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by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Mar 3rd, 2012 at 12:20:56 PM EST
Outside View: U.S. factor in Russian vote

Judging by the statements of not a few U.S. politicians and journalists, the United States has a keen interest in the presidential election now under way in Russia.

Moreover, many in Washington are loath to see Vladimir Putin return to the Kremlin.

Nevertheless, for a variety of moral and practical reasons, the United States would be well-advised to avoid getting overly involved in this election.

The word "moral" sounds like an oxymoron in connection with electoral politics. A look at past and current election campaigns in the United States, particularly presidential ones, should stifle any temptation to set up U.S. elections as a shining example for other countries to follow.

Colorful, grandiose and fascinating they may be, but -- an example for others to follow?

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Mar 3rd, 2012 at 02:26:38 PM EST
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Shelling in Homs as Red Cross seeks access - Middle East - Al Jazeera English

Syrian forces have renewed their bombardment of rebellious areas of Homs, activists said, and the Red Cross was again denied access to thousands of people stranded in a district overrun by regime troops after a month-long siege.

Conditions in the western neighborhood of Bab Amr have been described as catastrophic, with new reports on Saturday of extended power outages, shortages of food and water, and no medical care for the sick and wounded.

Syrian government forces took control of the neighborhood on Thursday after rebels fled the district under the same constant bombardment that activists said killed hundreds of people since early February.

The Syrian regime has said it was fighting "armed gangs" in Bab Amr, and has vowed to "cleanse" the neighborhood.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Mar 3rd, 2012 at 02:41:15 PM EST
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Independent - Robert Fisk - The heroic myth and the uncomfortable truth of war reporting

t took a lot of courage to get into Homs; Sky News, then the BBC, then a few brave men and women who went to tell the world of the city's anguish and, in at least two cases, suffered themselves. I could only reflect this week, however, how well we got to know the name of the indomitable and wounded British photographer Paul Conroy, and yet how little we know about the 13 Syrian volunteers who were apparently killed by snipers and shellfire while rescuing him. No fault of Conroy, of course. But I wonder if we know the names of these martyrs - or whether we intend to discover their names?
The romanticism associated with "war" reporters was all too evident in the prelude to the 1991 Gulf War. All kinds of foreign journalists turned up in Saudi Arabia in military costumes. One, an American, even had camouflaged boots with leaves painted on them - even though a glance at a real desert suggests an absence of trees. Oddly, I found that out in the loneliness of that real desert, many soldiers of the genuine variety, especially American Marines, were writing diaries of their experiences, even offering them to me for publication. The reporters, it seems, wanted to be soldiers. The soldiers wanted to be reporters. This curious symbiosis is all too evident when "war" reporters talk of their "combat experience". Three years ago, at an American university, I had the pleasure of listening to three wounded US Iraqi/Afghan war veterans putting down a journalist who used this awful phrase. "Excuse me, Sir," one of them said politely. "You have not had 'combat experience'. You have had "combat exposure". That is not the same thing." The veteran understood the power of quiet contempt. He had no legs.
And who can forget the words of the Israeli journalist Amira Haas - Haaretz's reporter in the occupied West Bank, whom I often quote. She told me in Jerusalem that the foreign correspondent's job was not to be "the first witness to history" (my own pitiful definition), but to "monitor the centres of power", especially when they are going to war, and especially when they intend to do so on a bedrock of lies.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sun Mar 4th, 2012 at 05:55:31 AM EST
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Deadly bombing targets Yemen troop base - Middle East - Al Jazeera English

At least three people are known to have died in a suicide car bombing that targeted Republican Guard troops camp in Bayda, 170km from Sanaa, the Yemeni capital.

Two bombers drove a car packed with explosives into the army base on Saturday, killing themselves and a soldier, the defence ministry said.

Witnesses said the blast devastated the three-storey building.

The explosion was apparently followed by an exchange of fire between armed men and the Republican Guard troops, who are led by Ahmed Saleh, son of the former president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, who formally stepped down less than a week ago.

"The explosion was very loud and took place in Dar al-Nasr, which is a military site of the Republican Guard," said a website close to Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar, a general who defected from Saleh's side in the early days of an uprising against him last year.

"Residents of the town were frightened by the force of the blast, which was felt more than two kilometres away and damaged dozens of neighbouring houses and blew their windows out."

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Mar 3rd, 2012 at 02:41:56 PM EST
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Al-Qaeda offshoot claims Algeria attack - Africa - Al Jazeera English

An al-Qaeda splinter group has said it carried out a suicide attack on a paramilitary police base in southern Algeria which left 24 people wounded.

"We inform you that we are behind the explosion that occurred this morning at Tamanrasset," the group told the AFP news agency on Saturday.

The statement, sent just hours after the attack, was signed by the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MOJWA).

A suicide bomber drove a four-wheel drive vehicle packed with explosives into the premises of the paramilitary police base, according to the Reuters news agency.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Mar 3rd, 2012 at 02:42:35 PM EST
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Iran reports high turnout in parliament vote - Middle East - Al Jazeera English

Iran has declared more than 64 per cent of eligible voters participated in Friday's parliamentary elections, the country's first vote since the disputed presidential elections in 2009 that ignited extensive protests.

Early unofficial results reported strong wins for supporters of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran's supreme leader, over candidates close to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Mostafa Mohammad Najjar, the country's interior minister, said the counting was still in progress, but that initial results showed 64.2 per cent public participation.

"With such participation, our people delivered a hard slap to the face of the enemy," Najjar told state-run television.

No independent observers were on hand to monitor the voting or check the turnout figures.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Mar 3rd, 2012 at 02:44:03 PM EST
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Will Bibi Have Barack Over a Barrel (of Oil)? - IPS ipsnews.net
WASHINGTON, Mar 2, 2012 (IPS) - While Israeli leaders historically have enjoyed not insignificant influence with their U.S. counterparts, Prime Minister Benjamin "Bibi" Netanyahu will likely arrive at the White House next week with a little extra boost in his efforts to get President Barack Obama to toughen his already hard line against Iran.

Not only is that because the vaunted Israel lobby - whose premier organisation, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), will be holding its star-studded annual convention here beginning Sunday - has been working overtime to hype the "existential" threat posed by Tehran's nuclear programme to the Jewish state's survival.

Nor is it related only to the fact that three of the four Republican presidential candidates are repeatedly accusing Obama of being "soft" on Iran and insufficiently committed to Israel's security, thus seeking to drive a wedge between the president and Jewish voters and donors.

The extra boost on this visit is provided by growing concerns over the convergence of steadily rising oil prices - and jitters in the oil market over mounting tensions between Israel and Iran - with the November elections here.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Mar 3rd, 2012 at 02:46:39 PM EST
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