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by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 01:48:52 PM EST
NIGER : Strained Welcome for 15,000 Malian Refugees - IPS ipsnews.net
CHINAGODER, Niger , Feb 21, 2012 (IPS) - The little village of Chinagoder, on the Niger-Mali border, has become a refugee camp, flooded with Malian families fleeing fighting between their regular army and Tuareg rebels known as the MNLA - the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad.

In the past month, more than 15,000 Malians have arrived across the border, entering a region of western Niger that is already stressed by drought and poor harvests. The districts of Ayourou, Koutoubou, Yassan Banibangou, Mangaïzé and Chinagoder - all in the western Tillabéri region of the country - have become the arrival point for refugees.

"Usually home to fewer than 1,700 residents, our village now holds more than 6,500 people, mostly Malian families from Ménaka and Aderaboukane who have arrived with no resources," Zakari Djibo, younger brother of Chinagoder's chief, told IPS.

"The influx of refugees began on Jan. 26 and grew, day by day, to the point where it overwhelmed our ability to house and care for them," Djibo said. "Despite this, we are continuing to welcome these families in distress and give them hospitality."
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 03:17:01 PM EST
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Palestinian detainee ends hunger strike - Middle East - Al Jazeera English

A Palestinian detained by Israel, Khader Adnan, has agreed to end his 66-day hunger strike as part of a deal under which he will be released without charge, sources tell Al Jazeera.

Al Jazeera's Nisreen El-Shamayleh, reporting from Adnan's hometown of Jenin in the occupied West Bank, quoted officials as saying on Tuesday that "Adnan has informed his lawyers that he has suspended his hunger strike and agreed to the offer to serve his sentence until April 17".

A spokesperson for the Israeli Supreme Court earlier told Al Jazeera that based on the deal reached between Adnan's lawyers and the Israeli justice ministry, he would end his fast in return for the court's decision to "erase" his file and release him on April 17, ending his "administrative detention".

Israel's supreme court had been expected to hear an urgent appeal by Adnan's lawyer later on Tuesday, but the hearing was cancelled after news of the deal became public.

"This man had no charges until now, no interrogation came up with any conclusions, no evidence against him. This is the truth, this is the reality," Jawad Bulus, one of Adnan's lawyers, told Al Jazeera.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 03:19:25 PM EST
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Mugabe scoffs at calls to retire - Africa - Al Jazeera English

Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe's president and Africa's oldest leader, has celebrated his 88th birthday, denying reports he has cancer.

Mugabe declared himself "fit as a fiddle" on Tuesday, scoffing at calls to retire and pushing for new elections this year.

"The day will come when I will become sick," Mugabe said in an interview on state-owned Radio Zimbabwe, dismissing fears about his health.

Making light of numerous media reports of his sickness, Mugabe, a Roman Catholic, said: "I have died many times - that's where I have beaten Christ. Christ died once and resurrected once."

Presidential officials said he would celebrate his birthday at a family dinner at his home in the capital Harare, with a  celebration rally taking place in eastern Zimbabwe on Saturday.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 03:20:39 PM EST
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War with Iran: Focusing on the end-game - Opinion - Al Jazeera English

Washington, DC - Talk of war is in the air. In the US, one can hardly pick up a newspaper or magazine, or tune in to a public affairs show without encountering speculation about hostilities with Iran. The conservative right is fairly clambering for conflict, and even parties not normally associated with them - the Washington Post comes to mind - are just a step or two behind in demanding clear "red lines" to trigger the first salvo.

Those to the left of centre are notable for their hand-wringing passivity. They whine about the daunting risks and pallid potential gains of a strike against Iran's nuclear facilities, but lack the moral conviction to make any compelling counter-argument.

Most prominent in the latter ranks is the Obama administration itself. It clearly has no taste for war with Iran, and just as clearly fears what the Israelis might do, but cannot say so, for fear of crippling itself politically. And so it assumes a seemingly safe middle ground, posturing, in coded language, that "all options are on the table", while hoping against hope that increasingly stringent sanctions and the thinly veiled threat of a conventional military strike will induce Iran to change course before Israel acts.

One reads the stories of firm messages supposedly being passed in private to the Israeli government, warning them against precipitate action - most recently, we are told, by General Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. What precise messages General Dempsey or others may have delivered we do not know, but it is implausible that anyone in the Netanyahu government, caught up in geo-political hysteria, would heed them. Why should they? What possible credibility can Obama have in making an argument in private that he fears to make in public?

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 03:21:58 PM EST
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Juan Cole: Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak have launched a vicious attack on US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey, an American war hero, saying his recent statements "served Iran."

Surreal!

"Beware of the man who does not talk, and the dog that does not bark." Cheyenne

by maracatu on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 06:31:03 PM EST
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same old same old. All the warhawks who clamoured for war in Iraq and now exactly the same arguments for war with Iran.

And that article is right, Obama has gone into his reflex mode of distancing himself from an issue he should grasp and make his own. He needs to publicly tell the American public and Israel it ain't gonna happen and, most importantly, why. Because if he doesn't, the war will happen.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed Feb 22nd, 2012 at 03:10:28 AM EST
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Polls claiming 63% of Americans "support Israel."  Whether that is true or not doesn't matter, people think it is true, and so will act on it.

Skepticism is the first step on the road to truth. -- Denis Diderot
by ATinNM on Wed Feb 22nd, 2012 at 11:47:23 AM EST
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BBC News - Venezuela's Hugo Chavez faces new operation

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has said that he will have to undergo another operation after doctors found a lesion during medical tests in Cuba.

The 57-year-old underwent two operations in Havana last year to remove a cancerous tumour from his pelvis.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 03:24:03 PM EST
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Colombia:
Colombia Reports: Colombia's former executive director of the U.S.-funded counter-narcotics initiative "Plan Colombia" was called for questioning Monday to respond to allegations she had ties with the AUC, responsible for most drug trafficking from Colombia before its 2006 demobilization.  Sandra Suarez, appointed by former President Alvaro Uribe in 2002 to work with the U.S. to combat drug trafficking, faces accusations she had ties to "Jorge 40," one of the paramilitary AUC's main leaders.

Colombia Reports: Former paramilitaries are being re-enlisted in a private army which will be used to violently resist the restitution of land to displaced farmers in the north-Colombia Cesar department, according to NGO Nuevo Arco Iris.

Colombia Reports: Suspected FARC guerrillas have burned a bus and killed the driver, cutting off transport between Colombia's western departments of Risaralda and Choco, reported Colombian media Monday.

Colombia Reports: Heavy combat between FARC guerrilla and the Colombian army continued on Tuesday, leaving 750 people displaced by the violence. According to Interior Minister German Vargas, the situation in the Cauca department is "complicated."

Narcosphere: U.S. troops deployed to the US/Mexican border last week may well be there, in part, to deal with the blowback from ATF's botched Fast and Furious gambit. Veteran border reporter Diana Washington Valdez of The El Paso Times reported late last week that "active-duty soldiers" from Fort Bliss, just north of El Paso, Texas, have been deployed to support the US Border Patrol in the Arizona and New Mexico border region.

Haitian Immigration to Brazil:
PORTO VELHO, Brazil, Feb 21, 2012 (IPS): Pierre is one of the hundreds of Haitians who have come to Brazil in search of a new life and an income that makes it possible for them to help their families back home, who are still suffering from the effects of the earthquake, said Marilia Pimentel, who works as a volunteer in a group that supports immigrants. Porto Velho has become a magnet for immigrants because of the jobs offered by the nearby construction of two huge hydroelectric dams on the Madeira river, one of the main tributaries of the Amazon river, as well as the construction of bridges and the expansion of roads in the area.  The Santo Antonio hydroelectric plant, which will have a capacity to generate 3,150 megawatts, is located seven km outside of the city. It just hired 100 Haitians to work in carpentry, construction, electricity and hydraulics. But there are nearly 700 Haitians in Porto Velho, and more are arriving every day, said Geraldo Cotinguiba, an anthropologist who, like his wife Pimentel, is helping the new immigrants overcome language and cultural barriers, to facilitate their social insertion and help them find jobs.

LIMA, Peru - Authorities in the southeastern Peruvian town of Iñapari said Monday they will ask President Ollanta Humala to resolve the immigration status of 274 Haitians stranded in the area since last month. Jose Luis Aguirre, governor of the Madre de Dios region where Iñapari is located, told Efe on Monday that local residents are in no condition to keep hosting the Haitians, who are still there because they can't move on to neighboring Brazil.

GUATEMALA CITY (AP) -- A Guatemalan judge overseeing the genocide case of former dictator Efrain Rios Montt stepped down Tuesday, accepting a defense request.

TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras (AP) -- Hundreds of relatives of inmates who burned or suffocated to death when a fire raged through a Honduran prison forced their way into a morgue Monday to demand the remains of loved ones.
Related comment/story HERE and HERE.

Chile, SANTIAGO - Taxi drivers battled police Monday in the streets of Coyhaique, capital of the southern Chilean region of Aysen, amid ongoing protests over the area's high cost of living and lack of jobs.

And, last but not least, VIVA MARACATU!!

"Beware of the man who does not talk, and the dog that does not bark." Cheyenne

by maracatu on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 07:46:11 PM EST
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Blimey, Colombia looks as if things are spiraling out of control

Another great roundup, thanks

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed Feb 22nd, 2012 at 03:13:56 AM EST
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The war on drugs has been such a boon to chaos in Columbia (and elsewhere). It's too bad the governments of the Western Hemisphere are so afraid of the experiment of legalization. But even birth-control has become controversial in America -- it's hard to imagine anyone showing any leadership regarding anything so dicey as getting high.
by Andhakari on Wed Feb 22nd, 2012 at 04:35:46 AM EST
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MSNBC
Speaking in Shelby Township, MI, the former Massachusetts governor took a question about the Simpson-Bowles fiscal commission empaneled by President Obama to address the nation's deficit and debt issues. In his response, he said that addressing taxes and spending issues are essential.

"If you just cut, if all you're thinking about doing is cutting spending, as you cut spending you'll slow down the economy," he said in part of his response. "So you have to, at the same time, create pro-growth tax policies."

by gk (gk) on Wed Feb 22nd, 2012 at 03:22:50 AM EST
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They had him bailed up, but now they've bailed him. We'll see if he bails...

The district court judge judged that he will not flee, since they've seized all the assets he has confessed to owning :

Dotcom relieved to be going home - National - NZ Herald News

Prosecutor Anne Toohey, acting on behalf of the United States Government, had argued that because Dotcom was "a wealthy man'' he must have significant resources available to him and would be able to fund an escape from New Zealand.

However, Judge Nevin Dawson said there had been no new significant asset seizures since Dotcom's mansion was raided and he was arrested.

"The disposition that he is wealthy and must have more assets is not evidence.

The conditions of bail are particularly stringent :

He was granted bail on the condition that he does not use the internet and does not use a helicopter - Dotcom regularly flew in his personal helicopter in the skies north of Auckland.

He is to reside at his Coatesville property and is not to travel more than 80km from the property, unless it's an emergency.

Sportingly, they have not forbidden him from using his secret tunnel. Nor confiscated his three passports, apparently.

We'll see if he turns up for his extradition hearing on 20 August. Reminder : the FBI want him for half a billion dollars' worth of copyright fraud.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Wed Feb 22nd, 2012 at 04:15:43 AM EST
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