This is how the press slowly twists the truth (truth= news), to slant sheepish popular opinion in the direction of one of the Imperial candidates. This Romney creep is clearly not the front-runner, having done no better than Ron Paul has so far.
[Operation “Memo-gate” is running as smoothly as a military operation. After a fake mission to kill a fake “bin Laden,” the civilian govt allegedly petitions the US for protection from an alleged military coup, even though the military ties between the two govts. is the stronger tie. Lo and behold, the operation becomes public, somehow pushing it into the Supreme Court, where the military sends word that the alleged coup is untrue, whereupon the civilian govt. cries foul. Now that things have come to a head, it is time for the test, which will prove where the true power lies in Pakistan, which will result in the military creating order. End of story.]
By Haris Anwar and James Rupert
(Bloomberg) — Pakistan’s army warned of “grievous consequences” after the Prime Minister accused it of violating the constitution, and the government sacked the defense secretary in the latest signs of escalating tensions between the military and the country’s elected leadership.
Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani criticized the army in a Jan. 9 interview for overstepping its authority in directly submitting to the Supreme Court its response to claims the government sought U.S. help to stop a possible coup. The showdown comes hours after Gilani and President Asif Ali Zardari summoned parliament to garner support following a top court declaration yesterday that the prime minister had violated his oath of office by refusing to pursue corruption charges against the president.
“There can be no allegation more serious than what the honorable prime minister has leveled,” a statement on the military’s website said today. “This has very serious ramifications with potentially grievous consequences for the country.”
The political upheaval in the nuclear-armed nation threatens to complicate U.S. plans to bolster security in the region as it withdraws troops from neighboring Afghanistan. It may also hamper efforts to revive Pakistan’s economy that grew 2.4 percent in the year ended June 30, one of its slowest expansions in a decade.
Shortly after the military issued its statement, Gilani’s spokesman said the premier had fired the country’s defense secretary, retired Lieutenant General Naeem Khalid Lodhi, for misconduct.
Zardari and Gilani convened leaders of their Pakistan People’s Party and its allies yesterday after the Supreme Court decision on the graft cases. A separate judicial commission is investigating whether Zardari and his ambassador to the U.S. authorized a memo in May that sought American pressure against a feared military coup following the killing of Osama bin Laden.
–With assistance from Mark Williams in New Delhi. Editors: Mark Williams, Peter Hirschberg
To contact the reporters on this story: Haris Anwar in Islamabad at email@example.com; James Rupert in New Delhi at firstname.lastname@example.org
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Peter Hirschberg at email@example.com
Ross calls for governments to support an open Internet, but not for terrorism organizations
By Grant Gross
IDG News Service — Government officials worldwide should stop fighting against the use of social media and embrace conversations with their citizens, except in the case of terrorist groups, a U.S. Department of State official said Tuesday.
It will be difficult for government officials to control social media use, Alec Ross, senior advisor for innovation in the Office of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, said during an online chat with journalists. A journalist from Guyana asked Ross how governments should “deal with or control” the negative consequences of social media.
While Ross agreed that social media can be used for bad purposes, he questioned whether governments can control their use. “The 21st century is a lousy time to be a control freak,” he said. “Instead of regulating this environment, or seeking to control the environment, I think what’s important is that we engage in it.”
The Arab spring, a pro-democracy movement that ignited in North Africa a year ago, showed the power of social media, Ross said. “Social media is changing the entire ecology of geo-politics,” he said. “It redistributes power from hierarchies to citizens, from large institutions and the nation state to individuals and networks of individuals.”
Ross encouraged governments to support an “open Internet,” even amid calls to tighten up security in the face of continued cyberattacks.
Ross made an exception, however, for terrorist organizations when asked about a legal effort to block alleged terrorist groups from using social media.
Ross said he has “no sympathy” for al-Shabaab, a Somali militant group, and other terrorist groups. “For me to think about whether they should be allowed to use Twitter or not, I go to a more fundamental question, which is, do they have the right to exist or not?” he said. “My answer to that is no. They should be dismantled, they should be destroyed. They certainly aren’t going to see me advocate for their [free speech] rights.”
Ross also fielded questions about whether the U.S. Department of Justice’s decision to subpoena Twitter account records and the proposed Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the U.S. Congress violate the State Department’s policy of pushing for Internet freedom.
Ross defended the DOJ’s right to subpoena Twitter records, saying the agency has an obligation to investigate crime. Subpoenas of Twitter records are no different than DOJ subpoenas of phone records, which the agency does hundreds of times each year while investigating crimes, he said.
Ross ducked the question on SOPA, saying that the legislation is a long way from being approved by Congress. SOPA would allow the DOJ to seek court orders requiring domain-name registrars, search engines and ISPs to block U.S. residents from accessing foreign websites accused of copyright infringement.
Questions on SOPA are a “hypothetical based on a theoretical,” Ross said. “Some people are talking about SOPA like it’s law — it’s not. As of now, it’s doing nothing. It’s just one of thousands of bills being considered in the United States Congress.”
Grant Gross covers technology and telecom policy in the U.S. government for The IDG News Service. Follow Grant on Twitter at GrantGross. Grant’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
A series of Russian satellite failures over the past year may be due to sabotage by foreign nations, Russia’s space chief said on Tuesday in remarks that seemed to be directed at the United States.
“I wouldn’t like to accuse anyone, but today there exists powerful means to influence spacecraft, and their use can’t be excluded,” said Roscosmos chief Vladimir Popovkin in an interview with Izvestia daily.
Popovkin said it was not clear why several launches went amiss at precisely the instant the spacecraft were moving through areas invisible to Russian radar.
“It is unclear why our setbacks often occur when the vessels are travelling through what for Russia is the ‘dark’ side of the Earth — in areas where we do not see the craft and do not receive its telemetry readings,” he said.
One of highest-profile failures took place last November, when Russia’s Mars probe, named the Phobos-Grunt, became stuck in a low Earth orbit. The 13.5-ton probe’s shattered fragments are expected to crash back to Earth on Sunday.
Popovkin said there is “no clarity” over why the spacecraft’s booster rocket failed to fire as scheduled.
However, he acknowledged that the mission was perilous because it involved an underfunded project whose original designs date back to the Soviet era.
“If we did not manage to launch it in the window open in 2011 for a Mars mission, we would have had to simply throw it away, writing off a loss of five billion rubles ($160 million),” he said.
Popovkin assumed his role as Russia’s space agency chief in April, after its previous head was fired following a humiliating loss of three navigation satellites during launch.
But the problems accelerated under Popovkin’s watch, as Russia lost several more satellites while its Progress cargo ship had its first-ever failure on a mission to the International Space Station.
The setback of the Mars mission was followed last month by the loss of the Meridian communications satellite, whose fragments crashed into a house in Siberia.
There were no reported injuries, but a 20-inch fragment created a hole in the roof of the house, which was ironically located on Cosmonaut Street.
Image Caption: A Zenit rocket with Phobos-Grunt is being erected onto the launch pad on November 6.
The Eurasian Union will be a full-fledged economic bloc, modelled on the European Union, with a common currency, harmonised legislation, and coordinated economic and monetary policies.
Twenty years after the breakup of the Soviet Union, Russia has moved decisively to reintegrate former Soviet states in a closely knit economic alliance.
On January 1, a Common Economic Space (CES) comprising Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus came into force. For the first time in post-Soviet history, three ex-Soviet states created a supranational economic entity to which they agreed to delegate a part of their sovereignty. It is the second stage in Moscow’s ambitious project of rebuilding a single economic system that existed in the erstwhile Soviet Union. In the first phase, Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus set up a Customs Union, under which the three states removed customs controls on their borders last summer.
The CES takes the integration process a big step forward. It provides for free movement of goods, services, capital and labour in the three-cornered union. The real breakthrough is the establishment of the Eurasian Economic Commission (EEC) which will monitor the compliance of the member-states with the rules of the CES, and the CES Court for resolving business disputes. Day-to-day work of the EEC with a staff of 800 will be handled by the Board chaired in rotation by representatives of the member-states. The Commission will also have an upper tier, the EEC Council, consisting of three Deputy Prime Ministers delegated by the member-states, and the apex body, the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council, which will consist of the heads of state and government.
OPEN TO OTHER COUNTRIES
By 2015, the Common Economic Space is to be upgraded to the Eurasian Union, a full-fledged economic bloc, modelled on the European Union, with a common currency, harmonised legislation, and closely coordinated economic and monetary policies. The Eurasian Union will be open to other countries, both inside and outside the former Soviet Union. Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan have already applied, and Russia is actively courting Ukraine. In October, Russia set up a free trade zone in the former Soviet space, designed to serve as a “prep school” for other ex-Soviet states that may be willing to join the Eurasia Union. So far, seven out of 11 members of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) have signed the free trade pact — Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Armenia, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova and Tajikistan.
The loose CIS, set up immediately after the disintegration of the Soviet Union, served its purpose as an instrument of “civilised divorce” but was useless as a mechanism of economic integration. The past two decades saw several attempts to set up economic alliances but they all failed. This happened partly because Moscow sought to draw in as many newly independent states as possible, including those which feared falling back in Russia’s orbit, and partly because Russia, being by far the largest economy, insisted on having a dominant say in a would-be alliance. (Russia’s Gross Domestic Product is seven times that of Ukraine, the second biggest economy in the former Soviet Union). It was not until Moscow agreed to give its partners equal rights in the new union and to bear the main costs of integration that it could set the ball rolling.
Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus will have one vote each in the governing bodies of the Eurasian Economic Commission and all decisions will be taken by consensus. At the same time, contributions to the EEC budget will be proportionate to the relative size of the members’ economies, with Russia footing more than four-fifths of the bill. Under the Customs Union agreement, Russia cancelled export duties for crude oil and reduced gas prices for Belarus. This will cost Russia four to five billion dollars a year.
However, benefits may far outweigh the costs. The CES union has created a common market of 170 million people with a $2.55-trillion economy, $900-billion trade and 90 billion barrels of oil reserves. It is the world’s largest union in terms of territory and the sixth biggest in terms of GDP. Experts have estimated that membership in the CES will generate additional 15 to 17 per cent growth rates in each of the member-states over the next 10 years. Trade within the Customs Union grew by nearly $20 billion, or more than 43 per cent in the 10 months of 2011.
Moscow has made clear that it looks beyond the current tripartite configuration of the Eurasian Union and its purely economic agenda. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin set out his vision of the Eurasian Union in a keynote article published in October, days after he announced his bid to reclaim presidency in the March 2012 elections.
“We are proposing a new, powerful, supranational union capable of becoming one of the poles in the modern world, and playing the role of an effective bridge between Europe and the dynamic Asia-Pacific region,” Mr. Putin wrote in the article titled “A new integration project for Eurasia: The future in the making.”
To live up to Mr. Putin’s vision, the Eurasian Union must expand. It must include at least one more ex-Soviet state — Ukraine — which is the most coveted prize in Mr. Putin’s game plan. The U.S. master geo-strategist, Zbigniew Brzezinski, aptly described Ukraine as a “geopolitical pivot” that can make or break Russia’s bid to re-emerge as a global power.
“Without Ukraine, Russia ceases to be a Eurasian empire,” he wrote in his bookThe Grand Chessboard. “…However, if Moscow regains control over Ukraine, with its 52 million people and major resources as well as its access to the Black Sea, Russia automatically again regains the wherewithal to become a powerful imperial state, spanning Europe and Asia.”
The failure of the Orange Revolution in Ukraine with its euphoria for a fast-track accession to the Euro-Atlantic community has given Moscow a new chance to draw its largest Slav neighbour into its orbit. Kyiv still insists that integration with Europe is its top foreign policy priority, but the European Union in December put off the signing of a free-trade and association agreement with Ukraine over the imprisonment in Ukraine of the former “orange” Prime Minister, Yulia Timoshenko, while the Euro crisis has killed Ukraine’s hopes of gaining EU membership in the foreseeable future.
Meanwhile, Moscow has stepped up a carrot-and-stick policy towards Ukraine. The free trade agreement Ukraine signed with the CIS in October will facilitate exports of its metals, confectionery and machines to Russia, but oil and gas will be exempt from the pact. Russia has refused to lower the price of natural gas for Ukraine and moved to reduce its dependence on Ukrainian pipelines for gas transit to Europe. With the launch in November of the Nord Stream gas pipeline across the Baltic Sea to Germany, and the planned construction of the South Stream gas pipeline across the Black Sea to Europe by 2015, Ukraine will lose its only bargaining chip in gas price talks with Russia. Moscow has graphically demonstrated to Kyiv the benefits of joining the Eurasian Union by slashing gas prices for Belarus for 2012 by almost half. In 2012, Belarus will pay $165.6 per 1000 cubic metres of gas compared with a crippling $416 Ukraine paid in the last quarter of 2011. Mr. Putin estimated that Ukraine would stand to gain $9 billion a year from membership in the Customs Union, but if it refuses to join, the member-states may close their borders to Ukrainian exports.
The main risks for the Eurasian Union are political. Mass protests in Russia against fraudulent elections to Parliament last month may undermine Mr. Putin’s hold on power; Kazakhstan may be entering a period of instability following deadly riots in an oil-rich region in December; Belarus President Alexander Lukashenka faces growing opposition to his 17-year-old authoritarian rule.
REALITY BY 2015
However, if the risks do not materialise in the next few years, the Eurasian Union may well become a reality by 2015. Russia’s allies are demonstrating growing willingness to act in unison, and not only in economic matters. Last month, the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO), the defence bloc which, apart from the three Eurasian Union members, includes Armenia, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, took the historic decision that foreign military bases can be deployed on their territory only with the consent of all member-states. The decision gives Moscow effective veto power over the U.S. and NATO military infrastructure in Central Asia.
Russia has good reason to be in a hurry to set up the Eurasian Union by 2015. The planned withdrawal of the U.S. and NATO forces from Afghanistan by 2014 may well lead to the comeback of the Taliban and a spill-over of terrorism to Central Asia, Russia’s soft underbelly. Russia also needs to consolidate its grip on Central Asia to parry challenges from the U.S. “new silk road” plan and China’s economic push in the region.
The Eurasian Union looks set to become the overarching theme of Mr. Putin’s new six-year presidential term.
TEHRAN: An Iranian nuclear scientist was killed and two people injured when a magnetic bomb attached to a car by a duo on a motorbike exploded outside a Tehran university on Wednesday, Iranian news agencies said.
The person killed was identified by several media as Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan, a scientist who worked on separating gases at the Natanz uranium enrichment facility, according to the website of a different university from which he graduated around a decade ago.
“This morning a motorbiker attached a bomb to a Peugeot 405, which exploded,” the deputy governor of Tehran province, Safar Ali Bratloo, was quoted as saying by the ILNA news agency.
The explosion occurred outside the east Tehran campus of Allameh Tabatai University, at its social sciences faculty.
Ahmadi Roshan was killed and the two wounded passengers were taken to hospital, Bratloo said.
Sharif University, Tehran’s elite technical university where the slain scientist had studied, said Ahmadi Roshan was specialised in making polymeric membranes used to separate gas. Iran uses gas separation to enrich uranium.
Three other Iranian scientists were killed in 2010 and 2011 when their cars blew up in similar circumstances. At least two of the scientists had also been working on nuclear activities.
One of the attacks occurred exactly two years ago, on January 11, 2010, killing scientist Masoud Ali Mohammdi.
The current head of Iran’s atomic organisation, Fereydoun Abbasi, escaped another such attempt in November 2010, getting out of his car with his wife just before the attached bomb exploded.
Those attacks were viewed by Iranian officials as assassination operations carried out by Israel’s Mossad intelligence service, possibly with help from US counterparts.
The latest blast comes amid extremely high international tensions over Iran’s nuclear programme, which the West and Israel believe conceals research to develop an atomic bomb.
Israel has threatened to launch air strikes on Iran’s nuclear facilities.
The United States has said “all options are on the table” in terms of dealing with Iran — including military action.
Tehran, which has repeatedly denied that its nuclear programme is for anything other than peaceful purposes, has threatened to close the strategic Strait of Hormuz at the entrance to the Gulf if it is attacked. Twenty per cent of the world’s oil flows through that strait.
Wednesday’s car explosion followed confirmation on Monday by the International Atomic Energy Agency that Iran had started uranium enrichment at a fortified underground bunker southwest of Tehran, in Fordo.
The United States, Britain, France, Germany and Italy have viewed that development with alarm, saying it was a violation of UN Security Council resolutions on Iran.
By Pierre KHALAF (Lebanon)
These positions and movements of individuals claiming to represent “popular legitimacy” fit well within the US policies whose primary purpose is to protect the Jewish state. And it’s not a chance. This confirms what we write in this newsletter for more than seven months. Moreover, Western research centers are more likely to report it and the former French Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hubert Védrine, has clearly said at a conference in Beirut last week: “The United States supports the Muslim Brotherhood, “he said. This largely explains the distrust of Archbishop Bechara Rai Maronite Patriarch against the “Arab Spring”, which is likely to result in, he said, by a fragmentation of the Middle East in religious entities, which serve the interests of Israel, and poses serious threats to the presence of Christians and other religious minorities in this region.
The blank check for the arrival of the Islamists to power in Tunisia, Libya and now in Egypt, should convince those who still doubt the real intentions of the West, led by the United States.
The attempt to destroy the Syrian national state and breaking up the country is one of the main pieces of this puzzle that the West is trying to collect. That’s why he condones the crimes committed in Syria by the extremist armed groups, which he now appends the label of “deserters”, less repulsive in the eyes of Western public opinion that Salafis or Muslim extremists .
Dominated by the United States, unaware of the impact it may suffer, Europe rolls out red carpet to the Islamist movement, there is little regarded as a serious danger.
The trend in Syria
The development of events in Syria can not be separated from regional and international context. The authority has agreed to sign the protocol developed by the Arab League on the sending of observers, in full cooperation with Russia. Moreover, Russian diplomatic sources in Lebanon say that Russia does not release the Syrian regime, and this support is a strategic issue for Moscow. These assurances are contrary to predictions responsible for the pro-Western coalition of 14-Mar.
Faced with Russian support for Syria, it becomes difficult to overthrow the military regime, despite the preparations for this purpose in Turkey, Lebanon and, to a lesser extent, Jordan. By cons, pressure on Syria will continue, particularly as we approach the end of the US withdrawal from Iraq. The Americans want to cause trouble to divert public attention from this withdrawal and defeat of the atmosphere that surrounds it. In addition, disturbances in Syria are intended to replace the military attack against Iran that is becoming increasingly difficult in this climate of crisis and with the financial problems which agitate Europe and the United States.
The situation in Syria is expected to remain unstable, even if the plan has finally decided to sign the protocol of the Arab League, it would no doubt find other angles to maintain the pressure. However, the sanctions of the Arab League would have strengthened the patriotic sentiment among Syrians, the people with a lot of national pride. Moreover, the Muslim Brotherhood was virtually eradicated in the country in 80 years, they have not had time to acquire a large popular base and they are forced to bear arms and to commit real massacres to mark their presence.
In parallel, the statements of the head of the Syrian National Council in Istanbul, Bourhan Ghalioun, against Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas, have shocked much of the Syrian population. Rumors about a meeting that would have held in October in Washington between Obama administration officials, a representative of the CNS and an Israeli official began to circulate. According to these rumors, the representative of the NSC would have requested financial aid, diplomatic recognition from the international community and military intervention against his own country.
On the ground, the violence continues, and the demonstrations against and in favor of the plan. But it has managed to embarrass the Arab League in expressing its readiness to sign the protocol to send observers. The process should take a few days or weeks, while the developments throughout the region remain more or less uncontrollable and that the situation remains volatile in Egypt, Bahrain and Yemen.
The United States had quietly sought to open a dialogue with Iran but the Islamic Republic would have opposed an unqualified refusal to this request. By cons, Tehran would have asked to open a dialogue with Saudi Arabia, which also rejected the suggestion. This means that for now, the channels of negotiations stuck on the dual regional and international levels.
The internal situation in Syria is solid, while the plan to create a buffer zone on the border with Turkey is in trouble. Not to mention the fact that Russia has in turn put pressure on Turkey, which has also a fragile social fabric. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdogan Tayyeb up tone toward Syria as it seeks to hide its failure to act on the ground.
Statements and positions
Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, Hezbollah Secretary General:
“This is a message to all those who conspire against the Resistance and capitalize on change. We would never consider giving up our weapons. Day after day, resistance is recruiting more fighters, the best form of combatants and weapons more heavily. The United States seeks to destroy Syria to compensate for their defeat in Iraq. The United States tried to pass themselves off as defenders of human rights and democracy in the Arab world. These hypocrites are known to have supported all dictatorships and have disowned immediately after their fall. It is the mark of Satan. The Syrian opposition is submitted to the United States and Israel. From the very beginning, we said clearly that we stand with the Syrian regime, a regime of resistance against Israel. Opposition wants to destroy Syria. The so-called Syrian National Council, formed in Istanbul, and its leader Bourhan Ghalioun try to present their credentials to the United States and Israel. The words of some that the weapons of resistance are the source of chaos, turmoil, or some security concerns in Lebanon, is a deception. Have you ever seen a security problem in Lebanon or a civil war during which missiles are fired Zelzal, Raad and Khaybar? Small arms are present in the hands of all Lebanese. If we want security on the inside, we must consider the problem of what types of weapons. “
Source: Shaahidun Blog