Pages: 1 ... 4 5 [6] 7 8 ... 10
 51 
 on: Dec 19, 2014, 09:13 AM 
Started by Steve - Last post by Rad
Backed by U.S. Airstrikes, Kurds Reverse an ISIS Gain

By TIM ARANGO
DEC. 18, 2014
IHT

BAGHDAD — Kurdish forces, backed by a surge of American airstrikes in recent days, recaptured a large swath of territory from Islamic State militants on Thursday, opening a path from the autonomous Kurdish region to Mount Sinjar in the west, near the Syrian border.

The two-day offensive, which involved 8,000 fighters, known as pesh merga, was the largest one to date in the war against the Islamic State, also known as ISIS and ISIL, according to Kurdish officials. It was also a successful demonstration of President Obama’s strategy for battling the extremist group: American air power combined with local forces doing the fighting on the ground.

A statement released Thursday night by the office of Masrour Barzani, the head of the Kurdistan Regional Security Council, called the operation “the single biggest military offensive against ISIS, and the most successful.”

In August, a siege of Mount Sinjar, where thousands of people from the Yazidi religious minority were stranded and at risk of being slaughtered by the Islamic State, prompted Mr. Obama to begin the air campaign against ISIS. The airstrikes, as well as humanitarian aid drops, helped lift the siege, and thousands of Yazidis escaped the mountain, some to Kurdish areas of Syria.

But more recently, Kurdish officials said, some of those refugees had been pushed out of Syria by ISIS and were again stranded in the area, although Kurdish forces and other militias have maintained control of the mountain.

The offensive was backed by 53 airstrikes from the American-led coalition, Lt. Gen. James L. Terry, the overall commander of the anti-ISIS campaign, who is based in Kuwait, told Pentagon reporters in a teleconference Thursday. The strikes near Sinjar have destroyed ISIS storage units, bulldozers, guard towers, vehicles and three bridges, according to the Pentagon. Some of the strikes were conducted by low-flying A-10 attack jets, which were recently shifted from Afghanistan and are typically used to target tanks and other armored vehicles.

“We will relentlessly pursue Daesh in order to degrade and destroy its capabilities and defeat their efforts,” he said, referring to ISIS by an Arabic acronym.

In a separate statement, the Pentagon spokesman, Rear Adm. John F. Kirby, confirmed that in the last few weeks, the international airstrike campaign had also killed several senior or midlevel leaders within ISIS. He would not give details about their identities or roles within ISIS other than to say that their deaths hurt the group’s command capabilities.

Referring to the Kurdish offensive near Sinjar, he said, “Combined efforts like these are having a significant effect on Daesh’s ability to command and control, to resupply, and to conduct maneuvering.”

The Obama administration’s strategy of combining American air power with local ground forces has worked well in northern Iraq, partnering with the Kurds. But lately, it has been less successful in other areas of the country where the embattled Iraqi Army is struggling to push back against ISIS. The United States has about 1,700 troops here to train Iraqi forces, and that figure is expected to rise to roughly 3,000.

While the Iraqi Army, along with Shiite militias, has racked up some victories — including in Jurf al-Sakr, south of Baghdad, and in eastern Diyala Province — it has continued to lose territory in western Anbar Province, despite recent efforts to begin a major offensive there. North of Baghdad, the government recently took back the city of Baiji — an important town that is home to the country’s largest oil refinery — only to lose it after just a few weeks, although fighting continues and the refinery itself remains in government hands.

In the territories it occupies, the Islamic State has continued its reign of terror. On Thursday, the group released yet another gruesome set of pictures, this time of a public beheading near Tikrit of a man whom the group called a sorcerer.

 52 
 on: Dec 19, 2014, 09:12 AM 
Started by Steve - Last post by Rad

Turkey issues arrest warrant for Fethullah Gülen

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan accuses US-based Muslim cleric of trying to overthrow him

Reuters in Istanbul
The Guardian, Friday 19 December 2014 13.46 GMT   

Turkey has issued an arrest warrant for US-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gülen, who President Tayyip Erdoğan accuses of seeking to overthrow him, the state broadcaster TRT Haber has reported.

Gülen, who has lived in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania since 1999, has been in open conflict with Erdoğan since a corruption investigation targeting the then-prime minister’s inner circle a year ago.

Erdoğan blamed the investigation on Gülen, but the cleric denied involvement.

The report could not immediately be confirmed, but if such a step were taken it would be Erdoğan’s most decisive move against Gülen.

Turkish courts have dropped the corruption cases and Erdoğan has purged the state apparatus of suspected Gülen supporters, removing from their posts thousands of police officers and hundreds of judges and prosecutors.

Erdoğan said in April he would ask the United States to extradite Gülen, but such a move could only be made after an arrest warrant was issued and evidence of a crime produced.

A Turkish court on Friday kept a media executive close to Gülen and three other people in custody pending trial on accusations of belonging to a terrorist group, in a case which Erdoğan has defended as a response to “dirty operations” by his enemies.

******************

Turkey Court Releases Anti-Erdogan Editor, Arrests TV Chief

by Naharnet Newsdesk 19 December 2014, 14:41

A Turkish court on Friday ordered the release of an anti-government newspaper editor but remanded the head of a national television network in custody in a controversial case that has strained relations with the European Union.

Ekrem Dumanli, the editor-in-chief of the Zaman daily, was to be freed but Samanyolu TV (STV) chief Hidayet Karaca was placed under arrest after they were detained in weekend raids of suspects accused of plotting to overthrow President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Seven other suspects in the case were ordered released by the court in Istanbul while three more -- all police officers -- were also remanded in custody.

Both the Zaman newspaper and the STV channel are linked to Fethullah Gulen, a Turkish Muslim cleric living the United States, who was once a strong supporter of Erdogan but has turned into his arch foe.

Erdogan accuses Gulen of running a "parallel state" and being behind sensational corruption allegations against his inner circle that broke on December 17 last year.

State-run TRT television said that an arrest warrant had also been issued for Gulen "for leading a terrorist organization".

However the United States has so far paid little attention to repeated requests from Turkey for his extradition from his base in the state of Pennsylvania.

Turkish television said that Karaca had been charged with "forming and running a terrorist organization" while the three police arrested had been charged with "membership of a terrorist organization".

Dumanli has been slapped with an exit ban from Turkey, indicating he is still set to face trial.

According to Zaman's website, after the decision was announced Karaca raised his hands and said: "No need to be worried, God helps."

"Just as this is an arrest order for a fictional scenario, this is a fictional ruling."

"Those who made this decision will appear before the court one day," he said.

His arrest is believed to be linked to a popular drama series on STV, "Tek Turkiye" (One Turkey), which tells the story of a doctor who goes to work in the Kurdish-majority southeast amid the armed rebellion by Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) rebels.

The European Union had condemned the arrests as running contrary to European values but Erdogan has struck back, telling the bloc to "mind their own business" in a row that risks permanently damaging relations.

Source: Agence France Presse

 53 
 on: Dec 19, 2014, 08:58 AM 
Started by Steve - Last post by Rad
Obama will sign Russia sanctions bill without imposing new penalties: White House

Reuters
18 Dec 2014 at 13:45 ET                  

U.S. President Barack Obama will sign a Russian sanctions bill passed by the U.S. Congress but will not yet use the legislation to impose new penalties on Moscow, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said on Thursday.

Earnest, briefing reporters, reiterated that the United States is prepared to roll back U.S. sanctions already imposed against Russia if it takes steps to ease tensions over its aggression against Ukraine.

*************

Lavrov Says New U.S. Sanctions Law Could Undermine Relations with Russia

by Naharnet Newsdesk 19 December 2014, 09:51

New U.S. legislation authorizing sanctions on Russia over the Ukraine crisis could undermine relations between Moscow and Washington for a long time, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was quoted as saying on Friday.

In a phone call with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, Lavrov said that the new legislation "threatening new sanctions against Russia could undermine the possibility of normal cooperation between our countries for a long time," said a foreign ministry statement.

President Barack Obama on Thursday signed a law giving him the authority to impose new sanctions on Russia over Ukraine. He said he was not about to change the sanctions regime on Russia, which is experiencing a dire economic crisis, but that his administration would "continue to review and calibrate our sanctions to respond to Russia's actions."

The United States is calling for Russia to pull out of Crimea, Ukraine's Black Sea peninsula that it annexed in March, and to stop aiding pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine. Russia says it has the historic right to Crimea and that its troops are not in eastern Ukraine.

President Vladimir Putin at his end-of-year news conference on Thursday made it clear he was not willing to compromise on Russia's position on Ukraine.

Source: Agence France Presse

***********

Tusk Says EU Needs Long-Term Russia Strategy Lasting 'Years'

by Naharnet Newsdesk 19 December 2014, 07:08

New EU president Donald Tusk said Thursday the bloc needs a strategy on Russia lasting years, not just weeks or months, to cope with the problems raised by its intervention in Ukraine.

"We need a long perspective strategy... plans for years. We need to be realistic, we have to treat this as a long-term game," Tusk said after chairing his first European Union leaders summit, which reviewed relations with Russia.

"We must go beyond being reactive and defensive," he said, calling on Europeans to "regain our self-confidence and realise our own strength" when dealing with Russia.

Russia's intervention in Ukraine and especially its annexation of Crimea in March has sparked the worst crisis in Europe since the end of the Cold War.

It has also badly exposed differences within the EU over how best to respond.

Some member states such as Germany and Italy with major trade and political ties to Russia have been reluctant to take too hard a line and only came round slowly to imposing sanctions against Moscow.

Others such as Britain pressed for tough sanctions from the start, stressing the need to send a strong message to Russian President Vladimir Putin that the West would not accept a fait accompli in Ukraine and Crimea.

Tusk is the first East European to head the European Council of EU leaders and in his previous role as Polish prime minister advocated a similarly tough response.

On Thursday, he said Russia posed a major challenge for the EU but that the summit discussion had been pragmatic and practical.

"The EU needs a common, united position," he said, adding it was "absolutely clear that all EU states want to be together (in facing) the challenge on our eastern borders."

Source: Agence France Presse

****************

Jail Russian activist Alexei Navalny for 10 years - prosecutors

Lawyers ask judge in Moscow to convict and sentence leader of anti-government protests and his brother for alleged fraud

Agencies in Moscow
The Guardian, Friday 19 December 2014 12.12 GMT   

Russian prosecutors have demanded that the opposition activist Alexei Navalny be imprisoned for a total of 10 years on allegations of fraud.

In their closing arguments in a Moscow court on Friday, prosecutors asked a judge to convict Navalny, who led anti-government protests in 2012, and imprison him for nine years, with an additional year added because of a prior conviction. They asked that his brother Oleg be jailed for eight years.

Both men have said they are innocent of the charges and have dismissed them as part of a Kremlin campaign to stifle dissent.

The pair are accused of stealing from two firms, including an affiliate of the French cosmetics company Yves Rocher, between 2008 and 2012.

In a previous trial in 2013, Navalny was charged with embezzling 16m roubles from a state-owned timber firm and sentenced to prison, but he was released the next day after thousands protested in Moscow. Currently under house arrest, Navalny is serving a suspended five-year jail term for the timber conviction, which Kremlin critics also call a sham.

Prosecutor Nadezhda Ignatova told the court the 10-year term would cover those charges and the earlier conviction.

“The guilt of the defendant has been fully proven,” she said.

Navalny, a western-educated anti-corruption blogger, sighed after the prosecutor spoke and said: “At least it’s easy to count.”

***************

‘Putin is destroying Russia. Why base his regime on corruption?’ asks Navalny

Russia’s opposition leader and anti-corruption campaigner, held under house arrest, says president is using war to stay in power

Shaun Walker in Moscow
The Guardian, Friday 17 October 2014 18.04 BST         

High in a dilapidated Soviet-era tower block miles from the centre of Moscow, the door opens to a small, tidy flat. It belongs to Alexei Navalny, once touted as the most potent threat to the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, to emerge in Russia in recent years.

Since February, the politician and activist has been under house arrest. A voracious social-media user with a talent for 140-character attacks on the Kremlin, the 38-year-old is banned from using the telephone or internet, though his wife can use them. He can only leave the confines of his flat when a police van drives him to hearings of his latest court case.

In a recent relaxation of the terms of his arrest, he is now allowed to speak to people other than his relatives, meaning that for the first time in six months, his colleagues and friends can visit him. He is also able to receive journalists, and the Guardian is the first of the international press to see him since his house arrest began.

Dressed in a blue T-shirt and jeans, he pads barefoot through the small flat into the kitchen, where his wife, Yulia, pours tea. A tagging bracelet around his ankle ensures that if he leaves the flat, the police will be alerted immediately.

“I’m really sick of sitting at home,” he says, with a wry smile. In the corner of the living room is a cross trainer, the only way he can get exercise. “But I’ve had experience of real arrest for up to 15 days several times, and it’s much easier to put up with house arrest when you understand what the alternative is.”

Navalny was the great hope of the wave of street protests that shook Moscow in 2011-2012, with many opposition-minded Russians confidently predicting he would become the next president of Russia.

Those protests petered out after a vicious crackdown saw court cases against its leaders and some ordinary protesters, but Navalny is still the most worrying opposition figure for the Kremlin. Some uneasy liberals point to his nationalist streak and see in him a charismatic but dangerous demagogue.

What is clear is that he is able to win support among voters: despite smears on state television and little access to any normal type of campaigning, he managed to win 27% of the vote in last autumn’s Moscow mayoral elections.

Since then, a lot has happened, notably the annexation of Crimea and the fighting in east Ukraine. A summit in Milan on Friday attended by Putin, Ukraine’s president, Petro Poroshenko, and other European leaders including the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, failed to reinforce the faltering ceasefire.

Despite the fact that many Russian nationalists support the separatists in east Ukraine, Navalny feels Putin has laid the groundwork for his regime’s eventual collapse.

“There’s a lot of commentary now that Putin has shown he’s not about money, and about enriching his businessmen buddies, but he has decided to build a great nation, a great Russia or to resurrect the Soviet Union,” says Navalny, who first became known for his anti-corruption investigations, unveiling the secret mansions and foreign accounts of Putin cronies and government officials. “I think in reality it’s all much more simple. Putin has resorted to the method that various leaders have used for centuries: using war or military actions to solve internal problems and boost ratings. That happens even in democratic countries – look at Bill Clinton in Yugoslavia.”

Unlike most of the liberal opposition, who have never found a common language with ordinary Russians, there was always a sense in the Kremlin that Navalny could be dangerous; a fear that his nationalism and charisma could appeal not only to the Moscow hipsters, but equally to the provincial masses, tired of seeing rampant corruption blight the country’s governance.

Those in power have long been split about how to deal with the troublesome campaigner; some believe he should be locked up, others think he should be free but closely monitored. For a while in 2013, it looked as if an allegation of embezzling funds from a timber company in the city of Kirov would put him in prison; but he was released after a surprise about-face, given a suspended sentence, and allowed to run in Moscow’s mayoral elections.

His good showing there clearly spooked some of those in power. A second court case, based on claims that Navalny and his brother defrauded a Russian subsidiary of the French chain Yves Rocher, began. In February he was put under house arrest, and the case has been rumbling on since.

The strategy for now seems to be to shut him up without causing too much of a scandal. To a large extent, it has worked. There has been little outcry over the fact that he is under house arrest – after all, he is not in jail – but at the same time, working on his anti-corruption investigations has become impossible and he has largely disappeared from public discourse.

With everything else happening in Russia, even the hearings of the second court case receive just a fraction of attention that the Kirov case received. Navalny says about 30 prosecution witnesses have been called so far, and “all of them ended up testifying in our favour – it’s stupid and completely absurd.”
Navalny with his wife, Yulia, in Moscow after his release from jail in Kirov in 2013. He was imprisoned for embezzlement but unexpectedly released. Navalny with his wife, Yulia, in Moscow after he was unexpectedly released from jail in Kirov in 2013. Photograph: Dmitry Lovetsky/AP

He puts the strange zigzagging in the case down to the fact that nobody lower down in the system knows what to do with him.

“Obviously it will be a guilty verdict, but what the sentence will be can only be decided by one man, and that man has a lot of stuff on his plate besides me at the moment. He’s fighting a war against Obama, against the west, against God knows what else.”

The authorities continue to keep Navalny on his toes, and there is always the threat of new criminal cases. Sometimes the charges appear so flimsy they veer into the realm of the absurd. Over the summer, his flat was raided by investigators who seized a picture. The picture had been drawn by a street artist in the town of Vladimir, and been on display on a public wall. Someone pilfered it, and gave it to Navalny as a present.

“The artist has given interviews everywhere saying he never sells his art, that he doesn’t care that it was taken, that he doesn’t want there to be a court case, but they just ignore him – the case exists. From the case materials we can see that FSB [security services] generals are working on the case. They have six top investigators working on it!” Employees of Navalny’s anti-corruption foundation have been questioned, searches carried out, computers and telephones seized.

Indeed, Navalny is such a toxic figure in Russia that any association with him can lead to trouble. In the Kirov court case, a former business partner was hauled into the dock alongside the politician; his brother Oleg is also on trial in the current case.

“That’s one of the most unpleasant parts of my work, because everything that happens around me is basically one giant court case, which spreads out to engulf the people that are close to me,” he says.

It was hinted at several times that he would be better off leaving the country, but he decided to stay. Is he really more use to the opposition cause under house arrest, or potentially in jail, than he would be from abroad?

“Why should I leave? I have not committed any crime. You can agree or disagree with my political position but it’s absolutely legal. And along with me, 90% of Russians think corruption is high, and 80% of Russians think we should bring criminal cases against corrupt officials. It’s also an important matter of trust. If I want people to trust me, then I have to share the risks with them and stay here. How can I call on them to take part in protests and so on if they are risking things and I am not?”

He says it is pointless to make predictions either about his own fate or about how much longer Putin will be in power. Navalny has set up a political party, although it is not able to contest elections, and says he still harbours ambitions that one day he will be actively involved in politics, “including fighting for the top job”.

As for how Putin will finally end up leaving the Kremlin – through a split in the elite, a violent revolution or a democratic transition – Navalny believes one thing is for certain: “In Russia, it will not be elections that provide a change of government.”
Navalny in his own words

On Mikhail Khodorkovsky, formerly owner of Yukos, Russia’s biggest oil company, who was jailed in 2003, released in 2013 and now lives abroad:

“Perhaps if he had stayed an oligarch, I would have had a lot of points of dispute with him, particularly on the rights of minority shareholders, which I worked on as a lawyer. Yukos was famous for various corporate battles. But that was 10 years ago, and discussing it is pointless. I don’t see any position that Khodorkovsky has now that I don’t share.”

On Putin’s reaction to Ukraine:

“Out of nowhere, without any warning, boom: suddenly a genuine, anti-criminal revolution. This was a terrible blow for Putin, a hundred times more painful that the Georgian events, than [former president Mikheil] Saakashvili and his anti-corruption reforms. He cannot allow this in Ukraine. So I think one of his strategic goals in the coming years will be to do absolutely everything to undermine the Ukrainian state, to ensure that no reforms work, so that everything ends in failure.”

On the consequences of Russian actions in Ukraine:

“Putin likes to speak about the ‘Russian world’ but he is actually making it smaller. In Belarus, they sing anti-Putin songs at football stadiums; in Ukraine they simply hate us. In Ukraine now, there are no politicians who don’t have extreme anti-Russian positions. Being anti-Russian is the key to success now in Ukraine, and that’s our fault.”

On what he would ask Putin

“I would be interested to understand his motivations, particularly on Ukraine. Because he is destroying our country. It will all collapse, and surely he can’t not understand that it’s all going to collapse.

“If he wants to be an authoritarian leader, then that’s one thing. But why doesn’t he want to be a Russian Lee Kuan Yew? Why does he want to base his authoritarian regime on corruption? There are other ways of doing it.”

On finding the ‘Putin account’:

“I think there are probably a number of numbered accounts in Swiss banks where money is kept that Putin considers his personal money. But in the main it is all kept by nominal holders, like [head of Russian Railways Vladimir] Yakunin or the Rotenbergs [two billionaire brothers, who are childhood friends of Putin]. The money is communal.

“If intelligence services really wanted to find Putin’s money there would be ways of doing so, but all we can do is work with open sources and the information we get from insiders. We can’t show up at a Swiss bank and seize documents or analyse transfers. Corruption in Russia is so open that even we can find a huge amount. But to find Putin’s accounts, that’s beyond our capabilities.”

On how he spends his time under house arrest

“I’m reading a huge number of books; basically doing what everyone dreams of doing but never has time for. I’m watching the ‘250 best films ever’ one by one. All this American nonsense like The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, and other old films.”

*****

I feel no responsibility for rouble’s collapse, says Putin

Russian president offers few solid solutions during annual press conference, but promises economy will overcome crises

Shaun Walker in Moscow
The Guardian, Thursday 18 December 2014 18.19 GMT

Vladimir Putin has promised that Russia will weather the rouble crisis, adding that he feels no responsibility for the currency’s fall.

During his annual press conference on Thursday, the Russian president appeared to rule out drastic measures such as introducing capital controls or reshuffling the government. But he offered little in the way of solutions, instead suggesting it was inevitable that oil prices would recover soon, and with them the Russian economy.

The rouble, which fell to a record low of nearly 80 to the dollar on Tuesday before recovering on Wednesday, stayed reasonably stable at between 60 and 63 during the speech, suggesting the markets were neither horrified nor encouraged by Putin’s words.

The rouble began the year at 34 to the dollar, and while Putin began the session talking about record harvest levels and positive economic figures, it was not long before he was forced to acknowledge what was on every Russian’s mind.

“Our economy will overcome the current situation. How much time will be needed for that? Under the most unfavourable circumstances I think it will take about two years,” he said.

Putin denied that his government’s domestic policies and actions in Ukraine have been in any way responsible for the currency collapse.

Unsurprisingly, he also used the conference to rail against the west. Had Russia not annexed Crimea earlier this year, Putin said, the west would have found another reason to target his country, which he compared to a bear.

“Sometimes I wonder, maybe the bear should just sit quietly, munch on berries and honey rather than chasing after piglets, maybe then, they would leave it alone? But no, they wouldn’t, because they will always try to chain it up. And as soon as they chain it up, they will pull out its teeth and claws.”

By teeth and claws, Putin said he meant Russia’s nuclear weapons. The west was circling round to destroy Russia, so it could steal its natural resources, he continued. “Once they’ve taken out his claws and his teeth, then the bear is no longer necessary. He’ll become a stuffed animal.”

Putin covered everything from parking tickets to farmers’ pensions in the three-hour session, but the two key themes were foreign policy and the economy. There was much less of the minor regional issues that have often dominated previous conferences.

Putin was asked whether he felt bad for talking about a “fifth column” in society last year and about a renewed crackdown against the political opposition. He was asked if he was able to distinguish between opposition to his rule and being a traitor.

“It’s very difficult to answer that. I’m being honest. Because the border between opposition and fifth column is very difficult to place,” he said.

Quoting the 19th-century poet Mikhail Lermontov, who he described as a patriot who had also been in opposition to the tsarist authorities, Putin said the key difference was whether people supported their country in their hearts or were serving the interests of another country. Russia’s opposition and human rights community have often been accused of serving the interests of the west.

Although Putin went on for more than three hours, he did not come close to beating his record, set last year, when he took questions for four hours and 40 minutes.

He began the session looking somewhat out of sorts and with a persistent cough, but soon got into his stride, and appeared to be enjoying himself, dodging the tougher questions and making jokes about the friendlier ones. At one point, a regional journalist told him her aunt’s friend had wanted to know whether he had time for much of a love life since his divorce. Putin smirked, said hello to the aunt’s friend, and said that “everything is fine” in that department.

There was a chance for Putin’s favoured dark humour as well: when it was suggested to him that some of his close circle had, in private, blamed him for Russia’s economic position, the president cracked a broad smile and said: “Give me their names!” He brushed off the possibility of a “palace coup” by saying the elite had no palaces, so would be safe.
Key quotes from Putin’s speech

On fairness in geopolitics: “We have heard it even from high-level officials that it is unfair that the whole of Siberia, with its immense resources, belongs to Russia in its entirety. Why exactly is it unfair? So it is fair to snatch Texas from Mexico, but it is unfair that we are working on our own land – no, we have to share.”

On a new Berlin wall: “Didn’t they tell us after the fall of the Berlin Wall that Nato would not expand eastwards? However, the expansion started immediately. There were two waves of expansion. Is that not a wall? True, it is a virtual wall, but it was coming up. What about the anti-missile defence system next to our borders? Is that not a wall?”

On the western response to the Sochi Olympics: “Let me remind you about the preparations for the 2014 Olympics, our inspiration and enthusiasm to organise a festive event, not only for Russian sports fans, but for sports fans all over the world. However, and this is an evident truth, unprecedented and clearly orchestrated attempts were made to discredit our efforts to organise and host the Olympics. This is an undeniable fact! Who needs to do so and for what reason?”

On his love life: “One of my friends in Europe, a big boss, asked me recently: “Listen, do you have love in your life?” I said: “What do you mean?” He said: “Do you love anyone?” I said: “Oh, yes.” He asked if anybody loved me back, and I said: “Yes.” He obviously thought I’d become an animal. He said: “Thank God” and raised a vodka to me. So everything is fine, don’t worry.”

*************

Everything’s fine, says Putin in press conference – including my love life

A classic example of the Russian leader’s annual conference: just don’t mention the rouble or military involvement in Ukraine
 
Shaun Walker in Moscow
theguardian.com, Thursday 18 December 2014 20.39 GMT   
   
With flirtatious questions about his love life, noir wisecracks, earthy animal metaphors and forceful anti-western rhetoric, on the surface this was a classic Vladimir Putin press conference. The Russian president puts on the marathon performance annually, assembling more than 1,000 journalists to hold forth on everything from geopolitics to parking tickets.

But this year was nevertheless somewhat different. If Russia’s annexation of Crimea and intervention in east Ukraine earlier in the year only served to boost Putin’s ratings among the populace, the dramatic slide of the rouble in recent weeks has raised the spectre of previous Russian crises and undermined the main tenet of his 15-year rule over the world’s largest country: stabilnost (stability).

Putin, who opened by reeling off a number of positive economic indicators including the year’s “record harvest”, could not ignore the elephant in the room for long, but he brushed off the crisis as something that would pass. Indeed, it was not even fair to call it a crisis, he said, despite the rouble having lost around half of its value against the dollar and the euro since the beginning of the year.

“Our economy will overcome the current situation,” said Putin. “How much time will be needed for that? Under the most unfavourable circumstances, I think it will take about two years.”

The rouble, which started the year at 34 to the dollar, fell to a record low of nearly 80 on Tuesday before recovering on Wednesday, staying reasonably stable at between 60 and 63 to the dollar during Putin’s speech. This suggested the markets were neither horrified – nor hugely encouraged – by Putin’s words.

On the one hand, Putin is likely to have reassured them that drastic measures are not around the corner: there was no talk of capital controls, no hints that heads would roll in the government or at the central bank, as some had feared.

But at the same time, there was very little by way of concrete solutions. Essentially, the message was that Russia would wait for the oil price to go back up and then everything would be all right. Putin denied that the government’s own domestic policies and actions in Ukraine have been in any way responsible for the currency collapse.

Although the president went on for more than three hours, he did not come close to beating his record, set last year, when he took questions for four hours and 40 minutes. He began the session looking somewhat out of sorts and with a persistent cough, but soon got into his stride, and appeared to be enjoying himself, dodging the tougher questions and making jokes about the friendlier ones.

There were a number of combative questions during the session, most notably from a Ukrainian journalist who demanded Putin justify the “punitive operation” he had launched in east Ukraine.

“As the commander in chief of the army, what have you said to the families of dead Russian officers and soldiers,” asked the journalist, taking the rare opportunity to ask Putin in public about the Russian military intervention in east Ukraine that the Kremlin has denied ever happened.

But the format of the annual press conference means there is no chance for dialogue or follow-up questions. Events in east Ukraine “really are a punitive operation, but one carried out by the Kiev authorities, and not vice versa,” said Putin. On the issue of serving Russian soldiers and military equipment crossing the border, he simply dodged the question.

Unsurprisingly, Putin also used the conference to rail at the west. He said if Russia had not annexed Crimea, the west would have found another reason to target Russia, comparing the country to a bear.

“Sometimes I wonder, maybe the bear should just sit quietly, munch on berries and honey rather than chasing after piglets, maybe then, they would leave it alone? But no, they wouldn’t, because they will always try to chain it up. And as soon as they chain it up, they will pull out its teeth and claws.”

By teeth and claws, Putin said he meant Russia’s nuclear weapons. The west was circling round to destroy Russia, said Putin, so it could steal its natural resources.

“Once they’ve taken out his claws and his teeth, then the bear is no longer necessary. He’ll become a stuffed animal.”

Putin covered everything from the traffic police to farmers’ pensions in the three-hour session, but the two key themes were foreign policy and the economy, and there was much less of the minor regional issues that have often dominated the conferences in the past.

Nevertheless, there were surreal moments, such as when a man from the town of Kirov grabbed the microphone to complain that major supermarkets such as the French chain Auchan were refusing to stock the locally made brand of kvas, a fermented bread drink.

“I don’t want to offend Coca Cola,” said Putin, in support. “But we have our own traditional drinks.”

Within hours Auchan announced it would invite the kvas company to submit a tender to supply its product, now it had the leader’s blessing.

At one point, a regional journalist told Putin her aunt’s friend had requested her to ask him if he had time for much of a love life since his divorce. Putin smirked, said hello to the aunt’s friend, and said that “everything is fine” in that department.

The combative questions from Russia’s embattled liberal journalists were mainly about the newly toxic atmosphere in Russian society, and whether Putin felt guilty for talking about a “fifth column”, which heralded a renewed crackdown against the political opposition. Was he able to distinguish between opposition to his rule and being a traitor?

“It’s very difficult to answer that. I’m being honest. Because the border is very subtle. It’s difficult, I think, to give a scientific definition of where opposition ends and “fifth column” begins.

Quoting the poet Mikhail Lermontov, who Putin said was a patriot who had also been in opposition to the Tsarist authorities, the president said the key difference was whether people supported their country in their hearts or were serving the interests of another country. Russia’s opposition and human rights community have often been accused of serving the interests of the west.

Overall, the press conference was an attempt by Putin to portray business as usual. The take-home message for ordinary Russians was that the economic woes are a minor blip, and even if they are not, it is the west to blame for hounding Russia, and not Russia’s actions on the international stage that have caused the isolation.

If the economy continues to worsen, the Kremlin will be looking closely for signs of either a split in the elites or Putin’s popular support eroding, but the message on Thursday was that Putin himself is not worrying about either eventuality.

When it was suggested to him that some of his close circle have privately blamed him personally for Russia’s economic position, Putin cracked a broad smile and said, with his usual dark humour: “Give me their names!”

When asked if there might be a danger at some point of a palace coup in the future, he again smiled.

“Calm down. We don’t have any palaces. So there can’t be a palace coup.”

 54 
 on: Dec 19, 2014, 08:54 AM 
Started by Steve - Last post by Rad
Five Ukrainian Soldiers Killed ahead of Peace Talks

by Naharnet Newsdesk
19 December 2014, 13:29

Ukraine's forces on Friday reported the death of five soldiers in the heaviest clashes with pro-Russian insurgents since the two sides struck a new ceasefire more than a week ago.

Defence spokesman Andriy Lysenko said another seven Ukrainian troops were wounded ahead of long-delayed peace talks the two sides hope to stage with the help of European Union and Russian envoys in the Belarussian capital Minsk by Monday.

Lysenko failed to say whether the deaths all came in one battle or were the combined toll from incidents across insurgent-controlled lands near the Russian border in Ukraine's industrial southeast.

The Western-backed leaders in Kiev and separatist commanders signed up to a December 9 truce designed to reinforce a tenuous September 5 agreement that was followed by more than 1,300 more deaths on all sides.

Last week's breakthrough is meant to set the stage for comprehensive peace talks that Ukranian President Petro Poroshenko had initially hoped to hold on Sunday.

But a top rebel said the insurgents would only be ready by Monday -- a position that underscores the types of small squabbles that have continually hindered progress toward a political settlement to the eight-month war.

Donetsk separatist leader Denis Pushilin said the insurgents and Kiev would conduct a videoconference call later on Friday designed to nail down a final date for the talks.

"We proposed December 22 because this date suits us better for technical reasons," Pushilin told Agence France Presse by telephone.

French President Francois Hollande -- who along with Poroshenko had joined two conference calls between German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Russia's Vladimir Putin in the past week -- also said the meeting would "happen on Sunday or Monday".

The four leaders are expected to talk again over the next couple of days.

The scale of the fighting has subsided with the onset of winter and heavy snow that at times makes progress across the war-scurred fields and muddied roads impossible.

All sides are now busy looking for ways to ensure that millions of civilians who have been unable to flee the fighting make it safely through the winter in towns and cities that have little water and in many cases no heat.

The United Nations believes the war has killed more than 4,700 people and driven nearly a million from their homes.

Any peace agreement is likely to include a clause that requires fighters on both sides to let through humanitarian convoys they fear may be used to smuggle weapons to their adversaries.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier was due in Kiev on Friday for talks with Poroshenko focused on the Minsk meeting and EU sanctions that Ukraine argues should not be lifted any time soon.

Source: Agence France Presse

 55 
 on: Dec 19, 2014, 08:50 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Rad
Hi Rad,

Thanks for posting this. I thought gases in general would correlate to Neptune, why is Methane connected to Scorpio?

If I recall correctly, JWG said that life on Earth was seeded from Mars. Do you know who/what seeded life here?

Thank you

All the best

Hi Skywalker,

All gases, including methane, correlate to Scorpio, Pluto, and the 8th House. One of the atoms of methane is carbon which is critical to the formation via bonding of organic life where organic life itself correlates to Pluto, Scorpio and the 8th House. All forms of organic life can exist depending on the overall conditions of any given form in space: planets, comets, asteroids, etc. Thus, organic life can emanate of itself depending on the conditions of any given form in space and/ or such forms can be 'seeded' by existing forms of organic life to other forms in space by way of such forms impacting one another through collisions in which the organic life is transferred because of the collisions of the forms. Such collisions can include the penetration of the atmospheres of these forms by way of asteroids, comets, etc in which existing organic life is existing on. In this way organic life can be transferred to these forms.

Inherent to the Manifest Creation is the natural law of intelligence that manifests when the bonding action of various gases, elements, compounds, etc that all contain atoms, molecules, sub-atomic particles of various kinds, etc combine to generate organic life. Thus the natural law of intelligence is intrinsic and within all possible organic forms of life. This is then the causative law that is responsible for the evolution of all forms of organic life wherever it exists. Within the natural law of intelligence is the phenomena that we call consciousness.  Through the evolution of organic forms of life this is then why organic life forms can become 'self aware'.

Of course the Origins of all of this is The Source Of All Things. What many call God/ess which correlates to Neptune, Pisces, and the 12th House. Via the natural trinity of Cancer, the Moon, and the 4th House with Scorpio, Pluto, and the 8th House we can then see the EA symbolism of organic life forms becoming self aware through their own evolution.

In order for organic life forms to evolve the inherent intelligence within them must design strategies to survive: the polarity point of Taurus, Venus, and the 2nd House relative to Scorpio, etc. Indeed this truth was realized by Charles Darwin and is the very basis of the natural law of evolution itself. It is these core archetypal natural laws that then give rise to other natural laws like mutation and metamorphoses that manifest and exist because of the need of any given organic life form to survive.

So the forms in space which are themselves created through the natural laws of gravity generated by motion can be 'seeded' by organic life either through external forces to themselves, or they can generate these organic life forms within themselves depending on the overall conditions existing at any point in time.

God Bless, Rad

 56 
 on: Dec 19, 2014, 08:21 AM 
Started by Linda - Last post by Simon
Hi Everyone,

FINAL DISPOSITOR

There are also dispositors by House, in the case of this chart it seems one of the key planets to look at is Venus which is in it´s own house, which rules Pluto which is also in its own house. Venus is also conjunct the North Node of the Moon.
 

This actually makes a lot of sense. Pluto and Venus are both in their respective houses. However do they need to be the same sign not the house to be classified as the dispositor? As EA works with the 3 archetypes being the same it would seem to appear that way to me.
This is more of a clarification purpose on my end.

 57 
 on: Dec 19, 2014, 07:59 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Rad

I feel no responsibility for rouble’s collapse, says Putin

Russian president offers few solid solutions during annual press conference, but promises economy will overcome crises

Shaun Walker in Moscow
The Guardian, Thursday 18 December 2014 18.19 GMT

Vladimir Putin has promised that Russia will weather the rouble crisis, adding that he feels no responsibility for the currency’s fall.

During his annual press conference on Thursday, the Russian president appeared to rule out drastic measures such as introducing capital controls or reshuffling the government. But he offered little in the way of solutions, instead suggesting it was inevitable that oil prices would recover soon, and with them the Russian economy.

The rouble, which fell to a record low of nearly 80 to the dollar on Tuesday before recovering on Wednesday, stayed reasonably stable at between 60 and 63 during the speech, suggesting the markets were neither horrified nor encouraged by Putin’s words.

The rouble began the year at 34 to the dollar, and while Putin began the session talking about record harvest levels and positive economic figures, it was not long before he was forced to acknowledge what was on every Russian’s mind.

“Our economy will overcome the current situation. How much time will be needed for that? Under the most unfavourable circumstances I think it will take about two years,” he said.

Putin denied that his government’s domestic policies and actions in Ukraine have been in any way responsible for the currency collapse.

Unsurprisingly, he also used the conference to rail against the west. Had Russia not annexed Crimea earlier this year, Putin said, the west would have found another reason to target his country, which he compared to a bear.

“Sometimes I wonder, maybe the bear should just sit quietly, munch on berries and honey rather than chasing after piglets, maybe then, they would leave it alone? But no, they wouldn’t, because they will always try to chain it up. And as soon as they chain it up, they will pull out its teeth and claws.”

By teeth and claws, Putin said he meant Russia’s nuclear weapons. The west was circling round to destroy Russia, so it could steal its natural resources, he continued. “Once they’ve taken out his claws and his teeth, then the bear is no longer necessary. He’ll become a stuffed animal.”

Putin covered everything from parking tickets to farmers’ pensions in the three-hour session, but the two key themes were foreign policy and the economy. There was much less of the minor regional issues that have often dominated previous conferences.

Putin was asked whether he felt bad for talking about a “fifth column” in society last year and about a renewed crackdown against the political opposition. He was asked if he was able to distinguish between opposition to his rule and being a traitor.

“It’s very difficult to answer that. I’m being honest. Because the border between opposition and fifth column is very difficult to place,” he said.

Quoting the 19th-century poet Mikhail Lermontov, who he described as a patriot who had also been in opposition to the tsarist authorities, Putin said the key difference was whether people supported their country in their hearts or were serving the interests of another country. Russia’s opposition and human rights community have often been accused of serving the interests of the west.

Although Putin went on for more than three hours, he did not come close to beating his record, set last year, when he took questions for four hours and 40 minutes.

He began the session looking somewhat out of sorts and with a persistent cough, but soon got into his stride, and appeared to be enjoying himself, dodging the tougher questions and making jokes about the friendlier ones. At one point, a regional journalist told him her aunt’s friend had wanted to know whether he had time for much of a love life since his divorce. Putin smirked, said hello to the aunt’s friend, and said that “everything is fine” in that department.

There was a chance for Putin’s favoured dark humour as well: when it was suggested to him that some of his close circle had, in private, blamed him for Russia’s economic position, the president cracked a broad smile and said: “Give me their names!” He brushed off the possibility of a “palace coup” by saying the elite had no palaces, so would be safe.
Key quotes from Putin’s speech

On fairness in geopolitics: “We have heard it even from high-level officials that it is unfair that the whole of Siberia, with its immense resources, belongs to Russia in its entirety. Why exactly is it unfair? So it is fair to snatch Texas from Mexico, but it is unfair that we are working on our own land – no, we have to share.”

On a new Berlin wall: “Didn’t they tell us after the fall of the Berlin Wall that Nato would not expand eastwards? However, the expansion started immediately. There were two waves of expansion. Is that not a wall? True, it is a virtual wall, but it was coming up. What about the anti-missile defence system next to our borders? Is that not a wall?”

On the western response to the Sochi Olympics: “Let me remind you about the preparations for the 2014 Olympics, our inspiration and enthusiasm to organise a festive event, not only for Russian sports fans, but for sports fans all over the world. However, and this is an evident truth, unprecedented and clearly orchestrated attempts were made to discredit our efforts to organise and host the Olympics. This is an undeniable fact! Who needs to do so and for what reason?”

On his love life: “One of my friends in Europe, a big boss, asked me recently: “Listen, do you have love in your life?” I said: “What do you mean?” He said: “Do you love anyone?” I said: “Oh, yes.” He asked if anybody loved me back, and I said: “Yes.” He obviously thought I’d become an animal. He said: “Thank God” and raised a vodka to me. So everything is fine, don’t worry.”

*************

Everything’s fine, says Putin in press conference – including my love life

A classic example of the Russian leader’s annual conference: just don’t mention the rouble or military involvement in Ukraine
 
Shaun Walker in Moscow
theguardian.com, Thursday 18 December 2014 20.39 GMT   
   
With flirtatious questions about his love life, noir wisecracks, earthy animal metaphors and forceful anti-western rhetoric, on the surface this was a classic Vladimir Putin press conference. The Russian president puts on the marathon performance annually, assembling more than 1,000 journalists to hold forth on everything from geopolitics to parking tickets.

But this year was nevertheless somewhat different. If Russia’s annexation of Crimea and intervention in east Ukraine earlier in the year only served to boost Putin’s ratings among the populace, the dramatic slide of the rouble in recent weeks has raised the spectre of previous Russian crises and undermined the main tenet of his 15-year rule over the world’s largest country: stabilnost (stability).

Putin, who opened by reeling off a number of positive economic indicators including the year’s “record harvest”, could not ignore the elephant in the room for long, but he brushed off the crisis as something that would pass. Indeed, it was not even fair to call it a crisis, he said, despite the rouble having lost around half of its value against the dollar and the euro since the beginning of the year.

“Our economy will overcome the current situation,” said Putin. “How much time will be needed for that? Under the most unfavourable circumstances, I think it will take about two years.”

The rouble, which started the year at 34 to the dollar, fell to a record low of nearly 80 on Tuesday before recovering on Wednesday, staying reasonably stable at between 60 and 63 to the dollar during Putin’s speech. This suggested the markets were neither horrified – nor hugely encouraged – by Putin’s words.

On the one hand, Putin is likely to have reassured them that drastic measures are not around the corner: there was no talk of capital controls, no hints that heads would roll in the government or at the central bank, as some had feared.

But at the same time, there was very little by way of concrete solutions. Essentially, the message was that Russia would wait for the oil price to go back up and then everything would be all right. Putin denied that the government’s own domestic policies and actions in Ukraine have been in any way responsible for the currency collapse.

Although the president went on for more than three hours, he did not come close to beating his record, set last year, when he took questions for four hours and 40 minutes. He began the session looking somewhat out of sorts and with a persistent cough, but soon got into his stride, and appeared to be enjoying himself, dodging the tougher questions and making jokes about the friendlier ones.

There were a number of combative questions during the session, most notably from a Ukrainian journalist who demanded Putin justify the “punitive operation” he had launched in east Ukraine.

“As the commander in chief of the army, what have you said to the families of dead Russian officers and soldiers,” asked the journalist, taking the rare opportunity to ask Putin in public about the Russian military intervention in east Ukraine that the Kremlin has denied ever happened.

But the format of the annual press conference means there is no chance for dialogue or follow-up questions. Events in east Ukraine “really are a punitive operation, but one carried out by the Kiev authorities, and not vice versa,” said Putin. On the issue of serving Russian soldiers and military equipment crossing the border, he simply dodged the question.

Unsurprisingly, Putin also used the conference to rail at the west. He said if Russia had not annexed Crimea, the west would have found another reason to target Russia, comparing the country to a bear.

“Sometimes I wonder, maybe the bear should just sit quietly, munch on berries and honey rather than chasing after piglets, maybe then, they would leave it alone? But no, they wouldn’t, because they will always try to chain it up. And as soon as they chain it up, they will pull out its teeth and claws.”

By teeth and claws, Putin said he meant Russia’s nuclear weapons. The west was circling round to destroy Russia, said Putin, so it could steal its natural resources.

“Once they’ve taken out his claws and his teeth, then the bear is no longer necessary. He’ll become a stuffed animal.”

Putin covered everything from the traffic police to farmers’ pensions in the three-hour session, but the two key themes were foreign policy and the economy, and there was much less of the minor regional issues that have often dominated the conferences in the past.

Nevertheless, there were surreal moments, such as when a man from the town of Kirov grabbed the microphone to complain that major supermarkets such as the French chain Auchan were refusing to stock the locally made brand of kvas, a fermented bread drink.

“I don’t want to offend Coca Cola,” said Putin, in support. “But we have our own traditional drinks.”

Within hours Auchan announced it would invite the kvas company to submit a tender to supply its product, now it had the leader’s blessing.

At one point, a regional journalist told Putin her aunt’s friend had requested her to ask him if he had time for much of a love life since his divorce. Putin smirked, said hello to the aunt’s friend, and said that “everything is fine” in that department.

The combative questions from Russia’s embattled liberal journalists were mainly about the newly toxic atmosphere in Russian society, and whether Putin felt guilty for talking about a “fifth column”, which heralded a renewed crackdown against the political opposition. Was he able to distinguish between opposition to his rule and being a traitor?

“It’s very difficult to answer that. I’m being honest. Because the border is very subtle. It’s difficult, I think, to give a scientific definition of where opposition ends and “fifth column” begins.

Quoting the poet Mikhail Lermontov, who Putin said was a patriot who had also been in opposition to the Tsarist authorities, the president said the key difference was whether people supported their country in their hearts or were serving the interests of another country. Russia’s opposition and human rights community have often been accused of serving the interests of the west.

Overall, the press conference was an attempt by Putin to portray business as usual. The take-home message for ordinary Russians was that the economic woes are a minor blip, and even if they are not, it is the west to blame for hounding Russia, and not Russia’s actions on the international stage that have caused the isolation.

If the economy continues to worsen, the Kremlin will be looking closely for signs of either a split in the elites or Putin’s popular support eroding, but the message on Thursday was that Putin himself is not worrying about either eventuality.

When it was suggested to him that some of his close circle have privately blamed him personally for Russia’s economic position, Putin cracked a broad smile and said, with his usual dark humour: “Give me their names!”

When asked if there might be a danger at some point of a palace coup in the future, he again smiled.

“Calm down. We don’t have any palaces. So there can’t be a palace coup.”

 58 
 on: Dec 19, 2014, 07:53 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Rad

Jail Russian activist Alexei Navalny for 10 years - prosecutors

Lawyers ask judge in Moscow to convict and sentence leader of anti-government protests and his brother for alleged fraud

Agencies in Moscow
The Guardian, Friday 19 December 2014 12.12 GMT   

Russian prosecutors have demanded that the opposition activist Alexei Navalny be imprisoned for a total of 10 years on allegations of fraud.

In their closing arguments in a Moscow court on Friday, prosecutors asked a judge to convict Navalny, who led anti-government protests in 2012, and imprison him for nine years, with an additional year added because of a prior conviction. They asked that his brother Oleg be jailed for eight years.

Both men have said they are innocent of the charges and have dismissed them as part of a Kremlin campaign to stifle dissent.

The pair are accused of stealing from two firms, including an affiliate of the French cosmetics company Yves Rocher, between 2008 and 2012.

In a previous trial in 2013, Navalny was charged with embezzling 16m roubles from a state-owned timber firm and sentenced to prison, but he was released the next day after thousands protested in Moscow. Currently under house arrest, Navalny is serving a suspended five-year jail term for the timber conviction, which Kremlin critics also call a sham.

Prosecutor Nadezhda Ignatova told the court the 10-year term would cover those charges and the earlier conviction.

“The guilt of the defendant has been fully proven,” she said.

Navalny, a western-educated anti-corruption blogger, sighed after the prosecutor spoke and said: “At least it’s easy to count.”

***************

‘Putin is destroying Russia. Why base his regime on corruption?’ asks Navalny

Russia’s opposition leader and anti-corruption campaigner, held under house arrest, says president is using war to stay in power

Shaun Walker in Moscow
The Guardian, Friday 17 October 2014 18.04 BST          

High in a dilapidated Soviet-era tower block miles from the centre of Moscow, the door opens to a small, tidy flat. It belongs to Alexei Navalny, once touted as the most potent threat to the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, to emerge in Russia in recent years.

Since February, the politician and activist has been under house arrest. A voracious social-media user with a talent for 140-character attacks on the Kremlin, the 38-year-old is banned from using the telephone or internet, though his wife can use them. He can only leave the confines of his flat when a police van drives him to hearings of his latest court case.

In a recent relaxation of the terms of his arrest, he is now allowed to speak to people other than his relatives, meaning that for the first time in six months, his colleagues and friends can visit him. He is also able to receive journalists, and the Guardian is the first of the international press to see him since his house arrest began.

Dressed in a blue T-shirt and jeans, he pads barefoot through the small flat into the kitchen, where his wife, Yulia, pours tea. A tagging bracelet around his ankle ensures that if he leaves the flat, the police will be alerted immediately.

“I’m really sick of sitting at home,” he says, with a wry smile. In the corner of the living room is a cross trainer, the only way he can get exercise. “But I’ve had experience of real arrest for up to 15 days several times, and it’s much easier to put up with house arrest when you understand what the alternative is.”

Navalny was the great hope of the wave of street protests that shook Moscow in 2011-2012, with many opposition-minded Russians confidently predicting he would become the next president of Russia.

Those protests petered out after a vicious crackdown saw court cases against its leaders and some ordinary protesters, but Navalny is still the most worrying opposition figure for the Kremlin. Some uneasy liberals point to his nationalist streak and see in him a charismatic but dangerous demagogue.

What is clear is that he is able to win support among voters: despite smears on state television and little access to any normal type of campaigning, he managed to win 27% of the vote in last autumn’s Moscow mayoral elections.

Since then, a lot has happened, notably the annexation of Crimea and the fighting in east Ukraine. A summit in Milan on Friday attended by Putin, Ukraine’s president, Petro Poroshenko, and other European leaders including the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, failed to reinforce the faltering ceasefire.

Despite the fact that many Russian nationalists support the separatists in east Ukraine, Navalny feels Putin has laid the groundwork for his regime’s eventual collapse.

“There’s a lot of commentary now that Putin has shown he’s not about money, and about enriching his businessmen buddies, but he has decided to build a great nation, a great Russia or to resurrect the Soviet Union,” says Navalny, who first became known for his anti-corruption investigations, unveiling the secret mansions and foreign accounts of Putin cronies and government officials. “I think in reality it’s all much more simple. Putin has resorted to the method that various leaders have used for centuries: using war or military actions to solve internal problems and boost ratings. That happens even in democratic countries – look at Bill Clinton in Yugoslavia.”

Unlike most of the liberal opposition, who have never found a common language with ordinary Russians, there was always a sense in the Kremlin that Navalny could be dangerous; a fear that his nationalism and charisma could appeal not only to the Moscow hipsters, but equally to the provincial masses, tired of seeing rampant corruption blight the country’s governance.

Those in power have long been split about how to deal with the troublesome campaigner; some believe he should be locked up, others think he should be free but closely monitored. For a while in 2013, it looked as if an allegation of embezzling funds from a timber company in the city of Kirov would put him in prison; but he was released after a surprise about-face, given a suspended sentence, and allowed to run in Moscow’s mayoral elections.

His good showing there clearly spooked some of those in power. A second court case, based on claims that Navalny and his brother defrauded a Russian subsidiary of the French chain Yves Rocher, began. In February he was put under house arrest, and the case has been rumbling on since.

The strategy for now seems to be to shut him up without causing too much of a scandal. To a large extent, it has worked. There has been little outcry over the fact that he is under house arrest – after all, he is not in jail – but at the same time, working on his anti-corruption investigations has become impossible and he has largely disappeared from public discourse.

With everything else happening in Russia, even the hearings of the second court case receive just a fraction of attention that the Kirov case received. Navalny says about 30 prosecution witnesses have been called so far, and “all of them ended up testifying in our favour – it’s stupid and completely absurd.”
Navalny with his wife, Yulia, in Moscow after his release from jail in Kirov in 2013. He was imprisoned for embezzlement but unexpectedly released. Navalny with his wife, Yulia, in Moscow after he was unexpectedly released from jail in Kirov in 2013. Photograph: Dmitry Lovetsky/AP

He puts the strange zigzagging in the case down to the fact that nobody lower down in the system knows what to do with him.

“Obviously it will be a guilty verdict, but what the sentence will be can only be decided by one man, and that man has a lot of stuff on his plate besides me at the moment. He’s fighting a war against Obama, against the west, against God knows what else.”

The authorities continue to keep Navalny on his toes, and there is always the threat of new criminal cases. Sometimes the charges appear so flimsy they veer into the realm of the absurd. Over the summer, his flat was raided by investigators who seized a picture. The picture had been drawn by a street artist in the town of Vladimir, and been on display on a public wall. Someone pilfered it, and gave it to Navalny as a present.

“The artist has given interviews everywhere saying he never sells his art, that he doesn’t care that it was taken, that he doesn’t want there to be a court case, but they just ignore him – the case exists. From the case materials we can see that FSB [security services] generals are working on the case. They have six top investigators working on it!” Employees of Navalny’s anti-corruption foundation have been questioned, searches carried out, computers and telephones seized.

Indeed, Navalny is such a toxic figure in Russia that any association with him can lead to trouble. In the Kirov court case, a former business partner was hauled into the dock alongside the politician; his brother Oleg is also on trial in the current case.

“That’s one of the most unpleasant parts of my work, because everything that happens around me is basically one giant court case, which spreads out to engulf the people that are close to me,” he says.

It was hinted at several times that he would be better off leaving the country, but he decided to stay. Is he really more use to the opposition cause under house arrest, or potentially in jail, than he would be from abroad?

“Why should I leave? I have not committed any crime. You can agree or disagree with my political position but it’s absolutely legal. And along with me, 90% of Russians think corruption is high, and 80% of Russians think we should bring criminal cases against corrupt officials. It’s also an important matter of trust. If I want people to trust me, then I have to share the risks with them and stay here. How can I call on them to take part in protests and so on if they are risking things and I am not?”

He says it is pointless to make predictions either about his own fate or about how much longer Putin will be in power. Navalny has set up a political party, although it is not able to contest elections, and says he still harbours ambitions that one day he will be actively involved in politics, “including fighting for the top job”.

As for how Putin will finally end up leaving the Kremlin – through a split in the elite, a violent revolution or a democratic transition – Navalny believes one thing is for certain: “In Russia, it will not be elections that provide a change of government.”
Navalny in his own words

On Mikhail Khodorkovsky, formerly owner of Yukos, Russia’s biggest oil company, who was jailed in 2003, released in 2013 and now lives abroad:

“Perhaps if he had stayed an oligarch, I would have had a lot of points of dispute with him, particularly on the rights of minority shareholders, which I worked on as a lawyer. Yukos was famous for various corporate battles. But that was 10 years ago, and discussing it is pointless. I don’t see any position that Khodorkovsky has now that I don’t share.”

On Putin’s reaction to Ukraine:

“Out of nowhere, without any warning, boom: suddenly a genuine, anti-criminal revolution. This was a terrible blow for Putin, a hundred times more painful that the Georgian events, than [former president Mikheil] Saakashvili and his anti-corruption reforms. He cannot allow this in Ukraine. So I think one of his strategic goals in the coming years will be to do absolutely everything to undermine the Ukrainian state, to ensure that no reforms work, so that everything ends in failure.”

On the consequences of Russian actions in Ukraine:

“Putin likes to speak about the ‘Russian world’ but he is actually making it smaller. In Belarus, they sing anti-Putin songs at football stadiums; in Ukraine they simply hate us. In Ukraine now, there are no politicians who don’t have extreme anti-Russian positions. Being anti-Russian is the key to success now in Ukraine, and that’s our fault.”

On what he would ask Putin

“I would be interested to understand his motivations, particularly on Ukraine. Because he is destroying our country. It will all collapse, and surely he can’t not understand that it’s all going to collapse.

“If he wants to be an authoritarian leader, then that’s one thing. But why doesn’t he want to be a Russian Lee Kuan Yew? Why does he want to base his authoritarian regime on corruption? There are other ways of doing it.”

On finding the ‘Putin account’:

“I think there are probably a number of numbered accounts in Swiss banks where money is kept that Putin considers his personal money. But in the main it is all kept by nominal holders, like [head of Russian Railways Vladimir] Yakunin or the Rotenbergs [two billionaire brothers, who are childhood friends of Putin]. The money is communal.

“If intelligence services really wanted to find Putin’s money there would be ways of doing so, but all we can do is work with open sources and the information we get from insiders. We can’t show up at a Swiss bank and seize documents or analyse transfers. Corruption in Russia is so open that even we can find a huge amount. But to find Putin’s accounts, that’s beyond our capabilities.”

On how he spends his time under house arrest

“I’m reading a huge number of books; basically doing what everyone dreams of doing but never has time for. I’m watching the ‘250 best films ever’ one by one. All this American nonsense like The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, and other old films.”

 59 
 on: Dec 19, 2014, 04:56 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Skywalker
Hi Rad,

Thanks for posting this. I thought gases in general would correlate to Neptune, why is Methane connected to Scorpio?

If I recall correctly, JWG said that life on Earth was seeded from Mars. Do you know who/what seeded life here?

Thank you

All the best

 60 
 on: Dec 19, 2014, 04:43 AM 
Started by Linda - Last post by Skywalker
Hi All,

There are also dispositors by House, in the case of this chart it seems one of the key planets to look at is Venus which is in it´s own house, which rules Pluto which is also in its own house. Venus is also conjunct the North Node of the Moon.

On Astro.com you can see the dispositor graphs under: Extended horoscopes/ Methods/Pullen Astrolog

Below I will attach the one for Jen´s chart.

Great thread Linda, Cat and everyone else!

All the best

Pages: 1 ... 4 5 [6] 7 8 ... 10
Video