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US-Russia nuclear arms treaty takes effect

Munich
Image
© Frank Augstein/Associated Press
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, right, and Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov finalize the New START treaty during the Conference on Security Policy in Munich, Germany, Saturday, Feb. 5, 2011.
- A new U.S.-Russia nuclear arms control treaty went into effect Saturday, securing a key foreign policy goal of President Barack Obama and raising hopes among officials on both sides that it will provide the impetus for Moscow and Washington to negotiate further reductions.

"The treaty marks significant progress toward President Obama's vision of a world without nuclear weapons," U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said after exchanging ratification papers with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on the sidelines of an international security conference in Munich.

"Partnership with Russia is vital to our continued progress and to all that we hope to accomplish," she said. "We must build the habits of cooperation that let us rise above our differences to address urgent matters of global security together."

The New START treaty - the first major revamping of nuclear disarmament deals since the late Cold War era - was approved by the U.S. Senate in December after a bruising fight during which Obama pressed strongly for its passage. Russia ratified the deal last month.

Newspaper

Egypt regime offers concessions to opposition

Government to allow freedom of the press, will release detained protesters and will study constitutional reforms

Egypt's vice president met a broad representation of major opposition groups for the first time Sunday and offered new concessions including freedom of the press, release of those detained since anti-government protests began nearly two weeks ago and the eventual lifting of the country's hated emergency laws.

Two of the groups that attended the meeting said this was only a first step in a dialogue which has yet to meet their central demand - the immediate ouster of longtime President Hosni Mubarak.

"People still want the president to step down," said Mostafa al-Naggar, a protest organizer and supporter of Mohamed ElBaradei, a Nobel Peace laureate and one of the country's leading democracy advocates.


Eye 1

Bush ducks Swiss trip over torture complaint

pardon our torture
© Unknown

Geneva- Former U.S. President George W. Bush, under fire from human rights group over allegations of ordering torture, has canceled a visit to Switzerland where he was to address a Jewish charity gala.

Bush was to be the keynote speaker at Keren Hayesod's annual dinner on February 12 in Geneva. But pressure has been building on the Swiss government to arrest him and open a criminal investigation if he enters the Alpine country.

Criminal complaints against Bush alleging torture have been lodged in Geneva, court officials say, and several human rights groups signaled that they were poised to take further legal action this week.

Wolf

UK: State Multiculturalism Has Failed, Says David Cameron

david cameron
© AP Photo/Sang Tan
David Cameron has criticised "state multiculturalism" in his first speech as prime minister on radicalisation and the causes of terrorism.

At a security conference in Munich, he argued the UK needed a stronger national identity to prevent people turning to all kinds of extremism.

He also signalled a tougher stance on groups promoting Islamist extremism.

The speech angered some Muslim groups, while others queried its timing amid an English Defence League rally in the UK.

As Mr Cameron outlined his vision, he suggested there would be greater scrutiny of some Muslim groups which get public money but do little to tackle extremism.

Ministers should refuse to share platforms or engage with such groups, which should be denied access to public funds and barred from spreading their message in universities and prisons, he argued.

"Frankly, we need a lot less of the passive tolerance of recent years and much more active, muscular liberalism," the prime minister said.

Play

Egyptian Military Tries to Create Buffer Zone

A little while ago in Tahrir Square a rumor swept through the crowd that President Hosni Mubarak had resigned.

The people went crazy, shouting, "he resigned, he resigned." The Square erupted in a kind of euphoria for 30 seconds. But it quickly became clear the rumor was not true and the crowd is once again calm.

This was the day the anti-government protesters had called "The Day of Departure." Those calling upon President Mubarak to resign immediately had hoped this would be the day.

But yesterday in my exclusive interview with him, President Mubarak told me he had no intention of leaving Egypt.

"I would never run away," he said, "I will die on this soil." So far it seems he is sticking with his resolve.


Eagle

WikiLeaks Cables: US Agrees to Tell Russia Britain's Nuclear Secrets

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© Tam MacDonald
HMS Vanguard is Britain's lead Trident-armed submarine. The US, under a nuclear deal, has agreed to give the Kremlin the serial numbers of the missiles it gives Britain.
The US secretly agreed to give the Russians sensitive information on Britain's nuclear deterrent to persuade them to sign a key treaty, The Daily Telegraph can disclose.

Information about every Trident missile the US supplies to Britain will be given to Russia as part of an arms control deal signed by President Barack Obama next week.

Defence analysts claim the agreement risks undermining Britain's policy of refusing to confirm the exact size of its nuclear arsenal.

The fact that the Americans used British nuclear secrets as a bargaining chip also sheds new light on the so-called "special relationship", which is shown often to be a one-sided affair by US diplomatic communications obtained by the WikiLeaks website.

Details of the behind-the-scenes talks are contained in more than 1,400 US embassy cables published to date by The Telegraph, including almost 800 sent from the London Embassy, which are published online today.

Eye 2

Rumsfeld: I should have quit after Abu Ghraib

Donald Rumsfeld
© unknown
Donald Rumsfeld
Former US defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld says in a new memoir that his biggest regret was not stepping down after the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal, US media reported Thursday.

In his book, Rumsfeld -- a lightning rod for criticism during his long tenure at the Pentagon -- defends his handling of the Iraq war and makes no apologies for his major policy decisions, according to advance copies obtained by the New York Times and the Washington Post.

But he said he should have forced then president George W. Bush to accept his resignation over the revelations of abuse by US military guards at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.

"Abu Ghraib and its follow-on effects, including the continued drum-beat of 'torture' maintained by partisan critics of the war and the president, became a damaging distraction," Rumsfeld writes.

"More than anything else I have failed to do, and even amid my pride in the many important things we did accomplish, I regret that I did not leave at that point."

War Whore

Rumsfeld: Bush ordered invasion of Iraq war just 15 days after 9/11

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Former US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld says in his memoirs that ex-President George W. Bush ordered the Iraq war just two weeks after September 11.

In his autobiography scheduled to be released on February 8, Rumsfeld writes that 15 days after 9/11, when Pentagon's focus was on Afghan war, Bush called him to his office and ordered a review plans for Iraq war.

"Two weeks after the worst terror attacks in our nation's history, those of us in the Department of Defense were full occupied," but Bush called for a "creative" option for invading Iraq, The Huffington Post reported on Thursday.

However, Rumsfeld says Iraq war has been worth the costs and offers no apology for the way he handled the conflict.

He says if former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's regime was not ousted, the Middle East would be "far more perilous than it is today."

Bandaid

Mubarak Resigns...As Head of National 'Democratic' Party

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© AP Photo
Out-of favor Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and his son Gemal have stepped down from the positions they held in the ruling party as anti-government protests intensify.

Hosni Mubarak resigned as the head of National Democratic Party (NDP) along with the party's secretary general Safwat el-Sherif on Saturday, DPA reported. Moreover, Gemal stepped down from a position he held in the party.

Hossam Badrawi, a member of the Upper Chamber of the Egyptian Parliament, is expected to take over as secretary general, state media reported.

The developments come as millions of people gathered in Cairo's Liberation Square for the 12th straight day, calling on Mubarak to immediately step down.

Egyptians also continued massive anti-government rallies on Saturday across major cities of the country. Large rallies were also held in other cities including Alexandria and Suez.

Vader

Obama resists calls to cut military aid to Mubarak regime

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© Jim Young/Reuters
Hosni Mubarak with Barack Obama in 2009. The White House sees Egypt's military as the key to removing its beleaguered president.
White House says suspension of $1.3bn in annual aid to Egypt would undermine push towards a post-Mubarak system

The Obama administration today resisted calls to cut its massive military aid to Egypt and is instead working behind the scenes with the commanders of the country's armed forces on how to oust President Hosni Mubarak.

The White House sees the Egyptian military as the key to removing Mubarak, regarded as a necessary first step towards implementing substantive political and economic reforms. Cutting aid would risk alienating them.

The US defence secretary, Robert Gates, the chair of the joint chiefs of staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, and other senior Pentagon figures have been in regular contact with their Egyptian counterparts all week.

Mullen, in an interview with ABC television today, said the US should wait to see what happens next before suspending aid, which amounts to more than $1.3bn (£800m) a year.