JFP 8/25: Clyburn: Super Committee Deal Will Include Ending the Wars

Just Foreign Policy News
August 25, 2011

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I) Actions and Featured Articles

Ending Wars on Time Would Save $200 Billion, One-Sixth of Debt Reduction Goal

Compared to what the Pentagon wants to do - 25,000 troops in Afghanistan and 10,000 troops in Iraq forever - zero troops in Afghanistan after 2014 would save $120 billion, and zero troops in Iraq after December of this year would save $80 billion, by 2021. That's one-sixth of the Super Committee's debt reduction goal, and that's in addition to the savings from cutting the base military budget by a trillion dollars over ten years, half of the Super Committee's goal. Thus, 2/3 of the debt reduction can come just from cutting the military budget and withdrawing our troops from Iraq and Afghanistan when we said we were going to.
http://www.truth-out.org/ending-wars-time-would-save-200-billion-one-sixth-debt-reduction-goal/1314194678

*Take Action: "Super Committee" Should Cut the War Budget

Representative Lynn Woolsey is circulating a letter to the Super Committee calling on them to zero out future spending on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq as part of the debt deal. Urge your Rep. to sign on.
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/act/woolseyletter

Partial Lists of Congressional Town Halls
Urge your reps. to cut the base military budget by a trillion and end the wars as part of the debt deal. [Note: these lists of "town halls" are incomplete.]
http://www.narfe.org/pdf/CongressionalTownHallMeetings.pdf
http://nolabels.org/blog/60-congress-not-holding-town-halls

Friends of the Earth: Taking "Green Scissors" to budget would yield $380 billion in savings
"Green Scissors 2011" - provides a roadmap to saving up to $380 billion over five years by curbing wasteful spending that harms the environment. That amounts to a full quarter of the savings the new congressional Super Committee has been charged with obtaining.
http://www.foe.org/taking-green-scissors-budget-yield-380-billion-savings

Juan Cole: How to Avoid Turning Libya into Iraq
No Western troops, no wholesale purge of the bureaucracy, no rush to privatization.
http://www.juancole.com/2011/08/how-to-avoid-bushs-iraq-mistakes-in-libya.html

National Priorities Project: New Numbers on the Cost of War
http://costofwar.com/en/publications/2011/ten-years-after-911/

Help Support Our Advocacy for Peace and Diplomacy

The opponents of peace and diplomacy work every day. Help us be an effective counterweight.
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II) Summary:
U.S./Top News
1) The scramble to secure access to Libya's oil wealth has already begun, the New York Times reports. The resumption of Libyan production would help drive down oil prices in Europe, and indirectly, gasoline prices on the East Coast of the U.S. NATO countries that provided crucial air support to the rebels want to make sure their companies are in prime position to pump the Libyan crude. The rebels suggested that they would remember their friends and foes and negotiate deals accordingly.

Colonel Qaddafi proved to be a problematic partner for international oil companies, frequently raising fees and taxes and making other demands, the Times says. A new government with close ties to NATO may be an easier partner for Western nations to deal with. Some experts say that given a free hand, oil companies could find considerably more oil in Libya than they were able to locate under the restrictions placed by the Qaddafi government.

2) Rep. Jim Clyburn, one of the Super Committee's six Democrats, said new revenues in the debt deal would come from ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Politico reports.

3) Recently Wikileaked cables from the U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince spell out MINUSTAH's importance to the U.S. government in a more direct fashion than probably any previously released documents, CEPR reports. A 2008 cable acknowledges "perceptions" in Latin American countries with troops in MINUSTAH that "Haitians see their presence in Haiti as unwanted," and notes domestic opposition in the contributing countries to participation. The cable celebrates MINUSTAH as "the country's ultimate riot control force," but acknowledges that MINUSTAH participation in "humanitarian" actions is more useful in overcoming domestic opposition than "riot control."

4) Mitchell Reiss, a foreign policy advisor to Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, has played a leading role in a campaign to get the MEK removed from the State Department's list of foreign terrorist organizations organization, Salon reports. Romney has not taken a public position on the MEK, but he has spoken about Iran in aggressive terms, Salon says. The fact that other prominent members of this campaign have received tens of thousands of dollars for their pro-MEK advocacy raises the question of what, if anything, Reiss -- an advisor to a major presidential candidate -- has been paid for his MEK advocacy, and where that money is coming from, Salon says.

5) The heads of the nation's largest environmental organizations released a letter calling on President Obama to block the Keystone XL oil pipeline, Tar Sands Action reports. "There is not an inch of daylight between our policy position on the Keystone XL pipeline, and those of the protesters being arrested daily outside the White House," the leaders wrote. The leaders of the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Sierra Club, the Environmental Defense Fund, the National Wildlife Federation, Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, and the Rainforest Action Network also made it clear they counted on President Obama to take decisive action to block the pipeline.

Libya
6) Libya's rebel government envoy to the Arab League said his country will not allow NATO bases in Libya, AFP reports. "There will be no non-Libyan bases," he said.

Israel/Palestine
7) Al Jazeera asked a number of Palestinians in Gaza for their reactions to recent Israeli military attacks. Several cited Israeli government efforts to thwart the Palestinian bid for independence at the UN, as well Israeli government efforts to quiet protests in Israel against economic conditions, as Israeli government motivations for the attacks. One laborer argued that rockets fired from Gaza don't help the Palestinian cause, because they only target poor and marginalized Israelis whom the Israeli government doesn't care about anyway.

Afghanistan
8) About $29 billion has been spent on the Afghan police since the Taliban were ousted in late 2001, with more to come, Reuters reports. But ordinary Afghans are intimidated by the force, which has high levels of drug abuse and desertion. Three in five see the police as corrupt, more than a quarter have personally seen a policeman use narcotics, and more than half think filing a complaint about police misdeeds would have no effect on the situation or make it worse, according to a U.N. survey from late last year.

Nearly 200 policemen were accused of murder in cases sent to the attorney general in Kabul in the year that began March 2010, said Lieutenant General Mohammad Rahim Hanifi, head of the top prosecutor's Statistics and Analysis department. Police are also suspected of carrying out gang rapes, but arresting the offenders falls to their colleagues, who often just ignore the cases, or intimidate those seeking justice, Hanifi said.

Colombia
9) The CUT labor federation said an official of a union representing university employees in the northwestern Colombian province of Cordoba was murdered, EFE reports. Demanding a prompt investigation of the murder, the CUT called on the Colombian government to adopt measures ensuring "the free exercise of labor and union activity." Colombia is the world's most dangerous country for labor organizers.

El Salvador
10) Federal officials charged that the former Salvadoran government minister accused of colluding in the infamous killing of six Jesuit priests in El Salvador 20 years ago engaged in immigration fraud while living in Massachusetts, the Boston Globe reports. Inocente Orlando Montano has been indicted in Spain for his alleged role in the killings. Montano was not taken into custody for the Spanish indictments. Instead, he was arrested on charges of lying on immigration documents, when he wrote that he never served in the Salvadoran military.

Peru
11) Peru's Congress unanimously approved a bill to require companies to consult with native communities before building mines or drilling for oil, Reuters reports. The consultation law would put Peru in compliance with a U.N. convention on indigenous peoples it signed in 1989. Indigenous communities have long advocated for the consultation law and many of them voted for President Humala, Reuters says. Former President Garcia vetoed a similar bill that the previous Congress passed in May 2010.

Contents:
U.S./Top News
1) The Scramble for Access to Libya's Oil Wealth Begins
Clifford Krauss, New York Times, August 22, 2011
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/23/business/global/the-scramble-for-access-to-libyas-oil-wealth-begins.html

Houston - The fighting is not yet over in Tripoli, but the scramble to secure access to Libya's oil wealth has already begun.

Before the rebellion broke out in February, Libya exported 1.3 million barrels of oil a day. While that is less than 2 percent of world supplies, only a few other countries can supply equivalent grades of the sweet crude oil that many refineries around the world depend on. The resumption of Libyan production would help drive down oil prices in Europe, and indirectly, gasoline prices on the East Coast of the United States.

Western nations - especially the NATO countries that provided crucial air support to the rebels - want to make sure their companies are in prime position to pump the Libyan crude.

Foreign Minister Franco Frattini of Italy said on state television on Monday that the Italian oil company Eni "will have a No. 1 role in the future" in the North African country. Mr. Frattini even reported that Eni technicians were already on their way to eastern Libya to restart production. (Eni quickly denied that it had sent any personnel to the still-unsettled region, which is Italy's largest source of imported oil.)

Libyan production has been largely shut down during the long conflict between rebel forces and troops loyal to Libya's leader, Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi.

Eni, with BP of Britain, Total of France, Repsol YPF of Spain and OMV of Austria, were all big producers in Libya before the fighting broke out, and they stand to gain the most once the conflict ends. American companies like Hess, ConocoPhillips and Marathon also made deals with the Qaddafi regime, although the United States relies on Libya for less than 1 percent of its imports.

But it is unclear whether a rebel government would honor the contracts struck by the Qaddafi regime or what approach it would take in negotiating new production-sharing agreements with companies willing to invest in established oil fields and explore for new ones.

Even before taking power, the rebels suggested that they would remember their friends and foes and negotiate deals accordingly.

"We don't have a problem with Western countries like Italians, French and U.K. companies," Abdeljalil Mayouf, a spokesman for the Libyan rebel oil company Agoco, was quoted by Reuters as saying. "But we may have some political issues with Russia, China and Brazil."

The European benchmark price for oil fell moderately on Monday on speculation that Libyan oil production would quickly begin rising again. Brent crude oil prices initially dropped more than 3 percent, but ended New York trading basically flat at $108.42. The American benchmark crude, which is less sensitive to events in the Middle East, rose $2.01, to $84.42.

Colonel Qaddafi proved to be a problematic partner for international oil companies, frequently raising fees and taxes and making other demands. A new government with close ties to NATO may be an easier partner for Western nations to deal with. Some experts say that given a free hand, oil companies could find considerably more oil in Libya than they were able to locate under the restrictions placed by the Qaddafi government.

Oil analysts said it was likely that oil companies, particularly Total and Eni, would compete fiercely for contracts on the best oil properties, with their respective governments lobbying on their behalf. But first the rebels will have to consolidate control over the country.

"If you don't have a stable security environment, who will be able to put their workers back in the country?" said Helima Croft, senior geopolitical strategist at Barclays Capital.

The civil war forced major oil companies to withdraw their personnel, and production plummeted over the last several months to a minuscule 60,000 barrels a day, according to the International Energy Agency. That would account for roughly 20 percent of the country's normal domestic needs. The rebels were able to export a modest amount of crude that was stored at ports and sell it for cash on the international markets through Qatar.

Oil experts caution that it could take as much as a year for Libya to make repairs and get its oil fields back to full speed, although some exports may resume within a couple of months.

Since oil is far and away Libya's most important economic resource, any new government would be obliged to make oil production a high priority. That would mean establishing security over major fields, pipelines, refineries and ports. The government would also need to quickly establish relationships with foreign oil companies, some of which consulted with both the rebels and Colonel Qadaffi through the conflict to hedge their bets.
[...]
Italy in recent years has relied on Libya for more than 20 percent of its oil imports. France, Switzerland, Ireland and Austria all depended on Libya for more than 15 percent of their imports before the fighting began.
[...]
Even though the United States relies very little on Libya for imports, the reduction of high-quality crude on world markets has pushed up oil and gasoline prices for Americans as well.
[...]

2) Clyburn: No new higher tax rates
Jennifer Epstein, Politico, August 15, 2011 10:27 AM EDT
http://dyn.politico.com/printstory.cfm?uuid=4FE9644B-D90F-4BEB-A7D9-61D7E32020E2

New higher tax rates won't be part of a deficit-reduction deal worked out by the congressional supercommittee, said Rep. Jim Clyburn, one of the panel's six Democrats, who did call for closing loopholes and letting the Bush-era tax cuts expire.

"Let me be very clear: Even in the Biden committee, none of us ever talked about raising tax rates, we are not there," the assistant minority leader said Monday on MSNBC's "The Daily Rundown." "We believe, however, that closing loopholes can get us to where we need to be."

Clyburn stressed that while increased taxes are not going to be part of a supercommittee deal, new revenues must be.

"The difficulty is going to be whether or not we will be honest about what it takes to deal with debt and deficits and that is there's got to be revenue coming from somewhere, and where we get that revenue is going to be very, very important."

In addition to ending loopholes - which some Republicans have in the past framed as tax hikes - Clyburn said new revenues would also come from the end of Bush-era tax cuts, ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and saving money on interest because the deficit won't be growing as rapidly. The Bush tax cuts were extended for two years last December in a deal worked out between President Barack Obama and then-House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio).

"So if you're closing loopholes, bringing the wars to a close and letting the tax cuts expire, I think we can get to where we need to be," Clyburn said.

Clyburn said that while he "[doesn't] know exactly how all this is going to work out," he's willing to compromise because he does not want to see the "triggers" - cuts to defense and Medicare, intended to hit programs important to Republicans and Democrats, respectively - enacted.

"I would be very, very reticent to walk away because I for one would be sitting on both sides of that issue," he said, mentioning military bases in his district.
[...]

3) U.S. Embassy: "Without a UN-sanctioned …force, we would be getting far less help …in managing Haiti."
Dan Beeton, Center for Economic and Policy Research, Wednesday, 24 August 2011
http://www.cepr.net/index.php/blogs/relief-and-reconstruction-watch/us-embassy-without-a-un-sanctioned-force-we-would-be-getting-far-less-help-in-managing-haiti

As a new child sex abuse scandal involving Uruguayan MINUSTAH troops unfolds (without coverage in the English language media), and new scientific studies emerge linking MINUSTAH to the origin of the current cholera epidemic, recently Wikileaked cables from the U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince spell out MINUSTAH's importance to the U.S. government in a more direct fashion than probably any previously released documents. A confidential October 2008 cable from then-Ambassador Janet Sanderson begins:

"The UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti is an indispensable tool in realizing core USG policy interests in Haiti. Security vulnerabilities and fundamental institutional weaknesses mean that Haiti will require a continuing - albeit eventually shrinking - MINUSTAH presence for at least three and more likely five years. Haiti needs the UN presence to fill the security gap caused by Haiti's fledgling police force's lack of numbers and capabilities. It needs MINUSTAH to partner with the USG and other donors in institution-building."
[...]
The cable notes that this partnership is important, since, with "commitments elsewhere" (such as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan), the U.S. apparently would not be able to maintain a unilateral military occupation of Haiti:

"In the current context of our military commitments elsewhere, the U.S. alone could not replace this mission. This regionally-coordinated Latin American commitment to Haiti would not be possible without the UN umbrella. That same umbrella helps other major donors -- led by Canada and followed up by the EU, France, Spain, Japan and others -- justify their bilateral assistance domestically. Without a UN-sanctioned peacekeeping and stabilization force, we would be getting far less help from our hemispheric and European partners in managing Haiti."

The cable underscores what Sanderson says is the importance of partnering with Latin American countries in MINUSTAH especially – suggesting that such partnerships can make up for the "perceptions" that Haitians don't want the troops there (perceptions no doubt caused by numerous demonstrations over the years):

"The U.S. will reap benefits from this hemispheric security cooperation for years to come - but only if its success is not endangered by early withdrawal. We must work to preserve MINUSTAH by continuing to partner with it at all levels in coordination with other major donor and MINUSTAH contributor countries from the hemisphere. That partnering will also help counter perceptions in Latin contributing countries that Haitians see their presence in Haiti as unwanted. The Department and Embassies in Latin countries contributing troops should work to ensure these countries' continuing support for MINUSTAH."
[...]
The cable describes MINUSTAH's role in containing social unrest. The cable was written half-a-year after food riots in Haiti (and various other countries) captured world news headlines, but observers and critics of MINUSTAH have noted the troops' role in policing and attempting to discourage political protests since the Mission first began in 2004.

"They [MINUSTAH] are also the country's ultimate riot control force which in times of unrest protects strategic government installations, including the National Palace and the airport. In MINUSTAH's UN police operations pillar, Formed Police Units (FPU - gendarmerie-type police units from individual contributor countries) aid the HNP with security operations, such as helping put down the mutiny at the national penitentiary last November, and performing riot control during the April disturbances."
[...]
The cable says "MINUSTAH troops continue to provide security in areas such as the Cite Soleil slum, liberated from overt gang rule in early 2007," without mentioning the bloody operations that supposedly led to such "liberation", including the killing of dozens of people in the process as MINUSTAH troops fired 22,000 rounds in just seven hours in the July 2005 incident alone. Avoiding such controversy allowed Sanderson to write "The MINUSTAH apparatus is also conducting the vetting of the entire HNP [Haitian National Police], an essential aspect of HNP reform" without suggesting that there might first be a need for MINUSTAH reform.
[...]
A strong U.S. commitment to MINUSTAH, therefore, is important because

"The Port au Prince embassies of Latin countries contributing to MINUSTAH look to the strength of the U.S. commitment to the UN presence as a bellwether. Any slippage of U.S. commitment would embolden domestic elements who oppose these countries' participation in in the UN mission here. We sense that the strong U.S. embrace of the UN presence in Haiti helps their case at home for continuing deployments in Haiti."

To this end, the devastating hurricanes of 2008 provided an opportunity:

"The current post-hurricane relief effort, however disordered, is proving an opportunity for U.S., Canadian, and other bilateral donors to partner with MINUSTAH in disaster assistance and reconstruction. We sense that the humanitarian focus of these crisis-response efforts -- in contrast to riot-control efforts in April -- is helping the case in Latin countries for continuing their peacekeeping contributions in Haiti."

4) Romney advisor advocating for terrorist group
Mitchell Reiss has helped lead a campaign to rehabilitate the reputation of anti-Iranian militants
Justin Elliott, Salon, Tuesday, Aug 23, 2011 15:09 ET http://www.salon.com/news/politics/war_room/2011/08/23/reiss_romney_mek/index.html

A foreign policy advisor to Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has been active in recent months in an advocacy campaign to rehabilitate the reputation of an underground organization in Iran known as the Mujahedin-e Khalq. The MEK has been designated by the U.S. State Department as a "terrorist" organization.

Mitchell Reiss, former director of policy planning at the State Department during the Bush administration, is now advising the former Massachusetts governor on foreign policy, the New Republic recently reported. Reiss also advised Romney's 2008 campaign.

Currently president of Washington College in Maryland, Reiss has played a leading role in an ongoing campaign to get the MEK removed from the U.S. government's official list of foreign organizations said to be involved in terrorism. Inclusion on the State Department list has far-reaching legal consequences -- including making it illegal for U.S. citizens to support or even join the group.

"[T]he U.S. State Department needs to delist the MEK immediately," Reiss said at a pro-MEK conference in Washington in April, where he was joined by a group of other luminaries, some of whom have acknowledged being paid to appear.
[...]
Romney has not taken a public position on the MEK, but he has previously spoken about Iran in aggressive terms.

"The Iranian regime is unalloyed evil, run by people who are at once ruthless and fanatical," he told an American-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) summit in San Diego in 2009. "Stop thinking that a charm offensive will talk the Iranians out of their pursuit of nuclear weapons."
[...]
But Washington's most agile gladhanders have noticed that the MEK is nothing if not generous. Former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, a Democrat with little foreign policy experience outside the state of Pennsylvania, was paid $20,000 for a 10-minute speech in which he said, "This has been a terrific learning experience for me, someone who knew practically nothing about the issues."

Gen. Anthony Zinni, retired, a liberal-minded general and an early Iraq war critic, was paid his "standard speaking fee" -- $20,000 to $30,000 -- for an eight-minute speech at an MEK-linked conference. "I am shocked and surprised that we still chase this illusion that there can be a meaningful dialogue with the regime," Zinni said at the January event.
[...]
All of this raises the question of what, if anything, Reiss -- an advisor to a major presidential candidate -- has been paid for his MEK advocacy, and where that money is coming from.
[...]

5) Nation's Largest Environmental Organizations Stand Together To Oppose Oil Pipeline
Tar Sands Action, Aug. 24, 2011
http://www.tarsandsaction.org/nations-largest-environmental-organizations-stand-together-to-oppose-oil-pipeline/

Washington, DC - The heads of the nation's largest environmental organizations-often at odds on the best strategy for combating climate change-released a letter today calling on President Obama to block the Keystone XL oil pipeline, which would span from the tar sands of Alberta to the Gulf of Mexico.

As another 56 people headed to jail today in the largest civil disobedience protests in the environmental movement's recent history, the leaders of groups as diverse as Greenpeace and the Environmental Defense Fund told the president, "there is not an inch of daylight between our policy position on the Keystone XL pipeline, and those of the protesters being arrested daily outside the White House."

"On an issue as complicated as climate, there will often be disagreements over tactics and goals-just recall the differences over the Senate climate bill this time last year," said Bill McKibben, one of the organizers of the protests for tarsandsaction.org. "But there are some projects so obviously dangerous that they unify everyone, and the Keystone XL pipeline is the best example yet."

The leaders of the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Sierra Club, the Environmental Defense Fund, the National Wildlife Federation, Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, and the Rainforest Action Network also made it clear they counted on President Obama to take decisive action to block the pipeline. "We expect nothing less," they said, describing the pipeline battle as "perhaps the biggest climate test you face between now and the election" and adding that denying the permit would trigger a "surge of enthusiasm from the green base that supported you so strongly in the last election."

In their letter, the leaders cited dangers to the climate, the risks of disastrous spills and leaks, and the economic damage that will come from continued dependence on fossil fuel in their letter, concluding, "this is a terrible project."
[...]

Libya
6) No NATO bases after Gaddafi: Rebel envoy
Libya's rebel government envoy to the Arab League says that his country will not allow NATO bases in the post-Gaddafi era
AFP, Monday 22 Aug 2011
http://english.ahram.org.eg/News/19457.aspx

Libya's rebel government envoy to the Cairo-based Arab League said Monday that his country will not allow NATO bases in Libya after Muammar Gaddafi's ouster, official MENA news agency said.

"Libya is an Arab and Islamic nation before NATO and after NATO," he said, adding, "the Libyans revolted from the 1970s against Western bases and there will be no non-Libyan bases."

Israel/Palestine
7) Gaza pays the price ... again
Palestinians in Gaza share their reactions to the recent Israeli attacks with Al Jazeera.
Mohammed Omer, Al Jazeera, 23 Aug 2011 14:47
http://english.aljazeera.net/indepth/features/2011/08/2011822124125551829.html

The ongoing deadly Israeli air strikes on Gaza, and the exchange of home-made rockets fired from Gaza, has drawn mixed reactions from Palestinians in the besieged Gaza.
[...]
Al Jazeera asked a number of Palestinians in Gaza Strip for their reactions to the ongoing attacks on Gaza.

This is what they said:

Ahmed Al Najjar, 27-year-old documentary film producer:

I see these attacks as the first Israeli nail in the coffin of our bid for UN state recognition in September.

What is happening in Gaza right now is a message from Israel to the world that no political force can impose anything on Israel, including the US administration.
[...]
Sahar Salem, 24-year-old labourer:

If an Israeli is killed on the moon, Israel would attack Gaza for revenge. By continuous terror attacks on neighbours, Israel thinks it can bring peace to its people, but in fact it only brings more hatred toward them.

As for the home-made rockets fired on Israel, that is meaningless, because they hit the poor, marginalised areas of Israel that the government of Israel doesn't care about. I hate that the poor and marginalised everywhere are always the less fortunate and the most likely to suffer.
[...]
Moayyad Abu Imran, 34-year-old engineer:

I think this time, Israel is not aiming to kill for the sake of killing, but for more. Two main reasons: first, to thwart the Palestinians' application for statehood on September. And secondly, for Netanyahu to export his internal economic crises and failure in dealing with the Tel Aviv protests.

Now, protesters are home, and Netanyahu's goal has been achieved: to split the protesters by making them do their military call-up.
[...]
Wafa Yussef, 29-year-old public health employee:

I think what is happening now is the expected result since Israel was looking for a way out of its internal crisis, and an effort to prevent Palestine from declaring itself as a country at the UN in Septmember. So the Gaza Strip, as usual, has to pay the price.
[...]

Afghanistan
8) Billions spent on Afghan police, but brutality, corruption prevail
Mirwais Harooni, Reuters, Wed, Aug 24 2011
http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/08/24/us-afghanistan-police-crime-idUSTRE77N10U20110824

Kabul - An Afghan policeman shot dead taxi driver Mohammad Jawid Amiri six month ago, for no apparent reason. According to a Kabul police official, the shooting was an accident, and the offending policeman is now behind bars.

That's news to the family of 27-year-old Amiri. They say the only contact with the policeman they had since the shooting was when his family offered a sheep and three bags each of rice and flour as compensation, but only if the Amiris signed papers saying their son died a traffic accident, and not from gunshot wounds.

"My father tore up the papers and said he will never forget him," said Sahida, the victim's older sister. "Maybe the policeman is in prison or maybe he has been freed. We don't even know why he shot my brother."

Amiri's death is part of a expanding dossier of unresolved police violence and corruption cases that have alienated Afghans, and which calls into question the billions of dollars spent to build up civic institutions in the war-torn nation.

About $29 billion has been spent on the Afghan police since the Taliban were ousted in late 2001, with more to come as the U.S. and NATO-led International Security Assistance Force steps up training ahead of plans to withdraw combat troops by the end of 2014 and hand over security to Afghans.

The Afghan police force now stands at around 142,000, although desertion rates are high. But ordinary Afghans are intimidated by the force, which has high levels of drug abuse and desertion, especially when officers are posted to areas away from their home villages or find themselves unexpectedly on the frontline of the battle against Taliban insurgents.

According to the International Crisis Group (ICG), the police and Afghan troops trained to date "have thus far proved unable to enforce the law, counter the insurgency or even secure the seven regions" recently handed over to them.

[...]

Afghans do not hold the police in high regard.

Three in five see the police as corrupt, more than a quarter have personally seen a policeman use narcotics, and more than half think filing a complaint about police misdeeds would have no effect on the situation or make it worse, according to a U.N. survey from late last year. Resentment also runs high against police seeking bribes to pad their salary.

[...]

And it's not just corruption.

Nearly 200 policemen were accused of murder and just over 4,600 were involved of crimes in 3,026 separate cases sent to the attorney general in Kabul in year that began March 2010, said Lieutenant General Mohammad Rahim Hanifi, head of the top prosecutor's Statistics and Analysis department.

Police are also suspected of carrying out gang rapes, but arresting the offenders falls to their colleagues, who often just ignore the cases, or intimidate those seeking justice, Hanifi said.
[...]

Colombia
9) Labor Leader Gunned Down in Colombia
EFE, August 22, 2011
http://laht.com/article.asp?ArticleId=419034&CategoryId=12393

Bogota – An official of a union representing university employees in the northwestern Colombian province of Cordoba was murdered, the CUT labor federation said Tuesday.

Luis Diaz Villa was fatally shot Monday night on a street in Monteria, the provincial capital.

The victim was vice president of the Cordoba local of the Sintraunicol union, CUT regional leader Eleazar Perez told Efe from Monteria.

Diaz Villa was linked to the University of Cordoba, an institution that suffered in the past from the activities of right-wing militias, blamed by Perez for the deaths of "more than 100 union and student leaders and of a candidate for the post of dean."

Diaz Villa and other Sintraunicol officers in Cordoba had an arrangement to receive police protection in response to threats, but the protection was apparently withdrawn, Perez said.

Demanding a prompt investigation of the murder, the CUT called on the Colombian government to adopt measures ensuring "the free exercise of labor and union activity."

The murder came a few hours after Defense Minister Rodrigo Rivera chaired a security conference in Monteria attended by senior security force commanders and municipal and provincial officeholders, Perez pointed out.

Colombia is the world's most dangerous country for labor organizers.

El Salvador
10) Suspect in murders of six Jesuit priests in El Salvador accused of immigration fraud
David Abel and Mark Arsenault, Boston Globe, 08/23/2011 12:54 PM
http://www.boston.com/Boston/metrodesk/2011/08/suspect-murders-six-jesuit-priests-salvador-taken-into-custody-federal-officials/f8PyehZv9EO610Y2ImXY5K/index.html

Federal officials charged today that the former Salvadoran government minister accused of colluding in the infamous killing of six Jesuit priests in El Salvador 20 years ago engaged in immigration fraud while living in Massachusetts.

Inocente Orlando Montano who has lived in Massachusetts for years under his own name -- most recently in Everett -- is among 20 former military officers charged in fresh indictments from Spain with conspiring to kill the priests, the Globe reported this month.

The international indictments issued in May seek justice for the clergymen, five of them Spaniards; their housekeeper; and her 16-year-old daughter, who were roused at night from their beds on the campus of Central American University in San Salvador and executed by an elite unit of the Salvadoran military.

Most of those accused of the notorious war crime have never faced justice.

Montano was not taken into custody today by federal officials for the Spanish indictments. Instead, he was arrested and appeared in US District Court in Boston on charges of lying on immigration documents he filed with the federal government for the past seven years.

According to a complaint unsealed this afternoon, Montano wrote in federal documents that he never served in the El Salvadoran military when he applied for special protection under federal immigration laws.

In fact, according to the complaint, Montano served in the Salvadoran military from 1963 until 1994 when he retired with the rank of colonel. Immigration agents searched Montano's Everett apartment two days after the Globe's story and discovered a 1983 Salvadoran military identification card in his name showing he had the rank of lieutenant colonel.

Prosecutors said they are seeking to detain Montano unless he agrees to electronic monitoring, a requirement his attorney said he is wiling to live with.
[...]
In 1993, a United Nations "truth commission" that investigated the clergy killings named Montano, a former government vice minister of public safety, as one of the top leaders who participated in a meeting to plot the assassination of Father Ignacio Ellacuria, the university's rector.
[...]

Peru
11) Peru Congress passes consultation law unanimously
* Consultation bill passes Congress unanimously * President Humala has 15 days to sign into law * Could prevent social conflicts in rural provinces
Reuters, Wed Aug 24, 2011 2:33am GMT
http://af.reuters.com/article/commoditiesNews/idAFN1E77M1FL20110824

Lima - Peru's Congress unanimously approved a bill on Tuesday that could quell social conflicts in rural provinces by requiring companies to consult with native communities before building mines or drilling for oil.

President Ollanta Humala will have 15 days to sign the so-called consultation law, which would put Peru in compliance with a U.N. convention on indigenous peoples it signed in 1989. Humala has said he supports consultation.

"The purpose of consultation is to reach an agreement between the government and indigenous or native peoples regarding measures that directly affect them," the text of the approved bill reads.

Former President Alan Garcia vetoed a similar bill that the previous Congress passed in May 2010. He said it gave rural communities the right to forfeit investment needed for development and economic growth.
[...]
Peru's ombudsman has said the consultation law could help prevent social conflicts that threaten the $50 billion in foreign investment destined for Peru in the next decade. Some 200 towns have protested against new projects, mostly in areas that have not seen the benefits of the 10-year economic boom.

When protesters clash with police in Peru, the conflicts can turn deadly. They have left an estimated 100 people dead in the past three and a half years.

Indigenous communities say energy extraction often contaminates their water sources and does not belong on their ancestral lands. They have long advocated for the consultation law and many of them voted for Humala.
[...]

-

Just Foreign Policy is a membership organization devoted to reforming US foreign policy so it reflects the values and interests of the majority of Americans. The archive of the Just Foreign Policy News is here:



http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/blog/dailynews



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