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European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana denies agreement on new sanctions against Iran

EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana and Slovenia's Foreign Minister Dimitrij Rupel hold joint news conference in Luxembourg June 16, 2008

(quote)

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.

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Photo courtesy of Xinhua Agencies

Original Source: Reuters and Xinhua

World’s refugees in 2007 exceed 11 Million, half in two war zones: 2 million Iraqis & 3 million Afghans fled to Pakistan, Iran

Afghan girl carrying her infant sibling in Iran's Sistan Baluchistan province

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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.

fleeing refugees

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.

Guterres describes a band of conflict and instability that includes mostly Muslim countries. "Now, together with the Palestinians more than half of the group of refugees are concentrated in the same area," he said. "That area starts in Afghanistan, it includes Iraq, Palestine, Sudan, Chad and Somalia. And this is an area of great concern for us all and I can only ask the international community to be more and more involved together, acting together to make sure that these conflicts find an end."

The U.N. agency says global refugee numbers had fallen for five years before rising again in 2006 and 2007.

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Photos courtesy of VOA News and adnkronos.com

Original Source: VOA News and NY Times

At war, Iraq is not backed by a superpower but Iran probably will be. Putin warns against military action, against sanctions

President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran in Tehran

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Russia is taking in an extra $11.4 billion a month above its normal oil revenues, according to data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Russia's state-controlled oil firm, Rosneft, just reported that its revenues have tripled over those a year ago. That can only strengthen the confidence of Prime Minister Vladimir V. Putin, analysts said. Putin has resisted the Iran sanctions, is rolling back democratic reforms at home and has threatened his neighbors with nuclear attacks and cut-offs of energy supplies.

"Any time you have a sudden change in the distribution of wealth, things become rocky," said Rachel Bronson, an international petroleum expert at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. "The Persian Gulf states, Russia and Venezuela all of a sudden have huge cash surpluses. ... It's destabilizing. You see a bolder Putin, and an emboldened Chavez, who really didn't need to be emboldened," she said.

Back in Oct. 16, 2007, President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia said at a summit meeting of five Caspian Sea nations in Iran on Tuesday that any use of military force in the region was unacceptable. In a declaration, the countries agreed that none would allow their territories to be used as a base for military strikes against any of the others.

Times Magazine: 'Vladimir Putin, Tsar of the New Russia'

Mr. Putin was the first Kremlin leader to travel to Iran since 1943, when Stalin attended a wartime summit meeting with Churchill and Roosevelt.

“We should not even think of making use of force in this region,” Mr. Putin said. Mr. Putin’s comments and the declaration come at a time when the United States has refused to rule out military action to halt Iran’s nuclear energy program, which it believes masks a desire to develop nuclear weapons.

“Not only should we reject the use of force, but also the mention of force as a possibility,” Mr. Putin said.

With an on-going war with Iraq, Bush has refused to rule out any action in Iran, saying "all options" were on the table - a phrase he has used that has been interpreted as not precluding military strikes.

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Images Courtesy of Mikhail Klimentyev/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images and Times Magazine

Original Source: The Baltimore Sun and The New York Times

On Iran, Brown puts himself squarely behind Bush; on Iraq, both resist calls for more rapid withdrawals from an unpopular war

U.S. President George W. Bush addresses a press conference at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London

(quote)

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.

U.S. President George W. Bush at press conference with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London on Monday

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.

Brown said that Britain would "do everything possible to maintain the dialogue" with Iran over its nuclear program. "But we are also clear that if Iran continues to ignore United Nations resolutions and continues to ignore our offers of partnership, we have no choice but to intensify sanctions."

On Iran and Afghanistan, Brown put himself squarely behind Bush, who is ending a weeklong visit to Europe that has focused on the confrontation with Iran over its nuclear program. The two men also expressed solidarity on Iraq, a war whose unpopularity in Britain and the United States has led to calls for more rapid withdrawals that both leaders have resisted.

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Photos Courtesy of Carl De Souza/The Associated Press

Original Source: International Herald Tribune

Ahmadinejad ordered withdrawal of $75 billion from EU banks before Brown announced to freeze overseas assets of Bank Melli Iran

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran

(quote)

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.

Bank Melli’s UK branch in London

"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.

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Photos Courtesy of Reuters and The Jerusalem Post

Original Source: Javno and Associated Press

June 12 - US Supreme Court Delivers Its Third Consecutive Rebuff to Bush Administration’s Handling of Detainees

Justice Anthony Kennedy of the Supreme Court

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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.

U.S. Supreme Court

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.”

Guantánamo Bay naval base

'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.

Supreme Court Case No. 06-1195 Lakhdar Boumediene v. George W. Bush

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."

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Photos Courtesy of Todd Heisler/NY Times, Wikipedia, and elcivics.com

Original Source: The New York Times and About.com

Related Article: Why This Court Keeps Rebuking This President

Ron Paul's Convention to Rival GOP 2008 - "Return to Our Roots"

Ron Paul plans his own convention

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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.

Ron Paul

"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.

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young Ron Paul and bride

"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

Ron Paul and Carol Paul, his wife of 50 years

Original Source: Press TV

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