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Sat, 06 Feb 2016
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Denmark tells Ukraine to follow Minsk agreement or sanctions against Russia could be dropped

© Eric Vidal / Reuters
Denmark's Foreign Minister Kristian Jensen
Ukraine must take the steps to peace agreed a year ago in Minsk, or risk losing the support of the European Union, said Denmark's foreign minister. Earlier this week other western powers criticized Kiev, following the resignation of a key minister.

"If Ukraine doesn't come through with the reforms linked to the Minsk peace process, it will be very difficult for Europe to continue united in support for sanctions against Russia," Kristian Jensen told Reuters at the EU foreign ministers' meeting in Amsterdam on Friday. "Ukraine has a deadline. They need to push those reforms now, they can't wait."

Signed by Ukraine, Russia, France, and Germany last February, the Minsk accord lays out 13 steps to secure the end of the armed conflict in Donbas, in eastern Ukraine, which broke out in 2014, after people in the regions refused to accept the forceful change of power in Kiev. The conflict has resulted in over 9,000 deaths and the displacement of more than 2 million people, according to the UN.

The initial stage prescribed a ceasefire, the pullout of heavy armaments, and the introduction of comprehensive international monitoring. Later, a constitutional reform would grant more autonomy to Donbas, which would conduct local elections.

Bad Guys

Obama prepares to fight in Libya, again

© www.frontpagemag.com
Libya, our latest and greatest next invasion...
Nearly five years after the U.S., Britain and France launched a bombing campaign against the Libyan government to bring about regime change, these same countries are contemplating a resumption of the war they thought was won when rebel forces they supported grotesquely tortured to death the country's leader, Col. Muammar Gaddafi.

The result today in Libya is utter disarray. But at the time, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton — a leading advocate of the bombing who justifies the deed to this day — was ecstatic when told the news of Qaddafi's death while she was appearing on a TV talk show. Laughingly she shouted to the cameras, "We came, we saw, he died!"

No one is laughing in Washington now. President Obama came, saw and created the very opposite of what he sought, a hardly unusual outcome for the Obama and Bush Administrations.in the Middle East. Instead of a pliable dependent government willing to do the bidding of Washington and its NATO foreign legion, there has been an explosion of civil war and Sunni jihadism.

Comment: A million casualties and still counting, undermined regional security, terrorist meccas, increased refugee migration to Europe and beyond, escalation of uprisings and rebellion, devastation and destruction...and the answer is a full-spectrum military war in Libya. Thanks USA.

Red Flag

EU migration chief recommends detention or removal centers to deal with flow of refugees

© Hannibal Hanschke / Reuters
The EU countries facing the heaviest influx of refugees need "detention or removal centers" for those denied entrance or unwilling to return back home voluntarily, the European Migration Commissioner said.

Referring in particular to Greece and Italy, Dimitris Avramopoulos has stressed that such facilities are needed alongside expanding "reception centers", also known as hotspots, to handle the intake and processing of refugees.

"Of course, during that time, people have to stay somewhere. So it is normal that we need more reception places," he told Euractiv.com. "But detention or removal centers are also needed for those who receive the decision to return, particularly if there is a risk of absconding and if they are not willing to return voluntarily."

According to the EU migration official, following the Western Balkans leaders' meeting in late October, Greece committed to expanding its reception places by 50,000.

Athens hopes that most of the facilities will be operational by mid-February, Reuters reported. However, the contraction of "hotspots" crucial for hosting the refugees, on one side, cause a furious reaction by locals on the other.

Comment: It's disgusting that, through the actions of Western countries in the Middle East, civilians are having to migrate to safer countries and those countries are then attempting to herd them into "detention centers" aka open-air prisons. It's a large-scale version of blaming the victim. Instead of treating these people as sub-human, maybe Europe ought to look in the mirror and recognize their responsibility in this entire mess.


Ukraine plans military draft due to plummeting volunteer figures

© Evgeny Kotenko / Sputnik
Persons conscripted to the Ukrainian army seen here at one of the recruiting points in Kiev
The president of Ukraine suggested an amendment that would allow him to start military mobilization without announcing it beforehand. The measure was proposed after only 60 percent of draftees were enlisted in the previous run.

Over the two years that have passed since the armed coup in Kiev dramatically changed Ukraine, the new government declared six waves of mobilization. It's a special kind of military draft separate from regular conscription that is used to respond to an emergency.

The draft was needed to boost military units sent to fight the rebellious eastern regions of Donetsk and Lugansk. Ukraine nearly doubled the strength of its army from the initial 130,000 to 232,000 in 2014 and wants to have 250,000 standing troops. 210,000 people were drafted overall, some of them already demobilized.

The war effort, however, became increasingly difficult to maintain. The initial surge of volunteers dwindled while the number of people who would rather risk prosecution for dodging the draft than put their necks on the line increased.

Comment: Clearly most Ukrainians have no interest in fighting a war against their own people, especially since doing so means serving in a military that is poorly equipped, poorly trained, and even more poorly supervised.

Bad Guys

Less than one-third of victims killed by US drone strikes in Pakistan since 2004 have been identified

© Flickr/ KAZ Vorpal
Of thousands killed in US drone attacks in Pakistan since 2004, less than one third of the victims have been identified, including a record low number of ten last year, according to an international investigation.

A UK-based not-for-profit organization revealed the figures in the framework of their "Naming the Dead" project. Initially created for tracking US drone strikes in countries like Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen and Somalia, the project seeks to identify casualties, calling for accountability for the attacks.

According to project data, of 2,494 people confirmed killed by American drone strikes in Pakistan, only 729 have been identified. In 2015 the names of those killed was extremely small - only ten of 60 allegedly killed by drones.

Five of ten victims were pronounced members of Al Qaeda, another three were named Pakistani Taliban fighters and the last two were aid workers from Western states.

Георгиевская ленточка

Russia's next-gen S-500 Prometey system to feature "world-beating" technology

© Sputnik/ Valeriy Melnikov
Russia's newest S-500 Prometey system, which is expected to begin tests shortly, will be a major upgrade to the state-of-the-art S-400 complex and will, according to member of the advisory council of the Military-Industrial Commission Viktor Murakhovsky, be second to none.

"The S-500 has world-beating characteristics: it can engage air attack weapons, as well as ballistic missiles, including intercontinental ballistic missiles," he told Sputnik. "In addition, the system provides space defense since it can engage targets in near space, at an altitude of up to 200 kilometers (124 miles)."

The cutting-edge S-500, designed by Almaz Antey, is said to have a maximum range of 600 kilometers (more than 370 miles). The highly-mobile system could simultaneously intercept up to ten ballistic missiles traveling at a speed of 5 kilometers per second.

The system is so good, that "many US defense officials worry that even stealth warplanes like the F-22, F-35 and the B-2 might have problems overcoming" it, defense expert Dave Majumdar wrote for the National Interest earlier this month.

As a result, the S-500, also known as 55R6M Triumfator-M, will most likely form the basis of the country's multilayered air defense system as soon as it becomes operational in the coming years. First prototypes are expected to begin tests later this year.

The Russian Armed Forces reportedly plan to purchase ten S-500 battalions.


Russia considering adding tax to junk foods

© Yves Herman / Sputnik
The Russian government is thinking of adding palm oil, soda and potato chips to the list of excisable goods, business daily Vedomosti quotes two government officials as saying. The measure would be part of a plan to get Russians eating a healthier diet as well as boost tax revenues.

The proposal has been supported by the Russian Ministry of Agriculture.

The list could also include any goods with an excessive fat or sugar content. "Such measures are recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) as one of the ways to fight against overconsumption of sugar and diseases linked to it," the official said.

Palm oil is the first to be included in the updated list, possibly starting from July 1 this year. The tax might be set at $200 per ton. Studies link palm oil to higher risks of cardiovascular disease; it can increase blood cholesterol levels and could cause heart disease.

Palm oil is mainly used by dairy and confectionary firms. Supplies to Russia of the oil grew 31.7 percent in the January-November period last year with 614,000 tons imported.

Sixty percent of women and 50 percent of men in Russia are overweight, according to the Nutrition Research Institute. The number of obesity cases has been growing in the past decade.

Russian soft drink manufacturers have called the proposal unacceptable. A new tax will have a negative financial impact on soda producers and lead to job cuts, according to the head of their trade body Dmitry Petrov.

Dollar Gold

Iran dumps the dollar, switches to euros in foreign oil trade

Iran has switched to euro in its foreign oil trade, in a bid to cut reliance on the US dollar. After the removal of sanctions, Tehran would also want to recover in euros some of its previously frozen assets.

Iran has turned away from the US dollar in oil trade and is denominating in euros all new and outstanding oil contracts with companies, including French oil and gas giant Total, Spanish refiner Cepsa and Litasco, the trading arm of Russia's Lukoil, a source at National Iranian Oil Co told Reuters.

"In our invoices we mention a clause that buyers of our oil will have to pay in euros, considering the exchange rate versus the dollar around the time of delivery," the source said.

Lukoil and Total declined to comment, and Cepsa did not respond to a request to comment. Iran has also told its trading partners who owe it billions of dollars that it wants to be paid in euros rather than US dollars.


Corrupted military: F-18 air supply system has bugs the US military can't fix

© AP Photo/ Matt York
The Navy and Marines of the United States have unsuccessfully struggled for five years to solve a defective on-board oxygen supply system on the supersonic F-18 Hornet aircraft that could kill a pilot and lead to a crash of the $60 million jet.

The Boeing F-18 Super Hornet jet uses an On-Board Oxygen Generation System (OBOGS), manufactured by British defense technology company Cobham plc, that scrubs the same air taken from the engine intakes, filtering it and providing the pilot with breathable air. In practice, the system repeatedly fails, leading to constant interruptions in the air supply, according to Navy documents obtained by Breaking Defense.

Navy papers revealed some 297 incidents related to F-18 OBOGS during tests conducted from May 2010 to October 2015. The statistics also indicated an increase in the number of failures over that period.

Comment: Further reading:
The root of the crisis lies in a nation that is being led by corrupt Washington Presidents, Generals, Congressmen who prostitute themselves to a seemingly endless hog trough of corruption. None excels in this official corruption more than the US Pentagon and its incestuous role with the corrupt military industrial complex.

Psychopaths have destroyed America

Bad Guys

US, Saudi Arabia 'discussing parameters' of the Saudi's offer to send troops to Syria

The United States is discussing the parameters of Riyadh's offer to deploy ground troops to fight the Daesh in Syria, US State Department spokesperson John Kirby stated in a press briefing.

On Thursday, Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Defense said it stands ready to deploy ground troops to Syria to fight the Daesh, which has been outlawed by many countries, including the United States and Russia.

"We obviously have some questions about it [the Saudi proposal]. We are going to continue to talk to the Saudis about exactly what the parameters are here," Kirby said on Friday. "We just need to learn a little bit more what this proposal is."

Comment: Further reading: Saudi Arabia's offer to send troops to 'fight ISIS in Syria' is farcical