Deadly Attacks In Donetsk Test Ukraine Peace Deal

By webdesk@voanews.com (Henry Ridgwell) After a series of attacks by pro-Moscow militia, Ukraine’s prime minister has accused Russia of failing to honor the cease-fire agreement signed on September 5. At least nine Ukrainian soldiers have been killed in the last two days. Tentative peace deal appears to be holding despite the violence.

Putting new equipment to the test – soldiers from Ukraine’s National Guard opened fire on a test model of a new armored vehicle Tuesday, at an army base outside Kyiv. Commanders hope it will give them more protection on patrol during anti-separatist operations in eastern Ukraine.

Watching the demonstration was Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk. He accused Russia of failing to honor the cease-fire deal signed in Minsk in September.

“A cease-fire is when nobody is attacking and nobody is dying,” he said, adding that “Russia signed 12 points on the Minsk memorandum and should fulfill every point of it. Words and deeds are too far apart in Russia.”

Pro-Moscow rebels launched an offensive against government forces at Donetsk airport Monday – a key battleground in recent weeks. The Kremlin denies it’s giving the rebels military support.

One condition of the cease-fire is being met – the exchange of prisoners held by both sides. But Kyiv accuses the separatists of stretching the peace deal to the breaking point. Colonel Andriy Lysenko is spokesman for Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council.

“Over 1,000 hostages have been released during the cease-fire, adding that they are seeing more shootings and more attacks by separatists and pro-Russian rebels,” he said.

In a provocative move, residents tore down a statue of former Soviet ruler Vladimir Lenin in the eastern city of Kharkiv Sunday. Pro-Russians in the city had defended the statue earlier this year when several others were being destroyed across Ukraine. Leonid Onischenko was among the crowd cheering the demolition.

“It was an insult having the statue here”, he said. “We are an independent country and we have a monument to the former leader of the neighboring state, which attacked us at least three times in the last century, and now in this century.”

A column of tanks and armored vehicles – free of insignia, except for the flag of the separatists’ self-styled Donetsk People’s Republic – was seen traveling through Makiivka on the outskirts of Donetsk Monday. Kyiv says only Russia could be supplying such military hardware.

Via:: Voice of America

Deadly Attacks In Donetsk Test Ukraine Peace Deal

By webdesk@voanews.com (Henry Ridgwell) After a series of attacks by pro-Moscow militia, Ukraine’s prime minister has accused Russia of failing to honor the cease-fire agreement signed on September 5. At least nine Ukrainian soldiers have been killed in the last two days. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from near the frontline in eastern Ukraine, the tentative peace deal appears to be holding despite the violence.

Via:: Voice of America

Europe and Eurasia: Department of State Engages European Allies on Defense Trade

Department of State Engages European Allies on Defense Trade

Media NoteOffice of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
September 30, 2014

Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs Ken Handelman, with Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Export Administration Kevin Wolf, traveled to Brussels September 29-30 to meet with European and NATO counterparts, as well as European industry. The delegation will discuss how Export Control Reform supports our partners and allies, promotes U.S. defense sales abroad, and addresses defense trade matters of mutual interest.

The delegation will then travel to Amsterdam October 1-2 to attend the SMi Group Conference on Defense Exports, where they will be joined by Ms. Beth McCormick, Director, Defense Technology Security Administration, and will provide an update on the President’s Export Control Reform Initiative, and liaise with global counterparts on the harmonization of international export control policies.

For further information, please contact the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, Office of Congressional and Public Affairs at PM-CPA@state.gov.

The Office of Website Management, Bureau of Public Affairs, manages this site as a portal for information from the U.S. State Department.
External links to other Internet sites should not be construed as an endorsement of the views or privacy policies contained therein.

Via:: US State Department

Aral Sea: How one of the world’s largest lakes turned into a ship cemetery (VIDEOS)

By RT

READ MORE: Shocking NASA pics show Aral Sea basin now completely dry

1. The journey begins back in 1972, when the first images of the shrinking Aral Sea were taken by a Landsat satellite. A time-lapse of Asia reveals that many of the lake’s areas were completely dry by 2009.

2. The ambitious Soviet project – a diversion of the two rivers that fed into the Aral Sea – was only a short-term success. The engineers decided that the Amu Darya and Syr Darya rivers would irrigate the desert, where cotton could be grown for future exports – but the implementation of the idea led to an ecological catastrophe.

3. Imagine yourself traveling from the small Kazakh city of Aralsk to the Aral Sea, which is slowly and steadily dying. Having turned into desert, it is now home to camels and abandoned ships decorated with graffiti depicting the ghosts of sailors.

4. One of the world’s worst man-made environmental disasters, the Aral Sea was once the size of Ireland. RT’s Lindsay France went to Kazakhstan to report on the ambitious attempts to rejuvenate the sea with the help of dams.

5. The Aral Sea’s demise also puts the health of people living on its shores at risk. “You can’t see salt in the air, but you feel it on the skin, and you can feel it on a tongue,” said a local woman, whose husband suffers from chronic bronchitis. But the salt isn’t the only threat; the wind also spreads dangerous pesticides.

6. Scientific forecasts have long been claiming that the Aral Sea is beyond salvation and will die within a decade. However, with the water flowing back, there are hopes for Aralsk – which was once a port city – and its economy.

7. The water level is growing, and fish are returning to the Aral Sea – which was once home to the region’s prosperous fishing industry. “They brought the sea back to us,” a local fisherman told RT’s Lindsay France.

8. According to explorer and adventurer George Kourounis, who visited parts of the ‘ghost’ Aral Sea, “the brisk trade and friendly used bucks belie the intense hardship that comes when your livelihood literally evaporates.”

9. Recent photos taken by NASA’s Terra satellite reveal the scale of the Aral Sea’s drought over the past 14 years, starting in 2000. The eastern basin of the Southern Sea, one of the two parts of the Aral, has dried up for the first time in an estimated 600 years.

10. Rescue efforts include more than just mere discussion, as vegetation has been planted in the exposed seabed. However, many projects are at stake due to a lack of funds or political will.

Via:: RT.com

Europe and Eurasia: On the Occasion of the Republic of Cyprus National Day

On the Occasion of the Republic of Cyprus National Day

Press StatementJohn Kerry
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
September 30, 2014

On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I congratulate the people of the Republic of Cyprus as you celebrate your national day on October 1.

Fifty-four years after Cyprus’s independence, the bond between our two countries remains strong. In New York City last week, I had the opportunity to meet with President Anastasiades and Foreign Minister Kasoulides to discuss our shared challenges. We will continue to work closely together on initiatives to counter terrorism and promote regional security.

The strong partnership between our two countries is also reflected in the growing economic, cultural, and educational exchanges between our citizens. We look forward to deepening our commercial and people-to-people ties for the benefit of both Cypriots and Americans.

I remain fully committed to supporting efforts to reunify the island as a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation. I am hopeful that this goal can be achieved soon, so that all Cypriots may live in greater peace and prosperity.

I send warmest wishes on this important day.

The Office of Website Management, Bureau of Public Affairs, manages this site as a portal for information from the U.S. State Department.
External links to other Internet sites should not be construed as an endorsement of the views or privacy policies contained therein.

Via:: US State Department

Darth Vader, Yoda, Chewbacca aim to invade Ukraine’s parliament in upcoming election

By RT

READ MORE: Violence erupts near toppled Lenin statue in Kharkov, Ukraine (VIDEOS)

The Star Wars contenders will run under Ukraine’s Internet Party, which has 11 million supporters according to its website. Darth Vader, one of the greatest movie villains in cinema history, is the number one candidate on the party’s list.

Дарт Вейдер и Интернет партия вновь агитирует за себя на улицах Украины http://t.co/W7IhRbSSIF pic.twitter.com/LTa0NE2g7t

— Козырев Антон (@uasociolog) September 21, 2014

According to the Internet Party and the Central Election Committee, Darth Vader is listed as the director of the “Dark Side of the Force” limited liability company. Palpatine – born in 1990 – is the director of a financial group under his own name, while Chewbacca is a leading engineer of a thermophysics institute.

Шта? +Вейдер и Йода. Интернет-партия Украины pic.twitter.com/1KmmL8x8pD

— Павел Ткач (@Pavel_Tkach) September 30, 2014

Yoda, 31, is also listed as a director, while Padme Amidala is unemployed.

Messages on billboards around Ukraine suggest the candidates will fight corruption while saying ‘yes’ to peace and ‘no’ to war. The characters are also welcoming of their fellow candidates.

“I congratulate Ukraine’s Central Election Committee on a wise decision to seamlessly register my associates. The list includes people who are widely known for their moral position on key questions in state administration,” a statement by Darth Vader on the party’s official webpage reads.

It adds that each of the five parliament candidates “openly represent interests of one of Ukraine’s five financial and political groups.”

Lord Darth Vader already attempted to make his mark on Ukrainian politics earlier this year. His presidential campaign involved reforging the republic of Ukraine into an empire and restoring its former glory. However, he was barred from running and never made it onto the ballot.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko dismissed the country’s parliament on August 25 and called for parliamentary elections on October 26.

Via:: RT.com

Illicit drugs and prostitution bolster Britain’s economy by £11 billion per annum – ONS

By RT

Revised data released by the government statistical body indicates that household spending increased in 2012, partially as a result of Britons’ consumption of narcotics and prostitution services.

The ONS estimated the average yearly impact of illegal narcotics – such as heroine and cocaine –on household expenditure between 1997 and 2013 to be £6.7 ($10.8) billion per year.

Meanwhile, prostitution contributes £4.3 billion ($6.9 billion) per year to Britain’s economy if gauged in terms of current market prices, the body suggests.

Data released by the ONS in May estimated that illegal drugs and prostitution contributed approximately £10 billion ($16.2 billion) to the UK economy between 1997 and 2009. This figure exceeded the amount spent on the construction of houses across the state over the same period.

Until recently, financial data on the use of prostitution and drugs weren’t factored into Britain’s official gross domestic product (GDP) measure. The ONS report published in May marked the first time that such industries were included in official GDP estimates.

The ONS emphasized in its May report that new estimates of Britain’s GDP “cover the import, production and sale of illegal drugs and the provision of prostitution services.”

READ MORE: Sex and drugs add $16.7 billion to UK economy

Calculating the figures became a priority for the British government as the nation moved to integrate its public accounts with a new European Union model from September 2014 onwards.

If black market economic activity is factored into Britain’s GDP measurements, experts suggest the nation’s economy has experienced more growth than initially believed in recent years.

Meanwhile, Britain’s recovery from the depths of a recent recession that threatened to derail the nation’s economy is thought to have begun earlier than initially estimated.

The UK’s GDP rose 0.9 percent between April and June of this year – the most rapid increase since the third quarter of 2013.

Via:: RT.com