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by Nomad on Mon Feb 27th, 2012 at 01:15:48 PM EST
BBC News - Syria army shells Homs and northern towns in Idlib

Syrian military forces have launched a fresh offensive on several towns in the north-western province of Idlib.

A BBC correspondent says troops have been firing artillery, mortars and anti-aircraft guns at Binnish and other towns near the city of Idlib.

The city of Homs remains under fire. Activists say 46 people were killed across Syria, many of them in Homs.

As the crackdown continues, the European Union has imposed further sanctions on Syria.

They include:

  • a freeze on the European-held assets of the Syrian central bank
  • travel bans on seven close associates of President Bashar al-Assad
  • a ban on cargo flights from Syria into the EU
  • restrictions on the trade in gold and precious metals
by Nomad on Mon Feb 27th, 2012 at 02:36:22 PM EST
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Syria says new constitution approved - Middle East - Al Jazeera English

Syrian state television has announced that 89.4 per cent of voters said "yes" to new constitution in a controversial referendum.

Syrian TV said on Monday that 57.4 per cent of eligible voters voted the day earlier and that only nine per cent said "no" to the referendum that President Bashar al-Assad's opponents and Western nations have dismissed as a sham.

The announcement of the results came just after the European Union adopted sanctions on Syria's central bank and froze the assets of several Syrian government officials.

by Nomad on Mon Feb 27th, 2012 at 02:36:55 PM EST
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French far right rallies in defence of Syria's Assad - FRANCE - FRANCE 24

French far-right leader Marine Le Pen spent much of last week carefully deflecting journalists' probes into her party's stance on Syria - only to see her plain-spoken father quash her efforts Sunday when he brazenly defended Bashar al-Assad in an interview on French radio.

Describing the Syrian conflict as a civil war, former National Front (FN) leader Jean-Marie Le Pen said that it was "not abnormal for the Syrian state to defend itself," and that Bashar al-Assad should not face criticism from countries who fought Nazi Germany during World War II.

His comments came just days after his daughter, presidential candidate Marine Le Pen, was grilled on the subject herself. Appearing in a live TV debate on state channel France 2, Le Pen junior managed to evade the issue by arguing that there weren't "only bad guys or good guys" in Syria. "I just hope Bashar al-Assad won't be replaced by Islamist fundamentalists," she concluded, firmly dodging the question.

But her 85-year-old father had no qualms in weighing in on the issue. "Bashar al-Assad is a government leader who is facing a rebellion which is both civil and military," he declared. "I don't find it abnormal that the Syrian state is defending itself."

by Nomad on Mon Feb 27th, 2012 at 02:37:35 PM EST
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Robert Fisk: The new Cold War has already started - in Syria - Robert Fisk - Commentators - The Independent

If Iran obtains nuclear weapons capability, "I think other nations across the Middle East will want to develop nuclear weapons".

Thus thundered our beloved Foreign Secretary, William Hague, in one of the silliest pronouncements he has ever made. Hague seems to spend much of his time impersonating himself, so I'm not really certain which of Mr Hague-Hague's personas made this statement.

Flaw number one, of course, is Hague-Hague's failure to point out that there already is another Middle East "nation" that has, in fact, several hundred nuclear weapons along with the missiles to fire them. It's called Israel. But blow me down, Hague-Hague didn't mention the fact. Didn't he know? Of course, he did. What he was trying to say, you see, was that if Iran persisted in producing a nuclear weapon, Arab states - Muslim states - would want to acquire one. And that would never do. The idea, of course, that Iran might be pursuing nuclear weapons because Israel already possesses them, did not occur to him.

Now as a nation that sells billions of pounds worth of military hardware to Gulf Arab nations - on the basis that they can then defend themselves from Iran's non-existent plans to invade them - Britain is really not in a position to warn anyone of arms proliferation in the region. I've been to the Gulf arms fairs where the Brits show alarming films of an "enemy" nation threatening the Arabs - Iran, of course - and the need for these Arab chappies to buy even more kit from British Aerospace and the rest of our merchants of death.

by Nomad on Mon Feb 27th, 2012 at 02:40:51 PM EST
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Britain : Hypocrisy is our primary export

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Feb 28th, 2012 at 03:10:54 AM EST
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They say it's rather a profitable industry.

The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt št gmail dotcom) on Tue Feb 28th, 2012 at 07:13:38 AM EST
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allAfrica.com: Senegal: Nation Looks Set for Second Round in Presidential Elections

Unofficial results suggest that Senegal's presidential election will go to a second round, as it seems unlikely that any candidate has garnered the required 50 per cent of votes plus one.

85 year old President Abdoulaye Wade is seeking a disputed third term in office after circumventing a two-term limit he introduced into the constitution.

On Sunday, Wade was greeted with boos after casting his vote and he angrily pushed one of his bodyguards aside as he left hastily without speaking to waiting media.

Former prime minister Macky Sall, who was once Wade's protégé, appears to be doing well in unofficial results trickling in from polling stations.

These results are being released on public television and websites, but the electoral commission will start announcing official results on Tuesday and must give a final result on Friday.

If a second round is held, it is likely to take place between 18 March and 01 April.

by Nomad on Mon Feb 27th, 2012 at 02:41:18 PM EST
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Inside Yemen's revolution, cracks appear as Saleh leaves - The Washington Post

The youth activists who spearheaded the uprising that ended President Ali Abdullah Saleh's 33-year rule are now grappling with internal divisions, as politics and competing visions weaken one of the Arab world's most dynamic revolts of the past year.

In Change Square, the nexus of the revolution, protesters have splintered into politically aligned groups, each determined to hold sway over the sprawling tented encampment near Sanaa University. The demonstrations have grown smaller as opposition parties take control, and clashes have erupted over who controls the microphones and stage.

Independent activist leaders say they were manipulated by the opposition parties, which agreed to a deal with the government last year and are now sharing power with Saleh's ruling party. Although Saleh has formally stepped down, he appears determined to remain influential through his powerful relatives and allies.

The activists say they won't leave Change Square until the remnants of Saleh's regime are gone and that they will press the new unity government to enact far-reaching reform. But a sense of frustration fills their discussions.

by Nomad on Mon Feb 27th, 2012 at 02:42:10 PM EST
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BBC News - Ship's anchor slows down East African web connection

East Africa's high-speed internet access has been severely disrupted after a ship dropped its anchor onto fibre-optic cables off Kenya's coast.

The ship was waiting to enter Mombasa - one of Africa's busiest ports - when it anchored in a restricted area.

It could take up to 14 days to repair, cable owners The East African Marine Systems (Teams) told the BBC.

This is one of three undersea cables to have arrived in the region since 2009, delivering faster internet access.

by Nomad on Mon Feb 27th, 2012 at 02:44:02 PM EST
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Out of the public eye, China cracks down on another protesting village | McClatchy

The old woman walked over to the door and peeked out from behind a blue curtain, looking slowly from one side of the street to other. She muttered to those huddled in the room behind her, "the police will come."

The men, who'd been talking about officials stealing their land in Panhe, fell quiet. They knew what a visit would mean -- threats, beatings and then getting dragged off by the police.

In December, a high-profile standoff between residents and Communist Party bosses in a fishing village named Wukan, about 450 miles southwest of Panhe, ended peacefully. That case had some observers wondering if Chinese officials had changed the way they dealt with the intertwined problems of land rights and corruption.

What happened here suggests otherwise.

Earlier this month, people in Panhe marched to protest what they said was the theft by local leaders of communal lands. The complaints were met by a crackdown. Police and plainclothes security men hauled away at least 30 people. Villagers said the roundup targeted the protest organizers they'd selected to negotiate with the government.

"The officials took away all of the young people who were getting on the Internet," said one farmer, a 50-year-old man who like many interviewed asked that his name not be used for fear of arrest.

Panhe has become another in a long line of Chinese villages where locals say that corrupt officials and well-connected businessmen conspired to steal land or otherwise rob the poor.

by Nomad on Mon Feb 27th, 2012 at 02:44:41 PM EST
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The burning rage: Karzai pleads for calm as Koran fury spreads - Asia - World - The Independent

The tinderbox situation in Afghanistan threatened to ignite yesterday as fresh violence hit the country, and it emerged that a former policeman suspected of killing two US Nato officers in Kabul's interior ministry on Saturday spent two months at a religious school in neighbouring Pakistan before the attack.

Protests continued in Afghan cities and spread to Pakistan yesterday after the US admitted that copies of the Koran were accidentally burned by US forces at Bagram airbase.

The worst trouble was in Kunduz province, where a peaceful rally turned violent as marchers tried to enter the district's largest city.

Amanuddin Quriashi, the district administrator, said some in the crowd fired at police and threw grenades at a US base on the city's outskirts. Seven Nato troops were wounded and one protester died when soldiers fired back from the US base. Another protester was killed by Afghan police.

The renewed attacks on Western forces came as the Afghan interior ministry said one of its employees was suspected of killing the two US officers on Saturday.

by Nomad on Mon Feb 27th, 2012 at 02:46:30 PM EST
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Republican presidential race: what next for the candidates? | World news | The Guardian
Michigan is one challenger's boyhood home state - a loss there could create panic in the party about who can take on Obama

Mitt Romney

Michigan is close to make-or-break for Romney. The least that is expected of any candidate is to hold on to their home state. Romney was brought up and went to school near Detroit and his father was a popular governor of the state.

If he cannot hold it, questions will be asked among senior Republicans about whether he is a credible challenger to Barack Obama in November. To win a general election, a candidate should be able to win states dominated by blue-collar workers such as Michigan.

Defeat in Michigan would create panic in the Republican party and provoke frenzied speculation about whether, even at this late stage, an alternative candidate could come forward. This would undermine Romney and contribute to the sense of disarray in the party.

Arizona is less important symbolically than Michigan and there has been little campaigning there. It is one that Romney should win, not least because it has a large Mormon population that will vote almost as a bloc for him.

by Nomad on Mon Feb 27th, 2012 at 02:49:12 PM EST
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Colombia Reports: Colombia's largest rebel group FARC announced Sunday its intention to release all ten captive members of the security forces and to abandon kidnapping civilians for extortion purposes.
More HERE; Plus Boz ties this in with Chavez's health.

Honduras Culture and Politics: Leticia Salomon, a sociologist at UNAH, provided some of the most rapid and most insightful analyses of the 2009 coup...  Now Diego Jimenez, writing in Costa Rica's La Nación, gives us Salomon's response to the prison fire in Comayagua. (...) She characterizes the situation as one in which the police "don't just cover for those that commit crimes, rather they are part of the organized bands" who commit the crimes; a system biased toward the rich, where the entire justice system is "deficient", something far exceeding even the excesses of past political struggle or repression: a total breakdown, in particular, without accountability for increasing funding justified for "security".

Stratfor on President Chavez's Health:
The Pan-American Post {scroll down} Security think tank Stratfor has seemingly faced another attack from hackers, with WikiLeaks publishing what they say is a set of confidential emails between members of the organization. One interesting exchange relates to Chavez's health, saying that sources had said his cancer had spread to the lymph nodes.
Setty's Notebook: So, maybe Israel has been manipulating Chavez coverage... I have a personal interest in this story. When I worked in Caracas, Stratfor started calling for info... GO READ IT.

The Guardian: A demonstration in Bolivia's capital La Paz turns violent as disabled protesters clash with police after marching more than 1,000 miles for higher disability allowances.
Cambio {Editorial}: A mobilization of disabled people was infiltrated by people from political sectors. The mobilization of people with disabilities (the disabled), who arrived in the city of La Paz, was "contaminated" with the presence of infiltrators of political groups who committed at least six actions that can be typified in both the Criminal Code as in the Civil Code. All these people are adults, therefore, under the Civil Code, are of legal capacity and responsible for their behavior. According to the legal system only minors can be declared incapable (with some exceptions) declared the injunctions.

MercoPress: Spain's Repsol and China's Sinopec have made an oil discovery offshore Brazil that could be one of the biggest so far in the area and that boosted confidence that across in Africa, Angola's deepwater reserves may be abundant too

"Beware of the man who does not talk, and the dog that does not bark." Cheyenne
by maracatu on Mon Feb 27th, 2012 at 07:35:03 PM EST
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Oops, missed one:
AS/COA: As May presidential elections approach, a proposed naval base in the Dominican Republic has much of the country up in arms. The U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) will finance the construction of a naval base and dock on Saona Island, investing $1.5 million to curb drug trafficking and migrant smuggling. The project is slated to begin in March with contruction lasting nine months.

"Beware of the man who does not talk, and the dog that does not bark." Cheyenne
by maracatu on Mon Feb 27th, 2012 at 07:48:58 PM EST
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CNN (international edition): Second student dies from Ohio school shooting
Russell King Jr., 17, was declared brain dead early Tuesday, according to the medical examiner's office. He was shot at Chardon High School on Monday, it said.

Student Daniel Parmertor died on Monday. Three other students were wounded in the shooting.

Authorities have yet to name the teen shooter arrested in the Monday morning attack. But many students, some of whom said they were steps away from the suspect when the bullets flew, described the shooter as a withdrawn boy named T.J. Lane.

There are three stories about the euro crisis: the Republican story, the German story, and the truth. -- Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Feb 28th, 2012 at 09:41:50 AM EST
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