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Secret memos expose link between oil firms and invasion of Iraq

© 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


Cuba marks Bay of Pigs, opens pivotal Party summit

© 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

© 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.


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.


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.

Bad Guys

Chris Hedges - Bank of America Protest Speech

On Fri, April 15, 2011, the great Chris Hedges gave this stirring speech at New York City's Union Square, during a Protest of Bank of America.


BRICS to replace dollar credits with local currencies

 Bric Leaders
© Unknown
The BRICS nations, Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa are taking shots at the dollar again. At the end of recently concluding meeting in China, their development banks agreed to open credit lines denominated in their own currencies rather than the world's reserve currency, the US dollar.

The plan was announced in the backdrop of a weak dollar something the BRIC nations fear will erode the value of their foreign exchange reserves held mostly in the US currency. This isn't the first time these countries have called for an alternative monetary regime.

And while this is a hint that the US will have to work hard to defend the credibility of its currency, experts say it is unlikely to end the dollar's dominance any time soon.

War Whore

'War lobby won $700 billion budget boost, wants MORE as collapse looms'

The U.S. budget may include $38 billion of spending cuts, but there will be a financial boost for the military.


Britain mulling changes to royal succession rule so first-born girl could take throne

© The Associated Press/Tim Hales
This is a Monday April 11, 2011, file photo of Britain's Prince William accompanied by his fiancee Kate Middleton, arrive at Witton Country Park, Darwen, England. Prince William and Kate Middleton will marry on April 29. Britain's government says it is considering changing the rules of royal succession so that if Prince William and Kate Middleton's first child is a girl she would eventually become queen.
Britain's government has begun the process of reviewing the ancient, discriminatory rules of royal succession, so that if Prince William and Kate Middleton's first child is a girl she would eventually become queen.

The current rule that puts boys ahead of their sisters "would strike most people as a little old-fashioned," Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said Saturday.

It is just two weeks until the prince and Middleton get married at London's Westminster Abbey, and Clegg said many people may agree that the rules should be changed so that if the couple's first child were a girl, she would eventually inherit the throne - even if she had a younger brother.

"I think most people in this day and age would think it's worth considering whether we change the rules so that baby girl could become the future monarch," he told reporters. "I think that would be in keeping with the changes that are happening with society as a whole."

The Cabinet Office said the government accepts that some aspects of the succession rule "could be discriminatory." It said the government has started discussions with British Commonwealth nations that would be directly affected by any change because they recognize the British monarch as their head of state, but declined to release details of those talks.