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Poet and Efran Kaye's tribute
to everyone killed in wars.
Bless the large numbers of Ethiopians, the many good people in Indonesia, and the folks of Russia, Greece and Egypt, who are now playing it.
100% CERTAIN 9/11 WAS MOSSAD OPERATION
Most US people polled believe that 9/11 was an "inside job", but what would they feel if they found out that it was designed by Zionists who deliberately killed thousands of innocent US citizens to drive the US into wars on Muslims?
They'd be angry, right?
Fernando Imposimato, the President of the Italian Supreme Court, calls for a criminal investigation of 9/11, comparing the attack to false flag incidents carried out by the CIA in Italy: Operation Gladio.
"The 9/11 attacks were a global state terror operation permitted by the administration of the USA, which had foreknowledge of the operation yet remained intentionally unresponsive in order to make war against Afghanistan and Iraq," Imposimato declares in a letter published by the Journal of 9/11 Studies.
Ferdinando Imposimato is the Honorary President of the Supreme Court of Italy and a former Senator who served on the Anti-Mafia Commission in three administrations. He is the author or co-author of seven books on international terrorism, state corruption, and related matters, and a Grand Officer of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Italy.
As a former state prosecutor, Imposimato has extensive experience in investigating high-profile crimes, including the kidnapping and assassination of Italian Prime Minster Aldo Moro and the attempted assassination of Pope John Paul II. He also worked on the Anti- Mafia commission as a Senator, giving him a wealth of knowledge on the inner workings of organized crime syndicates.
Imposimato points to several facts contradicting the official 9/11 story, including the free-fall collapse of WTC Building 7, the report that the CIA met with Osama Bin Laden in a Dubai hospital in July 2001, and the overwhelming evidence of insider trading before 9/11 that didn't lead to any criminal charges, reports digitaljournal.com
The following is an excerpt from Imposimato’s letter published by the Journal of 9/11 Studies on Sunday:
The reports of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), November 20, 2005, set forth the following conclusions: The airplanes that struck each of the Twin Towers caused a breach as well as an explosion evidenced by a giant fireball. The remaining jet fuel flowed onto the lower floors, sustaining the fires. The heat from the fires deformed the building structures and both towers collapsed completely from top to bottom. Very little that was of any size remained after these events except steel as well as aluminum fragments and the pulverized dust from the concrete floors.
The World Trade Center 7 also collapsed–in a way that was inconsistent with the common experience of engineers. All three buildings collapsed completely, but Building 7 was not hit by a plane. WTC7’s collapse violated common experience and was unprecedented.
The NIST report does not analyze the actual nature of the collapses. According to experts at the Toronto Hearings (Sept. 8-11, 2011), the collapses had features that indicate controlled explosions. I agree with architect Richard Gage and engineer Jon Cole, both highly experienced professionals [from Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth – now numbering 1,700 strong], who have arrived at their conclusions through reliable tests, scientific proof, and the visual testimony of people above suspicion, including firefighters and victims. The authoritative theologian David Ray Griffin has described very precisely why the hypothesis of controlled demolition should be taken into consideration. Various witnesses heard bursts of explosions.
According to NIST the collapse of Building 7 was due to fires provoked by the collapse of the twin towers. Chemist and independent researcher Kevin Ryan, however, has demonstrated that NIST gave contradictory versions of the collapse of Building 7. In a preliminary report NIST declared that WTC7 was destroyed because of fires provoked by diesel fuel stored in the building, while in a second report this fuel was no longer considered the cause of the building’s collapse. Additional comments on the NIST version of events have been made by David Chandler, another expert witness at the Journal of 9/11 Studies Letters, September 2012 Toronto Hearings. Despite NIST’s claim of three distinct phases of collapse, Chandler pointed out that many available videos show that for about two and a half seconds the acceleration of the building cannot be distinguished from freefall. NIST has been obliged to agree with this empirical fact as pointed out by Chandler; now understandable by everyone.
The only possibility for achieving justice is to submit the best evidence concerning the involvement of specific individuals in 9/11 to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court and ask him to investigate according to the articles 12, 13, 15 and 17, letters a and b, of the Statute of the ICC, recalling also the preamble of the Statute:
“Recognizing that such grave crimes threaten the peace, security and the well being of the world,”
“Affirming that the most serious crimes of concern to the international community as a whole must not go unpunished and that their effective prosecution must be ensured by taking measures at the national level and by enhancing international cooperation, ”
“Determined to put an end to impunity for the perpetrators of these crimes and thus to contribute to the prosecution of such crimes, recalling that it is the duty of every state to exercise its jurisdiction over those responsible for international crimes." reports infowars.com
More and more people from all walks of life and all professions seem to be questioning the “official” narrative of what happened on 9/11. Those who are questioning the events of 9/11 may be moving under the radar of the corporate media from being labeled “conspiracy theorists” to legitimate investigators with legitimate questions and concerns, reports examiner.com
Theorists believe that the World Trade Center buildings were demolished by bombs, phone calls from the planes were made up, and the former President George W. Bush secretly profited from the attacks, reports newsone.com
The World Trade Center collapse appeared similar to a controlled demolition. Many speculate that the towers were in fact blown down with explosives placed in selected locations. Some witnesses heard explosions inside the building as they attempted to escape. Many architects and scientists maintain that plane fuel couldn't produce enough heat to melt the steel frame of the buildings that collapsed, reports newsone.com
TEN REASONS WHY THE US WONT CUT "AID" TO EGYPT
1. The US doesn’t give much aid to the Egyptian people per se. Only $250 million a year out of $1.55 billion is civilian. The aid is to cement a relationship between the Egyptian officer corps and the Pentagon.
2. The military aid, $1.3 billion a year, is mostly in-kind, a grant of weaponry. It must be spent on US weapons manufacturers. It is US arms manufacturers like Lockheed-Martin and General Dynamics (and their employees) who would suffer if it were cut off.
3. The Congress gave the Egyptian Generals a credit card to buy weapons, and they’ve run up $3 billion on it for F-16s and M1A1 tanks. If the US cancelled aid, it's the US who would have to pick up that bill.
4. Even most of the civilian aid is required to be spent on US goods and materiel. It is corporate welfare for the US.
5. The aid was given as a bribe to the Egyptian elite to make nice with Israel. Given the chaos in Sinai, and Egypt’s instability, Congress is more worried about that issue than at any time in 40 years.
6. The Israelis asked the US not to suspend the aid.
7. Congress even structured the economic aid, to require some of it to help joint Israeli-Egyptian enterprises in Egypt, so part of the aid to Egypt, actually goes to . . . Israel.
8. It is not generally recognized, but the Egyptian army is a “security umbrella” for Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the UAE against Iran (and often Iraq). The Persian Gulf oil states also have powerful Washington lobbies and want Egypt to continue as a Gurkha force. Children, can you say oil?
9. Many in the US Congress don’t disagree with the generals’ actions in overthrowing the Muslim Brotherhood-backed Freedom and Justice Party and driving it underground, since they agree it is a terrorist organization.
10. Behind the scenes, Egyptian military intelligence has helped the US track down extremists, and in the Mubarak era ran black sites where they tortured suspected al-Qaeda for Washington. The US deep state would like to ramp that relationship back up.
(from an article by Press TV, 'opinion')
Independence Square in Kiev, February 20th, 2014 (Reuters/Maks Levin)
LATEST NEWS TUESDAY
REPUBLIC OF CRIMEA BORN TODAY (QUOTES KOSOVO AS PRECEDENT)
The parliament of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea today, adopts its declaration of independence from Ukraine - necessary for holding the March 16th referendum.
“We, the members of the parliament of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the Sevastopol City Council, with regard to the charter of the United Nations and a range of other international documents, taking into consideration the confirmation of Kosovo's status by the United Nations' International Court of Justice on July 22nd, 2010, which says a unilateral declaration of independence by a part of a country doesn’t violate any international norms, make this decision,” says the text of the declaration, published by the Crimean media.
The document is adopted at an extraordinary session of Crimea's parliament.
78 of 100 members of parliament, voted in favour of the declaration.
The Crimean parliament’s vote to become an independent sovereign state paves the way for a March 16th referendum in the Crimean Autonomous Republic and the city of Sevastopol, to join Russia.
If the referendum is in favour, the Crimean authorities will request that their country becomes a constituent republic of the Russian Federation.
The declaration was signed by the speaker of the Supreme Council of Crimea, Vladimir Konstantinov, and the head of Sevastopol City Council, Yury Doynikov.
“We adopted the declaration of independence to make the upcoming referendum legitimate and transparent,” Konstantinov says.
“Now we declare ourselves the Republic of Crimea, we don’t add ‘autonomous."
After today’s declaration of independence, Crimea will never rejoin Ukraine, he adds.
He says Crimea will adopt the Russian ruble as its currency, shortly after the referendum.
ANTI-FASCISTS TO WORLD LEADERS - ARE YOU FOR FASCISM IN UKRAINE?
World Without Nazism, the international human rights movement led by Boris Spiegel warns of the threat Ukraine's Neo-Nazis pose to ALL minorities.
“The absence of any international community reaction could repeat the Kristallnacht [Night of Broken Glass] for non-Ukrainians and other ethnic minorities,” the movement says Tuesday.
The human rights activists urge world leaders “to take concrete measures to protect human rights & prevent violence & genocide in Ukraine”.
World Without Nazism considers as dishonest, the position of certain Jewish leaders, who “consider the communities’ state satisfactory when synagogues are on fire and when Jews face danger”.
The movement fears that, soon, Nazism may be an official policy of the Ukrainian authorities.
The human rights activists ask: “who can condemn Crimean residents, who want to get rid of Nazis and set up people’s power on the peninsula?”
“Only those who want to see Europe under Nazi and radical nationalists will condemn Crimea,” they answer.
CRIMEA BANS NEO-NAZI GROUPS
Crimea’s Supreme Council has banned the activity of pro-fascist & Neo-Nazi political parties and public organisations, including the Right Sector, the Crimean parliament's press service says in a statement Tuesday.
The Right Sector leader has been put on the international wanted list for terrorism, the press service says.
Such parties as UNA-UNSO, Patriots of Ukraine, Carpathian Sich and others, are also banned, as they “pose a threat to Crimea’s security”, the press service states.
“Crimea is shocked by the chaos that prevails in many Ukrainian regions,” the press service says, and “The statement by the Right Sector extremist group gives serious concern, since its actions have led to escalating violence on the peninsula."
CRIMEA's TATARS GRANTED FULL RIGHTS
A resolution passed by the Crimean parliament guarantees proportional representation in the republic’s legislative and executive bodies for the Crimean Tatar ethnic minority, and grants their language official status, and other rights.
The resolution stipulates proportional representation in future parliaments and provides for at least 20% of seats in Crimea’s executive for Crimean Tatars. They will have guaranteed representation in the lower levels of government, as well.
The parliament also wants to recognize as official all the self-governance bodies of Crimean Tatars, starting with the Kurultai, a Tatar general assembly.
Crimean MPs pledge to fund programs to support the Tatar community in Crimea and repatriation of Crimean Tatars, who were deported from the peninsula by Stalin's Soviet government in the 1940s.
There will also be recognition of the Tatars’ cultural impact on Crimea through the return of the original names of some geographical features, such as mountains or rivers, that were changed at the time of the deportation.
Parliament Speaker Vladimir Konstantinov calls the bill “historic” and says Crimean Tatars have been waiting for the reform for 70 years.
“The Crimean Tatar people have not been offered anything like this from either the Soviet Union or independent Ukraine. They have been hoping for this for decades, and it will allow Crimeans of all nationalities to develop and feel safe and comfortable on Crimean soil,” he says.
NO JAW JAW -- US TO RUSSIA
The leaders of current US policy say the door to diplomacy is now closed, unless Russia agrees to accept US conditions.
Kerry today refuses to accept President Putin's invitation to talk on the crisis.
French Leftist Leader Criticizes Western Attitudes Towards Ukraine
The Co-president of the French Leftist Party & former presidential candidate, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, today describes the US and EU's attitude to Ukraine, as "irresponsible and provocative".
Speaking to BFM TV, Mélenchon says that the West's goal is to bring NATO member states to Russia's borders... which is unacceptable, irresponsible and provocative.
The former presidential candidate says it's no good adding fuel to a fire, and France should act as a mediator, which is in the country's tradition.
Mélenchon adds that the new Ukrainian government, made up of right-wing and neo-Nazis individuals, will oppress the people --- as never before.
SOCIALIST INTERNATIONAL ADDRESSED
Fair Russia, a left of centre party allied to the Socialist International, calls on its sister parties across the world to react wisely to Ukraine's rightwing coup.
It was inaction by European officials, that instigated the activities of the Right Sector radical group manned by nationalists and neo-fascists whose prime motto is 'Ukraine for Ukrainians', the Russian message reads.
Fair Russia says that Right Sector controls about 15,000 well armed extremists, using threats and violence to force the authorities in several regions into cooperating with the "Maidan" movement.
The Russian party tells its foreign allies that the leaders of Ukrainian rightists have called to evict Russians and Jews from the country or the physical extermination of these groups.
Fair Russia holds that it was only because of the Upper House’s decision to allow President Vladimir Putin to use military force in Ukraine, that the threat of neo-fascist ultra-nationalists seizing power in the eastern & south-eastern regions, was stopped.
The Russian party calls upon all its partners in the Socialist International to deliver aid to the Ukrainian people and also expects them to publicly denounce the ideology of the Right Sector opposition, and rightwing extremists.
Fair Russia says only free, honest and universal elections, can now restore the legitimate state structures in Ukraine.
Ukrainian military won't listen to 'junta' in Kiev - Yanukovich
Ukrainian officers & soldiers loyal to their oaths won't take criminal orders from a coup-imposed government in Kiev, President Viktor Yanukovich tells reporters today.
He says that, as a legitimate head of state, he is still the commander-in-chief of Ukraine.
“I'm still alive and I'm still the legitimate president,” Yanukovich says today in a statement to the media in the southern Russian city of Rostov-on-Don.
He accuses the coup-imposed government of “shooting your own people” - protesters and police officers - during the February conflict, and of escalating the violence.
The coup leaders in Kiev “will sooner or later be held accountable for the suffering of the people,” he says.
Yanukovich blasts western officials who recognize the Kiev government, despite the way it came to power and control by right-wing radicals.
“Are you blind? Have you forgotten what fascism is?” he asks the West.
He criticizes the US for providing a $1 billion loan to the new authorities in Kiev, saying that US law forbids financial support for any government reaching power by military coup, ousting a legitimately elected head of state.
Yanokovich says he will now appeal to US legislators to re-assess this noted violation.
Yanukovich warns that Ukrainians face a serious fall in their living standards due to economic "austerity measures" that Kiev will have to take to secure western "aid".
The authorities will blame Yanukovich and probably Russia for this, he predicts, and adds that they will be false accusations.
He also mentions the defiance to Kiev in Crimea and eastern Ukraine...
"Your actions have led to the fact that Crimea is separating and the people of the south and east are demanding respect, even in the face of machine guns," he says.
"We will get through this trouble, and the people who have been deceived by you, will see this and the country will rise up and unite," he says, addressing the Kiev coup authorities.
He neither endorses nor condemns Crimea's imminent referendum on whether to become independent from Ukraine and join the Russian Federation.
He denounces the presidential election in Ukraine planned for May 25th, saying that, under the circumstances, it cannot be a legal, representative body.
Yanukovich dismisses the notion that he lost legitimacy after fleeing Ukraine and pledges to return to Kiev, “as soon as the circumstances allow it.” He says he believes that will be soon.
Yanukovich was overthrown on February 22nd in what Russia considers was an armed coup, committed with the help of armed groups.
The new authorities declared him deposed in violation of constitutional impeachment procedures, and formed a new government.
While western countries hail this development and support Kiev, Russia sees it as illegitimate and insists on forming a new inclusive national reconciliation government.
Such a move is part of a deal which Yanukovich and protesters struck, just before his ousting, and which three European nations also signed.
Those 3 Western countries who signed, say now that the peace deal became "irrelevant" after Yanukovich crossed Ukraine's borders.
(The 3 without honour, are France, Germany and Poland.)
THE RESULT OF NATO's BOMBING OF LIBYA
Libya is "epicentre of illicit arms trade" – UN
Libya has been named as the primary source of the illegal weapons trade, fueling conflicts in at least 14 countries around the world, a final report from the UN's independent panel on Libya’s sanctions, announces.
In a briefing to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) yesterday, Libya sanctions committee chair, Rwandan Ambassador, Eugene Gasana, says that the post-Gaddafi government is struggling to secure a state in which a number of armed tribal militias do not accept Tripoli’s authority.
“The panel noted that the control of non-state armed actors over the majority of stockpiles in Libya as well as ineffective border control systems, remain the primary obstacles to countering proliferation and that Libya has become a primary source of illicit weapons, including MANPADs [portable air defense systems],” Gasana stated, reports Reuters.
Unable to secure its borders, Libya has let weapons fall into the hands of violent radical elements on several continents, Gasana said.
“Arms transfers to over 14 countries reflect a highly diversified range of trafficking dynamics; and trafficking from Libya is now fueling conflict and insecurity, including terrorism, on several continents,” he said.
As of now, three ports in the country... are under the full control of armed rebels.
A "special force" has been ordered by Libya’s parliament to be sent next week to “liberate” all rebel-held ports, which are crucial to sustaining Libya's oil-rich export economy that is struggling to survive after the NATO invasion and forced regime change.
A UN arms embargo was enacted on Libya at the start of the unrest which eventually ousted former leader Muammar Gaddafi.
Last year, non-lethal equipment was allowed to enter Libya when the UNSC eased sanctions as the UN cautioned Tripoli against the spread of weapons to nearby states.
The panel found a number of violations of the arms embargo, such as “non-notified” transfers to government security forces, and transfers of weapons to the private market, Gasana said.
The head of the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) warned the 15-member body that Libya faces increased and unprecedented violence.
“Libya faces the risk of embarking on a new trajectory of unprecedented violence,” as security and political divisions deteriorate, Tarek Mitri told the UNSC.
Mitri pointed to the surge of attacks in Sabha in the south, with over 100 civilian deaths – including children – and the displacement of hundreds of families, as well as shortages of food, fuel, and medical supplies. In the east, targeted assassinations, bombings, and now kidnappings around Benghazi, have reached “intolerable” levels.
“Intense efforts to resolve differences and negotiate an agreement on the management of the transitional period, including the future of the General National Congress and the Government, have not succeeded in bringing an end to the divisions that have paralyzed the political process,” noted Mitri.
An “alarming” rise in attacks on journalists has also been witnessed in recent months, Mitri told the Council, with TV stations in Tripoli and Benghazi vandalized, and a number of journalists abducted.
Kidnapped Syrian nuns released !!!
12 Syrian nuns kidnapped by rebel gangs late last year have been released, the pan-Arab al-Mayadeen TV, reports.
Reports say the released nuns will be hosted in the Mariamieh Church in Damascus, where a celebratory religious mass is to be held.
Radical jihadist militants kidnapped the 12 nuns from their convent in the Christian town of Maloula, north of Damascus, and took them to the nearby town of Yabroud in December last year, where they were fighting hard with Syrian government troops.
Syrian forces unleashed a wide-scale offensive over the last three weeks to recapture the key town, where more than 10,000 rebel fighters are believed to be hiding out.
As clashes flared up near Yabroud, media reports said communication with the nuns had been cut off.
Major-General Abbas Ibrahim, the chief of Lebanon's security, who headed mediation efforts for the nuns' release, said a decision to release the nuns had been taken, but it would take time, due to logistical snags.
Putin defends Crimean referendum legitimacy to EU leaders as Ukraine's southeast rallies
Crimea’s upcoming referendum will reflect the legitimate interests of its people, President Vladimir Putin tells two EU leaders by phone.
Inspired by Crimea’s actions, eastern Ukraine is also protesting about a coup-imposed Kiev government which bans all pro-Russia actions.
Putin on Sunday had a top-level conversation with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and UK Prime Minister David Cameron, states the Kremlin press service.
Russia's president “underlined in particular that the steps taken by Crimea’s legitimate authorities are based on international law, & are aimed at guaranteeing the legitimate interests of the peninsula’s population,” the statement says.
The “lack of any action” on the part of the current Kiev authorities with regard to ultra- nationalists and armed radicals in Ukraine, has particularly been noted by Putin.
KIEV COUP LEADERS fight AUTONOMY
The coup-imposed Kiev government is now stepping up its pressure on Crimea, blocking the electronic system of the region’s treasury, freezing the autonomy’s accounts, and ramping up border police' numbers on Crimea’s borders.
Crimean Deputy PM, Rustam Temirgaliyev, says that Kiev’s recent moves will not affect state payments, including pensions, and that Crimea's authorities are opening accounts in Russian banks, and ignoring the frozen ones.
Temirgaliev also tells Interfax that the Crimean authorities anticipate "some additional railway traffic" to and from Russia, to be ferried over the Kerch Strait.
A bridge connecting Kerch and Russia’s Krasnodar Region, is also being built “at a rapid pace,” he says.
Tthe All-Crimean referendum will occur on March 16th.
On Sunday, thousands of demonstrators rallied in the eastern Ukrainian city of Lugansk, and occupied the regional administration building, hoisting a Russian flag on top.
Protesters demanded that Mikhail Bolotskikh, the region’s head, step down. Bolotskikh was appointed by the self-proclaimed Kiev regime.
Twitter users claim that Bolotskikh has already signed his resignation and escaped from the city centre in a car, via a “disgrace corridor” formed by the protesters.
On Sunday evening, the fugitive official said that he signed the document under pressure and that he is still "carrying out his duties".
Pro-Russian demonstrators reportedly clashed with Euromaidan activists demonstrating near a monument to Ukrainian poet Shevchenko, whose 200th birthday was celebrated Sunday.
Shevchenko’s anniversary attracted rallies in support of Ukraine’s unity across the country.
One of the largest demonstrations took place in Kharkov, where some 10,000 people met with a huge 100-meter Ukrainian flag, and chanted, “No to war!”
The eastern Ukrainian city, 26 kilometers away from the Russian border and with a large Russian minority, has been extremely divided on whether to accept the current Kiev regime as a legitimate power.
On Saturday, over 10,000 pro-Russian residents rallied to reject Kiev’s rule, urging the formation of a southeast Ukraine "federation of regions".
Federation, or the Autonomous South- Eastern Republic, should be decided by a popular vote as soon as possible, the people demanded.
While the rally itself was peaceful, it ended with several attempts at provoking violence.
Two people were beaten and one shot by unidentified masked people, who quickly left the scene by car. The radical Right Sector movement has denied that its members waged the attack.
About 7,000 pro-Russian demonstrators in the city of Donetsk on Sunday, also demand the holding of a referendum on the status of their region.
The people demand that the status of the Russian language, stripped by the coup-imposed government, is upheld, and that the “People’s Governor” of Donetsk, Pavel Gubarev, is freed.
Gubarev, detained in Donetsk by Special Security Forces, has reportedly been taken to Kiev charged with violating the territorial integrity of Ukraine, taking over power, and seizing government buildings.
The coup-imposed Ukrainian authorities have also responded to the situation in Lugansk, by opening a criminal case, on similar charges.
UDAR party leader Vitaly Klitschko says Sunday to BBC Ukraine, that those who demand referendums in eastern Ukraine are simply “citizens of another state,” for whom Ukraine's borders “must be closed.”
OUR SANCTIONS ARE BIGGER THAN YOUR SANCTIONS...
Moscow is preparing a bill to freeze the assets of European and US companies operating in Russia, in response to the West's moves against Russia.
A group of Russian lawmakers, including Senator Andrey Klishas, chair of Russia's upper house committee for constitutional law, are working on plans to respond to US sanctions, as well as potential bans by other Western countries.
Klishas says Moscow must have sufficient leverage to respond to the threats of sanctions coming from foreign countries.
The US has imposed visa restrictions and sanctions on individual Russians and stopped all military co-operation, including on Syrian chemical arms.
The EU has suspended visa and investment talks and threatens to impose sanctions.
Russian Official: Kiev should Block Far-right Leader’s Presidential Bid
The Kiev authorities should block the presidential bid of the leader of Right Sector, Dmytro Yarosh, the Russian foreign ministry's rights envoy says today (Sunday).
"The de facto authorities in Kiev and their Western protectors must close the road to power for the neo-fascist Yarosh and his supporters," Konstantin Dolgov writes on Twitter.
"The violent mayhem committed by ultranationalists, taking advantage of lawlessness, has completely discredited the Maidan movement," Dolgov adds, referring to Kiev's Independence Square protest hub.
Right Sector on Friday announced that Yarosh would stand in the elections on May 25th, and said it was ready to go to war with Russia.
The ultra-nationalist group was at the frontline of clashes with police in Kiev.
Yarosh founded it on November 13th, to coordinate radical forces in the Kiev protests. Russia seeks Yarosh's arrest after his calls to commit extremist acts and "terror" in Russia.
OSCE MUST INVESTIGATE NOW
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov calls now for the OSCE (Organization for Security & Cooperation in Europe) investigation into who was behind the deaths of dozens of people in Kiev last month in attacks by snipers, to begin, and says the truth can no longer be covered up.
Lavrov's comments come after Estonia's top diplomat told EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton in a 'phone call leaked this week, that the then-opposition to president Viktor Yanukovych, may have been involved in the attacks.
"The latest information about the so-called snipers case can no longer be covered up," Lavrov tells a news conference in Moscow with his Tajik counterpart.
"We have proposed that the OSCE (Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe) takes up an objective investigation of this, and we will ensure that there is justice.
"There have been too many lies, and this lie has been used too long to push European public opinion in the wrong direction, contrary to the objective facts."
The European Union also wants a probe into reports about the killing of people by snipers in Kiev, EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton's press secretary, Maja Kocijancic, says.
An investigation must be conducted into the violence and murders and those guilty must be brought to justice, she says, in reply to a question from a reporter about the EU's attitude to the fact that snipers who killed people on Independence Square, could have been hired by the Western-backed opposition.
EU MUST NOT IGNORE NEO-FASCISTS
Ukraine’s new government is under the influence of radical nationalists, says Russia’s Foreign Minister, who believes his foreign counterparts are well aware of this, but unwilling to acknowledge it.
“The so-called interim government is not self-sufficient and, to our great regret, depends upon radical nationalists, who carried out the military coup,” Sergey Lavrov says Saturday, when asked if Russia is ready to have direct talks with the present Kiev government.
At the press conference, Lavrov gives an example of how the Right Sector now controls decision-making.
“The new government’s officials asked Right Sector to approve their choice of ministers, and the Right Sector wasn't satisfied. Its leaders said a reloading of the government system in Ukraine has not been completed. "They demand now that each minister must go to the Maidan protesters to report on how well they implement the demands of the protest leaders.”
Sergey Lavrov says that Right Sector, which has allegedly demanded access to Ukraine's arsenals, now has security in Kiev totally under its control.
The capital of Ukraine has not been safe since ousted President Viktor Yanukovich removed all the police from the streets in compliance with the February-21 agreement.
"Actually there’s no state control over public order and the so-called Right Sector calls the tune - the group that has resorted to terror and intimidation,” Lavrov says.
Lavrov believes the West is well aware of the role Right Sector is playing in post-coup Ukraine.
“Our western partners, it seems to me, are quite well informed of what they represent, because they are frequent quests there, and, among themselves, they are sharing extremely alarming impressions. But, I guess for political reasons, they are trying to conceal the facts in public.”
John Laughland, of the Paris-based Institute of Democracy and Cooperation, warns of the dangers of underestimating the nationalist forces in Ukraine:
“Western media call far-right groups a minority, but it’s a decisive minority.”
“It's been clear for some time, that men of violence exercise decisive influence.
"In 2012, EU's parliament condemned Svoboda - and now its members are in the government.
"Europe is looking the other way. Double standards - the whole point is to bounce Ukraine into the western camp.”
KIEV COUP REGIME BACKED BY WEST "ON THE BRINK OF ARMING NEO-NAZIS"
The leader of Ukraine's Right Sector, Dmitry Yarosh, has reportedly demanded that the Kiev authorities open military arsenals for the group’s fighters, ITAR-TASS cites an anonymous source in Ukraine’s military department, as saying.
The source also quotes Yarosh as saying that the “conservative approach” of the security agencies’ chiefs is failing to let order be restored through stopping anti- Maidan rallies in eastern and southern regions of Ukraine.
In an ultimatum, Yarosh demands that the government now gives access to his group to weapons and military equipment, and to army training centres, “for quality training for Right Sector fighters.”
“Yarosh doesn’t rule out more decisive action on Ukraine, if the government doesn’t comply with these demands,” the source indicates to ITAR-TASS.
Yarosh also plans to stand as president, states the head of his movement in Kiev.
The Right Sector, an amalgamation of several far-right groups, was formed in November 2013.
Members were active in the violence which drove President Viktor Yanukovich from Kiev.
After the February 21 agreement between Yanukovich & the opposition was signed, the Right Sector said they did not accept it and would continue the armed struggle.
Its violent acts are well-documented on YouTube. The fighters used clubs, petrol bombs and firearms against the Ukrainian police. Even after the coup, some members continue to use rifles and pistols.
On Wednesday, a proposal was submitted to the Ukrainian parliament, that Right Sector be established as "a regular armed unit".
Coup-appointed PM Arseny Yatsenyuk dismissed 3 deputy defense ministers over their refusal to support the proposal.
Russia has put Yarosh on an international wanted list for inciting terrorism, after he urged Mr Doku Umarov, one of the most- wanted terrorists in the world, to attack Russia, over the Ukrainian conflict.
UKRAINE DEFAULTS ON ITS GAS BILL
Ukraine has missed its payment deadline for gas supplies. As its debt is increasing, Gazprom does not rule out it may cut gas supplies to the country, the Russian energy giant’s head Aleksey Miller says.
“Today, March 7th, is the deadline for making a payment for February's gas supplies to Ukraine,” Miller tells journalists on Friday, adding that Gazprom has not received any payment on account.
“Given the discount for the first quarter, the outstanding debt has increased to $1.89 billion,” Miller adds.
“Factually it means that Ukraine has stopped paying for gas. This contravenes the contract terms and international trade practice. But we can’t deliver gas for free”.
If Ukraine doesn’t pay its bills it risks plunging into a crisis similar to the one in 2009, Miller warns.
During the transit crisis five years ago, supplies of Russian gas to Europe were cut off for 20 days because of tension between Russia and Ukraine.
Earlier this week President Putin said that, starting from April 1st, Gazprom will no longer offer Ukraine the lower price agreed in December.
The aid package to Kiev included $15 billion in bonds purchases, and a 33 percent gas discount, that reduced the price to $268.50 per 1,000 cubic meters - down from $400.
Currently Ukraine buys more than 50% of its gas from Russia, but aims to be energy independent by 2020.
Before protests kicked off in Ukraine, the country signed a $10 billion shale gas exploration deal with Chevron.
Dozens of Israeli settlers have stormed the compound of al-Aqsa Mosque in al-Quds (Jerusalem) under armed forces' protection.
According to witnesses, the Israeli settlers, backed by the regime's troops, once again raided the al-Aqsa Mosque in groups.
In recent months, Israeli forces and settlers have stepped up their attacks on the mosque. This has led to violent confrontations between the two sides.
Israel has also imposed severe restrictions to stop Muslim worshippers entering the mosque.
ISRAEL CUTS WATER SUPPLY TO REFUGEES
The Israeli regime has reportedly cut off the water supply to some 45,000 Palestinians residing in the areas around East al-Quds (Jerusalem), local sources say.
Residents of Shuafat refugee camp said on Wednesday that their water had been cut off for nearly three days, while a number of other Palestinian suburbs near al-Quds had also been without water for 20 days.
According to the residents, the Israeli water authority started to gradually reduce water supplies about two weeks ago and now it has completely stopped.
However, the Israeli water company, Gihon, is denying any water shut-off to Arab areas.
MAD DOG AMERICA SNARLS
US Secretary of State John Kerry interfered to provoke high tension again on Thursday, insisting that Ukraine's territorial integrity must be upheld, and then adding that the coup government in Kiev should decide now, on the future of Crimea.
"Crimea is part of the Ukraine. Crimea is Ukraine (sic). We support the territorial integrity of Ukraine, & the government of Ukraine needs to be involved in any decision" on whether the peninsula would break away, he says.
"It's my understanding that the constitution of Ukraine requires an all-Ukraine referendum. Every part of Ukraine, all Ukrainians, would have to be part of a referendum," he says.
In Washington, US President Barack Obama proves that a black president can be just as twisted in the service of US power as Bush, by claiming that holding a Crimea referendum “would violate the Ukrainian Constitution, and violate international law.”
“Any discussion about the future of Ukraine must include the legitimate government of Ukraine,” Obama echoes on Thursday. “In 2014, we're well beyond the days when borders can be redrawn over the heads of democratic leaders.” (Such as in Kosovo?)
Earlier Thursday, the US leader ordered sanctions on individuals he claims were involved in "Russia's military intervention" in Ukraine, imposing travel bans and illegally freezing (stealing) their assets.
Washington is also suspending military ties with Russia: including joint maneuvers, port visits and planning meetings over the crisis.
Tensions between Washington and Moscow escalated after Mr Obama's administration accused the Kremlin of planning a "military intervention" in Ukraine.
With no proof, wisdom or understanding. Just like mad neocon AIPAC-crazed Bush.
Russia: Ukraine's NATO membership impossible
Moscow categorically rules out any possibility of Ukraine joining NATO, a senior Russian diplomat says Thursday.
"It won't happen under any circumstances. It is impossible," Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Vasily Nebenzya tells reporters.
He stresses that both Russia and NATO understand very well the consequences of Ukraine becoming a member of the Euro-Atlantic defence alliance.
"I cannot imagine Ukraine's participation in NATO - not now, or in the future," he says.
Wednesday, Ukrainian lawmakers introduced a bill to cancel Ukraine's nonaligned status and allow it to join military alliances. The bill could be voted on early next week.
NATO is beefing up air-strike patrols in Poland & other Baltic states, & cutting cooperation with Russia to pressure it into backing down on Ukraine.
NATO announced Wednesday, it has suspended plans for the first NATO- Russia joint naval mission to escort Syria's chemical weaponsshipments.
The empire didn't like Russia winning over Syria, did it?
Lawmakers of Ukraine’s autonomous Crimea region have asked Russia to let the region join the Russian Federation.
The 100-member Crimean Supreme Council on Thursday voted unanimously in favor of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea joining Russia and becoming part of it.
The Crimean Parliament states that if Russia responds to their request positively, Crimean citizens could give their view in a referendum on March 16th.
“The referendum will take place on March 16th," says the autonomous region’s First Deputy Premier, Rustam Temirgaliev, reports ITAR-TASS news agency.
According to Temirgaliev, Crimean citizens should answer two questions in the ballot.
“The first one: Are you in favor of Crimea becoming a constituent territory of the Russian Federation.? The second one: Are you in favor of restoring Crimea’s 1992 constitution?”, he says.
Under current Ukrainian law, the Crimean parliament enjoys a degree of autonomy. It voted 78-0 with eight abstentions in favor of holding the referendum and joining Russia.
The Russian government hasn't commented but says President Vladimir Putin has been informed of the Crimea parliament's request.
In Moscow, a prominent member of the Russian parliament, Sergei Mironov, says he has tabled a bill to ease the procedure for Crimea to join Russia and that it could be put to a vote as early as next week.
An opinion poll carried out in Russia over the weekend, shows that most Russians express commitment towards the people of Crimea, and believe the Kremlin should make greater efforts to defend the interests of ethnic Russians in that region.
NATO LEADS DRIVE TO CRIPPLE RUSSIA
Russia’s envoy to NATO criticizes its full review of any military cooperation with Moscow over Ukraine.
Alexander Grushko says NATO is applying double standards to Russia, by trying to press Moscow to back down on Ukraine.
"This meeting proves that NATO still has a double standard policy & that Cold War stereotypes are still being used towards Russia," Grushko tells reporters, after a meeting of NATO and Russian officials to discuss tensions in Ukraine.
Unelected NATO Sec General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, has announced a review of the “entire range” of military cooperation with the Russian Federation.
The NATO chief also adds that the US-led western military alliance will intensify its partnership with Ukraine, by helping to boost Ukraine's army... !
US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel says Washington is boosting military cooperation with Poland & the Baltic states also, to show "solidarity with allies" in the Ukraine crisis.
"The Defense Department is pursuing measures to support our allies," Hagel tells the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Isolating Moscow - ‘most stupid decision one could come up with - German media.
“The West should not break off contacts and should use every opportunity diplomacy offers”, Esslinger Zeitung says.
As for the situation in Ukraine, “there is hope in Putin’s de-escalating tones”, Germany's Ludwigsburger Kreiszeitung says about the Russian president’s latest news conference.
“He wants a new order to be established in Ukraine, with people having nothing in common with the old corrupt class.”
“Putin has even expressed sympathy for some demonstrators & is highly skeptical of a new political future for ex-President Yanukovych,” the daily newspaper says.
“Raising the issue of Russia’s legitimacy to interfere in such a way in the neighboring countries’ internal problems, will hardly produce results.”
“What is more important is the fact that Russia wants to be entitled to vote on the future of Ukraine, ie, to have a deciding vote,” it adds.
Nuernberger Nachrichten says that “the conflict around Ukraine hasn't escalated yet” and that the Russian President has “indicated he is prepared to negotiate”.
“This should be the top-priority target of all diplomatic efforts - to figure out together with the Kremlin’s chief, what the future of Crimea and Ukraine may look like,” it says.
“Before these talks are held, it will be rather counterproductive to keep irritating Russia with some questionable sanctions, as Putin’s answer would be clear - he, also, can apply economic sanctions, by shutting off gas, for example.”
The daily suggests “resuming contacts” and “at least trying to understand Russia,” which could facilitate a resolution of the crisis.
“The West should not break off contacts and should use every opportunity diplomacy offers”, Esslinger Zeitung says, adding that Russia “should not - even for a moment - regard this as a sign of weakness”.
“Russia has its own interests, as well as the West having its own ones,” General- Anzeiger says. “No one will be able to get ahead, while threatening.”
“The EU, that is to a great extent in a state of unconsciousness, has already experienced this in quite another sphere - in espionage, by the US National Security Agency (NSA)”, the newspaper says.
“All the threats, complaints & refutations do not help. The only thing that helps is analyzing others’ interests in a way that both sides are able to ensure a balance of interests.”
“Barack Obama’s big idea to isolate Moscow is the most stupid decision one could come up with in this situation,” Freie Presse says.
“It is to be hoped that the federal government will adhere to another opinion.”
“Berlin has theorized much on its new role in foreign policy. It's time to play this role now,” the daily says.
“It is in our interests to maintain contacts with Russia. Only in such a manner can we act constructively & avoid mutual threats, before someone loses their nerve.”
Russia: Sanctions Would Lead to a Crash of US Financial System.
You won't read this in the Western media, but Russia warned (on Tuesday), that US sanctions against Moscow on the current crisis in Ukraine, would end in a crash for the entire US financial system.
Kremlin economic aide Sergei Glazyev said that Russia could reduce to zero its economic dependency on the US, if sanctions occurred.
“We would find a way, not just to reduce our dependence on the United States to zero, but to emerge from those sanctions with great benefit to ourselves,” he told RIA Novosti.
The Russian official said Moscow could stop using dollars for international transactions and create its own payment system using its "wonderful trade and economic relations with our partners in the East and South."
Russian firms & banks would also not return loans from US financial institutions, he said.
"Any attempt to announce sanctions, would end in a crash for the financial system of the United States, which would cause the end of the domination of the United States in the global financial system," he stated.
He added that economic sanctions imposed by the EU would be "catastrophic" for Europe, saying that Russia could halt all gas supplies, "which would be beneficial for the Americans" and give Russia's economy a useful "boost".
The snipers who shot at both protesters and police in Kiev were hired by Maidan leaders, according to a leaked 'phone conversation between EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton & Estonia's foreign affairs minister, which has gone viral online.
“There is now stronger and stronger understanding that behind the snipers, it was not Yanukovich, but it was somebody from the new coalition,” Paet says during the conversation.
“I think we do want to investigate. I mean, I didn’t pick that up, that’s interesting. Gosh,” Ashton answers.
The call took place after Estonia’s Foreign Minister Urmas Paet visited Kiev on February 25th, at the peak of clashes between pro-EU protesters and security forces.
Paet also recalls his conversation with a doctor who treated those shot by snipers in Kiev. She says protesters and police were shot at by the same people.
“And second, what was quite disturbing, this same Olga [Bogomolets] also says that all the evidence shows that people were killed by snipers from both sides, policemen and then people from the streets, that it was the same snipers killing people from both sides,” the Estonian FM stresses on tape.
Ashton reacts to that by saying: “Well, yeah… that’s, that’s terrible.”
“She then showed me some photos. She said that as a medical doctor she can say that it is the same handwriting, the same type of bullets, and it’s really disturbing that now the new coalition, don’t want to investigate what exactly happened,” Paet says.
The file was reportedly uploaded to the web by officers of the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) loyal to ousted President Viktor Yanukovich, who hacked Paet’s and Ashton’s phones.
94 people were killed and another 900 injured in the standoff between police and protesters at Maidan Square in Kiev last month.
Int'l community calls for unity, peaceful solution to Ukraine crisis says China's Xinhua news agency
The international community calls for unity and a peaceful solution to the Ukraine crisis amid simmering tensions in Crimea, says a lead article in Xinhua.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stresses the need to urgently de-escalate the current tension in Ukraine and facilitate dialogue for a peaceful resolution, it reports.
Both Ban and the German Foreign Minister, Frank- Walter Steinmeier, agree all diplomatic channels must be explored more actively, as the situation in Ukraine remains volatile.
UN Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson also stresses the crucial need for a diplomatic solution to the crisis.
All wish for Ukraine's territorial integrity to be respected and preserved.
In response to escalating tensions in Crimea, Russian President Vladimir Putin says that only the Crimeans themselves can decide their own future, and Russia will provide the Crimean authorities with financial aid.
Asked by reporters whether he is concerned about the fact that sending Russian troops to Ukraine might trigger a war, Putin says Moscow will not go to war with the Ukrainian people.
"We have no enemies there. Ukraine is a friendly country, including those from western Ukraine. They are all brothers of ours," he says.
"If we see that lawlessness starts in eastern regions, we reserve the right to use all means to protect these people," Putin says, stressing that it would be a last resort.
He accuses Western countries of turning the political life of Ukraine into farce. "Western instructors did their job well. We saw well- trained armed groups there (in Kiev). Every- thing was well organized," he says.
In a phone talk with Putin, China's President Xi Jinping calls the situation in Ukraine highly complicated and sensitive, and adds that Beijing believes Moscow can coordinate with other parties to push for a political settlement of the issue, so as to safeguard regional peace and world peace and stability.
China supports the proposals and mediation efforts of the international community that are conducive to the reduction of tension, Xi adds.
Western countries also express their support for all constructive efforts to reach a peaceful solution to the current Ukraine crisis.
NATO says it welcomes the ongoing efforts undertaken by the UN and the EU, and will continue to consult with Ukraine within the NATO-Ukraine Commission.
US President Barack Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel both agree on de-escalating the situation in Ukraine, and have discussed potential solutions to the crisis in a 'phone conversation, Xinhua reports/suggests.
Obama says there is room for Ukraine to be a friend with both the West and Russia.
French President Francois Hollande says his country and its European partners will "apply all necessary pressure, including sanctions" to seek a political solution to the Ukraine crisis.
In order to de-escalate tensions between Russia and Ukraine, members of the Ukrainian cabinet have started consultations with their Russian counterparts, Ukraine's temporary Prime Minister, Yatsenyuk says.
"Consultations on a ministerial level between Ukraine and Russia have started. 'Though the negotiation process runs quite sluggishly, the first steps have been taken," Yatsenyuk tells a press conference.
Russian President Vladimir Putin calls events in Ukraine a coup, and argues that the use of force is Russia's last resort in solving the ongoing crisis.
The self-proclaimed acting PM of Ukraine, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, says he has already committed Ukraine to all IMF demands.
At a meeting with representatives of the European Business Society, Yatsenyuk tells his audience that, on Sunday, he promised the IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde, by telephone.
"I can assure you that this government will meet all IMF terms, Yatsenyuk told the meeting, reports Segodnya journal.
He refused to give more details, saying that an IMF delegation is scheduled to arrive in Kiev tomorrow.
A 15-billion USD IMF rescue package is expected by Ukraine.
PRESIDENT OF UKRAINE HAS REQUESTED RUSSIAN TROOPS
Russian authorities have received an appeal from Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich, with a request to use the Russian Federation armed forces, to restore constitutional rule, the RF's Permanent Representative to the UN, Vitaly Churkin, says at an open meeting of the UN Security Council, on Monday.
“The Russian president has received the following appeal from Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich,” he said, quoting a letter in which the Ukrainian leader states that “events in the Maidan, the illegal seizure of power in Kiev, have put Ukraine on the threshold of a civil war.”
“In this connection I turn to Russian President Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin, with a request to use the armed forces of the Russian Federation in the restoration of the rule of law, peace, law and order, stability and for the protection of the population of Ukraine,” Churkin read from the letter, dated March 1st.
He showed UN Security Council members a photocopy of Yanukovich’s original appeal.
He says Russia’s actions in Ukraine, are “fully adequate and legitimate".
ALL NEWS REPORTS SUSPECT
Early reports Wednesday said Moscow had put an ultimatum to the crews of 2 Ukrainian warships to surrender immediately and that four Russian ships had "surrounded" the Ukrainian ships in Sevastopol’s harbour.
A representative of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet says now that those claims were unfounded.
“We've become accustomed to daily accusations by the Ukrainian media of carrying out some sort of military act against our Ukrainian colleagues. Those who want to pit us against each other in the Crimea, won’t succeed.”
Russia's Black Sea Fleet also says it has no plans to launch an attack on Ukraine's military units in Crimea.
According to earlier reports, Russian military vessels blocked the exit from Sevastopol Bay... "for hours".
Ukrainian special forces refuse to fight against Ukrainians in Crimea
Ukrainian special forces yesterday refused to obey an order from the Kiev authorities to advance in the Crimean isthmus, on the autonomous republic's self-defense units.
The soldiers say that they did not, and do not, understand who to fight on the peninsula, ITAR-TASS says, quoting one of the commandos.
As the commando says, his comrades have relatives in the Crimea, and he often holidays in Evpatoria resort, so many simply did not understand, for whom and against whom, they were to fight.
This is not the first time the Ukrainian military has disobeyed the Kiev regime.
The Chief of the Naval Forces of Ukraine, Berezovsky, has sworn loyalty to Crimea.
ARMED UNITS STILL REIGN IN KIEV
"Fatherland" lawmaker Gennady Moskal to an RBC-Ukraine reporter Wednesday:
"More and more units are arriving in Kiev. They are looting, stealing cars from the residence of Yanukovich, destroying property and breaking into apartments.
"I do not support these people and do not treat them with respect, but we should not turn Maidan into a gang, steal art and alcohol, or shoot."
"How can one unit have 10 machine guns and 20 shotguns?" he asks.
Can recent decisions by the Verkhovna Rada, be considered legitimate, if the government is "protected" by Maidan "self-defense" units? Residents of the government quarter, and regional and Communist representatives, are all hostages of the armed units.
Rada meetings are broadcast and displayed on a large screen, and exits from parliament are "guarded" by Maidan self-defense units.
The opposition trinity (Yatsenuk - Klitschko - Tyahnibok) are also held hostage by them, not to mention the completely defenseless civilian population.
China urges political solution
A Chinese spokesperson urges all sides in the Ukraine crisis to follow international law and to seek a political solution to their disputes through dialogue and negotiations.
"China is deeply concerned with the current Ukraine situation," Qin Gang, Foreign Ministry spokesperson says.
Condemning the recent violence in Ukraine, Qin says China urges all parties in Ukraine to address their domestic disputes peacefully and lawfully, safeguarding the rights of Ukrainian people of all ethnicities, and quickly restoring social order.
Qin says China always sticks to the principle of non-interference in any country's internal affairs & respects the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine.
"There have been reasons for today's situation in Ukraine," the Ministry spokesperson adds obliquely.
China will closely watch the development of the situation in Ukraine, and calls on all relevant sides to respect international law and pursue a political solution to disputes through dialogue and negotiations so as to safeguard peace and stability in the region, Qin says.
FRENCH "EMPIRE" BANS PROTEST
French activists have condemned the government ban on a planned rally against French colonialism and racism.
The activists were not permitted to hold their annual march in Paris after it was banned by the interior minister.
“Even with Chirac and his France-Africa summits, even under Sarkozy, never ever did they prevent people demonstrating at Republic Square.
There's a real problem for democracy with this government,” one of the demonstrators says.
A huge police force prevented demonstrators from taking to the streets of the capital for their annual anti-colonial march.
“It’s political colonialism. They are playing political games. We are "independent". But there is no real independence, because we cannot decide anything about our fate, and that means that we are still colonized,” another protester says.
The decision to ban the event was made by French Interior Minister Manuel Valls.
The protesters condemn French military intervention in Mali and the CAR and call on French troops to withdraw from Africa.
A female demonstrator says:
“In France, there is still a current that never accepts the reality;- that the French empire doesn’t exist anymore.
"France remains the second maritime empire thanks to its colonies. What is actually happening in Africa is pure new colonialism.”
COUP HOLD WEAKENING
Ukrainian armed forces dispatched to Crimea have started resigning on a massive scale, Russian news agencies report on Sunday.
Living quarters, weapons and ammunition have all been left under the protection of the so-called ‘self-defense forces.’
Letters of resignation have been coming in since Sunday morning, as the self-defense forces continue to keep order on the streets of Simferopol, RIA Novosti says.
Crimea’s deputy prime minister, Rustam Temirgaliev, announces that the Ukraine armed forces have all but surrendered their military capabilities & no active units remain.
"The entire Ukrainian armed forces stationed on Crimean territory have been blocked – a number have been disarmed, while another big portion is switching to the Crimean side," Interfax reports him as saying.
"The self-defense forces have taken control of the landing strips of all Crimean airports and airfields," Temirgaliev adds.
The deputy PM says the region’s security services and emergency services now report to the local government, while self-defense forces control all runways at Crimea’s airports and airfields.
The local government, Temirgaliev says, promises the Tatar minority a place in Crimea’s Supreme Council, and adds that funding for resettlement programs and the reintegration of those deported during the Stalin era, will be generous.
Crimean Tatars have been supporting the self-proclaimed authorities in Kiev.
COUP LEGITIMACY QUESTIONABLE
The self-imposed president of Ukraine, Aleksandr Turchinov, will be considered a “war criminal” if he uses military force on the south-east of Ukraine's people, Russia’s lower house Speaker, Sergey Naryshkin, reportedly warns.
Naryshkin held a 'phone conversation with Aleksandr Turchinov of Batkivshchyna party, who leads the self-proclaimed regime in Kiev.
During the conversation, Naryshkin warned Turchinov repeatedly against deploying force against Ukrainians resisting Kiev, a source tells RIA Novosti.
The Ukrainian side has stated that it has "no plans" to use force against citizens.
Turchinov has ordered a full mobilization of Ukraine’s armed forces and ordered boosted security at nuclear power plants, airports and other sites, citing the threat of “potential aggression” from Russia.
Political commentator Aleksandr Nekrasov:
“Ever since they seized power in Kiev, I think they have got more desperate by the day, because they have suddenly realized that they are not getting the money they hoped to get at once,” Nekrasov tells RT.
“And this desperation shows in the fact that they have repeated all those warnings about Russian invasion, Russian aggression and so on and so forth, and now we see they are desperate enough to make provocative statements that the danger of war is rising.”
The crisis in Ukraine escalated after a putsch forced President Viktor Yanukovich to leave the capital.
One of the first acts of the self-proclaimed government, abolished the use of all other languages in official life in Ukraine.
This sparked a wave of mass protests in Eastern Ukraine, where a majority speak Russian.
Feeling threatened by a new government of questionable legitimacy, a number of regions are standing against the regime.
Thousands of people across eastern and southern Ukraine are flooding the streets of major cities, carrying Russian flags and urging local authorities to disobey Kiev.
Local populations are calling the regime in Kiev illegitimate, and demanding that their officials refuse to obey it.
The City Council in the eastern city of Donetsk is refusing to recognize Ukraine’s self-imposed government and has called for a referendum on the region’s status.
“Until all the legitimacy of the new laws approved by Verkhovna Rada is clarified, the City Council takes full responsibility for its territories,” says the Council.
Donetsk is the capital of the coal-rich Donbass region in eastern Ukraine.
Beside Donetsk, a major economic, industrial & scientific centre, Donbass includes the regions of Lughansk and Dnepropetrovsk.
The Council calls on the local parliament to set a referendum date immediately, to “protect the citizens from possible violent acts on behalf of radicalized nationalistic forces,” the council statement says.
Members of the city council have voted to set up their own self-defense squads.
Russian has been re-introduced as an official language, along with Ukrainian.
The Donetsk authorities stress that they consider Russia as their strategic partner.
Eastern Ukraine and Crimea are now seeing massive pro-Russian demonstrations against the new self-proclaimed central government, with many government buildings topped by Russian flags.
Russia, too, voices doubts over the legitimacy of the self-proclaimed government, citing the procedural violations the Ukrainian parliament committed in ousting Yanukovich, appointing a new cabinet & taking control of the judiciary.
Moscow is also concerned over reports that some MPs were forced to change their votes under threats of physical violence.
Moscow on Saturday referred the issue to the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe, an advisory body with expertise in constitutional law.
A request to monitor the legitimacy of actions in Kiev has also been sent to the Interparliamentary Assembly of the Commonwealth of Independent States, which brings together MPs from most former republics of the Soviet Union.
3 OPTIONS ON UKRAINE
Read this article to discover what the choices are here:
VENEZUELA CALLS FOR UNITY TO DEFEAT US-BACKED COUP
Just as in Ukraine, Venezuela faces neo-fascist violence on the streets as opposition there tries to ignore elected leaders.
Venezuela is calling on the new organisations of Latin American states to help keep the peace.
Calls in Kiev to go nuclear
Unable to resolve tensions with a largely pro-Russian autonomous Crimea region, the pro-Western self-appointed regime in Kiev is using accusations and threats.
Some politicians are threatening now ...to renew Ukraine’s nuclear arsenal.
An ultra-right “Svoboda” representative in the Ukrainian parliament warns that, if Russia doesn’t tread carefully, it will be dealing with a nuclear power.
"We’ll regain our status as a nuclear power and that’ll change the conversation. Ukraine has all the technological means needed to create a nuclear arsenal – which would take us about 3 to 6 months,” Svoboda party MP, Mikhail Golovko, says.
The threat to break the international nuclear non-proliferation treaty Ukraine signed in 1994, is not new for Svoboda, a driving force behind Maidan's uprising.
Its leader, Oleg Tyagnibok, while he was running for the presidency in 2009, vowed that the country would go nuclear.
After the collapse of the Soviet Union, former republics Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan agreed to either dispose of or send to Russia any nuclear arsenals held while they were part of the USSR.
In 1994 a trilateral agreement was signed by the United States, Russia and Ukraine, stipulating Kiev’s nuclear disarmament.
In 1996 Ukraine officially lost its nuclear status, and had no stockpile left at all.
But the country still draws almost half of its energy from atomic power, and has Europe's largest nuclear power plant.
While the uranium Ukraine gets from Russia for its reactors is low-enriched, reactor waste is enough to make a so-called dirty bomb.
The country possesses manpower and the know-how to do that, as well as delivery vehicles for a nuclear payload, which don’t have to be too sophisticated.
Political and economic analyst Martin Seiff from The Globalist news website:
“These threats are probably extreme, irresponsible bluff, but it’s very alarming to hear them being made in the first place.
“The new government which has now emerged in Kiev, and other figures, like this opposition MP, need to act in a responsible manner to earn the deserved respect, trust & cooperation of the international community."
"That comment is disastrously counter- productive and should be seen as such.”
US geopolitical analyst Eric Draitser:
“The money we can’t use to feed the poor and hungry in the US and Europe - that money is going to support Nazis in Ukraine with nuclear ambitions, who are looking to destabilize the region, and whose sole goal is the destruction of Russia,” Draitser says.
So far, Washington has been hard on those it suspects of a nuclear build-up...
It will be curious to see how it reacts if the idea of restocking its nuclear arsenal gains popularity now in Kiev.
PUTIN GETS 'YES' FOR TROOPS
Russian President Vladimir Putin's request for approval of the Upper House of parliament (Federation Council) to “use Russian Armed Forces on the territory of Ukraine to normalize the socio-political situation in the country”, has been approved Itar-Tass reports.
Ukraine’s self-appointed president, Aleksandr Turchinov has appointed Rear Admiral Denis Berezovsky as a new Navy Chief, according to an order published Sunday. Reportedly, the previous Navy commander resigned last Friday.
Ukraine's self-proclaimed president has also signed a decree now, declaring that the appointment of a pro-Russia premier in the Crimea region, is "illegal".
Russian flags are being raised across Eastern and Southern Ukraine.
Ukraine’s border service is taking “urgent steps” to prevent the “seizure” of its sea watch base and ships located in Sevastopol, Itar-Tass reports, citing the service’s press office.
“All the ships are going to sea ready for action,” it says. The alert signal came after several armed people were seen not far from the base.
Thousands of protesters in Kharkov against the self-proclaimed Kiev authorities, are beseiging regional governor's headquarters and some have broken in to raise Russia's flag.
Russia’s State Duma (parliament) Council says legitimate and democratic elections are impossible in Ukraine, now that a significant part of the country has seen “violence, the persecution of dissidents and even political parties being banned,” RIA Novosti reports.
“Militants who have undergone special training, including one in camps outside Ukraine, and other radical forces, who illegitimately seized power, have been imposing their will on eastern and south- eastern regions, where a large part of the Russian-speaking population lives, who do not share the views of an aggressive radical minority.
The human rights of Ukrainian citizens have been violated, including their right to speak their native language and be educated in it,” the Duma Council statement reads.
Unknown armed men from Kiev tried to take Crimea's Interior Ministry overnight, and several were injured in the attack, Russia’s Foreign Ministry says Sunday.
“Thanks to the decisive action of self- defense squads, an attempt to seize the Interior Ministry building was stopped."
"This attempt confirms the intention of prominent political circles in Kiev, to destabilize the situation on the peninsula,” the statement adds.
"We believe it is extremely irresponsible to further pressure the already tense situation in the Crimea," the ministry statement says.
Earlier, Crimea's PM Sergey Aksyonov declared that firearms have been used in clashes in the region, Itar-Tass news agency reports.
Crimean leader Sergey Aksenov has called on President Vladimir Putin to help guarantee peace in the Crimea.
"Taking into account my responsibility for the life and security of citizens, I ask Russian President Vladimir Putin to help ensure peace and calm on the territory of Crimea,"Aksenov stated. Russia says it will not ignore the request:
“Russia will not leave this request without attention,” a source in the Kremlin is quoted saying Sunday.
Aksenov, the Russian Unity Party leader appointed prime minister of Crimea by local lawmakers, also stresses that powerful institutions, such as the armed forces, the police, the national security service and border guards, should answer only to his orders and all commanders should obey his instructions.
The new Ukrainian central government ordered the replacement of heads of Crimea's police department on Friday, but Aksenov says this opposes an agreement with Crimea's parliament, under which the central government has no right to appoint the directors of Crimea's powerful agencies.
The Russian parliament is not ruling out ‘limited’ troops in Crimea to ensure safety
The Russian government has been very careful in its assessment of the new self- proclaimed Ukrainian government in Kiev.
Matvienko says the reason for that, was that Russia was counting on its Western partners, who had vowed to guarantee the February 21st agreement with the Ukraine President, Viktor Yanukovich, and the opposition.
“Russia didn't interfere in the situation in Ukraine for a very long time and showed restraint, assuming that the Western states, who became backers of the agreements, would see strict compliance with the deal observed,” she says.
However, after “violent upheaval” took place in Ukraine, the Western states did not come up with “any reasonable measures or responses,” she says.
Russia, in contrast, for a very long time, has urged the situation to be resolved by lawful means, and called for the anti- coup sentiments in Crimea and eastern Ukraine to be heard, she says.
MPs of Crimea's parliament, the Supreme Council, tell journalists they have been receiving threats from anonymous calls, reports Itar-Tass.
“Yesterday I had 70 calls from unknown numbers, and over 100 text messages with threats to physically harm me and my family,” says the Party of Regions deputy, Konstantin Bakharev on Sunday.
Another MP for the party, Olga Kovitidi, says someone phoned her and said she would be shot.
Ukraine's Elected President Viktor Yanukovich pledges to fight for Ukraine.
He has addressed a press conference in southern Russia, appearing in public for the first time since he fled Kiev's riots.
“No one ousted me,” Yanukovich tells the reporters. “I had to leave Ukraine because of a direct threat to my life and the lives of my family.”
According to Yanukovich, “nationalist fascist-like fellows who represent an absolute minority of Ukrainians” have taken power in Ukraine.
He describes the situation in Ukraine as “total lawlessness,” “terror” & "chaos", saying that politicians, including MPs, have been threatened and are now working under threats.
It has nothing to do with any unity government negotiated with the opposition, he says.
The violence and deaths in Ukraine are the “result of the irresponsible politics of the West, which have encouraged Maidan,” Yanukovich stresses.
US and other Western countries’ representatives “must take full responsibility” for the fact that agreement between Yanukovich and the opposition did not hold, the ousted president stresses.
The West's “patronage” of Maidan makes them directly responsible for the situation in Ukraine, he claims.
The current Ukrainian parliament is “not legitimate,” and the people in power are spreading the propaganda of violence, Yanukovich asserts.
When asked if he feels ashamed of his actions, Yanukovich replies that he feels ashamed and sorry for “not being able to stabilize the situation and stop the mayhem” in Ukraine.
“I want to apologize to the Ukrainian people for what has happened in Ukraine and that I lacked the strength to maintain stability.”
Yanukovich also apologizes to the Ukrainian riot police, Berkut, for having to “suffer” while doing their duty of maintaining peace and order.
Police officers had to stand their ground while rioters set them on fire with petrol bombs, he reminds people.
Yanukovich stresses that he did not give any order for police to shoot live fire until rioters started using firearms, putting the officers’ lives under threat.
According to Yanukovich, the early Ukrainian elections announced for May 25 are “illegitimate” and he will not take part in them.
However, he says he will “remain in politics.”
Crimea must remain a part of Ukraine while maintaining a broad autonomy, Yanukovich stresses.
He rules out any possibility that he will ask Russia for military help to resolve the situation there.
Yanukovich says he understands the concerns of Crimeans, who want to “protect their homes and families” from “extremists.”
When asked why he chose to leave Ukraine for Rostov-on-Don, Yanukovich says he has “an old friend there,” who can provide him with a “temporary safe haven.”
Yanukovich made it to Russia thanks to “patriotically-minded officers,” who helped to “save his life.”
He has not met Russian President Vladimir Putin, but they've already talked over the 'phone.
Yanukovich answered a lot of questions put by reporters on Russia’s role and possible actions in the Ukrainian crisis.
While saying “it is not correct” to tell Moscow what to do, Yanukovich says he believes “Russia cannot abandon Ukraine to its fate and should use all possible means to prevent chaos and terror in its neighboring country.”
Yanukovich says he is “categorically against any intervention into Ukraine and breach of its territorial integrity.”
There remains, however, a chance for the country to change its course and not slip into chaos, Yanukovich says.
He says he will return to Ukraine as soon as he has “international safety guarantees.”
The ousted president refused to comment on the coup parliament’s intention to try him in the International Criminal Court, saying that an independent investigation has to be carried out first.
However, he stresses that “the scenario of bloodshed, was not drafted in Ukraine.”
“The truth will prevail,” Yanukovich says in an emotional conclusion to his comments to journalists, urging the politicians who have seized power in Kiev to “leave” for the sake of the Ukrainian people.
Ukrainian PM Praises IMF, and Threatens Crimea.
The temporary Prime Minister of Ukraine, Arseni Yatseniuk, says that a financial improvement in Ukraine "is coming", thanks to the International Monetary Fund and then threatens Crimea over its autonomy claims.
Appointed in a unicameral Parliament guarded by ultra-nationalists who seized it by force to topple President Viktor Yanokovich, Yatseniuk admits that his Cabinet will be unpopular, as it implements the cuts demanded by the IMF.
These include a 40% increase in gas prices, ending support to farmers, a devaluation of the national currency, the hrivnya, and other social cuts, as condemned in November by the elected PM, Nikholai Azarov, who left office recently, after threats to his family.
However, his replacement insists that the country's financial situation, which he says is "on the brink of bankruptcy", will be fine "when the IMF money comes."
On the call to hold a referendum on greater autonomy by the autonomous Parliament of Crimea, the leader of the anti-government subversion in Kiev quotes current legislation.
"Ukraine will use all legal and constitutional methods to preserve the State's territorial integrity", he warns the Russian speaking population, who don't recognize the regime imposed in Kiev after its lack of compliance with the truce agreements of Feb. 21st.
Yatseniuk, leader of the Bratkivschina party, flatly says that Crimea was, is and will be, part of Ukraine.
He urges Russia not to support those people he describes as separatists, or the toppled Yanukovich and other high ranking officials of his administration, against whom the Ukrainian Attorney General's Office has opened criminal processes and now lists them as wanted people.
Volunteer Guards in Crimea have secured two airports against any attack by neo-nazis or nationalists.
“According to the underlying principles of democracy, the presidium of the Crimean parliament considers the only possible way out of the situation on the ground, is to apply the principles of direct rule of the people."
"We are confident that only by holding an All-Crimea referendum on the issue of improving the status of Autonomy and expanding its powers, Crimeans will be able to determine the future of the Autonomy on their own and without external pressure,” Oksana Korniychuk, press secretary of the head of parliament says in a statement last Thursday.
As a result of “the unconstitutional seizure of power in Ukraine by radical nationalists supported by armed gangs,” Crimea’s peace and order is “under threat,” the spokes- person stresses.
Wednesday's clashes near parliament in Simferopol, which led to two deaths and about 30 injuries were “a result of rampant political extremism and violence gripping the country,” which could bring Ukraine to “complete chaos, anarchy and economic catastrophe,” she said.
The Autonomy’s parliament thus takes “full responsibility for the future of Crimea,” relying on the will of its people, she says.
The group of people barricaded inside the building of the Crimean parliament allowed MPs to enter, including the speaker of the parliament, Vladimir Konstantinov. The MPs have now held their session, as planned.
Ethnic Crimean Tatars clashed near parliament last Wednesday to stop it taking a vote.
Crimea’s Russian majority has been hoping to hold a regional referendum ever since 1991, when it was refused the right to take such a step.
Before the Soviet Union eventually split, 93.26% of Crimeans voted in favour of establishing a ‘Crimean Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic’.
The people, however, were never allowed to decide which country the autonomous region should be with: Ukraine or Russia.
CRIMEA PARLIAMENT TAKEN
Armed men have occupied the regional government buildings AND parliament, of Ukraine’s Crimea territory & Russian armed forces are on high alert.
Dozens of gunmen seized the buildings in Simferopol, the Autonomous Republic’s administrative centre last Thursday, and flew Russian flags over a government HQ.
The buildings’ guards were also reportedly removed from the premises peacefully.
Crimean PM Anatoliy Mohilyov, confirmed that up to 50 men with weapons occupied government buildings early last Thursday.
Seizure of the headquarters came one day after clashes between pro- Russian demonstrators & backers of Ukraine's new regime in Simferopol, when a man died of a heart attack and dozens were injured outside the Crimean Parliament the day before.
EU PARLIAMENT CALLS FOR TOLERANCE AFTER COUP...
The unelected "leaders" of the EU, the Commission, may be 100% for the coup leaders' acts, but not the European Parliament, which calls on Ukraine’s interim government to protect the Russian-speakers' right to use their language.
“All Ukrainian and international, political forces must work together to ensure a united Ukraine, taking into account linguistic, cultural & historical factors,” says the parliamentary statement.
Viktor Yanukovich still considers himself the legitimate leader of Ukraine & warns against internal military conflict.
He has asked Russia to ensure his safety against the actions of the extremists who have taken power in Ukraine.
LAVROV: DROP SUPPORT FOR NEO-NAZIS
Russia's top diplomat, Lavrov, urges the OSCE to condemn the "nationalist and neo-fascist" sentiment in the Western part of Ukraine.
“Lavrov calls on the OSCE to condemn calls to ban the Russian language, to turn the Russian-speaking population into 'non-citizens' and to restrict freedom of expression," the statement adds.
The Russian foreign ministry also announces that Moscow will give a tough response to any country's violation of its citizens’ rights.
Moscow warns of calls to “nearly ban” the Russian language, eliminate parties and organizations, close media outlets, and lift curbs on neo-Nazi propaganda, saying such moves pose a threat to peace and society's security.
China's People's Daily says that the West is locked into a cold war mentality that supports any enemy of "unco-operative" states.
Scuffles as pro- and anti-Russian crowds protest in Ukraine's Crimea
Thousands of pro and anti-Russian rival demonstrators rallied in front of the Crimea parliament building in Simferpol, capital of Ukraine's autonomous Crimea region, last Thursday. Scuffles sometimes broke out between the face-to-face sides.
The rival groups were protesting for and against new national authorities in Kiev.
Some proclaimed that Crimea will not obey Kiev, while the local Muslim community of Crimean Tatars expressed support for the new Ukrainian authorities.
Two separate rallies, consisting of several thousands of protesters, faced each other.
Russians shouted “Russia-Russia!” and “Berkut!”, the name of the special police task force disbanded on Tuesday by the Ukrainian authorities now in control of Kiev, who blame them for their "heavy-handed" policing of activists in central Kiev.
The Muslim community protesters shouted “Ukraine-Ukraine!” & “Crimea is not Russia!”
Pro-Russian demonstrators held Russian flags, while Tatars held Ukrainian flags & flags of their nationalist organizations.
Video footage from the scene appeared to show both sides preparing for a clash.
The police officers who temporarily left the scene, later returned to the square and attempted to separate the sides.
The police were unarmed except for rubber batons.
The Tatar community has spoken out sharply against holding a parliamentary session on changing Crimea's status.
Russians rallying demand that the Crimea autonomous region declare independence and ask for assistance from Russia.
The Tatars of the Crimea peninsula, united by their national party Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People, together with local supporters of the new Ukrainian authorities, declare that they "will not allow" the autonomous region to break away.
“We warn them not to arrange a session. 'Do not explode the situation in Crimea.' We know they need that session to tear Crimea away from Ukraine,” said leader of the Mejlis party, Refat Chubarov.
“We warn that Crimea Tatars will not allow this to happen. Tatars will not allow the fate of this land to be decided without them.”
The protesters demand a public referendum to decide whether Crimea should retain its current status as an autonomous region in Ukraine, or become independent, or be part of Russia again (Crimea was part of Russia until 1954).
Demonstrators from Russian-dominated Sevastopol, the largest city in Crimea, are still arriving at the region’s capital Simferopol, in the centre of the Crimea peninsula, to support the thousands of Russian nationals rallying against the new authorities in Kiev.
Crimeans started protesting last week outside the regional parliament building in Simferopol, urging local MPs not to support Kiev’s new government.
Demonstrators want the autonomous region to return to the constitution of 1992, under which Crimea had its own president and independent foreign policy.
In the meantime, vigilante groups are being formed in Crimea’s largest city of Sevastopol.
About 3,500 people have already joined the groups, their leader Yury Pankov tells Itar-Tass news agency.
The vigilantes plan to patrol the streets along with police to prevent violence.
“In fact, we are creating classical Voluntary People's Guards,” Pankov says.
The authorities in Sevastopol have refused to comply with an order by the new interior minister, Arsen Avakov, to disband a detachment of the Berkut special police task force.
The Berkut task force, abolished nationwide this week by the new Ukrainian authorities, was formed 20 years ago, and consisted of 4,000 officers throughout Ukraine.
The head of the city government, Aleksey Chaly, has called for all Berkut officers to come & live in Sevastopol with their families.
ZIONISM BEING SLOWLY SQUEEZED
Luxembourg’s general pension fund has decided to boycott major Israeli banks in response to Tel Aviv’s contravention of international law and its violation of human rights.
Reports say the fund has announced that it will boycott five major Israeli banks and a number of Israeli investment companies over their involvement in settlement construction plans.
The fund also says that these banks and organizations are being banned because they support and finance Tel Aviv’s illegal constructions on Palestinian land.
Israel faces a widening boycott campaign by some European businesses over its illegal settlement activities on occupied Palestinian land.
Europe’s 2 biggest financial institutions have boycotted transactions with Israeli companies involved in settlement building.
The European Union has also blocked all grants and funding to any Israeli entity based in the illegal settlements.
The American Studies Association has also announced a decision to boycott Israeli institutions and academics over discriminatory treatment of Palestinians.
The UN and most countries regard the Israeli settlements as illegal, because the territories were captured by Israel in a war in 1967, and are hence subject to the Geneva Conventions, which forbid construction on occupied lands.
SLOWLY THE GOOD WINS...
South Korea's president says she is setting up a presidential committee to prepare for the reunification of the troubled Korean Peninsula.
In a televised speech marking her first year in office, President Park Geun-hye announces plans to create a blue print for reuniting South Korea with the North.
"I plan to launch a 'committee to prepare for reunification' under presidential control and explore ways for a systemic and constructive direction of reunification," President Park says.
The president says the committee will seek ways to expand dialogue and private-level exchanges with N. Korea.
“It is necessary to prepare for reunification that will open up a new era of the Korean Peninsula, which will lead to a genuine peace," she says.
Both North and South have reunification as a goal, but neither side has specified how they want it to happen.
Millions of Koreans have been separated since the war split the peninsula in 1953.
The South Korean President's remarks come as South and North Korea wrap up the first reunion of separated families in over three years.
Hundreds of South Koreans met with their northern relatives during the 6-day family reunions at Mount Kumgang resort.
The second and last round of the meetings began on Sunday, the day before S. Korea and the US launched joint military drills.
The reunion program began after a North- South summit in 2000, and large numbers of Koreans still wait to see their relatives.
STOP ISRAEL TAKING AL-AQSA MOSQUE
Dozens of Jordanian lawmakers call on the Amman government to revoke the 1994 peace treaty with the Israeli regime in a Knesset debate on Israel's plan to annex al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.
Last night, as many as 47 lawmakers signed a petition, urging the government to freeze the 20-year-old treaty with Israel.
The al-Aqsa Mosque is Islam’s third-holiest site after Mecca and Medina in S. Arabia. Jordan is the custodian of the holy site.
The lawmakers also criticize the government for failing to take a strong stand against Israel.
One of the lawmakers called for the Israeli ambassador to be expelled from Jordan.
The call for a freeze in the so-called peace deal, follows a similar request by Jordan’s opposition, the Islamic Action Front (IAF).
“We urge the government to meet the demands of people who have repeatedly called for a freeze and eventually the peace treaty's cancellation,” says IAF.
The IAF call came after Israeli troops and police raided the al-Aqsa Mosque compound in East al-Quds (Jerusalem) on Tuesday, and forcefully dispersed Palestinian worshipers and protesters.
In recent months, Israeli forces and settlers have stepped up attacks on the mosque. This has led to violent confrontations.
Earlier this month, clashes erupted between Palestinian worshippers and Israeli soldiers at the mosque. The clashes broke out when Israeli forces stormed the holy site during Friday prayers. 20 people, including children, were wounded in the violence.
The Palestinian Authority and Hamas have also warned against Israeli plans to impose its “sovereignty” on the al-Aqsa Mosque.
VENEZUELA NOT UKRAINE
Brazil's President says Venezuela is not Ukraine, and the main difference is that the whole of central and South America understands how the rich oligarchies use their strength to subvert the people's will and interests.
Thousands of government supporters in Venezuela have taken to the streets of the capital Caracas, as anti-government protesters set up barricades and start fires.
On Monday, Venezuela was once again the scene of rival demonstrations as opponents & supporters of the government continued their rallies.
Bikers rode in a convoy to the presidential palace to attend a demonstration in support of President Nicolas Maduro.
Addressing them, Maduro blamed the opposition for bringing in "mercenaries" to fuel the unrest and causing problems for the sick by setting up blockades, prevented them reaching hospitals.
"They have affected the health of thousands of people in the communities they've cut off," he said.
Meanwhile, in other areas of the capital, anti- government protesters barricaded the main roads and set fire to piles of rubbish.
The opposition says Maduro's administration is to blame for the country's high crime rate and economic hardships, claiming his polices have led to both shortages of essential goods and high inflation.
Maduro, who accuses the US of backing the opposition in trying to topple his government, unveiled a new peace initiative on Saturday:
"I am calling on the Venezuelan people to join me on Wednesday, in a national peace conference with all the country's political sectors ... so that we Venezuelans can try to neutralize the violent groups," he said.
He also added that US Secretary of State John Kerry's remarks about the use of "unacceptable" force on protesters by the government, has given violent groups a "green light" to continue their brutal acts.
According to Maduro, the US is backing the unrest in a bid to launch a coup d’état.
Venezuela has witnessed nearly two weeks of anti-government protests that have claimed the lives of 13 people and injured 150 others.
Russia says the Ukrainian parliament seeks to pass laws that will infringe upon rights of ethnic Russians and other ethnic minorities.
The Russian Foreign Ministry says Moscow is suspicious about recent decisions taken by Ukraine's parliament on ethnicity.
Moscow warns over calls to “nearly ban” the Russian language, eliminate parties and organizations, close media outlets, and lift curbs on neo-Nazi propaganda, saying such moves pose a threat to peace and social security.
The statement also accused Ukraine’s new leaders of launching a “dictatorial” campaign against Russian speakers.
Mikhail Dobkin, governor of the eastern region that includes Kharkiv, where many Ukrainians speak Russian as their first language, also denounces the decision to downgrade the status of Russian as an official second language as “fascist.”
According to some sources, the head of the Freedom Party, Oleg Tyagnibok, has recently told his supporters in Kiev that the use of Russian language should be criminalized and all ethnic Russians should be stripped of citizenship.
Russia calls US/EU coup support “aberration of consciousness”.
Russia questions the legitimacy of Ukraine’s new government, saying that the current authorities have come to power as a result of an "armed mutiny."
“The legitimacy of a whole number of organs of power that function there raises great doubts," local news agencies quote Russian PM Dmitry Medvedev as saying.
The Russian premier denounces the decision by Western countries to accept the new Ukrainian regime as an “aberration of consciousness”.
He also notes that Moscow is unable to accept the current leaders in the Eastern European country as a partner for talks.
“If you consider Kalashnikov-toting people in black masks who are roaming Kiev to be the government, then it will be hard for us to work with that government,” Medvedev adds.
He says Moscow-Kiev relations will be resumed once Russia sees a “normal, modern government, based on the laws and constitution of Ukraine.”
Russia recalled its ambassador to Ukraine last Sunday, to discuss the "deteriorating situation" in Kiev.
Russia’s Economy Minister warns now - if Kiev signs partnership agreements with the European Union - Moscow will raise import duties on goods.
Egypt's army-backed government has resigned, Reuters reports.
"The cabinet decided to submit its resignation to Adly Mansour, the interim president," a statement says.
An unnamed source says the decision was made at a 15-minute cabinet meeting.
Army chief Field Marshal Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, expected to run for president, was defense minister in the cabinet.
MORSI ACCUSED OF BETRAYAL
The trial of the elected president deposed by army coup after civilian mass protests continues, and President Morsi is being accused now of giving away all Egypt's defence secrets, to Palestinians and Iran.
Ugandan President Museveni signs bill to stop Western paedophiles.
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni today signs a bill with harsh penalties for predatory homosexual acts, says AP.
The new law calls for first-time offenders to be sentenced to 14 years in jail and sets life imprisonment as the maximum penalty for a category of offenses named “aggravated homosexuality.”
International rights groups condemn it -- but it's widely popular in Uganda.
The legislation is necessary because “arrogant and careless Western groups” have tried to “recruit Ugandan children into homosexuality", says the president.
UKRAINE COUP CONTINUES...
Ukraine’s acting Interior Minister says police have issued an arrest warrant for the President, Viktor Yanukovych, accusing him of the “mass murder” of peaceful protesters.
Arsen Avakov, a close ally of Tymoshenko, recently released from prison, says on a Facebook page, that a number of other officials are also now on a wanted list.
“An official case for the mass murder of peaceful citizens has been opened,” says Avakov adding, “Yanukovych and other people responsible for this (sic), have also been declared 'wanted'.”
On February 23rd, the Ukrainian parliament ousted Yanukovych and named Oleksandr Turchynov, the legislature’s newly-elected speaker, as interim president.
On the same day, jailed opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko was released and held a speech in which she promised supporters that the country would soon join the EU.
The Party of Regions' faction in Ukraine's parliament is now in opposition to the current authorities of Ukraine, the party’s leader in the Rada, Aleksandr Yefremov, has announced.
“Considering the fact that you took over and, as we see, you have the capability to form a government & rebuild authority, we have decided to be in the opposition,” he tells all party and committee heads.
Viktor Yanukovich's once-majority Party of Regions suffered a mass exodus of MPs, over just a few days.
At least 77 parliamentarians resigned from the party's ranks, thinning them down to some 130 MPs.
Earlier, the Ukrainian Communist Party, main ally of the Party of the Regions in the Rada, announced that it too, is now part of the opposition.
Paul Craig Roberts, former US' Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy, argues that Ukraine is now in the grip of a fascist coup, saying:
"In western Ukraine the only organized and armed force is the ultra-nationalist Right Sector."
"From the way this group’s leaders speak, they assume that they are in charge. One leader, Aleksandr Muzychko, has pledged to fight “Jews and Russians until I die.”
Asserting the Right Sector’s authority, Muzychko declares that, now that the democratically elected government has been overthrown, “there will be order and discipline” or “Right Sector squads will shoot the bastards on the spot.”
'The bastards' are any protesters who dare to protest the Right Sector’s control.
Muzychko declares, “The next president of Ukraine will be from Right Sector.”
Another Right Sector leader, Dmitry Yarosh, says that “Right Sector will not lay down its arms.”
He declares the deal made between the opposition and the President to be “unacceptable” and he demands the liquidation of President Yanukovich’s political party.
The Right Sector’s roots go back to the Ukrainians who fought for Adolf Hitler against the Soviet Union in WWll.
It was Right Sector that introduced armed fighters and turned the tide of protests in Kiev from peaceful protests in favor of joining the EU, to violent attacks on police, with the main view of overthrowing the democratically elected government - which Right Sector has now done.
Right Sector didn't overthrow Ukraine's government, in order to deliver it into the hands of US & EU paid “opposition.”
There's a tendency to discount Right Sector as a small fringe group, but Right Sector not only took control of protests away from West-supported moderates, as moderate leaders themselves admit, but also, Right Sector has enough public support to destroy the national monument to Red Army soldiers, who died liberating Ukraine from Nazi Germany.
If Right Sector hates Russians for defeating the Nazis, Right Sector also hates the US, France, and the UK, for the same reasons.
Right Sector, is an unlikely political party to take Ukraine into the EU, says Roberts.
The Russian parts of Ukraine now clearly understand that Right Sector’s destruction of the monument commemorating the stand of the Red Army against German troops, is a threat to the Russian population of Ukraine.
Provincial governments in eastern and southern Ukraine that were formerly part of Russia, are organizing militias against the ultra-nationalist threat unleashed by Washington’s stupidity and incompetence, and by the naive and gullible Kiev protesters.
Having interfered in Ukraine’s internal affairs and lost control, the US is now issuing ultimatums to Russia to not "interfere".
Does the idiot Susan Rice, Obama’s neo- conservative National Security Advisor, think Putin is going to pay any attention to her ultimatums, or to any instruction from a government so militarily incompetent that it was unable to successfully occupy Baghdad after 8 years, or to defeat a few thousand lightly armed Taliban after 12 years?
In only took a few hours for Russian troops to destroy the US and Israeli- trained and armed Georgian army, that the US sent to invade S. Ossetia.
Where does Obama find morons like Susan Rice and Victoria Nuland?
These two belong in a kindergarten for mentally handicapped children, not in government for a superpower, where ignorance and arrogance can start World War 3.
Ukraine is far more important to Russia than it is to the US or EU. If the situation in Ukraine spirals out of control and right- wing extremists seize control, Russian intervention is certain.
The arrogant and stupid Obama regime has carelessly and recklessly created a direct strategic threat to the existence of Russia.
According to the Moscow Times, this is what a senior Russian official has to say:
“If Ukraine breaks apart, it will trigger a war.” Ukraine “will lose the Crimea first,” because Russia “will go in just as we did in Georgia.”
Another Russian official said: “ We will not allow Europe and the US to take Ukraine from us."
"The states of the former Soviet Union, we are one family. They think Russia is still as weak as in the early '90s, but we are not.”
The Ukrainian right-wing is also in a stronger position than the US's paid Ukrainian puppets, who are essentially weak and irrelevant persons, who have sold out their country for US' money.
The Right Sector is organized. It is armed. It is indigenous. It is not dependent on money funneled in by US & EU financed NGOs. It has an ideology, and is focused.
The Right Sector doesn’t have to pay its protesters to take to the streets like the US had to do.
Most importantly, well-meaning but stupid protesters - especially the Kiev students - and a Ukrainian parliament playing to the protesters, have destroyed Ukraine's democracy.
The opposition controlled parliament has removed an elected president from office without an election, an obviously illegal, undemocratic act.
The opposition controlled parliament has issued illegal arrest warrants for members of the president’s government.
The opposition controlled parliament has illegally released criminals from prison.
As the opposition has created a regime of illegality in place of law and constitutional procedures, the field is wide open for the Right Sector.
Expect everything the opposition did to Yanukovich, to be done to them by the Right Sector.
By their own illegal, unconstitutional actions, the opposition has set the precedent for their own demise.
Just as the February 1917 revolution against the Russian Tsar set the stage for the Oct 1917 Bolshevik Revolution, surprising the stupid “reformers,” the overthrow of the Ukrainian political order sets the stage for Right Sector.
We can only hope that Right Sector blows its chances.
The US media is a useless news source. It serves as Ministry for Government Lies.
The corrupt propagandists are portraying the undemocratic removal of Yanukovich as a victory for freedom and democracy.
When it begins to leak out that all has gone wrong, the presstitutes will try to blame it all on Russia and Putin.
The Western media is a plague upon humanity.
US citizens have no idea that the neo- conservative regime of the White House Fool is leading them into a Great Power Confrontation that could end in the destruction of life on earth.
Ironic, isn’t it. A US' “first black president,” the person liberals thought would restore justice, morality, and reason to Western civilization, is instead now positioned as the person who will have to accept humiliating defeat, or risk the destruction of life on earth.
The Crimea is refusing to pay taxes to what they state is an illegitimate and unconstitutional Duma as it was born of "violence, terror and threats."
EU SUPPORTING FASCIST-LED COUP
A bill was registered Sunday, in the Supreme Rada (Parliament), which aims to ban the party of President Viktor Yanukovych, the Party of Regions, and the Communist Party.
This demand was promotedfirst from the rostrum in Maidan Square, by a leader of the ultra-rightwing 'Right Sector'.
'NAZI COUP IN UKRAINE NOW'
Ukraine's President Viktor Yanukovych says what has happened since he signed a deal with the opposition to end almost three months of unrest in the country, is a neo-nazi coup..
Speaking in a televised address from the northeastern city of Kharkov, Yanukovych stresses that he has no intention of resigning, or leaving the country, saying that events resemble the rise of the Nazis, in the 1930s.
Yanukovych says a coup has been underway ever since he left Kiev, when Ukraine's parliament debated a motion calling for his resignation.
The president rejects the parliament’s recent moves as illegal.
He speaks out, after a lawmaker from the Western-backed opposition camp said Yanukovych is "stepping down".
But he repeats that he has no intention of resigning or of leaving Ukraine.
Earlier, the parliament, now packed by rightwing MPs, voted to quickly release ex-prime minister, Yulia Tymoshenko, from prison, and then picked Oleksandr Turchynov, a close ally of Tymoshenko, as a new speaker. It also appointed a new interior minister.
Pro-Yanukovych authorities in Eastern regions, meanwhile, are challenging the parliament's legitimacy and say they're taking full control of their territories.
Regional leaders meeting in Kharkov have adopted a resolution declaring the central state organs "paralyzed."
"Until constitutional order & lawfulness are restored... we have decided to take all responsibility for safeguarding the constitutional order, legality, citizens' rights and security, on our territories," the resolution says.
REGIONS MEET IN UKRAINE: SAY "ALL RECENT DUMA DECISIONS ARE UNDER DURESS AND INVALID"
Local MPs from the Euro-skeptic east and south of Ukraine, have gathered in Kharkov city, to form a joint response to the collapse of central government.
“The territorial integrity of Ukraine is at risk,” the gathering says in a resolution.
It adds that instability in Ukraine is highly dangerous and may cause unpredictable consequences, considering that the country hosts five nuclear power plants with 15 reactors in total, which some extremists have threatened to attack.
The recent decisions of the national parliament were taken in conditions “of terror, threats of violence, and of death,” the resolution says.
The gathering says the legislative acts may have been passed involuntarily, and are neither legitimate nor lawful.
The opposition has broken the agreement with the government, the resolution says.
“Armed gangs have not given over their weapons, they continue taking over governmental buildings, killing citizens and officers of the law,” it says.
The Kharkov public gathering announces a number of measures local authorities should take in response to developments in Kiev.
They should take full responsibility for all decision-making in their respective regions, and pay no regard to the authorities in Kiev until full constitutional order is restored, the resolution states.
Military commanders should take measures to protect arms depots and prevent their take-over and looting by opposition activists.
Meanwhile citizens are encouraged to form local militias to protect public order. Local regions are to fund and support the militias.
“3, 477 deputies from local councils in southeastern Ukraine have gathered. We have gathered here not to separate the country, but to save it,” the regional governor, Mikhail Dobkin, tells the crowd.
The head of the Kharkov administration, Gennady Kernes, calls the public gathering “an attempt by qualified deputies from the east of Ukraine to stabilize the situation.”
"My colleagues and I have been personally threatened. But today we have gathered to change the situation,” he says. “We will not give in; we will fight till the end.”
The statement is echoed by Rada’s Party of Regions deputy, Vadim Kolesnichenko, who also says that politicians are being threatened and that “their families are basically hostages.”
UKRAINE FASCIST COUP...
President Yanukovych hasheld talks with Ukraine regions which reject the rightwing takeover of their country.
His trusted ally had to resign as Speaker of the Parliament, on "health grounds", as did the Deputy, and about 30 party of Regions members.
Alexandr Turchinov, ally of jailed former PM, Yulia Tymoshenko, is now speaker, after his predecessor, Volodymyr Rybak, resigned for "health reasons".
First Vice Speaker Igor Kalentik, an MP from Ukraine's Communist Party, also stepped down from the parliament... in which the right only, now sits.
The Ukrainian ultra right-wing party, Right-Wing Sector, recognized as the combative wing of the Maidan, has rejected agreements signed between the Government & opposition leaders, and promises to keep carrying out acts to complete their agenda.
In a communiqué published on the web page Vkontakte, the Russian social network, the leader of the organization, Dmitri Yarosh, said the document didn't give any clear promises about the resignation of President Yanukovich, or the dissolution of the Supreme Council (Parliamentâ and Rada in the Ukrainian language).
Yarosh, who encouraged the offensive against the Rada and police in a new wave of mass violence, blames "the authorities" for all the violence.
The leader of command groups that killed police agents and kidnapped special-troop soldiers, said that the Government must punish the chiefs of all the security corps, including the Defense minister, and ban all activity by the Party of Regions.
"The national revolution will continue and will end only with a total overthrow of the regime", wrote Yarosh in his blog, published by Ukrainian media outlets.
Around 3,000 right-wing and nationalist fighters ruled the ranks of demonstrators in the Maidan, and led clashes with the police and riot agents (Berkut), and the attacks on Government HQs and military institutions, says a report premiered by Russia's NTV.
Analysts interviewed by the filmmaking team all agreed that the purpose of the so-called Heirs of Bandera (named after Ukrainian nationalist Stepan Bandera, who was a collaborator for the Nazis during the World War ll occupation of Ukraine) is to lead Ukraine into a civil war.
The right-wing sector, nationalist organizations and the pro-Western opposition, do not want a peaceful solution to the crisis in Ukraine, as that is not part of their plans, says Russian political scientist, Veronika Krasheninnikova.
UKRAINE's ROUTE 'UNCONSTITUTIONAL'
Ukraine's President Viktor Yanukovich and the opposition had signed an EU brokered agreement on ending the political crisis.
The deal included a return to parliamentary democracy, away from the presidential rule under Yanukovitch, and that of his archrival and predecessor, Ms Tymoshenko.
A coalition government was set to be formed in days, regional MP Vladimir Oleynik told RIA-Novosti, quoting the draft of the now doomed peace deal, which included early Presidential elections (in November).
Kiev is now awash with rumours and the situation is very fraught, as the neo-nazi elements are still violent, and sworn to continue their actions.
Last week, 400 rioters partially blocked traffic at the Prospect Pobedy (Victory avenue) in Kiev, in a rally led by masked rioters armed with clubs, and caused a traffic jam. Police were not seen there.
Ukraine is also under financial attack from both outside "investors" and their own people, as shops & banks are emptied, especially in some cities close to Poland and the West, and US based credit agencies drop Ukraine's credit rating to CCC minus.
Now reports suggest 70 to 100 deaths since the agreement was rejected and 88 law enforcement agents, 6 journalists, 4 foreigners and 1 member of parliament were among those injured in the clashes which erupted on February 18th, after a deadline set by authorities to end the protests expired, the website states.
Reports say thousands of Western- backed protesters took to the streets in Kiev, that some Kiev shops were reported as looted, and civilians are reported to be leaving Kiev, for safety.
Rioters reached the Rada building (the country's parliament), as the police pulled back into Mariinsky park nearby.
An emergency evacuation was declared... but then so was an emergency session, of parliament, just as parliament members and employees were leaving the building.
The result, reports say, was a barely-quorate meeting, which ordered the withdrawal of police from the square and included a severe legal challenge to the President.
Protesters hurled rocks and Molotov cocktails at the police, in spite of a day of mourning being declared as a mark of respect for the 35 people who had died previously.
Protesters not only pushed security forces out of Independence Square, theyseized Oktyabrsky Palace, a major concert hall in Kiev, and Hotel Ukraine, reports say.
Over 60 security forces were taken hostage after their bus was besieged by protesters.
The officers were taken to St Volodymyr's Cathedral nearby by rioters, but are free, and have left the protest site in Maidan Sq.
The Interior Ministry of Ukraine says at least 23 police officers were injured by sniper fire.
The protesters were “openly using fire arms against the Berkut [Special Forces],” says the Interior Ministry statement.
Police say the sniper fire originated from the roof of Kiev’s Conservatory, and deliberately targeted officers.
“I think the opposition has crossed the line. I think the policy of negotiations has now exhausted itself,” said the deputy head of the Party of Regions, Oleg Tsarev, in Ukraine's parliament.
Despite Yanukovich agreeing a temporary truce to mourn victims of the unrest, and despite the agreement between the Party of Regions and the opposition... the neo-fascist opposition group Right Sector rejected any truces, and urged its followers to keep pressing.
Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych had earlier sacked the head of the army and announced an anti-terror group to stop violent take-overs.
COMMUNISTS WARN OF FASCIST-LED COUP
The Communist Party of Ukraine says that the extremist groups behind the worst of the violence in Ukraine, are "sponsored not only by Ukrainian oligarchs, but also by major Western capital, which is interested in destabilising the situation in Ukraine."
It says the nationalist forces have mounted a coup, using "the most treacherous methods of warfare": by terrorism and by using women and children as "human shields".
The party says the leaders and activists of the fascist forces must be prosecuted.
BAHRAIN REGIME "MURDERS ITS OWN PEOPLE"
Bahraini protesters held anti-government demonstrations across the country last week, despite an ongoing crackdown by regime forces.
Bahraini security forces used birdshot and tear gas to break up the crowds.
Protesters chanted anti-regime slogans, saying the Al Khalifa regime murders its own people.
They also pledged to continue on the path of those who sacrificed their lives for freedom and democracy.
Since mid-February 2011, thousands of pro- democracy protesters have staged numerous demonstrations in the streets of the country, calling for the Al Khalifa royal family to relinquish power.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon calls on the Bahraini regime to respect “international human rights obligations” in dealing with peaceful protests in the kingdom.
On March 14, 2011, troops from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates invaded Bahrain to assist the Bahraini regime in its crackdown on the peaceful protesters.
According to local sources, scores of people have been killed and hundreds arrested.
Physicians for Human Rights say doctors and nurses have been detained, tortured, or "disappeared" because they have "evidence of atrocities committed by the authorities, security forces, and riot police" in the crackdown on protesters.
VENEZUELA DEALS WITH ITS WEST-BACKED NEO-FASCISTS
Venezuelan right-wing leader Leopoldo Lopez, national coordinator of opposition organization Voluntad Popular (People's Will), is in detention, due to his relation to recent violent fascist acts.
Russia warned against attempts to "forcibly seize power" in Ukraine Moscow condemned the violent protests in Ukraine and will use its influence to defeat this "pro-Fascist revolution", Russia's Foreign Ministry said.
SNOWDEN HONORED BY GLASGOW STUDENTS
Students at the University of Glasgow have voted ex NSA contractor and whistleblower Edward Snowden as the school’s rector in the university court for the next three years.
Snowden beat ex racing cyclist Graeme Obree, author Alan Bissett, and the Rev. Kelvin Holdsworth, reports the Guardian.
Snowden is not expected to fulfill a rector's duties, being in temporary asylum in Russia.
He is wanted by the US on both charges of espionage and theft of government property after leaking classified material to journalists that revealed the National Security Agency’s global spying operations.
"We are delighted to see Edward Snowden elected as the new rector of the University of Glasgow,” says Chris Cassells, Snowden’s spokesperson for the election campaign.
“We have a proud and virtuous tradition of making significant statements through our rectors, and today we have once more championed this idea, by proving to the world that we are not apathetic on important issues such as democratic rights.”
David Newall, secretary of the university court, says that Snowden’s nomination contributed to an historic campaign:
"This has been a record turnout for a rectorial election. I warmly congratulate Edward Snowden on his success.”
NASRALLAH - KEEP FIGHTING FOR THE GOOD.
"We have reached a situation in which people don't want to tackle the Palestinian cause and the enemy," Sayyed Nasrallah, the Hezbollah leader says, pointing out that "this is what America has sought."
Sayyed Nasrallah says "the US Administration seeks, along with the Zionist Administration, to put an end to the Palestinian cause, and it considers that this is the best time for that, because the Arab and Islamic worlds are absent today, and every country is occupied with its own problems."
Sayyed Nasrallah reminds the Lebanese about the threat this enemy has constantly posed on all political, military, economic, and energy levels, and stresses that "our concern is to defend Lebanon, its glory and capabilities & not leave it to face its destiny."
He points out: "if it wasn't for the resistance, Israel would have stayed in Lebanon." "Israel is still the enemy and threat that we should be aware of... in the past couple of weeks Israel has tried to take advantage of the situation to wage aggression on the resistance and its environment... as its eyes are still on our land and oil and it still sees Hezbollah as the greatest danger in the region."
But, he says, "Israel does not terrify us and does not affect our morale, and it must know that the resistance is on high readiness at all times."
He says that when "we establish a capable state and a strong Army which will become the sole power that defends Lebanon, we can then relax."
Sayyed Nasrallah emphasizes that the second threat, after the Israeli enemy, is Takfiri terror:
"Takfirism is not a threat by itself as long as it remains in the mental field, but the problem lies in their rejection of everyone they disagree with ideologically, politically, or mentally, so they tend to eliminate or proscribe people."
His eminence stresses that "Lebanon is a target for the Takfiri groups and part of their project, and their priority was Lebanon after finishing Syria, and this is why they followed the strategy of controlling Lebanon's borders with Syria."
To those who say Hezbollah's fighting in Syria caused trouble in Lebanon he replies:
"Before going to Syria, didn't Lebanon witness a war imposed by those in the north and in some refugee camps, and didn't they target Christian regions and Army locations with booby-trapped cars? All these occurred before the incidents in Syria began."
He addresses the Lebanese, saying:
"What has the Lebanese government done besides self disassociation which is similar to burying it's head in the sand?
"Don't we have the right to interfere to stop the killing, stealing and raping of women which 30,000 Lebanese have been suffering in Al-Qusayr? What if those Takfiris whom we defeated in Qusayr, came to Lebanon? What if, God forbid, they took control of all Syria? What would the picture be like then?"
His eminence asks: "Why do they fear an election in Syria? It is because they know where Syria's public opinion is now."
"We will triumph in this battle and it is only a matter of time. What this battle requires on various levels is available. This is a crucial battle, but its destiny is victory."
"Their speech in Syria and Lebanon is sectarian as they want to stir incitement. They want us Shiites - whose women and children are being targeted in explosions - to react in a sectarian way, but this did not happen in the past and it will not happen in the future. Such reactions would only serve the Takfiris," he says, praising the Lebanese Army and its recent intelligence achievements.
Sayyed Nasrallah says those "who delayed forming a government for ten months were refusing to form a government and wanted a "neutral" government to isolate Hezbollah."
However, he says "Hezbollah's position today is stronger politically than at any other time, internally, regionally, and internationally."
On the fears and concerns of some people because of some ministers appointed in the new government, Sayyed Nasrallah says:
"I tell them that no matter who the Minister of Justice is, Omar Al-Atrash or Naim Abbas will not be released because they have confessed about their role in sending booby-trapped cars."
His eminence concludes by saluting the oppressed people of Bahrain, as 3 years have passed in their peaceful, civilized revolution, despite all the oppression and arrests by the West-backed regime.
He also addresses the Lebanese, Palestinians, and all honorable people in the region, saying:
"If you want Israel to lose any chances, and if you want to prevent sedition in the region, stop the war on Syria and take out the fighters there. (and, of course, we would pull out then.)
"We should all stop this war on Syria in order to preserve Lebanon, Palestine, and Syria."
US NEOCON STRATEGY - STILL TRYING HARD!
William Engdahl, award-winning geopolitical analyst and strategic risk consultant, says the US is still trying to "win" a nuclear war with Russia and this places European countries in the utmost danger.
Despite Russia’s recent efforts to broker a peaceful resolution of the Syrian chemical weapons crisis, as well as its good offices in helping resolve the Iranian nuclear conflict with Washington, the Obama administration is moving ahead with its highly provocative nuclear Ballistic Missile ‘Defense’ (BMD) deployments around Russia.
What we are not being told by politicians Engdahl warns, is that this action, far from being peaceful, "brings the world closer than ever to nuclear war by miscalculation."
Four US advanced destroyers to be positioned in Rota, Spain, will form a key part of the US- controlled ballistic missile “shield.”
The shield is being sold as protecting Europe against any Iranian nuclear missile attacks.
But the reality, as Moscow has declared again and again since 2001, is to target the only nuclear arsenal on Earth capable of countering a US nuclear attack - Russia’s.
As military experts across the world point out, no “terrorists” or small rogue state has any such nuclear missile delivery capability ... and US intelligence estimates agree.
Why then is the US spending tens of billions if not hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars developing its BMD system?
Official US military policy reports demonstrate, Engdahl says, that it has been the deliberate and unflinching policy of Washington since the collapse of the Soviet Union to systematically and relentlessly - throughout the administrations of four US Presidents - to pursue nuclear primacy (unilateral assured destruction) and the capacity for absolute, global military dominance, what the Pentagon callS Full Spectrum Dominance.
In 2006, the then US Ambassador to NATO, former Cheney advisor Victoria Nuland (yes, the same person disgraced by a video of her phone tirade with US Ukraine Ambassador Pyatt on changing Ukraine's government - saying “Fuck the EU”) declared that the US wants a “globally deployable military force” that would operate everywhere – from Africa to the Middle East & beyond - “all across our planet.”
As nuclear strategy experts warned at that time, more than eight years ago, deployment of even a minimal missile defense, under the Pentagon’s then-new CONPLAN 8022, would give the US what the military calls, “Escalation Dominance” - the ability to win a war at any level of violence, including nuclear war.
As a Foreign Affairs article in 2006 notes: “A nuclear war-fighting capability remains a key component of US' military doctrine and nuclear primacy remains a goal of the US.”
The two authors, Lieber and Press, outline the real consequences of the current escalation of BMD in Europe (and against China in Japan):
“The sort of missile defenses that the US might plausibly deploy would be valuable primarily in an offensive context, not a defensive one - as an adjunct to a US First Strike capability, not as a stand- alone shield." If the US launched a nuclear attack against Russia (or China), the targeted country would be left with only a tiny surviving arsenal - if any at all. At that point, even a relatively modest or inefficient missile defense system might well be enough to protect against any retaliatory strikes.”
“Today, for the first time in almost 50 years, the US stands on the verge of attaining nuclear primacy. It will probably soon be possible for the US to destroy the long- range nuclear arsenals of Russia or China with a first strike.
"This dramatic shift in the nuclear balance of power stems from a series of improvements in the US' nuclear systems, the precipitous decline of Russia's arsenal, and the glacial modernization pace of China's nuclear forces.”
Today, in addition to the missile-loaded USS Donald Cook in Rota, the US has BMD bases in Turkey, Bulgaria, Poland and the Czech Republic, all aimed at Russia.
As the Russian military command refused to completely dismantle their nuclear capacities after 1991 until they were assured that the US would do likewise, every step closer to full US Ballistic Missile Defense deployment brings nearer the possibility of a Russian preemptive nuclear strike against Turkey, Bulgaria, Poland, the Czech Republic and now Spain as well as the US nuclear silos, including reportedly in Germany. How stupid are EU governments? How stupid is Washington?
The Washington neo-conservatives’ agenda to reduce Russia to pieces - as seen by their actions in Ukraine, Engdahl says, is not the most intelligent strategy.
But then, Engdahl points out, neo-conservative warhawks are not famed for their intelligence, but for their brutal war strategies in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria and now, perhaps, in a potential Third World War triggered by their insistence on BMD aimed at Russia's nuclear strike force.
TERROR AND DIVISION- it's US !
The UK and US are the main orchestrators of the devastation in Syria as the neocolonialist agenda of the two, focuses on support for terrorism and division in different countries across the world, a political analyst says.
In an interview with Press TV, Sukant Chandan points to the ongoing crisis in Syria & notes:
“The source of the problem, actually, is in London and in Washington."
"London is still the world capital of the privately- armed mercenary industry, and it’s also still the world financial capital of neocolonialism today.”
The analyst says that terrorism is a US and UK strategy to conduct regime change and to keep hegemony and domination across the world.
He says that terrorism, combined with creating divisions inside countries, is “the 21st-century neocolonialism” tactic employed by the US and UK, against different nations.
European Union (EU) countries, alongside the UK, one of the Western supporters of the militants in Syria, have already expressed concern over the threat of terrorism from extremist groups in Syria.
A study by UK defense consultancy IHS Jane’s published last September showed that about 100,000 militants, fragmented into 1,000 groups, are operating inside Syria and carrying out atrocities against people and Syrian soldiers.
According to reports, over 300 UK nationals, along with militants from the US, Canada, France and the Netherlands, have joined the foreign-backed militant groups in Syria.
The country has been gripped by a deadly crisis since March 2011. Millions have been displaced.
UK USED TERROR IN INDIA
The UK's Sikh community has threatened to boycott Conservative candidates at the 2015 election over the Coalition's refusal to launch a full public inquiry into the UK's role in India's Golden Temple massacre.
The Sikh Federation launched a mass letter- writing campaign, urging UK MPs to set up a large-scale inquiry into UK involvement in the deadly attack on Sikhism's holiest shrine in India’s Amritsar city, in June 1984.
A spokesperson for the Federation warned that all MPs who refuse to support the call, face losing the votes of Sikhs across the UK.
Bhai Amrik Singh, chair of the Sikh Federation, predicts that the number of politicians backing an independent probe into the Amritsar raid will increase from 50 to 100+ over the next few days.
"Many Conservative politicians in Labour target seats, while not yet supporting the inquiry, are under enormous pressure, as we have now started to gain the support of prospective parliamentary candidates who are their main rivals," Singh says.
UK PM David Cameron has been given a deadline of February 20th, to agree to a meeting with representatives of the Sikh Federation, or face a protest outside Downing Street.
Appearing in the House of Commons earlier this month, Foreign Secretary William Hague acknowledged that an officer from the SAS (Special Air Service) travelled to India in February 1984 and advised Indian authorities on planning one of the most notorious atrocities in UK imperial history, in the South Asian country.
The death toll from the temple raid remains disputed, with Indian authorities putting it in the hundreds and Sikh groups, in the thousands.
Cybernet Attack Affects Venezuelan Institutions Venezuela's Minister for Science, Technology and Innovation, Manuel Fernandez, asserts today that Venezuela is facing one of the most serious cybernet attacks in its history.
Over the last 48 hours, 61 Government web pages were hacked, in the fiercest attack ever recorded in this country, says the minister, in an interview with Toda Venezuela (The Whole Venezuela), broadcast on Venezolana de Television station.
Fernandez reports that the most damaging attack so far, was carried out on Friday night against the website of the Foreign Currency Administrative Commission (CADIVI).
He says the saboteurs tried for minutes to send 500,000 requests to CADIVI and for that reason, one of 16 links from Venezuela to other countries through CANTV, was saturated.
That website could not be accessed for three or four hours, he says.
Fernandez explains to Venezuela's people, that there are four types of cyber attacks and that 16 Venezuelan websites were hit by the best known of them, called distortion, that is, distorting or changing a web page.
"27 other web pages were attacked through service denial, which causes a resource to be inaccessible to users of those pages", says the minister.
He says the third type of attack uncovers website vulnerabilities and inserts malicious software to take control of the page. "That was the cause of the collapse of one Venezuelan website," the minister explains.
Through Webhive, malicious software that causes a user's request to be replicated until the service is denied, 17 websites were attacked, he says.
The minister says the government of Falcon state, the University of Zulia, Venezolana de Television station, Mision Ribas, the Ministry of the Interior, Justice and Peace, the city halls of Valencia and Carabobo, and the Republic's Vice Presidency, were among the institutions damaged.
Supreme Leader Urges Iran’s Students to Prepare for ’Cyber War’
The Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution of Iran Grand Ayatollah Sayyed Ali Khamenei has told Iranian students this week to prepare to go to battle in a 'cyber war'.
Calling them 'cyber-war agents', Ayatollah Khamenei was quoted by Mehr news agency telling students 'Get yourself ready for such war wholeheartedly.'
His comments are believed to be in response to Israeli Major General Aviv Kochavi, who warned that cyber attacks will soon be revealed to be the 'biggest revolution in warfare'.
Iran has previously blamed the CIA and Mossad for a cyber attack on the Bushehr power station in 2010, before being targeted again in 2012, by a data mining virus.
Saudis Agree to Provide Gunmen in Syria with Mobile Anti-aircraft Missiles
Saudi Arabia, one of the US's main Arab allies, has agreed to provide Takfiri groups in Syria with more sophisticated weaponry, including shoulder-fired missiles that can take down jets, say Western and Arab diplomats and opposition figures, says the Wall Street Journal today.
Saudi Arabia has offered to give the opposition Chinese man-portable air defense systems, (Manpads) and Russian antitank guided missiles, says an Arab diplomat and some opposition figures with knowledge of these efforts.
The US has long opposed arming opposition gunmen with antiaircraft missiles, for fear they could fall into the hands of extremists who could then use them against the West and commercial airlines.
The US is, however, raising its cash support, handing around $3 million in new aid to pay gumen's salaries in the Southern Front.
Payments were delivered in cash at two meetings in Jordan - one on January 30th, and the other late last year, say opposition field commanders who have received some of the money, says the US daily.
"If the Manpads are supplied in the quantities needed, rebels say it could tip the balance in the stalemated war in favor of the opposition.
The antiaircraft and Russian Konkurs antitank weapons would help them chip away at the regime's 2 big advantages on the battlefield - air power and heavy armour," it says.
The Wall Street Journal says leaders of the Syrian political opposition say they don't know yet how many of the Manpads and antiaircraft missiles they will get, but have been told it will be "significant".
"The weapons are already waiting in warehouses in Jordan and Turkey," it adds.
The daily says that opposition group leaders met with US and Saudi intelligence agents, among others, in Jordan on January 30th, as the first round of Syrian peace talks in Geneva came to a close and that is when rich Gulf States offered the weapons.
The weapons will flow across the border into south Syria from warehouses in Jordan and across the northern border from Turkey, the 'Western diplomat' says.
"With the rebels still deeply divided and infighting growing, the new aid is aimed squarely at the more moderate, secular rebels of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) the US has always favored," the 'paper says.
The plan coincides with the reorganization of rebel forces in the south, where 10,000 fighters have formed the Southern Front. The new front aims to break the government's siege of the southern suburbs of Damascus.
Congressional aides in the US confirm that there are scheduled meetings with opposition leaders next week to discuss their request for more advanced weapons.
But Congress remains sharply divided about the conflict in Syria. Some lawmakers favor stepped-up support to moderate opposition groups, but others question the wisdom of providing heavy weapons.
BAHRAIN UPRISING CONTINUES
Clashes with police mark the third anniversary of the Bahrain uprising that has seen numerous human rights violations by the government and wide social discontent by the majority Shia, with the minority ruling Sunni monarchy.
Police have used tear gas in a number of villages outside the capital Manama across the small island as security forces moved in to disperse gatherings.
In some districts protesters have been setting barricades of burning tires on fire to prevent police moving in. They chanted "Down with Hamad", and "Only to Allah (God), we kneel."
At least 29 people have been arrested.
Thursday saw the beginning of a three-day-long protest called by the 'February 14 youth coalition', the Shiite-led opposition, to mark Friday's 3 year anniversary of the popular protest.
Anti-government movement supporters were urged to once again occupy the Pearl Square, the cradle of the revolution where activists camped in 2011, before Bahraini, Saudi and UAE troops smashed the uprising.
CHINA WALKS THE WALK ON KOREA
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi says Friday, that China will never allow any chaos or war on the Korean Peninsula.
Wang makes the remarks while meeting Secretary of State John Kerry in Beijing.
"China is serious on this. We not only say so, but do so, " says Wang.
Amnesty: Central Africa - ’Ethnic Cleansing’
'Ethnic cleansing" is being carried out against Muslim civilians in the Central African Republic and international peacekeepers are unable to prevent it, Amnesty International says.
France's defense minister has already calls on international forces deployed in the Christian- majority country to put an end to attacks by the militias "by force if needed".
Amnesty says it has documented at least 200 killings of Muslim civilians by Christian militia groups known as the anti-balaka, set up in the wake of the March 2013 coup by the mainly- Muslim Seleka rebellion.
"'Ethnic cleansing' of Muslims has been carried out in the western part of the Central African Republic, the most populous part of the country, since early January 2014," Amnesty International says.
"Entire Muslim communities have been forced to flee and hundreds of Muslim civilians who haven't managed to escape have been killed by loosely organized militias known as anti-balaka."
The group say attacks against Muslims are occurring "with the stated intent to forcibly displace these communities from the country," with many anti-balaka fighters seeing Muslims as "'foreigners' who should leave the country or be killed".
"They appear to be achieving their aims, with Muslims being forced out of the country in increasingly large numbers," it says.
Amnesty urges international peacekeepers in the country to "take rapid steps to break anti-balaka control over the country's road network, and to station sufficient troops in towns where Muslims are threatened".
UN chief Ban Ki-Moon:
"The sectarian brutality is changing the country's demography. The de facto partition of the C.A.R. is a distinct risk."
"The international response does not yet match the gravity of the situation," he adds.
"We must do more to prevent more atrocities, protect civilians, restore law and order, provide humanitarian assistance and hold the country together," Ban says.
GITMO FORCE-FEEDING IS GOOD, SAY US JUDGES
A US federal appeals court has dismissed demands for an end to force-feeding inmates at the notorious Guantanamo military prison run by the US, in Cuba.
A three-judge panel of the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia in Washington ruled on Tuesday that prison authorities were entitled to "force-feed a starving inmate actually facing the risk of death."
Egypt’s Sisi in Russia for $2-Billion Arms Deal
Egyptian army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi arrived in Moscow wednesday with Egypt's Foreign Minister, Nabil Fahmy, for "2+2" talks with their Russian counterparts, to negotiate a $2 billion arms deal.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrvov and Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu also made a trip to Cairo in November, aimed at reviving ties that have stagnated since Soviet times.
Diplomats in Moscow says Thursday's talks focused on regional security issues such as Syria's crisis, trade and economic relations. But Moscow officials confirm that a large part of the discussions will focus on striking a massive new Russian arms delivery deal.
The head of Russia's state industrial holding company said after the November meeting, that Moscow was on the verge of reaching a landmark agreement to supply air defense systems to Egypt's army.
The Soviet Union was the main supplier of arms to Egypt in the 1960s and early 1970s.
Cooperation between the two sides dropped after the Zionist entity and Egypt signed a peace treaty and Cairo began receiving generous US aid.
But the US suspended some military assistance to Egypt after the July ousting of democratically- elected Islamist president Mohamed Mursi.
Analysts say the Russia-Egypt arms deal is meant to replace subsidised assistance from its old ally, Washington.
Syrian government forces have regained full control of a strategic town near neighboring Lebanon’s border.
The recapture of Jarajir took place after heavy clashes between government forces and foreign- backed militants near the flashpoint city of Yabrud.
The clashes are part of what locals call the "Battle for Qalamoun."
In recent days, the Syrian army has stepped up its attacks on foreign-backed militants along the border with Lebanon. Reports say the attacks are a prelude to a major offensive in the region.
The Syrian army has just conducted successful clean-up operations across the country, inflicting heavy losses on the militants.
The army launched attacks against militants in the provinces of Damascus, Aleppo, Deir Ezzor, Homs, Idlib, Latakia and Daraa, killing large numbers.
CHECK, MATE !!!
Hezbollah says they are to stay in Syria and that the aim of the West to control the future of the region through terror and division, is doomed.
The Lebanese army has arrested a leader of a unit in the al-Qaeda-linked Abdullah Azzam Brigades, which has been involved in recent bombings there.
The army says the leader, Naim Abbas, was arrested by army intelligence in Beirut and the al-Qaeda leader is being questioned under supervision of the judiciary.
According to the Lebanese security forces, Abbas was arrested on suspicion of receiving booby-trapped cars from Omar Ibrahim al-Atrash, an extremist Sunni Muslim Sheikh involved in 2 deadly bombings in south Beirut last month, when a large number of people lost their lives.
Over two dozen people, including Iran’s cultural attaché to Beirut, were killed and more than 150 others injured in November last year after two explosions struck near the Iranian Embassy in southern Beirut.
Abdullah Azzam Brigades claimed responsibility for the twin bomb attacks.
AL AQSA MOSQUE THREATENED BY ISRAELI REGIME
Palestinians in the city of East al-Quds (Jerusalem) have reacted angrily to a visit by Israel’s Minister of Housing & Construction Uri Ariel to al-Aqsa Mosque.
Muslim worshipers at the al-Aqsa Mosque shouted slogans against the minister as he, accompanied by a number of settlers, entered the compound under armed guard.
"The Israeli housing minister, accompanied by 27 settlers, stormed the Al-Aqsa compound through the Al-Magharbah Gate as Israeli police looked on," Turkish state-run Anadolu Agency news agency quotes Sheikh Azzam al-Khatib, the director-general of Muslim endowments & Al-Aqsa affairs, as saying.
Israeli forces took the ID cards of Palestinian protesters.
The Israeli minister has earlier said that Tel Aviv plans to replace the al-Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest site in the Muslim world, with a temple.
This remark has infuriated Palestinians, who condemn the plan as desecration and part of the Israeli regime’s ongoing attempts to Judaize the al-Aqsa Mosque and East al-Quds (Jerusalem).
In recent months, Israeli settlers have stepped up their attacks on the mosque. A move that has led to violent confrontations between the two sides.
On February 7th, clashes erupted between Palestinian worshippers and Israeli soldiers at the al-Aqsa Mosque when Israeli troops stormed the holy site.
Israeli soldiers fired rubber bullets and stun grenades at the people who were praying at the mosque.
At least 20 people, including children, were wounded in the violence.
Eyewitnesses say Israeli forces also beat a number of women and arrested several Palestinians, mostly youths.
MILLIONS SHOW SUPPORT FOR IRAN's REVOLUTION
Abadi: Iran Will Always Be Strategic Depth of Lebanon, Syria, and Palestine
Iran’s ambassador to Lebanon, Ghazanfar Roknabadi, says on the eve' of the 35th anniversary of Iran's revolution, as millions mass to show their support:
"Iran will always be the strategic depth of dignified independent people, especially in Lebanon, Syria and Palestine, against the Zionist occupation and Takfiri terrorism."
With Iran reaching rapprochment with Turkey, Roknabadi says that recent measures by Saudi Arabia suggest a change in Riyadh’s foreign policy, and he predicts that a rapprochement is close between Tehran and the Arab kingdom.
“[We are seeing the] start of a change in Saudi Arabia’s foreign policy,” Roknabadi says, citing King Abdullah's recent decree punishing Saudi citizens who fight in foreign conflicts.
“Iran is keen on the best of ties with the world, and with its neighbour states, particularly with Saudi Arabia,” Roknabadi says.
“Reaching a Saudi-Iranian rapprochement will not take long,” he says. “God willing, we will reach that stage soon.”
“We insist on strengthening our ties with Saudi Arabia,” he adds.
Miqdad: States Involved in Syrian Blood Regard Stopping Terrorism "Not Priority"
Syrian deputy Foreign Minister Fayssal al-Miqdad says there are governments involved in the blood of the Syrian people who have "other priorities" than stopping terrorism.
Miqdad states " it is time to reach an agreement between Syrians to stop the bloodshed, and this is a priority."
"The goal of Geneva-II is the cessation of violence and terrorism," he says, adding that progress can't be made, if the bloodshed and support for terrorism doesn't stop.
"The time has come to stop terrorist acts in Syria and to reach an agreement. If we do not stop the massacres taking place in Syria, Syria's people will not trust the talks in Geneva."
The Syrian official stresses that the goal behind the "Maan massacre" on Sunday, was to kill women and children only.
On Sunday, the opposition militants committed a horrible massacre in Maan village in central Syria, killing 120 people, including women and children.
GAZA MAN SHINES
A Palestinian man in the Israeli-blockaded Gaza Strip has come up with a new method to light up houses and streets in his neighbourhood, as the Palestinian territory suffers massive power cuts, Press TV reports.
Hassan Saad, who is in his thirties, has launched a project to make use of expired and broken batteries to produce electricity.
He has managed to provide 60 houses, several streets, and the mosque in his neighborhood with safe and free lights during power outages.
Saad says that he came up with the project, called the National Unity Network, because he personally suffers from the power cuts and the prices of batteries are so high that most people in the coastal enclave cannot afford them.
Saad describes his project as a “message of sympathy to raise awareness of what is happening to Palestinians under the blockade.”
“This project saved our lives from the danger of lighting candles after a number of houses were set on fire,” say one Gazan man.
In recent months, fuel and electricity shortages in Gaza have worsened as the Egyptian military has blocked supply tunnels leading into the region. The underground tunnels serve as a lifeline for Gaza’s population of over 1.7 million.
Gaza has been under Israeli illegal siege since 2007, a situation that has made the Gazans desperately dependent on goods coming through the tunnels.
The Palestinian Non-Governmental Organizations Network (PNGO), which represents more than 130 Palestinian civil society organizations, has called on the international community to end the “continuous Israeli siege.”
Several human rights organizations and civil groups have also criticized the Egyptian army for preventing the people in Gaza from accessing most of their basic goods like construction materials, food, and fuel.
Russia Criticizes US Increasing Sanctions on Iran Russia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs expresses outrage today at the US Government reprisals against individuals and organizations included in new "black lists" for having traded with Iran, and failing to comply with US unilateral bans.
Additional sanctions against Iran contradict what was agreed in Geneva, says a Russian Foreign Ministry statement referring to a report issued by the US Treasury Department.
David Cohen, Undersecretary of the US Treasury Department, said the list includes countries and companies that support the Iranian nuclear program.
Companies and businesspeople from Turkey, Germany, Spain, Georgia, Afghanistan, the United Arab Emirates, Liechtenstein and Iran itself are included, and will now be subjected to repressive measures, says the Ministry.
The reprisals were taken after officials from over 100 French corporations and other countries, visited Iran to boost trade ties under agreements reached in November.
Palestinians Evicted from Camp, Set up a New One Protest camp participants in a village in the Jordan valley, evicted yesterday by Israelí soldiers, have set up another camp nearby, say Palestinian press reports.
The new facility is in the area of Jiftlik, north of the previous camp, which was stormed on Friday night by Israelí occupying forces.
The activists, including members of foreign human rights organizations, gathered in the new camp as a reaffirmation that the area belongs to Palestine, and to neutralize the Israeli government's plan to annex the Jordan valley, considered vital to its national security.
In an attack against the protest camp of Ein Hajla on Friday, several protesters, including minors, suffered fractures and other injuries, says Bassa Maslamani, a member of the Central Committee of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine.
The increase of Israeli settlement construction and the moving of the population to annexed land in the West Bank and East Jerusalem is the main cause of a stalemate in peace talks resumed in July, 2013.
The resumption of the protest coincides with figures revealed, according to which, last year Israel demolished 663 Palestinian houses in the West Bank and E. Jerusalem, including 122 built with funds provided by international aid bodies.
According to a communiqué issued by international assistance bodies, the figure is the highest for 5 years.
IRAN's NAVY HEADS FOR US
Ships from the Iranian army’s naval fleet are headed towards US maritime borders as part of a longstanding protest against US vessels in the Persian Gulf, Fars News Agency states.
"The Iranian Army's naval fleets have already started their voyage towards the Atlantic Ocean via the waters near South Africa," the Commander of Iran's Northern Navy Fleet, Admiral Afshin Rezayee Haddad, announces.
The admiral, who also heads the Iranian Army's 4th Naval Zone, says the ships are approaching the US' maritime borders, “and this move has a message."
The agency gave no details on the number or types of vessels deployed.
The US Navy’s 5th fleet, which is responsible for naval forces in the Persian Gulf, Red Sea, Arabian Sea, and parts of the Indian Ocean, is based in Bahrain.
"Like the arrogant powers that are present near our maritime borders, we will also have a powerful presence close to the American marine borders," Sayyari had promised.
UK spies use sex, cyber attacks to discredit "targets" – Snowden leaks
Intelligence agents working for the UK have employed “dirty tricks” including sexual traps, to ensnare rival agents, hackers, suspected terrorists, arms dealers, campaigners, political activists and others, according to documents leaked by Edward Snowden.
Documents leaked by the US NSA whistleblower and published by NBC news on Friday, detail the strategies used by the Joint Threat Research and Intelligence Group (JTRIG), a spy unit whose existence has been classified, to “destroy, deny, degrade [and] disrupt” adversaries.
The slides, which were used in 2010 and 2012, show that the JTRIG completes missions by “discrediting”, via misinformation and hacking.
The leak details two primary methods of attack - cyber operations and propaganda efforts - including mass messaging and the manipulation of stories on social media platforms like Twitter, Flickr, Facebook, and YouTube.
The cyber-attacks are primarily denial of service (DDoS) attacks, made famous by hackers who overtake millions of computers and direct all their internet traffic to one site, overwhelming that URL and effectively shutting it down.
Eric King, attorney, who teaches IT law now, at the London School of Economics, told NBC it is “remarkable” that the GCHQ has become so adept at launching DDoS attacks without “clear lawful authority,” and even as the UK government criticizes similar methods used by other states.
“GCHQ has no clear authority to send a virus or conduct cyber-attacks,” he says. “Hacking is one of the most invasive methods of surveillance.”
The slides also point out that the UK's spies are “slightly ahead” of US spies on offensive operations and that the GCHQ has absorbed many of the responsibilities formerly under the domain of the MI5 and MI6 spy agencies.
As well as "honey traps", hacking and having people closely watched, also mentioned in the 2010 presentation is a technique known as “credential harvesting” that manipulates journalists into giving false information to an intelligence target.
Whether or not the journalist would be aware of their role is unclear but the slides do indicate a reporter could be used to gain access to a target, perhaps through an interview, and then have their conversation monitored by the GCHQ.
Joel Simon, executive director of the Committee to Protect Journalists, says that the very idea of “credential harvesting” should be a “wake up call” to media personnel.
“All journalists generally are then vulnerable to the charge that they work at the behest of an intelligence agency,” he says.
As Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, the Sudan, Libya, all experience increased turmoil, the Lebanon eyes its future...
A report says extremist militants are flocking to a Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon, with plans for terror attacks.
According to the report acquired by the Daily Star newspaper, extremist militants from Chechnya, Egypt, Tunisia and Syria, have been flooding to Ain al-Hilweh refugee camp in the southern port city of Sidon, since January.
They have reportedly joined the Ziad Jarrah Brigades, part of the terrorist group, the Abdallah Azzam Brigades.
“Lebanese security forces have received information that these groups entered the country through the border town of Arsal,” the report states.
The report shows that the militants have been planning terrorist attacks to target diplomatic, military and security institutions.
Lebanese security forces have also expressed concern about potential attacks by militants against the UN Interim Force in Lebanon.
Lebanon has been embroiled in a string of deadly bomb attacks in recent months. Many view the violence as a "spillover" from neighboring Syria.
Terrorist groups of the al-Nusra Front and the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) operating in Syria have already claimed responsibility for a number of the bombings in Lebanon.
An intercepted phone conversation between top US officials about Ukraine suggests that Washington has meddled inappropriately.
In a four-minute video, posted on YouTube by an anonymous user, US Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland and US ambassador to Kiev Geoffrey Pyatt discuss which of Ukraine’s opposition leaders they want to rule in Ukraine:
“I don’t think that [Vitaly] Klitschko should go into the government. I don’t think it is necessary. I don’t think it is a good idea,” a female voice, allegedly Nuland, said.
“In terms of him not going into government, just let him stay out and do his political homework,” a male voice, believed to be Pyatt, replied. “In terms of the process moving ahead, we want to keep the moderate democrats together,” he said.
Nuland also referred to getting the UN involved in the process to resolve Kiev’s political crisis, saying UN chief Ban Ki- moon is about to appoint Robert Serry, the former Dutch ambassador to Kiev, as his representative to the country.
"That would be great, I think, to help glue this thing and have the UN glue it and you know, f**k the EU," she said, in an apparent reference to their differences over policies.
"We've got to do something to make it stick together, because you can be pretty sure that if it does start to gain altitude the Russians will be working behind the scenes to try to torpedo it," Pyatt replied.
Nebojsa Malic, foreign policy expert, says:
"There is obvious evidence confirming what is actually going on there. Considering that there have been pamphlets found among the rioters, that are exact replicas of pamphlets used previously in Serbia and in Egypt, offered by the people who are on the pay roll of the US government through various US non- governmental institutions and institutes."
"If I were Klitschko, I’d be really upset. If I were the other two leaders of the rebels, I’d be upset too."
"Here we have a situation where a high ranking official of the US government, who's even been to Kiev distributing cookies to demonstrators back when they were still relatively peaceful, refers to these guys as "Klitch," "Yatsy" and "Tiny Bock."
I would be seriously upset. I'd consider it an insult."
The date and precise context of the recording are not known yet, but according to some reports, the call was made last month, based on references in the conversation.
State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki refused to comment on the taped conversation.
However, she did not deny the authenticity of the recording, saying Nuland has called EU officials to apologize for dismissing the European Union in such crude terms.
As US officials visited Kiev, Putin’s economic advisor, Sergey Glazyev, said the situation in Ukraine is "an attempted coup", adding that Moscow enjoys legal grounds to intervene in the country’s crisis.
"According to our information, US sources spend $20 million a week on financing the opposition & rebels, including on weapons," he told the Ukrainian edition of Russian newspaper Kommersant.
"We have information that the militants are briefed on the territory of the US Embassy, that they are being armed. Of course it is unacceptable, this has to be looked into," he said.
Glazyev quoted the Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances dating back to 1994, adding that Russia has legal grounds to intervene in the crisis.
"According to this document, Russia and the US are guarantors of Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity and frankly speaking they are obliged to intervene when such conflicts arise," Putin’s advisor point out.
An Israeli lawmaker says the Likud party plans to propose a bill that will officially annex all illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank.
Miri Regev, from PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party, said on February 4th that the bill is aimed at keeping the settlements under Israeli rule, no matter what future develops.
The controversial bill also bars Tel Aviv from restricting settlement construction for "diplomatic reasons".
The Israeli Ministerial Committee for Legislation is expected to discuss the proposal on February 9. If passed, the law would be a new obstacle to the talks with the Palestinian Authority.
In December 2013, the Israeli cabinet panel endorsed another law proposed by Regev, to annex the Jordan Valley.
Israel’s illegal settlement expansion on occupied Palestinian land, is one of the sticking points in the talks with the PA.
The Palestinians demand that East al-Quds (Jerusalem) be their capital and that Israel recognize borders based on the 1967 lines, which existed before the Six-Day War, when Israel captured the West Bank and East al-Quds.
Tel Aviv, however, has refused to return to the 1967 borders and is unwilling to discuss al-Quds. It also wants to keep the settlements it has built in occupied Palestinian territories.
Israel also wants to keep its military presence in the Jordan Valley under any deal, but the Palestinians say an international force should be stationed there to guarantee security.
European Union Blocks Russian Transnational Gas Pipeline
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov denounces the European Union's plans to "review" agreements signed between Moscow and seven EU members participating in the South Flow gas pipeline.
Lavrov expresses concern and astonishment about the EU's decision to "reconsider" intergovernmental agreements between Moscow and Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Slovenia, Greece, Hungary and Serbia on the pipeline that will carry 63 billion cubic meters of gas a year.
The head of Russian diplomacy warns that Brussels' purpose is to homologate treaties with the so-called Third Strategic Package of the EU.
That document is aimed at limiting Russia's role to a mere supplier of hydrocarbons and to veto its participation in fuel distribution within Europe.
Lavrov underlines that the pipeline is Russia's contribution to European energy security, as it allows route diversification of gas transport on the continent.
He condemns EU legislation for preventing implementation of bilateral agreements, which, he says, are an inalienable part of international law and therefore cannot be reviewed unilaterally.
US BACKING OF TERRORISTS BACKFIRES BIG TIME
The US has been pressuring India to use their influence over Karzai to persuade him to sign the Bilateral Security Agreement with the US, which would allow US troops to stay in Afghanistan beyond the end of 2014.
James Dobbins, the US special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, one week before Karzai reached India, testified before a Senate committee that he hoped India would persuade Karzai to sign the BSA.
Dobbins said the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan would push the country into civil war and warned that such a scenario would lead to a "rise in extremist groups, outflow of refugees and disruptions in commerce that would threaten the region as a whole."
The US diplomat even cautioned Karzai thus: "We try to tell him that American opinion isn't exactly where he thinks it is, and that he is playing with fire."
Dobbins remarks: "His upcoming visit to India could, I think, be quite influential, because he highly respects and has good relations with the Indian government."
The US wanted Karzai to fall in line and sign the BSA by 31 December, 2013. But it has still not been signed and Karzai has bluntly told the US that he won’t be signing on the dotted line, as the US expects and wants.
Russia, China and India differ with the US view, primarily because of their concerns about the deadly web of Islamist terrorism that the US's policies may weave for the region.
India and Russia are now working on a deal to ensure that Russian military technology reaches Afghanistan to fight terrorist forces, while India pays for these military supplies.
A new strategic paradigm is rapidly evolving in India’s backyard. The US influence in the region is clearly waning while Russia, India, and China are on the ascendence.
Israel's approval of new settlement units outrages Palestinians
Palestinians are infuriated by an announcement by Israel's ministry of housing that it is tendering for 1, 200 housing units in Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, saying that the decision will derail the already fragile peace negotiations between the two sides.
Israeli Radio reports that 800 units will be built in the settlements in East Jerusalem and another 400 units in the West Bank.
The news of the new tenders comes as Israeli and Palestinian negotiators, along with US mediators, are scheduled to hold a new round of direct talks in Jerusalem tommorrow (Wednesday).
Mohamed Ishtaya, a Palestinian negotiator, told Xinhua that the Israeli decision is a deliberate blow to international and US efforts exerted to achieve peace in the region, adding "peace and settlements are contradictory and can never meet."
He warns that Israel "is only interested in keeping on illegally building," adding "the Israeli government is ignoring all the efforts to revive the peace process and make real peace in the region."
Halting settlement construction was a major condition demanded by the Palestinians for resuming the stalled peace talks. They are now hoping that the US Secretary of State John Kerry, will intervene and ask the Israeli government to end its settlement expansion, which is illegal under international law.
Kerry has earlier considered the building of settlements as an obstacle to the peace process, however, he hasn't officially ask Israel to stop.
"Israel is trying to empty the content of US-sponsored peace negotiations before they are really launched," says Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the executive committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization.
"After this, I don't believe that Palestinians are in need of any meaningless negotiations with Israel."
She accuses Israeli of trying to escape from any political commitments. "Israel is giving a priority to the program of its coalition of fanatics, at the expense of the Palestinian people's legitimate rights and at the expense of the requirements of peace," she says, referring to the pro- settlement political lobby in Israel.
On Sunday, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and the US special peace envoy to the Middle East, Martin Indyk, met in Ramallah, to prepare for the next round of peace talks.
Afghan Government Agrees to Break with NATO
The National Security Council (NSC) of Afghanistan, led by President Hamid Karzai, has agreed to end collaboration with NATO, it says in a communiqué.
The decision was made after delegates heard reports from the NSC's advisor; Rangin Dadfar Spanta, on the status of negotiations with the North Atlantic Alliance.
The declaration issued by the Afghan President's Office stresses that the covenant will only progress if Kabul's interests are taken into account and ratified immediately.
The rejected agreement is one key element within the necessary juridical framework for deployment of a mission led by NATO aimed at training, advising and supporting Afghan forces, after 2014.
Realization of a NATO/Afghanistan agreement is taking a long time, because of the delayed signing of a US-Afghanistan security agreement, to which, president Karzai has put conditions.
Among other conditions, the head of state demands the release of Afghans imprisoned in Guantanamo, a total stop to military operations against Afghans and a guarantee that the treaty will ensure peace.
NATO's Secretary General, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, says that if the two agreements "disappear", NATO troops will withdraw completely IN 2014.
PEACE PLAN "LEAKS"
Jordan’s FM: Jordan Will Not Recognize Israel As Jewish State
Jordan’s Foreign Minister Nasser Jawda, says Jordan is against recognizing Israel as a Jewish state and Jordan will not be an alternative home for Palestinians, Alray Palestinian news agency reports.
Speaking to parliament in a session on US Secretary of State John Kerry’s peace plan, Jawda repeats that Jordan will not be an "alternative home for anybody."
"There are no formulas or US documents written to solve the Arab-Israeli conflict, but a framework agreement," he stresses, noting that "it is up to Palestinians and Israelis to sign it, or not."
"Jordan is integrally involved in and has a big role in the Palestinian-Israeli talks," he adds.
Jawda stresses that Jordan is not absent from the peace negotiations and will not accept any solution that contradicts its country’s interests or national security. He adds "Jordan will not negotiate on behalf of Palestinians, regarding their envisioned state’s borders with Israel."
Jawda describes US efforts to push peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) as a "serious attempt" to reach tangible results.
Martin Indyk, the US Special Envoy for Israeli- Palestinian Negotiations, has already revealed that Kerry’s framework agreement addresses compensation for Palestinian refugees but does not say anything about a Palestinian refugees' right of return.
Indyk DOES say, that a brand new security zone is to be created between Jordan and the West Bank, with fences, sensors and unmanned aerial vehicles.
Kerry's peace plan, which will be public within weeks, involves a "semi-cancellation" of the Palestinian refugees' right of return, which will transfer the problem over to Jordan, half of whose population are of Palestinian origin, and 15% do not hold Jordanian citizenship.
SETTLEMENTS NEED CONTROL
Israeli Finance Minister Suspends Settlement Funds
Israeli Finance Minister Yair Lapid has decided to suspend the transfer of public funds to West Bank settlements, pending a probe into their alleged misuse, his office says.
Lapid's move came after it emerged that some funds earmarked for compensating West Bank communities were transferred to the settlement leadership for political activity, a ministry statement says.
The funds were intended for security and the maintenance of schools and kindergartens.
But after it emerged the funds were "allegedly being illegally channeled to the Yesha Council, which used the money for political activities - including against the government - Lapid ordered the future funding cut immediately, under this clause," his office statement says.
The minister has ordered an investigation into the matter, it adds.
PEACE DEAL OR BOYCOTT - ISRAEL's CHOICE
Israel is rejecting warnings by the US that it could face a growing boycott, if the peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority fail.
Yesterday, Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu called the boycott threats by US Secretary of State John Kerry “immoral and unjust,” adding that no pressure would force him to renounce Israel’s “vital interests.”
Earlier, two Israeli ministers lashed out at Kerry over his remarks, made at the 50th Munich Security Conference in Germany.
Speaking at the conference, Kerry warned that the boycott campaign against Israel will intensify if talks fail between the Israelis and Palestinians.
He also said that “Israel's security” is an illusion that is bound to change if the talks fail.
Israel has faced a widening boycott campaign by some European businesses over its illegal settlements on occupied Palestinian land.
Terrorist Groups in Syria Treat over 700 of Their Injured in Israeli Hospital
The Israeli army has erected a field hospital on the Golan Heights to treat injured militants belonging to the terrorist groups in Syria.
These groups have treated over 700 of their injured militants in the Israeli hospital, say Israeli media outlets.
The Zionist army has stopped media outlets from broadcasting the activities of the field hospital until now, yet allowed Channel 2 to prepare a report about it to promote it as a "humane Israeli step towards the Syrians."
The report mainly focused on Israeli intentions behind treating the militants, saying that the Israelis aim is to strengthen and deepen their relations with the terrorist groups in Syria, to keep the calm and stability which presently prevails between these groups and Israel, on the Palestinian-Syrian borders.
The report included interviews with some militants, one of whom stated:
"Zionism is not macabre, as it has been portrayed by the Syrian regime."
"The regime used to force us to believe that our enemy is all the surrounding world, yet, after the beginning of the revolution, we recognized our real friends and enemies."
OFFICIAL "WE CANNOT STOP BOYCOTTS"
Tel Aviv's current regime cannot stop the growing international anti-Israel boycott campaign over Israeli settlement building on occupied Palestinian territories, an official admits.
The Israeli Foreign Ministry official, whose name is not mentioned in the report, admits on Sunday that Europe will continue to ban Israel as long as it persists with settlements on Palestinian land.
“We cannot truly fight against the will to boycott us,” says the official, adding, “There is no way to explain the fundamental issue that troubles even our most prominent companies in the world. It is impossible to face the subject of boycotts while not facing the subject of settlements. That is the truth.”
There's a “boycott fashion in Europe against Israel” and “as long as Israel continues to build, this will persist and it will be difficult to prevent, without handling this political issue,” the official said.
The comments came after two of Europe’s biggest financial institutions boycotted transactions with Israeli companies engaged in the construction of settlements on occupied Palestinian land.
The EU has also blocked all grants and funding to any Israeli entity based in the illegal settlements.
The American Studies Association has also announced a decision to boycott Israeli institutions and academics over the discriminatory treatment of Palestinians.
Israelis are frustrated by the boycott campaign and Cabinet ministers will hold a meeting next week in an attempt to find a strategy to counter the boycotts.
The presence and continued expansion of Israeli settlements in occupied Palestinian territories, has created a major obstacle to efforts being made to establish peace in the Middle East.
Over half a million Israelis live in more than 120 illegal settlements built since Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and East al-Quds in 1967.
US fighting in more countries than ever before - Hagel says
US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel warns that China and Russia are challenging the US as they invest in their military capabilities.
“The most persistent and pressing security challenges to Europe and the US are global,” he says at the Munich Security Conference, the most important transatlantic security gathering, on Saturday.
“Nations such as China and Russia are rapidly modernizing their militaries and global defense industries, challenging our technological edge and defense partnerships around the world.”
The Pentagon chief, addressing the conference with Secretary of State John Kerry, says that the US military is reorganizing, to deal with all these new "threats".
And, notes Hagel, the US is expanding its military across the world, more than before.
“I would venture to say, that the US is more present, doing more things in more places today than maybe ever before,” Hagel says.
“How we’re doing it is different,” he adds.
(Yes - murder by special forces, and the backing of Saudi Takfiri terrorist gangs, plus using CIA run illegal killer drones, and accelerated armament production!)
New research shows that the United States, Canada and some W. European countries topped the list of arms producers in 2012.
The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) says in its report that, of the top 100 arms manufacturers, 42 are based in the US, one in Canada, and 30 in West Europe.
Arms producers in the US and Western Europe account for almost 90% of world weapons sales, the Sweden-based research institute says.
Russia increased its production by 28% in 2013.
Afghanistan: Blast Kills Three NATO Soldiers
Three soldiers with NATO die after a blast in the Afghan province of Helmand, a local government spokesperson of Omar Zwak, informs the media.
The source notes that the deceased soldiers were from Denmark.
The soldiers were killed by an explosive device activated by remote control as a NATO convoy passed through the area.
The Danish army leadership underlines that other soldiers were injured due to the blast and are currently hospitalized.
CELAC Declares Latin America and the Caribbean a Peace Zone
Latin America and the Caribbean are declared a Peace Zone region at CELAC's Second Summit in Havana.
Cuban president Raúl Castro read the declaration ratifying CELAC countries' commitment to comply with the goals and principles laid down by the UN Charter and international law.
He says the region's prosperity & stability contributes to world peace and security.
"We are aware peace is a greater good and a rightful wish for all nations, & its preservation is fundamental to the integration of L. America & the Caribbean; & a CELAC common principle and value" the document reads.
The text also highlights the relevance of the Tlatelolco Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean, establishing the world's first nuclear weapon free zone in a highly populated area, and representing a contribution to regional and international peace and security.
The document reiterates the need for a general and complete nuclear disarmament.
Castro recalls UNASUR heads of state's decision to strengthen South America as a Cooperation and Peace Zone.
The declaration reaffirms "our commitment that Latin America and the Caribbean consolidate as a peace zone, where differences among nations are solved peacefully, through dialogue and negotiation, according to international law".
The Cuban president says the peace zone includes the international organizations to which member states belong.
The document confirms a permanent commitment to find peaceful solutions to conflicts, in order to ban the threat or use of force in the region, as well as the obligation not to intervene, directly or indirectly, in other states' internal affairs.
It also calls for observance of the principles of national sovereignty, equal rights and peoples' self-determination.
The text insists on the need to foster friendly and cooperative relations, regardless of political, economic or social systems or level of development.
The text commits and urges 33 State members to act according to the signed declaration in their international conduct & relations between members.
Cuba Calls to Overcome Obstacles to World Peace at UN
Cuba at the United Nations, calls on us all to remove the obstacles to the realization of lasting world peace, such as the old interests of domination and colonialism; and to solve or remove social problems.
It is not enough to desire peace or create agencies and mechanisms to try to implement it, it's necessary to eradicate the causes conspiring against it, says Cuba's Deputy Permanent Representative, Oscar Leon, speaking at an open debate of the UN Security Council on peacekeeping.
Leon defends the urgency of coordinated efforts by the international community to overcome the dangers posed by hegemonic and imperialist domination, acts of aggression, the plundering of natural resources and colonial and neo- colonial strategies.
"We must also replace the current unjust and exclusive international order, and find ways to drop unequal exchange, discrimination, xenophobia, interventionism and violations of the right to self-determination",he says.
Regarding social issues, Leon states that conflict prevention must also involve the elimination of poverty, unemployment, hunger and inequality.
During the debate entitled Maintaining International Peace and Security, Cuba reiterates the importance of respecting the principles of the UN Charter and international law, which stipulate the sovereign equality of states, peaceful settlement of disputes and non use of force.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel joined some European authorities, putting her weight behind anti-government, pro-EU protesters in Ukraine, irrespective of calls for outsiders not to intervene.
"They are fighting for the same values that guide the European Union, and that is why they must be listened to," Merkel said.
"We support, with all the means at our disposal, efforts for a peaceful solution of the conflict and the justified demands of the opposition," she said.
Merkel’s speech supporting the opposition came straight after Russian President Putin called on outsiders not to interfere in Ukraine's internal affairs.
EGYPT WANTS "JUSTICE" TO BE SEEN
An Egyptian criminal court has decided to again delay the trial of ousted President Mohamed Morsi and 130 others, state television reports.
Top lawyer to MPs: GCHQ mass surveillance largely illegal
A substantial part of GCHQ’s dragnet snooping program is most likely illegal and was approved by government ministers despite breaching human rights and surveillance laws, a legal analysis requested by British MPs has found, The Guardian reports.
In a 32-page opinion, leading public law barrister Jemima Stratford QC warns that the UK's primary surveillance law is vague to the point of allowing intelligence agencies to ignore privacy safeguards laid out by the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).
The advice cited by The Guardian, says that the murkiness of UK law has created a situation where GCHQ staff are able to rely on “gaps in the current statutory framework to commit serious crime with impunity."
The paper explicitly warns that GCHQ staff who passed on intelligence which was later used in the commission of a US drone strike against “non-combatants” could face dire consequences.
"An individual involved in passing that information is likely to be an accessory to murder. It is well arguable, on a variety of different bases, that the government is obliged to take reasonable steps to investigate that possibility," The Guardian cites the advice as saying.
The opinion also suggests that the UK might well consider publishing a Memorandum of Understanding with any country it shares intelligence with, which could clarify what the data is used for under UK law, and outline how the data would be stored & destroyed.
All 46 members of the all-party parliamentary group on drones, chaired by Labour MP Tom Watson, were sent the legal advice.
The cross-party parliamentary group reportedly sought the legal advice after receiving reports that the CIA relied on NSA surveillance to conduct the CIA’s clandestine drone program.
The advice, based on five hypothetical scenarios, found multiple areas in which the GCHQ had legally overstepped its bounds under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA) which establishes the powers of public bodies to carry out surveillance and investigation.
- GCHQ is not allowed to intercept “internal” contents data between two British residents under RIPA, even if the data is routed via a transatlantic cable;
- GCHQ can intercept metadata and “external” contents data under RIPA, although this is considered a disproportionate interference with Article 8 of the ECHR;
- The executive has retained a largely unrestrained discretion to permit the transfer of UK data to the NSA under RIPA;
- RIPA does not place any restriction on the uses to which intercept material might be put, other than its admissibility in court;
- The current framework for the retention, use and destruction of metadata is inadequate and potentially unlawful.
- The government has an obligation to investigate & prevent UK agents, visiting forces and visiting agents, becoming “accidental” accessories to murder under domestic law, if data or facilities are knowingly given to the US, even though it will be used in a drone strike that is most likely unlawful under UK law;
The advice also noted that RIPA has been left behind as advances in technology have rendered virtually meaningless the difference between “contents” and “communications” data.
It says RIPA gives “too wide a discretion" to UK Foreign Secretary William Hague, and "provides almost no meaningful restraint on the exercise of executive discretion in respect of external communications."
Such surveillance may also be a breach of the ECHR, it adds.
"We consider the mass interception of external contents and communications data is unlawful. The indiscriminate interception of data, solely by reference to the request of the executive, is a disproportionate interference with the private life of the individuals concerned."
In June 2013, media reports using thousands of documents leaked by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden extensively detailed the surveillance activities of GCHQ and its larger US counterpart, the NSA.
One of the key revelations focused on Operation Tempora, a GCHQ program that mines vast amounts of information by tapping into undersea cables that carry internet and phone traffic passing in and out of the UK.
GCHQ and Hague, have repeatedly insisted the agency acts in accordance with the law.
Last year, Hague told MPs: "It has been suggested GCHQ uses our partnership with the US to get around UK law, obtaining information that they cannot legally obtain in the UK. I wish to be absolutely clear that this accusation is baseless."
GCHQ also maintains all its work is "carried out in accordance with a strict legal and policy framework which ensures that our activities are authorized, necessary and proportionate, and that there is rigorous oversight, including from the secretary of state, the interception and intelligence Services commissioners and the parliamentary intelligence and security committee."
Last week, however, the ECHR ordered UK ministers to provide submissions on mass GCHQ’s surveillance programs to determine whether they had violated the European convention on human rights.
Meanwhile, as GCHQ chief Iain Lobban announces he will step down by year’s end, the Foreign Office officially denies that his departure was linked to public anger over the Snowden revelations.
UN chief hails new gov't in Central African Republic
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomes the establishment of a new government in the CAR, saying this "offers a fresh opportunity to move the political process forward" in the war-torn country.
Ban congratulates interim President Catherine Samba-Panza and PM Andre Nzapayeke for their efforts to put the transition back on track, says a statement issued by Ban's spokesperson.
The CAR put in a caretaker government Monday in a bid to pull the country out of its crisis and organize general elections by February 2015.
The secretary-general, currently in Cuba for a CELAC summit, repeats the readiness of the UN to support CAR transitional authorities in their efforts to ensure the security and the welfare of the people, the statement says.
Ban says he "remains deeply concerned about the ongoing sectarian violence in the country and the humanitarian crisis that affects over half of the population."
"He calls for determined national and international efforts to stop the violence & overcome the crisis," adds the statement.
"The secretary-general reiterates the importance of ensuring the success of the African-led International Support Mission to the Central African Republic (MISCA), which is playing a critical role in providing security on the ground," the statement says.
"He appeals once again to all those in a position to do so, to provide financial and in-kind assistance to MISCA and to announce their contributions at the MISCA donor conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on 1 February," it adds.
The secretary-general appreciates the timely adoption of a new Security Council resolution on the CAR which reinforces the mandate of the UN peace-building mission in the country.
BINUCA provides for sanctions on individuals involved in violations of human rights and of the arms embargo, and authorizes the EU's troop deployment to the country, the statement says.
"The Council's sustained engagement will be crucial to the efforts of the United Nations to restore peace and stability in the country," it says.
Ethnic tensions in the north of the CAR and the presence of the Lord's Resistance Army, an armed group known for its brutal tactics, have added to instability, which has crippled the country for decades and driven people away from their homes.
The United Nations has been supporting the CAR for over a decade. Efforts on the ground are led by the BINUCA, a field office of the UN Department of Political Affairs.
The BINUCA operates under a mandate from the Security Council to help consolidate peace, foster national reconciliation, and strengthen democratic institutions, as well as strengthening the promotion and protection of human rights.
Plagued by decades of instability and fighting, the CAR witnessed a resurgence of violence last December when Seleka rebels launched a series of attacks, culminating in March when then President Francois Bozize was forced to flee the city as they seized control of the capital.
A transitional government, headed by PM Nicolas Tiangaye, was entrusted with restoring law and order, and paving the way for democratic elections.
On January 10th, 2013, the interim President Michel Djotodia resigned... as did Tiangaye.
Armed clashes in the northeast part of the country having increased since August 2013, the CAR now faces a dire humanitarian situation, affecting some 4.6 million people.
In early December, the UN Security Council authorized the deployment of French and African troops to restore order in Bangui.
SERBIA DISSOLVES PARLIAMENT
New elections are to take place "soon".
2014 will see Gitmo close, says Obama
US President Obama vowed Tuesday night in his State of the Union address, to use all his executive powers to push his agenda, if Congress doesn’t agree with his priorities.
In his address before a joint session of Congress with millions of Americans watching on television, Obama put urgency behind his pledge to close the Guantanamo Bay prison, saying:
“With the Afghan war ending, this needs to be the year Congress lifts the remaining restrictions on detainee transfers and we close the prison at Guantanamo Bay.”
Israeli Occupiers Arrest Dozens of Palestinians in West Bank
Israeli troops arrested, early this morning, in West Bank cities, 22 men accused of terrorist activities, and the government spokesperson refrained from identifying them.
The troops, reinforced by gun vehicles, burst into civilian homes in Au Dis, al Eirariya, E. Jerusalem, Beita and Urif, Hani Halabiyyah, spokesperson of the Youth Movement in occupied Jerusalem, tells the press.
Various houses were invaded by troops that, before entering, shot tear grenades at will, say witnesses.
After the raids, during which there were clashes with the local population, soldiers pasted fliers to the walls with photos of detainees and their families, warning them of reprisals that will affect their lives.
The method was abundantly used by Nazi troops in the cities they occupied during World War II, like public executions, to terrify the populations, she recalls.
PEACE DEADLINE APPROACHES FOR ISRAEL
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is failing to keep his government in order, as US Secretary of State John Kerry pushes the peace negotiations.
Over the past few days Netanyahu has been accused by Justice Minister and peace talks chief negotiator Tzipi Livni, of not negotiating with the Palestinians in good faith.
Livni claims that Netanyahu is only conducting the negotiations to expose Palestinians as the rejecters of peace.
Naftali Bennet, chair of the powerful right-wing HaBayit HaYehudi (The Jewish Home) party, is now publicly criticizing Netanyahu's proposal, which calls for Jewish settlers to become citizens of a future Palestinian state, instead of being relocated.
Netanyahu, most experts argue, has basically been trying to buy time, as much as possible. But now, because of Kerry's efforts, he is at the point where he has to give clear answers.
If the Palestinians say yes, even conditionally, Netanyahu will have to declare his own position and then he might lose his coalition and have to form a new one, or go to elections.
Kerry is expected to present a framework for a final peace deal within a couple of weeks.
When he announced last year that negotiations were to be resumed, a nine-month timeframe was outlined that is scheduled to end in March.
'Gitmo' must close during Obama's term - Russian Foreign Ministry
Guantanamo Bay detention facility should be closed down before President Barack Obama leaves power, insists Russia’s Foreign Ministry.
A Russian delegation that recently inspected the facility, saw grave violations of basic human rights.
“Our visit to Guantanamo has convinced us all over again that this so-called prison must be shut down at the earliest possible time,” says the Russian Foreign Ministry's Commissioner for Human Rights, Konstantin Dolgov, at a media briefing.
“It is an installation where fundamental human rights are brazenly violated,” he says.
According to Dolgov, the 155 inmates currently imprisoned in Guantanamo, are denied fair justice.
“We have a resolute desire to shut this prison down before President Obama leaves office,” says Dolgov, and calls on the US authorities to “redouble efforts” to make this come true.
On January 17th, a delegation of high-ranking Russian diplomats and representatives of the judicial system was allowed to into Guantanamo Bay prison, in an unprecedented move by the US.
It took 3 years of negotiations between Russian and US diplomats, before this historic visit could take place.
The Russian visitors toured the facility and spoke to the commanders of the detention centre, along with senior representatives of the US Defense Dept.
The delegation was allowed to talk to the only Russian citizen in Guantanamo, Ravil Mingazov - arrested in Pakistan in 2002. He has been detained in 'Gitmo' prison for over a decade, without charge.
The delegation’s basic aim was to ensure Mingazov’s earliest possible release, and there is a good chance that US authorities will review Mingazov’s case soon.
“We will continue our contacts with the US administration on that issue,” promises the Commissioner for Human Rights, adding that Russia “would welcome it if all Guantanamo prisoners were freed along with the Russian citizen (Mingazov).”
Konstantin Dolgov told journalists that the Obama administration is “firmly resolved” to shut down the Guantanamo detention facility and “turn over this page of American history.”
In 2013 the Obama administration was forced to re-focus its attention on Guantanamo Bay prison after a majority of detainees went on hunger strike.
At its peak in July last year, 106 of the then 166 detainees were on hunger strike, with 45 of them being force-fed.
The hunger strike sparked a worldwide debate on the future of Guantanamo, pushing the US Obama administration to find a solution to this humiliating judicial "entanglement".
Raúl Castro Highlights Optimism and Confidence in Cuba's Socialist Future
Cuban president Raúl Castro says the container terminal at Mariel Port, and the infrastructure accompanying it, are a concrete example of the optimism and confidence with which Cubans see a socialist and prosperous future.
Together with Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff, the Cuban leader cut the ribbon and officially inaugurated the first section covering 700 km.
The president stressed the importance of the opening of the container terminal on National Hero José Martí's anniversary and in the context ofthe Second Summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC).
The Cuban president thanked all designers, builders, investors, national & international operators, who concluded an arduous task to finish the terminal, which is now part of the Cuban and Latin American port system.
He also recalled the important funding on advantageous terms provided by Brazil during President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva's administration.
On behalf of all Cubans, he thanked President Rousseff for her country's solidarity and aid, on such a significant project for the Cuban and Latin American economy.
He highlighted that Mariel container terminal will be operated by one of the world's largest port operators, bringing the expectation that efficiency, security and quality services, will be guaranteed.
He said Mariel Special Development Zone will become the main gateway for Cuba's foreign trade, and a chance to drive the nation's economy with its aim to replace imports, raise exports, create jobs and gain access to cutting-edge technology.
Other regional leaders in Cuba for CELAC, also attended the inauguration.
UKRAINE RESCUERS Invoked Geneva Convention after Attacks
Ukraine's State Service for Exceptional Situations invoked the Geneva Convention of 1949 - on the need to safeguard civilians - after attacks by anti-government extremists on public servants.
"We call for the work of firefighters and other forces to not be hindered, including that of physicians and members of religious sects that are working to put out fires and save lives endangered in the middle of a conflict that began in Kiev, but has already spread to other regions," said their communique.
"Such negative actions by radical protesters are criminal and have already caused seven injuries to first-responders in recent days," said the communique sent to the media.
The statement called on those participating in the clashes to act with responsibility and avoid using direct fire in places where large numbers of people were gathered.
Vitali Zajarchenko, then Minister of the Interior, said in a statement on the ministry's website, that radical demonstrators had stored large amounts of a liquid with properties similar to napalm.
Hundreds of police officers were injured in the Maidan riots in Kiev ... 118 of them hospitalized, with head injuries, fractures, burns, stab wounds and poisoning by unidentified substances.
SURPRISE, SURPRISE !
Egypt’s military officials have approved the army chief, Field Marshal Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, as a candidate to run for president later this year, state media says.
The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) met for several hours on Monday to discuss the country’s security situation, and Sisi’s nomination for the presidency.
"The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, by consensus mandated the defense minister to stand in presidential elections,” the state media news agency says.
The statement came just hours after Egypt’s interim President Adly Mansour promoted Sisi to Marshal - the military’s highest rank.
Shortly after the announcement, Egypt’s deputy Prime Minister Ziad Bahaa El-Din resigned from his post in protest against Sisi’s candidacy.
Experts say Sissi may sweep the vote due to a lack of alternatives, as well as full support from Egypt's media including the lack of any criticism of the general allowed in the country.
Tens of thousands of MB activists and their supporters staged nationwide demonstrations on Saturday to mark the anniversary of the 2011 revolution that toppled former dictator Hosni Mubarak.
They demand Morsi’s reinstatement now, and the release of Muslim Brotherhood members arrested by police.
Mikdad: Assad to Remain President Until Syrian People Say Otherwise
Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mikdad stresses that only the Syrian people can decide President Bashar al-Assad's future.
During a press conference on the sidelines of the Geneva II conference on Syria, Mikdad says Assad will remain president unless the people decide otherwise at the next election.
"The president of the Syrian Arab Republic stays until the Syrian people says something else," he says, stating the government position that Assad can stay and win another election.
"This is a red line. If some people think we are coming here to give them the keys of Damascus, they are wrong," he adds.
Mikdad also says that those seeking to demonize the Syrian government have misled the international media.
The Syrian official says international public opinion and the world's media have been misguided in every possible way since unrest broke out almost 3 years ago.
He says the government delegation has a sincere desire to resolve the Syrian crisis and end the bloodshed there.
Meanwhile, a main highway has been retaken from terrorists and dozens of families return to their houses in Barzeh neighborhood in Damascus after accomplishing national reconciliation.
The families had run away leaving their houses in Barzeh neighborhood after acts by armed terrorists.
The families re-entered their houses after the authorities in Damascus province restored all services and repaired the infrastructure.
SISI MOVES TO COMPLETE ARMY COUP
Sisi is "promoted" to Marshal Sisi - by the President he appointed.
Egypt will hold presidential elections before any parliamentary polls, the interim President, Adly Mansour, also announces, on Sunday.
The decision runs contrary to a roadmap imposed by the Egyptian Army, after it deposed Egypt's first democratically elected President, Mohamed Morsi, in July, 2013, after mass protests.
According to Egypt’s new constitution, a presidential vote is to be held before the second half of April this year.
West complicit in Egypt’s mass murder
The Egyptian Health Ministry says over 50 people have been killed and 100s injured in the country in clashes between security forces, opponents and supporters of ousted President Mohamed Morsi.
On Saturday, tens of thousands of Muslim Brotherhood activists and their supporters staged nationwide demonstrations to mark the anniversary of the 2011 revolution that toppled former dictator Hosni Mubarak.
The demonstrators want Morsi’s reinstatement and demanded that Brotherhood activists be released after being arrested by police. They chanted slogans against army chief, General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.
Clashes between protesters and security forces broke out in several cities. Police used violent force against demonstrators.
A number of pro-coup protesters also attacked Morsi’s supporters with stones and bullets.
Deaths were reported in the cities of Cairo, Alexandria, Giza and Minya. Most fatalities occurred in the capital and its suburbs.
At least 300 protesters were reportedly arrested across the nation.
Egypt has been experiencing unrelenting violence since July 3, when the army toppled Morsi’s government, suspended the constitution, and dissolved the parliament. It also appointed the head of the Supreme Constitutional Court, Adly Mahmoud Mansour, as an interim president.
The interim government has launched a bloody crackdown on Morsi’s supporters and arrested thousands of Brotherhood members, including the party’s senior leaders.
Egyptian universities have also been the scene of violent clashes, with students calling for the reinstatement of Morsi and demanding an end to the crackdown on Brotherhood supporters.
On December 25th, the military-appointed government listed the MB as a “terrorist” organization over alleged involvement in a deadly bombing, without investigating the case, or providing any evidence.
Amnesty International has criticized the Egyptian authorities for using an “unprecedented scale” of violence on protesters and dealing “a series of damaging blows to human rights.”
According to the UK-based rights group, 1,400 people have been killed in political violence since Morsi’s ouster, "most of them due to excessive force used by security forces."
US' THREAT OF FORCE ON IRAN "ILLEGAL, BREAKS UN CHARTER, AND WILL SPEED US COLLAPSE"
A senior Iranian military commander has dismissed US Sec. of State John Kerry’s latest threat of military action against Iran over its nuclear program.
The commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Major General Mohammad Ali Ja’fari, said on Saturday that the US MUST NEVER underestimate Iran's capacity to deal with a US invasion.
Iran's response would be "swift and stunning."
He added: “Mr. Kerry must know that direct battle with the US is the biggest dream of pious, revolutionary people across the world.
"Your threats offer our revolutionary people the best opportunity,” said Ja’fari.
He added that “wise politicians” in the US are unlikely to let the “ridiculous military option” remain on the table.
Ja’fari advised Kerry to stop repeating “bankrupt strategies like the use of military power” in order to avoid an accelerated collapse of US civilization.
UK WAKING UP TO US USING "RAF" BASES! UK lawmakers want stricter scrutiny of US military bases in the UK, which are believed to be used for mass spying and drone 'kills'.
Draft legislation has been tabled by the UK’s 3 major parties, that requires the government to review the rules under which the US bases operate.
“These amendments are designed to enable light to be shone on an area causing increasing public concern.
They will enable proper scrutiny in Parliament so ministers responsible can decide whether steps should be taken to review laws and agreements which appear increasingly outdated,” Lord Hodgson, Conservative lawmaker, tells The Independent.
The growing calls for tougher rules come in the wake of leaks that some US bases in the UK were used to funnel information gained by spying on Europe, back to the US.
The UK government itself is also accused of complicity in the US drone operations and the US spying on European nations.
Last year, The Independent disclosed that Royal Air Force Station (RAF) Croughton - the US Air Force base and CIA relay station in Northamptonshire - was utilized to transfer information gained by monitoring German Chancellor Angela Merkel's 'phone.
The UK's Defense Ministry, which is tightening security around RAF Croughton, has denied the role of US bases in the UK, in US drone strikes.
The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, a UK- based non-profit news organization, says over 2,400 people have been killed in US drone attacks in the last five years.
US whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed that RAF Croughton is used as a part of the Special Collection Service, the network of embassy-based listening stations.
“It is a scandal that there is so little oversight by the British government of potentially criminal activities taking place on our own soil,” says Kat Craig, legal director of campaigning group Reprieve.
ZIONIST REGIME WANTS TO PULL DOWN AL AQSA MOSQUE
An Israeli official says the Tel Aviv regime is considering replacing the al-Aqsa Mosque in al-Quds (Jerusalem) with a temple.
Minister of Housing and Construction Uri Ariel on Friday called for the construction of what he called "the Third Temple" to replace the holy site.
Ariel said the first and second temples were destroyed many years ago, so a third one needs to be built now.
“Al-Aqsa Mosque is currently in the place of the temple,” he claimed.
Al-Aqsa Mosque is considered to be the third holiest site in the Muslim world.
Palestinians denounce the plan as desecration.
They say it is part of the Israeli regime’s ongoing attempts to distort all Arab and Islamic history.
Palestinians argue that al-Quds is the capital of a future Palestinian independent state, and that its heritage should remain intact.
NEW YORK MAYOR OWNED BY ISRAEL
The new mayor of New York City has told members of the American-Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) that part of his “job description is to be a defender of Israel.”
Bill de Blasio, who took office on January 1st, made the remarks in an unannounced speech at an AIPAC gathering on Thursday, The New York Times reports.
According to the Times, reporters were denied attendance and even a reporter who tried to attend the gathering was escorted away by security guards.
Blasio, who faced sharp criticism from reporters, has said that the organizers of the event did not want any journalists to attend the gathering.
AIPAC is the most powerful pro-Israel lobby group in the US that has recently intensified its anti-Iran efforts on Capitol Hill in order to convince US senators to co-sponsor a new sanctions bill against Iran.
The bill was introduced by Sen. Bob Menendez (D-New Jersey) and Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Illinois) in mid December but is unlikely to ever get a vote on the Senate floor because key members of the Senate Democratic leadership oppose it.
US President Barack Obama has already said that he would veto the legislation which, says congress.gov, has 58 co-sponsors.
However, AIPAC, which wants to sabotage diplomatic efforts to resolve the West’s ten-year-old dispute with Iran over its nuclear energy program, is attempting an “open revolt against the White House’s Iran diplomacy,” according to Foreign Policy’s The Cable.
AIPAC even attacked a pro-Israel Jewish Democrat in the House of Representatives, Florida congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, for being silent over the new anti- Iran legislation.
According to The Cable, the AIPAC’s attack on Schultz “raised eyebrows among some current and former AIPAC officials.”
KARZAI TO US - BRING PEACE OR GET OUT
Addressing a press conference in Kabul, Saturday, Afghan President Hamid Karzai says he won't sign a bilateral security deal with the US, if Washington does not guarantee peace in Afghanistan.
He says signing the deal will have no positive outcome if peace and security aren't guaranteed.
"If the US is not willing to accept our conditions on the BSA (so-called Bilateral Security Agreement) they can leave anytime - and Afghanistan will do without foreigners," he says.
Karzai lambasts the US for pursuing wrong policies in its so-called fight against terrorism.
The Afghan president says it will be intolerable for Afghans if innocent people are killed even after the security agreement is signed.
The Afghan president warns that pressure or psychological warfare will not make him sign.
Karzai has previously accused the US of not providing the country with military supplies, in its attempts to pressure him to sign.
Karzai condemns the US military detentions in Afghanistan, describing the notorious prison at the Bagram Airbase in eastern Afghanistan as a 'Taliban-making factory'.
The Afghan president says inmates at Bagram have been insulted and tortured by US forces.
NATO Sec-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen has urged the Afghan government to sign the BSA with the US - as a matter of "urgency".
The deal allows the US to keep thousands of its troops after the 2014 withdrawal date.
Afghan activists say the security treaty will pave the way for a prolonged US military presence in the war-ravaged country.
Afghan political figures have also heaped scorn on US-led forces, for committing unforgivable crimes against Afghan women and children, since illegally invading the country in 2001.
IRAN: FORCE IN SYRIA MUST BE NO OPTION
Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has urged the withdrawal of all foreign-backed militants from Syria, saying the Syrian people should be allowed to determine their own destiny without foreign interference.
“I ask all foreign forces to withdraw, to allow the Syrian people to decide their own future,” Zarif told a panel discussion held on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, on Friday.
Foreign forces should stop funding and supplying weapons to militants in Syria, said the top Iranian diplomat.
He also stated that any military option to end Syria's crisis should be off the table.
Zarif dismissed claims by US Secretary of State John Kerry, who had accused Syrian President Bashar al-Assad of preparing the ground for terrorists to enter the country.
"Extremism is a product of foreign intervention and the product of short-sightedness. Those who created the Taliban [in Afghanistan] ended up paying with their blood for what they created.
The flames created in our region will engulf everybody," Zarif said.
He emphasized that those who are calling on President Assad to go, are responsible for the crisis in the Middle East region, which has caused innumerable deaths.
Earlier, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani told Swiss TV station RTS on the sidelines of the WEF that the fate of Syria needs to be determined solely by the Syrian people, rejecting any foreign interference in the future of the Arab country.
“I believe that only Syrian people are allowed to decide and nobody else can pass a judgment on the future of Syria,” President Rouhani said.
“Decision-making is for the Syrian people to do and they are the ones who should determine their own future, and, in doing so, the first condition is that bloodshed be stopped... and certain countries give up supporting terrorism,” the Iranian president added.
Syria has been gripped by a deadly crisis since 2011. According to reports, Western powers and their regional allies - especially Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey - are supporting the militants inside the country.
The UN says more than four million Syrians will be forced out of their homes in 2014 by the escalating conflict in the country, that has killed more than 100,000 people and displaced millions, so far.
AFGHAN SUPPLY LINE STILL BLOCKED
Supporters of the Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Party, which controls the northwestern province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in Pakistan, continue to block a supply route for US-led NATO forces stationed in neighboring Afghanistan, Press TV reports.
The PTI activists, who are against the deadly US drone strikes in Pakistan, have blocked one of the main NATO routes on the outskirts of the province’s capital, Peshawar, since Nov 2013.
Protesters spend days and nights stopping all travelling lorries and checking them to ensure they are not carrying supplies for US-led forces in Afghanistan, before clearing them to pass through the province.
The continuation of the blockage comes as the protesters and their leaders in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, have been under intense pressure from the EU and Washington, as well as the Pakistani government, to open the supply line.
The blockade is disrupting the withdrawal of heavy equipment of US-led forces from Afghanistan. Analysts say if this continues, Washington might have to leave much of its heavy military equipment, in Afghanistan.
PTI members say US drones have killed thousands of innocent civilians and left their families in endless mental trauma.
Jameel Abbasi, one of the PTI leaders, told Press TV's correspondent in Pakistan, that the route will remain cut off until the US stops its drone attacks.
The government of Pakistan insists that it is making an all-out effort to stop the strikes.
Washington says the CIA-run drone strikes primarily kill Taliban militants who threaten US-led forces in Afghanistan; however, the figures show that Pakistani civilians are more often the victims of the non- UN-sanctioned attacks.
The slaughter of Pakistani civilians, including women and children, in US drone strikes, has strained relations between Islamabad and Washington, and Pakistani officials have complained to the US administration on numerous occasions.
In September 2012, a report by Stanford Law School and the New York University School of Law gave an alarming account of the effect that killer drone strikes have on ordinary people in Pakistan’s tribal areas.
“The number of ‘high-level’ targets killed as a percentage of total casualties is extremely low -- estimated at just two percent,” the report noted.
The UN says US-operated drone strikes in Pakistan and some other countries, pose a growing challenge to the rule of international law.
SYRIA BEATING TERROR
The first passenger plane has landed at Aleppo International Airport, after the army restored stability and security to the surrounding areas.
Works to reverse the damage caused by terrorists' attacks were also carried out.
OVER 2,000 POUNDS FOR ARREST ATTEMPT ON BLAIR
Despite failing to arrest Tony Blair for ‘crimes against peace’ last Friday, the London barperson who attempted the citizen’s arrest on Blair, is awarded a quarter of the bounty on Blair's head, for keeping the issue of double standards alive in the media.
The award should come in handy, now that Twiggy Garcia, London DJ-turned-barperson, has quit his job.
Website Arrestblair.org, creator, George Monbiot, says Garcia rose to the challenge and deserves the money even for a failed attempt, as it still serves to keep the issue of the former UK PM’s alleged war crimes alive, while criminals from ‘weaker nations’ get prosecuted all the time, for lesser crimes.
FARC-EP Denounces Killing of Patriotic March Activists
The FARC-EP denounces today the Colombian Government''s extermination of political activists of Marcha Patriotica (the Patriotic March) movement and considers such actions to be a negative sign within the context of peace talks.
"For the peace process to avoid ending up being a farce or a comedy, or simply empty words about the expansion of democracy, it is urgent that the Government stops its vicious crusade against Patriotic March," says the insurgent delegation that has been participating in peace talks with the Colombian Executive for 14 months.
"We are speaking with unease from Havana, where we have signed a partial agreement with the Government of Juan Manuel Santos to expand democracy & political participation in Colombia," say the guerrillas.
The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia People's Army (FARC-EP) considers such killings as a denial of agreed-upon political participation, a disregard for the duties of the State, and an extremely bad sign that continues to undermine confidence in the word of the Government.
"We cannot tolerate that, amid a peace process, the Patriotic March movement should be systematically annihilated, as occurred with the Patriotic Union," the guerrillas say, recalling the state genocide in the middle of the 1980s.
"There is a vital need in Colombia to destroy the national Security Doctrine, the concept of an internal enemy and of paramilitarism, as factors that foster State terrorism," the guerrillas say.
"It is necessary to start implementing what has been agreed, for the peace process to avoid becoming just empty words.
It is the State's duty to protect citizens' lives and guarantee the right to political choice in Colombia," they say.
The Geneva ll conference on Syria was shadowed by clashes and accusations.
Bashar Jaafari, Permanent Representative of Syria to the UN, told journalists he was disappointed at the format of the ministerial meeting. Most of the 40 participants were "anti-Syria delegations", and their speeches bore "provocative and repetitive statements based on hatred towards the Syrian government", he said.
A preliminary list disclosed less than 30 countries attending the Geneva II conference, apart from organizations. "They added 10 more countries, but excluded Iran," Jaafari said.
He slashed the meeting as failing to encourage national political dialogue, and as "counter- productive, not positive at all". "We need hope to put an end to terrorism," he said.
Earlier at the meeting, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem urged the international community to "stop supporting armed opposition" in Syria, noting that some countries at the conference have "Syrian blood on their hands".
He spoke of the atrocities of the extremists, and accused those who, under the cover of revolution, try to fan tension in the nation.
The speech was followed by Ahmed Jarba, head of the Syrian National Coalition, the country's opposition bloc: "Mass killings continue in Syria. Can one stand? This is not our choice to bear arms," he said.
But the focus of disputes between the two sides was the role of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Muallem said upon his arrival in Geneva that the subject of the status of the president is a "red-line" and cannot be touched.
"Nobody in this world has the right to withdraw the legitimacy of a president or government - other than the Syrians themselves," he said.
John Kerry, US Secretary of State said the President has lost legitimacy and "You can not save Syria as long as Assad remains" he told media at the press conference.
But many participants spoke of the positive sign that - for the first time in three years - the warring sides agreed to sit down and talk.
"It is not easy to sit around the table after so much bloodshed and destruction," said Ban who chaired the conference's first day.
"Almost everyone with a means to influence the cause of this country was in the same room, under the auspices of the United Nations. That moment is historic," he said.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov urged participants to "do everything to help the Syrian government and the opposition to pool efforts with the objective of eradicating terrorism".
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said that the path of peace talks between the different parties from Syria is bound to be tortuous, with twists and turns, therefore confidence, patience and persistence are needed to find a middle way.
The Syrian government also expresses good will. "We hope to reach an agreement with the opposition," said Syrian Information Minister Omran al-Zohbi, although he said it would not be easy "to produce a solution - the political process needs time."
Another step will be taken on Friday, when the two Syrian parties will engage in talks chaired by the joint special envoy of the UN and the Arab League chief, Lakhdar Brahimi, which is a more difficult task.
Brahimi says he is going to meet both parties separately today to see if they should go straight to meetings or keep talking separately.
"We have a road-map in the communique," he says, hoping the schedule on Friday won't change.
EYES ON THE PRIZE
While the world's media focuses on Ban Ki Moon's treatment of the Iranians and his interuption of the Syrian foreign minister's speech, plus the "bought and paid for" nature of the terrorists' leaders... others come intending peace:
South Africa remains steadfast in its belief that there can be no military solution to the conflict in Syria, the government says.
"South Africa believes that democracy is an unassailable right of the Syrian people," the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) said in a statement.
The South African government is committed to encouraging all parties involved in the current conflict in Syria to engage in a process of all- inclusive national dialogue, free of any form of violence, intimidation or outside interference aimed at government change, in order to satisfy the legitimate democratic aspirations of the Syrian people, said the statement.
Geneva ll is a welcome step in the right direction toward bringing an end to the suffering of the Syrian people, said Clayson Monyela, spokesperson for DIRCO.
"South Africa believes it is essential that a political path be supported by a united, cohesive international effort towards a Syrian-led, negotiated political transition aimed at establishing a democratic and pluralistic society in which minorities are protected," Monyela said.
"The situation in Syria is evolving into one of the worst humanitarian disasters in recent times, with severe political and economic consequences for the entire region."
The South African government welcomes the opportunity to participate in the Geneva II Conference, which is long-overdue, he said.
GENEVA ll GLASS HALF FULL?
Both the Syrian government and opposition are embarking on dialogue for the first time since the eruption of conflict in Syria three years ago.
"The success chances are high... we could either see full success of the conference or half success," Hmaidi Abdullah, political expert, tells Xinhua.
He says there are 3 issues: the first is the military situation on the ground, the second is the humanitarian file, and the third is the formation of a transitional government.
Abdullah says the recent proposal of Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem about a ceasefire in Aleppo and a possible prisoner swap is an indicator that a halt to military operations is possible, if the rebels commit to a ceasefire.
Abdullah says such a proposal is welcomed by the superpowers, which means a solution for the ongoing battles could be within reach.
Abdullah says that, following the government's acceptance to allow in relief aid to a number of besieged areas in Syria, the humanitarian issue is also looking less intractable.
He says aid convoys are entering besieged areas in Syria, and negotiations are underway between government and local communities in those areas seeking a solution, marking the beginning of real reconciliation on the ground in some areas.
Syrian state media has recently been reporting the surrender of tens of armed rebels in some hotspots of Damascus as part of deals reached with the Syrian officials.
On the third file in the Geneva II conference, Abdulla says a transitional government will be discussed and now there are two options:
"An agreement to form the transitional government will be reached, and in this case we can say that the Geneva II conference has 100% succeeded, or it will not reach an agreement about government and in this case we can say that the conference succeeded 50%, since at least the humanitarian and military files would probably be solved."
NO HIDING PLACE FOR WAR CRIMINALS
A barman in London makes an attempt to arrest former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair.
Twiggy Garcia, who works at the Tramshed restaurant in East London, noticed the former prime minister eating with friends and family at the restaurant on Friday night.
“My heart rate increased when I found out he was in the building; there was an eerie presence, which some of the other staff noticed too. It wasn’t like any other night. I couldn’t believe he was there.
His security were sitting at the bar directly in front of me and I got nervous because I thought they overheard me say, ‘Should I citizen’s arrest him?’,” Garcia told the monthly Vice Magazine.
He went over to Blair’s table and told him that he was responsible for the illegal war in Iraq and the mass murder of Iraqi civilians.
“I went over to him, put my hand on his shoulder and said, ‘Mr. Blair, this is a citizen’s arrest for a crime against peace, namely your decision to launch an unprovoked war against Iraq. I am inviting you to accompany me to a police station to answer the charge’,” he said.
Blair repeatedly changed the subject, he added.
Garcia decided to end the conversation when “one of his (Blair’s) sons got up and went to get plain-clothes security from downstairs.”
As the fifth UK citizen who has tried to arrest Tony Blair for war crimes, Garcia said his goal was to remind people that the former premier is a war criminal.
Tony Blair is accused of lying to the public about Iraq’s potential threat, knowing that former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein had no weapons of mass destruction.
BAN KI MOON BOWS TO ZIONISTS...
US seeking to form puppet gov’t in Syria
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon reversed his invitation to Iran to participate in Geneva ll - after pressure from the US.
The US, UK, Saudi Arabia and the foreign- backed Syrian opposition, were all strongly opposed to Iran’s participation in the event.
The US said the UN must rescind its invitation - unless Tehran publicly backs the 2012 road- map to establish a transitional government in Syria. The Western sponsored so-called Syrian National Council, threatened to boycott the Geneva II conference entirely.
Russia's Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, says the talks resemble “hypocrisy”, without Iran's participation.
"Among the countries also invited were Australia, Mexico, the Republic of Korea, South Africa, Japan, Brazil, India, Indonesia, and many others.
So if there is no Iran in this list… I think the peace talks resemble hypocrisy," Lavrov said.
He stressed that Iran is one of the countries with a direct interest in a settlement of the Syrian crisis “without any more damage to the stability of this most important region of the world."
Iran's Foreign Ministry Spokesperson, Marzieh Afkham, said Iran would participate in the talks without accepting any preconditions.
“We accept no precondition for participating in the Geneva II [conference] and, based on the official invitation [we received], Iran will take part in the conference without [any] preconditions,” she stated.
Syria has been in deadly crisis since 2011. According to reports, the Western powers and their regional allies -- especially Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey -- are supporting armed gangs operating inside the country.
Iran --- Ban's decision "regrettable":
"Unfortunately, Ban Ki-moon came under pressure after the announcement of the invitation to Iran," Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said.
He added that the UN chief "rescinded the invitation as a result of the pressure exercised on him."
Ban's "lack of courage to state the reason for the rescinding of the invitation of Iran to participate in Geneva II, is more regrettable than the [act of] rescinding the very invite."
"We said from the start, that we accept no precondition for Iran's presence at the Geneva II meeting, since Iran has an important role in this region and they cannot ignore this role," says the top Iranian diplomat.
But they did. And put the whole world straight back on course for war.
Even before this, Iran's ambassador to the UN, Mohammad Khazaee, expressed his doubts that the Geneva 2 conference could settle the conflict in Syria.
“I’m not very optimistic that the Geneva 2 conference might solve anything in Syria,” the diplomat told Itar-Tass.
Moscow insisted on Iran’s participation and said not inviting the republic will be “an unforgivable mistake.”
“Those who question such a need are clearly not interested in a fair resolution of the Syrian crisis,” Russia’s UN envoy Vitaly Churkin said at a Security Council meeting.
US WANTS JAPANESE MILITARY BASES... SO...
The Japanese government confirms now the relocation of the US military base from Futenma, Okinawa to Nago city, despite the opposition of the local authorities, said News Asia channel.
After US approval, the agreement is to be implemented, regardless of opposition by the new Nago city Mayor, Susumu Inamine.
He has vowed to block construction of the base by denying permits for the project & won a hard-fought contest against a pro- base opponent backed by Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party.
Now the signing of the project is revealed, Inamine says he will work hard to block it.
Cabinet Chief Secretary, Yoshihide Suga, in Tokyo, says relocation of the military base will proceed under the law and the country's judicial procedures.
Humanitarian organizations say citizens from other parts of Japan and Okinawans oppose the construction of any US military bases in Japan and demand a withdrawal of US marines from this Asian country.
Robert Ford to Syria Opposition: Bandar on Long Vacation, Go to Geneva 2
The US Ambassador to Syria, Robert Ford, ordered foreign-backed opposition figures to take part in the Geneva 11 international peace conference, noting that there were now many changes in Saudi policy on Syria.
At a meeting, Ford told the SNC figures that Saudi prince Bandar Bin Sultan is on a long vacation in the US, “because of sickness and psychological fatigue,” Hamade added, citing a Syrian opposition official who is also close to the former Prime Minister, Riyad Hijab.
“We would like to inform you that there are some changes that will take place in Saudi Arabia next March,” Ford said, noting that the changes will "reach" Bandar Bin Sultan and Saud al-Faissal.
“We also would like to tell you, that the US has asked Saad Hariri (head of al-Mustaqbal parliamentary bloc in Lebanon) to participate in a coalition government with Hezbollah.”
The US ambassador added that the Saudi committee for Lebanon and Syria (which compromises Abdulaziz Khoja, Abdulaziz Bin Abdullah Al Saud and Muqren Bin Abdullah Al Saud) is to be activated and will take over the Lebanese and Syrian file from Bandar.
Ford told the Syrian opposition figures: “Bandar’s plan for the Syrian conflict, put into action in 2012, had catastrophic repercussions on Syria and the region. It has made of Syria a powerful hub for al-Qaeda that the US cannot confront.
For that, you have to stop objecting and go to Geneva 2 - this is in US’ interest.”
UAE introduces compulsory military service
United Arab Emirates (UAE) Prime Minister, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, says via Twitter that the Gulf state is now introducing compulsory military service for all nationals above 18 years old.
All Emirati nationals between 18 to 30 will have to take compulsory military service.
Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid: "The Service will cover military training in the armed forces - 9 months for high school graduates and two years for those below high school."
"UAE reserve forces will consist of retired armed forces' soldiers and national service program graduates," adds the UAE PM.
"Protecting the nation and preserving its independence and sovereignty is a sacred national duty. The new law will apply to everyone," tweeted Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid.
The UAE has 8.8 million inhabitants, of which, only 20% are UAE nationals.
The UAE prime minister, who is also the country's vice president and the ruler of Dubai, has ordered his cabinet to draw up a bill for national defense and reserves.
Amid major warnings of an emerging genocide in the Central African Republic (CAR) by a UN official, reports indicate that Muslim residents in CAR are being ‘butchered’ by Christian militias.
IRAQ - IT's NOT GOING AWAY !
A dossier has been presented to the International Criminal Court, which could result in some of the UK's leading defence figures and politicians facing prosecution for "systematic" war crimes in Iraq.
The 250-page dossier, entitled "The Responsibility of UK Officials for War Crimes Involving Systematic Detainee Abuse in Iraq from 2003-2008", draws on cases of over 400 Iraqis, representing "thousands of allegations of mistreatment amounting to war crimes of torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment".
They range from "hooding" prisoners to burning, electric shocks, threats to kill and "cultural and religious humiliation". Other forms of alleged abuse include sexual assault, mock executions, threats of rape, death and torture.
The dossier says "those who bear the greatest responsibility" for alleged war crimes "include individuals at the highest levels" of the British Army and political system.
It further argues that UK military commanders "knew or should have known" that forces under their control "were committing or about to commit war crimes."
General Sir Peter Wall, the head of the British Army; former Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon; and former defence minister Adam Ingram are among those named in the report.
The formal complaint to the ICC also argues that "civilian superiors knew or consciously disregarded information at their disposal, which clearly indicated that UK services personnel were committing war crimes in Iraq."
The European Centre for Constitutional Human Rights (ECCHR) and the Public Interest Lawyers (PIL) firm say in a statement that they filed the joint complaint to the ICC, calling for a probe into UK war crimes in Iraq.
In their 250-page complaint, the two NGOs call for a probe into the actions of senior UK officials, for “systematic torture and abuse” of prisoners in Iraq between 2003 and 2008.
Over the past few years, over 400 Iraqi prisoners have contacted PIL, based in Birmingham, alleging “serious abuse and humiliation” by British soldiers.
According to the law firm, the allegations range from sexual and religious humiliation to physical violence.
The joint statement by the 2 groups also points to a similar complaint to the ICC, which failed in 2006, on the grounds of insufficient evidence.
The NGOs say that, after eight years, “a thorough investigation” is still necessary.
German daily Süddeutsche Zeitung reports that the UK's Ministry of Defence (MoD) has confirmed that there were “isolated” cases of abuse by UK soldiers in Iraq, but denies any alleged systematic torture by members of the UK army.
The US and UK invaded Iraq in blatant violation of international law in 2003, on the pretext of looking for weapons of mass destruction (WMD), allegedly stockpiled by ex-Iraqi dictator, Saddam Hussein.
No WMDs, however, were ever discovered in Iraq.
According to the California-based investigative organization Project Censored, over one million Iraqis were killed as a result of the invasion and subsequent occupation of their country.
REPORT: NATO BOMBED MOTHERS & CHILDREN
At least 14 civilians, including three women and five children, were killed in an air strike by NATO in the northern Siagh Gerd district.
A Parlamentarian commission headed by Deputy Abdul Satar Khawasi confirms the slaughter, after hearing testimony from local residents.
According to the report, US forces bombed the area from Tuesday night until dawn the next day.
The mission, led by Khawasi, is to submit evidence to the National Assembly, such as photographs of the victims and the damage caused by US aircraft.
This unfortunate episode adds to one by ISAF, which killed 8 civilians, including 7 children and a woman, in an "operation" in the Afghan province of Parwan.
ISAF says the event took place in a high- risk zone where important leaders of the insurgent Taliban take refuge.
ISAF's brief statement adds that a soldier was killed by "non-combat" wounds.
IMF AND US CITIZENS BLOWN UP IN KABUL
At least two US citizens were killed in a bombing and shooting attack on a popular Lebanese restaurant in Kabul, the US embassy in Kabul says.
"The US Embassy has confirmed that at least 2 private US citizens were among the victims of the terrorist attack in Kabul," the embassy said on its Twitter page.
"Our deepest sympathies go out to the families of those who were killed."
The Embassy said its staff were all accounted for.
19 others, mostly foreigners, including the IMF’s representative in Afghanistan, 3 UN employees and people from other international organizations, were killed.
HOW IS S. SUDAN's NEW CHRISTIAN STATE?
The UN's Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights, Ivan Simonovic, says child soldiers are fighting in the month-long plus conflict there, with mass killings reported.
"The reports that we have come across involve mass killings, extrajudicial killings, widespread destruction, looting & child soldier recruitment", the top UN rights envoy in South Sudan reports.
"Destruction and death is everywhere in Bentiu, which has now become a ghost town. The extent of looting is hard to grasp, for anyone who hasn't been there," Jonglei's Bor, where fighting continues, is in a similar state, he says.
Somonovic accuses both President Salva Kiir and the former vice president Riek Machar of atrocities, in the conflict that started on December 15th.
PROPPING UP CRIMINALS
A prominent human rights advocacy group criticizes the UK over its decision to fund military training for Myanmar’s army, which is accused of human rights violations.
In a report titled ‘Training War Criminals? – British Training of the Burmese Army’, Burma Campaign UK says the decision to spend at least £87,850 on the project is deeply flawed, since there are no preconditions on improving human rights and supporting democratic reform there.
“If the British government were serious about reforming the Burmese military and ending their human rights abuses, they could have used this training to elicit practical action and commitments to reforms,” Mark Farmaner, Director of Burma Campaign UK, says.
He notes that London is moving as close as possible to Myanmar’s government, to secure trade and investment opportunities.
Muslims there are being persecuted and forced out of their country by Buddhists.
Canada to Present Evidence of Abuse on Indigenous Children?
The Canadian Government has agreed to publish a 1990 police investigation which gathered evidence about the mistreatment received by hundreds of native children in one of the so-called residential schools, where many of them remained segregated for years.
Erica Meekes, spokesperson for the Aboriginal Affairs Minister, has confirmed by e-mail to the press that the Government will comply with judge Paul Perell's order, from the Superior Court in Ontario province, that requests disclosure of those documents.
Nevertheless, Meekes still has not given details about the date of disclosure of the files, which have been withheld for years, on the pretext of "protecting the victims".
Residential schools were used from 1883 to 1990, with the objective of teaching "western customs and traditions" to some 150,000 children.
Those schools were managed by the Government and Church, and have been charged with torture, and both psychological and physical abuse on the children who lived in those schools - against their will and their families' will.
The children were forced to work some 10 to 12 hours daily, without being paid or properly fed.
THE GENOCIDAL MIND-SET CONTINUES
Photographs published on TMZ.com show US Marines burning the bodies of dead Iraqis, in Fallujah, in 2004.
“TMZ obtained 41 pictures that we’re told were shot in Fallujah in 2004,” the website writes. “Two pictures show a Marine appearing to pour gasoline or some other flammable on the remains of what officials believe are 2 insurgents. Two other photos show the bodies on fire. You then see the charred remains.”
“Another photo' shows a Marine crouched down next to a dead body and mugging for the camera.
“Still another picture shows a Marine rifling through the pocket of the pants on a corpse.”
The website said some of the photos are “too gruesome” to be published, adding that over a dozen bodies are seen in the pictures and “some are covered with flies and one is being eaten by a dog.”
The website says it turned the photos over to the Pentagon last week.
A Marine spokesperson at the Pentagon, Lt. Col. Neil F. Murphy, says the Marine Corps is investigating the circumstances depicted in the photos and attempting to identify the Marines shown.
Murphy says the results will determine whether the Marine Corps launches an investigation into possible wrongdoing.
The US used the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York as a pretext to attack Afghanistan in 2001.
Two years later, the US military also invaded Iraq, which conflict, left over one million dead.
Thousands of US troops are still stationed in both countries, years after the ouster of the Taliban in Afghanistan and the former dictator Saddam Hussein in Iraq.
'STOP OUTSIDE ARMS' SAYS POPE
Shortly before the US Secretary of State John Kerry visited Rome, Pope Francis called for a ceasefire & an end to violence in Syria, without preconditions.
During a conference of experts sponsored by the Vatican, attended by Catholics and non-Catholics, the Pope considered that to achieve that goal, all foreign powers must stop sending weapons and financing to Syria.
"To build the basis of a regional peace, Geneva II should ensure the participation of all parties in the conflict in the region and beyond," noted Pope Francis, alluding to Iran, whose presence in Switzerland has "not yet been decided".
Jorge Mario Bergoglio also affirmed that the Vatican is dedicated to supporting all religious creeds, due to the plurality of religions which has already been created in Syria.
Kerry then left the Vatican for Kuwait, to attend a "donors´ conference" on Syria, but local media say that this Kuwait "forum" is being held to seek more support for the opposition groups fighting the Syrian government.
Kuwait pledges $500mn in aid to Syria
Kuwait's emir, Sheik Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah, pledges $500 million of new funding, to "help Syrians affected by the conflict".
This comes on top of Kuwait's pledge of $300 million last year. The emir opened an international fundraising conference today, that officials hope will help cover the billions of dollars needed this year.
Kuwait, the US and other donor nations have so far promised more than $1.2 billion of fresh assistance, AP reports.
The UN is asking for $6.5 billion this year to help Syrians, the largest-ever funding appeal for a single crisis.
US Secretary of State John Kerry has promised $380 million in additional humanitarian aid to Syria today, Reuters reports.
“I am proud to announce today on President Obama's behalf, a new announcement of an additional $380 million in assistance,” Kerry told the donor conference in Kuwait.
The wave of countries liberating themselves in America, looks likely to continue with El Salvador... despite years of US interference which used violence and corruption to try to stop it (in the name of 'anti-communism', and then, of 'anti-terrorism').
The Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN) is now favorite to win the presidential elections in El Salvador, according to the latest survey carried out by the private Technological University (UTEC).
UTEC's survey, which took a poll 'forecast' gives 38.3% of forecast votes to the FMLN.
The right-wing Nationalist Republican Alliance (Arena), a close rival, has 29% of poll votes and the Unity coalition is third with 11.6%. Other minority parties barely make 0.8%.
'Though these results are not enough to win in the first round, other opinion polls place the FMLN in the lead, and close to winning in the first electoral round.
The Rector of UTEC, Nelson Zarate, says that Arena and its presidential candidate Norman Quijano, has lost momentum against the FMLN candidate Salvador Sanchez Ceren, compared to a survey carried out last November.
The deadline to release surveys before the presidential polls, is January the 17th.
The FMLN leads in most surveys, boasting more support than other political forces, to rule the country for the period 2014-2019.
ARMS RACE GOES HYPERSONIC
China has successfully tested its first hypersonic missile delivery vehicle, capable of penetrating US missile defense systems and delivering nuclear warheads with record breaking speeds, Pentagon officials have confirmed.
The new hypersonic glide vehicle (HGV), dubbed the WU-14, was allegedly spotted flying at record- breaking speeds during a flight test over China on January 9, an anonymous Pentagon official told the Washington Free Beacon.
The new system is reportedly designed to be launched as the final stage of China’s intercontinental ballistic missile, which would approach its target at a velocity of up to 10 times the speed of sound.
Hypersonic speed range lies between Mach 5 and Mach 10, or 3,840 to 7,680 miles per hour.
A Pentagon spokesperson confirms the Chinese test launch but has declined to provide details.
“We routinely monitor foreign defense activities and we are aware of this test,” Lt. Col. Jeffrey Pool, a Marine Corps spokesperson, told the Washington Free Beacon.
“However, we don’t comment on our intelligence or assessments of foreign weapon systems,” Pool said in a statement. “We encourage greater transparency regarding their defense investments and objectives to avoid miscalculation,” he added.
Hypersonic vehicles - also being designed by the US, India and Russia - are developed for precise targeting, rapid delivery of weapons, and are being tested to outmaneuver missile and space defenses.
“A boost glide missile theoretically would be intended to counter existing mid-course missile defenses,” Mark Stokes, former US Air Force officer, told the Washington Free Beacon.
Strokes explained that China is developing two hypersonic flight vehicle programs – one believed to be of a post-boost vehicle designed to be deployed from a missile that pursues its target from near space, or some 62 miles from earth.
Basing his hypothesis on emerging reports from China, Stokes believes that hypersonic glide vehicles could reach Mach 12 speeds of up to 9,127 miles per hour, potentially compromising a US missile defense.
“The beauty of the HGV is that it can perform hypersonic precision strikes while maintaining a relatively low altitude and flat trajectory, making it far less vulnerable to missile defenses,” Rick Fisher, an analyst at the International Assessment & Strategy Center, told the Washington Free Beacon.
“With the integration of strategic analysis and planning into technical research, China’s pursuit of hypersonic and high-precision weaponry promises to be faster and more focused than that associated with its previous [anti-satellite] and [ballistic missile defense] related research and programs,” Lora Saalman, a specialist on Chinese strategic systems with the Carnegie Endowment Saalman said by email. “This recent test is a manifestation of this trend.”
The Chinese are “actively seeking global military power to challenge the US, and it is not yet in any mood to talk, or engage in arms control, about it,” Fisher said.
In May, the Pentagon’s assessment of Chinese capabilities suggested that China built the world’s largest shockwave hypersonic wind tunnel capable of generating test flying conditions of up to Mach 9 speeds.
Chinese technical papers from December 2012 and April 2013 reveal that China is developing precision guidance systems designed to be directed via satellite.
One Chinese paper concluded that hypersonic weapons pose “a new aerospace threat.”
Current US hypersonic research is being conducted through the FALCON program in association with the Pentagon and Air Force.
The US is now in the process of developing the Lockheed HTV-2, an unmanned, missile-launched aircraft capable of gaining speeds of up to Mach 20, or 13,000 miles per hour.
The US Air Force is also testing the X-37B Space Plane, which has been orbiting earth since December 2012.
At the same time Boeing is working on the X-51 WaveRider, a jet-fueled, air-breathing hypersonic rocket developed for the Air Force to be used for hypersonic attack and reconnaissance missions.
Russia too, has confirmed the development of similar ultrasonic technology. The Air Force National Air and Space Intelligence Center said in its annual report that Russia is building “a new class of hypersonic vehicle” that would “allow Russian strategic missiles to penetrate missile defense systems.”
“We are experiencing a revolution in military science,” Russian deputy prime minister Dmitry Rogozin said last June, after the 4th test of an advanced road- mobile ICBM, a “missile defense killer” called the RS-26 Rubezh (‘frontier’). “Neither current nor future American missile defense systems will be able to prevent that missile from hitting a target dead on.”
Moscow is also developing the S-500 air and space defense system, with interceptors capable of shooting down hypersonic missiles.
US Ex-General Demands Guantanamo Prison Closure
Major General Lehnert, a retired officer of the US Army, demandS today the immediate closure of the prison the US maintains in Cuba's eastern province of Guantanamo.
Lehnert was the first chief of the detention centre - which opened in January, 2002 in a military base on Cuban soil - against the will of the people and the Government of the Caribbean island.
"It is time to close the prison to abide by domestic and international laws, the US Constitution, and ensure that human rights are respected," says the Marine Corps general.
"I think we did a bad job since the beginning, determining who would be sent to Guantanamo, especially during the first days after opening the prison, and most of the prisoners should have never been there," he says.
The former military man criticizes the work by military commissions trying the prisoners there, and says the trials could be held in US courts, in an article published today by the newspaper Stars and Stripes.
After assuming his first term of office in 2009, President Barack Obama signed an executive order to close Guantanamo prison in less than one year, but the prison is still operating.
There are numerous denunciations about the use of cruel techniques in that detention centre, such as deprivation of sleep, locking prisoners naked in rooms at low temperatures and exhausting interrogations.
USING UK ROYALS ON TORTURE ISLAND
The UK’s Duke of York, Prince Andrew, began an official visit to the Persian Gulf state of Bahrain to promote UK business, in a trip criticized by human rights activists.
Prince Andrew started his visit as a part of the so-called GREAT British week in Bahrain, which completes a series of events marking 200 years of bilateral relations between the two states.
Andrew’s controversial trip came at the request of the UK government and included a meeting with Bahrain’s King Hamad Bin Isa Al Khalifa.
The royal’s visit to Bahrain faced criticism by human rights activists, who point to the Persian Gulf state’s human rights record, disfigured by a harsh crackdown on anti-government protests, which began in 2011.
Maryam al-Khawaja, acting president of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights, accused the UK of putting short-term commercial interests before any support for democracy & human rights in Bahrain by sending the Queen's second son.
Since mid-February 2011, thousands of pro-democracy protesters have staged frequent demonstrations in Bahrain, calling for the Al Khalifa royal family to step down from power.
On March 14, 2011, troops led by Saudi Arabia were deployed to Bahrain to help the Manama government crackdown on the peaceful protesters.
Scores have been killed, many of them under torture while in custody, and thousands more detained, since the popular uprising started in the kingdom.
The Physicians for Human Rights says doctors and nurses have been detained, tortured, or disappeared because they had “evidence of atrocities committed by the authorities, security forces, and riot police” in the crackdown on anti-government protesters.
THE STINK OF FRENCH COLONIALISM
The CAR was grabbed by France as part of the European powers' "scramble for Africa." In 1928 a major insurrection against taxes and forced labour imposed by the French - the Kongo-Wara rebellion or 'war of the hoe handle' - broke out in Western Ubangi-Shari, and continued for several years.
The extent of this insurrection, which was perhaps the largest anti-colonial rebellion in Africa during the interwar years, was carefully hidden from the French public, because it was evidence of strong opposition to French colonial rule and forced labour.
After France granted a show of independence, for many decades, CAR was ruled by presidents or by an emperor, all of whom were unelected, or took power by force.
Any popularly elected leaders were overthrown by coups backed by French fighter jets, or had "accidents".
Now Christian mobs and militias are threatening to kill all Muslims, despite relative calm there, Press TV reports.
There have been reports of attacks on mosques and looting against Muslim-owned shops and houses in the capital, Bangui.
“The Christians only want to destroy the Muslims; they killed women and children here. We are scared. We don’t know why they attack us. But if they don’t want us in the Central African Republic, where else can we go?” a Muslim man asked Press TV.
This is while a Christian mob told Press TV:
“We will do exactly what the Muslims did to us. They killed us, so we will do the same to them. We want peace in the country. We want peace in the Central African Republic. So we will cut the throats of all the Muslims.”
The African nation fell into its recent deadly unrest in March 2013, when Christian militias launched an attack on the capital.
The United Nations has already warned of a potential sectarian genocide there.
Violence has been raging even after the country’s interim leaders President Michel Djotodia and PM Nicolas Tiangaye, both stepped down Friday to try to ease tension.
Thousands of stranded foreigners caught up in violence in the CAR have started leaving Bangui.
Antoine Mbao Bogo, local Red Cross president, on Sunday confirmed 13 deaths in two days of consecutive intense clashes in the country’s capital, since January 10th.
The deaths have spread fear across Bangui. Many streets there were deserted on Sunday.
THE FOX IN THE HEN-HOUSE
A political commentator says France had one real objective - of ‘regime change’ in the Central African Republic.
Finian Cunningham says that the violence in the African country “has been deliberately provoked by the French as a cover for their real objective – regime change.”
“Western media portray French conduct in the Central African Republic as a benevolent force,” the political analyst stated. “This is like lauding a fox in a hen house.”
“The reality is that violence and suffering have largely stemmed as a direct result of illegal French interference in that African country,” Cunningham added.
The Central African Republic has been gripped by unrest since Seleka rebels seized control of the impoverished landlocked country in March 2013, ousting former President Francois Bozize and bringing Michel Djotodia to power.
Djotodia resigned on January 10. He has left the country and is said to be going into exile in Benin.
“Djotodia was forced to step down after he was politically ambushed by other Francophile African leaders at a special conference convened... in neighboring Chad,” Cunningham argued.
“The French tried to cover their tracks by saying ‘we are not here to give our thumbs up or down’ but that is exactly what they were doing – giving the thumbs down.”
Alexandre Ferdinand Nguendet is the interim president of the Central African Republic now, while the National Transition Council, or the provisional parliament, is scheduled to begin consultations with politicians and civil society members on Monday, about electing the successor to Djotodia.
GOOD PEACE NEWS ON IRAN
A top Iranian nuclear negotiator says Iran and the six world powers will start implementing the Geneva nuclear agreement on January 20th.
“Today, Iran and the P5+1 finalized an agreement on ways to take the first step to implement the Joint Plan of Action. The two sides reached a consensus,” Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister for Legal and International Affairs, Abbas Araqchi, told reporters.
Araqchi said once Iran begins to implement the Geneva deal, the six powers (5 permanent UN Security Council members plus Germany) – will begin to ease sanctions on Tehran.
He says the other side will release USD 4.2 billion in Iranian frozen assets in 8 stages and Iran, in return, will oxidize its 20% enriched uranium, within a year.
Araqchi emphasized that both Tehran and the six powers will proceed to implement the Geneva deal in a balanced way.
The Iranian official said Tehran is to allow the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to verify implementation of the deal.
The deal was clinched on November 24, 2013, in which the 6 countries undertook to provide Iran with some sanctions relief in exchange for Iran agreeing to limit certain aspects of its nuclear activities over a six-month period.
It was also agreed that no nuclear-related sanctions would be imposed on Iran within the same timeframe.
SUDAN KEEPS ITS DIGNITY AS S. SUDAN OIL CAUSES WARS.
The Sudanese army says it expelled a force belonging to Riek Machar, the rebel leader in South Sudan, after it crossed into Sudan's territory and refused to be disarmed.
"On January 9th, a force of Nuer tribe, about an infantry battalion, crossed into Sudanese territory near Higlieg area. They were on the run after the advance of South Sudan's army towards Bantio, capital of the oil-rich Unity State," said a Sudanese army spokesperson, Al-Sawarmy Khalid Saad.
Saad said that there is no room for any South Sudanese troops inside the Sudanese territories, saying "we reiterate that our territories are now free of any foreign troops and that international law is our means of dealing with any similar cases."
Sudanese border areas have seen flows of South Sudanese refugees fleeing clashes in their country between the South Sudan army and defectors loyal to former vice- president Riek Machar.
Sudan says it will treat the fleeing South Sudanese as Sudanese citizens, and that it will not establish camps at the borders but will allow southerners to stay anywhere in Sudan.
South Sudan's army on Friday managed to regain control of Bantio, capital city of the oil-producing "Unity State" and it is currently leading battles to restore Bor town, the capital of Jonglie State, the last area held by Machar's forces.
MESSAGE TO SHARON's HEIRS
EU’s foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton says she is “deeply concerned” by new “illegal” Israeli settlements plans and - once again - calls on the nation to stop, says her statement.
"I was deeply concerned to hear the latest announcement by the Israeli authorities to advance settlement plans once more," Ashton says.
She confirms that the settlements are illegal under international law, and remain an obstacle to peace, as they “threaten to make the 2-state solution impossible.”
Ashton’s statement came the day Israel’s former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon - the architect of the settlement program - died.
Israel announced new settlement plans for over 1,800 homes on the day.
US military advisers back in Somalia
The US military has sent a small number of “uniformed trainers and advisers” to Somalia for the first time since 1993, when two US helicopters were shot down and 18 Americans killed, during the “Black Hawk Down” mission.
A small cell of less than two-dozen US military personnel has been stationed in Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu, since last Autumn in an effort to advise and coordinate with African troops fighting Al-Shabab, an Islamic militia with ties to Al-Qaeda, three US military officials have told The Washington Post.
In late 2014, US military officials indicated that the Pentagon would be more involved there.
The Pentagon’s top policy official in Africa, Amanda Dory, told Congress in October that the US military will “increase our presence in Mogadishu in tandem with the State Department” but did not elaborate.
Three anonymous US military officials told The Washington Post that US Africa Command sent a small amount of advisers to Mogadishu in the Autumn, to coordinate with Somali security forces a the regional coalition of African troops.
The Pentagon declined to comment on the plans.
This clandestine deployment ends two decades of US’ unofficial policy that prohibited any long- term US military presence on the ground in Somalia, despite the country being considered a failed state, teeming with pirates and militant Islamic organizations.
Yet the informal policy has not kept the US from actively participating in Somali affairs.
President Barack Obama’s administration runs surveillance drones out of neighboring Djibouti, occasionally using attack drones to conduct airstrikes from Somali skies.
In addition, elite Special Operations forces have entered Somalia for swift counter-terrorism raids and hostage situations.
The CIA has also operated a base in Somalia for some time, financing Somali forces fighting Al- Shabab and other entities.
Journalist Jeremy Scahill has documented the CIA’s secretive movements in Somalia.
In 2011, he revealed the existence of the CIA’s counterterrorism centre at Mogadishu airport.
He also reported on a secret prison in the US- funded Somali National Security Agency, which according to his sources, was used by the US to interrogate prisoners.
In response to The Washington Post’s story Friday, he tweets, “US has had military 'adviser/trainers' in Somalia for years. Not new.”
According to an ABC report, US personnel have gone into Somalia, but the latest deployment "is the first permanent posting since 1993".
The US finally recognized the federal government of Somalia in 2013, reestablishing diplomatic ties for the first time since the Somali government collapsed in 1991. The State Department still doesn't have a permanent presence there.
In recent years, the US has spent over US$500 million to train and arm an African Union security force of over 18,000 soldiers amid the ongoing chaos and famine in Somalia.
Most of the forces are trained outside Somalia by US contractors and uniformed military advisers.
The US has also spent around $170 million to boost the often-ineffective Somali national army.
African Union forces control most of Mogadishu, though Al-Shabab still holds most of the country.
It announced a merger with Al-Qaeda two years ago, though how much of a threat they pose to the US, is disputed by US analysts.
Despite The Washington Post’s report that “fewer than two-dozen troops” were sent to Mogadishu, ABC News reported late Friday that “less than” five US advisers are now stationed there, according to a Department of Defense official.
ABC News also tweeted “advisers were sent to Mogadishu after Hagel received request from Somali gov't & African Union Mission in Somalia.”
SHUT GITMO NOW US DEMOS SAY
Americans took to the streets in January to demand the closure of Guantanamo prison on the 12th anniversary of the notorious US- run prison’s opening.
On January 11th, 2002, the first prisoners were airlifted into a prison complex at the Guantanamo Bay US Naval Base in Cuba, after George Bush’s November 13th, 2001 order authorized the establishment of the prison and detention of US-captured “terror suspects.”
Nevertheless, out of the 779 prisoners ever held at the prison, only 7 men have been convicted and sentenced.
According to The Guardian, those charged and convicted of a war crime were lucky, because they have a chance to get out of Guantanamo while most of the prisoners who have been held there without a charge, could spend the rest of their lives in prison.
During his presidential campaign in 2008, President Barack Obama promised to close the prison as he acknowledged it as a symbol of the US government’s violation of human rights.
Now, 12 years after the opening of the prison and almost 5 years after Obama promised to close it, Americans across the land, took to the streets, to demand its shut down.
Protests took place at the White House in Washington, D.C., and in a number of other US cities including Miami, Santa Monica & Chicago.
In early February last year, Guantanamo prisoners began a hunger strike in protest against harsh conditions and indefinite detention without trial. The mass protest peaked in July as over 130 prisoners were taking part in the hunger strike.
Images from the detention centre published in June showed how prisoners were force-fed by military guards, being strapped to a metal restraint chair and fed through the nose with plastic tubing.
The US military said in December that it would no longer release reports of hunger strikes staged at the prison to the public, since disclosing such news would "not be in the US's interests".
UK ACTIVISTS ALSO CALL FOR CLOSURE NOW !!!
UK activists also took to the streets in London to mark the 12th anniversary of the opening of the notorious Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba - and to demand its closure.
The London Guantanamo Campaign (LGC), calling the demonstration, says activists wearing orange jumpsuits & black hoods, held up placards in Trafalgar Square, to demand London’s urgent action on the release of the last Gitmo Briton, Shaker Aamer.
"Twelve years on, the prison at Guantánamo Bay remains a stain on the current global landscape. It is unfortunate that it has taken a near-fatal hunger strike by prisoners to remind the world, and Barack Obama, of his promise to close the facility,” said Aisha Maniar, a spokesperson for the LGC.
According to Manir, the UK government can lead the way by using this anniversary to renew its demands for the return of Aamer to his family in London, saying:
“the time to act is now. There must be no more anniversaries.”
CHINA WARNS RE 'US ASIA PIVOT'
Countries around the South China Sea should have clear vision when it comes to the US strategy of hyping up issues in the region, and return to the path of direct friendly consultations, says China, in an op-ed published in Xinhua.
The US has been playing up the South China Sea issue again by pointing fingers at China's new fishing regulations.
State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki told a news briefing that the regulations are "provocative and potentially dangerous."
Washington's accusations are unreasonable, as China's fishing regulations are in line with international practice & aimed at strengthening the protection of fishery resources and the maritime environment. The US itself has similar rules, the article points out.
It is not the first time Washington has meddled in this region. Over past years, the South China Sea has become a new frontier in the US's strategic pivot to Asia.
In July 2010, Hillary Clinton, then US Secretary of State, initiated a discussion about navigation freedom, security and U.S. "national interests" in the South China Sea, at a meeting in Hanoi.
Playing up issues again and again in the region, the US is resorting to the old trick of "divide and rule" -- first it stirs up tensions, disputes and even conflicts, then steps in to pose as "mediator" or "judge", in a bid to maximize its own interests.
Countries around the South China Sea should see clearly the US strategy and tricks, and see through its ambition to manipulate Asian affairs just to maintain dominance.
History has repeatedly proven that more often than not, the involvement of a superpower in disputed areas complicates the situation and brings tragedy to the parties concerned.
If countries around the South China Sea are under any illusion about the US strategy and start to abandon consensus and understanding when it comes to resolving disputes in the area, they risk turning into chess pieces of the superpower and paying an unnecessary price for any confrontation or friction.
Therefore, concerned countries should demonstrate wisdom in resolving issues in the South China Sea through direct friendly consultations, and be on guard against being a pawn for US ambitions.
It is also time for Washington to stop playing old tricks and take a role in advancing peace and stability in the area, otherwise it will be deemed unwelcome in the region, the article concludes.
The President of the Central African Republic, Michel Djotodia, has resigned, the Economic Community of Central African States says in a statement.
An Israeli rights group reveals Tel Aviv’s plans to build over 1,800 new settler units in occupied Palestinian territory.
The Israel Housing Ministry has announced the construction of over 1,076 units in the illegally annexed East al-Quds (Jerusalem) and 801 more in the occupied West Bank, Peace Now says.
The group says the new units will be built in existing settlements such as Efrat and Ariel in the West Bank, as well as Ramat Shlomo, Ramot and Pisgat Zeev in East al-Quds.
The news came days after the latest US efforts to broker direct talks between the Israeli regime and the Palestinian Authority proved fruitless. Israeli settlements are the main obstacles in the negotiations.
Responding to the new settlement units, Palestinians say the move shows Israel wants Washington to stay away.
They condemn the decision as yet another attempt by PM Benjamin Netanyahu to "destroy" the so-called two-state solution.
Tel Aviv has given the green light to the construction of 272 new settler units, 250 of them to be built in Ofra and Karnei Shomron, in the heart of the West Bank.
Over half a million Israelis live in over 120 illegal settlements built since Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and East al-Quds in 1967.
The United Nations and most countries regard the Israeli settlements as illegal because the territories were captured by Israel in a war in 1967 and are hence subject to the Geneva Conventions, which forbid construction on occupied territories.
MORE "ACCIDENTS" IN AFGHANISTAN - NO SECURITY PACT WITH US, SAYS KARZAI
US forces stationed in Afghanistan accidentally gunned down a 4-year-old boy, say local officials.
The incident prompted a rebuke from President Karzai who is refusing to sign a security pact unless it gives assurances on civilian safety.
Marines based in the violence-plagued province of Helmand mistakenly opened fire on the boy because of poor visibility, say local authorities.
“As the weather was dusty, the marine forces based there thought he was enemy and opened fire. As a result of mistaken fire, he was killed,” the spokesperson for the governor of Helmand Province, Omar Zwak, told Reuters.
NATO says an investigation into the matter will be launched immediately and that all possible measures are taken to avoid civilian casualties.
The four-year-old’s death at the hands of US troops sparked a furious reaction from the Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who demanded an immediate end to all military operations on civilian homes, and clearly shown dedication to the peace process, before any security pact can be signed.
"We have called … for an absolute end to ISAF/ NATO military operations on homes and villages in order to avoid such killings, where innocent children or civilians are the victims," presidential spokesperson, Aimal Faizi, said re the boy's death.
The US and Kabul are currently at loggerheads over a security pact that would see a US troop presence after the US’s scheduled withdrawal in December.
The Obama Administration pressured Karzai to sign the agreement before a December 31st deadline, and continues to press now.
It argues that if the US does not leave behind at least 8,000 troops it could allow the Taliban to regain a foothold and plunge the country into “chaos”.
The Afghan government rejects these claims as “baseless” and intimates that there is an ulterior motive behind the security pact.
"We strongly reject that as baseless as they have in the past been proved inaccurate," Faizi told Reuters.
President Karzai says what continues to happen in Helmand province "reveals that American forces have no respect for Afghan lives."
He says that if such “cruelty” goes on, “the security pact will not be signed with America.”
Washington has recently been complaining to the Afghan leadership after Kabul announced the release of 72 prisoners the US deems “dangerous criminals” suspected of “terror- related crimes”.
The Afghan government says there was too little evidence to warrant a trial for the detainees and it could not allow “innocent Afghan citizens to be kept in detention for months and years without a trial, for no reason at all.”
South Korea Halts Tear Gas Exports to Bahrain
South Korea has suspended tear gas exports to Bahrain, citing an unstable political situation in the Gulf state.
South Korea’s Defense Acquisition Program Administration, which oversees the country’s military trade, told two companies that sought approval to export to Bahrain in October and November to suspend shipments.
Lee Jung-geun, a spokesperson for the defense agency, said the decision had been made because of the “unstable politics in the country [Bahrain], people’s death due to tear gas and complaints from human rights groups”.
The Bahraini government did not respond to requests for a comment.
The move comes after months of campaigning by rights groups who say the Bahraini authorities’ misuse of tear gas has led to dozens of deaths during peaceful protests against the government.
Bahrain’s interior ministry in June solicited bids for 1.6m tear gas projectiles, 90,000 tear gas grenades and 145,000 stun grenades, according to a tender document leaked to Bahrain Watch, an advocacy group.
The order would have been of a similar magnitude to the 2m tear gas projectiles activists estimate have been fired by the security forces since pro- democracy protests swept the strategic island in February 2011.
“This is also a clear message to any other countries considering supplying tear gas to Bahrain that profiting from repression is unacceptable,” Bahrain Watch says in a statement.
One of the companies seeking to export tear gas, DaeKwang Chemical, says it is now “unlikely” to provide any material to Bahrain owing to increasing protests from human rights groups, says Kim Jong-bae, chief executive.
DaeKwang had been planning to sell 3m tear gas canisters for around Won30bn ($28m) but the deal will probably be cancelled, he adds.
Tear gas projectiles, which are sometimes thrown into houses, have caused as many as 39 deaths, according to Physicians for Human Rights.
The government has always denied that these deaths can be attributed to the use of tear gas.
Bolivia to Promote from G-77 a Fair, Peaceful, Sustainable, World Order
President Evo Morales says that Bolivia will promote, from the Presidency of the Group of 77 plus China, a fair and peaceful world order based on harmony with nature.
"We will defend a planet without impositions, hierarchies, the plundering of resources, or interventionist wars; a planet where the rights of mother earth are considered", Morales says at the United Nations, during the handover ceremony of the bloc's presidency, which brings together 133 developing countries.
To Morales, the construction - with no exceptions - of a new international order, must have 10 objectives, which he describes at the event.
"From the G-77, we must promote a change in the priorities of the generation of wealth, to switch from spending and hoarding profits to satisfying the needs of human beings", he said at the ceremony, as Bolivia took over the presidency from Fiji.
The Latin American leader then stressed the urgency of replacing 'representative' democracy with participatory and community democracies, so as to put an end to the dominance of elites, and ensure that all voices are heard equally.
Bolivia will head the G-77 plus China in 2014. The D-77 was created to articulate & promote the interests of the states of the South, on economic issues within the UN system.
FATAH & HAMAS RECONCILE?
As 17 Palestinians are injured by Israeli troops in the occupied West Bank, Fatah officials are to pay a visit to the Gaza Strip for reconciliation with Palestinian resistance movement, Hamas.
Mohamed Shtayyeh, a senior Fatah official, announced Tues. night that he and Azzam al-Ahmed, another top Fatah member, met with Khaled Mashaal, the political bureau chief of Hamas, two weeks ago in Doha, Qatar, and discussed ways of achieving reconciliation between the two factions.
“We are prepared for reconciliation and ending the split,” Shtayyeh said, adding, “Brother Haniyeh is making a big effort regarding reconciliation and we welcome his recent measures.”
The announcement came the day after Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh said Fatah members can return to the Gaza Strip.
"The [Hamas] government will allow all Fatah members who are from Gaza and who left the Strip [in 2007] to return, without any preconditions," Haniyeh said on Monday.
He described it as a bid to promote Palestinian reconciliation, saying... "We promised our people we'd take decisions that would reinforce the internal front and pave the way for reconciliation."
In 2011, the Palestinian factions of Fatah and Hamas signed a reconciliation accord to form a transitional unity government, which was supposed to pave the way for legislative elections before the end of May 2012. However, the process failed and has yet to be implemented.
On January 17, 2013, the two rival Palestinian factions agreed, in the Egyptian capital Cairo, to revive consultations over the deal.
Hamas and Fatah have been at odds since the former won Palestinian parliamentary elections in January 2006.
Israel reacted to the victory by imposing a blockade on the Gaza Strip, ruled by Hamas.
Fatah, however, set up headquarters in the occupied Palestinian territory of the West Bank.
DUTCH CALL FOR EU TO ALTER CUBA STANCE
Dutch Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans has called on the EU to revise its relationship with Cuba while visiting the Caribbean nation.
Timmermans says the best way to promote change in the socialist island nation just south of the US is through dialogue, and not by isolation.
Speaking in Havana while visiting a football camp for Cuban children on Tuesday, the top Dutch diplomat also underlined that differences of opinion between the EU and Cuba would likely remain.
"But we have seen that not meeting each other, not talking about this, doesn't really help," adding that dialogue could "bring the relationship forward."
Describing the economic reforms under way there as “encouraging," Timmermans was cited by state-run newspaper Juventud Rebelde as telling the Cuban Vice-President of the Council of Ministers Ricardo Cabrisas that the economic changes were a chance to improve business & social ties between the two countries.
Timmermans is the first Dutch foreign minister to visit Cuba since the nation’s 1959 revolution against US-backed dictator Fulgencio Batista.
The EU has limited its political ties with the Cuban government in a bid to push what it describes as a ‘multi-party democracy.’
In 1996, the European bloc agreed on a set of rules governing its relations with Cuba, called the Common Position.
It boasts that the EU's objective is "to encourage a process of transition to a pluralist democracy and respect for human rights & fundamental freedoms, as well as sustainable recovery and improvement in the living standards of the Cuban people."
Cuba rejects the so-called Common Position, arguing that it constitutes interference in its internal affairs.
The EU, meanwhile, remains a key trading partner for Cuba as hundreds of thousands of European tourists visit Cuba every year.
ANTI-ISRAEL FRONT MOVES TO CREATE UNITY
Arab scholars, politicians, students and activists have taken part in an international conference in the Tunisian Capital, Tunis, to support the growing anti-Israeli resistance front, Press TV reports.
The 2-day conference kicked off on Tuesday, one week ahead of the third anniversary of the popular revolution in the Arab country.
During the conference, participants shed light on the dangers of normalizing ties with Israel and slammed human rights abuses by the Zionist regime in occupied Palestine territories.
“The whole world should be aware that negotiating with Israel and its racist government and extremist settlers is betting on a mirage,” M. Barghouti, general secretary of the Palestine National Initiative says.
Some scholars at the conference consider Israel’s crimes against Palestinians a strategy to occupy more lands in order to impose a “Zionist presence” in the whole Arab world, believing the political unrest in the region gives Israel the opportunity to commit new crimes in the occupied Palestinian territories.
The scholars expressed concern over Arab countries in the region normalizing relations with Israel, saying, “This is a real danger, we are fighting an enemy within.”
EGYPT's COUP LEADERS REFERRED TO ICC
Today (Wed), Morsi's trial is postponed due to "cold weather".
Muslim Brotherhood lawyers have submitted a formal complaint to the International Criminal Court re the army’s “crimes against humanity.”
The Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party lawyers said in a press conference in London on Monday, that they have asked the ICC to investigate the crimes the military committed against the Brotherhood's leaders, members and supporters.
The lawyers plan to meet with the ICC to discuss opening a preliminary probe into “crimes against humanity.”
The lawyers state that their declaration was lodged on December 20th, on behalf of the first democratically elected President and MB leader, Mohamed Morsi, who was ousted by the army on July 3rd, 2013.
The complaint details crimes committed by the Egyptian army since Morsi’s ouster and reportedly includes evidence of murder, unlawful imprisonment, torture, and disappearances.
“The message must be sent out clearly to the Egyptian military regime that it runs the risk of prosecution. This is what the declaration accepting jurisdiction aims to achieve,” says John Dugard, a South African lawyer and member of the legal team appointed by the Freedom and Justice Party.
Supporters and members of the Muslim Brotherhood have been facing a heavy crackdown by the military and its appointed interim government since July.
The clampdown increased in December, after the coup leaders' interim government designated the Brotherhood as a “terrorist organization.”
On December 31st, an Egyptian court ordered the assets of hundreds of Muslim Brotherhood leaders (and their families) to be confiscated.
The Egyptian Interior Ministry said on January 6th, that Morsi will be denied any visitors for a one-month period, starting on January 2nd.
UK ARMS EXPORTS "UNACCOUNTABLE"?
A report on UK weapons exports has triggered accusations that the UK may be arming Somali pirates and dictatorial regimes.
MPs allege this is due to the sheer volume of guns being exported, and poor oversight.
An urgent review has been launched over why some 44,000 guns have been exported to East Africa in the last 15 months.
Government data shows that among the arms were 30,000 assault rifles, 2,536 pistols and 11,000 rifles, which ended up in countries with poor human rights records, like Somalia, Egypt and Sri Lanka.
Some of the weapons were also exported to Russia and South Africa.
The report, part of a wide-ranging inquiry into arms exports, notes that MPs want to know why UK firms stocked such huge numbers of new weapons, as they already had thousands of weapons in their armories before April 2012.
MPs say the sheer volume of weapons being exported means it is difficult to keep tabs on where they end up, prompting speculation that the UK could be arming pirates in Somalia.
The House of Commons Arms Export Controls Committee says that the Business Department, which approves weapons exports, did not thoroughly assess where the arms were sent.
MPs also doubt whether UK export policy has the “balance right between the arms trade, surveillance equipment and our economic interests.”
"The evidence provided to us by Mr Bell seems to suggest that the department did not have a process of looking at the cumulative number of weapons and whether those exports fitted the scenario on the ground needed for protection."
Head of the Export Control Organisation at the Business Department, Edward Bell, says he understands the worries of MPs, given the large quantity of arms, although he denies that the weapons have fallen into any wrong hands.
“I understand the concern about the volumes … having now heard about the volumes, I would like to do a bit more digging around that.
"I have no concerns that anything untoward has happened, but I certainly will have a closer look at the volumes involved,” he has told MPs.
The Business Department has now launched an internal inquiry into weapons exports.
AFRICA ALLOWING IMPERIAL POWERS TO INTERFERE
The death toll in Egypt in demonstrations has reached 17, as the army-backed "interim" government vows to "crush" the Muslim Brotherhood and its support.
French Majority Rejects Intervention in the Central African Republic
About 60% of the French population reject military intervention by France in the Central African Republic (CAR), says a survey by the Institute of Analysis and Opinion (Ifop).
The survey, released in the newspaper Sud Ouest Dimanche, shows that support for the so-called sangaris operation, launched in December, is rapidly eroding.
Last month opinion was divided - 51% supported the deployment of French troops in the CAR - now only 41% are in favour, and 59 disapprove, says the latest survey.
The institute attributes the rejection to several factors, including the effect of fatigue on citizens after several interventions abroad in recent years (Afghanistan, Ivory Coast, Libya and Mali).
Another factor is the uniqueness of the conflict in the CAR "with war aims and identifiable enemies," the Ifop adds.
On 5 December, President Francois Hollande announced the shipment of about 1600 French troops to its former colony, after the Security Council of the UN said 'yes' to the operation.
The French authorities said then that the intervention "would be quick and aim to restore order and security" in CAR, which had imploded after the coup last March.
France also began a similar deployment to Mali in January 2013. A year later, 3,000 troops remain.
In an interview with L'Humanité newspaper, the former Senegalese Minister Hamath Dansokho questions the effectiveness of French military interventions in Africa to address the serious problems in certain countries.
INTERNALLY DISPLACED IN CAR 1 MILLION
The number of internally displaced due to the conflict in the CAR now exceeds 935,000, warns the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
Those citizens who fled their homes because of a lack of security, now suffer extreme difficulties in getting humanitarian assistance, adds UNHCR.
Attacks on civilians, looting, and the presence of armed people in settlements for the displaced, seriously hinder access to assistance for those urgently needing it, says UNHCR spokesperson Babar Baloch.
The UNHCR says 60% of the displaced are children.
A deteriorating situation and the long distances between settlements for the displaced on the outskirts of Bangui, the capital, and poor roads, make relief efforts enormously difficult, he says.
Direct South Sudanese Peace Talks Delayed
Government and rebel delegations in South Sudan have delayed their first direct peace talks for a ceasefire, sources close to the process report.
On Friday, the representatives of the two parties agreed in their meeting with the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), to start their first face-to-face talks on Saturday.
However, separate meetings with the IGAD, which is mediating, continued in the capital to set the agenda to be followed, though there is no official information about this yet.
Opponents began talks here after an ultimatum issued by the IGAD.
They held preliminary meetings on Friday, but the delay of contacts decreases hopes of a rapid truce.
Both the South Sudanese Minister of Information, Michael Makuei, and the spokesperson for the insurgents, Yohanis Musa Pouk, state that they will not meet until an agenda is adopted.
Violence broke out in South Sudan on Dec. 15 after an alleged attempted coup d'état by former vice president Reik Machar, according to the president, Salva Kiir.
Machar denies the allegations and states that, with this argument, the president seeks to eliminate his political rivals, but then, later statements from his underground shelter called for the overthrow of Kiir.
According to estimates, in the 3 weeks after the uprising in Juba, capital of South Sudan, about a thousand people died and over 80,000 are now displaced.
TURKEY AND IRAN TALK PEACE
The foreign ministers of Iran and Turkey are to discuss issues of mutual interests and the latest developments in Syria, as well as ways to find a peaceful solution to the crisis there.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif is on an official visit to Turkey today (Saturday) at the invitation of his Turkish counterpart Ahmet Davutoglu, says Iran’s Foreign Ministry.
Syria has been gripped by deadly unrest since 2011. According to reports, Western powers and their regional allies - especially Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey - are supporting militants operating inside the country.
According to the UN, over 100,000 people have been killed and millions displaced in attacks gripping Syria, for almost 3 years.
On Oct 28th, Davutoglu described prospects for further bilateral relations between Ankara and Tehran as “very positive.”
He said Turkey-Iran relations have witnessed a great leap over the past 10 years in light of the goodwill and brotherly interactions between officials from the two countries, noting that there is still potential for stronger mutual ties.
Children deliberately targeted in CAR clashes: Aid workers
Aid workers say children are now deliberate targets of armed gangs in the violence-hit Central African Republic (CAR).
Ombretta Pasotti, who coordinates work by the Italian NGO Emergency at the pediatric hospital in CAR's capital, Bangui:
“Before now, children were collateral victims, but today some of them are targeted directly.”
“Some children are victims of stray bullets and shell fragments," Pasotti said, adding, some have also been wounded "by chance."
The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) had earlier said in a December 30 statement that assaults on children “have sunk to a vicious new low, with at least two children beheaded, and one of them mutilated, in the violence that has gripped the capital.”
UNICEF added that in all it had confirmed 16 killings of children since December 5, while 60 more youths were injured in clashes.
Meanwhile, the UN agency's representative in CAR, Souleymane Diabete, said that besides “being directly targeted in atrocious revenge attacks,” more children are being recruited by armed gangs.
The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said in a Friday statement that a total of 935,000 people have so far fled their homes because of the ongoing clashes in the African country.
The Central African Republic spiraled into chaos in March last year when Seleka fighters overthrew President Francois Bozizé and brought Michel Djotodia to power. Bozizé fled the country after his ouster.
On September 13, 2013, Djotodia dissolved the Seleka coalition. Some of the rebels later joined the country’s regular army while some defied.
France invaded CAR on December 5, 2013, after the UN Security Council adopted a resolution giving the African Union and Paris the go-ahead to send troops to the country.
MORE NATO DEAD
A joint NATO-Afghan military base has come under attack in Eastern Afghanistan with one NATO soldier killed in the assault, Press TV reports.
The Taliban militants say they have attacked the base belonging to the US-led forces in Afghanistan’s eastern province of Nangarhar.
The militants reportedly attacked the base, situated in Nangarhar’s Ghazni Khail village, with a car bomb on Saturday. Gunfire was heard after the blast.
The NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said one soldier was killed in the assault, without giving further details. Afghan sources said all six assailants were killed.
Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid claims responsibility for the attack in a statement.
On December 18, 2013, militants carried out another attack on a US base in Nangarhar.
NATO has stationed more than 84,000 troops in war-torn Afghanistan.
The United States and its allies invaded Afghanistan in 2001 as part of Washington’s so-called war on terror. That removed the Taliban from power, but the country is still gripped by insecurity.
MB AND ISLAMISTS STILL DETERMINED
At least fourteen people have been killed in fresh
clashes between security forces and supporters
of ousted president, Mohamed Morsi, across Egypt.
The clashes broke out when security forces used
tear gas, bird shot and live gunfire to disperse
large crowds of angry protesters.
The casualties have been reported from the cities
of Cairo, Alexandria, Suez, Ismailia, and Fayoum.
Similar violence has been also reported from Assiut
and northern Sinai.
Security forces also rounded up a large number of
protesters across the violence-wracked country.
Demonstrators were out joining rallies after Friday
prayers to demand an end to military rule and
voice opposition to the new constitution.
The pro-Morsi group, known as Egypt Anti-Coup
Alliance, had urged its supporters to stage
mass rallies across the country.
Egypt has been tense ahead of Morsi’s trial
and an upcoming referendum on a new
Mohamed Morsi is set to go on a new trial.
Judicial sources said Thursday that the Cairo
Appeals Court has set January 28, 2014, as
the date for Morsi's new trial.
The Muslim Brotherhood and its allied groups
have also pledged to boycott the constitution
referendum set to be held this month.
UN: 2013 deadliest for Iraq since 2008
A total of 8,868 people, including 7,818 civilians, have been killed in violent attacks across Iraq in 2013, the United Nations reports – the highest annual death toll there in five years.
In December alone, at least 759 Iraqis were killed and another 1,345 wounded in terrorist attacks and violence, reports the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNIRAQ), which monitors the impact of armed violence and terrorism on Iraqi civilians.
May was the most violent month, according to the mission’s statistics, with a total of 3,154 civilian casualties (including civilian police), of whom, 963 people were killed and 2,191 wounded.
Since April 2013, the monthly number of civilians killed and injured has remained above 1,700.
According to UNIRAQ, Baghdad was the worst affected area in Iraq last year for civilian casualties, with 809 (including 254 killed), followed by Nineva (331 casualties), Salahadin (262 casualties) and Diyala (260 casualties).
“This is a sad and terrible record which confirms once again the urgent need for the Iraqi authorities to address the roots of violence to curb this infernal circle,” said the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Iraq (SRSG), Nikolay Mladenov.
He condemns “the level of indiscriminate violence in Iraq” and called on Iraqi leaders “to take the necessary steps to prevent terrorist groups to fuel the sectarian tensions which contribute to the weakening of the social fabric of society.”
The mission chief also expresses his concerns about the situation in Anbar province, where Islamist militants stormed police stations on Wednesday, seizing weapon caches and freeing over 100 prisoners.
SOUTH SUDAN PEACE TALKS START
The warring parties in South Sudan have opened ceasefire negotiations Friday at a hotel in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Ethiopia's Foreign Ministry confirms the start of the talks, adding that the regional bloc helping to broker an agreement, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), is “committed to supporting it in any way possible.”
“We are participating in talks because we want peace for our people, even though the rebel groups have not accepted a cessation of hostilities,” South Sudan’s government said in a statement Thursday night.
Violence broke out in S. Sudan on December 15th, 2013, after President Salva Kiir accused Riek Machar, a former vice president, of attempting to stage a coup.
Fighting has since spread across the oil-rich but impoverished country, with the rebels capturing several areas.
Top UN aid official in South Sudan, Toby Lanzer, warns now that government troops and rebels must protect civilians and aid workers.
“All parties to the conflict have a responsibility to make sure that civilians are spared from the fighting.”
“We call on all parties to facilitate aid agencies’ access to civilians, and to protect and respect humanitarian activities,” the UN humanitarian coordinator adds.
Lanzer says that almost three weeks of violence has forced around 200,000 people to leave their homes and “affected many hundreds of thousands of people indirectly.”
The governor of Turkey’s southern province of Hatay has prevented police from investigating a Syria-bound lorry carrying weapons.
According to a report by Turkey’s Hurriyet newspaper, a Turkish prosecutor in charge of terror-related issues asked for a police search of the lorry, but a note from Mehmet Celalettin Lekesiz’s office blocked this and the vehicle continued on its route.
The border guards, who had stopped the Syria-bound lorry, were also removed from their posts, the report says.
Opposition Hatay lawmaker Hasan Akgol, with Turkey’s Republican People’s Party (CHP), also confirms that the law enforcement bodies did not implement the prosecutor’s order to search the lorry, after they received Lekesiz’s note.
“Weapons and ammunition are being sent to Syria under the control of the government and MIT (National Intelligence Organization) and no one is stopping it,” Akgol says.
Refik Eryilmaz, another CHP Hatay deputy, says arms are being sent to al-Qaeda-linked groups, including the so-called Free Syrian Army, on a daily basis - with the knowledge of Ankara.
Other reports indicate that the lorry personnel had been on an MIT mission.
Conflicting stories about the Syria-bound lorry have led opposition lawmakers to take the case to the Turkish parliament.
Umut Oran and Sezgin Tanrikulu, deputy leaders of the CHP, have asked PM Erdogan to explain the lorry’s cargo and destination.
Turkey has been a key supporter of Takfiris fighting the Syrian government since the start of foreign-sponsored unrest in the Arab country in March 2011.
Turkey Seizes Arms in Lorry Bound for Syria
Turkish security forces seized a lorry
loaded with weapons bound for Syria and
arrested 3 people, including a Syrian,
local media reported yesterday (Thurs).
Acting on a tipoff, security forces on Wednesday
stopped the lorry in the southern province of Hatay
on the Syrian border, Hurriyet newspaper reports.
A significant quantity of ammunition and weapons
were discovered in the lorry, whose drivers claimed
they were carrying aid on behalf of the pro-Islamic
Humanitarian Relief Foundation (IHH).
IHH dismisses the allegations as "slanderous".
"Our organization has nothing to do with this
case," a spokesperson for the relief group
In December, local media reported that Turkey
had shipped 47 tons of weapons to the militants
since June. But Defense Minister Ismet Yilmaz
denied weapons of war had been sent to Syria,
saying only hunting rifles had been exported.
Maliki: Army Won’t Withdraw from
Anbar, Will Deploy Reinforcements
Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has reversed
a decision to withdraw troops from tense cities
in Anbar province, and will instead deploy
reinforcements, state television reports.
“We will not withdraw the army” and “we will
send additional forces”, it quotes him as saying
in response to what it says were requests from
residents and the government of the province,
west of Baghdad.
Maliki had announced Tuesday that soldiers would
withdraw from Anbar cities and hand over control
to local police, in an apparent bid to calm tensions
that broke out between security forces and militants
as the camp near the provincial capital of Ramadi
was closed on Monday.
Over a dozen people have died in the fighting,
which continued for a third day yesterday.
Militants freed over 100 prisoners, clashed
with security forces and burned police
stations, police say.
In Ramadi, security forces clashed sporadically
with militants, who burned four police stations
in the city, an AFP journalist says.
The journalist saw four torched police stations
in Ramadi, and says two military vehicles were
The war in Afghanistan is the most unpopular war in US history, an opinion poll reveals.
Less than one in five people support the war in Afghanistan, says CNN / ORC International, which found that 82% of those questioned oppose it, and only 17% support it.
Aggression against Iraq had 69% opposed, and the Vietnam war was opposed by 60%, an earlier investigation by CNN showed.
The study also shows that only a third believe that the US has won the Afghan war and 57% say that the situation is "bad" for US troops.
A slim majority favors Pentagon troops leaving by December 2014, the official date set by the White House, at a time when the West is pressuring the authorities in Kabul to sign agreements allowing for a US troop presence beyond next year.
The survey covered 35 thousand people and was conducted between 16 & 19 December, with a margin of error of plus or minus 3%.
ZIONISTS THREATEN TO CUT ALL STATE FUNDS TO UNIVERSITIES JOINING ISRAEL BOYCOTT
Two New York legislators say they are introducing a bill to strip state aid from universities that take part in a recent movement to boycott Israeli academic centres.
State Senator Jeff Klein, a Bronx Democrat, and Assemblyperson Dov Hikind, a Brooklyn Democrat who is also a former member of the Jewish Defense League (classified as a “terrorist group” by the FBI in 2001), say they want to cut off al;l state aid to universities affiliated with the American Studies Association’s movement to boycott Israeli institutions.
Earlier this month, members of the ASA overwhelmingly voted to ban Israeli universities from collaborations with their campuses.
The organization says the reason for its decision is that the Israeli insitutions are “a party” to policies “that violate human rights” -- as Israel’s “violation of international law and UN resolutions” continues and the “impact of the Israeli occupation on Palestinian scholars and students” is now well-documented.
“The American Studies Association is carrying on a long and proud tradition of American academics by engaging in an academic boycott - much like many professors did during apartheid South Africa,” Michael Shallcross, a member of Students for Justice in Palestine at Temple University in Philadelphia, says in an interview.
However, the move, which is part of a larger international effort to win boycotts of Israeli institutions, has angered some US politicians ...both at state and federal level.
Rep. Eliot Engel (D-New York) has urged the ASA to end the boycott, saying he was surprised by the organization’s decision.
And now, two pro-Israel Democrats in New York’s state legislature, Klein and Hikind, are trying to cut state aid to universities affiliated with the movement.
“[It] is a shameless attempt at censorship by powerful Zionist politicians in New York State by cutting off economic life lines that make higher education possible,” Shallcross says.
The ASA is the largest and oldest association involved in interdisciplinary studies of US culture and history.
GENEVA TALKS "SATISFACTORY"
Tehran and six world powers have ended their expert-level nuclear talks in Geneva.
The previous meeting of experts was held on December 19-22 in Geneva. The new round was aimed at developing mechanisms to put into force the interim deal struck between the two sides in late November.
PROFIT BEFORE RESPECT FOR LIFE
An inquiry reveals that contractors at Japan’s crippled nuclear plant in Fukushima, recruit homeless people for "clean-up" operations.
The investigation found that the contractors use homeless people to work in dangerous decontamination projects with salaries less than the minimum wage (USD 6.50 per hour).
“We are an easy target for recruiters,” says 57-year-old homeless man, Shizuya Nishiyama, who has been recruited to scrub radioactive hotspots at Fukushima.
He says some labour brokers “say to us, ‘Are you looking for work? Are you hungry?’ And if we have not eaten anything, they then offer to find us a job.”
Yasuhiro Aoki, a Baptist pastor and leader of a homeless support group Sendai Night Patrol Group, says:
“Without any information about potential dangers, many homeless people are just put into dormitories - and the fees for lodging and food automatically docked from their wages. Then, at the end of the month, they are left with no pay at all.”
A 2011 law that regulates decontamination, puts the Japanese Environment Ministry in charge of managing the clean-up mission.
However, the same law loosely controls contractors, making it possible for them to win radiation removal contracts without observing the basic rights of the workers.
Top contractors, including Kajima Corp, Taisei Corp and Shimizu Corp are responsible for monitoring the hiring, safety records and suitability of hundreds of small firms involved in Fukushima’s decontamination.
Officials say the clean-up operation at Fukushima plant is slow, due to a shortage of workers.
The Fukushima plant has leaked radiation into the air, the soil and the Pacific Ocean, ever since it was hit by a nine-magnitude earthquake and a devastating tsunami, on March 11, 2011.
The tremor triggered a nuclear crisis by knocking out power to the cooling systems and caused a reactor meltdown at the nuclear power plant, on Japan’s northeast coast.
Over 18,000 people were left dead or missing, in the disaster.
DING-DONG FROM ISRAEL & LEBANON
Two rockets were fired from Lebanon at northern Israel, causing no injuries or damage on the ground.
The Israeli military say they responded with artillery fire at the source of rocket attacks.
The Lebanese media concurs that Israeli tanks shelled the border area from which rockets were fired.
The Israeli-Lebanese border has been mostly quiet since the 2006 war between Israel and the Lebanese militant movement, Hezbollah.
But lately tension sparked after a Lebanese army sniper killed an Israeli soldier across the border.
In Israel this weekend, black migrants march through Tel Aviv in protest at Israel's policy of deportation.
China's $5 billion Christmas gift beats US economic sabotage
China has transferred $5 billion in credits to Venezuela under a deal reached in September, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro says.
The money will be used for an ambitious housing project, Gran Mision Vivienda, he says. It will also be used for transportation, satellite technology and the military, he adds.
Chinese money is funding 201 different projects in Venezuela. The country has received some $36 billion from Beijing since 2007, when a joint investment fund was established.
Thousands of Computer Experts and Hackers Gather in Germany
About 8,000 computer experts and activists are meeting in the German city of Hamburg at the annual congress of the Chaos Computer Club, the largest association of hackers in Europe.
Spying by the National Security Agency (NSA) and other US intelligence agencies is one of the main themes this year.
Experts in the field believe the revelations of the former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, have aroused much interest in the subject.
The Snowden factor does play a role in that, after the revelations of Snowden, many people realized that we have not exaggerated in recent years, admits activist Frank Rieger, of the association of hackers, in a press interview.
The Chaos Computer Club has long warned of a massive increase in state surveillance and a reduction of data protection.
As keynote speaker, organizers expect the participation of journalist Glen Greenwald via video.
Greenwald, a close associate of Snowden, published the first NSA documents in the UK newspaper, The Guardian.
In several speeches and meetings, computer experts and activists discussed the possible political and technical reaction to the massive US espionage services' actions.
EGYPT STRUGGLES FOR ITS SOUL
Heavy clashes erupted Saturday between riot police and anti-military protesters near al-Azhar university in Cairo.
Today, two more students are killed in raids on Cairo's al azhar.
Students were also attacked after Friday prayers as they protested against the army-backed government.
Several people have been injured as police fired tear gas and bird shot at students from al-Azhar University.
The students were demonstrating as part of a spreading protest movement in universities against the current interim authorities.
Egyptian universities have been the scene of violent protests in recent months after the start of the academic year in September.
Similar violence has also been reported from the city of Giza and the northern provinces of Beni Suef and Qena in Upper Egypt.
In Qena, several protesters were rounded up after police used force to break up their rally.
On Thursday, the interim government arrested 200 activists and Brotherhood members. It also threatened supporters of ousted president, Mohamed Morsi, with jail terms if they join rallies organized by the Muslim Brotherhood.
On Saturday a man was killed when he was shot directly in the face with tear gas, as plainclothes police and armed thugs have been seen attacking peaceful protesters.
Reports say that the coup leaders now warn that the mass arrests will continue and that death sentences will be pursued for those caught organising protests.
The main Islamic coalition calls for several days of mass protests.
Washington plays Russian roulette with missile defense
The ardently-pro US German daily, Bild Zeitung newspaper reported recently, that secret satellite imagery showed Iskander-M missiles stationed near the Polish border, and mainstream US and European media portrayed the Kaliningrad report as a confirmation of Russian aggression, and a return to the Cold War.
But William Engdahl, award-winning geopolitical analyst and strategic risk consultant, says the reports are attempts to disguise how the US is still trying to encircle Russia and China, so it can achieve "first strike" nuclear capacity.
What few in the West, outside a handful of military experts grasp, he writes, is that the US project to install so-called Ballistic Missile Defense missiles and special radar in Poland, the Czech Republic, Turkey and Bulgaria is a highly provocative act by Washington against Russia and risks putting the world on a hair-trigger to a nuclear war.
For Washington and the US military, Engdhal says, the Cold War never ended, and Washington's Missile Defense is "the most extreme provocation imaginable in a nuclear era."
Russia’s President Vladimir Putin said in 2007:
“NATO has put its frontline forces on our borders. It is obvious that NATO expansion does not bear any relation to the modernization of the Alliance itself or with ensuring security in Europe.
"On the contrary, it represents a serious provocation that reduces the level of mutual trust. And we have the right to ask: against whom is this expansion intended? And what happened to the assurances our western partners made after the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact?”
Putin continued then: “It is impossible to sanction the appearance of new, destabilizing high-tech weapons - a new area of confrontation, especially in outer space. Star wars is no longer a fantasy, it is a reality.
"In Russia’s opinion, the militarization of outer space could have unpredictable consequences for the international community, and provoke nothing less than the beginning of a nuclear era.”
“Plans to expand certain elements of the anti-missile defense system to Europe cannot help but disturb us. Who needs the next step of what would be, in this case, an inevitable arms race?”
In January 2007, shortly before Putin’s critical remarks in Munich, the Pentagon announced US plans to deploy an anti-ballistic missile defense system in Europe.
The Pentagon claimed that the deployment was aimed at protecting American and NATO installations against threats from enemies in the Middle East, explicitly Iran - and not from Russia.
This was greeted by Putin with open incredulity and contempt...
“As we say in Russia, it would be like using the right hand to reach the left ear.”
Now, some seven years later, even as Moscow has facilitated a diplomatic solution to both the Syrian and Iran entanglements of Washington, Washington has expanded that AMD ring around Russia to missile sites in Romania, Turkey and Bulgaria as well as Poland and the Czech Republic.
Crucial for grasping why Moscow refuses to accept the US missile deployment is what it would do to the balance of peace, stresses Engdhal.
On November 25th, Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov told the western media in Rome, “If the Iran deal is put into practice, the stated reason for the construction of the defense shield will no longer apply.”
But on December 16th, US Defense Secretary Hagel declared that the P5+1 Joint Plan of Action on Tehran’s nuclear program, “does not eliminate the need for US and European allies to continue implementing missile defense plans in Europe.”
Hagel went on to say, “NATO missile defense efforts pose no threat to Russia,” and urged that both sides continue consultations on future missile plans in Europe.
Hagel didn’t bother to explain why the Teheran agreement did not eliminate the US AMD “need”.
President Putin says now, “Iran’s nuclear program once served as the key reason for deploying missile shields. And what do we have now? Iran’s nuclear problem is fading, while the missile shield remains in place. Moreover, it is still developing.”
Engdhal says "To dispense with niceties, Hagel is simply lying."
As the former head of President Reagan’s anti-missile defense Pentagon program, Colonel Robert Bowman told Engdhal in a telephone interview in 2009, that developing a US Anti-Missile Defense “shield” around Russia, far from being defensive, is offensive in the extreme. Bowman calls the AMD deployment, “the missing link to a First Strike”.
The US is pursuing the possibility of nuclear war, Engdhal says, with its only present nuclear rival, Russia, as ‘thinkable!’ This is something that is really and truly ‘mad’.
The first nation with a nuclear missile ‘defense’ shield (AMD) would de facto have ‘first strike ability,’ because they would be able to cripple the other’s nuclear retaliation strike by knocking the missiles out of the air.
Once the US AMD is up & operational around Russia, the temptation by some in the Pentagon and White House (not that any mentally unstable person would ever occupy the White House), to launch a nuclear first strike against Russia’s nuclear arsenal would be overwhelming, William Engdahl says.
He adds that nuclear “primacy” has been the Pentagon’s dream since the 1950’s.
In a March 2006 article in the leading US foreign policy magazine, Foreign Affairs, two senior US military analysts made remarks to this effect: if US nuclear modernization were really aimed at rogue states or terrorists, the country’s nuclear force would not need the additional thousand ground-burst warheads it will gain from the W-76 upgrade program. The current and future US nuclear force, in other words, seems designed to carry out a pre-emptive disarming strike against Russia or China.
It’s little wonder then that Russia has deployed, or is about to deploy, Iskander missiles and take other measures, to counter Washington’s mad AMD deployment, remarks Engdahl wryly.
THREE NATO SOLDIERS KILLED IN AFGHAN WAR
Three soldiers NATO-led ISAF coalition force soldiers were killed in a suicide car bombing in Kabul today (Friday), coalition forces confirm.
"Three International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) service members died following a suicide vehicle-born improvised explosive device attack in Kabul, Afghanistan today", ISAF says in a statement.
After the attack the Taliban insurgent group claimed responsibility for the incident.
At least six Afghan civilians were also wounded in the attack which occurred at around 1:00 p.m. local time (0830 GMT Friday) in Pul-e-Charkhi road which is also called Jalalabad road, Kabul's police Chief states.
The ISAF statement did not disclose the nationalities of the victims, under the ISAF policy.
The police say that one armored military vehicle was completely destroyed and several other civilian and military cars were wrecked, in the strong explosion in an area where many military centres and local construction companies are located.
The blast took place when the convoy was close to Camp Phoenix, a NATO base involved in the training of Afghan security forces, witness Khoja Ahmad told Xinhua news agency.
Several nearby houses and shops were also damaged in the incident.
US Biological War Plans Threaten Russia, Warns Expert
The head of the Ural Branch of the Russian Institute of Strategic Studies (RISS), Dmitri Popov, today denounces a biological lab built by the Pentagon in Kazakhstan, which threatens Russia and Central Asia's security, reports Prensa Latina.
According to the scientist, that lab, as well as other similar facilities built along the borders with Russia, has a double use and fulfils biological war goals.
The creation of the lab in Almaty on the base of an old Soviet research center for preventing plagues started in 2010 with the financial support of the US Department of Defense.
The expert recalls similar Pentagon facilities operating in other countries which are out of national control, work under a secret regime, and are headed by military or intelligence service agents.
Those facilities are run by foreign staff, including employees who have diplomatic immunity, and are outside local civil health authorities' control, adds the expert.
The Prensa Latina reporters say they've been told that the Almaty lab will store, under high security, pathogens inherited by Kazakhstan from the Soviet military biological program and will study defense methods against them.
The lab is expected to start operating in 2015 and will work in collaboration with a new early warning station against outbreaks of diseases in Central Asia.
That station will be opened in April 2014 in the southern province of Zhambyl, in Kazakhstan, and has US funding valued at $5.6 million.
UN SHAMES ISRAEL
The UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) for Palestinian refugees, today condemns Israel's demolition of Palestinian Bedouin dwellings in the West Bank, and calls for an immediate halt.
"UNRWA condemns the latest demolitions in the West Bank, which displaced 68 people, the most recent of which occurred on Christmas Eve," spokesperson Chris Gunness says in a statement.
“The demolitions took place in Ein Ayoub near Ramallah and Fasayil al-Wusta near Jericho in the Jordan valley, with 61 persons displaced in Ein Ayoub, and seven persons, all refugees, displaced in Fasayil al-Wusta," Gunness says.
He adds that 32 of those displaced were children, "including a five year old girl who is paralyzed from the waist down."
“In addition, some 750 head of sheep and goats are without shelter at this crucial lambing season,” he says.
Gunness says at least 663 Palestinian buildings - including 259 homes - have been demolished, and 1,103 Palestinians have been displaced in the West Bank and East Jerusalem this year.
The spokesperson urges Israel to obey international laws and halt demolitions.
Israel maintains that it only dismantles buildings put up without permission. But Palestinians say that they are almost never granted permits.
The UN has continuously spoken out against demolitions in the West Bank. Early in December, the United Nations decried Israel’s decision to destroy over two dozen Palestinian properties in the West Bank, issuing a statement accusing Israel of pushing the same Palestinian families out of their homes, in less than two weeks.
Dozens of NGOs have asked Israel not to continue the demolitions. Palestinian leaders maintain that resettlement efforts must cease if there is ever to be any chance of peace with Israel.
“Demolitions often occur to facilitate the expansion of illegal Israeli settlements, with 60% of demolitions occurring in Palestinian communities close to settlement zones,” Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Oxfam, and other rights groups declared in a joint statement earlier in December.
KILLING THE TRUTH ON 9/11
The Israeli lobby in the US has been trying to “suppress” a revealing 28-page section of a classified Congressional report on the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks that reportedly points to Israeli involvement in 9/11, says an intelligence analyst, Press TV reports.
The classified Congressional Investigative Report on 9/11 contains a section called “Specific Sources of Foreign Support,” where 28 pages have been “‘butchered’ by the White House on the personal orders of ex US President Bush,” Gordon Duff wrote in an article for Press TV on Wednesday.
In the redacted report presented to the Congress, “an estimated 5-10,000 words were omitted” from the noted section, “with page after page of dotted lines replacing text.”
The US analyst points to attempts by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the powerful Israeli lobby in the US, to suppress the pieces of information in the report, which reportedly identified involvement by Israeli intelligence in planning and carrying out the 9/11 attacks.
“This is only the most recent of revelations that AIPAC has managed to suppress through pressuring Congress and its powerful assets in the press,” Duff wrote.
“What is increasingly clear, is that many of AIPAC’s allies in Washington had access to the non-redacted report.”
On September 11, 2001, a series of coordinated attacks were carried out in the US, leaving 3,000 people dead.
According to the official account by the US, during the 9/11 attacks, 19 “al-Qaeda terrorists” hijacked four commercial passenger jet airliners and crashed two of them into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City, killing everyone on board and many others in the buildings.
The hijackers crashed a third airliner into the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, just outside Washington, D.C.
Following the attacks, the US government set up the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, publicly referred to as the 9/11 Commission, on November 27, 2002, “to prepare a full and complete account of the circumstances surrounding the September 11 attacks.”
“An entire administration, leaders in Congress and the Pentagon, the CIA, NSA and a dozen other organizations, all knew what was in the congressional report,” Duff wrote in his article, adding, “They all lied to the 9/11 Commission. They all ordered measures to suppress freedom at home and to butcher hundreds of thousands around the world, kidnap and torture thousand more, all based on lies.”
The US, under the presidency of Bush, then attacked Afghanistan to remove the Taliban regime, which the US accused of harboring “al-Qaeda” terrorists involved in the 9/11 attacks.
“Often we hear it asked, ‘How could thousands be involved in a conspiracy so heinous?’ We now stand ready to answer. The time has come to ask,” Duff says.
The global US military campaign, or “war on terror,” was modified under President Barack Obama, to killer drone attacks on several different countries.
POST - SOVIET ALLIANCES GROW
Russian President Vladimir Putin says the new post- Soviet alliance with Belarus and Kazakhstan is set to launch in 2015, with hopes Ukraine will join.
“Government representatives of the troika (Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus)...have developed the draft of the institutional part of the Eurasian Economic Union agreement,” Putin says.
“This document determines the international legal status, organizational frameworks, the objectives and mechanisms of how the union will operate starting on January 1, 2015,” Putin adds.
The Russian president promises that the new union will provide a source of growth for all involved, hinting that Ukraine will also join the alliance.
Last month, Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych refused to sign a cooperation deal with the European Union, deciding to go with an economic and trade agreement with Moscow instead.
Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Leonid Kozhara says that Kiev and Moscow intend to continue to “coordinate foreign policies.”
Putin earlier announced the creation of a post-Soviet economic alliance that could one day be joined by Turkey and India.
The union would replace the Eurasian Customs Union in an answer to the 28-nation EU bloc.
UN DEMANDS EGYPT COUP LEADERS RELEASE YOUTHS
The United Nations has demanded the release of three leading anti-Mubarak activists jailed for organizing protests against Egypt’s interim government.
Ravina Shamdasani, spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, calls for the "immediate and unconditional release of all prisoners detained solely in connection with peaceful protests…”
"Participation in peaceful protests and criticizing the government should not be grounds for detention or prosecution," she adds.
On Sunday, Ahmed Maher, Ahmed Douma and Mohamed Adel were sentenced to three years in prison as part of a crackdown on critics of the interim government. The three were also ordered to pay a fine of 50,000 Egyptian pounds ($7,100 or 5,200 Euros) each.
The activists were arrested in November after taking part in a protest against a new law that restricts demonstrations.
They are key members of the April 6 Youth Movement that spearheaded the 2011 uprising against Egypt’s long-time dictator Hosni Mubarak, which led to his ouster.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has also criticized the convictions, saying they were "contrary to the spirit of Egypt's revolution nearly three years ago."
The activists are the first to be jailed under the new law enacted last month by the military-installed government, which states that public gatherings of more than 10 people require police authorization.
Tensions continue to run high, since Egypt’s first democratically-elected president, Mohamed Morsi, was ousted by the army in early July.
The military also dissolved parliament, suspended the constitution, and appointed the head of the Supreme Constitutional Court, Adly Mahmoud Mansour, as the country's "interim" president.
AFGHANISTAN: "MISSION ACCOMPLISHED"?
The UK’s Ministry of Defense (MoD) has confirmed the death of a soldier from the Royal Engineers in Afghanistan, raising the UK military’s death toll to 447.
“The serviceman was killed in action as a result of enemy fire whilst on operations east of Kabul,” the MoD says in a statement.
The unnamed soldier was believed to be a part of Special Forces on operation in an area a hundred miles from where UK troops are based in Helmand.
A spokesperson for the ministry says the soldier’s next of kin have been informed but have requested a period of grace before further details are released.
The soldier’s death comes a week after UK PM Cameron claimed UK forces will head home next year following the ‘success of the mission’ in Afghanistan.
The latest death is the 447th British soldier since the US-led war began in October 2001 under the pretext of combating terrorism.
Some 5,200 UK forces are stationed in Afghanistan, down from 9,000 at the beginning of the year.
The US-led invasion removed the Taliban from power, but Afghanistan remains insecure despite the presence of tens of thousands of foreign forces in the country.
The prolonged war, which has caused record-high civilian and military casualties, has become the longest military conflict in the US history.
The US announces today that it no longer insists on December 31st as the deadline for a security deal with Karzai's government. (Just as well!)
EGYPT's STUDENTS AGAINST COUP ARRESTS
Sources now say several students are injured and many others arrested in fresh clashes between Egyptian security forces and students in Cairo.
The students have been demonstrating as part of a spreading protest movement in universities against the current interim authorities.
The Egyptian security forces attacked students protesting against the military-backed government outside Cairo’s Ain Shams University, causing arrests and injuries, security sources say.
On Monday, Egyptian security forces used batons and fired tear gas at dozens of university students outside the campus while the students were trying protest at the nearby Defense Ministry building.
Students from al-Azhar University and the University of Cairo also staged similar protests to keep up the pressure on the military-backed government.
Egyptian universities have been scene of violent protests in recent months since the start of the academic year in September.
The fresh protests come after an Egyptian court handed down prison sentences to three of the country's prominent youth activists based on a controversial new protest law.
An alliance of Islamic groups in Egypt says it will boycott a referendum on the country’s new constitution to be held in mid-January, Press TV reports.
The Anti-Coup Alliance calls on the Egyptian people to boycott the referendum, which is scheduled by interim President Mansour for January 14-15.
“We took a unanimous decision that boycotting the so-called constitutional referendum is the best way to resist this military coup and we call on the free people of Egypt to follow suit,” says Imam Yousef of the National Alliance Supporting Legitimacy.
The alliance says it opposes the referendum since it is to be held by a government which has killed and detained numerous people since the ousting of Egypt’s first democratically- elected president, Mohamed Morsi, on July 3rd.
“We consider what happened on the third of July an illegitimate coup and thus any procedures based upon that are deemed illegal,” says another member of the alliance, Mohamed Abdel Latif, sec. general of Al-Wasat party.
The new constitution has been completed by a 50-member assembly selected by the Egyptian army-backed interim government.
The alliance says the new charter helps the Egyptian military tighten its grip on power and runs contrary to the objectives of the 2011 revolution that ended decades of despotism by dictator Hosni Mubarak.
Tensions in Egypt have been running high since Morsi's ouster by the military.
Hundreds of protesters, mostly Morsi supporters, have been killed or wounded since then.
DIVIDING AND RULING THE SUDAN
The South Sudanese government says it has lost control of the capital of a key oil-producing state to fighters loyal to rebel leader Riek Machar.
Colonel Philip Aguer, the South Sudanese military spokesperson, says Bentiu, capital of Unity state, is under the control of rebels.
"Bentiu is in the hands of a commander who has declared support for Machar," he says. "Bentiu is not in our hands."
Machar, former vice president, said Saturday that his troops had captured Unity state and have control of much of the country.
Fighting between troops loyal to Kiir, who is from the Dinka ethnic group, and the opposition leader Machar, a Nuer, erupted around Juba on December 15th.
US President Barack Obama said on Sunday that Washington would take action if needed after US forces were attacked in South Sudan.
The UN and other outside powers, such as France, are suggesting more troops are needed to stop an ethnic civil war.
S. Sudan gained independence in July 2011 after its people overwhelmingly voted in a referendum for a split from the North.
The government in Juba is grappling with corruption, unrest and conflict in the deeply impoverished oil-rich nation, left devastated by decades of war.
CHILE MOVES FORWARD
The Citizen Left party, one of seven political groups that make up the New Majority pact, has decided to be at President-elect Michelle Bachelet’s disposal as she composes the new Broad Left Chilean Government.
40 years after the first democratically elected socialist President, Allende, was killed by US- backed fascists, Chile has endured, and the coup backers and torturers are now reviled and/or in prison.
In a national assembly held this weekend, attended by over 170 delegates from all regions of the country, the Citizen Left party unanimously approved supporting Bachelet and her government, with a view to work and fight for structural transformations that can help make her program come true.
The participants to the assembly also agreed on the need to transform the New Majority into an historic, long-lasting strategic block for the next government to undertake the required fundamental changes in Chilean society.
"The New Majority is a force in construction, a diverse force, with which the Left must collaborate, along with the alliance of the Communist Party and the Social Broad Movement", states one of the agreements.
This collaboration should work for the force to have advanced guidance, and allow Chile to move to more democracy and social justice.
"We intend to change Chile", president of the Citizens Left, Victor Osorio, tells Prensa Latina, after stressing that the party fully intends to see that the program of the New Majority and of Michelle Bachelet, materialises.
Feasts and parties were common Sunday, as it marked both the shortest day, & the onset in the Northern hemisphere, of four months of freezing Winter, when no-one knew who would die of hunger and cold.
Today UNWRA warns of the refugees in the Middle East - and especially in Gaza - who face a similar fate - if nothing is done.
UNWRA was founded in 1949, and for over 60 years, has been plagued by harassment, intimidation, and countless conspiracies, to shut it down.
These efforts are still being waged by an international Zionist lobby which aims to “put it out of its misery” as Israeli PM Netanyahu recently demanded of the US Congress.
UNWRA needs help, not conspiracies to destroy it, as the Palestinians this year face increased attempts to destroy their morale & any ability to withstand Israeli settler, drone and army attacks.
BELOW IS A SHORT EXTRACT FROM AN OPINION PIECE BY FRANKLIN LAMB:
Winter storm Alexa, the fiercest storm to hit Gaza and the West Bank in over 100 years, is still wreaking havoc and bringing misery to thousands.
Since the 19th of December, some 40,000 people in Gaza have been driven from their homes due to extreme flooding. The situation is exacerbated by a fuel crisis that has left people without power for up to 21 hours a day and forced raw sewage to flow through the streets.
People’s lives and health are at grave risk. Gaza's Hamas government says 4,306 people have been evacuated to schools and other centres used as makeshift shelters, in just the past four days.
The strip’s 1.8 million people, trying to survive in one of the most densely populated tracts on earth, have also endured blackouts of around 12 hours a day, since the lone power plant was switched off last month, due to a fuel shortage.
The territory lacks much basic civil infrastructure and lives under an Egyptian-Israeli blockade which curbs imports of fuel, building supplies & basic goods.
Reports from UNRWA staff indicate that conditions are worsening due to severe Israeli restrictions on the camps.
For instance, emergency responders cannot reconnect power lines downed due to the heavy snow, and the populace has little access to basic necessities such as running water.
The crisis is deepening, and the problems are similar in virtually all of the vulnerable refugee camps. People face severe power outages, while some in the West Bank also face systematic attacks by the Israeli army.
TO READ THE WHOLE ARTICLE PLEASE PAST THIS INTO YOUR BROWSER:-
Saudi Arabia has announced a joint Gulf force of 100,000 troops with a unified military command.
“There will be a unified command of around 100,000 members, God willing. I hope it will happen soon, and the National Guard is ready for anything that is asked of it,” the Minister of the National Guard, Prince Miteb Bin Abdullah, announces, the Saudi Press Agency reports.
The prince stresses the need for unity among the Gulf’s monarchs to display power in the region, and claims that the new force will boost the security, defense and economies of members.
Last week Saudi Arabia and its Gulf neighbours, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Oman, Bahrain and Qatar, at the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) in Kuwait City, agreed to create a joint military command and tasked the Joint Defense Council to implement these measures.
The GCC also agreed to create a Gulf Academy for Strategic and Security Studies, to be hosted in the United Arab Emirates.
This will include a shared police force.
Ratifying the draft resolution for establishing the police force, the GCC Supreme Council stressed that “the new body will boost security and help expand anti-terror co-operation and co-ordination among member states.”
Earlier in December, GCC states approved founding a unified military command structure to tackle "threats to the Gulf region".
GCC Joint Military Command will be based in Riyadh.
Last week’s communiqué said that the decision is being taken as “part of the steps and efforts aiming to reinforce the security and stability of the GCC countries and to establish a common military system to achieve collective security.”
NATO pressing on SoFA for post-2014
NATO has begun negotiating a "SoFA" (Status of Forces Agreement) with Afghanistan, without waiting until the Karzai government signs any security deal with the US, the Pentagon and NATO announce now.
NATO Sec. General Anders Fogh Rasmussen confirms that negotiations have already begun between NATO's senior civilian representative, Maurits Jochems and Afghan national security adviser, Rangin Spanta.
“I welcome the start of these talks today... while stressing that the NATO SoFA will not be concluded or signed until the signature of the Bilateral Security Agreement between the governments of Afghanistan and the US,” Rasmussen says in a statement.
NATO’s chief adds that SOFA is vital for NATO’s “mission to train, advise and assist” the Afghan army and police after 2014.
The alliance’s decision demonstrates “the international community's willingness to support Afghanistan after 2014,” Pentagon spokesperson Rear Admiral John Kirby says in a statement.
“But, as both the NATO Secretary General and Secretary Hagel have made clear, the Alliance won't finalize their agreement with the Bilateral Security Agreement still hanging in the balance.”
Stating that the US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel is “pleased” with the development, Kirby stresses that the “message of the US and its allies in Europe is clear: the Bilateral Security Agreement should be signed without any more delay.”
NATO’s declared objective in Afghanistan for 84,000 soldiers, 60,000 of whom are US troops, “is to enable the Afghan authorities to provide effective security across the country and ensure that the country can never again be a safe haven for terrorists.”
Other commentators claim that gas, rare earth metals and opium, as well as geo-political control, are the real reasons for US/NATO's desire to keep troops there.
The alliance plans to leave a "training and advisory mission", expected to number 8,000 to 12,000 soldiers, after 2014.
Earlier this week NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe, US Air Force General Philip Breedlove, said that if Afghanistan fails to sign a new security pact, NATO will start planning a complete withdrawal by early next spring.
Breedlove also stated that planning for the last rotation of forces would need to happen in April, and that the decision on whether to leave a training force or go to a “zero option” of pulling out all its forces would have to be taken then. “That timeline I don't think is well understood by President Karzai,” Breedlove said.
The US has long been negotiating the signing of a security agreement with Afghanistan. But so far Karzai has stalled the process, saying it can wait for the April presidential elections and should also depend on US willingness to help restart a peace process with the Taliban and stop raiding Afghan homes.
WHAT GOES AROUND...
Families of the victims of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks have celebrated a federal court's ruling that allows relatives of people who died in the attacks to sue Saudi Arabia.
The lawsuit states that much of the funding for the al-Qaeda terrorists involved in the attacks on the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon came from Saudi Arabia.
On Thursday, a three-judge federal panel of the 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan, New York reversed a lower court ruling in 2002 that had found Saudi Arabia immune from lawsuits.
"I'm ecstatic. For 12 years we've been fighting to expose the people who financed those bastards," says William Doyle, the father of Joseph Doyle, 25, a Cantor-Fitzgerald employee who was killed in the North Tower of the World Trade Centre.
"Christmas has come early to the 9/11 families. We're going to have our day in court," he says.
The complaint, filed a decade ago by the Philadelphia firm Cozen O'Connor, accuses the Saudi government and members of the royal family of bankrolling al-Qaeda operations.
“This opinion is eminently correct and will give 9/11 victims their day in court,” says Stephen Cozen, a partner at the law firm.
Investigative journalists and independent researchers who have investigated the 9/11 attacks say the USA has covered up the kingdom’s involvement.
“The dust has not entirely settled over the causes of 9/11 but the heavy hand of our good friends, the Saudis, played a major role in that and it was covered up from the get-go,” Bill Jones, the Washington chief for Executive Intelligence Review, tells Press TV.
He suggests that the US intelligence services may have been involved in the attacks "through their relations with the Saudis."
US MIGHT FLY
The US may have to fly military equipment out of Afghanistan at an additional cost of $1 billion, since the land route through Pakistan has been blocked by anti-US acts in Pakistan, officials say.
US officials, on condition of anonymity, say flying the military equipment out of Afghanistan to a port would cost five to seven times as much as it does to truck it through Pakistan, AP reports.
An unnamed defense official says sending the cargo through routes in Pakistan will cost around $5 billion and flying the equipment to ports in the Middle East would cost about $6 billion.
Around one hundred lorries are at the border, and hundreds more are loaded and kept in compounds waiting to leave Afghanistan as dozens of Pakistani protesters have gathered on the overland route.
The blockade comes over a week after Islamabad officials promised US Secretary of Defense Hagel that they would take “immediate action”.
The protesters, furious at US drone attacks in Pakistan, say the assaults have killed thousands of innocent civilians and left their families in endless mental trauma.
The demonstrators gather daily at a tollbooth on the outskirts of the city of Peshawar, in Pakistan’s northern province of Khyber Paktunkhwa.
All traffic going into the tribal areas and on to the Torkham crossing must pass through the tollbooth.
Demonstrators stop and check container lorries going into Afghanistan to make sure they are not carrying supplies for US-led foreign forces.
“We will continue this sit-in until there is a good decision on the drones,” says Fayaz Ahmed Khalid, political organizer for 'Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf'. “It’s for ourselves, for our country.”
Despite the Pakistani government’s repeated calls on Washington to end the drone attacks, the US continues its strikes on the country’s tribal regions.
Washington claims its drone strikes target militants; however, casualty figures clearly indicate that Pakistani civilians are the main victims.
In it, Jenny Kassman interviews Ahmad Qara'een, a victim of the settlers' systematic, but ignored, violence against Palestinians.
Here's a snippet:
Ahmad tells me that it was seeing children forced to use the streets as their playground that prompted him to open the Wadi Hilweh information centre, a community centre, whose construction was funded by the German government and built in January 2012, by German volunteers.
The centre, now totally funded by various foreign NGOs, offers an impressive range of activities to keep children off the streets - music, art, mosaics, sewing, drama, languages, computing, table tennis, a successful football team and an eight-day summer camp, all free of charge.
For adults, it offers free legal advice, a 24-hour helpline, a place to meet and several workshops.
Far from encouraging this initiative, a month after it was built, the Jerusalem municipality ordered the demolition of the centre and, a few weeks later, it was bulldozed.
Ahmad describes his disappointment that the German government has made no response to the destruction of the centre.
However, with more funding and more volunteers from abroad, a new, bigger and better centre has been built on the same site.
It receives no funds from the Israeli government or the Jerusalem municipality.
"The only interest shown by the Israeli authorities," Ahmad adds, "is in the names of the teachers at the centre. So we rely a lot on foreign volunteers."
And what about the future? In the face of increasing attacks and demolitions, Ahmad is adamant that the people of Silwan will stand firm to protect their village, their lives and their families.
"It would help if an international committee could oversee all historical research and excavations taking place in east Jerusalem," he said. "But with 95 per cent of the Jewish Israeli population believing that Silwan should be renamed The City of David, such a development seems very unlikely."
So what remains to be done? Ahmad is hopeful for the long term.
"These lands have been occupied many times over the millennia," he tells me, "and each time the occupiers eventually have had to leave.
"Sooner or later the Israeli occupiers will leave too, but in the meantime, believe you me, we're staying put!"
OBAMA ON NUKES FAR WORSE THAN BUSH
A Russian military commander says Moscow is now drafting a plan to deploy rail-mounted nuclear missiles in response to the US’s Prompt Global Strike program.
Moscow's Institute of Thermal Technology is to draft the plan in the first half of next year, Lt. Gen. Sergei Karakaev, commander, of the Russian Strategic Missile Force, says today.
“A Defense Ministry report has been submitted to the president and the order has been given to develop the design of a rail-mounted missile system,” Karakaev says.
Rail-mounted missiles -- unlike their silo-based counterparts -- can be hidden and camouflaged among commercial rail traffic.
After analyzing the US system, the Russian official says “there is a need to reconsider the issue of a rail-mounted missile system given its increased survivability & the extent of our railway network.”
His statement follows remarks made by the Deputy PM Dmitry Rogozin last week, that Moscow reserves the right to use nuclear weapons, if a new US military strategy threatens its security.
Karakaev says the Prompt Global Strike program is “the most important new strategy being developed by the United States today.”
The United States Prompt Global Strike program involves a new fast-attack weapons platform capable of striking targets world-wide... in as little as an hour.
The US abandoned its plans for a rapid global strike capability under President George W. Bush, because of fears that the weapons could trigger an accidental nuclear war.
Russia amended its military doctrine years ago to allow for the possibility of using nuclear weapons in retaliation to a non-nuclear attack.
UK PROTESTS AGAINST ISRAEL's ETHNIC CLEANSING ON SATURDAY's 'DAY OF RAGE'
Across the UK, people demonstrated their opposition to the Israeli plan to forcibly remove 70,000 Palestinian Bedouins from their homes.
The proposal is triggering accusations of “ethnic cleansing” and “discrimination” from activists' groups.
The Prawer Plan will see between 40,000 and 70,000 Bedouin citizens removed from their homes in South Israel.
The Israeli government has said the Bedouins will be re-homed and granted compensation.
However, the Palestine Solidarity Campaign says the plan heralds “the forced displacement of Palestinians from their homes and land, and systematic discrimination and separation.”
The group published a letter in the Guardian on November 29th condemning the plan, urging the UK government to act.
The letter contains the signatures of 50 public figures supporting the cause.
The document calls for immediate action from the UK government, urging strong measures - rather than the usual diplomatic rhetoric.
“There can be no ‘business as usual’ with a state which is preparing to ethnically cleanse 70,000 people. It’s time to start challenging Israel’s racism and apartheid policies,” the activists' letter says.
In support of the letter, mass protests took place across the UK on Saturday.
The “Day of Rage” demonstrations were held in Brighton, Bristol, Cardiff, Lambeth, and a number of places in central London.
At the same time, Palestinians in Israel also staged mass demonstrations against the Prawer Plan to draw world attention.
Despite opposition to the plan, the Israeli government is pushing ahead and is expected to vote on the initiative before the end of the year.
Some Israeli media also condemn the plan on the basis that the Bedouins are Israel citizens - granted citizenship in the 1950s:
“These are Israeli citizens – citizens in a ‘democratic’ state, some of whom have even served the country militarily – who are now having their homes destroyed,” David Harris-Gershon writes in his blog for the Tikkun Daily.
“The plan to 'regularize' Bedouin settlement in the Negev does nothing to solve problems and regularize our settlements – it stipulates only destruction,” says Fadi El-Obra, a 29-yr- old from Rahat, speaking against the Prawer Plan to the International Solidarity Movement.
The Palestinian Authority has slammed Israel’s plans to continue expanding settlements, while Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu accuses the Palestinians of purposely “inciting artificial crises.”
Israel “will not be subjected to any restrictions concerning settlements,” Netanyahu recently vowed at a meeting with the Israeli right-wing Likud bloc, stressing that the Palestinians are "well aware of that".
ISRAEL RAN TERROR ACTION IN SYRIA
Battles launched over a week ago near Damascus, by a surprise assault against Syrian army forward posts in east Ghota...
may be the first occasion in which Israeli army units acted jointly with one of the parties in the war on Syria, the Lebanese daily Assafir reports this weekend.
Sources told the newspaper that Israeli troops provided reconnaissance maps and photos of Syrian army positions to the attacking force, which moved from Jordan, under the leadership of Saudi- US-Israeli coordinated intelligence.
"However, the big Israeli contribution in the East Ghota battle, was the pillar upholding the whole attack.
According to security information, before the start of the first round of the attack, the Israelis succeeded in disrupting the communications systems of the Fourth Division, the Republican Guard, units of Hezbollah elite forces, and the Iraqi Abu al Fadl al Abbas groups deployed there.
In the first hours of the attack, the Israelis used electronic means of encryption, and managed to disrupt radio communications between Syrian groups and their allies in the first line of defense, which was thus breached quickly, and led to the fall of all seven villages and farms in al-Marj.
It has become known that units of the fourth division stationed in the region "lost contact with" commanders, and other units protecting retreating groups' lines towards the second line of defense, to stop attackers from progressing toward their strategic goal of Otaiba, which forms the entrance to East Gouta and was the key to lifting the siege.
THE RESTRAINT OF THAILAND
About a thousand anti-government people have forced their way into the compound of the Royal Thai Army Headquarters.
Elsewhere in the capital, hundreds of have surrounded the HQ of the PM's ruling party.
The protesters reject PM Yingluck Shinawatra's call for talks, aimed at easing recent political tensions.
She says her government will exercise "the utmost restraint", and the Thai army says it will remain neutral.
Some commentators suggest the CIA is orchestrating the protests.
AFTER ALL THE BRAVADO... CHINA 'ENCIRCLEMENT' FAILS.
The US, S. Korea and Japan made a noise and sent warplanes when China introduced a new maritime air defence zone, but today...
Washington has advised all aircraft carriers to notify the Chinese authorities if they are passing through China’s new maritime air defense zone.
Beijing has announced that it will take "unspecified defensive measures" against all aircraft that pass through their territory over the East China Sea.
The US Administration had accused China of creating "unnecessarily aggravated tensions" in the area. (such fun!)
EGYPT COUP MOVING TO SECULAR ARMY-LED STATE
A preliminary text of the new Egyptian constitution published in the official al-Ahram newspaper, bars any parties “founded on a religious basis” and strips any explicit Islamic language and statutes from its articles.
It also preserves Mubarak-era army privileges, such as its right to pick its own defense minister, and to try civilians in military courts.
The constitution, to be voted on by the public next month, was drafted at the behest of the army-led regime by a constituent assembly made up of secularists, who replaced the previously Islamist-dominated drafting body.
Another student was killed Thursday in clashes, as Egypt still sees mass resistence and protests over the new laws and prison sentences imposed, plus a clampdown at Cairo university.
KARZAI: 'STOP OPPRESSING AFGHANS'
President Hamid Karzai blames the US for a drone strike on a home in southern Afghanistan that killed a 2-year-old child and wounded 2 women, and vows he will not sign a key bilateral security deal if such attacks continue.
“This attack shows that American forces are not respecting the life and safety of Afghan people’s houses,” Karzai said.
“For years, our innocent people have become victims of the war under the name of terrorism, and they have had no safety in their homes.”
Karzai makes it clear that he will not sign the security agreement if such “oppressions by foreign forces go on.”
HOPE FOR GREECE
We see in Europe today a negative story of broken economies, debt, etc, which we all understand can - if it continues - lead to police states, and attempts to re-impose colonial wars.
But here is hope:
'Debt, National Currency and Democracy'
Under the above title, 24 economists, politicians, journalists and activists from various countries discussed in Athens in November, the possibilities for Greece if it leaves the Eurozone, the organizers say, reports Prensa Latina.
This is the first time Athens has hosted an international event of this nature, which aims to inform Greek public opinion on how debt, plus a lack of ability to issue currency within the eurozone, is leading to the abolition of democracy, a loss of national sovereignty, and - on a practical level - to misery.
Participants discussed these issues either from their national or academic perspectives, and highlighted those circumstances and proposals generally avoided, if not distorted, in the information provided by the mass media.
The meeting was attended by activists against debt, the Egyptian lawyer Mahinour El-Badrawi and independent journalists such as the Finn Janus Putkonen, Chief Publisher of the website verkkomedia.org.
Other participants were Hordur Torfason, one of the architects of the rebellion in Iceland, the Spaniard Alberto Montero, president of the CEPS Foundation; Artem Vasiliev, Dean of the Faculty of Economics at the University of Moscow, & Ireland's Anthony Coughlan, who coordinates the initiative for an independent, democratic and cooperative Europe.
For the organizers, economist Dimitris Kazakis, president and promoter of the United People´s Front, addressed the conference.
The United People's Front is an open movement that comes directly from neighborhoods and workplaces, and which advocates a national and social struggle involving the vast majority of people.
AUSTRALIAAND THE UNFAIR PLAN
Members of aboriginal communities in Australia have held a demonstration to stop government- proposed “councils” supervising heritage sites.
The protesters from rural areas assembled in front of Parliament House in Sydney to call on the government to abandon the plan.
They say the planned reforms are aimed at silencing their voice and limiting their rights, and demand control over their heritage sites.
Based on the plans, the councils would be tasked with making "heritage-related" decisions "on behalf of" their communities.
“They do not give Aboriginal people as a community, a voice about what happens to our culture and our heritage,” aboriginal woman Dolly Talbott says. “They take that away, and give it to a minority to decide.”
She adds that the reforms open up the door “for too much corruption” as they give too much power to too few people.
Talbott says details of the proposed reforms indicate that they would “open the gates to opportunities for criminal misconduct by mining companies and other commercial interests.”
It's feared that the elite few on the proposed councils, she says, would be influenced by economic interests and make decisions harmful to the wider community.
Some parliament members also voice opposition to the reforms. Green MP David Shoebridge says heritage issues should be open to extensive community consultation and that final decisions shouldbe left to an independent aboriginal commission.
CANADA LOCKING UP MORE AND MORE "NON-WHITES"
Certain groups, notably aboriginals and blacks, are "disproportionately over-represented" in Canada’s prisons & their numbers are "growing at alarming rates,” says a report by correctional investigator Howard Sapers, who is the prison ombudsperson for federal inmates.
"Today, 4 in 10 of the federal inmate population is non-Caucasian," Sapers says.
"These are disturbing trends that raise important questions about equality and our justice system in Canada," he states. _____________________________
US DRONE POLICY EMBARASSING NATO SUPPORTERS & PAKISTAN
CIA-controlled covert drone strikes in Pakistan are putting its allies in an awkward position, as the US keeps rejecting repeated calls from both government and parliament in Pakistan, for an immediate end to such attacks.
PM Nawaz Sharif publicly accused the US of sabotaging its plans to hold peace talks with the Taliban, when a US spy aircraft killed Taliban chief Hakimullah Mehsud, on November the 1st.
Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan says the long- anticipated peace process with the Taliban cannot be started unless the United States stops its drone attacks.
Days after Mehsud's death, the Taliban refused to talk to the government & said that they would conduct revenge attacks, dashing hopes for a possible peace deal.
Pakistan's top security adviser, Sartaj Aziz, said last week, that the US government's promise not to carry out drone attacks during earlier peace talks "raised some hopes" on the deadlock with the Taliban.
But one day after Aziz's remarks, a US unmanned aircraft struck a religious school on November 21, in Pakistan's northwest, killing six students and their teachers.
US SPYING "MAY BE" ILLEGAL BUT IT WILL CONTINUE.........
The UN human rights committee has unanimously passed a 'right to privacy' resolution sponsored by Germany and Brazil that protects the right to privacy against illegal surveillance.
The resolution states that surveillance and data interception by governments and companies "may violate or abuse human rights.”
This is the first document that establishes protection of human rights in the digital sphere, Brazil's Ambassador Antonio de Aguiar Patriota tells AP.
It "establishes for the first time that human rights should prevail irrespective of the medium, and therefore need to be protected online & offline,”Patriota says.
The resolution is concerned with "the negative impact" that surveillance, "in particular when carried out on a mass scale, may have on the exercise and enjoyment of human rights.”
German Ambassador Peter Wittig:
"Is the human right to privacy still protected in our digital world? And should everything that is technologically feasible, be allowed?”
The fact that the resolution was unanimously passed by the committee seems to guarantee that it will get the votes of all 193 members of the General Assembly in December.
Although the resolution will not be legally binding, it will have some political weight.
The US did not go against the measure, but lobbied the ‘Five-Eyes’ intelligence sharing alliance of the UK, Australia and New Zealand to water down the language of the resolution.
Language stating that foreign spying would be a rights violation was weakened, says AFP.
Human Rights Watch specialist Philippe Bolopion says that, although the language, sadly, has been watered down, he still believes that it is "a vital first step toward stigmatizing indiscriminate global surveillance.”
European Commission drops probe into "alleged" US financial spying...
The European Commission has dropped its investigation into suspected abuse by the US of a shared financial database.
The European Parliament called last month for the suspension of the US's ability to track international payments because of suspicions that it was trawling too deeply for information.
But yesterday, Cecilia Malmstrom, Europe's commissioner for home affairs, said she has not found any proof of wrongdoing, and has thus rejected EU lawmakers' calls to freeze US' access to messages on transactions.
Syria ‘won't surrender power’ at Geneva
Syria’s government along with the main Western- backed opposition coalition have both confirmed they will be at the UN-sponsored peace conference.
The repeatedly delayed peace talks are scheduled for January 22 in Geneva, and will bring together Syria’s President Bashar Assad’s government and the opposition for the first time since the bloody conflict began in March of 2011.
Syrian authorities at the January peace talks will resist Western demands for President Assad to step aside, the state news agency SANA says today. “The official Syrian delegation is not going to Geneva to surrender power,” a foreign ministry source says, adding, “the colonial era is over.”
The statement is in response to French/UK demands that Assad should have no role in a transitional government, Reuters reports.
DIVIDE & RULE UNDER EGYPT's ARMY COUP TURNS TO REAL REPRESSION...
Egypt has ordered the arrest of two top activists for defying a newly passed anti- demonstration law, as mass protests against the law grow across Egypt, reports say today.
According to state news agency MENA, Egypt's general prosecutor has ordered the arrest of Ahmad Maher, the founder of the April 6 movement against former dictator Hosni Mubarak that led to 2011 revolution in the country, and Alaa Abdel Fattah, a prominent activist, today (Wed).
According to the prosecution, the two activists are to be kept in custody for four days over demonstrations held in Cairo, against a new anti-protest law.
"The 2 are accused of inciting protesters to hold demonstrations that broke the protest law," the prosecution says.
According to security officials, about 70 protesters were also detained during Tuesday's protests, including Mona Seif, founder of the campaign against military trials of civilians, and revolutionary icon, Ahmad Harara.
Harara is a dentist who lost one of his eyes to birdshot during protests against Hosni Mubarak in 2011 and the other in a protest against the military junta that ruled Egypt, days after Mubarak's fall.
Egypt enacted the controversial new anti-protest law on Nov. 24th, under which the gathering of more than 10 people requires a written permit... 3 days prior to the protest.
The new anti-protest law "authorizes" security forces to use tear gas, water cannon, smoke grenades, warning shots, rubber bullets, and even live ammunition against unauthorized demonstrators... after issuing warnings.
It also says protesters can be imprisoned for up to five years if convicted of crimes, such as covering their faces and carrying weapons, while participating in rallies.
Meanwhile top UN official Navi Pillay condemns this new legislation as “seriously flawed” and says it must be immediately amended or repealed.
HONDURAS ELECTION "A FRAUD"
The Spanish coalition Izquierda Unida charges that fraud was definitely committed in the elections in Honduras to prevent the victory of Xiomara Castro, candidate of the opposition party, Freedom and Refundación.
In a press release, IU Human Rights and International Solidarity director, Francisco Pérez, says the accusation is based on separate reports from independent international observers, who oversaw the elections.
Vote rigging was committed to prevent Castro from gaining power with her popular, left and anti-oligarchic program, states Perez, who accuses the conservative government of Mariano Rajoy of legitimizing it.
In a statement, Rajoy's right-wing Popular Party government congratulated the conservative National Party of Honduras & its candidate, Juan Orlando Hernandez, for his alleged victory at the polls.
The leader of the leftist IU coalition, Spain's third-largest political force, says he regrets that the PP had rushed to acknowledge Hernandez' triumph with just over half of the votes counted.
The main Honduran opposition groups, including the Free & Anti-Corruption parties, do not recognize the results and denounce this new fraud scandal in Honduras, he says.
ISRAEL AND SAUDI TERROR IN YEMEN
Tens of thousands of Yemeni protesters have chanted anti-Israeli slogans during a funeral procession for an assassinated lawmaker in the capital, Sana’a.
Yemenis voiced their anger with the Israeli regime, during a funeral procession for Houthi lawmaker, Abdul Karim Jadban.
Jadban, gunned down by armed men on November 22, was a prominent Houthi lawmaker representing the Houthis, in a national dialogue underway in Yemen.
Jadban’s body was carried by his Houthi supporters to Sana’a airport and flown to the north-west province of Sa’ada for burial.
The assassination came just weeks after deadly clashes between Houthi fighters and Saudi-backed Salafi militants in the town of Dammaj.
Houthis, who control parts of the north and are engaged in reconciliation talks with Sana’a, accuse the government of violating civil rights and marginalizing them - politically, economically and religiously.
The conflict between the government of ousted dictator Ali Abdullah Saleh and Houthi fighters in northern Yemen began in 2004.
The Houthi movement played a key role in the popular revolution that forced Saleh to resign. Yemen’s Shia Houthi movement draws its name from the tribe of founding leader, Hussein Badreddin al-Houthi.
Saleh ruled Yemen for 33 years, but stepped down in February 2012 under a US-backed power transfer deal, in return for immunity, after a year of mass street demonstrations demanding his ouster.
Vice president Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi replaced him on February 25th, 2012... after a single-candidate presidential election backed by the US & Saudi Arabia.
THIRD DEGREE, ANYONE?
A report shows German universities have received millions of euros in funds from the US military for research projects into munitions and drone software.
German newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung reports that at least 22 universities and research institutes confirm accepting over 10 million euros in research grants from the Pentagon, since 2000.
The report shows that the Pentagon even paid those German universities whose rules ban research for the arms industry.
According to the newspaper, Munich's Ludwig-Maximilian University (LMU) was paid over 470,000 euros by the US Defense Ministry to research "improving" explosives.
Pentagon funds have also been given to the University of Marburg, which is researching navigation systems for drones and "steered munitions” and to the Fraunhofer Society, a network of research institutes, to research "bullet-proof" glass and explosives.
Germany's political opposition is criticizing this cooperation between German universities & the Pentagon, & urging more transparency from universities over third-party projects.
"It is unbelievable that this cooperation has not been published, and that some universities refuse to give information about the contracts," says Left Party parliamentarian Nicole Gohlke.
Other critics say these German universities are breaking the German constitution, as the funded projects are aimed at war preparation.
"It's problematic when science is devoted to war preparation, especially when it's for the US military. After all, the US is waging wars of aggression, and without authorization from the UN Security Council," says Jurgen Altmann, a physicist & peace researcher at TU Dortmund University.
UK universities are also in a state of denial. Ask about psychology courses on "conformity" and religion's effect on torture survival !
WE CAN SEE YOU COMING
The Iranian Navy chose Navy Day to publicly exhibit the latest advances in the research and manufacture of arms of Iranian design and construction.
The new system, called Asr, with a range of one to three thousand kilometers, was manufactured by Iran's defense industry, is proven in tests, and will be mounted on warships in the near future, emphasizes Admiral Ali Qolanzadeh, head of the Iranian Navy Industrial Research & Self-Sufficiency Jihad Organization.
The Armed Forces of the Islamic Republic and the Guard Corps of the Revolution and Basij (Volunteer in Farsi), announced two years ago that Iran's military industry was self-sufficient in the production of weapons, equipment and tools - a goal that was set years ago, to reduce any dependence on foreign purchases.
This year, Iranian naval forces have prevented several pirate attacks on merchant ships in the Red Sea, and expanded its operational range to international waters in the Far East, Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyarihe recalls.
EGYPT STILL IN TURMOIL
Thousands of supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi have held fresh massive rallies across Egypt - despite warnings from the army-backed interim government.
Egyptians protested in several cities Sunday, chanting slogans against the military's coup and demanding the release of protestors.
This, after Egypt's Minister of the Interior issued a warning that they would be "dealt with decisively".
The protesters say they will press ahead with their calls for an end to military rule and for Morsi’s reinstatement.
IRAN DEAL BREAKTHROUGH
After over four days of intensive negotiations, Iran and the Sextet - the US, UK, Russia, France, China & Germany - sealed an interim deal in Geneva in the early hours of Sunday.
The agreement paves the way for a final resolution of the West’s long dispute with Iran over its nuclear energy program.
In the deal, the Sextet has agreed to several measures including enabling the repatriation of an agreed amount of Iranian revenues held abroad and suspending the EU/US sanctions on insurance and the transport of Iran’s crude.
The EU/US sanctions on Iran’s petrochemical exports, gold and precious metals and the auto industry as well as the supply of spare parts for Iranian airplanes, would also be suspended.
Further, no new sanctions will be imposed on Iran by the UN Security Council, the EU or US.
In return, Iran undertakes to implement measures, including the capping of its uranium enrichment to 5% for 6 months, as stipulated in the agreement. Tehran has also agreed not to advance activities at Natanz, Fordow and Arak, to allow more inspections of its facilities, and to further increase its cooperation with the IAEA as "confidence-building".
Greatest deception in modern history
Despite huge, growing public opposition, the Loya Jirga of Afghan tribal elders has reached an accord and recommends that the country’s president sign a pact with the USA, which gives it a permanent presence, scores of military bases and immunity for its troops and special forces.
The Grand Council of Afghanistan, Loya Jirga, endorsed the Bilateral Security Agreement with the United States.
“The Loya Jirga requests the president to sign the agreement before the end of 2013,” it states.
Now the deal has to be approved by parliament, to take effect.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai said in an opening address to the Jirga on November 21, that the deal will not be signed until after presidential elections in April 2014.
The White House says if Karzai fails to sign the deal by the end of 2013, it will prevent the US and its allies from planning for the presence of foreign forces in Afghanistan beyond 2014.
The security deal allows US troops to stay in Afghanistan WELL beyond 2014.
The issue of whether or not to grant immunity to US forces was a sticking point in the deal. Kabul sees immunity as a violation of sovereignty.
Some members of the Grand Council called for an extra US military base to be added in the province of Bamiyan.
Protests were held while the Loya Jirga meeting was underway. Several huge protests have been held in Kabul, and in other major Afhan cities to oppose the deal.
Afghans say the deal will pave the way for a prolonged US military presence in the country.
The US has over 43,000 troops in Afghanistan.
Karzai now says he will end the deal... if US troops enter Afghan people's homes.
IRAQ GROUP OFFERS SAUDIS BLOWBACK An Iraqi group says it will launch attacks on Saudi targets if the kingdom continues to provoke sectarian violence in the region.
The group, which calls itself the Mukhtar Army, also claimed responsibility for a Wednesday mortar attack, which targeted an uninhabited area of Saudi Arabia near the Iraqi border.
It says the attack was carried out in retaliation for decrees issued in Saudi Arabia that insult Shias and encourage people to kill them.
Wathiq al-Battat, the head of the group, says the attack was "a warning strike" to Saudi Arabia to stop "interfering" in Iraqi affairs.
"We did not mean for our missile to reach a residential area because we value people's blood," says Battat. "But next time, if Saudi Arabia continues with the same course, we will go farther, little by little."
Saudi state news agency SPA quotes General Mohammed al-Ghamidi, border guard media spokesperson, as saying six mortar rounds hit "an uninhabited area near Al-Awja border crossing... in Hafr al-Batin in Eastern Province, and no damage was caused."
Riyadh stands accused of promoting sectarian violence in Iraq. The country has also been a vocal supporter of Takfiri terrorists fighting against the Syrian government.
Afghanistan rejects US call to sign security pact
President Hamid Karzai’s government has rejected a call from Washington to sign a security deal before the end of the year.
President Karzai says Afghanistan must hold elections before signing any "deal".
US Secretary of State John Kerry slams the move as “unacceptable” and potentially endangering plans for a post-2014 security presence in Afghanistan.
Without the security pact, US troops are scheduled for a full withdrawal in 2014, but fear they will leave Afghan authorities ill-prepared to deal with a rising insurgency.
Residents in Peshawar are today stopping NATO supplies passing through Pakistan.
TEN GREEN BOTTLES...
One of the two Palestinian negotiators in the peace talks with Israel, Mohamed Shtayyeh, who resigned weeks ago, will be substituted by another official, reveals a source.
Shtayyeh refused to go back to the negotiation table with the Israeli team, led by Tzipi Livni.
Mohamed Shtayyeh, Saeb Erekat and the rest of the negotiating team presented their irriversible resignations to President Abbas, who asked them to continue supervising the negotiations, assuring that they continue for the nine months established in a preliminary agreement with John Kerry.
President Abbas will appoint another negotiator, says an informant, who insisted on anonymity.
For her part, the scholar and board member of the Organization for the Liberation of Palestine, Hanan Ashrawi, says that Israel is using the peace talks as a cover for new settlement construction in the West Bank.
Such actions are a deliberate attempt to destroy opportunities for peace, and any possibility of establishing an independent Palestinian State on the borders existing prior to the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, asserts Ashrawi in an interview.
Europe in shock as Ukraine kills integration plan
Facing its most important economic crossroads since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Kiev has aligned itself closer to Russia, and suspended preparations to sign an EU trade deal.
Ukraine will “restore an active dialogue” with the Customs Union and the CIS.
Economic and foreign ministers propose that Ukraine, Russia, and the EU create a three-way commission to improve and strengthen trade relations.
Putin's spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov, says Russia welcomes Ukraine's desire to actively develop ties with Moscow, and Putin adds that he isn't completely against Ukraine's association with EU.
Putin says he supports the idea of trilateral trade talks, but only up until Ukraine signs an association agreement with the EU.
"We favour this, but only before decisions are made. How can we hold negotiations on issues that have already been agreed upon and endorsed? What is our role in such negotiations? It's equal to zero, but we are surely prepared for such a discussion if it is substantial," Putin said yesterday in Moscow.
“This is a disappointment --- not just for the EU but, we believe, but for the people of Ukraine,” EU foreign policy boss Catherine Ashton says, claiming that “the most ambitious” pact ever offered to a partner by the EU "would have" helped the country’s economy.
The decree signed by PM Mykola Azarov's government yesterday ordered the “halt of the process of preparing the Association Agreement between Ukraine and the EU.”
The decision was taken to “ensure the national security of Ukraine” and to “restore lost trade volumes with the Russian Federation” after considering the effects on trade relations with Moscow, legislators say.
The announcement follows the Ukraine parliament's earlier refusal to pass a bill that would see jailed former PM Yulia Tymoshenko allowed to travel abroad for treatment - a key EU deal condition for the summit that was scheduled in Vilnius, Lithuania, next week.
The EU envoy at the negotiations, Polish politician Aleksander Kwasniewski confirms that the deal will not go ahead, saying the “mission is over… The accord will not be signed in Vilnius.”
It is Ukraine's “sovereign right to make a decision on which path she wants to follow,” German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle says, amid a storm of squeals from others.
Arseniy Yatsenyuk Ukrainian opposition leader:
"If Yanukovych is refusing to sign the agreement, then it is not only state treason but also grounds for the impeachment of the president and the dismissal of the government," he said. People have started flocking to Kiev’s main Square, home of a 2004 "Orange revolution".
About 1500 protesters with banners have gathered in Maidan Square to voice their opposition to the government’s decision, local media reports.
Some MPs have also joined the protest, and another is planned for this Sunday.
Police have cordoned off the presidential administration building.
Since the cabinet's decision, EU Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fuele has canceled his Friday trip to Kiev.
President Yanukovych, however, says, despite “difficulties” his country would continue towards European integration.
Russia has welcomed Ukraine's decision to actively develop ties with Moscow.
President Putin says he is not against Ukraine's association with the EU, but trilateral trade talks should take place before signing agreements with the EU.
The EU has done nothing to convince Ukraine's leaders, that association with the EU would actually solve its economic crisis, Polish MEP Pawel Zalewski stated earlier this week.
As compared to hundreds of billions of euros channeled into Greek, Spanish and Portuguese economies, he said, the one billion offered to Ukraine was inadequate and "ridiculous."
"It's a ridiculous amount compared to the resources allocated to rescue Southern Europe from bankruptcy," Zalewski said, reports PR Newswire.
Eric Kraus, Managing Director of Anyatta Capital says, Russia has the “means and willingness” to offer Ukraine what the EU lacks, ie money, adding that Ukraine is a “vital part” of Europe's Russian-speaking space.
“The European Union offers a lot of words,” Kraus says, but “what they don’t offer is what Ukraine needs – and that’s money.”
“Ukraine is not vital to the EU,” Kraus says. “It's a part of a geopolitical chess game and they’d like to take that piece. They are not going to spend a lot of money for it. They can’t, they’ve got Portugal, they’ve got Greece. Pretty soon they’ve got France.”
The top financial analyst explains the economic problems Ukraine is facing:
“The problem is that Ukraine is in dire economic straits. Ukraine is 2-6 months from default. They cannot raise money in markets. They are running a deficit. They're having a lot of trouble keeping the currency stable.”
EGYPT's STUDENTS CONTINUE TO BE GAOLED
A court in Cairo has handed jail terms to 38 al-Azhar University students for taking part in protests backing their arrested president.
The Nasr City Misdemeanor Court sentenced them to 18 months in prison.
The students were arrested during clashes with security forces in Cairo, in October.
Last week, 12 pro-Morsi students at the same university were sentenced to 17 years in jail.
Today, dozens of al-Azhar students demonstrated in front of the Faculty of Engineering building, to condemn yesterday's violent attack on students.
One student was killed Wednesday and dozens of others wounded, as Egyptian security forces stormed the dormitory of al-Azhar University.
They detained dozens of students and set fire to a building on the university campus.
The army-backed interim government insists on continuing with its bloody crackdown on pro-Morsi protesters, despite calls by Muslims for dialogue.
BLAIR's LASTING GIFT TO THE US
The US National Security Agency subverted an international agreement in order to save and examine the phone, internet and other records of UK citizens not suspected of wrongdoing, says a new report.
The Guardian report is based on a 2007 NSA memo revealing that the NSA sought to “unmask” personal data UK residents wanted to keep private.
UK & US lawmakers have always publicly claimed that these far-reaching clandestine programs were designed to combat terrorism, but yesterday’s leak makes their claims look very weak.
Before the "agreement", the NSA had to remove cell phone numbers, fax numbers, emails, and IP addresses caught by its clandestine efforts.
Those restrictions "loosened" in 2007 after an agreement between the US and UK no longer required the NSA to “minimize” its data records.
The records are also being made available to US intelligence and military agencies as well as NSA.
The Guardian and Channel 4 News exposed this.
It is the latest report assembled from classified documents released to the press by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, who has fled the US and now lives under temporary asylum in Russia.
His disclosures have sparked international anger, with US allies condemning the surveillance.
Personal information belonging to UK residents was “incidentally collected” by the operation.
NSA leaders admit that intelligence analysts will collect information within “three hops” from the surveillance target, meaning they investigate the communications of a friend of a friend of a friend from that person.
If starting its focus on one Facebook user, this, according to research conducted by the Guardian, could yield information on over five million people.
The memo shows how the NSA has been using data collected from the UK for so-called “pattern of life” or “contact-chaining” inquiries, which are connected to the “three hops” examinations.
US/UK intelligence agencies ARE “Five Eyes”, a data-sharing alliance which also involves Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.
It was "understood" that the nations would not collect information on the public of any other.
Yet a separate NSA memo from 2005 outlines a proposed classified procedure that would give the agency access to another Five Eye nation, even if they had explicitly denied the US access.
The document has a "stipulation" that the US government “reserved the right” to monitor other Five Eyes’ citizens “when it is in the best interests of each (SIC) nation.”
“Therefore,” it says, “under certain circumstances, it may be advisable and allowable to target second party persons and secondary party communications systems unilaterally, when it is in the best interests of the US and necessary for US national security.”
POWER-FREAK US "COMING TO TAKE YOU AWAY"
And the US isn't just watching... Since 2003, UK citizens have run the risk of being locked up in the US - even if they never set foot on US soil.
That extradition imbalance will soon be even more slanted, as any UK citizens could even be taken away to the US on secret evidence - under proposed changes to the law.
Is No. 10 selling its citizens down the river, just to keep the UK’s “special relationship” with its overlord in Washington?
UN TRIES TO GUARANTEE RIGHT TO PRIVACY - US TRYING TO AVOID CRIMINAL CHARGES.
The US silently watered down the text of an anti-spying UN resolution introduced by Germany and Brazil, to ensure that its extra- territorial violation of online privacy stayed "legal", says a document obtained by 'The Cable'.
According to the government document, the US circulated a confidential communique entitled "Right to Privacy in the Digital Age - US Redlines."
In it, the US called for changing the Brazilian and German text so "that references to privacy rights referred explicitly to States' obligations in ICCPR and removed suggestions that such obligations apply extraterritorially.”
Diplomatic sources told The Cable that the US was worried that extraterritorial human rights could "hinder US efforts to pursue international terrorists".
Germany and Brazil's draft resolution calls for an end to excessive electronic surveillance, data collection, and other snooping techniques, in response to recent revelations of US mass surveillance programs.
The Brazilian and German proposal acknowledges that, while public safety may "justify the gathering and protection of certain sensitive information," nations "must ensure full compliance" with all international human rights laws.
The amended resolution was adopted.
In public, the US claims to affirm privacy rights, yet, behind the scenes, The Cable alleges that US diplomatic efforts are aimed at killing off the "extraterritorial surveillance" provision.
The publication claims that US negotiators pressed their case quietly, through allies.
According to one diplomat, "the US was very much in the backseat," leaving it to its allies, Australia, the UK, and Canada, The Cable writes.
"They want to be able to say ‘we haven't broken the law, we're not breaking the law, and we won't break the law,'" Dinah PoKempner, the general counsel for Human Rights Watch tells The Cable.
She says the US wants to maintain its ability "to scoop up anything it wants through the massive surveillance of foreigners because 'we have no legal obligations'."
BULLIES IN SUITS ALWAYS HIRE OTHERS TO SIN
BP is now facing accusations that it hired a public relations firm to harass and intimidate Facebook users who condemned it over its handling of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.
BP, formerly known as British Petroleum, hired international PR company, Oglivy and Mather, to run the BP America Facebook page.
Accusations have surfaced that Facebook users who posted critical comments on the page have been subjected to attacks, threats and ongoing harassment.
One user, known as “Marie,” told Al Jazeera she feels the need to remain anonymous because of a “fear for my personal safety should the BP trolls find out that I am the whistleblower in this case.”
Trolls are anonymous online bullies who post comments or send messages intended to upset the recipient. Physical threats are not uncommon in such online communities.
Marie says she recorded examples of attacks and has turned over boxes of material to the Government Accountability Project (GAP).
GAP investigator Shanna Devin:
“We’d been hearing about this kind of harassment by BP when we were working on our health project [in the Gulf of Mexico], so it sparked our interest.
“We saw Marie’s documentation of more serious threats made on the BP page, and decided to investigate. We’ve seen all this documentation & that’s why we thought it was worth bringing to the ombudsman’s office of BP, and we told them we thought some of it even warranted calling the police about.”
Marie says someone even edited an image of the bird used in BP’s logo, so that the cartoon stared down the sight of an automatic weapon.
She says the cyber-attacks followed her onto her personal page and were lobbed from a whole list of Facebook users.
“The harassment communications are not something that BP and their people are not aware of,” Steve Lockman, legal investigator with Levine, Papantino, Thomas, Mitchell, Rafferty & Proctor, told Al Jazeera.
“It’s not a secret that the personal attacks, broadcast abuse and type-written harassment were happening and continue to go on…
"We have thousands of documents regarding communications posted through various Facebook websites.”
Marie and the other accusers say BP, through trolls, sought their personal information and then used that against them by contacting their employers, family members, and making their IP addresses publicly available.
The company has yet to respond to any allegations, but a former Ogilvy associate said in 2012, that the firm handled all BP’s social media in the crisis.
Chris Paulos, one of the lawyers investigating the case, told Al Jazeera the incident is yet another example of “subversive attempts by corporations to put forward their ideology of what we should think about them, and doing it in a way that is not decipherable to the average person.”
MOTHER AGNES VILIFIED BY UK MEDIA "GATEKEEPERS"
See what happens when you REALLY challenge the West's lies.The West doesn't want you to see that supporting terrorists in Syria is an obscenity.
Even a nun speaking out is vilified and reduced by slanderous lies !
At least one student has been killed and dozens detained in a raid by Egyptian security forces on al-Azhar dormitory.
Security forces entered al-Azhar University campus in Cairo, to quell student protests against the military-backed government.
One of the buildings inside the university campus was set on fire during the attack.
Last month, a court sentenced 12 pro-Morsi students to 17 years for "attacking" Al-Azhar HQ in October.
Also on Wednesday, Egyptians staged more protests against military rule in different towns and cities, including Alexandria, Tanta and Helwan.
The demonstrators chanted slogans against army chief General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and demanded that president Mohamed Morsi, be reinstated.
Army officials say that Morsi, who took office in June 2012, is now held “preventively” by them.
At his trial, Morsi is reported to have said that he is the legitimate president of Egypt, calling on the court “to end this farce.”
"I am Dr. Mohamed Morsi, the president of the republic... This court is illegal," Morsi told the opening hearing of his trial, adding, "This was a military coup. The leaders of the coup should be tried. A coup is treason and a crime."
The trial was adjourned to January 8th, and the ousted president, who had been detained at a "secret location" since his removal, was taken to a prison in Alexandria city.
IRAN SAYS ALL DEPENDS ON WILL FOR PEACE
Iran completely rejects Saudi accusations that it is sending troops or arms to Syria, and calls on the world to work for a peaceful solution.
“In order for the Geneva II conference to be successful and for the Syria crisis to be settled peacefully, the international community must stem the flow of arms and terrorists into the country,” says Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab & African Affairs, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian.
“Certain countries, particularly western powers, should stop sending arms to Syria, and if these countries demonstrate grim determination to settle the issue, the success of the Geneva II conference can be guaranteed,” he says.
US Says ‘No Need’ to Apologize for Killing Afghan Civilians
There's no need to apologize for any ‘mistakes’ or the civilian suffering due to US strikes and "operations" in Afghanistan, says Susan Rice, President Obama's National Security Advisor.
Susan Rice makes the US position clear, after suggestions from the Afghans that Obama write a letter acknowledging US errors and operations that caused civilian casualties in the 12-year war.
"There is not a need for the US to apologize to Afghanistan. Quite the contrary," Rice tells CNN.
Earlier Aimal Faizi, President Hamid Karzai's spokesperson, said that Obama would write to his Afghan counterpart acknowledging US "mistakes in the war on terror" and the suffering of the Afghan people due to US military operations, as part of theUS/Afghan Bilateral Security Agreement being drafted.
But Rice says "no such letter has been drafted or delivered. That is not on the table."
President Karzai responds today by saying that he will not allow any more US raids.
Faizi says President Karzai and Secretary of State John Kerry spoke by phone Tuesday in "final negotiations" on the security treaty.
Officials in Washington say there is still some way to go before reaching a final agreement on the pact, which will be put to an Afghan Grand Assembly of tribal leaders and elders, known as a "loya jirga", for their decision, before the Afghan parliament votes on it.
The Network of Intellectuals in Defense of Humankind demands that the US return to Cuba territory occupied by the Guantanamo naval base, which was seized a century ago & now houses an illegal detention centre.
In a message on the occasion of an international seminar against foreign military bases, the network, created in 2003, demands the closure of that prison, where detainees are tortured and humiliated in violation of international law.
The meeting, sponsored by the World Council for Peace, brought together 100 researchers and activists to denounce ANY interference, imposition and disregard for others' rights.
The signatories say that setting up military bases in other countries against their will, violates national sovereignty and serves the economic and political interests of imperialism.
They demand the closure of foreign military bases and an end to the construction of new facilities, as well as compensation to nearby residents for social and environmental damage.
7 AFGHAN CHILDREN KILLED, 3 INJURED IN BOMB EXPLOSION IN PAKTIKA -- OFFICIAL _________________________________________
"STOP ALL SETTLEMENT CONSTRUCTION NOW"
French President Francois Hollande calls on Israel to halt all settlement construction, as he visits the Palestinian territories on Monday.
In a speech after talks in the West Bank city of Ramallah with PA Chief Mahmud Abbas, the French leader makes an unequivocal demand for Israel to stop building on land seized in the 1967 Six-Day War.
"France demands a full and complete halt to settlement activity," Hollande says on his first official visit to the Palestinian territories.
"Settlement activity complicates the negotiations & makes it difficult to achieve a 2-state solution," he says, a day after talks in Israel focused heavily on the Iran nuclear issue.
Since direct peace negotiations resumed in the summer, ending a hiatus of nearly three years, Israel has announced thousands of new settler units, in a move which has angered Ramallah, and taken the talks close to collapse.
A previous round of talks in 2010 fell apart just weeks after it began, in a bitter row over Israeli construction.
Hollande raised the settlement issue on Sunday but in much softer language, saying he expected Israel to make "gestures" on settlement activity, in order to advance peace negotiations which began in July but have made no obvious progress.
"If you want peace, you need to have gestures towards peace," he says. He makes clear that France expects "efforts" from the Palestinians, too...
"It is clear that this will require efforts from the Palestinians as a number of settlements will remain," a member of his entourage says.
Last week, Israeli plans to build another 20,000 new settler units, sparked the resignation of the entire Palestinian negotiating team.
Despite the crisis, Abbas on Sunday tells AFP that peace talks with Israel will continue for the full nine months agreed with Washington -- "regardless of what happens on the ground".
GAZA DEMONSTRATION CONDEMNS EGYPT's UNKINDNESS TO THEM
Palestinians in the besieged Gaza Strip have staged a demonstration to slam Egypt’s army over its closure of the Rafah border crossing, Press TV reports.
On Sunday, angry demonstrators gathered at the crossing, calling for an immediate and permanent reopening of the closed gate, which is vital to Palestinians in the territory.
The protesters say the measure by the military- backed Egyptian government is adding to the suffering caused by Israel's blockade on Gaza.
“They are working hand in hand with the Israelis to tighten the blockade. The Egyptian military must reopen the Rafah crossing and stop playing into the hands of Israel,” a protestor said.
“The Egyptian people are our brothers, and we call on them to pressure their government to break this illegal blockade,” he added.
Some of the protesters also said that acting PA Chief Mahmoud Abbas Is responsible for the recent restrictions on Gaza.
“Mahmoud Abbas’s term in office has expired and he must stop inciting the Egyptian military against the Gaza Strip,” another protestor said, adding that restrictions against Gaza have increased, following a recent visit by the Palestinian Authority chief to Egypt.
Since July 3, the Egyptian military has tightened restrictions on Rafah. It has launched a campaign to destroy the supply tunnels leading into Gaza, which bring basic supplies to the people there.
The destruction of the tunnels has reportedly led to an increase in the price of fuel and other commodities. Palestinians have to wait in long lines at fuel stations and face daily power cuts that last up to 14 hours.
Several human rights organizations and civil groups have criticized the Egyptian army for preventing the people in Gaza from accessing the most basic goods.
MARCHES AGAINST ARMY COUP IN EGYPT
Protesters once again take to the streets in Egypt's cities to express their anger at military rule.
Demonstrations were held in Cairo, and several other cities on Sunday.
In Shubra neighborhood, Cairo, protesters chanted slogans supporting President Morsi.
Students of Al-Mansoura University in northeast Cairo also held a demonstration to condemn what they call crimes committed by Egypt's Interior Ministry.
Since the start of the academic year, Egypt's university campuses have seen several protests.
In the northeastern port city of Damietta, protesters said 'no' to military rule.
MAY ALL HELP THE PHILIPPINES
King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz Al-Saud, of Saudi Arabia, has ordered a donation of 10 million USD to go the victims of the devastating typhoon that destroyed entire communities in the Philippines a few days ago, report official sources here.
The contribution was announced by the Saudi Minister of Finance Ibrahim al-Assaf, who stated that the transfer of the funds will be carried out in coordination with the Philippine authorities, says the official news agency, SAP.
The Saudi king expressed his condolences to the Philippine authorities in a message addressed to President Benigno Aquino.
"We have learnt the painful news of the typhoon that devastated your friendly country, which resulted in deaths, injured and damages. We are sure you will overcome such a disaster", states the monarch in his message.
A video online shows men mercilessly beating and punching Ethiopians on the streets at unnamed locations in S Arabia.
A person is also shown lying dead on the ground with a bullet mark in his chest.
The Ethiopian government has announced the death of 3 of its citizens in Saudi Arabia. Ethiopians have staged a demonstration in front of the Saudi embassy in the capital Addis Ababa against the crackdown on illegal immigrants by the Al Saud government.
Between nine and 11 million of Saudi Arabia’s 27-million-strong population are foreign workers.
On November 4th, a seven-month amnesty for expatriate workers expired.
Hundreds of thousands of people were forced to leave the country during the time they had to rectify their visa status without penalty.
Many of the foreign workers say they could not use the amnesty due to bureaucratic difficulties or disputes with their sponsors.
Foreign workers cannot change jobs or leave Saudi Arabia without the permission of their sponsors, who are often Saudi companies or individuals providing workers to businesses.
Many of the country’s foreign laborers have also been arrested.
In October, rights group Amnesty International censured Saudi authorities for not addressing a “dire human rights situation” in the kingdom.
The group also handed in a paper to the UN, which included information regarding a “new wave of repression against civil society, which has taken place over the last two years.”
Internet activist Jeremy Hammond was sentenced to 10 years in prison last month, for illegally accessing servers of the private intelligence company Strategic Forecasting Inc., (Stratfor), and giving its information to WikiLeaks.
Hammond, from Chicago, pleaded guilty to hacking the servers of that company and admitted to being part of the hacktivist group Anonymous between 2011 and 2012.
"Yes, I have broken the law, but I think that sometimes you have to break laws in order to make room for change," Hammond, said, in defending "hactivism" as a form of civil disobedience, reports the online version of USA Today.
For Hammond, the leaked information is part of what people of his country have a right to know.
The hacked emails published by Wikileaks brought to light the alleged hiring of Stratfor services by private companies and government agencies to spy on political activists, including members of the Occupy Wall Street movement.
FUTURE LEADERS OF EGYPT BEING BATONED
Security forces stormed Zagazig University's campus Saturday, firing gas to quell students supporting elected president Mohamed Morsi.
Their action came after students gathered in huge numbers at the main campus to condemn the army coup and renew their demand for the reinstatement of Egypt’s first democratically- elected president.
Angry students also blocked the gates of the Faculty of Engineering, to demand the release of 23 of their classmates arrested during on-campus clashes last week.
Witnesses say riot police fired tear gas canisters at the students, then hit them with batons. Some news reports say dozens of students suffered from the effects of gas inhalation.
Since the start of the academic year in September, Egypt's university campuses have seen several large protests.
Demonstrations by Morsi's supporters against the coup are still being held across Egypt, despite the "interim" authorities’ efforts to harden their crackdown on Morsi backers.
A large number of MB officials and supporters have been held in custody by the military and police forces since the coup in early July.
Hundreds of MB supporters have been killed in clashes with the army and opposing forces over the last few months.
Morsi is currently in prison, facing trial over his alleged role in the death of protesters outside the presidential palace, in 2012.
Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood offers negotiations now, as a way to end the crisis created by the overthrow of Egypt's president, Mohamed Morsi.
The coalition of Islamic parties also calls on all political parties and patriotic figures as well as revolutionary forces, to enter discussions to end the ongoing crisis.
"We have no conditions and neither should they," media outlets quote Imam Youssef, a prominent leader of the coalition, as saying.
However, the Islamic parties propose the release of political prisoners and the reopening of broadcasters shut after Morsi's ouster, as pre-conditions.
The coalition also insists on keeping up peaceful opposition against the army leaders' 'interim government'.
The coalition leaders have been organizing regular demonstrations, to condemn the government’s harsh crackdown on the MB and the arrest of its leaders and members.
They have been demanding justice for MB supporters killed in the army crackdown after Morsi’s ouster.
Syrian Army General Command: to Go Ahead with Eliminating Terrorism
The General Command of Syria’s Army and Armed Forces stresses their determination to go ahead with eliminating terrorism and to "strike with an iron fist", anyone who seeks to tamper with the security of the country.
The command reports that the Syrian Army has regained control over key towns in Homs province.
"After a successful military operation & accurate tactical maneuvers, units of the armed forces managed this morning to tighten control over the towns of al-Hadath, Hawarin and Mhin and the warehouses nearby - southeast of Homs city,'' their statement says.
It says the army has dealt severe blows to the foreign-backed insurgents, as it has killed large numbers of terrorists and mercenaries who were attacking civilians & military checkpoints in the area, and also destroyed 100s of arm- equipped vehicles.
''With this successful operation, that left large numbers of terrorists killed in a well-planned trap, the armed forces have punctured the delusions of the terrorists and their masters ... of taking vital areas of Homs countryside,” the General Command says.
The Syrian Army has also “aborted the insurgents’ plans to ease pressure on the remaining terrorist pockets in the area, causing a dramatic collapse in the morale of the armed terrorist groups who are faltering under the strikes,” they state now.
31 killed in attack on anti-militia protesters in Libya's capital, Tripoli.
A group of militiamen opened fire on hundreds of protesters, killing at least 31 people and wounding 230 others.
US TELLS UK TO KEEP QUIET?
The US government has explicitly ordered the UK not to publish the contents of the 4-year- inquiry into the Iraq War carried out by Sir John Chilcot, 'The Independent' reports.
The Obama administration insists that certain parts of the inquiry cannot be released as they focussed on the conspiracy hatched by former leaders Bush & Blair, The Independent reported.
But Lindsey German tells RT:
“They are both trying to block this inquiry. It was set up in 2009. It was supposed to report in 2011. It is now being pushed back to at least the middle of next year and might be pushed back even further than that.”
The peace activist continues...
"There are definitely suspicious things going on here... The cabinet secretary in this country is the person who is blocking things. He is now blaming it on the US.
"But the truth of the matter is that neither he, who was an adviser to Blair previously, nor Blair, nor David Cameron, who supported the war, are particularly keen for the truth to come out.
"It makes you wonder exactly what is in these conversations between Bush and Blair. There must be quite a lot to hide for them to be so worried about them being released."
According to some leaks from the inquiry, Bush and Blair began conspiring for the Iraq War only weeks after Bush was inaugurated as president in 2001.
“There is no question that the Iraq War was unjustified, that it was based on false information; that the false information was presented both to the US public and to the UK Parliament by the leaders of both nations,” says W. Beeman, author & Middle East expert.
“If the report comes out, it will definitely prove that that’s the case,” he adds.
Just this Summer, the Reverend Tutu stated clearly that Bush and Blair are war criminals and should be put on trial at the Hague.
Instead of wrestling with gay bishops and nagging about women priests, shouldn't the ministers of religion in the UK and officials acquiescing in mass murder by NOT calling for Bush and Blair to be on trial for a war of aggression, be arrested now for culpable collusion?
Lindsey German again:
"What people are worried about is that there is maybe lots of evidence here for war crimes, for an agreement for a war over regime change, which of course is illegal under international law.
There may be lots of other things to come up. We’ve had a number of reports over the Iraq war, none of them satisfactory. People felt that maybe Chilcot would be better because it was a much more thorough going report.
"Nearly 200 British soldiers died during the Iraq War, hundreds of thousands of Iraqis died, and millions of people were demonstrating.
"All of these people have the right to know, and it is absolutely shameful that our government and the US government are trying to prevent them from knowing."
Palestinian negotiator says peace talks on hold...
The Chief Palestinian negotiator says that peace talks with Israel have been "on hold" since he and his colleagues handed in their resignations last month.
Saeb Erekat tells Xinhua he hopes Mahmoud Abbas will assign a new negotiating team to represent the Palestinians in the talks... brokered by the United States.
He notes that their resignations are still "pending", because Abbas has not yet approved them.
Erekat stresses that the resignations don't mean a withdrawal from the negotiations, which were only re-launched in July after a 3-year halt.
"The negotiations will complete their 9-month tenure," Erekat says.
IOF Troops Detain Palestinian Children Aged 5 to 9 Years
Israeli occupation troops detained 4 Palestinian children aged five to nine years for over an hour Friday in the West Bank - with their hands cuffed.
Palestinian sources say clashes with occupation forces erupted in the northern West bank village of Kfar Qaddum during the weekly protest there against Israeli occupation by Palestinians and international activists.
"Four children who were present in the area had stun grenades thrown at them by Israeli soldiers, which frightened them," says activist Murad Ashtiye of the village's Popular Struggle Coordination Committee.
"Then the soldiers arrested them and tied their hands behind their backs using plastic strips," he adds, identifying the children as Tariq Hikmet, 9, Hossam Khaldun, 7, six-year old Malak Hikmet and Ahmad Abdessalam, 5.
An Israeli military spokesperson says that troops rounded up minors during “rioting” in the village but held them only briefly.
"A group of Palestinian children were detected setting fire to tires," she says. "These riots usually start with burning tires being rolled at security forces."
"Soldiers rounded up the children to prevent mayhem and when a commander arrived shortly afterwards they were released," she says.
THE ISLAND OF LOVE
We call this the Peace Page, but it often carries news of wars and their consequences, so this news about a Love Festival in Cuba is a blessed change!
The 6th edition of the Love In Festival for Women took place in the Morro-Cabaña Complex, Havana.
In statements to Prensa Latina, Marilyn Chirino, a member of the event's organizing committee, says the objective of this festival was to bring knowledge closer to young people: specialists could interact with a new generation here, and it also set "guidelines" for the rights of women.
Community projects and artists from Colombia, Mexico, Peru, Costa Rica, Canada, the USA, Norway, and Spain, all converged at the festival.
During the event, over 700 domestic and foreign participants discussed gender, environmental health, progress in science and religion, and the concept of ecofeminism, among other issues.
Parallel to the main event, young and old artists offered concerts, trova and blue performances, craftwork, tattoos, and the screening of animated films.
The Love In Festival was sponsored by the Cuban Audiovisual Association, the Federation of Cuban Women, and the Environment Agency.
UN rejects Kenya bid to delay ICC trials of leaders
The UN Security Council has failed to delay by a year the ICC prosecution of Kenya's leaders over deadly violence after the elections in 2007.
RAISIN' A LAUGH
EU tries to renew illegal unilateral sanctions on Iran
EU officials are trying to reinstall asset freezes on several Iranian companies that were annulled by a court earlier this year.
The official EU announcement says they're not new sanctions, but the re-invigoration of existing ones, just as Iran is set to continue talks with the global powers on their civilian nuclear program that the West has claimed is for nuclear weapons.
In the US, President Obama is asking Congress to resist new sanctions as the nuclear talks continue.
The entire EU will have to agree on the move before it goes into effect, diplomats tell Reuters.