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Israelis seize 4 schoolgirls in south Hebron hills

Ma’an – 28/05/2014

BETHLEHEM – Israeli forces on Tuesday detained four Palestinian girls in the south Hebron hills after a settler accused them of stealing cherries, human rights group B’Tselem said.

The girls, aged 11 to 15, were on their way home from school with an Israeli army escort when Israeli police arrested them. They were taken to an Israeli police station in Hebron with no adult accompaniment and held for four hours until being handed over to Palestinian police and released.

“The absurdity and injustice of holding four girls on suspicion of such a minor offense is disgraceful and outrageous, especially given that the authorities systematically refrain from enforcing the law on settlers who attack these girls and their families,” B’Tselem said.

International volunteers from Operation Dove filmed the incident.

May 28, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture, Video | , , | 1 Comment

Shells hit school, kindergarten in Slavyansk amid Ukraine military op

RT | May 28, 2014

A school and a kindergarten have been shelled in Slavyansk as the city becomes increasingly unsafe in the intensified Kiev military campaign. At least 9 civilians were injured in Wednesday’s shelling incidents, including a child.

Ukrainian mortar shells have for weeks been raining down on the checkpoints and positions of the Slavyansk self-defense, but much of the shelling occurred outside the city. Italian journalist Andrea Rocchelli and his Russian interpreter, veteran human rights activist Andrey Mironov, were almost torn to pieces in one such shelling.

However, this week the battleground apparently moved right into civilian quarters of Slavyansk, as shells started hitting residential blocks and nearby buildings, killing three people on Monday.

On Wednesday, there was a shocking reminder of how the situation might unfold if the new president-elect Petro Poroshenko pushes on with the military operation in the region, as shells struck the city’s streets, yards, a school and a kindergarten.

RT talked to a male schoolteacher from Slavyansk school number 13, who asked not to be named.

“Around midday there was a loud explosion in the school, and I fell to the floor, taking cover,” the teacher told RT over the phone.

The man said that he rushed to the corridor to assemble all the teachers and children in the school and take them to a safe place. Clouds of dust were billowing on one side of the building.

According to the teacher, it turned out that the shell exploded right above the school hall, where children are usually gathered for festive events, and part of the roof “was simply blown away.”

Luckily, no children were in the hall at the time. All the pupils and teachers were quickly evacuated to the basement.

It was not immediately clear, if there were any casualties in the kindergarten or other places shelled in Slavyansk, but the Rossiya-24 channel reported that 9 people were injured in total, including a 4-year-old boy. The channel’s crew narrowly escaped a direct hit by a mortar shell, as it fell “literally next to our car.”

Photos of the sites of Wednesday’s mortar attacks emerged on social media, showing partially destroyed buildings, craters in the roads, and what appeared to be blood.

The Kiev forces quickly laid the blame on self-defense units, which they refer to as “terrorists.”

“Currently, we are confirming the information on the terrorists’ shelling of the residential quarters and the territory of the school in Slavyansk,” the commander of Kiev’s military operation in southeastern Ukraine, Vladislav Seleznyov, wrote on his Facebook page.

Meanwhile, several funerals of those killed in Monday’s shelling were held in Slavyansk on Wednesday. According to the latest reports, four people have died from shrapnel wounds since then.

The shelling damaged a block of flats and a dormitory in the city’s teachers’ college, shattering glass in the windows of the college. Power lines and, reportedly, a city water pipeline were damaged and disrupted by the blasts.

Video Report

May 28, 2014 Posted by | War Crimes | , , | 1 Comment

US Secretly Training and Funding ‘Elite’ African Commandos

By  Sarah Lazare | Common Dreams | May 27, 2014

The Pentagon has been secretly backing a U.S. Special Operations program to build elite units to fight “terrorism” in Libya, Niger, Mauritania and Mali, the New York Times revealed Monday.

The program was launched last year and is backed by millions of dollars in classified Pentagon funds. U.S. military trainers, including members of the Green Berets and Delta Force, are working with African “commandos” to “build homegrown African counterterrorism teams,” according to the Times.

According to the reporting, $70 million in Pentagon funds is going towards “training, intelligence-gathering equipment and other support” for commandos in Nigeria and Mauritania. And $16 million is going towards commandos in Libya. In Mauritnaia, $29 million has been allotted for “logistics and surveillance equipment in support of the specialized unit.” According to the Times, the program in Mali “has yet to get off the ground as a new civilian government recovers from a military coup last year.”

The U.S. military has for years been increasing its role across the continent of Africa, including the expansion of AFRICOM, drone attacks in Somalia, air strikes and arms shipments to Libya, and more.

May 28, 2014 Posted by | Militarism | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ex-president in talks to free Nigeria schoolgirls

Press TV – May 28, 2014

Former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo has reportedly engaged in an effort to broker the release of over 200 schoolgirls kidnapped by the Takfiri Boko Haram militants.

Obasanjo has met with people close to the radical militants in an attempt to negotiate the release of the abducted schoolchildren, AFP reported Tuesday, citing a source close to the talks.

The meeting reportedly took place last weekend at Obasanjo’s farm in Ogun State and involved the relatives of some senior Boko Haram militants as well as mediators, the source added.

“The meeting was focused on how to free the girls through negotiation,” said the anonymous source, referring to the girls who were abducted on April 14 from the remote northeastern town of Chibok in Borno State.

Nigeria’s Chief of Defense Staff Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh stated Monday that the whereabouts of the girls had been located but cast doubt on the prospect of rescuing them by force. He further noted that the risks of storming the area with troops in a rescue mission were too great and could prove fatal for the young hostages.

According to the source, Obasanjo had voiced concern over Nigeria’s acceptance of foreign military intervention to help rescue the abducted girls.

Obasanjo is reportedly worried that Nigeria’s prestige in Africa as a major continental power had been diminished by President Goodluck Jonathan’s decision to bring in Western military assistance, including by US forces.

Obasanjo, who left office in 2007, has previously sought to negotiate with the Takfiri militants, including in September 2011, after Boko Haram bombed the United Nations headquarters in Abuja.

May 28, 2014 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , | Leave a comment

Exxon, BP Defy White House; Extend Partnership with Russia

By Nick Cunningham | Oilprice.com | May 26, 2014

Several of the largest oil companies in the world are doubling down in Russia despite moves by the West to isolate Russia and its economy. ExxonMobil and BP separately signed agreements with Rosneft – Russia’s state-owned oil company – to extend and deepen their relationships for energy exploration. The U.S. slapped sanctions on Rosneft’s CEO Igor Sechin in late April, freezing his assets and preventing him from obtaining visas.

However, the sanctions do not extend to Rosneft itself, allowing western companies to continue to do business with the Russian oil giant. ExxonMobil signed an agreement with Rosneft, extending its partnership to build a liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal on Russia’s pacific coast. Known as the Far East LNG project, the export terminal will receive natural gas from Russia’s eastern fields as well as from Sakhalin-1, an island off Russia’s east coast. Rosneft announced the deal in a press release on its website on May 23.

The following day, Rosneft and BP signed an agreement to jointly explore oil in the Volga-Urals region. It will consist of a pilot project in the Domanik formations, and if successful could lead to the development of shale oil in Russia. Rosneft will maintain a 51 percent ownership of the joint venture and BP will own 49 percent.

The signing of the agreement occurred during a ceremony at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum. The oil majors attended despite pressure from the White House to boycott the event. Many big name companies chose not to attend even though they have large economic interests in Russia, including PepsiCo, German companies E.ON and Siemens, and some of the biggest banks in the U.S.

By defying the White House, the oil majors salvaged what would have otherwise been an embarrassing event for the Kremlin. The absence of the world’s largest companies would have demonstrated Russia’s increasing isolation. Instead, Russia used the event to detail plans to expand its massive energy sector. “(They’re) eager to continue work on projects in Russia,” Russia’s Energy Minister Alexander Novak said of ExxonMobil and Royal Dutch Shell.

BP CEO Bob Dudley emphasized his company’s determination to stick with Russia. “We are very pleased to be a part of Russian energy complex,” he said at the forum. “President (Putin) has urged us today to invest into shale oil… There’s so many natural resources in Russia, the openness and partnerships Russia has with companies from all over the world is a good thing for energy,” Dudley added.

Even though there are international sanctions on Rosneft’s Igor Sechin, Dudley insisted that their business with Rosneft will continue. “It does not affect our cooperation with the company itself,” Dudley said, referring to sanctions on Rosneft’s boss. He was even able to meet Sechin privately.

French oil giant Total S.A. also signed an agreement with Lukoil – Russia’s second largest oil company – to explore for shale oil and gas. Total’s chief executive Christophe de Margerie also went to lengths to reassure the Russian hosts. “My message to Russia is simple – business as usual,” he said at the event.

To be clear, the oil companies are not legally running afoul of international sanctions. But their collective shrug in the face of European and American pressure to boycott Russia – along with the $400 billion natural gas deal Russia signed with China last week – illustrates the difficulty which the West will have at undermining Russia’s energy sector, if it chose to do so. Russia is too big of a prize for the likes of ExxonMobil, BP, and Shell.

Or viewed another way, the moves to deepen business in Russia suggest that the world’s biggest oil companies are confident that the U.S. and Europe won’t be so bold as to truly attack Russia’s energy machine.

May 28, 2014 Posted by | Economics | , , | 4 Comments

Facebook CEO summoning sheer lies: Iran official

Press TV – May 28, 2014

An Iranian judicial official has categorically denied reports that Facebook co-founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg has been summoned over complaints of privacy violation.

“News published by certain virtual sites suggesting Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has been summoned by [the Iranian ]Justice Ministry’s Fars [Province] Branch is rejected altogether,” said Public Prosecutor of the provincial capital of Shiraz Ali Alqasimehr on Tuesday.

Of course, certain individuals have filed complaints against Facebook for publishing certain images and videos, he further told IRNA.

He also dismissed reports that Facebook-owned WhatsApp and Instagram services have been filtered in Shiraz, saying, “We have had no filtering in that regard so far.”

There are also complaints against the two websites for alleged internet fraud and the release of obscene photos, said the public prosecutor.

Certain media reports on Tuesday claimed that an Iranian judge had summoned the Facebook chief executive to answer allegations that his company’s apps had breached people’s privacy.

May 28, 2014 Posted by | Deception | , , , , | Leave a comment