July 2008

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Says ‘the most important thing to do
is not just offer words, but offer deeds’

(Patricia McDonnell for The Boston Globe)

Sen. Barack Obama told a meeting in Chicago the U.S. should review how it can make amends for “offenses” committed during its history.

And one author is speculating that might even include reparations for al-Qaida soldiers, since, after all, they’ve been held in violation of their “rights.”

Obama’s comments came in a meeting with members of UNITY ’08, an event for journalists who claim membership in various minorities.

Obama, according to the report in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, stopped just short of endorsing an official U.S. apology to various groups. He said instead the nation should acknowledge treating certain groups poorly.

“There’s no doubt that when it comes to our treatment of Native Americans as well as other persons of color in this country, we’ve got some very sad and difficult things to account for,” Obama told the convention.

He has told Hawaii reporters he supports a federal plan to recognize native Hawaiians. He was asked for his thoughts about a formal U.S. apology to American Indians.


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“I personally would want to see our tragic history, or the tragic elements of our history, acknowledged,” he told conventioneers.

“I consistently believe that when it comes to whether it’s Native Americans or African-American issues or reparations, the most important thing for the U.S. government to do is not just offer words, but offer deeds,” he said.

The issue of reparations to African-Americans for the historic slave trade or Native Americans for the “invasion” by Europeans periodically has been raised. Several years ago a lawsuit was filed claiming damages for labor at a current value of $1.4 trillion.

At Renew America, Michael Gaynor also publicly wondered about Obama’s statements to a recent “Meet the Press.”

Obama said, “The biggest problem that we have in terms of race relations, I think, is dealing with the legacy of past discrimination which has resulted in extreme disparities in terms of poverty, in terms of wealth and in terms of income. Our inner cities are a legacy of what happened in the past. And the question is less assigning blame or rooting out active racism, because that’s not the reason that those inner cities are in such bad shape, but rather figuring out are we willing to make the investments to deal with that past history so we can move forward to a brighter future? And that involves investing in early childhood education, fixing the schools in those communities, being willing to work in terms of job retraining. And those are serious investments.”

Asked Gaynor, “Is ‘serious investments’ code for ‘reparations’? And how expensive and devastating would Obama’s income redistribution policy be?”

The comments were being discussed just as the U.S. House of Representatives issued an apology to black Americans for the “fundamental injustice, cruelty, brutality and inhumanity of slavery and Jim Crow” segregation.”

The resolution sponsored by Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., a white Jew who earlier this year tried unsuccessfully to join the Congressional Black Caucus, was passed on a voice vote.

In February, the Senate apologized to Native Americans, and in 2005 it apologized for standing by during the lynching of blacks last century.

But at the American Spectator, Jeffrey Lord, CEO of QubeTV and former Reagan White House political director, said the logical extension of such thought obviously could include reparations for al-Qaida.

“Does Barack Obama believe it’s time for America to apologize to al-Qaida?” he asked. “You think I’m joking, right? Wrong.”

“The push has begun among Obama’s fellow-liberals for reparations to Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaida warriors. Look no further than the Los Angeles Times review of the new book by liberal journalist Jane Mayer, ‘The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How The War on Terror Turned Into a War on American Ideals.’ Mayer’s indictment of the Bush administration’s fight against terrorism has predictably received glowing reviews from the gatekeepers of liberalism, including a July 15th review from Times staff writer Tim Rutten.

“In wonderfully liberal style that is beyond parody, Rutten uses a book review to endorse the idea of paying money to Osama’s fighters who, in the eyes of liberals, have been denied their ‘right’ of habeas corpus at Guantanamo. The denial of habeas to non-Americans captured on foreign battlefields is, of course, also a major campaign point for Senator Obama. Obama, restating his long-held position about captured al-Qaida fighters having the right of habeas corpus, was prompted by the recent 5-4 Supreme Court decision in Boumediene v. Bush.

“The liberals on the Court, with the mind-boggling addition of Reagan appointee Anthony Kennedy, held that contrary to Bush administration and congressional policy, not to mention all of American history, the prisoners of war or ‘detainees’ picked up off the battlefields (in this case Afghanistan and Iraq) are in fact entitled to the same constitutional rights as American citizens.”

Obama’s allies now are “lobbying not simply for habeas corpus rights for al-Qaida but reparations as well,” Lord wrote.

“In other words, if you have been captured on the field of battle fighting the U.S. military on behalf of the global jihad and, as a result, are now on an extended stay at Gitmo, liberals feel the appropriate policy of the United States government is to 1) apologize for capturing you and 2) pay you some cold American cash to ease your pain and humiliation.”

Lord cited the Nuremberg trials for war criminals from Nazi Germany. “We still gave them a day in court and that taught the entire world about who we are but also the basic principles of rule of law,” he quoted Obama saying.

But he said that’s wrong. “If America’s only problem was with a sum total of about 1,800 German soldiers, why all that disturbing fuss known as World War II.”

In reality, half a million prisoners of war were “stashed in 511 internment camps sprinkled all around the good old USA from North Carolina to Iowa to California,” he wrote. “Not a single one of these men were given their habeas corpus rights. They were not tried. Not one. They were held as prisoners, forced to do whatever labor their American captors thought suitable until America had won the war.”

He continued: “Will Obama … have the courage to follow [the] arguments to their logical conclusions? If the idea is to have American taxpayers fork over damages to Osama’s men, why not Hitler’s? Where are the trial lawyers who have been flocking to Guantanamo? The size of the damage pot in a suit against the U.S. government for the treatment of Nazis would, one suspects, be considerable.”

“What is the difference between, say, German detainees Hans, “R,” and Jerry and an al-Qaida Gitmo resident named Abdullah Salih al Ajmi? The first three remained lawyerless while they waited out World War II in Iowa and Minnesota. The last, Abdullah, went through Gitmo’s thoroughly lawyered process and was released. On March 23, 2008, he showed up in Mosul, Iraq, when he drove a truck packed with 5,000 to 10,000 pounds of explosives into an Iraqi Army base. He killed 13 Iraqi soldiers and wounded 42 on his last mission, a mission that would never have occurred were he still in Gitmo.”

Source : http://www.worldnetdaily.com

Irani officials have arrested 16 Iranians in Malakshahr, on the outskirts of the central Iranian city of Esfahān. The group, consisting of six women, eight men and two adolescents, are charged with conversion from Islam to Christianity. If found guilty of the allegation, they could face the death penalty.

Flag of Iran

Flag of Iran

Evangelical churches in Isfahan have received orders not to allow any Muslims to attend their ceremonies or to facilitate in any conversions. However, a small private home which has been converted to an evangelical church was taking part in the conversion and baptism of three new members of the church; the group was taken into custody. The owners of the home were an elderly couple who, according to local reports, were beaten up before they were taken to an unmarked jailing facility.

Back in April, 10 Christians were arrested in the city of Shiraz as well.

According to Islamic tradition, the act of abandoning the Muslim faith, denominated as the crime of “Ertedad”, is in violation of the words of the Prophet and should be punished with death. A bill is currently before the Iranian parliament that, if approved, would mean the death penalty for the ground

source : wikinews

C. P. Gajurel, senior Politburo member of Nepal’s Maoists,
There are question marks over Nepal’s participation at the 15th SAARC summit which Colombo is hosting as a very prestigious event. The Maoists are locked in a tussle for power in the landlocked Himalayan and according to reports from Kathmandu, have asked caretaker Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala to call off his planned visit to Sri Lanka.

“Only a new government should represent the country (Nepal) at the Saarc summit failing which the summit should be called off”, Maoist leader CP Gajurel, who is also in-charge of the party’s foreign affairs cell, said in Kathmandu. He even moved the intervention of the Constituent Assembly with a request to stop Koirala from gong to Colombo.

Though the Nepali political scene is very fluid, it is possible that Maoists and the Nepal Congress and other parties would find a way out of the impasse and elect a new Prime Minister. Much depends on how the Maoists make their moves since they are pitted against Nepali Congress, Terai leaders and mainstream Communist leaders who are on the same wave length.

The Nepali impasse is, however, unlikely to result in a postponement of the Colombo summit. That is because of indications that in case, Koirala fails to get the green signal, he may request President Rambaran Yadav to represent Nepal at the summit. This was not for the first time that SAARC was lost in a dilemma over who should represent a country. In the past, General Zia-ul-Haq, who was calling the shots as the President of the country, sent his Prime Minister Juenjo to the Bangalore summit in the eighties to the annoyance of his hosts.

South Asia has evolved an unwritten convention has been that the Head of the Government would attend the summit. The underlying idea is that the representation at the summit level should be at such a level that it would facilitate decisions and implementation.

Interestingly, participation at the political executive level and 14 summits later, the South Asia grouping continues to remain a talking shop. It continues to bring forth the question ‘How useful is SAARC’ but without any one willing to offer a ready answer or a labored reply.

Even the much talked about ‘visa on arrival’ facility has not become universal. Trade both bilateral and intra-regional is still in low volumes, notwithstanding periodical announcements of MFN, preferential trade, counter trade and zero duty imports and what have you. Barrier free movement across borders and identification of regional transport connectivity are still mirages for SAARC which wants to emulate EU and ASEAN

Terrorism To Dominate Colombo Agenda

Expectedly terror is going to dominate the agenda at the two-day Colombo summit with India, reeling under the impact of blasts in Kabul, Bangalore and Ahmedabad, expect to push for convention on Mutual Assistance in criminal matters.

The convention would provide a broad framework for member countries to cooperate and assist in the investigation and prosecution of crime. It expects member countries to grant to each other the ‘widest possible’ measure of mutual legal assistance in criminal matters, according to the draft convention which received the Indian cabinet’s approval this past week.

Even if the new convention sees the light of the day how effective it would be in the absence of ratification by member nations. As happened in respect of the regional anti-terrorism convention which was signed in 1987.

The SAARC Regional Convention on Suppression of Terrorism provides for sharing of information on and dealing with terrorist offences based on well-established principles of international law. It made it clear abundantly that ‘contracting States’ shall cooperate among themselves to the extent permitted by their national laws. The convention paved the way for setting up by 1990 in Colombo the Saarc Terrorist Offences Monitoring Desk. It has a lofty ideal, nay charter; collate, analyse and disseminate information about terrorist incidences, tactics, strategies and methods.

This anti-terrorism convention is what makes Saarc invite Sarcasm. Member countries are still to enter into bilateral extradition agreements. Says Mahendra Lama, Vice Chancellor of University of Sikkim: “The 15th Saarc summit will remain a meaningless regional ritual as long as bilaterals on terrorism remain brushed under the carpet”.

Security Cover For PM Singh

India is not taking any chances with the security of the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during his stay in Colombo. As reported in the Asian Tribune a while ago, the security arrangements were tied up during the visit of national security advisor M K Narayanan and foreign secretary Menon.

Special Protection Group (SPG) which ensures proximity security to Indian PMs at home and aboard and National Security Guards (NSG) commandos will be on duty in Colombo. A 100-strong contingent of this special force has been airlifted to the Lankan capital, it is said here in Delhi. The Indian Navy has deployed two of its frontline warships for keeping a strict vigil on the Lanka coastal waters, while the coast guard has stepped up patrolling the Palk Bay and the Gulf of Mannar while the Indian Air Force (IAF) has kept its bases in South India on an operational alert.

– Asian Tribune –

Elisia V. Gonzales.

The Prime Minister of Tonga (pictured) is to receive the king’s powers in 2010
Image: Elisia V. Gonzales.

George Tupou V, the current king of Tonga has announced that he will give up his position as an absolute monarch by relinquishing most of his powers. A spokesperson for the king explained the decision. He said that the people “favour a more representative, elected parliament, the king agrees with them.”

The spokesperson said that Tupou would be guided by the Prime Minister, Feleti Sevele, “in all matters of governance.” The transition to democracy is due to occur in 2010.

In 2006 eight people were killed in Tonga during a pro-democracy rally. Protests like this have resulted in increased pressure being placed on the monarchy to embrace democracy.

Feleti Sevele became the first democratically elected Prime Minister of Tonga after his election in 2006. At that time he was one of very few ministers who were not appointed by the king, and the power of the PM was limited.

Barack Obama addresses a crowd of over 200,000 people in Tiergarten, Berlin.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has lifted a ban on Iraqi athletes participating in the Beijing Olympics. The IOC placed a ban on the country’s participation on July 24 claiming a political influence within Iraq’s national Olympic committee. This came after the Iraqi government’s suspension of the National Olympic Committee (NOC) of Iraq in May 2008.

The 2008 Summer Olympics Logo

The 2008 Summer Olympics Logo

The decision to remove the ban is a result of the Iraqi government’s agreement to allow free elections for their National Olympic Committee while under international scrutiny. “The National Olympic Committee will have fair elections before the end of November,” said Pere Miro, Director of the IOC’s relation with NOC’s. In the meantime, Iraq’s NOC will be run by a interim Committee approved by the IOC.

Even though the ban has been lifted, five of the seven athletes are still unable to participate due to the final date of selections having passed. Two athletes participating in sprinting and rowing are expected to compete.

There has been some who believed that Iraq has been treated wrongly in the matter of their NOC. Ahmed Tabour, head of the Cultural and Sports Committee stated that “Iraq was never suspended during the days of Saddam [Hussein], who personally appointed the national Olympic committee. The Iraqi people need hope, and sport gives them a lot of hope.”

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