The British government's settlement agreement to pay compensation to former Guantánamo detainees over claims that they were unlawfully captured and abused while in custody is a meaningful, though not complete, government statement on its complicity in extraordinary rendition and torture. Coming so soon after George W Bush's boast that he enthusiastically authorised torture, the British move highlights the absurdity of the American political and legal processes that so easily prevents any accountability for such blatant misconduct and lawlessness.
According to the London-based Al-Quds al-Arabi, Ramallah --- noting the recent US "incentives" offered to Israel to get a three-month extension of the freeze on settlement construction in the West Bank --- is also seeking its own American package.
The Obama administration is being asked to increase funds for the Palestinians and to spell out a "political commitment" for an agreement on the border issue within three months. The Palestinian Authority also wants Washington's assurance that it will deal with the issue of Palestinian refugees, compensating them through an international fund that would involve most countries in the region, including Israel.
Lawyers representing the National League for Democracy (NLD) will appear before the Burmese Supreme Court in Naypyidaw on Thursday and argue that the regime's Election Commission was wrong in banning the party.
The lawyers discussed the case with NLD leader Aung San Suu Kyi on Monday. The NLD said she would not accompany the three lawyers to Naypyidaw.
The NLD was officially disbanded after failing to register for the Nov. 7 election. In its case before the Supreme Court, the NLD calls for the cancellation of Article 25 of the Political Parties Registration Law, which requires existing political parties to re-register or face disbandment.
Around a dozen men, who accused British security forces of colluding in their torture overseas, are to get millions in compensation from the UK government.
Some of the men, who are all British citizens or residents, were detained at the Guantanamo Bay prison camp in Cuba.
At least six of them alleged UK forces were complicit in their torture before they arrived at Guantanamo.
A special envoy from President Barack Obama raised the possibility in a secret meeting with senior Iraqi military and civilian officials in Baghdad Sep. 23 that his administration would leave more than 15,000 combat troops in Iraq after the 2011 deadline for U.S. withdrawal, according to a senior Iraqi intelligence official familiar with the details of the meeting.
But the White House official, Puneet Talwar, special assistant to the President and senior director for the Gulf States, Iran, and Iraq on the National Security Council (NSC) staff, said the deployment would have to be handled in a way that was consistent the president's pledge to withdraw U.S. troops completely from Iraq under the 2008 agreement, the official said.
Talwar suggested that the combat troops could be placed under the cover of the State Department's security force, the Iraqi intelligence official told IPS.
2030 GMT: Un-Diplomatic Behaviour. Well, here's a story to pick up a slow evening. From Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty:
France has accused Iranian security services of committing "unacceptable acts of violence" on French diplomatic personnel in Tehran.
The French Foreign Ministry said in a statement today that the entry to the French Embassy residence in Tehran was blocked by unidentified officials on November 14.
French officials said plainclothes security officers struck at least two French diplomats and arrested guests arriving at the residence of Ambassador Bernard Poletti for a concert of Persian music.
The statement said that French authorities this morning summoned the Iranian ambassador in Paris "to express their strongest condemnation."
There have been no comments from Tehran on the incident.
Early this year, I noticed a surprising trend. The Iranian government was moving from arresting people who were protesting to arresting people who were trying to defend the rights of protesters and ordinary Iranians.
This was shocking to me, as human rights activists had little to do with the post-election turmoil. They had been warning the government for years that they needed to make concessions to the populace or the people would erupt.
But I was missing a key point: human rights activists, like the protesters, are nonetheless messing up the regime’s propaganda: propaganda that not only claimed the legitimacy of a theocratic government theocratic but also that the people and anyone with a public voice was firmly behind the government. Apparently, human rights activists were not in this chorus, and so they must pay the price.
Now that most human rights activists are in prison, on trial, or forced to leave the country, the government is changing tactics again. This time it’s lawyers that are being targeted.
On the map hanging in Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu's office, such broad swaths of territory are labeled "Jerusalem," and on other maps around the world they are noted as "occupied territories". No country recognizes the annexation of 70 square kilometers of West Bank territory into the municipal boundaries of Jerusalem (whose area was 6.4 square kilometers under Jordanian rule ). Opposing a withdrawal from East Jerusalem will no doubt lead to a failure in the negotiations and turning our back on a two-state solution....
Even in Jerusalem, lies that are repeated too often do not become true. The truth has been and remains: either Jerusalem will become the capital of two peoples or Israel will become the state of two peoples.
On Monday, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton praised West Jerusalem's willingness to embrace Washington's package of incentives: "This is a very promising development and a serious effort by Prime Minister Netanyahu."
Meanwhile, a diplomat familiar with the details of the US offer, which hopes to bring a resumption of direct Israel-Palestine talks, said Israel would be allowed to finish hundreds of apartments already under construction in West Bank settlements.
Still, opposition continues in Israel.
Sometimes a political move is so audacious that it leaves me lost for analysis. So over to you, readers. From Fars News, via Azerbaijan's Trend:
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Monday that Iran was ready to provide Europe with "its experiences and criteria" on implementing democracy, dpa reported with reference to Fars news agency.
Ahmadinejad, referring to protest demonstrations in Europe in general and the unrest in France in particular, said it was time that the political leaders listened to their people.
"It would be to the advantage of the Western leaders to implement justice rather than using violence against their people and suppressing their demands," Fars quoted Ahmadinejad as saying.
"Iran was ready to provide these countries with its experience and criteria so they can again reconcile with their people and get out of the current political deadlock," he said.
Ahmadinejad blamed the political system in Europe and said that people were forced to vote for two or three parties created by the leaders, rather than for political figures they really wanted....