Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Missile hit Pentagon on 9/11: Video

Source: Press TV

On the verge of the 9/11 tenth anniversary, leaked videos confirm eye-witnesses' accounts that the attack was made by a cruise missile rather than a passenger plane, an editor told Press TV's US Desk.

"There were 85 videos; another video was released yesterday (August 29). Now it hasn't been carefully vetted but it appears to be quite genuine that clearly shows a cruise missile from another angle hitting the Pentagon," Gordon Duff, senior editor of Veterans Today, told Press TV's US Desk on Tuesday.

Duff said that CNN reporters at the scene of the 9/11 event in 2001 said they had not seen any plane wreckage after the attack.

According to "reliable reports" from airline pilots, it would be "impossible" for the plane and any pilot at all, including the top air force and navy pilots in the US, to have flown a plane in such a way the Pentagon, he added.

"We have engineers at Boeing -- the company that manufactured the plane that supposedly hit the Pentagon -- that say it couldn't fly that fast, it can't fly that low, it can't make those turns and it couldn't have been there," the investigative journalist said.

The close photographs of the Pentagon also show no wreckage of the plane, although normally remains of a plane wreck sometimes cover a square of a mile.

The plane crash does not create a hole 7 to 8 feet across, but it rather creates a hole where the wing hits over 120 feet across, experts say.

"But none of that had happened," he mentioned.

The video that is available now shows that the missile was rectangular, white, seemingly 17 to 20 feet, supersonic, without wings but with a small tail.

It is still pure conjecture who planned the attack and why he did it, but it is quite clear it was not a plane, according to Duff.

"We're willing to prove it wasn't a plane. We'll prove it in any court of law. Now we have solid evidence that we've put together for ten years," Duff said. "It is our belief that members of the US government and one other foreign government were complicit in the planning and execution of the attacks on 9/11."

It is very distressing for veterans to know that their own government was responsible for the disaster, and on September 11, 2011 "they are going to come out, parade around, and lie to us again," he concluded.

Ron Paul: US 'out of money' and 'bankrupt'

Source: Press TV

Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul says the U.S. is "out of money" and the country is "bankrupt". The Texas Congressman made the comment in an interview with Fox News Chris Wallace on Friday.

Paul was talking about the lack of efficiency at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

"We've conditioned our people that FEMA will take care of us and everything will be OK. But you try to make these programs work the best you can. But you can't just keep saying, Oh, they need money. We're out of money. This country is bankrupt," he said.

The congressman urged President Barack Obama to “quit that war in Libya that is undeclared and unconstitutional.”

“Bring those troops home, save two billion dollars. Put a billion against the deficit and tide our people over.”


The U.S. Treasury is borrowing $4.22 billion per day, adding to the current debt. Real Clear Politics

A U.S. Treasury Department report to Congress forecasts that the U.S. debt will rise to $19.6 trillion by 2015. Reuters

Together with interest on the national debt, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid are on course to consume the entire federal budget as soon as 2025. Orlando Sentinel

The U.S. debt deal would raise the debt ceiling by at least 2.1 trillion dollars and cut spending of roughly 2.4 trillion dollars over the next 10 years. CNN

Cheney defends Iraq war, water-boarding

Former Vice President Dick Cheney

Source: Press TV

Former Vice President Dick Cheney has continued to defend the post-Sept. 11 advice he gave to push for the U.S. invasion of Iraq.

“I think I did” give the right advice to then-President George W. Bush, Cheney said on NBC's “Today” show.

"Oh, sure," Cheney said, when asked whether the war was worth it. "I think it was sound policy that eliminated a very serious problem," he said, speaking of former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

"I don't think it damaged our reputation around the world," he added.

Cheney has been making the media rounds to promote his memoir, "In My Time", which he has said will make “heads explode.”

Cheney also doubled down on his advocacy of the use of water-boarding as an interrogation technique after 9/11, something he also defends in his memoir.

"I was a big advocate of pursuing controversial policies in order to keep our country safe," Cheney said. "It's important for us not to get caught up in the notion that you can only have popular methods of interrogation in order to run a counter-terrorism program." The Hill


Former Vice President Dick Cheney lied about weapons of mass destruction and Saddam Hussein's nonexistent ties to the 9/11 attack as a way to justify the war with Iraq, a country that never attacked the United States.

During the course of the Iraq war, the Bush/Cheney administration violated the Geneva Conventions by targeting civilians, journalists, hospitals, and ambulances, and using illegal weapons, including white phosphorous, depleted uranium, and a new type of napalm.

Guantanamo Bay has become an international symbol of everything that was rotten about Bush and Cheney's "war on terror". It was created cynically as a way of avoiding America's obligations under international law and putting the detainees beyond the reach of U.S. justice.

The Interrogation and detention regime implemented by the U.S. has resulted in the deaths of over 100 detainees in U.S. custody.

In July, HRW published a detailed report on the mistreatment of detainees under the administration of former President George W. Bush, which the group said presented more than sufficient evidence to warrant criminal investigations into the possible complicity of top U.S. officials like former secretary of defense Donald Rumsfeld, Cheney and George Tenet, then-director of the CIA.

'No more permanent US bases in Iraq'

Iraq's Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki

Source: Press TV

Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki says there will not be any permanent US bases in Iraq and the American forces will leave the Middle Eastern country by the end of the year as scheduled.

“The agreement on the withdrawal of American forces will be implemented on schedule by the end of the year, and there will not be any bases for US forces here,” Maliki said on Tuesday, AFP reported.

Around 47,000 American soldiers are now stationed in Iraq, all of whom must leave the country by the end of 2011 under the terms of a 2008 bilateral security agreement between Washington and Baghdad.

The Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) also forced Washington to end its combat operations in Iraq in August 2010.

Iraq's influential cleric Muqtada al-Sadr warned earlier in August that any US training mission in Iraq after 2011 will be confronted by “military means.”

Iraqi Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi has also said a continued US military presence in the country is “a problem, not a solution,” adding that their year-end pullout will improve Iraq's security.

Despite claims by Washington that the United States no longer engages in combat actions in Iraq, there have been numerous reports of US troops' involvement in military operations in the country.

Many observers believe that Washington has no intention to leave Iraq as US troops have built several bases in the country.

Report: Israel arming, training settlers

An armed Israeli settler (file photo)

Source: Press TV

The Israeli regime plans to arm and train settlers in the occupied West Bank to confront Palestinians as the Palestinian Authority (PA) intends to seek UN membership in September, reports say.

According to a document acquired by Israeli Haaretz newspaper, the army has distributed tear gas and stun grenades among settlers to disperse Palestinian demonstrators, the Israeli newspaper reported on Tuesday.

The Israeli military has also been providing special training to settlement security chiefs and their teams at army bases and most settlers already have assault rifles and pistols, the report said.

The move is based on the army's assumption that a Palestinian declaration of independence will lead to public uprisings “which will mainly include mass disorder.”

According to an Israeli army spokesman, the army “is holding an ongoing professional dialogue with elements in the settlement leadership … for possible scenarios. "The Central Command has recently completed much training for the emergency response squads, and this training is ongoing.”

The spokesman, however, refused to go into the details on operational readiness.

The army has specified two “virtual lines,” for each of the settlements close to Palestinian villages.

If Palestinian demonstrators cross the first line, they will be met with tear gas and if they cross the second line they will be shot in the leg, the report says.

Israeli officials have warned that the stepped-up readiness will last for at least several weeks.

The Palestinian Authority has declared September 20 as the date when it would apply for the United Nations' recognition of Palestine as an independent state.

More than 100 countries have so far officially recognized Palestine as a sovereign state based on the 1967 borders, the boundaries that existed before Israel captured and annexed East al-Quds (Jerusalem), the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

Israeli Foreign Ministry sources estimate that 130-140 countries will vote in favor of the Palestinians.

Israel sends warships to Egypt border

Israeli soldiers (file photo)

Source: Press TV

The Israeli Navy has sent two more warships to the Egypt border in the Red Sea, saying that southern Israel could be attacked from Egyptian soil, a claim denied by Cairo.

“Two naval craft have been sent to the Red Sea,” AP quoted an Israeli military official as saying on Tuesday.

Earlier on Monday, Israeli Defense Forces' (IDF) Chief of Staff Lt. Gen Benny Gantz authorized bolstering deployment across the entire southern territories, specifically areas close to the Israeli-Egyptian border.

Meanwhile, areas next to the border have in recent weeks become the scene of increased military build-up described by some security observers as “unprecedented,” after several Israelis were killed in an attack on a number of vehicler near the Egypt border on Aug. 18.

Following the attacks, Israeli officials had claimed that Egypt's grip on Sinai was weakening.

Meanwhile, Egypt's South Sinai Governor Khaled Fouda denied reports that the attackers had opened fire on Israeli vehicles from Sinai.

"The South Sinai governor denied there was any gunfire from Taba towards Eilat port," state television said in reference to the Egyptian Red Sea resort across the border from Eilat.

UK, France deploy ground troops to Libya

Source: Press TV

North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) has confirmed that some of its member countries such as Britain and France may have troops deployed to Libya.

An unnamed NATO official admitted that Britain and France have deployed ground troops inside the Libyan territory, but said it would be "unfair to call them NATO forces."

Meanwhile, the Russian ambassador to NATO, Dmitry Rogozin, said there is "direct evidence" that British and French Special Forces were carrying out ground operations in Libya in violation of UN Security Council resolution 1973.

The resolution, passed in March, authorized a no-fly zone over Libya to protect civilians.

NATO spokeswoman Oana Lungescu said last week the alliance had no troops on the ground in Libya, and would not have any after the regime fell.

"The leading role in the post-Gaddafi period in supporting the Libyan people rests with the United Nations and the Contact Group. NATO will be in a supporting role… NATO will have no troops on the ground," Lungescu told reporters in Brussels.

British Defense Secretary Liam Fox told Sky News last week that the [revolutionary forces] were getting intelligence and reconnaissance assistance from NATO.

Last week, Britain's Daily Telegraph newspaper claimed that Britain's elite Special Air Service regiment (SAS) were helping the [revolutionary forces] hunt down Col Muammar Gaddafi, whose forces have lost control of most of the country including the capital Tripoli.

Gaddafi's whereabouts remain unknown, though the transitional government says he is still in hiding in Tripoli.

The [revolutionary forces], who seized Tripoli a week ago, have offered a USD1.3 million reward and amnesty from prosecution for anyone who kills or captures Gaddafi.

'Tahrir-style occupation planned in US'

David Swanson (file photo)

Source: Press TV

Organizers of the October 2011 Movement in the United States have planned to occupy Freedom Plaza in the capital, in a move similar to “the occupation of Tahrir Square,” Press TV reported.

“We are going to occupy Freedom Plaza in the middle of Washington DC, the name of which is very similar of course to Tahrir Square in Cairo, Egypt, and from there we are going go to expand to shut down offices, buildings, streets, hallways, to nonviolently, strictly nonviolently resist what our government is doing,” said David Swanson, a member of the movement, on Monday.

In an interview with Press TV, Swanson further said that the occupation, that is set to begin on October 6, coincides with the “ten year mark in the war in Afghanistan that they have now suggested may continue for another 13 years or so.”

The aim of the occupation is to raise taxes for the wealthy and corporations, end the wars the country is engaged in and to protect the social safety net by strengthening Social Security and Medicare amongst others.

Moreover, Swanson added the occupation will continue until the group believes that they “have achieved some movement in the right direction, some success, some reversal of the course that our government is on.”

The occupation is being organized at a website called

The movement further explains it has been inspired by the courageous and nonviolent uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain, Yemen, Greece and Spain.

British housing market in crisis

Source: Press TV

The National Housing Federation (NHF) has warned that the housing market will be “plunged into crisis"' without government action to deal with the "chronic under-supply of homes.”

The NHS said that home ownership in England will fall to 63.8% over the next decade, which would be the lowest point since mid 80s. The federation stressed that high deposits, together with house prices and firm lending criteria, have hit home ownership.

"With home ownership in decline, rents rising rapidly and social housing waiting lists at a record high, it's time to face up to the fact that we have a totally dysfunctional housing market,” Federation chief executive David Orr said.

Orr insisted that more government investment could encourage a wider, faster economic recovery and help fix the country's broken housing markets.

"Home ownership is increasingly becoming the preserve of the wealthy and, in parts of the country like London, the very wealthy. And for the millions locked out of the property market the options are becoming increasingly limited as demand sends rents rising sharply and social homes waiting lists remain at record levels," he added.

Housing Minister Grant Shapps confirmed that the coalition government has not been building enough homes but claimed that it was "in the process of reversing that through massive planning reform" and a "massive program" concerning the release of thousands of acres of public land to “get Britain building again.”

"And despite the need to tackle the deficit we inherited, this government is putting £4.5 billion towards an affordable homes program which is set to exceed our original expectations and deliver up to 170,000 new homes over the next four years," Shapps added.

Campbell Robb, chief executive of housing charity Shelter, said that with rents increasing, more and more people across England will remain desperate for a reasonably priced place to live.

"With major developers holding planning permission for at least 188,000 new homes, the government must urgently look at ways to get construction going. This will not only create jobs and drive growth but will deliver the homes people desperately need," Robb added.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Britain enacts blanket ban on protests

Source: Press TV

The British government has applied a blanket ban on all kind of marches and protest gatherings in London amid fears of violence and disorder.

The Home Office announced the blanket ban on all marches in five London boroughs for 30 days starting from September 2, the Independent reported.

Home Secretary Theresa May banned all marches in Tower Hamlets, east London, and four neighboring boroughs in the capital for a 30-day period following a request from Scotland Yard Acting Commissioner Tim Godwin.

The move comes amid fears of violence and disorder if the marches were allowed to go ahead.

"Having carefully considered the legal tests in the Public Order Act and balanced rights to protest against the need to ensure local communities and property are protected, I have given my consent to a ban on all marches in Tower Hamlets and four neighboring boroughs for a 30-day period”, said the Home Secretary.

"I know that the Metropolitan Police are committed to using their powers to ensure communities and properties are protected”, added Theresa May.

"We encourage all local people and community leaders to work with the police to ensure community relations are not undermined by public disorder", she said.

Therefore, the English Defense League's plan to march through the capital next month was blocked by the Home Secretary.

But, the British Unite against Fascism (UAF) and United East End (UEE) movement threatened that they will press ahead with the plan for anti Fascist march on September 3, issuing the following statement:

“We the undersigned welcome the banning of the racist English Defense League's (EDL) march through Tower Hamlets.

However, we believe the headlines claiming the EDL have been "banned" from Tower Hamlets are misleading. The EDL will still be holding a static protest in the borough.

“We are also appalled to discover that the Metropolitan Police are applying for a blanket ban on ALL marches across five London boroughs: Tower Hamlets, Newham, Hackney, Islington and Waltham Forest; and the City of London for 30 days”, said the statement.

“This is a huge attack on everyone's civil liberties and prevents people's right to oppose racism.

“We have the democratic right to peacefully march through Tower Hamlets on 3 September to show unity of Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Sikh, Hindu, Black, Asian, LGBT communities, trade unions and all those against fascism and for freedom, and to voice opposition to the EDL's attempts to divide us.

“Our legal advice says there is no law that says if one march has been banned all marches in that area must be banned.

“It is our human right to peacefully march in Tower Hamlets.

“We therefore support the joint UAF/UEE protest on 3 September”, added the statement.

The government's blanket ban is part of an on-going attempt to undermine the right to protest in the UK.

The coalition is designating harsh measures to silence all anti-government protests in the country.

The ban will also affect London's most important protest against the arms trade called “Disarm DSEi,” which has been organized by anti-war activists to urge the government to shut down the world's largest arms fair on September 13.

London is to host the world's biggest arms fair, Defense & Security Equipment International (DSEi), on 13-16 September at the ExCeL center in East London's Docklands.

The fair holds every two years in London, this year more than 1200 arms companies will exhibit their deadly products to 25,000 buyers from across the world, including repressive and human rights abusing regimes.

“Europe Against Austerity” protest on October 1 would also be involved in the Home Office's blanket ban plan.

Leading British trade unions, social movements and progressive organizations have decided to stage a protest at European Conference against Austerity and Privatization.

Hurricane Irene kills 7 in US, Caribbean

Hurricane Irene battering the seafront in the Dominican Republic

Source: Press TV

Hurricane Irene has left at least seven people dead in the United States, Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic and destroyed homes in the Bahamas.

In the US, Irene killed three people in North Carolina and one in Virginia, and the hurricane also killed one person in Puerto Rico and two in the Dominican Republic, VOA reported on Saturday.

With sustained winds of 85 miles (140 kilometers) per hour, Irene lost power to become a massive Category 1 storm. It had been a Category 2 storm with winds around 100 miles (over 160 kilometers) per hour.

The hurricane made landfall at 8:00 a.m. on Saturday morning (1200 GMT) at Cape Lookout near the southern end of a chain of barrier islands in North Carolina.

Its torrential rains and high winds have shut down major highways, airports, and left 630,000 people without power in North Carolina.

About a quarter of a million people were ordered to evacuate from a section of New York by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg.

Along the East Coast, the train service is on hold. Many flights have also been cancelled.

In the US, warnings are being issued announcing that Irene is still a dangerous hurricane and is not to be underestimated.

On Saturday afternoon, forecasters said the effects of Irene could be felt as far north as Canada even after it loses strength. A tropical storm warning extended from the US border to Nova Scotia's southern coast.

The Red Cross says it is facing one of the greatest aid and rescue missions in its history.

China lashes out at Pentagon report

Source: Press TV

The Chinese government reacted strongly on Friday to a Pentagon report that warned China's military modernization could destabilize the Asia-pacific region.

The Chinese Defense Ministry says the U.S. military's annual assessment of China's armed forces, indulged in exaggeration and groundless suspicion.

Military wariness between the two nations remains a source of tension. And the recent U.S. Defense Department Report once again underlines this.

The Pentagon report predicts that by 2020, the Chinese People's Liberation Army will become a "modern, regional-focused military", and claims that the Chinese mainland is focusing its military buildup on Taiwan.

But China replied saying that as technology advances, it's very normal for the Chinese military to develop and upgrade its weaponry. The Pentagon report merely "exaggerated the so-called mainland military threat to Taiwan." Xinhua


Major investments in aircraft, a space program and maritime technologies by China that have closed the technical gap with the United States military put strengthening Sino-U.S. ties at a premium, said the Pentagon August report to Congress. China Daily

Thanks to major investments into its military over the past decade, many of China's technologies have reached maturity whereas others will become operational in the next few years, the Pentagon August report said. Conservative Refocus

The U.S. arms sales to Taiwan last January damaged military ties with China, hurting diplomatic exchanges until the end of 2010. With a new arms sale to Taiwan looming, the White House will make a decision by Oct 1 what to sell to Taiwan. India Times

1 dead, 1400 detained in Chile protests

Protests in Chile, August 25, 2011

Source: Press TV

Protest rallies by Chilean students and teachers over demands for educational reforms and major changes in government have left one teenager dead and about 1,400 arrested.

After the two-day demonstrations on Thursday and Friday, reports indicate that a 16-year-old boy was allegedly shot dead by police on Friday when protests turned violent, the Associated Press reported from the Chilean capital Santiago late Friday.

According to reports, nearly 200 police officers were also injured when making efforts to push back protesters with water cannons and tear gas.

The protesters expressed support for students that have for weeks been protesting against the education system, an overhaul of educational funding, and free education for all. Strike organizers have also called for tax reforms and constitutional change.

"We're all worried about the social climate," said Finance Minister Felipe Larrain, rejecting the strike and protests as illegal and a threat to the economy.

Chilean President Sebastian Pinera announced on Friday that he is ready to negotiate with protesters.

"After more than three months in which we've seen violence and conflict flourish, now is the time for peace, the time for unity, the time for dialogue, the time for agreements," Pinera said.

The organizers of the nationwide strike say about 600,000 people participated in the protests, but police did not issue any figures on the number of protesters.

The growing Chilean protests have become the country's largest mass movement since democracy was reestablished in the South American state in 1991.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Explosion hits UN building in Nigeria

Violence continues in Nigeria

Source: Press TV

A massive explosion has hit a United Nations building in Nigeria's capital of Abuja, leveling at least one complete wing of the structure.

The blast struck the UN building, located near the US Embassy and other diplomatic posts on Friday just before 11 a.m., AP reported.

Local police spokesman Jimoh Moshood confirmed the blast and said the cause of the explosion remains unknown.

There have been no immediate reports of casualties. Witnesses say police are still searching the scene of the blast for victims.

The developments come as the Boko Haram group has increased attacks on government targets since Nigerian security forces killed their leader, Mohammed Yusuf, while he was in custody in 2009.

The group is blamed for bomb attacks and shootings in the northeast of the country.

According to the Brussels-based International Crisis Group, ethnic and religious conflicts in Nigeria claimed the lives of over 14,000 people between 1999 and 2009.

'Fukushima leaks equal 168 Hiroshimas'

A view of crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant

Source: Press TV

Japanese nuclear scientists say the amount of radioactive cesium-137 released from the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant into the environment is 168 times that of Hiroshima bomb.

According to a government calculation published in the Tokyo Shimbun newspaper, the levels of cesium-137 leaked from the crisis-stricken plant has been estimated at 15,000 terabecquerels, AFP reported on Thursday.

That compares with the 89 terabecquerels released by "Little Boy" -- the nuclear bomb the United States dropped on Japan's western city of Hiroshima on August 6, 1945 as World War II was in its final stages.

Tokyo government, however, argued that the comparison was not valid since there is no logical comparison between Hiroshima bomb and Fukushima disaster.

"An atomic bomb is designed to enable mass-killing and mass-destruction by causing blast waves and heat rays and releasing neutron radiation," the Tokyo Shimbun daily quoted an unnamed government official as saying.

"It is not rational to make a simple comparison only based on the amount of isotopes released,” the official added.

An estimated 140,000 people died instantly in Hiroshima or succumbed to burns and radiation sickness soon after the attack and another 70,000 were injured.

Sixty-six years after the mass-killing and mass-destruction, the United States still refuses to apologize to Japan.

The Fukushima plant has leaked radiation into air, soil and the Pacific Ocean ever since it was hit by a 9-magnitude earthquake and a devastating tsunami on March 11.

The tremor triggered a nuclear crisis by knocking out power to cooling systems and the reactor meltdowns at the nuclear power plant on Japan's northeast coast.

The number of the dead and missing from Japan's March 11 quake and tsunami stands at over 28,000, according to the Japanese National Police Agency. The crisis has also displaced thousands of residents from around the plant as well.

Kan steps down as Japan's premier

Naoto Kan announces his resignation as president of the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), effectively ending his tenure as Japanese leader on August 26, 2011.

Source: Press TV

Japan Prime Minister Naoto Kan has stepped down amid plunging approval ratings over his government's handling of the nuclear crisis that followed the March 11 quake and tsunami.

"I resign as the (party) president effective today," Kan told senior party officials, quoted by AFP on Friday.

The expected announcement was made after the parliament passed into law two key bills. Kan had set the passage of these bills as conditions for his departure.

The first bill was on promoting the use of renewable energy and the other on issuing deficit-covering bonds.

Kan, in office for only 15 months, has been criticized for his handling of the nuclear crisis which erupted after the March 11 twin disasters.

The outgoing premier's approval ratings had fallen in recent months due to what critics have described as his little grasp of foreign, domestic and economic affairs. Recent polls show that his public support has plummeted to below 20 percent.

"Under the severe circumstances, I feel I've done everything that I had to do. Now I would like to see you choose someone respectable as a new prime minister," Kan said.

The Democratic Party will vote on August 29 for a new leader who is set to become the Asian country's sixth prime minister since 2006.

The hopefuls include former Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara and the present Finance Minister Yoshihiko Noda.

Noda said on Friday he is ready to take the lead in national politics.

UK soldiers on Libyan soil

Source: Press TV

The British government has taken another step to violate the UN resolution, as its Special Forces are revealed to be on the ground in Libya to hunt for fugitive Libyan ruler Muammar Gaddafi.

According to the Daily Telegraph, soldiers from 22 SAS Regiment started leading Libyan opposition fighters after being ordered in by Prime Minister David Cameron.

Defense sources admitted that SAS soldiers have been in Libya for several weeks. Adding they had been sent to the country to direct air strikes on major military targets and have been ordered to aid Libyan opposition forces on the ground to find Gaddafi.

As a £1 million bounty was proposed on Gaddafi's head, the British soldiers, who dressed in Arab citizen clothes and holding revolutionary forces weapons, have been ordered to look for Libya's falling dictator.

Defense Secretary Liam Fox declined to comment on the presence of UK soldiers on the ground in Libya, claiming only British military advisers are now in Libya, aiding the fighters with "communications, logistics, the chain of command and so on.”

“NATO is providing intelligence and reconnaissance assets to help in the hunt for Gaddafi and the remnants of the regime,” he added.

The head of the National Transitional Council (NTC) Mustafa Abdel Jalil insisted they wanted Gaddafi “dead or alive,” adding the council would provide amnesty for members of Gaddafi's close circle who kill or capture the ruler.

"Businessmen in Benghazi have set-up an award of two million Libyan dinars for anyone who captures Gaddafi and from another hand, the National Transitional Council announces that anyone from his inner circle who kills Gaddafi or captures him, shall receive amnesty from the community," Jalil said.

“We know Gaddafi's regime is not over yet. The end will only come when he's captured, dead or alive. Gaddafi's forces and his accomplices will not stop resisting until Gaddafi is caught or killed,” he added.

Western governments including Britain, France, and the US began bombing "military targets" over Libya on March 19, after the UN Security Council approved a resolution on March 17, authorizing force by whatever means necessary, with the exception of a ground invasion, to "protect civilians."

Since March 31, when the US-led Western military alliance took over command of the air strikes on a UN mandate, its warplanes have carried out around 11,644 sorties over the country.

UK tightens grip on social networking

Source: Press TV

Britain's Home Secretary Theresa May is set to host a meeting with the executives of social networking websites Facebook, Twitter, and BlackBerry to discuss whether users of the sites should be blocked when they are seen to be planning criminality.

BlackBerry Messenger, a service allowing its users to send free one-to-many messages to their network, was regarded as the main social network used by protesters during the recent unrest swept across England.

While the British politicians and experts consider the possibility of a clampdown on the social networks in the future, May and some top Metropolitan police officers are to discuss with the executives of the social media industry to measure the role of the industry in inciting civil disobedience.

"These discussions will help us determine how law enforcement and the networks can work better together. Among the issues to be discussed is whether and how we should be able to stop people communicating via these websites and services when we know they are plotting violence, disorder, and criminality,” a Home Office spokeswoman said

"Social networking is not a cause of the recent disturbances but a means of enabling criminals to communicate. We are working with the police to see what action can be taken to prevent access to those services by customers identified as perpetrators of disorder or other criminal action,” she added.

This is while that Facebook and Twitter are planning to oppose the ministers and experts' calls to ban people from social networks or close their websites during the unrest.

They are to warn senior British officials against setting up emergency measures, which would lead to a new form of online censorship.

In response, they will outline the measures that both social networks have already initiated to remove messages that potentially inflame public disorder. Facebook insisted that it removed “several credible threats of violence” to stop the unrest across England this month.

Meanwhile the coalition of ten human rights groups, including Amnesty International and Index on Censorship, wrote a letter to Home Secretary and said they were "very concerned" that new steps to restrict Facebook and Twitter will be "susceptible to abuse" and "undermine people's privacy.”

“There is existing legislation regulating the interception and disclosure of communications information, the use of communications evidence by law enforcement and restrictions on people's use of communications technology,” the letter signed by ten leading human rights groups read.

"It is reasonable to review the existing legal regime to ensure that it appropriately fits new technologies,” the groups added

However, the letter said that shutting down, curbing or controlling people's communications networks need extreme care and open, detailed deliberation.

"We are very concerned that new measures, made in good faith but in a heated political environment, will overextend powers in ways that would be susceptible to abuse, restrict legitimate, free communication and expression, and undermine people's privacy. This is especially so if proposals involve unaccountable voluntary arrangements between law enforcement and communications providers," human rights groups said.

Joblessness - UK's 'ticking time-bomb'

Source: Press TV

A new study has revealed that almost a third of all jobseeker's allowance (JSA) claimants in Britain are aged between 18 and 24 after a big increase in recent months.

The study was carried out based on official data provided by charity Barnardo's, the daily the Independent reported.

It showed the number of JSA claimants in the age group jumped by almost 40,000 to more than 408,000 between last November and February.

The charity said the figures, covering England, Scotland and Wales, revealed a "ticking time-bomb of a lost generation" of young people.

“Across all regions, 18 to 24-year-olds now make up around 30 percent of all claimants”, said Barnardo's.

The biggest increase in claimants in this age group was registered in Scotland with a jump of 5,200, followed by the North West (4,570), the South East (4,020), Yorkshire & the Humber (3,880) and the West Midlands (3,740).

"Today's bleak statistics confirm what we already suspected - that high numbers of young people in areas like London and the North East are severely affected by joblessness and poverty which continue to dominate life chances”, said Barnardo's chief executive Anne Marie Carrie.

"Barnardo's works with the most vulnerable 16 and 17-year-olds and we know that they are struggling to get access to alternatives to mainstream education, apprenticeships or training, all vital to equip them with the skills and confidence to enter the toughest labour market since the 1980s”, added Marie Carrie.

"We risk losing an entire generation to long-term cycles of unemployment and a stagnant society if concerted action by Government, local authorities and employers to tackle lack of jobs in the worst hit areas is not taken", she said.

A British version of human rights

Source: Press TV

Around 62% of those arrested over involvement in Britain's recent unrest have been imprisoned while only 10% of them allegedly have committed serious offences.

The rest of the arrested people who have not committed any serious offences are to be kept behind bars for an unknown period of time. Human rights organizations have announced that the British government has decided to keep all arrested people in custody until trial.

The British Police have ordered Britain's courts to refuse to bail the arrested even after they have been charged. The arrested people are to stay behind bars for a longer time as the British government has taken such an “iron fist” approach.

However, as the arrested people's solicitors have asserted, 62% of the arrested have been imprisoned while they have not been arraigned. What has caused great concern among human rights activists is that only 10% of these people have been charged with serious offences and the rest can be released either on bail or without having to pay bail.

Nonetheless, the British government has refused to free them. Moreover, the British Police have supported the government's “iron fist” policy describing it as an initiative that would prevent the spread of unrest across Britain in the future.

Meanwhile, the coalition government's officials have clashed over taking such strict approaches toward the protesters. Former Liberal Democrat leader, Sir Menzies Campbell, rejected the British Prime Minister David Cameron's remarks that what he called “twisting and misrepresenting of human rights” have led to the unprecedented unrest across Britain.

Campbell warned Cameron against any measures that would question Britain's commitment to human rights issues. He asserted that tackling Britain's unrest should not pave the way for Cameron's interference in the principles of the Human Rights Act, which preserves the European Convention of Human Rights in British law.

These conflicts and concerns come as human rights organizations have stated that keeping those arrested over the recent unrest behind bars for an unknown period of time without arraigning them constitutes an example of human rights violation as they have called on the government to inform the arrested of their charges and rights.

Why one-fifth of US representatives went to Israel this summer

U.S. House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, (D-MD) speaks at a press conference in the King David Hotel in Jerusalem, on August 10, 2011

Source: Press TV

Back in May, Congress lavished 29 standing ovations on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a resounding demonstration of solidarity just days after a very public clash between the Israeli leader and President Obama.

There's been a follow-up act this month: a record delegation of 81 US representatives to Israel. The virtual airlift of more than a fifth of the House, funded by affiliates of America's powerful Israeli lobby, is seen as a circling of the wagons just weeks before an expected Palestinian statehood vote at the United Nations.

With Israel facing the potential of increased isolation from the UN move, the congressional show of force sends a clear message to the White House to stand by the Jewish state. It also sends a warning to Palestinian officials that Congress will cut off hundreds of millions in annual aid if they follow through with plans for a unilateral declaration of statehood backed by the UN, analysts say.

"It's like coming here on the eve of the [1967] Six-Day War. Israel is isolated and under diplomatic threat," says Akiva Eldar, a diplomatic columnist for the liberal Haaretz daily newspaper. "[Netanyahu] wants to send a clear message: 'Don't mess around with me. Congress is with me on both sides of the aisle.' "

Making a case for $3 billion in aid during austere times

The visit is funded as an educational trip by the American Israel Education Foundation - a group affiliated with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).

While such visits are routine, the unusual size of this year's delegation reflects several factors ranging from the UN vote and rising criticism of White House policy toward Israel, to the bumper crop of freshman representatives who don't have to spend the summer campaigning for reelection. AIPAC wants to use the visit to make the case to newcomers for continued US foreign aid of about $3 billion at a time of fiscal austerity.

"The question isn't so much going away with a different attitude, it's going away with more information," says David Kreizelman, who heads AIPAC's office in Israel. "They have to go back to their constituents who are saying, 'We want [government help] and you are voting to give money to Israel.' "

AIPAC has arranged meetings with Israeli politicians ranging from Netanyahu to opposition leader Tzipi Livni to parliament members who are die-hard supporters of the Jewish settlers in the West Bank. Like many foreign dignitaries, representatives visit the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial, are hosted at residence of President Shimon Peres, and are bused to southern Israeli towns.

US lawmakers threaten to withhold aid to Palestinians

They also paid visits to Palestinian leaders in Ramallah to hear their perspective. But during those conversations, US congressmen have been making it clear that the Palestinian Authority is jeopardizing donor support from the US with its UN statehood initiative.

"We've given a clear communication to Prime Minister [Salam] Fayyed that we thought that it's a step back ... and is not helpful," says Rep. Tom Price, a fourth-term Republican from Atlanta who spoke by phone en route from the Sea of Galilee to the Israeli-Lebanon border. "There is great sentiment for not continuing the aid, because the vote is so destructive to formulating a bilateral agreement on a peace."

Palestinian leaders say the congressional support of Israel reflects a bias that has hurt US efforts to mediate the negotiation process. They were outraged in May by the standing ovations Netanyahu received. Despite that the congressmen got a hearing with top leaders.

Successive American congresses have always been supportive of Israel. This is a fact of life that we are trying to deal with," says Ghassan Khatib, a spokesman for the Palestinian government. "Palestinians are always motivated to explain their views to visiting delegations, especially American ones."

The Glenn Beck factor

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R) of Virginia and House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D) of Maryland have led two separate waves of representatives, largely split along party lines. A large portion of the participants were freshman Republicans who have never visited the region.

The number of visiting lawmakers is at least double that of similar contingents in the 1990s. Over the years, Israel has become an increasingly frequent stop on the campaign trail for presidential candidates and politicians with hopes of gaining nationwide prominence.

In the special election to replace Rep. Anthony Weiner (D) of New York, Republican candidate Bob Turner has turned pro-Israel credentials into a campaign issue. Republican house members are also paying attention to former Fox News anchor Glenn Beck, who spearheaded a pro-Israel solidarity rally of thousands of US tourists at the foot of Jerusalem's Temple Mount on Wednesday.

"They can't help but notice that this is on Glenn Beck's radar," says Lenny Ben David, a former head of the AIPAC office in Jerusalem and a former Israeli diplomat. The size of the delegation "may reflect that it's a campaign issue. The race to replace Anthony Weiner is of interest in both parties."

Shmuel Rosner, a fellow at the Jewish People Policy Institute, says congressional support is especially crucial given rocky relations between the Netanyahu and Obama governments. "Since Israel and the American administration are suspicious of one another, and has a lot of tension, Congress is the institution on which Israel will rely."

Egyptians hold massive anti-Israel rally

Egyptians hold a massive anti-Israel rally in Cairo, August 26, 2011.

Source: Press TV

Tens of thousands of Egyptians have staged a massive anti-Israel protest, demanding an end to the peace-accord between Cairo and Tel Aviv.

Following the Friday Prayers, protesters and activists gathered in several cities and Cairo's Liberation Square to stage a million-man demonstration.

Egyptians called for the expulsion of the Israeli envoy and chanted anti-Israeli slogans.

Since last Thursday when the Israeli military killed five Egyptian security personnel on the Rafah border crossing, anti-Israeli protests have escalated outside the Israeli embassy in Cairo

Egypt was the first Arab country to sign a peace treaty with Israel in 1979, but the situation has drastically changed since the Egyptian revolution which toppled former dictator Hosni Mubarak. A number of Egyptian political parties are now calling for changes to the peace treaty.

Under the US-backed Mubarak regime, Egypt consistently served Israeli interests and objectives by helping to impose the crippling blockade on the impoverished Gaza strip after the democratically elected Hamas government took control of the territory in 2007.

The crippling blockade on the territory has triggered a humanitarian crisis. The siege has left nearly one and a half million Gazans in dire need of basic supplies.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

France to introduce austerity measures

French President Nikolas Sarkozy, left and French Prime Minister Francois Fillon ,right

Source: Press TV

France is due to announce tighter fiscal measures, clamping down on tax breaks, as it seeks to restrain its deficit, amid concerns that the country could lose its AAA credit rating.

French president, Nikolas Sarkozy ordered the budget and finance minister to pull together the measures earlier this month, after French stock were hit heavily over the stability of country's triple A credit rating, Reuters reported.

Prime Minister Francois Fillon, will outline plans to scrap tax exemptions and incentives that could save as much as 10 EUR billion in extra revenues in the 2012 budget.

France's fast deteriorating economic growth outlook means that the government must squeeze EUR 10 billion from 2012 budget.

The measures could target corporate tax credits and exemptions from welfare contributions on overtime, also French high earners are likely to see a largely symbolic increase in tax.

The government had based its deficit targets on expectations the economy would grow 2.0 percent this year and 2.25 percent in 2012.

However Many analysts now expect significantly weaker growth after a stagnant second quarter.

Eurozone countries have spent much of the past 18 months trying to battle their debt crisis.

Europe's spreading debt crisis threatened to draw in France earlier this month after by putting the country's AAA credit rating at risk.

Bank of America shares hit 2-year low

Bank of America's corporate headquarters in Charlotte, North Carolina

Source: Press TV

Bank of America Corporation (BAC) shares have dropped to an almost two-year low amid fears that it will need to boost its capital by about USD 50 billion to meet new global standards.

BAC shares closed 1.9 percent lower at USD 6.30 after falling as much as 6.4 percent at one point on Tuesday to their lowest level in two and a half years, Reuters reported.

The shares of the largest US bank have now lost nearly 53 percent since the beginning of this year, reducing its market cap by more than USD 70 billion.

The cost of insuring the bank's debt against default also spiked to record levels at one point.

The size of Bank of America presents a particular headache for regulators as it touches almost every aspect of the US financial system.

The largest US bank had been rescued by the US government in the financial crisis.

In 2008, a series of bank and insurance company failures triggered a financial crisis that effectively halted global credit markets.

In the same year, more public corporations had filed for bankruptcy in the United States than in all of 2007. The failures caused a crisis of confidence that made banks reluctant to lend money to anyone.

UK economic recovery almost impossible

Source: Press TV

The British economy has faced a more sluggish growth as reports have shown that more than half of British low to middle-earners' purchasing power has declined sharply.

A survey conducted for the Resolution Foundation by Ipsos MORI, the second largest market research organization in the United Kingdom, has revealed that the British economy is not to get out of its current dire situation as only less than half of Britain's low to middle-income earning households are able to save any money at the end of the month.

The report warned that with over half of the lower to middle-income families living from hand to mouth, the future of the British economy remains as gloomy as it had been predicted formerly. The low to middle-income households are defined as having gross annual income of between £12,000 and £48,000.

The British economic recovery received a further blow as the inflation rate is growing faster than pay rises with souring food and utility prices leaving the British people with no money to spend on accessories and luxuries.

Furthermore, the survey has revealed results that have caused great concerns among economic analysts. With regard to job security, only around one third of employees have stated that they feel secure in their jobs with the rest fearing the prospects of job loss.

"Working people in low to middle-income households continue to be squeezed from all angles. Everyone is saying that households need to save more and run down their debt - but this new poll shows just how hard that will be,” said the foundation's chief executive, Gavin Kelly.

Pakistan orders 250 US officials to leave

CIA contractor Raymond Davis (center) - accused of killing two people in Lahore, Pakistan - was freed on March 16,2011 after blood money was paid to the families of the two victims

Source: Press TV

The Pakistani government has called on the US Embassy in the capital Islamabad to phase out over 250 American officials in the country within the next 30 to 40 days.

The US officials are reportedly assigned various duties such as logistic support and audit and accounts monitoring. Most of them are said to be involved in high-level espionage and anti-state activities, Pakistan's The Nation newspaper reported on Wednesday.

The report added that US Ambassador to Pakistan Cameron Munter is coming back to Pakistan after cutting short his vacation to deal with the situation.

Tensions between Islamabad and Washington increased following a secret US raid into Pakistan in May that killed al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

Pakistani military has since been under pressure to explain why US military helicopters freely carried out the operation on Pakistani soil.

Pakistan's defense ministry later ordered the United States to leave a remote desert airbase in the southwestern Baluchistan Province.

The US had long been carrying out its unauthorized drone attacks in Pakistan from the Shamsi airbase in Baluchistan.

US-Pakistan relations are already strained over the civilian casualties caused by the non-UN-sanctioned US drone attacks, which Pakistan has repeatedly condemned as violations of its sovereignty.

The aerial attacks, initiated by former US president George W. Bush, have escalated under President Barack Obama's administration.

China wants UN to lead efforts in Libya

Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi

Source: Press TV

China has called on the United Nations to lead international post-war efforts in Libya to quickly restore stability in the North African country.

In a telephone conversation with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday, Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi urged him to play a leading role and work with other regional organizations to restore order in Libya, Xinhua reported.

He noted that the Libyan situation has entered a critical phase following months of deadly violence.

Yang said that the Chinese government is ready to work with the broader international community to re-establish calm and order in conflict-stricken Libya.

Ban, for his part, said effective efforts will be made to guarantee the safety of foreign diplomatic missions and other foreign nationals in Libya.

Libya has been the scene of intense fighting between regime troops and fighters since a revolution movement seeking to topple Gaddafi began in mid-February.

The fighters advanced into the heart of Tripoli early Monday, seizing control of much of the capital without facing significant resistance from regime forces. They are now facing only small pockets of resistance from Gaddafi's loyalists in other areas.

The whereabouts of the elusive 68-year-old Libyan dictator and his family remain unknown.

UK to exploit Libya's resources

Source: press TV

Britain's government has decided to take control of Libyan oil facilities as British Petroleum announced plans to resume operations in oil-rich North African country.

As Libyan opposition fighters take control of more and more areas in the capital Tripoli, the world's superpowers are trying to gain hegemony over the African country by securing lucrative contracts under the pretext of rebuilding Libya so that the country's economy would become dependent upon hegemonic powers.

Before the beginning of revolution in Libya in February, the oil-rich country produced around 1.6 million barrels per day. Libya was the seventeenth-largest oil producer in the world and the third largest in Africa.

After six months of war, however, the country's oil output has been reduced to just 100,000 barrels per day.

As experts predict that the North African country's oil output could reach 1 million barrels per day within a few months, British Petroleum, has announced plans to return to Libya as “soon as conditions allow.”

Meanwhile, a spokesman for UK Trade & Investment which is a part of Department of Business, announced that the British government plans to secure a major share in Libya's market seeking to win profitable contracts.

“We are in regular contact with companies and organizations who have business interests in Libya and have been throughout the conflict. As soon as the situation on the ground allows, UKTI has plans to provide in-country support and advice to companies wishing to be part of the reconstruction effort,” he said.

Moreover, Director Government Support at Control Risks Chris Sanderson, an international risk consultancy and security management company, said that there is an unprecedented “opportunity for UK business to seek to recover commercially some measure of the UK's significant diplomatic and military investment.”

He explained that there are opportunities for the British businesses on three grounds. First, Libya's need to rebuild infrastructure provides British companies with numerous profitable contracts. Second, British business can operate in fields like “health, education and civil security.” Finally, British companies can exploit Libya's oil and gas sectors as well as “commercial support services such as banking, finance and telecommunications

Chavez warns of tragedy in Libya

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez (file photo)

Source: Press TV

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has warned of a tragedy in Libya as a new era is set to begin due to the fall of the Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi's regime.

"The drama of Libya isn't ending with the fall of Gaddafi's government. It's beginning," AP quoted Chavez as saying on Wednesday.

He also condemned Western powers for the airstrikes NATO had conducted, adding that all “the Yankee empire and European powers” want is Libya's oil.

"They've destroyed a country and they continue destroying it. How many Libyan children have died?” Chavez said.

Furthermore, he denounced the USD 1.6 million bounty on Gaddafi offered by Libyan businessmen, calling it a “madness let loose.”

Libya has been the scene of intense fighting between government troops and revolutionary forces since a revolution seeking to topple Gaddafi began in mid-February.

NATO airstrikes have claimed the lives of hundreds of civilians since March.

NATO began bombing "military targets" in Libya on March 19, after the UN Security Council approved a resolution on March 17, authorizing force by whatever means necessary, with the exception of a ground invasion, to "protect civilians."

Since March 31, when the US-led Western military alliance took over command of the airstrikes on a UN mandate, its warplanes have carried out around 11,644 sorties over the country.

‘Death or victory!’ – Gaddafi addresses the nation

Source: Russia Today

Colonel Gaddafi has addressed his nation to say the battle with “aggressors” will last “until the end”. Meanwhile, the rebels’ assault on the Tripoli compound brought no visible results and shelling goes on in Libyan towns.

Muammar Gaddafi said leaving his compound was a tactical move.

Colonel has addressed the nation via Libyan radio, declaring that “in the fight against aggressors there is only death or victory.”

He said that the Bab Al-Aziziya compound no longer exists. It was totally destroyed by 64 NATO air strikes.

As of now, the leader and his family are nowhere to be found.

Gaddafi spokesperson, Moussa Ibrahim, speaking on Libyan television from an undisclosed location, warned the battle for Libya will turn the country into a volcano, lava and fire. He stressed that the country’s government can resist the attacks for months or even years.

“Libya will become a volcano,” he promised. He condemned the rebels and claimed that 12,000 tribesmen were converging on Tripoli to fight.

Dubai-based al-Arabiya TV says that the capital is being pounded by Gaddafi forces’ Grad missiles and mortars. Reuters also reports pro-Gaddafi forces attacking the town of Ajelat, west of Tripoli, with missiles and tanks.

Rebels overran the fortified compound of the Libyan leader in Bab al-Azizya in Tripoli following intense fighting with pro-Gaddafi forces and heavy shelling by NATO jets late on Tuesday. Rebels claimed also they gained control of much of the capital, but Gaddafi's whereabouts were still unknown.

Meanwhile the National Transitional Council reports that 400 people have been killed and more than 2,000 injured over the last three days of fighting. Alternative reports claim that more than 1,000 people have died in the violence and NATO air strikes.

Don DeBar, an anti-war activist and journalist, believes that whatever Colonel Gaddafi or the rebel leaders say, it is practically impossible to verify what is true or false at this point.

“But certainly what has been coming from the Western media has been proven to be lies,” he declared. “Gaddafi opened up the armories to the people of Libya, more than a million rifles and other arms have been handed out to the people of Tripoli. The claim that has been made by the so-called ‘progressive’ media of the United States is that Gaddafi is a hated dictator and that this is an indigenous rebellion. The dictator does not hand people guns and say: ‘Please, defend me!’”

US after Libya' oil: American legislator

Libyan fighters pray in front of an anti-aircraft gun near an oil refinery in Ras Lanuf, March 8, 2011

Source: Press TV

US Congressman Dennis Kucinich has blamed the Obama administration for pursuing control over Libya's vast oil reserves by participating in a military campaign in the North African country.

"Was the United States, through participation in the overthrow of the [Libyan] regime, furthering the aims of international oil corporations in pursuit of control over one of the world's largest oil resources?" Kucinich said in a statement on his website on Tuesday.

"Did the United States at the inception of the war against Libya align itself with elements of al-Qaeda, while elsewhere continuing to use the threat of al-Qaeda as a reason for US military intervention, presence and occupation?" he added.

Kucinich pointed out that the five-month-old military intervention in Libya sets a dangerous precedent for unilateral attacks on sovereign nations.

He also urged the International Criminal Court to investigate potential war crimes by military leaders on all sides of the conflict.

"Resources which should be spent creating jobs in America are going to perpetuate war abroad," Kucinich said, adding, "Resources which should be used to build bridges in America continue to be used to bomb bridges elsewhere."

In March, Kucinich suggested President Barack Obama's authorizing of airstrikes on Libya were "an impeachable offense" and sponsored a July measure to defund the military effort in the North African state.

Libya has been the scene of intense fighting between regime troops and fighters since a revolution seeking to topple Gaddafi began in mid-February.

NATO has conducted thousands of airstrikes over Libya since March to implement a UN Security Council resolution that called for “the protection of civilians.”

However, scores of civilians have been killed during the NATO airstrikes.

Stop NATO's gangsterism: US lawmaker

US Democratic Representative Dennis KucinichSource: Press TV

Source: Press TV

A US lawmaker says NATO chiefs must be held responsible under the international law for the deaths of Libyan civilians to avoid the victory of a 'new international gangsterism.'

"If members of the Gaddafi regime are to be held accountable, NATO's top commanders must also be held accountable through the International Criminal Court for all civilian deaths resulting from bombing," Democratic Representative Dennis Kucinich was quoted by AFP as saying on Tuesday.

Kucinich denounced NATO for exceeding the UN Security Council resolution which mandated a no-fly zone over Libya to protect civilians, stating that the real aim of attacks were “regime change.”

If NATO commanders do not stand justice, we will see the victory of “a new international gangsterism,” the lawmaker said.

Kucinich has expressed opposition to the involvement of NATO and the United States in the Libya conflict.

UN Security Council members including Russia, China, Brazil, India and South Africa have also criticized the Western military alliance, saying NATO has gone beyond the UN mandate.

Colonel Roland Lavoie, a NATO spokesman for Libya's Operation Unified Protector said on Tuesday that the alliance will continue to carry out its bombing campaign to the end of the ongoing conflict in the North African country.

"We will take out and strike at targets if they pose a threat to the civilian population," Lavoie said at a news conference in Naples, Italy.

Since NATO took command of airstrikes on March 31, its warplanes have carried out 19,994 sorties including 7,541 strike sorties, a Reuters report published on August 23 said.

Egyptians urge freeze of Israel ties

Egyptian protesters gather in front of the Israeli embassy in Cairo, Egypt, August 20, 2011.

Source: Press TV

Egyptian protesters continue demonstrating in front of the Israeli embassy in the capital Cairo, calling for an end to Egypt's diplomatic ties with Israel.

The demonstrators insisted that they would press ahead with the protests outside the embassy until Tel Aviv's envoy to Cairo, Yitzhak Levanon, is expelled from the country, a Press TV correspondent reported on Wednesday.

The protesters also demanded efforts by Egyptian authorities to halt natural gas exports from Egypt to Israel and revoke the Camp David Accords -- a US-sponsored treaty that was signed in 1978 to establish 'peace' between Cairo and Tel Aviv.

Tensions between Egypt and Israel has climbed since Israeli forces killed five Egyptian border guards on Thursday at Egypt's border with the Gaza Strip.

Israeli Minister for military Affairs Ehud Barak on Saturday said “Israel deeply regrets the deaths of the Egyptian officers” after Egypt announced that it would withdraw its ambassador the Tel Aviv if no official apology was made.

Egyptian demonstrators, however, played down Barak's expression of “regret” over the death of Egyptian officers.

The US government earlier dispatched an envoy to Cairo to try to defuse the surging tensions in Egyptian-Israeli relations, which have further deteriorated in the wake of the killings.

Meanwhile, activists across Egypt have called for a huge protest rally on Friday to press the country's ruling military council into meeting their demands.

US threatens to cut Egypt aid over Israel

US Congresswoman Kay Granger

Source: Press TV

US Congresswoman Kay Granger has threatened that if Egypt withdraws from its peace treaty with Israel, Washington would cut its USD 2-billion annual aid to Cairo.

“The United States aid to Egypt is predicated on the peace treaty between Egypt and Israel, and so the relationship between Egypt and Israel is extremely important,” Granger said in an interview with Jerusalem Post on Monday.

The remark came as tension between Cairo and Tel Aviv increased after Israeli forces killed five Egyptian border guards on Thursday at Egypt's border with the Gaza Strip.

Israeli Minister for military Affairs Ehud Barak on Saturday said “Israel deeply regrets the deaths of the Egyptian officers” after Egypt announced it would withdraw its ambassador the Tel Aviv if no official apology was made.

Egypt was the first Arab country to sign a peace treaty with Israel in 1979, but the situation has changed drastically since the overthrow of Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak in February; and a number of Egyptian political parties have been calling for changes in the peace treaty.

The United States' annual aid has been provided to Egypt since the Cairo-Tel Aviv peace treaty was signed.

Granger also warned that the US would cut the USD 500-million aid it provides to the Palestinian Authority if it would seek to win a UN recognition for a statehood at the UN General Assembly meeting in September.

Granger is the chairwoman of the US House appropriations foreign operations subcommittee, which is the institution in charge if setting the US foreign aid bill.

Euro breaking down: Greenspan

Former US Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan

Source: Press TV

The euro is breaking down and the US economy is suffering because of Europe's debt crisis, according to former US Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan.

"The euro is breaking down and the reason we're so sluggish is the level of uncertainty," Greenspan said at the Innovation Nation Forum in Washington DC on Tuesday, AFP reported.

The ex-US central bank chief emphasized that 20 percent of US exports go to Europe.

Greenspan mentioned that although the US economy is currently very sluggish, increasing the probability of another recession, he did not expect any event of the sort to happen.

"I do not expect the United States to fall back into recession, though the odds of it have increased," Greenspan said at the forum.

He said the reason why European banks are facing additional problems every day is the fact that European countries are one by one either defaulting on their debts or getting closer to do so.

New figures indicate that the US unemployment rate increased above 9 percent as the nation is gripped by economic crisis.

US President Barack Obama, who is currently on vacation despite the economic hardship of the country, warned of dangerous low economic recovery that might not be fast enough to deal with "a genuine unemployment crisis" on Saturday.

Moody's lowers Japan's rating to Aa3

Businessmen pass before a prices board in Tokyo. (file photo)

Source: Press TV

Major credit rating agency Moody's Investors Service has downgraded Japan's sovereign debt rating by one notch to Aa3.

The ratings agency, which performs international financial analysis on commercial and government entities, cut Japan's government debt rating on Wednesday, blaming the country's large budget deficits for the downgrade, Reuters reported.

The build-up of debt since the 2009 global recession was cited as another reason for the new rating, which concluded a review begun on May 31, putting pressure on the Japanese government to address the country's growing economic woes.

"Several factors make it difficult for Japan to slow the growth of debt-to-GDP and thus drive this rating action," Moody's said in a statement.

Japanese Finance Minister Yoshihiko Noda declined to comment on the Moody's move, but appreciated government efforts, saying, "The smooth sales of Japanese government bonds at recent auctions show that confidence remains unshaken.”

Japan is still struggling with aftermath of the huge quake and subsequent tsunami that hit the country back in March.

The credit rating assesses the credit worthiness of a government's debt issues, a financial indicator to potential investors of debt securities such as bonds.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

EU members line up for early Libyan victory march

Source: Russia Today

France plans to hold a high level meeting next week to discuss Libya's political future. The top Libyan opposition leader has been invited to Paris to attend.

Almost every EU state now demonstrates its readiness to participate in the country’s development, simultaneously saying it is the Libyan people who should decide their own future. Even Poland’s foreign minister has said that his country wants to take part, but France is the one taking the lead.

On Wednesday, French president Nicolas Sarkozy will be meeting in Paris with Mahmoud Jibril, the leader of the Libyan rebels. French Defense Minister Gerard Longuet says they will build a roadmap for the future of the country.

European diplomats are explaining that the EU and NATO are seeing the opportunity now to play the leading role in the future of North Africa, with the United States taking a back seat for the moment, as Washington is now overwhelmed by its own domestic political issues. NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen says the alliance will continue with its mission of protecting Libyan civilians.

German leader Angela Merkel says she will “unfreeze” Libyan assets: “Gaddafi’s money must be secured in the name of the Libyan people,” she said. It is unclear, however, who will control that money and how it will be used.

The rebels were united with the single goal of getting rid of Gaddafi. As soon as that is no longer the case, they have very little else in common, and defense experts fear that may lead to an even bloodier civil war, should they fail to find common ground.

Marat Terterov, head of the European Geopolitical Forum, agrees that the most intriguing question right now is whether the Libyan tribes will be able to hold together and form a stable governing authority. But no matter what, he says, the West will make sure its interests are secured.

“Western forces will undoubtedly look to both intervene and assert their influence within any post-Gaddafi governing structure in Libya,” Terterov said. “And that’s also because they are providing a lot of aid: London has unfrozen a lot of assets, up to around two billion dollars, as being mentioned.”

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