Archive for October, 2010

Habermas: Leadership and Leitkultur

October 31, 2010
By JÜRGEN HABERMAS, The New York Times, October 28, 2010

SINCE the end of August Germany has been roiled by waves of political turmoil over integration, multiculturalism and the role of the “Leitkultur,” or guiding national culture. This discourse is in turn reinforcing trends toward increasing xenophobia among the broader population.

These trends have been apparent for many years in studies and survey data that show a quiet but growing hostility to immigrants. Yet it is as though they have only now found a voice: the usual stereotypes are being flushed out of the bars and onto the talk shows, and they are echoed by mainstream politicians who want to capture potential voters who are otherwise drifting off toward the right. Two events have given rise to a mixture of emotions that are no longer easy to locate on the scale from left to right — a book by a board member of Germany’s central bank and a recent speech by the German president.

It all began with the advance release of provocative excerpts from “Germany Does Away With Itself,” a book that argues that the future of Germany is threatened by the wrong kind of immigrants, especially from Muslim countries. In the book, Thilo Sarrazin, a politician from the Social Democratic Party who sat on the Bundesbank board, develops proposals for demographic policies aimed at the Muslim population in Germany. He fuels discrimination against this minority with intelligence research from which he draws false biological conclusions that have gained unusually wide publicity.

In sharp contrast to the initial spontaneous objections from major politicians, these theses have gained popular support. One poll found that more than a third of Germans agreed with Mr. Sarrazin’s prognosis that Germany was becoming “naturally more stupid on average” as a result of immigration from Muslim countries.

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Did the Palestinian Authority kill the UN report on Gaza?

October 31, 2010

By Jared Malsin, Foreign Policy, October 27, 2010

GAZA–Israeli soldiers shot a mentally ill Palestinian man in the leg when he ventured near the Erez crossing, in the northern Gaza Strip on Tuesday. Last Wednesday, a 65-year-old man was shot in the neck in the same area. A week earlier the soldiers shot a 17-year-old, who entered the 300 to 500 meter “buffer zone” in northern Gaza to collect construction scrap which he hoped to sell for a few dollars. Human rights groups say there is a direct link between these daily shootings and the international community’s failure to hold Israel accountable for past violations, especially during its 2008-2009 offensive on Gaza, which left more than 1,300 Palestinians dead, most of them noncombatants. 13 Israelis also died. “The attacks [are] still going on, and the Israelis are taking the same stance as during Cast Lead. They’re failing to distinguish between civilian and military targets,” said Mahmoud Abu Rahma, of the Al-Mezan Center for Human Rights in Gaza.

Last month, under US and Israeli pressure, the Palestinian Authority (PA), once again delayed the process of accountability. This came at a September 29 vote at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, in which the PA backed a resolution to give Israel and Hamas officials in Gaza six more months to investigate crimes documented in Richard Goldstone’s UN Fact Finding Mission report. According to Palestinian and international human rights groups, the Palestinian Authority has decided that the Goldstone report must remain in Geneva, away from the relatively more powerful UN bodies in New York. This is a position identical to that of the US State Department, which wants to keep pressure off Israel during the newly re-launched political negotiations.

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How the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars are sinking the US economy

October 31, 2010

by Linda Bilmes , The Daily Beast,

Linda J. Bilmes is a professor at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. She is co-author with Joseph Stiglitz of the New York Times bestseller The Three Trillion Dollar War: The True Cost of the Iraq Conflict. Bilmes has written extensively on financial and budgetary issues in newspapers, magazines and academic journals including the New York Times, The Washington Post, and the Financial Times.

Nobel Prize recipient Joseph Stiglitz and Harvard budget guru Linda J. Bilmes are revising their original $3 trillion war cost estimate. As Bilmes reports, the Iraq and Afghanistan wars are at least 25 percent costlier than previous projections.

As Election Day draws near, it’s pretty clear: Voters are worried about jobs, the budget deficit and the rising national debt.

But behind those issues—behind the ads and candidates’ speeches, behind the rhetoric about “out-of-control” government spending—there lurks a hidden, less-talked-about issue: the cost of the ongoing wars.

Already, we’ve spent more than $1 trillion in Iraq, not counting the $700 billion consumed each year by the Pentagon budget. And spending in Iraq and Afghanistan now comes to more than

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$3 billion weekly, making the wars a major reason for record-level budget deficits.

Two years ago, Joseph Stiglitz and I published The Three Trillion Dollar War in which we estimated that the budgetary and economic costs of the war would reach $3 trillion.

Taking new numbers into account, however, we now believe that our initial estimate was far too conservative—the cost of the wars will reach between $4 trillion and $6 trillion.

For example, we recently analyzed the medical and disability claim patterns for almost a million troops who have returned from the wars, and, based on this record, we’ve revised our estimate upward to between $600 billion and $900 billion—a broad specter, yes, but certainly also a significant upward tick from our earlier projection of $400 billion to $700 billion, based on historical patterns.

Similarly, our estimates for the economic and social costs associated with returning veterans can be expected to rise by at least a third—the staggering toll of repeated deployments over the past decade.

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India: Being untouchable no longer

October 31, 2010

by David Griffiths, New Statsman,  28 October 2010

Increasingly powerful voices in India are calling for a true end to discrimination based on caste.

Every day, Uma walks through the village with her basket to the communal latrine. Nobody touches her along the way. She has an enamel toilet in her own home, but she cleans the excrement of others because this is the job assigned by her caste.

When President Obama visits India next month, it is quite certain that he will pay tribute to Mahatma Gandhi, perceived around the world as one of history’s most celebrated symbols of liberation, and a source of inspiration for the US president himself.

But there are calls within India for Obama to look further than Gandhi in paying homage to Indian heroes. For India’s community of 167 million Dalits, once known as “untouchables”, the true icon is Dr B R Ambedkar. Himself an untouchable, Dr Ambedkar gained doctorates from Columbia University, where President Obama, too, was educated, and at the London School of Economics, before becoming the architect of independent India’s new constitution.

Relatively little-known internationally, Ambedkar has accrued almost divine status as a focal point for Dalit aspirations. Within India, Ambedkar appears everywhere. His statues easily outnumber those of Gandhi. Deep in communities of Dalits, you will hear the greeting, “Jai Bhim“, meaning “hail Bhimrao [Ambedkar]”. You will see his portrait in any self-assertive Dalit’s home, and his name is spoken with pride. When, in 2006, the nation marked the 50th anniversary of his death, over 800,000 Dalits crowded to pay him their respects in Mumbai.

Dalits stress that, unlike the Mahatma, Ambedkar challenged the very existence of the caste system as the basis for discrimination against Dalits. It is because of Ambedkar, they say, that Dalits play any role in India’s political and administrative structures – albeit a limited part. That is why anti-caste activists are urging Obama to pay homage to Ambedkar as a true giant of the cause of liberation from oppression.

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Nasir Khan: Will Obama help Kashmiri struggle against Indian rule?

October 30, 2010

Response to Shahid Siddiqi’s analysis of India’s occupation of Kashmir

By Nasir Khan,  Axis of Logic, Oct 30, 2010

Response by Axis of Logic reader, Nasir Khan on Obama’s November Vist to India: Help Kashmiris gain their right to self-determination.

Mr Siddiqi, I am sure you know what Obama stands for. Please let me add a bit on this score. The whole world knows him as a staunch defender of the policies of Israel who is flanked by and pushed around by Zionists. He has also earned himself the distinction of being a true successor to George W. Bush since stepping in the White House because he has not only followed the war policies of Bush but also extended the war of aggression in Afghanistan and Pakistan. He is responsible for the almost daily killings of the Pakistanis by drone missile attacks. Let us keep in view the fact that his hands are sullied with the blood of hundreds of innocent Pakistanis and there is no end in sight to such savagery. Obama does not stand for: kill first and explain later. He has a freehand in killing by his advanced technological devices and as far as he is concerned that is the end of the matter. Why? Because he represents the power of American imperialism, military-industrial complex and the corporate interests. That also means there is no inhibition or restraint on what he does. The determining factor in all this is the global military power and influence of the United States.

Will Obama do anything to stop India from its inhuman atrocities and oppression in Kashmir and seek a solution to the Kashmir Issue? I think, we should come out of such make-believe world of illusions. He wouldn’t do anything of the sort. There are many reasons for that. At present American imperialism, India’s Hindutva leadership and the Zionist rulers of Israel are close strategic and military partners. The last thing on their agenda can be solving the Kashmir Issue. They have other considerations for the region and the Middle East!

As far as the present Pakistani rulers are concerned, they are pawns in the hands of the Washington rulers. They dance to the tunes of or the crack of the whip of the Pentagon and the State Department obediently. They have allowed the United States military to use Pakistani airport Shamsi and other military facilities to launch drone attacks on Pakistanis. In return for American money and to appease the Washington rulers, Pakistani army in Waziristan has been acting  as a mercenary force killing and destroying its own people. So American drones and Pakistan army supplement each other. They are making the world safe for democracy and advancing ‘American’ values!

Source: Axis of Logic

The Following  photos are reproduced from Shahid R. Siddiqi’s article ‘Obama’s November Vist to India: Help Kashmiris gain their right to self-determination.

INDIAN BRUTALITY IN KASHMIR

Rejoinder to ‘Is UN Creation of Israel a Myth? Ask Foreign Policy Journal’

October 30, 2010

By Jeremy R. Hammond, Foreign Policy Journal, Oct 28, 2010

Israel National News (INN) has published an op-ed about my essay “The Myth of the U.N. Creation of Israel“, in which they asked Dr. Mordecai Nisan, a lecturer at Hebrew University, to respond. There are two observations to be made about this op-ed: First, it does not actually refute so much as a single point of fact or logic from my article, and, second, Dr. Nisan in fact acknowledges that my thesis is correct.

Palestine Post“Of course it is a myth to assert or believe that the U.N. created Israel,” Dr. Nisan admits in his reply. One might think that, since there is agreement on this point of fact, there would be not much else to debate. What he challenges, however, is not the thesis itself, but the corollary that the Zionist leadership lacked any legal foundation for their unilateral declaration of the establishment of the state of Israel.

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When will the conspiracy of silence end?

October 29, 2010

Intifada Palestine, Oct 24, 2010

By Dr. Bouthaina Shaaban

Seconds passed like an eternity for a heart beating for freedom, a soul which fought against occupation and its humiliation and a body shrinking into itself trying to avoid 21st century brutality in a prison cell without door or windows. The body is thin and delicate, the head is scarved and the eyes are blindfolded in absolute absence of human conscience; while the monsters of the Western age in the land of Jesus Christ dance around their victim. Are these monsters dancing in celebration of kidnapping an Arab girl whose only sin is that she has fought for her and her people’s freedom? Or are they dancing in celebration of the death of world conscience which drawls human rights and freedom while turning its back on the most sacred cause of freedom in the 21st century – the freedom of the Palestinian people and its fight for salvation from Israeli terrorism perpetrated through Western support for over sixty years.

Released prisoner, Ihsan Dababseh (24), tells the story of the video in which Israeli soldier Avi Yakobov, who abused her by performing a belly-dance and rubbing against her bound and blind-folded body in December, 2007 at the Gush Etzion military base. She says, “Another soldier brought a bottle of wine and asked me to drink”. Minutes later, soldiers attacked her like frenzied wolves with gun butts. “One soldier kept hitting my head against an iron bar until I blacked out”.

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International aid agency Oxfam warned that three months into Pakistan’s unprecedented flood crisis funds were drying up.

October 29, 2010
 

World Bulletin, Friday, 29 October 2010

International aid agency Oxfam warned that three months into Pakistan’s unprecedented flood crisis funds were drying up, putting millions at risk with swathes of farmland still under water.

The United Nations issued a record two-billion-dollar appeal for funds to cope with Pakistan’s worst humanitarian disaster, which ravaged an area roughly the size of England and affected 21 million people.

“Funds for the UN flood appeal are drying up and threatening the aid and reconstruction effort,” Oxfam on Friday said in a statement marking the third month since heavy monsoon rains began falling in northwestern Pakistan.

“The crisis is far from over,” said Oxfam’s director in Pakistan, Neva Khan.

“Fund issue”

A United Nations appeal for $1.9 billion for Pakistan is only 39 percent funded, spokeswoman Elisabeth Byrs said.

“We still have a long way to go. The food security, health and camp management sectors are really under-funded,” she said.

“Cases of disease are increasing and large areas remain under water in southern Sindh province,” said Oxfam. “As winter approaches, seven million people are still without adequate shelter.”

UN officials say 10 million people are in need of immediate food assistance and health authorities have reported 99 confirmed cases of cholera.

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Robert Fisk: WikiLeaks proved the US lied

October 29, 2010

Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Lateline,

Broadcast: 28/10/2010

Reporter: Tony Jones

Middle East correspondent and author Robert Fisk joins Lateline to discuss WikiLeaks’ recent release of secret military files from the Iraq war.

Transcript

TONY JONES, PRESENTER: Tonight’s guest is veteran Middle-East correspondent and author Robert Fisk.

Following the release by WikiLeaks of nearly 400,000 classified US military documents, Mr Fisk wrote an angry piece headlined “The Shaming of America” in his newspaper The Independent.

He claimed the Pentagon’s anger over the leaks was not because their secrecy had been breached, but because they’d been caught out telling lies, and he joined us just a short time ago from Beirut.

Robert Fisk, thanks for being there.

ROBERT FISK, JOURNALIST AND AUTHOR: You’re welcome.

TONY JONES: Now, what’s the significance of the close-to-400,000 secret US military documents that have been posted by WikiLeaks, as far as you’re concerned?

ROBERT FISK: Well I think there are several very important elements to this story.

First of all, the individual items like, you know, there are witnesses, American witnesses to torture, they didn’t do anything, that the Iraqis – security authorities were torturing Iraqis, that American air strikes were killing many civilians.

We knew about this, but it was always denied by the Americans. I was doing stories years ago about Iraqis torturing Iraqis and the stories were coming from American officers who were leaking them to me.

But of course every time I wrote them in the paper, the Americans denied that it was true. I went to the scenes of US air strikes. They were obviously limbs, hands, arms of children, babies, women, civilians, as well sometimes as armed men, and we wrote about this. . . .

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UN rights chiefs lead new assault on US

October 29, 2010

Washington under fire over ‘war on terror’, Iraq-Afghan conflicts, Wikileaks revelations.

Middle East Online, Oct 27, 2010

Investigate all allegations in the Wikileak documents

UNITED NATIONS – UN human rights chiefs and experts launched a new offensive on the US conduct of its “war on terror” and conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The leaking of 400,000 documents on the Iraq war and war crimes charges against a former Al-Qaeda child soldier at the Guantanamo prison camp has opened the door to new criticism despite President Barack Obama’s efforts to improve the US image.

UN human rights chief Navi Pillay on Tuesday urged Iraq and the United States to investigate allegations of torture and unlawful killings in the Iraq conflict revealed in documents released by Wikileaks.

A UN investigator on torture called for an investigation into all US practices since the September 11, 2001 attacks. Another UN expert called the US military hearing against a young Al-Qaeda operative at Guantanamo “a disgrace.”

A US official expressed surprise at the new criticism but, speaking on condition of anonymity, said “even the UN knows that the situation has changed since the president (Obama) came to office” in January 2009.

Pillay, based in Geneva, said the United States and Iraq should investigate all allegations in the Wikileak documents and “bring to justice those responsible for unlawful killings, summary executions, torture and other serious human rights abuses.”

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