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by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Feb 11th, 2012 at 12:51:52 PM EST
Syria 'relaunches' assault on Homs | World news | guardian.co.uk

Syrian forces have unleashed new tank and rocket attacks on the besieged city of Homs killing at least seven people, activists said.

The renewed bombardment comes amid reports that gunmen have assassinated an army general in Damascus, the first killing of a high-ranking military officer in the Syrian capital since the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad's regime began in March.

Syria's state news agency Sana reported that three gunmen shot dead Brigadier General Issa al-Khouli as he left his home in the Damascus district of Rukn-Eddine on Saturday morning.

Meanwhile, activists in Homs said that a 55-year-old woman was among those killed by shellfire on the Baba Amr district on Homs. Some reports suggest as many as 15 people have been killed in the past 24 hours.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Feb 11th, 2012 at 01:03:55 PM EST
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Violence intensifies in central Syria cities - Middle East - Al Jazeera English

Syrian security forces have  renewed their assaults on the central cities of Homs and Hama, while anti-government forces are said to have killed soldiers in Idlib and a senior military official in Damascus, activists, rights groups and the state news agency report.

Opposition neighbourhoods in Homs were hit by tank and rocket bombardments on Saturday in the government's continuing crackdown on protesters there, with the city's Bab Amr area coming under concerted fire.

Rights groups say at least four people were killed during Saturday's violence in Homs, and that three bodies of people who had been killed earlier were also recovered.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Feb 11th, 2012 at 02:40:57 PM EST
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Renewed Push in U.S. to Arm Syrian Rebels - IPS ipsnews.net
WASHINGTON, Feb 9, 2012 (IPS) - What with rumours from Israel of war on Iran, a major showdown with the Egyptian military over the indictments of government- funded U.S. activists in Cairo, and continuing political paralysis in Iraq, you would think President Barack Obama has enough Middle East crises to deal with.

But in the aftermath of last weekend's Russian and Chinese vetoes at the U.N. Security Council of an Arab League-sponsored resolution calling for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down as part of a transition leading to elections, calls for Washington to take stronger action, including arming rebel forces, have grown much louder here.

So far, the administration has resisted the pressure, focusing instead on convening a "Friends of Syria" contact group of anti-Assad Western and Arab states to ensure that whatever support may be provided to the chronically fractious opposition is coordinated to the greatest possible extent.

Washington is particularly eager to coordinate policy with Turkey whose foreign minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, arrived here Thursday.

Citing the precedent of last year's U.S. intervention in Libya, three of the Senate's most hawkish members said Wednesday sanctions and the creation of the contact group were not enough.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Feb 11th, 2012 at 03:06:24 PM EST
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Crowds swarm Suu Kyi as campaign begins - Asia-Pacific - Al Jazeera English

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi has been greeted by cheering crowds as she begins campaigning in the constituency where she is standing for parliament for the first time.

Suu Kyi kicked off her campaign on Friday with thousands of excited supporters lining the roads to greet her convoy of dozens of vehicles.

They waved flags of her National League for Democracy (NLD) party and her photos along with those of her father, Myanmar independence hero Aung San.

"The road ahead will be tough," Suu Kyi told a crowd of around 7,000 people gathered in a dusty field in the southern village of Wah Thin Kha, where she will cast a ballot in the April 1 by-election.

"But our goal is to achieve peace, stability and development."

"I acknowledge there are difficulties," the 66-year-old Nobel Peace laureate said. "But let others know we need the people's support. Let us overcome the hurdles together."

The April vote is being held to fill 48 parliamentary seats vacated by legislators who were appointed to the cabinet or other posts last year.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Feb 11th, 2012 at 02:44:38 PM EST
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Ahmadinejad to make major nuclear annoucement - Middle East - Al Jazeera English

Iran's president has said that the Islamic Republic will soon announce "very important" achievements in the nuclear field, during an address to crowds celebrating the anniversary of the country's 1979 revolution.

Ahmadinejad addressed tens of thousands of supporters in Tehran's Azadi [Freedom] Square on Saturday as Iranians across the country joined state-organised rallies to mark the occasion.

"In the coming days the world will witness Iran's announcement of its very important and very major nuclear achievements," Ahmadinejad told the crowd in a speech relayed live on state television. He gave no further details. 

The president spoke from a stage in front of which a full-scale model of a captured US spy drone was erected, which Iranian officials said they brought down by hacking its flight controls as it overflew their territory in December on a surveillance mission.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Feb 11th, 2012 at 02:45:27 PM EST
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Obama budget signals election-year tax battle | Reuters

(Reuters) - President Barack Obama will seek billions of dollars for jobs and infrastructure in his 2013 budget, an appeal to voters that draws election-year battle lines over taxes and spending as Republicans slammed him for "debt, doubt and decline."

Obama's budget proposal, which he will submit to Congress on Monday, will project a much smaller deficit in 2013 compared with this year, White House officials said on Friday.

"The budget targets scarce federal resources to the areas critical to growing the economy and restoring middle class security," the White House said in a statement, echoing Obama's recent messages on the campaign trial.

The budget gives Obama one of his biggest platforms before the election to tell voters how he would govern in a second White House term, helping him cast Republicans as the party of the rich, while they paint him as a tax and spend liberal.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Feb 11th, 2012 at 02:46:52 PM EST
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MALI: Fifty Thousand Flee as Political Parties Call for Dialogue - IPS ipsnews.net
BAMAKO, Feb 10, 2012 (IPS) - Mali's political parties have jointly called on the government to hold a forum for peace and reconciliation as a way to end a Tuareg rebellion launched several weeks ago. The uprising has forced around 55,000 people out of their homes, the majority fleeing the fighting in the north of the country, but others are seeking shelter from ethnic tension and violent demonstrations in cities in the south.

The uprising by the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA) has claimed dozens of casualties since mid-January, including members of the army and the rebels, though precise numbers have not been established by independent sources.

In a Feb. 7 statement, the United Nations High Commission for Refugees said it has sent emergency teams to countries bordering Mali to help meet the needs of around 20,000 refugees in neighbouring countries.

"In the past three weeks, at least 10,000 people are reported to have crossed to Niger, 9,000 have found refuge in Mauritania and 3,000 in Burkina Faso," UNHCR spokesman Adrian Edwards said in Geneva on Tuesday.

"Many of the new arrivals are sleeping in the open and have little access to shelter, clean water, health services and food," Edwards said.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Feb 11th, 2012 at 02:55:57 PM EST
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Touch of Arab Spring Comes Late to Morocco - IPS ipsnews.net
CASABLANCA, Feb 10, 2012 (IPS) - Deadly clashes between police and youth in the Northeastern town of Taza last week suggest that, far from bringing change and stability, Morocco's new government is simply repeating mistakes of the past, stoking tensions and fuelling a spate of protests against the regime.

In an effort to keep its population in check during the Arab Spring, the regime launched a process of reforms last February and brandished what it called `the Moroccan exception', boasting of relative calm during a period of intense regional turmoil.

A new constitution took effect on Jul. 1, 2011, granting wider powers to the executive of the new government while supposedly cutting back the authority of the monarch.

This was followed by general elections last September, which were snapped up by the Islamists of the Justice and Development Party (PJD), whose general secretary, Abdelilah Benkirane, was subsequently named the head of the new government.

But Benkirane, who presented his programme to parliament last month, has thus far failed to deliver on his election pledges.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Feb 11th, 2012 at 03:04:46 PM EST
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Inter-ethnic fighting displaces 40,000 in Kenya

More than 40,000 people have fled clashes between two northern Kenyan tribes over access to water and pasture, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said Friday.

"We have never seen before what we are seeing this time, entire villages, entire schools destroyed, water points sabotaged," Alexander Matheou, IFRC head for East Africa, told AFP.

The UN had earlier said "tens of thousands" displaced by the fighting had fled into neighbouring Ethiopia, where the majority are living with host families.

Clashes between rival cattle herding pastoralists in the region are common, with herders often carrying guns to protect their animals, but the recent fighting has been unusually heavy.

The conflict pits two traditional rivals, the Borana and the Gabra, around the town of Moyale on the Ethiopian border.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Feb 11th, 2012 at 03:27:37 PM EST
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The Afghanistan Report the Pentagon Doesn't Want You to Read

Rolling Stone reporter Michael Hastings (featured in a recent interview with AlterNet), has gotten his hands on a must-read report exposing the gulf between what military officials tell the public about Afghanistan and the reality on the ground....

Here is the report's damning opening lines: "Senior ranking U.S. military leaders have so distorted the truth when communicating with the U.S. Congress and American people in regards to conditions on the ground in Afghanistan that the truth has become unrecognizable. This deception has damaged America's credibility among both our allies and enemies, severely limiting our ability to reach a political solution to the war in Afghanistan." Davis goes on to explain that everything in the report is "open source" - i.e., unclassified - information. According to Davis, the classified report, which he legally submitted to Congress, is even more devastating. "If the public had access to these classified reports they would see the dramatic gulf between what is often said in public by our senior leaders and what is actually true behind the scenes," Davis writes.

Wind power
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sun Feb 12th, 2012 at 06:03:02 AM EST
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