JFP 3/26: US Military Withdrawals Weaken Taliban

Just Foreign Policy News
March 26, 2010

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JFP video: Highlights of the Afghanistan Debate
With this video, we summarize the case made by Members of Congress for a timetable for military withdrawal from Afghanistan.
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/act/endthewar

Summary:
U.S./Top News
1) The Pentagon wants $33 billion in additional funding to pay for the war in Afghanistan this year and train the Afghan military, the Christian Science Monitor reports. Defense Secretary Gates and Secretary of State Clinton appeared before Senate appropriators to defend the war supplemental, which is on top of the $708 billion baseline budget submitted to Congress in February. Most of the war supplemental will pay for Afghanistan operations. $2.6 billion is to train the Afghan national security force. "The question is, how long is that going to have to continue to the point where we can kind of say we've done our thing," asked Sen. George Voinovich (R) of Ohio. "Five years, ten years, 15 years?" "We are in this intense phase that will be several years," Clinton said. "Obviously, I don't know that either of us could put a timeline on it."

2) Israel's prime minister Netanyahu, returned home with the task of responding to an unyielding US demand that he limit Israeli building in East Jerusalem, the New York Times reports. Netanyahu has brought up several possible gestures, including restrictions on Israeli troop activities in the West Bank, the freeing of Palestinian prisoners, some latitude for reconstruction in Gaza and further efforts to bolster the Palestinian economy. The Americans have welcomed those gestures. But building in Jerusalem remains the sticking point.

3) Netanyahu was welcomed home with signs reading "Obama, No You Can't" and "Netanyahu Stand Strong" after a trip to Washington that appeared only to widen a rift over Israeli housing construction, the Washington Post reports. But support expressed by a few dozen people at the entrance to Jerusalem belied widespread doubts in Israel about Netanyahu's handling of relations with Obama. The Obama administration says failure to resolve the Middle East conflict is harming U.S. national security interests in the region. The demands Obama presented to Netanyahu included continuing a partial settlement freeze once a 10-month moratorium expires later this year and expanding it to East Jerusalem, according to Yedioth Ahronoth, Israel's largest daily.

4) The U.S. Army's pullout from the Kamdesh district of Afghanistan has weakened the Taliban in the area and helped to prompt this month's peace bid by Afghanistan's Hezb-i-Islami insurgent group, the Wall Street Journal reports. As long as the US patrolled Kamdesh,"We were just providing a recruitment tool for the insurgency," said a US Army commander. In much of Afghanistan outside the deep south, the Taliban aren't a homegrown phenomenon, and their expansion in recent years was often provoked by the very presence of coalition troops, the Journal says.

5) Japan has decided to propose to the US to relocate half of the controversial US military airbase away from Okinawa, AFP reports. The government had agreed on a plan to move 50 percent of the functions of the US Marines' Futenma airbase to several regions outside Okinawa, Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirofumi Hirano told senior ruling coalition officials, Jiji Press reported.

6) The UAE navy is thought to have opened fire on a small patrol vessel from Saudi Arabia after a dispute over water boundaries, the Telegraph reports. The incident has shocked diplomats who hope the countries will help implement the West's strategy to constrain Iran's nuclear and military ambitions, the Telegraph says.

7) Oliver Stone's documentary "South of the Border," which chronicles the rise to power of Venezuelan President Chavez and other South American leaders, will open June 25 in New York, followed by a July 2 opening in Los Angeles, Reuters reports. Stone's documentary "shows how these leaders of Latin America are being intentionally villainized by the U.S. mass media," said the founder of Cinema Libre, which will be distributing the film. "This unique dialogue needed the eye and the courage of a director like Stone to convince us that these leaders are fighting for a more humane society, which means defending themselves against American corporate interests."

Israel/Palestine
8) Palestinian children who attend school at at-Tuwani near Hebron face constant threats and harassment from Israeli settlers, despite a 2004 order by the Israeli parliament that they be protected by the Israeli military, Amanda Mueller reports for Truthout. International volunteers attempt to accompany the children, but even they have been subject to violent attacks by settlers.

Honduras
9) Professor Jose Manuel Flores, a leader of the anti-coup resistance movement, was murdered at the school were he worked, Inside Costa Rica reports.

10) A Honduran television commentator is demanding safe passage out of Honduras after a second assassination attempt, AP reports. Karol Cabrera blamed the attacks on opponents of the coup. As a commentator for state-run Channel 8, Cabrera backed the government that took over after the coup.

Colombia
11) A new report by UNESCO noting that four reporters were killed in Colombia in the last four years, writes Colombia Reports, citing AFP. Mexico had the highest number of journalist killings, with eleven over the period.

Contents:
U.S./Top News
1) Pentagon wants $33 billion more for war in Afghanistan
The Pentagon's request for a $33 billion war supplemental for Afghanistan has Congress concerned about long-term costs. Training Afghan security forces, for instance, could take years.
Gordon Lubold, Christian Science Monitor, March 25, 2010 at 7:49 pm EDT http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Military/2010/0325/Pentagon-wants-33-billion-more-for-war-in-Afghanistan

Washington - The Pentagon wants $33 billion in additional funding to pay for the war in Afghanistan this year and train the Afghan military, but members of Congress want to make sure they're not writing a blank check.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton appeared before Senate appropriators to defend the war supplemental, which is on top of the $708 billion baseline budget submitted to Congress in February.

Most of the war supplemental - a separate account used to pay for war costs - will pay for Afghanistan operations. Of that, $2.6 billion is to train the Afghan national security force, seen as a long-term endeavor that Congress worries could become a burden over time.

When can US forces leave? "The question is, how long is that going to have to continue to the point where we can kind of say we've done our thing," asked Sen. George Voinovich (R) of Ohio. "Five years, ten years, 15 years?"

That question is atop many lawmakers minds as they consider what the Obama administration has said from the start will take years to accomplish.

The Iraq security forces, now nearly 665,000 strong, took at least six years to build. But Iraq had more resources, and American trainers were already working within a culture in which a formal military existed under Sadaam Hussein. Afghanistan's modern history has never had a formal military structure, and there are even fewer resources in Afghanistan to support one.

Despite contributions from NATO countries, that still leaves the US holding much of the bag when it comes to training the Afghan indigenous force.

While President Obama has pledged to begin removing American troops from Afghanistan in 2011, the training mission will likely continue long after that. "We are in this intense phase that will be several years," Ms. Clinton said in answer to Mr. Voinovich's question. "Obviously, I don't know that either of us could put a timeline on it. What we're trying to do simultaneously is clear territory from the Taliban, be able to work more closely with the Afghan army, and at the same time create more capacity."

Although NATO allies contribute to the training effort - Germany, for example, the third largest contributor of forces to Afghanistan, is almost uniquely charged with training operations in the north - the US will shoulder much of the burden for the long-term.
[...]
But as a reminder of the cost of training indigenous militaries, the $33 billion funding request includes $1 billion still needed to strengthen Iraqi security forces, a force many consider to be all but fully trained as the US prepares to remove all its combat forces by August.
[...]

2) Conflicting Demands Test Netanyahu
Ethan Bronner, New York Times, March 25, 2010
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/26/world/middleeast/26mideast.html

Jerusalem - After contentious meetings in the White House, Israel's prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, returned home on Thursday with the politically explosive task of responding to an unyielding American demand that he limit Israeli building in East Jerusalem.

The details of the American requests are tightly held. But indirect peace talks with the Palestinians have been in jeopardy since Israel announced 1,600 new housing units in an ultra-Orthodox neighborhood on land wanted by the Palestinians for their future capital, marring a visit here by Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. two weeks ago. The goal of the current American effort is to get those talks started.

Mr. Netanyahu's governing coalition, anchored by his Likud Party, views Jerusalem, west and east, as the undivided, eternal capital of the Jewish people, where it can build where it wants. The Palestinians and their supporters throughout the Arab and Muslim worlds view East Jerusalem as holy and as rightfully under Palestinian sovereignty.

Since the disrupted Biden visit, the Obama administration has been telling Mr. Netanyahu that Israel needs to rein in its Jewish construction in East Jerusalem and offer other signs of good will to the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas.

Mr. Netanyahu has brought up several possible gestures, including restrictions on Israeli troop activities in the West Bank, the freeing of Palestinian prisoners, some latitude for reconstruction in Gaza and further efforts to bolster the Palestinian economy. The Americans have welcomed those gestures.
[...]
But building in Jerusalem remains the sticking point. Mr. Netanyahu is expected to meet on Friday with his top seven cabinet ministers to begin to form his response. It may be some days or longer before it is complete.

The Arab League is scheduled to meet this weekend in Libya and is likely to repeat demands for a freeze on Israeli building in occupied areas before giving a final endorsement to the return of the Palestinian Authority to peace talks with Israel. Mr. Abbas, the Palestinian president, has sought pan-Arab cover for his decision to return to the talks.

Mr. Netanyahu returned to an overheated political atmosphere fed in part by news coverage of his Washington trip, describing his treatment at the White House as deeply humiliating because neither photographs or ceremony marked his visit.

There is little doubt that Obama administration officials thought it was appropriate to reciprocate the embarrassment felt by Mr. Biden here and to send a tough message about the need for commitment regarding Jerusalem, American officials said.

"People keep saying that the Israelis, by building these settlements, are creating an impediment to negotiations," said David J. Rothkopf, a former Clinton administration official who has written about the shaping of American foreign policy. "My reaction is, no they're not. They're negotiating. They're sending a message. And Obama is sending a message right back."
[...]

3) As U.S.-Israel rift continues, Netanyahu finds himself in a bind
Janine Zacharia, Washington Post, Friday, March 26, 2010; A12 http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/03/25/AR2010032502153.html

Jerusalem - Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was welcomed home Thursday night with signs reading "Obama, No You Can't" and "Netanyahu Stand Strong" after a trip to Washington that appeared only to widen a two-week-old rift between the close allies over Israeli housing construction.

The support expressed by a few dozen people at the entrance to Jerusalem belied widespread doubts here about Netanyahu's handling of relations with President Obama. The premier's tough U.S. visit came during a week in which Israel also found itself at odds with Britain, which on Tuesday expelled an Israeli diplomat over what it said was the use of forged British passports in an alleged Mossad operation.

Netanyahu had hoped to use his visit to defuse tensions sparked by the announcement of Israeli plans to build 1,600 homes in a disputed area of Jerusalem. The announcement was made during Vice President Biden's visit to Israel this month, and it thwarted what was supposed to be a celebration of fresh negotiations on talks toward an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement. The Obama administration now says that failure to resolve the Middle East conflict is harming U.S. national security interests in the region.

Over the past year, Netanyahu "pushed the envelope with Obama," said Yossi Beilin, a former Israeli peace negotiator, referring to haggling over a full settlement freeze that had precluded a resumption of peace talks. Now that Obama has pushed back, Netanyahu "is worried and afraid," Beilin said.

Some observers speculated that Netanyahu might be forced to consider bringing Kadima, the centrist party led by former foreign minister Tzipi Livni, his arch political rival, into his coalition to alleviate the tensions with the United States. But Gideon Ezra, a Kadima member, said that might not be possible because of resistance from within Netanyahu's Likud bloc: Incorporating Kadima would mean concessions such as halting construction in East Jerusalem and dismantling unauthorized settlement outposts in the West Bank, steps that Likud members oppose, Ezra said.

Others said Netanyahu would simply search for ways to buy time until the midterm U.S. elections in hopes that Obama would lose support and that more pro-Israel Republicans would be elected.
[...]
What is most clear now as the crisis in the U.S.-Israel relationship continues is that Netanyahu was truly stunned by the Obama administration's unprecedented willingness to criticize Israel over building in the annexed part of Jerusalem and that deferring negotiations on the city's future will become increasingly difficult if the news media continue to report on construction there.

The United States, like the rest of the world, has never recognized Israel's sovereignty over territory occupied in the 1967 war. Still, the two countries always "managed to work out a modus vivendi because more compelling strategic concerns trumped whatever they were quarreling about," said Dore Gold, who was a political adviser to Netanyahu during his first stint as prime minister more than a decade ago.

Gold cited Israel's 1997 decision to build the Har Homa development in East Jerusalem just after Netanyahu signed a deal turning over most of the West Bank city of Hebron to Palestinian control. At the time, the United States vetoed two proposed U.N. Security Council resolutions criticizing Israel for the project.

The difference was that then-President Bill Clinton believed Netanyahu could make progress toward peace, observers said. Obama does not appear to share that sentiment. "There was trust between the president and our prime minister," Hasson said. "Now we don't have it."
[...]
The demands Obama presented to Netanyahu included continuing a partial settlement freeze once a 10-month moratorium expires later this year and expanding it to East Jerusalem, according to Yedioth Ahronoth, Israel's largest daily.
[...]

4) Rebels Seek Reconciliation As U.S. Pulls Back
Yaroslav Trofimov, Wall Street Journal, March 26, 2010
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704094104575144012293763270.html

Barikot, Afghanistan - The Taliban stormed two isolated American outposts in Nuristan province in October, killing eight soldiers in one of the bloodiest attacks of the war.

The U.S. Army responded by abandoning all of its bases in the Kamdesh district bordering Pakistan, a pullout the Taliban trumpeted as a victory over the infidels. Since then, however, the Taliban have found themselves on the defensive-against Kamdesh's own people, and against the area's elders who are now pursuing reconciliation with Kabul.

This turnabout helped to prompt this month's peace bid by Afghanistan's second-largest insurgent group, Hezb-i-Islami, whose delegates met with President Hamid Karzai this week and on Thursday held talks with the United Nations envoy in Kabul.

It offers an encouraging scenario of what could happen in other parts of Afghanistan once U.S. forces begin to withdraw in July 2011, as envisaged by President Barack Obama.

"If you pull out the coalition forces, you open the natural seams between the traditional leaders and the Johnny-come-lately Taliban," says Lt. Col. Robert B. Brown, commander of the U.S. Army unit responsible for eastern Nuristan and northern Kunar province, the 3rd Squadron of 61st Cavalry. As long as his men patrolled Kamdesh, Lt. Col. Brown adds, "We were just providing a recruitment tool for the insurgency."

The latest buildup of American troops in Afghanistan is largely focusing on two of the nation's 34 provinces-Kandahar and Helmand, the Taliban's cradle in the country's south.

At the same time, American forces are already moving out of sparsely populated areas such as Nuristan, where only one U.S. outpost remains, and parts of Kunar, where more base withdrawals are planned.

In these areas, as in much of Afghanistan outside the deep south, the Taliban aren't a homegrown phenomenon, and their expansion in recent years was often provoked by the very presence of coalition troops.

The tale of what happens when these troops leave, as experienced in Kamdesh, offers hope that a removal of foreign forces in large parts of the country can often weaken, rather than strengthen, the Taliban.

Unmapped until the 1940s and peopled by blue-eyed tribes that claim descent from Alexander the Great, Nuristan is known for hostility to outsiders. Its inhabitants adopted Islam, shedding their ancient pagan beliefs, only about a century ago. A Hezb-i-Islami stronghold, Nuri-stan was one of the few parts of the country that remained outside Taliban control before the 2001 U.S.-led invasion.

The deployment of U.S. and North Atlantic Treaty Organization forces in 2006 to Kamdesh, a jumble of narrow valleys wedged between Alpine peaks, forged an alliance based on common hatred of the infidel between Nuristani tribal leaders, the Taliban and local Hezb-i-Islami commanders loyal to warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar.

"There were no Taliban in Kamdesh before the U.S. went in," says Latvian Army Maj. Ilmars Lejins, whose soldiers, tasked with training Afghan forces, deployed there with U.S. troops. "All these groups became united for first time just because we were there."

There was another reason for local hostility. In 2006, U.S. special-operations forces designated a prominent Hezb-i-Islami commander, Mullah Sadiq, a tribal elder with considerable authority in Kamdesh, as a "tier one" target for killing or capture. This was a mistake, U.S. military officials now say, caused by misinformation provided by Mullah Sadiq's local rivals. There is no indication that Mullah Sadiq, though a member of Hezb-i-Islami's central shura, or council, was involved in any attacks on American troops, a military intelligence official says. Fearing for his life, Mullah Sadiq fled to Pakistan. The younger, more radical Taliban quickly filled the political vacuum.

Though the initial goal of the coalition's expansion to Kamdesh was to provide development aid, the security situation deteriorated so rapidly that by 2008, U.S. soldiers focused on protecting themselves, and rarely ventured far outside the wire.

As the three U.S. outposts in Kamdesh-Keating, Fritsche and Lowell-came under fire almost every day, Lt. Col. Brown and his brigade commander pushed last fall to evacuate the bases. Before they could act, an assault force of some 300 Taliban penetrated the perimeters of Keating and Fritsche at dawn on Oct. 3, despite resistance by outgunned U.S. troops.

Only a series of airstrikes prevented the insurgents from completely seizing the bases and massacring the survivors. The outposts were abandoned three days later, and no U.S. troops have entered Kamdesh since then.

At first, it seemed the Taliban had scored a resounding victory. Then, late last year, Mullah Sadiq returned from exile, invited by the local elders and by the Afghan government. "He is a tribal leader, an influential figure and an Islamic scholar," explains Jamaludin Badar, the governor of Nuristan and an appointee of President Hamid Karzai.

Reasserting his traditional authority, Mullah Sadiq has since ousted the Taliban from much of Kamdesh, without a single shot fired. A council of tribal elders convened on the mullah's initiative elected a new district governor, Mawlawi Abdul Rahman, also affiliated with Hezb-i-Islami, and a new police chief- both now recognized by Kabul.
[...]
One thing seems certain: the Americans won't be returning to Kamdesh soon. "What we're trying to do," says Lt. Col. Brown, "is to take ourselves out of the equation."

5) Japan to propose moving half key US base off Okinawa: report
AFP, Thu Mar 25, 12:01 pm ET http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20100325/wl_asia_afp/japanusmilitarydiplomacy_20100325160107

Tokyo - Japan has decided to propose to Washington to relocate half of a controversial US military airbase away from the southern island of Okinawa, a report said Thursday, citing the top government spokesman. The government had agreed on a plan to move 50 percent of the functions of the US Marines' Futenma airbase to several regions outside Okinawa, Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirofumi Hirano told senior ruling coalition officials, Jiji Press reported.
[...]

6) Naval battle between UAE and Saudi Arabia raises fears for Gulf security
A naval clash in the Gulf has reignited fears over the security of the world's most important shipping lanes and disputed oilfields.
Richard Spencer, Telegraph (UK), 26 Mar 2010
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/unitedarabemirates/7521219/Naval-battle-between-UAE-and-Saudi-Arabia-raises-fears-for-Gulf-security.html

Dubai - The United Arab Emirates navy is thought to have opened fire on a small patrol vessel from Saudi Arabia after a dispute over water boundaries. According to one report, two Saudi sailors were injured in the alleged bombardment.

The Saudi vessel was forced to surrender, and its sailors were delivered into custody in Abu Dhabi for several days, before being released and handed over to the Saudi embassy earlier this week. The incident has shocked diplomats who hope the countries, both key American allies, will help implement the West's strategy to constrain Iran's nuclear and military ambitions.
[...]

7) Stone's "South of the Border" headed for U.S. theaters
Reuters, Thu, Mar 25 2010
http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE62O0QG20100325

Los Angeles - Cinema Libre has acquired North American rights to Oliver Stone's documentary "South of the Border," which chronicles the rise to power of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and other South American leaders. The distributor plans to release the film June 25 in New York, followed by a July 2 opening in Los Angeles.

"Not only is it a genuine honor to work with one of the greatest American directors, but his insightful documentary shows how these leaders of Latin America are being intentionally villanized by the U.S. mass media," Philippe Diaz, founder of Cinema Libre, said, "This unique dialogue needed the eye and the courage of a director like Stone to convince us that these leaders are fighting for a more humane society, which means defending themselves against American corporate interests."

Tariq Ali, historian and author of "Pirates of the Caribbean: Axis of Hope," served as screenwriter with Mark Weisbrot on the film, which premiered at the Venice Film Festival. .

Israel/Palestine
8) Palestinians in at-Tuwani Fight for Their Education
Amanda Mueller, Truthout, Thursday 25 March 2010
http://www.truthout.org/palestinian-at-tuwani-fight-their-education57968

In the rolling, rocky hills of South Hebron, where electricity and water are scarce and Israeli settler violence is plenty, a group of children huddle together, waiting to be escorted to school by the Israeli military.

They come from the villages of Tuba and Maghayir Al-Abeed, facing intimidation and harassment, for an education. What should be a peaceful 20-minute walk to the area school in at-Tuwani has become a testament to the determination of this group of Palestinians to nonviolently protest the appearance of settlers attempting to steal deeded land, using physical violence against children and adults, Palestinians and international volunteers to gain control of a region.

Violence against the children and international volunteers assisting on the walk to school, on Palestinian land, but claimed by the Ma'on settlement since 1981, became so prevalent that in 2004 the Israel Parliament mandated an order to the Israeli military to provide an escort for these children seeking an education. To and from school, soldiers are supposed to insure safety, with promises of prosecution against settlers guilty of violence and threatening behavior.

Neither order has yet to be met with regularity, leaving an already vulnerable group of children unsafe, while allowing their attackers freedom to attack again. Fear for the children in the area has grown so strong, the school population has dropped one-third. Nightmares, anxiety and other associated post-traumatic stress symptoms are now a way of life, stealing away the children's innocence, targeting them in an attempt to steal away education and a chance at a different life.
[...]
International volunteers from the Christian Peacemakers Team (CPT) and Operation Dove attempt to accompany the children, but even they have been subject to violent attacks by settlers. When the military escort does not come, the children have a very difficult decision to make: risk having harm done onto them or taking a route around the settlement of Ma'on and the illegal outpost Hill 833, sometimes referred to as Havot Ma'on or Ma'on Farm, taking them 75 minutes and making them late for class. Volunteers make phone calls daily, multiple times a day, to the Israeli District Coordinating Office, the section of the Army that is responsible for coordinating civilian affairs. After long waits, some children simply return home, missing school for the day.

"Efforts have been made (when the military does not come). We make almost daily calls to the army asking them to fully complete the escort in addition to coming on time for the escort," stated a CPT member living in the area.
[...]
A CPT member stated, "The army is usually very negligent when settlers are nearby. Usually the soldiers drive away or seem to turn a blind eye to the settlers. None of us currently here in Tuwani have even seen the army prevent an attack. Also, the illegal outpost, Havat Ma'on has an eviction order. So the military has not carried out their right to evict those living in the outpost. The military does a poor job of the escort and does not arrest or evict anyone involved in these attacks."
[...]

Honduras
9) Honduran Professor Assassinated
Inside Costa Rica, March 25
http://www.insidecostarica.com/dailynews/2010/march/25/centralamerica10032503.htm

Tegucigalpa - The Honduran professor Jose Manuel Flores, member of the anti-coup resistance movement was murdered at the school were he worked, it was informed Wednesday.

Flores, a prominent magisterial leader and founder of the Central American Socialist Party (PSOCA) was shot in the back when hooded individuals entered the school through the roof Jose del Pedregal, in the south of the capital. "His coward murder is in line with a campaign of selective crimes against union and people leaders grouped in the National Front of Popular Resistance" denounced PSOCA in a communiqué.

The party accused the government of Porfirio Lobo of intimidating the professor and trying to stop the fight for better pay and working conditions in the sector.

According to social organizations, since the coup of June 28 in Honduras were reported about 4.200 human rights violation among then more than 130 murders against members of the resistance and about 3.000 arrests.

10) Honduran reporter hides in hospital after attacks
Freddy Cuevas, Associated Press, Thursday, March 25, 2010; 12:49 PM
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/03/25/AR2010032501445.html

Tegucigalpa, Honduras - A Honduran television commentator is refusing to leave a hospital where she is recovering from a second assassination attempt, saying she wants safe passage out of Honduras.

Karol Cabrera, who blames the attacks on opponents of a coup that ousted President Manuel Zelaya last year, lost her 16-year-old pregnant daughter in the first attack, when gunmen opened fire on her car. Cabrera was wounded in the second attack earlier this month.

The National Resistance Front Against the Coup - the main organization opposing Zelaya's overthrow - has denied involvement in either attack.

Cabrera said doctors told her two week ago she could leave the military hospital where she recovering from gunshot wounds, but she refused. She said she wants to seek political asylum abroad and wants the government of President Porfirio Lobo, who was elected in November, to protect her.
[...]
As a commentator for state-run Channel 8, Cabrera backed the interim government that took over between Zelaya's June 28 ouster and Lobo's inauguration in January.
[...]

Colombia
11) UN report highlights journalist murders in Colombia
Cameron Sumpter, Colombia Reports, Wednesday, 24 March 2010 14:21
http://colombiareports.com/colombia-news/news/8847-unesco-alarmed-by-increasing-viloence-towards-journalists.html

A new report by UNESCO, the UN's Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, highlights threats to journalists in Colombia, noting that four reporters were killed in the country in the last four years, reports AFP.

The report, titled "The Safety of Journalists and the Risk of Impunity," which will be published Thursday, shows that Colombia has seen more journalists murdered in the last four years than Brazil, which had three murders; El Salvador, Ecuador, Guatemala, and Venezuela, which each had two; and Honduras which had one.

Mexico had the highest number of journalist killings, with eleven over the period.

The report expresses alarm that most reporters killed around the world last year were not operating in war zones, but were rather covering local news stories on corruption, human rights abuses and drug trafficking. "Unfortunately, the frequency of violence against journalists is increasing and this poses a grave threat to freedom of expression and to our ability to seek the truth," says the UNESCO report.

A Colombian radio reporter was killed in the northern department of Cordoba on Saturday, following her investigations into local paramilitaries.

Despite the high murder rate demonstrated in the report, the figure of four journalists killed in Colombia in the four-year period actually represents a fall in the rate of journalist killings, which numbered eighteen in the years 2002 - 2005, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.

-
Robert Naiman
Just Foreign Policy
www.justforeignpolicy.org

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.


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