Saturday, February 7, 2015

Ukraine crisis: Political wrangles in Munich dash hopes of a rapid peace deal

Ukraine crisis: Political wrangles in Munich dash hopes of a rapid peace deal

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The hopes raised by the rush to Moscow by European leaders Angela Merkel and François Hollande on Friday to speak with Russian President Vladimir Putin over an iteration of a peace plan for conflict-riven eastern Ukraine appeared all but dashed yesterday with political squabbling erupting again more than 1,000 miles away.  

Russia optimistic on Ukraine deal, warns on arming Kiev - Reuters

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Reuters

Russia optimistic on Ukraine deal, warns on arming Kiev
Reuters
MUNICH (Reuters) - Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Saturday that there were reasons for optimism on a peace deal for Ukraine but he also warned against the arming of Kiev's military and blamed the United States and Europe for inflaming ...

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Gauguin Painting Sells for Nearly $300 Million

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A colorful Paul Gauguin painting of two Tahitian girls has been sold for a record-breaking price. Media reports say the French artist’s 1892 oil painting "Nafea Faa Ipoipo" ("When Will You Marry?") has sold for nearly $300 million, surpassing the $259 million Qatar paid three years ago for Paul Cezanne's "The Card Players." The state-financed Qatar Museums also reportedly is the buyer of "Nafea," which was sold by a Swiss family...

More weapons won't help Ukraine, says Angela Merkel - video

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German chancellor Angela Merkel says the crisis in Ukraine will not be solved by military means, and that the peace agreement struck last September needs to be implemented. Speaking at the Munich security conference on Saturday, Merkel says she wants to secure peace in Europe with Russia and not against it Continue reading...

Biden backs Ukraine peace push, but wary of Russia's words - Chron.com

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Chron.com

Biden backs Ukraine peace push, but wary of Russia's words
Chron.com
MUNICH (AP) — U.S. Vice President Joe Biden is backing the German-French diplomatic push to calm the crisis in Ukraine but says Russia will have to be judged by its actions on the ground, "not by the paper they sign." Biden said the latest diplomatic drive ...

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Merkel: Ukraine crisis cannot be solved by military means

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Angela Merkel has said she understands the debate over arming Ukraine but does not believe it will help solve the conflict. Report by Victoria Laurence.
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Towers of Secrecy: The Hidden Money Buying Up New York Real Estate 

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An influx of global cash, much of it anonymously held, is helping to drive the growth in luxury real estate sales, a New York Times investigation has found.

Luxury Condos Unlocked

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The New York Times investigates the millionaire and billionaire luxury condominium buyers who use real estate as a safe deposit box for their money.

Towers of Secrecy: Stream of Foreign Wealth Flows to Elite New York Real Estate

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Shell companies are used to shield the identities of buyers in the competition to secure condos at the Time Warner Center and other high-end buildings. This is the first installment in a five-part series.

Trial comes for Marine accused of killing `American Sniper'

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STEPHENVILLE, Texas (AP) -- Eddie Ray Routh had been talking crazy for a while. So when he showed up on his sister's doorstep one afternoon two Februarys ago and claimed to have shot two men, she didn't know what to think....

Merkel warns Ukraine peace plan may fail

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Russia breaking international law and threatening foundation of peace and order in Europe, says Chancellor

Ukraine President Presses for Quick Cease-fire

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(MUNICH)—Ukraine’s president pushed Saturday for a quick cease-fire in his country’s troubled east, insisting that the conflict must be resolved and not “frozen,” and pressed Kiev’s case to be supplied with defensive weapons.
Petro Poroshenko spoke amid a hectic flurry of diplomacy. Hours earlier, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she’s still unsure of reaching a deal to calm the crisis, which France’s president said could feature a broad demilitarized zone and greater autonomy for Ukraine’s separatist eastern region.
Merkel and French President Francois Hollande, fresh from trips to Kiev and Moscow, plan to discuss the proposals in a phone call Sunday with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Poroshenko.
The aim is to draw up a possible joint document on implementing the much-violated September peace plan concluded in Minsk, Belarus. That agreement also featured a demilitarized zone, though the battle lines have since changed, and the government in Kiev has offered a measure of autonomy to the separatists.
Poroshenko told the Munich Security Conference that Ukraine stands ready for a “comprehensive and immediate cease-fire” and Russia should be too.
He indicated he didn’t want any peacekeepers in eastern Ukraine, saying they wouldn’t be needed if foreign fighters were withdrawn and the Ukraine-Russia border sealed. Then, he said, there would be “peace and stability in Ukraine … within a couple of weeks.”
“There is no temporary solution — this conflict must be resolved, not frozen,” he said, alluding to long-time conflicts involving breakaway regions in Georgia and Moldova.
Hollande, speaking to France 2 television, said the plan under negotiation would see a 50- to 70-kilometer (31- to 44-mile) demilitarized zone.
He called for “rather strong” autonomy in the east. “These people have gone to war,” Hollande said. “It will be difficult to make them share a common life.”
Merkel said it is uncertain whether the talks will succeed, “but it is, from my point of view and that of the French president, in any case worth making this attempt.”
“This conflict cannot be resolved by military means,” Merkel said. “It is all the more important now to set out substantial steps that serve to fill with life the Minsk agreement.”
U.S. Vice President Joe Biden said that “it’s very much worth the attempt” but Russia must be judged by its actions on the ground, “not by the paper they signed.”
The urgent diplomacy comes as Western anxiety over the conflict grows and sanctions bite ever harder on Russia’s economy. More than 5,300 people have been killed since fighting began in April, according to a U.N. tally, and the bloodshed has markedly increased over the past two weeks.
Russia’s most immediate goal in the Ukraine crisis is likely the lifting of some of the Western sanctions which, in concert with plunging oil prices, have driven the Russian economy into a parlous state — or at least to fend off the imposition of further sanctions. In the longer game, Russia has pushed for so-called “federalization” of Ukraine that would give broad powers to its provinces and allow them to deal directly with Moscow.
Russia also wants to keep Ukraine out of NATO. Although Ukraine dropped its nonalignment policy last year, the Western alliance would be unlikely to accept Ukraine as a member in the near future because of its unstable politics and endemic corruption.
Merkel acknowledged disillusionment over the failure of previous agreements to stick and said “there are no theoretical guarantees” that a new one would either.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said he “sincerely” hopes the latest diplomatic drive “will produce results, and those results will be supported by the parties to this conflict.”
As soon as Kiev and eastern Ukrainian separatists agree on practical details of implementing the Minsk deal, “I am sure that Russia will be among those parties that will guarantee the implementation of this agreement,” Lavrov told the conference. “But you can only guarantee what has already been achieved.”
The United States and other Western countries contend Russia has supplied troops and equipment to the separatists in eastern Ukraine who have been fighting Ukrainian government forces since April. Russia denies the claims.
The resurgent fighting has prompted the U.S. to consider giving lethal weapons to Ukraine, an option opposed by European nations which fear the move would merely make the situation worse.
“The problem is that I cannot imagine any situation in which improved equipment for the Ukrainian army leads to President Putin being so impressed that he believes he will lose militarily,” Merkel said. “I have to put it that bluntly.”
Poroshenko, who said talk of lethal weapons had been overdone and pointed to interest in equipment such as radar and jamming stations, arguing that “the lack of defense capability triggered offensive operations against Ukraine.”
Ukraine has “proven to be responsible, that we will not use the defensive equipment to the attack,” he said. “The stronger our defense, the more convincing is our diplomatic voice.”
Lavrov denounced “growing appeals in the West to … pump Ukraine full with lethal weapons and to involve it in NATO.” He said that “this position will only exacerbate the tragedy of Ukraine.”
Biden stopped short of explicitly addressing possible arms deliveries. “We will continue to provide Ukraine with security assistance not to encourage war, but to allow Ukraine to defend itself,” he said, adding that Washington doesn’t believe there is a military solution in Ukraine.
Meanwhile, fighting continued in eastern Ukraine. Five Ukrainian servicemen were killed and 26 wounded in fighting over the past day, Ukrainian security council spokesman Volodymyr Polyoviy said Saturday. The government website in the port city of Mariupol said one man was killed in shelling of the outlying settlement of Gnutove, which it blamed on rebels.
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Putin: a brilliant strategist, a cunning tactician, or mad? - Telegraph.co.uk

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Telegraph.co.uk

Putin: a brilliant strategist, a cunning tactician, or mad?
Telegraph.co.uk
At a recent conference held in the Baltic states, one word dominated the agenda: Putin. They could have discussed Russia and its foreign policy more generally, but all routes lead to a president whose 15 years in power have left him in total charge.
Ukraine conflict: Putin says will not wage war on anyoneCBC.ca

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Merkel downbeat as world awaits Putin's response to latest Ukraine peace plan - The Guardian

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The Guardian

Merkel downbeat as world awaits Putin's response to latest Ukraine peace plan
The Guardian
Merkel downbeat as world awaits Putin's response to latest Ukraine peace plan. German chancellor 'disappointed' by Russian attitude but says proposal for demilitarised zone to end conflict is 'worth trying'. Poroshenko, Merkel Biden. Ukraine president ...
Angela Merkel takes on world's major crises - Ukraine and Islamic StateTelegraph.co.uk
Ukraine crisis: 'Last chance' for peace says HollandeBBC News

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Russia President Putin says will not wage war on anyone - Hindustan Times

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Hindustan Times

Russia President Putin says will not wage war on anyone
Hindustan Times
Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Saturday Russia did not plan to wage war on anyone although a world order where one leader tells others what they can do would not suit Moscow. His comments were the first from Putin since he met French ...
US Vice President Joe Biden says Russian President Vladimir Putin has " simple ...euronews
Biden to Putin: 'Don't Tells Us, Show Us'ABC News
Sochi Winter Olympic stadiums lie empty and abandonedThe Independent
Channel News Asia -Firstpost -TVNZ
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Russia's Lavrov Met With Hoots, Indignation At Testy Munich Talk

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Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov sparked indignant laughter and accusations of hypocrisy at a security conference in Munich by suggesting Russia's annexation of Crimea was in line with the UN Charter.

Turkish Intelligence Chief Resigns, Will Run for Parliament

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Turkey's intelligence service chief, one of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's closest allies, has resigned to run in parliamentary elections in June. The resignation of Hakan Fidan, reported Saturday, adds to speculation that he could be poised to become Turkey's new foreign minister. As head of the National Intelligence Agency, known as the MIT, Fidan has played a major role in peace talks with Kurdish militants aimed at ending their decades-long insurgency. He has also...

Cops find 60 decomposing bodies in crematorium which shut a YEAR ago after ... - Mirror.co.uk

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Mirror.co.uk

Cops find 60 decomposing bodies in crematorium which shut a YEAR ago after ...
Mirror.co.uk
These disturbing images show dozens of decomposing bodies found by cops when they entered a crematorium which shut a YEAR ago. Police entered the building after neighbours complained of a bad smell and found the 'perfectly embalmed' corpses ...

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Bruce Jenner involved in car cash that killed 1 in Malibu - USA TODAY

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Irish Independent

Bruce Jenner involved in car cash that killed 1 in Malibu
USA TODAY
Bruce Jenner was involved in a car crash that killed one person in Malibu, Calif, Saturday afternoon, Los Angeles Police say. Jenner was apparently unharmed. The crash occurred at approximately 12:12 pm Pacific time in the town of Malibu, at the corner of ...
Bruce Jenner Involved In Major Car CrashHuffington Post
1 Killed, 7 Injured In Multi-Vehicle Crash; Closes Portion Of PCH In MalibuCBS Local
Bruce Jenner In Horrible Car Crash One Person DeadTMZ.com
U-T San Diego -Daily Mail -Gawker
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Williams' statement on decision to take 'several days' off

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NEW YORK (AP) -- The following statement from NBC Anchorman Brian Williams was posted on the network's website Saturday:...

Brian Williams taking himself off air temporarily

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LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Brian Williams is stepping away temporarily from the "NBC Nightly News" amid questions about his memories of war coverage in Iraq, saying it has become "painfully apparent" to him that he has become a distracting news story....

Biden to Putin: 'Don't Tell Us, Show Us' - ABC News

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ABC News

Biden to Putin: 'Don't Tell Us, Show Us'
ABC News
Vice President Joe Biden took aim at Vladimir Putin on Saturday, telling him, "Don't tell us, show us," after the Russian president said he did not want war and wants to cooperate with other world leaders. "Too many times, President Putin has promised peace ...
US Vice President Joe Biden says Russian President Vladimir Putin has "a ...euronews
Biden says Ukrainians 'have right to defend themselves,' mum on US sending ...Fox News
USto further support Ukraine, urges Russian actionsXinhua
Sputnik International -RT -Wall Street Journal
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7 people shot, 5 dead in Georgia shooting - Fox News

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CBS
 News

7 people shot, 5 dead in Georgia shooting
Fox News
DEVELOPING: A gunman shot seven people Saturday, killing five of them, in a subdivision west of Atlanta, Georgia. Douglas County Sheriff's Lt. Glenn Daniel told The Associated Press that authorities received a 911 call Saturday reporting a shooting in ...
Five dead after shooting at Georgia home: policeNew York Daily News 
5 killed in suburban Atlanta shootingUSA TODAY

US gunman kills five in Douglasville, Atlanta: policeSydney Morning Herald
Dallas Morning News-Washington Post 
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Daily Mail
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Slovak conservatives fail to cement gay marriage ban in referendum 

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Ban on gay marriages and child adoptions failed because the vote attracted less than the minimum 50% of voters necessary to make it valid
Slovak conservatives failed to cement a ban on gay marriages and child adoptions in a referendum on Saturday because the vote attracted far less than the minimum 50% of voters necessary to make it valid, partial results showed.
Votes counted from 87.23% of the central European country’s voting districts showed turnout of just 21.07%, the statistics office said, far from the legal limit and well below expectations.
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Путин опешил от речи Шмакова, пригрозившего правительству "народной дубиной" - Политика, Россия

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Президенту пришлось объяснять в Сочи, что заговора либералов в России нет
Вчера в 18:59, просмотров: 99393
На IX съезде профсоюзов в Сочи Владимир Путин неожиданно столкнулся с жесткой критикой в адрес первого вице-премьера Игоря Шувалова, "неолибералов, засевших в финансово-экономическом блоке" и Центробанка. Президент с лидерами профсоюзного движения поспорил: никакого заговора против человека труда в правительстве нет, а сам рынок, по его мнению, является не оголтелым, как выразился глава ФНПР Михаил Шмаков, а регулируемым. ВВП согласился с тем, что зарплаты глав крупных госкомпаний нужно "вытаскивать на свет божий", но отказался заморозить повышение налога на имущество. 
Путин опешил от речи Шмакова, пригрозившего правительству
фото: Наталия Губернаторова
Активисты профсоюзного движения собрались на съезд после четырехлетнего перерыва, поэтому не удивительно, что им было, о чем поговорить. За это время Россия успела выкарабкаться из предыдущего финансово-экономического кризиса и по уши погрузиться в новый. По мнению г-на Шмакова, значительная доля ответственности за такое развитие событий лежит на некоторых членах правительства. "Нынешний кризис - рукотворен. Он сделан руками либералов, засевших в финансово-экономическом блоке правительства, и примкнувших к ним представителей Центробанка", - под аплодисменты зала заявил лидер профсоюзного движения, занимающий свой пост аж с 1993 года.
Шмаков сообщил, что "санкции против России вводились как будто по наводке из самой страны". А первый вице-премьер Игорь Шувалов в качестве лекарства предлагает такие структурные преобразования, к которым общество не готово.
Раскритиковав пенсионную реформу, повышение ключевой ставки ЦБ, несправедливое распределение доходов даже внутри госкомпаний и переход на налогообложение по кадастровой стоимости, Шмаков пригрозил правительству "образом общероссийского Уралвагонзавода, который по-прежнему держит в страхе всю либеральную общественность".
Столь пылкое выступление видного профсоюзного деятеля, естественно, не могло оставить безучастным Владимира Путина, тем более, что некоторые озвученные им решения принимались не только с ведома, но и при поддержке российского президента.
"Ваш лидер ведет себя очень активно, иногда даже наступательно, как вот сейчас, - обратился к участникам съезда ВВП,- Это, конечно, не формат для дискуссий, я пришел просто вас поздравить, но должен все-таки сказать несколько слов".
Во-первых, подчеркнул Путин, заговора рыночников и либералов в России нет. Есть разные подходы. "Но нам всегда удавалось найти золотую середину. На самом деле все, что происходит на рынке нам понятно. У нас есть целая система поддержки отдельных отраслей, сельского хозяйства, малого и среднего бизнеса. А, например, проектное финансирование предусматривает прямое фондирование из ЦБ, который сейчас был подвергнут критике", - заступился за "либералов" ВВП.
И, чтобы совсем никто не сомневался, добавил: "Все-таки рынок у нас не оголтелый, а регулируемый". Президент отказался вслед за лидером профсоюзного движения признать противостояние с Западом "войной": "Никакой войны против России нет, но есть попытка сдержать наше развитие".
Что касается распределения доходов между топ-менеджерами и простыми тружениками, то, по мнению ВВП, ничего несправедливого в том, что начальники получают больше, нет. На рынке профессионалов мирового класса уровень зарплат не маленький. А глава компании априори не может получать меньше своего зама. "Но если кто-то что-то скрывает и прячет, здесь я с вами согласен: надо все это вытаскивать на свет божий", - заявил президент. Он не поддержал идею отказа от налогообложения имущества, исходя из его кадастровой стоимости, за которую высказался не только Михаил Шмаков, но и глава РСПП Александр Шохин. Путин напомнил, что этот налог пойдет на пополнение доходов местных бюджетов и поможет регионам выполнять социальные обязательства перед гражданами.
- Кстати, вы слышали, что тут говорили о корпоративной алчности?, - обратился он к Шохину, - Так что повнимательнее там.
За главу РСПП перед президентом заступиться было некому. Тогда как Шмаков нашел себе надежного защитника в лице генерального секретаря Международной конфедерации профсоюзов Шаран Барроу, которую также позвали на съезд .
"Я никогда не ссорилась с господином Шмаковым, чего и вам желаю, - обратилась она к немного опешившему Путину, - Микаэль важен для вас, и он важен для меня". Из длинного и крайне эмоционального доклада Барроу, в котором нашлось место и лихорадке Эбола, и борьбе с ИГИЛ, и оккупации Палестины, президент решил прокомментировать два момента - про потерю доверия к правительствам во всем мире (по мнению ВВП, до России эта тенденция в ближайшее время не доберется) и призрак кризиса.
- Раньше по миру бродил призрак коммунизма, сейчас - призрак кризиса. Церковнослужители говорят, что достаточно к Господу обратиться, и все призраки исчезнут. Но, как говорится, на бога надейся, а сам не плошай. Если мы будем ответственно относится к своему делу, то у нас все получится, - резюмировал Путин. 
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Ukraine: Russia Must 'Do Its Bit', Says Merkel

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said Russia "needs to its bit" in resolving the Ukrainian crisis.

Nato discuses arming Ukraine

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Support from Nato powers should not be ruled out if economic and diplomatic overtures fail, says general

Russian-backed rebels massing to attack key Ukrainian towns - Kiev - Reuters

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Russian-backed rebels massing to attack key Ukrainian towns - Kiev
Reuters
KIEV (Reuters) - Pro-Russian separatists have intensified shelling of government forces on all front lines and appear to be amassing forces for new offensives on the key railway town of Debaltseve and the coastal city of Mariupol, Ukraine's military said on ...

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