Cicero Yearly Archives

Foreign News

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Ireland to Accept Same Sex Marriage


150521202001-orig-ireland-same-sex-marriage-referendum-00000302-large-169 During a historic vote taking place it seems that the Republic of Ireland will now legalise Same Sex Marriage, with leaders from both sides of the campaign stating that early polls indicate a swing to the Yes campaign to enshrine same sex marriages into it’s constitution, in the world’s first national vote on the issue,

Politicians, activists and the Irish voters are now questioning not if it the vote will be for acceptance but by how large the vote actually was for a Yes to Equality vote..

Senior figures from the “no” campaign, who sought to prevent Ireland’s constitution from being amended to permit same-sex marriages, say the only question is how large the “yes” side’s margin of victory will be from Friday’s vote.safe_image.php

“We’re the first country in the world to enshrine marriage equality in our constitution and do so by popular mandate. That makes us a beacon, a light to the rest of the world of liberty and equality. So it’s a very proud day to be Irish,” a  Cabinet minister who himself came out as gay man when The Irish Government led efforts to amend Ireland’s conservative Catholic constitution.

“There is going to be a very substantial majority for a yes vote. I’m not at all surprised by that to be honest with you,” Ronan Mullen, and Irish Senator, who rejected a change to same sex marriage entering the constitution..

.Analysts are even seeing that  “yes” majorities of voting are being reported in conservative rural districts,  suggesting  only question was how large the “yes” majority will be when the voting ends once the 4.6 million votes are counted in Ireland, which of course in the republic is predominantly Catholic.

According to sources at a Dublin ballot centre, said the Irish capital looks to have voted around 70 percent in favour of gay marriage, while most districts outside the capital also were reporting strong “yes” leads without any district reporting a “no” majority. Official results come later Saturdayireland-same-sex-marriage-referendum The “YES” campaigning has been mobilising it’s support through a creative, compelling campaign on social media sites to get young voters, tens of thousands of whom voted for the first time Friday. They also said a “no” victory was always unlikely given that all political parties and politicians are in favour of equality on same sex marriage  just five years after it’s approved civil partnerships for gay couples.

Fianna Fail leader Michael Martin, whose party though traditionally Catholic in it’s membership and views campaigned for legalising gay marriage, said it “looks like an emphatic win for the yes side.” Voters in his native Cork were being recorded by observers as more than 60 percent yes.

Germany angered at NSA and GCHQ Intrusions


An intelligence-sharing dispute between Britain and Germany, which was sparked by revelations about Anglo-American espionage against Berlin, is turning into a “burgeoning crisis”, according to German media reports. Relations between Germany and the United Kingdom worsened in September, after the revelation of TREASURE MAP, a top-secret program led by the US National Security Agency, which allegedly allows American spies to map the entire network of German telecommunications providers. Reports suggest that TREASURE MAP enables the NSA and its British counterpart, the Government Communications Headquarters, to map the German Internet and reveals the addresses and locations of individual subscribers’ routers, as well as those of targeted computer and smart-phone users.

Late last year, the German parliament set up a body known informally as the NSA investigative commission, and tasked it with probing the allegations of American and British spying activities against the German state. In February, however, German newsmagazine Focus reported that British intelligence officials issued formal warnings aimed at their German counterparts, telling them that London would reconsider its intelligence cooperation with Berlin should the German parliament proceed with the probe into alleged British spying on German soil. According to Focus, British officials were concerned that such an inquiry by the NSA investigative commission would unearth British intelligence activities and would debate them openly during parliamentary sessions.

source IntelliNews

Former MI6 chief calls for defence against Russia


Sawers One of Britain’s most senior officers in the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) told the BBC that Britain should be prepared to spend more on its defence budget to protect itself from the increasing threat of Russia’s aggressive position in support for the Pro-Russian rebel separatists in the Ukraine and it’s annexing of Crimea in the light of condemnation from authorities in Kiev; the  West, and even Russian citizens who are accusing Moscow of sending troops to support the Pro-Russian rebels in the Ukraine, although the Russian Government has always denied these reports.

NATO has also been concerned and criticised any possibility of Russia engaging it’s forces or funding the situation in Ukraine.

John Sawers, who left the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) in November, added that greater dialogue should take place with Russia over it’s current stance, he said that Britain should have to have the capability to deal with the hybrid warfare that Russia is currently demonstrating in Crimea and in Donbas region of Ukraine after Pro-Russian rebels have seized territory in eastern Ukraine;  he also stressed the need for dealing with a possible cyber-warfare arising out of the conflict.

Mr Sawers said “We’re going to have to spend more on our defence and our security because the threats are greater” ; he added that “Russia keeps reminding the West about it’s nuclear weapons, we shouldn’t kid ourselves that Russia is on a path to democracy because it isn’t.”

Last week as British forces had to scramble Typhoon fighter jets after reports of two Russian long-range Bear bombers were seen flying off the south coast of England, after a previous incident of Russian Jets seen flying in British airspace in recent  months.

The Defence Secretary,  Michael Fallon said that  President Putin could also pose a “real and present danger” to other eastern such as Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania and NATO was ready to repel any aggression may pose against these countries.

MPs for Hire – Dispatches Investigation


Two of Parliament’s most respected Members of Parliamen are tonight secretly filmed discussing how they would be prepared to use their contacts to benefit a private fictitious Chinese influential business a Channel 4 Dispatches and The Telegraph investigation reveals.

The two former government and cabinet statesmen of Westminster, Conservative MP Sir Malcolm Rifkind and the Labour MP Jack Straw, both feature in Politicians For Hire – Dispatches at 8pm.
During meetings with undercover reporters Sir Malcolm Rifkind described himself as ‘self-employed’ and claimed ‘nobody pays me a salary’.

In return for his services he discussed his usual fee of ‘somewhere in the region of £5,000 to £8,000’ for a half a day’s work.

Sir Malcolm also claimed he could write to a minister on behalf of our company without saying exactly who he was representing
Sir Malcolm added that he could see any foreign ambassador in London if he wanted, so could provide ‘access’ that is ‘useful’

Former Labour Home Secretary
Mr Straw invited the two reporters posing as lobbyists for a fictitious influential Chinese business concern looking for UK support and MPs to join their advisory committee and met at his Parliamentary office where he discussed fees of £5000 per day for having his name associated to a business.

He also explained that he normally charges a fee of this for consultancy work and how his lobbying as a senior politician is useful to a private company, he already works for.

Mr Straw says he wouldn’t take on the role while he remained an MP, but claimed he would be more helpful to our company if he were to become a Lord because of the different rules that apply.

The Dispatches programme follows the previous investigation, some years ago when Geoff Hoon was banned from Parliament for five years and former transport minister Stephen Byers banned for two years following political impropriety. The recent investigation reveals that even though there were inquiries and laws introduced five years on politicians are still prepared to sell their service and lobby government for a price and are short of public expectations?

Channel 4 Dispatches and The Telegraph program shown Monday 23rd February

Disguised MI5 Officer Gives Evidence in US Court


10216695 A  UK intelligence officer gave evidence in the trial of an alleged leader of an al-Qaeda cell, who is currently being tried in the United States for planning to bomb the New York subway system.

The alleged leader of the cell, Abid Naseer, who is 28 and from Pakistan, was a studying in Britain in April 2009 and was arrested by British police along with 12 others for planning a series of suicide bombings in the city of Manchester. He was extradited to the US in 2012 to face changes of organising a suicide attack against the New York public transportation system.

The US prosecutors claim Naseer had received paramilitary training in Pakistan before moving to the UK, where he was planning to carrying out terrorist attacks in the UK .

Last year, the US prosecution asked the judge to allow six British intelligence officers (from MI5), who had been monitoring Naseer’s activities before he was eventually arrested to provide vital evidence in the US court in secrecy without disclosing their identities due to the security officers still remaining active in counterterrorism investigations. The judge agreed, and the first of the six MI5 officers gave evidence this week through a video link from an undisclosed location in the Britain.

One of the MI5 officers who appeared concealed his identity by wearing a false goatee beard, thick spectacles and what reporters described as “a long black wig”. He was also wearing heavy make-up and was identified in court only as “serial number 1603”, according to British newspaper The Daily Telegraph.

The operative informed the court that he was part of a team of MI5 surveillance officers who closely followed Mr. Naseer for over a month while he was allegedly planning suicide operations in Britain and the US. The surveillance included following the suspect as he was scouting targets in Manchester and monitoring his travel on public transport one one occasion when the suspect was traveling by bus from Manchester to Liverpool. Mr Naseer is defending himself in the trial and had the chance to cross-examine the MI5 officer, said The Telegraph.

Putin claims US arming weapons to Ukraine


 DV1372655 Russian President is now claiming that the weapons to Kiev are already being supplied by the West.

The West is already supplying weaponry to Kiev, Russian President Vladimir Putin said when asked about Russia’s possible reaction to arms deliveries discussed by the West.

“According to our information, the arms are already being delivered,” Putin said at a press conference Tuesday after talks with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban.

The Russian President has been keen to stress that the reduction of activity in south-eastern Ukraine in particular, Donbas, where he said Kiev forces have been fighting against independence supporters since last spring. “Regarding the hostilities [in Donbas], we [Russia] generally mark a significant, and I want to stress that, reduction of military activity there,” Putin said.

The new online state run news paper Sputnik is already covering stories that implicate President Obama is considering considering arming Ukraine in case the latest ceasefire is breached, but says that  the US political analyst Stephen Lendman told Sputnik in an exclusive interview that the US has been supplying arms to Kiev from the very start of the military operation.

The Russian President added that the sooner the suspension of hostilities and withdrawal of artillery is implemented in Donbas, the sooner the Ukrainian conflict will be settled.

CIA Bought Chemical Weapons in Iraq


16NERVEAGENT1-articleLarge The New York Times yesterday reported that the CIA, working with American troops during the US occupation of Iraq, “repeatedly purchased nerve-agent rockets from a secretive Iraqi seller, part of a previously undisclosed effort to ensure that old chemical weapons remaining in Iraq did not fall into the hands of terrorists or militant groups.” In their report NY Times journalists C.J. Chivers and Eric Schmitt report, “The extraordinary arms purchase plan, known as Operation Avarice, began in 2005 and continued into 2006, and the American military deemed it a non-proliferation success. It led to the United States’ acquiring and destroying at least 400 Borak rockets, one of the internationally condemned chemical weapons that Saddam Hussein’s Baathist government manufactured in the 1980s but that were not accounted for by United Nations inspections mandated after the 1991 Persian Gulf war. The effort was run out of the C.I.A. station in Baghdad in collaboration with the Army’s 203rd Military Intelligence Battalion and teams of chemical-defence and explosive ordnance disposal troops, officials and veterans of the units said. Many rockets were in poor condition and some were empty or held a nonlethal liquid, the officials said. But others contained the nerve agent sarin, which analysis showed to be purer than the intelligence community had expected given the age of the stock”

Looking at the points raised in a reddit post lordderplythethird commented the following :

“It’s been long known there were chemical weapons still in Iraq after the US invaded in 2003, but people seem misinformed on what that means

  • Western Nations (Germany was the largest culprit, followed by the US, UK, France, etc) supplied Saddam with chemical and biological weapons, and the compounds required for the production of both, during the Iraq-Iran War. Germany practically built Saddam the nuclear reactor that Israel bombed in the 80s.

  • These same biological and chemical weapons were still around Iraq when the US invaded in 2003, just in highly degraded, non usable states

  • These are not the chemical and biological weapons Bush/Cheney/Powell/etc were referring to.

The Bush Administration was stating that Iraq had a current chemical and biological weapons program

He comments that the Bush Administration refused to acknowledge that the only weapons they uncovered, were ones given to Iraq by Western forces over 2 decades previously, because the administration who  authorized this was headed by George Bush  Snr, was then Vice President. “It’s still not admitted that the US gave Iraq chemical and biological weapons during the Iraq-Iran War (not sure if places like Germany have admitted to it though), so the W Bush Administration covered it up, and refused to acknowledge that WMD were in fact found in Iraq”

  • Because of this, US soldiers who were exposed to these weapons when they came across them, are developing severe medical conditions to which they’re not to claim happened during military service, because the Administration refused to admit those weapons were there

“So now we see documented proof that there were in fact WMD in Iraq, that a previous US administration gave them to Iraq, and US service members are getting sick because of those weapons, but the administration refused to acknowledge the actions of the previous administration”

This is perhaps why US service people are being denied access to help and compensation due to developing sickness to these weapons that did not originate in their entirety from Iraq  but rather the possible reason for the US and UK going to war on the threat of the chemical weapons threat was perhaps due to the embarrassment of previous US and European assistance in Iraq developing these weapons in the first place.

Below is the original document that was classified and now de-classified that is forwarded by Tony Blair’s on the ‘Iraqi Chemical Weapon Threat’ this document was the precursor to the Iraqi war

Cicero Lounge Files Area:

 http://cid-e853ab142560c964.skydrive.live.com/self.aspx/Documents/24_01_08_24sep_final.pdf

or

the BBC

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/shared/bsp/hi/pdfs/24_01_08_24sep_final.pdf

Churchill and the Saudis


Churchill After the sycophantic tributes paid by various world leaders to the passing of King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia , many people are angered (including this blog writer) that people such as David Cameron, the Queen and even President Obama have felt the need to offer “touchy feeling diplomacy” following the Monarch’s death.

The lowering of flags in the UK on Government Buildings; Westminster Abbey, and Buckingham Palace have not only angered people who are genuinely appalled at Saudi Arabia’s record on human rights abuse for a monarch who’s countries laws meet out sadistic and barbaric sentencing but point to double standards when on one hand our governments over the years have deplored it’s laws and on the other our praising a man in passing because we wish to maintain our relationship with an oil rich country.

When actually asked as to confirm who is responsible in the government for the decision to lower the flags as to honour the late Saudi King (a gesture normally only befitting the passing of British royalty or heads of government for the Commonwealth countries and only world leaders at the discretion of the UK Government) Whitehall appears to be confused with both the FCO and the Department for Media and Culture both denying their respective authority and concurring each other for permitting the honour.

Labour leader Ann Clywd was the latest MPs to voice her anger at the tributes paid to the late King Abdullah, stating that the country had one of the worst human rights records in the world and said “People in countries such as ours should use every opportunity to protest because the public are appalled by such barbarity” adding “Lots of people die but I dont think flying the flags at half mast for a country which has such a human rights record is acceptable.” Her comments following similar outrage from others,  such as Louise Mensch the former Corby Conservative MP,  who on Friday erupted on Twitter condemning the  ‘supine’ adoration of male leaders on Saudi Arabia’s treatment of women. Many wondered, as I did, what Tony Blair actually was referring to when he called the later King a ‘moderniser’ in light of the little he did in terms of the rights of women in Saudi Arabia.

Even the Council for Advancement for Arab and British Understanding are also baffled by the ‘dishonesty’ of the tributes paid; Chris Doyle it’s director saying that although Britain and Saudi Arabia need to maintain relations on a global stage that the tribute “..wont be taken seriously if we go over the top in paying respects” and highlighting the fact that British Muslims are being asked to accept British Values by our Government on the one hand and then watching our establishment blindly ignore and accept human rights abusewhere the Saudi’s flogs their own citizens – thus our diplomacy runs incompatible UK values Mr Doyle pointing to the sentence met of 1000 lashes said “what does that mean when there’s a completely non-critical reaction to the events in Saudi Arabia like the flogging of a blogger? This creates a sense of double standards”

Maybe the politicians in our country could learn from the Briton that was Winston Churchill, the audacious and insubmissive  politician whose death the UK will soon be celebrating in terms of his passing 50 years ago. When in 1945 he met the then founder of Saudi Arabia, King Ibn Said (the father of King  Abdullah) and was warned by both his own Government officials and interpreters and from Saudi Officials that the smoking and drinking alcohol in the presence of the Saudi King would not be tolerated he replied to his interpreter, in answer to the Saudi officials “If it was the religion of his Majesty to deprive himself of smoking and drinking alcohol, I must point out that my rule of life, prescribed as an absolute sacred rite, smoking cigars and also the drinking of alcohol before; after and even during meals, and in the intervals between them.”

It is thus a tribute to a man who never fell short of actually saying what was on his mind and rarely conceded to the force of others.  In 2002 Sir Winston Churchill was named as the greatest Briton that ever lived in a  vote of 100 Great Britons including other prominent luminaries such as Darwin, Shakespeare and Elizabeth I. The case for him is a powerful one, of course. He was first a government minister in 1908, and occupied most of the top jobs in politics during half a century. He finally retired in 1955, having served as prime minister for a total of nine years.

His greatest triumph of course was his leadership and rallying of the British people in World War Two that marked him out and his brave and tireless in his resolve to take on Nazi Germany, even when at times it seemed that Britain may have fallen to the Nazis in a war torn Europe. He remained constantly resilient and this probably inspired the US to enter the war after Britain France and it’s other allies were teetering on defeat.

Even as a Sandhurst  cadet, Churchill was defiant, his first speech and act of defiance was probably in 1894 when he was among a group of upper-class ‘hooligans’ who tore down a screen that was erected by the League for Social Purity, at the Empire in Leicester Square which was placed there to keep the West End’s prostitutes from their clients, many of whom were the gentry of the City by the London County Council. The vandals spokesperson  shouted “Ladies of the Empire, I stand for liberty” this was none other than a young Winston Churchill and in a letter to The Times and the Bishop of London bemoaned the conduct of the young Churchill that he should ever see any of the Dukes of Marlborough ‘hailed by a flourish of Strumpets’

The sad fact is that politicians that speak out and are of Churchill’s nature would never get elected, even Boris Jonson, almost a devotee of Churchill’s manner and British values seems implausible in our corporate world of diplomatic,  insincere and disingenuous politics

MOSSAD defies President in warning against Iranian Sanctions


 181220131054074135102_2 Mossad, the Israeli intelligence agency, has warned American Congress against imposing financial sanctions against Iran – this however runs contrary to the views expressed by Israel’s President Benjamin Netanyahu who is supporting a bill that calls for more sanctions imposed on Iran. Iran was treaty to signing the Joint plan of Action, known as the Geneva interim agreement in 2013 in Netanyahu-obamaSwitzerland. The pact which would ease the economic sanctions that had previously been passed on Iran in exchange for Iran’s suspension of it’s Nuclear program. However two republican senators, Robert Menendez and Mark Kirk opposed the agreement, calling instead for a new bill in US Congress that imposes greater sanctions should Iran not make the substantive changes in it’s nuclear programme to the P5+1 countries by 30th June.

Bloomberg news agency has reported that the Israeli security and intelligence service Mossad has discreetly approached US officials and politicians and cautioning them that the Menendez-Kirk bill could completely ruin the Geneva agreement that Iran has signed to. The Obama administration and leading republican have already  used this disagreement within the Israel government and it’s security forces to oppose greater sanctions and leading Republican Senators such as John McCain would like to see new legislation that doesn’t contain sanctions but would require that the Senate vote on any pact that is agreed upon in Geneva.

US President Barack Obama who opposed the bill, feared it could prompt Iran to accelerate its nuclear program, and has publicly said he would veto it. Meanwhile, his Secretary of State, John Kerry, quoted this week an Israeli intelligence official who allegedly told him that, if enacted, the Menendez-Kirk bill would “throw a grenade into the process”. Bloomberg says in it’s report that the the Israeli intelligence agency has warned US officials abroad, and also   contacted a US delegation visiting Israel. It said that senior US officials were told by Mossad  staff that any bill calling for more sanctions against Iran would collapse talks already inexistence.

Saudi King Abdullah Dies of Lung Infection


 king-abdullah

Following the death of Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah, his brother Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud has now been announced King of Saudi Arabia following a statement carried on the country’s state 120411-D-BW835-028television.

Saudi Arabia is the top oil exporter and a member of the oil rich OPEC countries, the late King had a personal wealth himself of £18 billion. Saudi Arabia as a country is extremely important historically to the world’s Muslims as it’s believed to be the birthplace of Islam. However although many have been praising King Abdullah for his ‘modernisation’ within his rule, it’s still quite apparent that his country’s human rights practices are still abhorrent to many in the western world with public floggings been met to anyone who has fallen fowl of it’s extremely harsh Islamic teaching.

Only recently was Raif Badawi, a liberal Islamist and blogger sentenced to 1000 lashes of a cane and it has also stoned and beaten and even sentenced to death homosexuals and women accused of adultery  or infidelity. Those who have praised him; including the former Prime Minister and Middle Eastern ‘Peace’ envoy, Tony Blair have pointed to more positive attitudes now adopted in Saudi Arabia  such as the introduction of education for women in the country. However Saudi Arabia still is one of the countries that human rights organisations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch regularly monitor, and it often calls on members to take urgent action on.

Following his inauguration the new King Salman has named his half-brother Muqrin as his crown prince and heir. Today the following announcement surrounding King Abdullah was made,  “His Highness Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and all members of the family and the nation mourn the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz, who passed away at exactly 1 a.m. this morning.”

King Abdullah who was 90 years old and was suffering from illness for quite recently has ruled Saudi Arabia as King for the past 8 years (since 2006), but had run the country for 10 years prior to this as a de facto ruler after it’s previous King Fahd had become incapacitated following a stroke.

 

Countries throughout the world will be closely watching the new King’s progress amidst the turmoil across the Middle East, and also on the country’s direction in terms of it’s human rights of it’s citizens. King Salman is a self-appointed champion of Sunni Islam and the US hopes that the country will remain a close ally in the face of the ISIS threat that has engulfed other middle eastern countries such as Syria and Iraq. Saudi Arabia’s was a strong influence in the overthrow of President Mubarak’s Egyptian government in 2012 when they intervened militarily  in support for it’s current government, they also have  supported Syrian rebels against President Bashar al-Assad.

The new King, who is 79, was crown prince and the Saudi Arabian Defence Minister since 2012. He was governor of Riyadh province for five decades before that.

Saudi Arabia, holds more than a fifth of the world’s crude oil and is influential to the world’s 1.6 billion Muslim population, as the King is regarded as the “Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques” in Mecca and Medina.

Windows 10 and Hololens!


 windows-10-logo-100465106-large

This week Microsoft unveiled it’s new plans to package a holographic headset to accompany it’s new operating system soon to be released, Windows 10.

The “Hololens” as it’s known, will be shipped with the new operating along with it’s voice activated software “Cortana” which is already available on it’s phones. The holograph headset, will allow users to wirelessly view holograms and both have a due date when they will be available it’s expected later in

the autumn period this year. Screen-Shot-2015-01-21-at-3.03.41-PM-780x432

 

This may also herald a new form of playing games, because it’s hoped that software that’s running on this operating system may also make use of this new form of virtual reality.  holographic

(Image : Mashable.com)

It’s also expected that Windows 10 will be a free upgrade for Windows 7 and 8/8.1 users during it’s first year. Those who don’t upgrade or are not Windows 7 Vista users and upward operating system users will have to buy the product in full.  Currently it’s not known how much this will be as there is confusion on pricing but it’s expected that Microsoft will charge a one off licence fee and not move to having to subscribe to it. microsoft-satya-nadella

Microsofts new CEO, Satya Nadella said of his hopes for Windows in the future “We want to move from people needing Windows, to choosing Windows, to loving Windows, that is our goal.”

 

Read more: http://uk.businessinsider.com/microsoft-ceo-satya-nadella-on-windows-10-2015-1#ixzz3PZf4iwCD

Read more: http://www.itpro.co.uk/operating-systems/23119/windows-10-release-date-specs-and-pricing-announced#ixzz3PZdoHfHS

The Chilcott Delay!


Chilcot InquiryToday in the House of Commons; MPs reacted angrily to news that the inquiry  led by Sir John Chilcott into the 2003 Iraq War is not expected to reach it’s full report until after the general election

The inquiry said it did not see any “realistic prospect” of it’s publication of the report before elections are due to be held on the 7th May 2015 and the inquiry will probably face being questioned about it’s delay by a committee of MPs, while the chair of the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee, Sir Richard Ottaway asked Sir John Chilcott to explain why the publication of the report has been delayed.

The inquiry was initially set up in 2009, under Gordon Brown to examine not only Britain’s involvement and it’s initial decision to go to war but also any cases of misconduct of British troops amidst claims of torture by both US and British allied forces against Iraqis forces and civilian. The report was expected to reach it’s conclusion within about three years and held it’s last hearing in 2011, following an unprecedented call for Tony Blair to give evidence to the inquiry in 2010. tony-blair-chilcot-inquiry

There was even speculation by many political observers and even MPs that delays of the reports findings may have occurred due to involvement or intervention from the former Prime Minister Tony Blair or those close to him pointing to a cover-up of the findings of the report following the invasion of Iraq by British and American forces after Tony Blair’s claim that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and after his decision to ignore, many people believe unlawfully, the United Nations Resolution 1441 in November 2002 that offered Iraq under Saddam Hussein one last final opportunity to comply with  disarmament obligations.

Leaders within coalition British Government have expressed concern over the delays with Nick Clegg saying that the delay was “incomprehensible” and former Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith saying the delay was “disappointing”. Sir John Chilcott had written to the David Cameron informing him that “substantial progress” had been made but that those criticised by the report needed an opportunity to respond to the criticism so far provided in the report. Mr Cameron in reply to Sir John has said he would have like to have seen the publication already and has criticised the former Labour Government for it’s delay in being published.

Cicero Lounge has a link to the Aitken Report (National Archives – MOD)  which documented and examined allegations of the British Army’s conduct against the allegations of abuse against Iraqi soldiers and civilians loyal to Saddam Hussein

See also the War Report for information on other reports issued following the Iraq and Afghan wars

Organisations added to Terrorism Act Amendment


MPs will debate a motion to approve the draft Terrorism Act 2000 (Proscribed Organisations) (Amendment) Order 2015 in the House of Commons on Wednesday 21 January 2015.

Proceedings on the draft Terrorism Act 2000 (Proscribed Organisations) (Amendment) Order 2015 will follow the conclusion of today’s Opposition Day debate on the NHS.

The draft Terrorism Act 2000 (Proscribed Organisations) (Amendment) Order 2015 was laid on 20 January 2015 under the affirmative procedure. The instrument must be approved by the House of Commons and House of Lords before it can come into force.

Once approved the instrument will add ‘Jund Al-Aqsa (Soldiers of Al-Aqsa) and Jund al Khalifa–Algeria (Soldiers of the Caliphate in Algeria)’ to the list of proscribed organisations in the Terrorism Act 2000.

Raif Badawi Update


News5_20130802002341864.jpg Despite an international outcry and calls by Amnesty International for the Saudi Arabian authorities to quash the severe sentence and punishment of 1000 lashes for a charge of blasphemy, Saudi Arabian rights activist Raif Badawi was publicly flogged on Friday it is reported. This has been confirmed by Amnesty international from an eye-witness in Jeddah and from Mr Badawi’s wife.

Mr Badawi is a Saudi Arabian writer and activist and was the creator of the website “Free Saudi Liberals”

This is the first of 20 such public floggings that Mr Badawi will face after his conviction for insulting Islam through a forum/blog that his wife actually said he set up to merely examine and provide people the opportunity to discuss their Islamic faith. The forum was taken down by the Saudi authorities and Mr Badawi handed a sentence of 1000 lashes in 2014.

It is reported by an eye-witness that Mr Badawi raised his head towards the sky, closing his eyes and arched his back in preparation for his flogging and remained silent after it but it was obvious it was said through his face and his body that he was in pain. Mr Raif Badawi was “beaten by a officer on his back and legs, who counted the lashes until they reached 50” the witness states.

This flogging it is worth noting took plays only days after the Saudi Arabian government and authority announced their condemnation of the actions of the  terrorists who last week killed staff at the offices of Charlie Hebdo in Paris.

 

It is also worth mentioning that Amnesty International gravely concerned for Mr Badawi’s lawyer Waleed Abu al-Khair a well known human rights lawyer in Saudi Arabia following his Mr Badawi’s arrest anWaleed_Abu_Alkhaird conviction in 2012-4. Amnesty International is running a separate campaign for Waleed Abu al-Khair, who was sentenced to 15 years in prison last July. It is unfortunately expected that he could also face a similar sentence to Mr Badawi handed down as well as his prison term that he currently serving.

Cicero Lounge has today sent a letter to the Saudi Authorities immediately calling for his sentence to be either commuted immediately or nullified. Anyone wishing to contact the Saudi embassy and respectfully call for action to the following: Prime Minister Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, also Deputy Prime Minister Ministry of Defense HRH Crown Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud and His Excellency Adel A. Al-Jubeir was appointed by the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz

(Email Saudi Arabian Embassy in the UK on ukemb@mofa.gov.sa or cms@saudiembassy.net – Saudi Embassy in US)

America’s resurgence is real says President


barack-obama-president-wallpaperPresident Obama reflected on the growth of America in 2014 stating that the increase in 11 million more jobs, affordability of better healthcare, the lowering of oil and gas in light of increased oil/gas production he said of his hopes for an increasing economy:

‘The steps that we took early on to rescue our economy and rebuild it on a new foundation helped make 2014 the strongest year for job growth since the 1990s. All told, over a 57-month streak, our businesses have created nearly 11 million new jobs. Almost all the job growth that we’ve seen have been in full-time positions. Much of the recent pickup in job growth has been in higher-paying industries. And in a hopeful sign for middle-class families, wages are on the rise again.’

Speaking on manufacturing and the increased oil and gas production rate the President said :

‘American manufacturing have helped fuel its best stretch of job growth also since the 1990s. America is now the number-one producer of oil, the number-one producer of natural gas. We’re saving drivers about 70 cents a gallon at the pump over last Christmas. And effectively today, our rescue of the auto industry is officially over. We’ve now repaid taxpayers every dime and more of what my administration committed, and the American auto industry is on track for its strongest year since 2005.’

President Obama responds to North Korean Sony Cyber-attack


The Interview After the FBI tying North Korea to a alleged cyber-attack on Sony Pictures, and its involvement for the film “The Interview” and following also it’s decision to withdraw its release this Christmas following continued further threats, President Barack Obama has vowed a US response but he also added that Sony had “made a mistake” in refusing to release a controversial satire depicting the assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

On Friday US authorities linked North Korea to the hack, which saw sensitive studio information publicly released.

The film centres around two journalists who’s intention is to kill the North Korean leader. Many cinemas made the decision not to show the film, following the cyber-attacks on Sony and some people are calling for it to be made released and made available on the internet. Sony withdrew the film following  threats.

“We will respond,” Mr Obama said on Friday to reporters declining to be any more specific, “We will respond proportionately and in a space, time and manner that we choose…” adding “We cannot have a society in which some dictator someplace can start imposing censorship in the United States.”

The US leader said it could have significant economic and social impacts  if both public and private cyber-systems were under attack and therefore important to protect these systems. On the question of Sony’s potential self-censorship he said  “Americans cannot change their patterns of behaviour due to the possibility of a terrorist attack,” he said. “That’s not who we are, that’s not what America is about.”

 

In the UK,  Phillip Hammond the foreign secretary said he was “deeply concerned at the findings of the US investigation, which seems to provide further evidence of North Korea’s blatant disregard for international norms and obligations”.

 

The BBC website asks ‘ What is the FBI evidence?

US stalls CIA Covert Action in Iran report disclosure


The U.S. Department of State has blocked the publication of a long-awaited documentary history of U.S. covert action in Iran in the 1950s out of concern that its release could adversely affect ongoing negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program.

The controversial Iran history volume, part of the official Foreign Relations of the United States (FRUS) series, had been slated for release last summer. (“History of 1953 CIA Covert Action in Iran to be Published,” Secrecy News, April 16, 2014).

But senior State Department officials “decided to delay publication because of ongoing negotiations with Iran,” according to the minutes of a September 8, 2014 meeting of the Advisory Committee on Historical Diplomatic Documentation that were posted on the Department of State website this week.

Dr. Stephen P. Randolph, the Historian of the State Department, confirmed yesterday that the status of the Iran volume “remains as it was in September” and that no new publication date has been set. The subject was also discussed at an Advisory Committee meeting this week.

The suppression of this history has been a source of frustration for decades, at least since the Department published a notorious 1989 volume on U.S. policy towards Iran that made no mention of CIA covert action.

But the latest move is also an indirect affirmation of the enduring significance of the withheld records, which date back even further than the U.S. rupture with Cuba that is now on the mend.

Liberty calls for better managed return orders


Today a cross-party amendment opposing the Government’s proposed temporary exclusion orders (TEO) has been tabled. TEOs would effectively exile British citizens by revoking their passports when outside of the UK  – and risk exposing them to torture or delivering them into the hands of terror factions.
The amendment, drafted by Liberty, would replace the TEO with a Notification & Managed Return Order.  The NMRO would allow the Home Secretary to require airlines and other carriers to notify her of the return plans of those she suspected of terrorism abroad.  The authorities could then use their existing powers against a suspect when they return to the UK.  But, crucially, the Home Secretary would not have the power to revoke passports while they were outside of the country.

US GOVERNMENT DRAFTS NEW RULES ON “NO FLY” LIST


The “no fly” list procedures that are used to prevent individuals who may present a security hazard from flying on commercial aircraft are being revised to make them more transparent and easier to challenge, government attorneys said Friday. They asked a court to suspend a lawsuit disputing the constitutionality of the “no fly” procedures for two months until the revisions are complete.

“The Government… is currently reviewing and revising the administrative redress procedures for denials of boarding,” Justice Department attorneys said in a November 14 memorandum in support of a motion for a stay of proceedings in the lawsuit Gulet Mohamed v. Eric Holder.

“The Government is revising current redress procedures to increase transparency of the process for certain persons denied boarding on commercial aircraft,” the memorandum said.

Documentary Nelson Mandela The Fight For Freedom


A tribute to one of the greatest men that the 20th Century witnessed who died almost a year ago.

For more information on his struggle against Apartheid and his unifying of South Africa visit http://www.nelsonmandela.org/

Boris – the Irresistible Rise

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