Angst over spying in Germany – Heuchler

The German government has reacted with ostentatious outrage at the most recent media reports on US surveillance measures. According to these reports, the US military’s NSA (National Security Agency) intelligence agency not only has under surveillance approximately 500 million telephone calls, SMSes, and emails, in Germany alone, it also has EU facilities in Washington, New York and Brussels, along with UN diplomatic missions of France, Italy and Greece under surveillance. “That is unacceptable,” declared Angela Merkel, through her spokesperson. Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich demanded an apology from the USA. The German President has also declared that the reports are “very disturbing.”[1] Yesterday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs summoned the US ambassador. The debate has escalated, since it became known that the NSA is not only spying on private individuals but also on official organs.


US nun’s killer placed under Brazil house arrest | News , International | THE DAILY STAR

A man sentenced to 27 years in prison for the 2005 murder of US nun Dorothy Stang has been placed under house arrest in Brazil after serving only eight years behind bars, a lawyer said Thursday.

Rayfran das Neves Sales “was released Tuesday and is already home. A judge determined that he had already served his sentence,” said Jose Batista Afonso, a lawyer for the Pastoral Land Commission (CPT) in the northen state of Para.

CPT has for years campaigned to advance social justice and the rights of small farmers and the landless in Brazil.

Stang, 73, was shot to death on February 12, 2005 in the town of Anapu, 700 kilometers (450 miles) from the Para state capital of Belem after meeting with landless peasants on an ecological project.

Local ranchers accused her at the time of inciting landless farmers to invade their lands.

Neves Sales confessed and was jailed two days after the murder.

His accomplice, Clodoaldo Batista, was sentenced to 17 years in jail while Amair Feijoli, who acted as a go-between with the killers, got an 18-year term.

Defense lawyer Raimundo Cavalcante explained to reporters that after serving one sixth of his sentence, Neves Sales first had his jail conditions eased before being put under house arrest Tuesday.

“There will be some restrictions, as behind back home at 10 p.m. and he has 60 days to find a job,” the lawyer said.

via US nun's killer placed under Brazil house arrest | News , International | THE DAILY STAR.

Opposition to US Bases in South America Continues | Fellowship of Reconciliation

On June 22, about a hundred activists held a nonviolent protest at the gate of the Fuerte Aguayo Chilean Naval Base, in the coastal town of Concón, 90 miles northwest of Santiago. They were demanding the closure of the base built by the US Southern Command inside Fuerte Aguayo which opened in April 2012. The action was a joint effort by several Chilean human rights and peace groups, including School of the Americas Watch and FOR’s sister organization Serpaj Chile.

The US Southern Command built a 30,000-square foot complex of eight buildings designed to simulate an urban environment and to train police and military forces from throughout Latin America on military operations on urban terrain. This happens at a time when the United States is increasingly promoting militarization of crowd control and humanitarian operations – at home and abroad – and has expanded considerably the list of threats armed forces in the hemisphere are called to address.

via Opposition to US Bases in South America Continues | Fellowship of Reconciliation.

Lebanon Is Not Egypt

Being in the middle – sort of – offers some protection against some dangers but makes positive change at a reasonable pace – nearly impossible and is maddening to those who see how good a different future could be…

A Separate State of Mind | A Blog by Elie Fares

The title is stating the obvious. Sadly, it’s not that apparent.

It was 2011. The Egyptians took it to the streets. They removed Mubarak. A sense of pride swept around the Middle East. The “Arab Spring” they called it. Freedom this way comes. Everyone wanted to be Egyptian. Everyone was proud of Egypt.

But none so more than Lebanese.

We felt more involved in what was happening in Egypt than whatever was happening back home. Fun fact: January 2011 was our own mini coup happened. Many Lebanese wished they could become Egyptian – patriotic opioids sure run across borders.

A few months later, as the events in Syria raged and the promise of an “Arab Spring” started quickly running down wintery lanes, Egypt disappointed as well. The Lebanese sentiment quickly turned to “Morsi” et au revoir. We had gotten over it.

It is now 2013. The Egyptians took it to…

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Death Valley Claims A Heat Title Again : Image of the Day

The heat wave that gripped the western United States this week may have set an all-time record in Death Valley National Park, California. The air temperature rose to 129.2 °Fahrenheit (54 °Celsius) at the Furnace Creek Visitor’s Center on June 30, 2013, possibly breaking the all-time record high June temperature for the United States (set in Volcano, California, on June 23, 1902). A sharp bend in the jet stream trapped a strong ridge of high pressure over the western U.S., leading to an extreme heat wave and record temperatures.

The top image above shows the heat emanating from Death Valley on June 30, 2013. The measurement is surface temperature—how hot the land feels to the touch—as measured by the Thermal Infrared Sensor on the Landsat 8 satellite. The accompanying natural color view from the Operational Land Imager on Landsat 8 shows that the cooler areas are either higher in elevation or covered with plants. In fact, plants cooled Furnace Creek, the site of the record-high air temperature observation. Mesquite Flat and other nearby valleys radiated more heat.

via Death Valley Claims A Heat Title Again : Image of the Day.

When you’re hot, you’re hot! Love Death Valley!

IRIN Africa | Analysis: Barclays to cut Somalia’s remittance “lifeline” | Somalia | Economy | Food Security

Profiteering, as always, is the motive. Bank unwilling to spend money to assure regulators it is on up and up!

As a global bank, we must comply with the rules and regulations in all the jurisdictions in which we operate. The risk of financial crime is an important regulatory concern, and we take our responsibilities in relation to this very seriously,” said Daniel Hunter, spokesperson for Barclays.

“It is recognized that some money service businesses don’t have the proper checks in place to spot criminal activity and could unwittingly be facilitating money laundering and terrorist financing.”

via IRIN Africa | Analysis: Barclays to cut Somalia’s remittance “lifeline” | Somalia | Economy | Food Security.