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Dutch Cabinet Resigns After Austerity Talks Fail - Another One Down?

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© Dennis Flaherty / Getty ImagesAmsterdam, the Netherlands
Prime Minister Mark Rutte meet the Dutch queen on Monday afternoon and tendered his government's resignation after talks on austerity collapsed at the weekend.

The Dutch government's failure to reach an agreement in talks to achieve tough spending cuts could see ratings agencies cut the country's prized AAA-rating and nervous investors push up the country's borrowing costs, and it will also have wider implications for the euro zone as a whole, analysts said on Monday.

Dutch Finance Minister Jan-Kees de Jager sought to reassure investors on Monday, telling CNBC in The Hague that the Netherlands had always displayed budget discipline and would continue to do so.

"The perception of financial markets is always important...and that's why I also have the message for financial markets that for decades the Netherlands have shown a solid fiscal budgetary policy and this will not change. In any government we have seen in the past we have seen solid policy and this will remain in the future," de Jager said.

Radar

US Border Patrol Beat and Taser Man to Death: Video

A new video shows Anastacio Hernadez-Rojas lying on the ground in the fetal position, circled by at least a dozen federal agents as one repeatedly shocks him with an electric stun gun.

The video was shot by a passer-by and was obtained by the lawyer for the Hernandez-Rojas family as they push on with their wrongful death suit against the US government.

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No Entry

Mavi Marmara attack: Turkey blocks the participation of Israel in a NATO summit, demands apology for the murder

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© DHAMinister Davutoğlu conveys Turkey’s veto on Israel to a NATO summit
Turkey has blocked the participation of Israel in a key NATO summit that will take place in Chicago on May 20 and 21, despite calls from influential allies including the United States, Western diplomatic sources have told the Hürriyet Daily News. The veto was conveyed to the NATO bodies by Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu during the Alliance's meeting last week in Brussels.

"There will be no Israeli presence at the NATO meeting unless they issue a formal apology and pay compensation for the Turkish citizens their commandos killed in international waters" a senior Turkish official told the Daily News.

"There are demands from us for the removal of our veto, but this is out of question."

"Those countries who wish to see normalization in ties between Turkey and Israel should advise Israel to apologize and to compensate the killing of Turks in international waters," the official said.

Turkey has vetoed a number of Israeli attempts to deepen its partnership with the alliance - such as opening an office at the NATO headquarters and participating in the activities of the Mediterranean Dialogue group - on the grounds that it should first bear the consequences of its unlawful action against Turkish citizens. This reflects the two-year old strife between Turkey and Israel, which is a result of the Mavi Marmara incident that claimed the lives of eight Turkish and one Turkish-American citizen. The level of diplomatic relations between the two has been reduced to the level of "second secretary" since then.

Brick Wall

Oppressive Sanctions! EU Fascism Condemned in Defense of Syria

Russia on Friday condemned as unacceptable a fresh round of sanctions being prepared by the European Union against the Syrian regime.
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© unknown
"Our position concerning such sanctions is well known," said foreign affairs ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich. "We judge them unacceptable from the point of view of international law.

Diplomats in Brussels had said earlier that the new sanctions would ban exports of luxury items and goods which can be used for internal repression.

"The sanctions are ready," said an EU diplomat who asked not to be named. The timing for their adoption however "will depend on the situation on the ground."

A decision could be made at talks in Luxembourg on Monday between foreign ministers from the 27 EU nations.

Eye 1

Monitoring the Internet: DHS Deception Exposed

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© unknown
One of the nation's leading electronic privacy groups claimed this week that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) misled members of Congress during a recent hearing on whether the Department is paying a defense contractor $11.4 million to keep tabs on protected free speech and dissent against government policies on the Internet.

The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), which triggered the hearing by publishing a trove of secret government documents in January, told Raw Story on Thursday that a second round of documents they've obtained directly contradicts testimony given on Feb. 16, showing that the DHS instructed their analysts to do exactly what the Department denied.

"There were several exchanges that they had with members of Congress in which they sort of distanced themselves from the idea - that they weren't engaging in this monitoring of public reaction to government proposals," McCall told Raw Story. "But that's... Well, it's not true, according to the documents we obtained."

Bad Guys

Mitt Romney, American Parasite

umbrellas 4 sale illustration
© Illustration: Christoph Hitz
It was the early 1990s, and the 750 men and women at Georgetown Steel were pumping out wire rods at peak performance. They had an abiding trust in management's ability to run a smart company. That allegiance was rewarded with fat profit-sharing checks. In the basement-wage economy of Georgetown, South Carolina, Sanderson and his co-workers were blue-collar aristocracy.

"We were doing very good," says Sanderson, president of Steelworkers Local 7898. "The plant was making money, and we had good profit-sharing checks, and everything was going well."

What he didn't know was that it was about to end. Hundreds of miles to the north, in Boston, a future presidential candidate was sizing up Georgetown's books.

At the time, Mitt Romney had been running Bain Capital since 1984, minting a reputation as a prince of private investment. A future prospectus by Deutsche Bank would reveal that by the time he left in 1999, Bain had averaged a shimmering 88 percent annual return on investment. Romney would use that success to launch his political career.

Arrow Up

NDAA Detention: Virginia Passes Law Refusing to Cooperate

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© disinfo.com
On Wednesday, the Virginia legislature overwhelmingly passed a law that forbids state agencies from cooperating with any federal attempt to exercise the indefinite detention without due process provisions written into sections 1021 and 1022 of the National Defense Authorization Act.

HB1160 "Prevents any agency, political subdivision, employee, or member of the military of Virginia from assisting an agency of the armed forces of the United States in the conduct of the investigation, prosecution, or detention of a United States citizen in violation of the United States Constitution, Constitution of Virginia, or any Virginia law or regulation."

The legislature previously passed HB1160 and forwarded it to Gov. Bob McDonnell for his signature. Last week, the governor agreed to sign the bill with a minor amendment. On Wednesday, the House of Delegates passed the amended version of the legislation 89-7. Just hours later, the Senate concurred by a 36-1 vote.

MIB

By Way of Deception: Israel Increases Covert Operations, Says Military chief

Israel's military chief of staff says he has ordered his forces to step up covert operations in enemy countries.

Maj. Gen. Benny Gantz made the remarks Sunday in an interview published in Israel's Yediot Ahronot daily.

"You almost won't find a point in time where something isn't happening somewhere in the world," he said. "I am escalating all those special operations."

Gantz did not identify any of the countries or give any further details.

Monkey Wrench

Is Vermont's Governor Surrendering to Monsanto?

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© mendonews.wordpress.com
Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin has less than two weeks to either stand with the 90 percent of his constituents who support a mandatory labeling bill for genetically engineered foods - or cave in to Monsanto's threat to sue the state if legislators pass H.722.

If the Governor's words this past week are any indication, he's already surrendered to Monsanto. But Vermonters, not known for backing down from a fight, are challenging legislators to take on the biotech industry. They're even offering to raise money for the state's defense.

Last week thousands of Vermonters flooded the Governor's office with petitions, phone calls and emails, to make the case for GMO labeling of all food sold in Vermont and to demand a vote on the bill. Under Vermont's constitution, the Governor can extend the state's legislative session indefinitely, ultimately forcing a vote on the bill. If he doesn't extend the session, or urge legislators to vote on the bill, it will die in committee.

Comment: To learn more about the ongoing 'GMO labeling battle' in Vermont read the following articles:

Monsanto Threatens to Sue Vermont if Legislators Pass a Bill Requiring GMO Food to Be Labeled
Despite overwhelming public support and support from a clear majority of Vermont's Agriculture Committee, Vermont legislators are dragging their feet on a proposed GMO labeling bill. Why? Because Monsanto has threatened to sue the state if the bill passes.

The popular legislative bill requiring mandatory labels on genetically engineered food (H-722) is languishing in the Vermont House Agriculture Committee, with only four weeks left until the legislature adjourns for the year. Despite thousands of emails and calls from constituents who overwhelmingly support mandatory labeling, despite the fact that a majority (6 to 5) of Agriculture Committee members support passage of the measure, Vermont legislators are holding up the labeling bill and refusing to take a vote.
Monsanto Threatens Vermont With Legal Action if it Passes GMO Labeling Bill
But with GMO labeling comes widespread awareness about the presence of untested, unsafe ingredients throughout the food supply, which is sure to turn most people away from buying or eating them. At least 70 percent of the "inner aisle" food supply, or packaged, processed foods found in the center aisles at the grocery store, now contain GM ingredients.

Monsanto knows that if GMOs are labeled, its business would quickly crumble. So to stop this from happening, the biotechnology giant has reportedly resorted to bullying the Vermont House Agriculture Committee (VHAC), which just so happens to support GMO labeling by a 6 - 5 majority, into stonewalling until the legislature adjourns for the year at the end of April.



Light Sabers

Energy games: Russians move into East Med gas fracas

med oil drilling map
The Levantine Basin (containing the giants) is situated in this area in the eastern most region of the Mediterranean Sea between Cyprus and the Nile Delta and contains up to 10,000 m of Mesozoic and Cenozoic sedimentary sequences.
The Russians appear to be making a determined bid to secure a stake in the energy boom in the eastern Mediterranean, despite the danger of conflict.


The Russians appear to be making a determined bid to secure a stake in the energy boom in the eastern Mediterranean despite the danger of conflict.

Israel, Lebanon, Cyprus, Greece and Turkey are vying for control of the vast offshore natural gas fields in a region long-deprived of energy resources. The potential windfall adds a new dimension to the conflicts between Israel and the Arabs and between old rivals Turkey and Greece.

The scramble for the region's newfound energy riches is also pitting Israel, supported by Greece and the Greek Cypriots, against its onetime strategic ally Turkey.

Novatek, Russia's biggest independent natural gas producer, is reported to be considering exploration off the war-divided island of Cyprus, which, with nearby Israel, dominates waters where Lebanon and Turkey also claim access.