Politics and Legislation
For the Islamic Republic of Iran, the question of fighting off foreign intervention and “conspiracies” has been a watchword ever since the Iranian Revolution of 1979.
Iranian officials are quick to talk about an unholy trinity of the United States, the United Kingdom and Israel working together to plot in one way or another against Tehran or its allies in the region.
But when sovereign states in the Middle East express their views, or announce certain policies, Iran’s various responses often take the form of naked intervention in the affairs of other countries.
The latest flare-up has emerged in the Gulf, where countries in the Gulf Cooperation Council recently announced that closer ties between member-states were on the table.
No concrete steps toward political unity were taken during Monday’s meeting of the GCC; instead, the question of closer political ties, or even unity, would be tackled at a later date.
But Tehran has responded in full force to the notion by advising Bahrain to stay away from a closer relationship with Saudi Arabia, and urging the Iranian people to turn out Friday for protests against what it says is an “American-Zionist-British” plot.
by Staff Writers
Moscow (RIA Novosti)
A Moscow court upheld a ban on Friday prohibiting the Russian research and development company ScanEx from distributing satellite images of Earth at a resolution higher than two meters.
Scanex works under license from the Russian federal space agency, Roscosmos, to collect, process and disseminate Earth remote sensing data.
A 2008 ban prohibited ScanEx from distributing high-resolution images, considered by the defense ministry to contain sensitive military information.
ScanEx appealed the ban, citing the Russian defense minister as saying in 2006 that all restrictions on satellite imagery resolution would be lifted.
Commenting after the court decision was announced, a ScanEx spokesman said the company would file another appeal.
“The whole world can see Russia from space on detailed satellite images, but in Russia these data have not been definitively declassified,” the spokesman said.
Last November Roscosmos announced that it was preparing a bill to lift all restrictions on the dissemination of civil satellite data.
by Staff Writers
Amman, Jordan (UPI) May 16, 2012
Jordan’s Queen Rania is coming under mounting criticism over alleged corruption in the Hashemite kingdom’s political elite as the pro-Western monarchy faces major challenges to introduce reforms and scrap the 1994 peace treaty with Israel.
The 41-year-old queen, whose parents are Palestinian, has long faced accusations she was playing too prominent a role in running the largely desert and highly vulnerable state squeezed between the larger powers of Israel, Syria and Saudi Arabia.
But as King Abdullah II, who she married in 1993 when he was a prince not then in line for the Hashemite throne, has sought to ride out the political turbulence from pro-democracy uprisings that have convulsed the Arab world since January 2011, she has become more of a target for popular ire.
The normally high-profile queen, a stylish, cosmopolitan beauty who was born in Kuwait, has been advised by Jordan’s powerful security service to adopt a lower profile to deflect criticism of the monarchy at a time of regional turmoil.
Abdullah, who ascended the throne in 1999 after the death of his father, King Hussein, has repeatedly pledged to introduce sweeping democratic reforms.
But so far he has failed to produce. He has sought to deflect criticism by blaming the governments he appoints. So far he has gone through 10 prime ministers — three in the last 18 months since the Arab Spring began.
The last to go was Awn Shawkat al-Khasawneh, who suddenly resigned April 26 after six months.
That was a major setback for Abdullah’s efforts to maintain stability in the face of the regional upheaval while maintaining as much power as he can for the monarchy established by Britain after World War I.
Khasawneh, a respected international jurist, was apparently the victim of a power struggle with the kingdom’s powerful security service, the General Intelligence Directorate.
The pace of political change has been glacial and talk of meaningful parliamentary democracy, where government would be formed on a parliamentary majority rather than the whims of the monarch, has all but vanished in recent months.
The king, once beyond public criticism, is now coming under direct attack, along with his wife, who is also being accused of corruption. High unemployment and economic woes fuel the growing anger.
Abdullah blamed Khasawneh for dragging his feet on reforms the king says he ordered him to introduce.
But political insiders say Abdullah privately concedes his agenda of gradual reforms has been blocked by powerful elements within the security establishment.
These shadowy figures are determined to prevent Islamists, the most organized opposition group, from making the major political gains their brethren have made in Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia.
Abdullah’s innate caution has been heightened by the bloodbath in Syria, Jordan’s powerful and often aggressive northern neighbor.
More than half Jordan’s 6.5 million population are of Palestinian origin, many of them refugees bitterly opposed to the 1994 peace agreement.
The protests are largely peaceful and tame by Middle Eastern standards, but they mask a growing discontent.
There is also stiff opposition from the Bedouin tribes, bedrock of support for the monarchy.
They feel threatened by the largely urban Palestinian business class that has amassed considerable power and because they fear Israel’s seeking to drive Palestinians out of the West Bank to turn Jordan into a Palestinian state.
The king’s appointment of a prominent conservative, Fayez Tarawneh, to succeed Khasawneh has heightened public anger. Tarawneh is seen as a royal yes-man who won’t press for reforms.
In recent days there has been a nationwide surge of protests by Islamists and leftists demanding the abrogation of the peace treaty.
They’ve been doing that for 18 years. But these days, the mood is becoming darker and more aggressive as other Arab states topple longtime rulers and Israel stalls the peace process.
“For the moment, the opposition calls are for reform rather than regime change, but the signs are becoming clear that Abdullah has failed to understand the new pressures unleashed by the Arab Spring,” said British analyst Julien Barnes-Darcy.
Columnist Lamis Andoni also fears the worst. “The regime’s reached the conclusion — I think it’s a miscalculation — it can carry on without making fundamental changes,” she said.
“It’s betting the protest movement will get weaker and that it can fall back on its traditional power base of tribal leaders. But the reality is the economic situation will undermine those assumptions.”
Democracy in the 21st century at TerraDaily.com
NDAA Authorizes War Against Iran
U.S. Representative from Ohio’s 10th District
This week, Congress is considering two pieces of legislation relating to Iran. The first undermines a diplomatic solution with Iran and lowers the bar for war. The second authorizes a war of choice against Iran and begins military preparations for it.
H.Res.568: Eliminating the Most Viable Alternative to War
The House is expected to vote on H.Res. 568. Read the resolution. Section (6) rejects any United States policy that would rely on efforts to contain a nuclear weapons-capable Iran. Section (7) urges the President to reaffirm the unacceptability of an Iran with nuclear-weapons capability and opposition to any policy that would rely on containment as an option in response to Iranian enrichment.
This language represents a significant shift in U.S. policy and would guarantee that talks with Iran, currently scheduled for May 23, would fail. Current U.S. policy is that Iran cannot acquire nuclear weapons. Instead, H. Res. 568 draws the “redline” for military action at Iran achieving a nuclear weapons “capability,” a nebulous and undefined term that could include a civilian nuclear program. Indeed, it is likely that a negotiated deal to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran and to prevent war would provide for Iranian enrichment for peaceful purposes under the framework of the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons Treaty with strict safeguards and inspections. This language makes such a negotiated solution impossible.
At the same time, the language lowers the threshold for attacking Iran. Countries with nuclear weapons “capability” could include many other countries like Japan or Brazil. It is an unrealistic threshold.
The Former Chief of Staff of Secretary of State Colin Powell has stated that this resolution “reads like the same sheet of music that got us into the Iraq war.”
H.R. 4310: Authorizing War Against Iran and Preparing the Military for it
While H. Res. 568 undermines our diplomatic efforts and lowers the bar for war, H.R. 4310, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013 begins military preparations for war. Section 1221 makes military action against Iran a U.S. policy. Section 1222 directs our armed forces to prepare for war.
14 State Governors Under Fire From White House for Forming Citizen Militias Not Under Federal Control.
Right now, what is keeping the new world order from really rearing its ugly head is an armed population, which is the militia at large. The State Governors and the State Legislatures are within their legal right to call up the state militia.
The state militia is not the National Guard. The State Guards or militias proceeded before the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of confederation and the US Constitution. The state defense forces are the not Regular Army or a Professional force. They are unorganized and irregular formations consisting of the people possessing arms not under a centralized command structure.
To prevent such abuses from a centralized government. The Bill of Rights were adopted by the Congress and the original 13 states. The militias and the possession of arms in the hands of a decentralized power is the alternative to having a standing army in peacetime.
The 10 Articles in the Bill of Rights was adopted as expressed in the preamble stating:
“In order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added: And as extending the ground of public confidence in the Government, will best insure the beneficent ends of its institution.
The Bill of rights as a means to restrain Federal; power over the sovereign states and the individual.
In the second Amendment, “A well regulated militia being necessary for the security of a FREE STATE”. That means it is not the National Guard that only came into existence because of the Militia act of 1903(The Dick Act). Many anti-gun advocates on the left argued the “well regulated militia” means the National Guard, which is supposed to be under the command of the state governors. The second part of the second Amendment says after the comma states:
People & Power – Algeria: The revolution that never was
Published on May 17, 2012 by AlJazeeraEnglish
Why did the uprisings that brought down governments across North Africa and the Middle East fail to materialise in Algeria? Was it, as the government would claim, because of the regime’s ‘progressive leadership’ or has something more sinister and complex been going on? Opponents and human rights activists say it has more to do with a wary population traumatised by the country’s violent past and and living in fear of its secret police. People & Power wanted to find out more, but getting into Algeria is difficult – not least because Al Jazeera has been denied official access to the country since 2004. When our requests for journalist visas were ignored, our filmmakers managed to get in unofficially and were able to work discreetly. Algeria: The revolution that never was reveals what they found.
New French cabinet won’t scare the horses
Published on May 17, 2012 by ReutersVideo
May 17 – Chris Hughes of Breakingviews says French politicians will toe the line on Europe, but the question is whether president Francois Hollande’s new cabinet will tackle reform at home.
NEW DELHI: Amid fragile global economic recovery and its impact on India, Congress member and former Planning Commission member Bhalchandra Mungekar on Tuesday warned that if government does not take “urgent” steps, the country could face a bigger crisis.
“If we do not adopt some of the urgent economic measures, I apprehend that a bigger crisis may be awaiting the country,” he said participating in the discussion on the Finance Bill, 2012 in the Rajya Sabha.
While congratulating finance minister Pranab Mukherjee for intending to amend the FRBM Act, Mungekar said the decision to roll back some tax measures is “most disturbing”.
THE World Bank has announced it’s ready to provide Indonesia with a $2 billion loan, a backstop against a potential debt crisis in one of Asia’s fastest growing economies.
The World Bank said the loan, requested by the Indonesian government, would be held as a contingency against “possible future shocks and volatility”.
While Indonesia has long seen growth rates that would be the envy of the United States or European nations, the economy has slowed recently thanks to a drop in export demand.
Jakarta and the World Bank will hope the loan sends a message to markets that Indonesia has the firepower to withstand moderate shocks, as it moves to implement economic reforms.
Though Indonesia currently enjoys better terms of borrowing than some indebted European nations, its budget remains vulnerable to external shocks.
Any deepening of the crisis is the eurozone or a slowdown in China or the United States would hit the Indonesian economy hard.
Exports account for around 26 percent of gross domestic product.
But for now, the country appears to be weathering the storm.
According to the Bank of Indonesia, the country will pay an interest rate of 3.85 percent on 10 year bonds, more than Greece pays for three month bonds.
GDP expanded 6.3 percent year-on-year in the first quarter.
Why We Are Going To See Bank Runs Happening All Over Europe (XLF, EWP, EWI, FXE, VGK, EWG, FAZ, FAS)
Michael Snyder: The bank runs that we are watching right now in Greece (NYSEARCA:GREK) are shocking, but they are only just the beginning. Since May 6th, nearly one billion dollars has been withdrawn from Greek banks. For a small nation like Greece, that is an absolutely catastrophic number. At this point, the entire Greek banking system is in danger of collapsing. If you had money in a Greek bank, why wouldn’t you pull it out? If Greece leaves the euro, all euros in Greek banks will likely be converted to drachmas, and the value of those drachmas will almost certainly decline dramatically. In fact, it has been estimated that Greek citizens could see the value of their bank accounts decline by up to 50 percent if Greece leaves the euro. So if you had money in a Greek bank, it would only make sense to withdraw it and move it to another country as quickly as possible. And as the eurozone begins to unravel, this is a scenario that we are going to see play out in country after country. As member nations leave the eurozone, you would be a fool to have your euros in Italian banks or Spanish banks when you could have them in German (NYSEARCA:EWG) banks instead. So the bank runs that are happening in Greece right now are only a preview of things to come. Before this crisis is over we are going to see bank runs happening all over Europe (NYSEARCA:VGK).
If Greece leaves the euro (NYSEARCA:FXE), the consequences are likely to be quite messy. Those that are promoting the idea that a “Grexit” can be done in an orderly fashion are not being particularly honest. The following is from a recent article in the Independent….
“Whoever tells you a Greek exit would be no big deal is an idiot, lying or disingenuous,” said Sony Kapoor of the European think-tank Re-Define. Economists fear that a disorderly exit would prompt a huge run by investors on Spanish and Italian debt, forcing those countries to seek support from an EU bailout fund, which, with a capacity of just €500bn, is widely regarded as too small to cope with those pressures.
A Greek exit from the euro would not only result in a run on Spanish and Italian bonds, but it would also likely result in a run on Spanish and Italian banks.
If Greece is allowed to leave the euro, that will be a signal that other countries will eventually be allowed to leave as well. Nobody in their right mind would want their euros stuck in Spanish or Italian banks if those countries end up converting back to national currencies.
Fear is a powerful motivator. If Greece converts their euros back to drachmas, that will be a clear signal that all euros are not created equally. The race to move money into German banks will accelerate dramatically.
Published on May 12, 2012 by MissFireballxl5
12 year old spells out the fraud the banks are committing against the people.
Victoria Grant explains why her homeland, Canada, and most of the world, is in debt. April 27, 2012 at the Public Banking in America Conference, …
We Are Watching The Greek Banking System Die Right In Front Of Our Eyes
Money is being pulled out of Greek banks at an alarming rate, and if
something dramatic is not done quickly Greek banks are going to start dropping like flies. As I detailed yesterday, people do not want to be stuck with euros in Greek banks when Greece leaves the euro and converts back to the drachma. The fear is that all existing euros in Greek banks would be converted over to drachmas which would then rapidly lose value after the transition. So right now euros are being pulled out of Greek banks at a staggering pace. According to MSNBC, Greeks withdrew $894 million from Greek banks on Monday alone and a similar amount was withdrawn on Tuesday. But this is just an acceleration of a trend that has been going on for a couple of years. It has been reported that approximately a third of all Greek bank deposits were withdrawn between January 2010 and March 2012. So where has all of the cash for these withdrawals been coming from? Well, the European Central Bank has been providing liquidity for Greek banks, but now it has been reported that the ECB is going to stop providing liquidityto some Greek banks. It was not announced which Greek banks are being cut off. For now, the Greek Central Bank will continue to provide euros to those banks, but the Greek Central Bank will not be able to funnel euros into insolvent banks indefinitely.
This is a major move by the European Central Bank, and it is going to shake confidence in the Greek banking system even more.
There are already rumors that the Greek government is considering placing limits on bank withdrawals, and many Greeks will be tempted to go grab their money while they still can.
Get Ready: We’re About To Have Another 2008-Style Crisis
Well, my hat is off to the global central planners for averting the next stage of the unfolding financial crisis for as long as they have. I guess there’s some solace in having had a nice break between the events of 2008/09 and today, which afforded us all the opportunity to attend to our various preparations and enjoy our lives.
Alas, all good things come to an end, and a crisis rooted in ‘too much debt’ with a nice undercurrent of ‘persistently high and rising energy costs’ was never going to be solved by providing cheap liquidity to the largest and most reckless financial institutions. And it has not.
Forestalled is Not Foregone
The same sorts of signals that we had in 2008 are once again traipsing across my market monitors. Not precisely the same, of course, but with enough similarities that they rhyme loudly. Whereas in 2008 we saw breakdowns in the credit spreads of major financial institutions, this time we are seeing the same dynamic in the sovereign debt of the weaker European nation states.
Greece, as expected and predicted here, is a right proper mess and will have to leave the euro monetary system if it is to have any chance at recovery going forward. Yes, all those endless meetings and rumors and final agreements painfully hammered out by eurocrats over the past year are almost certainly going to be tossed, and additional losses are going to be foisted upon the hapless holders of Greek debt. My prediction is that within a year Greece will be back on the drachma, perhaps by the end of this year (2012).
Wars and Rumors of War
‘Pentagon talks peace, arms Syria rebels via Gulf allies’
Published on May 17, 2012 by RussiaToday
Washington is helping to co-ordinate arms to the Syrian opposition through Arab Gulf allies – Qatar and Saudi Arabia. The confirmation was given by unnamed American officials. However they say the US is not directly supplying weapons to the rebel forces. There’s recently been an influx of arms from abroad to fight the regime in Syria.
Anti-war activist Brian Becker says the US and NATO still want Assad out.
IDF denies Palestinians injured in Gaza artillery strike
Published on May 17, 2012 by RussiaToday
Israel’s denying reports that its army has shelled parts of Gaza, wounding several civilians. The claims come from Palestinian doctors, who say they’re treating the casualties. The latest from our Middle East correspondent Paula Slier.
AFP – Israeli military intelligence chief Aviv Kochavi made a “secret visit” to Washington earlier this month to discuss the upcoming talks between world powers and Iran, a newspaper reported on Wednesday.
An Israeli security official confirmed the visit, which was reported in Haaretz newspaper, but could not provide further details.
As well as discussing Tehran’s nuclear programme, the major general also held talks with senior White House and intelligence officials in New York and Washington on “the Syria crisis and Hezbollah’s increasing power in Lebanon,” the paper said.
Citing a senior Israeli official, Haaretz said Iran was the main topic, with talks focused on next week’s talks between Tehran and the P5+1 powers — the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany.
Israel and most of the West believe Iran’s nuclear energy programme masks a drive to develop atomic weapons but the two allies disagree on how imminent the threat is. Tehran denies such intentions.
US officials have warned against any pre-emptive military strike, with analysts predicting Iran could hit back at US and Israeli targets, with its Lebanese Shiite ally Hezbollah expected to launch rocket attacks on Israel.
According to the paper, Kochavi warned over Hezbollah’s “increasing strength” and said internal tensions in Lebanon, combined with the instability in Syria, “increases the risk of escalation.”
In recent weeks, Israel has spared no effort to ensure its concerns are well understood ahead of the May 23 P5+1 talks in Baghdad.
Earlier this month, National Security Adviser Yaakov Amidror toured European capitals meeting officials directly engaged in the Iran talks.
And last week, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton made a surprise visit to Jerusalem to discuss the talks with top Israeli officials.
On Tuesday, Defence Minister Ehud Barak flew to Washington for the third time in recent months for talks with his American counterpart, which were also expected to deal with Iran.
Before leaving, Barak complained that the world’s demands of Iran were “minimalist” and would not succeed in making it halt its nuclear drive.
Articles of Interest
by Staff Writers
Moscow (RIA Novosti)
Russia’s food safety chief Gennady Onishchenko raised doubts on Monday over the safety of vegetables imported from the Netherlands, which he said had been experimenting with mutations of the avian flu virus.
“The Netherlands is engaged in an activity banned by international conventions. It alters properties, in particular, the properties of bird flu viruses, increasing their virulence compared with natural strains,” he said.
“Being aware of this process, we believe we must understand why this is being done and how much this threatens Russia’s national security, Onishchenko said.
Onishchenko has repeatedly claimed the European Union has failed to identify the causes of a highly pathogenic E.coli intestinal virus that claimed several lives in Europe last summer and prompted Russia to restrict vegetable imports from the EU.
Austin Texas May Be Test Site For Drone Training! High Tech Clay Pigeon Program!
South Korea is set to launch a multipurpose satellite to carry out earth observation from a space center in Japan early Friday, the government said Thursday.
The Ministry of Education, Science and Technology said in a statement that the Arirang-3 satellite is scheduled to take off at around 1:39 a.m. Friday from Tanegashima Space Center on Tanegashima Island in western Japan.
The satellite will be carried into orbit by Japan’s H-IIA rocket, and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), which has organized the launch, said the liftoff will go smoothly citing favorable weather conditions, according to the ministry.
The satellite, equipped with a high-resolution optical camera, will operate at an altitude of 685 kilometers for the next four years to provide highly detailed images of the Earth’s surface.
South Korea launched its first Earth-observatory satellite Arirang-1 in 1999, and since 2004 the country has invested heavily, spending more than 286.6 billion won (245.5 million U.S. dollars) on its satellite project.
[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.]