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Israel ready to react with 'great force': Netanyahu

Robert Gates, Benjamin Netanyahu
© Agence France-Presse
Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) shakes hands with US Defence Secretary Robert Gates
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told US Defence Secretary Robert Gates Friday that Israel is ready to act with "great force" in response to a spate of rocket fire by Gaza militants and a deadly bus bombing in Jerusalem.

Israel had been "subjected to bouts of terror and rocket attacks," Netanyahu told reporters before going into a meeting with Gates.

"We stand ready to act with great force and great determination to put a stop to it," he added, with officials saying Israel had not been hit by any projectiles Friday morning.

"Any civilised society will not tolerate such wanton attacks on its civilians," he said.

However, as Netanyahu spoke, Defence Minister Ehud Barak toured the Gaza border with army chief Lieutenant General Benny Gantz, saying that the situation seemed to be calming down.

"In the last 24 hours there has been no fire into our territory, but we continue to monitor the situation," Barak said, according to a statement from his office.

And Barak indicated that if the rocket attacks stopped, Israel would also halt its strikes into the Gaza Strip.

"We don't intend to let the terror organizations again disturb the order but we will do all we need to to return the (military) activity to the border line itself," he said.

Bad Guys

Robert Gates calls for Syrian forces to move aside

Image
© unknown
Robert Gates
Syria should follow Egypt's lead and the Syrian army should "empower a revolution", Robert Gates, US secretary of defence, argued as thousands marched in a southern city.

Mr Gates made his comments - some of the toughest remarks to date by a US official about the rule of Bashar al-Assad, Syria's president - on a day of further upheaval in the Middle East and beyond.

The White House signalled it was preparing for a change in power in Yemen, where it has been allied with the government of Ali Abdullah Saleh, president. Nato allies reached a deal in which the alliance will take over command of the Libyan no-fly zone, although responsibility for strikes on forces loyal to Col Muammer Gaddafi will not immediately come under the Nato umbrella.

Vader

Libya: The Objective of "Humanitarian Bombing" is Death and Destruction

Image
© Unknown
Several hundred people gather at a funeral. The latter is dismissed as Qadhafi propaganda.
The Bombing of Civilian Targets

The objective is not to come to the rescue of civilians.

Quite the opposite. Both military as well as civilian targets have been pre-selected.

Civilian casualties are intentional. They are not the result of "collateral damage".

Early reports confirm that hospitals, civilian airports and government buildings have been bombed.

Within hours of the air attacks, a Libyan government health official "said the death toll from the Western air strikes had risen to 64 on Sunday after some of the wounded died." The number of wounded was of the order of 150. (Montreal Gazette, Gadhafi hurls defiance as allied forces strike Libya, March 19, 2011).

The death toll resulting from aerial bombings and missile attacks (March 24) is of the order of 100 civilians, according to Libyan government sources ( UN Chief Expects Int'l Community to Avoid Civilian Casualties in Libya, March 25, 2011)

Media Disinformation

These deaths resulting from US-NATO missiles and aerial bombings are either denied or casually dismissed as 'collateral damage'. According to British Foreign Secretary William Hague modern humanitarian warfare does result in civilian deaths, a totally absurd proposition:
"This operation has been doing what it was meant to do, protect the civilian population of Libya, and there is no confirmed evidence of any casualties at all, civilian casualties, caused by the coalition strikes on the Gaddafi regime," (British Foreign Secretary William Hague, No evidence of civilian casualties in Libya strikes: UK | Reuters, March 25, 2011)
US Defense Secretary Robert Gates confirms that "The coalition is going to great lengths to avoid civilian casualties and most of the targets are air defence targets isolated from populated areas." (West trying to avoid Libyan civilian deaths: Robert Gates - World - DNA, March 22, 2011)

The objective of the media disinformation campaign is to blatantly obfuscate the loss of life of civilians. Western media reports on casualties are heavily convoluted. Tomahawk missiles and aerial bombings are upheld as instruments of peace and democracy. They do not result in civilian deaths.

Without media disinformation, the legitimacy of the military operation under R2P would collapse like a deck of card.

Cult

Protest movements are crawling with COINTELPRO: Sixth police spy unmasked in British protest movement

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© Philipp Ebeling for the Guardian
Mark Kennedy, psychopath.
A sixth police officer has been unmasked as an undercover spy in the protest movement as it emerged that Mark Kennedy, who spent seven years posing as an environmental activist, is considering suing Scotland Yard.

In an interview with the Guardian Weekend magazine, Kennedy, who went "rogue" and offered to help environmental campaigners accused of planning to break into a power station, says he has suffered severe post-traumatic stress disorder and has been suicidal. His lawyers have been instructed to consider legal action against the police.

Comment: Ah yes, the pity ploy. It's very important to crank it up to the max whenever you've been unmasked.

The latest officer was reported to have been embedded in an anti-capitalist group for four years under the fake name of Simon Wellings. Newsnight on BBC2 reported that his true identity was discovered through a police blunder.

Wellings inadvertently phoned a campaigner with the Globalise Resistance anti-capitalist group on his mobile phone while discussing photographs of demonstrators with another officer at a police station.

Info

US President Obama will give speech about the Libyan situation on Monday

Obama grin
© unknown
Battered by a week of air strikes, forces loyal to Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi still remain a potent threat to civilians, according to Pentagon officials, who are considering more firepower and airborne surveillance systems to find and attack the enemy troops.

As the military eyes other tools in its arsenal, the White House announced late Friday that President Barack Obama will give a speech to the nation Monday evening explaining his decision-making on Libya to a public weary of a decade of war.

The timing comes as Republicans and Democrats have complained that the president has not sought their input about the U.S. role in the war or explained with enough clarity about the U.S. goals and exit strategy.

Among the weapons being eyed for use in Libya is the Air Force's AC-130 gunship, an imposing aircraft armed with cannons that shoot from the side doors with precision. Other possibilities are helicopters and drones that fly lower and slower and can spot more than fast-moving jet fighters.

With the U.S. pressing to shift full command of the Libya air campaign to the NATO alliance, the discussion of adding weapons to step up the assault on Gadhafi's ground troops reflects the challenges in hitting the right targets.

U.S.-led forces began launching missile strikes last Saturday against the defenses of embattled Libyan strongman Moammar Gadhafi to establish a no-fly zone and prevent him from attacking his own people.

Eagle

Former President Jimmy Carter to visit Cuba

Jimmy Carter
© Reuters/Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah
Referendum observer and former President Jimmy Carter speaks during an interview in Khartoum January 15, 2011.
Former President Jimmy Carter and wife Rosalynn will visit Cuba next week to meet with President Raul Castro and discuss ways to improve U.S.-Cuba relations, a Carter spokeswoman said on Friday.

The visit, made at the invitation of the Cuban government, raised the possibility that Carter would get involved in the case of U.S. aid contractor Alan Gross, recently sentenced to 15 years in prison for providing illegal Internet access to Cuban groups.

The case has strained U.S.-Cuba relations after a brief warming under President Barack Obama.

Carter, 86, was to arrive in Havana on Monday for a three-day trip "to learn about new economic policies and the upcoming (Communist) Party congress and to discuss ways to improve U.S.-Cuba relations," said a statement from Carter spokeswoman Deanna Congileo.

He was to meet with President Castro and "other Cuban officials and citizens," the statement said.

It said the trip was a follow-up to the Carters' May 2002 visit to the island 90 miles from Florida and was a "private, non-governmental mission under the auspices of the not-for-profit Carter Center."

Carter is set to go to North Korea soon, where last year he went to secure the release of a jailed American.

During his time in the White House, Carter took significant steps to improve relations with Cuba, including lifting all restrictions on U.S. travel to the island, which has been generally banned during most of a 49-year-long U.S. trade embargo.

Bad Guys

Canadian general taking over command of NATO's no-fly mission in Libya

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© The Canadian Press / HO, DND - M.Cpl. France Huard
Then Major-General Charles Bouchard, give a welcome speech at a graduation ceremony in Jamaica in 2006. A senior White House official says a Canadian will take over command of the NATO mission in Libya. The official says Lt.-Gen. Charles Bouchard, stationed in Naples, has been designated by NATO as head of the alliance's military campaign in Libya.
Canadian general Charles Bouchard is taking over command of NATO's military operations in Libya.

Bouchard, a native of Chicoutimi, Que., has been designated by NATO as head of the alliance's campaign in Libya. He will work with "his naval and air component commands" to enforce the no-fly zone and the so-called civilian-protection mission in Libya, a senior White House official said Friday.

Bouchard, a lieutenant-general whose rank is equivalent to a three-star U.S. general, is currently stationed in Naples, Italy, at the Allied Joint Force Command.

His appointment did not come without considerable debate among the allies. "There were a lot of egos involved," a Canadian government source said.

The source said a British general was touted for the job at one point, but the United States wanted to see a face that nervous allies _ particularly the Turks _ trusted. The tipping point came when the French got behind the appointment, senior Canadian officials said.

There was some political hesitation in Ottawa about the appointment as it represents an escalation of Canada's engagement in Libya just as politicians are about to hit the hustings, the source said.

Stormtrooper

Bahrain Forces Quash Protests

Bahrain protest
© Hamad I Mohammed/Reuters
Small protests broke out in Bahrain's capital for a planned "Day of Rage" today despite a ban under martial law imposed last week, but were quickly crushed by security forces fanned out across Manama.

Helicopters buzzing overhead, extra checkpoints erected on major highways and a large troop presence prevented any major demonstration from kicking off in the small Gulf Arab island kingdom, where a security crackdown last week quelled a month of protests by the mostly Shi'ite Muslim demonstrators.

Bahrain has great strategic importance because it hosts the US 5th Fleet, facing non-Arab Shi'ite power Iran across the Gulf, and is situated off-shore from Saudi Arabia, the world's top oil exporter.

Confronted by mass protests demanding constitutional reform, Bahrain's ruling Al Khalifa family, from the minority Sunni population, declared security their priority, called in troops from neighbouring Sunni-led Gulf states and imposed martial law.

But a few hundred protesters managed a short rally in the Shi'ite village of Diraz today, shouting "down with the regime" as women swathed in black waved Bahraini flags and held up copies of the Koran. But they fled when when around 100 riot police fired tear gas and tried to chase them down.

Bad Guys

Syria Unleashes Force on Protesters Demanding Freedom as Unrest Spreads

Troops reportedly open fire on anti-regime demonstrators as protests spread from Syria's south to Damascus and Aleppo

Pro-Assad demonstrators in Syria
© Hussein Malla/AP
Pro-Assad demonstrators in Syria. Brief clashes in Damascus were reported between anti-regime demonstrators and loyalists.
Demonstrations in the Syrian capital, Damascus, and elsewhere were met with force as security forces struggled to contain unrest that had begun in the southern city of Deraa a week ago.

Thousands once again joined funeral processions in Deraa on Friday, chanting: "Deraa people are hungry, we want freedom."

Hundreds took to the streets in the cities of Homs, Hama, Tel and Latakia and in towns surrounding Deraa, with smaller protests in the major cities of Damascus and Aleppo, which are more firmly under the watch of security forces. Troops reportedly opened fire in some cases.

Protests in the capital are rare and not tolerated by the Ba'athist regime. A witness told the Guardian that efforts at protests in Damascus were broken up by plain-clothed agents using batons.

By nightfall, a counter-demonstration had been mounted near the historic Umayyad mosque in the heart of the capital. Brief clashes were reported between anti-regime demonstrators and loyalists. A large rally then began in support of President Bashar al-Assad. Hundreds drove around the capital beeping horns and waving flags, whilst posters of the president were put up in the city.

Attention

Canada: Government's defeat sets up election call

Image
© Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press
Government falls Prime Minister Stephen Harper votes against a Liberal contempt of Parliament motion in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill Friday.
It's official - the government has fallen from power, clearing the way for a spring election.

The opposition Liberals, NDP and Bloc Québécois came together Friday afternoon in a historic vote to say they no longer have confidence in the Conservative government.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper addressed reporters after the vote and said he would meet with the Governor General on Saturday "to inform him of the situation and to take the only course of action that remains," referring to the dissolution of Parliament and an immediate election campaign.

Harper began his remarks by saying that while Canada's economic recovery has been strong, the global economy is still fragile.

"The budget presented this week by the minister of finance, the next phase of Canada's Economic Action Plan, is critically important," Harper said.

"There's nothing - nothing - in the budget that the opposition could not or should not have supported. Unfortunately Mr. Ignatieff and his coalition partners, the NDP and the Bloc, had already decided they wanted to force an election instead," Harper said. "The fourth election in seven years. An election Canadians clearly don't want."

"Thus the vote today that disappoints me, will, I expect, disappoint Canadians," Harper said.

He did not take questions.