Archive | September 29th, 2013

Naziyahu moves to block Iran’s return to diplomacy

NOVANEWS

Israeli leader plans to fight ‘the blitz of smiles’ as the US eyes Rouhani talks.

  • Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu will tomorrow try to foil Iran’s moves towards rehabilitation in the international community during a speech at the UN General Assembly aimed at reversing the diplomatic and public opinion gains made by the new Iranian president Hassan Rouhani.

In remarks late on Saturday before departing for the United States, where he will meet US President Barack Obama later today, Mr Netanyahu signalled that as far as Israel is concerned, nothing has changed but the rhetoric from the years of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who denied the Holocaust and spoke of Israel’s removal. Above all, Mr Netanyahu will stress that Iran is still intent on attaining a nuclear bomb, something Israel views as an existential threat.

“I will tell the truth in the face of the sweet talk and the blitz of smiles. One must speak facts and one must tell the truth,” Mr. Netanyahu said.

In his own UN speech last week, Mr Rouhani last week departed from Mr Ahmadinejad’s rhetoric and acknowledged suffering of Jews during the Holocaust although he made clear in separate remarks that he did not view Nazi crimes as justification for dispossession of the Palestinians.

A phone call Friday between Mr Obama and Mr Rouhani, the first contact between presidents of the two nations since 1979, elicited no official Israeli reaction but for some raised the prospect that the Jewish state, which pulled its diplomats out of the General Assembly to boycott Mr Rouhani’s speech, could eventually become isolated in its continued espousal of unrelenting pressure on Iran, including the threat of military action.

Still, Zalman Shoval, former Israeli ambassador to the US said “We don’t think that at this point the US is being fooled.

“Israel doesn’t want to be the odd man out but doesn’t mind being the one to point to the facts as they are,” he added. “Churchill was called a war-monger in the 1930s but at the end of the day he was right.”

Mr Netanyahu’s closest ally, Avigdor Lieberman, the chairman of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee, hinted yesterday that Israel would act alone militarily to destroy Iranian nuclear capabilities if necessary. “It is worth remembering that with the Iraqi reactor Israel was alone and sounded the alarm,” he wrote on his Facebook page, referring to the 1981 strike on Iraq’s Osirak nuclear reactor. “In retrospect it became clear we were right.”

“The conciliation offensive of Rouhani is no more than an additional fraudulent exercise like the one North Korea did in its time,” Lieberman added.

Mr Netanyahu has said that Iran needs to take four steps to show it is serious about stopping what Israel believes is its drive to a bomb: halt all uranium enrichment, transfer the enriched uranium it has out of Iran, close the Fordow enrichment facility and halt work on a plutonium channel to a nuclear weapon.

Meanwhile, the Shin Bet internal security agency, which is run by the prime minister’s office, yesterday said it is holding an Iranian with Belgian nationality on suspicion he spied in Israel on behalf of Iran’s elite revolutionary guards, including taking pictures of the American embassy in Tel Aviv.

The Shin Bet stressed that the man, who it identified as Ali Mansuri, 55, had joined a unit responsible for terrorist attacks in sites throughout the world. It said he had entered Israel under the name Alex Mans to set up business ventures as a cover for Iranian intelligence activity.

He was arrested at Ben Gurion Airport on 11 September. The agency said he had photographed the US embassy in order to “follow” activity there.

Israel Radio quoted officials in Mr Netanyahu’s entourage in the US as saying the arrest “is further proof that the words coming from Iran do not match the criminal actions it undertakes”. But lawyers appointed by the state to defend Mr Mansuri were quoted by Israel’s Ynet news agency as saying he was “a businessman who is not motivated by an anti-Israel or pro-Iranian agenda.” They said Mr Mansuri was prevented from seeing lawyers for more than a week.

Zahava Galon, head of the liberal Meretz party, yesterday voiced support for the American-Iranian contacts. “I think that cautious contacts between the US and Iran are the correct and necessary step. If there is any way to prevent Iran going nuclear without another war we have a moral obligation to realise it.”

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Why Isn’t Obama Paying Attention to 2012 Exit Polls to Repeal ObamaCare?

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Mr. Yuk the poison prevention logo gets the Obama treatment to lure kids into thinking healthcare is cool, like zombies.

Mr. Yuk the poison prevention logo gets the Obama treatment to lure kids into thinking healthcare is cool, like zombies.

(National Report) – The 2012 election hinged on a single issue – repealing ObamaCare and the expanding deficit. While that might seem like two issues, it really is only one. America still has a Kenyan President in the White House that will ruin this country with ObamaCare.

Stu Rothenberg of Roll Call meditates on Obama’s complete disregard of the real election, the one where Republicans were elected and exit polls revealed a 49/44 public support of ObamaCare Repeal.

There is no denying that Obama won the 2012 presidential election. But that vote shouldn’t be held up as a vote of confidence for Obamacare. And it’s worth mentioning (again) that the Republicans taking a stand against the president were elected, too.

 

In the first phase of ObamaCare, scooter chairs were taken away from Americans, leaving many stranded or dependent on relatives that put parental controls to block out Fox and Friends.

In the first phase of ObamaCare, scooter chairs were taken away from Americans, leaving many stranded or dependent on librul relatives that put parental controls to block out Fox and Friends.

That’s right Stu, Republicans against ObamaCare were elected to the House of Representatives, allowing for a majority in the House. Filibuster hero Ted Cruz was even elected to the Senate! President Obama should bow down to the will of the people and Ted Cruz instead of foreign Muslin leaders. 

Does Obama not read papers or understand the will of the people?

Rothenberg makes a compelling argument, solidifying his position on the will of the people by digging into the meat and bones of the 2012 exit polls.

Another question dug a little deeper. “2010 Healthcare law should be….” 25 percent said repealed completely and 24 percent said repealed in part. Just 18 percent thought it should be “kept as is” while 26 percent said the law should be expanded.

 

Obama must recognize the people elected Ted Cruz in 2012 and repeal ObamaCare.

Obama must recognize the people elected Ted Cruz in 2012 and repeal ObamaCare.

With a quarter of the people wanting the ACA repealed completely, another quarter wanting only parts of the plan repealed the entire governmental structure should be held hostage so the failures of this President can be made clear to the American people that didn’t elect him. 

Sure the people should have elected Romney President. His healthcare reform for Massachusetts is and was popular according to a2010 WBUR poll that revealed 62 percent support for ACA and only 33 percent in opposition, among Massachusetts residents.

But comparing the speculative opinion of a law set to unfold in the future to folks living in the shadow of health coverage isn’t comparing apples to oranges. Both polls need to be thinly veiled abstractions in order to shut down the government. Muddling the waters with the failed Romney campaign is just silly.

Republicans must repeal ObamaCare before the people actually like having health insurance.

Obama has done nothing to support the Republicans elected to the House in 2012. Obama has lowered the deficit, mocking well thought out campaign strategies that now must be revamped.

 

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US drone kills three in Pakistan

NOVANEWS

MIRANSHAH: A US drone strike killed three militants on Sunday in a restive Pakistani tribal region near the Afghan border, officials said.

The strike took place in the Dargamandi area, seven kilometres (four miles) north of Miranshah which is the main town in the North Waziristan tribal region.

The area is a bastion of militants linked to the Taliban and Al-Qaeda.

“A US drone fired two missiles on a militant compound, killing three rebels,” a senior security official told AFP on condition of anonymity.

Another local official confirmed the attack and casualties. However, an intelligence official in Miranshah put the toll at four.

The area targeted by the drone is said to be the stronghold of Afghanistan’s Haqqani network, a guerrilla faction linked to the Taliban.

US drone attacks are deeply unpopular in Pakistan, but Washington sees them as a vital tool in the fight against militants in the lawless tribal areas along the border with Afghanistan.

The Pakistani government has repeatedly protested against drone strikes as a violation of its sovereignty. But privately officials have been reported as saying the attacks can be useful in removing militants from the country.

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I$raHell announces arrest of Iranian ‘spy’

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The US embassy in Tel Aviv on November 20, 2012

Jerusalem (AFP) – Israel’s Shin Bet security service on Sunday announced the arrest on September 11 of an Iranian “spy” carrying photographs of the US embassy in Tel Aviv.

News of the arrest was released just hours after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu left for Washington and New York, determined to expose what he described as “sweet talk” by Israel’s arch-foe Iran.

The suspect, holding a Belgian passport, was sent to Israel by Iran’s elite Republican Guards and arrested at Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion international airport, Shin Bet charged in a statement.

The domestic intelligence service identified him as Ali Mansouri, 58, and said he had enrolled in a “special operations unit of the Revolutionary Guards responsible for numerous terrorist attacks around the world.”

He had been using the fake identity Alex Mans after being recruited last year, the agency said, naming his four alleged handlers as senior Iranian officials.

View gallery.”

Benjamin Netanyahu (right) greets US Secretary of State …

Benjamin Netanyahu (right) greets US Secretary of State John Kerry in Jerusalem on September 15, 201 …

The Shin Bet said that under questioning, the suspect had said he had been promised $1 million to use his position as a businessman to set up companies in Israel on behalf of the Iranian intelligence services to “harm Israeli and Western interests.”

He had previously visited Israel in July 2012 and last January. An Iranian national, the suspect had in 2006 married a Belgian woman whom he had since divorced.

On the diplomatic front, Netanyahu has been dismissive in his response to the drive by Iran’s new President Hassan Rouhani to mend fences with the international community, which culminated in a historic 15-minute telephone conversation with US President Barack Obama on Friday.

Israel, the Middle East’s sole if undeclared nuclear-armed power, remains adamant that Iran is bent on developing a nuclear weapons capability, something it regards as a threat to its existence.

Israeli leaders have repeatedly vowed to take military action rather than see Iran develop a bomb and have called on its US ally to take tougher action against Tehran, saying they see no real change of policy under Rouhani.

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Whore for I$raHell Leads Government Shutdown

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“God bless the Nation of Israel.”

“God bless the Nation of I$raHell.”

“I commend everyone here for respecting the biblical admonition to stand with Israel.”

(Ted Cruz closing his speech to CUFI  in July of 2013)

Nothing like basing your foreign policy on a fairy tale.

Senator Ted Cruz (Likud, Texas), is a very intelligent, witty, and youthful whore for Israel.  And as the US government is “shutdown” on Tuesday, that shutdown is being led by this whoring Israel-firster silver-tongued devil.

Cruz, who received $250 thousand from Sheldon Adelson (Adelson gave the same amount to Cruz’s primary opponent which tells you something), and is backed by the Koch-financed “Tea Party” has been pretty busy recently doing all in his power to prevent poor people from getting health care and to just plain fuck with Barack Obama.  But he wasn’t so busy that he couldn’t introduce US Senate Resolution 252 whose very wording shows he cares more about Israel than he does the United States. Afterall, it’s the likes of Sheldon Adelson who support him.

The resolution makes two demands that Iran must meet before Barry could meet with Rouhani.  In order those demands are:

  1. That Iran recognize Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish State.
  2. That Iran release all US citizens who are prisoners of conscience in Iran.

So the very first thing that Rouhani has to do to meet with the President of the United States is that he has to recognize a third country as having the right to be a state based on bigotry.

Oh, and after that, it might be kind of nice if he’d let some prisoners of conscience who just happen to be Americans out of prison.

The only American one that I know of is Saeed Ibrahimi. There may be others. Whatever they may or may not have done, I put their freedom way over the right of Israel to be a state based in principle on bigotry.

But not Ted Cruz.

He wants to shut down the government and destroy people’s chances to get health care. And don’t write me letters about how fucked up Obama’s plan is. It is fucked up. It is the worst plan of any modern industrialized democratic country. It is also an improvement over what we have now. Our job is to make it better, not abort it. But Americans won’t because Americans are morons who vote for people like Ted Cruz.

You will get what you deserve.

2. And there’s the video to prove it. Ted Cruz getting his orders in Israel right after getting elected.  Watch his head move up and down like a fucking bobblehead doll when Bibi is talking. This is your leadership.

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Old Dog, Old Trick: US, Saudis, Qatar Attempt “Arab Spring” Retread in Sudan

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The Associated Press reveals that recent and ongoing “Arab Spring-style” unrest in Sudan’s capital of Khartoum is led by Sudan’s Western-backed opposition, the National Umma Party, and the various faux-NGO’s and “independent media” organizations created by the West to prop it up. This reveals yet another Western-engineered uprising designed for regime change in favor of a new, Western friendly client regime.

The AP article, Sudanese protesters demand the regime’s ouster,” first claims:

Activists acknowledge they have no unified leadership or support from political parties but express hope the spontaneous nature of the current round of protests means they’re gaining momentum.

However, AP then admits [emphasis added]:

One of Sudan’s most prominent opposition leaders, Sadiq al-Mahdi of the National Umma Party, told worshippers at a mosque in the district of Omdurman that al-Bashir has been spending the state’s budget on “consolidating power” and failed “to lift the agony off the citizens’ shoulders.”

After the sermon, protesters marched through the district, a longtime opposition stronghold, chanting “the people want the downfall of the regime,” the slogan heard in Arab Spring uprisings that began in late 2010 and have led to the ouster of the leaders in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Yemen.

Clearly, the “activists” indeed have a leader – Sadiq al-Mahdi of the National Umma Party who was literally leading the protesters out into the streets. And while comparisons to the “Arab Spring” invokes images of peaceful “pro-democracy” protests – AP admits that the protesters are already turning to violence:

Angry protesters torched police and dozens of gas stations and government buildings, and students marched chanting for al-Bashir’s ouster.

AP, perhaps hoping readers would not bother researching the matter further, also quotes “local blogger and journalist Reem Shawka” to bolster their narrative. Shawka is a columnist at Sudan’s 500 Words Magazine. While 500 Words maintains that it is “a Sudanese independent online magazine,” it proudly advertises in the right column of its website an upcoming US Institute of Peace “Sudanese and South Sudanese Youth Leaders Program.” Like Thailand’s deceitful US-funded propaganda front Prachatai, 500 Words is most likely directly funded by the US government, and is most certainly in tune with the US State Department’s agenda and talking points regarding Sudan.

Image: Sudan’s “independent online magazine,” 500 Words proudly advertises for the US Institute of Peace on its website (right-hand side), exposing the predictable ties between its support for Western-backed opposition inside of Sudan and the US State Department through the National Endowment for Democracy and others, who most likely funds the online propaganda front.

….

Indeed 500 Words’ editor-in-chief, Moez Ali, has his own page on “Open Democracy” – funded by Open Society Institute, the Oak Foundation, the Sigrid Rausing Trust, TIDES, and many others.

It should be mentioned that the US Institute of Peace – advertised for on 500 Words – has played an instrumental role in the Western-engineered “Arab Spring,” where it literally crafts the constitutions and structure of proxy regimes the West plans to create once targeted nations have been overthrown.

Who is Opposition Leader Sadiq al-Mahdi?

Sadiq al-Mahdi, leader of Sudan’s National Umma Party, is a member of the EU-US-Saudi-Qatari run Arab Democracy Foundation and the Club de Madrid which features former US President Bill Clinton as a “full member amongst many others, and is backed by Wall Street and London’s myriad of “international institutions” and foundations including the World Bank, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, the Ford Foundation, Walmart, North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), Microsoft, and many others.

Al-Mahdi himself was Oxford educated, according to his official Club de Madrid biography, which also states [emphasis added]:

Al-Mahdi was elected president of the Umma party in November 1964, and led a campaign to promote political activity, develop political Islam, and reform the party by expanding its base and promoting democracy behavior. Despite his efforts towards a democratic government, there was another coup d´état in 1969 that led to a dictatorship referred to as the May Regime.

He was soon arrested by the military government, exiled to Egypt, and detained in Sudanese prisons repeatedly until 1974. Later that year, he traveled abroad and toured Arab and African Capitals where he delivered a number of lectures. While in exile, he formed the National Democratic Front (NDF), comprised of Umma, the Democratic Unionist Party, and the Muslim Brotherhood. Through his efforts, the NDF was able to make an accord of national reconciliation in 1977 with the May Regime that mandated democratic reform.

His direct association with the Muslim Brotherhood is important, as this is the organization that as far back as 2007, under then US President George Bush, began receiving US-Saudi-Israeli support to prepare the violent overthrow of several nations, including in particular, Syria. Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh in his 2007 New Yorker article,The Redireciton: Is the Administration’s new policy benefiting our enemies in the war on terrorism? would reveal US-Saudi-Israeli support behind funding and arming the Muslim Brotherhood in Syria:

“the Saudi government, with Washington’s approval, would provide funds and logistical aid to weaken the government of President Bashir Assad, of Syria. The Israelis believe that putting such pressure on the Assad government will make it more conciliatory and open to negotiations.”

Hersh also reported that a supporter of the Lebanese pro-US-Saudi Hariri faction had met Dick Cheney in Washington and relayed personally the importance of using the Muslim Brotherhood in Syria in any move against the ruling government:

“[Walid] Jumblatt then told me that he had met with Vice-President Cheney in Washington last fall to discuss, among other issues, the possibility of undermining Assad. He and his colleagues advised Cheney that, if the United States does try to move against Syria, members of the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood would be “the ones to talk to,” Jumblatt said.”

The article would continue by explaining how already in 2007 US and Saudi backing had begun benefiting the Brotherhood:

“There is evidence that the Administration’s redirection strategy has already benefitted the Brotherhood. The Syrian National Salvation Front is a coalition of opposition groups whose principal members are a faction led by Abdul Halim Khaddam, a former Syrian Vice-President who defected in 2005, and the Brotherhood. A former high-ranking C.I.A. officer told me, “The Americans have provided both political and financial support. The Saudis are taking the lead with financial support, but there is American involvement.” He said that Khaddam, who now lives in Paris, was getting money from Saudi Arabia, with the knowledge of the White House. (In 2005, a delegation of the Front’s members met with officials from the National Security Council, according to press reports.) A former White House official told me that the Saudis had provided members of the Front with travel documents.”

That al-Mahdi, whose coalition included the Muslim Brotherhood that’s played an instrumental role executing recent Western designs in Syria and Egypt, and whose uprising and calls for faux-reform is echoed by the likes of Sudanese extremist leader Hassan al-Turabi (who had in fact invited Osama Bin Laden to Sudan), is now leading protesters through the streets of Sudan’s capital, torching infrastructure, government buildings, and police stations (just as was done across Egypt and Syria), indicates another attempt by the West to overthrow the Sudanese government via proxy militancy.

That the West has once again “coincidentally” arrayed its vast resources behind al-Mahdi’s “revolution,” which includes Al Qaeda-linked leaders like al-Turabi, once again illustrates that so-called “Islamic” extremism is a geopolitical tool both created and intentionally perpetuated by the West, both as a pretext for direct military invasion and occupation (Mali, Afghanistan) and as an inexhaustible proxy mercenary force for overthrowing targeted nations (Libya, Egypt, Syria).

What to Watch For

Sudan shares borders with NATO-overthrown Libya, destabilized Egypt, and US military proxy Ethiopia. It is also across the Red Sea from Saudi Arabia itself. Both Libya and Egypt have sizable US-Saudi-Israeli-Qatari-backed terrorist organizations and their affiliated political arms – the Muslim Brotherhood being the most prominent. Sudan is a potential tinderbox made more volatile in recent years due to the Muslim Brotherhood’s US-Saudi-Qatari-Israeli enabled rise, along with the Western-backed terrorist organizations, including Al Qaeda, that form it’s armed factions.

The West’s interest in Sudan is not causal or spontaneous. It was listed as one of several nations the US had intended to violently overthrow and subjugate as a client regime since at least 2001, revealed in a speech given by US Army General Wesley Clark in 2007.

 

With a recent terrorist attack by US armed and backed Al Qaeda in Nairobi Kenya threatening to justify new joint African Union-US AFRICOM incursions into Somalia, and destabilizations ongoing in both Egypt and to a much greater extent in Syria, the words of General Wesley Clark are both prophetic and indicative of the true nature of both the so-called “Arab Spring” and the attempted violent regime changes being organized behind the smokescreen of “pro-democracy protesters.”

While Sudan may not seem to have significance to most across the West, the geopolitical implications of an entire region from Mali to Pakistan under Western destabilization directly impacts oil, logistics, and stability across the globe. Nations like China which relies on African and Middle Eastern trade, are directly impacted by US attempts to destabilize and overthrow Sudan – and is in fact one of the driving motivations of the West’s so-called “Arab Spring.”

Following the “Arab Spring” playbook, we should expect attempts to justify the increased militarization of the so-called “opposition,” who will at first be portrayed as “pro-democracy” moderates forced to “defend themselves,” but will be fully revealed as Al Qaeda as full-scale proxy military operations get underway. The only way to avert a destructive military conflict is for the Sudanese government to swiftly and severely crush the opposition and secure the borders where NATO-backed militants and their equipment are most likely to flow.

Sudan’s government must also make real attempts at reform, while exposing the foreign-backed nature of opposition leaders trying to divide and destroy the nation. By breaking the predictable “evil dictator” mold Sudan’s leadership has been cast in by the Western media, it, and other nations targeted by Western regime change can even the odds leveled against them by the still formidable Western press and their partners in propaganda across Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Israel.

Unprecedented amounts of resources have been committed to the geopolitical reordering of North Africa, the Middle East, and Central Asia. It would be a considerable mistake for any nation overtly listed by the US as “pending regime change” to underestimate any beginnings of unrest clearly backed by foreign interests. While some operations may be “testing the waters,” the final push can come at any time with fully militarized proxies pre-positioned and prepared to sow the same genocidal destruction US-backed terrorists in Syria are carrying out.

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A Flood of Refugees

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Syria’s Neighbors Feel the Strain
by VIJAY PRASHAD

Beirut.

Rabih Shibli and his team from the Center for Civic Engagement and Community Service at the American University of Beirut heard about the garage through their close contact with various relief organisations. Mr. Shibli is an energetic man, impatient with posturing. He sees a problem and seeks results. Mr. Shibli’s team, including a young architect Ali Adnan Basma, raised funds from individuals and from charities such as Secours Islamique and Medrar Foundation in order to refurbish the garage. The point was to “make the inside livable”, he said. In a matter of months, their team was able to upgrade the garage so that the refugees could live a less precarious life.

Almost seven hundred thousand Syrian refugees are now in Lebanon, a state weakened by a long civil war, an Israeli occupation and constant threats of the return of both. “There is always that shadow,” says the writer Sahar Mandour, whose novels shine a light onto contemporary Lebanese society.The

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Lebanese state, like that of Iraq and Jordan, is not able to manage the crisis by itself. It has come to rely on the U.N. and its specialised agencies to coordinate and even manage refugee relief.

Even the U.N. is overwhelmed. One problem is funds. Much is promised, says the U.N. Refugee Agency (UNHCR), but little makes it to the ground. The Regional Refugee Response Plan calls for $3 billion toward relief, but only 37 per cent of it has been funded. For humanitarian assistance inside Syria, the U.N.’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs has asked for $1.4 billion but has only been promised 43 per cent of that amount. The funding pledges made at the Kuwait conference in January have yet to materialise. The humanitarian effort is “hampered by lack of funding”, said U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. Because of this, the World Food Program has had to “reduce the size of its food parcels to keep pace with the growing numbers in need. If additional aid is not urgently received, there will be a break in the food pipeline in October”.

To help stem the unfolding crisis, the U.N. has designated Nigel Fisher to be the Regional Humanitarian Coordinator. As of now, five countries in the region have been the recipients of the nearly two million Syrians who have fled their country (an additional five million are internally displaced). Of these, the largest number is in Lebanon (nearing 700,000) with Jordan not far behind (just over 500,000). Parenthetically, the U.S. has only taken in 33 Syrian refugees. Egypt, which was very generous with Syrian refugees from 2011, placed restrictive entry procedures from July 8. Syrians who arrived on aircraft from Latakia and Damascus were sent home if they did not have a visa and prior security approval, according to UNHCR. Most refugees end up in Lebanon and Jordan where the weak states rely upon municipal leaders and ordinary citizens to bear the cost of relief. Over 4150 children have crossed into Syria’s neighbours without an adult, according to Unicef.

In Sarafand, not far from Aaqbiye, Mr. Shibli and his team found Syrian refugees living in substandard tents. Using locally fabricated materials including marine plywood and corrugated sheets, he was able to design a house whose prototype cost $1500 per unit. If he made more of them, he said, the cost would come down by nearly half. The UNHCR has gone into partnership with the IKEA Foundation to make pre-fabricated homes that cost $10,000 per house. The IKEA homes are made in Europe, they are harder to repair and they will not endure high velocity winds, says Mr. Shibli, a believer in local construction for refugee homes. Locally built homes would save the U.N. money, he says, and it would employ local people into economies wracked by the refugee influx.

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UK Watchdog Investigating Detention and Questioning of Yemeni Human Rights Activist at Gatwick

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LONDON – September 26 – A Government watchdog is looking into the case of a Yemeni activist who was detained by UK border officials under Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act to be questioned on his work on drones and human rights.

David Anderson QC, the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation, is already conducting an inquiry into the use of Schedule 7, following the detention at Heathrow earlier this year of David Miranda, the partner of Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald.

Earlier today, Mr Anderson met with Baraa Shiban, Reprieve’s Yemen Coordinator, to discuss his detention at Gatwick on Monday night. While detained, Mr Shiban was questioned about his work on human rights and specifically the covert US drone campaign in Yemen. When he asked why his views on human rights were relevant, he was threatened with detention for the full nine hours available under the Act.

Mr Shibaan says he was also told by the official that “Your organization [Reprieve] has obviously been causing a lot of problems to your country. The relations between your government and the UK are vital for us.” Reprieve is a human rights charity which has been working to secure legal redress on behalf of civilian victims of the US’ covert drone campaign in Yemen – in which Britain is known to be complicit through the provision of air bases and communications infrastructure in the UK, linking the US with its Djibouti drone base from which it carries out strikes in Yemen.

Mr Shibaan is also a member of Yemen’s National Dialogue – the body which is mapping out Yemen’s post-Arab Spring future – and was on his way to a seminar at respected think tank Chatham House when he was detained. He has previously given testimony on the effects of the drone campaign to a US Congressional hearing.

On Twitter today, Mr Anderson said: “I had the pleasure of meeting Baara Shiban this morning. He told me about his #Schedule7 stop at Gatwick.”

Commenting after the meeting, Baraa Shiban said: “I am grateful to David Anderson for taking the time to meet me and discuss my detention. I am still baffled as to why in the UK it is considered acceptable to detain and question someone about their political opinions because they work for a human rights charity. I hope Mr Anderson will press the Government to account for this misuse of terrorism powers to harass and intimidate those whose views the UK and US find inconvenient.”

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Reading Obama’s Iran Speech

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President Barack Obama addresses the 68th session of the United Nations General Assembly, Tuesday, September 24, 2013. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)All of a sudden we’re talking to Iran. Now, granted, that shouldn’t be such an astonishing bombshell. But given the reality of the last several decades, it pretty much is. And that’s all good. It’s been too long coming, it’s still too hesitant, there’s still too much hinting about military force behind it… but we’re talking. Foreign minister to foreign minister, Kerry to Zarif, it’s all a good sign.

There were lots of problem areas in the speech—President Obama was right when he said that US policy in the Middle East would lead to charges of “hypocrisy and inconsistency.” US policy—its protection of Israeli violations of international law, its privileging of petro-monarchies over human rights, its coddling of military dictators—remains rank with hypocrisy and inconsistency. And Obama’s speech reflected much of it.

But President Obama’s speech at the United Nations General Assembly reflected some of the extraordinary shifts in global—especially Middle East and most especially Syria-related—politics that have taken shape in the last six or eight weeks. And on Iran, that was good news. Yes the president trotted out his familiar litany that “we are determined to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon.” But this time, there was no “all options on the table” threat. He added explicitly that “we are not seeking regime change and we respect the right of the Iranian people to access peaceful nuclear energy.” The reference to Iran’s right to nuclear energy represented a major shift away from the longstanding claim among many US hawks and the Israeli government that Iran must give up all nuclear enrichment.

Respecting Iran’s right to “access” nuclear energy is still a bit of a dodge, of course—Article IV of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) recognizes not just access but “the inalienable right of all the Parties to the Treaty to develop research, production and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes without discrimination.” Iran is a longstanding signatory to the NPT, and is entitled to all those rights. Obama referred only that “we insist that the Iranian government meet its responsibilities” under the NPT, while saying nothing about Iran’s rights under the treaty. But the high visibility US recognition of any Iranian right to nuclear power—in the context of a new willingness to open talks—is still enormously important.

It was also important that President Obama spoke of Iran with respect, acknowledging Iranian interests and opinions as legitimate and parallel to Washington’s. He recognized that Iranian mistrust of the United States has “deep roots,” referencing (however carefully) the “history of US interference in their affairs and of America’s role in overthrowing an Iranian government during the Cold War.” In fact, his identification of the 1953 US-backed coup that overthrew Iran’s democratically elected President Mohamed Mossadegh as a product of the Cold War may have been part of an effort to distance himself and his administration from those actions. (It’s a bit disingenuous, of course. The primary rationale for the coup was far more a response to Mossadegh’s nationalization of Iran’s oil than to his ties to the Soviet Union.)

Obama also paid new attention to longstanding Iranian positions. He noted that “the Supreme Leader has issued a fatwa against the development of nuclear weapons, and President Rouhani has just recently reiterated that the Islamic Republic will never develop a nuclear weapon.” Now anyone following the Iran nuclear issue knows that the Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, stated at least as far back as 2003 that nuclear weapons are a violation of Islamic law and Iran would never build or use one, and the fatwa, or legal opinion, was issued at least as far back as 2005. This isn’t new. But for President Obama to mention those judgments in the context of “the basis for a meaningful agreement” is indeed new.

Mainstream US press and officials have long derided those statements, claiming that fatwas are not binding, that 700-year-old religious laws can’t have a position on nuclear weapons, etc. But in so doing they ignore the real significance—that President Rouhani, the Supreme Leader and the rest of Iran’s government have to answer to their own population too. After years of repeating that nuclear weapons would be un-Islamic, would violate a fatwa, etc., it would not be so easy for Iran’s leaders to win popular support for a decision to embrace the bomb.

There is a long way to go in challenging aspects of President Obama’s speech at the United Nations—his embrace of American exceptionalism and his recommitment to a failed approach to Palestinian-Israeli negotiations, his view that war and violence can only be answered by military force or nothing, and more. He didn’t explicitly state a willingness to accept Iran’s participation in international talks on Syria. There is a serious danger that any move towards rapprochement with Iran would be matched with moves to pacify Israeli demands—almost certainly at the expense of Palestinian rights.

But in the broader scenario of US-Iran relations, this is a moment to move forward, to welcome the new approach in Washington now answering the new approach of Tehran.

More flexibility will be required than the United States is usually known for. The usual opponents—in Congress, in Israel and the pro-Israel lobbies—are already on the move, challenging the new opening. But these last weeks showed how a quickly organized demonstration of widespread public opinion, demanding negotiations instead of war, can win. We were able to build a movement fast, agile and powerful enough to reverse an imminent military attack on Syria and instead force a move towards diplomatic solutions to end the war. This time around, the demand to deepen, consolidate and not abandon diplomatic possibilities is on our agenda—and perhaps once again we can win.

Posted in USA, IranComments Off on Reading Obama’s Iran Speech

Crisis at Fukushima Continues to Spiral With Hole in Radiation Barrier

NOVANEWS

Fence made of silt that sits in harbor has been breached, TEPCO admits, sparking further concern of ocean contamination

– Andrea Germanos

IAEA experts examine recovery work on top of Unit 4 of TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station on 17 April 2013. (Photo: Greg Webb / IAEA)In the latest in a series of mishaps to hit the crisis-stricken Fukushima nuclear power plant, a radiation-stopping “fence” around the reactors has developed a hole, plant operator TEPCO admitted on Thursday.

Fences made of earth and sand sit in the harbor next to the plant and were erected to help contain radioactive material from flowing into the ocean.  They “are suspended from floats and anchored with weights on the seafloor,” the Japan Times explains.

One of the fences that sits next to still-intact reactors five and six was found to be breached, sparking further worry about the amount of radioactive contamination heading into the ocean.

TEPCO has struggled to contain the emergency without end at Fukushima since the disaster began to unfold in March of 2011. An unsustainable contaminated water-storage system plagued by a series of leakssoaring radiation levels in groundwater that head into the ocean, and high levels of radiation found in fish have catalyzed widespread resistance to nuclear power and raised international alarm

As out of control as the situation seems, one expert has warned that it may actually be much worse than claimed.  Also, long-time anti-nuclear activist Harvey Wasserman warned last week that a plan to “remove more than 1300 spent fuel rods from a badly damaged pool perched 100 feet in the air” risked putting the “hand of global nuclear disaster… painfully close to midnight.”

Posted in JapanComments Off on Crisis at Fukushima Continues to Spiral With Hole in Radiation Barrier

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