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« Reply #7365 on: Jul 07, 2013, 06:01 AM »

‘World’s biggest cocaine dealer’ deported to Italy

By Agence France-Presse
Saturday, July 6, 2013 7:35 EDT

An Italian mafia capo alleged to be the biggest cocaine trafficker in the world will be deported to Italy on Saturday, a day after being arrested in a Colombian shopping mall, prosecutors said.

Roberto Pannunzi was detained in Bogota with a fake Venezuelan identity card in a joint operation by Colombian police together with the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

“He is the biggest cocaine importer in the world,” said Nicola Gratteri, deputy chief prosecutor in Reggio Calabria in southern Italy.

“He is the only one who can organise purchases and sales of cocaine shipments of 3,000 kilos (6,600 pounds) and up,” he said.

“Pannunzi is the only one who can sell both to the ‘Ndrangheta and to Cosa Nostra. He is definitely the most powerful drug broker in the world,” he said.

The ‘Ndrangheta is based in Calabria and is a major player in international drug trafficking. The Sicilian mafia is known as Cosa Nostra.

Gratteri said Pannunzi was being deported since “an extradition order would have taken several months”.

He is expected to land at Rome’s Fiumicino airport later on Saturday.

In April, Colombia captured another suspected top mafioso, Domenico Trimboli, alleged to be a lynchpin between the Medellin drug cartel and the ‘Ndrangheta.

Pannunzi had escaped from a Rome clinic where he was being held under house arrest in 2010 — repeating an earlier escape in the same way in 1999.

He was previously been detained in Colombia in 1994, when he reportedly offered the arresting officers a million dollars in cash to walk away.

Gratteri said that during Friday’s arrest, Pannunzi had told the police he was ill but he said he hoped the alleged trafficker would not be granted house arrest in a hospital in Italy again.

“I hope that he is not given house arrest a third time because he could attempt a third escape.

“It’s exhausting having to go around the world to find him every time he escapes,” Gratteri said.
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« Reply #7366 on: Jul 07, 2013, 06:03 AM »


Mohamed ElBaradei's appointment as Egypt's interim PM thrown into doubt

President's office contradicts earlier statement that leading liberal would head administration alongside Adly Mansour

Josh Layton
guardian.co.uk, Sunday 7 July 2013 00.44 BST   

Egypt's presidential office has not appointed Mohamed ElBaradei as interim prime minister despite an earlier announcement that he would be sworn in on Saturday night.

The former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency had been widely expected to take up his post three days after the ousting of president Mohamed Morsi.

Speculation had been rife for several days that ElBaradei would head the transitional government alongside the acting president, Adly Mansour.

But the presidential office backed away from an earlier announcement that the pro-reform leader would be installed.

Ahmed el-Musilamani, a spokesman for Mansour, told the media that consultations were continuing, denying that the appointment of the Nobel Peace laureate was ever certain.

However, reporters gathered at the presidential palace were ushered into a room where they were told by officials to wait for the president who would arrive shortly to announce ElBaradei's appointment.

A senior opposition official, Munir Fakhry Abdelnur, said that the reversal was because the ultra-conservative Salafi al-Nour party objected to the appointment and mediation was underway.

ElBaradei, who leads the National Salvation Front, an alliance of liberal and leftwing parties, had been expected to be formally sworn in at the presidential palace.

The politican, who has lived in the west for decades, had been widely tipped to take up the position following the ousting of Morsi.

He has played a key role in the background of the current turmoil, meeting General Abdel Fatah al-Sisi on Wednesday.

"ElBaradei is our first choice," a source close to the army said earlier this week.

"He's an international figure, popular with young people and believes in a democracy that would include all political forces. He is also popular among some Islamist groups."

ElBaradei, who won the Nobel peace prize for his work with the nuclear agency, has used his Twitter feed to renounce violence "of all forms".

However his appointment is unlikely to appease Islamists who have regarded him as too liberal and have resolved to stay on the streets until Morsi is returned to power.

ElBaradei, 71, has also defended the army's takeover and supported the temporary arrest of senior members of the Muslim Brotherhood.

In an interview with the BBC, he said: "It is not the army who took over, it is the army who acted on behalf of the people."

ElBaradei has said the Muslim Brotherhood should be part of the political process but has supported the arrest of senior figures belonging to the movement, saying they had been "plotting".

**********

July 6, 2013

Egypt’s New Leaders Press Media to Muzzle Dissent

By KAREEM FAHIM
IHT

CAIRO — As soldiers and policemen opened fire on supporters of President Mohamed Morsi outside an army officers’ club on Friday, killing at least four people, one of Egypt’s state television channels broadcast a religious show that advised viewers to respect the elderly.

On a second state channel, a police officer gave an interview, assuring the public that the department was working night and day to “secure the people.”

After the military removed Mr. Morsi from power while promising that it was not “excluding” any party from participating in Egypt’s future, the leadership moved forcefully to control the narrative of the takeover by exerting pressure on the news media. The authorities shuttered some television stations, including a local Al Jazeera channel and one run by the Muslim Brotherhood, confiscated their equipment and arrested their journalists. The tone of some state news media also seemed to shift, to reflect the interests of those now in charge. “This is evidence of the return of the military police state in its worst form,” said Mohamed Abdel-Razek, 28, who worked as a newscaster at Misr 25, a Brotherhood station.

The crackdown on the channels, carried out with well-orchestrated speed, was another sign of just how far Egypt’s Islamists had fallen. Having recently been among the most prominent voices on television, they struggled for days to be heard. When Egyptian television stopped covering their protests, the president’s supporters provided live streams on the Internet to show Egyptians their numbers.

Human rights activists condemned the closings and said they thought that the authorities, now under a spotlight, might cave to pressure. Most of the detained journalists have been released, but even so, the crackdown added a martial note to Egypt’s transition, seeming to undermine the military’s assertion that it intended to stay out of politics.

And, as violence erupted throughout the country, the shifting media landscape hardened the feeling that Egypt was inescapably stuck in the past. As in the uprising more than two years ago, when Hosni Mubarak was toppled, bridges became battlegrounds and the country counted new dead. Rumors were treated like fact before evaporating, leaving nothing but doubt.

As Mr. Morsi’s supporters dialed up their language against the army and Islamists were accused of deadly attacks, the military seemed able to count on wide latitude from the public to exert its control.

In another echo of the last revolt, the military started accusing foreign news media of spreading “misinformation” and, in at least one case, interfered with their work. During a live broadcast, soldiers stopped a CNN correspondent as he reported on clashes in downtown Cairo, and briefly confiscated a camera. After the BBC and other outlets reported that pro-Morsi protesters had been killed by soldiers outside the Republican Guard club, an unnamed military source told the state newspaper, Al Ahram, that “foreign media outlets” were “inciting sedition between the people and its army.”

Some private outlets have also thrown their weight behind Egypt’s new leaders. A reporter at one newspaper said that her editor had given his staff explicit instructions not to report on pro-Morsi demonstrations and to make sure that articles indicated that the perpetrators of violence were always Islamists.

The reporter requested anonymity, and her claims about the editor’s remarks could not be independently confirmed. A look at Saturday’s articles on the Web site of the newspaper seemed to corroborate her assertions.

The arrests and closings affected longtime journalists, producers and technicians, as well as firebrand clerics at some of the channels who were widely seen as engaging in hate speech and promoting violence.

The shift of power and changing tone of coverage were apparent on Wednesday, even as Egypt’s defense minister, Gen. Abdul-Fattah el-Sisi, prepared to go on television and announce the end of Mr. Morsi’s presidency. Millions of people had marched for days, demanding that result.

State television prepared the public for the earthquake, in soothing segments that made no mention of Mr. Morsi or the Brotherhood, which instead was referred to as “that group.” A host interviewed a retired general, who spoke about the central, critical role of Egypt’s military over decades. Clips of fighter jets screeching through the sky were played, as well as patriotic anthems.

During another interview, a legal expert discussed the question at the center of Egypt’s crisis: whether constitutional or popular legitimacy was more important. The expert explained that any ruler had to have the support of the people to succeed, bolstering the case that the military was about to make, that the people had spoken.

General Sisi had hardly finished his announcement when, at an office of Al Jazeera’s local affiliate in the Agouza neighborhood, men in civilian clothes carrying guns broke down the door, according to journalists who were there. They asked for identification but provided none of their own. They took mobile phones, computers and iPads — anything the journalists could use to communicate. Then they took the employees, and others there, downstairs, where police wagons and other men with guns were waiting.

The other stations were closed down at almost exactly the same moment, in what appeared to be a well-coordinated clampdown.

Events stoked the growing sense of victimhood among the president’s supporters at a demonstration in Nasr City, where the sudden loss of privilege was acutely felt. As journalists were warmly welcomed at the sit-in, there was no talk of Mr. Morsi’s own prosecutions of his opponents in the news media, which while less draconian, were just as selective. The protests were covered live by at least three of the shuttered stations, including the local Al Jazeera network, which was seen, like its Arabic-language parent, as sympathetic to Mr. Morsi and the Islamists. After the arrests, Palestinian networks carried the protests, and people shared videos online. Al Jazeera now has a camera back up at the site.

Seif el-Bgeegy, a 29-year-old plumber who helps guard the protests and is responsible for cameras at the site, said that the images would be protected by “millions” of the president’s supporters inside.

“If they came in, they’d go to war with the masses,” he said.

Mayy El Sheikh and Ben Hubbard contributed reporting.


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« Reply #7367 on: Jul 07, 2013, 06:06 AM »

July 6, 2013

Activist Who Documented Syrian War’s Toll Became Its Victim

By ANNE BARNARD, HWAIDA SAAD and HANIA MOURTADA
IHT

BEIRUT, Lebanon — Even as the Syrian war took bigger and bigger bites out of his life, Fidaa al-Baali never stopped trying to document the conflict — not when his brother, a rebel fighter, died in battle; not when security officials, trying to pressure him, arrested his father; not even when the rebel battalion he was embedded with unleashed a mortar attack that killed his fiancée.

On Friday, Mr. Baali, a citizen journalist and an antigovernment activist known to many Syrians by the nom de guerre Mohammed Moaz, died of shrapnel wounds sustained weeks earlier as government forces shelled his neighborhood, Qaboun, on the outskirts of the Syrian capital, Damascus. Mr. Baali had remained in the working-class jumble of concrete houses during months of heavy bombardment, rushing with his video camera to the scene of attacks.

When antigovernment demonstrations broke out in March 2011 and citizen journalists began documenting them on video, Mr. Baali, who was in his early 20s, was among the first who dared to show his face — a distinctive one, with deep-set eyes and a shock of dark hair flopping across his forehead. He looked straight into the camera, helping to embolden an army of young Syrians who, as protest turned to armed struggle, brought the war into the world’s living rooms from front lines that international journalists could not always reach.

For distant observers, the struggles and losses of Mr. Baali’s own life regularly played out on camera, and in the many interviews he gave by phone and Skype. They punctuated the drumbeat of generic violence, injecting intimacy into the swelling numbers of casualties that the world had grown accustomed to. He did not arm himself, but lived in hiding like a fighter, moving from one friend’s basement to another. Reporters who kept in touch with him on Skype often saw him in a windowless room, the thunder of shelling heard in the background.

He did not speak much about his own history; conversations with him were rushed and focused on whatever he had just seen. But over time, his personal trajectory reflected the shift in the Syrian conflict, from an often idealistic protest movement to an insurgency that grew more violent in the face of a withering government crackdown and could not always claim the moral high ground.

He began saying that he regretted demonstrating peacefully in the beginning. The only way to overpower the Syrian government, he said, was to use “bullets and Kalashnikovs.”

Mr. Baali evolved from a cheerful jokester who mispronounced his R’s to a hardened man, retaining a sense of humor but sounding bitter and increasingly militant. A New York Times journalist who regularly spoke with him on the phone described his voice as getting deeper over time, his manner more gruff.

“We have no one but God and the Free Syrian Army,” he would say.

Mr. Baali obsessively sought out the scenes of shelling and airstrikes to report on civilian suffering, and was embedded with various battalions of the Free Syrian Army, the loose-knit rebel umbrella group, to document its tactics, and was wounded in the arm. He often helped foreign reporters with logistics as they traveled in Syria. And he left behind a string of videos and interviews that trace the contours of the conflict.

Last year, on a visit by United Nations observers to assess the escalating crisis, Mr. Baali appeared in a brief clip, his arm in a sling, facing a group of observers. Their fatigues, flak jackets and blue berets contrasted with his rumpled polo shirt as he tried to convey a sense of impending catastrophe, pleading with them to try harder to get to restive areas where the government did not want them.

“When there’s destruction happening, you’re not coming here,” he told them, making taut gestures with his unscathed hand, his voice alternating between plaintive and impatient. “You can communicate with the U.N.,” he said. “There are people who can’t.”

The observers appeared eager to move on. They became fidgety. As he continued — “We are dying here, my brother,” he said — one of them walked over and kissed him on the forehead. Mr. Baali was briefly struck speechless, then continued his harangue. But the observer group, by then, was on its way.

Not long after, Mr. Baali appeared in another clip, standing beside the body of a bearded man partly wrapped in a white shroud — his brother. Barely holding back tears, he stroked his brother’s face and kissed his head.

“He’s lucky. He’s a martyr now,” Mr. Baali told a Times reporter at the time.

In the spring of 2012, security forces detained his father, a former businessman, in an apparent effort to intimidate the son into abandoning his activism. His father was held in Harasta, a suburb of Damascus, in a branch office of the air force intelligence, feared by many activists.

After he was released, rebels launched an attack on the branch. Mr. Baali was there to cover it.

But the indiscriminate nature of the war hit home for Mr. Baali in April. A group of fighters he had come to trust with his own life fatally wounded his fiancée. They launched a barrage of mortar shells on an area of Damascus where she was staying at the time. Rebels have increasingly tried to hit the center of the capital with shells, which are by definition indiscriminate, and have periodically killed civilians, fueling resentment.

A few days after his fiancée’s death, his zeal for describing the conflict, for a rare moment, faltered. “I almost died because I was in the same area that day,” he said haltingly. “I can’t continue the interview. I don’t know what to say.”

About two months later, Mr. Baali was trying to cross from Qaboun to Jobar, another contested neighborhood, when he was hit by shrapnel from a mortar strike by government forces. He lingered in a hospital for weeks, finally slipping into a coma.

On Friday evening, as news of his death emerged, social media buzzed with reminiscences from his friends and acquaintances.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, the group based in Britain that documents the conflict, congratulated his family on his “great legacy.” Mr. Baali, it said, was “a brave young man who sacrificed his life to give voice to the pains of the Syrian people.”

************

July 6, 2013

Trying to End Rifts, Syria Opposition in Exile Elects President

By ANNE BARNARD
IHT

BEIRUT, Lebanon — The main Syrian exile opposition group elected a new president on Saturday, the body’s latest bid to end months of squabbling and show that it can unite, organize and arm the fighters battling Syria’s president, Bashar al-Assad.

The group’s new president, Ahmad Jarba, is a tribal leader from northeastern Syria and a former political prisoner who was jailed for his role in the Damascus Declaration, a reform movement that challenged the government in 2005.

Members of the exile group, the National Coalition of Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces, also known as the Syrian National Coalition, portrayed Mr. Jarba as a consensus builder able to communicate with the group’s many rival factions. The coalition had been without a president since the previous one, Moaz al-Khatib, resigned in April after many members criticized him for floating the possibility of talks with members of Mr. Assad’s government.

But questions remained about whether Mr. Jarba, elected with a narrow majority amid new challenges for the coalition, could help unify the group. Mr. Jarba, seen as close to the government of Saudi Arabia, defeated Mustafa Sabbagh, a businessman viewed as an ally of Qatar, in a runoff election in Istanbul.

Hanging over the election was the ouster last week of Egypt’s president, Mohamed Morsi, who was backed by the Muslim Brotherhood. The coalition has suffered from criticism that it is dominated by the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood, the best-organized exile group.

The choice of a president close to Saudi Arabia, which is hostile to the Brotherhood, was seen as a counterweight to its influence. Mohammed Farouk Tayfour, a Brotherhood member, was elected one of three vice presidents.

Saudi Arabia and Qatar, which backs the Brotherhood, are two of the main financiers of the Syrian uprising and have wrestled for influence over the movement.

Many rebels fighters and activists in Syria dismiss the exile body as out of touch, dominated by foreign agendas and unable to deliver the arms and direction they need. On social media, many sarcastically portrayed the election as a contest between Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

“Frankly speaking, we no longer pay much attention to such elections,” said Mazen, an activist in Damascus, the Syrian capital, who gave only a first name because he was concerned for his safety. “This coalition is like a horse cart — wherever you take it, it goes. Tell me one thing they gave to the people so far. They keep fighting over positions.”

The coalition has tried to streamline rebel battalions under its leadership and to help plan and deliver humanitarian aid. In March, it elected Ghassan Hitto, a Syrian-American businessman, as prime minister of a national interim government. But he has yet to name a cabinet, and the coalition has been hamstrung by the lack of a reliable arms supply and its own infighting.

Still, Mr. Jarba has credentials inside Syria that could help increase the group’s credibility. He is a sheik from the large Shummari tribe; hails from Hasaka, a marginalized area of northern Syria; and a cousin, according to the pan-Arab television channel Al Arabiya, is a rebel commander in control of an oil-rich area bordering Iraq. Mr. Jarba has a degree in political science.

Musab, an activist from Hasaka who gave only a first name, said he had “never dreamt” that someone from there would reach a high position, and hoped Mr. Jarba would turn the coalition’s attention to the area’s bread-and-butter problems.

He ticked off a list of challenges for Mr. Jarba to address: local military councils that need support, conflicts in the area between extremist groups like the Nusra Front and civil society groups, struggles between Kurdish groups and Sunni ones, and infighting between pro-government and antigovernment Kurds.

Hwaida Saad contributed reporting.



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« Reply #7368 on: Jul 07, 2013, 06:08 AM »

North and South Korea agree on inspection of joint industrial zone

By Agence France-Presse
Saturday, July 6, 2013 19:00 EDT

North and South Korea agreed Sunday to inspect a joint industrial zone shuttered amid high cross-border tension and to hold talks on preventing another closure, reports said.

After rare talks which lasted more than 12 hours, officials from both sides agreed to allow Seoul businessmen to visit Kaesong industrial complex, according to Yonhap news agency and other local media.

Officials will hold another meeting at the complex on Wednesday on ways to prevent another shutdown, according to the agreement signed by both sides on Sunday morning.

[Image via Agence France-Presse]

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« Reply #7369 on: Jul 07, 2013, 06:08 AM »

July 7, 2013

Explosions Rock Buddhist Temple in India

By HARI KUMAR
IHT

NEW DELHI — A series of explosions rocked one of Buddhism’s holiest sites on Sunday morning, an attack on the Mahabodhi Temple in Bodh Gaya in eastern India that officials quickly labeled terrorism.

Two people were injured in the explosions, officials said, and initial reports suggested that the 12-acre temple complex suffered minimal damage. The soaring main temple, constructed in 5th or 6th century, is near the Bodhi Tree, where Lord Buddha is said to have attained enlightenment. Devotees visit the complex from around the world.

“There was some damage to the staircases near the Bodhi tree, and some window panes were broken,” Bhikshu Chalinda, the senior monk of the temple, said in a telephone interview from Bodh Gaya.

In New Delhi, Home Secretary Anil Goswami characterized the explosions as a terror attack, though investigators had not announced any suspects or possible motives. Indian media reported that the Home Ministry has asked for additional security at Buddhist shrines and Tibetan settlements. The advisory cited rising tensions from the ethnic conflict in neighboring Myanmar between Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims.

Mr. Goswami told reporters that four explosions occurred inside the temple complex, three others shook a nearby monastery and an eighth exploded near a statue of Buddha. Two other bombs were defused, he said.

In the past, Indian security officials have cautioned that terror groups might be targeting the Mahabodhi Temple. Last October, the New Delhi police chief Neeraj Kumar said suspected terrorists had confessed to visiting the temple complex to plan a possible attack — information that alarmed the monks at the holy site.

“The security of the temple was tightened after that intelligence input last year,” temple’s senior monk said. “Some metal detectors and more cops and check points were put in place.”

On Sunday, Indian security agencies rushed investigators to Bodh Gaya, which is in the state of Bihar, as political leaders condemned the attack. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said that the country’s “composite culture and traditions teach us respect for all religions and such attacks on religious places will never be tolerated.
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« Reply #7370 on: Jul 07, 2013, 06:10 AM »

July 6, 2013

In Brazil, a Reminder of Emerging-Market Risks

By TIM GRAY
IHT

THE protests in Brazil last month were the latest vivid reminder of the perils of investing in emerging markets. Tens of thousands of demonstrators thronged the streets of São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and other cities, incited partly by a rising cost of living and a slowing economy. Cars burned. Tear gas billowed. And the Brazilian stock market sank.

Yet Brazil was one of the investment darlings of the last decade — the “B” in the ballyhooed BRIC quartet that also included Russia, India and China. Brazil’s economy at times grew at a rate of more than 5 percent a year. Most years, its stock market rose by double digits — in 2009, it returned more than 100 percent. Millions of people moved from poverty into the middle class, and Brazilian companies, like the oil driller Petrobras and the mining concern Vale, attained international prominence.

So far this decade, though, the Brazilian stock market has been a bust. It has dropped by a cumulative 25.3 percent over the last three years, and it has dragged Latin America stock mutual funds down with it. In the first half of 2013, Latin America funds tracked by Morningstar lost almost 17 percent, on average. Over the last three years through June, they lost 4.6 percent a year, annualized. But over the much longer term, they have still fared the best among emerging-market regional funds tracked by Morningstar, returning 16.7 percent, annualized, over the last decade.

“Brazil needs to grow,” said Will Landers, manager of the BlackRock Latin America fund. “It has to deliver a G.D.P. growth rate above 2.5 percent, or investors are going to stay away.” Growth sagged in 2012, with gross domestic product increasing less than 1 percent.

As the bellwether for South American bourses, Brazil has had problems that affect investors in the entire region. Brazilian stocks account for nearly 60 percent of the MSCI Emerging Markets Latin America index and thus the same amount of passively managed funds, like the iShares MSCI Emerging Markets Latin America exchange-traded fund, that track the index. “You’re going to be investing in Brazil if you run a Latin America fund,” said Andres Calderon, manager of the Natixis Hansberger Emerging Latin America fund. Brazilian stocks recently made up about two-thirds of the assets of both Mr. Calderon’s and Mr. Landers’s funds.

Add in Mexico, the region’s other big economy, and Latin America funds can end up looking like concentrated bets on a couple of countries. Mexican companies recently accounted for 25 percent of the MSCI index, 22 percent of the BlackRock fund’s assets and 22 percent of the Natixis fund’s assets. The remaining countries in the MSCI index are Chile, Colombia and Peru.

Actively managed funds can typically hunt more broadly for investments than in just those five countries. BlackRock’s fund, for example, recently held shares of Copa Airlines in Panama.

But the relatively small size of economies and stock markets in Chile, Colombia and Peru can prevent them from adding much oomph to big portfolios. With a G.D.P. of about $250 billion, Chile’s economy is roughly equal to Minnesota’s, while Peru’s is akin to Oregon’s.

Still, portfolio managers see promise in this trio, particularly Peru. “Peru is the highest-growth country in Latin America,” said Luis Carrillo, lead manager of the J.P. Morgan Latin America fund. “It’s growing at Chinese rates — 7 to 8 percent annual G.D.P. growth for six or seven years. The government has learned that growth is the best way to bring people out of poverty.”

Peru’s stock market remains nascent, without the diversity of companies typical of a mature market. “So far, it’s made up mainly of mining and metals companies, so it’s more of a play on commodities,” said Luiz Ribeiro, São Paulo-based manager of the DWS Latin America Equity fund. But domestic consumption is growing, and that should soon yield the kinds of consumer companies that Mr. Ribeiro and other managers say represent the future for stock investing in Latin America.

Managers of Latin America funds often caution that the region and its markets, for all of their promise, remain volatile — as recent events in Brazil have shown.

Thus Adam J. Kutas, manager of the Fidelity Latin America fund, suggests a fund like his should account for no more than 5 percent to 10 percent of a typical diversified portfolio. “These are markets that are earlier in their growth phase than the U.S. or Europe,” Mr. Kutas said. “They can add a lot of enhanced return, but you have to be comfortable with the risk.”

Some commentators recommend even greater conservatism. David Snowball, publisher of the Mutual Fund Observer, an online newsletter, said that most retail investors might be better off staying away from any fund aimed at a single emerging region. “You want to invest where you have a comparative advantage — better contacts or better information,” he said. Most retail investors have neither the contacts nor the expertise to determine whether they should overweight Latin American stocks as compared with, say, those of Asia or Eastern Europe, he said. Instead, he advised, they should stick with broadly diversified offerings.

Mr. Kutas took a different view, noting that a growing number of people in the United States do have firsthand Latin America knowledge. Many have roots and family in the region, travel there regularly and speak Spanish or Portuguese.

“If you do have a personal connection, that can help you understand the risk you’re taking on,” he said. “And if you want to invest in the region you come from or participate in the opportunities you see there, a Latin America fund is one way to do it.”


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« Reply #7371 on: Jul 07, 2013, 06:11 AM »

July 6, 2013

Mexico’s Election Violence Is Said to Be Worst in Years

By KARLA ZABLUDOVSKY
IHT

MEXICO CITY — Running for public office in Mexico has long been perilous, with threats, assaults and sometimes outright killings by criminal gangs, political rivals and other opponents.

But this season is one of the worst in recent years, some experts say, with at least six candidates killed since February and another wounded in an attack that left her husband and an assistant dead. Party and campaign officials have also been assaulted, their family members targeted and sometimes killed as well.

As nearly half of Mexico’s states prepare to hold local elections on Sunday, the outbreak of violence has proved an embarrassment for the new government of President Enrique Peña Nieto, who has promised to control violence and has sought to portray the country as on the mend from wanton killings.

While the Peña Nieto administration promised to take steps to protect voters, opposition leaders have called on the president to put the army in the streets in some states to ensure peaceful voting proceedings, a common practice here.

“We are in the midst of the most violent elections in our history,” said José María Martínez, a member of a conservative-leaning opposition party and president of the special electoral commission of the Senate. “This is not the country that any Mexican deserves.” Mr. Martínez’s National Action Party, which lost the presidency last year, is one of the two main opposition parties that have threatened to break a collaborative pact with Mr. Peña Nieto if the elections are neither fair nor safe.

The motives for many of these attacks, from which no major party has been spared, remain unclear. Local investigations of crimes, even killings, are notoriously haphazard and thin.

The number of cases, meanwhile, continues to grow. Last month, Nicolás Estrada Merino, leader of a state branch of the leftist Party of the Democratic Revolution, was found shot to death in a sugarcane field in the southern state of Oaxaca. Isaac López Rojas, a candidate for deputy mayor from the small, leftist Cardenista Party in the coastal state of Veracruz, was kidnapped and killed, also in June. A few days earlier, in the border state of Chihuahua, a mayoral candidate from the governing Institutional Revolutionary Party, Jaime Orozco Madrigal, was found dead after being forcefully taken from his house.

Newspapers have reported a number of candidates dropping their campaigns out of fear, and news channels have featured interviews with bloodied and bruised party members speaking after unexplained attacks.

The violence presents a problem for Mr. Peña Nieto, who has sought to highlight the country’s economy and court foreign investors while playing down the persistent trouble with crime and offering vague plans on how to address it.

Analysts say the recent electoral violence has highlighted the extent to which Mexico has failed to make progress in confronting the impunity that allows attacks during each voting cycle.

“It would seem like we are in the postrevolutionary years,” said Jorge Chabat, a drug and security expert at CIDE, a Mexico City research group, referring to the period after the revolution of 1910, when the number of political assassinations was particularly high. “I can’t remember so many candidates getting killed before an election.”

These acts “disturb the peace,” said Leonardo Valdés Zurita, president of the Federal Electoral Institute, during a council meeting on Tuesday in which he asked for a minute of silence to honor the victims.

Most of the killings have taken place in small towns, which are especially unprotected and vulnerable to drug and organized-crime groups seeking to expand their turf. “That’s where the organizations fight for control of plazas, of routes,” said Eric L. Olson, director of the Latin American program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington. “They often depend on control of local mayors and local officials to ensure that they are protected.”

Still, the motives are murky. After the killing of a campaign coordinator’s teenage son in Sinaloa State, the authorities denied any political motivation, citing the boy’s possible involvement in crime as a theory. The kidnapping and killing of a candidate in Veracruz, state officials also insisted, was unrelated to his political aspirations.

Some analysts and members of the Institutional Revolutionary Party warned about overblowing the violence, which is common in elections but usually does not interfere with balloting.

“The conditions to carry out the elections do exist,” said Patricio Martínez, a senator from the party. “They’re not perfect; perfect is only left to God.”

But some observers remain unconvinced. “A state that cannot protect its candidates,” said Ernesto López Portillo, director of the Institute for Security and Democracy, a research group in Mexico City, “is a state that cannot protect democracy.”


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« Reply #7372 on: Jul 07, 2013, 06:13 AM »

Return to moon put in jeopardy by dust, scientists say

By Agence France-Presse
Friday, July 5, 2013 13:43 EDT

A return to the Moon could be hampered by dust, a poorly-understood threat to machines and people alike, according to a presentation at a space conference that ended Friday.

Simulations by scientists in Britain and France show that in key zones of Earth’s satellite, dust kicked up by a landing or exploration gains an electrostatic force that briefly overcomes lunar gravity, it heard.

As a result, the dust lingers high above the surface, presenting a thin grey cloud of fine, sticky, abrasive particles that hamper visibility, coat solar panels and threaten moving parts, they said.

Some kinds of lunar dust are laden with iron, presenting a toxicity risk for humans if breathed in, they said.

Farideh Honary, a professor at the University of Lancaster, northwestern England, said lunar dust was already identified as a potential hazard by returning Apollo astronauts.

But only now, with mounting interest in a return to the Moon, were scientists taking a closer look, she told AFP.

“We need to study the dust in much more detail and to do more measurements before (sending) manned missions,” she said by phone.

In a computer simulation presented at the annual conference in Edinburgh of Britain’s Royal Astronomical Society (RAS), Honary said dust did not behave uniformly around the Moon.

What makes the dust levitate and cling is a force caused by electrostatic charge.

Exposure to ultraviolet rays in sunlight drives out electrons and gives the dust a positive charge. But at night-time or in shadow, the torrent of particles spewed out from the Sun charges the dust with electrons, giving it a negative charge.

The dust movement occurs most in areas where the Sun is either rising or setting, and dust particles of opposite charges that are disturbed get pulled towards each other, floating in a haze.

“On most of the lunar surface, a rover would experience roughly 14 days of sunlight followed by 14 days of darkness, so the transition between the two would last a long time by terrestrial standards,” said Honary.

“Engineers really do need to think about this,” she said.

Building a “dome-shaped” rover from which the dust slides, as opposed to a rover that is box-shaped or has lots of crevices or surfaces on which the dust could fall, would be a good option, she said.

The last manned mission to the Moon was Apollo 17, in 1972.

China has said it will attempt to land an exploratory craft on the Moon in the second half of 2013 and transmit back a survey of the lunar surface.

According to the specialist website Dragon in Space (http://dragoninspace.com/planetary/change3.aspx), Chinese mission controllers are mulling five locations for a site where a six-wheeled rover will be deployed.

Indian space officials have also sketched plans for sending a rover in 2015.

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« Reply #7373 on: Jul 08, 2013, 06:16 AM »

Snowden fate in balance as Cuba backs asylum bid

By Agence France-Presse
Monday, July 8, 2013 7:04 EDT

US intelligence leaker Edward Snowden won support from Cuba for his bid to seek asylum in Latin America as he began his third week in limbo at a Moscow airport on Monday.

Cuba, a key transit point from Russia on the way to Latin America, supported the leaders of Bolivia, Venezuela and Nicaragua, who have offered the 30-year-old fugitive a possible lifeline as he remains marooned without documents in the transit area of a Moscow airport.

“We support the sovereign rights of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela and all the regional states to grant asylum to those who are being persecuted for their ideals or their fight for democratic rights, in accordance with our traditions,” Cuban leader Raul Castro said on Sunday.

Speaking to Cuba’s national assembly, Castro did not say whether his country, which has been showing signs of mending ties with Washington, would itself offer refuge to Snowden.

“If Raul Castro’s solidarity on #Snowden is serious, Cuba will publicly offer Snowden asylum,” anti-secrecy organisation WikiLeaks said on Twitter.

Multiple obstacles continue to cloud the former National Security Agency contractor’s asylum hopes however and it remains unclear how he would be able to leave Russia, even if granted asylum by the three Latin American countries.

On Monday, the Moscow embassies of Bolivia, Venezuela and Nicaragua said they were unaware of any developments that would help Snowden escape Sheremetyevo Airport.

“We do not have any information, no one turned to us,” a representative of the Venezuelan embassy in Moscow told AFP. Spokespeople for the Bolivian and Nicaraguan embassies also said they did not have any information.

The Kremlin indicated it wanted to keep the Snowden affair at arm’s length, declining to say how the US leaker could leave without a valid passport.

“That’s not our business,” President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov told AFP. “We are not saying anything.”

Snowden, who is seeking to evade US justice for leaking explosive details about a vast US electronic surveillance programme, caught the Kremlin off guard when he arrived in Russia from Hong Kong on June 23.

After the United States revoked his passport, Snowden, who applied for asylum in 27 countries, has been unable to leave the Sheremetyevo transit zone.

The only flight for which Snowden was known to have been checked-in — a 12-hour Aeroflot flight to Havana — left on June 24 without the fugitive but with several dozen journalists on board.

The Kremlin has been forced to perform a tough balancing act, saying it would not expel the US national but also stressing it did not want to damage ties with Washington ahead of Putin’s summit with US leader Barack Obama in early September.

On Monday, the Kommersant daily, citing a source close to the US State Department, said Obama was unlikely to come to Moscow if Snowden was still stuck in the airport.

Peskov dismissed the report as “speculation”.

Even if Snowden receives a new passport or travel document and manages to board a flight to Latin America, there are no guarantees that his plane would not be grounded once it reaches European airspace, analysts say.

Putin said Snowden could remain in Russia as long as he stopped his leaks, a condition the Kremlin later said the American was not willing to honour.

“Bolivia and Venezuela, with their unstable governments, cannot guarantee him anything,” said security analyst Pavel Felgenhauer.

He said Snowden was increasingly vulnerable to pressure from Russian special services who he said may strong-arm him into remaining in Russia and cooperating.

Highlighting the increasingly absurd situation Snowden finds himself in, sultry ex-spy Anna Chapman proposed marriage to him in a bizarre turn of events that unleashed a torrent of witty comments in Russia last week.

***********

July 7, 2013

Brazil Voices ‘Deep Concern’ Over Gathering of Data by U.S.

By LARRY ROHTER
IHT

RIO DE JANEIRO — The international tensions stirred up by recent revelations about American spying spread to yet another nation on Sunday, when Brazil’s foreign minister expressed “deep concern” over the issue and said his government would press the United Nations to take action that “preserves the sovereignty of all countries.”

Reacting to a local news report asserting that the United States has been collecting data on telephone calls and e-mail traffic in Brazil, the foreign minister, Antonio Patriota, said Sunday that his government would pursue United Nations measures “to impede abuses and protect the privacy” of international Internet communications to “guarantee cybersecurity that protects the rights of citizens.”

Mr. Patriota said that his government was taking action because of its “deep concern at the report that electronic and telephone communications of Brazilian citizens are being the object of espionage by organs of American intelligence.” For the same reason, he added, Brazil has also “asked for clarifications” from the American government.

The report on the American monitoring of Brazilian communications was published by O Globo, the main daily newspaper here, and said it was based on documents from Edward J. Snowden, the fugitive contractor for the National Security Agency. His disclosures have ruffled relations between the United States and an array of its allies and adversaries, including China, Russia, Europe and a widening swath of Latin America.

In a posting Sunday for the British newspaper The Guardian, Glenn Greenwald, one of the writers of the O Globo article, said that “the N.S.A. has for years systematically tapped into the Brazilian telecommunications network and indiscriminately intercepted, collected and stored the mail and telephone records of millions of Brazilians.”

Later Sunday, Brazilian news organizations began reporting that the country’s Federal Police and national communications authority would investigate to see if companies here cooperated.

American officials here declined to comment on the report. But the Office of the Director of National Intelligence issued a statement saying that “we have made clear that the United States gathers foreign intelligence of the type gathered by all nations.”

Any American interference in communications here would be a delicate matter, even if Brazil’s president, Dilma Rousseff, were not scheduled to make a state visit to the United States in October. The United States supported and aided the coup that brought the military to power here in 1964, beginning a 21-year dictatorship that routinely tapped the telephones and intercepted the mail of both Brazilians and foreigners thought to be in opposition to the government.

****************

NSA and GCHQ spy programmes face legal challenge

Privacy campaigners file claim saying laws used to justify data trawling by Prism and Tempora programmes are being abused

Nick Hopkins   
guardian.co.uk, Monday 8 July 2013 12.00 BST      

The British and US spy programmes that allow intelligence agencies to gather, store and share data on millions of people have been challenged in a legal claim brought by privacy campaigners.

Papers filed on Monday call for an immediate suspension of Britain's use of material from the Prism programme, which is run by America's National Security Agency.

They also demand a temporary injunction to the Tempora programme, which allows Britain's spy centre GCHQ to harvest millions of emails, phone calls and Skype conversations from the undersea cables that carry internet traffic in and out of the country.

Lawyers acting for the UK charity Privacy International say the programme is not necessary or proportionate. They say the laws being used to justify mass data trawling are being abused by intelligence officials and ministers, and need to be urgently reviewed.

Privacy International has submitted a claim to the Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT), which is supposed to review all complaints about the conduct of Britain's spy agencies. The organisation hopes for a public hearing and early rulings because of the seriousness of the situation.

The group was prompted into legal action by the US whistleblower Edward Snowden and the leak of top secret papers he gave to the Guardian. This led to a series of stories about the extent of modern-day surveillance and the disclosure of activities that have provoked a worldwide debate about the behaviour of western intelligence agencies.

In a 22-page statement of grounds, Privacy International refers to the Prism programme, which allows the NSA to intercept the communications of non-US citizens living outside America from global internet companies such as Google, Facebook and Yahoo.

The Guardian revealed that some of this information has been shared with GCHQ. So far the government has refused to say under what legal authority this has been done – if GCHQ had wanted to get this material for itself in the UK, it would have to apply under the Regulatory of Investigatory Powers act (Ripa) for a warrant from a minister.

Campaigners fear Britain is circumventing its own rules to make it easier to get intelligence, and that the emails and calls of Britons are almost certainly being swept up by the NSA.

"The contents of an individual's phone calls and emails and the websites they visit can be information of a obviously private nature," the claim says.

"If UK authorities are to be permitted to access such information in relation to those located in the UK in secret and without their knowledge or consent, the European convention on human rights (ECHR) requires there to be a legal regime in place which contains sufficient safeguards against abuse of power and arbitrary use. There is no such regime."

In modern communications, emails and phone calls made in the UK pass electronically through the US and can be intercepted by the NSA.

"Through their access to the US programme, UK authorities are able to obtain private information about UK citizens without having to comply with any requirements of Ripa," the claim argues.

The second ground focuses on Tempora, a system that stores for up to 30 days vast quantities of data drawn from undersea internet cables.

The Guardian revealed this programme is part of an over-arching project at GCHQ called "Mastering the Internet". The data is shared with NSA and by last year 550 analysts from both countries were filtering through the contents.

Privacy International argues this amounts to "blanket surveillance".

"Such surveillance cannot be justified as a proportionate response to a legitimate aim. Bulk interception of communications and bulk inspection of such data is disproportionate interference with the rights guaranteed by article 8 of the ECHR, and it is not being undertaken pursuant to a legal regime containing sufficient safeguards to render it in accordance with the law."

The claim says Ripa "does not provide sufficiently specific or clear authorisation for such wide-ranging and universal interception of communications, nor any sufficient or proper safeguards against misuse that are known and available to the public".

Carly Nyst, the head of international advocacy at Privacy International, said the group had wanted to bring the legal challenge through a normal court so the arguments could be heard in public.

But the British government had insisted the group go through the IPT, which has only ever upheld 10 complaints against any of the agencies from more than 1,000 cases.

"We have been forced to take our concerns to a secret tribunal, the IPT," she said. " It shouldn't be a surprise. Why would the government want their dirty laundry aired in public when it can be handled by a quasi-judicial body that meets and deliberates in secret, the decisions of which are neither public nor appealable to any higher authority?"

She added: "In one of the world's most respected and stable democracies, there exists a system of 'oversight' that would be at home in any authoritarian regime. A public debate about the covert activities of British intelligence services is drastically needed and long overdue."

Eric King, head of research at Privacy International, added: "One of the underlying tenets of law in a democratic society is the accessibility and foreseeability of a law. If there is no way for citizens to know of the existence, interpretation, or execution of a law, then the law is effectively secret. And secret law is not law. It is a fundamental breach of the social contract if the government can operate with unrestrained power in such an arbitrary fashion."

The civil rights group Liberty has also made a complaint to the IPT. It believes that its own electronic communications and those of its staff may have been unlawfully intercepted by the security services and GCHQ.

**********

 SPIEGEL ONLINE
07/07/2013 02:59 PM

GCHQ Surveillance: The Power of Britain's Data Vacuum

By Christian Stöcker

Britain's intelligence service stores millions of bits of online data in Internet buffers. In SPIEGEL, Edward Snowden explains GCHQ's "full take" approach. All data that travels through the UK is captured.

In an interview published in the latest edition of SPIEGEL, National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden reports on how America's NSA intelligence service works together with Germany's federal intelligence agency, the BND, more intensively than previously known.

He also provides an in-depth account of the surveillance operations of the NSA and its British counterpart, the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ). Britain's Tempora system is the signal intelligence community's first "full-take Internet buffer," Snowden said in an interview.

The scope of this "full take" system is vast. According to the whistleblower and Britain's Guardian newspaper, Tempora stores communications data for up to 30 days and saves the content of those messages for up to three days, in a so-called Internet buffer. "It snarfs everything, in a rolling buffer to allow retroactive investigation without missing a single bit," Snowden said. If you send a single data packet, he further explains, "and it routes through the UK, we get it."

Asked if it is possible to get around this total surveillance of all Internet communication, he said: "As a general rule, so long as you have any choice at all, you should never route through or peer with the UK under any circumstances."

But is that a realistic scenario? Can one really escape the British data vaccuum cleaner by channelling one's own Internet data parcels through lines that are out of reach of British security authorities?

"There is no way that you as an ordinary Internet user can say: I want my data to be routed this or that way," said Philipp Blank of German telecommunications company Deutsche Telekom. Klaus Landedfeld, a board member in charge of infrastructure and networks at the German Internet industry association Eco, agreed. "You've got no influence over that as the end-user." Theoretically, one could try to influence the data flow by changing one's telecommunications provider -- "not every undersea cable runs via Great Britain." But the providers constantly change the cables they send their customers' data through, he added.

In addition, many of the most important services for private Internet users are based in the United States. "You can't get around the American companies," said Landefeld. Anyone using Facebook, Google, Microsoft services, Skype, AOL services or Yahoo could be an open book for the NSA thanks to its Prism spying program, should the organization be interested in taking a look.

Companies Can 'Make Certain Choices'

For commercial clients, Landefeld considers it possible that they can find targeted pathways for their data. Such companies generally have tech experts and they can directly negotiate with service providers on bandwidth issues and access. "If you have enough knowhow and ability, you can make certain choices," he says.

Practically, however, it is likely to be virtually impossible that data sets can be sent somewhere through a cable to which NSA and GCHQ has no access. Most trans-Atlantic cables with significant capacity run through the British isles. In addition, most providers simultaneously use several different cables to protect themselves should one of the channels fail. Redundancy is the best protection against significant service disruption.

"Deutsche Telekom sends data via six different channels to North America," says Telekom spokesperson Blank. Multiple channels can even be involved in merely calling up a single website from a single computer. "Essentially, routers and switches make specific decisions for each connection," says Landefeld. When five images can be seen on a single site, it represents five different connections.

None of that changes the fact that the service provider has control abilities and can determine which paths certain data takes to reach its endpoint. But content and geography are not considered in making those determinations. "We manage traffic flows, but only based on what the fastest route is at that moment," says Blank. Theoretically, he says, "data packets could be marked and sent by routers via specific channels." But that is currently not the standard practice, he adds. Telekom is considering the possibility of so-called Managed Services for its video service T-Entertain, for example. At the moment, however, this method is not being used, according to Blank.

Could the state order telecommunications providers to not use connections that are currently considered to be insecure? No, says Landefeld. "The state cannot tell me as a provider which undersea cable I should use." German law, he says, does not allow such a thing.

***********

 SPIEGEL ONLINE
07/07/2013 08:36 AM

Snowden Interview: NSA and the Germans 'In Bed Together'

In an interview, Edward Snowden accuses the National Security Agency of partnering with Germany and other governments in its spying activities. New information also indicates close working ties between the German foreign intelligence agency and the American authority.

In an interview to be published in this week's issue of SPIEGEL, American intelligence agency whistleblower Edward Snowden criticizes the methods and power of the National Security Agency. Snowden said the NSA people are "in bed together with the Germans." He added that the NSA's "Foreign Affairs Directorate" is responsible for partnerships with other countries. The partnerships are organized in a way that authorities in other countries can "insulate their political leaders from the backlash" in the event it becomes public "how grievously they're violating global privacy." Telecommunications companies partner with the NSA and people are "normally selected for targeting" based on their "Facebook or webmail content."

The interview was conducted by American cryptography expert Jacob Appelbaum and documentary filmmaker Laura Poitras with the help of encrypted e-mails shortly before Snowden became known globally for his whistleblowing.

SPIEGEL reporting also indicates that cooperation between the NSA and Germany's foreign intelligence service, the BND, is more intensive than previously known. NSA, for example, provides "analysis tools" for the BND's signals monitoring of foreign data streams that travel through Germany. Among the BND's focuses are the Middle East route through which data packets from crisis regions travel. In total, SPIEGEL reported that the BND pulls data from five different nodes that are then analyzed at the foreign intelligence service's headquarters in Pullach near Munich. BND head Gerhard Schindler confirmed the partnership during a meeting with members of the German parliament's control committee for intelligence issues.

The Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, which is responsible for counter-espionage, is currently investigating whether the NSA has gained access to Internet traffic traveling through Germany. According to information provided by Hans-Georg Maassen, the president of the Office for the Protection of the Constitution, an initial analysis failed to provide clarity on the issue. "So far, we have no information that Internet nodes in Germany have been spied on by the NSA," Maassen told SPIEGEL.

At the same time, a new US Army base being built in Germany that is also to be used by the NSA has been approved by German authorities. Currently, a new Consolidated Intelligence center is being built in Wiesbaden. The bug-proof offices and a high-tech control center are being built for $124 million. As soon as the Wiesbaden facility is completed, a complex currently being used in Darmstadt wil be closed. The facilities are being built exclusively by American citizens who have security clearances. Even the material being used to construct the buildings originates from the United States and is guarded throughout the shipping process to Germany.

**********

 SPIEGEL ONLINE
07/07/2013 07:30 PM

Snowden Claims: NSA Ties Put German Intelligence in Tight Spot

The German foreign intelligence service knew more about the activities of the NSA in Germany than previously known. "They're in bed together," Edward Snowden claims in an interview in SPIEGEL. The whistleblower also lodges fresh allegations against the British.

For weeks now, officials at intelligence services around the world have been in suspense as one leak after another from whistleblower Edward Snowden has been published. Be it America's National Security Agency, Britain's GCHQ or systems like Prism or Tempora, he has been leaking scandalous information about international spying agencies. In an interview published by SPIEGEL in its latest issue, Snowden provides additional details, describing the closeness between the US and German intelligence services as well as Britain's acquisitiveness when it comes to collecting data.

In Germany, reports of the United States' vast espionage activities have surprised and upset many, including politicians. But Snowden isn't buying the innocence of leading German politicians and government figures, who say that they were entirely unaware of the spying programs. On the contrary, the NSA people are "in bed together with the Germans," the whistleblower told American cryptography expert Jacob Appelbaum and documentary filmmaker Laura Poitras in an interview conducted with the help of encrypted emails shortly before Snowden became a globally recognized name.

Snowden describes the intelligence services partnerships in detail. The NSA even has a special department for such cooperation, the Foreign Affairs Directorate, he says. He also exposes a noteworthy detail about how government decision-makers are protected by these programs. The partnerships are organized in a way so that authorities in other countries can "insulate their political leaders from the backlash" in the event it becomes public "how grievously they're violating global privacy," the former NSA employee says.

Intensive Cooperation with Germany

SPIEGEL reporting also indicates that cooperation between the NSA and Germany's foreign intelligence service, the BND, is more intensive than previously known. The NSA, for example, provides "analysis tools" for the BND to monitor signals from foreign data streams that travel through Germany. Among the BND's focuses are the Middle East route through which data packets from crisis regions travel.

BND head Gerhard Schindler confirmed the partnership during a recent meeting with members of the German parliament's control committee for intelligence issues.

But it's not just the BND's activities that are the focus of the interview with Snowden.

The 30-year-old also provides new details about Britain's Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ). He says that Britain's Tempora system is the signal intelligence community's first "full-take Internet buffer," meaning that it saves all of the data passing through the country.

Data Remains Buffered for Three Days

The scope of this "full take" system is vast. According to Snowden and Britain's Guardian newspaper, Tempora stores communications data for up to 30 days and saves all content for up to three days in a so-called Internet buffer. "It snarfs everything in a rolling buffer to allow retroactive investigation without missing a single bit," Snowden says.

Asked if it is possible to get around this total surveillance of all Internet communication, he says: "As a general rule, so long as you have any choice at all, you should never route through or peer with the UK under any circumstances."

In other words, Snowden says, one can only prevent GCHQ from accessing their data if they do not send any information through British Internet lines or servers. However, German Internet experts believe this would be almost impossible in practice.

Metadata Provide Orientation in Sea of Data

The attempt to conduct total data retention is noteworthy because most of the leaks so far in the spying scandal have pertained to so-called metadata. In the interview, Snowden reiterates just how important metadata -- which can include telephone numbers, IP addresses and connection times, for example -- really are. "In most cases, content isn't as valuable as metadata," Snowden says.

Those in possession of metadata can determine who has communicated with whom. And using the metadata, they can determine which data sets and communications content they would like to take a closer look at. "The metadata tells you what out of their data stream you actually want," Snowden says.

It is becoming increasingly clear to recognize the way in which surveillance programs from the NSA and GCHQ -- including Prism, Tempora and Boundless Informant -- cooperate. The metadata provides analysts with tips on which communications and content might be interesting. Then, Snowden says, with the touch of a button they can then retrieve or permanently collect the full content of communications that have already been stored for a specific person or group, or they can collect future communications. But a person can also be "selected for targeting based on, for example, your Facebook or webmail content."


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« Reply #7374 on: Jul 08, 2013, 06:24 AM »

July 4, 2013

Hints of Personal Intrigue In Czech Graft Scandal

IHT
By DAN BILEFSKY

PRAGUE — He is a bespectacled, churchgoing physicist and father of four nicknamed “Mr. Clean Hands” who had been elected prime minister by promising to sweep out a culture of cronyism and corruption from politics. She is a glamorous and ambitious single mother of two who rose from small-town payroll clerk to become part of his inner circle.

Now, both the departing prime minister, Petr Necas, and his chief of staff, Jana Nagyova, are embroiled in a political scandal that has riveted the Czech Republic. It has already polarized the political class and brought down the government after the biggest anticorruption operation in decades turned up $8 million in cash and stores of gold that prosecutors suspect were used in kickback schemes — and the investigations are not done yet.

The scandal, which forced Mr. Necas’s resignation last month and led to charges against Ms. Nagyova, has marked a stunning fall from grace for a prime minister with a once irreproachable reputation. It has also demonstrated, depending on the view, either the impenetrable depths of corruption in a still-young democracy, or a striking blow against the kinds of graft that have permeated many of the post-Communist states of Eastern and Central Europe.

Among the most tantalizing disclosures so far: links, revealed in wiretaps, between Ms. Nagyova and some of the country’s most influential lobbyists, known as “the godfathers,” but also a more personal embarrassment. She used the country’s secret intelligence service to spy on Mr. Necas’s wife, with whom he is in the midst of a divorce.

Ms. Nagyova’s lawyer told the Czech news media that she had ordered the surveillance to protect Mr. Necas’s wife, who, the lawyer said, had come under the influence of a religious group. But it was enough to further fan rumors that Ms. Nagyova and her former boss had a romantic relationship. (Her lawyer has characterized the relationship as “intimate.”)

The latest chapter in the political drama unfolded in mid-June when 400 police officers and members of an elite organized crime squad were summoned here to Prague, the capital, for what several officers said they were told would be a day of rigorous physical training. Instead, when they arrived they were handed black masks and instructions for secret raids in which nine officials close to the prime minister, including Ms. Nagyova and the current and former heads of military intelligence, were arrested.

Ms. Nagyova was charged with abuse of office and bribing three members of Parliament, who opposed a government austerity plan, with offers of posts in state-owned companies. She faces five years in jail if convicted. Her lawyer declined to be interviewed, but has been quoted in the Czech news media saying Ms. Nagyova did not commit any crimes.

Mr. Necas has not been charged with any crime. But prosecutors say they are investigating his possible role in the alleged political corruption, and on Tuesday, Mr. Necas asked the state attorney to question him in the bribery case. Mr. Necas has denied any wrongdoing. “I am personally convinced that I did not do anything dishonest and that my colleagues have not done anything dishonest, either,” he said after the arrests.

According to a senior law enforcement official who is familiar with the investigation, Mr. Necas can be heard sobbing in wiretapped conversations as Ms. Nagyova presses him to find state positions for the legislators. “I don’t want to suffer this pressure anymore,” he is heard pleading, according to the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the investigation is continuing.

Jan Zahradil, a senior member of Mr. Necas’s party, the Civic Democrats, who has known the prime minister for decades, suggested that the problems were rooted in the hubris of a leader who had come under the sway of an ambitious woman.

“It’s about the personal and psychological failings of a man, a prime minister, who was not able to curb a woman who became hungry with power,” he said of Mr. Necas. “He is so humiliated. He is finished.”

When Ms. Nagyova’s home was searched last month, the police discovered receipts for Louis Vuitton handbags totaling 120,000 euros, about $154,000. Her colleagues called her “czarina” because of her expensive tastes and obsessive control over the prime minister.

Ms. Nagyova’s meteoric rise began in 2005 when she moved to Prague to work at the Civic Democratic Party’s headquarters. There she met Mr. Necas, then deputy chairman of the party.

When Mr. Necas was appointed minister of labor and social affairs in 2006, he made Ms. Nagyova his chief of staff. After Mr. Necas became prime minister in 2010, the two became inseparable, former colleagues say.

Early in 2012, Mr. Necas sought to justify hefty bonuses for Ms. Nagyova, claiming that “she works like a horse.” However, some began to question the prime minister’s judgment.

“She was autocratic and was notorious for firing people for no reason. She didn’t want any other woman within a 20-kilometer radius of the prime minister,” said Karolina Peake, the deputy prime minister. Ms. Peake said Ms. Nagyova had made her work in a shabby office on a different street from where other senior government officials worked.

Prosecutors say Ms. Nagyova’s dealings with lobbyists are also coming under close scrutiny. They said they were examining whether cash discovered in safe deposit boxes during the raids could be linked to Roman Janousek, an influential lobbyist nicknamed “Lord Voldemort” by the Czech news media, after the villain in the Harry Potter series.

Mr. Janousek’s lawyer said he had been unable to reach his client. Mr. Necas told the Czech news Web site Lidovky.cz that he had asked Ms. Nagyova to gain the trust of Mr. Janousek and another lobbyist so he could monitor their activities.

Critics have characterized the anticorruption operation as mere theater by overzealous law enforcement officials aimed at appeasing a public so fed up with graft that people often refer to Marianske Square, home to Prague’s ornate City Hall, as Mafianske Square.

Ivo Istvan, the chief prosecutor in the case, said in an interview that aggressively investigating the possible trading of political favors could forever alter parliamentary politics in this young democracy. “This case can be a breakthrough,” he said.

Some here have said the country’s extensive corruption is a product of the privatizations of the 1990s, when the lines between government and business interests became blurred. But anticorruption experts also said widespread graft was a lingering byproduct of decades of occupation — by everyone from the Nazis to Communists — that had nurtured a culture in which it was acceptable to steal from a mistrusted state.

Ms. Peake, who was in charge of fighting corruption, said the latest scandal was a tipping point. “There is the realization that if corruption is not stopped, people will stop believing in democracy,” she said. “This case has shown that no one is free from the hands of justice.”


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« Reply #7375 on: Jul 08, 2013, 06:25 AM »

July 7, 2013

For Roma, a Steppingstone to Graduate School

By CHRISTOPHER F. SCHUETZE
IHT

BUDAPEST — In an imposing prewar building, political science students discussed serious issues like terrorist attacks and the difference between state and nonstate actors, as well as more practical ones, like how to hook up a digital projector.

The students at the Roma Graduate Preparation Program at the Central European University in Hungary were also practicing their English, the language that will be essential to their future study and work, even though they were brought up speaking Serbian, Hungarian, Macedonian, Romanian, Albanian, Slovakian and various Romany tongues.

“If they want to get into any position or jobs in which they have an impact, they have to speak English,” said Matyas Szabo, director of the program.

Europe’s estimated 12 million Roma — previously called Gypsies, which is considered a derogatory term — occupy an uneasy place on the Continent. Many Roma were persecuted during the Holocaust, and today many suffer from low education levels, poverty and social problems.

In the past few months in France, a number of Roma encampments have been dismantled by the police, while another Roma shelter, a disused factory, was set on fire.

In some Central European nations, there are reports of schools segregating Roma students, keeping them out of the playgrounds and school cafeterias used by the non-Roma majority.

And in some parts of Eastern Europe, Roma students are disproportionately placed in special-needs or remedial schools, with few having access to higher education.

The C.E.U.’s Roma Graduate Preparation Program is trying to address some of those issues by encouraging the brightest to pursue higher degrees.

Up to 17 students are accepted into the full-time, 10-month program, which is designed to help Roma students with bachelor degrees enter English-language graduate programs at C.E.U. and other universities. It covers tuition, housing and some living costs, and also holds events to encourage socializing and networking.

“Here you have to go to lectures and you have to be active — this is the biggest difference,” said Roland Ferkovcs, one of the students in the political science seminar. At the University of Szeged in Hungary, where Mr. Ferkovcs earned his undergraduate degree in political science, students were not encouraged to ask questions or participate in class, he said.

But at C.E.U., students learn to read critically, analyze academic texts and engage with their professors, all skills required for postgraduate studies at Western universities.

While many of the Roma students have degrees from technical or regional colleges, they would probably not be accepted into the more competitive graduate programs without extra preparation, said Prem Kumar Rajaram, academic director of the Roma Graduate Preparation Program.

“They wouldn’t get in even if they had perfect English,” said David Ridout, who runs the Academic Writing Center at the university.

Those who do well in preparatory classes will have support and reference letters from C.E.U. staff and faculty members. But the final admission decisions for master’s programs at the university are still independent.

The funding — about €500,000, or $650,000, a year — comes mostly from private donors and businesses, and determines the number of spots available.

“The alumni are the ones that are helping the most,” said Georgeta Munteanu, one of the program’s administrators.

The program has become a de facto hub for an elite group of young Roma intellectuals. Over nine years, the program has enrolled nearly 100 students from 14 countries.

Many have gone on to graduate work at C.E.U., while others have headed to Switzerland, Britain and the United States.

Each year, one alumnus is sent to work at the U.S. Congress as a Lantos legislative fellow.

In 2011, the university added an additional English program for otherwise qualified Roma students struggling with the language, to enable them to enter the graduate preparation course. Many participants go from speaking poor English to doing graduate-level work within two years.

Idaver Memedov, who graduated in 2006 from the Roma Graduate Preparation Program always felt strongly about being a Roma, though he said his identity was defined by being a Roma in Macedonia. Living and learning with Roma from other countries led him to discover the broader community.

Before attending the program, “I didn’t have access to Roma people from abroad,” he said. “There are more things that are common for us than there are differences.”

After the program, Mr. Memedov earned a master’s in public policy at C.E.U. A job at the European Center for Minority Issues in Budapest led him to his current position as an officer on Roma and Sinti issues at the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe in Warsaw.

Paradoxically, it is the English language that helps build a transnational Roma community.

Speaking in English, Rita Izsak told students at C.E.U., most of them from Eastern Europe, about her own upbringing as a Roma in Hungary and her job as an independent expert on minority issues for the U.N. Human Rights Council.

She compared the Roma’s struggles for recognition in Europe to the U.S. civil rights movement in the 1950s and ’60s and described seeing a photograph of Martin Luther King Jr. in a classroom in the United States.

“I wonder whose picture we would hang on the wall,” she said.


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« Reply #7376 on: Jul 08, 2013, 06:26 AM »

 SPIEGEL ONLINE
07/08/2013 11:36 AM

Second Chance?: German Defense Minister Favored to Head NATO

Defense Minister Thomas de Maizière is having a tough time in Germany these days, but he may get a second chance in Brussels. SPIEGEL has learned he is a leading contender to become the next NATO secretary general.

At home, German Defense Minister Thomas de Maizière is under fire. His ministry recently was forced to abandon a contract for surveillance drones, squandering over €500 million ($641 million) in taxpayer money. There are also massive financial and quality problems with his ministry's efforts to purchase Eurofighter jets, a program estimated to be billions of euros over budget. The government's accounting office has targeted additional Defense Ministry programs as well.

But there may be a light at the end of the tunnel for the beleaguered politician, a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel's center-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU). SPIEGEL has learned from sources that de Maizière is currently a promising candidate to succeed Denmark's Anders Fogh Rasmussen as the next general secretary of NATO. Rasmussen's term ends in the summer of 2014.

Within de Maizière's ministry, the Chancellery and NATO headquarters, officials have indicated that the 59-year-old may make a bid for the post after this autumn's federal elections in Germany.

Senior Statesmen

Other countries that are members of the military alliance have also signalled interest in fielding candidates, but of the possible successors so far discussed, the German politician is believed to have the best chances. The United States would be uneasy with the choice of former Polish defense and current Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski. Former Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini is considered too close to Silvio Berlusconi to be widely acceptable -- and the fact that he is no longer in government is another possible strike against him.

Other possible candidates include Belgian Defense Minister Pieter De Crem, who officials within NATO consider to be one of the most experienced politicians. However, it is unlikely he would prevail in direct competition with de Maizière given that Germany is the second biggest funder of NATO after the United States. The last time a German ran NATO was from 1988 to 1994, when Manfred Wörner, a foreign policy expert with the CDU, headed up the alliance.

Former Danish Prime Minister Rasmussen has served as NATO general secretary since 2009. Rasmussen's term was extended for one year in 2012 because the 60-year-old politician wanted to remain at the helm to oversee the withdrawal of NATO forces from Afghanistan, as well as the transition of responsibility for security in the country to the Afghan army and police.

The criteria for selection of a NATO secretary general is that the person "is a senior statesman from a NATO member country."


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« Reply #7377 on: Jul 08, 2013, 06:32 AM »

Leftist lawyer Bahaa Eldin a top choice to assume Egypt’s presidency

By Agence France-Presse
Sunday, July 7, 2013 20:42 EDT

Egypt’s interim president will likely appoint centre-left business lawyer Ziad Bahaa Eldin as prime minister within 24 hours, a presidential aide told AFP on Sunday.

The president, Adly Mansour, was also leaning towards picking Nobel Laureate Mohamed ElBaradei as vice president, after Islamists objected to an initial proposal to appoint ElBaradei as prime minister.

“The president is leaning towards appointing Bahaa Eldin and ElBaradei,” Mansour’s media advisor Ahmed al-Muslimani told AFP.

He said a final decision would be announced “tomorrow”.

If confirmed, Mansour has gone for a technocrat without the baggage of ElBaradei, whose candidacy outraged Salafi Islamists in a loose coalition that backed president Mohamed Morsi’s overthrow by the military on Wednesday.

The Salafis say ElBaradei, viewed as an ardent secularist and top opponent to Islamist Morsi, would have been a divisive premier.

The son of a prominent lawyer, Bahaa Eldin would be handed the enormous task of bringing a semblance of unity to the new Egypt four days after the military ousted Morsi.

Eldin has a long and distinguished career as a business lawyer.

He has worked for a string of law firms, including in Washington, before becoming an adviser to the Egyptian economics ministry in 1997.

The father of two boys entered politics in 2011 after the 2011 Arab Spring-inspired revolution that toppled longtime autocratic president Hosni Mubarak.

News of his likely appointment follows a day of confusion about who will serve as interim prime minister, after the Salafist Al-Nour party refused that the job be given to former UN watchdog chief ElBaradei.

*************

 SPIEGEL ONLINE
07/08/2013 12:26 PM

Interview with Egyptian Politician ElBaradei: 'This Was Not a Coup'

Nobel Peace Prize laureate and Egyptian politician Mohamed ElBaradei believes last week's military intervention in Egypt was necessary. In an interview with SPIEGEL he explains why and argues that deposed president Mohammed Morsi was bad for the country.

SPIEGEL: Mr. ElBaradei, you opposed the authoritarian rule of former President Hosni Mubarak. Now, it appears that you will play a significant role in the interim government put in place after military leaders overthrew the democratically elected president of Egypt. Should a Nobel Peace Prize laureate be part of such a coup?

ElBaradei: Let me make one thing clear: This was not a coup. More than 20 million people took to the streets because the situation was no longer acceptable. Without Morsi's removal from office, we would have been headed toward a fascist state, or there would have been a civil war. It was a painful decision. It was outside the legal framework, but we had no other choice.

SPIEGEL: Are mass demonstrations in Egypt more important than democratic rules? Is the message supposed to be that the street carries more weight than the parliament?

ElBaradei: No. But we didn't have a parliament. We only had a president who may have been elected democratically but who governed autocratically and violated the spirit of democracy. Morsi had targeted the judiciary, pressured the media and hollowed out rights for women and religious minorities. He abused his office to put his Muslim Brothers in key positions. He stepped on all universal values. And he drove his country into economic ruin.

SPIEGEL: Still, it was bizarre to see you sitting behind General Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, the general who led the coup, together with Coptic Christians and radical Salafists.

ElBaradei: As you said, I was standing with the Coptic Pope as well as the Grand Imam of al-Azhar. Clearly something was terribly wrong with the country that needed to be fixed.

SPIEGEL: No matter how you justify the military's approach, it isn't democratic.

ElBaradei: You cannot apply your high standards to a country burdened with decades of autocratic rule. Our democracy is still in its infancy.

SPIEGEL: Can that justify the fact that hundreds of members of the Muslim Brotherhood are now in custody and the president was placed under house arrest? Many are calling it a witch hunt on the Islamists.

ElBaradei: It cannot come to that, and the military has assured me that there were no arbitrary arrests. For days, I have been demanding that we include the Brotherhood in the process of democratization. No one should be put on trial without a valid reason. Former President Morsi must be treated with dignity. These are the conditions of national reconciliation.

SPIEGEL: Many fear that the opposite is the case. In a SPIEGEL interview last year, you warned against the threat of a civil war.

ElBaradei: Which I saw coming. The military intervention was necessary, precisely so as to avoid a bloody confrontation. Even if emotions are running high, I hope that the threat of civil war has been averted.

SPIEGEL: Aren't you underestimating the Muslim Brotherhood's outrage and that of its millions of supporters? Why should they be interested in participating in elections anymore?

ElBaradei: Egypt is indeed deeply divided. Without reconciliation we have no future. The Muslim Brotherhood is an important part of our society. I very much hope that it will participate in the next round of talks. I will be the first to protest if the imperative of fairness isn't adhered to.

SPIEGEL: But wasn't it violated long ago?

ElBaradei: When I asked the generals, they assured me that many of the reports about arrests are untrue and that the numbers had been greatly exaggerated. They said that when there were arrests, they were made for good reasons, such as illegal weapons possession. And the Islamist TV stations were closed because they were fomenting unrest with their fatwas.

SPIEGEL: Aren't you putting too much trust in the military, given that it has often pursued its own interests in Egypt?

ElBaradei: The military did not force its way into power this time. It has no interest in taking an forward role in politics. The generals are aware that they are historically partly to blame for the disaster in which the country now finds itself. That's why I too don't absolve the army of responsibility.

SPIEGEL: But does the military listen to you? Aren't you concerned about being misused as a fig leaf?

ElBaradei: It's not a question of blind faith. The next meeting with the generals has already been scheduled, and at least they're listening to me. But the military doesn't get a free pass from me, either. My red line is this: I don't align myself with anyone who ignores tolerance and democracy. And they know that.

SPIEGEL: Is there a plan for the transition period?

ElBaradei: It's difficult to draw such a road map in advance. But there should be democratic elections in no more than a year. We need a new constitution that cannot be abused, and that establishes equality and freedom for each individual. I will be involved in drafting it. And we need functioning institutions, an independent judiciary and a separation of powers.

SPIEGEL: US President Barack Obama and US Secretary of State John Kerry called you and treated you like the future president.

ElBaradei: Yes, I spoke with both of them extensively and tried to convince them of the need to depose Morsi. But I don't see myself in the role of the future president. I want to use my influence to bring Egyptians together and help them reconcile -- as an eminence grise, if you will.

SPIEGEL: German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle is using the phrase "severe setback for democracy" to describe what most German politicians call a military coup. How do you intend to regain the lost trust of your partners in the West?

ElBaradei: The Germans should be the first to sympathize with us. They know how difficult it is to build a democracy following a dictatorship, and they were the first to be critical of Morsi's anti-democratic policies. Let me remind you of the employees of political foundations that were hauled into court during Morsi's rule. We are hoping for financial support from Berlin, but also for advice in developing our institutions in order to bridge the period until we have a new president. The most important thing is to provide an economic outlook for the courageous young people who took to the streets in such great numbers to fight for more democracy.

SPIEGEL: If the Muslim Brotherhood runs in the next election and wins, would you accept one of their members as the country's new leader?

ElBaradei: Yes, if they commit themselves to democracy, and if we have a constitution and a parliament that will prevent them from abusing their power the way Morsi did.

Interview conducted by Dieter Bednarz and Erich Follath

Translated from the German by Christopher Sultan

***********

Egyptian security forces open fire in dawn raid on praying pro-Morsi supporters, 42 dead

By Agence France-Presse
Monday, July 8, 2013 3:36 EDT

At least 42 people were killed on Monday during an attack on supporters of ousted Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi outside an elite army base in Cairo, a senior medical official said.

“The death toll is 42 dead and 322 wounded,” Ahmed al-Ansari, the deputy head of emergency services, told AFP.

The Muslim Brotherhood, which has led pro-Morsi demonstrations, said 35 of its supporters were killed when police and troops fired at them while they were praying at dawn.

Witnesses, including Brotherhood supporters at the scene, said the army fired only tear gas and warning shots and that “thugs” in civilian clothes had carried out the deadly shooting.

Armed supporters of Morsi meanwhile seized two soldiers in Cairo, an army official said.

Both of the Egyptian soldiers, who were identified as Samir Abdallah Ali and Azzam Hazem Ali, were put in a vehicle and forced to make pro-Morsi and anti-army statements on a loudspeaker, the official said, cited by state news agency MENA.

************

Egypt's Salafist al-Nour party wields new influence on post-Morsi coalition

Al-Nour was an ally of the Muslim Brotherhood, but it is playing a crucial role in the coalition that has replaced Mohamed Morsi

Patrick Kingsley in Cairo
The Guardian, Sunday 7 July 2013 18.37 BST   

When General Abdel Fatah al-Sisi announced Mohamed Morsi's departure on Wednesday night in front of a panel of politicians and religious figures representing a cross-section of Egyptian society, there was one unlikely face behind him. It was the bearded Younes Makhyoun, chairman of Egypt's largest Salafi – or ultra-orthodox – political party, al-Nour.

Nine months ago, al-Nour was a key ally of Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood. Now it is the most unexpected player in the secular-leaning coalition guiding Egypt through its latest transition. In November it was seen as a crucial partner in the Brotherhood's Islamist-slanted constitution. But since January, in a shrewd display of political nous, it has distanced itself from Morsi. This culminated in its decision, alone among Salafi groups, to fence-sit during last Sunday's mass protests that eventually toppled Morsi from power.

By Wednesday, it was actively backing his removal – and by Saturday, it was playing a crucial role in the interim regime that has replaced him. The decision to delay Mohamed ElBaradei's appointment as prime minister was down to al-Nour believing he is too secular for its liking.

"They essentially have veto power over the coalition," said Shadi Hamid, director of research at the Brookings Doha centre and an expert on political Islam. "The new government needs al-Nour, as they need to be able to point to at least one Islamist party on their side. If they lose al-Nour, they will have thousands of al-Nour party supporters joining the Brotherhood in the streets."

Tens of thousands of pro-Morsi Islamists have protested against the ex-president's removal since Wednesday. But while al-Nour has manoeuvred itself into a position of strength in the offices of power, it may have done so at the expense of its grassroots support. During Egypt's last parliamentary elections, al-Nour's bloc emerged with nearly a quarter of the vote – second behind the Brotherhood's candidates. It was therefore envisaged that al-Nour stood to gain most from the Brotherhood's fall – as it was seen as the clean alternative for Islamist voters who were put off by the Brotherhood's machinations, but unwilling to reject political Islam.

But by rejecting Morsi, and by playing dirty with secular politicians, al-Nour risks alienating the very supporters who give it such clout at the top table of Egyptian politics. "They're playing a very risky game that might backfire on them," said Khalil al-Anani, an expert on Islamist politics in Egypt. "Many people are now accusing al-Nour of being a political animal, rather than a religious group."

In a telling gesture, one of Nour's leading figures, Sheikh Ahmed Aboul Enein, resigned from the party in protest at al-Nour's stance on the military takeover. "Many of al-Nour party youth are at home having a crisis of confidence," added Mostafa Sharky, editor of a Salafi news website. "The party's recent stance has harmed them a great deal."

"They're in a very difficult situation," said Hamid. "They were one of the only Salafi parties to back the coup. It doesn't sit well with Salafi rank and file to watch a fellow Islamist deposed. So you are seeing some divergence between the rank and file and its political leadership who have proved very nimble."

As a result, Sharky said, some young Salafis were already drifting away from al-Nour, and founding their own groups. "A lot of Salafis still have faith in the democratic process," Sharky said, but there are still fears that the fall of Egypt's first democratically elected president may put many off democracy. Over the weekend, hardline Islamists created the Egyptian chapter of Ansar al-Sharia – promising armed resistance against the country's new government.

Additional reporting by Mowaffaq Safadi


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« Reply #7378 on: Jul 08, 2013, 06:34 AM »


Sierra Leone's Irish alliance bodes well for women affected by violence

Ireland is supporting efforts to tackle gender-based violence in Sierra Leone and focus greater attention on women's rights

Lisa O'Carroll in Freetown, Sierra Leone   
guardian.co.uk, Monday 8 July 2013 12.39 BST   

The World Health Organisation recently trained the spotlight on gender-based violence, particularly in Africa, where almost half of all women will experience physical or sexual assault in their lifetime.

For Princess Squire, a counsellor, and her sister, Annie Mafinda, a midwife, this will come as no surprise. They run a sexual assault clinic at a maternity hospital in Freetown, Sierra Leone. Last year, they dealt with 1,000 cases, predominantly rape.

The number of people reporting assaults has more than doubled since the first of the country's three Rainbo centres opened in 2003, reflecting a growing awareness that violence against women is a punishable crime, and that women can access treatment.

"For more and more women, there is a realisation that what a man can do, a woman can do, so they won't accept what's gone on before," says Mafinda.
MDG rape centre in Sierra Leone Rainbo counsellor Princess Squire with her sister Annie, a midwife. Photograph: Lisa O'Carroll/guardian.co.uk

Historically, the tolerance of gender-based violence in Sierra Leone has been high. Cultural factors have shaped this trend, but efforts to shift attitudes were boosted in 2007 when, in one of three gender-related acts of parliament passed that year, domestic violence became a crime.

Ireland, which recently made Sierra Leone one of the nine key partner countries for Irish Aid, has singled out gender inequality and associated issues for long-term attention, focusing on rape crisis centres and strengthening the judicial system.

If reporting sexual violence is the first link in the justice chain, then the number of women passing through the Rainbo centres, which are funded by Irish Aid, is a measure of success.

But according to Sinead Walsh, the Irish chargé d'affaires in Freetown who oversees the country programme, creating a structure for reporting violence isn't enough in a republic where the judicial system had been decaying for decades even before the civil war. If the police, courts and civil service are not working together, all efforts are "handicapped" from the outset, says Walsh.

This is one reason why Irish Aid is spending part of its €2.1m (£1.7m) investment on Saturday courts around the country to deal exclusively with women, as part of a bid to reduce the backlog of cases.

"We started funding this last November because we were seeing a situation where the Rainbo centres were providing access to courts, but if the courts were not functioning well, we were leaving these women at a loss," says Walsh.

The scheme, which is part of the UN's improving the rule of law and access to justice programme, also involves monitoring and documenting the courts to help bed down procedures, and paralegal training for local community organisations to enable them to make interventions if due process is not being observed. In addition, standard operational procedures for police and training for 200 officers are being developed.

Yet this is the bare minimum to get rape and sexual assault treated with the seriousness they warrant, Walsh reiterates. "Three gender acts [were] passed in 2007, which is terrific progress, but their implementation is limited. It can often be something as simple as police not having the cars, trained personnel, [or even] the paper to do photocopies. That is why, when an act is passed, it is important that everyone sits down together and assesses what is needed to make it work."

One of the biggest challenges, says Walsh, is the lack of a skilled workforce. "There is a huge gap of skills in the civil service. You have some very strong people at the top and a huge amount of people at the lower level, but there is a big missing middle." The civil service as a whole has a quarter of the professional and technical level staff it needs, according to a recent World Bank study.

"We are enormously optimistic in the Irish government about the potential in Sierra Leone," says Walsh. "The government is doing a lot, donor co-ordination is strong, including a close group of four EU donors. Everybody is working together to rebuild the country."

Since the war, huge strides have been made in Sierra Leone. Stability and development have improved, and the economy is booming. The important thing, says Walsh, "is to focus in on the sometimes neglected issues such as gender equality and women's rights so that nobody gets left behind in the country's progress and everybody can contribute to building the future of Sierra Leone".


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« Reply #7379 on: Jul 08, 2013, 06:39 AM »

Libyan march demands end to militia violence

By Agence France-Presse
Sunday, July 7, 2013 18:07 EDT

Hundreds of demonstrators gathered in the Libyan capital on Sunday to demand the departure of militias and “illegitimate brigades” and the creation of an army and police force, an AFP journalist said.

The protesters thronged Algiers Square in the capital from mid-morning to demand the implementation of a General National Congress order for militias to withdraw from the city.

They chanted slogans against the presence of militiamen and weapons in the city.

“We want a regular army and police force!” and “No to arms!” and “Yes to legitimacy!” cried the demonstrators amid a heavy presence of militiamen who currently enforce the law.

Prime Minister Ali Zeidan, meanwhile, spoke to reporters of the necessity “to dissolve the brigades and other formations (of ex-rebels who battled the late Moamer Kadhafi) and integrate them individually into the army and police”.

“In future, no one will bear arms in Libya unless he is in the army or police and is subject to military law… which prevents the taking of political actions,” he told a news conference.

Libya’s authorities, who are struggling to form a professional army and police, regularly use former rebels to secure the borders or to intervene in tribal conflicts.

The government has failed to disarm and disband the former rebel groups who implement the law in parts of the country.

Last week, deadly clashes erupted between two armed groups in the Abu Slim district near the centre of the capital.


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