Archive | March 14th, 2014

New arrests in Birmingham school extreme pornography investigation

NOVANEWS
14 MAR 2014
BY BRETT GIBBONS

Kings Heath Boys College teacher and a city youth worker have been bailed on suspicion of possessing extreme pornography

Kings Heath Boys' Mathematics and Computing College on Hollybank Road.
Kings Heath Boys’ Mathematics and Computing College on Hollybank Road.
Kings Heath Boys’ Mathematics and Computing College on Hollybank Road.Kings Heath Boys’ Mathematics and Computing College on Hollybank Road.

A teacher and a youth worker in the West Midlands have been arrested on suspicion of possessing extreme pornography after three teaching staff from Birmingham were bailed over a similar offence.

The men, aged 36 and 45, were arrested in Birmingham and Sandwell this morning and are being questioned by detectives from the Public Protection Unit at police stations in the West Midlands area.

The 36-year-old is employed as a teacher at Kings Heath Boys College, whilst the 45-year-old is a youth worker in the city.

They were arrested following the detention of three employees from Park View Academy and Golden Hillock schools in Birmingham.

Park View School, Alum Rock and Golden Hillock School, SparkhillPark View School, Alum Rock and Golden Hillock School, Sparkhill

All three men, aged 32, 36 and 37, have been released on bail pending further police enquiries.

The investigation commenced in April 2013 as a result of an ongoing enquiry into the sharing of extreme pornography. The probe is unconnected to the on-going Birmingham City Council investigation into the so-called ‘Trojan Horse’ allegations which centre on claims that extreme Muslim fundamentalists planned to infiltrate schools in the city.

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Porn in Birmingham schools arrests did not feature children, says education trust

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Organisation which runs Park View and Golden Hillock secondary schools reassures parents after three teaching staff arrested on suspicion of possessing extreme pornography

Park View School, Alum Rock and Golden Hillock School, Sparkhill

The Birmingham education trust which employs the three teaching staff arrested on suspicion of possessing extreme pornography has said there is ‘no suggestion’ that any material featuring children was involved.

The trio work at Park View and Golden Hillock secondary schools, which are both academies run by the Park View Educational Trust, which was set up in April 2012.

Following the arrests, the trust issued a statement which read: “We are extremely concerned to learn about the arrests earlier today of three teaching staff employed by the Park View Educational Trust.

“The police have informed us that the arrests are in connection with suspicion of possession of extreme pornography.

“While the nature of the pornography is described as extreme there is absolutely no suggestion from the police that it involved minors.

“We would like to reassure parents that we are co-operating fully with the police to support their investigations into individuals at both schools.”

Golden Hillock School in Sparkhill was judged to require improvement when Ofsted visited in January 2013, but has since achieved academy status and become part of the education trust, which sponsored its application in a move welcomed by inspectors.

Park View School, in Alum Rock, was rated outstanding overall – as was its teaching – by Ofsted in its last inspection.

The men, 36, 37 and 32, were arrested this morning from their homes in Birminghamand Wolverhampton.

All three are now being questioned by detectives from the Public Protection Unit at police stations in the West Midlands area.

The investigation commenced in April 2013 as a result of an ongoing enquiry into the sharing of extreme pornography. These enquiries are unconnected to the on-going Birmingham City Council investigation into the ‘Trojan Horse’ allegations, which have claimed that Muslim extremists are attempting to infiltrate the schools.

Posted in Education, UKComments Off on Porn in Birmingham schools arrests did not feature children, says education trust

Three teaching staff at two Birmingham schools arrested over extreme pornography allegations

NOVANEWS

Workers from Park View School and  Golden Hillock schools held at their homes in 6am arrests

Park View School, Alum Rock and Golden Hillock School, Sparkhill

Police in Birmingham have arrested three members of teaching staff at two city schools on suspicion of possession of extreme pornography.

The men are aged 36, 37 and 32 years. The 36 and 37-year-old were arrested from their home addresses in Birmingham and the 32-year-old from their home address in Wolverhampton, just after 6am.

All three are now being questioned by detectives from the Public Protection Unit at police stations in the West Midlands area.

The three arrested are employed as teachers and teaching staff at Birmingham schools.

One man is employed at Park View School and the other two men at Golden Hillock School in Birmingham.

Schools management has been notified as well as the Department for Education.

This investigation commenced in April 2013 as a result of an ongoing enquiry into the sharing of extreme pornography.

These enquiries are unconnected to the on-going Birmingham City Council investigation into the  ‘Trojan Horse’ allegations into claims that Muslim extremists were attempting to infiltrate schools in the city.

Posted in Education, UKComments Off on Three teaching staff at two Birmingham schools arrested over extreme pornography allegations

New arrests in Birmingham school extreme pornography investigation

NOVANEWS

Kings Heath Boys College teacher and a city youth worker have been bailed on suspicion of possessing extreme pornography

Kings Heath Boys’ Mathematics and Computing College on Hollybank Road.

A teacher and a youth worker in the West Midlands have been arrested on suspicion of possessing extreme pornography after three teaching staff from Birmingham were bailed over a similar offence.

The men, aged 36 and 45, were arrested in Birmingham and Sandwell this morning and are being questioned by detectives from the Public Protection Unit at police stations in the West Midlands area.

The 36-year-old is employed as a teacher at Kings Heath Boys College, whilst the 45-year-old is a youth worker in the city.

They were arrested following the detention of three employees from Park View Academy and Golden Hillock schools in Birmingham.

 

Park View School, Alum Rock and Golden Hillock School, Sparkhill
Park View School, Alum Rock and Golden Hillock School, Sparkhill

All three men, aged 32, 36 and 37, have been released on bail  pending further police enquiries.

The investigation commenced in April 2013 as a result of an ongoing enquiry into the sharing of extreme pornography. The probe is unconnected to the on-going Birmingham City Council investigation into the so-called ‘Trojan Horse’ allegations which centre on claims that extreme Muslim fundamentalists planned to infiltrate schools in the city.

Posted in Education, UK1 Comment

Syria’s Assad: Russia restoring balance to world stage

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Agence France Presse
Syria's President Bashar Assad (R) receives a gift from a Russian parliamentary delegation member during a meeting in Damascus March 11, 2014, in this handout released by Syria's national news agency SANA. REUTERS/SANA
 

Syria’s President Bashar Assad (R) receives a gift from a Russian parliamentary delegation member during a meeting in Damascus March 11, 2014, in this handout released by Syria’s national news agency SANA. REUTERS/SANA

 

DAMASCUS: Syrian President Bashar Assad, whose embattled regime relies on key support from Russia, praised Moscow on Tuesday for restoring balance to international relations, state media reported.

Russia has reestablished balance in international relations, after long years of hegemony” by the United States, SANA quoted Assad as saying as he received a Russian parliamentary delegation.

He described Moscow’s role as “essential and vital,” and expressed “the admiration of the Syrian people for Russia’s positions.”

Assad accused the United States and other Western governments of “acting to destabilise countries whose policies do not coincide with their own.”

Russia is one of the Assad government’s main allies, providing it with diplomatic cover and continued weapons supplies as it battles an insurgency about to enter its fourth year.

SANA said the Russian delegation informed Assad he had been accepted into the Russian Academy of Sciences for having “strengthened Syrian-Russian relations.”

More than 140,000 people have died in Syria since the conflict began in 2011.

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Syria war: new push against Assad being planned, reports suggest

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Central to plan is drive to provide Syria’s divided moderate, secular rebel groups with more support.
A Syrian flag

Reports of the new push come as Syria enters its fourth year of conflict. Photograph: Joseph Eid/AFP/Getty Images

After months of battlefield stalemate in Syria, a flurry of reports from Washington, Jerusalem, Amman and the Gulf suggests a major new clandestine effort is under way to open up a “southern front” against the regime of Bashar al-Assad.

Central to the mooted plan is a renewed push to provide Syria’s badly divided and often ineffectual moderate, secular rebel groups with additional funding, upgraded weapons and intelligence support.

What use they may make of such support, if indeed it fully materialises, remains to be seen.

The initiative, as reported in the region, is set against a backdrop of secret talks in the US last month between Susan Rice, Barack Obama‘s national security adviser, and Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, the Saudi interior minister in charge of covert action programmes in Syria.

According to the usually well informed Washington Post columnist David Ignatius, spy chiefs from Jordan, Turkey, Qatar and other regional countries also attended the discussions, focused on making a “stronger effort” to help the rebels.

This meeting has been linked in turn to last month’s launching by the Free Syrian Army (FSA) of what they termed a spring offensive in the south of Syria. The offensive began days after they received new US weapons funding that may eventually total $31.4m (£18.9m), rebel commanders said.

After holding back for months owing to fears that new arms might fall into the hands of al-Qaida affiliates, unidentified American officials said Congress had given closed-door approval in January for renewed cash for light weapons intended for the moderate, secular opposition in the south.

The new US funding supposedly augments a fresh push by Gulf states to finance rebel operations in the southern region of Syria, which are ultimately aimed at Damascus. More than $1bn has been disbursed since last summer, much of it for weapons purchases in eastern Europe,according to Gulf government sources quoted by regional media.

The weapons, mostly supplied via Jordan, are said to include a variety of small arms, as well as some that are more powerful, such as anti-tank rockets. But as a result of American reservations, they do not include shoulder-launched surface-to-air missiles, known as Manpads, which could shoot down military or civilian aircraft. Saudi Arabia has stockpiles of Manpads and favours supplying them to the rebels, but the US disagrees.

According to various reports mostly based on rebel statements or official or semi-official leaks, the aim of the offensive is to push back government forces in the Daraa, Quneitra and As-Suwayda governorates in south-west Syria, so opening the road to Damascus.

The offensive has been dubbed Geneva Horan, a reference to the plains near the Jordanian border and Israeli frontier.

This new emphasis on military action along the southern front follows well documented concern that the predominance in northern and eastern Syria of jihadis belonging to the al-Nusra Front, which is linked to al-Qaida, and rival groups such as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant has become both destructive and counterproductive.

Detailed media reports claim the operational plans, supply routes and tactics for the new push are being overseen by a secret international operations command centre in Amman staffed by military officials from 14 countries, including the US, Britain, Israel and Arab states opposed to the Assad regime.

“Rebel fighters and opposition members say the command centre, based in an intelligence headquarters building in Amman, channels vehicles, sniper rifles, mortars, heavy machine guns, small arms and ammunition to Free Syrian Army units,” the Abu Dhabi-based National newspaper reported.

Jordan denies the existence of the centre and of reportedly CIA-run rebel training facilities in northern Jordan.

“I have never heard of this,” Zuhdi Janbek, director of Jordan’s special branch, told the Guardian.

None of the western or Arab states that have intelligence and military staff working at the centre, the Military Operations Command (MOC), has publicly acknowledged it, but the centre’s existence has become an open secret, the National claimed.

Whatever the accuracy of such reports, there is little doubt that Jordan’s officially neutral stance over the Syrian war is threatened by the increasing importance of the southern front as the conflict enters its fourth year.

Despite Amman’s denials, it is known to have close links with western intelligence agencies. It is also widely believed that its territory is being used by western and Arab backers of the moderate secular opposition to assist and direct anti-Assad operations.

In line with US and Saudi concerns, Jordan has stepped up arrests of jihadis transiting its territory to join hardline Islamist groups inside Syria.

Whether or not it amounts to a full-blown spring offensive, there has been increased fighting around the city of Daraa in recent weeks as the Syrian army attempts to pre-empt any rebel push towards Damascus, refugee and other sources say.

UN and EU officials in Amman say that as a result, the outflow of refugees into Jordan from southern and central Syria has doubled this month, to 1,000 or more a day. About 1.2 million Syrians are now living in Jordan, according to the Amman government.

In one reported clash last week, MOC commanders were reportedly on the brink of ordering Israeli air strikes against “strategic weapons” stored at the Tal al-Jabiyeh military complex in south-west Daraa for fear the weapons might fall into the hands of besieging al-Qaida-linked rebel groups.

According to unidentified sources, the “strategic weapons” were chemicals, possibly sarin gas. The complex was said to be less than 8km (5 miles) from Israel’s border. In the event, the rebels backed off. This report could not be independently confirmed.

The apparent decision of the FSA to shift its main forces to the south coincides with a change in command. Colonel Abd al-Ilah al-Bashir, a respected battlefield leader based in the southern Quneitra governorate,replaced General Salim Idris as chief of staff last month. Idris had been blamed for failing to block the growth of jihadi influence in the north. Although President Obama says the US continues to pursue a diplomatic solution, the suggestion of increased covert US support for military action in southern Syria is plausible. There is much anger in Washington at the failure of the Geneva peace talks to make progress, in part because of Russia, Assad’s most powerful ally.

These developments, if confirmed, also indicate a tentative rapprochement between the US and Saudi Arabia, the Syrian opposition’s biggest regional backer, after a period when the two countries could not agree on tactics.

In a landmark visit, Obama will travel to Riyadh later this month for talks that will focus on Syria and Iran. In other recent meetings designed to coordinate policy, Obama discussed the Syrian crisis with Jordan’s King Abdullah and Israel’s prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu.

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‘I back kosher animal killing’, says David Cameron as he opens and closes Jerusalem speech in Hebrew

NOVANEWS

 

  • Prime Minister told Israeli Knesset on his ‘watch’ there will be no ban on the production of kosher meat
  • He said his message is clear, Britain ‘opposes boycotts of Israel’
  • His pro-Jewish speech came as leading British vet called for a ban on traditional kosher and halal meat, calling for more humane methods
By JASON GROVES

 

David Cameron yesterday vowed to defend the religious slaughter of animals in Britain.

In a strongly pro-Jewish speech to the Israeli Knesset, Mr Cameron said he would never allow a ban on the production of kosher meat, despite a call from Britain’s leading vet for it to be replaced by more humane methods.

Earlier this month, John Blackwell, president-elect of the British Veterinary Association, called for a ban on the traditional production of both kosher and halal meat.

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'I back kosher': Prime Minister David Cameron told the Israeli Knesset that he will not allow a ban on the production of kosher meat, despite calls for it to be replaced by more humane methods

‘I back kosher’: Prime Minister David Cameron told the Israeli Knesset that he will not allow a ban on the production of kosher meat, despite calls for it to be replaced by more humane methods

Traditional methods: Kosher butchers, like that pictured in Whitechapel, London, slaughter their animals in accordance with strict religious beliefs

Traditional methods: Kosher butchers, like that pictured in Whitechapel, London, slaughter their animals in accordance with strict religious beliefs.

He said the practice of slitting animals’ throats and allowing them to bleed to death caused unnecessary suffering – and suggested animals should be stunned first.

Several Tory MPs have also called for a ban on a method of slaughter used to kill an estimated 600,000 animals a week in British abattoirs.

But, to applause from Israeli MPs yesterday, Mr Cameron, who attempted to speak Hebrew, praised the Jewish community’s integration into British society, and said he would never allow a ban on religious slaughter, known as Schechita.

He said: ‘The Jewish community has been an absolute exemplar in integrating into British life in every way but integration doesn’t mean that you have to give up things that you hold very dear in your religion.


‘On my watch Schechita is safe in the UK’

– Prime Minister David Cameron

‘When people challenged kosher Shechita. I have defended it.

‘I fought as a back-bench Member of Parliament against the last attempt to do something to change this.

‘And there’s no way I’m allowing that to change now I’m Prime Minister. On my watch Shechita is safe in the UK.’

In a speech that deliberately courted the Jewish vote, the Prime Minister also said he had no truck with boycotts of Israeli products, such as the Oxfam boycott on goods produced in the Israeli settlements that saw it split with Hollywood actress Scarlett Johansson.

Applause: In yesterday's speech David Cameron praised the Jewish community¿s integration into British society, and said he would never allow a ban on religious slaughter, known as Schechita. He is pictured at a press conference with his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu

Applause: In yesterday’s speech David Cameron praised the Jewish community¿s integration into British society, and said he would never allow a ban on religious slaughter, known as Schechita. He is pictured at a press conference with his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu.

No boycotts: In the strongly pro-Jewish speech Mr Cameron said: 'To those who want to boycott Israel I have a clear message. ¿Britain opposes boycotts.' While in Jerusalem the Prime Minister took part in a ceremony to honour the six-million Jews who were killed during the Holocaust at the conical shaped Hall Of Names, (pictured)

No boycotts: In the strongly pro-Jewish speech Mr Cameron said: ‘To those who want to boycott Israel I have a clear message. ¿Britain opposes boycotts.’ While in Jerusalem the Prime Minister took part in a ceremony to honour the six-million Jews who were killed during the Holocaust at the conical shaped Hall Of Names, (pictured)

David Cameron pledges support to Israel during visit

Miss Johansson quit her role as an ambassador to the charity in January after it criticised her decision to advertise Soda Stream, which has a large factory in the occupied West Bank.

The Prime Minister said: ‘To those who want to boycott Israel I have a clear message. ‪Britain opposes boycotts.

‘Whether it’s trade unions campaigning for the exclusion of Israelis or universities trying to stifle academic exchange Israel’s place as a homeland for the Jewish people will never rest on hollow resolutions passed by amateur politicians.’

He used Hebrew to let the people know he ‘understands’, telling them: ‘When I was last here in Jerusalem, I came as Leader of the Opposition and I remember being quite bemused as I sat listening to Israeli politicians telling me all about the challenges of coalition politics.

‘They told me about building a coalition, keeping it together, balancing the demands of different parties, sorting out the disputes and I just didn’t understand this strange system of government.

‘But after nearly 4 years as Prime Minister of my own coalition all I can say is: achshav ani mevin (right now, I understand).’

Call for ban: John Blackwell, president-elect of the British Veterinary Association, called for a ban on the traditional production of both kosher and halal meat

Call for ban: John Blackwell, president-elect of the British Veterinary Association, called for a ban on the traditional production of both kosher and halal meat

Mr Cameron also pointed to Government action in banning hate preachers and foreign anti-semites from Britain.

‘I have led the fight against anti-Semitism and extremism in Britain,’ he said.

‘We’ve removed over 26 thousand pieces of illegal terrorist content from the internet worked with the police and with universities to stop extremists spreading their divisive messages on our university campuses and we’ve excluded more foreign preachers of hate on the basis of our strategy for preventing extremism than ever before.’

The Prime Minister highlight the recent decision to ban the controversial French comedian Dieudonne M’bala M’bala, saying his ‘abhorrent displays of anti-Semitism have no place in a tolerant and inclusive Britain’.

Dieudonne hit the headlines in Britain recently when the West Bromwich Albion striker Nicolas Anelka was banned for five matches for copying his ‘Quenelle’ gesture, which is modelled on an inverted Nazi salute.

Mr Cameron also pointed out that the Government had legislated to end the threat of ‘ideologically-motivated court cases against visiting Israeli politicians.

In a concerted charm offensive he even mentioned the fact Jewish great-great grandfather, although he made no mention of reports that he may be descended from Moses.

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Six Palestinians killed in 24 hours by I$raHelli forces

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Funeral of Saji Darwish, 18, killed on Monday, March 10, 1014 by Israeli soldiers, Beitin, West Bank. (Photo: Allison Deger)

Funeral of Saji Darwish, 18, killed on Monday, March 10, 1014 by Israeli soldiers, Beitin, West Bank. (Photo: Allison Deger)

Tuesday marked a day of funerals as Palestinians across the West Bank and Gaza mourned six killed by Israeli forces within twenty-four hours. Three were killed in the West Bank in separate instances and three were killed in the Gaza Strip from an air strike. Four others were killed Tuesday afternoon in Gaza during a “work accident” while constructing an explosive according to a statement by Hamas, bringing the total casualty count to ten.

In the West Bank on Monday Israeli border police at the Allenby crossing shot a Jordanian judge during an altercation on a bus. Raed Zeitar, 38, originally from Nablus had been living in Jordan since 2011 and was en route to the West Bank to visit his six-year old daughter who is hospitalized in a coma. In a statement the Israeli army said Zeitar was fired at after he attempted to seize an officer’s weapon:

A short while ago a Palestinian attempted to seize the weapon of a soldier at the Allenby Bridge crossing from Jordan. In response the forces at the scene opened fire towards the suspect. A hit was identified.

However Mohammed Zayd, a witness, told Ma’an News Agency that Zeitar was shot after returning to his feet from when a soldier shoved him to the ground:

[A]n Israeli soldier pushed Zeiter, they started scuffling and Zeiter was brought to the floor. Zeiter then stood up and shoved the soldier, who in turn fired a shot that barely missed Zeiter, Zayd said.

The soldier then proceeded to fire three shots that hit Zeiter in the chest, leaving him dead on the floor, Zayd added, explaining that he tried to resuscitate Zeiter to no avail.

Zayd added that medics arrived almost an hour later, and covered Zeiter’s body, while Israeli police closed the scene and unloaded passengers off the bus and ordered them to the ground in order to search them.

Adding to the Jordan Times  Zayd said, “It is not true that he tried to take the soldier’s gun,” continuing, “Passengers were shocked, and started crying and screaming.” After Zeitar’s killing Israeli forces then detonated an explosive on his luggage and held the remaining bus passengers for six hours.

Per a treaty between Israel and Jordan, Jordanian officials will take part in an investigation into the cause of Zeitar’s death.

The funeral of Saji Darwish in the West Bank village of Beitin. (Photo: Allison Deger)

The funeral of Saji Darwish in the West Bank village of Beitin. (Photo: Allison Deger)

Friends and relatives burry Saji Darwish in the West Bank village of Beitin, Tuesday, March 11, 2014. (Photo: Allison Deger)

Friends and relatives burry Saji Darwish in the West Bank village of Beitin, Tuesday, March 11, 2014. (Photo: Allison Deger)

Cemetery in the West Bank village of Beitin, during the funeral of Saji Darwish, Tuesday, March 11, 2014. (Photo: Allison Deger)

Cemetery in the West Bank village of Beitin, during the funeral of Saji Darwish, Tuesday, March 11, 2014. (Photo: Allison Deger)

That evening around 9pm Israeli soldiers shot Saji Darwish, 18, after throwing stones on a road near the settlement of Beit El, which is separated from highway access by a concrete wall. Darwish was a student at Bir Zeit University, studying advertising.

“Someone called me last night at 7 pm and told me Saji from our university was close to Allah,” said Shaheed Bihiss, 25, a classmate of Darwish, “We tried to come here [Beitin, Darwish’s hometown], but Israeli soldiers closed the village.”

On Tuesday a funeral procession was held at Bir Zeit University for the deceased student, with thousands in attendance. After Darwish was eulogized in his village of Beitin, outside of Ramallah.

“I feel like every Palestinian, sad, because this happens everyday and the world does nothing,” said another classmate Mohamed Taha, 24, from Jenin.

The same day Fida’ Mohyeeddeen Majadla, 23, was shot in the chest and head and was reportedly killed instantly by the live-fire at a roadblock south of the northern West Bank city of Tulkarem. Another, Ibrahim Adnan Shokry was also wounded. Israeli authorities then held Majadla’s body.

Hours later on Tuesday morning three members of the armed-wing of the Islamic Jihad movement were killed in an Israeli air strike near Khan Younis in the southern West Bank. Ma’an reported the al-Quds Brigade said in a statement, “Ismail Abu Judah, 23, Shahir Abu Shanab, 24, and Abd al-Shafi Muammar, 33, “were in confrontation with the occupation trying to stop the progress of Israeli military vehicles which were approaching the area.” The Israeli army said the air strike occurred after mortar shells were launched from the Gaza Strip into Israel.

The six killings come just days after Amnesty International published a report on “trigger happy” soldiers using live-fire on unarmed protesters. Israeli Defense Force regulations state live-fire is acceptable in cases of a threat to life, and protocol requires when possible a verbal warning in Arabic and two warning shots before engaging. The deaths come at the tail end of U.S. brokered direct peace talks between Israeli and Palestinian leaders, spurring a eulogy in Beitin during Darwish’s burial decrying the negotiations.

“They said there is not need for their efforts for negotiations because Palestinians go to negotiations and Israelis just kill more Palestinians everyday,” said Darwish’s classmate Mohamed Taha.

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Crimea Can Become Part of Russia in 2 Months, Premier Says

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By Helena Bedwell

Photographer: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Pro-Russian demonstrators stand by a statue of Vladimir Lenin in Simferopol, Ukraine, on March 11, 2014.

Crimea can be integrated into Russia within two months if its voters decide the territory should cease to be a part of Ukraine in a March 16 referendum, the Black Sea region’s premier said in an interview.

“Procedures to join Russia are now being widely discussed by parliament groups and with the Duma,” Sergei Aksenov said today in Simferopol, Crimea’s capital, referring to Russia’s lower chamber of parliament. “It wouldn’t take more than two months.”

Aksenov said there will be more clarity tomorrow on the timetable, mechanism and legal aspects of Crimea’s Russian entry and the territory is already in talks with Russia on financial assistance.

Russia is bolstering military forces it began sending to take control of Crimea, home to its Black Sea Fleet, last month, according to Ukraine’s government. The buildup has triggered the worst crisis with the West since the Cold War and drawn threats of sanctions from the U.S. and European Union. Russia has sent around 19,000 troops to blockade or seize Ukrainian bases on the peninsula, the government in Kiev said.

“I wouldn’t advise anyone to start a war with us,” said Aksenov, whose building was guarded by scores of traditionally dressed Cossacks, descendants of a military caste that once served Russian tsars and are often mustered to keep civil order. Soldiers armed with assault rifles and dressed in military uniforms with no identifying markings were stationed throughout the building. Aksenov said they weren’t Russian.

Photographer: Helena Bedwell/Bloomberg

Crimea’s Prime Minister Sergei Aksenov.

Crimean Support

Russian President Vladimir Putin says people who consider themselves Russian in Crimea are at risk after an uprising in Kiev toppled Moscow-backed President Viktor Yanukovych, an assertion Ukraine’s new leaders deny. Russia has reinforced its posts in Crimea, while gunmen who have seized infrastructure and surrounded Ukrainian military installations there are acting independently, he said last week.

Russia’s military is “acting on clear orders to undermine Ukraine forces in Crimea,” Philip Breedlove, NATO’s top commander, said in a statement posted yesterday on the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s website.

Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, declined to comment today on the Ukrainian claims of a military buildup.

The people of Crimea, where ethnic Russians represent about 60 percent of the population, fully support joining Russia, said Aksenov, who cited a local poll predicting that the move will be backed by 80 percent in the referendum. Crimea was part of Russia until 1954 when it was transferred by Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev to Ukraine.

Kosovo Comparison

“People have very strong patriotic feelings; they all want this accession,” said Aksenov. “They support us and we feel this support.”

A separate Feb. 8-18 poll from the Kiev-based Democratic Initiatives Foundation published on March 10 showed 41 percent of people in Crimea supported a union with Russia. No number was given for those opposed to a union, according to the poll conducted among 2,032 respondents. It had a margin of error of as much as 2.2 percentage points, the foundation said.

Crimea will adopt the Russian ruble alongside the Ukrainian currency and expects to switch fully to rubles within two to three months, according to the premier. Joining Russia will enable the territory to raise pensions, state salaries and social benefits, as these payments in Russia are as much as twice the level in Ukraine, he said.

Russia’s State Duma will review legislation to ease the annexation of Crimea after March 17, according to the lower house’s website.

Assertions by the U.S. and EU states that the referendum is illegal are “hypocritical” after they supported the independence of Kosovo from Serbia, said Aksenov.

“If there is a country out there who doesn’t recognize our choice, it’s their business,” he said.

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Belarus offers Russia to deploy extra 15 planes due to NATO activity near border

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Belarus offers Russia to deploy extra 15 planes due to NATO activity near border

Photo: EPA

Russia will be offered to deploy up to 15 more warplanes in Belarus, in connection with NATO activity near the Belarusian border, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko stated here on Wednesday.

“If they redeploy about fifteen airplanes from Italy (to the Baltic states), I think we should contact the chief of the Russian General Staff and offer them the reinforcements they are obligated to provide us with (as part of the Russian-Belarusian alliance). Say, to move no more than 12-15 planes to Belarus now and to determine their patrolling and back-up itineraries. Let them work and patrol,” Lukashenko told the Belarusian Security Council in Minsk on Wednesday.

 

Read more: http://voiceofrussia.com/news/2014_03_12/Belarus-offers-Russia-to-deploy-extra-15-planes-due-to-NATO-activity-near-border-5336/

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