November 20, 2012 By 13 Comments
Afghanistan’s president Hamid Karzai has ordered his top security officials to take full control of the prison at Bagram air base. It’s still run by the US – despite an agreement to transfer power to Afghan authorities signed back in March.
November 20, 2012 By 267 Comments
21st Century Wire says: Too scared to Tweet for fear of another McLibel? First the license paying public get slapped with a snap payout to McAlpine – even though the BBC never actually libeled the man – so what is the technical basis for the payout again? Will we ever know? Tip of the cap, eh. Now ITV are queuing up to make a contribute to the cause, say GBP 500,000? What? Did ITV also libel McAlpine? It’s highly debatable and the public will be interested to see what happens here. Is this just another out-of-court bailout – for the those who don’t need bailing out? This is eerily similar to another recent payout (what will be the total damages collected by the time it’s all said and done?) for a certain set of topless photos published in French magazine CLOSER - arguably a PR stunt which some folks out there have said bares all the hallmarks of a ‘set-up’ right from the beginning. Keep and eye on this one – and that other one… The Sun LAWYERS for Lord McAlpine are seeking a larger payout from ITV than the £185,000 they received from the BBC last week, they have confirmed. The former Tory’s legal team said today it is looking to get a bigger figure from This Morning, which is thought to have until this afternoon to respond to demands. The channel sparked fury after presenter Phillip Schofield brandished a list of names of alleged abusers which he had found on the internet and handed it to the Prime Minister during a live interview, asking if he would investigate them. Ofcom has also launched an investigation into the incident, while ITV said that disciplinary action had been taken. The broadcaster has been contacted by Lord McAlpine’s lawyers, and is expected to have to respond by the end of today. Reports today claimed that ITV could be forced to pay out up to £500,000 in damages. An ITV spokesman said: “We have received correspondence from Lord McAlpine’s representatives and we will be responding in due course.” ITV is the second name in a long list of organisations and individuals who wrongly linked Lord McAlpine to a paedophile ring. Action is also being prepared against a large number of Twitter users – including Sally Bercow, the wife of the Commons Speaker – who identified the peer in connection with the false sex abuse claims… Read more
November 20, 2012 By 337 Comments
Wahington Post Anne Gearan
The Israeli-Hamas conflict is putting the Obama administration at odds with two of its most important partners in the Middle East, threatening to undermine other U.S. objectives in the region at a time of political upheaval.
On Monday, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, which has frequently served as a moderate voice in the region, described Israel as a “terrorist state” and condemned the airstrikes in the Gaza Strip, which is run by the Islamist group Hamas. Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi has warned Israel against a ground invasion and thrown his support behind Hamas’s leadership, sending his prime minister to Gaza.Pyongyang, however, might not be able or willing to follow Burma’s example of reform and opening.The growing outcry has exposed the United States to criticism that it has not done enough to press Israel to agree to a cease-fire. The conflict has also created a wedge in relations with officials in Egypt and Turkey and highlighted the limits of U.S. influence in the aftermath of the revolutions that swept the region last year.
Against this backdrop, President Obama on Tuesday escalated U.S. involvement in trying to resolve the conflict, dispatching Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to meet with officials in Israel, the West Bank and Egypt. She leaves for the region from Phnom Penh, where she took part in the East Asia Summit with Obama.Since the United States does not have relations with Hamas, however, Clinton is scheduled to meet in Ramallah with West Bank Palestinian leaders who are on the sidelines of the Gaza crisis, leaving it unclear how much she can hope to achieve.Hours before Clinton was due to arrive in Israel, police and ambulances were called to… Read More
Clinton Will Visit Middle East As Israel Weighs Risky Choices On Gaza Amid Upheaval Across Middle East
November 20, 2012 By 2 Comments
Washington Post Micheal Birnbaum TEL AVIV — Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will travel to the Middle East on Tuesday to meet with officials in Israel, Gaza and Egypt to discuss ongoing violence in Gaza, White House officials said. Clinton will talk with leaders in Jerusalem, Ramallah and Cairo. She will depart for the region from Phnom Penh, where she was taking part in the East Asia Summit with President Obama. The death toll from Israel’s military operation in the Gaza Strip surpassed 100 on Monday with scant evidence that an Egyptian-brokered truce is in sight. “The president and Secretary Clinton have been talking about the situation throughout the trip,” said Ben Rhodes, the deputy national security adviser for strategic communications, referring to Obama’s four-day trip to Asia, which concludes Tuesday. Obama “met with Secretary Clinton this morning… and they discussed the way forward. … They concluded the best way to advance discussions with leaders in the region is for Secretary Clinton to take this trip beginning with our close partner Israel.” Israel faces an increasingly stark choice between deploying ground troops to further weaken the capabilities of rocket-lobbing militants in Gaza and settling into what would almost certainly be a fragile cease-fire with Hamas, the Islamist group that runs the enclave. Obama spoke with Egyptian President Morsi and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu on the phone Monday night and he spoke again to Morsi on Tuesday morning. The Obama administration has been pressuring the Egyptians to help broker a truce. The United States would support an agreement only if it includes an end to rockets being fired into Israeli territory, Rhodes said. “It’s not a matter of leverage. It’s a matter of what’s in everybody’s best interest,” Rhodes said when asked what leverage Clinton will bring with her. While negotiators in Cairo sought to find common ground Monday, neither Israel nor Hamas appeared ready to give way, and each articulated aims that the other appeared unlikely to accept. Khaled Meshal, the exiled leader of Hamas, said in Cairo that his group did not want a ground war but was “not fearful” of it. A backdrop of upheaval across the Middle East has only added to the tension, with the internal struggle in Syria and Israel’s threats against Iran over its nuclear program creating uncertainty on multiple fronts. Israeli President Shimon Peres said Monday that Iran, with flows of money and weapons, was putting “tremendous pressure” on longtime ally Hamas to maintain its belligerent stance. Throughout the conflict, the Israeli military has accused Hamas of turning Gaza into a “front-line base for Iran.” As Israel considers its options, a ground invasion or a truce could each bring significant risks for the Jewish state as well as for Palestinians in Gaza, Israeli analysts said. A ground war would probably result in higher human losses on both sides, erode international support for Israel and galvanize neighboring Arab states that support the Palestinian cause but stayed out of previous flare-ups. Backing away could restart the clock on a new confrontation if grievances were left unresolved.
November 20, 2012 By 3 Comments
Oped News Scott Baker This piece was mostly supplied by one of my colleagues in the public banking movement here in the U.S. but it shows how things are reaching the final breaking point in Spain, and perhaps all of Europe. When the police – 5,000-6,000 in this case – start striking over working conditions, like a 22% cut in pay, the end for the regime is not far behind. We’ve seen this most recently in Russia (with the fall of the ex-Soviet Union) , Tunisia, Egypt, etc. The 1% governs only with the protection of the police in situations like that of Spain, and that protection is now very much in doubt. However, as I said in an earlier article about Europe , such an overthrow will not necessarily lead to a better outcome. It could lead to tyranny, again, something Spain is familiar with, under Franco. See my previous article for a simple but workable solution. “Citizens! Forgive us for not arresting those truly responsible for this crisis: bankers and politicians,” read one banner. When state security forces start to bail, the handwriting is on the wall. Lots of nervous bankers in Europe today. Around 5,000 Spanish police officers marched through the streets of Madrid on Saturday to protest government austerity measures, including frozen pensions and the elimination of their Christmas bonuses. Officers travelled from across Spain to take part in the demonstration which was called by the nation’s main policing union. Protesters blew whistles, shouted slogans, and carried anti-austerity banners as they marched through the city centre to the interior ministry. “Citizens! Forgive us for not arresting those truly responsible for this crisis: bankers and politicians,” read one banner. The Spanish government has imposed harsh spending cuts aimed at saving 150 billion euros between 2012 and 2014. The move has been met with anger and protests from hundreds of thousands of Spanish citizens.
The austerity measures are in exchange for a rescue loan of up to 100 billion euros from the EU to help the country’s stricken banks. “The problem is they take from us to give to others, like the autonomous regions and the banks,” 33-year-old police officer Antonio Perez told AP. But it’s not just their pay the police are worried about. A spokesman for Spain’s Unified Police Union, Jose Maria Benito, said the cuts will affect the nation’s security, adding that working conditions have become more precarious and law enforcement equipment was no longer up to standard. We are here to tell the government that security has to be its priority”in socially convulsive times, we need an adequate police response,” Benito told AP. He added that 15,000 workers who have left the force were not going to be replaced. “Each year, between 1,500 and 2,000 police officers retire and 125 are recruited, which means in three or four years, there will be more insecurity and crime in Spain,” the union’s general secretary Jose Maria Sanchez Fornet said in a speech. The rally comes just three days after an anti-austerity strike in Spain rolled out across the EU – hitting Portugal, Italy, Belgium, and Greece.
November 20, 2012 By 255 Comments
Peter Sterry 21st Century Wire Geopolitics and ethnic cleansing is often a staged affair. The current show of force by Israel, lording over a million and a half residents trapped in their Palestinian poverty cesspit, is no different. Not a week went by after the US election before Israel got the green light from Washington to go for the jugular in Gaza. Indeed, 21st Century Wire predicted before the US election that tensions would flair up and the White House would once again return shoulder to shoulder with Tel Aviv – once the US candidates had finished with America’s favourite Punch ‘n Judy puppet show cum national high school election. To make matters even worse, Israel never managed to squeeze a peace table into their 2012 gov’t budget, again. Hamas are apparently at it again, firing their industrial sized Roman Candles across the border, as the Israelis – in proportionate fashion, have naturally retaliated with F16 air strikes and a ground invasion that will likely transform Gaza from being the pile of rubble it is today, into a pile of dust tomorrow. Meanwhile, the US media is plastered with diatribes about Israelis having to endure the horror of having “only 15 seconds to get into an air raid shelter”. There is something very staged about these rocket attacks from Hamas – time will hopefully flush out the full truth, perhaps Israel still has its links into Hamas – an organisation which was actually started by Israel in 1976 (that’s a fact, look it up). On the surface of the current slaughter in Palestine - aside from the usual sadistic beating administered by Israel’s IDF onto the Jewish state’s indigenous Arab captives, it’s still not totally clear what Tel Aviv will achieve other than a bit of nationalistic, albeit racist blood sport, once their impressive pillar of smoke clears. What is the real end game for this exercise? With all eyes on Gaza, this would be an ideal time for Israel to secure some additional land in the form of some new security zone, or ‘buffer zone’. Chief on this list of course, are new illegal settlements, dotted along the various regions, including Gaza land lost by Jewish settlers in 2005. Settlements will increase – that’s almost a given. But what else? Look for Israel to go for some territory – possibly in the much sought after Golan Heights region in Syria – currently a softer than normal target. South Lebanon is probably off the menu at present, as Hezbollah is too strong and too well organised for Israel to have another go. 2006 presumably did not go so well for the IDF, a bit of an embarrassment on the ground, Israeli soldiers aren’t what they used to be. As we speak, there’s at least 100,000 would-be Israeli soldiers who are laying low, growing their dreads in places like Goa, Chang Mai in Thailand, Sumatra, Costa Rica, Ibiza, Belize and Notting Hill Gate, all hoping to avoid doing their military service at this rather inconvenient moment. Until those conscripts resurface from all of the full moon parties, send in the Druze! The best acquisition for Israel however – within the Hegelian dialect realm of problem, reaction, solution, would be to steal a chunk of the Sinai in Egypt along the Palestinian Gaza border. It’s a perfect opportunity to rewrite the aging agreement with Egypt, particularly if escalation goes overboard in Gaza, and especially if the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt are blamed for trafficking weapons and fighters over Egypt’s Sinai border through a series of dreaded “terror tunnels”. A perfect storm as they say. It will be interesting to see what Israel manages to achieve in terms of hard assets, after all the Palestinian bodies are counted and all the tired rhetoric about ’Israel’s right to defend itself’ is finished splashing through the usual western media and political channels. “We must defend ourselves – and we need to appropriate a bit more land to do it!” We sincerely hope that this (below) isn’t their road map to peace…