Member since: Mon Mar 3, 2008, 03:08 PM
Number of posts: 35,568
Member since: Mon Mar 3, 2008, 03:08 PM
Number of posts: 35,568
There are times that one wishes one was smarter than one is so that when one looks out at the world and sees the problems one wishes one knew the answers and I don\'t know the answers. I think sometimes one wishes one was dumber than one is so one doesn\'t have to look out into the world and see the pain that\'s out there and the horrible situations that are out there, and not know what to do - Bernie Sanders http://www.democraticunderground.com/128040277
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McCain baffles Russian communists promising to respond to Putin's op-ed in Pravda
Published time: September 14, 2013 17:18
US Republican Senator John McCain (AFP Photo)
Communists: 'Ok, if McCain fits our Syria line'
The news stirred a bit of controversy in the Russian media since it was not immediately clear which Pravda newspaper McCain was going to write for – the post-Soviet edition of Pravda newspaper or the on-line news outlet Pravda.ru that The Cable actually contacted.
Back in the Soviet times there was only one newspaper called Pravda (or ‘The Truth’), which was established in 1912. After the 1917 Bolshevik revolution and until the collapse of the USSR it remained the country’s most influential daily.
Since the mid 1990s, the successor of that Pravda has belonged to the Russian Communist Party (the KPRF). The Pravda, published in Russian, is the official organ of the party and is led by Communist MP Boris Komotsky.
Gennady Zyuganov, the leader of the KPRF, said that if the newspaper does get a proposal from McCain “we will be ready to consider it, but only if his opinion does not contradict the Communist Party’s position on the war in Syria,” the party’s website quotes.
“The US is attempting to eliminate our last ally in the Middle East – Syria. And McCain is one of the most predatory hawks urging direct aggression ," the Communist leader believes.
Gawd John M, you're such a dumbass.
Posted by Catherina | Sat Sep 14, 2013, 09:17 PM (10 replies)
Bullied 12-year-old kills herself
By Justin King
Sep 12, 2013
Lakeland - A 12-year-old Floridian girl killed herself after she was bullied online by more than a dozen girls. The Sheriff is investigating to see if he can pursue charges under Florida’s cyber-bullying law.
Sheriff Judd of Polk County said that Rebecca Anne Sedgwick ended her life by jumping to her death at an old cement production facility in Lakeland, Florida. Judd said she was “absolutely terrorized” by the girls on social media sites.
The Lakeland Ledger that some of the messages she received included
"“Why are you still alive?”"
An investigation of her previous search results included queries about how many Advil it took to overdose, and she had recently changed her name on a free social messaging application to “That Dead Girl.” They also found photos of Sedgwick with her head resting on a railroad track.
At Least 15 Girls Were Part of 12-Year-Old's Social Media Circle
Months of taunts preceded the suicide of Rebecca Ann Sedwick, 12.
By Stephanie Allen
He said it appears the bullying started sometime in 2012 and was physical at her former school, Crystal Lake Middle School.
After Rebecca left Crystal Lake in February to be home- schooled, the bullying moved online.
Detectives have learned the bullying might have started over a boyfriend problem, Judd said.
"We're trying to sort out a bunch of girl talk that goes further than girl talk," he said.
Judd said a 12-year-old boy in North Carolina, whom Rebecca met through social media, knew of her plan. Rebecca messaged him only hours before her death, saying she was dead and "I'm jumping, I can't take it anymore."
Published: Thursday, September 12, 2013 at 1:39 p.m.
RIP Rebecca Anne Sedgwick
RIP Amanda Todd
RIP all the victims of online and in-person bullying.
And FUCK YOU, I can't wait for Karma, all you slandering, lying, fucked-up, pathetic, SICK bullies who don't deserve another night's breath.
Posted by Catherina | Sat Sep 14, 2013, 08:08 PM (6 replies)
Pentagon in Back Seat as Kerry Leads Charge
By THOM SHANKER
Published: September 13, 2013
WASHINGTON — In the weeks of sometimes bewildering debate in Washington about what to do in Syria, one truth has emerged: President Obama has transformed his relationship with the Pentagon and the military.
The civilian policy makers and generals who led Mr. Obama toward a troop escalation in Afghanistan during his first year in office, a decision that left him deeply distrustful of senior military leaders, have been replaced by a handpicked leadership that includes Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Through battlefield experience — Mr. Hagel as an infantryman in 1967 and 1968 in Vietnam, and General Dempsey as a commander during some of the most violent years in Iraq — both men share Mr. Obama’s reluctance to use American military might overseas. A dozen years after the Pentagon under Donald H. Rumsfeld began aggressively driving national security policy, the two have wholeheartedly endorsed a more restricted Pentagon role.
The crisis in Syria is the most recent and most powerful example of how Mr. Obama, elected twice on a promise to disengage the United States from overseas conflicts, has moved the Pentagon to a back seat. In this case, it is Secretary of State John Kerry who is leading the charge, not the far less vocal Mr. Hagel and General Dempsey.
Senator John McCain, the Arizona Republican, has been the most critical. Just before the current push for an attack, prompted by what American intelligence agencies say was the deaths of 1,400 people by poison gas, Mr. McCain said General Dempsey was campaigning to avoid action by describing the risks and costs of the most extreme options for intervention. The general’s assessments “are beyond anything that any rational military thinker that I know would ever contemplate,” Mr. McCain said.
"It doesn't concern me in the slightest" -John McCain
Posted by Catherina | Sat Sep 14, 2013, 04:47 PM (3 replies)
Remarks With Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov After Their Meeting
John Kerry, Secretary of State
Sergey Lavrov, Russian Foreign Minister
September 14, 2013
SECRETARY KERRY: Well, thank you very much for your patience, not just this morning, but over the last couple of days. We’re very appreciative and particularly grateful to Sergey Lavrov, who stayed extra time from what he had originally planned, hoping we’d finish sooner, and this gave us additional opportunity to be able to work through some of the issues.
I especially want to thank the cooperative effort of Sergey Lavrov, who has worked hard, and his entire delegation, including teams of the world’s foremost chemical weapons experts who have joined us here for the important discussions that we’ve had over the last two days.
Two weeks ago, President Obama made the decision that because of the egregious use of chemical weapons in Syria against innocent Syrian citizens, women and children, all indiscriminately murdered in the night – it claimed the lives even of people trying to rescue people – he believed it was critical for the world to say, “No more.” The President made the difficult decision that after multiple warnings, it was his decision that the time had come to take military action to deter future use of such weapons. But he also made the decision that we needed to take time to enlist the support of the Congress and the American people. And I have no doubt that the combination of the threat of force and the willingness to pursue diplomacy helped to bring us to this moment.
But diplomacy requires willing partners. And I want to thank President Putin for his willingness to pick up on the possibility of negotiating an end to Syrian weapons of mass destruction. His willingness to embrace ideas for how to accomplish this goal, and his willingness to send Foreign Minister Lavrov here to pursue this effort was essential to getting to this point. And I want to thank Sergey Lavrov for his diligent efforts and the efforts of his entire delegation, who worked hard and in good faith to overcome difficulties, and even disagreements, in order to try to find a way, through tireless efforts, to get us where we are today.
I also want to thank Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius of France, with whom we’ve partnered and consulted, as well as Foreign Minister William Hague of the United Kingdom, both of whom will meet with me in Paris on Monday in order to discuss the road ahead.
For nearly 100 years, the world has embraced the international norm against the use of chemical weapons. And the principles that the United States and the Russian Federation have agreed on today can, with accountable follow-through, allow us to expedite the elimination of Syria’s chemical weapons. Providing this framework is fully implemented, it can end the threat these weapons pose not only to the Syrian people, but also to their neighbors, to the region, and because of the threat of proliferation, this framework can provide greater protection and security to the world.
We said at the outset that to accomplish our goal, this plan had to produce transparency, accountability, timeliness, and enforceability. It must be credible and verifiable. If fully implemented, we believe it can meet these standards. The world will now expect the Assad regime to live up to its public commitments. And as I said at the outset of these negotiations, there can be no games, no room for avoidance or anything less than full compliance by the Assad regime. I thank Sergey Lavrov for his efforts to try to guarantee the genuine aspects of this framework.
So let me just outline specifically where we are, and the steps that the United States and Russia have agreed to take under this framework.
First, the scope: We have reached a shared assessment of the amount and type of chemical weapons possessed by the Assad regime, and we are committed to the rapid assumption of control by the international community of those weapons.
Second, specific timelines: The United States and Russia are committed to the elimination of Syrian chemical weapons in the soonest and safest manner. We agreed that Syria must submit, within a week – not in 30 days, but in one week – a comprehensive listing. And additional details will be addressed regarding that in the coming days.
Third, the unprecedented use of Chemical Weapons Convention procedures is an important component of this framework. We have committed to use extraordinary procedures under the Chemical Weapons Convention for the expeditious destruction and stringent verification of Syrian chemical weapons.
Fourth, verification and monitoring: In the interest of accountability, the United States and Russia have agreed that the Syrians must provide the Organization for the Prevention of Chemical Weapons and supporting personnel with an immediate and unfettered right to inspect any and all sites in Syria.
Fifth, destruction: We have agreed to destroy all chemical weapons, including the possibility of removing weapons for destruction outside of Syria. We have also reached a side agreement on methodology.
Fifth, finally, consequences – sixth, excuse me: Our agreement today strengthens the OPCW – the Organization for the Prevention of Chemical Weapons Executive Council decision to use the Chemical Weapons Convention extraordinary procedures in order to ensure full implementation. It also provides for UN administrative and logistical support to the OPCW for inspections and destruction. In the event of noncompliance, we have committed to impose measures under Chapter 7 within the UN Security Council.
Ultimately, perhaps more so than anywhere in the world, actions will matter more than words. In the case of the Assad regime, President Reagan’s old adage about “Trust but verify” – “Doveryai no proveryai”, I think, is the saying – that is in need of an update. And we have committed here to a standard that says, “Verify and verify.”
But I also want to be clear about the endgame here. If we can join together and make this framework a success and eliminate Syria’s chemical weapons, we would not only save lives, but we would reduce the threat to the region, and reinforce an international standard, an international norm. We could also lay the groundwork for further cooperation that is essential to end the bloodshed that has consumed Syria for more than two years.
What we agreed on here today could conceivably be the first critical, concrete step in that direction. The United States and Russia have long agreed that there is no military solution to the conflict in Syria. It has to be political. It has to happen at the negotiating table. And we, together, remain deeply committed to getting there. From the beginning, President Obama has repeated again and again there is no military solution. We must find a political solution through diplomacy.
Foreign Minister Lavrov and I have long talked about the importance of creating the conditions for a political settlement that implements the Geneva 1 communique. We will very soon be meeting again. We’ve agreed to meet on the margins of the UN General Assembly with Lakhdar Brahimi in order to try to advance these two linked, parallel efforts. And we have no illusions about the challenges ahead.
The United States and Russia have not always seen eye to eye; that is known. And we still don’t see eye to eye on everything. But we will not lose sight of the fact, together, that the implementation of this framework, which will require the vigilance and the investment of the international community and full accountability of the Assad regime, presents a hard road ahead. Ensuring that a dictator’s wanton use of chemical weapons never again comes to pass, we believe, is worth pursuing and achieving. And President Obama is determined that we work hard in the days ahead to travel a path of conscience, and to achieve our goals. And we know that President Putin and Sergey Lavrov are committed to that endeavor.
FOREIGN MINISTER LAVROV: (Via interpreter) Esteemed ladies and gentlemen, I would like to join to – for your patience. And I’m not going to interpret the documents that we have just agreed on. They are going to be submitted. Everyone will be – it will be possible for everyone to look at them.
I just want to state that it’s a decision based on a consensus and a compromise and professionalism. And we have achieved an aim that we had in front of us, in front of our presidents when they talked on the 5th of September, on Friday, in the margins of the G-20 in St. Petersburg, and that later was announced, just not long ago, on the 8th of September, in – on Monday, and the aim is to resolve the solution to put under international control the arsenals of chemical weapons in Syria.
And today, I think in record times, we have an agreed proposal. I would like to state that this is a proposal that should gain – judicial form, a low form, but we cannot overestimate it.
I would like to thank all our American partners, especially John Kerry, for a constructive work in the course of which we could – the rhetoric that was not related to the – our negotiations, and to concrete – on the professionalism and to put under international control of the Syrian chemical weapons arsenal, and for the furtherance of its destruction.
And the parting point was the decision of Damascus to join the OPC – the Convention on Chemical Weapons and the readiness of Damascus to be committed – its obligations to the formal entering into force of this convention after 30 days. And this convention and the obligations by the Damascus – will start implementing its obligations much in advance. We have agreed on the mutual steps that our delegations are going to do in – within the organization, OPCW, according to the procedures of it are enlisted in the CWC, that permit operatively and without any delays, without any difficulties, to resolve the objectives of destruction of chemical arsenals.
We hope that the members of the Executive Committee of the OPCW will share our approaches, the Russian approaches and the American approaches, and to adopt a decision on measures about the chemical weapons in Syria.
We also agreed that we need the support of the activity of OPCW and the Security Council UN, especially on the matters that go beyond the OPCW. And I would like to mention a very important thing of ensuring the safety of work of inspectors. In our proposals, we noted that the main responsibilities will bear the Syrian authorities. But not only them, also other Syrian parties. The opposition should respond to not creating threats to international personnel. And of course, the international personnel must gain the necessary authority.
So, this is – all has to be, in detail, worked out. But the most important thing is the responsibility to – not to put into threat of the personnel is the responsibility of every party, without exclusion. And we also agreed that any violations of procedures that would be approved by the Executive Committee of the OPCW concerning the arsenal of chemical weapons, as well as any facts of applying these chemical weapons, would be looked in the Security Council. And if they are approved, the Security Council will take the measures – required measures, concrete measure – and we have agreed on that. This agreement goes with those decisions that have been achieved in G-8 in Lough Erne in June of this year, and in these decisions it’s underscored our common approach of non-admissibility of the chemical weapons – of use of chemical weapons by anyone, and the necessary information available to the Security Council.
And of course, in these approaches agreed on, there is nothing said about the use of force, not about any automatic sanctions we – as I said, all violations should be approved in the Security Council convincingly. And we understand the decisions that we have reached today is only the beginning of the road. And I have said about it, this fact, to a complete resolution of the objective to put under control and elimination and destruction of the chemical weapons in Syrian Arab Republic.
And we proposing – making our proposals, we are intent, with our American colleagues, to work jointly, especially in the framework of the Executive Committee of the OPCW, where we – and with other members of this organ – have to translate this document with any dual – possible interpretations, logical – legal form, legal language. And this agreement, which needs universal mechanisms, insurance – but we have agreed on it in very brief time, and we – and it shows that when there is a voluntary – that where there’s a will, when we have intent of the states, when we have friendly relations, Russia and the United States can get results on the most important problems, including the weapons of mass destruction problem. And the successful realization of this agreement will have meaning not only from the point of view of the common goal of liquidating and destructing all arsenals of chemical weapons, but also to avoid the military scenario that would be catastrophic for this region and for the international relations on the whole.
And here, with my colleague John Kerry, we have strictly approved our commitment of the regulation situation in Syria. We had talks with Lakhdar Brahimi, where we discussed the way we can, as soon as possible, to move from the deadlock these negotiations the way that the Government of Syria is doing. We’ve done and we’ve said it, and the opposition will, without any reservations, should participate without any preliminary intentions to participate in the Geneva Conference according to the communique of 2012.
And we have discussed and we have both read about, probably, about the statement made near the date of this possible – of this meeting. Russia wanted to make it in September, or even earlier. Probably the day will be in October. But the most important thing is that all parties are present on this conference, not with some special reservations, special conditions, but the way that the Syrians should decide their fate by their own – only on that important objective.
And this – I would like to know the support of our opinions by many countries, but all the countries of the world. Representatives of France, Great Britain, have been mentioned by John Kerry. We are ready to work with them and the Security Council.
But today, I would like to thank the countries of (inaudible), high organization, of cooperation, and many other countries for their forceful support to the approach of regulating the problem of chemical weapons in Syria only by peaceful means. And I hope that today’s meeting permits the – to go on with this work, so not frustrate their hopes. And I would like to say that the resolution of the decision on chemical weapons in Syria will be a big step on – to achieve an important step to make a free zone of weapons in the Middle East. And Russia and the United States agreeing in – within the conference OPCW are coordinators with the UN, should convene such a conference. It should have taken last year, but it is – delayed it unfortunately, between going to – strictly and to – coming to what we have agreed on. And last year, by consensus, we wanted to make this happen in 2012. 2012 has passed, but we consider it’s impossible, when everybody who has influence on the parties for – the parties that should participate in such a conference, they should influence on the coordinating states so that important objective, which also has an important meaning of nonproliferation, will be resolved.
Thank you very much for your patience. We are waiting for your questions.
MODERATOR: The first question will come from Anne Gearan of The Washington Post.
QUESTION: Yes. Good afternoon. And if – Minister Lavrov, if I could beg your indulgence to please give at least part of your answer in English, could we get a couple of specifics, please? When is the first inspection? Is there a deadline for that and for further action? I heard you say, Secretary Kerry, that it would be as soon as safely possible. But what’s your idea of the view of when that might be?
And, separately, can you reconcile what I thought I heard you say, Secretary Kerry, about a Chapter 7 resolution with what Minister Lavrov said about taking this – that this removes the threat of the use of force? Is the threat of the use of force within the Security Council still an option here? And is U.S. military action separate from that still an option? Thank you very much.
FOREIGN MINISTER LAVROV: (Via interpreter) As for the question that you posed to me, I hope that the interpreters who are working here – they are highly – the interpreters are of high level. Therefore, I will continue to speak Russian.
I would emphasize once again that the documents that you will see for yourself, you will be – we will have this opportunity to read the documents, and they do not need any additional interpretations. Everything is clear in these documents. And these documents cannot – the documents of direct effect – these are Russian and American proposals, and they should be considered first and first of all in the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. After this organization and its executive council adopt corresponding decisions, we will tell you exactly when the first inspection will start, and when these inspections will end. In these documents that will be distributed today, you will see those terms that our experts consider reasonable and simultaneously expeditious that would allow – professionally ensure security of the process of placing under control and elimination of the Syrian chemical weapons.
As for your questions to John Kerry, before he touches upon this question, I would call on you to read very attentively our arrangements and what we are going to be guided by. In the Security Council, we decided to support in the Security Council those decisions that will be adopted in the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons to develop additional measures of picking up these activities that would reflect this specificities of the competencies of the Security Council, and we also agreed that we will expect full implementation of the requirements provided by the OPCW based on the corresponding convention. And in case these requirements are not implemented or in case anybody will use the chemical weapons, the Security Council will take measures under Article 7 of the Charter of the United Nations.
Of course, it does not mean that every violation that will be reported to the Security Council will be taken by word. Of course, we will investigate every case, because there are a lot of false information, pieces of information in the world, and we should be very cautious about every fact. And when we are sure, 100 percent, then we in the Russian Federation will be ready to adopt new resolution of the Security Council to embed the measures to punish the perpetrators of this violation, and it’s nonsense to continue the speculations on the matter today.
SECRETARY KERRY: So let me, as Sergey did, comment on both sides of it, if I may. First of all, there are timelines in here, and it’s an ambitious goal, and the inspectors must be on the ground no later than November. And the goal is to complete the destruction and removal – and/or removal by halfway through next year, 2014. That is a stated goal within this framework.
In addition to that, there is – there are requirements in the framework, which you will see, that automatically take noncompliance and/or some question of deviation from the framework will go to the Security Council for debate as to what measure might be implemented. But there is an agreement between Russia and the United States that noncompliance is going to be held accountable within the Security Council under Chapter 7. What remedy is chosen is subject to the debate within the council, which is always true, but there’s a commitment to impose measures. That’s the language, will impose measures commensurate with whatever is needed in terms of the accountability. We think that’s an appropriate process and –
FOREIGN MINISTER LAVROV: Should, should.
SECRETARY KERRY: Should. And as Sergey knows, under any circumstances, there would be a debate in the Security Council, even now. So there’s no diminishment, there’s no diminution of option. And it’s impossible, obviously, under these circumstances, to have a pre-agreement as to what that specific sanction might or might not be for circumstances that we don’t even know yet. Our hope is that we have a tight enough regimen that is agreed upon, as we have said, in the extraordinary measures that we have laid out.
We have actually agreed on the new process, on a more vigorous process, and a more defined process – for instance, the unfettered access of inspectors that is not in normal CWC procedure. But it will be embraced through a UN resolution as part of the process that exists here. So we have high anticipation that, as I said, if fully implemented, this will have an ability to be both verifiable, accountable, and the world will make its judgments as we go along.
Now with respect to the question of the use of force, first of all, the President of the United States, under our Constitution, as Commander-in-Chief, always retains the right to defend the United States of America and our interests, and he always has that right. Even as he asked Congress to approve, he retained a declared and understandable time-honored right with respect to his power as Commander-in-Chief. But the President also said he wanted to find a diplomatic solution to this. Now the potential of a threat of force is clearly one of those options that may or may not be available to the Security Council, and a subject to debate. Everybody knows the differences of opinion about it. But depending on what Assad does, that possibility exists either within the process of the United Nations, or as it did here, with a decision by the President of the United States and likeminded allies if they thought that was what it came to.
I think the President sending me here and directing me to work with my counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, as President Putin sent him here, indicates that both presidents believe the preferred route, which I think is the preferred route of most of the citizens of the world, is to find a peaceful solution to these kinds of conflicts. And that’s what I think we have worked in good faith to try to do here today.
QUESTION: (Via interpreter) (Inaudible), Kommersant newspaper. I have a question. If you have agreed about the quantity of chemical weapons, the volumes, and where it is going to be destroyed, on the Syrian territory or in a third country, and who’s going to pay for that? Thank you.
FOREIGN MINISTER LAVROV: (Via interpreter) On those documents – sorry, on the question, in the documents you are going to receive, they have the evaluations of our expert, estimated evaluations, by the final conclusion on these issues as well as others will adopt the organizing council of the organization. And the document have a common approach of the terms of the procedures and the volumes, but I would like to reiterate that this should be agreed in the framework of the OPCW and in the executive committee framework. Thank you.
SECRETARY KERRY: Let me just say that we have agreed, as you will see in the documents, on a basic assessment of the numbers and types and locations – we have agreed between us, and that’s a very important point here. Because we expect the Assad regime, obviously, in its declaration, to show the candor that we have shown in reaching that agreement.
With respect to the issue of destruction, there is a clause in which we agreed that we will contribute resources, including finance to some degree. We have a certain amount of budget for this kind of purpose. And we will seek, in the process of the UN and in the effort to have a global commitment to this, help from many other of our international partners. But we’re convinced the urgency of this will be a test for the international community’s commitment to the Chemical Weapons Convention and to the importance of restraining chemical weapons and weapons of mass destruction.
So I think the global community will participate in this, can be achievable. As to where it is destructed, the experts really need to make determinations about individual weapons. Some can be destroyed on the site, many cannot, and that’s something that will have to be part of the CWC process that will be contained in the extraordinary procedures that we have called for.
FOREIGN MINISTER LAVROV: (Via interpreter) As far as who is going to pay, I think that you heard that there were countries who were ready to pay for the war, and I’m sure that there will be such countries, perhaps not the same countries, who will be ready to finance the peaceful solution of the problem.
MODERATOR: The next question will be from David Lerman of Bloomberg.
SECRETARY KERRY: We’re going to send Sergey to talk to them and make that arrangement. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary?
SECRETARY KERRY: Yes.
QUESTION: David Lerman from Bloomberg. Sir, just five days ago in London, when you first floated this idea publicly, you seemed to dismiss it at the time by saying Assad would never do it and, quote, “It can’t be done, obviously.” My question, sir, is how did the impossible suddenly become possible? And why is it credible to think that you can send these inspectors in on the ground in the middle of a civil war?
SECRETARY KERRY: Sure.
QUESTION: And, as a practical matter, if you really want to get thorough, verifiable inspections in all corners of the country, don’t you have to stop the fighting first?
SECRETARY KERRY: Let me answer both questions. I purposefully made the statements that I made in London, and I did indeed say it was impossible and he won’t do it, even as I hoped it would be possible and wanted him to do it. And the language of diplomacy sometimes requires that you put things to the test, and we did.
Sergey and I have been talking even three days before that about this very concept. We had two phone calls on the Thursday and Friday before it. And I got a phone call very quickly from Sergey saying let’s see if we can take this and move, and he talked to his president and they talked – our presidents talked in St. Petersburg, and the rest is history. We’re here.
So, obviously, I would hope and always hoped that we could have removed those weapons, and we wanted to. But we didn’t know whether or not this could be given the kind of life it has been given in the last 48 hours. So, it just didn’t make sense to raise a concept that hadn’t yet been put to the test or agreed upon or worked through. I’m pleased that President Putin took initiative, and Sergey took initiative, and President Obama responded, and we’re here.
And so the question is, “So where do we go from here, and how do we build on this,” which I think is really critical. Now, how do you do this, quote, “in a time of war”? Well, look, this is logical. One of the reasons that we believe this is achievable is because the Assad regime has taken extraordinary pains in order to keep control of these weapons. And they have moved them, and we know they’ve moved them. We’ve seen them move them. We watched this. And so we know they’ve continued to always move them to a place of more control.
Therefore, since these weapons are in areas under regime control predominantly, Sergey raises questions that maybe the opposition has some here or there, and absolutely, fair is fair. Both sides have to be responsible. If they do, that also – and that may present a larger challenge. But those of us who have been supporting the opposition have a responsibility to help create access there, and the regime has responsibility where we believe the – the measure – in fact, we believe the only weapons are – ought to be accessible because the Assad regime controls the access.
So in point of fact, it shouldn’t be in a contested area, largely because they’ve been working to keep it out of the contested area, and that is the sort of silver lining, if you will, in – with the way in which they have contained these weapons. So it’s our expectation that with the cooperation of the international community, with adequate contribution of protection forces and of people to go on the ground, if the Assad regime is prepared to live up to its word, we should not have a problem achieving access to their sites. And that will quickly be put to the test.
MODERATOR: (Via interpreter)
QUESTION: (Via interpreter) And the last question (inaudible). I have two short questions with your permission. Secretary (inaudible) first, if it is possible, could you please clarify? Yesterday in the hall of the hotel we saw Kofi Annan, very respected politician, and we would like to know what were his proposals. He came here with some proposals and he told that he went into the meeting with you two presently.
(In English) This is the same place, same building where, four years ago, Russia and the United States pushed their reset button. So after that conversation with Mr. Lavrov, do you think our countries might reset our relations again?
SECRETARY KERRY: Well –
FOREIGN MINISTER LAVROV: Yeah –
SECRETARY KERRY: Go ahead.
FOREIGN MINISTER LAVROV: Please, (inaudible).
SECRETARY KERRY: No. I think, as I said in my opening comments, we’ve had some differences here and there on certain issues. But we’ve also worked together cooperatively on many things. And Sergey Lavrov and I have never stopped talking. We have consistently been prepared to try to work to deal with issues, and that’s why we did Geneva I, and that’s why we’re here now with respect to this initiative.
Now, on larger issues, on Iran, Russia and the United States cooperate. On North Korea, Russia and the United States cooperate. On WTO, we cooperate. On START Treaty, we cooperate. On the reduction of nuclear weapons, we’ve been cooperating. We just had a 2+2 meeting, which means the two Secretaries of State and Defense meeting their counterparts from Russia in Washington, even in the midst of all the other hurly-burly about issues, and we had a very constructive meeting in which we laid out an agenda to continue to work on weapons of mass destruction, to continue to work on trade, to continue to work on other issues, even the issues that, in the press, get elevated into this question of reset, no reset, et cetera.
So I think – I hope Sergey feels the way I do – there are things we disagree on. But big nations, powerful nations, leaders, cannot afford to get caught up in the small things. And President Putin, to his credit, despite real disagreement with our policy, despite a disagreement with where we were heading, reached out and tried to continue the dialogue. So I would say look for the glass being half-full rather than half-empty, and let’s see how we proceed from here.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) president?
FOREIGN MINISTER LAVROV: Can you wait a second for me to answer the last question? (Laughter.) Thank you.
SECRETARY KERRY: This is what I’ve been doing for the last couple days. (Laughter.)
FOREIGN MINISTER LAVROV: (Via interpreter) Speaking about the meeting with Kofi Annan, as far as I understand, John also met Kofi Annan. Kofi Annan does not have any official position, official post, but is really extremely important and distinguished politician. He is a member of the so-called club of the “Wise Persons,” and he participate in the Foundation support of UN created by Ted Turner and his wife not long ago with him – was in Moscow, and we also met. And it is clear that after – he stopped to become special representative in Syria, and his powers were transferred to Lakhdar Brahimi.
Kofi Annan, as a political animal, as he usually say, he cannot forget about this, especially taking into account that, as a personality, he takes care (inaudible) to avoid wars in the world, and to have more stability. And he is really personally concerned with the matter. And when we met with him, he just asked me to tell me how we see the situation and how do we manage to agree on the fact – it was almost in the evening, and it was understandable that we were very close to the agreement, and we told about this agreement today. And soon in the future, we’ll see legally binding documents in The Hague and in New York after this.
And I told you very sincerely that we are very worried with the attempts to frustrate any efforts aimed at calming down the situation at – avoiding certain and removing certain aspects of the Syrian conflict, including the efforts that were taken together with John today. And I told him that in the middle of our talks.
At the most crucial moment, we just saw on the screens of the television the message that Ban Ki-moon, the Secretary General of the United Nations, talked to some women in some club for women that the report of the inspectors who investigated the accident that happened in Ghouta on 21st of August will be presented on Monday. And he cannot reveal the substance of the report, but he will tell that the chemical weapons were used. And after this, we saw on the screen and Ban Ki-moon said that Bashar Assad – confirm that Bashar Assad committed crimes against humanity.
And then it occurred that there was some film production and there was false information and they were not related together, all this information. And he took into account the assessments were made by an independent commission that was created here in Geneva, this independent commission on Syria. And the members of this committee, they just mentioned the crimes against humanity, but the distinguished television channels just showed everything, and he showed everything, and he showed the information that Bashar al-Assad committed crimes against humanity. And if it’s – it was not just a full mistake, because the meeting was closed, and if it’s not – if it was not just a joke, but it was just an attempt to frustrate our meeting here in Geneva together with John Kerry, and they did not manage, thank God.
But anyway, the use of chemical weapons and the alleged use of chemical weapons should be investigated based on sincere facts. Everybody says that on the 21st of August, that the regime used these chemical weapons. But first of all, we should – everybody should wait for the conclusions of the report to determine whether the chemical weapons was – were used or not. But all these conclusions will be considered together with all other facts who could do this and why, to determine what happened, really, on 21st of August. If we are speaking a lot about the reinforcement of the role of the Security Council, let’s respect the Security Council. Let us not try to predetermine what will be the procedures of the Security Council. Let’s wait for the experts’ report. And there are a lot of facts on the August 21st events and what preceded these events.
And I talked to Kofi Annan and he supported me. It is necessary for the group of experts headed by (inaudible) extensive comeback to continue the investigation of other facts that were included also in the mandate of this group of experts. And I am also very concerned, and Kofi Annan also knows about this – I talked to him – that there is ground to suspect – to have suspicion that the report that will be presented on Monday – somebody tries to correct, to adjust, and to shift to someone’s side, as compared to what was written by the inspectors, and to be ready – that the Secretary General decided that Mr. (inaudible) will participate in the work of the Security Council personally. And all the questions that the Security Council will have will be addressed directly to him. And I beg your pardon that I was talking so long about all this, but Kofi Annan really was interested in many aspects, and I shared with him at least part of our concerns.
As for the question that was posed to John Kerry, I would like to support his words, to join his words, and I told him in introductory remarks that such agreements, such arrangements as we have today on the most difficult and complicated issues, and if this arrangement is not still law – it is not approved in the corresponding structures, but this is a Russian-American initiative. And without being too modest, when we work together, usually we manage to mobilize in support of the majority of the – even full international community, all the efforts. And it shows how important it is for us to go beyond some things that some people try to make most important things in our relations make – try to make them as obstacles in our relations, some suspicions or some concerns that are created artificially. I could say that presidents, during their meeting in Los Cabos last year and during the meeting on the margins of other multilateral fora, always emphasize the intention to continue cooperation in the international arena.
Now, on the bilateral level, yes, we have joint goals to achieve peaceful settlements to make Syria circular and peaceful, where all ethnic groups of – all religious groups have their rights, but we have differences in the understanding of methods. But here in solving the problem of the chemical weapons in Syria, we found common grounds. And we should do the same in all the issues on – as far as on Monday in Vienna, the General Conference of the IAEA will start, and a very important agreement will be signed during this conference related to the peaceful use of nuclear energy. It is very important, from the point of view of its obligation, and we have several more agreements that are also important, including the agreement on drug trafficking control, and we have created the hotline between the security councils of our countries on the issue of cyber security, information security, and by the visit, expected visit, of President Obama.
We have the statements of presidents ready on the talks that we have been – the economic area cooperation, and on the long-term development of U.S.-Russia relations. This visit was cancelled, but I’m sure that the fact that the negotiators laid the correct foundation of this work – this will not disappear. And next time, during next meeting of the President – and perhaps it will be in Russia – these documents and other documents that we able to agree on will be signed. Thank you.
SECRETARY KERRY: (Inaudible), you could be a senator. (Laughter.) Anyway, do we have any more? Are we finished? We’re finished.
Posted by Catherina | Sat Sep 14, 2013, 04:00 PM (3 replies)
The FISA court will release more opinions because of Snowden
By Brian Fung, Published: September 13 at 2:49 pm
Call it the Edward Snowden effect: Citing the former NSA contractor, a federal judge has ordered the government to declassify more reports from the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.
In an opinion from the FISC itself, Judge F. Dennis Saylor on Friday told the White House to declassify all the legal opinions relating to Section 215 of the Patriot Act written after May 2011 that aren't already the subject of FOIA litigation.
The court ruled that the White House must identify the opinions in question by Oct. 4.
The ruling comes in response to a petition by the American Civil Liberties Union seeking greater government transparency. But because the ACLU already has a similar FOIA case pending in another court, Saylor wrote that the new FISC order can only cover documents that don't relate to that case. Depending on how the other case turns out, the ACLU could come back to the FISA court later and ask again.
Senior intelligence officials have voluntarily published some of its surveillance-related documents in recent weeks and vow to release more, but this marks the first time the FISA court has given a direct order to the administration on declassification.
Posted by Catherina | Sat Sep 14, 2013, 01:25 PM (63 replies)
Syrian rebel groups sought to buy materials for chemical weapons, prosecutors say
The prosecutor in the Turkish city of Adana has issued a 132-page indictment, alleging that six men of the al-Qaeda-linked al-Nusra Front and Ahrar ash-Sham tried to seek out chemicals with the intent to produce the nerve agent, sarin gas, a number of Turkish publications reported.
The main suspect in the case, 35-year-old Syrian-national Hytham Qassap has been charged with “being a member of a terrorist organization” and “attempting to acquire weapons for a terrorist organization.” The other 5, all Turkish nationals are being charged with “attempting to acquire weapons for a terrorist organization.”
The indictment alleges that Qassap tried to setup a network in Turkey in order to obtain chemical materials for the al-Nusra Front and Ahrar al-Sham Brigades. Citing telephone calls made by the cell, the prosecution believes that the group ordered at least ten tons of chemicals, Al-Alam News Network reports.
The prosecution also dismissed claims that the suspects were unaware of their wrong doing. “The claim that the suspects didn’t know about the possibility of producing sarin nerve gas from the chemicals they tried to buy is not true which was established when they were testifying,” the document reads.
Despite very shaky claims that RT made this story up, this is straight from one of Turkey's largest, mainstream newspapers 2 days ago but don't expect it in the US news, it doesn't fit the war narrative.
Don't fall for the bullshit.
Syrian rebel groups sought to buy materials for chemical weapons, prosecutors say
ADANA – Doğan News Agency | September/12/2013
A public prosecutor completed his indictment as part of the probe into the chemicals seized in the southern province of Hatay on Sept. 12, claiming that jihadist Syrian rebel groups were seeking to buy materials that could be used to produce highly toxic sarin gas.
The indictment, which included transcripts of several phone conversations between the suspects involved, said that a 35-year-old Syrian citizen, identified as Hytham Qassap, established a connection with a network in Turkey in order to procure chemical materials for the al-Nusra Front and jihadist Ahrar al-Sham Brigades.
“The suspects have pleaded not guilty saying that they had not been aware the materials they had tried to obtain could have been used to make sarin gas. Suspects have been consistently providing conflicting and incoherent facts on this matter,” the indictment said.
Prosecutors also indicated that Turkish dealers of the chemical materials told the prime suspect Qassap during their phone conversations that two of the eight chemicals he was trying to acquire were subject to state approval.
The indictment also contained Qassap’s testimony where he confessed his links with the Ahrar al-Sham Brigades and moved to the city of Antakya following the instructions of its leader, Abu Walid. “After I arrived in Antakya, other rebel groups had come into contact with me. While some had asked me for medicine and other humanitarian aid supplies, others wanted to obtain military equipment,” he told prosecutors.
Posted by Catherina | Sat Sep 14, 2013, 11:02 AM (7 replies)
Thursday Sep 12, 2013 1:34 pm
Mexico City Erupts Over Neoliberal Education Bill
By Michelle Chen
Teachers have gathered en masse in Mexico City to protest President Nieto's new education reform legislation. (Eneas De Troya/Flickr)
For the past several weeks, the metropolis has pulsed with a labor insurrection. There have been fierce union-led rallies, clashes with police, and mass demonstrations that have paralyzed the city, climaxing with an estimated 12,000 teachers storming the streets on Wednesday. The catalyst is Mexico’s new education reform legislation, championed by President Enrique Peña Nieto and his PRI party, which teachers union activists blast as a thinly veiled attack on organized labor.
After lawmakers overwhelmingly voted to implement the reforms last week, demonstrations flared across the capital, blocking traffic and drawing crowds around the French, Spanish and U.S. embassies. The National Education Workers Coordinating Committee (CNTE), a radical union faction representing a third of Mexico’s public school teachers, has mobilized tens of thousands of protesters. The conflict is now widely seen as as a principle test of Peña Nieto’s political strength, symbolizing the class and ideological tensions between Nieto's center-right PRI party and Mexico’s embattled leftist movements.
The government maintains that the law, which amends articles of Mexico’s constitution that guarantee the right to public secular education, is necessary for improving management of Mexico’s school system and raising the quality of teaching. Reflecting the same neoliberal “reform” impulse that politicians have pushed in the United States with charter schools and draconian testing systems, the idea is to tighten controls on educators and students by imposing standardized tests and evaluations. The reforms would also ease the process for firing teachers, aiming to dismantle traditional union control and cronyism in employment decisions. As in the U.S., the "reformers" are pushing "merit-based" performance measures other market-oriented reforms.
Posted by Catherina | Fri Sep 13, 2013, 03:05 PM (10 replies)
Poll: US Military Personnel Overwhelmingly Oppose Syria Strike
By Andrew Tilghman
1:52 PM, Sep. 12, 2013 |
To the list of skeptics who question the need for air strikes against Syria, add an another unlikely group — many U.S. troops.
“I haven’t heard one single person be supportive of it,” said an Army staff sergeant at Fort Hood who asked not to be identified by name.
A Military Times survey of more than 750 active-duty troops this week found service members oppose military action in Syria by a margin of about three to one.
Military Times poll:
A higher percentage of troops, about 80 percent, say they do not believe getting involved in the two-year-old civil war is in the U.S. national interest.
The results suggest that opposition inside the military may be more intense than among the U.S. population at large. About 64 percent of Americans oppose air strikes, according to a recent Washington Post-ABC News poll published Monday.
And since its Kissinger Rehabilitation week:
"Military men are just dumb, stupid animals to be used as pawns in foreign policy."
("In Haig's presence, Kissinger referred pointedly to military men as 'dumb, stupid animals to be used' as pawns for foreign policy."
-- Bob Woodward & Carl Bernstein, The Final Days, p. 208)
Posted by Catherina | Fri Sep 13, 2013, 01:02 PM (5 replies)
Venezuela Pulls Out of Rights Body It Calls 'Tool' of US Imperialsm
- Andrea Germanos, staff writer
Venezuela left the Inter-American Court of Human Rights on Tuesday, a body President Nicolas Maduro decried as "a tool for U.S. geopolitical interests and for persecuting progressive goverments."
Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro. (Photo: Sec. de Comunicación - Presidencia Uruguay/cc/flickr)The human rights court is affiliated with the Organization of American States (OAS), a body other leftist-led nations in the region, including Bolivia, Ecuador and Nicaragua, have been critics of, Al Jazeera notes.
Venezuela's decision to leave the body was originally made by Hugo Chavez last year, and on Monday Maduro said that it was the "best decision" that Chavez could have made.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Elías Jaua said the country wouldn't rethink the decision unless the body undergoes a transformation, and called the court "Arms of the empire to attack Venezuela."
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OAS Human Rights Bodies “Protectors of the Powerful” says Venezuela as It Officially Withdraws from IACHR
Merida, 11th September 2013 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – Venezuelan foreign minister Elias Jaua has defended the government's decision to withdraw from the human rights bodies of the Organisation of American States (OAS), arguing that “ordinary citizens” have been neglected by the international institutions.
On Tuesday, Venezuela’s withdrawal from the American Human Rights Convention (ACHR) became official, meaning the country will no longer recognise the jurisdiction of the OAS affiliated Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACrtHR) and Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR). Confirmation came a year to the day since the OAS secretary general received a formal letter of complaint from the Venezuelan foreign ministry criticising the conduct of the two regional human rights bodies.
“After a year there has not been a single correction (to address the Venezuelan government's criticisms of the IACrtHR and IACHR) despite the efforts of our sister countries, the governments in Ecuador and Bolivia, which have taken on the task of transforming the inter-American system,” Jaua stated.
“We confirm that sovereign decision (to withdraw),” he affirmed.
On Tuesday, spokesperson for the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Rupert Colville condemned the move.
“Regrettably, this withdrawal becomes effective today. We want to repeat our concern that this decision may have a very negative impact on human rights in the country and beyond,” Colville said, according to a UN statement.
Among other international human rights groups, Amnesty International has also hit out at the withdrawal, labelling it a “a serious setback for the rights of Venezuelans”.
However, according to Jaua, both the OAS bodies failed to condemn human rights abuses allegedly committed under consecutive Venezuelan governments prior to the election of former president Hugo Chavez; including the alleged 1990/1 killing of around 50 students by Caracas police.
He argued that previous governments had repeatedly violated the rights of Venezuelans with impunity.
“Unfortunately, the Venezuelan people never had protection under the international guardianship of human rights ,” Jaua stated on Tuesday. Speaking to Venezuelan media, he argued that the two bodies have “overreached” during both the presidency of Chavez and current Maduro government. However, he also stated that the IACrtHR has failed to rule “in favour of any ordinary (Venezuelan) citizen”.
“The Commission and the Inter-American Court of Justice have never been guarantors of justice, but protectors of the powerful,” he tweeted on Tuesday.
He also criticised OAS handling of the 2002 coup that temporarily ousted Chavez from power, along with the case of Luis Posada Carriles, who is wanted in Venezuela under terrorism charges. Carriles currently lives in Miami, and calls for his extradition have been rejected by the United States. The US is a member state of the OAS, but has not ratified the ACHR. In 2002, neither the IACrtHR or IACHR condemned the two day coup that claimed around 100 lives.
Jaua also argued that the twin bodies failed to address a wave of violence in the wake of the 14 April elections earlier this year. The government has blamed then opposition presidential candidate Henrique Capriles for inciting violence.
“The greatest guarantee of the protection of human rights in Venezuela today is the Venezuelan state,” Jaua said.
“We will continue working for the Venezuelan people, the ordinary people, not the powerful corporate sectors, not the corrupt, not terrorists,” he said.
Also known as the Pact of San-Jose, the ACHR first came into force in 1978. The IACrtHR and IACHR are mandated with overseeing compliance with the convention. Venezuela first ratified the ACHR in 1977. Both Chavez and his successor, current president Nicolas Maduro, have criticised the organisations. Ecuador, Bolivia and Nicaragua have likewise been strong critics of the OAS and its affiliated human rights bodies in recent years.
Chavez first announced his intention to withdraw from the OAS affiliated bodies last year. “How long are we going to sit under Damocles’ sword... the IACrtHR is a tool that the United States uses against us,” Chavez told Venezuelan media in April 2012. Then in July, Chavez announced that his administration would immediately cease to recognise the IACrtHR and IACHR.
The announcement came after the IACrtHR issued a ruling that convicted terrorist Raul Diaz Pena was subjected to “inhumane” conditions while imprisoned in Venezuela. Pena had been sentenced to nine years imprisonment by a Venezuelan court, which found that in 2003 he had intended to bomb the Spanish and Colombian embassies in Caracas.
A day before the latest announcement formally confirming Venezuela's withdrawal, Capriles reportedly sent a request to the OAS to declare the April election void.
“The elections, which were fraudulent, must be repeated and the electoral process must be free and fair,” the opposition's Ramon Jose Medina told media after delivering Capriles' request to the OAS.
“The so-called human rights system, the inter-American court and the commission, are by-products of an instrument of persecution against progressive governments that began with President Chavez's arrival," Maduro stated during a press conference on Monday.
“It's reality... the commission responds to the interests of the State Department of the US,” he said.
Maduro described the withdrawal from the convention as “the best decision made by Chavez”.
Published on Sep 11th 2013 at 2.05pm
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unasur @soyunasur 8m
Ecuador podría salir del Sistema Interamericano de Derechos Humanos – http://bit.ly/18RcrRo Los 32 de CELAC deberian salirse del CIDH..
Ecuador could leave the Inter-American Human Rights Convention. The 32 (countries) of CELAC should leave the IACHR.
Back in March, Ecuador had already warned during an OAS session, that it might pull out if the court wasn't reformed to stop being a political tool of the US and if it didn't move its HQs from Washington DC to Latin America. Article is in Spanish.
Posted by Catherina | Wed Sep 11, 2013, 09:25 PM (3 replies)
Marissa Mayer: 'It's Treason' For Yahoo To Disobey The NSA
Marissa Mayer was on stage on Wednesday at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference when Michael Arrington asked her about NSA snooping.
He wanted to know what would happen if Yahoo just didn’t cooperate. He wanted to know what would happen if she were to simply talk about what was happening, even though the government had forbidden it.
“Releasing classified information is treason. It generally lands you incarcerated,” she said, clearly uncomfortable with the turn of the conversation.
She also explained that when the government comes calling wanting information on Yahoo users, the company scrutinizes each request and “we push back a lot on requests.” But “we can’t talk about those things because they’re classified,” she said.
This has been going on long before her reign, too, she said:
“I’m proud to be part of an organisation that from the very beginning in 2007, with the NSA and FISA and PRISM, has been sceptical and has scrutinized those requests. In 2007 Yahoo filed a lawsuit against the new Patriot Act, parts of PRISM and FISA, we were the key plaintiff. A lot of people have wondered about that case and who it was. It was us … we lost. The thing is, we lost and if you don’t comply it’s treason.”
Posted by Catherina | Wed Sep 11, 2013, 07:13 PM (16 replies)