Tuesday, July 22, 2014

EU Mulls More Sanctions On Russia | Iraqi Leader Loses Key Backing for New Term

EU Mulls More Sanctions On Russia

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The European Union will consider "potential measures" against Russia in the sectors of defense, energy, financial services and high-tech goods, Dutch Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans said.

Rise and fall in heroin use key factor in crime trends, study suggests 

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Home Office researchers say focusing on reducing remaining number of heroin users could produce further falls in crime
A long-term fall in the number of heroin and crack users has been a key factor in the decline in crime levels in England and Wales, according to Home Office research.
A consensus among criminologists over a convincing explanation for the rise in crime to a peak in 1995 and its subsequent long-term decline by more than 60% in England and Wales has long proved elusive.
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Who Are the Rebels Controlling Flight MH17′s Crash Site?

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On Monday the two black boxes from flight MH17 were finally handed over to Malaysian experts who had been petitioning for their safe recovery. The black boxes, however, weren’t returned by the Ukrainian government, but by pro-Russian separatists from the so-called “Donetsk People’s Republic”.
The handover, attended by international press, did not seem bound by diplomatic protocols. Hulking rebels dressed in camouflage loomed over the diminutive leader of the Malaysian delegation as he addressed the media.
Next to him stood their leader, Alexander Borodai, the self-styled Prime Minister of the Donetsk People’s Republic, who had negotiated the black boxes’ return with Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak. During the talks, Borodai had also agreed to transport the bodies of the victims to Kharkiv, in northeastern Ukraine, to be flown out to the Netherlands for identification. He later kept his word.
Self-proclaimed Prime Minister of the pro-Russian separatist “Donetsk People’s Republic” Alexander Borodai gives a press conference in Donetsk, July 19, 2014.
But what authority did Borodai have to negotiate the terms of the agreement with a world leader? Little more than the authority of the gun. In April, a gang led by Borodai and another rebel, Igor Girkin, declared the eastern province of Donetsk a republic. Girkin, who goes by the moniker “Strelkov” meaning shooter, is Borodai’s right hand man, running the armed forces within the so-called “Republic.” Negotiations between the two prime ministers—legitimate or otherwise—may have been fraught given that Girkin reportedly boasted about shooting down the plane.
Despite their grand claim to have founded a republic, Andrew Weiss, a vice president at the Carnegie Endowment, told TIME Borodai and Girkin only control shifting parts of the region, which is also populated by other separatist groups numbering about 5,000 rebels.
The separatists are far from a unified force, says James Nixey, head of the Russia and Eurasia program at Chatham House. “They are a series of disparate and only vaguely interconnected groups,” he says. “They’re very disorganized with no real structure or headquarters. Most of the rebels are poorly trained, ill-educated and ignorant of geopolitics.”
Borodai and Girkin however, aren’t everyday thugs like some of their rebel brethren. The pair are both Russian nationals with suspected ties to the Kremlin and experience in separatist conflicts.
Borodai, 41, is rumored to be particularly close to Moscow. In the early 1990s he wrote regularly for the far-right newspaper Zavtra and in 2011 founded the nationalist television channel Den-TV. He confirmed earlier this year that he worked as an adviser to the separatist Prime Minister of Crimea, Sergey Aksyonov. Russia annexed Crimea in March.
Borodai claims he was invited to eastern Ukraine by Girkin, a former Russian security-service officer. Girkin, meanwhile, has alleged he was asked to head the rebellion in eastern Ukraine, though refuses to say by whom. Like Borodai, he also advised separatists in Crimea.
The Russian pair’s group may have staked their claim to the crash site—Iryna Gudyma, a spokesperson for the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe who is currently in the area told TIME “we’ve only encountered armed rebels from the Donetsk People’s Republic”—but other rebels are on the scene.
The Wall Street Journal has claimed Cossacks led by commander Nikolai Kozitsin control part of the area where MH17 fell. Unlike Borodai and Girkin, Kozitsin is a Ukrainian who was born in Donetsk. Like them, he has been involved in separatist conflicts in Transnistria and Georgia.
On July 18, the day after the crash, Ukrainian authorities released a transcript of a conversation in which a man they identified as Kozitsin says of MH17: “they shouldn’t be flying. There’s a war going on.” Another transcript implicates Igor Bezler, known to his men as “Bes”, or “devil.” During a call Bezler reportedly told a Russian intelligence officer his men shot down a plane. Bezler’s group currently controls the town of Horlivka in Donetsk province.
But none of the rebel leaders have any overarching authority. “The people who are leaders in east Ukraine are not playing leading roles,” says Sam Greene, director of King’s College London’s Russian Institute. “They hold the de facto power in that part of the Ukraine but that’s all. They don’t have long established electoral legitimacy.” Borodai was only allowed to speak to the Malaysian Prime Minister because his men currently control the area.
Any fleeting power the groups have is considerably bolstered by Russia’s supply of money and weapons into the region, but that may soon cease. “Moscow’s commitment to supporting the rebels is waning, particularly after MH17,” notes Greene. “The costs are becoming too high politically both in terms of sanctions and the damage to Putin’s international reputation.”
And without Russian support, the future of the Donetsk People’s Republic looks decidedly shaky.
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With Pressure on Russia Over Ukraine, Putin Offers Reassurance to Countrymen 

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President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia said he would attempt to rein in pro-Russian separatists, but that Ukraine also needed to act to reduce tensions.

Russians have many theories about the MH17 crash. One involves fake dead people. 

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MOSCOW — As consensus builds in the U.S. government that pro-Russian rebels are responsible for shooting down a Malaysian airliner in eastern Ukraine, Russians are embracing a smorgasbord of alternate explanations.
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MH17 Jet Wreckage Hacked Into With Saws, Experts Say

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Large pieces of the downed Malaysia Airlines jet have been “hacked into” with diesel-powered saws, international monitors at the crash site said Tuesday. The limited access granted to experts andalleged tampering by pro-Russia rebels controlling the region has outraged the leaders of countries including the Netherlands and Australia, who are eager to repatriate the victims’ remains. The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, which has officials at the scene, reported damage that did not appear to be linked to the missile strike…

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Economic meltdown scenario piles pressure on Russia and the west 

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Policymakers dread slump in Russsia from further sanctions by the west would trigger another global economic meltdown
Oil prices above $200 a barrel. Energy shortages in western Europe. The return of recession to the still-fragile global economy. A slump in Russia. That's the fear haunting policy-makers as they contemplate how to respond to the shooting down of MH17 over eastern Ukraine last week.
The meltdown scenario can be easily sketched out. Every global downturn since 1973 has been associated with a sharp rise in the price of energy. Russia is one of the world's biggest energy suppliers and is responsible for about one-third of Europe's gas. America's economic recovery from the deep recession of 2008-09 has been weak by historic standards, while the European Union's has barely got going. From the car plants of Germany to the finance houses of the City of London and French defence firms, there has been pressure on politicians to be wary of provoking Vladimir Putin into retaliation that might rebound on the west.
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Russia: It's decision time 'for everybody' 

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Russian Ambassador to the EU Vladimir Chizhov tells Christiane Amanpour the downing of MH17 is a "game changer."
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The Queen's Gold Cup winner Estimate tests positive for morphine 

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Buckingham Palace release statement on monarch's mare
Contaminated feed believed to be reason behind shock news
The racehorse owned by the Queen that won the Ascot Gold Cup last year has tested positive for morphine, Buckingham Palace announced on Tuesday night.
Estimate, a five-year-old mare trained by Sir Michael Stoute, came second in the same race this year, and is one of five horses understood to have recorded a positive test for the banned substance. The palace said they believed the morphine had come via consumption of a contaminated feed product.
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Senators Seek More Sanctions Against Russia

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The heads of three Senate committees said the White House should impose new sanctions against Russia for its role in the downing of a Malaysia Airlines craft.

Iraqi Police Use Detentions to Blunt Militants

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The brief detention of a woman said to be related to the leader of ISIS is a tactic security forces have used against the militant group.

Ukraine separatists apparently cut up, looted parts of Malaysia jet - Los Angeles Times

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NBCNews.com

Ukraine separatists apparently cut up, looted parts of Malaysia jet
Los Angeles Times
A train carrying more than 280 bodies from the downed Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 crash in Ukraine arrived in the government-controlled city of Kharkiv on Tuesday. A train carrying more than 280 bodies from the downed Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 crash in ...
Cockpit of MH17 found sawed in half at crash siteUSA TODAY
Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17: The Kremlin PR strategyCBC.ca
MH17: Bodies missing on train carrying remains of victims, says Dutch officialSydney Morning Herald
Wall Street Journal -Christian Science Monitor -ABC Online
all 5,438 news articles »
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MH17: Russia responds 

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CNN's Christiane Amanpour speaks with Russian Ambassador to the EU Vladimir Chizhov about the downing of MH17.
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White House defends Obama's no-drama approach on Ukraine, Putin - Los Angeles Times

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Telegraph.co.uk

White House defends Obama's no-drama approach on Ukraine, Putin
Los Angeles Times
President Obama waves from Air Force One before departure at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland. He was flying to Seattle for a three-day West Coast trip and will attend at least five fundraising events in Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles. President ... 
MH17 plane crash: Remains of victims 'still at crash site'BBC News
US: No Link to Russian Gov't in Plane DowningABC News

UN resolution on MH17: How Australia achieved what other nations could notSydney Morning Herald 
Washington Post-The Australian-Chron.com
all 5,223 news articles »

Iraqi Leader Loses Key Backing for New Term

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Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is losing political support for his bid for a third term from core backers, including the country's Shiite religious establishment and ally Iran, say Iraqi officials.