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Tue, 11 May 2021
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Syria's State of Emergency Will be Lifted says Bashar al-Assad

Bashar al-Assad, the country's president, says he will lift emergency laws that have been in place for 48 years.


Bashar al-Assad says his country's state of emergency will be lifted by next week. He made the announcement hours after his new cabinet was sworn in.

It came a day after tens of thousands of demonstrators rallied in the capital, Damascus, in one of the biggest turnouts since protests began a month ago.

The lifting of the 48-year-old emergency law has been a key demand of the protesters. The current unrest in Syria has been described as the most serious challenge facing Bashar al-Assad and his regime.

Lifting the emergency laws was the latest in a series of concessions made in a bid to satisfy the public.

Megaphone

US: Must See! Palin, Breitbart Booed at Tea Party Event - The People are Waking Up!

Not everyone at Saturday's tea party gathering in Madison, Wisconsin were fans of Andrew Breitbart and Sarah Palin.

The two popular conservatives had to talk over the boos of about 3,000 pro-labor supporters at the Capitol.

"Shame, shame, shame!" the crowd chanted, according to The Progressive.

"Tax, tax, tax the rich!" was another chant heard there.

"Go to hell!" Breitbart shouted back at the protesters.

Watch this, uploaded to YouTube April 17, 2011.

Dollar

US: Half of Households Pay No Income Taxes, Super Rich See Taxes Fall

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© Creative Commons image via flickr user agrilifetoday
The Internal Revenue Service and the Tax Policy Center in Washington have some statistics that will likely make last-minute filers extra-irate today: The super-rich are paying less in income tax than they used to, and nearly half of all U.S. households don't pay any income taxes at all.

The IRS tracks the 400 highest adjusted gross incomes, and how much they pay in income taxes, each year, reports the Associated Press. In 2007, the last available year for IRS data, the average income in that set was around $345 million, and they paid about 17 percent in federal income taxes. In 1992, the average income tax rate for the same set was 26 percent.

Briefcase

US: Borders Execs to Get Big Bonuses After Laying Off 6,000

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It's not just Wall Street that rewards failure.

Bookseller Borders Group Inc. (BGP) wants to give their executives up to $8.3 million at a time the company is in bankruptcy and laying off 6,000 employees.

In documents filed in court late last month, the book chain said that it was losing about five executives per week.

Under the plan, CEO Bennett LeBow would get as much as $1.7 million. The executive vice president would receive $1.1 million, while the vice president for human resources would $374,000. The corporation would pay out another $2.4 million in other bonuses and $1.2 million in various payments to other executives.

Heart - Black

Secret memos expose link between oil firms and invasion of Iraq

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© Reuters
A British Army soldier investigates a large fire near Basra's Shuiba refinery
Plans to exploit Iraq's oil reserves were discussed by government ministers and the world's largest oil companies the year before Britain took a leading role in invading Iraq, government documents show.

Iraq's burgeoning oil industry: Click HERE to upload graphic (160k)

The papers, revealed here for the first time, raise new questions over Britain's involvement in the war, which had divided Tony Blair's cabinet and was voted through only after his claims that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.

The minutes of a series of meetings between ministers and senior oil executives are at odds with the public denials of self-interest from oil companies and Western governments at the time.

Star of David

Murdered: Juliano Mer-Khamis

Juliano Mer-Khamis_01
On Tuesday 4th April 2011, our friend, teacher and leader, Juliano Mer Khamis was murdered by an unknown enemy of freedom and culture.

All of us at The Freedom Theatre would like to express our deep condolences to the family of Juliano in this devastating time.

Juliano was a loving father and husband, an inspirational teacher and leader, and a friend to many.

Just as The Freedom Theatre was built on the inspiration and legacy of Arna, his mother, so will its future work be built on the legacy of Juliano. It will carry on his message to promote freedom - not only for a nation but for each human being.

Comment: For more info about Juliano Mer-Khamis, Arna's son, please read our SOTT Focus article:

Arna's Children


Attention

Cuba marks Bay of Pigs, opens pivotal Party summit

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© The Associated Press/Franklin Reyes
A worker arranges chairs for an upcoming parade to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Bay of Pigs failed invasion at Revolution Square or Plaza de la Revolucion in Havana, Cuba, Friday April 15, 2011. The parade, that marks the anniversary of the failed 1961 invasion by U.S.-backed Cuban exiles, takes place Saturday.
Cuba kicked off a crucial Communist Party congress Saturday with a big military and civilian parade to mark 50 years since the defeat of CIA-backed exiles at the Bay of Pigs, still celebrated here as a landmark triumph over the island's powerful neighbor to the north.

Thousands of soldiers high-stepped through sprawling Revolution Plaza as martial music blared from loudspeakers, not far from an iconic sculpture of Ernesto "Che" Guevara that gazes down from the side of the Interior Ministry building. Helicopters whirred and jet fighters in combat formation roared overhead while freshly painted amphibious assault vehicles and rocket launchers rumbled past.

"Long live Fidel! Long live Raul! Long live the Communist Party of Cuba!" a female announcer shouted, and particpants responded with shouts of approval.

Tweaking a theme from Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, a male announcer declared Cuba's revolution to be "Of the humble, by the humble, and for the humble."

Star of David

Arab Spring may turn into Iranian winter: Israel PM

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© Agence France-Presse
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem. The pro-democracy uprisings sweeping through the Arab world are in danger of being manipulated by Iran's Islamic Republic, Netanyahu warned in an interview with AFP.
The pro-democracy uprisings sweeping through the Arab world are in danger of being manipulated by Iran's Islamic Republic, Israel's Benjamin Netanyahu warned in an interview with AFP.

Speaking in an exclusive interview with AFP at the weekend, the Israeli premier said the unprecedented protests sweeping through the Middle East and North Africa could go one of two ways.

"What we hope to see is the European Spring of 1989," he said, referring to the year which marked a turning point for the wave of revolutions sweeping through the Eastern Bloc which led to the break-up of the Soviet Union two years later.

But Tehran, he warned, was trying to cash in on the tide of mass uprising sweeping the region to turn it to its advantage in a bid to repeat the events of 1979 and the Islamic Revolution.

"We could find that the Arab Spring turns into an Iranian winter," he warned.

Handcuffs

2 arrested in slaying of Israeli settler family

Israel announced the arrests of two Palestinian teenagers yesterday in the deadly stabbings of a West Bank settler family last month, capping a monthlong investigation that involved mass arrest raids and the detentions of hundreds of Arab villagers.

The March 11 assault killed a married couple, Udi and Ruth Fogel, and three of their children as they slept in their home in Itamar, a settlement deep inside the West Bank. Among the dead were a 4-year-old boy and his 3-month-old sister.

The slayings outraged Israelis. The search for the killers focused on the neighboring Palestinian village of Awarta, which was put under curfew while residents were systematically arrested, interrogated, fingerprinted, and forced to give DNA samples.

Dollar

US: Congress will raise debt limit: Geithner

Timothy Geithner
© Reuters/Larry Downing
U.S. Secretary of Treasury Timothy Geithner addresses an Access to Capital Conference entitled ''Fostering Growth and Innovation for Small Companies'' in the Cash Room at the Treasury Department in Washington, March 22, 2011.
Congressional Republicans have assured President Barack Obama that they would not hold the economy hostage over raising the debt ceiling, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said on Sunday.

But Republicans appearing on television news shows insisted they would not support an increase of the $14.3 trillion borrowing limit without an accompanying deal to rein in future deficits.

"I want to make it perfectly clear that Congress will raise the debt ceiling," Geithner told ABC's This Week with Christiane Amanpour.

"They recognize it and they told the president that on Wednesday in the White House and I sat there with them and they said, 'We recognize we have to do this and we're not going to play around with it, because we know the risk would catastrophic.'"

After Congress approved a deal last week to fund the government through September, U.S. lawmakers are now focusing on the looming debt limit battle and a July 8 final deadline that could halt Treasury borrowing. As of Thursday, the Treasury was just $76 billion below the limit.