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Showing posts from November, 2014

Marked for deportation, Iraq war resisters fight to stay in Canada

When Rodney Watson was called up by the U.S. army for a second deployment to Iraq in 2006, he made the decision to desert. He now lives in a small room in a church in Vancouver, which immigration officials refrain from entering due to a tradition of sanctuary that dates back to medieval times. Yolande Cole

VANCOUVER, British Columbia — For more than five years, former U.S. soldier Rodney Watson has lived as a prisoner, confined to a church that serves a poor neighborhood here.

Wanted on charges of desertion in the United States and marked for deportation from Canada, he’s invoked the protection of sanctuary. Following a tradition established in medieval times, the Canada Border Services Agency officers have refrained from entering the church. Watson is safe from arrest as long as he stays within its walls.

There are as many as two dozen men and women like Watson living in Canada today. Self-described conscientious objectors or resisters to the 2003 Iraq war, they have applied to Canadian…

Mubarak verdict fuels protests, mockery in Egypt

(Reuters) - Protests erupted at universities across Egypt on Sunday, condemning a court decision to drop criminal charges against Hosni Mubarak, the president whose ouster in the 2011 uprising raised hopes of a new era of political openness.

Hundreds of demonstrators gathered at Cairo University, waving pictures of Mubarak behind bars and demanding the "fall of the regime", the rallying cry of the Arab Spring uprisings that shook governments from Tunisia to the Gulf in 2011.

Police stood ready at the gates to bar students that sought to take their demonstration into the streets.

An Egyptian court on Saturday dropped its case against Mubarak over the killing of protesters in the 2011 uprising that ended his 30-year rule.

The ruling was seen by activists as the latest sign that the rights won during the revolt are being eroded.

Two people were killed and nine were wounded on Saturday evening, when security forces fired tear gas and birdshot to disperse about 1,000 protesters who at…

Qatar runs covert desert training camp for Syrian rebels

(Reuters) - At a desert base, Gulf state Qatar is covertly training moderate Syrian rebels with U.S. help to fight both President Bashar al-Assad and Islamic State and may include more overtly Islamist insurgent groups, sources close to the matter say.

The camp, south of the capital between Saudi Arabia's border and Al Udeid, the largest U.S. air base in the Middle East, is being used to train the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and other moderate rebels, the sources said.

Reuters could not independently identify the participants in the program or witness activity inside the base, which lies in a military zone guarded by Qatari special forces and marked on signposts as a restricted area.

But Syrian rebel sources said training in Qatar has included rebels affiliated to the “Free Syrian Army” from northern Syria.

The sources said the effort had been running for nearly a year, although it was too small to have a significant impact on the battlefield, and some rebels complained of not being taught…

Brazilian Navy Selects Sea Ceptor Missile System for its Tamandare Class Corvettes

The Brazilian Navy has selected MBDA's Sea Ceptor to provide the local area air defence for its next generation Tamandaré class corvettes. After the UK's Royal Navy (RN) and the Royal New Zealand Navy (RNZN), Brazil's is now the third navy to have chosen Sea Ceptor. With discussions also well advanced with other leading navies around the world, Sea Ceptor is rapidly establishing a significant user community.

A production contract was awarded by the UK MoD in September 2013 for Sea Ceptor to provide the next generation Air Defence capability and so replace the Seawolf system on the Royal Navy's Type 23 frigates from 2016 onwards. Sea Ceptor will subsequently be transferred to the Royal Navy's new ships as they start entering service, when the Type 23s are replaced by the future Type 26s. This long term commitment to Sea Ceptor by the Royal Navy is a solid assurance to each new member of the weapon's user community of the longevity of this new system over the year…

ISIS attack on Kobani comes from Turkey – Kurds

Armed men, believed to be Kurdish fighters, run after an explosion during fighting against Islamic State militants at a location west of Kobani November 23, 2014 (Reuters / Osman Orsal)

An attack by Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) jihadists on the Syrian border town of Kobani has come from Turkish territory for the first time, a Kurdish official said.

IS forces advanced from the Turkish territory to attack the border crossing between Kobani and Turkey, according to Nawaf Khalil, a spokesman for Syria's prominent Kurdish Democratic Union Party.

The Islamic State "used to attack the town from three sides. Today, they are attacking from four sides,"Khalil is cited as saying by AP.

The assault began with an armored vehicle suicide attack on the border crossing, the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. Heavy fighting also took place southwest of Kobani, where the IS militants used tanks to reinforce their ground troops.

At least eight Kurdish fighters and 17 jih…

Syria: US-led strikes failed to weaken ISIS

Reutets/Shawn Nickel/U.S. Air Force

The Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) has not been weakened since US-led airstrikes began in September, Syria’s foreign minister said, adding that nothing will change until Turkey increases security at its borders.

"All the indications say that [the Islamic State] today, after two months of coalition air strikes, is not weaker," Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem told the Beirut-based Al Mayadeen TV on Friday.

US-led airstrikes in Syria against the IS began as part of a larger effort to battle the jihadist group after it had seized vast amounts of territory in Iraq and Syria. Despite carrying out airstrikes in Syria, Washington has refused to work with the country’s government, stating that it wants to see Bashar Assad ousted. Turkey shares the latter stance with the US.

Muallem noted that until Ankara is forced to step up security at its borders, the Islamic State cannot actually be defeated.

"If the Security Council and Washin…

'Happy Thanksgiving!' Syrian Electronic Army 'hack mayhem' hits Western media sites

The Syrian Electronic Army has claimed responsibility for hacking into multiple news websites on Thursday, including the New York Times, CBC and the Telegraph. Visitors saw this pop-up message: “you’ve been hacked by SEA.”

Most of the news organizations hit were in the UK and the US. US sites hit included the New York Times, the Chicago Tribune, CNBC, CBC and Forbes.

The SEA said on its Twitter feed that the attacks were designed to coincide with the Thanksgiving holiday in the US.

"Happy thanks giving, hope you didn't miss us! The press: Please don't pretend #ISIS are civilians. #SEA,"said the Tweet.

Happy thanks giving, hope you didn't miss us! The press: Please don't pretend #ISIS are civilians.

— SyrianElectronicArmy (@Official_SEA16) November 27, 2014

In the UK, affected media organizations included the Telegraph, the Independent and the Evening Standard.

A part of our website run by a third-party was compromised earlier today. We…

The siege of Julian Assange is a farce - an investigation by John Pilger

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange (AFP Photo)

The siege of Knightsbridge is a farce. For two years, an exaggerated, costly police presence around the Ecuadorean embassy in London has served no purpose other than to flaunt the power of the state.

Their quarry is an Australian charged with no crime, a refugee from gross injustice whose only security is the room given him by a brave South American country. His true crime is to have initiated a wave of truth-telling in an era of lies, cynicism and war.

The persecution of Julian Assange must end. Even the British government clearly believes it must end. On 28 October, the deputy foreign minister, Hugo Swire, told Parliament he would “actively welcome”the Swedish prosecutor in London and “we would do absolutely everything to facilitate that”. The tone was impatient.

The Swedish prosecutor, Marianne Ny, has refused to come to London to question Assange about allegations of sexual misconduct in Stockholm in 2010 – even though Swedish law allows fo…

Russian commander warns US could control whole Gulf of Mexico

By The Saker

How is that for a ridiculous headline? You like it? Well, it is just a little variation of a BBC headline today:

Nato commander warns Russia could control whole Black Sea

Here is an except from this article:
Russia's top military commander, Gen Valerii Gerasimov, has warned that US "militarisation" of the annexed Florida Peninsula could be used to exert control over the whole Gulf of Mexico.

Well, the real excerpt was just slightly different:

Nato's top military commander, Gen Philip Breedlove, has warned that Russian "militarisation" of the annexed Crimea Peninsula could be used to exert control over the whole Black Sea. So is there a difference? Of course not. Except one: American exceptionalism, of course. Come to think of it, there is another difference: the US and NATO just tried to take control of Crimea via the Maidan color revolution whereas Russia did not try to take control of Florida. That, of course, also begs the following question: …

50 civilians dead in US-led airstrikes against ISIS in Syria – UN

A pair of U.S. Air Force F-15E Strike Eagles fly over northern Iraq after conducting airstrikes in Syria, in this U.S. Air Force handout photo (Reuters/U.S. Air Force)

The US-led coalition against the Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) in Syria has killed 865 people since the start of the airstrikes in late September, at least 50 of them civilians, a new report from the UN chief reveals.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon warned that the strikes alone cannot defeat the militant Islamist group and cited estimates of civilian casualties caused by the bombing.

“The international coalition continued airstrikes against ISIL in Syria on a near-daily basis with reports of some 865 people killed, including 50 civilians, in Aleppo, Deir ez-Zor, Hasakeh, Idlib and Raqqa since strikes began,” the report said.

Meanwhile, the “armed opposition and designated terrorist groups continue shelling government-controlled areas, including in civilian-populated areas... including in Damascus, Homs, Hama and Q…


The orbital maneuvers of a mysterious objectRussia launched earlier this year have raised concerns that the satellite may be a space weapon of some sort.

The speculation centers on "Object 2014-28E," which Russia lofted along with three military communications satellites in May. The object was originally thought to be space junk, but satellite trackers have watched it perform a number of interesting maneuvers over the past few weeks, the Financial Times reported Monday (Nov. 17).

Last weekend, for example, 2014-28E apparently met up with the remnants of a rocket stage that helped the object reach orbit. [The Most Destructive Space Weapons Concepts]

As a result, some space analysts wonder if Object 2014-28E could be part of an anti-satellite program — perhaps a revived version of the Cold War-era "Istrebitel Sputnikov" ("satellite killer") project, which Russian officials have said was retired when the Soviet Union collapsed in the early 1990s.

Military offi…

More mass graves unearthed in search for missing Mexican students

People with missing relatives stand around mass graves discovered in October, in La Joya, on the outskirts of Iguala, Guerrero state, November 21, 2014 (Reuters / Jorge Dan Lopez)

Civilian volunteers and NGOs have found at least four mass graves in a Mexico search operation for the remains of the 43 students who went missing after protests in September.

Information about the number of newly found mass graves varies, with Associated Press reporting 10 sites found on Sunday, in addition to at least 15 other mass graves discovered during the two-month operation.

Seven of the newly found graves contain human bones, while other sites consist of dirty clothing stained with blood.

The new graves were discovered at La Laguna, just west of Iguala, where police officers clashed with protesting students in September, shooting at several buses transporting protesters. The accident claimed the lives of three students and three civilians. The survivors were allegedly handed over to a local Guerreros Un…

Kiev's military 'requests' for US aid leaked by Ukrainian hacker group

Ukrainian soldiers (Reuters / Vasily Fedosenko) Ukraine's anti-government CyberBerkut hacker group published documents allegedly showing Kiev's detailed demands for money from the US military, and Washington agreeing to giving them support.

According to hacktivists, who made the documents public on Tuesday, the Ukrainian military have recently been asking for and being promised financial support from the United States, worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The hackers claimed they obtained the confidential State Department documents by breaking into a mobile device belonging to one of the American delegation's members, who had traveled to Ukraine together with US Vice President Joe Biden. The US politician visited Kiev on November 20-21.

"After examination of just some of the data, there is an impression that the Ukrainian army is a branch of the US Armed Forces," CyberBerkut said, publishing copies of allegedly official documents, some carrying signatures of top…

France postpones Mistral delivery to Russia over Ukraine 'until further notice'

Mistral class LHD amphibious vessel (AFP Photo)

President Francois Hollande has decided to suspend delivery of the first Mistral-class ship to Russia "until further notice," citing the situation in Ukraine as the reason, media reported an Elysee Palace statement.

Le président @fhollande considère que la situation en Ukraine ne permet toujours pas la livraison du premier

— Élysée (@Elysee) November 25, 2014

"The President of the Republic believes that the current situation in the east of Ukraine still does not allow the transfer of the first Russian Mistral-type ships to Russia," a statement from the Elysée Palace said.

In this regard, Francois Hollande felt it necessary to postpone the new order to study the request for permission to supply Russia with the first Mistral vessel, the communique informed.

Russian Deputy Defense Minister Yury Borisov said it will patiently wait for the fulfillment of the contract, RIA Novosti reports.


Hagel's Departure Should Open Debate on Obama's Wars

By Medea Benjamin

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel was supposed to steer the Pentagon away from a decade of war, including bringing US troops home from Afghanistan and paving the way for a reduction in the Pentagon budget. Instead, the Obama administration has opted for remaining in Afghanistan, continuing the disastrous drone wars in Pakistan and Yemen, and dragging our nation into another round of military involvement in Iraq, as well as Syria. The ISIL crises has also been used as a justification for not cutting the Pentagon budget, as required by sequestration.

The issue facing this nation is not who replaces Hagel, but what policy decisions we want to Pentagon to implement.

1) Troops out of Afghanistan: The public has long soured on US military involvement in Afghanistan. President Obama’s recent executive decision to keep the troops there to confront the Taliban is taking us down the wrong path. After 13 years of occupation, it’s time for the Afghan people to control their own nati…

‘Biased US won’t affect construction’: China counters criticism of artificial island project

AFP Photo / Rolex Dela Pena

China has cautioned that US warnings to halt construction of a massive artificial island and airfield will not deter it from completing the project in disputed waters of the South China Sea. This is the fourth such undertaking in the last 12-18 months.

China’s top general has defended the construction of the 3,000-meter island as “justifiable” in a scornful response to swift American criticism that followed evidence of large-scale military construction on the Fiery Cross Reef in the Spratly Islands area.

China currently claims almost all of the South China Sea, with some claims being leveled by Malaysia, Vietnam, Brunei, Taiwan and the Philippines. However, its land reclamation projects have been causing the West and its strategic partners in the area a headache, owing to the already-tense political situation in the region.

Despite this, of all the claimants in the South China Sea, China is the only one currently not occupying an island with an airfield.


Iran nuclear talks extended till end of June

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius (3rd L), EU envoy Catherine Ashton (6th L), U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (3rd R) and Britain's Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond (front L) sit a a table during talks in Vienna November 21, 2014. (Reuters/Heinz-Peter Bader)

Iran’s nuclear talks with the six world powers will carry on till the end of June, according to British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond, confirming earlier reports that negotiations would not reach a conclusion by the deadline of November 24.

An Iranian official confirmed Hammond's comments shortly afterwards.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov stated that “considerable progress” had been made but there was no final agreement. Meanwhile, the Geneva agreement remains in place, he added, and he expressed expectations that the "basic principles" of a final agreement would be made within three or four months.

Hammond also commented that “significant progress” was achieved.

As of yet, the site of next month’s …

100 suspected al-Shabaab members killed

Nairobi - Kenyan security forces have killed more than 100 suspected members of the Islamist terrorist group al-Shabaab who were pursued into Somalia after massacring 28 people on a bus, Deputy President William Ruto said on Sunday.

At least 28 people were killed on Saturday in the bus attack, in which al-Shabaab later claimed responsibility.

Insurgents of the al-Qaeda-linked group hijacked a passenger bus in the village of Arabia in Mandera county and shot dead everyone who failed to read verses of the Koran. The hijackers drove the bus, which was bound for Nairobi, towards the Somali border, where they shot the victims in the head, authorities said.

Somali passengers were separated from non-Somali passengers before the killings, after which the insurgents fled into Somalia on foot.

"Our security responded swiftly," Ruto said in a press conference, the Daily Nation newspaper reported online. "They identified, followed and struck the perpetrators of the heinous crime."

Secrets of the UK Nuclear Bomb Tests Revealed

by CHRIS BUSBY Secret documents released to me as a result of an order by the Judge in the nuclear test veteran pension appeals (the late HH Hugh Stubbs) reveal valuable evidence about uranium in fallout. The documents show that fallout from atmospheric nuclear testing contains enormous amounts of uranium. This should be no surprise as nuclear bombs contain a lot of uranium, and most of it remains unfissioned after a nuclear explosion. But what will come as news to a great many people is the importance in the fallout of an isotope of uranium that few of us have even heard of: uranium-234, a highly radioactive alpha emitter which concentrates in the ‘enriched uranium’ (EU) used in nuclear bombs. All uranium binds to DNA and causes cancer and genetic effects in the children of those exposed – but U-234 is especially hazardous. A restricted document shows that the matter was raised as early as 1953 at a meeting at Harwell by the late Karl Z Morgan, who was in charge of analyzing health …