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Moscow Accuses US of Blocking Mideast Quartet Efforts

Source: RIA Novosti

MOSCOW, December 9 (RIA Novosti) – The United States is blocking a meeting of the Quartet of Middle East mediators, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Sunday.

“We are seeking the convocation of the Quartet of international mediators. We are supported by the European Union and the UN while the United States, the fourth participant in this mechanism, does not want this. We are talking about this publicly,” Lavrov said.

Russia also advocates convening an international conference on a nuclear-free area in the Middle East but this initiative is also being blocked by the United States, Lavrov said.

“It was decided to hold this conference by late 2012. We are bearing the brunt of work with the Arabs, Israel and Iran. As a result, we have prepared a package quite acceptable for all but the Americans refused to support it,” Lavrov said.

Read more: http://en.rian.ru/russia/20121209/178023415.html

Russia Rules Out Libyan Scenario in Syria

MOSCOW, December 9 (RIA Novosti) - Russia will not allow a repetition of the Libyan scenario in Syria, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Sunday.

“We’ll not allow the Libyan experience to be reproduced in Syria. Unfortunately our Western partners have departed from the Geneva accords and are seeking the departure of Bashar al-Assad,” Lavrov said, adding Russia was not clinging to any individual leaders in Syria.

Russia and China vetoed a Western-backed UN resolution on Syria on July 19 over fears that it would lead to foreign military intervention in the Middle East country.

The resolution was tied to Chapter 7 of the UN Charter, which would have provided for the use of force to put an end to the rapidly escalating conflict.



Palestinian Prisoners' Rights Activist Detained, Tortured In Israeli prison

Nasser, 42, was arrested on October 15 in a nighttime raid by armed soldiers and attack dogs on his house in the village of Saffa in the Ramallah district. According to Physicians for Human Rights, Nasser was taken into custody after a prolonged search in his house and a brief interrogation, during which his wife and four children were held at gunpoint in a different room.

His interrogation by Shin Bet agents went on for 39 days, with sessions lasting up to 20 hours a day, all through which Nasser had his hands tied to the back of the chair and his legs tied to the legs of the chair. Nasser later reported to his lawyers that throughout this period he was held in isolation, he did not receive sufficient medical care for his pain nor for the lapses of disorientation from which he suffered. PHR has so far not been allowed to send an independent doctor to examine Nasser.

About a week ago, the military prosecution filed an indictment with fairly mild accusations against Nasser. The main charge was his alleged membership in the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), which is considered an illegal organization by Israel. Evidence for this membership is derived from the other four charges, which state that Nasser allegedly assisted in organizing and participating in two “illegal” PFLP rallies in Ramallah, one in support of Palestinian prisoners, and the other in memory of former PFLP leader, Abu-Ali Mustafa, assassinated by Israel in 2001.

Nasser, who works as a researcher for Addameer, rejects accusations of membership in the PFLP, stating that he had no part in the Mustafa rally. He confirmed his participation in the Palestinian Prisoners’ Day rally – which was not a PFLP event but rather a national day of protest and solidarity and has been for quite some time. This year’s rally took place in the midst of a prolonged hunger strike of administrative detainees in Israeli prisons, and marked the start of a new collective hunger strike of...



Iran Condemns US Nuclear Test

AFP - Iran condemned arch foe the United States on Saturday for conducting a limited nuclear test, saying it showed Washington's "inattention to full disarmament," the state television website reported.

The US Energy Department said it conducted a "subcritical" test at an underground site in Nevada on Wednesday to study the behaviour of nuclear materials without triggering an atomic explosion. It was its first since February last year.

Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast "condemned the recent US nuclear test," saying it displayed "inattention to full disarmament which is a deep-seated demand of international public opinion."

Iran "as one of the victims of weapons of mass destruction (during its 1980-88 war with Saddam Hussein's Iraq), will pursue the supreme leader's fatwa regarding the prohibition of production, storage or use of such weapons until it has been fully realised," Mehmanparast added.



Venezuela’s Chavez Names Successor as He Leaves for Cuba

Source: Bloomberg

By Nathan Crooks & Jose Orozco - Dec 9, 2012 4:40 PM ET

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, preparing to travel to Cuba for further cancer surgery, yesterday named Vice President Nicolas Maduro to carry out his legacy if he is unable to remain in office.

Chavez, who spoke in a national television and radio address, said he requires more surgery after malignant cells were detected in the same area as his previous cancer during health exams held over the past month in Cuba. The National Assembly today approved his request to be absent from the country for more than five days as he travels to the Caribbean island.

“There is risk in this process that you can’t deny,” said Chavez, who won re-election to a third six-year term on Oct. 7. “If something happens that disables me some way, my irrevocable opinion is that you should elect Nicolas Maduro as the President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.”

Under Venezuelan law, if Chavez is too ill to carry out his duties, the vice president would take over until the beginning of the new presidential term on Jan. 10. If Chavez is unable to attend the inauguration scheduled on that date, the president of the National Assembly would assume power while elections are arranged within 30 days. If he does take office and then becomes too ill within the first four years of the term, the vice president takes over the presidency for 30 days while elections are held.

Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-12-09/venezuela-s-chavez-says-he-needs-more-cancer-surgery-in-cuba-1-.html

Michigan Labor Activist Files Lawsuit Over Right-To-Work Bill

A union activist in Michigan has filed a lawsuit targeting a so-called right-to-work bill being pushed through the state’s legislature by Republicans, according to The Detroit Free Press.

Robert Davis filed the legal complaint in Ingham County Circuit Court, alleging that the Open Meetings Act was violated when police forced protesters out of the state Capitol building.

Michigan State Police used pepper spray last week to clear out the Capitol after Republican Speaker Jase Bolger and Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville closed the building.

Bolgetr spokesman Ari Adler said the lawsuit appeared to be “baseless and frivolous.”



HRW: Iran's Statements Not Incitement To Genocide


Right Watch leader refuses to label calls to erase Israel; compares mullah's remarks to those of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef.

WASHINGTON – The head of New York-based Human Rights Watch refused to label as genocidal Iranian calls to obliterate the Jewish state and compared Iran’s mullah leadership to the Shas party.

The Wall Street Journal’s David Feith, as assistant editorial features editor with the paper, obtained internal HRW emails and published last week a report, headlined “Dancing around genocide,” about alleged HRW bias against Israel and an internecine conflict within HRW’s top leadership about the group’s head, Kenneth Roth, and his failure to take Iran’s calls to destroy Israel seriously.

The Journal reported that Sid Sheinberg, HRW’s vice chairman, wrote in an email, “Sitting still while Iran claims a ‘justification to kill all Jews and annihilate Israel’ is...a position unworthy of our great organization.”

According to the newspaper, Roth wrote in one email, “Many of statements are certainly reprehensible, but they are not incitement to genocide. No one has acted on them.”



USDA Chief: Rural America Becoming Less Relevant

WASHINGTON (AP) — Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has some harsh words for rural America: It's "becoming less and less relevant," he says.

A month after an election that Democrats won even as rural parts of the country voted overwhelmingly Republican, the former Democratic governor of Iowa told farm belt leaders this past week that he's frustrated with their internecine squabbles and says they need to be more strategic in picking their political fights.

"It's time for us to have an adult conversation with folks in rural America," Vilsack said in a speech at a forum sponsored by the Farm Journal. "It's time for a different thought process here, in my view."

He said rural America's biggest assets — the food supply, recreational areas and energy, for example — can be overlooked by people elsewhere as the U.S. population shifts more to cities, their suburbs and exurbs.

"Why is it that we don't have a farm bill?" said Vilsack. "It isn't just the differences of policy. It's the fact that rural America with a shrinking population is becoming less and less relevant to the politics of this country, and we had better recognize that and we better begin to reverse it."



Guest Lineups For The Sunday News Shows

ABC’s “This Week” — Sens. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., and Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich.; Reps. Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, and Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz.


NBC’s “Meet the Press” — Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif.


CBS’ ”Face the Nation” — Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles, leaders of President Barack Obama’s now-defunct deficit commission; Mayor Cory Booker of Newark, N.J.


CNN’s “State of the Union” — Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund; Reps. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., and Tom Cole, R-Okla.


“Fox News Sunday” — Sens. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Bob Corker, R-Tenn.; Michael Oren, Israel’s ambassador to the U.S.

MICHIGAN: Unions, Police Prepare For Tuesday's Right To Work Protest

The state House is expected to pass the final Right to Work bill when it's back in session Tuesday.

Unions are planning an even bigger protest for their last chance to keep it from going to the Governor's desk, but for now, there's a brief calm before the next storm at the Capitol.

"Did it go the way we wanted? No. But if they told us no, am I supposed to say, 'Let me gather my stuff up and get out of your way,'? We're not going away," Local UAW 652 President Mike Green said.

Thousands of protestors are expected at the Capitol for what will probably be the biggest protest yet.

"It's going to look like wall to wall people," Green said. "We're calling everybody we can call and telling them, 'Bring a friend.' If you're concerned, it's time to show up and let them know."


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