Category Archives: European Union

EU renews sanctions on Zimbabwe, Mugabe

Reuters reports:

‘[…] Since imposing sanctions in 2002 over electoral fraud and human rights abuses, the EU has eased measures to encourage political reform in Zimbabwe, although it has kept its ban on Mugabe and his wife Grace, as well as an arms embargo.

This week it gave Zimbabwe 234 million euros (173.62 million pounds) in aid, its first since sanctions were imposed. And earlier this month, EU officials said that the 90-year-old president might be allowed in on an exceptional basis during his year-long chairmanship of the African Union, if traveling on AU business.

The Official Journal, however, made clear EU governments are not yet convinced that Mugabe had changed enough to merit a final lifting of restrictions.’

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Libya: Hillary Clinton’s WMD Moment?

Egypt’s Sisi: It’s Time to Correct NATO’s Mistakes in Libya

All Africa reports:

President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi said on Monday that it is time to correct the mistakes made by the NATO in Libya.

“The NATO operation in Libya was not complete, which led the North African country to fall under the control of militant and extremist groups,” Sisi said during his meeting with French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian.

Sisi’s remarks came after the Egyptian air force carried out earlier on Monday airstrikes on Daesh hotbeds in Libya in retaliation to the beheading of 21 Egyptian nationals who had been kidnapped in the Libyan city of Sirte.’

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Libyan Chaos and the Un-Islamic State: Interview with Vijay Prashad

Editor’s Note: Vijay Prashad is a historian, journalist and commentator. He is the author of many books including “Arab Spring, Libyan Winter” ( which you can download here). In this interview, recorded Feb 17/18th, Prashad states that the 2011 NATO intervention in Libya destroyed the Libyan state and created the conditions for radical Islamist groups to thrive. He also says that Libya today reminds him of Afghanistan 25 years ago after the Soviet withdrawl which was awash with weapons and fighters jostling for control of the country

Meet The Forces That Are Pushing Obama Towards A New Cold War

Christian Stork writes for Medium:

‘[…] Moscow’s national-security interests are clear. Washington’s are as well, albeit unrelated to the security of the nation in any meaningful sense. Given the stakes, the hard line being pushed against Russia can’t solely be attributed to “Great Game” strategy — the long-running chess battle to control global energy flows.

Different players have different motives. At times they overlap; elsewhere they diverge.

As for those in the K Street elite pushing Uncle Sam to confront the bear, it isn’t hard to see what they have to gain: Just take a look at the history behind their Beltway-bandit benefactors.’

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‘Guantanamo of the East': Ukraine Locks Up Refugees at EU’s Behest

Maximilian Popp reports for Spiegel:

Most asylum seekers trying to make their way to Europe take the dangerous route...‘[…] The European Union has provided Ukraine with €30 million ($34 million) in funding, which Kiev is using to build and renovate migrant detention centers, along with other facilities where they are housed temporarily. The International Organization for Migration received several million euros to support Ukrainian authorities in such areas as the internment of undocumented migrants. Brussels is apparently hoping that the system will reduce the number of asylum seekers in Europe — without attracting too much attention.

In 2010, the human rights organization Human Rights Watch criticized the EU for investing millions to divert flows of refugees from Europe toward Ukraine, while neglecting to take sufficient steps to ensure the humane treatment of refugees in Ukraine.

The refugee crisis along the eastern edge of Europe could now escalate in the course of the Ukraine conflict. The government in Kiev has its hands full caring for almost a million internally displaced persons fleeing the fighting between government troops and rebels in eastern Ukraine. It is hardly capable of providing for asylum-seekers from the Middle East and African countries, as well, warns Ilya Todorovich, the UNHCR representative in Ukraine.’

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Hailed as a Model for Successful Intervention, Libya Proves to be the Exact Opposite

Glenn Greenwald writes for The Intercept:

‘[…] Since 2011, Libya has rapidly unraveled in much the way Iraq did following that invasion: swamped by militia rule, factional warfare, economic devastation, and complete lawlessness. And to their eternal shame, most self-proclaimed “humanitarians” who advocated the Libya intervention completely ignored the country once the fun parts — the war victory dances and mocking of war opponents — were over. The feel-good “humanitarianism” of war advocates, as usual, extended only to the cheering from a safe distance as bombs dropped.

The unraveling of Libya is now close to absolute. Yesterday, the same New York Times editorial page that supported the intervention quoted the U.N.’s Libya envoy Bernardino León as observing: “Libya is falling apart. Politically, financially, the economic situation is disastrous.” TheNYT editors forgot to mention that they supported the intervention, but did note that “Libya’s unraveling has received comparatively little attention over the past few months.” In other words, the very same NATO countries that dropped bombs on Libya in order to remove its government collectively ignored the aftermath once their self-celebrations were over.

Into the void of Libya’s predictable disintegration has stepped ISIS, among other groups.’

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Witness Says Cartoonist Was The Main Target In Copenhagen Shooting

Bomber Harris: “I would have destroyed Dresden again”

From The Daily Mail in 2013:

Reduced to rubble: The 'blanket bombing' of Dresden was widely criticised as civilian areas were hit as well as military targetsThe RAF commander who ordered the controversial fire-bombing of Dresden which killed an estimated 25,000 civilians during World War II said he would do it again in a long lost interview filmed 30 years after the end of the conflict.

Former marshal of the Royal Air Force, Sir Arthur ‘Bomber’ Harris, gave the green light for the 1945 bombing which reduced the city in Saxony, Germany, to rubble.

The attack was widely criticised because of ‘blanket bombing’ which hit civilian areas as well as military targets – killing thousands of innocents.

But the newly-discovered interview with Sir Arthur, which was filmed in 1977 and will be aired for the first time on the BBC tonight, shows the RAF chief defending his decision.’

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Kurt Vonnegut on the Bombing of Dresden and Slaughterhouse-Five

Is Your Child a Terrorist? U.S. Government Questionnaire Rates Families at Risk for Extremism

Murtaza Hussain, Cora Currier, and Jana Winter report for The Intercept:

Are you, your family or your community at risk of turning to violent extremism? That’s the premise behind a rating system devised by the National Counterterrorism Center, according to a document marked For Official Use Only and obtained by The Intercept.

The document–and the rating system–is part of a wider strategy for Countering Violent Extremism, which calls for local community and religious leaders to work together with law enforcement and other government agencies. The White House has made this approach a centerpiece of its response to terrorist attacks around the world and in the wake of the Paris attacks, announced plans to host an international summit on Countering Violent Extremism on February 18th.’

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Greece: The True Face of Golden Dawn

Editor’s Note: This report by Channel 4 News was first published in March 2013. 

Banking Giant HSBC Sheltered Murky Cash Linked to Dictators and Arms Dealers

The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists reports:

Swiss Leaks‘Secret documents reveal that global banking giant HSBC profited from doing business with arms dealers who channeled mortar bombs to child soldiers in Africa, bag men for Third World dictators, traffickers in blood diamonds and other international outlaws.

The leaked files, based on the inner workings of HSBC’s Swiss private banking arm, relate to accounts holding more than $100 billion. They provide a rare glimpse inside the super-secret Swiss banking system — one the public has never seen before.

The documents, obtained by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists via the French newspaper Le Monde, show the bank’s dealings with clients engaged in a spectrum of illegal behavior, especially in hiding hundreds of millions of dollars from tax authorities. They also show private records of famed soccer and tennis players, cyclists, rock stars, Hollywood actors, royalty, politicians, corporate executives and old-wealth families.

These disclosures shine a light on the intersection of international crime and legitimate business, and they dramatically expand what’s known about potentially illegal or unethical behavior in recent years at HSBC, one of the world’s largest banks.’

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HSBC files show bank helped clients dodge millions in tax

Hungary: The baby that divided a nation

Nick Thorpe reports for BBC Magazine:

Rikardo Racz[…] Rikardo Racz was born at one minute past midnight, five weeks ago, and thus became the first baby born in Hungary this year. National, as well as local media noted his birth and a photo of Peter and his wife Sylvia holding Rikardo made the front pages.

Then Elod Novak, deputy leader of the far-right Jobbik party, posted that picture beside one of himself, his wife and three children on Facebook, mentioned that Rikardo was the third child of a 23-year-old Gypsy mother, then added: “The number of Hungarians is not just falling disastrously, but soon we will become a minority in our own homes. When will the day come when they decide to change Hungary’s name? And when will we finally tackle our country’s biggest problem?”

This provoked an avalanche of both condemnation, and approval. Rikardo’s birth seemed to hold up a mirror in which both Hungarian racism and anti-racism were reflected.’

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Libya: The Humanitarian War (Documentary)

Hillary Clinton’s claims justifying Libya war doubted by Pentagon and Congress, secret tapes reveal

Jeffrey Scott Shapiro and Kelly Riddell report for The Washington Times:

Top Pentagon officials and a senior Democrat in Congress so distrusted Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s 2011 march to war in Libya that they opened their own diplomatic channels with the Gadhafi regime in an effort to halt the escalating crisis, according to secret audio recordings recovered from Tripoli.

The tapes, reviewed by The Washington Times and authenticated by the participants, chronicle U.S. officials’ unfiltered conversations with Col. Moammar Gadhafi’s son and a top Libyan leader, including criticisms that Mrs. Clinton had developed tunnel vision and led the U.S. into an unnecessary war without adequately weighing the intelligence community’s concerns.

“You should see these internal State Department reports that are produced in the State Department that go out to the Congress. They’re just full of stupid, stupid facts,” an American intermediary specifically dispatched by the Joint Chiefs of Staff told the Gadhafi regime in July 2011, saying the State Department was controlling what intelligence would be reported to U.S. officials.

At the time, the Gadhafi regime was fighting a civil war that grew out of the Arab Spring, battling Islamist-backed rebels who wanted to dethrone the longtime dictator. Mrs. Clinton argued that Gadhafi might engage in genocide and create a humanitarian crisis and ultimately persuaded President Obama, NATO allies and the United Nations to authorize military intervention.’

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What If Putin Doesn’t Back Down?

Scott McConnel writes for The American Conservative:

Photo: the Russian Presidential Press and Information OfficeWhat if Vladimir Putin really was tough? What if he would prefer to fight to the death rather than see his country humiliated by the West or his regime collapse into chaos—outcomes he likely regards as equivalent. Is this not possible? There is no shortage of American politicians ready to attribute the most vile traits to Putin: Hillary Clinton, far from America’s most extreme rhetorician, likened him to Hitler. It’s not, of course, a remotely legitimate comparison. But if Putin were one-tenth as reckless as he is commonly depicted, what conclusions ought we to draw?

Leading papers of the Anglosphere are now promoting American plans to escalate the fight against Russia and its Ukraine intervention. Former government officials, polishing up their tough-minded credentials in preparation for their next administration job, recommend we begin major weapons shipments to Ukraine. Are trainers and advisers on how to use them included as well? Strobe Talbott in theWashington PostIvo Dalder in the Financial Times, the Washington Post editorial board, other major figures from Clinton-land and the permanent government are all on board for a major roll-out. Their idea is to make Russia pay a higher price in casualties if it continues to intervene on behalf of anti-Kiev rebels in the eastern parts of Ukraine.’

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NATO Plans to Open Georgia Training Center by Year’s End

Jason Ditz reports for Antiwar:

NATO Deputy Secretary General Alexander Vershbow announced today that the alliance intends to open a new military training center in the Republic of Georgia by year’s end, threatening to add to NATO-Russia tensions.

Officials say this is part of an effort to strengthen both their relationship with Georgia and the nation’s military capabilities. Georgia’s military was largely destroyed during the brief 2008 Russo-Georgian War.’

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US Defense Secretary concerned about possible split in NATO

Lolita C. Baldor reports for AP:

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Thursday he is worried about a potential division within NATO as countries in the north want to focus on the growing threat from Russia, while other alliance members in the south are more worried about the influx of foreign fighters from northern Africa.

In his final appearance at a NATO meeting as secretary, Hagel delivered a sobering message to the allies, saying they must be able to address all challenges on all fronts at the same time.

“I am very concerned by the suggestion that this alliance can choose to focus on only one of these areas as our top priority,” Hagel said at a news conference in Brussels. “This is a time for unity, shared purpose, and wise, long-term investments across the spectrum of military capability.”‘

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Top NATO General, European DMs Oppose US Plans to Arm Ukraine

Jason Ditz reports for Antiwar:

[…] Top NATO General Philip Breedlove, who interestingly enough was said to be the driving force behind the US sending arms to Ukraine in the first place, also talked down the idea in comments, saying arming the Ukrainian military risked a reaction from Russia to provide more aid to the rebels.

Virtually all of the European DMs opposed the plan, though Lithuanian DM Juozas Olekas said his nation supported the plan to provide “some elements” to the Ukrainian military.’

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Is Ukraine a Proxy Western-Russia War? Interview with Stephen Cohen

Editor’s Note: This is just a ten minute clip of Stephen Cohen’s interview with Democracy Now! You can watch the full interview here.

U.S. Mulls Sending Ukraine Anti-Tank Missiles, Other Weapons

Jason Ditz reports for Antiwar:

[…] The Ukrainian military has been struggling against eastern rebels in recent weeks, and the Pentagon argues that a plan to send javelin anti-tank missiles and small arms to them would “deter” the rebels and put the Ukrainian military back in the driver’s seat.

Other advisers warn that adding more weaponry to the civil war won’t necessarily “solve” the problem, and say the Pentagon’s plan to arm the military could force Russia’s hand into providing more direct weaponry to the rebels, escalating what is in many ways already a proxy war.’

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‘Suppressed’ EU report could have banned pesticides worth billions

Arthur Neslen reports for The Guardian:

As many as 31 pesticides with a value running into billions of pounds could have been banned because of potential health risks, if a blocked EU paper on hormone-mimicking chemicals had been acted upon, the Guardian has learned.

The science paper, seen by the Guardian, recommends ways of identifying and categorising the endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) that scientists link to a rise in foetal abnormalities, genital mutations, infertility, and adverse health effects ranging from cancer to IQ loss.

Commission sources say that the paper was buried by top EU officials under pressure from big chemical firms which use EDCs in toiletries, plastics and cosmetics, despite an annual health cost that studies peg at hundreds of millions of euros.’

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Former IMF Chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn To Face Trial On Pimping Charges

Spanish Anti-Austerity Party Rally Draws Tens Of Thousands

Afghans live in peril among unexploded NATO bombs that litter countryside

Sune Engel Rasmussen reports for The Guardian:

unexploded ordnance awareness class in Kabul[…] Since 2001, the coalition has dropped about 20,000 tonnes of ammunition over Afghanistan. Experts say about 10% of munitions do not detonate: some malfunction, others land on sandy ground. Foreign soldiers have also used valleys, fields and dry riverbeds as firing ranges and left them peppered with undetonated ammunition.

Statistics from the UN-backed Mine Action Coordination Centre of Afghanistan (Macca) show there were 369 casualties in the past year, including 89 deaths. The rate rose significantly in October and November when 93 people were injured, 84 of them children. Twenty died.’

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Putin: Ukraine army is NATO legion aimed at restraining Russia

RT reports:

Members of the Ukrainian armed forces drive armored vehicles in the town of Volnovakha, eastern Ukraine (Reuters / Alexander Ermochenko)‘The Ukrainian army is essentially a ‘NATO legion’ which doesn’t pursue the national interests of Ukraine, but persists to restrict Russia, President Vladimir Putin says.

“We often say: Ukrainian Army, Ukrainian Army. But who is really fighting there? There are, indeed, partially official units of armed forces, but largely there are the so-called ‘volunteer nationalist battalions’,” said Putin.

He added that the intention of Ukrainian troops is connected with “achieving the geopolitical goals of restraining Russia.” Putin was addressing students in the city of St. Petersburg.

According to Putin, the Ukrainian army “is not an army, but a foreign legion, in this case a foreign NATO legion, which, of course, doesn’t pursue the national interests of Ukraine.”’

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Henry Kissinger, Mikhail Gorbachev separately warn about Ukraine crisis blowing out of control

The National Post reports:

Former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. left, and former leader of the Soviet Union Mikhail Gorbachev both had dire warnings about the situation in Ukraine.As Russian-backed rebels scored another victory is Eastern Ukraine Thursday, two giants of 20th-century geopolitics issued separate warnings about the crisis, suggesting it could evolve into a deeper, direct conflict between the United States and Russia with dangerous consequences.

Testifying at a U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, Henry Kissinger, an ardent Cold Warrior who was Richard Nixon’s main foreign policy advisor, stopped short of endorsing a call by the committee chairman, Republican Senator John McCainof Arizona, to provide defensive weapons to Ukraine’s military as it battles Russian-backed separatists.

[…] Meanwhile, former Russian leader Mikhail Gorbachev told Russia’s Interfax news agency that the West had “dragged” Russia into a new Cold War, one that risked outright confrontation.’

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Greece shows what can happen when the young revolt against corrupt elites

Paul Mason writes for The Guardian:

‘[…] The fact that a party with a “central committee” even got close to power has nothing to do with a sudden swing to Marxism in the Greek psyche. It is, instead, testimony to three things: the strategic crisis of the eurozone, the determination of the Greek elite to cling to systemic corruption, and a new way of thinking among the young.

Of these, the eurozone’s crisis is easiest to understand – because its consequences can be read so easily in the macroeconomic figures. The IMF predicted Greece would grow as the result of its aid package in 2010. Instead, the economy has shrunk by 25%. Wages are down by the same amount. Youth unemployment stands at 60% – and that is among those who are still in the country.’

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