Sunday, February 28, 2010

Chile quake 'affects two million'





Source: Al Jazeera
http://english.aljazeera.net/news/americas/2010/02/20102285432775220.html




Two million people have been affected by the massive earthquake that struck central Chile, Michelle Bachelet, the outgoing president, has said.


One of the world's most powerful earthquakes in a century rocked the nation early on Saturday, killing more than 300 people as it toppled buildings and triggered tsunami warnings across the Pacific Ocean.

Chileans fearful of aftershocks camped outside on Sunday in towns shattered by the earthquake, as officials struggled to grasp the scale of the damage to the country's transport, energy and housing infrastructure.


The 8.8-magnitude earthquaketriggered a tsunami that killed at least four people on Chile's Juan Fernandez islands and caused serious damage to the port town of Talcahuano.

In a national address on television, Bachelet said 1.5 million people had been affected by the earthquake, while officials in her administration said 500,000 homes were severely damaged.

Residents trapped

Meanwhile, at least 100 people were feared trapped inside the rubble of a collapsed building in Concepcion more than 34 hours after the quake struck.

Firefighters and rescue workers used drills and shovels on Sunday to search for survivors amidst the rubble.

"Time is of the essence to save the people inside this building," Jacqueline van Rysselberghe, the city's mayor, said.

Van Rysselberghe also criticised the national government for what she said was a slow response to the quake.

"It's a shame that rescue teams could not come to Concepcion yesterday."


Hours after the earthquake, smaller-than-expected tsunami waves hit Hawaii and the US Pacific Coast. There were no immediate reports of damage and a tsunami warning for Hawaii was soon lifted.


Kevin McCue, president of the Australian Earthquake Engineering Society, told Al Jazeera: "I'm surprised it produced such a small tsunami as a result. But everyone is still on alert right across the Pacific."

Japan issued a warning on Sunday for a tsunami of 10ft or higher and advised coastal residents to evacuate to higher ground.

Daunting task


Bachelet has declared a "state of catastrophe",saying that officials were still trying to evaluate the "enormous quantity of damage."

The earthquake has raised a daunting first challenge for Sebastian Pinera, who was elected Chile's president in January and who takes office in two weeks.


"Unfortunately, Chile is a country of catastrophes," Pinera said.

He said the disaster heavily damaged many of the country's roads, airports and ports.


At least 214 people were killed and 15 were missing as of Saturday evening.

While that remained the official estimate, Carmen Fernandez, head of the National Emergency Agency, said later: "We think the real figure tops 300. And we believe this will continue to grow."

Local radio reported 100 people were missing in a collapsed building in Concepcion, one of Chile's largest cities with around 670,000 inhabitants.

Aid organisations and government officials in Britain and the US have offered to help Chileans in their efforts to rebuild their country.

Barack Obama, the US president, has said the US has resources in position to deploy should the Chilean government ask for help following the earthquake.


Buildings ablaze


Firefighters rushed to put out fires, and most of the buildings in the city centre were destroyed.

Chilean TV showed images of collapsed homes in Concepcion, a large building completely engulfed in flames and injured people lying in the streets or on stretchers.

Some residents looted pharmacies and a collapsed grain silo, hauling off bags of wheat, television images showed.

More than 200 inmates in a prison near Concepcion escaped when walls crumbled, Terra Networks reported.

It also reported that phone lines were either down or busy, making confirmation of damage difficult elsewhere, especially further south towards the epicentre.

The US Geological Survey (USGS) said the earthquake struck 92km northeast of Concepcion at a depth of 63km at 3:34am local time (06:43 GMT) on Saturday.


The earthquake shook buildings in Buenos Aires, Argentina's capital, and was felt as far away as Sao Paulo in Brazil - 1,800 miles to the east.


Dozens of aftershocks


In the capital of Santiago, 320km northeast of the epicentre, three hospitals collapsed while, south of the city, dozen more suffered significant damage, a health official said.

More than 60 aftershocks of magnitude 5 or greater were reported in the hours after the quake.


An earthquake also hit northern Argentina, causing a wall to collapse in Salta, killing an eight-year-old boy and injuring two of his friends, police said.


The USGS said the magnitude-6.3 temblor was a separate, "triggered earthquake" caused by ground waves from the Chilean quake.

In 1960, Chile was hit by the world's biggest earthquake since records dating back to 1900, USGS data shows.

The 9.5 magnitude quake devastated the south-central city of Valdivia, killing 1,655 people and sending a tsunami which battered Easter Island 3,700km off Chile's Pacific seaboard and continued as far as Hawaii, Japan and the Philippines.

It is Time For Obama to meet Ahmadinejad





By: Marwan Bishara - Al Jazeera's senior political analyst.

Source: Al Jazeera

http://blogs.aljazeera.net/imperium/2010/02/27/it-time-obama-meet-ahmadinejad

The two-day visit by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Iranian president, to Syria and his warm meetings with his Syrian counterpart as well as with the leaders of the Lebanese Hezbollah and Palestinian Hamas have ruffled many feathers in the US, Europe and Israel.

Although they said much about the future of the region, including the end of the 'Zionist regime', the anti-Israeli gathering has sent a primarily strategic not polemical message: We stand united - an attack on one of us is an attack on all.

A deterrent message to both Israel and the US, it comes against the backdrop of increased war speculation in Israel and mounting pressures to pass a new round of tougher sanctions against Iran.

It is also a wake up call for US diplomats who reckoned that Washington's rapprochement with Damascus, including the reopening of its embassy, should lead to a severing, or at least cooling, of Syrian relations with Tehran.

But while such public posturing has not deterred Israel or worried Washington in the past, it does complicate attempts to isolate Iran or its allies.

Diplomatic assault, military preparations

Since the White House shifted its Iran strategy from accommodation to confrontation, Washington's coercive diplomacy has been going at full speed.

The Obama administration has been lobbying the Middle East and the world's influential capitals in the hope of isolating Iran and passing another UN Security Council resolution that would include biting sanctions against Tehran.
Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, escalated US rhetoric against the Iranian regime during a visit to the Gulf where she warned of a Revolutionary Guards takeover and the militarisation of the Iranian government.

General Petraeus made a similar visit to the Gulf and Admiral Mike Mullen, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, travelled to Russia, followed by Binyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, to convince Moscow to abandon Iran.

However, Washington seems frustrated by either the lack of positive response or the slow pace of international reaction to Tehran's persistence in enriching uranium and expanding its nuclear and missile programme.

Russian hesitance, Chinese objection

Russia seems to have softened its rejection of the US strategy of sanctions, but has not agreed to them either. Moscow thinks it is too early to carry out such escalatory actions when the issue is still being discussed at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

If and when such sanctions come to be voted on at the UN Security Council, Russia insists that they should be focused solely on the nuclear programme, not the country or its regime which Moscow does not consider to be a dictatorship.

Beijing is as sceptical of Washington's motives and more reluctant than Moscow to slap Iran with tough new sanctions.

Moscow's approach is defined primarily by security considerations, especially the loss of whatever strategic leverage it has with Tehran and the probable escalation on its southern borders. China's thinking, however, is molded on geo-economics grounds, particularly the prospect of losing Iran as an important energy supplier and economic partner.

The Chinese and Russian leadership are both uneasy with the new American escalation in the Islamic world after US entanglements in Afghanistan and Iraq.

They worry that the political and security overspill from widening the landscape of confrontation in the Muslim world could end up affecting their substantial Muslim minorities and eventually their internal stability.

Washington's attempt to make up for the loss of Iran's energy supply (through Saudi Arabia?), and its persistent warning to Russia about the alternative to sanctions (war!) do not seem to have, yet, convinced the two key veto carrying members of the UN Security Council to come on board.

Neither side believes sanctions will bring a solution to the impasse with Iran and both consider protracted geopolitical tensions with Iran to be terribly destabilising.

Anxious Saudi, aggressive Israel

Regionally, the two relevant powers, Saudi Arabia (to a far less extent, Egypt) and Israel are keen to stop Iran's nuclear programme and to curtail Tehran's influence.

However, as Israel nudges its US patron to move speedily towards imposing new tough sanctions and to prepare for war, Riyadh is worried about a new protracted American strategy and insists on a speedier end to the tensions with Tehran.

The Gulf states are the first to be affected by long-term tensions or military escalation between the US and Iran.

Recent US naval deployments in the Gulf and its sales of sophisticated weapons to Gulf countries have not calmed their fears that an escalation of those tensions could bring down their economies and affect their security.

The same could apply to other parts of the 'Greater Middle East' such as Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon and Palestine which could be affected by an escalation between the US and Iran.

US bold, Iran confident

Who will blink first is the whole point of this dangerous diplomatic exercise.

Iran reckons that China and Russia will not sacrifice their relations with Iran and will object to another American escalation in the Middle East. They also realise that new punitive measures will not suffice to curtail Tehran's programme.

For its part, the Obama administration calculates that Chinese/Russian cooperation is indispensable, but that it will take substantial political capital and major quid pro quo for them to come on board.

If Iran continues to defy Washington publicly and successfully, the political price demanded by Russia and China could only increase, all of which puts extra pressure on Washington to act promptly.

But what can the Obama administration offer its fellow UN Security Council members that is worthy of isolating Iran, aside from threatening the alternative - war?

And there is no doubt that war will be either horribly destructive or terribly protracted. Either way, Washington has the most to lose, not Moscow or Beijing.

All of which should send the Obama administration back to the drawing board. Has President Obama truly exhausted the diplomatic track before the US attends to sanctions or war?

In other words, has the Obama administration truly extended a hand or unclenched its fist for the sake of a peaceful resolution to the Iranian Middle East impasse?

The answer is an unequivocal NO.
It is time to remind Barack Obama of his willingness as a candidate to meet with his Iranian counterpart as president if that can protect US interests, and remind President Ahmadinejad of his welcoming of the extended US hand for peace last spring.
Well Mr Presidents, it is time.

I shall discuss the context, nature and implications for such a breakthrough next ... as promised.

To be continued ...

Israeli forces raid Al-Aqsa Mosque





Source: PressTV
http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=119685§ionid=351020201


Israeli forces have raided Al-Aqsa holy compound in Jerusalem Al-Quds to crackdown on a number of Palestinian protesters in the area.

Clashes erupted in the holy complex after the Israeli forces raided the area to push out dozens of Palestinian protestors in the mosque ground on Sunday, a Press TV correspondent reported.

Police also closed the roads into the Old City of Al-Quds in the occupied part of the city, preventing entry to all Palestinians under the age of 50.

Palestinian protesters responded to the attack by throwing stones. One Palestinian was arrested in the clashes.

The demonstrators reportedly spent the night at the mosque following an announcement by the Israeli settlers to enter the holy site to celebrate the Jewish Holiday of Purim.

Israel occupied East Al-Quds during a 1967 aggression and later annexed it. The status of the city is among the thorniest issues of the so-called peace process with the Palestinians, underscoring the reality that any Palestinian state should include the city as its capital.

Israeli police storm Jerusalem site





Source: Al Jazeera
http://english.aljazeera.net/news/middleeast/2010/02/201022893324135262.html


At least six Palestinians have reportedly been injured after Israeli police forces stormed a holy site in Jerusalem to disperse Muslim worshippers.

Palestinian sources said that Israeli forces fired rubber bullets and tear gas at the worshippers holding protests in the Al-Aqsa mosque compound on Sunday.

Israel said the situation was calm and denied that rubber bullets had been fired.

Micky Rosenfeld, the Israeli police spokesman, said that the police force dispersed about 20 masked protesters who were inside the compound.

The police said protesters had thrown stones at visitors to the complex.

The area, known to Muslims as the Haram al-Sharif, or the Noble Sanctuary, and to Jews as the Temple Mount, has been a frequent flashpoint for conflicts before, with even low-level scuffles escalating into drawn-out battles.

Sherine Tadros, reporting for Al Jazeera from Jerusalem on Sunday, said: "This was all sparked early this morning when - according to the Israeli police - there was a group of tourists entering the Al-Aqsa compound in the Old City.

"They were pelted with rocks by the Palestinian demonstrators [who] decided to keep on with their resistance to the entry of these tourists into the Haram compound.

"That sparked clashes outside and near the area, which has resulted in an escalation ... outside the walls of the Old City."

Reporting later from the scene, our correspondent said: "There's a heavy police presence but it does seem calm now."

A visit to the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in 2000 by Ariel Sharon, then an Israeli opposition leader and later prime minister, is blamed for igniting deadly clashes that escalated into the popular Palestinian uprising known as Al-Aqsa Intifada.

ElBaradei: Youth can change undemocratic Egypt





Source: PressTV
http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=119687§ionid=351020502


Former UN nuclear watchdog chief Mohamed ElBaradei, a potential candidate for presidency in Egypt, says the country will only change through the young, report says.

"If Egypt were going to change, it is going to change through the young people," he told Reuters.

"I believe the current system is not free and fair, and, whoever would run under the current system, I would make it very clear that this is not democracy as it should be," he added in the report published Saturday.

ElBaradei said that he would run for 2011 presidency "only if people coalesce around me."

The 67-year-old former International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) director, said that the advocacy of the so-called 'silent majority' held the key to success for his coalition of opposition parties in the next presidential race.

"The key is the silent majority of the Egyptians, and if the silent majority subscribes to this National Front. I think that will make a very big difference," he noted.

"I have tried to make the connection between economic and social development and political reform. If you move into a democratic system everything else will fall into place," he went on to say.

"It is going to take a long time to switch Egypt into a democracy," ElBaradei said in the interview, holding that many Egyptians were "intimidated" against speaking their minds.

Egypt's current President Hosni Mubarak has been in power for around 30 years.

Larijani: US should be accountable over Rigi





Source: PressTV
http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=119689§ionid=351020101


The Obama administration should address concerns raised after confessions made by Abdolmalek Rigi revealing Washington's role in unrest inside Iran, the country's Majlis speaker says.

"Rigi's confessions clearly disclose a close association between Jundallah, the US and NATO," Iran's Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani said.

Abdolmalek Rigi, ringleader of the Pakistan-based terrorist group of Jundallah, was captured on Tuesday while on a flight from Dubai to Kyrgyzstan.

Speaking at Sunday's open session, Larijani called on "the US president and his administration" to address Iran's concerns on the issue.

Iran's most wanted man on Thursday confessed to offers of unlimited support by the US spy agency, the CIA.

In a televised confession Rigi said that in a Dubai meeting with CIA agents, he was promised a military base anywhere near the Iranian border equipped with weaponry and training facilities.

Rigi reportedly was to meet a top US intelligence official in the US military base of Manas in Kyrgyzstan to work the details of the support US will provide for his group.

The terrorist leader emphasized that the US operatives insisted in their meetings with him that Iran is their primary focus in the region, even more important than al-Qaeda and the Taliban.

According to Rigi's confessions CIA agents also explained to him that since a US military attack on Iran would be very difficult, they intend to support all anti-Iran groups that have the capability of waging war inside Iran and to destabilize the country.

In one of its deadliest attacks armed militants on March 25, 2006, shut down the Bam-Kerman highway in southeast Iran and opened fire on passing cars, killing 22 civilians and wounding six.

Jundallah claimed responsibility for the attack and provided some Arab TV channels with video footage of the brutal killing.

Militants of the Jundallah ring regularly cross over into Iran from their hideouts in neighboring Pakistan to harass, kidnap or attack civilians and police officers.

Sistan-Baluchestan has been the target of terrorist operations by the Pakistan-based terrorist organization, which is also suspected of being affiliated with al-Qaeda.

Citing US and Pakistani intelligence sources, ABC news in 2007, reported that the terrorist group "has been secretly encouraged and advised by American officials" to destabilize the government in Iran.

In another report in July, investigative journalist Seymour Hersh revealed that US congressional leaders secretly agreed last year to former president George W. Bush's $400-million funding request for a major escalation in covert operations in Iran.

Under the ruling, the US can arm and fund terrorist groups such as the Mujahedin-e Khalq Organization (MKO) and Jundallah militants.

Dubai calls for Netanyahu prosecution over terror












Source: PressTV
http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=119693&sectionid=351020202

Dubai police say Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu must be prosecuted should it be determined that the regime had been behind the assassination of Hamas commander Mahmoud al-Mabhouh.

The emirates' police Chief Gen. Dhahi Khalfan Tamim said Sunday that the world will "witness significant steps in the prosecution of criminals" who masterminded the assassination of al-Mabhouh in his hotel room last month.

The general said the investigation is internationally underway to identify the criminals who were behind the operation.

Khalfan assured that the Israeli prime minister and Mossad Chief Meir Dagan "will be together at the head of an international wanted list" should it be determined that the regime was behind the terror operation.

He had formerly said that Dubai police were in possession of dozens of items of incriminating evidence against the terror squad which attest to Mossad's involvement in the operation.

The police released photos and information of 26 suspects in the terror, most of them European passport holders, saying they were Mossad agents carrying fake documents.

Israeli and European media last week reported that Netanyahu had authorized the assassination of the Hamas commander in a meeting with Mossad's chief in early January in Tel Aviv.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Scores killed in Chile earthquake




Source: Al Jazeera
http://english.aljazeera.net/news/americas/2010/02/201022774452701256.html

A massive earthquake has struck Chile, causing the deaths of at least 78 people and triggering tsunami warnings for across the Pacific ocean.

The 8.8-magnitude earthquake struck early on Saturday near Concepcion, Chile's second largest city.

The earthquake struck 92km northeast of Concepcion at a depth of 63km at 3:34am local time (06:43 GMT).

The quake, which lasted for one minute, damaged buildings and caused blackouts as far away as Santiago, 320km northeast of the epicentre.

Michelle Bachelet, the outgoing president, has declared a "state of catastrophe" and warned that more deaths were possible.

"I want to call on all the people of Chile to remain calm ... There have been some aftershocks, but so far our national organisations are still up and running," she said.


Bachelet also announced the partial evacuation of Easter Island, more than 3,000km away, fearing that it could hit by a tsunami.


Tsunami threat


Two ships carrying aid have been dispatched to Robinson Crusoe Island, part of the Juan Fernandez Archipelago, which has already been hit by huge waves triggered by the earthquake.


"Sea level readings indicate a tsunami was generated. It may have been destructive along coasts near the earthquake epicentre and could also be a threat to more distant coasts," the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre said.

Warnings were issued for across the Pacific from Latine AMerica to the Pacific Rim. It specifically warned the US isalnds of Hawaii could be hit by waves of up to 4.8 metres from about 21:00 GMT.


"Urgent action should be taken to protect lives and property," the centre said in a bulletin. "All shores are at risk no matter which direction they face."


The US west coast tsunami warning centre said it did not expect a tsunami along the west of the US or Canada but was continuing to monitor the situation.


A national emergency official told local radio the Chilean government was evaluating damage in and around Concepcion.


Chilean TV showed images of collapsed homes, a large building completely engulfed in flames and injured people lying in the streets or on stretchers.

It reported that the earthquake had destroyed many roads, making it impossible for vehicles to get through. Electricity and water supplies had been cut.

Phone lines were either down or busy, making confirmation of damage difficult elsewhere, especially further south towards the epicentre.


According to a 2002 census, Concepcion is one of the largest cities in Chile with a population of around 670,000.


'Major seismic event'


The earthquake's magnitude was reported at 8.3 and 8.5, then fixed by the US Geological Survey (USGS) at 8.8, the country's largest in 25 years. The quake was felt in Argentina as well.

The US centre also recorded eight aftershocks, the largest measuring 6.9 magnitude at 08:01 GMT.


Kevin McCue, president of the Australian Earthquake Engineering Society, told Al Jazeera: "An earthquake of this size occurs one every ten years. This quake would have ruptured the earth's surface for about 800km, which is a very long fault line to produce a tsunami.

"I'm surprised it produced such a small tsunami as a result. But everyone is still on alert right across the Pacific."

Randy Baldwin, a geophysicist with the USGS National Earthquake Information Centre, told Al Jazeera an earthquake of this size has the potential to devastate the region.

"This is a significant earthquake with the force to cause significant damage in this region. It is a major seismic event," he said.

In 1960, Chile was hit by the world's biggest earthquake since records dating back to 1900, USGS data shows.

The 9.5 magnitude quake devastated the south-central city of Valdivia, killing 1,655 people and sending a tsunami which battered Easter Island 3,700km off Chile's Pacific seaboard and continued as far as Hawaii, Japan and the Philippines.

Strong quake hits southern Japan





Source: Al Jazeera
http://english.aljazeera.net/news/asia-pacific/2010/02/20102262195240553.html


A strong earthquake has hit Japan's southern Okinawa island, prompting a tsunami warning for waves of up to two metres in some areas to be issued, but later withdrawn.

Japan’s Meteorological Agency said that the 6.9 quake occurred off the coast of the island of Okinawa at a depth of 10km at 5.31am on Saturday (2031 GMT on Friday).

The US Geological Survey said the earthquake had a 7.3 magnitude.

Noritomi Kikuzato, an Okinawa prefectural police official, said there were no reports of injuries or major damage.

Seiboku Sueyoshi, an official in Naha city, southern Okinawa, said: "First there was a strong vertical shake, then sideways. The strong quake lasted for about 10 seconds."

Small waves of around 10cms were recorded in southern areas of Okinawa island, Japan’s Meteorological Agency said, adding that additional minor surges of the sea level may still be seen near the island.

'Big one' feared

Earthquakes are common in Japan, one of the world's most seismically active areas.

The country accounts for about 20 per cent of the world's earthquakes of magnitude 6 or greater.

Geologists warn that Japan is overdue for a massive and potentially devastating earthquake.

They point to an 87 per cent chance that the "Big One" - a magnitude-eight earthquake or worse - will strike the greater Tokyo region, home to around 35 million people, within the next 30 years.

The last time a massive earthquake struck Tokyo was in 1923, when the Great Kanto Earthquake claimed more than 140,000 lives, many of them in fires.

In October 2004, an earthquake with a magnitude of 6.8 struck the Niigata region in northern Japan, killing 65 people and injuring more than 3,000.

That was the deadliest quake since a magnitude 7.3 tremor hit the city of Kobe in 1995, killing more than 6,400.

UN pushes Gaza war probes






Source: Al Jazeera
http://english.aljazeera.net/news/americas/2010/02/2010226165659389911.html


The UN General Assembly has overwhelmingly approved a resolution renewing a demand that the Palestinians and Israelis conduct "independent, credible" investigations into alleged war crimes during Israel's war on Gaza in December 2008.
The vote in the 192-member body in New York on Friday saw 98 countries vote in favor of the resolution, seven against, 31 abstaining and 56 refusing to vote.
The non-binding resolution, sponsored by the Palestinian delegation along with several Arab and African countries, is similar to a resolution passed by the assembly in November.
It again calls on the Israelis and the Palestinians "to conduct investigations that are independent, credible and in conformity with international standards".
The vote gives Israel and the Palestinians an additional five months to undertake their investigations, the two sides having been given an initial three months following the previous vote in November.
The latest resolution asks Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary general, to report back to the assembly "within a period of five months on the implementation of the present resolution, with a view to the consideration of further action, if necessary, by the relevant UN organs and bodies, including the Security Council".
Those voting against the resolution included Israel, Canada, Nauru, Panama, Micronesia, Macedonia and the United States.
No EU member voted against the text, with some voting yes and others abstaining.
Goldstone removal
In the wake of the 22-day Israeli onslaught on Gaza, a UN panel accused mainly Israel, but also Hamas, the de facto rulers of the Palestinian territory, of war crimes and possible crimes against humanity.
About 1,400 Palestinians and 13 Israelis were killed during the Israeli military attack.
A key finding of the UN report, headed by Richard Goldstone, a South African judge, was that Israel used disproportionate force in response to rocket attacks by Gaza-based fighters and failed to take adequate measures to protect civilians during its onslaught.
In the report, published in September last year, Goldstone recommended that both sides face possible prosecution before the International Criminal Court in The Hague if they failed to conduct credible, independent investigations within six months.
Cath Turner, Al Jazeera's correspondent at the UN, said that the text of Friday's resolution had not contained the word Goldstone within it.
She said: "Australia ... made mention of this during its address, saying that it appreciated the efforts made by the Arab countries to modify the language, which included the deletion of the word Goldstone.
Turner said that any mention of the Goldstone report had now become "politically loaded".
"[The report] has so much connotations of conflict and dispute, it has been seen, essentially, as a report damning Israel for its actions on the war on Gaza.
"So the removal of Goldstone did affect the vote for some of those countries and it was noted," she said.
'Substantive report'

Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian observer to the UN, expressed hope that the Palestinian side will be able to submit "a substantive report" within the next five months.
"If the Israelis continue to refuse an independent probe, they will then be isolated and this may pave the way for pressure on the Security Council to act," he said.
Israel, in a recent report on the allegations, denied violating international law, but admitted "tragic results" due to the "complexity and scale" of conducting a military operation in a heavily populated area.
It also said that two Israeli senior officers, a brigadier general and a colonel, had been disciplined for the firing of white phosphorus shells towards a UN compound.
A similar report from the Palestinian side said a commission of five well-known judges and legal experts had been set up to look into allegations of war crimes on its side during the conflict.

Russia agrees to supply Mi-24 helicopters to Lebanon




Source: PressTV
http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=119618§ionid=351020203


Russian authorities have agreed to supply 10 Mi-24 advanced military helicopters to Lebanon instead of 10 MiG-29 fighter jets they had previously pledged to provide.

According to a report published by al-Nahar news website, the decision was taken after Lebanese President Michel Sleiman asked to receive the state of the art military choppers and the advanced missiles they carry in place of the Russian-made warplanes.

President Michel Sleiman returned Friday afternoon to Beirut concluding a 2-day official visit to Moscow, the first ever visit by a Lebanese head of state to Russia.

On Thursday, Sleiman met with his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev and the two signed a memorandum on military cooperation.

The Russian move is seen as a slap to the United States over its longstanding military relationship with Lebanon. American officials had occasionally intervened in the past when other countries offered to supply weapons.

Lebanon's air force consists of only a few 1950s-era jets and a small number of Vietnam War-era helicopters. The MiG-29, often compared to the American F-16 fighter, is vastly more powerful than anything Washington was considering providing to Lebanon. The most recent Pentagon offer, in terms of air power, is a Cessna Caravan, a single-engine prop plane.

UN, Russia slam Israel heritage scheme




Source: PressTV
http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=119579§ionid=351020202


The UN and Russia join world symphony slamming Israel's decision to include the West Bank holy sites in its national heritage list.

"We have repeatedly said that we are categorically against any steps and actions that foreshadow the outcome of negotiations on a final Palestinian-Israeli settlement, and which cannot but hamper efforts contributing to the resumption of dialogue between Palestinians and Israelis," Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Andrei Nesterenko said Friday.

Israel's decision to include the Ibrahimi Mosque in al-Khalil and the Bilal Mosque on its list of around 150 so -called Jewish heritage site has provoked widespread condemnation.

The Russian official advised Israel to treat issues that have deep religious roots with utmost care and respect.

Moreover, top UN officials including Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and the head of UN cultural agency UNESCO, Irina Bokova condemned Israel's decision.

European Union's top diplomat also called on the Palestinian and Israeli sides to restart peace talks, saying such decisions would not help negotiations.

The EU's foreign-policy director, Catherine Ashton, "regards the recent decision by the government of Israel to add sites in Hebron and Bethlehem to the list of Israeli national heritage sites as detrimental to attempts to re-launch peace negotiations," her spokesman, Lutz Guellner, said in a statement.

Deadly quake rocks Chile (8.8 magnitude)





Source: Al Jazeera
http://english.aljazeera.net/news/americas/2010/02/201022774452701256.html


A massive magnitude earthquake has struck Chile, producing powerful aftershocks and causing the deaths of at least 52 people.

The 8.8-magnitude earthquake struck early on Saturday near the city of Concepcion in Chile, triggering a tsunami.

The earthquake struck 92km northeast of Concepcion at a depth of 63km at 3:34am local time (06:43 GMT) and 320km southwest of Santiago.

The quake, which lasted for one minute, shook buildings and caused blackouts in as far away as parts of the capital, Santiago.

Its magnitude was reported at 8.3 and 8.5, then fixed by the US Geological Survey (USGS) at 8.8, the country's largest in 25 years. The quake was felt in Argentina as well.

The US centre also recorded eight aftershocks, the largest measuring 6.9 magnitude at 08:01 GMT.

Panic-stricken people swarmed the streets of Santiago, more than 320km north of the epicentre, a Reuters witness reported.


'State of catastrophe'


Michelle Bachelet, the outgoing president, has declared a "state of catastrophe" and warned that more deaths were possible.
"I want to call on all the people of Chile to remain calm ... There have been some aftershocks, but so far our national organisations are still up and running," she said.

A tsunami warning was issued for Chile and Peru by the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre, and a less-urgent tsunami watch was issued for Ecuador, Colombia, Antarctica, Panama and Costa Rica.

"Sea level readings indicate a tsunami was generated. It may have been destructive along coasts near the earthquake epicentre and could also be a threat to more distant coasts," the centre said.


The US west coast tsunami warning centre said it did not expect a tsunami along the west of the US or Canada but was continuing to monitor the situation.


A national emergency official told local radio the Chilean government was evaluating damage in and around Concepcion.

Phone lines were either down or busy, making confirmation of damage difficult elsewhere, especially further south towards the epicentre.


According to a 2002 census, Concepcion is one of the largest cities in Chile with a population of around 670,000.


Tsunami threat


Kevin McCue, president of the Australian Earthquake Engineering Society, told Al Jazeera: "An earthquake of this size occurs one every ten years. This quake would have ruptured the earth's surface for about 800km, which is a very long fault line to produce a tsunami.

"I'm surprised it produced such a small tsunami as a result. But everyone is still on alert right across the Pacific."
Randy Baldwin, a geophysicist with the USGS National Earthquake Information Centre, told Al Jazeera an earthquake of this size has the potential to devastate the region.

"This is a significant earthquake with the force to cause significant damage in this region. It is a major seismic event," he said.

In 1960, Chile was hit by the world's biggest earthquake since records dating back to 1900, USGS data shows.

The 9.5 magnitude quake devastated the south-central city of Valdivia, killing 1,655 people and sending a tsunami which battered Easter Island 3,700km off Chile's Pacific seaboard and continued as far as Hawaii, Japan and the Philippines.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Rigi: US promised military base and unlimited aid





Source: PressTV
http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=119474§ionid=351020101
http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=119481§ionid=351020101



Jundallah terrorist leader Abdolmalek Rigi confesses to offers of unlimited support by the US spy agency, the CIA.

In a televised confession on Press TV, Rigi said that in a Dubai meeting with CIA agents, he was promised unlimited support that included a military base anywhere near the Iranian border equipped with weaponry and training facilities.

Rigi added that he was to meet a top US intelligence official in the US military base of Manas in Kyrgyzstan to work the details of the support US will provide for his group.

The terrorist leader emphasized that the US operatives insisted in their meetings with him that Iran is their primary focus in the region, even more important than al-Qaeda and the Taliban.

Rigi added that the CIA agents also explained to him that since a US military attack on Iran would be very difficult, they intend to support all anti-Iran groups that have the capability of waging war inside Iran and to destabilize the country.


US offered Rigi 'extensive aid' for Iran attacks

The captured ringleader of the Jundallah terrorist group, Abdolmalek Rigi, has confessed that the US administration had assured him of unlimited military aid and funding for waging an insurgency against the Islamic Republic of Iran.

The following is the detailed transcript of Rigi's confession, stated in Farsi, as broadcasted on Press TV.

"After Obama was elected, the Americans contacted us and they met me in Pakistan. They met us after clashes with my group around March 17 in (the southeastern city of) Zahedan, and he (the US operative) said that Americans had requested a meeting."

"I said we didn't have any time for a meeting and if we do help them they should promise to give us aid. They said they would cooperate with us and will give me military equipment, arms and machine guns. They also promised to give us a base along the border with Afghanistan next to Iran."

"They asked to meet me and we said where should we meet you and he said in Dubai. We sent someone to Dubai and we told a person to ask a place for myself in Afghanistan from the area near the operations and they complied that they would sort out the problem for us and they will find Mr. Rigi a base and guarantee his own security in Afghanistan or in any of the countries adjacent to Iran so that he can carry on his operations.

"They told me that in Kyrgyzstan they have a base called Manas near Bishkek, and that a high-ranking person was coming to meet me and that if such high-ranking people come to the United Arab Emirates, they may be observed by intelligence people but in a place like Bishkek this high-ranking American person could come and we could reach an agreement on making personal contacts. But after the last major operation we took part in, they said that they wanted to meet with us.

"The Americans said Iran was going its own way and they said our problem at the present is Iran… not al-Qaeda and not the Taliban, but the main problem is Iran. We don't have a military plan against Iran. Attacking Iran is very difficult for us (the US). The CIA is very particular about you and is prepared to do anything for you because our government has reached the conclusion that there was nothing Americans could do about Iran and only I could take care of the operations for them.

"One of the CIA officers said that it was too difficult for us to attack Iran militarily, but we plan to give aid and support to all anti-Iran groups that have the capability to wage war and create difficulty for the Iranian (Islamic) system. They reached the conclusion that your organization has the power to create difficulties for the Islamic Republic and they are prepared to give you training and/or any assistance that you would require, in terms of telecommunications security and procedures as well as other support, the Americans said they would be willing to provide it at an extensive level."

Iran's security forces arrested Rigi on Tuesday by bringing down his plane over the Iranian airspace, as he was onboard a flight from the United Arab Emirates to Kyrgyzstan.

Google, NSA alliance posing security threats to users





Source: PressTV
http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=119516§ionid=3510203


A deal between Internet giant Google and the US National Security Agency on cyber-attacks may pose serious threats to other countries' national security and Internet users.

Analysts worry the collaboration would allow Google's data to flow to the spy agency. Journalists and experts have announced their concern over the deal, as the National Security Agency (NSA) is known for intercepting private data.

During the Cold War, NSA worked with companies like Western Union to intercept and read millions of telegrams.

During the so-called US war on terror, the NSA has teamed up with telecommunications companies to eavesdrop on phone calls and Internet traffic.

Google, founded by Larry Page and Sergey Brin in 1998, has become the world's largest Internet search engine.

It runs more than 1 million servers in data centers around the world, processes more than 1 billion search requests and 20 petabytes of user-generated data every day.

Turkey: Israel move threatens ME peace process





Source: PressTV
http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=119541§ionid=351020204


Turkey has warned that Israel's decision to designate two Palestinian locations as Israeli national heritage sites would impede the Middle East peace process.

“We are concerned about the announcement by the Israeli authorities that certain historic artifacts in the West Bank, some of which are of importance to the Islamic world, will be accorded 'Israeli cultural heritage' status,” said the Turkish Foreign Ministry in a written statement.

“This step will create serious distrust between parties and harm the intensified efforts made in this critical period to revive the negotiations for the settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which has been a source of grief for the people of the region for years,” the statement emphasized.

“We invite Israel to abide by international law in Jerusalem and the West Bank and to refrain from unilateral and provocative practices directed toward historic sites, including sacred places for Muslims, that are essentially a part of the Islamic cultural heritage,” it concluded.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced Sunday that the regime is planning to include Rachel's Tomb in Bethlehem and the Cave of the Patriarchs in al-Khalil in a "national heritage plan."

Palestinian authorities have called on the international community to pressure Israel to renege on its decision. The move has sparked Palestinian protests and has drawn criticism from other quarters, including the UN.

Democratically-elected Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh has called for uprisings in the occupied West Bank to protest the plan.

Iran ready to accept Japan's nuclear offer





Source: PressTV
http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=119540§ionid=351020104


Tehran says it is ready to hand over the construction of five nuclear power plants to Tokyo, if Japan is truly determined to shoulder the undertaking.

"Japan's participation and involvement in the construction of Iran's power plants will serve the interests of Japanese state and private companies. Iran's suggests that Japan start its job from a particular point, by building a nuclear power plant inside the country," visiting Head of the National Security and Foreign Policy Commission of Iran's Majlis, Allaeddin Boroujerdi, remarked in Tokyo on Thursday.

The announcement comes after an earlier report by the Japanese newspaper Nikkei Business Daily reported that during a visit by Iran's top nuclear negotiator, Saeed Jalili, in December, Tokyo made an offer to construct five nuclear power plants for Tehran.

"The nuclear power plants are actually set to be built for energy production and have no other usage. They have nothing to do with the faults the United States and the Western states are trying to find with Iran," Boroujerdi added.

"The Iranian nuclear power plants have nothing to do with the differences of opinions between Iran and the United States. Russia has no problems in completing Bushehr power plant; the plant will be operational in the near future," Boroujerdi added.

"Iranian lawmakers believe that it's not logical that Japan pursue its interests through its relations with the United States; rather, it should decide itself," the Iranian official opined.

Meanwhile, Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani announced on Thursday that Tehran will study Tokyo's offer to enrich uranium for Tehran.

"It has the substance to be worth discussing. We want to deepen the discussion on it," Nikkei Business Daily quoted Larijani as saying.

In early February Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad ordered construction of 10 more nuclear facilities in the country. At this point, nearly 20 potential sites for the construction of 10 new enrichment facilities have been identified, the Head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization, Ali Akbar Salehi, disclosed.

The senior Iranian official reiterated that Japan is viewed favorably by Iranian parliamentarians and the nation. Currently Japan cooperates with Iran on several major projects; the annual trade volume of the two states exceeds $11 billion.

US struggles to sway Brazil against Iran





Source: PressTV
http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=119534§ionid=351020104


As the US seeks the broadest possible support for tougher Iran sanctions, the Obama administration is pushing Brazil to join Washington's fray against Iran.

Brazil's current position as a voter on the UN Security Council has prompted up-coming visits from the US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and another diplomat, William Burns, to Brasilia, seeking support for a US initiative to impose more sanctions on Iran.

"Clearly, Brazil is an emerging power with growing influence in the region and around the world, and we believe that with that influence comes responsibility, and we will be talking to Brazil about the way forward with Iran," the Washington Post quotes State Department spokesman, P.J. Crowley, as saying.

Iran and Brazil enjoy cordial relations with each other and Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has thrown his weight behind Iran's efforts to develop a nuclear program aimed at peaceful purposes.

In February 2010, the Brazilian envoy to the UN told the US and France that her country will not agree with tougher sanctions against Iran as it seeks more trade with the Islamic Republic.

“Negotiations should continue. If sanctions are pursued, this might block the negotiating track," Ambassador Maria Viotti told Bloomberg.

Iran's close ties with Brazil, the fifth largest country in the world, have been a cause of major concern for the US.

The US and some other Western countries endeavor to slap a fourth set of UN sanctions on Tehran. They allege that Iran is pursuing military intentions under the guise of its nuclear program.

Tehran has repeatedly and vehemently dismissed the accusations, asserting that its nuclear activities are peaceful and under the full supervision of the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Clinton's recent calls for harsher sanctions against Iran were also snubbed by China after Beijing argued that diplomatic efforts had not yet been exhausted.

"We believe there is still diplomatic room for the Iranian nuclear issue," Qin said.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Ahmadinejad in Syria for talks on Israel





Source: PressTV
http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=119446§ionid=351020101


Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has arrived in Damascus to discuss with his Syrian counterpart Bashar Assad the threat that Israel poses to the Middle East and beyond.

Before leaving Tehran on Thursday morning, the Iranian president announced that his talks with Assad in the Syrian capital would focus on regional and global developments.

Ahmadinejad added that Israel's efforts to destabilize the region would also be one of the main topics of their discussions.

He mentioned that Iran and Syria already share the same stance on regional and global issues, noting that both countries stood in “the front line of standing up to” Israel.

“These days, the Zionists are constantly threatening countries and nations surrounding Palestine. They intend to drag the region into an atmosphere of serious tension,” he said

“That is why it is necessary for our two countries to begin a new series of negotiations,” he added.

Winding up, the Iranian president pointed out that talks on economic cooperation and joint investment projects would also be a part of his discussions with his Syrian counterpart.

Turkey charges more officers over coup plot





Source: PressTV
http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=119460§ionid=351020204


A Turkish court has charged eight more officers for tying to topple the Ankara government in 2003, bringing the number of coup suspects under investigation to 20.

The eight suspects, including two serving admirals, three retired admirals and a retired one-star general, were grilled several hours overnight and were remanded in custody in military and civilian prisons in Istanbul.

On Wednesday, the Istanbul court handling the probe ordered that 12 suspects questioned by prosecutors earlier should be kept in jail pending trial, but also decided to release around 10 other suspects.

Turkey's anti-terrorism police on Monday arrested about 50 serving and retired military figures, including the former chiefs of the navy and air force, Ozden Ornek and Ibrahim Firtina, in what the country's army described "a serious situation."

The army said top commanders held an emergency meeting to discuss the situation, prompting a warning from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) against any moves to influence the judiciary.

Turkey's military which traditionally carries a great political weight has unseated four governments in the country.

The 2003 coup plot in question was codenamed "Operation Sledgehammer" and was allegedly planned and discussed in 2003 within the Istanbul-based First Army, soon after the AKP came to power in 2002.

The plot allegedly involved plans to bomb mosques and provoke tensions with Greece in a bid to force the targeting of a Turkish jet, and thus discrediting the government and leading to its collapse.

Yanukovych sworn in as Ukraine president





Source: PressTV
http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=119459§ionid=351020606


Viktor Yanukovych has sworn in as Ukraine's new president, amid speculations that he will seek closer ties with Moscow.

"I, Viktor Yanukovych, elected president of Ukraine by the will of the people, swear the oath of loyalty to Ukraine," he said at a ceremony in parliament attended by a host of foreign dignitaries.

"I vow to defend through my actions the sovereignty and independence of Ukraine and the rights and freedoms of its citizens," he said.

As the supporters of Yanukovych's electoral rival, Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko left their seats empty, the new president vowed to tackle Ukraine's economic problems and lead the country out of the crisis.

Tymoshenko has accused Yanukovych of winning the election through fraud and refused to attend the ceremony in the parliament.

"Yanukovich, who came to power by lies, is not our president and he will not last long," she declared in a fiery televised broadcast on Monday.

The 49-year-old premier added that she would not "under any circumstance create a coalition with Yanukovich."

The newly sworn in president has called on Tymoshenko to resign gracefully after her narrow defeat by a margin of some 3.5 percent in the February 7 presidential elections. But the charismatic prime minister has refused to budge.

China firm on suspending US ties





Source: PressTV
http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=119441§ionid=351020404


Amid strained China-US ties over Washington's sale of arms to Taiwan, China has urged the US to be cautious to prevent more damage.

"China demands that the US speak and act cautiously to avoid causing further damage to relations between the two countries," Huang Xueping, spokesman for the Chinese Ministry of Defense, said on Thursday.

He also noted that Beijing would not reverse its decision to suspend bilateral military plans with Washington.

"China's decision to suspend planned China-US military visits has not changed."

The tension between the two countries emerged after the US announced in January that it would sell $6.4 billion of arms to Taiwan.

The deal included Patriot missiles, Black Hawk helicopters and equipment for Taiwan's F-16 fleet.

China, which views Taiwan as part of its territory, reacted to Washington's move by imposing sanctions on US companies involved in the military agreement.

The Pentagon said earlier on Wednesday that Beijing also postponed several high-profile military exchanges with Washington.

A number of other issues such as US President Barack Obama's meeting with the exiled Tibetan leader, the Dalai Lama, and Google's claims of being targeted by cyber attacks in China have worsened ties between the two major powers.

Xueping's remarks, reported by the Xinhua news agency, indicates China has not put aside the public ire with Washington, despite allowing a US aircraft carrier to visit Hong Kong last week.

S Korea to send troops to Afghanistan





Source: PressTV
http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=119457&sectionid=351020403


South Korea has ignored Taliban threats over sending troops back to war-ravaged Afghanistan, saying Seoul will deploy about 350 more soldiers in July.

The parliament approved the deployment by 148 votes to five on Thursday.

Many opposition legislators boycotted the vote, saying that a majority of Korean people oppose the mission.

South Korean opposition Democratic Labor Party members and Korean protesters on Thursday staged a rally in front of the National Assembly in Seoul to oppose the dispatch of troops.

The soldiers will protect a 140-strong South Korean aid and reconstruction team, which also includes police offers, and will be based in Parwan province just north of Kabul for 30 months.

Taliban had earlier warned that South Koreans "should be prepared for the consequences" if they dispatch a contingent, accusing Seoul of breaking a promise not to send troops back to Afghanistan.

As a close ally of the United States, Seoul sent 210 engineering and medical troops to Afghanistan in 2002.

The Asian country withdrew them in 2007 after Taliban militants took 23 South Korean church volunteers hostage and murdered two of them.

Japan offers to enrich uranium for Iran





Source: PressTV
http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=119384§ionid=351020104


Japan has offered to enrich uranium for Iran allowing access to nuclear power by the Islamic Republic, the Nikkei business daily reports.

The Japanese proposal is aimed to allay international fears that Iran might be seeking an atomic weapon, according to Wednesday's edition of the report.

The uranium would be used at Tehran's research reactor to produce medical isotopes, the report added.

According to the publication, the Iranian government has not yet responded to the proposal, but the issue was expected to be discussed Wednesday when the visiting Iranian Parliament (Majlis) Speaker Ali Larijani and Japanese Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada meet in Tokyo.

"Japan strongly hopes Iran's nuclear issue will be resolved peacefully and diplomatically ... and that Iran considers a related UN Security Council resolution seriously", a foreign ministry spokesman quoted Katsuya as saying in the meeting.

Iran says that it is a signatory of the NPT and, unlike Israel, neither believes in atomic weapons nor, as a matter of religious principle, does it intend to access such weapons of mass-destruction. Furthermore, Tehran has repeatedly called for the elimination of all nuclear weapon development, production and arsenals throughout the globe.

Iran's nuclear facilities and enriched uranium remain under the supervision of IAEA inspectors, as outlined in the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Safeguards Agreement.

The UN nuclear watchdog has carried out the highest number of inspections in Iran, compared to any other country throughout its history and has found nothing to indicate any diversion toward weaponization.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

LatAm nations to create new non-US bloc





Source: PressTV
http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=119368§ionid=351020705


Latin American and Caribbean nations have agreed to launch a new regional body that will exclude the United States and Canada.

The new bloc will bring together some 32 nations in order to resolve regional issues and present a common position on global challenges.

The decision was made during the periodical Rio Group Summit at the resort town of Cancun, Mexico.

The new group will be an alternative to the Organization of American States (OAS), the main forum for regional affairs in the past 50 years.

The OAS has been criticized for pursuing US interests and its members have repeatedly failed to get along when it comes to economical policies and trade.

The White House has regarded the group cautiously saying it does not have any problems with it as long as it does not replace the Washington-based OAS.

Discussions about the group, which yet has to be named, are to be continued at summits in Venezuela and Chile in 2011 and 2012.

Google hit by privacy convictions





Source: Al Jazeera
http://english.aljazeera.net/news/europe/2010/02/201022493736606763.html

Three executives from internet search firm Google have been convicted of privacy violations over allowing a video of a handicapped boy being bullied to be posted online.

A judge in Milan sentenced the three to six-month suspended sentences but absolved them of defamation charges in a case that has been closely watched for its implications on internet freedom.

The video, uploaded to Google Video where it remained for nearly two months in late 2006, showed four students bullying a teenager with autism in front of more than a dozen people, none of who intervened.

The bullies were suspended from their school in Turin, northern Italy, for the rest of the academic year over the episode, which sparked a national outcry.

None of the defendants had anything to do with making the video.

A fourth defendant in the case, charged only with defamation, was acquitted.

'Astonishing' decision

Google called the decision "astonishing" and said it would appeal.

Peter Fleischer, Google's global privacy counsel, who was convicted in absentia, said in a statement: "The judge has decided I'm primarily responsible for the actions of some teenagers who uploaded a reprehensible video to Google video."

Google, which is based in Mountain View, California, has said it considers the trial a threat to internet freedom, arguing that pre-screening the thousands of hours of footage uploaded every day to sites like YouTube would be impossible.

Aaron Martin, an internet expert and lecturer from the London School of Economics, told Al Jazeera the trial posed a challenge to Google's business model.

"Their business model for years has been just to put as much information online as possible, but now they need to rethink how they respond to requests to pull things down when people find them objectionable.

"[But] there so much material out there, I can't think of a practical way by which one could identify everyone who is uploading material, or to attach a name or identifying information to everyone who uploads a comment that might be found objectionable or a video that might upset someone."

Complaints

The three men convicted were David Drummond, chairman of the board of Google Italy at the time; George De Los Reyes, then a board member who has since left the firm; and Fleischer, who was responsible for privacy issues.

The charges were sought by Vivi Down, an Italian advocacy group.

Separately, Google took another blow in Europe when regulators in Brussels said they would investigate complaints filed by three web companies that contend Google is anti-competitive.

The complaints were made by British price comparison website Foundem, French legal search engine ejustice, and Microsoft's Ciao from Bing.

Google has said it will provide information to the European Commission and was confident its operations conform to European competition law.

In a blog post on Tuesday, Google indicated that the grievances revolve around how it ranks Web sites in its search results and the online advertising system that generates virtually all its revenue.

China, NAM: Clear US chemical weapons stockpile





Source: PressTV
http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=119376§ionid=351020404


China and members of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) have expressed concern about the United States' lack of inclination to empty its chemical weapons stockpile.

The concern was highlighted in a statement that was issued during a council meeting of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) at The Hague.

NAM member states and officials from Beijing demanded that Washington fulfill the commitments it has made under the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) by the end of an April 29, 2012 deadline.

In the statement, they also expressed serious concern that 13 years since the coming into effect of the CWC, 42 percent of the world's chemical weapons still remained in storage.

The 59th session of the 40-member OPCW Executive Council, convened on Tuesday. The meeting is expected to go on for another three days.

The OPCW is an international agency with 188 members that aims to promote the CWC — a treaty that mandates the elimination of “the scourge of chemical weapons forever” and “the destruction of the declared chemical weapons stockpiles within stipulated deadlines.”

The Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) is an international organization of states that consider themselves not formally aligned with or against any major power bloc. China is an observer state.

Lieberman is Dying to Say it











Source: Al Jazeera
http://blogs.aljazeera.net/imperium/2010/02/23/lieberman-dying-say-it

When Europe's blood pressure went up over the use of fake European passports in the assassination of Hamas official Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, Avigdor Lieberman, the Israeli foreign minister, changed his line from ambiguity to deniability. There is no proof of Israeli involvement, he retorted. And that is that.

My guess is that Lieberman had to 'cut the ambiguity' because the government of Binyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, does not want to further exacerbate tensions with its European allies against the backdrop of continued illegal Jewish settlements and a deadlocked 'peace process'.

But Lieberman, the eccentric former nightclub bouncer, is dying to take responsibility for the assassination of Israel's "enemy combatant" to borrow from the Pentagon's dictionary.

Or, to paraphrase one of Hollywood's epics, A Few Good Men, " ... he's pissed off that he has to hide behind all this ... he wants to say that he made a command decision and that should be the end of it".

Lieberman loves to boast

An immigrant from Moldova who made his way to become Netanyahu's bureau chief in the mid-1990s, Lieberman made a name for himself in Israeli politics by calling in 1998 for the bombing of the Aswan Dam in retaliation for Egyptian support for the then Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat.

Lieberman reportedly called in 2002 for the transfer of Palestinian citizens of Israel from their homeland, claiming that there is "nothing undemocratic about transfer".

The following year, the head of the Yisrael Betainu Party called for thousands of Palestinian prisoners to be shipped to the Dead Sea and drowned there.

In 2006, he called for the assassination of Arab members of the Knesset who met with members of the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority.

And in 2008, Lieberman told Hosni Mubarak, the Egyptian president, to "go to hell".

Spineless allies

Alas, none of Israel's spineless allies would provide Lieberman with the opportunity to cough it up or tell them to go to hell; none would come out in the open or in private to question the minister or put the heat on Israel to come clean.

Lieberman is right not to bother. As he told his British counterpart, David Miliband: "If someone would present information beyond articles in the media, we would relate to it ... but since there is no such information, there is no need to deal with the matter."

Instead, the British foreign minister pleaded with Lieberman in the most timid of ways. He asked kindly and politely for Israeli "cooperation" with an investigation into the use of forged British passports.

Miliband even tried appeasing arguably the most extremist leader in Israel - who supports the continued illegal occupation and colonisation of Palestinian and Syrian territories - by suggesting that Israel's cooperation is important because it has the most to gain from applying the rule of law in the Middle East!

Other Europeans were less timid, but just as indirect. Nicolas Sarkozy, the French president, condemned the assassination and European foreign ministers condemned forging their passports, but no mention of Israel whatsoever, and no attempt to open serious and frank dialogue with it over the assassination that could put Europeans and European security at risk.

So, as expected, the visit ended with Avigdor Lieberman flatly rebuffing David Miliband's request for cooperation with the investigation and instead ridiculing journalists for watching too many Hamas Bond movies.

Proving the need for proof

It is not the Bond movies that influence journalists, but every day news.

Europe and the US are more than willing to accuse Iran of developing a nuclear weapons programme with no proof, but hide behind the lack-of-proof excuse to avoid calling out Israel over forging passports and carrying out extra judicial assassinations.


They justify their escalation with Iran on the basis of 'mounting evidence', when it is at best circumstantial, but avoid confronting Israel over a far less dangerous accusation, when all the circumstantial evidence leads to the Mossad.

When was proof so important for Western powers to act or even to go to war? Did the Nato allies have proof of Osama bin Laden's and al-Qaeda's role in the 9/11 attacks before (or after) invading Afghanistan, or Taliban complicity with the attack? Osama bin Laden's boasting at a later date hardly counts for proof.

Or, did they have proof of chemical weapons for the invasion of Iraq? Or did they need proof when it could be just as easily manufactured?

As for proof of Mossad's activity, generally Israel's policy of ambiguity covers those acts it carries out, not the ones it would not. In other words, Israel uses denial when it does not want to give the impression it carried out an attack, but when it uses ambiguity, as Lieberman did immediately after the attack, it usually means it did.

In the words of the hero of A Few Good Men, Europe needed to shake Lieberman, "put him on the defensive and lead him right where he is dying to go".

Palestinian PM Haniyeh calls for West Bank uprising





Source: PressTV
http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=119319§ionid=351020202


The democratically elected Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh has called for uprisings in the occupied West Bank over a controversial Israeli plan to confiscate two holy sites in the territory as "national heritage."

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced Sunday that the regime is planning to include Rachel's Tomb in Bethlehem and the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron in a "national heritage plan".

His remarks drew protests from the Palestinians, the United Nations, Jordan and Egypt.

"The decision requires a real response in the West Bank and for the people to rise up in the face of the Israeli occupation and to break every shackle in confronting it," Haniyeh said Tuesday.

"(The project) aims to erase our identity, alter our Islamic monuments and steal our history," he added.

In Hebron there were sporadic clashes near the Ibrahim Mosque above the Tomb of the Patriarchs but there were no reports of casualties.

Meanwhile, in Bethlehem shops and schools were closed in a day-long general strike, AFP reported.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Return Falklands to Argentina, says Chavez to Queen





Source: PressTV
http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=119229&sectionid=351020704


Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has called on Queen Elizabeth II of Britain to leave the disputed Malvinas (Falklands) Island to Argentina, saying that the time of empires have long expired.

"Look, England, how long are you going to be in Las Malvinas Queen of England, I'm talking to you... the time for empires are over, haven't you noticed? Return the Malvinas to the Argentine People," AFP quoted Chavez as saying in his weekly TV and Radio address "Alo Presidente" on Sunday.

The Latin American leader warned that in the event of a war over the island, Argentina would not be alone.

"The English are still threatening Argentina. Things have changed," Chavez continued, still addressing Queen Elizabeth II. "We are no longer in 1982. If conflict breaks out, be sure Argentina will not be alone like it was back then."

The British claim over the archipelago is "anti-historic and irrational," said Chavez, asking "why the English speak of democracy but still have a queen?"

The dispute over the Malvinas Island arose between Buenos Aires and London after Argentina found that Britain was planning drilling for oil near the islands that lie around 500 kilometers off the coast of Argentina and almost 13,000 kilometers away from the UK.

Britain deems the southern Atlantic archipelago as part of its sovereign territories, with Prime Minister Gordon Brown reportedly hinting at a possible confrontation in the event of a clash.

Earlier on Friday Chavez had also slammed the US and the UK for what he described as their 'oil hunger' that had sparked tensions over drilling plans near the Falklands or Las Malvinas.

Iran expounds on Rigi's links with CIA, Mossad





Source: PressTV
http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=119292§ionid=351020101


Iran's Intelligence Ministry says Abdolmalek Rigi, ringleader of the terrorist group Jundallah, was at a US base 24 hours before being captured by Iranian forces.

Interior Minister Mostafa Mohammad-Najjar told reporters on Tuesday that Rigi was arrested outside the country as he was preparing for a new act of sabotage. He was consequently transferred to Iran.

In a news conference following Rigi's capture Tuesday, Iran's Intelligence Minister Heidar Moslehi shed light on certain details regarding Rigi's arrest as well as his links with foreign elements.

Moslehi said that Americans utilized an Afghan passport for Rigi, a declaration which adds to already existing evidence on Rigi's links with the US.

Moslehi said that Rigi had contacts with CIA and Mossad and had even met the NATO military chief Jaap de Hoop Scheffer in Afghanistan in April 2008.

According to the minister, Rigi had also contacts with certain EU countries and traveled to them.

He had been monitored for the five months immediately prior to being captured by Iranian forces, Moslehi added, reiterating that no foreign intelligence service assisted Iran in Rigi's capture.

The minister said Iran reserved the right to sue the US and UK as, according to the minister, they coordinated Rigi's terrorist attacks within Iran.

The Jundallah group has claimed responsibility for numerous terrorist attacks in Iran. The group has carried out mass murder, armed robbery, kidnapping, acts of sabotage and bombings. They have targeted civilians and government officials, as well as all ranks of Iran's military.

Iran arrests Jundallah ringleader, Rigi





Source: PressTV
http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=119269§ionid=351020101


Abdolmalek Rigi, ringleader of the Pakistan-based terrorist group of Jundallah, was captured in an operation on Tuesday.

Reports say Rigi was captured on a flight from Dubai to Kyrgyzstan.

Iranian Interior Minister Mostafa Mohammad-Najjar told reporters that Rigi was arrested outside the country as he was preparing for a new act of sabotage.

The minister added that he was consequently transferred to Iran.

Zahedan Prosecutor Mohammad Marzieh also told Fars news agency that the notorious terrorist was arrested early Tuesday in a pre-planned operation.

"Rigi's arrest was eventually made through a series of security measures taken for a long period of time. He is now in Iran and will be handed to security and judicial officials," he said.

The Jundallah group has claimed responsibility for numerous terrorist attacks in Iran. The group has carried out mass murder, armed robbery, kidnapping, acts of sabotage and bombings. They have targeted civilians and government officials, as well as all ranks of Iran's military.

In their latest attack, which occurred on October 18, more than 40 Iranians — among them 15 members of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), including top commanders, in addition to several tribal elders — lost their lives when Jundallah terrorists carried out an operation in the border region of Pishin, located in Iran's southeastern province of Sistan-Baluchestan.

Citing US and Pakistani intelligence sources, the news group of an American televison network, ABC, reported in 2007 that the terrorist group "has been secretly encouraged and advised by American officials" to destabilize the government of Iran.

Investigative journalist Seymour Hersh revealed in another report in July 2008 that US Congressional leaders had secretly agreed to former President George W. Bush's USD 400 million funding request, which gave the US a free hand in arming and funding terrorist groups such as Jundallah militants.

The Pakistan-based terrorist organization denies having any link to Washington but Rigi's brother, arrested earlier and now in Iran's custody, confirmed in an interview with Press TV that the Jundallah leader had, in fact, established links with the US administration.

Abdolhamid revealed that a go-between, named Amanollh-Khan Rigi, put the terrorist group in connect with the US administration, which had promised the anti-Iran terrorist group a safe haven in Pakistan.

"His name is Amanollah-Khan Rigi. He is my father's cousin. He was a royalist during the Shah's regime," Abdulhamid told Press TV.

"After the [1979] Revolution in Iran, he left the country via Pakistan and sought asylum in the United States."

Abdulhamid said the Americans had asked Amanollah-Khan to forge a link between the US and Jundallah. "The Americans asked him [Amanollah-Khan] to introduce them to [Abdolmalek] Rigi in Pakistan and that's how link was established."

He also claimed to have visited the US Embassy in Pakistan to seek more US cooperation with the terrorist group.

"The most important issue that I raised was Jundallah's security in Pakistan," he said.

"I told the Americans that we needed support from the media, newspapers, radios and satellite channels to get our message across to the Baluch around the world," he said.

According to Abdolhamid, the Pakistani government was well aware of the whereabouts of the Jundallah terror group.

"It is impossible to believe that Pakistan is unaware of Jundallah's presence on its soil," he said. "Pakistan is a perfect haven for Jundallah."

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