So, What Color IS That Dress, Anyway?

By webdesk@voanews.com (Zlatica Hoke) It’s universally acknowledged that people sometimes see things differently. A British fashion retailer has inadvertently put forward another proof of that with a photo of a new dress that different people see in different colors. The photo has sparked a worldwide debate — and has increased sales of the garment. VOA’s Zlatica Hoke reports.

Via:: Voice of America

Donetsk rebels announce full heavy weapons withdrawal in E. Ukraine

By RT

The self-defense forces of the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) said they completed the withdrawal of heavy weaponry from the 500-kilometer demarcation line.

Heavy weapons were pulled back on Saturday in Donetsk, Torez, Dmitrovka, Pervomaisk, Bezymennoye, and Samoylovka, according to DPR spokesman Eduard Basurin.

“During the whole withdrawal operation, the DNR militia has pulled out 21 artillery groups,” he said.

The militias in Lugansk Region said they relocated most of their heavy arms, but will need a couple more days to complete the withdrawal.

READ MORE: OSCE ‘welcomes’ artillery withdrawal by both sides in E. Ukraine

“As of mid-day February 28, the corps of the people’s militia has withdrawn 80 percent of heavy weapons from the demarcation line. By March 2 or 3, the process of the withdrawal of heavy weapons is planned to be completed. Of course, if there are no incidents,” a Lugansk People’s Republic (LPR) statement reads.

Ukrainian forces are also withdrawing their heavy weapons, but the rebels blame Kiev for delaying the process. According to Basurin, Ukraine has so far pulled out only 15 percent of its hardware in the Donetsk and Lugansk Regions.

“There was no control from the OSCE (Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe) and the weaponry was relocated to positions from which it can be returned within an hour,” the DPR representative said.

According to the daily report by the OSCE’s Special Monitoring Mission, the Ukrainian military’s staff said it can speed up the withdrawal of weapons if the ceasefire agreed during the Minks talks holds.

The report said that on Friday, observers witnessed the withdrawal of four DPR convoys and two LPR convoys, while Kiev pulled out some of is hardware from Artemovsk and Alekseyevo-Druzhkovka.

READ MORE: Kiev trying to invalidate weapons withdraw plan, undermine Minsk deal – militia officials

The deputy chief monitor of the OSCE mission to Ukraine, Alexander Hug, told DPA news agency that the ceasefire between Kiev and the rebels is holding along most of the demarcation line. However, the sides may require more time to complete the withdrawal of heavy weaponry than the two-week period agreed in Minsk.

The withdrawal of heavy weaponry is a mandatory step set out by the Minsk ceasefire agreements signed earlier this month. Under the deal, both sides must pull their heavy weapons back from the demarcation line to form a buffer zone of 50 to 140km, depending on the type of weapon.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko told 112 channel that at “any moment, our military is ready to redeploy its hardware to the former positions if there is a need to repel the enemy.”

A prisoner exchange is also underway between the sides, with Kiev’s negotiator, Yury Tandit, saying he expects all Ukraine servicemen to be released by March 5.

The country’s conflict began in April 2014, after Kiev sent its military to the southeastern regions that refused to recognize the new coup-imposed authorities in the capital. Nearly a year of fighting has led to at least 5,793 deaths, according to UN estimates. Another 14,595 people have been wounded.

Via:: RT.com

Paris Tent Camp Reflects Plight of Europe’s Asylum-Seekers

By webdesk@voanews.com (Lisa Bryant) About a mile from Paris’ iconic Montmartre neighborhood is a spot where very few tourists go. It is a busy overpass that shelters a collection of small, dirty tents. The metro rumbles overhead. Trains pass by below.

The residents of this tent camp mostly come from East Africa. Everybody has a different story. But nobody wanted to end up on this bridge, with no toilet, no home and, for now, no future.

Mikias, 24, said he was a student in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, before leaving his country in 2013. He fled “because we have a political war. Like, you know ethnic group Oromo? Well, I’m Oromo.”

Mikias said he had applied for asylum in France and had received papers. He is waiting for a final interview — six months from now. Until then, he is stuck in this tent camp.

Prasi, 25, said he was also a student, from Sudan’s Darfur region. He said he left because the government had harassed him. He crossed the desert to Libya, “and from Libya, take the boat, and take the Mediterranean. And it was just a small boat and there were a big number of people. And the boat is broken in the middle of the water. And we had to wait [for the coast guard]. … They took us to the land.”

From Italy, Prasi made his way to Paris. “As soon as I arrived here, I claimed asylum,” he said. “From appointment to another appointment. Trying to get accommodation, but nothing happens. When you go, they say a lot of people, need to queue [line up], waiting. Need to come again and again. Now, almost going on 1 1/2 years.”

Throng of applicants

Rights advocates have heard the stories many times before. After Germany, France hosts Europe’s largest number of asylum-seekers, with around 60,000 applicants, and about 40 percent of people applying for asylum in France live in the capital, many of them on the streets.

“That explains [why] there is a huge problem of reception conditions, housing and accommodation for these people,” said Jean-Francois Dubost, who is in charge of Amnesty International France’s Uprooted People’s Program. “And that’s why we can find places where they are just living everywhere, in places where there is nothing.”

That is not the way it is supposed to be. Under French law, asylum-seekers are entitled to government accommodation while their claims are processed. The European Union also sets basic standards that governments must meet. But for now, France simply does not have enough places to house them.

Pierre Henry, general director of France Terre d’Asile, a nongovernmental organization that helps asylum-seekers in France, said it was unacceptable to have tent camps like the one on the bridge. The nation needs to reorganize its asylum system, he said, and if it’s not done soon, France will pay a price.

Eric Lejoindre, mayor of Paris’ 18th administrative district, where the tent camp is located, agreed that things must change.

“They come from countries where it’s impossible to live,” he said of the asylum-seekers. “Up to today, we haven’t had problems of violence or theft … but the encampment can’t stay. The encampment can’t stay because it’s not a place to live.”

A bill in the French parliament aims to address some of the problems. It would cut in half the time to process asylum applications to about nine months.

“I think it’s necessary that France … stays a place where people who seek refuge can find refuge,” Lejoindre said. “But everything can’t be concentrated around Paris. … The country as a whole has to be part of the asylum policy. And that’s the whole point of the reform which is being passed in parliament.”

Amnesty’s Dubost said there are positive aspects to the bill. But he is skeptical.

“The whole spirit of the law proposed by the French government is quite oriented in the fight against false refugees,” he said. “and that’s our great concern. The spirit isn’t going the right way.”

Barriers in some countries

Rights activists say that’s a problem reflected elsewhere in Europe, as the region tries to stem an influx of illegal immigrants. The U.N. refugee agency UNHCR has said it’s worried about reports that some EU countries have blocked the entry of or have forcibly returned asylum-seekers and refugees.

“For the EU governments, the refugee situation is just a migration situation, among others, and they use migration control tools to deal with asylum issues, or asylum-seekers,” Dubost said.

At the tent camp under the overpass, Prasi said he also had little faith in the political system.

“The politician come on TV, on the radio, talking, talking,” he said. “And you believe that, oh, man, now I have a good chance. But there’s no chance. Every time, new law, new, new, new. But nothing new for us, just new for them.”

So asylum-seekers in France are counting on hope — and a long wait.

Via:: Voice of America

Александр Черкасов, Убийство Бориса Немцова: ответственность власти

By info@echo.msk.ru (Эхо Москвы)

Заявление Международного общества “Мемориал”

В ночь с 27 на 28 февраля 2015 года в центре Москвы, в сотне метров от Кремля, застрелен Борис Немцов. Это – политическое убийство.

В последние годы и месяцы власть России и служащие ей средства массовой информации создали атмосферу ненависти к любому инакомыслию. Государственная пропаганда не только “высвечивает», подобно прожектору, мишень для убийц, но и создает у них ощущение безнаказанности. Оппозиционных и просто независимых общественных и политических активистов называют вражескими агентами, по сути объявляя их “разрешенной целью». Так, на 1 марта на канале НТВ был объявлен показ очередной серии “Анатомии протеста», где Борису Немцову отведена роль одного из главных “врагов».

Но пропагандой дело уже не ограничивается: с подачи власти создан “Антимайдан» – отряды штурмовиков, открыто провозглашающие своей целью силовое, за рамками закона, подавление оппозиции. Эти силы тесно связаны с “ополченцами», воюющими на востоке Украины, откуда в Россию возвращаются люди, имеющие опыт прямого и безнаказанного вооруженного насилия.

Сегодня мы еще не знаем имен исполнителей, организаторов, заказчиков преступления. Но мы можем определенно утверждать: именно российская власть создала все предпосылки для убийства Бориса Немцова.

Via:: Echo Moscow

Art of camouflage: Paris artist’s painted models merge with cars, fridges & shelves (VIDEO)

By RT

Family and friends are canvases good enough for French ‘camouflage artist’ Laurent La Gamba. His models are hovering in front of the chosen objects.

“These people [models] are just relatives. Sometimes I work with students. Sometimes I work with friends. If I work in the public place I use the people that are working in this place,” La Gamba told RT.

The 48-year-old artist started his path on the art of camouflage back in 2002.

“I wanted to find something more challenging for my work. So I decided to go outside to experiment my skills on something that I had to perform in really short time. The idea was a challenge at first.”

There is no Photoshop as one may think at first time – all the models have been carefully and thoroughly painted to fit in the scenery behind them.

The choice of the environment is vast – it can be a large swimming pool or a small fridge or even shelves in the local supermarket.

“The illusion of creating something that is really difficult to do technically is coming from my desire of trying to seduce the viewer,” says La Gamba.

One of his latest conceptions is making people vanish in posh sport cars. He shot his eerie project in the Pyrenees, southern France, where he has a studio. The video with the cars is extremely difficult to do, says the artist.

“My idea is always to challenge myself to discover a new project where the challenge is even more challenging all the time,” he adds.

Via:: RT.com