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Showing posts from October 28, 2013

Iran hangs rebels in border attack reprisal

Iran has executed 16 rebels following overnight clashes in which 14 border guards were killed close to the border with Pakistan, an official has said.

An Iranian prosecutor said that authorities had executed 16 "terrorists" in the country's Sistan-Baluchestan province, in retaliation for the killings.

"These individuals were executed this Saturday morning in response to the terrorist action of last evening at Saravan and the martyrdom of the border guards," he said, quoted by Iranian state television.

He gave no details of any trial proceedings.

Iran's state TV reported earlier on Saturday that at least 14 Iranian border guards were killed in clashes with "armed bandits" without providing any details on the identity of the group behind the killings.

Details on the number of border guards killed were also unclear, with the Reuters news agency reporting 20 killed, and Iranian State TV suggesting the number to be closer to 17.

Al Jazeera's Soraya Lenni…

Stasi Meets Steve Jobs

By Eric Margolis

October 27, 2013 - “Gentlemen do not read other gentlemen’s mail” sniffed US Secretary of State Henry Stimson in 1929 when told that American cryptographers had broken Japan’s naval and diplomatic codes.

Stimson, who later headed the War Department, ordered code-breaking shut down.

Alas, there are not any old-school gentlemen left in Washington these days. Revelations of US electronic spying by whistleblower Edward Snowden have ignited a furor across Latin America and now Europe.

This week’s uproar was intensified by claims that the US National Security Agency (NSA) had tapped into the cell phone of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Europe’s most important and influential leader. Further outrage erupted in France after reports that its leaders and diplomats had been tapped by NSA’s big ears.

To no surprise, President Obama officially denied listening in to Merkel’s calls. A US source sought to lessen the damage by claiming NSA had only tapped her office phone, not her cell…

American Hegemony is Over

By Israel Shamir

October 27, 2013 - First, the good news. American hegemony is over. The bully has been subdued. We cleared the Cape of Good Hope, symbolically speaking, in September 2013. With the Syrian crisis, the world has passed a key forking of modern history. It was touch and go, just as risky as the Cuban missile crisis of 1962. The chances for total war were high, as the steely wills of America and Eurasia had crossed in the Eastern Mediterranean. It will take some time until the realisation of what we’ve gone through seeps in: it is normal for events of such magnitude. The turmoil in the US, from the mad car chase in the DC to the shutdown of federal government and possible debt default, are the direct consequences of this event.

Remember the Berlin Wall? When it went down, I was in Moscow, writing for Haaretz. I went to a press-conference with Politburo members in the President Hotel, and asked them whether they concurred that the end of the USSR and world socialist system w…

Germany's Next Government

Germany's Christian Democratic Union, its Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union, and the Social Democratic Party formally began negotiations Oct. 23 on the formation of the so-called grand coalition, which last ruled Germany between 2005 and 2009. The parties hope to have a new government in place by late December. Coalition talks will not be without their stresses, but a revival of the grand coalition is likely. Once in place, the coalition would have a relatively easy time getting policies through parliament. In the lower house the coalition, which would control 504 of 631 seats, would face the weakest opposition in decades. In the upper house, which represents the German federal states, the coalition would not have a majority. However, control of the upper house, the Bundesrat, is not as vital because the Bundesrat does not vote on all matters put before the parliament -- for instance, it does not vote on matters concerning the European Union. (Measures that went a…

In Bangladesh, More Risks to the Textile Industry

Summary


The international textiles and garment industry is growing wary of Bangladesh as the South Asian nation braces itself for potentially violent political upheaval. The ruling Awami League-led government's term will end Oct. 25, and according to the constitution, new elections must be held within 90 days. Nearly every political transition since 1990 has been politically contentious, but what complicates the current environment are recent strikes among textile laborers, who are upset with what they believe are inadequate working conditions. Bangladesh is no stranger to political instability, but sustained disruptions to the textile supply trade may discourage foreign investors from pouring money into the world's second-largest textile exporter.

Analysis


Bangladesh's ruling Awami League plans to oversee the country's political transition and organize fresh elections, a task that has been the responsibility of an interim, military-backed government since 1990. For the…

Japan's Latest Military Exercise Sends a Message to China

Summary


At a time when the Chinese are greatly accelerating the pace of their training exercises in the Pacific, the Japanese are also strengthening their defensive capabilities in remote islands to the southwest to counter the Chinese moves. On Oct. 24, the Japanese government announced a major exercise intended to increase its ability to protect its remote southwestern islands. The exercises on both sides are a reminder that, besides historical grievances, the countries are engaged in a geopolitical competition in the Western Pacific region.

Analysis


Some 34,000 troops from air, land and naval units are scheduled to take part in Japan's live-fire exercise, which will be held Nov. 1-18. It appears the exercises will include amphibious landings on the remote island of Okidaito-jima, 400 kilometers (250 miles) southeast of the main Okinawa Island. Similar amphibious landings scheduled during another large-scale exercise last year were reportedly canceled at the last moment in respon…