‘Baltimore turns violent’

Protests break out in Baltimore due to the death of a 25 year old African American, Freddie Gray, who was held in police custody where he suffered spinal injuries and died one week later. What started as a peaceful rally gradually escalated into a violent riot.

Peaceful marches were held before his death on April 19th, until April 25th where the situation shifted and a small minority started to convert the marches into violent riots. As a consequence, police intervention was necessary and 35 people were arrested.  Due to the aggressiveness of the protestors, 9 million dollars are needed to repair the damages.

The death of Freddie Gray is the latest in a series of black Americans who were killed by police officers. Last August, Michael Brown was shot dead by police officer Wilson in Ferguson. Another recent case occurred in Staten Island, where Eric Garner was wrestled to the ground by a police officer; providing some explanation to the reactions taking place in Baltimore. These circumstances nurture a negative discourse among the American public and creates frustrations with the police brutality and the heightened media coverage is highlighting the tensions.

Six police officers have been suspended. The names of the police officers were released to the press shortly after their suspension; they state that they did not use force against Freddie Gray.

Eric Kowalczyk, police department spokesman captain, says that the suspensions are standard procedures after an “in custody death”. There is an internal investigation taking place to clarify the case.

President Barack Obama condemned the actions of the public (involved in the violence) in his first public intervention after the Baltimore protests. Stating that any kind of violence, (that has been taking in Baltimore during the last weeks) has no justification and “There’s no excuse for the kind of violence that we saw yesterday”. He also stated: “I think there’s some communities that have to do some soul searching. But I think we as a country have to do some soul searching. This is not new. It’s been going on for decades”.

Maryland’s State Governor, Larry Hogan, declared the state of emergency due “to address the growing violence and unrest in Baltimore City”.

The candidate of the democrat party, Hillary Clinton, said that the violence events are “heart breaking” and that there’s an urgent need to reform the system.

After a week of violent demonstrations, police officers and National Guard troops are leaving the area. Business owners are trying to get back to their daily routine and reconstruct what has been damaged due to the significant visible and emotional impacts of the riots.  Individuals in the affected areas will be the subject of more mass media coverage in the coming months, evidently with particular focus on news regarding police and police conduct.

‘Obama apologises for accidental drone strike deaths’

On the 23rd April 2015 Obama held a press conference in the White House to publicly apologise for the drone strike in January that resulted in the death of an American and Italian who were held hostage in an Al Qaeda sanctuary in Northern Pakistan.

The official goal of the mission was achieved by killing Ahmed Farouq who was a well-known leader of the terrorist group Al Qaeda. The two men killed were American Warren Weinstein and Italian Giovanni Lo Porto.

“Despite hundreds of hours of surveillance, the White House said it had no reason to believe the US and Italian hostages were being detained in the Al Qaeda compound targeted during the operation”

This apology was not necessarily anticipated by the general public both in the US and Italy as it is unusual for the US government to “disclose information”. There are questions currently being raised as to why Obama has felt the need to “take full responsibility” for these deaths. This is potentially to increase transparency and public knowledge of the current situation of drone strikes and attacks. However critics are questioning the timing due to the citizenship of the victims involved. There are further criticisms because the apology was a result of the death of individuals from the Western world.

Obama appears to prefer the use of drones to minimise the casualties of US troops oversees. Since 2008 Pakistan (see graph below) has been the main target for US drones. Obama has previously had support for the use of drones from both the Democrats and Republicans.

Source: New York Times

Source: New York Times

Giovanni Lo Porto was an Italian aid worker who was abducted while working in Pakistan to improve the quality of drinking water in 2010. Warren Weinstein was a “contract worker for the US agency for international development”

Reactions to what happened:

  • Mira Esposito a colleague of Lo Porto said “I do not know what happened and why he was killed. I would like to know more. We miss the people we know, but many more are killed for no reason from a distance by just pushing a button”
  • An investigator from Amnesty international: “Obama’s statement is really moving,” “and we welcome that, I welcome the fact that he has done that” But he added “there are hundreds, potentially thousands of others who deserve the same apology”
  • Elaine Weinstein criticises the US government for “inconsistent and disappointing” assistance during her husband’s captivity. “But they failed to take action earlier in his captivity when an opportunity presented itself”

It is clear that both the family and friends are devastated by the events and are critical of the use of drones by the US government.

Obama attempted to show remorse and transparency with this apology however there is a back log of criticism that follows this recent press conference because a presidential apology is so rare.

Nuclear Insist

Iran has been facing with economic embargo for 34 years and with the agreement that the government accepted in Geneva, may be cause to new allies come up in Middle East. Middle East was dealing with two important things in the last two weeks. First one is about Egypt and Turkey’s strategic locations and the second one is about the agreement in Geneva. The political broadcaster of Al Jazeera –Mervan Bişara- says that the uzlaşma between Washington and Tahran will cause new allies in the Middle East. On the other hand, according to Shashank Joshi from the Royal United Services Institute rapprochement of Iran and U.S can change the power in Middle East. Joshi also thinks that, in case of any attack from Washington,  Saudi Arabia and other Arabic countries won’t be able to defend themselves.

The International Atomic Energy(IAEA) has been met  and the community agreed that it’s forbidden to have nuclear weapons in the middle east countries.

The President of U.S, Barrack Obama, says about the meeting that it would help Iran to provide against having nuclear weapons.

Key points of the deal have been released by the White House:

  • Iran will stop enriching uranium beyond 5%, and “neutralise” its stockpile of uranium enriched beyond this point
  • Iran will give greater access to inspectors including daily access at Natanz and Fordo nuclear sites
  • There will be no further development of the Arak plant which it is believed could produce plutonium
  • In return, there will be no new nuclear-related sanctions for six months if Iran sticks by the accord
  • Iran will also receive sanctions relief worth about $7bn (£4.3bn) on sectors including precious metals

Iranian President, Hassan Rouhani, the right of uranium amplification has discovered. However, Israil thinks that the result of the agreement was a “terrible mistake” because Rouhani thinks that Israel has right to defend themself if it’s necessary. According to the speech of Rouhani, Kerry said that the agreement will be more safier for allies in the Middle East, especially Israel.

What Iran will do:

  • Halt enrichment of uranium above 5% purity. (Uranium enriched to 3.5-5% can be used for nuclear power reactors, 20% for nuclear medicines and 90% for a nuclear bomb.)
  • “Neutralise” its stockpile of near-20%-enriched uranium, either by diluting it to less than 5% or converting it to a form which cannot be further enriched
  • Not install any more centrifuges (the machines used to enrich uranium)
  • Leave half to three-quarters of centrifuges installed in Natanz and Fordo enrichment facilities inoperable (Read our guide to Iran’s nuclear facilities)
  • Not build any more enrichment facilities
  • Not increase its stockpile of 3.5% low-enriched uranium
  • Halt work on the construction of its heavy-water reactor at Arak, not attempt to produce plutonium there (an alternative to highly enriched uranium used for an atomic weapon)
  • Provide daily access to Natanz and Fordo sites to IAEA inspectors and access to other facilities, mines and mills
  • Provide “long-sought” information on the Arak reactor and other data 

What the world’s power do:

  • Provide “limited, temporary, targeted, and reversible [sanctions] relief”. Not impose further nuclear-related sanctions if Iran meets its commitments
  • Suspend certain sanctions on trade in gold and precious metals, Iran’s automotive sector, and its petrochemical exports
  • Licence safety-related repairs and inspections inside Iran for certain Iranian airlines
  • Transfer $4.2bn (£2.6bn) to Iran in instalments from sales of its oil

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-25080217

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-11709428-

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-25074729-

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-25074729

 

“DEAL”. Submitted on Sunday 24th, 2.04 a.m.

“DEAL”. Those four letters made the difference at 2.04 a.m. Sunday at Genevra, Switzerland.  After months of diplomatic work since the election of the relative moderate Hassan Rouhani as Iranian President in June, Iran and six powerful countries of the world finally have come to an agreement.

The deal consists on Iran halting their actions to obtain nuclear weapons while those six countries (USA, Germany, France, Britain, Russia and China) will relieveNuclear deal some economical sanctions. The point is that Iran can’t have uranium enriched beyond 5%, which means that they have to dilute the 20% uranium they have. In scientific terms, that didn’t seem to be a great avance, because the most difficult thing is to enriched it to 5%, which is still allowed in this arrangement. 

Of course, apart of the peace reasons there are some business interests involve. The nuclear deal will allow the country to export more crude oil as it will make its transportation less expensive, which is interesting for both sides Iran and the global powers.

Despite almost the whole international community accepts this deal as a first step to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapons, Israel thinks that it’s a threat for them. “Israel has many friends and allies, but when they’re mistaken, it is my duty to speak out… the regime in Iran is committed to destroying Israel. And Israel has the right and the obligation to defend itself by itself from any threat.” said the Israeli Prime Minister, Binyamin Netanyahu.

“Ultimately, we understand why Israel is particularly skeptical about Iran. […] This is not simply about trusting the Iranian government. There are strict verification measures.” A senior administration official said. This governments are aware that Israel has some point of reason while being suspicious and they will be apply control measures.

The Iranian Foreign Minister, Zarif, said he hopes the nuclear agreement will lead to “concrete steps” to improve relations between Iran and Western powers.” as iranian population are taking this agreement as a huge step towards peace and open-doors.

Now we have six months of trial and during this time experts will have a exhaustive revision of the Iranian nuclear materials and processes. Despite of the fact that this while issue had been treated by some parts of the society as an Obama victory, Obama himself had said that this is just a first step in a long way that will be difficult and full of obstacles. As Bill Nelson said: “It is a choice between a pause or imminent war. I choose a verifiable pause.”

Sam Stein

Uncle Sam Is Dancing With Mata Hari

United States is showing that things really can go bad to worse. After the government shut down, it has been revealed that the US is monitoring the cell phone of Angela Merkel, who is the chancellor of Germany.

In response to suspicions of espionage, the German Federal Commissioner of Data Protection, Peter Schaar, demanded definitive measures to prevent electronic breaking.  Now, from both Germany and the European Union, delegates will investigate the US surveillance programs have had on EU citizens. On the other hand, the German Government invited the American ambassador for a meeting to discuss the issue in depth.

“As a matter of policy, we have made clear that the United States gathers foreign intelligence of the type gathered by all nations”, said Jay Carney, spokesman of the White House, who avoid to clarify whether US had spied Merkel’s personal phone in the past.

The US government defended itself by saying that to avoid terrorism and terrorist actions, it is acceptable to spy on other governments. So it’s obvious that US think they have some kind of right to do this when it comes to their own good, which is a controversial topic that most of the people disagree on. After Merkel saying that, her country’s confidence in the United States is “shaken” and the positive image that Obama had in the European public was affected in a bad way. Also, after all, other European countries are concerned about their own security too.

Besides all of these, the US government is having a tough time. The government is being critical on Obama because he didn’t know about the situation. The US Senator of California, Dianne Feinstein, told that: “As far as I’m concerned, Congress needs to know exactly what our intelligence community is doing” and “To that end, the committee will initiate a major review into all intelligence collection programs”. She explained that not knowing about this is also a big problem both for Obama and for the Senate Intelligence Committee, which she chairs. Also, Claude Moraes, Chair of European Parliament Civil Liberties Committee Delegation, said: “The EU citizens find The US spying disturbing”.

What is clear is that new the technologies had brought different ways to spy, bypassing the law with loopholes that need to be legislated the sooner the better for the common good.

Despite of the fact that Snowden, the employee at NSA who is known by leaking information about government secrets, was described as a “betrayer” at the beginning, the enormous consequences of his revelations made harder to raise the voice against him. More people are asking themselves: is it ethical for a government to spy other countries and their own citizens?

“Unacceptable” is the word used by the chancellor Angela Merkel to describe this spy scandal. But, the question here is not only what the US allies are doing, but also how the population is taking it.

 
1382382712_305244_1382820530_noticia_normal                                                                                                                 Graphic made by El Pais (Spanish newspaper)

Why Do Republicans Hate Obamacare?

Nowadays, we constantly hear the word “Obamacare” as it’s the most popular topic right now. Obamacare aims to get all the US citizens under a health insurance with this campaign. Now, in the current system there are two different kinds of healthcare insurances. The first one is The Medicare, which is for people who is over 65 and The Medicaid is for the ones who can’t afford to get a health insurance for themselves. So, as said before, with this new regulation The Democrats aim to get all the population under a governmental insurance.

With this new law, some new regulations will be made. Such as: companies with more than 50 employees will be obligated to provide a healthcare to their workers and people who can’t afford a healthcare will get an aid from the government. The result of this act is to provide healthcare to all American citizens who work or don’t have enough money for this.

Since President Obama signed the Affordable Healthcare Act in 2010, The Republican Party is opposing it. Although they have their own reasons, this healthcare law called “Obamacare” was actually inspired from the Republican’s own healthcare project. However, this opposition is now an authority fight between Democrats and Republicans, at least, from the Republicans side it obviously is. So, why are they opposing this much? What are their reasons?

First of all, according to The Republicans Party, which is a very liberal -economically talking- and an extremely right party, Obamacare is very socialist. For them it’s against their notion. Also for The Republicans, the act will increase unemployment because of the new law mentioned above. According to them, companies will decrease the number of their workers not to be obligated to pay for their insurance.

They also add that the insurance will need to much to pay for the government budget. The most important thing that Republicans always defend is that there should be a “small government” but for them Obamacare is too much government intrusion. In addition to all these, The Republicans think that, government is always less efficient comparing to the private market. So they prefer private market all the time, as they defend a very liberal point of view.

“I do NOT support socializing healthcare in America. I understand that, in every other nation that has socialized health care, the result has predictably been poorer quality healthcare, a crushing tax burden, scarcity and rationing, and complete government control of individual medical decisions.” these words written on Ted Cruz’s official website, summarizes the whole concept of the opposition to this law.

President Obama answers to all these oppositions by saying: “Healthcare is a right, not a privilege!”

Imagen 23-10-13 a las 21.35

After a government shut-down with enormous consequences, it only remains to ask  ourselves if the two sides are discussing the same topic. It seems that now The  Republicans are opposing just because they’re opposing to Obama itself. The republicans  are against the interference in the private market, but aren’t they comparing moral and  ethical facts to economicals?

 

Obama is in favour of gay marriage

 

U.S.President Barack Obama has been in favor of legalizing gay marriage, but admitting that is a personal assessment and has supported the U.S. states are to decide.

Obama has recognized that it is an “evolution” of his thinking on the issue after talking with several members of his administrtion who are gay, with his wife and daughter. The preseident had been pressured in recent days by the Democratic Party and vice president, Joe Biden, to be shown for these civil unions.

Obama has said that is a personal position, but he hopes more americans willl join in this movement when gays and lesbians to marry, saying that his own daugters were comfortable with this fact, having friends with same-sex parents.

“Iterestingly, the issue has something generational”, he assured. “ When I go to college campuses, students talk about republicans who think that i have terrible policies on enconomics, foreign policy, but when it comes to equality between the sexes, are in favor of gender equality”, he stated.

Obama emphasized that his wife Michelle Christian religion to point out that we must treat others as you want to be treated to one. So far, Obama had been in favor of civil unions between homosexuals the same rights as married heterosexual couples, but without recognizing it as a “marriage”.

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CHANGES IN HIS OPINION

Obama said in 2004 as a Senate candidate who was Christian and that tradition and religious beliefs made him think that marriage was something “sacred between man and woman”. During the presidential election campaign of 2008, maintained its own oposition to the designation of marriage, although he advocated civil unios. In an interview in October 2011, Obama recognized that see homosexual partners and friends with you partner and their children was having impact on his thinking on the issue.

The president faces reelection in November, so this decisión could have a strong effect on his campaig. On Tuesday, the population of North Carolina coted against allowing gay marriages.

The favourite candidate of the republican party for election to th White House, Mitt Romney, opposes to gay marriage. When in 2004 Massachusetts became the first state to approve it, Romney, who was governor of that región, tried to stop it through justice.

Diana Cerviño

Paula Zapata

Antonio Crespo

Celia García