Europe

France on brink of recession in two-speed eurozone

France on brink of recession in two-speed eurozone

France is on the cusp of recession after the eurozone nation’s key manufacturing and services industries shrank sharply in December. Markit’s preliminary – or “flash” – purchasing managers’ index estimate for the country fell to a seven-month low of 47 in December – a figure below 50 signals contraction and one above expansion. Services activity decreased for the second month… Read more →

Ukrainian riot police withdraw after overnight move on demonstrators

(Reuters) – Battalions of Ukrainian riot police withdrew on Wednesday from a protest camp after moving against demonstrators overnight in the authorities’ biggest attempt yet to reclaim streets after weeks of protests against President Viktor Yanukovich.

Columns of police abandoned positions around a protest camp and state buildings occupied by demonstrators enraged at Yanukovich’s decision to spurn an EU trade deal and move Ukraine further into Russia’s orbit.

Overnight the police had cleared streets near the protest camp, bulldozed tents and skirmished with demonstrators. They later surrounded the City Hall, where protesters who have set up a makeshift hospital in the occupied building sprayed them with water hoses to prevent it from being stormed.

Those moves by hundreds of black-clad police with visors and helmets were the boldest steps the authorities have ordered so far against demonstrators, although the sudden withdrawal suggested they were not prepared orders to use full force.

At stake is the future of a country of 46 million people, torn between popular hope of joining the European mainstream and the demands of former Soviet master Russia, which controls the flow of cheap natural gas needed to stave off bankruptcy.

At the main protest camp on Independence Square, pop stars, politicians and priests pleaded with police not to shed blood. Opposition politicians called for mass demonstrations to protect the square and predicted that Yanukovich would soon be toppled.

The interior minister called for calm and promised that the square would not be stormed. But even after the police left the streets, Vitaly Klitschko, a world boxing champion who has emerged as one of the main figures of the opposition, said the overnight action had “closed off the path to compromise”.

“We had planned to have talks with Yanukovich. We understand that Yanukovich has not wish to talk to the people and only understands physical force,” he told a news conference.

The police moves energized the protests, drawing thousands of people back out into the streets to defend the camp, many wearing plastic hardhats in orange, the color that symbolized a successful popular revolt against a fraudulent election in 2004.

Police had been bussed in to the city center under darkness to shouts of “Get out criminal” – a reference to Yanukovich, who suspended plans to sign a trade pact with the European Union last month and instead embraced closer ties with Russia.

Riot police flooded roads to Independence Square, where thousands of people have maintained a vigil in bitter winter cold. Helmetted officers moved slowly into the camp, bulldozing tents and barricades with tractors mounted with shovels. Dozens of demonstrators and police were hurt in scuffles but several officers said they had orders not to use force.

*****WARNING VIDEO SHOWS*****
*****VIOLENT/GRAPHIC ACTIONS BY POLICE*****

The action stalled after day broke, with temperatures in the snowbound capital stuck at minus 8 degrees Celsius (17 Fahrenheit). Some riot police left to cheers from lines of protesters holding them back. At City Hall, demonstrators lobbed a Molotov cocktail from a window into a police truck before the officers finally withdrew.

On the square, protesters said they had feared they would be stormed. Priests intoned prayers from a stage on the square and urged police not to use violence. Ruslana, a Ukrainian pop star, called from a loud hailer: “Do not hurt us!”

Some protesters held mobile phones in the air like candles and sang the national anthem, while church bells rang out from a cathedral about 2 km (about 1 mile) away, as in times of danger centuries ago.

“He is spitting in the faces of the United States, 28 countries of Europe, 46 million Ukrainians,” another opposition leader, Arseny Yatsenyuk, said of Yanukovich overnight. “We will not forgive him this. Tomorrow there will be a million people here and his regime will fall.”

The eventual police withdrawal was greeted with euphoria.

“We are seeing that truth does exist, that it is worth fighting for. It is a small victory, but these small victories will lead to big victories,” said protester Serhiy Chorny.

 

Reuters has the full article

Russia has defeated the European Union in the latest round of the fight for Ukraine

Russia has defeated the European Union in the latest round of the fight for Ukraine

The fight for Ukraine has now become a contest between the Russian president and the German chancellor. Putin won the first round. But Merkel and her fellow Europeans are grooming professional heavyweight boxer Vitali Klitschko to be their new strongman. By Thursday of the week before last, it was abundantly clear that any friendship between German Chancellor Angela Merkel and… Read more →

NSA and GCHQ spies 'operated in games including World of Warcraft and Second Life'

NSA and GCHQ spies ‘operated in games including World of Warcraft and Second Life’

The NSA and GCHQ sent spies into online games to seek out terrorist or criminal chat and even to recruit valuable informants such as foreign embassy drivers who happened to be players, according to newly leaked documents from whistleblower Edward Snowden. Intelligence operatives feared that games such as Second Life and World of Warcraft could be used to secretly communicate,… Read more →

Sweden spied on Russian leaders for US – NSA leaks

Swedish signals intelligence agency FRA spied on Russian leaders and shared the data collected with the US, local media report citing Edward Snowden leaks. Sweden’s ‘cable access’ made its position ‘unique’ in the eyes of the NSA. READ MORE:http://on.rt.com/6tf2fd

UK police threaten Guardian editor with terrorism charges over Snowden leaks

The editor of The Guardian Alan Rusbridger.(Reuters / Luke MacGregor)

British police have launched an investigation into whether the Guardian committed “potential” terrorism offenses by publishing the incriminating NSA and GCHQ documents leaked earlier this year by Edward Snowden.

Alan Rusbridger, editor of the British paper, was testifying in front of a British parliamentary committeeTuesday when lawmakers suggested that the Guardian had helped terrorists by revealing the clandestine activity conducted by the American and British intelligence agencies.

Scotland Yard assistant commissioner Cressida Dick told the MPs Tuesday that is appears “possible that some people may have committed offenses” in connection with the material seized from David Miranda’s laptop earlier this year. Miranda, journalist Glenn Greenwald’s partner, was detained for hours at London’s Heathrow Airport and authorities confiscated his computer, cell phone, and other devices, some of which allegedly held material related to Snowden’s disclosures.

UK officials claim that Snowden’s trove of data included information about British spies and that the information’s publication puts lives in direct danger. Rusbridger said his paper would not publish any such information and that Guardian editors have not even looked at some of the information Snowden provided regarding the Iraq war.

Lawmakers also threatened Rusbridger by implying Guardian staff had violated Section 58A of the Terrorism Act, which stipulates that it is against the law to publish or even transmit any information regarding members of the armed forces or intelligence employees.

It isn’t only about what you’ve published, it’s about what you’ve communicated,” committee member Michael Ellis said. “That is what amounts, or can amount, to a criminal offense.”

 

RT has the full article

Christian B&B owners lose Supreme Court battle over gay discrimination

Christian B&B owners lose Supreme Court battle over gay discrimination

Christian guest house owners who were ordered to pay damages after turning away a gay couple have lost a fight in the UK’s highest court. Peter Bull, 74, and his wife Hazelmary, 69, had asked the Supreme Court to decide whether their decision to refuse to let Martyn Hall and his civil partner Steven Preddy stay in a double room… Read more →

Aborted EU Deal: Massive Protests Rock Ukraine After Pull-Back

Aborted EU Deal: Massive Protests Rock Ukraine After Pull-Back

In the wake of Ukraine’s withdrawal from EU trade deal discussions, Kiev was rocked by the biggest protests since the Orange Revolution while the daughter of imprisoned former Ukrainian leader Yulia Tymoshenko pled for Germany’s help. On Sunday, tens of thousands of people took to the streets of Kiev to protest the Ukrainian government’s decision to call off plans for a trade… Read more →

Are Americans taking personal liberties for granted?

Conservative Member of European Parliament Daniel Hannan sounds off.

Iran blames Western powers for nuclear talks failure

Iran blames Western powers for nuclear talks failure

Iran’s foreign minister has blamed divisions between Western powers for the failure to agree a deal on its nuclear programme on Saturday. Mohammad Javad Zarif rejected US Secretary of State John Kerry’s claim that Iran had been unable to accept the deal “at that particular moment”. He said “no amount of spinning” could change what had happened in Geneva, but… Read more →