Archive for September, 2011

Fidel Castro mocks Obama for Cuba comments

September 30, 2011
AP

HAVANA, Cuba – Fidel Castro mocked President Barack Obama on Thursday for saying he’s open to changing U.S. policy toward Cuba if there is change on the island first, calling the U.S. leader “stupid.”

Writing in one of his semiregular essays published across state-run media, Castro reacted with sarcasm to reported comments that Obama would be open to a different relationship with Cuba when there is political and social change.

“How kind! How intelligent!” Castro said. “Such kindness still has not allowed him to understand that 50 years of blockade and crimes against our country have not been able to bow our people.”

Cuba uses the term “blockade” to refer to the nearly five-decades-old economic embargo against the island.

“Many things will change in Cuba, but they will change through our efforts and in spite of the United States. Perhaps that empire will fall first,” Castro added, a reference to the United States.

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Arrest Of Sanjeev Bhatt: A Direct Intimidation

September 30, 2011

By Teesta Setalvad, Countercurrents.com, Sept. 30, 2011

The Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP) strongly condemns the vindictive action of the Gujarat government in arresting Sanjeev Bhatt, senior IPS officer in an action that is nothing short of an attempt to intimidate an important witness in the Zakia Ahsan Jafri and CJP criminal complaint against chief minister Narendra Modi and 61 others. This action of the Gujarat police under the direct intructions of the state’s Home Minister—Narendra Modi amounts to tampering with evidence and direct intimidation of a key witness. It is also a cheap attempt to slur his character and standing.

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Alice Walker Fights Anti-Palestinian Bias

September 30, 2011

Pulitzer-winning author Alice Walker sees a reflection of the injustice done to African-Americans in today’s treatment of the Palestinians, leading her to object when the artwork of Palestinian children is barred from U.S. museums and to join a flotilla that challenged Israel’s blockade of Gaza, as Dennis Bernstein reports.

By Dennis Bernstein, Consortium News, Sept. 28, 2011

Alice Walker is Pulitzer Prize winning poet, author and activist. She participated recently in the U.S. Boat to Gaza, which was a part of the Freedom Flotilla, to break the Israeli embargo on the Gaza Strip.

Last year, a flotilla was attacked by Israeli commandos and a number of people were killed and wounded. Walker’s boat was stopped by Greek authorities before it could traverse the eastern Mediterranean to Gaza.

DB:  I want to start with the recent attempt by the Children’s Museum of Oakland to prevent Palestinian kids from showing their art. You wrote a very moving piece on your web site. It was very personal. Could you just briefly outline what you wrote and your response to this censorship?

AW: Well, I was basically saying that the children need to have exposure of their art because it will be a wonderful way to help them heal from the trauma of being bombed and watching their friends, and sometimes parents, die.

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U.S.-Pakistan relations: Watershed or Waterloo?

September 30, 2011
 Raoof Hasan, The International News,  September 29, 2011

The inherent artificiality of US-Pakistan relations was bound to assert itself as it has now. After a spate of bellicose statements from the US military hierarchy directly targeting the military and the ISI, it was the COAS who showed the grit to defend Pakistan’s legitimate strategic interests. The responsibility for doing so rested on the shoulders of the political leadership, but they constitute an important component of the problem that Pakistan is faced with today.

The US is losing the war in Afghanistan just like all previous invaders have. It has lost wars in the past that it started with intentions of stamping its illegitimate hegemony on various regions. In the process, it destabilised the world causing untold mayhem and impoverished millions of people who are still struggling to cope. Since the initiation of wars by the US has been part of a jaundiced but unchanging strategy of cultivating strife to keep its arms industry going and to physically occupy all sources of energy, there has been no let up in its scope or intensity, and there will not be any. Region after region has been mercilessly subjected to US brutality.

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PAKISTAN: Teachers are taking over the responsibilities of the mullahs and turning educational institutions into seminaries

September 30, 2011
AHRC, September 30, 2011

The misuse of blasphemy laws are no longer the prerogative of religious bigots or fundamentalists. It is now being used in every section of society, particularly members of the teaching staff who are eager to contribute in pushing the country towards a religious intolerant state. Indeed, the enthusiasm of the educational staff in this instance was so high that they accused a student of a minority community of blasphemy without following the basic concepts of the ethics of imparting education.
These ethics are being violated when the secrecy of examination papers are dishonoured. When an examiner asks a question of a student if he or she is not satisfied with the student’s answer the examiner has the right to fail that student. However, the examiner does not have the right to disclose the student’s answer which is the personal opinion held by that student. The attitude of the teaching staff now is to gain points from the religious leaders by pointing out those students who they believe to have made blasphemous comments mistakenly or otherwise.

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Obama: A disaster for civil liberties

September 30, 2011

He may prove the most disastrous president in our history in terms of civil liberties.

President Obama failed to close Guantanamo Bay, continued warrantless surveillance and military tribunals and asserted the right to kill U.S. citizens he views as terrorists. Photographed: The president speaks at the Libya Contact Group Meeting Sept. 20. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP Photo)President Obama failed to close Guantanamo Bay, continued warrantless surveillance and military tribunals and asserted the right to kill U.S. citizens he views as terrorists. Photographed: The president speaks at the Libya Contact Group Meeting Sept. 20. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP Photo)
By Jonathan Turley, Los Angeles Times, Sept. 29,2011

With the 2012 presidential election before us, the country is again caught up in debating national security issues, our ongoing wars and the threat of terrorism. There is one related subject, however, that is rarely mentioned: civil liberties.

Protecting individual rights and liberties — apart from the right to be tax-free — seems barely relevant to candidates or voters. One man is primarily responsible for the disappearance of civil liberties from the national debate, and he is Barack Obama. While many are reluctant to admit it, Obama has proved a disaster not just for specific civil liberties but the civil liberties cause in the United States.

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World Report 2011: Human rights violations in Ukraine

September 29, 2011

Human Rights Watch, 2011

The February 2010 presidential election ended the political turmoil that has characterized Ukraine in recent years. Viktor Yanukovich won the election over incumbent Viktor Yushschenko in a contest that international observers declared generally in accordance with international standards. Upon taking office President Yanukovich initiated far-reaching reforms, drawing criticism for pushing through changes without respecting democratic procedures or engaging the opposition.

Ukraine’s relationship with Russia improved significantly in 2010. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, who had clashed frequently with Yushschenko, voiced hope that the “black page” in relations between Russia and Ukraine following the Orange Revolution of 2005 would be turned. Yanukovich, widely-seen as pro-Russian, visited Moscow in March and agreed to extend the lease on Russia’s Black Sea fleet in the Crimea for another 25 years. Medvedev reciprocated by discounting gas prices to Ukraine.

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Palestinians extremely dissatisfied with ‘Israeli diplomat’ Tony Blair (text in Norwegian)

September 29, 2011

Midtøstenutsendingen kan presses ut av jobben fordi han anses som altfor pro-israelsk.

AV KRISTOFFER RØNNEBERG , Aftenposten, 29. september, 2011

Les også:

Den tidligere britiske statsministeren har vært utsending for den såkalte “Kvartetten”; Storbritannia, USA, Russland og EU – siden 2007. Helt siden starten har elementer i den palestinske ledelsen vært skeptisk til at Blair fordi de har ansett ham som ubalansert i sitt syn på konflikten mellom Israel og de palestinske områdene.

Nå har begeret rent over, sier flere palestinske ledere til den britiske avisen The Daily Telegraph.

– Vi har vært svært misfornøyde med ham helt siden han ble utsending, men spesielt de siste ukene, sier en kilde i den palestinske ledelsen til den britiske avisen.

Årskaen til at misnøyen har økt de siste ukene, skal være at Blair har jobbet hardt for å få europeiske land til å stemme imot forslaget om å gi Palestina anerkjennelse i FN som en egen, selvstendig stat.

Enstemmig avgjørelse

Denne uken skal ledelsen, trolig med palestinernes president Mahmoud Abbas i spissen, samles for å drøfte hva de skal gjøre med Blair. Ifølge The Telegraph ligger det et forslag på bordet som går ut på å fryse den tidligere statsministeren ute – å gjøre ham til en “persona non grata”.

Det vil i så fall gjøre det svært vanskelig for Blair å fortsette som Kvartettens midtøstenutsending.

Kilder i den palestinske ledelsen forteller den britiske avisen at avgjørelsen trolig vil bli tatt, og at den vil være enstemmig.

Det er ikke bare anonyme palestinske tjenestemenn som nå angriper Tony Blair. I forrige uke, da president Abbas sa frem forslaget om FN-anerkjennelse i New York etter å ha vært utsatt for massivt press fra USA til ikke å gjøre det, anklaget flere palestinere Blair for å løpe USAs og Israels ærend.

– Han høres til tider ut som en israelsk diplomat, sa Nabil Shaath, en høytstående palestinsk forhandler.

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Mullen Purposely Exaggerated Pakistan Ties to Haqqani

September 29, 2011

Admiral Mike Mullen’s allegations of Pakistani-Haqqani collusion may have been knowingly inaccurate

by John Glaser, Antiwar.com,  September 28, 2011

Admiral Mike Mullen’s speech to lawmakers last week accusing Pakistan’s intelligence service of colluding with the Haqqani insurgent group was inaccurate and overstated, according to anonymous officials speaking with the Washington Post.

A senior Pentagon official with access to intelligence files on Pakistan said Mullen’s language “overstates the case,” because there is little evidence of direct control or cooperation with the Haqqanis. Mullen suggested otherwise and cited the recent 20-hour attack on the US Embassy in Kabul as a case in point.

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Fiascos of American Foreign Policy

September 29, 2011

Is it not time to enquire whether U.S. policy has not created more terrorists than the CIA has managed to kill? Asks Patrick Seale.

Middle East Online, Sept.28, 2011

U.S. President Barack Obama is piling up foreign policy disasters. In at least three areas, crucial for world peace and American interests — Arab-Israel, Afghanistan-Pakistan and Yemen-Somalia — he is pursuing a course which can only be described as foolhardy. The anger and hate towards the United States which he is generating could take a generation to dispel.

His abject surrender to Israel on the Palestine question has shocked a large part of the world and gravely damaged America’s standing among Arabs and Muslims. To court the Jewish vote at next year’s presidential election, he has thrown into reverse the policy of outreach to the Muslim world which he expressed so eloquently in his 2009 Cairo speech. If he is now driven to use America’s veto at the Security Council to block the application of a Palestinian state for UN membership, he will have been defeated by the very forces of racism, Islamophobia, neocon belligerence and Greater Israel expansionism he once hoped to tame.

Obama’s policy in Afghanistan is equally perverse. On the one hand he seems to want to draw the Taliban into negotiations, but on the other some of his army chiefs and senior diplomats want to kill the Taliban first. This is hardly a policy likely to bring the insurgents to the table. In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Ryan Crocker, America’s new ambassador to Kabul, actually said that the conflict should continue until more of the Taliban are killed. Who, one wonders, is in charge of U.S. policy?

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