Egypt Morsi: Mass political protests grip cities


Huge protests calling for the resignation of Egypt's President Mohammed Morsi and early presidential elections are taking place in the capital, Cairo, and other cities.

Snowden, Greenwald and the media saga


We discuss media treatment of the whistleblower and the journalist who brought his revelations to light.

It is the question every news outlet has been asking since the former NSA contractor left Hong Kong, apparently for Russia, possibly on his way to Ecuador via Cuba.
Reporters in Moscow even boarded a Havana-bound flight, only to find an empty seat where Snowden should have been sitting. We can only imagine how their faces dropped when the cabin doors closed.
But while some reporters rack up air miles spinning Snowden’s story as a real life spy thriller, others have
turned their attention to the journalist who brought his revelations to light. Former lawyer turned Guardian columnist Glenn Greenwald has led the challenge to power that the leaks about suspicionless surveillance represent, and now he, following Snowden, has been the subject of a hostile media reception.
This week’s News Divide looks at media coverage of the developing story of Snowden’s whereabouts and the associated backlash against Greenwald.
We speak to Josh Feldman, editor for Mediaite; Kathleen McClellan of the Government Accountability Project; Peter Hart of FAIR Media Watch; and Erik Wemple, a media critic for the Washington Post.
Our feature takes us to Pakistan as the country’s newly-elected Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif returns to the position he has already held twice. A lot has changed since he left power in 1999. A proliferation of private media outlets means Sharif cannot count on the media muscle he had when the state ran Pakistan’s only TV channel. The Listening Post’s Meenakshi Ravi explores Pakistan’s new media landscape.
In other media news this week: peaceful protests turned violent in Cairo as journalists were attacked by supporters of President Mohamed Morsi at an anti-opposition rally; a Twitter hashtag went viral in Turkey after Ankara’s mayor tweeted allegations that a BBC Turk journalist was working as a British agent; and in Myanmar, the banning of this week’s Time Magazine for its controversial cover story has brought into question the country’s supposed relaxing of censorship rules.
And if you have been wanting to hear more from the elusive Edward Snowden, the Australian satirists behind Juice Rap News have given him the mic for a whistleblower remix of '90s hip-hop track Informer. Knight of the fourth estate Sir Glenn Greenwald also rides in for cameo appearance in our web video of the week.

European Union urged to press for Bahrain activists’ release


Manama: Human Rights Watch on Saturday urged European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton to secure the release of Bahraini opposition activists ahead of an EU-Gulf Cooperation Council ministerial meeting in Manama.
The New York-based rights group called on Ashton in a statement to “pursue with Bahrain the immediate release of 13 high-profile activists and others detained or imprisoned for peacefully exercising their rights”.
Currently 13 opposition leaders are serving prison terms for playing a role in protests in Bahrain in 2011 led by the Shiite opposition.
A court handed down life sentences to seven of the accused, including rights activist Abdul Hadi Khawaja, who also holds Danish nationality, and gave the others jail terms ranging from five to 15 years.
Lotte Leicht, EU director at Human Rights Watch, said it was vital for Ashton and EU member states to raise the issue at Sunday’s meeting.
“If human rights are truly at the centre of the EU’s foreign relations... then the high representative and member states need to show it at the EU-GCC meeting by vigorously pressing for the release of the Bahraini activists,” she said.
Bahrain was shaken in February and March 2011 by demonstrations led by the Shiite majority.
Ashton is set to chair the joint EU-GCC meeting in Manama with Bahraini Foreign Minister Shaikh Khalid Al Khalifa, in an annual consultation to examine key issues and ways of boosting cooperation.


Qatar: Profile: Shaikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani

The new Emir of Qatar will follow the policy forged by his father and the prime minister
  • Simeon Kerr

Doha: As Shaikh Tamim, the 33-year-old new Emir of Qatar, receives tribal notables to accept their allegiance, many are asking how he will shape the future of a society transformed by his father’s modernising 18 year-rule.
Shaikh Hamad is leaving power at 61 after turning a near-bankrupt Gulf backwater into one of the world’s richest nations, using its gas receipts to become a global investor and diplomatic player.
Educated in the UK at Sherborne public school and Sandhurst military college, Shaikh Tamim’s career has been rooted in the military and security services. In recent years, he has taken on an increasingly public role as his father groomed him for the handover of power.
Shaikh Tamim has taken on a bigger foreign affairs role, handling Qatar’s tricky relations with Gulf superpower Saudi Arabia and post-Gaddafi Libya.
A keen sportsman, Shaikh Tamim has oversight over many of Qatar’s sporting pursuits, playing a role in the successful bid to host the World Cup in 2022, failed attempts to win the right to host the Olympic Games and the purchase of a Paris St Germain football club.
As the outgoing emir abdicated, he called on his son to preserve Qatar’s cultural identity, and its links to the Arab world and religion.
Many Qataris believe that preserving national identity in a fast-changing society will be a focal point for Shaikh Tamim as he balances between modernity and tradition.
Married twice with six children, few expect the young emir to instil radical changes.
But different personalities and priorities on the fringes of policy could emerge as a younger cabinet is named later this week.
“The broad strokes of Qatari policy are well established, but that leaves much room for interpretation led by the new emir,” says David Roberts of the Royal United Services Institute in Doha.
Observers say that, politically, Shaikh Tamim may emerge as a more conservative, risk-averse figure than his father, attuned to the conservative forces that run deep in society while aware of the need to update the country’s outdated bureaucracy and legal system.
As Qataris become an ever-decreasing minority in their own land, many are calling for the promotion of traditional ideals, such as limiting the sale of alcohol and promoting Arabic language in education, as a counterweight to the country’s greater openness as a new Gulf hub for finance, tourism, culture and sports.
Some have argued Shaikh Tamim is more religious and willing to see a greater role for religion in daily life, saying this has led to Qatar’s increasing promotion of political Islam in Egypt and Syria.
However, most observers in Doha say Shaikh Tamim is a pragmatist who will follow the policy forged by his father and the prime minister, Shaikh Hamad Bin Jassim Al Thani.
They have used the rise of political Islam to further Qatar’s regional objectives, betting that the Muslim Brotherhood will become an even more potent force for decades to come.
While the new emir may not roll back previous policies, Qatar’s leading regional role may still be diminished, especially if — as expected — the powerful prime minister is relieved of his foreign affairs brief.
Many observers say such a domestic reorientation may be welcome as the country embarks on its next great economic boom.
If the past decade was marked by fast growth based on gas development, a new period of rapid infrastructure development is coming as Doha prepares
New contracts have already been awarded for the creation of a metro system and new roads as the country forges ahead with the building of museums and a new city in Lusail, where the final of the World Cup in 2022 is scheduled to take place.
His father’s legacy was to use Qatar’s new-found wealth to put the state on the global stage.
Shaikh Tamim will now have to define the trajectory of this young, conservative country under the harsh spotlight of global scrutiny.
- Financial Times

Finding Plan B for Bahrain

Brian Dooley
Director, Human Rights First's Human Rights Defenders Program

Turning an aircraft carrier is notoriously difficult maneuver; shifting a whole fleet even trickier. Even so, there is serious talk about the U.S. government moving the U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet from its current home base in Bahrain as a result of continuing unrest in the Kingdom. A paper released today by U.S. Navy Commander Richard McDaniel, who recently completed a stint with the Brookings Institute, is perhaps one of the most significant additions to this current discussion among senior officials in Washington. In his paper, McDaniel rightly suggests, "The situation has the potential to deteriorate quickly and degenerate into an environment that is no longer hospitable to U.S. access."
More than two years of protests against the dictatorship in Bahrain has left the U.S. government struggling to find ways to pressure the regime into reform. McDaniel's paper underscores the pressing need for the U.S. to do so. The Fifth Fleet is the Obama Administration's biggest card, one it's so far been hesitant to use. However, ongoing problems in Bahrain have sparked serious conversations among senior Washington officials who acknowledge that the U.S. Navy should have a contingency plan in case it needs to leave Bahrain in a hurry - either because the repression reaches such an embarrassing level that the U.S. cannot be seen to be allied with such a regime or because the situation locally becomes so volatile it's unsafe for the fleet to stay. Serious government reform in Bahrain would go far to prevent either from occurring and the U.S. needs to ramp up its efforts to press for reform.
Until now, Bahrain's ongoing human rights violations have not prompted the U.S. government to withdraw the fleet. Thousands of arrests, widespread torture, dozens of deaths and a failure to bring senior officials to justice has not met the threshold of unacceptability and shamed the U.S. into leaving. But there is growing disquiet in the State Department and elsewhere that a real solution to the political crisis in nowhere in sight, that Bahrain is a volatile and unstable ally, and that a new plan for the fleet should be considered. Voices in Congress have also started to publicly question the suitability of Bahrain as a host for the U.S. Navy.
Today's McDaniel paper lays out alternatives for where the fleet might go. "Clearly, the biggest threat to U.S. access is not democratic reform that leads to a constitutional monarchy, but a lack of reform that result in continued instability, unrest, and the empowerment of radical leadership," he writes.
It's a huge decision -- removing the fleet from Bahrain will make other dictatorship allies in the region twitchy and eyes will pop in Saudi Arabia. The U.S.-Bahrain military relationship is deep and expensive. Bahrain was designated a U.S. "Major Non NATO Ally" in March 2002 and the U.S. has sold Bahrain $1.4 billion worth of weapons since 2000. Although some weapon sales are on hold or are at reduced levels from that planned before the uprising began, arms sales -- as well as military and anti-terrorism support to Bahrain -- have continued over the last two years. The U.S. has had a naval presence in the country since 1948, ensuring the flow of oil and other shipping through the Strait of Hormuz and serving as a prominent reminder to Iran of U.S. commitment to its interests. The current U.S. base in Bahrain is huge, covering over 100 acres and housing about 5,000 U.S. personnel and families.
Bahrain needs to be told that the presence of the Fifth Fleet is not automatic and that the U.S. government's relationship with the ruling family is not unconditional. For decades, the U.S. mistakenly backed autocracies in the Middle East in the name of stability, but learned that the calm of repression is a false one that inevitably bubbles over. Key opposition and human rights leaders remain in prison in Bahrain. The kingdom's economy looks shaky. Those who criticize the King of Bahrain on Twitter are jailed, peaceful protests are suppressed and violent ones becoming more popular. The failure of the Bahrain government to implement meaningful reform makes large-scale instability more likely and the U.S. needs to press harder for reform while it develops a plan B to protect its own interests.
According to today's paper, while Shuaiba Port in Kuwait is a possibility, "Designing Plan B around New Doha Port [in Qatar] is practical and makes sense because the port is under construction, and the United States could broker arrangements whereby U.S. combatants could be serviced, replenished, or permanently stationed at the facility. Stationing naval forces in Qatar is quite feasible because a defense pact with the government already exists and the Qataris have been extremely accommodating when hosting the U.S. military."
Bahrain's ruling family should realize that Commander McDaniel's analysis puts them on notice that they are not indispensable to U.S. interests and that many in Washington are increasingly exasperated at their broken promises of reform. This paper crystalizes a reality: The Fifth Fleet serves U.S. interests and it is not meant to be a cover for the Bahraini government's wanton abuses of human rights. Those interests are undoubtedly put at risk by an escalation of instability. The kingdom's failure to act has left little doubt that it's time to talk about moving the Fifth Fleet.


Nelson Mandela's still critical in hospital, says Zuma


Former South African President Nelson Mandela remains in a critical condition in hospital, President Jacob Zuma says.

Mr Zuma said the doctors were doing everything they could to make the former leader comfortable, but he could not give any more medical details.
South Africa's first black president, 94, was taken to hospital in Pretoria earlier this month for the third time this year, with a lung infection.
A senior official said South Africans should not hold out "false hopes".
On Sunday, the presidency announced that Mr Mandela had become critical, after Mr Zuma visited him in hospital.
Mr Zuma said on Monday he had found Mr Mandela asleep, but had spoken to his wife and medical teams.
"All of us in the country should accept the fact that Madiba [Nelson Mandela's clan name] is now old. As he ages, his health will... trouble him and I think what we need to do as a country is to pray for him."
Mac Maharaj, Mr Zuma's spokesman, told the BBC's Newshour on Sunday said this was a stressful time for the Mandela family.
"I think there is need to be sombre about the news. There is a need not to hold out false hopes but at the same time let's keep him in our thoughts and let's will him more strength," he said.
Nelson Mandela's daughter, Makaziwe, whom he had with his first wife Evelyn, asked in an interview with CNN on Saturday for the family's privacy to be respected:
"Other people want to lecture us on how we should behave, and what we should do. Really, it's our dad, it's the children's grandfather. We've never had him in our life for the better part of our years. This is in a sense quality and sacred time for us, and I would expect the world to really back off and leave us alone."
The ANC - the party of Mr Mandela and Mr Zuma - said it "noted with concern" the latest reports, and that it joined the president in calling "for us all to keep Madiba, his family and medical team in our thoughts and prayers during this trying time".
'Expert care'
The BBC's Karen Allen reports from outside the Pretoria hospital that the mood in the country is sombre, and reality is sinking in.
It is not known what kind of condition precipitated the deterioration, she says.
There has been little information about his condition in recent days. On 13 June Mr Zuma said Mr Mandela's health continued to improve but that his condition remained serious.
Mr Mandela is revered for leading the fight against white minority rule in South Africa and then preaching reconciliation despite being imprisoned for 27 years. He left power after five years as president.
The former president and Nobel Peace Prize winner is believed to have suffered damage to his lungs while working in a prison quarry.
He contracted tuberculosis in the 1980s while being held in jail on the windswept Robben Island.
Mr Mandela retired from public life in 2004 and has rarely been seen at official events since.

Nelson Mandela: Key dates

  • 1918 Born in the Eastern Cape
  • 1944 Joins African National Congress
  • 1956 Charged with high treason, but charges dropped
  • 1962 Arrested, convicted of sabotage, sentenced to five years in prison
  • 1964 Charged again, sentenced to life
  • 1990 Freed from prison
  • 1993 Wins Nobel Peace Prize
  • 1994 Elected first black president
  • 1999 Steps down as leader
On Saturday, it emerged that the ambulance in which Mr Mandela was taken to hospital on 8 June broke down, meaning he had to be moved to another vehicle.
But Mr Zuma said he had been assured that "all care was taken to ensure his medical condition was not compromised".
"There were seven doctors in the convoy who were in full control of the situation throughout the period. He had expert medical care," he said.
Mr Zuma also denied reports that the former leader had suffered a cardiac arrest.

Edward Snowden

WikiLeaks ‏@wikileaks 9h
Edward Snowden releases rap video (satire) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hnMPQmIPibE#t=208 … #snowden @ggreenwald


U.S. charges Edward Snowden with espionage in leaks about NSA surveillance programs

Federal prosecutors have filed a sealed criminal complaint against Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor who leaked a trove of documents about top-secret surveillance programs, and the United States has asked Hong Kong to detain him on a provisional arrest warrant, according to U.S. officials.
Snowden was charged with espionage, theft and conversion of government property, the officials said.
The complaint was filed in the Eastern District of Virginia, a jurisdiction where Snowden’s former employer, Booz Allen Hamilton, is headquartered and a district with a long track record of prosecuting cases with national security implications.
A Justice Department spokeswoman declined to comment.
Snowden flew to Hong Kong last month after leaving his job at an NSA facility in Hawaii with a collection of highly classified documents that he acquired while working at the agency as a systems analyst.
The documents, some of which have been published in The Washington Post and Britain’s Guardian newspaper, detailed some of the most -secret surveillance operations undertaken by the United States and the United Kingdom, as well as classified legal memos and court orders underpinning the programs in the United States.
The 29-year-old intelligence analyst revealed himself June 9 as the leaker in an interview with the Guardian and said he went to Hong Kong because it provided him the “cultural and legal framework to allow me to work without being immediately detained.”
Snowden subsequently disappeared from public view; it is thought that he is still in the Chinese territory. Hong Kong has its own legislative and legal systems but ultimately answers to Beijing, under the “one country, two systems” arrangement.
The leaks have sparked national and international debates about the secret powers of the NSA to infringe on the privacy of both Americans and foreigners. Officials from President Obama down have said they welcome the opportunity to explain the importance of the programs and the safeguards they say are built into them. Skeptics, including some in Congress, have said the NSA has assumed the power to soak up data about Americans that was never intended under the law.
There was never any doubt that the Justice Department would seek to prosecute Snowden for one of the most significant national security leaks in the country’s history. The Obama administration has shown a particular propensity to go after leakers and has launched more investigations that any previous administration.
Justice Department officials had already said that a criminal investigation of Snowden was underway and was being run out of the FBI’s Washington field office in conjunction with lawyers from the department’s National Security Division.
By filing a criminal complaint, prosecutors have a legal basis to make the request of the authorities in Hong Kong. Prosecutors now have 60 days to file an indictment, probably also under seal, and can then move to have Snowden extradited from Hong Kong for trial in the United States.
Snowden, however, can fight the U.S. effort to have him extradited in the courts in Hong Kong. Any court battle is likely to reach Hong Kong’s highest court and could last many months, lawyers in the United States and Hong Kong said.
The United States has an extradition treaty with Hong Kong, and U.S. officials said cooperation with the Chinese territory, which enjoys some autonomy from Beijing, has been good in previous cases.
The treaty, however, has an exception for political offenses, and espionage has traditionally been treated as a political offense. Snowden’s defense team in Hong Kong is likely to invoke part of the extradition treaty with the United States, which states that suspects will not be turned over to face criminal trial for offenses of a “political character.”
Snowden could also remain in Hong Kong if the Chinese government decides that it is not in the defense or foreign policy interests of the government in Beijing to have him sent back to the United States for trial.
Snowden could also apply for asylum in Hong Kong or attempt to reach another jurisdiction and seek asylum there before the authorities in Hong Kong act.
The anti-secrecy group Wikileaks has held some discussions with officials in Iceland about providing asylum to Snowden. A businessman in Iceland has offered to fly Snowden on a chartered jet to his country if he is granted asylum there.
The chief executive of Hong Kong, Leung Chun-ying, said last week that the city’s government would follow existing law if and when the U.S. government requested help.
“When the relevant mechanism is activated, the Hong Kong [Special Administrative Region] Government will handle the case of Mr. Snowden in accordance with the laws and established procedures of Hong Kong,” Leung said in a statement.


Saudi Arabia- Two women human rights defenders sentenced to 10 months in prison and a two year travel ban

On 15 June 2013 the District Court in Al-Khobar sentenced two human rights defenders, Wajeha Al-Huwaider, and Fawzia Al-Oyouni to ten months in prison, following a trial that lasted a year. The presiding judge Fahad Al-Gda'a also imposed a two year travel ban on both human rights defenders to take effect after the completion of the ten month sentence.
The judge sentenced the two women on charges of trying to sabotage the marital relationship between a Canadian wife and her Saudi husband, resident in Dammam, and abetting her to escape. He acquitted the women of the other charges of attempting to smuggle the wife and her three children to the Canadian Embassy in Riyadh.
On 7 June 2011, the two human rights defenders received a text message saying that the Canadian wife and her three children were being subjected to violence and that her husband had locked them in the house. The text message also said that the children were starving of hunger. The two human rights defenders brought some food to the house and discovered that the husband had trapped them after he seized the mobile handset from which his wife had sent the text message. When the police arrived they arrested Al-Huwaider and Al-Oyouni on charges of trying to smuggle the wife and her three children.
Al-Huwaider and Al-Oyouni declared in a statement issued on the same day, 15 June 2013: "It was clear to us from the very beginning when we were summoned to the investigation by the prosecutor in Dammam that the issue was malicious and those who moved this case against us from the concerned authorities wanted to harm and harass us, and stop our humanitarian activities, because that case since the night in which it occurred two years ago, had been revoked by order of the Amir of the Eastern region and closed the file "
They added: "Finally we will appeal this judgment at the Court of Appeal, and we will raise our objection to it."
The Gulf Centre for Human Rights believes that the two human rights defenders have been targeted with fabricated charges that lack proper evidence solely due to their long, ongoing defence of women's rights in the country and their demand of the right of women to drive a car.  
The GCHR calls on the authorities in Saudi Arabia to: 
1.Immediately and unconditionally drop all charges against Wajeha Al-Huwaider, and Fawzia Al-Oyouni and quash the prison sentences against them;
2. Immediately and unconditionally remove the travel ban imposed on human rights defenders Wajeha Al-Huwaider, and Fawzia Al-Oyouni;
3. Reconsider the legal codifications of "Takhbib" or inciting women against their husbands, as this practice is judged without safe and protective legal measures.  Additionally, most women rights' defenders would be liable if attempting to help women in domestic distress;  
4. Guarantee in all circumstances that all human rights defenders in Saudi Arabia are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions including judicial harassment.

The GCHR respectfully reminds you that the United Nations Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, adopted by consensus by the UN General Assembly on 9 December 1998, recognizes the legitimacy of the activities of human rights defenders, their right to freedom of association and to carry out their activities without fear of reprisals. We would particularly draw your attention to Article 5 (c): "For the purpose of promoting and protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms, everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, at the national and international levels: (c) To communicate with non-governmental or intergovernmental organizations" and to Article 6 (c): "Everyone has the right, individually and in association with others: (c) To study, discuss, form and hold opinions on the observance, both in law and in practice, of all human rights and fundamental freedoms and, through these and other appropriate means, to draw public attention to those matters."

Apartheid's roots: The Natives Land Act


A law passed 100 years ago severely restricting ownership of land for South Africa's majority black population continues to have a huge impact today, two decades after the end of apartheid.

At a stroke, the passing of the Natives Land Act on 19 June 1913 saw the majority of South African land reserved for whites, or Europeans. Just 7% of agricultural land was set aside on reserves for blacks, or Africans, though they comprised 67% of the population.
These reserves were, too, to form a key part of the apartheid system. They became the 'homelands' in which different tribal groups were forcibly settled; segregated, cheap labour pools.
Importantly, Africans were forbidden from buying or leasing land outside those reserves except from other Africans. Europeans, likewise, were unable to buy or lease land from Africans.
But according to William Beinart, Rhodes Professor of Race Relations at the University of Oxford, and Professor Peter Delius of the University of the Witwatersrand, land alienation was neither the primary intention nor the major outcome of the legislation.

South Africa's Colonial History

Battle of Blood River
  • 1652 - Dutchman Jan van Riebeeck founds the Cape Colony at Table Bay.
  • 1795 - British forces seize Cape Colony from the Netherlands.
  • 1816-1826 - Shaka Zulu founds and expands the Zulu empire, creating a formidable fighting force.
  • 1835-1840 - 'Boers' (nomadic farmers mostly of Dutch ancestry) disagree with the British equalisation of black and white at the Cape and move inland.
  • 1852 - 1854 - The Boer Republics are recognised by Great Britain.
  • 1879 - British defeat the Zulus in Natal after an ultimatum to Zulu King Cetshwayo to stand down his army is rejected.
  • 1877 - 1910 - Following two Anglo-Boer Wars, the Boer Republics are made self-governing colonies before the Union of South Africa in 1910.
  • 1912 - South African Native National Congress is created (later renamed African National Congress).
  • 1913 - Natives Land Act is passed.
Why did the British kill tens of thousands in concentration camps?
Zulu: What's the true story?
Discover more about the Anglo-Boer Wars

"By and large, dispossession had already taken place, following the colonial wars of the nineteenth century. The Land Act came at the end of this process," they said, speaking at the Land Divided Conference at the University of Cape Town in March 2013.
"The 1913 Act was, however, also designed to control the forms of tenancy allowed in the white-owned areas. An increasing proportion of white landowners wanted fuller control over their land."
African sharecroppers, who cultivated white-owned land and, in return, shared a portion of the harvest with the landowner, lost out significantly.
"The Act did not aim to move black people off the commercial farms but to keep them there as workers rather than tenants," Beinart and Delius explained.

'Pariahs in the land of their birth'
John Dube, the first president of the ANC (then called the South African Native National Congress or SANNC), had told an African audience in 1912 that "if we have no land to live on, we can be no people".
Unsurprisingly, opposition to the Act amongst the African population, when it came to pass, was marked.
In his 1916 book Native Life in South Africa, Sol Plaatje, a prominent activist and co-founder of the ANC, commented that "awaking on Friday morning, June 20th, 1913, the South African Native found himself, not actually a slave, but a pariah in the land of his birth".
His book bewails the plight of black South Africans in the aftermath of the Act.
"Even criminals dropping straight from the gallows have an undisputed claim to six feet of ground on which to rest their criminal remains," he wrote, "but under the cruel operation of the Natives Land Act little children, whose only crime is that God did not make them white, are sometimes denied that right in their ancestral home."
The Act remained a focal point of opposition for years to come.
In 1994 the ANC, now the majority party in South Africa's first democratically elected government, pledged to redistribute 30% of white-owned agricultural land to black farmers. By 2012 just a third of that figure had been met.
In May 2013 Gugile Nkwinti, South Africa's Minister for Rural Development and Land Reform, announced plans to mark the centenary of the Natives Land Act with a call for the country to make a "determined national effort to put that act and its implications behind the nation".
However, land remains an emotive issue in South Africa. The influence of the Natives Land Act still colours the political and social dialogue.
Comments made by the deputy minister of agriculture stirred controversy in 2012. "There is sufficient proof that there were no Bantu-speaking people in the Western Cape and North-western Cape," said Pieter Mulder, also leader of the conservative Freedom Front Plus party. He added that, as a result, black South Africans had no historical claim to "40% of South Africa's land surface".
A year earlier, the former President of the ANC Youth League, Julius Malema said: "The land question must be resolved, if needs be the hard way." He was quoting the 1985 speech of Oliver Tambo, President of the African National Congress (ANC) at that time.
Such is the importance of land reform to the South African political landscape that the government is constitutionally bound to address it.
Article 25 of the South African constitution, passed into law on 10 December 1996, enshrines the responsibility of the state "to foster conditions which enable citizens to gain access to land on an equitable basis".
That such a redress is necessary owes much not only to the years of apartheid, but to the 1913 Natives Land Act and colonial history which made it possible.



Economy and Politics 

Emissaries from the Afghan and US governments will meet members of the Taliban in Qatar, the country where the guerrillas have chosen to open a representative office.
“The United States – said a member of the American administration – will hold an official meeting with the Taliban, the first in years, in a few days in Doha.” The manager has stressed the importance of the meeting, calling it at the same time “the beginning of a very difficult path.”
A few hours earlier, Afghan President Hamid Karzai had announced the dispatch of a delegation from the High Council for Peace, an organization set up in 2010 with the objective to start negotiations with the guerrillas, to Qatar.
The Taliban have opened their office in Qatar today in order to coincide with a ceremony in Kabul marking the shift of responsibility for security from NATO to Afghan forces. For a long time the guerrillas have tied the start of talks to the withdrawal of foreign troops, which support Karzai, from their country.

Bahrain: Alistair Burt

Shafaqna Bahrain @ShafaqnaBahrain ora
Alistair Burt MP confirms 's armoured used by in 19 June...: via



nelis ‏@tolgasipahi ora
A woman is attacked by water cannon during protests in Kizilay square in central Ankara. photo: Dado Ruvic @Reuters pic.twitter.com/izrlOJQivc




yousif omran jassim @yousifomranjass ora
Mercenaries suppress the participants at the crucial moment 3 in sanabis town


Hassan Rouhani wins Iran presidential election


Reformist-backed cleric Hassan Rouhani has won Iran's presidential election, securing just over 50% of the vote and so avoiding the need for a run-off.

Crowds gathered in Tehran to hail Mr Rouhani, who said he had achieved a "victory of moderation over extremism".
Some 72.2% of the 50 million eligible Iranian voters cast ballots to choose the successor to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
The US said it was "ready to engage directly" with Iran over its disputed nuclear programme.
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei congratulated Mr Rouhani on his victory.
"I urge everyone to help the president-elect and his colleagues in the government, as he is the president of the whole nation," he said.
Ayatollah Khamenei will ratify the vote on 3 August and the new president will then take the oath in parliament.
Mr Rouhani, who has pledged greater engagement with Western powers, said: "This victory is a victory for wisdom, moderation and maturity... over extremism."
But he also urged the world to "acknowledge the rights" of Iran.
He said: "The nations who tout democracy and open dialogue should speak to the Iranian people with respect and recognise the rights of the Islamic republic."
'Different course'
Interior Minister Mostafa Mohammad Najjar announced that Mr Rouhani had won 18,613,329 of the 36,704,156 votes cast. This represented 50.71% of the vote.
Tehran Mayor Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf won 6,077,292 votes to take second place (16.56%).
Saeed Jalili came third and Mohsen Rezai fourth.
Mr Najjar said that any challenge by presidential candidates would have to be lodged to the Guardian Council within three days.
The winning candidate needed more than 50% of all ballots cast, including invalid ones, to avoid a run-off.
Crowds gathered in Vali-Asr Square in central Tehran and in Kaj Square in the north-west of the capital to hail the victory.
"Long live reform, long live Rouhani," members of the crowd chanted.
One of them told Reuters news agency: "Many people are holding Rouhani posters. Some are hugging and crying. We are all so happy here. We can't believe there is finally a change."
The US said it respected the vote, although White House spokesman Jay Carney cited concern at censorship and lack of transparency.
The US would "engage Iran directly" to find a "diplomatic solution that will fully address the international community's concerns about Iran's nuclear programme".
The UK Foreign Office urged Mr Rouhani to "set Iran on a different course for the future: addressing international concerns about Iran's nuclear programme... and improving the political and human rights situation for the people of Iran".
France said it was "ready to work" with the new leader.
One of Mr Rouhani's main pledges was to try to ease international sanctions imposed on Iran over its nuclear programme.
Iran has been suffering economic hardship, with rising unemployment, a devalued currency and soaring inflation.
BBC diplomatic correspondent Jonathan Marcus says Mr Rouhani's election is not necessarily the moment for a substantive change in Iran's policy, but that even a change in style might offer an opening to the US and key UN Security Council members which would be worth testing for any real sign of flexibility in Tehran.


Voting had been extended by five hours on Friday evening to allow more people to cast their ballots.
Although all six candidates were seen as conservatives, analysts say Mr Rouhani - a 64-year-old cleric often described as "moderate" who has held several parliamentary posts and served as chief nuclear negotiator - has been reaching out to reformists in recent days.
The surge of support for him came after Mohammad Reza Aref, the only reformist candidate in the race, announced on Tuesday that he was withdrawing on the advice of pro-reform ex-President Mohammad Khatami.
Mr Rouhani thus went into polling day with the endorsement of two ex-presidents - Mr Khatami and Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, who was disqualified from the race by the powerful Guardian Council, a 12-member body of theologians and jurists.
The hardline candidates included Mr Qalibaf - who is seen as a pragmatic conservative - and nuclear negotiator Mr Jalili - who is said to be very close to Ayatollah Khamenei.
The other three candidates were Mr Rezai, a former head of the powerful Revolutionary Guards, former Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Velayati, and former Telecommunications Minister Mohammad Gharazi.
After the last presidential election in June 2009, millions of Iranians took to the streets to demand a rerun, when the supreme leader dismissed claims by the three defeated candidates of widespread fraud.
No foreign observers monitored this year's election and there have also been concerns that media coverage in the run-up has been unfair.
Many reformist newspapers have been shut down, access to the internet and foreign broadcasters has been restricted, and journalists have been detained.


Bahrain identifies February 14 movement leaders

Arrests made for string of crimes committed over last few months
  • By Habib ToumiBureau Chief
  • Image Credit: Reuters
  • Sayed Jameel (C) of the Shiite opposition group al-Wefaq speaks to the media as he arrives at the National Dialogue session in Manama June 12, 2013. The talks, aimed at ending more than two years of unrest in Bahrain, resumed after a two-week boycott by opposition societies in retaliation against a raid on the home of Ayatollah Sheikh Isa Qassim by security forces.
Manama: The interior ministry in Bahrain said that it had identified “several members of the February 14 organisation” for crimes committed in connection with a wave of attacks on the kingdom.
“As a result of the discovery of a string of crimes committed over the last few months, and after an extensive investigation, a number of the February 14 organisation’s main actors who took part in these and other criminal acts have been arrested,” the ministry added.
“The detainees have confessed their involvement in these dangerous terrorist acts to the public prosecutor,” it said. According to the statement, the “crimes have terrorised and spread fear among citizens and residents and ranged from road blocking and burning tyres, to heavy use of Molotov cocktails and the construction and use of weapons and explosives.”
“The February 14 organisation was created as a result of the incidents that took place in Bahrain in February 2011,” the ministry said, adding that it had leaders both inside Bahrain and abroad.
“The responsibilities of the local members included the recruitment of members who coordinate subgroups or plan and execute bombings and the transfer of weapons, media relations, the selection of agents to be sent abroad for training, and the arrangement of safe houses to be used by suspects on the run in Bahrain.”
The organisation leaders not staying in Bahrain were based mainly in London, the ministry said. “They frequently travel between Iran, Iraq and Lebanon to obtain financial and moral support as well as training on the use of weapons,” the ministry said.
“Their responsibilities included coordination between subgroups and interaction with leaders in Iran in order to receive direct financial support and field instructions, the intensification of field movements and the provision of media support for the organisation’s members.”
They were also tasked with the supervision of the transfer and storage of weapons in Bahrain and training members on the use of weapons, gang tactics, real and fake bomb-making, monitoring and recruitment, the ministry said.
According to the ministry, the bombings that have occurred in Bahrain were “similar in type and style to those in Iraq.” “Evidence and confessions have proven the interference by Hezbollah and extremists from Iraq in the internal security affairs of Bahrain,” the ministry said.


Maryam Alkhawaja @MARYAMALKHAWAJA ora
Statement about the confessions video with expert opinion



Marty Hisington @Trackerinblue ora
Truly absurd "confession" video uploaded by #Bahrain policeman http://youtu.be/zQk10wyWRd4  via @youtube Forcing to say protesters have shotguns!


Bahraini opposition delegation wishes Nelson Mandela to get well soon

 Bahraini opposition delegation wishes Nelson Mandela to get well soon
(Ahlul Bayt News Agency) - On behalf of the Bahraini opposition and people, the Bahraini National Democratic Opposition Parties delegation in South Africa, wish Mr. Nelson Mandela, the internationally loved and respected anti-apartheid leader, good health and a full recovery.

A delegation from the Bahrain opposition is visiting South Africa this week and highly recognise the pivotal role played by Mr. Mandela in  strengthening the non-violent approach that was embraced and adopted by many freedom seekers around the world and which the mainstream opposition in Bahrain fully adheres to, until transition to democracy is achieved in Bahrain.


Activist: 1,800 Protestors Detained in Bahrain

(Ahlul Bayt News Agency) - "The number of detained Bahraini protestors has reached 1,800 people," Hadi al-Moussavi was quoted as saying by Fajr Bahrain news website on Saturday. 

He said that the number of female activists arrested and jailed by the Bahraini security forces has increased, and warned that they are being tortured in al-Khalifa jails. 

Moussavi also stressed that over 600 protestors who were fired from their jobs after participating in peaceful rallies have not yet returned to their jobs despite the recommendations of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) - a body set up by the Bahraini king himself in late 2011 to investigate the events surrounding the uprising. 

Anti-government protesters have been holding peaceful demonstrations across Bahrain since mid-February 2011, calling for an end to the al-Khalifa dynasty. 

Violence against the defenseless people escalated after a Saudi-led conglomerate of police, security and military forces from the Persian Gulf Cooperation Council (PGCC) member states - Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Qatar - were dispatched to the tiny Persian Gulf kingdom on March 2011, to help Manama crack down on peaceful protestors. 

So far, tens of protesters have been killed, hundreds have gone missing and thousands of others have been injured.

Blockades separating residential areas remind Bahrainis of the “apartheid wall”

(Ahlul Bayt News Agency) - The Bahraini authorities have taken on a campaign to siege certain areas known to be opponent to the Government. A number of residential areas have been isolated and surrounded with barriers or fences in order to contain protests inside.

The authorities first applied this method during the state of emergency back in 2011 by separating Sunni areas from Shiite areas with cement barriers. The regime did this as if to protect certain areas from others, only there is no motives for such fears on ground.

The blockades are put in joint roads between Sunni and Shiite areas (Budaiya and Duraz) and (Riffa and Aali). This illustrates the sectarian motives behind the blockades although no Sunni areas have been targeted by Shiite areas or the opposite. Which means the regime had intended to pass over to the public a planned envision during the peak of the official media incitement.

The Pearl square, where the historic mass protest was held, has also been totally blocked with cement barriers and razor wire for over two years now.

The blockades in Bahrain remind the citizens of the Apartheid Wall in the West Bank and the Berlin Wall in Germany, both built for racial discrimination.

Kuwaiti woman jailed for 'insulting' emir tweets


A Kuwaiti court has sentenced a woman to 11 years in jail for insulting the emir and calling for regime change on social networking site Twitter.

Huda al-Ajmi, a 37-year-old teacher, has been also convicted of misusing her mobile phone.
She can appeal against the sentence.
Kuwait has punished several Twitter users in recent months for insulting its ruler, Sheikh Sabah al-Sabah, who is described as "immune and inviolable" in the constitution.
In May, an appeals court overturned a five-year sentence for prominent opposition figure Mussallam al-Barrak who was convicted of "undermining" the ruling emir, says his defence lawyer.
The former MP was arrested over remarks he made at a rally in October, urging the emir to avoid "autocratic" rule in Kuwait. Mr Barrak was handed the sentence in April, but later freed on bail.
His trial prompted angry protests and clashes between activists and police.
There has been a recent clampdown in Kuwait, with activists and MPs being charged with insulting the emir through comments posted on social networking sites such as Twitter.
While Kuwait has not seen the same scale of pro-democracy uprisings as in other Arab states, there has been growing tension between former MPs and the government, which is dominated by the Sabah family.

Nelson Mandela condition 'unchanged - still serious'


South Africa's ex-President Nelson Mandela remains in a serious but stable condition in a Pretoria hospital, the latest update has announced.

The presidency said Mr Mandela's condition was unchanged and confirmed that he was in intensive care.
Prayers have been said in churches across the country for Mr Mandela, who is being treated for a lung infection.
Mr Mandela, 94, was taken to hospital early on Saturday, the third time this year he has been admitted.
The presidency said he had been ill for some days at his Johannesburg home, with a recurrence of his long-standing lung problems.
He was admitted to hospital after his condition worsened at 01:30 on Saturday (23:30 GMT Friday).
The government said in a statement: "President Jacob Zuma reiterates his call for South Africa to pray for Madiba and the family during this time." Madiba is Mr Mandela's clan name.

The BBC's Gabriel Gatehouse in Johannesburg looks at how South Africa's newspapers have been covering the latest news about Nelson Mandela's health
In releasing the latest update, presidency spokesman Mac Maharaj also denied that visitors were being blocked from seeing Mr Mandela.
He said: "The reality is that the normal procedures when a patient is under intensive care are applying from the medical side.
"Therefore there are limitations on visitors and, you know, that when a person is in intensive care the doctors only allow some very close people to be there - it is not the way it is being presented in the media."
'A fighter'

Nelson Mandela: Key dates

  • 1918 Born in the Eastern Cape
  • 1943 Joins African National Congress
  • 1956 Charged with high treason, but charges dropped
  • 1962 Arrested, convicted of sabotage, sentenced to five years in prison
  • 1964 Charged again, sentenced to life
  • 1990 Freed from prison
  • 1993 Wins Nobel Peace Prize
  • 1994 Elected first black president
  • 1999 Steps down as leader
  • 2004 Retires from public life
  • 2010 Last public appearance - at World Cup finals
The BBC's Karen Allen in Pretoria says there is a quiet hope that the man who led the fight against apartheid may regain his strength once again.
She says that many took heart from a visit on Sunday by Mr Mandela's daughter, Zindzi, who said that her father was "well" and "a fighter".
Mr Mandela's wife, Graca Machel, cancelled a scheduled appearance in London on Saturday to remain at her husband's bedside.
Nelson Mandela served as president from 1994 to 1999.
He was previously imprisoned for 27 years, and is believed to have suffered damaged lungs while working in a prison quarry.
He contracted tuberculosis in the 1980s while being held in jail on the windswept Robben Island.
He retired from public life in 2004 and has been rarely seen in public since.

Emir of Qatar to cede powers to 33-year-old son

Shaikh Tamim has a close alliance with the Muslim Brotherhood
  • By Damien McElroy The Daily Telegraph

London: Qatar is preparing to begin a leadership transition this summer in which the emir will relinquish power to his son, and his cousin, the owner of Harrods, will step down as prime minister.
Senior figures in Qatar have briefed foreign counterparts that the time has come for Shaikh Tamim Bin Hamad, the 33-year-old crown prince, to take over the leadership of the Gulf state, The Daily Telegraph has learnt.
Shaikh Hamad Bin Jasem, the prime minister and one of the biggest investors in Britain, will give up his post. The royal court will then announce that the 61-year-old emir, Shaikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani, who has struggled with health problems, will cede powers to the Sandhurst-educated crown prince.
A British source close to the Gulf state was told of the plans earlier this year. Sources said other key states, including the US and Iran, have also been briefed about the succession.
“The plan is to manage a staged handover of power that allows the crown prince to come to the fore,” said one source with knowledge of the discussions. “The stakes are very high because Qatar is at [the] forefront of events in a very sensitive region.”
Representatives of the Qatari government were not able to comment on the discussions about the leadership but analysts said any changes in leadership would have huge implications for the Middle East and Western foreign policy.
“The legacy of the emir and the prime minister has been to make Qatar a player in the world,” said Michael Stephens, a Gulf researcher at the Royal United Services Institute. “It was an outpost when they took over and now it has grown into a modern city. It is one of the biggest investors in Europe and Britain, has set up a very powerful Arab television station [Al Jazeera] and has a very prominent foreign policy. That is almost all down to the driving force of those two men.”
Shaikh Hamad, the emir, took power in a bloodless coup in 1995 while his father was on a trip to Europe. His wife Shaikha Mouza, who attended a charity function with the Prince of Wales at Windsor Castle last week, has been a symbol of women’s rights in the Arab world. Shaikh Hamad Bin Jasem will remain chief executive of the Qatar Investment Authority, a sovereign wealth fund that recycles the emirate’s gas revenues, and will continue to be the driving force behind the entity that owns Harrods.
Although Shaikh Tamim is well known to diplomats and foreign officials, there are questions over policies under the new leadership. Military observers point to his close alliance with the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood as a potential sign that he will not be as liberal as his father and the prime minister.

Nigerian Same Sex Marriage [Prohibition] Bill 2013


By Sokari EkineBlack Looks

The Nigerian SSMB 2013 was passed by the house of representatives on the 30th May.  It is now in the hands of President Goodluck Jonathan who must decide whether or not to sign it into law.
The US and UK have both stated that passage of the Bill would compromise some aspects of aid, possibly HIV/AIDS funding but I doubt threats from either are substantial enough to persuade him. It boils down to which pressure he feels the most – from his own government and lawmakers or from the foreign donors remembering that countries such as China are no doubt ready to fill in any financial gaps arising from loss of US/UK aid.     How much will there is for the passage of the Bill is not clear considering it has taken nearly two years between the 2011 Senate vote and last Thursdays lower house vote.
The original Bill dates back to 2006 and there are some differences in the wording but of most concern is the “Offences and Penalties” section which was originally 5 years and has now been upped to 14 years for civil union or marriage and 10 years for registering a ‘gay’ organisation or shows affection in public plus 10 years for witness too or aid and abet.  The Bill is also  far more precise in its interpretation of marriage which includes civil unions as follows….
means any arrangement between persons of the same sex to live together as sex partners, and shall include such descriptions as adult independent relationships, caring partnerships, civil solidarity pacts, domestic partnerships, reciprocal beneficiary relationships, registered partnership, significant relationship, stable unions etc
Whether it was the intention or not, the wording of the Bill reflects an admission that same sex relationships are ‘caring’ ‘significant’ ‘stable’ partnerships and their decision to extend criminalisation of such relationships is cruel and and assault on the dignity of all people irrespective of their sexual orientation to decide how they conduct their intimate life in public and in the domestic sphere.  It now remains for Nigerian and African civil society and human rights orgnasations to add their voice in support of GLBTIQ rights in Nigeria and across the continent.

Quantitative Easing: Impact on Emerging and Developing Economies

New Delhi – The global economy is awash with successive waves of liquidity generated over the past few years by the four most advanced economies, viz., the United States, the European Union (EU), Japan and the United Kingdom, known as the G4. This liquidity has taken the form of “quantitative easing” (QE).
When zero rates of interest have failed to stimulate their economies, these countries have resorted to large-scale asset purchases by their central banks, such as corporate bonds or mortgage backed securities, to pump more money into the banking system.
The aim is to extend credit to business and industry and encourage consumption.
In the immediate aftermath of the global financial and economic crisis in 2008, when there was a danger of financial collapse, both advanced as well as emerging economies adopted stimulus packages, to revive demand, maintain trade flows and avoid large-scale unemployment. During the crisis phase of 2008/09, QE played an important role in crisis management, helping advanced and emerging economies alike.
However, while emerging economies have weathered the crisis and seen a revival of growth, the G4 continue to experience economic stagnation, depressed markets and large-scale unemployment.
Their response has been to persist with even larger doses of QE as a means of propping up demand,encouraging banks to expand and boosting stock valuations.
Before the crisis, the U.S. held 700 to 800 billion dollars of Treasury notes. The current level is 2.054 trillion dollars. In the latest round, QE-3, the U.S. Federal Bank is committed to the purchase of 40 billion dollars of mortgage-backed securities per month as long as unemployment remains above 6.5 percent.
The European Central Bank (ECB) has pumped 489 billion euros of liquidity into the eurozone since the crisis, while in the United Kingdom QE has reached the level of 375 billion pounds.
Most recently, the Bank of Japan has decided to pump 1.4 trillion dollars in the next two years into its economy, aiming at a two-percent inflation rate by doubling the money supply.
The assets of the G4 central banks have expanded from a figure of 11-12 percent of their gross domestic product (GDP) to the current unprecedented level of 23 percent. These assets were 3.5 trillion dollars in 2007 before the crisis. They are now nine trillion dollars and rising. This is the scale of liquidity expansion we are dealing with.
Since interest rates in the G4 remain at zero and their economies remain stagnant, it is inevitable that there will be significant capital outflows to emerging and other developing economies, in quest of higher risk-adjusted returns.
According to one estimate, about 40 percent of the increase in the U.S. monetary base in the QE-1 phase leaked out in the form of increased gross capital outflows, while in the QE-2 phase, it may have been about one-third.
This massive and continuing surge of capital outflows to emerging and other developing economies is having a major impact. Corporations, which have a sound credit rating, are taking on more debt, and increasing their foreign exchange exposure, attracted by low borrowing costs.
Their vulnerability to future interest rate changes in the developed world and exchange rate volatility will increase. Such inflows put upward pressure on exchange rates, stimulate credit expansion, and cause inflationary pressures, which pose a major challenge to policy-makers in the developing world.
Most of the capital inflows are in the nature of portfolio investments, which are prone to sudden and volatile movement and puts emerging economies at greater risk. The volatility one has witnessed in the Indian stock market is a case in point. In general, we may conclude that the overall impact of these capital flows is expansionary and distortionary.
There has been considerable criticism of the G4’s unconventional monetary policies from the emerging economies, including the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa).
The magnitude of QE has had unintended consequences beyond the borders of the G4, especially because their currencies are not only fully convertible but, together, constitute the pillars of the global financial system.
The U.S. dollar is the world’s leading reserve currency, and the euro, the British pound and the Japanese yen together constitute the basket of currencies the International Monetary Fund (IMF) uses to value its Special Drawing Rights. Thus, the nature of the G4 currencies and their significant role in the global financial market ensures that QE undertaken by them has a global impact on economies across our globalised and interconnected world.
It is necessary, therefore, for the G4 to act with great responsibility and to work together with the emerging economies, to minimise the adverse effects of their QE policies. It would be particularly important to forge a consensus on how to handle the potential financial turmoil and disruption that may afflict developing economies once the QE is sought to be retired and interest rates once again become positive in the G4. The sudden and large-scale reversal of capital flows is a likely scenario that would need to be anticipated and managed.
The Asian financial crisis of 1997/98 was, in part, triggered by an earlier version of QE pursued by Japan in the aftermath of the bursting of its property and asset bubble in the early 1990s. Then, too, the large inflow of low-cost yen loans led to the asset price bubbles, inflationary pressures and currency instability in the Asian economies. They paid a heavy price in the bargain.
A larger, more pervasive crisis may await the emerging and developing economies unless there is a much more coordinated and careful handling of the risks that are already building up. The G20 should have this issue at the top of its agenda.

By Shyam SaranIps Africa



World Bank ‏@WorldBank 
.@LightingAfrica has brought safe solar lighting to 6.9+ million people: http://www.lightingafrica.org
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Feature: #Al-Qaeda's top boss has ruled against the merger of two jihadi groups based in #Syria and #Iraq http://aje.me/18gyViB


A video of our largest EVER humanitarian appeal

UN Refugee Agency @Refugees 
A video of our largest EVER humanitarian appeal. RT if you agree, we need to do more for #Syria!
http://rfg.ee/lOgKo  #Aid4Syria

Syria Humanitarian Appeal 2013
More than 100 humanitarian organizations, including the UN refugee agency, appeal for more than US$4 billion to help millions of Syrians.

Viber banned in Saudi Arabia

Suspension of messaging application causes online upset.



Obama urges 'meaningful reform' in Bahrain


US president stresses importance of US partnership in Bahrain while calling for respect for universal rights.

US President Barack Obama has called for "meaningful reform" and respect for universal rights in Bahrain, during talks with Crown Prince Salman at the White House.
Obama dropped by Deputy National Security Adviser Tony Blinken's meeting with the prince on Wednesday and stressed the importance of the US partnership in Bahrain and Washington's support for its stability and security.
Salman, a reputed moderate, has just been made Bahrain's first deputy prime minister following months of tensions and unrest between the strategic archipelago's Sunni government and Shiite majority.
"The president emphasised US support for Bahrain's stability and security," National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said in a statement.
Obama also stressed that "meaningful reform, dialogue and respect for universal human rights is the best path to achieving the peace and security that all Bahraini citizens deserve," she said.
Bahrain, home to the headquarters of US Navy's Fifth Fleet, was rocked by month-long protests in early 2011 linked to opposition demands for a constitutional monarchy.
The protests were crushed with the help of Gulf troops led by neighbouring Saudi Arabia.
Strategically situated across the Gulf from Shiite-ruled Iran, Bahrain has since witnessed sporadic demonstrations, now mostly outside the capital.


Iran Felicitates Syria's Full Control over Strategic Town of Qusseir

TEHRAN (FNA)- Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab and African Affairs Hossein Amir Abdollahian on Wednesday felicitated the Syrian nation and government on the army's full control over the town of al-Qusseir.

Syria's state television reported that Syrian forces have regained full control of the strategic city of Qusseir following three weeks of fighting with the militants in the region.

The Syrian military forces dismantled the terrorist network of the militants in the strategic area, which borders Lebanon.

Many of the foreign-backed militants and members of the armed groups were killed or injured during the Syrian army operations to cleanse the region of the terrorists.

Speaking to FNA, Amir Abdollahian congratulated the Syrian nation, government, and army on the success of the Syrian military forces in Qusseir.

He also condemned the shipment of arms to the militants in the Arab country, and said, "Certain parties, who are still supporting arms shipment and terrorist acts against Syria, are responsible for massacre of people and devastation of Syria and should be tried as war criminals."

Americans in Bahrain warned about possible extremist threats

MANAMA, Bahrain — The U.S. Embassy has warned Americans in Bahrain about possible threats from extremists in the kingdom, which has been the scene of political unrest for many years.
In a security message released Sunday, embassy officials said “extremist elements of certain opposition groups have conducted surveillance on U.S. personnel” in various locations. These included the Navy Support Activity Bahrain, the Bahrain School where American students attend, and other areas that Americans frequent.
However, diplomatic officials said the message was more of a “periodic notice” and that there are no specific threats against U.S. personnel or facilities. They pointed out that there have been no attacks on U.S. citizens in Bahrain to date.
In a separate message to servicemembers and families, U.S. Navy force protection officials urged them to remain vigilant and report any suspicious activity to base security personnel.
“We do receive reports of surveillance ... whether they reflect actual surveillance is unknown,” said Cmdr. Jason Salata, U.S. Navy 5th Fleet spokesman. “Our people here are in no more danger after this message than they were before the message was sent,” assured Salata.
He explains it’s always “prudent” to remind personnel overseas to “remain alert and be aware of the conditions around them.”
For several years, Bahrain — home to the U.S. 5th Fleet — has experienced demonstrations sparked by segments from its Shiite majority, which is demanding a greater political voice in the Sunni-dominated political system.
Protests have ranged from peaceful marches to violent demonstrations with participants throwing Molotov cocktails and using improvised explosive devices.
Analysts have warned that a segment of Shiite opposition appeared to be growing increasingly more radical in recent months. Last week an explosion from a homemade bomb injured seven police officers west of the capital of Manama.
Approximately 6,500 U.S. personnel serve in Bahrain in support of U.S. Navy activities.

U.S. Blacklists 37 Companies in Iran Dispute


The United States on Tuesday blacklisted what it described as a global network of front companies controlled by Iran’s top leaders, accusing them of hiding assets and generating billions of dollars worth of revenue to help Tehran evade Western sanctions over its disputed nuclear program.
The action, taken by the Treasury Department, was one of the broadest in the American-led effort to isolate and pressure Iran economically. It was the fourth time in a week that the Obama administration had escalated sanctions on Iran and the first time it had accused the country’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, of personally directing an effort to bypass them.
“Even as economic conditions in Iran deteriorate, senior Iranian leaders profit from a shadowy network of off-the-books front companies,” David S. Cohen, the Treasury under secretary who oversees the sanctions effort, said in a statement announcing the new action.
The statement identified 37 companies, including enterprises in Germany, South Africa, Croatia and the United Arab Emirates, that it said operated as a labyrinth of “ostensibly private businesses” directed by the Execution of Imam Khomeini’s Order, known as EIKO, run by Ayatollah Khamenei and his immediate subordinates.
The statement said the companies exploited favorable loan rates from Iranian banks for the profitable sale and management of property, including real estate in Iran that had been confiscated by EIKO from Iranians living abroad.
The main purpose of EIKO, the Treasury statement said, was to hide billions of dollars in corporate profits, “evade our sanctions and escape international isolation.”
The Treasury’s action was announced on the same day that Mr. Cohen testified before a Senate committee on the effectiveness of the Obama administration’s sanction regimen. Although Iran has suffered economically, its leaders have shown no willingness to compromise on the nuclear dispute and have described the sanctions as a futile attempt by the United States and its Western allies to bully them into concessions.
The nuclear dispute is centered on Iran’s uranium enrichment activities, which it calls peaceful and legal but which Western nations suspect is a cover for developing the ability to make atomic bombs. The United Nations Security Council has repeatedly demanded that Iran halt the enrichment until it resolves unanswered questions; Iran has rejected those demands as unwarranted.
Talks aimed at resolving the dispute have stalled in advance of the Iranian presidential elections on June 14. The eight candidates include Saeed Jalili, a hard-line protégé of Ayatollah Khamenei who has rejected any deal in which Iran would relinquish uranium enrichment.
Under United States sanctions policies, blacklisted Iranian companies or individuals are banned from doing business with any American companies or individuals and have their American assets frozen. In addition, the sanctions policies threaten heavy penalties, including a ban from the United States market, to any company or individual that helps Iran evade the sanctions.
Over the past week, the Obama administration has blacklisted Iranian petrochemical companies, its automotive industry and more than 50 Iranian officials, and has threatened to sanction foreign banks that trade or hold Iran’s national currency, the rial.
There was no immediate response to the latest sanctions from Tehran, where on Tuesday Ayatollah Khamenei and other top leaders were commemorating the 24th anniversary of the death of his predecessor, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the founder of the Islamic Republic. But in a speech carried by Iran’s state-run media, Ayatollah Khamenei, who has the final say on Iran’s nuclear policy, warned that whoever wins the election next week should never compromise on the nuclear issue.
“Some have the wrong analysis that by giving concessions to enemies, their anger toward Iran will be reduced,” he said. “This is a mistake.”