Mar 31, 2013

Headlines March 29, 2013 - Guantanamo, Guns, Illegal Arms Trade, Korea, EPA

Headlines March 29, 2013...

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Arms Treaty Heads for General Assembly Vote After New Objections

A proposed global arms treaty has stalled in talks at the United Nations. On Thursday, Iran, Syria and North Korea blocked adoption of the first international pact to regulate the arms trade, citing a failure to ban weapons sales to armed rebel groups. Despite the three countries’ objections, the treaty is expected to come up for a vote in the General Assembly next week. The U.N. talks marked the latest effort to craft a global standard for regulating the arms trade after the Obama administration blocked an agreement last summer.

Related News Reports:
*** Bribes are a depressingly constant feature of The Shadow World, whether it is the £40 billion Al Yamamah arms deal between BAE and Saudi Arabia, “arguably the most corrupt transaction in trading history”, or the illegal payments made by arms dealers like Ukrainian-Israeli Leonid Minin, who supplied Liberia with weapons worth millions of dollars in return for diamond and timber concessions. The cast of arms dealers like Minin is unsavoury but thoroughly riveting. They range from the superficially glamorous (Adnan Khashoggi) to the downright callous (Yoshio Kodama, “The Monster”, a Japanese war criminal) and the opportunistic (Viktor Bout, the “Merchant of Death”).

The United States and Britain occupy centre stage in this exposé, joined by the kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the author’s native South Africa, Sierra Leone, Iraq and Afghanistan. BAE Systems is the arch-villain of the piece, although the American giant Lockheed Martin, together with those US companies like KBR, Halliburton and Blackwater that work closely with the arms industry, run it close.

Feinstein is tough on Washington’s notorious “revolving door” of people and money between the public and private sector. He notes that, within a year of taking office, President George W Bush had given more than 30 arms industry executives and lobbyists senior positions in his administration. ***

North Korea Orders Rocket Unit on Standby as U.S. Denies Provocation

Tensions are continuing to mount between the United States and North Korea. The North Korean regime says it has ordered its rocket units on standby for an attack on regional U.S. military bases after the United States flew nuclear-capable stealth bombers over South Korea. It was the latest threat by North Korea in the standoff over U.S.-South Korean military drills and U.S.-backed Security Council sanctions in response to North Korea’s recent nuclear test. On Thursday, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel rejected assertions the South Korea flights are a provocation.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel: "We have security issues here that we have to protect, and commitments and our security interests. So, no, I don’t think we’re doing anything extraordinary or provocative or out of the — out of the orbit of what nations do to protect their own interests and assure, as the general said, especially not only to our South Korean ally, but to our other allies in that region, that we must make clear that these provocations by the North are taken by us very seriously and we’ll respond to that."

Metaphor for Korea style politics:

Newtown Shooter Had Massive Arsenal at Home

Police in Connecticut have unsealed key findings of their investigation into the shooting massacre at Newtown’s Sandy Hook Elementary School. The gunman, Adam Lanza, had a massive arsenal of weapons at home, including swords, knives and guns. Other findings at Lanza’s home included a newspaper clipping of another school shooting, several books on autism, a report card from when he attended Sandy Hook, and a certificate from the National Rifle Association bearing Lanza’s name. Lanza used 30-round magazines to fire 154 times at Sandy Hook, killing 26 people in less than five minutes. In a statement, Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy said the fact Lanza opted for the high-capacity magazines instead of the smaller ones he had at home underscores the need for an assault weapons ban.

RELATED BLOG POST:  Gun Debate Nonsense Revisited 1 - The Piers Morgan Debacle 

Guantánamo Attorneys Say Guards Cracking Down on Hunger Strikers; Red Cross Visit Begins

Defense attorneys for hunger-striking prisoners at Guantánamo Bay are accusing military officials of imposing harsh conditions in a bid to halt their protest. An emergency motion filed in federal court says guards are denying prisoners water and keeping camp temperatures at "extremely frigid" levels to increase their discomfort. The prisoners have refused food for nearly two months over intrusive searches and their continued detention without charge. At least three prisoners were hospitalized for dehydration earlier this week. The allegations come as the International Committee of the Red Cross has begun a fact-finding mission at Guantánamo to evaluate conditions for the hunger-striking prisoners.

Stephen Colbert on GuantanamoGitmo detainees craft a dangerous new weapon behind bars that may shatter our aesthetic paradigm...

EPA Set to Unveil New Car, Gasoline Standards

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is set to unveil new federal standards today for cleaner gasoline and vehicles. The rules will reduce sulfur in gasoline by two-thirds and impose pollution limits on all cars by 2017. The Obama administration says the standards will be equal to taking 33 million cars off the roads. They have been held up for well over a year amidst political opposition led by oil industry lobbyists. At least 16 congressional Democrats have signed on to a Republican demand for the rules to be delayed.

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