February 28, 2013

Erdogan says Zionism crime against humanity

PM speaking at Vienna forum of the Alliance of Civilizations, a UN forum for West-Islam dialogue; Kerry set to visit Turkey Friday.

Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan called Zionism a "crime against humanity" likening it with anti-Semitism, fascism, and Islamophobia while speaking at a UN forum on Wednesday. Read more.


- Turkish PM Erdoğan: Islamophobia, anti-Semitism same - Hürriyet
- PM slams Erdogan's 'dark, libelous' denunciation of Zionism - JPost

Kerry's maiden visit overshadowed by Zionism controversy - Today's Zaman
- Kerry Says Erdogan Zionism Remarks 'Objectionable', Davutoglu Hits Back - Naharnet  

Media Blackout: Israel, Hamas ban rival journos to report from Gaza

Israel has closed off the main supply route into Gaza, in response to recent rocket fire from the strip - the first since November's conflict. And as tensions rise, some journalists in the region are finding their work and at times, livelihoods, affected by the ongoing stand-off.

RT's Paula Slier investigates how those trying to spread light on the situation, are coming under pressure, from both sides of the divide.


Clashes Reported In Different Parts of Occupied West Bank

Wednesday February 27 2013; clashes have been reported between Palestinian youths and Israeli in different parts of the occupied West Bank leading to several injuries.

Ongoing clashes started after a Palestinian detainee, identified as Arafat Jaradat, died last Saturday at an Israeli prison. Read more.


- Tens of Injuries during Clashes near Ramallah - WAFA

- Autopsy report: No evidence Jaradat was victim of violence - JPost

Montreal students return to the streets

A Montreal protest against tuition hikes turned ugly Tuesday, resulting in 13 arrests after a confrontation with police. 

The demonstration, organized by the Association pour une Solidarité Syndicale Étudiante, was in response to the proposed index of tuition fees to inflation by the Marois government at Montreal’s higher education summit on Monday. Read more.


Cops vs Students: Violence erupts as Canadian students throw snow at police (video) - RT

World powers present Iran with new proposal that would ease sanctions without closing Fordo

Teheran expressed satisfaction with the proposal that would suspend the operations in, but not close, its enrichment facility, as well as, allow Iran to hold stockpiles of enriched uranium.

The negotiations between Iran and the P5‏+1 nations closed on Wednesday with an offer easing the powers' demands of Iran. Read more.


- We will enrich uranium according to our needs - Mehr News

EU report: Settlements biggest threat to Palestinian statehood

(Reuters) - Israeli settlement construction on occupied land poses the most serious threat to the creation of a Palestinian state alongside Israel, European Union consuls general based in the region said in a report released on Wednesday.

The non-binding document by the EU diplomats in East Jerusalem and the West Bank,.. Read more.


February 27, 2013

Environmentalists in Argentina manage to suspend Monsanto corn-seed drying facility

Another setback for Monsanto in South America: the Argentine province of Córdoba justice system ordered the suspension of the construction of a corn seed-drying facility in the district of Malvinas Argentinas, 14 kilometres outside the capital city of Córdoba.

The decision was made by a labour court in Córdoba City, which placed an injunction to halt the application of Order Number 821/2013, granting the firm permission to advance with its construction project. Read more.


Argentina accused UK of sending submarines with nuclear weapons capacity to the Falklands

Argentina accused the UK of displacement of submarines with nuclear weapons capacity in the Falkland Islands, violating international treaties that established the South Atlantic zone as free of nuclear arms.

The claim was made on Monday at the United Nations Disarmament Conference in Geneva. Read more.


UK leaves 'no room for doubt' over Falklands - DW

26,000 people disappeared during Calderon's administration

The Mexican government reported that, during the presidency of Felipe Calderon, 26 121 people disappeared.

The Interior Ministry representatives said that they still do not know how many of these disappearances can be linked to the so-called war on drug trafficking. He explained that, so far, there are 20 915 open cases among these that are under investigations.


FARC asks for Jimmy Carter to investigate land grab

The FARC insisted on a "high level commission to clarify the truth" about the alleged theft of large expanses of land from the Colombian people by the left-wing guerrillas, suggesting former President Jimmy Carter participate.

Colombia's largest rebel group, the FARC, have rejected a government accusation over the theft of almost 2,000 square miles of land in Caguan in the Chaqueta department of central Colombia. Read more.

Colombia Reports

- FARC Gives Support to Peasant and Worker Struggle in Colombia - Prensa Latina
Colombia govt to blame for coffee strike: FARC - Colombia Reports

Lower House begins debating Iran agreement bill

The Kirchnerite party managed to muster quorum on the Lower House floor after convening 132 lawmakers who will look to vote in favour of a bill authorizing the bilateral agreement between Iran and Argentina in order to investigate the AMIA bombing in 1994. 

The bill has already been approved in the Senate. Read more.

Buenos Aires Herald

Argentina/Iran accord could just make it in Wednesday’s vote in the Lower House - MercoPress

Next round of talks between Iran, P5+1 in April: Iran

Secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) Saeed Jalili says the next round of talks between Tehran and the group of six major world powers will be held in Kazakhstan in April.

In a press conference following talks with the P5+1 (Britain, China, France, Russia, and the United States plus Germany) on Wednesday, Jalili said the next round of negotiations would be held on April 5-6 in Almaty. Read more.


Iran nuclear talks end without breakthrough - Al Jazeera
World powers present Iran with new proposal that would ease sanctions without closing Fordo - Haaretz

US lawmakers to tighten sanctions on Iran amid Tehran-P5+1 talks - PressTV
Obama to threaten Iran with military strike in June, Israeli media reports - RT

- Turkish FM says Ankara supports Iran nuclear rights - PressTV
Turkey imports of Iranian crude remain unchanged in February - PressTV

Slow Strangulation: 'Iran sanctions a war on ordinary citizens' (video) - RT

Slow Strangulation: 'Iran sanctions a war on ordinary citizens'

It's ordinary Iranians who are bearing the brunt of Western-imposed sanctions. Lack of proper medicine and food shortages, are affecting thousands of people on a daily basis.

Buffy Sainte-Marie - Little Wheel Spin and Spin


Germany sells arms to Arab states to protect Israel

Germany’s Defense Minister Thomas de Maiziere says arms sales to the Arab littoral states of the Persian Gulf is aimed at protecting Israel.

The German minister’s remarks come at a time when his country has been strongly criticized for the dramatic increase in arms sales to Arab states like Saudi Arabia, despite their poor human rights record. Read more.


US vows major expansion of its support for armed militants in Syria

The US is planning a major expansion of its support for terrorist gangs in Syria engaged in a foreign-backed armed insurgency aimed at toppling the government of President Bashar al-Assad.

The Obama administration, according to US media reports, is considering a “major policy shift” on Syria that may at least lead to supplying the anti-Damascus militants with apparatus such as armored vehicles, body armor, night-vision goggles and even military training. Read more.


U.S. moves toward providing direct aid to Syrian rebels - The Washington Post
US, EU may start training and equipping Syrian rebels - RT

New York Times: Saudi Arabia Financed Large Purchase of Weapons from Croatia Bound to Gunmen in Syria - SANA
Terrorists Suffer Heavy Losses in Several Areas - SANA

Jalili: Outside Powers Pursuing Mistaken Policy on Syria - SANA
- Syrian refugee numbers to Jordan spike - Al Jazeera

The War on Syria: Israeli Licence to Cheney-Linked Energy Firm in Occupied Golan Heights - Global Research

The War on Syria: Israeli Licence to Cheney-Linked Energy Firm in Occupied Golan Heights

In a potential new source of contention between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel has reportedly granted a U.S. energy firm with heavyweight political connections to explore for oil and gas in the occupied Golan Heights.

The company is a local subsidiary of New Jersey-based Genie Energy Ltd. The Strategic Advisory Board of another subsidiary, Genie Oil and Gas, includes former Vice President Dick Cheney, media magnate Rupert Murdoch, and former Republican Rep. Jim Courter. Read more.

Global Research

France confirms tough fight in northern Mali

Defence minister says it is too early to talk about a quick pullout, despite the growing cost of the intervention.

France's defence minister has said that French troops are involved in "very violent fighting" in the mountains of northern Mali and that it is too early to talk about a quick pullout from the West African country, despite the growing cost of the intervention. Read more.

Al Jazeera

German military has long experience of Mali - DW

Mali crisis eclipses Western Sahara conflict

Conflict | The Moroccan occupation of Western Sahara continues unchallenged to this day. A referendum agreed on more than 30 years ago has yet to take place and frustration in the region is growing. 

The prospect of Islamists advancing victoriously through North Africa has been viewed with growing fear by the international community since the outbreak of the crisis in Mali. Read more.


Wall Street bonuses for 2012 to rise to $20 billion

ALBANY: Wall Street cash bonuses rose in 2012 but were still below pre-crisis levels, and the industry is gearing up for more layoffs as it continues to adapt to more regulation and heightened competition, New York's top financial official said. 

The securities industry's bonus pool was expected to total $20 billion,.. Read more.

Economic Times

JPMorgan Chase plans to cut 19,000 jobs by 2014 - PressTV

JPMorgan Chase plans to cut 19,000 jobs by 2014

US banking giant JPMorgan Chase has announced plans to cut up to 19,000 jobs by the end of 2014, starting with slashing 4,000 jobs in 2013.

According to a statement released by the United States’ largest bank on Tuesday, the massive job cuts are aimed at cutting expenses through 2014, targeting the company’s mortgage and community banking businesses. Read more.


Wall Street bonuses for 2012 to rise to $20 billion - Economic Times

Western powers hint at Iran sanctions relief

Negotiators suggest "several offers" for Western powers, which have proposed a modest easing of economic sanctions.

Iranian negotiators have hinted that they are prepared to make a new offer to world powers in talks over its nuclear programme, after the United States proposed limited steps to ease crippling economic sanctions against Iran. Read more.

Al Jazeera

- Almaty talks to proceed tomorrow, Iran says US sanctions run counter to international law - IRNA

February 26, 2013

Trans-Atlantic Rifts: European Activists Could Thwart US-EU Trade Deal

Consumer watchdogs, Internet activists and European farmers are gearing up to fight the planned trade agreement between Europe and the United States. Many in Europe are worried that politicians will make backroom deals at the expense of consumers.

When it comes to face-to-face meetings, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and United States President Barack Obama have had a somewhat one-sided relationship so far. Read more.


EU-US trade deal is 'unique opportunity' - DW

Smog over Athens getting out of control

The blanket of smog that has covered Athens and Attica in general since the start of the winter is steadily rising above acceptable limits and posing a serious health hazard in the long term, potentially leading to serious illnesses and chronic medical conditions.

Experts are ringing the alarm bells, demanding measures to rid the skies of Athens and other big Greek cities of this toxic shroud. Read more.


Greek coalition fears fallout from sacking civil servants

Greece is hoping that the quicker-than-expected departure of civil servants from the public sector will help convince visiting troika officials that there is no need for the coalition to sack public sector workers in the coming months.

Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras and Administrative Reform Minister Antonis Manitakis met Tuesday to discuss the government’s position on the downsizing of the public sector. Read more.


Over 8 in 10 are unable to repay loans

At least eight in every 10 citizens who have taken out a loan are having trouble with repayment, while the problem is greater among households with children and those from the lower social strata, according to a survey conducted by Public Issue for the 2012 period.

Over three in four households (78 percent) said they are having problems in paying their installments to banks, while 6 percent say they are totally unable to do so. Read more.


Galician judge blocks eviction of 85-year-old woman

A judge in Galicia has stopped the eviction of an 85-year-old woman who was being forced out of her apartment in A Coruña by the owners when she fell behind on her 126-euro monthly rent last year.

The case of Aurelia Rey has made news across Spain when members of the Stop Evictions platform battled with police who had come to evict the woman last week. Read more.

El País

Figures for child-poverty risk in Italy 32.3% in 2011

Some 27% of minors in EU faced social exclusion in 2011

(ANSA) - Brussels, February 26 - In 2011 32.3% of children under 18 in recession-hit Italy were at risk of poverty or social exclusion, compared to 27% of minors across the 27 member states of the European Union (EU), said a Eurostat report released on Tuesday. Read more.


Grillo says won't make deals with other Italian parties

(ANSA) - Rome, February 25 - Comedian Beppe Grillo said his Five Star Movement would not make deals with the other parties after it rocked the political establishment, with projections saying it won around one in four of the votes casts in Italy's general election. 

"I'm not thinking of doing any big or little shady deals," the comedian said via the web TV channel of the movement, which snubs traditional media outlets. Read more.


- Grillo warns parties after rocking Italian politics - ANSA
Italian election produces stalemate - ANSA

Monti satisfied, says will have influence after vote - ANSA
- Monti lost votes due to his harsh austerity measures: Paulo Raffone (video) - PressTV

EU Commission has 'confidence' in Italy's democratic process - ANSA
- Stable government in Italy 'crucial', Germany says - ANSA

World From Berlin: Italy's 'Childlike Refusal to Acknowledge Reality' - Spiegel

Italy’s anti-austerity ‘rebellion’ promises to spread - The Globe and Mail
Election Chaos: 'The Whole of Europe Is Afraid of Us' - Spiegel

German draft bill on fracking ready for parliamentary debate

Media reports have said the government in Berlin has agreed on a draft bill regulating the use of controversial hydraulic fracturing technologies in Germany, also known as fracking. There will be many restrictions.

Following many years of public debates, the German government on Tuesday reportedly agreed on the wording of a draft bill regulating the future use of hydraulic fracturing or fracking. Read more.


BP’s greed for more profit has caused oil spill disaster, court hears

British oil company BP’s greed for more profit has caused the fatal explosion of its deep-sea oil well and the disastrous spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010, a court was told on Monday.

US government prosecutors spent a tense day in a federal court in New Orleans over a long-delayed trial into the massive oil spill after an explosion at the BP's Deepwater Horizon oil rig, in which more than 100,000 people and businesses were hurt. Read more.


- BP, Transocean Accused of ‘Reckless’ Actions in Spill - Bloomberg
- Billions of dollars at stake for BP, other companies as trial opens for Gulf oil spill - The Washington Post

- Fishers still angry about 2010 BP oil spill - DW

February 25, 2013

Mali and the Africa Land Grab

Sasha Ross: France wants to secure North Mali's rice fields as a food supply for Libya; part of land grabs taking place all over Africa


UK spends fortune on army ‘as if it still had Empire’

Earlier this week, Prime Minister David Cameron announced he was “very open” to spending money from the UK's 10-billion-pound ($US15.2 billion) aid budget on peacekeeping and other security operations.

The move sparked a wave of criticism in Britain, with opponents insisting that money should be spent on things like hospitals rather than the military. Read more + video.


Prime Minister.. Government Serious in inviting All Powers to Dialogue

DAMASCUS, (SANA)-Prime Minister Wael al-Halqi affirmed the important role of national economic activities in supporting the national economy and development as well as backing Syria struggle in the face of difficulties and challenges to which it is exposed.

The Ministerial committee charged with preparing for launching the national dialogue, headed by al-Halqi, met on Monday with Ghassan al-Qalaa, chairman of the Union for Chambers of Commerce and a number of businessmen and industrialists. Read more.


- Syria ready to talk with armed opposition: Muallem - PressTV
Syria FM hints at talks with armed rebels (video) - Al jazeera

Syrian opposition says it will attend Rome talks - PressTV

Michael Parenti | The U.S. war on Yugoslavia

Talk by Michael Parenti on The ''U.S.'' War on Yugoslavia given May 16, 1999 in Seattle, WA.

Mass protests erupt across Bulgaria

Tens of thousands rally nationwide to demand cap on rising power bills, higher wages and end to government corruption.

Tens of thousands of people have taken to the streets across Bulgaria to protest against corruption and the country's rising cost of living. Read more.

Al Jazeera

Sofia Paralyzed by Protests, Bulgarian Patriarch Ceremony - Novinite
Bulgaria's President Becomes the Messenger amid Mass Social Protests - Novinite

The Brussels Business

German version | French version | English trailer


Israel sends message to Turkey: Let’s clear the air

According to government officials, Israel sent Ankara messages over the last two weeks that is is interested in creating a more “positive dynamic” in its relationship with the country; Kerry expected to raise issue in Ankara.

Israel sent messages to Ankara over the last two weeks that it is interested in creating a more “positive dynamic” in its badly strained relationship with Turkey so the two countries can work together to further common interests, government officials said Sunday. Read more.


Dozens injured in West Bank clashes over prisoner death

RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- Dozens of Palestinians were injured Sunday including two shot with live bullets at demonstrations across the West Bank to protest the death of a Palestinian in Israeli custody.

At least 26 protesters sustained wounds from rubber and live bullets during clashes near Ofer prison, west of Ramallah, medics said. Read more.


- Minister: Autopsy shows torture killed Jaradat - Ma'an
Autopsy Unable to Determine Cause of Terrorist Prisoner's Death - Arutz Sheva

- Prisoner issue and settler violence drive escalation of West Bank protests - +972
- Analysis: W. Bank disturbances not intifada, yet - JPost

Maliki: Certain Actors Attempt to Bring Baathists back to Power in Iraq

TEHRAN (FNA)- Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki warned that certain groups are making collective attempts to bring back the former Baath Party to power.

"This wave of sectarianism associated with a wave of terrorism has returned to Iraq, but we will not open a new page for it again and we will not allow cancelling the political process and the return of the criminal Baathists," Maliki said, addressing an audience in Southern Iraq. Read more.

Fars News

Maliki's Advisor Blasts Qatar for Interference in Iraq's Political Process - Fars News
Maliki vows to fight sectarianism in Iraq - Islam Times

Iran delegation in Almaty for P5+1 talks

The Iranian delegation for talks with the P5+1 group arrives in the capital of Kazakhstan.

The delegation arrived in Almaty on Sunday for the talks, which are due to kick off on Tuesday. Read more.


Iran hopes P5+1 enter nuclear talks with "new strategy, valid proposals": nuclear negotiator - Xinhua
- West claims on Iran nuclear program, propaganda: Analyst (video) - PressTV

- Iran designates 16 new power plant locations (video) - PressTV

US wants Iran to stop using euro, ECB under pressure

The European Central Bank is under pressure from US lawmakers over financial relations with the Iran. The legislators are masterminding a bill aimed at preventing the ECB doing any business with Tehran and keeping it from using the euro.

The measure is more pressure by the US over Iran's nuclear program. Read more.


U.S. lawmakers target ECB to stop Iran from using euros - Reuters

Iran, India set to forge closer parliamentary relations: Larijani

Iran Majlis Speaker Ali Larijani says Iran and India are determined to promote closer inter-parliamentary cooperation.

On Sunday, Larijani described India as one of the leading players in the region, which has had long-standing parliamentary relations with Iran. Read more.


- Iran, India relations historical: Speaker - IRNA
India’s oil imports from Iran rise by 3.7pc in Jan - The News

Pakistan reaffirms resolve on Iran gas pipeline in spite of US

Despite repeated US objections, Pakistani Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf says Islamabad is determined to proceed with the implementation of a pipeline project carrying Iranian gas to Pakistan.

“Pakistan is facing a serious energy crisis and we want to end it as soon as possible,” Ashraf told reporters on Saturday. Read more.


Iran offers furnace oil, LPG for Pakistan’s energy needs - Tehran Times
Economic sanctions main reason of Pakistan’s low trade with Iran - The News

- Pakistani analyst calls for further boosting Iran-Pakistan energy cooperation - IRNA

February 24, 2013

Major power breakdown hits many cities

KARACHI: A major power breakdown hit the country this midnight when Tarbela and Mangla power plants tripped suddenly, triggering countrywide electricity shutdown, SAMAA reports.

All major cities including Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad, Hyderabad, Quetta, Larkana and several others were without electricity as a result of the breakdown. Read more.


Karzai give US forces 2 weeks to leave Wardak

KABUL (PAN): The National Security Council (NSC) has given American Special Forces two weeks to leave central Maidan Wardak province, President Hamid Karzai’s chief spokesman said on Sunday.

Addressing a news conference in Kabul, Aimal Faizi said that a number of Afghans had also been seen within the framework of the US Special Forces, which had been accused by local residents and officials of harassing the people. Read more.


- Afghan President Karzai ends U.S. Special Forces operations in key province - The Washington Post
Nearly 10,000 NATO soldiers to remain in Afghanistan as trainers: Pentagon - Afghanistan Times

US forces remaining in Afghanistan will prove ineffective: Michael Maloof (video) - PressTV

Govt again invites Taliban to negotiation table: Malik

ISLAMABAD: Interior Minister Rehman Malik again inviting Taliban to the negotiating table said if Taliban announce their negotiating team we are ready for talks.

Talking to the media persons here on Saturday Malik said that it seems when Taliban feel they are losing their ground they come up with the offer of dialogue. Read more.


War no solution to terrorism: Zardari - PakTribune

War no solution to terrorism: Zardari

ISLAMABAD: President Asif Ali Zardari on Friday called for unity and harmony among the people to address the challenges of extremism and terrorism and stressed that war was no solution to terrorism.

Addressing the concluding session of the national conference on interfaith harmony, titled "Living together with diversity – Interfaith and inter-cultural dialogue",.. Read more.


Govt again invites Taliban to negotiation table: Malik - PakTribune

In Syria, new influx of weapons to rebels tilts the battle against Assad

ANTAKYA, Turkey — A surge of rebel advances in Syria is being fueled at least in part by an influx of heavy weaponry in a renewed effort by outside powers to arm moderates in the Free Syrian Army, according to Arab and rebel officials.

The new armaments, including anti-tank weapons and recoilless rifles, have been sent across the Jordanian border into the province of Daraa in recent weeks to counter the growing influence of Islamist extremist groups in the north of Syria by boosting more moderate groups fighting in the south, the officials say. Read more.

The Washington Post

US attempts to overthrow unfriendly governments: Caleb Maupin (video) - PressTV
US in mad dash to save Syria opposition conference - Times of Israel

Portuguese Socialist Party says austerity a disaster

Lisbon, Feb 23 (EFE).- The head of the Portuguese Socialist Party, Antonio Jose Seguro, said Saturday that austerity measures have totally failed in the country and that the time has come to say enough to the "troika."

According to the party's secretary general, the "austerity policy of 'it costs whatever it costs'" enforced by the government "has been a complete failure" and the country is suffering as a result.



Over 40 arrested, dozens hurt in Spain after protest

More than 40 people have been arrested and dozen others injured during disturbances following a massive protest in Spain’s capital. 

After the Saturday rally, Madrid police reported riots around the city’s Atocha train station, where 45 people, including nine minors, were arrested. Read more.


- Spanish police arrest 45, including 9 minors, after large anti-austerity protest; 40 injured - The Washington Post
- Spaniards rise up to shield their basic economic rights: Ian Williams (video) - PressTV

Takeover & Torture: Police brutality levels back to days of dictatorship in Egypt

Egypt's president Mohammed Morsi has called parliamentary elections for April, struggling to calm the ongoing protests and street violence engulfing the country.

The opposition's accusing Morsi of backtracking on reform promises and hijacking the revolution. Rights groups are reporting widespread police abuse and torture, resulting in the death and detention of minors. Bel Trew has been investigating for RT.


- Brotherhood leader calls on Shura Council to discuss torture - Egypt Independent
- Is torture on the rise under President Mohamed Morsi? - Ahram

Wist je dat? Ontluisterende feiten over de oorlog in Mali

De interventie in Mali gebeurt zogenaamd in het kader van de strijd tegen terreur. Maar er is veel meer aan de hand. Rebellen werden getraind door de VS en de ondergrond bevat blijkbaar veel meer dan zand en zout. Op de achtergrond verschijnt China in het vizier.

De ondergrond
Officieel ging het bij de Franse interventie in Mali om het stuiten van de opmars van jihadi terroristen en niet om de grondstoffen van het land. Lees meer.

De Wereld Morgen

Hague to discuss US position on Falklands’ referendum with Kerry

Foreign Secretary William Hague will discuss the United States' position on the Falkland Islands with Secretary of State John Kerry following reports that Washington will not recognise the result of next month's referendum.

The vote next March 10/11 is expected to underline the Islanders' determination to remain a British Overseas Territory in response to Argentina's claims over sovereignty. Read more.


Cuba's Fidel Castro meets Russian PM

HAVANA, Feb. 22 (Xinhua) -- Former Cuban leader Fidel Castro met with visiting Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev on Thursday after the two countries signed 10 accords on bilateral cooperation in areas such as education, health, hydrometeorology, aeronautics and space fields, official daily Granma reported Friday.

Castro, 86, and Medvedev, 47, talked about the signing of important economic agreements between the two countries and other international issues, such as the world food situation and the adverse effects of the climate change. Read more.


Cuba: Agreements with Russia to Strengthen Alliance - Argentina Independent

President Hugo Chavez treated for respiratory distress

Venezuelan Vice President Nicolas Maduro said on Friday that President Hugo Chavez is still breathing through a tracheal cannula, however he can communicate perfectly through different ways like writing, and he has given precise instructions to his political team.

Mr. Maduro also said President Chavez has an extraordinary spirit. "He is smiling and with bright and vibrant eyes, with an immense willpower," he said.


- Venezuelans hold vigil for Chavez (video) - CNTV

Colombia president threatens to end peace talks with FARC

AFP - President Juan Manuel Santos, frustrated over a lack of progress in peace negotiations with leftist FARC rebels, threatened Saturday to abandon bilateral talks to end their nearly 50-year old conflict.

"As long as we make progress we'll be satisfied, but if we do not make progress we'll leave the negotiating table," Santos said at a public event in the town of Santa Barbara, in the northwestern department of Antioquia. Read more.


- No military or verbal truce for FARC rebels, Santos says - Buenos Aires Herald
Colombia govt has obstructed peace process: FARC - Colombia Reports

- FARC Urges Govt to Carry Out Alternative Census on Land in Colombia - Prensa Latina
- FARC leader urges Colombia to save talks - Al Jazeera

February 23, 2013

Turkish government eyes PKK ceasefire as the first step for peace

In the second phase of the ongoing peace process the Turkish government has sought a permanent ceasefire with the outlawed Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK) beginning with the disarmament of PKK militants, Turkish media reported Feb 23 ahead of a visit by three Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) deputies to jailed PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan.

“Our goal is [to convince] the PKK to lay down and bury its arms,” said Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s chief advisor Yalçın Akdoğan in an interview with daily Habertürk. Read more.


- Erdogan: PKK terrorist organization must lay down arms - AA
- Öcalan foreshadows release of PKK captives, expresses hope that they ‘join their families’ - Hürriyet

BDP delegation travels to İmralı to meet with PKK chief - Today's Zaman
- Is There a Turkish Kurdistan? - Kurd Net

Merkel favours 'new chapter' in Turkey's EU-bid talks

German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Saturday said she is in favour of opening up a "new chapter" in talks related to Turkey's bid to join the European Union, saying that even though she remains sceptical, discussions need to move forward. "We conduct negotiations without the result being fixed in advance.

These negotiations have stalled a little recently and I am in favour of opening a new chapter in these talks so we can advance," Merkel said in her weekly video message, but added "a long path of negotiations lies ahead of us". Read more.


- Merkel’s visit to strengthen ties, but has its limits - Today's Zaman

Turkish, Dutch and German defense ministers survey Patriots in Adana

Ministers visited 10th Tank Base Command in Incirlik base where Patriot system was deployed.

ADANA Turkish National Defense Minister Ismet Yilmaz, German Defense Minister Thomas de Maiziere and Dutch Defense Minister Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert surveyed on Saturday Patriot air defense systems which were installed in Turkey's southern Adana province. Read more.


- Turkish police disperse pro-Syria demo in Hatay - PressTV

Jabhat al-Nusra Claims Responsibility for Terrorist Bombing in Aleppo

DAMASCUS, (SANA) - The terrorist group "Jabhat al-Nusra" claimed responsibility for the terrorist bombing which targeted al-Hayat Hospital in Aleppo last year, claiming the lives of more than thirty citizens in addition to causing dozens of injuries and severe material damage.

A video clip broadcast by a number of extremist websites affiliated with Al Qaeda showed the stages of preparing the car bomb.. Read more.


Al Nusra: Al Qaeda's Syria Offensive - The Daily Beast

No political solution to Syrian conflict, says SNC member

Saleh Mubarak, member of the Syrian National Council - which is part of the Syrian National Coalition, spoke to Al Jazeera on the suspension of talks by the Syrian Coalition.

Mubarak says the decision behind this is the frustration of the Syrian people and representatives of Syrian people, who is the Coalition, with the international community for not doing anything towards lack of any response from the regime.

He said that there is no political solution to Syrian conflict.

Al Jazeera

- Syrian opposition slams international ‘silence’ - France24
- Syria opposition to boycott upcoming talks (video) - Al Jazeera

- Britain urges Syrian opposition not to ‘give up’ on talks - Al Arabiya
- SNC decides to form a government which would administer "freed regions" - AA

Fighting continues in northern Mali desert

Tuareg militias on Saturday fought to wrest control of Mali’s northern desert region from Islamist rebels, while French forces were expected to receive support from US Predator drones in their northwards offensive.

Tuareg militias battled Arab rebels in northern Mali Saturday, while French jets, US drones and Chad's elite desert forces were also in action in a major push to stamp out resistance from pockets of Islamist fighters. Read more.


- Heavy casualties in northern Mali fighting - Al Jazeera

Hollande: eindstrijd Mali begonnen - NOS
Wist je dat? Ontluisterende feiten over de oorlog in Mali - De Wereld Morgen

Civil disobedience in Port Said enters seventh day

The workers in Port Said's marine shipyard, the employees of transport companies and the management of the Suez Canal Movement Authority, all declared on Saturday, the seventh day of civil disobedience, that they will join the disobedience, saying they will not be secluded from the demands of the people of Port Said.

An Aswat Masriya eyewitness said that civilians closed all the customs ports and prevented the entry and exit of all cars except for the ambulances. Read more.

Aswat Masriya

Military police deploys in Port Said, Qandil orders January clashes probe - Ahram
- Tahrir Square remains closed after Friday protests - Egypt Independent

Egypt President brings forward parliamentary elections - Ahram
- ElBaradei calls for boycott of parliamentary elections - Ahram

Tunisian secularists protest against new Islamist PM

(Reuters) - Thousands of Tunisians protested on Saturday against the new prime minister-designate Ali Larayedh, a hardliner from the main Islamist Ennahda party.

President Moncef Marzouki asked Larayedh to form a government on Friday, in the aftermath of the February 6 assassination of secular opposition politician Chokri Belaid. Read more.


- Peaceful march in Habib Bourguiba Avenue - TAP
- Tunisians hit the streets trying to bring down the government (video) - Al Arabiya

Protesters Denounce Delay in Case of Assassinated Opposition Leader - TunisiaLive
Coalition to be extended from three to five parties (Ghannouchi) - TAP

Spaniards hold citizens' tide' of protests

Rallies nationwide target "financial markets coup" while king's son-in-law appears in court to face corruption charges.

Spaniards angered by budget cuts and corruption scandals have assembled in cities across the country in a "citizens' tide" of protests. Read more.


UK loses top AAA credit rating for first time since 1978

The UK has lost its top AAA credit rating for the first time since 1978 on expectations that growth will "remain sluggish over the next few years".

The ratings agency Moody's became the first to cut the UK from its highest rating, to Aa1. Read more + video.


Senator says 4,700 killed in US drone strikes

WASHINGTON: A US senator has said an estimated 4,700 people, including some civilians, have been killed in the contentious bombing raids of America's secretive drone war, local media reported Wednesday.

It was the first time a lawmaker or any government representative had referred to a total number of fatalities in the drone strikes, which have been condemned by rights groups as extra-judicial assassinations. Read more.


- Senator Lindsey Graham estimates US drone strikes have killed 4,700 - Global Post

Revolutionary poet Josh Malihabadi being remembered

KARACHI: Urdu’s revolutionary poet Shabbir Hassan Khan, popularly known as Josh Malihabadi is being remembered on his 31st death anniversary today on Friday, SAMAA reported.

Born on 5th December 1898 in Malihabad, British India, he adopted the name Josh and later Josh Malihabadi. Read more.


Qadri urges people to be ready for polls and revolution both

MULTAN: Pakistan Awami Tehrik (PAT) and Minhaj-ul-Quran Chief Dr. Tahir-ul-Qadri has urged the people to be ready for polls and revolution both, as he will announce his decision on March 17 in Rawalpindi, SAMAA reports.

Tahir-ul-Qadri addressed a public rally at Multan Sports Stadium and delivered his fervent speech while insisting that people should remain ready for elections and revolution both in near future. Read more + video.


- The systematic extermination of Hazaras - Dawn.com
- PTI's Imran Khan supports Shiite leades' demand of army takeover in Quetta - The News Tribe

- PTI to spend Rs2.5 trillion on education sector: Imran - Dawn.com

Fifty-three Civilians Martyred, 235 Others Injured in Terrorist Bombing in al-Thawra Street in Damascus

DAMASCUS,(SANA)- Fifty-three civilians were martyred and 235 others were injured so far in a terrorist bombing which took place on Thursday morning in al-Thawra Street in the surrounding of al-Mazraa neighborhood in Damascus.

In a statement, the Ministry of Health pointed out that 53 martyrs and 235 wounded people were admitted to the public and private hospitals, noting that these numbers may increase due to the critical conditions of some injured people. Read more.


- Syria: Rockets hit Aleppo, killing at least 29 - SAMAA
Infiltration Attempt Foiled in Homs, Terrorists Targeted in Idleb and Damascus Countryside - SANA

SNC decides to form a government which would administer "freed regions" - AA
- Syria rebels plan transitional gov't, seize nuclear center - JPost

Syria opposition to boycott upcoming talks - Al Jazeera
‘No military victory for any side in Syria’ – UN peace envoy (video) - RT

February 22, 2013

Syrian children dream of returning to their homes

MAFRAQ — Standing outside a refugee shelter near the Jordanian-Syrian border earlier this week, Mohammad Adnan could not believe he had left his "beloved home and friends" behind in Syria.

"I argued with my parents and told them I did not want to abandon my friends, but they convinced me to escape the violence at home and move to Jordan" the 17-year-old told The Jordan Times as he carefully guarded his family's luggage. Read more.

Jordan Times

Syrian refugees pour south to Jordan in nightly exodus - Arutz Sheva
- UNHCR: At Least 305,753 Syrian Refugees Currently in Lebanon - Naharnet

- British envoy praises Turkey for sheltering Syrians - AA

NATO agrees to expand military exercises

Defense ministers of NATO agreed Alliance should hold major live exercise in 2015.

BRUSSELS | NATO will get prepared for new possible threats with great military exercises after the transition of the country to full Afghan security responsibility. Read more.


Anders Fogh Rasmussen, NATO Chief, Says Defense Cuts Could Compromise Safety - Huff Post

The shift in global arms trade

As a study shows a fall in the international arms trade, we ask how it will affect the armed conflicts across the world.

The Middle East's biggest arms show opened at the International Defence Exhibition (IDEX), in Abu Dhabi, where 80 companies from 15 countries are displaying their products. Read more.


U.S. troops arrive in Niger to set up drone base

President Obama announced Friday that about 100 U.S. troops have been deployed to the West African country of Niger, where defense officials said they are setting up a drone base to spy on al-Qaeda fighters in the Sahara.

In a letter to Congress, Obama said about 40 U.S. military personnel arrived in Niger on Wednesday, bringing the total number of troops based there to “approximately” 100. Read more.

The Washington Post

Pentagon Suspends F-35 Flights Due to Engine Blade Crack

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Pentagon on Friday suspended the flights of all 51 F-35 fighter planes after a routine inspection revealed a crack on a turbine blade in the jet engine of an F-35 test aircraft in California.

It was the second grounding of the warplane in two months and marked another setback for the $396 billion F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program, the Pentagon's biggest weapons program. Read more.

NY Times

Haniyeh: Interference in Palestinian affairs impedes unity

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Gaza Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh on Friday blamed external intervention in Palestinian affairs for hindering national reconciliation.

"We started to see a new wave of external interventions in the Palestinian decision-making process aimed at impeding the ongoing reconciliation efforts," Haniyeh said after Friday prayers at Khan Younis mosque in southern Gaza. Read more.