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Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Blackwater's Secret War in Pakistan : Jeremy Scahill Reveals

For months we've been reading slightly condescending English-language news reports about how Pakistanis believe the private security firm is operating with impunity in their country. Well guess what? Jeremy Scahill reports in the Nation that Blackwater is indeed operating on behalf of the U.S. in Pakistan. Blackwater personnel are reportedly doing "snatch and grab" assassinations in the unstable country
EXPECT DELAYS - Iraq's presidential election, scheduled for January, will almost certainly be delayed. The Iraqi Parliament disregarded a veto by one of Iraq's vice presidents, Tariq al-Hashimi, and passed some new amendments to a recently passed election law. The vice president promises to veto those, too. This time, Parliament doesn't seem to have the 60 percent majority necessary to override the vice presidential veto. American and UN diplomats tried unsuccessfully to broker a compromise that would satisfy al-Hashimi.
The White House announced that the U.S. will reveal an emissions reduction target before next month's Copenhagen summit. The target is expected to be in line with that outlined in climate legislation before the Senate--a 17-20% reduction from 2005 levels by 2020. The European Union has pledged to cut 20% over the same period, or 30% as part of a global deal
After years of delays, the UK is launching an official inquiry into the country's decision to join the Iraq war in 2003. The inquiry is expected to last 18 months. Key figures, including former Prime Minister Tony Blair, are slated to testify. On Tuesday, the committee heard from high-ranking officials who said that their counterparts in Washington were talking about "regime change" as early as 2001.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon offered his condolences to the family of a UN staffer whose remains were recently discovered in Lebanon. The staffer, Alec Collett, was abducted near the Beirut Airport in 1985. At the time of his disappearance, Collett was a former British journalist on assignment with the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East.
"Adam Serwer demolishes a talking point: What the articles on the subject all seem to omit is that there will be no TV cameras in the courtroom for this trial. Khalid Sheik Mohammed’s rants will be available only by transcript." Now, I tend to think a KSM rant would redound, overall, to the U.S.’s benefit, so I’m somewhat disappointed by this news. But no one should report that there’s going to be some kind of game-changing harangue from KSM when it’s not even going to be televised. Even beyond that, think about it for a second. Usama bin Laden has issued over 10 years’ worth of videoed anti-American rants....Yet al-Qaeda remains a potent-but-marginal phenomenon in the Muslim world. There is nothing, at all, that KSM could say in court that could change that fact. And still this demagogic and ignorant point is taken seriously in the media. "
The American Bar Association's new president has ties to some of the world's most repressive leaders. "Defending Liberty, Pursuing Justice" is the motto of the American Bar Association, and among the association's four stated goals, one is to "advance the rule of law." [...] Nonetheless, it is true: Carolyn Lamm, a D.C.-based corporate attorney who was named ABA president in August, has registered as a lobbyist in the past for such authoritarian states as Libya and Zaire. "
An Ontario court judge will soon decide if Canada’s prostitution laws should be struck down. In British Columbia, the Supreme Court will decide if laws prohibiting polygamy can still be enforced. And in the House of Commons, a private member’s bill would make it legal for the profoundly ill to seek a doctor’s help to commit suicide. As a nation we are reinventing, refining—or undermining—our morality in dramatic fashion. In some instances we are asking the courts to do our thinking for us. But in most cases we forge a national sense of right or wrong in the millions of individual judgment calls we make every day—increasingly without the guidance of organized religion. "

Dances with warlords. Afghan President Hamid Karzai invited two key allies to his inaugural gala: U.S. Secretary of State Hilllary Clinton and notorious warlord Abdul Rashid Dostum. Dostum, then a key U.S. ally in the fight to overthrow the Taliban, was in charge of about 2000 prisoners who suffocated in shipping containers in 2001. He returned from exile in Turkey earlier this year to help Karzai win the election.

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