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Can Cheryle Jackson End the War in Afghanistan?

Add Illinois to Pennsylvania as states where there is a contested Senate primary in which the war in Afghanistan has become an issue. The Chicago Tribune reports that the two leading contenders for the Democratic nomination for Barack Obama's former seat in the Senate have staked out diametrically opposed positions.

A Tribune poll last month reported that Alexi Giannoulias and Cheryle Jackson were the leading contenders for the Democratic nomination.

On Afghanistan, the Tribune reports that Cheryle Jackson wants to end the war, while Giannoulias supports it:

"It is time to take care of America again and time to bring our troops home," said Democratic Senate contender Cheryle Jackson, a former president of the Chicago Urban League. "Until we stop spending hundreds of billions on wars, we will not have the focus or money to solve the challenges we face at home."

[...]

But first-term state Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias, a Democrat, said he fully supported Obama's strategy for Afghanistan and indicated that those who oppose it are engaging in wishful thinking.

Indeed, Cheryle Jackson's first TV ad takes direct aim at the wars - "It's time to leave Afghanistan and Iraq":

JFP 1/11: Taliban Engage in "Vaccination Diplomacy"

Just Foreign Policy News
January 11, 2010

Linda Milazzo: Waxman Attacks Winograd on Israel
Seeking to help Rep. Jane Harman's re-election bid, Rep. Henry Waxman calls her challenger Marcy Winograd's support for Palestinian rights "repugnant in the extreme."
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/linda-milazzo/waxman-attacks-winograd-o_b_417941.html

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1) Mullah Omar's Afghan Taliban are cooperating with the Afghan government and UN agencies to eradicate polio in Afghanistan, the Wall Street Journal reports. Government vaccination workers in Taliban-controlled areas carry a letter from Mullah Omar urging people to cooperate. The letter was obtained by the Red Cross following a request from the UN; Taliban endorsment has enabled vaccinators to reach previously out of reach areas and remain in areas of heavy fighting. Convervative Muslim opposition to anti-polio campaings are a key reason the disease persists in India, Pakistan, and Nigeria, the Journal notes. Eliminating polio in the remaining four endemic countries - a top U.N. priority - would eventually render it unnecessary to vaccinate hundreds of millions of children elsewhere every year.

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JFP 1/8: Paraguay abolishes public health user fees

Just Foreign Policy News
January 8, 2010

Mondoweiss: Israeli television confrontation is 'metaphor of the moral crisis' in Israel
A video clip of a contfontation between an Israeli television interviewer and a Palestinian Member of the Israeli Knesset is making the rounds of the internet.
http://mondoweiss.net/2010/01/israeli-television-confrontation-is-a-metaphor-of-the-moral-crisis-in-which-zionism-is-found-today.html

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1) Retired Gen. Barry McCaffrey says Americans should prepare to accept hundreds of U.S. casualties each month in Afghanistan, Army Times reports. McCaffrey predicts up to 500 casualties per month, as the winter thaw permits enemy and coalition forces to launch their respective offensives.

2) The wife of a Jordanian doctor who killed seven CIA employees in a suicide attack in Afghanistan says her husband was outraged over the treatment of Iraqis at Abu Ghraib prison and the U.S.-led invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, AP reports.

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Gaza Freedom March: What We Accomplished

Cairo - Some of us reached Gaza and participated in the Gaza Freedom March as planned. Some of us traveled via Israel to the Israeli border with Gaza and protested the blockade on Gaza alongside Israelis. All of us significantly raised the profile of dissent - particularly, American dissent - against the blockade of the people of Gaza imposed by Israel and Egypt, with the backing of the United States and the acquiescence of Europe. The groundwork is being laid for future campaigning in the U.S. for "citizen sanctions" against the Israeli government that could help change the balance of forces influencing U.S. policy, so that U.S. policy becomes a force for peace, rather than continuing to perpetuate the Israel/Palestine conflict as the U.S. is doing today.

The New York Times (yes, the New York Times had two articles on the march) reported:

Hundreds of demonstrators gathered on both sides of the Israeli-Gazan border on Thursday to mark a year since Israel's three-week war in Gaza, and to call for an end to the blockade of the area imposed by Israel and Egypt. About 85 of the several hundred demonstrators inside Gaza were foreigners, part of a group of more than 1,000 who arrived in Cairo in hopes of entering the territory but who were stopped by the Egyptian authorities. After days of negotiation, Egypt permitted a small delegation to cross the normally closed border at the southern Gazan city of Rafah.

Hundreds of us - confined to Cairo - protested against the Israeli/Egyptian blockade where we were. Our protests in Cairo were front-page news in the Egyptian press - and were reported in the U.S. as well.

The Christian Science Monitor reported:

Under International Pressure, Egypt Yields Ground to Gaza Freedom March

Cairo - Twelve hours before this writing, it appeared that 50,000 Palestinians in Gaza planning to march to the Erez border crossing with Israel on Thursday in protest of the continuing blockade on Gaza might not be accompanied by any of the 1400 internationals who had come to Egypt planning to join the Gaza Freedom March.

But on Tuesday Egypt agreed to let 100 of the 1400 marchers depart for Gaza Wednesday morning. This came as just the story of the Egyptian government crackdown on largely Western peace activists was starting to spill from the Arab media and European media into the US press.

Egypt's partial concession means that 50,000 Palestinian marchers will have 100 companions representing some 40 countries to act as a deterrent against Israeli government violence - and to help get the story out about Gazans nonviolently protesting the blockade.

Egypt's concession leaves 1300 of us here in Cairo to continue to press the case on the Egyptian government - together with many sympathetic Egyptians - that Egypt should cease supporting the U.S.-Israeli blockade on Gaza.

Egypt Blocks Americans from Gaza March, Stops Aid Convoy

Cairo - The government of Egypt is taking a spectacularly hard line against international solidarity efforts in support of civilians in Gaza on the one-year anniversary of the Israeli invasion, blocking peace marchers from the U.S., Canada, and Europe from even approaching the Egyptian border with Gaza and blocking an aid convoy that has the support of the Turkish government from entering Egypt at Nuweiba. Even a peaceful protest at UN offices in Cairo was largely walled off from public view by Egyptian police.

It seems that any pretense of Egyptian government concern for the suffering of Palestinian civilians has been dropped, along with the pretense that there is anything less than 100% cooperation from Egypt and its US and European patrons with Israel's program of punishing Gaza's population for the political crime of having provided majority support to the Hamas movement in a legislative election.

Meanwhile there is largely a U.S. press blackout of these striking developments. A search of the New York Times and the Washington Post only turns up a tiny AP story on the websites of the Times and the Post.

As has frequently been the case, Agence France-Presse [AFP] pays more attention to these developments. On Monday, AFP reports that Hedy Epstein and other members of the Gaza Freedom March have begun a hunger strike to press the Egyptian government to allow them to enter Gaza:

JFP 12/23: Rep. Waters Demands Explanation for Exclusions from Haitian Elections

Just Foreign Policy News
December 23, 2009


Just Foreign Policy News on Break Until January 6
The editor of the JFP News is going to Gaza for the Gaza Freedom March - if the Egyptians let us in.
[The Egyptian government has announced that it will not allow internationals to enter Gaza. Write the Egyptian Embassy in Washington and ask them to reverse the decision:
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/act/gaza-march]

If Egypt does not let us enter Gaza, we will protest the blockade from the Egyptian side of the border. In either event, you can follow our progress by blog here:
http://bit.ly/naiman_gfm and by Twitter here: @naiman.

If you value the Just Foreign Policy News, please make an end-of year donation to Just Foreign Policy:
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/donate.html

Rep. Waters Demands Explanation of Exclusions from Haiti Election
Congresswoman Maxine Waters sent a letter to Haitian President Rene Preval today - copied to Secretary of State Clinton - to express her concerns about the the arbitrary exclusion of political parties from the upcoming elections in Haiti.
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/node/439

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U.S./Top News

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Rep. Waters Voices Concern Over Exclusions from Haiti Election

Congresswoman Maxine Waters sent a letter to Haitian President Rene Preval today - copied to Secretary of State Clinton - to express her concerns about the the arbitrary exclusion of political parties from the upcoming elections in Haiti. The text of the letter is below; the PDF is here.

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December 23, 2009

His Excellency René Préval
President of Haiti
c/o Embassy of Haiti
2311 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20008

Your Excellency:

I am writing to express my concerns about the decision of Haiti’s Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) to exclude more than a dozen political parties from the Parliamentary elections scheduled for February and March 2010. I am concerned that these exclusions would violate the right of Haitian citizens to vote in free and fair elections and that it would be a significant setback to Haiti’s democratic development.

As you know, I have a longstanding commitment to supporting democracy and development in Haiti. I led efforts in the United States Congress to obtain debt cancellation for Haiti. These efforts culminated in the World Bank’s announcement last June that Haiti reached the “completion point” for the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative and would receive complete cancellation of its multilateral debts. I am also working to increase United States bilateral assistance to Haiti.

It is imperative that Haiti’s next elections be free and fair and that they be perceived as free and fair. Political parties should not be excluded from an election without a legally compelling reason, determined through a transparent, impartial process.

JFP 12/22: Afghanistan Divides Illinois Senate Primary

Just Foreign Policy News
December 22, 2009


Egypt Says It Will Block International Gaza Freedom Marchers
The Egyptian government has announced that it will not allow internationals to enter Gaza for the Gaza Freedom March (in which Just Foreign Policy is participating.) Write the Egyptian Embassy in Washington and ask them to reverse the decision.
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/act/gaza-march

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JFP 12/21: Egypt Says It Will Block International Gaza Freedom Marchers

Just Foreign Policy News
December 21, 2009


Egypt Says It Will Block International Gaza Freedom Marchers
The Egyptian government has announced that it will not allow internationals to enter Gaza for the Gaza Freedom March (in which Just Foreign Policy is participating.) Write the Egyptian Embassy in Washington and ask them to reverse the decision.
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/node/436

Quixote Center: Contact State on Escalating Human Rights Abuses in Honduras

There has been a spike in targeted murders and abductions following the November 29th "electoral event" in Honduras, the Quixote Center reports. Call Secretary of State Clinton and register your alarm at the escalation of human rights violations in Honduras.
http://www.quixote.org/urgent-action-alert-honduras

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U.S./Top News

1) The U.S. military launched cruise missiles early Thursday against two suspected al-Qaeda sites in Yemen, ABC News reports. Until Friday, U.S. officials had "hedged" about any U.S. role in the strikes against Yemen and news reports from Yemen attributed the attacks to the Yemen Air Force, ABC says.

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