Daily Archives: December 20, 2007

Uzbekistan’s silenced society

Uzbek President Islam Karimov signed a bill with Vladimir Putin on Dec 12, 2006 restoring the Uzbekistan’s membership in a security alliance of former Soviet republics


BBC News | Dec 19, 2007

By Natalia Antelava

Surfing the net in Uzbekistan is a frustrating experience, at least for those who are trying to check the news.

Most of the independent and pro-opposition websites are blocked, as are the BBC and Radio Liberty.

In hundreds of internet cafes across the country, the government is keeping a close eye on the behaviour of internet users.

“If you want to copy a file in an internet cafe to your USB stick, you have to ask the manager, who first checks the content and only then copies your file,” explained an Uzbek journalist who asked not to be identified.

“Even if you use a search engine and type in Uzbekistan or Islam Karimov, all articles that may have negative comments are blocked – even blogs are inaccessible,” she said.

‘Pure propoganda’

The state television and newspaper carry the news that the government wants people to hear.

Every news bulletin is full of praise for President Islam Karimov, for the economic achievements of his government and for the prosperous future that he is building for Uzbekistan.

“We are living a fat lie,” said a resident of the capital, Tashkent, who asked to be called Rushana.

“Most people just don’t watch the news, because we know that it’s pure propaganda and has nothing to do with reality”

Uzbekistan, like its neighbours, has never been overly friendly to journalists, and the government has always done its best to control the flow of information.

Independent reporters have always complained of government harassment, restrictions and inability to get information.

“But at least there were independent reporters in Uzbekistan, at least we were managing to get the story out,” says one of the few journalists who still works in Uzbekistan.

“Then there was Andijan.”

For journalists and for Uzbekistan, he says, things went from bad to worse when government tanks rolled into the main square of the eastern city of Andijan on 14 May 2005 to disperse a peaceful anti-government protest.

Thousands of people, including women and children, ran as troops chased them down the streets, shooting at demonstrators.

The UN said it was a massacre and as many as 1,000 could have been killed.

But President Karimov said the demonstration was an attempt at an Islamic uprising.

He refused to allow an independent inquiry, jailed thousands of people connected to the events and, overnight, turned his back on the West.

Very successfully and very quickly, President Karimov created an information vacuum inside Uzbekistan, and prevented the protest from spreading.

Clampdown on dissent

But after the events, a Kyrgyz city of Osh that sits right on the border with Uzbekistan became a hole in the Uzbek state propaganda balloon.

Osh, and the area around it, is home to thousands of ethnic Uzbeks. Compared with its big neighbour, Kyrgyzstan enjoys a relative degree of freedom of expression.


The murder of Alisher Saipov has been blamed on Uzbek agents

It was in Osh that ethnic Uzbek journalist Alisher Saipov began publishing Siyosat, or Politics – the first opposition Uzbek language printed newspaper.

On its pages he wrote about torture in Uzbek prisons, about the total clampdown on dissent and the economic collapse of what was once Central Asia’s richest nation.

The paper was smuggled by merchants and traders into Uzbekistan, where it was becoming increasingly popular ahead of December’s presidential election.

“Alisher managed to reach out to those who have no alternative sources of information – who have no internet, no radio,” said Daniil Kislov, editor of the ferghana.ru news website.

“The newspaper was distributed in Andijan and in the villages around, and very quickly the government understood that this was much more dangerous than any internet site or any international broadcaster.

“His newspaper carried a virus of a revolution, and it posed a serious threat to the information vacuum that the government had created,” Mr Kislov said.

On 24 October at 7pm, as Alisher left his office in Osh, an unidentified gunmen fired two bullets into the back of his head.

Kyrgyz police are still looking for the perpetrators, but according to Paul Quinn Judge, Central Asia director of the International Crisis Group, the murder sent a pretty clear signal.

“You don’t criticise the president, you don’t criticise his constitutional decisions, and you certainly don’t vote against him,” said Mr Judge.

“Alisher’s murder reinforced that message in a very brutal way, but I suspect very strongly the message of Alisher’s murder goes to the overseas opposition rather than the internal Uzbek opposition.”

Daniil Kislov said: “It was an execution. A cold-blooded execution designed to tell all of us to shut up.”

But one Uzbek journalist says that Alisher’s murder has had just the opposite effect on her.

“I will work in Uzbekistan despite everything. I hope others too take it as a lesson, I hope it becomes a step to freedom, a step in our struggle for such freedom that Alisher was struggling for,” she said.

But with President Karimov’s clampdown on dissent spilling beyond Uzbekistan’s borders, it is becoming increasingly difficult, and increasingly dangerous for people to find courage to speak out.

. . .

Related

In a very cordial meeting between friends, Karimov discusses “democracy” with Rumsfeld, Rice and Powell in Uzbekistan May 20, 2005

UN Honors Racist Dictator Who Boils People Alive With “Cultural Diversity” Award

Mother of ‘boiled’ man jailed

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Congress OKs Va Tech-inspired gun bill

 

Firearms owner John Markell holds a Glock 9 mm pistol in Roanoke, Va., in this April file photo. The gun is similar to one sold to Seung-Hui Cho, the Virginia Tech shooter. Congress on Wednesday passed a long-stalled bill inspired by the Virginia Tech shootings that would more easily flag prospective gun buyers who have documented mental health problems.

Associated Press | Dec 20, 2007

By LAURIE KELLMAN

WASHINGTON – Congress on Wednesday passed a long-stalled bill inspired by the Virginia Tech shootings that would more easily flag prospective gun buyers who have documented mental health problems. The measure also would help states with the cost.

Passage by voice votes in the House and Senate came after months of negotiations between Senate Democrats and the lone Republican, Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, who had objected and delayed passage.

It was not immediately clear whether President Bush intended to sign, veto or ignore the bill. If Congress does not technically go out of session, as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has threatened, the bill would become law if Bush does not act within 10 days.

“This bill will make America safer without affecting the rights of a single law-abiding citizen,” said the Senate’s chief sponsor, New York Democrat Chuck Schumer.

One of the House’s chief sponsors, Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, spoke in the full House about her husband, who was killed by a gunman on the Long Island Railroad in New York. “To me, this is the best Christmas present I could ever receive,” said McCarthy, D-N.Y.

Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., added that the bill will speed up background checks and reinforce the rights of law abiding gun owners.

Propelling the bill were the Virginia Tech shootings on April 16 and rare agreement between political foes, the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence and the National Rifle Association.

But other interest groups said that in forging compromise with the gun lobby, the bill’s authors unintentionally imposed an unnecessary burden on government agencies by freeing up thousands of people to buy guns.

“Rather than focusing on improving the current laws prohibiting people with certain mental health disabilities from buying guns, the bill is now nothing more than a gun lobby wish list,” said Kristen Rand, legislative director of the Violence Policy Center. “It will waste millions of taxpayer dollars restoring the gun privileges of persons previously determined to present a danger to themselves or others.”

The measure would clarify what mental health records should be reported to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, which help gun dealers determine whether to sell a firearm to a prospective buyer, and give states financial incentives for compliance. The attorney general could penalize states if they fail to meet compliance targets.

Despite the combined superpowers of bill’s supporters, Coburn held it up for months because he worried that millions of dollars in new spending would not be paid for by cuts in other programs.

His chief concern, he said, was that it did not pay for successful appeals by veterans or other people who say they are wrongly barred from buying a gun.

Just before midnight Tuesday, Coburn and the Democratic supporters of the bill struck a deal: The government would pay for the cost of appeals by gun owners and prospective buyers who argue successfully in court that they were wrongly deemed unqualified for mental health reasons.

The compromise would require that incorrect records — such as expunged mental health rulings that once disqualified a prospective gun buyer but no longer do — be removed from system within 30 days.

The original bill would require any agency, such as the Veterans Administration or the Defense Department, to notify a person flagged as mentally ill and disqualified from buying or possessing a gun. The new version now also would require the notification when someone has been cleared of that restriction.

The bill would authorize up to $250 million a year over five years for the states and as much as $125 million a year over the same period for state courts to help defray the cost of enacting the policy.

Propelling the long-sought legislation were the April 16 killings at Virginia Tech. Student Seung-Hui Cho killed 32 students and himself using two guns he had bought despite his documented history of mental illness.

Cho had been ruled a danger to himself during a court commitment hearing in 2005. He had been ordered to have outpatient mental health treatment and should have been barred from buying the two guns he used. But Virginia never forwarded the information to the national background check system.

Campaign of mass-deception exposed over NAU-NAFTA Superhighway agenda

NDP Premier Gary Doer [Left] and NDP leader Jack Layton [Right] are demonstrating themselves to be politically invasive “fifth column” collaborators of a U.S. military expansionist agenda into Canada.

The Canadian | Dec 19, 2007

NAU-NAFTA Superhighway agenda: Manitoba Premier Gary Doer exposes NDP leader Jack Layton’s campaign of mass-deception

by Bill Lavigne

The federal NDP advertises on its website that it is against the Security and Prosperity Partnership North American Union (SPP-NAU) agenda. However, it appears that the NDP merely advertises such opposition to placate and deceive its activist supporters, while Mr. Layton and his political party elite colleagues substantively capitulate.

Indeed, in spite of the alleged opposition of the NDP to the SPP-NAU agenda, Manitoba’s NDP Premier Gary Doer, in his government’s Throne Speech 20 November 2007, endorsed the so-called “Mid Continental Corridor” North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) Superhighway.

While Mr. Harper professes to stand for “integrity in government”, the Stephen Harper government has officially denied the existence of any such “NAFTA Superhighway” project, in the face of ample proof that it does exist.

Rest assured, Mr. Doer as an NDP Premier, within the constitutional modus operandi of the NDP, would not have provided that SPP-related endorsement, without having consultation and agreement with Jack Layton, his federal party leader. That type of high level “executive-political” non-consultation is not how the NDP works.

Victor Fletcher, the editor of Toronto Street News, regales us with a story about NDP leader Jack Layton: “I met Jack Layton two Saturdays ago and asked him why the NDP was supporting the NAFTA highway in the NDP Manitoba Throne Speech. He said “Manitoba needs the Churchill jobs.” I agreed but further asked: “Why then, do they have to issue Mexican drivers licenses for fall of 2008?” He then RAN AWAY!”

“He took off with his aide and never answered after taking a copy of Toronto Street News which a headline I pointed to saying: “Harper’s Police State Union With Bush Moving Fast! Manitoba Throne Speech Announces U.S. Union!”

This is not the action of someone who is substantively against the SPP-NAU agenda. Mr. Layton as a “Quisling”-like collaborator, along with Mr. Dion and the Bloc Quebecois leader have indeed turned Opposition Party politics in Canada into facile political theatre aimed at deceiving Canadians.

The Norwegian Prime Minister Vidkun Quisling co-operated with Adolf Hitler to deliver that country to the Nazis; and these Canadians are similarly cooperating to deliver Canada to Neo-Nazi military expansionist interests. Indeed, both former German Fuhrer Adolf Hitler, and the U.S. Bush administration embrace disturbingly similar pre-emptive military strike foreign policy and national security legitimated doctrines.

The NDP grassroots in particular, are being lulled into a stupor that ‘Jack’ is out fighting against the SPP, while his operatives like Gary Doer betray the apparent true allegiances of NDP political party elites.


The NAU-NAFTA Superhighway is an apparent scheme designed to faciliate the bringing into Manitoba (and other parts of Canada) exploited Mexican slave labour; and bringing out of Canadian resources.

Victor Fletcher also states: “Jack Layton is an old customer of mine from the late 1970’s when he ran for municipal politics and I ran a union typesetting company designing election literature and arranging union printing for customers.” Therefore, Mr. Fletcher provides his comments as someone who has been very supportive of Mr. Layton and the NDP.

Mr. Fletcher as elaborates that: “I was a supporter of his [Mr. Layton] over the years and he did help us with the Toronto Street News sold by the homeless. So I have known Jack for many years and he was the only politician who ever wrote a book about the homeless situation.”

“I was deeply saddened when he confirmed the NDP government of Doer and their Throne Speech also confirmed the NAFTA highway was coming from Mexico to deliver exploited Mexican labour to Canada as well as Chinese goods.”

Indeed, the so-called NAFTA Superhighway, is an agenda of Big Business interests, that have sought to use the secretive arrangement of the SPP-NAU created by elites, to import slave labour from Mexico and goods created from the slave labour of Communist China.

In the view of Big Business NAFTA Superhighway backers, why should corporations move to Mexico and build new factories to employ cheap Mexican labour, when you can bring cheap Mexican labour into the U.S. and Canada through a NAFTA Superhighway corridor? Imagine cheap Mexican and other exploited labour being brought to work in existing manufacturing plants into Canadian cities like Winnipeg, Vancouver, Hamilton, and Toronto, where these Mexicans (and other exploited labour) would be paid the same wage as if they were still in Mexico, Communist China, India or a “Third World” country.

An integral part of the NAU agenda is to replace existing Canadian and U.S. immigration law, with edicts that have been secretly created by Big Business interests, and that can move cheap labour, like livestock, around North America, along a elite constructed Continental Highway and Inland Port System.

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Drivers who use sat-navs, MP3 players or mobile phones face prison sentences

 

Police now check mobile phone records after road collisions to see if the driver was making a call

Telegraph | Dec 20, 2007

By David Millward, Transport Editor and Christopher Hope

Motorists caught using a hand-held mobile phone while driving could be jailed for two years under tough new guidelines issued today by prosecutors.

Drivers who adjust sat-navs, tinker with MP3 music players such as iPods or send text messages at the wheel could also face prison sentences.

Prosecutions will be brought if by using the equipment a motorist is judged to have posed a danger to other drivers, such as causing another car to swerve.

Using a hand-held mobile while driving was outlawed in 2003, but it is estimated that half a million motorists flout the ban each day.

Existing guidelines restricted prosecutors to pursuing only a charge of careless driving, for which the maximum fine is £5,000 along with up to nine points on a motorist’s licence.

But under the new rules, drivers could be charged with dangerous driving, which carries a maximum sentence of two years in jail.

It is believed that by increasing the penalties, drivers will start to take the law seriously.

“This sends a clear message to motorists: don’t mix driving and communicating, just as you would not drink and drive,” said Rob Gifford, of the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety.

“This is long overdue. At last the law has caught up with the reality of the road, with too many people using their phone while driving.”

But Paul Biggs, a spokesman for the Association of British Drivers, said: “This does seem over the top. I would never condone using a hand-held mobile and would never do it myself. But existing laws cover it and there are plenty of other things which are distracting.”

The new guidelines mean prosecutors will be able to go for a dangerous driving charge, which carries the punishment of an unlimited fine as well as a two-year jail term.

In addition, drivers who kill while using mobile phones could be charged with causing death by dangerous driving, which carries a 14-year jail term. In extreme cases they could be charged with manslaughter for which a life term can be imposed.

A new offence of causing death by careless driving is to be created under the Road Safety Act, due to come into force early next year.

The new guidelines follow a consultation by the Crown Prosecution Service on the policy it should adopt on dealing with cases of “bad driving” brought before the courts.

Using a hand-held mobile was made illegal in 2003, when the penalty was limited to a £30 fine, but it acted as little deterrent and the latest figures show that in 2005 129,700 motorists still flouted the ban.

In February the law was toughened, with drivers facing a £60 fine and three points on their licence.

Drivers were also warned that similar penalties could be imposed for using a hands-free device if they were judged not to be in control of their car.

Police now check mobile phone records after accidents to see if the driver was making a call at the time.

Research by TRL, formerly the Government’s Transport Research Laboratory, has suggested that half a million drivers a day make calls on hand-held mobiles.

Ministers are keen to take an even stronger line after figures showed that mobile phones were linked to 13 fatal accidents in 2005 and 52 serious crashes.

Andrew Howard, of the AA, said drivers using a phone make a decision that falls far below the standard of a reasonable driver. “They have crossed the threshold from careless to dangerous driving. These guidelines make that clear.”

Princess Diana letter: ‘Charles plans to kill me’

 

The letter written by Diana to Paul Burrell – “…my husband is planning ‘an accident’ in my car…”

Telegraph | Dec 20, 2007

By Gordon Rayner, Chief Reporter

A handwritten letter in which Diana, Princess of Wales claimed that the Prince of Wales was plotting to kill her so he could marry Tiggy Legge-Bourke, the former nanny to Princes William and Harry, has been shown at the inquest into her death.

The note was sent to Paul Burrell, the princess’s then butler, in October 1993, 10 months after her separation from Prince Charles was announced.

She wrote: “I am sitting here at my desk today in October, longing for someone to hug me and encourage me to keep strong and hold my head high.

“This particular phase in my life is the most dangerous – my husband is planning ‘an accident’ in my car, brake failure and serious head injury in order to make the path clear for him to marry Tiggy. Camilla is nothing but a decoy, so we are all being used by the man in every sense of the word.”

The letter has been shown at the inquest at the Royal Courts of Justice in London to witnesses who have been challenged over their assertions that the princess did not fear for her safety.

Mohamed Fayed, the father of the princess’s boyfriend, Dodi Fayed, claims that the couple were killed by MI6 on the orders of Prince Philip to prevent them marrying and having a Muslim baby.

Michael Mansfield, QC, representing Mr Fayed, has suggested to close friends of the princess that she had expressed fears for her safety, which they have denied.

During questioning on Tuesday, the letter was shown to Lucia Flecha da Lima, the wife of the former Brazilian ambassador to London and one of the princess’s closest confidantes. She said that the princess had never expressed fears for her safety.

“I still don’t believe in it,” she said. “Paul Burrell was perfectly capable of imitating Princess Diana’s handwriting. I don’t believe she was fearing for her life, especially from Prince Charles, the future king of your country.”

The inquest has already been told that in October 1995 the princess told Lord Mishcon, her solicitor, that “reliable sources” had informed her of the prince’s plans “that she and Camilla would be put aside”.

Prince Charles will appear at conference as a hologram

Daily Mail | Dec 15, 2007

His detractors may argue that his green principles do not stand up to close examination.

But now Prince Charles is set to confound his critics by addressing an energy conference – as a hologram.

Determined to keep his environmental damage to a minimum, Charles will save the 15 tons of carbon that would have been generated by flying himself and his staff 7,000 miles to the World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi.

Instead, a three-dimensional image of the Prince will be seen giving a five-minute talk.

Charles recorded the message at Highgrove last month. It will be transformed into a hologram-style image using technology based on a Victorian music-hall technique called “ghosting”.

A video projector will beam an image of the Prince on to the floor.

It is then reflected up on to a paper-thin sheet of foil to create an optical illusion that makes him appear as a 3-D image on stage.

Former US Vice-President Al Gore used similar technology to appear as a hologram at Wembley Stadium at the beginning of the Live Earth concerts earlier this year.

Charles was heavily criticised in January when he and the Duchess of Cornwall flew to Philadelphia with 12 staff to pick up an award from Mr Gore honouring him as an environmentalist.

That trip created 20 tons of carbon dioxide.

The idea of the virtual Prince came from the Abu Dhabi conference organisers, who asked British events firm Revolution to produce special events for the three-day summit which starts on January 21.

Revolution managing director

Matt Sims said: “He will appear as a three-dimensional holographic image. All credit to His Royal Highness who was very keen to do it.

“It’s all about zero carbon emissions.”

Ironically, the biggest hurdle to setting up the holographic speech was Royal protocol, Mr Sims said, as Prince Andrew – dubbed “Air Miles Andy” for his jet-set lifestyle – will also be there.

“Protocol forbids two Royals from being on the same stage, and so the whole thing was coming into question,” Mr Sims said.

“I was at a very eye-opening meeting at which they were asking ‘Do we allow two Royals on the same stage at the same time?’

“Because Prince Charles isn’t actually going to be there, it was decided that this did not breach protocol.

But they said they might have to rewrite protocol to take holograms into account in the future.”

The Prince wore a light-coloured suit to film the speech – if he had worn dark clothes, only his head would be visible.

He will be seen standing, making gestures and moving around the stage.

The video is not a true hologram as you cannot see different parts of the image by moving around.

The technology is only a little more expensive than shooting a standard high-definition video, Mr Sims added.

A Clarence House spokeswoman said: “His Royal Highness was happy to do it.

He often does video messages but this is his first hologram.”

Ron Paul: “When Fascism comes to this country, it will be wrapped in a flag, carrying a cross”

Ron Paul on Fox & Friends (PT.1of2) 12-18-07