28-10-13

Magnitude 7.3 quake shakes Japan

Oct 25, 2013 at 2:31p ET  

7.3-magnitude quake rocks Japan

An earthquake of magnitude 7.3 struck early Saturday morning off Japan’s east coast, the U.S. Geological Survey said. Japan’s emergency agencies declared a tsunami warning for the region that includes the crippled Fukushima nuclear site. NHK reported that Tokyo Electric Power Co., the operator of the Fukushima plant, ordered workers near the coast to move to higher ground.

Storm warnings for Belgium

Belgium - Warnings for gales and storms

The map gives an overview of all the gale and storm warnings for Belgium. On the graphic you can see at which locations respectively in which areas of Belgium gale or storm has to be reckoned with.

We distinguish between weather watches and weather warnings. A storm watch for Belgium is issued if a gale / storm in Belgium is probable but there are uncertainties about duration, intensity and/or the course of it. Gale / storm warnings are released in three levels (orange, red, violet) that comply with the intensity of the expected storm gusts. The detailed and reliable forecasts of such gale or storm events are very important especially for the building industry, the agriculture, the forestry, insurances and event organisers of Belgium. Professional and experienced meteorologists of the Severe Weather Centre continually adjust the forecasts manually and make them cutting-edge 24 hours a day.

http://alarm.meteo-info.be/storm-en.html

Ships in a Storm, Ivan Aivazovsky

Let us not forget the Palestinians: Ni’lin village

October 27th, 2013 

Israeli soldiers blocking the entrances of Ni’lin village

Since last week the village of Ni’lin is being target daily by mid-night raids from the Israeli occupation forces. The soldiers have been shooting tear gas into people’s homes while they are sleeping. Only two people have been arrested but ten houses have been invaded by the soldiers.

The arrested are Naha Nafi, 21, and Tariq Kawaja, 24. Another three young men were sought after but could not be found.

The situation has escalated in the last two days. Israeli soldiers have started blocking the entrances of Ni’lin preventing people from entering or leaving the village. For the villagers who commute to Ramallah for work or studies this collective punishment has caused huge problems.

However, 11 pm on Saturday night a big number of Israeli jeeps invaded the village, seemingly just to cause disturbance. The soldiers began harassing villagers, firing their rifles without any apparent reason. As youths gathered to drive the soldiers out of the village they were directly fired upon with rubber coated steel bullets. One young man was hit in his leg and many bystanders suffered from tear gas asphyxiation. Also at this occurrence tear gas was fired into the homes of sleeping villagers.

At present the entrances to Ni’lin is still being blocked by the Israeli military. The villagers are awaiting their next move with anxiety.

http://www.nilin-village.org/2013/10/27/israeli-soldiers-blocking-the-entrances-of-nilin-village/

Photo: July 2008 - An Israeli soldier shot and killed a Palestinian child during a nonviolent protest against the Annexation Wall in Ni’lin village, near the central West Bank city of Ramallah.

27-10-13

No compensation for victims of chemical weapons

2013 Nobel Peace Prize

President Barroso expressed the European Commission’s sincere congratulations to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) for being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize 2013:
“The decision of the Nobel Peace Prize Committee is a powerful recognition of the important role of the OPCW in curbing the use of chemical weapons. The EU is determined to assist in the destruction of the stock of chemical weapons. About 100 years ago, during World War I,
Europe has experienced the suffering caused by the use of chemical weapons itself.
Syria now demonstrates that these abhorrent acts are still not eradicated from human behaviour. The OPCW faces an unprecedented challenge in its current effort in Syria, where its joint mission with the United Nations is being actively supported by the European Union. The international community carries a collective responsibility to end the use of chemical weapons once and for all. The OPCW plays a key role in this collective effort, which the European Union fully supports, politically and by being the biggest contributor to OPCW (…)”.

http://ec.europa.eu/commission_2010-2014/president/news/a...

US Government Refuses to Compensate Victims of Chemical Weapons in Vietnam

More than 30 years after the war in Vietnam, a battle is still being fought to help people suffering from the effects of Agent Orange. Many of the families living in the remote villages have little access to medical care and don’t even understand the medical term for the disability that their children have had since birth. They only know that the herbicide used by the US military during the Vietnam war called Agent orange caused this and the government gives monthly support of about $8 dollars per handicapped individual . Between 1961 and 1971, the U.S military sprayed nearly 20 million gallons of Agent Orange and other herbicides across Vietnam in an attempt to kill vegetation that hid the enemy. Much of it contained the toxic nerve gas called dioxin.

Dioxin causes various forms of cancers, reproductive illnesses, immune deficiencies, endocrine deficiencies, nervous system damage, and physical and developmental disabilities.

So while the US government is attempting to “police the world” in search of chemical weapons, it is important to remember the long history that they have of using these weapons themselves.

There are also many US veterans who suffer from agent orange poisoning, causing thousands of birth defects in America as well.  Just recently the veterans began to receive compensation for their suffering, however the millions in Vietnam who are effected will likely never see any kind of real help from the agencies responsible.

http://beforeitsnews.com/alternative/2013/09/us-governmen...

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/06/world/asia/agent-orange...

Chemical weapons: Nobel Peace prize winners and Vietnam victims

2013 Nobel Peace Prize

President Barroso expressed the European Commission’s sincere congratulations to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) for being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize 2013:
“The decision of the Nobel Peace Prize Committee is a powerful recognition of the important role of the OPCW in curbing the use of chemical weapons. The EU is determined to assist in the destruction of the stock of chemical weapons. About 100 years ago, during World War I,
Europe has experienced the suffering caused by the use of chemical weapons itself.
Syria now demonstrates that these abhorrent acts are still not eradicated from human behaviour. The OPCW faces an unprecedented challenge in its current effort in Syria, where its joint mission with the United Nations is being actively supported by the European Union. The international community carries a collective responsibility to end the use of chemical weapons once and for all. The OPCW plays a key role in this collective effort, which the European Union fully supports, politically and by being the biggest contributor to OPCW (…)”.

http://edition.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/europe/10/09/nobel.peace.prize/index.html

http://ec.europa.eu/commission_2010-2014/president/news/archives/2012/10/20121012_1_en.htm

http://www.usatoday.com/story/theoval/2013/10/11/obama-carney-nobel-peace-prize-organization-prohibition-of-chemical-weapons/2968519/

http://www.thetrumpet.com/article/10239.19.0.0/britain/americas-new-best-friend

===

A Battle Unending: The Vietnam War and Agent Orange

Nguyen Nguc Phuong is 33 years of age and a confident, articulate public speaker – comfortable on a podium in front of an audience. He is resourceful and self-motivated, as seen in his decision to leave school at 16 and relocate to Vietnam’s largest city, Ho Chi Minh City, to learn to be a mechanic and an electrician.
Nguyen later returned to his hometown of Danang, one of Vietnam’s touristy cities, and opened his own repair shop. However, after seeing the impact of Agent Orange – a defoliant sprayed by the U.S. military during the Vietnam War to destroy the crops and jungle upon which the Viet Cong relied for food and cover – he decided he wanted to volunteer his time to help the children born mentally or physically handicapped due to the herbicide’s tragic and grotesque effects.
“I wanted to become a teacher to do something for them,” he says, pointing out to over 40 children and teenagers at the Danang Peace Village – a center run by the Danang Association for Victims of Agent Orange/Dioxin to care for children and teenagers affected by Agent Orange.
But Nguyen’s story is not typical of a thirty-something bored with a day-job and seeking a socially-responsible career break.
Nguyen Nguc Phuong’s father fought in central and southern Vietnam for 10 years up to the end of the Vietnam War in 1975, and sometime, somewhere along the way, came in contact with some of the 76 million liters of Agent Orange that was sprayed on the Vietnamese countryside up.
As a result, Nguyen is only 95 centimeters (a little over 3 feet) tall and weighs in at a meager 20 kilograms (approximately 44 pounds). “My sister is the same size like me” he says. “When I was born I weighed only 800 grams and was less than 20cm long.”

http://www.dioxinvietnam.blogspot.be/

http://www.featureshoot.com/2013/08/heartbreaking-portraits-of-third-generation-agent-orange-victims/

Chemical weapons: Nobel Peace Prize for 2013

The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided that the Nobel Peace Prize for 2013 is to be awarded to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) for its extensive efforts to eliminate chemical weapons.

During World War One, chemical weapons were used to a considerable degree. The Geneva Convention of 1925 prohibited the use, but not the production or storage, of   chemical weapons. During World War Two, chemical means were employed in Hitler’s mass exterminations. Chemical weapons have subsequently been put to use on numerous occasions by both states and terrorists. In 1992-93 a convention was drawn up prohibiting also the production and storage of such weapons. It came into force in 1997. Since then the OPCW has, through inspections, destruction and by other means, sought the implementation of the convention. 189 states have acceded to the convention to date.

===

Photo: A Vietnam-victim of Amercan chemical warfare. The U.S. chemical weapons program began during World War I. Chemical weapons production directed principally against people ended in 1969. For nine years between 1962 and 1971 approximately 20 million gallons of defoliants and herbicides were sprayed over Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia by the US military resulting in an estimated 400,000 people killed or maimed and 500,000 children born with birth defects as a result of what were called 'rainbow herbicides' in Operation Ranch Hand. US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld helped Saddam Hussein build up his arsenal of deadly chemical and biological weapons.

For years Middle Eastern countries have accused the US of double-talk over Iraq. They are bitterly critical that the American government helped arm Saddam during the 1980s in a war against Iran, which at that time Washington regarded as its biggest enemy in the region.

United States Secretary of State John Kerry was one of the senators who fought for the right of US Veterans, exposed to Agent Orange, to achieve proper compensation. However, at the same time, Kerry is part of the US Establishment which refuses to compensate the Vietnamese for the same chemical poisoning by America’s Agent Orange.

If the Obama administration wants an example of the difficulties involved in destroying chemical weapons, it might reflect upon its own struggles to get rid of cold-war era chemical arsenals stockpiled in tightly controlled storage facilities in Kentuchy and Colorado.

The United States promised, but failed, to destroy these stocks by 2012 at the very latest. The most recent forecast from the US is that the process of "neutralising" the chemicals in its Colorado weapons dump will be finished by 2018; the date for Kentucky is 2023. That will be 11 years after the US promised to destroy its chemical weapons stockpiles, and eight years after Russia – the other major possessor of declared chemical weapons – says it will have finished destroying its arsenal.

About 2,611 tons of mustard gas remains stockpiled in Pueblo, Colorado. The second stockpile, in the Bluegrass region of Kentucky, is smaller – 524 tons – but more complicated to decommission, because it consists of a broader range of lethal gases and nerve agents, many of which are contained within weaponry.

http://www.agentorangespeaker.com/
http://www.vn-agentorange.org/thecall.html

An example of hypocrisy: 'The Nobel Committee stated that the watchdog, part of the United Nations, did not win for its current campaign in Syria, but rather for its extensive efforts to outlaw chemical weapons'...
http://www.fastcompany.com/3019862/fast-feed/2013-nobel-peace-prize-carried-off-by-organization-for-the-prohibition-of-chemical

Gamal Abdel Nasser's call for pan-Arab unity

Gamal Abdel Nasser Hussein (Arabic: جمال عبد الناصر حسين‎, IPA: [ɡæˈmæːl ʕæbdenˈnɑːsˤeɾ ħeˈseːn]; 15 January 1918 – 28 September 1970) was the second President of Egypt, serving from 1956 until his death. He planned the 1952 overthrow of the monarchy, and was deputy prime minister in the new government. In 1953, Nasser introduced far-reaching land reforms. Following a 1954 Muslim Brotherhood-led attempt on his life, he ordered a crackdown on the organization, put President Muhammad Naguib under house arrest, and assumed executive office. A June 1956 public referendum approved both the new constitution and Nasser's nomination for presidency.

Nasser's neutralist policies during the Cold War led to tense relations with Western powers, which withdrew funding for the planned Aswan Dam. Nasser's retaliatory move to nationalize the Suez Canal Company in 1956 was acclaimed within Egypt and the Arab world. Consequently, Britain, France, and Israel occupied the Sinai Peninsula, but withdrew amid international pressure, boosting Nasser's political standing significantly. From then on, Nasser's popularity in the region grew substantially and calls for pan-Arab unity under his leadership increased, culminating with the formation of the United Arab Republic with Syria (1958–1961).

In 1962, Nasser began a series of major socialist measures and modernization reforms in Egypt. Despite setbacks to his pan-Arabist cause, by 1963 Nasser's supporters gained power in several Arab countries. He also became embroiled in the North Yemen Civil War. Nasser introduced a new constitution in 1964, the same year he became president of the international Non-Aligned Movement. He began his second presidential term in March 1965 after all his political opponents were legally forbidden from running. Following Egypt's concessions to Israel in the 1967 Six-Day War, Nasser resigned only to retake office after popular demonstrations called for his reinstatement. Between the 1967 defeat and 1968, Nasser appointed himself prime minister, launched a war to regain lost territory, began a process of depoliticizing the military, and issued a set of political liberalization reforms.

After the conclusion of the 1970 Arab League summit, Nasser suffered a heart attack and died. His funeral in Cairo drew five million mourners and an outpouring of grief across the Arab world. 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gamal_Abdel_Nasser

Palestinian cause will remain Syria's top national concern

Oct 26, 2013

Damascus, (SANA)- Prime Minister Wael al-Halqi stressed that the Palestinian cause will remain Syria's top national concern and the compass determining the track and goal despite the repercussions of the unfair global war waged against the people and state of Syria.

"Syria, in spite of its wounds, will always be the first defender of the issues, aspirations and interests of the entire Arab nation," said al-Halqi during his meeting with Secretary of the Central Committee of Fatah Movement Abo Hazem and the accompanying delegation.

He highlighted the importance of activating the role of the Arab liberation movements and parties and pan-Arab trends in alerting the Arab public opinion to the seriousness and scale of what Syria is being subjected to.

He underscored that what Syria is facing aims mainly at undermining the entire Arab nation through destabilizing it and taking over its capabilities and making the Zionist entity the dominant force in the region.

The Premier pointed out that the role of the Arab movements and trends in this regard lies basically in spreading the culture of resistance and confronting the takfiri intellectual invasion by promoting the secular thinking that boosts unity and tolerance.

A review of the latest developments in the Arab and international arena and the mechanisms of facing the dangers targeting the existence of the Arab people was presented during the meeting.

For his part, Secretary Abo Hazem highlighted that what is going on in Syria is a big international conspiracy targeting not only Syria by all of the Arabs and the Palestinian cause in particular.

"Those who are defending Syria now are defending the Palestinian cause and the Arab existence," he said.

Abo Hazem added that Syria has been over decades the main pillar of the axis of resistance and steadfastness, stressing that Syria will come out of its crisis stronger and more firm.

Speaking to the reporters following the meeting, Abo Hazem noted that what Fatah delegation listened to during the meeting assures that the situation is moving towards a solution soon.

H. Said

http://213.178.225.235/eng/21/2013/10/26/509135.htm

26-10-13

World Health Organization: Syria

 

Oct 26, 2013

Syria is participating in WHO Regional Committee for Eastern Mediterranean meeting

Damascus, (SANA)- Syria will be taking part in the activities of the 60th session of the Regional Committee for the Eastern Mediterranean at the World Health Organization (WHO) due to be held on October 27 in Muscat, the Omani capital.

Health ministers of 22 countries and heads and representatives of a number of international organizations and funds will mainly discuss over 4 days the strategy of the final phase of Global Polio Eradication, the Tobacco Free Initiative and Traffic Safety Initiative, in addition to the progress achieved on the regional level in the field of achieving the Millennium Development Goals.

Minister of Health Saad al-Nayef, who will chair the Syrian delegation to Muscat, highlighted in a statement to SANA the importance of Committee's current session for Syria in terms of providing the opportunity to brief the participants on the reality of the health situation in the country and the efforts exerted by the government to preserve public health, particularly children, mothers and elderly health.

He added that the Syrian delegation will use the session to make a review of the huge pressures facing the health sector in Syria in light of the unfair economic embargo, the sanctions on the banking sector, the unprecedented misinformation campaigns and the continued targeting of the health institutions by the armed terrorist groups.

The Minister warned against the danger of return of epidemics and some diseases that is facing the region's countries, including Syria, due to the passage of human groups illegally, calling for unified efforts to address this issue.

H. Said

http://213.178.225.235/eng/36/2013/10/26/509113.htm

(The website of the Syrian News Agency Sana is regularly blocked by the western authorities)

Syria: Foreign Ministers of Russia and France

Lavrov, Fabius Discuss Situation in Syria

Oct 26, 2013 
TEHRAN (FNA)- Foreign Ministers of Russia and France Sergei Lavrov and Laurent Fabius discussed in a phone call the situation in Syria.
The talks dealt with a number of international issues of common concern, including the situation in Syria and bilateral cooperation, Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Saturday, the Syrian Arab News Agency reported.
The discussions come within the underway preparations for holding the international conference on Syria in Geneva for finding a solution to the crisis in the country.

Vladimir Putin: Letter to America

Photo from Vladimir Putin’s personal archive

September 12,  2013

Recent events surrounding Syria have prompted me to speak directly to the American people and their political leaders. It is important to do so at a time of insufficient communication between our societies.

Relations between us have passed through different stages. We stood against each other during the Cold War. But we were also allies once, and defeated the Nazis together. The universal international organisation - the United Nations - was then established to prevent such devastation from ever happening again.

The United Nations' founders understood that decisions affecting war and peace should happen only by consensus, and with America's consent the veto by Security Council permanent members was enshrined in the United Nations Charter. The profound wisdom of this has underpinned the stability of international relations for decades.

No one wants the United Nations to suffer the fate of the League of Nations, which collapsed because it lacked real leverage. This is possible if influential countries bypass the United Nations and take military action without Security Council authorisation.

The potential strike by the United States against Syria, despite strong opposition from many countries and major political and religious leaders, including the Pope, will result in more innocent victims and escalation, potentially spreading the conflict far beyond Syria's borders.

A strike would increase violence and unleash a new wave of terrorism. It could undermine multilateral efforts to resolve the Iranian nuclear problem and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and further destabilise the Middle East and North Africa. It could throw the entire system of international law and order out of balance.

Syria is not witnessing a battle for democracy, but an armed conflict between government and opposition in a multireligious country. There are few champions of democracy in Syria. But there are more than enough Qaeda fighters and extremists of all stripes battling the government.

The United States State Department has designated Al Nusra Front and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, fighting with the opposition, as terrorist organisations. This internal conflict, fuelled by foreign weapons supplied to the opposition, is one of the bloodiest in the world.

Mercenaries from Arab countries fighting there, and hundreds of militants from Western countries and even Russia, are an issue of our deep concern. Might they not return to our countries with experience acquired in Syria? After all, after fighting in Libya, extremists moved on to Mali. This threatens us all.

From the outset, Russia has advocated peaceful dialogue enabling Syrians to develop a compromise plan for their own future. We are not protecting the Syrian government, but international law. We need to use the United Nations Security Council and believe that preserving law and order in today's complex and turbulent world is one of the few ways to keep international relations from sliding into chaos.

The law is still the law, and we must follow it whether we like it or not. Under current international law, force is permitted only in self-defence or by the decision of the Security Council. Anything else is unacceptable under the United Nations Charter and would constitute an act of aggression.

No one doubts that poison gas was used in Syria. But there is every reason to believe it was used not by the Syrian army, but by opposition forces, to provoke intervention by their powerful foreign patrons, who would be siding with the fundamentalists. Reports that militants are preparing another attack - this time against Israel - cannot be ignored.

It is alarming that military intervention in internal conflicts in foreign countries has become commonplace for the United States. Is it in America's long-term interest? I doubt it. Millions around the world increasingly see America not as a model of democracy but as relying solely on brute force, cobbling coalitions together under the slogan "you're either with us or against us".

But force has proved ineffective and pointless. Afghanistan is reeling, and no one can say what will happen after international forces withdraw. Libya is divided into tribes and clans. In Iraq the civil war continues, with dozens killed each day. In the United States, many draw an analogy between Iraq and Syria, and ask why their government would want to repeat recent mistakes.

No matter how targeted the strikes or how sophisticated the weapons, civilian casualties are inevitable, including the elderly and children, whom the strikes are meant to protect.

The world reacts by asking: if you cannot count on international law, then you must find other ways to ensure your security. Thus a growing number of countries seek to acquire weapons of mass destruction. This is logical: if you have the bomb, no one will touch you. We are left with talk of the need to strengthen non-proliferation, when in reality this is being eroded.

We must stop using the language of force and return to the path of civilised diplomatic and political settlement.

A new opportunity to avoid military action has emerged in the past few days. The United States, Russia and all members of the international community must take advantage of the Syrian government's willingness to place its chemical arsenal under international control for subsequent destruction.

Judging by the statements of President Obama, the United States sees this as an alternative to military action.

I welcome the president's interest in continuing the dialogue with Russia on Syria. We must work together to keep this hope alive, as we agreed to at the Group of 8 meeting in Lough Erne in Northern Ireland in June, and steer the discussion back toward negotiations.

If we can avoid force against Syria, this will improve the atmosphere in international affairs and strengthen mutual trust. It will be our shared success and open the door to cooperation on other critical issues.

My working and personal relationship with President Obama is marked by growing trust. I appreciate this. I carefully studied his address to the nation on Tuesday. And I would rather disagree with a case he made on American exceptionalism, stating that the United States' policy is "what makes America different. It's what makes us exceptional".

It is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional, whatever the motivation. There are big countries and small countries, rich and poor, those with long democratic traditions and those still finding their way to democracy. Their policies differ, too. We are all different, but when we ask for the Lord's blessings, we must not forget that God created us equal.

http://news.sky.com/story/1140518/syria-crisis-vladimir-putins-letter-to-america

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Photo from Vladimir Putin’s personal archive:
http://eng.putin.kremlin.ru/
   http://eng.putin.kremlin.ru/bio

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article17855.htm

Vladimir Putin

Photo from Vladimir Putin’s personal archive

Putin is constantly criticized by the West.

But there is no reason to do that.

Putin was always looking for a peaceful solution in Syria while the western countries were arming the Syrian political opposition and the terrorists organizations. They just wanted a military intervention in Syria.

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October 3, 2013

Putin thanks Turkey for accepting political solution on Syria

Russian President Vladimir Putin has thanked Turkey, the United Kingdom and France for their agreement on the political solution in the Syrian crisis that Moscow offered. 

Putin said Oct. 2 that he was pleased with Turkey, France and the United Kingdom for agreeing to solve the crisis in a peaceful, political way. The Russian president thanked “the colleagues who were eyeing a military scenario but generally agreed with our opinion about the need to use all forces and means for settling the problem peacefully – France, the UK and Turkey, I hope.”

Putin added that not only Russia but the other countries had also made their contribution to the solution plan put forward at the moment. Meanwhile, U.S. President Barack Obama and Putin may discuss Syria on the sidelines of a regional summit in Bali next week, a top Kremlin official said Oct.3.

Although Obama is yet to confirm his attendance at the Oct. 7 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting because of a budget crisis back home, Putin’s foreign policy adviser said both Moscow and Washington were getting ready for talks.

“The two sides are currently working on organizing such a meeting, and we think the meeting will take place,” Russian news agencies quoted Yury Ushakov as saying.

“It was a [Russian] proposal that was immediately picked up by the American side.” Putin and Obama last personally discussed the crisis on the sidelines of a Sept. 5-6 economic summit in Saint Petersburg and Ushakov said it would be “logical” if the subject came up again in Bali.

http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/putin-thanks-turkey-for-accepting-political-solution-on-syria.aspx?pageID=238&nID=55633&NewsCatID=353

Photo from Vladimir Putin’s personal archive: http://eng.putin.kremlin.ru/