Current Events

Who Is Next?

CNN wrote on March 21:

“Putin said Russia had no intention of violating Ukraine’s sovereignty (beyond the 5% of its territory it has absorbed this week.) ‘Do not believe those who want you to fear Russia, shouting that other regions will follow Crimea,’ he told Ukrainians. But he then said this: ‘It should be above all in Ukraine’s own interest to ensure that these people’s rights and interests are fully protected. This is the guarantee of Ukraine’s state stability and territorial integrity.’

“In other words, if the Kremlin believes Russians are being discriminated against, Ukraine’s independence is no longer assured. Those words will have echoed across parts of the former Soviet Union with large Russian populations: Moldova (10%), Lithuania (6%), Latvia (27%) and Estonia (25%). Will the Russian region of Transnistria in Moldova begin agitating for its own referendum? Will oblasts (regions) of eastern Ukraine demand their own vote?

“… In a 2006 referendum more than 95% of voters [in Transnistria] said they wanted to be reunited with Russia. The assumption at NATO headquarters is that Putin won’t stop at Crimea… Nor does the White House see Crimea as Putin’s end-game…”

Obama Administration: Possible that Russia Will Invade Eastern Ukraine

CNN wrote on March 23:

“A top White House aide says it’s possible that Russia could invade eastern Ukraine, and even U.S. military assistance would be unlikely to prevent it… He says the U.S. is looking at providing military assistance to Ukraine. But he also says ‘it’s very unlikely to change Russia’s calculus and prevent an invasion.’”

America’s helplessness is astonishing.

Putin’s Aim Is All of Ukraine

AFP wrote on March 23:

“Ukraine’s Western-backed leaders voiced fears on Sunday of an imminent Russian invasion of the eastern industrial heartland following the fall of their last airbase in Crimea to defiant Kremlin troops. Alarm about a push outside Crimea by Moscow’s overwhelming forces — now conducting drills at Ukraine’s eastern gate — were fanned further Sunday by a call by its self-declared premier for Russians across the ex-Soviet country to rise up against Kiev’s rule.

“The interim leaders in Kiev fear that Russian President Vladimir Putin — flushed with expansionist fervour — is developing a sense of impunity after being hit by only limited EU and US sanctions for taking the Black Sea cape. ‘The aim of Putin is not Crimea but all of Ukraine… His troops massed at the border are ready to attack at any moment,’ Ukraine’s National Security and Defence Council chief Andriy Parubiy told a mass unity rally in Kiev…

“One of the biggest tests facing the besieged interim leaders in Kiev now comes from restless Russians who have been stirring up violent protests and demanding their own secession referendums in the southeastern swaths of Ukraine. The region’s mistrust of the new team’s European values lies from cultural and trade ties with Russia that in many cases are centuries old…”

Travel Warnings for US Citizens

CNN reported on March 22:

“The U.S. State Department also issued a travel warning for Ukraine Friday. It cautioned U.S. citizens ‘to defer all non-essential travel to Ukraine and to defer all travel to the Crimean Peninsula and eastern regions of Kharkiv, Donetsk and Lugansk due to the presence of Russian military forces in the Crimean Peninsula.’”

Is It Transdniestria?

Reuters reported on March 23:

“NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander Europe, U.S. Air Force General Philip Breedlove, voiced concern about Moscow using a tactic of snap military exercises to prepare its forces for possible rapid incursions into a neighbouring state, as it had done in the case of Ukraine’s Crimea region. Russia launched a new military exercise, involving 8,500 artillery men, near Ukraine’s border 10 days ago. ‘The (Russian) force that is at the Ukrainian border now to the east is very, very sizeable and very, very ready,’ Breedlove told an event held by the German Marshall Fund think-tank.

“The president of ex-Soviet Moldova warned Russia last Tuesday against considering any move to annex Transdniestria, which lies on Ukraine’s western border, in the same way that it has taken control of Crimea… Breedlove said NATO was very concerned about the threat to Transdniestria, which he said, in Russia’s view, was the ‘next place where Russian-speaking people may need to be incorporated. There is absolutely sufficient (Russian) force postured on the eastern border of Ukraine to run to Transdniestria if the decision was made to do that and that is very worrisome.’”

Europe—not America—has the most to fear from a militaristic Russia, and Europeans know this. They will feel compelled to create their own strong military apparatus.

Is It Kherson?

Fox News wrote on March 21:

“As Ukraine appears to have all but conceded Crimea to Moscow, Ukrainians in Kherson, the province just north of the peninsula, are believed to be pushing a secession vote of their own in what a local leader angrily denounced as ‘treason.’ The province has a huge Russian speaking population, and a vote – particularly with politicking from Russia – could go against Kiev as did  [in] last Sunday’s referendum in Crimea. In addition to a major push from ethnic Russian politicians, the proposal in Kherson could be boosted by the presence of Russian soldiers, pro-Moscow protesters and the kind of propaganda Ukraine accused Moscow of engaging in before the Crimea vote.

“… an estimated 70 suspected Russian cossacks arrived in Strelkovoe on the Arabat spit in Kherson’s eastern Henichesky region. The group urged locals there to hold a referendum similar to the one in Crimea last Sunday, which passed overwhelmingly despite being called illegitimate by Kiev and western nations…

“Kherson is key in the unfolding conflict… because it links Crimea to the mainland by rail and road and provides the contested peninsula with most of its food, fresh water and electricity…”

Is It Latvia or Estonia?

Breitbart wrote on March 22:

“Pro-Russians took over another Ukrainian military base in Crimea, and Poland asked the US to send more troops to Europe to strengthen NATO’s defenses against Russia…
“After Crimea declared their independence from Ukraine, the government said they would seize Ukraine property and disband the Ukrainian military in the peninsula… Vice President Joe Biden visited Poland, Estonia, Lithuania, and Latvia on Tuesday and Wednesday to assure NATO allies the US will defend them if Russia continues to pose a threat…

“Alarms went off after the Russian ambassador said Moscow is ready to grant Russian citizenship to ethnic Russians in Latvia. A Russian diplomat also told the United Nations Human Rights Council Moscow is worried about the language rights of ethnic Russians in Estonia. The ex-Soviet states are worried they might be Russian President Vladimir Putin’s next target.”

It is highly doubtful that America is prepared to send troops to Europe, and it was not specified what America means when it says that it will “defend” its European allies.

How Russia and China Annex Other Countries

Breitbart wrote on March 22:

“With Russia’s annexation of Crimea now a fait accompli, it’s well to remember that this isn’t the first recent annexation of other countries’ territories. China has already seized islands in the South China Sea that have historically belonged to the Philippines and Vietnam and is operating on the belief that any ‘short, sharp attack’ on any one island won’t bring an American response. China intends to continue annexing islands in this fashion…

“The news on Friday is that Russia is massing over 20,000 troops on the border with eastern Ukraine, evidently with the intention of invading, in order to annex some or all of that territory. It’s really not logical for Russia’s president Vladimir Putin to stop with Crimea, since there are plenty of ethnic Russians in eastern Ukraine—and because Crimea can’t survive without the fresh water, electricity, gas, and food that it imports from Ukraine…

“Russia has long complained about Estonia’s insistence that its large Russian minority in the country should learn to speak Estonian. But recent remarks by Russian diplomats that, for example, Russia was ‘concerned by steps taken… in Estonia as well as in Ukraine’ to use language to ‘segregate and isolate groups’ is giving rise to fears that Estonia is one of the countries on Vladimir Putin’s list to be invaded in order to protect Russian citizens.

“Estonia has a centuries-old bitter history with Russia. People today vividly remember that Josef Stalin’s Red Army reoccupied Estonia in June 1940 and made it part of the Soviet Union. On a one-night operation, June 13-14, 1941, thousands of Estonians, mostly women and children, were deported to Siberia, while tens of thousands of men were forcibly relocated to Russia to fight in the army. This period of bloody Soviet rule left a deep mark on the Estonians, and so when the German Nazis invaded later in 1941, they were greeted as liberators. The Nazis were just as brutal as the Soviets, but when the Red Army returned in September, 1944, some 70,000 Estonians fled the country and formed a diaspora throughout Europe and North America. After the war, Stalin’s Soviet brutality continued by forcing ethnic Russians to relocate to Estonia to dilute the Estonian population. Estonia only became independent in 1991 with the collapse of the Soviet Union.

“Today, as Estonia is well into a new generational Crisis era, it is haunted by ghosts of ‘Nazi sympathizers’ who opposed the Soviets, and a substantial Russian minority, mainly descendants of Russians whom Stalin had forced to relocate to Estonia after the war, who consider themselves to be victims as well.

“There are several countries that separate Russia from the European Union, and many of them have sizable ethnic Russian minorities who consider themselves to be victims. Many of these countries, including Estonia, are members of Nato, meaning that if Russia invades, then Nato will be required by treaty to fight the invasion militarily.

“Russia as a whole, and Putin in particular, are becoming increasingly nationalistic, and it’s possible that Putin will conclude from the experience of annexing Crimea that Nato won’t respond militarily even after a Nato country is invaded but will simply adopt new sanctions such as making it illegal for Russian politicians to visit Disneyland. Similarly, the Chinese may conclude from Russia’s experience in Crimea and their own experiences in the South China Sea that they can continue annexing other people’s islands and territories with impunity…

“It’s true that there’s a ‘new normal’ today that permits Russia and China to annex foreign territories with impunity. But actually it’s the same ‘old normal’ that existed in 1938 when Britain allowed Nazi Germany to annex Sudetenland with impunity…

“A year after taking office, president Xi Jinping is emerging as the strongest Chinese leader in decades. He’s adopted Mao Zedong’s populist style…”

Russia and China are operating in similar ways, and a collaboration between them is prophesied.

Russia Looks to China, Japan and India

Reuters wrote on March 21:

“When President Vladimir Putin signed a treaty this week annexing Crimea to great fanfare in the Kremlin and anger in the West, a trusted lieutenant was making his way to Asia to shore up ties with Russia’s eastern allies. Forcing home the symbolism of his trip, Igor Sechin gathered media in Tokyo the next day to warn Western governments that more sanctions over Moscow’s seizure of the Black Sea peninsula from Ukraine would be counter-productive.

“The underlying message from the head of Russia’s biggest oil company, Rosneft, was clear: If Europe and the United States isolate Russia, Moscow will look East for new business, energy deals, military contracts and political alliances.

“The Holy Grail for Moscow is a natural gas supply deal with China that is apparently now close after years of negotiations. If it can be signed when Putin visits China in May, he will be able to hold it up to show that global power has shifted eastwards and he does not need the West…

“The support of Beijing is vital for Putin. Not only is China a fellow permanent member of the U.N. Security Council with whom Russia thinks alike, it is also the world’s second biggest economy and it opposes the spread of Western-style democracy… Chinese President Xi Jinping showed how much he values ties with Moscow, and Putin in particular, by making Russia his first foreign visit as China’s leader last year and attending the opening of the Winter Olympics in Sochi last month…

“Russia and China could also step up cooperation in areas apart from energy… the prospects of Russia delivering Sukhoi SU-35 fighter jets to China, which has been under discussion since 2010, would grow…

“Tokyo has been working hard under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to improve ties with Moscow, despite a territorial dispute dating from World War Two… Putin did take time… to thank one other country apart from China for its understanding over Ukraine and Crimea – saying India had shown ‘restraint and objectivity’.  He also called Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to discuss the crisis on Tuesday, suggesting there is room for Russia’s ties with traditionally non-aligned India to flourish… Russia remains a key defense supplier [to India] and relations are friendly… Putin’s moves to assert Russian control over Crimea were seen very favorably in the Indian establishment…”

Der Spiegel Online reported on March 20 that behind the scenes, Russia and China are working on a military pact “which could drastically change the alignments between world powers.”

Russia Reasserts Itself in Afghanistan and Middle East

The Washington Post wrote on March 21:

“As the U.S.-led war winds down and Russia reasserts itself in Ukraine and the Middle East, Moscow is also ramping up its investment in Afghanistan. It is rebuilding the relics of the Soviet occupation and promoting its own political and cultural prowess…

“Russia’s recent incursion into its neighbor, Ukraine, and its annexation of Crimea reflect its intent to maintain influence in some former Soviet republics. It also reaching out to old allies further afield. Last month, President Vladimir Putin received Egyptian army chief Abdel Fatah al-Sissi, whose relations with Washington have been strained since a coup last summer, and expressed support for the military man’s expected presidential bid.

“Moscow is also negotiating a major arms deal with Sissi and agreed in 2012 to sell Iraq $4.3 billion in weapons. In Syria, Putin is strongly backing the government of President Bashar al-Assad as he seeks to crush a rebellion that has received support from the West.

“In Afghanistan, Russian officials point to their development activities as a counterexample to U.S. aid projects, which many Afghans criticize as wasteful and misguided… Many Afghans, including President Hamid Karzai, praise the Soviet model even though they fought a bloody 10-year war against the country’s army, which invaded in 1979 to support an unpopular communist government…

“The new warmth between the Kremlin and Afghanistan was visible this week when the Afghan government released a message from Putin marking the Islamic new year. It was the only such message made public, and was released at a time when the United States and European governments are imposing sanctions on Russia for its expansion into Ukraine…

“Russian officials say that supporting Afghanistan makes sense, given their regional interests. Afghanistan shares borders with three former Soviet states that still receive considerable funding — and direction — from Moscow…”

Russia’s ambitions are not limited to Ukraine and other former Soviet satellite nations. Russia’s ultimate goal is world domination.

Putin Eyes Latin America

The Hill wrote von March 21:

“Away from the conflict in Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin is quietly seeking a foothold in Latin America, military officials warn. To the alarm of lawmakers and Pentagon officials, Putin has begun sending navy ships and long-range bombers to the region for the first time in years. Russia’s defense minister says the country is planning bases in Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua, and just last week, Putin’s national security team met to discuss increasing military ties in the region…

“The U.S. military says it has been forced to cut back on its engagement with military and government officials in Latin America due to budget cuts. Kelly said the U.S. military had to cancel more than 200 effective engagement activities and multi-lateral exercises in Latin America last year. With the American presence waning, officials say rivals such as Russia, China and Iran are quickly filling the void.

“Iran has opened up 11 additional embassies and 33 cultural centers in Latin America while supporting the ‘operational presence’ of militant group Lebanese Hezbollah in the region… China is making a play for Latin America [as] well, and is now the fastest growing investor in the region, according to experts. Although their activity is mostly economic, they are also increasing military activity through educational exchanges.

“The Chinese Navy conducted a goodwill visit in Brazil, Chile and Argentina last year and conducted its first-ever naval exercise with the Argentine Navy. Meanwhile, the U.S. had to cancel the deployment of its hospital ship USNS Comfort last year… [T]here are 10 countries in Latin America that currently have no U.S. ambassador because they either haven’t been nominated yet or confirmed, a sign that the region is seen as a low priority.”

China, India, Brazil and South Africa Support Russia’s Participation at G20 Summit

The EUObserver wrote on March 25:

“The G7 club of wealthy nations has cancelled a summit with Russia over its annexation of Crimea, but emerging economies have protested against its exclusion from a G20 meeting. The G7 leaders – from Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the US – announced the move in a communique published after their meeting in The Hague on Monday (24 March). The June summit, which was to be held in the G8 format with Russia in Sochi, on the Black Sea coast, will now be held in Brussels…

“For its part, US ally Australia had indicated Russia might also be excluded from a G20 summit in Brisbane in November. But Brazil, China, India, and South Africa rejected the idea. They said, together with Russia, also at The Hague, where almost 60 countries had sent VIPs to a Nuclear Security Summit, that ‘the escalation of hostile language, sanctions and counter-sanctions … does not contribute to a sustainable and peaceful solution’ to the Ukraine crisis…

“With Brazil and China now wealthier than some G7 countries, Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov noted the G7 has lost its monopoly on global governance. Russia on Monday also hit back at Western sanctions by blacklisting 13 Canadians. It has mocked EU and US blacklists and economic threats.”

The Crimea Anschluss—Is History Repeating Itself?

The Times of Israel wrote on March 21:

“An overwhelming 95.5% voted for the union with Putin’s Russia… The context in which the referendum was held is staggeringly similar to another poll, held in Austria on April 10, 1938. That referendum took place less than a month after German forces had entered Austria and had a 99.71% turnout, with 99.73% of Austrians voting in favor of unification with Germany. The vote sealed the Anschluss, turning Austria into the province of Ostmark within the larger German Reich.

“The Crimean referendum took place against the background of a full-scale propaganda campaign led by the Kremlin-controlled media. In what was likely the worst threat related through the press since the Cold War, the Kremlin’s chief propagandist Dmitry Kiselev said on state TV that ‘Russia was the only country able to turn the US into radioactive ash.’ A giant mushroom-shaped cloud blossomed in the background as he spoke.

“The evening of March 18 saw a pro-annexation demonstration in Moscow’s Red Square. Pop music blasted from an enormous stage erected next to the Kremlin’s ancient walls, and over 100,000 people, according to official estimates, rallied under the slogan ‘One People – One Country.’ An unoriginal statement, which is part of a similar slogan that was invented by another authoritarian leader in the 20th century. Adolf Hitler’s mantra ‘Ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Führer’ (One People, One Empire, One Leader) was widely used in Nazi propaganda on the eve of and throughout WWII.”

Of course, most Crimean people were willing participants in the Anschluss, as were most Austrians.

Russia Wants to Divide Europe

Deutsche Welle reported on March 22:

“During his trip to Ukraine, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier has accused Russia of trying to divide Europe… Steinmeier’s visit comes a day after Ukraine signed the political chapters of an association agreement with the EU. Yatsenyuk… also called for greater military cooperation with the EU. ‘We have to re-arm and strengthen the Ukrainian armed forces,’ the prime minister said.”

Deutsche Welle added on March 23:

“German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier has warned that the crisis in Crimea could escalate. He threatened Russia with further sanctions if it tried to claim more Ukrainian territory for itself…  ‘If Russia reaches beyond Crimea, we in Europe will decide on radical measures, even if we have to accept economic disadvantages by doing so,’ he said.”

As Europe finally wakes up to Russia’s goal, and feeling quite forsaken by America, it will prompt its leading core European nations to unite militarily.

Britain Defeated on Every Level

News Republic re-published the following article by Press Association, dated March 25:

“Britain has been defeated on every single one of the 55 occasions it has voted against a proposal in the European Council over the past 18 years, new research has found… Britain’s voting power in the European Councils has fallen since 1973 from 17% to 8% as the EU has expanded, while its representation in the European Parliament has decreased from 20% to 9.5% and its share of European Commission staff has dropped from 15% to 4% over the same period, said the report.”

Reintroduction of Compulsory Military Service in Germany?

The Local wrote on March 25:

“Mounting tension in the Crimea is prompting calls for compulsory military service to be reintroduced in Germany. A number of German ex-generals have raised fears over the nation’s military strength should it be drawn into a Nato-led conflict. ‘We need compulsory military service. There is no other way for Germany to guarantee national defence within the [Nato] mutual defence alliance,’ retired Nato general Egon Ramms told Bild newspaper. ‘[It certainly can’t be done] on a voluntary basis.’

“Ramms was commander of the Allied Joint Forces Command between 2007 and 2010, one of the highest-ranking positions in the Nato alliance. He expressed doubts about Germany’s readiness for war in light of the decision in July 2011 to abolish the nine-month stretch of compulsory military service.

“Similar fears were raised by retired Inspector General of the Bundeswehr Harald Kujat, who told the paper staff shortages meant the German army had been ‘brought to its knees’ by the move. ‘We don’t have enough soldiers and not enough qualified ones. We must talk about reintroducing compulsory service,’ agreed CDU politician Patrick Sensburg, who voted against the July 2011 decision in parliament…”

Israel Prepares to Strike Iran… Just an Empty Threat?

The Associated Press reported on March 21:

“A rising chorus of Israeli voices is again raising the possibility of carrying out a military strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities in what appears to be an attempt to draw renewed attention to Tehran’s atomic program — and Israel’s unhappiness with international negotiations with the Iranians.

“In recent days, a series of newspaper reports and comments by top defense officials have signaled that the military option remains very much on the table. While Israeli officials say Israel never shelved the possibility of attacking, the heightened rhetoric marks a departure from Israel’s subdued approach since six world powers opened negotiations with Iran last November…

“A front-page headline in the daily Haaretz on Thursday proclaimed that Netanyahu has ordered ‘to prep for strike on Iran in 2014’ and has allocated 10 billion shekels (2.87 billion dollars) for the groundwork. Earlier this week, Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon hinted that Israel would have to pursue a military strike on its own, with the U.S. having chosen the path of negotiations. And the military chief, Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz, said this week that Iran ‘is not in an area that is out of the military’s range.’

“An Israeli military strike would be extremely difficult to pull off, both for logistical and political reasons. Any mission would likely require sending Israeli warplanes into hostile airspace, and it remains unclear how much damage Israel could inflict on a program that is scattered and hidden deep underground. In addition, it would likely set off an international uproar, derail the international negotiations and trigger retaliation on Israeli and U.S. targets…”

Netanyahu Allocates Almost $3 Billion for Iran Attack

Newsmax reported on March 23:

“Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon have reportedly ordered the military to continue preparing for a possible strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities. Three Knesset members who were present at Knesset joint committee hearings on Israel Defense Forces plans said that at least 10 billion shekels ($2.89 billion) of the defense budget would be allocated this year for preparations for the strike on Iran, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported.

“After an interim accord between Iran and six world powers was reached, Netanyahu stressed that Israel will not consider itself bound by it. Netanyahu in fact is again making implied threats about a possible unilateral Israeli strike.  ‘My friends, I believe that letting Iran enrich uranium would open up the floodgates,’ Netanyahu said at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee conference in Washington earlier this month. ‘That must not happen. And we will make sure it does not happen.’

“Ya’alon said in a recent speech at Tel Aviv University that he is now likely to back a unilateral strike on Iran in light of his assessment that the Obama administration will not do so, according to Haaretz.”

 Israel’s disappointment with the weak leadership of America is telling and frightening.

Israel Shuts Down All Its Embassies and Consulates Worldwide

JTA reported on March 23:

“Employees of the Foreign Ministry in Israel declared a general strike, shutting down the country’s 103 embassies, consulates and diplomatic missions around the world. The strike, which is open ended, was called on Sunday following two weeks of labor sanctions and seven months of mediation. ‘Today, for the first time in Israel’s history, the Foreign Ministry will be closed and no work will be done in any sphere under the ministry’s authority,’ said a statement issued Sunday by the Foreign Ministry’s worker’s committee…

“The Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem also was closed, preventing Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman from entering his office. The strike could torpedo a planned visit by Pope Francis in May. Limited sanctions initiated two weeks ago caused Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to cancel a trip to Latin America. Damage to Israel’s economy due to the work dispute has totaled millions of dollars.”

Turkey Shoots Down Syrian Warplane

The Associated Press reported on March 23:

“Turkish fighter jets shot down a Syrian warplane Sunday after it violated the country’s airspace, Turkey’s prime minister said, in a move likely to ramp up tensions between two countries already deeply at odds over Syria’s civil war. A spokesman for Syria’s military confirmed the incident, denouncing it as a ‘blatant aggression.’ The unnamed spokesman quoted on Syrian state TV said the plane was hit while pursuing gunmen near the border, and that the pilot safely ejected from the aircraft.

“Top NATO commander says Moldovan region is vulnerable as Russia masses forces on Ukraine’s eastern border. Turkey, once an ally of Syria, has emerged as one of the strongest critics of Syrian President Bashar Assad and is now one of the main backers of the 3-year-old rebellion against him. Hostilities have flared along the border on several occasions, although the exchanges of fire have generally been brief and very limited in scope…

“Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, speaking at a rally in northwestern Turkey a week ahead of local elections, congratulated the Turkish military. ‘If you violate our border, our slap will be hard,’ he said.”

Turkey—biblical Edom—will cooperate with Europe, but its brutal methods will be condemned by God.

Turkey Blocks Internet Access

Deutsche Welle reported on March 27:

“Authorities attempted to restrict access to video-sharing website YouTube on Thursday ‘as a precaution,’ Technology Minister Fikri Isik said… Just hours earlier an audio file was published on YouTube of a recording of a security meeting at which top government, military and spy officials had discussed a possible plan for military action inside Syria…

“The European Union’s top official for digital affairs called Turkey’s action on Thursday ‘desperate and depressing.’ ‘I express my support for all those supporters of real freedom and democracy,’ EU Digital Agenda Commissioner Neelie Kroes said in a statement. ‘We in Europe stand for an open Internet and free expression on it,’ Kroes said… Turkey also has the largest number of jailed journalists in the world.”

But Not Just in Turkey

Infowars reported on March 23:

“A major anti-Obama YouTube channel with 55 million views was shut down yesterday just days after a new policy went into effect handing governments the power to flag ‘extremist’ content on the video sharing website.  Media commentator and activist Mark Dice, whose channel had 55 million views and 265,000 subscribers, had his account suspended yesterday for what YouTube described as ‘severe terms of service violations’. The channel was not deleted due to copyright issues…

“The most popular videos on Dice’s channel lambasted supporters of Barack Obama. Dice had built up a reputation for his ‘man on the street’ videos which featured him getting Obama supporters to sign petitions that called for a number of insane proposal…

“After Dice made a video drawing attention to the censorship on his back-up channel, that too was deleted despite having zero strikes against it… Attempts to get an explanation for why the channel was deleted have proven fruitless.

“Dice’s YouTube channel was also deleted after parent company Google gave some 200 government and police organizations ‘super flagger’ powers enabling them to flag up to 20 videos for review and possible removal.”

Subsequently, Infowars reported:

“UPDATE: About 3 hours after this article was posted and following a wave of public pressure, Mark Dice’s channel was restored by YouTube.”

Controversial Court Decision in Egypt against Muslim Brotherhood

BBC News wrote on March 23:

“Authorities have cracked down harshly on Islamists since Mr Morsi was removed by the military in July. Hundreds have been killed and thousands arrested. In a case centred on the killing of a single police officer, more than 520 defendants have been sentenced to death, at a breathtaking pace… The verdict now goes to Egypt’s supreme religious authority, the Grand Mufti (a senior Islamic scholar), for approval or rejection…

“The Muslim Brotherhood has denounced death sentences and Washington expressed shock and concern… The Muslim Brotherhood’s spokesman in London, Abdullah el-Haddad, told the BBC the sentences showed that Egypt was now a dictatorship… The US government also questioned how the defendants could have had a fair trial in just two court sessions – one of which was Monday’s sentencing.”

Another consequence of the “Arab Spring”—a movement destined to failure from the outset.

Homosexuality Non-Pardonable Offense in Ethiopia?

The Washington Times wrote on March 25:

“Lawmakers in Ethiopia are about to pass a law that lists homosexuality as a crime for which there is no forgiveness — a stipulation that would have dramatic impact on those seeking amnesty or pardon. Specifically, the new rule would list homosexuality as a ‘non-pardonable’ offense under the country’s amnesty law, The Associated Press reported.

“The nation already has strict same-sex prohibitions. Those found guilty of engaging in sex acts with others of the same gender can be sentenced up to 15 years in prison. Those who engage in same-sex acts and infect another with HIV can be imprisoned up to 25 years, AP reported. The new law would mean that the president would not be able to pardon anybody convicted of those offenses — in much the same manner the law prohibits the president from granting freedom to anyone convicted of terrorism.

“Ethiopia’s Council of Ministers has already given the thumbs-up to the proposal, and it’s largely expected to pass with a wide majority during a scheduled vote next week, AP said.”

What to Do With Chemical Weapons

The Los Angeles Times wrote on March 21:

“Even as the United States pushes Syria to surrender its chemical weapons for destruction in a matter of months, this country has struggled for decades with its own deadly stockpiles.

“Redstone Arsenal, in the swampy lowlands of northern Alabama, is the largest of the 249 sites in 40 states and territories where chemical weapons remain buried and await cleanup at a cost of billions of dollars. Just outside the Redstone gates is Huntsville, a city of nearly 200,000 residents.

“As World War II ended, the United States military collected chemical weapons from Nazi Germany and Japan, as well as from British and American stockpiles. A million chemical weapon munitions marked for storage or disposal were shipped to Redstone, where the U.S. had produced blister agents and other chemical weapons during the war… Today a toxic stew of some of the most lethal weapons ever devised rests beneath the surface: Nazi mustard, a liquid blister agent. Lewisite, another blister agent. Adamsite, a vomiting agent. And possibly Nazi tabun, a nerve agent. Also buried are containers of white phosphorus, chlorine, smoke bombs, tear gas and incendiary bombs…

“President Nixon declared a moratorium on new production of chemical weapons in 1969. In 1985, the U.S. declared its chemical weapons stockpiles obsolete and said they should be destroyed. By the time the U.S. in 1997 signed the Chemical Weapons Convention, an international treaty outlawing production, stockpiling and use of chemical weapons and their precursors, the country was stuck not only with buried weapons at sites such as Redstone, but also with stockpiles totaling 31,500 tons of chemicals in mortar and artillery shells, rockets and other lethal weapons. Most contained mustard or the nerve agents sarin and VX.

“In 1990, the process of incinerating those weapons began at eight sites in the U.S. and on Johnston Atoll in the Pacific. Nearly 90% of the job was completed by April 2012, leaving only two chemical weapons stockpiles, in Pueblo, Colo., and Blue Grass, Ky. Disposal by incineration was halted because of environmental concerns, and the remaining 10% is now set to be destroyed by a chemical process. The rough target dates for completion are 2017 for the Colorado stockpile and 2021 to 2023 for the one in Kentucky…

“The U.S. has rid itself of some chemical weapons by burying them at sea. There were about 72 separate disposals in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans and Mediterranean Sea. Dumping chemical weapons at sea was banned by Congress in 1972, but there is no plan to clean up the underwater sites…”

The curse of chemical weapons will haunt the nations—including America—for a long time.

The Washington Mudslide

BBC News reported on March 27:

“The number of fatalities in a mudslide in Washington state will rise ‘substantially’ in the next two days, authorities say. Sixteen bodies have been recovered and another nine bodies have been found but not yet retrieved. Some 90 people remain missing after the 177ft (54m) wall of mud hit the town of Oso, north of Seattle…

“The mudslide on Saturday destroyed about 30 houses, temporarily damming a river and leaving a square mile field of muck and debris in its wake. ‘This disaster is so enormous, I sometimes think even the pictures don’t always do it justice,’ said Congresswoman Suzan DelBene, who represents the area… The mile debris field is pocked with deep pits of water and strewn with sharp and dangerous wreckage, including fallen trees, propane and septic tanks, destroyed vehicles and smashed timber.”

USA Plans to Surrender Control over the Internet

Newsmax wrote on March 23:

“Former President Bill Clinton objects to the Obama administration’s plan to give up the United States’ control over online domain names and addresses saying that the country’s agencies have done a good job keeping the Internet free and open. ‘A lot of people… have been trying to take this authority from the U.S. for the sole purpose of cracking down on Internet freedom and limiting it and having governments protect their backsides instead of empowering the people,’ Clinton said…

“And although National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden’s revelations gave ‘new energy’ to an international opinion that the United States should not be in control of domain names, Clinton disagrees, saying that he does not believe the control should be spread out among other nations… The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers… has been in charge of managing Internet addresses since 1998.

“… opponents [to the plan to surrender US control] say the plan opens the door for totalitarian governments such as Russia and China to gain more control over the Internet… ‘I understand in theory why we would like to have a multi-stakeholder process,’ said Clinton. ‘I favor that. I just know that a lot of these so-called multi-stakeholders are really governments that want to gag people and restrict access to the Internet.’”

The Religious US Supreme Court

The Washington Post wrote on March 23:

“Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. are devout Catholics who faced questions during their confirmation hearings about how their faith would affect their jurisprudence. Justice Clarence Thomas is a former seminarian who says God saved his life.

“Justice Antonin Scalia is the most outspoken. He has urged fellow intellectuals to be ‘fools for Christ’ and used an interview last fall to underscore his belief in the existence of the Devil, whose latest maneuver, he said, ‘is getting people not to believe in him or in God.’

“Justice Elena Kagan, not religious like the others, nonetheless has reminded Jewish groups that she undertook years of three-days-a-week religious instruction as a child. She negotiated with her rabbi to be the first girl to have a bat mitzvah at New York City’s Lincoln Square Synagogue…

“Much attention has been given to the religious makeup of the current edition of the Roberts court. With six Catholics and three Jews, it is the first without a Protestant member.”

Francis and Obama – a Lot in Common

Religious News Service reported on March 22:

“President Obama is to meet Pope Francis for the first time next week (March 27) as Obama wraps up a European tour, a high-profile encounter between two major world leaders that appears to carry especially high stakes from the U.S. perspective… the two men have a lot in common… Ken Hackett, the U.S. ambassador to the Holy See… said there’s no doubt that Francis and Obama differ on issues like abortion rights and gay marriage. But neither he nor Vatican officials expect those wedges to dominate the discussions, nor would either camp want them to sidetrack the meeting…

“Instead, the talks are likely to be governed by two other realities. The first is that Francis, the first pope from Latin America, has clearly signaled that he wants the Catholic Church’s public witness to focus less on culture war issues and more on addressing income inequality and helping the poor and society’s outcasts — which dovetails with Obama’s priorities…

“A second factor shaping the upcoming Vatican meeting is the sudden eruption of violence in global hot spots. Obama has been drawn somewhat reluctantly into the foreign policy arena while he would prefer to focus on domestic issues at home. Francis, meanwhile, has sought to push the Vatican back onto the world stage as a voice for peace and a diplomatic player that can play a concrete role as well as providing moral and spiritual guidance…

“Hackett also noted that Francis’ planned visit to the Holy Land in May will give the Vatican another high-profile role in a volatile region at the same time Kerry is trying to develop a framework for peace… Vatican officials often speak highly of Obama in private conversations, and even when they disagree with him they do so in terms that are far less caustic and charged than the language many U.S. bishops use.

“For his part, Obama has gone out of his way to praise and quote the pope. That’s no surprise: Obama got his start as a community organizer working with the Archdiocese of Chicago fresh out of college — an experience that helped shape his views and politics much as Francis’ ministry as a priest and bishop in poor areas in Argentina shaped him…”

Some of the “similarities” are quite revealing…

Reuters added on March 27:

“Calling himself ‘a great admirer’, President Barack Obama held nearly an hour of private talks about the global situation with Pope Francis on Thursday and invited the pontiff to visit the White House… Ahead of the meeting, Obama told the Corriere della Sera that Francis’s ‘great moral authority’ had added weight to calls to redress the increasing imbalance between the winners and losers of globalization and economic change… Francis has turned his back on much of the traditional formality of the Vatican but he deployed the full weight of state ceremonial on Thursday, welcoming the U.S. President outside the Papal Library in the richly frescoed Small Throne Room, where they shook hands warmly before beginning their private meeting.”

… but Differences Remain!

The Washington Times wrote on March 27:

“President Obama’s first meeting with Pope Francis produced a little schism of its own. The Vatican and White House gave starkly different versions Thursday of Mr. Obama’s meeting with Francis… Mr. Obama deflected a reporter’s question about the extent of his discussion with the pope on the contraceptive mandate by saying that Francis ‘actually did not touch in detail’ on the subject. The administration has been locked in a lengthy legal and political battle with the U.S. Catholic Church hierarchy over Obamacare and issues such as abortion and same-sex marriage.

“The Vatican, however, issued a statement after the meeting saying the president’s discussions with Francis and two other top Vatican officials focused ‘on questions of particular relevance for the [Catholic] Church in [the United States], such as the exercise of the rights to religious freedom, life and conscientious objection’ — issues that have fueled divisions between Mr. Obama and the church.”

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