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Is the Government Confirming They Used MERLIN with Other Countries?

Posted by admin | Posted in The Capitol | Posted on 17-01-2011

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Josh Gerstein notes a curious argument the government makes in its motion to deny bail to alleged leaker Jeffrey Sterling: that leaking is more dangerous than espionage.

The defendant’s unauthorized disclosures, however, may be viewed as more pernicious than the typical espionage case where a spy sells classified information for money. Unlike the typical espionage case where a single foreign country or intelligence agency may be the beneficiary of the unauthorized disclosure of classified information, this defendant elected to disclose the classified information publicly through the mass media. Thus, every foreign adversary stood to benefit from the defendant’s unauthorized disclosure of classified information, thus posing an even greater threat to society.

Now, Gerstein looks at what this likely means for Wikileaks.

The Justice Department’s brief emphasizing the dangers of leaks could be seen as a preview of arguments the government will make against Wikileaks if authorities proceed with a prosecution of its founder, Julian Assange, or others who are part of the group. A prosecution of Wikileaks would open a significant new front in the Obama Administration’s war on leaks, which has so far targeted only leakers for prosecution and not those who receive the leaks.

But I’m interested in what they’re asserting as it has to do with Sterling’s case.

The government repeatedly claims that the big damage from Sterling’s leak is that it put the life of his source-almost certainly the former Russian nuclear scientist who passed doctored nuke plans to Iran-at risk.

In making these illegal disclosures, the defendant put the life of at least one individual in great danger. This individual, identified as Human Asset No. 1 in the Indictment, see Indictment, ¶ 14, played a role in Classified Program No. 1. The defendant’s illegal disclosures revealed certain identifying information about Human Asset No. 1 that placed Human Asset No. 1 in great danger. Id. at ¶ 42. The threat to Human Asset No. 1 was so great that certain United States government officials cited the danger to Human Asset No. 1 as one reason why Author A’s employer should not publish a newspaper article about Classified Program No. 1 in late April 2003. Id. at ¶ 42.

That expressed concern is really rich, as Risen’s book suggests that one of the concerns of the MERLIN case officer-presumably Sterling himself-is that the CIA had botched the process of doctoring the nuke plans so badly, the Russian immediately became aware of the flaw in the plans.

Within minutes of being handed the designs, [the Russian] had identified a flaw. “This isn’t right,” he told the CIA officers gathered around the hotel room. “There is something wrong.” His comments prompted stony looks, but no straight answers from the CIA men in the room. No one in the San Francisco meeting seemed surprised by the Russian’s assertion that the blueprints didn’t look quite right, but no one wanted to enlighten him further on the matter, either.

In fact, the CIA case officer who was the Russian’s personal handler had been stunned by the Russian’s statement. During a break, he took the senior CIA officer aside. “He wasn’t supposed to know that,” the CIA case officer told his superior. “He wasn’t supposed to find a flaw.”

“Don’t worry,” the senior CIA officer calmly replied. “It doesn’t matter.”

The CIA case officer couldn’t believe the senior CIA officer’s answer, but he still managed to keep his fears from the Russian, and he continued to train him for his mission.

It was a fear about the flaw in the blueprints that led the Russian to include a note hinting there was such a flaw.

There is, of course, the damage done to the Russian’s ability to conduct any similar operations. It’s worth noting, though, that at least as presented in Risen’s book, this was the first time in the many years he had been in the CIA’s defector resettlement program when the CIA asked him to conduct such an operation.

One secret CIA report said that the Russian “was a known handling problem due to his demanding and overbearing nature.” Yet the same report stated that he was also a “sensitive agent” who could be used in a “high-priority covert-action operation.”

So despite their disputes, the CIA had arranged for the Russian to become an American citizen and had kept him on the payroll, to the tune of $ 5,000 a month. It really did seem like easy money, with few strings attached. Life was good. He was happy to be on the CIA gravy train.

Until now. The CIA was placing him on the front lines of a plan that seemed to be completely at odds with the interests of the United States, and it had taken a lot of persuading by his CIA case officer to convince him to go through with what appeared to be a rogue operation.

But what really seems to be the government’s complaint, if you take their filing in good faith, is the notion that “every foreign adversary stood to benefit from the defendant’s unauthorized disclosure of classified information, thus posing an even greater threat to society.”

Is that, then, a confirmation of something that James Risen’s sources (plural) only suggested to him?

The Russian scientist’s fears about the operation were well founded. He was the front man for what may have been one of the most reckless operations in the modern history of the CIA, one that may have helped put nuclear weapons in the hands of a charter of what George W. Bush has called the “axis of evil.”

Operation MERLIN has been one of the most closely guarded secrets in the Clinton and Bush administrations. And it may not be over. Some officials have suggested that it might be repeated against other countries. [my emphasis]

After all, what advantage are countries like North Korea or Syria or Libya or Pakistan or Turkey or anyone else going to gain if they learn the US has been dealing doctored nuke plans to Iran? It might make Americans rightly concerned about the stupidity of the operations being conducted in their name, or even of the loyalty of the operatives involved. It might make our allies more skeptical about American claims about the laptop of death (though you’d hope after the Iraq war fiasco they’d be a little more skeptical of our intelligence propaganda).

But the most obvious way our adversaries are going to get an advantage (so long as you assume the government doesn’t now think of its own citizens as adversaries, which might be possible) is if the government did, in deed, use the MERLIN op with other countries.

Related posts:

  1. CIA Doesn’t Want You To Know It Gave Iran Nuclear Blueprints
  2. James Risen’s MERLIN Source Arrested
  3. CIA Sues over Whistleblower Book


Emptywheel

HRW in 2010: Less Credibility, More BDS-Organization Again Devotes More Resources to Israel than Other MidEast Countries

Posted by admin | Posted in The Capitol | Posted on 12-01-2011

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Press Release

For Immediate Release
January 12, 2011
Contact: Jason Edelstein, +972-52-861-2129

HRW in 2010: Less Credibility, More BDS
Organization Again Devotes More Resources
to Israel than Other MidEast Countries

JERUSALEM – As part of its annual analysis of Human Rights Watch (HRW), NGO Monitor today released the 2010 report on the activities of HRW’s Middle East and North Africa (MENA) division. In 2010, HRW demonstrated a lack of credibility in allegations involving Israel, extended its support of boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS), ignored the criticism of its founder Robert Bernstein, saw a significant drop in donor funding, and replaced the chairman of its board.

“Our analysis proves that in 2010 HRW continued to be driven by anti-Israel bias and a lack of focus on real human rights issues in the Middle East,” says Prof. Gerald Steinberg, president of NGO Monitor, a Jerusalem-based research institution that tracks NGOs in the region. “In examining the number of reports issued, the types of documents published for each country, the weak statements on totalitarian regimes, and a lack of credible sources in their reports, the conclusion is clear – the MENA division has an obsessive focus on Israel.”

NGO Monitor’s analysis shows that MENA issued 51 total documents related to “Israel and the Occupied Territories” in 2010, the highest for any country in the region. The December 166-page report on Israel, Separate and Unequal, was the longest one issued by the division in the past two years. In 2010, HRW’s three reports Israel total 344 pages – far more than any other country in the region.

In addition, using NGO Monitor’s weighted methodology for different types of activities, Israel accounted for 14 percent of HRW’s regional involvement. Iran was only 12 percent, despite the daily assault on human rights, followed by closed societies such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia, at around 9 percent, which is one-third less than Israel. [See Tables 1 and 2]

“Of all the countries in the region, Israel, a democratic society, received the most attention,” Steinberg adds. “This is indicative of what HRW founder Robert Bernstein repeatedly condemned – HRW has abandoned its mission to pry open closed societies, to help individuals in those societies who lack the infrastructure to fight for their rights. Instead, HRW is a central player in exploiting human rights to isolate Israel.”

MENA’s bias against Israel was also reflected in publications on the Middle East that continue to be based on sources without credibility.

“The publication headlined Separate and Unequal demonstrates HRW’s severe lack of credibility and proper methodology,” says Steinberg. “The allegations were based on secondary sources that HRW did not independently verify. Instead of conducting its own research, HRW relied on politicized advocacy groups such as Who Profits (Coalition of Women for Peace), Al Haq, Badil, B’Tselem, Yesh Din, and Ir Amin. These organizations pursue their own agendas; they do not provide reliable information.”

In preparing the report, HRW also relied on anecdotal interviews with 66 Palestinians and eight Israelis.

“This is not just counting pages,” says Steinberg. “These methodology problems reflect major biases at HRW that impact their reporting.”

As these failures are recognized, HRW continues to lose impact and support – funding from traditional donors decreased by $ 6 million (15%) from 2009, after a similar decline the previous year. (This was offset by the 10-year, $ 100 million donation from George Soros.)

Along with its questionable credibility, HRW promotes the BDS campaign based on the 2001 Durban conference, in which the organization was a major participant. In May, MENA director Sarah Leah Whitson renewed calls for a boycott of Caterpillar because of the use of its bulldozers in Israel. Separate and Unequal repeated calls on the US to withhold security cooperation, and called on corporations to sever ties with projects or companies in Israeli settlements. HRW MENA researcher Bill Van Esveld acknowledged HRW’s role in the campaign to delegitimize Israel: “It would be disingenuous for us to say it [“Separate and Unequal” report] has no similarities to BDS. This is kind of an S report” (referring to the S in BDS).

“The BDS movement – which calls for the end of Israel as a Jewish state, and is led by individuals that compare the IDF to Nazis – represents the antithesis of human rights,” Steinberg notes.

HRW’s continuing decline was highlighted by Bernstein during his November Goldstein Lecture on Human Rights at the University of Nebraska, which expanded on themes included in his October 2009 New York Times op-ed. Bernstein decried the trend of HRW and others, such as the UN Human Rights Council, in focusing on democracies, and falsely painting Israel as one of the “principal offenders” of human rights.

In the media, Ben Birnbaum in The New Republic (April 27, 2010) published a detailed report on HRW that highlighted the deeply-rooted bias among senior officials, in contradistinction to human rights principles. Similarly, Jonathan Foreman’s “Nazi Scandal engulfs Human Rights Watch” in the Sunday Times [UK], (March 28, 2010) illustrated how the revelation of HRW “senior military analyst” Marc Garlasco’s Nazi memorabilia obsession was indicative of far deeper problems at the organization.

Steinberg adds: “Hopefully the public scrutiny and pressure from Mr. Bernstein and others will lead to changes among the HRW officials that lead the exploitation of human rights. The new chairman, James Hoge, Jr., has the opportunity to implement the much delayed revamping of the MENA division in order to end the inherent bias and lack of credibility.”

Read NGO Monitor’s full report on HRW: http://www.ngo-monitor.org/article/hrw_in_more_bias_even_less_credibility

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Daled Amos

Because Africa Just Doesn’t Have Enough Landlocked Countries

Posted by admin | Posted in The Capitol | Posted on 12-01-2011

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The referendum in Southern Sudan to determine whether the region will secede from the north to form an independent country has reached the necessary 60% mark:

Southern Sudanese officials say they have received the 60 percent voter turnout needed to validate the region’s landmark independence referendum.

Anne Itto, a senior official for the Sudanese Peoples Liberation Movement, made the announcement Wednesday as the fourth day of voting got underway.

Official turnout figures are the responsibility of the South Sudan Referendum Commission, which has not confirmed that the threshold has been reached.

Nearly 4 million people are registered to vote in the referendum which is widely expected to lead to southern Sudan seceding from the rest of the country. Preliminary results are expected next week.

If, as most expect, the referendum succeeds, I have little doubt that Southern Sudan will declare its independence but then what? As this post at Coming Anarchy explains, dividing this baby is far from trivial. Add to that that most of the oil is in Southern Sudan (Sudan is currently Africa’s third largest oil producer) while access to the sea is in the north and I think it’s apparent that while secession would solve some problems it will create many others.

Here’s a partial list of landlocked countries in Africa:

  • Mali
  • Niger
  • Burkina Faso
  • Central African Republic
  • Ethiopia
  • Uganda
  • Rwanda
  • Burundi
  • Zambia
  • Zimbabwe
  • Malawi
  • Botswana

Many of the countries on the list have experienced famine, civil upset, and massacres. I can’t honestly say what role their being landlocked has played in those. It might be that the conditions that caused the boundaries to be drawn in that way also set the stage for later problems.




Outside the Beltway

Because Africa Just Doesn’t Have Enough Landlocked Countries

Posted by admin | Posted in The Capitol | Posted on 12-01-2011

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The referendum in Southern Sudan to determine whether the region will secede from the north to form an independent country has reached the necessary 60% mark:

Southern Sudanese officials say they have received the 60 percent voter turnout needed to validate the region’s landmark independence referendum.

Anne Itto, a senior official for the Sudanese Peoples Liberation Movement, made the announcement Wednesday as the fourth day of voting got underway.

Official turnout figures are the responsibility of the South Sudan Referendum Commission, which has not confirmed that the threshold has been reached.

Nearly 4 million people are registered to vote in the referendum which is widely expected to lead to southern Sudan seceding from the rest of the country. Preliminary results are expected next week.

If, as most expect, the referendum succeeds, I have little doubt that Southern Sudan will declare its independence but then what? As this post at Coming Anarchy explains, dividing this baby is far from trivial. Add to that that most of the oil is in Southern Sudan (Sudan is currently Africa’s third largest oil producer) while access to the sea is in the north and I think it’s apparent that while secession would solve some problems it will create many others.

Here’s a partial list of landlocked countries in Africa:

  • Mali
  • Niger
  • Burkina Faso
  • Central African Republic
  • Ethiopia
  • Uganda
  • Rwanda
  • Burundi
  • Zambia
  • Zimbabwe
  • Malawi
  • Botswana

Many of the countries on the list have experienced famine, civil upset, and massacres. I can’t honestly say what role their being landlocked has played in those. It might be that the conditions that caused the boundaries to be drawn in that way also set the stage for later problems.




Outside the Beltway

Newsweek: Cuba among ‘Best Countries in the World’

Posted by admin | Posted in The Capitol | Posted on 08-01-2011

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Newsweek magazine hailed Cuba among “The Best Countries in the World,” quality-of -life-wise. “Cuba outdoes its fellow middle-income countries in quality of life,” explains the 1993 “National Magazine Award for General Excellence” winner who recently fetched one dollar on the auction bloc.

Some perspective: Between two and three hundred people (out of an average population over the decades of 18 million) died trying to breach the Berlin Wall or otherwise escape East Germany—no runner-up in the “quality-of-life” awards, even by Newsweek standards.

Cuban refugees go to great lengths to escape Cuba’s “high” quality-of-life

Well, between sixty-five and eighty thousand people (out of an average population of 8 million over the decades) have died trying to escape Castro’s Cuba, Newsweek’s “quality-of-life” winner.

German Stalinism is now happily asunder and mourned nowhere. Cuban Stalinism is alive and kicking and lavished with economic succor by many of the same governments who celebrated the collapse of the Iron Curtain. Castro’s fiefdom is also glorified by everyone from PBS to the Congressional Black Caucus to Michael Moore to Newsweek.

“A simple way to take measure of a country is to look at how many want in… And how many want out,” famously quipped Tony Blair. Well, prior to Castro’s Stalinist coup in 1959, Cuba took in more immigrants (primarily from Europe) as a percentage of population than did the U.S., including the Ellis Island years. In the 1950’s, when Cubans were perfectly free to emigrate with all their property and U.S. visas were issued to them for the asking, fewer Cubans lived in the U.S. than Americans lived in Cuba.

“I can see that Cuba is much more impoverished than Haiti,” observed Gelsy Lavéque, a recent Haitian visitor to Cuba. “People here in Cuba are all sad. I watch on Cuban TV how they say Haitians are all poor. But in reality we’re less poor than Cubans. Yes, my family is poor but we have a car. We’re never hungry and were free and generally happy. Cubans, come to Haiti, we have a country much better and happier than yours.”

Fidel Castro converted a nation with a higher per capita income than half of Europe, the lowest inflation rate in the Western hemisphere, a larger middle class than Switzerland, a huge influx of immigrants and whose workers enjoyed the 8th industrial wages in the world into one that repels Haitians. And this after being lavished with Soviet subsidies that totaled almost ten Marshall Plans (into a nation of 7 million) -an economic feat that defies not only the laws of economics but seemingly the very laws of physics.

Most tragically, I daresay that many of the Cuban freedom-seekers died more horrifically than the German freedom-seekers. He’d be loath to admit it, being a Che-T-shirt-wearer and all, but Eric Burdon of the Animals wrote a song that resounds with many Cubans: “We gotta get outta this place — if it’s the last thing we ever do!”

The last thing, indeed, for an estimated one in three of the desperate Cuban escapes during the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s. This is according to a study by the late Cuban-American scholar Dr. Armando Lago. This hideous arithmetic translates into those tens of thousands of estimated deaths at sea over the past half-century.

A consistently hot item on Cuba’s black market is used motor oil: poor man’s shark-repellent, they call it. Perhaps for a few minutes. I suppose we all cling to false hopes when desperate. And people get no more desperate than when striving to flee the handiwork of Newsweek’s “Quality-of-Life” winner.

A seventeen-year-old named Orlando Travieso was armed with only a homemade paddle when he was machine-gunned to death in March 1991. His crime was trying to flee Cuba on a tiny raft. Loamis Gonzalez was fifteen when he was machine-gunned to death for the same crime. Owen Delgado was fifteen when Castro’s police dragged him out of the Ecuadorian Embassy where he sought asylum and clubbed him to death with rifle butts.

After so many machine-gun blasts kept disturbing their coastal subjects, the Castro brothers hit upon the scheme of having their Soviet helicopters hover over the escaping freedom-seekers, and rather than machine gun them to death, simply drop sandbags onto their rafts and rickety boats to demolish and sink them. Then the tiger sharks and hammerheads could do the Castroites’ deputy-work.

Four years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, Newsweek Magazine’s faves were machine-gunning desperate Cubans who tried to swim into our Guantanamo Base, then retrieving their corpses with gaffing hooks. “This is the most savage kind of behavior I’ve ever heard of,” said Robert Gelbard, deputy assistant secretary of state for Latin America during the Clinton administration (no less!). “This is even worse than what happened at the Berlin Wall!”

So what’s the alternative if you can’t flee Cuba? Well, in 1986, Cuba’s suicide rate reached twenty-four per thousand — making it double Latin America’s average, making it triple Cuba’s pre-Castro rate, making Cuban women the most suicidal in the world, and making suicide the primary cause of death for Cubans aged 15-48. At that point, the Cuban government ceased publishing the statistics on the self-slaughter. The figures became state secrets. The implications horrified even the Castroites.

But apparently the implications did not faze Newsweek.

Big Peace

Guess What? Islamic Countries Most Dangerous for Christians

Posted by admin | Posted in The Capitol | Posted on 06-01-2011

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Despite communist North Korea topping the list for the ninth consecutive year, the most dangerous countries in which to practice Christianity are overwhelmingly Islamic ones, according to the annual Open Doors World Watch List.

Of the top 10 countries on the 2011 WWL, eight have Islamic majorities and persecution of Christians has increased in seven of them. They are:

  • Iran, which clamps down on a growing house church movement;
  • Afghanistan, where thousands of believers cluster deep underground;
  • Saudi Arabia, which still refuses to allow any Saudi person to convert to Christianity;
  • Somalia, ruled by bloodthirsty terrorists threatening to kill Christian aid workers who feed Somalia’s starving, impoverished people;
  • Maldives, which mistakenly boasts it is 100 percent Islamic;
  • Yemen with its determination to expel all Christian workers; and
  • Iraq, which saw extremists massacre 58 Christians in a Baghdad cathedral on Oct. 31.

Of the top 30 countries on the list, only seven have a source other than Islamic extremists as the main persecutors of Christians.

The top 10 in order are North Korea, Iran, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Maldives, Yemen, Iraq, Uzbekistan and Laos, which has a Communist government. Iraq is new to the top 10 list while Mauritania dropped out, going from No. 8 to No. 13.

The annual World Watch List is compiled by the research department of Open Doors International. It tracks the shifting conditions under which Christians live in 77 societies and then ranks the top 50 where it is hardest to practice the Christian faith.

“Being a Muslim Background Believer or ‘Secret Believer’ in a Muslim-dominated country puts a bulls-eye on the backs of Christians,” said Dr. Carl Moeller, president and CEO of Open Doors USA. “There is either no freedom to believe or little freedom of religion. And as the 2011 World Watch List reflects, the persecution of Christians in these Muslim countries continues to increase.

The country with the largest Christian community on the list is Pakistan with more than 5 million believers. One of those is Asia Noreen who was sentenced to death on a false blasphemy charge, Moeller said.

Pakistani Christians also faced a sharp erosion of their religious liberty with the country leaping from No. 14 to No. 11 on the current list, according to the news release announcing the 2011 list. Twenty-nine Christians were martyred in the reporting period with at least one killing occurring every month. Four Christians were sentenced to long terms in jail for blasphemy against Islam, at least 58 Christians were kidnapped, more than 100 Christians were assaulted and 14 churches and properties were damaged.

Other countries that rose markedly on the new WWL were Afghanistan, up from No. 6 to No. 3, especially in the wake of ugly demonstrations when footage of Muslims being baptized was shown on network television. Dozens of Christians from the tiny Afghan church have had to move due to subsequent death threats, and in August a 10-person medical aid team from a Christian organization was slaughtered.

The year’s grisliest headlines were found in No. 26 Nigeria, however, where a staggering 2,000 Christians lost their lives in riots caused by Muslim extremists in some of the northern states in the country. Tension has been growing for more than a generation in northern Nigeria, and escalated after 1999 when 12 northern states adopted Sharia (strict Islamic law). On Christmas Eve Compass Direct News reported the killing of a Baptist pastor and five other Christians in northern Nigeria. More killings of Christians were also reported in the last two weeks.

Egypt is ranked No. 19 on the WWL and could be a focus of persecution this year as 21 Christians were killed in a bomb blast on New Year’s Day outside the Church of Two Saints in Alexandria.

Big Peace

Why are so many South American countries recognizing the Palestinian state?

Posted by admin | Posted in The Capitol | Posted on 06-01-2011

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The Palestinian foreign ministry has announced that in the coming months, Chile and Paraguay will join the growing number of countries in Latin America recognizing a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders.  Brazil, Argentina, Bolivia, Uruguay, Ecuador and Venezuela have all announced support for a Palestinian state in rapid succession in the last month. The LA Times‘ Daniel Hernandez writes:

On Saturday, Chilean President Sebastian Pinera met one-on-one with Abbas in Brazil during the inauguration of Dilma Rousseff as Brazil’s first female president. Abbas attended the inauguration in Brasilia to "thank the presidents" that have recognized the Palestinian state, reported the Chilean daily La Tercera (link in Spanish).

Chile is home to a significant population
of about 350,000 mostly Christian Palestinians (link in Spanish). Like
many of its neighbors, Chile also has a large Jewish community. A
Jewish leader in Chile called the decisions to recognize a Palestinian
state "imprudent" (link in Spanish).

The declarations have confounded Israel, as none of the South American countries have been directly involved in U.S.-led peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. Those negotiations remain deadlocked.

The Palestinian Authority also plans to open an embassy in Ecuador soon, and Pinera plans to visit the West Bank in three months.

As blogger Greg Weeks notes, the interesting thing about this development is that it appears to be uncoordinated. As none of these countries have really involved themselves heavily in Israeli-Palestinian politics before, it’s hard not to read this in the context of U.S.-South American relations and Brazil’s rising influence. Uruguay was actually the first in the latest wave of Palestinian recognition, but the snowball really starting rolling after Brazil’s announcemnt on Dec. 3, one of former President Lula da Silva’s last acts in office. 

Under Lula, Brazil has become an increasingly important player in Mideast politics, often taking positions directly at odds with U.S. policy. But the fact that governments ranging on the political spectrum from Sebastian Pinera’s Chile to Hugo Chavez’s Venezuela have been so quick to follow Brazil’s lead on a political gesture guaranteed to annoy Washington, is a pretty good sign of where power is shifting on the continent. 

The country to watch here is Colombia, traditionally staunchly pro-American, but increasingly, under President Juan Manuel Santos, willing to reach out to regional rivals. If Colombia signs on to supporting the Palestinian state — they’ve been silent so far — the Lula-Amorim foreign-policy legacy is going to start looking pretty impressive.

FP Passport

Italian Foreign Minister: EU aid to Muslim countries should be tied to treatment of Christians

Posted by admin | Posted in The Capitol | Posted on 03-01-2011

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At last, someone is talking sense. However, it is extraordinarily unlikely that such a measure will ever be adopted. “‘Tie EU aid to rights for Christians’ says Frattini,” from ANSA, January 3 (thanks to Insubria):

Rome, January 3 – European Union aid should be tied to respect for human rights in countries where Christian minorities are under attack, Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said Monday after a New Year’s Day church bombing in the Egyptian city of Alexandria that killed 21 Coptic Christians.

EU aid “should be reduced if not eliminated” for “those countries that do not collaborate” in protecting Christians, Frattini said.

“We have to move from monitoring to action,” said the foreign minister, stressing that Italy could not remain “isolated” in the battle for Christians’ rights around the world.

The EU “should work with those countries that collaborate and encourage them,” he said….

On December 22 Frattini blasted the European Union for not doing more to combat Christian persecutions in Iraq and other Middle Eastern Countries….

”Frankly, it is a little sad that Europe isn’t reacting on this issue as it should”, he said.

Italy is set to present a resolution to the United Nations on religious freedom which aims to stop this persecution and it has the backing of the EU, while several non-EU countries have expressed ”great interest”….

Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Zimbabwe and Nigeria are among the other countries where there have been anti-Christian campaigns and attacks. More than 80 people were killed in bombings in the central Nigerian city of Jos on Christmas Eve, sparking clashes between Muslim and Christian youths….

Jihad Watch

Assange: I’ve got the names of Arab officials spying on their own countries for the CIA

Posted by admin | Posted in The Capitol | Posted on 30-12-2010

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The Internets are buzzing about an interview Julian Assange gave to Al Jazeera’s Arabic channel Wednesday, in which the WikiLeaks frontman reportedly threatened to release cables showing that various Arab officials were working with the CIA.

He vowed to do so "if I am killed or detained for a long time."

“These officials are spies for the U.S. in their countries,” Assange said, according to Qatar’s Peninsula newspaper. More:

The interviewer, Ahmed Mansour, said at the start of the interview
which was a continuation of last week’s interface, that Assange had even
shown him the files that contained the names of some top Arab officials
with alleged links with the CIA. […]

Some Arab countries even have torture houses where Washington regularly
sends ‘suspects’ for ‘interrogation and torture’, he said.

He then complained, "Washington is also projecting me as a terrorist and wants to convince the world that I am another Osama bin Laden."

Observers have long speculated about the massive "insurance" file that WikiLeaks posted on the Pirate Bay, which has by now been downloaded by thousand of people all over the world. Opening the file requires an encryption key that presumably would be released upon Assange’s incarceration or untimely death. I guess it’s the motherlode.

I have my doubts about these new claims, though. The CIA vigorously protects the identities of its sources, and would have no reason to let any old schmo at a U.S. embassy know their names. It is also highly doubtful that the cables would talk about "torture houses" — the United States has always denied that it (knowingly) outsources rough treatment to foreign governments. Not everyone believes this, mind you, but I’d be surprised if any embassy cables said otherwise.

Maybe Assange and Mansour are confusing ordinary visits of Arab officials to U.S. diplomats with "spying," but it’s hard to say for sure without seeing the cables themselves.

FP Passport

US Spending on K-12 Education Tops Almost All Developed Countries

Posted by admin | Posted in The Capitol | Posted on 29-12-2010

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This chart compares K-12 education expenditures per pupil in each of the world’s major industrial powers. As we can see, with the exception of Switzerland, the United States spends more than any other country on education, an average of $ 91,700 per student between the ages of six and fifteen.

That’s not only more than other countries spend but it is also more than better achieving countries spend – the United States spends a third more than Finland, a country that consistently ranks near the top in science, reading, and math testing.


Big Government

Pakistan: Islamic supremacist leader claims that Western countries jail people for blasphemy against Jesus Christ

Posted by admin | Posted in The Capitol | Posted on 29-12-2010

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And his audience in Pakistan almost certainly believed him. “Religious parties announce strike on Dec 31,” from the Express Tribune, December 28 (thanks to Block Ness):

KARACHI: Religio-political parties including Jamaat-i-Islami (JI), Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam, Jamait Ulema-i-Pakistan (JUP), Jamiat Ahle-Hadith, Tanzeem-i-Islami, Tahreek-i-Islami have announced a complete shutter-down strike across Pakistan on December 31, 2010.

JI’s deputy chief, Professor Abdul Ghafoor Ahmed, said on Tuesday that the strike will be held to protest against the “conspiracies” of present rulers to repeal the blasphemy law. Ghafoor said that he regretted that “anti-Islam elements and their local agents” were out to repeal the blasphemy laws in Pakistan to achieve their “malicious goals” against Muslims.

He said that the blasphemy laws had been drafted by clerics from all schools of thought and passed by the National Assembly unanimously.

Ghafoor said that sentences for blasphemy against Jesus Christ are incorporated in the laws of western states, including the United States and the United Kingdom among other countries. He said that no religion in the world allows blasphemy against messengers of God.

The JI deputy chief further said that the JI “pities that some so-called non-governmental organizations (NGOs) of human rights were supporting blasphemy and blasphemers”. He called on the trader’s community and transporters to take active part in the strike.

In addition to the strike, the religio-political parties will hold a mass congregation in Nishtar Park in Karachi on January 9, 2011.

Jihad Watch

The War On Drugs Is Fought In 63 Countries

Posted by admin | Posted in The Capitol | Posted on 27-12-2010

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by Conor Friedersdorf

Courtesy of Wikileaks, here's a rundown of how the War on Drugs plays out in various nations, as interpreted by the New York Times:

– In Panama, an urgent BlackBerry message from the president to the American ambassador demanded that the D.E.A. go after his political enemies: “I need help with tapping phones.”

– In Sierra Leone, a major cocaine-trafficking prosecution was almost upended by the attorney general’s attempt to solicit $ 2.5 million in bribes.

– In Guinea, the country’s biggest narcotics kingpin turned out to be the president’s son, and diplomats discovered that before the police destroyed a huge narcotics seizure, the drugs had been replaced by flour.

– Leaders of Mexico’s beleaguered military issued private pleas for closer collaboration with the drug agency, confessing that they had little faith in their own country’s police forces.

– Cables from Myanmar, the target of strict United States sanctions, describe the drug agency informants’ reporting both on how the military junta enriches itself with drug money and on the political activities of the junta’s opponents.

I've often remarked upon how our drug laws are complicit in creating a black market that destabilizes dozens of nations and ravages countless lives. What this story makes me think is that meddling in the affairs of foreign countries to this degree is going to provoke a whole different kind of terrorist to come after us sooner or later.

The D.E.A. now has 87 offices in 63 countries and close partnerships with governments that keep the Central Intelligence Agency at arm’s length.

Because of the ubiquity of the drug scourge, today’s D.E.A. has access to foreign governments, including those, like Nicaragua’s and Venezuela’s, that have strained diplomatic relations with the United States. Many are eager to take advantage of the agency’s drug detection and wiretapping technologies.

If only the conservatives who are always agitating to shut down a whole federal agency would pick this one. If only liberals wouldn't keep waging the War on Drugs everytime they are in charge of government.





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The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan

Jihad attacks threatened against “the unbeliever and Christian countries celebrating Christmas”

Posted by admin | Posted in The Capitol | Posted on 25-12-2010

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“The Zero Hour has arrived” for the forces of rage and hate. More on this story. “‘Jihadist’ issues Christmas bombing threat,” from AFP, December 24:

WASHINGTON (AFP) – A “jihadist” in an audiotaped threat said fireworks displays will set off terrorist bombs in countries celebrating Christmas, the SITE monitoring group said.

The recording, titled “The Zero Hour has arrived” and directed to “the unbeliever and Christian countries celebrating Christmas,” lasts one minute, three seconds and bears the voice of a member of the Shumukh al-Islam forum, said the US-based monitor.

The speaker, according to SITE, said that failure to heed warnings to cease bloodshed in Muslim countries would result in attacks….

It also comes amid Nigeria’s warning that Al-Qaeda-linked militants were likely planning attacks during the Christmas holiday, and the accidental death of a suicide bomber in Stockholm two weeks ago who apparently intended to kill Christmas shoppers.

His “accidental death” came as he was trying to explode a jihad bomb in a crowded area.

Jihad Watch

Sweden deporting Christian refugees from Muslim countries

Posted by admin | Posted in The Capitol | Posted on 20-12-2010

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A response to Muslim violence?
American Thinker Blog

Countries Agree To Redistribute Wealth For Climate Change, As Snow Collapses Metrodome

Posted by admin | Posted in The Capitol | Posted on 12-12-2010

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Big doings in exotic Cancun, doings which highlight exactly what this whole farce is all about

Delegates from 193 nations agreed Saturday on a new global framework to help developing countries curb their carbon output and cope with the effects of climate change, but they postponed the harder question of precisely how industrialized and major emerging economies will share the task of making deeper greenhouse-gas emission cuts in the coming decade.

After an all-night session that included a face-off between Mexican Foreign Secretary Patricia Espinosa and Bolivia’s U.N. ambassador, Pablo Solon, members of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) agreed to create a “Green Climate Fund” that will transfer money from rich countries to poor ones; research centers that will ease the transfer of clean-energy technology; and a system in which developing nations can be compensated for keeping rain forests intact.

And this solves anthropogenic global warming how, exactly? That’s the question I would ask, were I a climate alarmist. Because this framework pretty much does zip to solve the issue of mankind’s release of greenhouse gases, and I while, as a leftist climate alarmist, I like other people having their wealth taken and transferred, I’m so upset about others not being forced to cut back on their GHG output that I’m going to jump in my Suburban and drive to a demonstration…..well, maybe not today. Too cold.

The new framework encapsulates the current commitments that both industrialized and developing nations have made to cut their carbon emissions over the next decade, though it notes that these will not meet the agreed-upon goal of keeping the rise in global temperatures from exceeding 2 degrees Celsius, or 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit, above preindustrial levels. To achieve that, industrialized countries would have cut their emissions between 25 and 40 percent compared with 1990 levels in the next decade, as opposed to the 16 percent they have promised.

So, essentially, after all the partying by all the attendees who flew in on airplanes which are bad for AGW (I sure hope they peed first), they have accomplished nothing but looking to transfer wealth, which is a hallmark of a talking point by the modern Left.

Meanwhile, in reality land, where the GISS temperatures are out of line with the rest of the world, the snow season is off to a roaring start, including the Minneapolis area. The NY Giants had already been forced to land in Kansas City, due to heavy snow, and the game went from being postponed till late Sunday, to being moved to Monday night, and now

The snow and wind has proved too much for the Metrodome roof.

Roy Terwilliger, Chairman of the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission, tells 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS the panels of the Metrodome roof started giving way around 5 a.m. and deflating.

Terwilliger says there is currently snow on the Metrodome field and the already delay Vikings game is now in question once again. He say Dome officials will be holding a conference call at 8 a.m. with the NFL and the teams to discuss how to move forward.

Now they have to determine if they will even be able to play the game Monday night. Obviously, this must have been caused by man induced climate change. I means, sheesh, the last time it collapsed was back in 1983, so, it must be extreme weather caused by AGW. Because it makes quite a bit of sense in my mind for greenhouse gases, which are supposed to raise temperatures, to cause extreme snow and cold and wind. So far, this storm, which caused huge traffic problems, including almost a thousand spinouts, has also postponed Gophers games, bogged the trains down, and made I-94 impassable, is close to being a record, being in the top three storms for the area at this time.

Crossed at Pirate’s Cove. Follow me on Twitter @WilliamTeach. sit back and Relax. we’ll dRive!

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