Monday, February 20, 2017

Russian ambassador to UN Vitaly Churkin dies day before turning 65

Russian ambassador to UN Vitaly Churkin dies day before turning 65

Vitaly Churkin, who served as Russia's permanent representative to the United Nations since 2006, "died suddenly" in New York, the Russian Foreign Ministry announced.
Churkin would have turned 65 on Tuesday. 
The announcement "of the untimely passing away of Ambassador Vitaly Churkin this morning" was met with shock when it was delivered during a session at the UN headquarters.
"He was a dear colleague of all of us, a deeply committed diplomat of his country and one of the finest people we have known," a UN official who delivered the news to her colleagues said.

Russian ambassador to UN Vitaly Churkin dies (SPECIAL COVERAGE)

Vitaly Churkin, who served as Russia's permanent representative to the United Nations since 2006, "died suddenly" in New York, the Russian Foreign Ministry announced.


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Sunday, February 19, 2017

Use of tactical nukes would still spell full-blown nuclear war – ex-US Defense Sec (Full Transcript)

Use of tactical nukes would still spell full-blown nuclear war – ex-US Defense Sec

In a symbolic warning about how close the world stands to suffering a nuclear catastrophe, the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists has moved the Doomsday Clock closer to midnight. The existential threat now poses a greater danger to humanity than at any time since the height of the Cold War. The standoff between Russia the US, the world’s biggest nuclear powers, as well as regional conflicts and the threat of terrorists getting their hands on nuclear material, can all lead to disastrous consequences. With global politics growing more unstable, are nuclear arms still the strongest deterrent to global war, or are they the biggest menace to the security of the world? And, with a new president in the White House, how will America’s nuclear arms policy evolve?

We ask former US Secretary of Defense Dr. William Perry.
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Sophie Shevardnadze: Former US Secretary of Defense, William Perry, welcome to the show, great to have you with us. Mr. Perry,  I remember, ten years ago at the Munich security conference, President Putin warned of growing global instability - wars in the Middle East, NATO expansion and a nuclear arms race. This was a decade ago - why have things got only worse during this time? 
William Perry: I think, both the US and Russia have found themselves engaged in a war of words. Rhetoric has been increasingly belligerent, and also, military buildups and threats of military buildups. I think that has put us on a dangerous path, and I'm hoping that President Trump and President Putin will be able to find a way of getting us out on a safer path, relevant to the security of both of our countries.
SS:   President Trump has called for the expansion of America’s nuclear capabilities on one occasion, on another he’s called for reducing nukes ‘very substantially’ - so which is it going to be?
WP:  I think, we won’t really know what President Trump is going to do on defense issues, on security issues, until he submits his first defense budget in a few months. Then we will see whether he’s willing to spend additional funds for defense, which will compete, of course, with other pressures of the economy - and particular, what he will do relevant to the nuclear weapons. I think, on the nuclear weapons, he has said he’s going to maintain strong military, but that very much depends on what Russia is doing on nuclear weapons. There’s a possibility for both Russia and the US to increase spending on nuclear weapons, which seems in the direction we’re heading now. Not only that will be costly for both countries, but also dangerous for both countries. There’s a distinct possibility that President Trump and President Putin can decide in the interest of both our nations to decrease the emphasis and decrease the spending on nuclear weapons. That not only will allow both countries to improve their economy, but I think, more importantly, it will lower the danger for both counties.
SS:    You keep warning people that the chance of a nuclear crisis is greater now than it was when you were Clinton’s Defense Minister. But false alarms happened then, too, and it didn't lead to nuclear war - what is different now?
WP:  What is different now is that, besides the danger of a nuclear war, there’s a danger of either US or Russia miscalculating or blundering into nuclear war. Quite clear to me that neither country wants a nuclear war and will deliberately start a nuclear war. The danger now is the same as the danger in the Cold War, that we will blunder into a nuclear war, as we almost did, for example, during the Cuban Missile Crisis. But beyond those dangers, which are like the dangers of the Cold War, there are new dangers: one of them is a possibility of nuclear terrorism and of course, the nuclear bomb set up by a terror group could go off in Moscow or in Washington or in New York or in Saint-Petersburg - so that danger’s new, it didn't exist during the Cold War. Beyond that, there’s a danger of regional nuclear war, for example, between India and Pakistan. So, there are new dangers that didn’t exist during the Cold War. So, the danger of some kind of nuclear catastrophe is greater than it was during the Cold War. We can do many things to reduce those dangers, but what’s really important is for the United States and Russia to understand that these nuclear dangers are a danger to both of our countries and find a way of working together to lower the dangers.

Clashes Erupt as Protests Against Police Violence Resume in Paris (PHOTO, VIDEO)

Protests in Paris

Clashes Erupt as Protests Against Police Violence Resume in Paris (PHOTO, VIDEO)

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Over 2,000 people took part in a protest against police violence in the French capital of Paris on Saturday. The demonstration resulted in massive unrest, leaving one police officer injured.

Previously, a series of protests have swept through Paris and other French regions. People protested police misconduct during an incident on February 2, when a 22-year-old named Theo, allegedly involved in drug dealing, was detained and violently beaten by law enforcement. Since the riots erupted on February 4 over 240 people have been arrested.
Some 2,300 people gathered at a recent demonstration in Paris. The protest resulted in clashes with police.
Sputnik France correspondent reported that demonstrators threw stones at the police, injuring at least one law enforcement officer. In response, the police used tear gas and several protesters were arrested. 
People gathered at the Place de la Republique at 3:00 p.m. local time. They were chanting slogans calling, including "Social peace without violence," "Police are everywhere, justice is nowhere," "That’s impunity and injustice. Let’s disarm the police."

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​At the entrance, demonstrators had to undergo security checks. Only journalists wearing helmets were allowed to the site.
The nearest metro station was closed for several hours before the demonstration kicked off and the entire area was cordoned by police. A significant number of law enforcement officers were engaged to provide order and security at the site.
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  • Protests in Paris
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Protests in Paris
Similar protests were also organized in other French cities, including Rennes, Dijon, Poitiers and Nice.

UN Aid Agencies Prepare for Impact of Military Operations in Western Mosul

Iraqi security forces advance towards the western side of Mosul, Iraq February 19, 2017

UN Aid Agencies Prepare for Impact of Military Operations in Western Mosul

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UN humanitarian agencies in Iraq have been bracing for the humanitarian impact of the newly launched operation to liberate Mosul, according to the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

MOSCOW (Sputnik) — Earlier on Sunday, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Abadi announced the start of the operations to liberate the western part of Mosul from Daesh.
"We don’t know what will happen during the military campaign but we have to be ready for all scenarios. Tens of thousands of people may flee or be forced to leave the city. Hundreds of thousands of civilians might be trapped — maybe for weeks, maybe for months… Protecting civilians is the highest priority in a situation like this" Lise Grande, the Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq, said, as quoted in the OCHA statement.
Citing recent surveys, the OCHA stressed that the city was running low on food and fuel supplies, with the majority of food stores ill supplied or closed and limited electricity. The statement further notes that "few, if any commercial supplies have reached Mosul during the past three months after the main road to Syria was cut-off."
The organization is said to be constructing emergency sites south of the city and preparing aid supplies for civilians who may flee during the operation.
The United Nations temporarily suspended humanitarian aid operations in the newly liberated parts of eastern Mosul on Tuesday due to worsening security conditions on the ground. The resumption of the missions was scheduled for Sunday.
Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, was captured by Daesh militants in June 2014. Iraqi and US-led coalition forces liberated the eastern part of the city in late January 2017, while its western part remains under terrorists’ control. Based on UN estimates, there are between 750,000 and 800,000 civilians residing in western Mosul.



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