Granny is gone…

It is with great sadness that I share the sad news of the passing of my great-grandmother Odette.  She died surrounded by her family and smiling at us. She was going to be together again with the love of her life — our great grandfather.

She’s no longer with us in this planet, though her legacy will live on for ages, both in the mission of an activist for social justice, against war and the Imperial Grand Strategy for world leadership and hegemony. 

During the German military occupation of France, my great-grandmother crossed the border with Spain many times looking for food for her children. She was never afraid, and she was hard to catch by the fascists.  A tough young Russian, six feet tall and beautiful.

My granny will live in the hearts and souls of her family, Basques and Russians, the men and women of La Résistance française, and all the people who had the pleasure of meeting and working with her for a better world through the years. And as she always reminded her followers, “never forget that it was Russia who won the war.”

You’ll be deeply missed Granny…

USA raises the question about artistic freedom of expression in UN

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“The United States would like to discuss the rights of freedom of opinion and expression, ‎particularly focusing on artistic expression and creativity,” said the American Ambassador Keith Harper in a statement at the 28th Session of the UN Human Rights Council. He continued:

“Artistic expression and creativity as a form of freedom of expression is fundamental to the development of vibrant cultures and the functioning of democratic societies. Artistic expression has given us some of the great social commentary on humanity and the human condition.”

We are a richer human race for having the genius of Shakespeare, Shostakovich, Rumi, Octavio Paz, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Frida Kahlo, Chinua Achebe, and Nadine Gordimer – just to name a few. Today, contemporary artists like Ai Weiwei and Salif Keita are inspiring and challenging us.

The right to freedom of expression, including artistic and creative expression, is enshrined under article 19 of the ICCPR. States Parties to the ICESCR recognize the right, under Article 15, to benefit from the protection of interests resulting from one’s artistic production. Artistic expression is critical to the human spirit.

At HRC-23, we welcomed the report by the Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights, which addressed the right to freedom of expression and creativity.

Artistic expressions and creations have come under particular attack because they convey specific messages and articulate symbolic values in a powerful way. A satirist provoking laughter and derision is as powerful as a writer urging change.

It is little wonder that dictators seek to silence art.

Freedom of opinion and expression is enshrined in the UDHR and the ICCPR, and the United States defends this right vigorously wherever it is threatened. Likewise, the United States takes seriously any threats to the right to freedom of expression, including artistic and creative expression, and we look forward to engaging on this issue further.”

The statement of American ambassador Keith Harper about artistic expression and creativity as a form of freedom of expression, seems to be directed to the nation his country considers an “enemy”: Russia, as well as all the promotion to bring a punk duo  of anti-Putin lousy performers to the spotlight.

Pussy Rioters would be arrested in any civilized place if they do what they habitually do in Putin’s face.

Wikipedia entry for Pussy Riot reads:
“They stage unauthorized provocative guerrilla performances in unusual public locations, which are edited into music videos and posted on the Internet. Their lyrical themes include feminism, LGBT rights, opposition to the policies of Russian President Vladimir Putin, whom they regard as a dictator, and links between Putin and the leadership of the Russian Orthodox Church.

Unauthorized, provocative guerrilla performances in unusual public locations, huh? That surely is a democratic way to express opposition to “dictator” Putin. I suppose that if Pussy Riot did unauthorized guerrilla performances in unusual public places like an airport, they would meet worse fate States side.

A bunch of mal-eleve’s that managed to get the New YorkTimes to give them a forum for venting their angst for President Vladimir Putin.

The Pussy Riot may be a legitimate protest. Still the amount of publicity it receives in the press is exaggerated [now we understand why]. Is it just gloating about Russia’s and Putin’s problems? One wonders….

Now it is Putin’s fault that the games are safe from the terrorists who made it known to everyone that it is their plan to disrupt the Olympic games by killing the athletes and visitors? Initially there were multiple complains that the games are not secured enough. Now, they are too secured??? I guess for some people who only want to see Russia in the negative light, there is no way to please them. Also, remember what the president of the IOC said during the opening ceremony. Don’t play politics on the backs of the athletes who came here to compete. It is their time to be in the spotlight.

A few voices here aired skepticism regarding the authenticity of the violence apparently directed against these women by a video. But the video attributed to the AP and posted on YouTube doesn’t look staged to this skeptic.

Again,  the Times didn’t do some fact-checking on this incident and reported back to us so we can know whether President Putin is indeed sending out thugs to beat up angry women with an attitude?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3uEmwtJWldQ

 

If there is a ban, live with it. There are bans on what people can do in and around the White House or the Capitol building. If you want to make a political speech about LGBT issues, do it where such expressions are welcome and tolerated.

If you need to protest, if your argument is valid and strong, you would not need to piggy back on the Olympics or any other venue. And please, if you want to be taken seriously, do not produce an obvious video lie. Horsewhips? Really? How gullible does the media think we are?

It is amusing that Pussy Riot received so much attention in the past. At present time who remembers them?  Their magazine is totally ignored.

Every society has its malcontents. But they can’t be allowed to disrupt the rights of millions to enjoy the games. Olympics are all about sports. It is fair to athletes who prepare hard to perform their best and enjoy a moment of glory and satisfaction that hard work has paid off. Pussy Riot has no right to disturb the games, nullify all the hard work and rob them of chance to show their skills and athleticism.

The games are for two weeks in 4 years. There will be 206 weeks for politics.

If you have only singled out Sochi, then you protest in vain. Did you watch the Beijing Olympics? The government cleared the city of homeless migrant workers, who worked for their daily rice bowl slaving 24/7. Did you watch the Salt Lake City Games? The local chairman at the time primed his pockets to lead a future presidential campaign, with “binders full of women.”

No Olympics in the last decades, given the cost to bid and then build the arenas, is a fair business deal. Much of it is based on baksheesh and creates graft, like in most nations of the world. And yet, I can’t help but support the athletes. So I watch.

You have a right to an opinion, to criticized and explain your agenda. But you  staged the Cossack Whipping Scene as part of the music video you were making, which came out immediately with whip-clips intercut. It was very, very unconvincing, and all you really demonstrated was the enormous gullibility of the Western media.

Interesting. I just watched it, and the Cossacks paid no attention to the cameras, which seems odd.

Enough with the rambling rants of wannabe revolutionaries and Baby Boomers hungry to show their counterculture credentials, lousy performers who can’t sing  disrespecting an Orthodox Church, and others intent on despoiling the games with in your face servings of their political views on an unwilling Russian public. The Olympic Games are the opportunity for the world’s athletes to strut their stuff in an atmosphere of sportsmanship; it should not be used as a political platform. So you don’t like President Vladimir Putin but he is trying to showcase Russia like any head of state hosting the games. Not many people outside of Germany liked Hitler but athletes showed up at Munich in 1936 and debunked the myth of Teutonic racial superiority by successfully competing at the games. This is how you bring foster pride for your country.

The pair flew into Berlin Monday after visiting New York to promote their “new prison rights foundation”, where they played a gig with Madonna(!). Appearing at a short press conference in Berlin, they said they have received “several offers” for “film projects” that were never confirmed.  The duo couldn’t contain their happiness for the supposedly offers of a Hollywood movie that never materialized.  Tolonnikova  stated that the movie would be something like “Star Wars.”  Brainy huh?

They also announced they had no plans to run for president themselves(!), but said they might seek elected office in Moscow, where they live. The two said they would consider working with Mikhail Khodorkovsky, once Russia’s wealthiest man, released a few days before they were after serving most of his 10-year sentence for theft and fraud. From lousy performers with Hollywood dreams to politicians…

The duo said their collective Pussy Riot is not a band, that they don’t know how to sing, but they can scream which is what is needed to deliver their message to Putin and his supporters. In a red carpet?

These bogus activists need to be taken to the Guantanamo prison and introduced to the many prisoners who are kept in solitude, without a trial date, and forced to wear masks so they can’t see what’s around them.

These pseudo intellectuals took part in an event to read a list of academic quotes to make believe they can save the world from President Putin. They have deceived many people into thinking Pussy Riot is “changing the people,” and want to run for office in Moscow.

Any person, who, at being 8 months pregnant, performs a multiple partner full intercourse orgy in public needs to see a psychiatrist immediately before she rejoins society. Needless to say your “artistic expression”, the Vaginal Liberation of Food.  The only thing Pussy Riot is exposing is themselves advertising a delusional agenda that “sideshow” Western musicians and actors to glom onto the spotlight

Prof Mark Levine at UC Irvine, hit the nail on the head in his essay about Pussy Riot.  “There are hundreds of artists who perform under threat to their freedom and lives, who also deserve our solidarity.” Levine correctly points out “Western artists can and should support their Russian comrades. But the support received by Pussy Riot is sadly an aberration.”


 

» Mission of the United States in Geneva, Switzerland – 13 March 2015:
Freedom of Expression, Including Artistic Expression, is a Right Enshrined in ICCPR
Statement by the Delegation of the United States of America at the 28th Session of the UN Human Rights Council as delivered by Ambassador Keith Harper.

 

Judge Limits Evidence on Role of Main Perpetrator of Boston Marathon Bombings

 

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The federal trial of accused Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Dzhokhar-Tsarnaev-yearbookTsarnaev got under way Wednesday amid extraordinary security surrounding the Boston courtroom, which was packed with reporters and victims of the April 15, 2013 bombings.

Boston police closed off streets that, even during major trials, are normally kept open. Barricades kept the public at a distance, while K-9 units guarded the building, a helicopter hovered overhead, and police boats stood by in Boston Harbor.

Even before the jurors were seated, Judge George A. O’Toole Jr. issued a ruling limiting the ability of lawyers for the 21-year-old defendant to discuss the role of his older brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, in the planning and execution of the terrorist attack that killed three people and wounded another 264. The judge granted a prosecution motion to largely exclude evidence concerning the relationship between Tamerlan and Dzhokhar until the sentencing phase of the trial.

The ruling indicates the government’s intention to tightly control the information emerging from the proceedings so as to marginalize or exclude questions relating to extensive contacts over a period of years between the FBI and Tamerlan, who is believed to have organized the attack. The older Tsarnaev brother was killed in a shootout with police on April 19, 2013, four days after two pressure cooker bombs packed with nails and shrapnel were detonated near the downtown Boston finish line of the marathon.

In their opening statements to the jury, neither the prosecution nor defense lawyer referred to the still unexplained failure of federal agencies such as the FBI, CIA and Homeland Security Department to prevent the bombings, even though the FBI and CIA had been warned multiple times by the Russian security service of Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s Islamist terrorist sympathies, the FBI had questioned the older brother and his parents, and Tamerlan had been placed on US terror watch lists.

Last year, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s defense team filed papers with the court alleging that the FBI had attempted to recruit Tamerlan Tsarnaev as an informant. The defense has requested all information relating to the FBI’s investigation of the older brother, but the government has objected to the release of such documents.

The defendant is charged with more than 30 counts relating to the bombings, many of which carry the death penalty. The charges include the killing of a Massachusetts Institute of Technology policeman on the evening of April 18, three days after the bombings.

In 2013, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev pleaded not guilty to all charges.

In her opening statement, however, lead defense counsel Judy Clarke acknowledged that her client was involved in the terror attack. “It was him,” she told the jury. She called the bombings a “series of senseless, horribly misguided acts carried out by the two brothers,” and said Dzhokhar should be held accountable for his crime.

But she argued that her client had been lured and bullied into participating in the attack by his older brother, who was the author and chief protagonist of the crime. Clarke, who has represented defendants in a number of high-profile capital cases, is clearly seeking to convince the jury to spare her client’s life and instead sentence him to life imprisonment, the only alternative sentence if he is found guilty.

Prosecutor William Weinreb focused on the horror of the bombings and the terrible physical and emotional toll they took on innocent bystanders, including an eight-year-old child who was one of the three fatalities. He insisted that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was an independent actor, motivated by an Islamist extremist ideology and outrage over the US government’s treatment of Muslims around the world. His statement made clear that the government intends to seek the death penalty.

The Boston bombings became the occasion for the police-military lockdown of Boston and its environs, an area with over one million residents, on April 19, 2013, following the killing of Tamerlan Tsarnaev and escape of Dzhokhar. Boston and its surrounding communities were flooded with thousands of heavily armed police and National Guard troops. They occupied the streets, supported by machine-gun-mounted armored vehicles, Humvees and Black Hawk helicopters.

Residents were ordered to “shelter in place” while police, with automatic weapons drawn, carried out warrantless house-to-house searches. The mass transit system was shut down, passenger train service was halted, and businesses, schools, universities and other public facilities were closed.

It was an unprecedented police-state operation. As the World Socialist Web Site noted at the time, the scene resembled the American occupation of Baghdad. This massive mobilization of police power was deployed, supposedly, to track down one 19-year-old suspect.

Just as there was virtually no expression of opposition to this dry run for dictatorship by any section of the media or political establishment at the time, the lockdown of Boston has been omitted from current commentary on the opening of the trial. This makes all the more important the posing of some of the unanswered questions regarding the events of April 2013, which are likely to be excluded from the court proceedings as well as the media coverage of the trial.

These include:

· Why did the FBI and CIA fail to respond to warnings from Russia’s security agency FSB in 2011 and 2012 concerning Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s support for Islamist separatist and terrorist organizations in Russia’s North Caucasian regions of Chechnya and Dagestan? Why did they ignore Russia’s request that Tsarnaev be prevented from traveling to these regions?

· Why did the FBI clear Tamerlan Tsarnaev of harboring terrorist sympathies in 2011 after supposedly carrying out an intensive investigation? Why did the agency claim there was no “derogatory” information against him, even though it suspected him of having participated in the Waltham, Massachusetts murder of three Jewish men, including a “best friend,” on the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks?

· Why was he allowed to travel to Dagestan in January of 2012, without even being questioned at the airport? He remained there for six months and reportedly made contact with Islamist groups that have carried out terror attacks against Russian targets. Why was he allowed to return to the US without even being stopped at the airport and questioned on his return?

· Why did the FBI, CIA and Homeland Security Department fail to inform their state and local counterparts on the Boston joint terrorism task force of their contacts with Tamerlan Tsarnaev prior to the Boston Marathon?

These unanswered questions strongly suggest that US intelligence was seeking to use Tamerlan Tsarnaev to further its covert anti-Russian operations among Chechen and Dagestan separatists. These regions also supplied many of the foreign fighters recruited by the CIA for its proxy war for regime change against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

This connection is underscored by another critical fact ignored by the US media—the role of Ruslan Tsarni, the uncle of the Tsarnaev brothers. In the 1990s, Tsarni ran a US group called the Congress of Chechen International Organizations, which helped supply anti-Russian insurgents in Chechnya with military equipment. The organization was registered at the home of his father-in-law, Graham Fuller.

Fuller had been vice chairman of the National Intelligence Council at the CIA under President Reagan, and had worked for the agency in a number of countries, including serving as CIA station chief in Kabul.

Nato would be powerless to stop a Russian invasion of Eastern Europe, says top British general

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Former NATO secretary general Anders Fogh Rasmussen

 Nato would not be able to stop a Russian invasion of Eastern Europe because of years of military cuts, one of Britain’s top generals has warned.

General Sir Richard Shirreff, who stepped down from his post as Nato deputy supreme commander earlier this year, said the military alliance needed to rearm if it was serious about defending itself in the future.

Asked about the crisis in Ukraine, he said: ‘The reality is that Nato would be very hard pressed and they would find it very difficult to put into the field, at sea or into the air the means required, particularly on land I would assess, to counter any form of Russian adventurism.’

His remarks came after the Nato secretary general Anders Fogh Rasmussen revealed that the organisation will deploy forces at new bases in eastern Europe for the first time, in response to the crisis in Ukraine.

The move is an attempt to deter Russian President Vladimir Putin from causing trouble in the former Soviet Baltic republics, according to Mr Rasmussen.

He said the organisations’s summit in Wales next week would overcome divisions within the alliance and agree to new deployments on Russia’s borders – a move certain to trigger a strong reaction from Moscow.

He also outlined moves to boost Ukraine’s security, ‘modernise’ its armed forces and help the country counter the threat from Russia.

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Russia has become increasingly concerned over the growing strength of Nato, which has spread east.

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During the Cold War the Soviet Union had a buffer zone of ‘Warsaw Pact’ allies, separating its border from the capitalist world.

His former colleague General Shireff, speaking on BBC Newsnight last night, said Nato needed urgent investment.

He said: ‘Certainly western Europe would not be able to defend in my view against Russia without significant support from the Americans.

‘Nato would find it really difficult to get a division (20,000 people) out of the door in quick time.

‘Because certainly in western Europe what we have seen progressively is a dismantling of military capability.’

He accepted that advocating rearmament would be unpopular, but added: ‘It is a message our political leadership need to take home and listen to and act on if they are serious about ensuring that Nato has the means to defend itself in the future.

‘If Nato is serious about this, it is going to have to rearm, it is going to have to rebuild capability. European nations are going to have to put their hands in their pockets to spend more money on defence.’

Currently just four out of the 28 members spend more than the minimum target of two per cent of GDP on defence.

Asked about the situation in Iraq, Sir Richard stressed the threat posed by IS, formerly known as ISIS or ISIL, had to be eradicated.

He told the programme: ‘The first priority is to protect but ultimately the priority must be to eradicate IS as an external threat because of the potential impact on the Middle East … but also its potential impact if its incubus is allowed to survive … on our external security. There is (also) a very clear issue as far as internal security is concerned.’

When questioned about whether this meant siding with President Bashar Assad in Syria, he replied: ‘There can be no eradication of IS as a threat without a regional approach.

‘IS is operating and has spread into Syria and therefore there is likely to be or inevitably going to be a need to sit down and talk to difficult bed fellows, bad people.

‘It is one thing to say that we are going to deal with it, but you have to back up your words with actions and therefore in my view we should rule out nothing.

‘We must apply all the levers of power, political, diplomatic, economic and of course of military, but above all we need to establish the international political will to deal with this.’

Breaking News: Russian draft resolution on Ukraine passed by UN Security Council

Published time: February 17, 2015 20:16

RT news

 

 

 

The United Nations Security Council has voted unanimously to approve a Russia-drafted resolution to support the Minsk agreements, reached by the leaders of France, Germany, Russia and Ukraine last week.

The resolution was submitted to the UNSC by Russia on February 13, a day after the Minsk deal was agreed on. It is aimed at endorsing and executing the Minsk agreements. The document also expresses concern over the continuing violence in eastern Ukraine, and stresses the importance of resolving the conflict peacefully.

“After the unprecedented diplomatic efforts last week, Ukraine has a chance to turn a dramatic page in its history,” said Russia’s UN envoy Vitaly Churkin, who expressed “gratitude” towards the other parties for endorsing the document.

Moscow would aid “in full” the realization of the agreement, he added.

The resolution calls for a “total ceasefire” and a “political solution” that respects the “sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Ukraine”.

Despite the unanimous vote on the resolution, a number of UN Security Council delegations keep selectively interpreting the new Minsk agreement, Churkin said.

“We are disappointed with the discussion, because some of our colleagues have gone on the usual rhetoric route, often the rhetoric was not harmless. Especially harmful in the present circumstances is an attempt to rewrite the Minsk agreement,” the Russian diplomat told the council.

Churkin urged the warring parties in Ukraine to create proper security conditions for the OSCE monitoring mission in the conflict zone and Debaltsevo, in particular.

“It is because of the continued shelling of cities, that the Minsk Agreement of September did not last as originally planned. Indeed, the OSCE observers should work including in the area of Debaltsevo, but in order to do so, they must be provided with security. We all have to remember that these are unarmed people, although in armored vehicles, but still without certain security conditions, it is difficult to expect that they will be able to effectively control something there,” said Churkin.

LIVE: UN Security Council discusses Ukraine

 

Streamed live on Feb 17, 2015

The Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the United Nations addresses the President of the Security Council in New York over the Ukrainian crisis at the 7384th Security Council meeting. The delegation of the Russian Federation requested urgent consultations regarding the situation in the country.

BREAKING NEWS: Ukraine troops pull back from a key town as truce falters

VIOLENCE THREATENS CEASEFIRE:  WATCH VIDEO

 

(CNN)Ukraine’s military said Wednesday that 80% of Ukrainian armed forces have now pulled out of a strategic railroad hub that’s been the focus of bitter fighting with pro-Russian separatists.

The two sides have been battling for weeks for control of Debaltseve, and continued conflict there has undermined a truce that apparently went into effect Sunday, raising concerns it is all but dead.

The ramifications for the West are huge because the 10-month-long conflict in eastern Ukraine has hiked tensions with Russia to a level not seen since the end of the Cold War, affecting trade and raising the specter of Russian expansion into Eastern Europe.

CNN’s Nick Paton Walsh called the loss of Debaltseve a huge blow to the Ukrainian government and a win for the separatist militants, who regarded it already as their territory when the front lines for the ceasefire were drawn. It’s not yet clear how Kiev will respond.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, in a taped statement, said Ukrainian armed forces in the area had left Debaltseve according to plan and that Kiev was waiting for two remaining columns to pull back to the new defensive line.

Shelling hits pipeline in Ukraine

Shelling hits pipeline in Ukraine 01:38

“Debaltseve was under our control, there was no encirclement, and our troops left the area in a planned and organized manner with all the heavy weaponry,” he said, according to his office.

Poroshenko said in his conversations with U.S. and European Union leaders he had called for “a firm reaction from the world to Russia’s brutal violation of the Minsk agreements,” referring to the ceasefire agreed upon in Belarus.

The President, wearing a camouflage jacket, said he was on his way to the front line to meet with some of the soldiers who have pulled back. “I will be honored to shake their hands,” he said.

Ukrainian defense spokesman Andriy Lysenko told a Kiev news conference that the “organized retreat” from Debaltseve should be complete “within hours.”

The official news agency of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, DAN, earlier quoted separatists as saying there had been a large handover of weapons to the separatist forces in Debaltseve.

Deserted Ukrainian positions

CNN’s Paton Walsh, who is near Debaltseve, said deserted roads in the area are strewn with the wreckage of what, only hours earlier, were Ukrainian military positions.

A CNN team passed a checkpoint that had been obliterated as well as an armored personnel carrier that seemed to have been hit by a large explosion. What appeared to be the bodies of two Ukrainian soldiers could be seen there.

Only kilometers away from Debaltseve, the kind of intense shelling that would be expected with bitter fighting could no longer be heard.

It’s not clear where the civilians who were trapped by the conflict will go now, Paton Walsh said. The separatists have said they may try to evacuate them later, he said, but they would have to pass through areas that are still contested.

Speaking after news of the withdrawal, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg urged Russia to withdraw its forces from eastern Ukraine.

“I urge Russia to withdraw all its forces from eastern Ukraine, to stop all its support for the separatists and to respect the Minsk agreement … and to also use all its influence on the separatists to make them respect the ceasefire,” he told reporters in Riga, Latvia.

Russia has steadfastly denied allegations by Kiev and the West that it is sending heavy weaponry and troops over the border into eastern Ukraine.

Lavrov: Don’t use Debaltseve as an excuse to derail peace process

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told a news conference in Moscow that Russian President Vladimir Putin had tried to highlight the danger to thousands of Ukrainian troops encircled in Debaltseve before the ceasefire agreement was signed, but that Poroshenko had denied they were trapped.

The main goal now must be to save the troops’ lives, he said.

Lavrov suggested that outside Debaltseve, the weekend ceasefire had taken hold. “Across all conflict lines we can see hostilities have ceased and heavy armor started to be moved,” he said.

He urged Kiev and the West not to try to use the situation in Debaltseve as “an excuse to derail the process,” saying such reasoning had been used in the past to hinder peace efforts.

OSCE monitors insist on access to Debaltseve

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, which is tasked with monitoring the ceasefire and a supposed withdrawal of heavy weapons by both sides to create a buffer zone, has not been able to gain access to Debaltseve because of the continued conflict.

The chief monitor of the OSCE monitoring mission in Ukraine, Ertugrul Apakan, said Tuesday that he was “profoundly disturbed” by reports from the town. His monitors plan to try to gain access again Wednesday.

“I am especially concerned about the civilian population of the town,” Apakan said. “The sides have a duty to them as well and to each other to adhere strictly to the ceasefire.

Ukraine: Russia has 'full control' over separatists

Ukraine: Russia has ‘full control’ over separatists 05:37

“I condemn any attempts to create new facts on the ground, and so to change the basis on which the latest package of measures has been agreed.”

He pointed the finger at the separatist leaders in Donetsk and Luhansk, saying that they had effectively denied the OSCE monitors access to Debaltseve, and urged them to end their offensive and allow “unfettered access.”

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said Wednesday that the separatists’ actions in Debaltseve were “a clear violation of the ceasefire” and called for the OSCE observers to be allowed in.

“The separatists must stop all military activities. Russia and the separatists have to immediately and fully implement the commitments agreed to in Minsk,” she said.

“The EU stands ready to take appropriate action in case the fighting and other negative developments in violation of the Minsk agreements continue.”

Diplomats urge parties to abide by truce

Diplomats in New York scrambled Tuesday to shore up the shaky ceasefire agreement, hammered out by the leaders of Ukraine, Russia, France and Germany last week in Minsk.

In a call with Poroshenko, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden warned that if Russia continues to violate the Minsk agreements, “the costs to Russia will rise,” according to a White House statement.

Lavrov dismissed Biden’s words as “just another example of how the American position is not constructive.”

Village under fire

In the beleaguered village of Shyrokyno, Ukrainian forces are struggling to keep control of territory.

Mortar shelling and small arms battles broke out in Shyrokyno on Wednesday morning. Two Ukrainian soldiers were injured, Dmytro Chalov, a spokesman for Ukraine’s army in the Mariupol sector, told CNN.

Violence in Ukraine

Violence in Ukraine 02:21
PLAY VIDEO

“Right now, only about a third of the village is under our control,” a machine gunner named Yury told CNN’s Frederik Pleitgen a day earlier.

Oleg Shiryayev, commander of Ukraine’s East Corpus battalion, said the ceasefire “is a farce.”

“The fighting is continuing now the way it did before,” Shiryayev told Pleitgen. “They continue to attack us, shell us; they use artillery, mortars.”

But it’s impossible to tell which side is responsible for breaking the ceasefire in Shyrokyno.

To some residents, it doesn’t matter.

“The fighting is very heavy. All the windows (of) our house are broken,” one woman said. “It is very terrifying. We saved all our lives to buy our house, and now we have nothing.”

CNN Poll: 78 Percent Favor Military Authorization Against ISIS

Barack-Obama-Stunning-Decline

“The stunning decline of Barack Obama” – CNN

 

A majority of Americans disapprove of President Barack Obama’s handling of the terror group Islamic State (ISIS), while 78 percent back a new authorization for use of military force against ISIS, according to a new CNN/ORC poll.

The poll found 57 percent don’t like how Obama is handling the threat posed by ISIS and 58 percent think American military action against the group is going badly. In the fall, both those numbers were at 49 percent.

Fifty-seven percent also disapprove of Obama’s handling of foreign affairs overall, and 54 percent disapprove of how Obama is handling terrorism.

CNN notes that Obama’s declining poll numbers come as violent events unfold. This weekend, two shootings in Denmark targeted a cartoonist who had illustrated the prophet Mohammed and a synagogue.  Also, Egypt launches airstrikes against ISIS in Libya over the beheadings of 21 Egyptian Christians.

Almost half – 46 percent – of people who identify as members of Obama’s own party told pollsters the fight against ISIS isn’t going well.

Just more than half – 51 percent – of all respondents think Obama is doing a good job as commander-in-chief.More people now support sending American ground troops to fight ISIS, according to the poll. In November, only 43 percent were in favor and 55 percent opposed. The number of those supporting is now at a record-high 47 percent with only half opposing.There is a party split on the issue, with 61 percent of Democrats opposing ground troops and a similar number of Republicans supporting the idea. Independents are about evenly split, with 48 percent favoring ground troops and 50 percent opposing.Seventy-eight percent of Americans favor Congress giving Obama a new authorization of use of military force against ISIS, down slightly from 82 percent in December.

The poll was conducted with 1,027 adult Americans Feb. 12-15, and and has a margin of error of 3 percent.