Pages: 1 ... 1018 1019 [1020] 1021 1022 ... 1363   Go Down
Author Topic: Pluto in Cap, the USA, the future of the world  (Read 1017353 times)
Most Active Member
Posts: 28048

« Reply #15285 on: Aug 31, 2014, 07:09 AM »

Iran says US sanctions will hinder nuclear talks

Foreign ministry warning follows US imposition of sanctions on more than 25 businesses, banks and individuals

Kevin Rawlinson and agencies, Saturday 30 August 2014 13.59 BST   

US sanctions against Iran will hinder talks over the country's nuclear programme, the Iranian foreign ministry has warned. The comments came as Iran's president, Hassan Rouhani, said the country should "resist" the measures.

On Friday, the US imposed sanctions on more than 25 businesses, banks and individuals it suspected of working to expand Iran's nuclear programme, support terrorism and help Iran evade existing sanctions.

The measures bar Americans from engaging in transactions with any of the designated parties, freeze their assets and block their property under US jurisdiction.

Iran's foreign ministry spokesman Marzieh Afkham said the new sanctions would jeopardise a nuclear deal between Iran and world powers, the official IRNA news agency reported on Saturday.

"These actions have a negative and non-constructive impact on the trend of the talks. The Islamic Republic of Iran rejects any unilateral and self-serving interpretation of last year's Geneva deal," she said. "Iran strongly believes that the sanctions are against commitments made by the United States under the Geneva deal."

Rouhani also attacked the sanctions, saying they were an "invasion of the Iranian nation". He said: "We should resist the invasion and put the invaders in their place. We should not allow the continuation and repetition of the invasion."

Iran's state television also said the move violated an interim agreement reached with world powers under which western nations agreed to ease sanctions in exchange for Iran curbing its nuclear activities. However, Friday's action did not constitute an expansion of the sanctions regime, but rather the enforcement of existing sanctions.

Western nations have long suspected Iran of covertly seeking a nuclear weapons capability alongside its civilian programme, a charge denied by Tehran, which insists its programme is for entirely peaceful purposes, like power generation and the production of medical isotopes.

Iran and the P5+1 group of world powers – the US, Britain, France, China and Russia, plus Germany – hope to reach a comprehensive nuclear agreement by November that would address western concerns about the nuclear programme and lift crippling international sanctions on Tehran.

Rouhani, a reputed moderate, was elected last year after promising to engage the west diplomatically in order to get the sanctions lifted. But he has faced criticism from hardliners who say he has conceded too much in the nuclear talks.

* Hassan-Rouhani-011.jpg (41.97 KB, 460x276 - viewed 10 times.)
Most Active Member
Posts: 28048

« Reply #15286 on: Aug 31, 2014, 07:11 AM »

Pakistani Opposition Clashes With the Police

AUG. 30, 2014

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Clashes broke out in the Pakistani capital on Saturday night after thousands of protesters led by two opposition leaders tried to march toward the residence of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

The two opposition leaders, Imran Khan, a charismatic former cricket star, and Muhammad Tahir-ul Qadri, an influential cleric, said they planned to protest outside the prime minister’s home, which is on a hill overlooking the capital. Armed with sticks and batons, many wearing gas masks, the protesters tried to break through police cordons and attempted to remove shipping containers, which had blocked a road leading to the prime minister’s house, with the help of a big crane.

Thousands of protesters have been camping out in Islamabad since Mr. Khan and Mr. Qadri led two separate marches on the capital from Lahore. They have been demanding Mr. Sharif’s resignation and the dissolution of the national and provincial assemblies. Mr. Khan is demanding new elections; Mr. Qadri wants an interim unity government to run the country as well as ambitious economic and political overhauls.

The government has agreed to consider changes to the country’s contentious electoral system and open an independent investigation into allegations of rigging in last year’s general elections, one of Mr. Khan’s criticisms of Mr. Sharif. But ruling party members say their opponents need to drop their demands for Mr. Sharif’s resignation.

Mr. Sharif said Saturday that he would not resign and called the demands to do so by his opponents “unacceptable” and “unconstitutional.”

The march on Saturday came after talks broke down between the government and representatives of Mr. Khan and Mr. Qadri.

“Nawaz Sharif should step down as prime minister to take the country out of this deadlock,” said Shah Mehmood Qureshi, a senior leader of Mr. Khan’s political party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf, while talking to local news media late Saturday evening. “We want to break the political impasse. The sticking point is the prime minister’s resignation.”

Before their supporters charged toward the heavily guarded government building, both Mr. Khan and Mr. Qadri said that they would remain peaceful. “I am a decent man,” Mr. Qadri said in a speech to his supporters. “I have been fighting for peace. I have lived for peace. I will die for peace. There will be no violence at all,” he said. Mr. Khan warned security forces not to stop the marchers from assembling outside the prime minister’s residence.

But violence soon erupted after some protesters tried to enter the premises of the presidency, which is nearby, and clashed with the police; according to some local news media reports, the first tear-gas canisters were used by security forces deployed inside the premier’s official residence. Police officers wielding batons charged the crowd to disperse the protesters. There were also news reports about the use of rubber bullets that could not be independently verified.

Several protesters were seen throwing stones at the police with slingshots. The barrage of tear-gas canisters sent the protesters scrambling for cover as Constitution Avenue, in front of Mr. Sharif’s house, was enveloped in clouds of smoke.

Rescue workers said at least 70 people, including 20 police officials, were wounded and moved to hospitals in the capital.

Khawaja Muhammad Asif, the Pakistani defense minister, said the government was compelled to use force after protesters tried to storm important buildings that symbolized the state.

“They violated the last line that we had drawn,” Mr. Asif said. “Negotiations cannot go on when a gun is pointed at our temples.”

Mr. Khan condemned the use of force by the police and urged his followers across the country to take to the streets on Sunday in protest.
Most Active Member
Posts: 28048

« Reply #15287 on: Aug 31, 2014, 07:15 AM »

China rules out open elections in Hong Kong

Democracy activists prepare protests after standing committee says it will select candidates for leader of Chinese territory

Associated Press in Beijing, Sunday 31 August 2014 11.16 BST

China's legislature has ruled against allowing open nominations in elections for Hong Kong's leader, a decision that promises to ignite political tensions in the Asian financial hub.

The legislature's standing committee ruled that all candidates for chief executive must receive more than half of the votes from a special nominating body before going before voters.

Hong Kong democracy activists have held protests calling for genuine democracy in the Chinese territory, over concerns that candidates would continue to be screened to assess their loyalty to Beijing. They see the nominating committee as beholden to Chinese leaders.

Li Fei, deputy secretary general of the National People's Congress's standing committee, told a news conference that openly nominating candidates would create a "chaotic society".

"These rights come from laws, they don't come from the sky," he said. "Many Hong Kong people have wasted a lot of time discussing things that are not appropriate and aren't discussing things that are appropriate."

In its decision, the committee said: "Since the long-term prosperity and stability of Hong Kong and the sovereignty, security and development interests of the country are at stake, there is a need to proceed in a prudent and steady manner."

It said the 1,200-member nominating committee would select two or three candidates. After one is selected through universal suffrage, the chief executive-elect "will have to be appointed by the central people's government".

Hong Kong has enjoyed substantial political autonomy since returning from British to Chinese rule in 1997. Chinese leaders agreed then that the chief executive would be chosen by "universal suffrage" in 2017 – language that pro-democracy activists say shows Beijing has not kept its promises.

The most high-profile protest group, Occupy Central, calling for a rally Sunday night in the city centre. It has previously threatened to shut down the city's financial district with a sit-in if Beijing does not allow completely open elections for chief executive.

Pro-Beijing activists held their own march two weeks ago in Hong Kong, denouncing Occupy Central as a threat to stability in the city.

Political tensions spiked in June when Chinese officials released a policy white paper declaring that Hong Kong's "high degree of autonomy … comes solely from the authorisation by the central leadership."

Many read the policy paper as asserting Beijing's dominance of Hong Kong's affairs and took to the streets in protest. Occupy Central drew Beijing's rebuke by organising an online referendum that attracted a reported 800,000 votes on how to pick the city's chief executive.

On Sunday, organisers of a similar referendum in the neighbouring Chinese-controlled city of Macau said 95% of the 8,688 participants had voted in favour of a leader being elected by universal suffrage in 2019. Macau's incumbent leader, Fernando Chui, was elected to a second five-year term by a Beijing-friendly committee on Sunday.


Hong Kong’s ‘Iron Lady’ takes up democracy fight with Beijing

Anson Chan remains one of the most influential political figures in Hong Kong. She talks about her assessment of the fight with China for democratic rights and her vision for the future

William Wan for the Washington Post
Guardian Weekly, Monday 18 August 2014 01.00 BST      

She is often called the “Iron Lady” of Hong Kong. Anson Chan earned respect serving as Hong Kong’s second-highest official when the British were in charge. And when the colony was handed back to China in 1997, Beijing enlisted Chan to help with that transition.

While she no longer holds any official government position, Chan, 74, remains one of the most influential political figures in Hong Kong and has re-emerged in the spotlight amid a growing fight by Hong Kongers for democratic rights.

At the heart of the fight is China’s promise during the 1997 handover that Hong Kong would be allowed a level of autonomy. Many in Hong Kong believe China has broken that commitment – especially when it comes to media freedoms and the process of choosing a chief executive, which is currently done by a committee tightly controlled by Beijing.

Amid the growing polarisation, Chan has staked out a centrist position, supporting pro-democracy activists but pushing them to take a measured, practical approach to negotiating with China.

And she has used her profile to drum up international support for the Hong Kongers’ campaign for democracy. Her recent visits to Britain and to Washington – where she saw vice-president Joe Biden, members of Congress and the state department – secured statements of support even as they drew angry retorts from Beijing.

Chan’s efforts reflect her approach to seemingly intractable problems: identify the best compromise deal possible, then push on every lever possible to achieve that goal.

In a recent interview, Chan talked about her appeals for international support, her assessment of Hong Kong’s fight for democratic rights and her vision for Hong Kong’s future. Here are condensed excerpts from that conversation:

How has Hong Kong’s future turned out differently from what you imagined in 1997?

“Of course, all of us had a bit of apprehension because we didn’t know what actually would happen after the handover. I personally put in a great deal of effort and time to sell the joint declaration, to secure international support and to tell Hong Kong people, ‘All will be well because we have all these promises.’

“I never in my wildest dream predicted 17 years after the handover that Hong Kong would be in this state. Nor did I foresee – and this is particularly disappointing – that all three parties to the joint declaration and the Basic Law [Hong Kong’s equivalent of a constitution] – Beijing, Britain, Hong Kong’s government – would all choose to walk away from their promises to the people of Hong Kong.”

Why have you focused in your proposals on a compromise that gives people in Hong Kong more say in the nominating process for the chief executive, rather than simply “one person, one vote”, as others have proposed?

“Our group, Hong Kong 2020, has listened to all the noise that has been made, particularly by the pro-Beijing forces in Hong Kong and by Beijing officials, and by the liaison office. One message is totally clear, they will not accept civil nomination [allowing voters themselves to nominate candidates for chief executive], because they claim this is a breach of the Basic Law.

“So whilst we dispute this, we say, ‘Let’s try and see whether we can’t broker a compromise solution.’ So we spent one year checking with the different aspects of the community, listening to their views, and we arrived at a set of proposals that are fully compliant with the Basic Law, with no civil nominations but a chance to broaden the representativeness of the nominating committee. Because this is what the Basic Law prescribes.

“But what does the government do? The government keeps telling us that there’s room for negotiation, let’s sit down and seriously talk. But every single compromise proposal – and it’s not just ours, there are several others – one after another, they have been shot down by the government. So where is the sincerity? Where is the commitment towards actually trying to broker a compromise?

“We all know the government is waiting for instructions from Beijing, which are expected sometime in August.”

Why should the international community care what happens in Hong Kong?

“The international community takes an interest in Hong Kong, if for nothing else than their own self-interest. Because they have investments here, they have nationals living here, they have a whole raft of bilateral agreements with Hong Kong, ranging from cooperation in law enforcement, preventing human trafficking, narcotics, protection of intellectual properties. All these have been concluded on the basis that there is a very distinct system in Hong Kong totally different from anything prevailing in mainland China.

“If the two systems go, surely Hong Kong will no longer be in [a] position to honour our treaty obligations.”

How do you see your role in Hong Kong these days? How can you best use that to the advantage of Hong Kong?

“I’ve never been interested in particularly carving out a role for myself. But the reason why I decided to adopt a higher profile starting in 2006 is because I saw things deteriorating very rapidly, both in terms of the government dragging its feet on democratic reforms, but even more importantly on the whole quality of governance.

“One of the things we prided ourselves on was the fact that Hong Kong’s civil servants were a genuine meritocracy. You didn’t have to resort to political patronage. But that’s what has happened ever since [former chief executive] CH Tung introduced the political appointment system in 2002 – which by the way is the reason why I decided to retire early, because I felt that that system was thoroughly, fundamentally flawed.

“Because the chief executive is not popularly elected, to concentrate the power to appoint the top posts within the Hong Kong government in one pair of hands, without having checks and balance, is asking for trouble.”

If the opportunity ever emerged, would you ever run for chief executive yourself?

“I’m a pragmatist above anything else. There are two reasons [I wouldn’t run]: One, I would not be acceptable to China; secondly, this job needs a younger person. I’m already 74.

“I’ll continue to do what I can to encourage people to speak up because it’s very important. I cannot guarantee that even if we speak up and express our concerns, that we will necessarily succeed. But if we remain silent and do nothing, we definitely will lose.”

This article appeared in the Guardian Weekly, which incorporates material from the Washington Post

* Hong-Kong-011.jpg (67.11 KB, 460x276 - viewed 8 times.)

* Anson-Chan--011.jpg (28.1 KB, 460x276 - viewed 10 times.)
Most Active Member
Posts: 28048

« Reply #15288 on: Aug 31, 2014, 07:16 AM »

King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia warns West will be jihadists’ next target

By Agence France-Presse
Saturday, August 30, 2014 9:39 EDT

King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia has warned that the West will be the next target of the jihadists sweeping through Syria and Iraq, unless there is “rapid” action.

“If we ignore them, I am sure they will reach Europe in a month and America in another month,” he said in remarks quoted on Saturday by Asharq al-Awsat daily and Saudi-backed Al-Arabiya television station.

“Terrorism knows no border and its danger could affect several countries outside the Middle East,” said the king who was speaking at a welcoming ceremony on Friday for new ambassadors, including a new envoy from Saudi ally the United States.

The Islamic State (IS) jihadist group has prompted widespread concern as it advances in both Syria and Iraq, killing hundreds of people, including in gruesome beheadings and mass executions.

Lack of action would be “unacceptable” in the face of the phenomenon, King Abdullah said.

“You see how they (jihadists) carry out beheadings and make children show the severed heads in the street,” he said, condemning the “cruelty” of such acts.

“It is no secret to you, what they have done and what they have yet to do. I ask you to transmit this message to your leaders: ‘Fight terrorism with force, reason and (necessary) speed’.”

President Barack Obama has yet to decide whether the United States should launch raids against positions held by the Islamic State jihadist group in Syria to follow US air strikes on IS activities in Iraq.

US Secretary of State John Kerry called Friday for a global coalition to combat Islamic State fighters’ “genocidal agenda”.

Writing in the New York Times, Kerry said he and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel will meet European counterparts on the sidelines of a NATO summit in Wales next week, to enlist assistance.

They will then travel on to the Middle East to build support “among the countries that are most directly threatened”.

“With a united response led by the United States and the broadest possible coalition of nations, the cancer of ISIS will not be allowed to spread to other countries,” Kerry said in Friday’s op-ed piece.

Asharq Al-Awsat said the king urged other countries to join the UN Counter-Terrorism Centre, set up in 2011 to respond to new threats, and to which Saudi Arabia has made a grant of $100 million.

* king-abdullah-wikimedia-e1356603492870.jpg (33.01 KB, 613x347 - viewed 9 times.)
Most Active Member
Posts: 28048

« Reply #15289 on: Aug 31, 2014, 07:21 AM »

ISIS Displaying a Deft Command of Varied Media

AUG. 30, 2014

The extremists who have seized large parts of Syria and Iraq have riveted the world’s attention with their military prowess and unrestrained brutality. But Western intelligence services are also worried about their extraordinary command of seemingly less lethal weapons: state-of-the-art videos, ground images shot from drones and multilingual Twitter messages.

ISIS, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, is using every contemporary mode of messaging to recruit fighters, intimidate enemies and promote its claim to have established a caliphate, a unified Muslim state run according to a strict interpretation of Islamic law. If its bigotry and beheadings seem to come from a distant century, its use of media is up to the moment.

A review of its prodigious output in print and online reveals a number of surprises. ISIS propaganda, for instance, has strikingly few calls for attacks on the West, even though its most notorious video, among Americans, released 12 days ago, showed the beheading of the American journalist James Foley, threatened another American hostage, and said that American attacks on ISIS “would result in the bloodshed” of Americans. This diverged from nearly all of ISIS’s varied output, which promotes its paramount goal: to secure and expand the Islamic state. Experts say that could change overnight, but for now it sharply distinguishes ISIS from Al Qaeda, which has long made attacks on the West its top priority.

And while ISIS may be built on bloodshed, it seems intent on demonstrating the bureaucratic acumen of the state that it claims to be building. Its two annual reports so far are replete with a sort of jihadist-style bookkeeping, tracking statistics on everything from “cities taken over” and “knife murders” committed by ISIS forces to “checkpoints set up” and even “apostates repented.”

ISIS media frames its campaign in epochal terms, mounting a frontal assault on the national divisions and boundaries in the Middle East drawn by Western powers after World War I. These “Crusader partitions” and their modern Arab leaders, ISIS argues in its English-language magazine, were a divide-and-conquer strategy intended to prevent Muslims from unifying “under one imam carrying the banner of truth.”

That sense of historical grievance is an old theme for Al Qaeda and more moderate Islamist groups. The difference is that by capturing expansive territory and heavy weaponry, and flush with wealth from kidnappings, oil piracy, bank robbery and extortion, ISIS claims to have taken a major first step toward righting what it sees as this ancient wrong, creating a unified Muslim state that will subsume existing nations.

ISIS carefully tailors its recruiting pitch, sending starkly different messages to Muslims in the West and to those closer to home. But the image of unstoppable, implacable power animates all of its messaging.

The pitch is effective. The militant rebellion in Syria and Iraq has drawn as many as 2,000 Westerners, including perhaps 100 Americans, and many thousands more from the Middle East and elsewhere, though some have returned home. Experts believe most of those remaining today are fighting with ISIS.

“The overriding point is that success breeds success,” said Emile Nakhleh, a former C.I.A. analyst. “The perception of quick victories and territory and weapons and bases means they don’t need to try hard to recruit.”

For two decades, Mr. Nakhleh said, Osama bin Laden talked about re-establishing the caliphate, but he never claimed to have done it. “Young people look at ISIS and say, ‘By gosh, they’re doing it!’ They see the videos with fighters riding on big tanks. They see that ISIS has money,” he said.

Before ISIS captured the Iraqi city of Mosul in June, other factions fighting in Syria were attracting European recruits, said Thomas Schmidinger, a political scientist from Vienna University. “But since the fall of Mosul, nearly everyone is going to” ISIS, he said.

In the evolution of modern jihadist propaganda, Bin Laden, addressing a single static camera with long-winded rhetoric in highly formal Arabic, represented the first generation. (His videos had to be smuggled to Al Jazeera or another television network to be aired.) The most prominent figure of the second generation was the YouTube star Anwar al-Awlaki, the American-born cleric killed in a drone strike in Yemen in 2011, who addressed Westerners in colloquial English, had a blog and Facebook page and helped produce a full-color, English-language magazine called Inspire.

ISIS is online jihad 3.0. Dozens of Twitter accounts spread its message, and it has posted some major speeches in seven languages. Its videos borrow from Madison Avenue and Hollywood, from combat video games and cable television dramas, and its sensational dispatches are echoed and amplified on social media. When its accounts are blocked, new ones appear immediately. It also uses services like JustPaste to publish battle summaries, SoundCloud to release audio reports, Instagram to share images and WhatsApp to spread graphics and videos.

“They are very adept at targeting a young audience,” said John G. Horgan, a psychologist at the University of Massachusetts at Lowell who has long studied terrorism. “There’s an urgency: ‘Be part of something that’s bigger than yourself and be part of it now.’ ” Fawaz A. Gerges, a professor at the London School of Economics and the author of “The Far Enemy: Why Jihad Went Global,” said ISIS had so far consistently focused on what militants call “the near enemy” — leaders of Muslim countries like Bashar al-Assad of Syria — and not “the far enemy” of the United States and Europe.

“The struggle against the Americans and the Israelis is distant, not a priority,” he said. “It has to await liberation at home.”

Al Qaeda has often stressed the advantage to the terrorist network of supporters who hold Western passports and can attack in their countries. But a common public rite of passage for new recruits to ISIS is tearing up or burning their passports, signifying a no-going-back commitment to the Islamic state.

One polished ISIS video features a Canadian recruit named Andre Poulin urging North American Muslims to follow him — and even to bring their families. “You’d be very well taken care of here,” he said in the video. “Your families would live here in safety, just like how it is back home. You know we have expanses of territory here in Syria.”

In another English-language video pitch, a British fighter identified as Brother Abu Bara al-Hindi poses the call to jihad as a test for comfortable Westerners. “Are you willing to sacrifice the fat job you’ve got, the big car, the family?” he asks. Despite such luxuries, he says, “Living in the West, I know how you feel — in the heart you feel depressed.” The Prophet Muhammad, he declares, said, “The cure for depression is jihad.”

Such appeals provoke curiosity, and British fighters have answered hundreds of questions about joining ISIS on, a website, including what type of shoes to bring and whether toothbrushes are available. When asked what to do upon arriving in Turkey or Syria, the fighters often casually reply, “Kik me,” referring to the instant messenger for smartphones, and continue the discussion in private.

The English-language videos do not soft-pedal the dangers of the fight; the video of Mr. Poulin, for instance, shows and celebrates his death in battle. But the message to English speakers is nonetheless far softer than the Arabic-language videos, which linger on enemy corpses and show handcuffed prisoners casually machine-gunned.

The message, said Mr. Gerges, is blunt: “Get out of the way or you will be crushed; join our caravan and make history.”

Instead of emphasizing jihad as a means of personal fulfillment, the Arabic media production portrays it as duty for all Muslims. It flaunts violence toward its foes, especially Shiites and the Iraqi and Syrian security services, while portraying the killing as just vengeance.

A recent hourlong ISIS documentary opens with video shot from a drone over Falluja in Iraq and then over a convoy of ISIS gun trucks heading off to battle. A voice-over says that the Islamic state is expanding and that Jerusalem’s Aqsa mosque is “only a stone’s throw away.”

In a later scene, a fighter holding a rifle and his passport mocks his home country, Bahrain, for threatening to withdraw citizenship from those who fight jihad abroad.

“Don’t you know that you, your citizenship, your laws, your constitutions and your threats are under our feet?” the fighter says. “Don’t you know that we are the soldiers of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria and that our state will expand until it removes the thrones that you sold your religion for?”

Nowhere in the hourlong production — full of threats, drive-by shootings, explosions and gunfights — does an ISIS fighter mention the United States or directly mention or threaten Israel, apart from the allusion to the Aqsa mosque.

Hassan Hassan, a Syrian analyst with the Delma Institute in Abu Dhabi, said that ISIS portrays itself as restoring idealized eras of earlier Islamic history in a way that resonates with many of the region’s Muslims.

“ISIS tries to reflect an image of being the continuation of the system of the caliphate,” he said. “In people’s minds, the caliphate is about victory and dignity of Muslims. A caliph is a defender of Muslims against the enemies from within and without.”

ISIS’ emphasis on strict implementation of Islamic law also draws support, he said, as does its portrayal of its battle in staunchly sectarian terms.

Many of the region’s Sunnis have deep sympathy for any force that can challenge the Iraqi or Syrian governments, which they feel have oppressed Sunnis.

ISIS “is the group that is capable of hitting these governments’ security forces and loyalists,” and that has “massive appeal,” Mr. Hassan said.

The State Department’s Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications has stepped up its efforts to counter ISIS propaganda, publishing a steady stream of ISIS horror tales on Facebook and Twitter, using the hashtag #ThinkAgainTurnAway.

For now, it seems an uphill climb. Last week, an ISIS fighter calling himself Abu Turaab wrote on Twitter, “For those who want to come but are facing obstacles, be patient and keep the desire for Jihad alive within you always.”

The State Department account replied, “ISIS recruits’ 2 choices: commit atrocities & die as criminals, get nabbed and waste lives in prison.” As of Friday, Abu Turaab’s comment had been named as a “favorite” 32 times. The count for the State Department’s response: Zero.

Scott Shane reported from Baltimore, and Ben Hubbard from Baghdad. Kimiko de Freytas-Tamura contributed reporting from London, and Melissa Eddy from Berlin.

* sub-ISIS-larger-articleLarge.jpg (83.2 KB, 600x458 - viewed 9 times.)

* JP-ISIS-3-master180.jpg (15.13 KB, 180x253 - viewed 9 times.)

* JP-ISIS-2-master180.jpg (17.37 KB, 180x252 - viewed 9 times.)

* canadian.jpg (13.53 KB, 180x242 - viewed 9 times.)
Most Active Member
Posts: 28048

« Reply #15290 on: Aug 31, 2014, 07:28 AM »

Israeli Fire on Gaza Town Raises War Crimes Claim

AUG. 31, 2014, 8:01 A.M. E.D.T.

RAFAH, Gaza Strip — The first of August dawned as a day of promise for the Mahmoum clan and thousands of other Palestinians stuck in United Nations shelters in Rafah — thanks to a temporary cease-fire with Israel they could go home for three days.

But the expected respite quickly turned into one of the deadliest and most controversial episodes in the recent war between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip. After just two hours, amid fear that Hamas had captured an Israeli soldier, the Israeli military sealed off the Rafah area and began shelling. By the end of the next day, 190 Palestinians were dead, according to a list of names compiled by two Gaza human rights groups, including 14 members of the Mahmoum family.

The Rafah operation is almost certain to be a focus of U.N. investigators and rights groups looking into possible war crimes because it highlights a key concern: The treatment of civilians.

A Palestinian rights group argues that the Israeli army violated the rules of war, which include giving adequate warning to civilians, using proportionate force and distinguishing between civilians and combatants. Unlike in many other Gaza battles, civilians were caught by surprise by the sudden fire and sealed exits.

"None of the rules of international humanitarian law was observed," said Mahmoud Abu Rahma of the Al Mezan rights group.

The Israeli military confirmed that Rafah residents were barred from leaving the area on Aug. 1, but declined comment on the war crime allegations. It denied firing into a densely populated area without regard for civilians, saying precise airstrikes hit targets linked to militants and artillery — though inherently inaccurate — was only aimed at open fields.

Late on Aug. 2, the suspected capture of the soldier turned out to be a false alarm, and the Rafah episode is one of several under internal military review.

"If we accidentally or mistakenly targeted a civilian situation, it was a mistake, and we are very sorry about that," an officer from the army's Southern Command said on condition of anonymity as he wasn't authorized to speak on the record.

The following account is from interviews with Palestinian survivors and the Israeli military, along with events witnessed by The Associated Press.

The cease-fire took effect at 8 a.m. Friday. Mustafa Mahmoum, a municipal bulldozer operator, was at work clearing rubble from previous Israeli strikes. But after weeks in a shelter, his wife Iqzayer, 34, and their seven children returned to the family home in Tannour in east Rafah, about 2 miles (3 kilometers) from the Israeli border.

A few houses down Ouroba Street, the main thoroughfare, Azizeh, 47, the wife of one of Mustafa's cousins, and her nine children also moved back home into their two-room shack with a roof of corrugated metal.

At 9 a.m., the commander of Israel's Givati Brigade, Col. Ofer Winter, had just dozed off after a sleepless night when he received an alert from the field.

Givati soldiers searching for Hamas' network of military tunnels had been ambushed by Hamas gunmen, he was told. Over the next half hour, it became apparent that Maj. Benaya Sarel, a recon officer, and Liel Gidoni, his radio operator, had been killed, and 2nd Lt. Hadar Goldin was missing.

At 9:36 a.m., Winter announced over the field radio the word nobody wanted to hear: "Hannibal."

Hannibal is the name for the military protocol to be followed if a soldier falls into enemy hands. The aim is to stop the capture, even if it means loosening open-fire regulations.

Winter ordered all forces to take territory so that the kidnappers couldn't move, he told Israel's Yediot Ahronot newspaper.

The officer in the Southern Command, which oversaw the Gaza fighting, told the AP the brigade tried to seal off an area with a radius of 2-3 kilometers (1.5 miles) around the suspected capture point, a mile from the border. Over the next eight hours, soldiers fired about 500 artillery shells, he said. The military said it also launched about 100 airstrikes against targets in Rafah on Aug. 1 and 2, but did not provide a breakdown for each day.

The priority was to rescue Goldin.

"That's why we used all this force," Winter told the newspaper. "Those who kidnap need to know they will pay a price. This was not revenge. They simply messed with the wrong brigade."

The assault began sometime before 10 a.m., sending Azizeh Mahmoum and her children fleeing from their shack to Mustafa's sturdier brick home. Within minutes relatives gathered. As the fire became more intense, they no longer felt safe. So they ran across Ouroba Street in groups, trying to reach a small, narrow alley for cover. The alley lay next to a supermarket owned by the Bilbesis, a relatively wealthy family, and led toward a hospital.

As they ran, Azizeh's son Hani, 23, was struck by a projectile.

"I saw his body flying into the air in front of me," said his brother, Sami, 20.

That was just the start. His mother and three siblings — Wafa, 25, Asma, 16, and Yehiyeh, 13 — all died.

A cousin, Anam Mahmoum Hamad, had just entered the alley when the wall of a house collapsed from a drone strike. It killed Mustafa's wife, she said, and another four children — Bissan, 10, Hiba, 7, Duaa, 3 and Obada, 2.

Others kept running, including Mustafa's 24-year-old sister, Halima, barefoot over the scorching asphalt. The shells rained all over, in front of her and behind, she said.

By noon, an AP videojournalist saw at least 20 bodies along Ouroba Street.

The Bilbesis administered first aid to the wounded who made it to the basement of their building on Ouroba Street. An ambulance eventually evacuated some of them.

In the meantime, Abu Yousef al-Najar Hospital was filling up with hundreds of people running from the fire or searching for the missing. By the day's end, 63 bodies were squeezed into the morgue, said Dr. Abdullah Shehadeh, the hospital director. At one point he heard shells falling every 10 seconds, he said.

Hamad, the Mahmoum cousin, had been at the hospital for about two hours when medics brought in the lower body of her 4-year-old son, Anas. She said she recognized his clothes.

That evening, with concerns that the Israeli soldier could be smuggled out, the military warned in automated calls to residents that any vehicle trying to leave Rafah would be shot.

The next day, Mustafa returned to Ouroba Street to search for the bodies of his wife and four dead children. He found them near the Bilbesi supermarket amid the debris.

"It was hard," he said, struggling to keep his composure.

The heavy Israeli fire continued Saturday, including airstrikes on homes that killed several dozen people, according to the Gaza-based Palestinian Center for Human Rights.

By late that day, it had become clear that Goldin, the 23-year-old soldier, had been not captured but killed in a firefight. After forensic analysis of remains found in the tunnel, he was declared dead.

It was not until Sunday that some bodies on Ouroba Street could be retrieved.

"It was a horrible scene," said Ghassan Bilbesi, son of the supermarket owner. "People had lost their hands, their arms."

Mustafa's wife and children were buried on Monday, Aug. 4, in the sandy soil of a new cemetery on the edge of Rafah, in a row of 14 still unmarked, cinder block-lined graves. Hamad has no idea where her son's remains lie.

In all, 121 Palestinians were killed in Rafah on Aug. 1 and 69 on Aug. 2, according to the Palestinian Center for Human Rights and Al Mezan rights group, which compiled the names. The dead included 55 children, 36 women and five men over the age of 60.

In the Tannour and adjacent Jneineh neighborhoods alone, 37 people were killed on Aug. 1, the rights groups say. The Mahmoum clan lost seven children, six women and a young man.

The losses played into a bigger debate over the uneven death toll in the war. More than 2,140 Palestinians were killed, three-fourths civilians, according to the U.N. On the Israeli side, 72 people were killed, all but six soldiers.

Israel said it warned civilians to leave targeted areas through automated calls and leaflets, and accused Hamas of putting civilians at risk by using them as human shields in crowded neighborhoods. The military said the events in Rafah, along with others, are under review by officers who were not part of the chain of command. The conclusion will be handed to the army's advocate general.

Even if the findings of U.N. investigators are months away, Mustafa Mahmoum is determined to demand justice for his family and trial for Israeli officials who ordered the Rafah attack. Trying to rescue a soldier does not justify killing civilians, he said.

"Even in war," he said, "children are protected."

Associated Press writer Yousur Alhlou in Jerusalem contributed to this report.

* Netanyahu.jpg (5.44 KB, 300x168 - viewed 9 times.)

* 5bb8f936-cee2-4b56-abf2-c65b726d7ead-460x276.jpeg (31.49 KB, 460x276 - viewed 9 times.)

* GAZA-1-master675.jpg (106.34 KB, 675x450 - viewed 10 times.)

* thnnnn.jpg (12.04 KB, 300x200 - viewed 9 times.)
Most Active Member
Posts: 28048

« Reply #15291 on: Aug 31, 2014, 07:30 AM »

Lesotho Military Moves on Police

AUG. 30, 2014

DAKAR, Senegal — A military coup in the tiny southern African kingdom of Lesotho has chased out the prime minister and apparently put the army in control of the landlocked nation, witnesses and journalists in the capital said on Saturday.

Residents woke to the sound of gunfire before dawn on Saturday, with soldiers storming the seat of government in the capital, Maseru, apparently looking for Prime Minister Thomas Thabane, said the publisher of The Lesotho Times, Basildon Peta, in an interview from Maseru.

Speaking with Al Jazeera from South Africa, where he had sought refuge, Mr. Thabane said: “They were all over the State House looking for me. What they were hoping to do, I don’t know.”

The army is “doing what it wants to do without any recourse to lawful authority,” he said. “All these things can only manifest one thing, a government that cannot be regarded as normal. When you put it all together, that leads to a coup d’état.”

Lesotho, a mountainous country of 1.9 million, is surrounded by South Africa. Its political life, turbulent since independence from Britain in 1966, has featured at least three coups, Mr. Peta said. Just this year there was an attack on the residence of Mr. Thabane’s girlfriend, he said.

Saturday morning, army units stormed police stations — the police are thought to be loyal to the prime minister — and confiscated weapons, killing at least one police officer, according to Mr. Peta and news reports.

By late Saturday it was not clear who was in charge. The police stations were deserted, and Mr. Thabane was still in South Africa, although he told Al Jazeera that he intended to return to Lesotho. “There is a major security vacuum,” Mr. Peta said. “Basically there is anarchy.”

The soldiers had apparently returned to their barracks by Saturday evening. “In the morning there were so many soldiers patrolling around here,” said a guard at the United States Embassy in Maseru, John Nkhetse. “Now we are free to move. There are no more now here.”

An official at the embassy who said she was the duty officer declined to comment on the day’s events.

The latest political crisis was precipitated by Mr. Thabane’s dissolution of Parliament in June, according to Mr. Peta and local news reports. Deputies had warned that they would hold a vote of no confidence; the prime minister, under Lesotho’s Constitution, can shut down Parliament for nine months, Mr. Peta said.

Mr. Thabane had threatened to fire the army chief, Lt. Gen. Kennedy Tlali Kamoli. But late Saturday, the general was still in charge, Mr. Peta said.

In an interview with Al Jazeera, the deputy prime minister, Mothetjo Metsing, generally thought to be pro-army, denied that there had been a coup. “This is not a coup, let us get that straight,” Mr. Metsing said. “The prime minister would not still be the prime minister if there was a coup that had taken place.”

But it was unclear what authority, if any, Mr. Thabane retained; nor was it clear when he might return. “He’s claiming he is in charge, but you can’t be in charge when you are not on the ground,” Mr. Peta said.

An army spokesman also denied that there had been a coup, according to news reports.
Most Active Member
Posts: 28048

« Reply #15292 on: Aug 31, 2014, 07:31 AM »

Ecuador’s women turn to boxing to fight sexual violence

By Agence France-Presse
Saturday, August 30, 2014 12:24 EDT

After surviving a harrowing rape attempt, Any Hurtado took up boxing — and found herself surrounded by other Ecuadoran women using their fists for protection in a country torn by sexual violence.

Statistics paint a disturbing picture of the threats women face in the South American country: six out of every 10 have been the victims of gender-based aggression, and one girl in 10 suffers sexual abuse before the age of 18.

Hurtado, a 17-year-old nursing student, lived through her own horror story last year.

She was walking home when a group of men surrounded her and tried to rape her.

“They started grabbing me and trying to assault me,” she told AFP.

“As I was struggling against them I thought I wasn’t going to be able to get away. But I found the strength somewhere. I hit the one closest to me and managed to run away.”

After the incident, Hurtado, who lives alone since her father emigrated to Spain four years ago, went to a gym in La Tola, a neighborhood in central Quito, and began learning to box.

There, she found a cohort of other women with stories similar to her own donning gloves and learning to use their fists to defend themselves.

One of them is Tania Lara, a 27-year-old domestic worker whose ex-husband used to beat her.

“Sometimes I wish I could go back in time. I think about what it would have been like then if I were the way I am now, a boxer. I’d have hit him hard,” she said.

Another boxer, Maria Vega, a 30-year-old who sells potatoes at a market in the capital, said she trains with even more passion ever since she first put her boxing to use on the street.

“A guy grabbed my cell phone and I took off running after him. I beat him to the ground until he gave it back,” she said with a grin.

The women put their gloves on, then got into the ring — Vega with no protective headgear.

“There it is Tania! Harder, no fear, don’t let her get you,” yelled Segundo Chango, a local boxing coach who gives free lessons to the women.

Lara and Vega traded hooks and jabs for 15 minutes, moving around the ring gracefully as other boxers looked on.

“You think a woman can’t last a week (boxing), but when you see them in there you realize they’re tough,” said Eric Bone, another of Chango’s trainees.

- Next generation -

The La Tola gym began offering training for women boxers 10 years ago. Since then, a growing number have taken advantage of the classes — about five a day currently, said Chango.

That reflects a natural response to the dangers women face in Ecuador, said Santiago Castellanos, a psychologist at the Latin American Social Sciences Faculty who specializes in gender studies.

“We live in a society where the public space is often safer for men than women. So women turn to self-defense… when society sees them as weak objects,” he said.

These boxers reject the notion held by some that boxing may make them less feminine.

Amarilis Carbos, a 26-year-old office worker, took off her heels when she entered the gym, stored her purse in a locker and removed her make-up.

“My parents never let me box because obviously it was a sport for men,” she said after changing into her workout clothes.

But now Carbos not only practices the sport, she even teaches it to her eight-year-old daughter.

“She has to learn to defend herself too,” she said.

Most Active Member
Posts: 28048

« Reply #15293 on: Aug 31, 2014, 07:34 AM »

Ultra-Orthodox Jews expelled from Guatemalan village after conflict with locals

By International Business Times
Saturday, August 30, 2014 12:35 EDT

A group of ultra-orthodox Jews who moved from Canada to a remote part of Guatemala a few months ago to find religious freedom have now been forced to leave their homes after conflict arose with local villagers there.

The Lev Tahor settlement in the San Juan la Laguna, which is about 93 miles west of Guatemala City, saw the Jews abandon their homes and board buses for the capital after weeks of tension with the local community, Al Jazeera reported.

A leader of the Lev Tahor sect in San Juan, Rabbi Uriel Goldman, said that most Guatemalans were friendly towards the Jews but an aggressive minority of local motivated by politics chose to push the group out.

"I don't understand why they don't want us, we're doing nothing bad here," Goldman said to Reuters adding that the city’s Elder Council issued an ultimatum to the Lev Tahor threatening them with cutting of their water and electricity if they did not leave.

"They also warned us they would remove us from the village by force," he said.

Last week, the town’s Elders Council voted to force the religious group to leave the area because some members of the sect have been accused of ill-treatment of indigenous residents and tourists to the area according to the Associated Press.

The villagers turned hostile and decided to expel the group because the Jews refused to greet or have physical contact with the local community, Miguel Vasquez Cholotio, a member of the Elders Council said.

"We felt intimidated by them in the streets. We thought they wanted to change our religion and customs," he reportedly said.

The Jews who began coming to the country in March from Canada due to clashes with authorities there said that verbal abuse, threats to cut off power and eject them by force was the last straw for the group to pack their bags and leave.

Founded in the 1980s by Israeli Shlomo Helbrans, Lev Tahor which means "Pure Heart" in Hebrew practices an austere form of Judaism and believes that technological trappings such as television and computers are bad and must be avoided with members of the group’s daily life being steeped in religion.

The group with rejects the state of Israel because it views the Jews as a people who must remain in exile has won the admiration from some Jews for its devoutness but others condemn it to cult-like sect. After being evicted by the locals of San Juan, Lev Tahor now hopes to find land elsewhere in Guatemala to resettle more than 200 Jews in the community and build about 30 houses, Goldman said.

Most Active Member
Posts: 28048

« Reply #15294 on: Aug 31, 2014, 07:46 AM »

In the USA...United Surveillance and Swat Teams of America

Obama's Cool Head in a Crisis -- Asset or Growing Liability?

by Naharnet Newsdesk
31 August 2014, 08:42

He doesn't bluster and he doesn't strut and President Barack Obama certainly isn't panicking, though he admits it feels like the world is falling apart.

But Obama's cool-in-a-crisis style and disdain for the impulsive use of military force is fueling criticism of his leadership, as crises stagger the Middle East and Ukraine.

"If you watch the nightly news, it feels like the world is falling apart," the sanguine U.S. leader told supporters Friday.

"I can see why a lot of folks are troubled," he said, while counseling that the U.S. military, standing tall amid jihadist violence and geopolitical threats, had never been mightier.

"The world has always been messy -- we're just noticing it now in part because of social media."

With world crises bursting around him and political opponents apoplectic, Obama has yet to lash out in response, and refuses to act on anyone's timetable but his own.

His methodical crisis management, long Situation Room seminars and skepticism that U.S. force can remake a tumultuous world, has sustained him through nearly six tough White House years.

With Islamic State radicals dug into a caliphate in Iraq and Syria, and Russian President Vladimir Putin's shadow ever lengthening over Ukraine, Obama is shrugging off a whirl of hostile news cycles and political attacks on his leadership.

But even Obama allies may be forgiven for wondering, after another trying week, whether the president’s approach is becoming a political liability, as his once high foreign policy ratings ebb.

A burst of honesty on Syria put the president in a new fix —- and raised the stakes for his trip to the NATO summit and Estonia beginning Tuesday.

"We don't have a strategy yet," Obama told reporters, trying to quell a warlike mood in Washington, which expected to hear U.S. attacks on IS in Syria were imminent.

But the damaging soundbite sparked a Washington firestorm, as it appeared to validate Republican attacks that the president, disengaged and oblivious to rising threats, is not up to facing down the world's hard men like Vladimir Putin.

Republican senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham warned in a New York Times article Saturday headlined "stop dithering" that Obama's failure to act quickly against IS in Syria was "startling" and "dangerous."

Potential 2016 Republican presidential hopeful Rick Perry said Obama's remarks revealed a president always one step behind the next crisis, and accused him of "dithering and debating" over what to do about IS.

Aides protested Obama was talking only about an operational plan for military action in Syria — not the wider battle against a group U.S. jets are already bombing in Iraq.

But in political spats like this, context is lost.

While it infuriates his enemies, Obama's approach is a reflection of his own personality, his post-Iraq war era and the historical lens through which he increasingly peers as his presidency enters its twilight.

His drawn out decision-making and habit of testing of every scenario that could follow military action is familiar —- Obama agonized for months before doubling down with an Afghan troop surge in his first term.

But in probing complexity and nuance, is Obama's zeal for decisive action dimmed?

His defenders reply with three words — Osama bin Laden — recalling the long-planned and daring raid into Pakistan which killed the Al-Qaida chief and helped Obama win reelection.

Obama recently took to telling confidants the core of his foreign policy is not to do "stupid" things — and holds up the "disastrous" Iraq war as Exhibit A in his case.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest explained that Obama, wary of being sucked into Syria's civil war, refuses to simply launch an impulsive attack to appease Washington, seeking vengeance after the IS murder of U.S. journalist James Foley.

"There are some who probably would make the case that it's OK to not have a formulated, comprehensive strategy," Earnest said.

"That is not what the president believes is a smart approach."

Brian Katulis, of the Center for American Progress, which is close to the administration, said Obama may be more in tune with his war-weary nation, than his critics.

"I think a lot of the criticism comes from the chattering classes — amongst the foreign policy elite and in the media."

"I think your ordinary American is very much where the president is, in his cautious look before you leap stance."

Obama has made clear he believes history assigned him the role of getting troops home from foreign wars, in Iraq and Afghanistan, and of transitioning his nation from the permanent war footing it adopted following the September 11 attacks in 2001.

Critics argue though, that the president sees the world not as it is — but as he wishes to see it. Some Americans appear to agree: only 36 percent in a recent Pew Research/USA Today poll thought Obama acted sufficiently tough on the world stage.

But some close observers sympathize with his plight.

"It's pretty tough being president of the United States. You are damned if you do, and damned if you don't," said a Western diplomat on condition of anonymity.

"Either you are accused of having got too involved in some other country's affairs and making things worse -— or you stand back because you are conscious that in the past, sometimes military interventions have not been an unmitigated success."


Keeping Their Voters Stupid Keeps Republicans Elected

By: Rmuse
Saturday, August, 30th, 2014, 10:08 am   

Over the past six years after every election, a relatively common question is why do so many Americans dependably vote against their own self-interests. Despite poor white people in southern red states barely surviving on slave wages, welfare, food stamps, and no adequate healthcare, they routinely vote for Republicans openly campaigning on driving their constituents deeper into poverty. It is true that opposition to Democrats as surrogates for an African American President is driven by racial animus, but even that fails to explain poor white voters electing abusive Republicans promising to eliminate programs that keep them alive and block Democratic attempts to lift them out of poverty.

Founding Father Thomas Jefferson understood how abusive Republicans could succeed, if only they kept the population unenlightened, or in street vernacular blind, dumb, and stupid. Jefferson said, “I know no safe depositary of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of power.”

That was in 1820, but even before that Jefferson wrote that “Every government degenerates when trusted to the rulers of the people alone. The people themselves, therefore, are its only safe depositories. And to render even them safe, their minds must be improved to a certain degree. Therefore, it is imperative that the nation see to it that a suitable education be provided for all its citizens.”
Jefferson was not the first man to identify the death knell of democracy, or “self-government,” was an uneducated populace. Republicans understand they could hardly garner any electoral support if the population was educated and informed, so they have went to extraordinary and, often, unconstitutional lengths to keep the populace ignorant by cutting education funding. Whether it is transferring public school funding to private, religious, or underperforming charter schools, or just slashing education funding, Republicans will employ any measure to keep Americans stupid so they will vote against their own self-interests.

On Thursday, another judge ruled that Republicans in Texas used an unconstitutional scam to starve public schools and produce another generation of ignorant Texans to vote for Republicans. The Texas ruling was a repudiation of gubernatorial candidate Gregg Abbot’s defense of slashing well over $5 billion from public schools using an unconstitutional property tax scam. However, the means of slashing public education funding is unimportant, but it is a growing trend among Republican-led states whose goal is simply to maintain a base of support among uneducated voters.

Last week a judge in North Carolina ruled that a Republican privatization scheme was unconstitutional because it defunded public schools by shifting public education funds to private and charter religious schools. The judge correctly stated that the Republican scheme was to “siphon money from the public schools in favor of private schools, fund non-public schools that discriminate on account of religion, and to shift “public taxpayer money to private religious schools that have no legal obligation to teach them anything.” Besides a dirty privatization scam, N.C. Republicans want to keep the next generation of voters blind, dumb, and stupid so they will support policies that keep them in distress.

Last year in Kansas a judge ruled that Governor Sam Brownback’s Draconian cuts to public education were unconstitutional; particularly because the lack of funding was due to using taxpayer dollars to fund unsustainable tax cuts for the rich. Brownback, like all Republicans, desperately needs an ignorant and uneducated citizenry who regularly fall for the insane notion that taking money from the people to enrich corporations and the wealthy is key to an economic Utopia. It is noteworthy that the storied “trickle down” theory has existed for about a generation, and the people that were denied a decent education then ignorantly support Brownback’s economic lunacy that has the state suffering three recent credit downgrades and flirting with bankruptcy in the very near future. It is even likely that people suffering the drastic social program cuts enacted by Republicans will vote for Brownback because they are too stupid to understand they are voting against their own survival.

Another Republican state, Louisiana, is fighting federal and state court lawsuits due to Governor Bobby Jindal’s unconstitutional scheme of stealing from public schools to fund private religious institutions. Jindal, like all Republicans, depends on uneducated voters to support policies against their own self-interests such as rejecting free Medicaid expansion funding, giving free rein to dirty energy industry to foul Louisiana’s air and water, and cut social programs ignorant and uneducated citizens require to survive.

The common theme in keeping their citizens ignorant and uninformed is pandering to voters’ irrational fears. It is why Republicans’ claim Democrats are subverting their religious freedom, taking god out of schools, coming for their guns, and imposing Marxism, Socialism, or communism on the people. If any American does not believe how ignorance borne of an uneducated populace drives opposition to policies that help Americans, take heed of the number of times Republican and teabagger voters bemoan President Obama’s Marxist or socialist policies revealing they have no idea what Marxist or socialist policies entail. If one wants to end a debate, or conversation with a conservative parroting Republican talking points, ask them when the government came for their guns, what Marxism or socialism is, how their religious liberty, was subverted, or how President Obama is shredding the Constitution; a document they have never read, much less understand at even a rudimentary level.

It is beyond refute that if the citizens of this country were informed and educated, Republicans would be hard-pressed to get elected as dog-catchers, much less legislators. The assault on public education goes beyond Republican-controlled states as evidenced by congressional Republicans regularly cutting education funding. They, Republicans, know that if the public were educated, they could not demean science as the work of the devil, or claim contraception is abortion, or push the Christian bible as true science. There is a reason so many morons in the conservative movement are certain that god created America, wrote the Constitution, established America’s borders, and installed Christianity as the state religion, and it is simply due to their inability to pick up a history book or the founding document to check Republican claims for veracity.

Americans are not unintelligent, but a fair proportion of them are dirt stupid; it is the only reason a Republican ever gets elected. What Republicans are doing in the states to education is to maintain an ignorant, superstitious, and uninformed voting bloc as well as prepare the next generation to regularly vote against their own best interests. They will continue using any means to destroy public education because they know, as Founding Father Thomas Jefferson said, the only “true corrective of abuses of power is to see to it that a suitable education be provided for all its citizens.” It is a corrective that Republicans are waging a fierce battle against because their electoral survival depends on keeping their supporters uneducated, uninformed, and frankly, stupid from religion.


Yet, despite this actual reality and evidence how many of you in America feel about how many 'stupid' Americans will vote for the Republican party anyway ? Of course it will be in the millions. What does that suggest United Stupid America ? USA ...USA ..USA ....

The Meaning Of The Koch Brothers Tapes: "I Don't Know Where We'd Be Without You"

By Mike Lux
August 30, 2014 3:00 pm

Candid moments caught on tape reveal the true motives of politicians and their financiers.
The Meaning Of The Koch Brothers Tapes: "I Don't Know Where We'd Be Without You"

One of the classic strategies for politicians caught saying embarrassing things is to use the old "there's nothing to see here, keep moving" ploy. Republicans tried that at first when Romney was caught on the 47% tape, but it didn't work for them because it wasn't only what Romney said that was so offensive, it was the context: speaking to a bunch of wealthy donors about all those greedy seniors and poor people.

Sounds familiar.

The spectacle of Mitch McConnell, Joni Ernst, Cory Gardner, Tom Cotton, the head of the Republican Governors Association (and other politicians who were on the agenda or in attendance) kowtowing to Charles and David Koch and other billionaires gathered at the luxury resort. All the money spent on security ($870,000 to rent the hotel exclusively not to mention their own private security detail) to keep the meeting as secretive as possible. And Mitch McConnell, the most powerful man in the Republican party as the Senate Minority Leader, giving a speech outlining how his entire career, and the party's future policy strategy, were all in service to the Koch agenda. The combination will be as definitional to this campaign as the 47% video was to 2012.

And this won't just make an impact in the four Senate races which have gotten all the publicity so far. This is going to help define the national narrative for the 2014 campaign: these tapes make 100% clear that the modern Republican party is controlled by the Kochs and their billionaire friends. The Kochs invite the most powerful party leaders, the most important candidates, to their "seminars," and they all come running. These politicians thank the Kochs and their billionaire friends profusely, talk about how they wouldn't be where they are today without them, and then tell them how they will battle on their behalf if they win.

Mitch McConnell, speaking of the Republican party, said, "I want to start by thanking you, Charles and David, for the important work you're doing. I don't know where we'd be without you." Joni Ernst made absolutely clear, multiple times, that she would never had a chance to win her primary without the donors in the room. Tom Cotton thanked the billionaire financiers for reviving the Republican party in his state, and Cory Gardner begged them to invest heavily not only in Colorado but in the entire Rocky Mountain region, which was "ripe" for them to come in and exploit.

Notice that these candidates come from all over the country - the South, the West, the Midwest. The Koch donor network has a broad and deep reach. They control the Republican party from sea to shining sea.

The Koch brothers have made clear their agenda. They don't believe in climate change, and want no regulations on their oil companies. They want their taxes reduced to almost nothing since they, after all, are the "job creators." They oppose reform and regulation of Wall Street. They don't believe in a minimum wage, or unemployment compensation, or student loans, or Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. They think public education should be privatized and turned over to the corporate sector.

And what the 47% recording, and the Koch conference recordings, confirm with 100% certainty, is that this is the same agenda, with the same values, shared by Republican politicians.

The Kochs and their millionaire/billionaire friends in that luxury hotel in Orange County, California are now in control of the Republican party- lock, stock, and barrel. And that is the narrative, confirmed on tape, of the 2014 election. Mitch McConnell is right: the GOP would be nowhere without the Koch brothers. The Republicans know where their bread is buttered, and will dance with the ones who brung 'em.


Economic justice: How NC progressives are fighting back against the Tea Party

By Moyers & Company
Saturday, August 30, 2014 10:51 EDT

Editor’s note: The Moral Mondays movement began as a grassroots response to North Carolina’s rightward lurch after Republicans won complete control of the state’s government for the first time since 1870. Modeled on the civil rights movement, it has united a diverse group of citizens in opposition to the draconian legislative agenda that’s turned what was once the most moderate state in the South into a laboratory for conservative ideology. Moyers & Company documented the story in a special, “North Carolina: State of Conflict,” that aired earlier this year.

The movement has since spread to Georgia, and spawned a series of “Truthful Tuesdays” protests in South Carolina. Rev. Dr. William Barber II, head of the North Carolina chapter of the NAACP, is one of the movement’s key organizers and most prominent spokesperson. This Q&A was excerpted from a longer interview with Barber that first appeared at Political Research Associates earlier this week.

As William Barber prepared to spread a message of hope and democracy through a week of actions Aug. 22-28 in Raleigh and other Southern state capitals, he talked with me about North Carolina’s free-market ideology and how it has already affected the people who live there. Barber, referring to the billionaire-backed tea party, the national group that pushes free-market policies at the local and state level, says these past two legislative sessions have been a “coordinated, premeditated attempt to undermine progress and engage in regressive tea party policies.”

“This is really Robin Hood in reverse,” Barber told me. “It is government of business, bought by business, for business. And not just business — because lots of business leaders disagree with them — but this is tea party greed. This is Koch brother-type greed.”

Barber bristles, though, at the notion that conservatism or partisan politics are at the root of the problem. “I fuss against these terms ‘liberal’ versus ‘conservative’,” he says, “because I want to conserve the essence of our Constitution and then liberally make sure everybody has access to them. What we’re dealing with is extremism, and you can’t just define it as ‘conservative.’”

At the local level, says Barber, the state legislature’s extreme adherence to free-market neoliberal policy is gutting the state’s public school system. “Five thousand teachers being fired, being removed, and local school boards decrying [this] because of the impact that it was having on classroom sizes and students,” he says.

Barber adds that, because of the salary cuts, he sees teachers actively leaving North Carolina. “In fact,” he said, “one state, Texas, sent memos out and said if you’re in North Carolina, come to Texas. And you know that’s kind of sad, considering Texas’s regressiveness, when they actually can offer teachers more than North Carolina.”

Barber also described the legislature’s attempt to shift $10 million earmarked for public schools to voucher programs that could only be used to pay for private schools. In shifting these public funds into private hands, said Barber, the legislature refused to require that private schools benefiting from the vouchers maintain the same non-discrimination standards that public schools must uphold, meaning that private schools receiving voucher funds would have been allowed to restrict enrollment however they chose. A Superior Court judge declared on Aug. 21 that the state’s school voucher program is unconstitutional, citing the lack of accountability inherent in the program, and issued a permanent injunction stopping the voucher program from going forward.

[Conservative mega-donor] Art Pope and the tea party aren’t just alienating teachers and progressives, says Barber. They are also alienating Republicans across the state. Barber says that the legislature and McCrory never made clear, even to their own constituents, what they were planning to do once they achieved a supermajority in the statehouse and won the governorship. “They did not run saying,  ‘Elect me, I’m going to take your health care, cut your public education, and strip you of your unemployment even if you lost your job at no fault of your own,’” says Barber. “So, we’ve had a Republican unemployed person stand on the stage [at a Moral March] and say, ‘I’m a Republican, but I’m unemployed — I didn’t vote for this.’”

Even Republicans holding public office are objecting to the legislature’s actions. Adam O’Neal, a self-described conservative Republican mayor from Belhaven, NC, began a one-man march of 273 miles to Washington DC on July 14 to dramatize the impact of Gov. McCrory’s and  [House Speaker Thom] Tillis’ refusal to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. O’Neal explained that the lack of Medicaid funds had forced the only hospital in his coastal community to close, creating a “medical desert” that would certainly cost lives. O’Neal also lamented the potential economic impact of the hospital closing; he told NPR, “How many people go retire somewhere where it doesn’t even have a hospital?”

I asked Barber what he believes is the neoliberals’ vision for North Carolina. “They believe that the way to a great North Carolina is to deny necessary funds and access to public education. Attack teachers. Deny unemployment. Deny earned income tax credit and other safeguards for the working poor. Deny affordable healthcare and access to healthcare, even if it allows people to die. Deny labor rights, LGBT rights, women’s rights, immigrant rights… And then, if you really want a great America after you’ve done all these things, then suppress the right to vote and attempt to use your power to stay in office. And then, after you’ve done all of that to create all this tension, ensure that everyone has access to guns easier than they have access to the polls. Now, that sounds crude and sinister, but those are their policies.”

Having set this grim scene, Barber continued with a surprisingly upbeat message:  “Whatever we’re facing now, it’s not greater than slavery, it’s not greater than Jim Crow, it’s not greater than women being denied the right to vote. We won those battles. But we did not win those battles by merely engaging in political arguments. We had to tap into the moral and social consciousness of the nation.”

“I am hopeful,” he went on, “because I believe in the deep moral consciousness at the heart of America. Those of us who believe in justice and who believe in freedom, we are the heartbeat of this nation. Our role now is to be like a social defibrillator, to shock the heart of the nation, to cause it to revive and to remember what the real enemy is: regressive extremism. And it’s not just about winning all the elections, but changing the context in which our politicians have to operate.”

Barber said he hopes that the momentum of the Forward Together Moral Movement (as one of the core groups organizing Moral Marches is currently called) will spread. He sees it moving across the South from North Carolina to help change the political context and create the possibility for the state NAACP’s 14-Point People’s Agenda to be written into legislation both in North Carolina and beyond. The Agenda includes anti-poverty, pro-labor policies; equality and equitable distribution of resources in public education; access to healthcare for all; fairness in the criminal justice system; and protection and expansion of the right to vote and the rights of immigrants.

Barber acknowledges that the neoliberal forces in his state — and across the country — remain powerful. “We’ve got to fight in the courts, we’ve got to fight in the legislative halls, we’ve got to fight in the streets, we’ve got to push at the pulpit, and we have to work at the ballot box,” he says. “If we do all of this with what I call a moral critique, so we’re not trapped with the language of Republican versus Democrat, I believe we can continue to work towards the reconstruction of this nation.”


Another 'Red' State Admits They Were WRONG About Obamacare, Quietly Accepts Medicaid Expansion

August 29, 2014
Richard Rowe

After first rejecting the Medicaid expansion, the Republican governor of Tennessee, Bill Haslam, is in the process of submitting a plan to the HHS to utilize Obamacare dollars. Shocking.

Remember earlier this year, around the time news of the ACA roll-out's success were starting to trickle in, when Republicans finally started revealing their true fears about it?

Rand Paul summed it up nicely:

    "People get assumed and accustomed to receiving things, particularly things that they get for free."

Or, to paraphrase: "We're terrified people will like it, and then we'll all look like idiots."

After the roll-out, fully half the states in the U.S., all of them controlled by Tea-baiting GOP lawmakers refused federal funds to expand Medicaid in their states. A good move from a political demagogue's point of view…maybe not so much for the people of those disproportionately impoverished states, who were left asking, "Why are we still dying because you won't give us the medical care we're legally due?"

Of course, those with any degree of reason knew that that wouldn't last forever, especially considering the fact that most of the poorest states in the Union are controlled by the GOP. Arkansas and Iowa were among the first opt-out states to opt back in under pressure from the public, adopting modified "private option" plans that can utilize the Medicaid money offered by the Fed to pay for or subsidize private insurance.

Now, Tennessee is looking to join that group, among three other red states including Pennsylvania planning on doing the same.

As reported by The Tennessean, Republican governor, Bill Haslam, is in the process of submitting a plan to the HHS (formerly controlled by FEMA Death Marshall Kathleen Sebelius) to utilize Obamacare dollars in a manner similar to Arkansas and Iowa's Private Option plans.

Evidently, the pressure from 150,000-plus poverty-stricken Tennesseans who need healthcare has proven slightly more powerful than the nonsensical screams of those Tea Partiers who put this guy into office.

Undoubtedly, this swing among Tennessee and GOP states like it is indicative of a larger trend, and you can bet it'll be a feather in Obama's cap. After all, there's no better political tool than a willing defector. Fair enough. But for our part, we welcome Tennessee, Arkansas, Pennsylvania, Iowa and states like them to the civilized world.*

*"Civilized world" obviously not including Florida, currently controlled by Medicaid scam artist and TeaLord Rick Scott.


Michael Brown Killing: Video Mashup Of Witness Statements, Audio Of Shots

By karoli August 30, 2014 5:28 pm

This new montage combines witness interviews with the audio of the shots to demonstrate how the accounts align.

Now that the audio recording of the shots fired has been verified as to time and date, a montage of witness statements and the recording has been put together to demonstrate how closely all the witness accounts align with the actual shots fired.

They won't tell us whether or not Mike Brown had his hands up, and they won't tell us whether or not Darren Wilson struggled with Brown in the car. But they do tell us that separate witnesses who did not know each other told essentially the same story, and that story aligns with the sound associated with shots fired from the officer's gun.

Click to watch:

* obama.jpg (12.43 KB, 460x306 - viewed 9 times.)

* image28.jpg (32.97 KB, 400x400 - viewed 10 times.)

* mcconnel (3).jpg (28.9 KB, 236x394 - viewed 9 times.)

* koch.png (27.11 KB, 170x128 - viewed 9 times.)
« Last Edit: Aug 31, 2014, 09:25 AM by Rad » Logged
Most Active Member
Posts: 28048

« Reply #15295 on: Sep 01, 2014, 06:04 AM »

Russian foreign minister calls for immediate ceasefire in Ukraine

Lavrov says talks should focus on a truce and Ukraine forces must retreat from positions where they can harm civilians

Shaun Walker in Mariupol, Dan Roberts in Washington and agencies, Monday 1 September 2014 10.23 BST      

Russia's foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, has said negotiations taking place in Minsk to resolve the crisis in eastern Ukraine should seek an immediate ceasefire.

Lavrov added that Ukrainian forces must pull back from positions from which they can hit civilians.

"They must leave positions from which they can harm the civilian population," Lavrov told students in Moscow on Monday. "I very much count on today's negotiations being devoted above all to the task of agreeing an immediate ceasefire, without conditions."

The Ukrainian president, Petro Poroshenko, accused Moscow of "direct and open" aggression against his country, as forces battled a Russian tank battalion for a vital airport in Luhansk on Monday, and in Ilovaysk, near the east's main city of Donetsk, several hundred Ukrainian forces remained trapped within an encirclement by Russia-backed separatists.

In Mariupol, two Ukrainian seamen were reported missing after an attack by separatist rebel artillery on a patrol boat in the Asov Sea. Eight seamen had been rescued, a Ukrainian border guard official said on Monday.

The talks in the Belarusian capital will bring together representatives of Russia, Ukraine, the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) security forum and separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine.

The malignant tumor Pig Putin has called on Kiev to enter discussions on "statehood" for the south-east regions of Ukraine a day after the EU gave Russia a week to de-escalate the situation in Ukraine or face further sanctions.

In excerpts of an interview with state television broadcast on Sunday evening, the Russian president said talks between Ukrainian authorities and separatist leaders in the east should begin immediately and be about "not just technical issues but on the political organisation of society and statehood in south-eastern Ukraine".

His spokesperson later said malignant tumor Pig Putin had not meant the region should gain independence, but that dialogue should begin. Western leaders have accused Russia of fanning the flames of the insurgency in east Ukraine, and in recent weeks of providing direct military assistance, as the armed rebels suffered a number of losses to the Ukrainian army and appeared on the brink of defeat.

The EU said late on Saturday that if Russia did not reverse course in Ukraine within a week, a further round of sanctions would be imposed, but there is disagreement within the 28-member block about the effectiveness of sanctions and a fear that more serious measures would also harm European economies.

Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, said the sanctions would build on existing measures against Russia. Senior diplomats confirmed the punitive measures were not so much new as a tightening of the restrictions imposed in July on Russian financial, energy and defence sectors. "It's about closing loopholes," said a diplomat. They warned, however, that it could be weeks before any new sanctions were applied, perhaps as late as October.

The Senate foreign relations committee chair and Obama administration loyalist, Robert Menendez, called for the US to arm the Ukrainian military.

Speaking in Kiev, he said: "This is a watershed moment. Thousands of Russian troops are here and are directly engaged in what is clearly an invasion. We should be providing the Ukrainians with the types of defensive weapons that will impose a cost upon Putin for further aggression."

Kiev has said it will not negotiate with the leaders of the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk people's republics, which it lists as terrorists. But in an apparent victory for Moscow, the separatists said they would be taking part in talks in Minsk this week with a delegation from Kiev.

Analysts have speculated that malignant tumor Pig Putin does not want a Crimea-style annexation, which would be expensive and militarily difficult, but instead wants to create a "frozen conflict" that would give Moscow permanent leverage in Ukraine.

Since talks between malignant tumor Pig Putin and Poroshenko in Minsk last Tuesday, the situation on the ground has changed, with rebel forces taking control of Novoazovsk in the far south-east of the country, which they are believed to have taken with help from Russian army soldiers and equipment. But the promised assault on the key port city of Mariupol has not materialised.

Many residents have been digging trenches on the outskirts of the city and preparing to defend it. Mariupol was under rebel control at the beginning of the uprising but was taken back by Kiev's forces in June and most of its residents have little appetite for further violence, although many remain sceptical about the Ukrainian government.

Kiev has said it will defend Mariupol from any rebel assault, though there is little sign of serious reinforcements with which to repel any attack. The majority of the forces appear to be from volunteer battalions.

Vadim, a commander in the Azov battalion, known for its far-right leanings, said on Sunday that it was imperative to defend the city because of its strategic importance. "If we lose Mariupol we will lose the war," said the 34-year-old, as he headed to a factory to transport concrete blocks to reinforce checkpoints.

Ukrainian forces said two coastguard vessels came under fire off the coast of Mariupol. Videos from the scene showed a plume of smoke rising from an object several miles offshore. It was unclear how the boats were attacked. People in the vicinity said they heard loud explosions but did not see or hear any aircraft, suggesting they may have been hit by missiles fired from land.

Russia has denied all accusations that its soldiers are active in eastern Ukraine, stating that a group of paratroopers captured inside the country had got lost and crossed "by accident", and all other Russians fighting in the region were volunteers or serving soldiers "on holiday".

The paratroopers were handed back to Russia over the weekend after what a Russian general, Alexei Ragozin, described as "very difficult" negotiations. He said it was unacceptable that the Ukrainians had detained the men, and noted that Russia had returned Ukrainian soldiers who had strayed over the border previously. The Ukrainian soldiers generally crossed the border to escape fighting, whereas Kiev accuses the Russians of coming to Ukraine to wage war.

The latest such group, comprising 63 fighters, was sent back to Ukraine in exchange for the captured paratroopers.

In interviews, the Russian paratroopers claimed they had not realised they were inside Ukraine until they came under fire. The claims that they crossed the border accidentally have been mocked by Kiev, and during the capture of Novoazovsk earlier in the week there were numerous sightings of "green men" – well-equipped soldiers wearing no insignia but immediately distinguishable from the irregular rebels. Nato said it believed at least 1,000 Russian soldiers were operating inside Ukraine.

The malignant tumor Pig Putin, however, has insisted that the conflict is an "internal Ukrainian" matter. His rhetoric in recent days has been bullish, comparing the Ukrainian army offensive in the east to the Nazi siege of Leningrad and reminding the west that Russia is a nuclear power and "it's better not to mess with us".

Oksana Grytsenko contributed to reporting


'Up to 15,000 Russian Soldiers' Sent to Ukraine

by Naharnet Newsdesk
01 September 2014, 13:49

Up to 15,000 Russian soldiers have been sent to Ukraine over the past two months, and at least several hundred have apparently died in combat there, rights groups exposing army abuses told AFP on Monday.

Moscow denies that it has deployed regular troops to Ukraine to prop up separatists battling Kiev forces, but multiple indications have emerged over the past weeks that Russian soldiers are on the ground in Ukraine.

Valentina Melnikova, head of the Committee of Soldiers’ Mothers, the top organization representing the families of military servicemen, said that some 7,000-8,000 Russian troops are believed to be in Ukraine at present.

Citing her own estimates, she added that between 10,000 and 15,000 troops had been deployed to Ukraine over the past two months.

"Unfortunately, I am convinced I am right," she told AFP, saying her estimates are based on information from families whose husbands and sons have been sent on drills but then have gone incommunicado.

"Military commanders are conducting a secret special operation," said Melnikova, who is a member of the defense ministry's public council.

Rights groups say Russian authorities have imposed a virtual blackout on any information about the deployment of servicemen.

The Committee of Soldiers’ Mothers and Citizen and Army, another rights group representing servicemen, said they don't have any officially confirmed casualty lists so far.

But the rights campaigners, citing information from relatives and servicemen, said that at least 200 servicemen might have died in Ukraine.

Sergei Krivenko, head of Citizen and the Army, and Ella Polyakova, head of Soldiers' Mothers in Saint Petersburg, said that some 100 soldiers from the 18th infantry brigade based in Chechnya are believed to have died in Ukraine.

"Authorities should say why soldiers are dying on the territory of another state and why they are keeping silent," said Polyakova, who is also a member of President malignant tumor Pig Putin's advisory council on human rights.

Separately, a Russian opposition lawmaker, Lev Shlosberg, probing Russian soldiers' presence in Ukraine, told AFP on Saturday that some 100 paratroopers based in the northwestern town of Pskov had died in the ex-Soviet country.

Lyudmila Bogatenkova, head of the Soldiers' Mothers group in the southern Stavropol region, added: "A large number of people are dying."

She said a hospital in the town of Rostov, close to the Ukrainian border, was overflowing with the wounded.

NATO has said that "over 1,000 Russian troops" are in Ukraine.


PM: Australia to Match EU on Russia Sanctions

by Naharnet Newsdesk
01 September 2014, 08:47

Australia will toughen its sanctions against Russia over the crisis in Ukraine so they match those of the European Union, Prime Minister Tony Abbott said Monday.

Australia already has some sanctions against Russia, but Abbott said these would be tightened as a result of Moscow's persistent and deliberate violation of its neighbor's sovereignty.

"Australia will lift its sanctions against Russia to the level of the European Union," Abbott told parliament in Canberra.

"There will be no new arms exports, there will be no new access by Russian state-owned banks to the Australian capital market, there will be no new exports for use in the oil and gas industry, there will be no new trade or investment in the Crimea.

"And there will be further targeted financial sanctions and travel bans against specific individuals."

The European Union and the United States in March slapped tough sanctions on Russia over its role in the Ukraine crisis, including Moscow's annexation of Crimea.

On Sunday the EU gave Moscow one week to curb its support for rebels in eastern Ukraine or face a fresh wave of penalties as it warned the escalating crisis was putting all of Europe at risk.

Australia has taken a particular interest in the conflict after 38 of its citizens and nationals died when Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 was shot down over eastern Ukraine in July, killing all 298 on board.

Abbott said Russia had been running a proxy campaign to destabilize Ukraine in "clear breach and defiance of international law" for months and was openly violating Ukraine's sovereignty.

The prime minister said NATO had reported that at least 1,000 Russian soldiers were operating openly inside Ukraine where the conflict has so far cost the lives of some 2,500 people.

"Let's be clear about what's happening here -- Russia started it and Russia must take responsibility for this loss of life," Abbott said.

"And now... Russia quite brazenly is trying to break the eastern Ukraine away from Ukraine itself.

"If Russian troops remain in Ukraine, if Russia persists in its attempt to break up a neighboring country that has done it no harm, it risks becoming an international pariah."

In a statement, Abbott said the tightened sanctions were being coordinated with partners in the United States, Canada and the EU and the government would not rule out further action in the future.


Top U.S. Senator Urges Weapons for Ukraine to Fight 'Invasion'

by Naharnet Newsdesk
31 August 2014, 22:49

The head of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee called Sunday for supplying Ukraine with weapons to fight what he called a "direct invasion" of the country by Russia.

"We should provide the Ukrainians with the type of defensive weapons that will impose a cost upon the malignant tumor Pig Putin for further aggression," Robert Menendez told CNN's "State of the Union" talk show.

"This is no longer the question of some rebel separatists, this is a direct invasion by Russia. We must recognize it as that."

His comments came as Putin raised the stakes in the months-long Ukraine conflict by calling for the first time for statehood to be discussed for the restive east of the former Soviet state.

Kiev has warned it was on the brink of "full-scale war" with Moscow, which Europe fears would put the continent at risk of more widespread conflict.

In particular, the Ukrainian government has said the invigorated rebel push of the past days has included substantial numbers of Russian regular army contingents who are now concentrating forces in big towns across the region.

"I think the European Union, NATO, as well as the United States has to consider this is dramatically different and we have to give the Ukrainians the fighting chance to defend themselves," Menendez, a Democrat, said from Kiev.

Senator John McCain, a Republican who has been very vocal in criticizing Russia, backed Menendez's call, telling CBS's "Face the Nation" that Ukrainians should be given "the weapons they need."

"For God's sake, can't we help these people defend themselves? This is not an incursion. This is an invasion," said McCain, who also sits on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Early Sunday, EU leaders gave Russia a week to reverse course in Ukraine or face a new round of sanctions in a move welcomed by Washington.

President Barack Obama -- who last week held back from calling Russia's recent actions an "invasion" -- is due to host his Ukrainian counterpart Petro Poroshenko at the White House on September 18.


Ukrainian Woman, Held Up to Public Abuse, Is Released

AUG. 31, 2014

MARIUPOL, Ukraine — A woman whose public abuse by pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine roused anger over her treatment and concern for her fate has been freed from detention and allowed to leave rebel-controlled territory.

The woman, Irina Dovgan, 53, was accused by separatists of assisting the Ukrainian Army by acting as an artillery spotter. Separatist soldiers had wrapped her in a Ukrainian flag and forced her to stand on a sidewalk holding a sign saying “She kills our children,” while passers-by slapped and kicked her and spit on her.

A photograph of her mistreatment published by The New York Times stirred widespread outrage in Ukraine, prompted a social media effort to identify Ms. Dovgan and drew the attention of United Nations human rights monitors. The mounting attention precipitated her release.

On Thursday, Mark Franchetti, a reporter for the British newspaper The Sunday Times, and Dmitry Beliakov, a Russian freelance photographer, raised her case in a meeting with a senior rebel military commander, Aleksandr Khodakovsky, the leader of the Vostok Battalion, who ordered her release late Thursday evening in Donetsk, the capital of the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic. Mr. Khodakovsky said those responsible would be disciplined.

“It doesn’t matter what she did,” Mr. Khodakovsky said in an interview. “She should not have been treated that way.”

Still in the clothes and flip-flops she wore when she was arrested five days earlier, her face puffy with bruises, Ms. Dovgan arrived at a hotel lobby minutes after her release in a dazed state and said, “I was prepared to die.”

On Mr. Khodakovsky’s orders, rebel soldiers allowed Ms. Dovgan to retrieve her dog and three cats from her house, which had been looted during her detention, and escorted her to the last separatist checkpoint outside Donetsk.

From there, Ms. Dovgan crossed to the Ukrainian lines and rejoined her family — her husband, Roman Taibov; her 16-year-old daughter, Tatyana; her 32-year-old son, Aleksei; and her 1-year-old granddaughter, Sofia — in a town near the Ukrainian-controlled city of Mariupol, where they had fled earlier.

Ms. Dovgan first gained wide recognition in Ukraine as an anonymous, terrified victim, whose face was smeared with hurled tomatoes and spit. But details of her life soon emerged: She studied economics in college and owned a beauty salon in her hometown, Yasinovataya, which was taken by rebels in April.

She was arrested after posting pro-Ukrainian views on social networking sites and giving food and clean clothes to Ukrainian soldiers when they approached the outskirts of her town. Rebels who searched her house found binoculars, she said.

Ms. Dovgan denied that she was a spotter aiding Ukrainian artillery units, and said the separatists never had any evidence that she was. She said she had been forced to stand on the sidewalk while passers-by beat her and spit on her because she refused to incriminate herself after a nightlong beating.

“I just wanted to die,” she said of the ordeal. “I lost myself. I thought: ‘This is my fate. God wants this for me. This is how it should be. Somebody should endure this.’ ” Rebel soldiers fired pistols beside her head in mock executions and beat her severely, leaving bruises on her arms and legs.

A report by the United Nations released last week that documents the conflict’s toll on civilians drew attention to indiscriminate shelling of residential areas by the Ukrainian Army and a wide range of abuses by pro-Russian separatists, including “killings, abductions, physical and psychological torture.” The report did not provide a definitive figure for the number of people held prisoner by separatists, but as of mid-August at least 498 people were believed to have been detained, often under harrowing conditions.

Separatists, who have introduced the death penalty for some offenses, have paraded prisoners of war in Donetsk and in Luhansk and compelled detainees to stand in public wearing signs hanging from string around their necks that listed their supposed crimes, much as Ms. Dovgan was forced to do.

Artillery barrages by unseen Ukrainian gunners that kill and wound dozens of residents of eastern Ukrainian towns daily have stirred rage. In Donetsk, as in other towns shelled in the conflict, that rage has been channeled into a hunt for artillery spotters.

After her release, Ms. Dovgan met Mauricio Lima, whose photograph drew wide attention to her plight after its publication in The New York Times last Tuesday.

“Thank you,” she said, and then she hugged him.

* ukrainemariupol.png (56.03 KB, 460x387 - viewed 7 times.)

* Menendez.jpg (24.16 KB, 460x307 - viewed 8 times.)

* abbott.jpg (21.86 KB, 460x306 - viewed 7 times.)

* Dovgan.jpg (56.31 KB, 675x450 - viewed 8 times.)
Most Active Member
Posts: 28048

« Reply #15296 on: Sep 01, 2014, 06:10 AM »

Germany Steps Up Its Response to Global Security Crises

AUG. 31, 2014

BERLIN — In an indication of Germany’s growing role on the world stage, the country’s top politicians on Sunday approved the delivery of thousands of machine guns and hand grenades, as well as hundreds of antitank missiles, to Kurdish forces battling Islamic militants in Iraq.

Scarred by its militarism and two resounding defeats in the 20th century, Germany once shied away from conflict zones and limited its involvement to deliveries of humanitarian aid. But, although Chancellor Angela Merkel has yet to articulate a clear policy on intervention, she and her top ministers have dominated efforts to ease the Ukraine crisis. And on Sunday, they moved to approve the weapons for the fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

A solid majority in Parliament backs sending weapons, while opinion polls indicate that up to two-thirds of Germans — weaned on decades of pacifism — oppose the move.

Ms. Merkel, fresh from a European summit meeting in Brussels at which Russia was given a week to pull back in Ukraine or face more sanctions, met senior ministers from both parties in her grand coalition government, and consulted with the leader of the Bavarian sister party to her Christian Democrats about sending the weapons to Iraq.

Parliament is to debate and vote on the weapons deliveries on Monday, but officials said the government had the authority to act in this case without the parliamentary authorization that is required to deploy German troops outside NATO borders.

The weapons are expected to go straight to Kurdish security forces, and delivery will occur only with the approval of the Iraqi government in Baghdad, according to German officials.

The move was the latest sign that Germany, long an economic powerhouse, is playing an increasing role in global security crises.

It has acted strongly before, under Ms. Merkel’s predecessors, most notably deploying German forces as peacekeepers in the Balkans in the 1990s, and backing NATO’s bombing campaign to drive Serbian forces from Kosovo in 1999. Germany has also been part of the international forces in Afghanistan deployed after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in the United States.

But in 2011, under Ms. Merkel, it stayed out of the campaign against Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi in Libya, even abstaining on a key United Nations vote. Germany has also remained one of the NATO members whose military spending is well below the 2 percent of gross domestic product sought by the alliance.

But in January, President Joachim Gauck delivered a speech calling on Germans to step out of the shadows of their Nazi and Communist pasts and act more decisively, with military force if necessary.

Mr. Gauck, whose office carries moral authority but no actual political power, received swift backing from the foreign and defense ministers. Often reluctant to weigh in decisively in crucial debates, Ms. Merkel has so far declined — and did so again just last week — to define her exact position.

She has not, however, hesitated to plunge into diplomacy over Ukraine, conducting dozens of phone calls with President malignant tumor Pig Putin of Russia and repeatedly ruling out a military solution to the crisis.

She conceded on Saturday in Brussels that sanctions had so far failed to defuse the conflict, which has claimed well over 2,000 lives. Over the past week, she said, “the situation has escalated greatly,” as it became “quite clear that Russian weapons and also Russian troops are active in Ukraine.”

“If this situation continues or continues to sharpen, there will be discussion of new sanctions,” she said.

In the coming week, NATO leaders will gather in Wales and are expected to agree on new moves to curb the perceived threat from Russia — particularly to neighboring, ex-Soviet bloc countries now in the Atlantic alliance.

The newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung, citing a confidential document and unnamed German officials, said Sunday that Germany would contribute some 150 troops to new planning and strategy offices to be established in Poland, Romania and the three Baltic nations.

Like other European officials, Germany’s chiefs of intelligence and senior ministers have also sounded an increasingly uncompromising tone toward ISIS, clearly alarmed by its fast-rising influence. Hans-Georg Maassen, the head of Germany’s domestic intelligence agency, noted Sunday that the very brutality of ISIS was drawing young German Muslim recruits.

“The Islamic States is, so to say, the ‘in’ thing — much more attractive than the Nusra Front,” the Qaeda affiliate in Syria, Mr. Maassen told Deutschlandfunk public radio. “What attracts people is the intense brutality, the radicalism and rigor. That suggests to them that this is a more authentic organization.”

“Al Qaeda fades beside the Islamic State when it comes to brutality,” he said, estimating that at least five recruits from Germany had carried out suicide attacks in Iraq or Syria. His agency estimates that more than 400 people have traveled from Germany to join ISIS.


NATO Set to Ratify Pledge on Joint Defense in Case of Major Cyberattack

AUG. 31, 2014

BRUSSELS — When President Obama meets with other NATO leaders later this week, they are expected to ratify what seems, at first glance, a far-reaching change in the organization’s mission of collective defense: For the first time, a cyberattack on any of the 28 NATO nations could be declared an attack on all of them, much like a ground invasion or an airborne bombing.

The most obvious target of the new policy is Russia, which was believed behind computer attacks that disrupted financial and telecommunications systems in Estonia in 2007 and Georgia in 2008, and is believed to have used them in the early days of the Ukraine crisis as well.

But in interviews, NATO officials concede that so far their cyberskills are limited at best.

While NATO has built a gleaming new computer security center, and now routinely runs computer exercises, it possesses no cyberweapons of its own — and, apparently, no strategy for how it might use the weapons of member states to strike back in a computer conflict. In fact, its most powerful members, led by the United States and Britain, have spent billions of dollars on secret computer offensive programs — but they have declined so far to tell NATO leaders what kind of weapons they might contribute in a NATO-led computer conflict.

“Our mandate is pure cyberdefense,” Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the departing NATO secretary general, said during a visit to Washington over the summer. “Our declaration is a start,” he said, “but I cannot tell you it is a complete strategy.”

NATO’s tentative steps into the realm of computer conflict, at a moment when Russian, Chinese and Iranian “patriotic hackers” have run increasingly sophisticated campaigns, show the alliance’s troubles in innovating to keep up with modern warfare, at a moment when it is also facing one of its greatest political challenges since the end of the Cold War.

The change in NATO’s definition of an “armed attack” will leave deliberately unclear what would constitute a cyberattack so large that the alliance might declare that the action against one of its members could lead to response by the entire alliance under Article V of its charter. “The judgment will lay with the impact,” said Douglas E. Lute, the American ambassador to NATO, when he spoke in late July at the Aspen Security Forum. “Does it look like it will rise to the level of an armed attack?”

Deterrence is all about ambiguity, and the implicit threat that NATO would enter a computer conflict in defense of one of its members is full of those ambiguities. “They fail to get to the heart of the quintessential question about NATO’s cybersecurity obligations,” Julianne Smith, a former Pentagon official, now at the Center for a New American Security, wrote earlier this year for Chatham House, the British foreign policy center. “What constitutes an ‘attack’ and what capabilities might be provided to a member experiencing an attack?”

Here at NATO headquarters, where top officials who were focusing on computer issues for the summit meeting are now preoccupied by Russia’s next moves, the mere declaration itself is considered significant progress. It was only after the Estonia attacks that the alliance paid real attention to the threat. Today Estonia, which President Obama will visit starting Tuesday night, has become the crown jewel in NATO’s computer defense efforts, the place where cyberstrategy is developed and the site of annual NATO computer security exercises, called “Locked Shields.”

In interviews, officials said that the declaration that would be ratified this week — it was already embraced by NATO defense ministers in June — marks a long-delayed recognition that a NATO nation could be crippled without a shot being fired. In 2010 the NATO council rejected the proposal that a computer attack on a nation’s electric grid or its financial systems might prove so damaging it should be considered the equivalent of a conventional, armed attack. (NATO has only invoked Article V — the declaration that it would come to the aid of a member state — one time, after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States, and the Bush administration largely waved away the offer of help.)

“They just weren’t ready to think about cyberattacks in 2010,” recalled Ivo H. Daalder, the American ambassador to NATO during Mr. Obama’s first term and now president of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. “It’s a measure of how far we’ve come on this issue that there’s now a consensus that a cyberattack could be as devastating as any other kind of attack, maybe even more so.”

But Mr. Daalder noted that NATO’s own ability to defend against computer attacks is “still pretty basic,” and it has no ability to execute a “forward defense” that involves going into an adversary’s computer systems and shutting down an attack.

“They could leave that to member states,” he said, but would handle it under a NATO chain of command. Yet the NATO members themselves, he noted, may have little understanding of what the United States, Britain or other larger computer powers were able to do.

In fact, NATO officials say they have never been briefed on the abilities of the National Security Agency and United States Cyber Command, or those of The Government Communications Headquarters, or GCHQ, its British equivalent. Both countries have routinely placed sensors into computers, switching centers and undersea cables for years, as the documents released by Edward J. Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor, make clear.

The idea is to see an attack massing, and, if the president so ordered, to be able to take out a foreign computer server, or network, to halt an attack. But NATO officials ended up reading press accounts and the Snowden documents in search of an understanding of how the United States conducted computer operations against Iran, or how it monitors hacking units of China’s People’s Liberation Army.

“If conventional war or nuclear war were to break out,” one senior NATO official said in an interview here, “there are detailed plans about how we would respond, and what capabilities are at the disposal of the NATO military structure. We don’t have that in the cyberrealm,” he said, in large part because the United States, Britain and Germany do not want many of the other NATO members to understand what kind of abilities they have.

Correction: September 1, 2014

An earlier version of this article misidentified the organization for which Julianne Smith works. She is at the Center for a New American Security, not the New America Foundation.

* CYBER-articleLarge.jpg (41.81 KB, 600x463 - viewed 7 times.)
« Last Edit: Sep 01, 2014, 06:28 AM by Rad » Logged
Most Active Member
Posts: 28048

« Reply #15297 on: Sep 01, 2014, 06:14 AM »

Bosnia Arrests 13 Serbs over War Crimes

by Naharnet Newsdesk
01 September 2014, 14:13

Thirteen Bosnian Serbs, including former top police officials, were arrested on Monday on charges of involvement in the killing of Croats and Muslims at the start of the country's 1992-95 war.

The men were arrested in the northern towns of Doboj and Teslic where the killings allegedly took place, the state prosecutor's office said in a statement.

They are also suspected of having persecuted, forcibly displaced and detained hundreds of people in the area at the start of the war in 1992.

The case was forwarded to the prosecutor's office by the U.N. court set up to investigate war crimes during the conflict.

The Hague-based International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) handles cases involving top war crimes suspects while local courts handle other cases.

Some 100,000 people were killed during the Bosnian war.

* bosnia.jpg (11.7 KB, 460x259 - viewed 7 times.)
Most Active Member
Posts: 28048

« Reply #15298 on: Sep 01, 2014, 06:15 AM »

09/01/2014 12:20 PM

Islamist Influx: Several Radicalized Ex-German Soldiers in Iraq

Germany on Sunday presented the list of weapons it plans to send to the Kurds in northern Iraq. Some of them, though, may end up being used against former German soldiers. SPIEGEL has learned that 20 ex-Bundeswehr troops have joined jihadists in the region.

The German government over the weekend reached a decision on the weapons it plans to ship to the Kurds in northern Iraq to help them combat the advancing militants from the Islamic State (IS). But SPIEGEL has learned that it won't be easy to find a legal path to actually deliver those weapons. Furthermore, some of them may end up being used against former German soldiers.

According to security sources in Berlin, around 20 former members of Germany's Bundeswehr, as its military is known, have traveled to Syria and Iraq, apparently with the intention of joining Islamist extremist groups there. They join an estimated 400 other German jihadists who have already traveled to the region. Most of those, however, had no previous military experience, making the 20 trained Bundeswehr soldiers particularly valuable.

MAD, the German military's intelligence service, sees Islamism as a growing problem within Germany's military. Just recently, a former Bundeswehr sergeant, who had previously been decommissioned because of his Islamist leanings, was prevented from traveling to the crisis region.

Over the weekend, Hans-Georg Maassen, head of the Office of the Protection of the Constitution (BfV), Germany's domestic intelligence agency, voiced concerns that the flow of Islamists from Germany to Syria and Iraq will continue. He said that some younger radicalized Muslims are attracted to IS in particular because of the group's brutality. "The Islamic State is, so to speak, the 'in' thing within the scene," Maassen said. It is "much more attractive than Jabhat al-Nusrah, the al-Qaida offshoot in Syria. What attracts people is its high degree of brutality, the radicalism and the rigor."

Germany Worried about a Kurdish State

That same brutality is what led Germany to depart from its decades-old policy of not sending weapons into war zones. After reaching an agreement on sending weapons in mid-August, the German government over the weekend announced what weapons it intends to send. The list included 16,000 assault rifles, 40 machine guns and 240 anti-tank weapons along with 500 anti-tank rockets. Some 10,000 hand grenades and 8,000 pistols are to be sent.

How exactly the arms will get to the Kurds remains unclear. According to German laws governing the export of weapons, any such deal must be approved by the German economics minister who, in turn, needs written assent from the government of the receiving country. But the new government in Baghdad has not yet taken office. Sources have told SPIEGEL that officials in Berlin are currently trying to find a workaround.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen presented the weapons list on Sunday evening in Berlin, saying the arms shipment should be enough to equip 4,000 Kurdish soldiers. Steinmeier acknowledged that it was a difficult decision, citing the possibility that the weapons may ultimately be used by the Kurds to fight for their own independent state. He told the Hanover daily Hannoverschen Allgemeinen Zeitung that the volume of the shipment was calibrated so that "no arms caches could be established that might later be used in other conflicts."

Steinmeier reiterated his concerns about the founding of a Kurdish state saying that he is worried "that an independent Kurdistan would result in additional Iraqi regions splitting off, for example in the south and surrounding Basra." The result, he continued, would be "new fights over new borders and state territories." That would "result in entire regions becoming ungovernable."

Still, the German foreign minister said, the advance of the Islamists "isn't just a human tragedy of unimaginable proportions but also an existential threat for the region of northern Iraq and for the weak Iraqi state as a whole."


* image-743673-panoV9free-hwxn.jpg (26.87 KB, 520x250 - viewed 7 times.)
Most Active Member
Posts: 28048

« Reply #15299 on: Sep 01, 2014, 06:17 AM »

Turkey Detains Dozens of Police in New Swoop against Erdogan Foes

by Naharnet Newsdesk
01 September 2014, 11:32

Turkish authorities on Monday detained some two dozen police officers in new nationwide raids over an alleged plot to overthrow the Islamic-rooted government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Police conducted early morning raids in 16 cities across Turkey, including Istanbul as well as the western province of Izmir, and detained at least 20 police officers, private NTV television reported.

Among those arrested is Yakup Saygili, the former chief of the police anti-fraud unit, it added.

It was the fourth such wave of raids since July as the government cracks down on what Erdogan has described as a "parallel state" within the security forces.

Arrest warrants were issued for at least 34 officers accused of a number of offences including illegally eavesdropping on top officials and attempting to overthrow the government.

Since July, dozens of police officers have been arrested and placed in custody on suspicion of forming a criminal organisation and wire-tapping hundreds of people including Erdogan.

The new arrests appeared to represent a new offensive against the movement of Erdogan's former ally Fethullah Gulen in the wake of a vast corruption scandal that broke late last year implicating Erdogan and his inner circle.

Erdogan has long accused followers of U.S.-based Muslim cleric Fetullah Gulen of establishing a "parallel state" by using its sway in Turkey's police and the judiciary and of concocting the vast corruption scandal.

Erdogan on Thursday moved from the office of prime minister to president after his August 10 election victory, with his close ally, former foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu, taking the post of premier.

Erdogan had said Davutoglu was chosen due to his "determination to fight" the parallel state.

* turkey.jpg (18.3 KB, 460x288 - viewed 6 times.)
Pages: 1 ... 1018 1019 [1020] 1021 1022 ... 1363   Go Up
Jump to: