Archive | June 2nd, 2012

What is yours is mine, what is mine is my own

NOVANEWS

The Ethiopian land giveaway

By Graham Peebles

Graham Peebles highlights the injustices and hardships caused to ordinary Ethiopians by their government’s policy of giving away agricultural land to foreign cash-crop investors and land speculators.

It is a colonial phenomenon: appropriate land for the needs of the colonists and to hell with the indigenous people. Might is right, be it military or economic. The power of the dollar rules supreme in a world built upon the acquisition of the material, the perpetuation of desire and the entrapment of the human spirit.

Africa has for long been the object of Western domination, control and usury – this was so under the British, the French and the Portuguese of old. Now the “new rulers of the world” – large corporations from America, China, Japan, the Middle East, India and Europe – are engaged in extensive land acquisitions in the developing countries. The vast majority of available land is in sub-Saharan Africa where, according to a report by the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, “80 per cent [of worldwide land] … that is potentially available for expanded rain-fed crop production” is thought to be. Huge industrial agricultural centres are being created, producing crops for the investors’ home market.

Meanwhile, indigenous people, subsistence farmers and pastoralists are forced off the land, the natural environment is levelled, the land is purged of wildlife and small rural communities that have lived, worked and cared for the land for centuries are destroyed. The numbers of people potentially affected by the land grab and its impact on the environment is staggering. The UN report states: “By 2020, 135 million people may be driven from their land as a result of soil degradation, with 60 million in sub-Saharan Africa alone.”

This contemporary land grab has come about as a result of food shortages, the financial meltdown in 2008 and in light of the United Nations world population forecast of 9.2 billion people by 2050. It is also the result of three main consequent pressures.

1. Food insecurity, especially in the Middle East and on the Asian continent;

2. Growing worldwide demand for agro-fuels; and

3. The rise in investment in land and soft commodities, such as coffee, cocoa, sugar, corn, wheat, soya and fruit.

Often investors are simply speculators seeking to make a fast – or indeed slow – buck by “land banking”, sitting on the asset waiting and watching for the price to inflate, then selling. According to a report by the Oakland Institute, “along with hedge funds and speculators, some public universities and pension funds are among those in on the land rush, eyeing returns of 20 to as much as 40 per cent”. Land, not as home but as a chip to be thrown upon the international gambling table of commercialization.

Ethiopia for sale

Everything has a price. This applies even to the people and land of a country, sold into destitution by governments motivated by distorted notions of development at bargain basement prices and with 99-year leases. In some cases the land is literally given away. As the Oakland Institute report states, in Mali one investment group was able to secure one million hectares of fertile land for a 50-year term for free. Elsewhere two dollars per hectare (roughly equal to two Olympic-size athletic grounds) is the going rate. According to a report in the Guardian newspaper, “The lowest prices are in Africa, where, says the World Bank, at least 35 million hectares of land has been bought or leased. Other groups, including, Friends of the Earth, say the figure is higher.”

The Ethiopian government, through the Agricultural Investment Support Directorate, is at the forefront of this African land sale. Crops common to the area, such as maize, sesame and sorghum, as well as wheat and rice, are grown for export to Saudi Arabia, India and China rather than for the benefit of Ethiopians.

The Oakland Institute research “shows that at least 3,619,509 hectares of land (an area just smaller than Belgium) have been transferred to investors, although the actual number may be higher”.

The government claims that the land available for lease is unused and surplus to requirement but this is disingenuous nonsense. Large areas of land are in fact already cultivated by smallholder subsistence farmers and pastoralists using land for grazing, all of which are unceremoniously evicted. Villages are destroyed and indigenous people expelled from their homeland and forced into large-scale village programmes.

Level growing field

Along with the land grab goes the appropriation of water sources. Investors are allowed to do what they will with the land they lease, including diverting rivers, digging canals from existing water sources, building dams and drilling bore holes. The Oakland Institute report quotes the Saudi Star Company as saying that “water will be [the]  biggest issue, and numerous plans are being established (including the construction of 30 kilometres of cement-lined canals and another dam on the Alwero River)”.

In Gambella, where unbelievably a third of the region is available for foreign take up, the government in 2011 offered more than 2,500 square kilometres (1,000 sq miles) of virgin, fertile land to Bangalore-based food company Karuturi Global to lease for 50 years for the equivalent of 1.16 US dollars per hectare. Compared to the average price of 340 dollars per hectare in the Punjab district of India, it is no wonder that the chief executive of Karuturi described “the incentives available to the floriculture industry in Ethiopia as “mouthwatering”, including low air freight rates on the state-owned Ethiopian airlines, tax holidays and no customs duties. Up to 60,000 workers will be employed by Karuturi, which is paying local people less than one dollar a day – well below what the World Bank regards as extreme poverty.

Unstable supply of staples

Around five million people in Ethiopia rely on food aid and live with constant food insecurity that will only increase under the land grab bonanza. According to the Oakland Institute’s report, “commercial investment will increase rates of food insecurity in the vicinity of the land investments”. This will be compounded by the transfer of vast areas of land used for the cultivation of traditional staples, such as teff, to other crops, a matter that is responsible for the price of teff quadrupling in the last four years.

According to a Friends of the Earth International report, “The result [of land sell offs] has often been … people forced off land they have traditionally farmed for generations, more rural poverty and greater risk of food shortages.”

Food security will be realized when local smallholders are encouraged to farm their land and given financial support, machinery and the necessary technology. As the charity Oxfam reports, “Small-scale producers, particularly women, can indeed play a crucial role in poverty reduction and food security. But to do so they need investment in infrastructure, markets, processing, storage, extension and research.”

In other words, keep development small, for, of and close to the people in need, and see them flourish.

Land rights, human cost, environmental damage

The land rights of the indigenous people of Ethiopia are somewhat ambiguous. As a legacy of the socialist dictatorship of the 1970s and 1980s, the government technically owns all land. However, there is protection in law for indigenous people. Article 40/3 of the Ethiopian constitution states: “Land is a common property of the nations, nationalities and peoples of Ethiopia and shall not be subject to sale or to other means of exchange.” Paragraph 4 of the same article of the constitution says that “Ethiopian peasants have the right to obtain land without payment and the protection against eviction from their possession”. In regard to pastoralists affected by the land sell off, Paragraph 5 says that “Ethiopian pastoralists have the right to free land for grazing and cultivation as well as the right not to be displaced from their own lands”.

The UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which Ethiopia signed in 2007, states (Article 26/1): “Indigenous peoples have the right to the lands, territories and resources which they have traditionally owned, occupied or otherwise used or acquired.” Paragraph 2 states: ”Indigenous peoples have the right to own, use, develop and control the lands, territories and resources that they possess by reason of traditional ownership or other traditional occupation or use, as well as those which they have otherwise acquired.”

The declaration also outlines compensation measures for landowners. Article 28/1 states:

Indigenous peoples have the right to redress, by means that can include restitution or, when this is not possible, just, fair and equitable compensation, for the lands, territories and resources which they have traditionally owned or otherwise occupied or used, and which have been confiscated, taken, occupied, used or damaged without their free, prior and informed consent.

Paragraph 2 of the same article says: “Unless otherwise freely agreed upon by the peoples concerned, compensation shall take the form of lands, territories and resources equal in quality, size and legal status or of monetary compensation or other appropriate redress.”
The law, it would appear, is clear. But what is needed is for the international community, in particular the donor countries, to demand that the ruling Ethiopian People’s Democratic Revolutionary Front (EPRDF) implement and respect it.

Land and people

The Ethiopian people are not being consulted or democratically included in the decisions to transform their homeland. This contravenes the Ethiopian constitution, which states (Article 92/3): “People have the right to full consultation and to the expression of views in the planning and implementations of environmental policies and projects that affect them directly”.

These are hollow words to those being evicted from their land, like Omot Ochan, a villager from the Anuak tribe whose family has lived in the forest near the Baro river in Gambella for 10 generations. Speaking to the Guardian, he insisted that the Saudi Star Company had no right to be in his forest. The company had not even told the villagers that it was going to dig a canal across their land. “Nobody came to tell us what was happening,” he said, adding: “This land belonged to our father. All round here is ours. For two days’ walk.”

Well, that was the case until the government leased some 10,000 hectares to the Ethiopian-born Saudi oil millionaire, Sheikh Al Amoudi, to grow rice for his Saudi Star Company. Omot continued: “Two years ago, the company began chopping down the forest and the bees went away. The bees need thick forest. We used to sell honey. We used to hunt with dogs too. But after the farm came, the animals here disappeared. Now we only have fish to sell.” With the company draining the wetlands, the fish will probably be gone soon, too.

Sheikh Al Amoudi plans to export over a million tonnes of rice a year to Saudi Arabia. To ease relations with the regime of Meles Zenawi and, as the Guardian states, “to smooth the wheels of commerce, Al Amoudi has recruited one of Meles’s former ministers, Haile Assegdie, as chief executive of Saudi Star”.

Traditional land rights for people who have lived on the land in Gamabella and elsewhere for centuries are being ignored and, in a country where all manner of human rights are routinely violated, legally binding compensations are not being paid.

Government-drafted lease agreements with investors state that the Meles regime will hand over the land free of any “encumbrances”, i.e. people and property – in fact, anyone living or using the land to graze their livestock or pastoralists.

According to the Independent newspaper, “Ethiopia is forcing tens of thousands of people off their land so it can lease it to foreign investors, leaving former landowners destitute and in some cases starving.” This, it would appear, is seen as a price worth paying by the Ethiopian government and those multinationals appropriating the land.

 

Posted in AfricaComments Off on What is yours is mine, what is mine is my own

Zio-Nazi Troops, Nazi settlers force village to recite ‘I love Israel’

NOVANEWS

Zio-Nazi forces and Nazi settlers raided a village northwest of Jerusalem earlier this week, and humiliated and abused its residents, a local official said.Residents of al-Nabi Samwil were working on their land on Monday when Zio-Nazi forces, accompanied by settlers, arrived and demanded to see villagers’ ID cards, head of the local governor’s office Mohammad Tari told Ma’an.

Zio-Nazi officers ordered young men from the village to sing, dance and say “I love Israel.” When the villagers refused they were physically attacked, Tari said.

Village resident Eid Barakat said Zio-Nazi border police were behind the forced humiliation, which left a number of villagers with moderate injuries.

Meanwhile, a group of settlers drove around the village trying to run over youths, and assaulted 16-year-old Ahmad Barakat, Tari added.

An Zio-Nazi military spokeswoman said the army had “no record of the incident,” while a border police spokesman said he was looking into it.

Tari said Zio-Nazi settlers attacked the village most days, and that they wanted to confiscate residents’ land. Around 200 Palestinians live in al-Nabi Samwil, located in the seam zone between Zio-Nazi separation wall and the 1967 green line bordering Jerusalem.

 

Posted in Palestine AffairsComments Off on Zio-Nazi Troops, Nazi settlers force village to recite ‘I love Israel’

10 Zionist warplanes violate Lebanese airspace Zionist warplanes

NOVANEWS

Israeli warplanes (file photo)

Ten Israeli warplanes have violated Lebanon’s airspace and flown over the country in flagrant violation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1701, Press TV reports.

ed note–remember as you read this, that Israel considers Lebanon to be part of GREATER ISRAEL, as outlined in the Bible–

…On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abraham, saying “To your descendants I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river Euphrates”…Genesis, 15:18

God spoke unto us saying, ‘Go to the hill-country and all the places nigh thereunto… in the Arabah, the hill-country and in the Lowland… in the South and by the sea-shore, the land of the Canaanites, and Lebanon, as far as the great river, the river Euphrates…Go in therefore and possess the land which the Lord swore unto your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, unto them and to their seed after them…Deuteronomy 1:6–8

Every place whereon the sole of your foot shall tread shall be yours, from the wilderness, and Lebanon, from the river Euphrates, even unto the hinder sea shall be your border…Deuteronomy 11:24

…From the wilderness, and this Lebanon, even unto the great river, the Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and unto the Great Sea toward the going down of the sun, shall be your border…Joshua 1:4

According to a statement issued by the Lebanese army on Friday, 10 Israeli warplanes violated Lebanese airspace at different stages, beginning at 9:38 a.m. local time, a Press TV correspondent in Beirut reported.

The statement said that the Israeli aircraft entered Lebanon above the southern border and flew over several Lebanese territories before leaving at 11:20 a.m. local time.

Israel violates Lebanon’s airspace on an almost daily basis, claiming the flights serve surveillance purposes.

Lebanon’s government, the Hezbollah resistance movement, and the UN Interim Force in Lebanon, known as UNIFIL, have repeatedly condemned the overflights, saying they are in clear violation of UN Resolution 1701 and the country’s sovereignty.

UN Security Council Resolution 1701, which brokered a ceasefire in the war of aggression Israel launched against Lebanon in 2006, calls on Tel Aviv to respect Beirut’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

In 2009, Lebanon filed a complaint with the United Nations, presenting over 7,000 documents on pertaining to Israeli violations of Lebanese territory.

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Who is Pavlov’s Dog? – A Satire

NOVANEWS

raffismile.jpg

(left, Raffi) 

“This isn’t about protecting dogs, is it? It’s about training white males.”

by Henry Makow Ph.D.

(updated from June 24, 2008) 

This session of the Human Rights Tribunal of the 17th District of the Feminist Soviet of Canada is set to begin. Ms. Rutherford- Armstrong is the Prosecutor.  The Judge is Madam Chegundi Tsunami, a woman of color. The Defendant is Henry Makow of Winnipeg, white male. 

Rutherford-Armstrong: 
 “Mr. Makow, at 10.25 a.m. on May 22, 2012 at the corner of Maple and Higgins, you were overheard to utter the words, “bad dog” to your pet.  How do you plead?”

Makow: “Guilty with an explanation, Madame. ”

Rutherford: 
“And what is your explanation?”

Makow:
 “I’m trying to teach Raffi not to chase cats. He has pulled me off my bike more than once and broken many retractable leashes.”

Rutherford:
 “The witness, a Ms. Termagant, reported that there was a hint of impatience in your voice. This was confirmed by tapes from a nearby CCTV.  Is this true?”

Makow: “Yes, it’s possible.”

Rutherford:
  “Do you realize how damaging this is to a dog’s self esteem? Demonizing him as “bad”? Withdrawing affection?”

Makow: “I was just trying to train him. I wasn’t angry. I still loved him.”

Rutherford:
 “Mr. Makow, do you have any professional credentials in the field of dog training? Have you read any Feminist theorists?”

Makow: 
“No.”

Rutherford: “Then, you wouldn’t know how to train a dog, would you?”

Makow:  “Well, I think I can figure it out. I do praise him when he obeys.”

Rutherford:
 (shaking her head in disgust)  “Your Honor, please note Makow’s arrogance, typical of someone who has enjoyed the fruits of Patriarchy all his life.  What makes you think the dog should obey you?”

Makow:
  “Well he belongs to me.”

Rutherford: 
“How can you ‘own’ another living being? Aren’t you being paternalistic? Doesn’t he have a right to find self-fulfillment on his own terms?”

Makow: 
(speechless) “He’s dependent on me now.”

Rutherford: 
“Neighbors report that Makow often summons his dog by saying, “C’mon, you miserable mutt.” This is psychological abuse.”

Makow:  “I’m just kidding. It’s a term of endearment.”

Judge Chegundi-Tsunami –   “The dog can’t tell whether you’re kidding or not. It’s abuse!” 

Rutherford: “Your Honor, we’ve had other reports of Makow leaving his dog outside a supermarket. The dog jumps up on him when he emerges but Makow scolds him. This causes stress and self-doubt in the animal.”

Makow:
 “Raffi has sharp claws. I know he’s happy to see me; I fend him off as gently as possible.”

Rutherford:
 “But you are rejecting him, nonetheless?”

Makow: “Don’t men have any rights? ‘When a white male is cut, does he not bleed?'”

Judge Chegundi-Tsunami: “That’s enough facetiousness. I won’t warn you again. You will be held in contempt.”

Rutherford: “Your Honor, Makow is exhibiting the abusiveness characteristic of all white males. The pattern of white man-dog inequality is the original model for oppression throughout history. It is the cause of imperialism. By making an example of Makow, we can end injustice once and for all.” 

Judge Chegundi Tsunami: “I am in complete agreement. Makow is interfering with the dog’s natural instincts. The tendency of white men to try to control Nature is the reason for global warming and war, as well as discrimination against Jews, women, children, homosexuals, people of color, and animals.

Mr. Makow, you’ll be able to ponder your misdeeds in jail.  Thankfully, Patriarchy is dead and you are just a hoary remnant. Your kind will be extinct in a few more years and mankind can enter a very very long period of peace and harmony.

I sentence you to 30-days and fine you $500 for animal abuse. Also, you will take a six-month Anger Management Course. I hope you’ll think twice before saying “bad dog” again.

Raffi will become a ward of the State and will be raised by professionals. Mr.Makow, do you have anything to say?”

Makow: “This isn’t about protecting dogs is it? It’s about training white males.”

Chegundi Tsunami: “Be careful what you say, Mr. Makow. I’m warning you! Bad man! Bad man!”

Posted in Human RightsComments Off on Who is Pavlov’s Dog? – A Satire

US Retains Plans for Military Option in Syria

NOVANEWS

Clinton blamed Russia for contributing to potential civil war, even as Washington aids rebel militias

antiwar.com

Even as U.S. officials criticize direct military action in Syria as unworkable, the Obama administration continues to make clear that the military option is being considered and plans drawn up.

“As you know, my job is to provide the commander-in-chief with options,” said Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. “I think the military option should be considered.”

Actions under discussion include sending in ground troops with the stated mission of safeguarding Syria’s weapons and providing humanitarian assistance. But the imposition of U.S. soldiers would undoubtedly tear the country into all out war and probably end in regime change directed by Washington.

The UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon said that further “massacres” like was seen in Houla last week “could plunge Syria into catastrophic civil war.” What kind of action world powers would justify at that undefined point is unclear.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also warned of civil war, but blamed Russia for contributing to that potential. This, even as the U.S. continues to aid and arm the rebel militias who themselves say they are preparing for war. Many of them are fighting with the explicit intention of provoking an international or U.S.-led action to depose the regime of Bashar al-Assad.

Rep. Mike Rogers, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said the U.S. can aid the rebels to bring about regime change. ”There are certain things and capabilities that the United States has that can, in conjunction with our Arab League partners, could provide a tipping point so it would provide certain capabilities to units that we know who are trying to overthrow the Assad regime that we can vet, that we can test, that we can understand who completely that they are,” he said Wednesday.

But no amount of aid to the Syrian insurgents could put them on a par with the military capabilities of the Assad regime. Backed by Russia, Assad’s powerful and well-equipped security forces would likely react to more aggressive arming of the rebels by cracking down even harder, justifying further brutality by pointing to foreign intervention.

The White House said on Tuesday it opposes military intervention in Syria“We do not believe that militarization, further militarization of the situation in Syria at this point is the right course of action,” Obama spokesman Jay Carney said. “We believe that it would lead to greater chaos, greater carnage.”

Unfortunately, U.S. policy of aiding the rebel militias – just like Russia’s policy of aiding the Assad regime – is emboldening one side in a civil conflict. Prolonging this conflict in this way may lead to a worsening situation on the ground, at which point direct military action might be easier to justify rhetorically.

Posted in SyriaComments Off on US Retains Plans for Military Option in Syria

US Retains Plans for Military Option in Syria

NOVANEWS

Clinton blamed Russia for contributing to potential civil war, even as Washington aids rebel militias

antiwar.com

Even as U.S. officials criticize direct military action in Syria as unworkable, the Obama administration continues to make clear that the military option is being considered and plans drawn up.

“As you know, my job is to provide the commander-in-chief with options,” said Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. “I think the military option should be considered.”

Actions under discussion include sending in ground troops with the stated mission of safeguarding Syria’s weapons and providing humanitarian assistance. But the imposition of U.S. soldiers would undoubtedly tear the country into all out war and probably end in regime change directed by Washington.

The UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon said that further “massacres” like was seen in Houla last week “could plunge Syria into catastrophic civil war.” What kind of action world powers would justify at that undefined point is unclear.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also warned of civil war, but blamed Russia for contributing to that potential. This, even as the U.S. continues to aid and arm the rebel militias who themselves say they are preparing for war. Many of them are fighting with the explicit intention of provoking an international or U.S.-led action to depose the regime of Bashar al-Assad.

Rep. Mike Rogers, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said the U.S. can aid the rebels to bring about regime change. ”There are certain things and capabilities that the United States has that can, in conjunction with our Arab League partners, could provide a tipping point so it would provide certain capabilities to units that we know who are trying to overthrow the Assad regime that we can vet, that we can test, that we can understand who completely that they are,” he said Wednesday.

But no amount of aid to the Syrian insurgents could put them on a par with the military capabilities of the Assad regime. Backed by Russia, Assad’s powerful and well-equipped security forces would likely react to more aggressive arming of the rebels by cracking down even harder, justifying further brutality by pointing to foreign intervention.

The White House said on Tuesday it opposes military intervention in Syria. “We do not believe that militarization, further militarization of the situation in Syria at this point is the right course of action,” Obama spokesman Jay Carney said. “We believe that it would lead to greater chaos, greater carnage.”

Unfortunately, U.S. policy of aiding the rebel militias – just like Russia’s policy of aiding the Assad regime – is emboldening one side in a civil conflict. Prolonging this conflict in this way may lead to a worsening situation on the ground, at which point direct military action might be easier to justify rhetorically.

Posted in SyriaComments Off on US Retains Plans for Military Option in Syria

WATCH: Palestinians going to Madonna concert stopped by wall

NOVANEWS

Haggai Matar

Two brothers from the village of Nil’in got tickets to see Madonna play live in Israel. They started walking to the show, but were stopped by the separation wall built on their lands. “I apologize for being not able to come to your concert for peace,” said one of the brothers.

[UPDATE: I’ve been told the video is inaccessible in the United States, so I’m attaching six screen shots from it at the end of the post for their benefit]

The famous singer chose to perform in Ramat Gan despite being called upon by Palestinian, Israeli and other groups around the world to boycott Israel as long as it maintains an apartheid regime in the occupied territories. To subdue criticism, Madonna invited 600 activists from various peace NGOs to come to the show for free. But activists in Anarchists against the Wall refused the invite, and members in the group stated that they would not come to the show as long as their Palestinian friends are barred from coming too.

 

To drive home the point, several activists in the group shot a short video, showing Sa’id and Muhammad Amira from the village of Nil’in– which tomorrow will be commemorating four years of struggle against the wall constructed on its land – trying to reach the concert. The two brothers are seen holding tickets to the show, and leaving their village towards the main road to Ramat Gan, until they are forced to stop at the wall. The brothers call upon Israeli soldiers to open the gate, but are left unanswered. Attempts to go to a checkpoint or contact Israeli DCO authorities are all in vain as well.

“Ms. Madonna, I would like to apologize, first, for not being able to come to your concert,” says one of the brothers at the end of the clip, and continues thus:

With all the peaceful songs that you sing for peace, in an apartheid state, it doesn’t help the real peace. Because for me as a Palestinian I cannot get in, because I have been suppressed and oppressed and they don’t give me a permit for anything. And I don’t need a favor from (President Shimon) Peres or from anyone, or fromIsrael. As a human I would like to come to your concert. You can see the Israeli apartheid wall that is double the wall of Berlin and that prevents us from accessing everywhere. We are here in a big prison, in a big jail, and it’s the reality of the situation. It’s not about peace or something – it’s about an apartheid state”

Update: six screen shots from the clip, for people in the US who cannot open it:

The brothers leaving the village (from the clip)The brothers leaving the village

Running into the wall (from the clip)Running into the wall

Walking to a chekpoint (from the clip)Walking to a chekpoint

Returning after being turned down at the checkpoint (from the clip)Returning after being turned down at the checkpoint

Calling the Israeli DCO and asking for permits (from the clip)Calling the Israeli DCO and asking for permits

Sending Madonna a message (from the clip)

Posted in Palestine AffairsComments Off on WATCH: Palestinians going to Madonna concert stopped by wall

French president says Syria’s Assad has to go

NOVANEWS

PARIS (AP) — France’s president said Friday that only the departure of Bashar Assad would end the violence in Syria, saying his regime had acted in an “intolerable way.”

Francois Hollande, who was elected in May, again advocated for pressure and sanctions to force out the Syrian leader, continuing France’s tough line on the country, where an anti-government uprising has raged for more than a year.

“The regime of Bashar Assad has conducted itself in an unacceptable, intolerable way and has committed acts that disqualify it” from power, Hollande said after meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Syria’s principal backer and protector.

“There is no possible exit from this situation except with the departure of Bashar Assad,” he added.

International pressure is mounting on Syria, including condemnation Friday from the United Nation’s top human rights body for the massacre last week of more than 100 civilians, apparently at the hands of government troops and pro-regime thugs.

“Sanctions are part of the indispensable and necessary pressure,” Hollande added, while recognizing that the country is hurtling toward civil war.

In March, the U.N. put the death toll from the uprising and crackdown at 9,000, but many hundreds more have died since.

Putin ducked a question about sanctions, saying that they were “still not effective.”

He also would not be drawn on whether Assad should go, saying only that a negotiated solution that was acceptable to the Syrian people would be acceptable to Russia.

“We want to reduce the violence to the minimum,” he said. “We are not for Bashar Assad or for his adversaries. We want to arrive at a situation where the violence is ended and the possibility of a civil war is completely avoided.”

Russia, along with China, has twice shielded Assad’s regime from U.N. sanctions over his crackdown on protests.

The two were among the few countries that voted against Friday’s resolution at the U.N. Human Rights Council, condemning the massacre in the cluster of villages known as Houla.

Moscow has also backed the Syrian government’s conclusion that “extremists” and “militants” — words Damascus uses to refer to rebel fighters — were behind the killings.

According to preliminary U.N. investigations, at least 49 children under the age of 10 were among the dead — with entire families apparently executed in their homes. U.N. investigators have said there is strong evidence that pro-regime fighters were behind the massacre.

Friday’s resolution instructs an expert panel to conduct an “international, transparent, independent and prompt investigation” and echoes calls by U.N. rights chief Navi Pillay for the U.N. Security Council to consider referring Syria to the International Criminal Court.

On his first trip abroad since returning to the presidency, Putin told reporters in Germany that he still believed a political solution in Syria was possible. “It requires a certain professionalism and patience,” he said.

Posted in SyriaComments Off on French president says Syria’s Assad has to go

Mark Dankof’s America Pod-Broadcast May 30, 2012

Mark Dankof’s America Pod-Broadcast May 30, 2012

by crescentandcross

The Grand Pubbah  Himself Mark Dankof interviews independent  filmmaker Merlin Miller of Americana Pictures abouthis run for the US Presidency and about his recently completed screenplay ‘False Flag” based upon the real-life event wherein Israel deliberately attacked the USS LIBERTY in 1967, killing 34 Americans.

mda30may2012miller9xyxy.mp3

Download Here

THANK YOU FOR ASSISTING WITH THE COSTS ASSOCIATED WITH PRODUCING THIS PROGRAM

Posted in Interview1 Comment

Chairman of Joint Chiefs Dempsey: Atrocities in Syria Make Military Intervention More Likely

NOVANEWS

ed note–remember as you read this that for a year now the USGOV has said repeatedly that it had ‘no plans’ for military action in Syria. Those of us living in the real world however knew different, that it was just a matter oftime b efore what was done to Libya was repeated in Syria. The Arab Spring has been nothing more than a a Zionist construct meant to achieve the same thing that took place in Iraq, minus the US troops and to set things in motion for a general war with Israel that in the end will destroy these various Arab countries.

NYT

BEIRUT, Lebanon — International efforts to pressure Syria intensified on Monday, as the United Nations special envoy Kofi Annan began negotiations in the capital, Damascus, and the chairman of the United States Joint Chiefs of Staff warned that continued atrocities could make military intervention more likely.

As the United Nations envoy Kofi Annan began talks in Syria on Monday, activists released a picture of residents swarming a United Nations vehicle Saturday in Houla, the site of a massacre.

William Hague, the British foreign minister, left, with his Russian counterpart, Sergey V. Lavrov, in Moscow on Monday.

Mr. Annan traveled to Syria seeking to salvage his peace plan, which appeared more precarious than ever after the massacre of at least 108 villagers in the Houla area of central Syria. He urged the government to hold to its commitment in March to honor the six-point plan, which included not only a cease-fire, but also political dialogue with the opposition and freedom for Syrians to demonstrate.

“I urge the government to take bold steps to signal that it is serious in its intention to resolve this crisis peacefully, and for everyone involved to help create the right context for a credible political process,” Mr. Annan said. Creating the right climate for progress was the responsibility of not only the government but “everyone with a gun,” he added.

Questions about the viability of the plan were thrown into sharp relief by the massacre in the villages that constitute Houla, near Homs, on Friday, whose victims included 49 children and 34 women by United Nations count. The Security Council on Sunday unanimously condemned the massacre and, while not assigning blame, censured the Syrian government for using heavy artillery against civilians.

The aftermath of the killings continued to reverberate inside Syria. Shops, including the famous Hamadiyah bazaar of Damascus, stayed shut as part of an opposition-led call to observe three days of mourning, according to opposition activists and residents. Damascus has been a bastion of government support. The activists and residents said government agents forced some stores to reopen, particularly in the nut and candy bazaar, by prying open their metal shutters.

Mr. Annan, the envoy of both the United Nations and the Arab League and a former United Nations secretary general, arrived with a new mandate from the Security Council — including Russia, which had usually blocked action against its ally in Damascus — to carry out his plan. He was scheduled to hold talks on Monday with Walid al-Moallem, the Syrian foreign minister, and with President Bashar al-Assad on Tuesday. He will also meet with a variety of other people, including opposition figures, on the trip, which was scheduled before the massacre.

From the beginning, the peace plan has been given slim chances of success. But it was seen as an acceptable means to try to bridge the differences over Syria between the West and the Arab nations on one side and Russia, China and Iran on the other.

Some analysts have called it an international stalling measure, because the Western appetite for military intervention in the conflict is low, even in the absence of Russian opposition.

In Washington, Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, called the massacre “horrific” and “atrocious” and said that he was prepared with military options in Syria should they be requested by the White House. But he otherwise spoke cautiously about American intervention by force.

“There is always a military option, but that military option should always be wielded carefully,” General Dempsey said on Fox News. “Because one thing we’ve learned about war, I have learned personally about war, is that it has a dynamic all its own — it takes on a life of its own.” Nonetheless, he said, “it may come to a point with Syria because of the atrocities.”

White House officials said on Monday that General Dempsey’s television appearances were not a coordinated administration response to Syria, but had been previously planned as part of the commemoration of Memorial Day. In recent days, the Obama administration has come under intensified criticism by some in Congress and by the Republican presidential front-runner, Mitt Romney, who accused President Obama of not doing enough to help the Syrian opposition.

In Moscow, the Russian foreign minister, Sergey V. Lavrov, was slightly more expansive in holding the Syrian government responsible for the violence during comments after a meeting about Syria with his British counterpart, William Hague. And both he and Mr. Hague agreed that the main priority was to fully carry out the peace plan.

Mr. Lavrov repeated Russia’s position that it was tied not to Mr. Assad staying in power, but to the Syrians piloting their own political transition.

“For us, the main thing is to put an end to the violence among civilians and to provide for political dialogue under which the Syrians themselves decide on the sovereignty of their country,” he said.

Despite the increased Russian public pressure on the Syrian government, Mr. Lavrov did echo Syrian government claims that the violence was being fomented by imported terrorists working at the behest of foreign governments — “a clear hand of Al Qaeda, and the threat of terrorism is growing.”

Later, the Foreign Ministry issued a statement saying that Russia’s special representative to the Middle East, Mikhail Bogdanov, had told Riyad Haddad, the Syrian ambassador, that violence against civilians was unacceptable and that the six-point plan had to be implemented.

In Houla, where survivors buried their remaining dead in a mass grave on Monday, new accounts of the killings emerged, adding to earlier statements that some the attacks were by pro-government thugs who went house to house to find victims.

Human Rights Watch quoted one elderly woman from the Abdul Razzak clan as saying she survived by hiding in a back room while gunmen dressed in fatigues killed most of her family.

“I heard several gunshots,” she was quoted as saying, describing how she collapsed in terror until the soldiers left. “I looked outside the room and saw all of my family members shot. They were shot in their bodies and their head. I was terrified to approach to see if they were alive. I kept crawling until I reached the back door. I went outside, and I ran away.”

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