U.S. halts aid to some Pakistan military units
AP source: White House worried about human rights abuses
By MATTHEW LEE
The Obama administration is withholding assistance to some Pakistani military units over concerns they may have been involved in human rights abuses, including extrajudicial killings and torture, a senior U.S. official said Thursday.
The official said aid to a handful of Pakistani units believed to have committed, encouraged or tolerated abuses had been suspended under 1997 legislation championed by Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt. The so-called Leahy Amendment bars U.S. military assistance from going to foreign armed forces suspected of committing atrocities.
“In accordance with the Leahy Amendment, we have withheld assistance from a small number of units linked to gross human rights violations,”the official said.
Silence of the dissenters: How south-east Asia keeps web users in line
Vietnam, Burma, Thailand, Cambodia and the Philippines are all moving towards Chinese-style internet censorship
Ben Doherty in Bangkok guardian.co.uk
Governments across south-east Asia are following China’s authoritarian censorship of the digital world to keep political dissent in check, the Guardian can reveal.
Vietnam, Burma, Thailand, Cambodia and the Philippines have all moved or are moving towards monitoring internet use, blocking international sites regarded as critical and ruthlessly silencing web dissidents.
• In Vietnam, the Communist party wants to be your “friend” on the state-run version of Facebook, provided you are willing to share all personal details.
US Tea Party Should Keep Its Hands Off Hitler
Not-So-Steeped in History
A Commentary by Charles Hawley
German politicians are well aware of the dangers of making ill-thought-out references to their country’s history. In 2002, then-German Justice Minister Herta Däubler-Gmelin, speaking to the southern German daily Schwäbisches Tagblatt, said in reference to US President George W. Bush’s increasingly bellicose rhetoric against Iraq: “Bush wants to distract people from his domestic difficulties. It is a popular method. Hitler did the same thing.”
It was the hint of a parallel more than a direct comparison. But Germans, the majority of whom hated Bush even then, were outraged — and Däubler-Gmelin paid a high price for it. She was forced to resign.
The lesson doesn’t seem to have made it across the Atlantic.
Top companies donate big to Chamber in policy fights
Business advocate has become influential player in congressional elections
By Eric Lipton, Mike McIntire and Don Van Natta Jr. New York Times
Prudential Financial sent in a $2 million donation last year as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce kicked off a national advertising campaign to weaken the historic rewrite of the nation’s financial regulations.
Dow Chemical delivered $1.7 million to the chamber last year as the group took a leading role in aggressively fighting proposed rules that would impose tighter security requirements on chemical facilities.
And Goldman Sachs, Chevron Texaco, and Aegon, a multinational insurance company based in the Netherlands, donated more than $8 million in recent years to a chamber foundation that has been critical of growing federal regulation and spending.
Why Sarkozy could win this fight without really getting his hands dirty
The President can sense the public mood turning against the strikes
By John Lichfield in Paris Friday, 22 October 2010
France adores dates. It likes to name laws and streets and ships and historical events after them. How will October 2010 be remembered in French history?
As a May 1968? A November 2005? A July 1789? Or as just another of the left-reactionary movements against movement seen in 1995, 2003 and 2006?
An air of May 1968 hung over the Left Bank of Paris yesterday as 4,000 students (some of them rather old) marched raucously against President Nicolas Sarkozy’s pension reform.
Vatican Bank funds retained in court money-laundering inquiry
The Irish Times – Friday, October 22, 2010
PADDY AGNEW in Rome
A ROME tribunale di riesame, a sort of fast-track appeals court, this week refused to release €23 million of Vatican Bank funds, sequestered last month by Rome prosecutors within the context of a investigation into possible money-laundering.
To the discomfort of the directors of the Holy See and Vatican Bank, formally known as the Institute for Religious Works (IOR), the tribunal this week essentially ruled that the prosecutors had been fully entitled to sequester the funds “because of omitted and incomplete information to controlling authorities with regard to the nature of the operation”.
Bulldozer driver insists he did not see Rachel Corrie
Israeli behind crush death testifies from behind a screen
By Donald Macintyre in Haifa Friday, 22 October 2010
The family of Rachel Corrie had a long and painful wait for the opportunity to come face to face in court with the driver of the Israeli Army bulldozer that crushed her to death in southern Gaza more than seven years ago. But yesterday they were denied the chance – listening instead to the driver’s voice from behind a screen during four hours of testimony as he gave his own version of what happened on that fateful March afternoon.
They heard the 38-year-old insist repeatedly that the first time he had seen the American non-violent activist was after he had gone into reverse, she had been fatally hit and friends had rushed to her aid. “I didn’t see her before the incident,” the Russian-born former reservist said. “I saw people pulling the body from the earth.”
Iran’s secret strategy for Islamic bank network
October 22, 2010
IRAN is secretly trying to set up a global network of banks in Muslim countries, including Iraq and Malaysia, using dummy names and opaque ownership structures to skirt sanctions that have curtailed the Islamic Republic’s banking activities, US officials say.
The US Treasury Department has blacklisted 16 Iranian banks for allegedly supporting Iran’s nuclear program and terrorist activities. Other countries, including Australia, have followed suit with theirown measures.
Tehran’s search for new banking avenues is a sign of the growing effectiveness of the sanctions, US officials said.
China unveils its own version of Google Earth
Map World, which was unveiled by the State Bureau of Surveying and Mapping, features an expansive view of the Great Wall of China
Reuters guardian.co.uk, Friday 22 October 2010
A Chinese government body has released its own online mapping service, designed to compete with Google Earth’s popular satellite mapping service, that could spell more trouble for Google’s services in the mainland.
Google and China have been at odds since last year, when a serious hacking attack originating from China prompted Google to ultimately withdraw its search service from the mainland.
Map World was unveiled by the State Bureau of Surveying and Mapping on Thursday. The home page features an expansive view of the Great Wall of China, capped by clouds in the shape of the continents.
For the Kims, the weakest link is family
By Aidan Foster-Carter
I’m a sociologist, by discipline. Or indiscipline, do I hear you sneer? True, my subject has its share of what one eminent sociologist, Garry Runciman, has called ”attitude and platitude”. Plenty of obfuscating jargon, too. Nor is it half as trendy as when I first got hooked, back in 1968 – when I mixed it up with Marxism. These days, subjects like psychology, history and even economics (despite our present discontents) are more highly regarded than sociology.
But my trade has its uses too, as I shall now try to demonstrate. Take Kim Jong-eun, newly crowned dauphin of North Korea.
But my trade has its uses too, as I shall now try to demonstrate. Take Kim Jong-eun, newly crowned dauphin of North Korea. A communist monarchy: that’s a strange beast indeed, and a contradiction in terms. But sociology, I contend, may shed some light here. What is going on? How on earth did it come to this? And can such a peculiar system survive?
British aid failing to get through to those most in need
British aid to Ethiopia is being denied to people in need, according to a Human Rights Watch report that accuses the Department for International Development (DfID) of failing to safeguard its £7.8 billion budget.
by Damien McElroy, Foreign Affairs Correspondent
Meles Zenawi, the country’s prime minister, had used a DfID-backed scheme to reward loyalty to his regime and punish dissidents who refused to support his government, the report said. Voters who backed the opposition were being denied food aid, fertilisers, loans and health care by officials who demanded support for the ruling party.
Britain provides more than half of all international contributions to Ethiopia’s £2 billion-a-year work-for-food scheme that is supposed to provide seven million people with enough food to survive.
Nigeria: Feared Muslim sect issues new threats
A Muslim sect suspected of a series of targeted killings and a massive prison break has issued new threats in northern Nigeria, this time invoking al-Qaida’s North Africa branch.
By NJADVARA MUSA, Sapa-AP
Posters by the Boko Haram sect appeared at key intersections in the city of Maiduguri this week, bearing the name of Imam Abubakar Shekau, the group’s de facto leader. The two top corners of the posters bore a symbol of an opened Quran, flanked on each side by Kalashnikov assault rifles and a flag in the middle – mirroring the logo of al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb.
The message warned the public against assisting the police or going near soldiers guarding the town at night. The message also acknowledged a recent reward offered for information leading to the arrest of suspected sect members.
More than 100 dead in suspected cholera outbreak in Haiti
Doctors are testing for cholera, typhoid and other illnesses in the Caribbean nation’s deadliest outbreak since the January earthquake
Associated Press guardian.co.uk, Friday 22 October 2010
An outbreak of severe diarrhea has killed at least 135 people in rural central Haiti and sickened hundreds more who overwhelmed a crowded hospital on Thursday seeking treatment. Health workers suspected the disease is cholera, but were awaiting tests.
Hundreds of patients lay on blankets in a parking lot outside St. Nicholas hospital in the port city of St. Marc with IVs in their arms for rehydration. As rain began to fall in the afternoon, nurses rushed to carry them inside.
Doctors were testing for cholera, typhoid and other illnesses in the Caribbean nation’s deadliest outbreak since a January earthquake that killed as many as 300,000 people.