A Russian military unit has arrived in Syria, according to Russian news reports, a development that a United Nations Security Council source told ABC News was "a bomb" certain to have serious repercussions.Russia, one of President Bashar al-Assad's strongest allies despite international condemnation of the government's violent crackdown on the country's uprising, has repeatedly blocked the United Nations Security Council's attempts to halt the violence, accusing the U.S. and its allies of trying to start another war.Now the Russian Black Sea fleet's Iman tanker has arrived in the Syrian port of Tartus on the Mediterranean Sea with an anti-terror squad from the Russian Marines aboard according to the Interfax news agency. The Assad government has insisted it is fighting a terrorist insurgency. The Russian news reports did not elaborate on the Russian troops' mission in Syria or if they are expected to leave the port.The presence of Russian troops in Syria could be a "pretty obvious" show of support to the regime, according to Russian security expert Mark Galeotti.Moscow has long enjoyed a cozy relationship with the Assad regime, to which it sells billions of dollars of weapons. In return Russia has maintained a Navy base at Tartus, which gives it access to the Mediterranean.
The contours of such a society are starting to take shape in this high-tech nation, frustrating those who prefer coins and bills over digital money.The decline of cash is noticeable even in houses of worship, like the Carl Gustaf Church in Karlshamn, southern Sweden, where Vicar Johan Tyrberg recently installed a card reader to make it easier for worshippers to make offerings."If people use more cards, they are less involved in shadow economy activities," says Schneider, an expert on underground economies.
Urging diplomacy are liberal groups like J Street, which is helped by $500,000 a year in contributions from the liberal philanthropist George Soros, and Tikkun, a Jewish journal that has begun running newspaper advertisements here and abroad that urge, “NO War on Iran and NO First Strike!” Tikkun, based in Berkeley, Calif., is hoping to link its antiwar message with the Occupy protests.