Category: USA

Mubarak Wants to Resign But Not Now

Mubarak says he wants to resign from his post as he fed up with ten days continuous protests but he fears that the country will run into chaos. Commenting on the calls resign, he said: "I don’t care what people say about me. Right now I care about my country." Doesn’t Egypt mean Egyptians?

It may be reminded that the protesters lead by ElBaradei and Muslim Brotherhood demanded Mubarak to step down by Friday, February 4. Mubarak told Obama that he did not know about Egypt and he did not know what would happen if he stepped down, Mubarak informed to the press. He did not answer directly to a question whether he felt the US betrayed him, Reuters reported.

With the unprecedented challenge to Mubarak’s autocratic rule descending into violence, Washington has been urging Egypt to begin the transition of power and move towards elections. The US officials are quoted as saying that they were weighing different options for Egypt. The New York Times cited U.S. officials and Arab diplomats as saying Washington was discussing a plan for Mubarak to hand over power to a transitional government headed by Vice President Omar Suleiman with the support of the Egyptian military.

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West Relinquishes Mubarak!

Article first published as West Relinquishes Mubarak! on Blogcritics.

Mubarak, who ruled Egypt for 30 years with full backing from all western countries from the US to the EU, appears losing confidence of his western mentors. The clashes, which erupted on Wednesday evening and Thursday morning, have brought in the US and the European Union in support of the agitating anti-government demonstrators. The western states have condemned the violence forced by the pro-government demonstrators prompting Egyptian Prime Minister to offer apology on behalf of the government. The Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq has apologized for stone pelting and gun shots on peaceful demonstrators pledging to investigate the “fatal error.”

The protests that have been peaceful for Nine days in Cairo and Alexandria, have turned violentMubarak Baradei as thousands of pro-government protesters stepped in throwing stones on anti-government protesters on Wednesday evening. Anti-government protesters have also begun stone pelting and chasing them from the Tahrir Square in a bid to retain the control of the square that has been the main rallying point of the protesters. Meanwhile Muslim Brotherhood and ElBaradei faction denied sitting for talks saying Mubarak’s resignation is the only solution.

The US expressed shock over clashes and the leaders of France, Germany, Britain, Italy and Spain released a joint statement condemning the violence and declaring that the peaceful political transition should immediately be started. Hosni Mubarak could remain in power for 30 years only with the political, economic and military support of the western countries lead by the US.

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New Zealand Threatened Fiji Army Chief against Coup

One of the US diplomatic cables revealed that New Zealand threatened Fiji’s Army Chief Bainimarama and his wife with preventing them visiting their grandchildren living in New Zealand if he staged a coup to dethrone the government of Laisenia Qarase. Stuff.co.nz quoted the cable as saying that Bainimarama and his wife Meli came to New Zealand in November 2006 to attend a granddaughter’s First Holy Communion in Wellington.

His statement prompted then New Zealand Foreign Minister Winston Peters and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to set up urgent meetings with Bainimarama and, later, Qarase to discuss the issue. Unusually, New Zealand’s "talking points" were then put to Bainimarama by the British Defence Attache based in Wellington, Nigel Lloyd, at a lunch. "I gather you are down here on a private visit for your grand-daughter’s first communion – a significant family occasion. I hope you enjoy your visit," the cable says Lloyd was instructed to say.

Lloyd further warned that if Bainimarama did not listen, New Zealand would change its travel advisory to discourage tourism to Fiji. Bainimarama returned to Fiji, staged his coup and has since then expelled at various times three New Zealand diplomats. His grandchildren are reportedly backed in Fiji.

Bank of America stops handling Wikileaks payments

BBC News | 18 December 2010

Bank of America has stopped handling payments for whistle-blowing website Wikileaks, joining several other major financial institutions. It said it acted because "Wikileaks may be engaged in activities that are… inconsistent with ourAssange bailed internal policies for processing payments". In response, Wikileaks urged its supporters to stop doing business with the bank – one of the world’s largest.

MasterCard, PayPal and other companies earlier cut off Wikileaks’ payments. The financial institutions acted after Wikileaks – together with several major media organisations – began publishing thousands of secret US diplomatic cables, causing tension between Washington and some of its allies.

Mr Assange, 39, dismissed the claims as part of a "smear" campaign. He also said he was worried about an attempt to extradite him to the United States, adding that Washington was conducting an "aggressive" and "illegal" investigation into him and the website.

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Julian Assange Granted Bail

Julian Assange, founder of whistle-blower website was granted conditional bail on Thursday, November 16 by a British court. The Australian is fighting extradition to Sweden over sex charges involvingassange two Swedish women. Assange’s supporters put up sureties worth 240,000 pounds.

Gemma Lindfield, representing the Swedish authorities, had told the judge there was "a real risk" Assange would abscond and pointed to his nomadic lifestyle. She said he had "the means and ability" to go into hiding among Wikileaks’ many supporters in this country and abroad.

However, Mr Justice Ouseley pointed out Mr Assange had offered to meet the police in London when he heard the Swedish matter was still live and he said, "That is not the conduct of a person who is seeking to evade justice."

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WikiLeaks cables: US pressured UN climate chief to bar Iranian from job

The US used backstage diplomatic manoeuvres to help block the appointment of a scientist from Iran to a key position on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a leaked diplomatic cable reveals. The US privately lobbied IPCC chair Dr Rajendra Pachauri, as well as the UK, EU, Argentina and Mali representatives, and had put its embassies to work from Brazil to Uzbekistan. It wanted to prevent the election of Dr Mostafa Jafari as one of two co-chairmen of a key working group.

The other co-chair was to be an American scientist, Prof Christopher Field. ThePachauri Rajendra US state department noted that sharing the IPCC position with an Iranian would be "problematic" and "potentially at odds with overall US policy towards Iran". The jobs often involved travel to and extended residencies in each other’s countries, the cable said. The appointment of an Iranian would also "significantly complicate" US funding for the IPCC secretariat for that working group. US diplomats recognised Jafari as "a highly-qualified scientist … but he is also a senior Iranian government employee".

Pachauri today rejected any suggestion he had colluded with the US private approaches, which apparently ended in another candidate, an Argentinian, being appointed to the position to which Jafari had been nominated. A spokesperson for Pachauri said that he, "neither influenced, nor agreed to influence, the election. Not only would such an agreement be outside his mandate as chairman of the IPCC, but it would also be impossible to achieve."

The cable claims: "Prior to arrival in Geneva, the [US delegation] contacted IPCC chairman Dr Rajendra Pachauri (please protect) who agreed to work on this issue to avoid the potential for disruption to one of the organisation’s three core working groups." The phrase "please protect" is used to tell the cable’s recipients not to use a contact’s name publicly.

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WikiLeaks cables: CIA drew up UN spying wish list for diplomats

Guardian.co.uk | 02/12/2010

The US state department’s wish list of information about the United Nations secretary-general, Ban Ki-moon, and other senior members of his organisation was drawn up by the CIA, the Guardian has learned. The disclosure comes as new information emerged about Washington’s intelligence gathering on foreign diplomats, including surveillance of the telephone and internet use of Iranian and Chinese diplomats.

One of the most embarrassing revelations to emerge from US diplomatic cablesWikileaks - CIA obtained by the whistleblowers’ website WikiLeaks has been that US diplomats were asked to gather intelligence on Ban, other senior UN staff, security council members and other foreign diplomats – a possible violation of international law.

US state department spokesperson PJ Crowley, in interviews since the release, has tried to deflect criticism by repeatedly hinting that although the cables were signed by secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, and her predecessor, Condoleezza Rice, they originated with another agency. However, he refused to identify it.

The Guardian has learned that the intelligence-shopping list is drawn up annually by the manager of Humint (human intelligence), a post created by the Bush administration in 2005 in a push to better co-ordinate intelligence after 9/11. Humint is part of the CIA, which deals with overseas spying overseas and is one of at least 12 US intelligence agencies. The manager of Humint sets out priorities for the coming year and sends them to the state department. The actual form of words used in the diplomatic cables is written by the state department but a US official confirmed tonight that the original directives are written by the "intelligence community".

The US has been keen to stress that its diplomats are not acting as spies, a label that could endanger their lives. A senior US intelligence official said: "It shouldn’t surprise anyone that US officials at the United Nations seek information on how other nations view topics of mutual concern. If you look at the list of topics of

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Assange backers in cyber retaliation over arrest

Wikileaks supporters hacked the websites of the Swedish prosecutor and MasterCard in retaliation over arrest of Julian Assange, who published secret US diplomatic cables. The Swedish prosecution authority, whose arrest order for Assange over accusations of sexual offences led a British court to remand the 39-year-old WikiLeaks website founder in custody, said it had reported the online attack to police. MasterCard website also was attacked for blocking donations to the Wikileaks website. A twitter post by AnonOps posted this information.

Assange, who has lived periodically in Sweden, was accused this year of sexual misconduct by two female Swedish WikiLeaks volunteers. The pair’s lawyer said their claims were not a politically motivated plot against Assange. "It has nothing to do with WikiLeaks or the CIA," said lawyer Claes Borgstrom, whose website also came under cyber-attack, according to officials.

"Mr Assange is not himself responsible for the unauthorised release of 250,000 documents from the U.S. diplomatic communications network," Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd told Reuters in an interview. "The Americans are responsible for that," said Rudd, who had been described in one leaked U.S. cable as a "control freak".

Assange has prominent supporters including campaigning Australian journalist John Pilger and British filmmaker Ken Loach as defender of free speech. Some supporters appear to want to help him. While most denial of service attacks involve botnets, programs that hijack computers and use them to target individual websites and bring them down, the current cyber-attacks seem to be different. "In this case… they seem to be using their own computers," he said. Asked what that said about how many individuals might be involved: "Probably hundreds at the least could be thousands," said Mikko Hypponen, chief research officer of Finnish software security firm F-Secure.

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Wal-Mart and Globalisation

Article first published as Wal-Mart and Globalisation on Blogcritics.

It is once again proved that the globalisation is only for MNCs and TNCs but not for workers. The justice systems are increasingly coming forward in defence of interests of the big business houses. The case of gender discrimination in Wal-Mart retail sales firm brought to light that the gender discrimination is not an exception for exploitation and for maximisation of the profits. walmart

The case pertains to the women, who sued Wal-Mart Company for paying women less than men’s pay and for promoting women less frequently. MSNBC news wrote, “the company said the women should not be allowed to join together in the lawsuit because each outlet operates as an independent business. Since it doesn’t have a companywide policy of discrimination, Wal-Mart argued that women alleging gender bias should file individual lawsuits against individual stores.”

Does Wal-Mart mean it has no centralised business administrative body? Does it mean it maintains separate ownerships for each shop? Does it mean decision-making not done at central level but at lowest level? Not at all, Wal-Mart implements uniform rules in all shops around the world. It maintains centralized accounts. It does not give reports of profits, turnover and bonuses for each shop. Yet, it chose to appeal in court claiming, “women should not be allowed to join together in the lawsuit because each outlet operates as an independent business.”

It can exploit gender disparity, prevalent in the present patriarchal societies spread in almost all countries in the world to increase its profits. When it comes to earnings, it is a global firm that pressurises governments across the world to open up retail business sector. However, when it comes to paying to workers and when it comes to facing a lawsuit, it wants to treat the company in pieces. In addition, even the justice system tends to defend business interests rather than workers interests. Isn’t it true that the whole world has become a global village as a result of implementation of globalisation policies?

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Fed aid in financial crisis went beyond U.S. banks to industry, foreign firms

Washington post | Thursday, December 2, 2010 | 12:15 AM

The financial crisis stretched even farther across the economy than many had realized, as new disclosures show the Federal Reserve rushed trillions of dollars in emergency aid not just to Wall Street but also to motorcycle makers, telecom firms and foreign-owned banks in 2008 and 2009.

The Fed’s efforts to prop up the financial sector reached across a broad spectrum of the economy, benefiting stalwarts of American industry including General Electric and Caterpillar and household name companies such as Verizon, Harley-Davidson and Toyota. The central bank’s aid programs also supported U.S. subsidiaries of banks based in East Asia, Europe and Canada while rescuing money-market mutual funds held by millions of Americans.

The biggest users of the Fed lending programs were some of the world’s largest banks, including Citigroup, Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, Swiss-based UBS and Britain’s Barclays, according to more than 21,000 loan records released Wednesday under new financial regulatory legislation. The data reveal banks turning to the Fed for help almost daily in the fall of 2008 as the central bank lowered lending standards and extended relief to all kinds of institutions it had never assisted before.

Fed officials emphasize that their actions were meant to stabilize a financial system that was on the verge of collapse in late 2008. They note that the actions worked to prevent a complete financial meltdown and that none of the special lending programs has lost money. (Some have recorded healthy profits for taxpayers.) But the extent of the lending to major banks – and the generous terms of some of those deals – heighten the political peril for a central bank that is already under the gun for a wide range of actions, including a recent decision to try to stimulate the economy by buying $600 billion in U.S. bonds.

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US Unemployment Rises Again Threatening Recovery

US unemployment rate rose again to seven month high of 9.8 percent, US labour department said on Friday, December 3. Only 39,000 jobs were created in November much less than analysts’ expectations. In addition, this figure is very lower than the figure of 172,000 jobs created inUS unemployment October.

Most of the western stock indices were closed down on the back of US unemployment report. The UK’s FTSE 100, Germany’s DAX and France’s CAC fell back registering negative change. Euro inched up to $1.335. However, the jobs number is the first estimate and optimists are expecting the figure may be revised upwards. Jobs were created in the business services, healthcare and mining sectors, but job numbers in the retail and manufacturing sectors fell.

The labour department of the US said there were 15.1 million unemployed in the US, which is equal to 9.8 percent. This is greater than 9.6 percent figure recorded past three months. Analysts say that many people are giving up seeking new jobs there by disappearing from official unemployed people. There was also rise in long term unemployed labour department revealed.

Rise unemployed means less people coming to shops to buy goods. Less consumer spending contributes to slower GDP growth. Many US citizens ceased to be eligible for claiming unemployment benefits by November as per BBC news.

IAEA Worries over North Korea’s New Uranium Enrichment Facility

Article first published as IAEA Worries Over North Korea’s New Uranium Enrichment Facility on Technorati.

The nuclear watchdog of United Nations, International Atomic Energy Agency expressed concerns over supposed newly developed Uranium enrichment facility in North Korea. The head of the IAEA Yukio Amano said he learned of recent reports about a new Uranium enrichment facility, as well as the construction of a new light water reactor, in North Korea, BBC news reported.

Last month, a US scientist reportedly had been shown a new Uranium enrichment plant with atYongbyon nuclear facility least 1,000 centrifuges. This week, North Korea said the plant was operating with thousands of centrifuges. North Korea expelled IAEA inspectors, last year. The inspectors have not been allowed into North Korea since then. North Korea tested nuclear devices twice in 2006 and 2009. When it said it tested a nuclear missile in 2009, many countries doubted whether North Korea did it as it claimed. They were doubtful of North Korea’s capacity to build a full-fledged nuclear missile.

The American nuclear scientist, Siegfried Hecker, visited the plant at Yongbyon in mid-November and reportedly said he was stunned by the sophistication of the equipment he was shown.

Many international analysts say North Korea’s nuclear programme is mainly aimed at extracting more concessions from six partite talks involving two Koreas, China, Japan, Russia and the US. South Korea and the US have been offering aid to North Korea in return to allowing IAEA inspectors to assess the North Korean capacity to build nuclear arms and finally diffusing them. Earlier this year, North Korea invited a special US envoy to resume talks. Western governments assessed then that North Korea was feeling pain of the international sanctions slapped against it, as a result of expulsion of IAEA inspectors.

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Junior Partner of German Coalition Urges Recalling US Envoy

After Canadian ambassador offering his resignation over the disclosure of his assessment on Afghan president Hamid Karzai and his family by Wikileaks, now it is Germany’s turn. Philip Murphy, US ambassador to Germany was asked to be recalled by the US government over hisMurphy with Obama unseemly behaviour, revealed by Wikileaks.

Philip Murphy reportedly described Free Democratic Party leader Guido Westerwelle as “arrogant, vain and critical of America.” Chancellor Angela Merkel was described as “risk averse and rarely creative” in diplomatic cables sent to the US state department.

An aide to Mr Westerwelle resigned earlier for passing information to the UN envoy. They said that he had admitted supplying details of the negotiations that brought the formation of the centre-right coalition led by Angela’s Christian Democrat Party. Later, the party said the aide, Mr Metzner had only passed publicly accessible information and no legal action would be initiated against him.

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Saudi king urged U.S. to attack Iran – leaked documents

Reuters | Nov 29, 2010 | 5:57pm IST

Saudi King Abdullah has repeatedly urged the United States to attack Iran’s nuclear program and China directed cyber-attacks on the United States, according to a vast cache of U.S. diplomatic cables released on Sunday in an embarrassing leak that undermines U.S. diplomacy. The more than 250,000 documents, given to five media groups by the whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks, provide candid and at times critical views of foreign leaders as well as sensitive information on terrorism and nuclear proliferation filed by U.S. diplomats, according to The New York Times.

The White House condemned the release by WikiLeaks and said the disclosures may endanger U.S. informants abroad. WikiLeaks said its website was under attack and none of the underlying cables was visible there Sunday night, though some were posted by news organizations. Among the revelations in Britain’s Guardian newspaper, which also received an advance look at the documents along with France’s Le Monde, Germany’s Der Spiegel and Spain’s El Pais, King Abdullah is reported to have "frequently exhorted the U.S. to attack Iran to put an end to its nuclear weapons program."

"Cut off the head of the snake," the Saudi ambassador to Washington, Adel al-Jubeir, quotes the king as saying during a meeting with U.S. General David Petraeus in April 2008. The leaked documents, the majority of which are from 2007 or later, also disclose U.S. allegations that China’s Politburo directed an intrusion into Google’s computer systems, part of a broader coordinated campaign of computer sabotage carried out by Chinese government operatives, private security experts and Internet outlaws, the Times reported.

MEDVEDEV "PLAYS ROBIN TO PUTIN’S BATMAN"

As described by German news weekly Der Spiegel, the cables contain tart comments such as a U.S. diplomat’s description of German Chancellor Angela Merkel as someone who "avoids risk and is seldom creative." Another document described by The New York Times cites a U.S. embassy cable raising the possibility that Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi may have had a romantic relationship with his Ukranian nurse, who is described as a "voluptuous blonde."

The newspaper said many of the cables name diplomats’ confidential sources, from foreign lawmakers and military officers to human rights activists and journalists, often with a warning: "Please protect" or "Strictly protect." Comments such a description of Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, Russia’s head of state, as playing "Robin to (Prime Minister Vladimir) Putin’s Batman," are sure to embarrass the Obama administration and to complicate its diplomacy.

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US and Its Allies on High Alert as WikiLeaks Releases another Set of Documents

Article first published as US and Its Allies on High Alert as WikiLeaks Releases another Set of Documents on Blogcritics.

The US is worried over the next release of classified documents by the whistle blower website “Wikileaks.” BBC News reported that the US government briefed several of its allies that the Wikileaks may release diplomatic cables exchanged between their countries. The US authorities are of the view that the revelation may cause potential embarrassment for the diplomatic relations with its allies.

The classified documents that are supposed to be exposed may contain corruption allegationswikileaks against foreign governments and leaders by the US diplomats working in foreign embassies in various countries according to Reuters. Politicians and leaders of the governments are said to be implicated with corruption charges in reports sent to the US government by its foreign diplomats.

Reports say the UK, Israel, Turkey, Denmark and Norway are among those countries that may be named in the documents. These countries are warned in advance by the US government to expect the worst regarding the diplomatic relations between them. Other sources say the US relations with India may also be damaged after the Wikileaks’ new release.

The whistle blower website “Wikileaks” released 400,000 documents pertaining to the US war in Afghanistan and Iraq. The contents of those documents did not cause much furore, as they have already been exposed in some way or other. The released documents just confirmed the already rumoured issues such as killing of more than 15,000 civilians by the US marines in Afghanistan and Iraq. The website released a video earlier this year that showed the US soldiers killing two journalists working for Reuters news agency in Iraq, mistaking the cameras carried by the photographers as weapons

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