Billionaire irony….writ large

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This week the skies above Switzerland will be crammed full of private jets as billionaires and world leaders attend the annual World Economic Forum in Davos.
There is set to be twice as many jets as normal in the airspace as those attending the meeting insist on travelling in style.
Around 1,700 private flights are predicted over the course of the week, a five per cent rise on last year for the 2014 forum.

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Russia gears up in the Arctic

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Russia has started moving troops towards a new military installation that’s 31 miles from the Finnish border, Newsweek reports, citing a press statement from Russian admiral Vladimir Korolev.

As of January 13, approximately 800 servicemen from Russia’s Northern Fleet had been stationed in the Russian town of Alakurtti, in the Murmansk region. Alakurtti is due to become one of Russia’s key strongholds in its quest to fortify its position and influence over the Arctic region.

The rest of Russia’s Northern Fleet — which includes 3,000 ground troops trained for combat in Arctic conditions backed by 39 ships and 45 submarines — will be stationed there “soon”.

Finnish news network YLE confirms that Russia has reopened the military base in Alakurtti. The base had previously been shut down in 2009, but was now being retrofitted to fit a garrison of 3,000 radioelectronics experts.

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Sometimes, photos can lie….

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From the photo, it appears that French President Francois Hollande, British Prime Minister David Cameron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and the other world leaders gathered for the Paris unity march were leading the massive crowd to the Grand Synagogue.

Now, a different perspective on the leader’s portion of the march has emerged in the form of a wide shot displayed on French TV news reports.

It shows that the front line of leaders was followed by just over a dozen rows other dignitaries and officials – after which there was a large security presence maintaining a significant gap with the throngs of other marchers.

The measure was presumably taken for security reasons – but political commentators have suggested that it raises doubts as to whether the leaders were really part of the march at all.

The FT’s Middle East correspondent Borzou Daragahi commented: “Seems world leaders didn’t “lead” Charlie Hebdo marchers in Paris but conducted photo op on empty, guarded street.”

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Iran begins to buckle under Sanctions and Low Oil Price

Iranian President Rouhani appears to be grasping at straws as the Iranian economy feels the twin crushing effects of oil prices in the mid $40s and sanctions that are actually beginning to bite. Even when the Obama administration eased sanctions on Iran unilaterally in mid 2014 enough damage had already been done to enable the remaining sanctions really bite deep into the underbelly of the Iranian economy.

Just as Iran appeared to be getting used to the sanction regime something more terrible befell them. The price of oil tumbled by almost 60% and suddenly the available cash, to finance Iran’s dash towards nuclear arms, bankrolling a significant regional defence force and keeping a restive population quiescent, appeared not enough. With a radical Shi’a ‘Twelver Cult’ baying for Israeli blood and a power hungry Iranian Republican Guard questioning and second guessing  Rouhini’s every move, something had to give.

That something was reflected in a sudden determination by Rouhani to attempt to finalise the much extended and apparently fruitless set of Nuclear negotiations with the West. Continue reading

Ignoring facts, now a lifestyle choice

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Not to be out done by the UN Secretary General, the U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has shown that he can actually get his head even deeper into the sand…..with both elbows in his ears, no less it seems!

Speaking from Paris, Holder said in a series of interviews with the Sunday morning news shows in Washington, that investigators at this point don’t have “any credible information” to determine which terrorist group was responsible for the attacks in Paris.

He also said the White House will hold a summit Feb. 18 in Washington on terrorism.

Maybe they should invite Al Qaeda to the meeting to help them determine who is responsible for the attacks. The Al Qaeda branch in Yemen, yesterday, said it had directed the attack by two brothers against a newspaper that lampooned Islam and other religions, and the gunman in the hostage-taking at a kosher market, who was seen in a new video pledging allegiance to the Islamic State group.

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