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Mon, 19 Apr 2021
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Bizarro Earth

Bahrain Opposition Ask UN to Stop Pro-Democracy Crackdown

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© Joseph Eid/AFP/Getty Images
Bahraini Shiite mourners chant slogans during the funeral of slain Issa Abdali Radhi on March 20.
Manama, Bahrain - Bahrain's opposition asked for UN and American intervention in the government crackdown on the Shiite protests trying to loosen the monarchy's grip, in a brief protest Sunday in the capital that disbanded before police could arrive to break it up.

The 18 opposition legislators protesting Sunday at the UN offices in Manama resigned last month to protest the crackdown on the month-long revolt, inspired by the pro-democracy uprisings across the Arab world. Bahrain's king declared martial law last week, and a Saudi-led military force from other Gulf nations is in the country to back the Sunni monarchy.

In the five-minute protest, the lawmakers appealed to the UN to stop the violence against protesters and mediate talks between the opposition and the monarchy; they asked the U.S. to pressure the Gulf force to leave.

"They should return home. There is no need for them to be here since this a political, not a military problem," said Jassim Hussein, a former parliament member of Bahrain's largest Shiite group Al Wefaq.

Bizarro Earth

Weakened Yemen President's Own Tribe Calls for Him to Step Down

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© Khaled Abdullah/Reuters
Mourners shouted slogans as they awaited coffins during a funeral for antigovernment protesters in Sana, Yemen. Security forces had fired on protesters from rooftops Friday.
The US-backed president of Yemen took a devastating political blow yesterday when his own powerful tribe demanded his resignation, joining religious leaders, young people, and the country's traditional opposition in calls for an end to his three decades in power.

Massive crowds flooded cities and towns around the impoverished and volatile nation, screaming in grief and anger as they mourned dozens of protesters killed Friday when President Ali Abdullah Saleh's security forces opened fire from rooftops on a demonstration in the capital.

Saleh appeared to be trying to hold on, firing his entire Cabinet ahead of what one government official said was a planned mass resignation, but making no mention of stepping down. Yemen's ambassador to the United Nations and its human rights minister had announced their resignations earlier in the day.

Analysts said Saleh, who has cooperated closely with US military operations against his country's branch of Al Qaeda, had lost the support of every major power base in Yemen except the military. Many said he would now be forced to choose between stepping down and confronting demonstrators with even deadlier force.

Cow Skull

Feedlot Meat Has Spurred a Soy Boom That Has a Devastating Environmental and Human Cost

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© Alternet
South America is being taken over by a handful of companies in the soy business that are destroying ecologically sensitive areas and pushing people from their ancestral land.

Much of South America is rapidly coming to resemble Iowa. Where one might expect to see virgin Amazon rainforest, lush grasslands or Patagonian steppe, there are now often monocultures of soybeans, extending for miles and miles. People and cultures are disappearing in the transition; small landholders and tenant farmers are being driven off their land (or pushed deeper into untouched forests or grasslands); and pasture-based cattle ranches are being replaced by feedlots. In the feedlots the cattle eat some of the soy produced on the land where they once would have grazed; but an enormous portion of the soy is never eaten in South America. Instead, it is exported, mostly to China or the EU. (The United States is the largest producer and exporter of soy in the world and is thus not a major market for South American soy.)

The change has occurred only in the last few decades. Soybeans now occupy huge swaths of land in Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay and Bolivia. Together, these nations make up five of the world's top 10 soy producers. Most significant among them are Brazil and Argentina, which together produced over 105 million metric tons of soybeans in 2008. Half of Argentina's cropland is devoted to soy, and the crop makes up one-third of the country's exports. And for the most part, soy cultivation, processing and exporting took off in these countries since the year 2000. Soy is typically crushed into meal, which is fed to animals, and made into oil used for biofuels or added to many food products.

Bizarro Earth

Libya: Obama's Iraq Moment?

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© Unknown
Tel Aviv - United States President Barack Obama is in a major predicament over Libya. His lack of enthusiasm for a military campaign against Colonel Muammar Gaddafi's forces, evident in his pointed silence on the issue for most of last week, found new justification on Sunday when the Arab League condemned the killing of "civilians" by Western forces in the initial bombing raids.

A request by the league for a no-fly zone over Libya, made a week ago, was considered one the main sources of international legitimacy for the bombing raids against Gaddafi's army. All of the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China) opposed the move, as did the African Union. Thus, the token support of the Arab League was all the more important, and when its secretary general (incidentally also one of the front-runners for the Egyptian presidency), Amr Moussa, said on Sunday that "what is happening in Libya differs from the aim of imposing a no-fly zone, and what we want is the protection of civilians and not the bombardment of more civilians", this undermined severely the moral foundation of the campaign.

True, the legal basis is quite solid, in the form of a remarkably Byzantine United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973, which, in the words of Asia Times Online's M K Bhadrakumar "opens up all sorts of dangerous possibilities to stretch the type and scope of military operations".

Still, for an American leader who built much of his foreign policy image in contrast to his predecessor's unilateral interventionism and who received a Nobel Peace Prize practically on a naked promise for "change we can believe in", selective interpretation of legal documents to justify a war with no clear objective or exit strategy is a slippery slope.

Bizarro Earth

China intensifies condemnation of Libya air strikes

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© Unknown
The Middle East is an important source of oil for China. On the weekend, Saudi Arabia's Aramco announced its latest proposal to supply crude to a refinery in the southwest of China, where Beijing is building an oil pipeline that slices through Myanmar.

About half of China's crude imports last year came from the Middle East and North Africa. China wants to diversify supplies, but Arab countries and Iran hold so much of global reserves that they are sure to remain major suppliers.

Arrow Down

France is collapsing, Le Pen says

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© France 24
Marine Le Pen
After several polls showed Marine Le Pen more than holding her own against rivals in a hypothetical presidential match-up, FRANCE 24 sat down with the far-right leader for a wide-ranging interview touching on Europe, immigration and nuclear energy.

Riding high on strong showings in a handful of French polls on the 2012 presidential election, National Front leader Marine Le Pen has had an early start on the campaign trail.

The far right politician, who took over from her father as head of the party in January, sat down with FRANCE 24 journalist Roselyne Fèbvre for an interview covering a wide range of domestic and international issues. Here are some of the highlights.

President Nicolas Sarkozy

"France is collapsing because of a French president who is no longer running anything, who is governing on impulse or emotion, depending on the circumstances. And France's interests and image have suffered for it."

Comment: Even if some of what Le Pen says is true (although she uses authoritharian-right wing rhetoric), she - like the rest of the psychopathic political elite - is just another Puppet of the Puppet Masters. Political parties, political fights, political agendas, it's all one big game designed to distract people from real issues and give them the illusion of choice. As was once pointed out here, change won't come from politics, because they're ALL one at the top and you can bet regular people's well being are not part of their agenda.

Of course, here at SOTT, we do think that change is coming - and it's Mama Earth who's gonna do it. Some are really not going to be happy about it...


Bizarro Earth

Qaddafi Compound Hit by U.K. Missiles as Coalition Says Leader's Forces in Disarray

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© AP
March 21: Libyan soldiers survey the damage to an administrative building hit by a missile late Sunday in the heart of Muammar al-Qaddafi's Bab Al Azizia compound in Tripoli
British submarines fired two missiles at Libyan leader Muammar al-Qaddafi's compound in downtown Tripoli Sunday, a senior coalition official confirmed to Fox News, as part of a weekend of punishing attacks aimed at protecting the Libyan people.

The British Ministry of Defense confirmed that Qaddafi was not the target, but that the compound was hit because of its military significance. A Pentagon official had previously said Sunday that the coalition "will not be going after Qaddafi."

Info

Canada: Senator resigns in wake of fraud conviction

Raymond Lavigne
© Mike Carroccetto, The Ottawa Citizen
Sen. Raymond Lavigne, shown to the right in this file photo, has resigned.
Senator Raymond Lavigne, who was this month found guilty of fraud and breach of trust, has resigned.

The resignation came Monday as the senate was poised, for the first time in its history, to decide whether to strip a senator of his office.

Lavigne was found guilty March 11 in Ontario Superior Court of defrauding the federal government of $10,120.50 in false travel claims and of breach of trust for abusing his office.

Lavigne's sentence hearing takes place May 10. He faces up to 14 years in prison.

Lavigne, 65, has come under fire for spending $315,355 in travel expenses, on top of his $132,300 salary, despite being barred from doing any work in the Senate or its committees.

His colleagues put him on a forced leave of absence after the RCMP charged him in 2007.

Attention

Canada: MPs' Report Finds Government in Contempt

The Conservative government is in contempt of Parliament, a report by a committee of MPs tabled Monday concludes.


The government's failure to produce all documents that had been requested from it or to provide a satisfactory explanation for withholding them impedes the ability of MPs to carry out their duties, the report said, and the government is therefore in contempt.

The 26-page report was tabled late Monday afternoon and 48 hours must go by before the House of Commons can vote on whether to accept the committee's report. The finding is a historic one and it paves the way for the Liberals, or any of the other opposition parties, to move a non-confidence motion on the matter and bring down Prime Minister Stephen Harper's minority government.

The procedure and house affairs committee began meeting early Monday morning to finalize a draft of the report that had been prepared over the weekend following two days of hearings last week. The committee was tasked with deciding whether the government breached the privilege of MPs by not supplying sufficient documentation on the estimated costs of corporate tax cuts, proposed crime legislation and the F-35 fighter jet procurement. Some amendments were made and the final report was made public Monday afternoon.

"This contempt report - a first in the history of Canada and the Commonwealth - is the result of the Harper regime's abuse of power," Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff said in a statement. He added that the finding undermines the credibility of the federal budget that is set to be delivered Tuesday, because the government can't be trusted.

Bad Guys

Lakewood Veteran Recalls Biggest Nuclear Blast Ever


Lakewood - This month marks the 57th anniversary of an event that shocked the world, but that few people remember. The largest nuclear bomb ever was exploded on one of the Marshall Islands as a U.S. Military test. Harry Kissleman of Lakewood witnessed it from a ship miles away. It was a day he will never forget.

Kisselman, 79, recently told 9NEWS about his experience. The test, in March of 1954, was called "Operation Castle Bravo." The military and Energy Department planned to explode the hydrogen bomb on Bikini Atoll, one of the Marshall Islands.

Kisselman was 22 at the time, and was a sailor on a ship that carried scientists and supplies to the site. On the day of the test, his ship was about 100 miles away. He says what he saw was a total shock.

"The sky lit up, just an ungodly purple and pink, mostly pinkish. Real bright. And all you could do, you couldn't even talk to anybody, was just watch it," he said.