Hope2012


INTERNATIONAL NEWS ROUND-UP

IRAN

The Coming Uncertain War Against Iran (Global Research 3/21/08)
Operation Merlin II (Antiwar.com 3/8/08)
A great summary of the back and forth over Iran’s alleged weaponizations programmes
Drumbeat for War with Iran Resumes (BBC 3/24/08)
EXCERPTS: “The most senior US general in Iraq has said he has evidence that Iran was behind Sunday’s bombardment of Baghdad’s heavily fortified Green Zone. Gen David Petraeus told the BBC he thought Tehran had trained, equipped and funded insurgents who fired the barrage of mortars and rockets. He said Iran was adding what he described as “lethal accelerants” to a very combustible mix…In an interview with BBC world affairs editor John Simpson, Gen Petraeus said violence in Iraq was being perpetuated by Iran’s Quds Force, a branch of the Revolutionary Guards. “The rockets that were launched at the Green Zone yesterday, for example… were Iranian-provided, Iranian-made rockets,” he said, adding that the groups that fired them were funded and trained by the Quds Force.
“All of this in complete violation of promises made by President Ahmadinejad and the other most senior Iranian leaders to their Iraqi counterparts.”
Switzerland to sign huge Iran gas deal (Jerusalem Post 3/17/08)
Swiss on Iran gas deal: “Bern does not need US permission” (PressTV, Iran 3/18/08)

PAKISTAN – AFGHANISTAN

Dozens of NATO oil tankers destroyed on Pakistan-Afghanistan border (DPA 3/23/08)
US steps up strikes in Pakistan (Reuters/Yahoo 3/27/08)
Another US strike in Pakistan’s border region (WSWS 3/19/08)
EXCERPT: “An air strike on Sunday on a compound in the Pakistani tribal area of South Waziristan that borders Afghanistan has left up to 20 people dead. While Washington has not acknowledged responsibility, there is little doubt that the US military or the CIA carried out the attack as part of a widening covert war against anti-American militants entrenched in the Pakistani border areas. Up to seven missiles or bombs flattened the compound just south of the regional centre of Wana at around 3 p.m. “When I heard the explosions, I rushed to the place where it happened. I saw dead bodies scattered everywhere,” a villager Aziz Ullah Wazir told the Washington Post. Local residents and officials claimed that the house belonged to a Taliban sympathiser, Noorullah Wazir, and was frequented by “Arabs”—the term used to denote foreign supporters of the Taliban and Al Qaeda. Veteran journalist Sailab Masood told the Guardian, however, that local tribesmen were angry that innocent civilians had been killed.”

CHINA

US engineer gets 24 years for exporting military data to China (AFP/Yahoo 3/24/08)EXCERPT: “A Chinese-born US engineer convicted of conspiring to smuggle sensitive technology about US Navy submarines to China was on Monday jailed for 24 years, justice officials said. Chi Mak, who worked for a US company with several Navy contracts, was convicted last May of trying to export intelligence about silent submarines in a plot that involved four members of his family.”
China & the West in Midst of Cyberwar (American Free Press 3/31/08)
Chinese hackers: We hacked Pentagon (CNN 3/7/08)
China declares 2008 defense spending to rise 17% (AFP/Yahoo 3/4/08)
EXCERPT: “Jiang said China’s military spending was just 1.4 percent of its gross domestic product last year, compared with 4.6 percent in the United States and three percent in Britain. And although Jiang did not highlight it, China’s official budget for 2008 remained about 10 times less than the nearly 600 billion dollars US President George W. Bush proposed for US defence and military spending this year.”

AFRICA

Brunei: “Future-proofing” the economy (Economist 3/19/08)
Panel alleges Nigeria corruption (BBC 3/18/08)
“The government of former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo paid $50m (£25m) to non-existent companies”
Congo Resource Wars (Global Research 3/12/08)
This report examines the current war and genocide in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which started in the mid-1990s, placing emphasis on the roles of Western covert operations, corporations and the plundering of resources that has resulted.”
Kenya’s Emerging Indy Media (Alternet 3/27/08)
US wants 26,000 strong Darfur force (AP/Raw Story 3/5/08)
One man’s personal mission to end slavery in Mauritania (Washington Post 3/23/08) 
EXCERPT: “The ancient tradition of slavery endures in Mauritania, although it was officially abolished in the 1980s. There are roughly half a million slaves among the country’s population of 3.3 million, and at least 80 percent do not have access to a formal education, Messaoud said. Many remain illiterate… In March 2007, Sidi Ould Cheikh Abdellahi was elected president of Mauritania after negotiating with a bloc of freed slaves and pledging to enforce new legislation criminalizing slavery. Parliament endorsed the bill, which became law in August 2007… [Boubacar Messaoud, founder of anti-slavery group SOS Slaves in 1995], has been jailed three times for his activism, said slavery also persists in Niger, Senegal, Mali and other sub-Saharan African countries.”

ISRAEL & PALESTINE

Rafah Today – Daily Life in Palestine
Palestinians call drones deadly weapons (AP/Yahoo 3/3/08)
EXCERPT: “Palestinians say they know when an Israeli drone is in the air: Cell phones stop working, TV reception falters and they can hear a distant buzzing. They also know what’s likely to come next — a devastating explosion on the ground. Palestinians say Israel’s pilotless planes have been a major weapon in its latest offensive in Gaza, which has killed nearly 120 people since last week…Dr. Mahmoud Assali, a Palestinian physician who works in the emergency room of a northern Gaza Strip hospital that has often treated Palestinian gunmen hit by Israeli drones, said “The drone has a zone of around 15 meters (50 feet) where it decimates everything. It targets people and leaves them in pieces”.
US & Israel stage four-day training exercise (Int’l Herald Tribune 3/20/08)
EXCERPT: “The Israeli military said Thursday that around 200 U.S. and Israeli officers had staged a computer-based battle simulation designed to improve coordination between the two countries’ armed forces. The four-day exercise, codenamed “Juniper Falcon” was part of a standing agreement between the two strategic allies to hold regular joint training to boost “interoperability, understanding and cooperation” a military statement released on Thursday said. The statement stressed that the exercise, which ended on Wednesday, had been planned a year in advance and was not related to actual events.”

CENTRAL & SOUTH AMERICA

The Raid On Ecuador: Underestimating Rafael Correa (Fidel Castro via CounterPunch 3/5/08)
Did US mercenaries bomb the FARC base in Ecuador, almost sparking a regional war? (Dissident Voice 3/24/08)
EXCERPT: “As diplomatic and military fallout from the March 1 Colombian raid into Ecuador escalate regional tensions, allegations from Ecuadorean sources link the unprovoked attack to the U.S. Manta airbase and charge the American mercenary firm DynCorp with piloting the planes that killed FARC commander Raúl Reyes and 24 others. According to investigative journalist Kintto Lucas: “A high-level Ecuadorean military officer, who preferred to remain anonymous, told IPS that “a large proportion of senior officers” in Ecuador share “the conviction that the United States was an accomplice in the attack” launched Mar. 1 by the Colombian military on a FARC… camp in Ecuador, near the Colombian border. “Since Plan Colombia was launched in 2000, a strategic alliance between the United States and Colombia has taken shape, first to combat the insurgents and later to involve neighbouring countries in that war,” said the officer. “What is happening today is a consequence of that.”
Chiquita sued over deaths of missionaries (Reuters/Yahoo 3/12/08)
Monsanto’s Raid in Brazil: Resisting Agrofuels and Biotech (CounterPunch 3/22/08)EXCERPTS: “On March 7th-International Women’s Day-dozens of Brazilian women occupied a research site of the U.S.-based agricultural biotechnology giant Monsanto in the state of São Paulo, Brazil, destroying the greenhouse and experimental plots of genetically-modified (GM) corn. Participants, members of the international farmers’ organization La Vía Campesina, stated in a note that the act was to protest the Brazilian government’s decision in February to legalize Monsanto’s GM Guardian® corn, which came just weeks after the French government prohibited the corn due to environment and human health risks.” …
“Hours before the decision by the Brazilian government to legalize commercialization of Guardian® corn on February 12th, Brett Begemann, executive vice president of global commercial business for Monsanto, told investors at Goldman Sachs in New York that the company’s 40% share of the Brazilian corn seed market “serves as a foundation” for the introduction of the corn , “once approved by Brazilian officials.” Begemann also highlighted that Monsanto’s GM Roundup Ready® soybean seeds account for 55% of total soybean acres planted in Brazil this season, and that the company expects 90% penetration of the country’s soybean seed market by the end of the decade.”
“Begemann did not, however, mention that the expansion of Monsanto’s GM crops into Brazil has been accomplished illegally. In January, the Brazilian minister of science and technology acknowledged that GM soybeans and cotton were legalized only after they had already been smuggled into and planted in the country by large farmers.6 Various civil society organizations and social movements claim that Monsanto participated in this process illegally through fait accompli.7 Monsanto began legally selling and collecting royalties for Roundup Ready® soybean seeds in the country in the 2003-04 growing season. In May 2003, about 800 people occupied the company’s research station in Ponta Grossa, Paraná, destroying several hectares of GM crops and the laboratory. The MST occupied the site for over a year. Roundup Ready® soybean seeds are genetically engineered to resist glyphosate, the world’s most commonly used herbicide and the primary ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup®. Glyphosate has been shown to cause reproductive problems in rats, including spontaneous abortions, and liver damage.8 Begemann boasted that Roundup® could deliver up to $1.4 billion in profits for Monsanto in 2008, due to higher acreage planted to Roundup Ready® soybeans.”

OTHER

Russia says ‘nyet’ to US missile system (BreitBart 3/18/08)
Bush offers military help to Kosovo (AP/Raw Story 3/19/08)
Croatia and Hungary recognize Kosovo (BBC 3/19/08)
Sri Lanka criticized over ‘disappeared’ (BBC 3/6/08)
EXCERPT: “Sri Lanka’s government is one of the world’s worst perpetrators of enforced disappearances, US-based pressure group Human Rights Watch (HRW) says. An HRW report accuses security forces and pro-government militias of abducting and “disappearing” hundreds of people – mostly Tamils – since 2006.”
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