... This new anti fascist war we must fight, against the rule of
The corpses. The corporate dictatorship forming in front of
Our eyes. It can no longer surprise. Get your pitch forks ready.
Strike Hard and True. You get them or they get you.
'The People's Poet' [Gawker - 6/1/15]
Eastern Osprey, Runaway Bay [7/2/15]
The Women's March to Versailles, October 5-6, 1789
An explosion outside the presidential palace in Yemen’s Sanaa on Saturday wounded three Houthi militiamen guarding the residence, Reuters news agency reported.
The explosion followed an announcement on Saturday in which the Houthis formed a “security commission,” including former ministers, a day after its takeover which opponents denounced as a “coup.” ... [Al Arabiya - 7/2/15]
Thousands protest against Houthi coup in Yemen [Al Jazeera – 7/2/15]
@IraqiSMCEn - Iraqi Spring Media Center [7/2/15]: Fallujah Hospital has recieved 8 dead bodies of civilians and two wounded injured in the bombing of government's army during the last 24 hours...................
Separate suicide bomb attacks have killed at least 23 people and injured 60 more in Baghdad, police officials said. ... [Al Jazeera - 7/2/15]
Kenyan MP gunned down in Nairobi [Naharnet - 7/2/15]
Afhganistan: Insurgents have blown up a Girls School and a clinic in eastern Kunar province. … [Khaama – 7/2/15]
What are the IOM and Bill & Melinda Gates foundation up to in Pakistan and Afghanistan? Where is the UNHCR?
Thousands of Afghan families fleeing Pakistan: IOM [Pajhwok - 7/2/15]
Afghans leave Pakistan with nothing as Peshawar massacre prompts crackdown [Guardian "Global Development" - 7/2/15]
The Fiery Cage and the Lynching Tree, Brutality’s Never Far Away [Bill Moyers - 5/2/15]
The British documentarian Nick Broomfield has said that the controversial biopic American Sniper is a film which Adolf Hitler would have been proud to have made.
In an interview for The Independent Magazine, the award-winning filmmaker branded it an example of ‘American fascism’ that made him question his decision to live in the United States.
“After you’ve watched a film like American Sniper, you think “My God, what the fuck am I doing here?”
He went on to say: “I think Adolf would have been proud to have made it”.
Sea Shepherd ship rammed by poacher
The environmental activist group, Sea Shepherd, says its ship was charged at by a vessel poaching toothfish in the Indian ocean last night.
The group's Bob Barker ship has been pursuing the Nigerian-flagged Thunder for more than 50 days.
Bob Barker captain, Peter Hammarstedt, said he found Thunder trying to pull up an illegal net, so positioned his vessel to block it.
He said his ship was then charged at and the boats were half a metre away from a collision.
Mr Hammarstedt said Sea Shepherd is having to do work that should be done by the New Zealand navy.
He said the seven week pursuit has probably cost the Thunder $20 million in lost revenue, and the poachers are getting more and more frustrated.
Sea Shepherd said earlier this week, its other ship, Sam Simon, intercepted two other illegal fishing vessels in the Southern Ocean.
Woman's body found at Frankston North home
The Age [7/2/15]:
... The body of a woman was located at a home in Timbertop Court in Melbourne's outer south-east shortly before 12pm.
Homicide Squad detectives are on the scene.
Police said the exact circumstances surrounding the woman's death is yet to be established.
Anyone with any information should call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or submit a confidential crime report at www.crimestoppersvic.com.au.
Son charged with father's murder after alleged stabbing in Melbourne
Nine MSN [7/2/15]:
A 38-year-old man has been charged with murder after allegedly stabbing his father to death at his home in Melbourne.
Roger Kozarov faced an out of sessions hearing yesterday evening and has been remanded to appear at the Melbourne Magistrates Court today.
The wife of the 62-year-old man found him fatally wounded outside their Bundoora home yesterday morning.
Police found Mr Kozarov at a nearby hotel where he was arrested.
A blue ute has been seized for forensic investigation.
Meth delusions led to brutal murder
West Australian [7/2/15]:
A former WAFL footballer in the grip of an acute psychosis after a two-week methamphetamine binge stabbed to death a stranger on his morning walk at a dog beach.
Daniel Luke Zwerus was jailed for life yesterday with a minimum of 18 years for the delusional, unprovoked and savage murder of Ilario Maiolo on May 13, 2013.
In the Supreme Court yesterday, Justice Stephen Hall acknowledged the devastation Mr Maiolo's brutal death caused his loving family.
He said Zwerus had a severe psychosis at the time of the attack but had willingly taken the drugs, though he was aware of the adverse effects on him and this could not be considered a mitigating circumstance.
Outside court, Det-Sgt Cameron Blaine spoke on behalf of Mr Maiolo's family, who he said were shattered.
"It certainly sent a shock wave through the Mandurah community and the broader community," he said.
Zwerus, 33, a father of two who played for Peel Thunder in 2001, pleaded guilty to the murder last Friday, three days before a scheduled Supreme Court trial.
Prosecutor Laura Christian told the court Mr Maiolo, a father of two known to his family and friends as Larry, was taking his usual morning walk at the Halls Head dog beach when Zwerus stabbed him 18 times in the brutal, sustained attack.
Zwerus then callously dragged the 46-year-old's body into the ocean and left the beach, stopping at strangers' houses to take property, including a fresh shirt from a clothes line, and discarding Mr Maiolo's wallet and bloodstained items on the way.
Ms Christian said Mr Maiolo, whose body was pulled from the water that morning while his wife and son were at the beach, had stab wounds to his head, neck, back and shoulders.
She said Zwerus, who had a history of binge drug use and violent offending, had used methamphetamine and cannabis daily for two weeks before the attack. He had been assessed as being psychotic due to methamphetamine intoxication.
Ms Christian said general deterrence was important and people needed to be sent the message that it was not acceptable to go on drug binges that made them no longer able to act rationally.
Defence lawyer Tony Elliott said genuine issues relating to whether Zwerus was insane and his mental capacity had been relevant in the lead-up to his scheduled trial. He said that less than a week before the killing, Zwerus tried to be admitted to rehabilitation.
He said Zwerus was delusional and had auditory command hallucinations before the attack. He believed he was possessed by the devil and that a task to rid the world of a certain type of person had fallen to him.
Man charged after partner allegedly doused with fuel in Port Macquarie
Port Macquarie News [7/2/15]:
A man is due to appear in court on Saturday after another man was allegedly doused with fuel during an argument at Port Macquarie.
Police were called to the home in Church Street about 1am Saturday, responding to reports that a man had allegedly been assaulted with a car jack and petrol poured over him.
A 51-year-old man was taken to Port Macquarie Hospital for treatment while a 46-year-old man – alleged to be the victim’s partner – was arrested nearby.
The younger man was taken to Port Macquarie Police Station where he was charged with:
•Assault occasioning actual bodily harm (two counts),
•Contravene an apprehended violence order, and,
He was refused bail and will appear in Port Macquarie Local Court on Saturday.
Serious traffic crash, Brinsmead (Cairns)
QPS Media [7/2/15]:
Police are investigating a serious traffic crash that occurred on Redlynch Connection Road in Brinsmead today.
Initial investigations suggest that just after midnight a car collided with a street pole.
The sole occupant of the vehicle, a 21-year-old man, was taken to the Cairns Base Hospital with life threatening injuries.
The Forensic Crash Unit is investigating.
Anyone with information which could assist with this matter should contact Crime Stoppers anonymously via 1800 333 000 or crimestoppers.com.au 24hrs a day.
Over 20 pilots resign from Air Niugini
PNG Loop [7/2/15]:
Over twenty pilots have resigned from PNG’s national carrier Air Niugini just weeks after signing their new employment contract which came into effect on January 1, 2015.
Recently, national pilots contested some aspects of the contract, particularly an 11 percent pay cut offered in the new contract.
Their disagreement almost ended in an industrial dispute, however, the day before their contracts were to expire, pilots were issued a letter directing them to sign the new contracts before close of business on Dec 31, 2014 or they would be jobless.
Air Niugini says it is managing its flight operations with the number of pilots it currently has and with the peak season almost over it is confident of delivering flights on schedule.
ANG also told Loop News it has put out an advertisement to employ replacement pilots.
It says the response has been overwhelming.
Civil servant sentenced over Sun budget leak
Hacking Inquiry [6/2/15]:
A former HMRC press officer has narrowly avoided imprisonment over receiving payments from a Sun journalist for confidential information.
Sentencing Jonathan Hall at London’s Old Bailey Judge Rook said he regarded the defendants conduct as an “affront to the standing of the public office you held”, and said that in normal circumstances he would have imposed an immediate prison sentence.
However given Hall’s early guilty plea and the 32 months he has spent on bail the judge decided to suspend an eight month sentence and impose 200 hours of unpaid work.
Earlier the court was told that Hall had leaked details of the 2010 budget to The Sun’s then Whitehall editor Clodagh Hartley in exchange for payment.
He had also given the journalist information about treasury officials having a party and senior officials using first class rail travel. Hartley herself was acquitted of conspiracy at a trial held late last year.
In mitigation defence counsel, Richard Wormald, had told the judge that his client had been “seduced by the money” offered by the newspaper.
Since his arrest, he said, Hall had been doing voluntary PR work for a homelessness charity and faced losing his home if sent to prison.
He also noted that Hall’s partner, Marta Bukarewicz, had stood by him even though he had embroiled her in his offending and she had also faced a stressful trial.
“You should be very grateful to her” Judge Rook told the defendant.
Bukarewicz was in the public gallery for the sentencing hearing and burst into tears when the result was announced.
Summing up Judge Rook told Hall “your job was to manage the dissemination of news, not to make it for your own personal enrichment”, adding “the real criminality in this case was that you had two paymasters, HMRC and News International”.
I continue to be perplexed and utterly horrified by the silence.
The IOM receives funding from the Australian government to facilitate the torture and forcible return of refugees.
They appear to have usurped any UNHCR presence in the region.
Why do Australia's human rights establishment, media and so called opposition politicians say nothing about the IOM?
Do they have their heads jammed up their bums?
Do they agree with what the IOM are doing (i.e. they believe the demented orderly migration/stop the boats/people smugglers propaganda) and that self censorship and secrecy is vital?
Are they are a bunch of frauds masquerading as human rights advocates, investigative journalists and politicians who have positioned themselves as a kind of dissent safety valve, allowing the wider project of war, economic, environmental exploitation and genocide of displaced persons to go unchallenged?
Are they are scared?
Whatever the case may be, if what the IOM is up to on Manus Island was scrutinised by the media and human rights establishment, or raised by an opposition politician, the refugee death camps would be closed.
Manus Island contractors on illegal visas [Australian Financial Review - 7/2/15]
... It was June 25 last year and an employee of the Department of Immigration and Border Protection and three federal government contractors were on an inspection tour of China.
The lavish trip, which is being investigated by the department, raises questions about oversight of the government's controversial $253 million project to expand its refugee processing centre in Papua New Guinea.
An investigation by the 'AFR Weekend' has uncovered a myriad of problems related to management of the Manus expansion project, which included the inspection tour amid claims it was just a jaunt for the four men involved.
After spending two nights in Beijing, without any official business listed on their itinerary seen by the AFR Weekend, the group had arrived in Shanghai. ... [Brisbane Times - 6/2/15]
Media, human rights
establishment and "opposition" complicit in Australian government and IOM's
torture and forcible return of refugees
Living With Evil.
Refugee Action Coalition, Sydney [6/2/15]:
Officers from the International Organisation of Migration (IOM) visited jailed asylum seekers on Manus yesterday looking for asylum seekers to agree to voluntarily return to their home countries.
IOM was the manager of the Manus Island detention centre under the Howard government.
IOM have no protection mandate but are a mercenary outfit paid by the Australian government to arrange returns of asylum seekers.
IOM contracts have sometimes included bounties paid for each asylum seeker returned.
The asylum seekers have been held in appalling conditions in the Lorengau jail since being shanghaied by Wilson security guards during the Manus mass hunger strike.
“To take advantage of asylum seekers who have been cruelly abused and are now unlawfully held in jail; is just despicable,” said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition.
“Many of those in jail have also been denied urgently needed medical assistance. Lorengau hospital is refusing to provide treatment saying that asylum seekers should be looked after by IHMS. Some of those in jail are also refugees entitled to international protection.
“It says everything about the priorities of the Immigration Department and the PNG government, that IOM gets access to the jail, but there are no lawyers, nor medical assistance.
“There is an urgent need for the asylum seekers to get medical attention. There is an urgent need for human rights observers on Manus Island – at the detention centre and in the jail. IOM and the Immigration Department are systematically violating the rights of asylum seekers.”
The ‘Pacific Solution’ revisited: a statistical guide to the asylum seeker caseloads on Nauru and Manus Island [Parliament of Australia - 4/9/12]:
... The International Organization for Migration (IOM) manages and operates the offshore processing facilities in Nauru and Papua New Guinea. IOM are internationally renowned for the high level of care that they deliver to centre residents. IOM provides high quality and responsive services in its management of the processing centres, giving priority to the social well-being of the centres’ residents. IOM continually reviews its community health programs as the residents’ circumstances change with population movements, ensuring programs address changing needs.
These holistic programs include a wide range of sporting and leisure activities (including satellite television, videos and reading materials) and education programs (which include language classes and computer skills). In addition: there are regular excursions for shopping and swimming; school-aged children regularly attend local schools; residents have regular access to Internet and personal e-mail in the town centre; and IOM conducts occupational activities for residents, including catering, gardening, nursery management, woodworking, electrical equipment maintenance and repairs and poultry farming. ...
US Embassy in Port Moresby awards two new grants totalling US$1 million to the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) [PNG Loop - 15/12/14]:
The US Embassy in Port Moresby has awarded two new grants totalling US$1 million (about K3.5 million) to its partner, the International Organization for Migration (IOM), to combat the global threat of human trafficking in PNG and Solomon Islands.
“These two grants will empower the people of the South Pacific by providing populations at risk of being trafficked with access to information and justice,” says US Ambassador to PNG, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu, Walter North.
The first grant awards $500,000 to IOM for a two-year project which will provide technical assistance to strengthen legislation, prosecution efforts, and protection measures to combat trafficking in persons in PNG.
Ambassador North said the grant is to award Papua New Guinea’s observance of ‘Stop Human Trafficking Day’, as part of the 20 days of Human Rights Activism campaign, and building on the PNG Criminal Code Amendment Act of 2013 to combat the global threat of human trafficking.
“There is perhaps no greater threat to human dignity, and no greater attack on basic freedom, than the evil of human trafficking,” said Ambassador North.
The second project provides $500,000 to IOM for a two-year project that will focus on strengthening coordinated efforts to combat trafficking in person in the Solomon Islands.
The project will also support Solomon Islands law enforcement to investigate and prosecute perpetrators of trafficking in persons.
Ambassador Walter said more than 20 million people estimated to be victimized around the world by the 150 billion US dollar criminal industry that traffics in human beings, making the struggle against modern slavery can seem daunting.
Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs References Committee Recommendations re "Incident at the Manus Island Detention Centre from 16 February to 18 February 2014" [December 2014]:
4.70 In specific evidence about actual incidents of encouragement to return home, a former employee of Playfair suggested that staff from the International Organization for Migration (IOM) were 'speaking to transferees, trying to convince them of the benefits of returning home'.
4.71 In contrast, government representatives re-confirmed their view that any returns from Manus Island RPC were strictly voluntary. For example Lieutenant General Campbell stated that '[i]t is really important to note these are voluntary returns'.
4.72 In terms of the number of returns from the Manus Island RPC, the department provided information that:
As at 1 August 2014, 203 transferees have been voluntarily returned from an Offshore Processing Centre (OPC) and 174 transferees from the Manus OPC since 18 February 2014 with the assistance of the International Organization for Migration (IOM).
Inner City Press [18/12/14]
When International Organization for Migration director William Lacy Swing took questions at the UN on International Migrants Day, December 18, Inner City Press asked him about IOM's work for Australia, in Manus Island, Nauru and prospectively in Cambodia -- and also with Bangladesh about or on the Rohingya.
Swing insisted that IOM is not involved in involuntary repatriations, but that once the deed is done, they will assist.
Inner City Press asked, doesn't they enable and embolden countries to violate international refugee and humanitarian law?
... During the two weeks of our hunger strike, we protested peacefully to send our message in both verbal and written ways, but unfortunately the government distorted the news and talked about makeshift weapons, while our movement was free of any types of violence. Yes, we were all armed, but not with weapons, we were armed with mobile phones and also we were armed with pens that recorded everything.
We would like to request you, Honourable
Senators of Australia, if the future of Australia is still important to you, if
you do not want the next generation of Australians to respond to your crimes on
offshore processing regions, please step in and help us achieve our freedom. ...
Written by my friend in Manus. via Students for Refugees [6/2/15]
What would Margaret Mead have said about the experiment in human atrocity the Australian government and the IOM are co-ordinating on Manus Island?
Loving a village [Penn Museum - November 1993]:
In 1928 the newly married young anthropologists Margaret Mead and Reo Fortune lived for six months in a village called Pere, off the south coast of a small island called Manus in the Territory of Papua New Guinea. Toward the end of her life, on the last of her seven visits to Pere Village, Mead delivered this message to the younger generation of a people whose culture had undergone a radical transformation since her first visit almost five decades earlier ...
International exchange on human rights [Australian Human Rights Commission - 5/2/15]:
… The two-day meetings and roundtables also included Australian and international NGOs working to promote the rights of children, older persons and people with disability.
Professor Gillian Triggs said there were a number of human rights issues relevant to both Australia and South Africa, including social justice and native title, racial discrimination, the rights of children and young people to access quality education, gender equality, the rights of older persons, and the rights of people with disability.
“The visit has also provided the South African Human Rights Commission with the opportunity to hear from our Commissioners about human rights issues in Australia, particularly in the areas of age and disability discrimination, social justice and children’s rights,” Professor Triggs said.
... After Gray left, another manager at the centre told the fifteen hunger strikers, “We won’t do anything for you while you are on hunger strike. We don’t care if you die.” ... Immigration manager dismisses hunger strikers [Refugee Action Coalition, Sydney - 6/2/15]
For 40 days Darwin lawyer John Lawrence has watched his client starving himself and drawing ever closer to death.
He has described it as a most "unusual and singular experience".
The 33-year-old Iranian asylum seeker began his hunger strike out of despair at his situation in immigration detention in Australia - a situation Mr Lawrence described as "Kafka-esque".
"It's a most unusual and singular experience for any lawyer to represent a man who has chosen to starve himself to death, and I wouldn't wish it on anyone," he said.
His client is being held at the Wickham Point detention centre near Darwin after having an application for a refugee visa rejected by the Federal Government.
Since arriving in Australia five years ago the man has been in and out of detention centres and on temporary bridging visas in the community while his claim is processed.
He cannot go back to Iran as he will be killed, Mr Lawrence said.
In addition, Australia cannot force him to go back because Iran does not accept its citizens who have been returned by force.
Australia's national broadcaster revels in its degeneracy ---> Is drinking your favourite tipple from Mason jars a thing of the past? Susan Maushart hopes so. [ABC - 7/2/15]:
... Originally the Mason jar thing was a nod to of all things MOONSHINE culture. As in the backwoods of Appalachia – as in genetically compromised individuals guzzling home-brew whiskey out behind a rotting woodpile, with a hound-dog chaser and a sawed-off shotgun for a swizzle stick. Oh, the glamour. ...
UK: Judge rules woman with learning disabilities can be sterilised by force [ITV - 4/2/15]
Professor among two dead in University of South Carolina shooting
A University of South Carolina professor died of multiple gunshot wounds to his upper body after being shot in an apparent murder-suicide in a campus building in downtown Columbia, a coroner said on Friday.
Dr. Raja Fayad, 45, appeared to be the victim in Thursday's incident, Richland County Coroner Gary Watts said. The likely shooter, also dead, will be identified after that person's family is notified, Watts added.
He was shot with a semi-automatic handgun, South Carolina Law Enforcement Division spokesman Thom Berry told Reuters.
The shooter had a long-term relationship with the professor, Berry said. No suicide note was found.
Fayad was an associate professor of applied physiology who served as graduate director at the university's Arnold School of Public Health. University officials told the coroner that Fayad was born in Lebanon.
He was found on Thursday afternoon in a fourth-floor office at the school's research building, police said. The shooting, which occurred just blocks from the state capitol and governor's office, put the campus of about 30,000 students on lockdown for around an hour.
Classes were canceled for Friday at the public health school, and student leaders planned to hold a memorial candlelight vigil.
"The sun is out this morning," university President Harris Pastides said on Twitter. "Let's honor Professor Fayad with respect. Show someone that we care."
Fayad had been at the university since 2008, according to the school. He graduated from the Aleppo University School of Medicine in Syria in 1995, according to university documents, and was a specialist in colon cancer research.
United States, “allies' continue bombing Iraq and Syria
On Feb. 5, U.S. and Coalition military forces continued to attack ISIL terrorists in Syria, using bomber, fighter, attack and remotely piloted aircraft to conduct 10 airstrikes.
Separately, U.S. and Coalition military forces conducted eight airstrikes in Iraq, using attack, fighter and remotely piloted aircraft against ISIL terrorists.
All strikes took place between 8 a.m., Feb. 5, and 8 a.m., Feb. 6, local time.
The following is a summary of the strikes conducted since the last press release:
* Near Kobani, nine airstrikes struck nine ISIL tactical units, and destroyed two ISIL fighting positions.
* Near Al Hasakah, an airstrike struck multiple storage and staging facilities.
* Near Bayji, three airstrikes struck an ISIL road, an ISIL weapons cache and destroyed an ISIL bunker.
* Near Al Asad, two airstrikes struck an ISIL tactical unit and an ISIL staging location.
* Near Al Qaim, an airstrike, struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL vehicle.
* Near Fallujah an airstrike, struck an ISIL tactical unit.
* Near Mahkmur, an airstrike struck an ISIL earth mover.
Airstrike assessments are based on initial reports. All aircraft returned to base safely.
Operation Inherent Resolve Airstrike Video Now Available [Centcom – 6/2/15]
US moves more
helicopters to Erbil despite protests from Baghdad [RUDAW –
Syrian air strikes kill 70 people after rebel rocket attack: monitor [Reuters – 6/2/15]
More than 30 "IS Jihadists" killed in coalition raids on Syria [Nahanret - 6/2/15]
Yemen's Houthi rebels take over government in coup
[Al Jazeera – 6/2/15]
Car Bomb Kills 3, Wounds 20 in Libya [Al Akhbar – 6/2/15]
Taliban commander’s dead body set on fire in Herat province [Khaama – 6/2/15]
Since militants attacked the Nigerian town of Baga a month ago, more than 14,000 people have found safety in Chad, including hundreds of children who are still suffering.
Many, like 15-year-old Ismail, have been separated from their parents and placed with host families by UNHCR.
They are still haunted by the trauma of their escape from the north-eastern town located in Borno state near Lake Chad. ... [UNHCR Media Release - 5/2/15]
South Sudan: as top officials spotlight crisis, UN warns of ‘dramatic' decline in food security [Media Relese - 6/2/15]
Deported Palestinian Scholar Sami Al-Arian on His Chilling Post-9/11 Prosecution
Democracy Now [6/2/15]:
Days after his deportation from the United States, the Palestinian activist and professor Sami Al-Arian discusses the end of his ordeal as the target of one of the most controversial prosecutions of the post-9/11 era.
Sami was accused of ties to a militant group, but a Florida jury failed to return a single guilty verdict on any of the 17 charges against him.
After prosecutors refiled charges, Sami chose jail time and deportation rather than face a second trial.
For much of the three years following his arrest in 2003, he was imprisoned in solitary confinement and reportedly abused by prison staff under conditions Amnesty International called "gratuitously punitive."
In a broadcast exclusive, Sami joins us from Turkey for his first broadcast interview since being deported. We are also joined by his daughter Laila Al-Arian, a Peabody Award-winning journalist based in Washington, D.C.
Sami Al-Arian, Professor Who Defeated Controversial Terrorism Charges, is Deported from US [The Intercept – 5/2/15]
The Case of Sami al-Arian [Democracy Now – 9/7/04]
... It’s called a pile-on, and this game first began in Tampa, seven years ago. ... The prime-time smearing of Sami Al-Arian [Salon - 20/1/02]
Several top investors in Twenty-First Century Fox Inc are pressing for the right to swap their voting shares for ordinary shares, which are trading at an unusual premium, even though the move could hand even more control of the company to Rupert Murdoch, according to people familiar with the matter. ... [Reuters - 6/2/15]
Putin meets Merkel, Hollande behind closed doors in Moscow
French President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel arrived in Moscow on Friday evening. They headed straight to the Kremlin for talks on the Ukrainian crisis with President Vladimir Putin behind closed doors.
After over an hour of talks, the three leaders went out to reporters for a protocol photo shoot before continuing. According to Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, the talks are being held without any delegation members.
On Thursday, Hollande and Merkel held a meeting with President Petro Poroshenko in Kiev. It followed the Ukrainian leader’s talks with US Secretary of State John Kerry who arrived in Kiev to discuss the possibility of providing lethal aid to Ukraine. He said US President Barack Obama will take the decision next week.
On Thursday, however, the White House admitted that possible military assistance from the US to Ukraine could increase bloodshed in the region.
The same idea was echoed on Friday by the British defense secretary.
Media reports earlier suggested that Hollande and Merkel’s visit to Moscow was a snap decision made without consulting Washington.
After Hollande said on Thursday that “together with Angela Merkel we have decided to take a new initiative,” French media hinted that the decision to visit Moscow came as an attempt to present a viewpoint on solving the Ukrainian crisis that differs from the US one.
Le Nouvel Observateur reported that this “historic initiative” on Hollande and Merkel’s part was preceded by “secret” talks between Paris, Berlin and Moscow.
The French weekly also suggested that the EU leaders are meeting Putin “to get ahead of the Americans, who are trying to impose their solution to the problem on Westerners: a transfer of weapons to Ukraine.”
There is clearly a disagreement between Washington and Brussels over arming Ukraine, says Nicolai Petro, Professor of Politics at the University of Rhode Island.
“There seems to be a real discrepancy between the rhetoric on the American side of the Atlantic and the European side this time," he told RT.
"Within the EU clearly there is also a division of opinions. There are more hawkish nations: Poland, the Baltic states that got even further than the US in providing military assistance. And on the other hand, Germany, France, Britain and Denmark have ruled it out so far.”
Before arriving in Moscow, Merkel had expressed uncertainty about the result, while Hollande said he hoped an agreement would be reached.
Russia's Ambassador to the EU: Sending arms to Ukraine is ‘the worst possible idea’ [EurActiv – 6/2/15]
Russian journalists including RT crew come under fire in eastern Ukraine [RT – 6/2/15]
Fierce fighting in the central Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine is creating new displacement, pushing the number of registered internally displaced people (IDPs) in Ukraine close to one million. Ukraine's Ministry of Social Policy now puts the total number of registered IDPs countrywide at 980,000 – a figure that is expected to rise further as more newly-displaced people are still being registered.
In addition, some 600,000 Ukrainians have sought asylum or other forms of legal stay in neighbouring countries, particularly the Russian Federation, but also Belarus, Moldova, Poland, Hungary and Romania, since February 2014. ... [UNHCR Media Release - 6/2/15]
Ukrainian, rebel convoys head for rail town to evacuate civilians [Reuters - 6/2/15]
GCHQ mass internet surveillance was unlawful, court rules
Mass surveillance of the internet by the British monitoring agency GCHQ was unlawful until the end of last year, the UK’s most secretive court has ruled.
The Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT) ruled on Friday that the agency’s access to intercepted information obtained by the US National Security Agency (NSA) breached human rights law.
Human rights groups said the decision raised questions about the legality of intelligence-sharing operations between the UK and the US.
The ruling appears to suggest that the operations were illegal for at least seven years – between 2007, when the Prism intercept programme was introduced, and 2014.
The critical judgment marks the first time, since the judicial oversight body was established in 2000, that it has upheld a complaint against any of the UK’s intelligence agencies.
US Ambassador: Greece Must Cooperate with Europe, IMF
Have you seen the well-to-do
Up and down Park Avenue?
On that famous thoroughfare
With their noses in the air. ...
Fred Astaire - 'Puttin' On The Ritz' 
Greece must cooperate with Europe and the IMF to draw up a plan of reforms consistent with the country's international obligations, the U.S. ambassador to Athens said Friday.
"The United States believes that it is very important for the Greek government to work cooperatively with its European colleagues, as well as with the IMF," US Ambassador David Pearce said after two days of talks with new Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and other Greek officials.
Rolf Harris 'quizzed over sex offences'
The former entertainer Rolf Harris has been interviewed under caution by police investigating sex offences.
Scotland Yard did not name him, but said an 84-year-old was questioned at a police station in Stafford.
He was questioned by detectives from Operation Yewtree, the investigation into sexual abuse allegations that have arisen since Jimmy Savile was accused.
He was interviewed on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Operation Yewtree has three strands. One concerns Savile's crimes, whilst another relates to allegations against Savile and others.
The third strand, under which Mr Harris was questioned, concentrates on accusations unconnected to the Savile investigations but which emerged as a result of the publicity surrounding the late DJ.
Several well-known public figures have been jailed following trials brought under the Yewtree investigations.
Gary Glitter was found guilty of historical sex abuse on Thursday, while PR figure Max Clifford and former BBC radio presenter Chris Denning were both successfully prosecuted.
Ex-BBC Radio One host Dave Lee Travis was given a suspended sentence for indecent assault following a similar investigation.
Mr Harris has appeared on TV screens as a children's entertainer, songwriter and entertainer.
He is also an artist and painted a portrait of the Queen to mark her 80th birthday in 2006.
During his career he was made an OBE, MBE and CBE.
7 February 2015