Politics and Legislation
Recall election Hangover
Published on Jun 6, 2012 by RTAmerica
One day after the first election in U.S. History in which a Governor survived a recall vote, Wisconsinites on all sides of the political spectrum try to move on.
Like us and/or follow us:
Rejects Obama Call to ‘Reconsider’ Decision
Judge Katherine Forest has upheld her previous ban on the use of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) provisions that allowed the president to summarily detain “terror suspects” in military custody for indefinite periods of time with no legal oversight.
In her initial ruling, Forest had accepted the arguments from a number of political dissidents, including Noam Chomsky and Daniel Ellsberg, that they had a reasonable fear that they could be disappeared off the street and held in military custody for constitutionally protected political speech. The Administration did not argue that they wouldn’t be detained, but insisted that since they hadn’t been detained yet they had no standing to contest the law.
The Administration responded by demanding that Forest reverse last month’s preliminary ruling, insisting that it was unreasonable for a court to restrict the president’s potential use of military detention “during wartime.” The Administration went on to say that it only planned to interpret the ruling as a specific ban on detaining the dissidents in the lawsuit, and not a broad ban on detaining dissidents as such.
In her ruling, Forest conceded that the lawsuit only applied to one portion of the NDAA military detentions law, and didn’t cover those directly involved in 9/11. On the other hand, she did insist that the ruling was not restricted to just keeping Ellsberg, et al. out of the brig, and that she was declaring the whole provision regarding summary detention outside of the 9/11 attackers unconstitutional.
Holder Claims Emails Using Words ‘Fast and Furious’ Don’t Refer to Operation Fast and Furious
(CNSNews.com) – Attorney General Eric Holder claimed during congressional testimony today that internal Justice Department emails that use the phrase “Fast and Furious” do not refer to the controversial gun-walking operation Fast and Furious.
Under questioning from Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), who read excerpts of the emails at a House Judiciary Committee hearing on Justice Department oversight, Holder claimed that the phrase “Fast and Furious” did not refer to Fast and Furious but instead referred to another gun-walking operation known as “Wide Receiver.”
However, the emails refer to both programs — “Fast and Furious” and the “Tucson case,” from where Wide Receiver was launched — and reveal Justice Department officials discussing how to handle media scrutiny when both operations become public.
Among three of the emails (see Jason Weinstein Email Fast, Furious.pdf), the second, dated “October 17, 2010 11:07 PM,” was sent by Deputy Assistant Attorney General Jason Weinstein to James Trusty and it states: “Do you think we should have Lanny participate in press when Fast and Furious and Laura’s Tucson case [Wide Receiver] are unsealed? It’s a tricky case, given the number of guns that have walked, but it is a significant set of prosecutions.”
Senior DOJ Officials Knew About & Approved Fast And Furious Gun Running Operation
U.S. more attentive to Israelis than Palestinians,’ Obama tells Jewish leaders
By Al Arabiya with Agencies
The U.S. administration is more attentive to Israel than it is to the Palestinians, President Barack Obama told a visiting delegation of the U.S. Orthodox Jewish community at the White House, Israeli daily Haaretz reported on Wednesday.
The meeting comprised White House Chief of Staff Jack Lew and leaders of the Orthodox Jewish community, including Dr. Simcha Katz, Rabbi Steven Burg and Nathan Diament of the Orthodox Union.
The Israeli daily cited participants in the meeting, who wanted to remain unnamed, that when Obama was asked what lessons he had learned from events related to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, he said that there were many possibilities for misunderstanding. There was “only tension because both sides feel pressured to compromise,” he said.
Obama said that he understood that Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as any other leader, wanted no restraints.
The U.S. administration had previously warned that the window of opportunity for making peace might not remain open for long. However, during Tuesday’s meeting, Obama expressed hope that progress is still possible, although he admitted that the position of the Palestinians has deteriorated, Haaretz reported.
The U.S. President asked his guests not to doubt his fidelity to this cause and said that he will “keep trying” as “peace is good for Israel.”
Malawi on Friday cancelled its hosting of next month’s African Union summit in a dispute over the bloc’s insistence on inviting international war crimes suspect Sudan President Omar al-Bashir.
Vice President Khumbo Kachali said the government had refused to bow to the 54-member group’s condition that Bashir, who is wanted on charges of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, attend the meeting in Lilongwe.
“After considering the interests of Malawians, I want to inform Malawians that the cabinet met today and decided it was not interested to accept the conditions by the African Union, therefore Malawi is not hosting the summit,” Vice President Khumbo Kachali told journalists.
The decision had already been communicated to the AU, he said.
Kachali said the country had received a communication from the AU commission that as a host country Malawi was required to invite all the continent’s presidents, including Bashir.
“The commission said if Malawi was not willing to host al-Bashir, the venue should be shifted to another country,” he said, adding that the summit would be hosted by Ethiopia.
Sudan on Thursday said it had urged the pan-African bloc to shift the summit, meant to run from July 9-16, to its Addis Ababa headquarters after the refusal to welcome Bashir.
Malawi recognizes The Hague-based International Criminal Court which has a warrant of arrest for Bashir on charges of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes in the troubled Darfur region.
New President Joyce Banda said last month that she wanted Bashir to stay away to avoid straining ties with key donors for her impoverished country.
Banda has embarked on a major drive to smooth ties with the international community which were soured under her predecessor Bingu wa Mutharika and has taken a number of bold steps to steer the country into donor-friendly waters.
Foreign aid once provided roughly 40 percent of Malawi’s development budget but funding was slashed amid an economic crisis and governance concerns under Mutharika’s rule.
South African Institute of International Affairs research associate Tom Wheeler welcomed the “principled” stance, saying Malawi was standing by its international obligations and could ill afford to alienate countries of goodwill.
“I think her first responsibility is to her own people, not to pleasing other African leaders,” he told AFP.
Under current ICC rules, signatories — which include 33 African states — have a duty to arrest Bashir.
Earlier this week, ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo told the U.N. Security Council that failure to detain him and other Sudanese officials accused of war crimes and genocide was “a direct challenge to the council’s authority.”
He said the council should consider calling on all 193 U.N. member states and regional organizations to carry out the arrest warrants.
The Sudanese leader is the first sitting president indicted by the court and his visits spark diplomatic headaches for African nations, with some signatories vowing his arrest on their soil while others flout the court’s rules.
Malawi was reported to the council in December for refusing to arrest Bashir after Mutharika gave him a red carpet welcome at a regional trade summit.
In 2009, the AU said it would not respect the ICC warrant and urged the United Nations to suspend the arrest order.
Last month, the foreign minister of Benin, which is the current chair, said the group had no reason to bar Bashir from the summit.
The meeting, meant to end with a heads of state summit from July 15-16, was set to elect a new commission chair after a deadlock in January.
By Abeer Tayel
If Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohammed Mursi became president, Egypt’s new capital will no more be Cairo, but the new capital will be Jerusalem, a prominent Egyptian cleric said at a presidential campaign rally, which was aired by an Egyptian private TV channel.
“Our capital shall not be Cairo, Mecca or Medina. It shall be Jerusalem with God’s will. Our chants shall be: ‘millions of martyrs will march towards Jerusalem’,” prominent cleric Safwat Hagazy said, according to the video aired by Egypt’s religious Annas TV on Tuesday.
The video went viral after being posted on YouTube – accompanied by English subtitles by Memri TV –, with 61,691 views until Thursday night.
“The United States of the Arabs will be restored on the hands of that man [Mursi] and his supporters. The capital of the [Muslim] Caliphate will be Jerusalem with God’s will,” Hegazy said, as the crowds cheered, waving the Egyptian flags along with the flags of the Islamist Hamas group, which rules the Gaza Strip.
“Tomorrow Mursi will liberate Gaza,” the crowds chanted.
“Yes, we will either pray in Jerusalem or we will be martyred there,” Hegazy said.
Hegazy’s speech came during a presidential campaign rally at the Egyptian Delta city of Mahalla, where Mursi attended along with the Muslim Brotherhood Supreme Guide Mohammed Badei and members of the group and its political wing the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP).
Mursi will challenge Egypt’s former prime minister Ahmed Shafiq in the election run-off, scheduled on June 16 and 17. Shafiq, an air force general, was the country’s last prime minister before former president Hosni Mubarak was forced to step down by a popular uprising in February 2011.
A court on Saturday sentenced the former ruler and his interior minister to life imprisonment for their role in the killings of up to 850 protesters in the January 25 uprising that ended Mubarak’s 30-year rule. Six senior police officers were acquitted for lack of evidence.
The verdicts were met by angry street protests by Egyptians who considered them too lenient and demanded a purge of the judiciary.
Members of the Islamist-dominated parliament attacked the verdicts, accusing the court of ignoring the rights of peaceful protesters killed in the uprising.
Hegazy led thousands of protesters at Cairo’s iconic Tarir Square against the verdicts. Protesters also called for the endorsing of the ‘Political Isolation Law’ that could bar political figures from Mubarak era, including Shafiq, from joining political life in the country for some years.
Endorsing the law, which will be decided by Cairo Supreme Constitutional Court on June 14, two days before the election run-off, could push Shafiq out of the presidential race.
For activists, choosing Shafiq would symbolize a return to the old regime and an end to the revolution. Voting for Mursi, on the other hand, would mean handing Egypt to an Islamic movement they say has monopolized power since the uprising.
ECB tells governments ‘you fix the crisis’
Published on Jun 6, 2012 by Euronews
http://www.euronews.com/ The European Central Bank did not cut interest rates at its monthly policy meeting on Wednesday, making it clear to eurozone governments that they have to do more to solve the bloc’s debt crisis.
Draghi said it was wrong for the ECB to fill a policy vacuum created by others and that there would be no quid pro quo between the central bank and governments.
“There is no sort of horse trading here,” he told a news conference.
“Some of these problems in the euro area have nothing to do with monetary policy … and I don’t think it would be right for monetary policy to fill other institutions’ lack of action.”
The benchmark cost of borrowing for the 17 eurozone countries remains at a record low of 1.0 percent, but still above that of other major economies.
The ECB left its growth forecast for this year unchanged, but ECB President Mario Draghi said the region is under increasing threat: “Economic growth in the euro area remains weak, giving rise to increased downside risks to the economic outlook. Ongoing tensions in some euro area sovereign debt markets, and their impact on credit conditions, are expected to continue to dampen the underlying growth momentum.”
With increasingly signs that Spain’s banking problems are opening a new front in the debt crisis, Draghi was asked if the eurozone’s bailout fund, the European Financial Stability Fund should be allowed to help Spanish banks directly.
He hedged and said that should be based on a “realistic assessment of banks’ needs” adding the ECB can’t push governments into accessing the fund.
Draghi also talked down the idea of the ECB injecting more money into the banking system as it did earlier this year with low cost loans. He said the issue was whether they would be effective.
The respite the ECB bought the euro zone early this year by injecting over one trillion euros into its banking system with twin three-year loan operations (LTROs) has faded, with borrowing costs for troubled countries such as Spain soaring again.
At Draghi’s news conference the elephant in the room was Greece. Depending on how next week’s elections turns out Greece may be forced into a chaotic exit from the euro.
Corruption risks Europe’s financial recovery, watchdog warns
Published on Jun 6, 2012 by Euronews
http://www.euronews.com/ Corruption threatens to further weaken Europe’s efforts to overcome its debt crisis Transparency International has said.
Presenting its latest report in Brussels, the anti-corruption group also warned that a lack of political accountability across the EU, but especially in southern Europe, had led to a rise in populism.
Managing Director of Transparency International Cobus de Swardt said: “The most powerful way to deal with populism, in the way that we see it emerging at the moment, is indeed for dramatically more accountability. If you look at countries such as Greece, more than 80% of Greek citizens say they have no trust in the political system or in political parties. In that environment, all forms of extremism will obviously flourish.”
Along with Greece: Transparency International also named Italy, Spain and Portugal – the eurozone’s most financially troubled countries – for having the worst problems inside their public administrations.
“The mixture of austerity and corruption, the continuous explosion of scandals involving members of government, and parliament, and bankers, its creating a lot of frustration amongst people and a lot of social unrest, and in a way, it’s affecting peoples support for democracy; so democratic legitimacy,” Luis de Sousa, Chair of Transparency International Portugal said.
Though notoriously difficult to measure, the watchdog says corruption, and a lack of accountability across the bloc, means increasingly scarse public money risks being wasted or simply creamed off.
Brussels unveils new safety plan for banks
Published on Jun 6, 2012 by Euronews
http://www.euronews.com/ The European Commission has published its latest plans to ensure Europe’s taxpayers will not be left carrying the can for any future financial meltdowns.
The bloc’s internal market chief insisted the aim was to make sure losses from now on were borne by banks or shareholders.
“We don’t want another situation where governments find themselves up against the wall, having to inject public money to a avert catastrophe for the whole of society. We think that it’s time bankers and their shareholders take responsibility for this,” Michel Barnier, EU Commissioner for the Internal Market, said.
But the banking union plan still needs to be approved by EU countries and then the European parliament. That is likely to take years rather than months.
Even if some think the measures will have an impact, almost certainly they will come too late for Spain, should it need to go cap in hand to the EU for a bank bailout.
The plan would require the bloc’s banks to pay an annual levy into a fund, so that if a bank failed, financial institutions rather than taxpayers would take the hit.
Spain’s unemployed see no end in sight
Published on Jun 7, 2012 by AlJazeeraEnglish
With one in four people unemployed in Spain, a single unemployment office serving only one district in Madrid can see up to 700 people per day.
The economy remains in recession and there have been severe cutbacks in public spending.
Al Jazeera’s Jonah Hull, reporting from Madrid, meets one father of two children, whose struggle to find work has become all too familiar to the Spanish public.
Spain too big for EU rescue fund as China recoils
As Spain edges closer to a full sovereign rescue, economists have begun to doubt whether the EU bail-out machinery can raise such large sums funds at viable cost on global capital markets.
By Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, International business editor
While the International Monetary Fund thinks Spanish banks require €40bn or so in fresh capital, any loan package may have to be much larger to restore shattered confidence in the country.
Megan Greene from Roubini Global Economics says Spain’s banks will need up to €250bn, a claim that no longer looks extreme. New troubles are emerging daily. The Bank of Spain said on Thursday that Catalunya Caixa and Novagalicia will need a total of €9bn in new state funds.
JP Morgan is expecting the final package for Spain to rise above €350bn, while RBS says the rescue will “morph” into a full-blown rescue of €370bn to €450bn over time — by far the largest in world history.
“Where is the money going to come from?” said Simon Derrick from BNY Mellon. “Half-measures are not going to work at this stage and it is not clear that the funding is available.”
In theory, the European Financial Stability Fund (EFSF) and the new European Stability Mechanism (ESM) can raise a further €500bn between them, beyond the sums already committed to Greece, Ireland, and Portugal. “There is sufficient fire-power available. In addition, the EFSF/ESM can leverage resources,” said Christophe Frankel, the EFSF’s chief financial officer.
Wars and Rumors of War
Mosaic News 6/5/2012: Egyptians Rally in Tahrir Square to Demand Revolutionary Justice
Published on Jun 6, 2012 by linktv
Egyptians rally in Tahrir Square to demand revolutionary justice, Erdogan asserts Turkey’s regional role as Istanbul hosts the World Economic Forum, forced displacement of Palestinians continues on the 45th anniversary of the Naksa, and more.
Today’s headlines in full:
Egyptians rally in Tahrir Square to demand revolutionary justice
Dubai TV, UAE
Erdogan asserts Turkey’s regional role as Istanbul hosts the World Economic Forum
BBC Arabic, UK
The forced displacement of Palestinians continues on the 45th anniversary of the Naksa
Al Jazeera, Qatar
Syria ousts Western diplomats, but confirms commitment to Annan’s plan
New TV, Lebanon
Non-Aligned Movement supports Iran at IAEA Board of Governors meeting
Press TV, Iran
Jailed Bahraini activists tell court of ‘torture’ in detention
Press TV, Iran
Four Eritreans injured in Jerusalem arson attack on apartment complex
New, harsher Prevention of Infiltration Law goes into effect in Israel
Humanitarian situation deteriorates as Yemen renews confrontation against al-Qaeda
Al-Forat TV, Iraq
Image: Egyptian cleric Safwat Hegazy shouts during a demonstration at Tahrir square in Cairo, against the verdict for deposed leader Hosni Mubarak June 4, 2012: REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh
Mosaic is a Peabody Award-winning daily compilation of television news reports from the Middle East, including Egypt, Lebanon, Israel, Syria, the Palestinian Authority, Iraq and Iran. Watch more Mosaic at http://www.linktv.org/mosaic
US ignites cyber warfare through Stuxnet
Published on Jun 6, 2012 by RTAmerica
The Internet is the future frontier when it comes to war, and lately legislation in America has revolved around the topic of handling the country’s battles on the Web. According to a recent New York Times article, the White House and Israel were behind cyber attacks against Iran’s nuclear program. The computer worm known as Stuxnet has been seen as hypocrisy on America’s part, but why isn’t the US practicing what it’s preaching? Trevor Timm, activist for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, joins us with more on the cyber hypocrisy.
Like us and/or follow us:
Panetta declaring war on Pakistan?
Published on Jun 6, 2012 by RTAmerica
Drones strike again in Pakistan, this time killing the alleged number two leader of al-Qaeda, Abu Yahya al-Libi. According to government officials, Obama-led drones strikes have executed 15 al-Qaeda leaders, while the George W. Bush administration killed 16 throughout that president’s two terms. Many are questioning the effectiveness of these unmanned attacks and are asking: is America safer? Scott Horton, contributing editor for Harper’s Magazine, will help us answer this pressing question.
Obama Must Go! Russia Warns War Against America “Use With Nuclear Weapons”
Published on Jun 6, 2012 by adrinilinjunky
On the eve of his trip to the United States, where he will meet with President Barack Obama, Russian Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev delivered an unequivocal message to Obama and his NATO cohorts, who are threatening to intervene with regime-change operations in Syria, Iran, and elsewhere: Such actions can lead to “full-scale wars, even with nuclear weapons.”Medvedev’s warning, delivered at an International Legal Forum in St. Petersburg, comes in the wake of similar warnings issued May 3 by Russian Chief of Staff Nikolai Makarov, that the U.S.-NATO policy of Ballistic Missile Defense in Europe could lead to a Russian pre-emptive strike, and by Medvedev himself last November.The Russians are making it clear: attacks on national sovereignty will not be tolerated. Yet President Barack Obama, operating under the thumb of the British imperial strategy to crush all national sovereignty, has stuck to his provocative policy, pressing forward against Syria, Iran, and Russia itself. Thus, unless Barack Obama is removed from office, by Constitutional means, the world is headed toward thermonuclear war.No, the Russians are not bluffing; they are deadly serious. The question is: are we? Can we face the reality that the exchange of nuclear weapons will likely exterminate all life on this planet? Can we fail to act when not only our family and posterity, but all civilization can be wiped from the face of the earth, because we tolerated a President who took his orders from Malthusian lunatics like Prince Philip and the Queen of England?
By IANS/RIA Novosti,
Moscow : Russia has warned the US over the latter’s support to Georgia in its efforts to spread propaganda.
The US administration does not fully appreciate the consequences of its support for Georgia’s efforts to propagandise the “Russian occupation of Georgia”, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Alexander Lukashevich said Wednesday.
“Highly placed American representatives are once again making loud statements in support of [Georgian president] Mikheil Saakashvili, repeating word for word a lying thesis of his propaganda on the “Russian occupation of Georgia,” he said.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, on a visit to Georgia Tuesday, reaffirmed US support for Georgia’s territorial integrity and urged Russia to commit to the August 2008 ceasefire agreement.
Fuelling Tbilisi’s “revanchist sentiments” in this way, “Washington does not wholly appreciate the measure of its liability,” the spokesperson said on the Foreign Ministry website.
The US has not learned “the right lessons” from the August 2008 events, Lukashevich said.
Clinton co-chaired the US-Georgia Strategic Partnership Commission with Georgian Prime Minister Nika Gilauri.
The commission meeting was held as part of the Charter on Strategic Partnership signed between Georgia and the US in January 2009.
Russia had recognised two breakaway Georgian republics — Abkhazia and South Ossetia — as independent states following a five-day war with Georgia in August 2008.
Moqtada al-Sadr says his followers not fighting in Syria, but members of ‘splinter’ groups could be involved
Iraqi cleric Moqtada al-Sadr on Friday insisted that claims his supporters were involved in fighting in Syria were false, but said members of “splinter” groups could be involved in the violence.
“All these claims are lies,” Sadr, a powerful Shiite cleric, said in a written response to a question from one of his followers over allegations that ‘Sadrists’ are taking part in the violent suppression of the ongoing uprising against the Syrian regime.
He added that any purported video evidence of involvement of one of his loyalists are “fabricated and not real”.
“They do not belong to me,” Sadr said of fighters in Syria, adding that it was possible that members of “splinter” groups supported by external parties were involved the violence.
Sadr did not specify which splinter groups he was referring to, or give details on which external parties may be supporting them.
The cleric promised to punish any of his supporters who were proved to be involved in the Syrian unrest.
Syria, which has witnessed an uprising for more than a year, shares a 600-kilometre (370-mile) border with Iraq.
In recent months, Iraqi officials have warned of weapons being smuggled to anti-government fighters to Syria from Iraq.
More than 13,000 people have been killed in the crackdown on dissent that followed the eruption in mid-March 2011 of anti-government protests and the insurgency against Assad’s regime, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
[In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit, for research and/or educational purposes. This constitutes 'FAIR USE' of any such copyrighted material.]