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UK to announce new Trident nukes contract

Press TV – October 29, 2012

British Defense Secretary Philip Hammond is to announce a multi-million pound contract for a new generation of nuclear missile submarines indicating Britain’s resolve to push ahead with its disputed Trident nuclear system replacement program.

The Ministry of Defense (MoD) said the £350 million contract makes “clear the government’s firm commitment to maintaining continuous at-sea deterrence for future decades.”

The announcement comes as the British government’s study into a like-for-like Trident replacement is not even complete.

Those opposing the nukes replacement, including junior coalition partners in the Liberal Democrat camp, argue that a like-for-like replacement will be hugely expensive.

The Cabinet Office study, which apparently seeks to find a cheaper and scaled-down replacement for Trident, is now running under the supervision of the Lib Dem Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander and is expected to report results early next year.

The planned new fleet of Trident submarines is officially estimated to cost up to £25 billion but anti-nukes campaign group Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) has put the real cost of a full replacement at more than £100 billion.

The £350 million contract is part of the £3 billion awarded last year to BAE Systems to pursue work on a new Trident fleet.

The Conservative Defense Secretary has already said that the government is committed to keeping “our continuous submarine-based deterrence.”

Lib Dems have formerly attacked the talks of a nuclear “deterrence” based on Trident or a like-for-like system saying Trident was designed to counter the threats of the Soviet Union, which has long perished.

October 29, 2012 Posted by | Militarism | , , , | 1 Comment

Analysis: World Bank policies persistently fail Palestinians

By Alaa Tartir and Jeremy Wildeman – Ma’an – 28/10/2012

The Middle East featured prominently on the agenda of the recent annual meeting of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund in Tokyo. But how relevant are these agencies’ policy prescriptions in the context of conflict? In the case of the occupied Palestinian territories they are not only inappropriate but also harmful.

And yet both institutions have relentlessly dished up these prescriptions for the past two decades. To understand why they are so harmful, it is useful to deconstruct the policy recommendations in the World Bank’s latest growth report for the Palestinian territories.

The Bank’s growth report provides a breakdown of the current state of the Palestinian economy, which it describes as fragile and dependent on foreign aid. The report’s frank conclusions are largely unsurprising: aid-based growth is unsustainable, especially because aid levels are expected to decline over time.

The surprising part of the report lies not in the Bank’s negative prognosis of the Palestinian economy, but rather in its recommendations. It calls for the Palestinians to emulate the Asian tigers by “adopting an outward orientation and integrating into world supply chains.”

Just how a people that exercises no control over its own land, borders and natural resources can carry out such export-based growth is not explained. The report further recommends that the Palestinian Authority “should strive to build a business environment that is among the best in the world and not merely on par with its neighbors.”

This is utterly impossible under prolonged occupation, where Palestinian civil and property rights are ignored by an Israeli state that is simultaneously engaged in the mass-expropriation of Palestinian land. The business climate is so bad that one report suggested certain Palestinian businesspersons even prefer to invest in Israel.

The report also repeats a dangerous belief long propagated by the World Bank: that the Palestinian economy can benefit from deeper integration with the Israeli economy.

Actual experience indicates otherwise. The Palestinian economy has been de-developed since 1967, as US scholar Sara Roy’s work has shown, and Palestinian industry has been deliberately sabotaged in favor of Israeli industry, as economist Shir Hever documents.

Classic World Bank economic assumptions that recommend “free trade agreements between a future Palestinian state, Israel and neighboring countries” have never been embraced by Israel.

Palestinians cannot exploit “competitive advantages” because Israel deliberately prevents them. Instead, integration has been one-sided, allowing Israel to exploit a captive Palestinian market cut off from the outside world.

It is vital to understand the extent to which much of the World Bank’s policy advice is destined for failure because it exercises enormous influence on foreign aid to Palestinians, and its recommendations form the basis on which international donors design their aid programs.

In fact, it designed the aid regime adopted by the international community during the Oslo Peace Process of the early 1990s. Since that time, the Bank has prescribed policy recommendations for donors that do not take into account the human reality of Palestinians struggling to survive for decades under a violent military occupation and in colonial conditions.

Nor have the international community and those many prominent international bodies engaged in the ‘peace process,’ such as the World Bank, held Israel to account for its actions.

Indeed, the Bank sanitizes the language it uses when criticizing the occupation, employing euphemisms that downplay the effects of occupation while focusing on the Palestinians when giving reasons why Bank recommendations have failed.

As they met with the world’s delegations in Tokyo, did the World Bank and IMF question their policies and the need to actually reflect the facts on the ground?

Until and unless they do, they will waste valuable time and resources and distract Palestinians from what should be their primary goal: Ending the military occupation as a first step toward sovereignty, freedom, and self-determination.

Until Palestinian rights are secured, it is meaningless to develop aid programs that do not take into account the full impact of the occupation and the expropriation of Palestinian land.

The Bank’s growth report is useful only in revealing that the Palestinian economy is in a critical state of disrepair. Its inability to provide policy recommendations that properly account for the effects of occupation renders its advice irrelevant.

It is time to look for alternative models of aid, ones that do not simply seek new ways for the Palestinians to cope with life under occupation, but rather challenge the status quo while enabling Palestinians to survive, by, for example, promoting investment in smallholder agriculture.

This alone can lead to real economic growth and sustainable development.

Alaa Tartir is Program Director of Al-Shabaka: The Palestinian Policy Network, and author of The role of international aid in development: the case of Palestine 1994-2008 (Lambert 2011). Jeremy Wildeman, an Al-Shabaka Guest Author, co-founded the Nablus-based charity Project Hope. The full policy brief on World Bank policies by al-Shabaka is available here.

October 29, 2012 Posted by | Economics, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Iraq inspects second Syrian-bound Iran flight, finds no illegal items

Press TV – October 28, 2012

Iraqi authorities have for a second time this month inspected an Iranian cargo plane heading to Syria, but allowed it to continue as no prohibited items were found on board.

The search of the Iranair cargo flight was conducted at Baghdad International Airport on Saturday.

“The plane was allowed to proceed to Syria after verifying that there are no weapons or any banned items on board,” Iraq’s Chairman of the Civil Aviation Authority Nasser al-Bandar said.

“Our experts found that the plane was carrying only medical supplies and foodstuff, “he added.

On October 2, Iraq stopped and inspected a Damascus-bound Iranair cargo plane from Tehran upon the illegal request of the US officials, who claimed that Tehran uses Iraq’s airspace to send weapons to the Syrian government. No weapons were found in that search, either.

Syria has been experiencing unrest since March 2011 and many people, including a large number of security personnel, have been killed in the violence.

Damascus says ‘outlaws, saboteurs, and armed terrorists’ are behind the unrest, but the opposition accuses the security forces of being behind the killings.

The Syrian government says that the chaos is being orchestrated from outside the country, and there are reports that a very large number of the insurgents are foreign nationals.

The United States has recently announced that it would allocate an additional $45 million to foreign-backed armed groups fighting against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government.

October 28, 2012 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , | Leave a comment

US vows to make Mali next stop in ‘war on terror’

Press TV – October 28, 2012

Alleging “al-Qaeda” presence in Mali, the United States has vowed to make the West African country, the next stop in its so-called war on terror.

US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta vowed, at the Pentagon, to eliminate the threat from “al-Qaeda” in northern Mali, Reuters reported on Saturday. He said that he would ensure that al-Qaeda has “no place to hide.”

“Our approach is to make sure that al-Qaeda and elements of al-Qaeda have no place to hide. And we’ve gone after al-Qaeda wherever they are – whether it’s in [the northwestern Pakistan] FATA [Federally Administered Tribal Areas]; whether it’s in Yemen; whether it’s in Somalia; and whether they’re in North Africa,” he noted.

The comments came amid reports that the CIA is currently flying some surveillance drones over northern Mali, and that France is also reportedly sending surveillance aircraft to the African country.

A study, conducted by Stanford and New York Universities, has showed that only one in 50 people killed by US assassination drones in Pakistan — one of the several countries where the US has carried out drone strikes — are militants.

October 28, 2012 Posted by | Militarism, Progressive Hypocrite, War Crimes | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Syrian rebels seize Lebanese journalist over ‘incompatible’ reporting

RT | October 28, 2012

Fidaa Itani (Image from facebook.com/fidaa.itani)

In their fervent struggle, a Syrian rebel group has “arrested” a Lebanese journalist in Aleppo saying his “presence as a journalist no longer receives approval in areas controlled by the rebels.”

­Fidaa Itani, who works for the Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation (LBCI) and several other news outlets, was travelling though Aleppo under protection of a rebel group when he was arrested and handed over to another rebel group which controls a small town some 30km away from the besieged port-city.

The rebels said on their Facebook page they found Itani’s work “incompatible with the path of the Syrian revolution and rebels.”

They promised to free the reporter  who is now in rebel custody “shortly” – after the necessary documents and information are acquired.

Itani was seized after he raised suspicions, taking pictures and videos of “large amounts of operations” in Syria’s second largest city. The content of his reports also seems to have fallen afoul of how the rebels want the popular uprising against Bashar Al-Assad’s government to be covered.

“Reports and videos have not proven yet Itani’s involvement with any party that works against the revolution, but his presence as a journalist no longer receives approval in areas controlled by the rebels,” the group said in a statement.

LBCI, as well as Lebanese MPs, are in contact with the group and their leader, Abu Ibrahim. They expect Itani to be set free in a couple of days.

Abu Ibrahim and the Azaz rebel group have abducted Lebanese nationals before. Eleven Lebanese pilgrims, who were returning from Iran through Syria, were kidnapped by the group in May. Only two of them have been released so far.

The rebels have used the term “detained” to describe the abduction of the journalist, but they in fact have committed “a criminal action” and “kidnapped” him, Manuel Ochsenreiter, editor-in-chief of the German monthly news magazine Zuerst, told RT.

“Indeed this is an alarming development but this is not new,” he said. “He is not the first journalist to have been kidnapped in Syria. We see a huge number of journalists that were killed by the rebels in Syria, who were killed by the Al-Qaeda related groups. I just want to remember the journalists of the Syrian TV channel, Syrian News TV where some journalist were killed and where the building was attacked at the end of June this year.”

At the same time the Syrian government does not prevent journalists making reports that disagree with the official line, says Ochsenreiter, who himself had visited Damascus during the conflict.

“I was in Damascus and what I can say is that I met a lot of journalists who were not filing reports consistent with the official line of the Syrian government’s cause and they were not detained, they were not kidnapped, they were free to work in the country,” he said. “So, you see that there is a huge difference how journalists work in Syria and there is a monster huge difference in the risk.”

Itani was kidnapped just hours after the release of a video in which Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawari had called for Muslims to kidnap Westerners as a bargaining chip, to win the release of its members held captive around the world. In a new video posted online he also urged Islamists to support Syrian rebels with “all that they can.”

This is not the first time that a foreign reporter has gone missing in the Arab country since it plunged into civil unrest in March 2011. In one of the most recent incidents, Ukrainian reporter Anhar Kochneva disappeared several weeks ago and has not yet been freed. In total, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists, three international reporters remain unaccounted for in Syria, while over 20 have been killed adding to more than 20,000 casualties suffered by Syria.

October 28, 2012 Posted by | Full Spectrum Dominance, War Crimes | , , , | Leave a comment

Sri Lanka’s only refinery closes due to US sanctions against Iran

Press TV – October 28, 2012

Sri Lanka has closed down its only refinery, Sapugaskanda, as the sanctions imposed against Iran’s energy sector by the US have taken a toll on the South Asian country’s crude imports.

“Since August due to strict adherence to US sanctions, our letters of credit for imports have stopped being accepted,” Sri Lanka’s Petroleum Minister Susil Premjayantha said on Wednesday.

The Sapugaskanda refinery, which has a capacity of 50,000 barrels a day and is geared only to process Iranian crude, shut down its operations earlier this week due to not receiving oil supplies from Iran.

Premajayantha said this week that Sri Lanka’s cumulative loss from the US sanctions against importing Iranian crude was a staggering $1.2 billion.

At the beginning of 2012, the US and the EU approved new sanctions against Iran’s oil and financial sectors. The embargoes aim to prevent other countries from purchasing Iranian oil or transacting with the Central Bank of Iran.

The US and the EU have declared that the bans are meant to force Iran to abandon its nuclear energy program, which they claim includes a military component.

Iran has vehemently refuted the allegation, arguing that as a committed signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and a member of the International Atomic Energy Agency, it is entitled to use nuclear technology for peaceful objectives.

October 28, 2012 Posted by | Economics, Wars for Israel | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Israeli airstrike kills Gaza man

Al Akhbar | October 28, 2012

One Palestinian was killed and another critically wounded Sunday morning in an Israeli strike on southern Gaza.

The two men, who were reportedly members of Hamas’ Izzedin al-Qassam Brigades, were on a motorbike near the southern town of Khan Younis when they were hit.

Israel confirmed the airstrike, claiming the attack was in response to Palestinian fire on Israeli tanks that had crossed into Khan Younis earlier that morning.

Palestinian fighters launched at least four rockets into southern Israel later on Sunday in retaliation for the killing.

Israeli forces frequently cross into Gaza, prompting retaliatory fire from Palestinians.

The latest fighting took place following a three-day lull in violence after an Egyptian brokered truce went into force at midnight on Wednesday.

The agreement was aimed at ending a 72-hour spike in cross-border fighting, which began on Monday, with Israeli strikes killing eight Palestinians.

The fighters responded by firing more than 100 rockets across the border, seriously wounding two Thai workers.

(Al-Akhbar, AFP)

October 28, 2012 Posted by | Militarism, War Crimes | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Young Druze man refuses to serve in the Israeli Army

By George Rishmawi | IMEMC | October 27, 2012

A young druze man sent out a letter to the Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu and defense minister Ehud Barak, explaining why he refuses to be part of the Israeli army. Young secular Druze men are required to conscript into the Israeli military the same as their Jewish peer group, however some of them refuse to do so.

Below is an English translation of the letter.

omarsaad.jpg

To the Israeli Prime Minister,
To the “Defense Minister”,
Subject: refusal to appear for compulsory military recruitment.

I’m the undersigned, Omar Zahr Eldin Mohammad Saad from the village of Mughar – Galilee, have received a notice to appear in the military recruitment offices on 31.10.2012 to conduct tests according to the conscription law imposed on the Druze community. I would like to make the following points:

I refuse to appear for tests, because I oppose the law of conscription imposed on my Druze community. I refuse because I am a man of peace and I hate all forms of violence, and the military institution represents for me the peak of physical and psychological violence. Since I received the notice to appear for tests, my life has changed, I became more nervous, my thoughts were distracted, I remembered thousands of cruel images, and I couldn’t imagine myself wearing military uniform and participating in the suppression of my Palestinian people or fighting my Arab brothers. I oppose the recruitment to the Israeli military and any other military for conscience and nationalistic reasons. I hate the injustice and oppose the occupation; I hate intolerance and restriction of freedoms. I hate those who detain children, the elderly and women.

I am a musician, I play the Viola , I have played in many places, I have musician friends from Ramallah, Jericho, Jerusalem, Hebron, Nablus, Jenin, Shfa’amr, Eilabun, Rome, Athens, Amman, Beirut, Damascus, Oslo, and we all play for freedom, humanity and peace, our weapon is the music and we shall not have any other weapon.

I am from a community that was unjustly treated by an unjust law, how can we fight our relatives in Palestine, Syria, Jordan and Lebanon? How can I hold arms against my brothers and people in Palestine? How can I be a soldier standing at Qalandia checkpoint or any other checkpoint, after I experienced the injustices at these checkpoints? How can I prevent someone from Ramallah to visit his city, Jerusalem? How can I guard the apartheid wall? How can I be a jailer to my own people while I know that the majority of prisoners are freedom prisoners and seekers of rights and freedom?

I play for joy, for freedom, for a just peace based on halting settlements, the end of the occupation in Palestine, the establishment of an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem its capital, the release of all prisoners in prisons and the return of displaced refugees to their homes.

Many of the youth from my community have done the compulsory service in the army, what have we received? Discrimination in all areas, our villages are the poorest, our lands were confiscated, there are no master plans, and no industrial zones. Percentages of university graduates in our villages of the lowest in the region, the unemployment rates in our villages are the highest. This mandatory law has kept us away from our Arab connection.

This year, I will finish high school, and I seek to complete my university education. I’m sure you will try to make me concede my human ambition, but I announce it loudly:

I’m Omar Zahr Eldin Mohammad Saad will not be the fuel to the fire of your war, and will not be a soldier in your army .

Signed: Omar Sa’ad

October 27, 2012 Posted by | Militarism, Solidarity and Activism | , , , , | 1 Comment

Israel detains leading MP near Nablus

Ma’an – 27/10/2012

Mahmoud al-Ramahi is secretary-general of the Palestinian parliament. (MaanImages/File)

NABLUS – Israeli forces detained the secretary-general of the Palestinian parliament Mahmoud al-Ramahi on Saturday afternoon as he passed through a northern West Bank checkpoint.

Al-Ramahi was driving south from Nablus when he was seized at the Huwwara checkpoint. His car was also confiscated.

The MP was last released from Israeli jail less than four months ago.

An Israeli military spokeswoman confirmed the detention and said he is “suspected of involvement in illegal activity,” without elaborating.

Months after al-Ramahi was appointed to the leadership the Palestinian Legislative Council in 2006, he was seized by Israeli forces in his hometown of al-Bireh, near Ramallah, as part of a sweep of arrests after Hamas won elections.

Al-Ramahi, a medical doctor, was elected on the Hamas-affiliated Change and Reform list.

He was jailed from August 2006 until March 2009. The MP was again arrested in November 2010, and held in administrative detention until July 4 this year.

Al-Ramahi has brokered talks between Hamas and Fatah, and Hamas officials said his last detention was an Israeli attempt to disrupt reconciliation talks.

According to latest statistics, 13 Palestinian MPs are being held in Israeli jails.

October 27, 2012 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Illegal Occupation, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

US pressures Europe to label Hezbollah a “terrorist group”

Press TV – October 27, 2012

The chief counterterrorism adviser to the US President Barack Obama is putting pressure on the European Union to label the Lebanon resistance movement Hezbollah as a “terror group”.

John O. Brennan on Friday criticized the European for its failure to join the United States in designating the Hezbollah as a terrorist organization.

Brennan also said that Iran and Syria should be punished for supporting Hezbollah.

On July 24, The European Union flatly rejected an Israeli call to blacklist Hezbollah as a terrorist group, despite being under pressure from the US.

The EU regards Hezbollah as an active political party in Lebanon. It says there is not enough evidence to warrant listing the Lebanese group as a “terror group” like the United States.

Led by France, Europeans countries argue that their relations with Lebanon, where Hezbollah provides extensive social services and its political wing holds government power, would be damaged by the designation.

Currently, among the 27-EU member states, only the UK and Netherlands are in favor of adding Hezbollah to the EU list of terror which would freeze the group’s Europe-held financial assets.

The renewed pressure from the US comes only weeks after Hezbollah Secretary-General Seyyed Hassan Nasrallah confirmed that the Lebanese resistance movement had sent a drone into the Israeli airspace.

The aircraft crossed hundreds of kilometers above the sea and entered the occupied territories from southern Palestine and flew over several Israeli strategic sites without being detected by Israeli Air Force’s radars, he said.

Security analysts say the incident indicates that the Israeli military is incapable of handling a surprise attack despite the numerous military maneuvers regularly conducted by the regime.

October 27, 2012 Posted by | Progressive Hypocrite, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

U.S. Deputy Secretary of State: U.S. supports Georgia’s integration into NATO

TREND | October 26, 2012

Deputy Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Eric Rubin has expressed support for Georgia’s territorial integrity and its integration into NATO.

The parliamentary elections in Georgia were one of the main issues in Rubin’s speech at the U.S. Centre for National Interests on Friday.

Rubin spoke about the reforms carried out in Georgia, and stressed the importance of cooperation between the old and the new government.

“I would like to make note of what I saw in Tbilisi last week. After a heated election campaign both sides began to work for a peaceful transfer of power. This has started well and the parties are working constructively,” the Deputy Secretary of State stated.

~

Subscribers can access the full version of the news and analytical articles available at www.Trend.Az

October 27, 2012 Posted by | Militarism | , , , | Leave a comment

US expands drone base in Djibouti to hit Somalia, Yemen

Press TV – October 27, 2012

The US government is expanding its drone base in the East African nation of Djibouti to escalate its assassination strikes in Somalia and Yemen.

The US military has been flying armed drones over both countries from a base in Djibouti and is planning to build a second base in Ethiopia, a report by the Washington Post says.

The report added that the drones on missions over Somalia and Yemen take off or land at the base an average of 16 times per day.

The Lemonnier base has also become home to a squadron of US F-15 fighter jets, which it reports are flying combat missions over Yemen.

The US is also known to operate drones from two other East African countries — Ethiopia and the Seychelles islands.

The base in the Seychelles that was previously used to fly surveillance drones will now host armed drones capable of flying their lethal payloads the more than 1,500 kms that separate the Indian Ocean island chain from Somalia and the African mainland and back.

However, drone operations from Ethiopia and Seychelles are nothing compared to the one at Camp Lemonnier. According to the report Lemonnier is the centerpiece of an expanding US network of drone and surveillance bases in Africa.

Washington has also been carrying out assassination attacks using the unmanned aircraft in other countries including Afghanistan, Libya and Pakistan.

The United States claims the CIA-run strikes are aimed at militants. But witness reports and figures offered by local authorities indicate the attacks have led to massive civilian deaths.

October 27, 2012 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Illegal Occupation, Militarism, Subjugation - Torture, War Crimes | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment