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A FOCUS ON THE FORCES CHANGING OUR WORLD

Posts tagged Geopolitics

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The Draft Anti-Terrorism Law in Saudi Arabia: Legalizing the Abrogation of Civil Liberties

Side note: Please visit this amazing site;  http://www.jadaliyya.com . I think I just found a great source for Middle Eastern news.

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By Saleh Al Amer

In July 2011, Amnesty International published aleaked copy of the draft Saudi Arabian Penal Law for Terrorism Crimes and Financing of Terrorism. This Anti-Terror Law, which grants the Ministry of Interior unprecedented levels of authority and discretion in intelligence gathering, policing, and detention, has already been reviewed by the Security Committee of the Consultative Council (Majlis al-Shura) and the Committee of Experts in the Ministers’ Council, and awaits final approval for its enactment. Given the recent appointment of the Interior Minister Prince Nayef Bin Abdulaziz as the new Crown Prince, it seems likely that the law will soon be adopted.

Widespread criticism of the law has been voiced internally, by local activists, and internationally, with Amnesty International andHuman Rights Watch leading the way. Unlike the US Patriot Act and the Terrorism Act 2006 of Great Britain, both of which allowed for tremendous expansions of state power, the proposed Anti-Terror Law seems designed to legitimize already-existing extra-judicial practices of the Saudi state by cloaking them in the rule of law. With broad support for legal reforms, continued protests and civil disobedience, and public debate growing over the injustices suffered by Saudi prisoners of conscience, the Anti-Terror Law seeks to forestall any movement towards enhanced legal protections.

The regime response was limited to a letter written by the Saudi Ambassador in London, emphasizing that the Anti-Terror Law provides both for the need to deal with terrorism within a legal framework, and for the protection of the “legitimate rights of suspects.” What has been neglected in this exchange between officials and critics is that the unapplied 2002 Law of Criminal Procedure (LCP) already exists to ensure a speedy, fair, and inexpensive trial, while guaranteeing basic rights. While the LCP is not without its flaws, unlike the proposed Anti-Terrorism Law, it limits the discretionary power of the Ministry of Interior and provides a foundation for a broader set of legal reforms.

The Saudi Criminal Procedure LCP

In 2002 Saudi Arabia published its first Law of Criminal Procedure (LCP). This law contains 225 articles laying out the process for the initiation of criminal action; rules of collecting and preserving evidence; conditions of arrest and pretrial detention, including bail; and the jurisdiction of courts and their proceedings … These new laws gave Saudi citizens and residents a clearer definition of their rights in detention and at trial and laid out the procedures the investigators and courts must follow. For the first time, defendants had the right to legal counsel during investigation as well as at trial (Law of Criminal Procedure, Article 4).

The LCP codified certain guarantees and rights absent in Saudi jurisprudence. It provided the right to be represented by a lawyer throughout investigations, charging, and trials, and guarded against prolonged detention as well. Article 33 and Article 34 state that a person cannot be held for over twenty-four hours without a written order and must be seen by an investigator and charged within this twenty-four-hour period. A person cannot be held incommunicado and must be able to inform others of his or her arrest and charges. Similarly, the LCP provided for a proper searching procedure where the citizen’s privacy is respected. The search must be done during the daytime; the person must be present when his or her home is being searched; and finally, a detailed warrant supported by specific information and probable cause is required. Private conversations are highly protected in the articles of the LCP. Monitoring people’s communications and wiretapping must be supported by probable cause and its warrant is a temporary one that must be renewed every ten days. During the investigation, the accused must be informed of the charge during the first meeting with the investigators and no form of coercion may be used. The fact that the authorities have a twenty-four-hour period to investigate and charge or release the detainee was emphasized through repetition in two different sections of the LCP. This twenty-four-hour period could be extended to six months, however, only after the initiation of investigation, and before charging the suspect, if specified reasons are met. Finally, the LCP gives the Minister of Interior the discretion to define the capital crimes that require arrest.

The LCP is far from perfect and significant changes must be made for it to meet international standards and conform to regional and universal treaties. These shortcomings were highlighted by Human Rights Watch in its 2008 report, which focused its criticism on the lack of codification of crimes. Judges and investigators are given the discretion to interpret the Sharia (Islamic Jurisprudence) texts and define the crimes, their elements, and the punishment. With the lack of codification, prompt charging is not possible since the investigator will only charge after the completion of the investigation and not within the required twenty-four-hour period.

Saudi lawyers and activists based their analysis and criticism of the LCP on Sharia law (Islamic Jurisprudence), a very strategic move in Saudi Arabia. Using this tactic, activists avoid common accusations of Western influence, which can serve to delegitimize their perspective in the public eye. Waleed Al-Majid, a Saudi writer and researcher, argued that the LCP did not accommodate a key Sharia principle, which stipulates that nobody can be punished without a text, which requires a clear and intelligible definition of crimes and guards against detention without charge. Human rights activist and Saudi lawyer Abdulrahman Al-Lahim pointed out that the LCP lacks two main principles. The first one is what is known as the fruit of the poisonous tree doctrine. The doctrine states that a piece of evidence is inadmissible if obtained through improper procedure. The second doctrine is the presumption of innocence. The LCP places the burden of proof on the accused not the investigator. Despite these problems, however, advocates of legal reform are enthusiastic for the LCP to be implemented. As Al-Majid has pointed out, the lack of implementation hinders any possible improvement through legal challenge and practice.

The strength, as well as the weakness, of the LCP became apparent in the aftermath of terrorist attacks in 2003 and 2004 in Saudi Arabia. Instead of putting the LCP to the test and strengthening it in the process of implementing it, the Saudi government decided to take a different route. The attacks had provided grounds for the regime to shelve the LCP and roll back what had until that point been incremental progress in legal reform.

The Draft Penal Law of Terrorism Crimes and Financing Terrorism

The drafting committee listed numerous Saudi and international bodies of law as bases and justifications for the proposed Anti-Terror Law. The long list includes the LCP, a great number of international and regional treaties, different anti-terror laws in the region, and the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1373 of 2001. The latter dictates that states shall bring every person participating in the commission of a terrorist act in any form or shape to justice and establish such terrorist acts as crimes in domestic law. Interestingly, the Law of Criminal Procedure was also cited as legal basis. While the Anti-Terror Law certainly violates numerous international treaties and basic human rights principles, it is in reference to the LCP that these contraventions are most important. The discrepancies between the two laws provide the best basis for legal and popular challenges to the enactment of the Anti-Terror Law.

The draft law does four main things. First, it gives the Ministry of Interior and the Minister himself an unprecedented level of authority and discretion. Second, it defines terrorist crimes over-broadly and vaguely. Third, it lacks the basic measures of due process and fair trial. Finally, and more importantly, it chills and officially bans free expression and the freedom of assembly.

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Filed under Commentary Terrorism Human Rights Saudi Arabia Geopolitics Revolution Terrorist Freedom Civil liberties Rights

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Final Curtain Call? Deep State Surveillance and the Death of Democratic Alternatives

ANTIFASCIST CALLING

Over the decades, the maintenance of power and class privileges by corporate, financial and political elites have relied on covert and overt forms of violence, oftentimes in unspoken arrangements with transnational criminal networks (the global drug trade) or intelligence-connected far-right terrorists: the minions who staffed and profited from Operations Condor and Gladio come to mind.

Once viewed as the proverbial “tip” of the imperial spear that advanced elitist dreams of “full-spectrum dominance,” the “plausibly deniable” puppeteering which formerly characterized such projects now take place in full-daylight with nary a peep from bought-off guardians of our ersatz democratic order, or a public narcotized by tawdry spectacles: Kony 2012 or American Idol, take your pick!

Mixing intellectual and moral squalor in equal measure with the latest high-tech gizmos on offer from Silicon Valley or Chengdu, the general societal drift towards data totalitarianism, once a hallmark of police states everywhere, is the backdrop where “too big to fail” is code for “too important to jail”!

With the current global economic crisis, brought on in no small part by private and public actors resorting to various frauds and market manipulations which reward privileged insiders, we have reached a social endpoint that analyst Michel Chossudovsky has accurately described as the “criminalization of the state,” that is, the historical juncture where “war criminals legitimately occupy positions of authority, which enable them to decide ‘who are the criminals’, when in fact they are the criminals.”

It should hardly surprise us then that American “hero,” Staff Sergeant Robert Bales, accused of murdering 17 innocent Afghan civilians, including 9 children and then burning their bodies, joined the Army after the 9/11 attacks not out of a sense of patriotic “duty,” but because he was a thief and swindler who went on the lam to avoid accounting for his crimes.

Indeed, ABC News reported that Bales “enlisted in the U.S. Army at the same time he was trying to avoid answering allegations he defrauded an elderly Ohio couple of their life savings in a stock fraud.”

Meanwhile Bales’ attorney John Henry Browne told CBS News that his client has “no memory” of the massacre and that it was “too early” to determine “what factors” may have led to the “incident.”

Some hero.

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Filed under Commentary Dissent Free Speech Surveillance Police State Surveillance State Imperialism Empire Geopolitics Afghanistan Iraq USA Big Brother

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Locator chips keep track of students in Brazil

By STAN LEHMAN 

SAO PAULO (AP) — Grade-school students in a northeastern Brazilian city are using uniforms embedded with locator chips that help alert parents if they’re cutting classes, the city’s education secretary said Thursday.

Twenty thousand students in 25 of Vitoria da Conquista's 213 public schools started using T-shirts with chips earlier this week, secretary Coriolano Moraes said by telephone.

By 2013, all of the city’s 43,000 public school students, aged 4 to 14, will be using the chip-embedded T-shirts, he added.

Radio frequency chips in “intelligent uniforms” let a computer know when children enter school and it sends a text message to their cell phones. Parents are also alerted if kids don’t show up 20 minutes after classes begin with the following message: “Your child has still not arrived at school.”

"We noticed that many parents would bring their children to school but would not see if they actually entered the building because they always left in a hurry to get to work on time," Moraes said in a telephone interview. "They would always be surprised when told of the number times their children skipped class.

After a student skips classes three times parents will be asked to explain the absences. If they fail to do so, the school may notify authorities, Moares said.

The city government invested $670,000 to design, test and make the microchipped T-shirts, he said.

The chips, similar to those used to track pets in many countries, are placed underneath each school’s coat-of-arms or on one of the sleeves below a phrase that says: “Education does not transform the world. Education changes people and people transform the world.”

The T-shirts, can be washed and ironed without damaging the chips, Moraes said adding that the chips have a “security system that makes tampering virtually impossible.”

Moraes said that Vitoria da Conquista is the first city in Brazil “and maybe in the world” to use this system.

"I believe we may be setting a trend because we have received many requests from all over Brazil for information on how our system works," he said.

Filed under News Brazil RFID Children School Tracking surveillance Geopolitics Orwellian dystopia

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The federal budget’s one-cent solution

Side Note: This is just some more small steps towards a cashless society…

Please note the reasons given for Canada’s abandonment of the penny:

- “It costs taxpayers a penny-and-a-half every time we make one,” Finance Minister Jim Flaherty told the Commons, adding the move will save taxpayers $11-million annually.

- Mr. Flaherty, whose department described the penny as a “nuisance” in budget documents, said the 2.35-gram coin is now more trouble than it’s worth.

Businesses are being told that they might have to round up to the nearest nickel… but the article also states “the five-cent coin’s days are now numbered too.”

ANYWAY…
I posted a story a few days ago from CBS called “Why Cash Is Losing It’s Currency” [http://cbsn.ws/HzTmE3] in which it states:

"Everyone thinks cash is so simple and so easy and so fast and so secure. It’s NONE of those things," said author David Wolman. In his new book, "The End of Money," he argues the biggest knock against cash is that it’s costly.

"It’s really expensive to move it, store it, secure it, inspect it, shred it, redesign it, re-supply it, and round and round we go!" Wolman said.

It already costs the U.S. government almost TWICE as much to make a penny and a nickel, than they’re actually WORTH.

Don’t be fooled - moving to a DIGITAL currency (i.e. a ‘cashless society’) has been planned for quite awhile. The primary difference between cash and digital currency (like BITCOINS) is that digital currency can be tracked. There is no ‘anonymity’ when your money is digitized - and that is the intent. 

Along with this trend, we only have to look at Louisiana who in 2011 made it illegal to use cash in 2nd hand purchases. Why? Because cash, once again, is VERY difficult to track. When money is digitized, you can quickly discover who purchased what when in a matter of seconds. [http://bit.ly/HzUPKq] As Louisiana State Representative Rickey Hardy quite blatantly states:  
"It’s a mechanism to be used so the police department has something to go on and have a lead."  

One more quick point - once money is digitized, it’ll be much easier to integrate into society a regional (similar to the Euro, but for North America in this case) or to a global currency.

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By STEVEN CHASE

Canada is scrapping the penny, ending production this year of a coin that weighs down consumers’ pockets while adding little to their purchasing power.

The government announced in Thursday’s federal budget that it will shortly jettison the one-cent coin – a casualty of Ottawa’s drive for efficiency and thrift.

“It costs taxpayers a penny-and-a-half every time we make one,” Finance Minister Jim Flaherty told the Commons, adding the move will save taxpayers $11-million annually.

Mr. Flaherty, whose department described the penny as a “nuisance” in budget documents, said the 2.35-gram coin is now more trouble than it’s worth.

“Pennies take up too much space on our dressers at home,” Mr. Flaherty added. “They take up far too much time for small businesses trying to grow and create jobs.”

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Filed under Big Brother Canada Cashless Society Commentary Currency Geopolitics New North America Original Penny Police State Surveillance USA World Government Golden Platform

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UGANDA OIL: US Africa Command, a tool to Recolonize the African Continent

By Dr Motsoko Pheko

The USA Africa Command, which America calls ‘Africom’, is a military structure of the Defence Department of America. Africom was formed in 2007 during President George W Bush’s second term of office. That was two months after America had bombed a small African country, Somalia, destabilising it to the ashes it is today and to the danger it now poses to Africa and international trade. The coast of Somalia is infested with sea piracy and kidnappings. This is as a result of the earlier American invasion of Somalia, in pursuit of its illegitimate economic interests in Africa. The political instability of Somalia has now caused the problem of ‘terrorism’ for East African countries such as Kenya.

In October 2011, the Institute of Security Studies held a seminar in Pretoria, South Africa, on United States’ security policy in Africa and the role of the US Africa Command. The main speaker was the American Ambassador to South Africa. He presented what was a ‘non-military insider’s perspective on the United States’ Africa Command.’ This way he was supposedly to ‘separate facts from fiction and rumours and deal directly with misconceptions and misapprehensions about Africom.’

The American apologists of Africom suggested that the creation of this American military structure under the American Defence Department ‘has turned out to be different from what the USA government had originally envisioned and what the United States of America had originally perceived, having quickly foresworn locating its headquarters in Africa.’

It seems that even in this 21st century the United States of America government does not respect the sovereignty of African states and the territorial integrity of the continent. If it did, it would know that Africans have national and continental interests and the right to protect them. Assistance should be solicited. Those who need assistance know what kind of assistance they want. The United States of America has no right to prescribe Africom on Africa even at the expense of dividing Africa and weakening the African Union. America wants its own interests to prevail over those of Africa.

Africans have a painful history of the Trans Atlantic Slave Trade, racism and colonialism by nations that claim to be ‘civilised’ but have behaviour that is contrary to civilisation. They dehumanised Africa’s people and saw nothing wrong with that. They have never shown any remorse for their inhuman deeds to Africans or offered any reparations for the colossal damage they inflicted on Africans. America’s persistence to impose Africom on Africa proves this beyond reasonable doubt.

UGANDAN OIL AND AMERICAN TROOPS TO ‘HELP’

Uganda suffered unspeakable atrocities under Idi Amin’s government that was installed by Britain under Prime Minister Edward Heath. The British government did not like the socialist policies of President Milton Obote. Idi Amin killed many Ugandans. They included the Anglican Archbishop Janani Luwum.

After the overthrow of Idi Amin, there emerged Joseph Kony, leader of what he calls the Lord’s Resistance Army. Kony has murdered thousands of Ugandans. This included kidnapping hundreds of Ugandan children who he forced to join his army to fight the Ugandan government. Many of those children were killed in the senseless war. This has gone on for over 20 years.

The US government never approached Uganda or the African Union or its predecessor, the Organisation of African Unity, to ask how the United States could help. Now there is discovery of oil in Uganda. Almost immediately, there are reports that US government has sent an army to Uganda to find Joseph Kony and rescue Uganda’s children. Why did America not make this offer long before Uganda discovered this oil wealth? Acquisition of Africa’s resources is the chief purpose of Africom, not the development of Africa.

WILL US ALLOW RUSSIAN OR CHINESE ARMY INSIDE AMERICA?

Some African countries have been threatened with sanctions and ‘regime change.’ One of them is Libya, where Colonel Maummar Gaddafi was killed under the dark cloud of NATO and United States of America. When Africans raise concerns about ‘Africom’ they are said to suffer ‘misconceptions, misapprehensions, rumours, and fiction.’ Now, is the United States of America government prepared to allow Russia or China to establish their own ‘American Command’ and call it ‘Americom’ in pursuit of their national interests in America? How would Americans react to this? Would they go to the streets and say, ‘Welcome messiah!’

Anyway, the architect of ‘Africom’ President George W Bush has said that the United States’ Africa Command ‘will co-ordinate all United States security interests throughout Africa.’ If this is not imperialist arrogance and contempt for the sovereignties of African States, then the proponents of ‘Africom’ must be sent to a mental hospital for treatment.

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Filed under News commentary Africa Africom Geopolitics Oil Uganda KONY 2012 World Government Imperialism Empire War War Crimes Resources Theft

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ANTI-NARCOTICS CHIEF SAYS RUSSIAN HEROIN MARKET WORTH $6 BILLION

Side note: There is a lot of heroin being produced in Afghanistan, MUCH more than what was being produced before the US/NATO invasion in fact - with, what clearly appears to be the USA and NATO’s help. The theory is, it’s being produced for two primary reasons 1) for the obvious enormous profits from the global opium black market and 2) to destabilize Russia - a nation that, like China, is threatening the USA’s global power.

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The St. Petersburg Times 

The black market for heroin in Russia, fueled by large-scale production in Afghanistan, is worth $6 billion dollars, said Federal Drug Control Service head Viktor Ivanov on Friday.

Ivanov said the marijuana market is worth $1.5 billion, the market for synthetic drugs $1 billion. and the cocaine market much less at $80 million, Interfax reported.

Earlier this month, the drug control service said there are five million regular drug users in Russia.

Over the weekend, anti-narcotics forces seized a huge haul of Afghan heroin, over 40 kilograms, from the home of two Tajik natives in St. Petersburg, Ivanov also said Friday. The pair is believed to be part of a larger drug-trafficking group, the members of which are currently being sought by authorities, Ivanov said.

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Also see:

Afghan Air Force Probed in Drug Running

Afghan Opium Production Rises by 61% Compared with 2010

Brother of Afghan Leader Is Said to Be on CIA Payroll

U.S.-Built Bridge is Windfall for Illegal Afghan Drug Trade

The Invisible Hand of the Market: British Troops Seize £50 Million of Afghan Opium

Officials Puzzle Over Millions of Dollars Leaving Afghanistan by Plane for Dubai

Afghans Believe U.S. is Funding Taliban

NATO Forces Supplied Food, Water and Arms to Taliban Forces in Southern Afghanistan

Afghanistan: Planned British Covert Operation Included Training in “Farming and Irrigation Techniques” for Taliban Fighters

Blackwater Worldwide Changes Its Name to Xe; Same Mercenaries, but Now with More “Aviation Support”

Afghanistan: Special Forces Under CIA Control Would be Considered Spies, Allowing White House to Claim U.S. Troops Have Been Withdrawn

Cryptogon follows this stuff closely, check that site out.

Filed under USA Imperialism Afghanistan Drug Trade Heroin Opium CIA Russia World Government Geopolitics

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Has the ‘Cyber Pearl Harbor’ already happened?

By Philip Ewing 

Has the Cyber Pearl Harbor already happened?

The Russians are picking our pockets, the Chinese are stealing our most vital secrets, and there’s nothing we can do about it – and it’s all going to get worse.

That was the basic conclusion after Friday’s Air Force Association cyber-conference, where speaker after speaker drove home the utter futility and helplessness of today’s cyber climate, all the while warning that the problem will only grow.

Richard Bejtlich, chief security officer for the info-security firm Mandiant, said 100 percent of the high-profile intrusions his company tracks were done with “valid credentials” – meaning the cyber bad-guys had been able to steal a real user’s login and password, obviating the need for more complex attacks.

The typical time between an intrusion and its discovery is 416 days, he said – down from two or three years – and the way most companies find out about them is when they get a visit from the FBI.

The publicly available malware in the so-called “cyber underground” is now so good that you can do a lot of damage without a dedicated team of code-writers coming up with their own stuff, speakers said. In fact, the much-discussed cyber attack against Georgia was carried out mostly with publicly known tools – “there was nothing sacred here,” said National Defense University iCollege chancellor Robert Childs.

Cyber-intrusions and compromise are so endemic, Bejtlich said, that many attackers don’t even bother with the wholesale vacuuming of information that used to characterize cyber-snooping. Now hackers go after very specific pieces of information, often data that is useless on its own, he said.

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Filed under News Cyber Warfare Hacker Anonymous Lulzsec Military Air Force Cyber Underground FBI Hacking Cyber Pearl Harbor Geopolitics War

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CELAC: New Challenge to US Hegemony

by Yohannan Chemerapally


THE new regional economic grouping——the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) was formally launched in the Venezuelan capital Caracas in the first week of December. All the top leaders from Latin America and the Caribbean were present on the historic occasion. The summit was originally scheduled to be held in July but the dates had to be changed to allow president Hugo Chavez to recover from his treatment of cancer. Chavez has since announced that he is now cancer free. He is now back to his old self and once again following a hectic work schedule. Chavez is also girding up for the presidential elections later this year where he will be facing a united opposition.

 

The United States and Canada have not been invited to join CELAC. The aim of CELAC is to be the voice of the region and eventually make the discredited Organisation of American States (OAS), a creation of Washington, irrelevant.

 

President Chavez and his Cuban counterpart, Raul Castro described the occasion as the “most important event in the continent” in the last hundred years. Many of the leaders present at the summit said that CELAC would fulfil the dreams of the liberator, Simon Bolivar of creating “a united America”. Two hundred years ago, Bolivar, born in Caracas, had liberated most of South America from colonial yoke. He had wanted a united Latin America but the US saw to it that his dream was sabotaged. In 1823, US president James Monroe invoked the “Monroe Doctrine” to ensure that the region remains within Washington’s zone of influence. In the 19th and the 20thcentury, the US regularly intervened militarily in Latin American countries. To create the Panama Canal, a new country was created. Panama was forcibly carved out ofColombia in 1903. Mexico lost much of its territory to American conquests in the 19th century. Puerto Rico too became a colony of the US.

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Filed under News Geopolitics World Government CELAC Venezuela Latin America Hugo Chavez USA Caracas Declaration Obama

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Obama warns nuclear terrorism still a major threat

Obama in Korea, via AFP
 

US President Barack Obama warned on Monday that nuclear terrorism remained one of the world’s biggest threats, as he called for greater urgency in safeguarding the world’s atomic stockpiles.

In a speech hours before the opening of a nuclear security summit in South Korea, Obama said major progress had been made over the past two years to make it harder for terrorists to get hold of material for atomic weapons.

“But we’re under no illusions. We know that nuclear material — enough for many weapons — is still being stored without adequate protection,” he said.

“We know that terrorists and criminal gangs are still trying to get their hands on it, as well as the radioactive material for a dirty bomb… the danger of nuclear terrorism remains one of the greatest threats to global security.”

Obama urged the leaders or top officials from 53 nations who had gathered in Seoul for the two-day summit to “keep at it”, and take concrete actions to secure nuclear materials.

Obama said he expected many nations to announce they had fulfilled pledges made at the inaugural nuclear summit in Washington two years ago, and for other countries to make new commitments on securing or removing material.

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Filed under Propaganda Nuclear Nuke Obama US President Lies News Geopolitics

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USAFRICOM and the Militarization of the African Continent: Combating China’s Economic Encroachment

by Nile Bowie



Since the time of the British Empire and the manifesto of Cecil Rhodes, the pursuit of treasures on thehopeless continent has demonstrated the expendability of human life. Despite decades of apathy among the primary resource consumers, the increasing reach of social media propaganda has ignited public interest in Africa’s long overlooked social issues. In the wake of celebrity endorsed pro-intervention publicity stunts, public opinion in the United States is now being mobilized in favor of a greater military presence on the African continent. Following the deployment of one hundred US military personnel to Uganda in 2011, a new bill has been introduced to the Congress calling for the further expansion of regional military forces in pursuit of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), an ailing rebel group allegedly responsible for recruiting child soldiers and conducting crimes against humanity.

As the Obama administration claims to welcome the peaceful rise of China on the world stage, recent policy shifts toward an American Pacific Centuryindicate a desire to maintain the capacity to project military force toward the emerging superpower. In addition to maintaining a permanent military presence in Northern Australia, the construction of an expansive military base on South Korea’s Jeju Island has indicated growing antagonism towards Beijing. The base maintains the capacity to host up to twenty American and South Korean warships, including submarines, aircraft carriers and destroyersonce completed in 2014 – in addition to the presence of Aegis anti-ballistic systems. In response, Chinese leadership has referred to the increasing militarization in the region as an open provocation.
On the economic front, China has been excluded from the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA), a trade agreement intended to administer US-designed international trading regulations throughout Asia, to the benefit of American corporations. As further fundamental policy divisions emerge subsequent to China and Russia’s UNSC veto mandating intervention in Syria, the Obama administration has begun utilizing alternative measures to exert new economic pressure towards Beijing. The United States, along with the EU and Japan have called on the World Trade Organization to block Chinese-funded mining projects in the US, in addition to a freeze on World Bank financing for China’s extensive mining projects.
In a move to counteract Chinese economic ascendancy, Washington is crusading against China’s export restrictions on minerals that are crucial components in the production of consumer electronics such as flat-screen televisions, smart phones, laptop batteries, and a host of other products. In a 2010 white paper entitled “Critical Raw Materials for the EU,” the European Commission cites the immediate need for reserve supplies of tantalum, cobalt, niobium, and tungsten among others; the US Department of Energy 2010 white paper “Critical Mineral Strategy” also acknowledged the strategic importance of these key components.  Coincidently, the US military is now attempting to increase its presence in what is widely considered the world’s most resource rich nation, the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

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Filed under Africa Imperialism USA AFRICOM China Commentary Dissent Essay Free Speech Geopolitics

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Baghdad turns into a ‘virtual prison’ ahead of Arab League summit

[Side note, incidentally Chicago is being transformed into a ‘virtual prison’ in response to the approaching NATO summit.]

BAGHDAD // Traffic jams are growing longer and tempers shorter as Baghdad goes into near-lockdown ahead of next week’s Arab League summit.

Tens of thousands of soldiers and police reinforcements have been brought into the city for the summit and the extra patrols and checkpoints are disrupting normal life. Bitter arguments are breaking out between frustrated commuters and the military and police.

For someone such as Awad Al Temime, the delays can mean a matter of life and death. He is a surgeon at Rahibat hospital. After four hours in his car yesterday morning to barely move two blocks, he gave up and walked to work.

"I have been trying to reach my workplace since 7am and it took me four hours just to drive two main streets," he said angrily. "So I had to park my car far, far away and make it on foot to the hospital.

"It’s just crazy, what they are doing. Of course we are with the summit and we stand with the government. But we can’t take this.

"I saw thousands of soldiers filling Baghdad’s streets and the army and police seem to be going mad, kicking out everyone yelling at everyone. It’s just madness."

"I had to delay my work. I missed a critical case at the hospital."

Leaders of the 22-nation Arab League, which has temporarily suspended Syria over its attempt to crush a rebellion against the government of Bashar Al Assad, will meet in the Iraqi capital next week. The Syrian crisis will dominate the agenda.

Al Qaeda has vowed to disrupt the conference and a string of bombings across the country have killed dozens in recent days.

Areas of the city, including leading to the Green Zone where thousands of ordinary Iraqis live, have been closed off.

Husham Al Abideen, a reporter for Iraqi TV, described the city as a virtual prison.

To the Arab League leaders, he pleaded: “Please don’t come, you’re killing us.”

SOURCE 

Filed under News Iraq Police State Baghdad Arab League summit NATO summit Chicago Geopolitics

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US Marines Dispatched to Five African Countries

by Michel Chossudovsky 

 

The hidden agenda in Uganda, Central Africa and the Horn of Africa is the conquest of oil and strategic mineral resources. Going after Joseph Kony and protecting Ugandan children is a cynical smokescreen, a pretext for a “humanitarian intervention” in a region where US sponsored  “civil wars” (Sudan, Rwanda, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Somalia, Ethiopia) have in the course of the last 20 years resulted in more than eight million deaths: 

"Through AFRICOM, the United States is seeking a foothold in the incredibly resource rich central African block in a further maneuver to aggregate regional hegemony over China. The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is one of the world’s largest regions without an effectively functioning government. It contains vast deposits of diamonds, cobalt, copper, uranium, magnesium, and tin while producing over $1 billion in gold each year. It is entirely feasible that the US can considerably increase its presence in the DRC under the pretext of capturing Joseph Kony.” (Nile Bowie,  Merchandising and Branding Support for US Military Intervention in Central Africa, Global research, March 14, 2012) 

In a recent decision, the Pentagon confirms the sending in of Marine Special Forces to train Ugandan troops in the fight not only against Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) but also against Al Shabab in Somalia. Joseph Kony is being used as a pretext for outright military intervention in five African countries. 

"So far, the task force has deployed small teams to five African nations, including some threatened by the terror group al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, according to a Marine news release" (Stars and Stripes, March 15, 2012 ). 

Officially, the underlying framework is “peacekeeping” to be achieved through US sponsored “counterterrorism operations”. The stated objective is to transform Ugandan soldiers into “counterterrorism engineers”, namely Special Forces under US supervision,  ”who will then deploy to Somalia in support of infantry battalions.”(Ibid) 

The sending in of US Marines to Africa is  upheld as “part of a new Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force-12 based out of Sigonella, Sicily” which will dispatch small teams of Marine forces throughout the African continent. The initiative was launched in 2011 “as part of an effort to prepare African militaries to conduct counterterrorism operations” under US guidance.

What this initiative also implies is the direct involvement of Ugandan troops and special forces in the civil war in Somalia:

“The genesis of this mission was operations in Mogadishu, Somalia, where African Union peacekeepers experienced IEDs (improvised explosive devices) and other complex obstacles, which exposed them to ambushes by al Shabaab,” said Maj.Charles Baker, a spokesman for the Marine mission, in a news release issued by the U.S. Embassy in Kampala.

“The soldiers on training will use the acquired knowledge in war-torn Somalia and in the hunt down of fugitive LRA commander Joseph Kony, wherever he is,” said Ugandan People’s Defense Force Lt. Col. Richard C. Wakayinja, in a separate Marine news release. (Stars and Stripes, March 15, 2012)

Filed under Dissent Commentary Free Speech War Imperialism Africa Murder War Geopolitics

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Effective World Government Will Be Needed to Stave Off Climate Catastrophe

EXCERPT:

Unfortunately, far more is needed. To be effective, a new set of institutions would have to be imbued with heavy-handed, transnational enforcement powers. There would have to be consideration of some way of embracing head-in-the-cloud answers to social problems that are usually dismissed by policymakers as academic naivete. In principle, species-wide alteration in basic human behaviors would be a sine qua non, but that kind of pronouncement also profoundly strains credibility in the chaos of the political sphere. Some of the things that would need to be contemplated: How do we overcome our hard-wired tendency to “discount” the future: valuing what we have today more than what we might receive tomorrow? Would any institution be capable of instilling a permanent crisis mentality lasting decades, if not centuries? How do we create new institutions with enforcement powers way beyond the current mandate of the U.N.? Could we ensure against a malevolent dictator who might abuse the power of such organizations?”

Filed under News Commentary World Government Geopolitics New World Order

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Gaza out of the spotlight…and out of power, gasoline, and cooking gas for that matter

By Eva Bartlett


Every time I speak with Emad in Gaza things are even worse than the day before.  I know how hard it was during the power outages that were 6 hours, but now the power outages are 20 hours in many areas, 18 hours in others, and even entire days—24 hours without electricity. See Press TV’s “Long power outages cripple daily life in Gaza Strip

The impact is significant and catastrophic: on the individual level, it means days of darkness in homes, no contact with the outside world, not even the luxury of watching news on tv, no power for space heaters if lucky enough to have them, dependence on candles for lighting, reading, cooking by.

But it gets worse, deadly, when considering the impact on hospitals which, although many of them do have back-up generators, cannot depend on generators as a constant power source.  These coughing machines spew nauseating fumes, drown out all other sound, but more importantly are designed as a transitional power source, to bridge gaps between brief outages, not as a main source.

When I interviewed Dr. Khalaf a week ago, as Israel was bombing the Strip yet again, he stressed the prolonged and always worsening health care crisis, including the effect of the power cuts:

It is very critical, 180 of 450 of patients’ drug items are at zero stock; 200 of 900 of essential medical items are at zero stock. We lack many essential drugs, including those needed for anaesthesia, antibiotics, specialized milk for infants, treatments for neurological conditions like epilepsy, and cancer medications.

No electricity means no medical service. Electricity is the life of medical service, for all machines; the ICU is completely dependent on electricity, as is the operating theatre, kidney dialysis…

Over a month ago, when the situation was already grave after weeks without power, I wrote:

"More than 80% of patients in the Gaza Strip are threatened to terrible health status and possibility of death due to lack of electricity.

…some 404 of dialysis patients are at risk of death for their treatment is totally based on electricity, …100 children exist in special care are threatened to death .

…72% of the diesel storage has just run out from Gaza hospitals, …Gaza hospitals will be in a complete paralysis in case of not provided with more fuel.”

So a month passes, Israel wages more bombings and assassinations, Palestinians in Gaza are terrorized and killed again, then “quiet” resumes and they are left to their open air prison once again, powerless, fuel-less, jobless, hopeless.

Add to all of that the renewed shortage of cooking gas, another intentional crisis which has plagued Gaza for years under the Israeli-imposed siege which periodically adds cooking gas to the unknowable list of banned goods.  Gaza’s Palestinians depend on cooking gas, not electric stoves, for their cooking needs.

The blog Occupied Palestine aptly summarized, in a photo essay, the dire circumstances in Gaza one month ago:

Read more …

Filed under Dissent Commentary Gaza Palestine Geopolitics War War Crimes

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