Iran says US will suffer if Syria is attacked

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Read Time:2 Minute, 37 Second

Supreme Leader Khamenei says West is using allegations of chemical weapons as pretext for attacking Syria.

Allegations that the Syrian regime used chemical weapons last month are a "pretext" by the West to attack the country, Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said.

Iran is Syria's main regional ally and has warned Western powers against intervening in the country's civil war, as the United States edges towards launching strikes against the Damascus regime.

Washington and its allies "are using the chemical weapon [allegation] as a pretext," and "are saying that they want to intervene for humanitarian reasons," Khamenei said on Thursday.

"The United States is wrong about Syria, and it is certain they will suffer… just like in Iraq and Afghanistan," Khamenei told members of the Assembly of Experts, the body that supervises his work.

Separately, the chief of Iran's elite Quds Force unit, Qassem Soleimani, said Tehran would back Syria "until the end" in the face of possible US-led military strikes.

Some analysts believe a wider goal of US President Barack Obama's determination to launch strikes is to blunt Tehran's growing regional influence and any consequent threat to Washington ally Israel.

"The aim of the United States is not to protect human rights… but to destroy the front of resistance [against Israel]," the Quds Force commander was quoted as saying by the media on Thursday.

"We will support Syria to the end," Soleimani added in his speech to the Assembly of Experts.

He did not elaborate on the nature of the support and Iran has constantly denied allegations by Western powers that it has sent military forces to prop up President Bashar al-Assad's embattled regime.

'Counsel and advice'

A year ago, the chief of Iran's Revolutionary Guards, Mohammad Ali Jafari, said members of the Quds Force foreign operations unit were in Syria to provide Assad's government with "counsel and advice".

Iran's Defence Minister Hossein Dehqan, meanwhile, ruled out sending troops or weapons to Syria.

"The Syrians do not need us to provide them with weapons because they have a defensive anti-aircraft system themselves," he was cited in the local media as saying.

President Hassan Rouhani said Iran will do "everything to prevent" an attack on the Syrian regime, according to extracts from statements published in the media.

"Any action against Syria is against the interests of the region but also against the friends of the United States in this region," he said.

"Such action will help nobody."

The US, France and other countries accuse Assad's forces of launching chemical weapons attacks on the outskirts of Damascus on August 21, which they say killed hundreds.

Obama is seeking congressional backing as well as broader international support for punitive strikes on Assad's regime.

Iran has previously warned that any military action against Syria risks sparking a broader regional conflagration.

Source: Agencies

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Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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Syria strike set to overshadow G20 summit

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Read Time:4 Minute, 12 Second

World leaders meet in St Petersburg amid sharp differences over possible US military action against Damascus

World leaders from G20 are meeting in St Petersburg, Russia, amid sharp differences over possible US military action against Syria, in response to what the US administration calls a deadly chemical weapons attack by the Syrian government.

Thursday's summit comes hours after a US Senate panel voted to give President Barack Obama authority to use military force against Syria – the first time lawmakers in that country have voted to allow military action since the October 2002 votes authorising the invasion of Iraq.

The US and Russia, which is a key Syrian ally, remain t odds as Obama has tried to build his case for military action. The US president has vowed to continue to try to persuade his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, of the need for punitive strikes against President Bashar al-Assad for using chemical weapons when the two meet in St Petersburg.

As Putin opened the summit, he spoke exclusively about the global economic crisis, which forms the primary agenda of the summit, stressing the need for co-ordinated international policy making in order to combat continuing volatility in economic markets.

He suggested that world leaders discuss the subject of Syria "during dinner" on Thursday night, so as not to take away from the summit's primary economic agenda.

 

Earlier, Putin had again questioned Western evidence justifying a military strike against Syria, accusing US Secretary of State John Kerry outright of lying when, in urging Congress to approve strikes, he played down the role of al-Qaeda in the rebel forces.

"Al-Qaeda units are the main military echelon, and they know this," Putin said. "He is lying and knows he is lying. It's sad."

Putin said US congressional approval without a UN Security Council resolution would be an act of aggression. He also told The Associated Press this week that he "does not exclude" supporting UN action – if it is proven that the Syrian government used poison gas on its own people.

Obama has previously stated that he is prepared to bypass the UN Security Council on the issue, but has put the matter to a Congressional vote. Members of the full US Senate are due to debate the matter next week.

The conflict in Syria, which began with a popular uprising in March 2011, has been stalemated, and it is not clear if US military strikes over the government's alleged chemical weapons use would change that. Obama has said he seeks limited pinpoint action to deter future chemical attacks, not regime change.

Economic and nuclear risks

Meanwhile, China has warned other world powers of global economic risks following the potential US strikes on Syria.

Speaking in St Petersburg ahead of the G20 summit on Thursday, Chinese Vice Finance Minister Zhu Guangyao said such "military action would definitely have a negative impact on the global economy, especially on the oil price".

He cited estimates that a $10 rise in oil prices could push down global growth by 0.25 percent.

He urged a negotiated UN solution to the standoff over allegations that Syria's government used chemical weapons against its own people, expressing hope that "the world economic balance will become more stable rather than more complex and more challenging."

Russia has also issued a warning that US strikes on Syria's atomic facilities might result in a nuclear catastrophe and is urging the UN to present a risk analysis of such a scenario. The issue will be brought up at a meeting of the 35-nation IAEA board next week, the Interfax news agency reported.

Little international support

Obama has been lobbying for international and domestic support for punishing Assad's regime, which the US says fired rockets loaded with the nerve agent sarin on rebel-held areas near Damascus before dawn on August 21, killing hundreds of civilians.

 
 

So far, however, he has won little international backing for action. The US has France's support for military action in Syria, but several other G20 powers, including China and Germany, have firmly voiced their
opposition.

Ben Rhodes, a senior Obama national security aide, said that the US would use the summit in St Petersburg to "explain our current thinking" to allies and partners and explore what type of "political and diplomatic support they may express for our efforts to hold Syrian regime accountable".

With pressure mounting on the G20 to make a decision regarding the conflict, the UN announced on Thursday that Lakhdar Brahimi, its special envoy to Syria, was travelling to St Petersburg to make a push for peace talks.

Walid Muallem, the Syrian foreign minister, is due in Moscow on Monday, after the summit has ended, for talks with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov.

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Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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Military action in Syria would be ‘an abuse of power’, says Jesuit General

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Read Time:5 Minute, 29 Second

The Jesuit General has accused the United States and France of an "abuse of power", in considering military action in Syria and says the Jesuits fully support Pope Francis' call for a day of prayer and fasting in support of peace this Saturday.

While he says he would not normally comment on international or political situations, Father General Adolfo Nicolás SJ says the current circumstances mean he cannot keep silent, stating: "I cannot understand who gave the United States or France the right to act against a country in a way that will certainly increase the suffering of the citizens of that country, who, by the way, have already suffered beyond measure."

Fr Nicolás outlines three fundamental problems. Firstly, an abuse of power which, he says, would be like "the big boy of the neighbourhood" abusing, harassing and bullying the weaker members of the community. Secondly, he expresses concern about the lack of concrete information about the use of chemical weapons in Syria. And he highlights in particular the impact that any military action by the US and France would have upon "the ordinary innocent and poor people" of Syria.

The Jesuit General says "the danger is now" and he echoes the Holy Father's call for a day of prayer and fasting for peace on 7 September. The full text of the extraordinary interview with him is given below.

Q. The Holy Father has gone out of the way to speak for Peace in Syria, which is now under threat of a new attack by the United States and France. What do you think in this regard?

R. It is not customary for me to make comments on situations that have to do with international or political situations. But in the present case we are dealing with a Humanitarian situation that exceeds all the limits that would ordinarily keep me silent. I have to confess that I cannot understand who gave the United States or France the right to act against a Country in a way that will certainly increase the suffering of the citizens of that country, who, by the way, have already suffered beyond measure. Violence and violent action, like what is being planned, have to always be the last resort and administered in such a way that only the guilty are affected. In the case of a Country this is evidently impossible to control and, thus, it seems to me totally unjustified. We, Jesuits, support 100% the Holy Father and wish with all our hearts that the threatened attack on Syria does not take place.

Q. But, hasn´t the world a responsibility to do something against those who abuse power against their own people, like a Government using chemical weapons in a conflict?

R. We have right here three different problems that it is important to state clearly. The first is that all abuse of power is to be condemned and rejected. And, with all respect for the people of the United States, I think that a military intervention like the one being planned is itself an abuse of power. The US has to stop acting and reacting like the big boy of the neighborhood of the world. This leads inevitably to abuse, harassment and bullying of the weaker members of the community.

The second is that if there has been use of chemical weapons we still have to probe in a way that is clear to the whole world that one party in the conflict and not the other has used them. It is not enough that some members of the punishing Government make a statement of conviction. They have to convince the world, so that the world can trust in them. This confidence does not happen today, and many have already started speculation about the ulterior motives that the USA may have in the projected intervention.

And the third, that the means considered adequate to punish the abuse do not harm the very victims of the original abuse, once it has been proved to exist. Past experience teaches us that this is practically impossible (even if we call the victims "collateral damage") and the results increase the suffering of the ordinary innocent and poor people. We all know that the great concern of the Wise Elders and Religious Founders of all traditions and cultures was "how to reduce human suffering?" It is very worrying that in the name of justice we plan an attack that will increase the suffering of the victims.

Q. Aren´t you particularly harsh on the United States?

R. I do not think so. I have no prejudice regarding this great Country and I have a few American Jesuits working with me whose opinions and services I value very highly. I have never entertained any negative feelings against the United States, a Country that I admire on many counts, including commitment, spirituality and thought. What disturbs me most now is that precisely this country I respect so much is at the point of doing such a terrible mistake. And something similar goes for France. A Country that has been a real leader in esprit, intelligence, and that has made gigantic contributions to Civility and Culture is now tempted to bring us back to barbarism, in open contradiction of what France has been a symbol of for many past generations: That two such Countries would come together for such an outrageous measure is part of the world´s anger. We are not afraid of the attack; we are afraid of the barbarism to which we are being lead

Q. But why speak out now?

R. Because the danger is now. Because the Holy Father has taken a measure that is extraordinary to indicate the urgency of the moment. To indicate that the 7th of September is a day of Fasting for the sake of Peace is an extraordinary measure and we want to join him in it. Remember that at one point in the Gospel, when the disciples of Jesus could not liberate a young man from an evil spirit, Jesus told them: "This kind of spirits cannot be driven away if not by prayer and fasting" I find it extremely upsetting that a Country that considers itself, at least nominally, Christian, could not imagine other ways of acting that would not be "military", and, instead, contribute to bring Humanity back to the law of the jungle.

 

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Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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Russia warns of nuclear disaster if Syria is hit

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Read Time:2 Minute, 17 Second

A military strike on Syria could lead to a nuclear catastrophe if a missile were to hit a reactor containing radioactive uranium, a Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman warned. The remark comes as the US continues to push for a military strike on Syria.

"If a warhead, by design or by chance, were to hit the Miniature Neutron Source Reactor (MNSR) near Damascus, the consequences could be catastrophic," Aleksandr Lukashevich said in a Wednesday statement.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry urged the UN International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to complete a risk evaluation as the US continues to seek support for military action. It asked the agency to “react swiftly” and carry out “an analysis of the risks linked to possible American strikes on the MNSR and other facilities in Syria.”

Lukashevich stated that the region could be at risk of “contamination by highly enriched uranium and it would no longer be possible to account for nuclear material, its safety and control.” He added that such material could fall into the wrong hands.

The IAEA said that it is aware of the statement, but it is waiting for a formal request asking the agency to complete a risk evaluation. “We will consider the questions raised if we receive such a request," Reuters quoted an IAEA spokesperson as saying.

The agency said in a report to member states last week that Syria had declared there was a “small amount of nuclear material” at the MNSR, a type of research reactor usually fuelled by highly enriched uranium.

Although this type of a reactor would not contain a lot of nuclear material, it would be enough to cause "a serious local radiation hazard" if the reactor was hit, nuclear expert Mark Hibbs from the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace told Reuters.

The United States Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted on Wednesday to approve President Obama's plan to strike Syria in retaliation against the alleged use of chemical weapons by President Bashar Assad’s regime.

Should Congress move to approve the president’s request, the US could soon initiate a limited strike on Syria.

On the other hand, Moscow needs convincing proof – not rumors – from UN experts that chemical weapons were used in Syria, Russian President Vladimir Putin said in an interview with AP and Channel 1 on Tuesday.

“We believe that at the very least we should wait for the results of the UN inspection commission in Syria,” Putin said. He added that so far there is no information regarding exactly which chemical agent was used in the attack in the Damascus suburb, or who was behind it.

Source: RT

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Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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Analysis: Surprise or not, U.S. strikes can still hurt Assad

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Read Time:4 Minute, 15 Second

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – It would hardly be a surprise to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad or his military if American missiles start hitting Syria soon.

With weeks to prepare for an attack, Assad might benefit in some ways from the delay in any strike caused by President Barack Obama's decision to seek approval from a divided U.S. Congress.

U.S. officials and defense experts say Assad's forces cannot take enough targets out of reach to blunt the U.S. military mission, especially since it is billed as having very limited objectives.

Obama is calling for a limited military strike in response to a chemical weapons attack on civilians blamed by the United States on Assad's forces.

Fixed targets, for example, cannot be protected no matter how much time elapses. "A building can't be moved, nor hid," one U.S. official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Other fixed targets could include airfields, although not any storage facilities with chemical weapons in them.

Defense analyst Anthony Cordesman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank said if successful, hitting fixed targets would eliminate key assets to Assad that "can't easily be replaced, like command and control facilities, major headquarters."

"These are lasting targets," Cordesman said.

It is still unclear when any U.S. attack on Syria will happen but Assad already has had ample time to try to get ready. U.S. officials have been openly discussing the possibility of hitting Syria since shortly after the August 21 chemical weapons attack near Damascus.

Even if Congress approves military action, a final vote would be unlikely before the middle of next week.

A second U.S. official, also speaking on condition of anonymity, acknowledged that the delay added "complexities" to the planning efforts.

"It may change target sets," the official said. "We'll continue to refine our targeting options to conditions on the ground."

Assad has already moved some military equipment and personnel to civilian areas and put soldiers whose loyalty to Assad is in doubt in military sites as human shields against any Western strikes, the Istanbul-based Syrian opposition has said.

It cited movement of rockets, Scud missiles and launches, as well as soldiers to locations including schools, university dormitories and government buildings inside cities.

That could complicate the ability of the United States to reach some targets.

COLLATERAL DAMAGE

General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the U.S. military's Joint Chiefs of Staff, acknowledged publicly to Congress that Obama has ordered the military to develop plans that keep a lid on collateral damage – civilian deaths and damage to civilian infrastructure.

"Though they are in fact moving resources around – and in some cases placing prisoners and others in places that they believe we might target – at this point our intelligence is keeping up with that movement," Dempsey, the top U.S. military officer, told lawmakers on Wednesday.

WAIT FOR MONTH?

The question of whether losing the element of surprise makes a difference militarily became a bone of contention in the debate over congressional backing for Obama's attack plan.

Senator John McCain, one of the Republicans who has pushed hardest for military action in Syria, said this week he was "astounded" when Obama said the military had advised him that an attack would still be effective in a month's time.

"When you tell the enemy you are going to attack, they are obviously going to disperse and make it harder," McCain said in Congress on Tuesday.

"It's ridiculous to think that it's not wise from a pure military standpoint not to warn the enemy that you're gonna attack," McCain said.

The Obama administration says the planned attack is designed to strike a particular balance – being strong enough to deter Assad from using chemical weapons in the future while also degrading his ability to do so.

But the Obama administration has said any attack would not be designed to topple Assad or necessarily shift the momentum in Syria's civil war to the detriment of government forces.

U.S. objectives include targets directly linked to the Syrian military's ability to use chemical weapons, as well as missiles and rockets that can deliver them, Dempsey said.

Air defenses that could be used to protect chemical weapons sites are also potential targets, Dempsey said.

"That target package is still being refined as I sit here with you," Dempsey told lawmakers.

Despite the stated objective of deterring Assad, the U.S. military cannot guarantee its strikes will prevent Assad from using chemical weapons in the future.

Even the objective to degrade – a military term that means "diminish" – his capabilities is vague. There has been no clear, public objective offered by the United States on how much it must damage Assad's capabilities.

(Additional reporting by David Alexander; Editing by Alistair Bell and Will Dunham)

About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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This Couple Spent $1.56 on Their Wedding — Could You?

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Read Time:4 Minute, 9 Second

A couple from Scotland spent less on their wedding day than most people dole out for their morning coffee.

Artist Georgina Porteous, 36, and 39-year-old singer-songwriter Sid Innes budgeted just $1.56 for their big day. Yep, you read that right. The pair are dedicated to recycling and self-sufficiency, according to the U.K.'s Metro News, so they vowed to keep the day they exchanged vows super simple.

So how did the couple throw a great fête for 70 guests for such a paltry price? Porteous and Innes said their "I do's" in a barn on their property behind their cottage. Porteous spent $1.56 on a vintage ivory wedding gown that she found on freecycle.org, a network of exchanges and gifting, while Innes wore an old tweed suit. The couple’s rings were handmade by Porteous using antlers she found in her garden. Her mother officiated the ceremony and a neighborhood reverend donated his services for free in order to make it all official.

For the reception, the venue was decorated with locally grown flowers, hay bales, and lanterns that community farmers contributed. The newlyweds asked their guests to bring food and drinks for a potluck picnic and Porteous's aunt baked the cake. The wedding photographer who captured the festivities bartered his services in exchange for some film editing by Porteous. And the affair’s music came courtesy of the bride's father, who played jazz on the saxophone.

“We thought we’d do [our wedding] differently and we started to become quite obsessed with it and ways to save money. It was exciting, fun and a challenge," Innes said in a YouTube video. One fee the couple couldn’t get out of paying? The $109.23 charge for a marriage license. Hopefully, it was totally worth it.

While cost-cutting measures that Innes and Porteous took for their nuptials are certainly extreme, there are plenty of ways to have a budget-friendly wedding. Here are some tips and tricks for thrifty ways to tie the knot.

    The dress — If you don't have a a friend or family member who can lend you a dress (that she probably wore only once), there are a lot of great websites that sell once-worn wedding dresses. “When my clients come to me and are looking to keep costs down, I recommend that they resell their dresses,” Tracy Taylor Ward, owner and principal designer/planner of Tracy Taylor Ward Design, told Yahoo Shine. Sites like NearlyNewlywed.com and Tradesy make the process easy. And if you’re lucky, you might even make a profit if you sell yours. Sample sales, consignment shops, eBay and e-commerce site Etsy, which focuses on handmade and vintage items, are great options as well.
    The rings — Not everyone is as deft at ring-making as Porteous is, but Etsy has plenty of artisans with similar skills who sell affordable alternatives to typical gold and silver wedding bands. Titanium and gold-plated metals look like the real thing at just a fraction of the price.
    Flowers — In the United States, $1,997 was the average amount spent on flowers and decor per wedding in 2012. Ward suggested working with larger flowers. “Hydrangeas are a good-value flower because they’re always in season and you don't need as much to fill out an arrangement. You need more roses to fill out the same amount of space,” she said.
    Venue — Being able to throw a wedding at your own place or at the home of a friend or family member is the cheapest route, but for those outsourcing to other locations, there are tricks for trimming expenses. Most venues' rates vary by season, so if you can get a place during the off-season, its prices will be either lower than at peak times or negotiable because it's not going to have as much business during that period. Avoid holidays because prices tend to inflate. Additionally, tying the knot on a Friday or a Sunday is slightly less expensive than on a Saturday.
    Food — Pass on the raw bar and filet mignon and skip food stations, added Ward: instead opt for passed hors d'oeuvres and a sit-down dinner.
    The wedding cake — Wedding cakes cost, on average, $560, but you certainly don't have to spend that much. “Cakes are typically priced per slice, so try to find a bakery in your budget,” suggested Ward. An alternative cost-cutting measure is to ask the bakery for a smaller display cake and have extra sheet cakes in the kitchen for when it runs out.

About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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War games: McCain caught playing poker on iPhone during Syria debate

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Read Time:1 Minute, 22 Second
John McCain owned up to his game playing on Twitter later.

Given he has been calling for the Syrian rebels to be armed for more than 18 months, you would have thought that Senator John McCain might have been interested in what was said during the three-hour hearing of the Senate committee on foreign relations discussing the potential use of force against the Assad regime.

But it seems the former US Republican presidential candidate, who is perhaps the loudest voice in US politics in favour of intervention on behalf of the Syrian rebels, had more pressing things on his mind.

McCain was caught by a Washington Post photographer playing poker on his iPhone during the hearing. Perhaps the Republican pro-interventionist , who was critical of the president for asking Congress for approval to strike Syria, was trying to make some clumsy metaphor about Obama's political gamble or the high stakes involved. Or maybe not.

The senator later owned up, making light of the fact. He seemed to imply that the reason he was gaming was the sheer length of the committee meeting. "Scandal! Caught playing iPhone game at 3+ hour Senate hearing – worst of all I lost!" he tweeted.

If that was supposed to excuse him, it didn't work. His post prompted a number of withering responses, which variously pointed out the gravity of the issues being discussed and the amount of money that senators earn – $174,000 (£112,000) a year..

"@SenJohnMcCain That hearing sounds so boring though. Hope it wasn't about anything important," tweeted Michael Arria.

About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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We have our plans’: Vladimir Putin warns US against Syria military action

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Read Time:9 Minute, 13 Second

Vladimir Putin said Russia may approve military operation in Syria if Damascus is proven to have carried out chemical weapons attacks and UN authorises it. Photograph: Ria Novosti/Reuters

Vladimir Putin has warned the US against launching military action in Syria, stating that Russia has "plans" on how it would react if such a scenario unfolded.

The Russian president's comments came as Barack Obama for the first time portrayed his plans for US military action as part of a broader strategy to topple Bashar al-Assad, as the White House's campaign to win over sceptics in Congress gained momentum.

In an interview with Associated Press and Russia's state Channel 1 television, Putin said it was too early to talk about what Russia would do if the US attacked Syria but added: "We have our ideas about what we will do and how we will do it in case the situation develops toward the use of force or otherwise. We have our plans."

At the same time he said Russia did not exclude supporting a UN resolution on punitive military strikes if it were proved that Damascus used poison gas on its own people. But he described the idea that Syrian government forces would use chemical weapons at a time when he said they were in the ascendancy and knowing the potential repercussions as absurd. Given his comments, and the fact that Russia has protected Syria from punitive action at the UN security council before, his suggestion that Russia might support a resolution on strikes is unlikely to be given much credence in the US.

Chuck Hagel listens as John Kerry speaks to the Senate foreign relations committee. Photograph: Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

Russia later dispatched a missile cruiser to the eastern Mediterranean, which will arrive in about 10 days. The ship, Moskva, will take over operations from a naval unit in the region that Moscow says is needed to protect national interests. It will be joined by a destroyer from Russia's Baltic Fleet and a frigate from the Black Sea Fleet.

In the US, senators will begin a series of votes on Wednesday to authorise a 90-day window for US military action against Syria.

A new draft resolution was agreed by leaders of the Senate foreign relations committee after the secretary of state, John Kerry, pressed a forceful case for striking against the Assad regime. Earlier, Obama secured the backing of the Republican leadership at a key White House meeting.

The president headed for Europe on Tuesday night for what promised to be a testy meeting of the G20 group of industrialised nations. After a short visit to Sweden, Obama will travel to Saint Petersburg in Russia.

On Wednesday afternoon, the French parliament will debate the question of intervention in Syria, but without a vote. After addresses to the parliament and senate from the prime minister, Jean-Marc Ayrault, and the foreign minister, Laurent Fabius, MPs and senators will thrash out their views on whether and how – as the president, François Hollande, has stated – the Syrian regime should be "punished" for chemical weapons use. Opposition MPs have warned France must not merely "tag along" behind Washington but the government insists it is determined to act.

The US president, Barack Obama, waves as he walks to Marine One before departing for Sweden and the G20 summit in Russia. Photograph: Joshua Roberts/Reuters

Hollande, who is granted vast presidential powers by the French constitution, is not obliged to seek a parliament vote before ordering military action. But the possibility of a vote at a later stage, once intervention plans are clearer, has not been ruled out. Hollande has said that once he has all the elements in place, he will address the French people on the Syria issue – most likely in a televised speech.

Putin said on Tuesday that Moscow had provided some components of the S-300 air defence missile system to Syria but has frozen further shipments. He warned: "If we see that steps are taken that violate the existing international norms, we shall think how we should act in the future, in particular regarding supplies of such sensitive weapons to certain regions of the world."

The statement could be a veiled threat to revive a contract for the delivery of the S-300s to Iran, which Russia cancelled a few years ago under strong US and Israeli pressure.

In Washington, key members of Congress swung behind the administration on Tuesday. At the senate foreign relations committee, Kerry and the defence secretary, Chuck Hagel, were pressed hard to clarify the role of ground forces, but got an otherwise sympathetic reception.

In the evening, details emerged of the committee's revisions to a the White House's proposals for a military authorisation. They set a window limited to 60 days for military action – during which Obama could order the limited, tailored strikes he has foreshadowed – while allowing for a single 30-day extension subject to conditions. The Democrat committee chairman, Bob Menendez, and his Republican counterpart, Bob Corker, also added a provision banning any use of US armed forces on the ground in Syria.

Committee members are now expected to begin "marking up" the resolution – voting on specific amendments – following a further classified briefing on Wednesday morning. The House of Representatives, where Obama is likely to get a rougher ride, begins its deliberations with a public hearing on Wednesday. Full votes before the Senate and House are expected on Monday.

Sceptical Republicans appeared to have been won over by tougher rhetoric from the White House. While stressing that Washington's primary goal remained "limited and proportional" attacks to degrade Syria's chemical weapons capabilities and deter their future use, the president hinted at a long-term mission that may ultimately bring about a change of regime.

"It also fits into a broader strategy that can bring about over time the kind of strengthening of the opposition and the diplomatic, economic and political pressure required – so that ultimately we have a transition that can bring peace and stability, not only to Syria but to the region," Obama told senior members of Congress at a White House meeting earlier on Tuesday.

The president has long spoken of the US desire to see Assad step down, but this was the first time he has linked that policy objective to his threatened military strikes against Syria. It follows pressure on Monday, from senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham, to make such a goal more explicit.

The apparent change of emphasis appeared to resolve some of the political deadlock on Capitol Hill, as House speaker John Boehner and a series of other Republican leaders announced they would back the president's call for military authorisation from Congress.

The endorsement of GOP leaders could be important in winning over the Republican-controlled House, where Obama has failed to win any support since his re-election in November. But even the Republican leadership has struggled to control Tea Party radicals in the House, and an anti-interventionist wing in the Senate led by Rand Paul remains a substantial challenge for the White House.

"I'm going to support the president's call for action, and I believe my colleagues should support the president's call for action," Boehner said, after meeting the president at the White House. "The use of these weapons has to be responded to, and only the United States has the capability and the capacity to stop Assad and to warn others around the world that this type of behaviour is not to be tolerated."

So far, the tougher US rhetoric does not seem to have deterred Democrats who back the president's call for military action on humanitarian grounds. Emerging from the White House meeting shortly after Boehner, The House minority leader, Nancy Pelosi, said Syria's alleged used of chemical weapons was "outside the circle of acceptable human behaviour", but said she would not whip Democrats into voting yes.

"I don't think congressional authorisation is necessary, but I do think it is a good thing, and I think we can achieve it," she added.

For nearly three hours of the subsequent Senate committee hearing the only voices speaking against intervention were those of anti-war campaigners repeatedly ejected by security staff. When senators Rand Paul and Tom Udall eventually began more hostile questioning of Kerry, he brushed it off by asking them to consider what Syria's response might be to a US decision not to strike. "I guarantee you there would be further chemical attacks," Kerry told Paul.

The administration received crucial backing from chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, General Martin Dempsey, who had recently been openly sceptical of the merits of US military intervention. Dempsey said the evidence of alleged Syrian chemical weapons use had changed his mind.

But Kerry was forced to backtrack after appearing to acknowledge that US ground troops could become involved under certain scenarios. "In the event that Syria imploded, for instance, or in the event there was a threat of a chemical weapons cache falling into the hands of al-Nusra or someone else, and it was clearly in the interests of our allies, all of us, the British, the French and others, to prevent those weapons of mass destruction [falling into their hands]," Kerry said, "I don't want to take off the table an option that might or might not be available to the president."

Five times in subsequent exchanges the secretary insisted he had not meant to imply that "boots on the ground" was something actively planned by the administration. He faced hostile questioning from Republican hawk John McCain, who asked why the administration was not going further in helping Syrian rebels overthrow Assad. But McCain made it clear he would vote in favour of a resolution to authorise military action.

With the chances of successful votes in Congress next week looking a little stronger, Obama will now head to Europe in the hope of persuading more world leaders to back his strategy.

Hopes in Washington that Britain might hold a fresh parliamentary vote over joining military action were dashed on Monday, when prime minister David Cameron ruled out such a move.

The White House first announced that it would provide limited military support to Syrian rebel groups in June, but it has been criticised for dragging its heels over fears that arms might fall into the wrong hands.

The alleged chemical attacks by Assad forces now seem to have strengthened the hands of those in Washington who favour more direct assistance. The New York Times reported on Tuesday that CIA-trained rebels were now operating inside Syria

About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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Farrakhan delivers stern warnings to Obama, the Muslim world and Israel

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Read Time:6 Minute, 8 Second

President Barack Obama meets with his National Security Staff to discuss the situation in Syria, in the Situation Room of the White House, Aug. 30. From left at the table: National Security Advisor Susan E. Rice; Attorney General Eric Holder; Secretary of State John Kerry; and Vice President Joe Biden. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)


CHICAGO (FinalCall.com) – With the American government on the brink of inserting themselves into the affairs of yet another Muslim country, the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan delivered a stern warning to the global warmongers and blood-shedders providing much needed clarity regarding the worldwide geopolitical landscape.

 

President Barack Obama. Photo: MGN-Online

“The government of America and its leadership is taking America and the world on a very dangerous course, and I would not be a good student of my teacher the Honorable Elijah Muhammad as a Warner from Allah, and not raise my voice in harmony with his, to warn President Obama and this administration as well as the Congress of the United States, of the danger of the course that America is embarking on,” said Minister Farrakhan.

Protests took place in the United States and abroad August 31, the same day Minister Farrakhan’s words were broadcast. It seems America has such an extensive history of deceptive practices and false flag operations that considerable doubt exists in the minds of the American people as to whether the Syrian government used chemical weapons, and whether the American military should intervene, said the Minister.

The people have also grown tired of decades of seemingly endless wars abroad while budgetary shortfalls continue in this country.

According to a recent Reuters/Ipsos poll, only 20 percent of the American people believe America should take military action. While the U.S. paints itself as global peacemaker, her history reveals something altogether different.

It was promised that peace and democracy would be delivered in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya. All three of those countries are now experiencing bloodshed and turmoil. In Egypt, despite a democratic election won by the Mohamed Morsi, the candidate from the Freedom and Justice party of the Muslim Brotherhood, the country now faces governmental upheaval.

Minister Farrakhan has consistently uncovered the hidden schemes of the deceiving blood-shedders revealing the global hegemonic ambitions of the Neo–conservatives.

The United Nations Charter militating against the use of force or intervention in the sovereignty of other nations as well as the United States Constitution is “gradually being ripped to shreds,” said the Minister.

“There is no more international law and order, just the law and order of the powerful against the weak, both, in the world and now in the United States of America,” he added.

 

Demonstrators take part in a protest calling for no military attack on Syria outside the White House in Washington, Aug. 29, 2013. Photo: A/P Wolrd Wide photos

Another point of contention is the hypocrisy being shown by America claiming to be outraged that chemical weapons were used, when in fact, America employed the use of chemical weapons that killed and maimed civilians during the Vietnam war, as well as the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Decades later, America’s own patriotic soldiers are suffering medical complications as a result of being exposed to use of those chemical weapons. 

According to reports, between 1962-1971, America used millions of gallons of defoliants and herbicides such as Agent Orange in Vietnam causing hundreds of thousands of deaths, as well as generations born with and birth defects. Napalm was used in Hiroshima and Nagasaki as well as Vietnam, and in Iraq, the Minister noted the use of bombs containing Depleted Uranium and White Phosphorous. The same types of bombs have been used by Israel—the nation whom the Minister referred to as America’s “companion in wickedness”—during its 2009 attack on Gaza in which dozens of civilians were killed.

Minister Farrakhan said the narrative being offered by the Zionist controlled media is far from the truth. Though they have continued to be the main distributors of “evidence” implicating the Syrian government in wrongdoing, Israel is not a dispassionate observer in the Syrian conflict, he said.

“These lies and half-truths spread by the Zionist controlled media are purposely spread to infect the minds of the people and the peoples of the world, that we should think along the lines of the mischief makers and the blood-shedders in furtherance of their wicked objectives,” said the Minister. “Israel is (America’s) companion in wickedness, so you both are headed down into the bottomless pit of hell,” he added.

America the oil and gas junkie

The United States sends its military anywhere there are resources they desire, the Minister said. Syria has at least 2 and a half billion barrels of oil in its fields making it the next largest Middle Eastern oil producer after Iraq and new gas fields have recently been identified, making Syria a tantalizing target for the Western powers.

The Minister again noted the plans of Neo–conservatives—inside and outside of government—to foster regime change in seven countries, starting with Iraq and to include Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Iran. Many of these advisers have led Mr. Obama in ways that have eroded his credibility in the country, and with the nations of the Earth.

“May I respectfully say Mr. President, your advisers don’t seem to be your friends,” said Min. Farrakhan. “Mr. President, they’re destroying you little by little so that you’ll become involved in the spider web of their lies and treachery,” said the Minister.

Anti-Syrian regime protesters carry a banner during a demonstration at Kafr Nabil town in Idlib province, northern Syria, Aug.30. The U.N. experts investigating last week’s alleged chemical weapons strike outside Damascus left Syria and crossed into neighboring Lebanon early Aug. 31, departing hours after President Barack Obama said he is weighing “limited and narrow” action against a Syrian regime that the administration has accused of launching the deadly attack. Photo: A/P Wide World photos

The Promised Land

From the Nile River in Egypt to the Euphrates River in today’s Iraq, and major parts of today’s Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Jordan, Palestine, Syria and Lebanon in the future these countries will be inhabited by the true Children of Israel. The true Promised Land for the true People of God’s choice.

“The parts that the Jewish people call Greater Israel or Eretz Israel; that (land) does not belong to you,” the Minister said. “Unfortunately, you will die there, but your blood and the Palestinian blood and Arab blood and the blood of others will purify that area for the real owners of the Kingdom of God,” he added.

“Allah is going to use your blood to purify that area of the world for the Messiah to come back and bring back with him the people of God’s choice, for the Holy Land—Mecca in particular—will be the headquarters of the Mahdi and the Messiah,” he said.

About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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What you need to know about the new Pension Scheme

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Read Time:7 Minute, 4 Second

The new pension scheme is contributory, fully funded, privately third party custody of the funds and assets based on individual accounts.  It ensures that everyone who has worked receives his or her retirement benefits as and when due.  It covers all employees in the Public Service of the Federation, the Federal Capital Territory and the Private Sector of the economy.  The existing pensioners, employees who have three years or less to retire and the categories of persons covered by the provisions of section 291 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria are exempted from the new pension scheme.  Any employee with more than three years to retire comes under the new pension scheme.

The new pension scheme is mandatory for all categories of employers and employees covered under the Pension Reform Act.  There is no merger of private sector pension with that of the Public Sector pension since the sources of funding are not the same.  However, both are now being regulated under same rules and regulations.

The main objectives of the Pension Reform Act 2004 are as follows:

  • To ensure that every person who worked in either the public service of the federation, federal capital territory or private sector receives his or her retirement benefits as and when due.
  • To assist improvident individuals by ensuring that they save in order to cater for their livelihood during old age and
  • To establish a uniform set of rules, regulations and standards for the administration and payments of retirement benefits for the public service of the federation, federal capital territory and private sector.

This is different from the old pension scheme because most of the old pension schemes are not fully funded.  Therefore, upon retirement, there were no ready funds to pay the pensioners.  The new pension scheme is fully funded.  Money is contributed into individual employee’s Retirement Savings Account (RSA) and when he or she retires, there will be money in his or her RSA to pay his or her pension.  Private sector pension schemes will be allowed to continue provided if there is evidence to show that the pension scheme is fully funded at all times, any shortfall made up within 90 days, pension fund assets are segregated from the assets of the employer/company, the pension fund assets are held by a licensed Custodian and the scheme is specifically approved by the National Pension Commission (PenCom).

An employee shall make monthly contributions of a minimum of 7.5 per cent of the total of his or monthly emoluments (that is, monthly basic salary, transport allowance and housing allowance) into the RSA.  The employer also shall contribute a minimum of 7.5 per cent of the employee’s monthly emoluments towards the retirement benefits of the employee.  However, an employer can make all the contributions on behalf of the employee without making any deduction from the employee’s salary except that such contribution by the employer shall not be less than 15 per cent of the monthly emoluments of the employee.  Your contributions are just savings out of your emoluments towards your old age and the employer’s contribution will only increase such savings.

Pension contributions are paid directly to the PFC to be held on the order of the PFA.  A fully funded pension scheme exists where pension funds and assets match pension liabilities at any given time.

RSA is similar to a bank account except that no contributor can withdraw money from the RSA before his or her retirement.  The PFA is required to invest the money and issue statements of account at least once every quarter to the contributor.  Movement from one employment to another does not affect pension under the new scheme.  The Reform has removed the bottleneck associated with transfer of service from one organization or sector to another, especially with regard to qualification for pension and the sharing formula for payment of pension as between employers.  When you change jobs, the RSA remains with the PFA of your choice for as long as you want.  You simply notify your new employer of the details of the PFA that manages your account and thereafter, your contributions will be sent to the Custodian of the PFA.

Employee’s right to accrued retirement benefits for the previous years he or she has been in employment is guaranteed by the Pension Reform Act 2004.  In the case of the public service of the federation and the federal capital territory, where pension scheme was unfunded, the right would be acknowledged through the issuance of a “Federal Government Retirement Bond” to such employee.  The bond will be redeemable upon retirement of the employee.  The Federal Government has established a Retirement Benefits Bond Redemption Fund Account in the Central Bank of Nigeria.  The federal government is already making a monthly payment into the fund of an amount equal to 5 per cent of the total monthly wage bill payable to all employees of the federal government and the federal capital territory.  Any company operating a Defined Benefit Scheme must, in addition to satisfying other conditions specified in the Act, open RSAs so that the pension funds can be held by a custodian.

In the case of funded pension schemes in the public service of the federation and the private sector, employers shall undertake actuarial valuation of the employee’s accrued benefits and credit the RSAs of the employees with such funds and in the event of any deficiency, the shortfall shall become a debt and shall be treated with same priority as salaries owed.  The employer shall also issue a written acknowledgement of the debt and take steps to meet the shortfall.

When a PFA (Pension Fund Administrator) fails or is liquidated, the pension funds and assets in the RSA are kept by the PFC and as such the liquidation of the PFA will not affect the funds and assets.  Besides, every PFA is expected under the Pension Reform Act 2004 to maintain a statutory reserve fund as contingency fund as may be determined by National Pension Commission.  The Pension Reform Act 2004 allows any employee to complain about any PFA to the National Pension Commission (PenCom).

The government cannot tamper with the pension funds in your RSA because it does not have access to the account.  Besides, the government is primarily concerned with ensuring the safety of the money in your RSA through the enforcement of strict rules and regulations.  The new pension scheme entrenches the principles of transparency and accountability as reflected in the reporting requirement of the PFAs and PFCs to the Contributor and the National Pension Commission.  An employee has the right to choose who manages his RSA and the right to receive statements of his account on quarterly basis with details of contributions made and returns on investment.

Upon retirement, an employee can withdraw a lump sum from the balance standing to the credit of his or her RSA provided the balance after the withdrawal could provide an annuity or fund monthly payments that would not be less than 50 per cent of his monthly pay as at the date of his or her retirement.  However, an employer may choose to pay any other severance benefits over and above the retirement benefits payable to the employee subject to the terms and conditions of his or her employment.

A programmed withdrawal is a method by which the employee collects his or her retirement benefits in periodic sums spread throughout the length of an estimated life span.  While an annuity is an income purchase from an approved life insurance company which provides monthly or quarterly income to the retiree during his or her life time.

Where an employee who has been contributing under the new pension scheme dies before his or her retirement, the retirement benefits shall be paid to his or her beneficiary under a Will or the spouse and children of the deceased or in the absence of a wife and child, to the recorded next-of-kin or any person designated by him or her during his or her life time or in the absence of such designation, to any person appointed by the Probate Registry as the Administrator of the Estate of the deceased

About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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