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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 Sun Mar 4th, 2012 at 12:00:32 PM EST
Ahmadinejad's faction losing in Iran election deemed a sham by most reformists

TEHRAN - Iran, under intense Western pressure over its disputed nuclear program, on Saturday declared an initial turnout of 64 per cent in a parliamentary election shunned by most reformists as a sham.

Iran's Islamic clerical leadership is eager to restore the damage to its legitimacy caused by the violent crushing of eight months of street protests after President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was re-elected in a 2009 vote his opponents said was rigged.

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who endorsed the 2009 result, has since turned sharply against Ahmadinejad. Some early results from Friday's vote suggested the divisive president's supporters were losing ground in the 290-seat parliament.

His sister, Parvin Ahmadinejad, failed to win a seat in their hometown of Garmsar, the semi-official Mehr news agency said. Elsewhere, Khamenei loyalists appeared to be doing well.



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 Sun Mar 4th, 2012 at 01:05:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In Speech, Obama Urges Diplomacy and Warns Against `Loose Talk of War' - NYTimes.com

WASHINGTON -- President Obama gave a forceful defense of his administration's commitment to Israel's security on Sunday, using a speech to a pro-Israel lobbying group to take on critics on the Republican presidential campaign trail who have called for a harder American line to rein in Iran's nuclear ambitions.

Mr. Obama, speaking before a conference of the influential American Israel Public Affairs Committee, declared that he would not tolerate a nuclear-armed Iran and would act -- militarily, if necessary -- to prevent that from happening.

"I do not have a policy of containment," Mr. Obama said, to applause from the huge crowd in the darkened, cavernous hall at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. "I have a policy to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. And as I've made clear time and again during the course of my presidency, I will not hesitate to use force when it is necessary to defend the United States and its interests."

But the president also made clear that he views diplomacy, and the policy of sanctions set in motion by the United States and Europe, as the West's best hope for getting Iran to stop short of pursuing a nuclear weapon. "Already, there is too much loose talk of war," Mr. Obama said on Sunday. "For the sake of Israel's security, America's security, and the peace and security of the world, now is not the time for bluster."



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 Sun Mar 4th, 2012 at 01:06:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC News - China military budget tops $100bn

China's official defence spending will rise by 11.2% in 2012, pushing it above $100bn (£65bn) for the first time, the government has announced.

Beijing's defence budget has risen each year for two decades to become the world's second-biggest, behind the US.

It is developing an aircraft carrier, a stealth fighter jet, and missiles that can shoot down satellites.

The US promised to bolster its presence in the region last year, in a move seen as countering China's dominance.

Washington, which spends about $740bn on defence each year, already has bases housing thousands of American troops across the region.



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 Sun Mar 4th, 2012 at 01:06:46 PM EST
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China's military budget is now nearly twice that of the UK. Personally I think this shows that we spend far too much, but I'm not a paranoid empire fantasist.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Mar 5th, 2012 at 03:12:36 AM EST
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Scores dead in Congo munitions depot blasts - Africa - Al Jazeera English

More than 100 people have been killed in a series of explosions at a munitions depot in the Republic of Congo's capital Brazzaville, the interior minister said.

"There are more than 100 dead. The injured are difficult to enumerate for the moment," Raymond Mboulou said by telephone, citing civilian and military hospital sources after a European diplomat said at least 150 people died.

Didier Boutsindi of the presidential office said untold numbers of people were trapped in a church that collapsed.

The explosions were heard across the Congo River in Kinshasa, the capital of the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo. 

The blasts, which began around 8am local time, all occurred within an hour of one another, witnesses said, but the cause of the fire was not clear. 



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 Sun Mar 4th, 2012 at 01:07:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Syrian forces renew assault on Homs - Middle East - Al Jazeera English

Syrian forces have renewed their assault on Homs, bombarding more areas of the central city, activists say, with aid agencies still unable to gain access to neighbourhoods in desperate need of relief.

Sunday's bombardment of Syria's third-largest city with about one million inhabitants came as China offered a proposal to end the violence in the country, calling for an immediate ceasefire and talks by all parties but standing firm against any intervention by outside forces.

Syrian artillery gunners also pounded the mainly rebel-held city of Rastan in the centere of the country on Sunday, monitors said.

Four children were said to be among seven civilians killed in the shelling. The victims included six family members killed when a rocket slammed into their home, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights which reported intensive shelling of Rastan since daybreak.



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 Sun Mar 4th, 2012 at 01:07:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Syria: Red Cross blocked again from Baba Amr - Sunday 4 March 2012 | World news | guardian.co.uk

* The International Committee of the Red Cross was again prevented from entering the Baba Amr area of Homs, four days after the former opposition stronghold fell to the Syrian army. Activists in Homs said the area was now deserted. The ICRC delivered aid to the nearby village of Abel, where if found a "considerable" number of families who had fled from Baba Amr.

* The UN's refugee agency said up to 2,000 people fleeing the violence in Syria were crossing the border into northern Lebanon. Some 7,000 Syrian refugees have already egistered with the UNHCR in northern Lebanon. Save the Children said some of children fleeing the violence in Syrian were showing signs of post-traumatic stress.

* An activist in Homs claimed the Syrian army has begun bombarding the al-Quosoor neighbourhood of northern Homs. The district was the scene of a number of large demonstration while Baba Amr was under siege.

* Rastan, another opposition stronghold north of Homs, has been under heavy bombardment, according to activists. Graphic video purported to show a girl who had been killed in the attack. The activist group the Local Co-ordination Committees in Syria, said five children were killed in the attack.



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 Sun Mar 4th, 2012 at 01:22:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Many Yemeni soldiers killed in fighting - Middle East - Al Jazeera English

At least 35 Yemeni soldiers have been killed in the south of the country in clashes with fighters linked to al-Qaeda, medics and officials said.

Medics at a military hospital in the southern port city of Aden said on Sunday dozens were also wounded and the number of casualties was likely to rise as a result of the fighting.

Military officials said the clashes erupted after the fighters tried to overrun an army post in Kud, south of Zinjibar, Abyan's provincial capital where the army has been battling Islamists since May.

A local official in Jaar, a nearby Islamist stronghold, said 12 fighters died in the fighting.

It was the latest in a spate of attacks against security forces since President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi took over from former president Ali Abdullah Saleh on February 25 under a Gulf Cooperation Council brokered transition accord.



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 Sun Mar 4th, 2012 at 01:08:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Romney wins Washington state's Republican caucus | McClatchy

KENNEWICK, Wash. -- Mitt Romney decisively won Washington's fiercely contested Republican caucuses Saturday, according to network projections, giving him an important boost on the eve of Super Tuesday, when 10 states vote across the nation.

The former Massachusetts governor won 36.2 percent of the vote with 77 percent of precincts reporting. Trailing were Texas Rep. Ron Paul, with 25.1 percent, Rick Santorum, former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania, with 24.4 percent, and Newt Gingrich, former speaker of the House of Representatives, with 10.8 percent.

The defeats for Paul and Santorum could be a stinging blow. Santorum Thursday told a Pasco crowd, "We can put this race on a whole other plane if Washington speaks conservatively on Saturday."

Paul, who had high hopes here, said he was running a decent second. He ran ads, drew enthusiastic crowds throughout the state and greeted voters in Puyallup Saturday. He has counted on strong showings in caucus states, where turnout is low and activists are more prominent.



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 Sun Mar 4th, 2012 at 01:08:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Rescue and Cleanups Continue in Tornado Zone, 39 Dead: Scientific American

HENRYVILLE, Ind./CRITTENDEN, Ken. (Reuters) - Rescue teams and residents combed through storm-wracked towns

to assess damage on Saturday from a chain of tornadoes that cut a 1,000-mile swath of destruction from the Midwest to the Gulf of Mexico, as the death toll crept up to at least 39 people.

The fast-moving twisters spawned by massive thunderstorms splintered blocks of homes, damaged schools and a prison, and tossed around vehicles like toys, killing 20 people in Kentucky, 14 in neighboring Indiana, three in Ohio and one in Alabama, officials said. Georgia also reported a storm-related death.

"We're not unfamiliar with Mother Nature's wrath out here in Indiana," Governor Mitch Daniels told CNN during a visit to the stricken southeast corner of the state.

"But this is about as serious as we've seen in the years since I've been in this job," he said, standing against the backdrop of the hard-hit town of Henryville, which declared a night-time curfew to prevent looting.



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 Sun Mar 4th, 2012 at 01:24:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Along Mexico border, drug taint on politicians lingers | McClatchy

MEXICO CITY -- In dribs and drabs, in Mexican news accounts and U.S. court documents, new allegations are surfacing of ties between politicians and drug lords along the border with Texas.

The accounts involving former top officials in Tamaulipas -- a muggy Gulf Coast state that shares a 230-mile border with Texas and is a major conduit for licit and illicit trade -- are testing an axiom of Mexican politics that says that even if politicians rub elbows with gangsters, prosecutors rarely succeed in charging them.

"These politicians are generally seen as untouchable, from the lowly municipal level on up," said Raul Gonzalez Cipriano, a political scientist at the Center for Research and Teaching in Economics, a Mexico City think tank.

So far this year, however, prosecutors have issued court orders barring three former governors of Tamaulipas -- all from the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI in its Spanish initials -- from leaving Mexico while an investigation of their alleged underworld ties unfolds. Moreover, an arrest in Texas last month of an accused bagman for one of the former PRI governors, Tomas Yarrington, has elevated his case into the national spotlight.



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 Sun Mar 4th, 2012 at 01:29:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I wondered the other day about the realities of Chinese politics, and then this is served by FT:

Chinese infighting: Secrets of a succession war - FT.com

Many political insiders and analysts argue that Mr Bo's primary aim in the crackdown was to discredit Wang Yang, his predecessor as Chongqing party secretary and his main rival for a spot on the politburo standing committee. Most of the targeted Chongqing business people and officials had flourished under the administration of Wang Yang (who is unrelated to Wang Lijun). The most prominent casualty of the campaign was Wang Yang's former deputy police chief, who was executed in July 2010.

Known as the "two cannons" for their outspoken politicking and rivalry, Mr Bo and Wang Yang have presented very different visions for China's future, with the latter - now party secretary of Guangdong province in the south - arguing strongly for a fresh political and economic approach.

Power, money and torture - the realities of high level politics in China appears to be pretty grim.

FT:s subscription-wall appears to still be possible to pass if one first googles the titel and then follows that link.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Mon Mar 5th, 2012 at 10:48:41 AM EST
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