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Purveyor

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Member since: 2003 before July 6th
Number of posts: 21,403

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North Korean Secrecy On Bomb Test Fuels Speculation On Nuclear Advances

By Joby Warrick, Sunday, March 31, 8:12 PM

U.S. officials and independent experts say North Korea appears to have taken unusual steps to conceal details about the nuclear weapon it tested in February, fuelingsuspicions that its scientists shifted to a bomb design that uses highly enriched uranium as the core.

At least two separate analyses of the Feb. 12 detonation confirmed that the effects of the blast were remarkably well contained, with few radioactive traces escaping into the atmosphere — where they could be detected — according to U.S. officials and weapons experts who have studied the data.

U.S. officials anticipated the test and monitored it closely for clues about the composition of the bomb, which was the third detonated by North Korea since 2006. The first two devices were thought to have used plutonium extracted from a dwindling stockpile of the fissile material that North Korea developed in the late 1990s.

A successful test of a uranium-based bomb would confirm that Pyongyang has achieved a second pathway to nuclear weapons, using its plentiful supply of natural uranium and new enrichment technology. A device based on highly enriched uranium, HEU, also would deepen concerns about cooperation between the hermetic regime and Iran.

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http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/north-korean-secrecy-on-bomb-test-fuels-speculation-on-nuclear-advances/2013/03/31/f46bda44-98ae-11e2-b68f-dc5c4b47e519_story.html

7 Injured As Settlers Attack Palestinian School Buses

NABLUS (Ma'an) -- Settlers threw rocks at a two Palestinian school busese south of Nablus on Sunday, injuring seven children, a Palestinian Authority official said.

Ghassan Daghlas, who monitors settlement activity in the northern West Bank, said settlers smashed the windshield of two buses returning from a school trip.

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http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=580826

U.S. F-22 Stealth Jets Join South Korea Drills Amid Sabre-Rattling

Source: REUTERS

WASHINGTON, March 31 | Sun Mar 31, 2013 5:54pm EDT
(Reuters) - The United States sent F-22 stealth fighter jets to South Korea on Sunday to join military drills aimed at underscoring the U.S. commitment to defend Seoul in the face of an intensifying campaign of threats from North Korea.

The advanced, radar-evading F-22 Raptors were deployed to Osan Air Base, the main U.S. Air Force base in South Korea, from Japan to support ongoing bilateral exercises, the U.S. military command in South Korea said in a statement that urged North Korea to restrain itself.

"(North Korea) will achieve nothing by threats or provocations, which will only further isolate North Korea and undermine international efforts to ensure peace and stability in Northeast Asia," the statement said.

Sabre-rattling on the Korean peninsula drew a plea for peace from Pope Francis, who in his first Easter Sunday address called for a diplomatic solution to the crisis on the Korean peninsula.

Read more: http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/03/31/korea-north-usa-f-idUSL2N0CN0BT20130331

Israeli Security Forces Spray 'Skunk' At Palestinian Homes -Video

Israeli forces have sprayed Palestinian homes in the village of Nabi Saleh with 'Skunk'* as a punishment for organising weekly protests against the Apartheid Wall built on occupied West Bank land. Human rights watchdog B'Tselem published a video showing Israel's armoured tanker trucks fitted with "water cannons" which spray the foul fluid at Palestinian protesters.

It is reported that the Israeli forces also targeted all the houses of the village with the liquid formula. A B'Tselem report pointed out the effects of this 'Skunk' spray included causing environmental damage. B'Tselem has reported that this non-lethal weapon has been added to Israel's armoury for crowd control, even though the video shows clearly that it is also used against Palestinian-owned property.

--CLIP


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http://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/5416-israeli-security-forces-spray-raw-sewage-at-palestinian-homes

Cold War Reset? Russia Getting Irked With U.S.

A private U.S. non-governmental organization has spent over $4 million aiding groups unfriendly to Vladimir Putin. The Kremlin has had enough.

In Russia, it is starting to look more like a Cold War reset than the modern political and economic reset Russia and the United States have been trying for over the last several years.

This weekend, newswires from the Associated Press to the AFP reported that the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, led by Sergei Lavrov, said Washington was “interfering” in local politics. The report was based on a statement published on Saturday by a Ministry spokesman named Alexander Lukashevicha about his counterpart in the U.S. State Department, Victoria Nuland.

The beleaguered U.S.-Russia reset went into high gear in the fall of 2011. Then, during Parliamentary elections that saw Putin’s United Russia party lose seats, but still dominate the decision making power, a U.S. funded electoral rights foundation called GOLOS Association charged that the elections were rigged; some small opposition parties could not get on the ballot.

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http://www.forbes.com/sites/kenrapoza/2013/03/30/cold-war-reset-russia-getting-irked-with-u-s/

Obama and America’s “Imperial Temptation” in the Middle East

Following President Obama’s address to an audience of Israeli students in Jerusalem last week, progressive commentators in the United States hailed the speech as “a passionate appeal for peace” that “placed the Israeli-Palestinian conflict squarely back on his agenda.” But those intoxicated by Obama’s rhetoric will soon experience a painful hangover. For the President’s Israel speech and the rest of his Middle East trip were focused, first and foremost, on domestic politics here in the United States. And Obama’s Middle East strategy is marked by a growing discrepancy between the arrogance of America’s regional agenda and its declining capacity to realise this agenda.

Understanding the tragedy of Obama’s Middle East policy requires some historical perspective. Two decades ago, America came out of the Cold War and the first Persian Gulf War with a degree of strategic supremacy like the world had not seen for centuries. This supremacy seemed especially pronounced in the Middle East. Since then, though, America has not been content to maintain its primacy in the Middle East, defend its interests there, and deal effectively with the region’s complex political and security dynamics. Instead, it has succumbed to a post-Cold War temptation to act as an imperial power in the Middle East, trying to coerce political outcomes with the goal of consolidating a pro-American regional order.

The United States did this by retaining military forces on the ground in Saudi Arabia and other Arab states after the first Gulf War—something it did not do, to any significant extent, during the Cold War. It did this by levelling sanctions against Saddam Hussein's regime that led to the deaths of more than a million Iraqis, including half a million children. It did this after 9/11 by invading Afghanistan and Iraq and pursuing prolonged occupations that have killed hundreds of thousands of civilians. It is doing this today with escalating sanctions, covert operations, and cyber-attacks against Iran. Linked to all of these policies is Washington’s perpetual insistence that everyone in the region not just accept Israel but tolerate virtually any definition of its security requirements and territorial needs put forward by the Israeli government.

This imperial turn has proven not just quixotic but deeply damaging to American standing, in the Middle East and globally. As a presidential candidate in 2008, Barack Obama seemed to understand this when he pledged not just to withdraw US forces from Iraq but to end what he called the “mindset” that led America into the strategic mistake of invading Iraq in the first place. But, as president, Obama has pursued the same kinds of policies as his predecessors, extending the damage they did to America’s strategic position.

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http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2013/03/201333012566128270.html

A Clinton In ‘Transition’ Keeps Opponents And Donors Frozen

Hillary Clinton left the State Department nearly two months ago, but she still needs a staff to keep up with the considerable business of being Hillary Clinton. A half-dozen people now work for the former secretary of state and Democratic presidential candidate in a tiny corporate space on Connecticut Avenue in Washington, in what is called her “transition office.”

Transition to what, Mrs. Clinton and her aides have not yet said. But the question hovers over her every move and has frozen in place the very early — but for some potential candidates, very important — presidential maneuvering on the Democratic side.

Mrs. Clinton’s post-government life is so new that she is barely off her State Department health care plan. The Iowa caucuses are at least 33 months away. But that has not dissuaded a network of former campaign staff members and volunteers from starting a political action committee, “Ready for Hillary,” dedicated to what they hope will be her 2016 run.

Nor has it stopped major polling outfits like the one at Quinnipiac University from seeing how she would do in a presidential contest against two Republican contenders from Florida, former Gov. Jeb Bush and Senator Marco Rubio. In a Quinnipiac poll conducted two weeks ago, Mrs. Clinton thrashed both by 11 percentage points in their home state.

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http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/31/us/politics/a-hillary-clinton-in-transition-has-rivals-and-donors-frozen-in-place.html?google_editors_picks=true&_r=0

From Dallas To Damascus: The Texas 'Straight Shooter' Who Could Replace Syria's Assad

By Ayman Mohyeldin and Alastair Jamieson, NBC News

He is a “straight shooter” from Texas who worked as a telecoms executive until November. But Ghassan Hitto now finds himself the presumptive caretaker-leader of Syria as world powers plot the end of Bashar Assad’s crumbling regime.

The American citizen, born in Syria, is the new prime minister of the opposition’s interim government – the apparatus that the international community hopes will seal the end of Assad’s rule.

Friends describe Hitto, 50, as “sincere” and “practical,” but the charismatic technocrat will need all the charm he can muster to unify Syria’s fragmented opposition.

His rapid rise has prompted questions about how the deadly conflict should end and has cast a light on infighting, fueled by regional countries purportedly supporting certain opposition figures.

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http://worldnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/03/30/17500980-from-dallas-to-damascus-the-texas-straight-shooter-who-could-replace-syrias-assad?lite

Egypt, Iran Resume Direct Flights After Decades

Source: Associated Press

CAIRO (AP) -- A commercial airliner left Egypt for Iran on Saturday in what was the first direct passenger flight between the two countries in more than three decades, Egyptian airport officials said.

Cairo-Tehran relations have warmed since the June election of Egypt's Islamist president, Mohammed Morsi. Diplomatic relations were frozen after Egypt signed its 1979 peace treaty with Israel and Iran underwent its Islamic Revolution.

Cairo airport officials say a private Air Memphis flight departed for Tehran carrying eight Iranians, including two diplomats. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not allowed to speak to reporters.

Egypt's tourism minister visited Tehran last month to sign an agreement promoting tourism between the countries. Egypt's Foreign and Civil Aviation Ministries, however, have set regulations restricting the number and movement of Iranian tourists in Egypt.

Read more: http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/M/ML_EGYPT_IRAN?SITE=AP&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT&CTIME=2013-03-30-10-22-05

Syria's Assad Finds An Unlikely Friend In Israel

By HAARETZ

Along with the smiles and backslapping last week in Jerusalem, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and U.S. President Barack Obama also revealed their disagreements over Syria. At their joint press conference the president had harsh words for Bashar Assad, saying the Syrian president “must go.” Netanyahu settled for mentioning the carnage in the neighboring state without naming those responsible or saying anything about political change in Damascus.

For the past three years Netanyahu was Assad’s silent ally. With the Syrian regime becoming destabilized, its borders breached and the struggle for its future rupturing the region, Israel had the back of the tyrant from Damascus. It made no deterrent military moves, did not openly support the Syrian opposition and did not even use the horrors in Syria for obligatory propaganda like “Arabs murder Arabs and the hypocritical world does not care, and we are criticized for much less.” Netanyahu made do with general statements about the “breakup” of Syria and warnings against chemical weapons and missiles falling into the hands of terrorists.

Alliances between states do not require meetings between leaders, exchanges of ambassadors and declarations of support and affection. Mutual interests that the parties understand and act upon are sufficient.

In moving closer to Assad, Netanyahu had a number of motives. First, he wanted to put some space between Syria and Iran, in the hope that Damascus would stand aside in the event of an Israeli strike against Iranian nuclear facilities in Natanz and Fordow.

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http://www.france24.com/en/20130328-assad-syria-israel-friend-netanyahu-diplomacy-unrest-haaretz
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