Tag Archive: E.U


Politics and Legislation

Obama gay marriage stance could win younger voters, lose independents

By Amie Parnes

President Obama’s unexpected announcement on Wednesday that he supports gay marriage ignited his political base but risks a backlash with independent voters in swing states.

Supporters on the left were particularly fired up by Obama’s shift, but political observers pointed to Tuesday night’s vote in North Carolina, where voters overwhelmingly opted to define marriage as legal only between one man and one woman, as proof the decision could come back to haunt the president.

“Last night’s vote in North Carolina was certainly a warning and a bit of a cautionary tale for the Obama campaign,” said Cal Jillson, a professor of political science at Southern Methodist University. “They’ve got to be taking notes.”

Obama’s statement doesn’t preface a change in policy for the administration, highlighting the administration’s cautious approach.

Senior administration officials said that Obama won’t push for federal legislation on gay marriage and that his acknowledgement on Wednesday won’t be the launch of some big campaign push.

Read Full Article Here

GOP shies away from offering healthcare reform alternative

By Sam Baker

Republicans might not offer a comprehensive plan to replace President Obama’s healthcare law if the Supreme Court strikes it down this summer.

House Republicans had said they would have a healthcare bill ready to go by the time of the ruling to present a clear alternative to the Democrats’ Affordable Care Act.

But now, with the high court’s ruling just weeks away, some conservatives are urging the party to abandon that strategy, fearing voters will recoil from another sweeping revamp of the healthcare system.

“I don’t want to go that route,” said Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-Ga.), a doctor and a member of the Energy and Commerce Committee.

The Supreme Court is expected to decide next month whether the healthcare law’s individual mandate is constitutional — and, if not, whether the rest of the law can stand.

A decision striking down all or part of the Affordable Care Act would validate GOP criticism of the law while renewing debate over how to fix a healthcare system that both parties agree is broken and unsustainable.

Rep. Joe Pitts (R-Pa.), chairman of the Energy and Commerce subcommittee on Health, told reporters early this year that Republicans were already working on a “replacement” plan that would pull together several longstanding GOP priorities.

But some Republicans, including Gingrey, now say a comprehensive bill isn’t the right approach. They argue it would be foolhardy for Republicans to put forward broad healthcare legislation after sharply criticizing the length and scope of Obama’s bill.

“I don’t believe we need to have another big omnibus bill that we’re going to roll out,” Gingrey said. “I don’t think that we need to make the same mistakes that the Obama administration and the Democrat Congress made.”

Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) is making the same case to Republicans on the other side of the Capitol.

“Whether the courts strike it down or Congress repeals it, Republicans shouldn’t repeat the Democrats’ mistake of rushing through our own big bill,” DeMint said.

Read Full Article Here

Al Jazeera’s Tim Friend on Greece’s political uncertainty

Published on May 11, 2012 by

Stalemate on formation of new government continues after elections ended inconclusively.

House Armed Services vote bans gay marriage on military bases

By Carlo Munoz

On the same day that President Obama threw the weight of the White House in support of gay marriage, defense lawmakers in the House banned the practice from taking place on U.S. military bases.

Members of the House Armed Services committee voted to include the measure by Rep. Steve Palazzo (R-Miss.) into the panel’s version of the fiscal 2013 defense authorization bill late Wednesday night.

The measure, which prevents “marriage or marriage-like ceremonies” between same-sex couples from taking place at American military bases, was approved by a 37 to 24 vote along party lines.

Republican panel members also approved language to protect military personnel from reprisals for expressing “their moral principles and religious beliefs… concerning the appropriate and inappropriate expression of human sexuality.”

That amendment, sponsored by Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.) was approved by a straight party-line vote of 36 to 25.

Committee members did not specifically mention Wednesday’s White House comments on gay marriage during the debate on the Palazzo and Akin amendments.

However, the shift in the administration’s position on the issue undoubtedly contributed to the spirited exchange between panel members.

Read Full Article Here

Obama’s New Courting of Hollywood Pays Off

Charles Dharapak/Associated Press

President Obama with Jeffrey Katzenberg, the head of DreamWorks Animation, at a 2009 Democratic National Committee fund-raiser. Mr. Katzenberg is a major supporter of Mr. Obama.

By and

George Clooney is hosting a $40,000-a-plate dinner for Mr. Obama.

The fruit of that effort became clear this week as Mr. Obama is scheduled to attend a fund-raiser on Thursday night at the Fryman Canyon home of the actor George Clooney. At last count, organizers said, the event had raised well over $6 million, plus many millions more through an online raffle, record territory. They said they stopped selling $40,000-a-plate tickets last week because there was no room to squeeze in any more tables.

Mr. Obama’s announcement on Wednesday that he now supported same-sex marriage should assure him a warm reception at the Clooney residence. Organizers had expected the president to face tough questions from an audience that had grown increasingly uncomfortable with his tentativeness on an issue of great importance here.

Norman Lear, the television producer, said moments after the announcement that he and his wife, Lyn, who had held back from giving money to Mr. Obama, would now contribute the maximum allowed, $80,000 between them. “This is the kind of leadership we support, and we are happy to max out today to his re-election campaign,” he said.

Read Full Article Here

Vermont Fracking Ban Poised To Become Law

HuffPost Green

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — Vermont appears on the verge of enacting the nation’s first statewide ban of a hotly debated natural gas drilling technique called hydraulic fracturing.

The House on Friday overwhelmingly approved a conference committee report calling for the ban. It now goes to the desk of Gov. Peter Shumlin, who has said he takes a dim view of hydraulic fracturing and is expected to sign the measure.

The technique involves injecting water and chemicals into the ground to split rock and release gas.

Critics of the ban say it could hurt economic development in the state, or could prompt a lawsuit from the natural gas industry.

Geologists say Vermont doesn’t appear likely to have much natural gas, but there may be some under northwestern Vermont.

Labor: Mofaz sold his soul to the devil

Knesset holds stormy session ahead of Kadima chairman’s induction as Coalition member. Opposition blames party for being a ‘rotten apple that undermines the public’s faith in the House’

Moran Azulay

 Israel News

The Knesset plenum held a heated session Wednesday, ahead of Kadima Chairman Shaul Mofaz‘s induction as a new minister in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu‘s government.

Mofaz will become a minister sans portfolio as part of the coalition agreement signed between the Likud and Kadima on Monday night, in a controversial move meant to avoid general elections in September.

The move – kept secret until after the agreement was signed – created an unprecedented coalition numbering 92 Knesset members.

It also left the Opposition virtually powerless, as it now lacks the ability to raise the necessary 40 MK signatures for a nonconfidence vote.

Lapid: New coalition as big as Ceausescu’s in Romania

Rookie politician tells Rabbinical Assembly in Atlanta Bibi-Mofaz unity deal offers his party chance to become sole representative of ‘moderate voting class’

Attila Somfalvi

Latest Update: 05.09.12, 00:45 / Israel News

“Kadima came back to be what it has actually always has been, which is part of the Likud,” Yair Lapid said Tuesday during an address to the Rabbinical Assembly of the Conservative Movement in Atlanta following the unity agreement between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Kadima Chairman Shaul Mofaz.

“They came back home and I want to use this opportunity to congratulate them on this reunification,” he said.

“The last person who had such a coalition was Nicolae Ceausescu in Romania,” the journalist-turned politician said to laughter.

“Not everything that happened in the last 24 hours is bad,” Lapid told the Rabbinical Assembly. “Kadima is returning to Likud and the political map in Israel has now changed in a way that now allows my party (Yesh Atid) to become the sole representation of Israel’s moderate voting class.”

Lapid also referred to the issues of conversion and freedom of prayer, strongly supporting Jewish women to pray at the Western Wall. “Israel cannot be the only country in the Western World that has no freedom of religion to choose. This is just blatantly wrong and it must disappear,” he said. “I will do everything in my power to ensure the equality of all religious movements in Israel.”

Read Full Article Here

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Economy

Banking crisis hits ordinary Spaniards hard

Published on May 11, 2012 by

The Spanish government has announced major reforms to the country’s banking sector. The key measures include requiring banks to set aside more money to protect themselves from bad loans, and an independent audit of the sector’s debts and assets.

Spanish banks are saddled with large amounts of bad debt, after the property market collapsed in 2008. The resulting crisis hit ordinary Spaniards hard, as Sonia Gallego reports from Madrid.

U.S. Gives Green Light to Chinese Banks’ Expansion

Published on May 11, 2012 by

The Federal Reserve approved plans by three Chinese banks on Wednesday to expand in the United States, including the first acquisition of a U.S. retail-banking network by a state-owned Chinese lender.

JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon: $2 Billion Trading Loss Could Spread to Another Billion or More

Published on May 11, 2012 by

JPMorgan Chase announced on Thursday it suffered a trading loss of at least 2 billion dollars from a failed hedging strategy, a shock disclosure that hit financial stocks and the reputation of the bank and its CEO, Jamie Dimon.

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Wars and Rumors of War

WASHINGTON, May 8, 2012 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ — The following is being released by the Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy:

Declassified files from long-running investigations of the Nuclear Materials and Equipment Corporation (NUMEC) over alleged illegal diversions of US government-owned weapons-grade uranium to Israel are now available online at http://www.IRmep.org/ila/numec

The 733 pages of information obtained under the Freedom of Information Act for the new book Divert! NUMEC, Zalman Shapiro and the diversion of US weapons-grade uranium into the Israeli nuclear weapons program include:

A 1980 FBI interview of an eyewitness (PDF) of NUMEC executives stuffing U-235 canisters into sealed equipment shipped to Israel.

CIA Director of Operations Carl Duckett’s 1978 testimony about NUMEC (PDF) before the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Atomic Energy Commissioner Glenn T. Seaborg’s reaction (PDF) to news that traces of Portsmouth U-235 of the type supplied to NUMEC had been picked up in Israel.

NUMEC corporate correspondence (PDF) with the AEC claiming that undercover Israeli intelligence agents Rafael Eitan and Ephraim Beigun visiting NUMEC in 1968 were merely energy scientists.

National Security Advisor Zbigniew Bresinski’s 1979 order (PDF) that Senator John Glenn not be given direct access to a top secret memorandum about “missing material from the NUMEC plant in Apollo, PA.”

Deputy Attorney General Benjamin Civiletti’s confidential letter (PDF) to President Jimmy Carter to “establish a plan for coordinated interagency action to detect and investigate the theft or diversion of nuclear material in the future.”

A 1978 congressional interview transcript (PDF) with NUMEC President Dr. Zalman Shapiro.

National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger’s 1969 strategy document (PDF) about how the US should respond to Israel’s clandestine nuclear weapons program. “There is circumstantial evidence that some fissionable material available for Israel’s weapons development was illegally obtained from the United States by about 1965.”

FBI wiretap (PDF) of a 1969 toxic spill at NUMEC caused by improper storage.

According to a 2001 Department of Energy report, NUMEC lost 269 kilograms of highly enriched uranium between 1957 and 1968–the highest in the US and enough for dozens of atomic weapons. The former NUMEC factory site is currently undergoing a toxic cleanup the US Army Corps of Engineers estimates could cost taxpayers between $250-$500 million. The newly published book Divert! (available in paperback and Kindle) presents additional evidence that NUMEC–unable to complete US government contracts or protect workers and the environment–was originally established as a nuclear smuggling front.

SOURCE Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy

Copyright (C) 2012 PR Newswire. All rights reserved

Supposed Would-Be Underwear Bomber Is CIA Informant

Obama officials tried to present this as some successfully foiled terror attack, while it was anything but

U.S. and Yemeni officials have confirmed that the supposed would-be underwear bomber at the heart of an al-Qaeda airliner plot revealed this week was actually an informant working for the CIA and Saudi intelligence all along.

Members of the Obama administration spent virtually all of yesterday parading throughout major media outlets claiming their intrepid counterterrorism efforts successfully foiled a terrorist plot to blow up an American airliner. But now officials have anonymously confirmed that the plot, like so many other “successfully foiled” terror attacks, was hatched by the CIA from the start.

Instead of showing that the CIA and the counterterrorism policies of the U.S. are keeping Americans safe from harm, or that al-Qaeda is making “inroads,” as former director of the National Counterterrorism Center Michael Leiter said, all this lauded incident shows is that the CIA can get weapons from shadowy sources and blow up planes, if it wanted to.

Officials say the informant was working for the CIA and Saudi Arabian intelligence when he was given the bomb by alleged terrorists. He then turned the device over to authorities.

This explains what many people had wondered about in the day since this supposed terror plot was revealed. There was so much secrecy about the plot, and zero information about who it was that attempted to bomb an airliner. Officials simply repeated that Americans were in no danger and the would-be bomber was “in no position to harm the United States.”

Farage: We face the prospect of mass civil unrest, even revolution

• Speaker: Nigel Farage MEP, Leader of the UK Independence Party (UKIP), Co-President of the \’Europe of Freedom and Democracy\’ (EFD) Group in the European Parliament

• Debate: Statement by the President of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz MEP, on the occasion of Europe Day

Transcript:

Well, happy Schuman Day, or Europe Day, as you now call it, although I thought the celebrations were rather muted. The only bit of real passion we had was Mr Schulz slagging off the English but that now appears to be the sort of popular sport in this parliament.

And when people stand up and talk about the great success that the EU has been I\’m not sure that anybody saying it really believes it themselves anymore. I think we are celebrating the wrong day.

We shouldn\’t be celebrating the 9th of May, we should be celebrating the 8th of May, Victory in Europe Day. We should celebrate the last time the Germans tried to smash the continent and they foundered and at least half the continent got its democracy back.

What we are celebrating on the 9th of May is another attempt through different means, to smash democracy across Europe. I don\’t doubt for a minute that Jean Monnet was well intentioned from the start. He thought that if you abolish nation states you would stop there ever being another war. He didn\’t at the time of course have the benefit of seeing that theory as it played out in Yugoslavia.

But like Communism, this has all gone badly wrong. And the EU Titanic has now hit the iceberg. It is a European Union of economic failure, of mass unemployment, of low growth, but worst of all, it\’s an EU with the economic prison of the Euro. And this now poses huge dangers to the continent. We face the prospect of mass civil unrest possibly even revolution in some countries that are being driven into total and utter desperation. But there is perhaps an opportunity. There is perhaps some good news.

That now a democratic rebellion has begun, and it began in Finland last year, with the True Finns getting nearly 20% of the vote. And we\’re seeing in country after country new political movements on the right and the left making big scores.

But that may not all be good news. Because in Greece what we saw, last Sunday, was rather reminiscent of the German election of 1932. We saw the status quo centre collapse the extremes of right and left rise. You know this project could even cause the rebirth of national socialism in Europe. We are headed the wrong way. We must break up the Euro zone. We must set those Mediterranean countries free. We must try to build a Europe, I want a Europe – but a Europe based on trade. A Europe based on co-operation. A Europe based on us sitting around the table and agreeing sensible rules on crime and the environment. We can do all of those things. But we cannot do it if we are asked to rally behind that flag. I owe no allegiance to that flag and nor do most of the people in Europe either!

Watch Video Here

‘Netanyahu forming war government’

Arab newspapers interpret new Netanyahu-Mofaz alliance as preamble for war
Roi Kais

Ynetnews.com

Newspapers across the Arab world could not ignore Israel’s political drama and the declaration of a unity government on Tuesday. Benjamin Netanyahu and Shaul Mofaz were described as conniving war mongers and corrupt politicians as editorials declared war was looming.

“Netanyahu is forming a war government,” al-Quds al-Arabi’s headline cried. “No one knows what goes on through the mind of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on many regional issues these days. One can predict that this man is scheming and planning wars after murdering the peace process with the settlement policy in the occupied Arab territories,” the London-based paper said.

The UAE paper al-Bayan printed an editorial titled “A government challenges peace.” The headline in Saudi Arabia’s al-Madina paper read: “Israel prepares for war.”
מתוך אתר "אל-קודס אל-ערבי"

Al-Quds al-Arabi predicts war

The paper analyzed Netanyahu as a statesman and ruled he was “concerned about his status in Israeli history and wants to be remembered as the leader who destroyed the Iranian nuclear program and solidified Israel’s nuclear monopoly in the region.”

Lebanon’s popular as-Safir newspaper chose to address the political drama from a different perspective. Titled “Israeli recklessness,” its editorial explained that the “news (of early elections) turned out to be random fraud but it captured the attention of the entire world and became the focus of analyses and estimates that war is looming.”

“The country once described as the only democracy in the Middle East is slowly emerging to be nothing more than a yard-sale, not just because some of its Arab neighbors are trying to establish true democratic models but because its current statesmen are behaving like crime bosses.”

China bangs the war drum over South China Sea

Protester Tsang Kin-shing, who supports Chinese sovereignty over the Scarborough Shoal, prepares to burn a paper Philippine and a US flag during a protest at the Philippine consulate China has warned that it is ready to take military action to defend what it says is its territory

War talk, it seems, is all the rage in China at the minute.

Yes, there are serious people in serious publications seriously advocating war.

You might have missed it during all the fuss about Chen Guangcheng, but, for a month now, China has been embroiled in an increasingly bellicose dispute with the Philippines.

So what is going on? Well, strange as it may seem, the two stories may be connected.

At the heart of the issue is what is called Scarborough Shoal by the Philippines and Huangyan Island by China, a little more than 100 miles (160km) from the Philippines and 500 miles from China.

The names are a bit misleading because this is a series of rocks, reefs and small islands stretching across an area of about 150sq km (58 sq miles) of the South China Sea, claimed by both the Philippines and China.

You can see what one “island” looks like here, a screenshot taken from a Chinese TV report yesterday – that is the reporter posing on the rock, and then planting the Chinese flag on it, which gives an insight into the way the issue is being played by China’s media.

For a month now, there has been a standoff between Chinese and Philippine fishing and coastguard vessels near the outcrops.

The Global Times, a highly nationalistic English language paper produced by the Communist Party’s People’s Daily Group, has a useful map that shows how far China’s territorial claims extend, on this special page it is now devoting to this ‘conflict’.

Read Full Article Here

A Container-Load Of Onions Will Make Drug Dealers Weep

Published on May 11, 2012 by

Pakistan authorities have seized 125 kilograms of heroin powder and arrested two people in the southern city of Karachi, a customs official said on Friday (May 11).
The shipment was destined for Port Klan, Malaysia and booked from Karachi, said official Mohammad Vigio.

He said the drugs were recovered on Thursday (May 10), during routine inspection of an export consignment of onions, at the Pakistan International Container Terminal.

Vighio said the heroin powder was stuffed in yellow and purple colored pouches shaped like onions which were concealed in the onion bags themselves.

Vighio said the drugs would be worth millions of dollars on the international market.
Two individuals have been arrested and efforts were in hand to arrest the remaining suspects.

Pakistan is a major conduit for drugs flowing out of its western neighbor, Afghanistan, which is the world’s largest producer of heroin and a major hashish producer.

Production has soared to near record levels in Afghanistan since the overthrow of the Taliban late in 2001, despite the presence of thousands of U.S.-led troops in the country.

Gun Battle Erupts In Sinaloa Killing at Least Five People

Published on May 11, 2012 by

A shootout between military and an alleged drugs gang left at least five dead on Thursday in Sinaloa located in Northern Mexico. The gunfire took place as military pursued armed men travelling in adapted police vans. As the battle escalated, some of the criminals fled the scene on foot leaving behind one of the two trucks. The second vehicle then caught on fire, with the suspected drugs and criminals still inside. Guns, bullets, communication devices and protective helmets were found inside. There were also signs that the truck has been customized so guns could be fired from the inside. Sinaloa state is home to a cartel run by Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, one of the government’s most wanted criminals.

U.N. Official Condemns Sudanese Attacks, Calling it ‘International Crime

Published on May 11, 2012 by

The United Nations on Friday (May 11) condemned Sudan’s recent aerial bombardment of civilian areas in South Sudan, and said it could amount to an international crime.

Last month Sudan and South Sudan’s fued over oil flared up into direct armed conflict on their ill-defined border, drawing threats of UN sanctions if the two sides did not immediately cease hostilities.

This week South Sudan, which gained independence in July last year, accused Sudan of breaking the ceasefire by bombing seven locations along their border.

“I am saddened and outraged to learn that such attacks – which place civilians at great risk and have already killed and injured some and caused many thousands of others to flee – have been taking place again in recent days,” UN human rights chief Navanethem Pillay said.

South Sudan accused Sudan on Wednesday (May 9) of bombing and shelling seven areas on the southern side of their disputed border in the last 48 hours, calling the acts a violation of a U.N.-backed ceasefire which should have begun on Saturday (May 5).

“I have seen photographs showing recent huge bomb craters in civilian areas including a market place. Deliberate or reckless attacks on civilian areas can, depending on the circumstances, amount to an international crime,” Pillay added.

The two neighbouring countries disagree on a range of issues relating to partition, particularly how much the South should pay for exporting its oil through Sudan.

Tension between the two old civil war foes, which erupted into border fighting last month, could hamper international efforts to push them to resume negotiations on various outstanding disputes.

Simmering disputes over oil exports, border demarcation and citizenship, stemming from the South’s secession as an independent nation last year, bubbled over into direct clashes between the two rival armies in April.

As the conflict escalated, the United Nations condemned Sudanese air strikes on South Sudan’s territory and international pressure forced South Sudanese forces to withdraw from the oil-rich area of Heglig which they had occupied.

The fighting prompted the Security Council to pass a resolution threatening sanctions if the two sides did not follow the AU roadmap, which stipulates a ceasefire and a return to negotiations.

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Articles of Interest

Michael Allison Case Dismissed By Illinois Atty General! – 7th Circuit Court Bans Eavesdropping Law!

Published on May 9, 2012 by

We are sad to hear that Chris Drew passed away after fighting lung cancer. He fought valiantly for all our rights. His lawyer says she will continue to fight his case in court. Michael Allison now needs an Attorney to represent him in a lawsuit to fight the Illinois Eavesdropping Statute.

U.S. military conducts ‘realistic urban training’ exercise in Miami

By Madison Ruppert

Editor of End the Lie

Miami residents were startled to hear the sound of low-flying military helicopters and explosions emanating from the abandoned Grand Bay Hotel in the early hours of Tuesday morning.

It turns out that the United States military was conducting a “realistic urban training” exercise involving some 100 soldiers organized by the U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM).

This is just one of many military exercises being held on American soil in recent years, including an inter-agency exercise conducted in my local area of Los Angeles. My attempts to obtain any information on that drill were thwarted and/or ignored by the Los Angeles Police Department.

With the many military drills being conducted in urban locales, the legislative frameworks in place, as well as KBR’s “National Quick Response Teams,” the similar solicitation put out by FEMA not long ago, and the recently exposed internment and resettlement operations manual (see below video), I believe that many Americans are likely concerned about what this all means.

Oops! Air Force Drones Can Now (Accidentally) Spy on You

Photo: U.S. Air Force

As long as the Air Force pinky-swears it didn’t mean to, its drone fleet can keep tabs on the movements of Americans, far from the battlefields of Afghanistan, Pakistan or Yemen. And it can hold data on them for 90 days — studying it to see if the people it accidentally spied upon are actually legitimate targets of domestic surveillance.

The Air Force, like the rest of the military and the CIA, isn’t supposed to conduct “nonconsensual surveillance” on Americans domestically, according to an Apr. 23 instruction from the flying service. But should the drones taking off over American soil accidentally keep their cameras rolling and their sensors engaged, well … that’s a different story.

Collected imagery may incidentally include US persons or private property without consent,” reads the instruction (.pdf), unearthed by the secrecy scholar Steven Aftergood of the Federation of American Scientists. That kind of “incidental” spying won’t be immediately purged, however. The Air Force has “a period not to exceed 90 days” to get rid of it — while it determines “whether that information may be collected under the provisions” of a Pentagon directive that authorizes limited domestic spying.

Bodies, No Survivors Spotted at Superjet Crash

In this picture released by Indonesian Air Force,  the wreckage of a missing Sukhoi Superjet-100 are scattered on the mountainside in Bogor, West Java, Indonesia, Thursday.

Indonesian Air Force / AP

In this picture released by Indonesian Air Force,  the wreckage of a missing Sukhoi Superjet-100 are scattered on the mountainside in Bogor, West Java, Indonesia, Thursday.

Search and rescue helicopters and volunteers struggling through thick forest and mountainous terrain spotted bodies but no survivors on the Indonesian mountainside where a Sukhoi Superjet 100 crashed by the time darkness forced an end to the search Thursday night.

The loss of the twin-engine passenger jet, which disappeared from radar screens 21 minutes into a demonstration flight on Wednesday, put a freeze on the planned sale of 48 of the craft to Indonesian carriers, the Jakarta Post reported. But industry watchers are predicting a serious impact on all global sales of the new jet, especially if the accident turns out to be a result of technical failure rather than pilot error.

“We haven’t found survivors,” Gagah Prakoso, a spokesman for the search and rescue team, told Indonesia’s Metro TV on Thursday as he announced the discovery of the first bodies, Reuters reported.

Difficult terrain means rescuers will have to wait for the weather to clear before attempting to recover bodies using nets suspended from helicopters, rescuers said. But reports about the search in a mountainous and heavily forested region of the island of Java were confused, with some saying no one has yet reached the scene.

A Russian blogger who was meant to be on the flight said information about the progress of the recovery operation was confusing and contradictory.

“For especially hasty media: Not one person has been to the crash site yet,” Sergei Dolya, who has published photographs of the plane and its wreckage on his Twitter account, tweeted Thursday afternoon.

Writing from what he called the “headquarters” of the rescue operation, he said paratroopers trying to descend to the crash site by helicopter had been unable to jump, but 350 people were trying to climb an 80-degree slope from below.

“Every 10 minutes there is completely contradictory information. No exact info at all,” Dolya tweeted.

The wreckage was found at an altitude of about 1,768 meters on the slopes of the volcanic Mount Salak, about 64 kilometers from Jakarta, on Thursday morning. The plane apparently slammed into a spur of the mountain, not clearing the sheer face of the volcano only by several dozen meters. The aircraft apparently broke into several pieces.

There were 45 people on board, including eight Russian crew members, representatives of the several Indonesian airlines and local journalists who had been invited to join the demonstration flight.

Both Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono have ordered the formation of special groups to ascertain the cause of the crash, but little progress will be made before flight recorders can be recovered.

Air traffic controllers say they lost contact with the aircraft after the pilot and co-pilot asked for permission to drop from 3,000 meters to 1,800 meters — an unusual maneuver so close to the mountain.

The area around Mount Salak has seen seven air crashes in the past decade, the Jakarta Post reported Thursday.

Sukhoi chief test pilot Alexander Yablontsev, with more than 25 years of flying experience, was at the controls. He piloted the jet on its maiden flight in 2008. His co-pilot Alexander Kochetkov, also a test pilot, graduated flight school in 2003. Neither had flown in Indonesia before, the Straights Times reported Thursday.

Magomed Tolboyev, a military test pilot and commander in the Interior Ministry, likened the crash to the crash of a Tu-154 in Katyn in 2010 that killed 96 people, including the Polish prime minister.

“It’s the same situation as with the Polish crew — poor flight planning. There is very difficult terrain in Java, so you need to plan every step of the flight to the centimeter,” he told Kommersant FM radio.

Sukhoi has insisted that all pre-flight preparations were conducted properly and that the plane was in good working order.

Read Full Article Here
The Moscow Times

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[In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit, for research and/or educational purposes. This constitutes ‘FAIR USE’ of any such copyrighted material.]

Politics and Legislation

Inside Story: The widening rift in Israeli politics

Published on Apr 30, 2012 by

Is there a rift between the Prime Minster and the security establishment, and how might it affect his chances of re-election?
Inside Story discusses with guests: Naftali Bennett, Daniel Ben Simon and Rami Khouri.

Tarp Overseer Debunks Bailout Myths: Big Companies HAVEN’T Repaid Tarp Funds … And Funds to Help Homeowners HAVEN’T Been Paid

Source: Washington’s Blog

Apologists for government bailouts push two main myths:

  • That all of the bailout funds have been repaid
  • That the bailouts helped the average American

But the official government overseer of the Tarp bailout program – the special inspector general for TARP, Christy L. Romero – has debunked both myths.

Today, Romero wrote the following to Congress:

After 3½ years, the Troubled Asset Relief Program (“TARP”) continues to be an active and significant part of the Government’s response to the financial crisis. It is a widely held misconception that TARP will make a profit. The most recent cost estimate for TARP is a loss of $60 billion. Taxpayers are still owed $118.5 billion (including $14 billion written off or otherwise lost).

And earlier this month, Romero stated that the portion of the Tarp funds which were supposed to help homeowners haven’t been disbursed:

A fund to support homeowners in the communities hit hardest by the collapse of the housing bubble has disbursed just 3 percent of its budget and aided only 30,640 homeowners in the two years since its creation, according to a report released on Thursday by a federal watchdog office.

The Hardest Hit Fund, which was created in the spring of 2010, grants money to state housing finance agencies for efforts to help families that are facing foreclosure. It has “experienced significant delay” because of “a lack of comprehensive planning” by the Treasury Department and limited participation by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the large mortgage servicers, said the report by the special inspector general for the Troubled Asset Relief Program.

“Look at the TARP money that goes out to the banks,” said Special Inspector General Christy Romero in an interview with The Huffington Post. “That goes out in a matter of days. This has been two years and only 3 percent of these funds have trickled out to homeowners.”

Indeed, bailing out the big banks hurts – rather than helps – the American economy.  See this, this and this.   (And it doesn’t take a PhD economist to guess that using bailout funds to buy gold toilet seats and prostitutes is probably not the best way to stimulate the economy as a whole).

The only way to really stimulate the economy would be for the government to give money to the little guy on Main Street – instead of the big boys on Wall Street.  And see this.

Yet the big banks continue today to be bailed out through a wide variety of overt and hidden schemes … while the little guy gets nothing.

Read Full Article Here

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Economy

Home foreclosure and housing market

China’s economic growth has pollution cost

by Staff Writers
Dongbei, China (UPI)


disclaimer: image is for illustration purposes only

China’s stunning economic growth will continue to be energy-intensive and highly polluting for the foreseeable future, a study says.

An analysis of the balance between economic growth, energy consumption and pollution gives a positive outlook for average gross domestic product but presents a bleak view regarding a lack of sustainability and failure to meet environmental targets, the study published in the International Journal of Global Energy Issues reported.

Economist Yanqing Xia of Dongbei University of Finance and Economics examined almost a decade’s worth of data from 30 Chinese provinces to model trends in pollution, energy consumption and economic growth.

A rapid increase in energy consumption has come from the development of manufacturing and heavy industries, which in turn cause a rise in pollution and carbon emissions that are adding to environmental harm on a global scale, with significant impacts on ecological systems, the economist said.

“China’s economic growth is still powered by physical capital expansion and substantial energy consumption,” she said. “Energy consumption and pollution still increase with China’s economic growth.”

Economic growth and environmental protection must now be bound together, she said.

“Economic growth may continue unhindered for many years in China but the environmental payback may stymie opportunities to reap the rewards of that growth because of the harm that ignoring environmental urgency may cause.”

Related Links
Our Polluted World and Cleaning It Up

The truth about the EU court’s €70,000 wine cellar

by Justin Stares

 
The European Court of Justice has built up a wine collection of almost 4,000 bottles worth at least €70,000 but denies claims judges are spending public money on their favorite vintagesGiven the savage budget cuts across member states, it is not surprising that the European Court of Justice is reticent to reveal details of its Luxembourg wine cellar. According to the rumour mill, the 27 senior judges quaff quality vintages in a dining room to which mortals have no access. Some say they intervene personally to decide which wines should be purchased with public money every year.Is this true? The initial responses from the court are non-committal. The institution has a “functioning wine cellar”, not a collection of fine and rare wines, the press and information unit underlines. “Like all the EU institutions, the court carries out a number of protocol activities, including welcoming various dignitaries, some of whom are provided with food and drink as appropriate,” the press department tells PublicServiceEurope.com.

It adds: “This wine is purchased in accordance with the EU’s financial regulations and the principal reason for the court having a wine cellar built up over the years is to allow the court to save money, as you can imagine buying the wine as and when needed from a supplier would cost considerably more.” There is evidently no court sommelier, merely staff well versed in wine.

After two months of gentle and then less gentle prompting, the court agrees to release further details. There are 3,729 bottles currently in the cellar, of which 2,920 are red and 809 are white. The average red was purchased at a price of €21.82, while the average white was worth almost €12. The entire collection, therefore, has a price tag of around €70,000, though some of the bottles are sure to have increased in value over time. Purchases are made via tender once a year. On one recent occasion, only white wine was required as the cellar was considered too heavy in reds. The court spends, on average, around €15,000 a year on wine.

Read Full Article Here

Tens Of Thousands Protest Austerity In Spain

Demonstrators hold signs that read “No to cuts” during a protest in downtown Madrid April 29, 2012. Thousands of people protested across Spain on Sunday against government cuts aimed at tackling a debt crisis that has pushed the country back into recession and sent unemployment close to 25 percent. (REUTERS/Susana Vera)

Reuters reports:

MADRID – Thousands of people protested across Spain on Sunday against government cuts aimed at tackling a debt crisis that has pushed the country back into recession and sent unemployment close to 25 percent.

Protesters closed central parts of the capital Madrid on a wet Sunday to protest against cuts to education and health services the government says must be made to help slash the public deficit.

“It’s getting worse for us all. People are starting to protest more because it’s affecting every sector. It’s affecting everyone”The protests, which were peaceful, were mirrored in over 50 cities across the country as Spaniards grow weary of austerity measures and years of hardship triggered by a real estate crash in the wake of the global financial crisis in 2008.

“It’s getting worse for us all. People are starting to protest more because it’s affecting every sector. It’s affecting everyone,” said Charo, a middle-aged woman with her children in Madrid.

Labour unions called for large-scale protests to continue in coming months to persuade leaders they should not rely solely on cuts to deal with the deficit and should aim to stimulate growth.

Some protesters were disappointed by the numbers turning out in support, which they said was down to the rain, and fatigue at the length of a crisis.

“People are not protesting in huge numbers; I don’t know what it’s going to take for the people to really stand up. The disenchantment is so brutal that people will not stand up and protest,” said Julian, a pensioner.

Many people waved labor union flags and held banners against the cuts to the country’s prized healthcare system that will add to medicine costs, and to its education budget, which will increase the hours worked by teachers and the number of pupils per classroom.

More protests are expected this week in the country’s second largest city Barcelona before the European Central bank holds its rate-setting meeting there on Thursday.

Read Full Article Here
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Wars and Rumors of War

Lebanon seizes 150 tons of Libyan arms en route to Syrian rebels

Published on Apr 29, 2012 by

As the violence in Syria continues unabated, neighbouring Lebanon has seized a shipment of smuggled weapons, destined for Syrian rebels. The sea-bound cache apparently came from Libya, which is backing the opponents of President Assad.

Franklin Lamb, director of the NGO, Americans Concerned for Middle East Peace talks to RT. He thinks the latest arms smuggling effort was an attempt at regime change.

The Egyptian Revolution and Neo-Liberal Economics

Workers protest as European Bank seeks to ratify $1.5 bn in loans to Egypt

Transcript

DANYA NADAR: WORSENING ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL CONDITIONS FOR THE POOR AND MIDDLE CLASS WERE MAJOR FACTORS BEHIND LAST YEAR’S TAHRIR UPRISING. THESE WORKERS SAY LIFE HAS ONLY GOTTEN HARDER UNDER THE MILITARY JUNTA THAT REPLACED FORMER PRESIDENT HOSNI MUBARAK.

From transport workers:o “Cooking gas is LE 25 ($5), a kilo of vegetables is LE 7 ($1.5), a kilo of meat is LE 70 ($10.50), a kilo of fish is LE 20 ($4)”NATSOT: Wide shot x2Bread, freedom, social justiceNATSOT- “There is no social justice at all. There is no indication that there ever will be any.”- Light Rail Supervisor: o “As long as there are unmet demands among workers and poor Egyptians, it means that the revolutionary demands have not yet been met. The revolution was sparked for “freedom, social justice, and human dignity”. The administration is still trying to seek its best interests” VO— Since early 2012, international financial institutions have been negotiating loans for what they say will help rebuild Egypt’s ailing economy. The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, [also called the EBRD], is awaiting approval from its shareholders to provide $1.5bn in annual loans to Egypt. This will be the first time since its establishment that the EBRD has lent to the Middle East. On February 2012, the EBRD published its technical assessment of the country, recommending the continuation of more than 20 years of privatization policies.SOT—FATMA RAMADAN, Vice President, Egyptian Independent Workers’ Union“Workers have expressed their opinion with regards to privatization by staging walk-outs, strikes, and sit-ins in front of the parliament over the last few years. We used to find five or six companies simultaneously protesting in front of parliament. On Labor Day, 2010 we saw another sit-in in front of parliament, workers from across industries: telecommunications’, or [Amoncito], or [Tanta le Ketan], or Ghazly Shebeen, and a slew of privatized companies simply to say: ‘privatization ruined our livelihoods’, privatization destroyed the company, privatization kicked us out of work, etc… All of their chants were against privatization and the reinstatement of the institution into public hands.”

Read Full Transcripts Here

Report: Bahraini police beat, torture detainees

By the CNN Wire Staff
updated 5:39 AM EDT, Mon April 30, 2012
Bahraini Shiite Muslims march during a demonstration in the village of Jidhafs, west of Manama, on April 27, 2012.
Bahraini Shiite Muslims march during a demonstration in the village of Jidhafs, west of Manama, on April 27, 2012.

(CNN) — Police in Bahrain regularly resort to beating anti-government protesters, despite officials’ pledges to stop such practices, a human rights group said Sunday.

A Bahraini government spokesman denied that allegation and others made in the Human Rights Watch report.

“The allegations are absurd, and unfortunately, we ask for human rights organizations not to rely on unreliable sources,” said government spokesman Abdul-Aziz bin Mubarak Al Khalifa.

Human Rights Watch said interviews revealed at least five instances in the past month in which police severely beat detainees — some of whom were minors, according to a report issued after representatives from the group finished a five-day visit to the island nation.

Treatment of prisoners inside police stations and formal detention facilities has improved, Human Rights Watch said, and Bahrain appears to have made “rapid progress” in eliminating torture inside police stations after a committee last year recommended installing video cameras there.

But now, according to Human Rights Watch, beating and torture of prisoners is continuing at informal facilities and in secluded outdoor areas, where detainees have been taken for up to two hours before they’re transferred to police stations.

“Bahrain’s leaders need to make clear that they will investigate and punish those responsible for abuses when the cameras are off,” Human Rights Watch said.

The Bahraini government spokesman said Human Rights Watch’s relationship with political activists “is such that they don’t check the legitimacy or facts behind the allegations.”

Read Full Article Here

Allies to form nuclear attack contingency plan

This April 18, 2012 satellite image provided by GeoEye appears to show a train of mining carts, at the lower center of the frame, and other preparations underway at North Korea’s Punggye-ri nuclear test site, but no indication of when a detonation might take place, according to analysis by the U.S.-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. (AP-Yonhap News)

The South Korean and U.S. militaries will develop operational scenarios for possible nuclear attacks by North Korea as part of their efforts to improve the ability to respond to weapons of mass destruction, the Ministry of National Defense said Friday.

The scenarios will be discussed at a bilateral table-top exercise later this year aimed at political and military preparations for the North’s nuclear attacks.

The two sides also agreed to cooperate in conducting research and to hold seminars for high-level decision makers in relation to the issue at the first Korea-U.S. Integrated Defense Dialogue meeting that was concluded on Friday in Washington. The establishment of the Korea-U.S. Integrated Defense Dialogue, or KIDD, was agreed to last year as a high-level communications channel for overseeing the Security Policy Initiative, or SPI, and Strategic Alliance 2015 Working Group, or SA2015WG. The KIDD also encompasses the Extended Deterrence Policy Committee, or EDPC

Read Full Article Here

News

American Forces Press Service

 News Article

Al-Qaida Offshoots Are Biggest Terror Threat, Official Says

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 29, 2012 – Core al-Qaida – the group led by Osama bin Laden – has been surpassed by its affiliates as the biggest terrorist threat to the United States, a senior intelligence official said.

“With bin Laden’s death, the global jihadist movement lost its most iconic, most effective and most inspirational leader,” Robert T. Cardillo, deputy director for intelligence integration with the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, told reporters in an April 27 conference call.

Bin Laden’s death allowed al-Qaida second-in-command Ayman al Zawahiri to move up, but he has not changed the group’s strategic direction and does not have the charisma to appeal to new recruits, Cardillo said.

Navy SEALs killed bin Laden in Pakistan during an intelligence-driven operation on May 2, 2011.

The al-Qaida offshoots – al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, al-Shabob in Somalia, al-Qaida in the Mahgreb – “will surpass the core al-Qaida remaining in Pakistan,” Cardillo said. “Each group will seek opportunities to strike Western interests in its operating area, but each group will have different intent and opportunity to execute those plans.”

The “Arab Spring” uprisings that began last year have influenced the jihadist movement, the deputy director said. “The unrest and reduced security provides terrorists inspired by that movement more operating space as security services focus more on internal security and regime stability,” he said.

As new Middle East leaders address public demands for their participation in government, “we assess that core al-Qaida and the jihadist movement will suffer a strategic setback in that the Arab Spring strikes at the very core of their jihadist narrative,” he said.

Al-Qaida believes in progress by violence, but the elections in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen and the up-coming election in Libya rebuke that assertion, Cardillo said.

“However, prolonged instability or unmet promises by these new governments … would give al-Qaida, its affiliates and its allies more time to establish networks, gain support and potentially engage in operations,” he said.

Biographies:
Robert T. Cardillo

 

 

Gaza armed groups urged to abduct Israelis to free Palestinian prisoners

 

Palestinians take part in a rally in Gaza City to show solidarity with Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails. (Reuters)

Palestinians take part in a rally in Gaza City to show solidarity with Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails. (Reuters)

By Al Arabiya with Agencies

Islamic leaders in the Gaza Strip called on Friday for armed groups to kidnap Israelis and use them as bargaining chips to secure the freedom of thousands of Palestinians prisoners held in Israeli jails.

Human rights groups say up to 2,000 prisoners have joined an open-ended hunger strike to protest against jail conditions and thousands of Palestinians staged a rally in the Gaza Strip to support their cause.

“We should work hard to get (Israeli) prisoners in our hands in order to secure the freedom of our prisoners,” Khaled al-Batsh, a senior member of the Islamic Jihad, told the crowd.

“I say to all armed factions, the way to free the prisoners is through swaps … An arrest for an arrest, and freedom for freedom. This is the way,” he said, according to Reuters.

Israel last year freed some 1,000 Palestinians in return for the release of Gilad Shalit, a soldier seized in 2006 and held by the Islamist group Hamas in secret captivity for five years.

Human Rights groups say at least 4,700 Palestinians remain in Israeli jails, many of them convicted for violent crimes. Palestinian leaders say they should be treated as prisoners of war, something Israel rejects.

Ismail Haniyeh, the Hamas leader in Gaza, said Palestinian armed factions would “never abandon” the prisoners.

“The swap deal was a message to the (Israeli) occupation that the resistance and the Palestinian people will pursue every difficult avenue to break the chains of these heroes,” he said.

Read Full Article Here

 

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Articles of Interest

Senators terrified with abuse of Patriot Act’s secret laws

U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden (AFP Photo / Chip Somodevilla)

U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden (AFP Photo / Chip Somodevilla)

Horrified with the way the US government uses the Patriot Act against its own people, two senators have been trying to make these practices public for years. Tired of being ignored, they’re now taking their fight against secret programs to public.

Two US senators wrote the attorney general of the United States this week, urging the federal government to give the American public evidence explaining how the Patriot Act has been interpreted since signed into law in 2001.

In a joint letter to Attorney General Eric Holder sent Thursday, Senators Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) and Mark Udall (D-Colorado) plead with the government to provide the American people with the facts behind what the Patriot Act can let America’s top investigators do. The lawmakers, who have rallied for disclosure of these details for more than two years, say citizens would be “stunned” to learn what the government believes it can get away with under the law.

The controversial USA Patriot Act was hastily signed into legislation after the September 11 al-Qaeda attacks under the guise of a being a necessity for preventing future terrorist efforts, but for over a decade since the law has become notorious for its ability to stick federal eyes into seemingly every aspect of the American public in the name of counterterrorism. Although the government has gone on the record to downplay the constitutionally-damning powers they are granted under the law, Senators Wyden and Udall say it is time that the feds fulfill the demands of millions of concerned Americans and discuss in detail what they can do under the act — and what they’ve already done.

Wydell and Udall are specifically calling on Holder to provide information about how the government has interpreted Section 215 of the Patriot Act, which grants government officials with certain clearance to obtain “tangible things” deemed “relevant” to issues of terrorism. While that much is clear, write the senators, how the government goes about abiding by it “has been the subject of secret legal interpretations,” which they add “are contained in classified opinions” that are not made available to much of Congress, let alone members of the general public.

“We believe most Americans would be stunned to learn the details of how these secret court opinions have interpreted Section 215,” add the senators. “As we see it, there is now a significant gap between what most Americans think the law allows and what the government secretly claims the law allows. This is a problem, because it is impossible to have an informed public debate about what the law should say when they public doesn’t know what its government thinks the law says.”

The Justice Department has in their own defense said that disclosing details on certain interpretations could be detrimental to national security, an issue to which the senators acknowledge. “We believe that is entirely legitimate for government agencies to keep certain information secret,” write the lawmakers.The argument being made by Wyden and Udall, however, is that the government is letting itself perceive the law in a way which not only are Americans completely oblivious to, but Americans are also under the false impression that matters are marvelously different.

“In a democratic society — in which the government derives its powers from the consent of the people — citizens rightly expect that their government will not arbitrarily keep information from them,” reads the letter to Holder. “Americans expect their government to operate within the boundaries of publically-understood law, and as voters they have a need and a right to know how the law is being interpreted, so that they can ratify or reject decisions made on their behalf.”

Read Full Article Here

Assange Episode 3: Torture & double standards of the West

Published: 30 April, 2012, 20:03

The world’s most famous secret-spiller Julian Assange is on RT again, speaking with Tunisia’s first post-revolution leader about the West’s double standards in protecting human rights.

­Tunisia was the cradle of the Arab Spring and was the impetus for people in other countries in the region to struggle for freedom, democracy, and their rights. Some say, the final straw that triggered the revolution was WikiLeaks’ release of diplomatic cables describing the President and his family as a mafia turning the country into a police state.

The current Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki is a former human rights activist. During the reign of the previous President he was imprisoned and kept in solitary confinement, which he considers to be torture.

Read Full Article Here

 

 

British food retailer boycotts products from Israel’s ‘illegal’ settlements

The Co-operative Group, UK’s fifth largest food retailer, said its boycott to produce coming from settlements in the West Bank “is not an Israeli boycott and that its contracts will go to other companies inside Israel.” (File Photo)

The Co-operative Group, UK’s fifth largest food retailer, said its boycott to produce coming from settlements in the West Bank “is not an Israeli boycott and that its contracts will go to other companies inside Israel.” (File Photo)

By Al Arabiya

UK’s fifth largest food retailer has become the first major European supermarket to halt trade with companies that export crops from illegal Israeli settlements, a newspaper reported on Sunday.

The Co-operative Group is “no longer engaging with any supplier of produce known to be sourcing from the Israeli settlements,” reported the Guardian.

The retail group’s measure is an extension of its existing policy which said it would not source produce from illegal settlements seized from the Palestinian territories in the West Bank.

The boycott will hit four companies the group has been dealing with and $569,363 worth of contracts. The four produce suppliers are Agrexco, Arava Export Growers, Adafresh and Mehadrin, Israel’s largest agricultural export company.

A campaigner group, Boycott Israel Network (BIN), who hailed the group’s boycott, said on their website that Mehadrin is also complicit with Israel’s discriminatory water policies as it provides water to settlement farms and is associated with Israel’s state water company, Mekorot.

 

Read Full Article Here
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[In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit, for research and/or educational purposes. This constitutes ‘FAIR USE’ of any such copyrighted material.]

Politics and  Legislation

Mosaic News – 03/05/12: Palestinian Woman Hana Shalabi Continues Administrative Detention Protest

Obama Runs From Occupy Protesters! Moving G8 Summit From Chicago To Camp David

Chris Hedges, Truthdig Op-Ed: “We are, and have long been, the primary engine for radicalism in the Middle East. The greatest favor we can do for democracy activists in Iran, as well as in Iraq, Afghanistan, the Gulf and the states that dot North Africa, is to withdraw our troops from the region and begin to speak to Iranians and the rest of the Muslim world in the civilized language of diplomacy, respect and mutual interests.”
Nomi Prins, Op-Ed: “All these dots and lines project a gamed world, where it is not sweat or merit that propels people forward, but connections and power and pedigree. That’s why there’s an Occupy Movement. As I wrote on behalf of the compelling book, ‘The economic elite vs. the People,’ ‘Occupy Wall Street has coalesced across towns, cities, and countries.”

Justifying ‘justice’: When it’s OK for US to kill own citizens

Henry A. Giroux | The Scorched-Earth Politics of America’s Four Fundamentalisms
Henry A. Giroux, Truthout: “Americans seem confident in the mythical notion that the United States is a free nation dedicated to reproducing the principles of equality, justice and democracy. What has been ignored in this delusional view is the growing rise of an expanded national security state since 2001 and an attack on individual rights that suggests that the United States has more in common with authoritarian regimes like China and Cuba ‘than anyone may like to admit.'”

Obama blasts GOP candidates for ‘beating the drums of war’ on Iran

By Jonathan Easley – 03/06/12 01:52 PM ET

President Obama shot back at his Republican critics over accusations he has shown a lack of resolve in protecting Israel from a potentially nuclear-armed Iran, condemning their “bluster” in “beating the drums of war.”

“Those folks don’t have a lot of responsibilities,” Obama said at his first press conference since October 2011. “They’re not commander-in-chief. When I see the casualness with which some of these candidates talk about war, I’m reminded of the decisions I have to make in sending these men and women into war.”

http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/214439-obama-rips-gop-field-for-beating-the-drums-of-war-over-iran

The Hill: Holder: Clear authority to kill US citizens

By Jordy Yager
Attorney General Eric Holder on Monday said the Obama administration has the “clear authority” to kill U.S. citizens overseas who are believed to be a terrorist threat.

http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/214295-holder-clear-authority-to-kill-citizens

The Hill: Export-Import Bank splits Republicans

by Erik Wasson
A battle over reauthorizing the U.S. Export-Import Bank (Ex-Im) is pitting conservative groups against big business and could lead to an insurrection against GOP leaders in the House this month.

http://thehill.com/blogs/on-the-money/banking-financial-institutions/214289-export-import-bank-splits-conservatives-big-business

The Wall Street Journal: Wisconsin recall realigns campaign spending

By Alicia Mundy
Unions and conservative groups have turned the state’s battle over labor rights into a national, multimillion-dollar war that will reverberate through the presidential and congressional races this fall.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204571404577255743288370690.html?mod=ITP_pageone_2

Economy

The Best Reason for the Very Rich to be Paying A Lot More in Taxes

Paul Buchheit , Op-Ed: “The super-rich like to believe their own initiative and creativity have been the primary drivers of growth in technology and science and business and medicine. Some innovative business leaders deserve credit for putting the pieces together on specific initiatives. But the pieces themselves were put together over many years by thousands of less conspicuous people.”

http://www.nationofchange.org/best-reason-very-rich-be-paying-lot-more-taxes-1331052108

American Airlines Union President Sees Future Without Pensions

Josh Eidelson, In These Times: “Weeks after American Airlines’ parent company AMR submitted a bankruptcy proposal to its three unions, labor and management say time is running out to reach negotiated settlements. Any unions that don’t reach deals with AMR may have their new contract terms, and the number of layoffs, set directly by a bankruptcy judge.”

http://www.truth-out.org/american-airlines-union-president-sees-future-without-pensions/1331043965

Stocks Log Biggest Drop in 2012 on Greek Woes

Stocks closed sharply lower Tuesday, with the Dow posting its first triple-digit decline in 2012, fueled by fears over a Greek default and amid economic growth concerns.

http://www.cnbc.com/id/46639583

Failure of Greek debt deal could cost $1.3 trillion

http://www.latimes.com/business/money/la-fi-mo-greek-deal-20120306,0,5073903.story

Wars  and  Rumors  of War

Three Blind Mice?

Uploaded by on Mar 6, 2012

Senators John McCain, Joseph Lieberman and Lindsey Graham are just about as close as anyone in the U.S. Senate. They travel together, make joint media appearances and seem to sing the same song in their appeals to the American people. That song often revolves around the need for more war.

US Mercenaries admit they are Mercenaries in Syria 06-03-12

Huge death toll doubles in Yemen ‘slaughter’

http://www.cnn.com/2012/03/06/world/meast/yemen-violence/index.html

Fresh Iran nuclear talks agreed with world powers – EU

Six major world powers and Iran are to hold fresh talks on Tehran’s nuclear program, the EU has said.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-17274364

Obama Says Military Force is Option to Keep Iran From Getting Nuclear Weapons

Lesley Clark, News Report: “Israel is afraid that Iran — which says its nuclear program is for domestic reasons — could reach what the Israeli Defense Minister calls a ‘zone of immunity’ where Israel would be unable to take out Iran’s nuclear program. Obama argued there is time for diplomacy, ‘backed by pressure,’ to work — a call that met with little applause.”

http://www.nationofchange.org/obama-says-military-force-option-keep-iran-getting-nuclear-weapons-1331052228

John McCain Calls for US-led Strike Against Syria

Michael A. Memoli, News Report: “Republican Sen. John McCain said the United States should lead a military air assault on government forces in Syria, arguing the Obama administration’s continued efforts at diplomacy and sanctions against the Assad regime is “starting to look more like a hope than strategy.”

http://www.nationofchange.org/john-mccain-calls-us-led-strike-against-syria-1331053300

Netanyahu Tells Obama Israel May Attack Iran Alone if Necessary

Lesley Clark and Jonathan S. Landay, McClatchy Newspapers: “Highlighting their different views of the threat posed by Iran’s nuclear program, President Barack Obama insisted Monday that diplomacy still has time to halt the effort, while Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reasserted Israel’s right to take unilateral military action, saying the Jewish state must remain ‘the master of its fate.'”

http://www.truth-out.org/netanyahu-tells-obama-israel-may-attack-iran-alone-if-necessary/1331048376

Monsanto

Monsanto’s Roundup Shown to be Ravaging Butterfly Population

Mike Barrett, News Report: A 2011 study published in the journal Insect Conservation and Diversity found that increasing acreage of genetically modified Roundup Ready corn and soybeans is heavily contributing to the decline in monarch butterfly populations within North America. Milkweed, a plant butterflies rely on for habitat and food, is being destroyed by the heavy use of glyphosate-based pesticides and Roundup Ready crops. Over the past 17 years, the monarch butterfly population in central Mexico has declined, reaching an all-time low in 2009-2010.

http://www.nationofchange.org/monsanto-s-roundup-shown-be-ravaging-butterfly-population-1331055035

Environmental

The True Cost of Tar Sands

Joe Romm, Video Report: “What does environmental devastation actually look like? At TEDxVictoria, photographer Garth Lenz shares shocking photos of the Alberta Tar Sands mining project — and the beautiful (and vital) ecosystems under threat. This powerful talk is for anyone who thinks the tar sands are just another source of oil — and that the only source of greenhouse gases from the tar sands come from burning gas and oil.”

http://www.nationofchange.org/must-see-video-true-cost-tar-sands-1331054083

Way Beyond Greenwashing: Have Corporations Captured “Big Conservation”?

Tuesday 6 March 2012
by: Jonathan Latham , Dollars and Sense | Report
“Imagine an international mega-deal. The global organic food industry agrees to support international agribusiness in clearing as much tropical rainforest as they want for farming. In return, agribusiness agrees to farm the now-deforested land using organic methods, and the organic industry encourages its supporters to buy the resulting timber and food under the newly devised ‘Rainforest Plus’ label. There would surely be an international outcry.”

Japan’s Illegal Environmental Impact Assessment of the Henoko Base

Sakurai Kunitoshi, The Asia-Pacific Journal – Japan Focus: “Before dawn on December 28, 2011, with the end of the year looming, the Okinawa Defense Bureau (ODB) delivered a load of cardboard boxes to the office of the Okinawa Prefectural Government. The boxes contained copies of the environmental impact statement (EIS) for a base in the Henoko district of Nago that is planned as the replacement for the US Marines Corps Air Station Futenma.”

Imperial Valley Residents Must Fight for Right to Breathe Clean Air

David Bacon, New America Media: “Today, the land surrounding the two towns is farmed in huge tracts of hundreds of acres. To make the desert productive, ranchers not only built the world’s largest irrigation canal, but also developed farming methods dependent on chemical fertilizers and strong pesticides. Even with the recent advance of some large-scale organic operations, it’s still common to drive a local highway and see a small airplane called a cropduster make circular swoops and passes over the green crops.”

One Year After Fukushima – Defining and Classifying a Disaster

One Year After Fukushima – Defining and Classifying a Disaster
This is the first in a series of articles dedicated to preserve the facts revealed about the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster. This coming week will mark the first anniversary of Fukushima’s multiple meltdown nuclear disaster. There is little data on how badly contaminated the now-abandoned area of forced evacuation is in the 20-kilometer (12-mile) zone around the Fukushima plant.http://theintelhub.com/2012/03/05/one-year-after-fukushima-defining-and-classifying-a-disaster/

Misc

Alleged LulzSec hackers held in international swoop

Published on Mar 6, 2012 by

http://www.euronews.com/ Leading members of the computer hacking group LulzSec have reportedly been arrested in the US.

Irish police say they are also holding a man in connection with the investigation.

Court documents in New York hacktivist are said to show that the group’s suspected leader, Hector Xavier Monsegur who is nicknamed Sabu, was charged last year with conspiracy in computer hacking and had pleaded guilty.

There are reports that he had been cooperating with police for a while.

He is said to have been an influential member of three hacking organizations, involved in high profile attacks on major firms including online payment companies.

Court papers say Sabu formed LulzSec last May, and operated by identifying weaknesses in potential victims’ computer systems.

LulzSec is a spin-off of the loosely organised activist group Anonymous.

Some alleged associates of the collective are already facing charges in other countries such as Britain.

Bust Reveals Government Runs Hacking Groups

Bust Reveals Government Runs Hacking GroupsCURATOR: BARRACUDA. The establishment media has characterized the leader of LulzSec ratting out his hacktivist comrades as betrayal, but the incident reveals something far more sinister – government is responsible for creating and…

http://beforeitsnews.com/story/1857/374/NL/Bust_Reveals_Government_Runs_Hacking_Groups.html

Govt. agencies, colleges demand applicants’ Facebook passwords

By Bob Sullivan

If you think privacy settings on your Facebook and Twitter accounts guarantee future employers or schools can’t see your private posts, guess again.

http://redtape.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/03/06/10585353-govt-agencies-colleges-demand-applicants-facebook-passwords

Troops Used For Crowd Control At Texas Kite Festival

Uniformed troops from the Texas State Guard were used for the purposes of crowd control during the Zilker Kite Festival in Austin this past weekend, with video showing the troops ordering parents and children to board school buses at the end of the event.

Disturbing footage of the troops controlling the movement of attendees was filmed by Infowars reporters, in addition to a police helicopter circling above. However, the website of the Zilker Kite Festival attempted to downplay the Guard’s involvement as if it was completely normal.

http://theintelhub.com/2012/03/06/troops-used-for-crowd-control-at-texas-kite-festival/

Rpt-Iran to accept payment in gold from trading partners

http://en-maktoob.news.yahoo.com/iran-accept-payment-gold-trading-partners-174629165.html

TEHRAN, Feb 28 (Reuters) – Iran will take payment from

its trading partners in gold instead of dollars, the Iranian

state news agency IRNA quoted the central bank governor as

saying on Tuesday.

Iranian financial institutions have been hit by sanctions

imposed by the United States and the European Union in an effort

to force Tehran to halt its nuclear program.

Significant difficulties in making dollar payments to

Iranian banks have forced Iran’s trading partners to look for

alternative ways to settle transactions, including direct barter

deals.

“In its trade transactions with other countries, Iran does

not limit itself to the U.S. dollar, and the country can pay

using its own currency,” central bank governor Mahmoud Bahmani

was quoted as saying. “If a country should so choose, it can pay

in gold and we would accept that without any reservation.”

The sanctions include a phased ban on importing oil from

Iran, which EU member states are to implement by July.

China and India, two of the largest consumers of Iranian

oil, have said they will continue imports, but Japan and Korea

have announced cuts to quotas following pressure from the United

States. As a result the value of Iran’s rial has plummeted,

pushing the price of goods sharply higher across the country.

Western countries believe Tehran is trying to establish a

nuclear weapons capability, and the United States and Israel

have not ruled out military action against it. The Islamic

Republic says its nuclear ambitions are peaceful and that it

will hit back if targeted.

(Reporting by Hashem Kalantari; Writing by Marcus George;

Editing by Tim Pearce)

Emerging economies to challenge US hold on World Bank

http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/international-business/emerging-economies-to-challenge-us-hold-on-world-bank/articleshow/12061556.cms

Berkshire Hathaway selects Warren Buffett successor

http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/international-business/berkshire-hathaway-selects-warren-buffett-successor/articleshow/12050303.cms

Wall Street closes at highest since mid-2008

http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/markets/global-markets/wall-street-closes-at-highest-since-mid-2008/articleshow/12063267.cms

Oil price rise raises spectre of global recession

http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/international-business/oil-price-rise-raises-spectre-of-global-recession/articleshow/12058490.cms

Bill Clinton, Helmut Kohl, EU among 231 candidates for Nobel Peace Prize

http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/news-by-industry/et-cetera/Bill-Clinton-Helmut-Kohl-EU-among-231-candidates-for-Nobel-Peace-Prize/articleshow/12062398.cms

Risk On: Was 2008 Just a Bad Dream?

With volatility back to low, pre-crisis levels, safety is being shunned for excitement

http://www.businessweek.com/finance/risk-on-was-2008-just-a-bad-dream-02262012.html

FHA to Increase Cost of Up-Front Mortgage Insurance Premiums

http://www.businessweek.com/news/2012-02-27/fha-to-increase-cost-of-up-front-mortgage-insurance-premiums.html

State Street Investigated by New York, U.S. on Foreign Exchange

http://www.businessweek.com/news/2012-02-27/state-street-investigated-by-new-york-u-s-on-foreign-exchange.html

Buffett Says Banks Victimized by Excesses of Evicted Homeowners

http://www.businessweek.com/news/2012-02-27/buffett-says-banks-victimized-by-excesses-of-evicted-homeowners.html

A Ponzi Scheme That Never Gets Dull

Scott Rothstein relied on bribes and a “rock star” lifestyle to keep his $1.2 billion scam rolling along

http://www.businessweek.com/finance/a-ponzi-scheme-that-never-gets-dull-02272012.html

Why investors should be prepared for violent market swings

http://www.firstpost.com/investing/why-investors-should-be-prepared-for-violent-market-swings-224875.html

Silver faces last hurdle before blast off, but there’s a caveat

http://www.firstpost.com/investing/silver-faces-last-hurdle-before-blast-off-but-theres-a-caveat-224862.html

Occupy London protest camp eviction under way

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-17187180

U.S. intelligence agencies agree: no evidence of Iranian nuclear weapons program

http://www.activistpost.com/2012/02/us-intelligence-agencies-agree-no.html

MSM says just a small amount of children killed by Drone attacks… So its OK?

http://deadlinelive.info/2012/02/26/msm-says-just-a-small-amount-of-children-killed-by-drone-attacks-so-its-ok/

Wikileaks Reveals Possible Israeli Covert

Action Campaign Against Iran

http://www.worldjewishdaily.com/wikileaks-iran.php

Hillary Clinton Urges Muslims To ‘Not Pay Attention’ To Republicans

Hauling hedge funds into the 21st century

By Jay Eisenhofer, Grant & Eisenhofer P.A.

http://thehill.com/blogs/congress-blog/economy-a-budget/212827-jay-eisenhofer-grant-a-eisenhofer-pa

Comprehensive approach is the only way to control gas prices

By Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D-Hawaii)

http://thehill.com/blogs/congress-blog/energy-a-environment/212773-rep-colleen-hanabusa-d-hawaii

H.R. 7 – more than just roads and bridges

By Rep. Randy Hultgren (R-Ill.)

http://thehill.com/blogs/congress-blog/economy-a-budget/212751-rep-randy-hultgren-r-ill

Protecting the Homeland, Safeguarding Privacy

By Rep. Patrick Meehan (R-Pa.)

http://thehill.com/blogs/congress-blog/homeland-security/212531-rep-patrick-meehan-r-pa

Fiddlers, foreign oil and failed policy

By Lt. Col. Steve Russell, US Army (Ret.)

http://thehill.com/blogs/congress-blog/energy-a-environment/212487–lt-col-steve-russell-us-army-ret

Anonymous targets lawmakers for defeat

By Brendan Sasso

http://thehill.com/blogs/hillicon-valley/technology/212793-anonymous-targets-lawmakers-for-defeat

News bites: WikiLeaks publishes intelligence firm’s emails By Brendan Sasso

http://thehill.com/blogs/hillicon-valley/technology/212685-news-bites-wikileaks-publishes-intelligence-firms-emails

FTC chief: Google forcing consumers to make ‘brutal choice’ with privacy changes

By Brendan Sasso

http://thehill.com/blogs/hillicon-valley/technology/212741-ftc-chief-google-forcing-consumers-to-make-brutal-choice-with-privacy-changes

George Osborne: UK has run out of money

The Government ‘has run out of money’ and cannot afford debt-fuelled tax cuts or extra spending, George Osborne has admitted.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/9107485/George-Osborne-UK-has-run-out-of-money.html

WikiLeaks begins publishing 5 million emails from STRATFOR 26 Feb 2012 Today (27 Feb) WikiLeaks began publishing The Global Intelligence Files – more than five million emails from the Texas-headquartered “global intelligence” company Stratfor. The emails date from between July 2004 and late December 2011. They reveal the inner workings of a company that fronts as an intelligence publisher, but provides confidential intelligence services to large corporations, such as Bhopal’s Dow Chemical Co., Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon and government agencies, including the US Department of Homeland Security, the US Marines and the US Defense Intelligence Agency. Stratfor… emails reveal private intelligence staff who align themselves closely with US government policies and channel tips to the Mossad – including through an information mule in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, Yossi Melman, who conspired with Guardian journalist David Leigh to secretly, and in violation of WikiLeaks’ contract with the Guardian, move WikiLeaks US diplomatic cables to Israel.

‘US to announce aerial blockade on Syria’ 25 Feb 2012 The Pentagon is readying for the possibility of intervention in Syria, the newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat reported Saturday, citing a US military official. According to the official, the intervention scenario calls for the establishment of a buffer zone on the Turkish border, in order to receive Syrian refugees. The measure would pave the way for the US to declare an aerial blockade on Syria. The next step in the reported US Department of Defense plan would be to appoint a team of UN observers to monitor the ‘humanitarian’ military aid, and enter Syria. They would need aerial protection, which would eventually lead to an aerial blockade.

UK prepares for military strike against Iran: The Sun 26 Feb 2012 The United Kingdom has reportedly drawn up plans to send hundreds of troops and an extra nuclear submarine to the Persian Gulf amid escalating war threats against the Islamic Republic. “MoD planners went into overdrive at the start of the year. Conflict is seen as inevitable as long as the regime (Iran) pursue their nuclear ambitions,” The Sun quoted a senior Whitehall official as saying on Sunday. “Britain would be sucked in whether we like it or not,” the official added. The report said a military attack against Iran is “a matter of when not if… with 18 to 24 months the likely timescale.”

Two U.S. army officers killed as violence escalates for 5th day in Afghanistan

http://theextinctionprotocol.wordpress.com/2012/02/25/two-u-s-army-officers-killed-as-violence-escalates-for-5th-day-in-afghanistan/

Iran warns of the collapse of the Jewish state if it mounts an attack

The WMD wars are upon us: U.S. trying to contain Syria’s stockpile

Wyoming state legislators prepare for what amounts to ‘doomsday’

“Gasland” Director Josh Fox Arrested at Congressional Hearing on Natural Gas Fracking

BP faces billions in fines as spill trial nears

http://news.yahoo.com/bp-faces-billions-fines-spill-trial-nears-141432086.html;_ylt=AvPDT_hoiT5FejC4UzErOYqs0NUE;_ylu=X3oDMTNsMGZhczJuBG1pdANUb3BTdG9yeSBGUARwa2cDYTJmY2ZiODMtZWMzMy0zZTMxLTg1YTMtYWEyOGNlNzNkMzNiBHBvcwMzBHNlYwN0b3Bfc3RvcnkEdmVyA2NlNmY4MTU0LTVmYmMtMTFlMS05ZWZlLTEzNGE1ZTk5MzEwMw–;_ylg=X3oDMTFvdnRqYzJoBGludGwDdXMEbGFuZwNlbi11cwRwc3RhaWQDBHBzdGNhdANob21lBHB0A3NlY3Rpb25zBHRlc3QD;_ylv=

Britain draws up battle plan against Iran

http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/international-business/britain-draws-up-battle-plan-against-iran/articleshow/12044550.cms

Obama faces tense meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu on Iran policy

http://thehill.com/blogs/defcon-hill/policy-and-strategy/212577-obama-to-face-tense-meeting-on-iran-with-israeli-leader-netanyahu

AIJ Suspension Undermines Japan Pensions Hedge Fund Appetite

http://www.businessweek.com/news/2012-02-27/aij-suspension-undermines-japan-pensions-hedge-fund-appetite.html

U.S. Fighting On the Same Side as Three Terrorist Groups In Syria

http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2012/02/u-s-fighting-on-the-same-side-as-three-terrorist-groups-in-syria.html