Daily Archives: February 1, 2014

Ukraine official: Russia has launched ‘armed invasion’ in Crimea

An armed man patrols at the airport in Simferopol, Crimea. A group of armed men in military uniforms have seized the main regional airport in Simferopol - Feb. 28, 2014

An armed man patrols at the airport in Simferopol, Crimea. A group of armed men in military uniforms have seized the main regional airport in Simferopol – Feb. 28, 2014

Russian troops moved into Crimea Friday, U.S. officials told Fox News, prompting Ukraine to accuse Russia of an “armed invasion.”

At the White House, President Obama said the U.S. government is “deeply concerned” by reports of Russian “military movements” and warned any violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty would be “deeply destabilizing.”

“There will be costs” for any military intervention, he said, without specifying what those costs might be.

U.S. officials told Fox News they see “evidence of air and maritime movement into and out of Crimea by Russian forces” although the Pentagon declined to officially “characterize” the movement.

Agence France Press quoted a top Ukranian official as saying Russian aircraft carrying nearly 2,000 suspected troops have landed at a military air base near the regional capital of the restive Crimean peninsula.

“Thirteen Russian aircraft landed at the airport of Gvardeyskoye (near Simferopol) with 150 people in each one,” Sergiy Kunitsyn, the Ukrainian president’s special representative in Crimea, told the local ATR television channel, according to AFP. He accused Russia of an “armed invasion.”

The new developments prompted Ukraine to accuse Russia of a “military invasion and occupation” — a claim that brought an alarming new dimension to the crisis.

Russia kept silent on claims of military intervention, even as it maintained its hard-line stance on protecting ethnic Russians in Crimea, a peninsula of Ukraine on the northern coast of the Black Sea.

A spokesman for the Ukrainian border service said eight Russian transport planes have landed in Crimea with unknown cargo.

Serhiy Astakhov told The Associated Press that the Il-76 planes arrived unexpectedly Friday and were given permission to land, one after the other, at Gvardeiskoye air base, north of the regional capital, Simferopol.

Astakhov said the people in the planes refused to identify themselves and waved off customs officials, saying they didn’t require their services.

Earlier in the day, Russian armored vehicles rumbled across Crimea and reports surfaced of troops being deployed at airports and a coast guard base – signs of a more heavy-handed approach to the crisis from Moscow.

Ukraine’s U.N. ambassador Yuriy Sergeyev told the U.N. Security Council that Russian military helicopters and transport planes are entering his country, that neither major airport in Ukraine is under national control and that the main airport was “captured by Russian armed forces.”

He claimed 11 Russian military helicopters had been brought in along with M-24 military transport planes.

Armed gunmen took control of the two main airports in Crimea Friday. However, Russia has so far been silent on the claims of military involvement. No violence was reported at the civilian airport in Crimea’s capital of Simferopol or at the military airport in the Black Sea port of Sevastopol, also part of Crimea. At the Simferopol airport, a man claiming to speak for the camouflage-clad forces patrolling the airport described them as Crimean militiamen.

Meanwhile, ousted Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych surfaced in Russia Friday, thundering defiantly against the “pro-fascist hooligans” who drove him from office.

Yanukovych warned of the dangers of “irresponsible Western policy” as he vowed to continue the fight for Ukraine’s future Friday at a press conference in Rostov-on-don, Russia—his first public appearance since last Saturday.

“I intend to keep fighting for the future of Ukraine against those who are using fear and terror to seize the country,” he told reporters.

The fugitive leader said he was forced to leave Ukraine due to threats, Reuters reported. He blamed the country’s crisis on “irresponsible Western policy,” and said he trusted the “decency of Western mediators” when he signed a peace deal last week brokered by members of the European Union. But recent actions by the opposition run counter to the agreement, he said.

Yanukovych said he does not plan to ask Russia for military support in dealing with the crisis in Ukraine, where he said power was stolen by “a bunch of radicals.”

“Fascist hooligans” have taken power in Ukraine, Yanukovych told reporters, according to the BBC.

via Ukraine official: Russia has launched ‘armed invasion’ in Crimea | Fox News.

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Under siege: Iraqi military prepares raid on militant-held Fallujah

The Iraqi army is preparing to raid the city of Fallujah to end a month-long standoff with al-Qaeda-linked militants controlling Anbar province, officials said. The anti-govt militants inside the city were sent a “final warning” to lay down their weapons.

Areas in the Anbar province west of Baghdad have been occupied by the members of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and other anti-government Islamic militants and tribesmen not affiliated with Al-Qaeda since late December.

“That’s it,” a top security official told Reuters on Saturday. “[Militants] were given enough time to make their choice, but they failed.”

A decision had been made to storm Fallujah by 1500 GMT on Sunday, an official said on condition of anonymity.

Those inside the city have been sent a “final warning” to lay down their weapons and leave the city, seizing the opportunity to get amnesty, official added. Whoever remains in Fallujah and offers resistance will be treated as a militant.

“The message was clear, we offered them to leave the city and be a part of the national reconciliation project,” the security official said. “But, if anyone insists on fighting our forces, he will be considered an ISIL militant whether he is or not.”

Government troops deployed in the area also confirmed they received orders to be ready for an offensive.

“We are prepared to enter any minute,” one of the soldiers told Reuters. “Some of our troops in southern and southeastern Fallujah have already moved in closer to the city.”

The government is preparing to intensify airstrikes on the city, clearing the ground for an assault by special forces. “We expect to engage in a fierce battle in the southern areas of the city where militants are holed up,” SWAT officer told Reuters on condition of anonymity.

Two weeks ago, Iraq’s deputy interior minister warned that ISIL have adequate weaponry to siege the capital Baghdad. “The weapons that were brought inside Fallujah are huge and advanced and frankly enough to occupy Baghdad,” Adnan Al-Asadi said.

Up until now, Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has been hesitant to launch a full-scale assault on the city, instead hoping that the local tribes change their mind and expel militants from the area. Maliki also appealed for international support and weapons to help resolve the crisis, prompting the US to accelerate it military supplies to Iraq. Since its withdrawal from Iraq, the United States has donated more than $14 billion worth of weapons to the embattled country.

So far, the standoff in Anbar province has seen hundreds of people killed and forced more than 140,000 people to flee their homes, the UN refugee agency said.

Overall, violence in Iraq has been on the rise over the past year and January became the deadliest month since April 2008, with suicide bombings and other violence across Iraq having claimed the lives of more than 1,000 people, almost 800 of whom were civilians.

Under siege: Iraqi military prepares raid on militant-held Fallujah — RT News.

West’s interpretation of freedom for Ukraine ‘strange’ – Lavrov

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Western politicians who advocate freedom of choice for Ukraine, but say this must be a pro-European choice, have a strange interpretation of freedom, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told a security conference in Munich.

Lavrov was responding to numerous statements, including from the European Council President Hermann van Rompuy and NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, which were voiced just minutes before at the conference. He also criticized Western support for Ukrainian anti-government protests, which he said ignored the darker side of the movements behind the violence there.

“What does the inciting of street protests, which are growing increasingly violent, have to do with promoting democratic principles?” Lavrov said.

“Why do we not hear statements of condemnation toward those who seize government buildings, attack and burn police officers, and voice racist and anti-Semitic slogans? Why do senior European politicians de facto encourage such actions, while at home they swiftly and harshly act to stop any impingement on the letter of the law?”

Lavrov defended the Ukrainian government’s right to stop the violence, citing a 1966 international treaty on basic political rights, which has been adopted by almost all UN members.

“The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights states that the freedom of expression cannot be illegal and is a basic right. But riots, violent actions give the grounds to limit those freedoms,” he said. “A state must be strong, if it wants to remain democratic.”

Ukraine has been mired in a deep political crisis since November 2013, when President Viktor Yanukovich’s government decided not to sign a free trade agreement with the EU, prompting mass pro-EU integration protests. The demonstrations remained more or less peaceful until January, when the Ukrainian parliament adopted a number of bills giving the government greater powers to restrict mass demonstrations.

Radical opposition activists responded to the legislation with violent attacks on riot police. Several days of clashes ensued, in which hundreds of police officers and protesters were injured. The Ukrainian authorities have since made a number of concessions to the opposition, including the repeal of the controversial anti-protests laws, but the tense ceasefire remains shaky at best.

Many western politicians have been openly supporting the anti-government protests and have criticized the Ukrainian government for its handling of the situation. The latest example came from US Secretary of State John Kerry, who was also speaking at the Munich security conference.

The people of Ukraine “are fighting for the right to associate with partners who will help them realize their aspirations – and they have decided that means their futures do not have to lie with one country alone, and certainly not coerced,” Kerry said.

But while condemning police brutality and alleged kidnappings, torture and killings of opposition activists, foreign supporters of the opposition have barely mentioned violence and suspected crimes committed by the radical nationalist opposition.

The West has also criticized Russia for what it calls putting pressure on Ukraine not to integrate with the EU. Moscow denies these allegations, however, and insists that it has been keeping an appropriate distance from the crisis, unlike some western countries meddling in Ukraine’s internal affairs.

One of the accusations over Russia’s alleged pressure on Ukraine is over its decision to offer a $15 billion loan and a discount on gas prices to Kiev. Critics say Moscow “bought” Ukraine’s non-alliance with Europe, but Russia insists that it is simply aiding a brotherly people in a time of need, not Ukraine’s government.

Russian President Vladimir Putin this week said that Russia will provide the loan to whatever government is in Kiev, be it formed by President Yanukovich’s ruling party, or by the opposition. But Russia wants to see a working government following the resignation of outgoing PM Nikolay Azarov’s cabinet, before transferring the next installment.

West’s interpretation of freedom for Ukraine ‘strange’ – Lavrov — RT News.

بالمستندات.. «تمرد غزة» تكشف تورط حماس في اقتحام السجون في 25 يناير

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محمد أبو الروب

كشف المهندس محمد أبو الروب، مسؤول الاتصال السياسي في حركة «تمرد غزة»، تؤكد تورط حركة حماس في اقتحام السجون المصرية خلال ثورة 25 يناير 2011، بمعاونة قيادات من جماعة الإخوان الإرهابية

وأكد الروب، خلال لقائه ببرنامج (لقاء السبت)، الذي تقدمه الإعلامية معتزة مهابة، ويعده الكاتب الصحفي ريمون إدوارد،على (الراديو 9090 أف أم)، أن الوثائق تبين دقة الترتيب والتخطيط بين حركة حماس في غزة وجماعة الإخوان الإرهابية في مصر، للقيام باقتحام السجون وتهريب قيادات جماعة الإخوان، خلال ثورة 25 يناير

وجاء في الوثيقة التي تحمل اسم حركة المقاومة الفلسطينية حماس، ومؤرخة بـ 28 يناير 2011، وموجهة من خالد مشعل رئيس المكتب السياسي لحركة حماس، إلى إسماعيل هنيه رئيس حكومة حركة حماس في قطاع غزة، الترتيبات التي سيقومون بها اتجاه عملية اقتحام السجون في مصر وتهريب قيادات الإرهابية

وثيقه من خالد مشعل رئيس المكتب السياسي لحركة حماس، إلى إسماعيل هنيه رئيس حكومة حركة حماس في قطاع غزة، الترتيبات التي سيقومون بها اتجاه عملية اقتحام السجون في مصر وتهريب قيادات الإرهابية

وثيقه من خالد مشعل رئيس المكتب السياسي لحركة حماس، إلى إسماعيل هنيه رئيس حكومة حركة حماس في قطاع غزة، الترتيبات التي سيقومون بها اتجاه عملية اقتحام السجون في مصر وتهريب قيادات الإرهابية

وكشف موقع مبتدأ “اليوم” عن تفاصيل أوراق قضية “التخابر الكبرى” عن تفاصيل الهجوم الإرهابي على القوات المصرية بمنطقة شمال سيناء، والذي تورطت فيه جماعة الإخوان “الإرهابية”، والتنظيم الدولي للجماعة وعناصر حزب الله وحماس، لإسقاط النظام وإحداث الفوضى، والاعتداء على منشآت الدولة وتهريب المساجين

كما كشف الأوراق عن قيام الإخوان بتجهيز سيناريو مسبق لاقتحام السجون، وقامت بالاتصال والاتفاق مع حركة حماس، وحزب الله للبدء في تحريك مجموعتها الإرهابية المسلحة على الحدود المصرية مع قطاع غزة عقب المظاهرات العارمة التي حدثت بالبلاد في 25/1/2011

فقد قامت تلك المجموعات بالتسلل إلى محافظة شمال سناء في يوم 28/1/2011 عبر الأنفاق بمعاونة بعض العناصر البدو والإخواني عبد الرحمن داود سد الشوربجي، حيث ظهرت تلك المجموعات، وتستقل سيارات دفع رباعي تسمى بالماردونا عليها أشخاص مزودين بأسلحة آر بي جى ، ورشاشات من مختلف الأعيرة

وقامت بعمليات شديدة الخطورة على مدن رفح استهدفت جميع المنشآت الشرطية المتواجدة بالمدينة مما أدى إلى تراجع جميع القوات الشرطية المتواجدة في مدينة العريش، وذلك لكثرة أعداد المهاجمين، وامتلاكهم قوة نارية كبيرة حوالي الساعة الرابعة صباح يوم29/1/2011

واتجهت تلك العناصر في اتجاه الطريق الدولي والساحل المؤدي من رفح إلى مدينة الشيخ زويد، حيث استمرت القوات في التعامل معهم حتي الساعة التاسعة صباحًا، حيث تراجعت أيضًا القوات المتواجدة بالشيخ زويد إلى مدينة العريش

حيث أصبحت الحدود من مدينة رفح إلى الشيخ زويد خالية من القوات المصرية، وتسيطر عليها عناصر من حركة حماس، ثم تابع ذلك قيام مجموعة من هؤلاء العناصر بتفجر أحد خطوط الغاز، أد ذلك إلى احتراق قسم شرطة رفح، وقسم رابع العريش، وقسم القسمة، وقسم الشيخ زويد

كما دمر مكتب جهاز أمن الدولة برفح والشيخ زويد، كما أطلق قذائف آر بي جي على معسكر الأمن المركز بمنطقة الأحراش، عقب ذلك توجهت تلك المجموعات إلى مدينة العريش، حيث قامت بإطلاق قذائف آر بي جي على فرع جهاز أمن الدولة بمدينة العريش

فيما قامت هذه العناصر بالتعدي على نقاط تفتيش مناطق (بلوظة، الفرما، السلام، النصر، بئر لحفن، بغداد، الخروبة، صدر حطان، النقب)، وإحراق إدارة حماية البيئة، ومحاولة اقتحام سجن العريش، إلا أن القوات لم تمكنهم من ذلك، أدت تلك الأحداث بمحافظة شمال سيناء إلى مقتل وإصابة العديد من ضباط وأفراد الشرطة

كما اختفى 3 ضباط من أمن شرطة منتدبين من مدرة أمن الدقهلية، عقب ذلك قامت تلك المجموعات بالانفصال عن بعضها البعض، حيث تحركت في ثلاث مجموعات باتجاه، محافظات القاهرة والقليوبية والبحيرة عبر محافظة الإسماعيلية متجهة إلى سجون وادي النطرون وأبي زعبل والمرج؛ لتحرير العناصر الإخوانية الذين تم ضبطهم واعتقالهم بتارخ 27/1/2011 كإجراء احتراز لحين عرضهم على نيابة أمن الدولة العليا

جاء ذلك عقب استكمال جمع الأدلة ضد 34 من قادة جماعة الإخوان المسلمين، وعلى رأسهم الرئيس المعزول محمد محمد مرسي العياط، بالإضافة إلي المسجونين من عناصر حركة حماس وحزب الله اللبناني الذين كانوا متواجدين بتلك السجون

حيث وصلت إحدى المجموعات إلى سجن وادي النطرون في الساعة الثالثة صباحا، حيث ارتدى أفراد تلك المجموعة الجلباب الأبيض، وأحذية القوات العسكرية

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وكشفت التحقيقات الى قيام تلك المجموعة بإطلاق نار كثيف علي قوات السجن لإنفاذ؛ ذخيرتهم حتى تمكنوا من اقتحام منطقة السجن عقب نفاذ ذخيرة القوات، ووصول المهاجمين إلى غرفة الذخيرة، وذلك عقب هدم جزء من سور السجن عن طرق لودارن

حدث ذلك بمعرفة إبراهيم إبراهيم مصطفى حجاج مهندس، مقيم بمدينة السادات، والسيد عبد الدايم إبراهيم مهندس، ومقيم بمدينة السادات بالمنوفية، حيث تم فتح 7عنابر عنبر 1 مخصص للجماعة الإسلامية، عنبر 2مخصص للجماعات التكفيرية والجهادين من محافظ شمال سيناء، عنبر 3 كان وجد به العناصر الإخوانية التي تم ضبطها، عنبر 4،5،6،7 سجناء جنائية

مما أدى إلى هروب جمع المساجين المتواجدين داخل تلك العنابر، والذين بلغ عددهم قرابة11161، ووفادة قرابة 14 سجينا، عقب ذلك استقل العناصر الإخوانية 34 سيارة جيب، تم توجهها إلى باب السجن، حيث استقلوها وقام الرئيس السابق محمد مرسي بإجراء اتصال هاتف مع قناة الجزيرة

وكشفت التحقيقات أن العناصر التي تسللت إلى محافظة شمال سيناء، وارتكبت الأعمال الإرهابية السابق الإشارة إليها، والتي بلغت قرابة 800 شخص من عناصر حركة حماس عرف منهم كل من :

عاهد عبد ربه خلل الدحدوح مواليد 7/6/1983

سعد سمر سعد شبر مواليد 27/6/1967

جمعة سالم جمعة السحباني مواليد 10/11/1971

رام حسن علي مواليد 6/12/1975

سام فاز أحمد مواليد 1/1/1980

بلال إسماعيل محمد أبو دقة مواليد 20/3/1980

هارون جمال عبد الرحمن مواليد 22/1/1979

أسامة فتح عل فرحان مواليد 2/6/1985

ولد عادل خلل البطش مواليد 1/9/1971

عس زهر دغمش مواليد 25/2/1973

توفق خمس حامد مواليد 5/8/1973

هذا بالإضافة إلى قرابة 90من عناصر حزب الله اللبناني، وأن تسلل تلك العناصر داخل البلاد تم عقب تنسيق قيادات مكتب إرشاد جماعة الإخوان المسلمين، وعلى رأسهم كل من محمد بديع عبد المجيد سام، السيد محمود عزت، محمد رشاد بيوم، محمد محمد مرسي العياط، محي الدين حامد، محمد سعد الكتاتني، بالإضافة إلى قادات كتائب عز الدين القسام، وعلى رأسهم المتوفي أحمد الجعبري، خميس أبو النور

لبنان .. قتلى وجرحى بتفجير جديد في الهرمل

قتل أربعة أشخاص على الأقل، وأصيب 15 آخرون، في تفجير سيارة مفخخة في مدينة الهرمل شمال شرقي لبنان، أحد معاقل حزب الله على الحدود الشمالية للبلاد مع سوريا، وفق ما ذكر مراسل “سكاي نيوز عربية”

وقال مراسلنا إن التفجير ناجم عن تفجير سيارة كان يقودها “انتحاري” قرب محطة الأيتام للمحروقات في المدينة، في ثاني تفجير من نوعه يضرب الهرمل في أقل من شهر

وأوضح شهود عيان أن التفجير أدى إلى اندلاع حريق كبير في المحطة الواقعة في الحي الرئيسي في المدينة. وقال مصدر أمني آخر: “انفجرت سيارة مفخخة في مدينة الهرمل قرب محطة الأيتام للمحروقات”

وقال وزير الداخلية اللبناني مروان شربل شربل: “سقط أربعة شهداء على الأقل وأكثر من 15 جريحا في تفجير السيارة المفخخة”، مشيرا إلى أن ثلاثة من الجرحى “في حالة خطرة”

ونقلت الوكالة الوطنية للإعلام الحكومية عن شربل قوله إن “المعلومات الأولية تشير إلى أن انتحاريا نفذ العملية”. وكانت سيارة مفخخة انفجرت في المدينة نفسها في 16 يناير الماضي، مما أدى إلى مقتل ثلاثة أشخاص

وفي 21 يناير الجاري، قتل أربعة أشخاص وأصيب 35 آخرون في تفجير ناجم عن سيارة مفخخة في منطقة حارة حريك بالضاحية الجنوبية للعاصمة بيروت، معقل حزب الله.

وتبنت “جبهة النمصرة في لبنان” في حينه التفجيرين، وقالت إنهما “انتقاما” من تدخل عناصر لحزب الله اللبناني في القتال إلى جانب القوات الحكومية في سوريا

ويعد تفجير، السبت، الرابع الذي يستهدف مناطق نفوذ لحزب الله في أقل من شهر، والسابع منذ الكشف قبل أشهر عن مشاركته في المعارك إلى جانب القوات الحكومية السورية

لبنان.. قتلى بتفجير جديد في الهرمل – أخبار سكاي نيوز عربية.

Morsi trial adjourned until February 4

Trial of deposed Morsi along with 14 defendants in presidential palace killings deferred.

The trial of deposed Mohamed Morsi has been adjourned until next week.

Morsi, who appeared in court on Saturday, faces charges of inciting his supporters to kill 10 protesters demonstrating near the presidential palace on December 10, 2012. The trial will resume on February 4.

He was accompanied by 14 defendants from the now banned Muslim Brotherhood. Most of the charges they face carry the death penalty.

Despite a heavy security presence outside court, a lawyer representing Morsi was mobbed by anti-Morsi protesters as he arrived.

Anti-Morsi protesters prevent a lawyer's vehicle from entering the police academy in Cairo, where the trial of deposed President Mohamed Morsi was to open.

Anti-Morsi protesters prevent a lawyer’s vehicle from entering the police academy in Cairo, where the trial of deposed President Mohamed Morsi was to open.

Selim al-Awa berated security at the police academy where his car was impeded by a crowd of angry protesters blocking the entrance to the court, according to the Associated Press news agency.

A demonstrator holds an anti-Muslim Brotherhood poster, with ousted Islamist Egyptian President, Mohammed Morsi's photo, centre, and other Brotherhood leaders depicted with a noose around their necks, outside a makeshift courtroom at the national police academy, in an eastern suburb of Cairo, Egypt, Saturday, Feb. 1.

A demonstrator holds an anti-Muslim Brotherhood poster, with ousted Islamist Egyptian President, Mohammed Morsi’s photo, centre, and other Brotherhood leaders depicted with a noose around their necks, outside a makeshift courtroom at the national police academy, in an eastern suburb of Cairo, Egypt, Saturday, Feb. 1.

وزير الخارجية الألماني : لا آفاق لسياسة المواجهة الأوروبية مع روسيا

أعلن وزير الخارجية الألماني فرانك شتاينماير أن السياسة الأوروبية الموجهة ضد روسيا “لا تملك مستقبلا”. وقال شتاينماير اليوم 1 فبراير خلال افتتاح مؤتمر ميونيخ للأمن “لقد تأكدنا من أنه عبر العمل مع روسيا نستطيع أن نحل مشكلة ايران ونقل السلاح الكيميائي السوري”. وشدد على ان “السياسة الاوروبية الموجهة ضد روسيا لا تملك مستقبلا”، مشيرا الى انه “يتوجب علينا ايجاد نقاط تماس مع روسيا.. كما انه يجب على موسكو ايضا تحديد النقاط المشتركة مع اوروبا”. ويُعقد مؤتمر ميونيخ حول الأمن منذ عام 1962. ويشارك فيه مسؤولون كبار من حلف الأطلسي وروسيا واوروبا الشرقية والصين والهند واليابان وحشد من الخبراء والمحللين

 

Obama on Clapper’s spy lie : ‘He should have been more careful’

Despite calls from Congress to fire Director of National Intelligence James Clapper for lying under oath, United States President Barack Obama says that the spy chief should have just been a little more careful with his words.

Clapper, the 72-year-old retired Air Force lieutenant general in charge of the nation’s intelligence departments, caused a commotion last year when he was caught lying during sworn testimony delivered to the Senate.

Answering to Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) during a meeting of the chamber’s select committee on intelligence last March, Clapper claimed that the National Security Agency does “not wittingly” collect and store data on American people. When former contractor Edward Snowden proved him wrong through leaked NSA documents weeks later, though, Clapper was forced to take back his words. He later apologized to committee chairperson Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-California) for what he called a “clearly erroneous” remark, and insisted he gave simply the “least untruthful” answer he could give in an unclassified setting.

Clapper’s comment has continued to attract criticism nearly a year later — and more than seven months after the first Snowden disclosures showed how wrong he was. When Pres. Obama finally opened up about the ordeal this week, though, he far from sided with the critics who have been calling for Clapper’s termination.

I think that Jim Clapper himself would acknowledge, and has acknowledged, that he should have been more careful about how he responded,” Obama told CNN in an interview that aired Friday. “His concern was that he had a classified program that he couldn’t talk about, and he was in an open hearing in which he was asked, he was prompted to disclose a program, and so he felt he was caught between a rock and a hard place.”

As I said in the speech that I gave a couple of weeks ago, what’s clear is that we are going to have to do a better job of being transparent about what we do, to have a robust public debate about what we do,” Obama added. “But it’s going to take some time. It’s going to take some work, partly because the technology has just moved so quickly that the discussions that need to be had didn’t happen fast enough, didn’t happen on the front end.”

Obama wasn’t the only one to endorse DNI Clapper this week, either. Former United Nations ambassador John Bolton appeared on Fox News late Thursday, and hailed the intelligence director for comments he made this week before Congress.

Clapper was again on the stand earlier this week when he spoke of the current terror threats facing the US, and said those dangers had become more “disperse” than ever as extremists groups grow in size and scope.

“This is a stunning statement by James Clapper. You can’t underline it enough,” Bolton responded.

That isn’t to say that the entirety of Washington’s elite is ready to shower Clapper with applause. When the spy chief found himself back before the Senate Intelligence Committee earlier this week on Wednesday, Sen. Wyden hardly shied away from referencing last year’s now infamous gaffe. While grilling Clapper once again about the American intelligence community, Wyden said, “I don’t think this culture of misinformation is going to be easily fixed.”

Wyden’s latest showdown with Clapper came just two days after Pres. Obama was sent a letter from Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) is and five other members of Congress asking for him to take action against the DNI for his “clearly erroneous” remark.

The continued role of James Clapper as director of national intelligence is incompatible with the goal of restoring trust in our security programs and ensuring the highest level of transparency,” they wrote.

Obama on Clapper’s spy lie: ‘He should have been more careful’ — RT USA.

​Hot to trot : China and the world in the Year of the Horse

In China, what is known as the Spring Festival is the scene of the largest internal migration on earth, year after year. In 2014, no less than 3.6 billion trips will be made on public transport.

No wonder the number one portal and search engine in China, Baidu, came up with a spectacular map, refreshed every eight (lucky) hours, pinpointing the most popular departure and arrival cities and the most congested itineraries.

The Chinese zodiac, as we (but not jihad-spewing Wahhabi preachers) all know, assigns an animal – real or mythological – to every year. The horse – widely considered very auspicious – is seventh in the list, preceded by the snake and followed by the goat.

China, as we also know, is in a hurry to become the largest economic power in the world. The word ‘immediately’, in Mandarin, is pronounced as ma shang, which means ‘on horseback’.

Thus, all across China and the global Chinese diaspora, the most popular Year of the Horse greetings are photos of cash, a house and a car, all on horseback. That means, literally, a wish for the recipient to get hold of lots of dough, buy a house, and buy a car. Immediately, of course.

Now imagine 1.3 billion Chinese furiously galloping towards affluence, many at the same time. With a little help from gambling in Macau.

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Yet it won’t be such a fairytale (and ecological disaster). A China Daily editorial admitted that “there’s plenty to complain about,” listing everything from “urban dwellers about haze” and “rural residents about arbitrary land acquisitions,” with special emphasis on “corruption, injustice, income gaps and food safety.”

A catalogue of ills plaguing still fast-developing China which won’t be magically solved by an auspicious horse.

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Combustibility ahead

A key source to decipher what might happen in the Year of the Horse is a feng shui (wind-water) master. All across Asia – and a few Western enclaves – multitudes adjust their lives based on feng shui to achieve the right balance between metal, wood, water, fire and earth, and reap maximum luck and material benefits. The problem is each master usually comes with his own interpretation.

This is a Year of the Wooden Horse. Wood is easily combustible. So that will translate into a lot of scandal and conflict.

Feng shui masters from Hong Kong to mainland China are talking about a hot – literally – 2014, with temperatures melting people’s brains and a propensity towards earthquakes and volcano eruptions. All that because the earth will be ‘irritated’ by a lot of fire, and because the Wooden Horse is easily combustible. Japan and China, as well as Indonesia, are in the danger zone.

But it’s in geopolitics that the Year of the Horse may portend some serious trouble. The immediate configuration is in the South China Sea, with the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands – that is, the possibility of a hot war, however contained, between China and Japan. Even possible dates are on the radar: February, May or August 2014. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe even telegraphed the chance of war during the Davos talkfest.

The US and European Union economies may somehow pull through towards a recovery, while Southeast Asia and South Asia will be turbulent. That’s an extrapolation of current trends in emerging markets after the Fed started tweaking with quantitative easing.

There are no feng shui alarms regarding Russia; that would imply a smooth Olympics at Sochi and President Putin solidifying his mastery of geopolitical chess.

2014 may be very tricky for US President Barack Obama – born in the Year of the Ox in 1961. That would come in the form of “obstacles to cutting through political red tape,” according to Hong Kong feng shui master Chow Hon-ming.

This implies hell between the Obama administration and Republicans in the Beltway; not only in terms of Obamacare, minimum wage and a new immigration policy, but also what is the key geopolitical story of 2014; the possibility of a definitive nuclear deal between Iran and the P5+1 – which is essentially the story of a possible détente between Washington and Tehran.

Some feng shui master must urgently examine the chart of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani – who is bound to face as many internal ‘obstacles’ as Obama.

If we look back in history, the previous Year of the Wooden Horse was 1954. Then, both the US and the USSR were testing nuclear bombs. We all know how it developed; the MAD (‘mutual assured destruction’) meme throughout the Cold War, up to 1989. Talk about turbulence.

1954 was also the year of Dien Bien Phu, when Vietnam defeated France – an auspicious victory of the former ‘Third World’ against neocolonialism – just to have, years later, the exceptionalist (and napalm-heavy) Empire to deal with.

So what the world needs in 2014 is perhaps a Trojan horse. A horse that looks like it’s wooden, but in fact is made out of an un-combustible material. Just like the Terminator.

​Hot to trot: China and the world in the Year of the Horse — RT Op-Edge.

Obama to visit Saudi Arabia amid tensions over Iran, Syria: report

(Reuters) – President Barack Obama plans to travel to Saudi Arabia in March on a mission to smooth tensions with Washington’s main Arab ally over U.S. policy on Iran’s nuclear program and the civil war in Syria, a newspaper reported.

Obama is preparing to meet with King Abdullah for a summit, the Wall Street Journal reported on Friday, citing unnamed Arab officials briefed on the meetings.

“This is about a deteriorating relationship” and declining trust, said a senior Arab official in discussing the need for the summit, which was pulled together in recent days, the newspaper reported.

A White House spokeswoman declined to comment.

The United States and Saudi Arabia have been allies since the kingdom was formed in 1932, giving Riyadh a powerful military protector and Washington secure oil supplies.

Washington’s relationship with the Saudis was crucial as the region faced changes and challenges from the transition in Egypt to civil war in Syria.

But relations have been tested on a number of fronts.

Members of Saudi Arabia’s ruling family threatened a rift with the United States to protest perceived American inaction over Syria’s civil war, which has killed more than 100,000 people, as well as the recent U.S. outreach with Iran.

The Sunni Muslim kingdom’s regional rivalry with Shi’ite Iran, an ally of Syria, has amplified sectarian tensions across the Middle East.

King Abdullah is also to use the meeting to question Obama on why he decided against airstrikes in Syria, which Saudi and other Arab officials believe strengthened Assad, the newspaper reported.

“The meeting in many ways will get back to basics,” said a Saudi official briefed on the meetings, according the Wall Street Journal. “Why did Obama do it the way he did it?”

U.S. and other security officials said earlier this week that “moderate” Syrian rebel factions were receiving light arms supplied by the United States.

The Arab Spring as well as a November agreement between Iran and other world powers that curbs parts of Tehran’s nuclear program, has angered Saudi Arabia, along with other Arab states and Israel.

The relationship was also badly shaken by the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States, since most of the hijackers were Saudi nationals, and by the subsequent American invasion of Iraq.

Obama’s visit comes after a mission to Riyadh by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.

Obama to visit Saudi Arabia amid tensions over Iran, Syria: report | Reuters.