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Argentina to Nationalize Cargo and Passenger Trains

By Sabrina Hummel | The Argentina Independent | June 4, 2013

Minister of the Interior and Transport, Florencio Randazzo, is set to announce changes in the railway sector – most importantly the nationalisation of passenger and cargo trains.

The Brazilian company América Latina Logística (A.L.L) will see its concession revoked and the historic Tren de la Costa will return to state hands. A.L.L had already received a warning from the Auditor General’s Office for anomalies in its provision of services.

From 1990 up to 2012, the company amassed a debt of over $237m to the government, 866% in excess of its contract compliance. Payments over the last six months have stalled, allowing the government to rescind its concession.

Tren de la Costa, built at the end of the 20th century, served as a vital link between the neighbourhood of Belgrano and the port of Tigre. Following various changes in ownership, it converted to electric power in 1931.

It covers 15.5km and runs alongside the scenic Río de la Plata serving four provincial municipalities. It has a total of 11 stations with a standard fare of just $16m or $10 for those with a DNI.

A.L.L meanwhile operates two of the most important freight railway networks in all of the country: A.L.L Central (line San Martín) and A.L.L Mesopotámica (line Urquiza). A.L.L Central runs through the centre of Argentina, beginning in the province of Cuyo and passes through San Luis, Córdoba, Rosario, Santa Fe, and finally Buenos Aires. A.L.L Mesopotámica in turn runs through the provinces of Misiones, Corrientes, and Entre Ríos, linking them to Paraguay, Uruguay, and its own network in Brazil.

A.L.L is the largest operator of rail logistics in Latin America. A.L.L Argentina is the biggest rail operator in the country, spanning 8000km. It is also the second largest in terms of cargo volume, transporting more than 5m tonnes each year.

Randazzo was recently quoted saying, “in terms of policy and management decisions, the State is more competitive than the private sector”.

June 4, 2013 Posted by | Economics | , , , | Leave a comment

Did an Israel lobby front group organize McCain’s trip to Syria?

Maidhc Ó Cathail | The Passionate Attachment | June 5, 2013

In an attempt to dispel embarrassing reports that Senator John McCain’s “surprise” trip to Syria featured a meeting with kidnappers — including Mohammad Nour of the Northern Storm rebel group — behind the 2012 abduction of 11 Lebanese religious pilgrims, The Daily Beast’s Josh Rogin cited Mouaz Moustafa, the executive director of a little-known organization called The Syrian Emergency Task Force:

“Nobody self-identified as Nour, and none of the guys who were standing outside were in the meeting with McCain,” said Mouaz Moustafa, executive director of the Syrian Emergency Task Force, an American nonprofit that helped organize the McCain trip. Moustafa is in the picture and was also inside McCain’s meeting with the rebel commanders, along with Task Force political director Elizabeth O’Bagy.

Rogin’s defense of McCain, of course, rests on the perceived independence of Moustafa’s “NGO.” The Syrian Emergency Task Force, however, appears to have close ties to one foreign government and its powerful American lobby. Not only is Mouaz Moustafa listed as one of the Washington Institute’s “experts,” he recently addressed the AIPAC-created think tank’s annual Soref symposium on the theme of “Inside Syria: The Battle Against Assad’s Regime.”

Even more intriguingly, one of the web addresses for his nonprofit is “syriantaskforce.torahacademybr.org.” The “torahacademybr.org” URL belongs to the Torah Academy of Boca Raton, Florida whose academic goals notably include “inspiring a love and commitment to Eretz Yisroel.”

Of course, none of this will come as any surprise to those who familiar with John McCain’s lifelong service to the Land of Israel, a commitment that has invariably been at the expense of U.S. interests.

Maidhc Ó Cathail is an investigative journalist and Middle East analyst. He is also the creator and editor of The Passionate Attachment blog, which focuses primarily on the U.S.-Israeli relationship. You can follow him on Facebook and Twitter @O_Cathail.

June 4, 2013 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , | 1 Comment

Egypt sentences 43 NGO staffers for working illegally

Al-Akhbar | June 4, 2013

A Cairo court on Monday sentenced 43 Egyptian and foreign employees of several non-governmental organizations to jail sentences ranging from one to five years for working illegally.

Twenty-seven of the defendants were sentenced in absentia to five years by the Cairo criminal court.

Five defendants who were present in the country, including one American, were sentenced to two years behind bars while the remaining 11 defendants were given one-year suspended sentences, an AFP reporter in court said.

Judge Makram Awad also ordered the closure of the NGOs where the sentenced staff worked.

These include US-based NGOs Freedom House and the National Democratic Institute, as well as the German Konrad Adenauer Foundation.

The defendants were charged with receiving illicit foreign funds and operating without a license.

The trial began last year following raids of the groups’ offices which led to a crisis in relations between Egypt and Washington.

The raids in December came after an order from judges tasked with investigating the groups’ foreign funding.

The groups allegedly did not obtain licenses to operate or permission from the foreign and social solidarity ministries, the prosecutor general’s office had said in a statement.

A travel ban was issued denying the accused of traveling out of Egypt in January 2013. It was lifted a month later.

(AFP, Reuters, Al-Akhbar)

June 4, 2013 Posted by | Corruption, Deception | , , , , , | Leave a comment

One Palestinian child has been killed by Israel every 3 days for the past 13 years

MEMO | June 4, 2013

-1Official statistics from the Ministry of Information in Ramallah have revealed that 1,518 Palestinian children were killed by Israel’s occupation forces from the outbreak of the second Intifada in September 2000 up to April 2013. That’s the equivalent of one Palestinian child killed by Israel every 3 days for almost 13 years. The ministry added that the number of children injured by the Israelis since the start of the Second Intifada against Israel’s occupation has now reached 6,000.

“The International Day for the Protection of Children is on June 1,” said a spokesman, “but Palestinian children are still subject to attacks by the Israelis and Jewish settlers on an almost daily basis.”

Noting that 2012 saw an unprecedented rise in the number of children arrested by Israeli forces, the report pointed out that 9,000 Palestinians under 18 years old have been arrested since the end of September 2000. Almost half of the Palestinian population is under 18. Almost two hundred and fifty Palestinian minors are being held in prison by Israel; 47 of them are children under 16 years of age.

June 4, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular | , , , | Leave a comment

Fred Hiatt, fierce advocate of aggressive war, demands Other Countries obey the law

By Justin Doolittle | Crimethink | 6.03.2013

Sometimes, as an observer of the news, one comes across a particular opinion column that is so brazen, so audacious, that one must stare at the headline for thirty seconds or so, simply to make sure it’s not a hallucination. Such was my experience this morning when I saw that Fred Hiatt wrote a column for The Washington Post titled “Will Xi Jinping’s ‘Chinese dream’ include the rule of law?” Irony is officially dead.

Hiatt, for those who don’t know, is the editorial page editor at the Post, and someone who lives and breathes for war. Not in the sense that he has ever volunteered to go fight in one, of course. That’s for Other People to do. Hiatt prefers to fight the good fight from his comfortable D.C. office. There’s much more money and prestige in doing it that way.

One must stipulate that, while he loves war with all of his heart, Hiatt, like all serious, sophisticated, reasonable Beltway intellectuals, has at times seemed fairly torn on the far more perplexing issue of torture. Whether or not to flagrantly violate domestic and international law and disregard the most basic conceptions of human morality by torturing other people – this always represented a profound moral quandary for the intellectual class. Hiatt did eventually make his thoughts on this matter clear, though, by hiring an absolute lunatic by the name of Marc Thiessen to grace the pages of his newspaper’s prestigious opinion section; Thiessen mostly used his space to explain why torture is so awesome and underrated.

We do know, beyond a reasonable doubt, that Fred Hiatt does not believe in the rule of law. In enthusiastically supporting the attack on Iraq, which, as a war of aggression, constituted the “supreme international crime,” Hiatt forever forfeited any right to even talk about the rule of law. One doesn’t get to cheer-lead, fanatically, for the most colossal international crime in a generation, and maintain any credibility on “the rule of law.” This cannot really be debated, unless one also wants to argue in favor of consulting Bill Clinton on marital fidelity, or O.J. Simpson on domestic tranquility.

Hiatt, though, is evidently very concerned about the future of the rule of law. Not in the United States, naturally, but, rather, in China. In his new column, Hiatt worries that China, under Xi, might continue its heinous “bullying” in the international arena and its regular flouting of international norms. Fred Hiatt just hates when countries do this. He encourages President Obama – the man who refuses to investigate and prosecute the torturers and killers of the Bush administration on the astonishing grounds that it’s preferable to Look Forward, Not Backward – to lecture the Chinese on appreciating the rule of law and respecting human rights. Hiatt sternly warns the Chinese that they risk losing the “trust” of the United States if they don’t cease their unconscionable imprisonment of peaceful activists and their disregard for due process. He writes this as peaceful American activist Bradley Manning, after sitting in a cage for more than two years, is now going on trial for the offense of telling people about his country’s war crimes, and as more than 100 prisoners of the United States continue to wage a hunger streak to protest their lack of due process. Hiatt has apparently, through some sort of mental process, airbrushed both stories from his brain, despite the fact that both are currently receiving an astounding amount of international attention.

This column represents one of the most exquisite examples of Orwell’s “doublethink” in recent memory.

June 4, 2013 Posted by | Deception, Malthusian Ideology, Phony Scarcity, Progressive Hypocrite, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , | Leave a comment

German drone nearly hits 100-passenger Airbus jet – leaked video

RT | June 4, 2013

Nine years ago a German drone nearly collided with a passenger plane over Afghanistan. The classified drone camera footage drew public attention after the German defense ministry scrapped a drone program for its lack of anti-collision technology.

Footage taken by an EMT Luna X-2000 reconnaissance drone as it passed mere meters under the left wing of an Airbus A300 passenger plane surfaced on YouTube several years ago. After the encounter, the drone was caught in the plane’s wake turbulence, lost control, and crashed over the Afghan capital Kabul, Der Spiegel reported.

The Ariana Afghan Airlines plane was carrying about 100 people on board, the magazine said. The manufacturer of the 40kg drone has claimed that the near-collision occurred after the passenger jet veered off-course without informing ground control.

The video was leaked a week after German Defense Minister Thomas de Maizière decided to scrap the $652 million EuroHawk program – meant to be a replacement for existing reconnaissance aircraft – including the Luna drones. EuroHawk is part of the NATO Global Hawk project, under which Germany was to buy Northrop Grumman RQ-4B drones and fit them with customized sensors.

However, the German military would not be able to certify the drone for use in European airspace without an anti-collision system, which would make the aircraft too expensive, de Maizière said, adding that even with such a system installed certification would not be guaranteed. German media also reported that EuroHawk suffered from technical problems and cost overruns.

Germany has bought one drone from the US manufacturer of the EuroHawk program, and was expected to purchase four more. If given the green light, the contract would be worth $1.3 billion.

De Maizière came under criticism recently for the drone program after a leaked defense ministry report showed that the drone’s flaws were apparent as early as 15 month ago. Critics have accused the minister of failing to act and continuing to spend taxpayer money on the doomed project. De Maizière will appear before the German Parliament this week to report on the issue.

Advancements in unmanned weapons systems have become a global controversy in recent years. Militaries have praised the weapons for not endangering the lives of operators, and for being generally more cost-effective than older manned hardware.

But critics are expressing increasing concerns over the collateral damage caused by drone strikes, the vague legal justifications for their use, and the potential creation of weapons that would remove human judgment altogether from the decision to pursue a target.

There is also the perception that nations with advanced drone technology – specifically the US and Israel – have an unjust capability to enforce their policies on other countries.

June 4, 2013 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular, Video | , , | 1 Comment

NATO Intends to Explode Latin American Unity, Leaders Warn

Prensa Latina | June 3, 2013

Managua – The supposed initiative to incorporate Colombia in a military group like the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is an attack on Latin American and Caribbean unity, the governments of Nicaragua and Venezuela denounced today.

The statements by Presidents Daniel Ortega and Nicolas Maduro occurred on Sunday night during a massive event at Revolution Square in the capital, marking the visit of the South American leader.

“When the region seeks more unity through the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), it is worrying that initiatives are presented to try to divide and weaken the process”, noted Ortega.

“It is inadmissible and I want to believe that this is not actually happening, I find it hard to believe that President Juan Manuel Santos expressed his decision to join NATO,” highlighted the leader.

“Strength does not lie in filling our countries with foreign military bases, or joining organizations whose focus is bombing, murdering and destroying; that is NATO’s tradition and it has a “keep-on-doing-it” policy, noted the president.

“CELAC has commitments and if anyone breaks them, there will always be other leaders that rectify mistakes and strengthen unity of our peoples”, underlined Ortega.

Maduro warned that Colombia’s attempt contradicts the doctrine and the international law on which regional unity is based. “They want to put dynamite in the heart of the achievements of the unity of Latin America, the Caribbean and South America”, the leader pointed out.


Bolivia Calls UNASUR Summit to Discuss Colombia’s Inclusion in NATO

Prensa Latina | June 3, 2013

La Paz – The president of Bolivia, Evo Morales, described Colombia”s decision to join NATO as a threat to the region and called an extraordinary meeting of the Security Council of UNASUR.

During a ceremony in the southern city of Potosi, he considered that the decision of President Juan Manuel Santos to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is a violation of the peace treaties signed by the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) and involves a dangerous possibility of military intervention to the nations of Latin America and the Caribbean.

“We can not allow NATO to intervene Latin America. Having NATO is a threat to our continent, to Latin America and the Caribbean,” he said.

The president asked the General Secretariat of UNASUR to complete the formalities for the Security Council to convene an emergency meeting to take a joint position of rejecting the Atlantic Pact arrival to the region through Colombia.

He believed that the presence of that organization of military powers seeks to destabilize and undermine leftist governments in Latin America, primarily Venezuela, Ecuador, Nicaragua and Bolivia itself.

June 4, 2013 Posted by | Militarism | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Russia has to react as NATO moves closer to its borders – Medvedev

RT | June 4, 2013

Russia cannot see NATO expansion towards its borders as positive, as under certain circumstances the possibility of military confrontation remains, the Russian PM has said at the Euro-Arctic Council’s forum.

When a reporter asked Dmitry Medvedev how the balance of forces in Europe will change if Sweden and Finland decide to enter NATO, the Russian Prime Minister answered that his country would have to react to such developments.

“This is their own business; they are making decisions in accordance with the national sovereignty doctrine. But we have to consider the fact that for us the NATO bloc is not simply some estranged organisation, but a structure with military potential,” the head of the Russian government said adding that under certain unfavorable scenarios this potential could be used against Russia.

“All new members of the North Atlantic alliance that appear in proximity of our state eventually do change the parity of the military force. And we have to react to this,” the top official noted.

At the same time, Medvedev told reporters that currently Russia and NATO have a working and effective body of cooperation – the Russia-NATO council.

The issue of NATO expansion towards Russian borders is also important as it is directly connected with the deployment of global missile defense system in NATO member countries, including former Warsaw Pact members, such as Poland and the Czech Republic. As US and NATO refused to provide Russia with legally binding guarantees that the ABM systems would not target Russian forces, Russia is opposing the move, warning of future tensions and the possibility of a new arms race.

Earlier this week US Secretary of State John Kerry spoke at a joint press conference with Poland’s Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski and said that his country was not making any concessions to Russia as it altered the plans to develop and run the missile defense system.

“The United States of America has made zero concessions to Russia with respect to missile defense,” news agencies quoted the top US diplomat as saying.

He added that the elements of the missile defense shield would be placed in Poland by 2018 and that this was part of NATO’s modernized approach to security.

The plans to deploy a missile defense system in NATO member-countries such as Poland and the Czech Republic caused strong protests from Russia and in 2008 then President Dmitry Medvedev announced that his country would deploy the newest Iskander ballistic missiles in the Kaliningrad Region – Russia’s westernmost exclave – and this move would render the planned defense system useless. In 2012 Russia allocated additional means to upgrade the Iskander systems announcing that this would allow the weapon to effectively counter the US anti-missile systems.

Russian media have reported that Iskander deployment to Kaliningrad should have started in the second half of 2012, but the military denied this and said it is still in the preparatory stage.

June 4, 2013 Posted by | Militarism | , , , | Leave a comment