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Showing posts from February 7, 2013

'Many killed' in Syria car bombings

At least 19 Syrian forces killed in two bombings targeting military compound in city of Palmyra, activists say. At least 19 members of Syria's security forces have been killed in two suicide car bombings targeting a military intelligence headquarters in the south-central city of Palmyra, a watchdog has said.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that a number of other troops were also wounded, some in critical condition, after Wednesday's simultaneous attacks against the intelligence branch and a nearby security building.

It said rebel fighters attacked the buildings soon after the double blasts, while the army deployed security forces in the city renowned for its Roman ruins and which has been designated as a world heritage site by UNESCO.

A shootout around the intelligence buildings erupted after the bombings leaving eight civilians wounded as clashes broke out elsewhere in the central Homs province city.

Heavy fighting has also erupted in Damascus as rebels launched an o…

The Mali Blowback: More to Come?

By Stephen Zunes
February 07, 2013 - The French-led military offensive in its former colony of Mali has pushed back radical Islamists and allied militias from some of the country’s northern cities, freeing the local population from repressive Taliban-style totalitarian rule. The United States has backed the French military effort by transporting French troops and equipment and providing reconnaissance through its satellites and drones. However, despite these initial victories, it raises concerns as to what unforeseen consequences may lay down the road. Indeed, it was such Western intervention—also ostensibly on humanitarian grounds—that was largely responsible for the Malian crisis in the first place. The 2011 NATO military intervention in Libya effort went well beyond the UN Security Council mandate to protect civilian lives, as the French, British and U.S. air forces—along with ground support by the Saudi and Qatari dictatorships—essentially allied themselves with the rebel armies. The…

Britamgate: Staging False Flag Attacks in Syria

On January 22 a telling leak cropped up in the Internet. British defense contractor’s BRITAM server was hacked and megabytes of classified internal files of the firm were released to the public. Now the case is acquiring a Britamgate scale due to the publication on Prison Planet. What is the story behind the leakage? Why this scandal is likely to turn around the situation in Syria?

By Voltaire Network

February 07, 2013 "Information Clearing House" -  Let’s brief the files. The key finding is a mail dated December 24, 2012 sent by Britam Defence’s Business Development Director David Goulding to Dynamic Director of the firm Phillip Doughty, who is a former SAS officer:
Phil We’ve got a new offer. It’s about Syria again. Qataris propose an attractive deal and swear that the idea is approved by Washington. We’ll have to deliver a CW to Homs, a Soviet origin g-shell from Libya similar to those that Assad should have. They want us to deploy our Ukrainian personnel that should speak Russ…

NY Times Reveals Location Of Secret US Base In Saudi Arabia

The media and national-security worlds, internationally, are abuzz over an important story on the front page of Wednesday’s New York Times that describes a drone strike in Yemen last August. The article reveals a great deal about the secret drone program, the architect of which is John O. Brennan, who has been nominated to head the Central Intelligence Agency.

One of its revelations is the location of a drone base in Saudi Arabia. The Times and other news organizations, including The Washington Post, had withheld the location of that base at the request of the C.I.A., but The Times decided to reveal it now because, according to the managing editor Dean Baquet, it was at the heart of this particular article and because examining Mr. Brennan’s role demanded it.

“It was central to the story because the architect of the base and drone program is nominated to head the C.I.A.,” Mr. Baquet told me on Wednesday. In past stories, he said, the location of the base “was a footnote.”

The government’…

U.S. steps up pressure on Europe to brand Hezbollah a terrorist group

The Obama administration sought Tuesday to increase pressure on Europe to brand Hezbollah a terrorist group after the Bulgarian government implicated the militants in a fatal attack on Israeli tourists last summer.

Bulgaria blamed the Iran-backed group for the July bus bombing in the Black Sea city of Burgas, making official what U.S. and Israeli terrorism officials had alleged from the start. The attack killed five Israelis and their Bulgarian driver.

Bulgaria said evidence showed that two of the people involved in the attack were members of Hezbollah’s military wing and that they were acting as part of a campaign against Israeli targets worldwide. The United States and Israel assisted with the investigation.

The allegation of a direct Hezbollah terror campaign on European soil escalates pressure on the European Union to reconsider its treatment of Hezbollah. The E.U. has resisted past U.S. and Israeli entreaties to designate Hezbollah a terrorist group.

Secretary of State John F. Kerry…

A time to explain the drone campaign

THURSDAY’S CONFIRMATION hearing for John O. Brennan as director of the CIA will give senators an opportunity to air a host of pent-up questions about the Obama administration’s secret warfare, including drone strikes in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. But the nominee should also be pressed on a more fundamental question: Does the secret war really have to be so secret?

As The Post and other news organizations have reported, Mr. Brennan has played a crucial role as the White House’s counterterrorism adviser in managing and regularizing the conduct of drone attacks by the CIA and the Pentagon’s Joint Special Operations Command in all three countries. The Post and Newsweek have reported that Mr. Brennan has developed a “playbook,” spelling out the rules for a “disposition matrix” that determines whether terrorist suspects should be targeted for killing. According to Newsweek’s Daniel Klaidman, “embedded in the document are the legal authorizations for pursuing the enemy far away from convent…

Pakistani Militant, Price on Head, Lives in Open

“I move about like an ordinary person — that’s my style,” said Hafiz Muhammad Saeed. “My fate is in the hands of God, not America.”

LAHORE, Pakistan — Ten million dollars does not seem to buy much in this bustling Pakistani city. That is the sum the United States is offering for help in convicting Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, perhaps the country’s best-known jihadi leader. Yet Mr. Saeed lives an open, and apparently fearless, life in a middle-class neighborhood here.

“I move about like an ordinary person — that’s my style,” said Mr. Saeed, a burly 64-year-old, reclining on a bolster as he ate a chicken supper. “My fate is in the hands of God, not America.”

Mr. Saeed is the founder, and is still widely believed to be the true leader, of Lashkar-e-Taiba, the militant group that carried out the 2008 attacks in Mumbai, India, in which more than 160 people, including six Americans, were killed. The United Nations has placed him on a terrorist list and imposed sanctions on his group. But few believ…

U.S. Ratchets Up an Economic War Against Tehran

TEHRAN — All over this city of 12 million people, high-rises are under construction, local engineers and Chinese contractors are rushing to finish a multilevel highway, and the streets are lined with billboards promoting the latest tablets and washing machines made by South Korean companies like Samsung and LG. Supermarkets are fully stocked, and it seems as if new restaurants and fast food joints are opening up every day, and never lacking for customers.

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Amr Nabil/Associated Press

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran at a news conference in Cairo on Tuesday.

In short, you would not know that oil exports from Iran have dropped by a million barrels a day, and that the free fall in the currency has caused huge inflation — a result of American- and European-led sanctions as well as economic mismanagement by the Iranian government. The West escalated the economic war another notch on Wednesday, imposing a new set of restrictions intended to force Iran into what amounts t…

Palestinian inmates smuggle sperm out of jail

Fertility doctor claims he has used prisoners' sperm smuggled out of Israeli jails to help their wives have babies.

A Palestinian medical centre has said it had successfully carried out artificial insemination procedures by smuggling out the sperm of four Palestinians jailed by Israel.

"The successful experience of detainee Ammar Ziben encouraged other prisoners who managed to sneak out their sperm," the head of the Razan fertility clinic in Nablus, Dr Saalem Abu al-Kheizaran, told a news conference on Wednesday.

Ziben, who is serving 32 life sentences in an Israeli prison, had smuggled a sperm sample to his wife and in August a boy was born to the couple by Caesarian section.

'Very sceptical'

Asked to comment on the announcement, Israel prison services spokesperson Sivan Weizman said she "is aware of these rumours" but added she was "very sceptical" that it had taken place because of restrictions on prison visits.

"The samples were received i…

Betting on Macau

How big a threat does the over-reliance on the gaming industry pose to Macau's socio-economic stability?

This week on Counting the Cost we look at one of the world's most unique economies.

Macau’s economy expanded 14 percent last year and shows no signs of slowing down. In fact, quite the opposite. If all predictions are correct, the former Portuguese colony will have the fastest growing economy in the world this year with an unemployment rate of two percent.

But all this is dependent on gambling, which makes up 95 percent of Macau's economy.

So, will its reliance on high-rolling gamblers put Macau's economy at risk?

The Venetian Macau has the largest gaming floor found anywhere and it is the world's largest hotel with 3,000 rooms. We speak to Ed Tracy, the CEO of Sands & Venetian Casinos and one of the leading players in the city's booming gambling industry.

"What Las Vegas doesn't have is the market characteristics of China. Without that component you…

Governing Haiti: Time for National Consensus

Haiti is in a race against time to convince its own people, donors and potential investors that progress and stability are achievable. Continued delay in holding free and fair elections may well pose the greatest immediate challenge, but President Michel Martelly, already struggling to govern the broken and divided nation for one and a half years, lacks the stable political base (also denied to his predecessors) to obtain buy-in to his proposed Five-E development strategy: employment, état de droit (rule of law), education, environment and energy. To finally start the long-promised transformation, he should build on the tenuous Christmas Eve 2012 agreement for a credible electoral body to hold much delayed Senate, municipal and local polls quickly. He also should bring key actors into a national dialogue on selecting the Constitutional Council and resolving credibility questions about the appointment of the president of the Supreme Court and the Superior Judicial Council, as well as o…

Totonicapán: Tension in Guatemala’s Indigenous Hinterland


On 4 October 2012, Guatemalan soldiers allegedly opened fire on Maya protestors from the highland province of Totonicapán, killing six and injuring more than 30. It was a tragedy that appeared to show not only the dangers of using the army to maintain public order but also the rising tensions within impoverished indigenous communities. Although President Otto Pérez Molina initially denied military responsibility for the shooting, he did the right thing by allowing prosecutors to conduct a thorough investigation. Now the government must step up efforts to reform and strengthen the national police, establishing clear benchmarks for the military’s withdrawal from law enforcement. To minimise the risk of new confrontations, it must also address the legitimate demands of indigenous communities for access to electricity, education and land, as well as their right to be consulted about decisions that affect their culture and livelihoods.

The militarisatio…