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Settlers Uproot Dozens Of Olive Trees In Hebron Village

Residents of Maon settlement uprooted around 70 trees in al-Tawani village, east of Yatta, said Rateb al-Jbour, the Hebron popular committee coordinator.

The trees belonged to Khader al-Amour and Kayed al-Amour, al-Jbour told Ma'an. He said settlers were trying to confiscate more Palestinian land in the area to expand the illegal settlement.

Al-Tawani mayor Mohammad Rabei condemned the incident and settlers' continuous attacks on villagers. He said settlers were trying to force Palestinians to leave the village.

Israeli police spokeswoman Luba Samri said "police received a report about the damaging of some 62 Palestinian-owned olive trees" in the area.



Churches Denounce Israel Violence Against Christians

JERUSALEM (Ma’an) – Patriarchs and heads of Christian churches in Jerusalem on Sunday released a joint statement denouncing attacks by Israeli police officers on worshipers and pilgrims during Holy Saturday at the Church of Holy Sepulcher.

Signatories of the statement highlighted that they saw “awful scenes of the brutal treatment to clerics, average people and pilgrims in Jerusalem during Holy Saturday.”

They added: “A day of joy was turned into a day of severe sadness and pain for several of our faithful brothers who were mistreated by a number of Israeli police officers at the gates of the Old City of Jerusalem leading to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.”

It is unacceptable, according to the statement, that clergymen and average people “get beaten brutally and indiscriminately and be denied access to their churches under the pretext of keeping order.”



Bombing Iran’s Nuclear Facilities would leave the Entire Gulf States Region Virtually Uninhabitable

Every Spring and Summer, during a period of low pressure over the Persian Gulf, powerful winds known as the “shamals and sharqi,” sweep down from the north and north east into Saudi Arabia, whipping up ever more grains of sand as they head south and south west across the Arabian Desert. Frequently, these sandstorms become gargantuan in size – hundreds of meters high and kilometers wide and in length of dense roiling particulate, choking the lungs of those exposed, blocking out the sun completely and, by the time they are over, burying whole towns, sometimes even large cities like Riyadh, in a meter deep or more of sand.

Fukushima is, without question, the world’s worst nuclear disaster to date. In fact, many scientists believe, and with good reason, that the Fukushima incident, which is far from over, is the world’s worst environmental catastrophe.

“While the long-term repercussions of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster are yet to be fully assessed, they are far more serious than those pertaining to the 1986 Chernobyl disaster in the Ukraine, which resulted in almost one million deaths (New Book Concludes – Chernobyl death toll: 985,000, mostly from cancer” Global Research, September 10, 2010. For a full account of Fukushima, see “Global Research Online Interactive Reader Series, Fukushima: A Nuclear War without a War, The Unspoken Crisis of Worldwide Nuclear Radiation (Michel Chossudovsky, editor).

Now imagine several large nuclear reactors (Iran’s Bushehr reactor output, for example, is 1000 megawatts, compared to Fukushima Daiichi’s largest reactor which had an output of 784 megawatts), along with several uranium enrichment plants, and certainly military storage sites and quite likely even uranium mines, all bombed to dust within a matter of days. Moreover, unlike the Fukushima Daiichi reactors which suffered only partial meltdowns with much of the fuel rods and spent fuel storages remaining mostly intact, “all” of Iran’s nuclear fuel would be exploded into the atmosphere. And let us not forget that the US-Israeli military ordinances employed to destroy Iran’s nuclear facilities would certainly be tipped with depleted uranium, and very likely would include some mini-nukes.

Indeed, in regards nuclear disasters and environmental catastrophes, Fukushima would absolutely pale in comparison to that caused by the bombing of Iran’s nuclear sites. The nuclear fallout from such an event would be extreme, to put it mildly. Tens, if not hundreds of thousands of innocent Iranians would likely die within the first year of such a strike, while millions more would die within a decade or two of some form of radiation-induced cancer. And since a significant portion of that nuclear fallout would end up either immediately, or over the course of the next weeks and months in the Arabian Desert, where the winds, year after year, would gather it up along with the particles of sand and dust into gigantic roiling irradiated storms (remember, “hundreds” of such sand and dust storms annually), not a person living anywhere in the Gulf State region would be safe from exposure. The Persian Gulf, too, would soon be so irradiated and toxic and lifeless that it might as well be renamed the New Dead Sea.



No Substantial Agreement Possible As Long As U.S. Refuses To Recognize Iran’s Nuclear Right...

TEHRAN – An article published by Al Jazeera on Friday says that as long as Washington refuses to recognize Iran’s right to enrich uranium, no substantial agreement will be possible.

Iran and the 5+1 group (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany) are engaged in a process of talks meant to help resolve the dispute over the country’s nuclear program.

Following are excerpts of the article:

European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton will meet with Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator, Saeed Jalili, in Istanbul next week - on May 15. Purportedly, Ashton will see if the P5+1 dialogue with Iran can be put back on track after yet another round of nuclear talks with Iran failed last month.

Publicly, Western officials blame the failure either on the Islamic Republic’s upcoming presidential election or on that old fallback, Iranian “intransigence”. In reality, talks failed because America and its Western partners remain unwilling to recognize Iran’s right to enrich uranium under international safeguards.

As a sovereign state, Iran is entitled to enrich, if it chooses; as a party to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), it is entitled to do so under safeguards. The NPT explicitly recognizes signatories’ “inalienable right” to use nuclear technology for peaceful purposes. That this inalienable right includes the right to enrich is clear from the NPT itself, its negotiating history, and decades of state practice, with multiple non-weapons state parties having developed safeguarded fuel-cycle infrastructures.



Russia Eyes Stronger Naval Presence In Mediterranean

MOSCOW, May 12 (Xinhua) -- The Russian Navy plans to strengthen its Mediterranean task force and increase the number of its warships, Navy Commander Admiral Viktor Chirkov said Sunday.

Currently, the navy is forming the headquarters of the Mediterranean task force, Chirkov said during a celebration of the 230th anniversary of the Black Sea Fleet.

"We are selecting and appointing officers to posts in accordance with the headquarters structure. The headquarters will include twenty officers, mainly from the Black Sea Fleet," Chirkov told local media.

The Mediterranean task force will comprise warships from the Northern, Baltic, Black Sea Fleet and probably the Pacific Fleet, Chirkov said, adding it plans to have five to six warships and support vessels from those fleets starting from this year.

The number of warships in the task force could be increased, and nuclear submarines may also be included depending on the scope and complexity of future missions, he added.



U.S. Renews Allegations Of Chemical Weapons Usage In Syria

WASHINGTON/DAMASCUS, May 11 (Xinhua) -- The United States has renewed its allegations that Syria has used outlawed chemical weapons against rebels in the country's two-year-old conflict.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Friday that there was "strong evidence" that President Bashar al-Assad's troops employed poison gas against rebel forces.

Still, Kerry pushed the importance of talks to settle the crisis.

"It's not an easy path but it is a path I think we, as a matter of conscience, are obligated to go down," Kerry said during a Google+ Hangout appearance.

The White House said late last month that the United States had established with "varying degrees of confidence" that a sarin gas attack had occurred in Syria.



U.S. Diplomat Meets Afghan FM For Security Pact

KABUL, May 11 (Xinhua) -- The U.S. Deputy Secretary of State William Burns and Afghan Foreign Minister Zalmai Rassoul met Saturday here and discussed the details of the proposed security pact between the two countries, a joint statement released at the end of the meeting said.

"In the meeting, both sides reviewed progress in implementing the Strategic Partnership Agreement (SPA)'s shared vision of a secure, democratic and prosperous Afghanistan and discussed steps to strengthen our enduring partnership as sovereign nations," the statement added.

The Strategic Partnership Agreement between Afghanistan and the United States was inked by President Barack Obama and his Afghan counterpart Hamid Karzai in May 2, 2012 here in Kabul.

If the proposed security pact was signed it would allow limited number of U.S. troops to remain in Afghanistan after the 2014 pullout of NATO-led troops from the conflict-ridden country.



Are Israelis Free To Choose Whom To Marry?

In contemporary Israeli society, civil marriage, gay marriage, mixed couples and same-sex parenting appear to exist out in the open. But we live under the illusion that we have the freedom to choose whom and how to marry. In reality, we can’t marry someone from a different religion – even the type of wedding is dictated to us. These decrees harm freedom of religion and they don’t only affect Jews. In Arab society, the situation is even more challenging. A discussion about the topic took place in Haifa recently.


Resource: Over Half Of Palestinians Killed In 'Pillar of Defense' Were Civilians

Human rights organization B’Tselem published a report reviewing harm to civilians in Operation Pillar of Defense. The report provides statistics on the numbers of Palestinians and Israelis killed over the course of the operation, which lasted from November 14 to 21, 2012. The report challenges the common perception in the Israeli public and media that the operation was ‘surgical’ and caused practically no fatalities among uninvolved Palestinian civilians. Furthermore, the report finds that there was a significant difference between the first and the final days of the operation: of the uninvolved Palestinian fatalities, 80 percent were killed in the last four days of the operation.

According to B’Tselem’s investigation, 167 Palestinians were killed by the Israeli military during the operation. This number includes 62 Palestinians who took part in the hostilities and seven other who were targets of assassination. Of the remaining fatalities, 87 did not take part in the hostilities. With regard to 11 fatalities B’Tselem was unable to determine whether or not they had taken part in the hostilities.



Former US President Carter Calls For EU Labelling Of Goods From Illegal Israeli Settlements

The EU should move to introduce proper labelling of goods produced on illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank, former US president Jimmy Carter and fellow members of the Elders, an independent group of global leaders, urged during a visit to Dublin yesterday.

Mr Carter was speaking after he and fellow Elders including Ireland’s former president Mary Robinson and former Brazilian president Fernando Henrique Cardoso held a meeting with diplomats from some 20 European countries to discuss the EU’s role in helping revive the moribund Middle East peace process.

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Eamon Gilmore was also in attendance, as were representatives from NGOs including Irish aid agency Trócaire which has campaigned for a Europe-wide boycott of goods produced in West Bank settlements.

“With the Middle East peace process making no significant progress, we call on Europe to play a stronger and more independent role in revitalising peace efforts, with a fresh approach,” said Mr Carter. “The EU has repeatedly condemned settlement expansion in the West Bank. It could therefore introduce a clear labelling of products made in Israeli settlements, which are illegal under international law.”


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