Europe


This section of Graphic Humor in political-economic, national or international issues, are very ingenious in describing what happened, is happening or will happen. It also extends to various other local issues or passing around the world. There are also other non-political humor that ranges from reflective or just to get us a smile when we see them. Anyone with basic education and to stay informed of important news happening in our local and global world may understand and enjoy them. Farewell!. (CTsT)

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8

He mob howled for vengeance, the missiles raining down on the synagogue walls as the worshippers huddled inside. It was a scene from Europe in the 1930s – except this was eastern Paris on the evening of July 13th, 2014.

Thousands had gathered to demonstrate against the Israeli bombardment of Gaza. But the protest soon turned violent – and against Jews in general. One of those trapped told Israeli television that the streets outside were “like an intifada”, the Palestinian uprising against Israeli occupation.

exodusnw_0

Some of the trapped Jews fought their way out as the riot police dispersed the crowd. Manuel Valls, the French Prime Minister, condemned the attack in “the strongest possible terms”, while Joel Mergei, a community leader, said he was “profoundly shocked and revolted”. The words had no effect. Two weeks later, 400 protesters attacked a synagogue and Jewish-owned businesses in Sarcelles, in the north of Paris, shouting “Death to the Jews”. Posters had even advertised the raid in advance, like the pogroms of Tsarist Russia.

France has suffered the worst violence, but anti-Semitism is spiking across Europe, fuelled by the war in Gaza. In Britain, the Community Security Trust (CST) says there were around 100 anti-Semitic incidents in July, double the usual  number. The CST has issued a security alert for Jewish institutions. In Berlin a crowd of anti-Israel protesters had to be prevented from attacking a synagogue. In Liege, Belgium, a café owner put up a sign saying dogs were welcome, but Jews were not allowed.Yet for many French and European Jews, the violence comes as no surprise. Seventy years after the Holocaust, from Amiens to Athens, the world’s oldest hatred flourishes anew. For some, opposition to Israeli policies is now a justification for open hatred of Jews – even though many Jews are strongly opposed to Israel’s rightward lurch, and support the establishment of a Palestinian state.

As Stephen Pollard, the editor of the Jewish Chronicle, argues: “These people were not attacked because they were showing their support for the Israeli government. They were attacked because they were Jews, going about their daily business.”

One weekend in May seemed to epitomise the darkness. On May 24th a gunman pulled out a Kalashnikov assault rifle at the Jewish Museum in Brussels and opened fire, killing four people. The next day the results of the elections to the European parliament showed a surge in support for extreme-right ­parties in France, Greece, Hungary and Germany. The National Front in France won the election, which many fear could be a precursor to eventually taking power in a national election.

Perhaps the most shocking result was the surge in support for Golden Dawn in Greece. The party, which has been described as openly neo-Nazi, won almost 10% of the vote, bringing it three members of the European parliament.

In parts of Hungary, especially the impoverished north and east, Jobbik is the main opposition to the governing right-wing Fidesz. Jobbik won 14.7% of votes at the European elections. The party denies being antisemitic but even Marine Le Pen, leader of the French National Front, ruled out cooperating with them in the European parliament.

In November 2012, Marton Gyöngyösi, a senior Jobbik MP, called for a list to be made of Hungarian Jews, especially those working in Parliament or for the government, as they posed a “national security risk”. (Gyöngyösi later apologised and said he was referring only to Jews with dual Israeli-­Hungarian citizenship.)

Some saw the Brussels attack and the election results as dark portents. “At what point,” asked Jeffrey Goldberg, a prominent American Jewish journalist, “do the Jews of America and the Jews of Israel tell the Jews of Europe that it might be time to get out?” Around now, it seems.

GETTING OUT

A survey published in November 2013 by the Fundamental Rights Agency of the European Union found that 29% had considered emigrating as they did not feel safe. Jews across Europe, the survey noted, “face insults, discrimination and physical violence, which despite concerted efforts by both the EU and its member states, shows no signs of fading into the past”.

Two-thirds considered anti-Semitism to be a problem across the countries surveyed. Overall, 76% said that anti-Semitism had worsened over the past five years in their home countries, with the most marked deteriorations in France, Hungary and Belgium. The European Jewish Congress has now set up a website, sacc.eu, to give advice and contacts in the events of an attack.

“The tendency is very alarming,” says Natan Sharansky, chairman of the Jewish Agency, which links Israel with diaspora communities and organises immigration. “The level of concern about security in Europe is higher than in Asia or Latin America. This feeling of insecurity is growing. It’s difficult to imagine that in France, Belgium and many other countries Jewish people are told not to go out on the streets wearing a kippah.”

A survey by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) in New York found similar results. The ADL Global 100 surveyed 53,000 adults in 102 countries. It found that 26% held deeply anti-Semitic attitudes, answering “probably true” to six or more of 11 negative stereotypes of Jews.

The highest levels of prejudice were found in the Arab world, with the Palestinian Terri Hungary 41%. The Czech Republic was lowest at 13%.

But the picture is more complex than the survey suggests. Malmo, Sweden’s third-largest city, is one of the most unsettling places in Europe for Jews. Anti-Semitic attacks tripled between 2010 and 2012, when the community, around 700-strong, recorded 60 incidents. In October 2012 a bomb exploded at the Jewish community centre.

Jewish leaders accused Ilmar Reepalu, who served as mayor between 1994 and 2013, of inflammatory comments. Reepalu called for Jews to distance themselves from Zionism, and claimed that the Jewish community had been “infiltrated” by the Sweden Democrats party, which has its roots in the far-right. Reepalu has denied being anti-Semitic. But his remarks provoked a storm of protest and he was forced to retract them. Hannah Rosenthal, the former US Special Envoy for combating anti-Semitism, said Malmo was a prime example of the “new anti-Semitism” where hatred of Israel is used to disguise hatred of Jews.

It is not anti-Semitic to criticise the Israeli government or its policies towards the Palestinians, say Jewish leaders. A reasoned, open debate on the conflict is always welcome – especially now, when passions are running so high over Gaza. But the morbid obsession with the only democracy in the Middle East, they say, its relentless demonisation and the calls for its destruction are indicative of anti-Semitism.

Social media provides an easy platform for the spread of hate, which has been given impetus by the alliance between Islamists and the left, says Ben Cohen, author of Some of My Best Friends: A Journey Through Twenty-First Century Anti-Semitism. “Saying that Jews are the only nation who don’t have the right to self-determination, smearing Israel as a modern incarnation of Nazi Germany or apartheid South Africa, asserting that the ‘Israel Lobby’ manipulates American foreign policy from the shadows is unmistakably anti-Semitism.”

tories topping the list at 93%, followed by Iraq at 92%. In Europe Greece topped the list at 69%, while France scored 37% and Belgium 27%. Britain had 8%, the Netherlands 5% and Sweden was the lowest at 4%. In Eastern Europe Poland had 45% and

QuenelleYouths make the “quenelle” gesture outside the a concert hall in Nantes where a banned show by French humorist Dieudonne M’bala M’bala, also known as Dieudonne, was due to take place, January 9, 2014. Critics say the comic’s trademark straight-arm gesture is a Nazi salute in reverse. Dieudonne, 46, says it is anti-Zionist and anti-establishment, but not anti-Semitic. Stephane Mahe/Reuters

In 1997 I wrote a book about Muslim minorities in Europe, called A Heart Turned East. It was optimistic, and, with hindsight, naïve of me. I travelled across France, Germany, Britain, Turkey and Bosnia. I hoped then that a tolerant, modern Islam could emerge in Europe, in the Ottoman tradition. The Ottomans had not been perfect, but they had been comparably tolerant – especially in comparison to the Catholic church. In France I met Muslim intellectuals, exiles and artists. They were resentful of their second class status, and had been scarred by racism and discrimination. But their anger was directed at the French authorities and they were keen to co-exist with their Jewish compatriots.

So what went wrong? The undercurrents had long been swirling, but had been little noticed. They date back to the Islamic revolution in Iran, the siege of Mecca and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, says Ghaffar Hussain, of the Quilliam Foundation, a counter-extremism think-tank in London. “Islamist extremism experienced a global upsurge post 1979. These events played into the hands of Islamists.” That anger was further fuelled by the Bosnian war, which helped nurture a global Muslim consciousness.

Many western Muslim communities are suffering an identity crisis, says Hussain. The politics of hate offers an easy escape and a means of blaming personal feelings on others. “In many cases it resonates with the life experiences of young Muslims. They feel alienated and disenfranchised, due to negative experiences, personal inadequacies or even cultural differences.”

Jews, Muslims, African and other immigrants once lived in reasonable harmony in the banlieues, sharing hard time. La Haine (Hate), a hugely successful thriller directed by Mathieu Kassovitz, released in 1995, starred three protagonists: one Jewish, one Afro-French and a third from a North African family. The violence and brutality are experienced by all three friends.

Such a film is nearly unimaginable nowadays. The turning point came in January 2006 with the kidnapping and murder of Ilan Halimi. A 23-year-old mobile telephone salesman, Halimi was lured into a honey-trap, abducted and held for three weeks in Bagneux, outside Paris. There he was tortured while his abductors telephoned his family, so they could hear his screams. Youssouf Fofana, the leader of the gang, was later sentenced to life imprisonment.

One of the most disturbing aspects of the case was that 28 people were involved in the kidnapping and many more living on the housing estate knew about it. “The murder of Ilan Halimi was the first murder of a Jew because he was a Jew,” says Roger Cukierman, president of the Representative Council of French Jewish Institutions (CRIF). “The prejudice and lack of humanity were impressive. It is unbelievable that in the 24 days he was held and tortured not one of the people involved even considered making an anonymous call to the police.”

Many blame the controversial comedian Dieudonne and his “quenelle”, supposedly a modified version of the Nazi salute, for fuelling hatred. Social media are awash with his followers, performing the quenelle in front of synagogues, Holocaust memorials, the school in Toulouse where three Jewish children and a teacher were murdered and even at the gates of Auschwitz.

Dieudonne denies that the gesture is anti-Semitic. The quenelle, he says, is a “gesture of liberation” from slavery.  Dieudonne is also the creator of the “ShoahNanas” (Holocaust Pineapples) song, which he sings, accompanied by a young man wearing a large yellow star over a pair of pyjamas.

Now a new ingredient has been tossed into the cauldron: the wars in Syria and Iraq. The French government estimates that 800 jihadists are fighting in Syria, accompanied by several hundred from Britain. Among their number was Mehdi Nemmouche, who is accused of the attack on the Brussels Jewish museum. French police found he had in his possession a Kalashnikov assault rifle and a pistol, which they believed were used in the attack.

Together with the weapons, police found a white sheet emblazoned with the name of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isis), the militia judged too extreme even for al-Qaida, which has captured large swathes of Iraq.

In May 2012 in Toulouse a gunman killed seven people, including a teacher and three children, at a Jewish school. “Jews in France or Belgium are being killed because they are Jews,” says Cukierman. “Jihadism has become the new Nazism. This makes people consider leaving France.”

The murders have not dampened anti-Jewish hatred. On the contrary, they seem to have inflamed it. The spike in anti-Semitism has seen emigration to Israel soar. In 2011 and 2012 just under 2,000 French Jews emigrated to Israel.

In 2013, the year after the Toulouse attack, 3,289 left. In the first quarter of this year 1,778 Jews emigrated. “This year I expect 5-6,000 Jews to leave,” says Cukierman. “If they move to Israel because of Zionism, it’s OK. But if it is because of fear, then that is not pleasant. The problem is that democracy is not well equipped to fight against terrorism. What we saw in Toulouse and Brussels is terrorism.”

Laurent LouisMember of the Belgian Parliament Laurent Louis speaks in front of a closed congress hall in Brussels May 4, 2014. Local authorities banned what they called “an anti-semitic congress” which was co-organised by Louis, local media reported. Francois Lenoir/Reuters

TERROR ATTACKS

Across Europe Jewish communities are investing in security infrastructure and boosting protection. After the Toulouse attacks, the Jewish Agency established a Fund for Emergency Assistance. So far it has distributed almost $4m to boost security at 116 Jewish institutions in more than 30 countries. In Britain the government pays £2.5m a year for security guards at Jewish schools.

There is a direct link between events in the Middle East, especially ­concerning Israel/Palestine and spikes in anti-Semitism, says CST spokesman Mark Gardener. Gaza has caused a new spike in attacks. “The situation is like a pressure cooker, awaiting any spark to set it off, with local Jewish communities the targets of racist attacks.”

So far, British Jews have not suffered a terrorist attack like Toulouse or ­Brussels, but not for want of jihadis trying. In 2011 Somali troops shot dead an al-Qaida leader in Africa when he tried to ram his car through a checkpoint. Documents found inside his car included detailed plans for attacks on Eton College, the Ritz and Dorchester hotels, and the Golders Green and Stamford Hill neighbourhoods of London, which have large Jewish populations.

The following year nine British jihadis were convicted of plotting terrorist acts including the potential targeting of two rabbis, and a husband-and-wife team from Oldham, north England, were convicted of plotting terrorist attacks on Manchester’s Jewish community.

Muslims are over-represented among the perpetrators of anti-Semitic incidents, says Gardener. “It is not as extreme as France, Belgium, Holland or Malmo, where the levels of anti-Semitism make life difficult for Jews, but it is a phenomenon. A large number of Muslims believe that 9/11 was a Jewish plot, that Jews run the media and that Jewish money controls politicians. Of course there are Muslim organisations that speak out against anti-Semitism and many Muslim leaders are fully aware of the damage anti-Semitism does to their own community.”

Yet the picture is not all bleak. In Berlin and Budapest Jewish life is flourishing. The epicentre of the Holocaust seems an unlikely centre for a Jewish renaissance. But the German capital is now home to one of the world’s fastest-growing Jewish communities, tens of thousands strong. There is a growing sense, particularly among younger Germans, that the city is incomplete without a Jewish presence, especially in the arts, culture and literature. The glory days of the pre-war years can never be recreated, but they can be remembered and used as inspiration for a new form of German-Jewish culture.

Berlin’s Jewish revival is boosted by influxes from Russia and a growing number of Israelis who have applied for German passports.

Hungary is home to the region’s largest indigenous Jewish community, usually estimated at between 80,000 and 100,000, although perhaps a fifth of that number are affiliated with the Jewish community. Still the city is home to a dozen working synagogues, a thriving community centre, kosher shops, bars and restaurants and each summer hosts the Jewish summer festival, which is supported by the government and the municipality. District VII, the traditional Jewish quarter, is now the hippest part of town, home to numerous bohemian “ruin-pubs”.

Communal life was moribund under Communism. Until recently, the ­Jewish establishment was perceived by many as insular and self-serving. Only now are a new generation of activists such as Adam Schönburger revitalising Jewish life, in part by focusing on cultural, social and ethical issues, rather than religion. Schönburger is one of the founders of Siraly, a Jewish cultural centre that will re-open later this year.

The result is a new confidence among many Hungarian Jews and a pride in their heritage. So much so that they are boycotting the government’s Holocaust commemoration events, accusing the government of whitewashing the country’s collaboration in the Holocaust – which the government strongly denies, pointing out that numerous officials, including the president, have admitted Hungary’s responsibility.

“We have to redefine what it means to be Jewish,” says Schönburger. “I don’t see many possibilities through solely religious continuity. We need to educate people about their heritage and have new reference points for them to feel connected. These can be cultural or through social activism, the idea of Tikkun Olam, ‘healing the world’.”

ENRICHING A KINGDOM

Few of the angry youths of the banlieues know that Muslims and Jews share a common history, of tolerance and co-existence.

Jewish life flourished under Islamic rule in Spain, an era known as the Golden Age, which produced some of the most important works of Jewish scholarship and a flowering of knowledge and science. Jews served as advisers to the Muslim rulers, as doctors, lawyers, teachers and engineers. Although there were sporadic outbreaks of violence, Jews living under Muslim rule in medieval times were far more prosperous, secure and integrated than those in Christian Europe.

When in 1492 the Jews were expelled from Spain, the Ottoman Sultan Bayezid II was so incredulous that he sent a fleet of boats to collect them. Such a prize, of doctors, lawyers, scientists and traders, could not be allowed to slip by.

“Do they call this Ferdinand a wise prince who impoverishes his kingdom and enriches mine?” he asked. The Jewish immigrants settled across the Ottoman empire, from Salonika to Baghdad.

Teaching about that common heritage, and the shared roots of Islam and Judaism could help defuse the hatred, argues Roger Cukierman. “We have to teach children, from the age of five or six to respect their neighbours, whatever their colour, religion or origin. This is not done today. We have to educate parents and the media, not to promote hatred.”

Moderate Muslim and Jewish leaders are working together against campaigns to ban circumcision and ritual ­slaughter, says Ghaffar Hussain, of the Quilliam Foundation. “We only hear about what the extremists are doing. But we need to challenge extremist narratives and work for a liberal, secular democratic space, where people from a wide variety of backgrounds can thrive and co-exist.”

The future of European Jewry is more than a question for Jews themselves, argues Natan Sharansky. “I would like to see strong Jewish communities in Europe, but they are more and more hesitant about what their future is. Europe’s leaders are working hard to convince that Europe is multicultural and post-nationalist. But if the oldest minority in Europe feels uncomfortable and is disappearing, that raises questions of education and citizenship. That is the challenge for Europe’s leaders.”

By / July 29, 2014 (Newsweek)

A photo of a desperate young Palestinian boy, badly wounded and screaming for his father as he clutches at the shirt of a paramedic in a hospital, has captured the tragic and bloody tension of the Gazan conflict.

article-2699772-1FD636ED00000578-741_964x652

Shirtless and with cuts to his face, torso, arms and legs, the child clings to the hospital worker who is attempting to lay him flat on a girdle.

The Electronic Intifada, a pro-Palestinian publication, reports the photo, taken at al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City last Thursday, was captioned with the boy’s desperate cry: ‘I want my father, bring me my father’, according to Fairfax.

article-2698878-1FD0332C00000578-529_964x675

The Palestinian paper claims the young boy was one of four siblings brought to the hospital wounded, two of them just three years old.

article-2698878-1FD0BD5900000578-350_964x630

 

It comes as grinning Israeli tank commanders were pictured flashing the victory signs as they blast their way through Gaza in the bloodiest day of the offensive so far – as one resident of the troubled region said: ‘The gate of hell has opened.’

article-2698878-1FD0BD6500000578-20_964x606

At least 65 people have been killed since this yesterday’s dawn strike on Gaza City’s Shijaiyah neighbourhood – including the son, daughter-in-law and two small grandchildren of a senior Hamas leader.

article-2698878-1FD1CAED00000578-282_964x615

Hamas says it has captured an Israeli soldier – a scenario that has proven to be fraught with difficulties for the country in the past – but Israel’s U.N. Ambassador has denied the claims.

article-2698878-1FD0901D00000578-772_964x653

The neighbourhood has come under heavy tank fire as Israel widened its ground offensive against Hamas, causing hundreds of residents to flee.

article-2698878-1FD02FEC00000578-309_964x616 article-2698878-1FD199E900000578-366_964x683

The dead and wounded – including dozens of women and children – have reportedly been left in streets, with ambulances unable to approach.

article-2698878-1FD1CB2200000578-964_964x633

Source: (July 21, 2014)

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2699772/This-desperate-little-boy-face-tragedy-Palestinian-toddler-clutches-shirt-hospital-worker-screaming-I-want-father-bring-father.html?ito=social-facebook

RBTH presents a selection of views from leading Russian media on the latest developments surrounding the July 17 Boeing 777 catastrophe in Ukraine’s Donetsk Region, in which Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 was apparently shot down near the town of Shakhtarsk in an area controlled by pro-autonomy militias.

RIAN_02465155.HR_468

The Kommersant daily points out that the Malaysia Airlines disaster has not stopped the fighting between government troops and pro-autonomy militias in the east of Ukraine: A ceasefire is in place only in a small area at and in the vicinity of the crash site. A complete ceasefire covering the whole of the east of the country could not be agreed, the paper writes. Experts polled by Kommersant say that the military operation by Ukrainian troops is “not proceeding as successfully as commanders’ reports would indicate.” The main difficulties, according to the paper, have arisen along the southern section of the front, “where Kiev hopes to achieve the final victory.”

190990280

As a result of actions by the pro-autonomy militias, the Ukrainian force that tried to cut the self-proclaimed republics off from the border with Russia has itself been surrounded, Kommersant continues. The surrounded troops could be saved by a ceasefire along all sections of the front, which the militia commanders also realize. “That is probably why they have so far rejected all appeals for a lasting and comprehensive ceasefire voiced by the Ukrainian side and international mediators,” the paper concludes. Nezavisimaya Gazeta “The world is on the brink of the largest political crisis of recent decades,” reads an editorial in the centrist Nezavisimaya Gazeta daily. The paper describes the downing of the Malaysia Airlines passenger jet as “a prelude to the start of a new cold war.”

RTR3Z3YK_468

The paper points out that the facts available so far indicate that there are Buk surface-to-air missile systems in the conflict zone on both sides of the Ukrainian-Russian border. However, these systems are capable of hitting air targets only within a range of 50 km. “Since the downed Boeing fell on Ukrainian territory 50 km from the Ukrainian-Russian border, one can rule out that it was hit from Russian territory,” the paper says. It goes on to add that Kiev does not deny that Ukrainian Buk systems have been deployed on the Ukrainian-Russian border: The Ukrainian air defense systems were probably intended to counter possible aerial reconnaissance from the Russian side. Therefore the Malaysian Boeing may have been mistaken for a Russian Air Force aircraft, writes Nezavisimaya Gazeta. In addition, the paper continues, it is unlikely that pro-autonomy militants could have operated a Buk system as it requires specialist training and experience.

190990329

Most of the experts polled by NG conclude that the airliner was downed by mistake. “It is likely that this attack was not agreed with the senior leadership, who are now being caused immense stress by the possibility that the truth may be established. Support for those who murder civilians leaves no political chances for a reputation on an international scale,” the paper concludes. Expert  The Expert magazine gives a detailed account of the search operation at the crash site. It also points out that the UN Security Council is expected to vote in the near future on a draft resolution condemning the destruction of the Boeing 777.

190991471

The draft resolution, Expert continues, does not only call for “a comprehensive, thorough and independent international investigation in compliance with civil aviation standards” but also lists requirements for the pro-autonomy militias, urging them “to refrain from any actions that could jeopardize the crash site”. For their part, the magazine adds, the militiamen of the Donetsk People’s Republic have for three days now been guarding the crash scene and ensuring the safety of the OSCE observers working at the site. Vzglyad Experts polled by the Vzglyad newspaper claim that “senior figures in Ukraine and the West are using pseudo-facts surrounding the Malaysian Boeing crash.” The investigation into the downing of the Malaysian airliner is not yet over, the paper continues, but the alleged intercepted phone calls between pro-autonomy militiamen that have been posted on the internet have given the leadership of Ukraine and other countries cause to blame what happened on the militias and Russia.

AP19901047261_468

Nezavisimaya Gazeta writes that “the White House, demanding an inquiry into the tragedy, is criticizing Moscow, which, in its view, has continuously aggravated the conflict in southeast Ukraine, supported the separatists, training and arming them.” According to the newspaper, the general opinion in the U.S. is that the missile was fired either by the militias or by Russian soldiers. The newspaper notes that America is not blaming Kiev, and that Ukraine has announced that in the entire conflict it has not fired any missiles capable of hitting a plane at a 33,000-foot altitude.

Gazeta.ru says that the most likely explanation for the airplane crash in eastern Ukraine was the BUK anti-aircraft missile, which is the most powerful means of anti-aircraft defense, one that Ukraine inherited from the USSR and that has recently come into the militia’s possession. The newspaper analyzes the weapon’s technical characteristics in depth: The BUK anti-aircraft missile is one of Russian arms exporter Rosoboronexport’s most popular products. Gazeta.ru says that the missiles are sold in all CIS countries that used them in Soviet times.

190989654

 

Today the missiles are also used in countries such as Syria and Afghanistan. According to the publication, the missile system’s technical specifics allow it to hit a target at an altitude of up to 82,000 feet. Moreover, the system is mobile: It can be packed up in five minutes. “Qualified specialists are required to take aim with this system. In their hands the BUK can hit a target even at a distance of 40 kilometers [130,000 feet],” says Gazeta.ru. While the self-proclaimed People’s Republic of Donetsk has been saying that it lacks the weapons needed to shoot down a plane at such a high altitude, officials from the neighboring “People’s Republic” of Lugansk proposed another theory: the Malaysian Boeing 777 was shot down by the Ukrainian SU-25 jet, which was later shot down by the militias. However, the maximum altitude of the SU-25 is 16,500 feet, which makes this an unlikely version of events, says Gazeta.ru. Vzglyad Vzglyad newspaper emphasizes that the “airplane fell precisely in the area of the most intense fighting between the Donetsk militias and the Ukrainian Army.

The Ukrainian government blames the militias for the anti-aircraft tragedy. However, arguments blaming the Ukrainian soldiers are more convincing, says the publication. Vzglyad notes that the Ukrainian press has already blamed the Donbass militias for the crash, saying that recently they have shot down two Ukrainian Air Force transportation planes. Moreover, the newspaper says that the BUK is a semiautomatic system, and human participation is minimal. “Therefore the militias could have easily mastered the technology, since they have people who worked with this system while serving in the Soviet and then the Ukrainian army,” Vzglyad suggests.

 

 

190991486

Malaysia Airlines plane crashes in Donetsk Region If it is so, then it is no longer the militias fighting the Ukrainian Air Force with anti-aircraft missiles that are the cause of the event, but rather “the western governments, who are encouraging Kiev to ‘establish order’ in eastern Ukraine, the newspaper believes. Military expert and editor-in-chief of National Defense magazine Igor Korotchenko suggests that “due to the personnel’s low qualification and miscalculations, the operator either accidentally or unintentionally launched the missile that shot down the Boeing.” Furthermore, Vzglyad’s expert says that earlier there was information of the militias having captured several BUK anti-aircraft missile launchers, yet officially the Ukrainian government announced that they were faulty and therefore had been intentionally removed from combat by the Ukrainian soldiers.

Source: Russia Beyond the Headlines – http://rbth.com/international/2014/07/18/press_digest_reaction_to_the_malaysia_airlines_disaster_in_ukra_38325.html)

 

 Iran struck a historic deal Sunday with the United States and five other world powers, agreeing to a temporary freeze of its nuclear program in the most significant agreement between Washington and Tehran in more than three decades of estrangement.

131123225830-iran-agreement-01-horizontal-gallery

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani endorsed the agreement, which commits Iran to curb its nuclear activities for six months in exchange for limited and gradual sanctions relief, including access to $4.2 billion from oil sales. The six-month period will give diplomats time to negotiate a more sweeping agreement.

It builds on the momentum of the public dialogue opened during September’s annual U.N. gathering, which included a 15-minute phone conversation between President Barack Obama and moderate-leaning Rouhani, who was elected in June.

The package includes freezing Iran’s ability to enrich uranium at a maximum 5 percent level, which is well below the threshold for weapons-grade material and is aimed at easing Western concerns that Tehran could one day seek nuclear arms.

Obama hailed the pact’s provisions, which include curbs on Iran’s enrichment and other projects that could be used to make nuclear arms, as key to preventing Iran from becoming a nuclear threat.

131123234342-05-iran-agreement-horizontal-gallery

“Simply put, they cut off Iran’s most likely paths to a bomb,” he told reporters in Washington.

For Iran, keeping the enrichment program active was a critical goal. Iran’s leaders view the country’s ability to make nuclear fuel as a source of national pride and an essential part of its insistence at nuclear self-sufficiency.

Giving up too much on the enrichment program would have likely brought a storm of protest by Iranian hard-liners, who were already uneasy over the marathon nuclear talks and Rouhani’s outreach to Washington.

In a nationally broadcast speech, Rouhani said the accord recognizes Iran’s “nuclear rights” even if that precise language was kept from the final document because of Western resistance.

131123233322-iran-agreement-04-horizontal-gallery

“No matter what interpretations are given, Iran’s right to enrichment has been recognized,” said Rouhani, who later posed with family members of nuclear scientists killed in slayings in recent years that Iran has blamed on Israel and allies.

Saying “trust is a two-way street,” Rouhani insisted that talks on a comprehensive agreement should start immediately.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who led his country’s delegation, called on both sides to see the agreement as an “opportunity to end an unnecessary crisis and open new horizons.”

But initial reaction in Israel was strongly negative. Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, called the deal, a “historic mistake.”

Speaking to his Cabinet, Netanyahu said Sunday that Israel is not bound by the deal and reserves the right to defend itself. That is a reference to possible military action against Iran.

Netanyahu has said the international community is giving up too much to Iran, which it believes will retain the ability to produce a nuclear weapon and threaten Israel.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who joined the final negotiations along with the foreign ministers of Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany, said the pact will make U.S. allies in the Middle East, including Israel, safer reducing the threat of war.

“Agreement in Geneva,” he tweeted. “First step makes world safer. More work now.”

The deal marks a milestone between the two countries, which broke diplomatic ties 34 years ago when Iran’s Islamic revolution climaxed in the storming of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran. Since then, relations between the two countries had been frigid to hostile.

Although the deal lowered tensions between the two countries, friction points remain — notably Iran’s support of the Syrian regime of Bashar Assad. The United States also has said Iran supports terrorism throughout the region and commits widespread human rights violations.

The Geneva negotiations followed secret face-to-face talks between the U.S. and Iran over the past year, The Associated Press has learned. The discussions, held in the Persian Gulf nation of Oman and elsewhere, were kept hidden even from America’s closest allies, including its negotiating partners and Israel, until two months ago.

A White House statement said the deal limits Iran’s existing stockpiles of enriched uranium, which can be turned into the fissile core of nuclear arms.

The statement also said the accord curbs the number and capabilities of the centrifuges used to enrich and limits Iran ability to “produce weapons-grade plutonium” from a reactor in the advanced stages of construction.

The statement also said Iran’s nuclear program will be subject to “increased transparency and intrusive monitoring.”

“Taken together, these first step measures will help prevent Iran from using the cover of negotiations to continue advancing its nuclear program as we seek to negotiate a long-term, comprehensive solution that addresses all of the international community’s concerns,” said the statement.

Since it was revealed in 2003, Iran’s enrichment program has grown from a few dozen enriching centrifuges to more than 18,000 installed and more than 10,000 operating. The machines have produced tons of low-enriched uranium, which can be turned into weapons grade material.

Iran also has stockpiled almost 200 kilograms (440 pounds) of higher-enriched uranium in a form that can be converted more quickly to fissile warhead material than the low-enriched uranium. Its supply is nearly enough for one bomb.

In return for Iran’s nuclear curbs, the White House statement promised “limited, temporary, targeted, and reversible (sanctions) relief” to Iran, noting that “the key oil, banking, and financial sanctions architecture, remains in place.” And it said any limited sanctions relief will be revoked and new penalties enacted if Iran fails to meet its commitments.

Kerry said the relief offered would give Iran access to $4.2 billion from oil sales. Approximately $1.5 billion more would come from imports of gold and other precious metals, petrochemical exports and Iran’s auto sector, as well as easier access to “humanitarian transactions.”

“The core sanctions architecture … remains firmly in place through these six months, including with respect to oil and financial services,” Kerry said. He said those sanctions will result in more than $25 billion in lost oil revenues over six months.

Those conditions are being highlighted by the U.S. administration in its efforts to demonstrate that Iran is still in pain. The administration has urged Congress to hold off on any new sanctions and give the accord a chance to prove its worth.

But one influential member of Congress was quick to criticize the deal.

Rep. Ed Royce, the Republican chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, expressed “serious concerns,” saying the United States was “relieving Iran of the sanctions pressure built up over years,” while allowing Tehran to “keep the key elements of its nuclear weapons-making capacity.”

131123231730-03-iran-agreement-horizontal-gallery

Obama hailed the deal as putting “substantial limitations” on a nuclear program that the United States and its allies fear could be turned to nuclear weapons use.

“While today’s announcement is just a first step, it achieves a great deal,” Obama said. “For the first time in nearly a decade, we have halted the progress of the Iranian nuclear program, and key parts of the program will be rolled back.”

Iran’s currency, the rial, got a small boost after news of the deal, strengthening to about 29,000 rials against the U.S. dollar, compared with about 29,950 in recent days.

 

By  John Heilprin and Jamey Keaten. Geneva/ AP, Nov.24, 2013

Associated Press writers George Jahn and Deb Riechmann in Geneva, Julie Pace in Washington, Robert H. Reid in Berlin and Nasser Karimi in Tehran, Iran, contributed to this report. 

Russian officials, who have strenuously resisted U.S.-led efforts to push Syrian President Bashar Assad from power, are beginning to question whether the beleaguered leader can hang on, but say they have little influence over him as rebels take the fight to his country’s biggest cities.

Even though Russia has been a close Syrian ally for decades, officials and analysts acknowledge that they have limited insight to Assad’s true situation and mind-set. Although some fear that Russia missed a chance to help find a solution to the conflict, now in its 17th month, others say that it never had that kind of clout.

Still, Moscow appears to have at least one more card to play: an offer of asylum if Assad chooses to ask for it.

The Kremlin quickly denied such a suggestion recently by its ambassador to France. But the comment was widely regarded as a trial balloon, and a Foreign Ministry official who spoke on condition of anonymity indicated that Russia could offer asylum if Assad requested it.

“In daily consultations, Assad keeps telling us he is still very much in control,” the official said. “We are trying to ascertain for ourselves whether the point of no return has been reached, and frankly we are not so sure either way anymore.”

The first sign that Russia is abandoning Assad would be a decision to evacuate its citizens, the official said, and that could soon be followed by the Syrian leader’s departure.

On Saturday, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov denied that any asylum plans were being made, telling journalists, “We are not even thinking about it.”

Russia’s objections to the campaign to oust Assad have had little to do with loyalty to a longtime ally or unease over a loss of influence in the Middle East, analysts and officials said. Instead, the Kremlin fears what it sees as a broader pattern of the West using its political and military power to squeeze out leaders friendly to Moscow.

Russian President Vladimir Putin regards his country’s decision last year not to veto a U.N. Security Council resolution authorizing the use of force against Libya’sMoammar Kadafi as a serious mistake, analysts say. An air campaign led by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization was crucial for the rebels who captured and executed the longtime Libyan leader, and analysts say Russia got nothing for its cooperation.

“What Russia is really firmly against is the Libyan precedent becoming a norm, when everyone votes for some sanctions and then the most powerful military alliance steps into in a local conflict supporting one side in it and helping it win,” said Fyodor Lukyanov, editor of the journal Russia in Global Affairs.

“The rebels should have been grateful to Russia, but the first thing they said after their victory and Kadafi’s murder was that Russian and Chinese companies are no longer welcome in Libya,” he said.

Lilia Shevtsova, a senior researcher with Moscow Carnegie Center, said Russia’s preoccupation with geopolitical concerns carried over to the Syrian conflict.

“Putin is very much inclined to see status quo preserved by any means in Russia and in any regime which he considers friendly,” she said.

She said that she doubts the Kremlin has any real influence left over the situation in Syria, and that by continuing to publicly back Assad, Russia has helped the U.S. and its allies obscure the fact that they have no workable plan for Syria. In contrast to Libya, U.S. and other Western officials have consistently ruled out military intervention.

Russia maintains a naval base in Syria, one of its few military bases aboard, and several thousand Russian diplomats and technical specialists working with Syrian companies are based there, said Gennady Gudkov, deputy head of the security committee of the State Duma, the lower house of Russia’s parliament.

“I am afraid we must have missed our chance to talk Assad into some constitutional reform, even including him ceding power,” Gudkov said. “The Kremlin’s persistence in defending his regime now comes from the fact that there is no good way out of the situation and no good decision anymore.”

Leonid Kalashnikov, deputy head of the Duma’s foreign affairs committee, said that, aside from some weapons sales, Russia has not had close political or economic ties to Syria for years, a reflection of Moscow’s diminished role in the region.

“That is why it would be wrong to consider Syria the last Russian stronghold in the Middle East; in fact, we no longer have any,” he said.

“Russia just wants to make it a hard and fast rule that all such conflict issues should be resolved only through efforts of the existing international institutions,” he said.

 

By Sergei L. Loiko, Los Angeles Times, July 28, 2012

 

**********************************************************************************************************************************************************

SOME COMMENTS:

Not only Russia wants to prevent history from repeating itself in Syria, the Kremlin is not in for change as well. Yes, China and Russia did abstain from voting in favour of the UN Resolution 1973 in March 2011, which allowed an Western intervention in Libya, leading ultimately to the demise of Muammar Gaddafi’s regime.

Putin’s relationship with Assad couldn’t have been chummy. Assad went to visit Moscow in 2005, fiver years after he became president. So it’s quite unlikey that he wants to go Russia in exile. 

In a New York Times article about the Russian community in Syria, an outsider has a good insight into the lives of many, many Russian women, married to some senior Syrian officials, who went to the former Soviet Union decades ago to get an education. These men seem to be great Russophiles and that has impressed Russia. So apart from the base in the port of Tartus on the Syrian coast, the diaspora and the arms deals, it’s emotion that compels the Kremlin to  stands by Assad. Besides, Moscow fears chaos and the emergence of Islamists in the new  Syria, which would spread to its Southern border in North Caucasus.

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Russia is a hole. No one wants to live. If the amount of Russian order mail brides are anything to go by, not even Russians want to live there. People in these countries are not stupid. They see Russia and China voting against the will of the people to prop dictators up. They wont forget. If I was Syrian or Libiyan I would be very very anti-Russian and China. 

The only reason Russia & China block these votes is because they have tcorrupt governments. Those corrupt governments use failed states like Syria as a buffer zone. People of Syria. The rest of the world stands in solidarity with you. We wish we could do more to help you but the cancerous Russia and China alliance is stopping us. They might be able to stop a couple of us, but they cant stop us all.

Power to the people. End corrupt governments now!

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad says Washington plays a role in the turmoil in Syria by supporting the armed gangs (terrorists) to destabilize the country.

Assad told the German ARD television channel on Sunday that the United States is “part of the conflict,” and that “they offer the umbrella and political support to those terrorists to… destabilize Syria.”

The latest remarks by the Syrian president come at a time when the anti-Syria Western regimes have been calling for Assad to step down.

Russia and China remain opposed to the Western drive to oust the Syrian president.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on June 30 that Assad “will still have to go.”

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

The New York Times published a report on June 21, quoting some US and Arab intelligence officials as saying that a group of “CIA officers are operating secretly in southern Turkey” and that the agents are helping the anti-Syria governments decide which terrorists inside the Arab country will “receive arms to fight the Syrian government.”

President Assad said on June 3 that Syria is “facing a war from abroad,” and that attempts are being made to “weaken Syria, [and] breach its sovereignty.”

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Former Lebanese President Amine Pierre Gemayel says instability in Syria serves the interests of Israel, Press TVreports.

In an exclusive interview with Press TV on Thursday, Gemayel said that some Arab states in the Persian Gulf are supporting armed gangs(TERRORISTS) in Syria to undermine the Syrian-Iranian alliance and serve Israel’s interests.

“We all know about the Syrian-Iranian alliance and we all know that there are some Arab countries in the Persian Gulf, which are at odds with Iran and maybe these factors encourage these Arab countries” to support the anti-government armed gangs in Syria, he noted.

“Israel has an interest in the deteriorating situation in Syria and in exhausting Syria. The more exhaustion in Syria, the more it serves Israel’s interests. The more destruction in Syria, the more Syria’s capabilities in confronting Israel are exhausted. This is…a victory for Israel…without suffering any losses,” the former president added.

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Russia has said it is not propping up Assad and would accept his exit from power in a political transition decided by the Syrian people, but that his exit must be a precondition and he must not be pushed out by external forces.

Meanwhile, the Syrian army launched a threatened counter-offensive against rebel fighters in Aleppo on Saturday, pouring troops into the southwest of the commercial hub, a human rights group said.

The reinforcements, which have been massing over the past two days, “have moved on the Salaheddin district, where the largest number of rebel fighters are based,” the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

Sergey Brin, a Google founder, takes issue with people who say Google has failed to gain a foothold in social networking. Google has had successes, he often says, especially with Orkut, the dominant service in Brazil and India.

Mr. Brin may soon have to revise his answer.

Facebook, the social network service that started in a Harvard dorm room just six years ago, is growing at a dizzying rate around the globe, surging to nearly 500 million users, from 200 million users just 15 months ago.


It is pulling even with Orkut in India, where only a year ago, Orkut was more than twice as large as Facebook. In the last year, Facebook has grown eightfold, to eight million users, in Brazil, where Orkut has 28 million.


In country after country, Facebook is cementing itself as the leader and often displacing other social networks, much as it outflanked MySpace in the United States. In Britain, for example, Facebook made the formerly popular Bebo all but irrelevant, forcing AOL to sell the site at a huge loss two years after it bought it for $850 million. In Germany, Facebook surpassed StudiVZ, which until February was the dominant social network there.

With his typical self-confidence, Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s 26-year-old chief executive, recently said it was “almost guaranteed” that the company would reach a billion users.


Though he did not say when it would reach that mark, the prediction was not greeted with the skepticism that had met his previous boasts of fast growth.
“They have been more innovative than any other social network, and they are going to continue to grow,” said Jeremiah Owyang, an analyst with the Altimeter Group. “Facebook wants to be ubiquitous, and they are being successful for now.”


The rapid ascent of Facebook has no company more worried than Google, which sees the social networking giant as a threat on multiple fronts. Much of the activity on Facebook is invisible to Google’s search engine, which makes it less useful over time. What’s more, the billions of links posted by users on Facebook have turned the social network into an important driver of users to sites across the Web. That has been Google’s role.


Google has tried time and again to break into social networking not only with Orkut, but also with user profiles, with an industrywide initiative called OpenSocial, and, most recently, with Buzz, a social network that mixes elements of Facebook and Twitter with Gmail. But none of those initiatives have made a dent in Facebook.


Google is said to be trying again with a secret project for a service called Google Me, according to several reports. Google declined to comment for this article.
Google makes its money from advertising, and even here, Facebook poses a challenge.


“There is nothing more threatening to Google than a company that has 500 million subscribers and knows a lot about them and places targeted advertisements in front of them,” said Todd Dagres, a partner at Spark Capital, a venture firm that has invested in Twitter and other social networking companies. “For every second that people are on Facebook and for every ad that Facebook puts in front of their face, it is one less second they are on Google and one less ad that Google puts in front of their face.”


With nearly two-thirds of all Internet users in the United States signed up on Facebook, the company has focused on international expansion.
Just over two years ago, Facebook was available only in English. Still, nearly half of its users were outside the United States, and its presence was particularly strong in Britain, Australia and other English-speaking countries.


The task of expanding the site overseas fell on Javier Olivan, a 33-year-old Spaniard who joined Facebook three years ago, when the site had 30 million users. Mr. Olivan led an innovative effort by Facebook to have its users translate the site into more than 80 languages. Other Web sites and technology companies, notably Mozilla, the maker of Firefox, had used volunteers to translate their sites or programs.


But with 300,000 words on Facebook’s site — not counting material posted by users — the task was immense. Facebook not only encouraged users to translate parts of the site, but also let other users fine-tune those translations or pick among multiple translations. Nearly 300,000 users participated.

“Nobody had done it at the scale that we were doing it,” Mr. Olivan said.
The effort paid off. Now about 70 percent of Facebook’s users are outside the United States. And while the number of users in the United States doubled in the last year, to 123 million, according to comScore, the number more than tripled in Mexico, to 11 million, and it more than quadrupled in Germany, to 19 million.


With every new translation, Facebook pushed into a new country or region, and its spread often mirrored the ties between nations or the movement of people across borders. After becoming popular in Italy, for example, Facebook spread to the Italian-speaking portions of Switzerland. But in German-speaking areas of Switzerland, adoption of Facebook lagged. When Facebook began to gain momentum in Brazil, the activity was most intense in southern parts of the country that border on neighboring Argentina, where Facebook was already popular.
“It’s a mapping of the real world,” Mr. Olivan said.


Facebook is not popular everywhere. The Web site is largely blocked in China. And with fewer than a million users each in Japan, South Korea and Russia, it lags far behind home-grown social networks in those major markets.


Mr. Olivan, who leads a team of just 12 people, hopes to change that. Facebook recently sent some of its best engineers to a new office in Tokyo, where they are working to fine-tune searches so they work with all three Japanese scripts. In South Korea, as well as in Japan, where users post to their social networks on mobile phones more than on PCs, the company is working with network operators to ensure distribution of its service.


Industry insiders say that, most of all, Facebook is benefiting from a cycle where success breeds more success. In particular, its growing revenue, estimated at $1 billion annually, allows the company to invest in improving its product and keep competitors at bay.


“I think that Facebook is winning for two reasons,” said Bing Gordon, a partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and a board member of Zynga, the maker of popular Facebook games like FarmVille and Mafia Wars. Mr. Gordon said that Facebook had hired some of the best engineers in Silicon Valley, and he said that the company’s strategy to create a platform for other software developers had played a critical role.
“They have opened up a platform, and they have the best apps on that platform,” Mr. Gordon said.


With Facebook’s social networking lead growing, it is not clear whether Google, or any other company, will succeed in derailing its march forward.
Says Danny Sullivan, the editor of Search Engine Land, an industry blog, “Google can’t even get to the first base of social networks, which is people interacting with each other, much less to second or third base, which is people interacting with each other through games and applications.”


By MIGUEL HELFT (NYT. July 7, 2010)

A senior HSBC banker found hanged in a five-star London hotel is believed to have spent tens of thousands of pounds on cocaine and women in the months leading up to his death.

Christen Schnor, who was independently wealthy, had regularly gone missing from his six-figure post as he embarked on a personal journey of destruction.

article-1104795-02dd10bd000005dc-375_468x412

Sources say Mr Schnor, who was a close friend of the Danish royal family, had been squandering large chunks of his family’s fortune.

High-flying career: Smiling HSBC executive Christen Schnor and a friend in a picture posed on Facebook
A hotel worker found Danish-born Mr Schnor, 49, in his £500-a-night suite at the Jumeriah Carlton Tower Hotel in Knightsbridge a fortnight ago. A suicide note written in Danish was by his side.

The millionaire father of four, who drove an Aston Martin to work, is said to have started using expensive prostitutes and cocaine after moving to London in June 2007 to take up his post.

His wife Marianne allegedly discovered that he had been siphoning their bank accounts and repeatedly tried to track down Mr Schnor at his office in Canary Wharf, but he was rarely there.

Sources say the bank thought he was off with Legionnaire’s Disease. Mr Schnor was HSBC’s head of insurance for the UK, Turkey, the Middle East and Malta – an arm of the business worth an estimated £750million in profit.

He sat on the executive committee of HSBC Bank plc, which runs the UK and European side of the global bank.

A source at HSBC said: ‘Christen was a big player at the bank. He was one of the most senior executives in Europe for HSBC and it was quite a coup to have brought him over from the Winterthur Group, where he had been an executive board member.

article-1104795-02dd21cf000005dc-503_468x286


HSBC banker found hanged by belt at 5-star London hotel after ‘committing suicide’

‘Senior management became concerned by his erratic behaviour and appearance but he claimed he was ill with Legionnaire’s Disease. This now seems doubtful. Instead, he appears to have been spending a small fortune booking prostitutes through an
escort agency and buying drugs.’

The source added: ‘He had lost almost two stone in weight and when he did turn up at work he looked a shell of the man who had first arrived at the bank. His poor wife Marianne made many attempts to find him.

‘She had discovered he had been draining their bank account and spending the money on Russian prostitutes and cocaine. The amount of money he had withdrawn had even made it difficult for her to pay the bills by the end.’

Mr Schnor’s wife and children were believed to be back home in Copenhagen at the time of his death on December 17 last year.

Marianne had spent time living with her husband and two of their children at a £390-a-day rented four-bedroom flat in Wellesley House, Lower Sloane Street, Chelsea.

But Mr Schnor told bank bosses that he had to move out of his flat due to ‘refurbishment’ work. HSBC helped relocate him to the Jumeriah Carlton Hotel, which he paid for himself. It now appears there was no work being carried out on his flat and he had just left of his own accord.

Luxury lifestyle: The Schnors owned this villa in France and were friends of Danish royalty
The bank source said: ‘What happened came as a complete shock to management. Some were aware that he was undergoing personal problems but nothing like what was happening in reality.

‘They had tried to support him as much as they could, with the bank later helping to book him the hotel where he was staying but which he paid for himself, and put his absence at work down to him meeting business contacts as he built up their insurance arm.’

Mr Schnor also told bank bosses he had been burgled just weeks before he died. But he was unable to detail what was taken and the Metropolitan Police have no record of any break-in. They are not treating his death as suspicious.

An inquest is due to take place into his apparent suicide and his funeral is expected to be held this week.

The Schnors, who also owned a seven-bedroom villa in Cannes, France, which they let for up to £10,000 a week, were close friends of the Danish royal family, especially Crown Prince Frederik, who is heir to the Danish throne.

The banker had also been one of the elite who dined with Denmark’s Queen Margrethe, 68.

Mr Schnor spent five years in the Danish army after graduating and belonged to the country’s military reserve, recently attaining the highest position of Lieutenant Colonel.

A spokesman for HSBC refused to comment about Mr Schnor’s activities, but said: ‘The bank’s thoughts are with Christen’s friends and family following their tragic loss.’

By James Millbank, 4th January 2009

One thing you can say about the copy of Nicolaus Copernicus’s book “De Revolutionibus Orbium Coelestium” (“On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres”), on sale next week at Christie’s auction house, is that it looks and feels old.

Its cover is dented and stained. The pages are warped. You could easily imagine that this book had sat out half a dozen revolutions hidden in various dank basements in Europe.

In fact this book, published in 1543, was the revolution. It was here that the Polish astronomer laid out his theory that the Earth and other planets go around the Sun, contravening a millennium of church dogma that the Earth was the center of the universe and launching a frenzy of free thought and scientific inquiry.

The party, known as the Enlightenment, is still going strong. It was a thrill to hold Copernicus in my hands on a recent visit to the back rooms of Christie’s and flip through its hallowed pages as if it were my personal invitation to the Enlightenment. No serious library should be without one. Just in case you are missing your own copy, you can pick up this one for about the price of a Manhattan apartment next Tuesday, according to the Christie’s catalog, which estimates its value at $900,000 to $1.2 million.

The Copernicus is a cornerstone in the collection of a retired physician and amateur astronomer, Richard Green of Long Island, that constitutes pretty much a history of science and Western thought. Among the others in Dr. Green’s library are works by Galileo, who was tried for heresy in 1633 and sentenced to house arrest for his admiration of Copernicus and for portraying the pope as a fool, as well as by Darwin, Descartes, Newton, Freud, Kepler, Tycho Brahe, Malthus and even Karl Marx.

One lot includes Albert Einstein’s collection of reprints of his scientific papers, including his first one on relativity. Another is a staggeringly beautiful star atlas, Harmonia Macrocosmica, by the 17th-century Dutch-German cartographer Andreas Cellarius, with double-truck hand-colored plates.

Pawing through these jaw droppers, I found my attention being drawn again and again to a small white book, barely more than a pamphlet, a time machine that took me back to a more recent revolution. It was the directory for world’s first commercial phone system, Volume 1, No. 1, published in New Haven by the Connecticut District Telephone Company in November 1878, future issues to be published “from time to time, as the nature of the service requires.”

Two things struck me. As an aging veteran of the current rewiring of the human condition, I wondered whether there might be lessons from that first great rewiring of our collective nervous system.

Another was a shock of recognition — that people were already talking on the phone a year before Einstein was born. In fact, just two years later Einstein’s father went into the nascent business himself. Einstein grew up among the rudiments of phones and other electrical devices like magnets and coils, from which he drew part of the inspiration for relativity. It would not be until 1897, after people had already made fortunes exploiting electricity, that the English scientist J. J. Thomson discovered what it actually was: the flow of tiny negatively charged corpuscles of matter called electrons.

The New Haven switchboard opened in January 1878, only two years after Alexander Graham Bell, in nearby Boston, spoke the immortal words “Mr. Watson, come here. I want you.” It was the first commercial system that allowed many customers to connect with one another, for $22 a year, payable in advance.

The first directory consisted of a single sheet listing the names of 50 subscribers, according to lore. By November, the network had grown to 391 subscribers, identified by name and address — phone numbers did not yet exist. And the phone book, although skimpy, had already taken the form in which it would become the fat doorstop of today, with advertisements and listings of businesses in the back — 22 physicians and 22 carriage manufacturers, among others.

Customers were limited to three minutes a call and no more than two calls an hour without permission from the central office.
Besides rules, the embryonic phone book also featured pages of tips on placing calls — pick up the receiver and tell the operator whom you want — and how to talk on this gadget. Having a real conversation, for example, required rapidly transferring the telephone between mouth and ear.

“When you are not speaking, you should be listening,” it says at one point.
You should begin by saying, “Hulloa,” and when done talking, the book says, you should say, “That is all.”

The other person should respond, “O.K.”
Because anybody could be on the line at any time, customers should not pick up the telephone unless they want to make a call, and they should be careful about what others might hear.

“Any person using profane or otherwise improper language should be reported at this office immediately,” the company said.
If only they could hear us now. On second thought, maybe it’s better they can’t. Today we are all on a party line, and your most virulent thoughts are just a forward button away from being broadcast to the universe. Would it have killed the founders of the Internet to give us a little warning here?
Near the back of the book is an essay on another promising new wonder that “has attracted renewed attention both in this country and in Europe.”

Many of the streets and shops of Paris, it is reported, are now illuminated by electric lights, placed on posts. “People seated before the cafes read their papers by the aid of lights on the opposite side of the way, and yet the most delicate complexions and softest tints in fabrics do not suffer in the white glare of the lamps. Every stone in the road is plainly visible, and the horses move swiftly along as if confident of their footing,” the book says.
It makes you wonder what could come next. Oh yes, those horses. No revolution is ever done.
That is all.

 

* By DENNIS OVERBYE June 10, 2008

RIBNOVO, Bulgaria (Reuters) – Fikrie Sabrieva, 17, will marry with her eyes closed and her face painted white, dotted with bright sequins. She lives ‘at the end of the world’, tending a hardy Muslim culture in largely Christian Bulgaria.

tn_or_wed_crop.jpg

The remote village of Ribnovo, set on a snowy mountainside in southwest Bulgaria, has kept its traditional winter marriage ceremony alive despite decades of Communist persecution, followed by poverty that forced many men to seek work abroad.

“Other nearby villages tried the traditional marriage after the ban was lifted, but then the custom somehow died away — women wanted to be modern,” said Ali Mustafa Bushnak, 61, whose daughter came to watch Fikrie’s wedding.

“Maybe we are at the end of the world. Or people in Ribnovo are very religious and proud of their traditions.”

Some experts say clinging to the traditional wedding ceremony is Ribnovo’s answer to the persecutions of the past.

Bulgaria is the only European Union nation where Muslims’ share is as high as 12 percent. The communist regime, which did not tolerate any religious rituals, tried to forcibly integrate Muslims into Bulgaria’s largely Christian Orthodox population, pressing them to abandon wearing their traditional outfits and adopt Slavonic names.

The wedding ritual was resurrected with vigor among the Pomaks — Slavs who converted to Islam under Ottoman rule and now make up 2.5 percent of Bulgaria’s 7.8 million population — after communism collapsed in 1989.

But today it is still performed only in the closed society of Ribnovo and one other village in the Balkan country. Young men return from abroad to the crisp mountain snows, just for the winter weddings.

People in Ribnovo identify themselves more by their religion, as Muslims, than by their ethnicity or nationality, and the wedding ceremony is an expression of their piety. The village has 10 clerics and two mosques for 3,500 inhabitants.

DOWRY ON DISPLAY

Fikrie’s family have been laboriously piling up her dowry since she was born — mostly handmade knit-work, quilts, coverlets, sheets, aprons, socks, carpets and rugs.

On a sunny Saturday winter morning they hang the items on a wooden scaffolding, 50 meters long and three meters high, erected specially for the occasion on the steep, muddy road of scruffy two-story houses that leads to her home.

Nearly everyone in the village comes to inspect the offerings: Fikrie’s tiny homeyard has been turned into a showroom for the furniture and household appliances the bride has to provide for her new household.

The girl and her husband-to-be, Moussa, 20, then lead a traditional horo dance on the central square, joined by most of the village’s youth.

But the highlight of the ceremony, the painting of the bride’s face, comes at the end of the second day.

In a private rite open only to female in-laws, Fikrie’s face is covered in thick, chalky white paint and decorated with colorful sequins. A long red veil covers her hair, her head is framed with tinsel, her painted face veiled with and silvery filaments.

Clad in baggy pants and bodice shimmering in all the colors of the rainbow, the bride is presented by her future husband, her mother and her grandmother to the waiting crowd.

Fikrie is not permitted to open her eyes wide until a Muslim priest blesses the young couple. Alcohol is forbidden at the wedding receptions and sex before marriage is taboo.

BANNED RITUALS

Ethnographers say it is hard to date the bridal painting ritual, as the communist regime did not encourage studies into minority ethnic and religious groups.

“It is very likely that it is an invented tradition. It’s their way to express who they are,” said Margarita Karamihova, an associate professor at the Ethnography Institute of the Bulgarian Academy of Science.

Experts say Pomaks had identity problems and faced more challenges than the majority of Muslims in Bulgaria, who are ethnic Turks.

“In the 1960s they would ban Islamic music at weddings, then they would not allow traditional clothes, and in the 1980s, the whole traditional Pomak wedding was banned,” said municipality mayor, Ahmed Bashev, born in Ribnovo.

Ribnovo’s inhabitants used to make a living from tobacco and agriculture, but low incomes in the poorest EU country forced men to start seeking jobs in cities in Bulgaria or in western Europe — not least to raise money for a wedding.

Outside influences have been slow to reach Ribnovo and young people rarely marry an outsider. Another Fikrie, 19-year-old Fikrie Inuzova, suggested the women, for whom the acceptable bridal age is up to 22, are not in a rush to modernize.

“My brother wants to travel, see the world… It’s different for men. They can do whatever. I want to stay here and marry.”

* By Tsvetelia Ilieva

The violence at the U.S. embassy in Belgrade that left one person dead and parts of the building damaged by fire on Thursday has provoked a furious reaction in Washington. Speaking at the United Nations, U.S. ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad called the attack an “outrage,” and the Security Council passed a resolution reminding the Serb government “of its responsibility to protect diplomatic facilities.”

riot_0222.jpg

The violence came in the wake of a peaceful demonstration by hundreds of thousands of Serbs condemning this week’s Western-backed declaration of independence by Kosovo, which has until now been a Serbian province governed under U.N. auspices.

U.S. officials openly questioned the Serbian government’s lax security measures at the U.S. and other embassies, several of which have been attacked in the past week and suggested that some government ministers were inciting Serbs to violence. “We have made known to the Serbian government our concern and displeasure that their police force did not prevent this incident,” Dana Perino , spokesperson for President George W. Bush said, while other U.S. officials blasted Belgrade’s “completely inadequate” security precautions.

Several hundred hooded protesters broke away from the 500,000-strong crowd at the rally, throwing rocks and molotov cocktails at the Croatian and U.S. embassies. Flames licked up to the second floor of the old brick building which is located in the heart of the capital. Serbian paramilitary police, arriving in Humvees, dispersed the crowd using tear gas. But firefighters later discovered a charred body in a lower room. The embassy had been largely empty at the time and US officials say all employees have since been accounted for; the body is believed to be that of a protester.

While Serb officials expressed regret over the incident, and some have criticized Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica for inciting violence, their focus remains on challenging Kosovo’s secession. Branislav Ristivojevic, spokesman for Kostunica’s Democratic Party of Serbia, accused the U.S. of violating the U.N. Charter and Resolution 1244 (which ended the Kosovo war but stipulated that Kosovo was still part of Serbia) by recognizing Kosovo’s unilateral independence declaration, calling that, rather than the events at the embassy, “the deepest violation of international law”. And U.N. troops used teargas to disperse some 5,000 Serb demonstrators trying to cross into the Albanian side of the divided northern Kosovo city of Mitrovica.

At Thursday’s rally, the sharp divisions that typify Serbian politics were nowhere to be seen, as leaders from across the spectrum united in a massive show of force to protest Kosovo’s secession from Serbia. As banners bearing messages such as “Kosovo is Serbia” were hoisted, the country’s leading politicians were joined by the likes of filmmaker Emir Kusturica. Even Australian open tennis champion Novak Djokovic beamed his support via video link.

Thursday’s demonstration follows a week of orchestrated outrage that has singled out those countries that have recognized Kosovo’s declaration of independence . In addition to stone – throwing incidents at several embassies in Belgrade, no fewer than ten McDonald’s outlets were vandalized. A local Slovenian supermaket chain was targeted as were Albanian sweet shops and bakeries. (Slovenia currently holds the rotating EU presidency while Albania has consistently supported the secession struggle of Kosovo’s ethnic Albanian majority.) Serbian state television pulled American movies and sitcoms off the air and replaced them with Russian and Spanish dramas. (Spain and Russia have refused to recognize Kosovo).

In the Serb-dominated north of Kosovo, meanwhile, Kosovo Serbs descended on two border posts, torching one and blowing up the other, before NATO troops from the territory’s 16,000-strong peacekeeping force arrived to take control of the posts. There were no casualties.

“We are struggling for what is legitimately ours. We will not tolerate this illegal act of secession,” Serbian Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic told European lawmakers in the French city of Strasbourg.

Many Serbs see Kosovo as their ancestral homeland . They believe they are being unfairly punished for the sins of one man, Slobodan Milosevic, the former strongman who died in 2006 while facing war crimes charges in the Hague. And they blame the U.S. in particular for backing Kosovo Albanians drive to independence. U.S. warplanes bombed Belgrade in 1999 at the height of the campaign to stop Milosevic’s “ethnic cleansing” campaign in Kosovo.

At Thursday’s rally, Prime Minister Kostunica asked the crowd: “Is there anyone here who is not from Kosovo? Is there anyone here who’s ready to give Kosovo away?” The crowd cheered. No one volunteered. “They want us to give away our Serbian identity, our origins, our Kosovo, our ancestors, and our history. They say we’d be better off without these things, as a nation without memory and history. They say we will live better if we just forget we’re Serbs and agree to be humiliated.”

“Without Kosovo, there is no Serbia,” Tomislav Nikolic, a leader of the Serbian Radical Party said later. “Today we’re all the same. Today we are one.”

* By Andrew Purvis (TIME; Friday, Feb. 22, 2008)
With reporting by Dejan Anastasijevic/Belgrade

I am Independent politically. But, now, I consider the best political option, for USA and the world, will be to have a president democrat.
In politics do not exist pure, perfect or free errors candidates.

a_wboth_0218.jpg

The actual world to govern had a lot people complicated and variable in extreme.

Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are two excellent candidates. According the history and politics characteristics of USA; in my opinion, Hillary Clinton, with her errors included, she can be a real option to improve the national and international politics of USA.

Nevertheless, I do not rule out to Obama. Also, he is a good option to be president of USA.

In reality all it depends on what they do (both candidates) in next days. The fight is very hard. But, at the end, I will support to the best: Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama.

See You Later.
CARLOS Tiger without Time

_44249432_metro_ap203b.jpg

French commuters have been hard-hit by the transport strikes
Huge numbers of civil servants and students are expected to join striking transport workers as France enters a second week of industrial action. Postal workers, teachers, air traffic controllers and hospital staff around the country are preparing to protest against planned pay and job cuts. Students are also upset over plans to grant universities more autonomy.

The combined protests are the latest challenge to President Nicolas Sarkozy’s plans to reform the economy. Transport workers are beginning the seventh day of an indefinite strike in protest at planned pension cuts. And many of the latest strikers oppose government plans to not replace half of civil servants as they retire.

The government will not be able to budge on the principles Francois FillonFrench PM Strike fever hits France
Students, some of whom have been blocking buildings at dozens of campuses across France in the past week, are now protesting over plans to allow universities more autonomy to find non-government funding.

The latest one-day walkout was planned separately from the ongoing transport workers’ strike. That was triggered by plans to scrap “special” pensions privileges enjoyed by 500,000 workers, mainly in the rail and energy sectors, as well as by 1.1 million pensioners.

Tough times On Monday the transport unions voted to extend the walkout, though the number of strikers has reportedly been dropping since the strike began last Tuesday.

‘SPECIAL’ PENSIONS SYSTEM Benefits 1.6m workers, including 1.1m retireesApplies in 16 sectors, of which rail and utilities employees make up 360,000 peopleAccount for 6% of total state pension paymentsShortfall costs state 5bn euros (£3.5bn; $6.9bn) a yearSome workers can retire on full pensions aged 50Awarded to Paris Opera House workers in 1698 by Louis XIV In pictures: French strikes Can street protests succeed? Solidarity amid French crisis

Finance Minister Christine Lagarde said the job action was costing France at least $440m (£215m) a day. However, half of the country’s high-speed TGV trains are expected to operate on Tuesday, said national rail operator SNCF. Eurostar trains between Paris and London have not been affected.

But commuter trains, metro and bus services in Paris are all expected to be heavily reduced. Despite the vote by transport unions to extend their strike, there has been some movement towards negotiations. Unions have agreed to attend negotiations with the state rail company management on Wednesday.

_44249430_students_afp203b.jpg

Some are upset over plans to grant universities more autonomy
The government has somewhat relaxed its earlier stance that it would not enter talks unless strikers return to work. On Monday Prime Minister Francois Fillon said rail traffic must “progressively restart” for talks to take place. But he remained firm on the government’s commitment to overhaul the French economy.

“The government will not be able to budge on the principles because it has a mandate to move this reform forward,” Mr Fillon said. Opinion polls have so far suggested that there is broad support for Mr Sarkozy, who says France can no longer afford to let some public sector employees retire on a full pension as early as 50.

* BBC World, Nov. 2007

_44246295_rescuers_afp203b.jpg_44246295_rescuers_afp203b.jpg

There is no chance of finding survivors in the Zasyadco mine in Ukraine, a senior union official has said. Rescuers are still searching for over 20 miners trapped underground after the blast that killed more than 70 others.

But raging underground fires have thwarted rescue efforts in the Zasyadko mine in the eastern Donetsk region. Sunday’s blast, caused by a build-up of methane gas, occurred more than 1,000m (3,280ft) below ground in what was one of Ukraine’s worst accidents in years. Hundreds of desperate relatives rushed to the mine after hearing the news.

There was a bang, the temperature surged, and [there was] thick dust. You could see absolutely nothing Vitali KvitkovskiZasyadko miner

As grim-faced mine officials later emerged to announce the names of the victims, many in the crowd began weeping and several fainted. The head of the Ukrainian Free Miners’ Union, Mihailo Volninets, said it was now certain that all the missing men had died, says the BBC’s Laura Sheeter, in Kiev. Local authorities have now declared three days of mourning for the blast’s victims.

Methane inhalation At least 360 of the more than 450 miners who were below ground when the explosion happened at 0300 (0100 GMT) have now been rescued, emergency officials say.

_44246568_ukraine_don_map203.gif

One survivor described how he had to clamber over his dead colleagues along rail tracks to escape from the mine. Some 28 miners are now being treated in hospitals, many suffering from methane inhalation. Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych travelled on Sunday to the scene of the accident. He told reporters there had been a cave-in at the accident site, and that fire and smoke were also obstructing rescuers.

He also said a safety watchdog had reported that miners were working in accordance with regulations. “This accident has proven once again that a human is powerless before the nature,” Mr Yanukovych said, according to the Associated Press news agency. President Viktor Yushchenko arrived in Donetsk on Monday to chair a session of a commission investigating the disaster.

Mr Yushchenko’s office earlier quoted him as saying that the government had “made insufficient efforts to reorganise the mining sector, particularly the implementation of safe mining practices”. Poor record As fears grew, relatives gathered at the mine entrance trying to find news of their men. “I’ve come here to collect my grandson,” one woman told Reuters.

“I accompanied him to work yesterday. Now I want to take him home.” One miner, Vitali Kvitkovski, told the BBC that just before the explosion, he had checked his instruments and the methane levels seemed normal. “I was walking to the coal layer. There was a bang, the temperature surged, and [there was] thick dust.

You could see absolutely nothing,” Mr Kvitkovski said. Ukraine’s coal mines are among the most dangerous in the world, with a high number of fatal accidents.

Miners’ pay varies according to the volume of coal produced, giving them an incentive to ignore safety procedures that would slow production, one union official said. Anatoly Akimochkin told AFP most disasters were caused by concentrations of methane, which can occur suddenly. In September 2006, a gas leak at the Zasyadko coal mine, one of Ukraine’s largest, killed 13 miners and injured dozens more.

* BBC World, Nov. 2007

mar1101.JPG

We should to have respect for other country, about its national anthem, its flag, its culture and respect its citizens. And we cannot go to another country to make fun of its native symbols and of its citizens, for to do money for the movies.

Sadly it did actor Sacha Baron Cohen (Borat), who mocked of Kazakhstan (Few years ago it was part of Russia)
Also taking advantage of its condition of English citizen for made mocked of some politicians and of the American national anthem in a stadium in Texas.

Of course mister “Borat” is funny in his other scenes of his movie; but those two big mistakes: He mocked Kazakhstan and mocked of the national anthem, I believe that it was not funny.

Looks at the video (down)

[myheavy=embedID=60586f26e37afe8d2251f10b04418bb7&videoID=8594&autoPlay=false]

See you later
CARLOS (Tiger without Time)