Archive for November, 2013

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott vows to fight homosexual marriage

Greg Abbott

by Katherine Weber

Newscast Media AUSTIN—Two same-sex couples in Texas filed a federal lawsuit this
week challenging the state’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage that was
overwhelmingly approved by voters in 2005. The couples argue that the ban
unconstitutionally prevents them from enjoying the benefits of married couples, while
the state’s Attorney General Greg Abbott has vowed to vigorously defend the ban.

Lawyers for the couples said in court documents filed this week in the U.S. District
Court in San Antonio that their clients are being unconstitutionally discriminated
against by not being allowed to marry in the state, where in 2005, nearly 75 percent
of voters approved a constitutional amendment defining marriage as being between
one man and one woman. The lawsuit specifically argues that the June ruling by the
U.S. Supreme Court that overturned a key provision of the Defense of Marriage Act
conflicts with state-to-state bans on same-sex marriage.

The two couples, Cleopatra De Leon and Nicole Dimetman of Austin and Victor Holmes
and Mark Phariss of Plano, are seeking an injunction to halt the state law banning
same-sex marriage. “There is no rational basis, much less a compelling government
purpose, for Texas to deny plaintiffs the same right to marry enjoyed by the majority
of society,” attorney Barry Chasnoff, who is representing that plaintiffs, said in a
statement to the Associated Press. Currently, 16 states in the U.S. have legalized
same-sex marriage, the most recent ones being Illinois and Hawaii.

Lauren Bean, a spokeswoman for Abbott, said the attorney general is prepared to
defend the voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage, arguing that the Supreme
Court was clear to ensure in its ruling that individual states would have the authority
to determine same-sex marriage legalization. “The U.S. Supreme Court was clear that
states have independent authority to establish their marriage laws. Texans adopted a
constitutional amendment defining marriage. We will defend that amendment.”


Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Joseph Earnest - November 29, 2013 at 11:18 pm

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Russia to raise price of vodka to curb excessive drinking


Newscast Media MOSCOW—With hundreds of thousands of Russians dying of
excessive drinking every year, the Kremlin says it plans to hike minimum prices for
strong spirits, including vodka. But the move may not yield the desired effect.

According to a draft decree published by the government on Friday, Russia looked set
to once again raise minimum vodka prices as of next year, with consumers having to
spend about a fifth more for the same quantity from January 2014.

The document said the cheapest half-liter bottle of vodka would then cost 199 rubles
($6, 4.42 euros), up from the current 170 rubles.

It also noted the price for strong spirits would further rise to 220 rubles per half liter
from August 2014, bringing total increases next year to almost 30 percent.

Alcoholism was estimated to contribute to 30 percent of deaths in the nation of 143
million inhabitants, medical surveys indicated.

The Kremlin had already been tightening regulations for producers of vodka and beer
such as Russia’s Synergy or Danish brewer Carlsberg. It had banned alcohol
advertizing, raised excise taxes and banned sales after 11 p.m.

An earlier round of price hikes in 2010 has already affected store sales, but even
higher prices could easily lead Russians to resort more often to bootleg spirits, which
can be fatal if not distilled properly.

Source: Deutsche Welle


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Zimbabwe orders foreigners to shut down their stores by end of year

Sale sign

Newscast Media HARARE—Foreign owners of stores and shops in Zimbabwe are still coming to terms with the reality that the government has ordered them to close their shops by the end of the year.

According to Deutsche Welle, the Zimbabwean government announced that retail businesses within the country would only be able to be run and owned by indigenous Zimbabweans. The declaration, the government said, was part of the country’s “indigenization policy.”

This move will mostly affect Chinese and Nigerian nationals who run many of the businesses in Zimbabwe. The newly-announced policy will mean businesses like restaurants, hairdressing salons and other retail outlets will be reserved purely for indigenous Zimbabweans.

The Indigenization Empowerment Act, a law that was signed in 2008, requires foreign business owners to cede 51 percent of control of their businesses to indigenous native Zimbabweans.

“It is a flexible law and investors are given time to comply. It’s not about seizure of assets, it’s not about expropriation,” Zimbabwe’s minister of economic planning and investment promotion, Tapiwa Mashakada, said at an industry conference in Perth, Australia when the act was first signed into law in 2008. The Chinese and Nigerians have had five (5) years to comply with the law, but because of non-compliance, they have until January 1, 2014 to vacate their retail outlets. An excerpt of the law is shown below:


3. Objectives and measures in pursuance of indigenisation and economic
(1) The Government shall, through this Act or regulations or other measures under this
Act or any other law, endeavour to secure that—
(a) at least fifty-one per centum of the shares of every public company and any other
business shall be owned by indigenous Zimbabweans;
(b) no—
(i) merger or restructuring of the shareholding of two or more related or associated
businesses; or
(ii) acquisition by a person of a controlling interest in a business;
that requires to be notified to the Competition Commission in terms of Part IVA of the
Competition Act [Chapter 14:28] shall be approved unless—
(iii) Fifty-one per centum (or such lesser share as may be temporarily prescribed for the purposes of subsection (5)) in the merged or restructured business is held by indigenous Zimbabweans;

*Click here to read or download the entire Indigenisation Act of 2008.

Nigeria itself has its own version called the Indigenisation Decree of 1974 that gives native Nigerians exclusive rights over their resources. The purpose of these laws is to protect Africa from outside exploitation of its resources and prevent what happened during colonialism from happening again. Many have cautioned Africans to be careful with the Chinese because they may have ulterior motives in Africa.

However, South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma begs to differ in the interview below:

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, went as far as warning Africans of the “new colonialism” while in Lusaka, Zambia on June 10, 2011.

“We don’t want to see a new colonialism in Africa,” Clinton said in a television interview in Lusaka, the first stop on a five-day Africa tour.

“When people come to Africa to make investments, we want them to do well but also want them to do good,” she said. “We don’t want them to undermine good governance in Africa.”

Uganda is one of the biggest recipients of aid from China, and Press TV had an interesting discussion with Ugandan media practitioners about this subject. Watch:

According to Bloomberg, Zimbabwe has the world’s second-largest reserves of platinum and chrome, after South Africa, along with deposits of gold, coal, diamonds and nickel. Foreign companies with assets in the Zimbabwe include Impala Platinum Holdings Ltd., Anglo Platinum Ltd. and Rio Tinto Group. British banks Standard Chartered Plc and Barclays Plc also operate in the country.


Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Joseph Earnest - November 27, 2013 at 1:08 am

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US defies China by flying B-52 bombers over disputed islands

Senkaku Islands

Newscast Media TOKYO—The US has defied the Chinese declaration of a new airspace
defense zone, flying two military aircraft around islands contested by Beijing and
Tokyo. US officials have dismissed Beijing’s policy as “inflammatory.”

The US flew two B-52 bombers around the disputed Senkaku Islands, US officials
reported on Tuesday, and without giving advance notice to Chinese authorities.
It followed a weekend declaration by China, which on Saturday published coordinates
for an “East China Sea Air Defence Identification Zone (ADIZ),” including the islands.

The ADIZ declaration, if observed to by other nations, would give China control over
airspace above some of the world’s busiest international shipping lanes.
The Senkakus, known as the Diayou in Chinese, are the center of a long-running
dispute for sovereignty between Beijing and Tokyo.

China had warned that it would take “defensive emergency measures” against
aircrafts that fail to correctly identify themselves within the airspace.

Routine training flights, says US

However, US officials said that no changes had been made to normal flight routines.
“We have conducted operations in the area of the Senkakus,” said US military
spokesman Steve Warren.

“We have continued to follow our normal procedures, which include not filing flight
plans, not radioing ahead and not registering our frequencies.”

The mission went ahead “without incident,” Warren said. He added that the two
aircrafts had spent “less than an hour” in the zone unilaterally-declared by China.
Both unarmed aircrafts were said to have taken off from the US island of Guam on
Monday as part of a scheduled training exercise, the military sources confirmed.
A Pentagon spokesman, Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Crosson, said the mission had
been planned “well before” China declared the zone.

The White House on Tuesday said the dispute over the islands should be resolved

“The policy announced by the Chinese over the weekend is unnecessarily
inflammatory,” said White House spokesman Josh Earnes.

“These are the kinds of differences that should not be addressed with threats or
inflammatory language, but rather can and should be resolved diplomatically,” he said.

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Joseph Earnest - November 26, 2013 at 9:07 pm

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SEC charges two Houston firms with mortgage-backed bonds crimes


Newscast Media WASHINGTON—The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced charges against two Houston-based investment advisory firms and three executives for engineering thousands of principal transactions through their affiliated brokerage firm without informing their clients.

One of the firms — along with its chief compliance officer — also is charged with violations of the “custody rule” that requires firms to meet certain standards when maintaining custody of client funds or securities.

In a principal transaction, an investment adviser acting for its own account or through an affiliated broker-dealer buys a security from a client account or sells a security to it. Principal transactions can pose potential conflicts between the interests of the adviser and the client, and therefore advisers are required to disclose in writing any financial interest or conflicted role when advising a client on the other side of the trade. They must also obtain the client’s consent.

“By failing to disclose principal transactions and obtain consent, Parallax and Tri-Star Advisors deprived their clients of knowing in advance that their advisers stood to benefit substantially by running the trades through an affiliated account,” said Marshall S. Sprung, co-chief of the SEC Enforcement Division’s Asset Management Unit.

Click here to read or download SEC’s complaint against Parallax.

Click here to read or download SEC’s complaint against Tri-Star.

According to the SEC’s orders instituting administrative proceedings, Bott initiated and executed at least 2,000 undisclosed principal transactions from 2009 to 2011 without the consent of Parallax clients. In each transaction, Parallax’s affiliated brokerage firm Tri-Star Financial used its inventory account to purchase mortgage-backed bonds for Parallax clients and then transferred the bonds to the applicable client accounts. Bott received nearly half of the $1.9 million in sales credits collected by Tri-Star Financial on these transactions.

The SEC’s investigation was conducted by R. Joann Harris and Asset Management Unit member Barbara L. Gunn of the Fort Worth Regional Office. The SEC’s litigation will be led by Jennifer Brandt.

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Joseph Earnest - at 8:00 pm

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Supreme Court orders Obama admin to respond to home schooling petition


by Napp Nazworth

Newscast Media WASHINGTON—The U.S. Supreme Court has ordered the Obama
administration to respond to a petition by the Home School Legal Defense Association
to hear an appeal in the Romeikes deportation case.

The Obama administration has sought to deport the Romeikes, a German family that
fled from to the United States to protect their right to homeschool. If they had
stayed in Germany, they risked fines or having their children taken from them, as
recently happened with another homeschooling family in Germany.

An appeals court agreed with the administration, which argued that the freedom to
determine the education of one’s children is not a fundamental right. The
administration also agreed with a German court’s argument that banning
homeschooling teaches tolerance of diverse views. HSLDA petitioned the Supreme
Court to review that appeals court decision in Romeike v. Holder.

*Click here to read or download petition to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The fact that the Supreme Court wants the administration to weigh in on the petition
increases the likelihood that it will hear the case, but it is no guarantee.

“We are pleased by the Court’s interest in the issues we have presented in our
petition,” HSLDA Chairman Michael Farris wrote in an email to HSLDA supporters.

“Romeike v. Holder gives the Court an opportunity to address important religious
freedom and human rights issues. We hope that after due consideration of the
government’s brief they will agree to hear our case.”


Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Joseph Earnest - at 6:50 pm

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Pope Francis meets Russia’s Vladmir Putin in privately-held meeting

Pope Francis

Newscast Media VATICAN CITY—Pope Francis had a private meeting in the Vatican on
Monday afternoon with the President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin. It’s the
fourth time the Russian leader has been here to the Vatican – he met twice with Pope
John Paul II in 2000 and 2003 and had an audience with Pope Benedict in 2007.

In September this year, Pope Francis also wrote directly to President Putin, as the
city of St Petersburg prepared to host the G20 summit of world economic leaders.

Source: The Vatican


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Date for Geneva-Syria talks set for January 22, 2014 by UN

Ban Ki-moon

Newscast Media GENEVA—The United Nations set January 22 as the date for holding
the international conference on Syria referred to as “Geneva 2.”

Martin Nesirky, the Spokesperson for UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, said that
Ban “expects Syrian representatives to come to Geneva with a serious intent to end
the war.”

Nesirky quoted Ban as saying that the conference inspires hope, and that the conflict
in Syria has been going on for a long time, therefore it would be unforgivable to waste
this opportunity to put an end to the suffering and destruction the conflict has

According to Nesirky, Ban said that violence in Syria claimed tens of thousands of
lives and displaced millions, in addition to causing turmoil in the region.

He also relayed Ban’s deep gratitude to the Russian and US governments, other
countries and UN Envoy to Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, for their work to reach this point.

On a relevant note, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov confirmed in a statement
from Rome that the conference will be held on January 22nd, regretting that it
couldn’t be held sooner, holding the Syrian opposition responsible for the delay.

Lavrov said the conference was delayed because the opposition made preconditions
and demanded the departure of the Syrian leadership, describing the opposition as
“politically selfish.”


Source: SANA

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Controversy revived by Gardasil the anti-cancer vaccine


Newscast Media PARIS—The anti-cervical cancer vaccine ‘Gardasil’ ignited debate
over the weekend after French teenager Marie-Oceane Bourguignon filed a lawsuit
against French pharmaceutical company Sanofi Pasteur and the country’s health

She claimed that extreme side-effects were caused by injections of Gardasil, a
vaccine against the human papilloma virus (HPV), when she was 15 years old.
Gardasil is made by Merck and sold throughout Europe by Sanofi.

Bourguignon is suffering from either an evolutive nervous system disease or multiple
sclerosis since February 2011, that she says is caused by the two vaccine injections
she had in October and December 2010.

However, Daniel Floret, the chair of the national committee that oversees
vaccinations, said Monday that there is no evidence linking Gardasil with serious
auto-immune conditions such as multiple sclerosis.

Three other women have announced that they will lodge a complaint against Sanofi
Pasteur over the alleged side-effects of Gardasil within the next two weeks.

But proponents of the vaccine say 2.3 million teenagers are targeted preventively
each year in France.

About 3,000 women will suffer from a cervical cancer every year.

Source: Radio France Internationale


Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Joseph Earnest - November 25, 2013 at 10:41 pm

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Obama: Geneva agreement halts Iran’s nuclear program

President Barack Obama—Photo by Joseph Earnest

Newscast Media WASHINGTON—President Obama says an agreement reached
between the six world powers and Iran in Geneva is an initial step that will halt
progress of the Iranian nuclear program for the first time in a decade.

“These are substantial limitations which will help prevent Iran from building a nuclear
weapon,” Obama said in a nationally televised address November 23.


Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Joseph Earnest - at 7:53 pm

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White House: Security deal needed before end of the year


Newscast Media WASHINGTON—The White House said it is “imperative” that Afghan
authorities conclude a Bilateral Security Agreement with the United States before the
end of the year. White House spokesman Jay Carney told a news conference on
November 22: “The bottom line is that we need to conclude the agreement with
signatures between our two governments as soon as possible and certainly by the
end of the year.”

He said that failure to conclude the agreement by that point would make it impossible
for the United States and its allies to plan for a presence [in Afghanistan] post 2014.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai told a session of the Loya Jirga, or Grand Council, on
November 21 that the Bilateral Security Agreement might have to wait to be signed
until after Afghanistan’s presidential elections in April 2014.

But Carney said the U.S. had made an honest offer and emphasized that Washington
would not be revising the deal. He said, “It is our final offer.”

The Bilateral Security Agreement could clear the way for the United States to keep
thousands of troops in Afghanistan after NATO-led forces withdraw at the end of

U.S. officials responded to Karzai’s comments, saying the deal must be finalized before
the start of 2014. Karzai’s spokesman, Aimal Faizi, said on November 22 that
Afghanistan does not recognize U.S. “deadlines.”

Afghan authorities and delegates to the Loya Jirga have voiced concern about parts
of the agreement.

Most recently, the question of U.S. forces entering the homes of Afghan citizens has
held up the deal, but there are reportedly other unresolved issues in the agreement
the Loya Jirga is still considering.

Source: Radio Liberty


Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Joseph Earnest - November 23, 2013 at 3:07 am

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Bashar Assad: War in Syria will be over in the next six months

Bashar Assad

Newscast Media DAMASCUS—Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Friday said that his
army will succeed in ending the Syrian war within the next six months.

Assad made the remarks addressing a delegation of representatives of various Arab countries
participating in the Arab Parties Conference in Damascus, according to Al-Alam’s
Persian website.

During the meeting, Assad confirmed that the Syrian army will achieve decisiveness in
its military operations in the next six months. READ FULL ARTICLE>>


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Meeting of jewelers fails to redefine the term blood diamonds


Newscast Media JOHANNESBURG—At a four-day meeting in Johannesburg, Kimberley Process delegates called for stiffer penalties for those dealing in blood diamonds. However, they failed to come up with a broader definition of the term.

Delegates from 81 countries which belong to the Kimberly Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) met for four days in Johannesburg to discuss proposals designed to give them more power to act against the sellers and and recipients of so-called ‘blood diamonds.’

The KPCS was founded in South Africa in 2003 and put in place a mechanism aimed at stemming the flow of rough diamonds used by rebel movements to finance conflicts. For outgoing KPCS chairman Ambassador Welile Nhlapho, the plenary meeting was a resounding success.

Delegates agreed to maintain the ban on diamond sales on the Central African Republic until the country proves its ability to prevent their usage in fueling conflicts. The meeting also mandated the KPCS to assist Ivory Coast in complying with its rules.

“We are happy about the outcomes and the proceedings of this conference,” Ambassador Nhlapho said. “I think people came here with the serious intention of finding solutions to the problems that we have identified as weaknesses. We have put in place measures to strengthen our own internal controls and also to see how we can assist some of the countries where diamonds are still implicated.”

Earlier Ambassador Nhlapo congratulated the European Union for its decision to lift sanctions on Zimbabwe after the disputed elections of July 31, 2013 that were won by incumbent president Robert Mugabe. “We hope that those who continue to maintain such sanctions will also be able to lift them because the lifting of these sanctions would assist Zimbabwe to bring back stability and prosperity,” he said.

Civil society representative Shamiso Mtisi said the meeting had provided a good platform for concerns to be raised. However, he expressed disappointment that the KPCS had not come up with a new definition of conflict or blood diamonds. He said this was necessary “to capture the abuses that are ongoing in communities and these are abuses committed by state entities, by the police, the military and also private security guards.”

So far ‘blood diamonds’ has been used to refer only to the stones used by rebel groups in conflict zones to finance their campaigns.

Critical words also came from Siphamandla Zondi, Director of the of the Institute for Global Dialogue, a Pretoria-based international relations think tank. He challenged KPCS to start acting more and talking less. “Diamonds are still moving around and they are still causing problems, they still perpetuate fraud, they perpetuate conflict, perpetuate dictatorship and all of those issues I think should come on board,” Zondi

South Africa now hands on the chair of the KPCS to China with effect from 1 January 2014.

Source: Deutsche Welle


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Immigration advocacy group: Path to citizenship is dead

Homeland Security

by Napp Nazworth

Newscast Media WASHINGTON—An immigration reform bill that includes a path to citizenship now appears unlikely, but there is a possibility of getting a path to some other form of legal status, speakers at the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference’s “Justice Summit” said Tuesday.

Republican leaders are now working on legislation that would provide legalization, but not a path to citizenship, for current unauthorized immigrants, the Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, president of the NHCLC, explained. And, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who has been a leading spokesperson for those opposed to the Senate’s immigration reform bill, told Rodriguez he could support such a plan.

Several members of Congress met with the NHCLC during the two-day summit. Rodriguez was on a panel hosted by The Christian Post and moderated by Dr. Richard Land, executive editor for CP and president of Southern Evangelical Seminary.

The NHCLC has been a strong supporter of immigration reform and has called for a path to citizenship as part of a broad reform package. Rodriguez, who is also a senior editorial advisor for CP, told the NHCLC members in attendance that they would have “a lot more conversation” in the next few weeks about whether or not they would support the proposed compromise.

Robert Gittelson, vice president of governmental affairs for the NHCLC, seemed supportive of the proposal. While he wants citizenship, he explained, he is also pragmatic and realistic.

“I would like to have a path to citizenship. I would love even more for everybody to be safe. For all of our families to be able to live in dignity, for all of our families to live above board and live a normal productive life and pursue the American dream. They can do that without a path to citizenship, as long as they have a significant legal status,” he said. Two of the main obstacles for passage of immigration reform has been that House leaders will not bring any legislation to the floor that does not have the support of a majority of Republicans, and will not join a conference committee with the Senate’s bill.

Gittelson believes, though, that a bill that provides a path to legal status, but not a path to citizenship, has the support of a majority of House Republicans.

“Let’s take what we can get now and fight about citizenship another day,” he advised. “Let’s get families into a state of safety.”

One factor that Rodriguez believes will cause Republicans to take notice of immigration reform is New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s reelection. Christie received 50 percent of the Latino vote, he explained, and that was, in part, due to his support for comprehensive immigration reform, according to exit polls.

“The Chris Christie factor is ginormous,” Rodriguez argued, because it showed that Republicans can “make inroads” with Latino communities by supporting immigration reform.

“Immigration reform will determine whether a Republican” can win the White House in 2016, he concluded.


Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Joseph Earnest - November 22, 2013 at 9:33 pm

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Hundreds hold anti-Saudi demos in solidarity with Ethiopians over migrant workers

Lion of Judah

Newscast Media ADDIS ABABA—Hundreds of people held a protest rally in the city of Dallas to condemn Saudi Arabia’s mistreatment of Ethiopian migrant workers. The protest took place on Wednesday in downtown Dallas amid a crackdown on undocumented immigrants including Ethiopian workers in Saudi Arabia.

Earlier this week, Ethiopians held a protest rally outside the Saudi Embassy in Washington to express their anger over Riyadh’s crackdown on illegal immigrants in the kingdom.

Similar demonstrations were also staged outside Saudi embassies in Norway, Germany, Britain, and Ethiopia earlier this month.

On November 12, the Saudi police killed three Ethiopian migrant workers in the impoverished neighborhood of Manfuhah in the capital, Riyadh, where thousands of African workers, mostly Ethiopians, were waiting for buses to take them to deportation centers.

The Ethiopian government condemned “the act of killing innocent civilians” in Saudi Arabia, calling for an investigation into the killings.

Moreover, on November 16, a video footage emerged showing Saudi Arabia’s security forces beating Ethiopian migrant workers.

The video showed men mercilessly beating and punching Ethiopians on the streets and other undisclosed locations. A person is also shown lying dead on the ground with a bullet mark in the chest.

Saudi authorities launched a visa crackdown on undocumented foreign workers in early November. Several foreign workers have since been killed by the Saudi police and many others imprisoned.

Riyadh has announced plans to create jobs for Saudi nationals by reducing the number of foreign workers, totaling some nine million people. Thousands of foreign workers have already surrendered to Saudi authorities.

Hundreds of thousands of workers have already left Saudi Arabia as a result of tough conditions considered for the immigrants. Foreign workers cannot change jobs or leave Saudi Arabia without the permission of their sponsors, who are often Saudi companies or individuals providing workers to businesses for profit.

Most of the sponsors confiscate the passports of the workers for the duration of their contracts. In late October, rights group Amnesty International censured Saudi authorities for not addressing the “dire human rights situation” in the kingdom.

The group also handed in a paper to the United Nations, which included information regarding a “new wave of repression against civil society, which has taken place over the last two years.”

Source: Press TV


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U.S. skeptical that Joseph Kony is willing to surrender himself

Joseph Kony

Newscast Media WASHINGTON—According to news reports, elusive rebel leader Joseph Kony, is said to be in contact with the president of the Central African Republic to discuss his surrender. Deutsche Welle reports that on Thursday, Central African Republic president Michael Djotodia confirmed that talks with Kony over a possible surrender were underway.

With his Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), Kony fought a brutal war against the Ugandan government in the north of the country for some 20 years before fleeing into the jungles of central Africa.

However, on Thursday, a statement was issued by the US State Department, saying US officials have little reason to believe that Kony is part of the LRA group currently in contact with CAR officials.

“Many times in the past, Joseph Kony and his senior commanders have used—and we believe will continue to use—any and every pretext to rest, regroup, and rearm, ultimately returning to kidnapping, killing, displacing and otherwise abusing civilian populations,” the State Department said.

Realistically, it would not be in the interest of African nations to have Joseph Kony surrender because once he is arrested, the West will then focus its attention on prosecuting leaders within Africa for committing atrocities and human rights violations against their own citizens.

The continuous search for Kony makes African leaders relevant because the West has to depend on them, and also provide the necessary resources and weapons, just like the war in Somalia is beneficial for African nations because the continuous fighting makes the peace-keeping forces relevant to the West, since the West is the one financing and maintaining the forces fighting within Somalia.

The rationale of the West’s involvement is that if fighting and civil strife ends, then the U.S. interests in Africa will be secure, therefore in order to establish a footprint in Africa, the West has to ensure that the atmosphere in Africa is conducive for implementing the plans they have for the Continent.

African leaders are not stupid. They see beyond the veil, and in order for Africans themselves to protect their own domestic interests, they have to make sure that the atmosphere is uncomfortable for the West to want to set up camp permanently, which explains why Africa always seems to have pockets of fighting every now and then, in different regions.

These pockets of fighting, on one hand, are simply mechanisms to keep the West at arm’s length to prevent Africa from being re-colonized by foreigners, yet on the other hand, the atmosphere is safe enough for foreign investors, tourists and expats to live peacefully on the Continent, without trying to impose their will over native Africans.


Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Joseph Earnest - November 21, 2013 at 11:42 pm

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US official: Typhoon relief to the Philippines increases


Newscast Media WASHINGTON—Humanitarian efforts to help victims of Typhoon Haiyan are gaining momentum with growing international contributions and strong engagement by the Philippines government, according to a senior U.S. disaster assistance official.

The United States has provided more than $37 million for relief while international donors have committed approximately $193 million, Jeremy Konyndyk testified November 19 before the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on East Asian and Pacific Affairs. Konyndyk leads the Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).

“Every day, aid efforts gather pace with the systems getting through to more people,” confirmed United Nations Undersecretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Valerie Amos.

Konyndyk said a cash contribution from USAID allowed the World Food Programme (WFP) to immediately purchase rice and canned food in local markets to meet the urgent nutritional needs of people affected by the typhoon. That food was able to reach families faster than if the United States had airlifted food to the devastated areas, he said.

USAID funds also allowed WFP to purchase high-energy biscuits for storm victims. In a November 19 statement, Amos said that, to date, donor-funded food aid distributed by the Philippines government has reached more than 1.1 million people.

Konyndyk said USAID is helping the Philippine Local Water Utilities Administration conduct water facility damage assessments in the provinces of Aklan, Cebu, Iloilo, Leyte, Negros, Occidental and Samar. In addition, USAID partners are providing generators for a water pumping facility and chlorine tablets and water containers to households for treating water.

The Philippines military evacuated severely injured people from Tacloban city, in Leyte, within 48 hours of the storm making landfall. The country’s government set up several field hospitals and is identifying where to set up more, Konyndyk said. With additional health care posts set up by relief groups that are providing medical supplies, medicines and medical staff, Konyndyk said the United Nations health coordinator and the Philippines health department both have reported that the health needs of the affected populations are being met and that additional relief should be directed to other needs.

Amos said an estimated 3.2 million women and 4.6 million children need psychosocial support and protection against violence, trafficking and exploitation. Pregnant women and other vulnerable groups also need special care, she said. Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia-Pacific Affairs Scot Marciel told the subcommittee that the United States is working with the Philippines government to respond quickly to security concerns.


Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Joseph Earnest - at 3:01 am

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Ethiopia rejects Egypt’s request to build new dam jointly

Renaissance dam

Newscast Media ADDIS ABABA—The Turkish Anadolu news agency reported on
Wednesday that Ethiopia rejected a request by Egypt to jointly build all stages of the
Renaissance Dam so as to make sure that Egypt’s share of Nile water is not affected.

The agency quoted an Ethiopian diplomat that attended a meeting between Egyptian
Interim President Adli Mansour and Ethiopian Prime Minister Mariam Desalegn on the
sidelines of the Arab-African summit in Kuwait as saying that Desalegn adhered to the
Entebbe Convention and rejected any Egyptian supervision or participation in the
construction of the dam.

The Entebbe agreement states indirectly that the share of the downstream countries,
namely Egypt and Sudan, could be reconsidered so that upstream countries, including
Ethiopia, may receive a fair and reasonable share. The agreement does not refer to any
rights for downstream countries to supervise water projects of upstream countries.

The Entebbe Framework Convention was signed by Ethiopia, Rwanda, Burundi, Kenya,
Tanzania and Uganda in May of 2011. Egypt, Sudan, South Sudan and the Democratic
Republic of Congo did not sign the agreement.

The diplomat’s statement contradicts statements by Mansour and Desalegn that the
meeting was positive.

Mansour said he was satisfied with the outcome of the negotiations with Ethiopia
over the dam, and that Desalegn appreciated the historical relations with Egypt.

Translated from Al-Masry Al-Youm


2 comments - What do you think?  Posted by Joseph Earnest - November 20, 2013 at 8:39 pm

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Israel PM headed to Russia to discuss Iran nuclear issue

Netanyahu and Putin

Newscast Media MOSCOW—Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu embarked on a
flight to Russia on Wednesday morning to discuss the Iranian nuclear plan with
Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The meeting between the two sides would take place at a time while the P5+1
nations’ delegates set to meet with Iranian officials for possible deal on curbing Iran’s
nuclear capabilities.

Netanyahu is expected to share his concerns from the upcoming agreement with the
Russian president and will try to persuade Russia to take a tougher stance towards
Iran, as France did in the last round of talks.

Following France’s hard stance, the western nations now demand Iran stop the
construction of its heavy waters reactor in Arak and to stop enriching uranium as well
as ridding itself of its stockpiles of enriched uranium.

According to an Israeli official who wished to remain anonymous, Netanyahu is aware
that Russia will not display a hard line approach towards Iran and that the visit has
more to do with damage control rather than stopping the diplomatic process with

The United States is gearing up for a potential deal with Iran. U.S. President Barack
Obama urged senators on Tuesday to delay voting on another round of sanctions to
be implemented on Iran.

At the moment, there are still substantial gaps between Iran and the P5+1 nations
and the chances to sign an agreement soon are small. Putin may be interested in
taking a leading role in bridging the gaps on the Iranian issue as Russia has done on
the issue of the Syrian chemical weapons stockpile.

The differences between Israel and the U.S. approach towards Iran had caused
mounting tensions between the two countries, with Netanyahu warning that easing
the sanctions without getting guarantees from the Iranians will be an “existential
threat” to its security.

Source: Xinhua


Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Joseph Earnest - at 3:49 pm

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Syrian army regains full control of Qara a strategic town

Syria's Assad

Newscast Media DAMASCUS—Army units on Tuesday gained full control over the town
of Qara in Qalamoun area, Damascus countryside, after eliminating the terrorists’ last
gatherings and destroying their weapons, a military source said.

A source told a Syrain Arab News Agency (SANA) reporter that all the dens of the
terrorists and their leaders in the city were destroyed, while scores of explosive
devices, which the terrorists had planted in neighborhoods, streets and houses, were

The reporter quoted an army commander as saying that the special operation which
the army carried out to seize control of Qara took 24 hours and resulted in the killing
of large numbers of terrorists, most of them are affiliated to Jabhat al-Nusra and
“Islam Brigade”.

He highlighted that terrorists of Libyan, Saudi, Yemeni, Egyptian and Tunisian
nationalities were among the dead, noting that some of the terrorists managed to flee
towards Arsal town inside the Lebanese territories.

The commander said that in the process of pursuing the terrorists in Qara city, the
army soldiers found a so-called “Sharia Law Court” which the terrorists had been using
to “prosecute” the abductees, in addition to a prison containing torture equipment
and a field hospital with large amounts of stolen medicine and medical equipment.

He added that the army units also seized scores of cars equipped with heavy machine

Source: SANA


Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Joseph Earnest - November 19, 2013 at 8:06 pm

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