A non-profit news blog, focused on providing independent journalism.

Friday, 29 May 2015

You can't always get what NATO wants

© AFP 2015/Joshua Roberts
US Secretary of State John Kerry (2nd R) meets with Russia's President Vladimir Putin (2nd L) at the presidential residence Bocharov Ruchey in Sochi.

The meat of the matter in the by now legendary May 12 meeting in the Kremlin between President Putin and US Secretary of State John Kerry is that, after a relentless torrent of US demonization of Russia, a deal - of sorts - may have been reached. Needless to add, no official source, in either Washington or Moscow, will confirm it.

Geopolitical imperatives lead us to think that Kerry - a de facto mere messenger of the real Masters of the Universe in the Beltway — asked Putin for "help" in the former, American-launched "Greater Middle East", and to facilitate the clinching of the possibly imminent P5+1 nuclear deal with Iran.

And Putin told Kerry that was a deal as long as the hysteria over Ukraine was immediately defused.

There is no hard evidence - yet - that Washington is prepared to finally admit, even tangentially, to its monumental geopolitical bungling in Ukraine; the lightning-fast deepening of the Russia-China strategic partnership is just one of the key consequences. End of sanctions would be a first fact on the (Eurasian) ground.

Instead, for the moment we have the usual NATO warmongering —remixed.

"He's a Gambler"!

General Hans-Lothar Domröse, NATO Commander of the Brunssum Allied Joint Force Command, is convinced Russia is a "threat"; Putin is a "dangerous gambler"; and Russians "consider it possible to use tactical nuclear weapons as a way of waging a war. We [NATO] - do not."

Herr General is, of course, lying - on both counts (that Moscow wants to use nuclear weapons, and that NATO wouldn't). At least he was forced to admit NATO does not view Russia as an enemy, but as a potential "threat".

The narrative remains - monotonously — the same. Earlier this month, NATO bigwig General Philip Breedlove - rather, Breedhate — accused Russia of making "irresponsible" nuclear threats. Additionally, Breedhate never misses the opportunity to coin a sound bite accusing Russia of launching the proverbial "offense" in Donbass and "violating" Minsk-2 - when in fact any offense and/or violation comes from Kiev.

NATO General Secretary, toothless Norwegian Jens Stoltenberg, also never skips the "Russia will use nuclear weapons" bandwagon. He insists NATO's missile defense system does not target Russia (not true) and that NATO does not want confrontation (not true).

All this nuclear weapon mess is based on the Director of Non-proliferation and Control of Weapons Department of Russia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mikhail Ulyanov, saying during a review conference dedicated to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, that what Washington is cooking might - and the operative concept is "might" — lead Moscow to decide to build up its nuclear arsenal.

The fact that Ulyanov was quick to add Moscow is not going to do it - yet - inevitably was lost in translation.

The fact also remains that while the US/Pentagon/NATO talk — or huff and puff — Moscow silently gets ready to protect Russian territory from anything the US military may throw at it, including Prompt Global Strike (PGS).

And whatever NATO's maneuvers, Russia responds in kind, usually via surprise military drills. If NATO launches its biggest ever war game right on Russia's borders - talk about a provocation - Moscow counterpunches with war games in the Mediterranean in close coordination with the People's Liberation Army. Yet one more instance of the all-weather Russia-China strategic partnership.

Nuclear Summer, Anyone?

Inevitably, the warmongering, via the Pentagon, had to extend to China. And the Global Times - certainly echoing the predominant PLA view — responded in kind, warning that "war is inevitable" if Washington doesn't stop demanding that Beijing ceases with building artificial islands in the South China Sea.

Cue to yet another avid rumor-mongering mill, as usual turbo-capitalism suspects of the George Soros variety fan the hysteria flames of imminent war, even wondering how many nations of the fragmented "West" Washington would be able to regiment for a war not only against Russia but also... China.

And all this while NATO's American generals cannot even convince member-nations to spend 2% of their GDP on defense.

Cue also to a tweet by John Schindler, former NSA and former professor at the US Naval War College, duly magnified by the rumor-mongering mill. Schindler claimed that a senior NATO operative (not American), told him, "We'll probably be at war this summer. If we're lucky it won't be nuclear."

So those Dr. Strangeloves in Brussels, instead of sun and fun in the Costa Brava, are "preparing" for a Brave Nuclear Summer.

Those were the days when a direct infringement of the exceptionalist dictum — "if we don't like you, we bomb you" — was a done deal. What's left for NATO's Breedhaters is just a Mare Nostrum of fear mongering.

VIDEO: The worst place to be during a dollar collapse

Ironically, the places that benefited the most from the debt-and-death paradigm are likely to see the quickest outbreak of chaos when dollar collapse begins in earnest. The concentrated aggression, hyper-competitive atmosphere, and wealth disparity of the typical city should be avoided if possible. Recent riots serve as a clear example of what can happen ... and the lights are still on and the financial infrastructure is still in place. In a full-blown dollar collapse, all bets are off. So, think about moving to "boring" parts of the country with real communities. Do it on your terms while options still remain.

[embedded content]

Fugitive Saakashvili nominated as governor of Ukraine's Odessa region

© Reuters/David Mdzinarishvili

The Ukrainian cabinet of ministers has nominated the former president of Georgia, Mikhail Saakashvili, who has been placed on an international wanted list in his own country, as the governor of Ukraine's coastal Odessa region.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko was set to meet Saakashvili on Friday to approve his candidacy for the post before officially announcing the appointment, according to the presidential press-secretary Svyatoslav Tsegolko.

The fugitive Georgian leader has already been granted Ukrainian citizenship, which makes him legally eligible for the post, according to Ukrainian journalist-turned-MP Sergey Leshchenko, who also confirmed Saakashvili's appointment as Odessa governor.

Saakashvili has been a long-standing supporter of the current Ukrainian authorities ever since they ended up heading the coup that eventually toppled the previous administration in February 2014. Earlier in May he was appointed to President Poroshenko's advisory council on reform, along with the hawkish anti-Russian US Senator John McCain who chose to decline the offer.

There were reports that Saakashvili was already appointed to the post, published by the Ukrinform agency, citing two unnamed sources in the administration, and confirmed by Interfax Ukraine, but no official confirmation had been released. But since Ukraine's cabinet of ministers allegedly nominated Saakashvili as per Poroshenko's own recommendation, it was a virtually done deal.

Saakashvili will become Odessa's governor with "99 percent probability," the deputy head of the Ukrainian president's administration, Valery Chaly told (UNN), stressing he was speaking as an "analyst," not presidential representative.

Meanwhile Saakashvili himself said on Twitter that he "loves Odessa," without elaborating further.

The official announcement on Saakashvili's appointment as the man in charge of Ukraine's strategic Odessa region is widely expected on Saturday.

Over 400 turtles in Bellinger River, Australia dead of mysterious disease


© NSW Office of Environment and Heritage

Three months. That's all it took to wipe almost every member of a species of turtles off of the map.

It all started in mid-February when canoeists paddling down the Bellinger River in New South Wales, Australia, came across several dead and dying turtles.

Since then more than 400 dead turtles have shown up. Dozens more sick turtles were also recovered, each of which was lethargic, emaciated and covered in infected lesions in their eyes, skin and even internal organs.

None of the infected turtles survived.

The 60-kilometer river is the only home to the Bellinger River snapping turtle (), a rare but little-studied species that has already been on the decline for years due to pollution and predation by invasive foxes. Scientists now fear that this mysterious, as-yet-unidentified disease has reached 90 percent of the turtle's habitat and could cause the species's imminent extinction.

Is there hope? So far 17 apparently healthy turtles have been captured and brought into safety. University of Western Sydney zoologist Ricky Spencer says the 10 males and seven females—all that could be located by a multiagency team of wildlife experts—will spend up to the next eight months in quarantine where they will be monitored daily for signs of the disease. If they stay healthy, they could later form the core of a captive-breeding program that could, in theory, save the species from extinction even if it completely disappears in the wild.

Along with starting a captive-breeding program, the other big challenge is to identify the disease and determine how to stop it. The process could take years. Although other diseases and certain bacteria have been known to affect turtles—especially their fragile eyes—Spencer says there are no other known turtle diseases that produce such extensive lesions "throughout internal and external organs."

At this point of the year, the Bellinger River turtles would typically enter their winter hibernation period, so it's hard to know how many may be alive but hiding underground. Even though few turtles have been seen over the past few weeks, Spencer asks the public to report any sightings of sick or dead animals to state wildlife authorities, to not touch any turtles they do see and to limit human activities on the river to minimize the risks of spreading the disease further.

The next few months will be full of questions. Will the captive turtles survive and breed? Will the disease be identified in time to keep it from spreading? Will any hibernating turtles wake up in a few months or has this unknown disease already taken its toll?

Right now answers, and turtles, are in short supply.

Finally: Kerry signs order removing Cuba from US list of state sponsors of terrorism


© Yamil Lage/AFP/Getty Images

The Obama administration on Friday formally removed Cuba from a U.S. terrorism blacklist as part of the process of normalizing relations between the Cold War foes.

Secretary of State John Kerry signed off on rescinding Cuba's "state sponsor of terrorism" designation exactly 45 days after the Obama administration informed Congress of its intent to do so on April 14. Lawmakers had that amount of time to weigh in and try to block the move, but did not do so.

"The 45-day congressional pre-notification period has expired, and the secretary of state has made the final decision to rescind Cuba's designation as a state sponsor of terrorism, effective today, May 29, 2015," the State Department said in a statement.

"While the United States has significant concerns and disagreements with a wide range of Cuba's policies and actions, these fall outside the criteria relevant to the rescission of a state sponsor of terrorism designation," the statement said.

The step comes as officials from the two countries continue to hash out details of restoring full diplomatic relations, including opening embassies in Washington and Havana and returning ambassadors to the two countries for the first time since the U.S. severed diplomatic relations with the island in January 1961. The removal of Cuba from the terrorism list had been a key Cuban demand.

U.S. and Cuban officials have said the two sides are close to resolving the final issues but the most recent round of talks ended last Friday with no announcement of an agreement.

Even as many of the biggest hurdles, including the terrorism designation, have been cleared, Washington and Havana are still wrangling over American demands that its diplomats be able to travel throughout Cuba and meet with dissidents without restrictions. The Cubans are wary of activity they see as destabilizing to their government.

Both the U.S. and Cuba say the embassies are a first step in a larger process of normalizing relations. That effort would still have to tackle bigger questions such as the embargo, which only Congress can fully revoke, as well as the future of the U.S.

Hysteria: Heartless school employee throws away 10-year-old's hot lunch over past due account


© WAVE 3

Several parents are fired up after hearing a student's hot lunch was dumped in the trash in front of her classmates because her lunch account was past due.

Parents claim Bedford Elementary School did something it preaches against: In their words, "bullying" the child, not to mention wasting food to embarrass her.

On May 20 an elementary school lunch was packed with a hidden punch a child never saw coming.

"Someone came and took her lunch while she was sitting there with her friends and everybody else," said the girl's aunt, Leslie Chilton, who also happens to be the Bedford Elementary PTO Treasurer.

Chilton said it would be embarrassing for any child who has no idea their lunch account had a negative balance.

"An actual employee told me that afternoon because I was at school," she said of the incident." It was awful to think about her being there, sitting there and she was crying. She's a shy girl anyway, she's 10 years old and she's knows what's going on."

Chilton said other people gave her the same account of what happened - the girl's hot lunch dumped in the garbage and she was handed a replacement lunch, a cheese sandwich.

"I think it's all bullying," the girl's grandfather, Doug Joyce, said. "They kick kids out for bullying, they need to kick grown-ups out for bullying."

Joyce said his granddaughter's family has money to pay the bill, but didn't realize the account was past due. He said even when a family doesn't have the cash, a child isn't the one who should pay. "There's no sense of treating any kid that way," said Joyce. "If the schools can't figure out a better way of doing it than that, they don't need to be running the schools."

Kim Wright has a child who attends Bedford Elementary.

"The other kids did notice," she said, "several parents have contacted me saying their kids came home upset because their friend's food was taken."

Wright said she was outraged after she got no response from the school system. She started a petition to change the district's policy. As of Thursday it had nearly 1,100 signatures.

On the petition many people commented that similar situations had happened to them over the years.

"How is it ethical? How is it moral to do this to children who have no control over the situation, whatever the situation may be?" Wright said. "Whether it's the fault of the school or the parents, the child does not need to be in the equation."

Ever since word got out about the incident, several people have donated money to cover costs for other children's lunches. They hope the school board will take up the issue at its next meeting.

WAVE 3 News attempted to reach district's superintendent's for comment, but despite more than one request as of Thursday night our calls were not returned.

Late Thursday Trimble County School Board Chair Tony Walker did contact WAVE 3 News and said they have decided to hold a special called meeting for the public on June 17. Details about the meeting have not been released.

New York investment banker jumps to his death from luxury downtown building

Yesterday, New Yorkers walking by the Ocean Luxury Rental apartment building at 1 West St around 10:40am, were greeted with a gruesome sight: a 29-year-old man had just jumped to his death from the 24th floor.
According to initial reports, the man landed on a car that was driving toward the Battery Tunnel at the time. He was pronounced DOA at the scene.

Today, we learn that the tragic incident was merely the latest banker suicide, when according to the the still jumper was the latest in a long series of investment bankers who have decided to take their own life.

The 29-year-old man has been identified as Thomas J Hughes. The youngest of three brothers, Thomas was educated at the $52,000 a year Canterbury School in Milford, Connecticut and graduated with a degree in economics at Northwestern University where he was on the Varsity squash team before heading to Wall St and getting a job with Citibank

Most recently he was an associate at investment bank Moelis.

Hughes plunged from the 24th floor of the luxury Ocean apartment building at 1 West St. at about 10:40 a.m. and landed on a guardrail near the northbound Battery Park Underpass, narrowly missing a black SUV, in what appears to have been a premeditated suicide.

The man's body was mangled by the impact, leaving one of the vehicle's passengers horrified, witnesses said.

"I went outside, and the woman in the car was screaming, 'I didn't know where he came from!' " said Hans Peler, 48, a manager at the building's parking garage. "It happened right in front of our guy who waves cars in with the flag. He was so shaken up, I told him to go home."

A spokeswoman at Moelis & Company shared her condolences according to the : "We are saddened by the news of Tom's death and send our sincere condolences to his family and friends at this very sad time. "Tom was a talented and valued team member and a positive force in our firm. He will be greatly missed."

John Hughes, the father of the investment banker, said that he fears his son turned to drink and drugs to cope with the stress of work. He said Thomas had been under a 'lot of pressure' and that he even had to work on a recent holiday in the Bahamas, adding that his son was someone who "liked to work hard and liked to party" and feared that he found release in illegal drugs which turned him suicidal.

'Thomas was a happy, jovial, successful, good looking, very sociable individual.

'The only explanation is that I know he's been working very hard and has been under a lot of pressure.

'His work did not leave much time for enjoyment but that's the nature of the assignment that he chose.

'I also know that sometimes when one is in that environment you can turn to alcohol or other types of drugs...

'...at a time when he was under stress he probably resorted to illegal drugs, causing this incredibly poor judgement, is probably the best I can say.

'He must have had some problems that I was not privy to.'

Tourists in a nearby open-air bus that was stuck in traffic, saw more than they bargained for when the gruesome scene unfolded right in front of them. Then they quickly found their bearing and realized the tragedy would look perfect on their Instagram profile, and scrambled for their cellphones to snap pictures of the body, said workers at the building.

"The head hit the railing . . . Half his head is on one side of the railing, half on the other," recalled Frank Rodriguez, 44, a handyman who was working nearby. "It's never worth this . . . Life is too precious."

Sources said the young banker had made several attempts to kill himself earlier in the morning, including cutting his wrists, before making the plunge.

The man — whom police did not immediately identify — was from a wealthy family in Westchester County, sources said. He had apparently become very successful on his own.

He owned his apartment in the 36-story Ocean complex, which overlooks The Battery and New York Harbor, and had just returned from a vacation in the Bahamas, sources said.

At this point we have lost count of how many bankers have taken their own lives in the past year, despite stocks rising to all time highs and an artificial "wealth effecting" environment which if nobody else, benefits the banker class. We dread to think what happens to New York's pavements once the central planners finally lose control.

Multiple fish kills reported in coastal waters of Connecticut


© Brian Gratwicke, Wikipedia

Connecticut's Department of Energy and Environmental Protection why thousands of fish died in the past week in the state's coastal waters.

Multiple natural fish kills were reported during the past week. The kills were reported in several locations on the Thames River between Norwich and the U.S. Naval Submarine Base in Groton, in the lower Connecticut River, in Clinton Harbor and on the Quinnipiac River.

Thousands of Atlantic menhaden, and smaller numbers of other species were found dead at each location. The population of Atlantic menhaden has grown in local waters for the past two years, most likely due to limits placed on menhaden harvest along the Atlantic coast.

Menhaden are caught commercially and made into animal feed and used as bait in lobster, crab and other fisheries.

The fish could have died of natural causes according to the DEEP. "These events more commonly occur during the warmer summer months when bluefish attack tightly packed menhaden schools in locations where the oxygen content of the water is also below normal," said David Simpson, Director of the CT DEEP Marine Fisheries Division. "The tightly packed schools rapidly use up the oxygen in the water and suffocate."

Another cause is a viral "whirling" disease which spreads rapidly through the school. In late stages of the disease, fish are commonly seen spinning or whirling at the surface. "This behavior has been described by witnesses in each of the fish kill locations," added Simpson.

Are the Jade Helm military exercises a psy-op?

For most consumers of alternative news and media, the lineup of the players constitutes the tyrants and their systemic control, and the enlightened underground, with both sides fighting the great battle of winning the hearts and minds of the rest of the public.

For the alternative news and information community, the possibility of large-scale psychological operations within alternative media itself are generally outside the spectrum of the possible.

Indeed, crowds today are sill cheering on Assange and his Vaudeville Whistleblower Roadshow with Bradley-Chelsea Manning, and more recently, finding themselves intellectually snowed-in by our last hero, Snowden.


Jade Helm 15

In 2015, the focal point has become the Jade Helm 15 training operation across at least 7 states, with SOCOM running the training exercise for realistic military training. The brief document lists role-playing involving Texas and Utah as "hostile" areas, with insurgents in Southern California and other states like Colorado, California and Nevada as "friendly."

On the surface, the exercise gives credence to the ultimate fears and paranoia of tea party and militia groups - clearly the U.S. government is prepping for everything from "martial law," to "economic collapse," and everything else under the sun that can be gleaned from a Google search and baseless YouTube speculation.

Fending off the mainstream media's dishonest portrayal of the patriot and alternative media's fears, Alex Newman of The New American concludes:

"Of course, critics of Jade Helm and the Obama administration should stick to facts that can be proven, rather than speculation. Most have done that, including many of those being dishonestly smeared by the deceitful media. However, the establishment press has an even more serious responsibility and duty to do the same — stick to the facts, do not deceive readers, question those in power, and adhere to basic journalistic ethics. Instead of sticking to the facts and being honest, though, establishment propagandists masquerading as journalists have once again shown the world why they cannot be trusted. As such, it is no surprise that so few Americans trust the "mainstream" press and are flocking to the alternative media by the millions."

'' host Dave Hodges has argued the end goal of Jade Helm is the imminent roundup, gulag confinement and gun confiscation of all Americans who have been marked as rebellious, with bank account confiscations, martial law and false flags just around the corner. Infowars reporters Joe Biggs and David Knight have argued similarly that the threats are rather constant, slow build ups to condition the American public into the acceptance of moving towards a third world, 'banana republic' scenario. However, what all these portrayals have not delved into is the possibility that Jade Helm 15's sensational "leak" (a Powerpoint slide show) to the "alternative news and patriot community" itself may be nothing more than a psychological warfare operation.
In order to understand this possibility, it is necessary to understand the purpose and goal of PsyOps.

Psychological Warfare Operations

Psychological warfare operations are at once mysterious, yet fairly well-known. Most educated readers are familiar with World War II propaganda or the notion of "black operations," but more precise and technical ideas of PsyOps are not as well known. Retired Maj. Ed Rouse explains of the goals of PsyOps:

"Psychological Operations (PSYOP) or Psychological Warfare (PSYWAR) is simply learning everything about your target enemy, their beliefs, likes, dislikes, strengths, weaknesses, and vulnerabilities. Once you know what motivates your target, you are ready to begin psychological operations.

Psychological operations may be defined broadly as the planned use of communications to influence human attitudes and behavior ... to create in target groups behavior, emotions, and attitudes that support the attainment of national objectives. The form of communication can be as simple as spreading information covertly by word of mouth or through any means of multimedia.

A psychological warfare campaign is a war of the mind. Your primary weapons are sight and sound. PSYOP can be disseminated by face-to-face communication, audio-visual means (television), audio media (radio or loudspeaker), visual media, (leaflet newspapers, books, magazines and/or posters). The weapon is not how its sent, but the message it carries and how that message affects the recipient."

With that basic definition in mind, we can consider the possibility of itself as having multiple potential uses. Rather than the simple, binary dialectic of tyrannical fascist system versus liberty-loving, God-fearing patriot, the effect of Jade Helm 15's "leak" upon the public and their reaction are far more interesting and relevant than the operation itself. In fact, if we think back to recent years, alternative media outlets were in a tizzy over National Level Exercise 09, and then over NLE 11, etc. In neither case did imminent apocalyptic doom manifest, but what did occur was a labyrinth of fractal speculation and orgiastic frenzy of bloggers, YouTubers and eschatological doomsayers, as these "leaked" exercises took on a life of their own.

From the perspective of PsyOps, the potential of Jade Helm to "learn everything about your target enemy, their beliefs, their likes, dislikes, strengths, weaknesses," etc., would thus have numerous applications here.

On one level, the inter-contextual dialectic of tyrannical military versus veterans and patriots is the out playing of the intended war gaming scenario.

Multi-level Game Theory and Algorithmic Tracking

On a higher, meta level, the intention is to gather game theory-style data on the target audience, which in this case is not merely the alternative media and tea party niche, but also the mainstream media and its response to the tea party response, and back and forth. Like a game of Pong, the game theorist can sit back and watch mass trends, movements and reactions between these two sides with social media and search engine algorithmic tracking.


Data Crunching, ‘Tracking Our Fear': Titan Supercomputer.

For example, a Raleigh-based firm boasts of its ability to track "suicide bombing" with its collection of Pakistani bombing information. WNCN reports:

"In analyzing the information, they realized that they have the blast signatures for the terrorist organizations. "I can tell you who did the attack with 93 percent accuracy, based on the way they make the bombs," Usamani said. They looked at what they call geo-political indicators, which includes things like political events, weather patterns, even the date on the calendar. Burns said there are more than 150 such indicators. "You have to combine all of those," he said. "You have to determine which combination is going to develop the risks for a particular area."

Despite limitations in this type of software, numerous companies have arisen with the technological capability to offer some form of predictive algorithm programs to service law enforcement and intelligence agencies in "pre-crime."

One of the many goals of Jade Helm style operations that are consistent, ongoing military would be the overcoming of these limitations and moving closer to the unachievable accuracy of 100%.

In other words, perfection, or the nearest thing to, requires a lot of practice. Jade Helm is therefore an exercise that is far more relevant for data collection in terms of risk management and game theory for intelligence agencies and front tech companies, than anything to do with martial law, imminent gun confiscation or the blood moon asteroid crashing into the Wal-Mart turned FEMA camp guillotine gulag.

In the wake of ongoing exposure of mainstream media's consistent usage of staged, faked, and computer-generated "news," alternative media outlets and consumers should be reminded of the possibility of alternative media falling into this same pattern of sensationalizing and disregarding facts for ever increasingly clickbait, tabloid-style online media gimmickry in both alternative and mainstream sources.

When considering the possibility of large-scale psychological operations in relation to purported "leaks" and "whistleblowers" who subsequently become the darlings of mainstream media and begin negotiating book and movie deals, John Young of gave an analysis concurrent with the above to RT in 2011:

[embedded content]

If the military wanted to keep Jade Helm secret, it could have been kept secret. The decision to run a "mass drill in several states" was intentionally done and purposefully allowed to "leak." The consequences of such a public revelation are much more useful for war gaming and future predictive responses than any imminent threat of martial law.

Just like Assange and Snowden, Jade Helm is the establishment's middle finger in the face of the ridiculous naiveté of the ultra-right wing and fringe of Tea Party crowds.

De-Dollarization Du Jour: Russia Backs BRICS Alternative To SWIFT

On the one hand, the plan represented yet another move towards global de-dollarization but on the other, was borne out of necessity when Russia began to believe it may be expelled from SWIFT as punishment for its support of rebels in Ukraine. Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev warned of “unlimited consequences” if the West decided on a punitive SWIFT freeze.

Two months later, Moscow would receive a seat on the SWIFT board.

Now, Russia is taking de-dollarization a step further by suggesting that a BRICS alternative to SWIFT may be in the cards. RT has more:

The Central Bank of Russia has proposed a discussion about establishing an analogue to the SWIFT global network for transmission of financial information that processes $6 trillion worth of communiqués daily. 

The CBR hopes to cut the risks of possible disruptions.

"Seriously speaking, there is no analogue to SWIFT at the moment in the world, it is unique. The only topic that may be of interest to all of us within BRICS is to consider and talk over the possibility of setting up a system that would apply to the BRICS countries, used as a backup,"said Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of the Russian Federation Olga Skorobogatova on Friday.

This comes as Russia (which, incidentally, is the second heaviest SWIFT user) is set to convene a BRICS summit in Ulfa on July 8-9 where the $100 billion BRICS bank will officially be launched along with a $100 billion currency reserve. Much like the China-led AIIB, the BRICS bank is in many ways a response to the failure of US-dominated multilateral institutions to meet the needs of modernity and offer representation that’s commensurate with the economic clout of its members.

This state of affairs isn’t likely to change anytime soon, because, as we discussed earlier this month, the The White House has signaled it will be unwilling to give up US veto power even if it means setting up and end-around that would allow the Fund to be reformed without the approval of congress. The Washington Post summarized the situation nicely after the 6th BRICS Summit last summer:

Although the BRICS comprise over one-fifth of the global economy, together they wield about 11 percent of the votes at the IMF. But reform to the governance of the Bretton-Woods institutions has encountered a number of roadblocks. In 2008 and again in 2010, quota reform at the IMF was intended to double total financial commitments from all member countries, while at the same time giving BRICS countries larger voting shares. Because this required additional contributions by member governments of richer countries, several balked for different reasons.

Russia is also pressing ahead with plans to establish a Eurasian currency union, something we first discussed a few months back. Here's what we said in March:

One person who is paying attention to the failure of the US to grasp that the unipolar world of the 1980s is long gone, is Russia's Vladimir Putin, who earlier today proposed creating a "Eurasian" currency union which would have Belarus and Kazakhstan as its first members, which already are Russia's partners in a political and economic union made up of former Soviet republics.

Sputnik News has the latest:

Russia is ready to consider the creation of a currency union with other members of the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU), Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said Thursday.

"In this [EEU] format it would be possible to consider the possibility and conditions of eventually creating a monetary union,” Medvedev said.

The prime minister is currently in Kazakhstan for a session of the Eurasian Intergovernmental Council.

The EEU, which officially came into force January 1, 2015, comprises Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia. The bloc seeks to achieve greater economic integration, including the free flow of goods, services, capital and labor across its member states.

With that, we have triple-dose of de-dollarization, as Russia moves to undercut a critical financial communications link by creating an alternative system backed by the world's rising EM powerhouses who are set to officially launch their own development bank when they convene in July. At the same time, Moscow will consider cementing its economic ties with regional allies via the establishment of a currency bloc. 

Paging King dollar: your grip on the throne grows weak.

The criminalization of homelessness

© Spencer Platt / Getty Images / AFP

For the past 25 years, the criminalization of the homeless in the United States has been increasing.

As the National Coalition of Homeless points out, criminalization of homeless refers to laws that prohibit life sustaining activities "sleeping/camping, eating, sitting, and/or asking for money/resources in public spaces" and include criminal penalties if someone violates the ordinances.

This issue, while not dormant, I believe came to light more when Pastor Dwayne Black along with pastor Mark Sims and 90-year-old Arnold Abbott were arrested for feeding the homeless in Fort Lauderdale, Florida in 2014.

"We fed about six or seven people when the police approached," Black told The Christian Post. "We actually said a prayer and then gave communion to the homeless. If feeding them is going to get me arrested, let me get arrested for giving them communion. The police stayed off to the side, but then they suddenly made a move forward, and Abbott and I stayed."

Black further expounded, "We didn't want the homeless to get arrested. Finally, we fed everybody and started to clean up. I honestly thought the police would let us go that evening, but then they made a move, and the reporters moved to circle us. I went to the police and said, 'If you're going to cite him [Abbott], you're going to have to cite me too."

"They said, 'We don't want to cite you,' and I don't know why — perhaps it was because I was clergy — but they eventually did cite me. And we will be back serving the people again on Sunday and Wednesday as well. We tried to explain to the police — this is my religion — this is deep within the DNA of my Christian church. Christ said, 'Feed my sheep.' This is deep within us," Black added.

According to the aforementioned organization as of November 2014, these cities enforce some form of banning, restricting or relocating food sharing practices:

  • Birmingham, AL
  • Cedar Rapids, IA
  • Charlotte, NC
  • Chico, CA
  • Columbia, SC
  • Corpus Christi, TX
  • Costa Mesa, CA
  • Dallas, TX
  • Davenport, IA
  • Dayton, OH
  • Daytona Beach, FL
  • Fort Lauderdale, FL
  • Gainesville, FL
  • Harrisburg, PA
  • Hayward, CA
  • Houston, TX
  • Indianapolis, IN
  • Kansas City, MO
  • Lafayette, IN
  • Los Angeles, CA
  • Malibu, CA
  • Manchester, NH
  • Medford, OR
  • Myrtle Beach, SC
  • Nashville, TN
  • Ocean Beach, CA
  • Olympia, WA
  • Orlando, FL
  • Pasadena, CA
  • Raleigh, NC
  • St. Louis, MO
  • St. Petersburg, FL
  • Sacramento, CA
  • Salt Lake City, UT
  • Santa Monica, CA
  • Seattle, WA
  • Shawnee, OK
  • Ventura, CA
  • Wilmington, NC
Also, a July 2009 report by the National Law Center on Homelessness, is alarming.

While the full report (which is 194 pages) is too long to reproduce, here are some tidbits and the rest of the report can be read at:

Since 2007, here are some of the worst cities for criminalizing the homeless as stated by the report:

Los Angeles, CA - According to a study by UCLA released in September 2007, Los Angeles was spending $6 million a year to pay for fifty extra police officers as part of its Safe City Initiative to crack down on crime in the Skid Row area at a time when the city budgeted only $5.7 million for homeless services. Advocates found that during an 11-month period 24 people were arrested 201 times, with an estimated cost of $3.6 million for use of police, the jail system, prosecutors, public defenders and the courts. Advocates asserted that the money could have instead provided supportive housing for 225 people. Many of the citations issued to homeless persons in the Skid Row area were for jaywalking and loitering — "crimes" that rarely produce written citations in other parts of Los Angeles.

St. Petersburg, FL - Since early 2007, St. Petersburg has passed 6 new ordinances that target homeless people. These include ordinances that outlaw panhandling throughout most of downtown, prohibit the storage of personal belongings on public property, and make it unlawful to sleep outside at various locations. In January 2007, the Pinellas-Pasco Public Defender announced that he would no longer represent indigent people arrested for violating municipal ordinances to protest what he called excessive arrests of homeless individuals by the City of St. Petersburg. According to numbers compiled by the public defender's office, the vast majority of people booked into the Pinellas County Jail on municipal ordinances were homeless individuals from St. Petersburg.

Orlando, FL - In 2006, the Orlando City Council passed a law that prohibited groups sharing food with 25 or more people in downtown parks covered under the ordinance from doing so more than twice a year. A member of one of the groups that shares food regularly with homeless and poor people in Orlando parks was actually arrested under the ordinance for sharing food. A federal district court found the law unconstitutional; however, the City of Orlando has appealed the

Also read http://ift.tt/1t5NIpf

In 2012 Rhode Island passed the Homeless Bill of Rights.

This bill states:

§ 34-37.1-3 Bill of Rights. - No person's rights, privileges, or access to public services may be denied or abridged solely because he or she is homeless. Such a person shall be granted the same rights and privileges as any other resident of this state. A person experiencing homelessness:

(1) Has the right to use and move freely in public spaces, including, but not limited to, public sidewalks, public parks, public transportation and public buildings, in the same manner as any other person, and without discrimination on the basis of his or her housing status;

(2) Has the right to equal treatment by all state and municipal agencies, without discrimination on the basis of housing status;

(3) Has the right not to face discrimination while seeking or maintaining employment due to his or her lack of permanent mailing address, or his or her mailing address being that of a shelter or social service provider;

(4) Has the right to emergency medical care free from discrimination based on his or her housing status;

(5) Has the right to vote, register to vote, and receive documentation necessary to prove identity for voting without discrimination due to his or her housing status;

(6) Has the right to protection from disclosure of his or her records and information provided to homeless shelters and service providers to state, municipal and private entities without appropriate legal authority; and the right to confidentiality of personal records and information in accordance with all limitations on disclosure established by the Federal Homeless Management Information Systems, the Federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, and the Federal Violence Against Women Act; and

(7) Has the right to a reasonable expectation of privacy in his or her personal property to the same extent as personal property in a permanent residence.

History of Section.
(P.L. 2012, ch. 316, § 1; P.L. 2012, ch. 356, § 1.)

"Today, in Rhode Island, hatred, bigotry and discrimination is not accepted," said John Joyce, co-founder of the Rhode Island Homeless Advocacy Project and one of the law's authors.

Let's hope other states figure out a more humane way to deal with homeless like RI, because if not violations of the First, Fourth, Eight and 14th will continue.


Side Bar: National Homeless.org 2014 Report.
It is estimated that 1 in 6 Americans go hungry on a daily basis.1

The 2013 Hunger and Homelessness Survey, conducted by the United States Conference of Mayors found:

83% (19 of 25) of cities surveyed, in 2013, reported an increase in the number of emergency food requests from the previous year

  • 91% reported an increase in persons requesting food assistance for the first time
  • 80% reported an increase in frequency of visits to food pantries and emergency kitchens each month
With a growing increase of need:
  • 78% of cities had to reduce the number of times a person could visit the food pantry each month
  • 66% had to turn people away due to lack of resources

More than 430 in hospital due to heat wave in Japan


© AFP/File
Children play in a park fountain to cool off from a heatwave in Japan.

More than 430 people in Japan have been admitted to hospitals nationwide in a current heat wave in several regions of the country, Japan's Fire and Disaster Management Agency (FDMA) said Tuesday.

FDMA, in charge of ambulance services, cites data between May 18 and 24. Cases of hospitalization because of heat were reported in Tokyo and Kyoto, as well as in the Saitama, Aichi, Fukushima and Fukuoka prefectures, among others.

The temperature in some regions of Japan is predicted to rise above 30 degrees Celsius [86 Fahrenheit] on Tuesday, according to Japan Meteorological Agency.

Experts warn about the dangers of outside overexposure and urge people to refrain from outdoor physical activity.

In May and June, a high probability of above-normal temperatures (above 40 degrees Celsius) on the islands of Okinawa and Amami is forecast.

In April, an extraordinary warm air mass moved across parts of East Asia, bringing severe high temperatures to Japan. The temperatures in some of the country's prefectures were reported to be record-breaking.

During May 11-17 period, two people died and 480 were hospitalized in Japan for heat exhaustion, according to FDMA.

Japanese authorities have expressed concern that high heat could affect scheduled 2020 Summer Olympics and Paralympics in Tokyo.

The officials are considering introducing measures to deal with high temperatures, including stadium air conditioning and green space promotion.

Japan has a long history of struggling with heat waves. In 2011, 26 Japanese residents died of heatstroke in the first decade of June while nearly 13,000 were admitted to hospitals.

In India, around 400 mostly homeless people have died due to heat wave last week, with the maximum temperature touching nearly 45 degrees Celsius.

A senior weather official said that heat wave would continue in India for some more days and attributed the condition to an ongoing heat wave in Pakistan.

Calm down -- Al-Nusra says they won't hurt us

The interview with Abu Mohammed al-Julani was his second with Al Jazeera since 2013

Al-Nusra Front has taken to the airwaves with a message for all Westerners and Americans in particular - they really aren't that bad. And there are no plans to attack Americans. They are just your friendly neighborhood terrorist organization, funded handsomely by the West and the GCC, raping and beheading their way across the Middle East. There's nothing to worry about so long as the US allows them to continue to rape little girls, cut off heads, impose savage Sharia law, and eat the hearts and livers of the occasional dissident.

This message was brought to you by the feudal monarchy of Qatar and its mouthpiece organization, Al-Jazeera and conducted with a journalist whose past is checkered with a conviction of supporting al-Qaeda.

The alleged leader of al-Nusra Front, Abu Mohammed al-Julani, appeared on al-Jazeera with a setting fit for a king (or Emir *ahem*) to discuss Nusra's plans for Syria and the West. The man alleging to be Julani and alleging to be the leader of Nusra, despite claiming to be "fearless," sat with his face covered and his back to the camera. The set was ornately decorated and almost appeared to be some type of palace room or high government building.

Julani reassured Westerners that he had been ordered by another alleged leader, this time of al-Qaeda proper, Ayman al-Zawihiri, not to launch attacks against the West as this would jeopardize the mission in Syria.

A New York Times report cited a US intelligence official as saying that Julani's statements were merely self-serving propaganda.

Propaganda? Yes. Self-serving? Not exactly. Julani's statements were actually serving NATO, the US, and Israel in their own propaganda efforts to assure the American people that supporting the so-called "rebels" in Syria is a good idea and one that will not come back to bite them.

Indeed, Julani truly spoke like a paid actor or a professional trained talking monkey in his job as message delivery boy. Obviously, neither designation would set him clearly apart from any other "expert" or "reporter" in the Western/Gulf media propaganda establishment.

Still, the "fearless" hijabed Julani stated, "We are only here to accomplish one mission, to fight the regime and its agents on the ground, including Hezbollah and others. Al-Nusra Front doesn't have any plans or directives to target the West. We received clear orders not to use Syria as a launching pad to attack the US or Europe in order to not sabotage the true mission against the regime. Maybe al-Qaeda does that, but not here in Syria."

The only true part of his statement was that Khorosan, painted as the end of the Western world and enemy #1 for a total of about five days, was a fictional organization invented by the Americans to deceive and frighten the American public.

His presentation of al-Qaeda and al-Nusra Front as different organizations, however, is ludicrous, since Nusra was merely the Syrian version of al-Qaeda proper before the two groups were largely united by the shadowy Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and renamed the Islamic Emirate of Iraq and the Levant, later to be renamed Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, ISIS, and IS. Of course, all incarnations of the group were entirely organized, funded, and armed by the United States, NATO, and GCC.

Julani also stated that Nusra would not harm Christians or Druze who refused to fight against it and that the even the Alawites would be spared if they would refuse to fight, reject Assad, and give up their religious beliefs and convert to Sunnism.

Of course, this is disingenuous to say the least. The "opposition" in Syria was famous for screaming "Christians to Beirut, Alawites to the grave!" as far back as 2011 when the crisis first began. Alawites have long been targeted by the so-called "rebels" from the start. Regardless, for the likes of the "moderate rebels," no Muslim - even Sunni - is ever Muslim enough, unless he practices the Wahhabist filth that is labeled Islamic by its proponents and psychopathic adherents.

The reality of the situation is that Julani's statements are nothing more than Western intelligence propaganda foisted upon the brains of the Western public in an effort to gin up support for the savages now bearing down on Latakia, Syria as I write this article.

Of course, Nusra and al-Qaeda will still be played up as a threat to the US here at home. After all, there are a few straggler civil liberties ambling about that still need to be corralled and destroyed.

Surprised astronomers observe a gigantic flare on red giant star, Mira

© Katja Lindblom, CC BY-NC-ND 4.0
Artist’s impression of a giant flare on the surface of red giant Mira A. Behind the star, material is falling onto the star’s tiny companion Mira B.

Super-sharp observations with the telescope Alma have revealed what seems to be a gigantic flare on the surface of Mira, one of the closest and most famous red giant stars in the sky. Activity like this in red giants - similar to what we see in the Sun - comes as a surprise to astronomers. The discovery could help explain how winds from giant stars make their contribution to our galaxy's ecosystem

New observations with Alma have given astronomers their sharpest ever view of the famous double star Mira. The images clearly show the two stars in the system, Mira A and Mira B, but that's not all. For the first time ever at millimetre wavelengths, they reveal details on the surface of Mira A.

"Alma's vision is so sharp that we can begin to see details on the surface of the star. Part of the stellar surface is not just extremely bright, it also varies in brightness. This must be a giant flare, and we think it's related to a flare which X-ray telescopes observed some years ago", says Wouter Vlemmings, astronomer at Chalmers University of Technology, who led the team.

The team's results were recently published in the journal .

Red giants like Mira A are crucial components of our galaxy's ecosystem. As they near the end of their lives, they lose their outer layers in the form of uneven, smoky winds. These winds carry heavy elements that the stars have manufactured - out into space where they can form new stars and planets. Most of the carbon, oxygen, and nitrogen in our bodies was formed in stars and redistributed by their winds.

© W. Vlemmings/Alma
Alma’s false-colour image of the double star Mira, 420 light years from Earth. The two stars, separated by a distance similar to the distance between the Sun and Pluto, are imaged so sharply that astronomers can discern surface details. The ellipse in the lower left corner shows the size of the smallest details that Alma can distinguish.


Mira - the name means "Wonderful" in Latin - has been known for centuries as one of the most famous variable stars in the sky. At its brightest, it can be clearly seen with the naked eye, but when it's at its faintest a telescope is needed. The star, 420 light years away in the constellation Cetus, is in fact a binary system, made up of two stars of about the same mass as the sun: one is a dense, hot white dwarf and the other a fat, cool, red giant, orbiting each other at a distance about the same as Pluto's average distance from the Sun.

"Mira is a key system for understanding how stars like our sun reach the end of their lives, and what difference it makes for an elderly star to have a close companion", says Sofia Ramstedt, astronomer at Uppsala University and co-author on the paper.

The Sun, our closest star, shows activity powered by magnetic fields, and this activity, sometimes in the form of solar storms, drives the particles that make up the solar wind which in its turn can create auroras on Earth.

"Seeing a flare on Mira A suggests that magnetic fields also have a role to play for red giants' winds", says Wouter Vlemmings.

© Clem & Adri Bacri-Normier (wingsforscience.com)/ESO
Alma on the Chajnantor Plateau, located at an altitude of 5000 meters in the Chilean Andes. The large antennas have a diameter of 12 metres, while 12 smaller antennas have a diameter of 7 metres. This photo was taken in December 2012, four months prior to the Alma inauguration.

The new images give astronomers their sharpest ever view of Mira B, which is so close to its companion that material flows from one star to the other.

"This is our clearest view yet of gas from Mira A that is falling towards Mira B" says Eamon O'Gorman, astronomer at Chalmers and member of the team.

The observations were carried out as part of Alma's first long-baseline observations. By placing the telescope's antennas at their maximum distance from each other, Alma reached its maximum resolution for the first time. Mira was one of several targets in the campaign, alongside a young solar system, a gravitationally lensed galaxy and an asteroid. Now Wouter Vlemmings and his team plan new observations of Mira and other similar stars.

"Alma has shown us details on the surface of Mira for the first time. Now we can begin to discover our closest red giants in detail that hasn't previously been possible", he says.

More information: "Resolving the stellar activity of the Mira AB binary with ALMA." DOI

Journal reference: Astronomy & Astrophysics

Provided by Chalmers University of Technology

Mocking the empire: Russia's week in humor

E-mails sent to Sott.net become the property of Quantum Future Group, Inc and may be published without notice.

What Happens #IfThePatriotActExpires? ISIS, Hellfire, Doom!

Glenn Greenwald slammed the Thursday morning for a story quoting numerous anonymous senior officials who claimed that the non-renewal of three sections of the Patriot Act was tantamount to "playing national security Russian Roulette" in a time of unspecified "mounting terrorism threats."

Sensing the true danger involved, many vigilant citizens (starting with @benmarlin) took to Twitter to highlight the imminent, mounting, terrifying terrorist threat inevitably unleashed #IfThePatriotActExpires.

Among the more amusing entries:

The Air Force shows off its new microwave pulse weapon

The Air Force has reportedly picked Lockheed Martin's long-range Joint Air-to-Surface Missile to carry a new "superweapon' - a pulse-generated beam weapon capable of destroying electronics and computers from miles away.

Major Gen. Thomas Masiello of the the Air Force Research Laboratory says the technology, known as CHAMP — for Counter-electronics High-powered microwave Advanced Missile Project — can destroy electronic equipment with bursts of high-power microwave energy, Flight Global reports.

The technology will be "miniaturized" to fit the Lockheed missile, Flight Global reports.

This revolutionary development in weaponry, right out of a Star Trek episode, could radically change warfare, experts say, as the new revelations may spark a new arms race for such technology.

"That's an operational system already in our tactical air force, and that is really what will make us more operationally relevant," Masiello said at a science and technology exposition at the Pentagon earlier this month, Flight Global reports.

"Both the major commands and the combatant commands are very interested in that weapon system. It's a non-kinetic effect."

"We're not quite up to the place where the Star Trek and Star Wars movies are, but this is definitely an advancement in technology to be able to give us an opportunity to something we couldn't do before," said lead test engineer Peter Finlay.

According to Foxtrot Alpha, the super-high-tech system will be a "first day of war" standoff weapon.

"The capability is real ... and the technology can be available today," Masiello says, according to Foxtrot Alpha.

The Daily Mail reports that in 2012 Boeing successfully tested the weapon on a one-hour flight during which it knocked out the computers of an entire military compound. The test was over the Utah Test and Training Range, the newspaper reports.

The test was so successful even the camera recording it was disabled, the newspaper reports.

Keith Coleman, Champ program manager for Boeing's prototype arm Phantom Works, claims the technology marked "a new era in modern warfare."

"In the near future, this technology may be used to render an enemy's electronic and data systems useless even before the first troops or aircraft arrive," he said during the initial test, the Daily Mail reports.

But there are also fears the project could trigger a strong reaction from U.S. competitors like China and Russia.

"Should the [United States] be known to have developed such a technology to the production stage, it would drive others to try to act similarly," according to Trevor Taylor of the Royal United Services Institute, the Daily Mail reports.

Related Stories:

'Bigger and badder': US volunteers head to fight Islamic State


© RT

A group of US volunteers is headed to the Philippines on a contract to fight groups allied with the Islamic State. One counterinsurgency specialist wonders if their enthusiasm will make up for the lack of logistics, weapons and training.

Those in the group have day jobs and regular lives but feel the need to help people endangered by militants who have pledged loyalty to the self-proclaimed Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL), a group in southern Florida told Maria Finoshina.

[embedded content]

They are led by Suleiman Yousef, a professional martial artist and firearms instructor who said he once trained with the mercenary outfit Blackwater. A Muslim himself, Yousef is no stranger to fighting Islamic militants. A tattoo on his neck proclaims, "Cut here."

"They're hurting kids, they're hurting innocent people," he says. "And they're saying it's in the name of Islam. It doesn't work that way."


© RT
Suleiman Yousef with RT's Maria Finoshina.

Yousef and his teammates did not wish to reveal who hired them, but said they were paid "overhead." Asked about their destination, he explains that the Philippines may not be in the headlines but that people there still had a problem with IS-affiliated fighters.

"There's always a bigger and badder person. Right now we're going to be that bigger and badder person," he says. "We need to do what we can with what we know, and do it for the greater good."

Though the Florida group has access to customized infantry weapons, US Marine Corps veteran-turned-military-scholar Jake Diliberto told it was a bad idea for people to go off to fight the IS on their own. Americans who seek to fight terrorists overseas would be better off enlisting in the military, he said, or joining mercenary and contractor outfits the likes of Blackwater.

"Those that choose to go independently actually have a tendency to create more havoc and more problems in the conflict zone than an organized military or defensive contracting company," said Diliberto, a veteran of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

[embedded content]

Volunteers are driven partly by empathy for the victims shown on the TV screens and partly by fear and anxiety that the violence taking place overseas could come home to America, Diliberto explained. "There is a need by some sort of more zealous, defensive Americans to protect their homeland against this kind of perceived threat," he said.

"For the most part, ISIS isn't interested in attacking the US," Diliberto added. "They are interested in Raqqa, they are interested in northern Iraq. They are not interested in coming to New York City or Topeka, Kansas."

3-yr-old among 3 injured after sloth bear attack in India


Sloth bear

A sloth bear mauled three people in separate attacks near village Morwai under Saoli range on Thursday morning. Two of them, including a three-year-old boy, sustained critical injuries in the attack and have been admitted to civil hospital here. Forest department has launched intensive search operation to locate the violent bear and have issued warning in the villages around.

As per reports, Mul and Saoli tehsil witnessed thunderstorm on Wednesday night. Patruji Ghote had taken his three-year-old son Swaraj to collect mangoes fallen in their farm after the thunderstorm in the morning. While Ghote was collecting mangoes, the bear attacked his son Swaraj who was eating mango under the tree some distance away. The beast ripped his throat with its sharp nails before his father could rescue him from its clutches.

"The bear attacked two more persons in separate farms while heading towards the forest. Mahadev Jharkar, who was attacked after Swaraj in nearby farm, sustained critical injuries. The bear also attacked other farmer Chandu Jharkar in his farm some distance away, but he escaped with minor scratches," said RFO, Saoli range, MP Rathod.

A team of foresters, led by RFO Rathod, immediately rushed to the spot and shifted the injured to Mul subdistrict hospital. Critically injured Swaraj and Jharkar were shifted to Chandrapur civil hospital as their condition deteriorated. Sources claimed that Swaraj was given seven stitches on his throat to patch his wound. Jharkar, who had suffered multiple injuries, required 120 stitches to sew all his wounds.

RFO Rathod said they have launched search operation to locate the problem bear. He suspected that the bear had come to the farm lured by the fallen mangoes. Forest officers have warned the villagers against venturing alone in their farms till the whereabouts of violent bear is located.

Kin of the injured were given an ex-gratia of Rs2000 each, while forest department would bear the entire cost of their treatment. CCF, Chandrapur, Sanjay Thakre and DFO, Chandrapur forest division, SS Patil visited the spot and took stock of the situation.

Vietnam signs free trade deal with Russia-led EEU economic block


© RIA Novosti/Ekaterina Shtukina
May 29, 2015. Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev (right) during a meeting with Prime Minister of Vietnam Nguyen Tan Dung on the sidelines of the Eurasian Intergovernmental Council summit in Burabay, Kazakhstan.

The Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) and Vietnam have signed a free trade zone agreement. It became the first international document on creating a free trade zone between the EEU and a third party.

The prime ministers of Russia and Vietnam Dmitry Medvedev and Nguyen Tan Dunghave also signed an agreement for Vietnam to provide Russian investors and service distributors with the most favorable treatment.

The EEU will sign free trade zone agreements with other countries, Medvedev said after signing the agreement with Vietnam.

"Around 40 states have opted for holding talks on concluding this kind of agreements on a free trade zone with EEU, and of course we will be thinking this through as carefully as possible, so that those agreements are useful to our countries," Medvedev said.

The free trade zone will save exporters from the EEU about $40-60 million in the first year of its operations, according to the documents prepared for the signing ceremony, TASS reports.

"At the end of transitional periods, the positive effects from lifting customs duties may reach around $55 million-$60 million a year," the documents added.

Vietnamese companies, in turn, can expect savings of up to $5 million-$10 million a year.

This was the first such agreement with foreign countries for all EEU members, said Andrei Slepnev, minister of trade of the Eurasian Economic Commission (EEC) in an interview with reporters.

"This shows that we are in a trend of world trade processes. If all today's world initiatives are implemented, in five or six years up to 60 percent, or, as some experts believe, even up to 80 percent of all world trade will be carried out in a free trade regime compared to 25 percent nowadays," he said.

Thus, the WTO becomes a necessary but still insufficient condition, as most world trade will go through free trade zones, he said.

"It's a totally new challenge. We had been in the process of joining the WTO for 18 years, but now I understand that our export ambitions can only be realized if we will fit the concept of a new international trade model," Slepnev added.

A free trade agreement with Vietnam will enter into force 60 days after it's ratified in accordance with national legislation in all EEU countries and in Vietnam. Slepnev said he hoped all the countries would ratify the agreement during the autumn session.

The deal to establish the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) was signed by the presidents of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan on May 29, 2014 in Astana. The EEU, which came into effect on January 1, 2015, is designed to ensure the free movement of goods, services, capital and workforce on its territory. The EEU currently comprises Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Armenia. Ratification procedures are currently under way for Kyrgyzstan to join the trade bloc.

Volcanic activity intensifies at Mount Sinabung in North Sumatra

© @endrolewa / twitter
Pyroclastic flow at Sinabung yesterday at 18:20

Monitoring officials have warned residents to remain alert as Mount Sinabung in North Sumatra continues with intense volcanic activity. A local chief reported that ongoing eruptions had taken a mental toll on residents, with two people being sent to mental institutions.

The volcano erupted twice early on Wednesday, at 1:21 a.m. and 3:30 a.m., and sent hot clouds southward.

The Sinabung observation station recorded at least 87 tectonic quakes and lava flow from 12 a.m. to 12 p.m.

Observation station staff member Deri Alhidayat said the volcanic intensity over the past few days had shown a significant increase, evident from the tectonic quakes occurring thus far.

"Tectonic shock waves have been detected almost every day. As many as 20 tectonic and volcanic quakes have taken place today alone," said Deri on Wednesday.

He added the eruptions were expected to continue for a long time. He urged residents living around the mountain to raise their awareness until the government issued an official announcement on the volcano's status.

Residents in Karo regency, especially those living around the volcano, are said to be depressed as the volcano has continued to erupt for almost five years with no sign of stopping.

Pelin Sembiring, the chief of Guru Kinayan village, which is also affected by the eruption, said many residents had suffered from depression from the impacts of the eruptions.

Two of his residents had to be treated at the Simalingkar mental hospital in Medan, North Sumatra, for severe depression as all their belongings had been destroyed and their farms, which they relied upon as a source of income, had been damaged by volcanic ash and pyroclastic flows.

"Many residents are mentally depressed because they couldn't stand facing the impacts of the eruption disaster which prevails up until now," said Pelin.

Pelin also complained about a lack of government attention for victims, who have to fend for themselves to survive.

© Leo Kennedy Adam / twitter
Small pyroclastic flow at Sinabung 21 May

"It has already been nine months since we, from seven relocated villages, have not received living allowances," said Pelin, adding the last time they had received living allowances was in August 2014. Each of the victims was supposed to receive Rp 6,000 (50 US cents) in addition to 0.4 kilograms of rice daily.

North Sumatra provincial council deputy speaker Ruben Tarigan, a Karo community figure, expressed concern over the lack of attention from the government.

"This year, the North Sumatra provincial administration only earmarked Rp 1.5 billion to deal with eruption victims," said Ruben.

Karo Regent Terkelin Brahmana said the budget for disaster mitigation this year was smaller compared to last year.

"Last year, the Karo regency administration allocated Rp 12 billion to deal with eruption victims, but the amount dropped to Rp 3 billion this year," said Terkelin.

Terkelin acknowledged that the budget for eruption victims was smaller this year, but would increase next year.

Terkelin said he and Vice Governor Erry Nuradi met with National Disaster Mitigation Agency officials a few days ago in Jakarta and discussed victim handling. In the meeting, Terkelin said, he submitted a budget of Rp 6.9 trillion to the central government for the overall management of the Mt. Sinabung eruption disaster.

Since an eruption in September 2013, Mt. Sinabung has never entirely stopped its activity. Thousands of residents moved away at that time, only returning home last month after the volcano showed decreased activity. The eruptions have killed at least 17 people and destroyed thousands of houses and hectares of farmland.

South Front Crisis News 28-29 May 2015: Iraqis kill 20 ISIL fighters, ISIL kills 4 ISIL commanders, Al Qaeda orders fighters not to attack West

Iraqi army forces backed by fighters from the Popular Mobilization units have engaged Islamic State militants in the country's western province of Anbar, killing more than three dozen of them in the process. A provincial security sources report 37 ISIS militants were killed as Iraqi forces struck their positions in the district of al-Harariyat as well as the city of Fallujah, located roughly 69 kilometers west of the capital Baghdad. Earlier, On April 11, Islamic State executed four of its own senior commanders in Iraq's northern province of Salahuddin on the grounds that they had fled clashes with Iraqi government forces.

[embedded content]

The leader of al-Nusra Front — the al Qaeda-affiliate group in Syria — insisted on Wednesday that he is under orders from the organization's central leadership not to attack Western interests in Syria, but rather focus on toppling President Bashar al-Assad. "The orders from Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri are we should not attack the West from Syria" Abu Mohammad al-Golani said, speaking in a television interview with the Al Jazeera Arabic-language network. Ayman al-Zawahiri, an Egyptian doctor by training, is the current leader of al Qaeda therefore one of the most powerful terroristic organizations in the world bluntly stated its allegiance to the United States in the region. Wow!

The United States Defense Secretary Ashton Carter warned China Wednesday to stop its buildup of man-made islands in the South China Sea and vowed that the U.S. military would continue to patrol international waters and airspace in the region. China asserts sovereignty over 80 percent of the sea and has been staking its claims by building large artificial islands. The United States and its Asian allies have vigorously opposed China's territorial moves. Apparently, with no one backing down, the impasse has raised the specter of a localized military conflict. On the one hand, US is trying to establish own power in the South China Sea region. On the other hand US rejects the idea of any nation claiming a sphere of influence, Vice President Joe Biden told a Washington think tank the Brookings Institution on Wednesday. Thus, the Biden denied rights on independent policy-making of any state if it state wasn't the United States.

The rise in the number of refugees in the Ukrainian conflict is resulting in one of the world's "worst humanitarian crisis" today, the UN has confirmed. The latest statistics from the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees show that some 857,000 Ukrainians have sought asylum in neighboring countries, mainly Russia. That is an increase of about 23,000 people in the last two weeks. Meanwhile, Kiev's military forces are continuing to shell residential area of Donbass. Ukrainian forces violated ceasefire with artillery, battle-tanks and mortars during last 24 hours only according to the official information of Defence Ministry of Lugansk People's Republic.