Archive for March, 2008

US nearing Czech deal on missile defense

March 31, 2008

WASHINGTON (AP) – A senior U.S. missile defense negotiator says the United States is nearing a deal with the Czech Republic to install a radar on Czech soil.

John Rood, the U.S. State Department’s undersecretary for arms control and international security, says negotiations could be wrapped up within days “with a burst of activity.”

The Czech Republic is also saying that it is ready to sign a deal. Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek is quoted in a Czech newspaper Monday as saying that the last problems in negotiations have been cleared away. He says an announcement could come at NATO‘s summit in Bucharest, Romania that begins Wednesday.

The Czech parliament would have to approve any deal reached by the government.

Advertisements

China arrests suspects in Tibetan riots

March 31, 2008
By TINI TRAN, Associated Press Writer 

BEIJING – China lashed out at the Dalai Lama on Monday, accusing him of being a hypocrite who has deceived the west about his political agenda as authorities announced they had detained suspects in four deadly arson cases in Tibet.

Jiang Zaiping, the vice chief of the Public Security Bureau in the Tibetan capital of Lhasa, said investigators have taken into custody suspects responsible for arson attacks on three shops — including a clothing outlet where five young women were burned to death — and one in nearby Dagze county, the Tibet Daily newspaper reported Monday.

The fires killed a total of 12 people, state media has reported.

Authorities have taken 414 suspects into custody in connection with the anti-government riots, Jiang was quoted as saying. Another 298 people have turned themselves in, he said.

The Tibetan regional government also announced that the families of two of the women killed were given compensation of $28,170, the official Xinhua News Agency said.

It did not say how many suspects were involved in the four arson cases or give any other details.

An official who answered the telephone at the Lhasa Public Security Bureau said no senior officials were available to give details. He refused to give his name. It was unclear how many suspects had been directly involved in the four arson cases.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080331/ap_on_re_as/china_tibet_247

Departing Putin Seeks to Stop NATO Gains , Missile Defense

March 31, 2008
By VLADIMIR ISACHENKOV, Associated Press Writer 

MOSCOW – This week’s NATO summit in Romania will be Vladimir Putin‘s last appearance at a top-level international forum before he steps down as Russian president, still pushing to halt NATO‘s expansion into the stomping grounds of the former Soviet Union.
Natalya Vitrenko, who heads an anti-American party, left, burns ... 
Natalya Vitrenko, who heads an anti-American party, left, burns a NATO flag while rallying in front of U.S. Embassy to protest U.S. President George W. Bush’s visit and Ukraine’s efforts to join NATO, in Kiev, Ukraine, Monday, March 31, 2008.(AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

The Kremlin realizes it doesn’t have the power to force the West to reverse its recognition of Kosovo’s independence or persuade Washington to drop its plan to deploy missile defenses in Poland and the Czech Republic.

But Putin has had notable success in blocking NATO membership for its former Soviet neighbors — Ukraine and Georgia.

“Georgia’s accession into NATO will be seen here as an attempt to trigger a war in the Caucasus, and NATO membership for Ukraine will be interpreted as an effort to foment a conflict with Russia,” said Sergei Markov, a Russian parliament member with close links to the Kremlin.

Amid a litany of such threats from Moscow, some NATO members are reluctant to inflame tensions at the three-day summit that begins Wednesday in Bucharest.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080331/ap_on_re_eu/russia_vs_nato;_
ylt=AvVvJFFHKHXCtXchiQYdX2Gs0NUE

Pakistan: Can Tribal Elders Turn Over Osama to U.S.?

March 31, 2008

By Muhammad Khurshid
Voice For Peace
Khar, Bajaur Agency,Tribal Areas, Pakistan
March 31, 2008

Several tribal elders and maliks interviewed by Voice For Peace have shown willingness to hand over Osama bin Laden and other terrorists hiding in tribal areas to the United States as according to them, they are criminals and they must face charges in court of law whether it is in the United States or tribal areas. They suggested that the US forces and tribal people should carry out search operation jointly.

There are indications that Osama bin Laden may be hiding in Bajaur Agency, tribal areas situated on Pak-Afghan border as he according to reports, he along with his other colleagues were shifted to Bajaur Agency after launching of operation in Waziristan tribal region. At that time political agent of Bajaur Agency was from Waziristan Agency. Several maliks and elders confirmed the shifting of Osama to Bajaur Agency. Due to the sensitivity of the matter they requested that their names might not be disclosed.

On the other hand Pakistan media has been creating another militant leader in Bajaur Agency. A statement of the militant leader was carried out by several newspapers of Pakistan. According to The News International report, a militant leader with alleged ties to al-Qaeda has welcomed an offer by Prime Minister Gilani to negotiate with the militants accused of launching terrorist attacks from the tribal regions bordering Afghanistan.

Maulvi Faqir Mohammed said on Sunday his fighters were not “enemies” of Pakistan, adding “our war is with America”.

Speaking in the Bajaur tribal region, Maulvi Faqir told more than 4,000 supporters — hundreds of armed militants among them, “We welcome the government’s announcement of talks with the Taliban.”

Maulvi Faqir comments came a day after Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said in his inaugural speech that fighting terrorism was his government’s top priority. Gilani also said his government was willing to talk to militants who laid down their arms and “joined the path of peace”.

Expanding education and development in the impoverished region would be a “key pillar” of the government’s strategy against the militants in the tribal zone, the prime minister said. Maulvi Faqir said the government should not cooperate with the United States. ìWhenever Pakistan will work for the American interests as its ally, we will have our opposition to that matter,î Maulvi Faqir said amid chants of ìdeath to America.î 

Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan on Sunday welcomed the negotiation offer of the incoming NWFP government, saying that they were open to talks on enforcement of Shariah and restoration of peace in the restive Swat valley.

Talking to this scribe by telephone from an undisclosed location, TTP spokesman Sirajuddin said: “We hail the provincial government’s efforts for establishing law and order in the restive valley. However, end to the military operation is a prerequisite to achieve peace in the area,” he said.

He also demanded an immediate announcement regarding the implementation of Shariah in the Malakand region and reminded that government was duty-bound to fulfill its religious obligations.

Siraj also lauded MPA from Swat, Waqar Ahmed Khan for raising voice on the floor of provincial assembly for the people of Swat and showing his concern over the situation in the troubled region. He urged all political parties to unite in order to help restore peace in the picturesque valley.

Consequences of Speedy Withdrawal From Iraq?

March 31, 2008

By John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom
March 31, 2008

Every time I hear someone like Barack Obama talk about an immediate removal of American troops from Iraq, I say to myself: “you will condemn unknown millions to death and torture.”Even former National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski believes a speedy U.S. troop removal will be a good thing.  And he said he supports Mr. Obama.

Writing in the Washington Post yesterday (March 30, 2008), Mr. Brzinski said, “The contrast between the Democratic argument for ending the war and the Republican argument for continuing is sharp and dramatic. The case for terminating the war is based on its prohibitive and tangible costs, while the case for ‘staying the course’ draws heavily on shadowy fears of the unknown and relies on worst-case scenarios. President Bush’s and Sen. John McCain’s forecasts of regional catastrophe are quite reminiscent of the predictions of ‘falling dominoes’ that were used to justify continued U.S. involvement in Vietnam. Neither has provided any real evidence that ending the war would mean disaster, but their fear-mongering makes prolonging it easier.”

Ironically, many of the same liberals who demand an immediate withdrawal of American troops from Iraq are the same ones who believe they are great protectors of human rights and also suffer from the dream that America’s withdrawal from Vietnam was justified and made Southeast Asia a better place.

The truth is: America’s departure from Vietnam meant death, torture and imprisonment for millions of Vietnamese and Cambodians. Both contries became communist — which is hardly a good thing. 

In my view, America’s withdrawal from Vietnam was the biggest tragedy of American foreign policy during the last century. America’s withdrawal from Vietnam is a gigantic black mark on America’s history.

Yesterday, Dith Pran died. Dith Pran is the person who called the carnage in Cambodia after America left Vietnam “The Killing Fields.”

Mr. Max Boot, writing in today’s Washington Post said, “Why am I not reassured by Zbigniew Brzezinski’s breezy assurance in Sunday’s Outlook section that ‘forecasts of regional catastrophe’ after an American pullout from Iraq are as overblown as similar predictions made prior to our pullout from South Vietnam? Perhaps because the fall of Saigon in 1975 really was a catastrophe. Another domino fell at virtually the same time — Cambodia.”

Mr. Boot continued, “Estimates vary, but a safe bet is that some two million people died in the killing fields of Cambodia. In South Vietnam, the death toll was lower, but hundreds of thousands were consigned to harsh ‘reeducation’ camps where many perished, and hundreds of thousands more risked their lives to flee as ‘boat people.’”

How do I know personally about the carnage of refugees when America departs from a far away war zone? I am married to a former prisoner of communism and a refugee who was born in Vietnam.

Saigon fell to the communists in 1975. My bride made it to America in 1998. She considers herself one of the “lucky ones.”

Just yesterday, as my wife and I were teaching English to Vietnamese-Americans, a man named Chien told me that in 1975 his father was given three days notice by the communists to report for reeducation. He was gone for six years and ten months. When he returned, he had lost nearly half his body weight due to overwork, malnourishment and harsh conditions with no medial care.

Chien’s father considered himself one of the “lucky ones” — because he had seen so many tortured and seen so many deaths.

One of the most degrading and harmful crimes committed against refugees is rape. Pirates, criminals, police, guards, soldiers even sometimes representatives of the United Nations have been known to rape refugees.

The criminal act of rape is not so much a sexual act of gratification, according to psychologists. Instead, in the case of refugees, it is a barbaric act of power, control and forced compliance with any order or directive.

After hearing countless stories of rape and humiliation related to me by Vietnamese refugees and “boat people” who fled communist Vietnam between 1975 and the late 1990s, I thought it might be useful to share some small bits of these stories without using the real names of any of the victims.

May was about 25 years old when she left Saigon and began to run away from communism and toward freedom. She traveled with her family to the sea coast and as a group they paid a broker about $1,000 per person for the privilege of leaving Vietnam by boat.

They transited by sea toward Thailand and freedom but they had never heard about the pirates plying the seas in search of the vulnerable and weak.

May’s entire family and everyone else in her boat suffered the horrible fate of being descended upon by armed pirates. Four Vietnamese men were killed in the attack and two more were slaughtered because they did not react quickly enough to the orders of the pirates. One man was beheaded by the pirates in front of the horrified refugee women and children.

May and all the other women in the boat were raped repeatedly. But, because she was one of the youngest and most beautiful women in the boat, May was singled out for special humiliation, abuse and torture. Her arms were tied so each spread out parallel to the deck and away from her torso. The lines were knotted painfully tight so that she could not move. She looked like someone subjected to crucifixion. Then her ankles were bound and tied so that her legs were apart. More than 22 men had they way with May before she lost consciousness.

When she regained the ability to think, she felt unbearable pain and shame and embarrassment. He own mother cut her down after the pirates left and tended to her bleeding.

When this refugee boat made landfall in Thailand, every woman was “rinsed out” without her own consent or authorization. The Thais didn’t want any pregnant refugees on their hands.

“And the cost of entering Thailand and the cost of entering the refugee camp was rape,” a Vietnamese American woman told us.

“My sister was raped 13 times,” she said.

“Many of my relatives disappeared. We are sure they must have been killed.”May wound up in the infamous Thai refugee center called “Sikhiew Camp.” She estimated that in her two year stay there she was raped about 60 more times.

Another Vietnamese woman named Suan told me a heartening story about the value of human life.

Like May, Suan was raped on the boat trip from Vietnam to Thailand. When she debarked from the boat in Thailand and saw the women being rinsed out, she faked an illness and refused the procedure. For some reason the Thai police sent her on her way to the refugee camp.

A few months later Suan realized that she was pregnant. All of her relatives and friends told her to abort the baby – and an old woman said she knew how to carry out the procedure as painlessly as possible.

Suan, a Roman Catholic who believed abortion to be a sin, prayed for two weeks for guidance. Then she told her mother she would need help having “her baby.”

Suan gave birth to a baby boy while in the refugee center. Today he is an American citizen who is a policeman in New England.

Suan’s decision to have her baby — a baby forced upon her by a man she didn’t know and didn’t love — turned out to be a good one. A real lesson in the value of human life and our ability to overcome hardship.

So when I hear people talk about quickly pulling American troops out of Iraq without discussing the implications for so many in that region who will then be at risk, I think about the refugees and their hardship. I live among them every day.

I live among the “lucky ones,” because millions died and we’ll never know how many.

Related:
Zbigniew Brzezinski’s Plan to End Iraq War

How Not to End the War
By Max Boot

‘Killing Fields’ survivor Dith Pran dies

Disaster of Hasty Withdrawal
By Henry Kissinger

Vietnam After the Fall of Saigon: 1975 Until Present

The Fall of Saigon: 1975 (Part II)

The Fall of Saigon: 1975 (Part I)

Thailand’s Criminal Abuse of Refugees: a Shameful 30+ Year Saga

Treasury’s Paulson unveils financial plan

March 31, 2008
By MARTIN CRUTSINGER, AP Economics Writer

WASHINGTON – The Bush administration is proposing the most sweeping overhaul of the financial regulatory system since the Great Depression.

The plan would change how the government regulates thousands of businesses from the nation’s biggest banks and investment houses down to the local insurance agent and mortgage broker.

Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson unveiled the 218-page plan in a speech in Treasury’s ornate Cash Room. He declared that a strong financial system was important not just for Wall Street but also for working Americans.

The administration’s plan was already drawing criticism from Democrats that it does not go far enough….

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080331/ap_on_go_ca_st_pe/fed_overhaul;_
ylt=AkgOZSBc1zePyHV7bypb6tus0NUE

How Not to End the War

March 31, 2008

 By Max Boot
The Washington Post
Monday, March 31, 2008; 12:00 AM

Why am I not reassured by Zbigniew Brzezinski’s breezy assurance in Sunday’s Outlook section that “forecasts of regional catastrophe” after an American pullout from Iraq are as overblown as similar predictions made prior to our pullout from South Vietnam? Perhaps because the fall of Saigon in 1975 really was a catastrophe. Another domino fell at virtually the same time — Cambodia.

Estimates vary, but a safe bet is that some two million people died in the killing fields of Cambodia. In South Vietnam, the death toll was lower, but hundreds of thousands were consigned to harsh “reeducation” camps where many perished, and hundreds of thousands more risked their lives to flee as “boat people.”

The consequences of the U.S. defeat rippled outward, emboldening communist aggression from Angola to Afghanistan. Iran’s willingness to hold our embassy personnel hostage — something that Brzezinski should recall — was probably at least in part a reaction to America’s post-Vietnam malaise. Certainly the inability of the U.S. armed services to rescue those hostages was emblematic of the “hollow,” post-Vietnam military. It took us more than a decade to recover from the worst military defeat in our history.

In a sense, however, we have never been able to shed its baleful legacy. Thirty years later, Ayman al Zawahiri acknowledged that he was still inspired by “the aftermath of the collapse of the American power in Vietnam and how they ran and left their agents.”

Read the rest:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/03/28/AR2008032801729.html?hpid=opinionsbox1 

Related:
Zbigniew Brzezinski’s Plan to End Iraq War

Refugees Suffer the Agony of Mankind’s Most Heinous Predators

For a real human story from Cambodia, start by reading:
‘Killing Fields’ survivor Dith Pran dies

Freed top Pakistani judge wants job back

March 31, 2008
By MATTHEW PENNINGTON, Associated Press Writer

QUETTA, Pakistan – Pakistan‘s deposed chief justice arrived in his hometown Monday to a hero’s welcome as he launched a drive to win back his old job and deal another blow to embattled President Pervez Musharraf.

Pakistan’s new government freed Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry and other senior judges last week, more than four months after they were dismissed and put under house arrest by the U.S.-backed president.

Hundreds of flag-waving political activists and black-suited lawyers gathered at Quetta‘s airport to greet Chaudhry as he began the first in a series of trips across the country to build support for the judges’ reinstatement.

“I hope this is an important moment for the revival and independence of the judiciary,” said Nasir Yousafzai, a high court lawyer. “We are on the verge of victory.”

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080331/ap_on_re_as/
pakistan_deposed_judge;_ylt=AuH
1wOqGa9e3fEhRj.xtvUWs0NUE

Olympic Torch Aflaim in China: Protests Expected

March 31, 2008
By STEPHEN WADE, Associated Press Writer  

BEIJING – The Olympic torch was re-lit Monday at an elaborate ceremony that signaled the start of a round-the-world relay that is expected to be a lightning rod for protests against China‘s policies and human rights practices.

President Hu Jintao opened the relay at an elaborate ceremony in Tiananmen Square in the heart of the capital, underlining the importance China places on the Olympics and its hopes to display a confident, strong nation to the world when the Games open Aug. 8.

The ceremony 130 days before the start of the Olympics was broadcast on state television, and comes a week after the lighting ceremony for the Olympic torch in Greece was marred by protests.

“I declare the torch relay of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games begun,” Hu said after handing the flame off to China’s Olympic and world champion hurdler, Liu Xiang. Liu jogged off the square as confetti flew, Chinese and Olympic flags waved and traditional drums pounded.

After a one-day stop in Beijing, the flame goes Tuesday to Almaty, Kazakhstan, the start of a monthlong 20-country, 85,100-mile global journey.
The grandiose relay is the longest in Olympic history and has the most torchbearers — a sign of the vast attention lavished on the Games by Beijing, which hopes to use it to showcase China’s rising economic and political power.

Instead, however, it has provided a stage for human rights activists….

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080331/ap_on_sp_
ol/olympic_torch;_ylt=AiaUo
PbxkaQCBCxzJf.nutes0NUE

France will push U.S. on EU defense

March 31, 2008

By Jon Ward
The Washington Times
March 31, 2008

French commitments to send 1,000 additional soldiers to Afghanistan may be conditional on U.S. support for the European Union’s defense plan that some say will shift power away from U.S. and British interests.
.
President Bush leaves this morning for a six-day trip to Eastern Europe and Russia, with an itinerary built around a two-day NATO summit in Bucharest, Romania.
.
NATO’s mission in Afghanistan is at the top of the agenda, but delegates also will discuss the acceptance of three new members: Albania, Croatia and Macedonia.
.
The 26 NATO members also will vote on whether to allow Georgia and Ukraine to begin the membership process. Russia’s opposition to the move promises to cast a long shadow on the summit.
.
Mr. Bush will end his trip with a stop in the Russian coastal resort of Sochi, where he will meet with President Vladimir Putin and President-elect Dmitry Medvedev to discuss missile defense and other issues.

US President George W. Bush heads to Europe Monday to push NATO ...
US President George W. Bush heads to Europe Monday to push NATO allies for more support in Afghanistan and to meet with his outgoing Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, pictured here.(AFP/Pool/File/Mikhail Klimentyev)

Read the rest:
http://www.washingtontimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080331/NATION/249650514/1001