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Atlantic Free Press News

Thu

08

Nov

2007

National Lawyers Guild Strongly Condemns State Of Emergency In Pakistan, Urges Bush To Suspend Aid
Thursday, 08 November 2007 12:36
Washington DC (Atlantic Free Press) - The National Lawyers Guild strongly condemns the State of Emergency imposed on the people of Pakistan and the attacks on lawyers and the judiciary. The NLG demands that President Musharraf immediately withdraw the emergency declaration of November 3, 2007, the Provisional Constitutional Order No. 1 of 2007 (PCO), which suspends Pakistan's Constitution. This declaration includes suspension of the right to life and liberty, freedom of speech, assembly and association, and equal protection of the law, all of which are guaranteed by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Pakistani Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry is being held under house arrest, and over 2500 lawyers in different parts of Pakistan including the President of the Supreme Court Bar Association and other leaders of the Bar including officials of the Democratic Lawyers Association of Pakistan, have been detained. Journalists said the government ordered that journalists who brought "ridicule or disrepute" to Musharraf could face three years in prison.

The real motivation for the PCO is not to defend the country against "Islamic extremists" but to maintain Musharraf in power. The State of Emergency was declared after the Supreme Court indicated it would overturn the results of the illegitimate election that preserved Musharraf's rule. Musharraf seeks to prevent public protests that lawyers and political parties were organizing.

The lawyers and the judiciary are resisting efforts by Musharraf to violate Pakistan's Constitution and to interfere with the judiciary. The NLG salutes the lawyers of Pakistan for their principled stand in upholding the Constitution, independence of the judiciary, and the rule of law. The NLG supports the call by the lawyers of Pakistan to refuse to practice before judges who have agreed to take oath under the PCO. The PCO has been held to be unconstitutional and illegal by a 7-judge bench of the Pakistan Supreme Court. Chief Justice Chaudhry and other judges of the Supreme Court and of the High Courts who have refused to take oath under the illegal PCO continue to hold office and cannot be removed.

The NLG demands the immediate release of the lawyers and others from custody and/or house arrest and withdrawal of all restrictions illegally imposed. The NLG further urges President Bush to discontinue all aid to Pakistan until the state of emergency is lifted, the Constitution is no longer suspended, and Musharraf provides assurance that the January 2008 elections will proceed as planned.

Founded in 1937 as an alternative to the American Bar Association, which did not admit people of color, the National Lawyers Guild is the oldest and largest public interest/human rights bar organization in the United States. Its headquarters are in New York and it has chapters in every state.

 

Wed

07

Nov

2007

Daily Roundup from Willard Payne (Night Watch Information Service)
Wednesday, 07 November 2007 09:36
by Willard Payne
MOSCOW - As Turkey continues to mass troops on Iraq’s border in preparation for a major offensive against the Kurdish fighters in northern Iraq, Kurdish leaders are turning to Moscow for support. RIA reports Babakr Khoshavi, the Kurdish representative of Iraqi Kurdistan to the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), which is headed by Russia, spoke at a news conference in Moscow and stated the Kurdish leader Masoud Barzani wrote a letter to Russian leaders requesting Moscow’s assistance in a negotiated settlement. Babakr continued by saying, “Russia has historically good relations with the Kurds and I believe it is quite possible for Russia to play a mediating role.” The reason for the historically good relations is due to Russia’s historical wars and regional rivalry with Turkey, a rivalry that has intensified for more than a year when Ankara, as did Teheran, increased its military support of the Georgian government in Tbilisi in an effort to prevent Russia and the industrialized world from controlling the resources of the Caucasus, a crossroads of energy pipelines, the most strategic theatre in World War III.

I suspect both Moscow and the Kurdish leaders are aware no peaceful negotiated settlement is possible and the public discussion of that is just a publicity smokescreen to cover the military assistance Moscow is planning to send in order to make Ankara-Teheran’s invasion at least difficult if not defeated. Since Ankara-Teheran support Tbilisi, then Moscow in return supports the Kurds in: Arbil-Mosul-Kirkuk-Sulaimaniyah and Russia may not mind if Turkey-Iran realize it. It is for this reason Moscow and with support from the West, has re-activated the strategic bombers in Russia’s air force. Concerning Ankara’s invasion Babakr remarked, “Turkey has repeatedly attempted to enter the area but those operations invariably failed.” He said Ankara encountered “extreme difficulty” in accessing PKK bases and of course Washington has agreed to assist in providing whatever information/intelligence the Pentagon possessed as to the bases location and strength.

But information from Washington could be of limited use at best since the PKK are quite mobile and with Moscow’s support will soon be more heavily armed. Relations between Moscow and Ankara-Teheran are about to take a more realistic official turn for the worse. Ankara should realize the West values its relations with Russia more than it values its relations with Turkey. The increasing and massive investment in Russia by financial capitals in the West is a constant reminder.
Sderot - INN reports more than 3,000 residents of the Israeli town Sderot near Gaza have fled in the past six months due to Qassam rocket and mortar attacks. Today four more Qassams were fired from northern Gaza but fell in open areas of the Negev desert. The population of the town was 20,000.
Litani River - There is more detail about the maneuvers Hezbollah recently conducted over three days in secrecy south of the Litani river in Lebanon which is less than twenty miles from Israel’s border. The French newspaper Le Figaro reported several days before the exercises Hezbollah was no longer confined to the area north of the Litani but is now able to expand its position further south including into areas patrolled by the 13,000 troops of UNIFIL, the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon with most of the troops European. The Le Figaro article mentioned eyewitness accounts of caravans of trucks moving into the area and seeing Hezbollah fighters digging into orchards and immediately covering it up. They also reported hearing suspicious explosions. What the fighters were digging are probably arms caches for storing weapons and explosives while the explosions heard could have been the construction of bunkers and fortifications.

Israeli warplanes dropped flares over the area Monday night perhaps as a way of reminding Hezbollah they are under observation. Lebanon Prime Minister Fouad Siniora pretended to know nothing about the maneuvers, but a French military source stated Lebanon’s government was fully aware of Hezbollah’s activities, “Yet, for now, it (Beirut) is not doing anything about it.” Siniora and Beirut would require Teheran’s permission and Iran wants Lebanon as a major battlefield in this theatre.

Daily Roundup from Willard Payne (Night Watch Information Service)
 

Mon

05

Nov

2007

Daily Roundup from Willard Payne (Night Watch Information Service)
Monday, 05 November 2007 22:37
by Willard Payne

AMRITSAR - November 2, the day before the State of Emergency in Pakistan, Indian railway officials in Delhi received a letter from the Kashmir based Islamic militant group Jaish-e-Mohammed, which threatened to attack Indian railway stations all across northern India including the stations in Amritsar, Ludihiana and Delhi. The letter also stated the group intends to attack religious shrines including Vaishnodevi.

For the past few years the two main targets by the Islamic militant network in India, supported by Teheran-Islamabad, have been railway stations and religious shrines. The letter was mentioned by Security-Risks. com, which is directed by retired Indian Brigadier Rahul Bhonsle based in Delhi and his daily news service SASTNSCAN 03 Nov. Pakistan President General Pervez Musharraf is aware if Islamic groups are able to conduct a series of successful attacks in rapid secession against important targets in India it would force Delhi to implement its “hot pursuit” policy and attack the militant bases inside Pakistan’s part of Kashmir and in Pakistan itself. In preparation for that Musharraf imposed a State of Emergency as preparation for full scale war. If the attacks disrupt India’s train service in the north it would be more difficult for Delhi to send reinforcements to Jammu-Kashmir.
Delhi - In response to these alarming developments Delhi has placed its Border Security Forces (BSF), on high alert along the entire length of India’s border with Pakistan from Jammu-Kashmir to Gujarat on the Arabian Sea. The official reason being to prevent any infiltration attempts by Islamic units taking advantage of the security crisis in Pakistan, but I suspect Delhi believes Islamabad has deliberately placed Pakistan’s population in a state of readiness for full scale war and India’s government knows it was Musharraf who designed and carried out the 1999 Kargil Probe that nearly set off the fourth major war between them. When Musharraf became President that year someone in Pakistan, who knew of his military reputation, stated Musharraf is willing to take a risk even if there is only a 20 percent chance of success.
Teheran - In support of Pakistan, Teheran has instructed the General Commander of the Islamic Republic Army, Major-General Ataollah Salehi, to place Iran’s armed forces on full alert. The difference of course is while India’s high alert is defensive, Iran’s full alert is offensive. In February Musharraf visited Teheran, as part of his nine nation tour, and presented his offensive “Action Plan” knowing Iran has prepared to enter the conflict in an attempt to see if Islamic rulers can once again control India’s economy and its enormous resources.
Litani River - In south Lebanon AP and the newspaper Al-Akhbar are reporting that for the past three days the Islamic military - political unit Hezbollah have been conducting maneuvers south of the Litani river “in extreme secrecy and without any show of arms.” The exercises were supervised by Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah who stated they were held as a way of “deterring the enemy from carrying out any adventure in Lebanon.” In reality this is Teheran’s way of preparing Hezbollah, an extension of Iran’s military, to enter the current war between Israel and Palestinian groups that have been firing Qassam rockets and mortars from Gaza since mid-March. The rate of fire increased last week and Hezbollah is said to possess 33,000 rockets of a variety of ranges some of which can reach Tel Aviv. It is here where I believe Israel will first use its nuclear weapons in order to prevent becoming involved in a long costly land engagement.
Persian Gulf - Debka reports in the Persian Gulf Washington has been conducting maneuvers, led by the carrier USS Enterprise and its strike force, to prevent attacks against maritime shipping especially its oil traffic. The maneuvers began November 2 and are in response to a statement October 29 by Iranian General Ali Fahdavi in which he stated the Revolutionary Guard Naval forces under his command are able to attack oil exports heading out of the Gulf region.
Teheran -In the dark of these latest developments yesterday, Japan Deputy Foreign Minister Itsunori Onodera confronted Iran Foreign Minster Manouchehr Mottaki in Teheran on I assume Tokyo’s extremely serious concerns on continued access to oil from Persian Gulf states one of Japan’s most important economic lifelines. Late last year Tokyo withdrew $10 billion dollars of investments in Iran and suspended an oil development operation in the Persian Gulf. Tokyo has also increased its strategic relations with Moscow-Canberra-Delhi.

Daily Roundup from Willard Payne (Night Watch Information Service)
 

Mon

05

Nov

2007

Millions Trapped in Their Own Country
Monday, 05 November 2007 22:29
by Dahr Jamail & Ahmed Ali

BAQUBA, Nov 5 (IPS) - At least five million Iraqis have fled their homes due to the violence under the U.S.-led occupation, but half of them are unable to leave the country, according to well-informed estimates.

According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), there are more than 4.4 million displaced Iraqis, an estimate that many workers among refugees find conservative.

The UNHCR announced last week that at present 2,000 Iraqis are fleeing their homes every day. Most of them have received direct threats from death squads or militias.

The provinces that have suffered the greatest displacement are the largely Sunni Baghdad, Diyala, al-Anbar and Salahadeen in central Iraq.

Members of many families who have not fled told IPS they have stayed on because they had no choice.
"We could not leave our city despite the security situation because we don't have the money to travel and live outside Iraq," Ali Muhsin, an official with the directorate general of education and a father of five told IPS in Baquba, 40 km northeast of Baghdad.

"For more than a year, we used to receive the salary only every 50 or 60 days because the militants had taken over the entire city. They even controlled the banks, which prevented our offices from receiving the money."

 

Sun

04

Nov

2007

Where Better Security Brings No Reassurance
Sunday, 04 November 2007 15:22
by Dahr Jamal & Ahmed Ali

BAQUBA, Nov 2 (IPS) - The much touted "surge" of U.S. troops in Baquba has caused more problems that it has solved, residents say.

Baquba, capital city of Iraq's Diyala province located 65 km northeast of Baghdad, has long been a volatile city plagued by rampant violence and administrative chaos.

In January this year, the Bush administration announced a "surge" of 20,000 additional U.S. troops to be sent into Baghdad, Diyala and al-Anbar province (to the west of Baghdad) to increase security.

The total number of U.S. troops in Iraq is now 169,000, the highest through the occupation. This is augmented by at least 180,000 private personnel through contracts paid for by the U.S. government. Estimates of the total number of mercenaries in Iraq vary between 50,000 and 70,000.

But despite such numbers, Diyala is controlled by criminal gangs, militias, al-Qaeda like forces, and only on occasion – as at present – by U.S. forces. Between all of these, normal life has come to a halt.

Amidst the fear and violence, streets remain empty, even of Iraqi army or police.

"All of my neighbours initially hailed the U.S. surge in the city," Jabbar Kadhim, a local grocer told IPS. "We see no hope in the (Iraqi) government." U.S. forces took over the entire city and blocked all roads."
 

Sun

28

Oct

2007

Daily Roundup from Willard Payne (Night Watch Information Service)
Sunday, 28 October 2007 12:32

by Williard Payne

ANKARA - Xinhua reports the eleven member Iraq delegation arrived in Ankara led by Defense Minister General Abdel Qadar Jassim accompanied by National Security Minister Shirwan al-Waili. In the delegation were intelligence officials and representatives of the Kurdish community in northern Iraq, which is why I suspect the PKK may have over estimated their popularity. Most Kurds may be willing to work with the governments they live under whether Ankara-Damascus-Baghdad-Teheran. The composition of the delegation and headed by the Defense Minister implies Baghdad has agree to cooperate fully with Turkey on its Action Plan offensive that I suspect will begin right after the international conferences to take place in Istanbul from November 1-3.
Ankara - General Jassim left Ankara after four and a half hours of planning joint actions with Turkey’s military. This is further indication Iraq’s future depends on cooperation with regional governments.
Deir ez Zor - “Syria took town this facility so quickly it looks like they are trying to hide something.” That is the analysis of David Albright President of the Institute for Science and International Security of the satellite images that have just been released of the military base Israel destroyed with its air strike Sept. 6 at Deir ez Zor. Al Jazeera quotes James Acton, specialist in nuclear affairs at Kings College, London, “If it was a nuclear reactor it was only at an early stage of construction. The images are not definite and they do not prove it was a nuclear reactor, but there are some strong resemblances to one.” Syrian and North Korean officials have had a recent meeting in which they are still discussing potential cooperation on Syria’s nuclear weapons program, perhaps nuclear warheads for the ballistic missiles Syria has been producing with Iran.
Gaza - Heavy fighting is continuing in Gaza as Israel attempts to end the Qassam rocket fire from Palestinian militant units. RIA reports at least six Palestinian gunmen were killed and a dozen wounded in action all over Gaza against Israeli ground forces and from an air strike. The gunmen were from Hamas and Islamic Jihad. Israel is also threatening to cut power supply to Gaza and is planning economic sanctions.
Budapest - The Serbian government in Belgrade has just received more regional support in the form of a security agreement with the Hungarian government in Budapest. Hungary Chief of Staff Andros Havril stated, after meeting his Serbian counterpart Zdravko Ponos, the agreement will be made official next year at a signing ceremony between their Defense Ministers. Of course if heavy fighting breaks out next month the agreement will become operational right away.

In a parallel development Bosnian Serbs have announced if Albanians in Kosovo declare their independence then the Serbs in Bosnia will announce their independence from the Muslim-Croat government in Sarajevo.

Daily Roundup from Willard Payne (Night Watch Information Service)

 

Thu

25

Oct

2007

Barred from Canada: US Peace Activists Invited to Address Canadian Parliament - Testing The First Country To Use US Database Barring Peaceful Protesters
Thursday, 25 October 2007 22:00
by CODEPINK

WASHINGTON - October 24 - US peace activists Medea Benjamin and Col. Ann Wright, barred from entering Canada on October 3rd because of their records as peaceful protesters, will again travel to Canada—this time at the invitation of Members of Parliament to participate in a Parliamentary panel on Thursday October 25th. In the process they will test the Canadian government's policy of being the first country to use the corrupted FBI criminal database that now includes minor misdemeanors such as convictions for non-violence civil disobedience. The women will be flying from Washington, D.C. to Ottowa Thursday morning to speak at an afternoon panel entitled "Peacebuilders without Borders: Challenging the Post 9/11 Canada-US Security Agenda."

There were press conferences held outside of Canadian Consulates in New York, Washington D.C., San Francisco, Los Angeles and Chicago on Tuesday to ask the Canadian government to reverse its policy of barring peaceful protesters and to turn in 20,000 signatures from outraged US and Canadian citizens.
"It is outrageous that the FBI is placing peace activists on an international criminal database--a blatant political intimidation of US citizens opposed to Bush administration policies. But the Canadian Border Service should not be using this FBI database as its Bible and we are prepared to challenge these policies," said Medea Benjamin, CODEPINK cofounder.

Ms. Benjamin and Colonel Wright, invited to speak at a peace conference in Toronto on October 3, were both turned back at the Canadian border at Niagara Falls. The women were questioned about their participation in anti-war efforts and informed by Canadian Immigration that they had an access to an FBI file which indicated they had been arrested and convicted in acts of non-violent civil disobedience. This FBI National Crime Information Center database (NCIC) was created to assist U.S. law enforcement agencies in finding fugitives, convicted sex offenders, missing persons, and members of terrorist organizations and violent gangs. The database now contains convictions for minor offenses related to non-violent protest. Both women were told to apply for "criminal rehabilitation" which is a cumbersome and costly process with a waiting period of 5 years after their last conviction. Instead, together with supportive Parliamentarians, they are challenging the policy with their trip and panel on the 25th.

Please visit www.codepinkalert.org/Canada or contact Dana Balicki, CODEPINK Media Coordinator, at (202)422-8624 or Dana@codepinkalert.org for more info.
 

Thu

25

Oct

2007

Ill-Equipped Soldiers Opt for "Search and Avoid"
Thursday, 25 October 2007 13:47
by Dahr Jamail & Ali al-Fadhily

WATERTOWN, New York, Oct 24 (IPS) - Iraq war veterans now stationed at a base here say that morale among U.S. soldiers in the country is so poor, many are simply parking their Humvees and pretending to be on patrol, a practice dubbed "search and avoid" missions.

Phil Aliff is an active duty soldier with the 10th Mountain Division stationed at Fort Drum in upstate New York. He served nearly one year in Iraq from August 2005 to July 2006, in the areas of Abu Ghraib and Fallujah, both west of Baghdad.

"Morale was incredibly low," said Aliff, adding that he joined the military because he was raised in a poor family by a single mother and had few other prospects. "Most men in my platoon in Iraq were just in from combat tours in Afghanistan."

According to Aliff, their mission was to help the Iraqi Army "stand up" in the Abu Ghraib area of western Baghdad, but in fact his platoon was doing all the fighting without support from the Iraqis they were supposedly preparing to take control of the security situation.
"I never heard of an Iraqi unit that was able to operate on their own," said Aliff, who is now a member of the group Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW). "The only reason we were replaced by an Iraqi Army unit was for publicity."
Aliff said he participated in roughly 300 patrols.
"We were hit by so many roadside bombs we became incredibly demoralised, so we decided the only way we wouldn't be blown up was to avoid driving around all the time."
"So we would go find an open field and park, and call our base every hour to tell them we were searching for weapons caches in the fields and doing weapons patrols and everything was going fine," he said, adding, "All our enlisted people became very disenchanted with our chain of command."
 

Thu

25

Oct

2007

U.S. Must Increase Diplomatic Pressure to Deploy UN-led Peacekeepers in Darfur on UN Day - U.S. Needed to Address Participation in Upcoming Peace Talks
Thursday, 25 October 2007 13:02

Atlantic Free Press (Washington, DC): Today, Africa Action marks United Nations (UN) Day with a call for the U.S. to redouble its diplomatic efforts to secure the immediate deployment of a UN-led peacekeeping force to protect the people of Darfur. Peace talks between rebel leaders and the government of Sudan scheduled to begin this Saturday in Libya are an important step toward the political reconciliation that must accompany an effective peacekeeping operation. However, the boycott by the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) and six other rebel groups threatens to scuttle the negotiations. Without sustained pressure on all parties by the U.S. and the international community, negotiations will not achieve the honest participation of the government and inclusion of multiple groups necessary to make progress.

Africa Action noted that it is unlikely that the international community can bring all parties together in the next three days. “The government of Sudan’s insistence on continuing demonstrates Khartoum’s presence in the negotiation is only a public relations move,” Marie Clarke Brill, Interim Executive Director of Africa Action, said today. “The international community must learn the lesson from the May 2006 political agreement – you can’t rush peace. The U.S. must spearhead the global response by working to bring together all parties while taking leadership to ensure the rapid deployment of a UN peacekeeping operation. Far from being mutually exclusive priorities, peacekeeping and a political peace process must go hand-in-hand.”

Violence has escalated in recent weeks, with heavy casualties among civilians and humanitarian workers following assaults on towns and internally displaced person (IDP) camps in western and southern Darfur. In light of the reality that it will take time for political negotiations to achieve progress, Africa Action stressed the urgency of implementing UN Security Council Resolution 1769, which calls for the deployment of a UN-led peacekeeping operation, in spite of efforts by the government of Sudan to delay this process or weaken the force’s operational capacity and dilute its mandate to protect.

“The UN must act quickly and decisively to resolve the command and control ambiguities regarding the UN/AU hybrid peacekeeping force,” said Marie Clarke Brill. “The UN has the technical and logistical capabilities necessary to integrate multinational UN and AU units into an effective force. UN control of the mission will be crucial to gain the trust of Darfurians. The U.S. must press all stakeholders to overcome Khartoum’s duplicitous stall tactics and exert leadership in the international community to get a UN-led force on the ground.”

Africa Action commented that many civilians in Darfur have grown increasingly suspicious of current African Union peacekeepers as a result of recent events, including the destruction of the southern Darfur town of Haskanita by government forces. For peacekeepers to be able to do their job effectively, the people of Darfur must feel protected by these international forces and cooperate with them. 
 

Thu

25

Oct

2007

Assassination of Sheikh Shakes US Claims
Thursday, 25 October 2007 13:00
by Dahr Jamail & Ali al-Fadhily

BAGHDAD (IPS) - Resistance to occupation seems to have risen after the assassination last month of Abdul Sattar Abu Risha, head of the al-Bu Risha tribe. Abu Risha had begun to cooperate actively with U.S. forces.

Abu Risha was killed Sep. 13 when a bomb exploded outside his house in the restive al-Anbar province to the west of Baghdad. His tribe is a branch of the powerful al-Dulaim tribe in al-Anbar.

The Bush administration used Abu Risha to send messages to many parties and groups in Iraq. The week before Abu Risha was killed, U.S. President George W. Bush met with him in Iraq, and claimed that al-Anbar province now suggested:
"...what the future of Iraq can look like."
"Bush kept his mouth shut when his little collaborator was killed despite all the protection he had," a young man from Ramadi, capital of al-Anbar province, told IPS. "This was and will be the end of all those who take the path of collaborating with the occupation."
Abu Risha, who had been arrested by Saddam Hussein, became the centrepiece of Bush administration efforts to show that its troops surge in Iraq had been a success.

Many Iraqis, even one of Abu Risha's distant cousins, think differently.
 

Thu

25

Oct

2007

CODEPINK Members Unlawfully Arrested at Foreign Relations Committee Meeting - Woman waves blood-colored hands at Secretary Rice, 4 others arrested
Thursday, 25 October 2007 11:22
by Codepink

Five Codepink members arrested this morning at the House Foreign Relations Committee Hearing with Secretary Condoleezza Rice.

Those arrested, Desiree Fairooz of Arlington, TX, Liz Hourican of Phoeniz, AZ, Lori Purdue of Indianapolis, IN, Medea Benjamin of San Francisco, CA and Zool Zulkowitz of Washington, D.C.

Desiree Fairooz of Texas approached Secretary Rice with red paint on her hands to deliver the message that the Bush Administration had the blood of the Iraqis and American military on their hands.



Chair Lantos ordered her out. Ms. Fairooz  was escorted out by security guards yelling "war criminal." The Capitol Police then viciously yanked Liz Hourican of Arizona and Lori Purdue of Indiana from their seats, pulling Liz by her arms, legs, feet as she screamed in pain, "you are hurting me! What are you doing?" over and over. They were both dragged into the hall and promptly arrested.

Medea Benjamin remained in the hearing room and was asked to leave after flashing a peace sign with her fingers. She collected her belongings, left and was walking down the hall when 2 Capitol Police approached her and cuffed her. Zool Zulkowitz was with arrested with Ms. Benjamin.



The Deputy Chief of Staff of the House Foreign Relations Committee contacted the Capitol Police later in the day to again relay that their is a policy of that committee to not arrest Citizen protesters but to instead escort them out of the room. The Deputy asked for the CODEPINK members to be released promptly from custody.
 

Wed

24

Oct

2007

Daily Roundup from Willard Payne (Night Watch Information Service)
Wednesday, 24 October 2007 01:42
by Willard Payne
HAKKARI - As Turkey increases its troop presence on Iraq’s border Ankara is receiving more regional and international support for its invasion-occupation and this is the day before Ankara evaluates its Action Plan offensive. Xinhua reports Iraq Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari stated in Baghdad, after a meeting with Turkey Foreign Minister Ali Babacan, “We have a common position to fight terrorism wherever it is, we will not allow any party or any group, including the PKK, to poison our bilateral relations.” I suspect Turkey’s offensive is less than two weeks away and perhaps with some air support from Washington, which is desperate to maintain some strategic relations with an Islamic country in West Asia (Middle East).
Beirut - Debka is reporting Hezbollah leaders are preparing to attack any attempt by Washington to train Lebanese army units that could defeat Hezbollah and its 25,000 well armed and trained units. Washington’s proposal could be an extension of the visit in late August, (8-31-07) by Admiral William Fallon to Beirut as fighting was continuing in the north at the Palestinian refugee camp city Nahr al-Bared that began May 20 by Fatah al-Islam. The reason Damascus congratulated Beirut on its victory over the suicide unit is because the war convinced the rest of Lebanon’s army to work with Syria-Iran and that is probably the reason the head of Lebanon’s army General Michel Suleiman was not informed of these plans. I suspect Washington and the West have found some Lebanese units they can work with.
Jenin - INN reports the Israel Defense Force (IDF) is continuing its on going counter-terrorism campaign against militant Palestinian groups this time with an overnight raid into the Samaria province of the West Bank in the city of Jenin. Two Islamic Jihad members were killed and six Palestinians arrested. This is being waged as Qassam rocket fire is again increasing from Gaza targeting the town of Sderot and the oil terminal of Ashkelon on the Mediterranean.
Cairo - Speaking in Vienna to the newspaper Der Standard, Egypt President Hosni Mubarak expressed his realistic skepticism concerning the peace conference proposed by the Bush Administration. “Some parties want to see Annapolis as a forum in which the Arabs should normalize their relationships with the Israelis-yet it will not happen like that. First of all we peace has to come.” Mubarak of course is aware that is not possible and to expect it or a peace conference to establish it is completely unrealistic. But that is the state of mind of Washington, peace conference hope to stave off panic as Washington and Europe’s influence in the region is virtually non-existent. Mubarak continued by observing, “The region cannot sustain a fresh failure to peace efforts. It would have serious consequences for the Middle East and further afield.” How further depends on the range of Iran-Saudi Arabia’s ballistic missiles. Iran’s Shahab-3 has a range of 1,250 miles and some will be launched from Turkey do to an Iranian missile expert arriving there in February, and the House of Saud’s CSS-2 purchased from Beijing in the mid-1980s (Reuters Feb. 15, 2004) have a range of 2,500 miles.

The Egyptian President no doubt realizes his government would be one of the consequences since Mubarak has always hated Islamic radicalism and governments like Teheran at the center of it ever since Mubarak’s predecessor Anwar al-Sadat was assassinated in October 1981 by radicals just two years after the Khomeini revolution in Iran. Teheran named a street after the assassin an army Lieutenant. Egypt’s military reflects the division within the society. As more Islamic extremism is inspired when Teheran-Damascus enter the war against Israel, quite possibly next month, Mubarak will declare war against Iran with the Egyptian units still loyal to him, but Cairo is surrounded by Islamic governments that support the Jihad, Tripoli-Khartoum and the West will be pre-occupied with its own dangerous position in the region under attack and fighting in Southeast Europe and therefore unable to assist him.

Daily Roundup from Willard Payne (Night Watch Information Service)
 

Tue

23

Oct

2007

Repeat Offender Smithfield Sues Union
Tuesday, 23 October 2007 17:24
by Joel Wendland

Meatpacking giant Smithfield Foods is suing the United Food and Commercial Workers, the union that many Smithfield workers have chosen to represent them in their unionizing efforts at the company.

According to a press release from the union, the company's lawsuit was filed this past week under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act, legislation originally designed to tackle organized crime syndicates.

The company appears to be claiming that the union's efforts to build community support for the Smithfield workers in a campaign to win recognition for their union amounts to extortion.

The union counters that the company's violations against workers at its Tar Heel, North Carolina, plant are well documented in public records, including illegally firing, intimidating, assaulting, using racial epithets and spying on workers.

The union also points to administrative law court rulings on Smithfield's violations of labor laws and to a report authored by internationally respected Human Rights Watch documenting systematic abuse by the company against its workers.

Additionally, at its Wilson facility, the company engaged in similar misconduct to suppress workers from attaining union representation. The company has also been cited and fined by the EPA and the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

According to the union's press release:
"It is more than ironic that Smithfield now wants to turn to the law to shield its abusive conduct from public exposure. The company action constitutes hypocrisy of the highest order, seeking to hide behind a frivolous lawsuit that also targets community and religious leaders for advocating on behalf of Smithfield's Tar Heel workers."
The union views the lawsuit as the company's latest attempt to suppress the rights of working people to petition the government for redress of grievances and to suppress their rights to free association and speech by informing the public about abuse at Smithfield plants.

Additionally, because many supporters of the workers at Smithfield have decided to either refrain from buying Smithfield's meat and pork products (such as bacon) until the company agrees to recognize the workers collective bargaining rights or to inform stores that carry Smithfield's products about the problems in the company's plants, the company's lawsuit is retaliatory measure meant to "prevent consumers from learning about the working conditions that exist where products they buy are produced."

Smithfield workers themselves have not actually called for a boycott of the company's products.

The company, in conjunction with numerous right-wing, anti-union and anti-worker organizations, has launched a smear campaign against national, state, and local public officials, religious and community leaders who support the cause of justice at Smithfield's Tar Heel plant.

The union says, "It is truly shameful that Smithfield is willing to spend millions of dollars on high-priced lawyers and frivolous lawsuits rather than committing the resources needed to provide basic safety and health improvements for Tar Heel workers. "

There is nothing substantive in the lawsuit, says the union, except for being a tactic in Smithfield's aggressive campaign "to ensure that only the voices of the powerful are heard."

The union vowed to continue to struggle on behalf of the workers at Smithfield who have sought its representation.

--Reach Joel Wendland at jwendland@politicalaffairs.net  
 
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