Monday, October 31, 2011

Indonesia: Independent Investigation Needed Into Papua Violence

Ensure Proper Treatment of Detainees

Human Rights Watch, October 28, 2011
  • Police arrest attendees of the Third Papuan People Congress in Jayapura, Indonesia’s Papua province on October 19, 2011.
    © 2011 Reuters
  • Armed security forces atop one of several armored personnel carriers surrounding Zaccheus field in Abepura on the morning of October 19, 2011.
    © 2011 Oktovianus Pogau/Pantau Foundation
Papuans peacefully calling for independence does not justify a deadly crackdown. President Yudhoyono has an opportunity to show Papuans that he’s concerned about their rights by seriously investigating these deaths.
Elaine Pearson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch
(New York) – Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono should immediately establish an independent investigation into the deaths of at least three protesters and the ongoing violence in Papua, Human Rights Watch said today.

On October 19, 2011, Indonesian police and the army fired warning shots to disperse approximately 1,000 Papuans gathered for a peaceful pro-independence demonstration in the Papua provincial capital, Jayapura, after one of the leaders read out the 1961 Papua Declaration of Independence. In an ensuing crackdown by the security forces on the demonstrators, at least three people were killed and dozens were injured. Witnesses said several had gunshot wounds.

Continues >>

Massive Rally in Lahore: Imran Khan Leads Calls for Pakistan to End US Alliance

by Jason Ditz,, October 30, 2011
A popular but largely powerless politician for years, former cricket star and Tehreek-e Insaf leader Imran Khan has parlayed his long-standing opposition to US drone strikes into a massive rally today on the streets of Lahore, where some 100,000 demonstrators marched to condemn the current US alliance and the Zardari government.

“Our leaders owned this war on terror for the sake of dollars,” Khan declared, “let me curse you. You sold out the blood of innocent people.” The ruling Pakistani Peoples Party (PPP) condemned Khan, saying it made “no sense” to call for public protests and civil disobedience when the country’s “democratic institutions are functioning independently.”

Continues >>

Wikileaks & Free Speech

By Gideon Polya, MWC News,  Oct 29, 2011
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Untruth must be repudiated, not punished

Freedom of expression, freedom of speech is vital for democracy, for unimpaired scholarly research and for rational risk management that keeps society safe. But what about hate speech, racial vilification or speech likely to cause dangerous public disorder? The need for democracy, scholarship and risk management means that freedom of speech must be sacrosanct but there is a place for a formal, transparent, expertly-informed judicial process that would make findings on free speech excesses but the only punishment of, for example, holocaust or genocide deniers would simply be the shame and ignominy of public exposure by such a process.

Abuses of freedom of speech can involve lying by commission and lying by omission. A good example involving lying by commission is given by the story of the shepherd boy who repeatedly cried wolf when there was no wolf but when a wolf did come nobody listened to his cries with dire consequences for the boy. This fable is acutely relevant to today. Thus the US Center for Public Integrity has reported that in 2 years after the 9-11 atrocity the Bush Administration told a total of 935 lies about Iraq. Failure of the System to expose Bush Administration lying led to the Iraq War and the utter devastation of that country.

Continues >>

Richard Falk: Libya After Muammar el-Qaddafi’s Execution

by Richard Falk, Foreign Policy Journal, October 31, 2011

The death of the despised despot who ruled Libya for forty-two years naturally produced celebrations throughout the country. Muammar el-Qaddafi’s end was bloody and vindictive, but we should remember that his rants against his own people—and his violent repression of what was initially a peaceful uprising—invited a harsh popular response. Recalling W.H. Auden’s famous line, “Those to whom evil is done/do evil in return,” it is almost inevitable in the absence of strong moral and political discipline, which was not present, that when a leader refers to his opponents as “rats” and pledges to hunt them down house by house, the stage is set for the unacceptable kind of retribution that played out recently in Sirte where NATO air strikes leveled the city and anti-Qaddafi forces executed at least 53 Qaddafi loyalists. It is an ominous warning sign for the future that this massacre at Sirte, along with the execution and burial of Qaddafi, should have exhibited such vengeful and undisciplined behavior, raising renewed doubts about the character and approach of Transitional National Council leadership, although there still exist possibilities for redeeming this loss of confidence.

Continues >>

Sunday, October 30, 2011

US sows discord in South Asia

By M K Bhadrakumar, Asia Times, Oct 28, 2011

Two templates in regional politics are seriously debilitating the United States’s campaign to bring Pakistan down on its knees in the Afghan endgame. One is that Delhi has distanced itself from the US campaign and pursues an independent policy toward Islamabad.

The second factor frustrating US policies to isolate Pakistan is the South Asian nation’s bonhomie with Iran. Pakistan would have been pretty much isolated had there been an acute rivalry with Iran over the Afghan endgame. The current level of cordiality in the relationship enables Islamabad to focus on the rift with the US and even draw encouragement from Tehran.

It’s baloney
A recent statement by the Indian External Affairs Minister S M Krishna on the US-Pakistan rift underscored that India doesn’t see eye-to-eye with the US approach. (See US puts the squeeze on Pakistan, Asia Times, October 22). It was carefully timed to signal to Washington (and Islamabad) that Delhi strongly disfavored any form of US military action against Pakistan.

Continues >>

US Planning Troop Buildup in Gulf After Exit From Iraq

Sunday 30 October 2011
by: Thom Shanker and Steven Lee Myers, The New York Times News Service | Report
United States soldiers performed a closing ceremony on Oct. 20 for a base in Tikrit, now under the control of Iraqi forces. (Photo: Andrea Bruce / The New York Times)

MacDill Air Force Base, FL – The Obama administration plans to bolster the American military presence in the Persian Gulf after it withdraws the remaining troops from Iraq this year, according to officials and diplomats. That repositioning could include new combat forces in Kuwait able to respond to a collapse of security in Iraq or a military confrontation with Iran.

Continues >>

AI: Saif Gaddafi must be transferred safely to ICC

Amnesty International, Oct 28, 2011
 Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi has reportedly taken refuge among Sahara nomads in NigerSaif Al-Islam Gaddafi has reportedly taken refuge among Sahara nomads in Niger

© AP GraphicsBank
“The NTC has a responsibility to prevent harm coming to Saif al-Islam al-Gaddafi and Abdullah al-Senussi so they can face justice for their alleged crimes ”
Amnesty International’s Marek Marczynski, Oct 28, 2011
Saif al-Islam Gaddafi must be allowed to surrender to the International Criminal Court to face investigation for crimes against humanity, Amnesty International said today amid reports that the fugitive son of Colonel al-Gaddafi is willing to turn himself in.

The ICC prosecutors said today the Court is in indirect contact with Saif al-Islam over his possible surrender. Former Libyan intelligence chief Abdullah al-Senussi, who is also wanted for crimes against humanity by the ICC, is also reportedly prepared to face justice in The Hague.

“If reports are correct that Saif al-Islam Gaddafi and Abdullah al-Senussi are willing to hand themselves over to the International Criminal Court, they must be allowed to do so and their safety and rights must be guaranteed,” said Marek Marczynski from Amnesty International’s International Justice Team.

Continues >>

USA: Police raid Occupy San Diego, make 51 arrests

By our reporters,,  29 October 2011

San Diego police carried out a raid early Friday morning, making 51 arrests and clearing out Occupy San Diego protesters who had been maintaining their encampment for three weeks.

At about 2 a.m. Friday, dozens of police officers and San Diego County sheriff’s deputies surrounded Civic Center Plaza and Children’s Park, closing in on protesters at both locations. Police were armed with batons, billy clubs; a few reportedly had guns of some sort.

The press claims there were no injuries immediately reported, but 51 were arrested and all tents, tables and other belongings of protesters were confiscated. This is but one raid in a wave of brutal police repression that has occurred over the past week.

The first location to be hit by the police raid was Children’s Park, the logistical headquarters of the San Diego occupation. Cheryl, a demonstrator who was present during the raid, stated that police moved quickly and quietly, giving no warning of their presence.

Continues >>

CNN: Ex-Guantanamo guard tells of violence against detainees

By Jenifer Fenton for CNN, October 28, 2011
 Brandon Neely: Guantanamo is
Brandon Neely: Guantanamo is “a significant black eye on the Unites States.”

  • Former U.S. military police officer Brandon Neely was deployed to Guantanamo Bay’s Camp X-Ray detention facitily
  • Neely says he feels ashamed of his treatment of detainees and unease about the facility’s purpose
  • He describes prisoners being subjected to violence by fellow guards
Editor’s note: Nearly three years after President Obama declared the Guantanamo prison for terrorist suspects would be closed, the camp in Cuba remains open. Of the more than 750 inmates that were once held there, fewer than 200 remain now. CNN contributor Jenifer Fenton interviewed some of the former inmates, and one of the guards.

(CNN) — “We were told that they were all guilty … that these were the worst of the worst,” Brandon Neely said about the detainees who were arriving at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

“We were told that these guys, all of them, had either helped plan 9/11 or were caught red handed on the battlefield, weapon in hand, fighting American soldiers … These are the people that would kill you in a heartbeat if you turn your back on them.”

In June 2000, Specialist Neely, now 31, enlisted for five years as a military police officer. He left later that summer for Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri for training and was assigned to Fort Hood, Texas upon graduating. In early January 2002, Neely boarded a plane to Guantanamo Bay, where he would be stationed for the next six months. He had volunteered for the deployment not knowing what it was or where it would take him.

Continues >>

PAKISTAN: Imran Khan condemns NGOs’ ‘criminal silence’ over Pak civilian killings in US drone attacks

By News Desk, Truth Drive, Oct 29, 2011

Islamabad, Oct 29(ANI): Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan has condemned what he called the “criminal silence” of non-government organisations (NGOs) that claim to be champions of human rights, over the killings of civilians in US drone attacks in the country’s tribal areas.

The cricketer-turned-politician made these comments while addressing a protest rally in front of Parliament House in Islamabad.

He said that civilian casualties due to drones were increasing with each passing day, and asked the government to quit if it could not take action in this regard.

Imran categorically rebutted the US opinion that no civilian casualties were taking place as a result of targeted strikes against high profile terrorists in Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), the Dawn reports.

He demanded the implementation of the resolution adopted in recently held All Parties Conference (APC).

Continues >>

Former US chief prosecutor condemns ‘law-free zone’ of Guantánamo

Ten years on from its creation, calls are mounting from legal and human rights experts for closure of the ‘torture’ centre on Cuba
guantanamo anniversary
A shackled detainee is taken from a vehicle for interrogation at Camp Delta, at the Guantanamo base in Cuba in 2006. Photograph: Brennan Linsley/AP
The former chief prosecutor for the US government at Guantánamo Bay has accused the administration he served of operating a “law-free zone” there, on the eve of the 10th anniversary of the order to establish the detention camp on Cuba.

Retired air force colonel Morris Davis resigned in October 2007 in protest against interrogation methods at Guantánamo, and has made his remarks in the lead-up to 13 November, the anniversary of President George W Bush’s executive order setting up military commissions to try terrorist suspects.

Davis said that the methods of interrogation used on Guantánamo detainees – which he described as “torture” – were in breach of the US’s own statutes on torture, and added: “If torture is a crime, it should be prosecuted.”

Continues >>

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Pakistan: Reversing the Lens

By Conn Hallinan, ZNet, Oct 28, 2011
Since the United States invaded Afghanistan in October 2001, Pakistan has lost more than 35,000 people, the vast bulk of them civilians. While the U.S. has had slightly over 1800 soldiers killed in the past 10 years, Pakistan has lost over 5,000 soldiers and police. The number of suicide bombings in Pakistan has gone from one before 2001, to more than 335 since.

“Terrorism,” as Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari says, “is not a statistic for us.”

For most Americans, Pakistan is a two-faced “ally” playing a double game in Central Asia even as it siphons off tens of billions of dollars in aid. For Pakistanis, the spillover from the Afghan war has cost Islamabad approximately of $100 billion. And this in a country with a yearly GDP of around $175 billion and whose resources have been deeply strained by two years of catastrophic flooding.

Continues >>

What Are We Doing in Afghanistan?: Surveying Euro-American Pipeline Interests

By TJ Coles. Axis of Logic Exclusive,
Axis of Logic, Thursday, Oct 27, 2011
Editor’s Note: T.J. Coles’ new essay, What Are We Doing in Afghanistan? is a follow-up to his October 14 article, What Have We Done to Afghanistan? Reviewing a Decade of Anglo-American Occupation.  He reveals the regression of the west from civilization itself in lust for petroleum and power. His highly readable and well-constructed analysis is extremely well-sourced and deserves a careful reading for understanding the underlying forces that threaten the earth and its inhabitants.
- Les Blough, Editor

Afghanistan has always been considered “the centre of great empires” by imperial powers,1 serving as a “buffer” between Persia, Russia, and India (Britain’s greatest colonial prize).2 Lord Curzon, viceroy of India, referred to the countries as “pieces on a chessboard upon which is being played out a game for the domination of the world.”3 A century later, the long-time geostrategist and energy investor, Zbigniew Brzezinski, authored The Grand Chessboard (1997) in which he called Eurasia “the center of world power,” adding that fragmentation will “keep the barbarians from coming together.”4
Collapse of the Soviet Union and Control of the Caspian Sea
“As the Soviet Empire began to crumble, Britain established half a dozen embassies in the newly independent, energy-rich countries.”
The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 left a question mark over the Caspian Sea and its energy reserves, with Iran, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, and Russia claiming sovereignty. Bruce R. Kuniholm explained that “Brzezinski believed that how Russia responds to Ukraine’s closer relationship with Europe and to Azerbaijan’s desires to pipe its oil through Turkey will be the bellwethers for its imperial ambitions.”5 . . .

Continues >>

Rev. Howard Bess: Explaining Wayward Christianity

By the Rev. Howard Bess , Consortium News, October 28, 2011
The core crisis of Christianity is how could a religion based on the teachings of Jesus, who called for peace through love and generosity to the poor – and who disdained the rich – have grown so tolerant of war, greed and inequality. The Rev. Howard Bess traces this conundrum to the Church’s early days.

Paul was Christianity’s first theologian, with his writings making up about half of the entire New Testament. Indeed, though Paul did not become a believer until years after Jesus’s crucifixion, Paul wrote before any of the four gospels describing Jesus’s life and teachings were committed to the written word.

Thus, Paul – more than anyone else – set the standard for what is required to be a Christian. And, in the 10thchapter of his letter to the Romans, he wrote these words: “If you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”

Paul, the Apostle

So, being a Christian was for Paul a matter of head and heart, not actions. By his standard, there is no amount of good deeds that can bring salvation. It is a matter of belief and belief only.

Paul’s standard has been challenged by some Christians over the centuries – and the New Testament’s Book of James stresses the value of good works – but never has Paul’s “head and heart” standard been dislodged as a central tenet of Christianity.

Continues >>

Friday, October 28, 2011

ISRAEL: TWENTY YEARS AND COUNTING? – An Analysis by Dr. Lawrence Davidson

by Dr. Lawrence Davidson, Intifada,  Oct 25, , 2011
On February 12, 2009 then head of the CIA Leon Panetta (who is now Secretary of Defense) endorsed a secret CIA analysis “predicting the demise of Zionist Israel within 20 years if general political trends in the region continue.”

Image courtesy MWC News

Not too long ago I gave a talk on the Palestinian bid for statehood. In the audience was a Russian-Israeli expatriate who politely took exception to my criticisms of Israeli policies and behavior. His main point was that I could not credibly criticize the Israelis because I had not experienced what they had and did not know what they knew. Or, to put it in a more homey manner, I had not walked in their shoes. “Israelis have been trying to find solutions to the Israeli-Palestinian dilemma for over sixty years, so what gives you the wisdom to criticize them and tell them what they should do?” This is an old and often used objection and, if taken literally, would suggest that outside mediation is never possible.

Continues >>

A Decade of Secret Tyranny

By Bob Bauman,, Oct 28, 2011
Ten years ago today, on Oct. 26, 2001, President George W. Bush signed into law the odious legislation known as the U.S.A. PATRIOT Act, perhaps the single most unconstitutional enactment by the U.S. Congress since the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1789.

A panicked Congress, eager to be seen as “doing something,” overwhelmingly passed the law only weeks after the Sept. 11, 2011 terror attacks in New York and Washington.

In an atmosphere of palpable fear, with haste and secrecy, in the name of the “war on terrorism,” Congress adopted the Act without hearings, giving the U.S. executive branch and its police agencies sweeping powers that undermine both the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

The Act was passed with little debate by senators and congressmen – most of whom did not, and could not, even read the bill. When the vote was taken no final printed copies were available.

 Continues >>

New US Drone Base in Ethiopia is Operational

by John Glaser,, October 27, 2011

The United States has been secretly flying armed Reaper drones on bombing missions from a remote civilian airport in southern Ethi­o­pia as part of a rapidly expanding proxy war against in East Africa. The new base is one of a number of new drone bases the Obama administration has built throughout the region in order to wage war from the skies without having to go to Congress or the American people to ask them to commit to another ground war. The Reapers, equipped with Hellfire missiles and satellite-guided bombs, have been targeting the militant group al Shabaab in Somalia, and may have used the base for the mission that assassinated US-citizen Anwar al Awlaki in Yemen.

US drones kill nearly 50 in 3 countries in a single day

Information Clearing House, Thu Oct 27, 2011

American Predator drone firing two Hellfire missiles (file photo)
Nearly fifty people have been killed in separate US assassination drone strikes in Somalia, Pakistan’s northwestern tribal region bordering Afghanistan and Yemen in a single day.
On Thursday, 13 people were killed and several others were injured when the US military launched an attack using a remote-controlled unmanned aerial vehicle on the outskirts of Bilis Qooqaani town, which is located 448 kilometers (278 miles) southwest of the Somali capital Mogadishu.

The US also launched drone strikes on the outskirts of Afmadow city, situated in the middle of the Juba region and 620 kilometers (385 miles) south of Mogadishu, on Thursday. At least 25 people were killed in the aerial attack.

In addition, six people were killed in a non-UN-sanctioned US drone attack on Pakistan’s South Waziristan tribal region near the border with Afghanistan.

According to Pakistani officials, two unmanned aircraft fired six missiles at a vehicle traveling through Tura Gula village in the Azam Warsak area on Thursday.

Three people were also killed in attacks carried out by unmanned US aircraft in southern Yemen on Thursday.

A Yemeni government official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that the drone strikes targeted Shaqra village in Abyan Province. He added that six people were also injured in the aerial attacks.

The US says its remote-controlled unmanned drones only target militants. However, reports have shown that most of the people killed in the drone strikes are civilians.

Resisting the crackdown in Oakland

Alessandro Tinonga and Scott Sliauzis report from Oakland on the aftermath to a brutal police attack–and the determined stand by Occupy protesters.

Socialst Worker, October 27, 2011

Occupy participants hold a General Assembly in the reclaimed Oscar Grant Plaza (EKA Photography)
Occupy participants hold a General Assembly in the reclaimed Oscar Grant Plaza (EKA Photography)

AS MANY as 2,000 people reclaimed Oscar Grant Plaza in front of Oakland’s City Hall on Wednesday night, 24 hours after the city’s police and a dozen other law enforcement agencies unleashed a savage assault on the Occupy Oakland encampment in which one demonstrator was critically injured and more than 100 were arrested.

The October 25 attack on the Occupy movement–carried out by one of the most liberal Democrats holding office anywhere in the country, and in a city with a long history of radical political activism–outraged people in Oakland and far beyond. City officials are facing calls to resign, and the police had to retreat when Occupy activists returned on Wednesday night.

Continues >>

Franklin Center: Right-Wing Funds State News Source By sudhan by Sara Jerving,, Oct 27, 2011 As newsrooms across the country shave off staff due in part to slipping ad revenue and corporate media conglomeration, The Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity, is rushing to fill the gap. The group has 43 state news websites, with writers in over 40 states. Its reporters have been given state house press credentials and its news articles are starting to appear in mainstream print newspapers in each state. Who funds Franklin and what is its agenda? The websites started sprouting up in 2009. Some of these new sites go by the moniker “Reporter” as with the Franklin Center’s Wisconsin Reporter that was launched in January as a website and wire-like service. Others have taken the shared name of “,” or “Statehouse News.” The websites all offer their content free to local press — many of the news bureaus send out their articles to state editors every day. The sites also offer free national stories that media can receive daily by subscribing. Continues >>

by Sara Jerving,, Oct 27, 2011
As newsrooms across the country shave off staff due in part to slipping ad revenue and corporate media conglomeration, The Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity, is rushing to fill the gap. The group has 43 state news websites, with writers in over 40 states. Its reporters have been given state house press credentials and its news articles are starting to appear in mainstream print newspapers in each state. Who funds Franklin and what is its agenda?

The websites started sprouting up in 2009. Some of these new sites go by the moniker “Reporter” as with the Franklin Center’s Wisconsin Reporter that was launched in January as a website and wire-like service. Others have taken the shared name of “,” or “Statehouse News.” The websites all offer their content free to local press — many of the news bureaus send out their articles to state editors every day. The sites also offer free national stories that media can receive daily by subscribing.

Continues >>

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Foreign companies to fight for Libyan oil

Azerbaijan, Baku, Oct. 24 / Trend, A.Tagiyeva/

Foreign companies will begin fighting for the Libyan oil and gas fields, particularly they will be the companies of countries that were active in the struggle to overthrow Gaddafi’s regime, said a leading economist at the Egyptian Al-Ahram Center for Strategic and Political Studies, Ahmed al-Sayed Al-Naggar.

“Countries such as France, Italy, UK and USA will compete for exploration and development of oil fields,” Al-Naggar told Trend by telephone from Cairo.

According to expert, during the struggle to overthrow Gaddafi’s regime, “NATO intentionally inflicted air strikes on oil fields, as a result of which, the mining infrastructure of the country was practically destroyed. This was done so that Libya would be in need of foreign investments and Western aid in the energy sector after the war”.

“The new government of Libya is unlikely to nationalize Libyan oil, since they do not have sufficient capacity for its production. Libya needs foreign investments to restore the oil industry,” said Al-Naggar.

Continues >>

The “Occupied Territories” A Meme of Power to Describe All the OWS Locales

By Rob Kall,, Oct 25, 2011

I first heard the term, “Occupied Territories” from Vanessa, a press person and occupier living at Occupy Philly.

Occupied territories!!

It struck me as such a more powerful word than the words I had been using to describe the different Occupy Wall Street locales and communities.

Locales or communities exist. They are. But Occupied Territories, well that’s a term with some muscle in it, some fight, some power.

Sadly, it is often used to describe territories controlled by invading armies, like Israel occupying the Palestinian lands. israelis refer to the land as the “Occupied Territories” or “the territories.”

But here, in America, and throughout the world, the Occupy Wall Street movement represents a new kind of occupation– the kind that reared its head in Tunisia and Egypt’s Tahrir Square that led to a bottom up movement of the people waking up and taking back their land, their control of their nation and their lives.

Continues  >>

Afghan War Remains Endless While Obama’s Iraq Plan Fails

by Jack A. Smith, Dissident Voice,  October 25th, 2011

The 10th anniversary of Washington’s invasion, occupation and seemingly endless war in Afghanistan was observed October 7, but despite President Barack Obama’s pledge to terminate the U.S. “combat mission” by the end of 2014, American military involvement will continue many years longer.

The Afghan war is expanding even further, not only with increasing drone attacks in neighboring Pakistani territory but because of U.S. threats to take far greater unilateral military action within Pakistan unless the Islamabad government roots out “extremists” and cracks down harder on cross-border fighters.

Washington’s tone was so threatening that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had to assure the Pakistani press October 21 that the U.S. did not plan a ground offensive against Pakistan. . .

Continues >>

India: Repeal Armed Forces Special Powers Act

Prime Minister Should Overrule Army’s Objections

Human Rights Watch, October 19, 2011
  • Women hold placards during a protest against the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) in New Delhi January 25, 2008. © 2008 Reuters
Related Materials:

India: Investigate Unmarked Graves in Jammu and Kashmir

India at UNSC: Right foot first

(New York) – Prime Minister Manmohan Singh of India should override the objections of the army and keep his 2004 promise to repeal the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), Human Rights Watch said today. The Indian defense establishment has opposed even minor amendments to the law, despite the findings of independent bodies in India and abroad that the law has resulted in numerous serious human rights violations over many years, Human Rights Watch said.

India’s Home Ministry has proposed amendments, but the army insists that it needs the law to operate in what it calls “disturbed areas.” News reports suggest that the army is blocking an effort to present the amendments for a vote during the upcoming winter session of parliament. . .

Continues >>

PAKISTAN: Government sends a judge abroad to appease extremist religious groups

AHRC, October 26, 2011
The unspoken message is also clear: that the judiciary can expect no help from the government for carrying out their sworn duty to uphold the laws of the land.

The government’s policy to appease the militant religious organizations and Jihadis is continued in the clear cut violation of the constitution and the law. Once again the government has revealed its impotency to fight against growing religious intolerance. The government has also exposed its powerlessness to provide security to its own citizens by sending a judge of the Sessions Court to Saudi Arabia with his family. This was the judge who awarded the death sentences in two cases to Mumtaz Qadri, the assassin of the Punjab Governor, Salaman Taseer. The judge has left for Saudi Arabia along with his family after receiving death threats from extremists.

According to a special prosecutor, Mr Saiful Malook, as reported in Daily Dawn, the death threats have forced Judge Pervez Ali Shah to leave the country along with his family. Malook said the government, on the reports of law enforcement agencies, opted to send him abroad. Judge Pervez Ali, as the Judge of Anti-Terrorist Court, handed down the death sentences to Qadri on October 1, 2011 following a trial that took place behind closed doors in the high-security Adiyala prison in Rawalpindi, Punjab province.

Continues >>

At Least 18,000 Civilians Flee Pakistan’s Latest Khyber Offensive

Officials Say Overall Number Could Top 20,000

by Jason Ditz,, October 25, 2011
With Pakistan’s latest offensive in the Khyber Agency leading to violent clashes across several districts, civilians are once again on the move, with large numbers flocking to a refugee camp in the Khyber-Pakhtoonwhah Province.

The spokesman for the provincial “disaster management authority,” which mostly deals with influxes of refugees from the assorted offensives, confirmed that 18,000 people had arrived at the camp seeking aid.

A Khyber government said that the number who had fled the violence was actually quite a bit larger, and was probably above 20,000 including a number of civilians who fled to stay with relatives in the city of Peshawar.

The Khyber Agency is a key part of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas as it is the route through which much of NATO’s traffic travels into neighboring Afghanistan. The offensives, meant to protect those supplies, tend to rile up insurgent factions, however, putting the route in even more peril.

Stepped-up repression against anti-Wall Street protesters

By Barry Grey ,, 25 October 2011
The response of the US government to the spread of anti-Wall Street protests in the US and internationally has been a marked increase in police repression and intimidation. Just last weekend, police attacked protest encampments in Chicago, Philadelphia, Cincinnati, Phoenix, Dallas, Orlando and Tampa, arresting more than 200 people in all.

Similar attacks have taken place internationally, including the tearing down of protest encampments and mass arrests in Sydney and Melbourne.

Since the protests against social inequality and corporate power began more than five weeks ago in New York City, hundreds have been arrested in cities across the US, including more than 900 in New York alone.

In recent days, particularly since the global protests on October 15, police mobilizations to break up occupations have increased. The presence of police at protest sites has also been augmented, and various tactics have been employed to harass youth and workers expressing the anger of masses of people over the destruction of living standards and social conditions.

Continues >>

Afghanistan-India pact doesn’t concern just Pakistanis; Afghans wonder, too

By Shashank Bengali | McClatchy Newspapers, October 25, 2011

KABUL, Afghanistan — At first blush, the wide-ranging “strategic partnership” that Afghanistan signed with India this month would seem only logical: South Asia’s economic heavyweight cementing its longstanding political, cultural and trade ties with the region’s neediest nation.

But this is Afghanistan, and nothing is that simple.

The deal, which included a plan for Indian training of Afghan security forces, immediately angered neighboring Pakistan, India’s blood enemy. But many Afghans also were left concerned, wondering whether Afghan President Hamid Karzai, in agreeing to the accord, wasn’t merely provoking Pakistan — the country with which Afghanistan shares its longest border, the source of some 80 percent of Afghan consumer goods, the main supply line for U.S.-led NATO forces and the linchpin of efforts to negotiate peace with the Taliban and other Afghan insurgents.

Continues >>

Nick Turse: America’s secret empire of drone bases

By Nick Turse, Asia Times, October 26, 2011
They increasingly dot the planet. There’s a facility outside Las Vegas where “pilots” work in climate-controlled trailers, another at a dusty camp in Africa formerly used by the French Foreign Legion, a third at a big air base in Afghanistan where Air Force personnel sit in front of multiple computer screens, and a fourth at an air base in the United Arab Emirates that almost no one talks about.

And that leaves at least 56 more such facilities to mention in an expanding American empire of unmanned drone bases being set up worldwide. Despite frequent news reports on the drone assassination campaign launched in support of America’s ever-widening undeclared wars and a spate of stories on drone bases in Africa and the Middle East, most of these facilities have remained unnoted, uncounted, and remarkably anonymous – until now.

Continues >>

The Risks of Obama’s Immoral Drone War

By Conor Friedersdorf, The Antlantic, October 20,  2011

  Every American bears a share of the blame for the innocents killed and the imprudence of weakening historic restraints on the president

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Every Western democracy has answered the question, “How should the power of the leader be checked?” In the United States, we separated the role of the sovereign into three co-equal branches, incorporated the Bill of Rights into our written Constitution, and scheduled regular elections when the people, having observed the actions of the executive and legislative branches, regularly decide whether to oust them from office or send them back to Washington, D.C.

When we undercut these safeguards, we accept some share of responsibility for the excesses that result. Bear that in mind as you read Jane Mayer’s description of the new way that America kills its foreign enemies, along with an unknowable number of innocents that add up to hundreds at minimum. “The U.S. government runs two drone programs. The military’s version, which is publicly acknowledged, operates in the recognized war zones of Afghanistan and Iraq, and targets enemies of U.S. troops stationed there. . .

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Monday, October 24, 2011

Ukraine must act to deal with endemic police criminality

Amnesty International, 12 October 2011
The Ukrainian authorities must act immediately to deal with endemic police criminality, Amnesty International said today in a new report that reveals widespread torture, extortion, and arbitrary detention.

No evidence of a crime: Paying the price for police impunity in Ukraine, reveals how police are rarely punished for these crimes because of high levels of corruption, non-existent or flawed investigations, harassment and intimidation of complainants, and a low level of prosecutions for such crimes.

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The US and Gaddafi: The murderer calls for an investigation of the crime

Bill Van Auken,, 24 October 2011

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton solemnly announced Sunday that Washington “strongly supports” an independent investigation into the barbaric murder of Libya’s deposed head of state Muammar Gaddafi.

What exactly is it that Ms. Clinton wants investigated that she doesn’t already know?
Gaddafi was captured Thursday while fleeing his hometown of Sirte. Over the previous month Sirte had been under continuous NATO bombardment and a brutal siege by the so-called “rebels” that destroyed the city and claimed untold numbers of civilian dead and wounded.

His convoy, detected by US spy planes, was attacked first by an American Predator drone aircraft, operated by remote control from an airbase in Nevada. An American AWAC surveillance aircraft then called in French fighter jets, which dropped two 500-pound bombs on the vehicles in which Colonel Gaddafi and his entourage were fleeing.

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Richard Falk: Report on Israeli Violations of Human Rights in Occupied Palestine

By Richard Falk, MWC News, October 23, 2011
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ORAL PRESENTATION on 20 October 2011 of Report to the General Assembly by Special Rapporteur on “Situation of human rights in the Palestinian Territories occupied since 1967,” submitted in 13 September 2011

This is an edited and slightly modified version of my oral statement to the Third Committee of the UN General Assembly on 21 October 2011. The main modification is to add a paragraph on the prisoner exchange. I found it disturbing that the single Israel soldier released received virtually all the attention in the Western press whereas the Palestinians released remained nameless except to call attention to the crimes that had led to their imprisonment. It is a rather vivid example of humanizing the suffering of the occupier while treating the far greater ordeal of the occupied population as a statistic. Furthermore, the soldier captured is treated as a hero of war, while the acts of Palestinian resistance are derided as crimes, or worse, as terrorism.

If you have read the complete report, the only new material here are the paragraphs devoted to recent developments.

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