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Showing posts from April 2, 2015

FREEPORTS - Super-Warehouses for HIDDEN & TAX-FREE trading of ART for the Super Rich

Iron-clad security contrasts beautiful sculptures. State-of-the-art equipment, biometric scanners, strong rooms, seven-tonne doors, vibration-detection technology and even systems to suck oxygen from the vaults in the case of a fire, releasing inert gas to extinguish the flames…. all to protect the precious commodities stored between these walls.

It’s a scene out of Mission Impossible, but the reality is that these freehold ports are now a growing trend across countries which wish to store art and other precious collections of the super wealthy and tax-savvy entrepreneurs. The elite have found another way to dodge financial laws as they stow away their art for years at a time without incurring levies, saving them up to 34% on taxes, according to a report in The Economist. [1]

“Freeports” can be found in several international airports, including Luxembourg who has finished their architecturally-sound structure sporting all the high tech security that an uber-geek could imagine. Technical…

Russia’s Yemen consulate damaged amid Saudi-led airstrikes – embassy source

A man stands by the wreckage of a van hit by an air strike in Yemen's southern port city of Aden March 31, 2015. (Reuters / Anees Mansour)
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The Russian Consulate General in the Yemeni sea port of Aden has been damaged during airstrikes launched by the Saudi-led military coalition against the Houthi rebels, said a source in the Russian embassy in Yemen.

“There is not a single intact window left,” the source told Sputnik. A possibility of consulate closure and the evacuation of Russian nationals is currently under review, the source added.

Earlier on Wednesday a Russian plane charted for the evacuation of Russian citizens caught in the conflict had been diverted to Cairo, after the coalition denied it landing in the Yemeni capital Sanaa.

The evacuation has now been delayed until Thursday, when the chartered flight“accompanied by two other aircraft” is expected to arrive in Sanaa, according to a source of Russian daily Kommersan. In addition to Russians, the a…

The shadow of IS has fallen across Yarmouk

An activist inside the besieged refugee camp talks to MEE about how the Islamic State has gained so much ground in the Syrian capital Rebels take cover in Damascus' Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp (AFP/Ward Al-Keswani)

News that fighters from the Islamic State (IS) had entered Yarmouk refugee camp in southern Damascus on Wednesday morning sent shockwaves around the world.

Yarmouk, a once-thriving Damascus suburb home to 150,000 Palestinian refugees and Syrians, has been under siege by government forces for more than a year.

In 2014 the camp entered the world’s consciousness when a local photographer took a pictureof hundreds of men and women queuing for food in a street lined with destroyed buildings.

As well as hunger, lack of water and electricity, residents of Yarmouk are now confronted by violent militants who have captured large parts of Syria and Iraq.

But while IS has only recently entered Yarmouk - five miles from the center of the capital - the group has, according to local …

Syria: Why is Assad still in power?

The Syrian conflict has entered its fifth year, and Bashar al-Assad is still in power defiant as ever. In fact, he appears to be increasingly confident after weathering the worst of the storm. The prospects for his removal or his regime’s collapse now appear increasingly remote after the US switched priority to defeating the Islamic State, relegating regime-change in Syria to the back burner indefinitely.

So why has he survived for so long in the face of such seemingly overwhelming odds? Why has he been able to withstand the major global powers, hostile neighbours on every border and tens of thousands of well-armed rebel fighters against him? The rise ISIS and its terror networks certainly played a large role by shifting the global focus away from his regime and onto how to counter the serious threats to global security posed by the group.

The unwavering political, financial and military support of Assad’s ardent allies Russia, Iran and Hezbollah were also a significant factor in stabil…