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The Maker :: News :: CITIZENS OF THE EARTH

News :: Citizens of the Earth // History // Habeas Corpus [available mostly in Spanish for the moment] // Chronicle of Infamy // Winter in Majorca // "Ulrica = queen of wolves"

"Patria est ubicumque est bene"
Marco Pacuvio

"With malice toward none; with charity for all;
with firmness in the right,
as God gives us to see the right,
let us strive on to finish the work we are in; .... "
Abrahman Lincoln

"There can be no daily democracy without daily citizenship."
Ralph Nader

"Please use your liberty to promote ours"
Aung San Suu Kyi


Honoring a newspaper hero: Newspapers have a duty to publish the truth without fear or favor, but that goal isn't easy to achieve when journalists face deadly threats to themselves and their families.
In the 1970s, the Buenos Aires Herald of Argentina stood alone in exposing the military junta's secret and deadly war against citizens it labeled "subversive." The English-language Herald was owned by the Evening Post Publishing Co., parent company of The Post and Courier.
Former Herald editor Robert Cox was honored this week by the Buenos Aires Legislature for his heroic efforts on behalf of the "desaparecidos" -- the thousands who disappeared after being arrested or simply snatched off the streets by the military. Anyone who ventured to protest these arbitrary abuses risked being arrested. It is estimated that 30,000 desaparecidos died at the hands of the military. Many were tortured, then drugged and dumped at sea from military planes so that their bodies would never be found.
Buenos Aires legislator Sergio Abreyaya said, "The Herald was the only newspaper to speak out against the disappearances, and Cox's courageous defense of human rights and democracy saved many lives. Argentina, and particularly Buenos Aires, where he spent so much of his journalistic career, owe him an enormous debt of gratitude."
Mr. Cox was honored on Tuesday in the Legislative Palace in Buenos Aires. He has lived in Charleston since 1981 and was assistant editor of this newspaper from 1982-2008.
A native of England, Mr. Cox arrived in Argentina in 1959 as a young journalist and was soon employed as a reporter on the Buenos Aires Herald. He married an Argentine, Maud Daverio, and the couple had five children. Mr. Cox was named editor in chief of the Herald in 1968. Under his editorship, the newspaper achieved an impressive international reputation. The Associated Press once described the Herald as the world's most reliable source for news about Argentina.
...more in The Post & Courier - The Buenos Aires Herald - Perfil - Clarín - Knight Center for Journalism
An read the article : 'A Profile in Courage' by Graciela Mochkofsky
And the book 'Dirty Secrets, Dirty War: The Exile of Editor Robert J Cox' written by his son David Cox

“Burma VJ: Reporting from a Closed Country”:

As Burmese pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi goes on trial, we look at an award-winning documentary film about media activism in Burma and the extraordinary risks citizen journalists take to get information out of the country. The film follows a collective of undercover video journalists in Burma called the Democratic Voice of Burma, who smuggle out footage from Burma to Norway, from where it is broadcast around the world. ...more in - Burma VJ - Democratic Voice of Burma

The Wonderful World of Albert Kahn: The Archive of the Planet was the brainchild of the millionaire French banker and philanthropist Albert Kahn. Between 1908 and 1930, he used his vast personal fortune to generate what is now generally acknowledged to be the most important collection of early colour photographs in the world. At the time Kahn embarked on this project, colour photography was still in its infancy. It was only a year before the Archive was created that the legendary French inventors Auguste and Louis Lumière had marketed the autochrome - the world's first user-friendly photographic system capable of taking true colour pictures. Almost straight away, Kahn acquired one. It's not difficult to see why Kahn was so beguiled: the autochrome system produces images of mesmerising beauty. As an idealist and an internationalist, Kahn believed that he could use this system to promote peace and greater understanding among the world's cultures. So he spent a fortune to hire photographers and send them to more than 50 countries all over the world. Altogether, they shot more than 72,000 colour pictures (as well as about 100 hours of film footage) recording everything from religious rituals and cultural practices to momentous political events all over the world. They took the earliest known colour pictures in countries as far apart as Vietnam and Brazil, Mongolia and Norway, Japan and Benin. As pet projects go, this was very ambitious - and vastly expensive. Yet undaunted by the cost, Kahn bankrolled this enterprise for more than 20 years. Kahn's photographers undertook these intrepid expeditions without the global transit systems we take for granted today. Often, they arrived in these countries at crucial junctures in their history. For example, they recorded the collapse of both the Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman Empires - and the birth of completely new states in Europe and the Middle East. During World War I, Kahn's photographers observed soldiers as they cooked their meals and laundered their uniforms behind the front lines at The Battle of Verdun. They watched the world's most powerful men when they convened for the post-war negotiations at Versailles. No doubt Kahn expected to have the financial wherewithal to sustain it indefinitely. But events delivered a hammer-blow to his plans. At the start of 1929, Kahn was still one of the richest men in Europe. But by the end of the year the Wall Street Crash had reduced the financial empire of one of Europe's most successful financiers to rubble. Yet by then, Kahn had already amassed one of the most important photographic collections in the world. A century after he launched his project, Albert Kahn's dazzling pictures put colour into what we almost always think of as an exclusively monochrome age. The first five episodes in this series form an important part of BBC Four's Edwardians season and are grouped together under the title Edwardians in Colour. The final four episodes will be screened as part of a forthcoming season of programmes on the Twenties.
Click on the screens to enjoy the BBC documental.

Watch also Japan in Colour - The Wonderful World of Albert Khan in the BBC



Democracy triumphs through example, not force: Russian president Dmitri Medvedev last week said that he does not want a Second Cold War, but is prepared for one if necessary. Clearly, before waging its campaign to annex South Ossetia from Georgia, the Kremlin audited its relations with the West and concluded it has little to lose if they deteriorate. That calculation is based on the view that Russia was cheated in the post-communist settlement. Moscow surrendered its military and economic empire in Europe, but whenever it subsequently raised objections to US policy there - over Nato enlargement; independence for Kosovo; the establishment of a missile defence shield - it was sternly rebuffed. So it is better, in the Kremlin's analysis, to be feared as a rival power than sidelined as a subordinate one. That calculation says as much about the relative weakness of the West as it does about new Russian strength. Nato, bogged down in Afghanistan, lacks a clear strategic purpose. The Washington doctrine of using force to spread democracy has been tested to destruction in Iraq. The credit crunch and high oil prices have drained the US and Western Europe of cash. That gives an advantage to countries with hoards of capital to invest, such as China, or with energy to export, such as Russia. For the first time since the collapse of communism, the financial muscle of authoritarian states has as much bearing on the direction of the world economy as the wealth of liberal democracies. That is a shift in global balance of power. It is also a rebuttal of the post-Cold War idea that the world was converging towards Western-style capitalism. It was assumed that economic prosperity and political freedom were indivisible. As societies become richer, the theory went, a middle class would emerge to demand representation from its rulers. That view failed to account for the return of nationalism as a rival ideology to democracy. In both Russia and China, authoritarian regimes have persuaded their new wealthy elites to trade freedom for economic stability and global prestige. This is a new social contract: the state allows you to get rich, as long as you do not use the money for political ends. For the last decade, the West has seen militant Islam as the main ideological opponent to liberal capitalism. Before the South Ossetian war, when diplomats discussed a 'new Cold War', it was as likely to envisage Iran as Russia on the opposing side. That preoccupation has resulted in a failure to understand the challenge of nationalist capitalism. America and Britain talk about human rights and democracy as if their benefits are self-evident and universal. But when it suits their strategic aims, in Latin America, Central Asia or the Middle East, they collaborate with brutal dictatorships. So it is hard, in many parts of the world, to distinguish between the promotion of Western 'values' and the crude enforcement of Western interests. That confusion dogs the argument over Nato expansion. Membership is open, in theory, to countries that meet stringent criteria of political reform. But when David Miliband made a solidarity visit to Ukraine in the wake of the Georgia-Russia war, his emphasis was not on the measures Kiev can take to make itself an attractive partner for alliance. Instead, he berated Russia for failing to accept the reality of the post-Soviet world. Unfortunately, the Kremlin has demonstrated it has the power to change that reality, unilaterally, by force. It also claims to be following the example of Western interventions in Kosovo and Iraq when doing so. the Editorial in The Guardian

Wife of American President Visits Burmanese Refugee Camp in Thailand: Burmese residents of a refugee camp near the Thai-Burmese border appealed on Thursday to US first lady Laura Bush to help them resettle in the West. Mrs Bush promised them to do all she could as she toured the Mae Lah camp near the Thai border town of Mae Sot. Around 40,000 refugees live in Mae Lah, the biggest refugee camp in Thailand. The refugee community gave Mrs Bush and her daughter Barbara a warm welcome, performing traditional Karen dances and showing them the camp’s schoolrooms. In one classroom, a student had written on the blackboard: “My life in refugee camp is better than Burma but I do not have opportunities to go outside of my camp.” The vice camp leader, Mahn Htun Htun, appealed directly to Mrs Bush to help more Burmese refugees resettle in the US. “We are refugees and our dream is to go back home,” he said, “We have no peace in Burma now, the possibility for us is to go to third countries.” Mrs Bush replied that the best option would be to “see a change in the Burmese government,” in which case “people could move home in safety.” She said: "Most people do not want to have to move to third countries. They would rather move to their home villages in safety and security." One Burmese refugee who has been selected, along with his family, for resettlement in the US said Washington should increase the pressure on the Burmese regime so that conditions allowing refugees to return could be created. The refugee, Saw Mardecair, thanked the US, however, for taking in large numbers of Burmese. Mahn Htun Htun drew attention to the plight of 13,000 newly-arrived refugees who, he said, lacked adequate food and shelter. Mrs Bush later visited the Mae Tao clinic, the Burmese migrant health care center founded by Dr Cynthia Maung, who said she hoped the first lady would raise in the US the humanitarian problems she had seen in the border area. “All countries in the world have to come together and work together for change in Burma,” said Dr Maung. Children welcomed Mrs. Bush to the clinic with a performance of traditional Burmese songs. ...more in The Irrawaddy - Mizzima - Le Figaro -


Colombian forces trick Farc narco-terrorists into freeing hostage Betancourt and 14 others including 3 Americans:

Ingrid Betancourt was savouring freedom last night after Colombia's security forces duped guerrillas into releasing her and 14 other hostages from a secret camp deep in the jungle. A daring military operation ended the French-Colombian politician's six-year ordeal as a high-profile bargaining chip and dealt a devastating blow to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc). Without a shot being fired military spies tricked the Marxist rebels into handing over their most valuable captives to military helicopters flown by pilots posing as aid workers. "Thank you for your impeccable operation," a thin but radiant Betancourt told military commanders after being flown to the capital, Bogota. "The operation was perfect." Composed and eloquent despite the day's emotions and drama, the former presidential candidate added another twist when she said she still hoped "to serve Colombia as president". Dressed in a camouflage jacket and hat, the 46-year-old stepped off an air force plane into the arms of her mother, Yolanda Pulecio, who had waged a tireless campaign for her freedom. They embraced and gazed at each other amid applause from military officers, family and friends. Pale but apparently healthy, Betancourt removed her hat to reveal intricately braided dark hair, with plaits and a white flower framing a beaming face. She thanked the Colombian and French governments and expressed hope for peace in Colombia. Relatives expressed amazement that the gaunt figure glimpsed in harrowing videos had returned. "It is the most beautiful news of my life," said her teenage son, Lorenzo Delloye-Betancourt. The elaborate military sting "will go into history for its audacity and effectiveness", said the defence minister, Juan Manuel Santos. "We wanted to have it happen as it did today," said General Freddy Padilla, the head of the armed forces. "Without a single shot. Without anyone wounded. Absolutely safe and sound, without a scratch." Analysts said the breakthrough could signal the demise of Farc. "For the Farc this is a mortal blow. They will never be able to recover from this," said Alfredo Rangel, director of the Security and Democracy Foundation in Bogotá. The US president George Bush phoned Colombia's president, Álvaro Uribe, an ally whose security forces are funded by Washington, to congratulate him. Nicolas Sarkozy, the French president, who had made Betancourt's liberty a priority, also spoke to Uribe and dispatched his foreign minister, Bernard Kouchner, to Bogota. According to Santos the 15 hostages, who included three US defence contractors and 11 Colombian soldiers and police, were freed in southwestern Guaviare province after intelligence agents infiltrated the guerrillas' leadership and led the commander in charge of the hostages, Cesar, to think they were to be taken by helicopter to Alfonso Cano, the Farc's supreme leader. The hostages, who had been divided in three groups, were taken to a meeting point where two helicopters piloted by Colombian military agents were waiting. The helicopters took off with the hostages, Cesar and one other rebel, and those two "were neutralised" during the flight, Santos said. When told that they were free, and not in fact on their way to another Farc camp, the hostages were ecstatic, said Betancourt. "The helicopter almost fell from the sky because we were jumping up and down, yelling, crying, hugging one another. We couldn't believe it," she said. The government estimates Farc still holds about 700 hostages, many of whom have languished for years in grim conditions. ...more in The Guardian - BBC - The Times - The Telegraph - The Washington Post - MSNBC - CNN - And in the web


Please save Burma's women and children, please help Burma: I woke up from a dream in the middle of the night. I was with my daughter, playing in a small garden. We were playing hide and seek. I was looking at her from behind a tree. She was so beautiful, with the prettiest smile on her face, looking for me happily. I couldn't hide anymore. I wanted her to find me. I wanted to hold her in my arms and kiss her face gently. I started to show myself to her, but, suddenly I saw three men -with black coats and ugly faces - watching from the shadows near my daughter. I stepped back. I wanted to be found by my daughter, not by them. I still saw my daughter, still looking for me with her innocent smile. I didn't want to hide anymore. I wanted her to find me, but these men would take me away and put me in hell. Then I woke up, with tears on my cheeks. I have been separated from my daughter for nearly ten months. A midnight knock at our door in August last year changed our lives dramatically. The military junta's security forces took my husband Kyaw Min Yu (also known as Jimmy) on the night of August 21, 2007. He is a leader of the prominent dissident group, the 88 Generation Students, comprising former student leaders and former political prisoners. He and other leaders were taken from their homes that night by the authorities. As a former student activist and a former political prisoner myself, I knew very well how my husband and friends would be treated in the junta's interrogation cells. Therefore, when they came back to arrest me, I went into hiding. But I must continue to lead the 88 Generation Students with my other colleagues, so that Burma may realise its freedom, and find justice and democracy someday. I must avoid being arrested. However, there are so many difficulties and hardships in moving secretly from one hiding place to another, and I didn't want my daughter to share these hardships. Therefore, I decided to send my three-month-old baby to my parents. Now, I miss her so much. My mind wanders to University Avenue, where "the Lady", Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, has been detained under house arrest for so many years. Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, the world's only imprisoned Nobel Peace Prize recipient, will have to spend her 63rd birthday today alone in detention. She will be missing her two sons, too. Her strength and determination helps me and many women in Burma stand up for justice. I thank her for being with us and leading our movement. She is a great reminder to the world that the military junta that rules our country forcibly separates mothers and children. Coincidentally, the UN Security Council will hold a debate in New York today on "Women, Peace and Security". This debate is a discussion of UNSC Resolution 1325, which was passed unanimously in October, 2000. Resolution 1325 "Calls on all parties to armed conflict to take special measures to protect women and girls from gender-based violence, particularly rape and other forms of sexual abuse, and all other forms of violence in situations of armed conflict." It also "Emphasises the responsibility of all States to put an end to impunity and to prosecute those responsible for genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes including those relating to sexual violence against women and girls, and in this regard, stresses the need to exclude these crimes, where feasible from amnesty provisions." US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice is expected to chair the debate, with many world leaders discussing the development of women, peace and security. Will they discuss Burma? Will they remember Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and the women of Burma who are suffering all forms of abuse by the military junta? Burma is now in the midst of two conflicts. One is the 50-year-old civil war, raging between the Burmese military and the minority resistance forces, predominately in the eastern part of the country. Burmese troops are raping with impunity tribal women and girls, some as young as eight years old. Burmese soldiers use women in conflict areas as porters to carry their military equipment and supplies during the day, and use them as sex slaves at night. Many women have been brutally killed to erase the evidence of these crimes. the full article by Nilar Thein in The Nation

Davis resignation: Unlikely hero of liberal Britain shocks the political establishment: David Davis became an unlikely hero of liberal Britain yesterday by sacrificing his political career to launch a one-man crusade against the Government's plan for suspected terrorists to be detained for 42 days without charge. The former SAS reservist, who supports the death penalty for premeditated murder, shook Britain's political establishment to its roots by announcing he would stand down as an MP to fight a by-election to stop the "slow strangulation of fundamental British freedoms". The former shadow home secretary's bombshell left David Cameron and many Tory colleagues seething. But outside the Westminster village, the reaction was very different. Mr Davis's Commons office was flooded with telephone calls and emails from members of the public praising him for putting his principles before his career. While Tory MPs queued up to denounce Mr Davis as "barmy" and "mad", the reaction of the party's grassroots was more favourable. A poll of 1,200 Tory members by the ConservativeHome website showed that 65 per cent of them were "inspired" by his decision. Only 24 per cent share Mr Cameron's anxiety that the Tories need to be careful not to get on the wrong side of public opinion on 42-day detention, while 72 per cent disagreed. Some 70 per cent of Tory members want Mr Davis to be reinstated as shadow home secretary if, as expected, he wins a by-election that neither Labour nor the Liberal Democrats will contest. ...more in The Independent - The Times - The Guardian - The Telegraph - The Washington Post - The New York Times - BBC - France 24 - MSNBC

Read Mr Davis courageous speech in the House of Commons in

Also read and watch ‘It really is psychological torture.’, the testimony of Lee Glendinning spoke to a 23-year-old student about what it is like to be detained under the existing terrorism legislation... in The Guardian

The British government has failed to make the case for 42 days detention without charge: Detention without charge cannot simply be regarded as a matter of police convenience in a good cause. So must it be 42 days? Has the government stifled its backbench rebellion, leaving the Lords to rescue British liberties, as they did eight centuries ago at Runnymede? Or can Labour MPs tear the fair maid of conscience from the seductive arms of expediency, and tell Gordon Brown to get lost? Brown and his ministers claim that "terrorism" - code for militant Islam - poses an unprecedented threat to western civilisation. Why then do they persist in undermining a pillar of that civilisation, freedom under the law? Why keep giving Osama bin Laden new feathers to put in his turban? The bill installing 42-day detention without charge goes to the Commons next week, with the full weight of government whipping behind it. It is equalled in almost no other free country and backed by almost no one in Britain's judicial or security establishments. Opponents or known sceptics embrace the former lord chancellor, the former attorney general, the security minister, the director of public prosecution, numerous police chiefs including London's and, so it is said, the leadership of MI5. In an unguarded moment, the whips even murmured that Brown regards it as an inconvenience "inherited from Tony Blair". The only support has come from an eccentric Liberal Democrat peer, Lord Carlile, and the former Scotland Yard counter-terrorism chief, Peter Clarke. The latter's defence of the bill in yesterday's Daily Telegraph amounted to little more than a belief that 42 days would be useful to his colleagues, and a complaint that it had all become politicised. Hostility to the bill has forced Downing Street into precisely the bind that a "listening" government hates. What began as a police try-on of weak Labour home secretaries has turned into "a principled stand in defence of national security". This has then mutated into a talisman of the prime minister's steadiness under fire. the article of Simon Jenkins in The Guardian


As Burma dies, our macho invaders sit on their hands: The Chinese quake gave relief to western leaders whose hypocrisy on intervention is exposed by post-cyclone inaction. You don't have to be cynical to do foreign policy, but it helps. A sigh of relief rose over the west's chancelleries on Monday as it became clear that the Chinese earthquake was big - big enough to trump Burma's cyclone. To add to the relief, Beijing was behaving better than it has over past calamities. Since this might have been thanks to the west's "positive engagement" with China's dictators - even awarding them the Olympics - we could possibly take credit from the week's tally of disaster. Sorry about that, Burma. The Burmese cyclone of 11 days ago has already slid into liberal interventionism's recycle bin, a purgatory called Mere Abuse. The regime's refusal to aid some 1.5 million people reportedly facing starvation in the Irrawaddy delta has been subjected only to a "shock and awe" of adjectival assault. Gordon Brown called the refusal "utterly unacceptable" (which means accepted). The aid minister, Douglas Alexander, professed himself "horrified". The foreign secretary, David Miliband, used the words "malign neglect ... a humanitarian catastrophe of genuinely epic proportions". The UN secretary-general registered "deep concern and immense frustration". In France, Nicolas Sarkozy found the inaction "utterly reprehensible", and in Germany Angela Merkel found it "inexplicable". George Bush declared the regime "either isolated or callous". As Kipling would have said, if Kruger could be killed with words the Burmese regime would be dead and buried. What is it about Burma? The very same politicians who spent the past seven years declaring the virtue of intervening wherever the mood took them are now, if not tongue-tied, hands-tied. Where are the buccaneers of Bosnia, the crusaders of Kosovo, the bravehearts who rescued Sierra Leone from its rebels, the Afghans from the Taliban and the Iraqis from Saddam Hussein? Where are the gallants who sent convoys into Croatia in 1992, to relieve human suffering in conditions of chaos and hostility? the excellent article by Simon Jenkins in The Guardian

Carter urges 'supine' Europe to break with US over Gaza blockade: Ex-president says EU is colluding in a human rights crime.

Britain and other European governments should break from the US over the international embargo on Gaza, former US president Jimmy Carter told the Guardian yesterday. Carter, visiting the Welsh border town of Hay for the Guardian literary festival, described the EU's position on the Israeli-Palestinian dispute as "supine" and its failure to criticise the Israeli blockade of Gaza as "embarrassing". Referring to the possibility of Europe breaking with the US in an interview with the Guardian, he said: "Why not? They're not our vassals. They occupy an equal position with the US." The blockade on Hamas-ruled Gaza, imposed by the US, EU, UN and Russia - the so-called Quartet - after the organisation's election victory in 2006, was "one of the greatest human rights crimes on Earth," since it meant the "imprisonment of 1.6 million people, 1 million of whom are refugees". "Most families in Gaza are eating only one meal per day. To see Europeans going along with this is embarrassing," Carter said. He called on the EU to reassess its stance if Hamas agreed to a ceasefire in Gaza. "Let the Europeans lift the embargo and say we will protect the rights of Palestinians in Gaza, and even send observers to Rafah gate [Gaza's crossing into Egypt] to ensure the Palestinians don't violate it." Although it is 27 years since he left the White House, Carter recently met Hamas leaders in Damascus. He declared a breakthrough in persuading the organisation to offer a Gaza ceasefire and a halt to Palestinian rocket attacks on Israel if Israel stopped its air and ground strikes on the territory. Carter described western governments' self-imposed ban on talking to Hamas as unrealistic and said everyone knew Israel was negotiating with the organisation through an Egyptian mediator, Omar Suleiman. Suleiman took the Hamas ceasefire offer to Jerusalem last week. the full article in The Guardian

Hillary Clinton candidacy has done feminism no favours:
by Camille Paglia
When the dust settles over the 2008 election, will Hillary Clinton have helped or hindered women's advance toward the US presidency?
Right now, Hillary is in Godzilla mode, refusing to accept Barack Obama's looming nomination and threatening to tie the Democratic party in legal knots until the August convention and beyond. Those who think she will withdraw gracefully in a few weeks are living in cloud cuckoo land. The Clintons are ruthless scrappers who will lock their bulldog teeth in any bloody towel. Hillary Clinton Hillary: inspiring role model and cringe-making bad example In her raw ambition and stubborn, grinding energy, Hillary will certainly cast a long shadow on young women aspiring to high office. She is both inspiring role model and cringe-making bad example - a feminist who never found a way to succeed without her husband's connections, advice, and intervention. Bill Clinton may have masterminded Hillary's runs for the Senate and for the Democratic nomination, but he has been a gross liability in recent months, as he has co-opted the hustings to maunder on about himself or to inject divisive racial overtones into the debate. The next major female presidential candidate will be well advised to stuff any errant husband into a rucksack and chuck him down a laundry chute. If they are to be truly equal, women must fight their own fights and not rely on a borrowed spotlight. Hillary has tried to have it both ways: to batten on her husband's nostalgic popularity while simultaneously claiming to be a victim of sexism. Well, which is it? Are men convenient sugar daddies or condescending oppressors? As her presidential hopes have begun to evaporate, Hillary has upped the ante in the crusading feminist department. Her surrogates are beating the grievance drums, trying to scare every angry female out of the bush. From that rag-tag crew, she will build her army. Let the red flags fly! Hillary is positioning herself as the Crucified One, betrayed, mocked, flogged, and shunted aside for the cause of Ultimate Womanhood. ... read the article in The Telegraph

Click on the screens to watch Camille Paglia talking at the Collingswood Book Festival

I knew JFK, says Gore Vidal, and believe me Obama’s the better leader: Gore Vidal, the writer and long-time Clinton supporter, tells why Hillary is insane to keep on fighting. At 82, Gore Vidal has reached an enviable position: he is an influential man of letters, a political activist, a scion of the New World aristocracy and a friend of the powerful and famous, including the Clintons. So what does he think of Hillary Clinton’s stated intention to fight on to the bitter end for the Democratic presidential nomination? The reply is instant and searing: “I think her strategy is more or less insane.” He continues: “I’d always rather liked her. She’s a perfectly able lawyer . . . But this long campaign, this daily search for the grail, has driven her crazy.” In his view Barack Obama has won; and if the nomination is taken away from him, “I fear what our black population might do. There has never been a revolution of blacks – yet”. During the Clinton administration, Vidal admired Bill’s understanding of the poor and of black people. His devotion to the Clintons has now been laid aside, however. By clinging on to her campaign, waiting for the small chance that Obama will make a terminal mistake, Hillary has crossed a line, he believes. As for Obama, Vidal has taken time to warm to him. “I liked the idea of him, but he never managed to get my interest. I was brought around by his overall intelligence – specifically when he did his speech on race and religion.” In Vidal’s opinion, “he’s our best demagogue [etymologically speaking: "people's leader"] since Huey Long or Martin Luther King”. the full article by Melvyn Bragg in The Times
And watch a recent interview to Gore Vidal by Amy Goodman in Democracy Now

It is time to unite around Obama, party elder tells Clinton as she vows to fight on despite of being "mathematically obliterated" by Democratic voters:

George McGovern, a party elder who was one of Hillary Clinton's earliest and most prominent supporters, called on her yesterday to quit the Democratic race, raising the risk of further defections after her disappointing performance in North Carolina and Indiana. McGovern, the former Democratic presidential candidate and a friend of both Clintons for more than 30 years, became the most significant figure yet to call for her to stand aside, saying it was virtually impossible for her to win the nomination against Barack Obama. "I think that the mathematics indicate that Senator Obama is probably going to be the Democratic presidential nominee," McGovern told MSNBC. "The time has come from Democrats to unite to get ready for a tough race this fall against [Republican] Senator [John] McCain." McGovern said he told Bill Clinton yesterday that he would support Obama. His decision threatened to set off a widespread defection of superdelegates to Obama that could end Clinton's race for the White House before the primary season wraps up on June 3. Clinton insisted yesterday that she intended to fight on, in spite of the arithmetic being against her and severe funding problems. She revealed she had lent her campaign a further $6.4m (£3.3m) and, with virtually no chance of winning, she is unlikely to attract many donors. The money comes on top of $5m she lent in February. Her team said yesterday that she was prepared to make further loans. the full article in The Guardian

China remains a land of torture and repression : At least 20 detained in Hong Kong Olympic protests pro Democracy and Freedom:

Hong Kong police detained around 20 people following minor scuffles along the route of the Olympic torch relay in the southern Chinese city on Friday. China supporters and pro-democracy activists pushed and shoved each other on Nathan Road, one of the city's main thoroughfares, as the relay set off, AFP reporters said. Friday's leg of the worldwide relay is the last likely chance for major protests before the torch, which has been dogged by demonstrators on its journey around the world, heads to mainland China on Saturday. But there has been a growing backlash from China supporters angered by the international criticism of Beijing's crackdown on Tibet. In one incident on Friday, police carted away about a dozen pro-democracy activists after they had scuffled with around 100 supporters of China, who cheered and clapped as the protesters were taken away. ... Actress Mia Farrow was briefly questioned at Hong Kong's airport Thursday before officials allowed her to enter the Chinese territory to give a speech criticizing China's relations with Sudan. (May 1) ...Also actress Mia Farrow was briefly questioned at Hong Kong's airport Thursday before officials allowed her to enter the Chinese territory to give a speech criticizing China's relations with Sudan. (May 1) ...more in ABS-CBN News Online - The Guardian - The Independent - Reuters


Hillary's slick willies
by Camille Paglia
... You have succinctly expressed one of the most unsettling aspects of Hillary Clinton's character and modus operandi. There is a strangely static and claustrophobic quality to the fiercely loyal cult she has gathered around her since her first lady years. Postmortem analysts of this presidential campaign will have a field day ferreting out all the cringe-making blunders made by her clique of tired, aging courtiers who couldn't adjust to changing political realities. Hillary's forces have acted like the heavy, pompous galleons of the imperial Spanish Armada, outmaneuvered by the quick, bold, entrepreneurial ships of the English fleet.
I agree that the male staff who Hillary attracts are slick, geeky weasels or rancid, asexual cream puffs. (One of the latter, the insufferable Mark Penn, just got the heave-ho after he played Hillary for a patsy with the Colombian government.) If I were to hazard a guess, I'd say Hillary is reconstituting the toxic hierarchy of her childhood household, with her on top instead of her drill-sergeant father. All those seething beta males (as you so aptly describe them) are versions of her sad-sack brothers, who got the short end of the Rodham DNA stick.
The compulsive war-room mentality of both Clintons is neurosis writ large. The White House should not be a banging, rocking washer perpetually stuck on spin cycle. Many Democrats, including myself, have come to doubt whether Hillary has any core values or even a stable sense of identity. With her outlandish fibbing and naive self-puffery, her erratic day-to-day changes of tone and message, her glassy, fixed smiles, and her leaden and embarrassingly unpresidential jokes about pop culture, she has started to seem like one of those manic, seductively vampiric patients in trashy old Hollywood hospital flicks like "The Snake Pit." How anyone could confuse Hillary's sourly cynical, male-bashing megalomania with authentic feminism is beyond me. the full answers of Camille Paglia in Salon

Torch-bearer, Francesca Martinez, withdraws from Olympics relay in portest for China abuses in Tibet, in Burma, in Darfour, agains its own citizens:

One of the torch-bearers due to carry the Olympic flame across London last night dropped out in protest at Chinese repression in Tibet. Disabled comedian Francesca Martinez said that she felt taking part would legitimise the ongoing violence in Tibet, where recent weeks have seen authorities carry out a heavy-handed crackdown on protesters. She said: “I fully support the Tibetan cause and feel that, because of the mounting pressure and the ongoing violence in Tibet, that torch-bearers should turn down their role . . . because I feel that is truly promoting and supporting the Olympic ideals, which are unity and world peace, and don’t include invasion of other countries.” Britain’s number one badminton player Richard Vaughan, who is a member of the Team Darfur coalition of athletes committed to raising awareness of the humanitarian crisis in the Sudanese province, also said he would not take part in the torch relay. Rumours that the Chinese Ambassador to London was planning to pull out of Sunday’s torch relay from Wembley to Greenwich were denied last night. Embassy officials had said that Fu Ying would spend the day with the official Beijing delegation at a London hotel. In a statement, the embassy said: “There has never been a view expressed from the Chinese Embassy at any point that the ambassador is pulling out of the torch relay. She hasn’t said that herself either.” Her participation will aggravate the logistical challenges for the Metropolitan Police, who are mounting a £1 million operation to protect the torch as it passes through ten London boroughs on the same day as an FA Cup semi-final at Wembley Stadium. ...more in The Times - The Telegraph - The Guardian - The Independent - BBC


China 'affected' by Spielberg Olympic protest:

China has demanded that the Sudanese government do more to end the bloodshed in Darfur in its most dramatic reaction yet to Steven Spielberg’s decision to pull out of the Beijing Olympics. n an unusually long press conference, Beijing’s special envoy to Africa, Liu Guijin, claimed that China’s position on Darfur was "fundamentally the same" as that of Western governments. Despite his government’s record of support for Khartoum, he accepted that what was happening in Darfur was a "humanitarian disaster" that had "forced millions from their homes and, in particular, claimed the lives of tens of thousands". In a rare admission, he said his appointment was a sign that China had been affected by western pressure. "Darfur is the focus of international attention and many Western nations want China to play a bigger role," he said. "This is why I have been appointed as the special envoy of the Chinese government on the Darfur issue." Mr Liu’s attempt to reshape his country’s public image in the west over Darfur came in the wake of clear signs that China was caught unawares by concern over its role in Sudan. ...more in The Telegraph

Democracy is ill served by its self-appointed guardians
by Simon Jenkins
Our sonorous moralising lies behind so much bloodshed in the past 50 years. A sense of history surely counsels humility. This week's Russian elections were "limited" and "less than free and fair", according to western monitors. The last elections in Iraq, by contrast, were "a triumph for democracy". The forthcoming elections in Zimbabwe and Iran have been pre-emptively dismissed as a travesty. Those in Pakistan were, by general consent, an affirmation of freedom.
Democracies are like two-year-olds: adorable when they belong to you, but you never see them as others do. Downing Street had a problem with the new Russian president, Dmitry Medvedev, since the procedure by which he was chosen was little short of feudal. Yet Gordon Brown could hardly slap him on the back as the victor in some great electoral tourney. Medvedev might hit back with a joke about western leaders also being slid into office by friends and predecessors - and at least he had an election of sorts. The British prime minister wisely muttered something noncommittal and put down the phone.
We are in the midst of an astonishing festival of elections in countries as diverse as Russia, Pakistan, Iran, Taiwan, Kenya, Georgia, Armenia, Cyprus, Thailand, Serbia, Zimbabwe, Spain and Italy. And then there is the daddy of them all, America's primaries. Only one generalisation can be made of them, that no generalisation applies.
Democracy is the new Christianity. It is the chosen faith of western civilisation, and carrying it abroad is the acceptable face of the Crusader spirit. In reinterpreting Tony Blair's interventionism, the foreign secretary, David Miliband, spoke recently of the west's "mission" to promote democracy, even by economic and military warfare. With his eyes fixed on Iraq and Afghanistan, Miliband contrived both to assert that "we cannot impose democratic norms" and then demand that we do just that.
The truth is that neither Blair nor Miliband, nor the rest of us, has any idea of what we are about. We expect far too much of democracy, and of others who claim to espouse it. We treat it as a rigid set of rules from which no wavering is tolerable. The ballot is a sacred rite and any contamination is blasphemy. We incant the Nicene creed when we should stick to the Sermon on the Mount. ... There is just no point in the sonorous moralising of western NGOs characterised by the (normally admirable) Human Rights Watch. It complains that "by allowing autocrats to pose as democrats, without demanding they uphold the civil and political rights that make democracy meaningful, influential democrats risk undermining human rights".
What are these words "allowing ... demanding ... undermining"? Their major premise is not just western superiority, to which I might subscribe, but western potency and, most extraordinary (and illegal), a western right to global sovereignty. The assumption behind "demand" has lain at the root of so much useless bloodshed over the past half century that a sense of history might surely counsel humility. And this from a Europe whose rulers in Brussels propose using opinion polls as the basis for their legislative legitimacy, without a peep of complaint from democracy's self-appointed guardians.
Democracy is an invitation to hypocrisy. Let us practise it ourselves and, if we must preach, preach by example. the excellent article in The Guardian


Holding Medvedev to His Words
by Jackson DIEHL
Dmitry Medvedev, the man Vladimir Putin has appointed to be elected as Russia's president next Sunday, is so slavishly devoted to his patron that he has begun imitating his physical quirks. That includes "how he lays his hands on the table or how he stresses key words in speeches," not to mention walking with "fast and abrupt steps," according to the Reuters journalist Oleg Shchedrov.
Medvedev presumably won't be exercising his power as president to dismiss the prime minister -- the position Putin is about to assume -- anytime soon. Yet the diminutive 42-year-old former law professor has been making some interesting statements the past couple of weeks. For example: "Russia is a country of legal nihilism. No European country can boast such a universal disregard for the rule of law."
Or: "Freedom is inseparable from the actual recognition by the people of the power of law. The supremacy of the law should become one of our basic values." Or: "One of the key elements of our work in the next four years will be ensuring the independence of our legal system from the executive and legislative branches of power."
It's hard to believe that Medvedev could mean this. After all, the man he is to succeed has, according to estimates by Russian and Western analysts, accumulated a $40 billion fortune while in office, ranging from shares in Russian energy companies to an apartment in Paris. On his watch, 14 journalists -- almost all of them Kremlin critics -- have been murdered, but none of the killers has been brought to justice. Relations with Britain are icy, thanks to Putin's refusal to act on Scotland Yard's case against the former KGB agent it says poisoned a Putin critic in London.
But criminality isn't limited to the Kremlin; it may be Russia's single greatest problem. Average citizens are frustrated by everything from the bribes necessary to obtain simple services to the extortion practiced by police and the susceptibility of judges to payoffs, as well as political orders. Promising the rule of law -- even if he doesn't apply it to Putin and his circle -- may be the juiciest pre-election promise Medvedev can make.
In any case, his pledge was seized upon by Lev Ponomarev, the courageous and pragmatic leader of the Russian movement For Human Rights, which is fighting an uphill battle to retard the country's return to Soviet-style lawlessness. Ponomarev was in Washington this month to lobby the Bush administration and the presidential campaigns; as he explained it, Russia's presidential transition offers a rare opportunity for outsiders to press Moscow to adhere to basic international standards.
"I don't have any big illusions," Ponomarev told me. "I think Mr. Medvedev is just another face of Mr. Putin. On the other hand it provides an opportunity to follow up on the rhetoric about the rule of law. If Mr. Medvedev says A, maybe it is possible to pressure him to say B. What can B be? It can be specific steps for restoring and enforcing legal norms." the full article in The Washington Post

Watch the debate about the invasion of Iraq between pro-war Clinton and intelligent Barack Obama:

Dictator Fidel Castro is a relic of a vanished age and fossilised revolution: Just a few more months and it would have been 10. Fidel Castro had already seen off nine US presidents, and had he hung on until 20 January 2009, George Bush would have joined them. Undoubtedly Mr Castro would have liked nothing better, but physical frailty, it seems, has had the last word. But, as long as he lives, his shadow will fall over whoever succeeds him. And as long as Mr Castro draws breath, he will be a reminder of how little has changed in this corner of the world since Dwight Eisenhower – the 34th president and first on the Castro contemporaries list – bequeathed to his successor, John Kennedy, a secret plan to invade Cuba that resulted in the 1961 fiasco of the Bay of Pigs. In his declining years Mr Castro has become, for better or worse, a listed global monument, a relic of the vanished age of Kennedy, Khrushchev and superpower brinkmanship, and of national liberation wars led by revolutionaries in dusty military fatigues. Nearly half a century on he is still wearing the fatigues, even though the revolution had fossilised into a regime sustained primarily by the economic siege imposed by Cuba's giant neighbour to the north. In power since 1959, he has been the world's longest-serving ruler (although King Bhumibol Adulyade of Thailand, the head of state but not of government, has been around since 1946). The defining reality of the Castro era has been the regime's relations with the US, under leaders from Eisenhower to George Bush Jnr. In fact, Mr Castro's first contact with an occupant of the White House was cordial enough, a letter the 13-year-old schoolboy sent to Franklin Roosevelt in 1940, asking for a $10 bill. "Never, I have not seen a ten dollars bill green American and I would like to have one of them," he wrote, signing off as "Your friend". In reply, Mr Castro received a pro-forma letter, but sadly no money – and for his ties with the US it was downhill all the way thereafter. Two decades later, his guerrilla army toppled the pro-US dictator Fulgencio Batista, and Cuba's undeclared war with Washington began. Successive US administrations kept up the pressure, with the exception of Jimmy Carter. But that brief thaw ended with the Mariel boat lift of 1980, as Mr Castro encouraged a mass exodus by sea of 120,000 Cubans to the US (including many hardened criminals and people who were mentally ill) to cope with a domestic political crisis. Relations returned to a chill that not even the demise of the Soviet Union could lift. Under George Bush Jnr, who has further tightened travel and financial restrictions against the island, the climate has become frostier still. The confrontation, however, leaves most rational outsiders baffled. What is it about Cuba, they wonder, that makes otherwise sane American leaders lose their own sense of reason? the article by Rupert Cornwell in The Independent

Mahn Sha La Phan: Resistance leader of Burma's Karen people, he tried to keep the opposition united. In 2000, Mahn Sha La Phan, who has been assassinated aged 64, became general secretary of Burma's most significant insurgent organisation, the Karen National Union (KNU). With the death of its chairman, General Bo Mya, in 2006, Mahn Sha, a man of talent and integrity, had become the most significant figure within the KNU, and its chief ideologue. He was also a leader of the National Council of the Union of Burma (NCUB), and other opposition movements. Unlike most leaders of the Christian-dominated KNU, he came from a Buddhist background and was a speaker of the Pwo dialect. His murder is a great setback to the KNU, and for the wider Burmese opposition, whose strained unity he did so much to support. The KNU went underground in 1949, a year after Burmese independence. Sixty years on, the Burmese civil war is the longest-running such conflict in the world, and the country's ethnic minority populations, such as the Karen, have suffered greatly. Following the collapse of the Communist party of Burma in 1989, some two dozen of the country's ethnic insurgent organisations agreed ceasefires with the military government, which had seized power in 1962, and, most recently, in September 2007, crushed the popular protests led by Buddhist monks. Mahn Sha was among those KNU leaders who argued that such ceasefire agreements have achieved little, and that any peace deal must involve a comprehensive settlement of the country's political problems, and the freeing of political prisoners, including the democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi. Mahn Sha was born in Taw Gyaung village, Maubin district, in the Irrawaddy delta. He studied history at Rangoon University, and went underground in the mid-1960s. The young activist was identified with a left-leaning, Karen nationalist faction, before uniting with the KNU in the mid-1970s, and becoming a central committee member in 1984. Always popular with the rank and file, he was for many years treated with some suspicion by the rightwing KNU leadership. When, between 1985 and 1986, he led efforts to unite the fractious ethnic nationalist movement with the then strong communist insurgency, he was rebuked and demoted by Bo Mya. By the late 1980s Mahn Sha had been reinstated to the leadership. This was a period of optimism in insurgent and opposition circles along the Thailand-Burma border. Between 1988 and 1990, large numbers of university students and other activists fled to "liberated zones" controlled by the KNU and other ethnic insurgent groups, following the brutal suppression of the 1988 "democracy uprising" and the government's failure to recognise the results of the 1990 elections. Mahn Sha was one of the main contact points between the armed ethno-nationalist movement, which promoted federal solutions to the country's political crises, and members of a new generation of democracy activists, who fled from urban areas to join the insurgency in the Karen hills and forests of eastern Burma. But during the 1990s, the KNU lost control of the remaining "liberated zones", as hundreds of thousands of Karen and other villagers were displaced in the army's brutal but effective counter-insurgency. ...more in The Guardian - Read Mahn Sha latest interview in Christian Aid

The only winner in Beijing will be tyranny: Pick any dictatorship at random and chances are you'll find China lurking in the background. At the opening ceremony of the 2008 Olympics, spectators will watch as athletes from the worst regimes on the planet parade by. Whether they are from dictatorships of the left or right, secular or theocratic, they will have one thing in common: the hosts of the games that, according to the mission statement, are striving 'for a bright future for mankind' will support their oppressors. The flag of Sudan will flutter. China supplied the weapons that massacred so many in Darfur. As further sweeteners, it added interest-free loans for a new presidential palace and vetoes of mild condemnations of genocide from the United Nations. In return, China got most of Sudan's oil. The Burmese athletes will wave to the crowd and look as if they are representing an independent country. In truth, Burma is little more than a Chinese satellite. In return for the weapons to suppress democrats and vetoes at the UN Security Council, the junta sells it gas at discounted rates far below what its wretched citizens have to pay. There will be no Tibetan contingent, of course. Chinese immigrants are obliterating the identity of the occupied country, which will soon be nothing more than a memory. Athletes from half-starved Zimbabwe, whose senile despot props himself up with the Zimmer frame of Chinese aid, will be there, however. As will teams from the Iranian mullahocracy, grateful recipients of Chinese missiles and the prison state of North Korea, for whom China is the sole reliable ally. the article by Nick Cohen in The Guardian

A rare meeting with the last of Burma's royals: In the hills above Mandalay, the old British summer capital of Burma is a microcosm of the country's imperial past, and its Orwellian present. Maymyo's most interesting resident lives anonymously in a mock Tudor villa that looks more Berkhamsted than Burma. He might be the king of this country if the British had not toppled his grandfather, King Thibaw, in 1885. According to Taw Paya, 84, the old monarchy can still stir emotions in Burma, although his family abandoned any political aspirations long ago. "It's slowly being forgotten by the educated people," he said, "but the country people still have lingering memories. Whenever one of we the royal types goes out there, everyone crowds around as if you had come down from a satellite." Taw Paya himself rarely travels -"because of the restrictions this wretched government imposes on one's movements"- but such constraints have always been a fact of his life. "Look here," he said. "When the British were here we were not even allowed to cross the Irrawaddy River." Burma's colonial masters were afraid that King Thibaw's heir would visit the legendary "victory ground" at the town of Shwebo and stir the populace with a myth of royal invincibility. ...more in The Telegraph

Australia's stolen generation: 'To the mothers and the fathers, the brothers and the sisters, we say sorry': Today marks a historic apology by the Australian government to its Aboriginal community for years of estrangement, lies and abuse. But while the official admission of guilt is welcomed, the question of compensation still remains. By Andy McSmith and Christopher Finn. It has been a long time coming, but at last Australia has said the word its Aboriginal population wanted to hear. It was uttered three times, early this morning, when the new Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, addressed the Australian Parliament. That word was "sorry". For years, Australians have agonised over the fate of about 100,000 Aborigine children who were taken from their families because the government believed that their race had no future and they would be better off being brought up in white society. Yesterday, as Australia's Parliament returned from its summer break, its formal opening was turned into a ceremony designed to draw a line under one of the nastiest episodes in Australian history and usher in a new era of "mutual respect". If nothing else, it made for one of the most colourful starts to any parliamentary session, as thousands of Aborigines poured into the capital, Canberra. Kirstie Parker, the managing editor of the Aboriginal newspaper the Koori Mail, said she found the apology "very moving". ...more in The Independent - The Times - The Guardian - The Telegraph


Chilean Activist's Fast Passes 100 Days: An indigenous-rights activist jailed for setting fire to a farm once owned by Mapuche Indians passed the 100-day mark of a prison hunger strike by urging colleagues to ``continue to fight'' for the recovery of their lands. ``Let's keep advancing, more united than ever to defend our rights to land and freedom,'' Patricia Troncoso said in a letter dated Jan. 18, the 100th day of her fast, and released on Monday. Troncoso was taken by prison officials to a southern hospital eight days ago as her health deteriorated. Troncoso and four Mapuche Indians, members of a movement to recover land seized from their native ancestors, were in 2005 sentenced to 10 years in prison for setting a farm in southern Chile on fire. They began a hunger strike to protest prison conditions and lobby for the status of ``political prisoner'' in October, but only Troncoso, 37, has continued it - regularly drinking sugar water, according to prison officials. On Monday, Amnesty International... asked Chilean President Michelle Bachelet to intercede in what Amnesty called ``an unjust trial and sentence.'' ...more in The Guardian

Bloody reality bears no relation to the delusions of this USA President: As a bomb explodes in Beirut and Israel kills 19 in Gaza raids, Bush takes his Middle East peace mission to Saudi Arabia (and signs off $20bn weapons deal with repressive regime). Twixt silken sheets – in a bedroom whose walls are also covered in silk – and in the very palace of King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, President George Bush awakes this morning to confront a Middle East which bears no relation to the policies of his administration nor the warning which he has been relaying constantly to the kings and emirs and oligarchs of the Gulf: that Iran rather than Israel is their enemy. The President sat chummily beside the all-too-friendly monarch yesterday, enthroned in what looked suspiciously like the kind of casual blue cardigan he might wear on his own Texan ranch; he had even received a jangling gold "Order of Merit" – it looked a bit like the Lord Chancellor's chain, though it was not disclosed which particular merit earned Mr Bush this kingly reward. Could it be the hypocritical merit of supplying yet more billions worth of weapons to the Kingdom, to be used against the Saudi regime's imaginary enemies. It was illusory, of course, like all the words that the Arabs have heard from the Americans these past seven days, ever since the fading President began his tourist jaunt around the Middle East. You wouldn't think it though, watching this preposterous man, prancing around arm-in-arm with the King, in what was presumably meant to be a dance, wielding a massive glinting curved Saudi sword, a latter-day Saladin, who would have appalled the Kurdish leader who once destroyed the Crusaders in what is now referred to by Mr Bush as "the disputed West Bank". Is this how lame-duck American presidents are supposed to behave? Certainly, the denizens of the Middle East, watching this outrageous performance will all be asking this question. Ever since the 1979 Iranian revolution, a Muslim Cold War has been raging within the Middle East – but is this how Mr Bush thinks one should fight for the soul of Islam? the article by Robert Fisk in The Independent

Year 2007


France 24 reports on the new Spanish Party Union, Progress and Democracy - UPD founded by Rosa Diez and Fernando Savater with the support of citizens from all walks of life, included artists and intellectuals as the famous writer Mario Vargas LLosa and the founder of our organisation of Friends of Borges:


Responsables políticos de los tres grandes partidos del Reino Unido - Conservadores, Liberales y el gobierno Laborista- hablan (en inglés) y actúan (internacionalmente) en favor de la Democracia y los Derechos Humanos en Birmania: Including: The Prime Minister - Gordon Brown MP The Leader of the Opposition - David Cameron MP The Foreign Secretary - David Miliband MP The Conservative Shadow Foreign Secretary - William Hague MP The Liberal Democrat Shadow Foreign Secretary Michael Moore MP The Conservative Shadow Secretary of State for International Development Andrew Mitchell MP For more videos from Burma Campaign UK click here For more details on Burma Campaign UK go to

Activists send female underwear to Burmese embassies as an insult to dictatorship: ...The manoeuvre is a calculated insult to the junta and its leader, General Than Shwe. Superstitious junta members believe that any contact with female undergarments - clean or dirty - will sap them of their power, said Jackie Pollack, a member of the Lanna Action for Burma Committee. ..."Not only are they brutal, but they are also very superstitious. They believe that touching a woman's pants or sarong will make them lose their strength," Ms Pollack told Guardian Unlimited. So far, hundreds of pairs of pants have been posted, according to another campaigner, Liz Hilton. "One group sent 140 pairs to the Burmese embassy in Geneva," she said. The campaign was a serious attempt to allow ordinary women to express their outrage at the regime's response to democracy demonstrations led by Buddhist monks, Ms Pollack said. "Condemnation by the United Nations and governments around the world have had no impact on the Burmese regime. This is a way of trying to reach them where they will feel it," she said. "The junta is famous for its abuse of women: it is well documented that they use rape as a weapon of war against ethnic minorities. This is a way for women around the world to express their outrage." ...more in The Guardian - The Times - The Telegraph - The Independent

London supporters march for Burma:
Chants and drum beats echoed off the faceless, stone buildings of Whitehall on Saturday as hundreds marched past the seat of Britain's democratic government to highlight Burma's plight. March alongside Parliament Monks led the way past Parliament Led by about a dozen monks, sober-faced and swathed in their saffron robes, protesters of all ages yelled: "What do we want? Democracy. When do we want it? Now". ..."No more bloodshed. Free Aung San Suu Kyi," read the Amnesty International banners. Others proclaimed "Security Council Action Now". The London event was one of many planned for around the world, including rallies in Austria, Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, India, the Irish Republic, New Zealand, Norway, South Korea, Spain, Thailand and the US. ...Howard Nguyen, 57, originally from Vietnam, marching with his family, said: "We are here supporting democracy in Burma. They have a very much suppressive government and we want to add our voice to protect the people there. ...For Mark, carrying his four-year-old daughter Molly on his shoulders, the images had spurred him to join the protest. "I saw some horrific images on TV and we just wanted to show our support," he said as Molly waved a home-made banner saying "Down with the junta". ...Standing in Trafalgar Square, Jo Lee Morrison cries as she explains why she has marched."This is really emotional for me. It has been too long since anyone has cared for the Burmese people. Now that people are looking we have to do something, and show solidarity with them." Her interest in Burma was sparked five years ago when she lived on the Thai border with Burma, teaching English to Burmese refugees. "I hope this march will show activists in Burma that we care and will keep putting pressure on western governments and China and India. ...more in the BBC

A Civic Coalition fights corruption and for Democracy and Justice in Argentina:


Grandmaster Garry Kasparov will challenge Putin authoritarian power:
The chess genius is now planning his greatest game - bringing down the Russian President. And for the man once dubbed 'the Beast of Baku', it will end, for the moment, in certain defeat. But this is just his opening gambit. Next March, Russia will hold its presidential elections. There are only two possible outcomes. Either Vladimir Putin's yet-to-be-announced successor will triumph or Putin will change the rules and continue in power for a third term. There is no opposition worthy of the name, yet there is one fiercely determined opponent and his name is Garry Kasparov.
Last Monday, the former chess world champion was chosen by the Moscow branch of the coalition group called Drugaya Rossiya (Other Russia) to lead them in the elections. Mr Kasparov has been a driving force behind the Other Russia coalition, which has united liberals, Leftists and nationalists in opposition to President Vladimir Putin.
He received 379 out of 498 votes cast at a national congress held in Moscow. Russia's presidential election, in which Mr Putin is constitutionally barred from standing, will take place in March 2008.
Mr Kasparov's place on the ballot is not guaranteed as his candidacy still needs to be registered and is likely to be blocked. Even if he were allowed to run, Mr Kasparov would not be expected to pose a major challenge to whichever candidate wins Mr Putin's backing. ... more in The Guardian - The Times - The Telegraph


Please sing the petition to stop making a crime in New York to take a photo


La amarga despedida de la ciudadana Cindy Sheehan: La madre que simbolizó el rechazo a la guerra de Irak se siente traicionada por el Partido Demócrata... La madre coraje símbolo de la lucha contra la guerra de Irak ha tirado la toalla. Sumida en el desengaño, agotada, con su vida privada destrozada desde hace más de dos años, Cindy Sheehan da un paso atrás y se retira. Con una carta de más de 1.200 palabras colgada en el blog liberal Daily Kos, Sheehan dice adiós al movimiento pacifista. "Me voy a casa", asegura. Se marcha. Sin ruido. Pero con críticas. Sheehan se siente traicionada por los políticos del Partido Demócrata que no han sido capaces de poner fin a la guerra en Irak, que se ha cobrado hasta hoy más de 3.400 vidas de soldados estadounidenses. Entre ellas, la de su hijo Casey, de 24 años, que caía en el campo de batalla de Bagdad en abril de 2004 mientras buscaba las inexistentes armas de destrucción masiva que sirvieron de excusa para la invasión un año antes. A partir de ahí, esta madre doliente pasó de ser una anónima mujer de Vacaville, un pueblo de California, a convertirse en el símbolo que aglutinó el descontento contra la guerra que George Bush desencadenó en Irak. La que un día no muy lejano fue el símbolo del movimiento antiguerra se declara maltratada por los blogs liberales que un día la ensalzaron. Especialmente "desde que renuncié a los lazos que me ataban al partido demócrata", escribe. Se la ha tildado de "ramera oportunista" y se le ha dicho "¡Ya era hora!" cuando ha anunciado su decisión. "Me han llamado todos y cada uno de los nombres despectivos que se les pueda pasar por la mente", comenta con pena en su diario. "Mi vida ha sido amenazada demasiadas veces". En ese mismo diario online, el lunes, el día en que en EE UU se homenajeaba a los soldados caídos en el campo de batalla, describió su decepción y su pena al darse cuenta de que "fui la niña mimada de la izquierda mientras limité mis críticas a George Bush y al partido republicano". A Cindy Sheehan se la comió el sistema bipartidista norteamericano, según sus propias palabras. "Se me ha llamado radical", escribe en el diario, "porque creo que las políticas bipartidistas se deberían dejar de lado cuando cientos de personas mueren por una guerra basada en mentiras y que apoyan republicanos y demócratas por igual". ...más en diarios El País -
Y en la web de Gold Star Families for Peace

Boy Born to Rebel Hostage Clara Rojas Shocks War-Weary Colombia: Details about his entrance into this world are sparse, but this much about him has been gleaned: he is 3 years old and lives in the jungle; his mother is Clara Rojas, a former aspirant to the vice presidency of this country; and his father is one of the guerrillas who have held Ms. Rojas in captivity for the last five years. Emmanuel’s existence was first reported to an unsettled public last year. But revelations in recent weeks, including his name, obtained from an emaciated police officer who spent 17 days in the wilderness after escaping from a guerrilla encampment in southern Colombia, have shaken a country hardened by a seemingly interminable war in which kidnapping has been polished into an effective weapon. “Clara suffered so much,” said Jhon Frank Pinchao, the policeman who fled from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, the country’s largest rebel group, after eight years in captivity, in an emotional news conference here in mid-May. “I could hear her asking to see her son.” Mr. Pinchao, who said he once held Emmanuel in his arms, offered a few other details about the boy. He said the boy was healthy and was raised as “an Indian boy is treated.” Two men kidnapped by the FARC, with the surnames Buitrago and Moreno, stitched clothes for Emmanuel by hand, as did the guerrillas, Mr. Pinchao said. “They would take him to see her,” the policeman said. “Then they would pick him up,” he continued. “The guerrillas were in charge of the child.” With those words, Mr. Pinchao turned the world of Ms. Rojas’s family here upside down and sent some of his countrymen into bouts of soul-searching as they contemplated a nation in which babies were born in captivity. Questions as to what ties existed between Ms. Rojas and Emmanuel’s father, whose identity is not public, are unanswered. ...more in The New York Times


London exile Berezovsky says force necessary to bring down authoritarian Putin: he Russian tycoon Boris Berezovsky has told the Guardian he is plotting the violent overthrow of Putin from his base in Britain after forging close contacts with members of Russia's ruling elite. In comments which appear calculated to enrage the Kremlin, and which will further inflame relations between London and Moscow, the multimillionaire claimed he was already bankrolling people close to the president who are conspiring to mount a palace coup. ...In an interview with the Guardian, however, Mr Berezovsky goes much further than before, claiming to be in close contact with members of Russia's political elite who, he says, share his view that Mr Putin is damaging Russia by rolling back democratic reforms, smothering opposition, centralising power and flouting the country's constitution. ...more in The Guardian


Rep. Dennis Kucinich was one of eight Congressmembers to vote against the House war-spending bill last week that set a timetable for the withdrawal of troops from Iraq: We go to Capitol Hill to speak with Kucinich about the bill, why he thinks impeachment "should be on the table," the corporate media's coverage of the race for the Democratic presidential nomination and more. ... Well, we were given false choices. We were told that we either buy into president Bush's plan, which is keep the war going indefinitely, or accept the Democratic version of the war in Iraq, which would keep the war going for another year or two. I say those choices weren't sufficient. The Democrats could have refused to send a bill forward. We didn't have to fund this war. We're not under any obligation to keep the war going. And yet our leaders took another path. Furthermore, Amy, you may be interested to know that the 2008 budget, which is before Congress today and will be voted on tomorrow, contains another $145 billion for the war, and on top of that, they're putting another $50 billion for the war in fiscal year 2009. So this talk about ending the war by March or by September belies the fact that the budget has money in it to keep the war going into 2009. And I think that's wrong. I think the American people will reject that type of thinking, and I’m standing strong to say get out now. I put forth a plan embodied in HR 1234. To accomplish just that., listen and read the interview in Democracy Now!

Israeli author and Peace activist Prof. Tanya Reinhart unfortunately dies at only 63: Tanya Reinhart has died of a stroke at the age of sixty-three. Reinhart was one of the most outspoken critics of Israeli government policies and one of Israel's leading advocates for Palestinian national rights. She was professor emeritus of linguistics and media studies at Tel Aviv University and Global Distinguished Professor of Linguistics at New York University. She wrote columns for Israel's largest daily newspaper, Yediot Ahranot, and had an active following of readers around the world for her critical perspectives on the Israel-Palestine conflict. Her books include "Israel/Palestine: How to End the War of 1948" and "The Road Map to Nowhere." In December, she moved to New York saying she could no longer live in Israel due to its treatment of Palestinians in the Occupied Territories. the homage in Democracy Now!

[Watch an extract of Tanya Reinhart public defense of justice for the Palestians by clicking on the screen

And watch President Jimmy Carter speaking of his book "Palestine, Peace not Apartheid"]


Maher ARAR an innocent Canadian citizen kidnapped by the Bush administration in 2002 and sent to be tortured in Syria for over a year. Please visit the website [clicking on the banner] for more information and to support his legal battle to seek Justice. ...We are glad to announce that Justice was obtained for Mr Arar thanks to the support of so many citizens from the all over the Earth who support this campaign for Justice. Special thanks to the excellent journalism done by Democracy Now.

Year 2006,


A British Citizen: Putin must prove by deeds he is not linked to Litvinenko’s murder. Alexander Litvinenko’s final testament, released after his death on Thursday evening, is deeply moving. It is also political dynamite. He thanked the hospital that battled to save him. He thanked his friends and the British authorities and paid tribute to the country that had granted him citizenship a month before his death. And dramatically accusing President Putin of having no respect for life, liberty or any civilised value, he said the Russian leader may have succeeded in silencing one man, “but a howl of protest from around the world will reverberate in your ears for the rest of your life”. ... Mr Putin has been deeply embarrassed by the murder. His open quest to make Russia respected again around the world is not helped by accusations of running a gangster state. He must, therefore, offer British investigators full co-operation and total access to all those they might want to question. A refusal or even prevarication must be taken as evidence of complicity. Nor should Russia be given the impression that this is a small episode that will be forgotten in a few weeks. Any policy of trying to tough it out should be met with an even tougher response from Britain. Mr Litvinenkno was a citizen of this country. His murder is an affront to our laws, our democracy and our way of life. the article in The Times
For more information on Mr. Litvinenko's assasination by the Kremlin please visit our page Universal Chronicle of Infamy.


A good man, an Architect of Good, is awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace 2006: The inspirational economist Muhammad Yunus was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize today for helping lift millions of his fellow Bangladeshis from poverty through a pioneering scheme that lends tiny amounts of money to the very poorest of borrowers. Professor Yunus shares the prize, and the cheque for 10 million Swedish Kronor (£730,000) that accompanies it, with the Grameen Bank, which he founded after the Bangladeshi famine of 1974 and whose micro-credit model has since been copied in dozens of countries around the world. ...more in The Times - The Guardian - The Nobel Prize Foundation

Army chief: British troops must pull out of Iraq soon General attacks government policy that has 'exacerbated' security risks: ... General Sir Richard Dannatt, the head of the army, dropped a political bombshell last night by saying that Britain must withdraw from Iraq "soon" or risk serious consequences for Iraqi and British society. In a blistering attack on Tony Blair's foreign policy, Gen Dannatt said the continuing military presence in Iraq was jeopardising British security and interests around the world....more in The Guardian


Clare Short to stand down as Member of Parliament at next election in protest for Blair's administration: In a withering article in today’s Independent, Ms Short accused the Prime Minister of eroding the rule of law and civil liberties. She also criticised the Government’s handling of public services, and accused it of being incompetent and pandering to grab the media’s attention. ...more in The Times - The Independent - The Guardian


Help save the children, victims of the Israeli attacks on Lebanon: A huge number of the victims of this war - the dead, the maimed and the dispossessed - are children. The figures are stark. Of the 615 people so far confirmed dead, Save The Children says that almost half are children. They make up one third of the 3,225 injured, and about 45 per cent of the nearly one million Lebanese refugees are under the age of 18, according to UNICEF. But despite the shocking images and the harrowing accounts of suffering, there is an acute shortfall of money raised for the children caught up in the conflict. They need help now. The Independent and Save the Children are launching an appeal for the children of Lebanon (see below), for urgent food, medicine and clothing desperately needed as the violence continues to escalate. ...more in The Independent

The wisest USA president Jimmy Carter writes on the Libanon agression by Israel and the USA: It is inarguable that Israel has a right to defend itself against attacks on its citizens, but it is inhumane and counterproductive to punish civilian populations in the illogical hope that somehow they will blame Hamas and Hezbollah for provoking the devastating response. The result instead has been that broad Arab and worldwide support has been rallied for these groups, while condemnation of both Israel and the United States has intensified. ... read the full text in The Carter Center and watch Democracy Now


Charities and religious leaders condemn Blair for failing to back peace in the Midle East: Charities, civil rights groups and Britain's leading Muslim organisation today unite in signing an open letter to Tony Blair condemning him for his failure back the United Nations' call for a ceasefire in the Middle East... more in The Independent

A policeman makes a film, "The Unforgiveables", to show the cruel drive of Japan's mobsters: As a policeman who had spent years tangling with Yakuza gangsters in Japan's far south, Masataka Yabu had reached his limit. After years of watching rose-tinted movies and dramas glorifying mobsters as anti-heroes at war with decaying modern values, the head of Kita-Kyushu's organised crime unit decided to take drastic action - he made his own film. "Youngsters think the Yakuza are cool because they have this false image. After they join up they find the reality is a lot different, but by then it's too late...." read more in The Independant

The one good man who brought down Guantanamo: thanks to the integrity of a militar lawyer, Charles Swift, who challenged the USA administration Bush's concentration camp will have to close. The ruling that Mr Bush overstepped his powers brought new calls for the camp to close "My father says it was the case I was born to take," Swift recalled. "He said it has my two propensities: to both believe absolutely in country and military and, at the same time, to question everything."... more in The Telegraph - The Times - read the interview in Cage Prisoners - The Law Journal

Londoners and the world commemorate victims of the 7th July 2005 terrorist attacks on public transport: Commemoration services are taking place across London and the world today as Britain remembers the events of July 7 2005 and the 52 who died in the atrocities. The public have been invited to add to a mosaic of flowers at Queen Mary's Gardens in Regents Park. A commemorative event will be held at the gardens tonight at 6pm. ...more in The Guardian


The Israeli army launched assaults on Palestinian territories pretexting the capture of a single soldier Cpl Shalit, despite his father, Noam, cautioned against using the capture of his son, in a cross-border raid by Palestinian militias nearly two weeks ago, as a justification for a wider military operation. Israel has reoccupied former Jewish settlements in response to the attacks on Ashkelon, until now well beyond the range of the rudimentary Palestinian missiles. Politicians and the army acknowledge that now the tanks and troops are in again it may not withdraw them swiftly even if the captured Israeli soldier, Corporal Gilad Shalit, is freed. It is to note that Palestinian rocket attacks on Israeli communities have not killed anyone since Israel pulled Jewish settlers and ground forces out of the Gaza Strip in October. ... more in The Guardian

President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela visits London: Chávez and Venezuela deserve the support of all who believe in social justice and democracy argues Mayor Ken Levingston in his article "Not a difficult choice at all", which you can read in The Guardian


Berlusconi is compared to the mafioso Menem in a new DVD "Once upon a time was Silvio..." by the journalist Enrico Deaglio director of the newspaper ... sea the trailer clicking on the image and visit the website for more information (in italian)


London Mayor's Statement
28 February 2006
Following the decision of the court on 28 February to 'stay' the suspension of the Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, the Mayor made the following personal statement... read the complet text in London website

Statement from the Archbishop of York on Guantanamo Bay it here

UN calls for the Guantánamo concentration camp to close:
Prisoners treatment 'amounts to torture. Try detainees or release them, says report. Bush government dismisses report ...more in The Guardian

A valiant lawyer who dares to investigate mobsters, terrorists, corrupt city bosses and even the White House ... more in The Guardian

Jan 2006 UN unveils plan to release untapped wealth of...$7 trillion (and solve the world's problems at a stroke) ...more in The Independent

Year 2005

British Human Rights Lawyer Ms. Gareth Peirce Says Torture "Is the Recipe for the Destruction" of International Human Rights and listen the exclusive interview in Democracy Now - read also a valient statement denouncing brutal treatment of refugees here - and an interview in the BBC

06 Oct 05 Refugee who opposed an African dictator is confirmed as archbishop of York: The Church hopes that its first black archbishop in England will imbue it with evangelising zeal lacking in the conservative, white men who have gained preferment in the past... more in The Independent

Simon Wiesenthal in tireless pursuit of justice ... more in BBC news

Argentinean woman takes legal action to drop her torturer's surname ... more in

Near the Bush's ranch, protests expand against the endless number of death because of the invasion of Irak ... read all in The Washington Post

A year on from train bombs, pain is still etched on streets of Madrid
Families grieve while anger is directed at politicians and media... more in The Guardian - watch ceremonies in the BBC

Nicola CALIPARI, a good man, a heroic citizen killed by Bush administration Read and see in BBC

Don Maurizio Calipari, fratello di Nicola: "Chi paga di persona cambia il mondo"
"Un'esperienza così non può passare inutilmente e invano" Read the speach in Italian in La Repubblica

Amnesty International founder, Peter Benenson, dies at age of 83... more in The Guardian and in the BBC News

The New Bush Doctrine, by George Soros read the article

Citizens victory against McDonalds fast food
The European Court of Human Rights said the UK legal system breached the right to a fair trial and freedom of expression.The lack of legal aid effectively denied two citizens the right to a fair trial as guaranteed by the Human Rights Convention, to which the UK is a signatory. The director of the human rights and law reform group Justice, Roger Smith, said: "This is a wonderful victory for the sheer perseverance of two litigants who have just stuck to the task and insisted upon justice. I think it's also a victory for human rights and a recognition of legal aid as a basic human right which should be available in all types of cases where it is absolutely necessary." ... more in The Independent

Christian Bishop bans Mafia godfathers: It has emerged that Bishop Bregantini wrote to parish priests urging them to reject as godparents "mafiosi, masons and loan sharks". He said they could insist on the role being given to Church officials, voluntary workers or even the child's own parents. Earlier this week he followed up his instruction with an appeal to the young people being confirmed. "They themselves should make the choice of their godparents and not have the family's choice imposed on them," he said. Bishop Bregantini added that some young people in the Locri area had already rejected the sponsors chosen by their parents, which he called "an act of great courage and social importance".... read the article by John Hooper in The Guardian



Sir Derek Walcott, Poet & Playwright, a Nobel Laureate dies at 87 years...
William Shakespeare is 400 years young! Join the Celebrations in the World's stage...
Daniel Sibony's Seminar 2017 in Paris ...
'Anatomy of Influence', a new work by Harold Bloom ...
Bioy reveals in his diaries that his lifelong companion Borges lived his final years in fear of the "bizarre" character of his assistant Miss Kodama...


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