Wednesday, May 25, 2005

US is the Main Hurdle in Curbing Nukes

Not only is the US responsible for encouraging (or tacitly permitting) rogue states like Israel and Pakistan to get the BOMB, as well as obstructing progress in places like North Korea and Iran, but Bush's own committment for smaller and better nukes threatens the global non-proliferation agenda alltogether.

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The United States is sending the wrong signal to signatories of the global pact against nuclear weapons by backing out of previous arms control pledges, arms experts and diplomats said on Wednesday.

The 188 parties to the 1970 Non-Proliferation Treaty are near the end of a monthlong conference that participants said would almost certainly fail to agree on any steps to improve the pact aimed at halting the spread of nuclear arms.

"The chances are very slim," said Abdul Minty, head of South Africa's delegation, "There is a big divide ... The U.S. is developing new nuclear weapons and we want to know against whom."

Minty complimented U.S. officials for eventually permitting agenda items they would have preferred to ignore. But he said America's refusal to reaffirm its "unequivocal commitment" to disarmament was problematic for many treaty signatories.

Washington has been exploring the idea of developing smaller atomic weapons -- "mini nukes" or "bunker busters.".......

Strong Words from Amnesty International on US

Below is from the Forward of AI's 2005 Global Report by Irene Khan, Secretary General, Amnesty International. And worth noting, is that Cuba did not get mentioned at all in the America's Summary... though nearly every other Latin country did. In Cuba's section, they identified 70 prisinors of country on the island where we hear you get locked up for speaking out against the regime. Either there are truly very few dissidents, or this statement is false. Which one does the right believe to be the case? Nevermind that those in jail were caught with foreign money and obeying foreign orders.

In 1973 AI published its first report on torture. It found that: “torture thrives on secrecy and impunity. Torture rears its head when the legal barriers against it are barred. Torture feeds on discrimination and fear. Torture gains ground when official condemnation of it is less than absolute.” The pictures of detainees in US custody in Abu Ghraib, Iraq, show that what was true 30 years ago remains true today.

Despite the near-universal outrage generated by the photographs coming out of Abu Ghraib, and the evidence suggesting that such practices are being applied to other prisoners held by the USA in Afghanistan, Guantánamo and elsewhere, neither the US administration nor the US Congress has called for a full and independent investigation.

Instead, the US government has gone to great lengths to restrict the application of the Geneva Conventions and to “re-define” torture. It has sought to justify the use of coercive interrogation techniques, the practice of holding “ghost detainees” (people in unacknowledged incommunicado detention) and the "rendering" or handing over of prisoners to third countries known to practise torture. The detention facility at Guantánamo Bay has become the gulag of our times, entrenching the practice of arbitrary and indefinite detention in violation of international law. Trials by military commissions have made a mockery of justice and due process.

The USA, as the unrivalled political, military and economic hyper-power, sets the tone for governmental behaviour worldwide. When the most powerful country in the world thumbs its nose at the rule of law and human rights, it grants a licence to others to commit abuse with impunity and audacity. From Israel to Uzbekistan, Egypt to Nepal, governments have openly defied human rights and international humanitarian law in the name of national security and “counter-terrorism”.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Exiles back Cuban militant on asylum bid, poll shows

(Not surpisingly, the Cuban-American community supports the right of a self-avowed terrorist and assasin to live freely here in the United States.)

By Madeline Baró Diaz
Miami Bureau
May 24 2005

Despite accusations that Cuban militant Luis Posada Carriles has carried out deadly attacks in his four-decade battle against President Fidel Castro's government, most Cuban exiles in South Florida think he is a patriot who deserves political asylum in the United States, according to a poll to be released today.

The poll of 300 Cuban-born people in Miami-Dade and Broward counties was conducted May 13-22 by Bendixen & Associates, which asked respondents about their views on Posada.

More than 60 percent said they had a positive view of the aging exile and former CIA operative who has been accused of a number of violent acts, but they also said they preferred that a future transition to democracy in Cuba be peaceful rather than violent.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Newsweek and Cuban Terrorist Re-Cap

As the debate has switched from whether Newsweek screwed up to whether they ought to be banned, the facts about the story's retraction and the numerous other Koran allegations remain the same. Yes, Newsweek caved in to the demands of the White House hook line and sinker. But again, if you read their reports and (now) "retraction," they seem to be sticking by their guns without actually having to stick up for their story. And as (Republican blogger) Andrew Sullivan wrote:

"We have yet to see what's at the root, if anything, of the Newsweek story. But I think it's telling that some bloggers have devoted much, much more energy to covering the Newsweek error than they ever have to covering any sliver of the widespread evidence of detainee abuse that made the Newsweek piece credible in the first place. A simple question: after U.S. interrogators have tortured over two dozen detainees to death, after they have wrapped one in an Israeli flag, after they have smeared naked detainees with fake menstrual blood, after they have told one detainee to '[Expletive] Allah,' after they have ordered detainees to pray to Allah in order to kick them from behind in the head, is it completely beyond credibility that they would also have desecrated the Koran?"

Others have commented on the shameless reversal on whether the Newsweek article was responsible for the Afghan riots - past and future. So-called journalistic experts have come down saying Newsweek should not have printed the story with the second source having been a "non-denial." That is, the press is now expected to go beyond letting the Military review an entire piece (already highly unusual) prior to publication and... just sit on potentially troublesome news... as the US National Interest dictates.

in other news...

We have a new Mayor in Los Angeles.


The Bush Administration did arrest CIA trained Cuban-American terrorist Luis Posada Carilles yesterday. However, early indications are that the Administration is not going to follow law or procedure and extradite him to Venezuela, where he is a citizen and where Courts are seeking his re-trial for the airplane bombing. Invoking a policy of not working with Cuba at all (despite crying about Cuba's lack of coresponding cooperation), nor "countries we believe to be acting on Cuba's behalf," it appears Carriles is off to another 3rd country where he can hide. The other option is trial here in the States and that is just not going to happen in this land where Rule of Law is becoming a bad joke.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

An Election Based on Style... and a bit of Race

In an exact repeat of last time, the Mayoral race between Jim Hahn and Antonio Villaraigosa, has tightened at the last minute, after racially tinged attacks against ACLU card holder, "soft on crime" Antonio. There may be no crack pipe on everyone's TV yet, but we still have 2 days. CW is that challenger Antonio will win this year, but I bet its much closer than the 18 point lead the Times showed a week ago.

The campaign is notable in how 2 such different campaigners can have such remarkably close policy positions. There was a slight difference on the hugley important, yet uncomprehendable, includionary zoning (IZ) issue (postponed for months) but this was dissolved after Antonio caved over the course of the campaign. (IZ would mandate a certain percentage of units in medium and large scale apartments and condos be affordable in exchange for zoning benefits). From watching him stand on the steps of City Hall with Reyes and Garcetti demanding this policy, I read last week that he agrees with Hahn in opposing the current proposal.

What else do they differ on... oh maybe Antonio is more pie in the sky about transport and Hahn is more unrealistic about schools. That is it. It turns out their reliance on shady money and friendliness with developers is the same.

I am with the LA TImes' guest editorial cartoonist that if I had to judge the campaign it would go to Hahn (for his earnestness) and against Antonion (for his cliches), but my heart still tells me Antonio will weigh in on the side of right and encourage the City Council to be even more bold. The real action is in the Planning Departmnet, as today's article (Pg 1 California) showed. Big changes may be ahead there...

Wait A Second

If you were one of the few who read the actual Newsweek "Editors Note" on the Koran having been desecrated in Guantanamo (in the toilet), you might get a different impression than the way the story has been reported in the press. According to nearly everything on the wires now, this is being called this "an apology," admitting error or calling the the info just plain "wrong."

Turns out there was no apology from Newsweek, just regret for the dozen killed and very inconvenient dust having been kicked up. The supposed "error" relates to a minor clairification of detail from a key Bush Administration source who still "clearly recalled reading investigative reports (in Military docs) about mishandling the Qur'an, including a toilet incident." After the massive pressure put to bear, the source now says s/he can not be sure the info was in the final Pentagon report... perhaps just a Government Investigator report. SO WHAT!!! THIS IS NOT AN APOLOGY!!

What the hell is going on media?? Are we supposed to feel good and think the world is going to forget about this just because the Pentagon brass did not choose to include this in their final report on abuses in Gitmo? This is information that was reported in the Western press more than once already... by innocents (one a journalist) who were let free... as well as corroborated in some sort of official military report - by a Bush Official. But it didn't make it in the final Southcom report. What a suprise considering the forthrightness we have come to expect from the Pentagon.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Finally, The Media Catches On to a Scandal - thanks to Castro

Documents Link Cuban Exile to Bomb Plot
Los Angeles Times (subscription), CA

"Plane bomber" was CIA agent
BBC News, UK 

Terror suspect was CIA informant
Washington Times, DC 

Terrorist suspect seeks asylum in the US

Cuban exile presents challenge for US in fighting war on terrorism
Kansas City Star, MO 

Fidel Castro Calls March Demanding Action on Terrorist in US
Periódico 26, Cuba

Meanwhite editorials from the New York Times, International Herald Tribune, France and even papers in Florida have condemned the lack of action by the Bush Administration, despite its apparent frequent discussions about it (Newsweek). And what I called a great irony a few days ago (the $1 million bounty placed on the head of Tupac's aunt, political prisinor Assatta Shakur, who has lived in Cuba for the last 26 years), may not have been a coincidince at all. Sources say that the Bush people may have actually made that move as its response to these increasingly loud noise about the 16-year CIA agent/terrorist, Jeb Bush tied, Cuban-exile leader Luis Posada Carriles' US asylum bid - after weaseling out of prison twice.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

I Love Weeks Like This

A perfect illustration of the hypocrisy, deceit and lies that underlie US policy to Cuba... and many other issues:

This week our Justice Department placed a $1 million bounty on the head of Assata Shakur, formerly known as Joanne Chesimard, now officially labled a "domestic terrorist" though she hasn't set foot here since 1979. A former Black Panther activist, Assata was found guilty of a shooting where her brother and a policeman died in New Jersey. She later escaped from prison and made her way to Cuba, where she was granted political asylum in 1979.

This week, when asked about the most productive terrorist the Western hemisphere has probably seen in the late 20th Century, our State Department's Latin American chief Roger Noriega said it "may be a completely manufactured issue." He is talking about the notorious Cuban-American terrorist Luis Posada Cariles, a man who was imprisoned in Venezuela for a 1976 airplane bombing that killed 76, imprisoned in Panama for attempting to kill a President, who admitted bombing tourist hotels, who is wanted in connection with one of the worst acts of domestic terrorism ever - the car bomb murder of Chilean diplomat and American bystander in Washington in 1976. When asked what the US planned to do about the this terrorist having recently snuck in to the US from Mexico (his lawyer told the media such), after having escaped from prison in Venezuela and being mysterily pardoned in Panama last year, Noriega said "we don't even know he is in the United States."

Two "terrorists' escape from prison and our Government ignores one (at the time) and throws a hissy about the other... 32 years later). But this is a adminstration that sees terrorism as the defining issue. You either a fifty-something African-American woman living peacefully in Cuba getting $1 million dollar bounty on your head or a convicted terrorist sneakling in the country getting ignored.

Yet our liberal Washington Post, following the AP, reported the story like this: (read the facts and make up your own mind which version is more "fair and balanced," I dare you).

U.S. Denies Cuba's Accusation on Terrorist

WASHINGTON -- A top State Department official denied on Tuesday Cuban allegations that the United States is providing a haven for a man Cuba accuses of perpetrating a terrorist bombing against a Cuban airliner in 1976.

"I don't even know that he is in the United States," said Roger Noriega, the top State Department official for Western Hemisphere affairs.

At issue is the whereabouts of Luis Posada Carriles, who has spent much of his life trying to overthrow Castro. Posada's Miami lawyer, Eduardo Soto, says Posada sneaked into the United States in March via Mexico and plans to ask for asylum.

Noriega said Cuban claims about Posada "may be a completely manufactured issue."

The United States, he said, "has no interest in giving quarter to someone who has committed criminal acts."

"We are a country that respects the rule of law," Noriega said.

Cuba accuses of Posada of masterminding the bombing that killed 73 people who were aboard a Cuban passenger plane that was flying over Barbados 29 years ago.

Castro has launched a marathon of speeches on the case, demanding that the United States extradite Posada to Venezuela, where he holds citizenship and is wanted in the bombing.

Alternatively, Cuba would like to see him handed over to an international tribunal in a neutral country.

Posada has denied involvement in the airline explosion, and was acquitted in two trials in Venezuela.

But he escaped from prison in 1985 while awaiting a prosecutor's appeal. He once acknowledged _ and later denied _ overseeing the bombings of Cuban hotels in 1997.

Cuban officials say that consent by U.S. authorities is the only possible explanation for what it claims is the presence of a renowned terrorist on U.S. soil.

Castro has said that Posada is "the most famous and cruel terrorist of the Western Hemisphere.