Saturday, January 24, 2015

At Least 29 Killed as Rebels Launch Offensive in Ukraine

At Least 29 Killed as Rebels Launch Offensive in Ukraine

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(KIEV, Ukraine) — Indiscriminate rocket fire slammed into a market, two schools, homes and shops Saturday in the eastern Ukrainian city of Mariupol, killing at least 29 people, authorities said. Ukraine’s top rebel leader announced that an offensive had begun on the strategically important port.
The attack came a day after the rebels rejected a peace deal and said they were going on a multi-prong offensive against the government in Kiev to vastly increase their territory. The rebel stance is upending European attempts to mediate an end to the fighting in eastern Ukraine, which the U.N. said Friday has killed nearly 5,100 people since April.
Mariupol, which lies on the Azov Sea, is the major city between mainland Russia and the Russia-annexed Crimean Peninsula. Heavy fighting in the region in the fall raised fears that Russian-backed separatist forces would try to take over the government-held city to establish a land link between Russia and Crimea.
The RIA Novosti news agency cited Ukrainian rebel leader Alexander Zakharchenko as saying Saturday that an offensive had begun on Mariupol. He spoke as he laid a wreath where at least eight civilians died when a bus stop was shelled in Donetsk, the largest rebel-held city in eastern Ukraine.
Rebel forces have positions within 10 kilometers (six miles) from Mariupol’s eastern outskirts.
Ukraine’s Defense Ministry said there were three separate strikes from Grad multiple-rocket launchers Saturday on Mariupol and surrounding areas.
“The area that came under attack was massive,” Mariupol mayor Yuriy Khotlubei said. “The shelling was carried out by militants. This is very clearly Russian aggression that has caused terrible losses for the residents of the eastern part of our city.”
Shortly after the attack, local authorities said around 10 people had died, but by the evening, Khotlubei announced the death toll had risen to 29. There was no immediate report of how many people died in each location.
A Ukrainian military checkpoint on a road out of the city toward rebel-held areas was also hit and one serviceman was killed, the Defense Ministry said.
Mariupol city council urged residents not to panic and to ignore rumors that Ukrainian armed forces were planning to withdraw.
“On the contrary, all units are on fully battle-ready. Security measures in the city have been strengthened,” the council said in a statement.
No armed separatist units have been noted moving toward the city, the statement added.
Responding to the attack upon Mariupol, EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini called on Russia to use its influence over the separatist leaders to halt their offensive and to desist from providing military and financial support.
Russia insists it does not support the rebels, but Western military officials say the sheer number of heavy weapons under rebel control belies that claim.
Clashes were taking place across the eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk, where separatist insurgencies emerged in April following Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula.
Fighting has also been intensifying recently for the government-held town of Debaltseve, 50 kilometers (31 miles) east of Donetsk. Main roads into the town are under separatist control and it’s feared that Ukrainian forces stationed there could soon be fully surrounded.
A peace deal signed in September in the Belarusian capital of Minsk envisaged a cease-fire and a pullout of heavy weapons from a division line in eastern Ukraine. It has been repeatedly violated by both sides, and heavy artillery and rocket barrages have increased the civilian death toll in the last few weeks.
Foreign ministers from Russia, Ukraine, France and Germany agreed Wednesday to revive that division line, but fighting has continued unabated.
On Thursday, mortars rained down on Donetsk, hitting a bus and killing several bystanders. Rebel officials said 13 were killed in that attack. Monitors from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe cited city morgue officials as saying eight bodies were received.
On Jan. 13, a bus parked near an army checkpoint north of Mariupol was hit by a shell, resulting in the death of 13 people. Ukraine blamed the rocket attack on separatists.
The OSCE’s special monitoring mission in eastern Ukraine condemned the growing number of civilian casualties and called Saturday for restraint from all sides.
Raf Casert in Brussels and Yuras Karmanau in Kiev, Ukraine, contributed to this report.
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· · ·

Why King Abdullah was buried in an unmarked grave

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You may have imagined a somewhat lavish burial for King Abdullah, the Saudi king who died Friday at the age of 90. He was, after all, one of the richest men in the history of the world.

World leaders arrives in Riyadh following death of King Abdullah 

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Dignitaries and leaders from around the world arrive in Saudi Arabia Saturday to offer their condolences to its new King Salman, a day after the death of his half-brother King Abdullah. Duration:...
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Sheldon Silver's Arrest Is Huge, But Preet Bharara Is Waging an Even Bigger Case - New York Magazine

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New York Magazine

Sheldon Silver's Arrest Is Huge, But Preet Bharara Is Waging an Even Bigger Case
New York Magazine
Preet Bharara is a bit of a prig. The trait is highly familiar in big-time New York prosecutors: Rudy Giuliani and Eliot Spitzer possessed it in spades. And it's an indispensable quality in white-collar cops — the political and financial systems need upright ...

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Cubans Appear More Relaxed in Smooth U.S. Talks 

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HAVANA — The visit of the most senior U.S. official to Cuba in 38 years gave every appearance of doing what it aimed to, drawing the nominal enemies into a distinctly Caribbean embrace, complete with broad smiles, warm body language and actual language commodious enough that everyone could fit together for a group photo.
It was a simple dance, but required coordinated footwork, which both parties appeared to have practiced in private. The good feeling on display appeared to be partly genuine and partly a concerted effort to maintain the momentum that surged up suddenly on Dec. 19, the day President Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro simultaneously announced their intention to end a half century of what one U.S. diplomat termed “diplomatic estrangement” and, finally, re-establish formal ties. As formal talks proceed toward making the changes that the Cubans and Obama are free to make on their own—such as re-opening embassies in one another’s capitals, a primary topic in Havana on Thursday—officials of both governments privately acknowledge a secondary, over-arching intention. That would be to aim to sustain if not further swell the wave of public enthusiasm, leaving the U.S. Congress scant alternative but to repeal the 1960 Cuba Embargo Act that barred almost all exports to the emerging communist state.
Which made for some peculiar sights at the colorless Havana convention center where the delegations spent most of Wednesday and Thursday. Scores if not hundreds of journalists had gathered in the Hotel Pabco waiting for something that has never happened in any previous U.S.-Cuba talks: a press briefing. Longtime Cuba watchers were gobsmacked by the spectacle of a room crowded with video cameras and reporters’ laptops. On the sidelines, senior Cuban officials smiled sheepishly. This was after all the land of the Central Committee communiqué, not to say diktats. “Usually,” said one senior official, “we don’t have a culture of informing the press.”
And yet, they proved pretty good at it—better than the Americans, on this day at least. Havana put forward youthful Josefina Vidal, head of the U.S. Division in the Foreign Ministry, and though she was never less than correct, she was also warm and apparently at ease. She spoke first in Spanish, then in English. The English was more direct: “It was a first meeting,” she said at one point, cutting what could have been four paragraphs into one. “This is a process. So we just made a list of things we have to do, when.”
By contrast, the top U.S. diplomat stood stock-still before the cameras, answered questions in detail, but betrayed not the merest hint she was happy to be here. Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemispheric Affairs Roberta Jacobson appeared to recognize her most dangerous audience was theanti-Castro Lobby that for five decades had blocked the kind of rapprochement of which she has been made the face. It was as if she had the sense that the merest smile line would create traction for naysayers watching from Capitol Hill, calling it evidence democracy had been undermined.
The Cubans acknowledged the peculiarity of their side appearing more transparent than the Americans, but also signaled they understood why. The official offered an explanation on the relative powers of the U.S. system of government so often lost on Americans: “The power in the U.S. is not with the president,” the senior official observed. “It’s with a class. Don’t be fooled.”
And so, let the momentum go forward, from Havana to Miami and up the seaboard to Washington. After the Dec. 19 joint stunner, both governments moved with unusual dispatch—exchanging prisoners, papers, and statements of good will. President Obama took only a few days to re-write regulations that now allow Americans to fly to Havana without Washington’s permission—no great rush evident quite yet, but demand is clearly there—and opened previously closed gateways to electronics and other goods. “That’s what he’s allowed to do,” the senior Cuban official observed. Another executive action, Cuba’s place on the State Department’s list of states sponsoring terrorism, is already under review.
At the same time, in a sop to the Miami lobby, the American delegation conspicuously made good on Obama’s vow to continue to harp on Havana’s human rights record. On Friday morning, Jacobsonhad seven Cuban dissidents to breakfast at the splendid tropic compound that will once again be the ambassador’s residence if Washington and Havana re-establish formal diplomatic ties—the move perhaps most easily accomplished, despite the nations’ complex history. Prominent in the sculpted garden of the dining room was a broad wooden American Eagle said to be salvaged from the USS Maine, the destruction of which became the casus belli for the Spanish-American War.
The attention to human rights clearly irks the Cubans, who blame their government’s paranoia on a long and colorful history of U.S. intelligence operations aimed at bringing it down. But like both sides, they appear prepared to file the dispute under “profound disagreements” that can be addressed from embassies at least as well as Interests Sections, the cumbersome arrangement through which Cuban and American diplomats operate now in each other’s capitals, beneath the protection of the Swiss. No timetables were offered, but the next round, perhaps in DC, may address technical matters.
For the moment, the focus remains on keeping things clicking along toward a kind of “normality.” At a news conference at the residence on Friday, after the breakfast with dissidents, Jacobson thawed a good deal answering a question on the Embargo Act, projecting sympathy if not empathy for anyone trying to square Obama’s executive changes with persistent existence of that legislation.
But the Cubans have patience. “”It’s a good sign,” said one other senior official, smiling wryly. “We have nothing to lose.”
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· · · ·

Netanyahu-White House relations hit new low

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President Barack Obama and U.S. officials were completely blindsided by the announcement that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will come to Washington to address a joint session of Congress this spring -- a move that's rattled the White House and diplomatic officials.

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Page 2

16 killed in shelling in Ukraine, officials say

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At least 16 people have been killed in shelling in the southeastern Ukrainian city of Mariupol, city officials said Saturday, in the latest violence to rock the disputed Donetsk region.

Sarah Palin and Donald Trump both interested in 2016 runs - CNN

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Sarah Palin and Donald Trump both interested in 2016 runs
Washington (CNN) With a Clinton, a Bush and a Romney all seriously teasing presidential runs, why not a Palin? Why not, indeed. Sarah Palin, the former Alaska governor and 2008 GOP vice presidential candidate was asked by ABC News if she's interested ...

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Trump: 'No way' Bush, Romney would win in 2016 - Fox News

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ABC News

Trump: 'No way' Bush, Romney would win in 2016
Fox News
DES MOINES, Iowa – Donald Trump slammed potential 2016 Republican presidential candidates Mitt Romney and Jeb Bush, telling a sold-out crowd Saturday at the Iowa Freedom Summit there is “no way” they would win. “The last thing we need is another ...
In Iowa, Trump Promises to 'Surprise a Lot of People'Bloomberg
Donald Trump: 'Strongly Inclined' to Run For President in 2016KMBZ
Trump says people 'certainly should' take his potential candidacy seriouslyRadio Iowa Review Online
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Unlikely buddies Obama and Modi aim high on India trip

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NEW DELHI (Reuters) - In a fresh bid to make India an enduring strategic partner, U.S. President Barack Obama lands in New Delhi on Sunday for a highly symbolic parade and to nurture friendship with a prime minister who until last year was persona non grata in Washington.


Two Women Killed, Six People Wounded in Omaha Shooting -

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U.S. News & World Report

Two Women Killed, Six People Wounded in Omaha Shooting
Two women were killed and six people were injured in an early Saturday morning shooting at a home in Omaha, Nebraska, police said. Cops were called to a house in the northwest part of Nebraska's biggest city at 1:44 a.m. (2:44 a.m. ET), when they found ...
Eight persons shot at home in Nebraska Two ladies diedNational Review
Libyan extremist group says leader has been killedKSWO
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This is the gruesome aftermath of another rocket strike on civilians in eastern Ukraine 

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KYIV — Ukrainian officials say at least 30 civilians were killed Saturday in an artillery strike on a port city in eastern Ukraine, just as a top pro-Russian rebel leader announced a new offensive in the area. 
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Page 3

Human Rights Groups Press Obama on India

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As President Obama visits India to improve the strained relationship between the two countries, some human rights groups hope their concerns are not swept under the rug.

Ten killed in eastern Ukraine as Russian separatists bombard key city of Mariupol

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Ten people have been killed after pro-Russian separatists bombarded the east Ukrainian port city of Mariupol, the head of the Donetsk regional police has said.

Минобороны Украины заявило об обезвреживании 600 ополченцев за шесть дней - Газета.Ru

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Минобороны Украины заявило об обезвреживании 600 ополченцев за шесть дней
В минобороны Украины заявили, что в период с 17 по 22 января украинским военным удалось обезвредить около 600 ополченцев. Об этом сообщается на сайте ведомства. Кроме того, по данным минобороны, 275 человек были ранены. «Окончательная численность потерь может быть ...
Минобороны: на Донбассе уничтожены 600 боевиков и военных РФЛІГА.net
Киев и Донецк спорят о числе погибших и раненных в боях за юго-востокНТВ.ru
600 террористов и военных России уничтожили на ДонбассеПодробности
РИА Новости -Главред -РБК Украина
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Ukraine accuses pro-Russia rebels of deadly shelling in port city of Mariupol - Washington Post

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Ukraine accuses pro-Russia rebels of deadly shelling in port city of Mariupol
Washington Post
MOSCOW — Ukrainian officials accused pro-Russian rebels of launching a deadly shelling Saturday against Mariupol, just one day after rebel leaders rejected an existing cease-fire agreement and promised to push their offensive all the way to the ...
Shelling kills at least 21 in Ukraine as pro-Russia rebels launch new offensiveHaaretz
Pro-Russia rebels go on new offensive in UkraineColumbus Dispatch
Ukraine: 10, Including Children, Killed as Pro-Russia Rebels Fire Rockets into ...International Business Times, India Edition
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News Analysis: How Best To Help Ukraine Is The $50 Billion Question 

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Can tens of billions of dollars in Western aid jumpstart Ukraine's embattled economy or does Kyiv need the current crisis as a stimulus to implement reforms that it has avoided for the past two decades?

Евросоюз призывает прекратить эскалацию насилия в Украине - Актуальные новости - периодическое издание о событиях в мире

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РБК Украина

Евросоюз призывает прекратить эскалацию насилия в Украине
Актуальные новости - периодическое издание о событиях в мире
Официальный представитель внешнеполитической службы Евросоюза 23-го января, в пятницу вечером заявил, что напрасно теряется время в восточных районах Украины, в которых эскалация вооруженных столкновений привела к очень большому количеству жертв среди мирного ...
ЕС призвал Россию помочь остановить конфликт на УкраинеBBC Russian
Могерини призвала стороны украинского конфликта "остановить спираль насилия"Внешнеэкономические связи
ЕС призывает остановить насилие на Украине и отвести тяжелое вооружениеНовостной проект
Реальная политика -Интернет-газета Гарри Каспарова -piter-piter
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Page 4

Spain arrests four in swoop of suspected militant cell in north Africa 

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Police in Spain's north African enclave of Ceuta arrested four men on Saturday suspected of belonging to a militant Islamist network that may have been planning an attack in Spain, the interior ministry said. Spain has stepped up security as well as efforts to prevent the radicalization of young Muslim citizens following attacks in Paris this month in which Islamist gunmen killed 17 people. "The four men, of Spanish nationality and Moroccan origin, have a very similar profile to those who carried out the attacks in Paris," the interior ministry said in a statement. Video released by the police showed around a dozen heavily-armed officers shining searchlights into windows before storming two houses in the narrow streets of Ceuta before dawn on Saturday. Police found a gun, combat uniforms, Spanish car license plates and machetes when they made the arrests. "They are two pairs of brothers, highly radicalized and highly trained," Interior Minister Jorge Fernandez Diaz told reporters. The brothers, as part of a network, carried out aggressive campaigns on Internet forums using Islamic State slogans to recruit people to fight in Syria and Iraq and carry out attacks in Western countries, the ministry said. Their activities are still under investigation. Spain is among a number of European countries struggling to deter young Muslim citizens from becoming jihadists in Syria or Iraq, fearing they might return to plot attacks on home soil. The Spanish cabinet has said it will put forward a plan to counter radicalisation among Muslim citizens at its weekly meeting next Friday. Spanish and Moroccan police arrested seven people in December in a joint operation to prevent the recruitment of women to go to Syria and Iraq to support Islamic State insurgents there. Last September, Spanish police arrested nine people suspected of belonging to a militant cell linked to Islamic State in Melilla, another Spanish enclave on the northern coast of Africa.

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· ·

Ukraine Live Day Day 341: Russian-Backed Forces Continue Push into Ukraine 

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Yesterday’s live coverage of the Ukraine conflict can be found here. An archive of our liveblogs can be found here. For an overview and analysis of this developing story see our latest podcast.
Please help The Interpreter to continue providing this valuable information service by making a donation towards our costs.

View Ukraine: April, 2014 in a larger map
For links to individual updates click on the timestamps.
For the latest summary of evidence surrounding the shooting down of flight MH17 see our separate article:Evidence Review: Who Shot Down MH17?

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Контактная группа по Украине призывает организовать срочную встречу - Комсомольская правда

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Комсомольская правда

Контактная группа по Украине призывает организовать срочную встречу
Комсомольская правда
Участники трехсторонней группы по Украине призвали стороны конфликта срочно встретиться и обсудить прекращение боевых действий. "Трехсторонняя контактная группа призывает немедленно прекратить ведущиеся боевые действия и провести встречу всех подписантов минских ...
Трехстороння контактная группа настаивает на безотлагательной встрече с боевикамиСЕГОДНЯ
Контактная группа предложила представителям ДНР и ЛНР провести срочную встречуИнтерфакс
Трехсторонняя группа призвала подписантов минских соглашений срочно провести встречуРБК Украина
Взгляд -Свежие новости сегодня. Последние новости интернет издания "Fresh-News"
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Spanish Police Arrest Brothers Suspected of Planning Jihad

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Spain’s Interior Ministry said the police in its North African enclave arrested four men suspected of belonging to a militant Islamist network that may have been planning an attack.

Британская газета узнала о существовании доказательств причастности Кремля к убийству Литвиненко13 - Postimees

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Британская газета узнала о существовании доказательств причастности Кремля к убийству Литвиненко13
Американские и британские спецслужбы располагают доказательствами причастности России к смерти бежавшего на Запад бывшего сотрудника спецслужб РФ Александра Литвиненко. Об этом пишет в субботу британская газета The Daily Telegraph со ссылкой на данные переписки ...

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Спикер Рады созывает депутатов на внеочередное заседание после обстрела Мариуполя - Газета.Ru

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Спикер Рады созывает депутатов на внеочередное заседание после обстрела Мариуполя
Спикер Верховной рады Владимир Гройсман призвал народных депутатов быть готовыми к проведению внеочередного заседания парламента по итогам заседания Совета национальной безопасности и обороны Украины. Об этом он написал в свое фейсбуке. «Я дал поручение ...
Спикер Рады поручил аппарату созвать депутатов на внеочередное заседаниеКоммерсантъ
Спикер Рады поручил созвать депутатов на внеочередное заседаниеРИА Новости
Гройсман анонсировал внеочередное заседание Верховной РадыСЕГОДНЯ
УНИАН -РБК Украина -Подробности
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