Tag Archive: UN


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End Of The American Dream

The American Dream Is Becoming A Nightmare And Life As We Know It Is About To Change

Puzzle Last Piece - Public Domain

 

One of the biggest steps toward a one world government that we have ever seen is happening this week, and yet barely anyone is even talking about it.  In fact, it is even being called a “new universal Agenda” for humanity.  Those are not my words – those are the words that the United Nations is using.  If you don’t believe this, just go look at the official document for this new UN agenda.  You won’t have to read very far.  The phrase “new universal Agenda” is right near the end of the preamble.  Officially, the name of this ambitious new program is “the 2030 Agenda“, and it is being hyped as a way to get the whole world to work together to make life better for all of us.  And a lot of the goals of this new agenda are very admirable.  For example, who wouldn’t want to end global poverty?  But as you look deeper into what the UN is trying to do, you find some very disturbing things.

If you didn’t like Agenda 21, then you really are not going to like the 2030 Agenda, because the 2030 Agenda takes things to an entirely new level.  Agenda 21 was primarily focused on climate change and the environment, but the 2030 Agenda goes far beyond that.  As I have noted previously, the 2030 Agenda addresses economics, agriculture, education, gender equality, healthcare and a whole host of other issues.  It has been argued that there are very few forms of human activity that do not fall under the goals of the 2030 Agenda in one way or another.

The UN says that this new Agenda is “voluntary”, and yet virtually every single nation on the entire planet is willingly signing up for it.  In the official document that all of these nations are agreeing to, there are 17 sustainable development goals and 169 very specific sustainable development targets.  You can read them for yourself right here.

 

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Published time: October 01, 2013 09:36
Edited time: October 01, 2013 13:00

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov (RIA Novosti / Michael Klimentyev)

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov (RIA Novosti / Michael Klimentyev)

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has expressed doubts that the West will be successful in getting the Syrian opposition to take part in the ‘Geneva-2’ peace conference, which he expects to take place in mid-November.

Lavrov, stressing that this needs to happen, suggested that getting “rational members” of the opposition on board is a priority, RIA Novosti reports.

He said there is still a lack of clarity regarding who will participate in the anticipated peace talks, “which is a big problem.

Speaking at a Tuesday press conference in Moscow, Lavrov confirmed that a substantial number of the opposition’s commanders have broken free of Syrian National Coalition control.

While this whole business drags on, the radical, Jihadist elements of the opposition, like Al-Nusra Front and others, are gaining in strength.”

: The outcome of the five permanent members’ meeting with @secgen Ban Ki-moon:the -2 meeting can be held in mid-November

The current issue we are faced with is “not to waste any more time,” Lavrov added.

The success of the conference rests in the hands of those “who hold bigger sway with the opposition [than Russia]… We work with everyone, but the bigger influence on the opposition is exerted by our Western colleagues and key Middle Eastern states,” the FM stressed.

“Regarding opposition representation – this remains to be settled. Until recently we have been relying on our Western partners who pledged to push the opposition to the negotiations table and we hoped they would manage it quickly. But so far they have not succeeded. And I am not sure they will by mid-November.”

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Syria govt ‘ready to go to Geneva for dialogue, not to hand over power to anyone’ – FM

Published time: September 29, 2013 19:55
Edited time: September 30, 2013 07:02

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem.(AFP Photo / Timothy A. Clary)

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem.(AFP Photo / Timothy A. Clary)

The Syrian government is ready for peace talks with the opposition, but the legitimacy of President Assad “isn’t up for discussion,” Syrian FM Walid Muallem said. It comes as the Syrian opposition remains undecided on who will represent them at Geneva.

Any political program or work document produced at the Geneva-2 peace conference would have to go through a popular referendum in Syria before it can be applied, Muallem, Syrian Foreign and Expatriates Minister said in an interview with Sky News Arabia on Saturday.

Moreover, the minister reiterated that Syrian President Bashar Assad was legitimately elected to serve until the upcoming elections in mid- 2014, and that his resignation “isn’t up for discussion with anyone.”

Muallem said that the Syrian government is prepared to hold talks with “licensed opposition parties” on forming a national unity government. He went on to disregard the “Doha coalition” – the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces formed in Doha, Qatar in November 2012 from various opposition groups – as the sole representative of the opposition, saying that it “failed in the eyes of Syrians after they demanded the US to wage aggression on Syria.”

Although mid-November has been set as an approximate date for the Geneva-2 conference by the UN, the precise date remains unclear, Muallem noted, saying that the UN and its envoy Lakhdar Brahimi “are having trouble gathering the opposition” in Geneva.

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The New American

Written by 

In the wake of a crushing defeat last week for the climate alarmism-promoting Australian Labor Party, which imposed the deeply unpopular and expensive “carbon tax” credited by analysts for the conservative coalition’s victory, authorities in Australia are preparing to dismantle and consolidate the myriad global-warming schemes spawned under the previous government. However, while legislation is already being drafted, major hurdles remain before the tax on CO2 can be scrapped, sparking an outcry among businesses, state governments, and especially Australian voters, who voted overwhelmingly in favor of the new coalition and its pledge to kill the costly economic burden.

According to Australian news reports, the government’s vast anti-carbon “climate” apparatus currently consists of more than 30 programs under seven departments and eight agencies. Under the newly elected center-right coalition, the sprawling machine is set to be reined in significantly, saving taxpayers over $40 million in four years by “collapsing” the various schemes into just three entities run by two departments. The restructuring of the federal climate regime was announced to government employees before the election — widely viewed as a referendum on the carbon tax — and a spokesman for the new coalition confirmed that the plan was still on track.

“What we’ve said is we will commence the merger as soon as the process of appointing the ministry and swearing in the ministry has been complete,” climate-action spokesman Greg Hunt for the new Liberal-National coalition was quoted as saying in a radio interview. “To be frank, during the course of the pre-election period, when we were allowed to consult with departments, we laid out the fact that there would be a merger. We were express and clear and absolute about that, and we indicated we would like it to begin right from the outset. I imagine that the public servants are preparing to do that. Our agenda was clear and open, and that is an official process we’ll go through as soon as possible.”

Climate realists say that the entire global-warming behemoth ought to be axed entirely — especially considering recent developments that experts say have thoroughly debunked the United Nations’ warming theories and wildly inaccurate computer models. Indeed, numerous experts say the 15-year “pause” in warming may actually be the start of a global cooling period. However, as The New American reported this week after the Australian election, there are a number of obstacles to shutting down the costly climate schemes, including incoming Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s waffling on “climate issues” and resistance to scrapping the carbon tax in the Senate.

Analysts virtually all agree that Abbott and his more liberty-oriented coalition were elected by voters mostly to abolish carbon taxes and restrain the “green” machine, which has contributed to record business failures and soaring costs even for essentials. However, while the carbon tax looks almost certain to be abolished eventually and some of the climate regime will be reined in, the new government is also working on its own global-warming schemes. Perhaps the most important is the so-called “Direct Action” ploy. In a nutshell, the plan calls for squandering vast sums of taxpayer money to buy dubious “emission reductions” from other countries.

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TruthTube451 (AKA MrGlasgowTruther) TruthTube451 (AKA MrGlasgowTruther)

Turkey finds sarin gas in homes of suspected Syrian Islamists – reports

Published time: May 30, 2013 16:56
Edited time: September 14, 2013 03:58

Turkish security forces found a 2kg cylinder with sarin gas after searching the homes of Syrian militants from the Al-Qaeda linked Al-Nusra Front who were previously detained, Turkish media reports. The gas was reportedly going to be used in a bomb.

The sarin gas was found in the homes of suspected Syrian Islamists detained in the southern provinces of Adana and Mersia following a search by Turkish police on Wednesday, reports say. The gas was allegedly going to be used to carry out an attack in the southern Turkish city of Adana.

On Monday, Turkish special anti-terror forces arrested 12 suspected members of the Al-Nusra Front, the Al-Qaeda affiliated group which has been dubbed “the most aggressive and successful arm” of the Syrian rebels. The group was designated a terrorist organization by the United States in December.

Police also reportedly found a cache of weapons, documents and digital data which will be reviewed by police.

Following the searches, five of those detained were released following medical examinations at the Forensic Medicine Institution Adana. Seven suspects remain in custody. Turkish authorities are yet to comment on the arrests.

Russia reacted strongly to the incident, calling for a thorough investigation into the detention of Syrian militants
in possession of sarin gas.

“We are extremely concerned with media reports. Russia believes that the use of any chemical weapons is absolutely
inadmissible,”
Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said on Thursday.

In a separate incident in Adana, police reportedly received intelligence that an explosive-laden vehicle had entered the town of Adana on Thursday, the Taraf daily reports.

Ankara has attempted to bolster the Syrian opposition without becoming embroiled in the Syrian civil war, a policy which Damascus claims lead to the deadliest act of terrorism on Turkish soil.

On May 11, 51 people were killed and 140 injured after two car bombs exploded in the Turkish town of Reyhanlı, located near the country’s border with Syria.A dozen Turkish nationals have been charged in the twin bombings, and Ankara has accused Damascus of helping the suspects carry out the attack.

“This incident was carried out by an organization which is in close contact to pro-regime groups in Syria and I say this very clearly, with the Syrian Mukhabarat [intelligence agency],” Interior Minister Muammer Guler said.

Syria’s Information Minister Omran Zoubi denied any link the attack, saying his country “did not commit and would never commit such an act because our values would not allow that”.Zoubi further charged the Turkish government had facilitated the flow of arms, explosives, funds and fighters across the country’s border into Syria, claiming that that Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his party bear direct responsibility [for the attack].”

Reports of chemical weapons use by both Damascus and the Syrian opposition have surrounded the conflict in Syria for months.

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By Daryl Lindsey

Protests against a possible military strike in Syria have been largely muted in Germany this week. Here, Left Party demonstrators hold a sign: "Bombs don't create peace." Zoom

REUTERS

Protests against a possible military strike in Syria have been largely muted in Germany this week. Here, Left Party demonstrators hold a sign: “Bombs don’t create peace.”

All eyes are on the international community this week as the US prepares to strike Syria. In Germany, political leaders are keen to avoid a repeat of the embarrassing mistakes made in the run-up to the Libya intervention. Experts say Berlin will offer political support but little else.

Will it come this weekend? Early next week? Or will it follow the G-20 summit in Russia, which begins on Thursday? Few in Germany doubt the likelihood that the United States will launch some kind of strike against Syria in the coming days. British Prime Minister David Cameron may have suffered a bitter defeat by a negative vote in his country’s parliament on Thursday, but that likely won’t stop the US from acting.

ANZEIGE

In comments made to the New York Times and the Washington Post published on Friday, White House officials began signalling that the US would act unilaterally if it has to. Pentagon officials also stated that a fifth US destroyer carrying dozens of Tomahawk cruise missiles has been moved into the eastern Mediterranean Sea. A red line is a red line — and most expect Washington to respond in order to protect its credibility.

The growing calls for a military strike are in response to the Aug. 21 chemical weapons attack in Syria — an attack that White House officials believe was conducted by dictator Bashar Assad’s forces. “The message the Americans are sending is that they are planning a small attack against Syrian army installations,” says Henning Riecke, the head of the trans-Atlantic relations program and expert on German and US security policy at the German Council on Foreign Relations in Berlin. “The goal here is to cause damage to demonstrate to Assad that if he deploys chemical weapons, then the costs will be greater to him than the benefits. That’s how deterrent is intended to work.”

‘Germany Will Stand in the Way’

Coming as it does just weeks before a national election, the developments create discomfort for incumbent Chancellor Angela Merkel and her Social Democrat challenger, Peer Steinbrück, given that two-thirds of Germans oppose an international military intervention against Syria. Worse yet, what would happen if the US were to ask for anything beyond political support from Germany?

“Election campaigns are a bad time to go to war, and Germany’s Western allies know that, too,” says Markus Kaim, a security policy expert at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP), a Berlin-based think tank that advises the government on foreign policy matters.

More likely, he and other experts say — particularly given Berlin’s abstention from the United Nations Security Council vote on the Libya intervention in 2011 — Washington is unlikely to ask for much if anything at all.

“At the very most, the Germans will be asked to act friendly and cooperative from the sidelines,” says DGAP’s Riecke. “In other words, to provide political support for the mission, approach the critics in Moscow and Beijing diplomatically and not undertake any political countermeasures.” Earlier this week, Merkel’s spokesman called for punitive measures against Syria and “consequences” in the wake of the chemical weapons attack. Riecke said he interpreted this to be an announcement that, “Germany will not stand in the way.”

Germany Seeks to Avoid Embarrassment

In the corridors of power in Berlin, the international isolation Germany faced after its abstention from the Libya vote hangs over the current Syria debate like an 800-pound gorilla. At the time, the US, Britain and France moved ahead to establish a no-fly zone in the country without Germany’s support.

“It was a mistake and some in (Merkel’s) government readily admit that today,” says SWP’s Kaim. “The lack of coordination with our Western allies and the abstention put German on the same side as Russia and China. It was a meltdown for German politics and the government is now seeking to avoid that.”

It’s a position shared by General Harald Kujat, the retired former head of Germany’s Bundeswehr armed forces. He calls the abstention and subsequent “errors” made by the German government over Libya a “disaster,” both militarily and politically. This time around, he says, the only thing the German government will do is “seek to avoid making any major mistakes — but no more than that.”

When asked what Germany could provide if Washington moves to strike next week or after the G-20 summit in St. Petersburg, Kujat has few illusions. “When it comes to geopolitical issues,” he says, “Germany plays no role. We are merely extras, and if you’re an extra, then you need to make sure you don’t disrupt the performance taking place on stage. But disrupt is precisely what we did in Libya.”

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UN Wrapping Up Syria Chemical Inspection Early

U.N. weapons inspectors headed out for one final day of investigations after a delayed start this morning, as the United States signaled it is ready to launch a military campaign against the Syrian regime on its own.

The U.N. team was seen leaving their Damascus hotel this morning, only to turn back moments later. Journalists in Syria’s capital reported heavy government shelling in nearby rebel-controlled suburbs but the U.N. team got underway around noon local time.

White House Says Syria Is Not Iraq

Traveling with the U.N. convoy this morning, the BBC reporter in Damascus tweeted that the inspectors unexpectedly visited a military hospital instead of the sites of the reported Aug. 21 chemical weapons attack.

The U.N. team plans to leave the country Saturday morning, one day ahead of schedule, and will report immediately to U.N. Secretary-General Ban ki-Moon.

While the international community awaits the results from the U.N. investigation, Washington is regrouping after losing British support Thursday night. Dealing a major blow to its stalwart ally, the British House of Commons voted down a motion authorizing military action in Syria.

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UN team tour stricken Syria areas, activists say

The head of UN inspectors’ team, Professor Ake Sellstrom, second right, and Angela Kane, right, the representative on the United Nations for Disarmament Issues, watch as the UN inspectors’ team leaves the Four Seasons hotel in Damascus, Syria, August 28, 2013. United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon pleaded for a diplomatic solution to the Syrian conflict, even as world powers appeared to be moving toward punitive military strikes against President Bashar Assad's regime for what the United States and its allies say was a deadly chemical weapons attack. Syria has denied it was behind the alleged attack. (AP Photo)
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Associated Press

DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) — Activists said U.N. inspectors investigating suspected poison gas attacks toured stricken areas for a third day Thursday, ahead of a weekend departure from Syria that heightens the possibility of punitive strikes from Western countries against Syria.

U.S. President Barack Obama said he has not decided how the U.S. would respond to the Aug. 21 attacks near Damascus that, according to the group Doctors Without Borders, killed 355 people.

However, Obama signaled Wednesday that the U.S. is moving toward a punitive strike, saying he has “concluded” that Assad’s regime is behind the attacks and that there “need to be international consequences.”

Both Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron were trying to shore up domestic political support Thursday for possible military action.

The Obama administration was planning a teleconference briefing Thursday on Syria for leaders of the House and Senate and national security committees, U.S. officials and congressional aides said.

Cameron convened Parliament for an emergency meeting to vote on possible international action against Syria. Cameron promised he would not go to war until the U.N. weapons team has had a chance to report its findings.

In Vienna, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Thursday he spoke to Obama a day earlier about ways of expediting the U.N. investigation.

U.N. chemical weapons experts who are investigating …

Ban said the U.N. team is to leave Syria on Saturday, and suggested that the Western powers hold off on any decisions until the inspectors have presented their findings.

Ban said he told Obama the U.N. investigators “should be allowed to continue their work as mandated by the member states and I told him that we will surely share our information and our analysis.”

Read More  Here

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Politics, Legislation and Economy News

 

 

Wars and Rumors Of War

 

 

Published on Aug 20, 2012 by

32 people have been arrested in Libya in connection with recent bomb attacks in the capital. All those detained are said to belong to a network of loyalists of the country’s former leader Muammar Gaddafi and have reportedly been receiving financial backing from abroad. RT talks to political analyst and Middle East consultant Peter Eyre.

RT LIVE http://rt.com/on-air

Politics, Legislation and Economy News

Wars and Rumors of War

Published on Aug 20, 2012 by

The United Nations has issued a 102-page report, alleging that both sides on the Syrian conflict have carried out numerous “war crimes.” Now the trouble is in danger of spreading into Lebanon. The leader of Lebanon’s Progressive Socialist Party, Walid Jumblatt, has said that this could all herald the unraveling of Sykes-Picot, a reference to the secret agreement between the British and the French in 1919 that was meant to define their spheres of influence and control in the Middle East during World War I.

Separately, Indians celebrated on Wednesday the 65th anniversary of their country’s independence from Britain. Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said the country would send a rocket to Mars next year. India has one of the fastest growing economies in the world even if many of its people do not have a safe drinking water. In 2008, India sent a successful probe to the moon and detected evidence of water on the lunar surface for the first time. “A note to Mr. Singh, providing reliable water for your own people at home might be a better achievement,” said George Galloway.

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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Politics and Legislation

Today,ALEC Brings Lawmakers and Big Oil Together to Undermine Clean Energy

Rebecca Leber
Think Progress / News Report
“ALEC has faced backlash recently for its role in crafting Florida’s Stand Your Ground laws. Now the organization is taking the same secretive approach to kill renewable energy development across the country.”

Today, behind closed doors in Charlotte, North Carolina, legislators from 15 states will meet with the oil and gas industry to discuss so-called “model legislation” as part of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). The result could be laws that handicap renewable energy targets — while creating loopholes for fossil fuels, written directly by the oil and gas industry itself.

ALEC has faced backlash recently for its role in crafting Florida’s Stand Your Ground laws. Now the organization is taking the same secretive approach to kill renewable energy development across the country.

Oil and gas corporations have a very strong role in politics through groups like Americans For Prosperity, American Petroleum Institute, and, of course, ALEC. Four of the largest oil and gas corporations and two of the most profitable U.S. corporations overall, ExxonMobil, Chevron, Shell, and BP, sit on ALEC’s task forces. And so today, according to documents posted by Common Cause, representatives from these and other energy groups will discuss potential legislation that would undermine clean energy standards and limit regulations of polluting industries.

Read Full Article Here

Greece lurches towards new vote, hard left leads

Leader of the Socialists PASOK party Evangelos Venizelos (L) escorts leader of Conservatives New Democracy party Antonis Samaras after their meeting in Athens May 11, 2012. REUTERS-Yorgos Karahalis

By Lefteris Papadimas and George Georgiopoulos

(Reuters) – Greece’s president summoned party leaders on Saturday for one final attempt to avert new elections, but the effort looked doomed to fail after politicians deeply divided over austerity plans said they would stick to their guns.

Greece’s political landscape is in disarray a week after an election left parliament almost equally divided between parties backing and opposing an EU/IMF bailout that keeps Athens afloat in return for pledges of deep spending cuts and tax hikes.

If President Karolos Papoulias fails in a final attempt to persuade leaders to form a coalition, he will have to call a new vote in June. Opinion polls predict the balance of power would tip decisively towards the bailout’s radical leftist opponents, potentially jeopardizing Greece’s membership in the euro zone.

Papoulias called the leaders of the three biggest parties for coalition talks on Sunday at 0900 GMT, after Socialist leader Evangelos Venizelos became the third and last of them to acknowledge he had failed to assemble a coalition.

Without a government to negotiate a new aid tranche from the EU and IMF, Greece risks bankruptcy in weeks and – as European leaders now openly acknowledge – potential ejection from the common currency.

A week of efforts to put together a government failed because of disagreement over the bailout. Party officials said on Saturday they would not change their stances.

“There is no change (to our position),” said Panos Skourletis, a spokesman for the anti-bailout Left Coalition SYRIZA party, which placed second on Sunday and has since seen its popularity increase as anti-bailout voters rally around its charismatic 37-year-old leader, Alexis Tsipras.

“It is obvious that there is an effort to bring about a government that will implement the bailout. We are not participating in such a government,” Skourletis told Reuters.

Tsipras has the most to gain from a new vote. If, as polls predict, SYRIZA overtakes the conservatives to place first, it would be awarded an extra 50 seats in the 300-seat house, making the former student activist – little known outside Greece just weeks ago – into the country’s pre-eminent politician.

A senior official at the smaller and more moderate Democratic Left party, which has enough seats to give the pro-bailout parties a majority, reiterated that it would not participate in a government unless SYRIZA also agreed to join.

Lobbyists Arranged N.Y. Congressman’s $20,000 Trip to Taiwan

Justin Elliott
ProPublica / News Report
“Congressional ethics rules prohibit members from participating in most trips arranged by lobbyists.”

Although Owens filed a travel disclosure with the House Ethics Committee that identifies the trip’s sponsor as the Culture University, email messages and other documents reviewed by ProPublica show that lobbyists from the New York firm Park Strategies, founded by former New York Sen. Al D’Amato, had invited Owens on the trip and spent four months organizing it.

rule passed by Congress after the Jack Abramoff scandal states: “Member and staff participation in officially-connected travel that is in any way planned, organized, requested, or arranged by a lobbyist is prohibited.”

Besides D’Amato, others involved in arranging the trip included two executives at his firm, John Zagame and Sean King, son of Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y. The Park Strategies lobbyists are registered foreign agents for the government of Taiwan.

“Lobbyists are not supposed to be associated with this trip in any way — they are not supposed to be organizing this or orchestrating it,” said Public Citizen’s Craig Holman, who helped draft the post-Abramoff reforms.

The Ethics Committee investigates potential rule violations and can recommend penalties, such as censure or a fine, to the full House. The committee approved Owens’ trip before he left, but the congressman’s filings with the panel listed only the Culture University as sponsor and did not mention Park Strategies.

Both Park Strategies and Owens’ spokesman told ProPublica they believe the trip complied with House rules.

Congress adopted the rule barring lobbyist involvement in most congressional travel after abuses exposed by the Abramoff influence-peddling scandal. Trips were a favorite method of Abramoff to warm members of Congress and staffers to his clients’ interests. In the most serious case, Rep. Bob Ney, R-Ohio, was sentenced to 30 months in prison in 2007 after admitting he accepted luxury travel and other gifts from Abramoff while helping the lobbyist’s clients.

Park Strategies’ organizing role in the Owens trip stands out because it is documented by an unusually rich trove of email and other records filed by the firm with the Justice Department under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, which requires disclosure of congressional contacts by lobbyists for foreign governments, businesses and political organizations, among others.

UK denying access to Britain on the eve of the Olympics

  by

The British government has been gearing up its security for this year’s Olympics. The code red level security has denied individuals’ access to England and Parliament could soon pass an anti-terrorism plan similar to the American Patriot Act, which would give the government access to it citizens’ emails, text messages, phone calls and online activity. So are the security measures being taken to the extreme? Here is our report.

Chinese State Media Unravels on Chen Story

  by

(LinkAsia News: 5/11/12) China’s tightly controlled state propaganda machine was in complete disarray as the Chen Guangcheng saga played out last week, with conflicting messages abounding. Contributor David Bandurski breaks down the sequence of events that played out between state and social media.

Watch more LinkAsia stories at http://linkasia.org.

IMAGE: Police officers approach a journalist outside of Chaoyang Hospital, where blind activist Guangcheng was reported to be staying at, in Beijing: REUTERS/Carlos Barria

Native Congressional Candidate Responds to Media Usage of Indian Terms

FLAGSTAFF, ARIZONA – Harvard Law School graduate (’06) and Democratic candidate for Arizona’s First Congressional District, Wenona Benally Baldenegro has issued a statement in response to offensive media characterizations of American Indians, following questions of US Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren’s American Indian ancestry. Baldenegro was a student at Harvard Law School, during the same time that Dr. Warren was a Harvard Law professor.

Native Vote 2012

Baldenegro, a member of the Navajo Nation, is running a historic campaign to be the first American Indian woman ever to be elected to the United States Congress.

“I do not have the answers to the questions regarding Dr. Warren and her background. Only she can answer any lingering questions. What I can say is that I am greatly concerned about the tremendous disrespect with which this story has been reported by some in the media. Fox News’ Michelle Malkin wrote an article where she referred to Dr. Warren, using extremely offensive names, including ‘Sacaja-whiner,’ ‘Pinocchio-hontas,’ ‘Chief Full-of-Lies,’ and ‘Running Joke.'”

“The right wing website, The Daily Caller, re posted Malkin’s piece, with the headline ‘Sitting Bulls**t.’ While The Daily Caller has since changed its title, Malkin’s article continues to be circulated around the internet without any accompanying commentary condemning the use of such degrading and offensive terms. We should not tolerate it, and I stand with the Native American Journalists Association, and the Indian nations that have publicly condemned these highly offensive characterizations. ”

Read Full Article Here

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Economy

Facebook Co-Founder Saverin Gives Up U.S. Citizenship Before IPO

By Danielle Kucera, Sanat Vallikappen and Christine Harper

Eduardo Saverin, the billionaire co- founder of Facebook Inc. (FB), renounced his U.S. citizenship before an initial public offering that values the social network at as much as $96 billion, a move that may reduce his tax bill.

Facebook plans to raise as much as $11.8 billion through the IPO, the biggest in history for an Internet company. Saverin’s stake is about 4 percent, according to the website whoownsfacebook.com. At the high end of the proposed IPO market capitalization, that would be worth about $3.84 billion. His holdings aren’t listed in Facebook’s regulatory filings.

May 11 (Bloomberg) — Results of a Bloomberg investor poll show that 79 percent of respondents say Facebook is overvalued at $96 billion. Dominic Chu reports on Bloomberg Television’s “In The Loop.” (Source: Bloomberg)

Saverin, 30, joins a growing number of people giving up U.S. citizenship ahead of a possible increase in tax rates for top earners. The Brazilian-born resident of Singapore is one of several people who helped Mark Zuckerberg start Facebook in a Harvard University dormitory and stand to reap billions of dollars after the world’s largest social network holds its IPO.

“Eduardo recently found it more practical to become a resident of Singapore since he plans to live there for an indefinite period of time,” said Tom Goodman, a spokesman for Saverin, in an e-mailed statement.

Saverin’s name is on a list of people who chose to renounce citizenship as of April 30, published by the Internal Revenue Service. Saverin made that move “around September” of last year, according to his spokesman.

Besides helping cut tax bills stemming from the Facebook, the move may also help him avoid capital gains taxes on future investments since Singapore doesn’t have a capital gains tax.

Read Full Article and  Watch Video Here

3.6 Million Taxpayer Dollars Being Used To Support The Lavish Lifestyles Of Former Presidents Such As Bush And Clinton

You are not going to believe how much money is being spent on our former presidents.  At a time when U.S. government spending is wildly out of control, a total of 3.6 million dollars is being used to support the lavish lifestyles of former presidents such as George W. Bush and Bill Clinton in 2012.  For 2013, the plan is to increase that amount to 3.7 million dollars.  But do any of them really need this kind of welfare?  The truth is that all of them are very wealthy.  So what justification is there for giving them so much money?  You can see the GSA budget proposal for former presidents for 2013 right here.  The 3.7 million dollars for 2013 does not even include the cost of Secret Service protection.  Rather, it only covers expenses such as office rentals, travel, phone bills, postage, printing and pension benefits.  Certainly it is not unreasonable to grant former presidents a small pension, but should we be showering them with millions of dollars each year?  At a time when the federal government is drowning in so much debt, the fact that these former presidents are willing to take such huge amounts of taxpayer money really does make them look like parasites.

So why are these former presidents getting this money?

Congress passed The Former Presidents Act of 1958 because they didn’t want other presidents to end up as poor as Harry Truman did.

Read Full Article Here

Reid furious as GOP blocks quick Senate Export-Import vote

By Daniel Stauss

Legislation reauthorizing the Export-Import Bank hit a snag Thursday when Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) blocked an attempt by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to move to a final vote on the bill.

Reid responded by filing for cloture on the legislation, which was approved by the House on Wednesday and was expected to be dispatched quickly by the Senate. Reid’s move sets up a vote on Monday.

Reid asked for unanimous consent to approve the motion to proceed to the bill, but Kyl objected and asked for consent to include five amendments to the legislation.

Kyl also asked that the Senate require a 60-vote margin for passage for the legislation.

Conservative groups have pushed Republicans to oppose the Export-Import Bank, which they argue disrupts markets through export subsidies. Ninety-three House Republicans voted against the bill in the House.

Read Full Article Here

House votes to replace Pentagon cuts mandated by debt deal

By Erik Wasson and Pete Kasperowicz

The House voted Thursday to override steep cuts to the Pentagon’s budget mandated by last summer’s debt deal and replace them with spending reductions to food stamps and other mandatory social programs.

While doomed in the Senate and opposed by the White House, the legislation, which would reduce the deficit by $243 billion, is a Republican marker for post-election budget talks with the White House.

Members approved the Sequester Replacement Reconciliation Act in a party-line 218-199 vote. As expected, the bill was supported by nearly all Republicans — only 16 opposed it, and no Democrats supported it.

Republicans voting against the bill were Reps. Justin Amash (Mich.), Roscoe Bartlett (Md.), Charlie Bass (N.H.), John Duncan (Tenn.), Mike Fitzpatrick (Pa.), Chris Gibson (N.Y.), Louie Gohmert (Texas), Jaime Herrera Beutler (Wash.), Tim Johnson (Ill.), Walter Jones (N.C.), Raul Labrador (Idaho), Steve LaTourette (Ohio), Frank LoBiondo (N.J.), Todd Platts (Pa.), Ed Whitfield (Ky.) and Frank Wolf (Va.). GOP Rep. James Sensenbrenner (Wis.) voted present.

Republicans cast the bill as a first step back toward controlling federal spending, after years of allowing spending and deficits to balloon.

“We believe the purpose of the sequester was to replace the fact that Congress isn’t governing,” House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said during the opening debate on the bill. “Well, let’s have Congress govern. That’s why we’re doing this.”

Read Full Article Here

Public Overwhelmingly Supports Large Defense Spending Cuts

Jeffery Smith
iWatch News / News Analysis
“Not only does the public want deep cuts, it wants those cuts to encompass spending in virtually every military domain — air power, sea power, ground forces, nuclear weapons, and missile defenses.”

While politicians, insiders and experts may be divided over how much the government should spend on the nation’s defense, there’s a surprising consensus among the public about what should be done: They want to cut spending far more deeply than either the Obama administration or the Republicans.

That’s according to the results of an innovative, new, nationwide survey by three nonprofit groups, the Center for Public integrity, the Program for Public Consultation and the Stimson Center. Not only does the public want deep cuts, it wants those cuts to encompass spending in virtually every military domain — air power, sea power, ground forces, nuclear weapons, and missile defenses.

According to the survey, in which respondents were told about the size of the budget as well as shown expert arguments for and against spending cuts, two-thirds of Republicans and nine in 10 Democrats supported making immediate cuts — a position at odds with the leaderships of both political parties.

The average total cut was around $103 billion, a substantial portion of the current $562 billion base defense budget, while the majority supported cutting it at least $83 billion. These amounts both exceed a threatened cut of $55 billion at the end of this year under so-called “sequestration” legislation passed in 2011, which Pentagon officials and lawmakers alike have claimed would be devastating.

“When Americans look at the amount of defense spending compared to spending on other programs, they see defense as the one that should take a substantial hit to reduce the deficit,” said Steven Kull, director of the Program for Public Consultation (PPC), and the lead developer of the survey. “Clearly the polarization that you are seeing on the floor of the Congress is not reflective of the American people.”

A broad disagreement with the Obama administration’s current spending approach — keeping the defense budget mostly level — was shared by 75 percent of men and 78 percent of women, all of whom instead backed immediate cuts. That view was also shared by at least 69 percent of every one of four age groups from 18 to 60 and older, although those aged 29 and below expressed much higher support, at 92 percent.

Disagreement with the Obama administration’s continued spending on the war in Afghanistan was particularly intense, with 85 percent of respondents expressing

support for a statement that said in part, “it is time for the Afghan people to manage their own country and for us to bring our troops home.” A majority of respondents backed an immediate cut, on average, of $38 billion in the war’s existing $88 billion budget, or around 43 percent.

Despite the public’s distance from Obama’s defense budget, the survey disclosed an even larger gap between majority views and proposals by House Republicans this week to add $3 billion for an extra naval destroyer, a new submarine, more missile defenses, and some weapons systems the Pentagon has proposed to cancel. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has similarly endorsed a significant rise in defense spending.

When it comes to military forces, respondents on average favored at least a 27 percent cut in spending on nuclear arms — the largest proportional cut of any in the survey. They also supported, on average, a 23 percent cut for ground forces, a 17 percent cut for air power and a 14 percent cut for missile defenses. Modest majorities also said they favored dumping some major individual weapons programs, including the costly F-35 jet fighter, a new long-range strategic bomber, and construction of a new aircraft carrier.

Read Full Article Here

Bernanke to Dems: Congress endangers recovery by not finishing its work

By Alexander Bolton –

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke warned Senate Democrats Thursday that Congress could derail the national economy if it fails to complete work on important tax and spending issues by year’s end.

Taxes will increase by an estimated $5 trillion over the next decade if Congress does not extend expiring law by Dec. 31. The nation also faces an automatic $1.2 trillion spending cut and the expiration of the payroll tax holiday and benefits for the unemployed.

Bernanke warned Democrats at a lunch meeting that the combined effect would have severely damaging consequences for the recovering economy.

“He stressed if all these things occur, it could drive us back into a worse recession and the sooner we can resolve these issues, the more likely we are to give confidence to consumers and investors across America,” said Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.).

Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) said Bernanke and his colleagues discussed a “fiscal cliff” that could put the country back into recession.

“Talking about the fiscal cliff at the end of this year, with all the tax cuts expiring, with [the spending] sequester, with unemployment insurance expiring and payroll tax cut expiring and if all those things happened that would constitute a fiscal cliff and that would have economic consequences,” said Conrad.

Read Full Article Here

MSM: Over 200k to Lose Unemployment Benefits

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While the media was busy obsessing about Obama’s fundraiser they totally missed the fact hundreds of thousands of Americans are losing their unemployment benefits. In 8 states, this weekend, 230 thousand Americans will lose their unemployment benefits. Nearly 100 thousand of those workers, coming from the State of California alone. So why did the media totally ignore it?

97% of Lockheed’s Sales Come From Govt.

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This week Goldman Sachs put out an list of companies that get 20 percent or more of their sales from the government. the names on the list aren’t shocking, but the percentages are.

Iran discovers 26 trillion cubic feet of natural gas in Persian Gulf

c_330_235_16777215_0_http___tehrantimes.com_images_stories_edim_petronet-oilgf-5654.JPGTEHRAN – The latest exploration operations at the Kish gas field, which is located in the Persian Gulf, show that it contains at least 66 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, which is a rise of 26 trillion cubic feet over previous estimates, according to an official of the National Iranian Oil Company.
And explorations are underway in the region to find new natural gas deposits, NIOC Exploration Department Director Mahmoud Mohaddess told the Mehr News Agency on Friday.
Earlier, National Drilling Company of Iran Deputy Director Mehran Makvandi said that 60,000 meters of drilling will be carried out at the Kish gas field, the Shana News Agency reported.
Oil Minister Rostam Qasemi recently said that the National Iranian Oil Company and its subsidiaries should finish drilling wells and start gas production as soon as possible.
He added that development and exploitation of the Kish gas field can boost the national economy.
Implementation of the development plan for the Kish gas field started in 2007. In addition to its 66 trillion cubic feet of in-situ gas, the field also contains about 514 million barrels of condensates.
Iran has the second largest proven gas reserves in the world after Russia.
Iran’s natural gas production capacity stands at around 554 million cubic meters per day, National Iranian Gas Company spokesman Majid Boujarzadeh said on February 5.
Boujarzadeh told the Pana News Agency that taking the gas imported from Turkmenistan into account, about 600 million cubic meters of natural gas is supplied across the country every day.
Iran exported over 7.6 billion cubic meters of natural gas during the previous Iranian calendar year, which ended on March 19, up 10.5 percent compared to the year before.

Native Firms Capture $6.8 Billion, Add 109,000 Jobs through SBA 8(a) Program

WASHINGTON – Addressing Native poverty through the SBA 8(a) program not only shifts economic activity, it stimulates the economies of some of the poorest communities in the country as it replaces welfare and/or social service spending, moves people into the labor force, and stimulates Native capital growth – especially Native human capital.

Small Business Administration

“The story is compelling, as our study clearly shows how important this program is to our Native communities,”

stated Lance Morgan, Chairman of the Native American Contractors Association.

The impact is some $6.8 billion sold to the Federal Government.

The $6.8 billion of 2011 federal contracting requires Native firms to purchase input goods and services and to hire workers, according to the Native American Contractors Association along with Taylor Policy Group, which released these findings late Tuesday afternoon.

The estimated economy wide impacts include:

109,000 jobs;
almost $6 billion in wages and benefits; and
a total GDP contribution of $9.6 billion.

“Our goal is for the study to serve as a glaring illustration of the importance and success of Native participation in the SBA 8(a) program. This study is made available not to only our membership, but also for the agencies and legislators that work with, and seek information from, Tribes, Alaska Native Corporations, and Native Hawaiian Organization when it comes to government contracting matters and concerns,”

stated NACA’s Executive Director, Kevin Allis.

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U.N. Warns of Social Fall-Out from Spain’s Austerity Plan

Gustavo Capdevila
Inter Press Service / News Analysis
“Spain does not want the poor to pay the cost of economic adjustment, nor does it want to limit anyone’s economic, social and cultural rights.”

An expert body of the United Nations has warned the Spanish government that the severe budget cutbacks it is applying must not undermine its commitment to upholding the economic, social and cultural rights of the country’s people.

Austerity measures imposed by the government of centre-right Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy could have “a negative and disproportionate impact on the enjoyment of those rights,” said the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR).

Committee Chairperson Ariranga Govindasamy Pillay, a native of Mauritius, said these concerns will definitely appear in the final conclusions of its review of Spain’s compliance with the provisions of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, to be released on May 18.

The Committee, made up of 18 independent experts from different regions of the world, monitors observance of the Covenant by the 160 states that have ratified it since its adoption in 1966 and its entry into force in 1976.

Two particular events mark the case of Spain, which was discussed this week, said expert Jaime Marchán of Ecuador, the Committee’s rapporteur on the report presented by Spain.

One was the elections in November last year, won by the People’s Party, which replaced the government of the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE) led by former prime minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, in power since 2004.

The second feature mentioned by Marchán was “the persistence of a very severe economic crisis whose direct negative and devastating impacts have often interfered with maintenance of basic levels of protection for economic, social and cultural rights.”

In his assessment of Spain’s compliance, the rapporteur recalled that since 2004 the country has taken measures to promote economic, social and cultural rights, adopting many of the recommendations issued by the U.N. Committee in their review of Spain that year. Marchán mentioned the action plan for development of the Roma, or gypsy, population in 2010-2012 and the new 2012-2020 strategy for integration of Roma communities.

However, lawyer Carlos Villán, president of the Spanish Society for International Human Rights Law (AEDIDH), told IPS that in his country, gypsies “continue to be victims of racism and rejection by a segment of the majority population.”

Read Full Article Here

Indentured Servitude for Seniors: Social Security Garnished for Student Debts

By Ellen Brown

“The Social Security program…represents our commitment as a society to the belief that workers should not live in dread that a disability, death, or old age could leave them or their families destitute.”  – President Jimmy Carter, December 20, 1977.

“[This law] assures the elderly that America will always keep the promises made in troubled times a half century ago…[The Social Security Amendments of 1983 are] a monument to the spirit of compassion and commitment that unites us as a people.” – President Ronald Reagan, April 20, 1983

So said Presidents Carter and Reagan, but that was before 1996, when Congress voted to allow federal agencies to offset portions of Social Security payments to collect debts owed to those agencies. (31 U.S.C. §3716).  Now we read of horror stories like this:

I’m a 68 year old grandma of 2 young grandchildren. I went to college to upgrade my employment status in 1998 or 1999. I finished in 2000 and at that time had a student loan balance of about 3500.00.

Could not find a job and had to request forbearance to carry me. Over the years I forgot about the loan, dealt with poor health, had brain surgery in 2006 and the collection agents decided to collect for the loan in 2008.

At no time during the 6-7 year gap did anyone remind me or let me know that I could make a minimum payment on the loan. Now that I am on Social Security (have been since I was 62), they have decided to garnishee my SS check to the tune of 15%.

I have not been employed since 2004 and have the two dependents . . . .  I don’t dispute that I owed them the $3500.00 but am wondering why they let it build up to somewhere around $17,000/20,000 before they attempted to collect.

Her debt went from $3500 to over $17,000 in 10 years!  How could that be?

It seems that Congress has removed nearly every consumer protection from student loans, including not only standard bankruptcy protections, statutes of limitations, and truth in lending requirements, but protection from usury (excessive interest).  Lenders can vary the interest rates, and some borrowers are reporting rates as high as 18-20%.  At 20%, debt doubles in just 3-1/2 years; and in 7 years, it quadruples.  Congress has also given lenders draconian collection powers to extort not just the original principal and interest on student loans but huge sums in penalties, fees, and collection costs.

U.S. taxpayers now pay nearly half a trillion dollars annually to finance our federal debt.  The cumulative figure comes to $8.2 trillion paid in interest just in the last 24 years.  By financing the debt itself rather than paying interest to private parties, the government could divert what it would have paid in interest into tuition, jobs, infrastructure and social services, allowing us to keep the social contract while at the same time stimulating the economy.

The majority of these debts are being imposed on young people, who have a potential 40 years of gainful employment ahead of them to pay the debt off.  But a sizeable chunk of U.S. student loan debt is held by senior citizens, many of whom are not only unemployed but unemployable.  According to the New York Federal Reserve, two million U.S. seniors age 60 and over have student loan debt, on which they owe a collective $36.5 billion; and 11.2 percent of this debt is in default.  Almost a third of all student loan debt is held by people aged 40 and over, and 4.2% is held by people over the age of 60.  The total student debt is now over $1 trillion, more even than credit card debt.  The sum is unsustainable and threatens to be the next debt tsunami.

Read Full Article Here

Banks prepare for the return of the drachma

Reuters 

By Douwe Miedema and Sarah White

LONDON (Reuters) – Banks are quietly readying themselves to start trading a new Greek currency. Some banks never erased the drachma from their systems after Greece adopted the euro more than a decade ago and would be ready at the flick of a switch if its debt problems forced it to bring back national banknotes and coins.

From the end of the Soviet Union – which spawned currencies such as the Estonian Kroon and the Kazakh Tenge – to the introduction of the euro, they have had plenty of practice in preparing their systems to cope with change.

Planning behind the scenes has been underway since Europe’s debt crisis erupted in Greece in 2009, said U.S.-based Hartmut Grossman of ICS Risk Advisors who works with Wall Street banks.

“A lot of the firms, particularly in Europe and also here, have been looking at that for a long time,” said Grossman, who added that the latest Greek political crisis had brought matters “to a little bit of a head”.

“But there really has been contingency planning at all of the financial institutions for that to happen … Greece leaving the euro zone is not a new idea,” he said.

The EU says it wants Greece to stay in the common currency, and opinion polls show Greeks want to keep it. But they also voted last Sunday for parties opposed to a bailout with the EU and IMF, throwing Greece’s future in the bloc back into doubt.

The elections threw into doubt the EU/IMF aid package that came at the price of harsh austerity measures, and was reached only after much haggling between banks and politicians over a 100 billion euro debt reduction.

While the deal averted financial market catastrophe by allowing Greece to continue repaying its reduced debts, any future problems could be yet more troublesome, even if Athens managed the process in a more or less orderly fashion.

A Greek departure from the euro would create legal and practical problems for the banks which would dwarf the relatively straightforward technical job of dealing in a new currency.

Read Full Article Here

 

The 2 Billion Dollar Loss By JP Morgan Is Just A Preview Of The Coming Collapse Of The Derivatives Market

When news broke of a 2 billion dollar trading loss by JP Morgan, much of the financial world was absolutely stunned.  But the truth is that this is just the beginning.  This is just a very small preview of what is going to happen when we see the collapse of the worldwide derivatives market.  When most Americans think of Wall Street, they think of a bunch of stuffy bankers trading stocks and bonds.  But over the past couple of decades it has evolved into much more than that.  Today, Wall Street is the biggest casino in the entire world.  When the “too big to fail” banks make good bets, they can make a lot of money.  When they make bad bets, they can lose a lot of money, and that is exactly what just happened to JP Morgan.  Their Chief Investment Office made a series of trades which turned out horribly, and it resulted in a loss of over 2 billion dollars over the past 40 days.  But 2 billion dollars is small potatoes compared to the vast size of the global derivatives market.  It has been estimated that the the notional value of all the derivatives in the world is somewhere between 600 trillion dollars and 1.5 quadrillion dollars.  Nobody really knows the real amount, but when this derivatives bubble finally bursts there is not going to be nearly enough money on the entire planet to fix things.

Sadly, a lot of mainstream news reports are not even using the word “derivatives” when they discuss what just happened at JP Morgan.  This morning I listened carefully as one reporter described the 2 billion dollar loss as simply a “bad bet”.

And perhaps that is easier for the American people to understand.  JP Morgan made a series of really bad bets and during a conference call last night CEO Jamie Dimon admitted that the strategy was “flawed, complex, poorly reviewed, poorly executed and poorly monitored”.

The funny thing is that JP Morgan is considered to be much more “risk averse” than most other major Wall Street financial institutions are.

So if this kind of stuff is happening at JP Morgan, then what in the world is going on at some of these other places?

That is a really good question…..

 

Read Full Article Here

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Wars and Rumors of War

Blogger proves TSA body scanners are useless

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The Transportation Security Administration has frisked toddlers and put kids on the no fly list in America. Many Americans feel the TSA is obsolete and feel their tax money could be better spent on other things. One blogger was able to sneak items through the body scanners that are supposed to protect Americans from another terror attack. Anthony Randazzo, director of economic research at the Reason Foundation, joins us for more.

Europeans seek easing of Iran embargo clause

Britain said Thursday that it was in talks with other European Union members about possibly easing a provision of their Iran oil embargo, set to begin in less than two months, that could cause harmful and unintended side effects because it bans Europe-based insurers from covering any ships that carry Iranian oil anywhere in the world.
Such an easing would most likely be welcomed by Iran as well as non-European buyers of Iranian oil, and it could reduce a potential cause of spiking oil prices. Most of Iran’s estimated 2.2 million barrels of daily oil production goes to Asia.
Concern about the impact of the insurance provision has grown since the European Union announced the embargo early this year, part of a coordinated Western campaign to penalize Iran over its uranium enrichment program.
Most big maritime insurers and underwriters are based in Europe, and other buyers of Iranian oil are finding it increasingly difficult to buy the required liability insurance needed to ship it as the embargo’s July 1 enforcement date looms.
The provision has also been criticized as hastily conceived by many in the insurance industry, notably the associations of shipowners and charterers who pool resources to provide coverage. They are known as P&I clubs, for protection and indemnity.
Even China, Iran’s biggest customer, signaled last month that it might be forced to curtail purchases partly because of the insurance problem. Reports in the insurance trade press said the China P&I Club would suspend doing business with tankers carrying Iranian oil. Japan has already done so.
There had been speculation that Britain, an epicenter of maritime insurance services and home to the International Group of P&I Clubs, a trade group, would seek to delay the insurance ban in consultation with other European Union members, which are scheduled to review the embargo’s provisions this month. Reuters, quoting unidentified diplomats, reported Wednesday that the British would seek a six-month postponement.
Britain’s Foreign Office said in a statement on Thursday that it was “committed to a two-track approach of engagement and increasing pressure on Iran through far-reaching sanctions.” The statement also said that the European Union was reviewing aspects of the insurance provision “to ensure that the pressure on Iran is maximized, while avoiding any undesired impacts elsewhere.”
“We are in discussions with several E.U. member states on this,” it said.
Iran had no immediate comment, but Iranian officials have confidently predicted that the European Union embargo would fail, undermined by divisions within Europe and by the demand for its oil elsewhere.
The development came as Iran and the so-called P5-plus-1 countries — the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany — are preparing for a second round of negotiations over Iran’s uranium enrichment activities in Baghdad on May 23. Iranian officials have said they expect a gesture of good faith — like an easing of the sanctions — as the talks progress.
(Source: The New York Times)

US military under fire for ‘anti-Islam class’

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The United States military has called for a review of all its training classes after receiving criticism for a course taught to senior officers that allegedly encouraged war against Islam.

The controversial class presented slides that accused dozens of Islamic groups, many widely recognised as mainstream advocacy groups, of infiltrating the US media, education system, government and military.

One slide titled “The Muslim Brotherhood and Violence” showed a photo of an al-Qaeda beheading, erroneously conflating the two groups.

Through the slides and other presentations, the course created a picture of a US government co-opted by subversive Muslim elements.

Al Jazeera’s Josh Rushing reports from Washington.

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Articles of Interest

Navajo Nation Mourns Code Talker Samuel Tso

Flags Ordered Flown at Half Mast

WINDOW ROCK, ARIZONA – The Navajo Nation has lost yet another Code Talker.

Navajo Code Talker Samuel TsoNavajo Code Talker Samuel Tso

Samuel Tso, 89, of Lukachukai, Arizona, passed away Wednesday evening with family members beside him at San Juan Regional Medical Center in Farmington, New Mexico.

Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly has ordered the Navajo Nation flag to be flown at half staff beginning at today, May 10, through sundown May 14, to honor Code Talker Tso for his service to the Navajo Nation and his country in World War II.

“The Navajo Nation has lost another Code Talker and that saddens my heart. The Code Talkers have brought great pride to our Nation and the loss of Samuel Tso saddens not only myself, his loss saddens the Navajo Nation. On behalf of the First Lady, the Vice President, and the Navajo people, we offer our prayers, condolences and words of encouragement to the Tso family. Samuel Tso was a true Navajo warrior,”

said President Shelly.

Read Full Article Here

Pentagon: That Fictional Drone From That Unreleased Video Game Sure Looks Cool

AustralianPopSci

Art imitates life they say, and every now and then life imitates art.

Which is only slightly terrifying when the art being imitated is a Call of Duty title and the real-world entity doing the imitating is the Pentagon.

A fictional drone from a videogame that hasn’t even been released yet has inspired a US DoD office to consider pursuing the same drone in real life, Brookings Institute 21st Century Defense Initiative director and all-around drones guru Peter Singer tells Innovation News Daily.

Read Full Article Here

Mosaic News 5/10/2012: Thousands of Mauritanians Declare Readiness to Kick out President Aziz

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Thousands of Mauritanians declare readiness to kick out President Aziz, devastating bombings hit the Syrian capital as the blame game continues, Algeria holds parliamentary elections amid voter apathy, and more.

Today’s headlines in full:

Thousands of Mauritanians declare readiness to kick out President Aziz
Al-Alam, Iran

Devastating bombings hit Syrian capital as the blame game continues
New TV, Lebanon

Algeria holds parliamentary elections amid voter apathy
BBC Arabic, UK

Relatives of Palestinian hunger strikers slam Red Cross for ‘negative’ role
Al Jazeera, Qatar

Bahrain postpones retrial of medics jailed for treating protestors
Press TV, Iran

International community, especially US, turning blind eye to Bahrain
Press TV, Iran

Mubarak’s PM reenters Egyptian presidential race
Press TV, Iran

Netanyahu’s last-minute Kadima deal sparks protests across Israel
IBA, Israel

Moody’s downgrades rating for Israel’s banking system
IBA, Israel

Israeli settlers burn hundreds of olive trees in West Bank
Palestine TV, Ramallah

Image: Al-Alam

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

Deerfield employees can earn $100 for reporting crimes

A group of about 70 landscapers and garbage truck drivers got training from the Broward Sheriff’s Office this week so they know what to look for. Another group of about 35 will train next week.

BSO calls the program Operation B.O.L.O. When an employee reports something suspicious, on-duty BSO deputies will drive to the scene. If the information leads to an arrest, the employee gets a reward of up to $100.

“We’re targeting employees out and about throughout the day, who can be an extra set of eyes and ears,” said BSO Deerfield Police Chief Pete Sudler. “There’s no doubt while they’re out there, things are going on around them they’re not trained to spot yet.”

The program is the first of its kind in South Florida, Sudler said, though there are similar programs in Illinois, Texas and in Central Florida. He’s never heard of a city paying employees for good information, though.

The program is funded by BSO’s Law Enforcement Trust Fund, which is made up of funds seized during investigations. By Florida law, the trust fund must be spent on special programs or crime prevention and can’t be used to defray normal operating costs for a police department.

An initial allocation of $5,000 will cover the program for now. How quickly that money disappears will measure the program’s effectiveness, Sudler said.

Arrests in crimes including burglaries, robberies and drug deals will bank employees the full $100. Lesser crimes and tips that less directly lead to an arrest would pay a little less, with the payment determined on a case-by-case basis.

Read Full Article Here

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