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North Sinai curfew extended by 3 months

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North Sinai police station – Photo by Virginie Nguyen
By Omar Ryad | Mada Masr | January 25, 2015

The government has extended a curfew in North Sinai by three months, citing ongoing security concerns in the region.

The curfew was initially put in place for three months on October 25, after attacks on military checkpoints that killed more than 30 security personnel.

It was set to expire Sunday, but the Cabinet elected to extend it for an additional three months, Cabinet Spokesperson Hossam al-Qawish said during a telephone interview with private satellite channel CBC extra.

Qawish said that the ongoing unrest in the region convinced the government that the curfew and other security operations need to continue.

The curfew is now set to expire April 25.

It was originally imposed from 5 pm to 7 am each day, with anyone outside during curfew at risk of being shot or arrested. It has cut short working hours and transformed North Sinai’s cities into ghost towns.

In December, the hours were reduced in some parts of North Sinai to run from 7 pm to 6 am, after a meeting between President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and tribal elders in Sinai.

However, area residents told a Mada Masr correspondent in Arish that the curfew still remains a significant hardship.

Forcing businesses to close early has pushed the city into a general state of recession and increased robbery and thuggery, area residents say.

Instead of keeping crime down, residents say the checkpoints that implement the curfew “only protect themselves,” in addition to increasing the numbers of random arrests.

Crimes against property are not the biggest problem, says Arish resident Abu Abdallah al-Tarabeen. “We can handle all of this if it is for the general wellbeing, but what we cannot stand are the large numbers of dead bodies, reaching around 50 bodies, left out for over two years in the isolated northern areas in Rafah and Sheikh Zuwayed,” he said, referring to a mass grave site in Arish.

A report released Saturday by the Ambulance Authority said that eleven bodies were buried around the grave site Tarabeen refers to, making it difficult for the authorities to process remains for burial or autopsies. According to Tarabeen, the 50 bodies were all killed by live ammunition in previous clashes.

Further inflaming tensions, on January 22 a family was shot minutes after the curfew was imposed at 7 pm.

Over the past months, soldiers have generally allowed a 30-minute grace period for employees, children and families to make their way home from the local market, but on that day, soldiers manning the checkpoint declared the grace period was no longer in effect and opened fire on civilians in the street.

One man was reportedly shot at while on the way home from buying wedding dresses for his three daughters. His wife and other relatives were also hit, and had to be transferred to intensive care.

The military has also evacuated and demolished homes in Rafah as part of a planned buffer zone along Egypt’s border with the Gaza Strip.

January 25, 2015 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Subjugation - Torture | , | Leave a comment

EU’s bailout program for Greece ‘dead’ – Syriza economist

RT | January 26, 2015

The bailout program, which the outgoing Greek government signed with the EU, is dead and will be renegotiated, Yiannis Milios, chief economy policy maker at the leftist anti-austerity party Syriza said after it won the country’s parliamentary election.

European Union Finance Ministers are scheduled to meet in Davos on Monday, but Milios said that Greece’s current finance minister, Gikas Hardouvelis, will attend the gathering only to “close pending cases of technical matters.”

“This program, which was agreed by Mr. Hardouvelis as representative of Mr. Samaras, is now dead,” he explained.

Syriza won over 36 percent of the vote on Sunday, forcing New Democracy – the party of Greek prime minister – Antonis Samaras, to settle for second with 28 percent.

Celebrating the victory, the party’s leader Alexis Tsipras announced to the cheering crowd that the era of ‘Troika’ debt inspectors is “over” for Greece.

“This is a historic victory of the Greek people. A new page has turned. It is a historic moment for the entire Europe. We turn a new page in our country. The Greek people take their future into their own hands,” Milios was also cited by ANA-MPA news agency.

The majority of Greek voters entered the election angry at the Samaras’s government for agreeing to the terms of 240 billion euro EU bailout, which included the severe cuts and tax hikes.

Syriza blamed austerity for deepening Greek recession, which pushed one third of the country’s population into poverty.

Before the vote, the leftist party’s leader, Alexis Tsipras, said that the terms of the bailout program must be renegotiated to give Greek economy more breathing space.

According to Milios, Syriza will form “the government of national salvation, is the government that will promote, defend and consolidate the interests of social majority but, at the same time, it is not just a message.”

Syriza has become the first anti-austerity party to form a government in Europe, with a Syriza economist saying that “it is the beginning of a major change for the entire” continent.

“Europe cannot continue with the deflation, recession, the rising unemployment and excessive debt. Greece leads the way, our country, our people are the pioneers of a huge change. We are all very emotional and happy,” he added.

READ MORE:

Greece’s anti-austerity Syriza party officially wins parliamentary elections

January 25, 2015 Posted by | Economics | , , , | 2 Comments

Anti-austerity Syriza wins Greek parliamentary election: Exit polls

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Leader of Greece’s left-wing Syriza party, Alexis Tsipras, casts his ballot at a polling station in Athens, January 25, 2015
Press TV – January 25, 2015

Exit polls show anti-austerity party, Syriza, has won Greece’s general election, which can affect the course of austerity policies in the European country.

The exit polls announced on Sunday suggest that the radical leftist party, Syriza, has won some 35.5 percent of the votes in the Greek parliamentary election.

The sweeping victory would enable the party to rule on its own, obviating the necessity of forming a collation with other smaller parties.

This is while Prime Minister Antonis Samaras’ conservative party, New Democracy, has secured around 25 percent.

Syriza is a fierce opponent of Greece’s bailout deal with the International Monetary Fund and eurozone countries, and has vowed to reconsider the austerity measures that have caused mounting dissatisfaction in the country.

The polls showed that the leftist party’s popularity has increased by 25 percent in the last seven years of the spiraling financial collapse.

Samaras had earlier warned that it would be crazy to elect Syriza as it “will turn all of Europe against Greece…. They don’t understand Europe, they don’t believe in Europe.”

Greece nearly went bankrupt in 2010. It survived, however, on international rescue packages. Athens has received 240 billion euros (USD 330 billion) in international loans in return for the enforcement of austerity measures.

January 25, 2015 Posted by | Economics | , , | 1 Comment

Freed prisoner in serious condition at East Jerusalem hospital

Ma’an – 25/01/2015

JERUSALEM – Jaafar Awad, a young Palestinian man who was released last Wednesday from Israeli custody due to serious health troubles after a year of interrogation, was transferred Friday to Augusta Victoria Hospital in East Jerusalem from a Hebron facility.

His parents, who escort him day and night, say his situation is worsening daily and he can’t speak or move.

Awad is attached to a breathing machine. His father told Ma’an reporter that Jaafar started to suffer after an injection he was given at a clinic in Israel’s Eshel prison six months ago. After that treatment, added the father, Jaafar started to have vision troubles in his left eye as well as diabetes, thyroid swelling and severe pulmonary inflammation.

“After his health conditions deteriorated seriously, a hearing was held at Ofer court and the court decided to release him after he was interrogated for 15 months,” the father told Ma’an.

He added that lawyer Jawad Bolous pleaded on behalf of his son and that the Israeli court decided that the decision included a fine of 40,000 shekels as well as a suspended sentence of 18 month to be dismissed after 5 years. The fine was paid by the Palestinian Authority.

“The judge told me that the court decided to release Jaafar because he was in a serious condition.”

The father explained that Jaafar was detained from his family home in November 2013. He was interrogated in Ashkelon and Eshel detention centers for 21 days and was accused of creating an armed cell and buying a vehicle with the intention to use it for running over Israeli soldiers in the Gush Etzion area.

Jaafar was in good health before he was detained and had been studying at the Modern University College in Ramallah, added his father, who added that his son had no prior health problems.

“Six months ago, he had fever and was taken to a clinic in Eshel prison where he was given a shot after which his health condition started to deteriorate day after day. He once fainted and was taken to Assaf Harofeh Hospital and recently he was taken to Ramla prison hospital. He has already lost 31 kilos.”

“Jaafar has been assassinated silently and slowly,” added his father, alleging that Ramla prison hospital isn’t a hospital but rather “an execution chamber for our kids.”

Jaafar had been detained in 2009 and served 30 months in Israeli custody before he joined college in Ramallah, his father says.

January 25, 2015 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , | 1 Comment

Palestinian arrested in night raid on his family’s home

International Solidarity Movement |  January 25, 2015

Bruqin, Occupied Palestine – At around 4:00 AM on January 23, Israeli forces arrested 22-year-old Raja Sabra in the course of a violent raid on his family’s home in the Palestinian village of Bruqin.

His father was awakened by noises coming from outside. Twenty to thirty Israeli soldiers had surrounded the house, advancing past the gate to the family’s door. Soldiers broke the metal door open.

DSC08276 bruqin door

Israeli forces entered the house and forced all the women into one room and the men into another. Ten family members were present, including three young children. Some soldiers were masked and acted extremely aggressive. No soldiers gave any explanation to the family members, and when asked why they were there, they yelled at the family to “shut up and be quiet!”

The soldiers searched the house, turning over furniture and opening all the drawers and chests, destroying the family’s possessions including a dining room chair. One soldier stole about 3000 to 4000 NIS (about 750 to 1000 USD) from inside the drawer of the bedside table. The soldiers also took the hard-drive of the family computer, and Raja’s laptop and cellphone before arresting him.

bruqin bedroom

The raid lasted about an hour. Before the soldiers left they arrested Raja, without giving any reason or details about the where they were taking him or for how long. “Where are you bringing Raja?” his pregnant sister-in-law asked the soldiers. In answer, she had a gun pointed at her was ordered to sit down and be quiet. Soldiers responded to any attempt to talk to them with similar aggression. When Raja’s brother tried to find out information about what was happening, a soldier stomped on his foot with his heavy military boots. The children started to cry from fear. The soldiers left with Raja, scratching the family´s car with their guns as they left.

The Salfit-area village of Bruqin lies next to the illegal Israeli settlement of Barqan. About two years ago, people from Bruqin held a demonstration against the settlement, which is constantly expanding, illegally claiming more land and destroying the land of Palestinian farmers. One night after the demonstration, approximately 100 Israeli soldiers invaded Bruqin, raiding thirteen 13 homes and arresting 12 teenagers. According to a village resident, after this incident Bruqin had been relatively quiet and rarely subject to military incursions.

One day before the January 23 raid, Israeli military vehicles entered the center of Bruqin in the late evening. They maintained their presence for numerous hours before leaving. The military’s raid on the Sabra family’s home was the first the family had ever been subjected to. Raja, a student taking his final year of Civil Engineering at An-Najah National University, had never been previously arrested or detained by Israeli forces. The family hopes a human rights organization can help to find Raja, and that he will be released soon. One day after the incident, they still had not heard anything about where Raja is being detained, or for how long.

Photos by ISM

January 25, 2015 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , | 1 Comment

NYT Is Lost in Its Ukraine Propaganda

By Robert Parry | Consortium News | January 24, 2015

In late February, a conference is scheduled in New York City to discuss the risk of nuclear war if computers reach the level of artificial intelligence and take decisions out of human hands. But there is already the old-fashioned danger of nuclear war, started by human miscalculation, fed by hubris and propaganda.

That possible scenario is playing out in Ukraine, where the European Union and the United States provoked a political crisis on Russia’s border in November 2013, then backed a coup d’etat in February 2014 and have presented a one-sided account of the ensuing civil war, blaming everything on Russia.

Possibly the worst purveyor of this Cold War-style propaganda has been the New York Times, which has given its readers a steady diet of biased reporting and analysis, including now accusing the Russians for a resurgence in the fighting.

One way the Times has falsified the Ukraine narrative is by dating the origins of the crisis to several months after the crisis actually began. So, the lead story in Saturday’s editions ignored the actual chronology of events and started the clock with the appearance of Russian troops in Crimea in spring 2014.

The Times article by Rick Lyman and Andrew E. Kramer said: “A shaky cease-fire has all but vanished, with rebel leaders vowing fresh attacks. Civilians are being hit by deadly mortars at bus stops. Tanks are rumbling down snowy roads in rebel-held areas with soldiers in unmarked green uniforms sitting on their turrets, waving at bystanders — a disquieting echo of the ‘little green men’ whose appearance in Crimea opened this stubborn conflict in the spring.”

In other words, the story doesn’t start in fall 2013 with the extraordinary U.S. intervention in Ukrainian political affairs – spearheaded by American neocons, such as National Endowment for Democracy president Carl Gershman, Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland and Sen. John McCain – nor with the U.S.-backed coup on Feb. 22, 2014, which ousted elected President Viktor Yanukovych and put one of Nuland’s chosen leaders, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, in as Prime Minister.

No, because if that history were included, Times readers might actually have a chance for a balanced understanding of this unnecessary tragedy. For propaganda purposes, it is better to start the cameras rolling only after the people of Crimea voted overwhelmingly to secede from the failed state of Ukraine and rejoin Russia.

Except the Times won’t reference the lopsided referendum or the popular will of the Crimean people. It’s better to pretend that Russian troops – the “little green men” – just invaded Crimea and conquered the place against the people’s will.

Which leads you to the next paragraph of the Times story: “The renewed fighting has dashed any hopes of reinvigorating a cease-fire signed in September [2014] and honored more in name than in fact since then. It has also put to rest the notion that Russia’s president, Vladimir V. Putin, would be so staggered by the twin blows of Western sanctions and a collapse in oil prices that he would forsake the separatists in order to foster better relations with the West.”

That last point gets us to the danger of human miscalculation driven by hubris. The key error committed by the EU and compounded by the U.S. was to assume that a brazen bid to get Ukraine to repudiate its longtime relationship with Russia and to bring Ukraine into the NATO alliance would not prompt a determined Russian reaction.

Russia sees the prospect of NATO military forces and their nuclear weapons on its borders as a grave strategic threat, especially with Kiev in the hands of rabid right-wing politicians, including neo-Nazis, who regard Russia as a historic enemy. Confronted with such a danger – especially with thousands of ethnic Russians inside Ukraine being slaughtered – it was a near certainty that Russia’s leaders would not succumb meekly to Western sanctions and demands.

Yet, as long as the United States remains in thrall to the propagandistic narrative that the New York Times and other U.S. mainstream media outlets have spun, President Barack Obama will almost surely continue to ratchet up the tensions. To do otherwise would open Obama to accusations of “weakness.”

A Swaggering West

During his State of the Union address, Obama mostly presented himself as a peacemaker, but his one major deviation was when he crowed about the suffering that U.S.-organized sanctions had inflicted on Russia, whose economy, he boasted, was “in tatters.”

So, with the West swaggering and Russia facing what it considers a grave strategic threat, it’s not hard to imagine how the crisis in Ukraine could escalate into a violent clash between NATO and Russian forces with the possibility of further miscalculation bringing nuclear weapons into play.

There’s no sign that the New York Times has any regrets about becoming a crude propaganda outlet, but just in case someone is listening inside “the newspaper of record,” let’s reprise the actual narrative of the Ukraine crisis. It began not last spring, as the Times would have you believe, but rather in fall 2013 when President Yanukovych was evaluating the cost of an EU association agreement if it required an economic break with Russia.

This part of the narrative was well explained by Der Spiegel, the German newsmagazine, even though it has generally taken a harshly anti-Russian line. But, in a retrospective piece published a year after the crisis began, Der Spiegel acknowledged that EU and German leaders were guilty of miscalculations that contributed to the civil war in Ukraine, particularly by under-appreciating the enormous financial costs to Ukraine if it broke its historic ties to Russia.

In November 2013, Yanukovych learned from experts at the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine that the total cost to the country’s economy from severing its business connections to Russia would be around $160 billion, 50 times the $3 billion figure that the EU had estimated, Der Spiegel reported.

The figure stunned Yanukovych, who pleaded for financial help that the EU couldn’t provide, the magazine said. Western loans would have to come from the International Monetary Fund, which was demanding painful “reforms” of Ukraine’s economy, structural changes that would make the hard lives of average Ukrainians even harder, including raising the price of natural gas by 40 percent and devaluing Ukraine’s currency, the hryvnia, by 25 percent.

With Putin offering a more generous aid package of $15 billion, Yanukovych backed out of the EU agreement but told the EU’s Eastern Partnership Summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, on Nov. 28, 2013, that he was willing to continue negotiating. German Chancellor Angela Merkel responded with “a sentence dripping with disapproval and cool sarcasm aimed directly at the Ukrainian president. ‘I feel like I’m at a wedding where the groom has suddenly issued new, last minute stipulations,” according to Der Spiegel’s chronology of the crisis.

After the collapse of the EU deal, U.S. neocons went to work on one more “regime change” – this time in Ukraine – using the popular disappointment in western Ukraine over the failed EU agreement as a way to topple Yanukovych, the constitutionally elected president whose political base was in eastern Ukraine.

Assistant Secretary of State Nuland, a prominent neocon holdover who advised Vice President Dick Cheney, passed out cookies to anti-Yanukovych demonstrators at the Maidan Square in Kiev and reminded Ukrainian business leaders that the United States had invested $5 billion in their “European aspirations.”

Sen. McCain, who seems to want war pretty much everywhere, joined Ukrainian rightists onstage at the Maidan urging on the protests, and Gershman’s U.S.-funded National Endowment for Democracy deployed its Ukrainian political/media operatives in support of the disruptions. As early as September 2013, the NED president had identified Ukraine as “the biggest prize” and an important step toward toppling Putin in Russia. [See Consortiumnews.com’sNeocons’ Ukraine-Syria-Iran Gambit.”]

By early February 2014, Nuland was telling U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt “fuck the EU” and discussing how to “glue this thing” as she handpicked who the new leaders of Ukraine would be; “Yats is the guy,” she said about Arseniy Yatsenyuk.

As violent disorders at the Maidan grew worse – with well-organized neo-Nazi militias hurling firebombs at police – the State Department and U.S. news media blamed Yanukovych. On Feb. 20, when mysterious snipers – apparently firing from positions controlled by the neo-Nazi Right Sektor – shot to death police officers and protesters, the situation spun out of control – and the American press again blamed Yanukovych.

Though Yanukovych signed a Feb. 21 agreement with three European countries accepting reduced powers and early elections, that was not enough for the coup-makers. On Feb. 22, a putsch, spearheaded by neo-Nazi militias, forced Yanukovych and his officials to flee for their lives.

Remarkably, however, when the Times pretended to review this history in a January 2015 article, the Times ignored the extraordinary evidence of a U.S.-backed coup – including the scores of NED political projects, McCain’s cheerleading and Nuland’s plotting. The Times simply informed its readers that there was no coup. [See Consortiumnews.com’sNYT Still Pretends No Coup in Ukraine.”]

But the Times’ propaganda on Ukraine is not just wretched journalism, it is also a dangerous ingredient in what could become a nuclear confrontation, if Americans come to believe a false narrative and thus go along with more provocative actions by their political leaders who, in turn, might feel compelled to act tough because otherwise they’d be attacked as “soft.”

In other words, even without computers seizing control of man’s nuclear weapons, man himself might blunder into a nuclear Armageddon, driven not by artificial intelligence but a lack of the human kind.

~

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com).

January 25, 2015 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism | , , , | 2 Comments

Foreign Secretary refused to intervene for Brit rendered to Ethiopia

Reprieve | January 25, 2015

The Foreign Secretary refused to contact the Ethiopian government to protest its abduction of a British man, it’s emerged, despite warnings from Foreign Office (FCO) staff that the man was at risk of execution.

Andargachew ‘Andy’ Tsege, a father of three from London, was abducted in Yemen and rendered to Ethiopia seven months ago today. Mr Tsege, who is a prominent critic of the Ethiopian government, remains in incommunicado detention. The Ethiopian government has refused to reveal his whereabouts, or confirm whether it plans to carry out a death sentence imposed in absentia in 2009.

Internal FCO emails obtained through subject access requests by Mr Tsege’s family show that UK officials were extremely concerned that he would be mistreated or executed – but that despite this, nearly a month after the incident, the Foreign Secretary declined requests to intervene in his case.

An internal email sent by senior FCO staff several days after Mr Tsege’s disappearance says: “I think we should be aiming for a Ministerial call asap, given concerns about welfare and the DP [death penalty]… we should be raising at senior levels and getting in Ministerial follow-up (letter or call) asap to make clear how unhappy we are about this.”

A separate message suggested there should be consequences at “a UK citizen being kidnapped and returned against his will to a country which has passed two death sentences on him. A country which is in receipt of vast quantities of UK development assistance. Don’t we need to do more than give them a stern talking to?”

A number of urgent internal FCO messages asked the incoming Foreign Secretary Phillip Hammond to contact the Ethiopian Foreign Minister in the days following the incident, the documents show. However, Mr Hammond’s office rebuffed the requests, saying: “we’ve also had a request from [Foreign Minister] Tedros’ office for an introductory call with the Foreign Secretary, but I don’t think we are going to be able to find time for that at the moment. […] On this letter, I’m nervous about asking the Foreign Secretary to sign something so negative in his first correspondence”.

The FCO has told lawyers for Mr Tsege’s family at human rights charity Reprieve that the UK Government has no grounds to challenge the legality of his removal from Ethiopia.

Maya Foa, director of Reprieve’s death penalty team, said: “It is clear that those working for the Foreign Secretary know how perilous the situation is for Andy Tsege. They know that Andy has committed no crime, that his extradition was probably unlawful, and that there are grave risks to his safety. What’s shocking is that the Foreign Secretary appears time and time again to have blocked any meaningful action that could potentially bring this British father home to his family, unharmed. Andy has now been held in solitary and incommunicado detention for over seven months, under sentence of death. One has to question what interests the Foreign Secretary is putting above the life and safety of his citizen, when all those around him are calling for him to do more.”

January 25, 2015 Posted by | Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , | 2 Comments