According to anonymous senior officials from Germany, German Chancellor Angela Merkel had been in talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin for a Ukraine Stabilisation Plan. The plan prioritises the stabilisation of Ukrainian borders and providing Ukraine an enormous economic boost, with new energy arrangements and ensuring gas supplies.
Analysts say that Russia is Germany and the EU’s biggest trading partner with a cross border trade amounting to £272 billion the previous year. The Russian sanctions brought about by western countries will hurt the EU financially with inflating energy prices. Germany, having major energy companies in Russia, will take the biggest hit in the EU.
Anonymous officials said that the stabilisation plan will have Russia withdraw its financial and military support for pro-Russian activists in Eastern Ukraine. However, the international community must recognise Crimea’s independence, and Crimea will be recognised as part of Russia, which would face international criticism.
The peace plan also indicated that Ukraine must agree not to apply to join NATO, and Putin will not seek to block Ukraine’s trade relations with the European Union, which it had signed a few weeks ago. Ukraine will be granted a membership to Russia’s Gazprom to address its dwindling gas supplies.
Russia will also compensate Ukraine for skipping its fees stationing its fleets in Crimea and Sevastopol in the Black Seas until Crimea has voted for its independence the following year.
Despite the cease-fire deal agreed by both Israel and Hamas, Gaza endured a very high casualty count of 100 on Sunday as Israel assaulted from air, sea and from artillery and tank fire and ground forces assaulted the different areas of Gaza clashing against Hamas militants.
The UN Security Council had also held a meeting to discuss the conflict as Jordan requested that the situation be capped before it becomes worse.
Palestinian officials described Israel’s attack as a “war crime” and a “heinous massacre.” Most of Israel’s assaults left civilians dead. The Arab League had also accused Israel of war crimes against Palestine and had said Israel is escalating the conflict further.
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had conversed with US President Barack Obama regarding its growing number of Palestinian civilian casualties. Netanyahu said in a press conference that Israel will continue its operations for as long as it takes.
In total, 425 Palestine civilians have been killed. Palestine hospitals are filled with 3,000 injured.
Israel had accused Hamas of using their civilians as “human shields” and said that Israel did not need to go to excessive warfare because the country only wanted to stop the rocket fire from Gaza.
The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) had declared Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi as the absolute leader of Muslims worldwide in an audio post spread in social media and the internet. Experts see this as a “psy-war” tactic to spread fear and the ambition of the extremist organisation to influence empathizers of their cause.
Iraq’s military had stepped up their military advance to retake Tikrit from ISIS and had gained military support from both Russia and the United States. Russia had advanced five of its warplanes and had provided military advisers for support.
ISIS demanded that all Islamic communities pledge allegiance to the new “Caliphate Ibrahim” and they must reject democracy and other forms of western thought.
Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah had said that they will continue to confront the ISIS and stop them in their tracks. The King said that the members of ISIS had read the lessons of Islam in the wrong manner, as the religion intends to create peace and harmony between its people in a society of tolerance and kindness. He said that they do not recognise ISIS as an Islamic group.
ISIS was once part of the al-Qaeda, which was dispersed into different groups after its leader Osama Bin Laden, had been killed in action. ISIS also fought along with other rebels in the ongoing Syrian Civil War.
Lieutenant Colonel Didier Badjeck, the military spokesman for the African Defense Ministry, had said that the combined efforts of Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad and Niger will be the only way they could stop the Islam extremist group Boko Haram. The notorious African Islamic group had kidnapped 200 schoolgirls from Chibok, with some of them escaping back to their parents. Terrorist experts said that the group might use the girls for house cleaning, sex slavery and other explicit tasks.
According to intelligence gathered by a multinational group of surveillance and investigation team, the Boko Haram had split the group into two. They may use one group for human smuggling into Cameroon. The African military stationed guards at the border to find the missing girls and put down the Boko Haram group.
In the past, the Boko Haram had attacked several village schools, burning them or kidnapping the students. Some villages have created their own militia against the terrorists.
Many border villagers have fled into Cameroon to escape the violence and attack of the terrorists. Camp Minawao in Cameroon currently has 5,000 people. Some of them said that they had no faith in the African Military’s attempts to ensure their safety. Some of the refugees have begged for guards to stay and guard them, fearing that the Boko Haram will spread throughout Africa.
The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons confirmed that a foreign party had attacked their chemical weapons inspectors en route to Kafr Zita, which was heavily held by Syrian rebel forces. The inspectors were to study a site claimed by Syrian rebels that the government had used chlorine gas weapons.
Syrian state media first reported that rebels had kidnapped six OPCW inspectors, then after the OPCW confirmed it was only an attack and no one was hurt, the state media changed its statement. The Syrian state media echoed the statement of the Syrian foreign ministry.
The Syrian Saiqa Force, a part of the Free Syrian Army, had escorted the OPCW team, according to its Colonel, Mohammad al-Ali, who was the general commander of the faction.
If the Syrian government is found guilty of using chlorine weapons, which had been banned internationally by the United Nations, they also break the US-Russia brokered deal, which Syria pledged to destroy all its chemical weapons. However, legal observers said chlorine is an industrial-grade chemical and Syria had not declared it a weapon.
Meanwhile, violence continues between Syrian rebel and regime forces. The Syrian rebels had killed a senior Hezbollah commander, one of the many foreign fighters in the civil war in Syria. The Hezbollah commander appears to be on top of the FBI’s most wanted list.
Despite the NATO and Russia agreement to withdraw Russian troops from Ukrainian borders, no signs of withdrawal from Russian soldiers were seen by NATO returning to their bases.
Russian President Vladimir Putin had ordered troops in the Ukrainian border to return to base, according to Dmitry Peskov. He had also added that the withdrawal had already started. However, NATO secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen finds no signs of the troops withdrawal.
According to White House Spokesman Jay Carney, they have heard the same promise from Russia before, and it is highly likely that the promise’s fulfilment is highly unlikely. The Obama administration admitted it is sceptical about Putin’s order.
There are around Russian 40,000 troops along Ukraine’s eastern border, which alarmed the United Nations as a Russian attempt to invade Ukraine ahead of the election. However, Moscow iterated that it was only a routine military exercise.
A senior US Administration Official said that the troops were not conducting routine training activities, but rather, they had a threatening military stand and their numbers continue to build up.
Russia’s troop build-up, along with its annexation of Crimea, had earned it sanctions from the United States and other western countries.
Meanwhile, pro-Russian activists and pro-Ukraine militia continue to clash in high tension areas of Ukraine
According to South Korean Defence Ministry Spokesman Kim Min-seok “the South Korean Army, Air Force and Navy is fully prepared for a North Korean provocation.” The statement comes after North Korea had conducted a live-fire drill on Tuesday near the western sea border in South Korea. Kim added that they will respond with counter-fire against any attack on the South Korean maritime border.
South Korean intelligence verified that the drill lasted about 15-20 minutes and no shells had landed on South Korean water territory. The North had also notified them that it will be conducting live-fire exercises.
In the previous week following the Southeast Asia tour of US President Barack Obama, South Korean Officials said that North Korea was ready to launch a nuclear test at any time once the US President was in Seoul. North Korea had reportedly sealed the tunnel at its nuclear testing site in Punggye-ri in the Northeast, which is the final preparation for testing a device.
US President Barack Obama urged North Korea to halt its nuclear tests and he had promised sanctions against North Korea’s illegal nuclear tests.
Recent encounters regarding live-fire drills between the North and South Koreas involved firing hundreds of shells being fired in disputed waters between the two countries.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said at a Moscow Press Conference that the Geneva Accord had been violated by Ukraine after a deadly shootout in Slaviansk, which had killed three people after the attack of men in four vehicles who were yet to be named. According to analysts, Lavrov’s statement is also a reaction to the US’ accusations that Moscow is dragging its feet in implementing the peace treaty.
Despite the implication of the attacks, Pro-Russian activists did not surrender occupied towns and government structures, which the Geneva accord had specifically dictated all parties should follow. The accord calls for all “illegal armed groups” in Ukraine to surrender their arms and halt the occupation of public buildings.
Russian forces near the Ukrainian border also did not stand down. Around 40,000 troops are still guarding the border. The US had called for more sanctions should the Geneva accord fail, but the Russian Foreign Minister had said “it will be impossible to isolate Russia from the rest of the world.”
US Vice President Joe Biden had arrived in Ukraine to speak with the pro-Western leaders of the Interim government. The US had also increased military deployment in Eastern Europe and had pledged billions to help restore Ukraine’s economy.
Albuquerque residents protested against 23 police shootings that involved fatal or overkill acts by police officers since 2010. The call was made by cyber-activists, who exposed the information on the internet and social networks. The protests, which was done at noontime, was dispersed in the evening. Some were arrested for disorderly conduct and property damages.
Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry said that it was not trying to stop all protests, but he wants to limit the damages to property the protests could bring. Mayor Berry said that the protesters were putting the public and themselves in danger.
The protest was sparked by a cyber-collective group only known as Anonymous who posted a video of police beating to death a homeless man who had done nothing wrong to the police officers. The video was taken from an Albuquerque police station, and the hacking was confirmed by the Police.
The protests prompted the Federal Department of Justice to launch an investigation regarding the 23 fatal killings and the shooting of a homeless man on March 16 without any reason by police officers in Albuquerque.
According to FBI’s Albuquerque Office Spokesman Frank Fisher, people are concerned about the incident and they want answers, which is why the investigation is pushing through.
Despite banks having set aside £20bn, the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) said that the UK has not yet seen the bulk of PPI complaints. FSCS Chief Executive Mark Neale estimates PPI can carry on for a few more years.
The FSCS helps consumers recover their money, such as investments or payments for financial products from bankrupt or insolvent businesses. They also handle the PPI complaints of different UK banks alongside the Financial Ombudsman Service.
The FOS currently handles the bulk of PPI complaints, but Neale said that FSCS, which handles 16,000 of these complaints following an estimated increase of 20% in the income of complaints. Neale said that he might not be able to tell how long or the peak of the number of PPI complaints the UK can have, but he said that the FSCS sees a fairly normal distribution curve throughout the years.
PPI is designed to protect consumers from late repayments in case of accidents, sickness or unemployment. However, due to abusive sales methods, bank employees mis sold consumers who had no use or were ineligible for the insurance policy. At least £13 had been returned to consumers since 2008.
The numbers of PPI complaints in the FOS had dropped, but Neale said that the FSCS has yet to see a drop in the number of PPI complaints they receive.