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Friday 23 December 2011

Oil Heads for Biggest Weekly Gain in Two Months on U.S. Economy, Iran

Oil Heads for Biggest Weekly Gain in Two Months on U.S. Economy, Iran

Oil headed for its biggest weekly gain in almost two months in New York after U.S. economic reports indicated that growth in the world’s biggest crude consumer will accelerate.
Futures rose as much as 0.6 percent after advancing 0.9 percent yesterday as U.S. initial jobless claims dropped to the lowest level since April 2008. Leading indicators climbed more than forecast in November, and consumer sentiment improved this month. Oil supplies fell the most in a decade last week, the Energy Department said Dec. 21.
“There’s better economic news, slightly better sentiment out of the U.S., and that obviously has a big impact on crude- oil prices,” said Gavin Wendt, senior resource analyst at Mine Life Pty in Sydney.
Crude for February delivery was at $99.87 a barrel, up 34 cents, in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange at 1:28 p.m. Singapore time. The contract yesterday rose 86 cents to $99.53, the highest settlement since Dec. 13. Prices are up 6.7 percent this week, the biggest gain since the period ended Oct. 28. Futures have climbed 9.3 percent this year after increasing 15 percent in 2010.
Brent oil for February was trading at $107.80 a barrel, down 9 cents, on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange. The European contract’s premium to Nymex crude was $7.90 a barrel, compared with a close yesterday of $8.36 that was the smallest differential since March 8. The spread surged to a record $27.88 on Oct. 14.
U.S. Economy
U.S. initial unemployment claims fell by 4,000 to 364,000 last week, Labor Department figures showed yesterday. The Conference Board’s gauge of the outlook for the next three to six months rose 0.5 percent, versus a median forecast of 0.3 percent in a Bloomberg survey. The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan final index of consumer sentiment increased more than expected in December.
Crude may rise next week on speculation that sanctions against Iran could curb supply from the world’s third-largest oil exporter, a separate Bloomberg survey showed.
Twelve of 32 analysts, or 38 percent, forecast oil will gain through Dec. 30. Ten respondents, or 31 percent, predicted prices will drop and 10 estimated there will be little change. Oil is up 26 percent this quarter, the biggest gain since the second quarter of 2009.

Iran Sanctions

The European Union and the U.S. are seeking support from the Middle East and Asia for sanctions to increase pressure on Iran to abandon a suspected nuclear weapons program. Iran’s navy will hold 10 days of maneuvers east of the Strait of Hormuz, state-run Fars news agency reported yesterday, citing Navy Commander Habibollah Sayari.
“If there are sanctions, that will be supportive,” said Jeremy Friesen, a commodity strategist at Societe Generale SA in Hong Kong. “If there is a response by Iran or if tensions escalate then that would be even more supportive.”
About 15.5 million barrels of oil a day, or a sixth of global consumption, flows through the waterway between Iran and Oman at the mouth of the Persian Gulf, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Sayari said Iran’s military has the capability to “control” the strait, according to a second Fars report. Whether it chooses to close the channel “depends on the decision of Iran’s higher officials,” he said.
EU foreign ministers are scheduled to meet next month to discuss sanctions. Iran, which exports more crude than any nation except Saudi Arabia and Russia, denies trying to develop nuclear weapons.

U.S. announces $10 million bounty on key al-Qaeda financier eluding a six-year capture in Iran

U.S. announces $10 million bounty on key al-Qaeda financier eluding a six-year capture in Iran

By Reuters Reporter

Last updated at 4:21 AM on 23rd December 2011
Wanted: The U.S. has offered $10 million for information leading to the arrest of Ezedin Abdel Aziz Khalil or Yasin al Suri who is an Iran-based senior financier of Al Qaeda
Wanted: The U.S. has offered $10 million for information leading to the arrest of Ezedin Abdel Aziz Khalil or Yasin al Suri who is an Iran-based senior financier of Al Qaeda
The United States on Thursday established a reward of up to $10 million for information leading to Yasin al-Suri, accused of operating from Iran as a facilitator and financier for al-Qaeda.
The bounty is the first offered for an al-Qaeda financier and is aimed at disrupting a financial network that has operated from within Iran's borders since 2005, said Eytan Fisch, a senior Treasury Department official.

Robert Hartung, a senior State Department official, said that under an agreement between al-Qaeda and the government of Iran, al-Suri had helped move money and recruits through Iran to al-Qaeda leaders in neighboring countries.

Hartung said al-Suri, who is originally from Syria, also was known as Ezedin Abdel Aziz Khalil.


The U.S. Treasury Department in July blacklisted al-Suri and five other members of his network, exposing what the United States says are direct links between Tehran and the al-Qaeda network.
Leaders: While the former al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, right, has been killed, the group's number two deputy Ayman al-Zawahri, left, is still at large at a price tag of $25 million
Leaders: While the former al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, right, has been killed, the group's number two deputy Ayman al-Zawahri, left, is still at large at a price tag of $25 million
Hartung said al-Suri's network serves as an important conduit for channeling both money and fighters from around the Middle East to al-Qaeda leaders in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq.
'He is a dedicated terrorist working in support of al-Qaeda with the support of the government of Iran,' Hartung said.
'As a key fundraiser for the al-Qaeda terrorist network, he is a continuing danger to the interests of the United States.
'Since 1984 the U.S. Rewards for Justice program has paid more than $100 million to more than 70 people who provided credible information that either prevented terrorist attacks or helped bring accused terrorists to justice, the State Department's Hartung said.

Iran Navy to Hold War Games Near Crucial Sea Lanes

Iran Navy to Hold War Games Near Crucial Sea Lanes

Iran put neighbors on notice Thursday that it was about to conduct vast naval exercises in the Arabian Sea, including war games near the Strait of Hormuz, a vital shipping lane for international oil traffic.
The exercises, to start Saturday and last 10 days, are Iran’s first since May 2010 and were described by the official news media as the largest the country ever planned. The scale of the maneuvers appeared intended to demonstrate Iran’s military capabilities as it faces increased isolation over its suspect nuclear energy program.
The exercises are bound to put Iranian warships close to vessels of the United States Fifth Fleet, based in Bahrain, which patrols some of the same waters, including the Strait of Hormuz.
About one-third of the world’s oil tanker shipments pass through the strait, which the United States Energy Information Administration has called “the world’s most important oil chokepoint.”
Oil prices rose in reaction to the news from Iran as well as violence and political instability in Iraq, which caused worries about possible supply disruptions. At the New York Mercantile Exchange, the benchmark oil contract for February delivery cost $99.53 a barrel at midday, up from $98.67 on Wednesday.
Rear Adm. Habibollah Sayyari, the commander of Iran’s navy, said at a news conference in Tehran that the exercises would cover a large area from the east side of the strait in the Gulf of Oman, south and west through the Arabian Sea to the Gulf of Aden near the Horn of Africa.
Iran’s semiofficial Fars News Agency quoted Admiral Sayyari as telling reporters that the exercises were intended to show “Iran’s military prowess and defense capabilities in the international waters, convey a message of peace and friendship to regional countries, and test the newest military equipment.”
Admiral Sayyari was also quoted as saying that “the newest missile systems and torpedoes will be employed in the maneuvers,” and that “destroyers, missile-launching vessels, logistic vessels, drones and coastal missiles will also be tested.”
Lt. Rebecca Rebarich, a spokeswoman for the Fifth Fleet headquarters in Manama, Bahrain, said in an e-mail that the fleet command was aware of the reports from Iran.
“The U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet interaction with the regular Iranian Navy continues to be within the standards of maritime practice, routine and professional,” she said.
Iran periodically conducts military drills and missile tests, but the scale and timing of these naval exercises are noteworthy. They come at a time when Iran feels increasingly besieged over its nuclear program, which it insists is purely peaceful.
Last month, the United Nations’ nuclear monitoring agency issued a report raising the possibility that Iran has been working on a nuclear weapon and missile delivery system. The United States, European Union and Israel have said a nuclear-armed Iran is unacceptable, and Israel in particular has hinted at a pre-emptive military strike at suspected nuclear targets in Iran.
The United Nations Security Council has issued four rounds of sanctions to penalize Iran for not halting its nuclear work. The United States, Canada and European Union have imposed their own sanctions on Iran that have targeted a range of industries and the banking system.
This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:
Correction: December 22, 2011

An earlier version of this article misspelled the given name of the commander of Iran’s navy as Habibibollah.

Strong Earthquakes Rattle NZ's Christchurch

Strong Earthquakes Rattle NZ's Christchurch
A series of strong earthquakes struck the New Zealand city of Christchurch on Friday, rattling buildings, sending goods tumbling from shelves and prompting terrified holiday shoppers to flee into the streets. There was no tsunami alert issued and the city appeared to have been spared major damage.
One person was injured at a city mall and was taken to a hospital, and four people had to be rescued after being trapped by a rock fall, Christchurch police said in a statement. But there were no immediate reports of serious injuries or widespread damage in the city, which is still recovering from a devastating February earthquake that killed 182 people and destroyed much of the downtown area.
The first 5.8-magnitude quake struck Friday afternoon, 16 miles (26 kilometers) north of Christchurch and 2.5 miles (4 kilometers) deep, the U.S. Geological Survey said. Minutes later, a 5.3-magnitude aftershock hit. About an hour after that, the city was shaken by another 5.8-magnitude temblor, the U.S.G.S. said, though New Zealand's geological agency GNS Science recorded that aftershock as a magnitude-6.0. Both aftershocks were less than 3 miles (5 kilometers) deep.
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center did not issue an alert.
The city's airport was evacuated after the first quake and all city malls shut down as a precaution.
About 60 people were treated for minor injuries, including fractures, injuries sustained in falls and people with "emotional difficulties," Christchurch St. John Ambulance operations manager Tony Dowell told The Associated Press.
"We have had no significant injuries reported as a result of the earthquakes today," he said.
Warwick Isaacs, demolitions manager for the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority, said most buildings had been evacuated "as an emergency measure." The area has recorded more than 7,000 earthquakes since a magnitude-7.0 quake rocked the city on Sept. 4, 2010. That quake did not cause any deaths.
Rock falls had occurred in one area and there was liquefaction — when an earthquake forces underground water up through loose soil — in several places, Isaacs told New Zealand's National Radio.
"There has been quite a lot of stuff falling out of cupboards, off shelves in shops and that sort of thing, again," he said.
Isaacs said his immediate concern was for demolition workers involved in tearing down buildings wrecked in previous quakes.
"It ... started slow then really got going. It was a big swaying one but not as jolting or as violent as in February," Christchurch resident Rita Langley said. "Everyone seems fairly chilled, though the traffic buildup sounds like a beehive that has just been kicked as everyone leaves (the) town (center)."
The shaking was severe in the nearby port town of Lyttelton, the epicenter of the Feb. 22 quake.
"We stayed inside until the shaking stopped. Then most people went out into the street outside," resident Andrew Turner said. "People are emotionally shocked by what happened this afternoon."
Around 26,000 homes were without power in Christchurch, after the shaking tripped switches that cut supplies, Orion energy company CEO Rob Jamieson said.
"We don't seem to have damage to our equipment," he said. "We hope to have power back on to those customers by nightfall."
Hundreds of miles of sewer and fresh water lines have been repaired in the city since the February quake.
One partly demolished building and a vacant house collapsed after Friday's quakes, police said.
Central City Business Association manager Paul Lonsdale said the quakes came at the worst possible time for retailers, with people rushing to finish their Christmas shopping.
Despite the sizable quakes, there was no visible damage in the central business district, where 28 stores have reopened in shipping containers after their buildings were wrecked by the February quake, he said.
"Hopefully tomorrow we'll be feeling a little bit better again and restoring our faith in the will to live and to stay in Christchurch," the city's deputy mayor, Ngaire Button, told National Radio.

North Korea Warns South to Show ‘Respect’ for Kim Jong-il

North Korea Warns South to Show 'Respect' for Kim Jong-il

SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea urged South Korea on Friday to "show proper respect" over the death of its leader, Kim Jong-il, calling the South's decision to express sympathy for the North Korean people but not to send a government delegation to Mr. Kim's funeral next week "an unbearable insult and mockery of our dignity."
The statement, carried on the North's official Web site, was the new Pyongyang leadership's first overture to South Korea since it announced on Monday that Mr. Kim died of heart attack last Saturday.
Mr. Kim's sudden death and the untested leadership of his son and heir, Kim Jong-un, have set off a frenzy of analysis in the region over where the North Korean regime was headed under the young successor and how its neighbors should deal with it.
"The South's authorities must think about the grave impact its actions will have on North-South relations," the North Korean statement warned. "Depending on what it does, the relations can thaw or completely derail."
It said North Korea will open its closed border with the South to accept all condolence delegations from South Korea, both private and governmental. It also guaranteed their safety.
Choi Boh-seon, a South Korean government spokesman, said the South did not plan to revise its decision. "We announced what we would do, based on the past, present and future of South-North relations and the sentiments of our people," he said.
A day after Mr. Kim's death was announced, South Korea offered its "condolences to the North Korean people," hoping that Seoul and the new leadership in Pyongyang could "work together for peace and prosperity on the Korean Peninsula." But it said it would not send a delegation to Mr. Kim's funeral on Dec. 28.
South Korea, however, authorized visits to the North by the families of the late President Kim Dae-jung, who held a landmark summit meeting with Mr. Kim in 2000, and the late Hyundai chairman, Chung Mong-hun, who had business ties with North Korea. It also said that private organizations and individuals would be permitted to mail or fax condolences, including a foundation named after the late President Roh Moo-hyun, who held a summit with Mr. Kim in 2007.
In South Korea, religious and civic groups have called on the government to allow them to lead delegations to Mr. Kim's funeral. They argued that such visits would help improve relations and promote political reconciliations between the two Koreas. But other activist groups denounced such ideas, sending giant balloons to the North that carried messages like "Go to hell, Kim Jong-il" or "Why send condolences to the Evil?"
Under President Lee, inter-Korean relations have chilled to the lowest point in years, particularly after a South Korean warship sank in March last year in an explosion the South blamed on a North Korean torpedo attack. The North later shelled a South Korean border island. In the two incidents, 50 South Koreans were killed.

Syrians to rally against Arab League mission

Syrians to rally against Arab League mission
DAMASCUS — Syrian pro-democracy activists plan to rally after midday prayers Friday against an Arab League observer mission they say will stall tougher action against the government over its opposition crackdown.
An Arab League advance team arrived in Syria Thursday to oversee a plan to end nine months of bloodshed as the opposition accused regime forces of "massacring" hundreds in two days.
But using the slogan "Protocol of death, a licence to kill", activists called on Facebook for nationwide protests against the mission.
Opposition leaders have charged that Syria's agreement to the mission was a mere "ploy" to head off a threat by the Arab League to go to the UN Security Council.
"We call on the Arab League to refer the matter of the crisis in Syria to the UN Security Council," said Omar Edelbi, spokesman for the Local Coordination Committees, which have been driving the protests on the ground.
He called the observer mission "another attempt by the regime to bypass the Arab initiative and empty it of its contents".
Even as the advance team arrived there was no let-up in the killing, with activists reporting at least 21 more people dead, and clashes between defectors and troops in the flashpoints of Homs and Idlib.
The observer mission is part of an Arab plan endorsed by Syria on November 2 that also calls for the withdrawal of the military from towns and residential districts, a halt to the violence and the release of detainees.
The advance team consists of a dozen security, legal and administrative staff from the Arab League's secretariat, who will make the logistical preparations for the arrival on Sunday of an initial 30 observers.
The mission's leader, veteran Sudanese military intelligence officer General Mohammed Ahmed Mustafa al-Dabi, said its numbers would swell to a total of between 150 and 200 in the following days.
Their task will be to monitor the "cessation of violence on all sides, and to ensure the release of detainees arrested in connection with the current crisis," according to the text of the protocol.
The Enough Project, a non-governmental organisation, on Thursday condemned the fact that the mission is headed by a general it said was in charge of the Sudanese intelligence agency when "genocide" was committed in Darfur.
The opposition Syrian National Council charged Wednesday that regime forces had killed 250 people in 48 hours in the run-up to the advance team's arrival.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights released a grisly video to back its claim that security forces committed a massacre Tuesday in the town of Kafer Awid in northwestern province of Idlib.
The video zooms in on the faces of at least 49 men, some of them completely disfigured, before panning out to what appear to be rows of corpses.
In Berlin, the foreign ministry said it had summoned Syria's ambassador to demand an immediate halt to the "brutal" repression of anti-regime demonstrators.
On Thursday, nine people were killed in the central city of Homs, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said, adding the number could rise given the "high number of wounded in critical condition."
In Idlib, security force gunfire killed four civilians, the Observatory said, and there were clashes between security forces and defectors in the town of Kharbet-Ghazale.
An attack carried out by defectors in retaliation for the previous day's killing of eight civilians, including a 10-year-old child, left one soldier and eight others wounded in the same province.
Further south in Daraa, the cradle of the uprising, "a civilian was killed in the town of Tafas during raids by security forces searching for activists."
Elsewhere, four soldiers and two defectors were killed in clashes in a checkpoint in Baba Amro.
Foreign Minister Walid Muallem has said he expects the observers to vindicate Damascus's claims that the unrest has been caused by "armed terrorist groups," not peaceful protesters as maintained by Western governments and human rights watchdogs.
Muallem has said the observers will be able to access so-called "hot zones" but not sensitive military sites. Human Rights Watch called on Damascus to grant full access.
The United Nations estimates that more than 5,000 people have been killed in the regime's crackdown since mid-March.
In New York, France said "significant progress" had been made at a UN Security Council meeting on Syria.
There were tensions at the meeting, however, with Russia renewing demands for an inquiry into NATO airstrikes in Libya in a move US ambassador Susan Rice called "a cheap stunt" to divert attention from the Syria crisis.
Russia and China have already vetoed one resolution proposed by European countries condemning Syria. Russia, which accuses the West of seeking regime change in Syria, last week proposed a new text that the European countries say is not tough enough on President Bashar al-Assad.
State news agency SANA claimed Thursday more than 2,000 members of the security forces had been killed since anti-government protests erupted in March.

Pakistan rejects US air strike deaths report

Pakistan rejects US air strike deaths report

Pentagon spokesman George Little expressed the "deepest regret" for the loss of life
Pakistan has rejected the findings of a US report into an air strike on the Afghan border last month that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers.
The report concluded both sides had made mistakes, blaming poor information and inadequate co-ordination between US and Pakistani forces on the ground.
The Pakistani military said the report was "short on facts".
Pakistan closed its border with Afghanistan after the incident, cutting off vital Nato supply lines.
In a short statement, the Pakistani military said it did not agree with the findings of the report "as being reported in the media".
"The inquiry report is short on facts," it said.
The statement said the military would present a more detailed response "as and when the formal report is received".
Islamabad, a vital partner in the fight against militants in the region, has demanded a formal US apology.
In its report, the US military admitted it bore significant responsibility for the deaths in Mohmand tribal agency on 26 November, and expressed "deep regret" for the "tragic loss of life".

US-Pakistan downturn

  • 30 Sept 2010: Nato helicopters kill two Pakistani soldiers, prompting nearly two-week border closure in protest
  • 22 April 2011: Supplies to Nato forces in Afghanistan halted for three days in protest over drone attacks
  • 2 May: US announces Bin Laden's death and says Pakistan not warned of raid
  • 2 June: Top US military chief Adm Mike Mullen admits "significant" cut in US troops in Pakistan
  • 10 July: US suspends $800m of military aid
  • 22 Sept: Outgoing US Adm Mullen accuses Pakistan of supporting Haqqani militant group in Afghanistan; denied by Pakistan
"Inadequate co-ordination by US and Pakistani military officers operating through the border co-ordination centre - including our reliance on incorrect mapping information shared with the Pakistani liaison officer - resulted in a misunderstanding about the true location of Pakistani military units," it said.
"This, coupled with other gaps in information about the activities and placement of units from both sides, contributed to the tragic result."
In a news briefing later at the Pentagon, spokesman George Little said: "For the loss of life and for the lack of proper co-ordination between US and Pakistani forces that contributed to those losses we express our deepest regret.
"We further express sincere condolences to the Pakistani people, to the Pakistani government and, most importantly, to the families of the Pakistani soldiers who were killed or wounded."
The Defence Department has said lessons must be learned and that it hopes Pakistan and the US can work together to improve their mutual level of trust.
The BBC's Caroline Wyatt in Kabul says it appears from the report that Nato officials did not inform Pakistan of the operation in advance, after fears that the Pakistani military were leaking information to insurgents.
Pakistan responded furiously to the killings of its soldiers.
As well as shutting its border with Afghanistan, which Nato relies on heavily for deliveries of fuel, ammunition and other supplies, it also refused to attend the Bonn conference on Afghanistan earlier this month

Mullaperiyar: Auto strike in Coimbatore

Mullaperiyar: Auto strike in Coimbatore

Chennai: Commuters in Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu set to face the brunt of another strike as autorickshaws will be off the roads on Friday as a mark of protest, to condemn the Kerala government's stand on the Mullaperiyar Dam issue.
Kerala has been insisting on a new dam to replace the 116-year old Mullaperiyar dam over safety concerns, a position which Tamil Nadu, under whose control the reservoir comes, refuses to accept.
Meanwhile, in the five southern districts of Tamil Nadu fed by Mullaperiyar dam waters for irrigation, shops and business establishments downed shutters on Thursday in response to the bandh call given by traders' outfits and local chambers of commerce protesting Kerala's stand.
Mullaperiyar: Auto strike in Coimbatore
The shutdown was total in Madurai, Theni, Ramanathapuram, Sivaganga and Dindigul districts, police said, adding cinema houses also remained closed.

EC likely to announce poll dates for 5 states

EC likely to announce poll dates for 5 states


Mayawati-led BSP has already started the election campaign to fight anti-incumbency.

The Election Commission is likely to announce the poll dates for five states on Friday.
Though Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Manipur, Punjab and Goa are all scheduled to hold elections in 2012, all eyes would be on Mayawati's UP where anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare has urged the people not to vote for parties that oppose the Lokpal Bill.
The state is expected to have a five-phase election in the second half of February as the high school and board examinations have been scheduled for March.
Chief Election Commissioner S.Y. Quraishi, however, said on Wednesday that the panel can get the exams postponed if it affects the assembly poll schedule in the state.
The political parties seem to have already picked up the tab on early polls with senior leaders of all main outfits - Bahujan Samaj Party, Samajwadi Party, BJP and Congress - stepping up their campaign.
The parties have already begun the process of announcing their candidates for the 404 seats.

Raja ex-aide alleges threat to life; suspect is a Reliance clerk

New Delhi:
There was high drama in the special court hearing the 2G case today as Aseervatham Achary, a key witness and ex-aide of former telecom minister A Raja, claimed that he and his family faced a threat to their lives from a person present in court.
The alleged offender tried to run away, but was nabbed. He has been identified as Jai Prakash, who works as a clerk at the Reliance Power office in Sector 24, Noida.
The drama began at about 10.40 am. When Raja's counsel Sushil Kumar asked him why he had visited the CBI office on September 5, a visibly-shaken Achary told Special Judge O P Saini: "I want to submit something as my life depends on it and the lives of my wife and four-year-old daughter depend on it. I am in danger... The person who tried to kill me is just here in the courtroom."
As he spoke, a man wearing a green sweater and sitting with some of the accused in the case was seen making his way out of the court. But he was caught outside by a CBI inspector.;-sus.../891067/

Delhi Police arrests 2 Babbar Khalsa terrorists

New Delhi: The Delhi Police on Friday arrested two alleged Babbar Khalsa terrorists. The arrested have been identified as Sarvpreet Singh and Jaswinder Singh.
One of them has been arrested from Punjab and the other one from Shalimar Bagh in New Delhi.
The two are likely to be produced in court on Friday.
A senior police official said a team of Delhi Police's Special Cell apprehended the duo.
Investigators claimed that three politicians and religious leaders in Delhi were on their target.
(With additional information from PTI)

With eye on UP, Cabinet clears 4.5% quota for minorities; BJP cries foul

With eye on UP, Cabinet clears 4.5% quota for minorities; BJP cries foul

New Delhi:  The Election Commission is expected to announce dates for the Uttar Pradesh Assembly polls today. Hours before that, the Congress played a political ace, with the Union Cabinet clearing a 4.5 per cent sub-quota for minorities, under the 27 per cent quota reservation for Other Backward Classes (OBCs), in a Thursday night decision.
In Uttar Pradesh, where the Congress is aggressively trying to be number 1 again, the party has its eye on what had been a traditional votebank for many years, the Muslim voter. Rahul Gandhi, who has charge of resurrecting the party in the crucial state said, has travelled wide quoting the Sachar Committee report which says the Muslim community needs special attention. During a recent election tour of UP, Mr Gandhi said, "The Muslim community is the poorest and we are a party that takes everyone together on the path of development...We will bring a quota for them."
And here it is. Announced just before the model code of conduct kicks in with the announcement of election dates, the Congress will be hoping that this will be a key differentiator. The quota gives the Muslims and other minorities reservation in government jobs and admission to central educational institutions effective last night.
A significant 18.5 per cent of the UP electorate is Muslim and the Congress faces a tough contest from the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party in the tussle for that vote.
For the Samajwadi Party, this will be a blow. The Muslim vote forms a big part of Mulayam Singh Yadav's electoral agenda as he makes another desperate bid to win back the state. The party has been making all-out efforts to wrest back the Muslim vote and championing a separate quota has been part of that effort.
Then there is UP Chief Minister Mayawati, who hopes to grab that chair a fourth time, twice in succession. Mayawati plays the caste card with aplomb and along with her wooing of the Dalit and Brahmin vote, is doing her bit to try and grab the Muslim vote as well. Prominent by her side is Naseemuddin Siddiqui, a minister who, with more than 12 portfolios, is second only to her in the power that he wields.

Caught unawares, the BJP, which is also trying to better its political condition in UP, has cried foul. The party's Ravi Shankar Prasad said, "The BJP will strongly oppose such a move taken by the government which is based on caste system."
The Congress shrugs and points out that it is merely fulfilling a promise made in its manifesto.

Lokpal Bill is in, jury is out

Lokpal Bill is in, jury is out

New Delhi Virtually forced into drafting it, the government today introduced a bill in the Lok Sabha that aims to fight corruption via the Lokpal at the centre and Lokayuktas in the states, an unprecedented oversight body whose members are selected, and which is set to be dominated by members of the higher judiciary.
The singular theme emerging from the proceedings of the house today was the unease across the political establishment in dealing with a bill that virtually all were wary of. The provision for reservations for minorities in the Lokpal quickly became a minority vs majority issue and threatened to overwhelm the debate once it begins on December 27.
That's not all. Speaker after speaker in the Lok Sabha got up to question the "tearing hurry" in which the bill was being pushed through and the threats by Anna Hazare and his team as they prepare for yet another fast beginning the same day as the debate in the house.
Overriding all objections, minister of state in the PMO V Narayanasamy introduced, along with The Constitutional (116th Amendment) Bill, The Lokpal and Lokayuktas Bill, 2011, that includes the prime minister in its domain and binds the states to create Lokayuktas. The new legislation replaces the Lokpal bill introduced earlier.
Going by the applause RJD leader Lalu Prasad Yadav, CPI leader Gurudas Dasgupta and Shiv Sena leader Anant Geete evoked following their attacks on Anna Hazare and his tactics, the political class was visibly anti-Lokpal. This despite the fact that they had gathered to pass the bill under pressure from the very same Hazare.
Congress MPs who thumped their desks as Leader of the House Pranab Mukherjee defended the government move, cheered Lalu and Dasgupta. Even Geete drew applause from the treasury benches. Congress president Sonia Gandhi and party general secretary Rahul Gandhi repeatedly thumped their desks as Lalu and Dasgupta ridiculed Hazare — Dasgupta, without mentioning his name, said Hazare thought he was another "father of the nation" — and underlined the sovereignty of parliament.
"We are disappointed," said Leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj, and listed two objections. She said the provision for "not less than 50 per cent" reservation for SCs, STs, OBCs, women and minorities in the proposed nine-member Lokpal body — including the chairman — violated the Supreme Court ruling keeping the cap on 50 per cent.
The move for a religion-based reservation was "patently unconstitutional," she said. She said the portion dealing with state Lokayuktas struck at the federal structure because it was done under Section 253, which made it mandatory for states.
The Congress leadership, which initially had the minority reservation provision included in the draft bill, had changed its mind late last night. The provision was brought back following pressure from its allies. The party leadership was aware of the lack of constitutional backing for the move but the game was to go in for it, send a signal to its Muslim constituency and leave it to the BJP to oppose the move. If the court struck down the minority reservation provision, then so be it.
Mukherjee, however, put up a spirited show. He said that the introduction could be opposed only on the ground of "legislative competence" of the house. The finance minister said it should be left to the court to sit on judgment over the legislation. Claiming there was no duress, he told the house: "If you feel it is not necessary, we will not have it. Legislation is the domain of parliament. It is not made on the dharna manch or on the streets."
The members, Mukherjee said, were free to change the clauses in the bill or drop them. He said, "It is the constitutional responsibility of the house to pass a law. It is for the judiciary to pick holes... Let this house not assume the role of judiciary."
He reminded the members that the legislation had been on the anvil for 43 years. He said there had been an agitation (of Hazare) and another one was impending. The current events, according to him, could be traced back to April... Where is the question of duress? There is no undue haste."
The finance minister lost his cool and exclaimed "kaun whip diya" (who issued a whip) as Lalu referred to a supposed "whip" issued by the Congress to its members to back the bill. However, Sonia could be seen gesturing to Mukherjee to calm down and not join the issue. An unsparing Mukherjee also took a dig at Dasgupta and sought to know whose party chief (CPI general secretary A B Bardhan) had spoken from Hazare's platform.
Leaders of several parties, including Sharad Yadav (Janata Dal-U), Basudeb Acharia (CPM), Bhartruhari Mahtab (BJD), T K S Elangovan (DMK), M Thambidurai (AIADMK), Nama Nageswara Rao (TDP) and Geete (Shiv Sena), made it clear that the rights of states should not be encroached upon.
Lalu, Mulayam Singh Yadav (Samajwadi Party) and Asaduddin Owaisi (AIMIM) opposed the idea of bringing the prime minister under the purview of Lokpal.

Thursday 22 December 2011

Government says Iran blocked its website

Government says Iran blocked its website

LONDON | Thu Dec 22, 2011 2:15pm GMT
(Reuters) - Britain, which closed its embassy in Tehran last month after it was ransacked by protesters, said on Thursday that Iranian authorities had blocked its website aimed at Iran.
The move creates further tension between the two countries that regularly clash over Iran's nuclear programme.
Britain's Foreign Office said Iranian authorities had barred access to a Foreign Office website, "UK in Iran",
that carries information on British government policies and statements, including criticism of Iran's human rights record.
It said the website had been added to thousands of other Internet sites censored by Iranian authorities.
No comment was immediately available from Iran.
"This action is counter-productive and ill-judged. It will confirm to the Iranian people that their government is determined to block their access to information, and to conceal from them the international community's legitimate concerns about Iran's policies and behaviour," Foreign Secretary William Hague said in a statement.
"It will also make it harder for Iranian nationals to access information about visiting the UK. And it is further proof to the rest of the world (of) the Iranian government's dire record on freedom of speech and human rights in general," he said.
"This action will not deter Britain from continuing to engage with the Iranian people, including through the Internet."
Britain is one of six powers that have been dealing with Iran over its nuclear programme, which the West suspects is aimed at developing a nuclear weapon. Tehran insists its activities are peaceful.
Britain closed its embassy in Tehran and evacuated its staff last month after Iranian protesters ransacked offices and burned British flags in a protest over sanctions imposed by Britain.
Hague ordered the closure of Iran's embassy in London and expelled all its diplomats, saying the assault on the British embassy could not have happened without consent from Iranian authorities.
Iran warned then that Britain's closure of its embassy in London would lead to further retaliation.
The British embassy in Tehran was stormed days after London ordered British financial institutions to stop doing business with their Iranian counterparts or with the central bank of Iran.
EU foreign ministers are set to consider further sanctions against Iran, possibly including an oil embargo, next month.
(Reporting by Adrian Croft)

United Kingdom faces threat of break-up, warns civil service chief

United Kingdom faces threat of break-up, warns civil service chief

Outgoing cabinet secretary Sir Gus O'Donnell questions how long union can last amid growing calls for Scottish independence
Sam Jones and agencies,
Sir Gus O'Donnell
Sir Gus O'Donnell has warned that holding the United Kingdom together will be an 'enormous challenge'. Photograph: Dominic Lipinski/PA
Keeping the United Kingdom together over the next few years will be an "enormous challenge", Britain's most senior civil servant has warned in comments that were met with approval by Alex Salmond, the First Minister of Scotland.
Sir Gus O'Donnell, who is stepping down as cabinet secretary and head of the civil service on 1 January, used an article in the Daily Telegraph to question how long the union could survive amid growing calls for Scottish independence.
"Over the next few years, there will be enormous challenges, such as whether to keep our kingdom united," he writes.
The SNP administration in Scotland is committed to holding a referendum on independence before 2016 and Salmond has said he expects Scotland to become an independent country within the European community.
In response to the comments, Salmond said: "I have always regarded Sir Gus O'Donnell as a model civil servant, who has been extremely fair in recognising and respecting the democratic mandate of the Scottish government.
"Sir Gus is right to recognise the importance of the constitutional issue, and the SNP government are up for the challenge of building and winning the case for Scottish independence – unlike the Westminster parties, who seem to have their heads buried in the sand."
O'Donnell also uses the article to argue that the civil service needs to overcome its "cultural inertia" and take a leading role in driving economic recovery.
"It is not enough now for the civil service simply to respond to a dampened economic climate: it needs to become a central part of its recovery and growth," he writes.
The outgoing civil service chief also said he believes successive governments have been too quick to address problems with regulation and legislation.
He encourages ministers and civil servants to be more creative in solving problems, urging them to take more risks and have a "grown-up approach to failure".
The cabinet secretary said civil servants had risen to a challenge set out by the prime minister to do away with unnecessary regulations, having recommended scrapping more than half of the 1,200 rules they had looked at so far.
O'Donnell also wrote of his pride over the "thorough, evidence-based analysis" carried out under the last government, which resulted in Britain staying out of the euro.
"Without that, the challenge would be substantially greater," he says.
Earlier, in an interview for Channel 4 News, O'Donnell disclosed that Whitehall had made plans in case the coalition broke up – although he said he believed it would run its full course to the next election.
"You have to do contingency planning, but I think our main scenario is that we go through to 2015," he said.
Following O'Donnell's retirement, the role of head of the civil service will be separated out from the cabinet secretary role, with Sir Jeremy Heywood – currently permanent secretary at No 10 Downing Street – taking over as cabinet secretary, and Sir Bob Kerslake combining the job of head of the civil service with his role as permanent secretary at the Department for Communities and Local Government.

Economy Current account deficit may widen on expensive imports: RBI

High oil prices and sharp increase in bullion imports may widen the country's current account deficit in this fiscal, the Reserve Bank said on Thursday. "Higher oil prices and sharp increase in imports of bullion, machinery and electronics have resulted in continued buoyancy in imports.
Recent data indicate further widening of the trade balance. Consequently, CAD which increased during Q1 of 2011-12, is expected to widen further," RBI said in its Financial Stability Report. India's current account deficit swelled to $ 14.1 billion in its fiscal first (April-June) quarter, nearly three-times the previous quarter's figure.
Current account deficit (CAD) occurs when a country's total imports of goods, services and transfers is greater than the country's total export of goods, services and transfers.
In the April-October period, exports aggregated to $ 179.7 billion showing a handsome growth of 45.9 %. Also imports rose 30.9 % to $ 273.4 billion. This has left trade gap widening to $ 93.7 billion.
" is the global developments rather than fiscal slippages that is contributing to widening CAD," it said, adding that there is a downside risk to FII inflows on account of slowdown in the eurozone and the US.
India imports almost 80 % of its oil and gas requirements and the depreciating rupee has made imports expensive. Rupee has depreciated 18 % against dollar so far this year.
During April-October, oil imports stood at $ 81.9 billion, an increase of 40 %. The non-oil imports rose by 27.1 % to $ 191.5 billion.
Further, India's external sector faces risks due to decreasing growth in world trade volumes and weakening global demand.
"Going forward, exports may moderate further if the slowdown in advanced economies persists," RBI said

Iraq gripped by sectarian crisis as 63 killed in wave of bombings

Iraq gripped by sectarian crisis as 63 killed in wave of bombings

More than 60 people were killed today in a wave of bombings across the Iraqi capital Baghdad, in a worsening of the political and sectarian crisis that has struck the country since American troops pulled out. 

At least a dozen separate blasts hit mostly Shia neighbourhoods of the Iraqi city, though some Sunni areas were also affected. The attacks ranged from "sticky bombs" to fully-loaded car bombs, some doubled up to ensure emergency crews were caught by the second blast, a common tactic of Sunni insurgents.
At first sight, the blasts are likely to be attributed to Sunni groups, in response to the hard line taken by the Shia Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in the days since American forces observed President Obama's promise to withdraw by the end of the year.
He has issued a warrant for the arrest of the Sunni vice-president, Tareq al-Hashemi, accusing him of running a hit squad, and called for a vote of no confidence against his own Sunni deputy, vice-premier Saleh al-Mutlaq.
The worst single incident this morning was a suicide attack near a government office in which a stolen ambulance packed with explosives was detonated by its driver, sending debris into the air and into the grounds of a nearby kindergarten. Police said at least 18 people were killed in that bombing alone.
The series of attacks was on course to be the most lethal since at least August. Police suggested they were designed to instil fear rather than to hit specific targets. "They didn't target any vital institutions or security positions," the Baghdad security spokesman, Major General Qassim Atta, said. "They targeted children's schools, day workers, the anti-corruption agency."
President George W. Bush's "surge", combined with a tactic of using militant Sunni groups against the even more violent local al-Qaeda network, brought the intense violence of 2005-7 under some sort of control by 2008.
Elections last year, which ended in an uneasy coalition government, were supposed to cement the uneasy truce between Sunni and Shia politicians and gangs loyal to them. By agreement, the prime minister was to be Shia, the President Kurdish and the Vice-President Sunni.
But after the final pull-out of American troops last week, Mr Maliki moved quickly to assert control, targeting the country's two most powerful Sunni politicians. Mr Hashemi is now in hiding in the Kurdish Autonomous Region of the north.
Al-Qaeda are the most likely perpetrators of the attacks, a clearly well-designed and sophisticated operation, and are probably hoping to exploit the political situation to foment further sectarian bloodshed.
Iyed Allawi, head of the Iraqiya party of which both men are members, said: "We have warned long ago that terrorism will continue against the Iraqi people unless the political landscape is corrected and the political process is corrected, and it becomes an inclusive political process and full blown nonsectarian institutions will be built in Iraq."

Geneva: Questions Persist as to US Arms Treaty Compliance

Monday, December 19, 2011

Questions Persist as to US Arms Treaty Compliance

Janet Phelan
Activist Post

Geneva, Switzerland -- Questions concerning the compliance of the United States with the international treaty, the Biological Weapons Convention, came to a head recently during the Seventh Review Conference of the Convention, which is being held now in Geneva, Switzerland at the United Nations.

The most recent compliance report, listed in the BWC catalogue as BWC/CONF.VII/INF.2/Add.1, has failed to quash concerns as to the reliability of statements made by the United States as to its compliance with obligations under the BWC.

The specific concerns focus on the United States' lack of disclosure of a law which amends the prior biological weapons statute. The original statute is entitled the Biological Weapons Statute--Title 18 Chapter 10 Section 175 of the U.S. code. The amended law, which is entitled The Expansion of the Biological Weapons Statute (Section 817 of the USA PATRIOT Act) radically changes the legal culpability incurred by agents of the US government for violating the statute, granting them immunity.

While this most recent report submitted to the BWC by the United States does mention that the original law was indeed amended by the USA PATRIOT Act, The U.S. has once again failed to disclose the revolutionary nature of this amendment, and is instead persisting in reporting the text of the older statute without coming clean about the implications or even the wording of the amended version. The critical amendment to 175 literally removes U.S. agents from liability for violating legal prohibitions for possessing and transporting biological weapons. The implications are serious and deserve careful scrutiny.

Questions have also been raised as to whether or not the U.S. ever reported this legislative landmine on the CBM ("Confidence Building Measures") Form E's. The CBM's mandate that state parties report the status of their labs, research projects and other matters of concern to the BWC. The form E mandates the disclosure of new legislation relevant to biological weapons and is considered to be politically binding.
817 was passed along with the rest of the USA PATRIOT Act in 2001. What is publicly available for this time period reveals that the U.S. reported that there was nothing new to declare for both 2001 and 2002. This is revealed at the following link, on page 97. ($file/CBM_Submissions_by_Form.pdf).

United States Ambassador Laura Kennedy and the CBM unit of the U.S. State Department have been repeatedly contacted with questions as to whether the U.S. ever disclosed Section 817 to the other parties to the Convention. No response has been forthcoming. A United States delegate to the Seventh Review Conference, Chris Park, recently offered assurances that the requests for information about CBM Form E  had been received and were being researched. He also admitted that “there may have been an oversight.”

Here is the complete text of Section 817 of the USA PATRIOT Act, with the questionable subsection underlined:



Chapter 10 of title 18, United States Code, is amended--

     (1) in section 175--
          (A) in subsection (b)--
                (i) by striking "does not include" and inserting "includes";
                (ii) by inserting "other than" after "system for" and
               (iii) by inserting "bona fide research" after "protective";

          (B) by redesignating subsection (b) as subsection (c); and

          (C) by inserting after subsection (a) the following:

(b) ADDITIONAL OFFENSE- Whoever knowingly possesses any biological agent, toxin, or delivery system of a type or in a quantity that, under the circumstances, is not reasonably justified by a prophylactic, protective, bona fide research, or other peaceful purpose, shall be fined under this title, imprisoned not more than 10 years, or both. In this subsection, the terms "biological agent" and "toxin" do not encompass any biological agent or toxin that is in its naturally occurring environment, if the biological agent or toxin has not been cultivated, collected, or otherwise extracted from its natural source.;

     (2) by inserting after section 175a the following:


     (a) No restricted person described in subsection
     (b) shall ship or transport interstate or foreign commerce, or possess in or affecting commerce, any biological agent or toxin, or receive any biological agent or toxin that has been shipped or transported in interstate or foreign commerce, if the biological agent or toxin is listed as a select agent in subsection
     (j) of section 72.6 of title 42, Code of Federal Regulations, pursuant to section 511(d)(l) of the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (Public Law 104-132), and is not exempted under subsection
     (h) of such section 72.6, or appendix A of part 72 of the Code of Regulations.

(b) In this section:

     (1) The term "select agent" does not include any such biological agent or toxin that is in its naturally-occurring environment, if the biological agent or toxin has not been cultivated, collected, or otherwise extracted from its natural source.

     (2) The term "restricted person" means an individual who--

           (A) is under indictment for a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding 1 year;

           (B) has been convicted in any court of a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding 1 year;

           (C) is a fugitive from justice;

           (D) is an unlawful user of any controlled substance (as defined in section 102 of the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. 802));

           (E) is an alien illegally or unlawfully in the United States;

           (F) has been adjudicated as a mental defective or has been committed to any mental institution;

           (G) is an alien (other than an alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence) who is a national of a country as to which the Secretary of State, pursuant to
section 6(j) of the Export Administration Act of 1979 (50 U.S.C. App. 2405(j)), section 620A of chapter 1 of part M of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 (22 U.S.C. 2371), or section 40(d) of chapter 3 of the Arms Export Control Act (22 U.S.C. 2780(d)), has made a determination (that remains in effect) that such country has repeatedly provided support for acts of international terrorism; or

          (H) has been discharged from the Armed Services of the United States under dishonorable conditions.

     (3) The term "alien" has the same meaning as in section 1010(a)(3) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(3)).

     (4) The term "lawfully admitted for permanent residence" has the same meaning as in section 101(a)(20) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(20)).
(c) Whoever knowingly violates this section shall be fined as provided in this title, imprisoned not more than 10 years, or both, but the prohibition contained in this section shall not apply with respect to any duly authorized United States governmental activity. ; and

    (3) in the chapter analysis, by inserting after the item relating to section 175a the following:

    175b. Possession by restricted persons.

Concerns as to the authenticity of United States' statements as to compliance with this treaty were magnified recently when Department of Homeland Security representative Daniel Gerstein chose to deny the existence of a military base in California, Sierra Army Depot. Gerstein responded to a question about reports of biological weapons being stockpiled at Sierra Army Depot with a blanket denial.

“I don't believe that base exists,” stated Gerstein during a side event hosted by the United States during the first week of the Seventh Review Conference.

Sierra Army Depot ( is located in Herlong, California and formerly functioned as a stockpile for nuclear weapons. Reports have come in from civilian contractors who have visited the base that the nuclear weapons have been dismantled and that troops stationed at the base are now guarding big vats of liquid. 

For those keeping watch on the United States and potential deployment, Gerstein offered this unexpected tidbit:  He expects a pandemic before the end of 2013.

The BWC prohibits the development, production and stockpiling of bacteriological and toxin weapons and was signed by the United States in 1972. In its present form, the BWC has no means to verify the compliance of states with the treaty. In 2001, a verification protocol was on the table and was derailed by the delegation from the United States. 

Janet Phelan is an investigative journalist whose articles have appeared in the Los Angeles Times, The San Bernardino County Sentinel, The Santa Monica Daily Press, The Long Beach Press Telegram, Oui Magazine and other regional and national publications. Janet specializes in issues pertaining to legal corruption and addresses the heated subject of adult conservatorship, revealing shocking information about the relationships between courts and shady financial consultants. She also covers issues relating to international bioweapons treaties. Her poetry has been published in Gambit, Libera, Applezaba Review, Nausea One and other magazines. Her first book, The Hitler Poems, was published in 2005. She currently resides abroad.  You may browse through her articles (and poetry) at

The Globalization of War: The "Military Roadmap" to World War III

The Globalization of War: The "Military Roadmap" to World War III

By Michel Chossudovsky and Finian Cunningham

URL of this article:

Global Research, December 18, 2011

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The Globalization of War

The "Military Roadmap" to World War III

Michel Chossudovsky and Finian Cunningham (Editors)

December 2011


[scroll down for Reader's Table of Contents]

The Pentagon’s global military design is one of world conquest.

The military deployment of US-NATO forces is occurring in several regions of the world simultaneously.

The concept of the “Long War” has characterized US military doctrine since the end of World War II. The broader objective of global military dominance in support of an imperial project was first formulated under the Truman administration in the late 1940s at the outset of the Cold War.

In September 1990, some five weeks after Saddam Hussein’s Iraq invaded Kuwait, US President and Commander in Chief George Herbert Walker Bush delivered a historical address to a joint session of the US Congress and the Senate in which he proclaimed a New World Order emerging from the rubble of the Berlin Wall and the demise of the Soviet Union.

Bush Senior had envisaged a world of "peaceful international co-operation", one which was no longer locked into the confrontation between competing super powers, under the shadow of the doctrine of  "Mutually Assured Destruction" (MAD) which had characterized the Cold War era.

George H Walker Bush addressed a Joint Session
of the US Congress and the Senate, September 1990

Bush declared emphatically at the outset of what became known as "the post-Cold War era" that:

“a new partnership of nations has begun, and we stand today at a unique and extraordinary moment. The crisis in the Persian Gulf, as grave as it is, also offers a rare opportunity to move toward an historic period of cooperation. Out of these troubled times... a new world order can emerge: A new era freer from the threat of terror, stronger in the pursuit of justice and more secure in the quest for peace. An era in which the nations of the world, east and west, north and south, can prosper and live in harmony.”

Of course, speeches by American presidents are often occasions for cynical platitudes and contradictions that should not be taken at face value. After all, President Bush was holding forth on international law and justice only months after his country had invaded Panama in December 1989 causing the deaths of several thousand citizens – committing crimes comparable to what Saddam Hussein would be accused of and supposedly held to account for. Also in 1991, the US and its NATO allies went on to unleash, under a “humanitarian” mantle, a protracted war against Yugoslavia, leading to the destruction, fragmentation and impoverishment of an entire country.

Nevertheless, it is instructive to use Bush Senior’s slanted vision of a “New World Order” as a reference point for how dramatically the world has changed in the intervening 20 years of the so-called post-Cold War era, and in particular how unilaterally degenerate the contemporary international conduct of the US has become under the Clinton, G. W. Bush Junior and Obama administrations.

Bush Senior's "promise" of world peace has opened up, in the wake of the Cold War, an age of continuous warfare accompanied by a process of economic dislocation, social devastation and environmental degradation.

In a bitter irony, this concept of peaceful international co-operation and partnership was used as a pretext to unleash The Gulf War, which consisted in  "defending the sovereignty" of Kuwait and “upholding international law” following the Iraqi 1990 invasion.

Global Warfare

We are dealing with a global military agenda, namely “Global Warfare”. Far from a world of peaceful cooperation, we are living in a dystopian world of permanent wars – wars that are being waged in flagrant contravention of international law and against public opinion and interest.

Far from a “new era more secure in the quest for peace” we may see a world more akin to George Orwell’s 1984, dominated by perpetual conflict, insecurity, authoritarian surveillance, doublethink and public mind control.

A problem for many citizens is that “doublethink and mind control” have become so deeply embedded and disseminated by the mass media, including the so-called quality free press, such as The New York Times and The Guardian.

The Post 9/11 Era: America's Doctrine of Pre-emptive Warfare

Allegedly sponsored by Al Qaeda, the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon played a central role in molding public opinion.  One of the main objectives of war propaganda is to "fabricate an enemy". The "outside enemy" personified by Osama bin Laden is "threatening America".

Pre-emptive war directed against "Islamic terrorists" is required to defend the Homeland. Realities are turned upside down: America is under attack.

In the wake of 9/11, the creation of this "outside enemy" served to obfuscate the real economic and strategic objectives behind the American-led wars in the Middle East and Central Asia. Waged on the grounds of self-defense, the pre-emptive war is upheld as a "just war" with a humanitarian mandate.

"The Outside Enemy" Osama bin Laden, portrayed by the mainstream

From the outset of the Soviet-Afghan war in the early 1980s, the US intelligence apparatus has supported the formation of the "Islamic brigades". Propaganda purports to erase the history of Al Qaeda, drown the truth and "kill the evidence" on how this "outside enemy" was fabricated and transformed into "Enemy Number One".

The US intelligence apparatus has created it own terrorist organizations. And at the same time, it creates its own terrorist warnings concerning the terrorist organizations which it has itself created. Meanwhile, a cohesive multibillion dollar counterterrorism program "to go after" these terrorist organizations has been put in place.

Instead of “war” or “state terrorism”, we are told of “humanitarian intervention” directed against "terrorists".

Instead of “offence”, we are told of “defense” or “protection”.

Instead of “mass murder” we are told of “collateral damage”.

A good versus evil dichotomy prevails. The perpetrators of war are presented as the victims. Public opinion is misled: “We must fight against evil in all its forms as a means to preserving the Western way of life.”

Breaking the "Big Lie" which presents war as a humanitarian undertaking, means breaking a criminal project of global destruction, in which the quest for profit is the overriding force. This profit-driven military agenda destroys human values and transforms people into unconscious zombies.

Spawning Militarism: "War is Normal"

In truth, as this new Interactive Reader from Global Research will demonstrate, we are living in an era hallmarked by “The Globalization of War” conducted by the very states that proclaim to be defenders of democratic rights and international law.

The chief protagonist of this globalized war is the United States of America. The US, along with its allies in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), Britain, France, Canada and Germany among others, as well as an array of proxies – such as the Persian Gulf Arab states – is now emboldened to strike militarily in any region of the world.

It should be noted that on a tour of the Asia-Pacific region in November 2011, US President Barack Obama’s rhetoric was laden with bellicose statements towards China, citing the latter as a military threat to the hemisphere that the United States was ready to confront. Obama’s aggressive rhetoric towards Beijing should have been widely seen as unprecedented and unacceptable. But from a reading of the Western mainstream media, the warmongering by the US president was somehow made into normal, reasonable discourse.

This spawning militarism is rationalized with a variety of seemingly palatable pretexts: securing the world against "Islamic terrorism", as in Afghanistan; securing the world against "weapons of mass destruction", as in Saddam’s Iraq and currently Iran; defending human rights, as in Libya; humanitarian intervention, as in Somalia; and protecting small nations, as in confronting China on behalf of Southeast Asian states, or constructing a Ballistic Missile Defense system along the Eastern European borders of Russia. And again, the Western mainstream media plays a huge role in rationalizing the irrational, normalizing the abnormal, justifying the unjustifiable – akin to the Ministry of Truth in Orwell’s 1984.

We may accept these pretexts at face value and attempt to “normalize” a world of seemingly chaotic conflicts, as the Western mainstream media would have us. Or we can choose to see the world as it really is, that is, one where such wars and war-making are correctly understood as abominations of international law and human relations.

It is our objective in this Interactive Reader to help citizens free themselves from the indoctrinated doublethink of “wars as normal”. In a global survey, we will show that the US and its allies are fulfilling an agenda of “full spectrum dominance” in which no nation deemed to be obstructing that agenda for domination by the US and its allies is tolerated, and is in fact made a target for war.

The dynamic for globalized war has deep historical roots in the imperialism of capitalist governments. Rivalry for the raw materials of capitalist economies and geopolitical control were at the root of World Wars I and II - See the essays by Jacques Pauwels on the role of corporate America in supporting both Britain  and Nazi Germany. The same impetus lay behind countless invasions and proxy wars in Latin America, Asia and Africa by the US since World War II under the guise of “defending the free world from the Evil Soviet empire”.

But with the collapse of the Soviet Union as a countervailing power, the US and its allies have become uninhibited over the past two decades to “go it alone” to assert imperial dominance. This dynamic has only been reinforced by the economic exhaustion of the capitalist powers since the onset of the financial crisis of 2008. Indeed, the rise of militarism can be seen as a compensatory corollary of their economic demise – a demise that is structural and deeply protracted beyond anything that may be deemed as the usual “end of business cycle”. We are perhaps witnessing an historic collapse in the capitalist system far greater in scope than the Great Depression. And with that, disturbingly, the rise of militarism takes on a much greater significance.

Crucial to the global control of resources are the raw materials of energy: oil and gas. Whether it is wars in Iraq, Afghanistan or Libya, or confrontation with Iran, China, Russia and Venezuela, the fundamental point of contention is control over this lifeblood of the capitalist economy. All other espoused pretexts are mere window dressing, regardless of what the mainstream media would have us believe.

World War III Scenario

The launching of an outright war using nuclear warheads against Iran – which has the world’s third largest known reserves of oil behind Saudi Arabia and Iraq – has been on the drawing board of the Pentagon since 2005.

If such a war were to be launched, the entire Middle East/Central Asia region would be drawn into a conflagration. Humanity would be precipitated into a World War III scenario.

Incredibly, the very real danger of World War III is not front-page news. The mainstream media has excluded in-depth analysis and debate on the implications of these war plans. The onslaught of World War III, were it to be carried out, would be casually described as a “no-fly zone”, an operation under NATO’s “Responsibility to Protect” (R2P) with minimal “collateral damage” or as “surgical” punitive bombings against specific military targets, all of which purport to support “global security” as well as “democracy” and human rights in the targeted country.

NATO's "Humanitarian Intervention"
Mandate defined in an ICISS report on R2P

Public opinion is largely unaware of the grave implications of these war plans, which contemplate the use of nuclear weapons, ironically in retaliation to Iran's non-existent nuclear weapons program. Moreover, 21st Century military technology combines an array of sophisticated weapons systems whose destructive power would overshadow the nuclear holocausts of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Lest we forget, the United States is the only country to have used nuclear weapons against civilians.

Militarization at the global level is instrumented through the US military’s Unified Command structure: the entire planet is divided up into geographic Combatant Commands under the control of the Pentagon. According to former NATO Commander General Wesley Clark, the Pentagon’s military road-map consists of a sequence of war theaters: “[The] five-year campaign plan [includes]... a total of seven countries, beginning with Iraq, then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Iran, Somalia and Sudan.” Like a cancer, the US war unleashed in 2003 on Iraq is mutating into a global disease.

While  The New York Times and other mainstream media outlets hailed 15 December 2011 as marking the “official” end of the nearly nine-year US war in Iraq, in reality that devastated country will remain an American war theater for the foreseeable future. Pentagon military advisers and contractors will continue to reside there and the people of Iraq will for generations be left with a legacy of US-imposed conflict and barbarity. The Pentagon’s “shock and awe” campaign in Iraq may have subsided, but its repercussions and criminal precedents are still very much extant, not only in Iraq but in the wider region and, increasingly, globally.

The 2000 Project for the New American Century (PNAC), which was the backbone of the NeoCon's agenda, was predicated on “waging a war without borders”. The PNAC's declared objectives were to “fight and decisively win multiple, simultaneous major theater wars” in different regions of the world as well as perform the so-called military “constabulary” duties “associated with shaping the security environment in critical regions”. Global constabulary implies a worldwide process of military policing and interventionism, including covert operations and “regime change”.

This diabolical military project formulated by the NeoCons was adopted and implemented from the very outset of the Obama administration. With a new team of military and foreign policy advisers, Obama has been far more effective in fostering military escalation than his White House predecessor, George Bush Junior, who has recently been condemned by the Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Tribunal for “Crimes against the Peace”.

This continuum of military agenda testifies to the fact that the two governing parties in the US, Democrat and Republican, are but two sides of a centrally planned military-industrial complex that is impregnable to the opinions, desires and interests of the American electorate.

Military Escalation and Preview of this Book

Contrary to the myth of “the good war”, we show in this Interactive Reader that the US entry into World War II was a deliberate strategy for self-serving imperialist gains. While the men and women who fought that war may have had moral convictions, the planners in Washington were operating on calculations of geopolitical control that had little to do with morals or legal principles – see the essays by Jacques Pauwels. The dropping of atomic bombs on Japan by the US in August 1945, obliterating hundreds of thousands of civilians, was an act of heinous barbarity that reflected the callousness of America's imperial design. The nuclear holocaust also set the nefarious parameters of the subsequent Cold War that gripped the world for nearly five decades following World War II. Essays by Brian Willson, Alfred McCoy and Michel Chossudovsky illustrate how the Pentagon’s genocidal wars in Asia were a continuation of America’s imperialist design – albeit under the cover of the Cold War against the Soviet Union.

Hiroshima mushroom cloud. By executive order of President
Harry S. Truman, the U.S. dropped the nuclear bomb "Little Boy"
on Hiroshima, Monday, August 6, 1945

Nagasaki, August 9, 1945

Survivors: August 1945. In the wake of Hiroshima

The fall of the Soviet Union may have brought an end to the Cold War, but soon the US would find new pretexts for waging war on the world and asserting hegemony on behalf of its capitalist allies. These new pretexts included “upholding international law” as in the First Gulf War against Iraq that Bush Senior embarked on in 1990, presaging the Second Gulf War that Bush Junior would reprise in 2003. And the US planners innovated the “humanitarian” pretext for the invasion of Somalia in 1991 and NATO’s war on Yugoslavia – see the essay by Sean Gervasi among others. In many ways, the “humanitarian war” in Yugoslavia served as the prototype for NATO’s 2011 military attack on Libya and what appears to be an imminent onslaught against Syria – see essays by Rick Rozoff and Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya.

To the Pentagon’s silo of propaganda justifying “wars without borders” we have the additional pretexts of  the “global war on terrorism”  and “pre-emptive strikes against weapons of mass destruction”. Fittingly, as Washington’s wars multiply, so too it seems have the phony pretexts for these wars, as the essays on Iraq and Afghanistan by Felicity Arbuthnot and Jack Smith reveal.

Permanent Belligerence: The Globalization of War

In Part VII, which also serves as the title of this Online Interactive E-Reader, The Globalization of War, we show how American-led imperialism has evolved from bloody bouts of episodic militarism over several decades to the present day state of permanent belligerence, with wars or war-making stretching from North and East Africa into the Middle East and Central Asia and beyond to Eurasia (Russia), the Far East (China) and Arctic (Russia again) – See the essays by James Petras, Rick Rozoff,  Peter Dale Scott, F. William Engdahl, Finian Cunningham, the interview with Fidel Castro, Michel Chossudovsky and Jules Dufour.
Of most immediate concern are the ongoing American-led war plans within the broader Middle East/Central Asian region involving coordinated actions against Iran, Syria and Pakistan – see essays by Michel Chossudovsky, Tom Burghardt, Rick Rozoff and Mahdi Nazemroaya.

Were these war plans to be carried out, this would lead to an extended regional war theater. The three existing and distinct war theaters (Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine) would merge into a broad regional war extending from the Lebanese-Syrian East Mediterranean coastline to the Afghanistan-Pakistan border with Western China. Israel, Lebanon and Turkey would be engulfed in a conflict that would herald World War III.

Building an Effective Antiwar Movement

Meanwhile, the antiwar movement is in crisis: civil society organizations are misinformed, manipulated or co-opted. A large segment of “progressive” opinion is supportive of NATO’s R2P “humanitarian” mandate to the extent that these war plans are being carried out with the “rubber stamp” of civil society.

There is an urgent need to rebuild the antiwar movement on entirely new premises.

The holding of mass demonstrations and antiwar protests is not enough. What is required is the development of a broad and well-organized grassroots antiwar network, across the land, nationally and internationally, which challenges the structures of power and authority. People must mobilize not only against the military agenda – the authority of the state and its officials must also be challenged.

Challenging and defeating the US/NATO global war agenda is profoundly predicated on the mass of people in Western countries asserting democratic governance and the genuine “rule of the people”. It will involve the mass of people breaking out of the two-party charade that hitherto passes for “democracy” – not only in the US but also in other Western states ­– to form new political organizations that truly represent the needs and interests of the majority of people. War-making, as with servile abeyance to corporate and financial elites, is endemic to the dominant political parties. It must be realized that voting for these same parties has become futile as a means to effect democratic change.

One practical way forward is for citizens to empower themselves legally. It should be understood that whatever its justification, war is a “Crime against the Peace” under Nuremberg. George Walker Bush and former British Prime Minister Anthony L. Blair have been condemned by the Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Tribunal for waging a criminal war of aggression against Iraq. They are war criminals and citizens' initiatives that are growing across the world for the arraignment of Bush and Blair are one practical step towards mobilizing a popular challenge to the war system.

War crimes, however, are not limited to the former US president and British prime minister. There are "New War Criminals on the Block". They include the current president of the United States, Barack Obama, among others. The acting heads of state and heads of government who support US-NATO-Israel wars of aggression are also war criminals under international law. This proposition, which consists in unseating the war criminals in high office, is central to the waging of an effective antiwar movement.

It is also our intention to show citizens that the root cause of war lies in the prevailing, but failing, global capitalist economic system – the very system that is not only destroying lives in foreign countries but which is destroying the material and moral foundations of Western society.

We hope that this Interactive Reader, The Globalisation of War, will empower citizens to mount an all-encompassing social movement against this diabolical military agenda and for the establishment of real democracy.

Michel Chossudovsky and Finian Cunningham, December 2011

In the face of blatant media disinformation, a "Re-Learning Process" must be launched.

It is our hope that the Interactive Reader Series will become a useful tool for high school, college and university students.



       Fall 1941: Pearl Harbor and The Wars of Corporate America
- by Jacques R. Pauwels - 2011-12-11
       Why World War II ended with Mushroom Clouds
65 years ago, August 6 and 9, 1945: Hiroshima and Nagasaki
- by Jacques R. Pauwels - 2010-08-06
The unspoken objective of the atomic bomb was US Hegemony in Asia and the Pacific

Korea and the "Axis of Evil"
- by Brian S. Willson - 2006-10-12
"Over a period of three years or so we killed off - what - twenty percent of the population [of North Korea]" (General Curtis Lemay)
       From Vietnam to Afghanistan: America and the Dictators
- by Prof. Alfred W. McCoy - 2010-04-18
       Who won the Vietnam War?
- by Prof. Michel Chossudovsky - 2005-04-26
Vietnam never received war reparations payments from the U.S. for the massive loss of life and destruction, yet an agreement reached in Paris in 1993 required Hanoi to recognize the debts of the defunct Saigon regime. This agreement is in many regards tantamount to obliging Vietnam to compensate Washington for the costs of war.

       Why Is NATO In Yugoslavia?
- by Sean Gervasi - 2010-09-12
The late Sean Gervasi had tremendous foresight. He understood NATO enlargement several years before it actually unfolded into a formidable military force.
NATO's Reign of Terror in Kosovo
- by Prof. Michel Chossudovsky - 2008-02-25
State Terrorism in Kosovo is an integral part of NATO's design
       NATO's Kosovo War, 11 Years Later
- by James Bissett - 2010-03-24

       Al Qaeda and the "War on Terrorism"
- by Michel Chossudovsky - 2008-01-20
Ironically, Al Qaeda --the "outside enemy of America"-- is a creation of the CIA.
       The Central Role of Al Qaeda in Bush's National Security Doctrine
"Revealing the Lies" on 9/11 Perpetuates the "Big Lie"
- by Michel Chossudovsky - 2007-07-12
       9/11 Paved the Way for America's Permanent Wars of Aggression
- by Finian Cunningham - 2011-09-11

       America's Endless Wars in Afghanistan and Iraq
- by Jack A. Smith - 2011-10-25
The illusion of military success...
       US Afghan Strategy: Senseless and Merciless
- by Rick Rozoff - 2011-07-22

       U.S. And NATO Escalate World’s Deadliest War On Both Sides Of Afghan-Pakistani Border
- by Rick Rozoff - 2011-03-01
Drone missile attacks conducted by the CIA killed in the neighborhood of 1,000 people in Pakistan last year
       The War on Iraq : Five US Presidents, Five British Prime Ministers, Thirty Years of Duplicity, and Counting....
- by Felicity Arbuthnot - 2010-08-06
Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait. He had walked into possibly the biggest trap in modern history
       US-NATO Military Agenda: The Destabilization of Pakistan
- by Prof. Michel Chossudovsky - 2009-04-17

       America's War in the Horn of Africa: “Drone Alley” – a Harbinger of Western Power across the African Continent
US Military Confirms Washington’s Secret New War in Somalia Despite Official Denials
- by Finian Cunningham - 2011-10-29
US Military Confirms Washington’s Secret New War in Somalia Despite Official Denials
       Somalia: Western Media Indulge US and French Denials of New War in Famine-Hit Horn of Africa
- by Finian Cunningham - 2011-10-26
       Israel and Libya: Preparing Africa for the “Clash of Civilizations”
Introduction by Cynthia McKinney
- by Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya - 2011-10-11
"An attempt to separate the merging point of an Arab and African identity is underway."
       Africa: Battleground For NATO's 21st Century Strategic Concept
- by Rick Rozoff - 2011-05-19

       World War III: The Launching of a Preemptive Nuclear War against Iran
- by Michel Chossudovsky - 2011-12-04
World War III is not front-page news. The mainstream media has excluded in-depth analysis and debate on the implications of these war plans.
       Syria: The West's Strategic Gateway For Global Military Supremacy
- by Rick Rozoff - 2011-11-15
       U.S. Arms Persian Gulf Allies For Conflict With Iran
- by Rick Rozoff - 2011-11-18
       THE CLOCK IS TICKING: "Shadow War" Heating Up. War With Iran: A Provocation Away?
- by Tom Burghardt - 2011-12-05
Amid conflicting reports that a huge explosion at Iran's uranium conversion facility in Isfahan occurred last week, speculation was rife that Israel and the US were stepping-up covert attacks against defense and nuclear installations
       Using Fake Intelligence to Justify War on Iran

- by Michel Chossudovsky - 2011-11-09
       Iran: "Regime Change" or All Out War?

- by Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya - 2011-06-
       America's Next War Theater: Syria and Lebanon?
- by Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya - 2011-06-10

       Obama Raises the Military Stakes: Confrontation on the Borders with China and Russia
- by Prof. James Petras - 2011-12-10
Obama has embraced a policy of encirclement and provocations against China, the world’s second largest economy and the US’s most important creditor, and Russia, the European Union’s principle oil and gas provider and the world’s second most powerful nuclear weapons power.
       Conversations with Fidel Castro: The Dangers of a Nuclear War
- by Fidel Castro Ruz, Michel Chossudovsky - 2010-11-13
If a war breaks out in Iran, it will inevitably become a nuclear war and a global war.
       The Real Grand Chessboard and the Profiteers of War
- by Prof. Peter Dale Scott - 2009-08-11
The provision of private entrepreneurial violence and intelligence
       Why Moscow does not Trust Washington on Missile Defense. Towards a Pre-emptive Nuclear War?
- by F. William Engdahl - 2011-12-02
Most in the civilized world are blissfully unaware that we are marching ineluctably towards an increasingly likely pre-emptive nuclear war...
       "War Without Borders": Washington Intensifies Push Into Central Asia
- by Rick Rozoff - 2011-01-30
The U.S. and NATO have over 150,000 troops planted directly south of three Central Asian nations.
       Asia-Pacific: US Ramps Up Global War Agenda
- by Finian Cunningham - 2011-11-17
China’s “military advances” are prompting US concerns...Washington is the one beating the war drums.
       North American Integration and the Militarization of the Arctic
- by Prof. Michel Chossudovsky - 2007-08-20
The Battle for the Arctic is part of a global military agenda of conquest and territorial control, a New Cold War between Russia and America.
       Review Article: The Worldwide Network of US Military Bases
The Global Deployment of US Military Personnel
- by Prof. Jules Dufour - 2007-07-01
The Global Deployment of US Military Personnel

About the Editors

Michel Chossudovsky is an award-winning author, Professor of Economics (Emeritus) at the University of Ottawa. He is the Founder and Director of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG), Montreal and Editor of the  website. He is the author of The Globalization of Poverty and The New World Order (2003) and America's "War on Terrorism"(2005). His most recent book is entitled Towards a World War III Scenario: The Dangers of Nuclear War (2011). He has taught as Visiting Professor at universities in Western Europe, South East Asia and Latin America, acted as an adviser to governments of developing countries and as a consultant for the several international organizations. Prof. Chossudovsky is a signatory of the Kuala Lumpur declaration to criminalize war and recipient of the Human Rights Prize of the Society for the Protection of Civil Rights and Human Dignity (GBM), Berlin, Germany. He is also a contributor to the Encyclopaedia Britannica. His writings have been published in more than twenty languages.

Finian Cunningham is currently Global Research's Middle East and East Africa Correspondent. He has written extensively on international affairs. Previously, he was based in Bahrain and witnessed the upheavals in the Persian Gulf kingdom during 2011 as well as the subsequent Saudi-led brutal crackdown against pro-democracy protests. He is now based in East Africa.
This Online Interactive E-Reader is made available to Global Research readers with a view to curbing the flow of media disinformation and war propaganda.

Our ultimate objective is to reverse the tide of war and restore World peace.