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Saturday, August 27, 2011

MFS - The Other News

                        Morning Posting.

  • Updated !Earthquakes in the last 24 hours in the world seismic activity in Mongolia: 5.4 and Fiji 5.1! More info here.

  • Japan : For the most accurate info on the nuclear disaster go to : Paul Langley's Nuclear History Blog.Here.
  • Hurricane Irene : Latest Updates here , more here.Update : Two forecast models give a more land inwards track.
Hurricane Irene : danger to North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, New York, and the rest of the New England coast. Irene is capable of inundating portions of the coast under 10 - 15 feet of water, to the highest storm surge depths ever recorded.I strongly recommend that all residents of the mid-Atlantic and New England coast familiarize themselves with their storm surge risk‏.Read the full warning here.

  • Algeria suicide bomb attack hits military academy.(BBC).A suicide bomb attack on a military academy in Algeria has killed 18 people, officials say.The attack took place in the town of Cherchell, about 100km (60 miles) west of the capital Algiers.One or two bombers set off their explosives just after the breaking of the Ramadan fast, reports said.No group has said it carried out the attack. It comes 12 days after a suicide car bombing of a police station in Tizi Ouzu wounded 29 people.That attack was claimed by the Islamist group Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), which is active in the region.It was not clear how many of those killed in the latest attack were military. A hospital source told Reuters news agency 16 soldiers had been killed and two civilians.Political violence has subsided since the 1990s when more than 150,000 were killed after the 1992 election, won by an Islamist party, was annulled.Read the full story here.

  • Was Qaddafi spotted fleeing?Six Armored Mercedes cars enter Algeria from Libya.(AlArabiya).A convoy of six Mercedes cars have crossed from Libya into Algeria, Egypt’s state MENA news agency reported on Saturday, quoting a rebel source.It was impossible to verify the report and it was not immediately clear who might have been in any convoy, but MENA quoted the source as speculating that senior Libyan officials or Muammar Qaddafi himself and his sons may have fled the country.“It is believed that these vehicles were carrying senior Libyan officials, and possibly Qaddafi and his sons,” MENA quoted the source as saying.Algerian officials were not immediately reachable for comment.The agency quoted the source from the rebel Military Council in the city of Ghadamis, on the Algerian border, as saying that the convoy of armored cars crossed the frontier on Friday morning protected by the commander of a desert nomadic military unit that had apparently operated under Colonel Qaddafi.The source was quoted as saying the rebels were unable to chase and stop the convoy.Libyan rebels said on Friday they were close to capturing Col. Qaddafi, who has disappeared after his Bab al-Aziziya bastion fell to the rebels on Tuesday.Algeria’s Foreign Ministry denied on Friday that it was linking any recognition of Libya’s rebel National Transitional Council (NTC) to a commitment from the council to crack down on Islamist militants.A government source in Algeria had told Reuters on Thursday that it would not yet grant recognition to the NTC, and that it wanted to be certain that Libya’s rulers were engaged in fighting al-Qaeda’s north African wing.Read the full story here.

  • Updated - Algeria denies Mercedes convoy carrying Qaddafi entered from Libya.(AlArabiya).Algeria’s Foreign Ministry denied on Saturday a report that a convoy of six Mercedes cars, suspected of carrying top figures of the ousted Libyan regime, had crossed its border from Libya.Egypt’s state MENA news agency had quoted a source from the rebel Military Council in the border city of Ghadames as saying the convoy of armored cars crossed the frontier on Friday morning protected by the commander of a desert nomadic military unit that had operated under Muammar Qaddafi.The agency quoted the source as saying that the convoy may have been transporting senior Libyan officials or even Qaddafi himself.“This information (about the convoy entering Algeria) has no basis and we categorically deny it,” Algeria’s state APS news agency quoted a Foreign Ministry spokesman as saying.Libya’s rebel leader Mustafa Abdel Jalil said on Saturday the National Transitional Council (NTC) has no concrete information on the location of Qaddafi Rebel fighters who took control of the Libyan capital this week say Qaddafi and his sons are in hiding and have offered a $1.3 million reward and amnesty from prosecution for anyone who kills or captures him.A spokesman for the rebel council dampened speculation that Qaddafi might be holed up in Sirte.“He probably won’t be in Sirte because Sirte is landlocked from three sides and (there is) the sea from the other. There is no way for him to get away,” said the spokesman, Shamsiddin Abdulmolah.“There is a possibility he is still in the Tripoli area. But if not he’s more likely to be near the Algerian border because Algeria has still not recognized the NTC.”The rebel council is under pressure to establish its authority in Tripoli quickly and deal with a breakdown of public services that followed the collapse of Qaddafi’s rule.Corpses are rotting outside hospitals, garbage is piled up in the streets, and many people have no water.Asked when the NTC would move to the capital from its base in Benghazi, eastern Libya, Abdulmolah said: “Most of the executive committee is already over there now in Tripoli.But he said the question of when Abdel Jalil, a former justice minister under Qaddafi, would transfer to Tripoli, would depend on security considerations.Read the full story here.

  • Abbas: We won't recognize Israel as Jewish state.(Ynet).Palestinian leader defiant ahead of UN statehood bid, urges international community to back off.The Palestinian Authority will not be recognizing Israel as a Jewish state, PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas said Saturday, adopting a belligerent tone ahead of his planned statehood bid in September. The Palestinian leader also criticized demands made by the International Quartet of his Authority, urging the international community to back off. "Don't order us to recognize a Jewish state," Abbas said. "We won't accept it."Speaking earlier Saturday, Abbas adopted a more moderate tone, saying that the PA's bid for UN recognition, planned for September, is not meant to isolate Israel or prompt a conflict with the United States.Responding to the Palestinian leader's defiant message, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said the statement "reveals the true nature of the September motion: A Palestinian state to come in place of a Jewish state.""Countries around the world must make it clear to Abbas that the only way the Palestinians will be able to have a state is by stopping their attempt to destroy the only Jewish state in the world," Lieberman said.The foreign minister has adopted a tough attitude against the PA as of late, most recently blasting Ramallah for what he called its leaders' empty rhetoric vis-à-vis terror.Following the recent terror offensive in southern Israel that left eight people dead, Lieberman said: "The events of recent days prove that the Palestinian rhetoric professing that they have abandoned terror in favor on diplomacy in as removed from reality as Ramallah is from the UN building in New York City."Meanwhile, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said a real solution to the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians can only be achieved through negotiations.Ashton was speaking Saturday ahead of talks with Palestinian officials and, later, with Israeli leaders.Hmmmmm.......The Grand Mufti Muhammed Amin al-Husseini and Hitler would be proud.Read the full story here.

  • Anti-psychotic drugs found in over-the-counter UK painkiller packs.(RawStory).Drugs regulators have launched an investigation after packs of the painkiller Nurofen Plus were found to contain antipsychotic drugs.The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) issued a safety alert following reports that some batches of Nurofen Plus contained individual blister packs of another drug, Seroquel XL 50mg.Packs from the three batches -- numbered 13JJ, 57JJ and 49JJ -- have been distributed across the UK and thousands could be affected.It is unclear how the mix-up could have happened, especially as Seroquel XL is manufactured by AstraZeneca, while Nurofen is made by Reckitt Benckiser. Neither company is ruling out the possibility of sabotage, media reports said.The MHRA warned anyone buying the painkillers to be extra vigilant, while pharmacists have been advised to check before selling packs of the over-the-counter drug.The large Seroquel XL 50 mg capsules can be identified by their gold and black packaging while the smaller Nurofen Plus tablets have silver and black packaging.Ian Holloway, from the MHRA's defective medicines report centre (DMRC), said: "People should check to see if they have any affected packets of Nurofen Plus. If you do, return them to the pharmacy where you bought them from. You can also report this to the MHRA?s DMRC on 020 3080 6574.If you have taken a tablet and you have any questions, speak to your GP.Reckitt Benckiser said there had been three cases identified so far, all within the south London area. Thousands more packets could potentially be affected."Serious investigations" are under way to establish how the mix-up occurred, a statement issued by the company said."After careful review of the manufacturing system, manufacturing errors by the makers of Nurofen Plus or Seroquel XL are not thought to be part of the cause at this stage."We are taking this matter very seriously and are working closely with the regulatory authority, the MHRA, and pharmacies."The MHRA are investigating the issue, and have considerable law enforcement powers."Seroquel XL is a prescription-only antipsychotic drug used to treat several disorders including schizophrenia, mania and bipolar depression, while Nurofen Plus is a pain relief drug containing codeine and ibufrofen.The three batches of the painkiller affected each contain between 4,000 and 7,500 packs, however not all the 32-tablet packs were affected.Read the full story here.

  • An Amazing Indictment of Obamanomics: Banks That Don’t Want Deposits.(Cato).By Daniel J. Mitchell.Here’s a Bloomberg story that provides what may be the most damning evidence that the President’s big government agenda is a failure:U.S. regulators have asked some banks to take more deposits from large investors even if it’s unprofitable, and lenders in return are seeking relief on insurance premiums and leverage ratios, according to six people with knowledge of the talks.Deposits are flooding into the biggest U.S. banks as customers seek shelter from Europe’s debt crisis and falling stock prices. That forces lenders to raise capital for a growing balance sheet and saddles them with the higher deposit insurance payments. With short-term interest rates so low, it’s hard for financial firms to reinvest the new money profitably.…At least one firm, Bank of New York Mellon Corp., tried to recoup some of the costs by charging depositors 13 basis points, or 0.13 percent, for holding unusually high balances.Let’s think about what this article is really saying. Banks normally make money by attracting deposits and then lending that money to people and businesses that have productive uses for the funds.Yet the economy is so weak that banks are leery of taking more money. The story is complicated by other factors, including capital flight from Europe, taxes (or premiums) imposed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, and various regulatory issues. But even with these caveats, it’s still remarkable that banks want to turn down money — or charge people for making deposits. That’s sort of like McDonald’s turning away customers because the firm loses money by selling Big Macs and french fries. Or, better yet, like McDonald’s turning away free goods from suppliers because not enough people want to buy the final product.Hmmmm.......Help!... Save me People are depositing money?Read the full story here.

  • Report: U.S. warns Palestinians it will halt aid - Obama regime replies "No need to worry".(Politico).American officials are dismissing a top Palestinian leader’s claims on Friday that the U.S. warned it will take “punitive measures” and cutoff aid if the Palestinians move forward on their statehood bid. Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat released a statement Friday quoting U.S. Consul General in Jerusalem Daniel Rubinstein as saying the U.S. would veto the statehood recognition resolution at the United Nations Security Council in September and would stop aid if Palestine continued to seek statehood at the full General Assembly meeting. “The American Congress will take punitive measures against the Palestinian Authority including halting American assistance,” Erekat quoted Rubinstein as saying, according to the Associated Press. The U.S. currently grants Palestinians $470 million in an annual aid package. “The U.S. sees no benefits from the Palestinian efforts to get membership at the U.N. and it’s better to reach peace agreements through negotiations,” Erekat quoted Rubinstein as saying. “If the Palestinian Authority insists on going to the Security Council, then the U.S. will use the veto.” The U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem released a statement in response on Friday, saying that the quotes attributed to Rubinstein were not accurate. “While we cannot get into private diplomatic discussions, this report is not an accurate portrayal of the U.S position, nor did Consul-General Rubinstein make the comments reported in the media,” the statement said. The consulate did not offer any additional details on Erekat’s claims. “As President Obama has made clear, initiatives through the U.N. will not bring about the two-state solution and enduring peace which both parties and the U.S seek, therefore we continue to oppose initiatives by the Palestinians in the U.N. There is no substitute for serious and substantive negotiations between the parties, and that remains our focus,” the statement added.Hmmmm......Congress doesn't exist anymore for the "emperor" and he won't veto the bill?Read the full story here.

  • Video - Horror scenes at Tripoli hospital.(BBC).More than 200 decomposing bodies have been found abandoned at a hospital in a district of the Libyan capital, Tripoli, that has seen fierce fighting.A BBC correspondent found corpses of men, women and children on beds and in the corridors of Abu Salim's hospital.Doctors and nurses fled after clashes erupted nearby between rebel forces and those loyal to Col Muammar Gaddafi.Some residents accused the regime of murdering those at the hospital, but it is not yet clear how exactly they died.Meanwhile, rebel forces faced stiff resistance as they advanced on Sirte, Col Gaddafi's birthplace and the town regarded as his last stronghold.Rebel commanders said they were consolidating their frontline at the oil port town of Ras Lanuf, after withdrawing from positions nearer Sirte to put themselves out of range of rockets fired by pro-Gaddafi forces.The UK said its planes carried out an overnight missile attack on a large command-and-control bunker in Sirte.There was also intense fighting near Tripoli's international airport.In the west, the rebels took control of the Ras Jidir border crossing with Tunisia after regime loyalists fled, and then raised the pre-Gaddafi, green, red and black Libyan flag, witnesses said.The BBC's Wyre Davies in Tripoli says the scene at the hospital in Abu Salim was one of the most appalling and distressing he had ever seen.Around the hospital, on trolleys and in corridors, there were hundreds of dead people - men, women and children, our correspondent says. It is not known exactly who they were, but some were civilians, some fighters, some apparently African mercenaries, he adds. Residents said some had been alive when they were brought to the hospital, albeit with very bad injuries. Others had already died.However, the hospital was closed because nearly all medical staff had fled the fighting, and the people were left there to die, they added.The AFP news agency reported that the hospital was occupied by pro-Gaddafi snipers on Saturday, and that it was only on Thursday after days of intense fighting that it was secured by the rebels.The father of a 10-year-old boy who was shot in the back near Col Gaddafi's compound said he had to lie in the heat for almost a week with no help, while the stench of decomposing bodies grew around him."My son was wounded outside Bab al-Aziziya, but we didn't know where he had been taken," he told AFP. "It's the first time I've seen him in five days. But today we have got him back.The boy was one of 17 survivors taken away for treatment by the Red Cross, one of whose workers described the conditions as "dreadful".Osama Bilil, one of the doctors, told the BBC: "These bodies have been here in the hospital for five days. Nobody has taken care of them - to bring them to the mortuary, to identify them, to bury them.""We need help. It is very urgent. There is no government here. We need professional help, from the International Red Cross, because there has been a massacre in Abu Salim," he added.Our correspondent says the stench was appalling. People were trying to clean up some of the mess and return the hospital to normality, but that was an impossible task because of the sheer number of bodies, he adds.Human rights group Amnesty International earlier said it had evidence that both pro-Gaddafi forces and the rebels had abused detainees.Guards loyal to Col Gaddafi raped child detainees at Abu Salim prison, Amnesty said. It also accused rebels of beating prisoners, including a boy conscripted by Gaddafi forces who surrendered to the rebels at Bir Tirfas.The UN is to investigate reports of summary killings and torture through its existing commission of inquiry on Libya. It has previously said some reports could amount to war crimes or crimes against humanity.Read and see the full story here.

  • Iran, Syria, Interests and Liabilities.(Nervana).How far is Iran willing to go in order to save the Assad regime from crumbling?No one can truly answer this question; in fact, I think even Assad may not know the answer for sure. it is certainly true that Syria is Iran’s strategic gateway to the Arab world and it’s link with other proxy groups in Lebanon and Gaza. However,The recent events in Syria pose a serious challenge to the complicated relationship between the two countries and will probably expose its strengths and weakness.Looking back at the past few years may give us some clues about the mindset of both regimes and how united they are at crisis time. While the world was watching closely for a possible Israeli air strike on Iran nuclear facilities, an interesting debate (particularly in Israel) surfaced about the nature of the relationship between Assad ‘s regime and Iran.Read the full story here.

  • Ahmadinejad: No place for Israel in region.(Ynet).The creation of a universally-recognized Palestinian state would be just a first step towards wiping out Israel, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Friday. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's comments reflect his typical anti-Israeli rhetoric; He drew international condemnation when he said in 2005 that Israel should be "wiped off the map."He spoke at a ceremony Friday following nationwide pro-Palestine rallies marking Quds Day. The annual demonstration is an occasion for Iranian officials to show their support for Palestinians and condemn Israel. Ahmadinejad says establishment of a Palestinian state should be the first step in the liberation of entire Palestine. Iran's Islamic leadership is hostile to Israel and backs anti-Israel groups like Palestinian Hamas.Ahmadinejad, restating a position expressed soon after taking office in 2005 that Israel was a "tumor" to be wiped off the map, urged Palestinians not to settle for a two-state solution that is backed by Abbas but to strive for a complete return of what they consider their land."Recognizing the Palestinian state is not the last goal. It is only one step forward towards liberating the whole of Palestine," Ahmadinejad told worshippers at Friday prayers."The Zionist regime is a center of microbes, a cancer cell and if it exists in one iota of Palestine it will mobilize again and hurt everyone." Any move for Palestinian statehood at the United Nations is likely to be vetoed by the United States, but even if it were to pass and Israelis and Palestinians found a way to co-exist, that would still be entirely insufficient, Ahmadinejad said. "It is not enough for them to have a weak, powerless state in a very small piece of Palestine. They should unite to establish a state but the ultimate goal is the liberation of the whole of Palestine," he said."I urge the Palestinians never to forget this ideal. Forgetting this ideal is equal to committing suicide. It would be giving an opportunity to an enemy which is on the verge of collapse and disappearance."Hmmmm.......How long before Erdogan repeats the same thing? Read the full story here.

  • Antisemitic Articles in the Egyptian Government Press: Jews are Descendants of Apes and Pigs. Protocols of the Elders of Zion are Being Realized in Today's Middle East.(Memri).Addressing recent developments in the region, the Egyptian government press recently published articles employing antisemitic motifs. One of the articles attributed the recent uprisings in the Arab states to a Jewish plot for world domination, as described in the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Another article, written in the wake of the August 18, 2011 attacks on the Egyptian-Israeli border, called not to sign any agreements with the Jews, characterizing them as "the descendants of apes and pigs" who cannot be trusted.Hmmm.....Egypt....The 'people' the Obama administration is supporting financially and military.Read the full story here.

  • Afghan Editor Condemns the Custom of Dancing Boys, Says: '[Boys] of Ages 15 to 20 are Normally Dressed in Women's Clothes, Dancing All the Night, Then Abused by Several Men'.(Memri).In a recent report, senior Afghan journalist Musa Khan Jalalzai drew attention to the custom of Afghan dancing boys and their sexual exploitation by powerful and wealthy warlords in the country. The report notes that the custom has become a status symbol in Afghanistan."A shameless business of teenage rape or Bacha-bazi has brought disgrace and shame to Afghan society. The tradition of teenage rape is an old tradition in northern and southern provinces. The tradition has roots in Afghan history. President Hamid Karzai, in his recent statement, warned that rapists should face 'the country's most severe punishment. "The interior ministry has failed to arrest powerful rapist warlords in northern Afghanistan, as the police administration has long been involved in many illegal businesses like drug trafficking, prostitution, and playboys. Corruption in the Afghan justice system is another problem. Courts are helpless before war criminals. Judges are the most corrupt people, who bail out or release criminals and receive millions in Afghan currency."Local residents now have demanded for a crackdown against these elements, but are skeptical because criminals are powerful and well-armed. War criminals have representation in Afghan parliament and in government institutions. Why did this illegal business take deep roots after the fall of the Taliban regime in 2001? Afghan men of letters understand that both unemployment and poverty are the main motivators for the revival of the business of Bacha-bazi in Afghanistan. Recruitment of young and beardless beautiful boys is in progress."Powerful and wealthy warlords in northern Afghanistan, according to press reports, recruit young boys for sex and dance, while local authorities remain powerless in stopping the practice. Bacha-bereesh [boys] of ages 15-20 are normally dressed in women's clothes, dancing all the night, then abused by several men.""This is an established fact that a boy without beard and [is] smart normally becomes a status symbol for his master. Mohammad Zaher Zafari, head of the Northern Branch of the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission, hopelessly said: 'Sexual abuse and even the sale of boys has been going on for years; the boys involved are usually poor, underage or orphans, and they are forced into it by their economic circumstances."Another senior official, Hafizullah Khaliqyar, head of the prosecutor's office for Baghlan province, complains that teenage boys are forced to dance. 'They are sexually abused, and they are even bought and sold. Fights take place over these Bacha-bereesh. It's increasing day by day, and it's catastrophic,' he said.""A local Afghan reporter, Sayed Yaqub Ibrahimi, recently interviewed some warlords saying that they play with dogs, boys, and love teenage girls. 'Some men enjoy playing with dogs, some with women. I enjoy playing with boys,' warlord Allah Daad told Ibrahimi. After the fall of the Taliban regime in 2001, Bacha-bazi increased tremendously and is still on the rise."In the past, Afghans were ashamed of it and trying to hide it, but nowadays, nobody feels shame and they openly enjoy this shameless business. Religious scholars condemn the custom, which they count as one of the most sinful acts possible. Afghan ulema [Islamic scholars] are of the opinion that making boys dance and sexually abusing them is not allowed in Islam. Maulana Ghulam Rabbani of Takhar province understands that those involved in it need to be punished."Local officials in northern provinces of Afghanistan admit the practice is prevalent but show no specific interest to intercept it. The authorities are in much dismay about the police officers' involvement in this business. Members of Afghan police in various provinces are deeply involved in male prostitution. The interior ministry in Kabul has received thousands of complaints from locals regarding the police sexual attacks on young boys.""Keeping in view their sexual needs, in December 2010, WikiLeaks cables reported [that] U.S. company DynCorp had spent money on pimps who purchased young boys for Afghan policemen. The boys were used in Bacha-bazi. This shameless practice has also prompted the Defense Department of the United States to hire a social scientist, Anna Maria, to investigate the problem, as several U.S. soldiers on patrol often passed older men walking hand-in-hand with pretty young boys."Reuters, in its November 19, 2007 report and Revolutionary Association of Women in Afghanistan [RAWA], quoted a 42-year-old landowner, Inayatullah, of Baghlan province as saying, 'Having a boy has become a custom for us. Whoever wants to show off should have a boy.' In his short interview with Reuter's reporter, Mr. Inayatullah vowed: 'I was married to a woman 20 years ago; she left me because of my boy,' he said. 'I was playing with my boy every night and was away from home. Eventually my wife decided to leave me. I am happy with my decision, because I am used to sleeping and entertaining with my young boy,' He told Reuters."A recent U.S. State Department report assessed the situation bluntly, saying that it amounts to a 'widespread, culturally sanctioned form of male rape.' The majority of Afghans have no knowledge of their country's law about male prostitution. All kinds of prostitution are illegal under the Afghan law. In Afghan society, the victims of rape and assault – both male and female – are sometimes persecuted rather than the criminals who abuse them."There are thousands of young boys who have undergone ordeals. But the actual numbers of these vulnerable boys are not known. In Kabul, Kandahar, Mazar-e-Sharif, Kunduz, Takhar, Baghlan, Samangan, Panjshir, and Herat bazaars, Bacha-bazi CDs and DVDs are widely circulated serving an audience who can't afford the real thing."Read the full story here.

  • Turkey - Man allegedly kills wife in İzmir for filing for divorce.(TodaysZaman).A man reportedly killed his wife in İzmir after learning that she had filed for a divorce while staying in a women’s shelter citing his alleged domestic abuse as the reason, according to a Cihan news agency report.When Y.B. (34) went to Ürkmez to visit her 3-year-old-daughter, her husband, H.B. (40), blocking the doorway, allegedly refused to let her leave unless she agreed to drop the divorce case. An argument broke out between the two, after which H.B. reportedly stabbed his wife in front of their daughter. Y.B. was taken to Seferihisar State Hospital, where she subsequently died. Close friends of the wife said the husband had constantly assaulted her. One time H.B. took a razor and carved his first and last name into his wife’s back, the friends claimed. While Yeşim B. stayed in a woman’s shelter in İstanbul, her five children -- between the ages of 3 and 15 -- were cared for in orphanages.Hmmmm.......'Dishonor' killings another reason to Keep Turkey out of the European union.Read the full story here.

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