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Russia says firms leaving over sanctions can't return

Sergei Donskoy

Sergei Donskoy
Russia warned foreign companies working in the oil and gas sector that if they quit the country over Ukraine-related sanctions, they would not be able to return any time soon.

Natural Resources Minister Sergei Donskoy said on Thursday that foreign firms had not so far signaled they would withdraw from projects in Russia, the world's top crude oil producer, but that there would be a price to pay if they did.

"It is obvious that they won't return in the near future if they sever investment agreements with us, I mean there are consequences as well," Sergei Donskoy told reporters in the city of Birobidzhan in Russia's Far East.

"Russia is one of the most promising countries in terms of hydrocarbons production. If some contracts are severed here, then, colleagues, you lose a serious lump of your future pie."

Comment: Related: Tilting at Pipelines: Geopolitical Madness at the end of Empire

Vader

Up is down, black is white - Ukraine, through the U.S. looking glass

ukraine neo-nazi  Andriy Parubiy

Ukrainian Secretary for National Security Andriy Parubiy.
As the post-coup regime in Ukraine sends troops and paramilitaries to crack down on ethnic Russian protesters in the east, the U.S. news media continues to feed the American public a steady dose of anti-Russian propaganda, often wrapped in accusations of "Russian propaganda," Robert Parry reports.

The acting president of the coup regime in Kiev announces that he is ordering an "anti-terrorist" operation against pro-Russian protesters in eastern Ukraine, while his national security chief says he has dispatched right-wing ultranationalist fighters who spearheaded the Feb. 22 coup that ousted elected President Viktor Yanukovych.

On Tuesday, Andriy Parubiy, head of the Ukrainian National Security Council, went on Twitter to declare, "Reserve unit of National Guard formed #Maidan Self-defense volunteers was sent to the front line this morning." Parubiy was referring to the neo-Nazi militias that provided the organized muscle that overthrew Yanukovych, forcing him to flee for his life. Some of these militias have since been incorporated into security forces as "National Guard."

Parubiy himself is a well-known neo-Nazi, who founded the Social-National Party of Ukraine in 1991. The party blended radical Ukrainian nationalism with neo-Nazi symbols. Parubiy also formed a paramilitary spinoff, the Patriots of Ukraine, and defended the awarding of the title, "Hero of Ukraine," to World War II Nazi collaborator Stepan Bandera, whose own paramilitary forces exterminated thousands of Jews and Poles in pursuit of a racially pure Ukraine.

During the months of protests aimed at overthrowing Yanukovych, Parubiy became the commandant of "Euromaidan," the name for the Kiev uprising, and - after the Feb. 22 coup - Parubiy was one of four far-right Ukrainian nationalists given control of a ministry, i.e. national security.

But the U.S. press has played down his role because his neo-Nazism conflicts with Official Washington's narrative that the neo-Nazis played little or no role in the "revolution." References to neo-Nazis in the "interim government" are dismissed as "Russian propaganda."

Yet there Parubiy was on Tuesday bragging that some of his neo-Nazi storm troopers - renamed "National Guard" - were now being sicced on rebellious eastern Ukraine as part of the Kiev government's "anti-terrorist" operation
Snakes in Suits

British Gas staff 'inflate customers' bills by 60% - target charities and small businesses'


British Gas is paying staff bonuses to inflate customers' bills by up to 60 per cent, a whistleblower has claimed
  • Whistleblower revealed staff are encouraged to sell most expensive deals
  • Employees told they can triple £14,600 salary through commission
  • Churches and charities including the Scouts among those targeted
  • Some organisations have ended up £2,000 a year worse off as a result
  • Words 'volume to value' written on walls of company's call centre
  • Energy regulator Ofgem vowed to take 'firm action' if it finds British Gas has not been 'honest and transparent' with customers
  • British Gas say they 'strongly refute' any inappropriate negotiations
British Gas is paying staff bonuses to inflate customers' bills by up to 60 per cent, a whistleblower has claimed.

The former employee said he felt 'disgusted' by the policy, which encouraged staff to target charities and small businesses and sell them the most expensive deals possible.

Employees were told they could triple their £14,600 salary through commission if they sold the highest-priced tariffs to enough customers.

Churches and charities - including the Scouts - were among those targeted by the policy, the whistleblower said, with some organisations ending up £2,000 a year worse off.
Colosseum

This is how empires collapse

This is how empires collapse: one complicit participant at a time.

Before an empire collapses, it first erodes from within. The collapse may appear sudden, but the processes of internal rot hollowed out the resilience, resolve, purpose and vitality of the empire long before its final implosion.

What are these processes of internal rot? Here are a few of the most pervasive and destructive forces of internal corrosion:

1. Each institution within the system loses sight of its original purpose of serving the populace and becomes self-serving. This erosion of common purpose serving the common good is so gradual that participants forget there was a time when the focus wasn't on gaming the system to avoid work and accountability but serving the common good.

2. The corrupt Status Quo corrupts every individual who works within the system.Once an institution loses its original purpose and becomes self-serving, everyone within either seeks to maximize their own personal share of the swag and minimize their accountability, or they are forced out as a potentially dangerous uncorrupted insider.

The justification is always the same: everybody else is getting away with it, why shouldn't I? Empires decline one corruptible individual at a time.
Video

Lavrov to RT: Americans are 'running the show' in Ukraine yet blaming Russia

Lavrov interview on RT
© RT
As the standoff in the eastern Ukraine deteriorates into violence it's up to world powers to step in and calm things down. Despite tough talk from Washington, the US, EU, Russia and Ukraine have managed to reach a framework to peace in Geneva. But will it be enough to avert a civil war? Sophie asks the Russian Foreign minister himself - Sergey Lavrov is on Sophie&Co today.


Full Transcript:

Sophie Shevardnadze: Sergey Lavrov, Russia's Foreign minister, it's great to have you on our show today.

Sergey Lavrov: Thank you for the invitation.

SS: So, just the other day Joe Biden on his visit to Kiev said that time is short for Russia to make progress on its commitments made in Geneva. What is expected of Russia?

SL: Well, it's difficult to say because I discuss this almost daily with John Kerry. And frankly the American colleagues chose to put all the blame on Russia, including the origin of the conflict and including the steps which must be taken. They accuse us of having Russian troops, Russian agents in the east and South of Ukraine. They say that it is for the Russians only to give orders and the buildings illegally occupied would be liberated and that it is for the Russians to make sure that the East and South of Ukraine stops putting forward the demands for the federalization and the referendum and so on and so forth. This is absolute...you know...switching the goal post if you wish. In Geneva we all agreed that there must be reciprocal approach to any illegitimate action in Ukraine, be it in Kiev, be it in the West, be it in the East, be it in the South. And the people who started the process of illegitimate actions must step back first. It is absolutely abnormal due to any norms in a European city that Maidan is still occupied, that the buildings in Kiev are still occupied and in some other cities, that those who put on fire the buildings belonging to Communist party headquarters in Kiev, the buildings belonging to the Trade Union headquarters are not even under investigation. I don't even want to mention the sniper cases because everyone forgot about those snipers. And we only hear that "Let's concentrate on eliminating terrorist threats in the East and in the South".
Candle

Turkey offer historic condolences to Armenia over WWI mass killings

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan
© AFP
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan
Turkey has, for the first time, offered condolences to the descendants of the victims of the mass killing of Armenians by Ottoman troops during the First World War.

In a rare expression of sympathy on the eve of the 99th anniversary of the mass killing of Armenians, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan issued an official statement on Wednesday which was translated into nine different languages, including Armenian.

Using an unprecedented conciliatory language, the Turkish premier called for dialogue between the two countries, and the formation of a commission to probe the incident.
"It is with this hope and belief that we wish that the Armenians who lost their lives in the context of the early 20th century rest in peace, and we convey our condolences to their grandchildren," Erdogan said.
"Having experienced events which had inhumane consequences - such as relocation - during the First World War, should not prevent Turks and Armenians from establishing compassion and mutually humane attitudes towards one another," he added.

Comment: It has taken almost 100 years for Turkey to admit to this dark spot in Turkish history and despite it being a genocide, this is not acknowledged by Ankara. Israel has been a key supporter in not calling it a genocide and certainly not a holocaust, a term which Israel has virtually claimed a patent on.

The forgotten holocaust:
The Armenian Genocide was a systematic extermination that occurred during World War One, mostly in 1915. The killers were Ottoman Turks: agents and soldiers of that government, as well as eager civilians.

The slaughter took place in two phases. First was the wholesale killing of able-bodied Armenian males through massacre and forced labor. Afterward came the deportation of women, children, the elderly and the infirm, on death marches into the Syrian Desert.

All told, perhaps 1.5 million people were killed. The vast majority of these were Armenians, but the Turks also killed large numbers of Assyrian Christians, Greeks, and other minority groups.

In many ways - including that of medical experiments on victims - the Armenian Genocide was the direct forerunner of the Nazi Genocide against the Jews.

Armenian Genocide_1
© Wikipedia
“Scenes like this were common all over the Armenian provinces, in the spring and summer months of 1915. Death in its several forms—massacre, starvation, exhaustion—destroyed the larger part of the refugees. The Turkish policy was that of extermination under the guise of deportation.”


Eye 1

Police state USA - The creation of a border security state


The zone pictured is what the ACLU refers to as the "hundred-mile rule", which stipulates that Border Patrol can do a warrantless search on anyone who is within one hundred miles of U.S. coastlines and land borders. These Homeland Security officers have federal, extra-constitutional powers that are well above and beyond those of local law enforcement. It appears to have been adopted without any public debate or scrutiny
With the agility of a seasoned Border Patrol veteran, the woman rushed after the students. She caught up with them just before they entered the exhibition hall of the eighth annual Border Security Expo, reaching out and grabbing the nearest of them by the shoulder. Slightly out of breath, she said, "You can't go in there, give me back your badges."

The astonished students had barely caught a glimpse of the dazzling pavilion of science-fiction-style products in that exhibition hall at the Phoenix Convention Center. There, just beyond their view, more than 100 companies, including Raytheon, General Dynamics, and Verizon, were trying to sell the latest in futuristic border policing technology to anyone with the money to buy it.

The students from Northeastern Illinois University didn't happen to fall into that category. An earnest manager at a nearby registration table insisted that, as they were not studying "border security," they weren't to be admitted. I asked him how he knew just what they were studying. His only answer was to assure me that next year no students would be allowed in at all.

Among the wonders those students would miss was a fake barrel cactus with a hollow interior (for the southern border) and similarly hollow tree stumps (for the northern border), all capable of being outfitted with surveillance cameras. "Anything that grows or exists in nature," Kurt Lugwisen of TimberSpy told a local Phoenix television station, "we build it."
Airplane

FBI adds people to No Fly List for refusing to become informants

No Fly List
© Bogdan Cristel/Reuters
Innocent people are being put on the no-fly list as coercion or punishment by the FBI, a lawsuit alleges.
Naveed Shinwari hasn't seen his wife in 26 months. He suspects it's because he refused to become an informant for the FBI.

In February 2012 Shinwari, who has lived in the US since he was 14, flew to Afghanistan to get married. He says that before he could get home to Omaha, Nebraska, he was twice detained and questioned by FBI agents who wanted to know if he knew anything about national security threats. A third FBI visit followed when he got home.

The following month, after Shinwari bought another plane ticket for a temporary job in Connecticut, he couldn't get a boarding pass. Police told him he had been placed on the US no-fly list, although he had never in his life been accused of breaking any law. Another FBI visit soon followed, with agents wanting to know about the "local Omaha community, did I know anyone who's a threat", he says.

"I'm just very frustrated, [and I said] what can I do to clear my name?" recalls Shinwari, 30. "And that's where it was mentioned to me: you help us, we help you. We know you don't have a job; we'll give you money."

Shinwari is one of four American Muslims in a new lawsuit who accuse the FBI of placing them on the no-fly list, either to intimidate them into becoming informants or to retaliate against them for declining.

Filed on Tuesday night in the US district court for the southern district of New York, the case accuses the US attorney general, Eric Holder, the FBI director, James Comey, the homeland security secretary, Jeh Johnson, and two dozen FBI agents of creating an atmosphere in which Muslims who are not accused of wrongdoing are forbidden from flying, apparently as leverage to get them snitching on their communities.
Camera

Los Angeles cops already using spy drones for 'predictive policing'

Video Surveillance
© Screenshot from Center for Investigative Journalism video
The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department secretly used a civilian aircraft to monitor the 10-square-mile area of Compton in 2012, recording high-resolution video of all that happened n the region.

"We literally watched all of Compton during the times that we were flying, so we could zoom in anywhere within the city of Compton and follow cars and see people," said Ross McNutt of Persistent Surveillance Systems, according to The Atlantic.

This type of surveillance, which was used to find suspected bombers in Iraq and Afghanistan, allows police to zoom into recordings Google Earth-style.

The technology can stay in the air for six hours and is being marketed to police departments across the United States, allowing police to rewind recordings to watch areas they couldn't monitor in real time.

Sgt. Douglas Iketani of the L.A. County Sheriff's Department openly compared the secret test to Big Brother, though apparently it didn't make him stop short of using it.

"This system was kind of kept confidential from everybody in the public," Iketani said to the Center for Investigative Reporting. "A lot of people do have a problem with the eye in the sky, the Big Brother, so to mitigate those kinds of complaints we basically kept it pretty hush hush."
Gear

Eurasian project: Eyeing pipeline, Russia forgives North Korean debt

© flickr/ Bernt Rostad
On Friday Russia's parliament voted to write off roughly 90 percent of North Korea's debt as Moscow seeks to build a gas pipeline through the Hermit Kingdom.

This weekend Reuters reported that Russia's Duma voted to write off roughly $10 billion worth of the debt that North Korea owes Moscow from the days of the Soviet Union. The vote ratified an agreement made in September 2012, after a meeting between then-President Dmitry Medvedev and then-North Korean leader Kim Jong-il in Siberia in the summer of 2011.

At the time the agreement was first announced, The Guardian reported, citing Russia's Finance Minister Sergei Storchak, that Moscow would forgive "90% of the debt and reinvest $1bn as part of a debt-for-aid plan to develop energy, health care and educational projects in North Korea." Russian experts hailed the agreement as a sign that North Korea's leadership was looking to initiate market style reforms in the reclusive country.
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