Russia Warns Could 'Reduce to Zero' Economic Dependency on U.S.
Russia could reduce to zero its economic dependency on the United States if Washington agreed sanctions against Moscow over Ukraine, a Kremlin aide said on Tuesday, warning that the American financial system faced a "crash" if this happened.
"We would find a way not just to reduce our dependency on the United States to zero but to emerge from those sanctions with great benefits for ourselves," said Kremlin economic aide Sergei Glazyev.
He told the RIA Novosti news agency Russia could stop using dollars for international transactions and create its own payment system using its "wonderful trade and economic relations with our partners in the East and South."
Russian firms and banks would also not return loans from American financial institutions, he said.
"An attempt to announce sanctions would end in a crash for the financial system of the United States, which would cause the end of the domination of the United States in the global financial system," he added.
He said that economic sanctions imposed by the European Union would be a "catastrophe" for Europe, saying that Russia could halt gas supplies "which would be beneficial for the Americans" and give the Russian economy a useful "impulse".
Glazyev has long been seen as among the most hawkish of the advisors to President Vladimir Putin but many observers have seen his hand in the apparent radicalization of policy on Ukraine since the overthrow of president Viktor Yanukovych.
Economists have long mocked his apocalyptic and confrontational vision of global economics but also expressed concern that he appears to have grown in authority in recent months.
A high ranking Kremlin source told RIA Novosti that Glazyev was speaking in the capacity of an "academic" and his personal opinion did not reflect the official Kremlin policy.
Glazyev described the new Ukrainian authorities as "illegitimate and Russophobic", saying some members of the government were on lists of "terrorist organizations, they are criminals".
"If the authorities remain criminal then I
Philly Reporter Hit with Wall of Snow from Plow
A Philadelphia television news reporter covering the aftermath of a snowstorm in New Jersey has gotten pelted by snow from a passing plow.
WTXF-TV's Steve Keeley was blasted with a wall of snow from the plow Monday morning while reporting live from the side of a road in Woodstown.
The station posted a video (http://bit.ly/1krv3ki ) showing Keeley never lost his footing. It says it's the 15th storm Keeley has reported on this winter and he's clearly a pro because he "didn't even miss a beat."
Keeley says he was 20 feet from the road, which shows how far plows can throw snow at high speeds. He jokes a reporter from another TV station must've been driving the plow.
Turkey PM faces popularity slide as graft scandal closes in
With local polls imminent, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan can still draw tens of thousands to rallies on the campaign trail, but a mounting corruption scandal is doing unprecedented damage to his image.
Voice recordings published online last week — allegedly of Erdogan and his son discussing how to hide large amounts of money — have sparked mass protests and creating rifts within the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).
Analysts say the tapes have the potential to hurt the prime minister at local polls on March 30, a key test of Erdogan’s popularity ahead of a presidential election in August and parliamentary elections next year.
“Even if their authenticity is still challenged, those tapes have definitively put the whole crisis in a different perspective by placing Erdogan personally in the middle of the storm,” said Sinan Ulgen, chairman of the Istanbul Centre for Economics and Foreign Policy Studies. “They will have a major impact on the prime minister’s popularity,” he said. If the party’s vote share drops too far, say observers, he may start losing critical support within his own camp.
“Centre-right Islamists within the party are very angry at the prime minister,” said Mehmet Akif Okur, associate professor at the Ankara-based Gazi University.
“If the AKP wins less than 40 percent, we could see mass resignations,” he said.
Eight lawmakers including a former culture minister have already resigned from the party, lowering the number of AKP seats in parliament to 318 out of 550.
“The Erdogan government has lost its legitimacy completely in the wake of the leaks,” said Dani Rodrik, professor of social sciences at the US-based Institute for Advanced Study.
“It is not just about the magnitude of the corruption, which still needs to be established by impartial courts, but also the manner in which he has responded: by further polarising the nation and inciting social conflict.”
The leaked tapes, which Erdogan insists are fake, surfaced just as the premier appeared to be regaining control over a far-reaching corruption probe launched in December against some of his key allies.
Erdogan characterised the probe as a direct attack by a former ally, the US-exiled Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, whose associates hold key positions in the police and the judiciary.
The combative premier responded ferociously, sacking hundreds of police and prosecutors and pushing through draconian laws tightening control over the judiciary and the Internet.
But the leaked tapes are the first time that Erdogan, who turned 60 last week, has been directly implicated.
The scandal has played out like a soap opera across the country, with Turks glued to Twitter in anticipation of new revelations.
In the first and most spectacular recording, a voice purporting to be that of Erdogan is heard telling his son Bilal to dispose of large sums of cash stashed in several houses.
Obama to Netanyahu: ‘tough’ decisions needed on peace
Tough decisions are needed in order to make peace with the Palestinians, US President Barack Obama told Israel's Benjamin Netanyahu in talks at the White House on Monday. But the Israeli prime minister insisted the Jewish state had done its part for peace, while the Palestinians had not.Continue Reading
Bahrain blast kills three policemen: Interior Ministry
An explosion killed three policemen in Bahrain on Monday during a protest in a village near the capital Manama, the Interior Ministry said, in one of the worst incidents of violence in recent months.
The United Arab Emirates said one of its police officers, serving in a Gulf Cooperation Council force operating in the island kingdom, was among the three dead officers, according to the UAE state news agency WAM.
The Bahraini Interior Ministry said on its Twitter account that a group of protesters had broken away from a mourning procession in the village of Daih and started blocking roads. The explosion took place as police were trying to disperse the rioters, it added.
There was no immediate word on what had caused the blast.
The state news agency BNA quoted the ministry as saying that the policemen had died "while confronting a terrorist group in Daih". WAM identified one of the dead as Lieutenant Tareq Mohammed al-Shehhi.
The Sunni Muslim-led island kingdom, home to the U.S. Fifth Fleet, has suffered low-level civil unrest since mass protests in 2011 led by majority Shi'ites demanding political reforms. Both the UAE and Bahrain are members of the Gulf Cooperation Council, a political and military alliance that also includes Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman and Kuwait.
In 2011, Saudi Arabia and UAE sent forces to support Bahrain's rulers and quell pro-democracy demonstrators demanding reforms. However, small-scale demonstrations remain frequent and often lead to clashes with security forces.
Negotiations between the government and opposition aimed at ending the turbulence have stalled.
Opposition groups, including the main Shi'ite group al-Wefaq, condemned Monday's blast and called on followers to ensure that protest activities were peaceful.
"They assert their rejection of any practice that targets lives and property and call on the people of Bahrain, demanding their just rights, to abide by peaceful means and to condemn these criminal acts," the opposition groups said in a statement sent to Reuters.
The explosion occurred as hundreds of Bahrainis marched in a procession to mark the final day of mourning for a 23-year-old Shi'ite who died in custody last week. The Interior Ministry said the man, who was detained in December and had been accused of smuggling weapons, had died of an illness.
Social media were flooded with pictures of the policemen covered in blood as rescuers tried to apply first aid.
Last month, a policeman was killed by an explosion at a protest to mark the third anniversary of Bahrain's uprising. Bahrain's Shi'ite majority has long complained of discrimination, a charge denied by the Sunni-led government.
The authorities say they have implemented some reforms and are willing to discuss further demands, but the opposition says there can be no progress until the government is chosen by elected representatives, instead of the ruling family.
A Wefaq spokesman said a group of masked men had attacked the group's headquarters with clubs and knives on Monday, fleeing when police arrived.