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Quebec police arrest 19 protesting students as classes resume

Press TV – August 28, 2012

Canadian police have stormed the University of Quebec making 19 arrests, as angry students prevent the beginning of the new semester.

Police arrested 19 students Monday under the terms of Bill 78, which ordered a suspension of university classes back in May and their reinstatement in August even if the students planed to continue their strike. The bill also restricts the student demonstrations and imposes fines for those who impeded classes, starting at CAD 1,000.

The classes were supposed to resume this week, as the winter semester was suspended following massive months-long protests across Canada’s French-speaking province against proposed tuition fee hikes.

Some 2,000 students at the departments of anthropology and cinema voted to continue their protest and prevented the start of classes.

The recent protest comes ahead of next week’s provincial election, which will decide whether the province’s ruling Liberal Party, which insists on a plan to increase tuition fees by 82 percent, could be reelected.

The latest opinion poll shows that the separatist Parti Quebecois (PQ) led by Pauline Marois heading for a victory in the election to be held on September 4th. Marois is the protester’s favorite candidate and has been wearing the red square, the symbol of the demonstrators’ cause, on several public occasions.

If the separatist PQ is elected in the upcoming provincial election, it will consider holding a referendum on separation of Quebec from Canada.

Since February, students have been protesting against the hikes and the provincial government’s controversial anti-protest Bill 78. The protests later turned into a larger movement dubbed the “maple revolution,” which reveals deeper social unrest.

August 28, 2012 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Economics, Solidarity and Activism | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mubarak era tycoons join Egypt President in China

Several of the businessmen who travelled with Morsi to China were prominent supporters of Mubarak and former members of the NDP

Ahram Online | August 28, 2012

A delegation of Egyptian businessmen who travelled to China on Monday, one day before the visit of Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, was made up of many figures who were close to the former regime of Hosni Mubarak, and who were members of Mubarak’s now-dissolved National Democratic Party (NDP).

In his first state visit outside of the Arab world, Egypt’s president headed a delegation of seven ministers and 80 businessmen to China.

One the most prominent NDP figures who was invited to accompany the new president was Mohamed Farid Khamis, chairman of the Oriental Weavers Company, one of the world’s largest carpet companies. Khamis was member of the political bureau of the NDP and a member of parliament.

Another prominent name is Sherif El-Gabaly, chairman of Polyserve Fertilisers and Chemical Group, and a member of the administration of the Egyptian Federation of Industries, who was also a member of the political bureau and was known to be close to Gamal Mubarak, son of the former president.

Other members of the NDP present in the delegation included Khaled Abul-Makarem chairman of Fibertex, Walid Hela vice president of heavyweight plastic producers Al-Helal wel Negma and Farid El-Tobgui chairman of Bavarian group.

Hassan Malek, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood and a well-known businessman, heads the delegation and is responsible for the choice of members. Malek, president of a committee for communication between businessmen and the presidency, told Ikhwan Online, the official website of the Muslim Brotherhood, that the group was comprised of businessmen who had existing business ties with China.

The delegation also included some businessmen who have close ties with the Brotherhood, such as Ahmed El-Sewedy, chairman of El-Sewedy Electrics and Abdel-Rahman Samir El-Naggar, chairman of Daltex Food Industries.

August 28, 2012 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , | Leave a comment

Is the US really going to withdraw from Afghanistan?

By Boris Volkhonsky | The Voice of Russia | August 27, 2012

On Sunday, as reported by Reuters, a senior US logistics commander in charge of transferring excess non-military equipment to Afghan forces Brigadier-General Steven Shapiro rejected accusations from front line combat troops that the complicated rollback from bases across Afghanistan was disrupting NATO-led operations against insurgents.

He said that around 400 bases had been already successfully closed or handed to Afghan security forces from a high of around 800 last October as part of a withdrawal of foreign troops from combat operations winding up in 2014.

The story goes on to say that the pullout of more than $60 billion worth of war-fighting equipment from Afghanistan is expected to be one of the most complicated logistical exercises in recent history, much more difficult than the pullout from Iraq.

By September the US administration is planning to cut the number of the US troops by 28,000 servicemen, which is regarded as a major PR action ahead of November presidential elections.

All this hardly makes the US servicemen remaining in Afghanistan too happy.

“It’s a nightmare. We barely have enough guys to cover our area, let alone get ready to pack up,” a US officer recently told Reuters in volatile eastern Kunar province.

Indeed, the whole situation poses too many questions, for most of which there are no ready answers.

First, the only visible result of the already started pullout process is the increasing number of defections among Afghan military and security force, and correspondingly – a growing number of insider (so called “green-on-blue”) attacks by people clad in Afghan uniform on NATO soldiers.

The diminishing number of Western troops is likely to encourage Afghans trained and equipped by their mentors to turn the arms, even more frequently, against their former patrons.

Second, all military – combat and non-combat – equipment has been accumulated in Afghanistan for more than two years. Now the task is to withdraw it in less than two years. The task itself seems unrealistic, especially with the strained relationship between the US and Pakistan – the only country capable of providing the shortest way for the pullout.

Despite the fact that recently Pakistan agreed to reopen the southern supply route for NATO forces in Afghanistan, even the present Pakistani leadership is under constant pressure from the society and political parties in order to reassess the relationship with the US. And taking into consideration that no later than 2013 the current leadership is more than likely to lose power, the prospects for a much more anti-American forces leadership to prevail is more than real. This will definitely pose additional difficulties for the NATO command.

This leaves few options open. One of them is using the northern route via Central Asia and Russia, which is much more expensive and not likely to make most of the transit countries happy. The other implies leaving most of the equipment at the Afghans’ disposal. But this variant is fraught with the risks that the equipment and arms will be used by those very forces the US is taking so much pain to fight.

Taking all these factors into consideration, one may easily come to a conclusion that whatever is explicitly said about the US plans concerning Afghanistan hardly reflects the truth.

And the truth is that the 400 bases allegedly “closed or handed to Afghan security forces” are small combat outposts and observation positions of minor importance. The big ones, like Shindand air base in Herat province (in close vicinity to Iran), or Kandahar and Bagram air bases remain basically untouched. And there is all reason to believe that the highly publicized pullout does not concern these major installations which play a crucial role in the US strategy of establishing its dominance in the “Greater Middle East” enabling American military to control a vast territory far beyond Afghanistan.

This also explains why both contenders in the US presidential race keep mum on the issue of Afghanistan. In reality, neither Barack Obama nor Mitt Romney is going to fulfill Obama’s imprudent promise to withdraw from Afghanistan. However unpopular the war might be, the role of the global gendarme is much more important than the public opinion.

August 28, 2012 Posted by | Deception, Illegal Occupation, Militarism, Progressive Hypocrite, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

International Solidarity Movement’s response to the Rachel Corrie verdict

ISM | August 28, 2012

The International Solidarity Movement (ISM) is deeply concerned by the verdict of Judge Oded Gershon that absolved Israel’s military and state of the 2003 murder of American ISM activist Rachel Corrie. Rachel was crushed to death by an Israeli army bulldozer while protesting the demolition of a Palestinian home in the Gaza Strip.

Despite the American administration stating that the Israeli military investigation had not been “thorough, credible and transparent” and the Israeli government withholding key video and audio evidence, Judge Gershon found no fault in the investigation or in the conclusion that the military and state were not responsible for Rachel’s death. Judge Gershon ruled that Rachel was to blame for her own murder and classifies her non-violent attempt to prevent war crimes as proof that Rachel was not a “thinking person”.

By disregarding international law and granting Israeli war criminals impunity Judge Gershon’s verdict exemplifies the fact that Israel’s legal system cannot be trusted to administer justice according to international standards. The ISM calls on the international community to hold Israel accountable by supporting the Palestinian call for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) and continuing to join the Palestinian struggle in the occupied Palestinian territories.

Describing the situation in Gaza 2 days before she was killed, Rachel said, “I’m witnessing the systematic destruction of a people’s ability to survive. It’s horrifying.” Rachel’s analysis holds true today, confirmed by the United Nations a day before this ruling, which reported that Gaza would not be “liveable” by 2020 barring urgent action.

The verdict is a green light for Israeli soldiers to use lethal force against human rights defenders and puts Palestinian and International human rights defenders in mortal danger.

This will not deter us. As long as our Palestinian sisters and brothers want our presence, the ISM will continue to find ways to break Israel’s siege, and stand in solidarity with the Palestinian people. As Rachel’s mother Cindy put it, “There were children behind the walls of the home Rachel was trying to protect… We should have all been there”.

Judge Gershon’s verdict is a travesty of justice but it is not exceptional. As a rule the Israeli legal system provides Israeli soldiers impunity to commit murder. The only Israeli soldier convicted of manslaughter since the outbreak of the second Intifada in 2000 was Taysir Hayb, a Bedouin citizen of Israel for shooting British ISM volunteer Tom Hurndall in the back of the head with a sniper rifle as Tom was carrying a child to safety. At least 6,444 Palestinians have been killed by the Israeli occupation forces in this period, with no justice for them or their families.

For more information Contact: Aide Mormech 059228094 or Huwaida Arraf 0598336215

August 28, 2012 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Colombia and FARC ready for peace talks with support from Cuba and Norway

NNN-MERCOPRESS | August 28, 2012

BOGOTA – Colombia’s government will soon begin talks that could lead to formal negotiations for peace with the country’s biggest guerrilla group, known as the FARC, according to a Colombian intelligence source.

As part of the deal to hold talks, the government has agreed that leaders of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia would not be extradited to another country to stand trial, he said.

One aide at President Juan Manuel Santos’ office has flatly denied that any talks are taking place, but a second aide said only that any official word on peace dealings would come from Santos himself.

Details of the accord are still being worked out, but the negotiations could take place in Cuba and in Norway, the source said.

However from Caracas the editor in chief of Telesur, the Venezuelan television news channel, Jorge Botero said that secret talks date back to May in Havana with the attendance of unofficial delegates from Colombia, plus representatives from Venezuela, Cuba and Norway.

“Formal dialogue is anticipated for next October in Oslo”, said Botero. He added that from Norway representatives from the Colombian government and FARC will then travel to Havana where “they will sit to negotiate and won’t leave the table until a peace deal is reached”.

A year ago the head of FARC Alfonso Cano announced that the guerrilla was ready for talks to end the half a century Colombian internal war.

News of the peace talks is likely to anger Santos’ predecessor Alvaro Uribe who has criticised any idea of talks with the rebels and has slammed Santos for wanting “peace at any cost.”

The originally Marxist oriented FARC but now financed by drugs and which calls itself “the people’s army” defending peasant rights, has battled about a dozen administrations since surfacing in 1964, when its founder Manuel Marulanda and 48 rebels took to jungle hide-outs triggering an internal conflict involving Colombian forces and thousands of recruited guerrillas.

The group has faced its toughest defeats in recent years as US-trained special forces use sophisticated technology and spy networks to track the leaders.

The FARC string of defeats began in 2008 with a cross-border military raid into Ecuador that killed Raul Reyes its second in command. Marulanda died of a heart attack weeks later and was replaced by Alfonso Cano, who was later killed too.

August 28, 2012 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , | Leave a comment

NAM Agrees on 688 Articles of Draft Statement: Sanctions, Palestine on Top

Al-Manar | August 28, 2012

As preliminary meetings of the 16th Summit of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) continue in Tehran, participants reached an early agreement on 688 articles of the Summit’s draft closing statement.

Condemnation of “unilateral” actions — particularly sanctions on Iran and other nations — and a demand for a greater say in UN decision-making dominated NAM talks on Tuesday preparing for a Non-Aligned summit later this week.

Foreign ministers from NAM states were holding two days of discussions to prepare the ground for the summit, which will gather dozens of heads of state and government on Thursday and Friday.

According to the Agence France Presse, other issues to be covered included a call for the creation of a Palestinian state based on 1967 borders, and an appeal for nuclear disarmament, particularly in the Middle East, as a path to world peace, according to draft documents before the ministers.

Combating terrorism, and upholding human rights and development were also included.

A working document made available on Iran’s official NAM website said one of the general principles being upheld was strengthening solidarity with NAM members “living under colonial or alien domination or foreign occupation, and with those experiencing external threats of use of force, acts of aggression or unilateral coercive measures.”

Elsewhere, it called on members to refuse to follow “unilateral economic sanctions” on NAM states.

More than 50 foreign ministers were involved in the discussions, according to Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast. They were building on work done in the two preceding days by lower-ranking officials and experts.

Tehran’s summit is seen as a blow to US-led efforts to isolate it internationally.

The NAM is a 120-member organization founded in 1961, at the height of the Cold War, by nations considering themselves independent of the US-led Western bloc or the then-Soviet Union. It represents nearly two-thirds of the UN’s 193 member states, accounting for much of the developing world.

Overall, the NAM seeks greater accountability from the UN Security Council and a greater weight for the UN General Assembly — where it is strongly represented — in making global decisions.

UN chief Ban Ki-moon will be attending the Tehran summit, in a customary observer role, despite criticism from the United States and the Zionist entity.

August 28, 2012 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Militarism, Solidarity and Activism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Syria FM Moallem: US Major Player in Syria Crisis, Other Countries Instruments

Al-Manar | August 28, 2012

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem stressed that the United States is the major player in the ongoing crisis in the country, adding that the other countries are instruments.

“We believe that the US is the major player against Syria and the rest are its instruments,” al-Moallem told The Independent.

The daily quoted Moallem as saying that America was behind Syria’s violence.

“When the Americans say, ‘We are supplying the opposition with sophisticated instruments of telecommunications’, isn’t this part of a military effort, when they supply the opposition with $25m – and much more from the Gulf and Saudi Arabia?”

Addressing the US, the Syrian FM said: ‘You must read well what you did in Afghanistan and Somalia. I don’t understand your slogan of fighting international terrorism when you are supporting this terrorism in Syria’.”

“I tell the Europeans: ‘I don’t understand your slogan about the welfare of the Syrian people when you are supporting 17 resolutions against the welfare of the Syrian people,” Moallem addressed the European states.

As he stressed that about 60 percent of the violence going on in the country was from abroad, al-Moallem said: “Before I am a minister, I am a Syrian citizen, and I feel sad at seeing what’s happening in Syria, compared with two years ago.”

“There are many Syrians like me – eager to see Syria return to the old days when we were proud of our security,” he added.

The Independent reporter told the Syrian FM that the Emir of Qatar was enraged last year at what he called President Bashar al-Assad’s “lies”, claiming that the Syrian President had reneged on a deal to allow Muslim Brotherhood members to return home.

On this issue, Moallem said: “If you met the same Emir two years ago, he was praising Assad, and considered him a dear friend. They used to have family relations, spending family holidays in Damascus and sometimes in Doha. There is an important question: what happened? I met the Emir in Doha in, I think, November 2011, when the Arab League started their initiative [resulting in the sending of League observers to Syria] and we reached agreement … The Emir told me: ‘If you agree to this initiative, I will change the attitude of Al Jazeera and I will tell [Sheikh] Qaradawi [a popular prelate with a regular slot on the television chain] to support Syria and reconciliation, and I have put down some billions of dollars to rebuild Syria…’ .”

“At the same time, when I was waiting to enter a meeting, there was the head of the Tunisian party Ennahda and the Emir issued orders to pay Ennahda $150m to help his party in the elections. Anyway, this was their business. But I asked the Emir: ‘You were having very close relations with Muammar Gaddafi and you were the only leader in his palace when Gaddafi hosted you during the summit – so why are you sending your aircraft to attack Libya and be part of Nato?’ The Emir said simply: ‘Because we don’t want to lose our momentum in Tunis and Egypt – and Gaddafi was responsible for dividing Sudan’,” Moallem added.

On the relation between Syria, Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas, the Syrian FM said: “We were told by some Western envoy at the beginning of this crisis that relations between Syria and Iran, Syria and Hezbollah, Syria and Hamas are the major elements behind this crisis. If we settle this issue, they [the Americans] will help end the crisis. But no one told us why it is forbidden for Syria to have relations with Iran when most if not all the Gulf countries have very important relations with Iran.”

When asked about chemical weapons, Moallem said if Syria had such weapons, they would never be used against its own people.

“We are fighting armed groups inside Aleppo, in the Damascus suburbs, before that in Homs and Idlib and this means fighting within Syrian cities – and our responsibility is to protect our people,” he said.

August 28, 2012 Posted by | Corruption, Wars for Israel | , , , , | Leave a comment