Tag Archives: World News

John Kerry: U.S., Russia Reach Deal On Syrian Chemical Weapons

The Huffington Post

After days of intense negotiations, the United States and Russia reached agreement Saturday on a framework to secure and destroy Syria’s chemical weapons by the mid-2014 and impose U.N. penalties if the Assad government fails to comply.

The deal, announced by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Geneva, includes what Kerry called “a shared assessment” of the weapons stockpile, and a timetable and measures for Syrian President Bashar Assad to comply.

It was not immediately clear whether Syria had signed onto the agreement, which requires Damascus to submit a full inventory of its stocks within the next week.

“The world will now expect the Assad regime to live up to its public commitments,” Kerry told a packed news conference at the hotel where negotiations were conducted since Thursday night. “There can be no games, no room for avoidance or anything less than full compliance by the Assad regime.”

Lavrov added, cautiously, “We understand that the decisions we have reached today are only the beginning of the road.”

The negotiations are considered critical to breaking the international stalemate blocking a resumption of peace talks to end the Syrian civil war, now in its third year.

Under the framework agreement, international inspectors are to be on the ground in Syria by November. During that month, they are to complete their initial assessment and all mixing and filling equipment for chemical weapons is to be destroyed.

The deal calls for all components of the chemical weapons program to be removed from the country or destroyed by mid-2014.

“Ensuring that a dictator’s wanton use of chemical weapons never again comes to pass, we believe is worth pursuing and achieving,” Kerry said.

Noncompliance by the Assad government or any other party would be referred to the 15-nation U.N. Security Council by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. That group oversees the Chemical Weapons Convention, which Syria this week agreed to join.

The U.S. and Russia will press for a Security Council resolution enshrining the chemical weapons agreement under Chapter 7 of the U.N. Charter, which can authorize both the use of force and nonmilitary measures.

But Russia, which already has rejected three resolutions on Syria, would be sure to veto military action, and U.S. officials said they did not contemplate seeking such an authorization.

The U.S. and Russia are two of the five permanent Security Council members with a veto. The others are Britain, China, and France.

Still, U.S. officials stressed that President Barack Obama retains the right to launch military strikes without U.N. approval to protect American national security interests.

Lavrov indicated there would be limits to using such a resolution.

Continue reading here…

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FBI to investigate News Corporation over 9/11 hacking allegations

Guardian.co.uk

Bureau to investigate claims News of the World journalists sought to hack into phones of victims of 9/11, reports say      

The FBI has opened an investigation into allegations that News of the World journalists tried to hack into the phones of victims of the 9/11 attacks in New York.

The launch of the FBI inquiry amounts to the first official inquiry within the US into News Corporation activities. The move brings the scandal within Rupert Murdoch‘s British newspaper division closer to his American home and to News Corporation’s headquarters in Manhattan.

The announcement of an FBI inquiry followed a mounting chorus from politicians and relatives of 9/11 victims calling for a review of the allegations. Peter King, the Republican chairman of the homeland security committee in the House of Representatives, on Wednesday wrote to the director of the FBI, Robert Mueller, and asked him to open an investigation into the 9/11 allegations.

In his letter, King said he represented a district of New York that lost more than 150 constituents in the terror attacks. “If these allegations are proven true, the conduct would merit felony charges, and any person found guilty should receive the harshest sanctions available under law.”

The claim that Murdoch journalists attempted to get hold of victims’ phone details was made by the Mirror newspaper, which based the story on an unnamed former New York police officer working as a private detective, who was said to have been approached by News of the World reporters asking him to retrieve the private phone records of the dead.

The detective was reported to have declined to take up the commission.

It is unclear at this early stage in the investigation whether there is any substance to the Mirror’s allegations. But relatives of 9/11 victims expressed delight and relief that the FBI had stepped in to clear up the issue.

Continue reading here…

    

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Filed under News Corp, Rupert Murdock

Egypt Gaza Border Reopened Permanently

 

Undoubtedly, another effect of the Arab Spring

Huffington Post

Egypt lifted a four-year-old blockade on the Gaza Strip’s main link to the outside world Saturday, bringing relief to the crowded territory’s 1.5 million Palestinians but deepening a rift with Israel since the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak earlier this year.

The Egyptian move will allow thousands of Gazans to move freely in and out of the area – heightening Israeli fears that militants and weapons could easily reach its doorstep.

Israel and Egypt imposed the blockade after the Islamic militant Hamas seized control of Gaza in June 2007. The closure, which also included tight Israeli restrictions at its cargo crossings with Gaza and a naval blockade, was meant to weaken Hamas, but it also fueled an economic crisis in the densely populated territory.

Hundreds of Gazans gathered early Saturday as the first bus load of passengers crossed the border at 9 a.m. Two Egyptian officers stood guard next to a large Egyptian flag atop the border gate as the vehicle rumbled through.

Rami Arafat, 52, was among the earliest arrivals. He said he hoped to catch a flight out of Cairo on Sunday to Algeria for his daughter’s wedding.

“All we need is to travel like humans, be treated with dignity, and feel like any other citizens of the world who can travel in and out freely,” Arafat said. He said he believed the relaxing of travel restrictions “will guarantee more support from all Arabs and Palestinians for the new Egyptian regime.”

Continue reading here…

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Did You Know…?

All topics come from The Huffington Post:

Facebook Credits Program Pays You To Watch Video Ads

Facebook introduced a new program on Thursday that attempts to incentivize users to watch ads… by paying them in Facebook Credits, the company’s virtual currency. Just last month, Facebook finally announced Credits could be cashed in on its Groupon competitor, Facebook Deals.     More…

 

Facebook Deals Tips: 11 Things You Need To Know

The daily and social deals space is getting hotter everyday — Google launched Offers just last week — and Facebook showed up early this morning with a serious offering that could shift the tech world’s intense focus away from industry darling Groupon.

Facebook Deals is noticeably different from competitors like Gilt, Groupon and LivingSocial, so click on to see what sets it apart, how to find deals, adjust your notifications, and why the News Feed is so important.   See slide show of FaceBook Deals here…

 

Google Business Photos Brings Street View Inside

TechCrunch reports that Marissa Mayer, Google VP of Location and Local Services, told a crowd at the Social Loco social networking conference that Google Business Photos will soon be bringing Street View indoors. With the new service, users will be able to explore restaurants, stores and other businesses in a panorama interface that’s very similar to Google’s Street View. While sites like Yelp let businesses and users upload photos, Google Business Photos is relying on its own photographers to populate the pages, and Google requires businesses to opt in before letting photographers visit businesses. Think of the photographers like flesh and blood Googlemobiles.     More here…

 

Marijuana Crop Found Near Osama Bin Laden’s Pakistan Compound

Details are continuing to emerge regarding Osama bin Laden’s top-secret Abbottabad compound, but the discovery of some high-strength marijuana plants just yards from the home has set the blogosphere aflame with speculation.

Said to be worth $1 million (though that estimate is now hotly debated), the home of the world’s most feared terrorist has attracted crowds of Pakistanis and media to its now sealed-off gates. But a stroll around the 20-foot-tall, barbed wire-ringed walls led CNN’s Nic Robertson to the cannibis crop, barely hidden alongside a garden of cabbages and potatoes.   More here…

 

Oil Prices Plunge In Record Sell-Off

Oil prices took a nosedive Thursday in a historic selloff, erasing weeks of gains and indicating that the months-long climb in energy prices may have hit a ceiling.

Crude oil plunged 10 percent as startled investors unloaded their positions and a weeklong decline accelerated into an outright freefall. The price of U.S. crude went from triple digits to double digits, falling below $100 after opening at close to $110. Brent crude, a European benchmark, lost $12 at one point in a sell-off that exceeded the one following Lehman Brothers’ collapse, Reuters reported.        More…

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Filed under Facebook, Gasoline Prices, Marijuana, Pakistan

‘Behind The Scenes’ White House Press Briefing On The Osama Bin Laden Operation (Highlights)

I watched this briefing on television yesterday and was amazed at the information that was forthcoming about the Osama bin Laden raid and his subsequent demise.  Below are highlights of the briefing.  

The full 49 minute briefing can be found here…

H/t: Democratic Underground

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Filed under Osama Bin-Laden, President Barack Obama, State Dept. Briefing

President Obama Announces: Osama Bin Laden Is Dead

The crowds outside of the White House, shouting “USA!” has grown from about 45 at about 11:00 pm to “thousands”, according to Wolf Blitzer of CNN.

By the way, May 1, 2003, George W. Bush stood on the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln and declared (with a sign)  “Mission Accomplished”. 

Bush stated at the time that this was the end to major combat operations in Iraq. While this statement did coincide with an end to the conventional phase of the war, Bush’s assertion — and the sign itself — became controversial after guerrilla warfare in Iraq increased during the Iraqi insurgency. The vast majority of casualties, both military and civilian, have occurred since the speech.[1] (Wiki)

Huffington Post

Osama Bin Laden is dead, President Obama announced Sunday night, in a televised address to the nation. His death was the result of a U.S. operation launched today in Abbottabad, Pakistan, against a compound where bin Laden was believed to be hiding, according to U.S. intelligence. After a firefight, a small team of American forces killed bin Laden and took possession of his body, the president said.

The announcement that Obama would speak came at 9:45 p.m., less than an hour before he was initially scheduled to go on the air. The unusual hour, and the fact that the White House gave no details about the topic, set off a flurry of speculation.

Officials long believed bin Laden, the most wanted man in the world, was hiding in a mountainous region along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.

DEVELOPING…

President Obama’s Announcement…

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Gaddafi Attack Fibs

The Daily Beast - by Fadel Lamen

The strike that killed the dictator’s youngest son came nowhere close to killing Gaddafi, says Fadel Lamen’s Libyan sources , who also cast doubt on whether grandchildren were killed.

Forgive me for being cynical, but I’ve seen this act before. Yes, the NATO strike on the Gaddafi family – both the death of Saif al-Arab Gaddafi (not to be confused with Saif al-Islam, as the Libyan spokesman himself initially was) and the reported near-hit on the dictator himself – is important for the message sent and the chaos sewed.

But the details on the Gaddafi hit don’t add up, and they make me – and a half dozen sources I talked with last night, including several in Libya – skeptical about how close we came to hitting the dictator. Or that three grandchildren were actually killed, as Gaddafi’s embattled government claims.

Musa Ibrahim al-Gaddafi, belligerent leader’s spokesman – and cousin – went straight into propaganda mode after the strike. “Mr Saif al-Arab was a civilian, a student… He was playing and talking to his father and mother and his nieces and nephews and other visitors when he was attacked and killed.”

Like most of what the spokesmen there say, the regime has so far failed to provide any proof of its claim, except to guide the western journalists in a tour of a facility bombed by NATO. The lack of clear evidence of any death, except spots of blood, just increases cynicism.

My Tripoli sources confirm an attack on one of regime’s building frequented by another of his sons, Hanibal Gaddafi — but not Gaddafi himself, his wife or the other sons. In fact, one of my sources knowledgeable about with the family habits, maintained that the family almost gets together, especially given the current circumstances, which makes the idea of a NATO strike that somehow hit of a nest of Gaddafis (sparing the leader, of course) seem a bit far-fetched.

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Filed under Libya, Libya Unrest, NATO

Jailbreak In Kandahar, Afghan Official Reports

This can’t be good for the Obama Administration.  The ineptitude on behalf of military officials in Afghanistan is mind-boggling.   And we’re there 10 years later, because…?

Huffington Post

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan — More than 400 inmates – many of them Taliban insurgents – escaped from the main prison in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar overnight through an underground tunnel, an official said Monday.

The massive jailbreak in Kandahar, the focus of much of the international military effort to defeat the insurgency, is a reminder that the Afghan government is still weak and easily thwarted in the south, despite an influx of international troops, funding and advisers.

The escape comes after years of security upgrades and tightened procedures at the 1,200-inmate Sarposa Prison following a brazen 2008 Taliban attack that freed 900 prisoners.

On Sunday night, about 476 prisoners streamed out of a tunnel dug between the prison and the outside and disappeared into Kandahar city, prison supervisor Ghulam Dastagir Mayar said. He said many of the missing were Taliban militants.

Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said the insurgents on the outside dug the 1,050-foot (320-meter ) tunnel to the prison over five months, bypassing government checkpoints. The tunnel finally reached the prison cells Sunday night, and the inmates were led through it to freedom by three prisoners who had been informed of the plan, Mujahid said.

About 100 of those who escaped were Taliban commanders, and most of the others were fighters with the insurgency, he said.

In the 2008 attack, dozens of militants on motorbikes and two suicide bombers assaulted the prison. One suicide bomber set off an explosives-laden tanker truck at the prison gate while a second bomber blew up an escape route through a back wall. About 900 inmates esca

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan — More than 400 inmates – many of them Taliban insurgents – escaped from the main prison in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar overnight through an underground tunnel, an official said Monday.

The massive jailbreak in Kandahar, the focus of much of the international military effort to defeat the insurgency, is a reminder that the Afghan government is still weak and easily thwarted in the south, despite an influx of international troops, funding and advisers.

The escape comes after years of security upgrades and tightened procedures at the 1,200-inmate Sarposa Prison following a brazen 2008 Taliban attack that freed 900 prisoners.

On Sunday night, about 476 prisoners streamed out of a tunnel dug between the prison and the outside and disappeared into Kandahar city, prison supervisor Ghulam Dastagir Mayar said. He said many of the missing were Taliban militants.

Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said the insurgents on the outside dug the 1,050-foot (320-meter ) tunnel to the prison over five months, bypassing government checkpoints. The tunnel finally reached the prison cells Sunday night, and the inmates were led through it to freedom by three prisoners who had been informed of the plan, Mujahid said.

About 100 of those who escaped were Taliban commanders, and most of the others were fighters with the insurgency, he said.

In the 2008 attack, dozens of militants on motorbikes and two suicide bombers assaulted the prison. One suicide bomber set off an explosives-laden tanker truck at the prison gate while a second bomber blew up an escape route through a back wall. About 900 inmates esca

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan — More than 400 inmates – many of them Taliban insurgents – escaped from the main prison in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar overnight through an underground tunnel, an official said Monday.

The massive jailbreak in Kandahar, the focus of much of the international military effort to defeat the insurgency, is a reminder that the Afghan government is still weak and easily thwarted in the south, despite an influx of international troops, funding and advisers.

The escape comes after years of security upgrades and tightened procedures at the 1,200-inmate Sarposa Prison following a brazen 2008 Taliban attack that freed 900 prisoners.

On Sunday night, about 476 prisoners streamed out of a tunnel dug between the prison and the outside and disappeared into Kandahar city, prison supervisor Ghulam Dastagir Mayar said. He said many of the missing were Taliban militants.

Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said the insurgents on the outside dug the 1,050-foot (320-meter ) tunnel to the prison over five months, bypassing government checkpoints. The tunnel finally reached the prison cells Sunday night, and the inmates were led through it to freedom by three prisoners who had been informed of the plan, Mujahid said.

About 100 of those who escaped were Taliban commanders, and most of the others were fighters with the insurgency, he said.

In the 2008 attack, dozens of militants on motorbikes and two suicide bombers assaulted the prison. One suicide bomber set off an explosives-laden tanker truck at the prison gate while a second bomber blew up an escape route through a back wall.  About 900 inmates escaped, including  400 Taliban fighters.

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U.S. Changes Mind About Yemen

Well what took the President and the State Department so damned long?

Gawker

The U.S. will no longer support jerkoff Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh, The New York Times reports, and is actively negotiating for his departure. Which is good, we guess, insofar as Saleh was a brutal, repressive autocrat whose people have been calling for his resignation (or more) for weeks; on the other hand, the deal seems to be that his vice-president will take power until elections are held, an outcome that’s unlikely to pacify Yemen’s angry protestors.

Oh, and, terrorism: One reason the U.S. hasn’t called for Saleh’s resignation is that Yemen is “because he was considered a critical ally in fighting the Yemeni branch of Al Qaeda.” (Fret not, however, for the State Department’s stated position is that fighting al Qaeda in Yemen “goes beyond any one individual.”) Student protestors, meanwhile, are “really very, very angry” with the U.S. for dragging its feet. [NYT; image via AP]

Yemen Police Beat Female Protesters With Sticks: Activists

Huffington Post

Thousands of women calling for the ouster of Yemen’s longtime ruler were attacked on Sunday by police with sticks and rocks, setting off a furious battle with male protesters that left several people hurt, activists said.

The women were marching down a main street in the southern town of Taiz shouting “peaceful! peaceful!” when they were attacked, activist Ghazi al-Samei said.

Three of the young men suffered serious gunshot wounds when police opened fire, protester Bushra al-Maqtari told The Associated Press by telephone. She said over 200 more suffered breathing problems caused by inhaling tear gas.

Army tanks and armored cars stopped other demonstrators from entering Taiz, the site of some of the largest and angriest protests against President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s rule.

Protesters have been camping out in main squares throughout Yemen for weeks, demanding Saleh immediately leave power after 30 years. The president has offered to resign by the year’s end and says leaving without a negotiated transition, would lead to chaos. On Saturday, opposition groups demanded he hand power to his vice president and set up committees to thrash out constitutional reform and elections.

Continue reading…

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Filed under Midddle East Demonstrations, Middle East, Middle East Unrest, Yemen

President Obama Tries — Without Success — To Explain His Way Around An Undeclared War

John Nichols – The Nation

President Obama finally got around to speaking to the American people about the fact that he has led the country into a third war.

The speech was, to no one’s surprise, ably delivered. The president spoke with emotional and rhetorical power of how he felt there had been a need to intervene in order to prevent “a massacre that would have reverberated across the region and stained the conscience of the world.” He explained how there are times “when our safety is not directly threatened, but our interests and values are.” He decried the temptation “to turn away from the world” and promised that “wherever people long to be free, they will find a friend in the United States.”
 
Those are noble sentiments, well expressed.
 
Unfortunately, he also spoke about how he had initiated the way on his own: “I ordered warships into the Mediterranean.” I refused to let that happen.” “I authorized military action…” “At my direction…”
 
The problem is that presidents are not supposed to start wars, especially wars of whim that are offensive rather than defensive in nature. That was the complaint against George W. Bush when he failed to obtain a declaration of war before ordering the invasion of Iraq, that is the ongoing complaint against Obama for maintaining the undeclared wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. And that is the legitimate and necessary complaint against Obama now, a complaint that should come not just opponents of the military intervention but supporters who want that intervention to be lawful and legitimate.
 
The president did not address the fact that the Libyan adventure is an undeclared war. In fact, he barely mentioned the Congress that is supposed to declare wars, saying only: “And so nine days ago, after consulting the bipartisan leadership of Congress, I authorized military action to stop the killing and enforce U.N. Security Council Resolution 1973.”
 
But the Constitution does not discuss “consulting the bipartisan leadership…” It says that: “Congress shall have the power… to declare war, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water.”
 
That was the point that Congressman Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, made with regard to the speech.

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Filed under Libya, Libya Unrest, Obama's Libya Speech, President Barack Obama