Saudi Linked to Bin Laden Fatwa as Gov’t Rests


MANHATTAN (CN) – The case against alleged al-Qaida propagandist Khalid al-Fawwaz drew to a close on Thursday with evidence linking the Saudi to Osama bin Laden’s infamous fatwa seeking the murder of U.S. citizens everywhere.

Issued in 1996, the declaration fell two years before the twin truck bombings of U.S. embassies in Nairobi, Kenya and Dar es-Salaam, Tanzania, killed 224 people, injured thousands and put al-Qaida on the radar of U.S. law enforcement.

Fawwaz, 54, is not accused of participating in those bombings, but prosecutors say that he helped lay al-Qaida’s ideological groundwork and trumpeted their bloody attacks.

The government’s final witness, FBI agent Thomas McCarney, took the stand on Thursday to introduce dozens of edits of the fatwa found in two of Fawwaz’s addresses in London into evidence.

One of the addresses was for the offices of London’s Advice and Reformation Committee (ARC), an organization that presented itself as a nonprofit for Saudi dissidents, but which prosecutors called an al-Qaida front.

When the trial kicked off last month, Assistant U.S. Attorney Nicholas Lewin told a New York jury that Fawwaz was “bin Laden’s man in London” who allegedly ranked 9th on a secret al-Qaida list of their operatives.

Fawwaz’s lawyers have contested the reliability of that document, which was retrieved from Afghanistan.

U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan reserved decision about whether to enter it into evidence.

Fawwaz acknowledges that he met bin Laden in Afghanistan as the mujihadeen – the plural form of mujahid, meaning one engaged in jihad – fought to repel the Soviet invasion of their country. He asserts that they worked together at ARC to oppose the Saudi government, but insists that he never signed onto bin Laden’s violent war against the West.

One of the documents McCarney authenticated shows the names of Fawwaz and bin Laden side-by-side below the signature line of an ARC letter.

“For security reasons” the signers wrote that they could not reveal the names of ARC members unknown to the “regime,” according to the letter. Continue reading “Saudi Linked to Bin Laden Fatwa as Gov’t Rests”

15 Syrian Children Die of UN Measles Vaccines

Thursday, 18 September 2014

The UN has halted a measles vaccination campaign in northern Syria after at least 15 children died after receiving shots, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and World Health Organization (WHO) confirmed in a joint statement.

“UNICEF and WHO have been shocked and saddened to learn of the deaths of at least 15 young children in Idlib, Syria,” the statement said. “The deaths of the children occurred in areas where a measles immunization campaign had been under way.”

The children were all under the age of two, Reuters reported, citing aid workers.

Around one hour after being given a second round of the measles vaccine in Idlib on Tuesday, the children demonstrated signs of “severe allergic shock,” said Abdullah Ajaj, a physician administering the vaccinations at a medical center in Jarjanaz, according to AP. The second round of vaccinations began in Idlib and Deir Ezzour on Monday.

Following the vaccine, some of the children’s bodies swelled and they suffocated to death. Continue reading “15 Syrian Children Die of UN Measles Vaccines”

US arms Syrian rebels with first heavy weapons, anti-tank BGM-71 TOW missiles – raising war stakes

English: Hellenic Army BGM-71 TOW antitank mis...
English: Hellenic Army BGM-71 TOW antitank missile sights (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

DEBKAfile Exclusive Report April 7, 2014, 8:56 AM (IDT)

BGM-71 TOW anti-tank missile

Two Syrian rebel militias judged moderate in Washington have in the last few days taken delivery and begun using – mostly in the Idlib region – the first advanced US weapon to be deployed in more than three years of civil war, debkafile’s military sources reveal. It is the heavy anti-tank, optically-tracked, wire-guided BGM-71 TOW, which is capable of piercing 50mm thickness of Syrian tank armor and Syrian fortifications at a range of 4 kilometers. Armed with this weapon now are Brig-Gen. Abdul-Hila al Bashir, the new commander of the rebel Free Syrian Army, which is headquartered at the Golan town of Quneitra, and Jamal Maarouf, head of the rebel Syrian Revolutionary Front fighting in the north. Continue reading “US arms Syrian rebels with first heavy weapons, anti-tank BGM-71 TOW missiles – raising war stakes”

Saudis threaten to blockade Qatar by air, land and sea


English: Map of the Arabic Peninsula, displayi...

DEBKAfile March 11, 2014, 10:39 PM (IST)


Saudi Arabia demands that neighboring Qatar cut its ties with Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, close its Al Jazeera global television channel and expel local branches of the US Brookings Institution and Rand Corporation think tans. If Qatar fails to comply with this demand, Saudi Arabia threatens to blockade the emirate by air, land and sea. The threat was issued before Riyadh withdrew its ambassador to Doha and branded as terrorist organizations the Brotherhood, Lebanon’s Hizballah, Syrian al Qaeda-linked Jabhat al Nusra and al Qaeda-linked Islamic State of Iraq (ISIS). Continue reading “Saudis threaten to blockade Qatar by air, land and sea”

Charles of Arabia: Prince stars in the Saudi dance of the swords

EEV: Guess human rights will not exactly be his forte ?
  • Prince Charles took part a ceremony celebrating culture in Saudi Arabia
  • Heir to the throne joined members of Saudi royal family in a sword dance
  • Prince wore a flowing outfit known as a ‘thobe’, traditionally worn by men from the Arab Gulf states
  • Charles is on a tour of the Middle East visiting Saudi Arabia and Qatar

By Rebecca English

PUBLISHED:          21:00 EST, 18 February 2014       | UPDATED:          21:00 EST, 18 February 2014

Despite the sword in his hand and the traditional robes, it wasn’t quite Lawrence of Arabia.

Still, Prince Charles did his best to enter into the spirit of things during a ceremony celebrating cultural life in Saudi Arabia last night.

The heir to the throne joined members of the Saudi royal family in an Ardah – sword dance – in a stadium in capital Riyadh.

Looking daggers: Charles, in flowing traditional robes, tries to get into the spirit of things

Looking daggers: Charles, in flowing traditional robes, tries to get into the spirit of things Continue reading “Charles of Arabia: Prince stars in the Saudi dance of the swords”

Former TSA agent: Your worst fears about us were true

– including pat downs for rude customers, code lingo for attractive women, and seizures of items.

– Many of the images we gawked at were of overweight people, their every fold and dimple on full awful display

– Piercings of every kind were visible. Women who’d had mastectomies were easy to discern—their chests showed up on our screens as dull, pixelated (sic) regions. Hernias appeared as bulging, blistery growths in the crotch area.”

– TSA provided agents with a list of largely Middle Eastern countries whose residents deserved extra scrutiny from TSA. He notes that the list was “purely political” as Pakistan and Saudi Arabia was not included on it, despite those countries’ proclivity for harboring terrorists.

English: TSA Passenger Screening
English: TSA Passenger Screening (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Continue reading “Former TSA agent: Your worst fears about us were true”

CIA and Saudis cooperate on Chinese missile purchase

CIA and Saudis cooperate on Chinese missile purchase

© Collage: Voice of Russia

Undoubtedly, the role of the Saudi Arabia and its influence on the Middle East has long been under the discussion. Now with Iran and the West trying to reach an agreement on the nuclear matter, the monarchy is trying to amend the situation to their favor, with the Washington’s support, according to recent reports.

It is a well-known fact that back in 2007 Saudi Arabia has bought ballistic missiles from China. This information became available through an intelligence source, which stated that this decision was approved by Washington only after CIA experts verified that those missiles were not made for carrying the nuclear warheads. Continue reading “CIA and Saudis cooperate on Chinese missile purchase”

Coming ‘oil glut’ may push global economy into deflation

OPEC spare capacity set to reach levels last seen in the depths of the financial crisis in 2009, analysts say

A worker of Gujarat State Petroleum Corporation checks oil flow of well PK-2 during its inauguration at Ingoli village, about 40 kilometers (25 miles) southwest of Ahmadabad, India

The dangers of dwindling oil supplies in the long-run have not gone away Photo: AP


8:52PM GMT 15 Jan 2014

One piece of the jigsaw puzzle is missing to complete the deflation landscape across the West: a slide in oil prices. This is becoming more likely each month.

Turmoil across the Middle East and parts of Africa has choked supply over the past two years, keeping Brent crude near $110 a barrel despite a broader commodity slump. Cotton and corn prices have halved, as has the UBS index of industrial metals. Such anomalies rarely last.

“We estimate that crude oil is now the mostly richly priced commodity in the world,” says Deutsche Bank in a fresh report. Continue reading “Coming ‘oil glut’ may push global economy into deflation”

The thrifty terrorists: Receipts reveal how al-Qaida records every expense down to 60 cents for cake and a $1.60 pot of mustard

  • The extremists left more than 100 receipts in a building occupied by al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb in Timbuktu earlier this year
  • They assiduously tracked their cash flow, recording purchases as small as a single light bulb
  • The often tiny amounts are carefully written out in pencil and colored pen on scraps of paper and Post-it notes

By Associated Press and Daily Mail Reporter

PUBLISHED:          15:05 EST, 29 December 2013       | UPDATED:          15:05 EST, 29 December 2013


Al-Qaida is obsessed with documenting the most minute expenses, collecting receipts for every purchase from a 60 cent piece of cake to a $1.60 pot of mustard.

In more than 100 receipts left in a building occupied by al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb in Timbuktu earlier this year, the extremists assiduously tracked their cash flow, recording purchases as small as a single light bulb.

The often tiny amounts are carefully written out in pencil and colored pen on scraps of paper and Post-it notes: The equivalent of $1.80 for a bar of soap; $8 for a packet of macaroni; $14 for a tube of super glue.

The accounting system on display in the  documents found by The Associated Press is a mirror image of what  researchers have discovered in other parts of the world where al-Qaida  operates, including Afghanistan, Somalia and Iraq.

Receipts: This receipt for groceries, which includes prices paid for tomatoes, onions, charcoal, meat and a lightbulb, was retrieved from a building occupied by al-Qaida's North African branch in Timbuktu, Mali 

Receipts: This receipt for groceries, which includes prices paid for tomatoes, onions, charcoal, meat and a lightbulb, was retrieved from a building occupied by al-Qaida’s North African branch in Timbuktu, Mali Continue reading “The thrifty terrorists: Receipts reveal how al-Qaida records every expense down to 60 cents for cake and a $1.60 pot of mustard”

2 Saudi men arrested for offering free hugs

November 24, 2013 09:24                                                                            

Still from YouTube video showing Bandr Swed during his 'Free Hugs' campaign / Saudi Free B.HStill from YouTube video showing Bandr Swed during his ‘Free Hugs’ campaign / Saudi Free B.H

Two Saudis have been detained in the country’s capital for offering free hugs to passers-by. The local police arrested them for ‘indulging in exotic practices’ and offending public order.

One of the campaigners announced on Twitter that he would offer  free hugs to the public on Tahlia Street, a popular shopping area  in Riyadh. The men advertised free hugs on a placard, Al-Hayat  newspaper reported.

Continue reading “2 Saudi men arrested for offering free hugs”

Iraqi group says fired shells at Saudi Arabia ” warning the kingdom to stop meddling in Iraqi affairs”

Six mortar bombs have landed near a border post in northern Saudi Arabia in an attack claimed by an Iranian-backed Iraqi Shia armed group, which said it was warning the kingdom to stop meddling in Iraqi affairs.

The mortar rounds hit desert on the far northwestern fringes of the kingdom’s oil-producing region on Wednesday, several hundred kilometres from the major fields operated by the world’s largest oil exporter and biggest Arab economy.

“The goal was to send a warning message to Saudis to tell them that their border stations and patrol are within our range of fire,” Wathiq al-Batat, commander of Iraq’s al-Mukhtar Army group, told the Reuters news agency on Thursday.

Continue reading “Iraqi group says fired shells at Saudi Arabia ” warning the kingdom to stop meddling in Iraqi affairs””

Saudi Arabia severs diplomatic ties with US over response to conflict in Syria


  • Saudi Arabia is  an important ally to the U.S. as it provides a secure source of oil
  • Saudi diplomats  now promise a ‘major shift’ in relations with the U.S. over inaction in the  conflict in Syria
  • Secretary  of State John Kerry says he is committed to keeping a good relationship with the  Saudis

By  Reuters Reporter

PUBLISHED: 19:27 EST, 22  October 2013 |  UPDATED: 19:27 EST, 22 October 2013

Upset at President Barack Obama’s policies on  Iran and Syria, members of Saudi Arabia’s ruling family are threatening a rift  with the United States that could take the alliance between Washington and the  kingdom to its lowest point in years.

Saudi Arabia’s intelligence chief is vowing  that the kingdom will make a ‘major shift’ in relations with the United States  to protest perceived American inaction over Syria’s civil war as well as recent  U.S. overtures to Iran, a source close to Saudi policy said on  Tuesday.

Prince Bandar bin Sultan told European  diplomats that the United States had failed to act effectively against Syrian  President Bashar al-Assad and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, was growing  closer to Tehran, and had failed to back Saudi support for Bahrain when it  crushed an anti-government revolt in 2011, the source said.

'Major change': Prince Bandar Bin Sultan said the kingdom will make a  

‘Major change’: Prince Bandar Bin Sultan said the  kingdom will make a “major shift” in relations with the United States

‘The shift away from the U.S. is a major  one,’ the source close to Saudi policy said. ‘Saudi doesn’t want to find itself  any longer in a situation where it is dependent.’

It was not immediately clear whether the  reported statements by Prince Bandar, who was the Saudi ambassador to Washington  for 22 years, had the full backing of King Abdullah.

The growing breach between the United States  and Saudi Arabia was also on display in Washington, where another senior Saudi  prince criticized Obama’s Middle East policies, accusing him of ‘dithering’ on  Syria and Israeli-Palestinian peace.

In unusually blunt public remarks, Prince  Turki al-Faisal called Obama’s policies in Syria ‘lamentable’ and ridiculed a  U.S.-Russian deal to eliminate Assad’s chemical weapons. He suggested it was a  ruse to let Obama avoid military action in Syria.

‘The current charade of international control  over Bashar’s chemical arsenal would be funny if it were not so blatantly  perfidious. And designed not only to give Mr. Obama an opportunity to back down  (from military strikes), but also to help Assad to butcher his people,’ said  Prince Turki, a member of the Saudi royal family and former director of Saudi  intelligence.

Inaction: The Saudis say they are getting upset by President Obama's inaction in dealing with the conflict in Syria 

Inaction: The Saudis say they are getting upset by  President Obama’s inaction in dealing with the conflict in Syria

The United States and Saudi Arabia have been  allies since the kingdom was declared in 1932, giving Riyadh a powerful military  protector and Washington secure oil supplies.

The Saudi criticism came days after the 40th  anniversary of the October 1973 Arab oil embargo imposed to punish the West for  supporting Israel in the Yom Kippur war.

That was one of the low points in U.S.-Saudi  ties, which were also badly shaken by the September 11, 2001, attacks on the  United States. Most of the 9/11 hijackers were Saudi nationals.

Saudi Arabia gave a clear sign of its  displeasure over Obama’s foreign policy last week when it rejected a coveted  two-year term on the U.N. Security Council in a display of anger over the  failure of the international community to end the war in Syria and act on other  Middle East issues.

Prince Turki indicated that Saudi Arabia will  not reverse that decision, which he said was a result of the Security Council’s  failure to stop Assad and implement its own decision on the Israeli-Palestinian  conflict.

Picking sides: Russian President Vladimir Putin, seen here with bin Sultan, has sided with the Syrian government in the conflict 

Picking sides: Russian President Vladimir Putin, seen  here with bin Sultan, has sided with the Syrian government in the  conflict

‘There is nothing whimsical about the  decision to forego membership of the Security Council. It is based on the  ineffectual experience of that body,’ he said in a speech to the  Washington-based National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations.

In London, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry  said he discussed Riyadh’s concerns when he met Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal  in Paris on Monday.

Kerry said he told the Saudi minister no deal  with Iran was better than a bad deal. ‘I have great confidence that the United  States and Saudi Arabia will continue to be the close and important friends and  allies that we have been,’ Kerry told reporters.

Prince Bandar is seen as a foreign policy  hawk, especially on Iran. The Sunni Muslim kingdom’s rivalry with Shi’ite Iran,  an ally of Syria, has amplified sectarian tensions across the Middle  East.

A son of the late defense minister and crown  prince, Prince Sultan, and a protégé of the late King Fahd, he fell from favor  with King Abdullah after clashing on foreign policy in 2005.

But he was called in from the cold last year  with a mandate to bring down Assad, diplomats in the Gulf say. Over the past  year, he has led Saudi efforts to bring arms and other aid to Syrian  rebels.

‘Prince Bandar told diplomats that he plans  to limit interaction with the U.S.,’ the source close to Saudi policy  said.

Secretary of State John Kerry says he's confident the U.S. will continue to have a good relationship with Saudi Arabia 

Secretary of State John Kerry says he’s confident the  U.S. will continue to have a good relationship with Saudi Arabia

This happens after the U.S. failed to take  any effective action on Syria and Palestine. Relations with the U.S. have been  deteriorating for a while, as Saudi feels that the U.S. is growing closer with  Iran and the U.S. also failed to support Saudi during the Bahrain uprising,” the  source said.

The source declined to provide more details  of Bandar’s talks with the diplomats, which took place in the past few  days.

But he suggested that the planned change in  ties between the energy superpower and the United States would have wide-ranging  consequences, including on arms purchases and oil sales.

Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest oil  exporter, ploughs much of its earnings back into U.S. assets. Most of the Saudi  central bank’s net foreign assets of $690 billion are thought to be denominated  in dollars, much of them in U.S. Treasury bonds.

‘All options are on the table now, and for  sure there will be some impact,’ the Saudi source said.

He said there would be no further  coordination with the United States over the war in Syria, where the Saudis have  armed and financed rebel groups fighting Assad.

The kingdom has informed the United States of  its actions in Syria, and diplomats say it has respected U.S. requests not to  supply the groups with advanced weaponry that the West fears could fall into the  hands of al Qaeda-aligned groups.

Saudi intelligence chief Prince Turki Al Faisal also is outraged the international community has let the war continue in Syria 

Saudi intelligence chief Prince Turki Al Faisal also is  outraged the international community has let the war continue in Syria

Saudi anger boiled over after Washington  refrained from military strikes in response to a poison gas attack in Damascus  in August when Assad agreed to give up his chemical weapons  arsenal.

Representative Chris Van Hollen, a member of  the U.S. House of Representatives’ Democratic leadership, told Reuters’  Washington Summit on Tuesday that the Saudi moves were intended to pressure  Obama to take action in Syria.

‘We know their game. They’re trying to send a  signal that we should all get involved militarily in Syria, and I think that  would be a big mistake to get in the middle of the Syrian civil war,’ Van Hollen  said.

‘And the Saudis should start by stopping  their funding of the al Qaeda-related groups in Syria. In addition to the fact  that it’s a country that doesn’t allow women to drive,’ said Van Hollen, who is  close to Obama on domestic issues in Congress but is less influential on foreign  policy.

Saudi Arabia is concerned about signs of a  tentative reconciliation between Washington and Tehran, something Riyadh fears  may lead to a ‘grand bargain’ on the Iranian nuclear program that would leave  Riyadh at a disadvantage.

Prince Turki expressed doubt that Obama would  succeed in what he called an ‘open arms approach’ to Iran, which he accused of  meddling in Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, Iraq and Bahrain.

‘We Saudis observe President Obama’s efforts  in this regard. The road ahead is arduous,’ he said. ‘Whether (Iranian President  Hassan) Rouhani will succeed in steering Iran toward sensible policies is  already contested in Iran. The forces of darkness in Qom and Tehran are well  entrenched.’

The U.N. Security Council has been paralyzed  over the 31-month-old Syria conflict, with permanent members Russia and China  repeatedly blocking measures to condemn Assad.

Saudi Arabia backs Assad’s mostly Sunni rebel  foes. The Syrian leader, whose Alawite sect is derived from Shi’ite Islam, has  support from Iran and the armed Lebanese Shi’ite movement Hezbollah. The Syrian  leader denounces the insurgents as al Qaeda-linked groups backed by Sunni-ruled  states.

In Bahrain, home of the U.S. Fifth Fleet, a  simmering pro-democracy revolt by its Shi’ite majority has prompted calls by  some in Washington for U.S. ships to be based elsewhere.

Many U.S. economic interests in Saudi Arabia  involve government contracts in defense, other security sectors, health care,  education, information technology and construction.

Read more: Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

Current Black Market Prices for People and Organs

EEV: This list helps brings the reality of human exploitation a little closer to home. These are generalized estimates, based on few sources.

Click dollar figure to see original post and source information. Last update: October 9, 2013.


Click dollar figure to see original post and source information.


Saudi blogger detained for filming woman drive

Detained Saudi blogger sees momentum for women drivers


        Doug Stanglin, USA TODAY     12:26 p.m. EDT October 14, 2013

Saudi women plan a rolling protest through Riyadh and other cities Oct. 26 in defiance of a ban on women driving.


A Saudi female blogger who was detained last week for filming women driving through Riyadh says she believes a campaign to to let women drive— which will culminate in a rolling protest Oct. 26 — is gaining momentum in various levels of society.

Eman Al-Nafjan, who writes the blog Saudiwoman, was stopped by police while tweeting as she filmed a female friend behind the wheel.

She tells CNN that her concern over being stopped was eased when she saw that “police were smiling and easygoing, and their attitude was very positive. The police were really nice to us.”

Al-Nafjan says she was required to sign two documents, one saying that would no longer get into a car with a woman driving, and another that she would no longer film women driving.

When asked if she would adhere to the agreements, Al-Nafjan tells CNN that “it doesn’t matter whether or not I go out. This isn’t about me. This is a people’s movement. This is not about me. This is about many women.”

Women technically are not banned by Saudi law from driving, they are only prevented from getting Saudi driver’s licenses or using foreign licenses. Because of the ban, Saudi women must rely on male spouse, relatives or chauffeurs to provide transportation.

Last week in London, Hillary Rodham Clinton expressed support for Saudi women in their campaign, the Associated Press reports.

“I’m all for it,” Clinton said. “It is an issue that is symbolic.” She added that the ban is “hard to even rationalize” in today’s world.

Al-Nafjan tells The New York Times blog The Lede that even the officers who stopped them expressed their support for female drivers. She adds that the officers had only stopped them because of her live Twitter reporting on the protest drive.

On Monday, in a new twist, she posted on her Twitter account @Saudiwoman a video of a Saudi man teaching his mother to drive in Al-Qassim province.

The Oct. 26 driving protest through Riyadh and other Saudi cities is being promoted on the website The petition, called “I support women drivers on 26 October 2013,” says:

Since there is no justification for the Saudi government to prohibit adult women citizens who are capable of driving cars from doing so, we urge the state to provide appropriate means for women seeking the issuance of permits and licenses to apply and obtain them.

There have been two major challenges to the driving ban in past three decades. In 1990, police cracked down on 47 female drivers, firing many of the protesters from government jobs and barring them from traveling outside the country. In 2011 a Saudi woman was sentenced to 10 lashes for driving, the Saudi blog Riyadh Bureau notes.

A larger protest by more than 50 women that same year, at the height of the Arab Spring, was largely ignored by police.

There are also indications that the once solid wall of opposition by the Saudi government and among ordinary Saudis is beginning to crumble, however slowly.

Sheikh Abdulatif al-Sheikh, the head of the morality police, recently told Reuters that there was no text in the documents making up sharia law that bars women from driving.

Last week, three female members of Saudi Arabia’s Shoura Council introduced a recommendation to the body to lift the ban on women driving.

One YouTube video of  woman driving through Riyadh recently featured male drivers pulling alongside and showing a “thumbs up” sign.

Saudi court jails four young men for up to TEN YEARS and sentences them to thousands of lashes for naked dance on car

  • One of the men was jailed for 10 years  and sentenced to 2,000 lashes
  • Another got seven years and 1,200 lashes  while two others received three years and 500 lashes

By  Daily Mail Reporter

PUBLISHED: 08:30 EST, 4  October 2013 |  UPDATED: 09:01 EST, 4 October 2013

A Saudi Arabian man has been jailed for 10  years and sentenced to 2,000 lashes after a film of him dancing naked on the  roof of a car was posted online.

Another man, who is believed to have made the  film, received seven years in prison and 1,200 lashes.

Two others were jailed for three years and  sentenced to 500 lashes each.


The incident took place in Borayda, the capital of al-Qasseem province, north-west of the capital Riyadh (pictured) 

The incident took place in Borayda, the capital of  al-Qasseem province, north-west of the capital Riyadh (pictured)


The public prosecutor in the case reportedly  objected to what he described as ‘light sentences’.

The four men men were charged with ‘dancing  on a vehicle in public’ and ‘violating public morals’, following the incident in  Borayda, the capital of al-Qasseem province, north-west  of the capital Riyadh.

A video of the incident was posted online,  media reports say. It is not clear whether the men were caught in the act or  traced by the video.

All have been given the right to  appeal.

Al-Qasseem province is notoriously  conservative and religious police there are said to be the most strict in the  kingdom.

Under Saudi Arabia’s strict interpretation of  Islam, instances of public indecency are considered serious offences,

The law prohibits the playing of music,  dancing and many movies also are a concern for hard-liners who believe they  violate religious and moral values.

Read more: Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

Saudi Arabian cleric says female drivers risk damaging ovaries ( Says “medical studies show” ) ?

Saudi Arabian cleric says female drivers risk damaging ovaries

Conservative’s comments aimed at activists protesting against Islamic kingdom’s male-only driving rules

Female Saudi motorist

A female Saudi motorist speaks to the media in 2011 after driving her vehicle in defiance of the ban on  women driving.  Photograph: Fahad Shadeed/Reuters

A conservative Saudi Arabian cleric has said women who drive risk damaging their ovaries and bearing children with clinical problems, countering activists who are trying to end the Islamic kingdom’s male-only driving rules.

A campaign calling for women to defy the ban in a protest drive on 26 October has spread rapidly online over the past week and gained support from prominent women activists. On Sunday, the campaign’s website was blocked in the kingdom.

In an interview published on Friday on the website, Sheikh Saleh bin Saad al-Lohaidan, a judicial adviser to an association of Gulf psychologists, said women aiming to overturn the ban on driving should put “reason ahead of their hearts, emotions and passions”.

Lohaidan’s strong endorsement of the ban demonstrates how entrenched the opposition is to women driving among some conservative Saudis.

“If a woman drives a car, not out of pure necessity, that could have negative physiological impacts as functional and physiological medical studies show that it automatically affects the ovaries and pushes the pelvis upwards,” he told Sabq. “That is why we find those who regularly drive have children with clinical problemsof varying degrees.”

He did not cite specific medical studies to support his arguments.

The ban on women driving is not backed by a specific law, but only men are granted driving licences. Women can be fined for driving without a licence but have also been detained and put on trial in the past on charges of political protest.

Sheikh Abdulatif al-Sheikh, the head of the morality police, told Reuters last week that there was no text in the documents making up sharia law that bars women from driving.

King Abdullah has pushed some cautious reforms aimed at expanding women’s freedoms in Saudi Arabia, including opening more employment opportunities for them, but he has not addressed the issue of driving.

• This story was amended on 29 September 2013. The original wrongly identified Sheikh Saleh bin Saad al-Lohaidan as Sheikh Saleh bin Mohammed al-Lohaidan, one of the 21 members of the senior council of scholars. This has been corrected.

Saudi Arabian women activists to get back behind the wheel / They will defy ban on driving October 26

23 September, 17:40


(ANSAmed) – DUBAI – Saudi women will once again be getting behind the wheel in the ultra-conservative, oil-rich kingdom in a month, in an act of defiance against the law that bans them from driving. The initiative started with the online petition ”Oct 26th, driving for women”, which has collected almost 6,000 signatures – though it is likely that only a fraction of these women will actually get behind the steering wheel of their family’s car.

Many Saudi women hold a driving license issued by other countries and regularly drive abroad, while others ”are enthusiastic about learning to drive, or to teach other” women how to drive, Gulf News was told by Nasima Al Sada, an activist working for women’s rights and a promoter of the petition. ”There is not a single text in the Sharia Islamic law that prevents us (from driving). Any pretexts used to do that are based on inherited customs,” she said, after the same concept was reiterated a few days ago by the head of the Saudi morality police, Sheikh Abdulatif Al al-Sheikh, to the London-based pan-Arab daily Al-Hayat. Religious and academic authorities have previously said they backed women’s right to drive, as the ban has no basis in Muslim holy texts or its jurisprudence. These conclusions, however, have not yet been translated into legal reform. Saudi activists have experience with similar initiatives. In 1990, 47 women were arrested and severely punished for violating the ban on driving, and in 2011 social networks aided the success of the “Women2drivecampaign”, a campaign similar to the one planned for October 26, when a number of women were arrested and at least one sentenced to lashes for disobedience.

The carrying out of the sentence was, however, blocked by King Abdallah and announced via Twitter by one of the royal princesses: a sign that a new mentality is very slowly coming into being. The right to drive has become the symbol of a struggle for full recognition of women’s rights in Saudi Arabia, where they are subject to severe restrictions on personal freedoms. they are not allowed to vote, cannot travel without the permission and ”guardianship” of a male family member and are banned from many professions as well as outdoor and competitive sports.

‘Syrian rebels take responsibility for the chemical attack admitting the weapons were provided by Saudis’ – source

 EEV: Requesting 2nd source confirmation



24.07.2012 Сирия повстанцы мятежник оппозиция война оружие боевик

Photo: EPA

In an interview with Dale Gavlak, a Middle East correspondent for the Associated Press and Mint Press News, Syrian rebels tacitly implied that they were responsible for last week’s chemical attack. Some information could not immediately be independently verified.

 “From numerous interviews with doctors, Ghouta residents, rebel fighters and their families….many believe that certain rebels received chemical weapons via the Saudi intelligence chief, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, and were responsible for carrying out the (deadly) gas attack,” he writes in the article.

 The rebels noted it was a result of an accident caused by rebels mishandling chemical weapons provided to them.

 “My son came to me two weeks ago asking what I thought the weapons were that he had been asked to carry,” said Abu Abdel-Moneim, the father of a rebel fighting to unseat Assad, who lives in Ghouta.

 As Gavlak reports, Abdel-Moneim said his son and 12 other rebels died in a weapons storage tunnel. The father stated the weapons were provided to rebel forces by a Saudi militant, known as Abu Ayesha, describing them as having a “tube-like structure” while others were like a “huge gas bottle.”

 “They didn’t tell us what these arms were or how to use them,” complained a female fighter named ‘K’. “We didn’t know they were chemical weapons. We never imagined they were chemical weapons.”

 “When Saudi Prince Bandar gives such weapons to people, he must give them to those who know how to handle and use them,” she warned. She, like other Syrians, do not want to use their full names for fear of retribution.

 Gavlak also refers to an article in the UK’s Daily Telegraph about secret Russian-Saudi talks stating that Prince Bandar threatened Russian President Vladimir Putin with terror attacks at next year’s Winter Olympics in Sochi if Russia doesn’t agree to change its stance on Syria.

 “Prince Bandar pledged to safeguard Russia’s naval base in Syria if the Assad regime is toppled, but he also hinted at Chechen terrorist attacks on Russia’s Winter Olympics in Sochi if there is no accord,” the article stated.

 “I can give you a guarantee to protect the Winter Olympics next year. The Chechen groups that threaten the security of the games are controlled by us,” Saudi Prince allegedly told Vladimir Putin.

 Mint Press News stated that some of the information couldn’t be independently verified and pledged to continue providing updates on this topic.

 Voice of Russia might be more credible than US government – Internet users

 Recent publication by the Voice of Russia ‘Syrian rebels take responsibility for the chemical attack admitting the weapons were provided by Saudis’ received a strong outcry among the Internet users as some of them claiming that the company’s reports are more credible than allegations against Syrian government made by US authorities.

 ‘It’s more credible than the US saying we have real evidence of Assad using them [chemical weapons]. Assad doesn’t get weapons from Saudi Arabia. They don’t have ties. The US will use any reason it can to go to war. Even if it means creating one’, writesDylanJamesCo on Reddit.

 Meanwhile, not everyone shares such this point of view.

 KoreyYrvaI writes that ‘The Voice of Russia wants us to believe that the Rebels totally were responsible for the chemical attack, and it was an accident… because Russia has been impartial throughout all of this and I don’t think America(or anyone) needs another war, but this is hardly credible’.

 But one thing unites the users: they believe the US government wants and needs another war in the Middle East.

 ‘America is just getting better at proxy wars. They have firm ties with the Saudis, and they would have no problem destabilizing Syria if it meant the US could eventually target Iran and its oil reserve’, writes NineteenEightyTwo.

 Voice of Russia, Mint Press News

StarLink resurfaces: GM corn banned decade ago found in Saudi Arabia

Published time: August 27, 2013 21:14
Edited time: August 29, 2013

AFP Photo / Paul J. Richards AFP Photo / Paul J. Richards

The Saudi Arabian food chain has been widely contaminated with GM ingredients, according to a new study. The findings include controversial StarLink maize banned for human consumption in the US over ten years ago.

The study published in the journal Applied Biochemistry and  Biotechnology earlier this month found that genetically modified  StarLink maize, allowed for domestic animal feed only in the US,  has been contaminating Saudi Arabian products.

StarLink is a trade mark for a type of GM maize manufactured by  Aventis Crop Science at the time when it was going through the  American apparatus. Later it was bought by  Bayer.

Back in 1998 the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)  approved the maize for domestic animal feed only, so the company  manufacturing StarLink decided not to apply for separate approval  for human and animal consumption.

Nevertheless, residues of StarLink maize were detected in taco  shells in September 2000, indicating that it had entered the  human food chain.

Following the findings all genetically modified food was recalled  causing widespread disruption to the corn markets in 2000 and  2001.

Aventis then withdrew its registration for StarLink maize  varieties in October 2000 and promised it would no longer be  produced.

Despite these assurances, aid sent by the UN World Food Program  and the US to a number of Central American nations was found to  be highly contaminated with StarLink corn. 80% of the 50 samples  tested came back positive for StarLink maize and Guatemala,  Nicaragua, Honduras and El Salvador were all compelled to refuse  the aid, according to the journal Green Med.

In 2005 Saudi Arabia approved the import of GM food, but banned  the import and agricultural use of genetically modified animals,  their byproducts and GM seeds, dates and decorative plants. The  law also stipulated that any product containing GM material was  required to be labeled in both Arabic and English.

In the 2013 study, 200 samples were collected from the Saudi  Arabian provinces of Al-Qassim, Riyadh and Mahdina between 2009  and 2010 and were screened for GM ingredients. 26% of soybean  samples were positive for GM gene sequences, while 44% of maize  samples came out positive for GM gene sequences.

The overall findings pointed to a discovery of more than 1%  contamination of maize samples with StarLink maize, as according  to the detection sensitivity of the test kits used in the  research the likelihood of a false positive reading is extremely  low.

The authors of the report conclude that “establishing strong  regulations and certified laboratories to monitor GM foods or  crops in the Saudi Market is recommended.”

An earlier study published in the African Journal of Food Science  in 2010 also found that the food chain in Saudi Arabia had been  contaminated with GM ingredients.

The study analyzed 202 samples of mainly imported food, which was  sampled from local markets in Ridyadh. Of the 202 samples 20  tested positive for GM ingredients.

The authors of the 2013 finding raise questions of why GM corn,  banned in the US is resurfacing in a distant country like Saudi  Arabia. They also question the level of contamination in the US,  considering the fact the labeling and import of GM products is  more stringent in Saudi Arabia than in the states.

“Mandatory labeling of GM-containing products and/or a total  boycott of manufactures who are not already complying with this  objective, or do not already have plans to do so in the immediate  future,” the study concludes.

Saudi takes keys away from more rogue women drivers

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation – Tue, 27 Aug 2013 07:15 AM

Female driver Azza Al Shmasani displays a note that she says was placed on her car by an unknown person in Saudi Arabia, on June 22, 2011. REUTERS/Fahad Shadeed

NEW YORK (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Police in Saudi Arabia, where women are banned from driving cars, recently caught and punished three women found illegally behind the wheel, according to a report in the Saudi Gazette.

The women, all caught on the outskirts of the city of Al-Qatif in Eastern Province, were subject to fines of 900 Saudi riyals ($240), and required to sign a document promising they would not do it again.

The three recent cases, which are among the six registered against women drivers in the last five years, involved a variety of women.

One was a 47-year-old woman accompanied by her father and brother, who videotaped her driving and posted the video on YouTube.

Another case involved a girl whose brother was riding in the car with her. The third involved a Turkish woman whose valid international driving license is not recognised and does not allow women to drive in the kingdom, according to police.

In a country where King Abdullah is slowly, if steadily, increasing women’s rights – such as the right to vote, work in lingerie shops, practice law and ride bicycles – the right to drive remains a contentious point.

Last year, more than 600 women petitioned the king to allow women to drive. The cause also has been taken up by such leading figures as Princess Ameerah Al Taweel and is being considered by the new female members of the shura council, according to Arabian

“I feel unsafe driving here because no one follows traffic rules. It makes me worried when I’m riding with my driver,” said Zahra Ali, who drove herself regularly while she studied in Europe. “To make matters worse, it is difficult to find a driver these days and if you find one, he asks for a lot of money while not sticking to work times.”

It is estimated that the kingdom employs tens of thousands of foreign male drivers to ferry female Saudi citizens from one place to another, a cost some Saudi women find difficult to afford.

Under Islamic law in Saudi Arabia, women are not permitted to travel outside the home without a male guardian and must get permission from male relatives to work, travel or even undertake medical procedures.


Kurdish leader – It’s not Assad, West tries to Frame Him

EEV: Still no proof of who launched the chemical attack. If anybody has any direct links to evidence of whom is at fault, please link.

Monday, 26 August 2013

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad would not be “so stupid” as to use chemical weapons close to Damascus, the leader of the country’s largest Kurdish group said.

Saleh Muslim, head of the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), said there was no chance the Syrian president would resort to using such weapons when he felt he had the upper hand in the country’s civil war.

He suggested last Wednesday’s attack, which the Al qaeda alligned rebel groups say was carried out by government forces and killed hundreds of people, was aimed at framing Assad and provoking an international reaction. Assad has denied his forces used chemical weapons and has stated the Syrian Army would never do such thing to its own people.

“The regime in Syria … has chemical weapons, but they wouldn’t use them around Damascus, 5 km from the (U.N.) committee which is investigating chemical weapons. Of course they are not so stupid as to do so,” Muslim told Reuters.

At the time of the incident, U.N. experts were already in Syria to investigate three previous alleged chemical attacks dating from months ago.

Muslim’s PYD, which has well-armed and effective militias, has clashed with Assad’s forces as well as rebels, but has allowed both to move through its territories during the war.

Some rebels and rival Kurdish groups accuse it of having been close to the state, a position Muslim disputes. He said Kurdish areas the PYD controlled were under attack from al Qaeda-linked rebels.

Muslim suggested “some other sides who want to blame the Syrian regime, who want to show them as guilty and then see action” lay behind the chemical attack, which has led to speculation that Western countries will order a military response.

He said that if the U.N. inspectors found evidence Assad was not behind the gassing and the rebels were, “everybody would forget it”.

“Who is the side who would be punished? Are they are going to punish the Emir of Qatar or the King of Saudi Arabia, or Mr. Erdogan of Turkey?” Qatar, Turkey and Saudi Arabia have all strongly condemned Assad and backed the rebels financially.

Kurdish militias have sought to consolidate their grip in northern Syria after exploiting the chaos of the civil war over the past year by seizing control of districts as Assad’s forces focused elsewhere.

The PYD said in July it aimed to set up a transitional council and their emerging self-rule is starting to echo the autonomy of Kurds in neighboring northern Iraq.

Muslim said he reassured officials during talks last month with Turkey’s intelligence agency that the council was not a move to divide Syria – which would alarm Ankara, which is wary of deepening sectarian violence on its border.

Nonetheless, it highlights Syria’s slow fragmentation into a Kurdish northeast, mainly government-held areas around Damascus, Homs and the Mediterranean, and a rebel swathe leading from Aleppo along the Euphrates Valley to Iraq.

General was called ‘Poppa Panda Sexy’ pants by junior officer he was having an affair with, court hears as he faces jail for sex assault

  • Affair lasted for three years between the  general and a Captain who was 17-years younger
  • Relationship occurred across continents  and war zones as the pair encountered one another
  • Captain flew into a jealous rage and  began emailing other officers Sinclair was seeing before revealing all to Army’s  top brass
  • Sinclair also is charged with having  inappropriate relations with three other female junior officers
  • 100 witnesses have been spoken to during  investigation
  • Sinclair to be judged by five male  generals in trial at the end of September

By  Daily Mail Reporter

PUBLISHED: 19:30 EST, 17  August 2013 |  UPDATED: 19:32 EST, 17 August 2013

A married army general could face jail over  charges that he forcibly sexually assaulted a female captain

All the sordid details are coming out during  a military trail in Fort Bragg, North Carolina where the army is  court-martialling Brigadier General Jeffrey Sinclair, one of its generals, for  just the third time in fifty years.

On trial: Brigadeer General Jeffrey A. Sinclair faces court martial on charges that include forcible sodomy and adultery 

On trial: Brigadeer General Jeffrey A. Sinclair faces  court martial on charges that include forcible sodomy and adultery


It was a volatile love affair that lasted for  three years during which time the captain called her boss ‘Poppa Panda Sexy  Pants.’

Brig. Gen. Jeffrey A. Sinclair, an  Army  Ranger and paratrooper is accused of forcible sodomy, adultery and  other  charges that could land him in prison.

Prosecutors say he abused his authority by  sleeping with a subordinate officer  which is a taboo in the armed forces and a  violation of military law.

The charges also suggest that the  relationship became violent when he attempted to force the Captain to perform  oral sex.

There are also some additional charges that  allude Sinclair had inappropriate communications with three other female  officers.

Sinclair has pleaded not guilty to all  charges.


Rare court-martial: The general will be tried at the end of September of sex assault charges 

Rare court-martial: The general will be tried at the end  of September of sex assault charges


On patrol before being on trial: Brig. Gen. Jeffrey A. Sinclair served as a special assistant to the Commanding General, XVIII Airborne Corps 

On patrol before being on trial: Brig. Gen. Jeffrey A.  Sinclair served as a special assistant to the Commanding General, XVIII Airborne  Corps


Well travelled: Sinclair has been deployed to combat in Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Afghanistan but could now face jail time after conducting a sordid affair with a Captain 17 years his junior 

Well traveled: Sinclair has been deployed to combat in  Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Afghanistan but could now face jail time after conducting  a sordid affair with a Captain 17 years his junior


The case is being seen as a test of how well  the U.S. military handles allegations of sexual assault.

President Obama recently demanding a  crackdown after a host of scandals and admissions by military  leaders.

Sinclair’s trial begins at the end of  September but before then, the army is selecting a jury of five major generals,  all men, who will decide his fate.

40 generals have so far been summoned to the  military base to see if they are suitable to be included on the jury.

Almost all of the generals that were  questioned said they believed  sexual assault was a serious problem in the  ranks.

Although Sinclair has pleaded not guilty, his  attorneys have acknowledged that he carried on an affair with a subordinate  officer 17 years his junior.

Serious charges: The Army has charged Sinclair with forcible sodomy because of the oral sex allegations. More than 100 witnesses have been involved in the investigation 

Serious charges: The Army has charged Sinclair with  forcible sodomy because of the oral sex allegations. More than 100 witnesses  have been involved in the investigation


Reputation: The Army is trying to shelve its reputation of being awash with cases of sexual assault. 40 generals have been questioned so far to see if they could sit on the jury for Sinclair's upcoming trial 

Reputation: The Army is trying to shelve its reputation  of being awash with cases of sexual assault. 40 generals have been questioned so  far to see if they could sit on the jury for Sinclair’s upcoming trial


During a pretrial hearing last year, the  woman testified that the pair had sex in the general’s quarters in Iraq, in her  car in a German parking lot, in an office in Afghanistan and even on a hotel  balcony in Arizona.

The affair may well have remained a secret  however the  general and the captain  ended up bombarding one another  with explicit and angry text messages.

The Washington Post has revealed how one read: ‘You are my heart and world you beautiful magnificent  man,’ whilst the captain texted the general, ‘I need you and I mean really  deeply profusely need you.’

There was also a darker side to the affair  where the captain threatened to kill herself or expose Sinclair to his  superiors.

The affair exploded out into the open when in  Kandahar, Afghanistan, in March 2012, the captain was snooping through  Sinclair’s e-mail in his office and discovered loving messages to his wife, as  well as love notes to another female Army officer.

The captain has admitted she flew into a  jealous rage first firing off an e-mail to the other female officer, saying, ‘I  hope you don’t think you’re the only girl that he’s sleeping with.’

Witnesses: More than a 100 people have been interviewed in connection to Sinclair's affair, many of whom had turned a blind eye whilst the relationship was developing 

Witnesses: More than a 100 people have been interviewed  in connection to Sinclair’s affair, many of whom had turned a blind eye whilst  the relationship was developing


Uniquely understanding: Rebecca Sinclair, wife of General Jeff Sinclair said last year that she understood why her husband had an affair and agreed that the the strains of war had lead to infidelity 

Uniquely understanding: Rebecca Sinclair, wife of  General Jeff Sinclair said last year that she understood why her husband had an  affair and agreed that the the strains of war had lead to infidelity


Then she entered the office of Maj. Gen.  James L. Huggins, then the commander of the 82nd Airborne Division and leader of  all U.S. forces in southern Afghanistan and spent two hours confessing to the  affair.

Phonecalls and emails followed amongst the  army’s top brass and a full investigation was launched that spoke to more than  100 witnesses.

The became even more serious when the captain  accused Sinclair of sexual assault by forcing her to perform oral sex against  her will on two occasions in Afghanistan.

The Army charged Sinclair with forcible  sodomy because of the oral sex allegations.

The captain testified that the assaults  occurred between December 2011 and February 2012 but said she cannot recall the  exact dates.

Defense attorneys have accused her of making  up the assault allegations to save her Army career.

They said she first told one confidant that  the relationship was entirely consensual but gave investigators a different  version after she realized that she, too, could be kicked out of the Army for  adultery.

Sinclair also is charged with having  inappropriate relations with three other female junior officers.

In November, Sinclair’s wife, Rebecca,  stunned many in the Army when she wrote an op-ed column in The Washington Post to  declare that she was sticking by her husband and that she blamed his infidelity  on ‘the stress of war.’

Mrs Sinclair said her husband may be a  cheater but not a violent abuser. ‘I don’t excuse my husband’s bad behavior or  bad judgment,’ she said. ‘I never said it’s okay. I said I understand how it  could happen.’

Although she has not attended most of the  court proceedings, she said she’s still living with the general. ‘We’re doing  the best we can,’ she said. ‘It’s draining.’

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Foreign interests in Egypt: ‘UK, US, and Qatar might be behind the violent clashes’ – expert ( Lehmann International Services )


египет протест каир разгон демонстраций братья-мусульмане полиция


Photo: EPA

Dozens of people are reported to have been killed in Egypt, as security forces moved in on Wednesday morning to clear two protest camps in Cairo. Christof Lehmann, Consultant in politics at Lehmann International Services from Denmark, gave the Voice of Russia his comment on the situation.

0The government is breaking up the protest camps as it did promise but yesterday it was reported that the government was still contemplating the possibility of peaceful resolution to the conflict. What do you make of the latest government move to break up the camps? Was it a wise decision?

0I think it was a very wise decision, but first let me tell you that I have been talking with eye-witnesses this morning and the ammunition that was used was used by snipers and it may very well be foreign element who have been shooting at protesters too to stir up violence. It was a wise move because over the last days there have been several attacks against Christians in North Sinai, Minya, and Sohag, in the Sinai Peninsula and there is an attempt to create sectarian violence in the Sinai, and getting on the US, and as the Egyptian Ambassador said, we can very well expect Egypt being targeted for Balkanization.

0You mentioned foreign forces that are possibly responsible for the sniper shooting during these demonstrations but do you have any indication as to who these foreign forces exactly were and who might stand behind them? What kind of motives could possibly exist?

0We have very good indications who may stand behind that because there have been infiltrations by the Hamas movement and cooperation between the Hamas militants and Muslim Brotherhood elements, and some Salafists, but they are more supported by Saudi Arabia. But the Muslim Brotherhood and the Hamas movement is actually cooperating very closely with the government of Qatar, and one other reason that Qatar is interested in stirring up this violence especially in the Sinai Peninsula is that there has been accord in 2012 about creation of the free-trade zone in the Sinai and cooperation between Qatar, the Morsi administration at that time and Hamas.

0What do you think Qatar’s final plan really is, what do they want to achieve if they are involved?

0Qatar foreign policy is prolongation of the long arm of British Empire. So, we could see an attempt to create instability what military strategists would call creator’s chaos in Egypt in an attempt to establish NATO control over the Suez Channel for example.

0So you think this could actually have the UK behind this?

0It is very likely to have the UK, the US and Qatar, and to a certain extent also Saudi Arabia behind this.

0If that is what exactly is going on, how can we expect the situation to further develop?

0That depends on how the interim government and the Egyptian military is managing this situation now and if it succeeds at stopping the violence before it gets all over the country, they could be successful at saving the nation of Egypt.

0Do you think it hasn’t gone past the point where it can be peacefully saved?

0Yes, I think it can be peacefully saved because the Egyptian military is quite self-confident and quite defiant against the US. The US has tried to stab the Egyptian people in the back with the Muslim Brotherhood.

Saudi princess accused of human trafficking

Woman living in California kept Kenyan maid confined to house and took passport, say prosecutors in human trafficking case

  •  Reuters in Los Angeles
  •,   Thursday 11 July 2013 00.23 EDT
Meshael Alayban, who is accused of keeping a Kenyan maid as a slave

Meshael Alayban, who is accused of keeping a Kenyan maid as a slave in a human-trafficking case launched by Californian prosecutors. Photograph: EPA/Irvine police

Prosecutors in southern California have charged a Saudi Arabian princess with human trafficking and accused her of bringing a Kenyan woman to the United States and holding her against her will as a servant.
The accused woman, Meshael Alayban, 42, brought the Kenyan to the US in May and paid her $220 a month while holding her passport and keeping her confined to an apartment complex in Irvine, California, where Alayban lived, Orange county prosecutors said.
The servant, whose name was not released, had to wash dishes, cook, clean, do laundry and iron without a day off, prosecutors said.
Authorities said they found four Filipino women in the home who also may have had their passports seized by Alayban’s family. An investigation was under way into whether others were involved in the alleged human trafficking scheme.

Police arrested Alayban early on Wednesday at her apartment, a day after the Kenyan woman escaped and flagged down a bus driver, the statement said. Alayban is charged with one felony count of human trafficking.

The only occasion when the Kenyan woman was allowed to leave the Irvine apartment complex was when she carried the bags of Alayban’s family during an outing, prosecutors said. The Kenyan also attended to other people linked to Alayban who lived in the same complex, according to the statement.

Alayban had first hired the Kenyan woman as a domestic servant in March 2012 in Saudi Arabia in her family’s palace, prosecutors said. She is accused of holding the woman’s passport then as well and forcing her to work every day for 16 hours.
Orange county prosecutors said the Kenyan woman originally came to work for Alayban by signing a two-year contract with an employment agency that promised her $1,600 a month to labour for eight hours a day, five days a week.
Alayban is a wife of Saudi Arabian Prince Abdulrahman bin Nasser bin Abdulaziz al Saud, according to the Orange county prosecutors.
Alayban’s attorney, Paul Meyer, said “the complaints were about hours worked and wages paid”.
“We intend to fully investigate this matter, and expect that the truth will resolve it,” he said.

Alayban appeared in court in Orange county on Wednesday and a judge set her bail at $5m. She remained in custody at a women’s jail, the Orange county sheriff’s department said.

Alayban faces up to 12 years in prison if convicted.

American Samoa’s battle against obesity as 95 per cent of the nation are declared overweight

  • WHO figures reveal extent of the obesity  crisis in the small Pacific island
  • One airline charging passengers tickets  based on their weight to save costs
  • Island-wide health push to encourage  healthier eating and more activity

By  Helen Collis

PUBLISHED: 11:58 EST, 8 July  2013 |  UPDATED: 11:59  EST, 8 July 2013


It has been officially ranked the fattest  population in the world – with estimates as high as 94 per cent  obesity.

The sheer scale of the problem has prompted  both public and private sector organisations to take action.

One airline has has become unpopular with the  locals by making every passenger stand on a set of scales with their luggage and  making them pay according to their individual weight.

Officially fattest: Islanders living on the beautiful American Samoa archipelago are officially the fattest in the world, according to WHO figures 

Officially fattest: Islanders living on the beautiful  American Samoa archipelago are officially the fattest in the world, according to  WHO figures


An American Samoan manAmerican Samoan local women performing a cultural show

Local American Samoans performing a cultural show; the  island’s inhabitants have been ranked the fattest in the world

While the healthcare sector is actively  encouraging the island’s inhabitants to pursue healthier lifestyles in a bid to  prevent the ticking time-bomb of health complications later in life, associated  with obesity.

The American-owned island, which forms part  of the Samoan archipelago chain in the Pacific Ocean, only has a population of  700,000, according to a 2013 census.


But, according to World Health Organization  records, 94 per cent, or 658,000 of them are overweight.

The dire statistic is blamed on an unhealthy  fast-food culture, influenced by its mainland powerhouse, and a penchant for a  sedentary lifestyle.

Almost all of the food in American Samoa is  imported and therefore expensive, but fast-food chains offer a cheap and  convenient alternative.


1. American Samoa – 94 per cent

2. Kiribati, Central Pacific – 82 per  cent

3. French Polynesia – 74 per cent

4. Saudi Arabia – 73 per cent

5. Panama – 67.4 per cent

6. The U.S. – 66.9 per cent

7. Germany – 66.5 per cent

8. Egypt – 66 per cent

9. Kuwait – 64 per cent

10. Bosnia and Herzegovina – 63 per  cent

11. New Zealand – 62.7 per cent

12. Malta – 62.3 per cent

13. Israel – 61.9 per cent

14. Croatia – 61.4 per cent

15. Bahrain – 61 per cent

16. Macedonia – 60.4 per cent

17. Barbados  – 60.4 per cent

18. Seychelles – 60.1 per cent

19. Canada – 59.1 per cent

20. Chile – 59.7 per  cent

Samoa Air’s new ‘pay-by-weight’ system may be  having an effect on its passengers, however, so perhaps this is the way forward  for fat countries?

The island’s obesity epidemic is at crisis  point, since its population is now giving birth to overweight babies, starting  life with a plethora of health complications.

One study found that at just 15 months old,  40 per cent of boys and 30 per cent of girl babies were classed as overweight.

Being overweight is associated with a  catalogue of awful chronic diseases and health complications, including  hypertension and heart disease, diabetes and subsequent renal failure and liver  disease. It is also linked the asthma, cancer, depression, stroke and problems  associated with digestion.

The implications and burdens of such  crippling chronic diseases, not just to the individual and their relatives, but  also for the the country’s healthcare system, are immense.

But at last, it appears the island’s health  push is apparently sinking in.

An early morning exercise class at the  island’s only sports stadium is attracting more members.

Olivia Reid-Gillet attends twice a week  because she became aware of how serious her weight issues were.

Quoted by CBS News, she said: ‘I needed to  get healthier. I had high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, high  cholesterol.’

Clinics including dietary advice, wellness  programmes, and childhood obesity tracking are also being offered to educate  people so they can take more control of their disease.

Local doctor, John Tuitele, told the news  service: ‘The people are being aware of the problem. People are realising the  importance of what we’re trying to get across.’


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Woolwich murder, the MI6 connection: Younger brother of Michael Adebolajo ‘was paid thousands to spy in Middle East’

  • Jeremiah  Adebolajo, 26, is a university English teacher in Saudi Arabia
  • Allegedly  approached by MI6 who pressured him to become a spy
  • Flown business  class to five-star hotels and handed cash
  • Sister Blessing  says he ‘strongly’ rejected offers to work for MI6
  • Asked to  help ‘turn’ his brother Michael because of links to terror groups

By  Robert Verkaik

PUBLISHED: 16:02 EST, 1 June  2013 |  UPDATED: 16:03  EST, 1 June 2013

Teacher: Michael Adebolajo's brother Jeremiah, pictured, was paid thousands by MI6 to become a spy in the Middle East 

Teacher: Michael Adebolajo’s brother Jeremiah, pictured, was paid thousands by MI6 to become a spy in the Middle East


The younger brother of one of the men accused  of murdering Drummer Lee Rigby was paid thousands of pounds by MI6 as part of spying  operations in the Middle East, The Mail on Sunday has discovered.

Jeremiah Adebolajo, who uses the name Abul  Jaleel, was also asked to help ‘turn’ his brother, Michael, to work for MI5, who  were already aware of Michael’s close links to extremist groups.

The claims are made by the Adebolajo family  and a well-placed source who contacted The Mail on Sunday.

Jeremiah Adebolajo, 26, who works as an  English teacher at a  university in Saudi Arabia and returned to Britain  this week, is to be questioned about his brother by Scotland Yard  counter-terrorism detectives today.

Government sources have already confirmed  that Michael Adebolajo was known to MI5. Last week it was alleged that he  rebuffed efforts by the security service to recruit him as a spy.

Michael, 28, was discharged from hospital on  Friday and was yesterday charged with the murder of Drummer Rigby and attempted  murder of two police officers on May 22 in Woolwich, South London.

Now it has emerged that MI5’s  sister  agency, MI6, had targeted Jeremiah, a married teacher based at the University of  Ha’il.

MI5 and MI6 work closely together on  counter-terrorism operations. MI5 focuses on home security, while MI6 targets  threats from overseas.

A document seen by The Mail on Sunday details  concerns raised by Jeremiah’s family about MI6’s alleged harassment in April  last year.

In it, Jeremiah’s sister, Blessing Adebolajo,  32, who works as a human resources assistant in London, says her brother was  approached by MI6 while he was working at the University of Ha’il – an important  strategic location in the Middle East because it takes only one hour by plane to  reach 11 Arab capitals.

Jeremiah Adeboljao was working at the University of Ha'il in Saudi Arabia when he was approached by MI6 

Jeremiah Adeboljao was working at the University of  Ha’il in Saudi Arabia when he was approached by MI6

Complaint: A redacted copy of the allegations made by the Adebolajo family 

Complaint: A redacted copy of the allegations made by  the Adebolajo family

A friend of Jeremiah has confirmed her  account.

The friend said: ‘They asked him about  Michael and asked him to help “turn” him to work for MI5.

‘They also told him to go to certain hotels,  order a cup of tea and wait for his contact.

‘On these occasions he was handed £300, and  was paid to fly first-class and stay in five-star hotels.’

The document, prepared by case workers with  the charity Cageprisoners, says Blessing approached the East London charity for  help because she was worried about the harassment and intimidation of both her  brothers by the security and intelligence services.

She says MI6 bought a ticket so Jeremiah  could fly to an Intercontinental hotel in another Middle East country (believed  to be the United Arab Emirates) and that he was given local currency worth more  than £1,000.

She also alleges Jeremiah told her that he  was interrogated about specific people and was shown pictures of himself with  named individuals taken in the UK. But Blessing told Cageprisoners that Jeremiah  had ‘strongly’ rejected MI6’s offer to work as one of their agents.

Blessing Adebolajo says her brother Jeremiah was approached by MI6 and asked to become an informant 

Blessing Adebolajo says her brother Jeremiah was  approached by MI6 and asked to become an informant



As a result of this rejection, his sister  says he was ‘intimidated’ until he was finally told that he would be stopped  from leaving the UK.

The friend said that two years ago Jeremiah  was approached by UK security officers when he was held at Heathrow on his way  back from Saudi Arabia.

During the interview, he was warned about  what happens to Muslims who don’t help the Government and was shown documents  that confirmed people he knew were being held in prisons throughout the  world.

Police and security services are under huge  pressure to explain what they know about Adebolajo and his alleged accomplice,  Michael Adebowale. Despite warnings stretching back ten years, Michael Adebolajo  is said to have been considered ‘low risk’ by MI5. He was photographed at  high-profile protests – even standing next to hate preacher Anjem  Choudary.

He was arrested in Kenyan 2010 over his  alleged plans to travel to Somalia to join terror group Al-Shabaab before being  returned to the UK. Jeremiah married Charlotte Patricia Taylor in 2008 at Sutton  Register Office in Surrey.

Shortly afterwards the couple are believed to  have left for Saudi Arabia where Jeremiah found work teaching. The University of  Ha’il is one of Saudi Arabia’s most progressive education establishments and was  established by Royal Decree in 2005. It consists of five colleges – Sciences,  Medicine and Medical Sciences,  Engineering, Computer Science and  Engineering, and a Community College – and has more than 16,000  students.

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Saudi religious police boss condemns Twitter users


Saudi virtue police condemn Twitter

The head of Saudi Arabia’s religious police has warned citizens against using Twitter, which is rising in popularity among Saudis.

Sheikh Abdul Latif Abdul Aziz al-Sheikh said anyone using social media sites – and especially Twitter – “has lost this world and his afterlife”.

Twitter was the platform for those who did not have any platform, he said.

His remarks reflect Riyadh’s concern that Saudis use Twitter to discuss sensitive political and other issues.

The conservative kingdom is believed to have seen the world’s fastest increase in the uptake of Twitter, says the BBC’s Sebastian Usher.

‘Losing battle’

The sheikh’s comments echo those of the imam of the Grand Mosque in Mecca in April who used his sermon – seen by millions on TV – to warn that Twitter was a threat to national unity, our correspondent says.

Earlier, Saudi Arabia’s grand mufti, the kingdom’s most senior Muslim cleric, had dismissed Twitter users as “fools”.

These rhetorical attacks are part of a concerted offensive by the Saudi establishment on the social network site, our correspondent says.

Many Saudis have seized on Twitter as the most immediate and effective way to open little windows into a traditionally opaque society.

Recent protests in the Eastern Province have been tweeted and images of human rights activists on trial have been uploaded directly from courtrooms, challenging many taboos.

In response, the authorities have mooted moves that could inhibit Twitter users by linking their online accounts to their Saudi ID numbers.

A number of web activists have been detained, including at least one for the alleged apostasy, a charge that could carry the death penalty.

However, some elements of the Saudi elite have also warned against moving too hard on social network users.

Billionaire businessman Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal, who presents himself as a reformist, has described attempts to restrict social media as a losing battle.


Report: OPEC costs Americans hundreds of billions of dollars

Posted By Michael Bastasch On 3:35 PM  04/26/2013 In Daily Caller News Foundation | No Comments

Depending on oil from nations in the oil cartel OPEC is costing Americans hundreds of billions of dollars every year, according to a new report that claims domestic consumers paid a $335 billion premium for OPEC oil in 2011.

“The average price of a barrel of oil in 2011 was a bit over $90.46. Taking the IEA’s break even cost of $40 a barrel as likely profitable for all producers, then one can impute a $50 a barrel transfer payment, which is about a third of a trillion dollars since the U.S. consumed a little less than seven billion barrels,” reads a report by the group Securing America’s Future Energy, which aims to reduce America’s dependence on foreign oil.

“If we presume oil could have been $40 a barrel, rather than $90, then the $50 premium was paid. Consumption in the U.S. averaged 18.4 million barrels a day or 6.7 billion barrels in 2011, then the premium paid was $335 billion,” the report continues.

The report notes that OPEC’s activities cost U.S. households $115 billion in 2007 alone, and were estimated to have cost Americans more than $500 billion in 2008 due to higher gasoline prices.

“At times, this means a transfer of wealth from oil consuming nations to oil-producing nations totaling hundreds of billions of dollars more than what the competitive-market price of oil would suggest,” Securing America’s Future Energy claims in the document. “That is, the international market for oil is not a free market.”

“The OPEC cartel has affected the oil market for four decades. An unstable cartel representing the interests of the major oil exporting nations, OPEC has at times been effective in forcing up the price of oil and, thereby, allowing the export nations to obtain a significant premium captured by national oil companies on behalf of their sovereigns,” the report continues.

According to Securing America’s Future Energy, OPEC’s state-owned national oil companies hold the majority of the world’s proven oil reserves, which gives them significant influence over the price of oil. They use their influence to impose artificial scarcity on the market, which causes oil prices to rise and results in more money being sent from U.S. customers to foreign state-owned oil companies.

For decades the U.S. has been promoting policies to bring it closer towards greater energy security, after a costly oil embargo by the OPEC wreaked havoc on the country during the 1970s. Recently, hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling have led to an oil and gas boom that could allow the U.S. to surpass Saudi Arabia — an OPEC leader — as the world’s top oil producer.

In fact, the U.S. became a net exporter of oil in 2011, thanks to increased oil production on state and private lands. Production on federal lands has fallen two years in a row, while total U.S. oil production has risen dramatically.

However, an oil boom in the U.S. does not mean consumers and businesses here will be free from OPEC’s influence, according to the report, as the price of oil will still be set on a global market.

“Whether oil is produced in the U.S. or in another country, it is part of a world market,” reads the report. “So increased production in the United States need not mean that oil will be cheaper in the United States, just that revenues will be captured domestically.”

The internal politics of OPEC also make it harder to accurately predict the price of oil than it would be if the market were free of the cartel. Furthermore, corruption within OPEC also affects oil prices.

“Many OPEC nations that determine if oil will flow are deeply corrupt regimes. Since their decisions are political, and not strictly based on business considerations, corruption affects their impact on the market, “according to the study. “[T]he existence of corruption in major oil producers further removes decision making from market forces.”

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Saudi Arabia deports 3 men for being too sexy

EEV: As reported in The Daily Caller and the New York Post

Saudi Arabia deports 3 men for being too sexy

    • Last Updated:  10:12 AM, April 17, 2013
    • Posted: 10:11 AM, April 17, 2013

Three men were booted out of Saudi Arabia because they were deemed “too handsome” by religious authorities who worried that women would become attracted to them.Sitting in the stands as delegates from the United Arab Emirates at the Jenadrivah Heritage & Cultural Festival in Riyad on Sunday, nothing seemed to be wrong with the men in question but that didn’t stop the mutaween, Saudi Arabia’s religious police, from charging in and hauling the men away, according to Arabic language newspaper Elaph.

“A festival official said the three Emiratis were taken out on the grounds they are too handsome and that the Commission members feared female visitors could fall for them,” the newspaper reported.

After being dragged out of the event by the Saudi authorities, the three men were subsequently deported back to the UAE.

Saudi Arabia is an extremely conservative Sunni Muslim country and it prohibits women from interacting with men who aren’t their relatives

Too sexy for Saudi Arabia?

Posted By Sarah Hofmann On 3:50 PM  04/17/2013 In World |

Saudi Arabia’s religious police, the mutaween, have decided that three men are “too handsome” to remain in Saudi Arabia, lest women become attracted to them.

The conservative Sunni Muslim country doesn’t allow women to interact with men who they are not related to, reports the New York Post.

The men were taken out of the Jenadrivah Heritage & Cultural Festival in Riyad on Sunday. They were subsequently deported back to United Arab Emirates, their country of origin, so they would not be able to seduce tempt women with their alleged hotness.

There is word on whether the men will use being deported because they were too ridiculously good looking to score dates in the future.

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Saudi women allowed to ride bikes

Саудовская Аравия женщина дождь

Photo: EPA

Saudi women, who for many years have sought opportunities to operate vehicles have obtained such a right with the corresponding decision being made by the Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice in the Saudi kingdom.

 However, they have only been allowed to ride bicycles and motorized buggies.

 According to the law women “are free to operate these vehicles but only on the condition that they will be accompanied by one of their male relatives.”

 Lady-drivers must dress modestly and not leave the area of ​​local parks or near the coast.

 Saudi Arabia is the only country where women cannot get a driver’s license.

 Voice of Russia, TASS

The photos Saudi Arabia doesn’t want seen – and proof Islam’s most holy relics are being demolished in Mecca

Archaeologists fear billion-pound development has led to destruction of key historical sites

Jerome Taylor

Friday, 15 March 2013

The authorities in Saudi Arabia have begun dismantling some of the oldest sections of Islam’s most important mosque as part of a highly controversial multi-billion expansion.

Photographs obtained by The Independent reveal how workers with drills and mechanical diggers have started demolishing some Ottoman and Abbasid sections on the eastern side of the Masjid al-Haram in Mecca.

The building, which is also known as the Grand Mosque, is the holiest site in Islam because it contains the Kaaba –  the point to which all Muslims face when praying. The columns are the last remaining sections of the mosque which date back more than a few hundred years and form the inner perimeter on the outskirts of the white marble floor surrounding the Kaaba.

The new photos, taken over the last few weeks, have caused alarm among archaeologists and come as Prince Charles – a long term supporter of preserving architectural heritage – flew into Saudi Arabia yesterday for a visit with the Duchess of Cornwall. The timing of his tour has been criticised by human rights campaigners after the Saudis shot seven men in public earlier this week despite major concerns about their trial and the fact that some of the men were juveniles at the time of their alleged crimes.

Many of the Ottoman and Abbasid columns in Mecca were inscribed with intricate Arabic calligraphy marking the names of the Prophet Muhammad’s companions and key moments in the founder of Islam’s life. One column which is believed to have been ripped down is supposed to mark the sport where Muslims believe Muhammad began his heavenly journey on a winged horse which took him to Jerusalem and heaven in a single night.

To accommodate the ever increasing number of pilgrims heading to the twin holy cities of Mecca and Medina each year the Saudi authorities have embarked upon a massive expansion project. Billions of pounds have been poured in to increase the capacity of the Masjid al-Haram and the Masjid an-Nabawi in Medina which marks where Muhammad is buried. King Abdullah has put the prominent Wahabi cleric and imam of the Grand Mosque, Abdul Rahman al-Sudais, in charge of the expansion while the Saudi Binladin Group – the country’s largest firms – has won the construction contract.

While there is little disagreement over the need to expand, critics have accused the Saudi regime of wantonly disregarding the archaeological, historical and cultural heritage of Islam’s two holiest cities. In the last decade Mecca has been transformed from a dusty desert pilgrimage town into a gleaming metropolis of sky scrapers that tower of the Masjid al-Haram and are filled with a myriad of shopping malls, luxury apartments and five star hotels.

But such a transformation has come at a cost. The Washington-based Gulf Institute estimates that 95 per cent of Mecca’s millennium-old buildings have been demolished in the past two decades alone. Dozens of key historical sites dating back to the birth of Islam have already been lost and there is a scramble among archaeologists and academics to try and encourage the authorities to preserve what little remains.

Many senior Wahabis are vehemently against the preservation of historical Islamic sites that are linked to the profit because they believe it encourages shirq – the sin of idol worshipping.

But Dr Irfan al-Alawi, executive director of the Islamic Heritage Research Foundation which obtained the new photographs from inside the Grand Mosque, says the removal of the Ottoman and Abbasid columns will leave future generations of Muslims ignorant of their significance.

“It matters because many of these columns signified certain areas of the mosque where the Prophet sat and prayed,” he said. “The historical record is being deleted. A new Muslim would never have a clue because there’s nothing marking these locations now. There are ways you could expand Mecca and Medina while protecting the historical heritage of the mosque itself and the surrounding sites.”

There are signs that King Abdullah has listened to concerns about the historical destruction of Mecca and Medina. Last October The Independent revealed how new plans for the masjid an-Nabawi in Medina would  result in the destruction of three of the world’s oldest mosques on the west hand side of the main complex. However new plans approved by King Abdullah last week appear to show a change of heart with the bulk of the expansion now slated to take place to the north of the Masjid an-Nabawi.

However key sites are still at risk. The Independent has obtained a presentation used by the Saudis to illustrate how the expansion of Mecca’s main mosque will look. In one of the slides it is clear that the Bayt al-Mawlid, an area which is believed to be the house where Muhammad was born it, will have to be removed unless plans change.

The Independent asked the Saudi Embassy in London a number of questions about the expansion plans and why more was not being done to preserve key historical sites. They replied: “Thank you for calling, but no comment.”

Further reading

Mecca for the rich: Islam’s holiest site ‘turning into Vegas’

Why don’t more Muslims speak out against the wanton destruction of Mecca’s holy sites?

Medina: Saudis take a bulldozer to Islam’s history–and-proof-islams-most-holy-relics-are-being-demolished-in-mecca-8536968.html#

Saudi Arabia may stop public beheadings… due to a shortage of swordsmen

  • The Gulf kingdom beheaded 69 people in 2012,  says Human Rights Watch
  • Rape, murder, armed robbery and drug  trafficking all punishable by death

By  Sarah Johnson

PUBLISHED: 04:13 EST, 11  March 2013 |  UPDATED: 06:24 EST, 11 March 2013


Saudi Arabia is considering dropping public  beheadings as a method of execution because of a shortage of government  swordsmen in the oil-rich kingdom.

A joint Saudi committee composed of  representatives of the ministries of interior,  justice and health has  instead proposed firing squads for capital sentences.

The committee argued that the measure, if  adopted, would not violate Islamic law, allowing heads – or emirs – of the  country’s 13 local administrative regions to begin using the new method when  needed.

New measure: A committee based in the Saudi capital Riyadh (pictured) is considering dropping public beheadings because of a lack of swordsmen 

New measure: A committee based in the Saudi capital  Riyadh (pictured) is considering dropping public beheadings because of a lack of  swordsmen

The Daily Mirror  in Sri Lanka reported  that the committee said in a statement: ‘This solution seems practical,  especially in light of shortages in official swordsmen or their belated  arrival to execution yards in some incidents; the aim is to avoid  interruption  of the regularly-taken security arrangements.’

The ultra-conservative Gulf kingdom beheaded  76 people in 2012, according to an AFP tally based on official figures. Human  Rights Watch (HRW) put the number at 69.

Rape, murder, apostasy, armed robbery and  drug trafficking are all punishable by death under Saudi Arabia’s strict version  of Sharia, or Islamic Law. So far this year, three people have been  executed.

Death by beheading has always been a source  of tension between Saudi Arabia and the international community.

There was international outcry, including  from human rights groups, after a Sri Lankan maid, Rizana Nafeek, was beheaded  in public by sword last month.

Death by beheading has always been a source of tension between Saudi Arabia (capital Riyadh pictured) and the international community 

Death by beheading has always been a source of tension  between Saudi Arabia (capital Riyadh pictured) and the international  community

Executed: Sri Lankan maid Rizana Nafeek was beheaded despite international appeals for her release 

Executed: Sri Lankan maid Rizana Nafeek was beheaded  despite international appeals for her release

Miss Nafeek was sentenced to death aged 17 in  2007 after her Saudi employer accused  her of strangling his four-month-old baby  two years earlier after a  dispute with the child’s mother.

A government spokesman said Riyadh: ‘deplores  the statements made…  about the execution of a Sri Lankan maid who had plotted  and killed an  infant by suffocating him to death one week after she arrived in  the  kingdom.’

The case soured the kingdom’s diplomatic  relations with Sri Lanka, which on Thursday recalled its ambassador to Saudi  Arabia in protest.

The UN’s main human rights body on Friday  expressed ‘deep dismay’ at the beheading, while the European Union said it had  asked Saudi authorities to commute the death penalty.

Riyadh, however, rejected the statements as  ‘external interference’ in its domestic affairs.

The spokesman said: Saudi Arabia ‘respects…  all rules and laws and protects the rights of its people and residents, and  completely rejects any intervention in its affairs and judicial verdicts,  whatever the excuse.’

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I’m worth more than a measly $20bn, Saudi prince tells Forbes: ” publicly severed ties with Forbes magazine after a spat”

EEV: Two words – Arab Spring

Alwaleed bin Talal says he is worth at least $30bn

Nikhil Kumar

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

The Prince is not pleased. Alwaleed bin Talal, a grandson of Saudi Arabia’s founder, King Abdulaziz bin Saud, and nephew of the current monarch, King Abdullah, has publicly severed ties with Forbes magazine after a spat over how the American magazine estimated his wealth.

At $20bn, the Forbes annual billionaires’ list, ranks Prince Alwaleed at a respectable No 26. But the Prince, whose Kingdom Holding Company has stakes in everything from Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp to Citigroup, says he is worth a lot more. Prince Alwaleed puts his own wealth at nearly $10bn higher than Forbes’s estimate, a figure which, if accurate, would catapult him over the heads of the Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page, the New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the LVMH boss Bernard Arnault into the top 10 wealthiest people on the planet.

“Prince Alwaleed has taken this step as he felt he could no longer participate in a process which resulted in the use of incorrect data and seemed designed to disadvantage Middle Eastern investors and institutions,” the Saudi royal’s office said in a statement.

Unimpressed with his Forbes ranking, the Prince will instead work with a rival rich list compiled by Bloomberg, which last ranked him at the world’s 16th-richest person. The Bloomberg list estimates his wealth at $28bn.

“We have worked very openly with the Forbes team over the years and have on multiple occasions pointed out problems with their methodology that need correction,” Shadi Sanbar, the finance chief of Kingdom Holdings, said. “However, after several years of our efforts to correct mistakes falling on deaf ears, we have decided that Forbes has no intention of improving the accuracy of their valuation of our holdings and we have made the decision to move on.”

The magazine, however, has refused to budge. In a piece published on its website entitled “Why Prince Alwaleed’s wealth numbers just don’t add up”, Kerry Dolan recounted how Mr Sanbar attacked Forbes reporters and its methodology before the annual list was published. “Why does Forbes apply different standards to different billionaires – does that depend on national origin?” he is reported to have asked.

The Prince, the magazine claimed, has long accorded “paramount priority” to its widely followed rich list. “That list is how he wants the world to judge his success or his stature,” an unnamed former lieutenant was quoted as saying. “It’s a very big thing for him.”

Among the Prince’s bones of contention with Forbes was its “sudden refusal after six years to accept share values as listed by the Tadawul [the Saudi stock exchange]… The application of differing standards of proof for different individuals resulting in an arbitrary set of standards that seems biased against the Middle East,” Kingdom Holdings said in the statement. “For example, the valuations of other emerging markets such as the Mexican stock exchange are accepted while those of the Tadawul are not.”

Abdullah OKs man’s crucifixion for robbery: ” to be crucified for three days”


Abdullah OKs man's crucifixion for robbery


Two leading rights groups appealed to Saudi King Abdullah to halt Tuesday’s crucifixion and firing-squad executions of seven young Saudis for armed robbery.

At least two of the defendants were child offenders when they allegedly robbed jewelry stores at gunpoint in 2005, Human Rights Watch said.

The men, ages 20 to 24, “were severely beaten, denied food and water, deprived of sleep, forced to remain standing for 24 hours and then forced to sign ‘confessions,” Amnesty International said.

The men themselves said they were denied legal assistance and were not allowed to defend themselves during their trial, the Sabq Arabic news agency reported.

They have been under a death sentence since August 2009.

“We were in a period of adolescence and ignorance, and we all regret what we have done,” defendant Yasser al-Otaibi told the news agency, explaining they have all since found God and now know the Koran completely.

“Please reverse the judgment for lack of lawyers to us during judgment,” Otaibi said.

The Court of Cassation, a top appellate court, ruled the seven amounted to a gang. It affirmed a lower court’s death sentence.

Saudi Arabia follows a strict version of Sharia, or Islamic law.

Abdullah, 89, Saturday authorized the death sentences to be carried out and sent the men to the southwestern Saudi city of Abha.

Abha is the capital of the rustic Asir province, where the men are from.

The alleged gang leader is to be crucified for three days, authorities said. The six others are to face firing squads.

Washington’s Institute for Gulf Affairs rights-advocacy group told the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights in a statement, “Among the reasons for the execution is that [the men] hail from the south, a region that is heavily marginalized by the Saudi monarchy, which views them as lower-class citizens.”

Iran ‘mass producing’ copies of U.S. drone after reverse engineering design from machine it claims to have captured

  • State television claims  Iran has already  deployed the home-brew models
  • Revolutionary  Guards said they had brought down a ScanEagle last year

By  Daily Mail Reporter

PUBLISHED: 21:56 EST, 11  February 2013 |  UPDATED: 22:01 EST, 11 February 2013


Iran is rolling  out a domestically-produced version of its own drone following the capture of a  U.S.-made Scan Eagle last December, state television has claimed.

According to reports, the country’s military  has successfully reverse engineered the  avionics to replicate the U.S. drone and is producing them on a mass  scale.

According to Rear Admiral Ali Fadavi,  Commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps Navy, the Iran’s Naval and  Aerospace Division has already deployed the home-brew models.

Claims: Iran's military said it had downed a U.S. Scan Eagle drone, similar to the one pictured, which is a low-cost unmanned surveillance craft  

Claims: Iran’s military said it had downed a U.S. Scan  Eagle drone, similar to the one pictured, which is a low-cost unmanned  surveillance craft


His comments regarding the production start up reportedly came on December 17, less than two weeks after the drone was supposedly captured of the Iranian coast on December 4.

The Revolutionary Guards said they had brought down a ScanEagle – one of the low-cost, long-endurance aircraft with a  10ft wingspan which is operated by the U.S..

Rear Admiral Ali Fadavi told the Fars news  agency in December that the drone had conducted several  reconnaissance flights  over the Gulf in recent days.

Rear Adm Fadavi said that ‘such drones are  usually launched from large warships.

Shockwaves: Claims that the Iranian Arms had managed to create its own squadron of drones based on technology copied from a 'downed' U.S. spy plane is likely to cause acute embarrassment for the Americans 

Shockwaves: Claims that the Iranian Arms had managed to  create its own squadron of drones based on technology copied from a ‘downed’  U.S. spy plane is likely to cause acute embarrassment for the  Americans

At the time, a spokesman for U.S. Naval  Forces Central Command in Bahrain said the U.S. Navy had no record of any  recently lost ScanEagles.

A month before this claimed downing of the  drone, the U.S. said Iranian warplanes had shot at a its surveillance drone  flying in international airspace. Iran said the aircraft had entered its  airspace.

A year ago, Iranian TV broadcast pictures of  an American RQ-170 Sentinel surveillance drone that Iran said had been brought  down using electronic warfare. The US said it had malfunctioned.

Iran rejected a U.S. call for the return of  the drone. It subsequently claimed to have developed its own unmanned  drone.

Washington and Tehran are engaged in a  dispute over Tehran’s nuclear programme.

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World’s tea producers brew up a plan to raise prices : Global tea cartel formed to boost profits and control supply

AFP Wednesday, Jan 23, 2013

COLOMBO – The price of a cup of tea could rise after the world’s biggest producers agreed to join forces to boost profits, a Sri Lankan minister announced Wednesday.

After two days of talks in Colombo between Sri Lanka, India, Kenya, Indonesia, Malawi and Rwanda, which account for more than 50 per cent of global production, the nations announced the formation of the International Tea Producers’ Forum.

Sri Lanka’s Plantations Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe said exporting nations had been trying to establish a forum for 80 years. “In that context, what we have just achieved is a historic land mark in the tea industry,” he said.

Efforts will initially focus on sharing knowledge and boosting demand for tea to raise prices, but he suggested more sophisticated – and controversial – methods such as supply controls would be raised in the future.

Production quotas “are not part of the objectives listed in the constitution, but I am sure these are matters which will be discussed some time in the future,” he added.

In 1994, Colombo proposed a tea cartel on the lines of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), the crude oil cartel dominated by Saudi Arabia, but there was no unity among producing nations at the time.

“Price stability is one of the objectives to improve the livelihoods of tea small holders (farmers owning small plots of tea),” he said. “Another objective is to ensure high quality standards.”

Samarasinghe explained that unity among producers was “very important from a variety of aspects like foreign exchange earnings, income generation, employment opportunities and several other very useful aspects.”

Global tea prices are around US$2.5 (S$3.06) a kilo, down from about US$2.84 a year earlier, while world-wide consumption is set to rise marginally over one per cent this year, Sri Lanka tea officials said.

Sri Lanka’s tea promotion chief Janaki Kuruppu said prices were much lower compared to other beverages and noted there was room to increase the price of a cup of tea.

“People can pay a little more for tea,” Kuruppu said. “In Sri Lanka, tea is cheaper than bottled water.”

China and Iran, two of the big consumer nations, have been invited to be observers to the Forum. China is also the world’s biggest producer of green tea.

Provocation against Russia being prepared in Syria

Alexei Lyakhov, Konstantin Garibov 

Jan 11, 2013 17:59 Moscow Time



сирия война сирия алеппо разрушения

Photo: EPA

In separate interviews with the Voice of Russia broadcast on Thursday, a host of experts mentioned a new round of information warfare against Bashar Assad and a possible new provocation against Russia.

They commented on information about Western and Middle Eastern special services recruiting a group of those who have Slavic features to play a role of Russian “mercenaries” allegedly captured by Syrian opposition fighters.

Russian media quoted a well-informed anonymous source as saying that “actors” are being selected in Russia, Belarus and Ukraine. They all must handle guns and be in the know about anti-aircraft systems. According to a script, they should recognize their being recruited by Russian special services with the aim of supporting the army of Bashar Assad. Also, they ought to say that they have allegedly been delivered to Syria by warships.

According to the source, all this will be filmed in Turkey or Jordan, where fake demolished Syrian towns have already been built in the form of large-scale theatrical scenery.

Sergei Demidenko of the Institute of Strategic Assessments and Analysis in Moscow singles out similar ghost towns that were built in Qatar and Saudi Arabia to discredit the regime of Muammar Gaddafi.

“According to Goebbels, if you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it, Demidenko says. As for the above-mentioned provocation, it aims to provoke an international uproar by creating an image of the wicked Syrian regime only supported by Russia and Iran. Those staging the provocation want to show that but for this support, the Assad regime could have long been ousted.”

The goal of video clips about Russian “mercenaries” in Syria is to save face of those who is backing the Syrian opposition’s fight against Bashar Assad, says Semyon Bagdasarov of the Moscow-based Center for Analytical Studies.

“It is open secret that the Free Syrian Army and other military groups include citizens of Libya, Afghanistan, Turkey and Saudi Arabia, Bagdasarov says. As for the video clip, its aims to discredit Russia’s position and show that Russians take part in hostilities in Syria. This is an information warfare which is planned by the United States, Turkey and other countries.”

Confidential information about the planned provocation against Damascus and Moscow coincided with the beginning of talks on Syria in Geneva, where UN-Arab League special envoy Lakhdar Brahimi meets a group of Russian and US diplomats. Earlier, Moscow confirmed its readiness to cooperate with Western and Middle Eastern partners to effectively contribute to resolving the Syrian crisis. In this regard, the possible new provocation against Russia will hardly help implement this task.


Saudi jets ‘join US strikes against al-Qaeda in Yemen’

    Saudi Arabia said to have secretly joined America’s  ‘undeclared aerial war’ against terrorists in Yemen

LAST UPDATED AT  09:44 ON Fri 4 Jan 2013

JETS from the Saudi Arabian air force have joined US forces in missions  designed to eliminate al-Qaeda militants in Yemen, raising questions about  America’s “expanding programme of targeted killings”, reports The Times.

Covert air strikes against targets in Yemen tripled last year and outnumbered  similar attacks in Pakistan for the first time. The paper says the activity is  stark evidence that the US has abandoned its “kill or capture” policy and  adopted targeted killings because the legal issues created by the arrest or  detention of hostile combatants had become “too onerous”. Yemen has become a  “template” for the elimination of militant threats worldwide, it says.

The death toll from the surgical strikes by US and Saudi jets in Yemen may be  as high as 228 people, the Times says. Some of the attacks which have been  described as “drone strikes” are actually missions carried out by Saudi  aircraft.

The US is able to operate in Yemen with relative ease because the country’s  president, Abd-Rabbu Mansour, is co-operative and “officially claims  responsibility” for every drone strike that occurs in his territory. However,  Mansour has not admitted publicly that some of the strikes are being carried  out, not by the US, but the Saudis.

Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), the branch active in Yemen, is  regarded as one of the terrorist organisation’s most deadly wings, says American Thinker. AQAP has offered a reward of $160,000 in  gold to anyone who kills America’s ambassador to Yemen or any US soldier  stationed in the country.

Drone attacks in the region are continuing unabated according to reports. An  AQAP commander and two fighters were killed in the central Yemen province of  Baydah yesterday by the first drone strike of year, says Longwarjournal. ·

Read more:

Saudi Aramco: Foreign hackers tried to cork our gas output


Worm outbreak targeted oil giant’s sensitive machinery

By John Leyden

Posted in Security, 10th December 2012 14:56 GMT

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Hackers who used the Shamoon worm to attack oil giant Saudi Aramco were bent on halting its fuel production, according to the company and Saudi government officials.

The attack on Saudi Aramco — which supplies a tenth of the world’s oil — failed to disrupt oil or gas output even though it infected 30,000 computers [1] and crippled the national oil company’s electronic networks. In a press conference on Sunday, Saudi officials blamed unnamed foreign groups for orchestrating the digital assault.

Interior ministry spokesman General Mansour al-Turki said a joint investigation between the government and the oil giant concluded that an “organised group launched the attack from outside the kingdom and from different countries”, Saudi news agency Al Arabiya reported [2].

“It is in the interest of the investigation not to reveal any results,” he said, adding that “no Aramco employees or contractors were involved in the hacking.”

The New York Times reported [3] that al-Turki said the investigation was ongoing.

Abdullah al-Saadan, Aramco’s vice president for corporate planning, told Al Ekhbariya television: “The main target in this attack was to stop the flow of oil and gas to local and international markets and thank God they were not able to achieve their goals.”

Hacktivists from a group called Cutting Sword of Justice claimed responsibility for the cyber-attack, which was carried out in August. They claimed the assault allowed them to lift documents from Aramco’s computers, which they threatened to leak. But no information was subsequently published. The group said it had hacked Saudi Aramco in retaliation against the Al Saud regime. The miscreants accused the ruling royal family of interfering in the affairs of neighbouring countries, such as Syria and Bahrain.

Shamoon infected workstations at Saudi Aramco on 15 August [4], forcing the oil giant to shut down its internal network to contain the spread of the malware while it ran a cleanup operation. Normal access to systems was restored 10 days later.

The malware can wipe files to hobble an infected machine and destroy data. Shamoon was also linked to a virus attack [5] against Qatari gas giant RasGas at the end of August.

Security researchers at Kaspersky Labs have taken apart the malware. Dmitry Tarakanov concluded that controversial features, such as planting the image of a burning US flag on compromised PCs, and programming mistakes suggested the malware is likely the work of amateurs than intelligence agencies. Coding errors in Shamoon prevented it from downloading and running any other malicious code during the outbreaks. ®

All expenses paid: the full scale of MPs’ lavish globetrotting revealed


Special Investigation: Hundreds of politicians have each accepted thousands of pounds worth of trips to exotic locations. So what do their hosts want in return?


Oliver Wright, Matthew Macaulay

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Backbench MPs have gone on more than £1.5m of trips with all expenses paid by foreign governments, pressure groups and companies in little over two years, The Independent can reveal. Several MPs have spent months out of the country on foreign trips, sometimes while Parliament is sitting, while many of those funding the visits have a vested interest in lobbying MPs.

After the trips, a significant number of MPs have made speeches in the House of Commons supporting the political positions of the governments and countries they have visited.

The Independent’s analysis reveals that 242 MPs have declared “fact-finding missions” and visits worth an average £6,500 to countries including Sri Lanka, China and former Soviet States since the last election.

The highest-claiming MPs include the former Labour Foreign Secretary David Miliband who, since losing the Labour leadership to his brother, has gone on 14 foreign trips costing £47,600 and taking up 47 days – mainly to give speeches and attend conferences.

The foreign trips taken by Mr Miliband, who declared in the aftermath of his leadership defeat that “South Shields comes first”, have helped him to earn £400,000 in addition to his MPs salary.

The findings show that:

* One in five Conservative backbench MPs had been taken on trips to Israel and Palestine since 2010 – the majority paid for by pro-Israeli lobbying groups. In total 79 MPs have been funded to visit the region at an approximate cost to their hosts of more than £130,000.

* Saudi Arabia paid £36,000 to take 12 MPs on a four-day trip to Riyadh. MPs have also accepted £41,000 worth of trips to Azerbaijan.

* MPs have been on 36 visits to China and Hong Kong, 23 visits to India and 34 visits to the US since the general election, but only one MP has accepted a trip to Afghanistan and only two MPs have visited Belgium. Six MPs have been on trips to Australia, five to Brazil and three to the Cayman Islands.

The furore over Nadine Dorries’ trip to Queensland to participate in the television show I’m A Celebrity… has thrown a spotlight on MPs taking time away from their constituencies and Parliament.

Mark Hendrick, the Preston Labour MP who chairs the all-party China group, has spent over four months out of Britain since 2010, accepting seven foreign trips costing £43,211 – including a month learning Mandarin in Beijing.

Barry Gardiner, the MP for Brent North, has accepted £52,071 in foreign trips since the election, spending a total of 73 days out of the country as Vice-President of Globe International – an international group representing parliamentarians.

Andrew Rosindell, the Conservative MP for Romford, has accepted £25,000 worth of trips to the Cayman Islands, the Turks and Caicos Islands, Switzerland, Taiwan and Uzbekistan, among others.

The MPs defended the trips saying that they always tried to travel when Parliament was not sitting and the trips were an important way of fact-finding and building UK relationships abroad.

The Independent has also established that a significant number of other MPs have used knowledge gained on trips to ask questions and make speeches in the House of Commons often supporting the political positions of countries that they have visited.

The MPs concerned stressed that these statements are unconnected to the hospitality they received and point out that accepting foreign travel is one of the few ways for Parliamentarians to educate themselves on international issues.

But critics claim some of the trips are inevitably “one-sided” with MPs only seeing what their hosts want them to see.

The Conservative Bob Blackman, who was elected to Parliament as the MP for suburban Harrow East in 2010, has accepted two trips to the value of £6,600 to Azerbaijan paid for by the European Azerbaijan Society. The first visit took place at the end of May 2011, and a month later he secured a debate in Parliament on the country in which he described the country as “making tremendous strides as a democratic republic”.

Mr Blackman also backed Azerbaijan in its diplomatic stand-off with Armenia and called on the Government to increase its economic ties with the country. “The fact is that there is a great opportunity for Britain and its economy, for the promotion of jobs and for furthering British interests in the region,” he said. He made no mention of human rights in his speech despite the authorities in Azerbaijan being accused of arbitrary arrests, indefinite detentions and torture. In the 2012 Press Freedom Index, Azerbaijan ranked 162nd out of 179 nations. Other MPs raised human rights during the debate. Mr Blackman told The Independent that subsequent to his visit a human rights group had contacted him and he would be raising the subject with the Azerbaijani authorities on his next visit. But he defended accepting the trips and speaking about his experiences. “I think that one of the problems with MPs is that they speak before they see,” he said.

“Britain has a big investment in Azerbaijan and as the Minister acknowledged in the debate it was a aluable trip.” In another case, the Bournemouth MP Conor Burns, a Conservative, went on a £3,279 trip funded by the Bahraini Ministry of Foreign Affairs in October 2010 to observe elections in the country. Early the following year he was quoted as saying: “We were able to go anywhere we wanted and speak to anyone. Whilst not flawless, these elections are way ahead of anything else seen in the region.”

However a report from the international group Human Rights Watch documented allegations that in the run-up to the elections the Bahraini government detained prominent opposition activists on terrorism charges, closed publications and websites, and intimidated civil society activists.

“What we are seeing in Bahrain these days is a return to full-blown authoritarianism,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director, that October. Mr Burns could not be contacted for comment.

In another instance, earlier this year Labour’s Grahame Morris, the MP for Easington in County Durham, travelled to Venezuela courtesy of the President of the National Electoral Council.

Two months later he asked the Foreign Secretary William Hague in the House of Commons: “Given that Venezuela has held more elections than nearly any other country in the world in recent years, and that these have been independently verified as free and fair by international bodies, will the Foreign Secretary join me in calling for all parties in Venezuela, including the Opposition, to recognise the outcome of October’s presidential elections, whatever the result may be?”

In the question he did not mention his trip or the funding of it – although this is not currently required under Parliamentary rules. In some previous elections Venezuela has not invited international election observers into the country and anomalies have been claimed, especially in the 2004 referendum to recall President Chavez. Mr Morris said that an Independent columnist had been on a similar trip to Venezuela and had written about it.

The Conservative MP for Shrewsbury, Daniel Kawczynski, visited Saudi Arabia accepting hospitality costing £3,025 in December 2011. Later he said: “I think we have a Guardian-reading liberal elite who want to denigrate Saudi Arabia at every opportunity. The BBC, with its left-wing bias and determination not to report anything positive from Saudi Arabia, also contributes to the extraordinary drip, drip effect of negative press that it gets in this country.”

Mr Kawczynski also received flights and accommodation worth £3,220 from a lobbying group for the Mauritanian fishing industry, Industrie de Peche & Representation, for a trip to the country in June 2011.

Later in the House of Commons he said: “On a recent visit to the country, as well as meeting politicians I spent a little time standing on the coast, watching the fishermen bring in their fish. It was quite extraordinarily difficult for them to drag their small boats on to the sand to get their catch.

“Many promises that the EU made…have not been fulfilled. One was that a pier or jetty would be built… but that has still not been put in place. I very much hope that [the minister] will use his good offices to find out what the European Union’s promise of assistance was to the local fishermen, and that he will do everything he possibly can to help them.”

Mr Kawczynski told The Independent that both visits were aimed at improving relations and trade with Britain and that that his point about the Mauritania fishing industry was not one that would have helped his hosts – but unrepresented fisherman. He added that he was proud to be the first British MP in recent times to visit the country.

On Saudi Arabia Mr Kawczynski said he had always been a supporter of the country and the trip had in no way influenced his views: “What saddens me is the perception of conflicts of interests even when there is none. Sadly there is no government money to fund these trips even when they are important economic trading partners so the only way to go, meet senior government officials and build relations is if they pay.”

Sir Alistair Graham, the former chairman of the Committee on Standards in Public Life, said it was important that MPs did not become “little Englanders” but that “serial” trip takers needed to be looked at.

“My worry is when you have MPs taking large numbers of trips they give the impression that they are taking every freebie that is around. And that, I fear, would have to come at the expense of their constituents.

“Then there is the question of MPs who have been on trips then using their Parliamentary position to push the Government to back a particular policy. That to me is cause of legitimate concern.”

Tamasin Cave, of the transparency group Spinwatch, added: “These freebies almost make Nadine’s trip to the jungle look well-judged. At least we can see what she’s up to. MPs do need knowledge of other countries but the list of states that feel the need to court politicians includes many with dubious reputations. This is not a new game. London-based PR firms have for years laundered the reputations of countries with dreadful human rights records, but MPs should not be drawn into this. Let’s hope they spend as much time talking to pro-democracy and opposition groups from those countries.”

A spokesman for David Miliband said a number of his visits were over weekends or during Parliamentary recesses so he only missed 13 sitting days from Parliament. He added: “South Shields comes first – any outside activities are fitted around Parliamentary commitments.”

Mr Hendrick said that all his visits were of a political and economic nature and took place mainly when Parliament was in recess. “As Chairman of the All Party China Group, I thought it was extremely important to stay in contact with the political and economic developments in China through regular contact with Chinese political leaders and their business counterparts at a time when China is emerging as the second largest economy in the world and has now become a political super power,” he said.

Mr Rosindell said that part of his declaration was a £5,000 upgrade on a Virgin flight to the Turks & Caicos Islands. He stressed that all of his overseas visits were entirely for work connected with his parliamentary duties and responsibilities. “I am a member of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee,” he said. I can fully justify every visit made.”

Mr Gardiner could not be contacted for comment.

Tomorrow: ‘I am not the Sri Lankan government’s cheerleader…’

The Saudis are bulldozing Islam’s heritage. Why the silence from the Muslim world?


By WorldLast updated:  November 2nd, 2012


Modern Mecca, courtesy of the House of Saud (Photo: AFP/Getty)

From Saturday’s Daily Telegraph

Imagine that the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem – the traditional site of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus – has been taken over by Cromwellian Puritans. The new owners of the shrine plan to send bulldozers in, replacing the old church with a monstrous building resembling a concrete spaceship. This is so pilgrims can pray without being distracted by “superstitious” icons. Also, the Old City will be buried under hotels that make Vegas look like Venice.

It wouldn’t happen, would it? Christians would fight to the death to preserve Jerusalem. So would Jews and Muslims. And, for once, they’d have the support of secular politicians and scholars, horrified by the prospect of an act of cultural vandalism unprecedented in modern times.

Unprecedented until now, that is. The long-cherished ambition of Saudi Arabia’s ruling Wahhabi sect to smash up the ancient buildings of Mecca and Medina is nearing fruition.

In Mecca, the house of one of Mohammed’s wives has been demolished to make space for public lavatories. His birthplace may disappear, too, as part of King Abdullah’s scheme to complement the skyscrapers and shopping malls with a Grand Mosque fashioned from the same materials as a multi-storey car park in Wolverhampton.

As for Islam’s second holiest place, the city of Medina, a recent article by Jerome Taylor in the Independent revealed a megalomaniac plan to pull down three 7th-century mosques. Taylor added: “Ten years ago, a mosque which belonged to the Prophet’s grandson was dynamited. Pictures of the demolition that were secretly taken and smuggled out of the kingdom showed the religious police celebrating.”

Only a small minority of the world’s billion Muslims are Wahhabis, despite the tens of billions of petrodollars spent by the Saudis propagating their creed. (Bosnia, for example, is now littered with Saudi-style mosques, replacing the graceful Ottoman architecture that Wahhabis detest.) Many pilgrims to Mecca are revolted by the marriage of Puritanism and greed they find there. Yet protests are scattered and muted. Why?

One answer is that the House of Saud, though widely hated, is also feared: its wealth and terrorist connections make it unlikely that, say, a Pakistani politician would speak openly about the desecration of the Hajj.

The West can hardly complain about such gutlessness: this year’s Hajj exhibition at the British Museum was creepily sanitised – no mention of bulldozers or the 2,000ft clock tower built right next to the Kaaba, the black cube-shaped building that is the centrepiece of Islamic devotions.

But what sticks in the craw is the hypocrisy of Muslims who throw a fit if Israeli archaeologists carry out non-intrusive work underneath the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem, “Islam’s third holiest place”, as we’re constantly reminded. Such anger would be more convincing if the first and second holy sites weren’t being ploughed up by a police state. Likewise, are cartoons of Mohammed really more offensive than reducing the remains of his life to rubble?

As one Middle East expert put it to me: “Jews disturbing the Dome of the Rock fits into an anti-Western narrative, so Muslims can cope with that. The Saudi destruction of Mecca doesn’t fit into that narrative, and so there’s virtual silence.” Something worth bearing in mind, perhaps, when you wonder why the murder of Muslims by Muslims in Darfur or Syria provokes only limited outrage in the Islamic world.

Polly’s praise has a hollow ring

Dear Polly Toynbee was in such a tizzy over the EU in yesterday’s Guardian, trying to reconcile her support for Labour’s new line with her ferocious Europhilia. I’ll spare you the details of her contortions, except to say that she ended up by praising the one Blairite minister who had been properly “tireless” in his support of the European Union: Denis MacShane. That’s the same Denis MacShane MP who resigned yesterday after being found guilty of tirelessly submitting 19 false invoices for “research and translation” services. As Polly says, a man truly in communion with the spirit of Brussels.

Vicars with a satanic side

“An ex-Satanist returns to the Catholic Church,” read a headline on a US website this week. Alas, it was just about some woman who’d given up astrology, surely the realm of the feeble-minded rather than of Devil-worshippers.

As it happens, I do know a Christian who used to be a Satanist punk rocker. He’s now an Anglican vicar and a jolly good one, so I won’t embarrass him by naming him.

Mention of Satan and vicars always reminds me of “The Daemons”, my favourite Jon Pertwee Doctor Who story, in which Roger Delgado’s Master poses as the Rev Mr Magister.

He strikes me as your typical Low Church country parson – until, that is, he retires to the crypt to conduct black magic rubrics with distinctly Anglo-Catholic flamboyance.

A sorry state of affairs

Here’s a contender for most humiliating apology of the year: a 540-word mea culpa issued to Lord Ashcroft by Dr Éoin Clarke, whose boring and sanctimonious blog “The Green Benches” is devoted to exposing the wickedness of Conservative health policy. Dr Clarke has been forced to say sorry on five separate counts, including wrongly suggesting that Ashcroft donated money to the Tory party in order to increase the use of agency staff in the NHS.

Incidentally, we’re not talking about a GP blogger who was too busy to check his facts. The only house calls Dr Clarke is qualified to make are to people urgently seeking info on Irish women’s history, the subject of his PhD. As I’ve noted before, Clarke is so proud of his doctorate that he even calls himself “@DrEoinClarke” on Twitter. Bless.

Incidentally, how do you pronounce his name? Says my Gaelic expert: “It’s basically ‘Eeyore’, but with just a hint of the click sound made by Xhosa tribesmen.”

The plot thickens

How very, very odd. We learnt this week that the Slimming World All-Party Parliamentary Group, which allows Westminster politicians to discuss “weight management”, is being wound up. The reason given: a fall in membership. Hmm. Call me a conspiracy theorist, but why have the numbers dropped off since 2010? Might it be politically disadvantageous, shall we say, for an ambitious Tory MP to show too much interest in the subject of double chins?

I seek out my Deep Throat in the Downing Street kitchens. At the mention of the words “Slimming World” she raises a knowing eyebrow. “You’ll have to do your own research,” she says. “All I can tell you is: follow the custard.”


U.S. set to overtake Saudi Arabia as world’s biggest oil producer following boom in output

  • U.S. production to rise 7  per cent this year to nearly 11 million barrels a day
  • Could reach 11.4 million  barrels a day in 2013 – rivalling Saudi oil output
  • Boom caused by high oil  prices and new drilling techniques

By Sam Adams

PUBLISHED:08:01 EST, 24  October 2012| UPDATED:11:11 EST, 24 October 2012

The United States’ oil output is surging so  fast that the country could soon overtake Saudi Arabia as the world’s biggest  producer.

Driven by high prices and new drilling  methods, U.S. production of crude and other liquid hydrocarbons is on track to  rise seven per cent this year to an average of 10.9 million barrels a day.

This will be the fourth straight year of  crude increases and the biggest single-year gain since 1951.

On the up: The US is set to become the world's biggest oil producer following a recent boom in outputOn the up: The U.S. is set to become the world’s biggest  oil producer following a recent boom in output

The boom has surprised even the experts.

‘Five years ago, if I or anyone had predicted  today’s production growth, people would have thought we were crazy,’ says Jim  Burkhard, head of oil markets research at IHS CERA, an energy consulting firm.

The Energy Department forecasts that US  production of crude oil and other liquid hydrocarbons, which includes biofuels,  will average 11.4 million barrels per day next year.

That would be a record for the U.S. and just  below Saudi Arabia’s output of 11.6 million barrels.

Citibank forecasts US production could reach  13 million to 15 million barrels per day by 2020, helping to make North America  ‘the new Middle East.’

The last year the US was the world’s largest  producer was 2002, after the Saudis drastically cut production because of low  oil prices in the aftermath of 9/11.

Cost: The oil boom is, however, not expected to ease the cost of gasoline for hard-pressed US motoristsCost: The oil boom is, however, not expected to ease the  cost of gasoline for hard-pressed U.S. motorists

Rise in US oil productionBoom: US oil production has increased for four years in  a row and is expected to rise to 11.4 million barrels a day in 2013. On current  trends it could soon overtake Saudi Arabia’s output

Since then, the Saudis and the Russians have  been the world leaders.

Americans currently use around 18.7 million  barrels per day – but thanks to the growth in domestic production and the  improving fuel efficiency of the nation’s cars and trucks, imports could fall by  half by the end of the decade.

The increase in production has not translated  to cheaper gasoline at the pump, and prices are expected to stay relatively high  for the next few years because of growing demand for oil in developing nations  and political instability in the Middle East and North Africa.

Still, producing more oil domestically, and  importing less, gives the economy a significant boost.

Increased drilling is driving economic growth  in states such as North Dakota, Oklahoma, Wyoming, Montana and Texas, all of  which have unemployment rates far below the national average.

‘It’s the most important  change to the economy since the advent of personal computers pushed up  productivity in the 1990s’

– Philip Verleger, Peterson Institute of  International Economics

Businesses that serve the oil industry, such  as steel companies that supply drilling pipe and railroads that transport oil,  are not the only ones benefiting from the boom in production.

Homebuilders, auto dealers and retailers in  energy-producing states are also getting a lift.

The oil and gas drilling boom, which already  supports 1.7 million jobs, is expected to lead to the creation of 1.3 million  jobs across the U.S. economy by the end of the decade.

‘It’s the most important change to the  economy since the advent of personal computers pushed up productivity in the  1990s,’ says economist Philip Verleger, a visiting fellow at the Peterson  Institute of International Economics.

The major factor driving domestic production  higher is a new found ability to squeeze oil out of rock once thought too  difficult and expensive to tap.

Engineers have learned how to drill  horizontally into long, thin seams of shale and other rock that holds oil,  instead of searching for rare underground pools of hydrocarbons that have  accumulated over millions of years.

Competition: Saudi Arabia and Russia have led world oil production in recent years (file picture)Competition: Saudi Arabia and Russia have led world oil  production in recent years (file picture)

To free the oil and gas from the rock,  drillers crack it open by pumping water, sand and chemicals into the ground at  high pressure, in a process known as hydraulic fracturing, or  ‘fracking.’

The US oil boom has also  been influenced by a long period of high oil prices and the recovery of production in the Gulf of Mexico  following the 2010 BP well disaster and oil spill.

The most prolific of the new shale formations  are in North Dakota and Texas. Activity is also rising in Oklahoma, Colorado,  Ohio and other states.

Production from shale formations is expected  to grow from 1.6 million barrels per day this year to 4.2 million barrels per  day by 2020.

That means these new formations will yield  more oil by 2020 than major oil suppliers such as Iran and Canada produce today.

From 1986 to 2008, crude production in the US  fell every year but one – dropping by 44 percent over that period. The United  States imported nearly 60 percent of the oil it burned in 2006.

By the end of this year, US crude output will  be at its highest level since 1998 and oil imports will be lower than at any  time since 1992, at 41 percent of consumption.

Whether the US supplants Saudi Arabia as the  world’s biggest producer will depend on the price of oil and Saudi production in  the years ahead.

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Is Syria’s regime spreading turbulence as a survival tactic?

By stoking conflict in Lebanon and elsewhere Assad is raising the price neighbouring countries must pay for his overthrow, Monday 22 October 2012 11.12 EDT


A general view shows the funeral process

The funeral procession of Lebanon’s assassinated  intelligence chief General Wissam al-Hassan, in Martyrs’ square, in Beirut. Photograph: -/AFP/Getty Images

The assassination of the Lebanese intelligence chief, General Wissam al-Hassan, has stoked fears that the Syrian regime, with its back to the wall, is deliberately trying to “internationalise” the civil war as a means of ensuring its survival.

President Bashar al-Assad is effectively raising the price that hostile neighbouring countries and the major powers must pay for his overthrow, by actively fuelling the region-wide conflagration that UN envoy Lakhdar Brahimi says could be sparked by unchecked violence inside Syria.

The potential cost in Lebanon became clearer at the weekend after the Beirut assassination. Sunni Muslim and Christian groups opposed to Syria’s Alawite regime and Lebanon’s pro-Syrian government took to the streets. Hezbollah, the Iranian-backed Shia movement that is Lebanon’s most powerful military force, is widely blamed for Hassan’s death.

Saudi Arabia and western allies such as the US and France have invested much time and trouble trying to ensure politically fragile Lebanon does not return to sectarian warfare. The murder in 2005 of the country’s prime minister, Rafik al-Hariri, also blamed on Assad, was a setback for Syrian influence there. But Hassan’s killing is a reminder that Damascus still has the ability to fatally destabilise its one-time satrap.

“The murder of Hassan, a Sunni, who was killed by a car bomb on Friday, was yet another indication that the Syrian conflict is starting to spill into Lebanon,” wrote Amos Harel and Avi Issacharoff in Haaretz. “Lebanese politicians and commentators … all agree on one thing: that Lebanon is being pulled into the Syrian turbulence, and that the chances of a civil war being reignited on Lebanese soil is greater now than at any time since Hariri was murdered.”

The Syrian regime has already impressed on Turkey how big a price Ankara may have to pay for its departure, which Turkish leaders have been demanding with ever greater vehemence since bilateral relations imploded last year.

A series of incidents along the two countries’ shared 900km border culminated this month in days of artillery exchanges after Syrian army units shelled a town inside Turkey, killing five civilians. Damascus claimed the initial shelling was an accident. In an interview with the Guardian last week, Ahmet Davutoglu, Turkey’s foreign minister, asked why, if that was the case, the Syrian units kept on firing?

Turkish officials also suspect Assad is using the ever-increasing flow of refugees into Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan as an indirect way of applying pressure on his enemies. Davutoglu fears a humanitarian catastrophe this winter if nothing changes – and wants an international response. There are already 150,000 displaced Syrians on Turkish soil.

“We hope the US and other countries will have a firmer position regarding the humanitarian disaster that is threatening regional stability … I agree with Brahimi, we have a great concern this could set the region ablaze. All the neighbouring countries will be affected,” Davutoglu said.

Turkey furnishes another example of how Assad is deliberately internationalising the conflict. Officials say Syria is aiding and abetting Iraq-based Kurdistan Workers’ party (PKK) separatist fighters, whose campaign of violence inside Turkey has reached a 10-year high this year, in retaliation for Turkish support for the Syrian opposition. Assad’s crude message to Ankara: back off, or face escalating strife at home.

Similar calculations may lay behind the reportedly reduced enthusiasm in Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states for arming Syria’s rebels. Damascus’s claim that the arms are going to hardline Salafist groups linked to al-Qaida, as happened when the west armed Afghanistan’s mujahideen in the 1980s, have rung alarm bells in Washington.

If there is one thing the US hates more than a bloodthirsty dictator, it is the thought he might be replaced by crazed jihadis pledged to wage war on the west. Seen this way, Assad’s survival might be judged the lesser of two evils.

In many respects, the Syrian war is already “internationalised”. The US and its European and Gulf allies have lined up behind the Syrian opposition, and are helping it to varying degrees.

Russia and its old-new Middle East ally, post-occupation Iraq led by Shia prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, are firmly in Assad’s camp, for a variety of geostrategic (read anti-American) reasons.

And behind Assad stands Iran, determined to sustain its principal Arab ally, eager (as ever) to thwart the Sunni monarchies of the Gulf and their American friends, and fearful that an Arab spring success in Syria would leave the authoritarian Tehran regime in the cross-hairs.

If Assad falls, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and the mullahs would be next. True or not, that is what Iran’s clerical leadership believes. Given the ever-present possibility of an Israeli or American military strike, a region-wide war holds no terrors for them.

By constantly raising the stakes for all concerned, Assad hopes he can somehow cling to power – or take everyone down with him.


Dead Kadhafi son linked to French Riviera prostitution ring

21 Oct 2012

A hearing opens in a French court Monday in a case involving a high-end prostitution ring that was active during the Cannes Film Festival and possibly had ties to a son of slain Libyan dictator Moamer Kadhafi.

Seven men and a woman will go on trial in the southern French port city of Marseille, though the chief figures in the case — a group of Lebanese businessmen — are on the run.

An investigation launched in 2007 by an anti-trafficking agency found ties between one of the businessmen and one of Kadhafi’s sons, Mutassim, who was killed with his father on October 20 last year. Investigators never questioned the son.

“Those really responsible are absent or have fled,” said Franck De Vita, the lawyer for an alleged escort girl charged in the case.

“You might wonder, at the very least, why Mr Kadhafi was not interrogated when you know about his links with Elie Nahas”, the lawyer added, referring to a Lebanese who claimed to run a modelling agency employing young women recruited in South America, France and eastern Europe.

According to Patrick Rizzo, lawyer for an anti-procuring charity that is a civil party to the trial, it was “the political context” in 2007 and 2008 that hampered the legal investigation.

“Colonel Kadhafi was received at the Elysee (French presidential palace) at the time, he was France’s good friend,” Rizzo said.

“All this context did not favour international investigations.”

The inquiry established that young women of various nationalities including models, beauty queens and escort girls, were recruited, especially during the Cannes film festival for clients from the Middle East, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait ready to pay thousands of dollars for their services.


Long-term L-carnitine supplementation prevents development of liver cancer

2009 study posted for filing

Contact: Lin Tian
World Journal of Gastroenterology

A study will be published on March 21, 2009 in World Journal of Gastroenterology addresses the question. A research group in King Saud University, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia investigated, for the first time, the role of carnitine, a naturally occurring compound that is synthesized mainly in the liver, during the development of hepatocarcinogenesis. Authors of the study reported that carnitine deficiency is a risk factor and should be viewed as a mechanism in hepatic carcinogenesis, and that long-term L-carnitine supplementation prevents the development of liver cancer. Therefore, carnitine supplementation alone or in combination with other natural chemopreventive compounds could be used to prevent, slow or reverse the occurrence of liver cancer.

Chemoprevention is defined as the use of naturally occurring and/or synthetic compounds in cancer therapy in which the occurrence of cancer can be entirely prevented, slowed or reversed. L-carnitine is a naturally occurring compound which is primarily located in mitochondria and possesses potential protective effects against many mitochondrial toxic agents. It is derived from two sources; endogenous synthesis, in the liver and kidney, and from exogenous dietary sources such as red meat and dairy products. L-carnitine is an essential cofactor for the translocation of long chain fatty acids from the cytoplasmic compartment into mitochondria, where beta-oxidation enzymes are located for ATP production. Despite the liver being the main organ responsible for endogenous synthesis of L-carnitine, we were unable to find any studies investigating the role of long-term endogenous carnitine depletion and/or carnitine deficiency during induction of hepatic carcinogenesis.

The research team by Professor Sayed-Ahmed from College of Pharmacy, King Saud University used an experimental model of hepatocarcinogenesis under conditions of carnitine depletion and carnitine supplementation.

In the carnitine-depleted rat model, there were a progressive increase in the activities of liver enzymes as well as massive degenerative changes and evidence of pre-neoplastic lesions in liver tissues including clusters of hepatocytes with atypia and an increased proliferative rate, diffuse bridging fibrosis and nodule formation, bile ducts with marked reactive atypia showing nuclear enlargement, high nuclear/cytoplasmic ratio and prominent nucleoli. Interestingly, L-carnitine supplementation resulted in a complete reversal of the increase in liver enzymes compared to normal values, as well as normal liver histology with unremarkable central vein and no evidence of pre-neoplastic lesions in liver tissues.

Due to the fact that liver cancer is one of the major health problems in the world and a large sector of patients seek medical attention at a relatively late stage which increases the cost of treatment, King Saud University granted Prof. Sayed-Ahmed and his colleagues a research project with the following specific aims: (1) to understand the possible molecular mechanisms whereby carnitine deficiency provokes hepatic carcinogenesis. (2) to understand the relationship between hepatic cancer and its resistance to cancer chemotherapy, and (3) to gain knowledge on the possible mechanisms by which carnitine supplementation alone or in combination with other natural chemopreventive compounds could be used to prevent, slow or reverse the occurrence of liver cancer.




Reference: Al-Rejaie SS, Aleisa AM, Al-Yahya AA, Bakheet SA,Alsheikh A, Fatani AG, Al-Shabanah OA, Sayed-Ahmed MM. Progression of diethylnitrosamine-induced hepatic carcinogenesis in carnitine-depleted rats World J Gastroenterol 2009; 15(11): 1373-1380

Correspondence to: Dr. Mohamed M Sayed-Ahmed, Department of Pharmacology, College of Pharmacy, King Saud University, PO Box 2457, Riyadh 11451, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. mmsayedahmed@hotmail.comTelephone: +966-506065734 Fax: +966-1-14677200


Anti-Islam film prompts Saudi call for net censorship body

Saudi Arabia has called for a new international body to censor the internet, in the wake of the anti-Islam YouTube clip that recently sparked violence in the Middle East.

The armed mob that stormed the US consulate in Benghazi, apparently killing the American ambassador, struck at a moment loaded with symbolism.

The US consulate in Benghazi in flames after the attack that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens Photo: REUTERS/Esam Al-Fetori

By , Technology Correspondent

3:45PM BST 11 Oct 2012

In a submission to forthcoming international talks on internet governance, the Gulf state said “there is a crying need for international collaboration to address ‘freedom of expression’ which clearly disregards public order”.

During the controversy over a 14-minute clip posted on YouTube and purportedly a trailer for a feature film called “The Innocence of Muslims”, Google resisted pressure, including from the White House, to remove it.

“This video – which is widely available on the web – is clearly within our guidelines and so will stay on YouTube,” Google said last month.

The Saudi government has now told the World Telecommunications Policy Forum, a UN body, that the incident was “an obvious example” of the need for greater international cooperation to restrict content online.

“Any reasonable person would know that this film would foment violence and, indeed, many innocent persons have died and been injured with this film as a root cause,” the Saudi submission said.

The amateurish clip, produced on tiny budget by Nakoula Nakoula, a 55-year-old Egyptian Coptic Christian resident in the United States, depicts the Prophet Mohammad as a fool and sexual deviant.

In the uproar surrounding it, there were violent protests in across the Middle East and North Africa, coinciding with an attack by extremists on the American Embassy in Benghazi. The Ambassador, Christopher Stevens, and three other officials were killed.

Following the attack Google did restrict access to “The Innocence of Muslims” clip in Egypt and Libya on account of “the very difficult situation”, but maintained its refusal to delete it. The governments of Afghanistan and Pakistan meanwhile ordered internet providers to completely cut off access to YouTube.

The Saudi government called for greater international cooperation to censor such material at the source, comparing it to outlawed content such as images of child abuse and malicious software.

“This behaviour, along with other malicious and criminal activities such as child pornography, identity theft, spam, denial of service attacks, and malware aimed at destroying or crippling businesses, inter alia, must be addressed by states in a collaborative and cooperative environment and strongly underscores the need for enhanced cooperation,” it said.

The submission highlights increasing interest in internet governance discussions from nations that do not share Western liberal values, as access to and the influence of the web grows.

‘Bahrain buys favorable CNN content’

Engineering Evil : This is second confirmation on CNN becoming a propaganda venue for those willing to pay…. Keep in mind RT is the 2nd source, which I do not feel comfortable with yet. (Which is EE’s personal prejudice )

Prior link is from the Guardian 04 Sep 2012

‘Bahrain buys favorable CNN content’

Amid a violent crackdown on a popular uprising, Bahrain paid CNN to get favorable coverage, says a former reporter who believes her documentary on the protests there was censored by the network.

­Former CNN journalist Amber Lyon made the documentary more than six months ago. It was aired domestically in the US, but never made it to CNN international, raising claims that the management pulled the plug on the story. RT spoke to Lyon to get the full story of what happened.

RT: You feel your documentary should have been aired internationally. Why?

Amber Lyon:I’ve created a lot of documentaries for CNN that didn’t air internationally. Most I feel should’ve been aired internationally because seasoned, decades-long employees have approached me after it wasn’t aired and told me this should’ve been aired on CNN International and told that they felt that something strange was going on and that I should investigate it. And that’s where it was uncovered that we felt that this documentary was censored, because Bahrain was actually a paying customer for CNN. Bahrain is paying CNN to create content that shows Bahrain in a favorable light. Even though CNN says its content is editorially independent Bahrain can affect that – what we’ve seen with that documentary not airing and also with the constant struggle I had at CNN to get Bahrain coverage, accurate coverage of the human rights abuses on-air while I was there.

RT: CNN prides itself as a bastion of excellent journalism and impartiality, but in this case have they let themselves down?

AL: What CNN is doing is they are essentially creating what some people have termed “infomercials for dictators.” And that’s the sponsored content that they are airing on CNN International that is actually being paid for by regimes and governments. And this violates every principle of journalistic ethics, because we’re supposed to be watchdogs on these governments. We are not supposed to allow them to be a paying customer as journalists. And that’s the issue here – that CNN is feeding, then, this propaganda to the public and not fairly disclosing to the public that this is sponsored content.

For example CNN has been doing these programs for Georgia, Kazakhstan, also as we said Bahrain. One of the programs that they aired for Bahrain was called Bahrain i-List and had a CNN reporter Richard Quest lie from Bahrain for one full week. He was live at the racetrack at one point. There were mentions on his page about pearl diving and all the happy sides of Bahrain. But hard to find were the actual accusations from the majority of the Bahrain people that this regime needs to get out and that this regime is abusing and torturing doctors and journalists. Also difficult to find [were] accurate, simple disclosures on the CNN site and on this video telling viewers that this video you’re watching on this news channel – the most trusted name in news – is being paid for by this regime.”

RT: You witnessed first-hand some heavy-handed tactics in Bahrain while you were making this report. Can you tell us about that?

AL:We were able to kind of dodge our minders and sneak into some of the villages and actually see these atrocities – patients who had run out of hospitals that were shot with birdshot, ambulance drivers who were beaten. And as we were heading back out of these villages we were violently detained by security forces in Bahrain. About 20 masked men with machine guns, who then tried to erase all the video that they found, and luckily my female producer and I were able to hide some discs in our bras and we were able to actually get out of the country with this content. You can imagine Bahrain’s surprise when we got back to the US and this content was airing on CNN, and right after that is when the phone calls started coming into the network complaining about me and trying to get my coverage off the air.

There is constant demonization of Syria, Iran and other countries on the US mainstream media, but similar atrocities are happening in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia and I think this is an overall really harmful to journalism [sic] theme of these mainstream outlets following in the steps of US government and kind of shadowing how the US government feel about these areas.

You are very hard-pressed to find criticizing [sic] going on of Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, but you just see it all day long, demonization of Iran and Syria. This is dangerous to the American public because they are not being given the accurate story and accurate picture of our foreign policy and what’s happening in these other countries, and I fear that we are starting to see a constant demonization of Iran on US networks in what appears to be a systematic matter. For many of us, journalistically, that are noticing this, we are fearing [that] we are going to head into Iraq Number Two, except this time it’s with Iran.

More than 1,000 Nigerian women stranded for fifth straight day at Saudi airport because they were not accompanied by men

By Agence France-Presse Thursday, September 27, 2012 7:13 EDT

Muslim pilgrims walk around the Kaaba in the Grand Mosque in Mecca (AFP_File, Fayez Nureldine)

More than 1,000 Nigerian women pilgrims remained stranded at a Saudi airport for a fifth straight day Thursday after being denied entry into the kingdom because they were not accompanied by men, an airport official confirmed.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, the official said the women have been denied entry because “they are not accompanied by a mahram (the statutory male companion),” adding that talks were continuing between Saudi and Nigerian officials.

The official said that the Nigerian consulate in Jeddah had offered to ensure the women’s return after the annual hajj pilgrimage, but Saudi immigration officials were “sticking to their position.”

The kingdom has yet to release a formal statement regarding the case.

The women had begun arriving at Jeddah airport on Sunday, a report by the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria, which oversees Nigerian participation in the pilgrimage, said.

“Upon enquiries by the reception team officials of the National Hajj Commission in the airport, they were told that the pilgrims were held back because of lack of mahram,” said the report, which was submitted to the Nigerian House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs.

About 171 of the women flew home to Nigeria on Wednesday, an official said.

Nigerian President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan set up a five-member team on Wednesday to negotiate with the Saudi authorities, an official statement said.

According to the report presented to the committee, Nigerian pilgrims’ welfare boards have in the past acted as “mahrams” and visas had been granted on that basis.

The report said that officials observed that flights which arrived at Medina airport were not subjected to such treatment. The report also claimed that “only Nigerian pilgrims” were affected by the policy.

Last year, nearly three million Muslim pilgrims performed the hajj, which represents one of the five pillars of Islam and must be performed at least once in a lifetime by all Muslims who are able to do so.

Roughly half of Nigeria’s 160 million people are Muslim.

World Health Organisation says has found new SARS-like virus

6:13pm EDT

By Kate Kelland

LONDON (Reuters) – A new virus belonging to the same family as the SARS virus that killed 800 people in 2002 has been identified in Britain in a man who had recently been in Saudi Arabia, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Sunday.

The United Nations health body, which issued a statement through its “global alert and response” system, said tests on the patient, a 49-year-old Qatari man, confirmed the presence of a new, or novel, coronavirus.

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses which includes the common cold and SARS.

“Given that this is a novel coronavirus, WHO is currently in the process of obtaining further information to determine the public health implications,” the statement said.

SARS, or Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, appeared in China in 2002 and killed some 800 people globally before being brought under control.

Peter Openshaw, director of the Centre for Respiratory Infection at Imperial College London, said at this stage the novel virus looked unlikely to prove a concern, and may well only have been identified due to sophisticated testing techniques.

“For now, I would be watchful but not immediately concerned,” he told Reuters.

The WHO said the Qatari patient had first presented to doctors on September 3, 2012 with symptoms of an acute respiratory infection.

On September 7, he was admitted to an intensive care unit in Doha, Qatar, and on September 11, he was transferred to Britain by air ambulance from Qatar.

“The Health Protection Agency of the UK conducted laboratory testing and has confirmed the presence of a novel coronavirus,” the WHO said.

It said scientists at the HPA compared gene sequences of the virus from the Qatari patient with samples of virus sequenced by Dutch scientists from lung tissue of a fatal case earlier this year in a 60-year-old Saudi national.

The two were almost identical, it said.

Openshaw said the fact the two cases found so far are apparently unrelated suggests “that what has been picked up is just some rare event that in past times might have been undiagnosed”.

But he added: “Any evidence of sustained human-to-human transmission or of contact would be more worrying, raising the worry that another SARS-like agent could be emerging.”

The WHO said it was not recommending any travel restrictions but would be seeking further information on the virus.

(Reporting by Kate Kelland; Editing by Sophie Hares)

US arms transfers to other countries nearly tripled last year: 2011 was the largest for a single year in the history of the arms export program

By Agence France-Presse
Tuesday, August 28, 2012 7:47 EDT

US arms transfers to other countries nearly tripled last year to $66.3 billion, giving America a market share of nearly 80 percent, government researchers said Monday.

The Congressional Research Service said the US figure for 2011 was the largest for a single year in the history of the arms export program.

While huge, the number may be something of a one off, as it includes a huge one-off deal with Saudi Arabia to the tune of $29.4 billion.

This features 84 F-15 fighter bombers, upgrades to its existing fleet of 70 such aircraft and the sale of 178 helicopters.

Despite a sluggish world economy, global arms sales nearly doubled in 2011 to $85.3 billion, the report said.

After the United States came Russia, with $4.8 billion in transfers, and then France, with $4.4 billion.

Besides Saudi Arabia, major US clients included the United Arab Emirates, Iraq, Oman, India and Thailand, the report added.