Read more of this story at Slashdot.
There’s still two weeks to go until HTC officially introduces its next-gen flagship phone. But hot on the heels of leaks telling you nearly everything there is to know about the upcoming phone, GSM Arena managed to get their hands on a leaked advertisement that really does leave little to the imagination. Australian wireless carrier […]
Meanwhile, the bloody confrontation between Syrian government forces and numerous extremist and terrorist groups goes on. Al-Qaeda-linked militants continue to kill civilians, organize mass extrajudicial executions, torture people and take them hostage. The goal uniting all Islamic radicals in Syria, for the sake of which they are ready to cruelly destroy everybody, including women and children, is to create a caliphate where Sharia law in its medieval form will govern everyday life.
The practical implementation of this can already be seen in some districts controlled by units of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). The international community was shocked by news from Ar-Raqqah in Syria, which had been under jihadist control for a year. “Fighters for the bright future of Syria” from the ISIL levy a head tax, or “jizya,” on all Christians who remain in the city defying persecution.
Moreover, Christians are prohibited from building new and repairing old churches and monasteries. They can neither place crosses on their temples, nor organize services outside, nor ring bells and organize sacred processions. Christians are deprived of the right to distribute spiritual literature. All these orders are forcing modern Syrian society, which has always been characterized by peaceful and respectful coexistence of different ethnic and confessional groups, back to medieval times.
Considering all this, the attempts of some of our foreign partners look even more puzzling. While discussing human rights in all parts of the world, they flirt with the Islamist groups in Syria and try to present some of them as “moderate” forces confronting “the cruel regime.”
Extremist and terrorist groups, particularly Jabhat al-Nusra, ISIL and the Islamic Front, are trying to derail efforts to conclude and maintain local ceasefires. They have repeatedly opened provocative fire and attacked convoys of the Syrian Red Crescent that were delivering humanitarian aid to civilians. Jabhat al-Nusra rebels have violated the agreement reached February 11 on leaving Yarmouk, the Palestinian refugee camp, and resumed clashes with the Palestinian people's militia. Indiscriminate mortar attacks by jihadists on residential districts of Damascus, Homs, and Aleppo are causing daily casualties.
In spite of this, the Syrian government continues to expand the practice of local ceasefires. To date, local ceasefires have been achieved in more than 50 districts and localities across the country. Another 20 districts are subject to negotiations between the Syrian army and militants. In these circumstances, it is extremely important that all international actors and opposition activists affecting the situation “on the ground” actively support this process, contributing to saving thousands of lives and alleviating the suffering of the civilian population.
We all should keep in mind that the Syrian conflict has no military solution and can be settled only by political and diplomatic means through the continuation of the Geneva process, an early resumption of which we strongly support. As we can see, the Syrian government is not in words but in deeds demonstrating their declared priority of combating terrorism and solving the pressing problem of ending the violence.
Gazprom’s $45 billion South Stream project, slated to open in 2018 and deliver 64 billion cubic meters of natural gas to Europe, is a strategy for Russia to bypass politically unstable Ukraine as a transit country, and help ensure the reliability of gas supplies to Europe.
The pipeline deliveries via the Black Sea are expected to provide about 15 percent of Europe's annual gas needs in 4 years time.
But to become operative, it needs crucial approval from EU legislators, as the Third Energy Package regulation has become a major stumbling block.
The regulations limit pipeline ownership and require access for other gas providers. The Third Energy regulation mandates 50 percent of the pipeline can be operated by Gazprom, but the other 50 percent must be operated by a third party, a condition Russian energy ministers do not accept, as Gazprom is the only company that has the right to export gas via pipeline.
Moscow broke ground on the South Stream project after securing agreements with Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Hungary, Slovenia and soon-to-be EU member Serbia but ignored the European “anti-monopoly” law.
Guenther Oettinger, the European Commissioner for Energy, said further legal talks on South Stream had been suspended.
"I won't accelerate talks about pipelines such as South Stream for the time being; they will be delayed," Oettinger told German newspaper Die Welt on Monday.
Following the EU-Russia summit in Brussels on January 28, Russian energy ministers said the European Commission had agreed to give the South Stream project a legal ‘OK’. (http://rt.com/business/eu-gazprom-south-stream-881/)
An energy standoff between the EU and Russia would have adverse consequences for both sides. Europe depends on Russia for one-third of its natural gas, as prices are much more competitive than US shale, and less risky than deliveries sourced from Africa.
OPAL and Nord Stream
Nord Stream is another Gazprom project to reduce dependence on Ukraine. Opened in 2011, the pipeline pumps gas under the Baltic Sea to Germany and the rest of Europe.
Due to the same anti-monopoly rule, the European Commission, on March 10, did not accept a proposal to withdraw restrictions on OPAL, a transit link pipeline, Vedomosti reported, with sources citing the political strain between the EU and Russia.
"The Commission aims for rapid clarification of the remaining issues and will work on this together with the relevant authorities," an EU spokeswoman said.
OPAL has the capacity to deliver 36 billion cubic meters annually, and connects Nord Stream to gas networks throughout Europe, specifically big markets like Germany and the Czech Republic.Gas discount no more
On Friday, Gazprom CEO Aleksey Miller warned Russia may have to turn off deliveries through Ukraine if Kiev fails to settle an outstanding $1.9 billion gas bill.
Overdue payments also forced the Russian gas major to cancel Ukraine’s discount on natural gas. The deal was reached in December 2013 with the Yanukovich-led government, and lowered prices from $400 per 1000 cubic meters to $265.50.
In the winter of 2009, deliveries through Ukraine were disrupted for 3 weeks, which left customers in Europe without heat and cost Gazprom (by their estimates) around $2 billion. Gazprom also stopped deliveries in 2006.
Last year, Gazprom exported 86 billion cubic meters of gas through Ukraine.
A plan to secure the Bundestag complex was prepared by the Federal Office for Information Security (BSI) and approved by the IuK, the parliamentary commission on information technology and communications, Der Spiegel magazine reported on Monday citing its sources. It is to be presented to MPs later this week.
One of the prime areas of interest for the BSI is posed by supposedly secure rooms, which are meant to be used for negotiations of officials related to confidential matters. The office wants to ensure that they are actually free of bugs, the report says.
They also want to check landlines in the building, because they can be used for remote eavesdropping on the parliament.
The BSI may also launch an awareness campaign for the MPs over the safety of their mobile phones. The German government has standard secure models supporting encryption of communications, but the deputies and their staff members mostly prefer conventional models, because they are less cumbersome.
The measures have been under discussion for some time, since documents leaked by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed that German politicians, including Chancellor Angela Merkel, are subject to the agency's surveillance. The revelation caused a scandal in the surveillance-conscious nation, which experienced serious infringements of privacy during Nazi rule and later under a Communist government in the east.
The Bundestag is located in central Berlin, not far from the embassies of the UK, France, Russia and the US, the latter reportedly being a base for American surveillance on Germans, Der Spiegel pointed out.