Sunday, July 5, 2015

Now Europe Must Decide Whether to Make an Example of Greece - New York Times

Photos of the Day: July 5

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In photos chosen Sunday by Wall Street Journal editors, Greeks vote on their economic future, Americans celebrate their Independence Day and more.

Outcome Takes Eurozone Into the Unknown

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However Greeks had voted Sunday would have heralded a period of turmoil. But with a projected victory for the “no” vote, Greece and the eurozone are taking a leap into the unknown.

Pope's Social Message Puts Him on Tricky Terrain in South America

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The pontiff hasn’t shied away from criticizing mankind’s treatment of the environment or trickle-down economics, but it remains unclear if he’ll broach civil liberties when he meets leaders on his home continent.

Who are the Kurds? A user's guide to Kurdish politics

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Kurds dream of a state, but aren't as united as you might think. Their factions could shape the Middle East. Here is a guide to who is who, by Richard Spencer











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Trial to examine retaliation charge against Arizona sheriff - Arizona Daily Sun - Arizona Daily Sun

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Trial to examine retaliation charge against Arizona sheriff - Arizona Daily Sun
Arizona Daily Sun
PHOENIX (AP) — The sheriff of metro Phoenix has long been known for jailing inmates in tents and cracking down on illegal immigration. But an upcoming trial will force Sheriff Joe Arpaio to answer for behavior that critics have long found deeply ...

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Now Europe Must Decide Whether to Make an Example of Greece - New York Times

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New York Times

Now Europe Must Decide Whether to Make an Example of Greece
New York Times
For years now, it has seemed to any reasonably informed outsider that something was going to have to give in Greece. You surely couldn't have an economy in depression for five years and counting, in a democracy, without the people demanding a different ...
Emerging 'No' Vote in Greece Poses Merkel's Biggest ChallengeWall Street Journal
Greeks say 'No' to EuropeSydney Morning Herald
Merkel, Hollande want euro zone leaders' summit on TuesdayReuters
Economic Times -Bloomberg
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Iraqi Government Forces Accused of Civilian Deaths

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Iraqi Sunni political leaders are accusing the government of two bloody attacks on civilians in Anbar province in the past 24 hours. An Iraqi military spokesman denies the charges. Iraqi media claims attacks have killed a large number of civilians in Anbar province's largest cities of Ramadi and Faluja. Sunni leaders from Anbar province say dozens of civilians were killed and wounded in a government airstrike on a football stadium near Ramadi. The city is occupied by the Islamic...

Indian Coast Guard Seizes Iranian Boat, Arrests 12 Crew

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Indian coast guard seizes Iranian fishing boat, arrests 12 crew members

Greece's Next Challenge: Paying the European Central Bank - Wall Street Journal

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BBC News

Greece's Next Challenge: Paying the European Central Bank
Wall Street Journal
ATHENS—Monday, July 20 is shaping up to be a make-or-break moment for Greece's future in the eurozone, after voters apparently overwhelmingly rejected the terms of a rescue package offered by their creditors. That day, Greece is due to pay €3.5 ...
ECB Wary of Rushed Judgment on Greece Before Politicians ReactBloomberg
The Greece 'no' vote. No money, few options, and a lot more problems.Christian Science Monitor
Defiant Greeks reject EU demands as Syriza readies IOU currencyTelegraph.co.uk
Reuters -Fox News Latino -TODAYonline
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AP Top News at 12:55 p.m. EDT

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AP Top News at 12:55 p.m. EDT
The Latest: Greek defense minister says 'democracy has won'ATHENS, Greece (AP) - The latest from the bailout referendum in Greece (all times local): ---
ATHENS, Greece (AP) - Greeks lined up at polling stations and ATMs alike Sunday as the country voted on its financial future, choosing in a referendum whether to accept creditors' demands for more austerity in return for rescue loans or defiantly reject the deal. Early indications suggested a high turnout after a week of intense campaigning left Greek cities littered with fliers and posters - and opinion polls showed voters evenly split on the first referendum Greece has held in 41 years.
The Latest: Pope Francis awaited in Ecuador on 3-nation tripHere are the latest developments from Pope Francis' trip to South America: ---
Back at work: Congress facing busy agenda, funding deadlineWASHINGTON (AP) - After July Fourth fireworks and parades, members of Congress return to work Tuesday facing a daunting summer workload and a pending deadline to fund the government or risk a shutdown in the fall. The funding fight is shaping up as a major partisan brawl against the backdrop of an intensifying campaign season. Republicans are eager to avoid another Capitol Hill mess as they struggle to hang onto control of Congress and try to take back the White House next year.
Africans seeking better lives pass through Ethiopian townMETEMA, Ethiopia (AP) - The mood in the border town of Metema these days is quiet and watchful. Dozens of houses on the hot, dusty main road that stretches from Ethiopia into Sudan look like they have been hastily closed. Guards grimly patrol the border, stopping anyone who looks to be trying to cross the border illegally. The nightclubs and bars are emptier than usual, although they still attract Sudanese who are not allowed to drink alcohol in their own country under Shariah law.
World heritage status for The Alamo, Japan industrial sitesBONN, Germany (AP) - The United States has succeeded in its bid to "Remember the Alamo," after the U.N. cultural body approved its status as a world heritage site Sunday. The Alamo was one of five Spanish Roman Catholic sites, known as the San Antonio Missions, to receive the coveted label likely to boost tourism.
UK's Princess Charlotte christened on queen's estateLONDON (AP) - Prince William and his wife, Kate, marked a milestone for their newborn baby Princess Charlotte on Sunday - a christening ceremony on Queen Elizabeth II's country estate that was steeped in royal tradition. Hundreds of fans outside St. Mary Magdalene Church in Sandringham, a sprawling royal estate near England's eastern coast, cheered as William and Kate arrived with toddler Prince George and 9-week-old Charlotte, who was in a vintage pram.

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AP Top News at 5:02 p.m. EDT

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AP Top News at 5:02 p.m. EDT
Greeks reject demands for more austerity in key referendumATHENS, Greece (AP) - Voters in Greece resoundingly rejected creditors' demands for more austerity in return for rescue loans Sunday, backing Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, who insisted the vote would give him a stronger hand to reach a better deal. The opposition accused Tsipras of jeopardizing the country's membership in the 19-nation club that uses the euro and said a "yes" vote was about keeping the common currency.
The Latest: Pope Francis driving into Ecuador's capitalQUITO, Ecuador (AP) - Here are the latest developments from Pope Francis' trip to South America: ---
QUITO, Ecuador (AP) - History's first Latin American pope returned to Spanish-speaking South America for the first time on Sunday, bringing a message of solidarity with the region's poor, who are expected to turn out in droves to welcome their native son home. "The pope of the poor" chose to visit Ecuador, Bolivia and Paraguay specifically because they are among the poorest and most marginal nations of a region that claims 40 percent of the world's Catholics. He's skipping his homeland of Argentina, at least partly to avoid papal entanglement in this year's presidential election.
Farmers eager for drones, but most can't legally fly themCORDOVA, Md. (AP) - Mike Geske wants a drone. Watching a flying demonstration on Maryland's Eastern Shore, the Missouri farmer envisions using an unmanned aerial vehicle to monitor the irrigation pipes on his farm - a job he now pays three men to do.
On 9th day, Kerry says Iran nuke talks could go either wayVIENNA (AP) - Nine days into marathon nuclear talks, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Sunday said the diplomatic efforts "could go either way," cutting off all potential pathways for an Iranian atomic bomb or ending without an agreement that American officials have sometimes described as the only alternative to war. The EU's top foreign policy official, Federica Mogherini, said agreement was "very close." But Kerry said there was still a ways to go.
WASHINGTON (AP) - Members of Congress return from July Fourth fireworks and parades Tuesday facing a daunting summer workload and an impending deadline to fund the government or risk a shutdown in the fall. The funding fight is shaping up as a major partisan brawl against the backdrop of an intensifying campaign season, with Republicans eager to avoid another Capitol Hill mess as they struggle to hang onto control of Congress and take back the White House next year. Already they are deep into the blame game with Democrats over who would be responsible if a shutdown does happen, with House Speaker John Boehner denouncing Democrats' "dangerously misguided strategy" and House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi accusing Boehner and his Republicans of pursuing "manufactured crises."

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Syrian Forces and Hezbollah Push to Bolster Border Control

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Hezbollah, which has intervened on behalf of its ally, the Syrian government, is trying to cement control of the Lebanese frontier in a complex conflict.
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Israeli Cabinet Rejects Measure to Ease Conversions

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The reversal of a measure approved by the previous cabinet signaled the renewed strength of ultra-Orthodox parties in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition.

Egypt Warns Journalists Over Coverage of Militant Attacks

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President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, facing criticism of his counterinsurgency strategy, compared reporting to a “fourth generation of warfare, and even fifth.”

ISIS capital Raqqa hit by US-led airstrikes as they release images of dead

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GRAPHIC CONTENT WARNING: More than ten militants and a number of civilians have been killed in the biggest ever airstrikes launched in Syria which rocked the city and sparked a series of explosions.

The Greeks said No – but to what exactly? | Mary Dejevsky

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This was a national vote but the issue is Europe-wide. We’ve yet to discover whether Greece can remain in the eurozone, or even in the EU
You can ignore what a government says, but you can’t ignore the voice of the nation. So said Alexis Tsipras when he went to cast his referendum vote today. It was a comment worthy of the prime minister of the country that gave the world democracy. What exactly the voters have said, however, might not be quite as clear as he would have liked.
Through the evening, as the evidence mounted for a No vote – which, in the confusing world of current Greek politics, was essentially a Yes for the stance taken by Tsipras in the talks with EU and international institutions so far – it was possible to sense the trepidation that has gripped the rest of Europe for the past week mounting too. Within an hour of the polls closing, the French president and German chancellor announced they would be meeting in Paris on Monday , the choice of venue being the more diplomatic option, given Greek sensitivities. George Osborne had earlier sown concern where there had seemed to be none, by telling the BBC that no country was immune to the Greek debt crisis, including the UK.
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Greek referendum result: who does what next? 

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A flurry of eurozone meetings are set to go ahead in Athens, Brussels, Paris and Frankfurt, but Greek exit contingency plans will also be discussed in the UK
The Greek finance minister, Yanis Varoufakis, will hold an emergency meeting with the bosses of the local banks on Sunday night. He has said he is on a “war footing”. The governor of the central bank, the Bank of Greece, Yannis Stournaras, is also likely to be summoned amid fears that Greece’s banks are close to being completely depleted of cash.
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Greek referendum no vote signals huge challenge to eurozone leaders

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Victory by Syriza party of 60% to 40% in polarising referendum presents nightmare for eurozone elites, particularly Germany’s Angela Merkel 
Greece delivered a landslide no vote to the eurozone’s terms for the country remaining in the single currency on Sunday night, unleashing a seismic political shift that could derail the European project. The verdict confronts the EU’s leadership with one of its most severe ­crises of confidence and leaves Greece facing potential financial collapse and exit from the euro.
In a polarising referendum called by the radical leftist government of Alexis Tsipras at only eight days notice, Greeks voted by more than 60% to 40% in support of the prime minister, spurning the extra austerity demanded mainly by Germany and the International Monetary Fund in return for an extension of bailout funds.
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Police criticised for not arresting man carrying Isis flag near parliament 

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Metropolitan police say actions were considered to be ‘within the law’ after photographs show man with flag on his back, carrying child holding another flag
Police have been criticised for failing to arrest a man who was seen wandering near Big Ben draped in an Islamic State flag.
The man was photographed walking past a group of Scouts outside the Houses of Parliament as he wore a large Isis flag on his back. He was carrying a small child on his shoulders, who was waving a mini flag.
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Greece defiantly rejects Europe's bailout offer

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With their banks running out of cash on Monday, the Greeks vote "no" on key referendum, despite warning of likely forced euro exit

Tension Increases Between Russia and Its Neighbors - The Fiscal Times

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The Fiscal Times

Tension Increases Between Russia and Its Neighbors
The Fiscal Times
Russia's increasingly tense relationship with its neighbors in Europe worsened last week with a series of diplomatic, political and economic exchanges that highlighted the complex dynamics at work in Eastern Europe. Early last week, according to state ...

Russia And U.S. Economic War Raging - ValueWalk

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ValueWalk

Russia And U.S. Economic War Raging
ValueWalk
As tensions between Russia and the United States expand, it is increasingly clear that an economic war is being waged between the two superpowers. This is certainly not the first time that the United States and Russia have been on opposite sides of ...
Germany and Russia Back to Business as UsualtheTrumpet.com
Russia Taking Full Advantage Of Greek CrisisOilPrice.com

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‘Putin has Barricaded Himself in the Dead End He has Created,’ Illarionov Says 

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Paul Goble

            Staunton, July 5 – “Putin has finally decided” to block all of the ways out from “the dead end into which he has driven himself and Russia,” Andrey Illarionov says, prompting the West to oppose him more vigorously, creating a disaster for Russia, and setting the stage for the ultimate restoration of Ukrainian control over the Donbas and Crimea.

            The Kremlin leader’s use of nuclear blackmail led the leaders of Germany and France to sign the Minsk accords, the Russian commentator says, but his repeated use of the same tactic has forced the West to adopt a confrontational strategy given the dangers Putin’s policy entails (obozrevatel.com/politics/85041-putin-zabarrikadiroval-vyihod-iz-tupika-v-kotoryij-sam-sebya-zagnal-illarionov.htm).

            Putin continues to try to present this situation as “a dead end into which he supposedly has been driven,” Illarionov continues. But “in fact, it was not the West that drove him into this corner but he himself.  More than that, he continues in this direction ever further and deeper,” while carefully “barricading” Russia from any of the ways out he might have pursued.

            Given that Russia has nuclear weapons and a 700,000-man army, the commentator says, that alone “forces millions of people throughout the entire world to be afraid” of what the Kremlin may do next.”

            “That is the tragedy of the present situation,” Illarionov says, “because hundreds of millions of people directly depend on Putin. Their lives, health and well-being really depend on the decisions of one man. But the problem is that in the contemporary world, ordinary citizens, the expert community and the leaders of the Western countries don’t know how to respond.”

            As a result, “the only way out of this situation” is likely to be “a continuation of the confrontation” which has plunged the world into a Cold War and a situation which “could take on other hotter forms.”  And that reality, Illarionov says, is “not susceptible to easy and simple predicitons.”

            That in turn means that “this war will have various stages. But at its end, Ukraine will regain control over the occupied territories,” the commentator says, adding that he is “very much concerned that for Russia this will not be the only geopolitical consequences of the end of this confrontation.”

            Illarionov analyzes Putin from the perspective of someone who has consistently opposed the Kremlin leader’s actions in Ukraine. But what is truly frightening is some who have supported Putin look at the same situation he does and conclude that Putin must get out of the current impasse by going over to the offensive.

            One such writer, Aleksey Anpilogov, in an article in Aleksandr Prokhanov’s “Zavtra,” pointedly asks “Is it possible to win a war while sitting in a fortress?  Even if this fortress covers a sixth of the earth’s surface, has 146 million residents, and whose ancestors have left it a powerful arsenal of conventional and nuclear arms?” (zavtra.ru/content/view/kiev-3/).

                The greatest theoreticians of war, he continues, say otherwise. They argue that “wars have always been won exclusively by attacks,” and those who adopt a defensive position typically create a situation in which “the army and people sitting in a fortress lose their opportunities for action day by day, exhaust their resources and demoralize their soldiers.”

            The conflict between Russia and the West “isn’t going to disappear. War and the siege of the fortress will be extended just as Alarich’s barbarians continued the siege of Rome even after various ‘armistices’ and declarations about ‘eternal friendship.’”  At the end of it, “’the thousand-year Rome’” was overwhelmed by the barbarians marching through its streets.

            One wants to believe, Anpilogov continues, that “the Russian elite understands this and doesn’t have any illusions regarding the iron curtain of the West” which may take on many forms but which will never be eliminated as long as the two are locked in confrontation.

            “Russia has no friends in Kyiv. But both the West and Russia have interests there which must be achieved. The interest of Russia is in the lifting of the blockade from its fortress – but unfortunately for this to happen, one must attack.” Acting as if Russia can simply sit in its fortress and wait is no way to win a war, he concludes.
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Russia Bans Internet Database Archive

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Internet users in Russia will no longer be able to access a massive database of cached webpages, apparently due to one single website authorities in Moscow don’t like. Russia’s attorney general has ordered blockage of the site, known as “The Wayback Machine,” citing legislation that bans minors from accessing sites that contain pornography, sexual abuse, or extremist activities. The Wayback Machine stores cached images of webpages around the world going back as far as 1996 and contains almost 500 billion stored images. The Kremlin says the unprecedented block is needed to keep dangerous information from reaching minors online. But Russian free speech activists argue the ban is just the latest move by Moscow to erase anything on the web it finds objectionable.  According to Rublacklist.net, a censorship monitoring project run by a group known as the Russian Pirate Party, the block is due to a single cached webpage called “Solitary Jihad in Russia.” The page contains discussion of “partisan resistance”, and states that Islamic sharia law “must be instituted all across the world.” The targeted website was blocked by the Russian Internet agency Roskomnadzor in June, citing the need to protect minors. But the Wayback Machine still contains an earlier snapshot of the webpage and because it uses the HTTPS encrypted protocol, Russian authorities said they had no choice but to ban the Wayback Machine. Rublacklist.net reports access to the Wayback Machine was cut at the end of June. The San Francisco-based non-profit Internet Archive hosts the Wayback Machine. While it’s not the largest collection of cached webpages - Google estimates it has over 35 trillion - it remains popular with researchers and others for offering snapshots of what websites looked like at various points in the past. Because it captures screenshots from webpages all over the world, the Wayback Machine also gives readers a chance to read news reports from all over the world in the past, and compare them with their more local media. With the Wayback block, that information is now inaccessible to most Russians. Over the last year, Moscow has aggressively escalated its censorship of the Internet. In May, Roskomnadzor sent letters to the U.S.-based web services Twitter, Facebook, and Google, requesting large amounts of private information on Russian’s who use their services and demanding various pages deemed illegal for advocating “unsanctioned protests” in Russia be permanently taken down. Sites run by opposition leaders Garry Kasparov and Alexei Navalny, and independent media like the Ekho Moskvy radio station and Grani newspaper, have also been banned. Just this week, Vitaly Milonov, a prominent member of the Russian Duma, called for Facebook to be completely banned, due to an app that supporters of the same-sex marriage to apply a rainbow filter to their profile pictures.

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FSB and Police Informers in Russia Now to Get Pensions

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Paul Goble

Staunton, July 5 – Those who serve as informers for the Russian secret police will now receive pensions, according to a new law.By this action, Vladimir Putin simultaneously corrects a shortcoming in Soviet legislation – until now, informers couldn’t count their “service” toward a pension – while offending ordinary Russians who see their own pensions as being at risk.

“Rossiiskaya gazeta” has published the text of a new law that means those who work as informers for law-enforcement organs will be able to count that toward the receipt of the pension and that the various organs will be required to pay into the government’s general pension fund (rg.ru/2015/07/03/zuchok.html).

This change in Russian law should make it even easier for the FSB and other police agencies of the Russian state to recruit informers and thus help Putin not only fight crime and terrorism, the ostensible reasons for expanding such networks, but also spread fear of secret surveillance to an ever-larger segment of the population.


Russia Will Debate All Issues Except Its Own - The Moscow Times

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The Moscow Times

Russia Will Debate All Issues Except Its Own
The Moscow Times
The U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage has caused a great deal of excitement in Russia. That is not surprising: anti-U.S. sentiment and homophobia are the two most important ingredients in the ideological cocktail that the Kremlin ...

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Putin Urges Equality, Respect in Independence Day Message to Obama 

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President Putin called for dialogue based on equal treatment and mutual respect with the U.S. on Saturday in a congratulatory message to President Barack Obama marking U.S. Independence Day.

Russia Must Focus Less on Ukraine, More on IS (Op-Ed)

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Russia is so focused on Ukraine that it is ignoring the far greater threat posed by the Islamic State, writes columnist Natalia Antonova.

July 5, 2015

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A look at the best news photos from around the world.

Will a Finnish-Language Journal Survive in Karelia?

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Paul Goble

Staunton, July 5 – The future of Karelia’s only Finnish-language literary magazine has long been in doubt: the number of Finnish speakers there has declined to fewer than 9,000, and the Russian authorities view their support for Karelian and Wepsy media outlets instead. As a result, the frequency and tirage of “Carelia” has fallen.

But even though it currently appears only twice a year rather than ten times and with a print run of 300 copies, its editor says they are optimistic about the future because the appearance of the journal even now is “hardly a defeat as it might appear to some but on the contrary a tactic victory” (smi-pravo.ru/?p=2053).

Anatoly Tsygankov of the Center for the Defense of the Rights of Journalists and the Media interviewed Armas Mashin, the longtime editor of “Carelia” about why he thinks that he has a chance to reverse the journal’s fortunes and what his specific plans are for the coming year now that the first issue of “Carelia” in its new format has appeared.

Given the emigration of many Finns from Karelia to Finland after 1991 and Moscow’s identification of Finnish exclusively as a foreign language, the future of “Carelia” has been in doubt for much of the past decade, Mashin says. No one wants to close it lest that be viewed as an attack on Finnish culture, but few want to support it either.

For budgetary reasons, the frequency of the journal was cut from ten times a year to two, an action that sparked protests not only among Finnish speakers but also among Karelians who saw it as indicative of where Moscow was going. In order to try to save the situation, the editors decided to refocus the publication.

The just-released number is the fruit of that effort.Although less frequent, the magazine is now larger with 112 pages and 16 color inserts and more diverse: this issue featured 15 writers rather than the usual two or three and included not just short stories and novels but also reports and features. The focus of the first issue was the Finnish community of Petrozavodsk.

The 400 copies of the first issue – 300 ordered by the government and 100 additional ones – have sold out, with 80 of them going to Finland. The second issue, scheduled to appear in October, will in fact be issued in September to correspond with the 16thRussian-Finnish Forum of Culture in the Karelian republic’s capital.

Whether this represents a turning point for the better as the editor hopes or simply another twist in the slow death of “Carelia” remains to be seen, but one thing is clear: the magazine promises to be an even more important source about the Finnish community in Karelia than it was before at least as long as it lasts.
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Russia's Sberbank and VTB Cut Expenses in London Amid Sanctions Pressure 

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Russia's top state-owned banks are trimming expenses at their London offices as Western sanctions on them strangle off business and drive Russia toward economic recession, the Bloomberg news agency reported.

Глава СБУ: задержаны предатели–высшие чины Службы безопасности Украины - Коммерсантъ

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Телеграф

Глава СБУ: задержаны предатели–высшие чины Службы безопасности Украины
Коммерсантъ
Служба безопасности Украины (СБУ) расследует уголовные дела против сослуживцев, которые подозреваются в предательстве, в том числе и высшие чины спецслужбы, заявил руководитель СБУ Василий Грицак. «Сейчас расследуется более 40 уголовных дел в отношении наших ...
СБУ возбудила более 40 дел о предательстве в рядах своих сотрудниковРБК
На Украине по подозрению в предательстве арестованы высшие чины СБУГазета.Ru
По подозрению в предательстве арестованы высшие чины СБУПолит.ру
УКРАИНСКАЯ ПРАВДА -Корреспондент.net -Апостроф
Все похожие статьи: 10 »

Russia's Virtual Universe 

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Our Kremlin-controlled media turns the world on its head: Only Putin can save us from the forces of darkness.

Russia And U.S. Economic War Raging

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As tensions between Russia and the United States expand, it is increasingly clear that an economic war is being waged between the two superpowers. This is certainly not the first time that the United States and Russia have been on opposite sides of such a conflict, with the Cold War essentially being defined by two completely separate economic systems.
Russia US

Russia and U.S. energy battle

The economic battle that is currently taking shape will have global ramifications for many years to come. Energy is certainly playing a major role in this economic battle, with Moscow seeking to counteract the desire of Washington and Brussels to divide Russia from Europe. The Russian government unquestionably has massive power owing to the amount of energy exportation that it is involved in, and a lack of cooperation in this regard would certainly be damaging to numerous Western companies and countries alike.
European nations in particular are hugely reliant on Russian oil and gas in order to function. Ironically, the United States' major ally the United Kingdom derives most of its oil importations from Norway. But mainland Europe is particularly dependent on Russian exports, and it would become extremely vulnerable should the Russian government decide to alter its energy policy.
Additionally, a huge amount of economic and energy machinations are taking place under the surface. While the Western media has tended to focus on conflict in the Ukraine, Moscow has been assiduously moving its pieces into place under the radar. The Russian energy giant Gazprom has entered into critical deals with a variety of Western energy companies, which has completely undermined the efforts of Western governments to isolate Russian economically.

Russia energy deals multiply

Gazprom has clearly been making a concerted effort in recent years to be more visible in the Western marketplace. European fans of soccer in particular will recognize the brand, as it is a prominent sponsor of the Champions League tournament.
At the same time that Russian companies are establishing these important links, Russian-sponsored gas pipelines in the North and South of Europe significantly complicate the geopolitical picture. These important economic assets ensure that it is extremely difficult to alienate and isolate Russia from the existing European marketplace, and it provides the Russian government with a huge amount of political and economic power.
The tension between the United States and Russia is emblematic of a wider geopolitical chess game between the BRICS nations and the traditional Anglo-American world order which has dominated the planet over several decades. The BRICS have demanded a greater representation in global economic institutions such as the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, and have even threatened to set up their own central bank as a response to US and British isolationism.
Another aspect to this economic war is the dollar's status as world reserve currency. This has provided the United States economy with a huge advantage throughout the 20th century, but there have been suggestions in some quarters that this may end at some point. And these suggestions have not been limited to pundits. The current head of the International Monetary Fund, Christine Lagarde, has in fact stated explicitly that the United States’ “exorbitant privilege” would come to an end in the foreseeable future.

Russia accumulates gold rabidly

Perhaps anticipating this eventuality, there has been significant evidence that both Russia and China are preparing for a future in which the dollar is no longer the reserve currency. The BRICS nations have been rampantly investing in gold in particular. This perhaps goes against the economic consensus among Western economists, but it anticipates a time when the mountain of debt in the West has unravelled. At a time when many fiat currencies are incredibly vulnerable and devaluing, the Swiss franc became pegged to the Euro in April, 2011, ending what HSBC described as “the last safe haven”.
The suggestion is that Russia is hoping to introduce gold-backed reserve currency into the world economic mechanism, and that the opportunity to do this could come as the dollar loses its existing status and encounters trading difficulties. And this has not merely been a suggestion, but also something grounded in explicit statements.
Russia Vladimir Putin
In March, 2009, the UK newspaper The Daily Telegraph reported on Arkady Dvorkevich, the Russian Kremlin's chief economic adviser, commenting that Russia would like to see a return to a gold-backed currency. The Telegraph noted that “the world's fiat paper currencies have lacked any external anchor ever since (Nixon abandoned the gold standard). It is widely argued that the financial excesses and extreme debt leverage of the last quarter century would have been impossible – or less likely – under the discipline of gold”.

Vast Russian infrastructure projects

Regardless of the legitimacy of this particular plan, Russia is clearly waging a very significant energy war at present. A recent agreement between Gazprom, which is now the top gas producer in the world, and Royal Dutch Shell, to build two new gas pipelines to Germany will come to define the economic relationship between Russia and the European Union in the medium-term. Effectively, Russia has become a central cog in the German economy, and critical to Germany's industrial base.
It is also obvious that such an economic agreement will have a significant global impact. There is already an existing project related to oil and gas development in Sakhalin Island, Russia, that is essentially a Gazprom and Shell collaboration. This project only reached its full capacity last year, and the strong economic position of Gazprom, coupled with the important economic agreement it has entered into, will allow for the expansion of this arrangement.
As Russia moves to establish an energy position of significant strength, the imminent construction of the Altai Pipeline will solidify Russian and Chinese energy cooperation. The project has ultimately been described as a full-blown energy alliance, and it will supply in the region of 35 billion m³ of Russian gas from Western Siberia to China.
The United States and its economic entities have been accused of deliberately driving down the oil and gold price in order to harm Russia and China. But this has resulted in a covert economic assault from Russia, the consequences of which will continue to unfold as this conflict inevitably expands both publicly, rhetorically and strategically.
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