News Round Up - Shakira, Sea Lion and Syria

Posted by Andrew |

  • Benjamin Netanyahu yesterday became the first Israeli prime minister to make the 45-minute flight to Cyprus, bolstering a flourishing new relationship spawned mainly by multi-billion dollar gas finds in the sea between the two countries. Talks focused on cooperation in exploiting the hydrocarbon bonanza that, along with the Arab Spring and Israel's ruptured alliance with Turkey, is changing the region's politics in ways yet to crystallise.

  • Wars cost lots and lots of money -- and if a substantial chunk of the GOP crowd wants these wars and feels that it is in our national interest to have them, then by all means they should start lining up some of the wealthiest in the country who are helping to agitate for these conflicts to pay more in taxes for them.

  • Now, I am not suggesting that an Israeli attack on Iran would have anything close to these consequences. But I am suggesting that it is profoundly shortsighted to base a major decision — to go to war — on narrow technical considerations like windows of vulnerability. Many in Washington in March 2003 insisted that we could not wait for nuclear inspectors to keep at their work in Iraq because we faced a closing window — the weather was going to get too hot by June and July to send in U.S. forces. As a result, we rushed into a badly planned military invasion and occupation in which soldiers had to endure combat in Iraq for nine long and very hot years.

  • Turkey’s parliament is due on Thursday to grant the prime minister powers to block investigations into some officials – the latest in a battle within the state pitting the government against prosecutors. The move is a reaction to a court summons last week for Hakan Fidan, the head of Turkey’s MIT intelligence agency, as a suspect in a long running terrorist investigation. The dispute centres on contacts between the intelligence service and alleged Kurdish terrorists.

  • Word Bank president Robert Zoellick will step down from his high-profile post when his current five-year term comes to an end on June 30.

  • A third danger is imitation. There is every reason to assume that other states, as well as some non-state actors, will decide to follow us down this particular path. The United States used to say that it opposed "targeted assassinations," but now we we are legimitizing this practice and others are bound to get into the act too. Similarly, by paying less and less attention to the old norm of sovereignty, we are making it more difficult to object when other states start interfering in each other's internal affairs. If we can send drones and/or special forces into any country we choose, why can't other states violate national borders in order to advance some policy objective of their own? What are we going to say then?

  • Desert and drought-prone nations increasingly rely on water from other countries and don’t even know it. That's the conclusion of a study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that maps the world's water flow.

  • Saudi Arabia said it halted exports of cement and clinker to prevent shortages of the products and stabilize prices in the Arab world’s largest economy.

  • Colombian pop singer Shakira has blamed her Blackberry for sparking a sea lion attack -- suggesting the marine mammal mistook the shiny black phone for a fish.

  • They have reconciled themselves to a Romney candidacy because they see Romney as essentially a weak and passive president who will concede leadership to congressional conservatives: All we have to do is replace Obama. ...  We are not auditioning for fearless leader. We don't need a president to tell us in what direction to go. We know what direction to go. We want the Ryan budget. ... We just need a president to sign this stuff. We don't need someone to think it up or design it. The leadership now for the modern conservative movement for the next 20 years will be coming out of the House and the Senate.

  • Jordan received offers from two groups of companies for a project that would desalinate water from the Red Sea and help replenish the Dead Sea, a spokesman at the Ministry of Water and Irrigation said.

  • Activists say the protests have been motivated by grievances over depleted water resources in the arid Imider area, damage caused to crops from waste water ejected by the mining plant and complaints over the lack of basic amenities.

  • Five people, including a former member of Turkey's main intelligence service, have been detained for allegedly abducting a former Syrian military officer from a refugee camp in southern Turkey and sending him back to Syria, where he was reportedly executed last month.

  • Emirates Airline said on Monday it is to launch flights to Portugal from July 9 as part of a recent push to improve links to mainland Europe.

  • Irish rock star Bob Geldof has raised $200 million for his "8 Mile" African private equity fund, cementing a shift in his global anti-poverty crusade from rich world debt forgiveness to promoting private enterprise.

  • Dubai is to start work on a new Zoo this year in a bid to replace the existing, outdated facility with a new park of “world class” standards, Dubai Municipality has said. Plans for the new animal centre are expected to be signed off in the next two months with the help of special consultants, who will decide a suitable site, the required area as well as the location and grouping of animals, the municipality said.

  • When President Obama presents his 2013 budget blueprint to Congress on Monday, he will also be clearly laying out his campaign strategy to win November’s election. Instead of the deficit cuts that were highlighted during last year’s presentation, the White House will now focus on higher taxes for the wealthy and higher spending on popular jobs and infrastructure programs.

  • ** Gideon Levy as always, telling hard truths that others do not want to hear ** One can be truly impressed not only by the manner in which Israel annexed the Golan Heights - through legislation opposed to international law, and not recognized by even one state in the world - but also by the way we annexed the Golan's past and present. We tell ourselves pretty lies about how most of the "Druze" refuse to accept Israeli citizenship only due to their fear of Syria, otherwise they would all be Zionist Druze, whom we love to love. That concept is adopted without anyone bothering to ask them about their national aspirations. We believe that, thanks to their apple and pita and labane cheese stands, they're in an ideal position just as they are - despite being cut off from their brethren and torn from their families and country.

  • Police prevented MK Moshe Feiglin (Likud) from entering the Temple Mount Sunday morning, accusing Feiglin and Likud activists of attempting to disrupt the order at the site. Feiglin and three activists had attempted to enter the site, but went to pray at the Western Wall after police prevented them from carrying out their original plan.

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