REPORTERS NOTEBOOK: INDIANA STATE TREASURER WHO ONCE SUGGESTED THAT RAPE WOULD BE SOMETHING ‘GOD INTENDED TO HAPPEN’ RESIGNS   Leave a comment

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Indiana State Treasurer Richard Mourdock is resigning today, months before the end of his term according to published reports in the INDIANAPOLIS STAR. The two-term treasurer plans to “pursue other professional interests,” according to a statement from Mourdock’s office. Mourdock is probably best known for his comment in a debate during his failed campaign for the U.S. Senate that, “even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that’s something God intended to happen.”  A source familiar with the decision said the resignation also was motivated by a change in state retirement benefits that will decrease monthly payouts for state employees who retire beginning in September. His resignation is effective at the end of the day today, the last normal business day before retirees will see retirement benefits fall. Gov. Mike Pence is expected to appoint a replacement.

Last week, the Indiana health commissioner, Dr. William VanNess, submitted his resignation to Governor Pence, citing personal reasons. VanNess said Friday he plans to stay on the job until Pence finds a replacement, saying he likely will stay on until early October. VanNess was appointed to the post in January 2013. He had retired at the end of 2012 as president and CEO of Community Hospital of Anderson after 15 years there. Last November State auditor Dwayne Sawyer resigned and in August of 2013 Indiana state Auditor Tim Berry resigned that office to begin fulltime as the new state Republican Party chairman.

DMN: THE WORLD TODAY   Leave a comment

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SPECIAL REPORT: PUTIN ADVISER SAYS RUSSIA HAS INVADED UKRAINE

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Risk from Syria and Iraq cited

The UK government raised the threat level in response to events in Iraq and Syria, where ISIS militants seized a swath of territory. FULL STORY

ISIS recruits fighters through powerful online campaign

Short promotional videos show softer side of jihad, urging viewers to sign up for Islamist extremism

 

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Data as of 10:06:41am ET
Friday’s Trading:
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Aug 29 8:33am:

The bad news: meat prices are up from last year. The good news: beverage prices aren’t.  More

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AVGOAvago Technologies… 83.36 +9.17%
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MURMurphy Oil Corp 61.88 +1.26%
BSXBoston Scientific … 12.52 +1.34%
VRSNVerisign Inc 57.16 +1.22%
Losers Price % Change
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Data as of 9:50am ET

Currencies »

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United Kingdom Pound $1.6582 +0.0645%
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Data as of 9:36:41am ET

Bonds & Interest Rates »

Yield
Today
Previous
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10 Year Treasury 2.34% 2.33%
30 Year Treasury 3.07% 3.07%
Data as of 9:51:40am ET

Mutual Funds »

Total
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PTTRX PIMCO Total Re… $144.0B +0.09%
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VINIX Vanguard Insti… $94.3B -0.16%
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SPY SPDR S&P 500 200.17 +0.01%
IVV iShares Core S&P 5… 201.48 +0.03%
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QQQ PowerShares QQQ ET… 99.51 +0.10%
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August 23rd, 2014
07:14 PM ET

What God is screaming in Ferguson, Missouri

Opinion by the Rev. Fred D. Robinson, special to CNN

(CNN) – On day five after the shooting death of unarmed black teen Michael Brown at the hands of police, I was on the phone with a white Christian and fellow preacher concerning the racial cauldron that has become Ferguson, Missouri.

During our conversation, he spent more time decrying rioting and calling for calm and prayer than lamenting the modern-day lynching by law enforcement of innocent black bodies that are piling up across the nation.

But most frustrating was his solution to the racial powder keg that has produced the Fergusons across the nation: a call for more racially diverse churches.

I get tired of that one. His unrelenting insistence reminded me — in the most stark terms — of James Baldwin’s prophetic quip: “Racial progress in America is measured by how fast I become white.”

Simply having diverse congregations without addressing the weightier matters of social justice and structural racism is not better church practice. It is possibly subterfuge.

During Princeton Theological Seminary’s 2014 Black Theology and Leadership Institute, of which I was a fellow, Dr. John Kinney, a professor of theology at Virginia Union, offered this stinging indictment:

“When white supremacy adopts diversity, it seeks to either cleanse you, contain you, co-opt you or convert you.”

If one is not careful, that is exactly what will be achieved in today’s climate of multiracial churches.

FULL POST

– CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Christianity • Discrimination • Houses of worship • Leaders • Opinion • Poverty • Prejudice • Race


August 22nd, 2014
07:00 AM ET

Why liberals are more tolerant of atheists

Opinion by Chris Stedman, special to CNN

(CNN) Conservative atheist and television pundit S.E. Cupp has come out swinging against progressive atheists.

In a clip (see above) for CNN’s “Crossfire,” she argues that conservative atheists are “better” than liberal nonbelievers. What’s more, Cupp says, those on the right respect and tolerate atheists more than liberals do.

She’s wrong, and here are three reasons why.

Fact: Atheists are still political outcasts.

“It seems like there’s this idea perpetuated by atheists that atheists are somehow disenfranchised or left out of the political process,” Cupp says. “I just don’t find that to be the case.”

Survey data contradict Cupp.

For instance, a 2014 Pew Research study found that Americans are less likely to vote for an atheist presidential candidate than any other survey category—even if they share that candidate’s political views.

Faring better than atheists: candidates who have engaged in extramarital affairs and those with zero political experience.

And unless she recently had a change of heart, Cupp herself falls in line with the majority of Americans. In 2012 she said, “I would never vote for an atheist president. Ever.”

While atheists are making political inroads, we’re also still on the margins in a number of ways. Cupp concludes the clip by saying, “I think our atheists are better than yours.”

Apparently they’re still not good enough to be president.

FULL POST

– CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Atheism • Culture wars • Discrimination • Nones • Opinion • Politics • Prejudice


August 20th, 2014
08:31 PM ET

James Foley’s prayers and the dark side of faith

By Daniel Burke, CNN Belief Blog editor

(CNN) – We don’t know if James Foley, the American journalist beheaded by Islamic extremists, prayed in the hours and days before his death. We probably never will.

But Foley said faith sustained him during another ordeal in 2011, when he was held captive for 44 days by forces loyal to Moammar Gadhafi in Libya.

In a gut-wrenching article he wrote for Marquette University’s alumni magazine, Foley said he prayed while imprisoned that his family, many miles away, would somehow know that he was safe.

“Haven’t you felt my prayers?” Foley asked his mother, Diane, when he was finally allowed to call home.

Diane Foley told her son that his friends and family had been praying, too, holding vigils filled with former professors, priests and Marquette students. She echoed his question back: Have you felt ours?

He had, the journalist said. “Maybe it was others’ prayers strengthening me, keeping me afloat,” Foley wrote.

The 40-year-old Catholic, who reported for the GlobalPost among other publications, was abducted again in 2012, captured this time by the extremist group ISIS, which calls itself the Islamic State.

On Tuesday, ISIS released a video showing a Muslim militant clad in black beheading Foley, who was wearing an orange jumpsuit and kneeling in the sand.

FULL POST

– CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Catholic Church • Christianity • Discrimination • Faith • Iraq • Islam • Middle East • Muslim • Religious violence


August 19th, 2014
11:32 AM ET

Pope ‘profoundly saddened’ by death of relatives in car crash

(CNN) – Pope Francis is deeply hurt by the news that a car crash killed three of his relatives in Argentina, the Vatican said on Tuesday.

On his return flight from South Korea on Monday, the Pope spoke movingly of meeting with the families of last April’s ferry disaster, which killed about 300 people, many of whom were young students.

Here’s what Francis said:

When you find yourself in front of human suffering, you have to do what your heart brings you to do. Then later they might say, he did this because he had a political intention, or something else. They can say everything. But when you think of these men, these women, fathers and mothers who have lost their children, brothers and sisters who have lost brothers and sisters, and the very great pain of such a catastrophe…my heart. I am a priest, I feel that I have to come close to them, I feel that way. That’s first. I know that the consolation that I can give, my words, are not a remedy. I cannot give new life to those that are dead. But human closeness in these moments gives us strength, solidarity.

I remember when I was archbishop of Buenos Aires, I experienced two catastrophes of this kind. One was a fire in a dance hall, a pop-music concert, and 194 people died in it. That was in 1993. And then there was another catastrophe with trains, and I think 120 died in that. At those times I felt the same thing, to draw close to them. Human pain is strong and if we draw close in those sad moments we help a lot.

And I want to say something more. I took this ribbon (from relatives of the Sewold ferry disaster, which I am wearing) out of solidarity with them, and after half a day someone came close to me and said, “It is better remove it, you should be neutral.” But listen, one cannot be neutral about human pain. I responded in that way. That’s how I felt.

CNN’s Delia Gallagher has more in the video above.

– CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Catholic Church • Pope Francis


August 18th, 2014
01:35 PM ET

The Pope says ISIS must be stopped. But how?

By Daniel Burke, CNN Belief Blog Editor

(CNN) – Nearly everyone agrees that the militant Muslim group rampaging through northern Iraq must be stopped. The question is, how?

Asked if he approved of the American airstrikes against ISIS, Pope Francis withheld his moral imprimatur on Monday, refusing to fully support or denounce the military campaign.

“I can only say this: It is licit to stop the unjust aggressor,” the pontiff said during a press conference on the plane back to Rome from South Korea.  “I underline the verb: stop. I do not say bomb, make war, I say stop by some means.”

In an apparent reference to the United States, Francis said “one nation alone cannot judge” the best means of stopping groups like ISIS, which calls itself the Islamic State.

Those decisions should be made collectively by the United Nations, the pontiff said.

“It is there that this should be discussed. Is there an unjust aggressor? It would seem there is. How do we stop him?” the Pope asked, without answering his own question.

Already, Francis’ cautious comments about American airstrikes and the use of force have fostered a welter of interpretations, from “tacit approval” to a “yellow light” to outright endorsement.

The Pope who was returning to Rome after a five day trip to South Korea, may soon have the chance to clarify his moral argument personally to U.S. and UN officials.

FULL POST

– CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Catholic Church • Christianity • Ethics • Foreign policy • Iraq • Middle East • Pope Francis • Violence


August 14th, 2014
10:05 AM ET

Pope Francis is tougher than you think – just ask the mafia

By Daniel Burke, CNN Belief Blog Editor

(CNN) – He’s embraced a severely disfigured man, declined to judge gay priests, sought common ground with atheists and focused the world’s attention on the poor and marginalized.

Yes, in the 18 months since his election as pontiff, Pope Francis has earned a reputation as one of the nicest guys on the planet.

According to a CNN poll, nearly 90% of American Catholics approve of the way he’s running the church, and even atheists speak fondly of this Pope. 

But, if you watch him closely, you’ll see a steely spine behind Francis’s friendly smile. Just ask the Italian mafia.

In the video above, I explain 5 ways Pope Francis is tougher than you think.

By the way, be sure to check out our ongoing coverage of the Pope’s trip to South Korea this week. 

 

– CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Catholic Church • Pope Francis


5 reasons South Korea could be the church of future

Catholics attend Mass in Seoul, South Korea. When Pope Francis visits the country this week, he will find a thriving Catholic community .
August 12th, 2014
05:08 PM ET

5 reasons South Korea could be the church of future

Opinion by Candida Moss, special to CNN

(CNN) – When Pope Francis arrives in South Korea on Wednesday for a five-day visit, he’ll get a look at just the kind of church he’s been trying to create worldwide.

The trip, planned to coincide with Asia Youth Day, marks the first time a pope has visited the country since 1989, and is part of a new papal focus on globalization in general and on Asia in particular. (Francis plans to visit Sri Lanka, the Philippines and Japan in January.)

The time has long passed that the Catholic Church is elderly white men and women in European enclaves.

The last papal conclave and the election of the first Latin American Pope raised awareness of the Catholic Church’s growing presence in Africa, but Asian Christianity was hardly mentioned at all.

Even if it is rarely discussed in the media, Korean Catholicism is among the most vibrant in the world.

Here are five reasons South Korea might be the future of Catholic Church.

FULL POST

– CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Asia • Catholic Church • Christianity • North Korea • Opinion • Pope Francis • South Korea


August 12th, 2014
12:27 PM ET

Dramatic rescue as Yazidis flee ISIS

CNN’s Ivan Watson describes a dramatic rescue by the Iraqi military as desperate Yazidi civilians flee ISIS fighters.

– CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Uncategorized


August 9th, 2014
06:01 PM ET

Why missionaries put their lives on the line

By Daniel Burke and Ashley Fantz, CNN

(CNN) – It wasn’t as if God’s voice boomed through sun-parted clouds, telling Kent Brantly to move his family to Liberia.

Still, the young doctor said, the call was clear.

It echoed through the congregation where he was raised, Southeastern Church of Christ in Indianapolis.

Standing before the church community in July 2013, months before he left for Africa, Brantly said he heard the call in the teachers who urged him to memorize Scripture and the neighbors who funded his first mission trip years ago.

He saw it in the aunts and uncles who spent their vacations running Bible camps, organizing youth groups and serving missions themselves in Africa.

“It may not seem like much,” Brantly said in an emotional address to the Southeastern congregation, “but when you connect the dots you see a grand design that God has used to draw my life in a certain direction.”

For Brantly, that meant serving a two-year medical mission in Liberia with Samaritan’s Purse, a Christian relief organization. But in a grim twist that garnered international headlines, the 33-year-old contracted Ebola while treating patients and was airlifted back to the United States.

Brantly and a fellow missionary, Nancy Writebol, who was serving with SIM, another Christian aid organization, are being treated for the disease at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta.

After Liberia’s outbreak began in March 2013, Writebol volunteered at a hospital in Monrovia, where she disinfected doctors and nurses working with patients stricken by the disease.

Despite their weakened health, their trust in God remains strong, family members said.

“Mom is tired from her travel, but continues to fight the virus and strengthen her faith in her Redeemer, Jesus,” said Jeremy Writebol, Nancy’s son.

On Friday, Brantly said that he felt a spiritual serenity even after learning his diagnosis.

“I remember a deep sense of peace that was beyond all understanding,” he said. “God was reminding me of what he had taught me years ago, that he will give me everything I need to be faithful to him.

Though Brantly’s wife and children had been in Liberia with him, they had returned to the United States when he became ill.

FULL POST

– CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Africa • Catholic Church • Charity • Christianity • Ethics • evangelicals • Faith & Health • Foreign policy • Health • Health care • Liberia • Missionaries


August 8th, 2014
05:36 PM ET

Who are the Yazidis, and why does ISIS want to kill them?

By Joshua Berlinger, CNN

(CNN) – In a church in Irbil, 40-day-old Yeshua lies asleep in a crib, his sister playfully rocking him. It’s a peaceful scene. Their mother watches over them, but her face shows the fear and despair many Iraqi minorities have felt over the past few days.

The Sunni militant group ISIS, which calls itself the Islamic State, has steamrolled into Iraq’s north, forcing hundreds of thousands of minorities from their homes. The militants have beheaded some who won’t bend to their will and are “putting people’s heads on spikes” to terrorize others, a senior U.S. administration official said.

Nearly 40,000 Yazidis are trapped on the top of Mount Sinjar with few resources; many with just the clothes on their back, U.S. President Barack Obama said in an address late Thursday evening.

“These innocent families are faced with a horrible choice,” Obama said. “Descend the mountain and be slaughtered, or stay and slowly die of thirst and hunger.”

So who are these people being threatened by the Islamic State? And why do the militant Islamists have them in their cross hairs?

FULL POST

 

 

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Posted August 29, 2014 by dmnewsi in Uncategorized

SPECIAL REPORT: PUTIN ADVISER SAYS RUSSIA HAS INVADED UKRAINE   Leave a comment

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MOSCOW, Russia | DMN — A top Ukrainian army officer said a “full-scale invasion” of his country was under way Thursday, as a U.S. official said up to 1,000 Russian troops had crossed Ukraine’s southern border to fight alongside pro-Russian rebels. U.S. officials said Russian troops were directly involved in the latest fighting, despite Moscow’s denials. Rebels backed by Russian tanks and armored personnel carriers fought Ukrainian forces on two fronts Thursday: southeast of rebel-held Donetsk, and along the nation’s southern coast in the town of Novoazovsk, about 12 miles (20 kilometers) from the Russian border, said Mykhailo Lysenko, the deputy commander of the Ukrainian Donbas battalion.

“This is a full-scale invasion,” Lysenko said, referring to the fighting in the south. Intelligence now indicates that up to 1,000 Russian troops have moved into southern Ukraine with heavy weapons and are fighting there, a U.S. official told CNN on Thursday. NATO provided what it said is evidence: satellite images showing Russian troops engaged in military operations inside Ukraine. “The images, captured in late August, depict Russian self-propelled artillery units moving in a convoy through the Ukrainian countryside and then preparing for action by establishing firing positions in the area of Krasnodon, Ukraine,” NATO said in a news release.

Commercial satellite imagery shows the same, according to a British security source with detailed knowledge of UK intelligence estimates. One image that British intelligence has analyzed, dated Tuesday, shows 15 heavy trucks, at least seven armored vehicles and at least nine artillery positions. Russia’s military actions in eastern Ukraine “must cease immediately,” British Prime Minister David Cameron said Thursday. “I’m extremely concerned by mounting evidence that Russian troops have made large-scale incursions into South Eastern Ukraine, completely disregarding the sovereignty of a neighbor,” Cameron said. “The international community has already warned Russia that such provocative actions would be completely unacceptable and illegal.”

As the Russian presence grows, so does its influence over the separatist leadership in Ukraine, the British security source told CNN. According to the source, the UK has determined that Russian artillery and rockets — across the border and from within Ukraine — have been fired against the Ukrainian military. Two SA-22A gun/missile air defense systems were observed in separatist-controlled parts of Luhansk province on August 2, the source said. This system is not in Ukraine’s inventory but is used by the Russian military. Ukraine’s National Defense and Security Council said that Russian forces were in full control of Novoazovsk as of Wednesday afternoon.

Russia’s military fired Grad rockets into the town and its suburbs before sending in two convoys of tanks and armored personnel carriers from Russia’s Rostov region, it said in a statement. “Ukrainian troops were ordered to pull out to save their lives. By late afternoon both Russian convoys had entered the town. Ukraine is now fortifying nearby Mariupol to the west,” the NDSC said. A number of villages in the Novoazovsk, Starobeshiv and Amvrosiiv districts were also seized, it said. The NDSC also warned that a rebel counterattack is expected in the area where Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was shot down in July. Ukrainian and Western officials say they believe it was downed by rebels armed with Russian-made weapons.

Novoazovsk is strategically important because it lies on the main road leading from the Russian border to Ukraine’s Crimea region, which Russia annexed in March. Separatist leaders in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions then declared independence from Kiev. As international concern mounted over the apparent escalation in fighting, the U.N. Security Council held an emergency meeting on Ukraine. Samantha Power, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, accused Russia of lying. “It has manipulated. It has obfuscated. It has outright lied. So we have learned to measure Russia by its actions and not by its words,” Power said, calling for “serious negotiations.” “In the face of this threat, the cost of inaction is unacceptable,” she warned.

_77214546_papersReports that Russian troops are intervening directly in the fighting in south-east Ukraine have started to appear in Russian media, despite repeated denials from the Kremlin.

According to Vitaly Churkin, Russia’s ambassador to the United Nations, more than 2,000 people have been killed in the conflict and more than 800,000 have been displaced. He blamed the current escalation on the “reckless policy” of Kiev. “The Kiev authorities have torpedoed all political agreements on resolving the crisis,” Churkin told the Security Council meeting. “The only thing we’re seeing is a fight against dissent.” Ukraine’s deputy ambassador to the United Nations, meanwhile, put his colleagues on alert. “The world is challenged by a military-nuclear might, ignoring universal principles and craving absolute power,” Oleksandr Pavlichenko said about Russia. “How many more red lines have to be crossed before this challenge is addressed?” he asked.

The latest flare-up comes despite a meeting between Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Belarus on Tuesday at which some progress appeared to have been made toward finding a diplomatic solution to the crisis. Poroshenko canceled a planned trip to Turkey on Thursday “due to sharp aggravation of the situation in Donetsk region … as Russian troops were brought into Ukraine,” a statement from his office said. In a Cabinet meeting, Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk said that Russia “has very much increased its military presence in Ukraine” and that tougher measures may be needed to curb Russia’s support for the rebels. “Unfortunately, the sanctions were unhelpful as to de-escalating the situation in Ukraine,” he said, referring to the economic sanctions imposed by the United States and European Union against Russian individuals and companies.

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Yatsenyuk suggested one way to halt “Russian aggression” could be to freeze all assets and ban all Russian bank transactions until Russia “pulls out all its military, equipment and agents” from Ukraine. “Vladimir Putin has purposely started a war in Europe. It is impossible to hide from the fact,” he said. President Barack Obama, similarly, placed blame for the violence in Ukraine on Russia. “The violence is encouraged by Russia. The separatists are trained by Russia; they are armed by Russia; they are funded by Russia,” he told reporters in Washington. Calling sanctions against Russia already in place “effective,” he said it would face additional costs and consequences for its ongoing incursion. “Russia is already more isolated than at any time since the end of the Cold War,” Obama said.

U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt also said Thursday that Russian soldiers were directly involved in the fighting, alongside the pro-Russian rebels. “Russian-supplied tanks, armored vehicles, artillery and multiple rocket launchers have been insufficient to defeat Ukraine’s armed forces, so now an increasing number of Russian troops are intervening directly in the fighting on Ukrainian territory,” he said on Twitter. “Russia has also sent its newest air defense systems including the SA-22 into eastern Ukraine and is now directly involved in the fighting.” Moscow denies supporting and arming the pro-Russian rebels. It has also repeatedly denied allegations by Kiev that it has sent troops over the border.

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A Russian senator and the deputy head of the Committee on Defense and Security in Russia’s upper house of Parliament, Evgeny Serebrennikov, dismissed the latest reports of a Russian incursion as untrue. “We’ve heard many statements from the government of Ukraine, which turned out to be a lie. What we can see now is just another lie,” he said to Russian state news agency RIA Novosti. Russian lawmaker Leonid Slutsky also accused Kiev of lies, in comments to RIA Novosti. “I can only say that there’s no ground for claims like this, and the junta tries to lay its own fault at someone else’s door,” he said, referring to the Kiev government. Moscow regards it as illegitimate because it took charge after Ukraine’s pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych was ousted in February. However, the Prime Minister of the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic, Alexander Zakharchenko, acknowledged Thursday that there are current Russian servicemen fighting in the rebels’ ranks in eastern Ukraine.

In his statement, televised on state-run Russia 24, Zakharchenko said the rebels have never concealed that many Russians are fighting with them. He said up until now there were 3,000 to 4,000 volunteers, some of whom are retired Russian servicemen. Zakharchenko went on to reveal that the Russian servicemen currently fighting in their ranks are active, “as they came to us to struggle for our freedom instead of their vacations.” On Tuesday, Ukraine’s Security Service said it had detained 10 Russian soldiers in Ukraine. Russian state media cited a source in the Russian Defense Ministry as saying the soldiers had been patrolling the border and “most likely crossed by accident” at an unmarked point.

_77221029_023659940-1

The NDSC said Thursday that Ukraine’s Security Service detained another Russian serviceman who testified that his unit was supplying heavy military equipment to militants. Separately, Ukraine announced Thursday that it would reinstate compulsory military service in the fall. Fresh recruits will not be sent to the country’s area of conflict in the east, Mihaylo Koval, the deputy secretary of the National Defense and Security Council, told reporters. Pro-Kiev forces apparently already have engaged with rebel forces between Novoazovsk and Mariupol, the Sea of Azov port city 35 kilometers (22 miles) to the west that the country’s security council said was being fortified. A CNN crew north of Mariupol saw a ragged convoy of about 25 vehicles, some with their windows smashed out, belonging to pro-Kiev volunteer fighters heading away from the city Thursday afternoon.

The volunteers, including two from the country of Georgia, said they’d been involved in fighting in the Mariupol area but didn’t provide details. Earlier Thursday and farther north, the CNN crew was near Donetsk city, which Ukrainian forces have been trying to wrest from rebels for weeks. Heavy Ukrainian artillery fire targeted areas near Donetsk’s southern suburbs amid a heavy downpour of rain. The main highway 9 miles (15 kilometers) south of Donetsk was deserted. With return fire coming from Donetsk, villagers in the area said they’d been taking shelter indoors or underground, coming out only for an hour or two a day to get supplies. The city of Luhansk, a rebel stronghold, has also been at the center of fighting for days, prompting a humanitarian crisis. The NDSC said it remained without water, power or phone connections Thursday.

Ukraine conflict: Big questions explained

Ukrainian troops fighting in IlovaiskUkrainian troops have struggled to hold Ilovaisk, a bitterly contested strategic town
The conflict in eastern Ukraine has intensified, with the Kiev government and its Western allies accusing Russia of sending in troops and armour to help the rebels.

A new front has opened up on the coast, with the pro-Russian separatists now controlling Novoazovsk, a small town on the way to the strategic port city of Mariupol.

Heavy fighting continues around the rebel-held cities of Donetsk and Luhansk.

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Supporters of rebel cause in Donetsk (24 Aug 2014)Supporters of the rebels showed defiance as Ukraine marked Independence Day on 24 August

Why did the fighting erupt in eastern Ukraine?

In April, pro-Russian activists stormed government buildings across the Donetsk and Luhansk regions. Many of them were armed, and a tense stand-off with the Kiev authorities escalated.

Russian politicians and media portrayed the Kiev leaders as Ukrainian nationalists bent on violating Russian-speakers’ rights.

Russia’s annexation of Crimea, a Black Sea peninsula, in March gave momentum to the rebels’ drive to break away from Kiev.

The activists were enraged by the installation of a new pro-Western government in Kiev after massive street protests had toppled President Viktor Yanukovych in February.

Mr Yanukovych, friendly to Moscow, had been elected democratically. But there was widespread discontent over economic stagnation, corruption and cronyism, and his refusal to sign up to a partnership with the EU.

He used to be a powerful politician in the east, where the majority Russian-speakers mostly feel a strong bond with Russia.

line break
Captured Russian soldiers in Ukraine (27 Aug 2014)Ukraine says 10 Russian paratroopers, including these, were captured near the Russian border

Is the Russian military helping the rebels?

Yes. The question is, how much of this help is orchestrated at a senior level in Russia.

The Kremlin has repeatedly denied allegations by Kiev and the West that it is supplying troops and sophisticated military hardware to the rebels.

But the rebel leader in Donetsk, Alexander Zakharchenko, says 3-4,000 Russian citizens have been fighting alongside the rebels. He said Russian soldiers were continuing to join the rebel ranks, rather than “going to the beach”.

Nato has released satellite pictures showing, it says, Russian artillery and military columns inside Ukraine. And Nato officials say at least 1,000 Russian troops are operating in Ukraine.

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Nato Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen (right) meeting Ukrainian leaders in Kiev (7 Aug 2014)Nato leader Anders Fogh Rasmussen (right) has forged close ties with the Ukrainian government

Is Ukraine getting help from the West?

The US says it is supplying Ukraine with non-lethal military equipment,including radios, vehicles and “non-lethal individual tactical gear”.

The US is also sharing some intelligence information with Ukraine, the New York Times reports. But that does not include real-time data on potential targets, the paper’s sources say.

Ukraine is not in Nato – so that restricts the kind of military help the West can provide legally.

There are unconfirmed reports that US military advisers have been helping Ukraine in its major offensive against the rebels in July-August.

The EU has put in place a wide-ranging economic support package for Ukraine, to help Kiev manage its debts and balance-of-payments problems.

line break
Pro-Russian soldiers in Crimea (22 Mar 2014)Well-armed soldiers seized Ukrainian military bases in Crimea in March

Are we seeing a repetition of what happened in Crimea?

There are clear parallels, but also some important differences.

There are many reports of well-trained Russian-speaking soldiers operating in eastern Ukraine without insignia on their uniforms or vehicles.

Similar soldiers, nicknamed “little green men”, seized key installations in Crimea. Only later did Russia admit that they came from Russia. Earlier Russia had claimed that all the armed men were local separatists.

The separatists in Donetsk and Luhansk declared independence after referendums on 11 May, which were not recognised by Kiev or its Western allies.

A similar controversial referendum was held in Crimea, before the region was incorporated into Russia – an act condemned internationally.

But Russia has long had a sovereign naval base in Crimea – at Sevastopol – and native Russian-speakers are by far the largest group on the peninsula. Crimea was transferred to Ukraine from Russia in 1954, in Soviet times.

In eastern Ukraine, the population is more mixed ethnically and politically – and it is a far bigger area to control than Crimea.

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Body carried on stretcher in Donetsk (28 Aug 2014)Ukrainian shelling has been blamed for many civilian deaths in rebel-held Donetsk

Why does this matter for the rest of Europe?

It is widely recognised to be Europe’s biggest security crisis since the Cold War period, which ended in 1989.

For years the EU has been developing closer ties with Ukraine, yet Russia has been urging Ukraine to join its customs union with some other ex-Soviet countries.

Ukraine is on a geopolitical fault line – torn between east and west, its internal tensions were not resolved after the USSR’s collapse in 1991.

Nato and the EU accuse Russia of bullying Ukraine and say such tactics are unacceptable.

Most of the ex-communist countries in eastern Europe, once dominated by Moscow, demand a tough stance towards Russia’s President Vladimir Putin.

The EU and US have ratcheted up sanctions against Russia, hoping to force Mr Putin to back down over Ukraine and enter serious negotiations with Kiev.

Grey line

War in eastern Ukraine: The human cost

  • At least 2,119 people had been killed and 5,043 wounded since mid-April, a UN report on 7 August said
  • 951 civilians have been killed in Donetsk region alone, the official regional authorities said on 20 August
  • Official casualty counts only record certified deaths while in some particularly dangerous parts of the war zone, such as Luhansk region, victims are said to have been buried informally, for instance in gardens
  • Rebels (and some military sources) accuse the government of concealing the true numbers of soldiers killed
  • 155,800 people have fled elsewhere in Ukraine while at least 188,000 have gone to Russia

Posted August 28, 2014 by dmnewsi in Uncategorized

NATO SAYS RUSSIAN TROOPS HAVE INVADED UKRAINE   Leave a comment

_77221029_023659940-1This satellite image provided by the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe shows what NATO identifies as Russian self-propelled artillery in Ukraine.

MONS, Belgium | DMN — World powers have called a succession of emergency meetings to step up the international response to Russia after Kiev accused Moscow of a de facto invasion and of opening up a second front in the conflict in eastern Europe. The UN security council was meeting in emergency session, and NATO and EU leaders will consider a response on Friday, amid signs that hundreds of Russian soldiers are actively involved in the insurrection against Kiev’s rule. Russia denies that any of its troops are in eastern Ukraine. But on Thursday NATO said it estimated there were now more than 1,000 Russian soldiers fighting in Ukraine. The organisation released satellite images that it said showed Russian armored vehicles and artillery had been crossing into Ukraine for at least a week.

The Ukrainian president, Petro Poroshenko, said: “Russian forces have actually entered Ukraine,” while Ukrainian fighters in the south-east said Russian forces had helped separatists take over the border town of Novoazovsk. Western leaders swiftly seized on the latest escalation by warning Russian president Vladimir Putin of imminent consequences. Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, said the EU would discuss further sanctions at a summit this weekend, particularly in the light of the fresh incursion in which Russia stands accused of funneling troops and hardware into the south-east of Ukraine. “We are getting reports of an increased presence of Russian soldiers and of new unrest and fresh advances of the separatists in areas that until now were very quiet,” she said. “We made it clear in March this year that if there were a further escalation, more sanctions would have to be discussed.”

 

 

Jen Psaki, a US state department spokeswoman, said on Thursday that the US was considering its response to a “pattern of escalating aggression” by Russia and that increased sanctions were “the most effective tool, the best tool”. She added: “A military solution is not what we think is the appropriate approach, so we’re taking every tool that we can to see if we can reach a solution here through diplomatic means.” A spokesman for Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary-general, said the latest allegations pointed to a “dangerous escalation” in the crisis, and added: “The international community cannot allow the situation to escalate further.”

David Cameron said that if Russia did not desist “then she should be in no doubt that there will be further consequences”. The prime minister said: “I’m extremely concerned by mounting evidence that Russian troops have made large-scale incursions into south-eastern Ukraine, completely disregarding the sovereignty of a neighbor. “The international community has already warned Russia that such provocative actions would be completely unacceptable and illegal. We urge Russia to pursue a different path and to find a political solution to this crisis. If Russia does not, then she should be in no doubt that there will be further consequences.”

_77221025_ukraine_rebel_forces_20140828_624_v3

War in eastern Ukraine: The human cost

  • At least 2,119 people had been killed and 5,043 wounded since mid-April, a UN report on 7 August said
  • 951 civilians have been killed in Donetsk region alone, the official regional authorities said on 20 August
  • Official casualty counts only record certified deaths while in some particularly dangerous parts of the war zone, such as Luhansk region, victims are said to have been buried informally, for instance in gardens
  • Rebels (and some military sources) accuse the government of concealing the true numbers of soldiers killed
  • 155,800 people have fled elsewhere in Ukraine while at least 188,000 have gone to Russia.

_77207450_023649275

Western powers have already imposed a slew of sanctions on Moscow that have started to show signs of hurting Russia’s economy. But Putin has responded in kind and, despite meeting Poroshenko for talks on the crisis in Minsk this week, has shown no signs of changing tack. “Recent Russian actions clearly demonstrate that Moscow is bluntly drawing Ukraine and the entire world into a full-scale war,” Ukraine’s foreign ministry said after Poroshenko effectively accused Russia of mounting an invasion. “Russian forces have actually entered Ukraine,” he said, ordering an urgent meeting of Ukraine’s national security council. “I have made a decision to cancel my working visit to the republic of Turkey due to sharp aggravation of the situation in Donetsk region, particularly in Amvrosiivka and Starobeshevo, as Russian troops were actually brought into Ukraine,” he said. “The president must stay in Kiev today.”Addressing the council, he called on Ukrainians not to panic, and said the situation in the country’s east was “difficult but controllable”. He also said consultations between the Russian and Ukrainian army HQs, as agreed in Minsk, had begun, mainly to talk about prisoner exchanges. But Ukrainian forces have lost control of Novoazovsk, a town on the border with Russia, after it was attacked by a military convoy that is believed to have crossed from Russia.

A separatist leader admitted there were serving Russian soldiers among his fighters. A Russian rights group said about 100 Russian soldiers had been killed in Ukraine. Even members of Putin’s human rights advisory council conceded evidence pointed to a Russian invasion. “When masses of people, under commanders’ orders, on tanks, APCs and with the use of heavy weapons, [are] on the territory of another country, cross the border, I consider this an invasion,” Ella Polyakova told Reuters. She, and another member of the council, also said they believed that around 100 Russian soldiers had died earlier in the month when their convoy was hit by Grad missiles near the town of Snizhne in eastern Ukraine. There was no immediate way to confirm the figure. However, Russian officials continued to deny there was any kind of invasion. The defense ministry told Russian agencies that reports of Russian military units acting in Ukraine were “fake”.

_77240579_023660354-1

“It feels like Kiev really needs a ‘Russian armed invasion’,” wrote Maria Zakharova, a spokeswoman for the Russian foreign ministry, on Facebook. “It seems this is part of its big plan for scaring its own population, and the main answer to the question people there have: ‘what on earth has happened to us?’ It’s scary to think what statements the Ukrainian officials will come up with on Halloween.” Russia has repeatedly denied it is fighting in Ukraine, and speaking after the Minsk negotiations, Putin said that a solution to the crisis in east Ukraine is “not our business; it is a domestic matter for Ukraine itself”. He said all Russia could do was “support the creation of an environment of trust”. Putin’s words, however, jar sharply with events on the ground. Fighters and weapons have long been able to move freely along the unguarded sections of Russia’s border with Ukraine, and reporters in Novoazovsk say that what appears to be hastily repainted Russian military hardware has appeared in the town in recent days.

Russia’s denials appear increasingly flimsy. When the Guardian saw a Russian armored column cross the border two weeks ago, the foreign ministry and local security services denied any incursion had taken place, saying it was a border patrol that had not strayed into Ukrainian territory. Earlier this week, when Russian paratroopers were captured well inside Ukraine, sources in the defence ministry also said they had been part of a border patrol that had got lost and entered Ukraine “by accident”. The head of the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic, Alexander Zakharchenko, admitted on Thursday that there were serving Russian soldiers among his fighters, but claimed they were volunteers who were taking a holiday in the region.

_77221022_023657255-2

“Among the Russian volunteers there are many former soldiers, who are fighting alongside us and understand that it’s their duty,” said Zakharchenko in an interview with Russian television. “And moreover, I’ll say it openly, we also have current soldiers, who decided to take their holidays not on the beach, but among us.” Although Putin’s actions in Ukraine have been supported by the vast majority of Russians, there is increasing dissent inside the country about the growing evidence of a stealth war. Mikhail Khodorkovsky, formerly Russia’s richest man – who was released from jail late last year – said Russians should not be silent about the country’s soldiers being killed in Ukraine and secretly buried.

“We are fighting in Ukraine, fighting for real,” the former oligarch wrote. “Our authorities are always lying about this, in the 80s about Afghanistan, in the 90s about Chechnya and now about Ukraine. Why are we remaining silent? Have we become cowards? Are we scared of even thinking now?” There have also been appeals from relatives of the soldiers captured in Ukraine, calling on Putin and the defence ministry to help bring the men home alive. Kiev on Thursday called on its western allies for more support. The foreign ministry said: “Under the current circumstances, Ukraine counts on serious support from its international partners and believes that strengthening EU sanctions against Russia as well as providing Ukraine with military and technical support will help deter Russian aggression.”

DMN: THE WORLD TODAY   Leave a comment

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U.S.: Russians ‘directly’ involved

Separatist forces in eastern Ukraine, backed by Russian tanks and armored personnel carriers, are battling government forces on two fronts, a Ukrainian military official said. FULL STORY

 

 

 

 

 

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10 WORST DRESSED AT THE EMMYS

10 Worst Dressed at the Emmys


TOP VIDEOS

IDRIS ON ‘THAT BULGE’

Idris on

LUKE BRYAN FULFILLS WISH FOR AUTISTIC BOY

Luke Bryan Fulfills Wish for Autistic Boy

JUSTIN BIEBER SAID *WHAT* ABOUT PRINCESS DI?

Justin Bieber Said *What* About Princess Di?

HAPPY 50TH ANNIVERSARY!THIS ‘MARY POPPINS’ THEORY WILL BLOW YOUR MIND

This

IS THAT KIM OR KYLIE?

Is that Kim or Kylie?

CHEERS!EMMY WINNERS: THE COMPLETE LIST

Emmy Winners: The Complete List

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS!

HOMER SIMPSON TAKES THE ALS ICE BUCKET CHALLENGE

Homer

NICKI MINAJ BRINGS THE BOOTY TO USHER’S NEW VIDEO

Nicki

HELLO KITTY REVEALED NOT TO BE A CAT AND APPARENTLY NOTHING IS TRUE ANYMORE

Hello

STAR-STUDDEDBEST MOMENTS ON ‘CHELSEA LATELY’ FINALE

Best Moments on

Exclusive

ALL YOUR ‘PRETTY LITTLE LIARS’ QUESTIONS ANSWERED!

All Your

YEEHAW!MEET YOUR NEW ‘BACHELOR’

Meet Your New

PARTNER

BRAD PITT AND ANGELINA JOLIE ARE MARRIED

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“Friends” cast reprise roles on “Jimmy Kimmel Live”

Former MLB pitcher joins “Survivor”

Did Tony Soprano die in “The Sopranos” finale?

William Greaves, TV host and filmmaker, dies

GOODBYEEMMYS TRIBUTE TO ROBIN WILLIAMS

Emmys Tribute to Robin Williams

THE SIX MOST IMPORTANT MOMENTS IN ‘CENTRAL PERK’ ON FRIENDS

The Six Most Important Moments in

‘COPS’ CREW MEMBER KILLED DURING FILMING

 

 

 

Posted August 28, 2014 by dmnewsi in Uncategorized

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