GOP, WHITE HOUSE CLASH ON IRAN
Republican senators appear determined to derail a possible deal with Iran on the country’s nuclear program, and their decision to send a letter signed by 47 senators to Tehran has worsened tensions between the GOP and the White House, The Washington Post reports. In the letter, the senators tell Iranian officials that the next U.S. president could revoke any deal “with the stroke of a pen” and that the Congress could also modify its terms. President Barack Obama mocked the move, saying Republicans were forming an “unusual coalition” with Iranian hard-liners, who also oppose an agreement. This comes just one week after Republican lawmakers invited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to speak to Congress against a potential deal.
ON THIS DAY
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On this day in 1876, Alexander Graham Bell successfully tested his telephone — or was it Chuck Norris? Time for your 57-second shot of history.
OLYMPIANS DEAD IN HELICOPTER CRASH
At least 10 people, including three French Olympic athletes, died in a helicopter crash yesterday in Argentina, where the athletes were taking part in a new reality TV show, newspaper Le Parisien reports. The accident happened when two helicopters collided during the filming. The two Argentine pilots and the five French TV crew members are also among the victims. President François Hollande expressed his condolences to the families and honored the memory of athletes who “made France shine so bright.” Read more in English from CNN.
Photo above: Jini/Xinhua/ZUMA
“Those who are against us, there's nothing to be done. We need to pick up an ax and cut off his head. Otherwise we won't survive here,” Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said of Israeli Arabs who are disloyal to the state. Read more from Haaretz.
U.S. CALLS VENEZUELA NATIONAL THREAT
President Barack Obama signed an executive order yesterday declaring oil-rich Venezuela a threat to national security and slapping seven officials with sanctions, raising already high tensions between the two countries, Reuters reports. This comes weeks after President Nicolas Maduro accused the U.S. of trying to topple him amid a worsening economic crisis fueled in part by falling oil prices. The country’s foreign minister said it would respond soon to the measures.
As America Economia’s Guillermo Leon Montoya writes, as unlikely as it may sound, many of the countries we closely associate with planning and foresight are turning their attention to Colombia for inspiration on how to address the parallel problems of industry pollution, energy production and food security. “The South American country boasts enviable geographical and climatic conditions, exceptional biodiversity and above all, a varied and preponderant farming sector,” Montoya writes. Together these factors are sparking talk about what some call the ‘new economy’ or ‘bioeconomy.’”
Read the full article, Imagining An Economy Built Around Plants, Not Plastic
EX IVORY COAST FIRST LADY JAILED
Simone Gbagbo, Ivory Coast’s former first lady, has been sentenced to 20 years in jail for undermining state security, disturbing public order and organizing armed gangs after her husband and his supporters rejected the 2010 presidential election result, Le Monde reports. About 3,000 people are believed to have died in the violence that followed the election, won by incumbent Alassane Ouattara. Laurent Gbagbo is awaiting trial at the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity. The trial is expected to open in July.
Apple unveiled its Apple Watch yesterday, revealing that prices from the gadget range from $349 to an incredible $17,000, or as Time puts it, “an arm and a wrist.” The primo version features an 18-karat yellow gold case and is the most expensive product the company has ever offered. Yesterday’s event otherwise proved a timely occasion for the publication of more leaked documents from Edward Snowden, this time showing that the CIA has been trying for years to break the security of Apple products. Read more from The Intercept.
MY GRAND-PÈRE'S WORLD
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UKRAINE REBELS WITHDRAW WEAPONS
In a televised address, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said that pro-Russian rebels had withdrawn “a significant amount” of their heavy weapons in eastern Ukraine, the BBC reports. He added that Kiev had also pulled back “the lion's share of its rocket and heavy artillery systems.” Meanwhile, his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin admitted yesterday that Moscow’s plan to “return Crimea” was initiated before a referendum on the region’s self-determination was held there, but after the Maidan revolution ousted elected President Viktor Yanukovych.
With her laid-back attitude, angelic face and Jasmine revolution experience, Deena Abdelwahed carves a perfect image of a modern, forward-looking Tunisia. She will also make you dance. Read more about the DJ with Tunisia at her fingertips here.
Charles Eugster, an incredible 95-year-young retired dentist from the UK, set a new record for the 200-meter sprint in his age category and a fitness example for us all. Eugster broke the previous record by more than 2 seconds with an impressive 55.48 seconds. Watch his performance here.
When the world gets closer, we help you see farther
A member of the Ukrainian Armed Forces writes his account of the new dynamic of targeting, and being targeted by, the invading Russian troops, as drones circle above and trenches get left behind.
KYIV — The current war in Ukraine is a game of hide-and-seek. Both sides are very well-stocked with artillery, enough to destroy the enemy along many kilometers. Swarms of drones fly through the air day and night, keeping a close eye on the earth's surface below. If they notice something interesting, it immediately becomes a target. Depending on the priority, they put it in line for destruction by artillery.
Therefore, the only effective way to survive is to hide, or at least somehow prove to the drones your non-priority status — and avoid moving to the front of the 'queue of death.'
In general, the nature of this queue is a particular thing. It may seem to be a god, but is instead a simple artillery captain's decision of when to have lunch, and when to fire on the house where several enemy soldiers are staying. It's just a handful of ordinary people (observers, artillerymen) deciding how long their enemies will live depending on their own schedule or the weather, the availability of ammunition or if they're feeling tired.
People who may have become targets sometimes have the luck to escape death a bit longer simply because other, more important targets appeared in the meantime. “Tonight, we are working on the armored vehicles hidden in the landing," one artillery operator said recently, "we'll let those at the checkpoint live until tomorrow.”
Everyone is hiding. The infantry is hiding — it is the easiest thing for them to do. Soldiers are sitting in houses, in the forest belts and forests trying in every possible way to hide the signs of their existence.
The idea of a war with trenches and the movement of large columns is outdated. That is not to say the Russians aren't moving in large columns, but they're doing it less and less — as the tragic consequences of it has regularly appeared in viral videos online.
There are always some exceptions to all the hiding.
Trenches usually stay empty until the brief, right moment. If possible, communication tunnels are dug to reach the trenches, so that the infantry can dash into them when the enemy has gotten too close to the places they've been hiding. But besides that, no one will just sit in the trench and wait.
Of course, there are always some exceptions to all the hiding. You'll see a soldier sitting and cooking on a fire in a local farmer's yard. Others even do exercises outdoors.
But this is not Chechnya or Syria. Such behavior by Russian troops is sooner or later punished. The sky is filled with the watchful electronic eyes of our growing fleet of drones.
View of a drone during the anti-drone rifle testing in Kyiv.Mykhaylo Palinchak/SOPA Images/ZUMA
Ukraine hidden weapons
The other thing that is regularly hidden is the equipment. First of all, armored vehicles. Plus there are guns, tanks, combat vehicles, all these are exquisite delicacies for artillery. The armored vehicles hide in rural locations under a layer of branches, and in the city, they are disguised as piles of garbage or hidden in the corners of yards so that the house covers them from shelling.
It is not easy to hide armored vehicles. The earth remembers everything: traces remain on the soil, on the asphalt. Their principle is the same as the infantry’s: to go to a position prepared for fire, shoot several times and move to another place without waiting for a shell to fly there.
Of course, the aircraft are also hiding. This month Russian helicopters could only be heard. They fire a swarm of unguided missiles from behind the hill and turn back before those reach and hit the target. This is blind shooting, dangerous only because someone may not hear the helicopter and not hide.
It seems that their helicopters that acted differently have already been taken out by the Ukrainian Air Defense Forces.
The artillery is also hiding. For example, our self-propelled guns take a few shots and run away, because Russian artillery starts firing at them, and after a few minutes ours starts firing at them again. And so on...
Rarely do tanks come out and shoot at each other. I have seen this, or rather heard it, but this was a result of the exceptional recklessness of tank commanders as a special part of humanity.
Trucks are the hardest to hide, large in length and height, the ultimate disposable products of war.
Loss of artillery fire
It was not always like that. Confident in the superiority of their artillery and aircraft, the Russians positioned themselves in fields visible for many kilometers. It was as if they were at a military exercise somewhere in the Rostov region of their own country.
There was time to order them to change tactics.
They suffered losses from our artillery fire, called helicopters to evacuate the wounded, which the Ukrainians shot down too. And so, it happened again and again, until somewhere in the distant headquarters, there was time to order them to change tactics. To hide.
Some 90% of our losses are from artillery fire. The Russians probably have a lower rate in relative terms (although, perhaps, higher in absolute terms), because the Ukrainian infantry competes with the Ukrainian artillery for the heads of occupiers.
Our advantage in light anti-tank weapons includes “Skifs” (anti-tank guided missiles), Javelins and NLAWs, so the Russians are also destroyed in the line of sight. But in general, although the fighting is fierce, it may be months before soldiers see the enemy with their own eyes .
*The author is an active member of the Ukrainian Armed Forces.
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