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Sunday, December 28, 2008

Israel pounds Gaza for second day

By Nidal al-Mughrabi | Reuters | Sunday, December 28, 2008

GAZA (Reuters) - Israel launched air strikes on Gaza for a second day on Sunday, piling pressure on Hamas after killing more than 270 people in one of the bloodiest days in 60 years of conflict between the Palestinians and the Jewish state.

Dozens of Israeli armored vehicles massed along the Gaza border for a possible ground invasion and the U.N. Security Council called early on Sunday for a halt to the violence.

Israeli military affairs commentators said the Israeli offensive did not appear to be aimed at retaking the Gaza Strip or destroying the territory's Hamas government -- ambitious goals that could prove difficult and politically risky to achieve ahead of Israel's February 10 parliamentary election.

Instead, they said, Israel -- after an air bombardment on Saturday -- wanted to strengthen its deterrence power and force Hamas into a new truce that would lead to a long-term halt to cross-border rocket salvoes.

Israel said its warplanes carried out about 100 strikes on Saturday and that Palestinian militants had fired some 70 rockets at the Jewish state, killing one Israeli man.[read more]

VIDEO : 27th December 2008 - International Solidarity Movement (ISM) volunteers witness the devastation caused as over 200 Palestinians were killed by Israeli air-strikes

Friday, December 26, 2008



The Japanese save a lot. They do not spend much.
Also Japan exports far more than it imports.
Has an annual trade surplus of over $100 billion, yet
Japanese economy is considered weak, even collapsing.

Americans spend, save little.
Also US import more than it exports.
Has an annual trade deficit of over $400 billion.
Yet, the American economy is considered strong and
trusted to get stronger.

But where from do Americans get money to spend?
They borrow from Japan , China , and even India .
Virtually others save for the US to spend.

Global savings are mostly invested in US, in dollars.
India itself keeps its foreign currency assets of over
$50 billions in US securities.

China has sunk over $160 billion in US securities.

Japan 's stakes in US securities is in trillions.

The US has taken over $5 trillion from the world.
So, as the world saves for the US , Americans spend
freely. Today, to keep the US consumption going, that is for
the US economy to work, the countries have to remit $180 billion every
quarter that is $2 billion a day to the US !

Otherwise the US economy would go for a sick.
So will the global economy.

The result will be no different if US consumers begin consuming less.
A Chinese economist asked a neat question.

Who has invested more, US in China , or China in US?
The US has invested in China less than half of what
China has invested in US.

The same is the case with India .. We have invested in
US over $50 billion.
But the US has invested less than $20 billion in India

Why the world is after US?
The secret lies in the American spending, that they
hardly save. In fact they use their credit cards to spend their
future income.That the US spends is what makes it attractive to
export to the US . So US imports more than what it exports year afteR

The result:

The world is dependent on US consumption for its growth.
By its deepening culture of consumption, the US has
habituated the world to feed on US consumption.
But as the US needs money to finance its consumption,
the world provides the money.

It's like a shopkeeper providing the money to a customer so that the
customer keeps buying from his shop. The customer will not buy; the
shop won't have business, unless the shopkeeper funds him.

The US is like the lucky customer.

And the world is like the helpless shopkeeper financier.

Who is America 's biggest shopkeeper financer?

Japan of course. Yet it's Japan which is regarded as weak.
Modern economists complain that Japanese do not spend,
so they do not Grow.

To force the Japanese to spend, the Japanese government exerted itself.
Reduced the savings rates, even charged the savers.
Even then the Japanese did not spend (habits don't change, even
with taxes, do they?).

Their traditional postal savings alone is over $1.2 trillions, about
three times the Indian GDP. Thus, savings, far from being the strength of Japan ,
has become its pain.

Hence, what is the lesson?
A nation cannot grow unless the people spend, not save. Not just
spend, but borrow and spend.

Dr. Jagdish Bhagwati, the famous Indian-born economist
in the US, told that don't wastefully save.
Start spending, on imported cars and, seriously, even
on cosmetics! This will put all nations on a growth curve.
'Saving is sin, and spending is virtue.

Before you follow this neo economics, get some fools
to save so that you can borrow from them and spend.
This is what US has successfully done in last few

Written by Dr Jagdish Bhagwati an economist
- share your thought

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Plundering the Congo & The Destabilization of Congo

Wayne Madsen: Congo has fallen prey to a lot of people that want to loot its natural resources. Ethnic divisions are being stoked by client states of the US who arm both sides.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Bush's Final F.U. - a host of last-minute regulations

With president-elect Barack Obama already taking command of the financial crisis, it's tempting to think that regime change in America is a done deal. But if George Bush has his way, the country will be ruled by his slash-and-burn ideology for a long time to come.

"It's what we've seen for Bush's whole tenure, only accelerated," says Gary Bass, executive director of the nonpartisan group OMB Watch. "They're using regulation to cement their deregulatory mind-set, which puts corporate interests above public interests." . . . . [what are these regulations - read more]

"It's going to be very challenging for Obama," says Bass. "Is he going to want to look forward and begin changing the way government works? Or is he going to look back and fix the problems left by Bush? Either way, it's a tough call."

Friday, December 12, 2008

Anwar Ibrahim on YouTube with Riz Khan.

Anwar Ibrahim [present leader of opposition and MP of Malaysia] talk about the opposition, the coming shadow cabinet, the economics, press freedom and foreign direct investment.

Mahathir on YouTube with Riz Khan

Mahathir justifying his identity as a Malay, being a political critic, relating Abdullah Badawi's highandedness his opinion on ISA and the US.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The "Universal Declaration" of "Human Rights".

On December 10, 1948 the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted and proclaimed the "Universal Declaration" of Human Rights.
This animation brings all 30 articles to life using different techniques, from pen and ink to digital animation.

Today marks the 60th Anniversary of the "Universal Declaration" of "Human Rights" (UDHR). In commemoration, human rights organizations are using YouTube to inform citizens about the significance of the UDHR and the human rights violations that still plague our society.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

RPK & two others on Aljazeera.

Dec 3 – Malaysia Today editor Raja Petra Kamarudin said tonight that 99% of the rumours he reports on his website eventually turn out to be true.

Defending himself from a caller on a special interview with Riz Khan on satellite television station Al Jazeera who asked why he persisted in writing about rumours, he said time and time again he had been proven right with his stories. . . read more

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Mumbai Attacks - discussion.

Toll From Deadly, Coordinated Mumbai Attacks Tops 170, Two Top Indian Officials Resign, Tensions Rise Between India and Pakistan

Monday, November 24, 2008

Bank eat bank: Bailout encourages mergers

Banks are reportedly using their bailout money to buy up smaller banks instead of helping homeowners

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Report: US Uses Aid to Promote Non-Humanitarian Goals

The Development Assistance Research Associates (DARA) Humanitarian Response Index 2008 measures how effectively the world's 23 largest donors deliver aid. The United States ranked 15th in overall effectiveness and only 13th in the level of generosity measured by the size of its economy.

But it ranked near the bottom, 22nd, when it came to adherence to principles and guidelines established by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development to ensure that political considerations don't exclude worthy recipients of aid.

DARA's findings reflect what it called the United States' use of humanitarian assistance to achieve military or political goals in eight crisis zones the group studied, including Afghanistan, Colombia and the Palestinian territories. . . read more

Thursday, November 20, 2008

G20 Summit started an ideological war?

Can socialist planning work?

With economic crisis sweeping the globe, many people are asking if there is a better way to organise society. Kate Connelly and Esme Choonara explain how a planned socialist economy might work.

Planning does exist under capitalism – but it takes place within individual firms rather than across society as a whole.

Capitalism is also extremely undemocratic. Even in the parts of the world where we get to vote for parliamentary representatives, we have no control over most economic decisions that shape our lives.

Because production isn't tied to what people need, crises occur where companies find that their products can't be sold. Karl Marx explained that capitalism is the first economic system where you can have a crisis of overproduction, rather than a crisis of scarcity.

Socialist planning is about completely different priorities – producing for need, not for profit. It is impossible to determine what those needs are without extending democracy and involving the mass of the population in decision-making. . . . read more

The G-20 Summit: A Vote of Confidence for Capitalism?

The global financial crisis has produced a wide array of critics, but no pairing has been stranger than what you might call the capitalism-in-crisis coalition. Anti-government ideologues on the right and anti-business activists on the left are both arguing that capitalism is under threat, though from very different forces. The right-wingers fear that federal market intervention is just the tip of a socialist spear, while the left-wingers gleefully declare that the crisis is proof of capitalism's inherent failure. . . . . read more

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

G20 outcome

G20 Summit ends with action plan

G20 leaders have a nice dinner, but do not deal with how to make financial institutions serve the public

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

US Presidential Election 2008 – the First Casualty

A voter hotline set up by CNN to monitor polling problems received 56,000 calls, 22,000 of them being complaints. The most common problems concerned voter registration, absentee ballots going astray and voting machine malfunctions.

With the stakes high, there were reports of dirty tricks and legal battles, as well as what is now customary chaos at American polling stations. Voter intimidation, faulty machines, late poll openings, missing ballot papers and even the rain brought problems.

Police in Philadelphia were called to a polling booth where two members of the black power group the Black Panthers guarded the door, one of them armed with a knight stick, intimidating voters. One of the men was told to leave.

The voter who called the police said that one of the men told him: "A black man is going to win the election. We're tired of white supremacy."

Observers elsewhere in Pennsylvania complained of "pandemonium" where Republican poll watchers, whose job is to monitor the integrity of the voting, were apparently removed from polling sites in direct violation of a recent state court ruling.

In Virginia both Republicans and Democrats launched lawsuits. John McCain's campaign demanded a 10 day extension to the counting of absentee ballots to ensure all overseas military ballots are counted. A judge rejected Democrat calls for more voting machines to cope with higher turnout in black areas.

In several states, election officials ruled that anyone in line when the polls close would be allowed to vote, causing the counts to drag on for hours.

Democratic voters in Toledo, Ohio, reported receiving automated robocalls designed to keep them at home. The calls warned that voting lines were long and that they could express their preference using their telephone key pad instead.

In Florida, where officials have fought to escape their reputation as an international laughing stock after the Bush-Gore recount debacle eight years ago, there were still problems, with papers rejected by the counting machines when voters failed to fill in details on the reverse of their ballots.

Electoral officials were unable to set up a polling station at a church in Tallahassee, the state capital, because they couldn't wake up the pastor. A sheriff's deputy had to drive up to his house and blast his car siren to wake him up.

There was also evidence of voter fraud. Tampa resident Michael Baccich, 57, was one of several voters who arrived to vote only to be told that he had already cast an absentee ballot.

Voters in Cuyahoga County, Ohio were only given half a ballot paper, causing their votes to be void. New voting machines also went down in Philadelphia, New Jersey and Cleveland, Ohio. In New Hampshire the State Republican Committee went to court complaining that their poll workers were kept away from new voter registration tables, making it impossible for them to check that people were properly registered.

A blast of rain sweeping up the East coast disrupted voting in Virginia and North Carolina, key election bellwethers. In Chesapeake County, Virginia, voters drenched in the squall were asked to dry off first after their optical vote scanner was unable to read damp ballot papers.

Thousands had their wet papers quarantined in separate bins while they dried out before officials scanned them in again.

In Kansas City, Missouri, officials were operating for several hours with the wrong set of registration papers making it difficult to check whether voters had the right to cast their ballots.

Eight years after he left the White House and seven months after she abandoned her own presidential bid, Bill and Hillary Clinton remained at the eye of the storm. Mrs Clinton attracted complaints for conducting an interview within feet of the polling booths, a violation of election law that bans electioneering 100 feet of voter booths.

Extracted from Telegraph

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

From Mongolia to Malaysia a democratic headache

In the name of democracy, it is now possible to burn, to launch sex scandals and to kill people to establish regimes – the like in Iraq and Afghanistan – when the US too want to pursue a maddening concept that seems to be in rejection in many parts of the world.

The charred shells of two Soviet-style buildings rising from the center of this capital stand as a warning of the dangers of mixing vodka with voter frustration. Video’s of intimidation and election fraud in Zimbabwe confirms the bad omens of the democratic system in Africa. From Asia to the Middle East and Africa, democracy is taking a beating.

In Egypt, the democratic system is such that a one man show decides who will be the President of the country. The sole candidate will apparently get 98% of votes in the elections and the results are appreciated by Washington and London, claiming it is a democratic exercise. In Zimbabwe, a solo show by Robert Mugabe – the former rebel fighter turned President – is condemned by the West, calling it a sham elections. Double measure is used in deciding which one of the two solo election processes are democratic.

Now, with an election in dispute, Mongolia's fledgling democracy faces its biggest challenge since its birth in 1990. Did the Mongolian people really need an election to choose their leaders? There was fraud in parliamentary elections, accusations disputed by international election observers. Normally observation teams would claim there were fraudulent practices in elections in some countries but in Mongolia they said no, there were no frauds.

In Kenya, thousands lost their lives last year and the scourge of a bad democratic choice is still haunting the people of Nairobi and its suburbs. Nairobi can be a very beautiful place if elections are not the cause of rioting. It has been a peaceful and fast developing centre in Africa, a capital that was worth its position as a progressive one in a country where autocracy was the rule.

Things have changed in Nairobi after the elections rioting and the country remain divided over the choice of leaders to run the country.

In Malaysia, the democratic process took place in March this year with the ruling coalition the Barisan National (BN) taking a beating, shocking its leaders with the opposition taking 5 states and thinning the BN’s usual 2/3rd majority in Parliament. The impact of this drastic cut in the powers of the government has resulted in a massive public spat between government and opposition leaders. Sex accusations and statutory declarations are flying across the board at warp speed and it appears there will be no end to this in the short term.

In Singapore, the authorities are worried and are working out plans on how to prevent the Internet from influencing the decision of voters. In the last General Elections in 2007, the opposition parties won more than 45% of votes, a feat not always seen in Singapore. If this percentage increases, the opposition may end up with much more seats in Parliament, a situation that the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) does not want to happen.

Lee Kuan Yew recently said that in a very open democratic system, there were the risks that a weak opposition come to power and ruins the advancement achieved by a responsible government. He clearly said that Singapore could not afford an ‘open’ democratic system, urging the current government of Singapore to keep a tab on the media and on the internet for the sake of not ruining the country.

In Bangkok, Thailand the new government is hanging to power on a thread with threats of a coup flying over the airwaves and in the media like never before. There is always a denial either by the powerful military or by the government itself that a coup is in the making. The same situation is now apparent in Turkey where a pro-Islamic regime headed by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is facing disbanding over a constitutional matter. The Turkish democracy is not what we see in Europe or in the US and not even like the one in India or Indonesia. It is a pretty controlled democracy where the army has the right to disband a political party if it feels necessary.

Erdogan’s party is facing disbandment while police arrested at least two influential army generals on suspicion of staging a coup against the ruling government. A court case is the latest faceoff between Islamist- leaning groups and secularists that stretches back to the end of World War II. A defeat for Erdogan, 54, would put Turkey's six- decade-old democracy in uncharted territory by shutting down a party that was re-elected with 47 percent of the vote last year, the largest plurality in more than four decades.

Malaysia is heading for a massive clash between the opposition and the government on major policy issues and on crime and sex charges that have sent the country into shame. Mongolians burnt arts and precious treasures to protest against a ‘democratic’ system. The Zimbabwe people are crushed by Mugabe’s own political agenda – that is fighting against British influence in his country.

Written by Kazi Mahmood

Courtesy : WorldFuturesInfo

US Agents Foil Obama Assassination Plot


Two white supremacist skinheads were arrested in Tennessee over plans to go on a killing spree and eventually shoot Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama, court documents showed on Monday.

Daniel Cowart and Paul Schlesselman were charged in a criminal complaint with making threats against a presidential candidate, illegal possession of a sawed-off shotgun and conspiracy to rob a gun dealer.

The plot did not appear to be very advanced or sophisticated, the court documents showed. "We're unsure of their ability or if they have the wherewithal to carry out any of their threats," said a source close to the investigation.

Obama would be the first black president in U.S. history if he defeats Republican John McCain in the November 4 election. Concerns about Obama's safety led the Secret Service to provide round-the-clock protection from early in his campaign.

The suspects met over the Internet about a month ago, said an affidavit filed by Brian Weaks, a special agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

"The individuals began discussing going on a 'killing spree' that included killing 88 people and beheading 14 African Americans," Weaks said in the affidavit.

The men stole guns from family members and also had a sawed-off shotgun. They planned to target a predominately black school, going state to state while robbing individuals and continuing to kill people, Weaks said in the affidavit.

"They further stated that their final act of violence would be to attempt to kill/assassinate presidential candidate Barack Obama," he said.

The men planned to wear white tuxedos and top hats during the assassination attempt, which would have involved driving as fast as they could toward Obama and shooting him from the windows of the car.

They planned their first house robbery for last Wednesday but ended up leaving without breaking in. Instead they bought ski masks, food and rope to use in their robbery attempts.

Cowart and Schlesselman were arrested later that day in Crockett County in western Tennessee and made initial appearances in federal court in Memphis on Monday.

They remain in custody and are scheduled to return to court on Thursday for a detention hearing, the Memphis Commercial Appeal newspaper reported on its website.

They wrote racially motivated words and symbols on the exterior of Cowart's vehicle, including a swastika and the numbers "14" and "88" on the hood of the car.

ATF special agent in charge James Cavanaugh said "H" is the eighth letter of the alphabet and 88 stood for "Heil Hitler."

"The U.S. Secret Service takes all threats against presidential candidates seriously and is actively investigating the allegations," said Richard Harlow, special agent in charge of the Secret Service-Memphis Field Office. "The Secret Service does not comment on this type of investigation."

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Mass rally for peace in Mindanao

COTABATO CITY – The Bangsamoro people once again come together to press one call – respect Bangsamoro people’s right to self-determination towards just and lasting peace in Mindanao, in a one-day Mindanao-wide mass rally spearheaded by Mindanao Alliance for Peace (MAP) here today. It rallied no less than 300,000 people accross Mindanao in a show of force and unity. . . . more

Friday, June 27, 2008

Brazen imperialism in the Middle East

Sat, 14 Jun 2008

The following is Press TV's exclusive full-length interview with American linguist, philosopher, political activist, author and MIT professor Avram Noam Chomsky:

Press TV: How do you characterize this so-called security treaty between Washington and Baghdad?

Chomsky: The security arrangement was in fact declared last November. There was a declaration from the White House, presumably a Bush-Maliki declaration, but had nothing to do with the Congress or Parliament or any other official institution. It called for an indefinite long-term US military presence in Iraq and that could include the huge air bases that are now being built around Iraq. The US is building what's called an embassy but it's unlike any embassy in the world. Its essentially a city inside a city. These are all declared intentions to retain a permanent dominant presence in Iraq.

The declaration also, a little to my surprise, had a rather brazen statement about exploiting the resources of Iraq. It said that the economy of Iraq, which means its oil resources, must be open to foreign investment, privileging American investors. That's pretty brazen. Now that's brazen imperialism saying we invaded you so that we can control your country; and so that our corporations can have privileged access to your resources.

It was not at all clear that any Iraqi was ever going to accept this and in the steps that had followed as there was an attempt to sort of formulate it, more precisely, there have been predictably increasing objections.

Different formulations and so on but without going through the details leading to prime minister al-Maliki's recent comment that you quoted.

Press TV: Do you think Nouri al-Maliki will eventually succumb? I mean previous occupants of that position, well, they have come and gone. Haven't they?

Chomsky: I mean look the country is under military occupation. It is not a free country, so there is a limit on how much any individual can do when your country is under military occupation.

The Wall Street Journal, which is not exactly a radical newspaper, states that the Maliki government survives only on the basis of US arms. That's an exaggeration but not an inconceivable perception, so he might not survive if he doesn't accept it.

Press TV: Professor Chomsky, of course, one country that is being blamed by Washington is Iran and what's on a lot of minds in the Middle East is this drumbeat of war as it were. Do you think the United States wants military action and will there be military action against Iran? And how do you characterize the IAEA's nuclear negotiation process?

Chomsky: It is interesting, the way everything is blamed on Iran. And that's a rather striking reflection of how deep-seated the imperial mentality is in the West, so for example when Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is asked by the press: is there a solution to the problem in Iraq, and she says yes a simple solution - foreign forces should be withdrawn and foreign arms should be withdrawn, referring of course to Iran -, people don't laugh and collapse in ridicule.

I mean, of course, there are foreign forces and foreign arms in Iraq, but not Iranian. They are American, but those are not considered foreign forces.

In the Western conception, US and, indeed, much of the West, if our forces are anywhere, they are indigenous. They are not foreign because fundamentally there is a tacit assumption that we own the world, so our forces are not foreign - they are indigenous.

We talk about Iranian interference: it's like talking about Allied interference in Nazi occupied Vichy France; it doesn't make any sense, but the mentality accepts it.

Now as far as the IAEA is concerned, the United States handed over to the international agency a collection of documents recently and the agency says they have not received adequate explanation about them from Iran. OK that's where things now stand.

I have my own opinion about what ought to be done and, in fact, it happens to be the same as the opinion of the overwhelming majority of Americans and also the overwhelming majority of Iranians, according to the polls in the two countries, namely that the right solution to this problem is to declare a nuclear weapons free zone in the entire region which would include Iran, Israel and American forces deployed there and so on. About three quarter of Americans are in favor of that, and I think that's the right idea!

Press TV: Professor Chomsky, that's obviously not going to happen...

Chomsky: Who says? It won't happen on the assumption that the United States is a completely undemocratic country in which public opinion can't influence policy. I don't think that's a necessary assumption.

Press TV: We're hearing things from Israel. There were remarks about some 'Iran Command' being set up. Of course, we had Seymour Hersh in the United States saying that there was going to be an attack on Iran, obviously...

Chomsky: So will it happen you mean. Nobody knows whether it will happen. I mean it's conceivable. I mean the whole world is aghast at the possibility. One leading British military historian, Corelli Barnett, said it'll mean world war III. It will have very serious consequences, undoubtedly, not to speak of what would happen to Iran, but it's conceivable that they would be willing to take a kind of a wild gamble and just see what happens.

Remember that everything the Bush administration has done, almost without exception, has turned into a catastrophe for the interest that they represent. And it's possible that they might decide to go out in some blaze of glory just to see what happens. Hit the system with a sledgehammer and see what happens. I frankly doubt it. I think that as far as anyone can tell, the US military is opposed and US intelligence seems to be opposed and surely the world is opposed. On whether they will accept those pressures or not, you can't really tell. People like Dick Cheney are unpredictable.

Press TV: Professor Chomsky, if people in your own country are opposed to the Iraq war, Afghanistan seems to be a sort of good war. There was recently a donors' conference in Paris. How do you see the situation in Afghanistan moving on with more money from multinational companies, more so-called donors and yet the security situation seems to be deteriorating.

Chomsky: Well this is a long topic, and I think we ought to talk about it another time, but, very briefly, what matters in this case is the opinion of Afghans. And though we don't have very good evidence about that, we have some. So, for example, this is a recent study, a very interesting study, a Canadian study of Taliban fighters... You know, it seems what they want is to get foreign forces out of the country in which case they can accommodate to the rest.

The general opinion in Afghanistan seems to be somewhat similar. They want accommodation with the Taliban not war and the majority think it's possible. If foreign involvement was reconstruction, that would be accepted undoubtedly, and it should be in my opinion not aid but reparations.

Russia, the United States, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia have torn this country to shreds and they owe reparations for what happened, and then maybe the people can accommodate among themselves. That's what diplomacy ought to be pushing for.

Courtesy Press tv RZS/AA/HGH

Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Media, Harakah and KDN

On 24 June 08 Bernama reported that For the first time in Parliament's history, reporters were barred from the Parliament lobby Tuesday. To counter the move, members of the media showed their solidarity by boycotting all press conferences held at Parliament, include those by the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister. The media personnel took such a bold step to express their unhappiness at the "unfriendly ruling" by Parliament's management.

After failing to get a satisfactory explanation from the Speaker (Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia) , the Parliament’s management committee and the minister responsible for giving the instruction, Datuk Nazri Aziz during the lunch break. The BN-BCC acted to remove the barriers place to bar the media personnel. This resulted in Datuk Nazri calling them “kids and gangsters”. Not happy with the incident, the BN-BCC will discuss on Monday, what action is to taken against Datuk Nazri, which to them is “very unbecoming”. was quick to make this comments : Having muzzled their own supporters, BN is now trying to prevent the Press from being present in Parliament to hear debates and meet MPs. Why BN should bother doing this is a mystery. Already the press is being directed by a "Supremo" on what to report and how to report it.

Maybe it is because among the pressmen there were bloggers. The Supremo is still unable to direct the bloggers on what they should say and how they should say it.

Read the comments from TG Dato’ Nik Aziz , Harakah was denied to the public and reduced their production to once every two weeks after 1999 UMNO poor election showing. Wasn’t it our very Tun Dr Mahathir who was the “Supremo” Not only Harakah even Cresent International was also banned in Malaysia, Crescent International was an equivalent of or Counterpunch or Information Clearing House for the Muslims. Ever wonder who started this Culture in UMNO?

To prove the gravity of lack of freedom of expression under the former prime minster, the acronym for UMNO baru was said to be Under Mahathir No Opposition. This interpretation was given to UMNO baru by UMNO members themselves. Today Tun Dr Mahathir is no longer in UMNO, he had resigned as a member of UMNO, so the UMNO members gave him another intepretation of an acronym MAHATHIR - which means Must Always Hentam Abdullah Till He Is Removed.

On 24 June 2008 it was reported that Dato’ Kamarudin Jaafar had written a letter of thanks to the Home Minister Dato' Seri Syed Hamid Albar for approving or issuing KDN to Harakah allowing it to be published 2 times a week (8 times a month). It was stated whether the circulation will be limted to members of PAS or Harakah will be allowed to be sold to the public. TG Dato’ Nik Aziz voiced out that it is high time for Harakah to be allowed to be published daily. From TG Dato’ Nik Aziz comments it appears that the KDN allows Harakah to be circulated to the public.

Constitutionalism - The Malaysian Recent Experience.

Assertive monarchy - In search of its constitutional basis

The perception among the public now is that the rulers, in the aftermath of the 12th General Elections, have begun assuming an active role.
Harakah spoke to Professor Dr Abdul Aziz Bari, a constitutional law expert at the International Islamic University Malaysia.

It seems that Harakah is trying to clarify .....
"these includes the formation of the state governments, dissolution of Parliament, declaration of emergency and even the dismissal of government."

the ruler's recent acts :

"It appears to me that those who are not happy with the rulers' activism overlook the government's sway over so many things. This is indeed very much the antithesis of constitutionalism and limited government both of which are inherent in the constitution."

the scenario :

"We have to bear in mind that the three parties did not go to the polls as one unit like the Barisan Nasional and this has, I think, made the matter rather messy and complicated. But the palace has helped to stabilize the situation and I think we must give them the credit."

"Previously the rulers took the clue from the Umno leadership at the centre but the post-election scenario this time around was different. Unlike before, Umno was not able to control its own assemblymen."

what the Raja of Perlis did :

"the Raja of Perlis went and ascertained the person who had got the most support in the House himself"

what the Sultan of Trengganu did :

"Terengganu was more than just the exercise of power of appointment. I think the palace actually resorted to the notion of reserve power in order to avoid the state from being put under someone whose image was autocratic and unclean."

do not fear Palace intervention :

"To my mind the fear was rather misplaced for it failed to take into account the guardianship role of the monarchy; something that allows the institution to assume a kind of reserve power in order to save the constitution."

a caution in declaring emergency :

"Given the extreme and devastating impact of an emergency on the constitutional provisions, he (the Monarch) has a very important role to make sure that the government does not abuse the provision to protect its interests."

a reminder

" . . . we have not seen any glaring abuse of powers by them, at least in comparison with the successive governments since independence. And perhaps one needs to see the excesses of some of the rulers as a reaction to the elected politicians who, instead of ruling the country democratically, have become another bunch of autocratic politicians manipulating the system for their own vested interests."

the caveat "if"

"If the system works there is no need to depend on the monarchy but if there is a breakdown or that the system is prevented from functioning then there is a good case for the intervention on the part of the monarchy. Indeed this is an obligation; namely the duty to protect the constitution and its ideals from being subverted and undermined. We've got to remember that it is the duty of everyone vested with public powers to do the same but when these people fail to do that then it is incumbent on the monarchy to come forward. I believe this is wide enough to justify extreme measures so long as it is done with a view to protect and uphold the constitution." . . . to be in context, read the interview.

Monday, June 23, 2008

The secret success lies in politics.

Power v poverty

Privatisation, free trade and market forces . . . the rich world insists poor states play by our rules. But they don't work. Time to let countries determine their own destinies?

The fight against poverty, inequality and environmental collapse will define the 21st century, as the fight against slavery or for universal suffrage defined earlier eras. It is hard to imagine a more worthwhile cause. . . more

Sunday, June 15, 2008

US Chief of Air Force changes hands

At the end of April 2008 recently General David Petraeus replaced Admiral William Fox to oversee military operations in the Middle East.

The two top US Air Force Men

Early this month June 2008 US Defense Secretary, Robert Gates relieved air force secretary Michael Wynne and air force chief of staff General T. Michael Moseley of their duties after a probe revealed mismanagement in the US nuclear arsenal.

Mr Gates had accepted the two men's resignations and said then, that he would announce their replacements at a later time.

Mr Gates cited two embarrassing incidents. In the first, electrical fuses for ballistic missiles were mistakenly sent to Taiwan in 2006 in place of helicopter batteries. The fuses, designed for the nose cone of a nuclear missile, were sent from a US airbase in Wyoming.

The other embarrassing incident, Mr Gates added, was a flight across the US by a B-52 bomber mistakenly armed with six nuclear-tipped cruise missiles, without anyone realising the weapons were on board.

The New US Air Force Chief.

Gen. Norton Schwartz, a Jewish freighter pilot has been chosen by US defense secretary Robert Gates as the new Air Force chief of staff.

If confirmed by the US Senate, Schwartz would be the first Air Force chief of staff not to have served as a fighter or bomber pilot, an Air Force spokeswoman said Monday

US Sec of Defense Robert Gates

Robert Gates also lashed out "I have noticed that none of the services easily accept honest criticism from outside their branch, or scrutiny that exposes institutional shortcomings. This is something that must change across the military,"

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Who pays the price of speculators' greed?

While the world faces one of its worst crisis and millions of people are struggling with starvation and death, analysts point finger at several factors.

Soaring oil prices, high consumption of food products in developing countries including India and China, and unprecedented drought in Australia, one of the major producers of wheat and rice are among factors analysts blame for the hike in food prices.

Although such factors have contributed to the current situation they cannot explain why food prices have been skyrocketing in the past six months.

"We have enough food on this planet today to feed everyone," says the head of the UN Environment Program, Achim Steiner, but "the way that markets and supplies are currently being influenced by perceptions of future markets is distorting access to that food."

"Real people and real lives are being affected by a dimension that is essentially speculative," says Steiner.

According to the UN official millions "have found themselves unable to pay for food" as food prices began to go through the roof since the beginning of 2008.

Now, millions of people across the world are struggling with what Josette Sheeran of the World Food Program (WFP) describes as "a silent tsunami".

Although the issue of food crisis has recently been grabbing headlines, public media have barely scratched the surface of the catastrophic situation. The reason is obvious: in a capitalistic dog-eat-dog world the exchange market must be considered as a source of prosperity and no one should be allowed to cast doubt on its sacredness.

In his article, The trading frenzy that sent prices soaring published by the Newstatesman, Iain Macwhirter, writes: "The reason for food 'shortages' is speculation in commodity futures following the collapse of the financial derivatives markets. Desperate for quick returns, dealers are taking trillions of dollars out of equities and mortgage bonds and ploughing them into food and raw materials. It's called the 'commodities super-cycle' on Wall Street, and it is likely to cause starvation on an epic scale."

The reality is that hedge funds and speculators have found future food contracts a lucrative field of activity which can be considered as a license to print money.

The injection of these large sums of money into the marked has created artificial demands which have sent food prices soaring; however, this lucrative trade has so far claimed 100 million lives and left many others struggling with poverty and hunger.

The price of wheat is estimated to be increased by 73 percent by the end of 2008. The situation for other food items is not better: the price of soybeans is expected to rise by 54 percent and that of soybeans oil by 49 percent.

Deutsche Bank estimates that the prices of corn, one of the main food sources, would double over a short period of time.

"Just like the boom in house prices, commodity price inflation feeds on itself. The more prices rise, and big profits are made, the more others invest, hoping for big returns. Look at the financial websites: everyone and their mother is piling into commodities. It is the great bull market of the Nineties. The trouble is that if you are one of the 2.8 billion people, almost half the world's population, who live on less than $2 a day, you may pay for these profits with your life.

This speculation doesn't happen on its own, however. Commodities such as gold and oil are favourite "hedges" against falling currencies. But this time all manner of other commodities, such as wheat and rice, have been swept along in the inflationary slipstream," Macwhirter adds.

The issue of future contracts and speculations is not the only contributing factor in the current global crisis; the industrialized world's US-led drive to use food products for developing bio fuels has fanned the flames of famine and hunger across the world.

The developed nations justify their move which UN officials described as "a crime against humanity" by the notion that such fuel resources would cut their dependency on fossil fuels whose resources are mainly located in other parts of the world. The US grants heavy subsidies ($11-12billion) for the production of ethanol corn every year.

At the beginning of a recent FAO summit in Rome, Jacques Diouf, the head the UN organization lashed out at the US over the issue: "Nobody understands [why] $11-12 billion of subsidies in 2006 and protective tariff policies [should be used to] divert 100 million tons of cereals from human consumption, mostly to satisfy a thirst for fuel for vehicles."

As Indian Finance Minister P. Chidambaram says converting food products to bio fuel is "the most foolish thing" that humanity can do and should be condemned, yet Washington encourages farmers to follow this unwise practice, isn't it surprising?

The painful fact is that we have enough food to feed the world but many people, mainly innocent children, have to die to satisfy "the deadly greed" of speculators and certain politicians.

Courtesy Press TV : Fri, 13 Jun 2008 18:32:08

Monday, June 9, 2008

Tweedle McCain Tweedle Obama

At the AIPAC conference Barack Obama shows that on foreign policy he has moved closer to McCain and Bush.

Iraqi MPs against US bases

Leaked document says US plans for permanent bases in Iraq being discussed with Iraqi government.

What's Keeping Saniora from Announcing New Cabinet?

07/06/2008 Mora than 15 days have passed since the Doha Accord that put an end to the political crisis in Lebanon was signed. A new President has been elected and the opposition sit-in in down-town Beirut has been removed, however the new government with a guaranteeing one-third of ministers from the opposition (as stipulated in the agreement) has not been formed yet.

The Doha agreement ended a three-year epoch of power monopoly and decision appropriation by the ruling bloc against the Lebanese people.

What is keeping this new government from seeing light?
It's the ruling bloc itself, but how?

The new government should comprise 30 ministers. According to the political distribution, the loyalty bloc takes 16 seats, the opposition takes 11 and the President takes 3 ministers.
In terms of confessions, the government should be made up of 6 Maronite, 6 Sunni, 6 Shiite, 4 Orthodox, 3 Druze, 3 Catholic and 2 Armenian Ministers. Such distribution has put the loyalty bloc in front of a big problem on the Christian and Sunni levels.

The problem gets more complex on the Christian level, particularly the Maronite level. Of the 6 Maronite seats in the Cabinet, the President wants a minister and the Lebanese National Opposition – Namely MP General Michel Aoun's Free Patriotic Movement – wants 2 seats leaving the loyalty bloc with three Maronite seats.

The problem begins here.

Prime Minister designate Fouad Saniora wants a seat reserved for his finance minister Jihad Az'our, the Phalanges Party (of former President Amine Gemayel) is demanding 2 seats and the Lebanese Forces (of Samir Geagea) is demanding three seats. Moreover, the Qornet Shehwan teams is also demanding a seat in the new Cabinet. Of course, there remains the representation dilemma of Social Affairs Minister in the caretaker government Nayla Moawwad and MP Butros Harb.

For Sunnis, there are 6 seats and there are Saniora, the Tripoli Bloc (headed by MP Mohammed Safadi who has become a burden on the loyalty bloc) and there is Tripoli MP Misbah Ahdab who wants a seat in the new Cabinet. This explains why Ahdab has been assailing Safadi.

There are similar complexities for the Orthodox and Catholic seats.
This has prompted the loyalty bloc to seek to take whatever it can from the opposition's share in the government. Saniora suggested giving them 8 portfolios and 3 ministers of states, however a source in the opposition said that Saniora's proposal was odd. "Suppose that we distributed the seat equally between Hezbollah, Amal and the Free Patriotic Movement, Shiites would have four portfolios in a government of 30 ministers, whereas Shiites had five portfolios in a government of 24 ministers, so how can this be?" the source wondered.
He also noted that the loyalty bloc still insists on considering some portfolios as its exclusive right. "The ministry of finance that MP Aoun is demanding is a red line and the communications ministry that Hezbollah is demanding is also a red line," the source said.

The government should have been announced before the arrival of French President Nicholas Sarkozy to Beirut, however the loyalty block has so far failed to resolve its differences over representation in the new Cabinet.

courtesy : almanar

Mohamad Shmaysani

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Zimbabwe: Sharp crackdown on political opponents

4 June 2008

Amnesty International today condemned the detention of Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai, saying that his detention was part of a sudden, sharp and dangerous crackdown on political opposition in the run-up to the elections.

“Morgan Tsvangirai should be released immediately – or charged with a recognizable criminal offense,” said Amnesty International.

MDC Leader Morgan Tsvangirai, Mugabe Oppositon

According to reports, Morgan Tsvangirai was arrested at a roadblock north of Bulawayo and is being held at a police charge office in Lupane. It is not clear what the charges are against him.

In March 2007, Tsvangirai, along with other MDC and other civil society activists, was severely beaten while in police custody and had to be hospitalised.

His arrest comes the day after the publication by Amnesty International of a damning report highlighting the extensive human rights violations that have taken place since parliamentary and presidential elections were held in March 2008. These include unlawful killings, torture and other ill-treatment, beatings, and the harassment and intimidation of mainly MDC supporters and human rights defenders in Zimbabwe.

The organization revealed that a witness to the abduction of an MDC senatorial candidate Shepherd Jani by suspected Central Intelligence Organization (CIO) agents has gone into hiding after he and his family received threatening phone calls from men believed to be state agents, who told him to hand himself in at Harare Central Police station. Amnesty International says his life is at risk and his family has also been threatened.

Kumbirai Masimo witnessed the abduction on 21 May of Shepherd Jani, senatorial candidate for Murewa North. Jani was abducted by suspected CIO operatives and his body was found days later.

“The government of Zimbabwe must ensure the safety and security of Morgan Tsvangirai, Kurmirai Masimo and all others at risk during this dangerous crackdown on those deemed to be a political threat to the ruling government,” said Amnesty International.

Mugabe rejects UN request to send special envoy.

The organization said that the bulk of the human rights violations are being perpetrated by supporters of the Zimbabwe African National Union - Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) party and members of the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association (ZNLWA) -- generally known as “war veterans”.

State security organisations, in particular the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) have been unwilling to act against these perpetrators – allowing them to kill, torture, assault and burn homes and businesses of suspected MDC supporters with impunity. In fact, in some cases authorities have instigated or even directed attacks by these groups.

The Zimbabwean government is also severely tightening restrictions on international aid agencies operating in Zimbabwe.

“By introducing restrictions against aid workers in Zimbabwe, including CARE International, which was recently forced to suspend all of its field operations in Zimbabwe, the Zimbabwean government is attempting to hide the worst of the state-sponsored violence from the eyes of the world,” said Amnesty International.

Millions of people in Zimbabwe will be affected by the aid restrictions, which are likely to worsen significantly Zimbabwe’s food security problems.

To see a copy of the report Zimbabwe: A trail of violence after the ballot, please click here.

Courtesy Amnesty International

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