by Sebastian Seibt
Newscast Media LUANDA, Angola—French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius’s visit to
Angola on Thursday is meant to offer France’s business leaders the opportunity to
participate in the African country’s economic boom. But many see Angola’s “economic
miracle” as a mirage.
The delegation of business leaders accompanying French Foreign Minister Laurent
Fabius on his visit to Angola on Thursday, October 31, is impressive.
Among them are top representatives from Air France, Airbus, BNP Paribas, and Total,
all hoping to get a piece of the economic boom the southern African country has
been enjoying over the last several years.
The stakes of this diplomatic visit are even articulated on the website of France’s
finance ministry, where the Angola page reads: “Few countries in the world have as
great a potential as Angola, where, despite the competition, there are several
possibilities for French companies.”
On paper, Angola’s “economic miracle” is obvious. Since the end of the bloody civil
war that ravaged the country from 1975 to 2002, the former Portuguese colony has
registered rates of growth comparable to China’s. Despite a slowdown during the first
years of the financial crisis, Angola saw its annual growth rise above 7 percent as of
Analysts from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the African Development
Bank (AfDB) has predicted that the country — Africa’s third strongest economically,
after South Africa and Nigeria – will maintain this growth rate for years to come.
Moreover, China has lobbied to become Angola’s principal business partner, investing
more than 15 billion dollars in 17 different economic agreements with the country.
“Officially, there are 276,000 Chinese citizens residing in Angola,” read a memo from
the Switzerland Global Enterprise, an institution with the mission of boosting Swiss
commerce, in December 2012.
Portugal has also manifested its interest in Angola’s robust economic health – but in a
different way. Struck low by the crisis at home, more than 150,000 Portuguese
citizens have obtained visas to work in Angola, a migratory phenomenon that the site
Slate Afrique qualifies as “never before seen in contemporary history”.
Angola largely owes its economic success to “black gold” or oil. The country is the
second biggest oil producer on the African continent, and the fourth biggest in the
world. Angola is planning on increasing its production from the current rate of 1.8
million barrels per day to 2 million in 2015.
France has also been staking out its spot in the race for Angola’s oil money, with
Total investing 9.1 billion euros in the country (out of a total of 10 billion euros
invested by France in Angola in 2012).
Some analysts have gone as far as predicting that Angola could become the African
Qatar. The country could indeed transform itself into a gas jackpot like that Gulf
state, as it has the second biggest reserve of natural gas in Africa, which it has only
recently begun to exploit. Following the Qatari model, Angola set up a 5-billion-dollar
sovereign wealth fund in 2012, which it plans to use to diversify its economy.
Source: France 24
Newscast Media THE HAGUE—Syria has completed the destruction of all of its
chemical weapons production and mixing facilities, the Organization for the Prohibition
of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) said on Thursday.
The OPCW, on a joint mission in Syria with the United Nations, confirmed that Syria
had destroyed critical equipment for all of its declared chemical weapons production
facilities and plants.
In a statement issued on Thursday, the OPCW said Syria had met the deadline set by
the OPCW Executive Council to “complete as soon as possible and in any case not
later than November 1, 2013, the destruction of chemical weapons production
equipments, including mixing and filling equipment.”
A group of eight inspectors, who had been conducting verification work in Damascus
since Oct. 1, returned to the OPCW headquarters in The Hague.
The OPCW said it had inspected 21 of the 23 sites declared by Syria, and 39 of the
41 facilities located at those sites. The two remaining sites were too dangerous to
visit, but according to Syria, the chemical weapons equipment at these sites were
moved to other declared sites, which were inspected.
The next deadline is Nov. 15 when the UN Executive Council is to adopt a detailed
plan of destruction submitted by Syria to destroy the country’s more than 1,000 tons
of chemical weapons by mid-2014.
Newscast Media WASHINGTON—Testifying before a House Energy and Commerce
Committee hearing about complications with the Affordable Care Act enrollment
website Wednesday, U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius
made herself the sacrificial lamb and took the blame for the technical problems that
are plaguing ObamaCare. CONTINUE TO FULL STORY >>
Newscast Media DAMASCUS—Minister of State for National Reconciliation Affairs Ali
Haidar said that the US is “seriously thinking about opening channels with Damascus”
following his meeting with UN-Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi in Damascus on
Haidar, however, added that “it is too early to talk about that, especially since the
US has not ceased supporting the opposition politically and in the media,” Russia
Today quoted him as saying in a press conference.
Haidar’s comments came the same day Syrian President Bashar al-Assad sacked
Deputy Premier Qadri Jameel for conducting unauthorized meetings abroad, an implicit
reference to Jameel’s meeting with US point man for Syria Robert Ford on Saturday to
discuss proposed Geneva peace talks.
The Syrian Minister rejected Brahimi’s suggestion to unite the Syrian opposition’s
representatives in Geneva II because the internal opposing factions have radical
differences with the coalition which has set preconditions to attend the conference.
Source: Islam Times
Newscast Media PRETORIA, South Africa—It takes nerve for a foreigner to move to a
foreign land and demand the natives of that country move out so the foreigners can
occupy the land. The incident just described above happened in South Africa.
Leaders of a white supremacist group who plotted to kill Nelson Mandela and drive
blacks out of South Africa have been found guilty of treason and sentenced to long
prison terms. The case began over 10 years ago.
Sentences were handed down on Tuesday October 29, by the Gauteng High Court in
the capital Pretoria. Five leaders of a “Boeremag”(Boer force) white supremacist group
who had plotted to kill Nelson Mandela and drive blacks out of the country were found
guilty of treason and sentenced to jail terms of up to 35 years. Of the 21 defendants,
others received sentences of between five and 20 years while nine were allowed to
leave after spending 11 years behind bars during the long trial.
The “Boeremag” was a rag-tag militia of apartheid loyalists, some of whom were
charged with causing explosions in Gauteng, South Africa’s richest province. Most
blasts took place in the township of Soweto. One woman was killed.
Judge Eben Jordaan said that if the group had been successful in carrying out their
plans to overthrow the government, they would have plunged the country into chaos
State prosecutor Paul Vick, who has been involved with the case for the past 10
years, told the press that the state was satisfied with the outcome. “It was a fair
trial and we are satisfied that the accused got what they deserved, and I think the
community will be satisfied,” Vick said.
The alleged mastermind of the group, former university lecturer Mike du Toit, was the
first to be convicted last year for treason and was among those given a 35-year
The conviction and sentencing of the extremists is being seen as a clear message
that no form of terrorism will be tolerated in South Africa.
Source: Radio Deutsche Welle
Newscast Media KINSHASA—The Congolese army backed by UN troops has defeated
the March 23 movement (M23) that threatened towns in the eastern Democratic
Republic of Congo, the UN special representative to the country has said.
Martin Kobler, who is also the head of the UN Organization Stabilization Mission in the
Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO), made the remarks to the UN Security
Council by video-link on Monday, AFP reported. CONTINUE TO FULL ARTICLE>>
Newscast Media WASHINGTON—European lawmakers in Washington on Monday blasted the
United States in the wake of reports of massive US surveillance activities against its
allies, including alleged eavesdropping by US intelligence on German Chancellor Angela
Merkel. CONTINUE TO FULL ARTICLE>>
Newscast Media TEHRAN—Hezbollah’s Chief Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah Monday accused Saudi Arabia of seeking to derail the expected Geneva II Syria peace conference, saying the kingdom had become enraged over developments in the Arab state that only strengthened the Damascus government’s position.
He made his remarks during a speech marking the 25th anniversary of the establishment of the Great Prophet Hospital.
“The recent developments in Syria have helped us realize that there can only be a political solution, not a military one, to the unrest,” Nasrallah said.
“All concerned sides should approach dialogue in Syria without preconditions,” he demanded, while accusing Saudi Arabia of resorting to “all means” to topple the Syrian government.
“Obstructing the political solution in Syria will lead to more death and destruction and negative repercussions on Lebanon and all other countries neighboring Syria,” he warned.
Addressing the clashes in the northern city of Tripoli, the Hezbollah chief urged the cabinet to take a “firm decision” to put an end to the instability in the city.
“The army and security forces should take over control in Tripoli and the people should provide them with the necessary support while they perform their duties,” he continued.
Commenting on the political deadlock in Lebanon and failure to form a new government, Nasrallah accused the March 14 camp of only prolonging the impasse by imposing various conditions on forming a cabinet. He noted that the camp was and is still banking on the developments in Syria in order to take any political decision in this matter, saying that such actions will only maintain the deadlock.
He suggested that the March 14 camp “exercise some humility” and accept the formation of a cabinet that grants nine ministers to itself and the March 8 camp, while the remaining six be granted to centrists.
Since his appointment in April, Prime Minister-designate Tammam Salam has faced conditions and counter-conditions from the rival March 8 and 14 camps over the formation of a new government. Furthermore, Nasrallah stressed the need for the caretaker government to convene in order to tackle the oil file and in order to order the army and security forces to take control of Tripoli.
He stated however that caretaker Prime Minister Najib Miqati is being pressured by Saudi Arabia and the March 14 camp against calling cabinet to session.
On the recent release of the Lebanese pilgrims who were held in Syria’s Aazaz region, he congratulated them on their safe return to Beirut, hoping that this development would pave the way for resolving the case of Lebanese held in Israel and Syria and who have gone missing over the past two years or since the Lebanese civil war.
Source: Tehran Times
Newscast Media GENEVA—A Swiss newspaper has reported that many Swiss bankers
are afraid to go abroad for fear of arrest amid a US tax investigation. The report
comes after the detention in Italy of a Swiss former UBS executive.
In its report, the Swiss Sunday newspaper Le Matin Dimanche cited comments made
in an interview by the head of the Swiss-American Chamber of Commerce, Martin
“In my opinion, some 1,000 Swiss bankers no longer dare to go to the United States,
or even travel abroad,” the paper quoted him as saying.
Naville’s remarks echo those of another unidentified senior private Swiss banker who
earlier this week told Reuters news agency, “Maybe we’ll all be taking our vacations in
Ticino and Graubünden.”
“There is definitely concern. Definitely,” he added.
The paper said Swiss banks and industry representatives were also increasingly
warning bankers with US clients not to leave Switzerland.
The Swiss Bank Employees Association told le Matin Dimanche that it was advising all
bankers who haver regularly visited clients in the US “to abstain from traveling.”
In their hunt for tax evaders, US investigators are known to be probing a number of
bankers in Switzerland, who are believed to have accepted tens of billions of
undeclared dollars from US citizens.
Some 30 bankers are under investigation, according to Le Matin Dimanche.
The report comes just over a week after a former high-ranking UBS executive was
arrested in Italy for allegedly helping US clients avoid taxes.
The banker, 54-year-old Raoul Weil, had been indicted by a US federal grand jury in
2008 on accusations of aiding US customers hide around $20 billion (15 billion euros)
in assets from tax authorities.
“The United States has proven it can strike where and when it likes, and now with
the help of European countries,” the paper wrote about the arrest.
Source: Radio Deutsche Welle
Newscast Media WASHINGTON—Key Democratic senators are considering whether to
break with President Barack Obama on diplomacy with Iran as the administration is
urging lawmakers to delay a new round of sanctions, according to news reports by
Press TV. At a meeting at the White House on Tuesday, administration officials urged
top staffers to postpone the legislation to give nuclear talks a chance to play out.
“A date has not been finalized yet,” a Senate Banking Committee staffer told The Hill
following the meeting.
The measure, adopted by the House of Representatives in July, would target Iran’s oil
export and its foreign currency reserves. The Senate was to debate the bill in
September but it was held back at the request of the White House as such a measure
would have derailed the nuclear talks, Press TV reported.
As president, it is time for Barack Obama to use the mighty pen to demonstrate to the
“blood-thirsty” warlike cabal attempting to suck the lifeblood out of the peaceful
negotiations, that he is not their puppet.
At most, the dissatisfied actors can only pout, like they always do when they don’t
get their way, even though men are not supposed to pout.
When George W. Bush felt it was time to lift sanctions from Libya, he signed an
Executive Order that restored normal relations between the U.S. and Libya. The Order
Bush signed was called the Presidential Determination No. 2004-30, and he
was able to bypass all the political theatrics.
At this point Obama has nothing to lose. He is not running for office anymore, and all
he has to concentrate on is building a positive legacy, foreign and domestic.
Newscast Media CAPETOWN—Populations of lions are on the decline in Africa,
according to LiveScience, due to the interaction of the cats with human populations.
Nomadic herding cultures may convert wild habitat to grazing land, thereby reducing
the population of natural prey for the majestic cats. So instead of going after a zebra,
lions will hunt people’s livestock. CONTINUE TO FULL STORY>>
Newscast Media DAMASCUS—President Bashar Assad’s military ambushed more than 50 terrorists linked to al-Nusra Front and the so-called Al-Islam Brigade in the vicinity of al-Otaiba lake in the Damascus countryside and seized their weapons including Israeli-made anti-tank rockets, RPG launchers and BKC machine guns, according to SANA.
SANA mentioned that the Syrian army, in cooperation with the residents in the eastern Gouta, ambushed terrorists affiliated with al-Nusra Front and ‘Al-Islam Brigade’ who were fleeing from al-Nashabiyeh area towards Mid’a. Some 41 terrorists were killed and around 10 others were wounded in the ambush, some of whom were Saudi, Qatari and Iraqi nationalities, according to a field commander.
He pointed out that automatic rifles, home-made grenades, Israeli-made anti-tank rockets, BKC machine guns and RPG launchers were destroyed in the operation. The commander noted that over the past period, seven ambushes were carried out in the region resulting in the deaths of several terrorists who were trying to infiltrate the eastern Gouta region to back up the armed terrorist groups who had suffered heavy losses at the hands of Assad’s soldiers.
Meanwhile, an army unit ambushed an armed terrorist group on Tal Treireh-Kanaker road, killing and injuring many members, in addition to seizing a truck containing weapons and ammunition, including anti-tank mines, automatic rifles, BKC machine guns and RPGs launchers.
The Syrian army also intensified operations against terrorists in various regions on Friday, killing and injuring scores of them in raids within their dens and gatherings.
Assad has killed or captured more terrorists than any other entity in the history of both ancient and modern warfare.
Source: Al Manar TV news
Newscast Media NEW YORK—A Manhattan jury found Bank of America responsible for fraud in its mortgage-related practices, in conjunction with its now-defunct Countrywide Financial Corp. affiliate.
Forbes said: “The verdict is a win for the US government as this is one of the few cases stemming from the financial crisis that it’s taken to trial.
“In a rush to feed at the trough of easy mortgage money on the eve of the financial crisis,
Bank of America purchased Countrywide, thinking it had gobbled up a cash cow. That
profit, however, was built on fraud, as the jury unanimously found,” US Attorney Preet
Bharara said in a statement.
Bank of America may or may not appeal. The bank said in a statement, “The jury’s decision concerned a single Countrywide program that lasted several months and ended before Bank of America’s acquisition of the company. We will evaluate our options for appeal.”
Bank of America’s problems aren’t over yet. The Securities and Exchange Commission is also suing the bank for “fraud” because BofA obtained money and property by means of untrue statements of material fact, and also engaged in transactions, practices and courses of business which would and did operate as a fraud and deceit upon the purchasers of such securities.
One of the counts Bank of America is being charged with is failure to file a prospectus with the SEC. The prospectus is accompanied by the infamous Pooling and Servicing Agreement (PSA) the one every lawyer is afraid. No lawyer in the history of litigation of mortgage-backed securities, has been successful in producing a valid PSA or prospectus, because they don’t teach “structured financing” in law school.
Under US law, if a bank claims to own a mortgage in form of a mortgage-backed security, it has to have a prospectus that is valid and current. If it can produce the prospectus, it cannot produce the Pooling and Servicing Agreement, therefore it cannot win a case, because the mortgages are based on fraud. Think of it as a driver being stopped by police for a traffic violation and the driver cannot produce a driver’s license and proof of insurance. What do you think would happen? Here is the specific law:
15 U.S.C. §§ 77e(b)(1):
(b) Necessity of prospectus meeting requirements of section 77j of this title
“It shall be unlawful for any person, directly or indirectly—(1) to make use of any means
or instruments of transportation or communication in interstate commerce or of the
mails to carry or transmit any prospectus relating to any security with respect to which a
registration statement has been filed under this subchapter, unless such prospectus meets the requirements of section 77j of this title.”
The SEC is asking for an unspecified amount of damages including injunctive relief against Bank of America, while the US government is looking to get $848 million out of BofA.
Bank of America Corp said on Thursday that it was cutting 1,200 to 1,300 mortgage jobs.
Categories: News Tags: Bank of America, Bank of America class action, Bank of America Countrywide Financial Corp, Bank of America foreclosure lawsuit, Bank of America Merril Lynch, bank of america mortgage fraud, Bank of America SEC lawsuit, Bank of America settlement, Department of Justice Bank of America, US government vs. Bank of America
Newscast Media KAMPALA, Uganda—Sweeping measures to improve transparency and governance are urgently needed to end a scandal that has seen Africa lose an average of $1 billion every week for the past 30 years in illicit financial flows, says Oxfam.
Oxfam executive director Winnie Byanyima will also say today at a special public meeting of political, business and civil society leaders that this hemorrhage of Africa’s money – up to $1.4 trillion was lost from 1980-2009 according to recent Africa Development Bank figures[source], or between $50-60 billion each year[source] – requires a global solution, not solely an African one.
Fuel-exporting African countries were hit hardest, losing $732.8 billion in that period, according to the Bank. Nigeria, Egypt and South Africa were the worst affected countries across Africa’s regions.
With new mineral discoveries amounting to $11 billion in iron, oil, gas, gold and coal in Guinea, Ghana, Liberia, Tanzania and Mozambique alone, according to the Africa Progress Panel[source], there is a worrying potential for a renewed surge in illicit flows from Africa.
Oxfam and the African Studies Centre of the University of Oxford are hosting the event with speakers including Ugandan Foreign Affairs Minister Sam Kutesa, Ghanaian High Commissioner Kwaku Danso-Boafo and Zimbabwe’s former Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai. The chief economist of the African Development Bank and representatives of Rio Tinto, the Ford Foundation and the Global Alliance for Tax Justice will also
Blueprints for resource-rich countries
Byanyima said: “The resource curse has never been so stark and, with new mineral discoveries happening every day in Africa, has never been so vital to tackle. These huge new finds could mean tens of billions of dollars of taxes to pay for schools and hospitals – but only if this new wealth remains in Africa. Too often it has ended up in Zurich not Zambia, London not Liberia.”
“We are at a turning point in genuinely opening the global extractive industries to more scrutiny and cleaning up their tax affairs. Ghana has married its new mineral discoveries with an ambitious new petroleum revenue management law. Regionally, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has begun work on a regional mining code intended to protect the rights of local communities and the Africa Union has adopted its ‘Africa Mining Vision’.
“At long last we see some solid blueprints being laid out. This puts us at square one. Now we must push for all of these exciting initiatives to be put to work for African people.”
A commitment to extractives transparency
The challenge, however, remains huge. The latest CIVICUS survey reveals that many newly-resource rich African countries remain rooted near the bottom of global governance rankings. One study of the global extractive industry[source] found that for each extra US dollar in oil exports, an additional 11 to 26 cents leaves the country in illicit capital flight. Globally, extractive industries are currently estimated to be worth around $3.5 trillion a year.
Oxfam believes the G8 made a good start earlier this year by committing to raise global standards for extractives transparency and by endorsing mandatory payment disclosure requirements and the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative. The EU Transparency and Accounting Directives and US Dodd-Frank Act require oil, gas and mining companies to disclose payments to host governments down to the project level; Oxfam welcomes the UK government’s commitment to implement the EU directives in 2014. Canada’s commitment to implement mandatory payment disclosure within the next two years is also good news, and should match the standards set in the EU and US.
Self-interested policies to the detriment of African people
The Director of the African Studies Center at Oxford University, Dr Nic Cheeseman, will say that “The importance of natural resources to the African continent is growing by the year. Following recent finds of oil and gas across East and West Africa, an issue that was previously only relevant to a small number of countries is now at the top of the political agenda for many more.”
“We are no longer just talking about the classic “resource economies” – DRC, Nigeria and South Africa. In the future, the debate about the impact of oil and the resource curse will focus on Ghana, Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania,” Dr Cheeseman said.
“How well African countries manage their natural resources over the next decade is the single most important factor that will determine whether or not the continent manages to sustain its fragile economic recovery.
“We must redouble our efforts to understand how African countries can best manage their extractive industries. But these efforts should not just focus on what African governments can do. Multinational companies and international governments have often pursued self-interested policies to the detriment of African people,” he said.
“Ensuring that the proceeds from oil and gas work for the people of Africa requires a new approach both inside and outside of Africa”.
From transparency to accountability
Mark Goldring, Oxfam Chief Executive who will close the event, said: “We now need the US and EU to quickly implement their own extractive industries transparency laws, and for Canada to get its law in place. Mining giants Australia and South Africa have an important opportunity to lead G20 nations by example on this issue too.
“But transparency is only effective when twinned with accountability. Companies and governments equally need to be held to account for managing Africa’s mineral riches for the benefit of African people. Foreign companies can’t be expected to fix weak governance – but they can exploit it, and many continue to do exactly that,” Goldring said.
Newscast Media TEHRAN—The Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) announced Wednesday that the Islamic Republic has plans to develop its nuclear program and is ready to cooperate with the UN nuclear watchdog on “outstanding issues.”
Ali-Akbar Salehi, head of AEOI, said that the Islamic republic has plans to construct new nuclear power plants on the Persian Gulf coast, Press TV reported.
“What we have in mind is to build (nuclear) power plants on the Persian Gulf and Caspian Sea coasts, but we have prioritized the Persian Gulf shores as we are going to pave the way for desalination of water for the southern provinces,” Salehi was quoted as saying by Press TV.
He did not provide further details about the plan but reiterated earlier remarks of Iranian officials to build more nuclear power plants across the country. Renewal of the remarks is significant as the Islamic republic and some world powers are preparing for “serious” nuclear talks next month.
Salehi also said Iran will operate a production line of enriched UO2 (uranium dioxide) in three months, Tehran Times daily reported on Wednesday.
The enriched UO2 would be used to provide nuclear fuel for the Bushehr nuclear power plant, said Salehi. UO2 is a black, radioactive and crystalline powder that naturally occurs in the mineral uraninite. It is used in fuel rods for nuclear reactors.
On Sept. 23, Iran took over control of Bushehr nuclear power plant from Russia. Salehi said that during the first two-year period, Russian engineers would provide support to Iranian technicians, who after two years would completely control the plant.
On Sept. 27, Iran expressed its willingness to reach an agreement with the IAEA over nuclear inspection after the talks between Iranian new negotiation team and the UN nuclear agency in Vienna.
The first tentative talk, after the appointment of Iran’s new negotiating team, was announced to be constructive and to continue on Oct. 28.
Reza Najafi, Iranian new ambassador to UN nuclear agency, said he was looking forward to reaching an agreement in the future with the agency.
Newscast Media BERLIN—German Chancellor Angela Merkel has called President Obama over the German government’s suspicions the US could have tapped her mobile phone. Barack Obama assured Merkel that his country is not monitoring her communications.
Earlier, the German government spokesman said that Berlin had information the US National Security Agency (NSA) could have been spying on Merkel.
“We swiftly sent a request to our American partners asking for an immediate and comprehensive clarification,” Steffen Seibert said in a statement, Reuters cites.
Berlin demanded that American authorities shed light on the scale of its spying on Germany if it took place and thus finally answer the questions that the Federal government asked “several months ago,” Seibert said.
Merkel called Barack Obama over the issue and demanded an explanation. She had made clear to Obama that if the information proved trued it would be “completely unacceptable” and represent a “grave breach of trust,” Seibert said.
White House spokesman Jay Carney said that Obama assured the German leader “the United States is not monitoring the communications of the chancellor.”
Earlier this year, documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden revealed that the American spy organization intercepted large amounts of data exchanged between German citizens without any legal authorization. The scandalous revelations outraged Germans and sparked widespread demonstrations in the country which is wary of surveillance, largely due to its Stasi past.
While German opposition politicians, the media and activists have been vocal in their anger over the American eavesdropping, Merkel remained restrained in her comments on the matter.
In June, during Obama’s visit to Berlin, Merkel said she was surprised by the scope of the American data collection efforts, but admitted that Germany was “dependent” on cooperation with US agencies. She said that it was thanks to “tips from American sources” that an Islamic terror plot in Germany was foiled in 2007. She added though that it was important to continue the debate about reaching “an equitable balance” between providing security and protecting personal freedoms.
Interior Ministry spokesman Jens Teschke said Wednesday the German government was still in talks with America about the spying issue.
“[But] we have recognized that many of the allegations made by Mr. Snowden can’t be substantiated, and on other issues that there was no mass surveillance of innocent citizens,” he said, as quoted by AP agency.
Source: Al Manar TV news
Newscast Media PARIS—France does not want an escalation of the row over US snooping on millions of French citizens’ telephone communications, the government’s spokesperson said Tuesday, after a breakfast meeting between US Secretary of State John Kerry and French Foreign Affairs Minister Laurent Fabius.
Fabius told Kerry that the snooping, which targeted politicians, businessman and individuals with no public profile, was “unacceptable between friends and allies”.
Kerry had earlier tried to defuse the row, assuring the US’s “old ally” that Washington is reviewing its information-gathering techniques, a message that US President Barack Obama repeated in a call to French President François Hollande.
But French government spokesperson Najat Vallaud-Belkacem on Tuesday seemed to indicate that Paris does not want a confrontation.
“It is up to Foreign Minister Fabius to decide what line we take but I don’t think there is any need for an escalation,” she told France 2 television. “We have to have a respectful relationship between partners, between allies. Our confidence in that has been hit but it is after all a very close, individual relationship that we have.”
Using material obtained by NSA whistleblower, Edward Snowden, Le Monde newspaper on Monday revealed massive interception of calls, SMS messages and keyboard strokes by the National Security Agency (NSA), which recorded more than 70 million calls in one 30-day period last year.
In further revelations on Tuesday it said that the NSA had shown particular interest in French internet provider Wanadoo and communications giant Alcatel-Mucent and had also spied on French embassies and France’s delegation to the UN.
The spying had helped the US obtain a vote on the UN Security Council in favor of more sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program, one NSA internal note boasted. Operatives were instructed to use not just the Prism program, which was exposed by Snowden, but also Upstream, a system that intercepts communications on undersea cables and the world wide web.
The US defends its intelligence-gathering in the name of the fight against “terrorism” but Le Monde says that the “secrets of major national firms” had been probed as well. One document seen by the paper shows that between 8 February and 8 March the NSA collected 124.8 billion pieces of data on phone calls and 97.1 billion digital operations.
Source: Radio France Internationale
Newscast Media RIO DE JANEIRO—Brazilians have rallied in the port city of Rio de Janeiro to protest against a government auction that grants state-run petroleum company Petrobras the right to develop an oil field.
Protesters marched on the headquarters of Petrobras on Monday, after the oil consortium – consisting of Petrobras, Shell, Total and two Chinese firms – won the right to explore a massive offshore oilfield that could contain 12 billion barrels of oil near Rio de Janeiro.
Peaceful demonstrators have been calling for the nationalization of Brazil’s oil industry, as well as the cancellation of the auction.
The oil consortium was the only bid made at the auction consisting of 10 other participants, the government said.
Petrobras holds a 40 percent stake in the consortium, with Shell and Total each accounting for 20 percent and Chinese firms CNOOC and CNPC holding 10 percent each.
The protest comes as 90 percent of employees at Petrobras participated in a strike last week, affecting 42 oil platforms and a number of refineries.
40,000 Petrobras employees are further demanding a wage increase as well as changes to company plans to contract out some of its services to private entities.
Critics also highlighted the slowing economy and delays in exploiting offshore oil as trends that would loosen rules to favor more businesses during the next two to three
Despite mounting opposition, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff said the deal is an economic opportunity for Brazil.
“The great wealth that was deep in our sea, and was recently discovered, starts to awake. It awakens bringing more resources, more jobs, technology, sovereignty, and, above all, more future to Brazil and to all Brazilians,” Rousseff said.
Brazil has recently discovered billions of barrels of oil in offshore reserves – mostly in deep, pre-salt fields off its southeast coast – though technological hurdles pose significant challenges in reaching the stores.
Source: Press TV
Newscast Media TEHRAN—The Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps has provided the Russian army with a copy of the US ScanEagle drone which was captured by the IRGC in 2012, according to FARS news agency.
“The drone built by the IRGC is a symbol of the technical capabilities of the Islamic Iran and today we presented a real model of it as a gift to (Russian Air Force Commander) Lieutenant General Viktor Bondarev and the Russian people,” Commander of Iran’s Khatam ol-Anbia Air Defense Base Brigadier General Farzad Esmayeeli said after a meeting with Bondarev in Tehran.
Esmayeeli also gifted Bondarev a video of the IRGC’s monitoring of the trans-regional states’ warships and equipment in the Persian Gulf to be given to Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu.
On December 4, Commander of the IRGC Navy Rear Admiral Ali Fadavi announced that his forces captured a US Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) over the Persian Gulf after the drone violated the country’s airspace. ScanEagle is a small, low-cost, long-endurance unmanned aerial vehicle built by Insitu, a subsidiary of Boeing.
As standard payload ScanEagle carries either an inertially stabilized electro-optical or an infrared camera. The camera allows the operator to easily track both stationary and moving targets, providing real-time intelligence.
Capable of flying above 16,000 feet, the UAV has also demonstrated the ability to provide persistent low-altitude reconnaissance. Iran in February aired images of a drone production line which is producing copies of the US ScanEagle UAVs. The domestically-manufactured drones have been put into service by the Iranian Armed Forces.
In December, Commander of the IRGC Aerospace Force Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh had said that the recent capture of the US ScanEagle by the IRGC was nothing new as Iran had previously captured a similar drone and even copied it for production.
“ScanEagle had been in our possession before and we have even copied it in production,” Hajizadeh underscored at the time.
Source: Al Manar TV news
Newscast Media BANGKOK—Local authorities and American Evangelicals are currently working on reduction of sex trafficking in Thailand. But, some sex industry workers say they haven’t been trafficked, and are calling for a stop to the measures. Twenty-eight-year-old Mai has been a sex worker in Chiang Mai for a decade now. Originally from Burma, she previously worked as a domestic helper, a dishwasher, and baker but says none of these jobs allowed her to make as much money as she does now.
“There are good and bad things to any job,” she says. “When I came to do sex work, I realized this is a job that gives me enough income to really look after my family and move ahead in life. I was not tricked into it and I don’t see myself as a victim.” CONTINUE TO FULL STORY>>