Saturday, July 16, 2016

CIA warns change of borders in the Balkans

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In an interview to the Serbian newspaper "Vecernje Novosti", former deputy chief of the CIA, Steven Meyer, said that borders between Bosnia, Kosovo and Macedonia will son change.

According to Meyer, the country with the highest risk in the Balkans is Macedonia, not only because of the problems between the Orthodox Macedonians and Albanians, but also because of the problems between Orthodox Macedonians themselves.

Meyer spoke about the situation in Bosnia and Republika Srpska, as well as the 21st anniversary of the "Storm" operation which set free parts of Croatia occupied by Serbs.

He notes that Republika Srpska will survive, but in another form, while adding that there is no change in the US policy towards Kosovo.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Military Aircraft Stop Flights Above Ankara as Coup Attempt Fails in Turkey

Turkish Air Force F-16 fighter jet

© AP Photo/ Anatolia, Kenan Gurbuz
Middle East

Military aircraft have stopped flying above Ankara as relative calm emerged in the city following the failed attempted coup, a RIA Novosti correspondent reports.

ANKARA (Sputnik) – The intensity of fire exchanges at the parliament building is going down and no explosions have been heard in Ankara the past hour, according to the correspondent. According to the Ankara prosecutor’s office, at least 60 people were killed amid the military coup attempt in Turkey, 42 of them died in Ankara. The victims include civilians and military servicemen.

Military Coup Attempt Underway in Turkey

Police officers stand guard near the Turkish military headquarters in Ankara, Turkey.

© REN TV . Tumay Berkin
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The Turkish military claims it has taken over the government and seized all power in the country.

In a statement read on television, Turkish General Staff announced that "Turkish Armed Forces took full control of power." Earlier in the day, military vehicles, soldiers, and security forces were deployed on the streets of Istanbul and the capital of Ankara. Military jets and helicopters were seen flying over both major cities. Gunfire has been reported in the capital of Ankara. Bridges leading over the Bosphorus out of Istanbul have also been closed. A blast has been heard in Ankara.
The Turkish military is currently led by General Hulusi Akar, however Turkish Anadolu news agency reports that he has been taken hostage by the military.
Turkish Chief of the General Staff Hulusi Akar
© Wikipedia/
Turkish Chief of the General Staff Hulusi Akar
According to Justice Minister Bozdag, the government prosecutor's office in Ankara and Istanbul has opened an investigation into the actions of the rebels.
"I consider it necessary to reassure our citizens that the government has taken and continues to undertake all necessary steps," he said.
Prime Minister Binali Yildirim went on national television to stress that some elements in the military attempted to overthrow the government, but "the government elected by the people remains in charge.This government will only go when the people say so."
"Some people illegally undertook an illegal action outside of the chain of command," Prime Minister Yildirim added.
It is unclear who is currently controlling the situation in the country. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is reportedly on holiday in the Turkish city of Bodrum.

Congress releases secret '28 pages' on alleged Saudi 9/11 ties

Story highlights

  • The secret document was part of a 2002 congressional investigation of the Sept. 11 attacks
  • The Saudi government has long called allegations of involvement unfounded
Washington (CNN)A long-classified U.S. report released Friday found that some of the 9/11 hijackers were in contact with and received support from individuals likely connected to the Saudi government.
Known as the "28 pages," the secret document was part of a 2002 Congressional Joint Inquiry into the Sept. 11 attacks and has been classified since the report's completion, despite repeated calls for its release. The document, which the administration finally delivered to Congress earlier Friday, actually contains 29 pages of material plus a letter from then-CIA Director George Tenet.
"While in the United States, some of the September 11 hijackers were in contact with, and received support or assistance from, individuals who may be connected to the Saudi Government," the document says.
The pages also say that the inquiry obtained information "indicating that Saudi Government officials in the United States may have other ties to al-Qa'ida and other terrorist groups," but the commission that authored them acknowledged that much of the info "remains speculative and yet to be independently verified."
Saudi Ambassador to the United States Abdullah Al-Saud put out a statement after the document's release Friday welcoming its publication, though he didn't address the details it contains.
"Several government agencies, including the CIA and the FBI, have investigated the contents of the '28 Pages' and have confirmed that neither the Saudi government, nor senior Saudi officials, nor any person acting on behalf of the Saudi government provided any support or encouragement for these attacks," he said. "We hope the release of these pages will clear up, once and for all, any lingering questions or suspicions about Saudi Arabia's actions, intentions, or long-term friendship with the United States."
"It should be clear that this Joint Inquiry has made no final determinations as to the reliability or sufficiency of the information," the report says.On the one hand, the report notes, it is possible that these kinds of connections could suggest "incontrovertible evidence that there is support for these terrorists within the Saudi Government. On the other hand, it is also possible that further investigation of these allegations could reveal legitimate, and innocent, explanations for these associations."
The report also criticizes the lack of effective intelligence-sharing in the U.S. government, highlighting an episode where a CIA memorandum "which discusses alleged financial connections between the September 11 hijackers, Saudi Government officials, and members of the Saudi Royal Family" was placed into an FBI case file and never forwarded to FBI headquarters until the memo was discovered by the inquiry.
It also says that there was a lack of emphasis on intelligence-gathering directed at Saudis in the U.S. in the time before the attacks.
"Prior to September 11th, the FBI apparently did not focus investigative resources on [[redacted]] Saudi nationals in the United States due to Saudi Arabia's status as an American 'ally.' "
But the report also references instances where the Saudi government was "uncooperative" in counterterrorism interrogations both before and after 9/11.
"A number of FBI agents and CIA officers complained to the Joint Inquiry about a lack of Saudi cooperation in terrorism investigations both before and after the September 11 attacks," citing one New York FBI agent who said "the Saudis have been useless and obstructionist for years."
The report details one post-9/11 episode where an FBI agent couldn't get the Saudi government to provide information on Saudi nationals despite providing copies of the subjects' Saudi passports.
Under pressure from the victims' families and lawmakers, President Barack Obama said in April his administration would declassify the pages.
Sources told CNN ahead of the report's release that intelligence and law enforcement agencies and the State Department had all reviewed and approved the release of the pages with "minimal redactions." But the report Congress put out had multiple inked-out sections.
Still, the release of the pages on Friday was welcomed by New York Sen. Charles Schumer, who has co-sponsored a bill, co-sponsored that opens the door for families of 9/11 victims to sue foreign states and financial partners of terrorism.
"Preliminary readings show that there may well have been Saudi involvement in the terror of 9/11 both in the Saudi government and within the Saudi country, within Saudi Arabia," he told reporters in New York.
"The families who I have fought for long and hard now will be able to go to court, and soon, and if the Saudi government was complicit in 9/11 they should pay the price to the families who deserve justice," he continued. "And they should pay the price so no other government will think of playing footsie with terrorists the way the Saudi government may well have done in 2001."
Jerry Goldman, a lawyer who represents families of victims in a class-action suit seeking to sue Saudi Arabia, said ahead of the report's release that his clients were pleased. "The families are happy just as the American people should be happy that information that has been kept hidden for well over a decade is finally coming to light."
One of those who looked forward to reading the pages is Terry Strada, who has been pushing for the right to sue Saudi Arabia over its alleged involvement in the attack. Her husband, Tom, was working on the 104th floor of the North Tower when the planes struck. The couple's third child had been born just four days eariler.
"The American people deserve this just as much as the 9/11 families deserve it, but we're the ones that are suffering by not having them released," Strada said.
The Saudi government itself had repeated called for the pages to be made public so that it could respond to any allegations, which it has long called unfounded.
"We've been saying since 2003 that the pages should be released," said Nail Al-Jubeir, director of communications for the Saudi Embassy, ahead of Friday's developments. "They will show everyone that there is no there there."
After the pages appeared online Friday afternoon, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence released a statement saying that their declassification and release did not constitute a national security risk.
But it noted that the decision to authorize the release "does not indicate the Intelligence Community's agreement" with the report's "accuracy or concurrence with any information it contains."
In the wake of the release, the chairman and ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee issued a joint statement endorsing the declassification of the pages.
Chairman Devin Nunes added, however, that "it's important to note that this section does not put forward vetted conclusions, but rather unverified leads that were later fully investigated by the Intelligence Community."
Sens. Richard Burr and Dianne Feinstein, the chair and top Democrat of the Senate intelligence committee issued a statement of their own, saying that they agreed with the decision to declassify the report. But they warned, "These pages include unconfirmed allegations and raw reporting and have been the subject of conspiracy theories for years."
They called for the public to review related documents from the director of national intelligence that "debunk many of the allegations contained in the declassified section of the report."
The concluded, "We need to put an end to conspiracy theories and idle speculation that do nothing to shed light on the 9/11 attacks."

Διαμαρτυρία των κατοίκων της Χειμάρρας 
Οι κάτοικοι της Χειμάρρας, διαμαρτυρήθηκαν χθες και παράλληλα απηύθυναν έκκληση στον Πρωθυπουργό Ράμα να μην τους κατεδαφίσει τα σπίτια. Κρατούσαν στα χέρια πανό όπου αναγραφόταν:«Κύριε Πρωθυπουργέ, μην μας κατεδαφίζετε τα σπίτια, μην καταστρέφετε τις ακτές!».
Ο Πρόεδρος του Συλλόγου της Κοινότητας Χειμαρριωτών, Νικόλαος Νεράντζης, δήλωσε αναφορικά με τη χθεσινή διαμαρτυρία: «Σε αντίθεση με την προπαγάνδα και τις απάτες του Δημάρχου Γιώργο Γκόρο, σύμφωνα με τον οποίο, μόνο πέντε ανεύθυνα άτομα, αντιτίθενται στο έργο του, που είναι δήθεν προς όφελος της κοινότητας, η κατάσταση στην πραγματικότητα, είναι διαφορετική.

Οι κάτοικοι είναι απογοητευμένοι, διότι κάποιοι επιδιώκουν να τους ληστέψουν, να τους διώξουν από τα σπίτια τους στα οποία ζουν από αιώνες. Οι κάτοικοι έχουν αντιληφθεί το βρώμικο παιχνίδι που παίζεται σε βάρος τους, γι΄ αυτό και απευθύνουν έκκληση στον Ράμα, ως Πρωθυπουργό της χώρας και ως γιο μιας μητέρας που είναι από τα χωριά της Χειμάρρας. Δεν μπορεί να καταστρέφει κάποιος, στο όνομα της δήθεν ανάπτυξης! Κάντε έργα, κάντε ανακαινίσεις, σε σπίτια, εκκλησίες, φρούρια, αλλά αφήστε τους κατοίκους να ασχοληθούν οι ίδιοι τον τουρισμό στα εδάφη των προγόνων τους».

Οι κάτοικοι από πλευράς τους, δηλώνουν αποφασισμένοι να αντισταθούν μέχρι τέλους, και πάνω απ΄ όλα, δεν δέχονται παζαρέματα με κανέναν που θα έρθει με βρώμικα χρήματα για να τους πείσει να εγκαταλείψουν τη γη τους.

Nice Terrorist Attack to 'Unite Russia, West in Fight Against Islamists'

A photo taken on July 15, 2016 shows a police barricade set up at the site in Nice where a gunman smashed a truck into a crowd of revellers celebrating Bastille Day, killing at least 84 people.

© AFP 2016/ Valery HACHE

According to correspondent from the German TV channel N24 Christoph Wanner, following the terrorist attack in France, Russian President Vladimir Putin will try to persuade the West to undertake joint measures in the fight against terrorism.

President Putin argued that the tragedy in Nice will become a catalyst for closer cooperation between the international community and gives an opportunity to cause serious damage to radical Islamists in Iraq and Syria.
"He [Putin] will insist on closer cooperation in the fight against the Islamic State [Daesh] and the radical Islamists. In the first place, in the areas where it is possible to cause really serious damage to the terrorists: in Iraq and — when it comes to Russia — in Syria," the journalist said.
Earlier, Russian Foreign Ministry's spokeswoman Maria Zakharova stressed the need to strengthen cooperation within the international community in the fight against terrorists and extremists. She expressed condolences to the relatives of those killed in the terrorist attack in Nice and called the attack a "thriller that became a reality." In an interview with German radio Deutschlandfunk, German politician and member of the Left Party Gregor Gysi for his turn called on the United States and Russia to ignore their difficulties and unite their efforts in the face of global terrorism.
Commenting on the recent terrorist attack in Nice, he said: "It is of course an absolute disaster and these are all innocent people who are either killed or seriously injured."
According to the politician, the international community should develop a common strategy against Daesh and make every effort to implement it, even if it would not correspond with the interests of Turkey, Iran and Saudi Arabia.
"And the first thing we need here, is an understanding between the US and Russia. But we impose sanctions against Russia, instead of saying, well, let us jointly move Assad's issue back and decide together how we eliminate the Islamic State," the politician stated.
At least 84 people were killed and hundreds of people injured after a terrorist drove a truck through hordes of people celebrating Bastille Day in Nice. In the wake of the horrific attack in Nice, French President Francois Hollande addressed the nation, announcing that he will extend a country-wide state of emergency and accelerate attacks on Daesh in Iraq and Syria.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

At least 84 dead, several seriously hurt in Bastille Day terror attack in France

At least 84 people were killed and several others were seriously injured Thursday when a suspected terrorist drove a large truck into a crowd that had gathered for a Bastille Day fireworks display in the southern French city of Nice.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but two sources, including a U.S. counterterrorism source who collects and monitors jihadist social media, told Fox News that accounts linked to ISIS were “celebratory” and their followers were told to use the hashtag “Nice.”
Initial reports said the man was driving a truck loaded with guns and hand grenades. However, a security source told Agence France-Presse (AFP) that an “inactive” grenade was found as well as “several fake rifles.”
The death toll was confirmed by French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve early Friday morning. A source told Fox News that two Americans – a father and his son – were among the dead in the attack.
Earlier, French President Francois Hollande said that children were among the dead, and said his country was "under the threat of Islamic terrorism. We have to demonstrate absolute vigilance and show determination that is unfailing."
Hollande also announced that he would extend France's state of emergency by another three months, until Oct. 26. France has been on its highest state of alert since ISIS terrorists killed 130 people in Paris this past Nov. 13.
French Interior Ministry spokesman Pierre-Henry Brandet said the truck driver was killed by police. According to AFP, the man fired his gun several times into the massive crowd of Bastille Day revelers before being shot dead. Images showed the truck riddled with bullets on its windshield
The Paris prosecutor's office announced that it was opening an anti-terrorism investigation into the attack.
Sky News and the Nice-Matin newspaper reported the driver was a 31-year-old Nice resident of Tunisian origin. According to BFM-TV in France, the man was known to police but not for terrorism. No other details were immediately available.
A U.S. official told Fox News that the attack was in line with ISIS, which has become "increasingly brazen" in its attacks as it comes under increasing military pressure in Iraq and Syria.
A 2010 edition of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula's propaganda magazine "Inspire" also called on would-be terrorists to "use a pickup truck as a mowing machine ... to mow down the enemies of Allah."
The horror began at around 10:30 p.m. local time. A local government official told Fox News that the truck was driving full speed when it hit the crowd on the Promenade des Anglais, a major boulevard along the Mediterranean Sea.
Damien Allemand, a journalist for Nice-Matin, said the fireworks display was over and people were getting up to leave when they heard a loud noise and screams.
"A fraction of a second later, an enormous white truck came along at a crazy speed, turning the wheel to mow down the maximum number of people," he said. "I saw bodies flying like bowling pins along its route. Heard noises, cries that I will never forget."
Allemand said people took shelter in a nearby restaurant, where he continued to hear people shouting for missing family members. He ventured out and saw bodies, blood and body parts all along the road.
"This evening, it was horror," Allemand concluded.
Nice-Matin posted an image of the truck on Twitter, captioning it, "The truck that drove into the crowd."
Another witness, Wassim Bouhlel, told the Associated Press that he saw the truck drive into the crowd, then witnessed the driver emerge with a gun and start shooting.
"There was carnage on the road," Bouhlel said. "Bodies everywhere."
Video showed men and women -- one or two pushing strollers -- racing to get away from the scenes. And, in what appeared to be evidence of a gun battle, photos showed a truck with at least half a dozen bullet holes punched through its windshield.
Graphic footage showed a scene of horror up and down the Promenade, with broken bodies splayed out on the asphalt, some of them piled near one another, others bleeding out onto the roadway or twisted into unnatural shapes.
"Help my mother, please!" one person yells out amid a cacophony of screaming and crying. A pink girl's bicycle is briefly seen overturned by the side of the road.
Nice's public prosecutor told reporters early Friday that bodies of the victims were scattered for over a mile.
Another witness, identified only as Chloe, told FranceTV Info, "We heard gunfire, a lot. A crowd came to us and told us to run ... We went into a tapas bar and hid in the bathroom for half an hour.
"We went out and again we heard people running and saying 'truck, truck,' so we hid in the bathroom for an hour. The manager took us out by the back door and then I went home."
President Barack Obama said he condemned "what appears to be a horrific terrorist attack" in the strongest terms.
"On this Bastille Day," Obama said, "we are reminded of the extraordinary resilience and democratic values that have made France an inspiration to the entire world, and we know that the character of the French Republic will endure long after this devastating and tragic loss of life."
Secretary of State John Kerry called the tragedy "horrendous" and said it was "an attack against innocent people on a day that celebrates Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity," a reference to France's national motto. Kerry also asked U.S. citizens in Nice to directly contact friends and relatives to inform them of their well-being.
Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump announced late Thursday that he would postpone the announcement of his running mate, which had been scheduled to take place Friday morning.
France's ambassador to the United States, Gerard Araud, characterized the events in Nice as a "terrorist attack."
"Our democracies -- France, the United States, our other partners, we are besieged, we face a terrible threat," Araud said at a Bastille Day reception at the French Embassy in Washington late Thursday.
July 14 is a national holiday in France that commemorates the storming of the Bastille prison in Paris and the start of the French Revolution.
Fox News' Catherine Herridge and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Διαδρομές: Χάονες, οι φρουροί της Ηπείρου Γλώττας

Oταν ξεκινάει κανείς από Αθήνα για Τίρανα, παρά την εδαφική συνέχεια και την γεωγραφική γειτνίαση των δύο όμορων χωρών, αισθάνεται ότι πηγαίνει σε μία πόλη πιο μακρινή από το Λονδίνο, το Βερολίνο ή το Παρίσι. Και μετά συμβαίνει, ό,τι συμβαίνει κάθε φορά στο τέλος της Μήδειας. «Τίποτα απ' όσα περιμέναμε, δεν έγινε. Και αυτό που γίνεται, δεν ήταν για να γίνει». Διότι τα βουνά, τα δέντρα και οι άνθρωποι της Νοτίου Βαλκανικής σε βυθίζουν στον πιο μύχιο εαυτό σου.
Όταν ξεκινάει κανείς για Τίρανα εκείνο που του ξενίζει περισσότερο είναι η εικόνα της  αλβανικής σημαίας. Το κόκκινο, μετά την γαλανόλευκη, καίει τα μάτια, και τον δικέφαλο αετό μόνο ως μεταβυζαντινό μπορεί κανείς να τον εννοήσει.
Κι όμως, στην Αλβανία βρίσκει κανείς πατρίδα, και φευ, βρίσκει πατρίδα του. “Εμείς είμαστε Χάονες” συστήνονται και  έχουν πάντοτε και κάτι από Μολοσσούς, σε ομορφιά και χάρη, αλλά το σάστισμα του νεοαφιχθέντα θα πάρει καιρό να κοπάσει. Τούτοι οι άνθρωποι, η περπατησιά τους, η ντοπιολαλιά τους, μόνο στο Ζατελικό σύμπαν υπήρχαν προηγουμένως για τον επίδοξο Βαλκάνιο επισκέπτη. Μόνο όταν συνειδητοποιεί κανείς ότι τον ουρανό της Αλβανίας, τον μετράνε με το πέταγμά τους και ηπειρωτικά γεράκια, αγαπάει αυτόν τον ουρανό. Και κάνει ειρήνη με την ερυθρά σημαία.
Κάπως έτσι αρχίζει ο ίμερος για την Ήπειρο, την Άπειρo Χώρα. Εκεί όπου τα πάντα είναι ισχυρά σαν φάρμακα, ή σαν δηλητήρια, ανάλογα με τα κέφια του ζυγού του βαλκάνιου φαρμακοτρίφτη. Η γη της Ηπείρου είναι όμορφη, σαν σώμα έρωτα, για το οποίο αισθάνεται κανείς ψυχαναγκασμό πιθαμή προς πιθαμή να σεργιανίσει.
Στην Ήπειρο, ήτοι την δωρική προφορά της λέξεως Άπειρος Χώρα, -στα μάτια των Κερκυραίων έτσι φάνταζε αυτή η αχανής έκταση γης, δίχως δηλαδή πέρας-,  συνειδητοποιεί κανείς ότι τα μέρη και οι άνθρωποι δεν είναι όπως τα κάστανα και τα καρύδια, που αφαιρεί κανείς τον φλοιό για να γευτεί την ψίχα τους. Δεν μπορεί να διαχωρίσει κανείς τον τόπο από τις ψυχές και τις παρουσίες. Όλα μαζί είναι και ψίχα και ψυχή.
Πώς να ξεχωρίσει κανείς τον Λογαρά από την θέα και το αίσθημα ιλίγγου, που τον κάνει να θέλει να φτάσει με τα πόδια κουτρουβαλώντας ως την κυανή ακτή. Πώς να αποκόψει την Χιμάρα από τα κυκλώπεια τείχη του Κάστρου, τα βουτήματα της Αντ. στο ελληνικό σχολείο, τις πυγολαμπίδες σε ερωτικό οίστρο και το δυνατό φως των άστρων την νύχτα λόγω ασθενούς ή διακεκομμένης ηλεκτροδότησης. Το Λούκοβο είναι πάντα η αγκρισμένη πασχαλιά, που το χρώμα της, κλέβει τα μάτια, και ο Άγιος Βασίλειος είναι το απείθαρχο γέλιο του Λ. κάτω από το θρόισμα των φύλλων του πλατάνου, καθώς πνέει ούριος άνεμος. Η Φοινίκη είναι οι διάφανες λεύκες και οι υπέρψηλοι πλάτανοι, και τα θαμπά τζάμια από την βροχή και την υγρασία.
Η ομορφιά του Βούρκου είναι τα παραμύθια των Βουρκάρηδων. "Δεν είναι παραμύθια, είναι ξενάγηση", οι ίδιοι σπεύδουν να διευκρινίσουν. Το Μουρσί είναι η νεροποντή και το χαλάζι, και οι ύμνοι των Χαιρετισμών στην πιο παράταιρη εκκλησία, σ ένα χωριό στου οποίου την πλατεία ανεμίζουν οι σημαίες και των δύο γειτόνων χωρών, "γιατί οι κάτοικοι είναι αγαπημένοι", και απέχει από τα σύνορα μία κουβέντα δρόμο.
Τα μέρη αυτά, όπου τα βουνά είναι σαν θάλασσες πράσινες και φουρτουνιασμένες, κι η θάλασσα σαν επουράνια γαλαζωπά βουνά, είναι οι άνθρωποί τους. Η φιλοξενία του Φρ., η ατίθαση οδήγηση του Β., ή μάλλον όλων τους, η ευγένεια του Ν., οι περιγραφικές κανονιστικού περιεχομένου ατάκες του Τ. Είναι η απροϋπόθετη φιλία της Ελ. ένα κλεμμένο πρωινό στους Αγίους Σαράντα, το “σκάλωμα”, όπως λέγαν την αισθαντική πόλη με τα πολλά σκαλιά, πριν από την βέβηλη ανοικοδόμηση.
Όλα αυτά και το βροντοφώνημα του Εθνικού Ύμνου από ένα τσαμπί ανθρώπων ομαιμων, ομόγλωσσων, ομόθρησκων, πάνω στο ακροθαλάσσι, στέκουν πάντα ακίνητα μέσα στον χρόνο, να επιστρέφουν εις το διηνεκές. Σαν τις κορυφές των Ακροκευράνιων που φυλάν μερόνυχτα ένα κολπίσκο που ομοιάζει με λύχνο και μαγικό λυχνάρι στις πιο παράδοξες θαλάσσιες ακτές. Την Χιμάρα ή Χειμάρρα, από την χιμαιρική της ομορφιά ή την ορμή των χειμάρρων που εκβάλλουν στην περιοχή. Ή από όλα αυτά μαζί.
-Σου ξεφεύγουν πολύ τα ρω. Και πάχυναν και σύρονται επικινδύνως τα σσσ. Επισημαίνουν επιμόνως, όταν έρχονται φίλοι και συγγενείς από την Ελλάδα. Όλη η φάρσα του ανθρώπου έγκειται σε αυτό ακριβώς το γεγονός. Ότι είναι αναγκασμένος να σφυρίζει την ψυχή του σε σύμφωνα και φωνήεντα, κατά το πώς έλεγε ο Παπαγιώργης. Συνεπώς, όταν η ψυχή πλήττεται από βαρυτάτη μορφή συμπάθειας, είναι λογικό να βαραίνουν και τα υγρά ή συριστικά εξακουλουθητικά σύμφωνα.
Στην Αλβανία γνωρίζει κανείς, του δωρίζεται, ένα κομμάτι της πατρίδας του, -η πατρίδα ως ουτοπία, η πατρίδα ως μη τόπος-, που δεν θα είχε γνωρίζει ποτέ, αν δεν είχε απαντήσει τους Ηπειρώτες. Τους φρουρούς της Ηπείρου Γλώττας. Η γλώσσα συνιστά ήθος, διαμορφώνει συνείδηση και διαφυλάττει ιερά μνήμη.
Ερωτηθείς με μία δόση υφέρπουσας ειρωνείας φίλος που απομακρύνεται από τα Τίρανα, -για την ακρίβεια, απλώς θα περάσει στην άλλη πλευρά της Αδριατικής-, τί θα του λείψει από την Αλβανία, απήντησε κορδώνοντας ασυναίσθητα τον κορμό του: Η ελευθερία. Έτσι όπως μας την έμαθαν από την αρχή οι Χάονες εδώ “στα ξένα”.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Obscure case involving Obama, NJ limo driver sends shockwaves through Albania

Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama could face prosecution stemming from an illegal donation to President Obama's campaign, passed along through  New Jersey limo driver.
Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama could face prosecution stemming from an illegal donation to President Obama's campaign, passed along through New Jersey limo driver. (Reuters)
A federal case involving a New Jersey limo driver, the most powerful man in the world and the prime minister of Albania has drawn scant attention in the U.S., but it threatens to rock the southern European nation's corridors of power.
On paper, New Jersey chauffeur driver Bilal Shehu was a big donor to President Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign, ponying up $80,000 for he and his wife to attend an exclusive fundraiser in San Francisco.
But Shehu didn’t bring his wife; he brought Edi Rama, who would go on to become Albania’s prime minister. The feds say it was Rama’s money all along, and a picture Rama got with the U.S. president gave his campaign back home a huge boost.
Shehu,of the New York suburb of Paramus, N.J., has not fared as well. He pleaded guilty June 29 to knowingly and willfully making foreign contributions and donations and faces five years in prison and a $250,000 fine when he is sentenced on Oct. 5.
In his homeland, Albanian political operatives have charged that the money was provided by drug dealers, and Rama's rivals are calling for him to be prosecuted.
“Edi Rama has committed at least three criminal acts … and personally profited from that,” lawmaker and opposition leader Eduard Halimi told The Associated Press after filing a criminal complaint against Rama last week.

According to documents filed in Shehu’s case, which was investigated by the FBI, he admitted to receiving the money from a foreign source via a wire-transfer into his bank account. He then provided it to a joint fundraising committee, disguising its true origin and conspiring to have a foreign national attend a campaign event.
Rama’s name was not mentioned in the case. The documents said that the “foreign national” was denied access to the event in San Francisco but was allowed to be photographed with President Obama.
The U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey said in a statement that no one from Obama's fundraising committee is accused of wrongdoing, and the committee has fully cooperated with the investigation.
“No one on the joint fundraising committee has been accused of any wrongdoing and the committee has fully cooperated in the investigation leading to today’s guilty plea,” the U.S. Attorney's Office said in a statement.
Shehu’s attorney says that no plea deal had factored into his clients admittance of guilt before the court.
"My client entered a guilty plea in open court and is not a cooperating witness for the government,” Alan Abramson told
Under the Federal Election Campaign Act, no foreign national may donate or spend money in connection with any local, state or federal U.S. election. The only exception is if the person has a green card and permanent residence within the country.
While the U.S. investigation is wrapped up, the story continues to roil Albanian politics.
“No Albanian today believes that Rama is not afraid of independent judges and prosecutors,” National Democratic Party head Lulzim Basha said in a post on his Facebook page.

NATO Besides Itself as Greece Signs an Arms Deal With Russia

Apparently it's not much of a 'united front' if Greece is looking forward to manufacturing Kalashnikov rifles
Originally appeared at The Telegraph
Senior Nato officials have raised concerns that attempts by Greece to forge a defence pact with Moscow could seriously undermine efforts to present a united front against further acts of Russian aggression.
Maintaining security in eastern Europe and former Soviet Union states is likely to dominate the Nato summit when leaders of the 28-member alliance meet in Warsaw on Saturday.

The summit is the first meeting of Western leaders since Britain’s Brexit vote in last month’s referendum, and Nato leaders are keen to demonstrate the vote does not signal divisions in Europe that could be exploited by the Kremlin.
But in what will be US President Barack Obama’s last Nato summit before he leaves the White House, Nato officials are raising concerns about deepening defence ties between Greece and Moscow which they fear could undermine attempts by Nato to present a united front against Russia.
Nato’s concerns relate to last month’s announcement by Panos Kammenos, the Greek defence minister, when he unveiled a new partnership with Russia to manufacture Kalashnikov rifles.
The Greek government says the deal is vital to prevent the collapse of the country’s defence industry. But in order for the deal to go ahead Moscow is insisting that Greece must first persuade its Nato partners in Europe to lift the economic sanctions imposed after Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014.
Mr Kammenos, the leader of the Right-wing anti-austerity Independent Greeks party, is viewed with suspicion by many Nato leaders following a series of outspoken comments.
Last year he threatened to unleash “a wave of millions of economic migrants” and jihadists into Europe unless the EU backed down on austerity demands, and caused deep offence to Germany by claiming “Europe is governed by German neo-Nazis”.
But it is Greece’s deepening defence ties with Moscow that are causing most concern for Nato officials.
One said: “It is essential that Nato leaders present a united front against Russia at the Warsaw summit if we are to deter further acts of Russian aggression in Europe.
“But the fact that a strategically important Nato country like Greece is trying to build its own relationship with Moscow could seriously undermine the alliance’s ability to present a united front to deter further acts of Russian aggression.”

US urges Western Balkans strengthen their democracies

July 10, 2016 Updated: July 11, 2016
TIRANA, Albania (AP) — The United States has urged Western Balkan countries to intensify efforts to consolidate their democracies.
U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland on Sunday started a Balkan tour in Kosovo and will follow with visits to Albania, Macedonia and Serbia.
She urged Kosovo to further its dialogue with Serbia and also approve a border demarcation with Montenegro, a key step to convince European Union countries to let its citizens enjoy visa-free travel, according to a statement from President Hashim Thaci's press office. The European Commission announced in May that it had proposed adding Kosovo to the list of countries granted visa-free travel in the 26-nation Schengen area. That is subject to approval by leaders of EU member states and the European Parliament.
Nuland called on Kosovo leaders to strengthen the rule of law, the justice system and the fight against corruption and organized crime as "fundamental for Kosovo's advance."
In Tirana Nuland is the latest to pressure the country's opposition Democratic Party to accept a draft of the judicial package, considered fundamental to ensuring that the EU will launch membership negotiations with Albania. The Democrats want to give political parties the power to make judicial appointments, while the ruling Socialists want no party appointees.
U.S. and EU experts have been directly involved in drafting the legislation, and the process has also been reviewed by the Venice Commission, a body of legal experts with the Council of Europe, a human rights group.
U.S. and EU ambassadors have held numerous meetings with political leaders and lawmakers.
Nuland stressed that the judicial reform "remains a high priority in the U.S.-Albania ties and for Albania's advance toward the EU," according to a statement from the Albanian foreign ministry after Nuland met with Minister Ditmir Bushati.
There was no change with the Democrats' stand on the reform package.
"This reform will be approved only by political consensus. There is no other healthy root than the political consensus. There is no other way," Democrats' leader Lulzim Basha told reporters after meeting with Nuland.
The U.S. before has blamed Basha for not compromising as Prime Minister Edi Rama has done.
After meeting Rama, too, Nuland told reporters she had "put forward a new proposal which endevaors to bridge the gap."
"This is a hybrid proposal which takes elements from government's ideas and opposition's ideas and is in fully compliant with the draft," she said, adding it had Washington's full support, without giving details but saying negotiators need "a little space to review."
Rama's Socialists need support from at least some opposition members in the 140-seat parliament to endorse the reforms.
A vote on the package has been planned for July 21, in time to allow the European Commission to decide whether full membership negotiations may be launched this year.
Albania, a NATO member country since 2009, was granted candidate status in 2014.
If the judicial reform package isn't passed on July 21, it may sink the government, delay the matter from further consideration for a year, or even trigger a new election. Ultimately, failure would result in no EU membership talks this year as hoped.
"Time is short," said Nuland, when asked what if the new proposal failed to convince Albanian leaders.
"I am American. I'm optimist by nature, of course," Nuland said. "As you know, I work for the 'Yes, we can' president. Again we say to all Albanian patriots and their leaders that you serve the people, so let them get the 'Yes, we can' answer."