LAURA KNIGHT-JADCZYK AND JOE QUINN
Since the 9/11 attacks, no book has provided a satisfactory answer as to WHY the attacks occurred and who was ultimately responsible for carrying them out - until now.
Europe stumbled into a debate over the end of sanctions on the economically distressed Russia after French President Francois Hollande became the first major leader to dangle the prospect of easing the curbs. [...]It's obvious that the sanctions would hurt the EU badly, but that has been known all along by anyone with two neurons firing, so the timing by the French President is interesting, especially given that Canada and the US have announced a new round of sanctions on Russia, although they have yet to be implemented:
Hollande urged the EU to offer early "de-escalation" to reward expected peace overtures by Russian President Vladimir Putin in eastern Ukraine, while others including German Chancellor Angela Merkel put off sanctions relief until a settlement emerges.
Hollande warned that declining demand from Russia knocks out one of the props of Europe's economy.No doubt! But the fact that a major European leader dared to question the sanctions regime is significant and made it easier for others to follow suit:
Europe's divisions were on display yesterday, with Austria joining the call for early sanctions relief and Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi saying: "New sanctions? Absolutely no!"That Poland and the Baltic states want tougher sanctions, or at least to keep the existing sanctions, shouldn't come as any surprise, but their voice in the EU does not carry much weight.
The Israeli army might be forced to attack Gaza again, said the Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon on Tuesday, according to the army's radio channel.And something to keep in mind whenever you hear about 'Hamas Rockets.'
Ya'alon met with Israeli soldiers and told them that they need to be ready for another war in Gaza anytime, the Israeli news radio reported. Ya'alon reportedly said, "The army might be forced to attack Gaza with all its power."
The false image of Palestinians as 'terrorists' who want to 'destroy Israel' is promoted by Israel as a bulwark against the emergence of a genuine movement for Palestinian rights that can be accepted internationally. To perpetuate the idea that Paestinian = terrorist, Israel has to launch periodic 'anti-terrorist' operations against the Palestinian people. When such operations are politically expedient, Israel manufactures a 'provocation' to justify the operation.See also: Hamas blames 'Israeli collaborators' for launching rockets
The Hamas rulers of Gaza Strip on Tuesday lashed out at gunners who fire rockets at Israel from the Palestinian territory in violation of a seven-week-old calm, calling them Israeli collaborators. "About the rocket-firing, I think those who are responsible are those who collaborate with Israel because there is a consensus by all Palestinian groups to respect the truce," said Dr. Mahmud Zahar, a senior leader of the Hamas movement.Is the latest attack by Israel another attempt at demonizing Hamas?
Nobody has claimed responsibility so far for the rocket attack, but the former deputy defense minister Danny Danon rushed to announce that the incident once again proves that Hamas, ruling Gaza, is a terrorist organization. "If anyone doubted this then they received the answer now with the [rocket] fire,"Danon said.
At the same time, though, Obama said the attack should serve as a wake-up call to Congress and prompt lawmakers in Washington, DC to get serious about implementing cybersecurity legislation in the wake of what is only the latest hack to be endured by a major American company.
North Korean hackers, seeking revenge for the movie, stole millions of documents, including emails, health records and financial information that they dished out to the world.
American officials have concluded that North Korea was "centrally involved" in the hacking of Sony Pictures computers, even as the studio canceled the release of a far-fetched comedy about the assassination of the North's leader that is believed to have led to the cyberattack.
Senior administration officials, who would not speak on the record about the intelligence findings, said the White House was debating whether to publicly accuse North Korea of what amounts to a cyberterrorism attack. Sony capitulated after the hackers threatened additional attacks, perhaps on theaters themselves, if the movie, "The Interview," was released.
Officials said it was not clear how the White House would respond. Some within the Obama administration argue that the government of Kim Jong-un must be confronted directly. But that raises questions of what actions the administration could credibly threaten, or how much evidence to make public without revealing details of how it determined North Korea's culpability, including the possible penetration of the North's computer networks. [...]
It is not clear how the United States determined that Mr. Kim's government had played a central role in the Sony attacks. North Korea's computer network has been notoriously difficult to infiltrate. But the National Security Agency began a major effort four years ago to penetrate the country's computer operations, including its elite cyberteam, and to establish "implants" in the country's networks that, like a radar system, would monitor the development of malware transmitted from the country.
...while the gains of the orange-bedecked "chestnut revolution" are Ukraine's, the campaign is an American creation, a sophisticated and brilliantly conceived exercise in western branding and mass marketing that, in four countries in four years, has been used to try to salvage rigged elections and topple unsavoury regimes.
Funded and organised by the US government, deploying US consultancies, pollsters, diplomats, the two big American parties and US non-government organisations, the campaign was first used in Europe in Belgrade in 2000 to beat Slobodan Milosevic at the ballot box.
Richard Miles, the US ambassador in Belgrade, played a key role. And by last year, as US ambassador in Tbilisi, he repeated the trick in Georgia, coaching Mikhail Saakashvili in how to bring down Eduard Shevardnadze.
Ten months after the success in Belgrade, the US ambassador in Minsk, Michael Kozak, a veteran of similar operations in central America, notably in Nicaragua, organised a near identical campaign to try to defeat the Belarus hardman, Alexander Lukashenko.
That one failed. "There will be no Kostunica in Belarus," the Belarus president declared, referring to the victory in Belgrade.
But experience gained in Serbia, Georgia and Belarus has been invaluable in plotting to beat the regime of Leonid Kuchma in Kiev.
The operation - engineering democracy through the ballot box and civil disobedience - is now so slick that the methods have matured into a template for winning other people's elections.Not only has Ukraine suffered because of this admitted US-backed political destabilization over the years, but as revealed by the Guardian and other sources, all of Eastern Europe has fallen prey to this brand of foreign-backed subversion, manipulation, and regime change. Considering this documented fact, the prospect of Wall Street and Washington trying likewise in Russia itself is not only possible, it has already been tried before, with likely attempts in the future only inevitable.
Russia could fall back on its 150 billion yuan (HK$189.8 billion) currency swap agreement with China if the rouble continues to plunge.Most of the sanctions placed upon Russia oil companies and investment banks stem primarily from several ground-breaking agreements the Eurasian state has made this year to facilitate the selling of oil and other products in currencies other than the dollar.
If the swap deal is activated for this purpose, it would mark the first time China is called upon to use its currency to bail out another currency in crisis. The deal was signed by the two central banks in October, when Premier Li Keqiang visited Russia.
"Russia badly needs liquidity support and the swap line could be an ideal tool," said Bank of Communications chief economist Lian Ping.
The swap allows the central banks to directly buy yuan and rouble in the two currencies, rather than via the US dollar.
Two bankers close to the People's Bank of China said it was meant to reduce the role of the US dollar if China and Russia need to help each other overcome a liquidity squeeze. - South China Morning Post