Friday, January 31, 2014

Palestine

With a continuous ignorance from the world community that increases day by day, Palestinians are losing their land and the Israeli government increases it’s settlements in the west bank. This Fri. Jan 31st, 300 protesters were demonstrating expressing their refusal for the Israeli prime minister’s declaration of a continuous operation of more settlements. The protesters arrived by bus and car parading a banner that says “No peace with the settlements” signed by the Youth Against Settlements Group. Israeli police were spread all over the area but they did not disperse the protesters. While the United Nation’s humanitarian Coordinator for the Palestinian territories did nothing but criticizing the Israeli action of dominating 36 of the Palestinians’ homes in the Jordan Valley and urged Israel to halt such actions. While the Israeli government, on the other hand, still going on building more settlements and ignoring the UN. The number of the displaced and killed people is increasing while only last year more than 1,000 people were driven out of their homes and 27 were killed, according to the official numbers.

(http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2014/01/hundreds-protest-against-israeli-settlements-20141311844770384.html)


Written By,
“Youssef Mekawy”

Strike In Somalia: Details Emerge

By Emily Canaday
 http://www.cnn.com/2014/01/28/world/africa/somalia-us-airstrike/index.html

Last week's drone attack in Somalia seemed a little out of the blue to most Americans- and not just because most of us can't name what continent Somalia is on, either.
Tracking al-Qaeda across multiple countries in the continued "war on terror" has been par normale for some years now, with a failed strike in Somalia just last year on a member of al-Shabaab, the resident fundamentalist group (we all have that one cousin, you know?) that's thought to be an extension of al-Qaeda. The attack on a man named Godane, supposedly a senior member of al-Shabaab, has not been confirmed by DNA or testimony yet. What's interesting is that Godane was targeted because he is thought to be a collaborator between al-Qaeda and al-Shabaab; the regime's loss of control over several major Somalia cities in recent days has urged it to desperate acts, such as shooting up a Nairobi mall and threatening Somalis with acts of terror if the internet is not shut down across the country. This is a clear signal that the regime is running from logic, now more widely accessible to the populations they used to terrorize- and this will probably catch up with them faster than any drone plane.

The US government cites Godane as a 'threat to religion', however, blurring the lines between our interest in human-rights-based intervention and our blanket fear of terror.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Syria Slacking on Surrendering Chemical Weapons

According to reports, Syria has only returned about 5% (32 tons) of it's stockpile of category 1 chemicals over to officials, leaving approximately 670 tons left to turn over before their February 5th deadline. At this point, it looks unlikely that they will be able to fulfill these demands handed down from President Obama. Despite all of the fighting and turmoil taking place the UN Security General has demanded that Assad increase their efforts to fulfill their side of the agreement. Some weapon inspectors worry that Assad may try to hold onto some of their stockpiles, which is currently one of the largest in the world and contains mustard gas, and sarin in numerous different areas. Certainly Assad has his hands full with the constant domestic trouble he is encountering but it seems that the UN as well as the US is unwilling at this point to grant him any leeway.

Alec Phillipp
http://www.latimes.com/world/la-fg-syria-chemical-20140130,0,3958483.story#axzz2rwDq4sqz

Tensions continue to rise in the Pacific over old news



A hostage crisis in Manila nearly 4 years ago is still sparking hostility between Hong Kong and the Philippines today. In August 2010, a crazed ex-police officer in Manila took control of a tour bus and killed 8 Hong Kong tourists in an effort to get back his job – the hostage crisis and standoff was televised and lasted almost 11 hours.  It sparked an international incident because Hong Kong officials disagreed with the manner in which Philippine officials handled the crisis and issued sanctions against the Philippines, “particularly, the requirement of visas for Philippine official and diplomatic passport holders which is usually given to government officials on official travel to Hong Kong.”  The sanctions were issued in October 2013 and reaffirmed this year when Hong Kong demanded an official apology from the Philippine Government and people. The Philippines issued a response to the demand for an apology, stating that, “We responded to this appeal without equivocation and in a most generous manner. Additional tokens of solidarity have therefore been pledged by Filipino people at the behest of the Philippine government.” The Philippine government has issued statements and compensation to the families that were affected by the hostage crisis and the families have all accepted the apology.  
            Logic follows that the issue should be swept under the rug and simply go down in history as a tragic event for everyone because it was a loss of life at the hands of a crazed man.  However, Hong Kong is demanding more.  Given the already heated relations in the Pacific, this just adds another straw to the camel’s back. Hopefully both nations can put their pride aside and get along.
This will most likely not lead to incident, but further irks an already rocky political climate in the Pacific. If it does lead to conflict, it could bode detrimental to the United States and others who have a heavily vested interest in the region.

By Christopher M. Vacek


Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Russia limits publicity during Olympics

Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), which monitors press worldwide, released a report Tuesday about press during the Sochi Winter Olympics.  The CPJ mentioned journalists have already been arrested for stories with politically charged agenda, although the stories are far from political. The CPJ called upon the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to denounce this repression of press and let journalists and people have their freedom of press.  The Olympic's is seen as a "dear project" to Vladmir Putin, but the repressive laws, such as limiting press and banning homosexuals in participating in the Olympics are just a few of his repressive tactics.



 http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2014/1/28/russian-governmentrepressingjournalistsbeforesochi.html

Brooke Reed

Monday, January 27, 2014

Hamid Karzai Toughens Stance on Afghanistan Security Deal with US

Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai continues to refuse to sign the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) that would allow some form of American troops to stay in Afghanistan after the end of 2014. All troops are due to pull out of Afghanistan by the end of the year. President Karzai stated that "the U.S. should leave Afghanistan unless it could restart peace talks with the Taliban." The President believes that peace talks with the Taliban will ensure that signing the BSA will not lead to Afghanistan being dividing into fiefdoms. President Karzai's tough stance concerning the BSA has led many diplomats to agree he is unlikely to sign the agreement. Many believe further discussion with the president may be useless and waiting for his successor to be elected will yield the desired results. One diplomat was stated as saying, "The more people speak about it being signed after the election, the more irrelevant he becomes," said one diplomat. "Sad as it is, we might have to bank on the next guy." The U.S. has threatened to pull out all of the troops before 2014 unless the BSA is signed. However, embassies are still examining alternative solutions that would enable the NATO mission to continue.

The Afghan president originally agreed to sign a part of the pact in November, but has since changed his mind. Tensions concerning the signing of the BSA became more apparent when President Karzai took off the air advertisements lobbying for signature of the agreement claiming the ads were "serious propaganda" that has "harmed the psyche and soul of the people of Afghanistan." The President stiffened his resolve by adding, "No pressure, no threat, no psychological war can force us to sign the BSA. If they want to leave, they should leave today. We will continue our living."

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jan/25/hamid-karzai-toughens-stance-security-deal-us

Syrian Peace Talks at Standstill in Switzerland...

Geneva, Switzerland
-On Monday afternoon, the first meeting of the newly formed Syrian transitional government adjourned less than an hour after it began, citing a tense session where one delegate described it as "a dialogue of the deaf". The newly formed transitional government has been quite a contentious issue as they have been mute as to whether or not Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad will remain in power.

Opposition party members fully support Al-Assad stepping down in favor of forming a transitional governing body with full executive powers. The goal of this new government would be to lead Syria until new elections are held later this year.

Monday's brief meeting focused on humanitarian aid and a possible prisoner exchange between the two sides. The U.N. envoy, Lakhdar Brahimi, mediated the session. The syrian city of Homs has been one of the hardest hit during the Syrian Civil War and has suffered both collateral damage and mass casualties. Yesterday, the two sides agreed to evacuate women and children in Homs, prior to the arrival of aid convoys

Monday's session represented the first face to face peace talks by opposition forces. While the meetings did not yield much-Mr. Brahimi conceded to reporters at a news conference that the talks so far “haven’t produced much"- the overall tone was positive. While there is much to be discussed and deep tensions divide the two sides, both groups expressed their willingness to resume talking and not walk away, planning to reconvene on Tuesday morning.

William B. Robinson
#PSC222





Ukraine on the brink of state emergency

The protests that started last week in Ukraine have spread from Kiev to many other Ukrainian cities. On Saturday, the protests spread to cities in the west region such Chernivitsi, Ivano-Frankvist, Lutsk and Lviv and to the east with cities such as Vinnytsya. Protesters have seized government buildings in Kiev and in 10 other different cities. Most, have been taken without any violent oppositions. In most cases, the protesters walk in to already empty governmental buildings. However, as demonstrations continue, government officials are threatening to call a state of emergency and bring the national guard to control the situation.




The protests and riots that are happening in Ukraine are being dubbed as the Euromaidan.  More than anything, the protests and demostrations have evolved from calling for a trade agreement with the European Union to the immediate elections, ousting of the present president, Viktor Yanukovych, and the release of political prisoners such as Yulia Tymoshenko.





This past Sunday, thousands of protesters mourned the loss of one of the four killed during last week's events.


In the next coming days, we'll see whether or not the protests will develop into something more substantial with proper leadership or be stomped back down by the Ukrainian government forces.

I hope to see the crisis end without anymore violence, but with such a big problem such as corruption, those in power got there through these very means and will continue to stay in power.

by: Sergio Vargas

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-25905031

Sunday, January 26, 2014

U.S. Olympic Athletes Warned to Not Wear Olympic Uniforms Outside Sochi Venues

Recently, U.S. State Department officials have said that U.S. olympic athletes competing in the upcoming Sochi Winter games in Russia are being advised to not wear their Olympic uniform outside Sochi venues.  This comes after recent terror threats were made against the Olympic games.  The uniforms American athletes will wear will be, not surprisingly, red, white, and blue.
According to a senior State Department official, speaking on background, "If you are an American Olympic athlete, you don't want to advertise that far outside the Olympic venues."  This was stated during a briefing with reporters.  "More than 230 athletes and 270 coaches and other U.S. officials" are expected to attend the Sochi games, according to the article.  In addition, about 10,000 U.S. citizens are projected to attend the games as spectators.  There seems to be an evacuation plan of some sort, if needed, and the U.S. government is willing to work with the Russian government to protect each respective nations' citizens.  In addition, two U.S. warships will sail into the Black Sea as an added security measure.

- Jack Mikolajczyk

    http://www.cnn.com/2014/01/24/us/sochi-us-security/index.html?iid=article_sidebar

The United States ups security in Sochi for the Olympic Games

      As the Olympic Games draw closer, the United States has upped its security in Sochi to ensure that its nationals will be safe during the Games. Recently, it’s been reported that the United States has moved two warships near the Black Sea, in which helicopters could be dispatched in the event of a terrorist attack to evacuate the American athletes. Transport aircraft are also on standby in Germany, and if dispatched, could be on the scene within two hours. The athletes have also been warned not to wear their red, white, and blue uniforms outside of the “ring of steel”, the security cordon surrounding the venue. In Sochi, there is an ongoing hunt for “black widows”, wives of dead insurgents who act like suicide bombers. Although Russia has been lenient with allowing the United States to use security measures to protect its nationals from homegrown terrorists, they have not accepted the latter’s offer of helping snuff out the insurgents. Michael McCaul, Chairman of the US House Homeland Security Committee states, “There’s a sense of nationalistic pride in Russia, just as we would in the United States. And so, while they’ve been very productive, cooperating with us on some issues, when it comes to the military, it gets a little sensitive.” In spite of this however, the Russian ambassador the the United States have relayed his confidence that the Games will be safe for all the athletes.


The article can be read HERE.

By: Lauren Marie De Guzman

Official: U.S. airstrike in Somalia targets suspected militant leader

On Sunday, the United States conducted yet another air strike in Southern Somalia. This time they were targeting a "senior leader" who was thought to be affiliated with Al-Shabaab, which is al Qaeda's branch in Somalia. It has yet to be determined if the senior official was killed in the air strike. Earlier in the week, the United States captured Abu Anas al Libi. He was an al Qaeda operative who was thought to have been a participant in the 1998 bombings of two U.S. embassies in Africa. Al-Shabaab is an active terrorist group that is stationed in Somalia as a branch of al Qaeda.

http://www.cnn.com/2014/01/26/world/africa/somalia-us-airstrike/index.html?hpt=hp_t2

Mark Vear

Edward Snowden adviser: guarantee of amnesty necessary for talks with US


The NSA leaker, Edward Snowden adviser has said that Edward is ready to return to US after an agreement regarding his amnesty has been reached. However, the attorney general has put off the table such an agreement stating that the US is not considering amnesty for Snowden "Where we say, 'No harm, no foul'".

Snowden has already been revoked his US passport and other beneficiaries as an American citizen. He has been prosecuted by the US government since it was found that he has leaked confidential information to the media and other suspicious channels. Snowden himself has said that it is the best thing for him, public and government if he returns to United States but the former secretary of homeland security, Michael Chertoff has said that Snowden upon returning could be given e fair trial but the chances for amnesty are low. Chertoff also stated that if Snowden was to agree to tell everything that he has stolen he could possibly bargain for some lower sentence facing the possibility of being jailed for 25 to 30 years.

Some recent state representatives have raised suspicions that Snowden might have not acted alone as FBI has previously claimed. 

Personally, I think that allowing Snowden to return to US within the terms of amnesty would be the best for the US government as this way they can closely monitor his work and see whether he is working with or for someone else.


For the original link, please click here


Fatlum Gashi

Early voting blocked in Bangkok

As seen here, protesters blocked access to polls for early voting before the general election in the capital of Thailand.  This recent action is the continuation of the protest movement to remove Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and her family from power.  This is an interesting position for the protest movement to take, hoping that by blocking the elections (democracy) that the government will resign and can then be reformed by an unelected council.  There are warnings from the main leader of the protests Suthep Thaugsuba and the deputy leader of the Democrat party, Ongart Klampaiboon.  These protests are being seen by the government as a grab for power by the Democrat opposition party.

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/27/world/asia/thailand.html?ref=world


Jeff Kort

Celebration turns to Bloodshed



            Along with the celebration of the third anniversary of the uprising of the autocratic government in Egypt came bloodshed. In Cairo thousands of Egyptians celebrated and showed support for the military leader who ousted their first democratically elected leader. However, in other parts of the country there were rallies held to show the peoples opposition of this new government.  These anti government rallies quickly escalated and forced intervention from the police. By Sunday morning at least 49 people were dead in the Cairo area after violent interaction with. According to this article from the New York Times the opposition rallies consisted mostly of Islamists and left- leaning activists. One group holding rallies, The Way of the Revolution Front a group opposed to the Islamists as well as the military takeover, told their supports to get out of the streets because of “the excessive force that police are using against whoever tries to express their opinion.” Along with the deaths over 1,000 people were arrested throughout the country with roughly 430 being arrested in the greater Cairo area.
            Around the same time of the protests in the Cairo area a car bomb went off in the city of Suez wounding four police officers only a day after a bomb went off in the capital killing 6 people and another 8 were killed by the police. An Islamic group the Brotherhood was blamed for the bombs however Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, another Islamic militant group, claimed responsibility for them on jihadi websites. It will be interesting to see how the elections play out and how the Egyptian people will react to the news of their next president. 
 

Philippines Close to Peace with Southern Muslim Region's Rebels

In an article titled, "Philippine Disarmament Clears Hurdle to Mindanao Peace, Growth" from bloomberg.com, posted on January 26, 2014, authors Joel Guinto and Clarissa Batino outline what seems to be a very promising peace accord with Islamist rebels in the Southern region of the Philippines. This has important implications for America on many levels. One of the most important right now would be economic, insofar as, if this peace accord goes through, then the Southern Philippines would contribute as much as $300 Billion more to their GDP. As a very reliable ally with the United States in the region, this would prove as an advantage. Another more minor result of the peace accord would mean wonders for tourism in the region, as tourism in the Southern Philippines has suffered since the kidnappings of Americans and Australians about 30 years ago by Islamist radicals.

I know from personal experience that the Filipino population love Americans and still have great respect for the American system and way of life. Even in popular vacationing spots in the Philippines, the government has enforces very harsh laws regarding the mistreatment of tourists – especially Americans. Many famous Americans have invested in the Philippines and the Filipinos want to keep it that way – expanding the possible zone for more investment would only help their cause.

The accord is still not final, however, and could fall apart if other less significant rebel groups try to undermine the peace talks. Hopefully, this will go through and open an otherwise limited market for economic opportunity – as well as cut down the violence in the highly Muslim populated area.


By Christopher M. Vacek

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Thai court rules election delay as "constitutional"


On Friday, a Thai court ruled that a postponement of the upcoming elections is lawful under the country’s constitution.  The decision was also a blow to Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, and many legal scholars were surprised, claiming that there were no such provisions under Thai law for these delays.  The court’s decision raises the complex power struggle between Shinawatra and the protestors who have spent the last couple of months trying to “purge from politics” Ms. Yingluck and her brother, Thaksin Shinawatra (In 2008, former prime minister, Mr. Thaksin, left the country to escape a prison sentence for abuse of power).  In explaining its decision, the court said that the constitution “does not absolutely mandate that the election day cannot be rescheduled.”  They also listed conditions that would justify the delay, such as actions that “obstruct the general election process” and acts that “damage the country.”  The Constitutional Court has ruled against the government on several crucial decisions in the past few weeks as well.  On the other hand, other scholars who specialize in constitutional law have argued that the court appears to be making law rather than interpreting it.  Furthermore, protestors have blocked the candidate registration process in more than two dozen districts, and their leader, Suthep Thaugsuban, pledged to obstruct the elections at all costs.  The protestors, drawing much of their support from others in Bangkok and southern Thailand, have defended their stance on the claim that they are fighting the corruption of the Shinawatra family.

http://search.proquest.com.libproxy.noctrl.edu/nationalnewsexpanded/docview/1491405859/14331F788874796DCAF/13?accountid=44854

Amanda Ngo