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U.S. terror drone attack kills 18 in NW Pakistan

Waziristan
Pakistani tribesmen raise their hands to condemn U.S. drone strikes in January 2012 in Mir Ali, a border town of North Waziristan.
U.S. missiles slammed into three compounds close to the Afghan border Friday, killing 18 people, Pakistani officials said, just a day after the government summoned an U.S. diplomat to protest drone strikes in the country's northwest tribal region.

The drones struck the North Waziristan tribal area, Pakistani media reported.

Friday's strikes were the fourth attack in the span of a week, as well as the most deadly. The drone campaign has been a source of friction between the U.S. and Pakistan, which sees the strikes as an infringement on its sovereignty.

On Thursday, Pakistan's Foreign Ministry summoned a U.S. diplomat to protest the recent drone strikes.

"A senior U.S. diplomat was called to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and informed that the drone strikes were unlawful, against international law and a violation of Pakistan's sovereignty. It was emphatically stated that such attacks were unacceptable," the Foreign Ministry said in a statement. The diplomat was not identified.

One day later, Pakistani intelligence officials said American drone-fired missiles hit three militant hideouts in Pakistan's North Waziristan tribal areas.

Stormtrooper

Syria: Robert Fisk: 'Rebel army? They're a gang of foreigners'

Our writer hears the Syrian forces' justification for a battle that is tearing apart one of the world's oldest cities.


A victorious army? There were cartridge cases all over the ancient stone laneways, pocked windows, and bullet holes up the side of the Sharaf mosque, where a gunman had been firing from the minaret. A sniper still fired just 150 yards away - all that was left of more than a hundred rebels who had almost, but not quite, encircled the 4,000-year-old citadel of Aleppo.

"You won't believe this," Major Somar cried in excitement. "One of our prisoners told me: 'I didn't realise Palestine was as beautiful as this.' He thought he was in Palestine to fight the Israelis!"

Do I believe this? Certainly, the fighters who bashed their way into the lovely old streets west of the great citadel were, from all accounts, a ragtag bunch. Their graffiti - "We are the Brigades of 1980", the year when the first Muslim Brotherhood rising threatened the empire of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's father, Hafez - was still on the walls of the Syrian-Armenian hotels and silver shops. A 51-year-old general handed me one of the home-made grenades that littered the floor of the Sharaf mosque; a fluffy fuse poking from the top of a lump of shrapnel, coated in white plastic and covered in black adhesive tape.

Inside the mosque were bullets, empty tins of cheese, cigarette butts and piles of mosque carpets, which the rebels had used as bedding. The battle had so far lasted 24 hours. A live round had cut into the Bosnian-style tombstone of a Muslim imam's grave, with a delicate stone turban carved on its top. The mosque's records - lists of worshippers' complaints, Korans and financial documents - were lying across one room in what had evidently marked the last stand of several men. There was little blood. Between 10 and 15 of the defenders - all Syrians - surrendered after being offered mercy if they laid down their arms. The quality of this mercy was not, of course, disclosed to us.

Butterfly

Participation of World Leaders in NAM Summit Shows US Failure

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© Fars News AgencyCleric Hojjatoleslam Kazzem Sediqi
Tehran's Friday Prayers Leader Hojjatoleslam Kazzem Sediqi said massive participation of the world leaders in the next week summit meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) in Tehran means another defeat and failure for the US and Israel in their confrontation against Iran.

Addressing a large congregation of worshipers on Tehran University Campus on Friday, Sediqi referred to the 16th heads-of-state summit of the NAM in Tehran next week, and said Iran's enemies, specially the US, have spared no efforts to discourage the officials, especially the leaders, of the NAM member states from participating in the Tehran summit in a bid to portray Iran as an isolated country, but to no avail.

"The summit is a milestone and a clear and practical response (to enemies) and shows that the global arrogance is holding just a rusty gun in its hand and its motto's are empty and its claims are baseless," he added.

And the vast participation of the world leaders in the Tehran summit means another defeat and failure for the enemies, he added.

Bizarro Earth

Greek PM says country 'to sell off islands' in bid to avoid bankruptcy

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© News Pictures/WENN.comGreek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras suggested his embattled country could cash in on its 6,000 islands to stave off bankruptcy
Greece is considering selling off some of its islands to avoid national bankruptcy.

Greek prime minister Antonis Samaras said yesterday that leasing islands might ease its woes.

Greece has around 6,000 islands in total, many of which are uninhabited.

He told French newspaper Le Monde: 'On condition that no national security problem is posed, some of the islands could be used commercially.

'It would not be a case of getting rid of the islands, but of transforming unused terrain into capital that can generate revenue, for a fair price.'

Mr Samaras argued that attracting foreign investment was crucial to reviving the Greek economy, adding that sections of Greece's Attica coast to the east of Athens may also be attractive to private buyers.

Under the plans it is likely that developers would lease the land for a period of decades and build houses and hotels.

Alarm Clock

SOTT Focus: 'Free Syrian Army' aka 'al-Qaeda' aka US, Israeli and British Mercenaries, Use Syrian Man as 'Suicide Bomber'

Watch the following short BBC News report. It reveals a truth that has been kept hidden for many years now: that many of the 'suicide bombings' around the world in the last 15 years (or more) have been carried out by third parties in the way described in this video - forcing or duping a person into becoming an unwitting 'suicide bomber'.


War Whore

For Israel to go to war with Iran would be the height of folly

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© Getty Images
On standby: an Israeli F-15 fighter jet on manoeuvres in the Negev desert.
Judging by the rhetorical fusillades exchanged between Israel and Iran, the threat of war between the two adversaries becomes greater day by day. Meanwhile, the chances of formal diplomacy settling the confrontation over Tehran's nuclear ambitions have receded almost to vanishing point, with the failure of the most recent talks in Moscow in June.

But scratch beneath the surface, and the picture is very different: war is not around the corner and it might not happen at all. I claim no great insight and I could be proven wrong tomorrow if Israel were to begin air strikes against Iran's nuclear facilities. Yet the case against panic remains convincing.

First and foremost, war with Iran would be a terrible option for Israel. The Iranian people would probably respond to outside attack by rallying behind their leaders and strengthening a deeply unpopular regime.

Iran would hit back through Hizbollah in Lebanon and by trying to close the Strait of Hormuz, imposing civilian casualties on Israel and a grave burden on the global economy. In Syria, Bashar al-Assad would have the opportunity to pose alongside Iran as a dual victim of a Zionist plot.

Comment: Rational decision makers, one wonders what country is he referring to?

Iran has made clear on several occasions that it doesn't seek a nuclear weapon.


Bad Guys

Oil and Gas Companies Can Take Your Land

Cabot Oil & Gas has taken Ken Ely's land
© Scranton Times TribuneCabot Oil & Gas has taken Ken Ely's land, polluted his water and run over his dog in Pennsylvania.
No Person Shall Be Deprived of Life, Liberty or Property... Unless the Oil and Gas Industry Says So.
Eminent domain, the government's right to condemn (or take) private land for "public use," has at times been a highly contentious topic because it can displace people from their homes to make way for construction of different projects, like highways or roads, civic buildings and other types of public infrastructure. However, what some may not realize is that several states have granted eminent domain authority to certain private entities, including oil and gas companies. These companies are using it as a tool to seize private land, which increases profits and benefits their wallets.

According to the U.S. Constitution's Fifth Amendment, in order to pursue eminent domain, the land must be taken for "public use" and the private property owners must receive "just compensation."

Chess

The Euro Is Not in Trouble. The Common People Are

Euro
© Unbekannt
One of the phrases frequently written in economic circles in the United States (and, to a lesser degree, in Europe) is, "The euro is going to collapse." Those who repeat that phrase over and over again do not seem to know how the euro was established, by whom and for whose benefit. If they knew the history of the euro, they would have noticed that the major forces behind the euro have done very well and continue to do so. As long as they continue to benefit from the euro's existence, the euro will continue to exist.

Let's start with the euro's history and the major reason it was established. After the collapse of the Berlin Wall, it looked like East and West Germany could reunite and - as the Western German establishment wanted - become, once again, a united Germany. That possibility did not please democratic Europe. Twice in the 20th century, the majority of European countries had to go to war to stop the expansionist aims of a united Germany. The European governments were not pleased to see post-Nazi Germany reunited. President François Mitterrand of France even said ironically that, "I love Germany so much that I prefer to see two Germanys rather than one."

The only alternative these governments saw was to make sure the united Germany would not become an isolated country in front of everyone else. Germany had to become integrated into Europe. It had to become Europeanized. Mitterrand thought one way of doing this was to have the German currency, the mark, be replaced by a new European currency, the euro. This was thought to be a way of anchoring post-Nazi Germany to democratic Europe.

The German establishment, however, put forth conditions. One was to establish a financial authority, the European Central Bank (ECB), that would manage the euro and have as its only objective to keep inflation down. The ECB would be under the heavy influence of (that is, controlled by) the German Central Bank, the Bundesbank. The other condition was to establish the stability pact, which would impose financial discipline on member states of the eurozone. Their public deficits would have to remain lower than 3 percent of their gross domestic products (GDPs), even in moments of recession.

To understand why the other countries accepted these conditions, one has to understand that neoliberalism (which started with President Ronald Reagan in the United States and with Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in the United Kingdom) was the dominant ideology in those countries. A major position within that neoliberal dogma was to reduce the role of the states as much as possible, encouraging private financing and de-emphasizing domestic demand as the way of stimulating the economy. In this view, the main motor of the economy should be the growth of exports. These are the roots of the problem - not of the euro, which is in good health - but of the welfare and well-being of the population in those countries.

Hourglass

Israel's War Rhetoric against Iran Threatens Global Security

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© Fars News AgencyEshaq Ale-Habib
Iran's Deputy Ambassador to the United Nations Eshaq Ale-Habib in a letter to the UN Security Council President, Gerard Araud, and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned the Zionist officials' war rhetoric against Tehran, cautioning that the Israeli threats are a flagrant violation of the UN Charter's basic principles.

"The Islamic Republic of Iran expresses, once again, its deep concern over, and strong condemnation of such a provocative, unwarranted and irresponsible statement by the Prime Minister and Defense Minister as well as other officials of the Israeli regime who frequently threaten Iran with military strike," the letter said.

The full text of the Iranian envoy's letter to the UN follows:

Red Flag

Best of the Web: Intelligence bulletin prepared by the FBI and Department of Homeland Security warn of possible anarchist activity at conventions?

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Law enforcement is concerned about potential violence by anarchists at upcoming political conventions

Law enforcement officials are concerned about possible violence by anarchist extremists at the upcoming Republican and Democratic national conventions, according to an intelligence bulletin prepared by the FBI and Department of Homeland Security. The bulletin, which was obtained by CNN, says that anarchists could try to use improvised explosive devices.

It also says that, as of March, the FBI had intelligence indicating individuals from New York "planned to travel to Tampa and attempt to close" all of the Tampa Bay-area bridges during the Republican National Convention next week.

According to the document, the FBI's information as of March showed that anarchist extremists proposed "engaging in potentially destructive criminal activities against critical infrastructure outside the security perimeter throughout the Tampa Bay region because they expected access to the main RNC venue to be tightly controlled."