Tag Archives: Germany

Bus crash in Germany leaves several dead and scores injured

The crash was near the city of Dresden. Photograph: Matthias Rietschel/APThe crash was near the city of Dresden. Photograph: Matthias Rietschel/AP

Nine people have died and 40 injured when several buses crashed on a German motorway, near the eastern city of Dresden.

The crash, which occurred about 2am local time on Saturday, involved a Polish coach, a Ukrainian coach and a Polish minibus, said police spokesman Lutz Zoellner. He was unable to immediately provide details about the victims.

The German public broadcaster MDR reported that seven of those killed were traveling in the minibus.

Citing a preliminary police report, MDR said the Polish coach hit the rear of the Ukrainian coach and then broke through the median barrier, crashing into the oncoming minibus.

The Guardian.

Forbes: #Russian #Escalation #Imminent As #Merkel Plays The Peace Card For #Putin

“Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact No. 2.”Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact No. 2. © facebook.com

Germany’s Angela Merkel has the reputation of a level-headed pragmatist, who grew up under communism, and understands Putin’s KGB Weltanschauung. True, she is constrained by a coterie of German Putin Versteher, who, due to financial and ideological interests, take Russia’s side in the battle for Ukraine. Merkel regrettably has taken to serving as Putin’s useful fool with her incessant demands for a peace settlement with separatist leaders before Ukraine, supposedly, lunges out of control. Putin has lobbied hard to stop Ukraine’s Anti-Terrorist Operation. He seems to have found an ally in Merkel. I must agree with the conclusion of the blogger, Streetwise Professor: If Angela Merkel is the Bad Cop, Putin Has It Made.

Ukraine understands that Putin used the last cease fire to re-equip and fortify pro-Russian separatists. With Ukraine’s Anti-Terrorist Operation tightening the noose in Donetsk and Luhansk, by-stander Europe has no business pushing for a deal with “peace maker” Putin that he will never honor. For Putin, a cease fire is just a tactical trick to gain advantage.

For the last two months, I ruled out a Russian invasion of east Ukraine. (See Miles Apart and No Peace in Sight.) I felt that Russian troops on Ukrainian soil – as opposed to disguised mercenaries – would unleash biting sanctions and even military assistance that would be too costly for Putin to bear. I wrote encouragingly that the West, especially NATO, now more clearly understands that Putin wants a frozen war that leaves Ukraine permanently destabilized. However, now I suspect that Europe simply wants the Ukrainian problem to go away and is prepared to tolerate virtually any Putin malfeasance, short of regular troops entering the streets of Kiev. Putin, better than anyone, understands that sanctions are just cheap talk.

With the Ukrainian army tightening the noose around pro-Russian separatist forces, Putin is playing the peace card to the hilt, playing on the humanitarian concerns of a pacifist Europe, while escalating violence to what he perceives to be the limits of European tolerance. Following past patterns, Putin will up the ante when he is abroad. (Don’t you see: Putin had nothing to do with this. He is in Brazil, they will say.) Putin is ominously touring Latin America – an ideal time to strike Ukraine. Continue reading

Use privacy services? The NSA is probably tracking you

NSA headquarters in Fort Meade, MarylandNSA headquarters in Fort Meade, Maryland: Wikimedia Commons

If you use Tor or any of a number of other privacy services online or even visit their web sites to read about the services, there’s a good chance your IP address has been collected and stored by the NSA, according to top-secret source code for a programme the NSA uses to conduct internet surveillance. There’s also a good chance you’ve been tagged for simply reading news articles about these services published by Wired and other sites. This is according to code, obtained and analysed by journalists and others in Germany, which for the first time reveals the extent of some of the widespread tracking the NSA conducts on people using or interested in using privatising tools and services — a list that includes journalists and their sources, human rights activists, political dissidents living under oppressive countries and many others who have various reasons for needing to shield their identity and their online activity.

The source code, for the NSA system known as XKeyscore, is used in the collection and analysis of internet traffic, and reveals that simply searching the web for privacy tools online is enough to get the NSA to label you an “extremist” and target your IP address for inclusion in its database.

But the NSA’s analysis isn’t limited to tracking metadata like IP addresses. The system also conducts deep-packet inspection of emails that users exchange with the Tor anonymising service to obtain information that Tor conveys to users of so-called Tor “bridges.” Legal experts say the widespread targeting of people engaged in constitutionally protected activity like visiting web sites and reading articles, raises questions about the legal authority the NSA is using to track users in this way.

“Under [the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act] there are numerous places where it says you shouldn’t be targeting people on the basis of activities protected by the First Amendment,” says Kurt Opsahl, deputy general counsel for the Electronic Frontier Foundation. “I can’t see how this activity could have been properly authorised under FISA. This is suggesting then that they have come up with some other theory of authorizing this.” The findings also contradict NSA longstanding claims that its surveillance targets only those suspected of engaging in activity that threatens national security.

“They say ‘We’re not doing indiscriminate searches,’ but this is indiscriminate,” Opsahl notes. “It’s saying that anyone who is looking for those various [services] are suspicious persons.”  Continue reading

Foreign ministers agree on #Ukraine #ceasefire path

People grieve over the body of their friend, a policeman killed during assault by pro-Russian fighters the Interior Ministry headquarters in downtown Donetsk, eastern Ukraine Tuesday, July 1, 2014.People grieve over the body of their friend, a policeman killed during assault by pro-Russian fighters the Interior Ministry headquarters in downtown Donetsk, eastern Ukraine Tuesday, July 1, 2014. The rebels captured the Interior Ministry headquarters in a major city after an hours-long gun battle, a day after the president said rebels weren’t serious about peace talks and ended a cease-fire. (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky)

BERLIN (AP) — Foreign ministers from Russia, Ukraine, Germany and France meeting in Berlin agreed Wednesday on a series of steps for a resumption of the ceasefire in eastern Ukraine to de-escalate a conflict that has taken over 400 lives since April.

The steps include reopening talks no later than Saturday “with the goal of reaching an unconditional and mutually agreed sustainable cease-fire” to be monitored by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

In the declaration issued after the evening talks, the ministers said they welcomed Russia’s readiness to grant Ukrainian border guards access to Russian territory to take part in controlling two border crossings once the cease-fire is in place.

Fighting in eastern Ukraine has increased since the much-violated 10-day cease-fire expired late Monday. On Wednesday, four Ukrainian troops were killed as government forces carried out more than 100 attacks on rebel positions, a military official said.  Continue reading

Ukraine leaders meet security chiefs as end of ceasefire approaches

Merkel, Poroshenko and PutinPutin, Poroshenko, Hollande and Merkel discussed the situation in Ukraine.

(Reuters) – Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko called a meeting of his security chiefs on Monday to decide whether to extend a shaky ceasefire in the war against separatists that was due to lapse at 10 p.m. (1500 ET).

Poroshenko went into a session of the national security and defense council after four-way telephone discussions with the leaders of Germany, France and Russia aimed at helping end the situation in Ukraine’s Russian-speaking east where government forces have been battling pro-Russian separatists since April.

Earlier, the French president’s office said Poroshenko and Russia’s Vladimir Putin had agreed to work on a new ceasefire between the opposing sides, work to set up effective border controls and free more hostages and prisoners on both sides.

There was no word from the Ukrainians on how the talks went.

But as Poroshenko began meeting his security chiefs he was facing calls from some of them not to extend the ceasefire beyond the Monday 10 p.m. deadline because of Ukrainian military losses in the past seven days.

Before going into the meeting, Vitaly Yarema, the prosecutor-general, said: “We have to end this and clean our territory of terrorists and give people the chance of living in a normal country.”

Poroshenko extended the original week-long ceasefire by 72 hours last Friday at the urging of the West and Russia, but many on the government side say the separatists are using the time to re-group and rearm.

At least 18 Ukrainian members of the military, including nine on board a helicopter downed by the rebels on June 24, are reported to have been killed during the ceasefire.

After what French President Francois Hollande said was a long conversation also involving German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Poroshenko and Putin agreed to work on a ceasefire between separatists and the Ukrainian authorities and on quickly setting up effective border controls, his office said.

Putin and Poroshenko also agreed to work on freeing more hostages and prisoners and the organization of “substantial tripartite negotiations”, according to the statement.

Poroshenko had urged Putin on Sunday to strengthen Russian control over its borders to prevent militants and arms entering Ukraine after violence led to breaches of a truce there.

The European Union, which signed a landmark free-trade pact with Ukraine on Friday, has warned it could impose more sanctions unless pro-Russian rebels act to wind down the crisis in the east of the country by Monday.

Putin again urged that the ceasefire in eastern Ukraine be extended and a control mechanism to monitor the truce set up, with the participation of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe, the Kremlin said in a separate statement after the talks.

“The leaders spoke in favor of convening a third round of consultations between Kiev and south-eastern regions as soon as possible,” it added.

Hollande’s office said Russia’s and Ukraine’s foreign ministers would be in touch later and that a contact group on Ukraine would meet to discuss implementing agreed moves.

Speaking after the presidents’ call, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told Russian state TV that Moscow was ready to allow monitors from the OSCE security and rights watchdog and Ukraine’s border guards to the Russian side of the border for joint control.

(Reporting by Ingrid Melander in Paris; and Gabriela Baczynska in Moscow, Additional reporting by Elizabeth Pineau in Paris; Writing by Richard Balmforth; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)