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Michel Chossudovsky, renowned Canadian professor and award-winning author, argues that a US plan for military intervention in Syria is aimed at integrating its “four distinct war theaters”– Afghanistan-Pakistan, Iraq, Palestine and Libya- which could eventually lead to creating “a World War III scenario.”

“An attack on Syria would lead to the integration of these separate war theaters, eventually leading towards a broader Middle East-Central Asian war,” the professor writes in an opinion piece for Global Research.

Chossudovsky says that the United States is fueling “civil wars” in multiple countries namely Yemen, Somalia, Egypt, Mali and Niger through sponsoring al-Qaeda affiliated groups, essentially preparing the ground for US military intervention often in the forms of counter-terrorism operations.

“Public opinion is largely unaware of the grave implications of these war plans which could potentially lead humanity into a World War III scenario,” he warns.

The Obama administration has claimed the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was behind a recent deadly chemical weapons attack in the suburbs of Damascus, even though there is no evidence linking the attack to the government forces. The White House is gearing up for military strikes on Syrian targets.

Citing an August 2012 Los Angeles Times report, Chossudovsky says preparations for “a false flag chemical weapons attack” in Syria began more than a year ago when the Pentagon dispatched “small teams of special operations troops” into the Arab country to destroy its alleged weapons of mass destruction (WMD).

“These initial US sponsored WMD special team operations had established the likely scenario of a staged false flag chemical weapons attack.”

US, NATO and Israeli military planners have laid the groundwork for a “humanitarian” military involvement in Syria for years, Chossudovsky says.

He asserts that the US and its regional allies, namely Israel, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, have been sponsoring and arming the militant groups in Syria, some of which have been responsible for gruesome terrorist attacks against civilian populations, as “mass civilian casualty events” play a central role in US military doctrine.

“Civilian casualties are triggered with a view to drumming up public support for war on humanitarian grounds.”

“MI6, CIA and Mossad operatives as well as Western Special Forces had integrated rebel forces from the very outset. The high profile terrorist attacks were coordinated by highly trained military contractors and intelligence operatives,” the professor adds.

Another “integral” component of US military agenda, according to Chossudovsky, is “escalation.”

“Were a US-NATO military operation to be launched against Syria, the broader Middle East Central Asian region extending from North Africa and the Eastern Mediterranean to the Afghanistan-Pakistan border with China would be engulfed in the turmoil of an extended regional war.”

Israel and Turkey would also cooperate with the US in both the air campaign and the deployment of ground forces, Chossudovsky argues.

A US-led military attack against Syria, the professor warns, will have serious repercussions in other parts of the world especially South East Asia and the Far East where the US is countering China and Russia as part of its “pivot to Asia” strategy.

Japan pledged nearly $500 million (321.4 million pounds) to contain leaks and decontaminate radioactive water from the tsunami-crippled Fukushima nuclear plant, stepping up government efforts to cope with the legacy of the worst atomic disaster in a quarter of a century.

The announcement comes just days before the International Olympic Committee decides whether Tokyo – 230 km (140 miles) from the wrecked plant – will host the 2020 Olympic Games and the government is keen to show the crisis is under control. Madrid and Istanbul are the rival candidates.

“The world is watching to see if we can carry out the decommissioning of the Fukushima nuclear power plant, including addressing the contaminated water issues,” Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told cabinet ministers, who met to approve the plan.

The government intervention represents only a tiny slice of the response to the Fukushima crisis triggered by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami, which caused reactor meltdowns at the plant. The clean-up, including decommissioning the ruined reactors, will take decades and rely on unproven technology.

The measures do not address the full problem of water management at the plant or the bigger issue of decommissioning. The sensitive job of removing spent fuel rods is to start in the coming months. The ultimate fate of the plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco), also remains unclear, as does the question of who will eventually foot the bill – Japanese taxpayers, or the embattled Tepco.

“This is a matter of public safety, so the country has to take the lead on this issue and respond as quickly as possible. Figuring out who to bill for the costs can come later,” Economics Minister Akira Amari told a news conference.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a separate news conference that the government would spend a total of 47 billion yen (304.1 million pounds), including 21 billion yen in emergency reserve funds from this year’s budget.

Of that, 32 billion yen will fund the building of a massive underground wall of frozen earth around the damaged reactors to contain groundwater flows, and 15 billion yen to improve a water treatment system meant to drastically reduce radiation levels in the contaminated water.

TEPCO CRITICISM

Tepco, Japan’s biggest utility, has come under a fresh flood of criticism following a stream of bad news including its admission, after repeated denials, that contaminated water was flowing into the Pacific Ocean. That was followed by leaks from above-ground tanks used to store radiated water.

The problems have revived notions, debated but rejected in the months after the March 2011 disaster, of liquidating Tepco or at least splitting off the Fukushima operation from its other businesses and putting it under direct government control.

“Is anyone at Tepco taking responsibility for these mistakes? I haven’t heard of anyone stepping down or being fired,” said Taro Kono, a ruling Liberal Democratic Party deputy secretary general who is critical of nuclear utilities. “Tepco needs to go down and the government needs to take over,” he said, acknowledging his was a minority view in the ruling party.

Industry minister Toshimitsu Motegi and ruling party officials have said liquidating Tepco was not being considered as an option.

Critics said the government was mainly trying to cool down international media coverage ahead of the Olympics decision.

“At a moment when international public opinion is worrying about the long-term consequences of repeated leaks at the site, Tokyo seems to obeying the short-term logic of waiting until the Olympics decision is over,” Mycle Schneider, an independent nuclear energy analyst based in Paris who frequently visits Japan, said by email. A more sustainable option, he added, would be to seek global support to confront Fukushima’s unprecedented challenges.

Motegi denied the Olympic bid was the main motivating factor. “The government felt that we want to be fully involved and put together fundamental measures regardless of the decision on where they will hold the Games,” he said.

OFF-LIMITS

Measurable radiation from water leaking from the facility is confined to the harbour around the plant, Motegi noted, and is not an environmental threat to other countries because the radiation will be diluted by the sea.

The peak release of radiation in the sea around Fukushima came about a month after the earthquake and tsunami. Ocean currents have since dispersed the plume and sent the diluted radiation in a slow drift towards the West Coast of the United States, studies have shown. The amount of radiation expected to reach Canadian and U.S. coastal waters in the years ahead is projected to be well within safety limits for drinking water as it will have been greatly diluted.

The closest towns to the stricken plant remain deserted and off-limits to the public. But some former residents have started to return to their homes, some of which are less than 20 kms away, as decontamination work progresses.

China said last month it was “shocked” to hear that contaminated water was still leaking from storage tanks and urged Japan to give timely and accurate information. [ID:nL4N0GM0DG] Tepco is storing enough contaminated water to fill more than 130 Olympic-sized swimming pools, mostly in hastily built tanks that officials have said may spring further leaks.

The planned measures are daunting. Freezing earth to block water flows is a technology commonly used in digging subway tunnels, but is untested on the Fukushima scale and the planned duration of years or decades. The decontamination technology has repeatedly suffered from glitches.

The Advanced Liquid Processing System (ALPS), developed by Utah-based EnergySolutions and Toshiba Corp, can remove all radioactive particles from water except tritium, considered the least harmful to humans. But the system has been stalled for months due to mishaps.

Tepco said earlier that patrolling workers had found a new area of high radiation near water storage tanks.

Persistent violence in Syria and Egypt has sharply divided senior advisers in the Obama administration over a moral dilemma: How far should the U.S. go to stop the killing when its actions could lead to war with Syria or damage relations with Egypt?

Hundreds have died in Egypt during protests brought on by the military overthrow of President Mohammed Morsi. In Syria, allegations of chemical weapons attacks on civilians by the government of President Bashar Assad come amid reports of hundreds more victims in a 2-year-old civil war that, by U.N. estimates, has already killed more than 100,000.

Pentagon leaders, including Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, have argued for moderation in the U.S. response. They say that cutting off aid to Egypt would threaten key national security agreements and could rattle the peace between Egypt and Israel. They suggest that such action would cost the U.S. its leverage and even risk losing access to the Suez Canal and permission for military flights over Egypt.

Others in the administration, among them close advisers in the West Wing, have countered that the U.S. should take more decisive action to curtail the violence in Egypt as well as the sectarian war in Syria. So far, the White House has taken only incremental steps. In that vein, it’s expected to announce in the coming days the suspension of another major weapons shipment to Egypt.

The lack of a unified position – both within the Obama administration and on Capitol Hill – is giving President Barack Obama time and space for his cautious approach. But that is riling those who believe that the U.S. should put stronger pressure on Egypt’s military and take military action against Assad’s government.

Obama, nevertheless, is staunchly defending his cautious, methodical approach.

On Syria, for instance, he said in a CNN “New Day” interview broadcast Friday that the possible use of chemical weapons by Assad’s forces is a “big event of grave concern.” He said the United States is still seeking confirmation that toxic gases were used. However, Obama also said the idea that the U.S. can solve Syria’s civil war is “overstated.”

When it comes to crisis situations, whether at home or overseas, he said, “the buck stops with me.”

On Egypt, Obama said that cutting U.S. military aid to Cairo “may not reverse what the interim government does.” But he said the United States must be “very careful” about being seen as aiding and abetting actions that run contrary to the country’s values.

Asked to specifically address harsh criticism directed his way by Sen. John McCain, the Arizona Republican he defeated in the presidential campaign of 2008, Obama said he respects McCain’s passion for helping people under siege but said he must, nevertheless, move cautiously on international crises.

The next military weapons shipments for Egypt are scheduled for next month – including 10 Apache helicopters at a cost of about $500 million. Also scheduled for delivery are a number of M1A1 tank kits, including machine guns and other equipment used with the tanks, as well as some used missiles. The missiles, which have been moved and handled but not yet fired, could be used for spare parts by the Egyptian military or they could be refurbished for launching.

According to senior U.S. officials, however, the administration is expected to delay the delivery of Apache helicopters. That move, which may not come until next week, would be the second major weapons sale put on hold by the U.S. in an effort to pressure the Egyptian military to halt the bloodshed and take steps toward a more peaceful transition to democracy. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter by name.

To express displeasure about the Egyptian crackdown on pro-Morsi demonstrators, the U.S. suspended the delivery of four F-16 fighter jets to Egypt and canceled biennial U.S.-Egyptian military exercises planned for next month. Obama has said that the United States’ long-term cooperation with Egypt “cannot continue as usual.”

However, the U.S. military has continued shipments of thousands of spare parts for American weapons systems used by the Egyptian forces. Plans continue for sending armored bulldozers for border security, radars and missiles in the coming months.

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said Thursday that he believed the U.S. had reached a “tipping point” on Egypt.

“The Egyptian military needs to let the democratic process go forward,” McConnell, R-Ky., told CNN. “I think we’re going to be voting on this again in September because it looks to me like the crackdown is not an indication that they are moving in the direction of having a new election.”

Meanwhile, the latest concerns about chemical weapons in Syria prompted a meeting of Obama’s national security team. Secretary of State John Kerry, who is on vacation, attended via video teleconference and made a flurry of telephone calls to world leaders to discuss the unrelenting bloodshed in Syria.

The United States said in June that it had conclusive evidence that Assad’s government had used chemical weapons against opposition forces. That crossed what Obama had called a “red line” and prompted a U.S. decision to send arms to Syrian rebels, including guns, ammunition and shoulder-fired, anti-tank grenades.

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said that 1,000 to 1,800 people were killed near Damascus in the latest alleged chemical weapons attack. She said Obama had directed U.S. intelligence agencies to gather additional information, but “right now, we are unable to conclusively determine chemical weapons use.”

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius on Tuesday raised the possibility of the international community using force. Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said at a news conference in Berlin, “Several red lines have been crossed – if sanctions are not imposed immediately, then we will lose our power to deter.”

Kerry has also urged other nations to help gather information about the reports of chemical weapons attacks. And the Obama administration is expected to hold more meetings on the matter in coming days.

McCain, a leading advocate of a more aggressive U.S. response to the events in Syria, said on CNN that if Assad believes there will be no retaliation, Assad would see that “the word of the president of the United States can no longer be taken seriously.”

Top military leaders have cautioned against even limited action in Syria. Dempsey, the Joint Chiefs chairman, said in a letter this week to a congressman that the U.S. military is clearly capable of taking out Assad’s air force and shifting the balance of the war toward the armed opposition. But such an approach would plunge the U.S. into the war without offering any strategy for ending what has become a sectarian fight, he added.

In Congress, Republicans are split between hawks such as McCain and tea party isolationists such as Sens. Rand Paul of Kentucky and Ted Cruz of Texas. In between there is no clear picture either, with moderates like Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee voicing opposition to a U.S.-enforced no-fly zone over Syria while others say it is time to act.

On Egypt, Paul, Cruz and 11 other senators voted to halt all U.S. aid to military leaders last month, but they were defeated as a majority of Republicans and all Democrats backed continued assistance. Many in both parties stressed the importance of maintaining U.S. leverage and supporting Israel’s security. Since then, however, McCain and some others have switched sides, saying U.S. funds now should be suspended given the harshness of the Egyptian government’s crackdown on Islamist opponents.

Among Democrats, Sens. Patrick Leahy of Vermont and Carl Levin of Michigan believe U.S. law compels a halt in aid to Egypt until democracy is restored. Most of their colleagues disagree. On Syria, some in Obama’s party see the president wading dangerously toward war by authorizing weapons deliveries to the rebels, while hawks and humanitarian interventionists believe he is doing too little.

rayvon Martin’s mother strongly condemned Florida’s controversial stand your ground law and said that the American justice system needs to make dramatic changes in the way young African-American and Latino citizens are treated.

Sybrina Fulton spoke at a press conference in Miami alongside leaders of the National Bar Association, the predominantly African-American law group whose convention is being held in Miami.

With regard to the stand your ground law, Fulton said, “I just think it assisted the person who killed my son to get away with murder. That has to change. We have to change these laws so that people don’t get away with murder.”

Her remarks at the lawyers’ convention in Miami were part of a series of high-profile appearances that she and Tracy Martin, the father of the slain 17-year-old high school student, have undertaken since shortly after the verdict was reached that found George Zimmerman not guilty of second-degree murder in the death of their son.

In recent weeks, Fulton said she had committed her time to advocating on behalf of youth in an effort to reduce the possibility of teenagers being victimized by gun violence.

In yesterday’s press conference, officials of the National Bar Association called upon Florida’s legislature to abolish the stand your ground law, which enables an individual to legally use deadly force if he or she determines that danger is imminent. The law became widely known nationally in the aftermath of George Zimmerman’s shooting of the unarmed teenager, then the assailant considered using the law in his self-defense strategy.

“We are asking the legislature to turn the pain that parents are feeling into a simple plan — that our youth will come home every night,” said John Page, the president of the association.

He said that the law, which he called “a license to kill,” should be abolished by the state’s legislature and called for a tourism boycott in Florida.

“Tourism, one of the lifelines of the state, will be impacted,” Page said. 

Fulton stopped short of endorsing a boycott of Florida.

“I can’t say I’m in support or not in support,” she said. “But people have the right to free speech, and if they feel like it, that’s something they can do.

US backs Salafis to create Muslim rift’

A senior Iranian lawmaker says the US and its allies spread extremist thoughts and support Salafism to sow discord among Muslims, stressing the importance of strengthening unity and solidarity to counter conspiracies.

In a meeting with Yemeni parliamentarians and political figures in Tehran on Monday, Vice Majlis Speaker Mohammad Hassan Aboutorabi-Fard said the US and its regional allies are hatching plots aimed at causing discord among Muslim nations.

He stressed the importance of avoiding religious and sectarian conflicts to prepare the ground for Muslim prosperity and progress.

”The formation of the Takfiri and Salafi phenomena in the Muslim world and US support for them is another sedition by the enemies of Muslims which requires unity, endeavor and prudence among the Muslim Ummah to counter it,” the Iranian legislator stated.
The Islamic Republic of Iran will use its utmost capability to strengthen unity among Muslims across the world, Aboutorabi-Fard added.

The Yemeni officials also expressed their views and urged Muslim nations to enhance their unity.

They expressed appreciation for Iran’s support for the resistance front and oppressed Palestinians and called for better ties between Tehran and Sana’a.

Yemen’s Shia Houthi movement said in July that US-backed Takfiri militants are planning to initiate a war in the northern part of the country.

Most Takfiris have identified themselves with the shadowy al-Qaeda terror network and are widely known to have committed countless atrocities against people opposing their views.

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