Tag Archive: EU


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EU warns of visas for US citizens if Washington implements visa waiver reforms

© Fred Greaves
The EU says it may retaliate if the US goes ahead with plans to impose visas for some members of the bloc who are currently part of the Visa Waiver Program. Brussels says it will not increase security and that US nationals may require visas to enter the EU.

A letter signed by 28 European member state ambassadors to the US was published in The Hill after Europe reacted furiously and with disbelief to plans by Washington to tighten-up the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), which currently lets millions of citizens from the bloc travel to the US each year without a visa.

 

OP-ED: EU warns of visas for US citizens if Washington implements visa waiver reforms

 

Last week, the US House of Representatives adopted a bill to reform the visa program that would ban certain EU nationals from entering the US without a visa if they had visited Iran, Iraq, Syria or Sudan after March 2011. Some US politicians want the legislation introduced to tighten security following the November 13 Paris terror attacks.

“A blanket restriction on those who have visited Syria or Iraq, for example, would most likely only affect legitimate travel by businesspeople, journalists, humanitarian or medical workers while doing little to detect those who travel by more clandestine means overland,” the letter signed by the 28 ambassadors stated.

At present, 23 of the EU’s 28 member states enjoy visa-free travel to the US, with the remaining five nations keen to join the VWP. The bloc says it is imperative to keep the visa waiver program intact for business and tourism purposes, while the current system does not mean that it is “a license to enter the US with nothing more than the wave of a passport of an allied country.”

 

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Sanctions expand: Obama goes after more wealthy Russians and a ‘crony bank,’ freezes assets and denies US access in response to Ukraine crisis

  • President signed new executive order authorizing the U.S. to sanction ‘a whole slew’ of wealthy Russians and a bank that holds their assets
  • New move freezes assets of new targets and prohibits them from doing business in the United States
  • The bank will be denied access to U.S. dollars
  • Additional sanctions would also go into place if Vladimir Putin invades more of Ukraine or other nations
  • White House aims to cripple Russian economy including financial services, energy, metals and mining, defense and related material, and engineering

By David Martosko, U.s. Political Editor

President Barack Obama has signed a new executive order that authorizes his administration ‘to impose sanctions not just on individuals but on key sectors of the Russian economy,’ he said Thursday morning.

Speaking on the South Lawn of the White House before boarding Marine One en route to Florida, he also announced a new raft of anti-Moscow choke-holds that the White House is attempting immediately to ‘impose additional costs on Russia.’

‘We’re imposing sanctions on more senior officials of the Russian government … [and] other individuals who provide material support’ to them, Obama said in a brief statement.

He also announced new sanctions on Bank Rossiya, which he said ‘provides material support to these individuals.’

 

President Barack Obama addresses the Ukraine crisis at the White House Thursday, announcing new sanctions against Russian officials and a bank that holds their assets, and an executive order authorizing the government to make more moves

President Barack Obama addresses the Ukraine crisis at the White House Thursday, announcing new sanctions against Russian officials and a bank that holds their assets, and an executive order authorizing the government to make more moves

Showman: Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) spoke Tuesday at a rally celebrating his annexation of Crimea and Sevastopol after what the U.S> and other governments called an 'illegal referendum'

Showman: Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) spoke Tuesday at a rally celebrating his annexation of Crimea and Sevastopol after what the U.S> and other governments called an ‘illegal referendum’

Obama spoke for just a few minutes before boarding Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House, en route to Florida for an economic speech and a Democratic Party fundraiser

The Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control listed the new targets on its website as Obama spoke.

‘We’ve continued to be deeply concerned’ about Russian President Vladimir Putin’s actions, he said.

‘We’ve seen an illegal referendum in Crimea [and] an illegitimate move by the Russians to annex Crimea.’

Putin’s moves, he said, ‘have been rejected by the international community and by the government of Ukraine.’

 

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US sanctions list against Russian officials is unacceptable – Kremlin

Published time: March 20, 2014 19:47
President Vladimir Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov (RIA Novosti/Aleksey Nikolskyi)

President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov (RIA Novosti/Aleksey Nikolskyi)

Washington’s sanctions list against Russia is unacceptable, the Kremlin stated on Thursday. It comes after US President Barack Obama announced a new executive order slamming sanctions on top Russian officials in response to Crimea joining Russia.

“Finding some of the names on this list causes nothing but an extreme embarrassment, but no matter what the names are, finding any lists is unacceptable for us,” President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said on Thursday.

He added that Russia’s retaliation to the new sanctions will not take long.

“In any case, Russia’s reaction to these lists will be based on a reciprocity principle and will not be long in coming.”

The second round of sanctions imposed on Thursday singles out 20 top Russian political figures and businessman, among whom is Sergey Ivanov, head of the Kremlin administration.

Ivanov reacted to the news with humor, Peskov said, adding that this is not the first time that a Western country has barred him from entering.

“While I cannot say anything about the reaction of others, but as far as Sergey Ivanov, he reacted with humor. In his earlier professional life, during more than 20 years of service in the first headquarters of the KGB, and then Russian Foreign Intelligence Service, as a result of operational activity he has already been denied entry to most Western countries, so he is no stranger to this,” said Peskov.

 

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The G8 is dead declares Merkel as Europe prepares to ramp up EU sanctions against Russia

  • EU leaders are set to meet in Brussels to discuss developments in Ukraine
  • German Chancellor Angela Merkel says EU will impose more sanctions on Russia after its troops seized majority control of Crimea
  • She also told the German parliament the G8 forum is suspended indefinitely

By Suzannah Hills

The European Union is set to impose further sanctions on Russia following its decision to annex Crimea as German Chancellor Angela Merkel today declared the G8 ‘is dead’.

EU leaders are set to meet in Brussels today to discuss how to deal with the developments in Crimea after Russian troops seized majority control of the peninsula.

In an address to the German Parliament in Berlin this morning, Merkel said the EU was readying further sanctions and that the G8 forum of leading economies has been suspended indefinitely.

Russia holds the presidency of the G8 and President Vladimir Putin was due to host his counterparts, including President Barack Obama, at a summit in Sochi in June.

But Merkel today declared the G8 will not meet again until the situation in Ukraine has been resolved.

 

Response: German Chancellor Angela Merkel has announced the EU will impose further sanctions on Russia

Response: German Chancellor Angela Merkel has announced the EU will impose further sanctions on Russia

The G8 is dead': German Chancellor Angela Merkel tells the lower house of parliament in Berlin the G8 forum has been suspended indefinitely

The G8 is dead’: German Chancellor Angela Merkel tells the lower house of parliament in Berlin the G8 forum has been suspended indefinitely

German Chancellor Angela Merkel addresses lawmakers at the lower house of parliament in Bundestag, Berlin, on Thursday ahead of a meeting of EU leaders in Brussels

German Chancellor Angela Merkel addresses lawmakers at the lower house of parliament in Bundestag, Berlin, on Thursday ahead of a meeting of EU leaders in Brussels

Merkel: G8 does not exist at present

‘So long as there aren’t the political circumstances, like now, for an important format like the G8, then there is no G8,’ Merkel said. ‘Neither the summit, nor the format.’

Earlier this week, the EU and the United States slapped sanctions on certain individuals that were involved in what they say was the unlawful referendum in Crimea over joining Russia.

Cancelled: Russian President Vladimir Putin was due to host the G8 summit in Sochi in June

Cancelled: Russian President Vladimir Putin was due to host the G8 summit in Sochi in June

 

 Moscow formally annexed Crimea earlier this week in the wake of the poll. The Black Sea peninsula had been part of Russia for centuries until 1954 when Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev transferred it to Ukraine.

Russian forces effectively took control of Crimea some two weeks ago in the wake of the ouster of Ukraine’s pro-Russia president, Viktor Yanukovych, after months of protests and sporadic violence.

The crisis erupted late last year after Yanukovych backed out of an association deal with the EU in favor of a promised $15 billion bailout from Russia. That angered Ukrainians from pro-European central and western regions.

 

Read More here

 

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Sanctions tit-for-tat: Moscow strikes back against US officials

Published time: March 20, 2014 15:37
Edited time: March 20, 2014 17:40

RIA Novosti / Alexander Vilf

RIA Novosti / Alexander Vilf

Russia’s Foreign Ministry has published a reciprocal sanctions list of US citizens, consisting of 10 names, including: House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner, Senator J. McCain; and advisers to President Obama D. Pfeiffer and C. Atkinson.

THE LIST OF OFFICIALS AND LAWMAKERS

These officials, along with another five named by the Foreign Ministry, are banned from entering the country.

The move comes in response to US sanctions imposed against Russian officials after the March-16 referendum in Crimea, which Washington considered “illegitimate.”

“In response to sanctions imposed by the US Administration on 17 March against a number of Russian officials and deputies of the Federal Assembly as a “punishment” for support of the referendum in Crimea, the Russian foreign Ministry announces the introduction of reciprocal sanctions against a similar number of US officials and lawmakers,” reads the statement published on the Foreign Ministry’s website.

The Ministry reiterates that Russia has “repeatedly” stressed using sanctions is a “double-edged thing” and it will have a “boomerang” effect against the US itself.

“Treating our country in such way, as Washington could have already ascertained, is inappropriate and counterproductive,” the statement said.

The statement continued: “Nevertheless, it looks like the American side continues to blindly believe in the effectiveness of such methods, taken from the arsenal of the past, and does not want to face the obvious: the people of Crimea, in a democratic way in full accordance with international law and UN regulations, voted to join Russia, which respects and accepts this choice. You may like this decision or not, but we are talking about a reality, which needs to be taken into consideration.”

 

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Food Safety

Mystery E. coli O145 Outbreak Ends, No Source Found

EcoliPetriBrownMain.jpgBefore closing their investigation into a multistate outbreak of E. coli O145, health officials identified 3 more victims – bringing the case count up from 15 to 18 – but were unable to find the source of the bacteria.

The outbreak, largely concentrated in the southeastern United States, started in mid-April. The last reported illness began June 12. Out of the 18 victims in 9 states, 4 were hospitalized. A 21-month-old girl from Louisiana died from her infection.
Victims ranged in age from 1 to 79, with a median age of 33. Infections predominantly affected women, who constituted 73 percent of the victims, according to the final outbreak report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, published Friday.

Read Full Article Here

FDA Warns Consumers Against Eating Shellfish from Oyster Bay Harbor

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is warning consumers to not eat raw or partially cooked oysters and clams with tags listing Oyster Bay Harbor in Nassau County, New York as the harvest area. Eight people in several states have been sickened with Vibrio parahaemolyticus food poisoning after consuming those foods.

Get Vibrio help here.

The New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) closed Oyster Bay Harbor to shellfish harvesting on July 13, 2012. The FDA told shellfish harvesters, shippers, re-shippers, processors, restaurants, and retail food establishments to dispose of any shellfish that have identity tags showing Oyster Bay Harbor was the harvest area and harvest date on or after June 1, 2012. The map of the emergency shellfish closure is available at the New York web site. The area will remain closed until samples taken by the DEC indicate that shellfish are no longer a threat to consumers.

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Neff’s Lawn Care Ohio Picnic E. coli 0157 Outbreak Update

The Dayton & Montgomery County Health Department has updated their investigation into the Neff’s Lawn Care picnic E. coli 0157:H7 outbreak. As of July 23, 2012, 75 people have been sickened, 14 have been hospitalized, and three people are still hospitalized with hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). Those three with HUS include a 4-year-old girl, a 14-year-old male, and a 73-year-old male

As many as 300 people attended the picnic which was held on July 3, 2012. Because of cross-contamination after the original outbreak, two secondary cases of E. coli 0157:H7 have been reported. Public health officials are stressing the need for good hygiene practices, including washing hands thoroughly after visiting the bathroom, and before preparing food.

In fact, anyone who is ill with a diarrheal illness should not prepare food or serve food to others. Anyone who has been sickened in this outbreak should have a negative test before they cook or handle food.

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Portland Area Boil-Water Advisory Ends

The boil-water advisory has been lifted for people who live and work west of the Willamette River and have Portland city water. On Saturday, July 21, 2012,  Portland’s water bureau issued a ‘Boil Water Notice’  after a second test was positive for bacterial contamination in Reservoir 3 inWashington Park. An investigation into the source of the contamination is ongoing.

In addition to those living west of the Willamette River, customers in the Burlington Water District, Valley View Water District, Palatine Hills Water District, Lake Grove Water District, West Slope Water District and the City of Tigard were also affected. Customers in those areas were under the boil-water advisory for about 24 hours. In 2009, fecal contamination from a bird source caused a similar situation.

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60 Hospitalized in Denver After Eating Charity Dinner

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At least 60 people have been hospitalized after eating at a Denver homeless shelter Sunday night.

Less than an hour after eating a turkey dinner served at the Denver Rescue Mission at 7 p.m., dozens of meal recipients began to vomit and became dehydrated from fluid loss.

Emergency responders were called to both Denver Rescue Mission’s Lawrence Street Shelter – where the meal was served – and to the Samaritan House across the street, where some people who had eaten the meal were staying. A total of 54 people from the Lawrence Street Shelter and 6 from the Samaritan House were taken to the hospital, according to Alexxa Gagner, a representative from Denver Rescue Mission.
No deaths have been associated with the event thus far.

More Victims in Ohio E. coli Outbreak Linked to Picnic

74 ill; 14 hospitalized

PicnicBasketandBreadMain.jpgAn outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 thought to have originated at a picnic in Germantown, Ohio has expanded from 68 victims to 75, according to the local health department. The number of people hospitalized remained steady at 14 since the last report.

Three of those hospitalized, including a 4-year-old girl, a 15-year-old boy and a 73-year-old-man, remain in the hospital with hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a complication of E. coli infection that leads to kidney failure and can be fatal.
“We’re hopeful that all three may still make it,” said Bill Wharton, a spokesperson for Public Health Dayton & Montgomery County, according to Dayton Daily News.
Stool samples from 18 of the victims have confirmed them to be part of the outbreak.
The picnic was a customer appreciation event at Neff’s Lawn Care in Georgetown, and was attended by approximately 300 people. Some food was provided by the company; other dishes were brought by guests.

Cargill Beef Tied to 33 Person, 7 State Salmonella Outbreak

A Salmonella Enteritidis outbreak linked to Cargill ground beef is affecting 33 people in 7 Northeastern states, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Monday, a day after the company recalled nearly 30,000 pounds of product.

According to CDC, 11 of those connected to the outbreak have been hospitalized and no deaths have been reported. An investigation by state, local and federal public health agencies has zeroed in on ground beef processed by Cargill Meat Solutions at a single facility in Pennsylvania as the likely source of the outbreak. Authorities were able to conclusively link illnesses in five case patients to ground beef products produced at the Cargill meat establishment (EST. 9400) after state labs found the outbreak strain in two separate leftover ground beef samples from patient homes.

CDC said that the different agencies would continue coordinating with one another and using PulseNet to identify ill people connected to the outbreak. So far, the illness count for each state is: Maine (1), Massachusetts (3), New Hampshire (2), New York (14), Rhode Island (1), Virginia (2) and Vermont (10). Illness onset dates range from June 6 to June 26 and those sickened range from 12 years to 101 years old. More than half are female.

Though it’s likely most of the recalled meat has been consumed, health officials are urging consumers to check their refrigerators and freezers for any meat that might remain — consumers should return the product for a refund. Since some of the ground beef was repackaged into consumer-sized packages sold at retail, CDC urged consumers to visit the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service website to view the list of stores that carried the beef, which may not bear the EST. 9400 mark.

Cargill Beef’s president John Keating said late Sunday he was “sorry or anyone who became sick from eating ground beef we may have produced.”

“Ensuring our beef products are safe is our highest priority and an investigation is underway to determine the source of Salmonella in the animals we purchased for harvest and any actions necessary to prevent this from recurring,” said Keating.

In a FAQ posted online about the outbreak, Cargill noted that they do not test for Salmonella Enteritidis: “This particular strain of Salmonella Enteritidis in beef has not been linked to a public health problem before, and no validated test for it in fresh beef is commercially available.”

Leading food safety expert David Theno, who helped Jack in the Box reform their practices after the historic 1993 E. coli O157:H7 outbreak, told Food Safety News that a regular Salmonella screen would have detected the strain. (Also, it appears that several companies, including DuPont, Roka Bioscience, Cell Biolabs, and BioControl offer relatively rapid testing technology for Salmonella Enteritidis in beef).

E. coli Infection from Ohio Picnic Kills 73-Year-Old Man

A 73-year-old man has died from complications of an E. coli infection he contracted at the Neff’s Lawn Care customer appreciation picnic. Montgomery County Health Commissioner Jim Gross said, “our hearts go out to his familiy and loved ones. This is a very difficult time for everyone. You may rest assured that Public Health will continue to examine all aspects of this foodborne tragedy.”

At least 75 people have been sickened by the outbreak linked to the picnic. Fourteen people have been hospitalized, and three, including the man who just died, developed hemolytic uremic syndrome. That complication of shiga-toxin producing bacterial infections, such as E. coli 0157:H7, can lead to kidney failure and other serious health issues.

Read Full Article here

CDC Asks States to Regulate Raw Milk

Dr. Robert Tauxe, deputy director of the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) Division of Foodborne, Waterborne, and Environmental Diseases, sent a letter to state public health departments, asking them place more restrictions on the sales of raw milk. The letter also asked those agencies to stress the dangers of consuming raw milk. In fact, public health experts say that pasteurization is one of science’s most effective food safety interventions.

Dr. Tauxe stresses the fact that raw milk and raw cheese caused 82% of all dairy-related outbreaks between the years 1973 and 2009. The CDC investigated 93 outbreaks linked to raw milk and raw milk products between 1998 and 2009. Those outbreaks caused 1,837 illnesses, 195 hospitalizations and 2 deaths. The CDC data shows the rate of raw milk outbreaks is higher in states where the sale of raw milk is legal than in states where the sale of raw milk is illegal.

The letter states, “to protect the health of the public, state regulators should continue to support pasteurization and consider further restricting or prohibiting the sale and distribution of raw milk and other unpasteurized dairy products in their states.” It continues, “adherence to good hygienic practices during milking can reduce, but not eliminate, the risk of milk contamination. pasteurization is the only way to ensure that fluid milk products do not contain harmful bacteria.”

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New Produce Regulations Won’t Be Final Until OMB Says So

PROVIDENCE–With implementing regulations held up at the White House’s Executive Office of Management and Budget (OMB), officials at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are finding themselves able to talk only in generalities about the nation’s new food safety law.
That’s disappointing to some attending the International Association for Food Protection (IAFP) meeting this week at the Rhode Island State Convention Center.

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The new U.S. Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) was passed by bipartisan majorities in Congress and signed by President Obama in January 2011, but implementation details have not been widely shared outside the federal government.
FDA’s James Gorny Tuesday spoke to IAFP on “preventive controls to local produce” under FSMA, but he had to start out by acknowledging that everything remains in a “deliberative phase.”
For the time being, Gorny said, there is “no implementing regulation for produce.”  He said OMB’s job is to coordinate federal regulations across the federal government and he suggested in this case the issue might be lining up FDA’s newly proposed regulations with USDA and the U.S. Trade Representative.
The produce safety rule should have taken effect last January, one year after Obama signed FSMA into law. It’s been in limbo at OMB ever since along with other implementing regulations.
Gorny says the draft is intended to be the “rules of the road” for the produce industry with three overall goals: reducing the public health burden of produce-related foodborne illness, eliminating disruptions for farmers and shippers and increasing consumer confidence.
“We understand that one size is not going to fit all,” Gorny said.
The so-called Tester-Hagen amendment language included in the new food safety law exempts small producers selling directly to the public through farmer’s markets, roadside stands and the like so long as those transactions are in the same state or within a 275 miles radius.
Small is defined as an operation with gross sales under $500,000 a year.
“We have no leeway,” Gorny said of the exemption. “It is what it is and it is nothing other than that.”

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Recalls

Fresh Cheese Recalled for Improper Pasteurization

WhiteCheeseBlockMain.jpgA New York company is voluntarily recalling a Columbian-style cheese product because it was made with milk that was not properly pasteurized.

Glendale, NY-based Productos Tita Corp issued the recall after a milk inspector from the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets visited its cheese plant on June 17 and found that proper pasteurization procedures were not being followed.
Pasteurization is a heating process designed to kill harmful pathogens, such as Salmonella and Listeria, which are shed in animal feces and can contaminate milk during the milking process.

Undeclared Milk Brings Cookie Recall in Canada

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and TWI Foods Inc. are warning people with allergies to milk not to consume the Crispy Just Baked Punjabi Cookies.
The affected product contains milk which is not declared on the label.

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All codes of the Crispy Just Baked Punjabi Cookies, sold in 800 g plastic clamshell packages bearing UPC 6 27265 00152 0, where milk is not declared in the list of ingredients, are affected by this alert.
This product has been distributed throughout Canada.

Wellements LLC Recalls Baby Prune Concentrate for Possible Salmonella

Wellements LLC is recalling Baby Move™ Prune Concentrate liquid dietary supplement, because one of the ingredients used to make the product may be contaminated with Salmonella. The ingredient supplier told the company about the problem.

Wellements Baby Move™ Prune Concentrate, in 4 ounce size, is sold in a glass bottle and packaged in an individual product carton. The UPC number is 729609019878. All product lots up to and including number 12179 are part of the recall. The product was distributed from January 2012 to July 2012 nationwide through retail stores and online retailers.

Read Full Article Here

Cargill Recalls Fresh Beef After 7-State Salmonella Outbreak Sickens 33

Hannaford Stores in Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, New York and Vermont named as one retail outlet – Cargill and Hannaford linked to past Salmonella outbreaks.

Cargill Beef late Sunday recalled almost 30,000 pounds of 85 percent lean, fresh, ground beef, produced by the company at Wyalusing, PA on May 25, 2012.  The meat may be contaminated with Salmonella Enteritidis (SE) associated with an ongoing multiple state outbreak of SE.
USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service said it became aware of the the problem “during the course of an ongoing investigation of a multistate outbreak of Salmonella Enteritidis involving 33 case-patients from 7 states (MA, ME, NH, NY, RI, VA, and VT.)”  Hannaford Stores in those states have been named as a retail outlet for that meat by the FSIS.
The FSIS statement continued:
“Working in conjunction with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Vermont Department of Health, New York State Department of Health, and New York State Department of Agriculture & Markets, FSIS was able to link illnesses in five case-patients to the ground beef products produced at this establishment based on epidemiologic and traceback investigations, as well as in-store reviews.

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“Illness onset dates among these five case-patients ranged from June 6, 2012 to June 13, 2012. Two of the five case-patients were hospitalized. Leftover product with no packaging information collected during the course of this investigation by the Vermont Department of Health tested positive for Salmonella Enteritidis with the outbreak strain. This outbreak strain of Salmonella Enteritidis is drug sensitive, meaning antibiotics can be effective in treating patients who need them. FSIS is continuing to work with CDC and public health partners on the investigation.”

Cass-Clay Creamery Recalls Ice Cream for Undeclared Allergens

Cass-Clay Creamery of North Dakota is recalling some varieties of ice cream because they may contain undeclared Brazil nuts, peanut oil, and soy lecithin. Tree nuts such as Brazil nuts are one of the major food allergens. Peanuts are another allergen, and so is soy.

The flavors recalled for Brazil nuts are Cass-Clay Maple Nut ice Cream in one gallon containers (3.78 liters) with UPC number 70422-03404; Cass-Clay Premium Light Maple Nut Ice cream in one gallon containers with UPC number 70422-23404; and Hornbacher’s Maple Nut Ice Cream in half-gallon containers (1.89 liters) with UPC number 41130-21666. Cass-Clay Premium Light Double Chocolate Fudge Ice cream, in half-gallon containers, UPC number 70422-24061 is being recalled for undeclared peanut oil and soy lecithin

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Articles of Interest

Some Duluth Beaches Still Contaminated with Fecal Bacteria

As we told you on July 3, 2012, some Lake Superior beaches in the Duluth area were closed because of high levels of E. coli bacteria. A few of those beaches are now safe to use, but some remain closed. Flooding in the Duluth area in late June most likely washed bacteria from sewage systems into water around the area.

According to the Lake Superior Beach Monitoring Program, the Minnesota Point 15th Street Harbor Side Beach has high bacteria levels, along with Hearding Island Canal Beach/Park Point 20th Street, and the Park Point Sky Harbor Parking Lot Beach. The 42nd Avenue East Beach, and Brighton Beach in East Duluth now have acceptable water.

Read Full Article Here

Another Salmonella Hatchery Outbreak: 37 Ill in 11 States

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Monday that 37 people in 11 states have reportedly been infected with the same strain of Salmonella Hadar.

chickadies_iphone.jpgThe number of ill persons identified in each state is as follows: Arizona (2), California (1), Colorado (3), Idaho (5), Illinois (2), Oregon (5), Tennessee (2), Texas (1), Utah (5), Washington (9), and Wyoming (2).

Of those known to be sick, eight have been hospitalized and no deaths have been reported. Health authorities said 37 percent of those sickened are children 10 years of age or younger.

“Epidemiologic, laboratory and traceback findings have linked this outbreak of human Salmonella infections to contact with live poultry from Hatchery B in Idaho,” said CDC in a release Monday. “Mail-order hatcheries, agricultural feed stores, and others that sell or display chicks, ducklings, and other live poultry should provide health-related information to owners and potential purchasers of these birds prior to the point of purchase. This should include information about the risk of acquiring a Salmonella infection from contact with live poultry.”

Read Full Article Here

Might Food Become a Vehicle for Tropical Disease?

PROVIDENCE–It’s highly unlikely, but if high in an African mango tree a bat dropped its guano on fruit and it was harvested and went unwashed on a 747 to America, you could end up with a deadly tropical foodborne illness characterized by bleeding through the eye socket.
These are the possibilities that are considered at the International Association for Food Protection, which is meeting this week at the Rhode Island State Convention Center. It’s where food professionals come to learn about the World Health Organization’s (WHO’s) Global Foodborne Infections Network, or PulseNet International, which keeps track of threats most of us don’t even want to think about.

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It’s where you come to learn about “unusual Salmonella serotypes” emerging out of Southeast Asia or new foodborne pathogens like E. coli O104:H4. These are the sessions attended by the people from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta who will show up in bug suits if anything really goes badly in America.
Thankfully, it all ends with Dr. Daniel Bausch, associate professor of tropical medicine at Tulane University, telling us there is not really that much to worry about.   Hopefully. His talk is called  “Foodborne Viruses–What Else is Out There?”
Bausch provided more assurance than alarm regarding the likelihood that any of us will be stuck by an exotic and scary foodborne illness. Yet he also welcomed us to his world.
He’s seen what these diseases can do. Bausch was on the SARS team sent to Vietnam ten years ago. Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) is caused by a virus from small mammals originating in China. The SARS virus can then spread like the common cold. It cases a pneumonia so severe that it can lead to death.
There are a number of exotic pathogens out there that in the right circumstances may be spread by food or water, Bausch said. Among these are Lassa fever, Rotavirus, Ebola, Hepatitis E and Nipah virus.
The following is a brief description of each of them:

EU Might Block Parts of Food Safety Modernization Act

PROVIDENCE– In implementing its new Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), the United States wants to boldly go where no government has gone before in protecting food imports, but the European Union (EU) doesn’t like it.
Carlos Alvarez Antolinez, an EU food safety official stationed in Washington D.C., told the International Association for Food Protection (IAFP) Monday that the 27 member EU countries he represents has some significant issues with FSMA.

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Third party auditing, inspections, and foreign supply verification procedures top the list of the EU’s concerns with the new U.S. law.  With governmental authority for a continent of 500 million people speaking 28 languages, the EU is also in a position to stop what it does not like.
“We have been very grateful to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA),” Antolinez said. He said the EU has remained in constant dialogue with FDA since President Obama signed the new food safety law in January 2011, and seemed to suggest somewhat humorously that the U.S. and the EU might be more at impasse if the American government were further along in implementing the new law.
FDA has drafted the implementing regulations, but the White House’s Executive Office of Management and Budget (OMB) have held those up for months.
The EU is concerned that with the FSMA, the U.S. will be reaching out to individual companies in its member countries rather than maintaining a “government-to-government” approach for ensuring food safety, Antolinez says.
“Our concern is about duplication of controls,” he says.
He suggested that U.S. plans for third party auditing are going to run up against some immediate limitations involving both the physical and institutional environment.  He said the EU’s system is based on national authorities and official controls.
“We honestly feel this is how it should be,” Antolinez added.

NFL Linebacker Joins Antibiotics Briefing on Capitol Hill

Congresswoman Louise Slaughter (D-NY), a constant advocate for reining in the use of antibiotics in agriculture, hosted another congressional briefing on the issue Tuesday — this time featuring an NFL linebacker.

Will Witherspoon, who plays for the Tennessee Titans and owns Shire Gate Farm, joined Frank Reese of Good Shepherd Poultry Ranch cooperative and veterinarian and medical expert Dr. Michael Blackwell on panel to brief staff on raising livestock without using antibiotics.

According to Rep. Slaughter’s office, Witherspoon’s Shire Gate Farm applies high-welfare, sustainable farming techniques that almost entirely rule out the need for antibiotics. “By following these techniques, Witherspoon doesn’t need to rely on routine antibiotic use to keep animals healthy or prevent disease.”

At the briefing, Slaughter emphasized her platform: that the U.S. needs to reduce its antibiotic use in food animals and address the growing public health threat of antibiotic-resistant pathogens.

European E. coli Outbreak Sheds New Light on Treatment Strategies

It is an accepted fact among medical experts that an E. coli infection should not be treated with antibiotics, as these drugs may worsen illness. But a new review of strategies used to treat victims of last year’s European E. coli outbreak shows that a combination of two or more antibiotics may have helped patients recover from hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) – a potentially fatal complication of E. coli infection.

The 2011 outbreak, centered in Northern Germany, was characterized by an unusually high number of HUS cases. Out of more than 4,000 people sickened by the E. coli O104:H4 bacteria, 22 percent developed this life-threatening condition. By contrast, E. coli O157:H7, the most common Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) in the United States progresses into HUS in 5 to 10 percent of patients.
HUS occurs when the Shiga toxins released by E. coli bacteria damage blood vessels, preventing adequate blood flow as red blood cells get clogged in the vessels. Deprived of blood, the kidney cannot perform its function of expelling toxins through urine.
Antibiotics are thought to increase a patient’s chance of developing HUS by increasing bacterial death and triggering the release of more Shiga toxins. But a study published this week in BMJ suggests that some antibiotics may actually help treat the kidney disease.
Scientists reviewed 298 cases of HUS treated at 23 hospitals in Northern Germany during the 2011 outbreak, finding that patients treated with at least two antibiotics were less likely to experience seizures, did not require intestinal surgery and exhibited no signs of toxic shock. The death rate among these individuals was lower than among other patients.
“As antibiotics seem to improve, but definitely do not worsen, the course of the infection we believe that they are beneficial in the later stages of the disease when the prodromal phase with diarrhoea has nearly subsided,” conclude the authors – a team of 62 medical and microbiological experts.
The two antibiotics used most commonly were meropenem and ciprofloxacin. Rifaximin was given to patients in the intensive care unit. All of these drugs were administered at only one hospital included in the study. Other treatment centers did not use antibiotics.
Researchers also found that stool samples from these patients tested negative for the bacteria an average of 8 days before those of other patients.
These findings are similar to those of a previous study which found that the antibiotic azithromycin also shortened the time that individuals shed E. coli O104:H4 after infection.

SyringeinIVMain.jpg

Research on the effect of antibiotics on individuals with E. coli O157:H7 infections, on the other hand, has overwhelmingly suggested that these drugs are harmful, not beneficial, to HUS patients. A study from the Washington University Medical Center in St. Louis published in March found that children who were administered antibiotics while infected with E. coli O157:H7 were more likely to develop HUS.

UK Bans Dangerous Sports Supplements

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) in the UK warned the public of potentially dangerous sports supplements available for sale. The agency said that “illegal sports supplements might contain dangerous ingredients that could cause kidney failure, seizures, and heart problems.”

Eighty-four illegal products that are marketed as energy and muscle gain enhancers are part of the warning. They contain high risk chemicals such as Ephedrine, Synephrine, and Yohimibine that can cause serious health side effects. The products may also contain steroids, stimulants, and hormones. Retailers have been told to remove those products from store shelves.

Read Full Article Here

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Politics and Legislation

Outside View: Jobs. Obama and re-election

by Peter Morici
College Park, Md. (UPI)

Unemployment hangs stubbornly at more than 8 percent, yet, defying election history, U.S. President Barack Obama would handily win a second term if voters went to the polls today.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney hasn’t capitalized on the stagnant economy because after sewing up the GOP nomination, he failed to move quickly on issues critical to key demographic groups and act on the challenger’s imperative to offer a better alternative to the president’s policies.

To win conservative primary voters, Romney rejected the Dream Act, which enjoyed bipartisan sponsorship in Congress and would permit young adults brought to America illegally as children to earn citizenship by completing two years of college or military service.

After securing the nomination, Romney failed to define a compromise position more acceptable to Hispanic voters and permitted Obama to pre-empt the issue by suspending deportation of those young adults. Obama enjoys an overwhelming lead among Hispanic voters.

Romney vows to repeal ObamaCare but is vague about what would replace it. The president’s healthcare reforms may be too expensive and encourage private firms to offshore jobs to escape costly coverage for employees; however, the law contains provisions popular among the elderly and with women — for example, much improved Medicare prescription drug coverage and coverage for children with chronic conditions.

No surprise! Obama leads Romney in Florida — a must-win state for any Republican candidate, along with Texas, given the Democrats’ lock on California and New York. And the president enjoys a significant lead among women in battleground states.

On the economy, Romney sounds like a broken record, repeating an annoying theme and undermining his appeal. Constantly harping Obama’s economic policies have failed, he asserts his business experience qualifies him to create millions of new American jobs.

Voters recognize Obama inherited a bigger mess than any president since FDR, managed to stabilize the economy and created more than 3.6 million jobs since the recovery began in October 2009.

At Bain Capital, Romney earned his fortune reorganizing troubled companies — often shutting facilities, outsourcing jobs and firing employees. Little in that history indicates he knows much about shaping public policies to encourage new industries, attract private investment, instigate innovation and generally help U.S. companies compete in global markets and bring jobs to America.

During the early days of his campaign, he talked a lot about the right things — dealing with unfair competition from China and developing domestic oil — but since, he has loaded up on Bush administration economic advisers and emphasized broader themes like deregulation and tax and spending cuts.

Read Full Article Here

 

 

Egypt top court freezes Morsi decree: judicial source

by Staff Writers
Cairo (AFP)

Egypt’s Supreme Constitutional Court on Tuesday froze a decree issued by President Mohamed Morsi reinstating the Islamist-led parliament, a judicial source said.

The decision is expected to raise tensions between Morsi, the top court and the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) which handed over power to the new president at the end of June.

“The court ordered the freeze of the president’s decree,” the source said.

On Sunday, just eight days after taking office, Morsi, a former member of the powerful Muslim Brotherhood, ordered the lower house to reconvene.

His move highlighted the power struggle between the president and the Supreme Constitutional Court which last month said certain articles in the law governing the parliament elections were invalid, annulling the lower house.

The judicial source added: “The court ordered that its previous ruling (invalidating the elections and annulling the lower house) be implemented.”

Read Full Article here

Obama’s executive order on communication violates US constitution: Analyst

Published on Jul 12, 2012 by

This edition of News Analysis reviews US President Obama’s move to issue a new executive order allowing the White House to control all private communications in case of emergencies.

Putin and the Future of Russia – Eric Draitser on GRTV

Published on Jul 12, 2012 by

Eric Draitser of StopImperialism.com joins us to discuss the geopolitical significance of the reelection of Vladimir Putin as Russian President. We talk about the differences between Putin and Medvedev, the future of Russian-American relations under Putin, and the future of Syria.

New York Police Department (NYPD) has attacked and brutalized OWS protesters near Zuccotti Park

Published on Jul 12, 2012 by

As the US presidential election draw near, the New York Police Department (NYPD) has attacked and brutalized OWS protesters near Zuccotti Park, not sparing journalists who were beaten and detained.

Press TV has conducted an interview with Giles Clarke, OWS Photographer from New York about the escalation in motivation by police to crackdown violently on unarmed peaceful protesters of the OWS movement and the systematic absence of coverage of OWS in US mainstream media as the US presidential election approaches.

Romania’s PM in Brussels to defend bid to oust president

Published on Jul 12, 2012 by

http://www.euronews.com/ Romania’s Prime Minister, Victor Ponta, has held talks with EU leaders in Brussels to explain his bid to oust President Triane Basescu.

Senior European officials remain deeply concerned over the political turmoil unfolding in Bucharest.

Promising to address those concerns Ponta said:
“I’ve committed myself to give answers on this either on Friday or on Monday, to once again offer reassurances that this political battle will not undermine the rule of law, the constitution and the stability of Romania’s governing institutions in terms of European standards.”

The visit to Brussels by Ponta follows Tuesday’s ruling by Romania’s Constitutional Court to uphold Basescu’s suspension last week.

It means a referendum to impeach the centre-right president will go ahead at the end of the month.

Basescu is accused of acting against the government and parliament by blocking Ponta’s policies.

Further political rallies are set to take place in Romania in the coming weeks to bolster support for Basescu, who could hang on to his job if the turnout in the referendum is less than fifty percent.

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Economy

Wells Fargo pays $175M to settle race discrimination probe

By msnbc.com staff and news services

The Justice Department says Wells Fargo & Co. will pay at least $175 million to settle accusations that it allegedly discriminated against qualified African-American and Hispanic borrowers in its mortgage lending from 2004 through 2009.

The settlement, which needs approval from a judge, would end the investigation into whether the fourth largest U.S. bank between 2004 and 2009 knowingly targeted minorities for risky mortgages that came with higher costs, according to documents filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

“The Department of Justice today filed the second largest fair lending settlement in the department’s history to resolve allegations that Wells Fargo Bank, the largest residential home mortgage originator in the United States, engaged in a pattern or practice of discrimination against qualified African-American and Hispanic borrowers in its mortgage lending from 2004 through 2009,” said a statement from the U.S. Department of Justice.

The settlement will provide $125 million in compensation for minority borrowers the DOJ said were steered into subprime mortgages, which usually carry higher fees. Wells Fargo will pay $50 million more in direct down payment assistance to borrowers in parts of the country where the DOJ identified large numbers of discrimination victims.

At a news conference, Deputy Attorney General James Cole said the government will ensure that borrowers hit hard by the housing crisis will have an opportunity to access homeownership.

Cole said the bank’s discriminatory lending practices resulted in more than 34,000 African-American and Hispanic borrowers in 36 states and the District of Columbia paying higher rates for loans solely because of the color of their skin.

Wells Fargo in May said it could face civil charges under laws that prohibit discrimination against minority homebuyers. At the time, the lender said in a securities filing it believed the charges should not be brought and said it was seeking to show the department that it is in compliance with fair lending laws.

The government investigation found that loans submitted to Wells Fargo by mortgage brokers had varied interest rates, fees, and costs based only on race and not correlated to the borrowers’ creditworthiness, according to the court document.

Wells Fargo noted in a statement that it has denied the claims.

“Wells Fargo is settling this matter solely for the purpose of avoiding contested litigation with the DOJ,” it said, “and to instead devote its resources to continuing to provide fair credit services and choices to eligible customers and important and meaningful assistance to borrowers in distressed U.S. real estate markets.”

Read Full Article Here

 

 

JPMorgan investors wait to hear about the ‘London Whale’s’ splash

Eduardo Munoz / REUTERS

Commuters are reflected in stone as they walk past the JP Morgan headquarters in New York.

By Roland Jones

When JPMorgan reports its quarterly results Friday morning, most investors will be eager to hear just one key piece of information: How much of a splash did the London Whale make for the bank?

In mid-May, the bank announced it had sustained a multibillion-dollar loss that originated in its London office because of a failed hedging strategy undertaken by Bruno Iksil, nicknamed “The London Whale” because of the size of the trading positions he took.

Since then, JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon has appeared on Capitol Hill to explain the massive loss, which the New York Times reports has grown from the $2 billion originally reported to about $5 billion.

“Investors want to understand what happened, who knew what and when,” Betsy Graseck, a managing director for Morgan Stanley, told CNBC Thursday.

Bank earnings don’t usually attract much attention outside the Wall Street community of analysts, traders and other financial industry observers. The JPMorgan report is likely to spur greater interest because of the massive trading loss, which has enraged public opinion and led to Dimon appearing on television and two Congressional panels to own up to his company’s mistakes.

Graseck said it will be important for Dimon, for investors and for the public to set the record straight on the trading loss. He needs to detail exactly how much of the disastrous trade has been “unwound” so the company can move ahead and avoid any future volatility in its stock price that may arise from uncertainly over deeper losses.

“The question is how much [of the trade] is left to go, and what is the volatility on what’s left,” Graseck said.

Investors and the public will want to hear details of how much money will be recovered from top executives at the bank involved in the botched trade.

When he appeared before lawmakers last month to explain his bank’s multi-billion dollar losses, Dimon said the trading debacle will lead to “clawbacks” — efforts to recover compensation paid to employees whose performance was later found to have harmed the company and shareholders.

Ina Drew, the former chief investment officer who oversaw the London office where the bank’s botched trade originated, is likely to see her pay curtailed, according to reports, and so is Iksil, according to a report in the U.K’s Telegraph newspaper.

Read Full Article here

 

‘Inept Congress’ and the stock market

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Stocks finish lower amid weak sentiment

By msnbc.com news services

Stocks closed Thursday’s choppy session lower, as diminished chances of monetary stimulus from major central banks prompted investors to shy away from risky assets.

The Dow Jones industrial average closed down 31 points, having lost over 100 points earlier in the day.

Market sentiment was weak, especially after the lack of any monetary easing by the Bank of Japan on Thursday, and few clues in the minutes from the Federal Reserve’s June policy meeting, released on Wednesday. The lack of policy moves suggested major central banks were still cautious about the need for further easing.

Technology shares have been among the worst performers recently, bogged down by profit warnings from companies such as Advanced Micro Devices Inc and Applied Materials Inc.

Read Full Article Here

 

 

California city to file for bankruptcy

Published on Jul 12, 2012 by

Investors in the U.S. appear to have shrugged off the news that the city of San Bernardino has voted to file for bankruptcy. This blue collar city fifty miles East of Los Angeles had already slashed salaries and cut twenty percent of its employees. San Bernardino still faced a 45 million dollar deficit when the city council called an emergency session and voted to file for bankruptcy. Al Jazeera’s Brian Rooney reports from San Bernadino.

Car makers’ dilemma: too many plants, too few buyers

Published on Jul 12, 2012 by

http://www.euronews.com/ Peugeot’s 8,000 job cuts and closure of a plant near Paris comes as cash strapped Europeans buy fewer new cars and the region’s manufacturers ponder what to do about their surplus of factories with too much capacity.

In addition, unemployment is highest among young people – under 25-year-olds – which means a lost generation of drivers.

In France deliveries of cars and light vans fell by 0.9 percent in June after a 17 percent plunge in May.

In the first half of the year Peugeot Citroen was hit hard with a 13 percent slump in deliveries.

Fellow French carmaker Renault’s sales slipped by 3.3 percent, while Germany’s Volkswagen increased its market share in France and overall sales rose 10.2 percent.

Analyst Brenda Kelly with CMC Markets blamed austerity: “You’re seeing the effect (of austerity measures) on the private sector at the moment, and of course, as the demand for these goods (cars) goes down, so there will be an effect on the employment levels. So you would expect to see unemployment in France rise somewhat over the next quarter or so.”

Around Europe carmakers say they need help from governments to reduce their overcapacity.

It is estimated more than a third of the region’s factories are not using enough of their capacity to be profitable so the industry expects more layoffs and plant closures.

Greek jobless hits record with worse predicted

Published on Jul 12, 2012 by

http://www.euronews.com/ Challenging Spain for the worst jobless total in Europe Greek unemployment has hit a record 22.5 percent of the workforce.

That was the figure for April, which was the latest available. Analysts said the country’s economy has worsened since then and unemployment will likely go higher.

Thirty-two year old Filia, an educated jewellery maker, has been out of a job for a year and has a 10-month-old daughter. ”It’s difficult. The parents help, I use my savings that I have put aside,” she said.

Michalis, 34, lost his job in Athens at a supermarket two years ago. He then went to France and found a job there, but was forced to return to Athens for family reasons and has not been able to find a job since his return a few months ago. ”There is always hope. But in Greece you see how things are, you cannot always save, save, save, that is why we want a united Europe, there has to be a social network, why don’t they go chase the people who spent all the money,” he said.

Bianca Tampouri, a translator, cannot find work, and her husband and 18-year-old daughter are also unemployed. “All my family we all have a problem, so yes I am concerned. About the future, our jobs, our lives, our psychology, you know dignity, everything,” she said.

But some Greeks are more optimistic; Nikos Govas, who was unemployed but opened a coffee shop, said: “If you want a job, you’ll find something. The problem here is everyone wants to work in a doctor’s office or as a civil servant. But it’s not like that. A rubbish collector or a CEO, they’re both jobs and bring in a wage.”

There could be some respite from jobs created by the summer tourism season, but even that is not guaranteed as visitors numbers and revenue were down earlier this year.

Strikes and violent anti-government protests have deterred tourists from visiting.

Tourism is a key sector which accounts for about one in five jobs in Greece.

 

 

Peugeot announces massive layoffs

Published on Jul 12, 2012 by

France’s largest carmaker, Peugeot Citroen, has announced it is cutting 8,000 jobs.

3,000 will go as a result of the closure of a car plant near Paris – the first to shut in France for 20 years.

It’s a blow for new President Francois Hollande’s jobs and growth agenda, as Simon McGregor-Wood reports from Paris.

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Wars and Rumors of War

By Christopher Torchia, The Associated Press July 11, 2012

ISTANBUL – The Syrian ambassador to Iraq has defected and is on his way to Turkey, the most senior diplomat to abandon President Bashar Assad during the 16-month-old uprising, a Syrian opposition figure said Wednesday.

Nawaf Fares, a former provincial governor, would be the second prominent Syrian to break with the regime in less than a week. Brig. Gen. Manaf Tlass, an Assad confidant and son of a former defence minister, fled Syria last week, buoying Western powers and anti-regime activists, who expressed hope that other high-ranking defections would follow.

Appointed to the Baghdad post four years ago, Fares was the first Syrian ambassador to Iraq in 26 years. Like Tlass, he is a member of the privileged Sunni elite in a regime dominated by Assad’s minority Alawite sect.

“It’s certain. Fares has defected. He declared his defection. … He’s moving toward Turkey,” said Khaled Khoja, a member of the opposition Syrian National Council who is based in Istanbul. Asked for details, Khoja said the information came from his own sources on the ground in Iraq.

There was no immediate confirmation from either Iraq or Syria. An operator who answered the phone at the Syrian Embassy in Baghdad said there was nobody at the embassy. When asked if the ambassador is currently in Iraq, the operator said he did not know.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said the U.S. had no confirmation of the defection as of Wednesday afternoon. But he said recent high-level defections from the Assad regime were “a welcome development.”

“That is an indication of the fact that support for Assad is crumbling,” Carney said.

State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell said that if true, Fares would be the first senior diplomat from the regime to defect.

Iraqi government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh also said he could not confirm whether Fares had defected.

Thousands of soldiers, most of them low-level conscripts, have deserted and joined the rebels. But despite the latest high-profile defections, Assad’s regime has largely held together in the face of the uprising — particularly compared with the swift hemorrhaging of Moammar Gadhafi’s inner circle in Libya in 2011.

The conflict in Syria has defied every international attempt to bring peace. Although the Assad government’s crackdown has turned the Syrian president into an international pariah, he still has the support of strong allies such as Russia, Iran and China.

A prominent Syrian opposition leader said Wednesday during a visit to Moscow that Russia’s resistance to international intervention in the conflict was bringing misery and “suffering” to the violence-torn country.

Two Syrian opposition delegations visited Moscow this week, raising hopes that Russia could be pushed to accept the ouster of Assad. But Syrian National Council head Abdelbaset Sieda said he saw “no change” in Moscow’s stance after meeting with officials including Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

“The Syrian people are suffering because of Russia, because of the position it has taken, because of its veto in the U.N. Security Council,” Sieda said at a news conference. “The current regime uses Russian weapons against its own people.”

Activists estimate 17,000 people have been killed since the uprising began, and as the conflict continues, the rebellion appears to be getting more and more radicalized and violent, making any peaceful resolution or transfer of power a long-shot.

Read Full Article Here

 

 

Syrian Ambassador Defects, Encourages Followers

Published on Jul 12, 2012 by

Syrian ambassador to Iraq defects and encourages others to follow suit.

 

 

DR Congo rebels ‘advance on Goma’

Confusion and fear has gripped Goma as rebels near the main eastern city.

The government of the Democratic Republic of Congo has expressed alarm as rebel forces advance towards the country’s main eastern city of Goma.

Witnesses told the BBC that rebels of the M23 group were 40km (25 miles) from the city, near the Rwandan border.

They said rebels appeared to be taking towns and villages with ease, with government troops usually melting away.

The Congolese government and the UN say Rwanda is backing the rebels, a claim Rwanda denies.

DR Congo has accused its neighbour of wanting to keep it unstable so it can exploit its rich mineral wealth.

The Congolese government has called on the international community to condemn Rwanda.

On Sunday, rebels were reported to have seized the strategic town of Rutshuru, 70km north of Goma.

A senior official at a national conservation park speaking on Monday just 40km north of Goma, told the BBC that “the rebels are very much in control of this area”.

Flexing muscles

 

Troublesome neighbors

map
  • April-June 1994: Genocide of Tutsis in Rwanda
  • June 1994: Paul Kagame’s Tutsi rebels take power in Rwanda, Hutu fighters flee into Zaire (DR Congo)
  • Rwanda’s army enters eastern Zaire to pursue Hutu fighters
  • 1997: Laurent Kabila’s AFDL, backed by Rwanda, takes power in Kinshasa
  • 1998: Rwanda accuses Kabila of not acting against Hutu rebels and tries to topple him, sparking five years of conflict
  • 2003: War officially ends but Hutu and Tutsi militias continue to clash in eastern DR Congo
  • 2008: Tutsi-led CNDP rebels march on North Kivu capital, Goma – 250,000 people flee
  • 2009: Rwanda and DR Congo agree peace deal and CNDP integrated into Congolese army
  • 2012: Mutiny led by former CNDP leader Bosco “Terminator” Ntaganda

BBC international development correspondent Mark Doyle says it is not clear if the rebels intend to attack the city.

If they do, there will be a new and massive humanitarian crisis, he says.

However, the rebels may only be flexing their muscles to strengthen their negotiating position with the government, our correspondent adds.

The rebels – who took up arms in April – named themselves the M23 after a failed peace agreement signed on 23 March three years ago.

They are supporters of renegade Gen Bosco Ntaganda, who is wanted for war crimes by the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Gen Ntaganda is an ethnic Tutsi – like the majority of Rwanda’s leadership – and a recent UN report accused Rwanda of backing the rebels.

Kikaya Bin Karubi, the Congolese Ambassador to the UK, told the BBC: “The United Nations Group of Experts last week published a report that says clearly that the so-called M23 are using Rwandan soldiers – and that’s the United Nations talking, not us.”

Rwanda has vehemently denied the accusations.

The M23 rebels defected from the army amid pressure on the government to arrest Gen Ntaganda.

An estimated 200,000 people have fled their homes since April, with about 20,000 crossing the border to Uganda and Rwanda.

Eastern DR Congo has been plagued by years of fighting.

In 1994, more than a million Rwandan ethnic Hutus crossed the border following the genocide in which some 800,000 people – mostly Tutsis – were slaughtered.

Rwanda has twice invaded its much-larger neighbour, saying it was trying to take action against Hutu rebels based in DR Congo. Uganda also sent troops into DR Congo during the 1997-2003 conflict.

 

 

US warns China of ‘conflict’ if it doesn’t agree to maritime code

Published on Jul 12, 2012 by

US secretary of state Hillary Clinton has warned of more conflict in the South China Sea if China doesn’t agree to a maritime code of conduct.

Clinton was speaking in Cambodia, at the Asia Pacific’s leading security forum.

Territorial claims in the South China Sea have dominated the agenda.

But as Al Jazeera’s Steve Chao reports, the talks ended with little meaningful agreement.

Mosaic News : Bosniaks Hold Mass Funeral on 17th Anniversary of Srebrenica Massacre

Published on Jul 12, 2012 by

Bosniaks hold another mass funeral on 17th anniversary of Srebrenica massacre, Bahraini activists rally in solidarity with Saudi protestors, suicide attack targeting police academy kills 25 in Yemen, and more.

Today’s headlines in full:

Bosniaks hold another mass funeral on 17th anniversary of Srebrenica massacre
BBC Arabic, UK

Bahraini activists rally in solidarity with Saudi protestors
Al-Alam, Iran

Yemeni tribal leaders meet to discuss US intervention in Yemen
Press TV, Iran

Suicide attack targeting police academy kills 25 in Yemen
Press TV, Iran

Saudis hold funeral for slain protestor
Press TV, Iran

Bicycle bomb attack targets Pakistan space researchers; one dead
Press TV, Iran

Syrian opposition and Russia fail to bridge gap in Moscow
New TV, Lebanon

Egyptians call for referendums on parliament dissolution, constitutional declaration
Dubai TV, UAE

Israeli state prosecutors debate proceeding with Olmert charges in real estate scandal
IBA, Israel

Israel: Migron outpost appeal hearing delayed for two weeks
IBA, Israel

Freed Palestinian soccer player Sarsak returns to Gaza
Al Jazeera, Qatar

Image: A Bosnian Muslim man sits and cries near the coffin of his relative at Memorial Center in Potocari before a mass burial, near Srebrenica July 11, 2012: REUTERS/Dado Ruvic

Mosaic is a Peabody Award-winning daily compilation of television news reports from the Middle East, including Egypt, Lebanon, Israel, Syria, the Palestinian Authority, Iraq and Iran. Watch more Mosaic at http://www.linktv.org/mosaic

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Articles of Interest

Vatican excommunicates ‘illicit’ Chinese bishop

by Staff Writers
Vatican City (AFP)

The Vatican on Tuesday said it was excommunicating a Chinese bishop ordained last week by state-sanctioned Church authorities in northeast China without Pope Benedict XVI’s consent.

“The Reverend Joseph Yue Fusheng, ordained without pontifical mandate and hence illicitly, has automatically incurred the sanctions laid down by canon 1382 of the Code of Canon Law,” the Vatican said in a statement.

Under religious law, both the bishop ordained and the bishop celebrating the ceremony without papal consent are excommunicated, meaning that they can no longer receive the Eucharist or take an active part in the liturgy.

“Consequently the Holy See does not recognise him as bishop of the Apostolic Administration of Harbin, and he lacks the authority to govern the priests and the Catholic community in the Province of Heilongjiang,” it added.

Read Full Article Here

British Army steps in as London 2012 defense plan falls short

Published on Jul 12, 2012 by

With just 16 days before the Olympic Games kick off in London, there’s been a major hitch in the much-hyped security plans. Thousands of extra British soliders have had to be drafted in after a private firm failed to supply promised guards. The company’s been paid almost 300 million pounds – but hasn’t trained enough staff. RT’s Sara Firth has more.

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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

‘US respects no one’s sovereignty’

Published on Jul 1, 2012 by

At least eight people have been killed in the latest US assassination drone strike in the northwestern tribal belt of Pakistan, near the border with Afghanistan. The unmanned aircraft fired two missiles at a house in North Waziristan on Sunday morning.

Press TV has conducted an interview with Syed Tariq Pirzada, strategic affairs analyst, to hear his opinion on this issue.

 

 

 

Lasting peace possible only if Israel ends occupation: Iran

TEHRAN, July 2 (MNA) – The Iranian ambassador to the Human Rights Council has said that lasting peace can be established in the region only if the Zionist regime ends its occupation of the Palestinian territories.
Ambassador Mohammad Reza Sajjadi made the remarks in Geneva on Monday in a speech during a meeting of the Human Rights Council after Richard Falk, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights on Palestinian territories occupied since 1967, presented his report to the council.

Following are excerpts of the text of Sajjadi’s speech:

My delegation would like to thank the Special Rapporteur for his detailed report submitted to the council.

Highlighting the violation of human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territory with reference to (the) “Israeli regime(‘s) policy and practice of targeted killing” as well as “widespread and abusive use of administrative detention procedures”, the report obviously illustrates flagrant violation of human rights in the Palestine and draws attention to some horrific incidents (caused) by so-called “Israeli Defense Forces.”

The incidences of extrajudicial executions or assassinations underscored in the report as well as the recent upsurge of violence by (the) Israeli regime in Gaza are just (the) tip of (the) iceberg demonstrating that this regime continues and even intensifies its heinous crimes against the oppressed and defenseless Palestinian people in defiance of human rights principles, international law, UN resolutions and even the basic norms of decency. What is perplexing is that the Israeli regime, enjoying the unflagging support of the Western bloc, continues to perpetrate its crimes and violations with a sense of impunity.

It is high time for the council to defend more effectively the human rights of (the) Palestinian people and adopt a firm position and urge the international community to counter the said regime’s inhumane policies and practices against the defenseless Palestinians.

The Islamic Republic of Iran believes that the settlement of the Palestinian crisis would be achievable only if the inalienable rights of the people of the occupied Palestine (are) fully recognized, restored, and maintained.

The only solution to the Palestinian issue (necessary for the) establishment of peace is restoration of the sovereignty right to Palestine and putting an end to occupation.

The Palestinian people should be allowed to express their opinions freely regarding their fate and future and the kind of state and government they want to have through a referendum with the participation of all (the) Palestinian people.

EP/PA
END
MNA

 

 

 

 

Egypt’s Mursi meets with Christian leaders, activists to broaden support

The Muslim Brotherhood’s President-elect Mohamed Mursi (C) meets with Christian leaders from different denominations at the presidential palace in Cairo. (Reuters)

The Muslim Brotherhood’s President-elect Mohamed Mursi (C) meets with Christian leaders from different denominations at the presidential palace in Cairo. (Reuters)

By AL ARABIYA WITH AGENCIES

Egyptian youth activists and Christian leaders met with President-elect Mohammed Mursi on Wednesday to work towards “achieving the goals of the uprising which ousted his predecessor Hosni Mubarak last year,” the Egypt Independent newspaper reported.

Egyptian activist Wael Ghoneim, known for his prominent role during the January 25 Revolution, said the meeting discussed the importance of transparency in all decisions made by Mursi’s government, which is due to be installed after he is inaugurated at the weekend.

Ghoneim has previously said he has several reservations on the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mursi even though he voted for him.

“Many people did not vote for Mursi because he is a member of the Muslim Brotherhood or the chairman of its political wing the Freedom and Justice Party, but because they did not want to opt for a member of the former regime,” Ghoneim said earlier this month in reference to the election runoff which saw Mursi pitted against former prime minister Ahmed Shafiq.

In the talks Mursi held with the youth activists, Asmaa Mahfouz, one of the founders of Egypt’s April 6 Youth Movement, said Mursi’s promises “are calculated but he seems to mean well for Egypt,” Egypt Independent reported.

Mursi also met with Christian leaders and the families of those killed in the uprising, seeking to broaden support before a handover of power by the ruling generals, due by June 30.

His first appointments as president-elect of Egypt will be a woman and a Coptic Christian, his spokesman has told the Guardian this week, as he moves to allay fears of the Brotherhood.

Samah al-Essawy said that although the names of the two choices had not been finalized, they would be Mursi’s two vice-presidents.

When the appointments go through, they will constitute the first time in Egypt’s history that either a woman or a Coptic Christian has occupied such a high-ranking position.

Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Wednesday congratulated Egypt’s newly elected Islamist president, but cautioned that the election was just a first step towards true democracy.

“We have congratulated President (Mohammed) Mursi and the Egyptian people for continuing on their path to democratic transition,” Clinton told reporters in Helsinki.

President-elect Mursi, of the once-banned Muslim Brotherhood, is in the process of forming a government after he was proclaimed Egypt’s first democratically elected president on Sunday, a year and a half after street protests toppled veteran strongman and U.S. ally Hosni Mubarak.

“We have heard some very positive statements so far,” Clinton said, hailing among other things Mursi’s pledge to honor international obligations, “which would, in our view, cover the peace treaty with Israel,” signed in 1979 and which many feared could be abandoned with an Islamist in power.

However, Clinton cautioned, “one election does not a democracy make.”

The historic vote was “just the beginning of hard work, and hard work requires pluralism, respecting the rights of minorities, an independent judiciary and independent media,” she said.

“We expect President Mursi to demonstrate a commitment to inclusivity that is manifested by representatives of the women of Egypt, of the Coptic Christian community, of the secular, non-religious community and young people,” she added.

 

 

100 Iranian MPs call for blocking Hormuz Strait

TEHRAN, July 2 (MNA) – The Majlis National Security and Foreign Policy Committee has put forward a proposal to block the strategic Strait of Hormuz to prevent the passage of tankers that carry oil for the countries that have imposed sanctions on Iran, an Iranian MP announced on Sunday.
Speaking to the Persian service of the Mehr News Agency, MP Ebrahim Aqa-Mohammadi said that the proposal had been signed by 100 MPs as of Sunday.

The measure would be a response to the European Union’s oil embargo on Iran that took effect on July 1 and a new U.S. law that penalizes countries that do business with the Central Bank of Iran by denying their banks access to the United States market. The law came into force on June 28.

The Strait of Hormuz is one of the world’s most strategic shipping channels. It connects the vast majority of the world’s countries with the crude oil that fuels their economies.

At its narrowest point, the strait is 21 miles wide, with a two-mile shipping lane on either side. On average, 14 supertankers sail through the strait every day.

MP Arsalan Fat’hipour said on Sunday that if Iran is unfairly targeted, it will not allow “even one drop of oil” to pass through the Strait of Hormuz.

According to the Fars News Agency, he also played down the effects of sanctions against Iran and said, “We have been sanctioned for 33 years and have faced worse conditions than this, but nothing happened.”

MJH/PA/HG
END
MNA

 

 

Syrian opposition discusses transition in Cairo meeting, FSA boycotts

At least 250 members of various Syrian opposition groups have gathered in Cairo to discuss a common political vision for their country. (Reuters)

At least 250 members of various Syrian opposition groups have gathered in Cairo to discuss a common political vision for their country. (Reuters)

By Al Arabiya with Agencies

A meeting for the Syrian opposition groups kicked off in Cairo on Monday mainly to discuss a new international plan for a transitional Syrian government. They are also expected to hold talks on Tuesday with Arab ministers in a bid to agree on a shared platform, Egyptian media and the Arab League said.

The Arab League chief called on the fragmented Syrian opposition to unite during the opening session of the meeting.

Arab League Secretary General Nabil al-Arabi addressed nearly 250 members of the Syrian opposition at the meeting on Monday in an effort to get disparate groups to pull together. It is the first time the Arab League hosts a meeting of the Syrian opposition.

Arabi said the opposition “must not miss this opportunity” to unite, adding that the Syrian people are more valuable than any factional disagreements.

Syria-based rebel fighters and activists earlier on Monday said they would boycott the opposition meeting in Cairo, denouncing it as a “conspiracy” that served the policy goals of Damascus allies Moscow and Tehran.

“We refuse all kinds of dialogue and negotiation with the killer gangs … and we will not allow anyone to impose on Syria and its people the Russian and Iranian agendas,” said a statement signed by the rebel Free Syrian Army and “independent” activists.

The signatories criticized the agenda of the Cairo talks for “rejecting the idea of a foreign military intervention to save the people … and ignoring the question of buffer zones protected by the international community, humanitarian corridors, an air embargo and the arming of rebel fighters.”

The boycotting groups said the talks follow the “dangerous decisions of the Geneva conference, which aim to safeguard the regime, to create a dialogue with it and to form a unity government with the assassins of our children.”

“The Cairo conference aims to give a new chance to (U.N.-Arab League) envoy Kofi Annan to try again to convince Assad to implement his six-point plan. .. while forgetting that thousands have been martyred since the plan came into force,” they said.

No transition in the presence of Assad

Reema Flaihan, spokesperson of the Local Coordination Committees (LCC), had told Al Arabiya that the responsible committee has prepared a document for the transitional period, which has been signed by the different opposition members.

According to reports, the opposition figures will most probably reject any discussion of a national unity government in the presence of President Bashar al-Assad.

On the ground, as many as 77 people have been killed in violent crackdown on dissent across the country on Sunday.

The Syrian opposition on Sunday branded an international plan for a transition in strife-torn Syria a failure, as the death toll mounted.

World powers meeting in Geneva on Saturday agreed that the transition plan could include current regime members, but the West did not see any role for Assad in a new unity government.

Russia and China insisted that Syrians themselves must decide how the transition takes place, rather than allow others to dictate their fate.

Moscow and Beijing, which have twice blocked U.N. Security Council resolutions on Syria, signed up to the final agreement that did not make any explicit call for Assad to cede power.

Extra powers to Annan and his team

In a special interview with Al Arabiya, Iraq’s Foreign Minister Hoshiar Zebary said that the principles agreed on in Geneva will give extra powers to Annan and his team for the sake of finding a solution to the Syrian crisis.

Official Syrian media slammed the outcome, in rare agreement with the main opposition Syrian National Council (SNC) and the LCC which organize protests.

The SNC said it had expected “more serious and effective action” to emerge from the Geneva talks and reiterated that Assad must quit power.
“The Syrian people were hoping that the international community would adopt more serious and effective measures in dealing with the regime, whose bloody behavior has become clear,” the SNC said.

“The Syrian National Council affirms that no initiative can be accepted by the Syrian people unless it clearly calls on Bashar al-Assad and the tyrants around him to step down.”

It also charged that the Geneva plan “lacked a clear mechanism for action and a timetable” to hold the regime accountable, and warned that this could mean “more bloodshed.”

The LCC said the outcome showed once again a failure to adopt a common position.

It called the transition accord “just one version, different in form only, of the demands of Russian leaders allied to the Assad regime and who cover it militarily and politically in the face of international pressure.”

Iran, a strong ally of Assad, said the Geneva meeting was “unsuccessful” because Damascus and Tehran were not invited.

The United States and European nations reportedly opposed the presence of Iran, although U.N.-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan and U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon had wanted Tehran to attend.

The Geneva deal came despite initial pessimism over the talks amid deep divisions between the West and China and Russia on how to end the violence that the Observatory says has killed more than 15,800 since March 2011.

Syria’s neighbor Turkey, which attended the Geneva talks, scrambled fighter jets after Syrian helicopters flew close to its border, the army said on Sunday, hiking tensions following last month’s downing of a Turkish plane.

Six F-16 warplanes took off from airbases in south Turkey on Saturday after Syrian helicopters flew closer to the border than is normal, the army said, specifying there had been three incidents but no violation of Turkish airspace.

Sunday’s highest concentration of deaths was in the eastern province of Deir Ezzor.

Annan said on Saturday it was up to the Syrians to decide who they wanted in a unity government. But he added: “I would doubt that Syrians… would select people with blood on their hands to lead them.”

The United States and France both said it was clear there was no future role for Assad.

 

Iran says ready to upgrade Egypt ties to ambassadorial level

TEHRAN, July 2 (MNA) — Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said on Monday that Iran is ready to upgrade its relations with Egypt to the level of ambassador whenever the Arab country announces its readiness.
“Iran has always expressed its interest in upgrading political relations between Tehran and Cairo to the level of ambassador, and, whenever the Egyptian side is ready, the Islamic Republic of Iran is ready to enhance ties between the two countries.”

Salehi described current relations between Iran and Egypt as “good”, adding, “However, the Egyptian side has so far set some conditions for enhancing political relations with Iran, but the election of (Mohamed) Morsi to serve as the Egyptian president has opened a new chapter in the country’s foreign policy.”

“The Foreign Ministry of the Islamic Republic of Iran hopes that the prospects of Egypt’s foreign policy will become brighter and that the country’s new government will take more serious measures to have more comprehensive and deeper relations with the Muslim world,” he added.

The Iranian foreign minister also said, “The Egyptian people did a great job by electing Morsi to serve as the president and brought the revolution to fruition.”

EP/PA
END
MNA

 

 

 

 

The Middle East peace process is a ‘trick,’ says U.N. rights rapporteur

Richard Falk, a special U.N. rapporteur for human rights, said Palestinians in the occupied West Bank were offered no protection in Israeli law. (File photo)

Richard Falk, a special U.N. rapporteur for human rights, said Palestinians in the occupied West Bank were offered no protection in Israeli law. (File photo)

By AFP
GENEVA

The U.N. pointman for Palestinian human rights launched a blistering attack on the international community Monday, accusing it of conspiring in Israeli settlement policies and branding the peace process a “trick.”

Richard Falk, the special U.N. rapporteur for human rights in the occupied territories, also took aim at the so-called Middle East Quartet’s peace envoy Tony Blair over his efforts in the region.

Falk, who spoke to reporters after addressing the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva, said Palestinians in the occupied West Bank were offered no protection in Israeli law and that their treatment was akin to apartheid.

“I think one has to begin to call the reality by a name,” he said, likening the “discriminatory dualistic legal system” in the West Bank to the former system in South Africa.

In his report to the council, Falk expressed his concern about Israel’s use of administrative detention, the expansion of settlements and violence by settlers.

Israel in March severed contacts with the council after the 47-member body said it would investigate settlements in the occupied territories, which are considered illegal under international law.

Peace talks between the two sides have been on hold since September 2010, with the Palestinians refusing to resume them without a moratorium on settlement building.

“The peace process is a trick rather than a way to find a solution to the problem,” Falk said.

He also criticized the work of the former British prime minister Tony Blair in the region.

“Tony Blair has not much to show for his 86 visits to the Middle East… (it is) an extension of the peace process which I regard as a failure because while time passes the settlement culture continues.”

“The international community is conspiring – maybe unwittingly – in a process that has no way of bringing justice to the people involved in this conflict,” he said of settlements.

At least 3,500 buildings were under construction in the West Bank in 2011, Falk reported, not including Israeli settlements in annexed east Jerusalem.

Such building on Palestinian land “more or less closes the book on the reality and feasibility” of a two-state solution to the conflict, Falk said.

“The credibility of the Human Rights Council is very much at stake if there is nothing that is done about the non-cooperation or non-compliance” by Israel with the council’s recommendations, he said.

“The language of censure doesn’t help the Palestinian people if there is no action.”

Settler violence against Palestinians was a new feature of the drive to occupy the Palestinian territories, especially around Hebron and Nablus, he added.

“Many people say the Israeli government is an extension of the settlers and I think that is an accurate description,” he said.

Falk said Palestinians were disillusioned by the international peace efforts and had resorted to extreme measures such as hunger strikes to raise awareness of abuses including illegal detention by Israel.

But such action was ignored in Western media, Falk said, sending “the unfortunate signal that only violent protests will be noticed internationally.”

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Economy

‘Lazy Greeks myth, red herring in explaining crisis’

Published on Jul 1, 2012 by

Peter Mertens, leader of the Workers’ Party of Belgium, believes the Eurozone debt crisis is pushing member states towards “a very large number of social conflicts.” Mertens told RT that Europe faces three alternatives – saving the euro with “authoritarian measures by taking national sovereignty overnight to the European level”, breaking up into “two, three or four Europes”, or adopting a socialist model, “where banking system is public, where energy system is public, where there is democracy.” He believes Europe needs radical changes to its financial sector.

See transcript: http://on.rt.com/r9ai58

Big banks craft “living wills” in case they fail

 David Henry and Dave Clarke | Reuters

NEW YORK/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Five of the biggest banks in the United States are putting finishing touches on plans for going out of business as part of government-mandated contingency planning that could push them to untangle their complex operations.

The plans, known as living wills, are due to regulators no later than July 1 under provisions of the Dodd-Frank financial reform law designed to end too-big-to-fail bailouts by the government. The living wills could be as long as 4,000 pages.

Since the law allows regulators to go so far as to order a bank to divest subsidiaries if it cannot plan an orderly resolution in bankruptcy, the deadline is pushing even healthy institutions to start a multi-year process to untangle their complex global operations, according to industry consultants.

“The resolution process is now going to be part of the cost-benefit analysis on where banks will do business,” said Dan Ryan, leader of the financial services regulatory practice at PricewaterhouseCoopers in New York. “The complexity of the organizations will shrink.”

JPMorgan Chase & Co , Bank of America Corp , Citigroup Inc , Goldman Sachs & Co and Morgan Stanley are among those submitting the first liquidation scenarios to regulators at the Federal Reserve and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp, according to people familiar with the matter.

The five firms, which declined to discuss their plans for this story, have some of the biggest balance sheets, trading desks and derivatives portfolios of financial institutions in the United States.

Great Britain and other major countries are imposing similar requirements for “resolution” plans on their big banks, too.

The liquidation plans are coming amid renewed questions about the safety of big banks following JPMorgan’s stunning announcement last month that a trading debacle has cost it more than $2 billion – a sum far too small to endanger the bank, but shocking enough to bring back memories of the financial crisis.

 

Read Full Article Here

 

Iran to boost gasoline output by one million BPD

Published on Jul 2, 2012 by

As the US and European Union intensify sanctions on Iran’s energy industry, Iran continues to develop its oil facilities using domestic capability.

Press TV’s Amir Mehdi Kazemi reports from Tehran.

Amid a global crackdown against alleged black money in secret accounts of Swiss banks, their bankers are selling a new safe-haven idea to their rich clients from India and other countries — the high-value 1,000 franc notes to be stored in safe deposit boxes.

These boxes — kept inside the premises of Swiss banks — are also said to be being used to stash gold, diamond, paintings and art works among other valuables — apparently because of limited risk of catching the preying eyes of foreign governments having signed banking information exchange treaties with Switzerland.

According to industry sources, bankers are telling their rich clients that Switzerland’s tax and information exchange treaties with India and other countries are mostly limited to funds in customers’ savings, deposit and investment accounts, and do not apply to the safe deposit boxes.

As a result, the demand has soared to record high levels for the safe deposit boxes and the 1,000 Swiss franc banknotes in Switzerland, as rich of the world are rushing to get them.

As per the data available with Switzerland’s central bank SNB (Swiss National Bank), the thousand-franc notes now account for 60 per cent of total value of all Swiss banknotes in circulation, up from about 50 per cent a year ago.

Replying to PTI queries, SNB confirmed that there was a significant surge in demand for thousand-franc notes and admitted that this could be due to a trend to store the money and a higher demand was being noticed from abroad for these high-value currency notes.

SNB did not reply to specific queries about demand from India and said that it did not have any data on deposit boxes.

Just one thousand-franc banknote is worth about Rs 60,000 in Indian currency, making it easier to store large amount of money in form of these notes

‘Sanctions only hurting EU, Iran cashing in on exemptions’

Published on Jul 2, 2012 by

The EU embargo of Iranian oil is now in place, along with fresh U.S. sanctions against countries dealing with Tehran. The measures are aimed at pressurizing Iran to curb its nuclear programme. The Islamic Republic says however that it’s been stockpiling money as a buffer and that selling oil remains no problem – thanks to America exempting some countries from penalties – including China and Singapore. Author and journalist Afshin Rattansi says the sanctions are unlikely to have the desired effect.

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Wars and Rumors of War

Economy and drugs dominate Mexico poll

Published on Jul 1, 2012 by

Two of the main issues expected to dominate Mexico’s presidential election on Sunday are the economy and the country’s “War on Drugs”.

Mexico’s economy is growing at a rate of four per cent, but 20 million youths are out of school and out of work.

Meanwhile, more than 50,000 people have been killed since December 2006, in the fight against drug gangs and organised crime.

Al Jazeera’s Adam Raney reports from Ciudad Juárez.

Armed Angels: Children dragged into grown-up war in Syria

Published on Jul 1, 2012 by

The urgency for international agreement on Syria is underlined by the growing daily violence there. As Maria Finoshina reports, even the youngest in the country are being dragged into the conflict.

Missiles, bombs, drones & battleships: London ready for Olympics?

Published on Jul 1, 2012 by

High-tech battleships and missiles are on stand-by to protect London during the upcoming Olympics. Some are concerned it looks more like war games than a sporting event. But as RT’s Laura Smith explains, heavy weaponry may not be enough to tackle the real threat.

‘Removing Assad will add to Syria chaos’

Published on Jul 1, 2012 by

Russia and China want the Syrian people to resolve the Syrian issue while the US and its allies who are causing the bloodshed is firm about dictating terms.

Interview with James Fetzer, professor and philosopher, Madison.

Syrian No-go: Rebels won’t talk until Assad out

Published on Jul 2, 2012 by

Syria’s rebels have rebuffed the latest plan for peace. World powers pushed for a unity government at talks in Geneva at the weekend – but the opposition insists Assad has to go. The deal was forged to try and end the drawn-out conflict, which the UN says has claimed more than 10-thousand lives. RT’s Maria Finoshina reports.

UN Rights chief arms flow increasing into Syria

Published on Jul 2, 2012 by

Navi Pillay, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, tells Al Jazeera that violence in Syria is being fuelled by the increasing flow of weapons to both the sides.

 

Assad to Kremlin: I can finish the revolt in two months, replaces army chiefs

DEBKA

Turkish military convoy heading for Syrian border

In a phone call to the Kremlin Sunday, July 1, Syrian President Bashar Assad said he needed just two months to finish off the revolt against his regime. “My new military tactics are working,” he said in a secret video-conference with Russian intelligence and foreign ministry officials who shape Moscow’s policy on Syria.

Reporting this exclusively, debkafile’s intelligence sources also register the fleeting life span of the new plan for ending the Syrian war which UN envoy Kofi Annan announced had been agreed at a multinational Action Group meeting in Geneva on Saturday, June 30. Within 24 hours, the principle of a national unity transitional government based on “mutual consent” was rejected by the regime and the Turkish-based opposition leaders alike, as the violence went into another month.

On the first day of July, 91 people were reported killed in the escalating Syrian violence after a record 4,000 in June.
The new military tactics to which Assad referred are disclosed here:
1.  The sweeping removal of most of the veteran Syrian army commanders who led the 16-month bloody assault on regime opponents and rebels. They were sent home with full pay to make way for a new set of younger commanders, most of them drawn from the brutal Alawite Shabiha militia, which is the ruling family’s primary arm against its enemies.
The regular commanders had shown signs of fatigue and doubts about their ability to win Assad’s war. Their will to fight on was being badly sapped by the mounting numbers officers and men going over to the opposition camp in June.
One of the tasks set the new commanders is to stem the rate of defections.
To keep the veteran commanders from joining the renegades and reduce their susceptibility to hostile penetration, the officers were not sacked but retired on full pension plus all the perks of office, including official cars.
2.  But a higher, unthinkable level of violence is the key to Assad’s “new tactics.” He has armed the new military chiefs with extra fire power – additional tank and artillery units, air force bombers and attack helicopters – for smashing pockets of resistance and unlimited permission to use it. Already the level of live fire used against the rebels has risen to an even more unthinkable level which explains the sharp escalation of deaths to an average of 120 per day.
On the Syrian-Turkish border, tensions continue to mount. Monday morning, Turkey was still pumping large-scale strength including tanks, antiaircraft and antitank guns, artillery, surface missiles and combat helicopters to the border region.
Saturday, half a dozen Turkish jets were scrambled to meet Syria helicopters approaching their common border.
In Tehran, Brig. Gen. Amir-Ali Hajizadeh, commander of Iran’s IRGC Aerospace Division, warned Ankara that if its troops ventured onto Syrian soil, their bases of departure would be destroyed. The threat was made during Hajizadeh’s announcement of a three-day missile exercise starting Monday in response to the European oil embargo.  He reported that long-, medium- and short-range missiles would target “simulations of foreign bases in the northern Semnan Desert,” without mentioning any specific nation except Turkey.

 

Bulgaria : No Turkey-Syria War Looming, NATO Chief Says

Novinite.com (Sofia NewsAgency)

Bulgaria: No Turkey-Syria War Looming, NATO Chief Says
NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen of Denmark gives his monthly press briefing in Brussels, in Brussels, Belgium, 02 July 2012. EPA/BGNES

NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen has played down the risk of a military confrontation between Turkey and Syria.

Rasmussen also said Ankara was justified in beefing up its defenses along the Syrian border, as cited by international media.

Turkey, a key NATO member, has strengthened its troop presence and air defenses along its southern border after Syria shot down one of its jets on June 22, heightening tensions between the neighbors caused by an uprising against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Asked if he was concerned about Turkey‘s military buildup and whether there was a risk it could lead to a confrontation with Syria, Rasmussen said told a news conference:

“I commend Turkey for having shown restraint despite the very tragic aircraft incident,” Rasmussen told a news conference in Brussels on Monday.

“I find it quite normal that Turkey takes necessary steps to protect its population and its territory,” he said.

He added NATO had received no request from Turkey to deploy AWACS surveillance planes or other military equipment.

At an emergency meeting in Brussels last week, NATO allies condemned Syria‘s shooting down of the Turkish military plane, but stopped short of threatening a military response.

Syria says it shot down the Turkish jet in self-defense and that it was brought down in Syrian air space. Turkey says the jet accidentally violated Syrian air space for a few minutes but was brought down in international air space.

Turkey scrambled six F-16 fighter jets in three separate incidents responding to Syrian military helicopters approaching the border on Sunday, its armed forces command said on Monday.

Meanwhile, Arab states and Turkey urged Syria‘s divided opposition on Monday to unite and form a credible alternative to the government of President Bashar al-Assad, but rifts swiftly emerged at talks in Cairo.

The unity calls were made at the opening of a two-day meeting organized by the Arab League to try to rally Syria‘s opposition, which has been beset by in-fighting that diplomats say have made it tougher for the world to respond to the crisis.

Sixteen months into an uprising against Assad, squabbling among the opposition makes it less likely to be able to win international recognition or to get more than half-hearted foreign support.

“It is not acceptable to waste this opportunity in any way. The sacrifices of the Syrian people are bigger than us all and more precious than any differences or individual and party interests,” Arab League Secretary-General Nabil Elaraby said, addressing the roughly 200 Syrian politicians and activists.

 

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Articles of Interest

Inside Story – Sudan: Breaking the barrier of fear

Published on Jul 1, 2012 by

As the Sudanese government intensifies its crackdown on anti-government protests that have been going on for almost two weeks, activists have called for a massive demonstration against the government’s austerity measures.
The protesters defiantly dubbed their anti-government rallies “licking elbows” after officials issued a statement telling people who are dissatisfied with the government to do just that.

The protests that were sparked by austerity measures have spread from the capital Khartoum to other areas of the country, with people now openly calling for an end to the 23-year-old rule of Omar al-Bashir, Sudan’s president.

Fast and Furious & The 2nd Amendment

The War On Drugs

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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

Obamagate

Photo: EPA

The popularity of US President Barak Obama is continuing to decrease. Recently, another scandal broke out which made it decrease further. It has become known that the US secret services had failed an operation against the Mexican mafia. However, for some reason, Mr. Obama is trying to hush up the details of the unsuccessful operation.

The governor of Texas Rick Perry has compared these attempts of Mr. Obama to the notorious attempts of President Nixon to hush up the Watergate scandal.

Mr. Perry, probably, really has the right to say so. The fact itself that the secret services failed this operation works against the popularity of the current US president. It seems to be understood by everybody that the best thing to keep a good reputation after making a mistake is to openly acknowledge it and to apologize for it. But the US administration, for some reason, has chosen the worst scenario – the policy of hushing up the details of this mistake.

The operation, called “Fast and Furious,” was carried out by the US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. It was planned that agents of this bureau, under the guise of weapon smugglers, would sell weapons to Mexican criminal groups, and, then, catch them red-handed.

The first part of this plan was successful. A big amount of weapons was really sold to the Mexican mafia. However, it turned out that not all the criminals were caught red-handed. Moreover, the largest part of these weapons remained in the hands of criminals. Two Kalashnikov guns from this lot were found at the place of the murder of US border guard Brian Terry. It was also found out that other weapons from this lot had also been used for a number of murders in Mexico.

An investigation of this case started in the US. However, some details of this case looked so scandalous for certain high-ranking US politicians that they tried to hamper this investigation.

For example, recently, the House of Representatives demanded that the US Attorney General Eric Holder should be charged of lack of respect for the Congress. The reason for that is that Mr. Holder has concealed several documents concerning the failed operation with weapons from the Department of Justice. For some reason, President Obama, instead of ordering to make the documents concealed by Mr. Holder public, ordered to further keep them secret. (It is in the US laws that the president has the right for an individual decision of putting a label of secrecy on any documents.) This decision of Mr. Obama made many people suspect that these documents really hold something which the US authorities prefer not to reveal.

For Republicans, this was another chance to criticize their perpetual opponents, the Democrats. As it has already been mentioned, the governor of Texas Rick Perry compared this story with the Watergate scandal.

The name “Watergate scandal” refers to the notorious scandal of 1972, when the Republican Party was accused of setting eavesdropping devices in rooms occupied by Democrats in the Watergate Hotel in Washington. As a result of that scandal, US President Richard Nixon, a Republican, had to retire.

Rick Perry stresses that the Watergate scandal, for all its ugliness from the moral point of view, was, in fact, a minor accident in comparison with the failure of the operation “Fast and Furious.” This failure may have presented a serious threat for the security of the whole US, Mr. Perry insists.

The failure of the operation was a serious mistake for President Obama’s administration – but the attempts to hush up its details were probably a not lesser mistake. At present, when President Obama’s popularity is catastrophically declining, such mistakes are something what Mr. Obama needs less of all. Such mistakes may make many of those who voted for Barack Obama refrain from voting for him again at the coming presidential elections.

In fact, Mr. Obama has fulfilled very few, if any, of his promises of his first pre-election campaign. In 2008, he promised to bring order into the country’s home policy. Now, when his first (and, probably, the only) presidential term is nearly over, the US has managed to spoil the relations with Pakistan, which used to be probably the US’s most reliable partner in the whole Moslem world.

During his first pre-election campaign, Barack Obama promised to do away with the legacy of the gloomy epoch of George W. Bush – the notorious prisons for POWs. However, the prisons are still functioning. Besides, Mr. Obama is risking to lose the respect of the Hispanic population of the US because of his inability to resist the adoption of stricter laws of control over immigration. Recently, Mr. Obama abolished a number of tough anti-immigrant laws in the Alabama state, but did not abolish the right of the state’s authorities to check documents of people who are suspected of violating the US laws on immigration. However, initially, Mr. Obama promised to totally abolish such checking, saying that this practice runs counter to the US constitution.

But these are not the only reasons for the US citizens to be dissatisfied with President Obama. Many Americans believe that it is the ineffectual policy of the Republican Party, of which Mr. Obama is a member, that has drawn the country into a deep financial crisis. However, the Republicans are now trying to make President Obama a scapegoat for this.

Only a miracle can help Barack Obama to regain his former popularity again. But miracles, as a rule, happen very rarely.

 

 

Unilateral withdrawal, by consent

Cautious, incremental unilateral actions by Israel will pave the way for a two-state solution.

By Gilead Sher
 HAARETZ

Retired army officers and politicians have criticized the “land for peace” idea in general and unilateral action in particular. For example, in an opinion published in Haaretz on June 5, Moshe Arens argued, “Israeli leadership suffers from unilateral withdrawal syndrome.”

The strategy of unilateral withdrawal combined with the “land for peace” paradigm has been used time and again despite the harm it has caused Israel, Arens argued.

But what is the alternative?

Last week, an exhibition of work by Israeli artist Larry Abramson called “1967” opened at the Gordon Gallery in Tel Aviv. Death notices of soldiers that fell during the Six Day War peer out from paint-smeared editions of Haaretz from the time. Alongside the death notices are headlines, such as “IDF Powerfully Strikes Arab Aggressor,” and ads calling for the annexation of the territories.

The exhibition leaves the impression that the 45 years since the Six Day War have brought us no closer to fulfilling the Zionist dream of a nation-state founded on the principles of equality and democracy. In the seventh decade since its establishment, Israel has neither recognized borders nor a constitution, both of which are vital to ensuring its identity as a Zionist and democratic state for the Jewish people.

 

See Full Article Here

 

 

 

 

  • The significance of the Irish referendum seems also to have escaped Ireland’s EU partners. (Photo: James Stringer)

Opinion

Another treaty, another Irish referendum

EUobserver.com

By Andrew Duff

BRUSSELS – Another European treaty. Another Irish referendum. Once again the main political parties, somewhat battle weary, join forces to argue Yes. Sinn Fein and Declan Ganley, the maverick federalist, campaign for a No.

Most voters evince no or little knowledge about what the referendum is officially about ‑ the Treaty on Stability, Co-ordination and Governance in the Economic and Monetary Union, or fiscal compact treaty for short. Come polling day, 31 May, many may not vote.

The significance of the Irish referendum seems also to have escaped Ireland’s EU partners.

Pierre Moscovici, France’s new minister of finance, speaks blithely about changing the treaty. The German Bundestag has postponed its own ratification of the treaty from 25 May until after the Greek elections on 17 June. For the moment, the SDP and Greens are happy to play domestic electoral politics with ratification by depriving Chancellor Angela Merkel of the two-thirds majority she needs.

These second thoughts about the treaty in Paris and Berlin are distinctly unhelpful to the Irish Yes cause. Such cavalier treatment of the Irish voter is rightly resented in Ireland.

The rest of Europe should have learned by now that Ireland’s verdict is very important. The opinion polls give the Yes side a lead but, as always in referendums, the gap narrows. What is really at stake?

The fiscal compact treaty was conceived at the December European Council in the teeth of British opposition. It is not, of course, another European Union treaty, but works by explicit analogy with them, respecting EU competences and seeking to deploy EU institutions.

It is an archetypal confederal treaty, committing the governments which sign it to a course of action which, in the event, they may choose not to pursue without formal penalty. The price of confederacy is high moral hazard.

The European Commission may help to implement the fiscal compact treaty, but cannot use its full powers vested under the EU treaties.

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) is enjoined to act at the behest of one member state against another according to Article 273 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU in a dispute “which relates to the subject matter of the [EU] Treaties.”

London 2012 Olympics: Offenders to face ‘instant justice’ under new court plans

Offenders who commit crimes linked to the Olympic Games will face “instant justice” as courts extend their working hours and set up “virtual” hearings to fast-track convictions.

 

Criminals committing offences linked to the Olympics will be dealt with swiftly, the CPS has promised

The Telegraph

The Crown Prosecution Service has vowed to learn the lessons of last summer’s riots to deal with criminals swiftly, ensuring they are charged within hours.

Prosecutors will be on call 24 hours a day to assist, with courts sitting between 8am and 7.30pm, according to plans disclosed by The Times newspaper. The timescale for offences began on May 1 and will run to September 30.

Those alleged to have committed crimes will be assessed under a defined “Olympics offence”, dependent on whether it happened during the Games, at a venue or involved an athlete, spectator or official.

Offenders will also be “beamed” into virtual courts in Camberwell and Bromley using a live video link, to save the time and expense of transporting prisoners and minimise traffic disruption.

Alison Saunders, Chief Crown Prosecutor for London, said: “Many people who come to the Olympics won’t live here, so it is important that if offences are committed we act quickly.

Read Full Article here

 

 

 

Cyprus rejects Zionist-linked reports on Salehi detention

Press TV

Cypriot President Demetris Christofias (R) meeting with Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi in Nicosia, June 26, 2012

Cypriot President Demetris Christofias (R) meeting with Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi in Nicosia, June 26, 2012
Thu Jun 28, 2012 5:56PM GMT
1

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs rejects claims that the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Iran is included on the list of persons banned of entering or exiting Cyprus (Stop List).”

Statement by the Cyprus Ministry of Foreign Affairs

The Cypriot Ministry of Foreign Affairs has dismissed reports by the Zionist-affiliated media that the Iranian Foreign Minister Dr. Ali Akbar Salehi was detained in Cyprus during a recent visit.

In a statement issued on Thursday, the Cypriot Ministry of Foreign Affairs denied that “any problem was created either on his (Dr. Ali Akbar Salehi’s) arrival or departure.”

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs rejects claims that the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Iran is included on the list of persons banned of entering or exiting Cyprus (Stop List),” the statement added.

Citing Cypriot media, the Turkish television channel TRT Turk earlier alleged that the Iranian foreign minister had been detained at the airport of Larnaca in Cyprus on Tuesday.

The false report alleged that Salehi had been detained because his name was on the EU sanctions list, but he had been quickly released.

Cypriot authorities have extended their apologies for the misinformation regarding the senior Iranian official.

The fabricated report is yet another manifestation of the seemingly interminable campaign by Western media, especially those affiliated to the Zionist regime of Israel, aimed at tarnishing the image of Iranian authorities and portraying the Islamic Republic in a negative light.

Salehi departed Tehran for the eastern Mediterranean country on Tuesday to hold talks with Cypriot officials, including President Demetris Christofias, on bilateral ties as well as the recent regional and international developments.

“The visit was successful and in accordance with the agreed program,” the Cypriot Foreign Ministry statement said.

HMV/HJL/IS

Iran rejects reports of Salehi detention as fake

 

Press TV

Cypriot President Demetris Christofias (R) meeting with Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi in Nicosia, June 26, 2012

Cypriot President Demetris Christofias (R) meeting with Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi in Nicosia, June 26, 2012
Thu Jun 28, 2012 1:20PM GMT
3
Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast has rejected reports that the country’s Foreign Minister Dr. Ali Akbar Salehi had been briefly detained in Cyprus.

Citing Cypriot media, the Turkish television channel TRT Turk earlier alleged that the Iranian foreign minister had been detained at the airport of Larnaca in Cyprus on Tuesday.

The false report alleged that Salehi had been detained because his name was on the EU sanctions list, but he had been quickly released.

Cypriot authorities have now extended their apologies for the misinformation regarding the senior Iranian official.

The fabricated report is yet another manifestation of the seemingly interminable campaign by Western media aimed at tarnishing the image of Iranian authorities and portraying the Islamic Republic in a negative light.

Salehi had departed Tehran for the eastern Mediterranean country on Tuesday to hold talks with Cypriot officials, including President Demetris Christofias, on bilateral ties as well as the recent regional and international developments.

HMV/HJL/IS

Report: Police intelligence told to target Israeli Arabs joining social protests

Unlike the directives about Jewish demonstrators, which focus on rioters and anarchists, a directive issued to intelligence officers does not specify which type of Arab demonstrators police should watch out for.

By Ofra Edelman and Roy Arad
HAARETZ
Social protest demonstrators near Habima Square in Tel Aviv

Social protest demonstrators near Habima Square in Tel Aviv. Photo by Alon Ron

Police intelligence officers have been told to collect information about Israeli Arabs who join the social justice protests, Channel 10 reported last night. Police Commissioner Yohanan Danino issued a directive to the police top brass ordering them to document every “involvement of the Arab community in the protests.”

Unlike the directives about Jewish demonstrators, which focus on rioters and anarchists, the section about Arabs does not specify which type of demonstrators police should watch out for, referring only to Arabs in general.

The social protest movement is planning to follow up Thursday’s dissident “Black Night” events with another march in Tel Aviv on Saturday night against government economic policy. Scores of artists, musicians and other performers last night joined in a boycott of the municipality’s annual White Night in a continuation of the protests over police violence against social justice demonstrators.

Marchers will head out from Habima Square for a rally outside the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, where the organizers will present a social economic contract including guidelines for the next state budget. They will call on the government to reduce poverty and inequality, increase the state’s share in the gross domestic product, implement tax reform and strengthen the pension reserves.

Ben-Gurion University Prof. Yossi Yonah, one of the protest leaders’ advisers, and south Tel Aviv activist Itzik Amsalem will be among the rally’s speakers.

 

See Full Article Here

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Economy

 

 

US stocks drop after US top court upholds Obama reforms

 

Press TV

File photo shows traders working in the New York Stock Exchange on June 1, 2012.‎

File photo shows traders working in the New York Stock Exchange on June 1, 2012.‎
Stocks in the United States have dropped sharply following a verdict by the US Supreme Court upholding President Barack Obama’s healthcare reform plan which requires all American citizens to obtain health insurance or face a penalty fine.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average went down to 136 points at 12,491, while the bank stocks were hardest hit as the court ruled that the requirement to have health insurance can be construed as a tax.

JPMorgan Chase shares plunged 4.4 percent following a report indicating that its losses from a mismanaged trade could hit USD 9 billion.

Shares of hospital chains jumped, while stocks of major insurance companies fell sharply. UnitedHealth Group declined 3 percent, WellPoint almost 6 percent and AFLAC 1.5 percent.

In other trading, the Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell 13 points to 1,319 and the Nasdaq composite index fell 40 points to 2,836. On the Nasdaq, eBay shares fell 3.6 percent, Seagate 5.6 percent, Intel 2.2 percent and Microsoft 1.7 percent.

The reforms, officially known as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, were introduced on March 23, 2010, Obama’s first year in the White House.

With a 5-4 decision, the Court’s justices ruled in favor of the reforms on Thursday, saying although the individual mandate was not valid under the US Constitution’s Commerce Clause, it was legal under the US government’s tax powers.

The Court’s ruling is considered a major victory for Obama before the presidential elections in November as the law is intended to spread health insurance coverage to more than 30 million un-insured Americans.

However, the mandate has been severely opposed by 28 Republican-controlled states, as they believe the Obama administration has no right to force people into insurance programs.

TNP/HJL/SS

 

 

 

The Disastrous Consequences of a Euro Crash

Photo Gallery: A Glimpse of the Abyss

Photos
REUTERS

As the debt crisis worsens in Spain and Italy, financial experts are warning of the catastrophic consequences of a crash of the euro: the destruction of trillions in assets and record high unemployment levels, even in Germany. By SPIEGEL Staff

It wasn’t long ago that Mario Draghi was spreading confidence and good cheer. “The worst is over,” the head of the European Central Bank (ECB) told Germany’s Bild newspaper only a few weeks ago. The situation in the euro zone had “stabilized,” Draghi said, and “investor confidence was returning.” And because everything seemed to be on track, Draghi even accepted a Prussian spiked helmet from the reporters. Hurrah.

Last week, however, Europe’s chief monetary watchdog wasn’t looking nearly as happy in photos taken in front of a circle of blue-and-yellow stars inside the Euro Tower, the ECB’s Frankfurt headquarters, where he was congratulating the winners of an international student contest. He smiled, shook hands and handed out certificates. But what he had to tell his listeners no longer sounded optimistic. Instead, Draghi sounded deeply concerned and even displayed a touch of resignation. “You are the first generation that has grown up with the euro and is no longer familiar with the old currencies,” he said. “I hope we won’t experience them again.”The fact that Europe’s top central banker is no longer willing to rule out a return to the old national currencies shows how serious the situation is. Until recently, it was seen as a sign of political correctness to not even consider the possibility of a euro collapse. But now that the currency dispute has escalated in Europe, the inconceivable is becoming conceivable, at all levels of politics and the economy.

Collapse of Currency a ‘Very Likely Scenario’

Investment experts at Deutsche Bank now feel that a collapse of the common currency is “a very likely scenario.” German companies are preparing themselves for the possibility that their business contacts in Madrid and Barcelona could soon be paying with pesetas again. And in Italy, former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is thinking of running a new election campaign, possibly this year, on a return-to-the-lira platform.

Nothing seems impossible anymore, not even a scenario in which all members of the currency zone dust off their old coins and bills — bidding farewell to the euro, and instead welcoming back the guilder, deutsche mark and drachma.

It would be a dream for nationalist politicians, and a nightmare for the economy. Everything that has grown together in two decades of euro history would have to be painstakingly torn apart. Millions of contracts, business relationships and partnerships would have to be reassessed, while thousands of companies would need protection from bankruptcy. All of Europe would plunge into a deep recession. Governments, which would be forced to borrow additional billions to meet their needs, would face the choice between two unattractive options: either to drastically increase taxes or to impose significant financial burdens on their citizens in the form of higher inflation.

A horrific scenario would become a reality, a prospect so frightening that it ought to convince every European leader to seek a consensus as quickly as possible. But there can be no talk of consensus today. On the contrary, as the economic crisis worsens in southern Europe, the fronts between governments are only becoming more rigid.

The Italians and Spaniards want Germany to issue stronger guarantees for their debts. But the Germans are only willing to do so if all euro countries transfer more power to Brussels — steps the southern member states, for their part, don’t want to take.

The Patient Is Getting Worse

The discussion has been going in circles for months, which is why the continent’s debtor countries continue to squander confidence, among both the international financial markets and their citizens. No matter what medicine European politicians prescribe, the patient isn’t getting any better. In fact, it’s only getting worse.

For weeks, investors and experts demanded a solution to the Spanish banking crisis, preferably in the form of a cash infusion from the two Luxembourg-based European bailout funds, the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) and the European Stability Mechanism (ESM). When Madrid finally decided to request what could ultimately amount to almost €100 billion ($125 billion), the experts realized that this would suddenly send Spain’s government debt shooting up from 70 to 80 percent. As a result, interest rates started rising instead of falling.

The experience of the last few days describes the entire dilemma faced by European politicians trying to rescue the euro: A step that was intended to provide relief only exacerbated the problem.

The same thing happened with the next proposal, which made the rounds last week. Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti wanted the European bailout funds to intervene on behalf of Spain and Italy to bring down their borrowing costs.

But that would have required the affected countries to submit to a program of reforms, a path Monti and his Spanish counterpart, Mariano Rajoy, want to avoid. They would prefer to have the money without conditions. But the German government is unwilling to accept this, which puts Europe at its next impasse. Furthermore, the rescue strategists’ resources are limited. Although the Luxembourg bailout funds still have more than €600 billion in uncommitted resources, it is already clear that the money would be used up quickly if what many experts now believe is unavoidable came to pass, namely that not just the Spanish banking industry but in fact the entire country required a bailout. The bailout funds would be completely overtaxed if Italy also needed help.

Even ECB Has Largely Exhausted Resources

Until now, the defenders of the euro have been able to resort to the massive funds of the ECB, if necessary. If things got tight, the monetary watchdogs could inject new money into the market.

But now even the ECB has largely exhausted its resources. It has already bought up so much of the sovereign debt of ailing countries that any additional shopping spree threatens to backfire, causing interest rates to explode instead of fall. At the same time, the conflict between Northern and Southern Europe in the ECB Governing Council is heating up. Last week, the head of Spain’s central bank managed to convince the ECB to ease its rules to allow Spanish banks to use even weaker collateral than before in exchange for borrowing money from the ECB. This could set off a tiff with the central bankers from the donor countries, who are loath to look on as the risks in the central bank’s balance sheet continue to grow.Indeed, the European leaders seeking to save the euro are in a race against the clock. The question is whether the economy in Southern Europe will recover before the euro rescuers’ tools are exhausted, or whether it will be too late by the time the recovery arrives. It’s a question of growth and the economy, but also of character. How willing are the Spaniards and Italians to accept reforms and hardship, and how willing, on the other hand, are the donor countries of the north to provide assistance and make sacrifices?

Not willing enough, say many experts. As a result, the world is imagining the unthinkable: the withdrawal of several Southern European countries from the monetary union, or possibly even the general collapse of the euro zone. It isn’t easy to predict how such a tornado would affect the global economy, but it’s clear that the damage would be immense.

Read Full Article Here

 

 

 

RMB en route to Become World Currency: Expert

    2012-06-27 11:25:58     Xinhua      Web Editor: luodan
Chinese currency Renminbi (RMB) has embarked on a quick internationalization process, and is on the way to become a world payments currency, according to Mark Boleat, Policy Chairman with the City of London Corporation.
Audio
Chinese currency Renminbi (RMB), or yuan, has embarked on a quick internationalization process, and is on the way to become a world payments currency, Mark Boleat, Policy Chairman with the City of London Corporation, said in London on Tuesday.In an interview with Xinhua, Boleat said he expected to see the amount of RMB-denominated trade settlement to further increase in the future.

“The internationalization of the Chinese currency is helping to increase trade and investment flows between China and the rest of the world,” he added.

He noted that China had undergone a number of reforms in its financial system over the last decade, including the introduction of the Qualified Foreign Institutional Investor scheme (QFII), and the Qualified Domestic Institutional Investor scheme (QDII) to allow capital flows.

“These sorts of reforms, alongside work to increase international use of the RMB, are important for the development of the Chinese financial system,” he said.

According to a report from the City of London Corporation on Monday, European corporate and institutional investors interested in China welcomed the availability of RMB products and services in London, highlighting benefits of adopting the RMB in cross-border trade settlements with China.

However, commenting on the possibilities for RMB to become a reserve currency internationally, Boleat said it could take a long time.

The RMB may well ultimately become a major global currency on par with the U.S. dollar and the euro, Boleat said. But right now, the focus should be put on increasing the use of the RMB in trade, and on building on Hong Kong’s success in developing RMB investment products.

“This is a big job in itself – becoming a reserve currency could only come when RMB has become an internationally used trade and investment currency.”

Boleat will leave on Tuesday for a seven-day visit in China, during which he will attend a meeting held by the Shanghai International Financial Advisory Council, and is scheduled to speak at the high-profile Lujiazui Forum on RMB internationalization, and on globalisation of the Chinese financial system.

Boleat described the visit to China as an important opportunity for the City of London to engage with key Chinese decision makers and businesses.

“Enhancing the financial sector links between the UK and China, supporting the international usage of the RMB for trade and investment, and promoting London’s role as a western hub for the international RMB market are all priorities of my visit and the City of London’s work with China in the long term.”

Cyprus becomes fifth eurozone country to seek bailout

EUobserver.com

BRUSSELS – Cyprus on Monday (25 June) became the fifth euro country to ask for help from the zone’s bailout funds, hours after Spain formalised its request for a bank rescue.

“I welcome the formal application for financial assistance that I have received today from the Cypriot authorities,” Eurogroup chief Jean-Claude Juncker said in a statement, adding that the eurozone finance ministers he presides over will respond “swiftly.”

A “necessary policy conditionality” accompanying the bailout – meaning a reform plan – will be drafted by the EU commission and the European Central Bank.

“This will include measures that will address the main challenges of Cyprus’ economy, primarily those of the financial sector and I expect that Cyprus will engage with strong determination in the required policy actions,” he noted.

Earlier that day, Cyprus suffered another downgrade by Fitch ratings agency, which slashed its rating to BB+ – a “junk” category meaning investors need to take extra risk insurance against a possible Cypriot default.

It remains unclear whether it will be a full-blown bailout, as was the case for Ireland, Portugal and Greece, or limited to the banking sector, as with Spain.

The amount has not been specified either, but EU officials quoted by Reuters say it may be around €10 billion.

The Cypriot banking system has been severely hit by the Greek crisis and the associated debt-restructuring deal.

The tiny country has just four days to raise at least €1.8 billion – equivalent to about 10 percent of its domestic output – to meet an EU deadline in recapitalising Cyprus Popular Bank. The island’s second largest lender saw its balance sheet swamped by bad Greek debt.

Cyprus had earlier angled for a bilateral loan from Russia, with which it has close economic ties.

Last year it received €2.5 billion loan from Moscow following an act of negligence, when 13 people were killed and almost a seventh of the country’s GDP was wiped out in an explosion that destroyed the country’s main power plant.

Spanish troubles

Meanwhile, Spain was the first country to ask for a partial bail-out from the eurozone bail-out funds, a novelty under the funds’ new rules allowing for sectoral bail-outs.

But in the two weeks that passed since it first announced its intention to seek up to €100 billion in aid, Spain has seen its borrowing costs go above the seven-percent threshold considered bail-out territory.

This has fed speculation the Spanish state itself will need to be bailed out.

Adding to the problems, Moody’s ratings agency on Monday downgraded by one to four notches 28 of Spain’s 33 rated banks. The move comes after all three big ratings agencies slashed Spain’s sovereign rating close to “junk.”

At a summit on Thursday, EU leaders are set to look at ways of cutting the link between banks and government debt.

Many Spanish banks having amassed Spanish bonds on their books, while the government itself is dependent on the banks to lower its borrowing costs. But Germany so far has been opposing these moves.

Debt crisis: Angela Merkel dismisses Spain and Italy’s pleas for aid

Pleas from Spain and Italy for urgent financial aid from the eurozone to bring down borrowing costs were dismissed by Angela Merkel as divisions hardened on the eve of a critical summit.

Pleas from Spain and Italy for urgent financial aid from the eurozone to bring down borrowing costs were dismissed by Angela Merkel as divisions hardened on the eve of a critical summit.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel addresses the Bundestag, the lower house of parliament in Berlin on Wednesday. Before flying last night to Paris for emergency talks with Francois Hollande, the French President, Mrs Merkel told German MPs that instead of more cash the eurozone needed to step up debt reduction and economic reforms. Photo: AFP

By , in Brussels

Germany’s Chancellor angrily rejected desperate pleading by Italy and Spain as a Franco-German rift over eurozone debt sharing threatened to unravel efforts to find a fix for the single currency at a meeting of European leaders on Thursday.

Before flying last night to Paris for emergency talks with Francois Hollande, the French President, Mrs Merkel told German MPs that instead of more cash the eurozone needed to step up debt reduction and economic reforms.

“I fear that at the summit we will talk too much about all these ideas for joint liability and too little about improved controls and structural measures,” she said.

Mariano Rajoy, the Spanish Prime Minister, said he would plead with other leaders to allow euro bail-out funds or the European Central Bank to stabilise financial markets by helping to reduce borrowing costs, running at nearly 7pc for Spain.

“We can’t keep funding ourselves for a long time at the prices we’re currently funding ourselves,” he said. “There are institutions and also financial entities that cannot access the markets. It is happening in Spain, it is happening in Italy and it is happening in other countries.”

Read Full Article Here

 

 

Interest rate was rigged by Barclays

Mortgage holders, credit card users and small businesses may have been charged too much for their loans after one of Britain’s biggest banks admitted systematically rigging financial markets.

The Telegraph

Interest rate was rigged by Barclays

Bob Diamond, the Barclays chief executive, said he will give up his multi-million-pound bonus over the scandal but faced calls to resign Photo: REUTERS

Barclays was fined a record £290 million for repeatedly distorting basic financial data which are used to set interest rates on millions of loans and other transactions around the world.

Bob Diamond, the Barclays chief executive, said he will give up his multi-million-pound bonus over the scandal but faced calls to resign amid claims that his bank’s actions posed a threat to the global market system.

As MPs suggested that a criminal inquiry should be held, financial regulators warned that other major British banks may also have been involved in attempts to manipulate data about interest rates. Up to 40 global banks face being named and shamed as part of the investigation.

The scandal relates to the London Interbank Offered Rate (Libor), the interest rate that banks pay on money they borrow from one another.

The Libor rate is one of the basic pieces of information on which trillions of pounds of financial transactions are based. It helps determine the interest rate that is applied to loans, including some mortgages, credit cards and business loans.

Read Full Article Here

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Wars and Rumors of War

 

 

 

Saudi military on state of high alert on king’s order

 

Press TV

Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud has ordered the country’s security forces to go on a state of high alert due to what he calls a ‘turbulent situation’ in the region.

King Abdullah issued the order in a “top secret” letter addressed to the kingdom’s security and intelligence chiefs as well as the ministers of defense and interior.

A copy of the letter, dated June 27, 2012, has been obtained by Press TV.

The decree, calling for preparation against “foreign or terrorist attacks,” warns the Saudi security forces against any negligence in following the order.

The Saudi Defense Ministry consequently put all armed forces on high alert, saying all the forces inside and outside of the kingdom were ready to take part in an operation dubbed as “al-Farouq.”

Saudi Arabia has witnessed anti-regime demonstrations over the past months.

Since February 2011, Saudi protesters have held demonstrations on an almost regular basis in the oil-rich Eastern Province, mainly in the Qatif region and the town of Awamiyah, calling for the release of all political prisoners, freedom of expression and assembly, and an end to widespread discrimination.

However, the demonstrations have turned into protests against the Al Saud regime, especially since November 2011, when Saudi security forces killed five protesters and injured many others in Eastern Province.

According to Human Rights Watch, the Saudi regime “routinely represses expression critical of the government.”

HSN/MA/MRS/HJL/IS

Armed rebels abduct 14 Palestinian Liberation Army members in Syria

 

Press TV

File photo shows anti-government gangs in Qusayr, 15 km from the ‎western Syrian city of Homs.‎

File photo shows anti-government gangs in Qusayr, 15 km from the ‎western Syrian city of Homs.‎
Fourteen members of the Palestine Liberation Army (PLA) have been kidnapped in northern Syria by anti-government armed groups.

The incident occurred on Thursday in the city of Aleppo, where gunmen seized and took away the PLA members at gunpoint.

There were not immediately any reports about the destination the kidnapped men where transported to.

The PLA, considered as the military wing of the Palestine Liberation Organization, was established at the 1964 Arab League summit in Alexandria, with the mission of countering the Israel regime.

Syria has always been deemed as in the frontline of the anti-Israeli resistance and has been praised by Palestinians and the Lebanese for its unflagging support for the resistance in the passage of years.

The country has been plagued by more than a year of rampant violence and bloodshed, which Damascus blames on terrorist elements funded and masterminded from abroad.

In May, Syrian militants abducted 13 Lebanese nationals near the town of Aazaz, which is on the border with Turkey.

The Lebanese were returning to Lebanon after visiting Shia shrines in Iran when the militants reportedly hijacked their bus, then kidnapped the men onboard the vehicle.

MRS/HJL/SS/IS

Iran nabs all Israeli-linked terrorists in nuclear assassinations

 

Press TV

People carry the coffin of Iranian nuclear scientist Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan during his funeral after the Friday prayers outside Tehran University, Iran, January 13, 2012.

People carry the coffin of Iranian nuclear scientist Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan during his funeral after the Friday prayers outside Tehran University, Iran, January 13, 2012.

All the elements involved in the assassinations of the country’s nuclear scientists have been identified and arrested.”

Statement by Iran’s Intelligence Ministry

Iran’s Intelligence Ministry says all the Israeli-linked elements behind the assassinations of Iranian nuclear scientists have been apprehended.

“All the elements involved in the assassinations of the country’s nuclear scientists have been identified and arrested,” Iran’s Intelligence Ministry announced in a Thursday statement.

The ministry pointed to the continuation of extensive investigations both domestically and abroad which have led to the identification and arrest of all elements of the terrorist cell.

A number of countries, whose territories and facilities had been misused by the Mossad-backed terrorist teams, have provided the Iranian officials with relevant information, the statement read.

Over the course of the investigations, all other elements behind the assassinations of the Iranian scientists Massoud Ali-Mohammadi, Majid Shahriari and Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan as well as Reza Qashqaei (Roshan’s driver) have been apprehended, the statement read.

Some of the perpetrators of the assassination of Dr. Fereydoun Abbasi, the current head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, are among those arrested, the ministry added.

On May 15, Majid Jamali Fashi, who assassinated Dr. Ali-Mohammadi in January 2011, was executed under the Iranian judicial system.

Later in mid-June, the Intelligence Ministry announced the capture of the main elements of the assassination of Shahriari, Roshan and Qashqaei.

Roshan and his driver (Qashqaei) were assassinated in January 2012 after an unknown motorcyclist attached a magnet bomb to their car in Tehran.

On November 29, 2010, Professor Majid Shahriari and Dr. Fereydoun Abbasi were targeted by terrorist attacks; Shahriari was killed immediately and Dr. Abbasi sustained injuries.

According to the Thursday statement, Iran’s Intelligence Ministry has detected some of Mossad’s bases within the territories of one of Iran’s Western neighbors, which provided training and logistic support to the terrorist networks.

The investigations established that, apart from the assassination of the nuclear scientists, the members of the cells had received instructions from Mossad to carry out a number of terrorist attacks and acts of sabotage in public places inside Iran, the Intelligence Ministry said.

The announcement pointed out that the arrested individuals have also confessed to receiving all-out support from Western intelligence services, particularly the CIA and MI6.

The ministry says it will release more information on the issue in the upcoming days.

ASH/HJL/IS

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Articles of Interest

Transition Towns: Agenda 21 Comes to Life

Susanne Posel, Contributor

Activist Post

Transition towns are a movement modeled after the UN’s Agenda 21 to create communities that adhere to initiatives that center around reducing CO2 emissions.

Under the alarmist perspective of man-made climate change, founders Rob Hopkins and Naresh Giangrande created the Transition Model based on studies conducted by Ben Brangwyn on global relocalization agendas.

At an initial Transition Bristol meeting in the UK, the Tudor Trust began funding this initiative. This led to the creation of the Transition Initiatives Primer, an explanatory guide to the scheme and fake grassroots groups who coerced communities into adopting the plan.

Transition Initiatives were created in Australia, Canada, England, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Scotland, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, USA, and Wales. Training courses have been developed to ensure that this ideal becomes a global movement.

Issues under Transition Initiatives governance are food production, manipulation techniques in dealing with local governments, sustainable housing, reduction of public energy consumption, adaptation of communities to resemble transition cities and control over local economies.

A propaganda film entitled In Transition 1.0 was produced with the global audience in mind, giving more credence to this UN takeover of our local communities.

Groups like the West Coast Environmental Law (WCEL) have been pushing for Transition Towns for several years. In British Columbia alone, they have begun to take root in Victoria, Vancouver, Nelson, Salt Spring, Powell River and the Cowichan Valley.

The Green CommunitiesProgram has helped spread the propaganda of SmartGrowth ideology through SmartGrowth BCand the SmartGrowth Bylaws Guide a marketing tract on British Columbia bylaws that support UN Agenda 21.

The dangers that Transition Towns impose on our sovereignty and individuality are:

  • Refocus town planning and infrastructure on implementation of Agneda 21.
  • Appear to be grassroots operations.
  • Promote the Peak Oil mythology as an energy scare-tactic.
  • Support SmarthGrowth which is code for Agenda 21.
  • Aspire to control framing, disburse ability to farm, and pressure governmental policies on farming that reflect Agenda 21.
  • Use the hoax of man-made climate change as the purpose for imposing policy control by building cities that are designed to reduce carbon emissions.
  • Securitize local food stores, businesses, healthcare and fuel.
  • Ensure SmarthGrowth controls all citizens ability to acquire any needs for human survival.
  • Create internal advocacies that band together to purvey Transition Town propaganda to elected officials and local governments.

By working on the ground level, Transition Towns can take over states and nations quicker than funneling through the bureaucracy of national governments.

To anticipate any problems, this movement has secured a legion of lawyers to be hired at the whim of the Environmental Dispute Resolution Fund, a WCEL “society” developed to infuse the court system with legal disputes to intimidate lawmakers into submitting to their “suggestions”. They impose “identifying structures and rules that encourage . . . favored strategies” as defined by the Transition Town movement.

Read Full Article

In Transition 1.0 from Transition Towns on Vimeo.

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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.]

Environmental

BP Coverup, Coverup

Bio

Greg Palast is a BBC investigative reporter and author of Vultures’ Picnic. Palast turned his skills to journalism after two decades as a top investigator of corporate fraud. Palast directed the U.S. governmentʼs largest racketeering case in history– winning a $4.3 billion jury award. He also conducted the investigation of fraud charges in the Exxon Valdez grounding.

Transcript

PAUL JAY, SENIOR EDITOR, TRNN: Welcome to The Real News Network. I’m Paul Jay in Washington.

The BP gulf oil disaster has been the subject of a lot of examination, and recent examination shows that there’s more of a coverup then perhaps we have known. One of the people who’s done a lot of work on this is investigative journalist Greg Palast. And he now joins us from New York City. Greg’s a BBC investigative reporter, author of Vultures’ Picnic, and author of The Best Democracy Money Can Buy and Armed Madhouse and many other pieces of investigative work. Thanks very much for joining us, Greg.GREG PALAST, JOURNALIST AND AUTHOR: Glad to be with you, Paul.JAY: So, first of all, what is the—I mean, people know the basic story of what happened, but what is the real essence of the coverup here?PALAST: Yeah, they don’t know the real story, not in the U.S. press. For British television, I investigated what really happened. Actually, right after Deepwater Horizon exploded on April 20, 2010, I get a message from a witness, an insider from the Caspian Sea, which is, you know, the other side of the planet, in Asia, saying, I know exactly what happened here, ’cause the exact same thing happened in the Caspian Sea two years earlier: there was another BP rig—another BP rig blew out, just like the Deepwater Horizon. And BP covered it up. BP hid it because it occurred offshore off the nation of Azerbaijan, which is what I call—in my book Vulture’s Picnic I call it the Islamic Republic of BP. They own that place. They bought it—bribery.JAY: Now, the point here is that the cause of the Caspian Sea blowout, you’re saying, is essentially the same as what happened in the Gulf.

Read Full Transcripts Here

Dutch inventor cleans up water treatment

Published on May 22, 2012 by

http://www.euronews.com/ Water, water everywhere… but most of it is not fit to drink. Around one billion people do not have access to clean water.

Untreated or undertreated sewage not only threatens our health but contaminates water sources and the oceans.

The main sources of pollution are high amounts of nitrates and phosphates from wastewater and agricultural run-off.

Dutch scientists have developed a new water purification technology. The plant, in Epe in the Netherlands, has a new and innovative sewage treatment system.


Government tyranny: Illinois Department of Agriculture secretly destroys beekeeper’s bees and 15 years of research proving Monsanto’s Roundup kills bees

By Jonathan Benson,
(NaturalNews) An Illinois beekeeper with more than a decade’s worth of expertise about how to successfully raise organic, chemical-free bees is the latest victim of flagrant government tyranny. According to the Prairie Advocate, Terrence “Terry” Ingram of Apple River, Ill., owner of Apple Creek Apiaries, recently had his bees and beehives stolen from him by the Illinois Department of Agriculture (IDofA), as well as more than 15 years’ worth of research proving Monsanto’s Roundup to be the cause of…

Big Ag, Monsanto take over research universities and turn them into pro-industry propaganda machines

By Jonathan Benson, 
(NaturalNews) Back in the old days before food and agricultural corporations consolidated into the behemoths we know them as today, agricultural institutions of higher learning were dedicated to conducting unbiased research into cutting-edge food production and crop systems that benefited society as a whole. But today, these former “land-grant” universities have largely mutated into pro-industry, propaganda machines funded and controlled by corporate agro-giants like Monsanto that steer research…

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Cyber Space

~Anonymous ~ Message To NATO~

Published on May 22, 2012 by

~In Peace Only~Not War~

NATO ~ N[ot] A[ble] T[o] O[rcherstrate] war Any Longer…
NATO’s day’s are numbered…
As people do not fear them any longer…
From now on, NATO is the one with the fear…

Secrecy is outdated tool, that Wiki Leaks and Anonymous put out of service…
As We the People simply realized that Governments and Military cannot be above the Law…
Where Actions of People are Now becoming actions of People’s Governments…
Where Anonymous and WikiLeaks are truth with no disguise…
Where Total transparency is here for all to see…

Nothing Illegal, Nothing to worry….
Who is hiding his dirty underwear?…
People or Military and Governments?…
When Transparency become standard, fear become obsolete tool of control any longer…

Rather to try to defeat our Freedom Movement, you can simply Accept US…
Accept US AS FREE…
Join US to become FREE…
Simply because We the People NOW Know…
Truth is here…
We are FREE…

We are Legion…
We are Legion of Truth…
We are Legion of Freedom…

Do not need to expect US any Longer…
Because we are HERE and NOW…
Because We the People who KNOW…

http://soundofheart.org/galacticfreepress/content/freedom-project-anonymous-m…

Hackers hit US Justice Department, again

 

The US Justice Department has acknowledged an intrusion into its computer network

 

The US Justice Department has acknowledged an intrusion in its computer network as the notorious hacker collective Anonymous claimed to have obtained large amounts of data from it.

The US Justice Department acknowledged an intrusion in its computer network as the notorious hacker collective Anonymous claimed to have obtained large amounts of data from it.

SIEM for Cybersecurity – Learn Top Down Strategies to Help Protect Your Corporate Network. – Q1Labs.com/5_Step_Breach_Protection

“The department is looking into the unauthorized access of a website server operated by the Bureau of Justice Statistics that contained data from their public website,” a statement sent to AFP said.

“The Bureau of Justice Statistics website has remained operational throughout this time. The department’s main website, justice.gov, was not affected.”

The statement said the agency “is continuing protection and defensive measures to safeguard information” and will open a into any activity that appears illegal.

Earlier in the day a Twitter message and blog post believed to be from the hacker collective claimed to have obtained large amounts of data from the Justice Department site that it was releasing.

The message said the hackers were releasing “1.7GB of data that used to belong to the United States Bureau of Justice, until now.”

Anonymous hackers briefly shut the US Justice Department website earlier this year
Enlarge

File photo of a masked member of the Anonymous hacker group. A Twitter message and blog post believed to be from the hacker collective has claimed to have obtained large amounts of data from the Justice Department site that it was releasing.

“Within the booty you may find lots of shiny things such as internal emails, and the entire database dump,” said the post by a using the name Jimmy89.

“We do not stand for any government or parties, we stand for freedom of people, and freedom of information. We are releasing data to spread information, to allow the people to be heard and to know the corruption in their government. We are releasing it to end the corruption that exists, and truly make those who are being oppressed free.”

The group, which is believed to be a loosely affiliated network of “hacktivists,” briefly shut the Justice Department website earlier this year after the file-sharing website was seized.

It has attacked sites of groups as varied as MasterCard and Visa, and the Tunisian and Yemen governments.

(c) 2012 AFP

Utah breach 10X worse than originally thought

SSNs on 280K exposed; names, birth dates of another 500K compromised

 By Jaikumar Vijayan

Click here to find out more!

April 09, 2012 — Computerworld — The scope of a data breach involving a Medicaid server at the Utah Department of Health is much worse than originally thought. State officials now say that close to 280,000 Social Security Numbers may have been exposed in the incident instead of 25,000, as originally believed.

Less sensitive personal data such as names, birth dates and addresses of another 500,000 people may have also been compromised in the breach, state officials said today.

Today’s announcement marks the second time in three days that Utah state officials have upped their estimates of a March 30 intrusion into a server containing Medicaid claims data on Utah residents.

According to the Utah Department of Technology Services (DTS) and the Utah Department of Health (UDOH), the breach stemmed from a configuration error at the user authentication layer. The error allowed attackers, believed to be operating out of Eastern Europe, to bypass the network, perimeter and application level security controls that were in place to protect the server.

Initially, state officials said the intrusion had allowed improper access to about 24,000 claims records. Each record could include Social Security Numbers, names, birth dates, addresses, tax identification numbers and treatment codes.

Read Full Article Here

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Survival / Sustainability

SHTF Communications Part I and II

Uploaded by on Nov 27, 2011

Can you hear me now?
SHTF communications is an important topic that I will touch upon briefly in this video. This is my selection for the bulk of my communications during SHTF. I encourage everyone to have a plan and take action.

http://foxtango.org/ft101/foxtangoft101.htm
Yeasu FT101E and Yaesu FT101F
YO100
YC-601 & YC-601B
FL-2100
QTR-24
FTV-250 and FTV-650B
YD-844
Phone Patch and Speaker
MFJ Antenna Tuner and AC/DC Converter

Links to get started in HAM Radio:
http://www.arrl.org/new-to-ham-radio
http://www.qrz.com/
http://www.hamwhisperer.com/
http://www.amazon.com/Ham-Radio-License-Manual-Arrl/dp/0872590976/ref=pd_sim_b_6
http://www.eham.net/exams/
http://www.wouxun.us (or other radio suppliers) http://www.yaesu.com/
(Radio Equipment) http://www.mfjenterprises.com/

Benefits Of 550 Paracord In The Wild

Uploaded by on Sep 15, 2008

Rope has so many uses in the outdoors. Some cord is better for survival than others. Military 550 cord tops them all in my opinion. This video will show and explain why. It’s versitile, light weight, extremely durable, strong(550lbs.), and the interior threads can be taken out and used for smaller tasks. For Survival it’s your best choice. Also good for camping, hiking, backpacking, hunting, and even general everyday use.

  First Aid Kit

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Activism

Sea Shepherd Founder Paul Watson Fights Extradition to Costa Rica for 2002 Shark Defense

Published on May 22, 2012 by

DemocracyNow.org – Captain Paul Watson, founder of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, has been released on bail in Germany following his arrest for possible extradition to Costa Rica on decade-old charges stemming from a confrontation between a Sea Shepherd vessel with shark fin poachers off the coast of Guatemala. Sea Shepherd is known for using nonviolent direct action to enforce international fishing and conservation laws, and has been highly recognized for its anti-whaling efforts. Sea Shepherd continues to maintain that Watson’s arrest was politically motivated and is calling on its supporters to come together in a day of action on Wednesday when the Costa Rican President Laura Chinchilla visits Germany. Watson joins us from Frankfurt. “We’ve never injured anybody,” Watson says. “The most powerful weapon in the world as far as I’m concerned is the camera, so we go into battle armed with cameras. … Right now 19 million sharks a year are being destroyed to feed the shark fin industry in Asia. And that means the fins are cut off of these animals and they’re thrown back into the ocean, and this is what we filmed off of Guatemala and this is what we intervened against — a highly illegal operation.”

To watch the complete daily, independent news hour, read the transcript, download the podcast, and for more information, visit http://www.democracynow.org/

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Articles of Interest

Three out of four Americans want to end medical marijuana raids

By Jonathan Benson, 
(NaturalNews) The federal government’s continued “War on Drugs” is no longer getting a warm reception from the vast majority of Americans. A recent poll conducted by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research (MDPR) reveals that three out of every four Americans now oppose needless federal prosecution of medical marijuana dispensaries, growers, sellers and users in states where medical marijuana has been legalized. The poll included 1,000 individuals of varying ages and demographics from all across the country…

EU food agency rejects France ban on Monsanto GM maize

 

Europe’s food safety agency EFSA on Monday rejected the grounds for a temporary French ban on a genetically modified strain of maize made by US company Monsanto.

Facts About Pink Slime – Learn What Scientists And Consumer Advocates Say About Pink Slime – www.BeefIsBeef.com

“Based on the documentation submitted by France, there is no specific scientific evidence, in terms of risk to human and animal health or the environment,” EFSA said in a scientific opinion issued on its website.

A spokesman for Europe’s health commissioner John Dalli said the EU executive “will consider how to follow up on this ruling, though technically we could ask France to raise its ban” on MON 810.

“The commission will wait for the conclusions of the next environment ministers’ meeting June 11 in Luxembourg and hopes for a positive outcome to its proposals for cultivation, which have been blocked for almost two years by France and others,” spokesman Frederic Vincent told AFP.

Paris had asked Brussels in February to suspend the cultivation of MON 810 on the basis of new scientific evidence after France’s top administrative court in November overturned a government order banning the planting of genetically modified crops from Monsanto.

The court said that in a November 2008 ban, the government had failed to prove that Monsanto crops “present a particularly elevated level of risk to either or the environment”.

Monsanto markets MON 810 maize — which has been modified at a to include DNA from a bacteria — under the trade name YieldGuard as being resistant to that can threaten .

But some governments believe it could pose a danger to .

France in February pointed to a recent study by EFSA that raised concerns over another form of GM crop, BT11, that it said could also be applied to MON 810.

The European Commission at the time requested EFSA’s opinion on France’s request, but said it would not take any steps in the meantime.

Monsanto said in January that it had no intention of selling in France as it felt the market was not ready.

(c) 2012 AFP

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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

IAEA reports progress in Iran nuclear talks

Published on May 22, 2012 by

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and Iran could soon sign a deal on the UN agency investigating suspected weapons activities connected to the country’s nuclear programme.

Yukiya Amano, the head of the UN nuclear watchdog, said on Tuesday that he reached an agreement with Iran’s government after talks in Tehran, but failed to seal the deal because of “remaining, unspecified differences”.

Al Jazeera’s Imran Khan reports from Tehran, Iran.

China opposes U.S. lawmakers’ push to sell F-16 jets to Taiwan

BEIJING, May 21 (Xinhua) — China on Monday voiced its opposition to a defense spending bill passed last week by the U.S. House of Representatives that pushed for sales of F-16 jets to Taiwan.

“We have taken note of the bill,” said Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei at a news briefing, adding that China firmly opposes U.S. lawmakers’ exaggeration of China’s military development and push for arms sales to Taiwan.

The House of Representatives voted Friday to require the United States to sell F-16 C/D fighter-jets to Taiwan.

“China sticks to the path of peaceful development,” said the spokesman, adding it is baseless and irresponsible for anyone to play up the “China threat theory.”

“To push for weapons sales to Taiwan severely violates the one-China policy and the three joint communiques between China and the United States, which severely interferes with China’s internal affairs,” Hong said.

During the briefing, Hong urged “some U.S. lawmakers” to get rid of their Cold War mentality and stop pushing for arms sales to Taiwan and all wrongdoings of interfering with China’s internal affairs.

“(They should) do more to help China-U.S. relations and the mutual trust between the two nations, not the contrary,” he added.

EU food agency rejects France ban on Monsanto GM maize

 

Europe’s food safety agency EFSA on Monday rejected the grounds for a temporary French ban on a genetically modified strain of maize made by US company Monsanto.

Facts About Pink Slime – Learn What Scientists And Consumer Advocates Say About Pink Slime – www.BeefIsBeef.com

“Based on the documentation submitted by France, there is no specific scientific evidence, in terms of risk to human and animal health or the environment,” EFSA said in a scientific opinion issued on its website.

A spokesman for Europe’s health commissioner John Dalli said the EU executive “will consider how to follow up on this ruling, though technically we could ask France to raise its ban” on MON 810.

“The commission will wait for the conclusions of the next environment ministers’ meeting June 11 in Luxembourg and hopes for a positive outcome to its proposals for cultivation, which have been blocked for almost two years by France and others,” spokesman Frederic Vincent told AFP.

Paris had asked Brussels in February to suspend the cultivation of MON 810 on the basis of new scientific evidence after France’s top administrative court in November overturned a government order banning the planting of genetically modified crops from Monsanto.

The court said that in a November 2008 ban, the government had failed to prove that Monsanto crops “present a particularly elevated level of risk to either or the environment”.

Monsanto markets MON 810 maize — which has been modified at a to include DNA from a bacteria — under the trade name YieldGuard as being resistant to that can threaten .

But some governments believe it could pose a danger to .

France in February pointed to a recent study by EFSA that raised concerns over another form of GM crop, BT11, that it said could also be applied to MON 810.

The European Commission at the time requested EFSA’s opinion on France’s request, but said it would not take any steps in the meantime.

Monsanto said in January that it had no intention of selling in France as it felt the market was not ready.

(c) 2012 AFP

 

 

9/11 ‘truther’ leading Egyptian presidential race

By Ben Birnbaum

The Washington Times

 

  • Egyptian presidential candidate, Abdel-Moneim Abolfotoh, waves to his supporters in front of Egyptian presidency logo " falcon" during television interview at MISR University for Science and Technology in Cairo, Egypt, Sunday, May 20, 2012. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil) 

    Egyptian presidential candidate, Abdel-Moneim Abolfotoh, waves to his supporters in front of Egyptian presidency logo ” falcon” during television interview at MISR University for Science and Technology in Cairo, Egypt, Sunday, May 20, 2012. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)

An Islamist who believes that the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States were an American conspiracy is the front-runner in Egypt’s presidential race, a new poll shows.

Abdel-Moneim Abolfotoh, formerly a leading figure in the Muslim Brotherhood, led the field of 13 candidates with 32 percent of the vote in a survey released Monday by the Washington-based Brookings Institution.

Mr. Abolfotoh expressed his views on the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon in an interview last year with Egypt scholar Eric Trager.

Mr. Trager, now with the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, quoted Mr. Abolfotoh as saying:

“It was too big an operation …. They [the United States] didn’t bring this crime before the U.S. justice system until now. Why? Because it’s part of a conspiracy.”

Egyptians will vote Wednesday and Thursday in their first presidential election since the toppling of Hosni Mubarak last year. If none of the candidates wins a majority, the two top vote-getters will compete in a runoff next month.

 

Read Full Article Here

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Economy

China’s Wanda To Buy Biggest US Theater Operator AMC For 2.6 Billion

Published on May 22, 2012 by

Chinese conglomerate Dalian Wanda Group has agreed to buy AMC Entertainment for 2.6 billion dollars (USD), including debt, making it the biggest theater operator in the United States.

The deal, the largest overseas acquisition by a privately held Chinese company, reflects the warming ties between the U.S. and Chinese movie industries after China agreed in February to open its cinemas to more American films.

The purchase will mark Wanda’s first investment outside of China and its first foray into the United States and Canada, the world’s biggest film market with ticket sales of more than 10 billion.

Lucas Shaw, a media reporter for the online entertainment site, The Wrap described this purchase as giving the Dalian Wanda conglomerate a lot more power in the U.S. market.

“It is already a huge theater owner in China, but in the U.S. market, by acquiring the second biggest, it gives them a foothold in these two different markets. China has rapidly become the second biggest box office market behind the U.S., still far behind the U.S., but still the second biggest. So, it gives them a lot of negotiating power with the studios and distributors, as the biggest exhibitor in the world.”

Wanda, which has interests in commercial properties, luxury hotels, tourism and department stores, holds 35 billion in assets, with annual revenue reaching 16.7 billion.
Shaw expects Wanda to provide a cash infusion into the existing AMC theaters in an effort to provide consumers with a better theater experience.

“The key to all this is to make sure that consumers have a reason to leave there home to watch movies,” said Shaw, adding that he doesn’t believe ticket prices should be impacted. “With all the different offerings you have at home, whether it is on-demand, netflicks there is a growing reluctance by the consumer to go out and pay 12 or 15 dollars to see a movie. Theaters need to do everything they can to keep them coming.”
The deal also highlights the rising partnership between China and Hollywood.

“The speed is somewhat surprising,” said Shaw. “In the last year or two, you have seem a number of large co-productions, investments, Disney is opening a large theme park in China, there is a large production facility opening in China. But, I don’t think it is surprising if you look at the trend at the box office where overseas in worth way more than domestic.”

AMC’s management team at its Kansas City, Missouri headquarters and the company’s 18,500 employees will not be affected by the deal. The movie chain is owned by an investment group that includes Bain Capital, CCMP Capital Advisors and Spectrum Equity Capital.

China ‘targets infrastructure to lift economy’

Published on May 22, 2012 by

http://www.euronews.com/ China is reportedly to speed up approvals for spending on infrastructure in response to a slowdown in the economy.

A state-backed newspaper says the government has asked for project proposals by the end of June, even for those initially due for the end of the year.

China is heading for a sixth straight quarter of slowing growth and investment in roads, bridges and property is at its weakest in nearly a decade.

Citing government sources, the newspaper article in China Securities Journal, said Beijing did not rule out bringing forward next year’s projects, if it thought more investments would be needed to stimulate the economy.

The newspaper also cited media reports saying the central government will speed up budget allocations to various construction projects, including highway construction.

News of Beijing’s latest efforts to bolster growth lifted stock markets. Australian shares rose 1.2 percent and Britain’s FTSE 100 gained as investors bought mining companies on the prospects of more sales to China.

Chinese infrastructure stocks outperformed, while benchmark copper prices rose to a one-week high.

The five top movers on the China Enterprises Index of Chinese companies listed in Hong Kong were all infrastructure related; China Communications Construction, China Railway Construction Group, China Railway Group, Anhui Conch Cement and Zoomlion Heavy Industry.

UK inflation eases

Published on May 22, 2012 by

http://www.euronews.com/ Annual inflation in Britain fell to its lowest in more than two years in April. It dropped to 3.0 percent from March’s 3.5 percent.

That makes it more likely the UK central bank will be able to introduce extra stimulus – that is essentially printing more money – to support the economy.

Core inflation, which excludes food and fuel costs, fell to 2.1 percent, the lowest since November 2009.

Economists had been expecting a sizeable fall in inflation due to a spike in some prices in April 2011 not being repeated this year.

The Office for National Statistics said the fall was driven by lower inflation for air and sea transport, clothing and alcohol.

Inflation has now been above the Bank of England’s 2.0 percent target for almost two and a half years and Tuesday’s data come a week after the central bank’s economists predicted it would say there for at least another year before falling to 1.6 percent by mid-2014.

Until April, British inflation had fallen more slowly than the BoE expected this year – a factor which many economists said lay behind its decision not to expand its 325 billion pound quantitative easing programme this month, despite the UK economy having fallen back into recession.

Eurozone crisis ‘threat’ to global economy

Published on May 22, 2012 by

The eurozone financial crisis could threaten the global economy, according to Organisation for Economic Development and Co-operation.

The 17-nation eurozone will see its economies shrink by 0.1 per cent, before rebounding to 0.9 per cent next year, the Paris-based organisation said in its latest report released on Tuesday.

Nick Spicer reports from Berlin.

 

 

As critics lay siege to Facebook, Zuckerberg is MIA

Mark Zuckerberg had a high profile as  Facebook’s IPO began on Friday. Since then he’s been hard to find.

By Matthew J. Belvedere, CNBC.com

Aside from the weekend wedding pic, the last time investors saw the social network icon was on Friday morning — just before the rocky debut of his company’s stock. Zuckerberg was high-fiving Nasdaq Chief Executive Bob Greifeld and ringing the opening bell remotely from Facebook’s sprawling headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif.

But since then, a lot’s gone wrong including the Nasdaq’s botched opening of the stock; its precipitous slide since Friday to levels well below the $38 a share offering price; and allegations that lead underwriter Morgan Stanley shared negative news about Facebook with institutional investors before the IPO.

Through it all, Zuckerberg’s been MIA.

Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, a senior dean at the Yale School of Management, thinks Zuckerberg is making a mistake by not publicly addressing the problems. “It’s important now to actually show the execution, show the plan, show the new vision,” Sonnenfeld told CNBC’s “Street Signs” on Tuesday.

 

Read Full Article Here

 

 

U.S. Has Spent $642 Billion on Afghan War, Including almost $200 Billion for This Year and Next

U.S. Has Spent $642 Billion on Afghan War, Including almost $200 Billion for This Year and Next
While Washington’s rhetoric has focused recently on the coming end to the war in Afghanistan, its spending on the conflict is not at all waning.
Between this year and next, the federal government plans to spend nearly $200 billion on the war. If it does so, the U.S. will have spent about $642 billion since 2001 on fighting the Taliban, al-Qaeda and allied groups, local militias and warlords in Afghanistan.
One think tank, the Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS), characterized the spending commitment for 2012 and 2013 as “incredible” given the lack of controls, plans, auditing and effectiveness employed by the Obama administration to win the war.
In its new report, the CSIS added that Washington’s “end effect has been to sharply raise the threshold of corruption in Afghanistan, to make transition planning far more difficult, and raise the risk that sudden funding cuts will undermine the Afghan government’s ability to maintain a viable economy and effective security forces.”
Meanwhile, support among Americans for the war effort has continued to shrink. Only 27% of respondents to a new Associated Press-GfK poll said they back the war, while 66% oppose it.
However there appears to be a major disconnect between the public and their leaders. On Thursday the House of Representatives voted 303-113 against an amendment that would have hastened the exit of U.S. combat troops from Afghanistan by limiting funding to the “safe and orderly withdrawal of U.S. troops and military contractors.” There are currently 88,000 American troops in Afghanistan.
-Noel Brinkerhoff
To Learn More:
The U.S. Cost of the Afghan War: FY2002-FY2013 (Center for Strategic & International Studies) (pdf)

House Reauthorizes Afghan Conflict In Bipartisan Vote (by Donna Cassata, Associated Press)

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Wars and Rumors of War

Mosaic News  : Deadly Suicide Attack on Yemeni Capital Leaves 90 Soldiers Dead

Published on May 22, 2012 by

Deadly suicide attack on Yemeni capital leaves 90 soldiers dead, two Lebanese killed in heavy clashes as Syrian conflict spills over, NATO agrees to hand over security lead to Afghan troops by mid-2013, and more.

Today’s headlines in full:

Deadly suicide attack on Yemeni capital leaves 90 soldiers dead
Al Jazeera, Qatar

Two Lebanese killed in heavy clashes as Syrian conflict spills over
Dubai TV, UAE

NATO agrees to hand over security lead to Afghan troops by mid-2013
BBC Arabic, UK

Syria: Thirteen killed in Homs, Hama, Daraa clashes
BBC Arabic, UK

Bahraini security forces attack protestors as crackdown continues
Al-Alam, Iran

NATO urges Pakistan to reopen supply route
Press TV, Iran

IAEA chief in Iran to press for nuclear cooperation
Press TV, Iran

New video shows Jewish settlers shooting Palestinians as Israeli soldiers stand idle
Press TV, Iran

Tourism, African migrants are main focus of Jerusalem Day Israeli Cabinet session
IBA, Israel

Palestine Heritage Museum reopens in Jerusalem
Palestine TV, Ramallah

Image: A boy holds a candle during a protest to show solidarity with a Yemeni journalist jailed over alleged links with al-Qaeda and to condemn a suicide attack that killed over 90 soldiers in Sanaa May 21, 2012: REUTERS/Mohamed al-Sayaghi

Mosaic is a Peabody Award-winning daily compilation of television news reports from the Middle East, including Egypt, Lebanon, Israel, Syria, the Palestinian Authority, Iraq and Iran. Watch more Mosaic at http://www.linktv.org/mosaic

UN peacekeeping chief admits presence of terrorists in Syria

UN peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous speaks during a press conference in Damascus, Syria, May 21, 2012. Ladsous on Monday warned here of the presence of terrorist groups in Syria, who are trying to capitalize on the current unrest to achieve certain gains. (Xinhua/Hazim)
UN peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous speaks during a press conference in Damascus, Syria, May 21, 2012. Ladsous on Monday warned here of the presence of terrorist groups in Syria, who are trying to capitalize on the current unrest to achieve certain gains. (Xinhua/Hazim)

DAMASCUS, May 21 (Xinhua) — The visiting UN peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous on Monday warned here of the presence of terrorist groups in Syria, who are trying to capitalize on the current unrest to achieve certain gains.

“We know that there are … a third party, terrorist groups, who are trying to gain advantage for themselves… but we have to see this as an issue within Syria, between the Syrians,” he said during a press conference in Damascus.

“These people are not committed to the cause of the Syrian people… They are committed to their own agenda… So we have to keep a watchful eye but what we are dealing with and what we must deal with is the issue between the Syrians themselves,” he said.

“We do know that there had been terrorist attacks and bombings and that is something to be taken very seriously,” he added. “Any further militarization of the crisis is not to be accepted… it’s a crisis between the Syrians and there is no justification in fueling the fire.”

Ladsous said that main objective of his visit to Syria is to examine the deployment of the UN Supervision Mission in Syria, adding that he has been “very pleased by the rapidity by which they have been deployed.”

He noted that the number of UN military observers is now 270, adding that they are now deployed in six cities and soon they will be deployed in 10 cities.

“I am not saying that the violence ceased altogether but clearly it diminished,” he said, adding that he had met with the government and the opposition in Syria.

He said the job of the UN observers aims also to work on the issue of the detainees and to gain access to the prisons. “We simply do not know how many people are detained.”

Ladsous said there are still some unresolved issues, stressing, however, that the Syrian government has confirmed its commitment to Annan’s six-point plan.

“I think it’s necessary to talk to all those who are involved, about how to get further towards a peaceful solution and how to stop violence,” he said.

For his part, head of the UN observer mission Maj-Gen Robert Mood said He is sending Ladsous back to New York “with a different understanding of what Syria is about.”

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Articles of Interest

 Chicago Protests And CPD

Published on May 22, 2012 by

We’ll speak with two men who were held at gun point by the Chicago police for live streaming. Then, in one of the most watched antiwar protests in decades, dozens of Veterans tossed their medals into the streets. And it’s Monday Hangover, so we’ll talk about why the Obama campaign is going after Mitt Romney’s time at Bain Capital when Private Equity donations favor Obama.

BP Coverup, Coverup

Bio

Greg Palast is a BBC investigative reporter and author of Vultures’ Picnic. Palast turned his skills to journalism after two decades as a top investigator of corporate fraud. Palast directed the U.S. governmentʼs largest racketeering case in history– winning a $4.3 billion jury award. He also conducted the investigation of fraud charges in the Exxon Valdez grounding.

Transcript

PAUL JAY, SENIOR EDITOR, TRNN: Welcome to The Real News Network. I’m Paul Jay in Washington.

The BP gulf oil disaster has been the subject of a lot of examination, and recent examination shows that there’s more of a coverup then perhaps we have known. One of the people who’s done a lot of work on this is investigative journalist Greg Palast. And he now joins us from New York City. Greg’s a BBC investigative reporter, author of Vultures’ Picnic, and author of The Best Democracy Money Can Buy and Armed Madhouse and many other pieces of investigative work. Thanks very much for joining us, Greg.GREG PALAST, JOURNALIST AND AUTHOR: Glad to be with you, Paul.JAY: So, first of all, what is the—I mean, people know the basic story of what happened, but what is the real essence of the coverup here?PALAST: Yeah, they don’t know the real story, not in the U.S. press. For British television, I investigated what really happened. Actually, right after Deepwater Horizon exploded on April 20, 2010, I get a message from a witness, an insider from the Caspian Sea, which is, you know, the other side of the planet, in Asia, saying, I know exactly what happened here, ’cause the exact same thing happened in the Caspian Sea two years earlier: there was another BP rig—another BP rig blew out, just like the Deepwater Horizon. And BP covered it up. BP hid it because it occurred offshore off the nation of Azerbaijan, which is what I call—in my book Vulture’s Picnic I call it the Islamic Republic of BP. They own that place. They bought it—bribery.JAY: Now, the point here is that the cause of the Caspian Sea blowout, you’re saying, is essentially the same as what happened in the Gulf.

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Obama wants to continue wiretapping Americans

Published on May 22, 2012 by

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act has gone through many changes since it came to be in 1978, but some of the most recent changes to FISA give the US government permission to eavesdrop on Americans’ electronic communications without a warrant. President Obama has argued that wiretapping programs may not be challenged in court, but should they be? Amie Stepanovich, associate litigation counsel for EPIC, joins us with more on the FISA.

North Koreans in rice belt starve to death: report

by Staff Writers
Seoul (AFP)


NGOs take issue with UN take on sustainable development
Rio De Janeiro (AFP) May 21, 2012 – A month before a UN meeting on sustainable development, civil society is taking issue with the gathering’s approach.The United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, known as Rio+20, takes place in the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro June 20-22. In parallel, NGOs will gather for the People’s Summit for Social and Environmental Justice.”The discussions focus on a set of fake proposals called ‘Green economy,'” organizers of the alternate event said on their website. “The ‘Green economy,’ contrary to what its name suggests, is one more stage of capitalistic accumulation.”The document — titled “What is at stake at Rio+20” — also alleges that the negotiation strategy at the upcoming conference favors rich governments and threatens the rights of indigenous people.At least 116 government officials and 50,000 participants are expected to take part in Rio+20, including heads of companies and representatives of social movements.

The People’s Summit will take place June 15-23.

Food shortages have worsened in North Korea, even in the southwestern rice belt where some residents have starved to death, a Seoul-based online newspaper said Monday.

“Because of worsening food shortages this year there were reports of people starving to death even in South and North Hwanghae provinces,” a Daily NK reporter told AFP, referring to the country’s agricultural heartland.

Six people — children or the elderly — died in just one village in Shingye county after the authorities released an emergency supply of only one or two kilograms (2.2-4.4 pounds) of corn to each household, the paper said.

It quoted another source as saying that about 10 people had died of starvation on each collective farm in and around the coastal city of Haeju by April, following shortages in late winter.

Good Friends, a Seoul-based aid group, also said on its website that starvation continued to claim victims throughout South Hwanghae. At Hwanghae Steelworks some workers had died because food rations stopped, it said.

The South’s unification ministry, which handles cross-border affairs, said it had no information.

Daily NK said North and South Hwanghae saw rice production fall last year due to flooding, and most of the autumn harvest was diverted to military stores or for citizens of Pyongyang.

In South Hwanghae shortages were aggravated by restrictions on market trading and travel during the 100-day mourning period for leader Kim Jong-Il, who died on December 17, it said.

Near the border with the South soldiers were mobilised for farming because many farm workers left to seek help from relatives in other areas, it said.

The North’s official food distribution system, part of its state-directed economy, largely collapsed during the famine years of the mid to-late 1990s.

Severe food shortages have persisted. But donations to UN programmes have dwindled due to international irritation at the North’s missile and nuclear programmes.

The United States suspended a plan to deliver 240,000 tonnes of food after the North’s latest rocket launch on April 13.

On Monday the North’s official Korean Central News Agency expressed concern about drought in western areas, which it said had received little rainfall in the past few weeks.

Water levels in the country’s major irrigation reservoirs stood at just over 55 percent of normal because of unusually high temperatures, which were expected to last until early June, it said.

Related Links
Farming Today – Suppliers and Technology

 

 

Brussels wants e-identities for EU citizens

The European Commission is set to launch a substantial review of rules governing personal documents with the aim of making electronic identities take off across the EU. But the proposal faces likely opposition from civil rights groups and member states where identity cards do not exist.

Neelie Kroes, the EU’s Digital Agenda Commissioner, will present by the beginning of June a new legislative proposal which aims “to facilitate cross-border electronic transactions” through the adoption of harmonised e-signatures, e-identities and electronic authentication services (eIAS) across EU member states, according to an internal document seen by EurActiv.

“A clear regulatory environment for eIAS would boost user convenience, trust and confidence in the digital world,” reads the paper. “This will increase the availability of cross-border and cross-sector eIAS and stimulate the take up of cross-border electronic transactions in all sectors.”

Brussels has long been trying to facilitate the emergence of a parallel system of electronic identification, on top of the the real-world existing documents. This has mainly been linked to the struggle for establishing a truly functioning single market, rather than on security grounds.

A directive was adopted in 1999 establishing a common framework for electronic signatures. The rationale for the legal text is that if EU citizens feel comfortable in signing documents online, they will increasingly move to the immaterial world of the e-commerce to do business and shopping, regardless of national borders.

Resistance expected at national level

Despite the EU’s efforts to increase the security of e-signatures and the confidence in the emergence of virtual identities, citizens and governments have been slow to adopt electronic IDs.

Indeed, e-signatures are still confined to a few sectors, such as universities, while most EU nations have not yet introduced electronic identity cards.

Even if chip-embedded passports are becoming the norm across Europe, e-ID cards have been adopted in only in a handful of countries – Belgium, Estonia, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands. But there is no common system of mutual recognition among states using electronic IDs.

Perhaps more frustrating for the European Commission is that some member states like the United Kingdom do not even have paper identity cards, and the idea of adopting them causes widespread public opposition.

The UK briefly introduced ID cards during the second world war but abolished them afterwards. The use that the Nazi regime made of identity documents to single out Jewish people and send them into concentration camps has been a powerful argument against introducing ID documents across the Channel.

When Tony Blair’s Labour government discussed the idea of ID cards, a citizen movement sprang up overnight to block the plans.

ID cards are also not used in Denmark and Ireland.

 

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Politics and Legislation

Few Minds Are Changed by Arguments in Court

By Susan Saulny, The New York Times News Service | Report

The morning arguments before the Supreme Court had grown tense just as the lunch crowd was packing into the food court at a downtown Atlanta office complex to watch news coverage of the hearing.

Over a meal of fast food, Bebee Dillard, a cleaning business owner, could not have been more pleased with the conservative justices, who were asking tough questions about the constitutionality of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act, the law intended to overhaul the nation’s health system. Ms. Dillard objected to the individual mandate — the central provision of the law that requires most Americans to obtain health insurance — and was pleased by the adversarial nature of the arguments.

“It’s the idea of being forced to do anything,” Ms. Dillard, 47, told a reporter……

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District Court Permanently Blocks Oklahoma Ultrasound Law, Expect A Supreme Court Battle

By Robin Marty, RH Reality Check | Report

The 10th Circuit Federal Court has just issued a permanent injunction on a 2010 Oklahoma law that would require all women terminating their pregnancies to first undergo a mandatory ultrasound. The news, which is no doubt welcome to the women in and around Oklahoma who will no longer have to endure the added financial stress and emotional pressure of an unwanted, medically-unnecessary ultrasound, also sets up what is likely to be the next big battle — this time, before the Supreme Court……

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Can the Brics create a new world order?

Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa seek a multipolar world – but some argue they’re bound by anti-Americanism

Today’s one-day annual summit of the so-called Brics countries – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – has received scant attention in the west. That may be because the grouping has achieved little in concrete terms since its inception in 2009. Critics deride it as a photo-op and talking shop.

But this neglect, or disdain, may also reflect the fact that the Brics, representing almost half the world’s population and about one-fifth of global economic output, pose an unwelcome challenge to the established world order as defined by the US-dominated UN security council, the IMF and the World Bank. The truth of the matter probably lies somewhere in-between. The five national leaders – presidents Dilma Rousseff of Brazil, Dmitri Medvedev of Russia, Hu Jintao of China and Jacob Zuma of South Africa and their host in Delhi, India’s prime minister Manmohan Singh – are not noted for iconoclastic radicalism.

Rousseff has been the most outspoken, insisting that developing countries must be protected from the global “tsunami” of cheap money, unleashed by the US and the EU in the wake of the financial crisis, that was rendering their exports less competitive. “We will defend our industry and prevent the methods developed countries use to escape from crisis resulting in the cannibalisation of emerging markets,” she said this month…..

Read Full Article Here

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Economy

UK fuel-tanker drivers won’t strike over Easter

LONDON (AP) — A union representing British fuel tanker drivers on Friday ruled out the threat of strikes over Easter which had led to some panic-buying in parts of the country.

Unite, which represents around 2,000 tanker drivers, said it retains the right to call a strike if talks due to start next week break down.

The move came after the government had warned consumers to stock up at the pump ahead of any threatened strike, sending gasoline sales soaring as lines formed at gas stations.

In some parts of England the lines were so long that police ordered stations to close to ease congestion.

Britain’s Petrol Retailers Association said that gasoline sales were up more than 170 percent on Thursday, while diesel sales were up almost 80 percent…….

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Amidst the Deepest Slump since the Great Depression, Obama is Touting an “Economic Recovery”

by Barry Grey

While the United States remains mired in the deepest slump since the Great Depression, President Barack Obama is touting a modest improvement in employment over the past several months to boost his electoral prospects in November.

The three-month period from December through February has, according to the Labor Department, seen a net gain of 744,000 jobs, the largest for any three-month stretch since 2006. The official jobless rate has fallen from 9.1 percent in September to 8.3 percent in February.

It is necessary to place these gains within the context of the catastrophic collapse in employment that followed the Wall Street crash of 2008, which has left the US economy with 5 million fewer jobs than at the official start of the recession in December 2007. At the height of the crash, US businesses were cutting more than 744,000 jobs every month.

While the US economy added 335,000 net new manufacturing jobs in 2010 and 2011 combined, it lost 1.6 million manufacturing jobs between January 2008 and March 2009, a reduction of 10 percent. The current level of 12 million manufacturing jobs is down 7.5 million from its peak in 1979.

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, speaking Monday at a business conference in Washington DC, was notably cautious about the recent upturn in employment figures. He suggested that the improvement in the labor market could not be sustained at the current rate of economic growth.

“A significant portion of the improvement in the labor market has reflected a decline in layoffs rather than an increase in hiring,” he said, adding, “Conditions remain far from normal, as shown, for example, by the high level of long-term unemployment and the fact that jobs and hours remain well below pre-crisis peaks, even without adjusting for growth in the labor force.”

What Obama and his supporters in the trade union apparatus conceal is the basis for the modest growth in jobs in general, and manufacturing jobs in particular. The president hinted at the question when he spoke last month at the Master Lock factory in Milwaukee. “Our job as a nation,” he declared, “is to do everything we can to make the decision to insource more attractive for more companies.”….

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Wars and Rumors of War

USS Enterprise Prepares To Cross Suez Canal, Days Away From Anchor In Arabian Sea

Much noise has been emanating out of Israel vis-a-vis its Iranian intentions, with some opinions suggesting an attack is imminent, while others claiming that Israel will ultimately defer to D.C., and postpone an attack, and the eventual gasoline price shock, until after the election. The truth is nobody but a few select generals, knows: in warfare surprise is the key factor, so outright flashing invasion intentions is usually an indicator of just the opposite. That said, the most recent update that Azerbaijan has granted Israel access to its airbases along the Iran border is hardly encouraging for Nobel peace prize winners and other pacifists. Yet as we have been claiming for the past two weeks, ever since the launch of CVN-65 on its last tour of duty, the true catalyst, if any, will be the arrival of the USS Enterprise at what may well be its last place of anchor – somewhere in the Arabian Sea, just off the side of CVN 70 and CVN 72 both of which are patrolling the Straits of Hormuz. And as the map from Stratfor below shows, the Enterprise is about to cross the Suez Canal, from which point it will be at most days from entering its catalyst location, namely supporting the Israel air force. Just because the US has never had 3 concurrent aircraft carriers in proximity to Iran before…….

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Drone strikes in Yemen soar as U.S. stokes ‘secret war’

America has dramatically stepped up its “secret war” in Yemen with the U.S. ordering dozens of drone attacks on al-Qaida hotspots, which have also killed scores of civilians.

With the backing of Yemen’s fragile government, President Barack Obama has authorized a rapid increase in attacks since last May, with 26 incidents recorded.

The pace appears to be accelerating, with nine attacks so far this year and at least five this month, including a strike last week near the terrorist hotbed of Zinjibar. Up to 30 militants were killed in three separate missile strikes on the town, witnesses said.

Nationwide the figures are comparable to those in Pakistan, where America has struck on 10 occasions this year, despite a fierce public reaction.

Research by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism at London’s City University has found that as many as 516 people have been killed in the Yemen attacks – mostly suspected members of al-Qaida’s local ally al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). As many as 104 were civilians……

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Cyber Space

Microsoft censoring Windows Live Messenger chats under guise of fighting piracy

By Madison Ruppert

Piracy seems to be the favorite excuse nowadays when it comes to censorship, destroying internet freedom, and even absurdly large domestic digital surveillance operations.

Now Microsoft, one of the world’s largest corporations in the technology sector, has been actively monitoring and censoring conversations on their Windows Live Messenger program.

Even more disturbing, Microsoft now admits that they have been censoring conversations between users on Windows Live Messenger for quite a while now.

They are blocking certain links from being shared between users, one of which includes the Pirate Bay, one of the most popular and well-known file sharing websites on earth.

Interestingly, they are not only blocking the torrent tracker section of the website which enables peer-to-peer file sharing, they are also blocking a page which is devoted to completely legal file sharing.

Recently popular file sharing news site Torrent Freak discovered the block lists being used by Windows Live Messenger. Interestingly, they found that the Pirate Bay was blocked by the messenger service while other torrent tracking websites which offer the exact same copyrighted content were not.

Today Raw Story discovered that in addition to the Pirate Bay’s main page, Microsoft is also blocking something called “The Promo Bay.”

Read Full Article Here

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Articles of Interest

Patent awarded for “behavioral recognition” surveillance software system

Madison Ruppert, Contributor
Activist Post

The American surveillance state is becoming increasingly advanced, expansive and capable of processing huge amounts of data at blinding speeds.

Now Behavioral Recognition Systems, Inc., also known as BRS Labs, has developed an artificial intelligence-based system which supposedly can automatically recognize human behavior.

Technology which seems similar on the surface already exists and is being used on surveillance platforms like the “Intellistreets” street lights. These street lights, which are outfitted with a great deal of surveillance equipment, are reportedly capable of monitoring activity and telling the difference between certain behaviors while also being able to tell the difference between humans and animals. This technology could be used to enforce curfews, track the movement of individuals, and supposedly spot fights and other crimes…..

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Robotic Sand Flea Jumps 30 Feet

Analysis by Jesse Emspak

……The Sand Flea — along with the throwable Scout XT robot — is headed to Afghanistan, where it will be tested in real-world conditions.

Afghanistan is becoming a hotbed of robotic soldiering, as thousands have already been deployed there. The numbers are even higher when one considers the unmanned aerial vehicles used. Land-bound robots do things like bomb disposal and reconnaissance, reducing the risk to the troops in the field.

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Read the FBI Memo: Agents Can ‘Suspend the Law’

By Spencer Ackerman and Noah Shachtman

The FBI once taught its agents that they can “bend or suspend the law” as they wiretap suspects. But the bureau says it didn’t really mean it, and has now removed the document from its counterterrorism training curriculum, calling it an “imprecise” instruction. Which is a good thing, national security attorneys say, because the FBI’s contention that it can twist the law in pursuit of suspected terrorists is just wrong.

“Dismissing this statement as ‘imprecise’ is a rather unsatisfying response given the very precise lines Congress and the courts have repeatedly drawn between what is and is not permissible, even in counterterrorism cases, over the past decade,” Steve Vladeck, a national-security law professor at American University, says. “It might technically be true that the FBI has certain authorities when conducting counterterrorism investigations that the Constitution otherwise forbids, but that’s good only so far as it goes.”….

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See Image of Memo Here