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‘Donbas is Returning to its Russian Roots’

By SERGEI BARYSHNIKOV | CounterPunch | July 1, 2015

The following is the transcript of a talk by Sergei Baryshnikov, professor of political science and former rector of the National University of Donetsk in the Donetsk People’s Republic. The talk was delivered on April 16, 2015 to a group of foreign writers and journalists visiting Donetsk at the invitation of the Russian/German media NGO ‘Europa Objektiv’. The transcript includes answers to questions from the audience. Translation and editing by


During the events of spring 2014 [in eastern and southern Ukraine] known as the ‘Russian Spring’ (a metaphorical name first used by a Russian journalist), intellectuals in Donetsk, especially those in humanities studies, did not participate actively. Active participants could be counted on the fingers on one hand.

From the vantage point of classical theory, it is still difficult to explain the class or social character of these events. None of the classical theories proved with a suitable explanation.

As we look back today, one year later, there were two social forces driving events forward. One was young people with different professional backgrounds, including high school students, university students and unemployed youth. These were the most active participants due to their unstable social situations. The second was people of the so called third age–the elderly. These two polar groups were the most active, driving forces of the Russian Spring in Donbas.

Initial responses to the rise of the Euromaidan movement in Kyiv

The first timid and not well organized attempts to offer an alternative to the Maidan movement that was already a fact in Kyiv took place in November/December of 2013. At the time, we did not yet fully understand the degree of the threat emanating from Kyiv. We hoped that President Yanukovich would be a more firm and adequate leader. But after the beginning of the new year, during the first weeks of January, the picture became clearer. Authorities in Kyiv were reacting less and less adequately to events.

The starting point of our consolidation here was the 25th of January, 2014. On that day, activists of several dozens of organizations, not large, rather marginal by their size and influence, created the movement called anti-Maidan. Regardless of some contradictions and disagreements within the ‘pro-Russian’ movement here in the east of ex-Ukraine, including that each leader wanted to be the chief, common ground which united all was found. This was based on the ideological and political rejection of those values that were being promoted under the slogans of Maidan.

The first occasion of direct action was on March 1 when opponents of the self-proclaimed government in Kyiv gathered at the central Square in Donetsk city named after Lenin. They gathered at the fountain (then not working due to the winter season) wearing St. George ribbons as a distinctive feature of the pro-Russian movement. Some stayed at the square and continued with the rally while the most active ones headed in a column towards the regional administration building. There, authorities were trying to organize their own rally, neither in support of Kyiv nor in support of the outraged masses. They tried to maneuver and survive in the difficult situation that came to be. The rally was organized by former leaders from the Party of Regions and the former governor. All official representatives were there – representatives of the church, social organizations, and so on.

It was during the rally at Lenin Square that Pavel Gubarev was proclaimed people’s governor. The most active participants there were small networks such as the Donetsk Republic, Russian Bloc, the South-East Movement and, a little later, the Eastern Front, Donbas Rus’, the Patriotic Forces of Donbas and so on. We marched in columns with Andrey Purgin, one of the leaders of Donetsk Republic. Many people carried Russian flags or self-made banners. The main slogans were: ‘Russia’, ‘Putin’, ‘Referendum’.

There was also a slogan about federalization. With time, that slogan vanished because even then it was clear that any ‘federalization’ would be with the puppets in Kyiv who had seized power.

Why ‘Russia’, ‘Putin’, ‘referendum’? Because here we were all really inspired by the example of Crimea. We hoped that we would also organize such a quick referendum.

We basically drowned out the organizers of that official rally on March 1 because we were more numerous and because the ordinary people that were brought to the official rally joined us and began rallying under our slogans.

Demands for election, referendum

The referendum question for us was one of the most important ones then. We wanted to obtain approval from the Donetsk Regional Council/ deputies to hold a referendum, like the one held in Crimea. We counted on the deputies’ support because we thought that if they represented the interests of people or territorial community of the Donetsk Region, then they must listen to and support people’s demands.

Unfortunately, none of them turned out to be ready to take the people’s side. That’s why we began putting forward our own leaders, in place of relying on deputies who proved incapable of rising to the occasion.

The whole power structure was paralyzed and that’s why it was not capable of using force against the protestors during those first days. Essentially, Donetsk became one permanent rally. Every day, during weekdays and weekends, people would come to Lenin Square for rallies. There were tens of thousands of people. It was a scale of activism I have never seen ever before.

Not a single participant of the rallies and meetings was armed. It was a peaceful, mass, civic protest. But Kyiv authorities had more or less settled in and become stronger over time and they did not wish to hear or notice us. They used the most primitive and ineffective methods of repression – terror. Those who rose as leaders during March were arrested, including the previously mentioned Pavel Gubarev (a former student of mine and a graduate of the Faculty of History, he has three young children) and Mikhail Chumachenko (my good friend).

Later, these two were freed through a prisoner exchange and returned after the Donetsk People’s Republic was formed. However, during those days, their destiny was an example of what could have happened to any of us, that any of us could have been administratively punished or repressed by the authorities.

The culminating point of this first stage of the development of the events was the night of April 6-7, when people lost hope in the capabilities and willingness of the authorities to negotiate and hold peaceful dialogue. For the third time since March 1, they entered the building of the former state regional administration. This time for good.

Donetsk Peoples Republic

Myself, I did not take part in these events in the late evening of April 6 because by request of Purgin, I was preparing for a meeting that would take place on April 7 with a representative of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, to whom I was to explain our position, our issues and our version of events. This was a political-diplomatic mission.

After that meeting with them, around 12 pm, I entered the building and saw a picture of mass, revolutionary activity. There were young soldiers of the internal security forces with frightened faces who were huddling on the staircases. No one hurt them and they realized that it was useless for them to do anything.

At 12 pm, elections took place, based on the decisions made during rallies by the participants of the first revolutionary authority, which was first called People’s Council and later renamed Supreme Council. And this People’s Council of approximately 150 people proclaimed the Donetsk People’s Republic.

During the overnight and early morning of April 7, in accordance with international legal acts and other documents, the declaration of independence of the DPR was drawn up and proclaimed. This is how the first political, institutional representative organ of the self-proclaimed republic began its work.

Development of the DPR

In April, our events began attracting attention. Political activists and leaders began appearing here who, in Ukraine, expressed support for developing relations with Russia and the Eurasian Economic Union. One of the most prominent figures who got ambiguous reactions from the activists of the first wave was the then-deputy (not any longer) of the Supreme Council of Ukraine (Verkhovna Rada), Oleg Tsarev. He became a prominent figure in April. Tsarev’s situation was a little ambiguous, because he is not from Donetsk region but from the neighbouring Dnepropetrovsk region.

It was unavoidable that people began appearing from other regions or other places because the Party of Regions and its leaders had fully discredited themselves as politicians and people’s servants. The visitors tried to become prominent figures and even lead the protest movement here.

Konstantin Dolgov showed a lot of interest. He is from Kharkov. Representatives of Kharkov came here regularly, as did representatives of large southern centres, including Nikolaev, Kherson, Crimea and, until their tragic events in May, Odessa.

Gradually, a common political course of the young DPR developed. It is still in the stage of development.

The process of forming political and government structure here turned out to be very long and uneasy. There was lack of experience and a lack of true leaders with sufficient charisma and capability for serious, positive action. It is a problem when people are active and there is an absence or lack of true leaders. It is still a serious problem. That is why support from Moscow and Russia was very important to us. But only political and ideological support, not military.

In May, also due to lack of experience, we didn’t stop Kyiv’s landing operation in the airport area. (Maybe we couldn’t have stopped them, regardless of the lack of experience.) Military action started in Donetsk itself. Even earlier, as of April 12, in the north of Donetsk region, military actions started around Slavyansk, Kramatorsk, and then Druzhkovka. Gradually, the DPR was being drawn into military confrontation.

The events at Slavyansk are associated directly with the name Igor Strelkov, who was at that moment the most known and most popular military leader. However, he didn’t have the necessary experience, he is mostly a theorist-idealist, not a politician or military. I, for example, would never take on leadership in a military campaign because I am also a theorist-idealist. I can only lecture or give talks and make speeches.

Reactions at the university

All this time, the DPR didn’t have enough time to reach out to higher educational institutions. Even though at the end of May, beginning of June, I tried explaining to Purgin that we needed to enter the university and take control because students could potentially rally to either side–Kyiv or the Donetsk people. It would all depend upon what DPR could offer them and how it could show itself. But no one would listen to me. Everyone was occupied with other issues, they didn’t have time for this.[1]

During June-July the situation would exacerbate with each day. Unexpectedly for us, Igor Strelkov and his military forces withdrew from Slavyansk and came here to Donetsk. Along with the insurgency troops and their families and wives came refugees. In the beginning of July, they inhabited the whole of the university residencies.

The previous university authorities could do nothing better than to call upon all professors and university staff to leave for ‘vacation’, in other words leave the city.

The shelling of the city began from the other side of the airport, an area that we missed and were not capable of forcing out the paratroopers of the Ukrainian Army. They began getting on our nerves and getting in the way of everything by shelling even some areas in the centre of the city.

But the technical staff of the university–workers, mechanics, plumbers and janitors–continued to work here all this time. The infrastructure of the university, which is a complex unit, had to be maintained.

(Professor Baryshnikov explained more of how the university functioned during the summer of 2014, including how he came to be appointed rector.)

The staff that worked throughout the whole summer didn’t get a penny of their wages for July, August and September. For three months, people didn’t get any pay. Only in October did we manage to get funds, but we could not pay salaries, only social allowances of some two, three or four thousand hryvnia [in the few hundreds of dollars]…

Today, we are transitioning to a dual currency system of rubles and hryvnia. Our students have begun getting their first bursaries. We are gradually entering, de facto, the Russian financial and economical space. This is more important, even, than our international recognition. Even though we are waiting and hoping that soon we will be both officially and legally recognized. But in order for this to happen, we need to strengthen our potential and expand our borders to those administrative borders that Donetsk Region previously had.

The Minsk ceasefire agreement of February 12, 2015

The agreement is not being respected either way. There wasn’t a day when its conditions were fulfilled. Primarily, it is the Ukrainian side which is failing to do so.

We are inevitably committed to expansion to regain the historic territory of Donetsk and Lugansk presently occupied by Kyiv forces… I want you to understand and pass on to your readers and your audiences that the objective picture, the objective reality, forces us to begin the liberation of those territories. You can call that expansion, but we must do it.

We need to control our water resources, which are in our north. We have deposits of salt, a strategic product which will help us enter not only the Russian market but the world market. The Severskiy Donetsk Channel supplies our whole former territory with water, and near Artemovsk there are huge deposits of salt. We could have a monopoly in the whole of Eurasia. And, of course, in the south we have the metallurgical plants and an exit to the sea through Mariupol.

Ideally, we need to consolidate all of Donbas. During June and July of last year, the first attempts were made to consolidate the DPR and Lugansk People’s Republic. Oleg Tsarev proposed a scheme to create a coordinating representative body that would act on behalf of both republics. Later, if everything went well, it could act on behalf of other republics. It was named the Parliament of Novorossiya.[2]

Political parties in Donetsk

There isn’t a single political party in DPR today. Today we have only social movements and socio-political associations—’proto-parties’. Based on the social organization called ‘Donetsk Republic’, it has been decided to create a party which would probably dominate here. Some leaders of the DPR have such plans in mind. They are planning a project to create a party similar to the Communist Party of Soviet Union during Soviet times. It will be a leading party called ‘Donetsk Republic’.

I am personally against this project. Because we will repeat the same mistakes and repeat the sad experience and therefore the unfortunate destiny of the late Soviet epoch and the fairly recent experience that we had here of one party [Party of Regions] monopoly and domination.

The intellectual level is not sufficient. There are not enough experts and professionals. A lot of former activists of the Party of Regions are already in Donetsk Republic taking leading or secondary positions.

I would, instead, like to see a truly democratic system, so that initiatives would come from the bottom, from territorial communities and even from working collectives. There should be political representation of all basic social groups of the population–from businessmen to farmers and workers. Otherwise, we will once again have a monopolist party which will control the main trade unions and professional associations–where all people will be administratively ‘invited’ to be members–and it will be in charge of youth movements. There will be a vertical range of power but not a horizontal one.

To follow the Chinese path [of one party rule], we need to be Chinese. The whole world divides into the Chinese and the rest. No, we are not trying to adapt the Chinese system. We need a democracy which, according to the before-revolution experience, will have horizontal lines of power and representation of territorial communes as well as vertical power representing those of the political right, left and centre.

State intervention in the economy

At the beginning of the events I have mentioned, socialist and semi-socialist ideas were very strong. But as of now, I believe that a mixed economy will be developed because that’s the only option. Private property and private business within certain borders are essential in the modern world.

We managed to achieve military success. Not victory, but certain success. We have resisted. We all understand that it would not be possible without Russia’s help. But Putin’s politics, I mean politics by Putin personally, turned out to be so unique, exclusive and subtle that Russia is not a direct participant of the conflict. And at the same time, it provides us with protection. We are under Russia’s protection. This is a very interesting fact for future historians.

Donbas as part of Ukraine?

In conclusion, I would like to say and emphasize, and maybe you can pass this on to your readers, that almost 24 years ago, Moscow, as the capital of the Soviet Empire, let Ukraine go and obtain its sovereignty: That was done without a single drop of blood spilled.

Therefore, Ukraine, the Ukrainian people, should treat Donbas as they were treated 24 years ago. They should act peacefully. If Donbas wants to live without Ukraine, either as part of Russia or with its own sovereignty, let it be. There is no point in trying to forcefully keep us as part of Ukraine.

Since Kyiv has not done this, which should have been done in the spring or beginning of summer one year ago, now we are objectively interested in the disintegration of Ukraine and a construction of Novorossiya on part of its former territories…

I, personally, was dissatisfied with the whole 23 years of our existence within Ukraine. I didn’t conduct any kind of subversive activities, didn’t form any subversive organizations, but I always believed that we would not stay as part of Ukraine for long.

Overall, the territory of current Ukraine–more precisely, Ukraine before Euromaidan–is a result of totalitarianism, of Bolshevik, communist, totalitarian policy. They are destroying monuments of Lenin, but he created Ukraine in its modern borders. One hundred years ago, Lenin said that Donbas should forget about being Russian. There is documented evidence of this, But the events we discussed before simply confirm that even after 100 years, Donbas hasn’t forgotten that it’s Russian.

This is not about ethnic purity or belonging, it is about historical truth. Donbas appeared as an historical product of the politics of Russia, as its economic, geopolitical and geographic product. Now Donbas is going through a difficult process of returning back to Russia, of that I am sure.

Sergei Baryshnikov is a professor of political science and former rector of the National University of Donetsk in the Donetsk People’s Republic.

[1] The National University of Donetsk formerly had around 16 000 students. Today, there are some 8,000. The largest decline of enrolment was in the departments of the humanities.

[2] Read more about the Parliament of Novorossiya in an April 2015 interview with one of its deputies, Aleksander Kolesnik.

July 1, 2015 Posted by | Solidarity and Activism | , , | Leave a comment

FBI Claims it Doesn’t Have to Share Records with Justice Dept. Inspector General

By Noel Brinkerhoff and Steve Straehley | AllGov | June 29, 2015

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has continued to stonewall requests by the Department of Justice’s inspector general for records pertaining to multiple investigations by the internal watchdog.

The FBI has contended since 2010 that the IG’s office lacks the legal authority to see documents related to certain matters, including grand juries, Title III electronic surveillances and Fair Credit Reporting Act information.

FBI officials also claim they don’t have to share documents related to two investigations of alleged whistleblower retaliation, or those pertaining to an IG review of the FBI’s use of telephonic metadata collected under Section 215 of the Patriot Act, according to the Project on Government Oversight.

The IG said in a report “delaying or denying access to agency documents imperils an IG’s independence and impedes our ability to provide the effective and independent oversight that saves taxpayers money and improves the operations of the federal government.”

“Actions that limit, condition, or delay access have profoundly negative consequences for our work: they make us less effective, encourage other agencies to take similar actions in the future, and erode the morale of the dedicated professionals that make up our staffs,” the report stated.

And it might become even more difficult for the inspector general to get information from the FBI. The 2016 Justice Department budget proposal does not include the section that now forces the Bureau to cooperate with requests from the IG.

Inspector General Michael Horowitz said such a move “could lead the FBI to believe that its conduct has been sanctioned and could cause other department components to conclude that it is acceptable to ignore the Appropriations Act and clear requirements of the IG Act and raise legal objections to the OIG’s access to certain records necessary to perform our important oversight function.”

To Learn More:

Watchdog Barks for Access to FBI Records (by Michael Smallberg, Project on Government Oversight)

Justice Watchdog Continues to Clash with FBI Over Access to Documents (by Charles Clark, Government Executive )

180 Day Report to Congress on the Impact of Section 218 of the Department of Justice Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2015 (Department of Justice Inspector General) (pdf)

Justice Dept. Report Details Clashes between FBI and Organized Crime Drug Task Force (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov )

July 1, 2015 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Corruption, Deception, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , | Leave a comment

After 8 Years of Delay, EPA Finally Agrees to Test Dangers of Monsanto’s Favorite Pesticide

By Steve Straehley | AllGov | June 29, 2015

31f233bf-35af-40f8-a56a-66b3c9853a6aGlyphosate, which is the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide, will finally undergo analysis for its effects on endangered species by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), thanks to the persistence of the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD).

The group has been trying for eight years to get the EPA to look at glyphosate, along with atrazine and two chemicals similar to atrazine: propazine and simazine. Glyphosate was found two months ago by the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer to be a probable human carcinogen and was banned for sale in garden centers in France earlier this month.

“This settlement will finally force the EPA to consider the impacts of glyphosate—widely known as Roundup—which is the most commonly used pesticide in the United States, on endangered species nationwide,” said Brett Hartl, CBD’s endangered species policy director. “With more than 300 million pounds of this stuff being dumped on our landscape each year, it’s hard to even fathom the damage it’s doing.”

Roundup appears to be responsible for the 90% drop in the number of monarch butterflies in the United States. The butterflies feed on milkweed, which has been just about eliminated because of Roundup use in fields near butterflies’ habitats.

Monsanto spokesman Robb Fraley said Roundup meets standards set by regulatory and health authorities. However, the EPA hasn’t ever taken a close look at glyphosate’s effect on endangered species.

Atrazine chemically castrates frogs and may be linked to increased risks of thyroid cancer, reproductive harm and birth defects in humans, according to CBD. “The EPA should have banned this years ago,” Hartl said. Up to 80 million pounds of atrazine are used each year in the United States on corn, sugarcane and sorghum, as well as lawns and golf courses.

The EPA’s agreement is only the beginning of a long, slow process. The agency has agreed to complete its assessments by 2020.

To Learn More:

Big Win for Environmentalists Will Force EPA to Study Glyphosate (by Elizabeth Warmerdam, Courthouse News Service )

Settlement: EPA to Analyze Impacts of World’s Two Most Widely Used Pesticides on 1,500 Endangered Species (Center for Biological Diversity)

UN Report Links California’s Favorite Herbicide, Monsanto’s Roundup, to Cancer (by Ken Broder, AllGov California )

EPA Sued over Not Protecting Decimated Monarch Butterflies from Monsanto (by Noel Brinkerhoff and Ken Broder, AllGov California )

EPA Approves Rise in Glyphosate Residue for Monsanto’s Herbicide (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov )

July 1, 2015 Posted by | Economics, Environmentalism, Science and Pseudo-Science | , , | 1 Comment

Scientists Baffled After Finding 10th Century Medicine that Kills Antibiotic-Resistant ‘Superbug’

By Jay Syrmopoulos | The Free Thought Project | June 30, 2015

London, U.K. – An ancient Anglo-Saxon potion, used to treat eye infections in the 10th-century, has shown the potential to eradicate the modern MRSA superbug, according to research.

The ancient remedy was uncovered in the British Library in a leather-bound edition of what is considered one of the earliest known medical textbooks, Bald’s Leechbook.

The thousand-year-old volume, containing the “eyesalve” treatment, was translated by Christina Lee, an expert on Anglo-Saxon society at the University of Nottingham.

In a video posted to the universities website, Lee explains why this particular recipe was chosen from the book after being translated.

“We chose this recipe in Bald’s Leechbook because it contains ingredients such as garlic that are currently investigated by other researchers on their potential antibiotic effectiveness,” Lee said.

The recipe calls for two species of Allium (garlic and onion or leek), wine and oxgall (bile from a cow’s stomach) to be brewed in a brass vessel. The instructions in the book called for the potion to be left to stand for nine days before being strained through a cloth.

“And so we looked at a recipe that is fairly straightforward. It’s also a recipe where we are told it’s the ‘best of leechdoms’ — how could you not test that? So we were curious.”

Lee then looked towards the university’s microbiology department to test the efficacy of the formula, recruiting microbiologists to test and recreate the exact recipe described in the text.

“We recreated the recipe as faithfully as we could. The Bald gives very precise instructions for the ratio of different ingredients and for the way they should be combined before use, so we tried to follow that as closely as possible,” said microbiologist Freya Harrison, who led the research into the formula at the University of Nottingham’s School of Life Sciences.

After closely following the instructions to recreate the exact recipe, researchers then began to test the formula on MRSA, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, cultures. MRSA is commonly referred to as a superbug, as antibiotic treatments are largely ineffective in treatment.

Not holding out much hope for the ancient potion, researchers were amazed by the results of their lab tests.

“What we found was very interesting — we found that Bald’s eyesalve is incredibly potent as an anti-Staphylococcal antibiotic in this context,” Harrison said.

“We were going from a mature, established population of a few billion cells, all stuck together in this highly protected biofilm coat, to really just a few thousand cells left alive. This is a massive, massive killing ability.”

The research team then asked its U.S. collaborators to test the formula using “in vivo,” a wound in live organism, and according to Steve Diggle, an associate professor of socio microbiology, who also worked on the project, “the big surprise was that it seems to be more effective than conventional antibiotic treatment.”

Any fears of the test being an anomaly were dissipated when three subsequent batches, each made from scratch, achieved the same results, according to Harrison.

The research team has replicated data showing that the medicine kills up to 90% of MRSA bacteria in “in vivo” wound biopsies from mice.

Scientists are not completely sure how the medicine works, but according to Harrison they have a few potential theories. There might be several active components in the mixture that work to attack the bacterial cells on different fronts, making it very hard for them to resist. Or, that by combining the ingredients and leaving them to steep in alcohol, a new, more potent bacteria-fighting molecule is potentially born in the process.

What is key to understand is that although people refer to the period of time this remedy was created in as the “Dark Ages,” ancient knowledge such as this cannot be discounted as holding extreme potential for the advancement of science and technology.

When we break out of the modern medicine paradigm, and realize there are numerous alternative treatments and therapies that have been used successfully for thousands of years, our potential opportunities for optimal health grow exponentially.

How many other amazing ancient cures have been lost to time and are simply waiting to be rediscovered such as this amazing potential medicine?

Jay Syrmopoulos is an investigative journalist, free thinker, researcher, and ardent opponent of authoritarianism. He is currently a graduate student at University of Denver pursuing a masters in Global Affairs. Jay’s work has previously been published on and You can follow him on Twitter @sirmetropolis, on Facebook at Sir Metropolis and now on tsu.

July 1, 2015 Posted by | Economics, Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular, Video | | Leave a comment

New Study Confirms: Sugary Drinks Kill 184,000 People Each Year

By Jake Anderson | ANTIMEDIA | June 30, 2015

According to a new study, the effects of sugary soft drinks are considerably worse than previously thought: they are directly responsible for 184,000 deaths every year. It is the first comprehensive study of the effects of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) on human health, and the results confirm what medical experts have suspected for decades.

Published in the latest volume of the American Heart Association’s Circulation journal, the research implicates sodas, sweetened iced teas, fruit drinks, and sports/energy drinks.

The study is entitled “Estimated Global, Regional, and National Disease Burdens Related to Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Consumption in 2010,” and it affirms that most of the deaths are from complications resulting from diabetes due to the consumption of “sugar-sweetened beverages” (SSBs).

The rest of the fatalities are due to cardiovascular disease and cancer, which are linked to 45,000 and 6,450 annual deaths, respectively.

The study’s author, Dariush Mozaffarian of Tufts University in Boston, says,

“There are no health benefits from sugar-sweetened beverages, and the potential impact of reducing consumption is saving tens of thousands of deaths each year.”

Further, the report states that economic disparity plays a factor, as 76% of the people who died between the years of 1980 and 2010 as a result of consuming sugary drinks lived in low-to-middle income countries.

Mozaffarian goes on to state that the research “indicate[s] the need for population-based efforts to reduce SSB consumption throughout the world through effective health policies and targeted interventions directed at stemming obesity-related disease.”

He conducted the study by comparing 62 dietary surveys from over 611,000 people in 51 countries over the course of 30 years. While the health effects of sodas, energy drinks, and other sugary beverages have long been suspected of dire health consequences, we now have definitive evidence that they are directly responsible for 184,000 deaths annually.

July 1, 2015 Posted by | Economics, Science and Pseudo-Science | Leave a comment

Moscow Halts Gas Supplies as Kiev Suspends Russian Gas Purchases

RT | July 1, 2015

Gazprom has confirmed the suspension of gas supplies to Ukraine from 10:00am MSK on July 1. Russia’s gas monopoly will not supply gas to Kiev without prepayment, no matter what price, said company CEO Aleksey Miller on Wednesday.

After trilateral Russia-EU-Ukraine gas talks in Vienna failed on Tuesday, Ukraine’s Naftogaz reported it would cease purchases of Russian gas starting from Wednesday as it didn’t agree on the price. The three parties gathered in Vienna to discuss the terms of the gas deal for the next three months as the previous ‘summer package’ expired.

The Ukrainian company stressed that Kiev would continue gas transit to Gazprom’s customers in Europe “in accordance with the existing transit contract”.

Russia offered Ukraine a discount of $40 per thousand cubic meters on Monday. The price of Russian gas with the discount was $247.18 per 1,000 cubic meters. The same price Ukraine bought gas in the second quarter.

However, Naftogaz refused to sign the deal, saying Kiev was dissatisfied with the price and the discount.

Ukraine’s wish to get more than a 40 percent discount is “groundless”, Russia’s Energy Minister Aleksandr Novak told Rossiya 24 TV channel on Wednesday.

The $100 discount Kiev is asking for, worked when the price neared $495 per 1,000 cubic meters, said Novak.

Ukraine’s decision to halt gas purchases from Russia is politicized, not justified by economic reasons, he added.

Last week, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Moscow could no longer provide generous gas discounts to Kiev due to low crude oil prices in the world.

On April 1, 2015 Russia and Ukraine signed a ‘summer package’, deal on gas supplies for the second quarter. The agreement replaced a similar ‘winter package’ signed at the end of October, 2014.

Russia switched Ukraine to prepayment terms last summer after the country’s ‘chronic’ failure to pay its massive debt. Naftogaz paid Gazprom $247.18 per 1,000 cubic meters of gas. The price included a $100 discount.


Russia prices gas for Ukraine at $247, cuts discount

Russia can’t give another gas discount to Kiev; price should match Poland’s – Putin

July 1, 2015 Posted by | Economics | , , | Leave a comment

Russia won’t go to OSCE parliamentary session in Helsinki – Duma speaker

RT | July 1, 2015

Sergey Naryshkin says the refusal to participate in the forthcoming OSCE session was meant as a protest against arbitrariness and violations of main principles of democracy and parliamentary politics.

The State Duma chairman announced the decision to skip the Helsinki session of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe soon after the Finnish Foreign Ministry announced on Wednesday that it had turned down a request to temporarily waive the travel ban and allow Naryshkin and five more State Duma MPs to enter their country. In order to participate in the event that begins on Sunday.

Earlier, Naryshkin submitted a draft resolution to the Parliamentary Assembly of the OSCE denouncing the very practice of sanctions against parliamentarians. In this document he also stated that obstructing contacts between lawmakers from different nations was against the basic principles of democracy.

On Wednesday Naryshkin said that the whole of the Russian delegation would not participate in the OSCE session “in protest against arbitrariness, against violation of the principles of democracy.” He added that Russia still planned to take part in the next session of the OSCE’s Parliamentary Assembly that will take place in Ulan Bator, Mongolia.

Earlier in the day Vladimir Putin’s press secretary Dmitry Peskov called Finland’s decision to deny entry to the Duma speaker “outrageous and unacceptable,” especially considering the fact that the visit was within the framework of an international event. Peskov added that he expected the Russian Foreign Ministry to give a qualified appraisal of this step.

In March 2014, the USA and the EU introduced personal sanctions, such as visa bans and asset freezes, on a number of senior Russian officials and leading politicians whom they accused of being “key ideologists and architects” of the policy towards Ukraine. As the relations between the West and Russia continued to deteriorate, more names were added to the blacklists.

Russia replied with its own blacklist of about 200 people known for their anti-Russian positions and actions. The Russian Foreign Ministry did not initially disclose their names, but they were published by Finnish press earlier this year after Russia presented the list to European nations for the convenience of foreign officials who did not want to apply for visas if they were to be refused anyway.

The Russian Foreign Ministry expressed disappointment in this disclosure, calling it a threat to mutual trust.

July 1, 2015 Posted by | Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , | Leave a comment

As Iran nuclear deadline passes, narrative battle heats up

By Sharmine Narwani | RT | June 30, 2015

It’s D-Day in Vienna, and the parties sitting across the negotiating table still haven’t ironed out terms to settle a 12-year standoff over Iran’s nuclear program. Expect this deadline to be missed. And prepare for a lot of hot air to fill its space.

The “hot air” is calculated narrative-spin from a range of players that seek to 1) scuttle a deal, 2) increase pressure/create leverage at the negotiating table, or 3) frame an upcoming agreement in language favorable to one side.

And the Western media serves as a willing handmaiden in this petty game. Journalists thought nothing of casting a global question mark over Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif’s pre-arranged one-day detour to Tehran – even though his six P5+1 counterparts were also off “seeing to business.”

Western pundits weighed in en masse after Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s June 23 speech, accusing him of rejecting key provisions of the Lausanne framework agreement and walking back from earlier promises.

“It’s not true at all,” says one senior foreign ministry official, appearing perplexed – if not skeptical – at these charges. “Iran is under severe pressure from Western media,” he insists, adding: “It’s not a fair trend. No one seems to care about what Iran is doing, what’s on the table. We just want a fair reflection of what is going on at these negotiations.”

If anything, the Iranians charge that the US team “seems to have experienced buyer’s remorse after Lausanne,” and backtracked on, or revisited, some already ‘resolved’ issues.

According to various sources, at this late date, US negotiators are opening up discussion points that Iran thought they’d already dealt with. These include access to Iranian military sites (which Iran has already rejected), some technical issues around the Fordo nuclear facility, research and development parameters, and the critical issue around the timeline established for staged sanctions relief.

Clearly, for the Iranians, one of the main objectives of these negotiations is the removal of all international sanctions related to the Islamic Republic’s nuclear file.

An official explains: “The sanctions-lifting is not a day’s job – we don’t expect this. The US needs to do some preparatory work to change the culture of sanctions. They have to inform the companies and financial institutions and remove the political and cultural bias/fear of doing business with Iran – the Americans refer to this as the ‘psychological effect of sanctions’ – and this needs at least six months of hard, hard work, including a lot of legal work.”

But the Iranians want the US to work in parallel and simultaneously on sanctions-removal alongside Iran as it undertakes its physical task of disassembling agreed-upon aspects of its nuclear program. Based on technical calculations from official sources, it will take Iran a maximum of three months to implement these steps.

The most significant setback at this stage of negotiations is in fact the insertion of the US Senate into the process. Post-Lausanne, the Senate passed a bill that demanded oversight over the Iran nuclear deal and so Congress gets approximately 52 days to fiddle with whatever gets approved in Vienna.

“It’s a massive setback,” says an Iranian official. “Even if there is an agreement on June 30, we have nothing until the Senate approves it. If Iran had passed a similar bill, do you think the media would be so silent about this development?”

“If we want to be fair, the sanctions removal process should start together, in parallel with Iran’s work, to establish trust. It’s doable within three months. Otherwise – what? We destroy the heart of the Arak (hard water) reactor and then the US changes its mind?” This is a sentiment heard from many Iranians interviewed.

What do the Americans say about this, I ask? “The US is saying we’re still thinking about this.”

The same lack of definition surrounds the much-hyped issue of access to Iran’s military facilities. In the past few months, Western media has highlighted this storyline ad nauseum – to the annoyance of the Iranians at the negotiating table today.

“We never accepted this military site access. Ayatollah Khamenei’s recent speech never established this as a ‘new’ red line – it was one of our biggest problems with the US fact sheet after Lausanne. The Americans created a problem for themselves by saying this repeatedly.”

Iran has agreed in principle on IAEA access based on the ‘Additional Protocol’ which leaves it up to the individual member-state to decide on whether to provide access to requested sites.

The protocol specifically states that “it is permissible not to allow” access – and that inspectors can only use this access for “local environmental sampling,” which the Iranians know full well can be done from outside a facility’s perimeters.

“Even the US demands ‘managed access’ of the IAEA when it does its US inspections,” says a source familiar with the nuclear organization’s procedures.

Says an Iranian close to negotiators: “This issue of ‘access’ is really more an issue that speaks to the integrity of the American position at the negotiating table.”

The thing about Vienna on D-Day is that it is packed to the rafters with journalists of every stripe, straining for the tiniest tidbit of information to get a reading on what is happening at that table.

They congregate until well past midnight in the hotel lobby where most of them stay… or inside the large white tent erected outside the Palais Coburg – site of the talks – next door.

Information is the currency of the media, and when the stakes are this high and on-the-record news is so scarce, every bit of information becomes “newsworthy” – never mind that much of it is purposefully flogged by various parties for gain inside the deal-making room.

It is driving the Iranians nuts. “At this stage we still have joint common interests otherwise we couldn’t sit at the table,” says one. “But the sense outside the negotiating room is that there is a crisis.”

And the media fuels it.

Just last night, for instance, an Iranian official shot down an Agence France Press (AFP) report on the Islamic Republic’s readiness to allow inspections of its military sites. He insists the article, which is based entirely on the claims of a ‘senior US official’, “deliberately distorted information to influence the negotiations.”

“We will never allow anyone to inspect military sites because they are not relevant to the IAEA inspections.” He added: “We have serious doubt about the intentions of those who are pushing for access to our defense installations.”

The Iranian government has, on two separate occasions in 2005, “voluntarily provided access” to the IAEA to inspect a single “suspected site” called Parchin. According to an official source, “we did it because we wanted to close – once and for all – the issue of the ‘potential military dimension’ (PMD), even though we know it’s a fabricated story and we knew the US knew it was fabricated.”

“These (the PMD) are not real issues. They are more a matter of the US trying to prove the credibility of past claims. It was wrong, they knew they were wrong, but they have a need to stick to the script… Kerry himself has said the PMD issue has been distorted ‘a little bit’ – to put it mildly.”

“We don’t care how much they want to be tough on the PMD,” says the source. “It is a security case that doesn’t have any end,” which is why Iran’s top leadership has drawn a firm ‘red line’ under matters that have no reasonable or logical relevance to the IAEA’s task at hand.

Iran’s few red lines are there for good reason.

Prompted by the IAEA’s suspicions, in 2008, the Islamic Republic provided information on their EBW (Exploding Bridgewire) program to the nuclear agency. One of the authors of this study was Darioush Rezaeinejad, a postgraduate electrical engineering student. “The IAEA said this has dual-use applications,” says an Iranian familiar with the case. “Darioush was one of five Iranian scientists assassinated later, in front of his family – the knowledge that he had got him killed.”

“We are not afraid of our past so we are ready to do any kind of activity to clarify this for the whole world,” he explains. “But only within a process that would not lead to the death of our scientists.”

Iran today refuses to provide information or access to 18 scientists, academics and military personnel the US would like to interview. Western media cites this tidbit as though it is a sign of bad faith negotiating – like the Iranians have something to hide. But ask Iranian officials about this sticking point and you learn: “The list of 18 is specifically an American demand. It was a demand already rejected by Iran before the Lausanne framework agreement three months ago. It isn’t even on the table – the Americans haven’t brought up the issue again.”

There are times in Vienna when an agreement seems further away than ever. Everyone agrees that the seven countries at the table want this done, the US and Iran – for different reasons – at the forefront of the ‘hopefuls.’

But when you look at the nitty-gritty of what is being discussed and how far apart the sides are on simple things like ‘process’ and ‘positioning,’ it isn’t hard to wonder whether an Iran nuclear deal is even in the cards.

The press corps huddling over lattes in the lobby may be better-employed researching articles on “what if there is no Iran deal?” After all, as Iran’s Zarif said just a few days ago, “If there’s no deal, it’s not the end of the world.”

Sharmine Narwani is a commentator and analyst of Middle East geopolitics. She tweets @snarwani

READ MORE: Iran, P5+1 extend interim nuclear deal until July 7 to win more time for talks

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What’s Behind ISIS: Zionism or Wahhabism? Debate Show

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