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by Nomad on Mon Feb 20th, 2012 at 02:14:57 PM EST
BBC News - Syria crisis: Red Cross presses for humanitarian truce

The International Committee of the Red Cross says it is in talks with "all those concerned" in Syria's conflict to negotiate a ceasefire.

The group says it wants to negotiate a truce in the most affected areas to allow it to deliver aid packages.

Correspondents say the fact that the ICRC has spoken publicly about the negotiations shows just how concerned it is by the situation in Syria.

Thousands have died there in an 11-month uprising against the government.

ICRC spokesman Bijan Farnoudi said the group was "discussing several possibilities" to enable humanitarian aid to be delivered.

He said the aim of the discussions was "to facilitate swift Syrian Arab Red Crescent and ICRC access to the people in need."

by Nomad on Mon Feb 20th, 2012 at 04:46:40 PM EST
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China, Russia may be shifting on Syria: Arab League | Reuters

The Arab League chief said on Monday there were signs that China and Russia could be shifting their stance on Syria after the two permanent members of the U.N. Security Council vetoed a Western-backed Arab peace plan aimed at ending violence there.

"There are indications coming from China and to some extent from Russia that there may be a change in position," League Secretary-General Nabil Elaraby told a news conference in Cairo.

China and Russia's blocking this month of a draft U.N. Security Council resolution that backed an Arab plan demanding that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad step aside angered the West and Arab states.

They also voted against a non-binding General Assembly resolution to back the Arab plan last week.

China has sent envoys to the region, stung by Western criticism that by vetoing the resolutions it was allowing the violence in Syria to increase.

by Nomad on Mon Feb 20th, 2012 at 04:52:02 PM EST
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Russia Bows out of 'Friends of Syria Group' Meeting - Foreign Ministry | Russia | RIA Novosti

Russia will not participate in a meeting of Friends of the so-called Syria Group in Tunisia, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said on Tuesday.

Last week during an emergency meeting of the Arab League Council at the level of Foreign Ministers, Tunisia initiated the first international conference Friends of Syria. Earlier the Arabic newspaper Al Sharq Al Awsat, citing a statement by Tunisian Foreign Minister Rafik Abdesselam, reported that Russia would participate in the event.

...  Lukashevich said that according to the report, "it seems that we are talking about slapping together some kind of international coalition as was the case in organizing the Libya Contact Group in order to support one side against the other in an internal conflict."

The Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement that "Russia is for all members of the world community to act as friends of all Syrian people and not only part of it."

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 05:21:18 AM EST
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Muslim Brotherhood Looks West in Bid to Revive Egyptian Economy - WSJ.com

Last month, the Muslim Brotherhood received a phone call from the International Monetary Fund. Egypt was hurtling toward economic collapse, and IMF officials had decided they couldn't push ahead with a $3.2 billion loan without buy-in from the country's new political heavyweights.

After 80 years as an underground movement with many members in jail, the Brotherhood found itself at a historic moment. Its decision would likely make or break a loan package believed vital by many Western officials and by Egypt's own business community.

There has been deep distrust in Egypt of the IMF, fueled by a general suspicion of Western meddling and foreign invasions in the 18th and 19th centuries to collect debts. Many Egyptians believe that the Western-style economic reforms of recent years enriched a handful of wealthy regime cronies and did little for regular people.

Yet the Brotherhood recently ended up giving tentative approval to the $3.2 billion IMF loan. "All of a sudden, we found ourselves for the first time and after a very, very short learning process, asked to take a position that would affect everybody's lives," said Essam al-Haddad, the Brotherhood's new senior adviser on foreign affairs.

by Nomad on Mon Feb 20th, 2012 at 04:46:43 PM EST
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Aaaargh, it's the land reform pushed by the IMF that tipped Egypt over the edge.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 03:11:07 AM EST
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Khader Adnan to Have Israeli Court Hearing on Tuesday - NYTimes.com
Israel's High Court is slated to hear an urgent petition on Tuesday in the case of a Palestinian detained without charge who has been on a hunger strike for two months.

The hearing had first been scheduled for Thursday but his lawyers and human rights groups representing the hospitalized 33-year-old detainee, Khader Adnan, were worried that he would not survive that long.

Mr. Adnan's case challenges a decades-old Israeli practice employed almost exclusively against Palestinians, thousands of whom have been detained by military court orders under similar circumstances for months and even years. He is already being hailed a hero in the West Bank and Gaza.

Mr. Adnan is not the first Palestinian to have gone on a hunger strike, but his -- 66 days long as of Monday -- has proven the most enduring. A medical report prepared last week by an Israeli-accredited doctor on behalf of Physicians for Human Rights-Israel, and filed along with the petition to speed his hearing at the High Court, stated that Mr. Adnan was "in immediate danger of death" and that "a fast in excess of 70 days does not permit survival."

by Nomad on Mon Feb 20th, 2012 at 04:46:45 PM EST
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But if he dies of a hunger strike, isn't that proof he had a terrorist mindset ?

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 03:12:35 AM EST
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US military chief cautions against Israeli attack on Iran | World news | The Guardian

The United States is stepping up efforts to dissuade Israel from attacking Iran's nuclear facilities, with a strong public warning by the US military's most senior figure and the dispatch of two high-ranking officials to Jerusalem.

General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the US joint chiefs of staff, said in a television interview that it was "not prudent at this point" to attack Iran, and "a strike at this time would be destabilising".

But in a comment likely to fuel speculation about Israel's military plans, he added: "I wouldn't suggest we've persuaded them that our view is the correct view." The two countries were having a "candid, collaborative conversation" which was continuing, he said.

His concerns were echoed by William Hague, the British foreign secretary, who said it was "not a wise thing at this moment" for Israel to launch military action against Iran.

by Nomad on Mon Feb 20th, 2012 at 04:46:48 PM EST
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U.N. Nuclear Inspectors Return to Tehran - NYTimes.com
A team of United Nations inspectors arrived in Iran on Monday for its second visit in three weeks, saying its highest priority remained "the possible military dimensions" that Tehran denies are part of a disputed nuclear program that has led to European oil sanctions and a new threat of expanded countermeasures from Tehran.

The talks between Iranian officials and investigators from the International Atomic Energy Agency coincided with heightening international tensions, pressures and counterpressures over the nuclear program, as Iran claims significant technological advances in uranium enrichment.

In what seemed a further upping of the stakes shortly after the inspectors arrived, Tehran signaled that it might expand a ban on oil exports to Britain and France, announced on Sunday, to other European powers it deems "hostile" in light of broader economic sanctions by the European Union due to come into force on July 1.

Iran's deputy oil minister, Ahmad Qalebani, said oil exports to Spain, the Netherlands, Greece, Germany, Italy and Portugal might also be banned, state media reported.

by Nomad on Mon Feb 20th, 2012 at 04:47:18 PM EST
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If they really want to dissuade Israel, they themselves could stop all their own sabre rattling. They could stop lock step support for Israel's war mongering, they could stand down the drones, they could withdraw all the Navy ships hovering just outside Iranian waters.

Hell, they could even try to make friendly with the iranian people.

But right now, if they don't want a war with Iran, they're sure going about it the wrong way

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 03:15:48 AM EST
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Oh, and Obama could tell a lackey to get on the line to that embarrassing UK pipsqueak, William Hague, and tell him to STFU about Iran as well

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 03:17:11 AM EST
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Election anger mounts in Senegal - Africa - Al Jazeera English

Senegalese are continuing their protests against incumbent president Abdoulaye Wade's decision to seek a third term in office, erecting barricades and pelting police with rocks just days before a presidential election.

The state-owned news service confirmed the death on Monday of a young man in a suburb of the capital Dakar as demonstrations intensified, and the opposition said they would organise more protests.

Several people have been killed since the street clashes began late last month after Wade's candidacy was validated by the country's top legal body.

The 85-year-old Wade, who came to power in 2000, is insisting on running again, despite the deepening unrest and calls from both France, Senegal's former colonial master, and the US to hand power to the next generation.

Wade will face more than a dozen rivals in the election, including former allies Macky Sall and Idrissa Seck. A runoff will be held if no candidate wins more than half the total vote.

"We will not give Abdoulaye Wade any rest until he understands that he can't run in these elections.," Tidiane Gadio, an opposition candidate, told Al Jazeera.

"The people of Senegal and the leadership of the opposition have the resolve to prevent him from running in these elections."

by Nomad on Mon Feb 20th, 2012 at 04:47:22 PM EST
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In Race to Run Hong Kong, Scandal Taints Beijing's Choice - NYTimes.com
An unauthorized addition to a luxury house may be sinking the hopes of the man thought to be China's favorite to be Hong Kong's next leader.

Henry Tang, a former senior government official, is facing increasing pressure to end his campaign to become chief executive, Hong Kong's top government position.

Long seen as the candidate favored by Beijing, Mr. Tang has seen his popularity plummet over months of missteps, capped last week when he acknowledged that structures built at his wife's home did not have government approval. Mr. Tang insists on continuing his candidacy, but the unauthorized construction, a favorite topic in local media coverage of public figures, was seized on by his political opponents.

"I don't think he can hope to salvage his credibility," said Alan Leong of the Civic Party. "If he can't handle his own affairs, how can he run a government?"

by Nomad on Mon Feb 20th, 2012 at 04:53:34 PM EST
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Paul Babeu is a far-right Republican who was accused of misusing his office to intimidate an ex-lover. But the interesting part, as TPM says is:
But one thing shines through to me as perhaps the most significant part of the whole media storm: You have a hard-right Republican, with intense political ambitions outed as gay and accused of serious abuse of office. He vigorously denies the charges but says, Yeah, I'm gay. And by the way, I support gay marriage and I also think that gays should be able to serve openly in the US military.

Given what was contained in the original story, it's not like Babeu had a great deal of choice about disclosing his sexuality. But then that hasn't stopped others from trying. No comical denials (a la Larry Craig), no slinking off into a shamed obscurity (a la too many sad stories to mention). Just, yeah, I'm gay. And I'm still running for office.

by gk (gk) on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 04:07:22 AM EST
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Aljazeera: (not yet confirmed anywhere else)
Israel's Supreme Court has ordered the release of Khader Adnan, a Palestinian detained without charge, who has been on hunger strike for more than nine weeks, his lawyer said.
by gk (gk) on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 06:29:50 AM EST
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972mag has the full details.
The Prime Minister's Office reported on Tuesday that Khader Adnan, now on the 66th day of his hunger strike, will call off his protest in a deal that will see him released on April 17.

Ofir Gendelman from the PMO tweeted, "#khaderadnan announced that he is ending his hunger strike. If there's no new evidence against him, he will be released from custody on 17.4."

by gk (gk) on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 07:48:01 AM EST
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