Daily Archives: April 4, 2014

Do, or.. Arab Spring – Behind Kerry’s visit to Algeria

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (L) meets with Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika (R) in Zeralda, outside of Algiers, April 3, 2014.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (L) meets with Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika (R) in Zeralda, outside of Algiers, April 3, 2014.

US Secretary of State John Kerry traveled to Algeria on Thursday, meeting with President Abdelaziz Bouteflika.
Just a few days before the presidential election “17 April “.

The timing of Kerry’s visit to Algeria does not suit Algeria. However, it is the perfect time for America to get strategic agreements signed with Algeria, agreements the USA would not have secured had Algeria been in a different situation…

These strategic issues are to do with America’s wish to free the European Union from the dominance of Russian gas. And in this context, Algeria and Qatar will bear the cost of what the USA seeks to accomplish for Europe.

Qatari emir, was visiting Algiers on Thursday”.

 

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Queen gives honey to pope, who has gift for George

Britain's Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, exchange gifts with Pope Francis at the Vatican, Thursday, April 3, 2014. Queen Elizabeth II has come to Rome for lunch with Italy's president Giorgio Napolitano ahead of the British monarch's first meeting with Pope Francis. Before Francis, Elizabeth had met with four pontiffs, starting with Pope Pius XII in 1951, a year before her accession to the throne.

Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, exchange gifts with Pope Francis at the Vatican, Thursday, April 3, 2014. Queen Elizabeth II has come to Rome for lunch with Italy’s president Giorgio Napolitano ahead of the British monarch‘s first meeting with Pope Francis. Before Francis, Elizabeth had met with four pontiffs, starting with Pope Pius XII in 1951, a year before her accession to the throne.

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Queen Elizabeth II — bearing a basket of honey, whiskey and other goodies from the royal estates — paid a visit to Pope Francis at the Vatican on Thursday. The pontiff returned the courtesy with a gift for Prince George, Elizabeth’s great-grandson.

The Argentine-born pope presented the queen with a stone orb topped with a sharp cross, saying it’s for “el ninetto” — a term of endearment for little child. Elizabeth said George “will be thrilled by that — when he’s a little older.”

The exchange of gifts capped a private meeting of just under 20 minutes between Elizabeth, her husband, Prince Philip, and Francis — with communication facilitated by an interpreter.

Francis did say “Welcome!” in English when the royal couple arrived about 20 minutes late for their appointment.

“Sorry to keep you waiting,” Elizabeth told Francis. “We were having a very pleasant lunch with the president.”

She was referring to Italy’s head of state, Giorgio Napolitano, who hosted the queen and Philip for lunch at the presidential Quirinal palace.

The white-gloved monarch arrived earlier in the day in Rome wearing a lilac-colored spring coat and hat that matched the wisteria blooming over much of the Italian capital.

Previously, Elizabeth had met with four pontiffs, starting with Pius XII in 1951, a year before her accession to the throne.

Elizabeth is head of the Anglican church. There was no immediate word on what was discussed in the meeting with Francis, who is in his second year as pontiff.

Elizabeth told the pope that the jar of honey in the wicker picnic hamper “is from my garden” at Buckingham Palace. “I hope that is unusual for you.”

Francis looked startled when the prince held up a bottle of Balmoral whiskey from the royal estate in Scotland. Among other goodies were a bottle of cider and a dozen eggs.

The queen’s day in Rome was a makeup visit. Illness had forced her to cancel a 2013 trip to Rome.

“She doesn’t like leaving obligations unfulfilled so she was determined to reinstate that visit,” Britain’s ambassador to the Holy See, Nigel Baker, told Vatican Radio.

via Queen gives honey to pope, who has gift for George – Yahoo News.

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Obama wants Saudi Arabia to destroy Russian economy

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U.S. President Barack Obama tried to convince the King of Saudi Arabia to coordinate actions in the oil market to reduce world oil prices, the main source of Russia’s export revenues, and “punish its behavior” in Crimea. Experts estimate that if the prices are reduced by as little as 12 dollars per barrel, the Russian Federation will lose $40 billion in revenue. There has been a precedent, because this is precisely how the USSR collapsed.

Before Obama’s visit to Saudi Arabia, the U.S. media was discussing options of “punishment” for Russia with sanctions for its “behavior in Crimea.” The first option was proposed by an American financier George Soros. According to him, every day the U.S. could offer for sale 500-750 million barrels from its strategic resources (SPR) estimated at 700 million barrels, which should lead to the decrease in world oil prices by about $10-12 dollars per barrel. Immediately after the formal reunification of Russia and Crimea, the Obama administration gave orders to sell 5 million barrels of oil from the SPR.

However, after two weeks of discussions, U.S. analysts agreed that the effect of such actions will be short-lived, and squandering suitable strategic reserves of the country was not a good idea because you never know what might happen. Another idea immediately followed – to convince Saudi Arabia to increase oil production. Steve LeVine spoke about it in detail.

He suggested adding a few million barrels from Saudi Arabia to the oil from the U.S. reserve, and because oil prices are determined by profitability, the cheap oil in the range of 2-3 million barrels per day could significantly derail the price. Allegedly, Obama traveled to Riyadh to discuss this option on March 28, said the analyst.

Russia receives approximately 70 percent of its export revenue from oil and gas, so even this kind of fall would mean a significant impact, LeVine wrote. He referenced the expert evidence that if there is a fall in price by only $12 dollars per barrel, Russia would lose $40 billion revenue in the budget. According to LeVine, such talks between the United States and Saudi Arabia are already underway, as Prince Turki bin al-Faisal recently noted that the modern oil market was global in nature, and one country cannot affect its stability.

There is a precedent of such joint action that caused the collapse of the USSR. In 1985, the Kingdom has dramatically increased oil production from 2 million to 10 million barrels per day, dropping the price from 32 to 10 dollars per barrel. USSR began selling some batches at an even lower price, about $6 per barrel. Saudi Arabia has not lost anything, because when prices fell by 3.5 times the production has increased five-fold. The planned economy of the Soviet Union was not able to cope with falling export revenues, and this was one of the reasons for the collapse of the USSR.

Has Obama made a deal with King Abdullah? “No, I’m pretty sure he has not,” Sergei Demidenko, an expert of the Institute of Strategic Studies and Analysis told Pravda.Ru. “First of all, the situation in the 1980s and the current situation in the oil market and general political situation in the world are very different. The Saudis are no longer dependent on the United States, they are relatively independent, they have their own groups of influence both in Congress and the State Department, and they can already influence the U.S. policy,” said the expert.

“The global economic crisis has not been canceled, it continues to have a negative impact on the Persian Gulf, so Saudi Arabia is unlikely to do this,” agreed Yelena Suponina, head of the Center of Asia and the Middle East at RISS.

Indeed, as the largest producer of oil, the country would lose a great deal in the event of price reduction. Now, the OPEC countries that include Venezuela and Angola will not allow tripling production. In addition, the alliance relations have been severely marred lately. The King called them “unreliable” because of the U.S. position in Syria. Moreover, he is angered by Obama’s “flirting” with the Iranian leadership and unlocking sanctions against it. Interestingly, the President of the United States has severed diplomatic relations with Bashar al-Assad before the visit, perhaps it was a gesture of reconciliation that indirectly confirms Obama’s intentions.

But it is not so much about politics as it is about the economy.  Merrill Lynch  estimated that the Saudis should keep global oil prices near $85 per barrel to avoid a budget deficit. Now the prices are kept at the level of $105-110 dollars per barrel. It would seem that a price reduction of $12 dollars is possible, but the situation in Saudi Arabia is not easy, said Sergey Demidenko. “First, there are not that many readily available deposits, and there is a need to develop more complex fields. This automatically increases the cost of a barrel. Moreover, the country is now facing an unstable social situation and needs a serious financial cushion to solve social problems. The Kingdom remains an island of calm, but only because they push their opposition out of the country to the outside edges of global jihad, and this is a boomerang that sooner or later will come back to them. To ensure that the people do not follow the extremists, they must be bribed. This is why Saudi Arabia will not agree to this plan, it’s quite obvious,” said the expert.

Nevertheless, analyst Nicholas Cunningham of Oilprice.com wrote that Obama was likely to hold on to the strategic reserve card and play it if Russia deploys wider activities in Eastern Europe.

“We cannot rule out this scenario, and OPEC is not the guarantor of high oil prices. A reasonable government should be prepared for this,” told Pravda.Ru Yelena Suponina. “The best solution is to diversify the economy rather than rely on oil and gas exports alone. Rumors of an impending decline in oil prices have been floating around for five years. It is a method of psychological pressure, such methods are often used in politics. These rumors are designed to annoy major oil and gas miners, and this factor is used in the psychological war against Russia. Since Russia is acting very confident in the international arena, the West will try to apply if not the oil weapon, then at least rumors about the possibility of its application. It fits into the logic of contradictions existing in the relations between Russia and the West, and we have to be ready,” said Yelena Suponina.

Lyuba Lyulko – Pravda.Ru

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What Egypt now needs is a strong leadership

The terrorist scourge must end now and the killers ought to be treated with the full force of law

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A series of well-planned and coordinated bombs ripped through security posts at the entrance to Cairo University on Wednesday afternoon, killing a senior police commander and wounding dozens. The fact that these blasts were so well-coordinated shows that there is no place low or dark enough for terrorists to venture, setting one bomb off to lure in police and those offering assistance, then striking again to purposely injure and maximise terror — and set off another to repeat their dastardly plan.

Over the past three years, Egypt has been rocked by political turmoil and violence that have shaken the nation to its core, but no political philosophy or radical cause is worth the premeditated destruction of any human life. The masterminds behind these blasts are neither political activists nor are they acting to advance a cause: They are criminals who are sadly misguided and mistaken to believe that they can change the course of current events. What Egypt now needs is stability — a strong leadership that can bring the full force of the state to bear on it to deter any terrorist acts and bring such miscreants to justice.

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Israel Air Force hits five Gaza targets following rocket fire

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Israel Air Force jets struck five suspected terrorist locations in northern and central areas of the Gaza Strip on Thursday, according to the Israel Defense Forces. Israel Radio cited Palestinian sources who reported that two of the sites belonged to Hamas’ military forces.

The strikes came after four rockets were fired from Palestinian territory into southern Israel. The rockets led to a Code Red alert in the Sderot area, according to The Jerusalem Post.

The Palestinian rockets landed in open territory near the border with Gaza, according to Israeli media. No injuries or damage were reported on the Israeli side of the border.

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Egypt’s cabinet passes harsher terrorism laws

The Egyptian government has approved the broadening of terrorism laws, following increased violence in the country.

The bill had been in discussion for months following the spread of militant attacks against Egyptian army and police forces.

Egypt’s State Council revised the law and sent it back to the cabinet earlier on Thursday.

The law is reported to amend terrorism clauses in Egypt’s penal code and stipulate harsher penalties for terrorism-related crimes.

For the new laws to come into force, they still need to be signed by interim President Adly Mansour.

Egypt’s security forces have been the target of frequent attacks since last July.

On Wednesday, a series of explosions killed three people outside Cairo University, including a police brigadier-general.

 

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Fort Hood shooter was on anti-depression medication

 Fort Hood Shooter Ivan Lopez's Chilling Facebook Post: 'The Devil Will Take Me...Green Light And Finger Ready'


Fort Hood Shooter Ivan Lopez’s Chilling Facebook Post: ‘The Devil Will Take Me…Green Light And Finger Ready’

The Iraq War veteran who opened fire at Fort Hood on Wednesday, killing three people and injuring 16, was being treated for mental health issues and being evaluated for post-traumatic stress disorder, the Associated Press reports.

Identified as Spc. Ivan Lopez by Lt. Gen. Mark Milley, Ft. Hood‘s commanding general, the Army veteran reportedly walked into one of the area buildings with a .45 semi-automatic handgun and started shooting. He kept firing even as he used a vehicle to make his way to another building, where the gunfire continued.

When military police confronted him, Lopez put his hands into the air before pulling out his gun from his jacket and shooting himself in the head.

According to the AP, an investigation into the gunman’s mental health background was initiated immediately after the violence ended. Part of the probe will also focus on the possibility that a fight or argument triggered the shooting.

“We have to find all those witnesses, the witnesses to every one of those shootings, and find out what his actions were, and what was said to the victims,” a federal law enforcement official said to the AP on condition of anonymity.

In a press conference Wednesday evening, Lt. Gen. Mark Milley confirmed that the shooter was being treated for numerous health issues after being transferred to Fort Hood in February. Lopez was also being evaluated for post-traumatic stress disorder in connection to his four months spent in Iraq in 2011, though he had yet to be officially diagnosed.

There was strong evidence that the shooter had a medical history that indicated an unstable psychological condition, said Milley. There was a “strong possibility” that a verbal altercation with another soldier had preceded the shootings, he added, although there was no indication specific people had been targeted in the shooting. Lopez had been prescribed anti-depressants and the sleep aid medication Ambien.

“Obviously, we are digging deep into his background,” Milley said to ABC News. “He was undergoing behavioral health, psychiatric treatment for depression and anxiety and a variety of other psychological and psychiatric issues. … He was not diagnosed, as of today, with PTSD, he was undergoing a diagnosis process to determine if he had PTSD. That is a lengthy process.”

Milley also confirmed that he was being treated with anti-depressant medication, though it is unclear if that was responsible for any violent or suicidal thoughts. As RT noted on Wednesday, there were reports of the man complaining about a traumatic brain injury that occurred while he was in Iraq. According to a recent tweet by the AP, however, the Army secretary said the shooter “saw no combat in Iraq, was not wounded.”

The Washington Post reported that the gunman was married and living in the Fort Hood area before the shooting spree occurred, but neighbors said the family did not interact with many people.

“He was the kind of person that even if you tried to talk to him wouldn’t open up,” neighbor Jessie Brown said to the newspaper.

Family members were not aware that Lopez was receiving treatment for mental issues according to their spokesman, Glidden Lopez Torres.

“He was a very laid-back person. I would even say a bit shy,” Torres said. “That’s why we are so surprised.”

This was the second shooting at Fort Hood since 2009, when an Army psychiatrist killed 13 people and injured 32 others. He was convicted and sentenced to death in August 2013.

Speaking shortly after the most recent violent outbreak, President Obama made the connection to the previous incident.

“We know these families. We know their incredible service to our country and the sacrifices that they make,” he said, according to ABC. “Obviously, our thoughts and prayers are with the entire community, and we are going to do everything we can to make sure the community of Fort Hood has what it needs to deal with a tough situation, but also any potential aftermath.”

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