Newscast Media DAMASCUS—President Bashar al-Assad said on Thursday Syria would attend Geneva peace talks with the opposition in principle but any deal that was struck would have to be approved by referendum. Asked whether Syria had any preconditions for attendance at the talks, Assad told Lebanon’s al-Manar television: “The only condition is that anything to be implemented will be submitted to Syrian public opinion and a Syrian referendum.”
“We will attend this conference as the official delegation and legitimate representatives of the Syrian people,” he said.
“In principle, we are in favor of the conference as a notion, but there are no details yet,” Assad added.
“For example, will there be conditions placed before the conference? If so, these conditions may be unacceptable and we would not attend. So the idea of the conference, of a meeting, in principle is a good one. We will have to wait and see.”
Russia and Syria’s Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem both said in recent days that Assad had agreed “in principle” to participate in the peace conference, but the Syrian opposition demanded to hear the confirmation from Assad himself.
However, the opposition, as represented by the so-called Syrian National Coalition, pulled out of the peace conference on Thursday. In his interview, Assad made sure to clarify that his government was not attending to negotiate with the opposition.
“As for the opposition groups abroad and their flag, we know that we are attending the conference not to negotiate with them, but rather with the states that back them,” he said. “It will appear as though we are negotiating with the slaves, but essentially we are negotiating with their masters. This is the truth, we shouldn’t deceive ourselves.”
The peace conference decisions came as Assad claimed to have received a shipment of S-300 air-defense missiles from Russia, which is planning the conference with the U.S. On Tuesday, Russia said that it would go ahead with the delivery of S-300 missiles to Syria, noting that the deal would help deter foreign intervention in the country.
The S-300 anti-aircraft system is designed to defend large industrial and administrative centers, army bases, and similar facilities and is capable of destroying ballistic missiles. The most recent modifications of the system can shoot down hostile missiles or aircraft up to 200 kilometers (125 miles) away.
Israel has repeatedly asked Russia to scrap the contract to sell Syria the truck-mounted S-300 missile system. However, Russia has insisted that it will deliver the S-300 missile system to Syria. Earlier this month, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu traveled to Russia to try to dissuade Moscow from delivering the S-300s to Syria.
In the interview, Assad also said that he is “very confident” his troops will defeat foreign-backed militants in the country, adding that Syria will respond to any possible future Israeli attacks.
“There is a world war being waged against Syria and the policy of (anti-Israeli) resistance … (but) we are very confident of victory,” he noted.
Assad also said that there was “popular pressure” to open a military front against Israel on the Golan Heights, which Israel has occupied since 1967.
“There are several factors, including repeated Israeli aggression,” he said, referring to Israeli air strikes on Syria.
“We have informed all the parties who have contacted us that we will respond to any Israeli aggression next time,” he said.
On May 5, Syria said the Israeli regime had carried out an airstrike targeting a research center in a suburb of Damascus, following heavy losses of al-Qaeda-affiliated groups at the hands of the Syrian army. According to Syrian media reports, Israeli rockets struck the Jamraya Research Center. The Jamraya facility was also targeted in an Israeli airstrike in January.
The May 5 attack came shortly after Tel Aviv confirmed that its warplanes had hit another target in Syria on May 3. Assad said he would seek reelection if the Syrian people want him to contest the 2014 presidential election.
“This question will be decided at the given moment. If I feel there is any need for my candidacy, and that will be decided after consulting the people, I will not hesitate to stand,” AFP quoted Assad as saying in an interview broadcast by the Lebanese television Al-Manar on Thursday.
“But if I feel that the Syrian people does not want it… I will not stand,” he added. Earlier in the day, Syria’s Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem said that Assad will remain president at least until scheduled elections in 2014 and might seek another term in office.
“From now until the next elections, President Bashar Assad is president of the Syrian Arab Republic,” he said.
“Will Assad run in 2014 or not? This depends on the circumstances in 2014 and on the popular will. If the people want him to run, he will run. If the people don’t want that, I don’t think he will. Let us not jump the gun,” Muallem added.
The Syria crisis began in March 2011, and many people, including large numbers of soldiers and security personnel, have been killed in the violence. 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 militants are foreign nationals.
Damascus says the West and its regional allies, such as Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey, are supporting the militants.
Source: Tehran Times
Newscast Media MOSCOW—Russia accused the foreign-backed Syrian opposition of hindering peace talks aimed at ending the current crisis in the Arab country, describing its conditions to take part in the international peace conference as impossible to fulfill.
“We are under the impression that the National Coalition and its regional sponsors are doing everything so as not to allow the start of the political process and achieve military intervention in Syria through any means possible,” Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told reporters.
“These demands are impossible to fulfill,” Lavrov said, as he reiterated Russia’s concerns that the opposition in Syria was fractured and did not have a single leader. “The only thing that unites them is a demand of Bashar al Assad’s immediate departure.”
Earlier on Wednesday, the so-called National Coalition, the bloc which has been since last Thursday in Istanbul to discuss whether it will take part or not in the peace conference, said that any negotiations with the Syrian government should lead to the resignation of President Bashar al-Assad.
“I hope that there will be sensible forces among the Americans and Europeans who will be able to rein in those who condone these absolutely unacceptable aggressive approaches of the National Coalition and who try to make this coalition look like the only structure with which the Syrian government should talk,” Lavrov added.
by Jon Campbell
Newscast Media WASHINGTON—Obamacare starts in 2014, however, it has now been revealed that a majority of Americans oppose the Affordable Care Act, which was passed in 2010. With Obamacare private health insurance will become a requirement for all employed U.S. citizens. However, according to a new CNN-ORC Intl poll released this week, 54 percent of Americans do not want Obamacare implemented. The CNN poll was conducted by ORC International, and surveyed 923 adults in the United States by phone on May 17 and 18.
The survey revealed that 35 percent of Americans were opposed to Obamacare because it is too liberal, and a further 16 percent opposed it but this time because they felt it was not liberal enough.
Just 16 percent Republican-leaning respondents said they favored Obamacare, which stands in stark contrast to Democratic-leaning respondents with nearly three-quarters backing government-controlled health care.
Obamacare requires most American citizens to obtain health insurance. It will expand the availability of coverage by expanding Medicaid eligibility and will require that large employers provide coverage to their employees.
Obamacare requires most American citizens to obtain health insurance. It will expand the availability of coverage by expanding Medicaid eligibility and will require that large employers provide coverage to their employees.
CNN polling director Keating Holland explained the results of the recent poll, stating:
“A majority of younger Americans favor the new health care law; support among other age groups falls as low as 31 percent among senior citizens. Only a third of whites support the law, compared to six in 10 nonwhites. Obamacare also wins majority support in urban areas and in the Northeast, the bluest region of the country.”
Holland added that one of the major issues right now is that health insurance companies “don’t know what their costs will be next year. So they’re guessing.
They’re guessing who will enter the exchanges. They’re guessing who will choose to buy their coverage. They’re guessing whether healthy, young people will obey the individual mandate or pay the penalty. They’re guessing what price they’ll need to be competitive against other insurers, given differences in the networks, benefits, etc. But as they’ll admit to you with a bit of anxiety, they really are just guessing.”
Newscast Media TAIPEI—Newspaper reports in the US have indicated that US consumer electronics giant Apple is about to decrease its dependence on contract company Foxconn. A low-cost iPhone will be produced by a competitor.
“The Wall Street Journal” on Thursday confirmed an earlier online report, saying that Apple was aiming to lessen its dependence on Foxconn in Taiwan by enlisting Pegatron to assemble a low-cost iPhone it was planning to market.
Pegatron is based in Taipei and was only founded in 2008 and by 2011 had become a minor producer of iPhones. The company, which has a workforce of 100,000 in Taiwan and China, also started making iPad Mini tablets last year.
Foxconn for its part has so far held a position of cranking out nearly all of Apple’s iPhones and iPad tablet computers. Apple CEO Tim Cook is now seen as moving to diversify the supply chain.
“The Wall Street Journal” said the California-based consumer electronics giant praised Pegatron for accepting a smaller profit in return for Apple’s business contract. Foxconn with a workforce of over one million had frequently been in the headlines over poor working conditions at its production facilities, resulting suicides, and had recently been forced to increase wages several times, making production processes more expensive.
While Apple’s decision to opt for Pegatron will hurt Foxconn, the contract firm has a very diversified portfolio with a wide range of orders from Sony, Nokia and others.
Newscast Media WASHINGTON—US prosecutors have filed an indictment against the operators of the digital currency exchange Liberty Reserve, for laundering billions to criminals, calling it perhaps the biggest money laundering scheme in US history. Federal prosecutors charged seven people with running a currency transfer and payment processing company that helped criminals around the world launder more than $6 billion (4.6 billion euros) in illegal funds.
The case is aimed at Costa Rica-based online bank Liberty Reserve, which authorities say processed 55 million illicit transactions worldwide for 1 million users over the last seven years, with practically all of its business related to suspected criminal activity.
Announcing the indictment, US Attorney Preet Bharara called the case perhaps “the largest international money laundering case ever brought by the United States.”
The network “became the bank of choice for the criminal underworld,” Bharara said. According to the indictment, “Liberty Reserve has emerged as one of the principal means by which cyber-criminals around the world distribute, store and launder the proceeds of their illegal activity… including credit card fraud, identity theft, investment fraud, computer hacking, child pornography and narcotics trafficking.”
A corrupt global network
Liberty Reserve allowed users to open accounts using fictitious names and basic, unconfirmed, personal information.
“The coin of the realm was anonymity,” Bharara said. “It was the opposite of a know-your-customer policy.”
Liberty Reserve’s currency unit was called the “LR,” and once a user had a Liberty Reserve account, cash could be used to purchase LRs from third-party exchange merchants. Users could then transfer the digital currency LR units to each other, to be used in different parts of the world for cash using the third party exchange merchants.
Officials said five people in Spain, Costa Rica and New York were arrested in connection to the indictment on Friday, including the company’s founder, Arthur Budovsky.
Budovsky, a Ukranian-born former American citizen, had already pleaded guilty to US charges of operating an illegal financial services firm out of New York. The use of digital currency has expanded over the past decade and has been flaunted by some investors as the future of money.
According to court papers, Liberty Reserve also appears to have played a role in laundering proceeds from the recent theft of $45 million from two Middle Eastern banks.
Source: Deutsche Welle
Newscast Media WASHINGTON—The administration of US President Barack Obama has called on the Pentagon to draw up plans to impose no-fly zones over Syria, according to Press TV. Two unidentified Obama administration officials told The Daily Beast in a report published on Tuesday that the White House request was made just before US Secretary of State John Kerry started his Middle East tour last week.
The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to reporters, said that Obama is pursuing a “dual-track strategy” of making efforts towards a political solution to the two-year crisis in Syria while simultaneously preparing plans for military intervention.
“The White House is still in contemplation mode but the planning is moving forward and it’s more advanced than it’s ever been,” said one official.
All this meant to find a political solution, stated the official, adding “but what happens if Geneva fails? It’s only prudent to plan for other options.”
On Sunday, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem said the government of President Bashar al-Assad will participate in an international peace conference on the Syrian crisis that is likely to take place in Geneva in June.
At a meeting in Moscow on May 7, Russia and the United States reached an agreement to convene an international conference on Syria, which would serve as a follow-up to an earlier Geneva meeting held in June 2012.
The Syria crisis began in March 2011, and many people, including large numbers of soldiers and security personnel, have been killed in the violence.
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 militants are foreign nationals.
Assad said on May 23, “Syria is determined to tackle terrorism and those who support it regionally and globally, and to find a political solution to the crisis.”
Newscast Media ADDIS ABABA—The African Union (AU) has lashed out at the International Criminal Court (ICC) for targeting Africans on a racial basis, according to Press TV reports.
“African leaders have come to a consensus that the [ICC] process that has been conducted in Africa has a flaw,” AU Chair and Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn told reporters on the sidelines of the 21st AU summit in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, on Monday.
“The intention was to avoid any kind of impunity … but now the process has degenerated to some kind of race hunting,” he added.
On Friday, African foreign ministers agreed to draft a proposal to request the ICC to drop crimes against humanity cases against Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and his compatriots at The Hague and refer them back to Kenya.
Kenyatta is accused by the ICC of crimes against humanity for violence related to the 2007 election, and he is scheduled to be tried at The Hague in July.
More than 1,000 Kenyans were killed and 600,000 forced to leave their homes following the disputed 2007 vote.
African countries also agreed to establish a joint rapid reaction force to deal with regional security emergencies. The decision is aimed at reducing the continent’s reliance on external forces and funds for defense.
The special force will be formed from voluntary contributions of troops, equipment and funds by member states.
by Leonardo Blair
Newscast Media WASHINGTON—Two former U.S. diplomats are reporting that whistleblowers are getting ready to reveal information that might turn the simmering Benghazi scandal into an explosive fiasco for both former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and President Barack Obama.
According to a PJ Media report, the whistleblowers who are colleagues of the ex-diplomats are now securing lawyers because the areas in which they work aren’t fully covered by the Whistleblower law.
PJ Media also noted that while the information “is largely hearsay…the two diplomats sounded quite credible. One of them was in a position of responsibility in a dangerous area of Iraq in 2004.”
The revelations according to the diplomats will focus on Ambassador Chris Stevens’ real purpose in Benghazi. Ambassador Stevens was killed during a controversial attack on the U.S. consulate on September 11 in Benghazi last year.
“Stevens’ mission in Benghazi, they will say, was to buy back Stinger missiles from al-Qaeda groups issued to them by the State Department, not by the CIA. Such a mission would usually be a CIA effort, but the intelligence agency had opposed the idea because of the high risk involved in arming ‘insurgents’ with powerful weapons that endanger civilian aircraft,” said the report.
However, it continued: “Hillary Clinton still wanted to proceed because, in part, as one of the diplomats said, she wanted ‘to overthrow Gaddafi on the cheap.’” Muammar Gaddafi, the former Libyan leader, was allegedly killed on October 20, 2011.
But according to the report, Clinton’s decision on Gaddafi allegedly “left Stevens in the position of having to clean up the scandalous enterprise when it became clear that the ‘insurgents’ actually were al-Qaeda – indeed, in the view of one of the diplomats, the same group that attacked the consulate and ended up killing Stevens.”
The whistleblowers are also expected to reveal how General Carter Ham, then leader of U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) was pressured not to act to protect jeopardized U.S. personnel in Libya.
“Military contacts of the diplomats tell them that AFRICOM had Special Ops ‘assets in place that could have come to the aid of the Benghazi consulate immediately (not in six hours),’” said the report.
“Ham was told by the White House not to send the aid to the trapped men, but Ham decided to disobey and did so anyway, whereupon the White House ‘called his deputy and had the deputy threaten to relieve Ham of his command.’”
Ham retired quietly in April 2013 as head of AFRICOM.
Newscast Media DALLAS—The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced fraud charges and an asset freeze against a trader at a Dallas-based investment advisory firm who improperly profited by placing his own trades before executing large block trades for firm clients that had strong potential to increase the stock’s price.
The SEC alleges that Daniel Bergin, a senior equity trader at Cushing MLP Asset Management, secretly executed hundreds of trades through his wife’s accounts in a practice known as front running. Bergin illicitly profited by at least $520,000 by routinely purchasing securities in his wife’s accounts earlier the same day he placed much larger orders for the same securities on behalf of firm clients. Bergin concealed is lucrative trading by failing to disclose his wife’s accounts to the firm and avoiding pre-clearance of his trades in those accounts. Bergin also attempted to hide his wife’s accounts from SEC examiners.
“Bergin betrayed the trust of his clients by secretly using information about their trades to gain an unfair trading advantage and reap massive profits for himself,” said Marshall S. Sprung, Deputy Chief of the SEC Enforcement Division’s Asset Management Unit.
According to the SEC’s complaint filed yesterday in federal court in Dallas, many investment advisers to institutions employ traders to manage their exposure to market price risks and place these large client orders in advantageous market centers with sufficient trading quantities that minimize unfavorable price movements against client interests. Bergin is the trader primarily responsible for managing price exposures related to client orders for equity trades.
“Bergin’s misconduct is particularly egregious because his firm depended on him to manage market exposure and risk for its investments. Instead, he pitted his clients’ financial interests against his own,” said David R. Woodcock, Director of the SEC’s Fort Worth Regional Office.
The SEC appreciates the assistance of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Texas and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Newscast Media TEL AVIV—Israeli air force chief warned that a “surprise war” would break out in Syria as tensions are escalating there, saying that the Israel should be prepared for painful and protracted war with Hezbollah and Iran.
“A surprise war could take shape today in many configurations,” Maj. Gen. Amir Eshel said at a strategy conference in Herzliya, near Tel Aviv.
Eshel also said Israelis should brace for a protracted and painful conflict should their forces engage in combat with Hezbollah or Iran.
“If Syria collapses tomorrow, we will need to take action to prevent a strategic looting of advanced weaponry,” he told the Fisher Institute for Air & Space Studies.
“We have to be ready for any scenario, at a few hours’ notice,” Eshel said.
He assumed fighting could escalate on to three fronts at once and require the Israeli air force to employ “the full spectrum of its might”.
He noted that Russian S-300 air defense systems were “on their way” to Syria, though Israel asked Russia not to supply the advanced air defense system to Syria. Tel Aviv has been watching the current crisis taking place in Syria since March 2011.
It has already carried out three air strikes on Syria.
On May 5, Syria said the Israeli regime had carried out an airstrike targeting a research center in a suburb of Damascus, following heavy losses inflicted upon al-Qaeda-affiliated groups by the Syrian army. According to Syrian media reports, the strike hit the Jamraya Research Center. The Jamraya facility had been targeted in another Israeli airstrike in January.
The May 5 Israeli aggression was Tel Aviv’s second strike on Syria in three days.
Source: Al Manar News
Newscast Media LONDON—British Prime Minister David Cameron has said the brutal killing of a soldier by two suspected Islamists was an attack on Britain and its way of life. He has labeled the killing “a betrayal of Islam.”
Cameron spoke on Thursday following the attack the day before, in which a soldier was brutally murdered in broad daylight near army barracks in London, by two men shouting Jihadist slogans.
Cameron held an emergency meeting of his intelligence chiefs to analyze the response to what he has labeled a “terror” attack, which is the first to strike mainland Britain since dozens were killed in London in 2005 by local Islamists.
“We will never give in to terror or terrorism in any of its forms,” Cameron told reporters outside his Downing Street residence.
“This was not just an attack on Britain and on the British way of life, it was also a betrayal of Islam and of the Muslim communities who give so much to our country.
There is nothing in Islam that justifies this truly dreadful act,” Cameron said. On Wednesday May 22, ITV news broadcast footage taken at the scene in which a man carrying a knife and a meat cleaver in his blood-covered hands told the camera:
“We swear by almighty Allah we will never stop fighting you.”
“You people will never be safe. Remove your government. They don’t care about you,” he said.
Both suspects in the attack are in custody after being shot by police.
Source: Radio Deutsche Welle
by Tyler O’Neil
Newscast Media AUSTIN—Texas’ “Merry Christmas Bill,” which is intended to defend free speech on the issue of “traditional holidays,” reached Governor Rick Perry’s desk on Wednesday, and he is expected to sign it despite critics saying that the bill violates the separation between church and state.
Russell Glasser, co-host of the Austin public-access TV show “The Atheist Experience,” in an interview with www.rawstory.com, contends the bill is an offensive tactic by Christians. “They use this as an excuse all the time to pass laws that basically codify Christianity and make sure that everybody hears about it as often as possible,” he said.
“It’s not about freedom of expression,” he argued, “because kids can go around and wish each other ‘Merry Christmas’ all they want.” Instead, this issue centers on “the separation of church and state,” he asserts.
But State Representative Dwayne Bohac of Houston (R, 138), the bill’s original sponsor, told The Christian Post regarding Glassner’s statement, “I think that’s a very stilted overreaction.”
“The bill received the full support of every Democrat and every Republican in the Senate,” and a very large majority in the house.
“It’s freedom of speech,” he explained, “and it’s a religious liberty issue as well.”
The “Merry Christmas Bill,” complete with its own website, www.merrychristmasbill.com, passed the Texas State House of Representatives on May 8 and the State Senate last Friday. The bill is intended “to protect school districts from frivolous lawsuits and teachers and administrators from punishment for calling a Christmas tree a Christmas tree,” Bohac explained.
“This politically correct culture is absurd and it’s absurd that we need this bill.” Nevertheless, he admitted that “it is much needed in order to bring common sense.”
Dave Muscato, public relations director at American Atheists, defined what his group believes are acceptable and unacceptable expressions of religion. “If the school is officially promoting it, that’s unacceptable,” he told CP. “If a student or teacher wants to promote it privately there’s no problem.”
Nevertheless, Muscato feared that the passage of this bill would be seen as a public victory for religion over what he calls equality. “In practice this will probably play out as Christian administrators putting up Christmas trees and nativity scenes at taxpayer expense in public schools with the result of pressuring children into viewing Christianity as an officially sponsored and endorsed practice,” he said.
Seeing no “legitimate secular purpose for this” bill, he opposed it because it might imply “government endorsement and unnecessarily entangles government and religion.”
Despite the atheists’ concerns, Rep. Bohac defended the “Merry Christmas Bill,” saying “it’s permissive – it doesn’t mandate anything.”
Texas Governor Rick Perry told The Christian Post through his spokesperson Josh Havens, “Texas children should not be shielded from religious expression, nor be exposed solely to secularism in our schools.”
“This is a bill that affirms the constitutional notion of freedom of religion – not freedom from religion – and I am happy to support this bill with my signature”.
Newscast Media WASHINGTON—The quickest way to enslave a people or a nation is to keep them in debt. World Bank has pledged $1 billion to the Great Lakes region of Africa, but it is obvious the money will come with strings attached. Something’s got to give. The countries that accept these monies will have to give up something, at some point–be it natural resources, land or reduced prices on agricultural exports.
Libya’s Gaddafi was removed from power because his country was debt-free and he would not accept any money from the IMF or World Bank. Hosni Mubarak has been critical of Egypt’s Mohammed Morsi for accepting a loan from the IMF/World bank.
It is not known, how much this kind of money actually gets to the people who really need it, as opposed to benefiting a handful of the ruling elite at the top of the food chain.
World Bank Group President Dr. Jim Yong Kim, who is traveling with the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, on a three-day trip to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Rwanda, and Uganda, said that a secure and developed Great Lakes region was vital to Africa’s efforts to dramatically reduce extreme poverty and create prosperity for millions who have had little economic opportunity.
“We made extraordinary efforts to secure an additional $1 billion in funding because we believe this can be a major contributor to a lasting peace in the Great Lakes region,” Kim said. “This funding will help revitalize economic development, create jobs, and improve the lives of people who have suffered for far too long. Now the leaders of the Great Lakes region, by restarting economic activity and improving livelihoods in border areas, can boost confidence, build economies, and give new opportunities for millions of people.”
The World Bank’s proposed additional funding includes roughly $100 million for supporting agriculture and rural livelihoods for internally displaced people and refugees in the region; $340 million to support the 80 megawatt Rusumo Falls hydroelectric project for Burundi, Rwanda, and Tanzania; $150 million for the rehabilitation of the Ruzizi I and II hydroelectric projects and financing for Ruzizi III, supplying electricity for Rwanda, Burundi, and DRC; $165 million toward building roads in DRC’s North and South Kivu and Province Orientale; $180 million for improving infrastructure and border management along the Rwanda-DRC border; and additional millions of dollars for public health laboratories, fisheries, and trade facilitation programs among others.
Newscast Media WASHINGTON—The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and a leading wireless technology provider are expanding their collaboration to use technology to improve economic and social development in emerging markets.
Building on several successful projects in Latin America and Asia, USAID and Qualcomm Inc. signed an agreement that aims to help close the mobile phone gender gap, expand access to broadband, enhance education outcomes, mitigate the negative impacts of climate change, improve information access for front-line health workers, connect small-scale farmers and producers to market data, and enable entrepreneurs to grow their companies by leveraging digital literacy skills.
“USAID is proud to work with Qualcomm. As a global technology leader, they are innovative, nimble and strategic. We share a vision of how to address the challenges in the developing world. Qualcomm has helped us design solutions that make our joint efforts go further,” USAID Deputy Administrator Donald Steinberg said at a ceremony held at USAID.
USAID and Qualcomm have worked together on three successful collaborations:
• Brazil: The Fishing with 3G Nets project has provided small-scale fishermen in Bahia with mobile devices and customized applications to help them practice sustainable fishing, connect with buyers, track sales, access technical assistance, and receive weather and navigation updates.
• El Salvador: USAID and Qualcomm collaborated to develop a wireless mobile and web-based crime system that enables law enforcement in five municipalities to track, report and analyze real-time crime data.
• Philippines: The Wireless Access for Health project established an electronic medical record platform in rural and provincial health clinics that has led to more efficient patient care, having reduced the four to five minutes needed to search paper records to just seconds.
“Given the increasing complexity of the local and global social challenges the world faces, public-private partnerships such as this one with USAID become essential to creating both social and business value,” said Nathan Fletcher, senior director of corporate development at Qualcomm.
Source: State Department
Newscast Media DAMASCUS—US Secretary of State John Kerry admitted on Wednesday the Syrian Army had achieved great gains in the northern border city of Qusayr, but said they were not permanent. Ahead of a meeting of the so-called ‘Friends of Syria’ group in Amman, Kerry called on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to make “a commitment to find peace in his country.”
In the same context, Kerry threatened if President Assad was unwilling to negotiate on peace terms, U.S. and other countries would discuss increasing support to Syrian opposition, without elaborating what kind of support they would offer.
US Congress committee voted on Wednesday on a bill to arm Syrian Islamists in their fight against the Arab country.
Speaking at a press conference with his Jordanian counterpart, Nasser Judeh, Kerry said a US-Russian proposed conference in Geneva seeks “to end the bloodshed what has cost tens of thousands of lives.”
“We are committed to try to work this evening to find the unity in specific approaches, to find the unity to implement Geneva 1…that will allow the people of Syria to choose the future of Syria,” he said.
That was a reference to an international conference last June in which several steps were laid down for ending the war, which were never implemented. The foreign ministers of Britain, Egypt, France, Germany, Italy, Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates and the United States are attending the Amman gathering.
The meeting seeks to discuss US-Russian proposal to hold a peace conference dubbed “Geneva 2″ to bring together the opposition and representatives of the Syrian government.
Newscast Media OKLAHOMA CITY—Nearly 250 members of the Oklahoma National Guard are assisting with victim search and security after a massive tornado struck Moore, Okla. First responders continued look for survivors so as to estimate the number of dead after a tornado ripped through southern Oklahoma City and other towns a day earlier.
Newscast Media WASHINGTON—According to a statement released by the UN spokesperson Eduardo del Buey, the UN Organization Stabilization Mission in DRC (MONUSCO), expressed on Monday the organization’s concerns about clashes in Congo, stressing “the mission is actively pursuing a diplomatic and political solution to contain and end the clashes.”
According to Press TV, the statement also said that heavy weapons and rocket launchers were used in the clashes.
“The Mission reports that initial skirmishes escalated to the use of heavy
caliber weapons, mortars and rocket launchers,” the statement said.
Monday morning, Congolese soldiers clashed with the March 23 Movement (M23) rebels for the first time in nearly six months since the rebels retreated from the city of Goma, the capital of North Kivu province.
Fighting began after the M23 rebels attacked government positions around 10 kilometers (6 miles) north of the mineral-rich city, according to army spokesman Olivier Hamuli.
The fighting comes after the UN began deploying an attack force to the east last week to neutralize armed groups in the area. The UN has nearly 20,000 peacekeepers in eastern Congo.
Several armed groups, including the March 23 movement (M23) rebels, are active in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo and fighting for the control of the country’s vast mineral resources.
The M23 rebels defected from the Congolese army in April 2012 in protest over alleged mistreatment in the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo (FARDC). They had previously been integrated into the Congolese army under a peace deal signed in 2009.
Since early May 2012, nearly 3 million people have fled their homes in the eastern Congo. About 2.5 million have resettled in Congo, but more than 460,000 have crossed into neighboring Rwanda and Uganda.
Congo has faced numerous problems over the past few decades, such as grinding poverty, crumbling infrastructure, and a war in the east of the country that has dragged on since 1998 and left over 5.5 million people dead.
Source: Press TV
Newscast Media WASHINGTON—In the past decade, the United States has aggressively pursued foreign policies in food and agriculture that benefit the largest seed companies, according to extensive research by Food & Water Watch. The U.S. State Department has launched a concerted strategy to promote agricultural biotechnology, often over the opposition of the public and governments, to the near exclusion of other more sustainable, more appropriate agricultural policy alternatives.
Food & Water Watch closely examined five years of State Department diplomatic cables from 2005 to 2009 to provide the first comprehensive analysis of the strategy, tactics and U.S. foreign policy objectives to foist pro-agricultural biotechnology policies worldwide. READ FULL STORY >>
Newscast Media CAPE CANAVERAL—Just a few days ago, the United States Air Force launched a satellite into orbit via an Atlas V rocket.
There is now a bigger push to move to Mars, mine asteroids, and for commercial flights to the International Space Station to become available. Along with that, there is an increase in rocket launches, making them become common place.
Below is the recent rocket launch at Cape Canaveral, Fla:
Newscast Media HOUSTON—U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) spoke on the Senate floor in support of Sen. Mike Lee’s (R-UT) resolution to investigate abortion practices in the U.S. and ensure that clinics like Kermit Gosnell’s have no place in our society. He also brought attention to an abortion facility in Houston that has recently come under scrutiny for alleged late-term abortion and infanticide practices, voicing his support of current state and local investigations into the matter.
“The crimes committed by Kermit Gosnell are almost unspeakable. Knowing what we know now about what happened, everyone in this body should be supporting an investigation to make sure there are not other Kermit Gosnell’s across this country. We need to make sure it is not happening to other unsuspecting mothers, that other newborn babies are not being murdered as they were in Dr. Gosnell’s clinic,” Cruz said.
“Everyone who proclaims to be a champion for women and children should enthusiastically support this resolution. Anyone who proclaims himself a champion dedicated to helping the most vulnerable should be supporting this resolution. Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider, in 2011 performed 333,964 abortions in the U.S. Almost half of its income comes from the taxpayer, and this body has an obligation to make sure there are not other Gosnell houses of horror practicing today,” he added.
Sen. Lee’s resolution provides that Congress and States should gather information about and correct abusive, unsanitary, and illegal abortion practices and the interstate referral of women and girls to facilities engaged in dangerous or illegal second- and third-trimester procedures.