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Obama Calls For ‘Pause’ in US-Russia Ties

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RIA Novosti | August 9, 2013

WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama on Friday called for “a pause” in US relations with Russia, even as both countries stressed that cooperation is crucial to their mutual interests and to the world despite sharp differences on a broad range of issues.

“It is probably appropriate for us to take a pause, reassess where it is that Russia is going, what our core interests are, and calibrate the relationship so that we’re doing things that are good for the United States and, hopefully, good for Russia as well,” Obama told a White House news conference Friday.

The comments came two days after the White House announced it had canceled Obama’s planned summit next month with Russian President Vladimir Putin, citing lack of prospects for progress in the bilateral agenda as well as Moscow’s harboring of accused US intelligence leaker Edward Snowden.

But they also coincided with talks in Washington between top US and Russian officials that both sides took pains to describe as constructive while largely downplaying discord over issues such as missile defense, the ongoing civil war in Syria and Russia’s decision to grant temporary asylum to Snowden, who is wanted by the United States to face espionage charges at home.

In his most expansive public discussion of frayed US-Russian relations since his reelection last November, Obama told Friday’s news conference that Putin’s return to the Kremlin last year has coincided with “more rhetoric on the Russian side that was anti-American, that played into some of the old stereotypes about the Cold War contest between the United States and Russia.”

“I’ve encouraged Mr. Putin to think forward as opposed to backwards on those issues – with mixed success” in the effort, Obama said.

He added that both countries should recognize “that there are just going to be some differences, and we’re not going to be able to completely disguise them.”

Obama denied that he had poor relations with Putin despite much public parsing of frosty looking images of their one-on-one meetings.

“I don’t have a bad personal relationship with Putin,” Obama said. “ … I know the press likes to focus on body language and he’s got that kind of slouch, looking like the bored kid in the back of the classroom. But the truth is, is that when we’re in conversations together, oftentimes it’s very productive.”

Officials from both countries on Friday downplayed the importance of the Snowden impasse in a bilateral agenda that includes US missile defense plans, which Russia sees as a threat to its security, and the violence in Syria, where the Kremlin warns that US military aid to rebel forces risks empowering terrorists and US officials accuse Moscow of propping up Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Obama said his decision to scrap the summit was not based “simply around Mr. Snowden,” but rather on what he described as Russia’s failure to move “on a whole range of issues where we think we can make some progress.”

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, meanwhile, told reporters following meetings with US Secretary of State John Kerry and the two countries’ top defense officials in Washington on Friday that Snowden “did not overshadow our discussions.”

“This was mentioned as a fact which we have on our hands,” Lavrov said of the standoff over Snowden. “But the main discussion was about the issues of the agenda, which are of huge interest to the United States, to the Russian Federation and to the entire world.”

Lavrov insisted that Russia had acted in accordance with its own laws and with international law in granting Snowden asylum last week, a position he said Moscow has consistently communicated to Washington since the fugitive former US intelligence contractor landed in Moscow on a flight from Hong Kong on June 23.

A senior US official told reporters during a conference call after Friday’s meetings that the Snowden affair did not “dominate or overshadow” the talks between Lavrov, Kerry, US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu.

“What we were able to agree on was the need to move forward on areas of mutual interest,” the official said, adding that the talks focused on missile defense, arms reduction, political and military cooperation, and regional security, including in Syria, Afghanistan, Iran and North Korea.

Both sides said Friday that they had agreed that a political settlement is the only acceptable resolution to the civil war in Syria and that they remain committed to holding the so-called so Geneva-2 conference aimed at bringing an end to the violence in Syria.

Speaking in Moscow on Friday, Putin’s top foreign policy aide, Yury Ushakov, said Obama’s invitation to meet the Russian president in Moscow remains open and that the Kremlin hopes the American president will accept the offer.

Talks between the two countries at the highest level are “very important … not only for both of our countries, but for guaranteeing global stability and security,” Ushakov said.

Obama said the United States said effective cooperation is possible if Russia “is looking forward into the 21st century” but that a “zero-sum” mindset is counterproductive for bilateral ties.

“If issues are framed as if the US is for it, then Russia should be against it, or we’re going to be finding ways where we can poke each other at every opportunity, then probably we don’t get as much stuff done,” Obama said.

August 9, 2013 Posted by | Progressive Hypocrite | , , , | 1 Comment

‘AL QAEDA INC.’ FRANCHISE SUCCESS STORY OR NEOCON NONSENSE?

By Damian Lataan | August 09, 2013

The neoconservatives are going to extraordinary lengths to try and convince the world (and probably themselves) that ‘al Qaeda’ is a huge complex homogeneous business organisation that deals in ‘terrorism’ through various franchise organisations scattered throughout the Middle East, Central Asia and Africa.

In a recent article by neocon writers Josh Rogin and Eli Lake in The Daily Beast it was actually claimed that the leaders of the various ‘franchises’ around the world held a conference call to plan acts of terrorism. According to the report from Rogin and Lake we are supposed to believe that up to 20 ‘al Qaeda’ franchise managers were in on the conference call – a call which ultimately led to the US and some of their allies shutting down embassies in the Middle East and elsewhere. What led the participants of the conference to believe that their calls were not being monitored remains unexplained by the writers and their sources.

According to Rogin and Lake, participants included:

…representatives or leaders from Nigeria’s Boko Haram, the Pakistani Taliban, al Qaeda in Iraq, al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, and more obscure al Qaeda affiliates such as the Uzbekistan branch. Also on the call were representatives of aspiring al Qaeda affiliates such as al Qaeda in the Sinai Peninsula… The presence of aspiring al Qaeda affiliates operating in the Sinai was one reason the State Department closed the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv, according to one U.S. intelligence official. “These guys already proved they could hit Eilat. It’s not out of the range of possibilities that they could hit us in Tel Aviv,” the official said.

US intelligence official? ‘… hit us in Tel Aviv’? Surely a slip of the tongue; tell me he meant Washington.

Just to reinforce the delusion, Abe Greenwald, a neoconservative propagandist writing in Commentary attempts to paint a picture of ‘al Qaeda in the Sinai’ that’s not so much bigger than life but more from a vivid imagination.

Do these neocons honestly think that any real such organisations would be dumb enough to have such a link-up conference?

Clearly they do because they also think that ordinary folk around the planet are dumb enough to believe their delusional nonsense.

All we have here are neocons perpetuating the myth of a larger than life ‘al-Qaeda’.

(For those interested, there is apparently an ‘al Qaeda’ franchise currently available in the Gaza Strip due to the Israelis defaulting on the franchise fee for one they attempted to start back in 2002.)

August 9, 2013 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , , , , | Comments Off on ‘AL QAEDA INC.’ FRANCHISE SUCCESS STORY OR NEOCON NONSENSE?

NASA’s climate “tipping point” fails to materialize

2008 NASA scare mongering which was disseminated by Voice of America (now deleted from VOA archives):

Actual 2013 summer arctic ice cover returns to normal:

icecover_current_new

August 9, 2013 Posted by | Deception, Science and Pseudo-Science, Video | 1 Comment

Israel wants to “negotiate” EU sanctions against it

Al-Akhbar | August 9, 2013

Israel urged the European Union on Friday to undo planned sanctions against it in the occupied West Bank and called for talks, a shift in tone from previous Israeli anger, retaliatory measures and threats.

Under guidelines adopted by the executive European Commission in June, Israeli “entities” operating in the West Bank and East Jerusalem will not be eligible for EU grants, prizes or loans from next year.

The move was deplored by Israel, which has constructed thousands of illegal settlement houses in the West Bank and claims all of Jerusalem as its undivided capital. Neither the settlements nor claims to Jerusalem are recognized internationally.

The right-wing Israeli government responded on July 26 by announcing curbs on EU aid projects for thousands of West Bank Palestinians. On Thursday it accused the Europeans of harming so-called Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts and said it would not sign new deals with the 28-nation bloc given the planned sanctions.

But Deputy Israeli Foreign Minister Zeev Elkin backed down a little on Friday, offering to negotiate with the European Union over the guidelines of the sanctions.

“We are ready to hold a creative dialogue with the Europeans. We understand their position. We reject it, we don’t like it, but it’s their right when it comes to using their money,” Elkin told Israel Radio.

A spokesman for EU foreign policy chief Catherine Aston, Michael Mann, said Brussels was willing to clarify the new guidelines in talks with Israel.

Some 500,000 Israelis live in illegal settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem among 2.5 million Palestinians who own the land. Israel snatched those territories, along with the Palestinian Gaza Strip and Syrian Golan Heights, in the 1967 war.

Occupation forces left Gaza in 2005 but has annexed the Golan – another territory affected by the EU move.

Internationally, the settlements are considered illegal.

(Reuters, Al-Akhbar)

August 9, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Colombia: FARC Demands Democratisation of the Media

By Kahina Boudarène | The Argentina Independent | August 8, 2013

The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) presented a series of proposals today to promote the democratisation of media and communication in the country.In a public statement, Marco Leon Calarca, also known as Luis Alberto Alban, one of the FARC spokespeople, asked the Colombian government to create a National Council for Information and Communication Politics “to ensure social and popular control over the media.”

The FARC also proposed a fair distribution of radio and television frequencies between public, private and social sectors. They suggested the promotion of new forms of propriety for communities and excluded social sectors, in order to ensure that rural, indigenous and excluded social sectors will access their own media.

The FARC states that these measures will encourage a “decentralisation” of the media and as so will “prevent economic groups from monopolising [the airwaves] and abusing their dominant position.”

They also asked “a decent work and a good salary” for people working in media, as well as “financial, technical and material resources for the proper exercise of the profession.”

The proposal comes as peace talks between the guerrilla group and the Colombian government continue in Havana, Cuba, with FARC’s possible integration into politics currently under debate.

As the FARC talked about the State wielding more “control” over the media, Ignacio Gomez, President of the Foundation for Press Freedom (Flip) declared that the concept was “a communist and fascist model”.

August 9, 2013 Posted by | Solidarity and Activism | , , , | Comments Off on Colombia: FARC Demands Democratisation of the Media

Lavabit Encrypted Email Service Shuts Down, Can’t Say Why

By Kurt Opsahl | EFF | August 8, 2013

Today, Lavabit announced that it would shut down its encrypted email service rather than “become complicit in crimes against the American people.” Lavabit did not say what it had been asked to do, only that it was legally prohibited from sharing the events leading to its decision.

Lavabit was an email provider, apparently used by Edward Snowden along with other privacy sensitive users, with an avowed mission to offer an “e-mail service that never sacrifices privacy for profits” and promised to “only release private information if legally compelled by the courts in accordance with the United States Constitution.” It backed up this claim by encrypting all emails on Lavabit servers such that Lavabit did not have the ability to access a user’s email (Lavabit’s white paper), at least without that user’s passphrase, which the email provider did not store.

Given the impressive powers of the government to obtain emails and records from service providers, both with and without legal authority, it is encouraging to see service providers take steps to limit their ability to access user data, as Lavabit had done.

But now it’s gone. Here is Lavabit’s statement in full:

My Fellow Users,

I have been forced to make a difficult decision: to become complicit in crimes against the American people or walk away from nearly ten years of hard work by shutting down Lavabit. After significant soul searching, I have decided to suspend operations. I wish that I could legally share with you the events that led to my decision. I cannot. I feel you deserve to know what’s going on–the first amendment is supposed to guarantee me the freedom to speak out in situations like this. Unfortunately, Congress has passed laws that say otherwise. As things currently stand, I cannot share my experiences over the last six weeks, even though I have twice made the appropriate requests.

What’s going to happen now? We’ve already started preparing the paperwork needed to continue to fight for the Constitution in the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. A favorable decision would allow me resurrect Lavabit as an American company.

This experience has taught me one very important lesson: without congressional action or a strong judicial precedent, I would _strongly_ recommend against anyone trusting their private data to a company with physical ties to the United States.

Sincerely,

Ladar Levison

Owner and Operator, Lavabit LLC

Defending the constitution is expensive! Help us by donating to the Lavabit Legal Defense Fund here.

It’s rare to see an email provider choose to go out of business rather than compromise its values. It must have been a hard decision for Ladar Levison, but he remained true to his promise to put privacy before profits. It was also hard on the users, some of whom lost access to email not available elsewhere.

Lavabit’s ominous note and the lack of information about this case is especially concerning for users of large communication service providers like Facebook and Google that may well have been subject to similar pressure, and we hope they will continue to fight for the user in the face of government demands, even if not recognized for years. Already, Lavabit’s note has led to Silent Circle dropping its email service, saying “We see the writing [on] the wall, and we have decided that it is best for us to shut down Silent Mail now. We have not received subpoenas, warrants, security letters, or anything else by any government, and this is why we are acting now.”

Moving forward, we need more transparency so the public can know and understand what led to a ten-year-old business closing its doors and a new start-up abandoning a business opportunity. Hopefully Congress will get concerned, especially when there are American jobs at stake.

Lavabit’s post indicates that there was a gag order, and that there is an ongoing appeal before the Fourth Circuit. We call on the government and the courts to unseal enough of the docket to allow, at a minimum, the public to know the legal authority asserted, both for the gag and the substance, and give Lavabit the breathing room to participate in the vibrant and critical public debates on the extent of email privacy in an age of warrantless bulk surveillance by the NSA.

August 9, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , , , | Comments Off on Lavabit Encrypted Email Service Shuts Down, Can’t Say Why

Bahraini regime arrests over 200 protesters in July

Press TV – August 9, 2013

Bahrain’s main opposition group al-Wefaq says more than 200 people including women and children were detained during the heavy-handed regime crackdown on protests in July.

The Bahraini opposition party recently revealed that at least 19 children and one woman were also among those arrested by the regime forces during the demonstrations last month.

According to al-Wefaq, over 170 people were also wounded due to the excessive force used by the Manama regime forces.

Meanwhile, Manama forces have raided some 650 homes over the past month, while 18 cases of brutal and inhumane tortures have also been reported.

On August 7, Bahraini King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa banned protests in the capital, Manama, ahead of the August 14 celebrations of the country’s independence from the United Kingdom.

The opposition is planning to hold a major protest on the same day. The Manama regime has warned that any protests would face the “force of the law.”

Bahrain’s loyalist-dominated parliament has also approved a bill banning all protests in Manama.

The Bahraini uprising began in mid-February 2011.

The Al Khalifa regime promptly launched a brutal crackdown on the peaceful protests and called in Saudi-led Arab forces from neighboring states.

Scores of people have been killed in the crackdown, and the security forces have arrested hundreds, including doctors and nurses.

The protesters say they will continue demonstrations until their demand for the establishment of a democratically elected government is met.

August 9, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , | Comments Off on Bahraini regime arrests over 200 protesters in July

Nagasaki marks 68th anniversary of US nuclear bombing

Press TV – August 9, 2013

Nagasaki marks the 68th anniversary of the US atomic attack that killed tens of thousands of people in the Japanese city at the end of World War II.

The memorial service on Friday was attended by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, survivors of the nuclear bombing, celebrities, relatives and government representatives from more than 40 countries.

The event was held at Nagasaki Peace Park near the epicenter of the August 9, 1945 attack that killed up to 70,000 people.

The mayor of Nagasaki has criticized the government for failing to assume leadership toward nuclear disarmament.

During an address at the ceremony, Nagasaki Mayor Tomihisa Taue censured the government for refusing to sign a statement rejecting unconditional use of nuclear weapons at an international disarmament meeting in April.

He said Japan has failed to assume the leadership, as the world’s only atomic-bombed country, in the drive to totally eradicate nuclear weapons as soon as possible.

Taue also urged the United States and Russia to reduce their nuclear arsenal.

In June, US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said that Washington will continue to make investments to sustain its nuclear weapons, despite talks with Russia over cutting the number of deployed strategic nuclear weapons by up to a third.

US filmmaker Oliver Stone also attended the memorial ceremony in Nagasaki on Friday. He said the widely held belief that the nuclear attacks on Japan ended World War II was a “tremendous lie.”

“It’s easy to look at the issue simply that Americans dropped the bomb to end World War II because Japanese militarists would not give up… [however], that would be a surface explanation,” Stone said.

The bombing of Nagasaki came just three days after the United States dropped another atomic bomb on the western city of Hiroshima in the closing days of World War II.

The US nuclear attack on Japan killed more than 200,000 people. The anniversaries of the two bombings are of great significance to Japan.

August 9, 2013 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , | Comments Off on Nagasaki marks 68th anniversary of US nuclear bombing