Friday, February 28, 2014
SIMFEROPOL, Ukraine (AP) — Russian troops took control of the two main airports in the strategic peninsula of Crimea, Ukraine's interior minister charged Friday, as the country asked the U.N. Security Council to intervene in the escalating conflict. Russian state media said Russian forces in Crimea denied involvement.
No violence was reported at the civilian airport in Crimea's capital of Simferopol or at the military airport in the Black Sea port of Sevastopol, also part of Crimea. At the Simferopol airport, a man claiming to speak for the camouflage-clad forces patrolling the airport described them as Crimean militiamen.
Ukraine's State Border Guard Service said about 30 Russian paratroopers from the 810th brigade of Russia's Black Sea Fleet had taken up position outside the Ukrainian Coast Guard base in the Sevastopol area. It said the paratroopers said they were there to prevent any weapons at the base from being seized by extremists.
Russia's defense ministry had no comment.
Any Russian military incursion in Crimea would dramatically raise the stakes in Ukraine's conflict, which saw the pro-Russian president flee last weekend after three months of anti-government protests. Moscow has vowed to protect Russian-speaking Ukrainians in Crimea, where it has a major naval base, and Ukraine and the West have warned Russia to stay away.
"I can only describe this as a military invasion and occupation," Ukraine's new interior minister, Arsen Avakov, wrote in a Facebook post Friday.
Avakov said the airports were controlled by Russian navy troops. Associated Press journalists approaching the Sevastopol airport found the road leading up to it blocked by two military trucks and a handful of gunmen wearing camouflage uniforms and carrying assault rifles.
A car with Russian military plates was stopped at the road block. A man wearing a military uniform with a Russian flag on his sleeve got out of the car and was allowed to enter on foot after a brief discussion with the gunmen.
At the airport serving Simferopol, commercial flights were landing and taking off despite the armed men.
In Kiev, Ukraine's parliament adopted a resolution demanding that Russia halt steps it says are aimed against Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity, and called for a U.N. Security Council meeting on the crisis.
The Russian foreign and defense ministries had no comment. Russia's state RIA Novosti and Interfax cited an unnamed official from the Russian Black Sea Fleet denying involvement, saying Russian servicemen stationed in Crimea have not moved into the airports and denying that the Russian military was in control there.
The Kremlin, in a statement published late Thursday, said President Vladimir Putin had instructed the government to "maintain contacts with the counterparts in Kiev in what concerns trade and economic ties between Russia and Ukraine."
Putin also asked the government to "hold consultations with foreign partners including the (International Monetary Fund) and the G8 nations to provide financial aid to Ukraine."
At the airport in Simferopol, dozens of armed men in military uniforms without markings were patrolling with assault rifles Friday morning. They didn't stop or search people leaving or entering the airport, and refused to talk to journalists.
One man who identified himself only as Vladimir said they were part of the Crimean People's Brigade, which he described as a self-defense unit ensuring that no "radicals and fascists" arrive from other parts of Ukraine.
The airport seizures came a day after masked gunmen with rocket-propelled grenades and sniper rifles seized the parliament and government offices in Simferopol and raised the Russian flag. Ukrainian police cordoned off the area but didn't confront the gunmen.
The events in Crimea have heightened tensions with neighboring Russia. Moscow scrambled fighter jets on Thursday and put most of its troops in western and southern Russia on combat readiness exercises that it said were unrelated to the Ukraine conflict. The moves were reminiscent of Cold War brinksmanship.
Moscow has been sending mixed signals about Ukraine but pledged to respect its territorial integrity. Putin has long dreamed of pulling Ukraine, a country of 46 million people considered the cradle of Russian civilization, closer into Moscow's orbit.
Russia also granted shelter to Ukraine's fugitive president, Viktor Yanukovych, state media reported. They said he would give a news conference Friday in southern Russia, near the Ukrainian border.
Yanukovych has not been seen publicly since Saturday when he was still in Ukraine, and he declared Thursday in a statement that he remains Ukraine's legitimate president.
The prosecutor-general's office in Kiev said it would seek Yanukovych's extradition to Ukraine, where he is wanted on suspicion of mass murder in last week's violent clashes between protesters and police, in which over 80 people were killed.
Meanwhile, Swiss prosecutors announced they had launched a criminal investigation against Yanukovych and his son Aleksander over "aggravated money laundering." They said police and Geneva's chief prosecutor conducted a search and seized documents Thursday at the premises of a company owned by Aleksander Yanukovych.
Switzerland's governing Federal Council announced that it decided to block all assets Yanukovych and his entourage might have in Switzerland.
Ukraine's parliament on Thursday elected a new government led by a pro-Western technocrat who promptly pledged to prevent any national break-up.
Ukraine's population is divided in loyalties between Russia and the West, with much of western Ukraine advocating closer ties with the European Union while eastern and southern regions look to Russia for support.
Crimea, a southeastern peninsula of Ukraine, was seized by Russian forces in the 18th century under Catherine the Great, and was once the crown jewel in Russian and then Soviet empires.
It became part of Ukraine in 1954 when Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev transferred jurisdiction from Russia, a move that was a mere formality until the 1991 Soviet collapse meant Crimea landed in an independent Ukraine.
In a bid to shore up Ukraine's fledgling administration, the International Monetary Fund has said it is "ready to respond" to Ukraine's bid for financial assistance. The European Union is also considering emergency loans for a country that is the chief conduit of Russian natural gas to western Europe.
Ukraine's finance ministry has said it needs $35 billion over the next two years to avoid default.
AP reporters Dalton Bennett in Sevastopol, Maria Danilova and Karl Ritter in Kiev and Nataliya Vasilyeva in Moscow contributed to this report.
Thursday, February 27, 2014
Tea Party Accomplishments Are Many And When The New York Times Writes Your Obit, You Know You Are Making Points.
Five Years On, The Tea Party Isn’t Dead
February 27, 2014 by Sam Rolley
The Tea Party certainly isn’t dead, as The New York Times recently suggested.
That was the message Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) delivered Thursday to a crowd of Tea Party activists assembled in Washington to celebrate five years of the conservative government movement.
The Senator was joined by Republican lawmakers, including Mike Lee, Rand Paul, Michele Bachmann and Louie Gohmert, in remembering the many accomplishments of the movement in the years since Rick Santelli’s rant on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange in 2009.
“If you listen to the media, if you listen to Democrats — although I repeat myself — they will say the fight to stop Obamacare did not succeed,” said Cruz
“Really?” Cruz said. “Well, I’m a big believer the proof is in the pudding. Last fall, millions of Americans rose up and said, ‘Stop the disaster that is Obamacare.’ … We elevated the national debate of the incredible harms Obamacare is visiting on millions of Americans.”
Cruz went on to emphasize the populist support, which was largely a surprise to the political establishment, of Paul’s epic 13 hour rant against President Barack Obama’s murderous drone policy.
When Paul had his turn at the mic, he emphasized the broad appeal of the Tea Party’s fiscal conservatism and small government ideals and encouraged the establishment GOP to embrace unconventional Republicans.
“When we present our message, and we want a bigger crowd and we want to win politically, the message has to be a happy message,” he said. “One of optimism, one of inclusiveness, one of growth, a message that actually brings up the people who are poor among us, brings up those who are long-term unemployed and find them some jobs.”
“Our message is that, but we have to figure out a way to make sure that everybody knows that that’s what we’re here for,” Paul said.
The lack of balance in the report on "Israel War Crimes" shows where Amnesty International is coming from. It is NOT an honest broker and anything that comes from the organization should be disregarded.
The report deals only with Israeli "war crimes" yet ignores the cause of many of the actions and the activities taken by Palestinians, Hamas and Hezbollah. Rock throwing is completely ignored as well as the rockets fired into Israel from Gaza.
Additionally, the publishing of the report during "Israel Apartheid week" is meant to increase the pressure on the Jewish state to cave into the demands of Obama/Kerry and the European Union.
Lastly, the report itself shows that Amnesty International is part of the Boycott, Disinvestment and Sanction (BDS) movement when it says:
"The report urges the suspension of “all transfers and munitions, weapons and other equipment to Israel.”
The game plan from this movement is to not change Israel, but to eliminate it from the face of the earth. It wants the state to disappear and to have Palestinians govern the area that used to be the Jewish state. They have the mistaken notion that all wars will end and the world will be peaceful if only Israel ceased to exist.
Obama/Kerry is following the same mantra as Amnesty International. We have reported several times on this site that in an effort to get a peace settlement, the Americans will demand that Israel accept their plan or face BDS type actions relating not only to military equipment, but also foreign aid and the UN bringing sanctions against Israel.
Israel will be left to fend for itself against the world, that is what is coming. Be prepared.
Amnesty International Accuses Israel of War Crimes
IRS Survey: Cheating on Taxes More Acceptable in 2013
Wednesday, 26 Feb 2014 02:24 PM
By Michelle Smith
In the IRS' annual Taxpayer Attitude Survey, 12 percent of participants declared it acceptable to cheat “a little here and there” or “as much as possible.”
The tolerance for dishonesty last year increased only slightly compared to 2012 when 11 percent of participants condoned cheating.
And while 86 percent noted that they were against dishonesty, only 64 percent completely agreed that all tax cheats should be held accountable, down from 69 percent in 2012.
The survey revealed that 33 percent of participants believe the IRS devotes too much of its resources to enforcement, the highest rate since 2006. Only about a third of the respondents credited the tax agency with maintaining a proper balance between enforcement and customer service, falling to the lowest level over the same time period.
Bad financial situations are one reason why people are likely to cheat on their taxes, Valrie Chambers, a professor of accounting at Texas A&M University at Corpus Christi tells CNN Money. She says some people just cannot afford to be hit with a tax bill.
“They justify not paying because they are paying all they can for something more important,” Chambers said. “These are sad cases to see, and are probably more prevalent since the recession of 2008.”
However, some people are trying to “even the score” because they feel the government cheats them, and others cheat because they don't agree with government spending, Chambers added.
According to research from DBB World Communications, for many cheaters, dishonesty may just be in their nature.
The Fiscal Times says 15 percent of the respondents in the survey admitted to cheating on their taxes. Nearly three-fourths of those cheaters also worked a job under the table, were more likely to keep the wrong change from a cashier and lie about their income to qualify for welfare and 28 percent even confessed to stealing from their own child’s piggy bank.
Whatever their reasons, tax cheats do put a real dent in government revenues. According to the Fiscal Times, the Treasury Department says it loses $250 billion or more per year due to under-reporting.
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