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LUXEMBOURG, June 16 - European Union foreign ministers neither discussed nor agreed a new round of sanctions against Iran at a meeting on Monday, a spokeswoman for EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana said.
Asked about a statement by British Prime Minister Gordon Brown announcing new EU sanctions on Iran's financial, oil and gas sectors, the spokeswoman said: "There was no discussion of sanctions today. I know nothing about that."
"No decision has been taken today. That is the answer to your question: no decision has been taken today," said Solana when asked to clarify whether the ministers have come up with a decision on Iran. He emphasized the EU's "double track" strategy to Iran -- offer to open negotiations on the one hand and UN sanctions on the other.
Photo courtesy of Xinhua Agencies
Exceed 11 million in 2007: world's refugees, half in two war zones: 2 million Iraqis & 3 million Afghans fled to Pakistan, Iran
Conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan drive up world refugee numbers, accounting for more than half of the world’s refugees in 2007. More than two million Iraqis have sought refuge in Syria and Jordan, and three million Afghans have fled to Pakistan and Iran, the refugee agency said. Iraq and Afghanistan are behind a rise in the number of refugees worldwide for the second year in a row.
The U.N. refugee agency says the number of people fleeing violence and repression worldwide has risen to 11.4 million, largely due to the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. VOA's Sonja Pace reports from London on UNHCR's status report for 2007.
Launching the report, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, Antonio Guterres, said that for the second year in a row the number of people fleeing their countries and displaced from their homes is on the rise. "We have today 11.4 million refugees worldwide, but we have 26 million people displaced within the borders of their own countries," he said.
Guterres says conflicts are largely to blame. Refugees from Iraq and Afghanistan alone make up half the world's total. The 11.4 million tally does not include the millions of Palestinians living as refugees in the Middle East and elsewhere in the world. read more »
Ron Paul: "I am just really concerned that this is going to lead to hostilities". Putin warns against military action
I rise in strongest opposition to this new round of sanctions on Iran, which is another significant step toward a US war on that country. I find it shocking that legislation this serious and consequential is brought up in such a cavalier manner. Suspending the normal rules of the House to pass legislation is a process generally reserved for “non-controversial” business such as the naming of post offices. Are we to believe that this House takes matters of war and peace as lightly as naming post offices?
This legislation seeks to bar from doing business in the United States any foreign entity that sells refined petroleum to Iran or otherwise enhances Iran’s ability to import refined petroleum such as financing, brokering, underwriting, or providing ships for such. Such sanctions also apply to any entity that provides goods or services that enhance Iran’s ability to maintain or expand its domestic production of refined petroleum. This casts the sanctions net worldwide, with enormous international economic implications.
Mr. Speaker, I am concerned that many of my colleagues opposing war on Iran will vote in favor of this legislation, seeing it as a step short of war to bring Iran into line with US demands. I would remind them that sanctions and the blockades that are required to enforce them are themselves acts of war according to international law. I urge my colleagues to reject this saber-rattling but ultimately counterproductive legislation.
Legislation: Iran Refined Petroleum Sanctions Act (H.R. 2194)
Transcript read more »
LONDON: After talks with President George W. Bush, Prime Minister Gordon Brown promised tougher measures in Iran and Afghanistan, saying that Britain would freeze the assets of Iran's biggest bank and increase its troop strength in Afghanistan.
Appearing with Bush at a news conference, he sought to speak directly to the Iranian people, saying that Tehran's refusal to resolve international concerns over its nuclear activities would only lead to further isolation. Specifically, he said, the sanctions would be designed to freeze the assets of Iran's biggest bank, Bank Melli. "We will take action today that will freeze the overseas assets of the biggest bank in Iran, the Melli bank, and secondly, action will start today for a new phase of sanctions on oil and gas," he said, without elaborating.
For his part, Bush refused to rule out any action in Iran, saying "all options" were on the table — a formula he has used that has been interpreted as not precluding military strikes. read more »
No small money. Withdrawal of $75 billion from EU banks before Brown announced to freeze overseas assets of Bank Melli Iran
Iran has withdrawn around $75 billion from Europe to prevent the assets from being blocked under threatened new sanctions over Tehran's disputed nuclear ambitions, an Iranian weekly said. "Part of Iran's assets in European banks have been converted to gold and shares and another part has been transferred to Asian banks," Mohsen Talaie, deputy foreign minister in charge of economic affairs, was quoted as saying.
Iranian officials were not immediately available to comment on the report in Shahrvand-e Emrouz, a moderate weekly, which did not specify the time period for the withdrawals which it said were ordered by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
"About $75 billion of Iran's foreign assets which were under threat of being blocked were wired back to Iran based on Ahmadinejad's order," the weekly said. Iran's Etemad-e Melli newspaper, also quoting Talai, last week also reported that the world's fourth-largest oil exporter was withdrawing assets from European banks but did not give any figures.
Britain will freeze overseas assets of Iran's largest bank, Bank Melli. "Action will start today," Prime Minister Gordon Brown said on Monday.
Photos Courtesy of Reuters and The Jerusalem Post
June 12 - US Supreme Court Delivers Its Third Consecutive Rebuff to Bush Administration’s Handling of Detainees
WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Thursday delivered its third consecutive rebuff to the Bush administration’s handling of the detainees at Guantánamo Bay, ruling 5 to 4 that the prisoners there have a constitutional right to go to federal court to challenge their continued detention.
The court declared unconstitutional a provision of the Military Commissions Act of 2006 that, at the administration’s behest, stripped the federal courts of jurisdiction to hear habeas corpus petitions from the detainees seeking to challenge their designation as enemy combatants.
Writing for the majority, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy said the truncated review procedure provided by a previous law, the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005, “falls short of being a constitutionally adequate substitute” because it failed to offer “the fundamental procedural protections of habeas corpus.”
Justice Kennedy declared: “The laws and Constitution are designed to survive, and remain in force, in extraordinary times.”
'Habeas corpus' (Latin: [We command] that you have the body) is the name of a legal action, or writ, through which a person can seek relief from unlawful detention of themselves or another person. The writ of habeas corpus has historically been an important instrument for the safeguarding of individual freedom against arbitrary state action.
On Oct. 17, 2006, President Bush signed a law suspending the right of habeas corpus to persons "determined by the United States" to be an "enemy combatant" in the Global War on Terror. President Bush's action drew severe criticism, mainly for the law's failure to specifically designate who in the United States will determine who is and who is not an "enemy combatant."
To President Bush's support for the law -- the Military Commissions Act of 2006 -- and its suspension of writs of habeas corpus, Jonathan Turley, professor of constitutional law at George Washington University stated, "What, really, a time of shame this is for the American system. What the Congress did and what the president signed today essentially revokes over 200 years of American principles and values."
Photos Courtesy of Todd Heisler/NY Times, Wikipedia, and elcivics.com
Related Article: Why This Court Keeps Rebuking This President
Presidential candidate Ron Paul is planning a rally during the Republican National Convention to show what his party stands for.
The Texas congressman has tentatively reserved the Williams Arena at the University of Minnesota on Sept. 2, the second day of the Republican convention.
"We plan on having a large rally. We want it to be a celebration of Republican values and what the Republican Party has traditionally stood for," said Paul spokesman Jesse
Benton on Tuesday. Benton also said that Paul wants to send a message to the Republicans 'that we need to return to our roots' of limited government and personal responsibility.
Paul's campaign picked up substantial steam during the GOP primaries, when the libertarian leaning Texan raised about $35 million almost entirely online and garnered more than a million votes.
Paul secured at least 35 convention delegates, but Republican Party big-wigs are denying him a speaking slot and he has decided to stage his own convention.
"Ron Paul is the candidate who upholds the original intent and spirit of the Constitution and has an extensive congressional record to back it up." - Public Forum Letter, The Salt Lake Tribune read more »
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