Archive for June, 2013

Extensive electric power plan for Africa unveiled by Obama

Power plant

Newscast Media CAPE TOWN—President Obama June 30 announced a massive initiative to double access to electricity across sub-Saharan Africa. The United States will support the effort with a $7 billion investment over the next five years. Obama said the aim is to provide electric power to millions of Africans, enhancing their lives and livelihoods.

“Today I am proud to announce a new initiative. We’ve been dealing with agriculture, we’ve been dealing with health,” Obama said at the University of Cape Town in South Africa. “Now we’re going to talk about power — Power Africa — a new initiative that will double access to power in sub-Saharan Africa.”

The president said that in partnership with African nations, the United States will develop new sources of energy. Obama said America’s vision is a partnership with Africa that unleashes achievable growth.

“We’ll reach more households not just in cities, but in villages and on farms,” he said. “We’ll expand access for those who live currently off the power grid.”

“A light where currently there is darkness; the energy needed to lift people out of poverty — that’s what opportunity looks like.”

The president unveiled “Power Africa” in his address to a crowd of 1,100 at the University of Cape Town, part of a weeklong trip to three African nations including Senegal and Tanzania.

According to presidential adviser Gayle Smith, more than two-thirds of the people living in sub-Saharan Africa do not have electricity, including 85 percent living in rural areas. The United States and its private sector partners in the first phase will focus on electric power expansion in six countries: Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Nigeria and Tanzania, according to the White House.

Power Africa will also partner with Uganda and Mozambique on oil and natural gas resources management.

Power Africa, the White House said, will bring a broad range of U.S. government tools to support investment in Africa’s energy sector. These tools include provision of policy and regulatory best practices, pre-feasibility support and capacity building, long-term financing, insurance, guarantees, credit enhancements and technical assistance.

Private sector giants — including General Electric, Symbion Power, Heirs Holdings, Aldwych International, Harith General Partners, Husk Power Systems and the African Finance Corporation — are expected to make an additional $9 billion in initial commitments, the White House says. They will help support the development of more than 8,000 megawatts of new electricity generation in sub-Saharan Africa.

The International Energy Agency estimates that sub-Saharan Africa will require more than $300 billion in investment to achieve universal electricity access by 2030, the White House says. “Only with greater private sector investment can the promise of Power Africa be realized,” the White House added.

Obama also said the United States will bolster access to food and health programs across the continent with the goal of reducing poverty and illness plaguing many areas of Africa.

Earlier in Cape Town, Obama, first lady Michelle Obama and daughters Malia and Sasha visited Robben Island prison, where the ailing former president of South Africa, 94-year-old Nelson Mandela, was confined in a tiny cell during the apartheid era.

South African politician Ahmed Kathrada, who was also held in the prison for nearly two decades and was an anti-apartheid activist, guided Obama and the first family on their tour of the prison complex. Kathrada was also Obama’s guide when he first visited Robben in 2006.

Obama wrote in the prison guest book, “On behalf of our family, we’re deeply humbled to stand where men of such courage faced down injustice and refused to yield. The world is grateful for the heroes of Robben Island, who remind us that no shackles or cells can match the strength of the human spirit.”

After their visit to Robben Island, Obama visited the Archbishop Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation Youth Center to highlight efforts to combat HIV/AIDS in Africa and the role the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief has contributed. Obama met with Tutu and young students at the community center.

Source: State Department


Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Joseph Earnest - June 30, 2013 at 9:42 pm

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Gen. Cartwright under investigation for leaking Stuxnet virus cyberattack

Gen Cartwright

Newscast Media WASHINGTON—Retired four-star general is reportedly being investigated for leaking the Stuxnet cyberattack on Iran’s nuclear program. James Cartwright, the former second-ranking officer at the Pentagon and four-star general, has become a target in the investigation of a leak that revealed Washington’s role in an attack on Iran’s nuclear program in 2010.

According to media reports, Cartwright is being investigated for leaking classified information on a cyberattack using the Stuxnet virus on Iran’s nuclear facilities, temporarily disabling 1,000 centrifuges used to enrich uranium. The computer worm affected control systems built by the German electronics giant Siemens. The virus exploited vulnerabilities in the Microsoft Windows operating system and quickly affected computers around the world.

NBC News and the Washington Post reported that Cartwright had been informed by the Justice Department that he was a target of the probe. Cartwright, who retired in 2011, was one of President Barack Obama’s closest security advisers.

He was later, however, mentioned as a suspect by The New York Times, which reported in 2012 that the virus had indeed been a US-Israeli attack. The New York Times pointed out that Cartwright was one of the crucial advisers to President Obama when an element of the program accidentally became public in 2010 because of a programming error that allowed it to escape Iran’s Natanz plant and get out on the Internet.

Republican politicians said senior administration officials had leaked the details of US cyberattack on Iran to bolster the president’s national security credentials during the 2012 re-election campaign. Congressional leaders demanded a criminal probe into who leaked the information.

The investigation of the Stuxnet cyberattack leak is one of a number of national security breach investigations conducted by the Obama administration.

Source: Radio Deutsche Welle


Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Joseph Earnest - June 28, 2013 at 9:52 pm

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U.S. embassy in Cairo to close on June 30 out of fear of violence

Cairo demonstrators

Newscast Media CAIRO—The U.S. embassy in Cairo said it will close on Sunday amid fears of violence at opposition protests against President Mohamed Morsy.

The embassy added that it would follow events before deciding on its work schedule next week.

The embassy also offered warnings to American nationals living in the Egyptian capital.

“As potentially violent protest activity may occur before [30 June], U.S. citizens are advised to maintain a low profile and restrict movement to the immediate area of their residences and neighborhoods starting on 28 June,” a statement said.

It also referred to reports stating opposition activists from the Tamarod (“rebel”) campaign would be collecting signatures outside 16 Metro stops across Cairo on 25 June.

The embassy advised citizens to take alternative transportation.

Tamarod campaigners are continuing to collect signatures for their petition demanding early presidential elections in Egypt.

Source: Egypt Independent


Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Joseph Earnest - at 4:42 am

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U.S. won’t go through extraordinary measures to detain Snowden

Edward Snowden

Newscast Media WASHINGTON—The US won’t pursue extraordinary measures to detain Edward Snowden, President Obama has said. Meanwhile, pressure to refuse Snowden asylum has sparked an angry and somewhat cheeky response from Ecuadorian officials.

“I’m not going to have one case with a suspect who we’re trying to extradite suddenly be elevated to the point where I’ve got to start going wheeling and dealing and trading on a whole host of other issues, simply to get a guy extradited so he can face the justice system,” Obama said while on a tour of Africa.

Several weeks ago, the former employee of the National Security Agency (NSA) allegedly leaked information about a wide-reaching surveillance program in the United States known as Prism, as well as evidence of US hacking into Chinese entities. Snowden had already fled to Hong Kong before The Guardian and Washington Post newspapers published the first revelations of Prism. Soon after US prosecutors released the charges against Snowden to the media, authorities in Hong Kong allowed him to fly to Moscow due to a discrepancy in the US warrant for his arrest.

“I’m not going to be scrambling jets to get a 29-year-old hacker,” Obama said, referring to Snowden, who turned 30 last week.

Despite difficulties convincing Chinese and Russian officials to extradite Snowden, Obama said he had not personally contacted the Russian or Chinese president. Law enforcement authorities generally dealt with similar cases and would do so in the apprehension of Snowden because his case was “not exceptional from a legal perspective,” the US president said.

While Obama declared Snowden unworthy of increased diplomatic tensions, Ecuador responded in part to the question of granting asylum to the alleged intelligence leaker.

Snowden had reportedly applied for safe haven in the South American country, however, Ecuador officials said they could not process his request until he reached one of its diplomatic premises, according to the news agency Reuters. The international pressure placed upon Ecuador to allow or refuse the former NSA
employee sparked an obstinate response from its officials on Thursday.

Rather than submit to the will of Washington, Quito relinquished its claim to a tariff program worth millions of dollars to the country, preferring independence, it said.

“Ecuador does not accept pressure or threats from anyone, and does not trade on principles or make them contingent on commercial interests, even if those interests are important,” Communications Minister Fernando Alvarado told reporters in Quito.

The trade deal, which is set for renewal by the US Congress and was awarded in exchange for Ecuador’s cooperation in the war on drugs, had become a “new instrument of blackmail,” said Alvarado. “In consequence, Ecuador unilaterally and irrevocably renounces [the preferential treatment.]”

Instead, Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa’s government offered to pay the United States $23 million per year to finance “human rights training.”

Source: Deutsche Welle


Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Joseph Earnest - June 27, 2013 at 8:30 pm

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Judicial Review: Supreme Court ruling on homosexual marriage


Newscast Media WASHINGTON—Two important rulings were issued by the United States Supreme Court today, however, it is still an uphill battle for supporters or homosexual marriages.

The first ruling had to do with the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) that defines a marriage as being between one man and one woman. Today’s ruling paved the way for the government to give homosexual couples health benefits just like traditional couples. The case was Windsor v. United States in which the Supreme Court with a split 5-4 ruling said that DOMA was unconstitutional because it violated the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. CONTINUE TO FULL STORY >>


Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Joseph Earnest - at 4:33 am

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Texas Gov. Rick Perry orders second special session for July 1

Texas Governor Rick Perry —Photo by Joseph Earnest

Newscast Media AUSTIN—Texas Democrats managed to stall legislation that would restrict abortion across Texas, however, Governor Rick Perry has called a second special session of the Texas Legislature, and will be re-introducing the same legislation together with other bills next week. The abortion bill that has liberals up in arms is Senate Bill 5 that bans abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

Texas won a major Supreme Court victory that cleared the way to implementing a law that requires Texas voters to show a government-issued photo ID before voting. The Texas Department of Public Safety issued new forms at all the driver’s license locations so those without photo IDs can apply for free. However, proof of U.S. citizenship is required, like a birth certificate.

In the recently-released statement calling back the Texas Legislature, Perry said, “I am calling the Legislature back into session because too much important work remains undone for the people of Texas.” The statement further read: “Through their duly elected representatives, the citizens of our state have made crystal clear their priorities for our great state. Texans value life and want to protect women and the unborn. Texans want a transportation system that keeps them moving. Texans want a court system that is fair and just. We will not allow the breakdown of decorum and decency to prevent us from doing what the people of this state hired us to do.”

The special session will consider the following issues:

• Legislation relating to the regulation of abortion procedures, providers and facilities.

• Legislation relating to the funding of transportation infrastructure projects.

• Legislation relating to establishing a mandatory sentence of life with parole for a capital felony committed by a 17-year-old offender.

The Special Session of the Texas Legislature will begin at 2 p.m. Monday, July 1.


Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Joseph Earnest - at 1:38 am

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Texas Republicans launch effort to expand footprint in Black community

Launching of the African American Outreach Project — Courtesty photo: Republican Party of Texas

Newscast Media AUSTIN, Texas—The Republican Party of Texas (RPT) and the Texas Federation for Republican Outreach (TFRO, the RPT’s statewide auxiliary for African American outreach), with a generous grant from the Republican National Committee (RNC), have announced a comprehensive plan for defining themselves within the African American community, rather than continuing to allow the Democrats to define them.

The effort includes hiring full time, year-round staff to organize an effort to aggressively recruit precinct chairs in majority minority precincts and to extend personal invitations for African American voters to meet Republican elected officials and to become involved in the primary and convention process. The staff will also coordinate efforts with an existing volunteer base to contact and recruit African American swing voters to join the GOP.

Bill Calhoun of Texas Federation for Republican Outreach stated:”Despite the fact that the Republican Party has elected more African Americans to statewide office than any other party in Texas, black voters still overwhelmingly voted for Democrat candidates. It’s time for that to change. We have a positive message and record in Texas. Specifically, we’re going to talk to voters about two issues that hit closest to home: jobs and school choice.”

RPT Chiarman Steve Munisteri commented, “I am very excited to announce this project. Significant engagement with the African American community by the Republican Party is long overdue. I am especially appreciative of the hard work that TFRO Chairman Bill Calhoun has put into this effort and of his long term commitment to the RPT. The RPT in turn is committed to an ongoing, sustained and effective effort to better communicate our principles to African American voters. I would also like to thank National Chairman Reince Priebus for his generous support and, more importantly, for his shared vision of the necessity of community engagement. The RPT looks forward to a continued relationship on community engagement with TFRO and the RNC.”

RNC Chairman Reince Priebus said the GOP needs to strengthen relationships with more voters and that it is essential Republicans communicate their shared values with the African American community—values of equal opportunity and education, the importance of family and community ties.


Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Joseph Earnest - June 25, 2013 at 9:21 pm

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Islamists in Nigeria issue ultimatum to residents in north


Newscast Media LAGOS—Boko Haram insurgents in Nigeria’s Borno State have ordered civil servants and Christians to leave two towns. The government vacillates between crackdown and dialogue. Hundreds of residents have fled the towns of Bama and Gwoza in Borno State following attacks and threats by suspected members of the Islamist militant sect Boko Haram.

The insurgents were moving from house to house, issuing threatening letters saying that civil servants and Christians must leave Bama within seven days or risk being killed, according to one Bama resident speaking to the media on arrival in Maiduguri.

Borno State, of which Maiduguri is the capital, is located in the mainly Muslim northeast of Nigeria. Southern Nigeria is predominantly Christian.

Ibrahim Aliyu, national director political and social affairs of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) youth wing described the situation in Borno State as terrible.

“These people will come to Maiduguri town and attack a school so I think the government should do a lot more than they are doing now,” he said.

The insurgents were chased out of their Sambisa Game Reserve camps by the security forces in a crackdown launched on May 14, but some were said to have regrouped and started fresh attacks.

This is not the first time that Boko Haram has threatened to attack Christian residents.

Last year, a purported Boko Haram spokesman known by the name of Abul Qaqa, issued an ultimatum to southerners living in the northern part of Nigeria to move away. Abul Qaga was reportedly killed by the Nigerian military last year.

Analyst Ibrahim Shamsudeen accuses the government of President Jonathan of failing to tackle the insurgency adequately. He says there is a confusing scenario in which the government has called for dialogue with Boko Haram, but at the same time it is waging war against them. “If there is going to be a dialogue, let there be circumstances under which these people will come out for dialogue,” he said.

Source: Radio Deutsche Welle


1 comment - What do you think?  Posted by Joseph Earnest - at 7:06 pm

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White House still believes Edward Snowden is in Russia

White House

Newscast Media MOSCOW—The United States believes that former US intelligence contractor Edward Snowden is in Russia and is calling on Moscow to assess “the options available to them to expel Mr. Snowden back to the United States,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said Monday.

The announcement came just hours after Julian Assange, founder of the whistleblowing organization WikiLeaks, said Snowden was “safe and healthy” but declined to reveal his whereabouts.

“It is our understanding that Mr. Snowden remains in Russia,” Carney told a news briefing at the White House on Monday.

Carney declined to go into details about conversations between US officials and their Russian counterparts regarding Snowden’s whereabouts and the outstanding warrant for his arrest in the United States, saying only that there are communications between the two countries “at all the appropriate levels.”

Snowden is wanted by the United States for disclosing a top-secret surveillance program that allegedly targeted millions of Americans. He took a plane from Hong Kong to Moscow on Sunday accompanied by WikiLeaks representative Sarah Harrison, the organization said in a statement.

Carney repeatedly stated during the briefing that in light of US-Russian law-enforcement cooperation in the wake of the deadly Boston Marathon bombing, as well US assistance in returning “high-level criminals” to Russia, Washington hopes for Russia’s assistance in having Snowden returned to the United States.

Source: Ria Novosti


Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Joseph Earnest - June 24, 2013 at 8:33 pm

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Part 1: Barack Obama will attempt to command a red state to turn to blue

Barack Obama has his eyes on Texas

Newscast Media WASHINGTON—Driven by the ambition to make what seems
impossible possible, Barack Obama has embarked on perhaps his most challenging
domestic undertaking, which is to turn Texas, a red state, into a blue one.

Politicians are realizing Obama was serious about his undertaking when he opened
shop in Texas, under the political action group called Battleground Texas.

Obama understands that should he succeed in turning Texas blue, there will never be
a Republican president in the White House, according to the analysis of newly-elected


Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Joseph Earnest - June 22, 2013 at 12:25 am

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New FBI Director To Be Nominated By Barack Obama

Barack Obama

by Mu Xuequan
Edited by Joseph Earnest

Newscast Media WASHINGTON—U.S. President Barack Obama plans to officially nominate former Deputy Attorney General James Comey to replace Robert Mueller as next director of the FBI, U.S. media quoted White House officials as saying on Thursday.

Obama will make the announcement at a White House ceremony on Friday afternoon. Comey, the No. 2 official in former President George W. Bush’s Justice Department, had been seen as his top choice for the next FBI director.

A White House official said Comey has served as a prosecutor and national security professional in more than two decades, and demonstrated “unwavering toughness, integrity and principle,” reported the Hill, a congressional newspaper.

If nominated and approved by Congress, Comey will replace current Director Mueller, whose term had been extended at Obama’s request by two years and now scheduled to expire in September this year.

Outgoing Director Mueller has served as the agency’s head for almost 12 years, starting just days before the September 11 terror attacks in 2001.

Mueller is leaving as the agency faces a number of questions recently, from whether more could have been done to prevent the Boston bombings to what role it has played in the recently revealed phone and internet surveillance programs.

Testifying before a Senate panel on Wednesday, Mueller said, “As illustrated by the recent attacks in Boston, the terrorist threat against the United States must remain our top priority.”

He stressed that the country is facing “a continuing threat from homegrown violent extremists” while foreign terrorists still seek to strike Americans at home and abroad.

“And just as our national security and criminal threats constantly evolve, so too must we, the FBI, evolve to counter these threats, even during a time of constrained budgets,” said Mueller.

Last week, Mueller defended two classified phone and internet surveillance programs, which sparked controversy recently, and vowed to hold the leaker responsible for the disclosure.

He told lawmakers during a hearing that the disclosures about these secret surveillance programs have caused “significant harm to our nation and to our safety.”

He even suggested that if the surveillance programs had been in place before the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, they might have helped to yield evidence of connections of the participants and derail the plan.

According to the Guardian and the Washington Post reports last Thursday, the National Security Agency and the FBI had been secretly tapping directly into the central servers of nine U.S. internet companies, extracting audio, video, photographs, e-mails, documents and connection logs that enable analysts to track a person’s movements and contacts over time.

Source: Xinhua


Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Joseph Earnest - June 21, 2013 at 5:06 pm

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Pro-life bill passed by Texas Senate may close abortion clinics

Texas Capitol by night—Photo by Joseph Earnest

by Michael Gryboski

Newscast Media AUSTIN—The Texas state Senate has approved a pro-life bill that many believe will lead to the closure of most of the Lone Star State’s abortion clinics.

Senate Bill 5, passed Tuesday in a vote of 20 to 10 after about six hours of debate, would require abortion clinics to be held to ambulatory surgical centers’ standards. The costly nature of refitting the clinics to those standards could result in the shuttering of at least 32 of Texas’ 38 abortion-providing facilities.

According to Elizabeth Graham, director of the Texas chapter of Right to Life, SB 5 successfully made it through committee last week due in part to the topic of late-term abortion providers.

“Though debate in committee on Thursday lasted about four hours, the committee heard about the atrocities recently uncovered at the Houston abortion clinic operated by abortionist Douglas Karpen,” wrote Graham.

“Karpen’s practice and the conviction of Kermit Gosnell brought to light the urgency of stopping the infanticide of fully-birthed newborns. The committee recognized the need to enact protections for both children and pregnant women by moving these bills to consideration by the full Senate…”

While considered sweeping by many analysts, during the amending process SB 5 had removed its provision to ban abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy save for certain exceptions. Republican Sen. Glenn Hegar, author of SB 5, stated during Tuesday evening’s debate that the bill involves the protection of innocent life.

“At this point this committee substitute is the most practical and logical way for us to raise the standard of care and protect innocent life and move something to the House to give them an opportunity to weigh in on this very heavy and weighty emotional issue,” said Hegar.

Democratic Senator Wendy Davis took issue with the bill, saying it was “not about making women safe,” but rather “about political primaries and making sure you’re feeding the red meat for the political primaries.”

According to Claire Cardona of Dallas News, in addition to the new clinic standards SB 5 had other provisions.

“It would also require that physicians administering the medication to terminate early pregnancies perform an exam before giving the first dose and follow up within 14 days of the third dose,” wrote Cardona.

“Doctors would have to give the patient a 24-hour contact number for them or an associate and directions and numbers for the nearest hospital.”

Texas Governor and former Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry has stated that he backs the pro-life legislation.


Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Joseph Earnest - June 19, 2013 at 10:36 pm

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Mubarak–U.S. sought military bases by any means necessary

Mubarak and Obama

Newscast Media CAIRO—Ousted Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak said that Washington wanted access to military bases in Egypt at any price, but he had been always refusing, local Al-Watan daily quoted him as saying.

Mubarak’s remarks, posted online on Wednesday, were delivered during dialogue he made with a man who used to visit him in prison.

Mubarak told the man that the former Minister of Defense Abdel-Halim Abu Ghazala informed him once that the U.S. had asked for a military base in Egypt and he agreed.

“I replied: You don’t have the power to agree, nor I. This land is neither yours nor mine,” Mubarak said.

“The Americans wanted bases at any price,” he stressed, adding that Washington had asked more than once for bases in the west of Cairo and Burj Al Arab near Alexandria. However, he repeatedly responded that “the Egyptian constitution does allow it neither to Abu-Ghazaleh, nor to me personally. It requires the approval of the Egyptian parliament, and even if approved by Parliament it needs a referendum, and I
ended the discussion here,” he said.

Fielding a question about the role of the United States and Israel in what is happening now in Egypt and the Arab region, the former Egyptian president replied that all what matters to the U.S. is to ensure the security of Israel, and “they were for long putting pressure on the Arabs for this goal.”

According to Mubarak, Washington also wanted to establish an electronic network for the armed forces, but he refused for fear of Israeli and American espionage.

“In 2006 or 2007, Washington had asked for F.M. frequency in Greater Cairo, but the then Minister of Information refused the request.” Mubarak said.

“One day, I received the American ambassador who told me: Give me F.M. frequency because there is a $270 million aid to Egypt which is still pending in Washington for this reason. I refused and replied: keep it with you. We don’t need it,” Mubarak recalled.

“After fifteen days, they sent the $ 270 million… They wanted the frequency in order to spy and control everything,” the ousted President noted.

As for his stepping down, Mubarak claimed that he made the decision without any pressure.

“It was possible to continue in office, but I decided to step down in order to preserve the lives of the people and prevent the bloodshed,” he stressed. Moreover, Mubarak refused to talk about what happened during the January 25 revolution, and said: “I do not like to speak on this. It has passed away.”

He also refused to talk about the role of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces in the attacks committed against peaceful protesters.

Source: Al Manar News


Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Joseph Earnest - at 5:59 pm

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Brazilians continue to protest due to high cost of World Cup


Newscast Media SAO PAOLO—Tens of thousands have demonstrated in Brazil after images circulated of police brutality in Sao Paulo. The protests, among the biggest since the end of the country’s dictatorship, have widened across the country.

Police in Rio de Janeiro fired tear gas and rubber bullets at protesting youths early Tuesday, after days in which tens of thousands rallied in major Brazilian cities against the cost of hosting the 2014 World Cup. Monday saw major protests in at least eight cities across the country. Most turned out to be peaceful, but vandalism and a violent police reponse marred protests in Rio and Belo Horizonte.

“Peaceful demonstrations are legitimate and part of democracy,” President Dilma Rousseff said in a statement. “It is natural for young people to demonstrate.”

The police response has so far reportedly led to about a dozen injuries. In Rio, the violent crackdown on a small and peaceful crowd Sunday near the Maracana stadium incited many to come out for what local news media described as the city’s largest protest in a generation. A live round allegedly fired by police has injured at least one protester in Rio.

Monday’s protests came during soccer’s Confederations Cup, hosted by Brazil, just one month before a papal visit, a year before the World Cup, and three years ahead of the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. The unrest has raised security concerns and renewed questions over Brazil’s readiness to host the events.

Source: Radio Deutsche Welle


Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Joseph Earnest - June 18, 2013 at 11:05 pm

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Taliban and the United States to meet in Doha — Qatar


Newscast Media WASHINGTON—The United States will meet the Taliban in the Qatari capital of Doha for a peace process in Afghanistan, U.S. officials said on Tuesday.

“The U.S. will have its first formal meeting with the Taliban, and indeed first meeting with the Taliban for several years, in a couple of days in Doha,” a senior administration official told reporters via conference call.

The meeting comes at a time when the Afghan government was taking the lead in military operations across the country on Tuesday and the Taliban was opening a political office in Doha.

The officials joining the conference call said the U.S.-Taliban meeting is expected to be followed by another one within days between the Taliban and the Afghan High Peace Council, a 70-member body set up by the government in the summer of 2010 to initiate peace talks with the Taliban.

“I think that given the level of distrust among Afghans, it’s going to be a slow process to get that dialogue, that intra-Afghan dialogue moving,” one official said. “And the United States will encourage and help facilitate that.”

The officials played down expectations of the first U.S.- Taliban meeting, defining it as one for exchanging agendas rather than engaging in any “substantive, detailed” discussion.

“We’ll tell them what we want to talk about; they’ll tell us what they want to talk about; and we’ll both then adjourn and consult on next steps, and then have another meeting in a week or two later,” one official said.

The officials said Washington will raise the issue of the Taliban cutting ties with al-Qaida, urge the Taliban to “talk seriously” to the Afghan government and seek the return of Bowe Bergdahl, a U.S. Army sergeant held prisoner by the Taliban for the past four years.

The Taliban will issue statements in Doha later Tuesday to declare its opposition to the use of Afghan soil to threaten other countries and its support for an Afghan peace process, according to the officials.
“These are two statements which we’ve long called for and together, they fulfill the requirements for the Taliban to open an office, a political office, in Doha for the purposes of negotiation with the Afghan government,” one official said.

The American and NATO troops transferred the control of 95 remaining districts to Afghan security forces in a ceremony on Tuesday, completing a transition process that started in 2011 and paving the way for a full withdrawal of coalition forces by the end of 2014 following a nearly 12-year bloody war against the Taliban.


Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Joseph Earnest - at 10:54 pm

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Gov. Perry to GOP: Be humble and courageous like Jesus

Texas Governor Rick Perry answering questions posed by Texans —Photo by Joseph Earnest

by Napp Nazworth

Newscast Media AUSTIN—To convince others of your ideas, Texas Governor Rick Perry told fellow conservatives on Saturday, one must be both humble and courageous.

“I’ve learned a little bit about humility, particularly on national television,” Perry said to laughter from the audience at the Faith and Freedom Coalition’s “Road to Majority 2013″ conference.

When Perry ran for president in the last election he was leading by some polls when several stumbles in national debates took him out of the race.

“But the fact is that God hasn’t called the perfect to go into the arena of public service,” Perry continued. “He’s called people just like you and just like me.”

Perry spoke about his own Christian faith and how God taught him to abandon his own selfish pride.

“Nothing less than the example of our savior inspires me as I speak to you today,” Perry said. He then read Philippians 2:5-8, in which Paul says that Christ set an example for his followers by humbling himself and became “obedient unto death, even death upon a cross.”

Perry also spoke about the example of Jesus’ disciple Peter, whom he called his favorite disciple. He described Peter as one “whose mouth sometimes ran faster than his brain.”

“Let me tell you, I can relate to Peter,” Perry joked. While Peter learned to be humble, Perry explained, that did not stop him from speaking forcefully. He learned to be courageous as well.

“Be a man or woman of humility, but be courageous, you stand by your principles,” Perry advised.

Perry described some of the things he accomplished as governor of Texas by standing by his principles. He mentioned removing state funding for Planned Parenthood, a parental consent law for minors to be able to have an abortion, and a law that allows schoolchildren to wish each other a “merry Christmas or happy Hanukah, or whatever that might be.”

Perry also advised his audience to be “happy warriors,” and used the example of Ronald Reagan.

“I fear with [Reagan's] passing,” Perry said, “we forgot that conversations should come with a smile. Love and joy ought to be our code. Our conviction and our passion should lead to compassion, not contempt or anger or fear mongering.”


Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Joseph Earnest - June 17, 2013 at 9:20 pm

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G8 summit unfolds in Northern Ireland-Syria high on agenda

G8 summit - Northern Ireland

Newscast Media BELFAST—As the G-8 summit commences this week in Northern Ireland, Syria is expected to be high on the agenda, with Russia standing in stark opposition to any sort of resolution so far put forth by other nations present, especially the United States.

On Monday, G-8 host British Prime Minister David Cameron acknowledged the ideological chasm but said that Russia must push for negotiations as rapidly as possible and not to back a government that “butchers” its citizens.

In his first press conference, Hassan Rowhani, declared the winner of Iran’s presidential election on Saturday, spoke out against any intervention in Syria.

“The Syrian crisis must be resolved by the people of Syria,” Rowhani said. “We are against terrorism, civil war, and foreign intervention. Hopefully, with the help of all countries of the region and the world, peace and calm will return to Syria”. He added that “the government must be respected by other countries until the next elections, and then it is up to the people to decide.”

Meanwhile, after evening talks with British Prime Minister David Cameron, Russia’s Vladmir Putin said that Russia had conformed with international standards when selling weapons to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

“We are not breaching any rules and norms and we call on our partners to act in the same fashion,” Putin said, in an apparent reference to recent decisions from the US and some EU members like France and Britain to send military support to Syrian rebels. The German government has said it does not currently plan to send weaponry to either side in Syria’s civil war.

Barack Obama is also scheduled for his first face-to-face private talks with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in a year on the sidelines of the summit at the Lough Erne golf resort near the Northern Irish town on Enniskillen.

Source: Deutsche Welle


Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Joseph Earnest - at 7:45 pm

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Assad and Hezbollah’s Nasrallah congratulate Iran’s Rouhani

Syria's Bashar Assad - Courtesy photo: Press TV

Newscast Media TEHRAN—Syrian President Bashar al-Assad congratulated Iranian president-elect, Hassan Rouhani, for securing the highest number of votes in the country’s 11th presidential election. In his letter, the Syrian leader offered “heartfelt congratulations and best wishes” to Rouhani on behalf of the Syrian nation for gaining “the trust of millions of the brotherly Iranian people,” Syria’s official news agency, SANA, reported.

President Assad further underlined the Arab state’s determination to boost bilateral ties and cooperation between the two countries.

He also stressed the need for “confronting the plots of hegemony and aggression against the national sovereignty in our region in a way that reflects positively on the peoples of both friendly countries as well as the peoples of the region and the whole world.”

Meanwhile, Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah congratulated on Saturday Sheikh Hasan Rouhani for his election as next President of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Hezbollah Media Relations said. This election revived the hopes of the dear people of Iran towards all their aspirations,” Sayyed Nasrallah wrote, adding that the Arab, Muslim and oppressed peoples – that have always found the Islamic Republic their savior – see the president-elect as the focus of their hopes.

Below is Sayyed Nasrallah’s congratulatory letter:

“President-Elect of the Islamic Republic of Iran
Your eminence Hojatol Islam Sheikh Hasan Rouhani
Peace be upon you and Allah’s mercy and blessings.
We, Lebanon’s Hezbollah, with all the fighters and activists in this resisting country,
congratulate you for deservedly gaining the greatest trust of this great nation, and
for electing you as President of the blessed Islamic Republic, amid political, popular
and historic epic unmatched in today’s world, which complied with the call of the holy
Supreme Leader Imam Khamenei (long live), and achieved his dear wish.

Mr. President
As this political epic, by your blessed election, revived hopes of the dear Iranian
people towards all their aspirations, it also renewed the great hopes of all your
friends, lovers and brothers in the Arab, Muslim and oppressed peoples who see that
you are today the focus of hopes, and who have always found the Islamic Republic
the savior for every tyrannized, the relief for every oppressed and the mainstay for
every resistant and Mujahid for Allah’s sake.

Mr. President
As we congratulate you, and ourselves too, this decent and wonderful election, we
ask Allah Almighty, in all humility and supplication, to bless you, help you and make
you able to meet all hopes through the government of management and hope. have
to be a great expert to understand that this will violate international law.”

Source: Al Manar TV News


Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Joseph Earnest - June 16, 2013 at 7:32 pm

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Russia dismisses allegations of chemical weapons use in Syria

Sergei Lavrov

Newscast Media MOSCOW—Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says the US evidence of chemical weapons use in Syria does not meet stringent criteria for reliability. The US has cited that evidence as grounds for arming Syrian rebels. Speaking from Moscow on Saturday, Lavrov said the evidence did not include guarantees that met the requirements of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). The organization specifies that samples taken from blood, urine and clothing can be considered reliable evidence only if supervised by OPCW experts from the moment when they are taken until delivery to a laboratory, Lavrov said.

The OPCW is an autonomous body based in The Hague, Netherlands, that oversees the implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention, which entered into force in 1997. Syria is one of six countries that has “neither signed nor acceded to” the convention, according to the OPCW website.

The White House said this week that it was going to arm Syrian rebels after claiming to have evidence that President Bashar al-Assad had used chemical weapons in the country’s civil war.

Makes no sense, says Lavrov

Lavrov, who spoke to reporters after meeting with his Italian counterpart, said it did not make sense for al-Assad to have used chemical weapons when the government already maintains a military advantage over the rebel fighters.

“The regime doesn’t have its back to the wall,” Lavrov said. “What would be the sense of the regime using chemical weapons, moreover at such a large scale?”

Western diplomats on Friday said the Obama administration was also considering implementing a no-fly zone over Syria, although the White House later said it had no interest in doing so because it would be costlier and more difficult to set up than the one in Libya.

Lavrov warned against any attempts to enforce a no-fly zone over the country, saying: “You don’t have to be a great expert to understand that this will violate international law.”

Source: Radio Deutsche Welle


Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Joseph Earnest - June 15, 2013 at 5:51 pm

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Syria’s Bashar Assad aggressively plows through Aleppo

Aleppo clashes continue

Newscast Media DAMASCUS—The Syrian army thwarted on Friday an infiltration attempt by armed groups militiamen towards the al-Awared bridge via the cemeteries in the Sheikh Maqsood neighborhood of Aleppo, Al-Manar Website correspondent reported. Violent clashes took place between the Syrian army and armed groups at the entrances of al-Sakhoor neighborhood of Aleppo, amid progress by the Syrian army in the area.

A field source confirmed to Al-Manar website that clashes occurred between the national forces and the armed opposition groups in the eastern side of al-Nobbol city north of Aleppo.

“Clashes resulted in a number of killed and wounded within the ranks of the insurgents,” the source said, noting that the army troops raised the Syrian flag on the outskirts of the village of Mayer.

On the other hand, Syrian warplanes targeted the headquarters of the Legitimate Association (Hay’a Shari’a) in the city of Raqqa, killing number of terrorists and wounding others, along with destroying a car with a built-in machine gun, Al-Manar correspondent said.

In Tartous, the leader of the so-called “Free of the Coast battalion” has been arrested while trying to flee to Lebanon through illegal crossings accompanied by a number of wanted terrorists.

Al-Manar correspondent also reported that the Syrian army foiled a suicide bomber attempting to blow himself up in a car in the area of Kafr Amer in Zaqbadani, Damascus, where the army targeted and destroyed the car before reaching its target. In Banias countryside, one of the armed groups’ militiamen blew himself up with a bomb he was carrying while he was being chased by the army.

Moreover, Al-Manar correspondent confirmed that the Syrian army also targeted gunmen in al-Jubeila, Sanaa, Hamidiya and Sheikh Yassin in Deir Ezzor. It also seized control over al-Rusafa neighborhood in the same area. In the same context, the Syrian Al-Ekhbariya channel reported Friday that the Syrian army “restored security and stability to al-Rusafa in Deir Ezzor and expelled militants out of the area.”

Local authorities also announced that the Syrian army restored security to the village of Abu Habaylat in Hama eastern countryside, after it achieved victory over al-Nusra Front groups in the village.

Source: Al Manar News


Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Joseph Earnest - at 3:24 am

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