Friday, February 27, 2015

First Photo Of 'Jihadi John' As Adult Revealed

The first known photograph has emerged of Mohammed Emwazi - the Islamic State militant known as "Jihadi John" - as an adult.

Showing him with a goatee beard and wearing a Pittsburgh Pirates baseball cap, the image is revealed in student records from his time at the University of Westminster.
It comes after the 26-year-old who became the masked face of the notorious terror organization was identified as the figure seen in several videos of hostages being beheaded.
Also revealed are the details of Emwazi's academic achievements during his stint at the university in London's Cavendish campus, between 2006 and 2009.
According to the document, he passed all but two of the modules in his Information Systems with Business Management degree, for which he was awarded a lower second honours (2:2).

The 27-year-old went to St Mary Magdalene Church of England school in Maida Vale, west London

Gallery: Jihadi John's University Academic Record

Mohammed Emwazi, aka Jihadi John, studied a computing course at university.

His file shows mostly middling academic grades for his course modules. He graduated with a lower second (2.2) degree.
Emwazi is believed to be the British-accented man who has appeared in Islamic State beheading videos.

Pictures have also emerged of Emwazi from his school yearbook in 1996

 The record shows he was awarded a "condoned credit; retake" status for modules in Business Information Systems and Managing Business Organizations.
An unnamed classmate told The Sun newspaper that Emwazi, who reportedly came from a devout family, was the only Muslim in the class and would demonstrate Arabic writing to the class.
A personal friend in university has described him as a very gentle man and the advocacy group CAGE said the Kuwaiti-born Briton was "extremely kind" and "extremely gentle" but had been harassed by the UK security services. 

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Jihadi John Identified to the Public

The masked militant first appeared in numerous gruesome videos put out by Islamic State, as Lucy Manning reports

The masked Islamic State militant known as "Jihadi John", who has been pictured in the videos of the beheadings of Western hostages, has been named. He is Mohammed Emwazi, a Kuwaiti-born British man in his mid-20s from west London, who was previously known to British security services. British police declined to comment, citing ongoing investigations.
Emwazi first appeared in a video last August, when he apparently killed the US journalist James Foley. Dragana Haines, wife of slain hostage David: "I hope he will be caught alive... He needs to be put to justice". He was later thought to have been pictured in the videos of the beheadings of US journalist Steven Sotloff, British aid worker David Haines, British taxi driver Alan Henning, and American aid worker Abdul-Rahman Kassig, also known as Peter.

(Clockwise from left) James Foley, Abdul-Rahman (Peter) Kassig,  Alan Henning,  Kenji Goto and Steven Sotloff
(Clockwise from left) Islamic State victims James Foley, Abdul-Rahman (Peter) Kassig, Alan Henning, Kenji Goto and Steven Sotloff

In each of the videos, the militant appeared dressed in a black robe with a black balaclava covering all but his eyes and top of his nose. Speaking with a British accent, he taunted Western powers before holding his knife to the hostages' necks, appearing to start cutting before the film stopped. The victims' decapitated bodies were then shown.
Earlier this month, the militant featured in a video in which the Japanese journalist Kenji Goto appeared to be beheaded. Hostages released by IS said he was one of three British jihadists guarding Westerners abducted by the group in Syria. They were known collectively as "the Beatles".

Mohammed Emwazi timeline:

  • 1988: Born in Kuwait, moves to UK in 1994
  • 2009: Completes computing degree at University of Westminster
  • Aug 2009: Travels to Tanzania with two friends for safari but refused entry at Dar es Salaam. Put on flight to Amsterdam. After questioning there, returns to Dover
  • Sept 2009: Travels to Kuwait to stay with father's family
  • July 2010: Returns to UK for short stay but told he cannot return to Kuwait as visa denied
  • 2012: Passes Celta English language teaching course
  • 2013: Changes name by deed poll. Tries to travel to Kuwait but is stopped. Disappears. Parents report him missing. Police tell family four months later he has entered Syria

In a news conference, Asim Qureshi, the research director of the London-based lobby group Cage, which had been in contact with Emwazi over a number of years, explained how he had been approached by the Washington Post for the story and detailed the difficulties Emwazi had had with security services in the UK and overseas.
Mr Qureshi said Emwazi, who is understood to be about 27, had been "extremely kind, gentle and soft-spoken, the most humble young person I knew". He said he could "not be 100% certain" Jihadi John was Emwazi although there were "striking similarities".

Journalists gathered outside a home in west London where Mohammed Emwazi is believed to have once lived 
Journalists gathered outside a home in London where Mohammed Emwazi is believed to have once lived

Emwazi's difficulties began when he travelled to Tanzania in May 2009 following his graduation in computer programming at the University of Westminster, Mr Qureshi added. He and two friends had planned to go on a safari but once they landed in Dar es Salaam they were detained by police and held overnight.
Emwazi then ended up flying to Amsterdam, in the Netherlands, where he claimed to be met by British intelligence agents from MI5 who accused him of trying to travel to Somalia, where the jihadist group al-Shabab operates. He denied the accusation and said the agents had tried to recruit him before allowing him to return to the UK.
US and British counter-terrorism officials discovered the identity of "Jihadi John" as far back as last September. The FBI, Britain's MI5 and other intelligence agencies used a combination of voice recognition software, interviews with former hostages and on-the-ground research in London to build up a profile of the man now revealed to be Mohammed Emwazi.
They have always declined to reveal the name for "operational reasons". Now that it's out in the public domain, it's emerged that Emwazi was well-known to MI5 and that it even tried to recruit him as an informer, years before he went off to Syria to eventually join Islamic State.
The practice by intelligence agencies of approaching jihadist sympathizers to work for them is likely to continue. It's believed both Britain and the US have informers inside the Islamic State "capital" of Raqqa. Yet this seems to have been little help in stopping the actions of Mohammed Emwazi, or bringing him to justice.
Emwazi later moved to Kuwait, where he got a job at a computer company. But on a visit to London in 2010, he was detained by British counter-terrorism officials and prevented from flying back to Kuwait, his friends said.
"I had a job waiting for me and marriage to get started," Emwazi wrote in a June 2010 email to Cage.

Asim Qureshi of the human rights group Cage describes Mohammed Emwazi as a "beautiful young man"
"[But now] I feel like a prisoner, only not in a cage, in London," he added, "a person imprisoned and controlled by security service men, stopping me from living my new life in my birthplace and country, Kuwait."
Mr Qureshi said Emwazi had made persistent efforts to try to change his situation: "We had two-and-a-half years of communications talking about what he could do to alleviate his problems."
He said he did not know what had happened to Emwazi, adding: "When we treat people as if they are outsiders they will inevitably feel like outsiders - our entire national security strategy for the last 13 years has only increased alienation. A narrative of injustice has taken root."

Emwazi was believed to have travelled to Syria around 2013 and later joined IS, which has declared the creation of a "caliphate" in the large swathes of Syria and neighbouring Iraq it controls.
A spokeswoman for Prime Minister David Cameron would not confirm or deny the latest reports, adding that the police and security services were working hard to find those responsible for the murder of the British hostages.
The University of Westminster confirmed Emwazi had left six years ago, adding: "If these allegations are true, we are shocked and sickened." The FBI went on record last September to confirm it knew who Jihadi John was. However, US officials said this month they would not name him as they believed this would be the best strategy for finding him and bringing him to justice. A spokesman for the family of Steven Sotloff said: "We want to sit in a courtroom, watch him sentenced and see him sent to a super-max prison."
David Haines's sister, Bethany, welcomed the identification, but told ITV News: "I think all the families will feel closure and relief once there's a bullet between his eyes."

Ask Maxy

Dear Maxy ,
Please help me bring awareness and education about organ donation . There are thousands of people waiting for a transplant and hundreds of others awaiting a replacement of a previously transplanted organ . Many organ recipients outlive the longevity of their transplant .
Please tell your readers that living organ donors offer better longevity than organs from a cadaver donor . Finding donors promptly is also less expensive and much better health-wise .
In recent years, a great deal has changed with transplants for both the recipient and the living donors; i.e. kidney transplants are now being done Laparoscopically and recuperation for the donor now averages two weeks .
Potential recipients use every resource available, but don't always find a match . Please ask your readers to help those in need . Sadly our family knows the importance of this from personal experience .
Ardis Brother 
 Dear friend,  Ardis' brother,
Your letter speaks, eloquently, for itself. My family also has had personal experience in waiting for a kidney donor.
Many people are on waiting lists for organs for years. Many do not live to receive one. As a living donor you can donate  one of  your kidneys, or even one of two lobes of your liver . You, also, can donate part of the lung, the pancreas or the intestines because the remaining portions stay fully functional . And finally, living donors can donate skin, bone, blood, marrow, blood stem cells and umbilical cord blood after childbirth . Organ donors  are 'NOT' charged, although sometimes there are  other  costs, such as  travel expenses . You can also easily arrange to donate organs after your death.  Please do some research for yourself and give it serious consideration.
For  more  information on organ donation , check out :  ( ). For finanical assistance, contact ( )

Dear Maxy ,
It has been said that love doesn't cost a thing, though it's possible that's just a good movie title . Whether it is money, time or energy, love does indeed cost . 
I have recently gotten engaged to my fiancee and I can't wait to marry her . We are now in the planning mode for the wedding and I realize that money is beginning to spread thin . 
Being a young working professional, I have decided to keep the wedding small but still invite my close friends from college . I am beginning to feel pressured to spend what I don't have because many of my friends continue asking if I will have an open bar at the reception . I won't ; an open bar is simply too much money for my budget . But I want my friends to have fun . Is it really worth spending the extra money for an open bar reception ?
Groom on a Budget 
Dear Groom on a Budget ,
Weddings are about love, hope — and toasts! They're also about priorities and how to balance them. Naturally, you want  to host a wedding that will be classy, memorable and enjoyable for all your guests .
Wedding etiquette suggests that your guests should not have to pay for their drinks. That does not mean that you should go into unnecessary debt . You may want to consider providing a couple ( or more) of complimentary bottles of wine and one bottle of champagne ( for a wedding toast ) for each table. You could also have a very large and potent bowl of  punch displayed prominently.
You can also have a 'soft bar' which limits the open bar to beer, wine and vodka cocktails ( or other specific popular mixed drinks). These options are commonly used these days when couples are on a budget . Another  budget friendly idea is to have a disposable camera on each table so the guests can snap pictures for you and leave the cameras on the tables after the reception. This can save a bundle on a photographer and you can put the extra cash toward the alcohol.
 Most important is for you to manage your friends expectations and above all, make it a beautiful day for you and your bride.

Dear Maxy ,
I've recently been invited to a company party as a new friend's plus one. I want to go, but I found out the company is an employer of an old flame, who I dated during high school and throughout college . We did not end on good terms . I don't really know how things would go having a face-to-face interaction . The new guy that I am dating doesn't know about the previous guy and I don't want him to ditch me because of my former relationship . This is the first time we are going out as a couple . Should I tell him about the previous guy and attend the party , or should I avoid the situation altogether ?
 Dear Betwixt,
You definitely should let  your new guy know  that  your  ex works at his  company. Without going into  excessive detail, let him know that  you two dated for some time when you were younger and it didn't end well . Honesty is always the best policy. Express your trepidation  about  going  to the party . Talk it through together and make a decision that allows you both to feel comfortable . If you decide to go, don't spend the evening trying to avoid your ex and spoiling the fun for you and your date. If you come face to face with him, smile, greet him politely and move on. It wouldn't be wise to engage him in conversation if there are still hard feelings.

Dear Maxy ,
Our daughter and her husband have two young children . Over the years we have been very close to our grandsons . We recently found out that our daughter has started a relationship with my son from a first marriage . Forty years ago, I gave up this son for adoption when he was 4 years old . This son contacted me when he was 28 . I told him I felt he should have contacted me earlier and that I did not want to start a relationship at that time . I never heard from him again . He is now 44 years old .
We phoned our daughter as soon as we heard about this new relationship and told her we weren't to crazy about it . She became angry . They are adults and can have whatever relationship they want . We didn't forbid it . But they phoned us later and left a message on our answering machine saying we are "dead" to them and will "never see our grandsons again." We could hear the kids crying in the background .
My daughter will not speak to us at all . It has broken our hearts . How do we get our grandsons back into our lives ?
Brokenhearted in Florida
Dear Brokenhearted,
I agree your daughter is being harsh but I am having a hard time sympathizing entirely with you. It would be helpful to know why you waited until your son was four to give him up. I assume you had a good reason, but he must have felt abandoned and frightened.
And why was there a time limit on his being able to contact you?  It must have taken time to trace you and longer to work up the courage to approach you. Your rather cool dismissal of him must have felt much the same as the rejection he felt at four years of age.
I can't say for certain, but it seems he made it his business to become acquainted with your daughter. Perhaps when she learned his version of the events in his life, she felt righteous indignation on his behalf and saw you in a very different light, which lowered you in her estimation. This, conceivably, could be the reason she denied you access to your grandsons; plus the fact that you disapproved of her having a relationship with her own brother.
It's possible you won't be able restore good relations with your daughter until you reconcile with your older son. Or she may, in time, realize she is hurting her own children by denying them their grandparents' love.
There is also another option, if you don't wish to wait for a  change of heart. As grandparents, in the state of Florida, you do have legal rights to see your grandsons and can be awarded court mandated visitation. You would have to see a lawyer who specializes in family law.
Helpful website:-
In cases where the whole family is in such distress, it is always advisable to seek counseling as a family group.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Sea levels along North East Atlantic Coast Rising to Record Levels

Satellite image

Sea levels along the northeast coast of the US and Canada rose by record levels during 2009-2010, a study has found. Sea levels north of New York City rose by 128mm ( over five inches) in two years, according to a report in the journal, Nature Communications. Coastal areas will need to prepare for short term and extreme sea level events, say US scientists. Climate models suggest extreme sea level rises will become more common this century. The extreme sea level rise event during 2009-10 along the northeast coast of North America is unprecedented during the past century.

Scientists at the University of Arizona and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in New Jersey studied records of tidal levels along the east coast of the US and Canada.
They divided the coastline into three areas: north of New York City, New York City to Cape Hatteras on the coast of North Carolina, and south of Cape Hatteras and identified a sea-level rise much higher than predicted.
Commenting on the study, Prof Rowan Sutton, climate scientist at the National Centre for Atmospheric Science stated, "In addition to long-term and gradual sea level rise, coastal communities will need to prepare for short and extreme sea level rise events and flooding." He said climate models suggest an increase in such events.
"There is strong evidence that the likelihood of such events has been greatly increased by climate change, and that we should expect more such events in the future."
"This example illustrates how individual extreme events are influenced by multiple factors - in this case climate change is likely the major cause of global rise in sea levels but regional changes in ocean circulation and wind patterns play their part."
"Sea level change is a complex phenomenon. The east coast of North America is quite close to an area of active, fast ocean currents, and so is quite sensitive to changing ocean circulation."
This sea level rise has implications for Europe and Africa as well as the US and could make European summers wetter and may influence rainfall patterns in parts of Africa and Asia.
You thought the movie 'Water World' was science fiction. Now it is a possible future

Obama Vetoes Pipeline....Republicans Just Getting Started

President Barack Obama gestures as he finishes speaking to members of the National Governors Association, Monday, Feb. 23, 2015, in the State Dining Room of White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
The Canadian Press - President Barack Obama gestures as he finishes speaking to members of the National Governors Association, Monday, Feb. 23, 2015, in the State Dining Room of White House in Washington.

WASHINGTON - U.S. President Barack Obama made good Tuesday on a threat to veto a bill to approve the Keystone XL pipeline, bringing the two sides in the long-running controversy to a rare point of agreement: their battle is far from over.
''The president is sadly mistaken if he thinks vetoing this bill will end this fight,'' the Republican leaders of the Senate and House of Representatives wrote in an open letter.
''Far from it. We are just getting started.''
The Canadian government echoed that theme: ''It is not a question of if this project will be approved; it is a matter of when,'' said a statement from Natural Resources Minister Greg Rickford.
''We will continue to strongly advocate for this job-creating project.''
Even the White House concurred that the issue is far from settled. It pointed out that Tuesday's announcement was a step in a long, winding process — not a final destination.
The president cast the veto as a matter of procedural principle. In his letter to Congress, Obama said the bill he was scrapping had improperly tried to usurp presidential authority.

The White House position is that cross-border pipeline permits are a matter for the president to decide — not Congress, which passed a bill earlier this month forcing the approval of the project.
That bill was delivered to the president Tuesday and he vetoed it on the very first available day.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest said the president could still, in theory, approve the pipeline. The veto doesn't necessarily reflect Obama's view on the pipeline itself, he noted.
''It certainly is possible,'' said Earnest said, noting the president would keep an "open mind" on the project.
"(This) does not represent a specific position on the pipeline itself... It just merely says that the benefits, and consequences, of building that pipeline should be thoroughly evaluated by experts and through this administrative process that has existed for decades.''

Activists hold a rally against approval of the Keystone XL pipeline,in front of the White House.
Activists hold a rally against approval of the Keystone XL pipeline, in front of the White House.

The administration couldn't say Tuesday when the process would wrap up. But Earnest said he expects a decision soon after the conclusion of the review by the State Department, which is leading the process.
There could also be many more twists and turns in Congress, as alluded to in the open letter Tuesday by Republican leaders Mitch McConnell and John Boehner.
Republicans will attempt to override the veto, although they don't appear to have the necessary two-thirds majority. The project only has support from a minority of Democrats.
One of those rare Democrats also hinted at future congressional efforts. There's widespread expectation that lawmakers might try attaching a pipeline provision to legislation Obama might find attractive, and difficult to veto.
''We're going to basically find a middle, if you will, and move forward,'' West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin told Fox News on Tuesday.
But the sides in this dispute can't agree on much else — not even basic poll findings.
Keystone XL supporters point to surveys consistently showing that a majority of Americans — or at least a plurality — support the project.
But environmentalists released their own poll this week suggesting most Americans don't really have a strong opinion on the issue, and would rather see Congress move on to other things

Monday, February 23, 2015

Friday, February 20, 2015

You will never guess where this snowstorm hit

An ultra-Orthodox Jewish man walks on a snow-covered street early morning near Jerusalem's Mea Shearim neighbourhood

Children play in the snow in front of the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem's Old City

An ultra-Orthodox Jewish man walks on a snow-covered street early morning near Jerusalem's Mea Shearim neighbourhood
Snowstorm hits Jerusalem and Israel's desert

 A heavy snowstorm has shut down roads leading in and out of Jerusalem and blanketed Israel's desert with a rare layer of white.
Snow also landed Friday in parts of the West Bank as a cold front swept through the Middle East. In Gaza, heavy rains that started on Thursday have been forecast for the rest of the week.
Jerusalem municipality spokeswoman Brachie Sprung says 10 inches have already been dumped on the city, with 4 inches more expected later in the day.
Desert towns of Beersheba, Dimona and Yerucham were sprinkled with white and residents of Arad proudly showed off a snowman. Yes folks, the global climate is changing and the world is topsy turvy.

A man prays in the snow at the Western Wall, Judaism's holiest prayer site, in Jerusalem's Old City

Ultra-Orthodox Jewish men stand on a snow-covered street outside Jerusalem's Old City

Municipality workers clear snow from the tracks of the light rail tram early morning in Jerusalem

A crows flies over the snow-covered Mount of Olives cemetery outside Jerusalem's Old City

Snow covers the Garden of Gethsemane at the foot of the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem

pedestrian walks on a snow-covered street early morning in Jerusalem

Oscar Pistorius: Prosecutors one step closer to murder conviction as anniversary of girlfriend's death approaches

See that clenched jaw, Oscar's feeling legal heat again
Prosecutors today confirmed they are pushing ahead with plans to appeal Oscar Pistorius' culpable homicide conviction for killing his model girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.

South African prosecutors - who want the Paralympian to instead be convicted for murder - revealed it had filed papers to the High Court as the two-year anniversary of Steenkamp's death approaches.
The Paralympic athlete was jailed for five years in October after he was convicted of killing his girlfriend in the early hours of Valentine's Day 2013. He was cleared of her murder, but found guilty of culpable homicide - or manslaughter. However prosecutors plan to challenge the decision, and have been given permission to appeal. They will now seek a murder conviction and, if successful, the Blade Runner faces 15 years in jail.
The National Prosecuting Authority spokesman Velekhaya Mgobhozi said today: “The NPA confirms that on 6 February 2015 it has filed a notice on the defence and then again on 9 February 2015, we filed a notice at the High Court of Pretoria and the Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein.”

Oscar Pistorius 'lost it' after learning he could still face a charge of murder for shooting dead Reeva Steenkamp, reports in South Africa suggested last year. According to the South Africa Times, Pistorius was listening to the hearing in jail via a radio.
The result is said to have sent him into a rage, a prisoner told the newspaper.
"He got up and stomped. He went straight to the gym," said the fellow inmate at Pretoria's Kgosi Mampuru II prison, where Pistorius is behind bars.
"He started lifting weights like it was going out of fashion. He is p***ed off.
"Who wouldn't be? He was definitely expecting to be out by August."

Pistorius was sentenced to five years in jail for culpable homicide but had been expected to be released on house arrest in August next year. Legal experts say that is now doubtful. Speaking before the Blade Runner's trial judge Thokozile Masipa last year, prosecutor Gerrie Nel said he wished to appeal the conviction on questions of law.

He claimed the legal principles applied in reaching the culpable homicide verdict were "erroneous", and that the court did not take the case's circumstantial evidence into consideration in its entirety. He went on to say that the court found Pistorius had the intention to shoot that night, but not the intention to kill. But Nel questioned how the athlete could not have foreseen the consequences of his actions.

Delivering her ruling on the prosecution's application to appeal, Judge Masipa said: "I cannot say the prospect of success at the Supreme Court is remote."
However, the judge refused the prosecution team permission to appeal the length of Pistorius' five year jail sentence.

Nel had argued that the jail term was "shockingly inappropriate", but Judge Masipa said she was not convinced by that argument and refused the application.
Pistorius' father Henke told reporters after the ruling: "I don't want to say anything before it's decided, but it shouldn't have gone this far."
A later statement from the Pistorius family said: "We note the finding of the Court and abide by the ruling."

Thanks PIC

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Ask Maxy

Dear Maxy ,
My fiancé and I have been together for three years . "James' shares custody of his 13-year-old daughter , "Chrissie."
The problem is , Chrissie will not sleep in her own bed . Until recently , she use to sleep on the floor in our room , but two months ago , James started sleeping in her bed . I couldn't take it , so I went back to stay in my place . Now that I am no longer in James' house , Chrissie sleeps with him in his bed . This bothers me .
James and his ex-wife tried sending Chrissie for therapy , but she told them it wasn't working , so they stopped . We have discussed this , but he continues to allow her to sleep in his bed . He doesn't believe there is anything wrong with it and also says he doesn't know what else to do . Chrissie is quite manipulative , conniving and sly . Even her hugs are fake . she is obviously competing with me for her father's attention .
I feel guilty not liking this girl . I understand that divorce is hard on children , but this is ridiculous .
Soon -To-Be-Stepmom 
Dear  Soon-To-Be-Step-Mom,
The fear of sleeping alone is a very real phobia in children. It is related to monophobia (fear of being alone). It comes from a deep seated anxiety, sometimes separation anxiety, and should be treated by a qualified child therapist or child psychologist. Hypnosis has also been shown to be helpful.
You can also do things at home like: redecorate her room in any color or way she likes and make it very comfortable...keep soft lighting on at night. Let her have a small TV in her room that she can keep on low volume all night, perhaps the cooking channel or 24 hour news...hearing human voices or ambient sounds will keep her distracted from her fear. Get her in the habit of reading light fiction or something funny in bed to  make her sleepy and have a relaxing bed time routine ( e.g.: a warm bath and hot chocolate). To start, you could let her sleep near your bedroom door with your door open and gradually make the transition.
On the other hand, Chrissie  may  be manipulating  her  parents  out of  insecurity  and  simply because she can . But her  parents  are  the  real  problem . They are  allowing  Chrissie to control  the family  dynamic.  At thirteen, it is inappropriate for her to sleep with her single dad. She needs her parents to be in charge, and instead, they have given her the reins . The therapist will no doubt advise that the family take counseling together so that James and his ex-wife understand  how much effort  and consistency are required for their daughter 's sake .
This problem has already driven you away because James handled it badly and did not take you into consideration or the way you feel about it. If  you still intend  to marry James, insist on proper therapy .

Dear maxy , 
I am 26-years-old and have been in a wonderful relationship for four years . "Cody" is my best friend and we are extremely compatible .
Here's the problem : His sex drive could run circles around mine . Sex is the only way he feels appreciated , loved and needed . Cuddles and kisses don't sate his desire . This puts immense pressure on me to accommodate him . and I am starting to resent it .
If Cody does something sweet for me , such as taking me to dinner , he will make a causal joke about how I should thank him in the bedroom . I have sat his down before and told him how his comments make me feel and that I don't like the emphasis he puts on sex . He either brushes it off , saying I'm too sensitive , or gets upset and says I should do the things for him that makes his happy .
I love him and want to make him happy , but shouldn't that go both ways ? I don't want to to feel sex is his favorite form of currency . Any advice ?
Dear Orlando ,
The  fact  that Cody likes  sex  and  prefers  it to other  things is  neither unusual  nor  worrisome . But I don't  like the way he brushes  off your  concerns, blaming  you for  being too "sensitive." This is an indication  that Cody  is immature  and dismissive of  your  feelings . Pressuring  you is a form of controlling  the relationship and he definitely is using sex as currency . You may think Cody is terrific and your best friend now, but over time, these issues will start to create a rift between you . Sexual compatibility issues don't disappear. In fact, they tend to continue to grow and become more frustrating and stressful for both partners; especially compounded with Cody's immaturity and insensitivity to you.
 If  you are  determined  to stay with Cody , you must get couples' counseling  to see whether  you can come to a compromise and save your relationship .

Dear Maxy,
I am 70 years old , but still enjoy an active life with numerous outdoor activities . My problem is "Ralph" whom I've known for 50 years .
When he has nothing else to do , Ralph phones me to talk ad nauseam about all his health issues , ailments , pharmaceuticals , etc. He never asks how I'm doing , but immediately starts cataloging his myriad problems , none of which are critical .
I have a few issues myself , but I never discuss them with anyone because I cannot conceive of anything more boring than listening to someone complain .
I have caller ID and can avoid Ralph most of the time . He's a good person and a loyal friend , but this has become an obsession I'd like to remedy . How do I address this with him ? 
Dear  Bored ,
I know  many people  who enjoy  giving "organ  recitals," but  no one likes  to hear them . Honesty is the best policy with Ralph . He probably has  no idea how he  comes across . Do him a favor and tell him nicely  that his  fixation with his  health, to the exclusion of everything else,  makes  a friendly chat  difficult  and a little  depressing .
If you don't want to try the direct approach....before he gets started, introduce an interesting topic. And change the subject every time he starts tuning up for his organ recital. Unless he is pretty dense, he will eventually get the message

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Obama: US at war with those who have perverted Islam

“Just as leaders like myself reject the notion that terrorists like ISIL genuinely represent Islam, Muslim leaders need to do more than merely discredit the notion that our nations are determined to suppress Islam,” President Barack Obama said Wednesday, Feb. 18, 2015, to attendees of the White House Summit on Countering Violent Extremism at the White House Complex in Washington.

President Obama has said his country is not at war with Islam, but with people who have perverted the religion, calling for a focus on preventing "terrorists" from recruiting and inspiring others
Obama, speaking at a White House conference on countering violent extremism, said "we should not grant them [the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant and al-Qaeda-linked groups] the religious legitimacy that they seek".
"They propagate the notion that America, and the West generally, is at war with Islam. That is how they recruit, that's how they radicalize young people," the president said on Wednesday.
" It is a lie... We are not at war with Islam. We are at war with people who have perverted Islam."
Obama also said he wanted to make sure Muslim communities were not punished or marginalized for crimes that extremists were committing in the name of Islam.
"No religion is responsible for violence and terrorism. People are responsible," he said. "We have to make sure... that we do not stigmatize entire communities."

The White House has gathered law enforcement officials, Muslim leaders and lawmakers for a three-day meeting named "Countering Violent Extremism".
Adding that he wants to lift up voices of tolerance in the US and beyond, Obama mentioned a letter he received from a Muslim American girl. The 11-year-old, called Sabrina, said she was worried about people hating Muslims and asked Obama to tell everyone that Muslims were just like everyone else.
"Everybody needs to remember that during the course of this debate as we move forward with these challenges," Obama said.

However, he also said that Muslim communities had a responsibility to reject "the terrorist narrative" that Islam and the modern civilizations were in conflict.
"The terrorists do not speak for a billion Muslims," Obama said. Ministerial-level meetings will take place on the final day of the conference, with 60 countries attending. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is also scheduled to speak during a panel discussion.

'Pink Pill' ....New Hope To Help Women With Low Sex Drive

Global News Anchor Katie Couric examines the experimental drug that could hold the key to help treat women with low libido. Sprout Pharmaceuticals is resubmitting its "pink pill" to the Food and Drug Administration for approval. The review process could take up to six months.

Vintage cars found at French castle up for auction

Around 60 vintage cars that were discovered at a remote French castle have gone on show in Paris, ahead of an auction on Friday.
It is thought that the vehicles, which were found covered in dust, could fetch up to 20 million euros, (Aprox 23 million dollars) Richard Forrest reports.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Collider Hopes to find Dark Matter Particle

The LHC has been shut down since 2013 for a programme of upgrades and repairs

A senior researcher at the Large Hadron Collider says a new particle could be detected this year that is even more exciting than the Higgs boson. The accelerator is due to come back online in March after an upgrade that has given it a big boost in energy. This could force the first so-called supersymmetric particle to appear in the machine, with the most likely candidate being the gluino.
Its detection would give scientists direct pointers to "dark matter". And that would be a big opening into some of the remaining mysteries of the universe.
"It could be as early as this year. Summer may be a bit hard but late summer maybe, if we're really lucky," said Prof Beate Heinemann, who is a spokeswoman for the Atlas experiment, one of the big particle detectors at the LHC.
"We hope that we're just now at this threshold that we're finding another world, like antimatter for instance. We found antimatter in the beginning of the last century. Maybe we'll find now supersymmetric matter."
The University of California at Berkeley researcher made her comments at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Supersymmetry is an addition to the Standard Model that describes nature’s fundamental particles and their interactions. Susy, as it is sometimes known, fills some gaps in the model and provides a basis to unify nature's forces. It predicts each of the particles to have more massive partners. So the particle that is light – the photon – would have a partner called the photino. The quark, the building block of an atom’s protons and neutrons, would have a partner called the squark.
But when the LHC was colliding matter at its pre-upgrade energies, no sign of these superparticles was seen in the debris, which led to some consternation among theorists. Now, with the accelerator about to reopen in the coming weeks, there is high hope the first evidence of Susy can be found.
The machine is going to double the collision energy, taking it into a domain where those theorists say the gluino really ought to emerge in sufficient numbers to be noticed. The gluino is the superpartner of the gluon, which "glues" the quarks together inside protons and neutrons. The LHC’s detectors would not see it directly. What they would track is its decay, which scientists would then have to reconstruct.

But importantly, those decay products should include the lightest and most stable superparticle, known as the neutralino – the particle that researchers have proposed is what makes up dark matter, the missing mass in the cosmos that binds galaxies together but which cannot be seen directly with telescopes.
"This would rock the world,” said Prof Heinemann. "For me, it’s more exciting than the Higgs." 

So, not only would supersymmetry proponents be elated because they would have their first superparticle, but science in general would have a firm foot on the road to understanding dark matter. Dr Michael Williams, from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said.
"Finding any particle that could be a dark matter candidate is great because we could start to understand how it affects the galaxy and the evolution of the universe, but it also opens the door to whatever is on the other side and we have no idea what is there."

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Ask Maxy

Dear Maxy ,One of my best friends has been down in the dumps for a long time now . Ever since the new year , it seems to have gotten worse . It's not that she is without good reason . She lost her job a few years ago and was getting unemployment insurance until the time ran out . Now she is piecing together jobs here and there , but hardly making enough to keep her place and eat . I am at a loss on how to help her . I do not have any real money to give her , and I don't have room for her to live with my family and me .But she is my friend .I want to do something to lift her spirits .Need    some ideas? 
Worried Friend , Biloxi , Mississippi 
Dear Worried Friend
Your friend is feeling that another year is passing her by without any improvement in her situation. Once you've been out of work for six months, employers put you at the back of the job line. They discriminate against the long-term unemployed.
Be a mentor to your friend: be positive and encourage her. Help her reorganize and improve her resume. Do a little job search on her behalf. Make some good suggestions like:
'The most important thing she can do to boost her chances on the job market after a long spell away is to update her skills or learn new ones. Enroll in free courses offered in her area and she will feel a ripple effect of positivity. This includes increased confidence and morale. She will meet and learn alongside people in the same situation .
Attitude Change:
Be upfront:
If she's been out of work for a long time, it’s absolutely vital to explain the reasons why to employers. Employers understand employment gaps, and her explanation immediately transforms her from being a statistic into a human being with a personal story. Just keep it brief.
Be enthusiastic:
Offer what attributes and skills, such as teamwork, communication and problem solving she can bring to a company; then she should back these up with a genuine interest in the job and the company.
Contact a former employer: If she has a former employer with whom she got on well, she could get in touch and find out the latest trends from someone in the industry. There’s always the possibility that  her ex boss may know of someone who might have an employment opportunity.
Helpful websites:
Dear Maxy , 
My husband and I have been married for 19 years . We have no children together , but we each have children from previous marriages .
From Day One of our marriage, he made it clear he did not want to pay for Christmas, birthdays, weddings etc. , on my side , which was fine . I've taken care of my side, and he's done his . 
We are now at an age where we need to put our affairs in order . He wants each child to get the same amounnt from our estate , I disagree . I want the amount to be divided in half, and each half then divided between the children on each side . 
We have not been arguing about this . We just haven't taken care of the arrangements . I will agree to whatever you say .
Taking care of business 
Dear Taking Care of Business,
I think your husband made his position clear from the out-set. He distanced himself from your side of the family instead of blending families and sharing responsibilities. He created the divisive conditions of your marriage so I understand your wish to distribute your half of the estate as you see fit. 
But think of the conflict this decision may cause among your beneficiaries. Some of them may contest the will and create contention and ill will among them all. The children from both sides had nothing to do with the post-nuptial arrangements the two of you made, so it seems logical and fair to leave each child an equal amount. An estate planner would recommend the same. In fact, talking to your lawyer would be the best way to settle this.
Don't forget one of you may pre-decease the other and then the decision making control over the estate may shift. Check that out also.
Live long,

Dear Maxy.
I am a recent college graduate and now I work as an investment banker for one of the top global investments banks . I studied finance during college and figured this would be a commendable career path . However , almost eight months in , I have come to the conclusion that this is truly not for me . I had some forewarning about my career path and it's work hours , but mine is insane . I'm just not happy . I make decent money for my age , but I don't even have enough time to spend the money I make . I don't know what specific career would make me happy at the age of 23 , but I know what I'm doing right now is not it . Do you have any suggestions ?
Gotta Go 
Dear Gotta Go ,
I strongly recommend  that you stay for  a bit  longer . While  this may not  be  your career track long-term , what you could  do for your professional  reputation is to  work there for at least a year. You want to build a reputation  of being  a professional  who takes  your  job seriously .
Instead  of  giving up just yet, learn everything  you can  about your industry  and  master your  job . You never  know  when  you will need  those skills  in the future . Save as  much money as  you can . Then set out to find a career that will make you happier, perhaps related to your field.
Dear Maxy ,
I went to a business meeting at a woman's home and when I arrived, I was asked to remove my shoes . I was taken aback . I have never had anyone make that request before . I felt it was far too much to ask , even though we were at her house . I refused . She gave me a pass, but was upset . Was I wrong ?
Dear Shoe-Free,
Sorry, but you  were wrong . When you go  to someone's house, you must  abide  by that person's  rules . It is also true  that when one  has atypical rules, it is polite for the host  to advise  people  of  them  in advance .
You want  to make guests  feel  comfortable . But  the  bottom line  is  that they  should  be in line with the house rules .

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Costa Concordia captain Schettino guilty of manslaughter

Capt Francesco Schettino in court in Grosseto, Italy (10 Feb 2015))

The captain of the Italian cruise ship Costa Concordia has been found guilty of manslaughter and sentenced to 16 years in prison. Captain Francesco Schettino was at the helm when the ship hit rocks and sank in 2012, killing 32 people.
He was accused of taking the liner too close to the shore and then abandoning ship with passengers and crew still on board. Schettino denied the charges and said he was being made a scapegoat.
His lawyers had argued that it was a collective failure of the ship's crew and others should share the blame for the disaster. Schettino was not present when Judge Giovanni Puliatti read out the verdict at the court in the city of Grosseto. The 54-year-old is expected to appeal against the verdict.

A helicopter approaches the Costa Concordia cruise ship off the west coast of Italy - 19 January 2012
The 290m-long vessel was too close to shore when it struck rocks off the Tuscan island of Giglio

Members of the media surround Costa Concordia captain Francesco Schettino as he arrives at court - 11 February 2015
Schettino complained that he had spent the last three years "in a media meat grinder"

Earlier, the captain had made an emotional final appeal to the judge on the last day of the 19-month trial. Schettino sobbed as he told the court he had spent the last three years "in a media meat grinder".
"All the responsibility has been loaded on to me with no respect for the truth or for the memory of the victims," he said.
Prosecutors had sought a 26-year jail term but the court sentenced Schettino to 10 years for multiple manslaughter, five years for causing the shipwreck and one year for abandoning his passengers.
Investigators had severely criticized his handling of the disaster, accusing him of bringing the 290m-long vessel too close to shore when it struck rocks off the Tuscan island of Giglio.
The ship was ripped open when it hit the shore and more than 4,000 passengers and crew were forced into a chaotic evacuation.

The wreck of the Costa Concordia is held up by giant tanks in the Italian port of Genoa - 21 July 2014

  • 13 Jan 2012: Costa Concordia runs aground
  • Jul 2013: Capt Schettino goes on trial for multiple manslaughter and abandoning ship
  • Jul 2013: Five crew jailed for manslaughter for up to two years and 10 months
  • Jul 2014: Costa Concordia refloated and towed to Genoa

Schettino said he had taken the ship so close to land for "commercial reasons" in a bid to please his passengers and those ashore.  He had also rejected rumours that he had wanted to impress his lover, Domnica Cemortan, who was with him at the helm.

Costa Crociere, the company that owned the ship, sidestepped potential criminal charges in 2013 by agreeing to pay a $1.3m fine. It is being sued by survivors, the Tuscany region and Giglio island for further damages.

Five other employees, including the helmsman, were handed prison sentences ranging from 18 months to two years and 10 months in plea bargains concluded early in the investigation.

ISIL is Going to Lose......President Obama States

President Obama has said Islamic State (ISIS) militants "will lose" as he asks Congress to formally authorize military force against them.
"Our coalition is on the offensive. ISIL [ISIS] is on the defensive, and Isil is going to lose," he said.
He warned against dragging the US into another prolonged ground war and called on lawmakers to show a united front.
The US has carried out air strikes against ISIS since last year, in a coalition with other nations. It's the first time a US president has sought Congressional approval to use military force since President George W Bush in 2002, ahead of the invasion of Iraq. In a White House address, he said the draft authorization did not change the mission's core objective to "degrade and destroy" ISIS.

Islamic State has its stronghold in Raqqa, Syria 
Islamic State has its stronghold in Raqq Syria

Flanked by Vice-President Joe Biden, and the US secretaries of state and defence at the White House, Mr Obama said this did not signal an "endless war". He said he was "convinced that the United States should not get dragged back into another prolonged ground war in the Middle East" but said fighting ISIS would take "some time". Backing from Congress would send a powerful message that the US was united in its opposition, he said.
"Make no mistake. This is a difficult mission," Mr Obama said. "But our coalition is on the offensive. ISIL is on the defensive, and ISIL is going to lose."

Wednesday's draft proposal would repeal Mr Bush's 2002 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) but would leave in place the 2001 resolution that was approved after the 9/11 terror attacks in order to search for al-Qaeda operatives. White House officials don't like being tied in any way to the Bush administration and neither do Democrats who will run for office in 2016.
So seeking a new AUMF is a way for Obama and other Democrats to distance themselves from Bush.
The new AUMF is also a way for Obama to get Republicans behind him in the war against ISIS.

The new measure is expected to set up a debate about America's role in the Middle East and how to best counter the militant group.
In a letter sent to Congress along with his draft, Mr Obama said while "existing statutes" allow the air strikes, he has "repeatedly expressed my commitment to working with the Congress to pass a bipartisan authorization for the use of military force (AUMF) against ISIL".
The plan could include limited ground operations by US forces in special circumstances. The issue of ground forces, even limited, is expected to make the legislation harder to pass. Some Republicans are in favour of using ground troops but many in Mr Obama's own party oppose it.
On Wednesday, the top Democrat in the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, issued a statement calling for "narrowly tailored" legislation for the fight against ISIS but did not endorse Mr Obama's proposal.

Oats in the Water....Ben Howard

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Monday, February 09, 2015

Watch a Boeing Put Together Fast Forward

Twin stars found at nebula's heart....Doomed to destroy each other

illustration of binary star exploding
The pair of stars will fuse and explode, as imagined here by an illustrator, in about 700 million years

At the centre of a mysterious nebula, astronomers have discovered two stars locked in such a tight orbit that they will eventually merge and explode. Both stars are white dwarfs - the heaviest such pair ever discovered.
To reignite and explode into a supernova, a white dwarf must gain mass, either by grabbing matter from a partner star, or by fusing with it (if the partner is also a white dwarf). This is the first recorded example of a system headed for that kind of merger.
The presence of two stars also explains the odd shape of the surrounding nebula, called Henize 2-428 - a cloud of gas thrown into space when the stars first died and became white dwarfs.

The discovery was made using the Very Large Telescope high in Chile's Atacama Desert, along with telescopes in the Canary Islands and South Africa.
Dr Henri Boffin, one of the paper's authors, is an astronomer working for the European Southern Observatory (ESO) which operates the facility in Chile. He said: "When we looked at this object's central star with ESO's Very Large Telescope, we found not just one but a pair of stars at the heart of this strangely lopsided, glowing cloud."
That was the original purpose of the study: to explain the striking, irregular shapes formed by so-called "planetary nebulae".

Planetary nebula Henize 2-428
The odd shape of the nebula can be explained by the "double-degenerate" pair of stars at its core

Using extra observations of Henize 2-428 from other telescopes, Dr Boffin and his colleagues established the mass and the separation of the two stars they had discovered - and realized they were looking at something entirely unique.
Each of the white dwarfs is nearly as heavy as our own sun and they orbit each other in 4.2 hours. This means that they are destined, based on Einstein's general relativity, to spiral closer together, losing energy as gravitational waves, and ultimately fusing into a single star - with a mass almost 1.8 times that of the Sun.
That mass is significant because it is bigger than the "Chandrasekhar limit", a boundary named after the Nobel-winning astrophysicist Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar. Any white dwarf heavier than this limit (about 1.4 solar masses) will not simply continue cooling down. Instead, the carbon at its core is compressed so much that nuclear fusion kick-starts again - ultimately causing the dwarf to explode into a supernova.

Very Large Telescope
Astronomers zoomed in on the nebula using the Very Large Telescope in Chile

The authors of the new study argue that this supernova, expected in 700 million years, will be of "type Ia". This means a runaway nuclear fusion reaction, like a vast hydrogen bomb but fuelled by carbon, which eventually blows the star to bits.
"Until now, the formation of supernovae Type Ia by the merging of two white dwarfs was purely theoretical," said Dr David Jones, a research fellow at ESO and another of the report's authors. "The pair of stars in Henize 2-428 is the real thing!"
Even at a distance of some 4,000 light years, this type of supernova would be bright enough to be seen from Earth in broad daylight.
"There's a big debate going on in the community - whether the merger of two massive white dwarfs produces a type Ia or a core-collapse supernova," Dr Podsiadlowski said.
"Both of them are interesting!"

"What it does tell us is that these massive white dwarf binaries actually exist - even though they were theoretically predicted, that actually hadn't been confirmed."

planetary nebula 
The team had planned simply to study the shapes of planetary nebulae, like the dramatic Cat's Eye Nebula

US 'may supply arms to Ukraine' Despite German Chancellor's Objections

President Obama says the US is studying the option of supplying defensive arms to Ukraine if diplomacy fails to end the crisis in the east. Russia had violated "every commitment" made in the failing Minsk agreement, he added, after talks with the German chancellor on a new peace deal.
Mr Obama has come under pressure from senior US officials to supply arms, despite objections from Angela Merkel.
Russia denies accusations of sending troops and supplying the rebels.The latest diplomatic efforts come amid renewed fighting between the pro-Russia rebels and Ukrainian government troops, with fighting centred around the strategic railway hub of Debaltseve. The rebels said on Monday they had cut off a key supply road to the town, which is near the rebel-held city of Donetsk, but the military says the battle is ongoing.
Ukrainian government officials say nine soldiers and at least seven civilians have been killed in fighting over the last 24 hours. The crisis in Ukraine has already claimed more than 5,300 lives and displaced 1.5 million people from their homes.

 Pro-Russian separatist fighter jumps from an armoured vehicle near a destroyed Ukrainian tank in Uglegorsk, 6 kms southwest of Debaltseve on 9 February 2015 
Mrs Merkel's US trip is the latest in a flurry of diplomatic activity to try end nearly a year of conflict in Ukraine
Mrs Merkel met the US president in Washington on Monday to update him on Franco-German efforts to revive last year's Minsk peace plan, which collapsed amid fighting over the winter. The detailed proposals have not been released but the plan is thought to include a demilitarised zone of 50-70km (31-44 miles) around the current front line.
Four-way talks between Russia, Ukraine, Germany and France are due to be held in Belarus's capital Minsk on Wednesday to discuss the proposals.
Speaking alongside the German chancellor, President Obama said the option of lethal defensive weapons for the Ukrainian government remained on the table.
"If, in fact, diplomacy fails, what I've asked my team to do is to look at all options," he said, adding that offering lethal arms was only one of the options under consideration. Mrs Merkel, who has made it clear she opposes sending lethal arms, acknowledged setbacks in efforts to reach a diplomatic solution with Russia over Ukraine, but said that they would continue.
 Does this mean that there is a fissure between the US and Europe over what to do about Ukraine ?Well, probably not. What has been most remarkable so far is the extent to which the European countries and the US have worked together on putting together and maintaining a sanctions regime against Russia, even though it could easily be argued that sanctions cost the US little, but hurt Europe a great deal.

Meanwhile Mr Obama criticized Russian aggression in Ukraine, saying that the borders of Europe could not be "redrawn at the barrel of a gun".
But this Russian aggression had reinforced the unity of the US and its European allies, he added.

Map of Ukraine rebel-held areas 

EU foreign ministers in Brussels agreed on Monday to impose further sanctions against Russian and rebel officials, but have put them on hold for a week to give the peace efforts a chance. Russian President Vladimir Putin, who is also considering the peace proposals, earlier blamed the West for causing the crisis, saying they had broken pledges not to expand Nato and forced countries to choose between them or Russia.
In comments to an Egyptian newspaper, Mr Putin accused Western states of supporting a "coup d'etat in Kiev" - a reference to the ousting of former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych last year.

Ukrainian servicemen rest on a tank in Artyomovsk of Donetsk area, Ukraine, 08 February 2015 
Ukrainian troops rest on a tank

People walk with their belongings on February 7, 2015 in the eastern Ukrainian town of Vuglegirsk in the Donetsk region
Many civilians have fled the Donetsk fighting

Pro-Russian rebels walk on February 7, 2015 in the eastern Ukrainian town of Vuhlehirsk in the Donetsk region.
Pro-Russian rebels in the east Ukrainian town of Vuhlehirsk

He lost power amid protests over his decision to scrap a deal that would have seen Ukraine establish closer ties with the European Union.
Since then, Russia has annexed Ukraine's Crimea Peninsula and rebels in the east have sought to establish full control over the regions of Donetsk and Luhansk. Giving more details on the fighting near Debaltseve, Russian-backed rebels claimed that taking the village of Lohvynove had helped them cut the main supply route.

Pro-Russian separatist fighters stand on 9 February 2015 on a road near Uglegorsk, 6 kms southwest of Debaltseve.
Much of the recent fighting has taken place around Debaltseve - a key piece of territory in the east

However, Ukraine's military spokesman Olexandr Matuzyanyk gave a different version of events, saying "there is fighting going on for this road at the moment".
Thousands of Ukrainian troops are believed to be in Debaltseve and the nearby area. Heavy fighting has been raging there for more than a week, with the rebels gaining some ground. Germany's recent peace efforts have come under sharp criticism from senior US Republicans, who are calling for the provision of lethal arms to Ukraine.
"The Ukrainians are being slaughtered and we're sending them blankets and meals. Blankets don't do well against Russian tanks," Senator John McCain told an international security conference in Munich at the weekend. US Secretary of State John Kerry has denied any rift with EU leaders, stating that they remained "united" and were "working closely together".

What was the Minsk agreement?
  • A ceasefire signed by Ukraine and pro-Russian separatist rebels on 5 September 2014 in Minsk, Belarus

  • They agreed to 12 points including pulling back heavy guns by at least 15km (9 miles), releasing prisoners, allowing access to international observers, and setting up a buffer zone on the Russia-Ukraine border. Foreign mercenaries were to withdraw and Donetsk and Luhansk would get wider self-rule

  • But military clashes never entirely stopped. Each side accused the other of violating the deal and violence later flared the length of the ceasefire line

  • Rebels also held their own local elections in November 2014, in defiance of Kiev. The government responded