#AceWorldNews says Following talks in Geneva, the Foreign Secretary said today I welcome the fact that we have now reached E3+3 agreement with Iran on implementing the first step of the Joint Plan of Action agreed at Geneva on 24 November 2013. The entry into force of this agreement on 20 January is an important step towards peacefully resolving the Iranian nuclear issue, on which comprehensive negotiations will now start.
#AceWorldNews says according to a post today in EcoWatch written by Ilana Solomon it was yesterday, Congress pulled a rusty, old tool from the bottom of its toolbox. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) and Rep. Camp (R-MI) introduced the Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities Act of 2014, otherwise known as “fast track,” which could facilitate passage of deeply flawed trade agreements such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade pact with limited public and Congressional input. If fast-track legislation is approved by Congress, the President would be able sign the #TPP and then send it to Congress for a straight up-or-down vote—with no room for amendments and limited floor debate. If that sounds backward, it’s because it is.
The#TPP agreement could devastate communities, our climate and our environment. It would open the floodgates for the expansion of natural gas exports and fracking across the U.S. Graphic courtesy of the Electronic Frontier Foundation
First, fast track is an outdated and inappropriate mechanism. It was first passed in 1974 when trade pacts focused on traditional trade issues, like tariffs and quotas. Today, trade pacts like the #TPP cover a broad range of issues including the environment, investment, labour, government procurement, consumer protections and many more things we face in our everyday lives. It is therefore critical that Congress maintain its constitutional authority to oversee trade policy and ensure that trade pacts protect communities, workers and the environment before the pacts get finalized.
Second, fast track is undemocratic. After congressional approval, the President could submit signed trade pacts to Congress for an up-or-down vote within 90 days with all amendments forbidden and a maximum of 20 hours of debate. Even more atrocious is that it would actually allow the President to write legislation that would change U.S. laws to make them conform to the terms of the secretly negotiated trade agreement.
In other words, fast-track authority eliminates a critical constitutional check-and-balance structure that aids most other democratic processes. By stripping Congress of its ability to fully debate and amend the language of today’s all-encompassing trade pacts, fast-track authority renders Congress unable to ensure that trade negotiations result in agreements that benefit communities and the environment.
Third, it’s a risky endeavor that could help rubber-stamp very harmful trade pacts such as the #TPP. The #TPP agreement could devastate communities, our climate and our environment. It would elevate corporations to the level of nations, thus allowing foreign companies to directly sue governments in private trade tribunals over laws and policies that corporations allege reduce their profits. It would also open the floodgates for the expansion of natural gas exports and, therefore,fracking across the U.S.
And the real kicker is that—despite these any many other consequences—there has been virtually no opportunity for public discussion of the trade pact, as no draft text has been publicly revealed. So Congress is actually voting on whether to quickly pass trade agreements it’s never even seen!
Now is the time we need a full discussion about the true costs of the #TPP and other trade pacts—not a process to rush flawed deals through the finish line.
The bottom line is that fast track would set us up for failure. It’s critical that Congress has the ability to effectively oversee trade negotiations and ensure that the contents of our trade agreements protect our workers, communities and environment in the U.S. and abroad. The public and members of Congress have effectively been left in the dark for too long. Now it’s up to Congress to take the reins and oppose fast track. On behalf of the Sierra Club and our 2.1 million members and supports, I urge members to oppose this fast-track bill and retain their right to ensure that the U.S. trades responsibly.
Courtesy of Ilana Solomon
- Guest: Should Congress give Obama fast-track authority for trade deals? No(seattletimes.com)
- The Next Corporate-Friendly Trade Pact(inthesetimes.com)
- Uprising as Obama plans to skirt Congress on ‘New World Order’(mobile.wnd.com)
- Congress tires to “fast track” secret trade deals without comment or oversight(treehugger.com)
- James P. Hoffa: It’s Time to End the Secrecy Surrounding TPP(huffingtonpost.com)
#AceNewsGroup says today marks another milestone for our group and it is all thanks to you the readers kind support and all your likes, as we have reached 1000 and we could not do it without your support.
- #AceNews Group – Announces “Ace Daily News” Launched Today #AceNewsDesk”(acenewsservices.com)
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- MANDELA, SOUTH AFRICA, MY TAKE…By G Jose James(history2research.wordpress.com)
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#AceNewsServices says these documents that together form the HS2 Phase One environmental statement outline the pro’s and con’s of HS2’s environmental impact! It has been given the name “Hybrid Bill” which of course has the hybrid word is a word which etymologically has one part derived from one language and another part derived from a different language. A little like the HS2 as it is being cobbled together in order to obtain contracts ,for those that look to benefit when their tenders are accepted.
Well here is this cobbled together collection of “Hybrid” parts and God help the countryside when this scheme gets approval, according to the UK Parliament Site this is the progress so far.
Progress of the Bill
- 1st reading: House of Commons 25 November, 2013 | 25.11.2013
- 2nd reading: House of Commons | Date to be announced
Anyway judge for yourself!
- Guide to the environmental statement
- Non-technical summary and glossary
- Volume 1: introduction and background information
- Volume 2: area reports
- Volume 3: route wide effects
- Volume 4: off-route effects
- Volume 5: supporting information and planning
- Volume 5: environmental topic reports and map books
The ‘HS2 Phase One environmental statement’ was produced to accompany the HS2 Phase One hybrid Bill.
We’re seeking comments on all the documents forming the environmental statement through the HS2 Phase One environmental statement consultation open between 25 November 2013 and 24 January 2014.
Guide to the environmental statement
This document does not form part of the ‘HS2 Phase One environmental statement’ itself but provides a short guide to the makeup of the environmental statement.
- 25 November 2013
Non-technical summary and glossary
- 25 November 2013
- 25 November 2013
This provides an introduction to the HS2 Phase One environmental statement under consultation. This volume also includes an overview of the impact assessment process and the consultation itself, and the main strategic, route-wide and local alternatives considered.
- 25 November 2013
Volume 2: area reports
Reports of the main environmental effects of HS2 in different geographical areas (known as ‘community forum areas’) along the HS2 Phase One route. This volume also contains books of maps relevant to each report.
- 25 November 2013
Volume 3: route wide effects
This document sets out the likely route wide environmental effects of the construction and operation of Phase One of HS2.
- 25 November 2013
Volume 4: off-route effects
This document sets out the likely significant environmental effects of Phase One of HS2 expected at locations beyond the route corridor, such as rail stations, rail depots and rail lines. This volume covers areas not included in the community forum area reports in volume 2.
- 25 November 2013
Volume 5: supporting information and planning
Documents providing information including: planning consents, standard measures to be followed when building the route, and environmental effects of moving parts of the route within its legal limits.
- 25 November 2013
- Consultation outcome
- 25 November 2013
- 25 November 2013
- 25 November 2013
- 25 November 2013
- 25 November 2013
- 25 November 2013
- 25 November 2013
- 25 November 2013
Volume 5: environmental topic reports and map books
Reports by topic of the environmental effects of the building and operation of Phase One of HS2. This volume also contains books of maps relevant to each report.
- 25 November 2013
- 25 November 2013
- 25 November 2013
- 25 November 2013
- 25 November 2013
- 25 November 2013
- 25 November 2013
- 25 November 2013
- 25 November 2013
- 25 November 2013
- 25 November 2013
- 25 November 2013
- 25 November 2013
- 25 November 2013
Comments are invited on the environmental statement which covers the environmental effects of the building and operation of Phase One of HS2and the measures that could be used to manage and reduce any negative effects.
This consultation is required by parliamentary rules to allow member of the public and other interested parties to comment on the environmental statement which accompanies the HS2 Phase One hybrid Bill.
A draft of the HS2 Phase One environmental statement was consulted on in spring 2013.
- 25 November 2013
- Open consultation
- 25 November 2013
- Press release
- 25 November 2013
- Statement to Parliament
#AceNewsServices says this new now nation wide law that protects partners is a good ruling ,as long as this also becomes fair not just for abused women and girls as was detailed and now highlighted ,in the press release! This must also equally apply to men and boys as well, as “Equal Rights” for both genders.
A scheme allowing police to disclose to individuals details of their partners’ abusive pasts will be extended to police forces across England and Wales from March 2014, Home Secretary Theresa May announced today.
It follows a successful 14-month pilot in four police force areas, which provided more than 100 people with potentially life-saving information.
Home Secretary Theresa May said:
Domestic abuse shatters lives – Clare’s Law provides people with the information they need to escape an abusive situation before it ends in tragedy.
The national scheme will ensure that more people can make informed decisions about their relationship and escape if necessary.
This is one of a raft of measures this government has introduced to keep women and girls safe. The systems in place are working better but sadly there are still too many cases where vulnerable people are let down. Today is an important step towards ensuring we do better by women like Clare Wood in the future.
Every request under Clare’s Law is thoroughly checked by a panel made up of police, probation services and other agencies to ensure information is only passed on where it is lawful, proportionate and necessary. Trained police officers and advisers are then on hand to support victims through the difficult and sometimes dangerous transitional period.
The government also announced today the national extension of Domestic Violence Protection Orders from March 2014, which will provide further protection to vulnerable victims.
This is further proof of the government’s determination to combat a crime that claims two lives every week.
Allowing police to ban abusers from contacting victims provides immediate protection in the aftermath of a domestic violence incident and breathing space to a vulnerable person while they consider their next steps. The pilot has shown this is a powerful intervention which can save lives.
Clare’s Law, or the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme has two functions:
- ‘right to ask’ – this enables someone to ask the police about a partner’s previous history of domestic violence or violent acts. A precedent for such a scheme exists with the Child Sex Offender Disclosure Scheme; and
- ‘right to know’ – police can proactively disclose information in prescribed circumstances.
The Domestic Violence Protection Orders approach has two stages:
- Where the police have reasonable grounds for believing that a perpetrator has used or threatened violence towards the victim and the victim is at risk of future violent behaviour, they can issue a Domestic Violence Protection Notice on the spot, provided they have the authorisation of an officer at Superintendent rank.
- The magistrates’ court must then hear the case for the Protection Order itself – which is the second step – within 48 hours of the Notice being made. If granted, the Order may last between a minimum of 14 days and a maximum of 28 days. This strikes the right balance between immediate protection for the victim and judicial oversight.
#AceNewsServices says before John F. Kennedy was elected President in 1960 in a dramatically close election, he promised a “New Frontier” of domestic social and economic reform. As President he offered a wide agenda of legislative proposals to realize this goal. The major proposals included establishing a volunteer Peace Corps to assist underdeveloped countries, raising the minimum wage and broadening its coverage, raising Social Security benefits, providing medicare, providing federal aid to education, creating a federal department of urban affairs, and giving greater powers to the federal government to deal with economic recessions. The Congress and the country were not ready to adopt all of this program, however. The Peace Corps was established, Social Security benefits and the minimum wage were raised, and a historic housing law was enacted, but little else was enacted. Kennedy’s term was tragically shortened by an assassin’s bullet in November 1963.
Kennedy brought an eager and able throng of people anxious to serve under him. One of the most notable among them was Arthur J. Goldberg, special counsel to the AFL-CIO and considered the leading labor lawyer in the country. Kennedy named Goldberg to be his Secretary of Labor. Known as the “Davey Crockett of the New Frontier”, Goldberg became involved in a wide range of social and cultural issues in the Kennedy Administration. He was instrumental in improving cultural life in the Capital and in beginning redevelopment of the Pennsylvania Avenue corridor from Capitol Hill to the White House. In the labor sphere, Goldberg concentrated on dealing with labor relations problems and on improving equal employment opportunities.
Early in his term Goldberg had to bring bad news on two fronts to the country: unemployment rose to 6.8 percent in January 1961; and, in March the “steel gap” closed and the Russians finally matched American steel production. Later in the year, however, the economy was in better shape. George Meany, president of the AFL-CIO, said that under Goldberg’s leadership the Department came closer to realizing its mission of promoting the welfare of working people “than it has at any time in my … experience in Washington.” Goldberg left the Department in September 1962 to become an Associate Justice on the U.S. Supreme Court.
Collective bargaining was Secretary Goldberg’s main interest and he actively made the “good offices” of the federal government available to help settle or prevent strikes. In February 1961 President Kennedy created an advisory committee on labour- management relations to help the Administration devise sound labor policies. While he was Secretary, Goldberg helped mediate many disputes, particularly in the defense-related aerospace industry and the crucial transportation industry (railroads, shipping and airlines). Much to the delight of the culturally minded First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy, Goldberg settled a strike against the New York Metropolitan Opera in time to prevent a cancellation of the 1961-1962 season.
As the first Jewish Secretary of Labor, Goldberg was strongly conscious of the rights of minorities. He committed the Department to actively protecting the rights of blacks and others. He actively implemented Executive Order 10925 requiring the executive branch of the government to encourage equal employment opportunity for all. Within the Department, he took steps to abolish the segregation of facilities for black employees that until then was widespread in Washington’s government offices. He instituted programs to promote better career opportunities for minority employees of the Department which his successors built upon. These programs became models for the rest of the government and for the private sector.
Another major area of concern and activity was employment and training. There was a widespread fear beginning in the 1950s that automation and other factors would rapidly eliminate low-skill jobs and create massive and permanent unemployment if nothing were done. Two new pieces of legislation gave the Department a special role in dealing with this problem: the Area Redevelopment Act of 1961 (ARA) and the Manpower Development and Training Act of 1962 (MDTA). Under the ARA the Department provided retraining and allowances for unemployed workers in areas of serious unemployment, principally the Appalachian region. MDTA was a much broader law that gave the Department major responsibilities for identifying labor shortages, training the unemployed and the underemployed, and sponsoring a comprehensive program of research. It planted the seed of what grew into a large and complex employment and training program. Secretary Goldberg established in the Department an Office of Manpower, Automation, and Training (OMAT) to carry out responsibilities under both laws.
Amendments to the FLSA in 1961 raised the minimum wage by stages to $1.25 an hour. They also significantly broadened the scope of the law, adding 3.6 million additional workers, most of them in retail or service trades. This was the first major expansion of scope in the history of the FLSA.
Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson succeeded the slain President Kennedy in November 1963. Johnson, a former Senate majority leader, immediately set about to enact the balance of Kennedy’s New Frontier. He also added a few new measures and redesignated the whole package as the “Great Society.” Legislatively, Johnson was quite successful.
Domestic success was marred, however, by civil disorders in the inner cities and a disastrous war in Vietnam. Johnson was reelected in 1964 but because of opposition to his war policies he did not seek reelection in 1968.
Serving as Secretary of Labor through Johnson’s whole term and the last part of Kennedy’s was W. Willard Wirtz, initially appointed as Arthur Goldberg’s Under Secretary. Wirtz became Secretary in September 1962. Before 1961 he had a distinguished career in the teaching and practice of law, particularly labor law, and in public service. He worked with and wrote speeches for Illinois governor and Presidential candidate Adlai Stevenson. Unlike Goldberg, Wirtz did not play an active role in mediating labor disputes. Except in national emergencies, he left dispute settlement to the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service and other agencies. Wirtz focused on the need to assure full employment and equal opportunity to all workers. Using words that could be applied to his predecessors and successors, he described his term as Secretary in this way: “if there was a central unifying and dignifying theme … it was in the insistence that wage earners — and those seeking that status — are people …. Human beings for whom ‘work,’ but not just ‘labor’… constitutes one of the potential ultimate satisfactions.”
During Secretary Wirtz’s tenure an almost bewildering variety of programs took shape at the Department, both to further its historic mission of enhancing workers’ “opportunities for profitable employment” and to help realize the social and economic goals of the Johnson Administration. These programs evolved from MDTA and ARA and their amendments and a number of other laws and programs. When Congress enacted President Johnson’s “War on Poverty” it created a new agency that administered a number of anti-poverty programs, but some of these programs wound up in the Department. There were DOL education and training programs dealing with such groups as unemployed youths, high school drop-outs, older people and the hard-core unemployed. These programs included on-the-job training (OJT), institutional or class-room job-training programs, remedial education, special job-finding assistance, and counseling on personal problems and job-seeking.
To coordinate the Department’s burgeoning training and education programs, in February 1963 Secretary Wirtz established the Manpower Administration (MA), headed initially by the Under Secretary. The MA included not only the Bureau of Employment Security and the Bureau of Apprenticeship and Training but also the recently established OMAT. The MA also absorbed the most important of the job-related anti-poverty programs — the Neighborhood Youth Corps (NYC).
The NYC was set up under the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964 to help unemployed 14- to 21-year-old youths from poor families to gain work experience and earn income while completing high school. By the end of 1968 the program had helped over 1.5 million young people. The program had three main components: one for in-school youth; one for out-of-school, unemployed youth; and a summer component for both groups. The program was federally funded but it was administered by local non-profit sponsors such as public schools, hospitals and libraries. The enrollees largely performed public service jobs, working as aides in libraries, schools, museums and so on.
The NYC was redesignated the Bureau of Work Training Programs when a number of new programs were added. A Special Impact program created training and employment opportunities for people in very poor neighborhoods. New Careers trained poor persons of all ages at a pre-professional level in public service fields in which there was a shortage of qualified persons, such as in health, education and public safety. Operation Mainstream helped older people and workers with outdated skills by providing work experience on community projects that would improve the local environment. These projects were in areas with high unemployment or little industry. OJT under the MDTA sought to help the underprivileged by providing training in the workplace. It also offered basic education and assistance for those not prepared to benefit from OJT. A Concentrated Employment Program sought to make all the employment and training services in a given area available to those most in need. The Work Incentive Program (WIN), established in 1967, helped get able-bodied persons receiving assistance under Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) off welfare rolls and onto payrolls by providing training and work experience and by helping them find permanent jobs.
There were other employment assistance programs outside of the Bureau of Work Training Programs. The Employment Service administered the institutional training program, supplementing it with remedial training and income allowances. In addition, the Service expanded its operations to help the underprivileged and shifted its focus from the needs of the employer to the needs of the job-seeker. The Department made special efforts to meet the employment and training needs of women, veterans and farm workers.
An Office of Manpower Policy, Evaluation, and Research supplanted OMAT in 1966. Its mission was to provide basic information for policy-makers. The Office developed plans for the Department’s employment and training programs and assisted other government agencies and outside groups concerned with similar problems. It conducted research and developed demonstration projects for urban ghetto dwellers and other special groups. For example, it conducted a mobility demonstration project to study ways of helping unemployed workers move to areas where the job market was better. It constantly provided feedback to the whole employment and training program on how well or poorly goals were being met. It also assisted foreign countries in planning to deal with their employment and training problems.
Employment and training dominated during Secretary Wirtz’s tenure, but there were other important activities. Equal opportunity was a major goal of the Department. Following passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 an Office of Federal Contract Compliance was established to see that contractors were not discriminating against their employees. The Women’s Bureau had worked hard to secure passage of the Equal Pay Act of 1963 which sought to assure that women workers would receive equal pay for the same work. In 1964 the Bracero program ended, thereby opening thousands of agricultural jobs for American workers, if they wanted them. Efforts by the Department to secure passage of a job safety and health law were unsuccessful but they laid the foundations for future legislative action.
- Obama, Clinton Families Pay Tribute To JFK (huffingtonpost.com)
- JFK’s Lasting Economic Legacy: Lower Tax Rates (wnyc.org)
- JFK’s Lasting Economic Legacy: Lower Tax Rates (npr.org)
- How Lyndon Johnson handled transition of presidency (post-gazette.com)
- Overland Park’s Rick Kaplan is a champion collector of JFK memorabilia (kansascity.com)
- Our First Jewish President Lyndon Johnson? – an update!! (5tjt.com)
- The day the president died (news.harvard.edu)
- JFK’s Corporatist and Imperialist Presidency (dissidentvoice.org)
- R.I.P. Willard Wirtz, Secretary of Labor for Kennedy and Johnson (lawprofessors.typepad.com)
Following surveys of remote areas, the ship’s helicopter will begin transporting UK humanitarian experts, medical teams and supplies to areas which have yet to receive outside help.
The launch of HMS Daring’s operations comes ahead of the departure later today of the UK Government’s latest aid flight which will leave East Midlands Airport with 95 tons of supplies from the Department for International Development (DFID), Oxfam and Save the Children.
Justine Greening said:
HMS Daring’s arrival is a major boost to DFID’s disaster experts and medical teams already deployed in the Philippines. This Royal Navy vessel will help us open a lifeline and allow us to help many more victims of the disaster.
Regarding the civilian relief flight due to leave East Midlands Airport later today, she added:
More British help is on its way. This latest flight will be full of medical supplies, water tankers and forklifts to get aid moving and help clear bottlenecks at the airports. The British people have shown huge generosity over the past days, and DFID is working with charities to make sure all their donations get to those who need it most.
HMS Daring’s Lynx helicopter has spent three days surveying Panay and other islands near Cebu which have not yet been reached by humanitarian agencies.
At the request of the Department for International Development’s humanitarian field team, the ship will now:
- Transport the UK’s 12-strong medical team: Alongside the ship’s own medical team, they will provide urgent medical assistance on the remote islands. The remaining 6 will go to Tacloban to work alongside the AusAid medical team.
- Load, transport and distribute 500 shelter kits onto previously identified islands.
- Load and transport 10 tonnes of high-energy biscuits to be distributed by Save the Children onto previously identified islands.
- Use its own water filters to fill 1,900 water carriers with clean drinking water across the region.
This is in addition to the ship’s on-board disaster relief pack containing generators and electrical cables, emergency lighting, tools for basic construction, blankets, cutting and drilling equipment, public address systems, emergency shelter, medical items and stretchers. This will enable the ship’s crew to undertake clearance and shelter repair.
The UK Government’s latest aid flight will take more equipment from DFID’s warehouse in Kemble, Gloucestershire. DFID is also making space available to UK charities Oxfam and Save the Children. The cargo will include:
- DFID: 2,500 jerry cans, 1 medical support module, 1 Land Rover Defender, 4 forklifts, 2 fuel tanks;
- Oxfam: Water and sanitation equipment: emergency water module, bladder tanks, water tankers for trucks, water piping, pumps, hoses;
- Save the Children: Medical supplies for the UK medical team already on the ground: newborn health facility, 40 reproductive health kits, 20 clean delivery kit for mothers, 6 emergency obstetric kits, 30 boxes of hospital supplies, drugs and equipment.
In addition, an Antanov aircraft will also leave later today from Amsterdam bound for Cebu carrying heavy lifting equipment.
- Greening hails British public’s ‘huge generosity’ (itv.com)
- HMS Daring arrives in typhoon zone (daventryexpress.co.uk)
- British warship HMS Daring arrives in the Philippines (standard.co.uk)
- Breaking News: HMS Daring arrives in typhoon zone (crosbyherald.co.uk)
- British HMS Daring arrives to provide Philippines Typhoon Haiyan aid (dailymail.co.uk)
The Foreign Secretary William Hague said:
Mr Speaker, with permission I will make a Statement on the Middle East Peace Process, Syria and Iran. On all of these matters there have been important diplomatic developments over the last few weeks, and I wanted to inform the House of them at the earliest opportunity.
It is impossible to overstate the challenges and the gravity of the threats in the region if current openings and opportunities are not brought to fruition. But on each of these subjects there has been some progress, and it is important that we build on that as rapidly and decisively as possible.
Whatever the pressure of other issues, we must never lose sight of the importance and centrality of the Middle East Peace Process, to the lives of millions of Israelis and Palestinians and to international peace and security. I pay tribute to the leadership of US Secretary of State John Kerry, Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Abbas for the progress that has been made, including the resumption of negotiations in July.
The United States has confirmed that there have been seven rounds of direct bilateral negotiations since then. Both sides have now agreed to intensify the pace of the discussions and increase American participation in them, with the goal of reaching a permanent status agreement within nine months.
During the UN General Assembly Ministerial week in New York, my Right Honourable Friend the Deputy Prime Minister met President Abbas in New York, while I held talks with Israeli Minister of International Relations Yuval Steinitz. We reiterated the United Kingdom’s unequivocal support for a two-state solution based on 1967 borders with agreed land swaps, Jerusalem as the shared capital, and a just and agreed settlement for refugees. With our European Union partners we are ready to provide major practical support to both sides in taking the bold steps that are needed.
This includes our bilateral assistance to the Palestinian economy and the institutions of their future State. The UK is one of the largest donors to the Palestinians, providing £349 million for Palestinian development over four years.
My Right Honourable Friend the Secretary of State for International Development attended the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee established to oversee Palestinian state building and development. She recommitted the UK to provide predictable, long term assistance aligned with the priorities of the Palestinian National Authority: building strong institutions, promoting private sector growth and humanitarian aid.
We are also supporting the Palestinian Economic Initiative which the US and Quartet are developing. DFID will shortly be launching a new £15m Palestinian Market Development Programme to help Palestinian SMEs enter new markets and to help mobilise investment. Economic progress can never be a substitute for a political settlement, but it is vital that the Palestinian people see tangible improvements in their daily lives.
Mr Speaker, the situation in Syria remains catastrophic. More than 100,000 people have been killed, and the number of Syrian refugees has grown by more than 1.8 million in just twelve months, to over two million. We must always be clear that we will not have succeeded in our work until this violence has been brought to a stop, but nevertheless we were able to make some diplomatic progress in New York on our objectives, namely to prevent the further use of chemical weapons, to alleviate humanitarian suffering, and to promote a political settlement to the conflict.
On the first of those, I attended the meeting of the United Nations Security Council on 27th September, which adopted the first Resolution on Syria in 17 months. Security Council Resolution 2118 requires the full implementation of the near-simultaneous decision of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, which sets out how Syria’s chemical weapons must be verifiably eliminated within the first half of 2014.
For the first time, the Security Council Resolution imposes binding and enforceable obligations on the Syrian regime to comply, with the threat of action under Chapter VII of the UN Charter if it does not. It also stipulates that those responsible for any use of chemical weapons must be held accountable. I announced in New York £2 million in funding in order to enable the OPCW to deploy to Syria last week.
They have reported early progress in identifying and destroying chemical weapons. Under their supervision Syrian personnel have commenced the destruction or disabling of missile warheads, aerial bombs and mixing and filling equipment, and are carrying out work to assess the accuracy and completeness of the information provided by the regime.
British nationals who work for the OPCW are already deployed in Syria as part of the new destruction mission, and we stand ready to provide further support as necessary – such as personnel, technical expertise and information. The House should be in no doubt that the voluntary destruction of a deadly arsenal of weapons that until recently the Assad regime denied it possessed is an important step forward, and a vindication of the threat of military action by the United States of America.
Second, hundreds of thousands of Syrian civilians continue to suffer atrociously from the regime’s use of conventional weapons. The UK is leading the way in alleviating desperate humanitarian suffering. In the UK’s annual address to the
General Assembly the Deputy Prime Minister confirmed an additional £100 million in UK assistance, bringing our total humanitarian contribution to date to £500 million – the largest ever British response to a single crisis.
The Prime Minister’s campaign begun at the G20 and followed up by our Embassies worldwide has helped to secure more than $1 billion in new international pledges of humanitarian assistance since the start of September, and we look to other countries to do more to meet the level of suffering and instability caused by such an unprecedented number of people in need.
Throughout the General Assembly and particularly in the two meetings I had with the other permanent members of the UN Security Council, I pressed the case for a Security Council Presidential Statement urging the Syrian Government to allow unhindered access to people in need, including across borders, and calling on all parties to agree on humanitarian pauses in the fighting to allow the delivery of aid. This statement was subsequently agreed on 2nd October. With our encouragement, the UN Secretary General has announced his intention to convene a new pledging conference in January 2014.
The House will know that the stability of Jordan and Lebanon is high among our priorities, and in that regard I attended with the P5 Foreign Ministers the creation of a new International Support Group for Lebanon during the General Assembly. The UK is now providing £69 million to help Lebanon cope with the refugee crisis. In addition we are providing £11 million of non-lethal assistance to the Lebanese Armed Forces. And we are helping Jordan with £87 million of UK aid for Syrian refugees and host communities.
Third, on the political process, UN Security Council Resolution 2118 also formally endorsed the Geneva Communiqué of June last year for the first time, calling for the establishment of a transitional governing body exercising full executive powers, which could include members of the present Government and the opposition and other groups, formed on the basis of mutual consent. The Resolution calls for the convening of an international conference on Syria to implement the Geneva Communiqué.
As Foreign Ministers we agreed with the UN Secretary-General that we should aim to convene the Conference in Geneva by mid-November this year. An intensive period of preparation will be required, led by UN and Arab League Special Representative Lakhdar Brahimi.
I met Syrian National Coalition President Ahmed Al-Jarba in New York, who assured me the Coalition remains committed to an inclusive and democratic Syria; that they reject extremism; and that they are committed to the Geneva Communiqué. There can be no peaceful and political settlement in Syria without the participation of the moderate opposition, and we are providing more than £20 million in non-lethal support to the moderate opposition and will do more in the coming months.
I discussed the conflict in Syria with the new Foreign Minister of Iran, who I met twice in New York, including with the E3+3 Foreign Ministers. And I also had further discussions with him by telephone yesterday.
It is clear that the new President and Ministers in Iran are presenting themselves and their country in a much more positive way than in the recent past. There is no doubt that the tone of the meetings with them is different.
We have agreed to resume negotiations on their nuclear programme in Geneva next week on 15 and 16 October. We are looking forward to seeing serious proposals from Iran to follow-up on their stated desire to make rapid progress with negotiations. It will be very important for Iran’s relations with the international community for the marked change of presentation and statements to be accompanied by concrete actions and a practical approach to negotiations.
We must not forget for one moment that as things stand today, Iran remains in defiance of six UN Security Council Resolutions and of multiple Resolutions of the International Atomic Energy Agency Board of Governors, and is installing more centrifuges in its nuclear facilities. In the absence of change to these policies we will continue to maintain strong sanctions. A substantial change in British or Western policies on the Iranian nuclear programme requires a substantive change in that programme.
However we must test the Iranian Government’s sincerity to the full, and it is important that our channels of communication are open for that.
Mr Zarif the Foreign Minister and I discussed how to improve the functioning of the UK-Iran bilateral relationship. Our diplomatic relations suffered a severe setback when our Embassy compounds in Tehran were overrun in 2011 and the Vienna Conventions flouted, and when the Iranian Majles voted to downgrade relations with the UK.
It is understood on both sides that given this history, progress in our bilateral relationship needs to proceed on a step-by-step and reciprocal basis. The Foreign Minister and I agreed our officials would meet to discuss this. The first such meeting has taken place already, and will be followed by a further meeting in Geneva next week. This includes discussion of numbers of and conditions for locally-engaged staff in the Embassy premises of each country and visits to inspect these premises.
I have made very clear to Mr Zarif that we are open to more direct contact and further improvements in our bilateral relationship.
We have therefore agreed that both our countries will now appoint a non-resident Chargé d’affaires tasked with implementing the building of relations, including interim steps on the way towards eventual re-opening of both our Embassies, as well as dialogue on other issues of mutual concern.
We must not underestimate the difficulties ahead. Iran has a complex power structure, there are voices in Iran who do not agree with their Government’s stated desire to see progress on nuclear negotiations and a rapprochement with the West, and improvements in our bilateral relations will require confidence on both sides that those improvements can be sustained. But to be open to such improvements is consistent with our desire to finding a peaceful resolution to the nuclear dispute and the fact that we have no quarrel with the people of Iran.
The House will be conscious that on all of these issues the coming months may be unusually significant, and replete with dangers but also with opportunities. Her Majesty’s Government will spare no effort to promote a peaceful resolution of each of these conflicts and crises, working closely with our allies at all times, and taking full advantage of every diplomatic opening, never starry-eyed but always pursuing progress through resolute diplomacy.
- UN:Security Council Recognised and Encouraged Active Contribution of Organisation of Islamic Co-operation (acenewsservices.com)
- Statement by UK Ambassador Lyall Grant to the Security Council Open Debate on the Middle East (acenewsservices.com)
- UN envoy: Status of Jerusalem must be resolved (endtimeheadlines.wordpress.com)
- New settlements ‘destroy the peace process,’ PA says (timesofisrael.com)
- The Arab-Israeli Peace Process Is Over. Enter the Era of Chaos. (warsclerotic.wordpress.com)
Today, the UK will host the World Islamic Economic Forum. Delegations from more than 115 countries, including Oman will attend the 9th World Islamic Economic Forum – the first time it has been held outside the Muslim world.
Oman now has two Islamic banks and plans have been announced by three companies to launch takaful products. The Central Bank moved with impressive speed to establish the regulatory framework to enable the Islamic financial industry to take off in the Sultanate. It was a great privilege that the Lord Mayor of the City of London was the first senior visitor to Bank Nizwa after it opened for business in January and symbolic of the ties that have already been established between the Islamic finance industries of the Sultanate and the UK.
For me, WIEF London encapsulates the emergence of new economic ties between nations, religions and cultures . Some want investments that are managed in accordance with their faith. Others are, in the wake of the financial crisis, drawn by principles of balance, shared risk, fairness and transparency. While others still are attracted by the sheer potential of an industry worth around $1.85 trillion globally with growth rates of up to 15% per year. Whatever the draw, the buzz around Islamic and ethical finance continues to grow louder and stronger.
The UK, already home to the world’s financial and legal capital, is an increasingly important global player in Islamic Finance and its status, reach and competitive market makes the service it is able to offer truly unique.
Our expertise in Islamic Finance, where we have a growing number of banks, law firms and other service providers with a wealth of experience, is highly developed, and supported by an internationally renowned legal system and regulatory framework; a time-zone that is advantageous to doing businesses in the East and in the West; and thriving and cutting edge sectors as diverse as healthcare, education and smart cities.
As delegates will see this week, the UK is open for business and has the experience, the skills, the innovation, and the connections to overcome the challenges of the global, 24 hour market and make the most of every economic opportunity. It’s why we are rightly seen as a partner of choice and why this week’s WIEF will cement Britain’s position asthe leading Western country for Islamic finance.
Jamie Bowden British Ambassador
Fraudsters often use the names of genuine people and organisations to make their deceptions seem more credible. Recent examples of scam correspondence have cited HM Treasury or Cabinet Office ministers or have claimed to be working on behalf of the HM Treasury.
HM Treasury and its agencies will never contact you asking for money or personal details.
More information about types of fraud and what to do if you think you may have been a victim of fraud is available on the Home Office pages.
Speech by Lynne Featherstone, Parliamentary under Secretary of State for International Development, on disability and development in Entebbe, Uganda.
Distinguished Guests, Honourable Minister, panel members, Government of Uganda officials, NGO and civil society and development partners, ladies and gentlemen – thank you all so much for being here today.
I’m absolutely delighted the UK and Uganda are co-hosting this important event – and it’s a real pleasure to be sharing this platform with the Honourable State Minister for Elderly and Disabled people.
For far too long the world has been guilty of turning a blind eye to the challenges, discrimination and prejudice that people with disabilities can face every single day of their lives. They have been the people who have been too often left behind when it comes to development. And as a consequence are disproportionately some of the poorest and most marginalised people in the world.
At last, the international community is starting to wake up to the way we have actually neglected disability rights, and is, belatedly, recognising that we can’t tackle poverty without addressing the needs of people with disabilities.
In the UK, I am the Minister responsible for disability within the Government’s Department for International Development, and quite frankly I have made it my mission to ensure that challenges faced by people with disabilities are addressed and are a key development priority.
And I’ve come to Uganda because it is at the forefront of the disability movement in Africa and I particularly wanted to come here to get a picture of what works, and what the real challenges and the real opportunities are for making a difference in people’s lives.
I wanted to get a better idea of what more the UK could be doing on disability – both in terms of our development policies and programmes and also in terms of influencing others on the global stage to do more.
And today I want to set out some of my conclusions; the key challenges that I think we are facing and how we can start to overcome them, both through local action and global campaigning.
But first I want to answer the people who, I know, will question this focus on disability and make an argument that the world has a big enough challenge as it is, to provide basic services and opportunities for people. For them disability appears to be a luxurious add-on, something that we could perhaps turn our minds to when we have achieved everything else.
I have to say to those people: We know that such thinking is completely short-sighted. Disability is a cause and a consequence of poverty.
And nor are we talking about a small minority of people – WHO estimates that one billion people globally live with some sort of disability – that’s one in seven people.
Everywhere they live people with disabilities are statistically more likely to be unemployed, illiterate, to have less formal education and less access to support networks. They are further isolated by discrimination, by ignorance and by prejudices.
Does it have to be like this? No. Given the right opportunities to support and access, most people with disabilities are able to look after themselves and get on their lives just like anybody else.
And I believe it is possible to tackle the stigma around disability by putting people with disabilities centre stage and giving them a voice. And we saw that in the UK last year when London hosted a hugely successful Paralympics Games. It was, I can tell you, one of the most amazing experiences of my life and most people in London’s.
Suddenly people with disabilities were in the spotlight like never before and it really opened eyes to the challenges they face, and also the huge heights they are capable of reaching. Most importantly they were no longer a group on the outside on the margins or hidden away.
Changing perceptions like this is vital. And I am particularly delighted that I have been joined on this visit by Ade Adepitan who many of you may know as a British Paralympian champion and broadcaster. He is incredibly famous, much more than myself. Ade is here to help to get more people talking and thinking about disability – both in Uganda and other parts of Africa as well as back at home in the UK.
Uganda and disability
Ade and I chose to come to Uganda because, as I said, you have played a key role and I pay tribute to the honourable Minister for the promotion of disability rights here and throughout Africa.
Uganda was one of the first countries anywhere to ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities. You have enshrined the rights of people with disabilities in your constitution, which also recognises sign language as a national language.
People with disabilities are well-represented from parliamentary to village levels. And I know there is a strong disability movement in Uganda which has been fundamental in driving some of this change, particularly the National Union of Disabled Persons in Uganda.
Despite this progress, Uganda still faces a number of challenges when it comes to giving people with disabilities a chance to earn a living and build their own lives.
Over five million people in Uganda have a disability, which is 16% of the population. And poverty and disability in Uganda are impossible to disentangle. According to recent surveys, 72% of people with disabilities in the Northern region of Uganda are living in a state of chronic poverty.
You can often trace the issues back to school where the majority of people with disabilities, especially girls and women, simply find there are too many obstacles in their way to completing their education – indeed even starting their education.
Without the necessary skills they then struggle to get a job that would give them an income. And throughout their lives many of them will encounter prejudice, ignorance, hostility even sometimes from their communities, and families.
Local support for disability
And these problems aren’t exclusive to Uganda, or Africa – this is a global issue. For example there are still too many schools and hospitals in the UK which are not 100% accessible for people with disabilities and discrimination still exists in far too many workplaces.
So what action do we need to take to turn this around?
The first step is to acknowledge the day-to-day challenges faced by people with disabilities and recognise that a one-size-fits-all approach won’t work.
I’ve seen some brilliant examples here in Uganda of how services can be tailored to fit the particular needs of people with disabilities.
Take the work of Uganda Water Aid. This organisation, which is funded by UK Aid and works with local partners in Uganda, is exploring the barriers that people with disabilities face when it comes to water and sanitation, which quite frankly are the basic tenants of decent living.
For example they spoke to people who have physical disabilities and have been denied access to wells because they are considered to be unclean and so struggle to access clean water.
Water Aid is using these findings to help overcome local prejudices, adapt their water, sanitation and hygiene programmes and build more inclusive toilets and better designed water sources.
I visited Wera Primary School where Water Aid have built a separate latrine for pupils with disabilities. It makes a big difference to pupils like ten-year-old I met who cannot walk by herself and was carried everyday by her father for two and a half kilometers, and was subject to inconveniences and even bullying when she had to use the general latrine. She is now happier at school and socialising better.
And it is things like this can make a real difference to a child staying in school and not just giving up because it’s all too difficult. Of the 57 million children currently out of school in the world today, it’s telling that over a third have a disability. It’s not sufficient to just place these children in a school without considering their specific needs.
That’s why last month I announced at the UN General Assembly that the Department for International Development will ensure that all of the school construction we directly support is designed to allow disability access.
During my time here I have also visited the St Francis School for the Blind in Soroti, where their motto ‘disability is not inability’. That it palpably true. This is an incredible school and I’m pleased that St Francis was a direct beneficiary of International Inspiration, a legacy programme for the London 2012 Games that aims to widen access to PE and sports for all children.
One of St Francis’ students won the most determined young leader at the recent UK School Games run by Sainsbury’s.
They have been given computers by the Government of Uganda but they can’t use them because they don’t have talking technology. I have talked to the honourable Minister about what we can do.
Lastly I have seen for myself the benefits of the new grant for vulnerable families in the Kaberamaido district, which is being piloted under the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development and supported by UK Aid.
This programme has allowed people like Margaret Alota, who was disabled by polio at the age of two, to help run a fuel vending business, harvest her crops and support four children through school. A tiny bit of money makes a the difference. I met a young man who used that support to buy a leg.
Putting disability on the global agenda
The people I met are all being given a chance to build a better life despite their disability – but how many others don’t get this opportunity and have their potential wasted as a result?
DFID is determined to keep supporting disability rights through our programmes, and by supporting civil society organisations working on disability, many of whom are represented here today such as Sightsavers and ADD. We recently committed more funding to the Disability Rights fund – the only grant-making organisation to solely and directly support disabled people’s organisations in developing countries.
But these are only the first steps and I know we need to do more. This is a global challenge and it needs a global effort to tackle it. This really has been the great neglect.
Many of you will have heard of the internationally agreed Millennium Development Goals for tackling global poverty. Some of these goals have been realised over the last 13 years, but others haven’t and I believe success has been hindered because of the gap where improving the lives of people with disabilities should have been. disability was completely omitted when the MDGs were set up. You cannot address poverty if people with disability are excluded.
The 2015 deadline for the MDGs is fast approaching and the international community is starting to shape a post-2015 development framework.
This is a once-in-a-generation chance to finally put disability on the global agenda and on an equal footing with other challenges.
Our UK Prime Minister was co-chair of the UN’s High Level Panel, which earlier this year presented the UN Secretary-General with a vision of what the development framework should look like after the MDGs expire.
The Panel’s overarching message was that we could eradicate poverty for good but only by ‘leaving no one behind’, regardless of ethnicity, gender, geography, race, or disability. If agreed this is a really powerful commitment, which could have a transformational effect on disability rights across the world which have struggled so hard among other issues.
To achieve this goal, the report calls for a data revolution, in other words a global effort to collect more quality data about where poverty exists and why. And this will be vital for helping us truly understand the links between disability and poverty and how we can overcome the biggest barriers.
Over the next 18 months the world’s leaders will consider and negotiate the final post-2015 framework and the UK will be doing everything possible to push the UN to take up the core commitment to leave no one behind – I hope you will do the same.
I know a lot of you here have already been involved in this process and it is important you remain engaged and really push to ensure that disability is properly included in the next set of global development goals.
I believe we have reached a watershed moment on disability – we have an opportunity to do something ground-breaking, but we cannot afford to let this chance go.
This is my second visit to Uganda as a UK Minister. The last time I was here was as the Home Office Minister, I saw some of the work that Uganda is doing to address sexual and gender based violence.
And, as I stand here, I really feel a great sense of deja-vu because we are having some of the same discussions now about including disability that we began having twenty or thirty years ago about gender.
Quite frankly we’re not there on gender yet.
Clearly we’ve still got a long way to go on that front, but I am proud of how far we’ve come, and I want to see disability moving along the same lines.
So let’s keep the momentum building and keep working to fight discrimination. We all have a role to play – families, communities and leaders – in ensuring that no one is left behind and everyone has a chance to reach their potential.
TRANSCRIPT OF SPEECH BY MINISTER OF STATE : Baroness Kramer
Thank you Charlie, and good morning ladies and gentlemen.
It’s a great pleasure to be here in my new capacity as Minister of State for Transport.
I might be new to the department, but my interest in transport goes back a long way.
I ran a business advising on infrastructure finance in central and eastern Europe.
I was on the board of Transport for London.
But despite this experience, I had never travelled in a pure electric car before today (23 October 2013).
I must say I was hugely impressed.
So impressed, in fact, that I’m trying to persuade E-Car to let me drive one.
The environmental case for going electric is widely understood, but I wasn’t expecting the vehicles to be as sophisticated and refined as they are – both in their design and in the quality of their ride.
Clearly the products are right.
And sales are growing.
But over the next few years, we have to make them even more commercially attractive to potential customers.
While government is providing significant funding to develop the technology, expand the infrastructure, and reduce the cost of electric vehicles to buyers, ultimately building the market requires initiative and entrepreneurial flair at a local level.
And that’s precisely what E-Car Club and HARCA are doing here.
This type of collaboration, between the car club, local authority and community association will be instrumental in growing the market and changing the way we travel.
Pay-as-you-go car clubs don’t just help us improve air quality, reduce traffic noise and cut carbon.
They also give Londoners more choice about the journeys they take.
Reduce the cost of transport to individuals and businesses.
And promote more efficient use of cars.
We are absolutely committed as a government to speeding up the development of electric and other ultra low-carbon vehicles – and supporting the growing market.
As some of you may be aware, last month we published our ultra low emission vehicle strategy – called ‘Driving the future today’.
Taking on board the views of stakeholders, it sets out a structured plan to transform sales of ultra low emission vehicles. Our long-term vision is for all cars and vans on our roads to be ultra low emission vehicles by 2050.
We will continue to support the early market, through:
- plug-in grants which currently reduce the upfront cost by up to £5000 per car or £8000 per van
- tax concessions
- and grants for installing charging infrastructure
We are also working to install more publicly accessible chargers in key locations like car parks at train stations and rapid chargers at motorway services.
We have an unwavering, long-term commitment to decarbonising road transport.
Not just to tackle climate change.
But also to make the UK a global leader in green vehicle technologies and engineering.
The government’s focus will remain consistent and technologically neutral.
And we welcome any innovative thinking that helps us achieve that goal.
We will work to resolve any market failures or barriers to growth.
In Europe we will continue to negotiate on the basis that regulations on reducing CO₂ from cars are ambitious but realistic.
And we will keep on listening to industry and ensure that its concerns are taken on board when formulating policy.
The industry’s role is crucial – and will be even more crucial in the future as our investment in green vehicles grows.
In the 2013 Spending Round, the Chancellor announced that £500 million would be made available to develop the ULEV market between 2015 and 2020.
This is a world leading commitment that gives certainty to the market.
But we need the industry to help us deploy it in the most beneficial way.
So we will shortly be launching a call for evidence to draw in a wide range of ideas to help us design the next phase of our ULEV programme.
This is your opportunity to tell us how we can best support sustainable market growth in this sector.
How best we can help UK technology businesses.
And how best these changes can boost economic growth.
We will retain incentives to help motorists with the upfront cost of buyingULEVs.
And of course we will continue to invest to get the necessary infrastructure in place.
I think we all appreciate that the decarbonisation of road transport presents us with a once in a lifetime opportunity.
Like you, I am determined that we seize that opportunity.
And I look forward to working with you in the months and years ahead to do just that.
- UK’s first all electric pay-per-use car club launches (energylivenews.com)
- Does the government really understand e-bikes? (theguardian.com)
- Transport Minister Launches UK’s First Electric Vehicle Car Club (ciltuk.org.uk)
UN OFFICIAL POST
After its call on all parties in Syria for humanitarian access to relieve the plight of civilians trapped by heavy fighting, the Security Council must show leadership to ensure cooperation for delivery of food and medicines, and protection measures, the United Nations Emergency Relief Coordinator urged today.
“I am extremely disappointed that we have not been able to make further progress on the ground,” said Valeria Amos as she briefed the Council this morning on the humanitarian situation in Syria.
“Three weeks have passed since the adoption of the Council’s Presidential Statement [on the issue]; with little change to report. Each day that passes without the parties upholding their most basic obligations results in more lost lives, more displaced people and more people denies access to the most basic services,” added Ms. Amos, who is also the Under-Secretary-general for Humanitarian Affairs.
On 2 October, the Council, in a Presidential Statement, urged the Syrian Government to immediately allow cross border aid deliveries, and also called on all parties to the conflict to agree on humanitarian pauses in the fighting, with special attention to key delivery routes.
The statement also deplored the escalating violence in a conflict that has already killed more than 100, 000 people and driven some 6.5 million other form their homes since opposition protesters first sought the ouster of the Government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in March 2011.
“Words, despite their ability to shock, cannot really paint a picture of the grime and gruesome reality of Syria today,” Ms. Amos said in today’s briefing. “I call upon all members of the Council to exert influence and take necessary action to stop this brutality and violence. This Council’s leadership role is vital.”
She said humanitarian pauses are needed in all locations “where communities are being held hostage by one party of the other to the conflict” to deliver food, medicine and shelter. “We need those who control the check-points, on both sides of the conflict to ensure the safe and unhindered passage of humanitarian convoys,” she added.
Ms. Amos also said that people must be allowed to move to safer areas without fear of attack and that he Syrian Government must immediately lift all bureaucratic impediments to humanitarian operation, including visa delays.
The suffering will only get worse as the fighting intensifies and winter sets in, she said, warning: “this is a race against time.”
Speaking to reporters after her briefing, Ms. Amos reiterated her disappointment at the lack of progress in efforts to alleviate the suffering in Syria and said: “What we are seeing is a deepening of the crisis, more and more people affected and in particular I expressed my concern about the extremely brutal and violent nature of this conflict.”
Ms. Amos said she asked the Council to consider a number of measures which would help implement the Presidential Statement and had expressed the desire to discuss the issues in further detail.
She said Council members had listened to her proposals “very carefully” and had asked questions of their own, including on the attitude of both the Government and the opposition to the aims of the Statement; on the security situation and what might be hampering aid delivery; and on specific issues such as the situations of women and children.
“The situation on the ground has not fundamentally changed [since the adoption of the Presidential Statement]. What I need is the political support of the Security Council members and other Members of the United Nations to really make a difference,” she said.
On the political front, UN Spokesperson Martin Nesirky said the Joint Special Representative for Syria of the UN and the League of Arab States, Lakhdar Brahimi, is in Qatar today, where he met the Emir to discuss the crisis and preparations for an international conference on Syria, to be held in Geneva.
He said that yesterday, Mr. Brahimi was in Turkey where he met with General Salim Idriss of the Free Syrian Army and 10 of his military commanders, and they also discussed the holding of a conference on Syria. “The Joint Special Representative reiterated his view that there is no military solution to the Syrian crisis and that all efforts should be exerted to stop the conflict and end the suffering of the Syrian people,” Mr. Nesirky said.
He said that before travelling to Doha, Mr. Brahimi met today in Ankara with Ahmet Davotuglu, Turkey’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, to discuss preparations for the Geneva conference. Mr. Brahimi heads to Tehran tomorrow.
- UN Urges Immediate Humanitarian Access to Syria (world.time.com)
- Stephen Lendman: Syrian Peace Talks (uprootedpalestinians.wordpress.com)
- Turkey Slams World’s Failure in Dealing with Syria Crisis (israelnationalnews.com)
- Brahimi insists on political solution in Syria (dailystar.com.lb)
- UN envoy Brahimi in Turkey for Syria talks (en.trend.az)
- Syrian troops among 31 dead as bomb rocks Hama (edition.cnn.com)
- UN-Arab League envoy for Syria to visit Tehran tomorrow (en.trend.az)
- Friends of #Syria Meeting to be Hosted in London#Peace (acenewsservices.com)
- Friends of #Syria Meeting to be Hosted in London#Peace (acenewsservices.com)
Two weeks after Edward Snowden‘s first revelations about sweeping government surveillance, President Obama shot back. “We know of at least 50 threats that have been averted because of this information not just in the United States, but, sometimes, threats here in Germany,” Obama said during a visit to Berlin in June. “So lives have been saved.”
In the months since, intelligence officials, media outlets, and members of Congress from both parties all repeated versions of the claim that NSA surveillance has stopped more than 50 terrorist attacks. The figure has become a key talking point in the debate around the spying programs.
“Fifty-four times this and the other program stopped and thwarted terrorist attacks both here and in Europe — saving real lives,” Rep. Mike Rogers, a Michigan Republican who chairs the House Intelligence Committee, said on the House floor in July, referring to programs authorized by a pair of post-9/11 laws. “This isn’t a game. This is real.”
But there’s no evidence that the oft-cited figure is accurate.
The NSA itself has been inconsistent on how many plots it has helped prevent and what role the surveillance programs played. The agency has often made hedged statements that avoid any sweeping assertions about attacks thwarted.
A chart declassified by the agency in July, for example, says that intelligence from the programs on 54 occasions “has contributed to the [U.S. government’s] understanding of terrorism activities and, in many cases, has enabled the disruption of potential terrorist events at home and abroad” — a much different claim than asserting that the programs have been responsible for thwarting 54 attacks.
NSA officials have mostly repeated versions of this wording.
When NSA chief Gen. Keith Alexander spoke at a Las Vegas security conference in July, for instance, he referred to “54 different terrorist-related activities,” 42 of which were plots and 12 of which were cases where individuals provided “material support” to terrorism.
But the NSA has not always been so careful.
And in a recent letter to NSA employees, Alexander and John Inglis, the NSA’s deputy director, wrote that the agency has “contributed to keeping the U.S. and its allies safe from 54 terrorist plots.” (The letter was obtained by reporter Kevin Gosztola from a source with ties to the intelligence community. The NSA did not respond when asked to authenticate it.)
Asked for clarification of the surveillance programs’ record, the NSA declined to comment.
“Would you agree that the 54 cases that keep getting cited by the administration were not all plots, and of the 54, only 13 had some nexus to the U.S.?” Leahy said at the hearing. “Would you agree with that, yes or no?”
“Yes,” Alexander replied, without elaborating.
It’s impossible to assess the role NSA surveillance played in the 54 cases because, while the agency has provided a full list to Congress, it remains classified.
Officials have openly discussed only a few of the cases (see below), and the agency has identified only one — involving a San Diego man convicted of sending $8,500 to Somalia to support the militant group Al Shabab — in which NSA surveillance played a dominant role.
The surveillance programs at issue fall into two categories: The collection of metadata on all American phone calls under the Patriot Act, and the snooping of electronic communications targeted at foreigners under a 2007 surveillance law. Alexander has said that surveillance authorized by the latter law provided “the initial tip” in roughly half of the 54 cases. The NSA has not released examples of such cases.
After reading the full classified list, Leahy concluded the NSA’s surveillance has some value but still questioned the agency’s figures.
“We’ve heard over and over again the assertion that 54 terrorist plots were thwarted” by the two programs, Leahy told Alexander at the Judiciary Committee hearing this month. “That’s plainly wrong, but we still get it in letters to members of Congress, we get it in statements. These weren’t all plots and they weren’t all thwarted. The American people are getting left with the inaccurate impression of the effectiveness of NSA programs.”
The origins of the “54” figure go back to a House Intelligence Committee hearing on June 18, less than two weeks after the Guardian’s publication of the first story based on documents leaked by Snowden.
At that hearing, Alexander said, “The information gathered from these programs provided the U.S. government with critical leads to help prevent over 50 potential terrorist events in more than 20 countries around the world.” He didn’t specify what “events” meant. Pressed by Rep. Jim Himes, D-Conn., Alexander said the NSA would send a more detailed breakdown to the committee.
Speaking in Baltimore the next week, Alexander gave an exact figure: 54 cases “where these programs contributed to our understanding, and in many cases, helped enable the disruption of terrorist plots in the U.S. and in over 20 countries throughout the world.”
But members of Congress have repeatedly ignored the distinctions and hedges.
The websites of the Republicans and Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee include pages titled, “54 Attacks in 20 Countries Thwarted By NSA Collection.”
And each congressman have often cited the figure in debates around NSA surveillance.
- Rep. Lynn Westmoreland, R-Ga., who is also on the House Intelligence Committee, released a statement in July referring to “54 terrorist plots that have been foiled by the NSA programs.” Asked about the figure, Westmoreland spokeswoman Leslie Shedd told ProPublica that “he was citing declassified information directly from the National Security Agency.”
- Rep. Brad Wenstrup, R-Ohio, issued a statement in July saying “the programs in question have thwarted 54 specific plots, many targeting Americans on American soil.”
- Rep. Joe Heck, R-Nev., issued his own statement the next day: “The Amash amendment would have eliminated Section 215 of the Patriot Act which we know has thwarted 54 terrorist plots against the US (and counting).” (The amendment, which aimed to bar collection of Americans’ phone records, was narrowly defeated in the House.)
- Mike Rogers, the Intelligence Committee chairman who credited the surveillance programs with thwarting 54 attacks on the House floor, repeated the claim to Bob Schieffer on CBS’ “Face the Nation” in July.”You just heard what he said, senator,” Schieffer said, turning to Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., an NSA critic. “Fifty-six terror plots here and abroad have been thwarted by the NSA program. So what’s wrong with it, then, if it’s managed to stop 56 terrorist attacks? That sounds like a pretty good record.” Asked about Rogers’ remarks, House Intelligence Committee spokeswoman Susan Phalen said in a statement: “In 54 specific cases provided by the NSA, the programs stopped actual plots or put terrorists in jail before they could effectuate further terrorist plotting. These programs save lives by disrupting attacks. Sometimes the information is found early in the planning, and sometimes very late in the planning. But in all those cases these people intended to kill innocent men and women through the use of terror.”
- Rep. James Lankford, R-Okla., went even further in a town hall meeting in August. Responding to a question about the NSA vacuuming up Americans’ phone records, he said the program had “been used 54 times to be able to interrupt 54 different terrorist plots here in the United States that had originated from overseas in the past eight years. That’s documented.”
- The same day, Rep. Jim Langevin, D-R.I., who sits on the Intelligence Committee, defended the NSA at a town hall meeting with constituents in Cranston, R.I. “I know that these programs have been directly effective in thwarting and derailing 54 terrorist attacks,” he said. Asked about Langevin’s comments, spokeswoman Meg Fraser said in an email, “The committee was given information from NSA on August 1 that clearly indicated they considered the programs in question to have been used to help disrupt 54 terrorist events. That is the information the Congressman relied on when characterizing the programs at his town hall.”
Wenstrup, Heck and Lankford did not respond to requests for comment.
The NSA has publicly identified four of the 54 cases. They are:
- The case of Basaaly Moalin, the San Diego man convicted of sending $8,500 to Somalia to support Al Shabab, the terrorist group that has taken responsibility for the attack on a Kenyan mall last month. The NSA has said its collection of American phone records allowed it to determine that a U.S. phone was in contact with a Shabab figure, which in turn led them to Moalin. NSA critic Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., has argued that the NSA could have gotten a court order to get the phone records in question and that the case does not justify the bulk collection of Americans’ phone records.
- The case of Najibullah Zazi, who in 2009 plotted to bomb the New York subway system. The NSA has said that an email it intercepted to an account of a known Al Qaeda figure in Pakistan allowed authorities to identify and ultimately capture Zazi. But an Associated Press examination of the case concluded that, again, the NSA’s account of the case did not show the need for the new warrantless powers at issue in the current debate. “Even before the surveillance laws of 2007 and 2008, the FBI had the authority to — and did, regularly — monitor email accounts linked to terrorists,” the AP reported.
- A case involving David Coleman Headley, the Chicago man who helped plan the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attack. Intelligence officials have said that NSA surveillance helped thwart a subsequent plot involving Headley to attack a Danish newspaper. A ProPublica examination of that episode concluded that it was a tip from British intelligence, rather than NSA surveillance, that led authorities to Headley.
- A case involving a purported plot to attack the New York Stock Exchange. This convoluted episode involves three Americans, including Khalid Ouazzani of Kansas City, Mo., who pleaded guilty in 2010 to bank fraud, money laundering, and conspiracy to provide material support to Al Qaeda. An FBI official said in June that NSA surveillance helped in the case “to detect a nascent plotting to bomb the New York Stock Exchange.” But no one has been charged with crimes related to that or any other planned attack. (Ouazzani was sentenced to 14 years last month.) The Kansas City Star reported that one of the men in the case had “pulled together a short report with the kind of public information easily available from Google Earth, tourist maps and brochures” and that his contact in Yemen “tore up the report, ‘threw it in the street’ and never showed it to anyone.” Court records also suggest that the men in Yemen that Ouazzani sent over $20,000 to may have scammed him and spent some of the money on personal expenses.
For more from ProPublica on the NSA, read about the agency’s campaign to crack Internet security, a look at the surveillance reforms Obama supported before he was president, and a fact-check on claims about the NSA and Sept. 11.
Photo of Sen. Patrick Leahy by Win McNamee/Getty Images.
by Justin Elliott and Theodoric Meyer ProPublica, Oct. 23, 2013, 8:59 a.m.
- NSA lies? Agency lacks evidence it thwarted 54 terrorist attacks (rinf.com)
- i don’t see propublica leading teams with crowbars to smash up the wapo’s presses, which is about the only thing that would stop this (niqnaq.wordpress.com)
- There’s A Glaring Lack Of Evidence Behind Claims That NSA Spying Stopped 54 Attacks (businessinsider.com)
- Claim on “Attacks Thwarted” by NSA Spreads Despite Lack of Evidence (yubanet.com)
- Claim on ‘Attacks Thwarted’ by NSA Spreads Despite Lack of Evidence (crooksandliars.com)
- The NSA’s Big Terrorism Claim Doesn’t Hold Up (huffingtonpost.com)
- ProPublica: There’s No Evidence To Back The NSA’s Claim That Spying On Americans Has Thwarted Terror Attacks (personalliberty.com)
1,766,000 DNA profiles taken from innocent adults and children have been deleted from the National DNA Database (NDNAD). 1,672,000 fingerprint records taken from innocent adults and children have been deleted from the national fingerprint database. 7,753,000 DNA samples containing sensitive personal biological material, no longer needed as a DNA profile has been obtained, have been destroyed. 480,000 of the DNA profiles removed as part of this programme were taken from children.
At the same time, 6,800 convicted murderers and sex offenders, not on the database under the previous Government, have had their DNA taken and added to the database. These records will be kept permanently, as will those of every convicted adult on the database, to ensure our databases remain a powerful tool for fighting crime.
Now that our DNA and fingerprint databases meet the requirements set out in Part 1, Chapter 1 of the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012, these provisions will be commenced on 31 October.
The NDNAD annual report for 2012-2013 was today published on the Home Office website, providing information for the public on the routine operation and effectiveness of the database, and on the programme to delete innocent people in preparation for the Protection of Freedoms Act. This report is an important part of the government’s aim for transparency and public confidence in the use of DNA.
The figures in the first part of the report show the size of the NDNAD to 31 March 2013, part way through work to delete DNA profiles in line with the Protection of Freedoms Act. Following the deletions described above, theNDNAD will now be considerably smaller. Part two of the report provides more detailed information on these deletions.
- Sweden to share DNA files with foreign police (thelocal.se)
- No breach of privacy to request DNA sample from ex con (ukhumanrightsblog.com)
- Welsh police take DNA samples from more than 5,500 children (walesonline.co.uk)
- Maria: Interpol To Help Greece With DNA Check (news.sky.com)
I was just listening to the BBC today about the latest recruit in the UK NHS healthcare system ,namely a man called Simon Stevens! This person was recruited from none other than “United Healthcare“ and had previously work under the previous labour government, in healthcare! His main objective was to privatise healthcare, but this was not possible under labour, so he left the UK to work for this private healthcare company. He has now been recruited by the providers of the NHS service company, to make vast changes and proposals in the area of delivery of services! What is a bet that his first will be providing delivery of all services through a private healthcare initiative! I wait and see in the very near future!
The Independent news today stated: A former adviser to Tony Blair who has spent a decade at the top of an American private healthcare giant has been appointed to run the NHS in England. Simon Stevens, the architect of Labour’s health reforms who left the UK in 2004 to take up a lucrative post at the American company United Health, was welcomed by the Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, as a “reformer and an innovator”. But his choice as chief executive of NHS England will raise concerns among critics who claim the NHS is being “softened up for privatisation”.
The future from April 2014 for the NHS will be massive reforms built on providing healthcare at the point of delivery or providing healthcare through designated and contracted healthcare companies, with one eye on the balance sheet and the other on the profit margin. The person of individual paying will be the taxpayer and the taxpayer when ill will be paying again, if this government wants to fulfil Mrs Thatcher‘s legacy!
Well more soon: Ed #AceHealthNews
- Breaking News: Ex-adviser Stevens named NHS chief (crosbyherald.co.uk)
- Ex-Blair aide Simon Stevens to take over as head of NHS after David Nicolson steps down (dailymail.co.uk)
- US health chief becomes new NHS boss (bbc.co.uk)
- Simon Stevens: Will new NHS chief push ‘US style’ health? (theweek.co.uk)
Fox News’ Neil Cavuto thinks the Department of Homeland Security’s $80 million outlay on armed guards to protect government buildings is directly connected to food stamp cuts set to take effect on November 1st, a day on which all hell could break loose.
As Infowars first reported on Monday, the DHS announced its intention to hire a raft of new armed guards to prepare for “public demonstrations” and “civil disturbances” in upstate New York, adding that some of the guards would be posted outside IRS facilities.
Covering the story on his Fox News show, Cavuto said, “November 1st could be a very iffy kind of day….this could be all hell breaks loose day,” noting that the armed guards were not to protect government buildings from terrorist threats but “From American citizens because on November 1st the food stamp program is set to start decreasing the amount that is allocated to food stamp recipients….and they’re worried that violence will ensue.”
Cavuto’s concern that the cut in food stamp benefits could spark violence is legitimate given what happened when the EBT card system crashed for just hours earlier this month, prompting mini-riots and looting at several Walmart stores.
- U.S. Government Preparing For Possible Food Stamp Riots (thelibertarianrepublic.com)
- Homeland Security hiring $80 million in armed guards to protect IRS and government buildings (theglobaldispatch.com)
- DHS Seeks Armed Guards to Protect Government Buildings in Arkansas (patriotrising.com)
- Food Stamp Program (leobruce09.wordpress.com)
- Neil Cavuto thinks ‘All Hell Could Break Loose’ On November 1st (alternativenewsalert.com)
Statement by UK Ambassador Lyall Grant to the Security Council Open Debate on the Middle East
Thank you Mr President,
And I would like to thank Mr Feltman for his briefing this morning.
The United Kingdom warmly welcomes the return to direct negotiations between Israeli and Palestinian leaders since our last open debate here in July. We extend our appreciation to the United States – particularly Secretary Kerry and Special Envoy for the Israeli-Palestinian Negotiations, Martin Indyk – for their steadfast commitment. This determination has enabled the parties to return to the table.
We welcome the Parties’ commitment to intensify negotiations in the coming weeks and applaud the bold leadership demonstrated on both sides.
The United Kingdom welcomes the Palestinian Economic Initiative – we are taking a leading role in fostering private sector-led, sustainable economic growth in support of Palestinian state-building efforts.
We look to Israel to take the necessary steps to further ease restrictions on both the West Bank and Gaza to enable the step change in the Palestinian economy that Secretary Kerry is rightly advocating.
It is important to build confidence among the Palestinian and Israeli peoples that their common goal of peace is within reach. Over the last few weeks there have been a number of concerning events including:
- The murder of three Israelis – including 2 serving Israeli Defence Force soldiers in the West Bank. We condemn this unreservedly.
- The rise in ‘price tag’ attacks across East Jerusalem and the West Bank, including setting fire and vandalising Palestinian property. Those responsible for these crimes must be brought to justice.
We are also troubled by the rise in tensions around the Holy Sites of Jerusalem – sites that hold religious importance and are politically sensitive. We call on all parties to maintain the status quo and engage in dialogue to ensure calm.
Going forward, the international community must do it all can to support both Parties towards our common goal of reaching the negotiated two-state solution that ends the conflict once and for all.
Mr President, on Syria….
For the first time, with the adoption of resolution 2118, the Security Council imposes binding and enforceable obligations on the Syrian regime, with the threat of action under Chapter VII of the UN Charter in the event of non-compliance. Resolution 2118 – the first on Syria in 17 months – requires the full implementation of the Executive Council decision by the OPCW, in which Syria’s chemical weapons must be verifiably eliminated within the first half of next year. The voluntary destruction of these chemical weapons, which until recently the Assad regime denied it possessed, is a huge step forward on this issue.
Security Council Resolution 2118 also formally endorses the Geneva Communiqué of last year, calling for a transitional governing body with full executive powers. Today, my Foreign Minister hosted a meeting of the London 11 Foreign Ministers and a senior delegation from the Syrian National Coalition led by President Jarba. The communiqué, issued after that meeting, welcomed progress on preparations for Geneva II, which could take place this November. Participants underscored that Geneva II should lead to a Transitional Governing Body with full executive powers agreed by mutual consent. They agreed that once this body is established Assad and his close associates with blood on their hands, will have no future role to play in Syria. The United Kingdom will continue to work closely with the Syrian National Coalition, who are committed to the Geneva Communique, an inclusive and democratic Syria and who reject extremism.
Well over 100,000 people have been killed and hundreds of thousands of Syrian civilians continue to suffer from the regime’s brutal use of conventional weapons and gross human rights violations committed on a daily basis. The United Kingdom calls on all Member States to support the 3rd Committee resolution on the human rights situation in Syria. We must send a clear message to the Assad regime that the international community is united in its condemnation of the human rights violations.
We’ve seen UN Security Council come together on humanitarian access with the adoption of a Presidential Statement – this now needs to be translated into visible change on the ground. The humanitarian situation remains dire. More than 6.8 million people are displaced and every 15 seconds a Syrian becomes a refugee – that’s almost 5,000 people every day. The United Nations estimates that up to 2.5 million people in areas under siege cannot be accessed by humanitarian agencies. The use of siege by regime forces in Moadamiyeh, Homs, Aleppo and Hasakah is unacceptable and I echo Valerie Amos’ call for an immediate pause in hostilities in Moadamiyeh to allow humanitarian agencies unhindered access to evacuate the remaining civilians and to deliver life saving treatment and supplies. The United Kingdom recognises the scale and despair of the humanitarian crisis. During the UN General Assembly week, we announced a further $160 million in humanitarian assistance, which now brings the UK’s total Syria-related humanitarian funding to $800 million, this is the largest total sum that we have ever committed to a single humanitarian crisis. The international community, as a whole, pledged over $1 billion in new funding during September. This is a welcome step, but more needs to be done.
Mr President, turning to Lebanon….
As July’s Security Council Presidential Statement and the recent International Support Group’s meetings demonstrated, there is genuine international unity in support of Lebanon’s stability. The United Kingdom has tripled our own humanitarian and security assistance to Lebanon this year. We call on the Lebanese parties to take urgent steps to form a new consensual government to tackle the significant challenges that they face.
We are at a critical juncture on both the Middle East Peace Process and the Syria conflict. Both crisis require bold, responsible leadership from the parties to the conflict and active engagement from the international community, to secure an end to conflict and a better future for the people of the region.
- Saudi U.N. envoy criticizes Israel’s ‘daily violations’ in Palestine (altahrir.wordpress.com)
- Syria Crisis: How Will It Be Resolved? – Analysis (albanytribune.com)
- Press release – Human Rights and Democracy Report 2012 – 2013 – #Syria (acenewsservices.com)
- London 11 Friends of Syria Final Communiqué (voltairenet.org)
- Friends of #Syria Meeting to be Hosted in London#Peace (acenewsservices.com)
INFOWARS: The establishment specializes in the old fashion bait-and-switch. It knows the people are sick and tired of government as usual and they want change. Obama was billed as Mr. Hope and Change. But once installed in the White House, he immediately continued and expanded the Bush agenda, that is to say the agenda of the political establishment. Barry, like his predecessor, is little more than a frontispiece, a tele-prompter reader for the elite.
“The Republican establishment despises Ted Cruz. And that’s great news for the senator from Texas: It’s the most prominent sign that he’s the front-runner for the GOP presidential nomination,” the National Journal opined last week.
The faux government shutdown with its intense partisan squabbling and meticulously orchestrated theatrics provided Cruz and the reformulated Tea Party Republicans with a stage to present themselves as the answer to politics as usual. According to the script, a staid GOP dominated by the likes of old guard John McCain and John Boehner is afraid of Cruz and the supposedly renegade faction of Tea Party activists in the House. But it’s all show business.
For all his allure as an outsider, Canada-born Ted Cruz is in fact an insider playing a role similar to the one Barack Obama played back in 2008 when his handlers portrayed him as the hope and change candidate out of nowhere.
Cruz’s insider connection is a family affair. His wife, Heidi, is a Goldman Sachs vice president in Houston, Texas, according to her LinkedIn profile. She also served as an economic advisor for the Bush administration. In 2011, a Cruz campaign spokesman portrayed Heidi as “an expert on North American trade,” in other words she is savvy when it comes to globalist transnational trade deals like NAFTA, the single most destructive government move against the American worker in history.
- Ted Cruz and Mike Lee are Running the GOP — and They are Winning (rushlimbaugh.com)
- Video From The Rafael Cruz Father Of Senator Ted Cruz (freerepublican.wordpress.com)
- Exclusive: Sen. Ted Cruz Talks About Obamacare, Threats Against His Family (dfw.cbslocal.com)
- Ted Cruz’s Wife is a Goldman Sachs VP With Ties To The “Council on Foreign Relations” (thelastgreatstand.com)
- Ted Cruz’s Wife is a Goldman Sachs VP (dailypaul.com)
- Ted Cruz’s wife is a Goldman Sachs VP and CFR member (hangthebankers.com)
After the conclusion of a core group of the Friends of Syria meeting which he had hosted in London, the Foreign Secretary spoke on behalf of the group.
The Foreign Secretary William Hague said:
We have just concluded an important and productive meeting of the Foreign Ministers of the Friends of Syria core group, including the President of the Syrian National Coalition.
We have met against the backdrop of the regime’s escalating use of indiscriminate and disproportionate force against the people of Syria. They are using tanks, torture, artillery, SCUD missiles, air attacks; laying siege to desperate people; and presiding over the creation of a humanitarian catastrophe.
Members of the opposition have spoken powerfully about people starving and women and children suffering at the hands of the regime. The only sustainable way to end this conflict and the suffering of innocent Syrian civilians is through a political transition in Syria. The purpose of our meeting today has been to send a signal of our resolve, our unity and determination in brining that about, building on the diplomatic progress made during the UN General Assembly last month.
We have agreed a number of important steps today:
First, we agreed that we would put our united and collective weight behind the UN-led Geneva II process, which must lead to establishing by mutual consent a Transitional Governing Body with full executive powers as set out in the Communiqué in 2012. By definition that means that it can only be agreed with the consent of the Syrian National Coalition. So Assad will play no role in that future Government of Syria.
Second, despite the enormous challenges faced by the Syrian opposition, we urged the National Coalition to commit itself fully to the Geneva II process and to lead and form the heart of any opposition delegation. Geneva offers the Syrian people the best hope to improve their lives.
Third, we agreed with them that we will provide the intensive political and practical support that will be required to give the Geneva II process the best chance of success.
Fourth, we agreed a set of principles, attached to today’s communiqué, that underline the unity of our approach to the Geneva II process as the Friends of Syria core group.
We agreed the Syrian opposition, including the moderate armed groups, and moderate opposition represented by the coalition continue to need our strong collective backing. There can be no peaceful and political settlement in Syria without the participation of the moderate opposition. So we pledged further support to them.
President Al Jarba attended lunch and made clear, as in New York, his support. We are as clear as he is that Assad has no part in the future of Syria.
The UK will continue to support the opposition in its efforts to help and protect the Syrian people from the murderous abuses of the regime through the more than £20 million in support to the opposition that we have provided this year. This is support that to helps to save lives and provide services to the Syrian population – including search and rescue equipment and training, power generators, communications, support and training to civil administrations.
Between now and Geneva II Conference, we plan to announce a further package of UK support, including substantial non-lethal support to the National Coalition working with General Idris of the Free Syrian Army’s Supreme Military Council. This assistance is likely to take the form of communications, medical, and logistics equipment. It will help them to save lives on the ground.
None of us has lost sight of the deepening humanitarian disaster.
As winter approaches, the risks are growing to the nearly 7 million Syrians in need. This is compounded still further by the actions of the regime. The UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Valerie Amos said yesterday that the UN continues to be denied access on the ground to those in need of humanitarian assistance by obstacles placed by the Syrian regime. In the suburbs of Damascus, many innocent Syrians remain trapped as a result of the regime’s siege tactics. This is unacceptable and full and uninhibited access for humanitarian aid to people in need must be allowed.
We have intensified the humanitarian support our eleven countries are providing, and encourage others to do the same through further funding pledges and we will be pressing the case for humanitarian access as called for by the UN Security Council on 2 October.
The UK is the second largest humanitarian donor to the Syria conflict with over £500 million of aid allocated to date. Yesterday, we announced a further £15.5 million of lifesaving support to Palestinian refugees both inside Syrian and in neighbouring countries. This will include food for over 150,000 people and clothing for people in need of urgent help.
Our eleven countries will continue to work closely together in the weeks leading up to a Geneva Conference to ensure it has the best possible chance of success, and the people of Syria finally get the political transition they so desperately need and deserve.
- Syria: Ministers Meet Ahead Of Peace Talks (news.sky.com)
- Syrian opposition won’t attend peace talks unless goal is Assad’s exit (worldbulletin.net)
- ‘Friends of Syria': Assad can have no role in future govt. (dailystar.com.lb)
- Syria: Hague, Kerry meet rebels to save Geneva peace summit (theweek.co.uk)
- Syrian sectarianism becoming entrenched, says William Hague (theguardian.com)