Democracy now | 28/02/2011
Here is a transcript from democracynow.org website whose correspondent, Anjali Kamat has spent in liberated zones in the Eastern Libya for five days and returned to Egypt to report for a prestigious non-profit news channel in America. She has personally spoken several Libyans who took part in the uprising against their autocratic ruler Co. Moummar Gaddafi. Amy Goodman is one of presenters of the news channel.
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AMY GOODMAN: As the uprising continues in Libya, more areas have fallen into the hands of pro-democracy protesters, but Colonel Muammar Gaddafi retains control of the capital Tripoli. On Sunday, protesters had taken control of Zawiyah, a city 30 miles from Tripoli, but pro-Gaddafi forces are surrounding the area.
On Saturday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously imposed sanctions in the form of travel bans and asset freezes on Gaddafi and his family. The U.N. resolution also called for referring Gaddafi to the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity.
In a telephone conversation with the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, President Barack Obama said Gaddafi should leave.
AMBASSADOR SUSAN RICE: Resolution 1970 is a strong resolution. It includes a travel ban and an assets freeze for key Libyan leaders. It imposes a complete arms embargo on Libya. It takes new steps against the use of mercenaries by the Libyan government to attack its own people. And for the first time ever, the Security Council has unanimously referred an egregious human rights situation to the International Criminal Court. As President Obama said today, when a leader’s only means of staying in power is to use mass of violence against his own people, he has lost the legitimacy to rule and needs to do what is right for his country by leaving now.
AMY GOODMAN: That was Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. In an interview with Serbian television Sunday, a defiant Gaddafi repeated his message that he will stay in Libya. Speaking via telephone from his Tripoli office, he again blamed foreigners and al-Qaeda for the uprising that’s threatening his 41-year rule. He also condemned the United Nations Security Council for imposing sanctions on him and launching a war crimes inquiry.
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 violent 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.
Article first published as The West Condemns Sentencing of Russian Business Tycoon on Blogcritics.
The US, UK and Germany have come out criticizing strongly the Russian court’s judgement sentencing oil tycoon Khodorkovsky second time. Khodorkovsky and his business partner Platon Lebedev have already been sentenced in 2005 for allegedly fraud and tax evasion. They were arrested in 2003. The duo is now again handed a sentence of life imprisonment until 2017 as they were found guilty of embezzlement and money laundering.
Once seen as a threat to former President Vladimir Putin, he was found guilty along with Lebedev of stealing billions of dollars from their own oil firm, Yukos, and laundering the proceeds. Their lawyers said they would appeal but if the sentence remains, Khodorkovsky will not be released until well after the next presidential election.
West alleges that Putin government has pressured the justice system to sentence him further, as he would become a potential competitor against Putin. The defence lawyers contend that the allegations are meaningless as the oil alleged to be embezzled would be almost equal to the total production of Yukos during the period in question. They accused the sentence amounted to lawlessness. Supporters of Khodorkovsky held rallies outside the court.
Japan revealed its intentions to make substantial changes to its defence policies on the pretext of China’s increasing military might and North Korea’s nuclear weapons. Japan has maritime border with China. Japan’s new national defence policy has acquired importance in the wake of recent rise of tensions between China and Japan when a Chinese trawler hit a Japanese petrol boars near disputed chain coral islands on which both countries have ownership claims.
China has been strengthening its military utilising its trade surplus and foreign currency reserves due to which its neighbours such as India with which it has border disputes, Japan with which it has disputes on ownership over coral islands in South China Sea, and Taiwan on which it has ownership claim have rising concerns. The US is also worried with China’s military build-up as it feels China is threatening the US’ interests in South Asia and East Asia regions. The secretary of state for the US Ms Hillary Clinton expressed openly her concerns that China was ascertaining its domination in the region.
Recently, the US conducted military drill with South Korea in Yellow Sea after North Korea fired artillery shells on a disputed South Korea’s island near maritime border. Though, the US said the military drills were part of regular exercises, its main aim was to issue veiled warning to Chinese military, which has been ascertaining its position in the region. The US accused China for not reigning in North Korea’s behaviour during recent tensions in Korean peninsula. It has 50,000 troops stationed in a Japanese island Okinawa and 28,500 troops in South Korea.
Article first published as Global Leadership at the Cost of Sweat and Blood on Blogcritics.
In a rare confession, the US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton expressed fear that the US is on the brink of losing global leadership. She sees the US’ national debt posing enormous threat to the national security of the US as a result of losing global leadership. The US’ two unpaid wars and tax cuts have to properly be dealt with Ms. Clinton opined. “…it is fair to say that we fought two wars without paying for them, and we had tax cuts that were not paid for either. And that has been a very deadly combination to fiscal sanity and responsibility," Clinton said in her speech given at Council on Foreign Relations, a research institute on foreign relations based in Washington.
If the US government didn’t have to pay the two aggressive wars that devastated two countries; left many dead, widowed, orphaned; threw a country into sectarian violence, chaos and leaderless (people shouldn’t have their own leaders with back-bone for their countries but leaders that agree to serve the interests of the American bosses of MNCs, TNCs, cartels, syndicates and so on) then who could have been forced to pay and who is going to pay? Aren’t Clinton’s concerns for debt and deficit of the US, directed at calling those helped create financial chaos at home, for paying at least now to stop the US from losing global leadership? It seems answer is ‘no’. If the US wants to recover itself from quagmire of financial crises (not only of 2007, but a series of crises that occurred during post-cold-war period) developed at home, none has any problem. It can employ its own people; produce goods, trade and sell them; earn what it deserves. But how is it justified when it wages wars of aggression so as to bring its debt ridden economy back on track?
Two Big Stimuli
In her comments Ms. Clinton forgot that apart from two unpaid aggressive wars and sops of tax cuts, two enormous and magnanimous stimulus packages were paid to those who brought the world financial system down to the earth along with millions of families’ health and wealth. They have also contributed to the huge debt that she was talking about. She
BBC News | Wednesday, 9 June 2010 | 16:34 GMT
The UN Security Council has voted in favour of fresh sanctions against Iran over its nuclear programme. The council voted 12 to two, with one abstention, in favour of a fourth round of sanctions, including tighter finance curbs and an expanded arms embargo. The US welcomed the move and said Iran must choose a "wiser course". But Iran’s envoy to the UN’s nuclear watchdog Ali Asghar Soltanieh vowed Tehran would continue its uranium enrichment activities. "Nothing will change," he said. The US and its allies fear Iran is secretly trying to build a nuclear bomb, but Tehran insists its programme is aimed solely at peaceful energy use.
The Security Council resolution was opposed by Turkey and Brazil. They had earlier brokered a deal with Iran on uranium enrichment. Lebanon abstained. The new sanctions were passed after being watered down during negotiations with Russia and China on Tuesday. There are no crippling economic sanctions and there is no oil embargo. Those passed include prohibiting Iran from buying heavy weapons such as attack helicopters and missiles. They also toughen rules on financial transactions with Iranian banks and increase the number of Iranian individuals and companies that are targeted with asset freezes and travel bans. There is also a new framework of cargo inspections to detect and stop Iran’s acquisition of illicit materials.
Hailing the vote, the US ambassador to the UN Susan Rice said: "The Security Council has risen to its responsibilities and now Iran should choose a wiser course." UK Foreign Secretary William Hague said the decision sent a "strong statement of international resolve", increasing the pressure on Iran to meet its obligations. German counterpart Guido Westerwelle said this was "a clear signal from the international community that atomic weapons for Iran are not acceptable". However, both Turkey and Brazil spoke out in opposition, saying the deal they had brokered with Iran had not been given time.
NYT | December 2, 2009
President Obama announced Tuesday that he would speed 30,000 additional troops to Afghanistan in coming months, but he vowed to start bringing American forces home in the middle of 2011, saying the United States could not afford and should not have to shoulder an open-ended commitment. Promising that he could “bring this war to a successful conclusion,” Mr. Obama set out a strategy that would seek to reverse Taliban gains in large parts of Afghanistan, better protect the Afghan people, increase the pressure on Afghanistan to build its own military capacity and a more effective government and step up attacks on Al Qaeda in Pakistan.
“America, we are passing through a time of great trial,” Mr. Obama said. “And the message that we send in the midst of these storms must be clear: that our cause is just, our resolve unwavering.” The military escalation Mr. Obama described and defended in his speech to a national television audience and 4,000 cadets at the United States Military Academy here, the culmination of a review that lasted three months, could well prove to be the most consequential decision of Mr. Obama’s presidency. In his 33-minute address, he sought to convince an increasingly skeptical nation that the resurgence of the Taliban in Afghanistan and the continued existence of Al Qaeda across the border in Pakistan — what he called a “cancer” on the region — were direct threats to the United States, and that he could achieve the seemingly contradictory goals of expanding American involvement in the war even as he sought to bring it to a close. Continue reading
ABC News | RACHEL MARTIN | Nov. 15, 2009
Uptick in Violence Takes Its Toll on the Troops; Same Group of Soldiers on Repeat Tours
As President Obama weighs his decision about U.S. strategy in Afghanistan, another factor has come into play, the declining morale of U.S. troops there. It has been eight years since the first U.S. combat troops put boots on the ground in Afghanistan and many of them have since been deployed three, four or even five times. The strain is taking its toll. According to a recent report by the U.S. Army, soldiers’ perception of their units’ morale has dramatically decreased over the past two years. In 2007, the percentage of soldiers who said their units’ morale was high was 10.2 percent. In 2009, only 5.7 percent reported high morale.
Barbara Van Dahlen is a psychologist and founder of Give an Hour, an organization that provides free mental health services to service members and their families. “We are seeing the wear and tear on this military population, absolutely,” Van Dahlan says. “They’re tired. That’s what people kind of say over and over again,” she says. “You meet with families, you talk with people on base, they’re tired. They’re still doing their job. They’re still dedicated to the mission, but they’re tired.” The war in Afghanistan now rivals the Revolutionary War and Vietnam as the longest American war in history, but military experts say the war in Afghanistan is different in one key way. Unlike the other long wars, this Continue reading
November 21, 2009 | 6:01 AM | abc news
President Obama hailed his recently concluded Asia trip a success, saying the trip helped to facilitate “a new era of American engagement.” In his weekly address, taped earlier this week while in Seoul, South Korea, the president said that a major focus of the trip was to support and encourage economic recovery in the United States. “As we emerge from the worst recession in generations, there is nothing more important than to do everything we can to get our economy moving again and put Americans back to work, and I will go anywhere to pursue that goal,” President Obama said. In facilitating the economic recovery, the president said that international trade is an important component. “We … need to place a greater emphasis on exports that we can build, produce and sell to other nations – exports that can help create new jobs at home and raise living standards throughout the world,” the president said. Furthermore, the president said that by increasing our exports to Asia by 5 percent, the U.S. could create hundreds of thousands of jobs. Looking forward, President Obama pointed to a forum on job creation with U.S. business leaders on Dec. 3 as a continuation of his commitment to focus on job creation. The president said that while progress has been made, there is more that remains to be done. “I will not let up until businesses start hiring again, unemployed Americans start working again and we rebuild this economy stronger and more prosperous than it was before,” President Obama said. Continue reading
NYT | WILLIAM J. BROAD | November 20, 2009
In a new report, a secretive federal panel has concluded that programs to extend the life of the nation’s aging nuclear arms are sufficient to guarantee their destructiveness for decades to come, obviating a need for a costly new generation of more reliable warheads. The finding, by the Jason panel, an independent group of scientists that advises the federal government on issues of science and technology, bears on the growing debate over whether the United States should ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty or, instead, prepare for the design of new nuclear arms. Senator Jon Kyl of Arizona and other Republicans have argued that concerns are growing over the reliability of the United States’ aging nuclear stockpile and that the possible need for new designs means that the nation should retain the right to conduct underground tests of new nuclear weapons. The testing issue is expected to flare in the months ahead when the Obama administration submits the test ban treaty for ratification by the Senate, where it faces a tough fight. The White House is building a case that advanced technologies make any additions to the nuclear arsenal unnecessary and would also allow the United States to verify that other countries are refraining from underground testing. Continue reading
Reuters | Thu, Nov 19 | 05:27 AM
Afghan President Hamid Karzai is to be sworn into office for a second full term on Thursday as he struggles to rebuild a tarnished reputation and convince the West he is still a credible partner after eight years of war. His inauguration comes against the backdrop of a rising Taliban insurgency, doubts over Karzai’s legitimacy after an election tainted by fraud and complaints his government is riddled with corruption. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in her first visit to Afghanistan as the top U.S. diplomat, and her British, French and Turkish counterparts are among 300 foreign dignitaries to attend the ceremony at the presidential palace in Kabul. “There is now a clear window of opportunity for President Karzai and his government to make a new compact with the people of Afghanistan, to demonstrate clearly that you’re going to have accountability and tangible results that will improve the lives of the people,” Clinton said in the Afghan capital on Wednesday.
U.S. President Barack Obama will announce soon whether he will send up to 40,000 more troops to fight an increasingly unpopular war. He said on Wednesday he aims to bring the conflict to an end before he leaves office. “My preference would be not to hand off anything to the next president. One of the things I’d like is the next president to be able to come in and say ‘I’ve got a clean slate’,” he told CNN. General Stanley McChrystal, the top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan, wants tens of thousands of additional troops, warning that without them, the war will probably be lost. Continue reading
Reuters | Yahoo | Thu, Nov 19 | 03:18 PM
U.S. President Barack Obama issued a strong warning to Iran on Thursday of consequences of its failure to respond to the offer of a nuclear deal and could have a package of steps to take “within weeks.” But Iran’s foreign minister rejected talk of further sanctions, saying the West had learnt from “failed experiences” of the past. Iran on Wednesday rejected a deal to send enriched uranium abroad for further processing, defying Washington and its allies which had called on Tehran to accept a deal which aimed to delay Iran’s potential ability to make bombs by at least a year by divesting the country of most of its enriched uranium. The U.N. nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), had said Iran should send some 75 percent of its low-enriched uranium to Russia and France, where it would be turned into fuel for a Tehran medical research reactor.
“Iran has taken weeks now and has not shown its willingness to say yes to this proposal … and so as a consequence we have begun discussions with our international partners about the importance of having consequences,” Obama said at a joint news conference with South Korean President Lee Myung-bak during a visit to Seoul. He said Iran would not be given an unlimited amount of time, likening the Iranian nuclear issue to the years of stop-and-start negotiations with North Korea about its nuclear ambitions. “We weren’t going to duplicate what has happened with North Korea, in which talks just continue forever without any actual resolution to the issue,” said Obama, who has advocated a policy of increased engagement, rather than confrontation, on thorny international issues. Continue reading
Joes Mercury News | Malalai Joya | November 11, 2009 "SJMN"
As an Afghan woman who was elected to Parliament, I am in the United States to ask President Barack Obama to immediately end the occupation of my country. Eight years ago, women’s rights were used as one of the excuses to start this war. But today, Afghanistan is still facing a women’s rights catastrophe. Life for most Afghan women resembles a type of hell that is never reflected in the Western mainstream media. In 2001, the U.S. helped return to power the worst misogynist criminals, such as the Northern Alliance warlords and druglords. These men ought to be considered a photocopy of the Taliban. The only difference is that the Northern Alliance warlords wear suits and ties and cover their faces with the mask of democracy while they occupy government positions. But they are responsible for much of the disaster today in Afghanistan, thanks to the U.S. support they enjoy.
The U.S. and its allies are getting ready to offer power to the medieval Taliban by creating an imaginary category called the “moderate Taliban” and inviting them to join the government. A man, who was near the top of the list of most-wanted terrorists eight years ago, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, has been invited to join the government. Over the past eight years, the U.S. has helped turn my country into the drug capital of the world through its support of drug lords. Today, 93 percent of all opium in the world is produced in Afghanistan. Many members of Parliament and high ranking officials openly benefit from the drug trade. President Karzai’s own brother is a well known drug trafficker. Continue reading
BBC NEWS | 2009/11/10 | 18:15:40 GMT
The White House has warned Pyongyang against any escalation of hostilities after a North Korean vessel clashed with a warship from the South. The navy crews exchanged fire near a disputed maritime border between the two countries; each side accused the other of violating the sea boundary. The two navies have engaged in deadly exchanges twice along their western sea border in the past decade. The row comes days before US President Barack Obama is to visit Asia. North Korea is expected to be high on the agenda for Mr. Obama, who has decided to send a special envoy to Pyongyang for rare direct talks on the communist state’s nuclear weapons programme, according to US officials.
‘Grave armed provocation’
White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said on Tuesday: “I would say to the North Koreans that we hope that there will be no further actions in the Yellow Sea that could be seen as an escalation.” UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon had urged the North and South to resolve any disputes they have through dialogue, a UN spokesman said. In the North’s version of events, a patrol boat was on a mission to confirm “an unidentified object” on the North’s side of the border, and while it was sailing back, South Korean ships chased it and opened fire in a “grave armed provocation”. The North Korean vessel “lost no time to deal a prompt retaliatory blow at the provokers”, the North’s official news agency KCNA said. “Much flurried by this, the group of warships of the South Korean forces hastily took to flight to the waters of their side.” South Korean officials said none of their troops had been hurt, while the North’s boat had been set ablaze before it sailed away. “We are sternly protesting to North Korea and urging it to prevent the recurrence of similar incidents,” South Korean Rear Adm Lee Ki-sik told reporters in Seoul. Both sides demanded an apology. Continue reading
BBC NEWS | 2009/11/09 | 17:06:06 GMT
Three young Americans detained in Iran over alleged illegal entry are to be charged with espionage, Iranian state news agency Irna says. Shane Bauer, Sarah Shourd and Joshua Fatal have been held by Iranian authorities since the end of July. The trio is thought to have crossed a poorly marked border by mistake while hiking in Iraq’s Kurdish region. Speaking in Berlin, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton condemned the news and appealed for their release. “We believe strongly that there is no evidence to support any charge whatsoever,” Mrs. Clinton said. She urged Tehran to free the group, calling on the authorities to “exercise compassion”.
‘Charges of spying’
The three Americans were seized by Iranian border guards on 31 July near the town of Marivan. Their relatives say they accidentally strayed into Iran while hiking. According to the state news agency, the move to charge them was announced by general prosecutor Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi. “The three Americans arrested near the ‘border of Iran and Iraq’ are facing charges of spying and the inquiry is continuing,” Irna quoted him as saying. The prosecutor said that an opinion on the case would be given “in the not too distant future”. Swiss diplomats were allowed to meet the trio, who are in their 20s and 30s, in late September for the first time since their arrest. The Swiss government represents US interests in Iran, with whom the US has no formal diplomatic relations. Continue reading