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Archive for May 2011

FACT CHECK: Netanyahu’s One Sided Coin

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JERUSALEM – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave an impassioned defense of his approach to peace during a speech to Congress on Tuesday. But the address reflected the world view of Israel’s nationalistic right wing, one of several conflicting narratives that divide Israelis and Palestinians.

Here is a sampling of Netanyahu’s claims along with what he did not mention.

NETANYAHU: “You don’t need to send American troops to Israel. We defend ourselves.”

THE FACTS: Israel is a leading recipient of American foreign aid, including more than $1 billion in military assistance each year.
NETANYAHU: “In Judea and Samaria, the Jewish people are not foreign occupiers. We are not the British in India. We are not the Belgians in the Congo.”

THE FACTS: While the West Bank, or Judea and Samaria, is promised to the Jewish people in the Bible, the international community considers the West Bank occupied territory. Israel captured the area in the 1967 Mideast war but has never annexed it. Its occupied status is underscored by the presence of tens of thousands of Israeli soldiers who protect Israeli settlements and control the movement of Palestinian residents in the name of security.

NETANYAHU: “You don’t need to export democracy to Israel. We’ve already got it.”

THE FACTS: Israel does give its Arab minority full civil rights, including participation in elections. But Israeli Arabs suffer from systematic discrimination in housing and the workplace. Also, more than 2 million Palestinians living in the West Bank do not have Israeli citizenship and therefore cannot vote in Israeli elections.

NETANYAHU: “The vast majority of the 650,000 Israelis who live beyond the 1967 lines reside in neighborhoods and suburbs of Jerusalem and greater Tel Aviv.”

THE FACTS: Nearly all of these communities were built in the face of overwhelming international opposition and are considered illegal settlements by the world, including the U.S. There are 300,000 Israelis living in the West Bank and 200,000 in east Jerusalem, making a total of 500,000.

NETANYAHU: “The Palestinian economy is booming. It’s growing by more than 10 percent a year.”

THE FACTS: The West Bank economy is indeed growing rapidly. But the World Bank has noted that the growth comes after years of contraction during fighting with Israel and has been fueled by huge amounts of foreign aid. It warns the growth is unsustainable unless Israel does more to encourage the Palestinian private sector.

NETANYAHU: “Israel will not negotiate with a Palestinian government backed by the Palestinian version of al-Qaida.”

THE FACTS: While Hamas and al-Qaida have killed hundreds of people in religious holy wars, they have no connection, and Hamas has in fact come under criticism from the global terror network for being too moderate. Al-Qaida preaches global jihad. Hamas says its struggle is solely against Israel, not the West at large. In its Gaza stronghold, Hamas has violently clashed with smaller armed groups that claim inspiration from al-Qaida.

East India Suspected Insurgent Attack: Nine Police Officers Killed

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Suspected Maoist insurgents killed nine policemen during an ambush in eastern India, authorities said Tuesday. A 10th officer is missing.


Police officials carry a coffin of a colleague on April 8, 2010, after his death in a Maoist attack in Chhattisgarh.

The attack took place Monday in a remote area of Gariaband in Chhattisgarh state when the officers were on their way to search a house as part of anti-Maoist operation, said state police spokesman Rajesh Mishra.

Their truck broke down, and they were attacked as they were waiting for a second vehicle to arrive, he said.

About 10 days ago, seven officers were killed when they were ambushed as they were returning from routine patrol, Mishra said.

“It’s a war-like situation here,” he said.

The Maoist movement is considered by the government as India’s greatest internal security threat.

The Maoist guerrillas are called Naxalites after Naxalbari, a village in neighboring West Bengal state where they originated in the late 1960s.

Officials say the Naxals aim to seize political power through what they call a protracted people’s war.

For their part, the insurgents have claimed since the 1960s to be fighting for the dispossessed.

Over the years, they targeted Indian security forces in several impoverished eastern Indian states that have become known as the “Red Corridor.”

The slow-churning unrest has killed about 2,000 people.

Birthers, Deathers, Deniers, Racists and Barack Obama

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WALTER BRASCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

The latest garbage spewing hate as it circles the Internet in a viral state of panic continues a three year smear against Barack Obama.

The attacks had begun with the extreme right wing spitting out Obama’s full name-Barack HUSSEIN Obama, as if somehow he wasn’t an American but connected to the Iraqi dictator who, despite the Bush Administration’s best efforts, had no connections to 9/11.

When the right-wingers and Tea Party Pack get tired of their “cutesy” attempts to link Obama to militant Muslims, they launch half-truths and lies to claim he wasn’t born in the United States. Like Jaws, Jason, or Freddy Krueger, “birther” propaganda keeps returning, even when independent state officials and analysts proved the claims false.

The issue simmered on Fox TV and talk radio until Donald Trump, the man with the planet-sized ego and the bacteria-sized brain, inserted his persona into the issue, while pontificating about becoming the next president. The media, exhausted from having to cover the antics of Lindsay Lohan and Charlie Sheen, turned their news columns over to the man who would be God-if only it paid better.

The Wing Nut Cotillion, with Trump getting the headlines, then demanded Obama produce a long-form birth certificate-which he did while leading a combined White House-CIA-Pentagon effort to find and destroy Osama bin Laden. The truth still hasn’t quieted the conspiracy nuts.

Not willing to accept truth and logic, the extreme right wing, grasping for anything they could find, have attacked the raid that killed bin Laden. Among their screeches are that bin Laden isn’t dead . . . that he was killed a week earlier or even years earlier . . . that Obama had hidden the death until there was a more political time to reveal it . . . that it was George W. Bush (who publicly said six months after 9/11 that he didn’t care about bin Laden) who deserves all the credit . . . and that while Navy SEALS should get credit, Obama is too weak to have overseen any part of the mission.

And now from the caves of ignorance and hatred comes a much-forwarded letter, which the anonymous author says “shouldn’t surprise anyone.” Written as fact, the letter informs us Barack Obama: “never held a ‘real’ job, never owned a business and as far as we know, never really attended Harvard or Columbia since those transcripts have never been released and no one remembers him from their time at either school.”

The email of hate further “enlightens” us that “Being a community activist only gives someone insite [sic] on how to assist the less fortunate and dregs of society on how to acquire government housing and government benefits without ever contributing one penny in taxes.”

That’s right. The Whackadoodles Wearing Tinfoil Caps crowd has escaped again.

Among those community activists who worked with the “dregs of society,” apparently on ways to scam the government, are St. Francis of Assisi (1181-1226), founder of the Franciscan order and patron saint of animals and the environment; Jacob Riis (1849-1914), a journalist and photographer who exposed the squalor of slums and tenement buildings; Dorothy Day (1897-1980), a journalist who founded the Catholic Worker Movement that advocated nonviolent action to help the poor and homeless, and who the archdiocese of New York, at the direction of Pope John Paul II, began a process leading to beatification; and Jane Addams (1860-1935), who fought for better conditions for children and mothers, was active in the progressive campaigns of Teddy Roosevelt and who, like Roosevelt, earned a Nobel Peace Prize. Those who rail against community activists for not having “real” jobs would also oppose Saul Alinsky (1909-1972), who tirelessly established the nation’s most effective organizational structure to help the poor and disenfranchised to gain a voice against political, economic, and social oppression; Dr. Benjamin Spock (1903-1998), America’s foremost pediatrician, for leading antiwar campaigns; Cesar Chavez (1927-1993), who helped get farm workers respectable pay and decent working conditions; Martin Luther King Jr. (1929-1968) who, with hundreds of thousands of others, forced a nation to finally confront its racism; and innumerable leaders of the feminist and gay rights communities who got America to confront their other prejudices. All were community activists.

Not dregs because they have “real” jobs are the bankers and Wall Street investors who brought about the housing crisis that led to the worst depression in the past seven decades. Also exempt from contempt are the business owners who downsized, right-sized, and shipped their production overseas, throwing millions of Americans out of work.

Barack Obama, castigated for not having a “real job,” worked more than a year as research associate and editor at the Business International Corp., three years as director of Developing Community Projects, a church-based group for eight Catholic parishes, and summer jobs at law firms. Other “not real” jobs include being an author, civil rights lawyer, and a professor of Constitutional law at one of the nation’s more prestigious colleges. Frankly, it’s rather nice to have a president who actually understands the Constitution-as opposed to the rabble who misquote, misstate, and misappropriate it all the time.

Those propagating the email of hate believe Obama couldn’t earn degrees from Ivy League colleges; the subtext is as clear as their refusal to believe in an integrated nation. So, I contacted the registrars at Columbia and Harvard. In less than 10 minutes, the registrar at Columbia confirmed that Barack Obama received a B.A. in political science, and the registrar at Harvard Law School confirmed Obama received a J.D. These are public records. Anyone can ask the same questions, and get the same answer. Logic alone should have shot down these accusations. Obama was editor of the Harvard Law Review, something as easy to verify as his graduation, and he passed the Illinois bar exam-which requires graduation from college and law school, and a personal character test-also a matter of public record.

Even if Obama provided official transcripts, which are confidential, the wing nuts of society will claim that, like the birth certificate and the death of bin Laden, the transcripts were faked.

The truth is that the politics of hate, combined with media complicity and Internet access, has led not to a discussion of issues but to character assassination, with racism and bigotry as its pillars.

Indian engineer is an Al Qaeda member

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ZoneAsia-Pk

The first Indian Muslim to be associated with global terror network al Qaeda, who was arrested in France two weeks ago, is a mechanical engineer from south India, Indian Home Minister P Chidambaram announced on Monday.


Mohammad Niaz was arrested in France for links with al Qaeda’s Algerian arm.

Mohammad Niaz, who hails from Tiruchirapalli in Tamil Nadu, had been “radicalised” very early in life and had been in touch with the proscribed Students Islamic Movement of India (Simi), Chidambaram told reporters in New Delhi. “He joined Simi based in Tamil Nadu at the age of 21 and had been on the scanner of Indian intelligence agencies before he was arrested (in France),” he said. Simi is also allegedly allied with the Lashkar-e-Taiba, which the Indian government believes is responsible for the 2008 Mumbai attacks.

Niaz was arrested at the Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris on May 10 upon arrival from Algeria, where he had developed links with an al Qaeda franchise. “It is reported that Niaz has been arrested for links with the terror group that is recruiting people for jihad in the Pakistan and Afghanistan region,” Chidambaram said. “The inputs that the government has on him indicate that he is a trained activist with a militant bent of mind,” he said.

Niaz is among seven suspected terrorists held by French authorities earlier this month. But the French government has not linked them to any specific plan to carry out attacks in that country. French Interior Minister Claude Gueant described Niaz as a man with a high level of technical training.

Dominique Strauss-Kahn resigns as head of IMF

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Strauss-Kahn, who is facing charges of sexual assault and attempted rape, denied the allegations in his letter of resignation


Dominique Strauss-Kahn has resigned as head of the IMF

Dominique Strauss-Kahn has resigned as managing director of the International Monetary Fund, saying he wanted to devote “all his energy” to battle the sexual assault charges he faces in New York.

The IMF’s executive board released a letter from Strauss-Kahn dated 18 May, in which the former managing director denied the allegations against him and went on to say that it was with “infinite sadness” that he presented the board with his resignation.

“I think at this time first of my wife – whom I love more than anything – of my children, of my family, of my friends. I think also of my colleagues at the Fund; together we have accomplished such great things over the last three years and more.

“To all, I want to say that I deny with the greatest possible firmness all of the allegations that have been made against me.

“I want to protect this institution which I have served with honour and devotion, and especially – especially – I want to devote all my strength, all my time, and all my energy to proving my innocence.”

His resignation comes after increasing international pressure for him to step down as he faces charges of assaulting a hotel employee at a New York hotel. The maid, a 32-year-old immigrant from the West African nation of Guinea, told police that the 62-year-old Strauss-Kahn came out of the bathroom naked, chased her down, forced her to perform oral sex on him and tried to remove her underwear before she broke free and fled the room.

Strauss-Kahn, who is currently being held in New York’s Rikers Island prison, is to make a second application for bail on Thursday in New York with is his lawyers set to offer new bail terms including $1m in cash and to place their client under house arrest.

A judge rejected his initial plea for bail agreeing with prosecutors that he was a flight risk.

A grand jury has now been convened to assess whether Strauss-Khan will be indicted. Their decision will not be known until Friday. The decision to press for bail ahead of Friday’s decision suggests lawyers are urgently trying to free Strauss-Kahn from Rikers where he has been held since Monday. If he is released on bail, the deadline to secure an indictment would be extended.

The IMF’s statement late on Wednesday said the process of choosing a new leader would begin, but in the meantime John Lipsky would remain acting managing director.

Several potential candidates to replace Strauss-Kahn have already been suggested, although none have yet indicated that they are interested. These include French finance minister Christine Lagarde, former Bundesbank president Axel Weber, and Kemal Dervis, Turkey’s former minister of economic affairs.

The IMF will hold a vote among its member countries to choose the next managing director. The US has the largest share of voting power, with 16.7% of the total votes, followed by Japan with 6%, Germany with 5.7% and the UK and France with 4.85% each.

To win, a candidate must attract 85% of the votes. Critics say it allows Washington and the leading European nations to control the process, so that that IMF is always run by a European in return for an American citizen at the head of the World Bank.

This status quo could be now be challenged, though. On Tuesday China, which holds just 3.65% of the voting power, said the selection of the next IMF leader should be based on “fairness, transparency and merit”.

Brazil’s finance minister Guido Mantega reitered this point on Wednesday, arguing that was important that the selection process is based on merit, rather than on nationality. Brazil, which is an important, fast-growing emerging economy, has just 1.38% of the voting power – less than Belgium or the Netherlands.

European leaders have reportedly been lobbying to maintain their grip on the IMF. German chancellor Angela Merkel indicated on Monday that she favoured another European at the helm of the IMF.

Written by rohitkumarsviews

May 19, 2011 at 8:43 am

India’s Young Women Shame

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A factsheet released earlier this year entitled ‘The World’s Women and Girls’, produced by the Washington-basedPopulation Reference Bureau, showed that a whopping 47 percent of women in India are married off by the time they are 18 years-old.

Not only is India’s average higher than the one for South Central Asia (45 percent), but the country also fares worse than several African nations, including Ghana, Sudan and Nigeria. In contrast, Pakistan’s figure was 24 percent, while even war-ravagedAfghanistan (43 percent) apparently did a better job of curbing youth marriage than the world’s largest democracy.

Indian women face enormous disparities in treatment in practically every sphere-from health to education to nutrition. They also frequently experience early marriage that too often ends with them being trapped in a vicious cycle of premature child-bearing, high rates of maternal mortality, and child under-nutrition.

Despite India being touted as an economic superstar-its economy is galloping along at about eight percent growth-the health and education indices of its girls is abysmal. Analysts point out that adolescent girls in India face a greater risk of nutritional problems than adolescent boys, including anaemia and being underweight; the percentage of underweight adolescent girls aged between 15 and 19 is 47 percent in India-the highest in the world.

In addition, over half of girls in the same age group are anaemic. This has serious long-term health repercussions as being anaemic or underweight while also being married off early is a potentially deadly combination for pregnancy. Anaemia is one of the key indirect causes of maternal mortality, which stood at 230 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births in 2008. India’s maternal mortality rate is one of the world’s highest, and the government is nowhere close to attaining the Millennium Development Goal of reducing maternal mortality by three quarters between 1990 and 2015.

This apathy towards girls is inexplicable for a country where women occupy the most senior positions of power-the country’s president (Pratibha Devisingh Patil), the leader of the ruling UPA alliance (Sonia Gandhi), the speaker of the lower house of parliament or Lok Sabha (Meira Kumar), New Delhi’s chief minister (Sheila Dixit) and the city’s mayor (Rajni Abbi) are all women.

Most recently, two formidable women-Mamta Banerjee and Jayalalitha-crushed their political opponents, romping home to stunning victories in West Bengal and Tamil Nadu. It will be interesting to see if they’re able to make a difference in their own states where national politicians seem to be failing.

Indian Politician Charged with sex abuse, he’ll now be Minister

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Muslim League general secretary PK Kunhalikutty, facing a probe with regard to the allegation of sexually abusing a minor girl, will be sworn in as a Minister in the Kerala Cabinet of Congress-led UDF’s designated Chief Minister Oommen Chandy on Wednesday even as parleys are continuing in the coalition over allocation of ministerial positions to front constituents.

After a meeting of the Muslim League leadership in Malappuram on Monday evening, Union Minister E Ahmed declared Kunhalikutty as their legislative party leader. He also said that Kunhalikutty would take oath as Minister on Wednesday. Kunhalikutty’s inclusion in the Cabinet is sure to attract intense protests in the coming days.

The Muslim League has 20 MLAs in the 13th State Assembly where the total UDF tally is 72, just one seat above what is needed for absolute majority. The Congress itself has only 38 seats in the House. This situation enables the Muslim League to go to any extent in bargaining with the Congress, according to observers.

Ahmed told newsmen that the leadership meet had entitled State Muslim League president Syed Hyderali Shihab Thangal of Panakkad with the right to select and declare the names of the party MLAs to be included in the Cabinet. Decision on the portfolios to be demanded for the Ministers of the party would also be taken later.

Replying to newsmen’s queries, Kunhalikutty, who also took part in the brief press conference, said the Congress had not stated that the Muslim League would be given only four Cabinet berths. “Those reports are media’s creation,” he said. Ahmed said only the Chief Minister and the legislative party leaders of front partners would take oath on Wednesday.

A special investigation team of the Kerala Police is presently conducting a probe against Kunhalikutty over the allegation that he had made the witnesses and victims of the infamous ice cream parlour sex scandal change their former statements against him by paying them hefty sums of money and using threats.

Rejina, a victim and witness in the case, had earlier told the court, police and the media that Kunhalikutty had sexually abused her at three different places in 1996 when she was a minor. However, she turned hostile when the case reached the court. Kunhalikutty was accused of making her change the earlier statement using bribes and threats.

Kunhalikutty was forced to resign as industries minister in the then Chandy Cabinet in 2004 following intense State-wide agitations over the ice cream parlour sex scandal. The scandal resurfaced in January last following certain new allegations against Kunhalikutty by his close relative KA Rauf, a businessman.

Meanwhile, discussions continued on Monday in the UDF over the allocation of Cabinet berths to constituent parties.

While no decisions could be reached at on the number of positions to be given to the Kerala Congress (M) in the talks with the Congress, the Socialist Janata (Democratic) nominated its MLA, KP Mohanan, to the Cabinet.

KC(M) chairman KM Mani told newsmen on Monday after bilateral talks with the Congress in Thiruvananthapuram, “There has been no decision on the number of berths. Also there was no decision on the portfolios. In short, no clear decision on any issue has been taken.” The party has nine MLAs in the Assembly.

The Kerala Congress is negotiating for three ministerial positions and the post of the deputy speaker while the Congress is determined not to give more than two positions to it. However, KC(M) sources said the party was not ready for any compromise. Mani said discussions with the Congress would continue on Tuesday.