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North and South Korea Heading for Collision in both Real and Virtual Worlds?

August 31st, 2012 - by admin

101 East / Al Jazeera – 2012-08-31 23:56:05


Korea: Wired
Could North and South Korea be heading for a spectacular collision in both the real and virtual worlds?

(August 31. 2012) — It is a spectacular collision of real and virtual worlds and the consequences are potentially earth shattering. On the one side, there is South Korea — the most wired place on earth, with an internet that sizzles into 90 percent of all homes and a national obsession with internet games.

On the other, there is North Korea — one of the most paranoid and dangerously unpredictable places on earth, with a million-strong army and, as this film reveals, a super-secret team of state-authorised hackers looking to bring chaos to its neighbour and beyond.

In South Korea, millions are addicted to the action unfolding on their screens — games bristling with powerful weaponry, requiring lightning-fast trigger skills to survive and played out on virtual battle grounds.

Internet gaming is a massive phenomenon in a country with super-fast Internet, with its own superstars, big bucks and even its own top-rating television shows. But it also has its downsides.

The number of Koreans addicted to gaming is estimated to be in the millions. So-called PC Bangs in places like the capital, Seoul, are filled with gamers who do not know what time of the day or night it is — and who play for days on end.

A number of murders and deaths have been linked to the gaming obsession, while special psychiatric units have been established to deal with the problem. But as a generation binges on Internet games, a very real enemy is watching and looking for vulnerabilities in the national grid.

Reporter Mark Willacy has tracked down key defectors with first-hand knowledge of North Korea’s clandestine cyber operations. They have provided intimate details of a crack team of tech whizzes training their sights on South Korea’s computer grid, planting viruses and dislocating and disabling important parts of the system — the financial sector, transport, internet service providers and portals.

So, is it Game On?

101 East airs each week at the following times GMT: Thursday: 2230; Friday: 0930; Saturday: 0330; Sunday: 1630.

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

War and the Environment: Some Examples

August 31st, 2012 - by admin

Peace Pledge Union – 2012-08-31 23:51:21


The Devil’s Garden: 1942

Some 18 million landmines are buried in the sands of El Alamein, most of them laid by the British in their fight against Rommel; he gave the region its nickname. At first it was common for mines to wipe out whole herds of cattle and clans of camel-herders. Over the years the Bedouin have learned what to look out for — but sand shifts the mines, rains dislodge them, and rust in the detonators sparks off spontaneous explosions.

Omar Maazik, blinded when he picked up a detonator in 1984, has lost four relatives. ‘Maybe the ones who die are luckier. But whether we die or are blinded, it’s the same thing: our families have no-one left to support them.’ Bedouin men hold up their mutilated hands ironically to show to British visitors. ‘Ask the British why they don’t come to take the mines away. There are people who will die from the mines who are not yet born.’

Killing a Culture: 1962-71

US military carried out a massive herbicidal programme in Vietnam for almost a decade. With 72 million litres of chemical spray, they defoliated the forests which provided cover for guerrillas.

‘All our coconut trees died,’ recalled a woman ten years later, in hospital with a third miscarriage, and also having chemotherapy; she asked not to be indentified. ‘Some of our animals died, and those that lived had deformed offspring. The seeds of the rice became very small, and we couldn’t use them for replanting.’

People exposed to the spray suffered headaches, vomiting, diarrhoea, weakness and chest complaints. Meanwhile, Agent Orange’s carcinogenic dioxin was sinking into the soil, washing into the sea, and entering the food chain, where it is still at work today.

Children born since the war have consumed high levels of dioxin; and many fathered by men exposed to the spray (many of whom are now dead or suffering from cancers) have spina bifida and other congenital abnormalities.

Military on the ground operated a scorched earth policy: ‘Huts and haystacks were set aflame; rice caches were soaked with aviation fuel and burned. The livestock couldn’t be left, lest it feed the communists, so we shot pigs and chickens and machine-gunned water buffalo.’

One soldier stopped to examine a bamboo waterwheel thoughtfully. ‘That waterwheel was as efficient as any device our engineers could produce. The knowledge that built it was being systematically destroyed.’

IMAGES OF DEVASTATED BATTLEFIELDS are all too familiar. A German officer in 1918 described ‘dumb, black stumps of shattered trees which still stick up where there used to be villages. Flayed by splinters of bursting shells, they stand like corpses upright. Not a blade of grass anywhere. Just miles of flat, empty, broken and tumbled stone.’ The ploughs in Flanders fields still turn up human bones every year.

But twentieth century technology, busily applied to the practice of war, has ensured a more lethal harvest. For example, landmines: planted in millions in war-torn countries across the world, killing and maiming long after wars are over, and denying agricultural use of the land in which they lurk.

A Khmer Rouge general called them ‘the perfect soldier’: cheap, efficient, expendable, never hungry, never needing sleep. But eighty percent of landmine victims are civilians, not soldiers; and nearly a quarter of those are children.

Clearing mines is laborious, dangerous, and 30 times the cost of the weapon itself. So is clearing unexploded ordnance of all kinds (including worldwide munitions dumps which leak toxic wastes). The most severe UXO contamination in the world is in Laos. Bomb disposal teams have no records to work from. ‘It was America’s secret war and we can’t get the information,’ says a team leader. ‘All you can do is teach people to live with the bomb.’

But it’s the testing and manufacture of the nuclear bomb which has been responsible for some of the most profound and persistent environmental damage to life on earth. “The complex mixture of contaminants found on many military sites is dynamically moving through the environment,’ says a medical expert.

Radiation problems affect people near nuclear plants in every country that has them. Repair and maintenance of many installations and equipment are dangerously inadequate. Nuclear waste is a global problem that won’t go away, threatening environmental disaster on a vast scale: its poison, and toxic chemicals which accompany all weapon production, have travelled round the globe in the atmosphere and ocean currents; as well as water and air, they harm earth, plants that grow in it, and subsistent livestock and wildlife.

Human exposure to nuclear and chemical tests and factories, or via the food chain, results in miscarriages, malformed foetuses, high infant mortality and congenital disorders, leukaemia and other cancers, tumours, thyroid disorders, and complex debilitating and life-shortening syndromes. The number of reports of such harmful effects on health, habitat and culture — always at risk in war — continues to grow.

Oil Strike, 1991
A scientist from a Desert Laboratory toured Kuwait’s burnt-out oilfields. ‘I’ve never seen such devastation. Kuwait’s desert before the Gulf War was very healthy, despite centuries of nomadic grazing and decades of oil development.

It supported substantial greenery and wildlife. But now it’s coated in oil residues that affect water permeability, seed germination and microbial life. Plants are dying because they can’t breathe through blackened leaves under dark skies.’

Capping the burning oil wells took ten months. Crude oil released into the sea killed tens of thousands of marine birds and mammals. Oil from extinguished wells formed huge petrochemical lakes, destroying the land surface. Toxic smoke and fumes killed migratory birds and aggravated human chest conditions.

A veterinarian at the liberation of Kuwait said: ‘I saw birds just dropping out of the sky. Later I found a herd of dead camels covered with dead flies: whatever killed the camels killed the flies at the same time.’

Killing a Culture: 1962-71

US military carried out a massive herbicidal programme in Vietnam for almost a decade. With 72 million litres of chemical spray, they defoliated the forests which provided cover for guerrillas.

‘All our coconut trees died,’ recalled a woman ten years later, in hospital with a third miscarriage, and also having chemotherapy; she asked not to be indentified. ‘Some of our animals died, and those that lived had deformed offspring. The seeds of the rice became very small, and we couldn’t use them for replanting.’

People exposed to the spray suffered headaches, vomiting, diarrhoea, weakness and chest complaints. Meanwhile, Agent Orange’s carcinogenic dioxin was sinking into the soil, washing into the sea, and entering the food chain, where it is still at work today.

Children born since the war have consumed high levels of dioxin; and many fathered by men exposed to the spray (many of whom are now dead or suffering from cancers) have spina bifida and other congenital abnormalities.

Military on the ground operated a scorched earth policy: ‘Huts and haystacks were set aflame; rice caches were soaked with aviation fuel and burned. The livestock couldn’t be left, lest it feed the communists, so we shot pigs and chickens and machine-gunned water buffalo.’

One soldier stopped to examine a bamboo waterwheel thoughtfully. ‘That waterwheel was as efficient as any device our engineers could produce. The knowledge that built it was being systematically destroyed.’

Because war disrupts social structures, ecostructures are neglected and abused, with lasting and costly consequences.

All along the coast of Somalia huge sand dunes, 20 miles across, have crept from the sea towards the main coastal highway. ‘When the dunes hit the road, a new road will need to be built,’ says a Red Cross agronomist. ‘There used to be government plans to stop them. Now there’s nothing. The communication breakdown will be a social disaster.’

The ICRC, encouraging self-sufficiency and seawater fish in the conservative Somali diet, provided boats, nets, hooks and training — only to discover another of war’s ecological chain effects: the coastal waters off Somalia had become a free-for-all, all protocols for international fishing rights ignored. Resources are being fished unsustainably — ‘almost a mining operation,’ says a UN observer. Illegal fishermen now go armed, to protect what they perceive as their property rights.

It’s widely agreed that Sudan’s 1988 famine was caused by its protracted civil war. Southern Sudan has some of the most productive land in Africa; its people are hardworking farmers and herdsmen. If fighting stopped, they’d manage to survive. Instead, thousands have been forced out of their homes, thousands have died, and their land is uncared-for.

‘Most disasters are like this: a mess of war, displacement, hunger and ignorance,’ says Africa specialist John Ryle. ‘To feed the hungry and treat the sick in such circumstances is to become part of the war economy. Part of what aid workers do involves clearing up the chaos left by the global arms trade. They say they are saving lives — but for what? To be lost in endless wars that feed on aid?’

Meanwhile the worst outbreak of sleeping sickness this century has been spreading through the southwest; disease follows war everywhere.

The earth’s environment is battered by war, its preparation, practice and aftermath. It is destroyed as an act of war; it is used as a weapon of war; and its destruction is expensive and sometimes irreversible. Its integral involvement with war is often secret, widely ignored, and easily forgotten — until now.

Now, some people are beginning to talk and listen. Some people are beginning to act. There is a treaty to ban landmines now. There are moves towards tackling the problems of nuclear waste and weapon stockpiles. There is a growing global awareness — with charters to prove it — that war has created consequences which cross boundaries and ignore territories. Natural disasters are costly enough; the cost of war damage is much higher. Even if politics don’t achieve change, economics might.

It’s the natural tendency of governments to suppress or talk down bad news. So it’s the duty of the rest of us — to uncover and publicise it wherever possible. Without the facts, there can’t be informed public opinion, nor a corporate will to deal with the disasters that war creates — dangerous not only for combatants but for civilians, not only for the duration of the war but far into the future, not for warring countries alone but for the whole world.

In one way or another, everyone is already affected. In one way or another, the still-quickening rush to even greater disasters must be stopped.

And the first thing to go must be war

Soldiers besieging Sarajevo cut off the electricity supply, and with it the water pumps; people lining up at wells and stand pipes were easily and routinely picked off by snipers or attacked with mortar fire.

It’s been common practice in war zones for belligerents to fill wells with rocks, steal pipes and pumping systems, dynamite dams, and pollute what’s left. A revolt in Iraq was crushed by draining the marshes on which the rebels lived and depended. Millions have died in war zones and refugee camps from water-borne diseases.

And water looks increasingly likely to be a cause of war, because there is simply not enough of it to go round. In the mere 40 years up to 1990, global water-use tripled. Its use is inequitable and profligate where it’s relatively easy to get.

A western family can use 2000 litres a day; in Africa a few litres of untreated water each have to be carried, often for long distances or in war conditions. The world population is still growing, while water tables fall, underground aquifers empty, lakes shrink and wetlands dry up.

There are fears for war over the Euphrates, the object of a vast damming operation in Turkey which will cut Syria’s water supply by a third — and Turkey threatened to cut Syria off altogether for supporting Turkish dissidents. There are fears for war over the river Jordan: Israel, bent on self-sufficiency, claims all the water it can; but Syria, Jordan and the Palestinians need supplies too.

There are fears for war over the Nile: Egypt is diverting river water to irrigate the desert, to grow crops instead of importing them; eight more countries, including drought-devastated Sudan, are in the queue. President Sadat has said: ‘The only matter that could take Egypt to war again is water’

Peace Pledge Union, 41b Brecknock Road, London N7 0BT, Britain.
phone +44 020 7424 9444 fax: +44 020 7482 6390

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Australian NATO Troops Killed in Afghanistan

August 31st, 2012 - by admin

Al Jazeera – 2012-08-31 01:16:18


KABUL (August 30, 2012) — Three Australian troops in the NATO-led force in Afghanistan have been killed in an attack by a member of the Afghan security forces, officials said, in the latest insider attack that has caused growing dismay among coalition commanders.

The assault occurred in southern Uruzgan province in the evening ofn Wednesday, a US defence official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said. About 1,500 Australian troops are deployed in the province as part of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).

“An individual wearing an Afghan National Army uniform turned his weapon against International Security Assistance Force service members in southern Afghanistan yesterday, killing three,” ISAF said in a statement. “The incident is currently under investigation.”

NATO has struggled to counter the so-called green-on-blue attacks in which uniformed Afghans turn their weapons against their international allies. The scale of insider attacks by Afghan troops is unprecedented in modern warfare and threatens to derail the West’s carefully laid withdrawal plans, analysts say.

The assaults have surged this year, with more than 30 attacks claiming the lives of 45 coalition troops, mostly Americans, comprising about 14 per cent of the overall death toll in the war for 2012, according to ISAF.

Green-on-blue Attacks
August has been the worst month for so-called green-on-blue attacks in Afghanistan in more than 10 years of war, with nearly one in three international coalition deaths caused by Afghan allies.

The violence has troubled the international force, which has portrayed its partnership with Afghan troops as the key to a planned withdrawal of foreign combat troops over the next two years.

The commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan, US General John Allen, said last week the causes of the surge in insider attacks were varied, and that Taliban infiltration only accounted for about a quarter of the incidents.

He said the recent spate of assaults may have been related to the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, when Afghan soldiers were under strain from fasting in intense heat while engaged in combat.

A Pentagon assessment last year found serious tensions between the coalition forces and their Afghan counterparts, with relations plagued by cultural clashes and deep mistrust.

Afghan politician Abdullah Abdullah, a former foreign minister and potential presidential candidate in 2014 elections, points to problems within the government as a reason for the attacks.

He takes President Hamid Karzai to task for what he calls his “vague” message in which he regularly calls the Taliban “brothers”, urging them to talk peace, and criticises the US.

“Sometimes you don’t know who he calls the enemy – the Taliban or the Americans,” Abdullah told AFP news agency.

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Justice Closes CIA Murder Probe without Charges

August 31st, 2012 - by admin

Greg Miller / The Washington Post – 2012-08-31 01:10:19


WASHINGTON, DC (August 30, 2012) — The Justice Department said Thursday that it would not file charges in connection with the deaths of two prisoners held in CIA custody a decade ago, closing the last active criminal investigation into the agency’s treatment of prisoners after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

The decision marks the culmination of a criminal probe that took nearly five years, examined the treatment of about 100 prisoners and branched out far beyond its initial scope — but ultimately produced no charges against any CIA officer.

In a statement, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. signaled that the decision had more to do with the difficulties of assembling evidence — from incidents that had happened years earlier in the war zones of Afghanistan and Iraq — than with a conclusion that no crime had occurred.

The department has “declined prosecution because the admissible evidence would not be sufficient to obtain and sustain a ¬conviction beyond a reasonable doubt,” Holder said.

Nevertheless, the news was welcomed by the CIA as a long-awaited opportunity to move past a period in the agency’s history that had put dozens of officers in legal jeopardy.

“Today’s announcement brings the two remaining cases to a close,” CIA Director David H. Petraeus said in a statement to agency employees. He said the agency’s cooperation with the investigation was “important” despite an inclination “to look ahead to the challenges of the future rather than backwards at those of the past.”

One of the cases involved the death of an Afghan, Gul Rahman, who was being held at a CIA facility known as the Salt Pit in Afghanistan in 2002, when he was allegedly doused with water and left out in frigid overnight weather to die.

The second involved an Iraqi, Maadel al-Jamadi, who was apprehended by US special operations troops before being interrogated by CIA officers at the notorious Abu Ghraib prison compound in Iraq in 2003.

The American Civil Liberties Union criticized the decision as “yet another entry in what is already a shameful record” of the Justice Department.

“That the Justice Department will hold no one accountable for the killing of prisoners in CIA custody is nothing short of a scandal,” Jameel Jaffer, deputy legal director of the ACLU, said in a statement. “The Justice Department has declined to bring charges against the officials who authorized torture, the lawyers who sought to legitimate it, and the interrogators who used it.”

The identities of the CIA officers involved in the cases have not been publicly disclosed.

The investigation of the deaths was led by Assistant US Attorney John Durham, who had expanded the scope of a probe begun in 2008 of the CIA’s destruction of interrogation videotapes. The tapes inquiry was also closed with no criminal charges.

Julie Tate contributed to this report.

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

Amazon ‘Massacre’: Brazilian Gold Miners Kill Scores of Indigenous Natives in Venezuela

August 31st, 2012 - by admin

Common Dreams & The Guardian of London – 2012-08-31 01:07:43


Survival International video of Shaman Davi Kopenawa Yanomami, explaining what a proposed mining bill would mean for his people.

‘Massacre’: Scores of Amazon Indigenous Tribe Members Killed by Miners
Up to 80 Yanomami in Venezuela killed by Brazilian gold miners

Common Dreams

AMAZONIA (August 30, 2012) — As many as 80 Yanomami Indians have been killed in a “massacre” carried out by unauthorized gold miners from Brazil, leaving charred remains of a community and polluted rivers in its wake.

Survival International, a London-based groups that works for tribal peoples’ rights worldwide, says that the massacre took place in July but news of the event is only coming to light now due to the community’s remote location in Venezuela’s Momoi region close to the border with Brazil.

The Guardian reports on the details of the massacre: “According to local testimonies an armed group flew over in a helicopter, opening fire with guns and launching explosives into Irotatheri settlement in the High Ocamo area. The village was home to about 80 people and only three had been accounted for as survivors, according to people from a neighbouring village and indigenous rights activists.”

Witnesses who saw the aftermath of the massacre reported seeing “burnt bodies and bones” and a burnt communal home.

Luis Shatiwe Yanomami, a leader of the Yanomami organization Horonami, told Survival International that the problem of illegal mining has been ongoing. “‘For three years we have been denouncing the situation. There are lots of goldminers working illegally in the forest.”

Luis Bello, a lawyer in Puerto Ayacucho who defends indigenous rights, says that these mining activities are on the rise and “have also become more sophisticated. They used to fly in and land in clandestine strips, now they come in helicopters and use huge extracting machinery that is decimating the jungle.”

Survival International says that the number of unauthorized gold miners in Yanomami territory now number 1,000. When they come, they bring diseases like malaria to the isolated tribe. The mining itself is devastating to the local environment, as it pollutes rivers with mercury. On top of the mining, the tribe faces threats from cattle ranchers who bring deforestation to the rainforest.

“This is another appalling tragedy for the Yanomami — heaping crime upon crime. All Amazonian governments must stop the rampant illegal mining, logging and settlement in indigenous territories. It inevitably leads to massacres of Indian men, women and children.

The Venezuelan authorities must now bring the killers to swift justice, and send a signal throughout the region that Indians can no longer be killed with impunity. The mining and logging must be stopped,” said Stephen Corry, Director of Survival International.

Amazon Tribe Massacre Alleged in Venezuela
Virginia Lopez / The Guardian

CARACAS (August 29, 2012) — A massacre of up to 80 Yanomami Indians has taken place in the Venezuelan state of Amazonas, according to claims emerging from the region, prompting the government to send in investigators.

Blame is being placed on illegal garimpeiro miners who cross the border from Brazil to prospect for gold and have clashed violently with Amazon tribes before. According to local testimonies an armed group flew over in a helicopter, opening fire with guns and launching explosives into Irotatheri settlement in the High Ocamo area. The village was home to about 80 people and only three had been accounted for as survivors, according to people from a neighbouring village and indigenous rights activists.

The claims were presented to local authorities in Puerto Ayacucho, the capital of Amazonas state on Monday, asking for an immediate investigation of the site where the alleged killing took place, and for the expulsion of the garimpeiros. The event would have taken place during the first two weeks of July but due to the remoteness of the village it is only now been made public.

A spokeswoman at the public prosecutor’s office said the government could not yet confirm the attack nor how many people may have been killed.

Luis Shatiwe, a leader of the Yanomami group, told a Venezuelan newspaper that the survivors were hunters who had been out of the village at the time of the alleged attack. The hunters, he said, heard a helicopter and gunfire and said a communal hut in the village was destroyed by fire.

Survival International, a London-based organisation that seeks to protect native peoples, said in a statement that another Yanomami told the group that tribespeople had found bones and charred bodies in the village.

A member of the team that collected the testimony said: “When we heard the first accounts we flew into Parima-B [the closest town] by helicopter with a contingent of military. In Parima we spoke to Yanomami who had walked six days to get to Parima-B to talk to us. In places this remote that is how people communicate.” The man asked not to be identified.

Luis Bello, a lawyer in Puerto Ayacucho who defends indigenous rights, said the allegations were the latest in a series of reports of abuse as garimpeiro activities in the region have increased. “Reports of garimpeiros attacking different communities are becoming more and more frequent, and now we also hear of rivers being poisoned with mercury. We’ve reported to the authorities but we are so far away that is it all easily forgotten,” Bello said.

Bello said a combination of high gold prices and pressure from the Brazilian federal police in their own territory had led to the influx of garimpeiros. “They have also become more sophisticated. They used to fly in and land in clandestine strips, now they come in helicopters and use huge extracting machinery that is decimating the jungle,” Bello said.

In 1993, 16 Yanomamis were killed by garimpeiros in what became known as the Haximu massacre. But there have been cases that turn out to be fake. Aime Thilet, a member of Wataniba, an NGO that defends indigenous rights, said that when the latest alleged attack was reported “we were in the Alto Siapo, also on the border with Brazil, because we got radio a very detailed and what seemed credible report of another massacre, which turned out to be false”.

Livorio Guarulla, the governor of Amazonas state, said remoteness and military restrictions on access to the area made it difficult to investigate the claims quickly. “This happened in July but because it takes close to seven days to get there we don’t really know what happened. The shaponos — the collective community dwellings – house more than 100 people, so it could be 70 [casualties] or it could be more or less.”

The minister for indigenous affairs has yet to make a statement.

(c) 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved.

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

ACTION ALERT: Urge IUCN to Save Jeju Island

August 31st, 2012 - by admin

Save Jeju Island.org – 2012-08-31 01:01:24



(August 30, 2012) — IUCN leadership refuses to criticize Korea’s destructive naval base that is killing numerous endangered species, and destroying indigenous communities. This stance from IUCN defies its traditional mission, conserving nature and a “just world.”

We don’t want a war base on the Island of Peace. Join us to save Jeju Island from destruction.

ACTION: Concerned citizens around the world are being encouraged to send messages to IUCN demanding fair treatment for Gangjeong villagers.
Messages can be directed to:

The International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) World Conservation Congress is the world’s largest environmental event. Held every four years, the 2012 World Conservation Congress (WCC) will be held from September 6-15 on Jeju Island, the “jewel” of South Korea. Over 7,000 leaders from government, the public sector, non-governmental organizations, business, UN agencies and social organizations will meet at this event.

Meeting just a few miles from Gangjeong village, the IUCN has over and over again resisted requests from those living in the 450-year-old fishing and farming community to help them protect their sacred nature and coastline from Navy base construction. A five-year nonviolent campaign rages in the village and more than 500 people have been arrested for attempting to block the destruction of their way of life.

While continuing to proclaim its devotion to protecting Nature through democratic process, IUCN leadership has ignored or whitewashed projects that are assaulting these wonders, and undermining human rights and sustainable livelihoods.

The naval base project, meant to become homeport for Korean and U.S. “missile defense” warships 300 miles from China, is threatening one of the planet’s last great soft coral reefs, and other coastal treasures, killing numerous endangered species (including one on IUCN’s famous Red List), and destroying centuries-old sustainable communities.

The Gangjeong villagers are being met with daily police brutality. Such activities represent all that IUCN has traditionally opposed. Samsung corporation construction division is building the Navy base and has made significant financial contributions toward the WCC.

On August 22, an official letter arrived from IUCN leadership informing the Gangjeong villagers that their request to host a small Information Booth at the convention was denied. No explanation was offered.

The Korean government announced that it would not permit any demonstrations or even picketing within two kilometers of the Convention. So, no speaker from the village or information table inside. No demonstrations outside. We are disappointed because we thought the IUCN stood for democratic participation,” commented Sung-Hee Choi, a Gangjeong resident and member of the International Organizing Committee.

Gangjeong villagers continue to press for a chance to address the IUCN and for a public display booth at the event. Efforts have been made to contact most of the thousands of IUCN delegates coming to the event and several have volunteered to introduce resolutions opposing the Navy base. Villagers intend to invite IUCN members to visit Gangjeong and see the environmental devastation for themselves.

Concerned citizens around the world are being encouraged to send messages to IUCN demanding fair treatment for Gangjeong villagers. Messages can be directed to: jml@iucn.org, president@iucn.org, congressforum@iucn.org; congress@iucn.org;

Organizing Committee & International Support Group includes:
Christine Ahn
Global Fund for Women; Korea Policy Institute

Imok Cha, M.D.

Jerry Mander
Foundation for Deep Ecology; International Forum on Globalization

Koohan Paik
Kauai Alliance for Peace and Social Justice

Maude Barlow
Food and Water Watch, Council of Canadians (Canada)

John Cavanagh
Institute for Policy Studies (U.S.)

Vandana Shiva, Ph.D.
Navdanya Research Organization for Science, Technology and Ecology (India)

Walden Bello
Member, House of Representatives (Philippines)

David Suzuki
The David Suzuki Foundation (Canada)

Robert Redford
Actor, founder of Sundance Institute (U.S.)

Gloria Steinem
Author, Women’s Media Center (U.S.)

Noam Chomsky
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (U.S.)

Raj Patel
Institute for Food and Development Policy/Food First (U.S.)

Buffy Sainte-Marie, Ph.D.
Educator, Singer-Songwriter (U.S.)

Angie Zelter
Trident Ploughshares, (UK)

Matt Rothschild
Editor, The Progressive magazine (U.S.)

Susan George, Ph.D.
Transnational Institute (The Netherlands)

Galina Angarova
Pacific Environment (Russia)

Lagi Toribau
Greenpeace-East Asia

Victoria Tauli-Corpuz
Tebtebba Indigenous Peoples’ International Centre for Policy Research and Education (Philippines)

Lisa Linda Natividad
Guahan Coalition for Peace and Justice (Guam)

Eugeni Capella Roca
Grup d’Estudi I Protecció d’Ecosostemes de Catalunya (Spain)

Sara Larrain
Sustainable Chile Project (Chile)

Korean Federation for Environmental Movement and
Citizen Institute for Environmental Studies (South Korea)


Sung-Hee Choi (Gangjeong, South Korea) gangjeongintl@gmail.com
Koohan Paik (Jeju Emergency Action Committee) kosherkimchee@yahoo.com
Save Jeju Campaign website http://savejejunow.org/

Court Exonerates Israel for Killing US Peace Activist Rachel Corrie

August 30th, 2012 - by admin

The New York Times & Glenn Greenwald / The Guardian – 2012-08-30 01:18:48


Israel Judge: Rachel Corrie Endangered Self
New York Times

JERUSALEM (August 29, 2012) — An Israeli judge ruled Tuesday that the state bore no responsibility for the death of Rachel Corrie, the young American woman who was run over by a military bulldozer in 2003 as she protested the demolition of Palestinian homes in the Gaza Strip.

The lengthy verdict in the civil case, read in part to a courtroom in Haifa packed with supporters of Corrie’s family, called the death a “regrettable accident” — a characterization that Corrie’s allies strongly disputed.

“She chose to put herself in danger,” said the judge, Oded Gershon. “She could have easily distanced herself from the danger like any reasonable person would.”

Since her death, Corrie has become an international symbol of the Palestinian resistance. A play based on her writings has been performed in 10 countries, and a ship in an attempted aid flotilla to Gaza bore her name.

Books, documentaries and songs have recounted how Corrie, a 23-year-old student, dressed in an orange vest and wielding a bullhorn stood between a bulldozer and the home of a Palestinian family in March 2003 during the height of the second intifada, or uprising.

Hussein Abu Hussein, the lawyer who brought the wrongful-death suit on the Corrie family’s behalf, said he would appeal the ruling within 45 days to Israel’s Supreme Court. “It’s a black day for activists of human rights,” Hussein said. In his ruling, Gershon said the military’s mission that day “was not, in any way, to destroy homes,” but to clear brush and explosives “to prevent acts of hatred and terror.”

He said the bulldozer was moving slowly, about 1 kilometer per hour, and that the driver could not have seen Corrie, finding “no base to the plaintiff’s claim that the bulldozer hit her on purpose.”

How the US and Israeli Justice Systems
Whitewash State Crimes

Courts are supposed to check the abuse of executive power, not cravenly serve it. But in the US and Israel, that is now the case

Glenn Greenwald / The Guardian

LONDON (August 29, 2012) — The US military announced on Monday that no criminal charges would be brought against the US marines in Afghanistan who videotaped themselves urinating on the corpses of Taliban fighters. Nor, the military announced, would any criminal charges be filed against the US troops who “tried to burn about 500 copies of the Qur’an as part of a badly bungled security sweep at an Afghan prison in February, despite repeated warnings from Afghan soldiers that they were making a colossal mistake”.

In doing so, the US military, as usual, brushed aside demands of Afghan officials for legal accountability for the destructive acts of foreign soldiers in their country. The US instead imposed “disciplinary measures” in both cases, ones that “could include letters of reprimand, a reduction in rank, forfeit of some pay, physical restriction to a military base, extra duties or some combination of those measures”. Both incidents triggered intense protests and rioting that left dozens dead, back in February this year.

Parallel to that, an Israeli judge Tuesday dismissed a lawsuit against the Israeli government brought by the family of Rachel Corrie, the 23-year-old American student and pro-Palestinian activist who was killed by a military bulldozer in 2003 as she protested the demolition of a house in Gaza whose family she had come to befriend. Upon learning of the suit’s dismissal, Corrie’s mother, Cindy, said:

“I believe this was a bad day, not only for our family, but for human rights, humanity, the rule of law and also for the country of Israel.”

Despite Corrie’s wearing a bright orange vest, Judge Oded Gershon, in a 62-page decision, ruled that the bulldozer driver did not see her and her death was thus an accident. He went on to heap blame on Corrie for her own killing, arguing that, contrary to what “any reasonable person would have done”, she “chose to put herself in danger” by trying to impede “a military activity meant to prevent terrorist activity”.

The commonality in all three of these episodes is self-evident: the perversion of the justice system and rule of law as nothing more than a weapon to legitimize even the most destructive state actions, while severely punishing those who oppose them.

The US and its loyal thinktank scholars have long demanded that other states maintain an “independent judiciary” as one of the key ingredients for living under the rule of law. But these latest episodes demonstrate, yet again, that the judiciary in the US, along with the one in its prime Middle East client state, is anything but “independent”: its primary function is to shield government actors from accountability.

The US military has continuously imposed pitifully light “punishments” on its soldiers even for the most heinous atrocities. The wanton slaughter of two dozen civilians in Haditha, Iraq and the severe and even lethal torture of Afghan detainees generated, at worst, shockingly short jail time for the killers and, usually, little more than letters of reprimand.

Contrast this tepid, reluctant wrist-slapping for the brutal crimes of occupying soldiers with what a UN investigation found was the US government’s “cruel and inhuman treatment” of Bradley Manning before he was convicted of anything. Manning has been imprisoned for more than two years now without having been found guilty of any crimes – already longer than any of the perpetrators of these fatal abuses in Iraq and Afghanistan.

He faces life in prison at the age of 23 for the alleged “crime” of disclosing to the world overwhelming evidence of corruption, deceit and illegality on the part of the world’s most powerful factions: disclosures that helped thwart the Obama administration’s efforts to keep US troops in Iraq, and which, as even WikiLeaks’ harshest critics acknowledge, played some substantial role in helping to spark the Arab spring.

Notably, the first disclosure for which Manning was allegedly responsible — the videotape of an Apache helicopter gunning down unarmed Reuters journalists and then the rescuers who came to help the wounded, including two young children — resulted in zero accountability: the US military exonerated everyone involved. Instead, it is Manning, the person accused of exposing these crimes, who is punished as the real criminal.

And herein lies the real function of the American justice system, clearly revealed time and again. It is to protect high-level actors from accountability even for the most egregious of crimes, while severely punishing those who reveal or take a stand against those crimes, thus deterring and intimidating any future opposition.

That is the mentality that has led the Obama department of justice to aggressively shield all Bush officials from any and all accountability for their torture and surveillance crimes, while launching an unprecedented persecution campaign against whistleblowers. As always in US justice, the “real” criminals are those who alert the world to high-level crimes, not those who commit them.

That is why the only person to suffer any repercussions from the Bush NSA eavesdropping scandal was Thomas Tamm: the mid-level DOJ lawyer who learned of the illegal program and alerted the New York Times about it. Those who authorized those crimes have been fully shielded from any form of punishment.

It is this same mentality that has led the US federal judiciary to produce the most disgraceful political fact of the last decade. Not a single victim of America’s “war on terror” abuses – even those now acknowledged by the US government to have been completely innocent — have been allowed even to have their cases heard in an American court on the merits.

They’ve all had the courthouse doors slammed shut in the faces by courts that have accepted the US government’s claims that its own secrecy powers and immunity rights bar any such justice. Crimes committed by the state or in advancement of its agenda are simply immune from the rule of law in the US.

The same exploitation of the justice system is glaringly evident in the Rachel Corrie travesty. As the Guardian’s former Israel (and now Washington) correspondent Chris McGreal writes, the dismissal of this suit is simply a by-product of the “virtual impunity for Israeli troops no matter who they killed or in what circumstances”.

That’s because Israeli courts, like American courts, have submissively accepted the supreme fiction of both governments: anyone impeding government actions is a terrorist or terrorist-enabler who gets what they deserve, while the actions of the state, no matter how savage, can never be anything other than legitimate.

Cindy Corrie, Rachel’s mother, said after the verdict that Israel “employed a ‘well-heeled system’ to protect its soldiers and provide them with immunity”. Indeed, the Israeli “investigation” into Corrie’s death has been such a laughable whitewash that even the US ambassador to Israel last week told the Corrie family that he “did not believe the Israeli military investigation had been ‘thorough, credible and transparent’, as had been promised by Israel.”

All of this, writes McGreal, shows how “covering up the truth about the killings of innocents, including Corrie, became an important part of the survival strategy because of the damage the truth could do to the military’s standing, not only in the rest of the world but also among Israelis.”

As I noted on Sunday, it is expected, inevitable, that those who wield political power will abuse it for corrupt and self-serving ends. That is why there are institutions designed to check and combat that abuse.

The rule of law, and an independent judiciary applying it, is ostensibly one of those institutions. But — like establishment media outlets and most academics — this justice system now does the opposite: it is merely another weapon used to legitimize crimes by the powerful and crush those who oppose them.

All three of this week’s travesties, in the US and in Israel, are hardly surprising. To the contrary, they are the inevitable by-products of societies that recruit every institution in service of defending even the most wanton abuses by the state.

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

Britain and US Plan a Syrian Revolution from an Innocuous Office Block in Istanbul

August 30th, 2012 - by admin

Damien McElroy / The Telegraph – 2012-08-30 01:18:03


ISTANBUL (August 28, 2012) — Dozens of dissidents have been ferried out of Syria to be vetted for foreign backing. Recipients of the aid are given satellite communications and computers so that they can act as a local “hub” linking local activists and the outside world.

The training takes place in an Istanbul district where handsome apartment blocks line the steep slopes and rooftop terraces boast views over the Golden Horn waterway.

Behind closed doors the distractions of outdoor coffee shops and clothing boutiques gives way to power point displays charting the mayhem sweeping Syria.

“We are not ‘king-making’ in Syria. The UK and the US are moving cautiously to help what has been developing within Syria to improve the capabilities of the opposition,” said a British consultant overseeing the programme. “What’s going to come next? Who is going to control territory across Syria. We want to give civilians the skills to assert leadership.”

Once up and running dissidents can expect help to deal with local shortages and troubleshooting advice from sympathisers.

But the activists also face two days of vetting designed to ensure that the programme does not fall into the trap of promoting sectarian agendas or the rise of al-Qaeda-style fundamentalists.

“Rather than being about promoting political platforms in Syria, it’s about creating a patchwork of people who share common values,” the consultant said.

The schemes are overseen by the US State Department’s Office of Syrian Opposition Support (OSOS) and Foreign Office officials. America has set aside $25 million for political opponents of President Bashar al-Assad while Britain is granting £5 million to the cause of overthrowing the regime.

Mina al-Homsi (a pseudonym) is one of the first graduates of the training.

She now spends her days plotting how to spread seditious messages throughout her homeland through her own network, named Basma.

One of its main activities is to repackage video shot by amateurs into a format that can be used by broadcasters.

In addition to running online television and radio forums, the Basma team have had “tens of thousands” of satirical stickers depicting President Bashar al-Assad as a featherless duck for distribution as agitprop.

“It comes from the emails that his wife Asma sent to him calling him duckie and the cartoon duck is featherless to show that he is an emperor with no clothes,” she said. “People will stick them on walls, on car doors, on dispensers in restaurants and those who have not yet joined the revolution will know that we are everywhere.”

Foreign intervention in civil wars has proven to be a perilous undertaking since the end of the Cold War but in Syria where an invasion has proven unfeasible, diplomats have had to resort to creative thinking.

It was the legacy of non-intervention, however, that provided the spark for the schemes now backing Basma and others.

An initiative, proposed by Foreign Secretary William Hague, to document evidence of crimes committed in the fighting for use in potential International Criminal Court trials, has been transformed into the multinational project to build Syria’s next governing class.

“This has been a generational coming of age,” said the consultant, who spoke on condition of anonymity. “The Foreign Secretary started this as a way to make sure that people who committed crimes in Syria would be held to account. Those of us with experience of the Balkans have taken the lessons of that conflict very much as a formative experience.”

With the entry of American funding for a much wider scheme, the need to avoid the mistakes of wars in Afghanistan and Iraq has also driven the planning.

“It’s also not Iraq or Afghanistan – there are no bundles of cash being dropped on the problem without accountability,” he said.

Jon Wilks, the Foreign Office diplomat who serves as envoy to the Syrian opposition, told the Arabic newspaper al Sharq al Aswat last week that Britain was already working to lay the foundations of democracy in a post-Assad Syria.

He said: “We must train activists on governing locally in villages and cities in Syria for the post-transitional phase.”

Officials are adamant there will be no crossover between the civilian “non-lethal” assistance and the military campaign waged by the rebel fighters.

The scheme has, however, infuriated the exiled opposition body, the Syrian National Council. Its failure to provide a united and coherent front against the regime has led some western officials to brief privately that foreign governments were shifting support beyond the exiled body.

But in a barely furnished office in a tower block near Istanbul airport an SNC official decried the false promises of its allies. “We’ve heard a lot of promises from the very beginning of the SNC but none of those have been fulfilled,” the SNC official said. “This has reflected absolutely negatively on our work. The opposition of Syria wants the world to provide humanitarian aid for the people in need and the Free Syria Army wants intervention to stop planes bombing their positions.

“Instead they go around behind our back undermining our role.”

A Whitehall official said the effort was not about building an alternative to the SNC but a means to enhance the role of those dissidents still within Syria.

Victoria Nuland, the State Department spokesman, confirmed the OSOS programme last week and said its full effect would only be seen when President Assad leaves office.

“There are groups inside and outside Syria beginning to plan for that day-after and beginning to plan for how they might quickly stand up at least that first stage of transition so that we could move on when Assad goes, because he will go.”

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

US Accused of Being a ‘Major Player against Syria’

August 30th, 2012 - by admin

Robert Fisk / The Independent – 2012-08-30 01:15:38


Exclusive: ‘We Believe that the USA Is the Major Player against Syria and the Rest Are Its Instruments’
Assad’s Foreign Minister gives his first interview to a Western journalist since the conflict began

Robert Fisk / The Independent

(August 28, 2012 ) — The battle for Damascus could be heard inside the Foreign Minister’s office yesterday, a vibration of mortars and tank fire from the suburbs of the capital that penetrated Walid Muallem’s inner sanctum, a dangerous heartbeat to match the man’s words.

America was behind Syria’s violence, he said, which will not end even after the battle for Aleppo is over. “I tell the Europeans: ‘I don’t understand your slogan about the welfare of the Syrian people when you are supporting 17 resolutions against the welfare of the Syrian people’. And I tell the Americans: ‘You must read well what you did in Afghanistan and Somalia. I don’t understand your slogan of fighting international terrorism when you are supporting this terrorism in Syria’.”

Walid Muallem spoke in English and very slowly, either because of the disconcerting uproar outside or because this was his first interview with a Western journalist since the Syrian crisis began.

At one point, the conflict between rebels and government troops in the suburbs of Douma, Jobar, Arbeen and Qaboun — where a helicopter was shot down — became so loud that even the most phlegmatic of Foreign Ministers in a region plagued by rhetoric glanced towards the window. How did he feel when he heard this, I asked him?

“Before I am a minister, I am a Syrian citizen, and I feel sad at seeing what’s happening in Syria, compared with two years ago,” he said. “There are many Syrians like me — eager to see Syria return to the old days when we were proud of our security.”

I have my doubts about how many Syrians want a return to “the old days” but Muallem claims that perhaps 60 per cent of the country’s violence comes from abroad, from Turkey, from Qatar and Saudi Arabia, with the United States exercising its influence over all others.

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

A year ago, I told Muallem, I lunched with the Emir of Qatar, and he was enraged at what he called Bashar al-Assad’s lies, claiming that the Syrian President had reneged on a deal to allow Muslim Brotherhood members to return home.

Muallem nodded. “If you met the same Emir two years ago, he was praising Assad, and considered him a dear friend. They used to have family relations, spending family holidays in Damascus and sometimes in Doha. There is an important question: what happened? I met the Emir in Doha in, I think, November 2011, when the Arab League started their initiative [resulting in the sending of League observers to Syria] and we reached agreement …

“The Emir told me: ‘If you agree to this initiative, I will change the attitude of Al Jazeera and I will tell [Sheikh] Qaradawi [a popular prelate with a regular slot on the television chain] to support Syria and reconciliation, and I have put down some billions of dollars to rebuild Syria…’ .

“At the same time, when I was waiting to enter a meeting, there was the head of the Tunisian party Ennahda and the Emir issued orders to pay Ennahda $150m to help his party in the elections. Anyway, this was their business.

But I asked the Emir: ‘You were having very close relations with Muammar Gaddafi and you were the only leader in his palace when Gaddafi hosted you during the summit — so why are you sending your aircraft to attack Libya and be part of Nato?’ The Emir said simply: ‘Because we don’t want to lose our momentum in Tunis and Egypt — and Gaddafi was responsible for dividing Sudan’.”

Of America’s power, Walid Muallem had no doubt. The Americans, he says, succeeded in frightening the Gulf countries about Iran’s nuclear capabilities, persuaded them to buy arms from the US, fulfilling Franklin Roosevelt’s 1936 dream of maintaining bases for oil transportation.

“We believe that the US is the major player against Syria and the rest are its instruments.” But wasn’t this all really about Iran? I asked, a dodgy question since it suggested a secondary role for Syria in its own tragedy. And when Muallem referred to the Brookings Institution, I groaned.

“You are laughing, but sometimes when you are Foreign Minister, you are obliged to read these things — and there was a study by the Brookings Institute [sic] called The Road to Tehran, and the result of this study was: if you want to contain Iran, you must start with Damascus…

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

For the Syrian Foreign Minister, the crisis started with “legitimate demands” subsequently addressed by “legislation and reforms and even a new constitution”. Then along came “foreign elements” who used these legitimate demands “to hijack the peaceful agenda of the people”.

There followed a familiar tale. “I don’t accept as a citizen to return back centuries to a regime which can bring Syria backwards. In principle …no government in the world can accept an armed terrorist group, some of them coming from abroad, controlling streets and villages in the name of ‘jihad’.”

It was the duty of the Syrian government to “protect” its citizens. Assad represents the unity of Syria and all Syrians must participate in creating a new future for Syria. If Syria falls, its neighbour countries will fall. Muallem travels to the non-aligned summit in Iran tomorrow to burnish what he calls their “constructive efforts” to help Syria.

I asked about chemical weapons, of course. If Syria had such weapons, they would never be used against its own people, he said. “We are fighting armed groups inside Aleppo, in the Damascus suburbs, before that in Homs and Idlib and this means fighting within Syrian cities — and our responsibility is to protect our people.”

And the infamous Shabiha militia blamed for atrocities in the countryside? Walid Muallem doesn’t believe in them. There might be local unarmed people defending their property from armed groups, he says. But pro-regime, paid militiamen? Never. No war crimes charges against the Syrian Foreign Minister, then. But the guns still thunder away outside his windows.

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

Iran Hosts Anti-Nuke Summit: Calls for Nuke-free World by 2025

August 30th, 2012 - by admin

Information Clearinghouse & Associated Press & Thomas Erdbrink / The New York Times – 2012-08-30 01:06:52


Iran’s Call for Nuclear Abolition by 2025 Is Unreported by New York Times
Alice Slater / Information Clearing House

NEW YORK (August 28, 2012) — The Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), formed in 1961 during the Cold War, is a group of 120 states and 17 observer states not formally aligned with or against any major power bloc. The NAM held its opening 2012 session yesterday under the new chairmanship of Iran, which succeeded Egypt as the Chair.

Significantly, an Associated Press story in the Washington Post headlined, “Iran opens nonaligned summit with calls for nuclear arms ban”, reported that “Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi opened the gathering by noting commitment to a previous goal from the nonaligned group, known as NAM, to remove the world’s nuclear arsenals within 13 years. ‘We believe that the timetable for ultimate removal of nuclear weapons by 2025, which was proposed by NAM, will only be realized if we follow it up decisively,’ he told delegates.”

Yet the New York Times, which has been beating the drums for war with Iran, just as it played a disgraceful role in the deceptive reporting during the lead-up to the Iraq War, never mentioned Iran’s proposal for nuclear abolition.

The Times carried the bland headline on its front page, “At Summit Meeting, Iran Has a Message for the World”, and then went on to state, “the message is clear. As Iran plays host to the biggest international conference Å it wants to tell its side of the long standoff with the Western powers which are increasingly convinced that Tehran is pursuing nuclear weapons”, without ever reporting Iran’s offer to support the NAM proposal for the abolition of nuclear weapons by 2025.

Surely the most sensible way to deal with Iran’s nascent nuclear weapons capacity is to call all the nations to the table to negotiate a treaty to ban the bomb. That would mean abolishing the 20,000 nuclear bombs on the planet-in the US, UK, Russia, China, France, India, Pakistan, North Korea and Israel-with 19,000 of them in the US and Russia.

In order to get Russia and China to the table, the US will also have to give up its dreams of dominating the earth with missile “defenses” which, driven by corrupt military contractors and a corporate- owned Congress, are currently being planted and based in provocative rings around Russia and China.

The ball is in the US court to make good faith efforts for nuclear abolition. That would be the only principled way to deal with fears of nuclear proliferation. The US must start with a genuine offer for negotiations to finally ban the bomb in all countries, including a freeze on further missile development.

It should stop beating up on Iran and North Korea while it hypocritically continues to improve and expand the US arsenal, with tens of billions of dollars for new weapons laboratories and bomb delivery systems, and fails failing to speak out against the nuclear activities of other nations such as the enrichment of uranium in Japan and Brazil and the nuclear arsenal of Israel.

Alice Slater is NY Director of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation and serves as its UN NGO representative. She is a member of the Global Council of Abolition 2000, a network in 95 countries working for a treaty to eliminate nuclear weapons.

In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.

Iran Opens Nonaligned Summit
With Calls for Nuclear Arms Ban

Associated Press

TEHRAN, Iran — Iran opened a world gathering of self-described nonaligned nations Sunday with a slap at the U.N. Security Council and an appeal to rid the world of nuclear weapons, even as Tehran faces Western suspicions that it is seeking its own atomic bombs.

Iran seeks to use the weeklong gathering — capped by a two-day summit of Non-Aligned Movement leaders — as a showcase of its global ties and efforts to challenge the influence of the West and its allies. Among those expected to attend include U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the prime minister of India, Manmohan Singh, whose nation remains an important Iranian oil customer as Tehran battles Western sanctions over its nuclear program.

The 120-nation Non-Aligned Movement, a holdover from the Cold War’s pull between East and West, is also seen by Iran and others as an alternative forum for current world discussions. Iran says it plans talks on a peace plan to end Syria’s civil war, but no rebel factions will attend because of Tehran’s close bonds with Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime.

Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi opened the gathering by noting commitment to a previous goal from the nonaligned group, known as NAM, to remove the world’s nuclear arsenals within 13 years.

“We believe that the timetable for ultimate removal of nuclear weapons by 2025, which was proposed by NAM, will only be realized if we follow it up decisively,” he told delegates.

Iran insists it does not seek nuclear weapons. The U.S. and allies suspect that Tehran’s uranium enrichment could eventually lead to warhead-level material. They have imposed ever-tighter sanctions on Iran’s banking and oil exports in attempt to wring concessions.

Israel has said that it would consider military options if diplomacy and economic pressures fail to curb Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

Salehi criticized Israel for remaining outside the U.N. main treaty governing the spread of nuclear technology. Israel refused to discuss the full range of its military capabilities, but it is widely believed to have a nuclear arsenal.

Iran ally North Korea has withdrawn from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. North Korean Foreign Minister Pak Ui Chun arrived in Tehran Sunday to attend the meetings.

Outside the meeting site, Iran displayed three cars damaged by bomb blasts that Iran has blamed on agents from Britain, the U.S. and Britain. At least five members of Iranian scientific community, including nuclear experts, have been killed since early 2010 as part of a suspected covert war with its main foes.

Iran and proxies, in turn, have been linked by investigators to a series of attacks and plots on Israeli targets around the world.

Salehi also complained about the perception of the “falling” clout of the U.N.’s general membership at the expense of the “rising power of the U.N. Security Council,” led by permanent members U.S., Britain, France, Russia and China.

“Creating a more democratic Security Council should be considered an important part of U.N. reforms,” Salehi told the gathering.

Even before the first session got under way, however, a dispute flared over Palestinian envoys.

Iranian officials said a political leader of Tehran’s ally Hamas has not been invited to the meeting in Tehran, contradicting Hamas claims that Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh was asked to come by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Hamas later Sunday that Haniyeh has dropped plans to attend.

The decision appeared aimed at avoiding a confrontation among Palestinians that could embarrass Hamas’ Iranian backers. The office of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas had warned he would not attend if rival Haniyeh also takes part.

The militant Hamas controls Gaza, while Abbas’ Western-backed administration governs parts of the West Bank. Abbas’ Foreign Minister Riad Malki also plans to travel to Tehran on Monday.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

At Summit Meeting, Iran Has a Message for the World
Thomas Erdbrink / The New York Times

TEHERAN (August 26, 2012) — At the entrance to the convention hall where Iran is sponsoring an international summit meeting are the crumpled wreckage of three cars driven by Iranian nuclear scientists who have been killed or hurt in bomb attacks. Placards with the photos of the scientists and their children stand alongside.

The message is clear. As Iran plays host to the biggest international conference the Islamic republic has organized in its 33-year history, it wants to tell its side of the long standoff with the Western powers, which are increasingly convinced that Tehran is pursuing nuclear weapons.

Tehran, which denies that it is after the bomb, believes the scientists were killed by Israeli agents, an assertion that Israel has not acknowledged but never fully disputed.

The meeting of the so-called Nonaligned Movement, a group formed during the cold war that considers itself independent of the major powers, has so far proven to be something of a public relations success for Iran.

Last week, the United Nations secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, decided to attend despite pressure from the United States and Israel. Egypt’s new president also said he would come to the conference, although his country has long been estranged from Iran, and India’s prime minister plans to bring a delegation of 250 people in an attempt to advocate for more trade with Tehran.

The announcements were seen as setbacks for efforts by the United States to isolate Iran and cripple it with sanctions.

“Two-thirds of the world’s nations are here in Tehran,” Mohammad Khazaee, Iran’s ambassador to the United Nations, told reporters on Sunday. “Clearly this conference will be effective for us.”

Iran’s foreign minister, Ali Akbar Salehi, opened the meeting’s early sessions on Sunday with a plea for the 120 countries in the movement to oppose the sanctions imposed on his country, and he asked them to stand against terrorism, saying Iran is the biggest victim of terrorist attacks in the world.

An exhibition in the convention hall echoed his assertions, including pictures of victims of what Iran said were opposition bombings in the 1980s, soon after the Islamic Revolution, and of the downing of an Iranian passenger jet by a missile fired from a United States Navy ship in 1988, in what American officials say was an accident.

He also said the United States had “exploited” the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks to further its “hegemonic goals.”
Given that history, Iran says it has decided not to take any chances and has launched a comprehensive security operation. More than 110,000 security forces are controlling the streets, the deputy national police commander, Ahmad Radan, told the Fars news agency over the weekend.

They are supported by 30 helicopters and nearly 3,000 patrol cars. There are roadblocks on all highways leading into Tehran, and at night there are checkpoints throughout the city.

“Despite the evil intentions of our enemies, our secret service has taken all necessary measures in order to hold the nonaligned meeting in an absolute secure environment,” Iran’s minister of intelligence, Heydar Moslehi, told state news agency IRNA.

But the tight security might have another goal: to ensure Iran’s narrative is not spoiled by its domestic political difficulties, three years after the country was convulsed by antigovernment protests that followed a disputed election and were quashed in a harsh crackdown.

Foreign-based opposition Web sites called for renewed rallies against the government during the summit meeting.

Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, is expected to address the conference this week. And in an effort to prove that its nuclear program is peaceful, Iran is offering special tours of some of its nuclear sites.

Like most countries given a chance at worldwide exposure — witness London’s Olympics — Iran is taking other steps to present its best face.

An army of gardeners and street cleaners have been sprucing up main thoroughfares. One billboard reads: “Nonaligned Movement represents the struggle against racism, colonialism, hegemony and foreign oppression.” Floating above the city’s main Haft-e Tir square was a balloon carrying a message: “Iran, a peaceful and kind nation.”

The government even took the unusual step of subsidizing trips out of town for Tehran residents, to clear the city’s always-congested roads. Despite the economic pain of recent sanctions, the government offered those with fuel-subsidy cards an extra 30 liters of gasoline at reduced rates so they could leave the city. Tehran’s 12 million residents will also enjoy a five-day official holiday starting Tuesday, when the leaders begin gathering.

State television has presented the meeting as a “turning point,” after which Iran’s importance will grow.

The vice president for international affairs, Ali Sa’idloo, told state television that “Zionist” media had been censoring news about the event because it was too positive.

Many Iranians said they were impressed with the fresh paint jobs on buildings. But in an indication of the country’s economic setbacks, some said they wished they had not been given five days off.

“I need money, so I need to work, but now we must stay home,” said Ali Kamali, a bookbinder.

For Iran’s most hard-line officials, such suggestions were unrealistic. They hailed the summit meeting as a sign that the end of Western dominance was near.

“Electing Iran as leader of the Nonaligned Movement shows that a global resistance against America and the Zionists has taken shape,” Mohammad Reza Naghdi, the commander of a paramilitary group, told the semiofficial Fars news agency. “America better give up, as this is yet another sign of its collapse.”

It is clear that the conference is helping Iran gets its message out.

On Sunday, some delegates were shown on state TV denouncing terrorism as they stood in front of the nuclear scientists’ mangled cars.

A version of this article appeared in print on August 27, 2012, on page A4 of the New York edition with the headline: At Summit Meeting, Iran Has a Message for the World.

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

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