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Member since: 2003 before July 6th
Number of posts: 29,876

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Snowden Could Request Asylum In Russia: Official

MOSCOW, June 27 (Xinhua) -- U.S. intelligence leaker Edward Snowden has a chance to receive political asylum from Moscow if he requests it, a Russian official said Thursday.

"It can be considered by the President if Mr. Snowden files such a request," Mikhail Fedotov, head of the Russian Presidential Human Rights Council, told the Interfax news agency.

Fedotov noted that he approached the situation from the perspective of human rights protection rather than foreign policy.

"A person, disclosing secrets concealed by special services, if these secrets are a threat to millions of people ... such a person does deserve political asylum in this or that country," he said.

"I think it will be the right thing to do if they do grant him asylum," Fedotov said, adding the whistleblower "must be under the protection of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees throughout this procedure."



A Double Standard On Disputed Land For Settlers And Bedouin

When settlers defy orders from the Supreme Court, there is a public outcry. When Bedouin do the same, silence.

By Israel Harel | Jun.26, 2013 | 7:47 PM

Consider the following scenario: Several courts ruled over the years that settlers illegally annexed thousands of dunams of land. These lands must be restored to their owners, the courts ruled, and the structures on them must be demolished. The trespassers appealed to the Supreme Court, claiming that “state land” was the property of the Jewish people from time immemorial. The appeals were rejected. Squatting on state land is also illegal, the justices ruled.

Yet the settlers, who always see themselves as above the law, continued to seize control of more and more land. The army? The police? They wouldn’t dare start up with a population, some of it criminal, which has such political power and is backed by a biased and populist media.

And the government? As is often the case with weak governments that fear confronting powerful forces, it set up a committee to regulate the mass and years-long takeover of state lands. The committee, headed by a retired Supreme Court justice, confirmed that most of the lands had been seized illegally. Amazingly, the committee nonetheless decided that the looters could keep their booty. A small percentage of the land will be evacuated, but the government will pay the squatters there compensation. It will even build towns and villages for them at state expense.

Enlightened Israel objected furiously to the authorization of the settlers’ theft and contempt of court, especially of the Supreme Court. But the government, apathetic to the public’s anger, decided to submit a bill that would set the committee’s scandalous conclusions in law.



Collision Course: Plan To Displace Tens Of Thousands Of Bedouin Passes First Knesset Vote

The implementation of the Prawer Plan for unrecognized villages in the Negev has become a major policy objective for the Netanyahu government.

By Noam Sheizaf |Published June 25, 2013

Following one of the most heated debates the Israeli parliament has seen in recent years, the Knesset approved the Prawer-Begin Plan for the Arrangement of Bedouin-Palestinian Settlement in the Negev yesterday (Monday). Commonly referred to as the Prawer Plan, the new legislation will allow the government to destroy dozens of so-called “unrecognized” villages in the South and remove between 30-40,000 Bedouin from their homes.

According to the plan, those Bedouin citizens who have registered land claims will be offered monetary compensation or land in an area designated for resettlement.

Following demands from the right-wing Jewish Home party, a new article was added to the bill at the last minute, stipulating that the government’s compensation offer will expire after a certain period of time; failure to comply with the process will not only result in forced removal to the relocation zones but also a loss of monetary compensation or land, which would have previously been offered.

This is the largest attempted eviction of a native Palestinian population by Israel in decades. At the end of the process, all remaining Bedouin land claims will be erased from the state record.



US Senator Aims to Force Russia’s Hand on Snowden

Source: RIA Novosti

WASHINGTON, June 27 (RIA Novosti) – A senior US lawmaker has said he is preparing a package of measures to pressure Russia to assist the United States in securing the detention of former CIA employee Edward Snowden, who is reportedly holed up in the transit zone of a Moscow airport after arriving from Hong Kong earlier this week, The Daily Beast reported Thursday.

“We are exploring what are the leverage points. I’m trying to put together a package to let the Russians know how serious we are,” US Sen. Lindsey Graham, a Republican from South Carolina, told the US news website in an interview published Thursday. “We have to respond, this is a defining moment in the relationship.”

Graham declined to elaborate on what measures he and fellow US lawmakers might pursue, though he accused Russia of ignoring the rule of law both domestically and abroad, adding that Russian President Vladimir Putin is “trying to recreate the old Soviet Union attitude and image,” The Daily Beast reported.

Several members of the US Congress this week have voiced outrage over Russian authorities’ refusal to act while Snowden reportedly remains in the transit area of Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport, out of reach of US authorities who want him expelled and returned to the United States to face charges of leaking state secrets.

Read more: http://en.ria.ru/world/20130627/181916328/US-Senator-Aims-to-Force-Russias-Hand-on-Snowden.html

Israel Undermines Kerry’s Peace Visit With More Settlement Building

US Secretary of State John Kerry’s push to revive Middle East peace talks has taken a blow, with Israel announcing more settlement building.

It came ahead of Kerry’s arrival in the region for more key discussions.

Israel said it had approved the construction of 69 housing units in East Jerusalem along with building permits for 22 homes in two Palestinian-populated districts.

Peace activists such as Hagit Ofran from the NGO “Peace Now” have strongly criticised the move.

“If Netanyahu was really a peace-seeking prime minister he would have made sure that no construction in settlements would take place, because any construction in settlements is destroying the chances for peace. This is the welcome that the government of Israel is making for Kerry.”



Jobless Claims in U.S. Declined 9,000 Last Week to 346,000

By Lorraine Woellert - Jun 27, 2013
Fewer Americans filed claims for unemployment benefits last week, indicating employers are slowing the pace of firings as the economic outlook improves.

Jobless claims decreased by 9,000 to 346,000 in the week ended June 22 from a revised 355,000 the prior period, the Labor Department reported today in Washington. The median estimate in a Bloomberg survey of economists called for 345,000 claims.

Smaller reductions in headcounts indicate employers are confident enough that demand will be sustained as the housing market improves and consumers grow more optimistic. Bigger gains in sales may encourage companies to step up hiring and help reduce an unemployment rate the Federal Reserve says “remains elevated.”

“The broad trend still remains lower” for jobless claims, said Jacob Oubina, senior economist at RBC Capital Markets LLC in New York. “That’s going to continue to support net payroll gains.”



Gays Win While Blacks Lose Ground in Historic Rulings

By Greg Stohr - Jun 27, 2013
The U.S. Supreme Court ended its blockbuster civil-rights term pointing in opposite directions: cutting legal protections for racial minorities even as it bolstered them for gays.

Decisions requiring tougher court scrutiny of affirmative action and striking down much of the landmark 1965 Voting Rights Act were still fresh yesterday when the court cleared the way for gay marriage in California and invalidated a federal law that denied benefits to married same-sex couples.

“I think it was a victory for American democracy,” President Barack Obama said today in Senegal, where he was starting a three-nation tour of Africa.

Only 24 hours earlier, minority-rights advocates were denouncing the court’s conservative majority for gutting the Voting Rights Act, the law that opened the polls to millions of blacks across the South. The court voted 5-4 to nullify the requirement that all or parts of 15 states get federal clearance before changing their election rules or voting lines.

Obama called that ruling “a mistake” because suppression of minority voting still exists in some regions of the country. He said he wanted to work with Congress in a non-partisan way to address the defects cited by the top court.



Consumer Spending in U.S. Rebounds as Incomes Increase

Source: Bloomberg

By Shobhana Chandra - Jun 27, 2013
Consumer spending in the U.S. rebounded in May following the largest drop in more than three years, a sign the biggest part of the economy will underpin growth this quarter.

Household purchases, which account for about 70 percent of the economy, rose 0.3 percent after a 0.3 percent decline the prior month that was the biggest since September 2009, Commerce Department figures showed today in Washington. Incomes (PITLCHNG) advanced 0.5 percent, more than projected.

The report may help ease concern about the outlook for the economic expansion after data yesterday showed household purchases rose at a slower pace than previously estimated in the first quarter. Rising home prices and an improving job market, combined with faster income gains, may help to accelerate spending in the last six months of 2013.

“Consumer spending will continue to be the driver of the recovery,” said Tom Simons, an economist at Jefferies LLC in New York, who accurately predicted the gain in purchases. “The second half looks better. The labor market is continuing to improve. The housing rebound will help as well.”

Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-06-27/consumer-spending-in-u-s-rebounds-as-incomes-increase.html

Gold Prices Plunge Go Lowest Level In Almost 3 Years

The price of gold is plunging to the lowest level in almost three years, as traders anticipate lower inflation risk as the Federal Reserve dials back its economic stimulus program.

Gold for August delivery dropped $45.30, or 3.6 percent, to settle at $1,229.80 an ounce Wednesday, the lowest since August 2010. Silver also plunged, giving up 93.9 cents, or 4.8 percent, to $18.587 an ounce.

Gold tends to do well when interest rates are low, the dollar is weak and when traders fear inflation.

Those conditions were in place when the Fed's bond-buying program was in full swing, but news last week that the program could be curtailed later this year and ended outright next year caused gold prices to fall sharply.


Astronomers Find Three Potentially Habitable Planets Orbiting Nearby Star

By Irene Klotz

CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida (Reuters) – A neighbor star has at least six planets in orbit, including three circling at the right distance for water to exist, a condition believed to be necessary for life, scientists said on Tuesday.

Previously, the star known as Gliese 667C was found to be hosting three planets, one of which was located in its so-called “habitable zone” where temperatures could support liquid surface water. That planet and two newly found sibling worlds are bigger than Earth, but smaller than Neptune.

“This is the first time that three such planets have been spotted orbiting in this zone in the same system,” astronomer Paul Butler, with the Carnegie Institution in Washington, D.C., said in a statement.

Scientists say the discovery of three planets in a star’s habitable zone raises the odds of finding Earth-like worlds where conditions might have been suitable for life to evolve.

“Instead of looking at 10 stars to look for a single potentially habitable planet, we now know we can look at just one star and have a high chance of finding several of them,” astronomer Rory Barnes, with the University of Washington, said in a statement.


Anyone have the reservation numbers to these planets? I want off this motherfucking hell hole called 'earth'...
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