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JFP 6/3: Ex UN Official Urges Irish-Americans to Defend the Rachel Corrie
Submitted by Robert Naiman on 3 June 2010 - 5:43pm
Just Foreign Policy News
June 3, 2010
Ex UN Official Denis Halliday Urges Irish-Americans to Defend the Rachel Corrie
Former UN Assistant Secretary General Denis Halliday said it was imperative that the Obama administration support Ireland's call on the Israeli authorities to ensure safe passage for the Irish-flagged Rachel Corrie to carry humanitarian aid to Gaza, the Irish Times reports. Speaking by satellite phone from on board the Rachel Corrie, Halliday called on Irish-Americans to lobby the Obama administration.
Tell Obama: Speak Up for the Free Passage of the Rachel Corrie to Gaza
In his speech in Cairo, President Obama urged the Palestinian people to press their claims for justice through nonviolence. Now that the Israeli military has attacked the Gaza Freedom Flotilla, President Obama should follow through on his Cairo speech, and demand free passage to Gaza for the Irish-flagged Rachel Corrie.
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Kucinich Circulating Letter Regarding Attack on Gaza Freedom Flotilla
Calls for an independent international inquiry.
Beverly Bell: Poverty-Wage Assembly Plants as Development Strategy in Haiti: An Interview With the Center for the Promotion of Women Workers
Congress passed legislation, the Haiti Economic Lift Program (HELP) Act, that would extend and expand current trade law with Haiti to increase US imports of Haitian assembled textiles. But the assembly industry in Haiti has not provided poverty alleviation. Most factory workers live direly impoverished lives on the industry minimum wage of 125 gourdes (US$3.09) per day.
[The $3.09 "outsourcing" minimum wage was won by the export sector in defiance of a law passed by the Haitian Parliament raising the wage to $5/day, see http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-naiman/haitian-garment-workers-s_b_473262.html - JFP.]
1) Former UN Assistant Secretary General Denis Halliday called on the Irish Government to highlight the situation of the Gaza-bound Irish aid ship Rachel Corrie with the Obama administration, the Irish Times reports. "We also feel there is a role for the Irish diaspora here, in the US and elsewhere to lobby politicians over this continued illegal blockade of Gaza, which is causing such hardship to the Palestinian people," Halliday said.
2) FGM activist Adam Shapiro says the Rachel Corrie is delaying its voyage for a while to get equipped with video capabilities and satellite transmission to record what is happening at any given moment on the vessel, CNN reports. "Israel will be sensitive to the fact that we'll be recording what's happening and streaming it live," said Shapiro. He said the Rachel Corrie will head toward Gaza within the week.
3) The way US diplomats have spent the last few days shows how differently the U.S. treats Israel and Iran, Stephen Kinzer writes. After Monday's deadly Israeli raid, U.S. envoy George Mitchell urged Israeli and Palestinian leaders to look for common ground. US diplomats at the UN, meanwhile, are working intensely to win support for punishing new sanctions on Iran. Their message about Iran is the precise opposite of the one Mitchell is preaching to Israelis and Palestinians: Negotiations are hopeless, oppressive regimes understand only force, and all compromise equals appeasement. Israel's raid on the Gaza flotilla, like the Gaza occupation itself, has evoked only mild clucks of disapproval in Washington. But when Turkey and Brazil worked out the framework of a possible nuclear compromise with Iran, US officials angrily rejected it. Instead of treating Israel and Iran so differently, the West might try placing them in the same policy basket, and seeking equivalent concessions from both.
4) The Obama administration said it had warned Israel's government repeatedly to use "caution and restraint" with aid boats bound for Gaza, the Washington Post reports. White House officials said there is a growing consensus within the administration that U.S. and Israeli policy toward Gaza must change.
5) A U.S. citizen was among the nine people killed in the Israeli raid, the Washington Post reports. Israel's diplomatic isolation continued to grow Thursday as South Africa and Ecuador announced they were recalling their ambassadors to Israel, following the lead of Turkey, which did so immediately after the incident. Nicaragua announced Wednesday it was suspending diplomatic relations.
6) A retired military officer says some CIA officers involved in the agency's drone strike program in Pakistan and elsewhere are privately expressing their opposition to the program within the agency, because it is helping al Qaeda and its allies recruit, Gareth Porter reports. The officer says the people "at the top" of the CIA are also "not believers": the program is being driven by Obama, not the CIA, based on the political belief that the US must appear to be doing something, even if it is useless or counterproductive.
7) A senior UN official said Wednesday that the growing use of armed drones by the US to kill terrorism suspects was undermining global constraints on the use of military force, the New York Times reports. Philip Alston, the UN special representative on extrajudicial executions, said the US' "expansive and open-ended interpretation of the right to self-defense goes a long way towards destroying the prohibition on the use of armed force contained in the U.N. Charter."
8) More than 40 percent of Norwegians are already boycotting Israeli products or are in favor of doing so, AFP reports. Only 29.4 percent said they were opposed to such a boycott. Norway's health minister called for the international community to boycott arms trade with Israel, in line with Norway's existing policy.
9) Iran's IAEA ambassador said Iran is enriching nuclear material to higher levels as a backup plan because it fears it will not receive foreign fuel for a medical research reactor, Reuters reports. Asked if Iran would stop 20 percent enrichment if the fuel swap took place, something analysts have suggested as a compromise to reassure the West, Soltanieh said: "We have to be very careful not to create precedents." Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said "When we don't need 20 percent uranium, we will not produce it."
10) The US said Thursday it hopes for a UN Security Council vote by June 21 on new sanctions against Iran, AFP reports. Senior US officials said Friday they were forging ahead with a resolution without Brazil and Turkey, who brokered a nuclear fuel swap deal with Iran aimed at forestalling sanctions.
11) Colombian media reported that Senators Dodd and Warner told Colombia President Uribe that the FTA will not be be implemented before the end of the year. Republican senators continue to push for the passage of the deal. On Tuesday sixteen U.S. senators sent a letter to Obama asserting that he should set a date for Congress to ratify the stalled agreement.
12) The US media has claimed that Chavez has sharply curtailed press freedoms in Venezuela, writes Fernando Sulichin in the Huffington Post. But a recent press conference in Caracas with director Oliver Stone for the Caracas premiere of Stone's new documentary about South American leaders, "South of the Border," showed that it isn't so. In fact the majority of the media in Venezuela is opposed to the government, often in a highly politicized way. Sulichin is the producer of the documentary, which opens in New York at the end of June.
1) Call for EU and US to be informed of ship's situation
Lorna Siggins, Irish Times, Thu, Jun 03, 2010
The 'Rachel Corrie': Former UN assistant secretary general Denis Halliday has called on the Government to highlight the situation of the Gaza-bound Irish aid ship Rachel Corrie with US president Barack Obama's administration and the EU.
Speaking by satellite phone on board the Rachel Corrie yesterday several hundred miles from Gaza, Mr Halliday said it was imperative that the Obama administration and the EU supported Ireland's call on the Israeli authorities to ensure safe passage for the ship, which is carrying aid supplies. "We feel that, like the UN, the EU has failed the Palestinians and we feel that the EU could exert more pressure in terms of trade links, which the Israelis are very dependent on," he said.
Mr Halliday, a Connemara resident, confirmed that Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheál Martin had been in phone contact with the ship over the past two days. "We are very grateful to the Minister, who has been completely supportive, but we need more," Mr Halliday said.
"We also feel there is a role for the Irish diaspora here, in the US and elsewhere to lobby politicians over this continued illegal blockade of Gaza, which is causing such hardship to the Palestinian people."
The 1,200-tonne Rachel Corrie, registered in Cambodia but owned by the Free Gaza Movement in Ireland, was half way between Crete and Libya yesterday and still several days' steaming distance from its destination.
The estimated time of arrival off the Gaza coast yesterday was tomorrow night or early Saturday.
The ship would refuse an offer of an Israeli escort that involved impounding its cargo of construction and educational materials, Mr Halliday said. "We are the only Gaza-bound aid ship left out here. We are determined to deliver our cargo, which includes 1,000 tonnes of cement and 20 tonnes of educational materials and toys, along with vital medical supplies."
However, the 15 crew and passengers would not put up any resistance if the ship is boarded, he added. "We will inform the Israeli authorities by VHF radio that we have put up our hands," he said. "We are an unarmed, harmless, cosy, friendly group of Irish and Malaysians, including a Malaysian politician. Perhaps we can give Israel an opportunity to show that it does have some respect for human rights."
Mr Halliday admitted that the ship's passengers had been "very shocked" by Monday's raid by Israeli commandos on the main aid flotilla, which resulted in at least nine deaths and the detention of more than 600 activists, including several Irish.
Due to technical problems, the Rachel Corrie had been steaming several days behind. "The killings in international waters took our breath away, but the shock wore off and after some discussion on board it made us more determined to continue," Mr Halliday said.
2) Irish aid ship delays voyage to Gaza
Gaza-bound aid ship delays voyage to pick up video, satellite equipment
CNN, June 3, 2010
An Irish-owned aid ship headed for Gaza is delaying its voyage for a while to get equipped with video capabilities and satellite transmission to record what is happening at any given moment on the vessel, a Free Gaza Movement activist told CNN.
The MV Rachel Corrie, named for an American activist killed in Gaza several years ago, was expected to arrive late Friday or early Saturday off the coast of Gaza. Israel was offering to unload it in its Ashdod port, screen the material and then deliver it to Gaza, but fears of another high-seas confrontation were in the offing.
Adam Shapiro, Free Gaza board member, said the additions to the ship are being made for safety purposes. Shapiro said Israel has made it clear it would intercept the ship and he hopes recording technology on the ship will make a difference in the behavior of any soldiers who board the vessel. "Israel will be sensitive to the fact that we'll be recording what's happening and streaming it live," said Shapiro, who didn't identify where the Rachel Corrie is docking. He said it will head toward Gaza within the week.
An Israeli government official, who spoke on background because of the diplomatic sensitivity of the issue, told CNN the government is offering to receive the ship's cargo, as it has offered other vessels, if it docks at Ashdod port. That was the same deal rejected by the flotilla of six ships bound for Gaza before Israeli commandos raided one of them Monday.
Haaretz, the Israeli daily newspaper, reported on Thursday that a "diplomatic solution" that would allow the vessel to dock at Ashdod "seems imminent." Citing European diplomats and senior Foreign Ministry officials in Jerusalem, the newspaper said "quiet messages have been exchanged over the past few days between Israel and the group operating the ship, to allow it to dock" in Israel.
But Shapiro said people on the ship deny that report and believe it is part of a misinformation campaign by the Israeli government. Free Gaza Movement activist Derek Graham has said that the plan was for the Rachel Corrie to be unloaded in Gaza and then return to Ireland.
The Irish government is asking that Israel not interfere with the ship. Haaretz said it would have been in the Monday flotilla that had been halted by Israel but was delayed because of technical problems. According to the Irish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the vessel which is owned by the Irish Free Gaza movement, sailed from Dundalk, Ireland in mid-May. Aboard are a number of Irish citizens.
Ireland's minister of Foreign Affairs, Micheal Martin, has told the lower house of the Irish parliament that he has asked the Israeli ambassador to convey to his government his request that, "following the tragedy which has occurred, the Rachel Corrie be allowed to continue unimpeded, and to deliver its cargo to Gaza."
"We will be watching this situation very closely - as indeed will the world - and it is imperative that Israel avoid any action which leads to further bloodshed," he said.
The Rachel Corrie left Ireland laden with 550 tons of cement, educational materials, toys and medical equipment - the latest effort by peace activists to deliver humanitarian goods and break Israel's blockade, according to aid organizers.
Israel says it needs to have its naval blockade of Gaza to stop weaponry from being transported to militants there intent on attacking Israel. The Free Gaza Movement said customs officials and a senator from the Irish Green Party inspected the vessel and found no weapons.
3) Treat Israel Like Iran
Stephen Kinzer, Daily Beast, June 2, 2010 | 10:46pm http://www.thedailybeast.com/blogs-and-stories/2010-06-02/israel-iran-twin-pariahs/
[Stephen Kinzer is an award-winning foreign correspondent. His book, Reset: Iran, Turkey and America's Future, will be published June 7.]
Quick, name the rogue state in the Middle East. Hints: It has an active nuclear-weapons program but conducts it in secret; its security organs regularly kill perceived enemies of the state, both at home and abroad; its political process has been hijacked by religious fundamentalists who believe they are doing God's will; its violent recklessness destabilizes the world's most volatile region; and it seems as deaf to reason as it is impervious to pressure. Also: Its name begins with "I".
How you answer this riddle depends in part on where you sit. From an American perspective, the obvious answer is Iran. Iran seems alone and friendless, a pariah in the world, and deservedly so given its long list of sins. In Washington's view, Iran poses one of the major threats to global security.
Many people in the world, however, see Iran quite differently: as just another struggling country with valuable resources, no more or less threatening than any other, ruled by a regime that, while thuggish, wins grudging admiration for standing up to powerful bullies. They are angrier at Israel, which they see as violent, repressive and contemptuous of international law, but nonetheless endlessly coddled by the United States.
The way American diplomats have spent the last few days shows how differently the U.S. treats Israel and Iran. After Monday's deadly Israeli raid on a flotilla of ships bringing relief aid to Gaza, a U.S. envoy, George Mitchell, flew to Tel Aviv and then traveled to Ramallah. He urged Israeli and Palestinian leaders to salvage whatever possible from the debacle and look for common ground, even though prospects for peace are remote.
American diplomats at the United Nations, meanwhile, are working intensely to win support for punishing new sanctions on Iran. Their message about Iran is the precise opposite of the one Mitchell is preaching to Israelis and Palestinians: Negotiations are hopeless, oppressive regimes understand only force, and all compromise equals appeasement.
It is always difficult to compare the danger one country poses to global security with that posed by another, and it is natural to treat old friends differently from longtime enemies. Israel is a far more open and free society than Iran. Millions of Americans feel personally tied to its fate. Nonetheless the contrast in American attitudes toward the two countries is striking. Toward Israel the attitude is: You may be rascals sometimes, but whatever pranks you pull, you're our friend and we'll forgive you. Toward Iran, it's the opposite: You are our implacable enemy, so nothing you do short of abject surrender will satisfy us.
This dichotomy is now on especially vivid display. Israel's raid on the Gaza flotilla, like the Gaza occupation itself, has evoked only mild clucks of disapproval in Washington. But when Turkey and Brazil worked out the framework of a possible nuclear compromise with Iran a couple of weeks ago, American officials angrily rejected it.
Instead of treating Israel and Iran so differently, the West might try placing them in the same policy basket, and seeking equivalent concessions from both.
It is easy to denounce Israel and Iran as disturbers of whatever peace exists in the Middle East, and to lament that the region will be in turmoil as long as they keep behaving as they do. More important is the fact that both countries are powerful, and can upset any accord to which they are not a party. Punishing, sanctioning, and isolating them would be emotionally satisfying, but it is not likely to help calm the region.
Instead of pushing Israel and Iran into corners, making them feel besieged and friendless, the world should realize that without both of them, there will be no peace in the Middle East. This requires a new, more creative approach to the challenge of protecting Israel over the long term. It also requires a willingness to engage Iran. As Lyndon Johnson famously reasoned when he reappointed J. Edgar Hoover to head the FBI, "It's probably better to have him inside the tent pissing out than outside the tent pissing in."
Treating Israel and Iran more equally would also mean judging their nuclear programs by equivalent standards. If Israel and Iran are placed under the same set of rigorous nuclear safeguards, the Middle East will quickly become a safer place.
In the same spirit of equality, the world should do whatever possible to encourage higher human-rights standards in Israel and Iran. Ruling groups in both countries treat some honest critics as traitors or terrorists. They rule without the tolerance that illuminates Jewish and Persian history.
Israel and Iran have come to pose parallel challenges. They are the region's outcasts-yet the region will never stabilize until they are brought back out of the geopolitical cold. Rather than stoke their escalating hostility, the U.S. should work to reduce tensions between them. Holding them to the same standards would be a start.
4) U.S. urged Israel to use caution and restraint with aid boats heading to Gaza
Scott Wilson and Glenn Kessler, Washington Post, Thursday, June 3, 2010; A01
The Obama administration said Wednesday that it had warned Israel's government repeatedly to use "caution and restraint" with half a dozen aid boats bound for the Gaza Strip before Israeli commandos raided the flotilla this week in an operation that killed nine people.
"We communicated with Israel through multiple channels many times regarding the flotilla," P.J. Crowley, a State Department spokesman, said in a statement issued in response to a question from The Washington Post. "We emphasized caution and restraint given the anticipated presence of civilians, including American citizens."
The acknowledgment shed new light on the administration's contact with the Israeli government before the Monday morning raid, which has inflamed international opinion against Israel and complicated President Obama's efforts to improve U.S. relations with the Islamic world. White House officials said Wednesday that there is a growing consensus within the administration that U.S. and Israeli policy toward Gaza must change, even as Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu flatly rejected calls for his country to lift its blockade of the Palestinian territory.
5) U.S. citizen among those killed in Israeli flotilla raid
Janine Zacharia, Scott Wilson and Glenn Kessler, Washington Post, Thursday, June 3, 2010; 3:25 PM
Jerusalem - A U.S. citizen of Turkish origin was among the nine people killed in a botched Israeli effort to stop a Turkish aid ship from reaching the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, a Turkish official said Thursday. "It's a Turkish-origin American citizen. We know that," the official said by phone from Turkey, adding that more details were not yet available.
The nine bodies were flown home from Israel to Turkey on Wednesday, along with hundreds of activists, aboard a Turkish plane. Israel was not able to identify the bodies because the dead had no identification on them, Israeli officials said.
The American citizen was identified by the Anatolia news agency as Furkan Dogan, a 19-year-old student. His body had four bullet wounds to the head and one to the chest, the news agency reported.
White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said Thursday that President Obama expresses his deep condolences to his family. "Obviously this is extremely horrible news for them," Gibbs said. "Our ambassador [to Turkey] has been in touch with his father and I would reiterate that we have with the U.N. Security Council condemned the acts that have led to these deaths."
The killing of nine Turks has created enormous tensions in the relationship between Israel and Turkey.
Israel's diplomatic isolation continued to grow on Thursday as South Africa and Ecuador announced they were recalling their ambassadors to Israel for consultations, following the lead of Turkey, which did so immediately after the incident. Nicaragua announced Wednesday it was suspending diplomatic relations.
6) CIA Drone Operators Oppose Strikes as Helping al Qaeda
Gareth Porter, Inter Press Service, Jun 3
Washington- Some CIA officers involved in the agency's drone strikes programme in Pakistan and elsewhere are privately expressing their opposition to the programme within the agency, because it is helping al Qaeda and its allies recruit, according to a retired military officer in contact with them.
"Some of the CIA operators are concerned that, because of its blowback effect, it is doing more harm than good," said Jeffrey Addicott, former legal adviser to U.S. Special Forces and director of the Centre for Terrorism Law at St Mary's University in San Antonio, Texas, in an interview with IPS.
Addicott said the CIA operatives he knows have told him the drone strikes are being used effectively by al Qaeda and Taliban leaders to recruit more militants.
CIA officers "are very upset" with the drone strike policy, Addicott said. "They'll do what the boss says, but they view it as a harmful exercise."
"They say we're largely killing rank and file Pakistani Taliban, and they are the ones who are agitated by the campaign," he added.
Because the drone strikes kill innocent civilians and bystanders along with leaders from far away, they "infuriate the Muslim male", said Addicott, thus making them more willing to join the movement. The men in Pakistan's tribal region "view Americans as cowards and weasels", he added.
Addicott retired from the U.S. Army as a lieutenant colonel in 2000 after serving for six years as senior legal adviser to the Special Operations Forces but is still a consultant for the U.S. military on issues of terrorism and law.
Addicot said the CIA officers expressing concern about the blowback effects of the drone policy are "mid-grade and below".
They learned about the impact of drone strikes on recruiting by extremist leaders in Pakistan from intelligence gathered by CIA and the National Security Agency, which intercepts electronic communications, according to Addicott.
They have informed high-level CIA officials about their concerns that the programme is backfiring, Addicott told IPS. "The people at the top are not believers," said Addicott, referring to the CIA. "They know that the objective is not going to be achieved."
The complaints by CIA operatives about the drone strikes' blowback effect reported by Addicott are identical to warnings by military and intelligence officials reported in April 2009 by Jonathan Landay of McClatchy newspapers. Landay quoted an intelligence official with deep involvement in both Afghanistan and Pakistan as saying al Qaeda and the Taliban had used the strikes in propaganda to "portray Americans as cowards who are afraid to face their enemies and risk death".
The official called the operations "a major catalyst" for the jihadi movement in Pakistan. A military official involved in counterterrorism operations told Landay the drone strikes were a "recruiting windfall for the Pakistani Taliban".
The CIA operatives' opposition to the drone strikes programme extends to Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia and Sudan, all of which now have confirmed deaths from drone strikes, according to Addicott.
The official goal of the geographical expansion of drone strikes is to destroy or disrupt al Qaeda. But al Qaeda is less a major organisation than "a mentality" in most Middle Eastern countries, Addicott said, and the CIA officers fear that the strikes will only reinforce that way of thinking. Addicott said the drone programme has been driven by President Barack Obama, rather than by the CIA. "Obama's trying to show people that we're winning," he added.
The programme was originally authorised by President George W. Bush against a relatively short list of high-level al Qaeda officials, and with highly restrictive conditions on approval of each strike. The strike could not be approved unless the target was identified with high confidence, and a complete assessment of "collateral damage" had to ensure against significant civilian casualties.
In early 2008, however, Bush approved the removal of previous restraints. As recounted by David Sanger in his 2009 book, "The Inheritance", Bush authorised strikes against targets merely based on visual evidence of a "typical" al Qaeda motorcade or a group entering a house that had been linked to al Qaeda or its Pakistani Taliban allies.
As a top national security aide to Bush acknowledged to Sanger, the shift was "risky" because, "you can hit the wrong house or mistakenly misidentify the motorcade". It also meant that anyone who could be linked in some way to al Qaeda, the Taliban or "associated forces" could now be targeted for drone attacks.
The Obama administration has continued to justify the programme as aimed at high-value targets, suggesting that it can degrade al Qaeda as an organisation by a "decapitation" strategy, according to Addicott. However administration officials now privately admit that the objective of the programme is to "demoralise the rank and file", he said.
That won't work, according to Addicott, because, "These are tribal people. They don't view life and death the way we expect them to." In effect, the drone strikes programme has become an "attrition" strategy for Pakistan, Addicott said.
Such a strategy in Pakistan's tribal region appears to be futile. Madrassas in the region have churned out tens of thousands of young men with militant views, and their activities are spread across hundreds of sites in the region. A U.S. military intelligence official told Bill Roggio of The Long War Journal in 2009 that there were 157 training camps and "more than 400 support locations" in the tribal northwest.
Within the administration, it appears that the logic behind the programme is that it has to be seen to be doing something about al Qaeda. "The argument I get from people associated with the programme," said Micah Zenko, a fellow in Conflict Prevention at the Council on Foreign Relations, "is the same as the one [CIA Director Leon] Panetta gave last year."
"Very frankly," Panetta declared May 18, 2009, "it's the only game in town in terms of confronting or trying to disrupt the al Qaeda leadership."
Zenko, who has studied the bureaucratic in-fighting surrounding such limited uses of military force, told IPS drone strikes have appealed to the Obama administration because they offer "clear results that are obtained quickly and are easily measured".
All the other tools that might be used to try to reduce al Qaeda influence in Pakistan and elsewhere take a long time, require cooperation among multiple actors and have no powerful political constituency behind them, Zenko observed.
Dissent from those who are involved in the programme itself has little effect when it is up against what is perceived as political pressure to show progress against al Qaeda - no matter how illusory.
7) U.N. Report Highly Critical of U.S. Drone Attacks
Charlie Savage, New York Times, June 2, 2010
Washington - A senior United Nations official said on Wednesday that the growing use of armed drones by the United States to kill terrorism suspects was undermining global constraints on the use of military force. He warned that the American example would lead to a chaotic world as the new weapons technology inevitably spread.
In a 29-page report to the United Nations Human Rights Council, the official, Philip Alston, the United Nations special representative on extrajudicial executions, called on the United States to exercise greater restraint in its use of drones in places like Pakistan and Yemen, outside the war zones in Afghanistan and Iraq.
The report - the most extensive effort by the United Nations to grapple with the legal implications of armed drones - also proposed a summit meeting of "key military powers" to clarify legal limits on such killings.
In an interview, Mr. Alston said the United States appeared to think that it was "facing a unique threat from transnational terrorist networks" that justified its effort to put forward legal justifications that would make the rules "as flexible as possible."
But that example, he said, could quickly lead to a situation in which dozens of countries carry out "competing drone attacks" outside their borders against people "labeled as terrorists by one group or another."
"I'm particularly concerned that the United States seems oblivious to this fact when it asserts an ever-expanding entitlement for itself to target individuals across the globe," Mr. Alston said in an accompanying statement. "But this strongly asserted but ill-defined license to kill without accountability is not an entitlement which the United States or other states can have without doing grave damage to the rules designed to protect the right to life and prevent extrajudicial executions."
The report calls on nations like Pakistan to publicly disclose the scope and limits of any permission granted for drone strikes on their territories. It also calls on drone operators like the United States to disclose the legal justification for such killings, the criteria and safeguards used when selecting targets, and the process for investigating attacks that kill civilians.
The United Nations report agrees that drone killings can be lawful in battlefield combat. But it says that the United States is stretching the limits of who can be lawful targets.
For example, it criticized the United States for singling out drug lords in Afghanistan suspected of giving money to the Taliban, a policy it said was contrary to the traditional understanding of the laws of war. Similarly, it said, terrorism financiers, propagandists and others who are not fighters should face criminal prosecution, not summary killing.
It also said that a targeted killing outside of an armed conflict "is almost never likely to be legal." In particular, it rejected "pre-emptive self-defense" as a justification for killing terrorism suspects far from combat zones.
"This expansive and open-ended interpretation of the right to self-defense goes a long way towards destroying the prohibition on the use of armed force contained in the U.N. Charter," Mr. Alston said. "If invoked by other states, in pursuit of those they deem to be terrorists and to have attacked them, it would cause chaos."
8) Over 40 percent of Norwegians want to boycott Israel: poll
AFP, Thu, Jun 03, 2010, 20:07 GMT
Oslo, Jun 02, 2010 - More than 40 percent of Norwegians are already boycotting Israeli products or are in favour of doing so, according to a poll published Wednesday, two days after Israel's deadly raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla.
The survey, conducted on Tuesday by the InFact institute and published Wednesday in the Verdens Gang tabloid, showed that 9.5 percent of the Norwegians questioned were already boycotting Israeli products, while 33.5 percent said they would like to.
Only 29.4 percent of the 1,028 people polled said they were opposed to such a boycott, while 27.6 percent said they had no opinion on the issue.
Kristin Halvorsen, Norway's health minister and head of the Socialist Left party, called on Tuesday for the international community to boycott arms trade with Israel, in line with Norway's existing policy.
Norway on Monday summoned the Israeli ambassador in Oslo, condemning the raid as "unacceptable" and calling for "an immediate, independent international inquiry."
Three Norwegians were among the 682 people from 42 countries aboard the six ships that were towed to an Israeli port after Monday's bloody raid that left nine pro-Palestinian activists dead.
9) Iran says enriching to higher levels as backup plan
Sylvia Westall, Reuters, Wed, Jun 2 2010
Vienna - Iran is enriching nuclear material to higher levels as a backup plan because it fears it will not receive foreign fuel for a medical research reactor, Tehran's envoy to the U.N. atomic watchdog said on Wednesday.
Iran started refining uranium to 20 percent purity in February saying it wanted to produce fuel for a reactor that makes isotopes for treating cancer after talks over a fuel swap deal proposal with big powers stalled.
The move sparked Western concerns as it brings the material closer to the level of refinement needed for atomic arms. "We have to do it since we have been facing a lack of any legally-binding assurance of supply," Ali Asghar Soltanieh told reporters. Iran says its nuclear work is for peaceful uses only.
Under a proposal drafted by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in October, Iran would part with 1,200 kg of its low-enriched uranium - enough for an atom bomb if enriched to higher levels - in return for the special fuel rods.
Last month Brazil and Turkey resurrected parts of the plan, seen as a possible way to ease nuclear tensions with the West, and Iran said it agreed to it. But Western officials have voiced doubts over the new plan because of Iran's launch of higher scale enrichment and the growth in its low-enriched uranium stockpile.
Asked if Iran would stop 20 percent enrichment if the fuel swap took place, something analysts have suggested as a compromise to reassure the West, Soltanieh said: "We have to be very careful not to create precedents."
Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki also gave ambiguous signals on a trip to Brussels on Wednesday. "When we don't need 20 percent uranium, we will not produce it," he said. He urged world powers to cooperate with Iran over its nuclear programme and said new sanctions would not persuade Tehran to abandon it.
10) US seeks UN vote on Iran sanctions by June 21
AFP, June 3, 2010
Washington - The United States said Thursday it hopes for a UN Security Council vote by June 21 on tough new sanctions against Iran over what it calls its continued failure to curb its nuclear ambitions.
"We are going to put forward this resolution in the coming days. And we expect all responsible members of the international community... to support the resolution," State Department spokesman Philip Crowley told reporters. "The president (Barack Obama) has indicated he wants to see this accomplished by the end of spring," he said, later clarifying that he meant a vote on the resolution by June 20 or June 21.
A senior State Department official later told reporters on the condition of anonymity that "sometime between now and June 20 I expect that this issue will come to a vote before the Security Council."
Senior US officials said Friday they were forging ahead with a resolution without Brazil and Turkey, two non-permanent Security Council members that brokered a nuclear fuel swap deal with Iran aimed at forestalling sanctions.
11) US-Colombia FTA will not pass this year
Camilla Pease-Watkin, Colombia Reports, Wednesday, 02 June 2010 09:05
U.S. Democratic senators met with Colombian President Alvaro Uribe to say that the two countries' free trade agreement (FTA) will not be implemented before the end of the year, reported Colombian media.
Senators Christopher Dodd and Mark Warner met the Colombian president in the Casa de Nariño to discuss the pending FTA. According to the senators the deal will not be ratified this year, primarily due to a lack of time.
Dodd explained that only 40 days of legislative sessions remain before Congress breaks for its summer recess, and this did not leave sufficient time for the FTA to be finalized.
Republican senators in the U.S. continue to push for the passage of the free trade deal with Colombia. On Tuesday sixteen U.S. senators sent a letter to President Barack Obama asserting that he should set a date for Congress to ratify the stalled agreement, stating that it would act as "a catalyst for significant economic growth and job creation in the United States."
12) Dispatch from South of the Border.
Fernando Sulichin, Huffington Post, June 2, 2010 09:38 AM
[Sulichin is producer of the new Oliver Stone documentary, "South of the Border," of which JFP President Mark Weisbrot was co-author. The film opens in New York at the end of June.]
The Caracas premiere for South of the Border on Friday May 28, the first of a series of special screenings that will bring director Oliver Stone and the film's producers to Quito, Ecuador; Sao Paolo, Brazil; Cochabamba, Bolivia; and Buenos Aires, Argentina in the span of one week - was a true homecoming for the film. There were banners promoting the film in the streets of Caracas and commercials all over the airwaves. Inside the theater at Caracas' huge and beautiful Theresa Carenno cultural center, President Chavez introduced the film. Sitting amid leading cultural figures, ambassadors to Venezuela from all over the world, and the country's championship women's softball team, dozens of Chavistas in red shirts made the film feel like a live concert, cheering raucously throughout, and booing when footage was shown of the 2002 coup that briefly removed the president from power.
We embarked on this tour of South America not just to screen South of the Border for local audiences here, but to promote debate around the ideas contained in the film - the media's amazing misrepresentations of South America, the damage done by the IMF's neoliberal economic policies throughout the region, and the common goals of South American independence and regional integration espoused by the presidents we had interviewed, including Chavez, Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa, Bolivian President Evo Morales, Lula da Silva of Brazil, the Kirchners of Argentina, and Fernando Lugo of Paraguay.
Those ideas were sharply debated in our first press conference in Caracas Friday afternoon, as more than 70 reporters, equally divided among those loyal to President Chavez and those opposed to him representing the range of polarized opinion in the country, jammed a conference room at the Hotel Melia and grilled Oliver, economist and co-writer Mark Weisbrot and myself about the film's portrayal of the president and his policies.
The US media has claimed that Chavez has sharply curtailed press freedoms in the country. But anyone attending that press conference, or watching the daily attacks on the government and Chavez in the major media, can attest to the continued existence of a strong and vibrant oppositional media culture in Venezuela. In fact the majority of the media in Venezuela is opposed to the government, often in a highly politicized way. The president himself demonstrated a fresh willingness to debate his critics in the international media on our last night in Caracas, conducting lengthy interviews with the BBC, CNN and the Financial Times from his office at Miraflores Palace.
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