The NSA is not just spying on regular US citizens, it is also passing the data to Israel without legal limits on the use of the data

• Secret deal places no legal limits on use of data by Israelis
• Only official US government communications protected

The National Security Agency routinely shares raw intelligence data with Israel without first sifting it to remove information about US citizens, a top-secret document provided to the Guardian by whistleblower Edward Snowden reveals.

The disclosure that the NSA agreed to provide raw intelligence data to a foreign country contrasts with assurances from the Obama administration that there are rigorous safeguards to protect the privacy of US citizens caught in the dragnet. The intelligence community calls this process “minimization”, but the memorandum makes clear that the information shared with the Israelis would be in its pre-minimized state.

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/sep/11/nsa-americans-personal-data-israel-documents

 

Iran’s chemical weapon survivors now suffer under medicine shortage due to sanctions

Ahmad, a survivor of chemical warfare during the Iran–Iraq war of 1980-88, has already had more than 50 operations on his eyes. He uses multiple inhalers every day to alleviate the pain from his lungs, 60% of which were burned, and he takes a multitude of pills just to stay alive.

http://www.theguardian.com/world/iran-blog/2013/sep/02/iran-chemical-weapons-wmd-sanctions

His story, which exemplifies the consequences of warfare conducted with weapons of mass destruction, is complicated by the fact that western sanctions against Iran have added an additional layer to the suffering: the shortage of medicine.

Doctors Matthias Jochheim of Germany and Gunnar Westberg of Sweden decided to take action to get vital medicines into Iran after they saw first-hand how the sanctions regime was causing critical pharmaceutical shortages in the country.

Why France, UK and Germany dance to the tune of Qatar

France enjoys a privileged partnership with one of Iran’s main competitors, namely Qatar. Under Nicolas Sarkozy’s presidency, Emir Hamad Ben Khalifa al-Thani was the first Arab State leader to be received at the Elysées Palace in 2007. It is now François Hollande who continues this special relationship. Since his election, Qatar is the country which was received the most at the Elysées with a visit of the Emir on August 22 and two more discreet visits of Prime Minister Hamad bin Jasem al-Thani.

This economic power invests billions in real estate, in the capital of CAC 40 companies (such as Total, Vivendi, Veolia, Lagardère, Suez, LVMH or even Bouygues and Vinci for the different sites of the world to the Qatar 2022 and also the construction of the Friendship Bridge between Qatar and Bahrain), sport (with the purchase of the Parisian club PSG — soccer and handball), the media (Al Jazeera acquired French Champions League rights) and most recently in projects in the Parisian suburbs.
With the European economic crisis, Qatar’s partnership with France gives the small Emirate the ability to sway the French decision-making, something Qatar denies.
 
Same investments in Germany where Qatar holds 17 percent of the capital of Volkswagen, 10 percent of Porsche, 9 percent of the Hochtief construction giant or even more recently 3 percent of Siemens.
 
The Qatari investments are also important in Great Britain. With 20 percent of the shares of the London Stock Exchange, Qatar is the main shareholder of Barclays. The Emirate has also invested massively in the Olympic Games, it has financed 95 percent of the highest building in London (the Shard) and British homes are supplied by up to 59.3 percent by Qatar’s Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG).
 
As a result, Qatar advances its long-term interest by investing and signing important contracts with the European governments in crisis. Therefore, Qatar — the first Arab country to propose Arab military intervention — has more leverage to increase pressure against Damascus and through the U.N. Security Council (leverage Qatar also has in the Arab world through al Jazeera).
 

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/milad-jokar/war-in-syria-geopolitics-_b_2378683.html

Death toll of the gas attack – US: 1429, Doctors Without borders: 355 – Associated Press

Inconsistencies over the death toll and other details related to the attack also have fueled doubts among skeptics.

The Obama administration says 1,429 people died in 12 locations mostly east of the capital, an estimate close to the one put out by the Western-backed Syrian National Coalition. When asked for victims’ names, however, the group provided a list of 395. On that list, some of the victims were identified by a first name only or said to be members of a certain family. There was no explanation for the hundreds of missing names.

In Ghouta, Majed Abu Ali, a spokesman for 17 clinics and field hospitals near Damascus, produced the same list, saying the hospitals were unable to identify all the dead.

Casualty estimates by other groups are far lower: The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says it only counts victims identified by name, and that its current total stands at 502. It has questioned the U.S. number and urged the Obama administration to release the information its figure is based on. The AP also has repeatedly asked for clarification on those numbers.

The humanitarian group Doctors Without Borders says it has not been able to update its initial Aug. 24 estimate of 355 killed because communication with those on the ground around Damascus is difficult. That estimate was based on reports from three hospitals in the area supported by the group.

http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/lingering-doubts-syria-gas-attack-evidence-20191332?singlePage=true

British military officer expresses doubts on use of chemical weapons by Assad – Associated Press

“We can’t get our heads around this — why would any commander agree to rocketing a suburb of Damascus with chemical weapons for only a very short-term tactical gain for what is a long-term disaster,” said Charles Heyman, a former British military officer who edits The Armed Forces of the U.K., an authoritative bi-annual review of British forces.

http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/lingering-doubts-syria-gas-attack-evidence-20191332?singlePage=true

Iranian Froeign Minister Zarif condemns Holocaust.

Mohammad Javad Zarif told Tasnim news agency that he sent a tweet saying: “Happy Rosh Hashana”.

In a Twitter exchange that followed, he also distanced himself from the Holocaust denials of former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Iran has a Jewish community of between 25,000 and 80,000 so the fact that Iranian leaders are congratulating Jews on the occasion of Rosh Hashana would not necessarily be controversial, say correspondents.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-23990717

Background on Zarif:

Zarif was born on 7 January 1960 in Tehran.[1][2] He studied international relations at San Francisco State University.[3] He attended the Josef Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver and obtained a PhD in international law and policy.[4][5]

In 2000, Zarif served as chairman of the Asian preparatory meeting of the World Conference on Racism and as the chairman of the United Nations Disarmament Commission.

Zarif is married and has a daughter and a son who were born in the US.[15] He is fluent in English.[9]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mohammad_Javad_Zarif

John McCain playing poker on iPhone during Syria debate

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.

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/sep/04/john-mccain-poker-iphone-syria-debate

John Kerry dined with Assad 2009 and 2011 in Damascus

John Kerry (who was then senator for Massachusetts) and his wife Teresa dined with the Assads in February 2009 at a restaurant in Damascus
John Kerry (who was then senator for Massachusetts) and his wife Teresa dined with the Assads in February 2009 at a restaurant in Damascus.
Kerry, who dined with Assad in 2009 and in 2011 said he had been “very generous with me,” certainly wants to suggest that Assad belongs in a special category akin to Hitler and Hussein. But list of countries and/or tyrants, however, is larger than just three; it’s at least six.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/syria/10283045/John-Kerry-and-Bashar-al-Assad-dined-in-Damascus.html

Iranian president tweets Rosh Hashanah blessing to Jews

Hassan Rouhani’s message to mark start of Jewish new year unexpected in Israel, which has identified Iran as security threat

Iran‘s president, Hassan Rouhani, tweeted: “As the sun is about to set here in #Tehran I wish all Jews, especially Iranian Jews, a blessed Rosh Hashanah.”

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/sep/05/iranian-president-rosh-hashanah-blessing

Putin to Obama: Majority of the G20 countries against military operation in Syria

Putin said only Turkey, Canada, Saudi Arabia and France supported a military operation against Syria, while Russia, China, India, Indonesia, Argentina, Brazil, South Africa and Italy opposed the option at the G20 summit. “You said the vote was 50/50. This is not quite so.”

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/sep/06/obama-alliance-assad-chemical-weapons