30 May 2009

Press freedom in Bolivia

Thanks once again to Otto at IKN for alerting us to the recent visit by the Inter American Press Association (IAPA) to Bolivia.

We're always reading in the UK or the US or Spain that press freedom is worsening all the time in Latin America, with number one culprit being the Venezuelan 'dictator' Chavez. But of course, the other culprits are always our 'official' enemies, that is, regimes that won't allow our corporations to rape their lands and steal their natural resources.

Just back on 18 March, for example, Roy Greenslade (in his Guardian blog) had this to say:

"Freedom of the press has deteriorated in the Americas...according to the Inter American Press Association (IAPA)...

It accused Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez of "humiliating the press," and said his "incendiary rhetoric" has been adopted by other heads of state in Bolivia, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Honduras, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Brazil and Argentina.

In Cuba, 26 journalists remain in prison, and the IAPA called on its president, Raul Castro, to "relax repression against liberty of expression."

The IAPA made these declarations at the closure of the association's mid-year meeting in Paraguay-their report is still not online at their website, although the 2008 is.

Morales was obviously getting pretty pissed off and on 23 March 2009 invited the IAPA to come to Bolivia to see for themselves.

This they have now done and as Otto's translation shows, the IAPA has now been able to ascertain "that press freedom exists in Bolivia. For all that one hears and sees, nobody here can say that there isn't an opposition press, that there is no criticism of the government. I think it's important to make this clear.""

25 May 2009

Everything you know about Iran is wrong

So says Fareed Zakaria in Newsweek. Its not that long and it could have gone further, but its definitely a sign that the US elites are getting nervous with the ignorant posturing of the intellectual pygmies Netanyahu and Lieberman, and their lunatic threats against Iran.

Some clips:

Everything you know about Iran is wrong, or at least more complicated than you think. Take the bomb. The regime wants to be a nuclear power but could well be happy with a peaceful civilian program (which could make the challenge it poses more complex). What's the evidence? Well, over the last five years, senior Iranian officials at every level have repeatedly asserted that they do not intend to build nuclear weapons. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has quoted the regime's founding father, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, who asserted that such weapons were "un-Islamic." The country's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, issued a fatwa in 2004 describing the use of nuclear weapons as immoral. In a subsequent sermon, he declared that "developing, producing or stockpiling nuclear weapons is forbidden under Islam." Last year Khamenei reiterated all these points after meeting with the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Mohamed ElBaradei. Now, of course, they could all be lying. But it seems odd for a regime that derives its legitimacy from its fidelity to Islam to declare constantly that these weapons are un-Islamic if it intends to develop them. It would be far shrewder to stop reminding people of Khomeini's statements and stop issuing new fatwas against nukes.
Iranians aren't suicidal. In an interview last week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described the Iranian regime as "a messianic, apocalyptic cult." In fact, Iran has tended to behave in a shrewd, calculating manner, advancing its interests when possible, retreating when necessary. The Iranians allied with the United States and against the Taliban in 2001, assisting in the creation of the Karzai government. They worked against the United States in Iraq, where they feared the creation of a pro-U.S. puppet on their border. Earlier this year, during the Gaza war, Israel warned Hizbullah not to launch rockets against it, and there is much evidence that Iran played a role in reining in their proxies. Iran's ruling elite is obsessed with gathering wealth and maintaining power. The argument made by those—including many Israelis for coercive sanctions against Iran is that many in the regime have been squirreling away money into bank accounts in Dubai and Switzerland for their children and grandchildren. These are not actions associated with people who believe that the world is going to end soon.
One of Netanyahu's advisers said of Iran, "Think Amalek." The Bible says that the Amalekites were dedicated enemies of the Jewish people. In 1 Samuel 15, God says, "Go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass." Now, were the president of Iran and his advisers to have cited a religious text that gave divine sanction for the annihilation of an entire race, they would be called, well, messianic.


Also check out the follow up interview on ABC of Adm Mullen here.

While admitting he has no proof, and in spite of evidence to the contrary, Mullen insisted that Iran has a “strategic objective” to create nuclear weapons and that their leadership is committed to it. Stephanopoulus, a former official in the Clinton Administration, pressed Mullen further on Iran’s public position against nuclear weapons, and the Ayatollah Khamenei’s fatwa against the weapons. The admiral dodged the question, saying he didn’t believe Iran really meant it...

"STEPHANOPOULOS: Let me also press the question of their strategic intent. "Newsweek" has a cover story out. Let me show you. It says that everything you think you know about Iran is wrong. And one of the points that Fareed Zakaria makes in "Newsweek" is he points out on several occasions over the last several years, Iran's leaders have said they're not interested in having nuclear weapons. They have said that nuclear weapons are immoral. The Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei actually issued a fatwah saying that these weapons are, indeed, immoral.

And I guess, it's possible they could just be lying. But it does seem odd that a country that the Islamic Republic that bases its legitimacy on being a guardian of Islam that would develop weapons that it considers immoral. That would seem to undercut their own legitimacy.

MULLEN: Well, I think that speaks to the importance of the dialogue that President Obama has stated he wants to initiate and to really wring out, whether that's how the Supreme Leader feels. Certainly from what I've seen, Iran on a path to developing nuclear weapons.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So you don't believe it? That they don't want nuclear weapons.

MULLEN: At this point no."

Watch the video here.

And meanwhile half a country shows itself to be criminally insane: "Half of Israelis back immediate strike on Iran" while AFP shows itself to be criminally negligent by repeating the dicredited canard of: "repeated statements by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for the Jewish state to be "wiped off the map."

No, I Do Not Support "The Troops"

A great essay by Arthur Silber over at Once Upon a Time... Its too long to copy here so go there and read it!

Some quotes:

"the United States' invasion and occupation of Iraq constituted and constitutes today an incomprehensibly monstrous series of war crimes...I have yet to see a convincing argument that these actions by the U.S. do not constitute war crimes. The reason for that is simple and unavoidable: such an argument does not exist -- not, that is, if one actually examines the relevant evidence. Almost all American politicians, and almost all commentators and bloggers, resolutely refuse to consider that evidence, just as they refuse to consider the conclusions it compels. Instead, either by conscious design or (more commonly, at least as far as those not regularly concerned with politics are concerned) by unthinkingly absorbing basic assumptions from the cultural atmosphere, they believe and advance the central tenets of the American myth."

"This piece concerns "the troops" as an institution; that is, it concerns the U.S. military as the indispensable and primary means of implementing and realizing the goals of the U.S. ruling class. The major goal is worldwide dominance, to be achieved by, among other elements, a global empire of bases...

This, too, is a goal embraced by Obama, as noted in a typically bloodthirsty appreciation offered by Media Matters and discussed in the middle section of this recent article.

Please note that this goal of worldwide control has nothing whatsoever to do with self-defense in any meaningful way. It is a policy of offensive aggression, unceasing and with an unending list of possible targets. Thus, the primary purpose for which "the troops" are utilized is not defensive in nature, but offensive, against countries that have never threatened the U.S. and that most often could not threaten the U.S. in any serious manner. A person who joins the military is obliged to understand this, on the general principle that an adult ought to know what he is doing. This is especially true when a person seeks to become an instrumentality of death, either firsthand and directly, or indirectly, by offering support in any one of numerous ways for those who commit the murders."

"two of the deepest self-delusions still maintained by almost every liberal and progressive you will encounter, including almost all bloggers. The first is that anyone was "deceived by false intelligence." This is a deeply dangerous canard, one I have examined repeatedly and in detail. You can start with, "Played for Fools Yet Again," and follow the numerous links. The second is the lie about "ethnic genocide in Kosovo." I note again and again that liberals and progressives still repair to this awful lie about Clinton's disastrous interventions (as Clinton himself did in the first instance); I mentioned it just the other day (again, follow the links to much, much more; you might start with this one for the truth about the "genocide" claim in particular)."

"The historical and contemporary record makes possible only one conclusion: those needless and futile wars are not just "a few" or only "some" of them, and the trail of devastation is not the result of "regrettable misjudgments" for which amends have been made, or are even possible. No, almost every single war ever fought by the United States was entirely unnecessary in terms of any justifiable conception of self-defense; this is unquestionably true of every intervention since World War II. The murders are the result of intended and intentional policy, reached after deliberation and in service to the goals of the ruling class: power, wealth, dominion and control -- and always more power, wealth, dominion and control. To challenge those goals and to begin to alter them, you must challenge every assumption underlying the myths upon which the United States feeds, as it continues to brutalize and kill in vast numbers. One of the key assumptions that you must question and finally reject is the demand for glorification of "the troops."

24 May 2009

FBI ‘lured dimwits’ into terror plot

This whole operation was a foolish waste of time and money,” claimed Terence Kindlon, a defence lawyer who represented the last terror suspect to be tried in New York state. It is almost as if the FBI cooked up the plot and found four idiots to install as defendants"

Just about sums up both this and the previous conviction.

"Kindlon’s complaints were echoed by other legal experts who have repeatedly questioned the FBI’s reliance on undercover informants – known as confidential witnesses (CWs) – who lure gullible radicals into far-fetched plots that are then foiled by the agents monitoring them.

The last such plot purportedly involved an alleged attempt to blow up a fuel pipeline at John F Kennedy airport in New York in 2007; the defendants are awaiting trial in a case that depends heavily on evidence from an undercover CW.

“One question [about the synagogue case] that has to be answered is: did the informant go in and enlist people who were otherwise not considering trouble," said Kevin Luibrand, who represented a Muslim businessman caught up in another FBI sting three years ago.

Did the government induce someone to commit a crime?”

The other question that US security experts were debating was how much had been achieved by assigning more than 100 agents to a year-long investigation of three petty criminals and a mentally ill Haitian immigrant, none of whom had any connection with any known terrorist group. “They were all unsophisticated dimwits,” said Kindlon.

“Did they really need all those men in ninja suits with M16 rifles to arrest four idiots?” wondered Kindlon, a former marine sergeant whose main concern is that real terrorists may be plotting undisturbed while domestic US agencies focus on fantasists. “Somewhere, someone in Al-Qaeda must be laughing.”

Not just Al-Qaeda. Pretty much the rest of the world.

21 May 2009

Change We Can Believe In

This was the title of Obama's book published in September 2008 which outlined his vision for America.

Many people were fooled. Not Jon Stewart though, who on the night of Obama's Inauguration had this to say:

The Daily Show With Jon StewartM - Th 11p / 10c
Changefest '09 - Obama's Inaugural Speech
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Economic CrisisPolitical Humor

While some think that Obama has morphed into Cheney, I have the proof that in fact he has morphed into Bush:

So how does one get from anti-war black law professor to warmonger in just 100 days?

Patick C0ckburn has the answer here.

16 May 2009

Torture helped build Iraq war case

According to Lawrence Wilkerson, chief of staff for then-Secretary of State Colin Powell:

"what I have learned is that as the administration authorized harsh interrogation in April and May of 2002--well before the Justice Department had rendered any legal opinion--its principal priority for intelligence was not aimed at pre-empting another terrorist attack on the U.S. but discovering a smoking gun linking Iraq and al-Qa'ida."

Get this, the 'supreme' international crime was aided by torture:

"So furious was this effort that on one particular detainee, even when the interrogation team had reported to Cheney's office that their detainee "was compliant" (meaning the team recommended no more torture), the VP's office ordered them to continue the enhanced methods. The detainee had not revealed any al-Qa'ida-Baghdad contacts yet. This ceased only after Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, under waterboarding in Egypt, "revealed" such contacts. Of course later we learned that al-Libi revealed these contacts only to get the torture to stop."

Wilkerson also implies that there is some connection between al-Libi's recent death and the fact that "Interestingly, several U.S. lawyers working with tortured detainees were attempting to get the Libyan government to allow them to interview al-Libi..." Others also wonder why "not a single mainstream US newspaper or broadcast outlet has reported on the story", usually a dead giveaway.

CNN reports that counterterrorism adviser for the U.S.-based group Human Rights Watch Stacy Sullivan "called al-Libi's allegation "pivotal" to the Bush administration's case for war, as it connected Baghdad to the terrorist organization behind the 2001 attacks on New York and Washington."

Wilkerson writes "There in fact were no such contacts."

Let's remember here , as Gordon Prather points out the context, that "Bush-Cheney and Rumsfeld-Wolfowitz had already developed plans to invade and occupy Iraq, months before the Saudi terrorists attacked the Pentagon and brought down the World Trade Center Twin Towers."

14 May 2009

How much is an Afghani civilian's life worth?

Most of the time nothing: "a "significant number" of families receive no help from international forces and that anger is especially strong when no help is provided." But because this particuar case has reached the eyes and ears of the corporate press: $2,000.

"This was an accident, and we offer condolences," provincial Gov. Rosul Amin told the somber, ragged assemblage of villagers. Relatives received about $2,000 for family members killed and $1,000 for those injured."

Meanwhile, the US Occupation Forces are balking at paying out even that paltry sum, saying that the death toll is “extremely over-exaggated”:

"The investigators and the folks on the ground think that those numbers are extremely over-exaggerated," U.S. military spokeswoman Capt. Elizabeth Mathias said. "We are definitely nowhere near those estimates."

Of course, those 'folks on the ground' is US military newspeak for US occupation troops. Because every other folk on the ground is Afghan.

U.S. military spokesman Col. Greg Julian scoffed "there is no physical proof that can substantiate" the Afghan list of victims. "I can sit down and give you a list of names too, given some time, but the physical evidence doesn't compare," Julian added. "The locals couldn't decide among themselves whether it was 19 or 69 in that mass grave".

But Col. Julian is either a genius or has divine powers ( it could also be he's a bull-shitting liar) as he "added that the dirt displaced from the mass grave seemed to indicate far fewer than 69 bodies were buried there." The dirt displaced? Now that's US Military forensic science for you!
(And just check out the AP newspeak. They now call civilians: "people not involved in the fight")

To put this in perspective, let us remember that the US claimed the 'it was the Taliban that dun-it, honest guv' approach:

"the Taliban deliberately engineered a ground attack against Afghan and U.S. forces, expecting the United States would call in airstrikes. They said the Taliban were then prepared to kill the civilians.
(Well if its a ploy why do they fall for it every time? Because they don't give a damn.)

A senior U.S. military official said there was "very reliable intelligence" that Taliban fighters rounded up three families, including women and children, and killed them with grenades.

The official would not allow his name to be used because a preliminary investigation into the matter is ongoing and no conclusions have been reached.

Their bodies, shrapnel wounds visible, were then put into the backs of trucks and driven through the area in an effort to convince villagers that the U.S. military operation had killed them. The official said he did not know who drove the trucks -- other Taliban or local Afghans forced into duty.

"No one is disputing people died, it's how they died," the official said."

The un-named official is simply not credible. He would have had to give his name for that to be the case. In any case the US IS disputing how many died.

Meanwhile NATO has the nerve to claim that "Civilian casualties in Afghanistan were down 44 per cent in the first four months of this year...despite a 64 per cent rise in insurgency attacks". This is strange because only in March we were told by the AP "More Afghan civilians also are dying in U.S. and allied operations...In the first two months of this year, U.S., NATO or Afghan forces have killed 100 civilians, while militants have killed 60."

But only in February we were told by the UN that the civilian death toll in Afghanistan had risen by 40% in 2008, and that U.S., NATO and Afghan troops killed 31 percent more civilians in 2008 than the year before. According to the BBC "The UN report into civilian deaths said the death toll in 2008 civilian was "the highest of any year" since the Taleban were ousted in 2001."

Well what a coincidence, this massacre is also "the deadliest case of civilian casualties in Afghanistan since the 2001 US-led invasion that ousted the Taliban."

However, the UN tallies are lower than those of a Kabul-based group called the Afghanistan Rights Monitor (ARM) who found that 3,917 civilians were killed in insurgency-linked violence in Afghanistan last year: "The United Nations has much lower figures for civilian casualties in the Afghan conflict, saying roughly 2,000 civilians were killed in 2008, more than half of them in insurgent attacks and the remainder in military action...NATO's International Security Assistance Force has said meanwhile that just over 200 civilians were mistakenly killed by foreign troops last year. "

Meanwhile, back in the safety of the White House, Obama is aware that the figures will rise: "I think that because you are going to see that additional engagement, there is a risk of greater additional casualties in the short term," he told the Pentagon Channel on Friday from Camp Lejeune, N.C

What is a US soldier's life worth? $100,000. And a western civilian? How much is their life worth? If we take the Libyan payout for Lockerbie as a guide: $8 million....

13 May 2009

Jon Sistiaga's NarcoMexico

Jon Sistiaga's report for Spanish TV station Cuatro on Mexicoós Narco state. Sistiago was in the Hotel Palestine in Baghdad on 08 April 2003 when a US tank fired on the hotel and murdered his cameraman José Couso.

UPDATE 22/4/09: A Spanish judge has reinstated the charges against the three U.S. soldiers:

"In a new 10-page indictment announced Thursday, Pedraz said he had obtained new testimony from three Spanish journalists who were at the hotel at the time of the shelling and looking out of a hotel window along with Couso.

These reporters — Jon Sistiaga, Olga Rodriguez and Jesus Quinonero — testified that the tank had not come under fire before shooting at the Palestine Hotel. They said that morning of April 8, 2003 was particularly quiet outside the hotel, the judge wrote.

"There was nothing to film. It was a rather calm morning, and that is why they were all standing by the window," the judge wrote.

"Obviously, this contradicts the argument that the company was under strong enemy fire," the judge wrote."

"I was assassinated by President Alvaro Colom, with help from Gustavo Alejos," the president's private secretary."

Rodrigo Rosenberg’s Declaration, prior to his death

If you are reading this message, it means that I, Rodrigo Rosenberg Marzano, was murdered by the President’s Private Secretary Gustavo Alejos and his associate Gregorio Valdez, with the approval of mister Alvaro Colom and Sandra de Colom.

The reason, for which Gustavo Alejos and Gregorio Valdez, have ordered my death, and for which the President of the Republic Alvaro Colom has approved it, is because until the day I was killed, I was the lawyer for two incredible Guatemalans, Mister Khalil Musa and his daughter Marjorie Musa, and knew exactly how Alvaro Colom, Sandra de Colom, Gustavo Alejos and Gregorio Valdez were responsible for this cowardly assassination, which I made known to them and to anyone who could and would hear me.

I was a 47 year old Guatemalan, with 4 beautiful children, with the best brother one could ask of life, with wonderful friends, and with an overwhelming desire to live in my country, but I could not have lived with myself without rebelling, arming myself with valor and denouncing the real reasons for the deaths of Mister Khalil Musa and his daughter Marjorie Musa before all the Guatemalans who have principles and values, without regarding the consequences, and understanding that my life was in danger, I wanted to leave behind this testimony, should something come to happen to me, as it unfortunately did.

It was Alvaro Colom who, through Gustavo Alejos and Gregorio Valdez, asked for the collaboration of Mister Khalil Musa to form part, Ad honorem, of the board for Banrural, without Mister Khalil Musa being aware of the illegal, millionaire business transactions taking place daily in Banrural, which range from money laundering to the deviation of public funds to non-existent programs belonging to the President’s wife, Sandra de Colom, as well as the funding of paper firms employed for drug-dealing.

It was Alvaro Colom, in agreement with Gustavo Alejos and Gregorio Valdez, who withheld Mister Khalil Musa’s already signed appointment, without his knowledge, for over three months, for in reality they had no intention whatsoever of granting him this post, but were using his good name with the argument that if new quotas of power were not distributed, Mister Khalil would denounce the corruption with which Banrural’s General Manager Fernando Peña operates this bank at his whim, for the service of Mrs. Sandra de Colom, as an associate and financier with the funds of the bank and of the businesses owned by Gregorio Valdez and Gustavo Alejos, without the bank’s president, José Angel López, doing anything to stop Fernando Peña from turning Banrural into the dwelling for thieves, drugdealers and murderers which it is now.

With the impunity with which Guatemalans in recent years have granted to thieves and murderers, José Angel López, Fernando Peña and the cowardly Gerardo de León directly threatened and intimidated Mister Khalil Musa, a few weeks before his assassination, so that he’d give up his post and Mister Khalil Musa, as a true gentleman, told them he had no problem with his appointment being cancelled, as it was Gustavo Alejos and Gregorio Valdez, in agreement with our most splendid President Alvaro Colom and his perennial shadow, Sandra de Colom.

Mister Khalil Musa lets Gustavo Alejos and Alvaro Colom know that he’s decided not to take part in the board of Banrural to avoid troubles, but they ask that he give them time, as all was getting resolved, without Mister Khalil Musa having the slightest idea that once the thieves and murderers had everything settled, they would murder him along with his daughter, Marjorie Musa, (whose only crime was to be an exemplary daughter who always accompanied her father), as he’d served his purpose, without caring for anything or anyone and with the utter leisure of knowing that good Guatemalans would once more do absolutely nothing, justifying their inactivity in the impotence which always pervades us, or simply saying “Most likely, they were involved in something…”

Boasting lack of moral principles or values, and of the vaguest sense of shame, Gustavo Alejos, personally, after trying to invent other theories who nobody accepted on the grounds of the moral virtue of the victims, told Mister Khalil Musa’s family that he’d regrettably been assassinated for the horrible problems which exist in Banrural, reaching the point that the very President Alvaro Colom invites one of Mister Khalil Musa’s political relatives to his office to confirm what’s been said by his Private Secretary.

Now you can understand why neither Alvaro Colom and much less Gustavo Alejos publicly declared what they told to the family of Mister Khalil Musa and his daughter Marjorie Musa, and ordered the corrupt and incompetent Secretary of the Interior and the nonexistent Attorney General to let this assassination slide, as always occurs with the murders, thefts and violations which have thrust Guatemala into its darkest depths.

Day by day this horrible story repeats itself and fills with grief one more of our Guatemalan families, while the good Guatemalans decide to look the other way and pray it’s not our turn.

It’s enough! Let’s rescue our country from thieves, murderers and drugdealers, and once united, let us reclaim our Guatemala, our values and our faith in justice, and let us kick out the current puppet we have for president, and let us imprison the thieves and murderers, starting with Gustavo Alejos, Gregorio Valdez, Fernando Peña and Gerardo de León, among others, and once and for all, let us demand the resignation of all the current members of Congress, all of who, with very few exceptions, are a bunch of thieves, and let us start all over again, for the love of God and our country.

Surely the cowards will try to defend themselves by staining the memory of Mister Khalil Musa or his daughter Marjorie Musa, and will try to convince Guatemalans that this is all a new ploy, but in the end, the one and only truth that matters is that if you are reading this message, it’s because I, Rodrigo Rosenberg Marzano, was murdered by Gustavo Alejos and Gregorio Valdez, with the approval of Mister Alvaro colom and Sandra de Colom, for refusing to allow the vile and cowardly assassination of two incredible people like Mister Khalil Musa and his daughter Marjorie Musa to become another statistic, thus continuing to hand over my country to the killers, cowards, thieves and drugdealers who currently govern it.

Rodrigo Rosenber Marzano


I remind Mister Vicepresident of the Republic, Doctor Rafael Espada, that he who’s silent, yields, and that you are neither a thief nor a murderer, and should be the first one to head the movement to recover our Guatemala, and make the law be carried out with the help of all the good Guatemalans who support it without reserve.

Guatemala rejects allegations of role in lawyer's death but no doubt we will soon see Colom asking for asylum in Peru...

12 May 2009

Watch this video and know why we remember Gaza on 16 May

The truth about Gaza

Every day from 27 December to 19 January this year Israel bombarded the Gaza Strip, home to 1.5 million Palestinians, from the land, sea and air.

Nearly 1400 people were killed, 314 of them children, and thousands were wounded.

Israel is seeking to justify its actions by broadcasting massive misinformation about the history of Gaza, its inhabitants and its leaders.

Most of the media in the UK are either too ignorant or too intimidated to question these modern myths.

Read the truth, based on reports by the UN and other NGOs on the ground, including Israeli human rights groups...

Lebanon displays equipment Israel used to spy on Hezbollah

This from the BBC:

"Lebanon has reportedly broken a spy ring that was plotting to murder Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of militant group Hezbollah, on behalf of Israel.
Police have arrested a Palestinian woman who is accused of being recruited in Tunisia, the Safir daily reported.
Quoting "informed sources", the paper said the network had been uncovered by Lebanese security forces and Hezbollah.
The group was also planning to launch operations against Palestinian leaders based in Lebanon, Safir says.
Jamal Zaarura, who holds a Tunisian passport but was born in the Nahr al-Bared refugee camp in northern Lebanon, is named as the ringleader.
Safir newspaper says an Egyptian man living in Beirut has also been arrested, along with a lover of Ms Zaarura's who she had unsuccessfully tried to bring into the ring.
She reportedly confessed that Mr Nasrallah was to be targeted with high explosives and poisonous chemicals installed in a tracksuit that would be slipped to his wardrobe."

Naharnet is claiming that at least 2 of the Mossad spies were responsible for surveying the Kfar Sousa neighborhood in Damascus a few months before Hizbullah Commander Imad Mughniyeh was assassinated by a car bomb last February.

Lebanese police officers display sophisticated devices Israel used to spy on Hezbollah, including a water cooler fitted with sensors to survey the landscape.

More photos here.

08 May 2009

Miss Panama: Confucius created confusion!

Thanks to Otto at IKN for this one. Had me rolling on the sofa...

Colombia expels Kosovo terrorist leader

The Kosovo terrorist leader and war criminal Agim Ceku was expelled from Colombia yesterday.

The AP report and others imply Ceku was expelled as a result of an Interpol 'red notice', although this is not accurate.

Back in 2006, Interpol had clarified its position with regard to Ceku in a press release.

According to the AP, Colombia had invited Ceku for "a conference on demobilizing guerrilla movements...which was organized by President Alvaro Uribe's peace commissioner and attended by Uribe himself as well as by Guatemala's president, Alvaro Colom."

It is not clear who invited Ceku to the conference.

In the US Joshua Keating of FP is trying to imply this is a political issue and trying to equate it with Interpol's red notice on Rosales who fled to Peru.

Here is my reply to Keating:

"Mr. Keating, sorry to have to say this but you obviously haven't done any research about this and you don't really know what you're talking about.

Firstly, Interpol never issued a 'red notice' as you state. In fact, Ceku has been the subject of a 'diffusion' notice since 2002. This was suspended while he was PM of Kosovo, as the Interpol press release explains, but as he ceased to be PM in Jan 2008, there is now no cause for immunity:

"Mr Ceku was never the subject of an INTERPOL international wanted persons notice, otherwise known as a Red Notice. In fact, Mr Ceku was the subject of a ‘diffusion’ notice sent to INTERPOL by Serbian authorities on 4 June 2002 via INTERPOL’s National Central Bureau in Belgrade. That diffusion requested his arrest with a view to extradition based on an arrest warrant issued on 18 March 2002 by a Serbian court on genocide charges. That diffusion was duly registered in INTERPOL’s database of wanted persons.

On 10 March 2006, Mr Ceku was appointed Prime Minister of Kosovo. In line with international jurisprudence that international arrest warrants against persons enjoying immunity under international law – such as Foreign Affairs Ministers and Heads of State and Heads of Government – should not be issued, INTERPOL’s policy is not to process such information, or if already processed and registered, not to maintain it in its active databases in such circumstances.

Accordingly, based on the above and the status of the civilian government of Kosovo under United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244 (1999), the General Secretariat decided to suspend all information concerning Mr Ceku currently registered in INTERPOL’s databases during the time he continues to serve as the Prime Minister of Kosovo. All INTERPOL National Central Bureaus in its 184 member countries have been informed of this decision.

Contrary to media reports and public statements by certain officials in Serbia, INTERPOL did not ‘abolish’ the Serbian arrest warrant, since INTERPOL cannot and does not attempt to abolish arrest warrants issued by national courts. Nonetheless, INTERPOL is required by its rules not to circulate and register information or otherwise co-operate with national authorities when the requested co-operation is not compatible with the organization’s rules."

What is a 'diffusion' notice? Interpol again explains:

"Another useful tool in the apprehension of fugitives is the ‘diffusion’, a wanted persons message sent by NCBs (National Central Bureaus) through I-24/7. Unlike the more formal notice, a diffusion can be sent immediately by an NCB to some or all INTERPOL member countries."

[In this case it was the Serbian NCB as confirmed by BBC Mundo (in Spanish).]

Presumably you are also aware of Ceku's past? Jane's Defence Weekly (10 May 1999) confirmed that Ceku had "masterminded the successful HV [Croatian] offensive at Medak [in 1993] and in 1995 was one of the key planners of the successful Operation ‘Storm" which resulted in what EU Special Envoy to the Former Yugoslavia Carl Bildt called on Aug. 7, 1995, "the most efficient ethnic cleansing we've seen in the Balkans." Both these actions resulted in 'sealed' warrants being issued by the ICTY. (THE SUNDAY TIMES (UK), Sunday, September 3, 2000 EUROPE
KLA faces trials for war crimes on Serbs, Inquiry turns on Albanians, Tom Walker, Diplomatic Correspondent)

You are also presumably aware of the crimes of the Kosovo Protection Force (KPC) described in a UN report in 2000 as "criminal activities-killings, ill-treatment/torture, illegal policing, abuse of authority, intimidation, breaches of political neutrality and hate speech"

Your post also suggests that the Rosales warrant is political, but you don't back this up with any facts. The man is charged with illicit enrichment while in public office. Perhaps you would care to explain how he became so rich with properties in Venezuela and Miami while in public office? Perhaps you are so used to turning a blind eye to the illicit enrichment of your politicians that you think it normal?"


Update: Interpol press release on Rosales red notice:

"Following a request from Venezuelan authorities, the INTERPOL General Secretariat headquarters has issued a Red Notices, or international wanted persons notice, for a former mayor wanted for corruption.

Manuel Antonio Rosales Guerrero is wanted by Venezuela in connection with charges relating to the time he held the position of Governor of Zulia between 2004 and 2008.

A Red Notice is only issued by INTERPOL if the request from the member country (Venezuela) meets the requirements of the Organization’s constitution which prohibits any actions of a political, racial, religious or military character.

Each of INTERPOL’s 187 member countries is a sovereign nation and it is the decision of the country where a person subject to a Red Notice is located, to make an independent determination whether its national laws permit the individual’s arrest or extradition and under what circumstances.

"INTERPOL is fully committed to the rule of law, and it believes that the best forum for challenging arrest warrants or requests for extradition by national judicial authorities is in front of the relevant judicial body in the country where the person being sought is located,” said Ronald K. Noble, INTERPOL's Secretary General.

Red Notices are one of the ways in which INTERPOL informs its 187 member countries that an arrest warrant has been issued for an individual by a judicial authority and that the requesting authority will seek the person’s extradition if apprehended. An INTERPOL Red Notice is not an international arrest warrant.

Red Notices are only issued to INTERPOL member countries if the requesting National Central Bureau has provided all the information required by the General Secretariat, including details of a valid arrest warrant from the country in question.

Many of INTERPOL’s member countries however, consider a Red Notice a valid request for provisional arrest, especially if they are linked to the requesting country via a bilateral extradition treaty. In cases where arrests are made based on a Red Notice, these are made by national police officials in INTERPOL member countries."

06 May 2009

¿Reelección? “Otra pregunta, amigo” Uribe and his re-election. "Next question, friend" further skulkduggery in Colombia

Re-election? "Next question, friend."

Uribe refused to be drawn during a BBC interview on whether he would present himself for re-election. And its not surprising as the project to change the constitution yet again is yet gain embroiled in controversy.

For those who haven't been following Colombia, in April 2008 Yidis Medina a former congresswoman from the pro-government Colombian Conservative Party, claimed that members of President Uribe's administration had offered her to appoint local officials in her home province, in exchange for voting in favor of the 2004 reelection bill. She declared before the Colombian Supreme Court who did indeed find that she had sold her vote. As a result of that decision there is still a legal tussle going on as whether Uribe's first re-election should be declared illegal as a result.

It now appears that the promoter of the re-election referendum on behalf of Uribe, Luis Guillermo Giraldo, is also involved in dodgy business. Indeed it is highly probable that the 5 million signatures necessary to initiate the re-election debates in the Colombian Congress were bought and paid for, with the 1.900 million pesos raised for the process. Indeed Radio Caracol at the time reported that the going rate for a signature was 170,000 pesos.

It also appears that the DMG company and its main shareholder, David Murcia Guzman, were where some of the money originated, and there is suspicion that some of it also came from Primero Colombia, Uribe's own party. Murcia Guzman was indicted by the US in March this year on money laundering charges, and by the Colombian authorities last November and authorities suspect it was also a massive machine to launder profits from drug trafficking. Murcia Guzmán was captured in Panama and sumarily handed over to Colombian authorities after a phone call from Uribe to Torrijos, in spite of Colombia having officially requested his extradition.

To be continued...

05 May 2009

Uribe to make himself president for life

You can bet your life's savings (if you've got any left) that the British or American press won't have this headline in their reports - if they even report it!

According to Colombian daily newspaper El Espectador and reported by Dow Jones: "Colombia's President Alvaro Uribe will seek a third consecutive term after the country's Congress approves a referendum to change constitution to allow him to stay in power after 2010...Uribe, who was first elected in 2002, had the constitution already changed in 2005 to enable him to seek a second four-year term in 2006."

Of course, when Hugo Chavez did the same, western media were virtually unanimous in their description. The Daily Telegraph's headline was "Hugo Chavez to make himself president for life", and inside, McDermott, their Latin American correspondent wrote:

"The Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez has anointed himself president for life by proposing sweeping changes to the country's constitution.

Setting out his plans for completing his socialist revolution in the oil-rich Latin American nation, he proposing radical constitutional reform which has at its centre indefinite re-election for himself."

But the Telegraph was not the only one. The Times headline after the first attempt was defeated was "Hugo Chavez's president-for-life bid defeated".

Two years later. in 2009, he won the referendum, at which the Wall Street Journal asked the question "President for Life?": "Like his idol, Fidel Castro, who reigned in Cuba for a half-century, Mr. Chávez can now move toward his goal of becoming President for life."

In Ireland, RTE News reported in Feb 2009 "Voters open door to a Chavez life term". The Economist's headline wasn't that controversial: "Hugo Chávez's constitutional plans",but the article started: "WHEN Simón Bolívar, South America's Venezuelan-born independence hero, wrote a constitution for the brand new country of Bolivia, it featured a lifetime president. So it should come as no surprise that Hugo Chávez, who claims to be a latter-day Bolívar, is proposing to let himself be re-elected indefinitely to his country's presidency. "

Even the Huffington Post was at it "Why Chavez Wants To Be President for Life", and the UK Guardian's Rory Carroll was up to his propaganda tricks again with his headline "Chávez drive for indefinite re-election as president".

So will we see similar coverage from the Western media on Uribe? You already know the answer...

Meanwhile, did anyone know that in Colombia cocaine is legal? And marijuana and even ecstacy, ever since "a 1994 Constitutional Court ruling that said the prohibition of drug use violated the right to the "free development of personality" set forth in Colombia's Constitution...Since then, adults have been able to legally possess up to 20 grams of marijuana, one gram of cocaine, and two grams of synthetic drugs such as ecstasy for consumption in the privacy of their homes."

That's all about to change if Uribe has his way.

And let's not forget about all those human rights abuses that have been going on inside Colombia throughout Uribe's presidency. If there had been anything remotely like that happening in Venezuela what do you think the western media reaction would have been?

Gary Leech at Colombia Journal today:

"It seems that new revelations about the Colombian government’s links to human rights abuses are appearing almost weekly. In recent weeks there have been allegations that Colombian political and military officials conspired with right-wing paramilitaries to burn the bodies of massacre victims in an effort to conceal the number of people killed by the militias; the country’s largest paramilitary organization funded President Alvaro Uribe’s 2002 election campaign; and the military’s counterinsurgency strategy has contributed to a worsening humanitarian crisis. These revelations come on the heels of evidence that the military has increasingly used extra-judicial executions as a counter-insurgency strategy in recent years and the para-politics scandal linking elected officials to the paramilitaries. In response to the Colombian military’s increasing involvement in human rights violations, the British government recently announced that it was ending military aid to Colombia."

When our official 'enemies' do it, its all over the press, but when its our official 'friends'...silence.