Old French sub ‘sinks’ US carrier group

USS Theodore Roosevelt (Reuters / Mark Wessels)

Both the French Defense Ministry and the Navy released and then quickly deleted a news post entitled “Le SNA Saphir en entraînement avec l’US Navy au large de la Floride” (“The SNA Sapphire in training with the US Navy off the coast of Florida”) that praised the 34-year-old French nuclear submarine’s success in “sinking” the American aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt along with best part of its escort.

The news, before it was deleted was spotted by several outlets, including The Aviationist blog, which disclosed the information which the French authorities initially shared.

The aim of the military games off the coast of Florida which began in mid-February were meant to test the newly upgraded carrier, which had undergone a four year, $ 2.6 billion overhaul, ahead of the Strike Group’s deployment. The drills involved practicing scenarios of hostile ship boarding, submarine attacks, and enemy ships battles.

During the first phase of the 10 days naval exercises, the French Saphir sub was part of the so-called friendly force to support anti-submarine warfare.

However, in the second phase of the games, the Saphir turned foe and was integrated with the imaginary enemy forces. Its mission become to locate Theodore Roosevelt and to prepare an attack on the strike group by guiding the ships.

During that last stage of the drills, the French sub snuck up undetected on US Carrier Strike Group 12 by penetrating a US defensive screen.

The Saphir has quietly slipped into the heart of the screen formed by the American frigates protecting the aircraft carrier, while avoiding detection against-pervasive air assets ,” the original release read as quoted by French Challenges blog. “On the morning of the last day, the order of fire was finally given, allowing the Saphir to fictitiously sink Theodore Roosevelt and most of its escort.”

No other details are available about the outcome of the exercise. The strike group will be deployed later this year to provide an overseas forward presence and maintain US maritime security abroad.

RT – Daily news

2 oil train cars ablaze after derailment in Illinois (PHOTOS)

The train derailed around 1:20 pm (19:20 GMT) in a rural area where the Galena River meets the Mississippi, according to railroad officials.

Galena city fire crews responded to the reports as soon as the emergency calls went through.

“The report that came back to me from them is that eight tanker cars had left the track,” Galena City Administrator Mark Moran told reporters. “Two of those were still upright, the other six were not. They observed at least one of those tankers smoking.”

No reports of injuries have so far surfaced, and no evacuations have been necessary, Moran said, adding that there are “no structures and no houses in that area.”

“I did confirm that the train crew was safely removed from the scene without injury,” he said.

Reuters meanwhile reports that two cars have ignited. The train had 105 loaded cars – 103 of which were carrying crude oil. BNSF has released two statements regarding the derailment, but has not confirmed reports of burning crude oil at the crash site.

Dubuque Fire Chief Rick Steines told local media he has deployed firefighters with foam fire suppression equipment to a derailment staging area. “We sent two people with our foam trailer because of a request we got form Jo Daviess County,” he said.

It’s still unclear what caused the derailment, according to a BNSF statement.

The railroad is working with local responders and has notified the National Transportation Safety Board and Federal Railroad Administration.

RT – Daily news

‘Ukraine’s disintegrating economy’ comment lands Polish deputy PM in hot water

RIA Novosti / Natalia Seliverstova

“These signals which are coming from Ukraine are very disturbing, because the economy there is beginning to disintegrate, economic ties are beginning to disintegrate,” Piechocinski said in an interview to Reuters released on Tuesday.

According to the deputy PM, Poland risks facing a huge influx of migrants from crisis-stricken Ukraine.

“In a black scenario of developments in Ukraine, one cannot exclude an inflow of a few hundred thousand emigrants to Poland. Looking at what has happened during the last year, one has to take into account all scenarios and be ready,” he said.

The Ukrainian elite have made disappointing progress in creating a Western-style democracy, Piechocinski believes.

“Unfortunately, the elites have disappointed. One year ago it seemed that Ukraine was on course to become a stable, predictable democracy of our sphere of values.”

READ MORE: ‘Something wrong with Ukraine, EU’: Czech leader condemns ‘Nazi torchlight parade’

However, Polish authorities didn’t entirely welcome Piechocinski’s statement, saying his position towards Ukraine was “unfair,” according to Polish media.

“This is the opinion of Mr. Deputy Prime Minister, he has the right to such opinions, but we see positive steps in these difficult times [in Ukraine],” said Poland’s government spokeswoman, Malgorzata Kidawa-Blonska.

READ MORE: Ukraine ‘modernization agency’ to seek revival of war-torn economy

“We will support this country so that positive processes take place there as soon as possible,” she added.

Ukraine is now trying to save its collapsing economy from hyperinflation, with official numbers showing prices are rising by 28.5 percent in annual terms. However, separate research by Johns Hopkins Professor Steve Hanke suggests the real inflation rate is 272 percent, the world’s highest, and well above Venezuela’s 127 percent rate.

READ MORE: Ukraine hikes rate to 30%, to avert hyperinflation and currency plunge

The domestic currency, the hryvnia, has lost about 70 percent since the start of the Maidan unrest nearly a year ago. The country’s National Bank is raising its benchmark interest rate to 30 percent from 19.5 percent, the biggest increase in 15 years.

READ MORE: Ukraine agrees tough austerity package to gain $ 17.5bn IMF bailout

Kiev has recently agreed tough austerity package to gain $ 17.5 billion IMF bailout. The changes also see a cut in pensions for retired people by 15 percent. Moreover, pension payments for people working in the tax, customs and regulatory bodies, will be suspended. The IMF is expected to approve the new aid package to Ukraine on March 11, 2015.

READ MORE: Ukraine ready to make ‘small’ prepayment to Gazprom by March 6 – energy minister

Ukraine is running out of the Russian gas it prepaid for in December, as the so-called ‘winter package’ expires at the end of March. Last week Russia warned Kiev that if it fails to make new advance payments, its gas supplies would stop this week.

READ MORE: Donbass blames Kiev ‘economic blockade’ for multi-currency introduction

Since the start of military crackdown on Donetsk and Lugansk Regions in April, Ukraine has lost access to one of its economically developed regions rich in coal reserves. The regions also saw massive decrease in the workforce, with people either fleeing the violence or joining the militias.

Amid the economic problems Ukraine announced a six-fold increase in military spending, which would reach an all-time record in 2015. Kiev says the money would be spent to reform its army to fight what it claims is a “Russian intervention” in eastern Ukraine.

RT – Daily news

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