Archive | April 8th, 2014

‘Cease illegal activity against Cuba’: Havana slams Washington for ‘Twitter’ program

Reuters/Enrique de la OsaReuters/Enrique de la Osa

Havana has blasted Washington’s so-called ‘Cuba Twitter’ texting service as illegal and subversive, saying the United States is persisting in its decades’ long plan to topple Cuba’s communist government.

Josefina Vidal, director of US affairs at Cuba’s Foreign Ministry, said late Thursday that the ZunZuneo program “shows once again that the United States government has not renounced its plans of subversion against Cuba, which have as their aim the creation of situations of destabilization in our country to create changes in the public order and toward which it continues to devote multimillion-dollar budgets each year.”

Vidal called on the United States to respect international law along with the principles of the UN charter, demanding that it “cease its illegal and clandestine actions against Cuba, which are rejected by the Cuban people and international public opinion.”

According to documents obtained by the Associated Press, the US government attempted to develop a no frills ‘Cuban Twitter’ using cellphone text messaging to circumvent Cuba’s strict control over the internet. Directly alluding to Twitter, the program is known as ZunZuneo — slang for a Cuban hummingbird’s ‘tweet’.

The project was financed by the US Agency for international development (USAID), best known for overseeing billions of dollars in US humanitarian aid. USAID staff had noted that text messaging had been a popular fuse in starting political uprisings in Moldova and the Philippines.

At its peak, the site had more than 40,000 subscribers, who were never aware that the network had been created by the US government. The program was discontinued in 2012.

“There will be absolutely no mention of United States government involvement,” AP cites a 2010 memo from Mobile Accord, one of the project’s contractors, as saying. “This is absolutely crucial for the long-term success of the service and to ensure the success of the mission.”

USAID’s top official, Rajiv Shah, had been scheduled to testify on Tuesday before the Senate Appropriations State Department and foreign operations subcommittee on the agency’s budget.

In an appearance on MSNBC on Thursday, the subcommittee’s chairman, Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy from Vermont, called the project “dumb, dumb, dumb.”

While US law requires written authorization of covert action by the president State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said the program was neither “secret” nor “covert” under the US government’s definitions of those terms. “Discreet does not equal covert,” Harf told a news briefing on Thursday.

Harf said the so-called “democracy promotion” program created a platform “similar to Twitter” and was conducted under a three-year grant totaling $1.2 million, Reuters. The program was created with the aid of subcontractors and foreign banks under the tutelage of Joe McSpedon, a US government official.

“We did not supply political content. We did not drive the political content,” Harf said, though she noted that initial communications made over the network on topics such as soccer, music and hurricane updates were made by US-funded contractors.

“So this is solely for the purpose of creating a platform for Cubans to express themselves, which has long been the policy of the United States, the United States Congress, and many other people in this country,”Harf said.

White House spokesman Jay Carney echoed Harf’s statements, saying suggestions the program was covert “are wrong.”

“Congress funds democracy programming to Cuba to help empower Cubans to access more information and to strengthen civil society. These appropriations are public, unlike covert action. The money invested has been debated in Congress. In addition, [the Government Accountability Office] reviewed this program in detail in 2013, and found it was conducted in accordance with US law and under appropriate oversight controls.”

Carney added that while it was not a secret program, the government was “discreet” about its operations, as it was conducted in Cuba, a “non-permissive environment.”

“That’s how you protect the practitioners and the public,” he said. “This is not unique to Cuba.”

However, the service was also used as a means for the US government to check Cuban public opinion without their knowledge.

On September 20, 2009, thousands of Cubans gathered at Revolution Plaza in Havana for Miami-based Colombian rocker Juanes’s ‘Peace without Borders’ concert. In the weeks leading up to the concert, the ZunZuneo team sent out half a million text messages known as ‘blasts’. One question which garnered over 100,000 responses asked if two popular local music acts which were out of favor with the Cuban government should appear on stage alongside Juanes.

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The Secret Gnostic Key to Aronofsky’s “Noah” that Everyone Missed


All those bizarre additions to the story make a lot more sense now…

Brian Mattson

Paramount Pictures
In Darren Aronofsky’s new star-gilt silver screen epic, Noah, Adam and Eve are luminescent and fleshless, right up until the moment they eat the forbidden fruit.

Such a notion isn’t found in the Bible, of course. This, among the multitude of Aronofsky’s other imaginative details like giant Lava Monsters, has caused many a reviewer’s head to be scratched. Conservative-minded evangelicals write off the film because of the “liberties” taken with the text of Genesis, while a more liberal-minded group stands in favor of cutting the director some slack. After all, we shouldn’t expect a professed atheist to have the same ideas of “respecting” sacred texts the way a Bible-believer would.

Both groups have missed the mark entirely. Aronofsky hasn’t “taken liberties” with anything.

The Bible is not his text.

In his defense, I suppose, the film wasn’t advertised as such. Nowhere is it said that this movie is an adaptation of Genesis. It was never advertised as “The Bible’s Noah,” or “The Biblical Story of Noah.” In our day and age we are so living in the leftover atmosphere of Christendom that when somebody says they want to do “Noah,” everybody assumes they mean a rendition of the Bible story. That isn’t what Aronofsky had in mind at all. I’m sure he was only too happy to let his studio go right on assuming that, since if they knew what he was really up to they never would have allowed him to make the movie.

Let’s go back to our luminescent first parents. I recognized the motif instantly as one common to the ancient religion of Gnosticism. Here’s a 2nd century A.D. description about what a sect called the Ophites believed:

“Adam and Eve formerly had light, luminous, and so to speak spiritual bodies, as they had been fashioned. But when they came here, the bodies became dark, fat, and idle.” –Irenaeus of Lyon, Against Heresies, I, 30.9

It occurred to me that a mystical tradition more closely related to Judaism, calledKabbalah (which the singer Madonna made popular a decade ago or so), surely would have held a similar view, since it is essentially a form of Jewish Gnosticism. I dusted off (No, really: I had to dust it) my copy of Adolphe Franck’s 19th century work, The Kabbalah, and quickly confirmed my suspicions:

“Before they were beguiled by the subtleness of the serpent, Adam and Eve were not only exempt from the need of a body, but did not even have a body—that is to say, they were not of the earth.”

Franck quotes from the Zohar, one of Kabbalah’s sacred texts:

“When our forefather Adam inhabited the Garden of Eden, he was clothed, as all are in heaven, with a garment made of the higher light. When he was driven from the Garden of Eden and was compelled to submit to the needs of this world, what happened? God, the Scriptures tell us, made Adam and his wife tunics of skin and clothed them; for before this they had tunics of light, of that higher light used in Eden…”

Obscure stuff, I know. But curiosity overtook me and I dove right down the rabbit hole.

I discovered what Darren Aronofsky’s first feature film was: Pi. Want to know its subject matter? Do you? Are you sure?

If you think that’s a coincidence, you may want a loved one to schedule you a brain scan.

Have I got your attention? Good.

The world of Aronofsky’s Noah is a thoroughly Gnostic one: a graded universe of “higher” and “lower.” The “spiritual” is good, and way, way, way “up there” where the ineffable, unspeaking god dwells, and the “material” is bad, and way, way down here where our spirits are encased in material flesh. This is not only true of the fallen sons and daughters of Adam and Eve, but of fallen angels, who are explicitly depicted as being spirits trapped inside a material “body” of cooled molten lava.

Admittedly, they make pretty nifty movie characters, but they’re also notorious in Gnostic speculation. Gnostics call them Archons, lesser divine beings or angels who aid “The Creator” in forming the visible universe. And Kabbalah has a pantheon of angelic beings of its own all up and down the ladder of “divine being.” And fallen angels are never totally fallen in this brand of mysticism. To quote the Zohar again, a central Kabbalah text: “All things of which this world consists, the spirit as well as the body, will return to the principle and the root from which they came.” Funny. That’s exactly what happens to Aronofsky’s Lava Monsters. They redeem themselves, shed their outer material skin, and fly back to the heavens. Incidentally, I noticed that in the film, as the family is traveling through a desolate wasteland, Shem asks his father: “Is this a Zohar mine?” Yep. That’s the name of Kabbalah’s sacred text.

The entire movie is, figuratively, a “Zohar” mine.

If there was any doubt about these “Watchers,” Aronofsky gives several of them names: Semyaza, Magog, and Rameel. They’re all well-known demons in the Jewish mystical tradition, not only in Kabbalah but also in the book of 1 Enoch.

What!? Demons are redeemed? Adolphe Franck explains the cosmology of Kabbalah: “Nothing is absolutely bad; nothing is accursed forever—not even the archangel of evil or the venomous beast, as he is sometimes called. There will come a time when he will recover his name and his angelic nature.”

Okay. That’s weird. But, hey, everybody in the film seems to worship “The Creator,” right? Surely it’s got that in its favor!

Except that when Gnostics speak about “The Creator” they are not talking about God. Oh, here in an affluent world living off the fruits of Christendom the term “Creator” generally denotes the true and living God. But here’s a little “Gnosticism 101” for you: the Creator of the material world is an ignorant, arrogant, jealous, exclusive, violent, low-level, bastard son of a low level deity. He’s responsible for creating the “unspiritual” world of flesh and matter, and he himself is so ignorant of the spiritual world he fancies himself the “only God” and demands absolute obedience. They generally call him “Yahweh.” Or other names, too (Ialdabaoth, for example).

This Creator tries to keep Adam and Eve from the true knowledge of the divine and, when they disobey, flies into a rage and boots them from the garden.

In other words, in case you’re losing the plot here: The serpent was right all along. This “god,” “The Creator,” whom they are worshiping is withholding something from them that the serpent will provide: divinity itself.

The world of Gnostic mysticism is bewildering with a myriad of varieties. But, generally speaking, they hold in common that the serpent is “Sophia,” “Mother,” or “Wisdom.” The serpent represents the true divine, and the claims of “The Creator” are false.

So is the serpent a major character in the film?

Let’s go back to the movie. The action opens when Lamech is about to bless his son, Noah. Lamech, rather strangely for a patriarch of a family that follows God, takes out a sacred relic, the skin of the serpent from the Garden of Eden. He wraps it around his arm, stretches out his hand to touch his son—except, just then, a band of marauders interrupts them and the ceremony isn’t completed. Lamech gets killed, and the “villain” of the film, Tubal-Cain, steals the snakeskin. Noah, in other words, doesn’t get whatever benefit the serpent’s skin was to bestow.

The skin doesn’t light up magically on Tubal-Cain’s arm, so apparently he doesn’t get “enlightened,” either. And that’s why everybody in the film, including protagonist and antagonist, Noah and Tubal-Cain, is worshiping “The Creator.”They are all deluded. Let me clear something up here: lots of reviewers expressed some bewilderment over the fact there aren’t any likable characters and that they allseem to be worshiping the same God. Tubal-Cain and his clan are wicked and evil and, as it turns out, Noah’s pretty bad himself when he abandons Ham’s girlfriend and almost slays two newborn children. Some thought this was some kind of profound commentary on how there’s evil in all of us. Here’s an excerpt from the Zohar, the sacred text of Kabbalah:

“Two beings [Adam and Nachash—the Serpent] had intercourse with Eve [the Second woman], and she conceived from both and bore two children. Each followed one of the male parents, and their spirits parted, one to this side and one to the other, and similarly their characters. On the side of Cain are all the haunts of the evil species; from the side of Abel comes a more merciful class, yet not wholly beneficial — good wine mixed with bad.”

Sound familiar? Yes. Darren Aronofsky’s Noah, to the “T.”

Anyway, everybody is worshiping the evil deity. Who wants to destroy everybody. (By the way, in Kabbalah many worlds have already been created and destroyed.) Both Tubal-Cain and Noah have identical scenes, looking into the heavens and asking, “Why won’t you speak to me?” “The Creator” has abandoned them all because he intends to kill them all.

Noah had been given a vision of the coming deluge. He’s drowning, but sees animals floating to the surface to the safety of the ark. No indication whatsoever is given that Noah is to be saved; Noah conspicuously makes that part up during an awkward moment explaining things to his family. He is sinking while the animals, “the innocent,” are rising. “The Creator” who gives Noah his vision wants all the humans dead.

Many reviewers thought Noah’s change into a homicidal maniac on the ark, wanting to kill his son’s two newborn daughters, was a weird plot twist. It isn’t weird at all. In the Director’s view, Noah is worshiping a false, homicidal maniac of a god. The more faithful and “godly” Noah becomes, the more homicidal he becomes. He is becoming every bit the “image of god” that the “evil” guy who keeps talking about the “image of god,” Tubal-Cain, is.

But Noah fails “The Creator.” He cannot wipe out all life like his god wants him to do. “When I looked at those two girls, my heart was filled with nothing but love,” he says. Noah now has something “The Creator” doesn’t. Love. And Mercy. But where did he get it? And why now?

In the immediately preceding scene Noah killed Tubal-Cain and recovered the snakeskin relic: “Sophia,” “Wisdom,” the true light of the divine. Just a coincidence, I’m sure.

Okay, I’m almost done. The rainbows don’t come at the end because God makes a covenant with Noah. The rainbows appear when Noah sobers up and embraces the serpent. He wraps the skin around his arm, and blesses his family. It is not God that commissions them to now multiply and fill the earth, but Noah, in the first person, “I,” wearing the serpent talisman. (Oh, and by the way, it’s not accidental that the rainbows are all circular. The circle of the “One,” the Ein Sof, in Kabbalah, is the sign of monism.)

Notice this thematic change: Noah was in a drunken stupor the scene before. Now he is sober and “enlightened.” Filmmakers never do that by accident.

He’s transcended and outgrown that homicidal, jealous deity.

Let me issue a couple of caveats to all this: Gnostic speculation is a diverse thing. Some groups appear radically “dualist,” where “The Creator” really is a different “god” altogether. Others are more “monist,” where God exists in a series of descending emanations. Others have it that the lower deity “grows” and “matures” and himself ascends the “ladder” or “chain” of being to higher heights. Noah probably fits a little in each category. It’s hard to tell. My other caveat is this: there is no doubt a ton of Kabbalist imagery, quotations, and themes in this movie that I couldn’t pick up in a single sitting. For example, since Kabbalah takes its flights of fancy generally based on Hebrew letters and numbers, I did notice that the “Watchers” appeared to be deliberately shaped like Hebrew letters. But you could not pay me to go see this movie again so I could further drill into the Zohar mine to see what I could find. (On a purely cinematic viewpoint, I found most of it unbearably boring.)

What I can say on one viewing is this:

Darren Aronofsky has produced a retelling of the Noah story without reference to the Bible at all. This was not, as he claimed, just a storied tradition of run-of-the-mill Jewish “Midrash.” This was a thoroughly pagan retelling of the Noah story direct from Kabbalist and Gnostic sources. To my mind, there is simply no doubt about this.

So let me tell you what the real scandal in all of this is.

It isn’t that he made a film that departed from the biblical story. It isn’t that disappointed and overheated Christian critics had expectations set too high.

The scandal is this: of all the Christian leaders who went to great lengths to endorse this movie (for whatever reasons: “it’s a conversation starter,” “at least Hollywood is doing something on the Bible,” etc.), and all of the Christian leaders who panned it for “not following the Bible”…

Not one of them could identify a blatantly Gnostic subversion of the biblical story when it was right in front of their faces.

I believe Aronofsky did it as an experiment to make fools of us: “You are so ignorant that I can put Noah (granted, it’s Russell Crowe!) up on the big screen and portray him literally as the ‘seed of the Serpent’ and you all will watch my studio’s screening and endorse it.”

He’s having quite the laugh. And shame on everyone who bought it.

And what a Gnostic experiment! In Gnosticism, only the “elite” are “in the know” and have the secret knowledge. Everybody else are dupes and ignorant fools. The “event” of this movie is intended to illustrate the Gnostic premise. We are dupes and fools. Would Christendom awake, please?

In response, I have one simple suggestion:

Henceforth, not a single seminary degree is granted unless the student demonstrates that he has read, digested, and understood Irenaeus of Lyon’s Against Heresies.

Because it’s the 2nd century all over again.

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In Lebanon, Syrian refu­gee children find safety from war but new dangers on the streets


Mohammed Huzaifa, 10, sells flowers in Beirut.

Mohammed Huzaifa, 10, sells flowers in Beirut. (Sam Tarling/For the Washington Post)

WRITTEN BY Loveday Morris

It was 10 p.m. on a chilly recent Wednesday, and the bars of Beirut were just getting into full swing. So was 10-year-old Mohammed Huzaifa’s working day.

Clutching a vase of red roses, he scoured the outdoor tables for a soft­hearted target. Spotting two women deep in conversation, the round-faced boy sidled up and broke into a wide smile, but was motioned away with a sharp shake of the head.

Mohammed, shivering in an orange T-shirt, repeated the steps with other potential customers until he had sold all 10 of his flowers. A beating from his mother awaits him if he doesn’t sell out, he says, so he often roams the streets until 3 a.m.

The United Nations announced that Lebanon registered its millionth Syrian refugee on Thursday, making the tiny country — which had a population of just over 4 million before the Syrian war — home to the highest concentration of refugees in the world. Among the most visible representatives of that influx and the impact of the Syrian war on Lebanon’s capital are children such as Mohammed, who fled the violence and ended up here, selling flowers, tissues, chewing gum or shoeshines on the streets of Beirut.

Lebanon has no refugee camps for Syrians. But it has soaring rents and little assistance for the migrants, meaning thousands of children are forced to work to support their families. At least one in 10 Syrian refugee children work, according to estimates by UNICEF, which says that figure is probably higher in Lebanon, where only about one-third of those children are enrolled in school. Those who peddle goods on the street are vulnerable to violence, robbery, sex rings and even the illegal organ trade, Lebanese security officials and humanitarian aid workers say. Then there are the less visible child workers, toiling in factories and agriculture.

Nirmeen, 6, from Aleppo, plays with her brother as she sells roses in Rouche, Beirut.Nirmeen, 6, from Aleppo, plays with her brother as she sells roses in Rouche, Beirut. (Sam Tarling/For the Washington Post).

Mohammed’s began when he was 8 years old and living in Manbij, a northern agricultural town on the fertile western banks of the Euphrates. His three-story house, where he lived with his widowed mother, grandmother, brother and six sisters, was being expanded. The family also owned a farm in a nearby village, and he and his siblings played with abandon among the farm’s 1,300 olive trees. He went to school, although his mother says he was more mischievous than studious.

“Syria was the most beautiful place in the world,” said Mohammed.

Then the war came to his door. Syrian rebels had stormed the nearby city of Aleppo, and the government began launching airstrikes. As the battle raged in July 2012, Mohammed’s mother, Umm Alaa, decided the family should seek security in Lebanon.

Now their farmhouse in Karakozak has been taken over by Islamist rebels belonging to the al-Qaeda-inspired Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, the family says.

The village has become a potential flash point for Turkish intervention in the war, home to the tomb of Suleyman Shah, the grandfather of the Ottoman Empire’s founder, which ISIS has threatened to attack and neighboring Turkey has pledged to protect.

Against that backdrop, Mohammed’s family sees little chance of returning soon. Today, the family of 10 lives in a single rented room in a dilapidated five-story building in Beirut, which provides cramped housing for more than 350 Syrians.

They pay $350 a month for a room with peeling paint and a tiny, dingy kitchen with a propane stove. Mohammed’s mother works as a cleaner in a bank and receives food aid from the United Nations, but the $266 she earns monthly is insufficient to cover the rent.

Alaa Huzaifa, 12, left, and his brother, Mohammed, 10.

Alaa Huzaifa, 12, left, and his brother, Mohammed, 10. (Sam Tarling/For the Washington Post)

She says she has no choice but to send her children out to work. And so Mohammed and his older brother, Alaa, 12, spend about 10 hours selling flowers each night, keeping an eye out for each other and trying to avoid the police. It is illegal work, and Mohammed has already been arrested twice.

“This vase is our little company,” Mohammed said, clutching the white plastic vessel as he stood at a bustling intersection one recent night.

But their business puts them in constant danger. After a bumper sale on Valentine’s Day last year, Mohammed and Alaa were making the 15-minute walk home when they were attacked and robbed by a group of men armed with knives who made off with the brothers’ earnings.


The boys’ patch stretches along a few blocks at the end of Beirut’s bustling Hamra Street, where Syrian accents are now as common as Lebanese ones. Mohammed tries to stay away from the bars: He doesn’t like drunks, and they don’t often buy flowers anyway.

But on this Wednesday night, business was slow. He had been arrested the week before and sent to a children’s shelter, where his normally meticulously slicked-back and parted hair was shorn to prevent lice. The short hair, he said, was affecting sales.

“My hair was beautiful,” he said. “The ladies used to love it. I used to comb it this way or that way, and everybody used to buy from me. Now they don’t.”

Alaa had stayed home, so Mohammed teamed up with Diab, an 11-year-old tissue seller from Damascus, to try the bars closer to the city’s American University.

The high after Mohammed’s first sale of the evening — to a young couple who stroked his head and paid more than $3 for a rose — proved short-lived. Suddenly, he was grabbed by the scruff of the neck by a police officer. Towering over him, the officer stamped his leather boot on Mohammed’s foot and shined a flashlight in his eyes.

“What’s your name?” the officer barked. “Who sends you out to work?”

This time, he was let off with a warning and not hauled off to police custody.

“It doesn’t help to solve the situation,” Abir Abi Khalil, a child protection officer for UNICEF, said of the arrests. “It’s a vicious cycle.”

Abdullah, 9, center, a refugee from Idlib, Syria, hugs his friends during an English class at the Home of Hope children's home in Kahale, near Beirut.Abdullah, 9, center, a refugee from Idlib, Syria, hugs his friends during an English class at the Home of Hope children’s home in Kahale, near Beirut. (Sam Tarling/For the Washington Post)


After Mohammed’s arrest the previous week, he spent a night at the police station. He was then sent to a government-funded shelter for abused and abandoned children in the mountains above Beirut, where he stayed until his mother managed to get him released one week later.

The Home of Hope, run by a Christian nonprofit group, has 70 beds, which its managers say is nowhere near enough to meet the needs. Cases like Mohammed’s are among the least serious they see.

Child labor is not new to Lebanon, where established networks traffic in children, said Maher Tabarani, the home’s director. But with the influx of Syrians, those networks have a new stream of children to prey upon, he says.

“It’s not about street kids. It’s bigger than that. It’s not about flowers and chewing gum,” he said. “Some of these kids are forced to sell drugs; some sell their bodies.”

One child at the home on a recent day was taken into care after a family member tried to sell his kidney, an act officials say is becoming more common as the population of desperately impoverished refugees grows. Another previous resident of the home, just 11 years old, had been sold by his father to a prostitution ring, Tabarani recalled.

The court handling the case later ordered that he be returned to his family.

“You feel like all the work is for nothing,” said Tabarani. “Seventy percent don’t want to go back to their families, and shouldn’t, but if the court rules that, they are obliged to.”

Ahmad, 13, second from right, and Mohammad, 14, right, both refugees from Deraa, Syria, take time out from shining shoes to chat with a Christian evangelist youth worker and his assistant on Beirut’s seafront promenade.Ahmad, 13, second from right, and Mohammad, 14, right, both refugees from Deraa, Syria, take time out from shining shoes to chat with a Christian evangelist youth worker and his assistant on Beirut’s seafront promenade. (Sam Tarling/For the Washington Post)

Lebanese authorities are ill-equipped to address the problem of Syria’s child refugees, advocates say. UNICEF has warned of a“lost generation” of Syrian children who are missing out on years of education.

Mohammed, who is enrolled in classes run by a local nonprofit organization, struggles to attend.

As he touted flowers at a busy traffic intersection one afternoon, his teacher spotted him and stopped to ask why he had been absent from school. He complained that nobody wakes him in the morning. Alaa, who was with him, assured the teacher that he would send Mohammed home early, at midnight, and make sure he got up in the morning.

But the next day, Mohammed did not attend.

His mother says education is now secondary to food and shelter. Sitting in her apartment, she pointed to the children surrounding her.

“They sit here alive next to me, but their futures are dead,” she said.

Ahmed Ramadan contributed from Beirut.
Abdullah, center, a 9-year-old refugee from Idlib, Syria, hugs his friends during an English class at the Home of Hope children’s home in Kahale, near Beirut. Before being sent to the center by the Lebanese courts, Abdullah slept on the streets in Beirut, selling chewing gum to get by.
Sam Tarling /For The Washington Post

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Moscow: Neither current nor future sanctions against Russia will help Washington

Crimean residents at the railway station in Simferopol celebrating as clocks are moved to Moscow time. (RIA Novosti / Mihail Mokrushin)Crimean residents at the railway station in Simferopol celebrating as clocks are moved to Moscow time. (RIA Novosti / Mihail Mokrushin).

The US remains a victim of misconceptions and misguided ideas regarding what happened in Ukraine, and no sanctions – whether they are already imposed or new – will produce Washington’s desired result, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov said.

In his interview with ITAR-TASS news agency, Ryabkov called the US restrictive measures against Russia an instrument of the past, belonging to the 19th century.

The sanctions became Washington’s response to last month’s accession of Crimea to Russia. They include travel bans and foreign asset freezes imposed on Russian politicians and businessmen as well as the severing of cooperation with Russia in many spheres, from trade talks to space exploration.

Question: Could you please comment on US sanctions against Russia? How will they affect bilateral and multilateral cooperation?

Sergey Ryabkov: The US president has recently signed a bill codifying sanctions against Russia. Once again, we see that the US administration remains victim of its misconceptions and misguided ideas regarding what happened in Ukraine and in Crimea and regarding ways to resolve the Ukrainian crisis.

It’s obvious that no sanctions, neither those already imposed nor the ones that may be imposed later under this new law, can or will produce the result Washington hopes for. To begin with, unilateral exterritorial sanctions are an illegitimate instrument; international law does not recognize them as a legitimate instrument of influence. We believe such instruments belong to the past.

Washington likes to talk about Russia being “on the wrong side of history” and keeps saying, as a mantra, that Russia is in some sort of isolation, but in reality it is Washington who can’t stop using methods and ways that belong to the 19th century.

It is alarming that our US counterparts, veiled by the phraseology approved at the very top in Washington, are unable to see unchangeable reality and seek to impose their stillborn and basically disastrous approaches on other members of the international community. The reality is that, with a vast majority of the vote, the Crimean people have made an irrevocable decision to reunify with Russia.

The officials of the US administration have recently gone public many times to explain why they are not happy with Russia’s actions. However, there’s little rationale behind their statements, let alone common sense. For instance, they have lambasted Russia for using ‘non-market leverage’ when it offered a new price for natural gas supplies to its Ukraine prices. At the same time they are ruthlessly pressurizing the EU into investing billions of euros into upgrading Ukraine’s oil and gas infrastructure, masking the move as ‘easing energy dependency on Moscow.’ Do their actions fall in line with market economy principles?

Sergey Ryabkov (Reuters / Fabrice Coffrini)Sergey Ryabkov (Reuters / Fabrice Coffrini).

Is it the free play of market forces when credit rating agencies downgrade their outlook for Russia’s corporate entities making the cost of borrowing more expensive?

But here’s what surprises me most. After the US had introduced a new round of visa bans against Russian officials, we made a reciprocal move and published part of our own blacklist, keeping the other part undisclosed. We got an immediate response from Washington saying that our decision was unlawful. It appears that unlike Moscow’s steps, all Washington’s decisions are lawful.

There’s no point in further comments regarding these ‘peculiar features’ of US policies. I am sure there’ll be plenty of stories like that in the future.

There’s one point I would like to add. It’s not only Russia but other countries that have taken note of Washington’s recent excesses. There are conclusions to be made for policy-makers and diplomats. But the level of confidence to the US in the world has definitely changed from stable to negative.

Q: How would you account for Washington’s recent decision to suspend its cooperation with Russia in the area of civilian nuclear technology?

SR: We are currently trying to figure out what the US Energy Ministry’s statement on suspending cooperation should mean in practice. We have some very impressive prospects and a few large-scale joint projects with the US in the area of civilian nuclear power. Moreover, this is an area of cooperation where benefit has always been mutual.

It looks outright weird: first our American counterparts spend years telling us how important this kind of cooperation is for the future of global power production, for science and for the environment, and then, next thing you know, we are being told that practical cooperation over those groundbreaking projects is no longer possible. That is immature, improper, and plain wrong.

We still hope that, once the wind shifts in Washington and emotions start to cool down, the Americans will be able to realize they’ve been missing the forest for the trees.

Q: Has the preparation for the G8 summit been put on hold, or is Sochi still ready to host the event?

SR: We have indeed suspended the preparation of the G8 summit in Sochi. But that wasn’t our idea. It’s the US and other group members that withdrew from the Russian presidency. It’s obvious that if the main event of the G8 calendar for 2014 fails to take place, we don’t really see much point in holding the rest of the events, though the comprehensive and diverse agenda of the Russian presidency won approval of the G8 leaders at the turn of the year.

We will, however, still hold the events that are supposed to engage not only the G8 but also other countries and international organizations. But if attempts to manipulate our presidency status and to push through an alternative vision for conferences and meetings should continue, we will refuse to show up at such events.

It is regrettable that some governments toed Washington’s line, so to speak, dealing a major blow to this time-tested and quite effective platform for cooperation on many key political and economic issues. But the current situation also has certain benefits, one of them being faster movement towards a multipolar world, where solutions are worked out on the basis of a genuine balance of interests rather than a system of dominance and subordination.

Posted in RussiaComments Off on Moscow: Neither current nor future sanctions against Russia will help Washington

Kerry gives up on I$raHell-Palestinian peace talks

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.(Reuters / Stringer)U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.(Reuters / Stringer).

Secretary of State John Kerry said Friday that the Obama administration will reassess its role in attempting to broker a peace deal between Israel and Palestine after the latest round of discussions proved to be all but fruitful.

Speaking to reporters from Rabat, Morocco amid his latest tour overseas, Kerry said that the most recent attempts from the United States to find common ground between leadership in the Middle East have failed.

Reporting from Morocco, the Associated Press said Kerry appeared “visibly downbeat” as he disclosed to journalists the results of the State Department’s latest attempt to find an answer to the long-standing issues between the Israelis and Palestinians.

Both sides said last year that they’d reach an agreement by the end of April 2014, but Sec. Kerry said this week that a negotiation between parties is nowhere as near as the White House had hoped. Israel had initially agreed to release a group of Palestinian prisoners, but earlier this week rescinded that promise, prompting discussions to deteriorate even further. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas responded on Tuesday by saying his nation would seek greater recognition from the United Nations, much to the chagrin of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

They say they want to continue,” the AP quoted Kerry as saying of both leaders. “But we are not going to sit there indefinitely. This is not an open-ended effort. It’s reality check time.”

Israel has a habit of evading agreements and conventions it has signed,” senior Palestinian official Yasser Abed Rabbo added to Agence France-Press this week. “That is why conditions for future negotiations must change radically.”

But Israeli leadership — namely Justice Minister Tzipi Livni — now say that Palestine has soured the odds of an agreement by appealing to the UN. Palestine “has breached its obligations by applying to the United Nations” Livni said Wednesday, and that “if they want a state, they need to understand that it will only be established on the negotiating table.”

According to AP, Kerry suggested to journalists that there had been a virtual collapse in efforts to negotiate as of late, and his remarks were his “most pessimistic assessment of the situation” since this round of talks started last summer.

It is regrettable that in the last few days both sides have taken steps that are not helpful and that’s evident to everybody,” Kerry told reporters.

You can facilitate, you can push, you can nudge, but the parties themselves have to make fundamental decisions and compromises,” he said. “The leaders have to lead and they have to be able to see a moment when it’s there.”

According to the AP, Kerry will soon return to the US to see how President Barack Obama and the rest of the players involved in his administration overseas efforts will wish to proceed.

Clearly we have an enormous amount on the plate,” Kerry said. At the same time, however, he added that “There are limits to the amount of time and effort that the United States can spend if the parties themselves are unable to take constructive steps.”

“We are going to evaluate very carefully exactly where this is and where it might possibly be able to go,”he said of the talks.

In the meantime, though, the US is indeed embroiled to at least some degree in a handful of other foreign affairs, and Kerry specifically singled conflicts in Ukraine and Syria, as well as ongoing efforts involving Iran’s nuclear program.

Posted in Palestine Affairs, USA, ZIO-NAZIComments Off on Kerry gives up on I$raHell-Palestinian peace talks

Over 8,000 former Ukrainian military apply for Russian citizenship – Shoigu

Ukrainian servicemen volunteering to the Russian armed forces, at the temporary conscription office at the Military Base 51330 in Sevastopol. (RIA Novosti/Vasiliy Batanov)Ukrainian servicemen volunteering to the Russian armed forces, at the temporary conscription office at the Military Base 51330 in Sevastopol. (RIA Novosti/Vasiliy Batanov).

Most of the Ukrainian military personnel serving in Crimea have chosen to stay on the peninsula and already applied for Russian citizenship, Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu said at a top-level military meeting.

Most of these people showed an intention to continue their service in the Russian military forces and were granted that opportunity, the minister said at the Friday military collegium.

As of today, over 8,000 former Ukrainian military have submitted documents in order to receive Russian passports,” RIA Novosti quoted Shoigu as saying.

About 3,000 of these people have already received new assignments. Now we need to create conditions for their swiftest adaptation to service in the Russian forces,” Shoigu told senior Russian generals. He especially urged the construction of homes and hospitals for the radically increased contingent to be sped up.

According to the minister, the total number of servicemen, civilian personnel and their family members who will be able to attend military hospitals in Crimea will soon reach 120,000.

Shoigu also promised that the government would place a significant order with Crimean arms-producing enterprises. He mentioned the companies of electronic, aircraft-building and ship-building industries.

At the beginning of 2014, the strength of the Ukrainian military contingent in Crimea was estimated at between 14,000 and 15,000 personnel. After the Crimean Autonomous Republic initiated its succession from Ukraine, most of these servicemen, including chief commander of the Ukrainian Naval Forces Rear Admiral Denis Berezovsky, announced that they preferred to remain on the peninsula.

Almost all of the rest were given free passage to Ukraine and left. Ukrainian Deputy PM Vitaly Yaryoma told reporters on Friday that about 400 technical personnel remained as they needed to prepare and conduct the transportation of weapons and military hardware to the mainland.

Russia kept between 20,000 and 25,000 military in Crimea as part of the agreement with Ukraine, which allowed the use of the Sevastopol navy base. However, after the accession of Crimea the agreement was denounced by Russia as useless.

In late March, Shoigu announced that the new mid-term plan of Defense Ministry’s work included multiple measures to ensure security of the newly formed Crimean Federal District. He did not go into details.

Posted in UkraineComments Off on Over 8,000 former Ukrainian military apply for Russian citizenship – Shoigu

Zionist game show ‘Boom!’ coming to the U.S.



The show, which will be adapted for the U.S. market by Keshet and Dick Clark Productions,has contestants try to defuse replica bombs by answering trivia questions.


Keshet DCP, the joint venture between Keshet International and Dick Clark Productions, will make Boom! the latest Israeli game show adapted for the U.S. market, the Hollywood Reporter reported on Friday.

On Boom!, contestants try to defuse replica bombs in a battle against the clock by answering trivia questions.

According to Keshet, Boom!’s Thursday night premiere on Channel 2 had the most successful game show launch in Israeli television history.

The U.S. adaption of Boom! marks the first co-development between Keshet International and DC Media since the Keshet DCP banner was established last year.

Keshet DCP is still planning on launching the U.S. adaption of Israeli musical talent show “Rising Star” during the summer of 2014.

Keshet International has sold the Rising Star format to producers in France, Russia, Italy, Germany and Nordic countries. They hope to find similar luck next week at the MIPTV in Cannes, where Boom! will be pitched to international buyers.

Posted in USA, ZIO-NAZIComments Off on Zionist game show ‘Boom!’ coming to the U.S.

Talk of Freeing a Spy for I$raHell Stirs Old Unease for U.S. Jews


CreditAmmar Awad/Reuters

The Jonathan Pollard Case, ExplainedJonathan J. Pollard, a former Navy intelligence analyst convicted of spying for Israel, is the only person in U.S. history to receive a life sentence for spying for an American ally.

Each year, just before Passover, Malcolm Hoenlein writes a letter to President Obama requesting that he grant clemency to Jonathan J. Pollard, the American sentenced to life in prison in 1987 for passing suitcases stuffed with classified documents to Israel.

This week, with his goal suddenly within reach, Mr. Hoenlein, the leader of an umbrella group of American Jewish organizations, has held off sending the letter. He is waiting to see whether Mr. Obama will release Mr. Pollard as part of a quid pro quo with Israel that would keep peace negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians on track.

Even now, nearly three decades later, Mr. Pollard’s case bedevils American Jews. While more and more of them believe the time to release him is long past — he spied for an ally, not an enemy, they say, and has expressed remorse — they are deeply divided over whether he should be used as a chit in a diplomatic transaction.

For an older generation, the potential release of this Cold War-era spy has roused another unwelcome ghost from the past: the suggestion that American Jews, like Mr. Pollard, inevitably hold divided loyalties and cannot be trusted in sensitive posts.

A 2005 rally in Jerusalem in support of Jonathan Pollard.CreditRonen Zvulun/Reuters

If Mr. Pollard, once freed, is given a hero’s welcome in Israel — a likely outcome, given the Israeli government’s long campaign on his behalf — there is worry that it will cause a backlash in the United States, where Mr. Pollard is still viewed by many, especially in the national security establishment, as a traitor who sold his country’s secrets for cash.

“Pollard represents the ultimate betrayal,” said Aaron David Miller, a longtime Middle East peace negotiator who is one of a circle of American Jewish diplomats who came of age at the time of Mr. Pollard’s arrest. “He is also a poster child for one of the darker tropes in American society: that Jews simply cannot have a single loyalty.”

Born in Galveston, Tex., to a Jewish family shadowed by the Holocaust, Mr. Pollard grew up with Zionist ideals and a fascination with the world of spying. With a degree in political science from Stanford, he was hired as a Navy intelligence analyst and soon started selling classified information to an Israeli handler, who paid him $1,500 a month, bought his wife a diamond-and-sapphire ring and sent the couple on expensive trips to Europe.

In 1985, facing arrest, Mr. Pollard sought asylum in the Israeli Embassy in Washington, but he was disavowed by the Israelis. Two year later, after reading an assessment of the damage he had done from the defense secretary at the time, Caspar W. Weinberger, a judge sentenced him to a life term. Since 1993, he has been in a federal prison in North Carolina.

Mr. Hoenlein, who has visited Mr. Pollard in jail, said he should be released purely on humanitarian grounds. But he said he was resigned to the possibility that the decision would be driven by diplomatic calculations, particularly since Mr. Pollard is eligible for release in November 2015, which makes him a diminishing asset as a bargaining chip.

Posted in USA, ZIO-NAZIComments Off on Talk of Freeing a Spy for I$raHell Stirs Old Unease for U.S. Jews

Yet more Canadian students join the boycott I$raHell movement


While Israel’s apologists withdraw into a parallel universe of make belief, the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) train is gathering pace.

Just days after Zionist fantacist Michael Rosenberg declared that the BDS movement is irrelevant”, students at Toronto’s Ryerson University voted at their annual meeting on 2 April to join the ever growing boycott Israel movement.

As even the ultra-right-wing Israeli news website Arutz Sheva 7 admits,

The vote caps a chain of anti-Israel decisions among Canadian institutions of higher education.

Just two weeks ago, Toronto’s York University student union voted to join the BDS movement. It was preceded by Windsor University in Ontario in early March. In mid-March, students at the University of Ottawa launched a campaign to have Sabra hummus banned from campus because of its alleged connection with “Israel apartheid.”

Similar votes for a general boycott on Israel have recently been passed in other universities, such as the University of Toronto’s Scarborough and Mississauga campuses, Regina University, Carlton University and others.

So, it’s best if Rosenberg and other Zionist sclerotics took time off for a reality check.

Slowly but surely, the truth is beginning to take its toll on the world’s only surviving apartheid state.

Those who can’t come to terms with this reality had better find another hobby horse – or a good psychiatrist.

Posted in Campaigns, CanadaComments Off on Yet more Canadian students join the boycott I$raHell movement



Suspended teachers gathered outside the Ministry of Education in Athens on Friday, protesting against layoffs and the Greek government’s austerity measures, Ruptly reported. Demonstrators attempted to prevent evaluation seminars from taking place by stopping evaluators from entering the building. The move led to clashes which resulted in police using tear gas. Officers then pushed protesters back to other parts of Athens.

US to provide Tunisia with $500 mn in loan guarantees

The US has approved $500 million in loan guarantees to Tunisia as part of an aid package aimed at revitalizing the country’s economy. The loan guarantees are meant to make it easier for Tunisia to borrow money to achieve financial stability. US President Barack Obama announced the guarantees on Friday as he met with Tunisian interim Prime Minister Mehdi Jomaa. The North African nation needs to fill up to a $3 billion hole in this year’s budget, AP reported. The country was the birthplace of the Arab Spring revolutions which began in late 2010.

Fort Hood shooting victims identified

Officials confirmed the identities of the three men shot and killed by Spc. Ivan Lopez on Wednesday. The three victims were: Sgt. 1st Class Daniel M. Ferguson, Staff Sgt. Carlos A. Lazaney Rodriguez and Sgt. Timothy W. Owens. Lt. General Mark Milley, Commanding General at Fort Hood in Killeen, Texas confirmed the three slain men were veterans, having served in Afghanistan and Iraq. Five other soldiers remained hospitalized.

Afghan security forces uncover major terror plot for election day – report

Afghan security services have uncovered a plot to stage a series of terror attacks on the day of the presidential elections, Khaama Press news agency reported. According to the agency, the National Directorate of Security has arrested a militant in Kabul, who was tasked with coordinating the attacks on April 5. Two grenade launchers, 28 machine guns, police uniforms, and body armor were confiscated from the home of the detainee. The atmosphere is tense in Afghanistan ahead of the election, with the Taliban – which wants to sabotage the vote – staging attacks across the country on a daily basis.

NATO opens Kosovo airspace to commercial overflights after 15 years

NATO has given the green light for commercial planes to fly high over Kosovo for the first time since 1999, allowing airlines to save time and money by taking more direct routes across the region, Reuters reported. The so-called “upper airspace” was reopened to commercial overflights on Thursday after Hungary agreed to provide air traffic control for private flights. NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen has called the move “a significant step that benefits the entire Western Balkans.” European air traffic organization Eurocontrol estimates that around 180,000 flights a year will fly 370,000 fewer nautical miles, cutting operating costs by 18 million euros.

US, EU plan special court for Kosovo organ harvesting charges – reports

Western officials are considering a plan for an EU-backed special tribunal to try Kosovo Albanian former guerrillas accused of harvesting organs from murdered Serbs during the Balkan country’s 1998-99 war, Reuters reported. Saturday’s edition of the Kosovo daily, Koha Ditore, will carry an interview with Jonathan Moore, director of the US State Department’s Office of South-Central European Affairs, who said preparations were under way with EU participation for a court based in Kosovo. The majority of the work will be done outside Kosovo, meaning witnesses will give testimony abroad to protect them. The move to stage a court stems from a 2011 report by Council of Europe rapporteur, Dick Marty.

Poland customs officers seize $10mn heroin haul smuggled from Ukraine

Customs officers seized 150kg of heroin hidden in a truck crossing into Poland from Ukraine on Friday, Polish authorities said. The drugs were wrapped in 300 plastic bags hidden beneath the trailer floor of the truck, which tried to cross into Poland near the town of Medyka at about 0200 GMT, Reuters reported. This is one of the biggest heroin busts in Europe for years.

Italy to shut 4 embassies to save state funds

Italy will close four embassies and abolish a post of its representative in UNESCO as part of a program to curtail state expenditure, RIA Novosti reported. Its embassies in Honduras, Iceland, the Dominican Republic and Mauritania will be closed.

Turkish election board rejects opposition call for Ankara recount

The local election board in the Turkish capital, Ankara, has rejected a call from the main opposition CHP party to recount the results of Sunday’s local election in the city, Reuters reported. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s AKP Party largely dominated Turkey’s electoral map in the local polls, keeping control of the main cities including Istanbul and Ankara. CHP has challenged the result in the capital and will appeal the election board’s decision.

Bomb hits Afghan polling center, 15km from AP journalists attack scene

A bomb exploded in a polling center in the Tanai district of Afghanistan’s eastern Khost province on Friday, CNN reported. Two people were killed, including the district’s deputy police chief, and three were injured, officials said. The attack came hours after two journalists working for The Associated Press were shot in Afghanistan, one of them fatally. The blast happened about 15 kilometers from the scene of the attack on the journalists.

Lufthansa won’t make new offer to pilots

German airline Lufthansa isn’t planning to make a new offer to pilots on salaries, a board member of Lufthansa Passage, Kay Kratky, has said. The pilots will be called to return to the negotiating table “without preconditions.” Their trade union “Cockpit” called a three-day strike this week seeking higher wages and protesting cuts to an early retirement agreement. The strike was scheduled to end at midnight on Friday. However, the airline said it did not expect to reach an agreement with the pilots by the end of the day.

UN accuses Chadian soldiers of killing 30 in Central African Rep

Chadian soldiers killed 30 civilians and seriously wounded more than 300 in an indiscriminate attack on a market on March 29 in Bangui, capital of the Central African Republic, Reuters quoted a spokesman for the UN human rights office as saying on Friday. Local officials and aid workers had previously put the death toll to at least 10, with 30 wounded. Chadian soldiers have been at the heart of African efforts to stabilize CAR, but have been accused of siding with the mainly Muslim Seleka rebels. Their seizure of power last year sparked tit-for-tat violence with Christian militia.

Magnitude 6.0 earthquake hits off Kirakira, Solomon Islands

A magnitude 6.0 earthquake hit off Kirakira, Solomon Islands, in the south-west of the Pacific Ocean, on Friday the US Geological Survey reported. The epicenter of the quake was 28km off the town of Kirakira, at a depth of 63km. No tsunami threats, casualties or damage were immediately reported.

3 men sentenced to death for Mumbai gang rapes

Three men were sentenced to death on Friday for two gang rapes last year in Mumbai, Reuters reported. They included an attack on a photojournalist that sparked protests in the city. A Mumbai court sentenced Vijay Jadhav, Kasim Bengali and Mohammed Salim Ansari to death, the first time capital punishment has been given for rape not involving the death of the victim.

Western sanctions to consolidate people of Russia – Belarusian president

Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko has described Western sanctions against Russia as “nonsense” and “twaddle.” The West “is fit for nothing now,” RIA Novosti quoted him as saying on Friday. The president added that Belarus itself has been under Western sanctions for two decades. They could bring benefits for Russia, as sanctions mobilize the nation, and the people to solve domestic problems, he said.

Erdogan blasts Constitutional Court for lifting Turkish Twitter ban

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan criticized the country’s highest court on Friday for overturning a ban on Twitter. He said “the Constitutional Court should have rejected” the application to lift the Twitter block brought by an opposition lawmaker and two academics, AFP reported. “All our national, moral values have been put aside,” he said, and, referring to recordings posted on the network, added that “insults to a country’s prime minister and ministers are all around.” The premier went on: “it is not only Twitter, YouTube and Facebook are also commercial companies. It is everyone’s free will whether or not to buy their product. This has nothing to do with freedoms.”

Schumacher has ‘moments of consciousness’ – manager

Michael Schumacher’s manager says the Formula One star now “shows moments of consciousness and awakening,” AP reported. Manager Sabine Kehm said that he “is making progress on his way,” more than three months after suffering serious head injuries in a skiing accident. “We keep remaining confident,” the manager added. No further details were disclosed.

N.Korea launches personal attack on S.Korea president

North Korea published comments on Friday attacking South Korean President Park Geun-hye, describing her as a “repulsive wench” who had failed to marry, Reuters said. The KCNA news agency went far beyond previous criticism and carried “comments” by a private citizen, Kim Un-kyong, criticizing Park’s offer last week to help the impoverished North’s women and children.

3 Ukrainians detained in Russia were sent to gather intelligence – report

Three Ukrainian men out of 25 people who were detained by the Russian security service have confessed that they had been sent to Russia to gather intelligence information, the Lifenews website said, citing its sources. They were reportedly working for a ‘West-East’ firm specializing in photographing children, which was used as a front company to gather intelligence, the website said, citing sources in the Federal Security Service (FSB). Vitaly Krivosheev and Artyom Golovko were detained in the Rostov Region, and Kirill Pilipenko in another Russian region, according to the website.


Intl space station maneuvers to avoid Ariane 5 debris

The International Space Station (ISS) orbit was changed to avoid a possible collision with a fragment from an old European Ariane 5 rocket, according to US space agency NASA. The engines of Progress М-21М cargo spacecraft were turned on at 20:42 GMT, to raise the station up 800 meters, Interfax reported. The six-man crew was never in any danger as it had been informed of the automatic maneuver. A similar maneuver was conducted on March 16, to avoid debris of a piece of old Russian METEOR 2-5 satellite.

Floods in Solomons leave 6 dead, 10,500 homeless

Flash flooding killed at least six people and left 10,500 homeless in the Solomon Islands’ capital Honiara on Friday, AFP reported. Another 30 were missing, officials said. A state of emergency was declared after the city’s main river, the Matanikau, burst its banks late Thursday, sweeping away entire communities. “This is the worst disaster the nation has seen,” according to the Solomons Star newspaper. The flooding followed days of heavy rain which was still falling.

S. Korea summons Japan envoy over islets claim

The South Korean Foreign Ministry summoned the Japanese ambassador Friday over an alleged claim by Tokyo to a disputed set of tiny islets and a plan to promote its stance in school text books, AFP said. Seoul formally conveyed its protest to Japanese Ambassador Koro Bessho over a section in Japan’s newly released foreign policy report ‘Diplomatic Bluebook 2014’. The report identified the disputed islets – known as Dokdo in Korean and Takeshima in Japanese – as Japanese territory. “Our government expresses strong regret at Japan’s outrageous claim on our indigenous territory, Dokdo,” the South Korean ministry said.

Egypt’s cabinet passes harsher terrorism laws

The Egyptian government has approved the broadening of terrorism laws, following increased violence in the country. For the new laws to come into force, they still need to be signed by interim President Adly Mansour. The exact changes made to the laws have not been released so far. Egypt’s security forces have been the target of frequent attacks since a military-backed coup toppled former President Mohamed Morsi last July. On Wednesday, a series of explosions killed three people outside Cairo University, including a police brigadier-general.

Zio-Nazi Air Force hits five Gaza targets following rocket fire

Israel Air Force jets struck five suspected terrorist locations in northern and central areas of the Gaza Strip on Thursday, according to the Israel Defense Forces. Israel Radio cited Palestinian sources who reported that two of the sites belonged to Hamas’ military forces. The strikes came after four rockets were fired from Palestinian territory into southern Israel. The rockets led to a Code Red alert in the Sderot area, according to The Jerusalem Post. The Palestinian rockets landed in open territory near the border with Gaza, according to Israeli media. No injuries or damage were reported on the Israeli side of the border.

Posted in WorldComments Off on WORLD NEWS *** WORLD NEWS

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