck between the Islamic Republic and six world powers late last year.

In its monthly report released on Thursday, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said Tehran has diluted half of its uranium earlier enriched to the 20-percent purity to a lower grade to power reactors.

The other half of the stockpile is to be converted into a form that would be relatively difficult to be reconverted to the 20 percent level. … continue

Russia ‘bewildered’ over US visa denial to Iran UN envoy pick

Press TV – April 17, 2014

Russia has criticized Washington for its refusal to issue a visa to Iran’s appointee for the position of ambassador to the United Nations, saying the move is in violation of the US commitments as a host of the UN headquarters.

“The recent decision of the US authorities to deny an entry visa to Mr. Hamid Aboutalebi, a new Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the United Nations, has caused our bewilderment,” Russia’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Wednesday. … Full article

Fighter jets banzai attack on defiant Ukrainian cities

RT | April 17, 2014

1The Ukrainian army is ramping up psychological pressure on regions engulfed in anti-government protests. The skies over cities in eastern Ukraine are resounding to the roar of attack helicopters and fighter jets.

The so-called counter-terrorist operation announced by the coup-imposed government in Kiev is raging on in Ukraine’s eastern regions.

The Ukrainian Air Force has deployed a number of military helicopters and fighter jets, which have taken to the skies above the cities of Kramatorsk and Slavyansk in the rebellious Donetsk region.

The authorities in Kiev of course realize that using military aviation against civilian protesters, the absolute majority of which remain unarmed, would be utterly insane.

So, an original ‘solution’ was found on how to make use of fighter jets to fight the mutiny in the Russian-speaking regions of the country.

Ukrainian pilots are now burning tons of expensive aviation fuel to frighten rebellious cities into compliance by roaring fighter jets above the heads of the activists. … Full article

Poland’s Participation in the Ukrainian Pandemonium

By Andrew Korybko | Oriental Review | April 17, 2014

Polish police academy "students" beating Berkut officer on Euromaidan in Kiev, January 2014.Polish media outlet Nie has published a bombshell account about direct Polish involvement in Ukraine’s destabilization. Its source alleges that the Polish Foreign Ministry had invited Ukrainian militants into the country and trained them outside of Warsaw in September 2013. Considering the destructive actions and fatalities they would later be responsible for during the EuroMaidan riots, such a connection would directly link Warsaw to the pandemonium. It would also implicate Poland in being the “Slavic Turkey” of NATO in Eastern Europe. The impact of Nie’s reporting can also affect domestic Polish politics, as it would prove that the political elite misled members of Parliament, which could later have direct political repercussions for Tusk’s ironically named “Law and Justice Party”. This scandal serves to highlight that Poland is starting to emulate the methods of its invited neo-colonial headmaster, the US, thereby deepening the puppet-master relationship between Warsaw and Washington.

According to the report, 86 Euromaidan militants, some of whom appeared to be over 40 years old, came to Poland under the invitation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The pretext for plausible deniability was that they were in the country to promote cooperation between the Warsaw University of Technology and the National Technical University in Kiev. In reality, however, these individuals were whisked away to Legionowo, a town on the outskirts of Warsaw. There, at the police training center, they spent four weeks engaged in a regiment of destabilization training.continue

3 dead, 13 injured as anti-govt protesters rally near Ukrainian military base – Interior Ministry

RT | April 16, 2014

Three people were killed and thirteen others injured by gunfire in a confrontation between anti-government protesters and soldiers stationed at a military base in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol, Interior Minister Arsen Avakov says.

Avakov wrote on his Facebook page that three of the anti-government activists that clashed with soldiers at the base had been killed, referring to them as “armed militants.”

A group of several dozen protesters arrived at the base, located in the turbulent Donetsk region, on Wednesday evening.

They called on the troops to abandon the base, but the soldiers didn’t listen, the demonstrators said.

Instead, the troops opened fire at the protesters, injuring at least four people. One of them took a bullet in his chest and is in serious condition, according to protesters. … Full article

EU spy chief rules out Russian military presence in Ukraine

RT | April 16, 2014

There is no large Russian military presence in East Ukraine, head of EU intelligence, Commodore Georgij Alafuzoff, has said. The spy chief has dismissed multiple accusations from the West alleging Russian involvement in the unrest in the region.

In an interview with Finnish national news broadcaster, Yle, Alafuzoff said the Russian military had nothing to do with the seizing of government buildings in eastern Ukraine.

“In my opinion, it’s mostly people who live in the region who are not satisfied with the current state of affairs,” said Alafuzoff, referring to the situation in East Ukraine. He went on to say that the people are worried for the welfare of those who speak Russian as their first language in the region.

Alafuzoff echoed the words of the Russian government which has categorically denied interfering in the ongoing unrest. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in a press conference on Monday that Moscow is not interested in destabilizing Ukraine and wants the country to remain united. … continue

BRICS countries to set up their own IMF

By Olga Samofalova | Russia Beyond the Headlines | April 14, 2014

The BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) have made significant progress in setting up structures that would serve as an alternative to the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, which are dominated by the U.S. and the EU. A currency reserve pool, as a replacement for the IMF, and a BRICS development bank, as a replacement for the World Bank, will begin operating as soon as in 2015, Russian Ambassador at Large Vadim Lukov has said.

Brazil has already drafted a charter for the BRICS Development Bank, while Russia is drawing up intergovernmental agreements on setting the bank up, he added.

In addition, the BRICS countries have already agreed on the amount of authorized capital for the new institutions: $100 billion each. “Talks are under way on the distribution of the initial capital of $50 billion between the partners and on the location for the headquarters of the bank. Each of the BRICS countries has expressed a considerable interest in having the headquarters on its territory,” Lukov said.

It is expected that contributions to the currency reserve pool will be as follows: China, $41 billion; Brazil, India, and Russia, $18 billion each; and South Africa, $5 billion. The amount of the contributions reflects the size of the countries’ economies.

By way of comparison, the IMF reserves, which are set by the Special Drawing Rights (SDR), currently stand at 238.4 billion euros, or $369.52 billion dollars. In terms of amounts, the BRICS currency reserve pool is, of course, inferior to the IMF. However, $100 billion should be quite sufficient for five countries, whereas the IMF comprises 188 countries – which may require financial assistance at any time. … continue

Iran won’t have West meddling in defense affairs: Minister

Press TV – April 16, 2014

The Iranian defense minister says the Islamic Republic will by no means negotiate on its defense prowess and missile program in nuclear talks.

Brigadier General Hossein Dehqan made the statement in reaction to comments by top US nuclear negotiator Wendy Sherman who said that Iran’s ballistic capabilities should be addressed as part of a comprehensive agreement in nuclear talks between Iran and the P5+1 group.

“Iran’s missile might is our concern. We are the ones in charge and we will not brook interference from anyone [in this issue],” Dehqan said Wednesday.

The official stressed that the issue is not up for talks under any circumstances. … continue

The Kosher Trinity and Jewish Quantum Mechanics

A Talk Given By Gilad Atzmon @ The Albion Beatnik Book Shop, Oxford, UK

DEBATE – Anti-Semitism: myth or reality

Good evening book lovers and wisdom seekers.

As some of you have realised the title of this debate morphed slightly since I initiated it. The discussion was first titled ‘Anti-Semitism, A Myth or A Threat.’ We are now supposed to engage in a dialogue on ‘Racism, a Myth or a Threat.’

Ladies and gentleman, this shift in the title is, actually, more significant than it first appears. It is actually a manifestation of our confusion and fear of looking at Jewish identity, politics, culture and ideology.

There is no doubt amongst scholars that Jews, as a group, derive from multiple ethnic origins and are far from a homogenous race. There is no racial continuum between a Polish Jew and a Yemenite one. But it is also obvious that Jewish political culture, whether Zionist or ‘anti’ is ethno-centric and, to a large extent, racially driven. Just like Israel, the Jews-only State, Israel’s Jewish opponents too often prefer to operate within Jews-only organisations such as ‘Jewish Voices For Peace,’ ‘ Jews for Justice,‘ etc’. In short, whether they are Zionist or ‘anti,’ Jews somehow prefer to operate in ethnically segregated racially oriented political cells.

The conclusion is obvious -though Jews are not a race, Jewish identity politics is racist to the core. … continue

Israeli forces fire tear gas in Hebron prep school

Ma’an - 16/04/2014

HEBRON – Israeli forces on Wednesday raided a prep school in Hebron and fired tear gas on school grounds, witnesses told Ma’an.

Israeli soldiers erected an encampment in the schoolyard of al-Mutanabby preparatory in southern Hebron and raised the Israeli flag on top of the school, locals said. … Full article

Israeli forces injure 30 Palestinians in al-Aqsa

Press TV – April 16, 2014

Israeli forces have shot and wounded at least 30 Palestinians in the al-Aqsa Mosque in East al-Quds (Jerusalem).

Local sources said that clashes erupted between the Israeli forces and Palestinian worshippers in the mosque compound when Israeli settlers entered the holy site on Wednesday.

According to witnesses, Israeli troops raided the mosque to protect the settlers. They said the forces fired tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse the worshippers. … continue

Israel ruins ancient cemetery, steals contents near Nablus

Ma’an – April 15, 2014

TULKAREM – The Palestinian ministry of tourism and antiquities has accused Israel of ruining an archeological cemetery between Nablus and Tulkarem in the northern West Bank near the village of Deir Sharaf.

Director of the ministry’s department of antiquities protection Salih Tawafsha told Ma’an that the Israeli antiquities authority escorted with Israeli forces “stole all the contents of the cemetery” after they carried out “illegal” excavations while the Israelis refurbished the main road.

Such procedures, says Tawafsha, mark a violation of heritage-related international conventions.

He highlighted that experts from the Palestinian ministry of tourism and antiquities went to the cemetery to do excavations, but the Israelis denied them access.

Anti-govt protesters seize Ukrainian APCs, army units ‘switch sides’

RT | April 16, 2014

Kiev’s military faced off with protesters in east Ukraine on Wednesday to sort out their differences… and found none. Soldiers appeared reluctant to go into battle against anti-government activists.

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

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

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

Obama Whistleblower Program Requires Whistleblowers to Register to be Protected

By Noel Brinkerhoff | AllGov | April 16, 2014

Are whistleblowers—whose anonymity is often their best protection against retribution—made safer by being forced to register as whistleblowers with the U.S. government? Or are they being placed in greater danger?

The Obama administration is demanding they step forward and sign up.

Indeed, exposing government corruption or other wrongdoing often means being discreet, if not anonymous, on the part of the individuals blowing the whistle, unless they want to face retribution from higher-ups involved in the misdeeds. Keeping one’s identity hidden is almost always essential for whistleblowers because of managers’ or executives’ impulse to protect themselves and punish those exposing their mistakes. Thus, any government program that requires whistleblowers to reveal themselves—ostensibly for their own good—might seem disingenuous, if not counterproductive to encouraging workers to expose law breakers. … continue

NYPD Shutters Muslim Mapping Unit – But What About Other Tactics?

By Noa Yachot | ACLU | April 15, 2014

The New York Police Department is disbanding the unit that mapped New York’s Muslim communities, their places of worship, and businesses they frequent – based on nothing but their religious beliefs and associations. To this we say: Good Riddance.

But the end of the Zone Assessment Unit – better known by its former, more apt name, the Demographics Unit – doesn’t necessarily mean an end to the NYPD’s unconstitutional surveillance of New York’s Muslims.

The NYPD’s discriminatory spying program has many components, of which the Demographics Unit was just one. … continue

Ukraine presidential candidates attacked in Kiev

RT | April 15, 2014

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

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

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

Former Australian foreign minister exposes Zionist lobby power

By Brandon Martinez | April 15, 2014

A controversy is swirling in Australia involving a former foreign minister and the country’s influential Zionist lobby.

Bob Carr, who served as Australia’s foreign minister in the administration of former Prime Minister Julia Gillard, recently published a memoir detailing his experiences on the job. In the book Carr hones in on the Israeli lobby, which he says has “extraordinary” and “unhealthy” influence in Australian politics and had a “direct line” into the decision-making processes of the Gillard administration. Not only is Organized Zionism’s grip on Australia unhealthy, it is dangerous and corrosive.

In recent media interviews Carr has said that Gillard overruled his suggestion that Australia not block the Palestinian bid to attain upgraded ‘non-member observer state’ status at the United Nations in 2012 and that this was a direct result of the Zionist lobby’s pull on the former prime minister. Carr also revealed that Gillard was so immovable in her pro-Israel partisanship that she impeded him from making routine statements of concern about the growth and expansion of illegal Jewish settlements in the West Bank because it would upset the Zionist lobby. … continue

Canadian plans to invade Syria: Revealed

Press TV – April 15, 2014

The pro-Israeli government of Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper is making diplomatic and military preparations for military intervention in Syria, leaked documents show.

Canada’s Department of National Defense has drawn up at least five scenarios for the country’s military mission in Syria, according to documents obtained by the Ottawa Citizen.

358664_Stephen Harper and NetanyahuIn one scenario, Canada recognizes “a legitimate armed opposition group” fighting to overthrow the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

To justify a war on Syria, the National Defense alludes to “the rapidly deteriorating conditions in Syria, its impact on neighboring countries and … the importance of Middle East stability.”

Daniel Blouin, spokesman for the National Defense, has described such plans as “routine to significant international events.”

Separate documents reveal that Canada has been training alternatives to Assad’s government. … Full article

April – 2014

March – 2014



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