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by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Feb 15th, 2012 at 09:46:06 AM EST
EUobserver.com / Opinion / Time for honest audit of EU-US relations

BRUSSELS - With pressure coming from every direction, the EU and the US now, more than ever, need an honest discussion about their partnership. They should figure out how best to consolidate their strengths and plan a course of action.

The electoral year in the United States poses a challenge to Europeans, but it also offers an opportunity for them to reflect upon the state of the transatlantic partnership and present their vision of it.

The next presidency will not be about repairing America's image but about reaffirming US global leadership.

In this year's State of the Union address, Barack Obama argued that "the renewal of American leadership can be felt across the globe" and "anyone who tells you otherwise, anyone who tells you that America is in decline ... does not know what they are talking about."

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Feb 15th, 2012 at 11:01:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
We will review our relationship with the US 5 minutes after the US pulls all of its military out of europe and not one minute sooner.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Thu Feb 16th, 2012 at 07:23:48 AM EST
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At this point, I hope Greece becomes an American vassal state once again.
by Upstate NY on Thu Feb 16th, 2012 at 10:59:47 AM EST
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Syrian Crisis Spills Over Into Lebanon - IPS ipsnews.net
TRIPOLI, Lebanon, Feb 15, 2012 (IPS) - Chants erupt from the second floor of a decrepit building in Tripoli in the Sunni stronghold of Bab el-Tebbaneh. Young voices loudly sing "Yalla Erhal Ya Bashar," or "Come on, leave, Bashar," directed at the Syrian president, Bashar al- Assad. It has become the anthem of the Syrian revolution.

Behind a broken door, women and children gather around a hot pot of coffee. Souhaib Aal, one of the teenagers sitting in the small, run-down room, proudly shows a makeshift copy of a Free Syrian Army (FSA) ID card. "I want to be like the FSA soldiers when I grow up. They have shown strength and courage in battling Assad's dictatorship!" he says with a proud smile.

The building bears the scars of the violent battle that raged last weekend between Sunni residents from Bab el-Tebbaneh and their Alawite neighbors in Jabal Mohsen. The Syrian regime is made up of Alawites who rule a Sunni-majority country. The fighting, which left three people dead, ended last Saturday after Tripoli lawmakers hammered out a ceasefire.

The onslaught on Homs has enflamed emotions in nearby Lebanon, reviving tensions between Lebanese Sunnis, who largely support the Syrian rebellion, and Alawites, who support the regime in Damascus. The conflict between the groups has been ongoing for generations and seems set to continue for long.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Feb 15th, 2012 at 11:38:34 AM EST
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Bombardment of Syrian City Continues - IPS ipsnews.net
DOHA, Qatar, Feb 14, 2012 (IPS/Al Jazeera) - Syrian troops have shelled the central city of Homs for a 10th day, opposition activists say, amid suggestions by the U.N.'s human rights chief that the U.N. Security Council's failure to pass a resolution condemning Syria has encouraged the government to intensify its attacks on civilians.

At least seven people were killed and more than 20 injured on Tuesday in the city's Bab Amr neighbourhood, which endured relentless barrage of heavy machinegun fire, tank shells, mortars and rocket-propelled grenades, according to the activists.

Speaking to Al Jazeera from Homs, activist Hadi al-Abdallah told Al Jazeera that the shelling, which started at 5:30am local time, was the heaviest in days.

"Bab Amr and adjacent Inshaat neighbourhoods are being shelled every 15 minutes," he said.

"We do not know what to do with the injured. Since the assault started 10 days ago, there have been more than 1,000 people injured."

Bab Amr is an opposition stronghold that government forces have been struggling to regain control of.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Feb 15th, 2012 at 11:39:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Israel Shifts Uneasily Over Syria - IPS ipsnews.net
JERUSALEM, Feb 14, 2012 (IPS) - Grappling with the fallout on their country of a possible forced removal from power of Syria's President Bashar Assad, Israeli leaders are fluctuating between wariness, cautious optimism, and self-righteousness.

Last week, as the toll exacted by the 11-month Syrian uprising was mounting dramatically, Israelis were offered by their Prime Minister the customary appraisal that their country is like "a villa in the Mideast jungle".

"We have received a reminder about what kind of a neighbourhood we live in," reiterated Benjamin Netanyahu, while delivering the customary recipe: "Developing Israel's strength".

Netanyahu's statement prudently reflected the smallest common denominator in an array of tentative attitudes and positions with regard to the chaos gripping their north-eastern neighbour. Israel has officially adopted a policy of non-interference in the Syrian crisis. But that was before the uprising evolved into civil war.

When asked by Army Radio whether Israel was in contact with the Syrian opposition, Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe Ya'alon retorted rather obliquely, "Whether there's contact or not, don't expect me to discuss these things in the media."
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Feb 15th, 2012 at 11:42:15 AM EST
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Israel: Yes, the Israelis continue to obsess about Iran. And yes, Baathist Syria continues to be an Iran-friendly power. But when all is said and done, Syria has been a relatively quiet Arab neighbor, an island of stability for the Israelis. Yes, the Syrians aid Hezbollah, but Hezbollah too has been relatively quiet. Why would the Israelis really want to take the risk of a turbulent post-Baathist Syria? Who would then wield power, and might they not have to improve their credentials by expanding jihad against Israel? And wouldn't the fall of Assad lead to upsetting the relative quiet and stability that Lebanon now seems to enjoy, and might this not end up with the further strengthening and renewed radicalism of Hezbollah? Israel has a lot to lose, and not too much to gain, if Assad falls.


"Beware of the man who does not talk, and the dog that does not bark." Cheyenne
by maracatu on Thu Feb 16th, 2012 at 07:29:46 PM EST
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Trenin: How the Iran Nuclear Standoff Looks From Russia - Bloomberg

When Russians look at Iran, they see a country that has been their neighbor and rival forever. As the Russian empire advanced, it wrestled the North and South Caucasus from the Shah. Peter the Great annexed, briefly, Iran's entire Caspian Sea coastline and put his forces just north of Tehran.

In the early 20th century, Russia and the U.K. divided Iran into zones of influence. The Russians got the north and proceeded to occupy Iran twice, during each of the world wars. When Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Winston Churchill met with Josef Stalin in Tehran in 1943, they were protected by the Red Army.

Yet there was never much love lost between the two countries. To Iranians, Russia was too powerful and too threatening. Russians, meanwhile, remembered their own embassy trauma at Iranian hands in 1829. Every schoolchild knows the fate of Alexander Griboyedov, the czar's ambassador to Persia, who was murdered, with his entire embassy staff, by an angry Tehran mob. Griboyedov was a great Russian author, many of whose lines Russian children -- and grown-ups -- know by heart.

This brief background is vital to understanding where Russians are coming from as they approach Iran's nuclear program

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Feb 15th, 2012 at 11:45:17 AM EST
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Ahmadinejad Hails `Great' Iranian Nuclear Progress | World | RIA Novosti

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad trumpeted on Wednesday major advances in the Islamic Republic's nuclear program, in a move likely to further raise the stakes in its tense stand-off with the West.

"I am grateful to the Almighty...for these great achievements we are offering to the people of Iran and all humanity," he said at a research reactor in northwest Tehran.

In an event that was a startling mix of religious ceremony and scientific procedure, Ahmadinejad presided over the loading of Iran's first domestically produced nuclear fuel rods into the research reactor, joining scientists as they intoned Islamic prayers after each stage of the process.

He then took to the stage at the reactor's conference hall to announce that a "new generation of Iranian centrifuges" had been installed and put into operation at the country's main uranium enrichment facility at Natanz in central Iran. He said this brought the number of Iran's operating centrifuges for nuclear enrichment up to 9,000 from 6,000.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Feb 15th, 2012 at 03:01:16 PM EST
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Insight: Suns rise and set rapidly in China leadership opera | Reuters

(Reuters) - Leaders battling for promotion in China's Communist Party are using pages out of an old manual for negotiating the rungs of power, with the launch of separate probes that have tarnished the chances of one rising star and burnished those of another.

While circumstances are murky, the twin cases have rapidly exploded to upset a leadership succession that just weeks ago had been plodding along smoothly.

With the Communist Party's 18th Congress just months away, the sudden downfall of two officials -- one a right-hand man to a rising leader, the other the target of a rising general -- has increased the stakes, revved up the rumormill and added a strong hint of political uncertainty to the most critical leadership transition in China in nearly a decade.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Feb 15th, 2012 at 03:07:52 PM EST
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BBC News - Honduras prison fire kills hundreds

At least 300 prisoners have been killed after a massive fire swept through a jail in Honduras, officials say.

Many victims were burned or suffocated to death in their cells in Comayagua, north of the capital Tegucigalpa.

The officials say at least 300 are confirmed dead, but a further 56 inmates, out of the 853 in the prison, are missing and presumed dead.

Relatives of prisoners clashed with police as they tried to force their way into the prison, desperate for news.

Police responded by firing shots into the air and tear gas.



Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Wed Feb 15th, 2012 at 03:45:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Mormon Church apologizes for posthumous baptisms | LA Times
The Mormon Church apologized Tuesday for a "serious breach of protocol" after it was discovered that the parents of the late Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal were posthumously baptized as Mormons. The church also acknowledged that one of its members tried to baptize posthumously three relatives of Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel.
What's wrong with that? He gets to drink alcohol, coffee and all the rest, and still goes to heaven. Surely other Mormons should be upset at other people getting a free pass?

Later in the article

The latest revelations came from Helen Radkey, a former Mormon who independently researches Mormon genealogy. Radkey is perhaps best known for discovering in 2009 that President Obama's mother, Stanley Ann Dunham, had been baptized after her death.
Does that make Obama a Mormon as well?
by gk (gk) on Thu Feb 16th, 2012 at 12:56:47 PM EST
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Iran: Our satellite photographed Israel's Dimona reactor, IDF bases | Ha'aretz
Iran and the West are now competing over who is getting more stressed: Europe that feared on Wednesday that Iran was about to cut the oil line, or Iran, which has been consistently busy uncovering new technologies.

In one example, the Iranian website Mashreq claimed that the recently launched Navid-class satellite was able to take detailed photographs of the nuclear reactor in Dimona as well as "sensitive sites, air forces bases, and various areas of Tel Aviv."

What advantage can they get from more detailed pictures than those on Google Maps (try 31 00.1075  35 08.4306)? Or the picture (maybe a little bit out of date?) on Electronic Intifada?
by gk (gk) on Thu Feb 16th, 2012 at 02:58:28 PM EST
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