JFP 7/11: Ecuador sez won't be bullied on Assange; Talib cmdr admits no military victory

Just Foreign Policy News, July 11, 2012
Ecuador sez won't be bullied on Assange; Talib cmdr admits no military victory

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I) Actions and Featured Articles

Action: Urge @Sweden to Oppose Extradition of Julian Assange for Publishing US Diplomatic Cables
Over seven thousand people have signed our petition to Ecuadoran President Rafael Correa urging him to grant Julian Assange's request for political asylum from the threat of US prosecution under the Espionage Act of 1917 for his role in the publication of U.S. diplomatic cables.
Now we are appealing to people in Sweden to oppose the threatened extradition of Julian Assange to the United States to face charges under the Espionage Act of 1917 for publishing US diplomatic cables. Join us in our effort to engage Swedish public opinion.
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/act/no-assange-extradition

634 days of cholera in Haiti
634 days, 7455 dead, 583,972 ill since the UN brought cholera to Haiti. Still the UN refuses to apologize or take responsibility.
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/haiti-cholera-counter

Summary:
U.S./Top News
1) Ecuador's President Rafael Correa has vowed his government would not yield to pressure in deciding whether to grant asylum to Julian Assange, AFP reports. Correa said Ecuador would not allow London, Stockholm or Washington to dictate its decision on whether or not to grant Assange political asylum. He said the mere possibility that Assange could face capital punishment in the US could be reason enough for his government to grant Assange's asylum petition.

2) One of the Taliban's most senior commanders has admitted the insurgents cannot win the war in Afghanistan and that capturing Kabul is "a very distant prospect", obliging them to seek a settlement with other political forces in the country, the Guardian reports. Former British foreign secretary David Miliband said the interview represented an opportunity that should be seized. "This landmark interview shows both the need for and difficulties in serious discussion with the Taliban about the future of Afghanistan," Miliband argued.

"The candour and clarity of the remarks about al-Qaida, Nato and the Afghan government show that we are dealing with a sophisticated and long-term presence in the country that cannot be wished away," he said. "With 10,000 British troops in the country it is vital that those talks are taken forward now."

3) China threw its weight behind U.N. envoy Kofi Annan on Wednesday, backing his call to include Iran in internationally-brokered talks to resolve Syria's crisis, in the face of strong Western opposition, Reuters reports. "China believes that the appropriate resolution of the Syria issue cannot be separated from the countries in the region, especially the support and participation of those countries that are influential on relevant sides in Syria," Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Weimin said.

4) Members of the Obama administration continue to pursue international policies around drug pricing that multiple UN groups, the World Health Organization, human rights lawyers and patient advocates worldwide decry, the Huffington Post reports. U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Deputy Director Teresa Stanek Rea sparked an uproar among public health experts when she testified before Congress on administration strategies to affect drug pricing abroad by using US political muscle. Her testimony focused on the Indian government's efforts to create an affordable generic alternative to an expensive cancer drug called Nexavar, which had been patented by Bayer AG. Rea repeatedly castigated India's government for approving the generic drug, calling the move an "egregious" violation of WTO rules.

"This is unprecedented, really shocking testimony," says Judit Rius, the U.S. manager of Doctors Without Borders Access to Medicines Campaign, an international humanitarian aid group that won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1999. "It doesn't have any ground in international legal norms. I've never really seen a U.S. government official misinforming Congress in public like this."

5) For the first time, government scientists are saying recent extreme weather events are likely connected to man-made climate change, CBS News reports. It's the conclusion of a report by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The study looked at 50 years of weather data in Texas and concluded that man-made warming had to be a factor in the drought. The head of NOAA's climate office, Tom Karl, said: "What we're seeing, not only in Texas but in other phenomena in other parts of the world, where we can't explain these events by natural variability alone. They're just too rare, too uncommon."

6) The effort to depict drone warfare as some sort of courageous and noble act is intensifying, writes Glenn Greenwald in Salon: the Pentagon is considering awarding a Distinguished Warfare Medal to drone pilots. Whatever one thinks of the justifiability of drone attacks, it's one of the least "brave" or courageous modes of warfare ever invented, Greenwald writes.

Iran
7) A new Department of Defense report to Congress appears to stress that while developing offensive capabilities, Iran's military posture is essentially defensive in character, writes Steven Aftergood of the Federation of American Scientists. "Iran's military doctrine remains designed to slow an invasion; target its adversaries' economic, political, and military interests; and force a diplomatic solution to hostilities while avoiding any concessions that challenge its core interests," the report says.

Israel/Palestine
8) Mahmud Sarsak, a Palestinian footballer who staged a hunger strike of nearly three months while in an Israeli jail, was freed on Tuesday and returned to Gaza, AFP reports. Following Sarsak's release, Amnesty International expressed "relief," while calling on Israel to "immediately end the use of administrative detention, and release all Palestinians held under any legal provisions allowing its use, or charge and try them fairly in a court of law consistent with international standards."

Saudi Arabia
9) Thousands attended a funeral in Saudi Arabia Tuesday for a man killed during protests in a restive region of the country's Eastern Province, a show of popular anger that came amid fears of a renewed crackdown on dissent, the New York Times reports. At least nine people have been killed since February 2011, according to human-rights activists. A human-rights activist said the government was often quick to resort to live ammunition and said that in addition to the deaths over the last year and a half, at least 35 protesters had been injured by gunfire in the same period.

Honduras
10) Honduras' top human rights official said he worries that the second fatal shooting by U.S. agents in Honduras is part of a widening confrontation between drug traffickers and U.S.-backed police and troops, AP reports. A similar raid on May 11 killed four people, whom locals claimed were innocent civilians traveling a river in Honduras at night. [Two months later, AP appears unwilling to render judgment on whether the four killed were actually civilians - JFP.]

Contents:
U.S./Top News

1) Ecuador 'won't be bullied on Assange extradition'
AFP, July 11, 2012
http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/world/ecuador-wont-be-bullied-on-assange/story-fnd134gw-1226423044072

Ecuador's President Rafael Correa has vowed his government would not yield to pressure in deciding whether to grant asylum to Julian Assange.

"We will consult with everyone we need to, but we will make a sovereign decision on whether or not to grant asylum to the Australian, Julian Assange," he said in an interview with local television station RTS.

Since last month, the WikiLeaks founder has been holed up in Ecuador's embassy in London, seeking political asylum to avoid being extradited to Sweden to face questioning over rape and sexual assault allegations.

Mr Correa said he had "great respect" for London, for Stockholm and for Washington but that Ecuador would not allow those governments to dictate its decision on whether or not to grant Mr Assange political asylum.

He said the mere possibility that Mr Assange could face capital punishment in the United States could be reason enough for his government to grant Mr Assange's asylum petition, if there was a chance he could end up there.

"If Assange's life is at risk, that is sufficient cause to approve his asylum," the leftist leader said, noting that "the death penalty exists in the United States for political crimes".

Ecuador has said it is reviewing the allegations of sexual misconduct against Mr Assange as it weighs the request. Mr Assange maintains he had consensual sexual relations with the alleged Swedish victims.

As he weighs his decision, Mr Correa said his government would "examine what the charges are in Sweden, how the judicial process is carried out, and if it is compatible with the humanist vision of justice that we have in Ecuador".

The WikiLeaks website and Mr Assange enraged the United States by publishing a flood of secret information about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The site's founder fears that if he is sent to Sweden he could subsequently be re-extradited to the United States to stand trial for espionage, on account of the 250,000 leaked US diplomatic cables that were published.
[...]

2) Taliban commander: we cannot win war and al-Qaida is a 'plague'
Interview: senior Taliban commander admits insurgents must seek settlement with other political forces in Afghanistan
Julian Borger, The Guardian, Tuesday 10 July 2012
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/jul/11/taliban-commander-interview-afghanistan-al-qaida

One of the Taliban's most senior commanders has admitted the insurgents cannot win the war in Afghanistan and that capturing Kabul is "a very distant prospect", obliging them to seek a settlement with other political forces in the country.

In a startlingly frank interview in Thursday's New Statesman, the commander – described as a Taliban veteran, a confidant of the leadership, and a former Guantánamo inmate – also uses the strongest language yet from a senior figure to distance the Afghan rebels from al-Qaida.

"At least 70% of the Taliban are angry at al-Qaida. Our people consider al-Qaida to be a plague that was sent down to us by the heavens," the commander says. "To tell the truth, I was relieved at the death of Osama [bin Laden]. Through his policies, he destroyed Afghanistan. If he really believed in jihad he should have gone to Saudi Arabia and done jihad there, rather than wrecking our country."

The New Statesman does not identify the Taliban commander, referring to him only as Mawlvi but the interview was conducted by Michael Semple, a former UN envoy to Kabul during the Taliban era who has maintained contacts with members of its leadership, and served on occasion as a diplomatic back-channel to the insurgents.

Semple, who is now at the Carr Centre for Human Rights Policy at Harvard, said the commander's identity had to be protected because the Taliban was highly sensitive about unauthorised pronouncements on the movement's behalf, but he added there was no doubt about Mawlvi's role within the movement.

"I maintain dialogue over time rather than have one-off contacts so I know who Mawlvi is and I know everyone he is talking to," he said.

Semple said that speaking unofficially allowed Mawlvi to stray from the rigidly controlled Taliban "party line" and voice the unvarnished views of a pragmatic wing of the leadership, which Semple describes as "making a serious bid to shape the strategy of the movement".

Mawlvi's scepticism over his own side's military prospects is in particularly striking contrast to the consistently triumphalist output of official Taliban statements. "It is in the nature of war that both sides dream of victory. But the balance of power in the Afghan conflict is obvious. It would take some kind of divine intervention for the Taliban to win this war," he says.

"The Taliban capturing Kabul is a very distant prospect. Any Taliban leader expecting to be able to capture Kabul is making a grave mistake. Nevertheless, the leadership also knows that it cannot afford to acknowledge this weakness. To do so would undermine the morale of Taliban personnel. The leadership knows the truth – that they cannot prevail over the power they confront," Mawlvi says.

As a result, he says that the Taliban has had to shelve its dream of re-establishing the Islamic emirate it set up when it was in power from 1996 to 2001. "Any side involved in a conflict like this has decided to fight for power. If they fall short of achieving national power, they have to settle for functioning as an organised party within the country," he admits.

He is scathing about President Hamid Karzai, who the Taliban has consistently derided as a US puppet. "There is little point in talking to Kabul. Real authority rests with the Americans," he says. "The only other serious political force in Afghanistan is that of the Northern Alliance" – a Tajik-led coalition that led the resistance to Taliban rule and is now a powerful player in Kabul.

David Miliband, who was an early champion of talking to the Taliban when he was foreign secretary, said the interview represented an opportunity that should be seized. "This landmark interview shows both the need for and difficulties in serious discussion with the Taliban about the future of Afghanistan," Miliband, who published the interview as the guest editor of the Statesman, argued.

"The candour and clarity of the remarks about al-Qaida, Nato and the Afghan government show that we are dealing with a sophisticated and long-term presence in the country that cannot be wished away," he said. "With 10,000 British troops in the country it is vital that those talks are taken forward now. Afghanistan cannot become the forgotten war."

Earlier this year, the Taliban sent representatives to Qatar to act as a political office for negotiations with the US. However, the talks soon stalled largely because of resistance to such contacts from Karzai, who felt he had been excluded, and reluctance in Washington to authorise the transfer of five Taliban prisoners in Guantánamo, something the Taliban had been led to believe had been agreed in preliminary talks as a confidence-building measure.

The Taliban officially suspended the contacts in March but kept its envoys in Qatar. It also sent a delegation last weekend to a reconciliation conference in Kyoto. In the article, Mawlvi signals that the Taliban's pragmatic wing at least remains committed to the talks.

"The world has long been keen to portray the Taliban as wild and uncivilised, ignorant of international norms and uninterested in government. Nato has long claimed that it wants peace but the Taliban are an obstacle who refuse to break links with al-Qaida. The Taliban wanted to turn the tables on Nato and show who are the real obstacles to peace," he says.

Mawlvi maintains the Taliban interest in negotiations goes beyond the immediate desire to get its men out of Guantánamo. If that had been the case, they would not have bothered going to Qatar but would simply have established a commission for prisoner exchange, he said.

Semple says it is hard to judge the influence of pragmatists such as Mawlvi in comparison to more radical jihadists grouped around the overall leader, Mullah Omar. Mawlvi's outspoken contempt for al-Qaida conflicts with evidence found in Osama Bin Laden's hideout in Abbottabad pointing to close working relationship between Omar and al-Qaida's leadership in orchestrating attacks on Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Semple argues that greater western commitment to talks would help the movement disentangle itself from al-Qaida. Mawlvi dismisses what he says are the few hundred al-Qaida fighters still in the region as irrelevant, saying the Taliban had not made a formal break only because it feared "it might alienate some Islamist constituencies".

It is also unclear whether the largely Pakistan-based Taliban leadership still has control over junior field commanders in Afghanistan, who have become progressively younger and more radical as a result of an intensive campaign of assassination spearheaded by US and British special forces over recent years.

"In truth, no one knows whether the Taliban leadership has the authority to make a peace deal," Mawlvi says. "But the same question could well be asked about Karzai, except that, with regard to Kabul, we know that authority is in the hands of someone else."

3) China backs Annan's call for Iran role in Syria talks
Douglas Hamilton, Reuters, Wed Jul 11, 2012 6:48pm IST
http://in.reuters.com/article/2012/07/11/syria-crisis-idINDEE86A09P20120711

Beirut - China threw its weight behind U.N. envoy Kofi Annan on Wednesday, backing his call to include Iran in internationally-brokered talks to resolve Syria's crisis, in the face of strong Western opposition.

"China believes that the appropriate resolution of the Syria issue cannot be separated from the countries in the region, especially the support and participation of those countries that are influential on relevant sides in Syria," Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Weimin said in Beijing.
[...]
Annan was due to brief the Security Council at 1530 GMT on Wednesday on the results of a lightning diplomatic shuttle this week to Damascus, Tehran and Baghdad - three capitals forming a Shi'ite Muslim axis of power in the Middle East.

Annan plunged into a tussle between the major powers on Tuesday, insisting that Iran, which strongly backs Assad and is regarded as an adversary of the West and Gulf Arabs, had a role to play in the drive to relaunch stalled peace efforts and begin talks towards a political transition.

In Baghdad, Annan also won backing from Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who like Assad has close ties to Tehran.
[...]

4) Obama's Global Health Policy Undercuts Reform At Home
Zach Carter & Sabrina Siddiqui, Huffington Post, 7/10/2012 http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/10/obamas-health-policy-global-health-reform_n_1659742.html

Washington -- A few hours after the Supreme Court upheld his signature health care legislation last week, President Barack Obama approached a White House podium, addressed the camera and declared that the nation's top justices had reaffirmed an important guiding principle of his presidency.

"Here in America -- in the wealthiest nation on Earth -- no illness or accident should lead to any family's financial ruin," Obama said.

That single sentence was a compelling invocation of nearly every political theme Obama has presented on the campaign trail this year: To live in a nation is to take part in a social contract; personal wealth does not determine human dignity; decent people in a nation of means do not allow the less fortunate to suffer needlessly.

But while the president has focused on lowering health care costs at home, he has repeatedly sought to impose higher drug prices abroad. For pharmaceutical companies, that has meant steady profits, but for the global poor in desperate need of affordable drugs, those lofty prices are often a matter of life and death.

Nevertheless, members of the Obama administration continue to pursue policies around drug pricing that multiple United Nations groups, the World Health Organization, human rights lawyers and patient advocates worldwide decry.

Two weeks ago, U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Deputy Director Teresa Stanek Rea sparked an uproar among public health experts when she testified before Congress on multiple administration strategies to affect drug pricing abroad by using American international political muscle. Her testimony focused on the Indian government's efforts earlier this year to create an affordable generic alternative to an expensive cancer drug called Nexavar, which had been patented by Bayer AG, a multinational pharmaceutical conglomerate best known in the United States for aspirin pills.

Over the course of 70 minutes, Rea repeatedly castigated India's government for approving the generic drug, calling the move an "egregious" violation of World Trade Organization treaties. India's decision, Rea said, "dismayed and surprised" her, and she boasted about "personally" engaging "various agencies of the Indian government" in efforts to overturn it.

"This is unprecedented, really shocking testimony," says Judit Rius, the U.S. manager of Doctors Without Borders Access to Medicines Campaign, an international humanitarian aid group that won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1999. "It doesn't have any ground in international legal norms. I've never really seen a U.S. government official misinforming Congress in public like this. It's embarrassing for the White House."
[...]
Thus far the Indian government has resisted American pressure and continues to offer the generic alternative, which was approved in March after several months of negotiations with Bayer.

Not once during her testimony did Rea -- or any member of Congress -- cite the price Bayer posted in India for its version of the drug. Bayer, which earned $3.4 billion last year, was charging over $5,000 a month for standard doses, according to data from the Indian government. The cost of a generic version: $157 a month.

It was the high price that Bayer demanded for its cancer medication that prompted the Indian government to act. In a nation with a per capita income of just $1,410, the Bayer drug is financially out of reach for most Indians. The government authorized Natco Pharma to begin selling the generic version and ordered the firm to pay Bayer a 6 percent royalty on the proceeds.

That practice, known as compulsory licensing, is commonplace. It's explicitly protected by World Trade Organization treaties, an effort to ensure that good health care is not merely a privilege for the rich -- the kind of principle outlined by Obama in his celebration of the Affordable Care Act. The U.S. even deploys the compulsory licensing process to address domestic drug shortages.

But at the hearing, Rea said she planned to deploy the pressure it has used against India in other countries, too. "This is front and center," Rea said. "[We are] trying to stop the granting of further compulsory licenses."

Public health advocates have an entirely different take on the issue. They emphasize that Rea, who declined to comment for this article, did not offer a legal rationale for her agency's opposition to compulsory licensing, which goes against decades of international practices. Even the "Frequently Asked Questions" section of the WTO's website details broad leeway to approve generics that clearly apply to the Bayer cancer drug.

"Ignorance is no excuse for bad argument," says Anand Grover, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health and Senior Advocate for the Supreme Court of India, who notes that, under WTO rules, "Setting an exorbitant price which makes the drug unavailable to those who need it ... [is] grounds for the issuance of a compulsory license."

Bayer declined to comment on specific pricing for the drug, or the Indian government's calculations, based on Bayer data, that just 2 percent of eligible patients had received the drug during its first few years on the market.
[...]

5) NOAA links extreme weather to climate change
Wyatt Andrews, CBS News, July 10, 2012 7:16 PM
http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-18563_162-57469878/noaa-links-extreme-weather-to-climate-change/

On Tuesday, for the first time, government scientists are saying recent extreme weather events are likely connected to man-made climate change. It's the conclusion of a report by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The report says last year's record drought in Texas was made "roughly 20 times more likely" because of man made climate change, specifically meaning warming that comes from greenhouse gasses like carbon dioxide. The study, requested by NOAA, looked at 50 years of weather data in Texas and concluded that man-made warming had to be a factor in the drought.

The head of NOAA's climate office, Tom Karl, said: "What we're seeing, not only in Texas but in other phenomena in other parts of the world, where we can't explain these events by natural variability alone. They're just too rare, too uncommon."
[...]

6) Bravery and drone pilots
Glenn Greenwald, Salon, Tuesday, Jul 10, 2012 03:54 PM CDT
The Pentagon considers awarding war medals to those who operate America's death-delivering video games
http://www.salon.com/2012/07/10/bravery_and_drone_pilots/

The effort to depict drone warfare as some sort of courageous and noble act is intensifying:

'The Pentagon is considering awarding a Distinguished Warfare Medal to drone pilots who work on military bases often far removed from the battlefield. . . .

[Army Institute of Heraldry chief Charles] Mugno said most combat decorations require "boots on the ground" in a combat zone, but he noted that "emerging technologies" such as drones and cyber combat missions are now handled by troops far removed from combat.

The Pentagon has not formally endorsed the medal, but Mugno's institute has completed six alternate designs for commission approval. . . .

The proposed medal would rank between the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Soldier's Medal for exceptional conduct outside a combat zone.'

So medals would be awarded for sitting safely ensconced in a bunker on U.S. soil and launching bombs with a video joystick at human beings thousands of miles away.
[...]
Whatever one thinks of the justifiability of drone attacks, it's one of the least "brave" or courageous modes of warfare ever invented. It's one thing to call it just, but to pretend it's "brave" is Orwellian in the extreme. Indeed, the whole point of it is to allow large numbers of human beings to be killed without the slightest physical risk to those doing the killing. Killing while sheltering yourself from all risk is the definitional opposite of bravery.
[...]

Iran
7) Pentagon: Iran Seeks to "Force a Diplomatic Solution to Hostilities"
Steven Aftergood, Secrecy News, Federation of American Scientists, July 11th, 2012
http://www.fas.org/blog/secrecy/2012/07/dod_iran.html

Iran continues to develop its military capabilities, including ballistic missiles, nuclear weapons-related technologies, and unconventional forces, according to a new Department of Defense report to Congress.

The Pentagon assessment was first reported yesterday in "Iran's Ballistic Missiles Improving, Pentagon Finds" by Tony Capaccio, Bloomberg News.

The report itself appears to stress that while developing offensive capabilities, Iran's military posture is essentially defensive in character.

"Iran's military doctrine remains designed to slow an invasion; target its adversaries' economic, political, and military interests; and force a diplomatic solution to hostilities while avoiding any concessions that challenge its core interests," the report says.

Similarly, "Iran's unconventional forces are trained according to its asymmetric warfare doctrine and would present a formidable force while defending Iranian territory."

A copy of the new Pentagon Annual Report on Military Power of Iran, dated April 2012 but transmitted to Congress late last month, is available here.
http://www.fas.org/man/eprint/dod-iran.pdf

Israel/Palestine
8) Israel frees Palestinian footballer Sarsak
AFP, July 11, 2012
http://news.yahoo.com/israel-frees-palestinian-long-term-hunger-striker-142301203--sow.html

Mahmud Sarsak, a Palestinian footballer who staged a hunger strike of nearly three months while in an Israeli jail, was freed on Tuesday and returned to the Gaza Strip.
An AFP journalist saw the 25-year-old enter the Palestinian territory in a Red Cross ambulance to be greeted by hundreds of people, including relatives, who waved Palestinian flags and pictures of other prisoners.

Tens of them surrounded the ambulance chanting "Victory, victory!" and "Freedom for the prisoners!"

"I cannot describe my joy," Sarsak told journalists in Beit Hanun. "But at the same time I cannot forget the cries of the prisoners who are still in Israeli prisons."

"This is a victory for the prisoners and I thank all the Palestinian, Arab and international bodies and people who stood up for me," he said.

His mother told AFP she was proud of her son's "victory in the empty-stomach battle."

"I am proud Mahmud won over the Israeli prison guards and hope all prisoners will be released," she said.
[...]
Sarsak went on hunger strike for nearly three months in protest against his detention without charge under Israel's "unlawful combatants" law, which is the equivalent of administrative detention but for people who are not West Bank residents. His detention order was due to expire or be renewed on August 22.

But on June 18, his lawyer announced that he had reached an agreement with Israel's prison services to end his hunger strike in exchange for his release on July 10.

Sarsak was arrested in July 2009 while on his way from Gaza to sign on with a West Bank football team.

His protest attracted international attention, with world football governing body FIFA and rights group Amnesty International expressing concern over his ongoing detention.

Following Sarsak's release, Amnesty International expressed "relief," while calling on Israel to "immediately end the use of administrative detention, and release all Palestinians held under any legal provisions allowing its use, or charge and try them fairly in a court of law consistent with international standards."
[...]

Saudi Arabia
9) Angry Throngs at a Funeral in Saudi Arabia
Kareem Fahim, New York Times, July 10, 2012
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/11/world/middleeast/in-saudi-arabia-thousands-at-funeral-of-protester.html

Cairo - Thousands of people attended a funeral in Saudi Arabia on Tuesday for a man killed during protests in a restive region of the country's Eastern Province, a show of popular anger that came amid fears of a renewed crackdown on dissent.
[...]
Activists said the man, Muhammed el-Filfil, had been protesting the shooting and arrest on Sunday by government security forces of a prominent Shiite cleric in the Qatif region. Mr. Filfil was one of at least two people killed when security forces fired live ammunition at the protesters in the village of Awamiya, the activists said. A government official denied that any such clash had occurred.

The oil-rich Eastern Province, the stronghold of Saudi Arabia's Shiite minority, has long been a focal point of anger at the rigidly conservative Sunni monarchy, and for Shiite complaints about a policy of entrenched, official discrimination.

Over the last year and a half, fearing the spread of the Arab uprisings, the government, using a mix of money and arms, moved forcefully to quell the discontent in places like Qatif. Jafer al-Shayeb, a member of Qatif's municipal council, said despite offers of development from the government, "There have been no solutions to the major issues that people are complaining about."

The unrest has persisted, fueled by detentions of dissidents and growing calls for political freedoms and civil rights. At least nine people have been killed since February 2011 in bouts of violence that seem to occur every few months, according to human-rights activists.
[...]
During the large protests in Awamiya after the arrest, Mr. Filfil and another man, Akbar el-Shakhoury, were fatally shot during clashes with security officers, according to Waleed Sulais, a human-rights activist in Qatif. Mr. Sulais said that the government was often quick to resort to live ammunition and said that in addition to the deaths over the last year and a half, at least 35 protesters had been injured by gunfire in the same period.
[...]

Honduras
10) Honduras shootings spark fears of escalation
Alberto Arce, Associated Press, July 8, 2012
http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/07/08/2887668/dea-agents-killed-pilot-of-drug.html

Tegucigalpa, Honduras -- Honduras' top human rights official said Monday he worries that the second fatal shooting by U.S. agents in Honduras is part of a widening confrontation between drug traffickers and U.S.-backed police and troops.

The Honduran government defended its work with the U.S., saying that the Americans have helped to dramatically increase drug seizures in the country.

But human rights ombudsman Ramon Custodio said Monday that "sooner or later air and sea operations won't be enough and we'll see military and police operations on land."

A U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration spokeswoman said Sunday that the pilot of a suspected drug flight was shot dead by two DEA agents this month after he refused to surrender and made a threatening gesture.
[...]
U.S. officials say that in late June an agent shot a suspected drug trafficker as he reached for his gun in a holster during a raid in a remote northern part of Honduras. That operation resulted in the seizure of 792 pounds (360 kilograms) of cocaine, the officials said.

A similar raid on May 11 killed four people, whom locals claimed were innocent civilians traveling a river in Honduras at night. Honduran police said the victims were in a boat that fired on authorities. The DEA said none of its agents fired their guns in that incident.
[...]

---
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I just read the other day that there are other factors that are affecting the weather and when taken into consideration the earth's temperature is actually cooling even with the supposedly overloaded carbon cycle. Sound's like another scare tactic trying to commoditize the weather.

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