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Saturday, 25 October 2014

Israeli army kills 14-year old Palestinian with U.S. citizenship

slain Palestinian youth, Orwa Hammad

© Shadi Hattem

14-year old slain Palestinian youth, Orwa Hammad who is also a U.S. citizen, was killed by the Israeli army, October 24, 2014.

A Palestinian teen with U.S. citizenship was killed today by the Israeli army at a demonstration in the West Bank town of Silwad, near Ramallah. Fourteen-year old Orwah Hammad was shot with a live bullet that entered his neck and exited through his head, according to Ramallah hospital staff. He died while being treated at Ramallah hospital around 6 p.m. this evening, Jerusalem time.

The killing comes eight days after Israeli soldiers killed a 13-year-old boy during a raid on a West Bank village.

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Hammad's father, Abdulwahhab Hammad, lives in Louisiana and was informed of his son's killing via telephone. His mother, Ikhlas Hammad, is in Jordan visiting relatives, but is said to be traveling back to the West Bank this evening.

"The Israeli soldier shot directly at the child," said mayor of Silwad Abu Salah. "His father wanted his children to live here, not in America," he continued.

The slain youth's remains will be held in the morgue of Ramallah hospital until Sunday, when his father is due to arrive. A funeral will be held the same day with a procession in Ramallah, and a burial in the family's home village of Silwad.

Hammad was shot while taking part in a weekly Friday protest against Israel's occupation of the West Bank. Witnesses said Hammad was stone throwing when he was struck.

"Orwah is the tenth Palestinian child killed by Israeli forces with live ammunition in the occupied West Bank in 2014," said Brad Parker, attorney and international advocacy officer at Defense for Children International-Palestine. "Impunity is the norm for Israeli soldiers that commit violence against children as they consistently violate their own live-fire regulations and know that they will not be held accountable for their actions no matter what the result. There is no justice or accountability for child victims."

Update: Here is the State Department statement from Jen Psaki today: "Death of US minor in Silwad.

"The United States expresses its deepest condolences to the family of a U.S. citizen minor who was killed by the Israeli Defense Forces during clashes in Silwad on October 24. Officials from the U.S. Consulate General in Jerusalem are in contact with the family and are providing all appropriate consular assistance. We call for a speedy and transparent investigation, and will remain closely engaged with the local authorities, who have the lead on this investigation. We continue to urge all parties to help restore calm and avoid escalating tensions in the wake of the tragic recent incidents in Jerusalem and the West Bank.

Putin's keynote speech at the Valdai Club

The Valdai Discussion Club was established in 2004. It was named after Lake Valdai, which is located close to Veliky Novgorod, where the club's first meeting took place. The club's goal is to promote dialogue between Russian and international intellectual elite, and to make an independent,unbiased scientific analysis of political, economic and social events in Russia and the rest of the world.

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Full Transcript:

Colleagues, ladies and gentlemen, friends, it is a pleasure to welcome you to the XI meeting of the Valdai International Discussion Club.

It was mentioned already that the club has new co-organisers this year. They include Russian non-governmental organisations, expert groups and leading universities. The idea was also raised of broadening the discussions to include not just issues related to Russia itself but also global politics and the economy.

I hope that these changes in organisation and content will bolster the club's influence as a leading discussion and expert forum. At the same time, I hope the 'Valdai spirit' will remain - this free and open atmosphere and chance to express all manner of very different and frank opinions.

Let me say in this respect that I will also not let you down and will speak directly and frankly. Some of what I say might seem a bit too harsh, but if we do not speak directly and honestly about what we really think, then there is little point in even meeting in this way. It would be better in that case just to keep to diplomatic get-togethers, where no one says anything of real sense and, recalling the words of one famous diplomat, you realise that diplomats have tongues so as not to speak the truth.

We get together for other reasons. We get together so as to talk frankly with each other. We need to be direct and blunt today not so as to trade barbs, but so as to attempt to get to the bottom of what is actually happening in the world, try to understand why the world is becoming less safe and more unpredictable, and why the risks are increasing everywhere around us.

Today's discussion took place under the theme: New Rules or a Game without Rules. I think that this formula accurately describes the historic turning point we have reached today and the choice we all face. There is nothing new of course in the idea that the world is changing very fast. I know this is something you have spoken about at the discussions today. It is certainly hard not to notice the dramatic transformations in global politics and the economy, public life, and in industry, information and social technologies.

Let me ask you right now to forgive me if I end up repeating what some of the discussion's participants have already said. It's practically impossible to avoid. You have already held detailed discussions, but I will set out my point of view. It will coincide with other participants' views on some points and differ on others.

As we analyse today's situation, let us not forget history's lessons. First of all, changes in the world order - and what we are seeing today are events on this scale - have usually been accompanied by if not global war and conflict, then by chains of intensive local-level conflicts. Second, global politics is above all about economic leadership, issues of war and peace, and the humanitarian dimension, including human rights.

The world is full of contradictions today. We need to be frank in asking each other if we have a reliable safety net in place. Sadly, there is no guarantee and no certainty that the current system of global and regional security is able to protect us from upheavals. This system has become seriously weakened, fragmented and deformed. The international and regional political, economic, and cultural cooperation organisations are also going through difficult times.

Yes, many of the mechanisms we have for ensuring the world order were created quite a long time ago now, including and above all in the period immediately following World War II. Let me stress that the solidity of the system created back then rested not only on the balance of power and the rights of the victor countries, but on the fact that this system's 'founding fathers' had respect for each other, did not try to put the squeeze on others, but attempted to reach agreements.

The main thing is that this system needs to develop, and despite its various shortcomings, needs to at least be capable of keeping the world's current problems within certain limits and regulating the intensity of the natural competition between countries.

It is my conviction that we could not take this mechanism of checks and balances that we built over the last decades, sometimes with such effort and difficulty, and simply tear it apart without building anything in its place. Otherwise we would be left with no instruments other than brute force.

What we needed to do was to carry out a rational reconstruction and adapt it the new realities in the system of international relations.

But the United States, having declared itself the winner of the Cold War, saw no need for this. Instead of establishing a new balance of power, essential for maintaining order and stability, they took steps that threw the system into sharp and deep imbalance.

The Cold War ended, but it did not end with the signing of a peace treaty with clear and transparent agreements on respecting existing rules or creating new rules and standards. This created the impression that the so-called 'victors' in the Cold War had decided to pressure events and reshape the world to suit their own needs and interests. If the existing system of international relations, international law and the checks and balances in place got in the way of these aims, this system was declared worthless, outdated and in need of immediate demolition.

Pardon the analogy, but this is the way nouveaux riches behave when they suddenly end up with a great fortune, in this case, in the shape of world leadership and domination. Instead of managing their wealth wisely, for their own benefit too of course, I think they have committed many follies.

We have entered a period of differing interpretations and deliberate silences in world politics. International law has been forced to retreat over and over by the onslaught of legal nihilism. Objectivity and justice have been sacrificed on the altar of political expediency. Arbitrary interpretations and biased assessments have replaced legal norms. At the same time, total control of the global mass media has made it possible when desired to portray white as black and black as white.

In a situation where you had domination by one country and its allies, or its satellites rather, the search for global solutions often turned into an attempt to impose their own universal recipes. This group's ambitions grew so big that they started presenting the policies they put together in their corridors of power as the view of the entire international community. But this is not the case.

The very notion of 'national sovereignty' became a relative value for most countries. In essence, what was being proposed was the formula: the greater the loyalty towards the world's sole power centre, the greater this or that ruling regime's legitimacy.

We will have a free discussion afterwards and I will be happy to answer your questions and would also like to use my right to ask you questions. Let someone try to disprove the arguments that I just set out during the upcoming discussion.

The measures taken against those who refuse to submit are well-known and have been tried and tested many times. They include use of force, economic and propaganda pressure, meddling in domestic affairs, and appeals to a kind of 'supra-legal' legitimacy when they need to justify illegal intervention in this or that conflict or toppling inconvenient regimes. Of late, we have increasing evidence too that outright blackmail has been used with regard to a number of leaders. It is not for nothing that 'big brother' is spending billions of dollars on keeping the whole world, including its own closest allies, under surveillance.

Let's ask ourselves, how comfortable are we with this, how safe are we, how happy living in this world, and how fair and rational has it become? Maybe, we have no real reasons to worry, argue and ask awkward questions? Maybe the United States' exceptional position and the way they are carrying out their leadership really is a blessing for us all, and their meddling in events all around the world is bringing peace, prosperity, progress, growth and democracy, and we should maybe just relax and enjoy it all?

Let me say that this is not the case, absolutely not the case.

A unilateral diktat and imposing one's own models produces the opposite result. Instead of settling conflicts it leads to their escalation, instead of sovereign and stable states we see the growing spread of chaos, and instead of democracy there is support for a very dubious public ranging from open neo-fascists to Islamic radicals.

Why do they support such people? They do this because they decide to use them as instruments along the way in achieving their goals but then burn their fingers and recoil. I never cease to be amazed by the way that our partners just keep stepping on the same rake, as we say here in Russia, that is to say, make the same mistake over and over.

They once sponsored Islamic extremist movements to fight the Soviet Union. Those groups got their battle experience in Afghanistan and later gave birth to the Taliban and Al-Qaeda. The West if not supported, at least closed its eyes, and, I would say, gave information, political and financial support to international terrorists' invasion of Russia (we have not forgotten this) and the Central Asian region's countries. Only after horrific terrorist attacks were committed on US soil itself did the United States wake up to the common threat of terrorism. Let me remind you that we were the first country to support the American people back then, the first to react as friends and partners to the terrible tragedy of September 11.

During my conversations with American and European leaders, I always spoke of the need to fight terrorism together, as a challenge on a global scale. We cannot resign ourselves to and accept this threat, cannot cut it into separate pieces using double standards. Our partners expressed agreement, but a little time passed and we ended up back where we started. First there was the military operation in Iraq, then in Libya, which got pushed to the brink of falling apart. Why was Libya pushed into this situation? Today it is a country in danger of breaking apart and has become a training ground for terrorists.

Only the current Egyptian leadership's determination and wisdom saved this key Arab country from chaos and having extremists run rampant. In Syria, as in the past, the United States and its allies started directly financing and arming rebels and allowing them to fill their ranks with mercenaries from various countries. Let me ask where do these rebels get their money, arms and military specialists? Where does all this come from? How did the notorious ISIL manage to become such a powerful group, essentially a real armed force?

As for financing sources, today, the money is coming not just from drugs, production of which has increased not just by a few percentage points but many-fold, since the international coalition forces have been present in Afghanistan. You are aware of this. The terrorists are getting money from selling oil too. Oil is produced in territory controlled by the terrorists, who sell it at dumping prices, produce it and transport it. But someone buys this oil, resells it, and makes a profit from it, not thinking about the fact that they are thus financing terrorists who could come sooner or later to their own soil and sow destruction in their own countries.

Where do they get new recruits? In Iraq, after Saddam Hussein was toppled, the state's institutions, including the army, were left in ruins. We said back then, be very, very careful. You are driving people out into the street, and what will they do there? Don't forget (rightfully or not) that they were in the leadership of a large regional power, and what are you now turning them into?

What was the result? Tens of thousands of soldiers, officers and former Baath Party activists were turned out into the streets and today have joined the rebels' ranks. Perhaps this is what explains why the Islamic State group has turned out so effective? In military terms, it is acting very effectively and has some very professional people. Russia warned repeatedly about the dangers of unilateral military actions, intervening in sovereign states' affairs, and flirting with extremists and radicals. We insisted on having the groups fighting the central Syrian government, above all the Islamic State, included on the lists of terrorist organisations. But did we see any results? We appealed in vain.

We sometimes get the impression that our colleagues and friends are constantly fighting the consequences of their own policies, throw all their effort into addressing the risks they themselves have created, and pay an ever-greater price.

Colleagues, this period of unipolar domination has convincingly demonstrated that having only one power centre does not make global processes more manageable. On the contrary, this kind of unstable construction has shown its inability to fight the real threats such as regional conflicts, terrorism, drug trafficking, religious fanaticism, chauvinism and neo-Nazism. At the same time, it has opened the road wide for inflated national pride, manipulating public opinion and letting the strong bully and suppress the weak.

Essentially, the unipolar world is simply a means of justifying dictatorship over people and countries. The unipolar world turned out too uncomfortable, heavy and unmanageable a burden even for the self-proclaimed leader. Comments along this line were made here just before and I fully agree with this. This is why we see attempts at this new historic stage to recreate a semblance of a quasi-bipolar world as a convenient model for perpetuating American leadership. It does not matter who takes the place of the centre of evil in American propaganda, the USSR's old place as the main adversary. It could be Iran, as a country seeking to acquire nuclear technology, China, as the world's biggest economy, or Russia, as a nuclear superpower.

Today, we are seeing new efforts to fragment the world, draw new dividing lines, put together coalitions not built for something but directed against someone, anyone, create the image of an enemy as was the case during the Cold War years, and obtain the right to this leadership, or diktat if you wish. The situation was presented this way during the Cold War. We all understand this and know this. The United States always told its allies: "We have a common enemy, a terrible foe, the centre of evil, and we are defending you, our allies, from this foe, and so we have the right to order you around, force you to sacrifice your political and economic interests and pay your share of the costs for this collective defence, but we will be the ones in charge of it all of course."In short, we see today attempts in a new and changing world to reproduce the familiar models of global management, and all this so as to guarantee their [the US'] exceptional position and reap political and economic dividends.

But these attempts are increasingly divorced from reality and are in contradiction with the world's diversity. Steps of this kind inevitably create confrontation and countermeasures and have the opposite effect to the hoped-for goals. We see what happens when politics rashly starts meddling in the economy and the logic of rational decisions gives way to the logic of confrontation that only hurt one's own economic positions and interests, including national business interests.

Joint economic projects and mutual investment objectively bring countries closer together and help to smooth out current problems in relations between states. But today, the global business community faces unprecedented pressure from Western governments. What business, economic expediency and pragmatism can we speak of when we hear slogans such as "the homeland is in danger", "the free world is under threat", and "democracy is in jeopardy"? And so everyone needs to mobilise. That is what a real mobilisation policy looks like.

Sanctions are already undermining the foundations of world trade, the WTO rules and the principle of inviolability of private property. They are dealing a blow to liberal model of globalisation based on markets, freedom and competition, which, let me note, is a model that has primarily benefited precisely the Western countries. And now they risk losing trust as the leaders of globalisation. We have to ask ourselves, why was this necessary? After all, the United States' prosperity rests in large part on the trust of investors and foreign holders of dollars and US securities. This trust is clearly being undermined and signs of disappointment in the fruits of globalisation are visible now in many countries.

The well-known Cyprus precedent and the politically motivated sanctions have only strengthened the trend towards seeking to bolster economic and financial sovereignty and countries' or their regional groups' desire to find ways of protecting themselves from the risks of outside pressure. We already see that more and more countries are looking for ways to become less dependent on the dollar and are setting up alternative financial and payments systems and reserve currencies. I think that our American friends are quite simply cutting the branch they are sitting on. You cannot mix politics and the economy, but this is what is happening now. I have always thought and still think today that politically motivated sanctions were a mistake that will harm everyone, but I am sure that we will come back to this subject later.

We know how these decisions were taken and who was applying the pressure. But let me stress that Russia is not going to get all worked up, get offended or come begging at anyone's door. Russia is a self-sufficient country. We will work within the foreign economic environment that has taken shape, develop domestic production and technology and act more decisively to carry out transformation. Pressure from outside, as has been the case on past occasions, will only consolidate our society, keep us alert and make us concentrate on our main development goals.

Of course the sanctions are a hindrance. They are trying to hurt us through these sanctions, block our development and push us into political, economic and cultural isolation, force us into backwardness in other words. But let me say yet again that the world is a very different place today. We have no intention of shutting ourselves off from anyone and choosing some kind of closed development road, trying to live in autarky. We are always open to dialogue, including on normalising our economic and political relations. We are counting here on the pragmatic approach and position of business communities in the leading countries.

Some are saying today that Russia is supposedly turning its back on Europe - such words were probably spoken already here too during the discussions - and is looking for new business partners, above all in Asia. Let me say that this is absolutely not the case. Our active policy in the Asian-Pacific region began not just yesterday and not in response to sanctions, but is a policy that we have been following for a good many years now. Like many other countries, including Western countries, we saw that Asia is playing an ever greater role in the world, in the economy and in politics, and there is simply no way we can afford to overlook these developments.

Let me say again that everyone is doing this, and we will do so to, all the more so as a large part of our country is geographically in Asia. Why should we not make use of our competitive advantages in this area? It would be extremely shortsighted not to do so.

Developing economic ties with these countries and carrying out joint integration projects also creates big incentives for our domestic development. Today's demographic, economic and cultural trends all suggest that dependence on a sole superpower will objectively decrease. This is something that European and American experts have been talking and writing about too.

Perhaps developments in global politics will mirror the developments we are seeing in the global economy, namely, intensive competition for specific niches and frequent change of leaders in specific areas. This is entirely possible.

There is no doubt that humanitarian factors such as education, science, healthcare and culture are playing a greater role in global competition. This also has a big impact on international relations, including because this 'soft power' resource will depend to a great extent on real achievements in developing human capital rather than on sophisticated propaganda tricks.

At the same time, the formation of a so-called polycentric world (I would also like to draw attention to this, colleagues) in and of itself does not improve stability; in fact, it is more likely to be the opposite. The goal of reaching global equilibrium is turning into a fairly difficult puzzle, an equation with many unknowns.

So, what is in store for us if we choose not to live by the rules - even if they may be strict and inconvenient - but rather live without any rules at all? And that scenario is entirely possible; we cannot rule it out, given the tensions in the global situation. Many predictions can already be made, taking into account current trends, and unfortunately, they are not optimistic. If we do not create a clear system of mutual commitments and agreements, if we do not build the mechanisms for managing and resolving crisis situations, the symptoms of global anarchy will inevitably grow.

Today, we already see a sharp increase in the likelihood of a whole set of violent conflicts with either direct or indirect participation by the world's major powers. And the risk factors include not just traditional multinational conflicts, but also the internal instability in separate states, especially when we talk about nations located at the intersections of major states' geopolitical interests, or on the border of cultural, historical, and economic civilizational continents.

Ukraine, which I'm sure was discussed at length and which we will discuss some more, is one of the example of such sorts of conflicts that affect international power balance, and I think it will certainly not be the last. From here emanates the next real threat of destroying the current system of arms control agreements. And this dangerous process was launched by the United States of America when it unilaterally withdrew from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty in 2002, and then set about and continues today to actively pursue the creation of its global missile defence system.

Colleagues, friends,

I want to point out that we did not start this. Once again, we are sliding into the times when, instead of the balance of interests and mutual guarantees, it is fear and the balance of mutual destruction that prevent nations from engaging in direct conflict. In absence of legal and political instruments, arms are once again becoming the focal point of the global agenda; they are used wherever and however, without any UN Security Council sanctions. And if the Security Council refuses to produce such decisions, then it is immediately declared to be an outdated and ineffective instrument.

Many states do not see any other ways of ensuring their sovereignty but to obtain their own bombs. This is extremely dangerous. We insist on continuing talks; we are not only in favour of talks, but insist on continuing talks to reduce nuclear arsenals. The less nuclear weapons we have in the world, the better. And we are ready for the most serious, concrete discussions on nuclear disarmament - but only serious discussions without any double standards.

What do I mean? Today, many types of high-precision weaponry are already close to mass-destruction weapons in terms of their capabilities, and in the event of full renunciation of nuclear weapons or radical reduction of nuclear potential, nations that are leaders in creating and producing high-precision systems will have a clear military advantage. Strategic parity will be disrupted, and this is likely to bring destabilization. The use of a so-called first global pre-emptive strike may become tempting. In short, the risks do not decrease, but intensify.

The next obvious threat is the further escalation of ethnic, religious, and social conflicts. Such conflicts are dangerous not only as such, but also because they create zones of anarchy, lawlessness, and chaos around them, places that are comfortable for terrorists and criminals, where piracy, human trafficking, and drug trafficking flourish.

Incidentally, at the time, our colleagues tried to somehow manage these processes, use regional conflicts and design 'colour revolutions' to suit their interests, but the genie escaped the bottle. It looks like the controlled chaos theory fathers themselves do not know what to do with it; there is disarray in their ranks.

We closely follow the discussions by both the ruling elite and the expert community. It is enough to look at the headlines of the Western press over the last year. The same people are called fighters for democracy, and then Islamists; first they write about revolutions and then call them riots and upheavals. The result is obvious: the further expansion of global chaos.

Colleagues, given the global situation, it is time to start agreeing on fundamental things. This is incredibly important and necessary; this is much better than going back to our own corners. The more we all face common problems, the more we find ourselves in the same boat, so to speak. And the logical way out is in cooperation between nations, societies, in finding collective answers to increasing challenges, and in joint risk management. Granted, some of our partners, for some reason, remember this only when it suits their interests.

Practical experience shows that joint answers to challenges are not always a panacea; and we need to understand this. Moreover, in most cases, they are hard to reach; it is not easy to overcome the differences in national interests, the subjectivity of different approaches, particularly when it comes to nations with different cultural and historical traditions. But nevertheless, we have examples when, having common goals and acting based on the same criteria, together we achieved real success.

Let me remind you about solving the problem of chemical weapons in Syria, and the substantive dialogue on the Iranian nuclear programme, as well as our work on North Korean issues, which also has some positive results. Why can't we use this experience in the future to solve local and global challenges?

What could be the legal, political, and economic basis for a new world order that would allow for stability and security, while encouraging healthy competition, not allowing the formation of new monopolies that hinder development? It is unlikely that someone could provide absolutely exhaustive, ready-made solutions right now. We will need extensive work with participation by a wide range of governments, global businesses, civil society, and such expert platforms as ours.

However, it is obvious that success and real results are only possible if key participants in international affairs can agree on harmonising basic interests, on reasonable self-restraint, and set the example of positive and responsible leadership. We must clearly identify where unilateral actions end and we need to apply multilateral mechanisms, and as part of improving the effectiveness of international law, we must resolve the dilemma between the actions by international community to ensure security and human rights and the principle of national sovereignty and non-interference in the internal affairs of any state.

Those very collisions increasingly lead to arbitrary external interference in complex internal processes, and time and again, they provoke dangerous conflicts between leading global players. The issue of maintaining sovereignty becomes almost paramount in maintaining and strengthening global stability.

Clearly, discussing the criteria for the use of external force is extremely difficult; it is practically impossible to separate it from the interests of particular nations. However, it is far more dangerous when there are no agreements that are clear to everyone, when no clear conditions are set for necessary and legal interference.

I will add that international relations must be based on international law, which itself should rest on moral principles such as justice, equality and truth. Perhaps most important is respect for one's partners and their interests. This is an obvious formula, but simply following it could radically change the global situation.

I am certain that if there is a will, we can restore the effectiveness of the international and regional institutions system. We do not even need to build anything anew, from the scratch; this is not a "greenfield," especially since the institutions created after World War II are quite universal and can be given modern substance, adequate to manage the current situation.

This is true of improving the work of the UN, whose central role is irreplaceable, as well as the OSCE, which, over the course of 40 years, has proven to be a necessary mechanism for ensuring security and cooperation in the Euro-Atlantic region. I must say that even now, in trying to resolve the crisis in southeast Ukraine, the OSCE is playing a very positive role.

In light of the fundamental changes in the international environment, the increase in uncontrollability and various threats, we need a new global consensus of responsible forces. It's not about some local deals or a division of spheres of influence in the spirit of classic diplomacy, or somebody's complete global domination. I think that we need a new version of interdependence. We should not be afraid of it. On the contrary, this is a good instrument for harmonising positions.

This is particularly relevant given the strengthening and growth of certain regions on the planet, which process objectively requires institutionalisation of such new poles, creating powerful regional organisations and developing rules for their interaction. Cooperation between these centres would seriously add to the stability of global security, policy and economy. But in order to establish such a dialogue, we need to proceed from the assumption that all regional centres and integration projects forming around them need to have equal rights to development, so that they can complement each other and nobody can force them into conflict or opposition artificially. Such destructive actions would break down ties between states, and the states themselves would be subjected to extreme hardship, or perhaps even total destruction.

I would like to remind you of the last year's events. We have told our American and European partners that hasty backstage decisions, for example, on Ukraine's association with the EU, are fraught with serious risks to the economy. We didn't even say anything about politics; we spoke only about the economy, saying that such steps, made without any prior arrangements, touch on the interests of many other nations, including Russia as Ukraine's main trade partner, and that a wide discussion of the issues is necessary. Incidentally, in this regard, I will remind you that, for example, the talks on Russia's accession to the WTO lasted 19 years. This was very difficult work, and a certain consensus was reached.

Why am I bringing this up? Because in implementing Ukraine's association project, our partners would come to us with their goods and services through the back gate, so to speak, and we did not agree to this, nobody asked us about this. We had discussions on all topics related to Ukraine's association with the EU, persistent discussions, but I want to stress that this was done in an entirely civilised manner, indicating possible problems, showing the obvious reasoning and arguments. Nobody wanted to listen to us and nobody wanted to talk. They simply told us: this is none of your business, point, end of discussion. Instead of a comprehensive but - I stress - civilised dialogue, it all came down to a government overthrow; they plunged the country into chaos, into economic and social collapse, into a civil war with enormous casualties.

Why? When I ask my colleagues why, they no longer have an answer; nobody says anything. That's it. Everyone's at a loss, saying it just turned out that way. Those actions should not have been encouraged - it wouldn't have worked. After all (I already spoke about this), former Ukrainian President Yanukovych signed everything, agreed with everything. Why do it? What was the point? What is this, a civilised way of solving problems? Apparently, those who constantly throw together new 'colour revolutions' consider themselves 'brilliant artists' and simply cannot stop.

I am certain that the work of integrated associations, the cooperation of regional structures, should be built on a transparent, clear basis; the Eurasian Economic Union's formation process is a good example of such transparency. The states that are parties to this project informed their partners of their plans in advance, specifying the parameters of our association, the principles of its work, which fully correspond with the World Trade Organisation rules.

I will add that we would also have welcomed the start of a concrete dialogue between the Eurasian and European Union. Incidentally, they have almost completely refused us this as well, and it is also unclear why - what is so scary about it?

And, of course, with such joint work, we would think that we need to engage in dialogue (I spoke about this many times and heard agreement from many of our western partners, at least in Europe) on the need to create a common space for economic and humanitarian cooperation stretching all the way from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean.

Colleagues, Russia made its choice. Our priorities are further improving our democratic and open economy institutions, accelerated internal development, taking into account all the positive modern trends in the world, and consolidating society based on traditional values and patriotism.

We have an integration-oriented, positive, peaceful agenda; we are working actively with our colleagues in the Eurasian Economic Union, the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, BRICS and other partners. This agenda is aimed at developing ties between governments, not dissociating. We are not planning to cobble together any blocs or get involved in an exchange of blows.

The allegations and statements that Russia is trying to establish some sort of empire, encroaching on the sovereignty of its neighbours, are groundless. Russia does not need any kind of special, exclusive place in the world - I want to emphasise this. While respecting the interests of others, we simply want for our own interests to be taken into account and for our position to be respected.

We are well aware that the world has entered an era of changes and global transformations, when we all need a particular degree of caution, the ability to avoid thoughtless steps. In the years after the Cold War, participants in global politics lost these qualities somewhat. Now, we need to remember them. Otherwise, hopes for a peaceful, stable development will be a dangerous illusion, while today's turmoil will simply serve as a prelude to the collapse of world order.

Yes, of course, I have already said that building a more stable world order is a difficult task. We are talking about long and hard work. We were able to develop rules for interaction after World War II, and we were able to reach an agreement in Helsinki in the 1970s. Our common duty is to resolve this fundamental challenge at this new stage of development.

Thank you very much for your attention.

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Lava stream threatening homes and inching closer to road on Hawaii's Big Island

© AP Photo/U.S. Geological Survey

In this Oct. 22, 2014 photo provided by the U.S. Geological Survey, geologists walk over the surface of the flow to track surface breakouts along a portion of the flow margin, about a kilometer upslope of the flow front. A 13-mile finger of lava from Kilauea Volcano has started to again move quickly, and could hit a secondary road sometime Friday, Oct. 24, 2014. Officials on Hawaii's Big Island won't start evacuating people until the lava flow is within three to five days of affecting Pahoa residents.

A growing lava stream threatening homes and inching closer to a rural road on Hawaii's Big Island oozed forward in fits and starts this week, frustrating some residents but giving officials a window of time to prepare. The narrow, leading edge of the lava flow is now just 250 yards from the one-lane country road, which has been closed. Crews are working on an alternate route for remote communities in the Puna district in case the lava crosses a major thoroughfare.

The lava sped up over the past few days, advancing nearly 460 yards from Thursday morning to Friday, but it slowed again Friday morning, officials said. The flow's fitful nature is taking a toll on some Big Island residents, who got a brief reprieve from the advancing molten stream only to have to raise their guard again.

"This stop-and-go - it's going to be very frustrating for our residents," said Darryl Oliveira, director of Hawaii County Civil Defense. "It raises the anxiety level. It raises the concern."

On the other hand, the sporadic suspensions in activity gave emergency crews time to work on building another road and deal with a recent tropical storm that swept by the island, Oliveira said.

Crews near the leading edge have been wrapping power poles with concrete rings as a layer of protection from the lava's heat.

The recent acceleration came when the lava reached a gully, allowing it to move more efficiently like rain in a gutter, Oliveira said.

"It's already starting to widen out at the bottom, which might mean that it will slow down again," he said.

No evacuations have been ordered, and the residents of a home that is nearest to the flow already have left voluntarily.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie signed a request Friday for a Presidential Disaster Declaration asking for federal assistance to help local emergency crews.

Hawaii County Civil Defense crews are planning to go door-to-door Saturday to about a dozen homes to find out how many people might need shelter if the eruption continues, and to find any obstacles like abandoned cars or hazards that could be in the lava's path.

Oliveira said he would give residents three to five days' notice before an evacuation order, and he stressed that the community is not yet at that point.

Some long-term locals are used to the uncertainties of living near one of the world's most active volcanos.

"Because of what they've experienced over the course of their lifetimes, they were very accepting ... that this is nature's thing," Oliveira said. "But on the other hand, we have people who are new to the island who don't really understand how it's playing out and what to expect and having a harder time preparing."

Rapid fire X-Flares from Sunspot AR2192

Flares have been predicted, sunspot AR2192 has complied. In the past 24 hours, the giant active region has produced two X-class solar flares: X3 (Oct. 24 @ 2140 UT) and X1 (Oct 25 @ 1709 UT). Using a backyard solar telescope, Sergio Castillo of Corona, California, was monitoring the sunspot on Oct. 24th when it exploded, and he snapped this picture:

© Sergio Castillo

"This flare was so intense that it almost shorted out my computer! Well ... not really," says Castillo, "but I knew right away that it was an X-class eruption."

Both X-flares produced brief but strong HF radio blackouts over the dayside of Earth. Communications were disturbed over a wide area for appeoximately one hour after the peak of each explosion. Such blackouts may be noticed by amateur radio operators, aviators, and mariners.

Interestingly, none of the X-flares from this active region has so far produced a major CME. The latest eruptions on Oct. 24-25 appear to be no exception. As a result, Earth-effects may be limited to the radio blackouts. However, stay tuned for updates as analysts look more carefully at coronagraph data for signs of an incoming CME. Solar flare alerts: text, voice

Washington Post beats the war drums for widening US attack on Syria and overthrowing Assad

Two articles in Friday's reporting chemical weapons attacks in Iraq and Syria are part of a general propaganda campaign by the mainstream media to turn the operation against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) into a war to overthrow the regime of Bashar al-Assad in Syria.

A front-page article headlined "Jihadist launched chemical assault" reports that ISIS forces deployed chlorine gas in an attack last month against Sunni police officers in the Iraqi city of Duluiyah, approximately 60 miles north of Baghdad. The officers reported being overcome by a cloud of yellow gas which hung low to the ground, consistent with chlorine gas. The attack reportedly sickened at least 11 officers who were taken to a nearby hospital and treated with oxygen and anti-inflammatory medication for shortness of breath.

According to the Iraq Defense Ministry, ISIS has obtained significant quantities chlorine from water treatment facilities where the chemical is used to chlorinate water to prevent the spread of water-borne disease. Improvised chlorine bombs were used previously by Al-Qaeda in Iraq, the predecessor of ISIS, at the height of the Sunni insurgency against the US occupation in 2006 and 2007.

There have been other reports in recent weeks of the use of chlorine gas by ISIS in Iraq. According to soldiers who managed to escape an ISIS attack last month on the Saqlawiyah military base in Anbar Province, chlorine gas was deployed as part of the brutal assault which killed approximately 370 soldiers. ISIS fighters reportedly fired chlorine gas canisters into the base.

The Al Nusra Front is suspected of being responsible for a chlorine gas attack in March of last year that killed 26 Syrians, including 16 Syrian soldiers. The Al Nusra Front seized control of the Sheikh Suleiman military base in western Aleppo as well as a chlorine factory at the end of 2012, giving them access to chemical weaponry. Sheikh Suleimna, also known as Base 111, is believed to have been an important site in Syria's chemical weapons program.

The editorial titled "Obama gives Syria's Assad another pass on chemical weapons," seizes on the recent reports of use of chlorine weapons by ISIS in Iraq to press for the overthrow of the Assad regime in Syria. "The Islamic State, too, may be using chlorine," the editorial states, but "the difference is that, while the United States has mobilized a coalition against the Islamic State, Mr. Assad is taking advantage of the fact that the U.S. strategy in Syria is to ignore him."

The paper states quite bluntly that "the Assad regime is once again blatantly violating the 'red line' drawn by Mr. Obama against the use of chemical weapons - and getting away with it." The editorial quotes Simon Limage, a State Department nonproliferation official, who said that the "evidence strongly suggests the Assad regime is the culprit."

The editorial cites a report published this week by the Institute for the Study of War (ISW), a Washington, D.C. think-tank which laid blame

Kimberly Kagan, all-in the Neocon family.

for 18 recent alleged chlorine gas attacks in rebel held areas on the Assad regime. The ISW was founded and is overseen by Kimberly Kagan, the sister-in-law of Robert Kagan, one of the founders of the neoconservative Project for a New American Century. Kimberly Kagan served as an advisor to Generals Stanley McChrystal and David Petraeus during President Barack Obama's surge in Afghanistan in 2009 and 2010.

The editorial concludes that Obama's refusal to establish a no-fly zone or target the Syrian military has given the Assad regime "a pass." The conclusion which the Washington Post intends for its readers draw is that a massive military campaign must be undertaken immediately to oust Assad.

Ironically this propaganda for war is published on the same day that the news reporting vindicates earlier exposures of the Western-backed "rebels'" responsibility for chemical weapons attacks in Syria that were largely ignored by the mainstream media at the time.

UN special investigator Carla Del Ponte stated in May of last year that investigators had "strong, concrete suspicions" of the use of sarin gas "on the part of the opposition, the rebels, not by the government authorities."

Plots by Al Qaeda in Iraq, the precursor to ISIS, and Al Qaeda's affiliate in Syria, the Al Nusra Front, were broken up in May and June of last year. The groups were accused of planning to manufacture and deploy chemical weapons, including sarin and mustard gas.

The Iraqi Defense Ministry arrested five members of ISIS in Baghdad who were allegedly seeking to deploy chemical agents against crowds of Shia pilgrims via remote controlled planes. Turkish authorities claimed to have broken up a plot by the Al-Nusrah Front to launch a sarin gas attack either inside Syria or on the Incirlik Air Base in Turkey.

Pulitzer Prize winning investigative journalist Seymour Hersh exposed claims by the imperialist powers that Assad was responsible for a sarin gas attack on the rebel-held Damascus suburb of Ghouta in August last year as a calculated fraud. Hersh reported that Al Nusra also had the capability to deploy sarin gas in Syria but never came under suspicion from the US. This remarkable exposure of claims that had served as the principal pretext for the Obama administration's aborted plan to launch air strikes against Syria at the time was subsequently buried by US media.

The is seizing upon the most recent claims of chemical weapons attacks in Iraq and Syria as part of a cynical maneuver in the Obama administration's drive to oust the Assad regime. The yellow press is churning out this propaganda in an attempt to prepare the general population for an escalation of the current military operations against ISIS into an all-out war for regime change in Syria.

Comment: Forget the fact that the US military used chemical weapons against civilians in Fallujah, Iraq to terrible effect. Forget that the US - installed junta in Kiev used white phosphorous on civilians in Eastern Ukraine. And Forget that the US-armed IDF has dropped white phosphorous on innocents in Gaza. Now the US humanitarian 'red line' says that Syria mustn't use chemical weapons even if it doesn't have them and it's been shown that the government of Bashar al-Assad never used them even when it did have them. How do you like them apples?!? It's WMD redux.

Further, if you think that the study mentioned in the article from the Institute for the Study of War (ISW), and their cronies at the aren't coordinating their propaganda lies with the White House's plans for war, and if you think that the White House didn't already plan to use their attack on ISIS to set the stage for attacking the democratically elected government of Assad, I have a very nice bridge that I'd like to sell you.

Lastly, it will be interesting to see what steps Russia take as soon as it becomes more clear that the aggression is being aimed at the Assad government. So far there has been the sporadic destruction of infrastructure that was supposedly in proximity to ISIS, but the psychopaths in Washington will not be able to restrain themselves for much longer. They can't. They've got a serious death wish and, as we know, Russia has already shown that it would not allow the US to attack Assad in September 2013.

Hang on to your hats folks! Between what is occurring now in both Syria Ukraine the wholesale carnage level is about to jump up a notch or three.

How convenient! Washington school shooting took place during SWAT drill and two weeks before upcoming gun control vote

initiative 594

What are the odds?

Just a few weeks ago, I wrote an article about how a few elite billionaires including Michael Bloomberg and Bill Gates have spent some $8 million to make sure Washington's controversial gun control bill, Initiative 594, will appear on the state's November ballot and that voters will be flooded with anti-gun propaganda in the lead up.

I-594 would require universal background checks, going so far as a making it so that a hunter would not be allowed to hand a gun to a friend on a hunting trip without triggering the background check provisions in the anti-gun bill.

On YouTube, Michael Parkhurst commented, "Commercials promoting the bill have been bombarding us for weeks."

[embedded content]

Now, less than two weeks before that vote, and during or shortly after a SWAT training drill on school district property no less, a school shooting has struck a Marysville, Washington High School just north of Seattle, leaving one student dead and three injured before the Freshman gunman reportedly turned his weapon on himself.

With lightning quick reflexes, the Bloomberg-tied Moms Demand Action group released an official statement calling on voters to learn more about the $8 million gun control vote on Initiative 594 coming up in just 11 days. The politicizing of the event, in other words, sadly but predictably began the moment it happened.

"Gun control is what got these people killed, if teachers had guns most shootings would be deterred," wrote Alderman Josh on Facebook. Michael Howell added, "The trigger is in the head, not the gun."

True, but then again, where's common sense and logic when a multi-million-dollar agenda to destroy the Second Amendment is involved?

Well, it looks like Bloomberg and Gates could've saved themselves the money for all that anti-gun propaganda they've been flooding Washingtonians with: this shooting and its convenient timing should all but ensure that I-594 will pass.

Largest sunspot on sun in more than two decades unleashes massive solar flare


A massive X3.1 solar flare erupts from the giant sunspot AR 12192 on Oct. 24, 2014 in this close-up view from NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory, a spacecraft that constantly watches Earth's nearest star.

The biggest sunspot on the face of the sun in more than two decades unleashed a major flare on Friday (Oct. 24), the fourth intense solar storm from the active star in less than a week.

The solar flare occurred Friday afternoon, reaching its peak at 5:41 p.m. EDT (2141 GMT), and triggered a strong radio blackout at the time, according to the U.S. Space Weather Prediction Center. NASA's sun-watching Solar Dynamics Observatory captured stunning video of the huge solar flare.

The flare erupted from a giant active sunspot known as AR 12192 and was classified as an X3.1-class solar storm - one of the most powerful types of solar storms on the sun - but it is not the first time the sunspot has made its presence known. [Biggest Solar Flares of 2014 in Photos]

"This is the fourth substantial flare from this active region since Oct. 19," NASA spokesperson Karen Fox wrote in a status update.

Indeed, on Sunday (Oct. 19), the sunspot fired off a major X1.1-class solar flare, then followed it up with an intense M8.7-class flare on Wednesday (Oct. 22) that was followed that same day by an X1.6 event.

Sunspots are regions of the sun forged by shifting magnetic fields that are cooler than their surrounding solar material, giving them their dark, blemish-like appearance.

Sunspot AR 12192 dwarfs the Earth and is comparable to Jupiter in its size, according to solar astrophysicist C. Alex Young with NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, who described the sunspot in his blog The Sun Today.

The sunspot is the largest of its kind since November 1990, and is larger than a monster sunspot that spawned a series of major solar flares over Halloween in 2003, Young wrote.

And on Thursday (Oct. 23), the sunspot was hard to miss during a spectacular partial solar eclipse that was visible from North America. Many of the skywatchers who captured photos of the solar eclipse remarked on the surprising sight of a giant sunspot on the face of the sun.

"This was my first time photographing a solar eclipse and I was thrilled to capture the sunspots as well," skywatcher Mark Ezell of Austin, Texas, wrote in an email on Thursday.

X-class solar flares are the most powerful eruptions on the sun. When aimed directly at Earth, X-class flares can potentially pose a danger to astronauts and spacecraft in space, and interfere with navigation, radio and communications signals. M-class flares are ranked as moderate sun storms that can supercharge the Earth's aurora displays. There are also weaker classes of solar storms that have little effect on Earth, including C-class, B-class and even A-class storms.

"Solar flares are powerful bursts of radiation," Fox wrote in the NASA update. "Harmful radiation from a flare cannot pass through Earth's atmosphere to physically affect humans on the ground, however -- when intense enough -- they can disturb the atmosphere in the layer where GPS and communications signals travel."

FATCA: More Americans renounce citizenship - 2014 on pace for a record

© Iphoto

Significant numbers of people are continuing to renounce their U.S. citizenship or end their long-term U.S. residency.

There are 776 names on the Treasury Department list published Friday for the third quarter of 2014.

That's the third highest quarterly figure ever, according to Andrew Mitchel, an international tax lawyer in Centerbrook, Conn., who tracks the data. The total number of published renouncers so far in 2014 is 2,353, putting this year on pace to exceed last year's record total of 2,999, adds Mr. Mitchel.

The Treasury Department is required by law to publish a list of the names of people who renounce quarterly. The list doesn't indicate when people did so or why. It also doesn't distinguish between people giving up passports and those turning in green cards, or indicate what other nationality the individuals hold.

Experts say that the growing number of renunciations by U.S. citizens and permanent residents is linked to a five-year enforcement campaign against U.S. taxpayers who have undeclared offshore accounts. The campaign began after Swiss banking giant UBS admitted in 2009 that it had systematically encouraged U.S. taxpayers to hide assets in secret Swiss accounts.

About 100 other Swiss financial institutions are currently in a U.S. Justice Department program designed to uncover other secret accounts. Recently, attorneys representing 73 of them protested that the terms of the program were too harsh.

Unlike other developed nations, the U.S. taxes citizens on income they earn anywhere in the world. The rule dates to the Civil War. U.S. tax liabilities can also cover children born to Americans abroad, extending the reach of the Internal Revenue Service across generations as well as oceans. There are only partial offsets for double taxation for people who owe taxes both to the U.S. and a foreign country, and the reporting rules are onerous, experts say.

For decades these laws were rarely enforced. Now, scrutiny of Americans abroad is intensifying because of the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act, or Fatca, which Congress passed in 2010. The law's main provisions, which took effect in July, will require foreign financial institutions to report income of their U.S. customers to the IRS.

The U.S. is having it's coolest year on record

The percentage of US HCN stations to reach 90 degrees was the smallest on record this year, with four of the five coolest years occurring above 350 PPM CO2. The most widespread heat occurred in 1931, when more than 98% of stations were over 90 degrees.

© Stevengoddard.wordpress.com

Banker suicides continue: Deutsche banker and former SEC enforcement attorney hangs himself

© Reuters/Luke Macgregor

Back on January 26, a 58-year-old former senior executive at German investment bank behemoth Deutsche Bank, William Broeksmit, was found dead after hanging himself at his London home, and with that, set off an unprecedented series of banker suicides throughout the year which included former Fed officials and numerous JPMorgan traders.

Following a brief late summer spell in which there was little if any news of bankers taking their lives, as reported previously, the banker suicides returned with a bang when none other than the hedge fund partner of infamous former IMF head Dominique Strauss-Khan, Thierry Leyne, a French-Israeli entrepreneur, was found dead after jumping off the 23rd floor of one of the Yoo towers, a prestigious residential complex in Tel Aviv.

Just a few brief hours later the reported that yet another Deutsche Bank veteran has committed suicide, and not just anyone but the bank's associate general counsel, 41 year old Calogero "Charlie" Gambino, who was found on the morning of Oct. 20, having also hung himself by the neck from a stairway banister, which according to the New York Police Department was the cause of death. We assume that any relationship to the famous Italian family carrying that last name is purely accidental.

Here is his bio from a recent conference which he attended:

Charlie J. Gambino is a Managing Director and Associate General Counsel in the Regulatory, Litigation and Internal Investigation group for Deutsche Bank in the Americas. Mr. Gambino served as a staff attorney in the United Securities and Exchange Commission's Division of Enforcement from 1997 to 1999. He also was associated with the law firm of Skadden, Arps, Slate Meagher & Flom from 1999 to 2003. He is a frequent speaker at securities law conferences. Mr. Gambino is a member of the American Bar Association and the Association of the Bar of the City of New York.

As a reminder, the other Deutsche Bank-er who was found dead earlier in the year, William Broeksmit, was involved in the bank's risk function and advised the firm's senior leadership; he was "anxious about various authorities investigating areas of the bank where he worked," according to written evidence from his psychologist, given Tuesday at an inquest at London's Royal Courts of Justice. And now that an almost by hanging has taken placeat Europe's most systemically important bank, and by a person who worked in a nearly identical function - to shield the bank from regulators and prosecutors and cover up its allegedly illegal activities with settlements and fines - is surely bound to raise many questions.

The reports that Mr. Gambino had been "closely involved in negotiating legal issues for Deutsche Bank, including the prolonged probe into manipulation of the London interbank offered rate, or Libor, and ongoing investigations into manipulation of currencies markets, according to people familiar with his role at the bank."

He previously was an associate at a private law firm and a regulatory enforcement lawyer from 1997 to 1999, according to his online LinkedIn profile and biographies for conferences where he spoke. But most notably, as his LinkedIn profile below shows, like many other Wall Street revolving door regulators, he started his career at the SEC itself where he worked from 1997 to 1999.

© Zerohedge

"Charlie was a beloved and respected colleague who we will miss. Our thoughts and sympathy are with his friends and family," Deutsche Bank said in a statement.

Going back to the previous suicide by a DB executive, the bank said at the time of the inquest that Mr. Broeksmit "was not under suspicion of wrongdoing in any matter." At the time of Mr. Broeksmit's death, Deutsche Bank executives sent a memo to bank staff saying Mr. Broeksmit "was considered by many of his peers to be among the finest minds in the fields of risk and capital management." Mr. Broeksmit had left a senior role at Deutsche Bank's investment bank in February 2013, but he remained an adviser until the end of 2013. His most recent title was the investment bank's head of capital and risk-optimization, which included evaluating risks related to complicated transactions.

A thread connecting Broeksmit to wrongdoing, however, was uncovered earlier this summer when Wall Street on Parade referenced his name in relation to the notorious at the time strategy provided by Deutsche Bank and others to allow hedge funds to avoid paying short-term capital gains taxes known as MAPS (see How RenTec Made More Than $34 Billion In Profits Since 1998: "Fictional Derivatives")

From Wall Street on Parade:

Broeksmit's name first emerged in yesterday's Senate hearing as Senator Carl Levin, Chair of the Subcommittee, was questioning Satish Ramakrishna, the Global Head of Risk and Pricing for Global Prime Finance at Deutsche Bank Securities in New York. Ramakrishna was downplaying his knowledge of conversations about how the scheme was about changing short term gains into long term gains, denying that he had been privy to any conversations on the matter.

Levin than asked: "Did you ever have conversations with a man named Broeksmit?" Ramakrishna conceded that he had and that the fact that the scheme had a tax benefit had emerged in that conversation. Ramakrishna could hardly deny this as Levin had just released a November 7, 2008 transcript of a conversation between Ramakrishna and Broeksmit where the tax benefit had been acknowledged.

Another exhibit released by Levin was an August 25, 2009 email from William Broeksmit to Anshu Jain, with a cc to Ramakrishna, where Broeksmit went into copious detail on exactly what the scheme, internally called MAPS, made possible for the bank and for its client, the Renaissance Technologies hedge fund. (See Email from William Broeksmit to Anshu Jain, Released by the U.S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations.)

At one point in the two-page email, Broeksmit reveals the massive risk the bank is taking on, writing: "Size of portfolio tends to be between $8 and $12 billion long and same amount of short. Maximum allowed usage is $16 billion x $16 billion, though this has never been approached."

Broeksmit goes on to say that most of Deutsche's money from the scheme "is actually made by lending them specials that we have on inventory and they pay far above the regular rates for that."

It would appear that with just months until the regulatory crackdown and Congressional kangaroo circus, Broeksmit knew what was about to pass and being deeply implicated in such a scheme, preferred to take the painless way out.

The question then is just what major regulatory revelation is just over the horizon for Deutsche Bank if yet another banker had to take his life to avoid being cross-examined by Congress under oath? For a hint we go back to another report, this time by the FT, which yesterday noted that Deutsche Bank will set aside just under €1bn towards the numerous legal and regulatory issues it faces in its third quarter results next week, the bank confirmed on Friday.

In a statement made after the close of markets, the Frankfurt-based lender said it expected to publish litigation costs of €894m when it announces its results for the July-September period on October 29.

The extra cash will add to Deutsche's already sizeable litigation pot, where the bank has yet to be fined in connection with the London interbank rate-rigging scandal.

It is also facing fines from US authorities over alleged mortgage-backed securities misselling and sanctions violations, which have already seen rivals hit with heavy fines.

Deutsche has also warned that damage from global investigations into whether traders attempted to manipulate the foreign-exchange market could have a material impact on the bank.

The extra charge announced on Friday will bring Deutsche's total litigation reserves to €3.1bn. The bank also has an extra €3.2bn in so-called contingent liabilities for fines that are harder to estimate.

Clearly Deutsche Bank is slowly becoming Europe's own JPMorgan - a criminal bank whose past is finally catching up to it, and where legal fine after legal fine are only now starting to slam the banking behemoth. We will find out just what the nature of the latest litigation charge is next week when Deutsche Bank reports, but one thing is clear: in addition to mortgage, Libor and FX settlements, one should also add gold. Recall from around the time when the first DB banker hung himself: it was then that Elke Koenig, the president of Germany's top financial regulator, Bafin, said that in addition to currency rates, manipulation of precious metals "is worse than the Libor-rigging scandal."

It remains to be seen if Calogero's death was also related to precious metals rigging although it certainly would not be surprising. What is surprising, is that slowly things are starting to fall apart at the one bank which as we won't tire of highlighting, has a bigger pyramid of notional derivatives on its balance sheet than even JPMorgan, amounting to 20 times more than the GDP of Germany itself, and where if any internal investigation ever goes to the very top, then Europe itself, and thus the world, would be in jeopardy.

© Zerohedge

At this point it is probably worth reminding to what great lengths regulators would go just to make sure that Deutsche Bank would never be dragged into a major litigation scandal: recall that the chief enforcer of the SEC during the most critical period following the great crash of 2008, Robert Khuzami, worked previously from 2002 to 2009 at, drumroll, Deutsche Bank most recently as its General Counsel (see "Robert Khuzami Stands To Lose Up To $250,000 If He Pursues Action Against Deutsche Bank" and "Circle Jerk 101: The SEC's Robert Khuzami Oversaw Deutsche Bank's CDO, Has Recused Himself Of DB-Related Matters"). The same Khuzami who just landed a $5 million per year contract (with a 2 year guarantee) with yet another "law firm", Kirkland and Ellis. One wonders: if and when the hammer falls on Deutsche Bank, will it perchance be defended by the same K&E and its latest prominent hire, Robert Khuzami himself?

But usually it is best to just avoid litigation altogether. Which is why perhaps sometimes it is easiest if the weakest links, those whose knowledge can implicate the people all the way at the top, quietly commit suicide in the middle of the night...

EU fail: Domestic agricultural production soars in Russia after food sanctions

russian agriculture

© © RIA Novosti/Sergey Guneev

President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin have put on a new show of unity ahead of upcoming elections by harvesting corn together at a farm in southern Russia's Stavropol Region

When Russian President Vladimir Putin cut off European Union imports of agricultural products earlier this year, one of the rationales was to give a boost to the badly underdeveloped domestic sector - and it seems to be working. September's retail and investment numbers were down but agricultural production soared by 16.8% year-on-year in September, according to Rosstat.

"Domestic demand in Russia remained sluggish in September, retail sales, which reflect household consumption, edging up 1.7% year-on-year. This is slightly better than what we saw in summer and puts the nine month tally at 2.3% y-o-y," Alfa Bank's chief economist Evgeny Gavrilenkov said in a note on October 20. "Conversely, the agriculture sector posted extremely strong growth of 16.6% year-on-year in September and 7.7% in the first nine months of this year. Combined with strong industrial output growth last month (2.8%), driven by import substitution, this should lead to improvements in basic sector output."

russian harvest

Agriculture has become a key sector in the Kremlin's import substitution programme. Despite being a top three world exporter of grain and home to the "Black Earth" regions, some of the most fertile land in the world, Russia continues to import about 40% of its food. It has deficits in raw milk, potatoes, pork and beef to name a few products.

And Russia completely fails to make any of the added value products like posh cheese or cured meats: why invest in complicated food processing products when it is easier and cheaper to simply import them from Europe? In Moscow the problem is particularly acute, with some 60% of food products imported last year.

Russia's food industry came under even more pressure after Russia acceded to the WTO in August 2012. Pork producers in particular immediately felt the squeeze after duties on European's higher quality, lower cost imports were phased out as part of the deal.

But that problem has gone now after the shops were cleared of this competition, leaving a giant gap in the market that the state is hoping local producers will rush to fill. Indeed, the spike in food prices is causing a macro problem as inflation soars, but the Kremlin must be hoping the food companies are using their extra money to improve their production and that their increased market shares will be permanent when the sanctions regime finally comes to an end.

The Kremlin turned the screw on Europe again this week by adding more products to its own sanction list. The federal supervisory agency for agriculture, the Rosselkhoznadzor, said "temporary restrictions" will go into effect this week on European beef and pork offal, as well as beef, pork and chicken fat.

The agency said it imposed the ban because "banned and harmful substances," including antibiotics, had been found in these meat products and byproducts. It did not identify the other substances.

"We reiterate our view that the economy is adjusting to the new environment. Economic growth has slowed, but it is not stagnating or contracting," writes Gavrilenkov.

Analyst: World paying for US military adventures

US Empire

© Duncan Long

The whole world is paying a high price for the US military adventurism across the global, says Dirk Adriaensens, author and journalist from Belgium.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is "totally correct" in saying that the United States is undermining the global security, Adriaensens told Press TV on Saturday.

In a speech to a group of political scholars in Russia's Black Sea resort of Sochi on Friday, the Russian president said US foreign policy has made the world a more dangerous place.

Citing the wars in Iraq, Libya and Syria, Putin said the United States was now "fighting against the results of its own policy."

As part of the strategy put forth in 1997 by the Project for New American Century, the United States is attacking, occupying, and intervening in "some fourteen countries," Adriaensens said.

With respect to "the investment in the military and national security," he said, "no other country comes within light years of the United States."

"The defense budgets of the next 30 countries combined are less than the budget of the Pentagon," Adriaensens continued. "They have military bases everywhere."

"Who is flying drones and bomb(ing) people on foreign soils?" he asked. "It's not Vladimir Putin, it's the United States."

"It's time for the United States to drop this drive for global domination," the author said.

"They [Americans] should leave all the countries. They should shut their military bases and take care of their own people... people all over the world are paying for their military adventures," Adriaensens concluded.

Record challenging heat surges from Central U.S. to East

After many locations over the Plains feel like late summer this weekend, the record-challenging warmth will expand to the Northeast next week.

Millions of people will be reaching for shorts and short-sleeve shirts for a few days as the warmth builds.

High pressure over the South is forecast to continue to pump warm air in from Mexico and provide abundant sunshine to Texas and the Plains this weekend. Some major cities will challenge record highs as a result, including Dallas, Denver, Oklahoma City and Kansas City, Missouri.

According to AccuWeather.com Senior Meteorologist Paul Walker, "Temperatures across the Plains will feel more typical of Labor Day than late October."

New record-high temperatures were achieved on Friday over Texas, Colorado and Wyoming. Denver and surrounding areas broke their record high temperatures on Friday. Denver reached 82 F breaking its old record of 80 set in 2011.

Greybull, Wyoming, reached a high of 77 F breaking the old record of 72 degrees back in 1998. Riverton, Wyoming, reached a high of 74 degrees breaking its record of 68 degrees back in 1995. Delhart, Texas, reached 87 degrees on Friday breaking its old record of 85 degrees set in 2012.

Temperatures will run between 10-15 degrees F above average as far north as North Dakota through the weekend.

On Sunday, high temperatures will reach the 80s as far north as southern South Dakota while highs will climb into the 90s over parts of Oklahoma, Kansas and Texas.

"The dome of high pressure will be pushed southward as a storm system moves over the West Coast. Cooler air will move in early next week but the heat will continue over the southern Plains," Walker said.

As heat holds over the southern Plains, warmth will surge northeastward early next week. Summerlike temperatures are in store across the Ohio Valley into the East Coast. More record-breaking high temperatures are possible.

Many areas from New England to the mid-Atlantic and Southeast states will record temperatures 10-20 degrees above average.

Highs in Atlanta will be in the 80s on Sunday through Tuesday. Temperatures are forecast to reach 70 or higher as far north as New York City on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Remember to stay hydrated when engaging in strenuous outdoor activities, such as exercise or manual labor.

From a safety standpoint, temperatures in automobiles on a sunny, warm day in the autumn can still reach dangerous levels.

Never leave a child or pets in a vehicle, for any length of time as a result.

On Tuesday, Oct. 21, 2014, an infant died after being left in a vehicle in Tucson, Arizona. The high in Tucson on Tuesday was 86 degrees.

Life in the California towns hit hardest by the drought

© Reuters/Lucy Nicholson

Manuel Rodriguez, 83, watches as workmen install a water pump to carry water from an outdoor container into his home in Porterville, California October 14, 2014.

In one of the towns hardest hit by California's drought, the only way some residents can get water to flush the toilet is to drive to the fire station, hand-pump water into barrels and take it back home.

The trip has become a regular ritual for East Porterville residents Macario Beltran, 41, and his daughters, who on a recent evening pumped the water into containers in the bed of his old pickup truck to be used for bathing, dish washing and flushing.

As if to emphasize the arid conditions that led them there, an emergency broadcast warned of a brewing dust storm.

The state's three-year drought comes into sharp focus in Tulare County, the dairy and citrus heart of the state's vast agricultural belt, where more than 500 wells have dried up.

Donna Johnson's tap went dry in June. Since then she's been trying to help neighbors connect with help from the county and the state. She began making door-to-door deliveries of water donated by charities and such supplies as hand sanitizer - often in withering 100-degree heat.

"I saw all these people who couldn't take a shower: kids, pregnant women," the 72-year-old said.

© Reuters/Lucy Nicholson

Pastor Frankie Olmedo, 56, (L) who volunteers four hours a day to hand out water, fills up a container for Luis Bocanegra, 35, in Porterville, California October 14, 2014.

Gov. Jerry Brown, who declared a state drought emergency in January, signed an executive order last month to buy drinking water for residents with dry wells. He also signed bills to regulate groundwater.

Andrew Lockman, manager at the Tulare County Office of Emergency Services, said it could be years before the groundwater management plan yields results.

Meanwhile, some farmers have paid exorbitant rates for irrigation, while others have culled herds, axed fruit trees and fallowed fields, he said. Migrant farm workers have left to seek employment elsewhere.

During wet years, farmers can buy water for irrigation from massive state and federal water projects, fed by snowmelt from the nearby Sierra Nevada mountain range, and residents tap shallow groundwater.

But this year, they were able to purchase only a fraction of the water they needed, turning to expensive suppliers or digging deep to tap water that pools below the ground.

Larger farms have spent up to $1 million to drill 2,000 feet into the Central Valley's ancient aquifer, Lockman said.

But individual residents, whose wells are not so deep, have a harder time of it as the water supply shrinks into the earth.

"Nobody realizes what it's like if you feel grimy every day," Johnson said. "You worry about sending your kids to school because they're going to be dirty."

How your memory deceives you


© agsandrew/Shutterstock

Two beloved sci-fi franchises returned to the screens this fall burdened with shaky memories. In ABC's superhero spy TV series the lead character, Phil Coulson, is still reeling from a case of implanted memories. Meanwhile, the movie adaptation of the young-adult novel opens on a hero with amnesia who is stranded in a dystopian maze.

These characters' memories betray them in seemingly fantastical ways, but the recollections stored between your own ears may hardly be any better. From vivid images of events that never happened to bad memories artificially engineered in the lab, here are the real-life ways your brain can distort your past.

In super-spy Coulson carries on with his superhero-monitoring work from the movies. This season, he must do so with the knowledge that his traumatic death and recovery had been papered over in his own mind by images of a fictional Tahiti vacation. (Killed off in the "Avengers" movie, Coulson was revived by mysterious techniques in the show.) In one disturbing scene, the real memory returns - and he recalls a spiderlike machine rewriting the information in his brain.

False memories: No one is immune

Coulson is troubled by the idea that his memories have betrayed him, but false memories don't just afflict sci-fi heroes; no one is immune.

Decades of research has shown that false memories are common. "We are all susceptible to creating false memories - whether we are young or old, of average intelligence or superior intelligence, male or female," Shari Berkowitz, an assistant professor at California State University who studies false memories and the law, told Live Science in an email.

Even the people with the very best memories fall prey to false recollections. Last year, UC-Irvine memory researcher Lawrence Patihis studied people who have what researchers call highly superior autobiographical memory (HSAM). These individuals can recall amazingly precise details from the past. For example, to identify such individuals for the study, Patihis' lab researchers asked people for the date on which an Iraqi journalist threw a shoe at then-President George W. Bush.

As in other experiments, the researchers used suggestion to implant false memories in the people with HSAM. In this study, researchers mentioned footage of United Flight 93 crashing in Pennsylvania on Sept. 11 - footage that doesn't exist. They found that the HSAM individuals later "recalled" seeing such a tape, at the same rate as people with normal memories.

The researchers also showed participants word lists designed to "lure" them into misremembering other words. They found that both people with HSAM and those with normal memory abilities recalled seeing the word "sleep" on a list that actually included only "pillow, duvet and nap."

"It really puts those false-memory tests to the severest possible test," Patihis told Live Science. "It suggests that it's perhaps a basic cognitive function causing false memories."

Over the years, memory researchers have used similar methods to implant memories in normal people, Berkowitz said. Techniques include encouraging study participants to imagine fictitious events, providing fake newspaper accounts and even interpreting participants' dreams.

And the resulting false memories can be entirely convincing, Berkowitz said.

"People who have false memories of an event often believe that their memories of the event are true," she said. "Like true memories, false memories can be described with great emotion and in great detail, and are held with great confidence."

There's no videotape

That universal susceptibility to false memories may come as a surprise to many, but that's because of a misunderstanding of how memory works, Berkowitz said.

People tend to think of their memories as videotapes. But there's no tape. When you remember, you're actually recreating that memory using small clues. Memory, in researchers' terms, is always "reconstructive."

"It's a record," Patihis said. "You're building the memory back up from little, tiny traces."

When you recall a memory, you draw from small bits of actual memory - "memory traces" - but then you fill in details with bits of common knowledge about, for example, your habits, stories other people have told you, pictures you've seen or world news, Patihis said.

The notion that your memory is reconstructed might leave you a little uneasy - even if you never had a spider machine overwrite your cortex like Agent Coulson. People can be quite resistant to the idea that this is how it works, Patihis said.

"Everyone is motivated to think that their memory is good," he said. "You don't want to lose your past ... And, , it feels like it's not constructed. It feels like a record."

Entire events

It's one thing for a participant in a lab study to misremember a word given on a list, you might say, and quite another to falsely remember an entire event, such as a trip to Tahiti.

But false memory is not just about the small stuff, scientists say. "Research shows a false memory can be as big as a whole event," Patihis said.

Psychologists have implanted memories of entire experiences in childhood - what researchers call "rich events" - from nearly drowning to being licked by the character Pluto at Disney World, Berkowitz said.

Memories of false events can invade the adult years, too, Patihis said. Memory researchers have altered adults' memories of events in real time - for example, by exposing them to some experience in the first week of an experiment and then implanting misinformation about the event the next week, Patihis said.

Such false "rich memories" occur naturally, outside the lab, as well. Psychologists have reported that some people, for instance, clearly remember childhood instances of demonic possession, or of being dragged down to hell, Patihis said.

In one of the most famous examples of mistaken memory, neurologist Oliver Sacks reported vivid recollections of the Germans' famous bombing of London during World War II, now known as the London Blitz. But Sacks had been evacuated to the countryside, and never saw the attacks.

What about that spider machine?

In however, Coulson developed his false memories not through hearing spoken misinformation, but via some sort of futuristic neuronal manipulation. Amazingly, science has even taken a few steps - albeit, tiny ones - along this path.

In an experiment this year, researchers at MIT successfully manipulated rat brain cells to implant a false memory. The scientists genetically modified rat neurons so that they would light up when activated, and then identified which neurons fired when a rat experienced an electrical shock. Later, the researchers used lights to activate those same neurons as the rat entered a particular box. The result? A brand-new associative memory: The rats (erroneously) associated the box with a shock.

But that sort of neuronal manipulation is extremely simple, Patihis said. "It's just association. The very simplest memory is the association of two things," he said.

Moreover, the scientists needed to figure out how to implant the false memory by watching what happened to the rat brain in an actual shock, Patihis said. "They don't know how to do that without the original experience," he said. "Even for the simplest kind of memory, they don't know what neurons are involved ... It gives you an idea of how far away we are from implanting a really complex memory."

Lost memory

False memories go hand in hand with lost memory, Patihis said. Many of the same factors affecting false memory, like aging and sleep loss, also encourage memory loss, he said.

Amnesia is something else, however, resulting from some sort of disease or trauma, not the natural process of memory encoding, Berkowitz said. And, as depicted in it's also rare. Although amnesia occurs commonly after a brain injury, amnesia that occurs by itself - so-called "amnestic syndrome" - happens infrequently, said Jason Brandt, a professor of psychiatry and neurology at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore.

When such amnesia does occur, it is usually the result of some emotional trauma, Brandt said. "They can't remember anything before that event," Brandt told Live Science. "It's a way of avoiding dealing with some emotional problem."

In "The Maze Runner," the character Thomas experiences amnesia that shares some features with clinical cases. For example, Thomas muses that he "remembered the workings of the world, but emptied of specifics, faces, names."

Indeed, people with retrograde amnesia, who lose biographical memories from before an event, can continue to function, Brandt said. Thomas also eventually remembers his name. And, in fact, for many amnesia patients, the memories do return, Brandt said.

Even when amnesia patients don't recover their memories, some trace may remain. Psychologist Wind Goodfriend, a professor of experimental psychology at Buena Vista University in Iowa, described one amnesia patient, Clive Wearing, who could not access new memories of, for instance, his wife. However, he continued to recognize her, even as she aged for 30 years.

As for as some dystopian-future scientist scrubbing teenagers' brains "Maze Runner"-style, that's likely just as far off as the creation of complex memories. In another MIT study involving rats, researchers removed a bad memory and replaced it with a good one. They did this by activating pleasure-associated neuronal firings when a rat entered a place where it had previously been shocked. But this, again, deals with a simple association memory, as Patihis said - not complex memories of identity and biographical past.

Moreover, scientists do not yet know what happens in the brains of people with amnestic syndrome, Brandt said. Recent studies using positron emission tomography (PET) scans have shown potentially altered functioning in the brains of people with amnesia, even though they don't have an obvious brain injury, Brandt said. But that research has merely identified broad regions, such as the frontal cortex and amygdala, he said.

"The research has not yet converged on what areas are responsible," he said.