400 US mercenaries ‘deployed on ground’ in Ukraine military op

Ukrainian troops outside the town of Andreyevskoe near Slaviyansk, Donetsk Region, where local residents blocked a column of Ukrainian Army armored personnel carriers. (RIA Novosti / Mikhail Voskresenskiy)

Ukrainian troops outside the town of Andreyevskoe near Slaviyansk, Donetsk Region, where local residents blocked a column of Ukrainian Army armored personnel carriers. (RIA Novosti / Mikhail Voskresenskiy)

About 400 elite mercenaries from the notorious US private security firm Academi (formerly Blackwater) are taking part in the Ukrainian military operation against anti-government protesters in southeastern regions of the country, German media reports.

The Bild am Sonntag newspaper, citing a source in intelligence circles, wrote Sunday that Academi employees are involved in the Kiev military crackdown on pro-autonomy activists in near the town of Slavyansk, in the Donetsk region.

On April 29, German Intelligence Service (BND) informed Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government about the mercenaries’ participation in the operation, the paper said, RIA Novosti reported. It is not clear who commands the private military contractors and pays for their services, however.

In March, media reports appeared suggesting that the coup-imposed government in Kiev could have employed up to 300 mercenaries.That was before the new government launched a military operation against anti-Maidan activists, or “terrorists” as Kiev put it, in southeast Ukraine.

At the time, the Russian Foreign Ministry said then that reports claiming Kiev was planning to involve “involve staff from foreign military companies to ‘ensure the rule of law,’” could suggest that it wanted “to suppress civil protests and dissatisfaction.”

In particular, Greystone Limited, which is currently registered in Barbados and is a part of Academi Corporation, is a candidate for such a gendarme role. It is a similar and probably an affiliated structure of the Blackwater private army, whose staff have been accused of cruel and systematic violations of human rights in various trouble spots on many occasions.

“Among the candidates for the role of gendarme is the Barbados-registered company Greystone Limited, which is integrated with the Academi corporation,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement. “It is an analogue, and, probably and affiliated body of the Blackwater private army, whose employees have repeatedly been accused of committing grievous and systematic human rights abuses in different troubled regions.”

Allegations increased further after unverified videos appeared on YouTube of unidentified armed men in the streets of Donetsk, the capital of the country’s industrial and coalmining region. In those videos, onlookers can be heard shouting “Mercenaries!”“Blackwater!,” and “Who are you going to shoot at?”

(FILES) A picture taken on July 5, 2005 shows contractors of the US private security firm Blackwater securing the site of a roadside bomb attack near the Iranian embassy in central Baghdad. (AFP Photo / Ahmad Al-Rubaye)

(FILES) A picture taken on July 5, 2005 shows contractors of the US private security firm Blackwater securing the site of a roadside bomb attack near the Iranian embassy in central Baghdad. (AFP Photo / Ahmad Al-Rubaye)

Academi denied its involvement in Ukraine, claiming on its website that “rumors” were posted by “some irresponsible bloggers and online reporters.”

“Such unfounded statements combined with the lack of factual reporting to support them and the lack of context about the company, are nothing more than sensationalistic efforts to create hysteria and headlines in times of genuine crisis,” the US firm stated.

The American security company Blackwater gained worldwide notoriety for the substantial role it played in the Iraq war as a contractor for the US government. In recent years it has changed its name twice – in 2009 it was renamed Xe Services and in 2011 it got its current name, Academi.

The firm became infamous for the alleged September 16, 2007 killing of 17 Iraqi civilians in Baghdad. The attack, which saw 20 others wounded, was allegedly without justification and in violation of deadly-force rules that pertained to American security contractors in Iraq at the time. Between 2005 and September 2007, Blackwater security guards were involved in at least 195 shooting incidents in Iraq and fired first in 163 of those cases, a Congressional report said at the time.

Pro-federalization activists take over govt buildings across Eastern Ukraine (April 2014)

 

 

Thousands of pro-federalization activists have rallied in cities across Eastern Ukraine, calling for greater sovereignty of their region from Kiev. Activists have formed militias that helped anti-Maidan protesters seize several government buildings.
Pro-federalization activists occupy city council, police HQ in Slavyansk

Activists in Slavyansk, a city in eastern Ukraine located in the north of the Donetsk region with a population of 120,000, seized the police headquarters and the city council building Saturday. Police said Anti-Maidan protesters also seized the local office of Ukraine’s Security Service, the SBU.

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They hoisted a Russian flag on top of the police HQ, Slavyansk Mayor Nelly Shtepa said.

“As I negotiated with the activists today, they explained that they represent the Donetsk regional people’s militia. They said that they oppose Kiev authorities and today they are negotiating with them” she said.

 

 

Shtepa added that the people of the city support the activists’ calls for a referendum on the region’s federalization, and are urging the police to side with the people.

If the authorities in Kiev will “try to suppress the uprising, many civilians will die, this cannot be allowed,” Shtepa said.

An armed pro-Russian activists addresses supporters gathered in front of a police station in the eastern Ukrainian city of Slavyansk after it was seized by a few dozen gunmen on April 12, 2014. (AFP Photo / Anatoliy Stepanov)

An armed pro-Russian activists addresses supporters gathered in front of a police station in the eastern Ukrainian city of Slavyansk after it was seized by a few dozen gunmen on April 12, 2014. (AFP Photo / Anatoliy Stepanov)

There are reports that the activists in Slavyansk have taken up weapons. However, one of the members of the Donbas people’s militia told media that no one was hurt during the storm of the police HQ, adding that the government building will be under their control until a referendum is held.

Ukraine’s coup-imposed Interior Minister Arsen Avakov wrote on his Facebook page that the raid on police HQ was carried out by masked men with guns. He promised that the government’s answer to the raid would be “very harsh.” Avakov added that a Special Forces unit has been deployed to the scene.

Anti-Maidan protesters stopped two buses full of security forces which were heading from Donetsk to Slavyansk, Rossiya 24 TV channel reported. After negotiations, the security forces turned back to their Donetsk HQ.

“I can’t say there was a conflict between the police and activists, the latter just accompanied the Special Unit forces back to their HQ,” said a Rossiya 24 correspondent, who was at the scene.

Berkut Special Forces side with Donetsk people

In Donetsk, officers of the former Berkut special riot police unit refused to obey orders from Kiev and move to crush a pro-federalization takeover in Slavyansk. Instead Berkut officers sided with the people of the region, offering them security and protection.

Berkut forces occupied police headquarters in Donetsk. Tying St. George ribbons to their uniform, the special unit said that they supported the demands of the local population and refused to obey their command. Berkut fighters arrived at the building of the Internal Affairs building of the city.

Донецк: Донецкий беркут надел русские георгиевские ленты [Donetsk: Donetsk golden eagle wearing Russian St. George ribbons]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Missouri gov. declares state of emergency ahead of Ferguson verdict

Missouri Governor Jay Nixon (Reuters / Kenny Baht)

Missouri Governor Jay Nixon (Reuters / Kenny Baht)

The governor of Missouri declared a state of emergency on Monday ahead of the anticipated grand jury decision surrounding Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson and the potential protests the verdict may bring to that city and others.

Citing what he called the “possibility of expanded unrest” ahead of the impending verdict, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon said in a declaration on Monday that the St. Louis County Police Department and the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department will operate as a Unified Command “to protect civil rights and ensure public safety in the City of Ferguson and the St. Louis region”.

A grand jury is expected to announce any day if they will charge Wilson with the August killing of Michael Brown, an unarmed teenager.

“In the days immediately following Michael Brown’s death, peaceful protests were marred by senseless acts of violence and destruction,” Gov. Nixon said last week.”That ugliness was not representative of Missouri, and it cannot be repeated.”

In addition to declaring a state of emergency, Nixon issued an executive order which in turn has activated the Missouri National Guard to assist local law enforcement.

Due to the periods of unrest that Ferguson and the St. Louis region have experienced in the wake of Brown’s death, Nixon said the state of Missouri will be prepared to respond “appropriately” in order to protect citizens and local businesses from “violence and damage.”

“I further order that the Unified Command may exercise operational authority in such other jurisdictions it deems necessary to protect civil rights and ensure public safety and that other law enforcement agencies shall assist the Unified Command when so requested and shall cooperate with operational directives of the Unified Command,” the governor wrote in the executive order.

The move follows Nixon’s decision to put the National Guard on standby in order to ensure it can support police officers and rapidly respond to any reports of violence. Elaborating on where the Guard fits into the governor’s latest action, St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay suggested on Monday that it will not be the primary force at any protest.

“The way we view this, the Guard is not going to be confronting the protesters and will not be on the front line, interacting directly with the demonstrators,” the mayor said.

Nixon, meanwhile, said the executive order was needed to provide for an orderly and effective response to whatever decision the grand jury announces.

“As part of our ongoing efforts to plan and be prepared for any contingency, it is necessary to have these resources in place in advance of any announcement of the grand jury’s decision,” the governor said in a news release, according to local KSHB News. “These additional resources will support law enforcement’s efforts to maintain peace and protect those exercising their right to free speech.”

Last week, the governor said it was necessary for the state to avoid the kind of confrontation that occurred following Brown’s death.

“In the days immediately following Michael Brown’s death, peaceful protests were marred by senseless acts of violence and destruction,” he said. “That ugliness was not representative of Missouri, and it cannot be repeated.”

It’s unclear how exactly the grand jury will rule, as competing accounts of the fatal incident have surfaced. Some witnesses say Brown was surrendering to Wilson when he was shot, while others, including Wilson, say Brown had confronted the officer and went for his gun.

It’s unclear how exactly the grand jury will rule, as competing accounts of the fatal incident have surfaced. Some witnesses say Brown was surrendering to Wilson when he was shot, while others – including Wilson – say Brown had confronted the officer and went for his gun.

Even with no decision, some demonstrators have taken to the streets. A crowd of protesters staged a peaceful rally in St. Louis on Sunday, marking 100 days since the tragedy. Protesters laid down on chalk outlines representing shooting victims, pretending they had been killed.

Clashes, water cannon as 100,000+ march in Brussels against austerity (PHOTOS)

RT Question More 
6 November 2014

Violent clashes broke out in Belgium as more than 100,000 protesters marched in Brussels against the government’s austerity measures. Police deployed water cannon as dockworkers, metalworkers and students took to the streets.

The violence flared up at the end of an otherwise peaceful protest, with tear gas deployed as some radical demonstrators hurled objects at riot police and launched attacks with the barriers against the officials. Some set off colored smoke flares.

 

Violent clashes erupt in Brussels between anti-government protesters and riot police

Violent clashes erupt in Brussels between anti-government protesters and riot police

At least 14 people were taken to hospital following the violence, according to national daily HLN.be.

The Belgian government which assumed power just a month ago has caused unrest with promises to raise the retirement age, cancel a wage rise in line with inflation and cut health and social security benefits – moves that undermine the country’s welfare state.

Crazy photos coming out of #Brussels amid massive anti-austerity demonstrations

Crazy photos coming out of #Brussels amid massive anti-austerity demonstrations

More photos by Gauvain_D_Santo of the remarkable scenes coming out of the anti-austerity demonstrations in Brussels

More photos by Gauvain_D_Santo of the remarkable scenes coming out of the anti-austerity demonstrations in Brussels

National protest at Brussels today. Lack of respect is disappointing.

National protest at Brussels today. Lack of respect is disappointing.

The union estimates around 120,000 have turned up for Thursday march, dockworkers, metalworkers and students among them.

Protesters’ banners included: “Eliminate the causes of the crisis, not the poor,” and “Hands off the pension age.”

A small group set a police motorcycle on fire.

'Don't touch pension age!' Huge turnout at #Brussels anti-austerity march - LIVE FEED http://on.rt.com/h2hwtd

‘Don’t touch pension age!’ Huge turnout at #Brussels anti-austerity march – LIVE FEED http://on.rt.com/h2hwtd

More protests are planned, including weekly regional strikes from November 24 and a national strike for December 15.

The mass-action is also seeing a work slowdown which is having a detrimental effect on public institutions such as schools and post offices, as well as the ports of Antrwerp and Zeebrugge.

Security announcement @ my office: "stay away from all windows" after fireworks destroy 2 of them

Security announcement @ my office: “stay away from all windows” after fireworks destroy 2 of them

“Workers rights have been cut – not only the wages but the rights and the capacity to continue to know what are the main guidelines of the European societies. Because now I think we don’t know it anymore,” Marisa Matias of the Confederal Group of the European United Left told RT.

“In southern Europe – in Portugal, where I’m from – these measures do nothing but increase social problems.”

Demonstrators confront riot police in central Brussels November 6, 2014.(Reuters / Yves Herman)

Demonstrators confront riot police in central Brussels November 6, 2014.(Reuters / Yves Herman)

Demonstrators confront riot police during clashes in central Brussels November 6, 2014.(Reuters / Francois Lenoi)

Demonstrators confront riot police during clashes in central Brussels November 6, 2014.(Reuters / Francois Lenoi)

Demonstrators confront riot police in central Brussels November 6, 2014. (Reuters / Yves Herman)

Demonstrators confront riot police in central Brussels November 6, 2014. (Reuters / Yves Herman)

Breaking News: Tense stand-off between Million Mask March protesters and police in London

RT UK – November 05, 2014

Reuters / Bobby Yip

Reuters / Bobby Yip

Barricades have been erected in London’s Parliament Square and hundreds of police officers are on standby after protesters announced intentions to “blockade” the center of the capital.

In anticipation of the Million Mask March on November 5, officers from the Metropolitan Police, British Transport Police and the City of London Police Force will be on duty, with many others on standby.

In their invitation to the Million Mask March, Anonymous activists announced they intend to to cause traffic chaos in the capital:

“What I’d like to see is a MASSIVE Anonymous blockade of London City,” the demo’s website said. “Complete physical GRIDLOCK. Only thing that gets through are Fire & Rescue and ambulances. NOTHING ELSE MOVES.”

LIVE – Million Mask March floods London streets

 

The demonstration has been called by the hacktivist group Anonymous, whose manifesto states they protest against austerity, mass surveillance and human rights abuses.

The London march is part of a day of global demonstrations, which include rallies across Europe, the Americas and Asia.

Barricades have been erected in London’s Parliament Square and hundreds of police officers are on standby after protesters announced intentions to “blockade” the center of the capital.

In anticipation of the Million Mask March on November 5, officers from the Metropolitan Police, British Transport Police and the City of London Police Force will be on duty, with many others on standby.

In their invitation to the Million Mask March, Anonymous activists announced they intend to to cause traffic chaos in the capital:

“What I’d like to see is a MASSIVE Anonymous blockade of London City,” the demo’s website said. “Complete physical GRIDLOCK. Only thing that gets through are Fire & Rescue and ambulances. NOTHING ELSE MOVES.”

 The demonstration has been called by the hacktivist group Anonymous, whose manifesto states they protest against austerity, mass surveillance and human rights abuses.

The London march is part of a day of global demonstrations, which include rallies across Europe, the Americas and Asia.

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Last year’s London march saw more than 2,500 protesters take to the streets, in a rally which saw fireworks thrown at Buckingham Palace and a total of 15 arrests.

The heightened security measures come as the Metropolitan Police attempted to contact Anonymous, but no one came forward with any details.

“We are keen to talk with them to ensure they are able to protest; it is important that they talk to us so that we can work together to achieve a safe and successful event,” said Chief Superintendent Pippa Mills.

Rather than communicate directly with local authorities, Anonymous sent a message to the government, and to global world leaders: “To oppressive governments, we say this: we do not expect our campaign to be completed in a short time frame. However, you will not prevail against the angry masses of the body politic.”

B1rbcipIYAAyJwq.jpg large

The group further addresses the British government, saying they have “made an enemy of Anonymous,” and that they have “angered them considerably.”

Speaking to RT, one source from the Anonymous movement said, “It’s a night of grievance on a night that’s historically about parliament and how it’s not always working in the people’s interests.”

“We burn an effigy of Guy Fawkes on a fire each year as a warning against standing against parliament so we just felt it would be symbolic,” the source said.

The Million Mask March was due to begin at 1800 GMT from Trafalgar Square.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Incumbent Donbass leaders Zakharchenko and Plotnitsky win elections – final results

Donetsk after shelling by Kiev military forces

Donetsk after shelling by Kiev military forces

 

 

Incumbent PM Aleksandr Zakharchenko has won in Sunday’s elections in the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic in eastern Ukraine, taking some 75 percent of the votes. In Lugansk, 63 percent have voted for the current leader Igor Plotnitsky.

In Donestk, Zakharchenko was trailed by Aleksandr Kofman, deputy speaker of the Novorossiya Union parliament, and Yury Sivokonenko, an MP from the local Supreme Council.

“After processing all the ballots, Aleksandr Zakharchenko received over 765,340 votes,” said Roman Lyagin, the head of Central Election Committee.

“Aleksandr Kofman got 111,024 votes, and Yury Sivokonenko 93,280,” he added.

Lyagin also said he doesn’t give percentage data, because he thinks that absolute numbers are more open and precise.

Total voter turnout in the Donetsk People’s Republic reached 1,012,682.

In Lugansk, Igor Plotnitsky, the incumbent leader, won with just over 63 percent of the vote, according to final results provided by the local Central Election Committee.

Meanwhile, the lead in the parliamentary elections – also held on Sunday – has been claimed by Zakharchenko’s Donetsk Republic party, which has 662,725 votes, the head of the Election Commission added. The rival Svobodniy Donbass party has collected 306,892 votes.

In Lugansk, the incumbent leader and head of the Peace to Lugansk Region movement, Igor Plotnitsky, has won 69,42 percent of votes, while some 22 percent voted for its closest rival, the Lugansk Economic Union.

Members of the self-defense forces cast their votes during the elections for the leader and the People's Council of the Donetsk People's Republic (RIA Novosti / Alexey Kudenko)

Members of the self-defense forces cast their votes during the elections for the leader and the People’s Council of the Donetsk People’s Republic (RIA Novosti / Alexey Kudenko)

The self-proclaimed people’s republics of Donetsk and Lugansk took to polling stations to vote for their leaders and MPs on Sunday. Over 360 polling stations were open in Donetsk for three million potential voters. Meanwhile, 102 polling stations for approximately 1.5 million voters were open in Lugansk.

In Lugansk, the overall turnout exceeded 60 percent, according to the head of the Central Election Commission in the LPR, Sergey Kozyakov. He added that by 8p.m. local time, nearly 630,000 residents had come to cast their votes.

Kiev has said it will not recognize the elections, as they contradict Ukrainian legislation. Ukraine’s Security Service has opened a criminal case against the organizers of the elections in Donetsk and Lugansk.

EU’s new foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini has also spoken out against the elections, arguing that it will be an obstacle to reconciliation in Ukraine.

“I consider today’s ‘presidential and parliamentary elections’ in Donetsk and Luhansk ‘People’s Republics’ a new obstacle on the path towards peace in Ukraine. The vote is illegal and illegitimate, and the European Union will not recognise it,” Mogherini said in a statement.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko condemned the elections as illegitimate on Sunday and called on Russia not to recognize the results. “I count on Russia not to recognize the so-called elections because they are a clear violation of the September 5 Minsk protocol, which was also signed by Russia’s representative,” he said in a statement.

However, the Russian Foreign Ministry issued a statement late on Sunday saying that Moscow “respects the expression of will of the south-eastern [Ukrainians].” The ministry noted a high turnout and reminded that in the current situation it is “extremely important” for Kiev to work on conducting dialogue with the people of the region.

 

Luhansk residents cast their votes at a polling station during the elections for the head and the People's Council of the Luhansk People's Republic (Reuters / Valery Melnikov)

Luhansk residents cast their votes at a polling station during the elections for the head and the People’s Council of the Luhansk People’s Republic (Reuters / Valery Melnikov)

Moscow earlier pointed out that according to the Minsk peace agreements, elections in both Ukraine and the self-proclaimed republics should be conducted between October 19 and November 3.

Thus Poroshenko’s order from October 16, which set the date of elections in the self-proclaimed republics for December 7, “contradicts the Minsk agreements,” said the Russian Foreign Ministry.

Ukraine conducted parliamentary elections on October 26.

No serious violations of public order were reported during the Sunday elections in the DPR. “We have no reports about incidents at polling stations,” a DPR Interior Ministry spokesman told TASS news agency. Minor incidents included a false bomb threat.

International observers said the elections in the self-proclaimed republics followed democratic standards, adding that they saw no violations during the process.

An MP from the Upper Chamber of Italy’s Parliament, Lucio Malan, acting as an observer at the elections in Donetsk, told RT that people “were not influenced in any way” during the vote.

The prevention of double or triple voting appeared to be good, up to international standards” he added.

What was possible for us to see and what we witnessed is that they fit completely into generally accepted democratic electoral standards,” Manuel Ochsenreiter, a German observer in Lugansk, told RT. “What was really impressing – the masses of people at the polling stations, standing sometimes for hours just to put their vote, to express their political will.”

“First I believe the elections followed international standards of democratic elections. I was very impressed with the enthusiasm and the vigor with which the people went to the polls to express their opinion,” US Senior Attorney Frank Abernathy, an observer in Lugansk, told RT.

Russian lawmaker asks Nobel Committee to strip Obama of Peace Prize

US President Barack Obama walks to the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, DC, on October 9, 2009 to address reporters after he won the Nobel Peace Prize. (AFP Photo/Saul Loeb)

US President Barack Obama walks to the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, DC, on October 9, 2009 to address reporters after he won the Nobel Peace Prize. (AFP Photo/Saul Loeb)

 

A representative of the populist LDPR nationalist party claims in an official letter that the US President should be blamed for thousands of innocent people’s deaths and therefore cannot keep his 2009 Nobel Peace Prize.

More and more international experts are calling Obama’s presidency dark times. The reason for that is the brutal policy that he is conducting all over the world, like Napoleon or Hitler had done before. But I want to warn Obama so that he pays more attention to history and understands that he can end up like Hitler,” MP Roman Khudyakov said in an interview with Izvestia daily.

The politician added that under Obama the United States participated in the “dirty war” in the Middle East, financed the armed conflict in Ukraine and violated international law by torturing suspected terrorists. All this makes the US President complicit in the violent deaths of several thousand innocent civilians and such a person cannot remain the holder of the Nobel Peace Prize, Khudyakov said.

In addition, the lawmaker suggested to pass the Peace Prize taken from Obama to Russian President Vladimir Putin. “He stopped the war in Iran, in Syria and he is still saving a lot of people from major bloodshed. He is a vivid example of a politician who preserves peace and love in the world.”

Khudyakov is not the first Russian politician who has suggested stripping the US President of his 2009 Nobel Peace Prize. In August this year, the head of the LDPR party, Vladimir Zhirinovsky, wrote in a public address that Obama was not worthy of the honor.

Zhirinovsky stated that the fact that the Peace Prize was given to Obama in 2009 caused bewilderment from the very beginning – the award went to the man who had occupied his post for less than a year and had not claimed any real achievements, but instead started wars in the Mideast, Afghanistan and Ukraine. The Russian politician added that he himself had worked in the Peace Committee and previously the whole world had been proud of Nobel laureates. He noted that giving the Peace Prize to Obama “had done huge damage” but the mistake could still be corrected.

In March, senator, Lyudmila Bokova, asked the Nobel Committee to annul Obama’s peace prize claiming that the double standard policy of the US administration helped develop the political crisis in Ukraine.

In November last year, two Russian military-related NGOs, Officers of Russia and Soldiers’ Mothers, addressed the Nobel Committee with a request to evaluate Obama’s inhumane statements about drone warfare – the US President had reportedly told his aides that he was “really good at killing people” while evaluating drone strike results.

So far, all calls from Russian activists and politicians have gone unanswered. It should be noted, however, that the statutes of the Nobel Foundation forbid the revoking of prizes as well as any appeals against Nobel Committee decisions.

 

Obama Has Killed Thousands with Drones, So Can the Nobel Committee Have Their Peace Prize Back?

Tim Stanley, Telegraph (London), October 10, 2013

Dr Tim Stanley is a historian of the United States. His new book about Hollywood politics is out in May. His personal website is www.timothystanley.co.uk and you can follow him on Twitter @timothy_stanley.

Tomorrow we hear who has won this year’s Nobel Peace Prize. Of course, most of the previous recipients have been deserving. Some less so. When Henry Kissinger was awarded it in 1973, Tom Lehrer quipped that the prize, “made political satire obsolete.”

The same could be said about the award that went to Barack Obama in 2009. It summed up his whole political career–celebrated before he’d actually done anything, the jar into which millions of liberals poured their dreams, and, most importantly, an utter disappointment when in office. Barack Obama deserves a peace prize in the way that Pat Robertson deserves the trophy for Mr Gay USA 2013. Consider the evidence:

– Far from ending the adventurism of his predecessor, Barack Obama surged troop numbers in Afghanistan, bombed Libya and was only prevented from going into Syria by public opposition to the sheer insanity of the idea.

– Under his watchful gaze the Middle East is arguably less stable today than when his presidency started. There is civil war in Syria, a kidnapped prime minister in Libya, revolution in Egypt. It’s been a particularly hard few years for the remaining Christians.

– He’s engaged in a drone strike campaign that would make Bush blush.

George W Bush conducted 45 drone strikes as President, killing 477. Barack Obama conducted 316 drone strikes, killing 2,363. These figures are from the New America Foundation – and the total dead is probably an underestimate. The Foundation says that the number killed could be as high as 3,404 including 307 civilian men women and children. One leaked document suggested that drones had killed 94 kids in 3 years. Interestingly, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham – a big supporter of drone strikes – recently said that the total dead could be 4,700. To put that into perspective, 3,527 Americans died fighting in Iraq.

Given that record, it’s time to ask–could the Nobel committee have their Peace Prize back?