Daily Archives: December 30, 2007

Hillary: “There are those saying it was an inside job.”

 
“There are those saying that al-Qaida did it. Others are saying it looked like it was an inside job…”

Newsday.com | Dec 30, 2007

Hillary: Pakistan troops might have killed Bhutto

BY GLENN THRUSH

CLINTON, Iowa – Hillary Rodham Clinton waded into Pakistan’s volatile internal political situation yesterday, raising the possibility the country’s military might have assassinated Benazir Bhutto because the killing took place in the garrison city of Rawalpindi.

Clinton’s remarks came as Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf’s government seemed to reject a call for an independent international investigation of the murder that Clinton and John Edwards proposed on Friday.

During a question-and-answer session at an elementary school here, Clinton offered a detailed prescription for the troubled country, suggesting that the U.S divert aid away from its military to social welfare programs.

And for the second time in as many days, she cast doubt on Musharraf’s contention that the suicide bombing that led to the death of the country’s most popular opposition leader was masterminded by al-Qaida.

“There are those saying that al-Qaida did it. Others are saying it looked like it was an inside job – remember Rawalpindi is a garrison city,” she said.

Earlier in the day, the former first lady sat down with ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos and said that, as president, it wouldn’t be “appropriate” for her to include Bill Clinton in top-secret security discussions.

“I think he would play the role that spouses have always played for presidents,” she told the host of “This Week” in an interview to air today. “He will not have a formal official role, but just as presidents rely on wives, husbands, fathers, friends of long years, he will be my close confidante and adviser as I was with him.”

Sen. Barack Obama has dismissed Hillary Clinton’s White House experience as largely irrelevant. Consequently, Clinton spent much of yesterday touting her work in the 1990s on international women’s rights and the negotiations that led to reconciliation between Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland. “I actually went to Northern Ireland more than Bill,” she said.

Clinton, who earned the endorsement yesterday of the influential Concord (N.H.) Monitor, emphasized her foreign policy experience and spoke about her 12-year relationship with Bhutto, Pakistan’s former prime minister.

In August, her aides accused Obama of helping to destabilize the nuclear-armed Pakistan by suggesting he’d deploy U.S. forces in the country to hunt for Osama bin Laden.

But yesterday, Clinton delved into Pakistan’s internal affairs, suggesting its “feudal landowning leadership,” led by Musharraf, has protected al-Qaida to preserve its tenuous grip on power. In an interview on Friday, Clinton called for an international probe into Bhutto’s assassination, saying “there was no reason to trust the Pakistani government.”

An Interior Ministry spokesman rejected that suggestion yesterday, saying, “I think we are capable of handling it.”

. . .

Related

Bhutto murder blamed on Pakistan intelligence agents

Al-Qaeda strongly denies role in Bhutto assassination

Anglo-American Ambitions behind the Assassination of Benazir Bhutto and the Destabilization of Pakistan

Bhutto party accuses government

Islamists within ISI may have aided Benazir assassination, analysts fear

Bhutto said she would hold Musharraf ‘responsible’ for her death

Did Pakistan’s ISI Kill Benazir Bhutto?

Pakistani Intelligence Had Links to Al Qaeda, U.S. Officials Say

More Evidence ‘al-Qaeda’ Is A CIA-ISI Contrivance

U.S. Intel Officer: Al Qaeda Leadership Allowed To Operate Freely
Intimate links between ISI, CIA, Al Qaeda exposed

Role of secret agencies: The ISI
ISI has mastered the tradecraft of sabotage, subversion, direct military intervention, and proxy war to a degree of perfection, as has been achieved by its mirror brother in trade, the CIA. The organisation has enormous power, influence and resources and virtually no constraints and checks.

Nepalese Parliament Votes to Abolish Monarchy

VOA News | Dec 28, 2007

By Anjana Pasricha

The Nepalese Parliament has voted to abolish the tiny Himalayan nation’s centuries-old monarchy, turning the country into a republic. From New Delhi, Anjana Pasricha reports that the decision is expected to pave the way for holding elections and restoring democracy next year.

The decision to abolish the monarchy and declare Nepal a “federal, democratic, republican state” was made by an overwhelming majority in the interim parliament.

270 members in the 329-member house voted late on Friday in favor of ending the monarchy. Only three votes were cast against the motion. The rest abstained.

The vote in the Himalayan country came as no surprise. Days ago, the government had reached an agreement with former Maoist rebels to abolish the monarchy.

That agreement came three months after Maoist rebels had walked out of the government, demanding immediate abolition of the centuries old institution. The Maoists have waged a decade long civil war against the monarchy.

Friday’s vote confirms the earlier agreement and represents a compromise between the rebels and political parties. It will be implemented after elections are held – probably in mid-April.

Professor Lok Raj Baral at Nepal’s Center for Contemporary Studies says a decision on the elections could come soon.

“All the parties have now agreed and they are happy. In a couple of days or so the government is going to announce the date of the elections,” Baral said.

The king has traditionally been considered a reincarnation of a Hindu God, Vishnu. King Gyanendra heads a dynasty that dates back to the 18th century. He became King when much of his family was killed in a palace massacre in 2001.

But King Gyanendra fell from favor when he dismissed the government and grabbed absolute power in 2005. He only handed back power to political parties following weeks of bloody protests in April 2006.

The king’s power-grab helped pave the way for Maoist rebels and political parties to join forces to end his rule, and enter a peace deal.

The elections are expected to end restore democracy and end a tumultuous period in the country’s history.

. . .

Related

Nepal’s god king loses his power, prestige and palace

Sex lessons must start at age five

“It would be basic mechanics at that age”

Scotsman | Dec 29, 2007

By Kate Foster

SEX education lessons should be given to schoolchildren as young as five as part of a bid to combat soaring levels of teenage pregnancy and sexual disease, Scotland’s most senior public health doctor said last night. Dr Charles Saunders, chairman of the British Medical Association’s Scottish consultants’ committee, warned that schools were leaving the safe-sex message so late that many teenagers were already exposing themselves to avoidable risk.

Saunders also called for secondary schools to hand out condoms and other forms of contraception to children from the age of 13.

His comments are the most radical call for reform of sex education in Scotland ever to be made by such a senior doctors’ leader.

Last night, parents’ groups gave Saunders’ remarks their cautious backing and the Scottish Government said it was up to individual schools to decide when to begin sex education. But the Catholic Church in Scotland said it would oppose any such move, describing it as “pointless”.

Scotland’s sexual health record is one of the poorest in the western world. Teenage pregnancies are on the rise with 9,040 in 2005, the latest year for which figures are available, compared with 8,891 in 2004. Cases of sexually transmitted diseases are also rising. In April to June this year, Scottish laboratories saw 4,715 cases of chlamydia – up 6% from 4,468 in January to March.

Saunders, a consultant in public health medicine at NHS Fife, said: “It needs to start at quite an early age, because if you leave it until they are 12 it is too late because some are already experimenting. It probably needs to be started off when children start school. You need to start laying the groundwork to help them and empower them to make decisions and turn things down.

“At five it needs to be a language that they understand and taught in the same way as any other subject. It would be basic mechanics at that age in the same way as you teach a child of that age a tiny amount about geography, a fairly superficial introduction.

“It should start off with relatively simple concepts in the same way as English and science start off with the basics. It could start off with how babies are made and progress from there.”

He added: “You need to start somewhere and it makes an awful lot of sense to start long before it’s needed, because if you leave it too long you are wasting your time.

“Basically sex education needs to be a whole lot better. It’s not just anatomical drawings but what the risks are from infections and what the pros and cons are of having sex or waiting.

“It’s not a simple task to get young people empowered enough to use condoms, but it’s the key. You want to ensure people are not having sex when they don’t want to have it, and that when they do want to have it they are not putting themselves at risk.”

Saunders added that all schools should also provide contraception to pupils. Currently contraception is on offer at a small number of schools.

He said: “Particularly in rural areas, schools may well be the only way that pupils can access contraception.

“It may well be that as time goes on it would make sense to have emergency contraception in schools.”

The Scottish Government allows local authorities and head teachers to set their own sex education policies, provided they are deemed appropriate to the age of the child and parents are happy with the subject matter.

In the majority of cases children do not learn about sex until Primary Six or Seven, when they are 10 or 11. They are not taught about the dangers of sexually transmitted diseases until secondary school.

A school could introduce sex education in Primary One, provided parents and teachers agreed it was the right move.

Judith Gillespie, development manager of the Scottish Parent Teacher Council, said she was undecided about whether five was the appropriate age to begin sex education, but she recognised Saunders’ concerns.

She said: “We do have to step up our sex education, but if they want to move forward with this they can’t just take it into schools, they have to have the support of parents.

“Sex education is an area where schools have to approach parents, and parents have the opportunity to veto it. We need to have a concerted information campaign so that parents understand it.”

A spokesman for the teaching union the Educational Institute of Scotland said: “While it is sensible to examine ways of improving the quality of information available to pupils, we must always take full account of the concerns of both the parents of the children concerned, and the teachers who are expected to deliver sex and relationship education.”

However, a spokesman for the Catholic Church said five-year-olds were too young to understand sex.

He said: “When children reach puberty they are able to assimilate information about their own sexuality but they are just not ready at five. It’s way over their heads and would be as pointless as giving a five-year-old a talk on alcohol. At the age of 15 it’s a different matter.”

Public Health Minister Shona Robison said: “We expect all schools to teach sex and relationships education and we expect them to consult parents about the content of sex and relationships education programmes.

“Any sex and relationships education needs to be appropriate to the age and stage of the pupils involved. Younger pupils might start learning about the broad idea of relationships, and family and friends, for example.

“We are not persuaded of the need to provide emergency contraception on school premises but do want to ensure that such services are available and are accessible in other local facilities.”

Chavez wants increased military role in economy and agriculture

 
Hugo Chavez dressed in full regalia as military dictator of Venezuela. Food shortages triggered criticism of the government’s agricultural policies. Chavez has repeatedly said those policies are necessary for the sake of the country’s “food security.”

Dow Jones Newswires | Dec 28, 2007

Venezuela’s Chavez Asks Military To Increase Role In Economy, Ag Sector

by Darcy Crowe

CARACAS (Dow Jones)–Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez Friday asked the military to take a larger role in the nation’s economy and the agricultural sector.

During a military ceremony, Chavez addressed some of the army’s top brass by name and rank, saying, “I’m asking you to participate more in the strengthening of the economy.

“In the first months of next year we should structure, give birth, to production units in the agricultural sector…there we face too many deficiencies,” he said.

Some of the roles the military should assume are “agricultural battalions (and) soldiers of (economic) production, without forgetting about defending the country,” he said, without going into specifics.

In recent months, a wave of food shortages has triggered criticism of the government’s agricultural policies and price controls on food staples like beans and milk.

Chavez has repeatedly said those policies are necessary for the sake of the country’s “food security.”

Chavez, a former lieutenant colonel, has expanded the role of the military in Venezuela and boosted its budget.

Bhutto murder blamed on Pakistan intelligence agents

Scotsman | Dec 30, 2007

By Richard Elias and Jeremy Watson

FACTIONS within the Pakistan intelligence service might have been behind the assassination of the country’s opposition leader Benazir Bhutto, sources within MI5 told Scotland on Sunday last night.

Pakistan continues to teeter on the brink following Bhutto’s death on Thursday as she left a rally for an election in which she was expected to become prime minister. The government has tried to blame militant groups linked to the Taliban and al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, which saw Bhutto’s rise to power as a threat.

But security sources in the UK say pro-Taliban factions in Pakistan’s feared Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency may have been behind the attack on the charismatic politician, who returned to her homeland from exile only two months ago to fight the election.

Bhutto, 54, blamed rogue elements in the ISI for a suicide bombing that killed 140 people at a rally shortly after her return in October. There were reports last night that just weeks ago, she had sent UK Foreign Secretary David Miliband a private e-mail naming three senior members of government who, she said, wanted her dead.

The source said: “The ISI was responsible for setting up the Taliban during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and there remain parts of the ISI who are desperate to see the Taliban back in power there. They hope that if this happens, it will pave the way for an Islamist state in Pakistan.”

Today, Bhutto’s 19-year-old son Bilawal will read out his mother’s will in a public demonstration that the Bhutto dynasty is still alive. The first-year Oxford University undergraduate is expected by many to be thrust into the forefront of her Pakistan People’s Party in the forthcoming elections, due for January 8.

“What will cause major problems is that whoever from Whitehall is involved in those discussions, whether it be mandarins or SIS (MI6], they are dealing with precisely the very people who are, in some quarters, being blamed for being behind the killing of Benazir Bhutto.”

Bhutto supporters yesterday dismissed as “ludicrous” a government theory that the former leaded had died after hitting her head on a sunroof and accused the government of a “cover-up” over the real culprits.

Interior ministry spokesman Javed Iqba
l Cheema reiterated the government’s claim that Islamic militant leader Baitullah Mehsud was behind Bhutto’s killing. Yesterday Mehsud’s spokesman contacted a news agency to issue a denial. But Cheema insisted: “We have the evidence that he is involved.” He also declined any foreign aid to help investigate the killing.

Rioting continued yesterday but there were no signs that the violence was escalating. Doubts remain over whether the planned elections will go ahead.

• Meanwhile, in a taped video message, Osama bin Laden has pledged to expand al-Qaeda’s attacks against Israel. During a 56-minute recording broadcast yesterday, he said: “I would like to assure our people in Palestine we will expand our jihad there. We intend to liberate Palestine, the whole of Palestine from the (Jordan] river to the sea.” He threatened “blood for blood, destruction for destruction”.

U.N. joining forces with Spider-Man

The U.N. is teaming up with Marvel Comics, creator of Spider-Man, to create a comic book. It will be set in a war-torn fictional country and feature superheroes working with U.N. agencies.

MSNBC | Dec. 27, 2007

Collaborative comic book aims to boost tarnished image of UN

By Deborah Brewster

He has fought against foes ranging from the Green Goblin to Doctor Octopus, but Spider-Man now faces an even more formidable challenge: improving the battered image of the United Nations.

In a move reminiscent of storylines developed during the World War II, the U.N. is joining forces with Marvel Comics, creators of Spider-Man and the Incredible Hulk, to create a comic book showing the international body working with superheroes to solve bloody conflicts and rid the world of disease.

The comic, initially to be distributed free to 1 million U.S. schoolchildren, will be set in a war-torn fictional country and feature superheroes such as Spider-Man working with U.N. agencies such as Unicef and the “blue hats,” the U.N. peacekeepers.

Camilla Schippa, chief of office at the U.N. Office for Partnerships, told the Financial Times the script was being written now and the final storyline was due to be approved in February. The cartoonists are working for free.

After publication in the U.S., the U.N. hopes to translate the comics into French and other languages and distribute them elsewhere, Schippa said.

The idea originally came from French film-maker, Romuald Sciora, who had been working on other U.N. projects and is making a DVD about the international organization that will be distributed to schoolchildren along with the comic books.

Although the U.N. did not come up with the initiative, the measure could help revive the body’s troubled image in the U.S., where relations have been strained, in particular during president Bush’s administration.

John Bolton, the former U.S. ambassador to the U.N., once said that “if the U.N. building in New York lost 10 stories, it wouldn’t make a bit of difference.”

The latest U.N. initiative is not the first time U.S. comics have been used for political purposes. During World War II, superheroes were shown taking on Germany’s Nazi regime. Marvel’s Captain America, together with other characters such as Superman, were shown beating up Adolf Hitler.

The U.N.’s goals are somewhat different: According to its Web site, it hopes the comics will teach children the value of international cooperation and sensitize them to the problems faced in other parts of the world.

Marvel Entertainment, which has a library of 5,000 characters, began as a comic-book company 60 years ago. Its superheroes include the Fantastic Four, Avengers and Uncanny X-Men.

. . .

Related 
U.N. investigated over 300 for sex abuse

UN Child Sex Slave Scandals Continue

UN begins search for sites to build camps for Nepal’s communist rebels

President Bush and U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan Exchange Toasts at United Nations Luncheon

U.N. Wants Global Gun Ban

United Nations plans unprecedented expansion of police missions worldwide

Giuliani Gave David Rockefeller U.N. Award

Bush urges U.N. to spread freedom

Moroccan U.N. unit accused of sex abuse over 3 years

Solar powered Homeland Security cameras can pick out a face in a crowd of thousands

Solar powered camera to aid war on crime

Associated Press | Dec 29, 2007

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) – A solar-powered surveillance camera will beam images of New Years Eve revelers to a police command center in Buffalo next week.

The camera is the latest weapon in the city’s war on crime. Police Commissioner H. McCarthy Gipson says the camera will be able to move in all directions, zoom in and out, and pick out a face in a crowd of thousands.

In a test for Homeland Security, the camera clearly showed the writing on a package left in the street.

Eventually, a hundred of the surveillance cameras will be placed throughout the city, paid for by state efficiency grants. Under the first phase, sixty cameras will be installed by February at a cost of $4 million.

Gipson says crime in the city is down five percent in the last two years, and the cameras should help continue that downward trend by serving as a deterrent to crime.