Gaza conflict: Is US pressuring Israel with airport ban?

Washington: The US denies that a ban on US airliners flying to Tel Aviv and a stark US travel warning are ploys to push Israel to agree a Gaza truce.

“I would wholly disagree with that argument,” deputy State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said, when asked if the two directives were a political move to put pressure on Israelis.

“We issued travel warnings because one of our top priorities is protecting US citizens overseas,” she told reporters on Tuesday. Continue reading

China Using Psychiatric Treatment as Punishment for Political Dissident

Xing Shiku tortured ‘with chains’ and ‘electric shocks’ in psychiatric hospital

The Chinese government routinely uses psychiatric confinements as a tool to control dissidents, a Chinese human rights group said on Monday.

Chinese Human Rights Defenders (CHRD) highlighted the case of Xing Shiku, a Chinese petitioner who has been involuntarily detained at the Daowai District Psychiatric Hospital in Harbin City since February 2007.

CHRD says Xing was arrested in Beijing for filing complaints to government authorities about corruption and labor violations that occurred due to the privatization of the state-owned company where he once worked. He was then immediately transferred to the psychiatric hospital in northeast China.

The Chinese government claimed that Xing suffered from schizophrenia and “could have posed a threat to or adversely affected the maintenance of public order in Beijing.” CHRD maintains that doctors at the hospital have acknowledged that he does not suffer from any mental illness.

The group said Xing’s detention is politically motivated. Continue reading

ISIS gains highlight ‘aggressive’ use of water as weapon of war

 

BEIRUT: Militants from ISIS now control or threaten key facilities on the Euphrates and Tigris rivers, generating fears that the Al-Qaeda splinter group could turn off the taps to the Shiite south of Iraq, sparking a massive humanitarian crisis.Last month’s ISIS-led offensive across Iraq saw it overrun cities and battle for oil refineries as the national army melted away, but it has also been waging a war for water, trying to wrest control over rivers, dams and desalination plants in a bid to solidify its territorial gains.

Control of water is seen as key to the viability of the fledgling caliphate declared by ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Without water, seasonal droughts cannot be managed, electricity cannot be generated, proper sanitation practices are near impossible and the local economy grinds to a virtual halt.

“When it comes to creating an Islamic state, it is not just about the control of geographic areas in Syria and Iraq. In order to form a viable state, one must control the state’s most vital infrastructure, which in Iraq’s case is water and oil,” said Matthew Machowski, a research fellow at Queen Mary University. Continue reading

Air Force launching satellites to spy on other satellites

Too little, too late.

America’s adversaries have deployed satellites that will physically dismantle US satellites and laser weapons that will pluck targets out of space. In reality and worst-case scenario, it doesn’t do much good to focus on satellites that merely ‘spot’ other satellites when the enemy has the means of destroying yours.

America abandoned the Star Wars system long ago because it cost too much and was deemed an impossible science fiction fantasy to develop and deploy. You can call it mothballing or sabotage. Meanwhile, America’s enemies have built theirs — namely Russia and China. Although they haven’t knocked yet, the barbarians are already at the gate.

But hey, no problem. As long as people can still go shopping and still watch the latest NBA game distraction it means threats can be whitewashed, right?

WASHINGTON — The Air Force is about to put a new advanced satellite into space to spy on other countries’ satellites.

On Wednesday, a Delta IV rocket will launch from Cape Canaveral Air Station, Fla., and place two Geosynchronous Space Situational Awareness Program satellites into orbit. They will be the first GSSAP satellites ever launched.

“This neighborhood watch twosome … will be on the lookout for nefarious capability other nations might try to place in that critical orbital regime,” Gen. William Shelton, the head of Air Force Space Command, told reporters at the Pentagon. Continue reading

BRICS nations could rival US in global influence

The rise of the BRICS countries–Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa–may challenge the world order and lead to the end of US domination.

The five countries set up the New Development Bank during a recent summit in Brazil, which offers an alternative to the US-led International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

The five countries participating in the economic cooperation forum are likely to deepen their cooperation in various fields, which may rival the dominance of the United States and G7 countries in the world.

The BRICS countries will also increase their sway if they can improve their governance, considering the fact that they account for 42% of the global population and their GDP and trade volume each make up for about 20% of the world’s total. Continue reading

Europe braced for any gas crisis as Russia sanctions escalate

The showdown with Russian president Vladimir Putin comes at moment of surging global supplies of LNG, which can be diverted to European markets and reduce the Kremlin’s political leverage. The price of LNG in Asia has crashed from $20 to $11 per British thermal unit since February.

The pan-EU group Gas Infrastructure Europe said the network of LNG terminals in Britain and the Continent is currently operating at just 20pc of its full capacity. It could in theory boost flows by 160bn cubic metres (BCM), if there is available gas.

This is more than Russia’s entire shipments, which reached 155 BCM last year. The European network of pipelines does not cover every region and would leave pockets in eastern Europe without supply.

“We have a lot of free capacity in LNG in Europe. It would be extremely difficult to replace Russian gas in a just a few months but it is possible to raise supply,” said one official. Continue reading

How Japan Fell in Love With America’s Drones

For decades Japan has been the world’s playground for design innovation. But now it may become ground zero for the future of something far more hostile: military drones.

Japan is not so quietly building a huge drone fleet

The country will invest ¥3 billion (approx $372 million) in the coming decade to drastically expand its virtually non-existent military unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) program, according to a senior analyst at IHS Jane’s, the leading defense and security agency. Continue reading

Billionaire Warns: Yellen Collapse ‘Will Be Unlike Any Other’

Another horrific stock market crash is coming, and the next bust will be “unlike any other” we have seen.

That’s the message from Jeremy Grantham, co-founder and chief investment strategist of GMO, a Boston-based firm with $117 billion in assets under management.

Grantham pulls no punches when assigning responsibility for the coming financial carnage. In a recent interview with The New York Times, he calls Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen “ignorant” and says the Federal Reserve all but killed the economic recovery.
Continue reading

The Alliance of the Threatened

BERLIN/WASHINGTON/MOSCOW (Own report) – The EU and USA have expanded their sanctions against Russia and – in addition to individuals – have now also placed important Russian companies on their lists. Washington has restricted dealings, for example, with Rosneft and the Gazprombank. Brussels has announced the possibility of preventing EU companies from doing business with Russian companies and is planning to list them by the end of July. German business circles are protesting. They have already suffered billions in losses. Experts are warning that, with its sanctions against Russia, the West may experience, in the economic arena, an overreach similar to that experienced by the US in the military arena with its war on Iraq. With the power of the West obviously waning, it has already become noticeable that even close allies are defecting. Observers explain this with the Crimea conflict: NATO countries had been unable to retain the Crimea within the reign of its allied Ukrainian government; therefore it seems that an alliance with NATO countries would no longer be a reliable assurance against ones enemies. Defections can be noticed in Asia and Latin America, not least of all because of the recent founding of the BRICS development bank, rivaling the US-dominated World Bank. Russia and China are among the founders of this bank. Continue reading

Kerry and Ban in truce bid to save Hamas from defeat. Israel holds reply. Cairo won’t amend truce proposal

Three rival groups are in a tug-o’-war over a ceasefire initiative for the Gaza conflict: The US and UN are pulling one way; Israel, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, the other; and Qatar, Turkey, Hamas and the Palestinian Authority, are trying to manipulate the others.

Monday night, July 21, US Secretary of State John Kerry and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon arrived in Cairo to press their case with Egyptian President Abdel-Fatteh El-Sisi: Kerry’s directive was outlined by President Barack Obama a few hours earlier, “to focus on bringing about a ceasefire than ends the fighting and can stop the death of innocent civilians.”

Reported to be pushing for a long-term ceasefire, the UN Secretary went on to comment that it was impossible to go back to the situation that caused the conflict. He ruled out the “status quo ante” for the Gaza Strip as untenable. Continue reading

UAE ‘offered to fund Israel’s Gaza offensive’

DOHA: The UAE knew in advance of Israel’s plans for an offensive in Gaza and even offered to fund the operation provided the militant Palestinian outfit Hamas was eliminated in the process, Israel’s Channel 2 claimed in a recent report, according to local Arabic daily Al Sharq. The daily says in a report published today that Israel’s leading national TV station (Channel 2 in Hebrew) disclosed details of secret parleys between the UAE’s foreign minister, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, and his Israeli counterpart, Avigdor Lieberman, in Paris at the end of last month. Continue reading

Gov. Rick Perry to deploy 1,000 National Guard troops to RGV

Texas Gov. Rick Perry plans to announce he will activate the Texas National Guard at a news conference Monday in Austin, said state Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, D-McAllen.

Hinojosa did not have details of the effort, but an internal memo from another state official’s office said the governor planned to call about 1,000 Texas National Guard troops to the Rio Grande Valley — at a cost of about $12 million per month.

The memo was provided to The Monitor on the condition of anonymity because the information is not yet public.

Troops are expected to enter the area gradually, building up to 1,000 after about a month, the memo said. Continue reading

BRICS shake up global economic architecture

By creating their own multilateral financial institutions, the BRICS emerging-market powers are shaking up global economic governance but remain far from dismantling the post-war system dominated by the West.

For the past 70 years, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank have been the pillars of the world’s economic system, coming to the rescue of countries in trouble and supporting development projects, respectively.

China, the world’s second-largest economy, continues to have just slightly more voting power in the IMF than Italy, about five times smaller.

And, since their creation in 1944, the IMF and the World Bank have only been led by Americans and Europeans. Continue reading

Chinese spy ship arrives at giant U.S.-led naval exercise off the coast of Hawaii

A giant U.S.-led naval exercise with 22 nations from around the world got an unexpected visitor on Sunday — a Chinese spy ship perched in international waters.

The 24th Rim of the Pacific exercises (RIMPAC) in and around the Hawaiian Islands features more than 200 aircraft and 25,000 personnel. China is part of a host of nations taking part, which also includes Australia, Canada, France, Japan, the Republic of Korea, the Republic of the Philippines, the United Kingdom and others. Continue reading

South Stream puts Serbia in conflict with EU

With the decision by Bulgaria to suspend construction of the South Stream natural gas pipeline, there is more pressure on Serbia, which is balancing its longstanding ties with Russia against its desire to join the European Union.”The Serbian situation is the most difficult because it ‘paid ‘ the entrance to the pipeline by giving to Gazprom low prices for NIS (Naftna Industrija Serbia – Oil Company of Serbia) and Banatski Dvor (and underground gas storage in Vojvodina),” Jelena Milic, director of the Centre for Euro-Atlantic Studies for Belgrade, told SETimes.

“It is not regulated by the energy agreement with Russia what will happen if Russia gives up the project or if it will not be able to realise its obligations. Serbia counts on incomes of transit and to pay back its debts to Russia,” Milic said. Continue reading