Aletho News


Taliban to execute US soldier if Aafia not released

By Mushtaq Yusufzai | The International News | February 05, 2010

PESHAWAR: The Afghan Taliban on Thursday demanded the release of Dr Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani scientist who has been convicted by the US court on charges of her alleged attempt to murder US soldiers in Afghanistan, and threatened to execute an American soldier they were holding currently. They claimed Aafia Siddiqui’s family had approached the Taliban network through a Jirga of notables, seeking their assistance to put pressure on the US to provide her justice.

“Being Muslims, it becomes our religious and moral obligation to help the distressed Pakistani woman convicted by the US court on false charges,” said a senior Afghan Taliban commander. The commander, whose militant network is holding the US soldier, Bowe Bergdahl, called The News from an undisclosed location in Afghanistan and threatened to execute the American trooper if their demand was not met. He claimed AafiaSiddiqui’s family had approached the Taliban network through a Jirga of notables, seeking their assistance to put pressure on the US to provide her justice.

“We tried our best to make the family understand that our role may create more troubles for the hapless woman, who was already in trouble. On their persistent requests, we have now decided to include Dr Aafia Siddiqui’s name in the list of our prisoners in US custody that we delivered to Americans in Afghanistan for swap of their soldier in our custody,” explained the militant commander.

He claimed family members of Dr Aafia told the Taliban leadership that they had lost all hopes in the Pakistan government and now Allah Almighty and the Taliban were their only hope. Later, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid also called The News from somewhere in Afghanistan and owned a statement given by the Taliban commander.

The militant commander alleged that the US soldier, whom his fighters kidnapped from Afghanistan’s Paktika province near the border with Pakistan’s troubled South Waziristan in June 2009, had admitted his involvement in several raids in Afghanistan. “Since he has confessed to all charges against him, our Islamic court had announced death sentence for him,” the Taliban leader claimed.

The same Taliban faction released a video of the captive US soldier on Christmas Day. Taliban said they had been shifting the soldier all the time due to the search operations by the US and Afghan forces. He said the only way Americans could save life of their soldier was to release 21 Afghan prisoners and the ‘innocent’ Pakistani lady.

Most of their prisoners, he claimed, were being held at the Guantanamo prison. “We believe that like the Israelis, the Americans would be ready soon to do any deal for taking possession of the remains of their soldier, but it would be late by then,” he stressed. Dr Aafia’s family could not be approached for comments on the Taliban claim.

February 5, 2010 Posted by | Solidarity and Activism | Comments Off on Taliban to execute US soldier if Aafia not released

Voices From Guantanamo: Omar Deghayes

By Jasmin Ramsey | Pulse Media | February 5, 2010

Omar Deghayes spent close to 6 years of his life in the US run Guantánamo Bay detention facility, the same prison that President Barack Hussein Obama said he would close down during his presidential election campaign.  Once referred to as a “sad chapter in American history” by Obama, Guantánamo Bay remains in operation today, while its lesser known twin in Afghanistan has undergone ‘improvements‘ and expansion.  A list of the hundreds of detainees in Bagram were only obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) after months of campaigning in January 2010.  Bagram has been holding, interrogating, and sometimes killing suspects of the US led ‘war on terror’ since 2001.

In 2007 Deghayes was finally released without being charged, but will carry the physical and emotional scars that he suffered during his imprisonment for the rest of his life.  He will have to face one of those scars every time he looks in the mirror.  For some, Deghayes is just another brown male with a beard and a disturbing story to tell.  Who listens?

Near the end of January Patrick Barkham of The Guardian conducted an in-depth interview with Deghayes.  In it he notes:

It is not hot stabbing pain that Omar Deghayes remembers from the day a Guantánamo guard blinded him, but the cool sen­sation of fingers being stabbed deep into his eyeballs. He had joined other prisoners in protesting against a new humiliation – inmates ­being forced to take off their trousers and walk round in their pants – and a group of guards had entered his cell to punish him. He was held down and bound with chains.

“I didn’t realise what was going on until the guy had pushed his fingers ­inside my eyes and I could feel the coldness of his fingers. Then I realised he was trying to gouge out my eyes,” Deghayes says. He wanted to scream in agony, but was determined not to give his torturers the satisfaction. Then the officer standing over him instructed the eye-stabber to push harder. “When he pulled his hands out, I remember I couldn’t see anything – I’d lost sight completely in both eyes.” Deghayes was dumped in a cell, fluid streaming from his eyes.

The sight in his left eye returned over the following days, but he is still blind in his right eye. He also has a crooked nose (from being punched by the guards, he says) and a scar across his forefinger (slammed in a prison door), but otherwise this resident of Saltdean, near Brighton, appears ­relatively ­unscarred from the more than five years he spent locked in Guantánamo Bay. Two years after his release, he speaks softly and calmly; he has the unlined skin and thick hair of a man younger than his 40 years; he has just remarried and has, for the first time in his life, a firm feeling that his home is on the clifftops of East Sussex.

Deghayes must, however, live with the darkness of Guantánamo for the rest of his days. There are reminders everywhere, from the beautiful picture of Saltdean that was painted for him while he was incarcerated, to the fact that Guantánamo ­remains open 12 months after Barack Obama vowed to close it within a year.

There are still around 200 prisoners left in the detention camp, many of whom have been there for eight years. Of the 800 freed, only one has been found guilty of any crime and he was convicted by a dubious military commission, a verdict that is likely to be overturned. Deghayes, too, does not want to forget. He says there is so much still to be ­exposed about the ­conditions there, and about British ­collusion in the ­extraordinary rendition and torture of men such as him in the months following the American-led ­invasion of Afghanistan in 2001.

Although Deghayes is now free (or as free as he can ever be considering the ordeal he was forced to endure), many others continue to suffer within the walls of America’s infamous torture chambers, otherwise referred to as detention centres, while life goes on as usual for others.  Canadian citizen Omar Khadr has matured from a boy into a man within the cell walls of Guantánamo (he was detained when he was 15) while Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his government continue to resist demands and even supreme court rulings recommending that Khadr be returned to Canada.  Harper recently went so far as to declare that Canadians “don’t care” about Afghan detainee abuse on national television.  Some will argue that this is not the case and if you care about the actions your government takes in your name, then write to and call your governmental representatives so that there’s no confusion.

Interestingly, in the clip above Deghayes reveals that even though he has every reason to, he has not allowed himself to be swallowed by bitterness and hatred.   Instead, he has been telling his story and campaigning to prevent the same injustices from being imposed on others.  Deghayes and others like him provide inspiring examples of how humanity can endure even in the most challeging of circumstances, in this case brought to us by a brown male with a beard.  Now, who will listen?

February 5, 2010 Posted by | Subjugation - Torture | Comments Off on Voices From Guantanamo: Omar Deghayes

NYT’s Israel Editor’s Sticky Situation

Ethan Bronner’s Conflict With Impartiality

By ALISON WEIR | February 5, 2010

Ethan Bronner is the New York Times Jerusalem bureau chief. As such, he is the editor responsible for all the news coming out of Israel-Palestine. It is his job to decide what gets reported and what doesn’t; what goes in a story and what gets cut.

To a considerable degree, he determines what readers of arguably the nation’s most influential newspaper learn about Israel and its adversaries, and, especially, what they don’t.

His son just joined the Israeli army.

According to New York Times ethics guidelines, such a situation would be expected to cause significant concern. In these guidelines the Times repeatedly emphasizes the importance of impartiality.

This is considered so critical that the Times devotes considerable attention to “conflict of interest” (also called “conflict with impartiality”) problems, situations in which personal interest might cause a journalist to intentionally or unconsciously slant a story.

The Times notes that family affiliations may cause such a conflict; as an example, it explains that a daughter’s high position on Wall Street could be problematic for a business reporter.

In situations where such a familial affiliation is considered significant, the journalist may be moved to a different area of reporting.

Ethan Bronner’s situation, therefore would appear to be sticky, at the very least. It is difficult to imagine that a son fighting for the foreign nation an editor is charged with covering does not constitute such a potential conflict with impartiality. Apart from Mr. Bronner signing up with the Israeli military himself, it is difficult to imagine a clearer example of familial partisanship.

Yet, to date, Bronner and the Times have refused to address his situation. Foreign Editor Susan Chira (who may also have family allegiances to Israel) has declined to comment, other than refer people to her curt response to Electronic Intifada, which had asked her whether it was true that Bronner’s son was in the Israeli military:

“Ethan Bronner referred your query to me, the foreign editor. Here is my comment: Mr. Bronner’s son is a young adult who makes his own decisions. At The Times, we have found Mr. Bronner’s coverage to be scrupulously fair and we are confident that will continue to be the case.”

If that were, indeed, the case for Bronner’s reporting, there would undoubtedly be less concern from outside observers. There are numerous instances of accurate reporting by both Israeli and Palestinian journalists; familial and personal affiliation do not necessarily or always result in flawed journalism.

However, while both Chira and Bronner may believe he has been “scrupulously fair” in the years that he has been the paper’s top editor on Israel-Palestine (before assuming his current position as Jerusalem bureau chief in March 2008, he had been deputy foreign editor overseeing the region for four years), a number of studies and analyses contradict this contention.

* In 2005 a study by If Americans Knew found that the Times had covered Israeli children’s deaths at a rate over seven times greater than it had reported on Palestinian children’s deaths – even though Palestinian children’s deaths had occurred first, in far greater numbers, and there was considerable evidence that Palestinian young people were being killed intentionally by official Israeli forces.

* Princeton Professor Emeritus Richard Falk and media critic Howard Friel undertook a meticulous analysis of the Times‘ coverage of the issue; the title of their book indicates their findings: “Israel-Palestine on Record: How the New York Times Misreports Conflict in the Middle East.” Among others things, Falk and Friel discovered that the Times had failed to report the essential fact that all Israeli settlements are illegal under international law.

* A 2006 study published in the Electronic Intifada revealed that during the previous six years there had been 80 reports by respected international organizations detailing human rights violations in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Of these, 76 had been primarily critical of Israel, and four had been primarily critical of Palestinians. The study found that the Times had reported on two of the reports for each, giving readers an exceedingly distorted view of the real situation.

* In a recent announcement expressing concern at Bronner’s apparent conflict of interest, media watchdog Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) stated that “Bronner’s reporting has been repeatedly criticized by FAIR for what would appear to be a bias toward the Israeli government,” detailing specific examples.

Shifting the Blame

Several years ago the San Francisco Jewish Bulletin published an article exploring Jewish student journalists’ views on how to report on Israel-Palestine. Several said that they would find it difficult to report negative aspects about Israel, one interviewee saying that he would try to avoid printing such news. If that proved impossible, he said, he would then try to find a way “to shift the blame.”

New York Times‘ news coverage often seems to follow this pattern. When the Gaza massacre of December-January is reported, Gazan rockets are inevitably mentioned. However, the fact that these largely home-made projectiles have killed far fewer Israelis in the eight years they have been used (under 20) than Israeli forces killed in a few minutes during the invasion is virtually always omitted. Likewise left out is the fact that their use began only after Israeli forces had invaded Gaza on a number of occasions, killing and injuring numerous civilians.

The Times consistently reports Israeli actions as retaliatory, despite the fact that, according to an MIT study, in at least 96 percent of ceasefires and periods of calm it was Israeli forces that had first resumed violence. In the conflict that began in fall of 2000, Israeli forces killed over 140 Palestinians before a single Israeli in Israel was killed, 91 Palestinian children (major cause of death, gunfire to the head) before a single Israeli child was killed.

An example of Bronner’s Israel-centric reporting is a November, 2009 report on prisoners. Bronner notes that the Israeli soldier captured by Palestinians (the only Israeli prisoner held by Palestinians) is “bespectacled and boyish-seeming,” while failing to mention that many of the over 7,000 Palestinians prisoners held by Israel are equally bespectacled and boyish-seeming – in fact, 300+ are not just boyish, they are children.

While Bronner includes personal information about the Israeli prisoner, he includes very few facts about Palestinian prisoners; for example, that hundreds have never been charged with a crime and that those whom Israel has found “guilty” were tried in military courts under military law in a military occupation of Palestinian land that much of the world deems illegal. While Bronner’s story contains considerable mention of “terrorism,” it fails to report that Israeli forces killed over a thousand Gazan civilians; Palestinians killed one Israeli civilian.

Interestingly, connections to the Israeli military may not be rare for journalists covering the Middle East for US media.

The husband of NPR’s longtime correspondent for the region, Linda Gradstein, was a sniper in the Israeli army (and may still be a reserve officer). “Pundit” Jeffrey Goldberg, who appears throughout the media, immigrated to Israel, became an Israeli citizen, and served in the Israeli military. (It is unknown whether he is still in the Israeli reserves; it is possible he received a dispensation from this requirement.)

The New York Times’ other major correspondent from the region, Isabel Kershner, is an Israeli citizen. While there is universal compulsory military service in Israel, we have been unable to confirm that Kershner herself and/or her family members have been or are in the Israeli military.

Breaking the silence

Recently, the Israeli organization “Breaking the Silence” published 96 testimonies by female Israeli soldiers. They describe a pervasive pattern of violence, harassment, theft, and humiliation practiced by Israeli forces against Palestinian men, women, and children. Below are excerpts:

“We caught a five-year-old… the officers just picked him up, slapped him around and put him in the jeep. The kid was crying and the officer next to me said ‘don’t cry’ and started laughing at him. Finally the kid cracked a smile – and suddenly the officer gave him a punch in the stomach. Why? ‘Don’t laugh in my face’ he said.”

“…it’s boring, so we’d create some action. We’d get on the radio, and say they threw stones at us, then someone would be arrested… There was a policewoman, she was bored, so okay, she said they threw stones at her. They asked her who threw them. ‘I don’t know, two in grey shirts, I didn’t manage to see them.’ They catch two guys with grey shirts… beat them. Is it them? ‘No, I don’t think so.’ Okay, a whole incident, people get beaten up. Nothing happened that day.”

“…two of our soldiers put him [a Palestinian child] in a jeep, and two weeks later the kid was walking around with casts on both arms and legs…they talked about it in the unit quite a lot – about how they sat him down and put his hand on the chair and simply broke it right there on the chair.”

An officer described soldiers shooting to death a nine-year-old as he was trying to run away: “They shot in the air, as they say – shot in the air in the lungs…”

In their testimonies, these soldiers emphasize that mistreatment of Palestinian civilians is widespread, routine, and known to everyone. Both the Israeli and the Palestinian press have published excerpts.

Yet, New York Times Bureau Chief Ethan Bronner has so far failed to report this information about Israeli forces.

And his son has just joined up.

Alison Weir is executive director of If Americans Knew and a board member of the Council for the National Interest (CNI). For more information on Ethan Bronner and his upcoming speaking tour on college campuses, join IAK’S email list. Alison can be reached at


The New York Times Company Policy on Ethics in Journalism. This also states: “Companywide, our goal is to cover the news impartially… and to be seen as doing so. The reputation of our company rests upon that perception…”

“Susan Chira, New York Times Foreign Editor, confirms, excuses Bronner’s conflict of interest,” Israel-Palestine: The Missing Headlines,” Jan. 27, 2010

“New York Times fails to disclose Jerusalem bureau chief’s conflict of interest
Report,” The Electronic Intifada, January 25, 2010

New York Times’ Ethan Bronner’s Conflict of Interest: Conversation with Bronner and Alternative News Sources”, January 26, 2010

Off the Charts: Accuracy in Reporting of Israel/Palestine – The New York Times,” If Americans Knew, 2005

Israel-Palestine on Record: How the New York Times Misreports Conflict in the Middle East,” Richard Falk, Howard Friel; ZNET Interview, May 31, 2007

The New York Times Marginalizes Palestinian Women and Palestinian Rights,” Electronic Intifada, Nov. 17, 2006

Does NYT’s Top Israel Reporter Have a Son in the IDF?” FAIR, January 27, 2010

Killing Palestinians doesn’t count: Is a ceasefire breached only when an Israeli is killed?” CounterPunch, January 29, 2009

Reigniting Violence: How Do Ceasefires End?” Huffington Post, January 6, 2009

Remember These Children

B’TSELEM – The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories

The Coverage–and Non-Coverage–of Israel-Palestine,” The Link, July-August 2005, Vol 38, Issue 3

Jewish journalists grapple with ‘doing the write thing’” Jewish Bulletin of Northern California, Nov. 23, 2001

Prisoner Swap Appears Near in the Mideast,” Ethan Bronner, New York times, Nov. 23, 2009

Political prisoners in Israel-Palestine,” If Americans Knew

Addameer Prisoners’ Support and Human Rights Association

Israel, Hamas in mutual gestures on prisoners,” Reuters, Sept. 30, 2009.

“Female soldiers break their silence,” YNET, Jan. 20, 2010 (According to its website, “Ynetnews is part of the prominent Yedioth Media Group, which publishes Yedioth Ahronoth – Israel’s most widely-read daily newspaper)

Testimonies of Israeli Female Soldiers Regarding Violations Against Palestinian Civilians,” International Middle East Media Center, January 30, 2010

BREAKING THE SILENCE: Women Soldiers’ Testimonies,” 136-page booklet by the Israeli Breaking the Silence organization


February 5, 2010 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Subjugation - Torture, War Crimes, Wars for Israel | Comments Off on NYT’s Israel Editor’s Sticky Situation

What CNN forgot to mention about ‘the Middle East’s only democracy’

By Ben White | Pulse Media | February 5, 2010

The following extracts are taken from an email update (4 Feb 2010) by Yeela Raanan for the Regional Council for the Unrecognized Villages in the Negev (they have a website here and a Wikipedia entry here):

On Tuesday this week the Government of Israel destroyed crops in the Bedouin village of Al-Mazraa. “Crops” hardly defines the one inch high wheat that the community has managed to grow in the desert land. The Bedouin farmers do not have water allocations like their Jewish counterparts, and are dependent on rain. The annual average is 2 inches of rain.. This year was a better year, but even on a good year the wheat does not grow tall enough to be harvested and is used as grazing for the sheep of the residents of this village – one of the poorest communities in Israel. But the government officials were not pleased that this year was blessed with rain – and re-plowed the land to make sure the meager crop will be destroyed. The excuse – the land is not owned by the residents of the village (the land is disputed land – historically belonging to the Bedouin, but the government claims it belongs to the state).  But the real reason is – they are Arabs. As Arabs – even though they are citizens of Israel – they are seen as our enemies.


The village of Twail Abu-Jarwal was destroyed completely three times. On October 26th, January 6th and again on January 21st.

In the village of El-Araqib homes have been demolished four times! On October 29th – two tents, on December 7th – 7 huts, on January 6th and 21st two huts each time.


In addition the Government of Israel demolished:

October 29th:           two homes in the village of A-Sir

A house in the village of Al-Matbakh.

On November 5th: a house in the village of Tla-Al-Rashid.

A house in the village of A-Sawa

A house in the village of Al-Baht.

A house in the village of Zaarura.

On December 7th: A house in the village of Um-El-Mileh.

A house in the recognized village of Um-Mitnan.

On January 6th:                   A house in El-Batal

A house in Hirbat A-Zbala

On February 2nd:    three shepherds’ shacks in the village of Al-Mazraa

A house in the recognized village of al-Foraa.

In each one of these homes a family lived, each family with a mom and children. And they still live in the same place, but their re-built shacks are shabbier, the life more miserable, and with a lot more resentment in their hearts…

February 5, 2010 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Subjugation - Torture | 4 Comments

‘NYT’ has had intimate connections to the Jewish state

By Philip Weiss | February 5, 2010

A friend pointed out to me that the speech that I reported on by the New York Times bureau chief in Jerusalem is evidence of the “bubble” that New York Times people live inside. They don’t like to go out of a bubble of assumptions about western culture/Jewishness/establishment status. That is what was so arresting about Times columnist Roger Cohen’s reporting last year; he dared to break out of the bubble. And the Times is hardly along: most American Jews were raised inside that bubble, and the challenge is to break out of its limited consciousness.

Reaching for my shelves here, here are a few of the close personal connections that have existed between the New York Times and the Jewish state:

1. Columnist C.L. Sulzberger wrote in his diaries, A Long Row of Candles, that he had personally received the Stern Gang’s threat to kill UN negotiator Folke Bernadotte in 1948 from “Two handsome, tall young fellows in khaki shorts” who knocked on his door in Tel Aviv. Sulzberger planned to pass the warning on to “Ben Gurion’s high muckamuck in secret service and dirty tricks.” Bernadotte was murdered two months later.

2. Max Frankel, former executive editor of the Times, wrote in his autobiography, “I was much more deeply devoted to Israel than I dared to assert. I had yearned for a Jewish homeland ever since learning as a child in Germany that in Palestine even the policemen were Jews!… I did indeed have many close Israeli friends, not only relatives and journalists but high officials, ranging from Yitzhak Rabin to [Labor official] Lova Eliav. That is why I well understood the full range of Israeli opinion on all of that country’s vital security issues.”

3. Frankel’s successor as executive editor, and protege, was Joseph Lelyveld, a liberal writer. Lelyveld’s father, the late Reform Rabbi Arthur Lelyveld, was president of the Zionist Organization of America and an active lobbyist for the Jewish state. He met with Harry Truman in 1948 shortly before Truman recognized Israel. Lelyveld also lobbied the New York Times, urging the owners to abandon their anti-Zionism. It’s not clear from Joseph Lelyveld’s memoir whether he was a Zionist…

4. Here is Palestinian doctor Ghada Karmi talking to Democracy Now a year ago about her family’s house in West Jerusalem that they were forced from during the Nakba. The New York Times comes in in the third paragraph; and you can see in Karmi’s story the institutional discomfort that the Times has with the Palestinian narrative:

I wanted to find the house. I looked for it desperately in the early 1990s, couldn’t find it, because I didn’t remember. My brother and my sister, who did remember, weren’t with me.

But then I tried again, and I did find it. And we went in. There was a Canadian Jewish family living in it, Orthodox, and they didn’t speak Hebrew. I didn’t speak Hebrew either, but I had an Israeli friend in case I couldn’t make myself understood. So, however, we needn’t have bothered, because they spoke English. And they went—they were very uncomfortable. They didn’t want me to look around. I said, “Can I look around? This was my home.” And they said, “It’s nothing to do with us. It’s nothing to do with us.” In fact, they were tenants. And I went around, but they hurried me out. I didn’t have much time to look around, to relive the memories, to get the feelings, the feelings back, because as a child, you know, it’s the feeling that comes back. You don’t really remember where that chair was, where that wall was, where that—you know. I had to leave, and it was terribly—as you can imagine, it was extremely upsetting.

But then a very strange thing happened. I returned to Palestine in 2005, where I worked in Ramallah for the Palestinian Authority. I wanted to live in Palestine for a while, and I had a visa, and I went in there to do work. I was working for the United Nations. And one day, I got a message from a man called Steven Erlanger, whom I had never met. I didn’t really know who he was, but of course I realized he was the bureau chief for the New York Times, saying “I have read your marvelous memoir, and, do you know, I think I’m living above your old house.” And it was amazing. He said, “From the description in your book, it must be the same place.” Anyway, we arranged to meet. I went over to Jerusalem, and I met him. And indeed, it was my house.

And what had happened was somebody at some point had built a story above the old house, which was of course a one-story place, a villa, typical of that kind of architecture. But somebody had built a floor above it, and that belonged to the New York Times. And the incumbent at the time was Steven Erlanger, who had been moved by the memoir and said, “This is your house?” And I said, “Yes, it is.” And he took me—I remember he took me—he had made friends with the people downstairs, who were not the Canadian Jewish family. They were somebody else. They were really quite nice people, Jewish, and—Israelis, in fact. And they—he told them, “Look, this lady used to live here.” And they said, “Please, come in.” And I had all the time in the world. I went around. I felt terribly sad. He took loads of photographs of me.

And actually, we talked, he and I. I said, “Look. Look at what’s happened. You’ve seen this—you’ve seen me. You know what happened here. How do you feel about Israel now?” And I couldn’t get him to say that what happened in 1948 was an iniquity and an injustice. He didn’t say anything like that. He remained diplomatic, I suppose you would say, noncommittal, very pleasant to me, but it was a very strange episode.


February 5, 2010 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | Comments Off on ‘NYT’ has had intimate connections to the Jewish state

AU criticizes ICC’s move against al-Bashir

Press TV – February 5, 2010

The African Union has criticized the International Criminal Court (ICC)’s decision to consider genocide charges against Sudanese President Umar al-Bashir.

The 53-nation bloc said the ICC’s decision will harm the peace process in Sudan. It also said “justice” shouldn’t be sought at the price of peace. This is after the ICC ordered a review of Bashir’s arrest warrant for alleged atrocities in Darfur.

Sudanese officials have denounced the ruling and described it as a politically-motivated move aimed at destabilizing the country. The indictment against al-Bashir already includes seven counts of crimes against humanity and war crimes allegedly committed in Sudan’s western Darfur region.

Sudan says the ICC move to charge al-Bashir is aimed at stopping democratic process in the African country.

This is the first time in history that an arrest warrant has been issued for a sitting president.

February 5, 2010 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering | Comments Off on AU criticizes ICC’s move against al-Bashir

Climate draft offers new support for nuclear power

By Jim Snyder | The Hill | 02-02-10

Climate change legislation being written by a Senate climate trio includes additional loan guarantees, tax breaks and a streamlined regulatory approval process to boost the nuclear energy industry.

A draft of the title, obtained by E2 Wire from an energy lobbyist, shows Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.), Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) are contemplating a series of incentives for nuclear power.

The language is the first to emerge from the behind-the-scenes talks the three have led in hopes of striking an accord on climate change to attract centrists.

A spokesman for Kerry said the language was not current but declined to say how it had changed. The draft title reflects themes that Kerry, Lieberman and Graham have already laid out.

President Barack Obama also called for additional support for the industry in his recent State of the Union address. His budget includes $54.5 billion in loan guarantees for the industry, tripling the $18 billion in authority Congress has already approved.

A summary of the draft title attached to the legislative text lists several nuclear incentives:

“Regulatory risk insurance to increase investor confidence and minimize the financial risks associated with prolonged regulatory delays,

Accelerated depreciation for nuclear plants;

Investment tax credits to create parity with the benefits enjoyed by wind and solar power; and

A doubling the authorization for loan guarantees from $48.5 billion to $100 billion, of which $38 billion will be available for nuclear plants.”

Kerry confirmed that tax incentives and loan guarantees are part of the nuclear section.

“We have made huge progress on it and I think we have a terrific title,” he told reporters in the Capitol Tuesday.

Kerry said the distribution of the draft titles has been limited.

“We have not circulated any component of this widely because we are trying to tie all the pieces together before we start having any kind of dissection,” he said.

Kerry said there has also been progress on titles addressing renewable and alternative energy, natural gas and offsets.

He added that the lawmakers are still determining their exact mechanism for putting a price on carbon emissions.

Other provisions include support for worker retraining program to respond to concerns that “an aging nuclear workforce is on the brink of retirement,” according to the summary.

See also:

Nuclear energy firms seek more than loan guarantees for revival

Ben Geman contributed to this post.

February 5, 2010 Posted by | Corruption, Environmentalism | Comments Off on Climate draft offers new support for nuclear power