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Sep 30, 2015

Syria Confirms Requesting Military Aid From Russia

Ali Ahmadi, an adviser to Syria's information minister, said that when the Russian government comes to the aid of the Syrian army, especially using the Air Force, it helps the Syrian army save the country.

An adviser to Syria's information minister confirmed Wednesday that Damascus has requested military aid from Russia. 

"When the Russian government comes to the aid of the Syrian army, especially using the Air Force, it helps the Syrian army save the country. Especially as all this is happening at the request of the Syrian government," Ali Ahmadi told Rossiya-24 television.

Source : SputnikNews

Sep 27, 2015

Spain : Independence Parties Win Majority in Catalan Parliament

The independence alliance Junts pel Si won 62 seats, which combined with fellow independence party CUP, with 10 seats, makes an absolute majority.

With over 96 percent of votes counted, pro-independence parties have achieved an absolute majority in Catalan parliament elections Sunday, paving the way for the Spanish region to start a possible unilateral process of secession from Madrid.

With all votes counted, independence alliance Junts pel Si won 62 seats, which combined with fellow independence party CUP, with 10 seats, makes an absolute majority.

However, although independence parties have won a majority of seats, in percentage they are lagging behind pro Spanish parties, who are up by about 4 percent.

An added complication is that although CUP supports separation from Madrid, the left-wing, socialist party which prioritizes environmental issues, has not officially pledged support to Junts pel Si if it is called upon to form a coalition.

Citizens, a moderate, non-independence party, are the second political force in Catalonia with 25 seats.

The Catalan branch of the left-wing PODEMOS, Si Que Es Pot, won 10 seats.

Turnout hit record levels for the vote considered crucial in deciding the future of Catalonia, at 77.21 percent.

Catalan president, Artur Mas, has said that the parliamentary election was a de facto independence plebiscite, and that an absolute majority would allow him to unilaterally declare independence within 18 months.

The independence movement faces fierce opposition from Madrid, which has threatened to withdraw Spanish nationality from Catalans, and manipulated a quote from European Commissioner Jean-Claude Juncker to read that an independent Catalonia would not be recognized by the European Union. The quote, mistranslated from English, in fact said that it was not a matter that the Commission would comment on. The vote may have reverberations in Spain’s general elections in December.

Source : Telesur

Sep 25, 2015

Costa Rica: Violence Reach 'Pandemic' Rates

A state official recently warned citizens on Tuesday against entering into the drug trade, saying it could lead to either to prison or to death.

Costa Rica is estimated to be reaching “pandemic” levels of violence by the end of the year, as up to 533 murders are expected by December, said the country’s Public Ministry and Judicial Police on Wednesday.   

To this date, authorities estimated almost 400 homicides since January, out of which 45 percent would be related to drug-trafficking or organized crime.   

Although compared to its Central American neighbours (El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras) – among the most violent countries of the world, Costa Rica's rate still shows a significant peak of violence from the past – representing about 30 percent more than 2012 and 2013.   

According to experts, the factors causing an increment of violence would be two-folded: on one hand, the international criminal dynamic making Mexican cartels using more the Costa Rican routes – as a better alternative than the militarized maritime roads to ship cocaine to the United States; on the other hand, local gangs have also increased in power, both in terms of weapons (state officials warned Mexican cartels were handing them AK-47s) and maybe even work force.   

Possibly due to the record levels of unemployment in the country – about 10 percent since 2013, more and more people seem to be tempted to join local gangs, as suggested recently Luis Avila, sub-director of the judicial investigation bureau (OIJ), who warned citizens on Tuesday that drug business was the worst path to be taken in this life, leading either to prison or to death.   

For the moment, the government would refuse a militarized approach to the issue – Costa Rica is among the few countries of the world without armed forces, preferring to focus on prevention and drug education, while improving the judicial system.

Source : Telesur

Russian Naval Flotilla Heading for Syria

A fleet of Russian warships is bound for the Eastern Mediterranean for drills off the coast of Syria, the Defense Ministry said in a statement Friday.

The flotilla, led by the Black Sea Fleet flagship — the guided missile cruiser Moskva — sailed from Sevastopol, Crimea on Thursday and is due to reach the exercise area late on Sunday.
 Also taking part in the drill will be the guided missile frigate Smetlivy and the Tapir-class landing ship Saratov as well as a variety of auxiliary ships.

They will join another frigate and a missile gunboat that had earlier transited out of the Black Sea into the Mediterranean.

Civilian aircraft have already been warned to stay away from an area between Cyrpus and the Tartus Russian naval base in Syria.

During the exercise, to run into October, the sailors are to perform over forty different combat missions, including missile and artillery firings at surface and aerial targets, anti-ship and air defense as well as search-and-rescue activities and rendering assistance to a distressed vessel.

Source : SputnikNews

Sep 23, 2015

United States : Los Angeles Experiencing Homelessness 'Emergency'

The city has announced a US$100 million plan to address the problem but critics say much more is needed.
Officials in Los Angeles labeled homelessness an "emergency" and announced plans to offer permanent housing and shelters for more than 20,000 homeless people in the city.

“These are our fellow Angelinos,” Mayor Eric Garcetti said Tuesday as he announced the plan outside City Hall. “They are those who have no other place to go, and they are literally here where we work, a symbol of our city’s intense crisis.”

Over the past two years, the number of people living in the streets increased from 23,000 to 26,000 according to official figures from Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority.

Nearly 18,000 people of the total live on the streets as opposed to shelters. The city, the second largest in the country, currently spends over US$13 million of its general funding on homeless programs, such as winter shelters, housing vouchers and outreach to homeless veterans, said Assistant City Administrative Officer Ben Ceja.

Other major cities in the U.S. have been battling with homelessness as well. In New York city, official figures show that there are more than 67,000 homeless people – almost double the number in Los Angeles.

While the mayor announced a US$100 million budget for the anti-homelessness plan, critics say that it would not be enough to fix the growing problem. “A hundred million dollars won’t even buy all the homeless (people) pillows,” Alice Callaghan, a longtime advocate for the homeless in city, told the Associated Press Wednesday. “A hundred million certainly won’t build much housing – and what we really have here is a housing crisis.”

In a recent report in April, the U.S.-based National Alliance to End Homelessness said that 578,424 people were experiencing homelessness in the U.S. in 2014, meaning they were sleeping outside or in an emergency shelter or transitional housing program.

While the report said the recent economic recovery in the U.S. has slightly reduced homelessness, it also warned that many were still at risk of not being able to afford housing.

“Longitudinal trends and changes from 2012 to 2013 indicate populations at risk of homelessness may not be experiencing the benefits of the economic recovery,” the report said.

Source : Telesur

Sep 22, 2015

Venezuela, Colombia Agree to Address Border Closure Dispute

The presidents of Venezuela and Colombia met in host country Ecuador and have agreed to normalize border relations.

Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa read a statement including a 7-point agreement following a mediated closed-door meeting between ​Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and his Colombian counterpart, Juan Manuel Santos in the capital of Ecuador on Monday.   

Correa affirmed the importance of bilateral dialogue and international respect in resolving tensions and disputes.   

“There can be differences (between the two countries), but the love, affection ... allow any difficulty to be overcome,” President Correa said.

Reading from the 7-point statement, the Ecuadorean leader said that Venezuela and Colombia would reinstate their ambassadors, carefully investigate the border situation, while working to progressively normalize the border. The two countries will also continue talks supported by Uruguay and Ecuador, with a follow up meeting of ministers scheduled for Sept. 23.   

“I’ve told our peoples, there is no room for hatred, for intolerance or for revenge,” said President Maduro, adding that peace always triumphs in the end in an effort to promote brotherhood between the two countries.   

Correa also added that the two countries will examine how to cooperate despite their different economic models.   

“We have two very different models of country development models,” President Santos said. “But we can work toward common goals agreed to by our two peoples.”   

The meeting between the two leaders was facilitated by Correa and Uruguayan President Tabare Vazquez and held under the auspices of Unasur and Celac Latin American regional blocs.   

The joint press conference comes after weeks of tensions between the two countries following Venezuela’s decision to close its border with its neighbor and announce a state of exception in some of its border regions.   

In August, Maduro announced the closure of the border in Tachira state after three Venezuelan soldiers were shot by suspected Colombian paramilitaries operating in the border region. The subsequent operations in the area have led to the capture of dozens of alleged paramilitaries, while also uncovering explosives making operations, brothels using minors and clandestine prisons that authorities say were likely used for kidnappings and tortures. The crackdown also led to the deportation of hundreds of undocumented Colombians living in Venezuelan territory.   

Despite Venezuela’s security concerns, Colombia has accused its northeastern neighbor of human rights abuses against migrants of Colombian origin, a charge that Venezuela has claimed is politically-motivated since the country offers refuge to at least 176,000 Colombians escaping political violence in their homeland.   

But on Monday, the tone between the two countries had significantly calmed.   

“We respect Venezuela, but if I wanted to close the border, if I wanted to deport the Colombians who do not have their papers in order ... the only thing we ask is due process,” said Santos, while acknowledging Venezuela’s border concerns about organized crime.   

“I fully understand the concern of the Venezuelan government about the mafia criminal gangs that have embedded themselves on on the border,” he added.   

“We unite these struggles against criminal gangs, drug trafficking, against illegality,” Santo said, emphasizing that by “By working together, respecting our differences, I think we can achieve (solutions).”   

“And as for Colombians, we only have affection, admiration, and respect (for the people of Venezuela).”

Source: Telesur

Sep 21, 2015

Anonymous Launches ‘Black October’ Campaign Against United States Banking System

Right on the heels of the Occupy Wall Street movement’s four year anniversary, activist group Anonymous has launched a new campaign which they say outlines an “easy” way for the 99% to demonstrate their strength and overcome the richest 1%.

The statement was released on Anonymous’ website, with a video inviting people to join the peaceful revolution, under the name "Black October." The group calls on "ordinary people" to demonstrate their strength and independence from wealthy banks by simply using cash instead of debit and credit cards.

"US branches of Germany’s Deutsche Bank and Spain’s Banco Santander have failed US Fed stress tests, while America’s largest bank, Bank of America, is put on 'warning,'" the statement reads. "How far can the ordinary people shoulder responsibility of a failed private bank?"

A stress test, officially known as the Comprehensive Capital and Analysis Review, is an annual assessment conducted by the US Federal Reserve of a bank’s ability to “lend to households and businesses even in times of stress.” It was introduced in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis.

This year’s review found that both Deutsche Bank and Banco Santander would fail to deal with "doomsday" scenarios such as rising unemployment and plummeting house prices, while Bank of America also has "certain weaknesses."
With "Black October," Anonymous asks people to demonstrate their independence from such big banks.

The month-long campaign is outlined in Anonymous’ video and statement, inviting people to take their money out of bank accounts and not to use their debit or credit cards.

"Show the Big Bankers that we don’t need their debit cards, we don’t need their credit cards, we don’t need their loans, and we don’t need them," Anonymous said. "Let’s show them that we are the 99% and we can beat them. It is that easy."

Driven by social and economic inequality, the Occupy movement began on September 17, 2011 in Zuccotti Park in New York’s Wall Street financial district. The movement was inspired by anti-austerity protests in Spain, and saw thousands of activists in hundreds of US cities coming together and calling for policy reforms favoring 99% of Americans over the richest and most powerful 1%.

Source : SputnikNews

Sep 20, 2015

Greece : Tsipras Announces Victory in Elections, Confirms Coalition with ANEL

Alexis Tsipras has reportedly announced victory in elections to people in Athens, and confirmed coalition with ANEL on Sunday.

Leader of the Greek Syriza party Alexis Tsipras announced Sunday during his speech in the centre of Athens the victory of his party in the Greek snap elections and confirmed the forming of a coalition with the Independent Greeks (ANEL) party.

"Tomorrow morning we will begin our cooperation work with ANEL," Tsipras stated.

"We will continue our struggle against the powers that were stronger that we are… [the mandate that we won] is the mandate for the next four years," the politician said.

Data after 50% counted says that Greece's Syriza party leads in parliamentary elections with 35.5% of votes while New Democracy party gets 28.1% and the Golden Dawn party with 7.1 —percent support, as 50 percent of votes were counted, according to official estimates.

PASOK has received 6.4 percent of votes so far, KKE — 5.5 percent, Potami — 3.9 percent, ANEL — 3.7 percent, according to Singular Logic, the company that officially covers the logistics of the Greek snap elections.

Syriza will allegedly receive 145 seats in parliament, while the New Democracy and the Golden Dawn parties will receive 75 and 19 seats accordingly out of the total of 300 seats in the Greek parliament.

Thousands of people gathered in the city center of Athens to celebrate the second in 2015 victory of the left-wing Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras in snap elections.

Source : SputnikNews

Sep 18, 2015

Russia Ends Production of Genetically Modified Food (GMO)

Russia's government has decided against producing genetically modified organisms (GMOs), the country's Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich said Friday.

The deputy orime minister underscored the need to draw a "clear distinction" between this decision and science and research projects in fields such as medicine.

"As for genetically modified organisms, we have decided against the use of GMO in food production," Dvorkovich said.

A law requiring manufacturers to label products whose GMO content is higher than 0.9 percent has been in effect since 2007. On December 31, 2014, President Vladimir Putin signed a federal bill imposing fines up to $6,000 for violating the GMO labeling rule.

Sep 17, 2015

Military Confirms Coup in Burkina Faso

Military officials took to the airwaves to announce they control the country. Various officials have been detained, including the president.

Military officials in Burkina Faso confirmed Thursday that they had taken control of the country. The announcment comes after AP reported that armed forces personnel assigned to protect the president had arrested the transitional head of state and prime minister.

"The patriotic forces, grouped together in the National Council for Democracy, have decided today to put an end to the deviant transitional regime," a military official said on RTB state television.

Burkina Faso’s military said it had stripped interim President Michel Kafando from his powers and dissolved the government.

The head of the Presidential Guard, Gen. Gilbert Diendere, has assumed power in Burkina Faso, according to local reports.

Military officials went on state television to announce that the country's borders are closed and that a curfew has been put in place.

The move comes after the elite Republican Guard seized Kafando, Prime Minister Yacouba Isaac Zida, and two ministers on Wednesday.

The military coup comes just weeks before national elections were to take place Oct. 11. According to Al Jazeera, the people of Burkina Faso were hoping the elections would strengthen the country’s democracy.

The Guard has been involved in the country’s politics since former President Blaise Compaore was toppled after a popular uprising in October last year. 

Reuters reported that hundreds of people took to the streets of the capital Ouagadougou late on Wednesday to protest against the coup. The protest was received with military action, including warning shots, to disperse the crowds.

According to a military official, the interim government “distanced itself from the objectives of refounding our democracy" for blocking Compaore supporters from running in the elections next month.

A journalist identified as Fanny Noaro, who is based in the capital Ouagadougou, told Al Jazeera gunfire could be heard on the streets of the city.

“There is a lot of military on the street [...] there is also no information about the transitional president and prime minister and there is no information if they are dead or alive," she said.

Source : Telesur

Sep 13, 2015

Amid Violence and Corruption, Egypt Government Unexpectedly Resigns

Egypt's cabinet submitted its resignation less than a week after the agriculture minister was arrested over corruption charges.

Egypt's cabinet unexpectedly resigned Saturday less than a week after the agriculture minister was arrested over corruption.

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi asked Oil Minister Sherif Ismail to form a new government within one week, the presidency’s office said Saturday following the resignation of Ibrahim Mehleb’s  government.

The reason behind the resignation was not immediately clear, however, officials told Reuters news agency that for a while el-Sissi has not been happy with the performance of some of the ministers.

The country is battling an insurgency by an Islamic State group affiliate in the country's eastern region of Sinai while trying to fix its economy that has been crippled by years of turmoil and political uncertainty following the ouster of Egypt's long-serving, U.S.-backed dictator Hosni Mubarak.

Ismail is seen likely to be appointed the country's next prime minister and is considered to be one of the best performing ministers.

The country will hold its long overdue parliamentary elections next month, the final step in a process the government has said would deliver democracy.

The former government faced a backlash over several controversial laws which were ratified by the president. One law said that journalists could face prison terms for reporting death toll figures other than government-sanctioned ones.

Such laws triggered peaceful protests despite the ban on demonstrations following the election of el-Sissi as president. He won more than 90 percent of the vote and was the only candidate.

When he served as an army chief, el-Sissi staged a coup against the first democratically-elected President Mohamed Morsi, who is now facing a death sentence over charges.

Human rights groups accuse el-Sissi of abusing his power, silencing opposition and clamping down on media.

Source : Telesur

Sep 12, 2015

Hungary Will Seal Border With Serbia to Stop Refugees

The far-right Prime Minister Viktor Orban said his government will not continue to provide relief to refugees and called upon Greece to watch its borders.

The Hungarian government deployed nearly four thousand troops to its border with Serbia on Saturday, after announcing Friday that it would seal its border starting next week.

Also on Saturday, far-right Prime Minister Viktor Orban called on the European Union to give Syria's neighbors – Turkey and Lebanon – 3 billion in financial aid to help those displaced by the civil war.

The announcement made by Orban comes as the European Union is urging its member states to host thousands of refugees.

As Orban explained Friday that, starting next week, anyone trespassing into his country will be “immediately arrested.” The Hungarian government has also reinforced its border fence.

The soldiers sent to the border will also have the task to complete the 4-meter-high fence, which currently extends along parts of the border. The remaining parts are secured by coils of razor wire.

Hungary has been widely criticized for its mistreatment of thousands of refugees, mostly coming from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq, fleeing from conflict in those countries.

“We will not courteously accompany them (refugees) as (we have been doing) until now,” Orban added, disregarding criticisms.

Hours before Orban's announcement, an online video emerged of crowds begging for food in a border camp, as police in surgical masks tossed them packs of sandwiches, an image many on social media compared to feeding animals.

Volunteers from neighboring Austria continue crossing into Hungary to provide relief for the refugees and drive them, after last week activist organized a social media campaign dubbed Convoy Budapest-Vienna.

However, on Friday, the Nickelsdorf-Mikloshalma border crossing in northern Hungary was closed by Austria’s motorway management company (Asfinag).

The closure only applies to vehicles, since the refugees are allowed to enter the country by foot.

Hungary has had to cope with the entry of around 2,000 to 3,000 refugees crossing its border this week.

Source : Telesur

Yemen : Saudi Arabia Coalition Airstrikes Rock Yemeni Capital

The deadly Saudi-led coalition airstrikes on Yemen's Houthi-held capital of Sanaa show no signs of abating, according to the latest tweets by residents of the Yemeni capital.

The latest tweets from residents of Yemen's capital city Sanaa have confirmed that the Saudi-led coalition has intensified its airstrikes on the city, which had already been hit by previous air raids; scores of people are feared dead.

The fresh strikes came few days after at least even civilians were killed in the air raids, according to independent security and health officials cited by media reports.

In the past couple of days, Sanaa's Al-Nahda neighborhood has reportedly seen intense airstrikes as the Saudis and their partners targeted Houthis' homes, weapons depots, and camps.

Yemen is currently embroiled in an armed conflict pitting the Houthis fighting for former President Ali Abdullah Saleh against fighters loyal to exiled President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi.

In September 2014, the Houthis managed to take control of Sanaa's government buildings, in what was followed by their advance across Yemen.

This prompted a Saudi-led and US-backed coalition, which mainly includes Gulf nations, to launch airstrikes on Houthi positions in Yemen that have been continuing since March 2015.

In June, the United Nations described the war in Yemen as a humanitarian crisis of the most severe category, assigning it Level Three.

According to media reports, more than 3,000 people have already been killed and one million more displaced since the beginning of the crisis in March.

Source : SputnikNews

Sep 9, 2015

Denmark Stops All Trains From Germany Amid Refugee Crisis

Denmark stopped all railway operations with Germany amid refugee crisis, Reuters reported citing statement of Denmark's state owned train operator DSB.

According to the Danish railway company DSB's statement all train service with Germany has been halted due to exceptional passport checks at the border.

Danish authorities undertook this measeure after the country's police stopped hundreds of refugees arriving by train from Germany.
 Hundreds of thousands of people from the Middle East and North and Sub-Saharan Africa have been attempting to reach European countries as they flee violence at home.

Earlier on Wednesday, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker called on EU member states to relocate 160,000 migrants throughout the bloc over the next two years.

Some 500,000 people have arrived in Europe since the beginning of 2015, many from Syria and Libya, Juncker said.

Source : SputnikNews

Sep 5, 2015

Expert Warns of Increasing ISIL Threat in Poland, Slams the West

Poland may face the ever-increasing number of those who back militants from the Islamic State group, according to Polish political scientist Konrad Rękas, who is also president of the European Center of Geopolitical Analysis.

In an interview with Sputnik, Konrad Rękas, Polish political scientist and head of the European Center of Geopolitical Analysis, predicted that the next few months may see the ever-increasing number of supporters of the Islamic State group in Poland.
 He accused Western countries of turning a blind eye to the fact that the Islamic State supporters acting in the Caucasus are being trained in Ukraine under the auspices of what he described as "the Kiev junta."

He also blamed the former Polish government for the growing Islamic State threat in his country.

"As for the growing emergence of Islamists in Poland (and this threat is imminent enough), all this is connected with the consequences of the foreign policy of former Polish governments," Rękas said.

He accused them of rendering "unquestioning political, military and financial support to the US' military interventions that destabilized the situation in the Middle East and the Mediterranean basin."

"We should also mention the fact that the former Polish government backed such a controversial act as the CIA prisons on Polish territory, which, in fact, was an open provocation against Muslims," Rękas said.

According to him, it is safe to say that the former governments' 'incorrect and anti-Polish foreign policy' added significantly to the current unstable security situation in Poland.
 Earlier, it was reported that a Polish jihadist militant took part in a suicide attack on a refinery in the Iraqi city of Baij in June, which left at least 11 people killed and 27 more injured.

Source : SputnikNews

Sep 4, 2015

United States : Black and Latino Police Punished for Resisting Racial Profiling

Punishments include bullying, threats of being laid off, denial of benefits, and downgrades.

A dozen Black and Latino NYPD officers filed a lawsuit earlier this week alleging that police institutions  punish them if they resist implementing a quota system that targets their own communities.   

The plaintiffs claim that the New York Police Department is violating a state labor law by enforcing quotas of issuing “summons, tickets or number of arrests.” They further allege they are unfairly punished when they are “unwilling to perform racially discriminatory and unwarranted enforcement actions against the minority community,” the New York Daily News reported.     

Pedro Serrano, a Puerto Rican officer, said he was told by a superior that a predominantly Puerto Rican neighborhood are “animals” when he complained about racist policing there. Serrano also received poor performance evaluations for reporting police malpractice and criticizing the illegal quotas, according to ThinkProgress.   

Serrano is one of the plaintiffs who say they are unfairly punished and harassed by colleagues and superiors with threats of being laid off, denial of benefits, and downgrades.   

The lawsuit claims that resistance to racist policing by officers of color has “led to a racially unfair and unreasonable performance evaluation system … to which white police officers are not subjected.”   

Adhyl Polanco, a Latino officer who went to the media in 2009 to expose how arrest and summons quotas disproportionately affect communities of color, said he has since earned a bad reputation that has led to bullying, being called a “f*cking b*tch,” suspension, probation and being placed on mental watch.   

Another officer, Sandy Gonzalez, was stationed alone in the cold as punishment for refusing to meet the enforced quota.   

The NYPD however asserts that the police department does not impose such quotas.   

“There are no numerical enforcement quotas established by the NYPD,” Deputy Commissioner Stephen Davis said in a statement. “Performance evaluations are conducted for all department employees based on an assessment of their duties, responsibilities and specific conditions of their assignments.”

Source : Telesur

Sep 3, 2015

Guatemalan President Otto Perez Molina Resigns

President Otto Perez Molina finally bowed to pressure and announced his resignation, according to his press office.

Just a few hours after an arrest warrant was issued against him, Guatemalan President Otto Perez Molina, who had vowed he would not resign, announced he would step down from office, his press team announced this Thursday morning.

Jorge Ortega, the president's spokesman said that Molina submitted his resignation at midnight local time just hours after a judge issued an arrest warrant in his name late Wednesday.

Prosecutors accuse the president of masterminding a scheme to embezzle millions of dollars from customs service as part of a fraud ring, which the country's vice president has already been jailed and faces charges over.

The allegations against Molina were made by influential sectors in Guatemala, including the office of human rights, the agricultural, rural, industrial, and financial committees, the Peasant Unity Committee, the Catholic and Evangelical churches and members of civil organizations.

The Central American country is still struggling to recover from the U.S.-funded civil war (1960-1996), which saw more than 200,000 Guatemalans killed, most of them Indigenous Mayans. It currently faces high rates of poverty and ranks among one of the most corrupt countries in the world, according to the 2014 Corruption Perceptions Index by Transparency International.

The letter of resignation submitted by Guatemalan President Otto Perez Molina early Thursday. Photo: El Periodico

Source : Telesur

Sep 2, 2015

Baltimore Judge OKs Police Trial in Killing of Freddie Gray

Six Baltimore police officers were charged in connection with the police in-custody death of the 25-year-old.

A Baltimore judge Wednesday rejected motions to drop charges against the six police officers charged in the high-profile death of Freddie Gray, who suffered a fatal spinal injury while in Baltimore police custody last April.   

Baltimore City Circuit Court Judge Barry Williams also rejected calls for State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby to be removed from the case."The motion is hereby dismissed," he said, paving the way for a trial to begin next month.​

The six officers involved in Gray´s arrest and subsequent death face charges ranging from false imprisonment to involuntary manslaughter. All six have pleaded not guilty.

The legal defense team sought the removal of Mosby from the prosecution team and demanded that the officers be tried separately.

At least one person was arrested and another reportedly runover during protests outside the court, where small groups of demonstrators gathered to demand justice for Gray and his family.

"Our message is pretty obvious. Do not drop the charges. No change in venue. Do not recuse Marilyn Mosby," said Sharon Black of the Baltimore People's Power Assembly, an organization that has been involved in police brutality protests. The group has roughly 50 to 75 people, according to police.

The death of Freddie Gray, 25, in April drew worldwide attention, sparking protests and contributing to a national debate on police treatment of minorities in the United States.

The actual trial is scheduled to begin Oct. 13

Source : Telesur

Russia to Build Protective Fence on Border With Ukraine

The length of the fence is reported to reach 3.22 kilometers. The construction aims to prevent illegal activity on Russian-Ukrainian border.

Russia’s FSB border service released an online order for the construction of the protective fence on the most vulnerable spots of the state border in Russia’s Rostov region.

"The construction is designed to curb illegal activities on the state border," the service’s representative told RIA Novosti.

The maximum contract price will reach 9.9 million rubles (about $150 000). The work is expected to be completed by December 1, 2015.

Protective constructions on the Russia-Ukraine border have also been built in the past. Authorities created protective engineering constructions stretching 140 kilometers, including 100 kilometers of ditches and 40 kilometers of fences.
 Recently, the construction activities intensified amid an increase in attempts to smuggle arms and ammunition. They also serve to prevent illegal crossing of the state border by car.

The Ukrainian government announced earlier plans to build a modern powerful complex of fortifications on the border with Russia. Kiev is planning to implement the initiative in the course of three years, though experts doubt that Ukrainian authorities will meet the deadline due to the high cost of the project ($ 4 billion).

Source : SputnikNews

Chinese Warships Maneuver Near Alaska Coast for First Time Ever

In a reported first, Pentagon officials on Wednesday reported that five Chinese Navy ships were spotted off the coast of Alaska.

Pentagon officials said they’ve been monitoring three Chinese combat ships, a replenishment vessel, and an amphibious ship, which in the last few days have entered the Bering Sea.

Officials declined to say how close the vessels are to American shores, but stressed that the ships remain in international waters.

"This would be a first in the vicinity of the Aleutian Islands," a defense official told the Wall Street Journal. "I don’t think we’d characterize anything they’re doing as threatening."
The incident comes just hours before a large-scale military parade is set to be held in Beijing. Meant to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, the parade will showcase a variety of new Chinese military equipment.

Pentagon officials suggested there could be a number of ways to interpret the presence of the Chinese Navy in the area.

"It’s difficult to tell exactly, but it indicates some interest in the Arctic region," the official told the Wall Street Journal.
The move comes amid President Obama’s visit to the state, intended to highlight the effects of global warming. With rapidly melting sea ice, a number of nations are making claims on the waters of the energy-rich Arctic. The United States, Canada, Norway, Russia, and Denmark, have all staked claims.
Beijing is an active member of the Arctic Council.

The move could also be seen as a logical reaction to the growing presence of the US Navy in the Pacific, and, in particular, the South China Sea. Washington has repeatedly expressed concern over Beijing’s construction of artificial islands in the Spratly archipelago. While the Chinese government has assured the US that those installations will be used primarily for humanitarian purposes, the Pentagon has staged a number of military drills with regional allies near Chinese waters.

The Chinese military also recently completed joint drills with Russia approximately 2,000 miles west of the Bering Sea.

The Chinese defense ministry has not provided any comment on the ships. 
Source : SputnikNews

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