FULL SPEECH MSC2015
World leaders gathered in Germany to discuss international security on Saturday, with the meeting somewhat descending into ‘Russia-bashing’. But the West showed itself to be more divided than ever on Ukraine, with the EU and US drifting further apart.
The Americans led the harsh anti-Russian rhetoric at the conference, and once again, they did not exclude the possibility of lethal arms deliveries to Ukraine in the future.
Speaking to reporters, NATO’s top commander in Europe, General Philip Breedlove, said that although no troops would be sent to Ukraine, providing Kiev with lethal weapons and equipment was on the cards.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, British Conservative politician and former foreign secretary Malcom Rifkind, and US senator Lindsey Graham notably took a pronounced anti-Russian stance, blaming the Kremlin for the violence in Ukraine.
Moscow hit back, with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov stressing in his Munich speech that it is the US and its European allies who have played the key destabilizing role in Ukraine, from helping to overthrow the democratically elected government to failing to condemn the new Kiev government for shelling the civilian population in the east with cluster bombs.
“Through every step, as the crisis has developed, our American colleagues and the EU under their influence have tried to escalate the situation,” Lavrov said, adding that the West has always been urging world governments to enter into dialogue with opposition groups or figures, even when it came to extremist groups such as the Taliban. However, in Ukraine it has bluntly been supporting every one of Kiev’s actions.
Lavrov then spoke with US Secretary of State John Kerry, warning him that Washington’s plans to supply Kiev with military equipment might have “unpredictable consequences”, including “disrupting the efforts to resolve the crisis in southeastern Ukraine,” according to a Facebook statement by the Russian Foreign Ministry. He stressed that Russia and the US agree that the only basis for any solution is a comprehensive national dialogue on constitutional reform in Ukraine.
Russia will not sacrifice its national interest, but is ready to “engage constructively” with the US, Lavrov stressed.
At the press conference, the Russian top diplomat was pelted with questions implying that Moscow is responsible for the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.
“It felt like orchestrated hate fest. Obviously these people live in a surreal world. The US try to change the balance of forces in eastern Europe and the EU join the band wagon,” Srdja Trifkovic, foreign affairs editor of the Chronicles magazine told RT, adding that “whenever a major power wants to change the status-quo, the result is a crisis.”
Despite the recent efforts to try and to stop the violence and find a peaceful way out of the Ukrainian conflict, with French and German leaders having taken an initiative to discuss a peace plan with Russia’s President Putin and Ukraine’s President Poroshenko, the actions of the West are still “profoundly self-righteous,” critics say.
“What I saw today in the press conference is a total unwillingness from the European, Western side to even take into consideration the arguments of the other side…the questions they pose are so selective, so predetermined by their self-righteousness – that is not the way you try to get peace,” former security consultant at the OSCE Lode Vanoost told RT, adding that the West is hypocritical to a level “so profound that [its behavior] is not a serious way to try to get peace.”
However, despite the overwhelmingly anti-Russian rhetoric coming from the West, there are increasingly numbers of politicians who are softening their stance.
Following the Friday meeting of President Putin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande in Moscow, which was said to be “constructive,” the French leader revealed that the discussion included the creation of a larger demilitarized zone between the Kiev and militia-controlled territories. He also called for “quite strong” autonomy for Ukraine’s eastern regions.
Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy said on Saturday that Paris does not want a new Cold War, considering that Russia and France having a long history of common interests and values. The former state leader also said that it was Crimea that had chosen to join Russia and it “cannot be blamed” for its choice. Previously, former Czech president, Vaclav Klaus, said that Crimea has “always” been a part of Russia.
While the European leaders have largely been united in their support for the Kiev government, only a few have agreed with the United States on supplying weapons to Ukraine. Instead, the German leader stressed that the crisis “cannot be resolved militarily” and that sending more arms can only worsen the conflict.
The issue of military aid to Ukraine is now considered to be the main subject causing the divide in the West, with many in Europe realizing that the potential threat of an escalating conflict on its territory exists.
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov at the 51st Munich Security Conference on February 7, 2015. (RIA Novosti/Flickr MFA Russia)
Political analysts agree that hidden from the public eye, “there is definitely a big divide between the US and the EU on the whole issue of Ukraine,” Vanoost told RT. “It’s very difficult to know how the game will finish, because it’s not an open game, it’s behind the scenes,” Bruno Drweski, an analyst specializing in eastern Europe, said.
Sanctions against Russia have economically hit the EU itself, but have not affected the US. The conflict is also happening on the European continent, not in America, with the EU generally not eager to further escalate it.
“First of all, the European Union is directly involved if the conflict escalates – which is not the case for the United States. Secondly, in the EU they are realistic enough to know that the government in Kiev is very unstable, that they don’t even have full control of all parts of their own military,” Vanoost explained, while speaking about the Western split in regard of the Ukrainian crisis.
However, toning down rhetoric puts some in the firing line, too.
After Merkel said that Europe wants security alongside with Russia, rather against it, and reiterated Berlin’s stance that the Ukrainian conflict must be resolved peacefully, US senator Graham lashed out at the German leader for her refusal to send arms to Ukraine.
“She can’t see how arming people who are willing to fight and die for their freedom makes things better,” the US politician said, adding that the West cannot “turn [its] back on the struggling democracy.”
In an effort to silence voices against harsher anti-Russian measures, US Vice President Joe Biden has labeled those questioning sanctions against Moscow “inappropriate and annoying,” Der Spiegel reported, quoting the participants of the Brussels meeting. The US official called on European countries to show unity when it comes to sanctions against Russia. Biden even reportedly added that critics of the policy should be aware that they also benefited from the current low price of oil.
“The Americans want to run this show, and they have no interest in stopping the crisis in Ukraine because it is really driving a wedge between the Europeans and Russia. And to their [the US’] mind, it is only pushing Europe ever so firmly back into the NATO fold,” Trifkovic told RT.
Meanwhile, Lavrov said Moscow is ready to guarantee agreements between the warring sides if a peaceful solution to the crisis is found, which would satisfy both Kiev and the eastern Ukrainian regions.
Quoting the “aggression” against the federal republic of Yugoslavia, the current crisis has been named “an ongoing assault against the Russian Federation” by the former deputy head of OSCE, Willy Wimmer. Calling for a hastier end to the conflict, which “is the best for all of us,” the ex official of the European security and cooperation organization said that “it’s better to have Polish apples in Russian stores than US tanks at the Russian border.”
Iranian musician and Kamancheh virtuoso Kayhan Kalhor along with Indian sitar maestro Shujaat Husain Khan is slated to perform in New York, Boston and Irvine
The duo is planning to present their program accompanied by Ghazal Ensemble in the Michael Schimmel Center for the Arts at Pace University on March 22, 2015.
Ghazal (with Shujaat Hussein Khan and Sandeep Das) March 2015 events are:
13 Mar: Kay Meek Theater, Vancouver, Canada
15 Mar: Skirball Center, Los Anegeles, CA
17 Mar: Irvine Barclay Theater, Irvine, CA
19 Mar: Freer Gallery, Washington, DC
21 Mar: Berklee Performance Center, Boston, MA
22 Mar: Schimmel Center at Pace University, NY
25-28 Mar: Agha Khan Museum, Toronto, Canada
29 Mar: Asia Society Texas Center, Houston, TX
Other Kayhan Kalhor early 2015 events (Europe, US): www.facebook.com/kalhor.kayhan
Ghazal Ensemble, formed in 1997 by Kalhor and Husain Khan, has been touring the world and it is acclaimed for performing Indo-Persian music.
Described by the Los Angeles Times as “utterly captivating… an irresistible expression of creative musical passion,” Ghazal’s performances and recordings have garnered critical acclaim as well as a 2004 Grammy nomination for Best Traditional World Music Album for their 2003 live album The Rain. Amazon named Ghazal’s first CD, Lost Songs of the Silk Road, to its list of the best 100 world music albums ever recorded.
Kalhor is known for his brilliant performances on the traditional instrument Kamancheh and creating a unique mixture of classical Persian music with folk tunes of the Kurdistan region.
He held many concerts along with the world-renowned musicians and ensembles such as the string quartet, Brooklyn Rider ensemble, in Minneapolis, United States, in 2012.
Kalhor also presented joint programs with the veteran Turkish Baglama player Erdal Erzincan in New York’s GlobalFest held at the Marlin Room on January 13, 2013.
He also performed introspective performances with a number of world-class Asian musicians at BT River of Music in London.
Shujaat Husain Khan is one of today’s greatest North Indian artists, who represent the seventh generation of illustrious musicians, which includes his father, the great sitarist Ustad Vilayat Khan.
BIOGRAPHY – KAYHAN KALHOR
Kayhan Kalhor is an internationally acclaimed virtuoso on the kamancheh (Persian spiked fiddle). His performances of Persian music and his many collaborations have attracted audiences around the globe.
Born in Tehran, Iran, he began his musical studies at the age of seven. At thirteen, he was invited to work with the National Orchestra of Radio and Television of Iran, where he performed for five years. When he was seventeen he began working with the Shayda Ensemble of the Chavosh Cultural Center, the most prestigious arts organization in Iran at the time. At a musical conservatory in Tehran around age 20 Kalhor worked under the directorship of Mohammad-Reza Lotfi who is from Northern Khorasan. He has traveled extensively throughout Iran, studying the music of its many regions, in particular those of Khorason and Kordestan. … http://theotheriran.com/2015/02/03/keyhan-kalhor-iranian-music-maestro-and-former-grammy-awards-nominee-to-perform-in-the-us-and-canada/
February 5, 2015
A Muslim couple in France has had their five children abducted by the state over unproven allegations that they are radicals who planned to take the entire family to fight in Syria.
Nearly a dozen police and social service workers entered the couple’s house, on an allegedly false pretext, as the family was packing to move to Tunisia, where the father was born.
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The last victims of Argentina’s military dictatorship knew nothing of their true identities. One day though, their worlds turned upside down when they learned a terrible truth. Everything they knew, their families, their names, was all part of a monstrous and cruel conspiracy. It was only through the tireless efforts of their natural grandmothers, who searched for decades, that these children had their real identities returned to them. The natural parents were among the “disappeared,” former activists against the military Junta. Now, aware of the web of deception that surrounded their early years, they have to learn to live as their true selves, and with their past.
Published on January 31, 2015
Anthony Lawson passed away on the 8th of January, 2015 due to colon cancer. This video will be the final one on his channel.
The months leading up to his death were filled with much anguish and confusion, as after an operation to fix his inguinal hernia there were a series of follow-ups and other procedures to determine the causes of the severe back pain that followed. In the end, the cancer was discovered on New Year’s Eve, far too late to have anything done, and his mental state as a result was too erratic for him to truly know what was wrong.
The medical costs have placed the family in a tight situation, so if anyone would like to make a donation, however small, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
January 24, 2015
Dear University of Toronto and University of Toronto Asset Management Corporation:
This is in response to the recent assault on student activism and student spaces at the University of Toronto Scarborough Campus:
On Thursday November 6, a 34 year-old man with no affiliation to the University of Toronto furiously entered the Scarborough Campus Students’ Union office after hours. He stole a poster that read WARNING: THIS UNIVERSITY PROFITS OFF ISRAELI APARTHEID AND OCCUPATION. All attempts to calm him down failed. After stealing the poster he drove off, recording the incident with his phone. Campus police filed a report and said to notify them if the man returns. After a couple of weeks we put up another sign. The man came back. He forced his way into the student union. We tried to calm him down and initiate dialogue. The man replied with, “I’ll rip your fucking throat out” and “I have twelve guys on standby ready”—implying that he or other people will be back. He shouted that he use to be a part of the “israeli” military and regularly killed “terrorists”. Campus police came to the scene and issued the man a Notice of Trespass for the UTSC campus.
In fury, we wondered how a man with no affiliation to the University of Toronto invaded student spaces, threatened students, stole private property, and walked away with just a Notice of Trespass. Why hasn’t the University been held accountable for investing in companies such as Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin, both of which supply F-16 bomber jets and Hellfire missiles to “israel”? Why do our tuition dollars continue to fund “israel’s” colonization and ethnic cleansing of Palestine? The University—rather than addressing their complicity—responded with increased policing of student union spaces and activism. We are not looking for increased policing of activist activities, we want to cut ties with international law violations without facing death threats. If the University of Toronto did not invest in these companies we would not be threatened repeatedly on University grounds.
We demand that the University of Toronto, University of Toronto Asset Management Corporation:
- Immediately divest from companies complicit in international law violations, including all companies profiting off “israel’s” colonization and ethnic cleansing of Palestinian land.
– Apologize and take accountability for the violence and death threats we’ve incurred as a result of raising awareness of UTAM’s investments.
– Ensure safer spaces for student organizers not through increased policing and surveillance but rather by validating our voices and addressing our concerns.
U of T Divest – Scarborough
Seattle police officer Cynthia Whitlatch was cruising down the street in her patrol car when she came across an elderly man standing on the corner using a golf club as a cane, prompting her to stop her car and order him to place the club down, claiming it could be a weapon.
William Wingate, a retired bus driver and Air Force veteran who was 69 at the time, said he’s been using that golf club as a cane for 20 years and refused to set it down.
So Whitlatch escalated the lying.
“You just swang that golf club at me …. It was on audio and videotape, put it down,” she said.
The incident took place last July, but Whitlach’s dash cam video was just released after a public records request by The Stranger, Seattle’s alternative weekly.
The video, posted below, shows Wingate remained professional but defiant, insisting she call another officer.
But when she did, the second officer took her side, arresting him on harassment and obstruction charges when it was clear from the video she was the only one harassing and obstructing his freedom to move freely in the city.
After spending a night in jail, King County prosecutors switched the charge against him to unlawful use of a weapon, obviously not bothering to watch the video.
Wingate, represented by a public defender who also didn’t watch the video, was told to sign an agreement stating the case would be dropped in two years if he complied with certain stipulations.
Fortunately, a former politician learned of the case and got involved, and eventually persuaded the judge to dismiss the case. But police never admitted wrongdoing, even after watching the video.
And Whitlach is still on the force, a protected liar who should be behind bars.
Because Wingate is black and Whitlach is white, she was accused of racial profiling, but police balk at that notion, insisting she would have falsified records to arrest him even if he had been white.
According to The Stranger :
In the police report filed by Officer Coles about the incident, Whitlach said “she observed him look at her and aggressively swing his golf club in the direction of her patrol car.”
“Because Wingate was still in possession of the golf club,” Coles wrote in the report, “and she was fearful of being assaulted by him, she said that she kept her distance from him upon exiting her patrol car.”
“It’s like, c’mon lady. You were lying,” Mason told me. “She wasn’t afraid of him at all.”
But the police commanders, including Metz and Davis, didn’t see it that way. Mason said they “tried to convince me nothing was wrong.”
Metz, in particular, “kept trying to convince us nothing was wrong here. He defended the officer.”
Nothing came out of that meeting, Mason said. But weeks later, she received a call from Deputy Chief Carmen Best, who, like Wingate, is black.
“The solution we came up with,” she said, “was actually good on the part of the [police] chief”—who’d assigned Best to look into the case. “It became African American and white women coming together to work on a solution.”
Weeks later, city prosecutors, after conferring with Best, recommended dismissing both the case against him and the two-year stipulation.
“They know that had this been a white man,” said Mason, “we wouldn’t be here.”
But, in fact, it appears they don’t know that. The Seattle Police Department insists racial bias played no role in the incident.
“If this person had been white,” said SPD spokesman Sean Whitcomb, speaking by phone on Tuesday, “I would imagine it would have been the same outcome. We don’t believe this was a biased policing incident. We don’t believe the officer acted out of malice or targeted this man because of his race.”
Whitlatch enjoys playing the victim having been one of 126 Seattle police officers last year who sued the Department of Justice, claiming the agency was infringing on their Constitutional rights by requiring them to be less violent towards citizens.
Her conversation with Wingate begins at the 1:40 mark.
UPDATE: The Stranger posted another story today, revealing some comments apparently made by Whitlach on Facebook regarding her disdain for black people who blame white people for their problems.
A Seattle, Washington high school history teacher who was pepper-sprayed by police moments after speaking at a Martin Luther King Jr. Day rally is suing the city for $500,000.
Attorneys for Jesse Hagopian filed the claim against Seattle on Wednesday, nine days after the incident unfolded during, ironically, an anti-police brutality protest held in tandem with similar rallies across the United States on the holiday named for the slain civil rights leader.
Hagopian, a history teacher at Garfield High School who is known throughout the region for his activism, had just finished speaking during the January 19 event and was on the phone with his mother when a female police officer began discharging her pepper spray, striking multiple people.
An eyewitness was filming only a few feet away from where that officer and others had formed a barricade along a city intersection as law enforcement tried to control the crowd. A separate video filmed from above suggests that an officer had been knocked off their bicycle down the street, prompting the police to try and clear the area.
The ground-level footage appears to show Hagopian on the phone, walking towards the sidewalk, when he is blasted across the face with a stream of pepper spray.
“Ah, f**k. They just sprayed,”a voice on the video is heard saying as the officer barks to the crowd while attempting to clear the intersection.
Hagopian later got online and explained what happened in his own words:
“I was marching for Martin Luther King day today – amazing march! At one point after the big main march, group of bike cops set up a line to keep us from marching. Some people walked through the line, but I didn’t. When my phone rang, I turned away from the cops and began walking away to answer the phone. A cop then ran up in my face and pepper sprayed me right in the face.”
The close-up video recording of the incident has since been acquired by James Bible, the former president of the Seattle chapter of the NAACP, who in turn posted it to YouTube on Wednesday in concert with the announcement concerning the court filing. Bible is also serving as Hagopian’s attorney.
According to the Seattle Times, the suit alleges that Hagopian “instantly felt a burning sensation in his eyes and had some difficulty breathing.” The teacher later posted a photograph online showing him trying to tame the effects of the spray by dousing his face with milk.
“The main thing I’m upset about is that [I was on] the sidewalk when I was pepper sprayed so there’s really no reason at all they can use to justify what they did,” Hagopian told The Skanner News. … Full article
Click CC for English subtitles
This was 20.11.2013, BEFORE Maidan
Deputy Oleg Tsarov
Honourable Vladimir Vasiljevitch
In my role as a representative of the Ukrainian people…
…activists of the public organisation “Volya” turned to me…
…providing clear evidence…
…that within our territory…
…with support and direct participation
…of the US Embassy in Kiev…
…the “TechCamp” project is realised…
…under which preparations are being made for a civil war in Ukraine.
The “TechCamp” project prepares specialists for information warfare…
…and the discrediting of state institutions using modern media…
…for organising protests…
… and the toppling of the State Order.
The project is currently overseen and under the responsibility…
…of the US ambassador to Ukraine…
…Geoffrey R. Pyatt.
After the conversation with the organisation “Volya“…
… I have learned…
…that they succeeded to access Facilities in the project “TechCamp“…
…disguising as a team of IT specialists.
To their surprise, briefings on peculiarities of modern media were held.
American instructors explained how social networks and Internet technologies…
…can be used for targeted manipulation of public opinion…
…as well as to activate protest potential…
…to provoke violent unrest on the territory of Ukraine…
…Radicalisation of the population and triggering of infighting.
American instructors show examples of successful use of social networks…
…used to organise protests
…in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya.
“TechCamp” representatives currently hold conferences throughout Ukraine.
A total of five events have been held so far.
About 300 people were trained as operatives, which are now active throughout Ukraine.
The last conference “TechCamp” took place on 14 and 15 November 2013…
…in the Heart of Kiev on the territory of the US Embassy!
You tell me which country in the world would allow…
…a NGO to operate out of the US Embassy?
This is disrespectful to the Ukrainian government, and against the Ukrainian People!
I appeal to the Constitutional Authorities of Ukraine with the following question:
Is it conceivable that representatives of the US Embassy…
…which organise the “TechCamp” Conferences…
…misuse their diplomatic mission?
–– Let him speak ––
UN Resolution of 21 December 1965 regulates…
…inadmissibility of interference in the internal affairs of a state…
…to protect its independence and its sovereignty…
…in accordance with paragraphs one, two and five.
I ask you to consider this as an official beseech…
…to pursue an investigation of this case
The new Greek government has spoken out against the EU partners over the statement that lays the blame for Saturday’s fatal attack on the Ukrainian city of Mariupol on Russia. Hungary, Slovakia, and Austria voiced similar objections earlier.
The government, headed by Prime Minister Alexis Tripras, said in a press release on Tuesday that “the aforementioned statement was released without the prescribed procedure to obtain consent by the member states, and particularly without ensuring the consent of Greece.”
“In this context, it is underlined that Greece does not consent to this statement,” Tsipras added.
He voiced his “discontent” in a phone call to EU foreign relations chief Federica Mogherini.
The EU statement was published on Tuesday morning, saying that all 28 EU leaders had agreed that Russia bears “responsibility” for a rocket attack on the city of Mariupol that left 30 people dead on Saturday.
Brussels objected that the Greek government had been informed about the statement on Russia and Ukraine, but no one had contradicted it until Tuesday.
European Council President Donald Tusk initiated the EU statement, and claimed he had called Tsipras and the “sherpas” – top officials taking care of EU issues in each leader’s office.
One EU diplomat reportedly said that Greece had attempted to remove the line blaming Russia for the Mariupol killing. Also, Austria, Hungary, and Slovakia tried, and failed, to “water down” the communiqué, the EU Observer website stated.
It’s the first time that such a situation – a retroactive abjuration of an EU line – has happened, EU Council official stressed.
Foreign affairs analyst Serja Trifkovich told RT that other countries might follow suit and oppose Brussels’ policies on the Ukrainian crisis.
“It’s very difficult in the EU to break the ranks. Now that Greece has made a move, I confidently expect that the Hungarians in particular, but perhaps also Slovakia and Cyprus, will [find] the courage to say no to the dictate from Brussels.”
The EU statement on Russia and Ukraine also urged for more sanctions, for considering “any appropriate action” against Moscow.
One of the measures being mulled is to block Russia from the global interbank SWIFT payment system.
Economist Max Fraad Wolff told RT that this would be a drastic measure.
“Let’s be fair and honest here: if you’re cut off from SWIFT, your ability to have any kind of normal business flow with the global commerce community is hampered.”
However, what he envisages is that “cooler heads will prevail” and that “we won’t see Russia cut off from the SWIFT system,” as it is “in very few parties’ long-term interests.”