The art in airport restaurants is getting pretty spacey.
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It is over a month since the biggest ‘shoot-down’ incident in air passenger history, and this is what we know for sure. Whatever happened in the skies above eastern Ukraine on July 17, we’ve been set on a reactionary course charted by either fools or the adjunct henchmen of some unseen game.
Was all this conjecture to risk the outbreak of World War III over hearsay and rumor? A mouthy leadership in the West has revealed the only real truth of this matter: credibility and trust was ‘blown out of the sky’ over Ukraine.The facts of MH17 now
At 1:15pm in the afternoon on July 17, 2014, the air traffic controllers at Kiev lost radar and voice contact with flight MH17. The Boeing 777-200ER, flying from Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, fell in pieces on Ukraine's eastern frontier.
The earliest reports the public received on the catastrophe came from the various mainstream media. Those outlets basically parroted what officials in Kiev and the US State Department released. From the outset, officials in the West started a blame game, and one of massive proportions.
Within a few hours of the event, nearly all media reflected assurances that Russia, and the pro-Russian fighters in eastern Ukraine were guilty. We know now that almost all the initial information on the Malaysian Airlines downing was misleading at best.
Allegations, ‘cooked up’ evidence from social media, and illogical theories took the place of news reporting for days on end. US intelligence sources said sophisticated BUK surface-to-air missile systems were used to down the plane. Supposedly, these launchers were expertly operated by guerrilla fighters who were surrounded by Ukrainian security forces in contested territory. Meanwhile, the same trillion-dollar security and defense industry that the NSA spies on the world for claimed MH17 was shot down by “Vladimir Putin’s Missile.”
We were expected to believe Russia’s president ordered his military to drive a BUK system across Russia’s border, to deliver it to separatist forces there in order to shoot down a friendly aircraft, and then to drive the launcher back into Mother Russia. Moreover, this was all to be accomplished secretly, and in broad daylight through the most hotly-contested real estate in Europe. Western leadership and once-trusted media asked the world to be complete idiots, hapless peons ready for a Ukrainian ‘shock and awe’ campaign.
But today we have a dozen plausible theories of what happened. The most legitimate at the moment, an air-to-air engagement by Ukrainian SU 25 attack aircraft, has been largely ignored even though key experts abide by the theory. The Kiev/US/NATO/GCHQ/EU/White House narrative has quieted down somewhat now, since Russia’s Defense Ministry sent the message that it had all the evidence. But we’re left with crippling counter-sanctions here in Europe. Sanctions levied on Russia based on a heap of lies, for all we know.The dissimulators of MH17
Where I come from there’s a saying: ‘the squeaky wheel gets the grease’. It’s a good saying because it’s true. Well, the ‘squeaky wheel’ in this tragedy reveals more malicious intent than we’ve seen since the two great world wars.
Almost instantaneously the most powerful and vociferous US politicians leaped into action. Major media from CNN and Fox to Reuters and the BBC followed suit, as if scripted. US Secretary of State, John Kerry, for one, now appears as a ‘hothead’ or irresponsible over early claims of ‘knowing’ in a dire international incident. It’s interesting to note that Kerry has now faded into the background, left professing other truths about Gaza, Iraq and a resurgent need to strike in Syria.
Moments after MH17 went down, Kerry’s State Department announced America’s ‘horror’ over the loss. Then, just over four hours after the fact, Vice-President Joe Biden proclaimed MH17 had been “blown out of the sky” over “pro-Russia-controlled” east Ukraine. Reuters tweeted Biden’s headline not five hours extant, provoking the question: How did Joe Biden know so soon?
#BREAKING: U.S. Vice President Biden says Malaysia Airlines jet was shot down, "not an accident, blown out of the sky"
— Reuters Top News (@Reuters) July 17, 2014
Then presidential hopeful and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton entered the fray, hot on the trail of truth, no doubt. Clinton appeared on the Charlie Rose Show the evening of the 17th to discuss MH17, pointing at Russia and observing stock prices. Any reasonable person might ask ‘How was it even possible to discuss the event so soon?’ and ‘Why was Clinton so focused on the stock ticker?’ The pieces of the Malaysian airliner, the bodies of the victims, had not even stopped smoldering. Clinton pounded out the obvious concept that “the equipment used had to have come from Russia.” She further illustrates the total disdain of public understanding, any American child having been indoctrinated to know, Ukraine was once part of the USSR back in school. Where else would their weaponry come from?
Then we saw America’s favorite State Department punching bag, Jen Psaki, come on two days later to assure us further that the administration was appalled by the insurgents who speak Russian “limiting access” to the crash site. All this after OSCE monitors had begun investigating right after the disaster. And all this misinformation at a moment when the Kiev junta had simultaneously launched a massive offensive right on top of the investigation zone? The media mirrored this, without even so much as an annotation that the separatists were being surrounded and bombarded relentlessly from the west.
“We are deeply concerned by the Russia-backed separatists’ refusal to allow OSCE monitors safe and unfettered access to the crash site of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17. Yesterday, the monitors were allowed only 75 minutes at the site. Today, they were allowed less than three hours. Thus far, the separatists have only allowed monitors to have limited access to a small area.”
To add insult to injury, John Kerry spoke with CBS Face the Nation, and other major TV media the Sunday after MH17 crashed. Again Russia was culpable. Headlines from Kerry’s MH17 campaign had the Secretary of State of the United States of America claiming “Enormous amounts of evidence” to show.
But we’ve never seen any of it.A zero-trust world
The New York Times, CNN and the mighty BBC were not the only media pounding out a message on their war drums in late July. Even a former tech-blog-turned-world-events tabloid spiked the punch for the Millennial Generation with ‘Rebels Load MH17 Victims' Bodies Onto Train Cars, Destination Unknown’. Destination unknown? Really? As if Putin himself wanted to bury the bodies in Irkutsk.
It is significant to note here, one of the editors of the Kyiv Post contributes information and editorial to Mashable, the world’s most-read social media outlet. But perhaps that’s just another coincidence in this most recent high tide of ‘coincidental’ truth. What’s more important for the public now are the results we are feeling because of MH17’s downing, and the subsequent blame game. To wit, the greater catastrophe we have been led into.
Just a few days after those poor passengers on flight MH17 perished, Washington sounded a bugle charge to the European Union to impose severe economic sanctions on Russia over that country’s involvement. Even though ‘involvement’ had yet to be proven. Soon afterward, Brussels complied with America’s bidding. Russia and Putin, at long last, responded in kind.
Putin countered by banning agricultural products from Europe. Now farmers and other businesses across the EU face almost certain ruin, the protests and cries for help, having already begun. What’s even more potentially disastrous (especially for the US) is the probability the EU will come to its senses and retract the sanctions. When this happens, the Germany-US bond may well be broken, the likely replacement being Russia.
Insinuations of aggression by Russian, this has been the dogma of the Western leadership since before the Sochi Olympics. Vladimir Putin, considering the vehemence with which every Russian construct has been attacked this last year, has been unbelievably calm. The West attacks Sochi and the Olympics - Putin puts on fantastic games. The McCains and Kerrys of America incite riots in Maidan Square - Putin watches and informs. The Russian language is brought down in Ukraine - Russian speakers beg for help. Then Russia takes back Crimea in a bloodless annexation – Washington and NATO use it, just like MH17, for another propaganda extravaganza.
Most notably though, even despite a chorus of sabers clinking from Washington, London, and Warsaw, Putin only countered with counter strategy, not tanks and massive military force, and that is ‘defense’, not ‘offense’, my friends. Now it’s safe to ask: Who is the real aggressor here?
Today the headlines for MH17 read ‘Briton killed when flight MH17 shot down over Ukraine identified’ or ‘Remains of Irish MH17 victim formally identified’, along with stories about Malaysian Airlines restructuring.
Barack Obama, David Cameron, Australia’s Tony Abbott and the rest of those so sure of the causes that they’ve gone completely silent now. Their theories and professions have literally disappeared, leaving us all either to accept their judgmental evangelisms at the start, or to forget about the perpetrators of the 21st century’s most dangerous political catastrophe so far?
How is this even possible? We have nationalized all the poor victims, boxed and shipped off all the bodies, while the souls of those killed linger aloft somewhere, killed by unknown assailants. If transparency does not happen very soon, our belief in justice and truth will be the ultimate victim.Can we live down a travesty?
Somewhere in Spain today, a farmer sits pondering the eternal, the dilemma each of us has wrestled with at one time or another, ‘What am I going to do?’ More appropriately though, what is the EU to do? We’ve no need to regurgitate economic catastrophes from Portugal, Greece, Italy, Ireland, or to tell you about Romanian austerity horror stories here.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and other EU leadership are reeling at this moment to steady a staggered confederation of nations. Spanish farmers burning EU flags over harvested peach crops, the imagery of that pretty much says it all. Sanctions levied on to a massive consumer nation like Russia, for no concrete reason, shows either a vast incompetency in the West, or an absolutely resolute posture toward conflict and chaos.
If Brussels does not come to its senses soon, hundreds of thousands more will lose their jobs in the next year. ING Group just reported the potential cost from these sanctions might exceed 6.7 billion euro and cost 130,000 jobs, conservatively.
We are witnessing one of the biggest travesties of foreign policy ever perpetrated on Earth. While some may argue I am being sensationalistic here, consider Hillary Clinton on TV minutes after a mass murder blaming Russia for the crime. More than this, think of why she was consulting the stock ticker during her frenzied look to understand the tragedy, before anyone could have known what took MH17 out!
Logic demands we ask: ‘Or did they know?’ I mean, did the American administration ‘really know’ who killed all those people? Days later we saw inside Russia’s equivalent of ‘the war room’, evidence to the contrary presented by a professional soldier. But somehow the report you see below in the video was not presented as a counterpoint, but as a propaganda piece by BBC, Reuters, and the others in the West.
Now we experience a humanitarian convoy, held up by Kiev with vital food and medicine for Russian speakers in eastern Ukraine, widely reported as ‘an invasion’ by Putin. We’re asked to believe again, in trumped-up allegations that the same Russia that rolled over the Blitzkrieg in World War II, the same Russia that made us ‘duck and cover’ in the 1960s, the same Russia that struck fear into all Europe during the Cold War, that its armed forces need to sneak into Ukraine in first aid trucks.
Excuse me, but this is something a lunatic would utter. Just like some lunatics cried ‘Russian wolf’ when the streets of Sochi were running over with wolves and gay haters, the second most-powerful military in the history of Earth has to ‘sneak past’ a broken Ukraine junta’s forces? Like me, the reader should be laughing and crying at the prospect.
For me, judging Putin in all this brings me to one inextricable conclusion. I wonder what the world expects from a great leader. I wonder what my fellow Americans envision a Russian politician needs to do to represent his or her people. Is Ukraine not at least as ‘Russian’ as it is anything else? And if parts of Ukraine are indeed Russian, what kind of man would leave his people to starve? To be slaughtered? What kind of Russia would stand by and watch NATO stick ballistic missiles 250 miles from Moscow?
Since we’ve more questions than answers since MH17 went down in a fireball, maybe the ultimate inquiry is introspective. What kind of America tells supports lies and kills or destroys the lives of millions of people?
The gravity of that question should compel us to demand the answers. Not tomorrow, but today. My fellow Americans would not cheat the world.
Phillip Butler for RT
Phil Butler is a prolific technology, the travel industry, and news journalist and editor. He's also a partner at one of Europe’s leading PR and digital marketing firms,Pamil Visions PR. Phil contributes to the Huffington Post, The Epoch Times in print and online, and is a regular public relations analyst for Russia Today, as well as other international media.
Aid is being allocated to help a million refugees in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey and Iraq. £299 million has been given to charitable organizations providing humanitarian assistance inside Syria, while £292 million has been provided to Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq and Egypt to cope with the growing number of refugees.
A further £1.8 million has been allocated for regional technical assistance, while £9 million is currently being finalised.
As many as 9.3 million people are in need of aid within Syria, where 6.5 million people are internally displaced. Up to 2.5 million people have fled the country, seeking refuge in neighbouring countries. Over 100,000 civilians have been killed, while over 4 million people are in desperate need of basic food supplies.
“Communities in neighbouring countries have been extraordinarily generous in hosting vulnerable Syrian refugees,” said a spokesperson for the UK Department for International Development.
“The UK recognizes that this is putting an enormous strain on their resources and we are supporting refugee hosting communities through the humanitarian assistance program.”
The UK government has provided food, water purification and sanitation services in camps and in communities hosting Syrian refugees. Other priorities include resources and training for agricultural production, health services and a range of psychosocial interventions. Officials say there is a danger of a “lost generation” of Syrian children experiencing trauma and missing out on education.
The crisis has also placed many women and girls at risk of violence, exploitation and insecurity, while pregnant women are particularly at risk. There is also a large population of Palestinian refugees living in Syria and the region, who are particularly vulnerable to conflict.
British MPs have warned the UK cannot continue to contribute a disproportionate amount of humanitarian aid to Syria without other poor countries losing out on assistance. The UN urges governments to allocate 0.7 percent of their GDP to global humanitarian aid.
The International Development Committee said in July that countries such as France, Spain and Italy had “manifestly failed to pull their weight” in contributing to alleviating the crisis brought on by the civil war in Syria.
“The UK should do everything in its power to encourage other countries to increase their contributions,” the committee's latest report said.
Syria was a middle income country of 20 million people before the war. It was ranked 116th in the UN’s Human Development Index out of 186 nations.
Meanwhile, in light of the aid effort and ongoing support for rebels fighting Syrian government forces, some politicians are openly calling for a change in policy toward more support for President Bashar Assad, seeing him as a potential ally to defeat Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL), which has conquered large areas of Syria and northern Iraq.
Sir Malcolm Rifkind, chairman of Britain’s intelligence and security committee, said recently that the US and the UK should work with Damascus if they are to defeat jihadist militants in the region.
Although he made it clear he does not support the Assad regime in principle, Rifkind reluctantly emphasized in a Financial Times interview that “sometimes you have to develop relationships with people who are extremely nasty in order to get rid of people who are even nastier.”
However, in a recent interview, Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond summarily rejected calls to work with Assad in the fight against IS.
"We may very well find that we are fighting, on some occasions, the same people that [Assad] is, but that doesn't make us his ally," Hammond said. "It would not be practical, sensible or helpful to even think about going down that route.”
"We will follow the schedule. We will analyze the situation, and if we see that they are not making it on time even though they have done everything possible – then we will consider this possibility (of extending the deadline),” Moiseev told a news conference on Wednesday.
Under the current law there is a legal possibility to extend the deadline to January 1, said the deputy minister, but that is undesirable, as the Ministry of Finance should "ensure the continuity of the transaction as soon as possible.”
The payment systems lack some functionality with online trading, but “its share is around 1.5 percent of all transactions,” Moiseev added.
In March, Visa and MasterCard suspended service to a number of Russian banks which fell under US sanctions.
Responding to the move President Vladimir Putin signed a law in May to establish a national payment system.
The law requires foreign payment systems to be charged 25 percent of an average profit on transfers during one calendar day in Russia, to be paid each quarter to the Central Bank.
Soon after the new law was signed, Visa and MasterCard were told to pay deposits amounting to about $3 billion in “security fees”, which could be used to pay fines for the suspension of serving banks.
However the foreign payment systems can do away the compulsory deposits if they establish card processing centers in Russia before the deadline.
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1,400 children sexually abused in Rotherham while authorities turned a blind eye over ‘racism’ fears
Children as young as 11 in the Yorkshire town of Rotherham were raped by multiple perpetrators, abducted, trafficked to other cities in England, beaten and intimidated, by groups of mainly Asian men from 1997 to 2013, a troubling new report claims.
The inquiry team found examples of "children who had been doused in petrol and threatened with being set alight, threatened with guns, made to witness brutally violent rapes and threatened they would be next if they told anyone."
Revealing details of the inquiry's findings, Professor Alexis Jay, who wrote the latest report, said: "It is hard to describe the appalling nature of the abuse that child victims suffered."
The report pinned the blame on the leadership of South Yorkshire Police and Rotherham council.
Despite calls for him to quit over the sex abuse scandal, South Yorkshire's Police and Crime Commissioner Shaun Wright has vowed to stay in his job.
Wright was a Labour cabinet member for children and young people's services at Rotherham Council from 2005 to 2010, when he received three reports about widespread abuse but failed to act. The Labour Party has now called for his resignation.
Prof Jay said: “Within social care, the scale and seriousness of the problem was underplayed by senior managers. At an operational level, the police gave no priority to child sex exploitation, regarding many child victims with contempt and failing to act on their abuse as a crime.”
Police officers even dismissed the rape of children by saying that sex had been consensual.‘Racism’ fears
Tuesday’s report concluded that by far the majority of perpetrators were Asian men.
According to the inquiry council officials were afraid to identify the ethnic origins of perpetrators for fear of being labelled "racist" if they revealed the ethnicity of most of the abusers.
Downing Street on Tuesday night described the failure to halt the abuse in Rotherham as “appalling.”
A Number 10 spokesman said: “We are determined that the lessons of past failures must be learned and that those who have exploited these children are brought to justice.”
Following the publication of the report, Rotherham Council leader Roger Stone resigned. Stone, who has been the leader since 2003, said: "I believe it is only right that as leader I take responsibility for the historic failings described so clearly."
No other council employees will face disciplinary proceedings after it was claimed that there was not enough evidence to take action.
The focus on Rotherham followed the jailing of five Asian men in 2010 after they were found guilty of grooming teenage girls for sex. The five men groomed teenage girls and had sex with them in cars and parks in Rotherham.
Schools also started raising alerts over the years about children as young as 11 being picked up by taxis, given presents and mobile phones and taken to Rotherham and other towns.‘Authorities failed to protect children’
Prof Jay said there had been "blatant" collective failures by the council's leadership, senior managers had "underplayed" the scale of the problem and South Yorkshire Police had failed to prioritize the issue.
She added: "The authorities involved have a great deal to answer for."
The inquiry team found that in the early 2000s, when a group of professionals tried to monitor a number of children believed to be at risk, "managers gave little help or support to their efforts" and that some people at a senior level in the police and children's social care thought the extent of the problem was being "exaggerated."
For years, the police failed to address the problem, dismissing many of the victims as “out of control” or as “undesirables” who were not worthy of police protection, according to the report.
It emerged that there had been three previous reports looking into the problem which had been suppressed or ignored by officials, either because they did not like or did not believe the findings.
Prof Jay said, "No one knows the true scale of child sexual exploitation in Rotherham over the years. Our conservative estimate is that approximately 1,400 children were sexually exploited over the full inquiry period, from 1997 to 2013."
A victim of abuse in Rotherham, who has been called "Isabel" to protect her identity, told BBC Panorama: "I was a child and they should have stepped in. No matter what's done now... it's not going to change that it was too late, it should have been stopped and prevented."
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