Independnce Day of India

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While Obama is doing everything in his power to show that when it comes to commiserating with the Saudis, he is first in line, the US relationship with that “other” US ally in the region, Israel, is in a fast and furious state of “crash and burn.”

Recall, that it was yesterday when it was revealed that President Obama will forgo a visit to the Taj Mahal during his visit to India in order to pay respects in Saudi Arabia after the death of King Abdullah, the White House announced early Saturday morning. Vice President Biden was initially scheduled to lead the U.S. delegation, but he will instead now remain in Washington and Obama will add the stop onto his return from India, where Obama is concluding his trip to “foster economic ties with the nation.”

This, in turn, takes place a day after Obama announced he would not meet Israel’s prime minister when he visits Washington in March, the White House said on Thursday, after being blindsided by the Republicans’ invitation to Benjamin Netanyahu to address the U.S. Congress on Iran. >> Read More

 

The first public address of Greece’s new leaders, Alexis Tsipras has begun. The key highlights of his speech so far:

  • TSIPRAS SAYS GREEK PEOPLE HAVE WRITTEN HISTORY
  • TSIPRAS SAYS GREECE IS TURNING PAGE, LEAVING AUSTERITY BEHIND
  • TSIPRAS SAYS BAILOUT AGREEMENTS HAVE ENDED FOR GREECE
  • TSIPRAS SAYS TROIKA ERA IS OVER FOR GREECE
  • TSIPRAS SAYS SYRIZA GOVT READY TO NEGOTIATE, COOPERATE ON DEBT
  • TSIPRAS SAYS OLIGARCHS, ELITES IN GREECE HAVE BEEN DEFEATED
  • TSIPRAS SAYS SYRIZA VICTORY IS VICTORY FOR PEOPLES OF EUROPE

Europe will not be pleased.

  • 146-158 seats
  • 35.5-39.5% of votes
  • New Democracy taking 23-27%

News just out on Reuters as voting closes

 

Whoever wins Greece’s general election on Sunday, Europe will have to take urgent action to tackle the country’s mountain of debt before it buries the rest of the eurozone, analysts say.

Alexis Tsipras, head of the far-left Syriza party that leads in the polls, has alarmed EU capitals by pledging to ditch austerity measures and renegotiate the debt left by two huge international bailouts.

The risk of Greece crashing out of the euro is unlikely irrespective of the result, analysts say, as Athens and Brussels would probably strike a deal despite the fiery rhetoric on both sides.

But even if Tsipras loses, the European Union must deal with an unsustainable debt level that stands at 177.7 percent of Greece’s economic output in order to restore confidence in the struggling eurozone, they say.

The once off-limits idea of reducing Greece’s debt is now quietly gaining ground. >> Read More

Full Speech-State Of The Union

21 January 2015 - 9:37 am
 

Mr. Speaker, Mr. Vice President, Members of Congress, my fellow Americans:

We are fifteen years into this new century. Fifteen years that dawned with terror touching our shores; that unfolded with a new generation fighting two long and costly wars; that saw a vicious recession spread across our nation and the world. It has been, and still is, a hard time for many.

But tonight, we turn the page.

Tonight, after a breakthrough year for America, our economy is growing and creating jobs at the fastest pace since 1999. Our unemployment rate is now lower than it was before the financial crisis. More of our kids are graduating than ever before; more of our people are insured than ever before; we are as free from the grip of foreign oil as we’ve been in almost 30 years.

Tonight, for the first time since 9/11, our combat mission in Afghanistan is over. Six years ago, nearly 180,000 American troops served in Iraq and Afghanistan. Today, fewer than 15,000 remain. And we salute the courage and sacrifice of every man and woman in this 9/11 Generation who has served to keep us safe. We are humbled and grateful for your service. >> Read More

 

President Pranab Mukherjee on Monday asked ruling and opposition parties to put their heads together and find out a workable solution, apparently to avoid resorting to the frequent issuing of ordinances. In comments that have come against the backdrop of a raging debate on a spate of ordinances promulgated by the National Democratic alliance (NDA) government, he acknowledged that the Constitution provided for the promulgation of an ordinance in extraordinary situation but this route cannot and should not be taken for normal legislation. Addressing the faculty and students of central universities and research institutions through video conferencing, he referred to situations when the ruling party may not have a majority in the Rajya Sabha but felt a joint session of Parliament to make up for numbers to enact laws “is not practical”. “It is the responsibility of entire political establishment to put their heads together and work out a workable solution. “The opposition can oppose, expose and possibly depose, if they have the numbers. But always keep in mind, it is the collective responsibility of the elected members of the House whether directly elected to the Lok Sabha or through states in Rajya Sabha… I ask the political establishment to engage in a dialogue and resolve their differences,” he said in reply to questions on his views on frequent resort to ordinance route by the executive. The President’s views assume significance in the context of the Narendra Modi government promulgating nine ordinances including one on opening the insurance sector to higher foreign investment after Parliament was paralysed in the winter session.

 

A recent escalation of conflict jeopardizes the Minsk agreements-based peaceful settlement process in eastern Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s message to Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko read.

 “Recent events of renewed shelling in Donetsk and Luhansk regions in southeastern Ukraine cause grave concern and, for all intents and purposes, jeopardize the peace process based on the September 19, 2014 Minsk memorandum,” Putin’s message said as outlined on Channel One Russia.

On September 5, the opposing sides reached a ceasefire agreement at a Contact Group meeting in the Belarusian capital. The provisions for observing the ceasefire were agreed on during the next round of Minsk talks on September 19.

However, since then both sides have been accusing each other of violating the truce. >> Read More

 

There is no chance that Russian President Vladimir Putin will be invited to the next meeting of G7 leaders, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who will host the summit, has said.

“The G7 and former G8 group has always viewed itself as a community of values,” Merkel told Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper in an interview published Thursday.

“The annexation of Crimea, which is a blatant violation of the principles of international law, and the events in eastern Ukraine are serious violations of these common values.”

That was why there was no chance “at this point” that Putin might be invited to the G7 summit in Bavaria in June, Merkel said and repeated her stance that Europe could not consider lifting sanctions against Russia as long as the reasons for imposing them still applied.

“In spring we will discuss the question how to deal with the sanctions that we decided to impose after Russia’s annexation of Crimea,” she said. “Given the current situation, they will remain in place.”

Last week, Merkel said Europe would not consider lifting sanctions until all elements of a 12-point peace agreement signed in September between Ukraine and pro-Russian rebels were fully implemented.

As Die Welt reports (excerpted via Google Translate),

Q: Some EU and NATO members said Estonia was being hystereical [ in its response to Russian provocations]

Ilves: That’s typical for people who do not want to look, what actually happened. The world order found after the Cold War has been destroyed. The UN Charter, the Helsinki Final Act were broken, the Paris Charter of 1990 – which says that each country can make his own decisions when it comes to its national security. Moscow has signed himself. That the Georgians towards NATO wanted 2008 was enough reason for a war on Russia. This time is the reason something as small as an Association Agreement with the EU.

Q. Do Estonians have reason to fear?

Ilves: We – in the EU and NATO – have no reason to fear. We are living in a situation such as in West Germany before 1989, the risk is there, one observes bad behavior.

Ilves: I’m really surprised that opinion writers and others in the French and German media blame the EU Association Agreement [for the tension between Russia and Ukraine]. This is little more than a free trade agreement and a student exchange. This is not a big deal. But the Putin [apologists] criticize the EU that it was a mistake.

I’ll tell you something: May 8, 1945, the definitive answer to annex other territories because of the minority living there. Germany must understand Russia – this is a thought of blood and soil for us.

Q: Do you feel like an outsider in the Western Alliance? >> Read More

 

German newspaper Hamburger Morgenpost was set ablaze early Sunday after it published several of Charlie Hebdo’s caricatures, the media outlet’s website reads.

 “Unknown men have apparently thrown stones and an incendiary agent into the [newspaper's] archives… from the back yard of the building. Some files are burned there. Luckily no people were in the building at the time,” the newspaper stated.

“Two rooms on the lower floors were damaged but the fire was put out quickly,” a police spokesperson said as quoted by AFP.

Hamburger Morgenpost added that two young men who had behaved suspiciously in the area have been arrested and that law enforcers have started an investigation. >> Read More

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Team ASR,
Baroda, India.