US troops arrive in Poland for drills amid rising tensions over Ukraine


imagesUS troops arrive in Poland for drills amid rising tensions over Ukraine

Originally posted on 5continentnews:

The first wave of US troops has arrived in Poland to begin military drills “promoting peace and stability” across Eastern Europe. Tensions continue to mount in the region, as Ukraine teeters on the brink of a civil war.A contingent of 150 American soldiers arrived in the Polish town of Swidwin on Thursday and will be shortly joined by another 450 troops. The soldiers will participate in military exercises in Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia over the next three months, with a view to reassuring NATO allies in the region.Defense Department spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby, who announced the drills Tuesday, said they sent a clear message to Moscow.“If there’s a message to Moscow, it is the same exact message that we take our obligations very, very seriously on the continent of Europe,” Kirby told reporters. Washington has accused Russia of meddling in the affairs of neighboring Ukraine, which is currently…

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Germany helped prepare Russia for Crimean War II as it did for Crimean War I

Over the past few years, NATO countries have helped Russia revolutionize its armed forces. Now questions are arising about a German defense contractor that trained the Russian military.

The world was shocked when Russian special operations forces invaded Crimea with advanced technology, drastically improved operations, and with so much operational security that even agencies in the American intelligence community didn’t see it coming. In Washington, government and congressional leaders are wondering how the Russian special operations forces got so good, so fast, without anyone noticing. Some are wondering how much help Russia had from the West.

In 2011, for example, the German defense contractor Rheinmetall signed a $ 140 million contract to build a combat simulation training center in Mulino, in southwest Russia, that would train 30,000 Russian combat troops per year. While the facility wasn’t officially scheduled to be completed until later this year, US officials believe that Germany has been training Russian forces for years.

It is worth recalling that Germany (Prussia), being a Russian ally, also helped ever aggressive Russia in the Crimean War I of 1853 to 1856. Russia was then defeated, thanks God, but unfortunately not finally.

Rheinmetall defended the project even after the invasion of Crimea, up until the German government finally shut it down late last month. But many tracking the issue within the American government were not happy with Germany’s handling of the Russian contract, and worry that some of the training may have gone to the kind of special operations forces now operating in and around Ukraine.

“It’s unfortunate that German companies were directly supporting and training Russia’s military even during the attacks against Ukraine,” one senior Senate aide said. “The US government should call on our NATO allies to suspend all military connections with Russia at this point, until the Russians leave Ukraine, including Crimea.”

According to the Congressional Research Service, Rheinmetall’s partner in the deal was the Russian state-owned Oboronservis (“Defense Service”) firm. The training center, modeled after one used by the German Bundeswehr, was to be “the most advanced system of its kind worldwide.” Reinmetall saw the contract as a precursor to several more projects “in light of the plans to modernize the equipment of the Russian armed forces.”

US officials, now looking back, are privately expressing anger and frustration about the German work with the Russian military. While definitive proof is hard to come by, these officials look at the radical upgrade of Moscow’s forces–especially its special operations forces–experienced since they last saw major action in 2008′s invasion of Georgia. The US officials believe that some of the German training over the last few years was given to the GRU Spetsnaz, the special operations forces that moved unmarked into Crimea and who can now be found stirring up trouble in eastern Ukraine.

“People are pissed,” one US intelligence official said. “The chatter inside the Pentagon is that the training they were providing was going to Spetznaz.”

Rheinmetall did not respond to a request for comment.

Russia maintains close economic ties with many NATO states–especially Germany. By some estimates, the country exported nearly $ 50 billion in goods to Russia in 2013. Tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of German jobs depend on Russian trade.

The armed forces of NATO members have also been working with their counterparts in the Russian military, on and off, for years. Russia has held joint military exercises with both Germany and the US, for example. America has bought Russian helicopters to use in Afghanistan. And Moscow allows NATO equipment to pass through Russian territory as the gear comes into and out of the war zone.
“It’s unfortunate that German companies were directly supporting and training Russia’s military even during the attacks against Ukraine.”

To the Congressional Research Service, “Rheinmetall’s construction of an army training center could be viewed in the context of the broader bilateral defense cooperation between Germany and Russia,” the service writes in its report. “The German… government’s approval of the contract to construct a training center also appears to be in line with long-standing German policy to promote military training and joint exercises with partner countries.”

But some on Capitol Hill see the Rheimetall contract as only one example of the folly of several NATO countries that rushed to sign lucrative defense contracts with Russia after President Obama declared a new “reset” policy with the Russian Federation. Lawmakers have tried to halt the French sale of the Mistral, an amphibious warship, to the Russian Navy. Some are also unhappy about the Italian sale of Lynx armored personnel carriers to Russia.

A Senate aide said that one of Rheinmetall’s contributions was to help the Russian army and GRU Spetznaz upgrade their gear. Reports show that the Russian military units both inside Ukraine and amassed on its eastern border are sporting brand new communications equipment, body armor, personal weapons, and ammunition. Taken together, it gives them a huge tactical advantage over the beleaguered Ukrainian armed forces.

Top defense officials are now acknowledging that Russia’s military has been revolutionized in recent years. This month, Vice Admiral Frank Pandolfe, the director for strategic plans and policy for the military’s joint chiefs of staff, told Congress in open testimony that in recent years Russia has created regional commands that “coordinate and synchronize planning, joint service integration, force movement, intelligence support, and the tactical employment of units” in what he deemed “snap exercises,” or military training missions that can be ordered at a moment’s notice.

In the testimony, Pandolfe also said Russia has placed greater emphasis on the use of Special Operations Forces as well as information and cyber warfare. Experts said that Russian military doctrine was dramatically updated in the past few years and clearly set out Russia’s plans for modernization and a focus on highly trained rapid reaction special forces. But in the West, the papers were not well read, much less understood.

The Russians also changed their doctrine to reflect that they viewed the threat as not coming from a conventional war, but from the need to protect Russian populations in unstable states facing what they deemed to be Western aggression.

“This wasn’t just about implementing lessons learned from [the 2008 invasion of] Georgia, it was about giving them a basis for a different kind of operations,” said Fiona Hill, a former top intelligence official on Russia, now with the Brookings Institution. “We should have been paying more attention to this. There have been these signals for a long time, but we have been misreading them.”


As Ukraine Moves Against Militias, Russia Announces Military Drills Along Border

MOSCOW — Russia said Thursday that it would undertake military drills along the Ukrainian border in response to a mobilization by Ukrainian government forces against pro-Russian militias in eastern Ukraine, the country’s defense minister said.The move was certain to sharply raise tensions with the United States and its Western allies, who have demanded repeatedly that Russia cease its efforts to stir unrest in eastern Ukraine and desist from military action along the border, where the Kremlin has massed as many as 40,000 troops.The defense minister, Sergei Shoigu, said that the exercises would include troop movements on the ground as well as flights by the Russian air force. Mr. Shoigu also complained about NATO exercises in Poland and the Baltics, which the alliance announced recently in response to previous Russian threats of military intervention in Ukraine.“The starting gun on the use of weapons against their own civilians has already been fired,” Mr. Shoigu said, according to the Interfax news service. “If today this military machine is not stopped, it will lead to a large number of the dead and wounded.”


Evening Primrose Health Benefits

Oenothera biennis, commonly known as evening primrose, grows throughout North America and Europe. Oil extracted from the plant and the ripe seeds is an herbal remedy for various health disorders, as well as a nutritional supplement that provides the omega-6 fatty acid gamma-linolenic acid, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. You can buy evening primrose oil as a bottled oil or in capsules.
Omega-6 fatty acids are essential for health, and must be obtained through diet or supplements. GLA is important because some other types of omega-6 fatty acids increase inflammation in the body, while GLA decreases inflammation. Some research indicates that evening primrose oil may help relieve the pain and inflammation of rheumatoid arthritis when taken as a long-term supplement, according to the American Cancer Society.Evening primrose oil as an internal supplement also has benefits for several skin disorders. People take this oil to relieve itchiness from dermatitis, rashes and hives. Evening primrose also is beneficial for the itchiness, redness, scaling, oozing and crusting of eczema. Over 30 studies indicate benefits of evening primrose oil for treating eczema and dermatitis, as explained by the UMMC.The UMMC notes that evening primrose oil may decrease symptoms of diabetic neuropathy, a nerve condition causing numbness, tingling or pain in the feet. A study published in the January 1993 issue of Diabetes Care compared patients with mild diabetic neuropathy taking a GLA supplement to those taking a placebo. The authors found that participants taking GLA improved in all 16 study parameters over one year compared to people taking the placebo. The difference was statistically significant for 13 parameters. Parameters included sensation, tendon reflexes, and hot and cold thresholds.Evening primrose oil may be effective at relieving breast tenderness and pain from premenstrual syndrome or other causes, but scientific evidence is mixed, according to the UMMC. Women might also experience some benefits from taking evening primrose oil for other symptoms of premenstrual syndrome, such as bloating and mood swings.A study published in the March 1, 2000 issue of the International Journal of Cancer indicated that GLA is beneficial as an adjunctive therapy to tamoxifen for treating breast cancer. Patients taking GLA along with tamoxifen experienced a significantly faster clinical response than patients taking tamoxifen alone.


Writing for Children: 5 Tips to Writing a Book Kids Love

untitledWriting a children’s book is no easy task. While many people have the potential to write a children’s book, it takes a dedicated author to craft and publish a successful children’s book.

Here are five tips to remember when writing your children’s book:


Who is your audience? Are you writing a book for children in preschool, kindergarten or elementary school? Are you targeting a specific demographic or region? We were all children once, and some of us are still kids at heart. Knowing your audience will help you tap into your inner child, enabling you to write an engaging children’s book.


What is the message of your book? Are you merely telling a story, or are you teaching a life lesson? You can gather ideas for your book’s message by researching trending topics in children’s books. For example, bullying is a popular topic in children’s books right now. Furthermore, consider what parents would like to see addressed in children’s books.


When writing a children’s book it is easy to get wrapped up in clichés such as talking animals and fairy princesses. While you want to address popular subjects and trends in your book, you still want to make your tale different from the hundreds of other children’s books available. Foster originality by thinking back to your childhood and remembering the thoughts and feelings you had when your imagination ran free – what type of book would you have liked to read?

Don’t Talk Down

Today the stories told in children’s books are sophisticated and creative, encouraging readers to imagine a world or situation they’d never thought about before. While you should not write a story so complex that it is hard for children to follow, you also should not write a story so simple that it bores them. Instead, use rich language that will spawn learning and curiosity. A story will be more entertaining and worthwhile if it challenges your readers to think and ask questions.


An important factor in children’s book is the imagery used alongside the text. Will your book use real photographs, or will an illustrator draw all of the images? Whichever option you choose, you want to make sure the images are high-quality. Consider connecting with local artists or enlist a LifeRich artist to create custom illustrations for your book.

After you’ve finished you first draft of your children’s book you’ll want to get input from others. Share your work with your kids, nieces, nephews and your friends who are parents, teachers or childcare professionals. While your book should appeal to children, it’s also important that it contains what parents and teachers want to see as well. Listen to their ideas and use the constructive criticism. Be open to advice, and welcome new perspectives. Your willingness to learn and grow will make your children’s book the best it can be.


Ukraine forces ‘liberate’ Svyatohirsk from armed groups as anti-terror operation gets underway

by Christopher J. Miller

In what appears to be its first act after the restart of an anti-terror operation to purge Kremlin-backed separatists from eastern Ukraine, the country’s elite Interior Ministry forces “liberated” the resort town of Svyatohirsk in northern Donetsk Oblast “from unlawful armed groups,” the ministry reported on its website.
Prior to the operation, Ukrainian security officials had discovered the city’s monastery, the Svyatohirsk Assumption Lavra of the Moscow Patriarchate, served as a military base for the insurgents who have besieged the region.“The Interior Ministry’s special forces have freed the town of Svyatohirsk from an illegal armed group of separatists. Law enforcers who took part in the anti-terrorist operation drove the illegal armed groups out of the village. There have been no casualties,” the ministry’s report reads.Police are now patrolling and securing the city, it says.Svyatohirsk is of strategic importance, as it is located at the border of three regions: Donetsk, Kharkiv and Luhansk. Since the beginning of April armed pro-Russian insurgents have seized and occupied key Ukrainian government buildings in the country’s eastern regions. In recent days they have taken at least 16 persons, including journalists, hostage, tightened their grip on the regions and promised a long fight should Kyiv send in troops to force them out.In Sloviansk, the latest flash point in the Ukraine crisis, pro-Russian extremists on Wednesday showed no signs of backing down and warned that they will fight to the end.Separatist leader and self-appointed mayor of Sloviansk Vyacheslav Ponomaryov reportedly told a BBC journalist that “we will make Stalingrad out of this town,” referring to the five-month-long, bloody World War II battle in which the Soviet Red Army defeated the Nazis.As Kyiv resumed its anti-terror operation, Russia Foreign Minster Sergey Lavrov issued a stern warning that his country would “certainly respond” if Russians were attacked.“Russian citizens being attacked is an attack against the Russian Federation,” he said in an interview with the state-run Russia Today. “If our interests, our legitimate interests, the interests of Russians have been attacked directly, like they were in South Ossetia for example, I do not see any other way but to respond in accordance with international law,” he said.

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Migraine Herbal Home Remedies From Around the World

If you’re one of the 36 million Americans who suffers from migraines, you know they are much more significant than just a headache. The intense throbbing, pulsing, and excruciating pain that accompanies a migraine can be so debilitating that more than 90 percent of sufferers are unable to work or function normally during an attack (Migraine Research Foundation, 2013).
About one in five women and one in 10 men in the United States have experienced a migraine or severe headache in the past three months (CDC, 2010), and migraine ranks as one of the top 20 most disabling medical conditions worldwide (Migraine Research Foundation, 2013). A migraine can last up to 72 hours, and the 14 million people that suffer from chronic migraines live in fear of their next attack, knowing that it can happen at any time, without warning.Even with numerous drugs, lifestyle techniques, and surgical options available to treat and prevent the onset of a migraine, it is estimated that every 10 seconds someone in the United States goes to the emergency room with a migraine or headache due to the excruciating pain, severe nausea or dehydration, drug interactions, or side effects from headache medications (Migraine Research Foundation, 2013).
Finding the right combination of therapies to effectively manage migraines can be time-consuming and extremely difficult. While most migraine patients opt for traditional over-the-counter pain-relievers and prescription medications, many people are turning to more natural therapies such as relaxation techniques and herbal remedies.Humans have been using medicinal plants to treat health-related ailments for thousands of years—and migraines are no exception.Migraines have long been a health problem, and before the introduction of modern medicine, doctors and patients from cultures worldwide developed herbal remedies for headaches and other common migraine symptoms. Many of these herbal traditions have survived, allowing researchers to collect and test the ancient wisdom in modern clinical trials.Feverfew flowersFirst used in ancient Greece as early as the 5th century B.C., feverfew (also known as featherfew and many other common names) has been used to treat a wide variety of ailments, including fever, swelling, and inflammation of all sorts. In the first century, people commonly took the herb to relieve aches and pains such as headaches—much like we use modern-day aspirin. This usage gave it the moniker “medieval aspirin” (Pareek, Suthar, Rathore, & Bansal, 2011).

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