Wednesday, June 22, 2016
8 CANADIAN PROVINCES WANT THE CPP CHANGED-FOR THE GOOD OF THE CHILDREN OF COURSE.QUEBEC-MANITOBA DO NOT SIGN UP.
7 The first angel sounded, and there followed hail and fire mingled with blood, and they were cast upon the earth: and the third part of trees was burnt up, and all green grass was burnt up.
2nd firefighter dies battling huge Cyprus forest fire-[The Canadian Press]-Menelaos Hadjicostis, The Associated Press-June 21, 2016-YAHOONEWS
NICOSIA, Cyprus - A huge forest fire raging out of control for a third day in the mountains southwest of the Cyprus' capital of Nicosia has claimed the life of a second firefighter, authorities confirmed Tuesday.The announcement of 44-year-old Marios Aristotelous' death came a day after another colleague, Andreas Sophocleous, 49, lost his life in the line of duty. Both firefighters died from injuries sustained when their truck slid down a 20 metre-gully Monday.Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades and the head of Cyprus' Orthodox Christian Church Archbishop Chrysostomos II said they were distraught at the news of the firefighters' deaths and pledged to financially support their families.A third firefighter remains in critical condition with head injuries suffered in a separate accident Sunday when his truck overturned.Forestry Department spokesman Andreas Christou said three more planes, one from Italy and two from France, are expected later Tuesday to join 16 other aircraft from Greece, Israel, Cyprus and Britain.Some 350 firefighters and volunteers along with more than 60 vehicles are trying to contain one of Cyprus' largest forest fires in difficult terrain amid a heat wave with temperatures surging to over 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit). The fire has scorched around 15 square kilometres (5.8 sq. miles) of trees and countryside.The Forestry Department said crews have checked the fire's spread on several fronts, but are battling to contain flare-ups in the northeastern foothills of the Troodos mountain range.The blaze prompted Anastasiades to postpone Tuesday's scheduled meeting with breakaway Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci as part of talks aiming to reunify ethnically divided Cyprus so he can visit the affected areas.___This story has been corrected to say both firefighters died from injuries sustained in same accident.
Deal on Canada Pension Plan reform was swift in policy-making terms-[The Canadian Press]-Andy Blatchford, The Canadian Press-June 21, 2016-YAHOONEWS
OTTAWA - In two and a half years, Canadians will gradually start paying more premiums into the Canada Pension Plan.In several decades, supporters say the "historic" CPP deal reached Monday between Ottawa and most provinces will boost retirement security for future generations.But by policy-making standards, the agreement-in-principle — an unlikely outcome just a few months ago — happened in the blink of an eye.Even the federal finance minister, a pension expert, had given himself until the end of the year to finish up negotiations.Instead, the provinces are now being asked to finalize an agreement by July 15 that will eventually increase contributions and retirement benefits through the public plan.Following weeks of talks and an all-day meeting in Vancouver on Monday, finance ministers emerged with the agreement-in-principle.Even provinces such as Saskatchewan and British Columbia, which had expressed concerns about the timing of CPP reform, had signed on. Only Manitoba and Quebec declined to agree to the terms.The agreement came together as pollsters pointed to overwhelming popular support for public pension reform amid concerns about the adequacy of retirement savings.The federal Liberals ran on platform to upgrade the public pension system, as did their Ontario cousins. The result also means Ontario will abandon its project to go it alone with its own pension plan.How did this all happen so quickly? Sources familiar with the talks said doubters had concerns about the potential economic impact of boosting the CPP, even at the late stages of negotiations.They said Ottawa made a major push in the final days and hours, which helped secure enough country-wide support to expand the CPP. To make the change, they needed consent of a minimum of seven provinces representing at least two-thirds of Canada's population.The sources also suggested Prime Minister Justin Trudeau himself was involved in the extra effort.On top of that, Ontario, which had been moving forward its more-ambitious pension plan proposal, backed away from its earlier demands that CPP reform should be just as robust.Ontario Finance Minister Charles Sousa said in an interview Monday after the announcement that the swift agreement was driven by several factors.Sousa said all of his counterparts agreed there were "undersaving issues." He also said that Ontario's proposed pension plan — and its parameters — gave ministers around the table an example to examine.And some provinces, especially those hit hard by the commodity-price shock, were looking for only a gradual implementation due to the fragile economy, Sousa added.The agreement Monday states the CPP premium increases on workers and employees will only start to be phased in on Jan. 1, 2019. Ontario's increase was set to begin in 2018.British Columbia Finance Minister Michael de Jong said the deal was reached in part because of compromises and the desire to maintain a single, portable CPP across Canada."We think this strikes the right balance in that regard," de Jong told reporters after the announcement.The deal, however, wasn't embraced by everyone.Federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau said Manitoba needed more time to examine the deal since its government was only a few weeks old."This comes very fast and hard for them," Morneau said of Manitoba, whose finance minister wasn't present for the news conference.Quebec refused to sign the deal out of concern a broad-based premium increase would have a negative impact of low-income earners, the province's finance minister said in an interview.The province operates its own sister program of the CPP — the Quebec Pension Plan. Quebec can adjust the QPP as it likes, but it has typically followed the CPP.Quebec Finance Minister Carlos Leitao said in an interview he will raise QPP premiums according to the CPP deal. He said would also phase them in over the same period.But unlike the broader-based CPP reform agreement, he said Quebec would only raise premiums on income earned above $27,500.That's why Quebec didn't sign the agreement-in-principle, Leitao said."Those people already have a hard time saving, so their disposable income is pretty tight — and I think by taking the decision that we took, we will avoid an unfair tax on them and also on their employers," he said."As we know, payroll taxes tend to be the most economically inefficient taxes."To help offset the effect on low-income earners of increased CPP premiums, Ottawa said would it enhance the federal Working Income Tax Benefit and provide a tax deduction.Critics of CPP expansion have also said it would squeeze workers and employers by imposing additional contributions — and hurt the economy.Dan Kelly, the president of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, warned that the CPP expansion is "pretty devastating" for small businesses."The big question I ask myself is what was the size of the federal cheques that were written to some of these provinces to get them to the table?" Kelly said.Others were thrilled by the announcement.The head of an organization that has been campaigning for CPP reform for years said Monday's deal would create the first benefits increase for the plan since it was created in 1966."It's really historic — I never thought this moment would come," said Hassan Yussuff, president of the Canadian Labour Congress.— Follow @AndyBlatchford on Twitter
Canada and provinces reach preliminary deal on pension plan reform-[By Julie Gordon]-June 20, 2016-YAHOONEWS
VANCOUVER (Reuters) - Canada's federal government and provinces agreed in principle on Monday to support a compromise plan to expand the national pension plan that would see premiums raised moderately over time to provide greater payouts for pensioners.The proposed changes, if formally approved by the provinces, would start in 2019 and be phased in over seven years, according to the plan signed by eight provincial finance ministers and federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau.Reforming the Canada Pension Plan, or CPP, requires the support of the country's federal government plus seven of the 10 provinces, representing two-thirds of the Canadian population.Like other governments around the world, Canada faces a challenge to provide for its aging population. The CPP has been deemed by some experts as insufficient to provide enough income in retirement without being supplemented by a workplace pension.Fewer employers are offering workplace pensions and those that do are reducing the benefits of those plans, prompting advocates to lobby for CPP reform.The previous federal Conservative government refused to consider changes, which prompted Ontario's Liberal government to come up with its own plan to boost retirement security for residents in the absence of a national solution.The election of a federal Liberal government last October opened the door to new cooperation, although securing the required backing among provinces proved challenging.The proposed changes, following a day of talks between Morneau and his provincial counterparts, are revised from Ontario's proposal and will now be considered by the provinces. If approved, a final agreement could be formalized within weeks."I think we have reached a balanced approach to satisfying the objectives that were set out - that is a modest enhancement, that is fully funded and is affordable," British Columbia Finance Minister Michael de Jong told reporters.The agreement means Ontario will likely not go ahead with its proposed Ontario Retirement Pension Plan.Quebec, which has its own pension plan, did not sign on but expressed its support for "modest, targeted and gradual enhancements." Manitoba is the only other province that did not sign the deal.Under the current plan, both employers and employees contribute 4.95 percent of income up to a C$54,900 ($42,927) cap. The maximum payout is C$13,110 annually, lower than that of other wealthy nations.With the new deal, the earnings cap would rise to C$82,700 by 2025, with the income replacement level increasing to one-third of the cap.(Additional reporting by Matt Scuffham in Toronto; Editing by Leslie Adler and Peter Cooney)
Giant Mutant Rats Invade One Of UK’s Biggest Eco-Communities-[Yahoo News]-June 21, 2016
Residents at one of Britain’s biggest eco-communities are terrified of leaving their homes after the development was invaded by giant mutant rats.The rodents, that measure upwards of ten inches long, have decided to take up residence in the BedZed carbon-neutral development in Hackbridge, Surrey, and have been witnessed JUMPING at people living there.Scared locals are now calling on the council and estate managers Peabody to bring in some heavy-duty poisons to get rid of the massive rat infestation.Elodie Ledent, a resident on the 82-home estate, said: “I’m scared to take my bin out now, they jump out at you as you open the bins to throw the rubbish away."I have even taken my rubbish out to the bin in the street because the rats are not afraid to come close to you."I first told Peabody about this problem with the rats in October and they have not done much since.”She put the blame on the invasion on some residents leaving their rubbish out of the bins.BedZed tenant Marianne Rasmussen added: “When people are coming home at night you can hear them as they see rats run across the path.”Housing association Peabody Estates said it was investigating the problem, which has also been reported to Sutton Council.A spokesman added: "We’ve visited the site regularly with our pest control experts, and believe there could be nest sites near the river."We’ve been laying bait and are looking at what action we can take, such as moving compost bins or securing them in metal containers, to improve the situation."We’ll keep residents updated about how we are tackling the problem and our next steps.”A Sutton Council spokesman said: “The responsibility for keeping land clear of rats or mice rests with the owner or occupier, not the council."However, the council will carry out enforcement action when necessary.”
Greece's bailout funds released; EU's Juncker hails Greek efforts-[Reuters]-June 21, 2016-YAHOONEWS
ATHENS (Reuters) - Greece got more than 7 billion euros in bailout funds on Tuesday after a review of the country's progress in implementing economic reforms, the head of the euro zone's bailout fund told reporters in Athens.Greece needs the money to pay off growing state arrears, maturing ECB bonds and International Monetary Fund loans. Talks with its foreign creditors over Greece's efforts to implement a reform program have dragged on for six months.The European Stability Mechanism "disbursed today 7.5 billion euros ($8.50 billion) to Greece," Klaus Regling, the managing director of the fund, said after meeting Greek Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos in Athens.Athens will use 5.6 billion euros of the amount to pay debts and 1.8 billion euros for state arrears.The ESM, Greece's largest creditor, will continue to loan Athens money under favorable conditions. Interest rates charged on Greek loans are at 0.8 percent currently and the average maturity of the loans is 32 years, Regling said."We want to help the Greek economy for the entire period," he said, but "we don't know exactly, given that forecasts are very uncertain, what the needs in a few years time will be."Regling said that a 3.5 percent primary surplus target, which Greece has agreed to achieve in 2018, should be respected. The International Monetary Fund has said the target is unrealistic and would prefer it being lowered to 2.0 percent."I'm absolutely content," said European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, who was visiting Athens when Regling met with Tsakalotos. "Greece is on the right path and I would like it to have national ownership of the programs which are currently being implemented."(Reporting by Lefteris Papadimas and George Georgiopoulos, editing by Larry King)
Britain's EU referendum nail-bitingly close two days before vote-[Reuters]-By Michael Holden-June 21, 2016-YAHOONEWS
LONDON (Reuters) - With two days to go until Britain's referendum on EU membership that will shape the future of the European Union and the West, polls and surveys indicated public opinion is so divided that the outcome is too close to call.Britons vote on Thursday on whether to quit the 28-nation bloc amid warnings from world leaders, investors and companies that a decision to leave would diminish the former imperial power's political and economic influence, unleash turmoil on markets and send shock waves around the Western world.As each side sought to play its last trump cards, the pro-EU "Britain Stronger in Europe" campaign issued a final poster of a door leading into a dark void with the slogan: "Leave and there's no going back."And former England soccer captain David Beckham, a hugely popular public figure, added his voice to Remain's list of celebrity supporters. "For our children and their children we should be facing the problems of the world together and not alone," he said.Leave campaigners stepped up their relentless focus on what they call uncontrolled immigration, saying Prime Minister David Cameron had been warned four years ago his goal of reducing net arrivals was impossible due to EU rules.The anti-EU UK Independence Party issued a poster showing a traffic jam with the message "The school over-run" and saying nearly one in four of Britain's primary schools were full or oversubscribed.The EU - already shaken by differences over migration and the future of the euro zone - would lose its second-largest economy, one of its top two military powers and by far its richest financial center.George Soros, the billionaire who bet against the pound in 1992, wrote in an article for the Guardian newspaper that a vote to leave would trigger a bigger, more disruptive devaluation than the fall on Black Wednesday, when market pressure forced sterling out of the European Exchange Rate Mechanism.There could also be severe political ramifications, with many in the Brexit camp regarding Cameron's leadership as untenable if there is a vote to leave.Justice Secretary Michael Gove, a senior government figure and one of the leading voices of the Leave camp, said he would "reflect" on his own position depending on the outcome.-KNIFE EDGE-Sterling has been climbing in recent days on the back of more positive opinion polls, suggesting the mood of the public was swinging behind the "In" camp, but even its supporters said the result was on a knife edge."Things have improved for the 'Remain' side in last few days but it could still be very close ... I have more confidence over the last few days," junior finance minister Greg Hands told investors at a conference on Tuesday.An ORB poll for Tuesday's Daily Telegraph newspaper found support for Remain at 53 percent, up 5 percentage points on the previous one, with support for Leave on 46 percent, down three points."All the signs of ORB's latest and final poll point to a referendum that will truly come down to the wire," said Lynton Crosby, a political strategist who advised the ruling Conservative Party at the last national election in 2015.The "Leave" camp had "failed to quash the almost ubiquitous perception that it is the riskier of the two options," he said.Social research body NatCen also published a survey that found Remain on 53 percent and Leave on 47 percent, using a method that took on recommendations by an official inquiry into why pollsters got last year's election wrong, although its research was conducted from May 16 to June 12.However, an online poll by YouGov for The Times showed Leave ahead on 44 percent, up one point, with Remain on 42 percent, down two points.Campaigning was suspended for three days after the murder of pro-EU lawmaker Jo Cox, who was shot and stabbed to death in her constituency in northern England last Thursday.Some "Leave" campaigners accuse the "Remain" camp of exploiting the death as part of what they portray as a campaign of scaremongering by the establishment at home and abroad.Turnout is predicted to be key to the result, and the ORB poll found that Remain supporters, who had been regarded as being more apathetic, were becoming increasingly motivated to vote as polling day approaches.-STERLING, SHARES BOOST-Prior to the murder of Cox, polls had shifted towards "Leave", and the indication that an "In" vote was now more likely has boosted sterling. The pound hit its highest level against the dollar since the start of the year on Tuesday.According to Betfair betting odds, the implied probability of a British vote to remain in the EU was 75 percent. But analysts in the financial markets were more cautious."We will go into the vote without high confidence in predicting the outturn in either direction," JPMorgan researcher Malcolm Barr said in a note to clients.The "Out" campaign says it is the anti-establishment choice, and its message that EU membership has handed political control to Brussels and fueled mass immigration appears to have struck a chord with many Britons.That issue again gained prominence when Cameron's former close aide Steve Hilton said civil servants had explicitly told the prime minister four years ago that his target to cut net immigration to the tens of thousands was unachievable because of the free movement demanded by the EU."There are good ways of controlling immigration ... but pulling out of the single market, wrecking our economy, that is a bad way," Cameron told ITV's "Lorraine" program.The Remain camp has focused mostly on the economic benefits of EU membership and the risks posed by leaving.Pro-EU leaders, including former prime ministers Tony Blair and John Major, have warned that an exit could also trigger the break-up of the United Kingdom by prompting another Scottish independence vote if England pulled Scotland out of the EU.(Additional reporting by Elisabeth O'Leary, John Geddie and Estelle Shirbon; Editing by Guy Faulconbridge and Paul Taylor)
WORLD POWERS IN THE LAST DAYS (END OF AGE OF GRACE NOT THE WORLD)
EUROPEAN UNION-KING OF WEST-DAN 9:26-27,DAN 7:23-24,DAN 11:40,REV 13:1-10
EGYPT-KING OF THE SOUTH-DAN 11:40
RUSSIA-KING OF THE NORTH-EZEK 38:1-2,EZEK 39:1-3
CHINA-KING OF THE EAST-DAN 11:44,REV 9:16,18
VATICAN-RELIGIOUS LEADER-REV 13:11-18,REV 17:4-5,9,18
11 The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence.(WORLD TERRORISM,MURDERS)(HAMAS IN HEBREW IS VIOLENCE)
12 And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth.
13 And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence (TERRORISM)(HAMAS) through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth.
11 And the angel of the LORD said unto her,(HAGAR) Behold, thou art with child, and shalt bear a son, and shalt call his name Ishmael;(FATHER OF THE ARAB/MUSLIMS) because the LORD hath heard thy affliction.
12 And he (ISHMAEL-FATHER OF THE ARAB-MUSLIMS) will be a wild (DONKEY-JACKASS) man;(ISLAM IS A FAKE AND DANGEROUS SEX FOR MURDER CULT) his hand will be against every man,(ISLAM HATES EVERYONE) and every man's hand against him;(PROTECTING THEMSELVES FROM BEING BEHEADED) and he (ISHMAEL ARAB/MUSLIM) shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren.(LITERAL-THE ARABS LIVE WITH THEIR BRETHERN JEWS)
12 How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer,(SATAN) son of the morning!(HEBREW-CRECENT MOON-ISLAM) how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!
13 For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north:
14 I (SATAN HAS EYE TROUBLES) will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.(AND 1/3RD OF THE ANGELS OF HEAVEN FELL WITH SATAN AND BECAME DEMONS)
2 They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service.(ISLAM MURDERS IN THE NAME OF MOON GOD ALLAH OF ISLAM)
French police arrest one, swoop on houses in cop killer investigation-[Reuters]-June 21, 2016-YAHOONEWS
PARIS (Reuters) - French police on Tuesday arrested a man with suspected links to the killer of a police commander and raided several houses, the prosecutor's office said, part of a deepening investigation into last week's attack claimed by Islamic State.The police probe is focusing on suspected associates of Larossi Abballa, the Frenchman of Moroccan origin who pledged allegiance to the Islamist militant group and told police negotiators during the attack that he had answered a call to "kill infidels at home with their families.""There was a chance that these people might carry out other attacks against police officers. We were removing any doubt," said the Versailles prosecutor leading the investigation.The prosecutor did not name the man who had been detained and it was not immediately clear whether police missed other targets or decided no further arrests were required.Tuesday's swoop came after the Paris prosecutor's office said on Saturday that two other suspected associates were to be placed under investigation for membership of a terrorist organisation.Abballa stabbed 42-year-old Jean-Baptiste Salvaing to death in a suburb west of Paris before taking Salvaing's partner, Jessica Schneider, and their son hostage. He used a knife to kill Schneider before he was shot dead by elite commandos.Abballa was jailed in 2013 for his involvement in a militant recruitment network that sent young men to Pakistan. The men placed under investigation on Saturday, named as Charaf-Din Aberouz and Saad Rajraji, were founding members of the group and sentenced alongside Abballa, prosecutors said.At this stage, investigators have not made any direct link between Aberouz and Rajraji and the killings last Monday, the first Islamic State-inspired attack in France since militant gunmen and bombers killed 130 people in Paris last November.(Reporting by Chine Labbe; writing by Richard Lough; Editing by Andrew Callus)
Iraqi forces retake two Falluja districts from Islamic State, push west-[Reuters]-June 21, 2016-YAHOONEWS
BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraq's armed forces pressed on with their offensive to retake the city of Falluja from Islamic State on Tuesday, dislodging the militants from two eastern districts and pushing them back into a handful of northern and western neighbourhoods.A military statement said the elite counter-terrorism forces took the northeastern Shurta police district while units from Baghdad operations command recaptured the Askari military neighbourhood.Islamic State still held the northern districts of Jughaifi and Golan as well as the western banks of the Tigris river.Fighting to recapture the Iraqi city longest held by Islamic State, now in its fifth week, has forced more than 85,000 residents to flee to overwhelmed government-run camps.Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said last week that the recapture of Falluja would pave the way for the military to march on Mosul, Islamic State's de facto capital.The operation's commander Lieutenant General Abdul Wahab al-Saidi told Reuters on Monday that U.S.-backed Iraqi forces expected the final push would take place in the west.The Iraqi army is also pressing on with an offensive to dislodge the militants from farmlands located on the western bank of the Euphrates, opposite the built-up area of Falluja, that the militants use as a base for snipers and mortar attacks."The simultaneous attacks are continuing from four directions to tighten the noose around Daesh (Islamic State)fighters entrenched in houses among civilians and prevent them from catching their breath," said Colonel Ahmed al-Saidi from the federal police.Government troops launched the operation on May 23 to retake Falluja, a bastion of the Sunni Muslim insurgency against U.S. forces that toppled Saddam Hussein, a Sunni, in 2003, and later against Shi'ite-led governments-The militants seized Falluja in January 2014, six months before they declared a "caliphate" over part of Syria and Iraq.(Reporting by Ahmed Rasheed; Writing by Maher Chmaytelli; Editing by Richard Balmforth)
IS regains control of areas it lost to Syrian government-[The Canadian Press]-The Associated Press-June 21, 2016-YAHOONEWS
BEIRUT - The Islamic State group has launched a counteroffensive in Syria's northern province of Raqqa, retaking wide areas the militants recently lost to government troops.The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Tuesday that the government forces have lost all territories they gained in Raqqa province since launching their offensive in early June.The IS-linked Aamaq news agency posted a video showing the extremists in control of Thawra oil field as warplanes strike nearby.Syrian journalist Eyad al-Hosain, embedded with the army, wrote on his Facebook page that even if special forces "retreat for hours they will come back."The provincial capital of Raqqa that carries the same name is the de facto capital for IS.
Powers must push for political solution in Syria - U.N.[Reuters]-June 21, 2016-YAHOONEWS
GENEVA (Reuters) - United Nations war crimes investigators called on world powers on Tuesday to pressure the warring sides in Syria to return to the negotiating table to end the conflict and civilian suffering.Paulo Pinheiro, chair of the U.N. independent commission of inquiry on Syria, said that the Syrian government was conducting daily air strikes, while militant groups including Islamic State also carried out indiscriminate attacks."We need all states to insist time and time again that influential states and the (U.N.) Security Council unconditionally support the political process," Pinheiro told the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva.The Syrian government and opposition High Negotiations Committee (HNC) - who ended the last round of talks in Geneva in late April - must resume talks and agree to confidence-building measures, including an end to indiscriminate bombings, granting access to besieged areas and releasing prisoners, he said."Schools, hospitals, mosques, water stations - they are all being turned into rubble," Pinheiro said. "Tens of thousands are trapped between frontlines and borders in the north and south of Syria."Syria's ambassador Hussam Aala, in a speech to the rights forum, accused regional powers of "supporting terrorism" and "causing the failure of intra-Syrian talks in Geneva".He said schools and hospitals in Aleppo were being destroyed and civilians killed by missiles provided by Turkey and Qatar to the Nusra Front, al Qaeda's Syrian branch.European Union ambassador Peter Sorensen said: "The EU condemns the excessive, disproportionate and indiscriminate attacks that the Syrian regime continues to commit against its own people."(Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; Editing by Dominic Evans)
EU envoys extend economic sanctions on Russia until end-January - sources-[By Gabriela Baczynska and Alastair Macdonald]-June 21, 2016-YAHOONEWS
BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Union's Brussels envoys agreed on Tuesday to extend until the end of January the energy, financial and defence sanctions on Russia over the conflict in Ukraine, diplomatic sources said.The bloc's ministers have yet to formally approve the six-month roll-over but diplomats said there was no doubt they would. France and Britain asked for time to receive comments from their parliaments, though these have no power to block it.Diplomats said formal ministerial approval had been pencilled in for a meeting in Luxembourg on Friday although it could be held over until an EU leaders summit next week, or even later.After more than two years of sanctions slapped over Moscow's annexation of Crimea from Kiev and backing for east Ukraine's rebels, the EU is planning a broader review of its policy vis-à-vis Russia in the second half of this year.The German foreign minister and the Italian prime minister are among a growing chorus of politicians pushing for sanctions relief. In April, the French parliament approved a non-binding resolution calling for the lifting of EU sanctions.They say the EU can no longer afford to miss out on trading with Russia and that any sanctions should only be a temporary rather than stay in place for too long if they fail to force a change of policy from the Kremlin.Poland and the Baltic states are more wary of Russia and say the restrictions must hold until a troubled peace plan for east Ukraine is fully implemented.More than 9,000 people died in fighting there and rival sides in the conflict must yet withdraw heavy arms from the region, Kiev should organise local elections there and Moscow is bound to help Ukraine regain control of its border with Russia.The EU needs unanimity to decide on sanctions, some of which were slapped over Russia's annexation of Crimea from Kiev in March 2014, a move that was not recognised by any country in the world. Russia vows not to give back the Black Sea peninsula.That leaves diplomats in Berlin and Brussels looking at options for a potential partial or gradual sanctions relief.European Council President Donald Tusk plans to dedicate an evening working session to the bloc's policy vis-à-vis Russia and the conflict in Ukraine when he chairs a summit of the 28 EU leaders in October.(Reporting by Gabriela Baczynska, Alastair Macdonald, additional reporting by Leigh Thomas in Paris; editing by Ralph Boulton)
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