The Command Post
Global Recon

November 30, 2004

Simon's E. Asia Highlights: Nov. 30/04

Winds of Change.NET Regional Briefings run on Tuesdays & Wednesdays, and sometimes Fridays too. This Regional Briefing focuses on East Asia, courtesy of Simon World.

Asia by Blog is a twice weekly feature at my blog, posted on Mondays and Thursdays (the latest edition is here and the full archive here). You can be notified by email when it is updated, just drop me an email at simon-[at]-simonworld-[dot]-mu-[dot]-nu. The following is a digest of highlights from the past month’s Asia by Blog series.

The round-up has four key areas of focus:

Posted by Winds of Change at 10:28 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 29, 2004

Landlord Tenant Dispute Or Facing Down Islamic Radicalism?

Pastor Lee Wasson claims his Kissimmee Christian Academy was cast out of its old home in favor of the Islamic Universal Heritage Foundation because religious discrimination on the part of the Academy’s Islamic landlord, Super Stop Petroleum. The landlord and the Foundation deny Wasson’s accusation, saying the reason for the school’s eviction is that it owes rent and other money.

The Orlando Sentinel reports that Wasson and a growing number of Kissimmee church leaders are standing up to what they perceive as radical Islam. According to the Sentinel, they take what experts say is a black-and-white stand on murky subject:

Even authorities have trouble separating real threats from alarmist claims, said Art Teitelbaum, Southern-area director for the Anti-Defamation League.

“In a microcosmic way, this is a story on how America is responding to the perceived and actual threat of Islamic radicalism,” Teitelbaum said.

They’re having a tough time. Americans know the burning crosses of white supremacy and the swastikas of anti-Semitism. But what does Islamic radicalism look like? Few really know, he said.

From California Yankee.

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Sudan expels aid agency chief

REUTERS: Sudan expels aid agency chief

Sudan has expelled the country director of Save the Children, accusing the British aid agency of breaching Sudanese law and interfering in domestic affairs, the Humanitarian Affairs Ministry and the agency said.

Save the Children confirmed Monday it had received two letters from the ministry on Monday morning expelling their country director Kate Halff and officially warning the organization.

British charity Oxfam said it had received a letter of warning, which also suggested their country director may be expelled.

Oxfam has been working throughout north Sudan for 20 years and on Saturday the influential governor of North Darfur state praised the agency’s work in the country.

Save the Children is one of the largest food distributors in Darfur, providing food to more than 300,000 of the almost 2 million in need of aid.

“We can confirm that we have received a letter of warning from the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs this morning suggesting that the country director may be expelled and we are following up on this with the ministry,” Oxfam spokesman Adrian McIntyre told Reuters.

Both organizations said they would be following up the issue internally and with the ministry.

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November 28, 2004

Ukraine Partition Feared

Agence France-Presse reports with events shifting in the opposition’s favor, fears rose of a partitioned Ukraine as the eastern Russian-speaking regions warned they would split off into an autonomous territory.

Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev criticized the parliamentary vote, which reinforced the opposition’s call for a re-run election to be held on December 12.

From California Yankee.

“This decision could lead to a split” in Ukraine, he said. “The goal is to establish order and not to lead the country into chaos,” he added.

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President Bush Targeted For Assassination

Reuters reports that President Bush was targeted for assassination by Colombian rebels when he visited Cartagena last week:

“According to informants and various sources, we had information indicating that various members of the FARC had been instructed by their leaders to make an attempt against President Bush,” Defense Secretary Jorge Alberto Uribe told reporters.

From California Yankee.

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Ukraine Updates

Posted by Michele at 05:26 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Ukraine Election Declared Invalid

Ukraine’s parliament declared the country’s disputed presidential election invalid Saturday amid international calls for a new vote, fueling what has become a political tug-of-war between the West and Moscow over the future of this former Soviet republic.

The elections commission chief also said he was not opposed to a revote.

Parliament’s vote, which was symbolic and has no legal standing, came as representatives of the two presidential rivals sought a solution in talks mediated by European envoys. Demonstrators jammed downtown Kiev in freezing weather for a sixth straight day, alleging the Nov. 21 vote was rigged and robbed their candidate, Viktor Yushchenko, of victory.

Read more….

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November 27, 2004

Ukraine's TV Journalists in Open Revolt

From the BBC :

Journalists on Ukraine’s state-owned channel - which had previously given unswerving support to Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych - have joined the opposition, saying they have had enough of “telling the government’s lies”.

Journalists on another strongly pro-government TV station have also promised an end to the bias in their reporting. The turnaround in news coverage, after years of toeing the government line, is a big setback for Mr Yanukovych.

Journalists in Ukraine seem to have responded to the call by opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko for them to reject government censorship.

A correspondent on the state channel, UT1, announced live on the evening bulletin that the entire news team was going to join the protests in Independence Square. She said their message to the protesters was: “We are not lying anymore”.

For the first time in years, the UT1 bulletin aired opposition views in a balanced way after the station’s management acceded to the journalists’ demands.

Hat Tip : Instapundit

Posted by Alan Brain at 09:27 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Ukrainian Parliment rejects election results

The Ukrainian Parliment has rejected the reported results of the Nov. 21st runoff election

Parliament passed by large majorities two points of a resolution saying the Nov. 21 poll was invalid, subject to many irregularities and failed to reflect voters’ intentions.
Posted by Windrider at 09:15 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

November 26, 2004

Ukraine Premier Warns of 'Coup'

Reuters reports that Ukrainian Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich urged supporters on Friday to help him avert an “unconstitutional coup:”

“Dear friends, together we must do everything so that an unconstitutional coup in Ukraine does not happen,” Yanukovich told thousands of his own supporters brought to Kiev by train from the Donbass coalfield in his power base — the Russian- speaking east of the country.

“I believe in our strength, I believe in the law, I believe in the constitution,” Yanukovich told the crowd, mostly men in their 30s and 40s, outside the main railway station.

A Reuters Television correspondent at the station said the miners were highly organized — broken up into groups of 100, each under the direction of a supervisor. Most were carrying large sticks.

Posted by Dan Spencer at 11:03 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Kiev Webcams

In order of likelihood to show anything of interest happening.

Kiev Maidan
Solomyanska Square
Kiev Southern Railway Station

And if you’re waiting due to Bytelock, there’s a still picture of Ruslana, the Ukrainian Pop Singer and Eurovision song contest winner.

Updating a previous post, from her site :

5.11.04. Ruslana’s address to the international mass media community
Due to the recent situation in Ukraine regarding the rigged presidential elections, Ruslana is sending an address to all the mass media agencies in Europe asking them to be as detailed as possible about the situation in Ukraine.
“Your objective and detailed coverage of the events in Ukraine, where every day demonstrations of hundreds of thousands of people are happening, is vital for us at this moment. Only when the European community takes an active stand about the violations of basic democratic principles in Ukraine, there is a chance to re-establish justice.” - she said. “I believe that the victory of the opposition leader Victor Yuschenko, which we are all aspiring for, will also influence the preparations for Eurovision Song Contest 2005 in the positive way”.
On September 21st, Ukraine held the presidential elections that were rigged in favor of the current Prime Minister Victor Yanukovich, who clearly won the minority of votes.
24.11.04, 20:23.
The protest that Ruslana has initiated was supported by other Ukrainian musicians.
To this moment we have the agreements of various Ukrainian artists in support of Ruslana’s choice to protest. Detailed information will soon be available on the web cite.
Posted by Alan Brain at 08:07 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Ukraine Tensions Rise

Things are coming to the boil, and rather quickly. Hence the abbreviated posts, the situation is changing hourly - follow the links to read the rest.

Russia Slams Western Interference :

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has slammed Western intervention in Ukraine, as the European Union stepped up efforts to mediate a standoff over a presidential vote in the former Soviet republic.

Ukrainian Opposition surrounds Key Buildings:

Ukraine’s pro-Russia Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich has been prevented by blockades from meeting European leaders trying to mediate an end to a disputed election.

A Government spokeswoman says the Prime Minister was unable to enter his offices because thousands of Opposition supporters are blocking key state buildings.

Ukraine opposition blocks HQ :

Several thousand Ukraine opposition supporters today blocked the entrance to government headquarters in the capital Kiev, according to AFP reporters on the scene.

Yushchenko! Yushchenko!” chanted the crowd clad in the orange standard of opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko, as more and more people streamed to the 10-story building in the centre of the capital.

Opposition Claims Russian Troops in Kiev :

I confirm the presence of Russian special units in Kiev, I can tell you where they are staying. They arrived in Kiev by plane and put on Ukrainian uniforms. They are armed with submachine guns,” Boris Tarassuk told bTV private television.

Mr Tarassuk is the president of the Ukraine parliament’s foreign affairs commission…

Now possibly the crucial development :

Ukraine TV starts showing protests :

The Ukrainian Government’s control over nationwide television was broken today, a key factor in maintaining support for Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich, when a station began covering opposition demonstrations that have gripped the capital.

The pro-government private channel 1+1 said in a statement yesterday that it decided to begin providing “objective information” after having halted news broadcasts since Monday when journalists refused to operate under censorship.

The first reports of the mass opposition rallies in the country were aired in the dawn hours of today.

The channel is controlled by the powerful head of the presidential administration, Viktor Medvedtchuk.

Television stations which broadcast nationwide have provided extensive positive coverage of Mr Yanukovich, the declared winner of the election, while giving scant and negative attention to opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko.

We are aware of our responsibility for having until now broadcast biased information under pressure for different political forces,” 1+1 journalists said in a statement.

Given the current opposition in society we are obliged to declare that … all information will now be complete and objective,” they said.

Game Over.

Posted by Alan Brain at 07:28 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Ukraine Updates

Ukrainian opposition supporters encircled the presidential and Cabinet buildings on Friday, refusing to let anyone pass in a bold move ahead of the arrival of four European envoys sent to defuse the electoral standoff.
Ukraine’s Supreme Court barred the publication of the official presidential election results for a week until it has examined an appeal lodged by the opposition against them, a spokeswoman told the foreign media.
The president of Ukraine has reportedly decided to meet with the opposition candidate for president.
Russia’s Interfax news agency says the meeting will take place today. It also says European envoys will present for the meeting between President Leonid Kuchma and Viktor Yushchenko

From Notes from Keiv:

Residents with apartments overlooking the Presidential Administration grounds last night witnessed the burning of documents. It lasted from 9:00pm to 3:00am. It also has been suggested the Russian troops at the Presidential Administration are there to destory documents that Russia/Kuchma might wish to keep away from public view. Apparently this was done in Iraq and Geogria before their fall.

  • Postmodernclog has Part II of How and Why the Election was Stolen. Scroll down for photos and updates as well.
Posted by Michele at 07:12 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 25, 2004

Ukraine Court Blocks Elected Leader Taking Over

KIEV (Reuters) - Ukraine’s highest court on Thursday blocked the inauguration of Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich, whose contested election has led to mass protests, and said it would examine a complaint by his liberal challenger.

The Supreme Court rejected the official publication of election results that showed Yanukovich had beaten Viktor Yushchenko in a run-off election last Sunday.

In its ruling, the Supreme Court appeared to turn the tide of events in favor of Yushchenko, who has brought thousands of supporters on to the streets after alleging he was cheated out of the election.

A president cannot be sworn in without the result being officially published.

Posted by Michele at 12:35 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Ukraine Crisis Goes to Court - Plus More Updates

Opposition candidate Viktor Yushchenko filed an appeal with Ukraine’s Supreme Court on Thursday to declare the results of the presidential election invalid, while huge throngs of his supporters jammed central Kiev.

More here.

Posted by Michele at 11:13 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

More Ukraine News

Canada rejected the result of a presidential election in Ukraine, joining the United States in refusing to recognise pro-Russia candidate Viktor Yanukovich as the winner.

Deputy Prime Minister Anne McLellan warned that unless Ukraine opened the results of Sunday’s election to transparent scrutiny, its relations with Canada, where a million people claim some Ukrainian descent, could be at risk.

“Considering the allegations of serious and significant electoral fraud from international and Canadian observers, the government of Canada cannot accept that the announced results by the central election commission reflect the true democratic will of the Ukrainian people,” McLellan said.

  • Fistful of Euros, blogging from Romania, writes historically about coal miners being bused in to vote.
  • Lots of news at Maidan, which describes itself as An Internet Hub for Civil Resistance to Authoritarianism in Ukraine.
Posted by Michele at 06:04 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Ukraine Strike Begins

Opposition leaders, backed by thousands of supporters who spent a fourth night outside in the bitter cold, kicked off a nationwide strike Thursday to protest the Ukrainian government’s decision to name a Kremlin-backed candidate winner of presidential elections.

[….]

Wednesday’s call by reformist candidate Viktor Yushchenko and his allies for an “all-Ukrainian political strike” came after election officials declared Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych the winner of the bitterly disputed runoff that the United States and the European Union denounced as rigged.

More here..

[fixed link]

Posted by Michele at 05:51 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

New Energy Currents: 2004-11-24

The election has come and gone, but energy issues are, you know, ‘here to stay.’ While oil prices may be settling down, international efforts to transform our energy systems and reduce greenhouse gases are just starting to gear up, as the Kyoto Protocol and a new Methane to Markets initiative (spearheaded by the US) come into effect. In addition to the industrialized world’s efforts to clean up its own massive energy systems, the non-industrialized world’s need for new energy sources is growing steadily - and, in China’s case, so explosively that it will have a dramatic and lasting affect on the global environment and international politics.

Fortunately, there’s a lot of hard work being done by scientists, engineers, and (sometimes) policymakers around the world to come up with a wide variety of potential approaches that will compete with as well as compliment each other as we slowly transform our energy systems. To help you keep track of these developments, ‘New Energy Currents’ is a broad but by no means comprehensive compilation of noteworthy news in energy technology and policy from the past month (by John Atkinson, of chiasm).

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November 24, 2004

Civil War Warning in Ukraine - More Updates

Ukraine opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko on Wednesday called for a national strike that would halt transport and shut factories in protest at the declaration that his Moscow-backed rival had won election as president.

Outgoing President Leonid Kuchma, meanwhile, warned that civil war could “become a reality” in the country and he asked the world community to stay out of Ukraine’s affairs.

Yushchenko said that the naming of Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich to succeed Kuchma, after an election marked by mass cheating, brought Ukraine to “the brink of civil conflict.”

“We do not recognize the election result as officially declared,” Yushchenko told tens of thousands of supporters massed in Kiev’s main square as heavy snow fell.

Tension Mounts in Kiev Streets:

With hundreds of thousands of protesters from both sides on the streets of Kiev by evening, tension was mounting.

The peaceful and sometimes carnival atmosphere at Independence Square had been replaced with an air of tension.

There are fears there may be violent confrontations.

Ongoing Ukraine blog coverage here and here.

Bush envoy to Ukraine hints U.S. may act:

President George W. Bush’s special representative to Ukraine suggested Tuesday that concrete measures be taken against anyone found to have obstructed the presidential elections there, including a travel ban.

CSM: The East-West Stakes Over Ukraine

To be updated.

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Powell: Ukraine Election Results No Good

Secretary of State Colin Powell (search) said Wednesday the United States cannot accept the results of elections in Ukraine, which the opposition says was marred by fraud.

Powell warned “there will be consequences” for the United States’ relationship with Ukraine as a result of the developments in the former Soviet bloc nation.


Read more…

Posted by Michele at 01:34 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Ukraine Election - Winner Declared - Updated

Breaking from Reuters:

Ukraine’s Central Election Commission on Wednesday declared Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich the winner in a presidential election denounced by the opposition as subject to mass fraud.

Commission head Serhiy Kivalov told reporters that Yanukovich has won 49.46 percent of the vote to 46.61 percent for liberal opposition challenger Viktor Yushchenko.

See previous Ukraine election coverage here.

More here from AP.

Update:

The team of opposition candidate Viktor Yushchenko on Wednesday filed with Ukraine’s Supreme Court a suit complaining that the Central Elections Commission failed to disclose how many absentee ballots were issued and used in Sunday’s presidential runoff.

A blogger in Ukraine reports live.

Posted by Michele at 11:43 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Ukraine Election Roundup [Updated]

[See also previous post here]

A firebrand opposition leader once dubbed Ukraine’s “gas princess” is rallying hundreds of thousands of demonstrators through Kiev’s snowy streets to protest against what they call a rigged presidential election.

At least 2.8 million ballots were rigged in favor of Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych, the independent Ukrainian committee of voters (CVU) reported today to the daily business newsletter Ukrainian Journal.
“The fraud was carried out systematically and involved at least 85,000 local officials throughout Ukraine,” the CVU’s deputy chairman Oleksiy Koshel and chief legal expert Andriy Duda told the Journal. “It’s the biggest election fraud in Ukraine’s history,” they said.
The U.S. State Department called in Russia’s ambassador to the United States to voice concern over Moscow’s early embrace of its preferred candidate in the disputed Ukranian presidential election, a U.S. official said on Tuesday.

—-

Ukraine’s Central Election Commission has turned into an insurmountable fortress as it prepares to announce the official results of the November 21 presidential run-off.

The multi-storey building in the centre of Kiev is surrounded at least by five security circles. The first two, which have become a casual sight during the presidential election, are a metal fence and a shield barrier, behind which about 10 military vehicles stand.

[To be updated]

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November 23, 2004

Ukraine in crisis as opposition leader declares himself president

AFP: Ukraine in crisis as opposition leader declares himself president

Ukraine’s political crisis threatened to spiral out of control as thousands of opposition supporters surrounded the presidency hours after their leader Viktor Yushchenko declared himself president.

Hundreds of security forces cordoned off the presidency in the capital Kiev as demonstrators shouted slogans and called on police to join the protest.

After an emergency parliament session, Yushchenko called on Ukrainian civil servants and police to cross over and join the mass demonstrations that have gripped the nation since the weekend presidential vote.

“Ukraine needs you, come over to our side,” he urged, as protesters camped defiantly outside the legislature, many waving the signature opposition color of orange, before heeding a call to march on the presidency.

“Form a column and come with us to the presidency. We will surround it and we will wait for them to surrender or we will demand that they do so. We will not use force,” said Yulia Timoshenko, another opposition leader.

Posted by Laurence Simon at 03:58 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

November 22, 2004

Fatah chooses Abbas as candidate to replace Arafat as PA chairman

HAARETZ: Fatah chooses Abbas as candidate to replace Arafat as PA chairman

Fatah formally chose former premier Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) on Monday as its candidate to replace Yasser Arafat as chairman of the Palestinian Authority in January 9 elections, a Palestinian official said.

Abbas, 69, Arafat’s longtime deputy as head of the Palestine Liberation Organization, has already been named head of the PLO. If elected president of the Palestinian Authority, he would inherit two of Arafat’s main titles. Arafat died November 11.

Abbas served as Arafat’s first prime minister in 2003. However, he resigned after just four months in power.

The Fatah Central Committee, the movement’s main decision-making body, picked Abbas as its nominee at a meeting in Ramallah late Monday, said Intissar al-Wazir, a member of the body.

Wait… didn’t they report earlier that… or state earlier that… or swear that… he wasn’t… but is…

Posted by Laurence Simon at 03:36 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Nazi "Angel of Death", Josef Mengele's Papers And Diaries Found In Sao Paulo, Brazil

Eighty-five previously unreleased letters and diaries of the "Angel of Death", Josef Mengele, have been found in a Sao Paulo, Brazil police storeroom. The letters were seized in 1985 from the house of a German couple Mengele had been hidden by. Mengele was the brutal doctor who experimented on Jews and others in sadistic ways.

One way in which he would experiment was putting a person in a pressure chamber without protection and then, while watching, reduce the pressure until they went into convulsions and died. He would then study the effects pressure had on them after death.

He also had a fascination with twins. He would infect one twin with a disease and upon the death of the diseased twin then would kill the other, so he could do comparative autopsies.

Mengele died in 1979, at age 66, in a drowning incident and was never brought to justice.

The Scotsman

Extracts from the diaries and letters were printed yesterday by a newspaper in So Paulo.

...

Of his own actions in "selecting" whether victims at Auschwitz were to live to work or to be experimented upon, or to be dispatched in the gas chambers, he wrote: "I gave life in Auschwitz, I did not take it."

...

But he also remained true to the Fhrers ideal that Jews "should never be allowed to mix their blood with others".

And he wrote not a single word of regret about their destruction on an industrial production-line scale, yet found time to criticise Israel for its "persecution" of the Palestinians as early as 1969.

The Herald

Mengele fled to Argentina in 1949. Ten years later he moved to Paraguay, then to Sao Paulo state in 1960. He drowned in the coastal town of Bertioga, aged 66. DNA tests in 1992 concluded it was Mengele.

Tipped by: Captains Quarters

Originally Posted at Diggers Realm

Posted by Digger at 09:32 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

November 20, 2004

Image Shows Missing Kim Jong Il Photo

missing_kim_jong_il.jpg

Above is an image [courtesy of East Asia Intel] that shows one of the recent disappearances of Kim Jong Il photos throughout North Korea.

East Asia Intel

Some defectors from North Korea had said in response to news reports about removed portraits, that they would be replaced by new ones in more ornate frames.

...

Portraits of Kim and his deceased father are mandatory fixtures in every home, office, public buildings and factory in the country. All adults are required to wear lapel pins bearing images of one or both Kims.

I'm still not convinced. I think there has been a coup or some sort of physical ailment or death to the leader. In my previous entry I reported that media had also stopped referring to him as "Beloved Leader".

Tipped by: Ace of Spades

Originally posted at Diggers Realm

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November 19, 2004

U.N. Staff Votes "No Confidence" in Leaders

A union representing United Nations (search) staff has voted “no confidence” in senior management, including Secretary-General Kofi Annan (search).

The vote is largely symbolic and has no effect over Annan’s job or anyone else’s. But it isn’t a good sign for his and other top officials’ effectiveness as leaders of the world body.

It is the first time in the labor organization’s history that it has cast such a vote, which happened behind closed doors Friday afternoon at U.N. headquarters in New York.

The move was in response to a series of scandals plaguing the United Nations under Annan’s leadership.

Read more…

Posted by Michele at 04:08 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Egyptians Outraged at Killing of Guards

AP: Egyptians Outraged at Killing of Guards

Egyptians enraged at Israel’s mistaken killing of three border policemen protested after Friday prayers at Cairo’s main mosque under a banner that read: “The pigs’ apology doesn’t quench our rage.”

Israel’s army chief promised a swift investigation.

About 600 people protested the killings after prayers at the millennium-old Al-Azhar mosque, carrying banners: “Don’t forget Oct. 6, 1973,” the day Egypt initiated its last war with Israel, and “The pigs’ apology doesn’t quench our rage.”

(The IDF hasn’t forgotten 10/6/1973… which probably is why the tank crew fired first and is now asking questions later.)

Posted by Laurence Simon at 03:38 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Qureia: We will inform Palestinians of cause of Arafat's death

HAARETZ: Qureia: We will inform Palestinians of cause of Arafat’s death

Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia told the Associated Press on Friday that there was no doubt that Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat’s medical records - which French officials have refused to release publicly - would come to light.

“When we get this report, we will study it and hear the opinions of the doctors,” Qureia said, “and then we will inform the Palestinian people with all the details about the health situation of President Arafat and what led to his death.”

Arafat’s nephew, Nasser al-Kidwa, headed to Paris on Friday to obtain the medical records related to the PA chairman’s death, a Palestinian official said Thursday.

Posted by Laurence Simon at 12:57 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

US plans direct aid to Palestinians

The Bush administration is planning to give $20 million in direct aid to the Palestinian Authority in a renewed push for peace in the Middle East.

The administration on Wednesday notified key congressional committees of its plans, which could be announced when outgoing US Secretary of State Colin Powell meets with Palestinian officials in West Bank early next week.

Keep reading

In a related article from JINSA

We congratulate Dr. Condoleezza Rice on her nomination as Secretary of State and sincerely wish her well in a difficult task. Not only does she have to represent American government policy to foreign governments, she has to represent President Bush’s policy to the State Department. We hope one of her first duties will be to banish those who were responsible for an official American presence at Yasser Arafat’s funeral. Israeli sources report that top-level Iranians involved in anti-U.S. activity and international terror were talking to Palestinians at the funeral while U.S. envoy William Burns was standing there. We’re not surprised that they used the opportunity to discuss mischief. Whose bright idea was it to send President Bush’s “respects” in any event - President Bush had already made it clear enough that he didn’t respect Arafat.

Dr. Rice could do the President a further service by promising to work with Congress to protect the transparency of the $20 million Colin Powell is planning to deliver to the PA as he exits the government.

Twenty million dollars is both a lot of money and a drop in the bucket. It is pennies toward the “creation of institutions that serve the needs of the Palestinian people,” which President Bush called for in his seminal speech of June 24, 2002. To really help the people (and we’re being VERY generous here, because the demonstration of wanton violence and naked hatred during Arafat’s burial gives us serious pause about wanting to do anything for those people) would take all the billions Arafat stole and Suha spent. It would also take a redirection of money away from 12 security services, preachers as paid fomenters of violence and a wholesale purge of the Palestinian media, school system and UNRWA. THEN, we could talk about helping the Palestinian people (such as they are).

Posted by Robert Mayer at 08:39 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 18, 2004

Breaking News; Freedom and Chaos in Burma (updated)

Myanmar begins freeing nearly 4,000 prisoners

Myanmar’s military government on Thursday began releasing nearly 4,000 prisoners charged by the recently abolished National Intelligence Bureau, state radio and television announced.

“There were irregular undertakings by the National Intelligence Bureau before it was dissolved on October 22. A total of 3,937 prisoners who were found to be the victims of irregular proceedings of the NIB were released starting from Nov 18,” a brief official radio announcement said.

Burma frees thousands from jail

It is not known whether any of those freed were political prisoners.

State radio said 3,937 prisoners were being released from jails throughout the country but did not provide a timetable

Explosion occurs in Myanmar capital

100 injured in police-Myanmar refugees clash

UN demand release of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi

United Nations’ General Assembly has demanded the military junta of Burma, State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) to release the Nobel Laureate Daw Aung San Suu Kyi from house arrest.

The call for her release was made at the ongoing 59th General Assembly in New York. The UN also urged the junta to respect the result of May 1990 general election in which the National League for Democracy (NLD) won a landslide victory, and to carry out democratic changes in the country.

It also demanded the junta to form an independent organisation to investigate into 30 May Dipeyin (Tabayin) incident in which NLD supporters and leaders were brutally attacked, and to put an end to the practice of forced labour and systematic rapes of womenfolk by Burmese soldiers.

Moreover, the UN demanded the junta to cooperate fully with its special envoy Mr. Razali Ismail and human rights envoy Mr. Paulo Sergio Pinheiro.

The exiled National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma (NCGUB) UN representative Dr. Thaung Tun said the demands mean that the UN is no longer supporting the junta’s seven-point “roadmap” to democracy.

He stressed that the UN’s decisions only empower the General Secretary to act on Burma but he added that the people of Burma themselves must also work harder for the emergence of democracy.

As of today Aung San Suu Kyi has been detained for a total of:

9 years, 0 months and 25 days

Join the global campaign by MTV and the Burma Campaign UK to free Burmese pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi and all political prisoners in Burma. Aung San Suu Kyi is now serving her third term of house arrest. She was arrested on 30 May, 2003 after the regime’s militia attacked her convoy and killed up to 100 of her supporters.

Click here, it will take 2 seconds of your time.

[update]

Myanmar mass release stirs faint hope for political prisoners
However, Burma junta dividing ethnic groups and Burmese soldiers still raping ethnic women

Posted by Robert Mayer at 09:49 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Kyoto

Russia hands Annan ratification of Kyoto climate pact, allowing it to go into force

Russia today formally delivered its ratification of the Kyoto treaty against global warming to Secretary-General Kofi Annan, enabling the pact that seeks to reduce so-called greenhouse gases to go into effect in what the United Nations chief called “a great day for the whole world.”

“This is a historic step forward in the world’s efforts to combat a truly global threat,” Mr. Annan told Russia’s Permanent Representative to the UN, Andrey Denisov, at the ceremony in Nairobi, Kenya, where the Security Council is meeting in a special session aimed at ending Sudan’s various wars.

After President George W. Bush withdrew United States support for the Kyoto Protocol in 2001, Russian ratification became vital for it to enter into force since 55 Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change must ratify it, including developed countries whose combined 1990 emissions of carbon dioxide exceed 55 per cent of that group’s total.

Russia, with 17 per cent of the emissions, pushes the amount beyond that threshold and the Protocol will now become legally binding on its 128 parties 90 days from tomorrow, on 16 February.

“All countries must now do their utmost to combat climate change and to keep it from undermining our efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs),” Mr. Annan said in reference to the targets set by the UN Millennium Summit of 2000 seeking to halve extreme poverty and hunger, reduce infant and maternal mortality and achieve other social goals, all by 2015.

“I therefore take this opportunity to urge those developed countries that have not ratified the Protocol to ratify it and limit their emissions,” he added.

Also speaking at the ceremony, UN Environment Programme (UNEP) Executive Director Klaus Toepfer warned that recent environmental reports clearly demonstrate “the disasters in store for people and the planet if we do not build on the solid foundation of Kyoto.

“But I am confident that we can avert the nightmare scenarios of a 7-metre rise in sea levels and other catastrophic effects by mobilizing industry and business, governments, local authorities and ordinary people everywhere,” he said.

Under the Kyoto Protocol, industrialized countries are to reduce their combined emissions of six major greenhouse gases during the five-year period from 2008 to 2012 to below-1990 levels. The European Union and Japan, for example, are to cut these emissions by 8 per cent and 6 per cent respectively. For many countries, achieving the Kyoto targets will be a major change that will require new policies and new approaches.

Posted by Robert Mayer at 12:23 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Yasser Arafat's condition - mystery update

HAARETZ: Arafat’s medical records could be relaesed to al-Kidwa

Creating an out from a sticky diplomatic problem, French authorities said Thursday they would release Yasser Arafat’s medical records to his nephew if he asks for them, which could help demystify the cause of the Palestinian Authority chairman’s death.

Officials here insist that French law prevents them from making Arafat’s medical records public, and they have refused to announce the cause of his death in a Paris-area military hospital on November 11.

The lack of information has proved fertile ground for widespread rumors in the Arab world that Israel poisoned Arafat, despite official denials. It also left the quality of care that Arafat received in France open to question and charges that perhaps not everything was done to save him.

The mystery and rumors also risk complicating life for Arafat’s successors as they take over the reins of power. That, too, goes against France’s wishes, which says it wants a smooth transition for the Palestinian Authority.

Because Arafat’s nephew Nasser al-Kidwa is also the Palestinian representative to the United Nations, giving him the records offers France a way out, allowing it to abide by medical privacy laws that restrict information to family members while also responding to the Palestinian Authority’s efforts to determine the cause of Arafat’s death. Giving al-Kidwa the medical records would also put the onus on him to explain the cause of death.

Posted by Laurence Simon at 10:16 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

PA/PLO Elections roundup

HAARETZ: 5 Palestinian factions to field joint candidate for PA chair

Five Palestinian factions, including two radical groups, have agreed to field a joint candidate in the January 9 election to replace the late Yasser Arafat as Palestinian Authority chairman, an official said Thursday.

Two of the groups, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PLFP) and the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, boycotted the previous Palestinian election in 1996.

Both factions rejected Arafat’s interim peace deals with Israel.

The factions, which also include the Struggle Front, People’s Party and Democratic Federation (FIDA) - all of them small groups - agreed in recent meetings in Gaza to run a joint candidate, but have yet to select one.

On Tuesday, Abdel-Sattar Qassem, a longtime critic of Arafat, and Talal Seder al-Ayyoubi, one of Arafat’s loyalists, became the first to announce their candidacy in the January poll.

Al-Ayyoubi was once Yasser Arafat’s Sports Minister and more recently served as his adviser on religious affairs.

MAARIV: Barghouti will decide next week whether to run in PA elections

Marwan Barghouti will decide next week whether to run in the upcoming January 9 elections in the Palestinian Authority, the close associates of the inmate said.

“On Saturday, the list of candidates for office is to officially open”, one of the former Tanzim leader’s confidantes said this morning. “During next week, Barghouti will decide whether to run”, he noted.

Another source close to Barghouti confirmed the details of the report and said, “His decision will be announced next week”.

Political sources in Jerusalem told NRG Maariv that even if Barghouti announces his candidacy, Israel has no intentions of releasing him. “He was sentenced by an Israeli court to five life terms. One cannot make a mockery of a court decision”, they said.

Posted by Laurence Simon at 10:13 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Kim Jong-Il on the Skids?

Unlikely. We think. From ABC :

North Korea seems to be softening its hitherto rigid personality cult around leader Kim Jong-il, experts on the reclusive communist state said on Thursday — although they were still unsure why the changes had been made.

Some diplomats in Pyongyang, and other experts in the South with contacts in the North, said this week that portraits of Kim had been removed from some public places, starting as far back as September or even August. Others say little has changed.

In Tokyo, a Japanese news agency said on Thursday that North Korean media had dropped the most laudatory references to leader Kim Jong-il in the Korean broadcasts and texts it monitors.

It may be an attempt to distance the country from the international image of worshipping a cult figure,” said Koh Yu-hwan, a professor and leading expert on Kim at Seoul’s Dongguk University. “The conditions in the North are not good, and there is a greater scrutiny also.”

Michael Breen, author of a biography of Kim, said it was too early to say what was behind the strategy, but it could be an attempt to deflect personal blame for the country’s ills.

Breen said he would like to see more evidence of the changes beyond the reports seen so far.

Or just possibly “blame his country’s -Il’s”. But you never know. Maybe it’s just a reaction to his recent film role.

Hat Tip : Powerline

Posted by Alan Brain at 10:13 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Is Kim Jong Il Still the "Dear Leader"?

Kevin at Wizbang points us to this Megapundit analysis of two developments that augur a possible erosion (or more) in the power of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Il: the removal of portraits of Kim and recent North Korean news reports that failed to refer to him as “Dear Leader.” Read the whole thing. Megapundit also points to an article in yesterday’s New York Times noting some of the same phenomena.

Stay tuned.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 10:11 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Powell: Iran Working On Nuclear Missiles

From Reuters via News Ltd :

The United States has seen information suggesting Iran is working on the technology to deliver a nuclear warhead on a missile, US Secretary of State Colin Powell said today.

I have seen some information that would suggest they have been actively working on delivery systems … you don’t have a weapon until you can put it in something that can deliver a weapon,” he told reporters during a brief stop in Brazil on his way to an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting in Chile.

I’m talking about what one does with a warhead,” Mr Powell said.

We are talking about information that says they not only have (the) missiles but information that suggests they are working hard about how to put the two together.”

Posted by Alan Brain at 08:18 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 17, 2004

Putin: Russia testing new missiles

CNN: Putin: Russia testing new missiles

President Vladimir Putin says Russia’s armed forces will soon have access to advanced nuclear missile systems unlike those held by other countries.

Speaking to high-ranking military officials Wednesday, Putin said that while international terrorism was one of the main threats facing Russia, the country’s nuclear defenses also had to be kept up to date.

“We are conducting research and are testing the most up-to-date nuclear missile systems, which, I’m sure, will be supplied to the armed forces in the near future,” Putin was quoted as saying by Interfax news agency.

“What is even more important, these systems will have no analogues in the other nuclear powers during the next few years.”

“International terrorism is one of the major threats for Russia. We understand as soon as we ignore such components of our defense as a nuclear and missile shield, other threats may occur.”

Putin gave no further details about what type of weapons he was referring to.

Posted by Laurence Simon at 09:16 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

UN Members Accused of Supplying Arms to Sudan

Amnesty International has implicated four permanent members of the UN Security Council in the supply of arms to Sudan.

In a report released yesterday at a Nairobi hotel, the organisation accused the Security Council of doing little to stop the sale of arms to the war-torn country.

Countries breaking the arms embargo are France, China, USSR, United Kingdom and United States among others.

Arms brokers in Ireland and UK, the report says, were involved in negotiations to supply £2.25 million worth of arms to Sudan in September.

Amnesty Arms and Security Director Brian Wood said the July resolution passed by the Security Council preventing the supply of military equipment to militias has not been honoured.

The resolution outlawed the sale and supply of military and police equipment to the warring groups in Sudan.

Woods appealed to the Security Council to impose a mandatory arms embargo on the government of Sudan to stop military supplies from reaching the parties in Darfur.

The report indicated that military planes and helicopters used to bomb villages and support ground attacks on civilians were sold to Sudan by companies in Russia, China and Belarus.

Small arms and light weapons are exported to Sudan mainly from China, France, Iran and Saudi Arabia.

France is cited as the largest exporter of bombs, grenades and ammunition. Between 2000 and 2001, it exported military items worth US $268,612.

China supplied parts and accessories for shotguns, pistols and revolvers worth US$978,172, while Saudi Arabia exported military weapons worth US$58,329.

The report said such equipment has been used to help launch indiscriminate and direct attacks on civilians.

Woods also urged the states mentioned in the report to immediately suspend transfers of all types of arms and related logistical and security supplies to Sudan.

“The armed forces and militias use these arms to commit grave human rights abuses and war crimes thus the states supplying should stop,” said woods.

He said resolutions passed by the Security Council should be taken seriously by all countries and those breaking them be held responsible.

“Resolutions passed by the UN should be respected and a specific monitoring body shoud be established to ensure no one violates the resolutions,” he said.

allAfrica.com

Sudan: Arms trade fuelling human rights abuse in Darfur Amnesty International

Posted by Robert Mayer at 06:32 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

November 16, 2004

Yasser Arafat's condition [UPDATE]

Yasser Arafat is still dead.

Posted by Laurence Simon at 03:51 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Interim PA chairman: No elections if no vote in East J'lem

Now that elections have been announced, let the list of gambits and demands begin…

HAARETZ: Interim PA chairman: No elections if no vote in East J’lem

If there are no elections for the Palestinian Authority chairman in East Jerusalem, Israel Radio quoted the interim PA leader as saying Tuesday, then there will be no elections at all.
Speaking to the Al-Arabiya satellite channel, Rouhi Fattouh said Tuesday that he would not stand in the January elections, and joined former Gaza security chief Mohammed Dahlan in voicing his support for PLO leader Mahmoud Abbas in the vote.

“Abu Mazen [Abbas] is the candidate and he will be unanimously elected,” said Fattouh, who was sworn in as PA chairman on the day of Arafat’s death.

Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom pledged Monday all possible help for the Palestinians in holding the elections, but said that while the 200,000 Arabs who live in East Jerusalem could vote, they would not be permitted to do so in the capital.

“Jerusalem is the eternal capital - undivided capital - of Israel and of course we will do everything to keep it that way,” Shalom said after a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell.

“There will be no elections in Jerusalem,” although the Palestinians will be able to ballot by mail, as they have in the past, Shalom said, citing the precedent of 1996, when he said they were able to mail in their votes.

“Even in the example of the last election in 1996, there were no elections in Jerusalem. Those Palestinians voted then, only through envelopes, through the mail office,” Shalom said.

UPDATE:
Mohammed Dahlan has dropped out. Apparently his “We’ll win the voters in Jenin and Bethlehem and Jericho and Gaza and Tulkarm and YEEEEAAARRRGGGHHHHH!” meltdown doomed him.

UPDATE:
From Haaretz ticker: Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom says East Jerusalem Arabs will be allowed to vote in PA elections in the capital, despite former objection.

Posted by Laurence Simon at 11:59 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

UN update plus unrelated news from around the world.

(via INBB/International) All links will pop out into a new window.

Security Council imposes immediate arms embargo against Côte d’Ivoire

Seeking to end the violence in Côte d’Ivoire, the United Nations Security Council today imposed an immediate, 13-month arms embargo against the country and gave the parties there one month to get the peace process back on track or face a travel ban and a freeze on their assets.
Under a resolution adopted unanimously, the additional sanctions will go into effect on 15 December unless the Council determines before then that the signatories of two peace deals are working to implement them. Those measures would remain for one year.

  • Massacre Near Ecuador Border

  • Parliament will decide if troops stay into 2005

  • Putin Says Japan Can Take Back 2 Islands

  • Africa inflation seen down - Mboweni

  • Ethiopia says it is open for business

    Posted by Robert Mayer at 07:19 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack
  • November 14, 2004

    Iran Agrees to Suspend Uranium Enrichment - Again

    The Associated Press reports that Iran has agreed to fully suspend uranium enrichment and related activities:

    “Basically it’s a full suspension,” one of the diplomats said on condition of anonymity.

    However, the diplomat said Iran had not yet fulfilled a key part of the deal - formally informing the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency of its decision and asking for agency inspectors to police adherence to its commitment.

    In October 2003, Iran committed to Britain, France and Germany that it would suspend all uranium enrichment and reprocessing activities.

    From California Yankee.

    Posted by Dan Spencer at 02:01 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

    Palestinians Set Jan. 9 for Election

    AP: Palestinians Set Jan. 9 for Election

    Palestinian officials scheduled presidential elections for Jan. 9, 2005, pushing forward with steps to a secure a new leader following the death of Yasser Arafat.

    The vote, announced by caretaker Palestinian leader Rauhi Fattouh, is a key test for the Palestinians, who want a smooth transition of power and hope for renewed international involvement in Mideast peacemaking.

    Arafat, who died Thursday, led the Palestinians for four decades and refused to appoint a successor.

    Candidates will be allowed to submit their papers for the ballot for 12 days, beginning on Nov. 20. The campaigning period will last from Dec. 27 until Jan. 8, Fattouh said.

    Sources believe that Marwan Barghouti, convincted on multiple counts of murder, will sit out these elections.

    HERE WE GO AGAIN:
    From the Haaretz ticker: “Fatah central committee sources: Abbas not movement`s official candidate for PA chairman.”

    The Barghouti Gambit may still be on.

    Posted by Laurence Simon at 09:44 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

    November 13, 2004

    Mosque set on fire in Netherlands

    BBC reports:

    A fire has badly damaged a mosque in the Netherlands, in what may be the latest in a series of arson attacks.
    Posted by Oskar van Rijswijk at 02:57 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

    Cheney Taken To Hospital

    Fox News is reporting broadcasting that Vice President Cheney has been taken to a hospital complaining of shortness of breath.

    UPDATE: Reuters reports:

    Vice President Dick Cheney, who has a history of heart attacks, was headed to the hospital on Saturday after he experienced shortness of breath, which could be related to a cold, the White House said.

    UPDATE II: The Associated Press now reports that tests found no abnormalities and Cheney left the hospital after three hours:

    “I feel fine,” the 63-year-old vice president said as he walked out with his wife, Lynne. Cheney smiled and waved. “Sorry we ruined your Saturday,” Mrs. Cheney said. “We’re great.”

    A pacemaker implanted in Cheney’s chest three years ago indicated no irregularities during the past 90 days, said Mary Matalin, a spokeswoman for the vice president. The device gives doctors a three-month readout. She said an electrocardiogram, which measures the heart’s electrical activity, showed no change.

    She said Cheney probably had a viral upper respiratory infection but there was no cardiac or pulmonary problem behind his shortness of breath.

    From California Yankee.

    Posted by Dan Spencer at 01:41 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

    Daw Aung San Suu Kyi

    Nobel Laureates demand the release of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi

    More than 20 Nobel Laureates demanded on 12 November the unconditional release of Burma’s democracy leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi from house arrest.

    The demand was made at the annual meeting of Nobel Laureates in Rome and a letter containing the demand will be sent to the chairman of Burma’s military junta, State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) Senior General Than Shwe.

    The attendants of the meeting including the former Soviet Union leader Mikhail Gorbachev, former South Korea President Kim Dae Jung, former Polish President Lech Valesa, East Timor’s Foreign Minister Ramos Horta and Mairead Corrigan Maguire strongly urged and called upon the SPDC to restore civil, political and human rights and release the symbol of democracy and freedom Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and her supporters.

    Also the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s annual human rights report for 2004 has Burma nearly at the top of the list for HR violations.

    Posted by Robert Mayer at 06:14 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    November 12, 2004

    Afghanistan TV Networks Ordered Off Air

    Afghanistan’s TV networks are in trouble over pop videos, Bollywood movies and even Charlton Heston’s “The Ten Commandments.” According to the Associated Press, an appeal from Afghanistan’s top Islamic judge this week prompted the Cabinet to order television networks temporarily off the air.

    Saad Mohseni, director of Tolo TV, predicted more restrictions would follow:

    He accused officials of trying to silence increasingly sophisticated media coverage of Afghan politics.

    “Ministers will come and go. But the free media should be here to stay to serve the nation and its public,” he said. “This is a time for people to take a stand.”

    From California Yankee.

    Posted by Dan Spencer at 09:12 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    Peterson Verdict

    Breaking News——Scott Peterson guilty in the 1st for Laci, in the 2nd for baby Conner. Penalty phase to begin Nov 22nd.

    Posted by Feste at 04:29 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Martyr Par Excellence

    WASHINGTON TIMES/UPI: Yasser on Yasser: Martyr par excellence

    The last Western news organization to interview Yasser Arafat found him steeped in conspiracy theories and devoted to nursing his image as a martyr.

    His aides, for example, told a Washington Times reporter he was not to ask about Arafat’s birthplace, which his birth certificate says was Cairo, the newspaper reported Friday.

    Arafat wanted to be thought of as being born in Jerusalem, thus boosting Palestinian claims to the ancient city as their capital.

    The leader, who died this week in a French hospital, also accused Israel’s prime minister of the 1995 murder of Yitzak Rabin, a Labor prime minister, and of using depleted uranium against Palestinians.

    As proof of the uranium accusation, Arafat said Palestinians were suffering from infertility and cancer at rates similar to those noted in Nagasaki and Hiroshima after U.S. aircraft dropped atomic bombs on those cities. However, none of the West Bank cancer specialists contacted by the newspaper had ever seen evidence of elevated cancer levels among Palestinians or unique fertility problems.

    And rather than sleep in a large new bedroom built at his compound after a 2002 clash with Israeli forces he chose a smaller room that had been heavily damaged in such clashes — a room he was fond of showing reporters.

    Posted by Laurence Simon at 02:35 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Hope For Palestinian State

    The Associated Press reports that President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair pledged their support for a fresh attempt to broker peace between the Israelis and Plasestinians. The president said it was up to Palestinians to elect a democratic government and Arafat’s successors to allow freedoms to take root:

    “We’ll hold their feet to the fire to make sure that democracy prevails,” he said.

    President Bush was optimistic about the prospects for a Palestinian state:

    “I intend to use the next four years to spend the capital of the United States on such a state,” Bush said. “I believe it is in the interests of the world that such a truly free state develop. I know it is in the interest of the Palestinian people.”

    He said there was a “new opportunity” for resolving the decades-old stalemate and put the onus on the new Palestinian leadership.

    The United States is “looking forward to working with Palestinian leaders who are committed to fighting terrorism and committed to democratic reform,” Bush said.

    From California Yankee.

    Posted by Dan Spencer at 01:13 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    United Nations General Assembly praises for Arafat

    (presented without comment)

    The The United Nations General Assembly has an archived RealPlayer stream of those praising and mourning Yasser Arafat’s passing.

    Posted by Laurence Simon at 12:36 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    Taliban Leader Vows To Retake Afghanistan

    Reuters reports that Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar has vowed to regain control of Afghanistan.

    A message from Omar was sent to newspaper offices in the Pakistani city of Peshawar, the Afghan Islamic Press said:

    “America and its puppets should know that we are determined to free and regain the sovereignty of our country.”

    Omar said Eid was coming at a time when Afghanistan and Islamic values “remain plunged into horror and Crusader vengeance” and Taliban and mujahideen (holy warriors) continued to be imprisoned by the United States in Cuba and Afghanistan.

    “America…is trying to impose its puppet administration,” the message said. “Moral decadence, desecration of Islamic values and crime are increasing in Afghanistan. Every ploy is being used to mislead women.”

    From California Yankee.

    Posted by Dan Spencer at 08:56 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

    Arafat Buried [Updated]

    Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat (search) was laid to rest Friday in the same Ramallah compound where he had been besieged by Israeli forces for most of the past three years.

    Muslim clerics read Quranic verses after Arafat’s body was lowered into a marble-and-stone grave, security officials said. A handful of soil from Jerusalem’s Temple Mount was scattered onto the coffin.

    Earlier, tens of thousands of Palestinian men, some masked and carrying assault rifles, greeted the Jordanian military helicopters carrying Arafat’s funeral procession as they landed in the compound.

    Palestinian police pushed back the crowd to clear a space for the helicopters to land as chants of “Welcome, Abu Ammar,” Arafat’s nom de guerre, rang out. But as soon as the aircraft had touched down, the crowd surged forward, preventing anyone or anything from disembarking for some time.

    Read more…

    Update:

    A car bomb blew up a few miles from Yasser Arafat’s Ramallah headquarters Friday just as the helicopter carrying the Palestinian leader’s body was set to land in the West Bank city, Israel TV reported.
    Posted by Michele at 08:42 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Japan Identifies Sub as Chinese Nuke

    Updating a previous post , from the AFP via the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) :

    Japan today summoned a Chinese diplomat after identifying a submarine that intruded its waters as Chinese.

    We have judged the submarine to belong to the Chinese navy and it’s likely the submarine was a nuclear submarine and through diplomatic channels we are going to protest to China,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiroyuki Hosoda, the government spokesman, told reporters.

    Foreign Ministry spokesman Hatsuhisa Takashima said Japan will summon Cheng Yonghua, a minister at the Chinese embassy, to hear Japan’s protest.

    ANALYSIS : Only a hopeless incompetent would use a noisy nuke like the Chinese ‘Han’ class on a covert mission in confined waters. Unlike a Donk (a diesel), it’s relatively easy to detect passively, and its sonar signature is unique now the oldest Soviet subs are scrapped, very easy to identify. If they’d used a “Ming” they could easily have gotten away with it, as ID‘ing it from a DPRK sub would be much more difficult. But even a Han should have been able to evade tracking for a long period once it reached the open ocean, if competently handled (and assuming no US nuke boat in the area). 10/10 to the JMSDF for tracking it for so long. Minus several hundred to the People’s Liberation Army Navy, to the idiot Admiral who sent it.

    Note to self : next time, don’t automatically assume minimal competence for the PLA-N. They couldn’t have been so stupid as to use their one-and-only ‘Xia” SSBN (a modified ‘Han’). Or Could they?

    I don’t like being wrong - as my previous analysis was. I wasn’t out-smarted, but I sure was out-dumbed.

    Posted by Alan Brain at 06:58 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

    French Military Refuses to Reveal Cause of Arafat's Demise

    From the AFP via The Australian :

    The French military doctors who treated Yasser Arafat up to his death refused today to say what the 75-year-old Palestinian leader died of, saying it was private information meant for his family only.

    I have no declaration to make on that subject,” a spokesman for the French military’s medical service, Christian Estripeau, told AFP.

    It is not up to the defence forces’ health service to reveal information given to the family.
    […]
    Mr Arafat’s wife Suha, however, has tightly restricted any information about her husband’s medical state.

    Posted by Alan Brain at 06:45 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

    November 11, 2004

    Israel Seals Off Borders

    Tens of thousands of Palestinians rushed into Gaza streets to mourn Yasser Arafat Thursday as others in the West Bank reacted with tears and tributes. Israel responded by sealing the borders of Palestinian territories.

    […]

    Israel closed the West Bank and Gaza Strip borders and sent troop reinforcements to the areas, while beefing up security at Jewish settlements amid concern over possible Palestinian rioting in the coming days.

    “The Israeli Defense Forces are deploying to allow a dignified funeral ceremony for chairman Arafat,” an army statement said.

    Read more…

    Posted by Michele at 12:44 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Palestinians, Arabs mourn Arafat

    AL-JAZEERA: Palestinians, Arabs mourn Arafat

    On the other hand, Kuwaitis shed no tears over the death of Arafat, who had always refused to apologise for his support of the 1990 Iraqi invasion of the oil-rich emirate.

    State-run TV and radio stations did not even interrupt their normal programming to make the announcement. They briefly reported his death during newscasts and continued with normal programming.

    There still was no official reaction from the government by early afternoon.

    The small emirate accused Arafat of supporting Saddam Hussein, who sent his troops to occupy Kuwait in August 1990, and had refused to mend fences with the Palestinians before an official apology from Arafat.

    As much as Kuwaitis loved Arafat and supported the Palestinian cause before the 1990 invasion, they hated him afterwards and often charged that his hands were stained with Kuwaiti blood.

    Hours before Arafat’s death, Kuwait’s Information Minister Muhammad Abu al-Hassan and several lawmakers recalled Arafat’s support for Saddam and branded him a “traitor”.

    Nevertheless, Palestinians in the emirate grieved the loss of Arafat on Thursday.

    Some 80,000 Palestinians and Jordanians of Palestinian origin live and work in Kuwait, down from more than 400,000 before the Iraqi invasion. The rest either fled during the invasion or were expelled from the emirate.

    Posted by Laurence Simon at 09:45 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

    Annan "Deeply Moved" By Arafat's Death

    U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan referred to Yasser Arafat’s death as “tragic,” and said that he was “deeply moved” at the PLO leader’s passing, according to the U.N. News Centre.

    Posted by latefinal at 07:52 AM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

    Arafat News Roundup

    The government said Friday’s service would be a military funeral, as opposed to a state funeral, underscoring Arafat’s failure to achieve Palestinian statehood.

    Tens of thousands of Palestinians poured into the streets of the Gaza Strip in a spontaneous show of grief. Dozens of gunmen fired into the air, and marchers waved Palestinian flags. Mosques blared Quranic verses and children burned tires on the main streets, covering the skies in black smoke. People pasted posters of Arafat on building walls.

    • Under the terms of the Palestinian basic law, the mini constitution, Fattuh will remain caretaker head of the Palestinian Authority until fresh elections are held in 60 days.

    he Palestinian Authority ordered a 40 days’ mourning in the Palestinian territories following Yasser Arafat’s death, the secretary of the Palestinian presidency Tayeb Abdelrahim announced.Shops are closed Trades are closed for three days and administrations for seven days, but mourning will be extended to during 40 days during which flags will be put at half-mast and celebrations cancelled, Abdelrahim stressed.

    Posted by Michele at 06:07 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    Japan leery of China's nuclear energy plans

    Japan knows about nuclear power - from Hiroshima and Nagasaki and from its own nuclear accidents. And it’s worried that China’s voracious appetite for energy, its poor record of industrial safety and its plan to build more nuclear reactors could mean major accidents affecting North Asia.

    Japan, which stands to gain financially from China’s desperate need for energy to fuel its high-powered economy, increasingly is worried that Beijing’s pledge to rely on nuclear power is potentially dangerous, posing serious safety issues for China and Japan. Japan has had its own safety problems with nuclear power and doesn’t want more business at the cost of human life.

    More than half of China’s economy is driven by manufacturing, 54% according to a report by the Far Eastern Economic Review. Economists such as Andy Xie at JPMorganChase affirmed that more than one-third of Chinese consumption is already responsible for Japan’s pulsating yearly growth and its economic recovery.

    Asia Times

    Posted by Robert Mayer at 04:25 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Nigeria-Sudan

    Khartoum Accepts No-Fly Zone, Signs Deal With Rebels

    The Sudan government has agreed to end military flights over Darfur and has signed a peace deal to end 20 months of hostilities with rebels from the western region.

    After three weeks of difficult talks sponsored by the African Union (AU) in the Nigerian capital, Abuja, the parties to the conflict late Tuesday signed a series of breakthrough agreements touching on security and humanitarian issues.

    also in Africa

    African Civil Society Groups Throw Weight Behind Little-Known Nepad

    IN MALAWI, most local civil society organisations were initially critical of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (Nepad).

    Activists regarded the development plan as “top-down”, drafted by a handful of presidents, and adopted by African leaders without public consultation in 2001.

    They complained that its emphasis on promoting foreign investment and trade ignored the constraints facing especially poor countries such as Malawi.

    After some reflection, however, more than 70 such groups formed a coalition called the Malawi Economic Justice Network, which has welcomed Nepad as a “landmark in the process of shared aspirations for African unity”.

    According to coalition spokesmen Dalitso Kingsley Kubalasa, the network still has reservations about the plan, but remained “hopeful that a genuine Nepad” could help Africans reduce poverty, achieve gender equity and attain global economic viability.

    Rather than “giving up on Nepad because the process has not been ideal”, he says, Malawian organisations have decided instead to put forward their own suggestions for advancing Nepad “to make it really work”.

    According to a recent study by the United Nation’s (UN’s) office of the special adviser on Africa: “Overall, there is evidence of growing efforts to involve or consult with civil society organisations and the private sector in implementing Nepad.”

    Posted by Robert Mayer at 04:19 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    November 10, 2004

    It's official - Arafat Dead [Updated]

    Multiple reports: Yasser Arafat is finally dead for the last time.

    CBS, Fox News, Al-Jazeera…

    Fox News:

    Tayeb Abdel Rahim, a top Arafat aide, confirmed that Arafat died at 4:30 am Paris time. He spoke to reporters at Arafat’s headquarters in the West Bank city of Ramallah.

    CNN:

    Arafat’s body will be taken from France to Cairo, where the Egyptian government will host a state funeral for him, Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat said.

    He will be buried outside the Palestinian Authority headquarters compound in the West Bank city of Ramallah — a resting place Erakat called temporary.

    Posted by Laurence Simon at 10:59 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

    Police to focus on J'lem security once Arafat dies

    JERUSALEM POST: Police to focus on J’lem security once Arafat dies

    Police have prepared a plan for day-after-Yasser-Arafat called “A Different Reality,” and once there is an official announcement that Arafat has died, police said, the country will go on heightened alert.

    Police will immediately begin to beef up forces in conjunction with the IDF at junctions and entrances to cities throughout the country, with an emphasis on Jerusalem and its surroundings.

    One of the police’s biggest fears is the possibility that thousands of Palestinians will grab Arafat’s body and will begin marching towards Jerusalem for burial on the Temple Mount. Last week, Insp.-Gen. Moshe Karadi dismissed warnings that Palestinians will march their leader’s body to the capital, saying that Israel is ready for all possible scenarios.

    UPDATE:
    HAARETZ Ticker: French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin says Yasser Arafat is in his ‘final hours’

    UPDATE:
    HAARETZ Ticker:

    22:33 Arafat aide Nabil Abu Rudeinah: Arafat is expected to die within hours.
    22:34 Arafat aide Nabil Abu Rudeinah: Should Arafat die in the coming hours, there will be an official funeral in Cairo on Fri.

    UPDATE:
    This has got to be an old quote:

    Edward Abington, a former U.S. consul-general in Jerusalem who advises Arafat and other Palestinian leaders, described Arafat’s medical condition as “pretty static.”

    “People are waiting to see what happens,” Abington said.

    Even Abington, the poster child for “going native” in Webster’s, isn’t that out-of-touch and dense.

    UPDATE:
    Report: Experts say that doctors probably know what is wrong with Arafat by now, but they aren’t being allowed to say what it is.

    Posted by Laurence Simon at 02:05 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

    A boost to the local economy

    JERUSALEM POST: Window space overlooking Mukata at a premium

    Since the evening of Thursday November 4th, 2004, 685 foreign journalists and their crews have arrived at the Government Press Office in order to cover Yasser Arafat’s illness and funeral.

    The large media organizations have brought in approximately 100 tons of media equipment including: satellite dishes, Mobile Broadcasting Units (MBUs), and video and technical equipment relating to their work in the media.

    Security administration officials told The Jerusalem Post that Palestinian families living in apartments that overlook the Mukata have been renting out window space to foreign TV networks at the price of $5,000 a window.

    Similar leasing arrangements have taken place for apartments and buildings overlooking the Vatican.

    Posted by Laurence Simon at 10:44 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Arafat Roundup

    HAARETZ: Arafat’s powers to be split three ways

    Palestinian leaders meeting in the West Bank city of Ramallah on Wednesday decided to divide Yasser Arafat’s powers among Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia, secretary-general of the Palestine Liberation Organization and first Palestinian premier Mahmoud Abbas, and Palestinian Legislative Council chairman Rawhi Fatuh.

    The Palestinian leaders decided Abbas (Abu Mazen) will control the PLO (which is formally above the Palestinian Authority), Qureia (Abu Ala) will be responsible for the PA government and the National Security Council, and Fatuh will take Arafat’s official position as PA chairman.

    The division of powers is expected to take effect immediately, as Arafat is said to be in the “final phase” of his life in a deep coma at a Paris hospital.

    Palestinian law determines that in the case of the PA chairman’s absence or death, the chairman of the parliament will take his place for 60 days, after which new elections will be held. The Palestinian leaders decided Wednesday that if no elections take place within that time, the PLC will meet to decide what to do.

    And then within the Israeli Knesset itself…

    HAARETZ: MK Tibi: In the end, Arafat will be buried in Al-Aqsa

    Yasser Arafat will ultimately be buried in the Al-Aqsa Mosque in the Old City of Jerusalem, even if the step is years away, Israeli Arab MK and former Arafat advisor Ahmed Tibi said in remarks broadcast Wednesday.

    Israel strongly opposes burying Arafat anywhere in Jerusalem and its environs. Official Israeli opposition is particularly fierce with respect to Palestinian demands that Arafat be buried in or near Al-Aqsa, on the compound Muslims revere as the Noble Sanctuary and Jews hold sacred as the Temple Mount.

    At the weekend, Justice Minister Yosef Lapid touched off a furor by declaring that the Temple Mount was a site “where Jewish kings are buried, and not Arab terrorists.” Arafat has also angered Jews in past statements dismissing Jewish historical claims to the compound, the site of the ancient temples.

    “In the end,” Tibi told Israel Radio, “if he is not buried today or tomorrow in East Jerusalem, a day will come when there is a sovereign Palestinian government, a Palestinian state with its capital in East Jerusalem, and Yasser Arafat will be buried in the mosque of Al-Aqsa.

    “This is definite. This will be,” Tibi said.

    Tibi was once an advisor to Yasser Arafat, but now is a parliamentarian within the government of Arafat’s enemy. Significantly worse than John Kerry’s meeting with North Vietnamese officials, I’d say.

    Finally:

    HAARETZ: Muslim cleric: Arafat alive; PA envoy: This is ‘final phase’

    A top Islamic cleric who arrived in Paris on Wednesday to attend Yasser Arafat’s bedside said he had seen the Palestinian leader was alive, while the Palestinian envoy to France, Leila Shaheed, warned earlier in the day that Arafat is in the “final phase” of his life.

    Speaking after his visit at the Paris hospital where Arafat is in critical condition, Sheikh Taisser Bayoud Tamimi said that he “remains alive.” He earlier ruled out disconnecting the Palestinian leader from life-support machines.

    “Yes, he is sick and his condition is very difficult but he remains alive,” Tamimi told reporters in Arabic after his visit at the hospital in Paris where Arafat is being treated.

    Asked about turning off life-support systems as he arrived at the hospital, Tamimi said: “This is forbidden under Islamic law.”

    “As long as there is a manifestation of life present, from movement to temperature in the body, then he is alive,” he said before entering the hospital.

    “I will stay next to the president calling for his recovery and for mercy,” he added.

    Earlier reports had a spokesman saying that Arafat’s life was not something to be plugged in or unplugged, denying that he was on life support, and denying that he’d been in a coma when he’d been in a coma for a week.

    Burial preparations are being made at Ramallah and funeral/memorial preparations are being made in Cairo as Yasser’s body will pass through Cairo.

    UPDATE:
    Shahid lashes out:

    HAARETZ: PA envoy: Arafat fighting for his as we fight the Israeli media

    Palestinian Authority representative in Paris Leila Shahred said Wednesday that PA Chairman Yasser Arafat was fighting for his life, and that PA officials were fighting the Israeli media. Shaheed accused the Israeli government and some Israeli media outlets of directed and false reports regarding Arafat’s death.

    Speaking to Haaretz, Shaheed voiced her complaints against Channel 2, which she claims killed Arafat last week, when there was no confirmation of the report. She accused the Israeli government of saying that Sheikh Taisser Bayoud Tamimi arrived in Paris to permit disconnecting Arafat from life-support systems. Shaheed said that it was illogical that a shiekh of Tamimi’s status would come to do such a thing, or would support such a thing. Shaheed refused to grant Channel 2 an interview.

    Regarding the vast number of rumors and reports heard in recent days on Arafat’s condition, Shaheed said that there are always those who want to show that they are in the know, and are insiders. She said that no one had information aside from that which the PA provided. Shaheed said that PA officials were trying to relay all of the details provided by the physicians.

    If you use Nabil Shaath’s admission that Arafat has been in a coma for a week, this clearly refutes other stories that the PA officials have released on and off the record that he was alert, awake, aware, responsive, not in a coma, getting better, etc.

    It also appears to refute the story by Jacques Chirac that he visited Arafat and Arafat looked at him and smiled.

    UPDATE:
    Nabil Sha`ath says that Arafat has suffered liver and kidney failure. No denials yet.

    UPDATE:
    More: Nabil Sha`ath says Arafat`s brain functioning only partially, all organs except heart and lungs have failed.

    They may still be gunning for a Friday burial to coincide with heavy Friday/Ramadan turnout for a Jerusalem gambit.

    Posted by Laurence Simon at 09:23 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

    Unidentified Sub in Japanese Waters

    From The Australian :

    Japan today detected a submarine of unknown origin in its territorial waters, the Government’s top spokesman said.

    Surveillance planes spotted the submarine in waters off a southern island near Okinawa, Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiroyuki Hosoda told a news conference.

    He said Japan was trying to find out more about the vessel’s origin.

    Radio and TV reports state the vessel is being tracked.

    ANALYSIS: As it’s still being tracked, it’s very likely to be a diesel submarine, even a primitive nuke would probably have evaded by now. It may not be North Korean, but given previous incidents, it’s likely.
    It is an open secret that submarines of all nations routinely violate territorial waters when performing surveillance and covert ops missions.

    UPDATE : From the other ABC :

    A Japanese navy aircraft chased an unidentified submarine out of waters near Japan’s Okinawa island chain on Wednesday in a rare display of the country’s military capability, long constrained by a pacifist constitution.

    The P3C patrol plane that spotted the sub near the islands 1,000 miles southwest of Tokyo was still tracking the vessel, which had been ordered to surface and show a flag even though it had left Japanese waters, the government said.

    Several Japanese destroyers had also been dispatched to the area, Kyodo news agency reported.

    It is regrettable. It is certainly not a good thing that an unidentified submarine entered our country’s territorial waters,” Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi told reporters.

    Some media reports suggested the submarine may be Chinese.

    Public broadcaster NHK quoted an official at the Chinese embassy in Tokyo as saying he did not know whether Chinese military vessels had entered Japanese waters.

    It is rare for the Maritime Self-Defense Force, as the navy is known, to be mobilized over such incidents.

    The Japan Coast Guard is in charge of maintaining the security of the country’s coastline and waters.

    The last time the navy was mobilized was in 1999 when a suspected North Korean spy ship violated Japanese waters.

    In December 2001, an unidentified ship also believed to have been crewed by North Korean spies sank in the East China Sea after an exchange of fire with a coast guard patrol vessel.

    Posted by Alan Brain at 04:49 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    November 09, 2004

    Arafat "Very Much Alive"

    Though the Palestinians admit that they’ve been telling a few porkies about his condition for a week. From the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) :

    Palestinian officials have confirmed their ailing leader, Yasser Arafat, has suffered a brain haemorrhage and has been in a coma for nearly a week.

    The brain haemorrhage has worsened the Palestinian’s fragile condition and he is now said to be in a deeper coma than before.

    Palestinian Foreign Minister Nabil Sha’ath, who was part of a delegation which visited the 75-year-old leader in a Paris hospital, says any speculation about Mr Arafat’s death and burial is premature and insensitive.

    Again, to us, it’s indecent to discuss somebody’s burial when he is very much alive,” Mr Sha’ath said. “You pray for his recovery.”

    At a press conference in Ramallah, Palestinian Negotiations Minister Saeb Erakat said Mr Arafat had suffered a severe brain haemorrhage.

    All efforts are being made by our friends the French doctors to relieve this haemorrhaging,” Mr Erakat said.

    Mr Sha’ath says Mr Arafat’s wife, Suha, welcomed the high-level Palestinian delegation despite earlier accusing them of coming to bury her husband alive.

    He dismissed conspiracy theories that Mr Arafat had been poisoned and said talk of euthanasia was not being considered.

    Of course, it’s all the fault of the Jews anyway. From The Australian :

    In announcing Mr Arafat’s deteriorating condition in Paris, Palestinian Foreign Minister Nabil Shaath said confinement to the dank Muqata, where Mr Arafat lived in a room with a tiny window, may have contributed to his health problems.

    Supremely ironic that that’s where they’re planning to bury him!

    Posted by Alan Brain at 09:09 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

    PA plans Muqata burial for Arafat

    HAARETZ: PA plans Muqata burial for Arafat

    Palestinian Foreign Minister Nabil Sha’ath put an end Tuesday to nearly two weeks of speculation by declaring Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat’s life in a Paris hospital was “now in the hands of God and his doctors.”

    A late-night report by Itim quoted senior Palestinian sources as saying that PLO Secretary General Mahmoud Abbas - the most senior Palestinian politician after Arafat - would announce in Ramallah Wednesday morning that Arafat had died.

    According to the report, Arafat was already dead as of Tuesday night, but the Palestinian leadership would make the official announcement only after Abbas returned to Ramallah from Paris, via Amman, overnight.

    Any denials yet?

    UPDATE:
    Suha’s holding out for more bling-bling. And the actual biological father of her daughter is pulling the strings.

    Posted by Laurence Simon at 07:28 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    AFP and Al-Jazeerah report on Arafat

    AL-JAZEERA: Conflicting reports about Arafat’s condition

    Arafat has died in a military hospital on the outskirts of the French capital Paris, a member of his cabinet told AFP on Tuesday.

    However Foreign Minister Nabil Shaath insisted that Arafat was still alive although his coma had deepened.

    “For sure he is dead,” said the minister who spoke to AFP on condition of anonymity. “It’s a question of how and when to announce it. It (an announcement) will be most likely made tonight (Tuesday).”

    Would AFP and Al-Jazeera ever lie to you?

    UPDATE:
    HAARETZ: Palestinian officials: Arafat to be buried in Ramallah

    Palestinian officials Taib Abdel Rahim and Saeb Erekat, speaking in a press conference Tuesday evening in Ramallah, announced that Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat will be buried in his Muqata headquarters in the West Bank city.

    Palestinians are reportedly planning to make part of the Muqata into a mausoleum.

    The announcement marks the first time that Palestinian officials have publicly discussed Arafat’s burial, and appears to indicate that the critically ill Palestinian leader will be taken off life support shortly.

    Israeli security and government officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, had previously said Ramallah was not an option for burial. Israel fears a funeral in Ramallah could present a security risk because of its close proximity to Jerusalem and due to the many army-manned roadblocks surrounding the town.

    It also may be a gambit to build up a crowd to be used as human shields to carry him to Jerusalem.

    Just in case the Humor Police strike, Fark is having fun with the conflicting denials of rumors of reports.

    UPDATE:
    It’s now…

    Arafat aide Tayeb Abdel Rahim says PA leader suffering from brain hemorrhage.

    UPDATE
    Arafat is down to three organs, apparently:

    Yasser Arafat’s brain, heart and lungs still function and he is alive, Foreign Minister Nabil Shaath says.

    But his spleen… the Spleen of the Revolution and Resistance… his spleen is no more!

    Shaath continues:

    However:

    Speaking to reporters in Paris, where he and other top Palestinian officials arrived Monday night to visit the ailing Arafat, Sha’ath said that the Palestinian leader’s organs were still functioning, and ruled out any chance of “euthanasia.”

    He also dismissed a statement from Palestinian officials in the West Bank that arrangement were underway to bury Arafat at his headquarters in Ramallah, saying it is indecent to discuss the burial ahead of Arafat’s death.

    And a disturbing image you might not want to ponder:

    “He died after bleeding in the brain began last night. His bodyguards started hugging and kissing and telling each other to be strong,” this source said.

    Ewwww. And from “The Mole” Tibi:

    Arafat’s former advisor, MK Ahmed Tibi, said Tuesday evening that his death would come within a matter of hours, Israel Radio reported.

    SIDE NOTE:
    Reports are that Sharon is likely not to oppose a Ramallah burial for Arafat.

    UPDATE:
    Since he was born there…

    Palestinian official: Egypt offering to host funeral service for Yasser Arafat in Cairo.

    Which avoids any Arab or Muslim leaders the dignity of recognizing Israeli authority over Israeli territory, let alone Israel.

    Posted by Laurence Simon at 11:21 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

    But, Wait.....

    A look at these latest Google News entries say that all signs point to death.

    Posted by Michele at 11:18 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    French hospital treating Arafat denies reports of his death

    More from the Ministry of Denial.

    HAARETZ: French hospital treating Arafat denies reports of his death

    The French military hospital treating Yasser Arafat and senior Palestinian Authority officials denied Tuesday afternoon an earlier unconfirmed report by a Palestinian source close to the PA chairman that he had died.

    All we know through official means at this point is that Arafat is not undead. There is no need to equip yourself with garlic, wooden stakes, crosses, torches, or Ghostbuster-style proton packs at this point.

    UPDATE:
    I am denying Michele’s earlier report. I am also unofficially denying that she is officially denying my off-the-record denial of her report.

    Also, this post is currently in a difficult condition. It has not been deleted.

    UPDATE 2
    In addition to a Haram Al-Sharif gambit and plans for a Gaza burial, now:

    Palestinians said to be planning to bury Arafat in Ramallah, make part of his Muqata compound into mausoleum.

    UPDATE 3
    JERUSALEM POST: Top Islamic cleric heading to Paris:

    PA may send senior Islamic cleric to Paris to determine whether Arafat`s life-support may be disconnected.

    Two words: Hotblack Desiato.

    Posted by Laurence Simon at 10:00 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Arafat Dead (Again) [Updated]

    From Reuters:

    Palestinian President Yasser Arafat is dead, senior Palestinian political sources said on Tuesday.

    The information from sources close to Arafat could not immediately be confirmed.

    “He is dead,” a senior political source close to Arafat told Reuters in Paris, where the 75-year-old leader has been lying in a coma at a French military hospital.

    Asked to confirm Arafat’s death, another official close to the president said: “Yes, he is dead. There will be an announcement soon.”

    Hang on a few minutes for the next conflicting report.

    Update: That didn’t take long. Drudge’s screaming siren reports that Arafat lives again!

    Posted by Michele at 09:57 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    PA leaders updated on Arafat amid reports of 'deeper coma'

    HAARETZ: PA leaders updated on Arafat amid reports of ‘deeper coma’

    Palestinian leaders visiting the French capital met Tuesday with Yasser Arafat’s doctors for a full update on the condition of the critically ill Palestinian Authority chairman.

    “They spent about one hour with the French doctors and heard a detailed report on his medical condition,” said a Palestinian source.

    “He is not dead, but we are counting the hours,” he added.

    UPDATE:
    The Drudge Report Siren is on. “Arafat Said Dead.”

    Palestinian President Yasser Arafat is dead, senior Palestinian political sources said on Tuesday.

    The information from sources close to Arafat could not immediately be confirmed.

    “He is dead,” one of the sources close to Arafat said in Paris, where Arafat has been lying in a coma at a French hospital. Officials in the West Bank said they had not been informed that Arafat was dead.

    I’ve known this since Thursday.

    HAARETZ: Palestinian sources: Arafat is dead; no official confirmation

    Palestinian sources said Tuesday afternoon that Yasser Arafat was dead, although it could not be officially confirmed.

    “He is dead,” one of the sources close to Arafat said in
    Paris, where Arafat has been lying in a coma at a French
    hospital. Officials in the West Bank said they had not been informed that the Palestinian leader had died.

    UPDATE:
    From the Ministry of Denial:

    Senior Palestinian official, Nasser al-Kidwa, denies reports that Arafat is dead, but says `situation is very difficult`

    and

    Senior Palestinian official says after visit to Paris hospital that Yasser Arafat is still alive
    Posted by Laurence Simon at 09:01 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Randinho's Latin America Briefing: Nov 9/04

    Winds of Change.NET Regional Briefings run on Tuesdays & Wednesdays, and sometimes Fridays too. This Regional Briefing focuses on Latin America, courtesy of Randy Paul.

    TOP TOPICS

    • Election results wrap-up - but it’s from the other America. A few off-year election results have taken place, municipal run-offs in Brazil have been finalized and Uruguay elects a new president. More inside…
    • One of my ongoing goals in life is trying to understand Latin American cultures. Being married to a Latina makes it challenging, sometimes nerve-wracking, but always rewarding. One of my favorite writers on Latin America is Marcela Sánchez who writes for the Washington Post. While much was made of “moral values” in the recent US election, she has a column from last week regarding the concept of moral values and the differences between North and South on this subject. You may not agree with her - I don’t always - but you will appreciate her thoughtfulness.

    Other Topics Include: Elections reports from Brazil, Venezuela, Chile, and Uruguay; Former Costa Rican presidents dropping like flies - in a manner of speaking; Castro changes currency in Cuba; Brazil takes charge in Haiti - Washington probably won’t be pleased.

    Read The Rest…

    Posted by Winds of Change at 07:24 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Arafat Worse

    From Reuters via the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) :

    The French military hospital caring for Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat says his condition has worsened and his coma has deepened.

    The state of health of Mr Arafat worsened during the night,” said Christian Estripeau, the chief doctor treating him.

    The comatose state that led to his admission into intensive care is deeper this morning.

    That marks a significant step towards an evolution which cannot yet be determined.”

    But I think we can guess.

    Posted by Alan Brain at 07:08 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

    Iran Confirms Europe in Reach of Missiles

    From Reuters via the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) :

    Iran said today it was now able to manufacture large quantities of its medium-range Shahab-3 ballistic missile, which defence experts say is capable of hitting Israel or US bases in the Gulf.

    We have the capability to mass-produce Shahab-3 missiles,” Defence Minister Ali Shamkhani told reporters.

    His comments were confirmed by the Defence Ministry.
    […]
    Iran recently announced it had improved Shahab-3’s accuracy and increased its range to 2,000 kilometres.

    That potentially brought parts of southern Europe within Iran’s reach but Mr Shamkhani said the increased range was merely so that Iran could launch the missile from anywhere within its own borders.

    The change in Shahab-3’s range is based on this concept, not to threaten a certain country,” he said.

    Posted by Alan Brain at 07:05 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    November 08, 2004

    UN to World : Eat bugs!

    I thought I’d break the monotony of posts regarding the denials of Arafat’s current, stable state of death with the lighter side of the United Nations…

    UN NEWS CENTER: Edible insects are important source of protein, UN study shows

    A new study released by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) today stresses that edible insects such as caterpillars and grubs should be considered an alternative source of nutrition in efforts to overcome food insecurity in central African countries.

    “Edible insects from forests are an important source of protein, and unlike those from agricultural land, they are free of pesticides,” said Paul Vantomme, an FAO forestry expert, noting that caterpillars are already an important food intake for many people in central Africa.

    More than 90 per cent of participants in a survey in Botswana said they consumed caterpillars, with 85 percent in the Central African Republic and 70 percent in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) doing the same.

    Which reminds me, it’s time for lunch.

    Posted by Laurence Simon at 01:09 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

    W. Bank UNRWA employees strike, demand pay rises

    JERUSALEM POST: W. Bank UNRWA employees strike, demand pay rises

    The United Nations’ Relief and Works Agency for Palestine refugees (UNRWA) is refusing to give into salary demands of its employees in the West Bank, who are striking since October 11.

    The strike of the agency’s 4,000 employees in the West Bank has closed down schools and clinics and is felt mostly in the refugee camps, run by UNRWA. The agency’s workers in the Gaza Strip have not joined the strike.

    “We’ve told them that we’ve conducted a salary survey, which shows that in comparison [to the rest of the West Bank] they receive 25-30 percent more,” UNRWA spokesperson Paul McCann told The Jerusalem Post on Monday.

    “People must understand that our agency lives on donations. We are supported solely by donor countries,” McCann said.

    Posted by Laurence Simon at 09:50 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    France Begins Limited Evacuation; I.C. Calls For Human Shields

    The French government has begun a limited evacuation of the Ivory Coast,according to CNN. In addition:

    Hundreds of demonstrators faced off with French troops in Abidjan on Monday after state radio urged protesters to form a “human shield” to protect the house of Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo.

    Gbagbo, leader of the world’s biggest cocoa producer, appealed for an end to the anti-French violence which erupted after France destroyed most of the country’s air force in retaliation for the killing of nine French peacekeepers.

    That via ABC.

    Posted by Alan at 06:51 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

    November 07, 2004

    Palestinian leaders head to Paris to announce Arafat's death

    HAARETZ: Palestinian leaders head to Paris to announce Arafat’s death

    Former Palestinian prime minister Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen), current Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia (Abu Ala) and Foreign Minister Nabil Sha’ath were due to leave for Paris on Sunday night, where they are expected to announce the death of Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat. Israeli sources believe the Palestinian leadership has accepted Arafat’s death.

    Sources in the defense establishment believe Tuesday will be the day on which the Palestinians will ask to disconnect Arafat from life support and announce his death.

    Tuesday night marks Lailat al-Kader, the night Muslims believe God revealed the Koran to the prophet Mohammed. The death of the Palestinian leader on that day will, therefore, be symbolic.

    UPDATE:
    Reuters’ Wafa Amr in serious denial and spin mode.

    UPDATE 2:
    Now Suha’s shrieking in the headlines:

    Yasser Arafat’s wife says her husband is alive and claims Palestinian officials are traveling to Paris to “bury him alive.”

    Somebody give her Coretta Scott King and Yoko Ono’s cell phone numbers.

    UPDATE 3:
    Trip cancelled. Sufa, having French citizenship, has the PA by the short hairs.

    UPDATE 4:
    Trip uncancelled and denial of the original cancellation.

    “There is no change of plan. The delegation is going to Paris,” said Dahlan.

    UPDATE 5:
    Reuters: Palestinian leaders en route to Paris to visit Arafat will meet with Chirac, other senior French officials.

    UPDATE 6:
    REUTERS: Palestinian leaders land at Paris` Le Bourget airport; Qureia, Abbas expected to see ailing Yasser Arafat on Tuesday

    However:

    Palestinian leaders rushed to Paris on Monday to check on the critically ill Yasser Arafat, but hospital officials said visiting rights were restricted — setting the stage for a dramatic showdown between the delegation and Arafat’s wife.

    Yasser is in a French military hospital, giving their commander-in-chief full authority to force access.

    Sufa was granted French citizenship during her extended shopping spree in Paris, giving her full rights to control access to her husband.

    You could say that Arafat is between Chirac and a Hard Place.

    Posted by Laurence Simon at 07:53 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Arafat Has Liver Failure, Palestinian Official Says

    REUTERS: Arafat Has Liver Failure, Palestinian Official Says

    Palestinian President Yasser Arafat has liver failure and his condition is not improving at the French military hospital where he is being treated, a Palestinian official said on Sunday.

    The official, who declined to be named, said Palestinian officials were considering moving Arafat to hospital in Cairo, from where he could be flown home more quickly if he died.

    But he added that any decision to move him could be taken only by the Palestinian leadership.

    “He has liver failure. His condition is not improving,” said the official.

    (As with every report, it’s already been denied.)

    UPDATE:
    Two more headlines from the Haaretz ticker:

    19:31 Qureia`s bureau denies reports that Palestinian PM, former PM Abbas and FM Nabil Sha`ath to travel to Paris
    19:20 Palestinian officials say PM Ahmed Qureia, former PM Abbas to travel to Paris Monday to visit Arafat

    They could have the trouble and just deny that they are reporting anything.

    UPDATE:
    A denial of the denial of the denial:

    19:58 French Foreign Ministry confirms Abbas and Shaath coming to Paris to see Arafat on Monday (Reuters)

    Posted by Laurence Simon at 07:44 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

    Abbas, the likely successor to Yasir Arafat

    Arafat’s No. 2 Is Set to Assume Leadership

    Mahmoud Abbas wears a business suit, not a military uniform and kaffiyeh. He is a former elementary school teacher - studious, gracious, pragmatic and opposed to terrorism. He is also tough enough to have been Yasir Arafat’s No. 2 for many years in the Palestine Liberation Organization, now becoming his probable successor.
    Posted by Robert Mayer at 05:37 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    November 06, 2004

    French Shoot Down Ivory Coast Warplanes

    This from the ABC/AP:

    French peacekeepers shot down two Ivory Coast warplanes and a military helicopter Saturday after the aircraft bombed a French position, killing a French soldier, a U.N. military spokesman said.

    The clash the biggest confrontation ever between militaries of Ivory Coast and its former colonial ruler happened at the town of Brobo, near Bouake in Ivory Coast’s rebel-held north, U.N. military spokesman Philippe Moreux said.

    Posted by Alan at 11:41 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    Dutch Cabinet 'declares war' on Islamic extremism

    Expatica reports:

    The Dutch Cabinet has declared war on Islamic extremism, Deputy Prime Minister Gerrit Zalm has announced. He justified the step by calling the murder of filmmaker Theo van Gogh an “attack on the rule of law”. Zalm said on Friday that there had been new developments in the world of Islamic extremism in which religious thoughts were being “translated into murder and manslaughter”. “This is something that we absolutely cannot tolerate,” he said. The Liberal Party (VVD) minister said the cabinet would therefore expand the Dutch intelligence service AIVD, requiring an increase in funding. Justice Minister Piet Hein Donner and Interior Minister John Remkes will provide further information to the Dutch Parliament next week.The cabinet is also investigating whether existing legislation is sufficient to tackle radical Muslims who commit violent offences.

    Expatica also summarizes news about the murderer Mohammed B.:

    A second-generation Moroccan immigrant youths are being targeted by Islamic extremists who hope to recruit them for Jihad, or holy war. One of the characteristics of the recruiters is that they isolate youths from their family and friends. There was nothing out of the ordinary with Mohammed B. until he allegedly fell into the hands of extremists.

    Part of this news are rumours about a terror hit list in The Netherlands.

    Posted by Oskar van Rijswijk at 11:06 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

    Van Gogh murder: how to kill an unbeliever

    RNW reports:

    Several arrests have been made in the wake of the gruesome murder of filmmaker Theo van Gogh, an outspoken critic of Islam. Among them is the prime suspect identified as Mohamed B., who pinned a letter on the body of the slain filmmaker containing direct death threats to several Dutch politicians. Another letter found with him stated that he was prepared to die as a martyr for his faith. Amsterdam police say they’re now investigating a possible Islamic fundamentalist cell operating in the Netherlands

    . RNW also has a report about the Letter the murderer has pinned on the dead body with a knive. So does the BBC and Reuters.

    Posted by Oskar van Rijswijk at 11:03 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Dutch Charge 7 Muslim Men in Killing of a Critic of Islam

    Seven Islamic militants were charged here on Friday with terrorist-related activities in connection with the killing of the Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh, Amsterdam’s public prosecutor said.

    The seven include the Dutch-Moroccan man, identified only as Muhammad B., who is charged in the killing on Tuesday, in which Mr. van Gogh’s throat was slit after he was shot, and he then had a letter pinned to his body with a knife planted in his chest.

    The text of that letter and excerpts from another letter found later in the suspect’s pocket were published in Dutch newspapers on Friday.

    Read more…

    Posted by Michele at 10:13 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

    November 05, 2004

    Tehran

    Illogical stir on nuclear issue

    Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei said here on Friday that the stir raised by the United States and certain other countries over Iran’s nuclear issue is illogical.

    In a sermon at Friday prayers in Tehran, the Supreme Leader stressed that the main reason for the illogical commotion over Iran’s nuclear activities is the fact that the Iranian nation has made great progress by relying on its own ingenuity, despite the enemies’ conspiracies.

    Posted by Robert Mayer at 07:38 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    Cote D Ivoire

    Army Planes Bomb North for Second Day, Rebel Leader Says Negotiations Over

    Rebel leader Guillaume Soro said on Friday he was no longer prepared to negotiate with the government after Ivorian army warplanes pounded towns across the rebel-held north for the second day running, killing at least 18 people.

    “It is about assassinating us. The political option is not being put first,” Soro told IRIN by telephone from the north of Cote d’Ivoire. “I am no longer ready to negotiate.”

    Posted by Robert Mayer at 07:35 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Sources: Plutonium Found in Egypt

    U.N. experts have found traces of plutonium near an Egyptian nuclear facility and are investigating whether it could be weapons-related or simply a byproduct of the country’s peaceful atomic activities, diplomats told The Associated Press on Friday.

    The diplomats, speaking on condition of anonymity, warned against assuming that Egypt might have contravened the Nonproliferation Treaty by trying to separate plutonium, a substance used in nuclear weapons.

    The traces could be from a cracked research reactor fuel element or have other origins that have nothing to do with weapons research, they said.

    Read more…

    Posted by Michele at 01:05 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Kaddoumi - a possible Arafat successor

    JERUSALEM POST: Kaddoumi - a possible Arafat successor

    Palestinian hardliner Farouk Kaddoumi has been mentioned in Palestinian circles in the past 24 hours as a possible successor to ailing leader Yasser Arafat.

    Kaddoumi, foreign minister of the Palestine Liberation Organization, who resides in Tunis, is a major political rival of Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei and former prime minister Mahmoud Abbas - who also aspire to lead the Palestinians after Arafat’s demise.

    Earlier this week, Kaddoumi issued a warning “to ambitious Palestinian officials, who are jockeying for power,” which was understood as being directed at Qurei and Abbas.

    Posted by Laurence Simon at 12:13 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Palestinian sources: Planning underway for Arafat's funeral

    JERUSALEM POST: Palestinian sources: Planning underway for Arafat’s funeral

    The Jerusalem Post was contacted by a source close to Arafat on Friday afternoon claiming that the Chairman had been dead since Thursday afternoon, but the newspaper has been unable to find any official confirmation of this.

    This source, in common with reports carried on some TV stations, claimed that official confirmation of Arafat’s death was being delayed until arrangements for his funeral were finalized.

    There have been reports that PA officials are in contact with Israeli officials over the location and logistics of a funeral. However, Assi Shariv, a spokesman for the Prime Minister’s Office, said no one has contacted Israel about where Arafat will be buried. “As far as Jerusalem goes, Sharon meant that Arafat will not be buried within the ‘municipal boundaries’,” Shariv said.

    Some parts of Abu Dis do fall in the municipal boundaries of the capital, and some parts do not. “Certainly he is clinically dead,” Shariv told The Jerusalem Post.

    Expectations are that Arafat will be buried in the Gaza Strip although Jordan and Egypt have reportedly offered to let him be buried in their countries. Arafat’s sister is buried in Gaza. Palestinian officials also denied Friday that Arafat had asked to be buried on the Temple Mount or left any will to that effect.

    Israel will permit Arafat to be buried in the Gaza Strip, but keep him out of Jerusalem, a city “where Jewish kings are buried and not Arab terrorists,” Justice Minister Yosef (Tommy) Lapid said Friday. Lapid reiterated Friday that Jerusalem is off-limits. “They (the Palestinians) will choose where to bury him, but he will not be buried in Jerusalem because Jerusalem is the city where Jewish kings are buried and not Arab terrorists,” he told Associated Press Television News.

    On the other hand…

    Arafat Wants to Be Buried in Jerusalem

    The top Palestinian Islamic cleric said Friday it was Yasser Arafat’s wish to be buried in Jerusalem, increasing pressure on Israel, which has sharply refused to allow the Palestinian leader to be laid to rest in the city if he dies.

    The Mufti of Jerusalem, Ikrema Sabri, said Arafat “willed to be buried in Jerusalem and from a religious perspective, we must and need to honor his will.”

    Analysis: Political bluster. Most hard-line Islamic religious authorities consider Arafat a near-infidel for marrying a Christian convert, thus unworthy of burial at Haram Al-Sharif. Also, Sabri is an Arafat political appointee.

    Posted by Laurence Simon at 10:18 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    PA official: Arafat in critical state 'between life and death'

    HAARETZ: PA official: Arafat in critical state ‘between life and death’

    “[Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser] Arafat is unconscious and has undergone a general systems collapse,” a high-level Palestinian official told Haaretz on Thursday night. “He is being aided by respiratory machines and his condition appears irreversible, but reports of his death are not true.”

    According to several reports from French and international media outlets, Yasser Arafat’s condition is one of clinical death.

    Sources in Ramallah said Friday that Arafat’s wife, Suha, has the power to decide when to disconnect her husband from life support in the Percy Military Training Hospital in Clamart, outside Paris. Israel Radio quoted Palestinian sources as saying that Suha Arafat is deciding on all hospital matters regarding her husband.

    “Arafat is in a critical state between life and death,” the Palestinian envoy to Paris said on Friday morning amid growing speculations on a post-Arafat Palestinian Authority.

    “I assure you that he is not brain dead,” she said. “He is in a coma. We are not sure what type. But it is a reversible coma,” Leila Shahid, the permanent Palestinian envoy to Paris, told French RTL radio.

    Shahid ruled out the possibility of Arafat resigning as president of the Palestinian Authority.

    “There is no reason. Why resign? … Palestinian institutions provide for a vice-president for all the posts held by Yasser Arafat, and the vice-presidents will take over if need be.”

    UPDATE:
    Sky News says “Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat`s condition to be announced shortly”

    Posted by Laurence Simon at 10:15 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Qureia meets militants

    Ahmed Qurei or Qureia ( or Ahmed Ali Muhammed Qurie or Qureia ) also known as Abu Ala ( or Abu Ala’a) met with Palestinian militants in attempt to keep them from uprising when Arafat passes in a vie for power

    Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia has held rare talks with leaders of Palestinian militant factions in Gaza, ahead of a possible Israeli pullout from the occupied territory.

    There was no immediate word on the outcome of Mr. Qureia’s talks with the militant leaders.
    But before the meeting, a senior Hamas leader, Mahmoud Zahar, told reporters that his group would not make any commitment to ease attacks on Israelis after a withdrawal from Gaza. He said resistance would continue until Israel withdraws from all the territory it occupies.

    Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s controversial disengagement plan calls for a full withdrawal from Gaza, but only a partial pullout from the West Bank.

    As of 1992, when he was cheif finance minister for Palestine, Qureia had never seen or met an Israeli, but he became a key player in the Oslo talks, engaging in ( at first illegal ) secret talks behind the scenes. He helped build the bridge of mutual recognition between Israel and Palestine. However, one has to wonder, as Chief Finance Minister, was he not somehow involved in the millions of dollars funneled to Arafats Swiss bank accounts in the 90’s.

    Posted by Robert Mayer at 09:47 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    UN condemns Ivory Coast bombing

    UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has condemned raids by government aircraft in Ivory Coast on rebel-held areas as a “major violation” of the ceasefire.

    BBC

    UN suspends aid operations after fighting breaks out in Côte d’Ivoire

    From INBB/International

    Posted by Robert Mayer at 08:38 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    November 04, 2004

    French Press: Arafat Not Showing Brain Activity

    This from Fred Gion, who is one of the “Command Post Pajamhadeen” that covered the election … in this case, from France:

    Alan,
    French all-news channel LCI (http://www.lci.fr/news/) says Chairman Arafat is not showing signs of cerebral activity anymore. Citing medical sources, LCI said that French military press officers were holding back out of respect for Mrs. Arafat.

    Thank you, Fred.

    Posted by Alan at 05:35 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

    Israel's Gaza commander resigns

    The most senior Israeli army commander in Gaza has resigned his post.
    Brig Gen Shmuel Zakai is believed to have told reporters that Prime Minister Ariel Sharon ordered an operation in Gaza that the army thought unnecessary.

    One report says Gen Zakai failed a polygraph test that was part of the investigation into the press leaks.

    More than 100 Palestinians died in clashes after Israeli forces went into the Jabaliya camp in northern Gaza in late September for 17 days.

    BBC

    Posted by Robert Mayer at 02:54 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    PA Chairman said comatose; hospital denies Arafat is dead

    Conflicting reports…

    PA Chairman said comatose; hospital denies Arafat is dead

    A French military hospital spokesman said on Thursday that Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat’s medical state was complex, and that the leader was alive.

    Earlier on Thursday, French officials and a French radio station, Radio Monte Carlo, reported the Palestinian leader’s death.

    The reports were denied by PA officials, including former prime minsiter Ahmed Qureia and senior adviser Mohammed Rashid.

    My source says that the hospital is a mess, with the PLO Arabs shouting at the French that they are Jews and murderers. I cannot confirm that at this time.

    CNN, Al-Jazeerah, AFP, Reuters

    AP: French Doctors Say Arafat’s Alive

    “Mr. Arafat is not dead,” he said, concluding the brief statement.

    “This statement has been drafted out of respect for the discretion demanded by his wife,” he said.

    Among other sources: THIS IS LONDON: Officials say Arafat still alive.

    For more on the “complex” situation, check French military law and ponder the timing of Chirac’s visit.

    (more to come)

    Posted by Laurence Simon at 11:55 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

    Arafat Passes Away?

    Reuters reports that Palestinian President Yasser Arafat whas been declared clinically dead.

    President Bush learned of Arafat’s passing from a reporter during his news confrerence. Asked for his reaction, President Bush said, “God bless his soul. We will continue to work for a Palestinian state that is at peace with Israel.”

    UPDATE: There is some dispute about Arafat’s condition. Reuters and others report thatPalestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qurie denied the report that Arafat is dead, saying: “I have just spoken to the officials in Paris and they say the situation is still as it was. He is still in the intensive care unit.”

    From California Yankee.

    Posted by Dan Spencer at 11:55 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Annan: Violence Intensifying in Darfur

    REUTERS: Annan: Violence Intensifying in Darfur

    In a grim report on the 20-month conflict in Sudan’s Darfur region, Secretary-General Kofi Annan says violence intensified in October and there are strong indications of war crimes “on a large and systematic scale.”

    He accused the government and rebels of trying to take more territory in Darfur instead of complying with U.N. demands to end the violence, disarm government-backed Arab militias blamed for many attacks and punish the perpetrators.

    Jan Pronk, the top U.N. envoy to Sudan who wrote the report, will present it to the Security Council on Thursday. It recommends that members take “prompt action” to get the government and rebels to comply with the U.N. resolutions and urges countries with influence to exert pressure on the parties to negotiate a peace deal.

    The United Nations has called Darfur the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, saying the conflict there has claimed 70,000 lives since March — mostly through disease and hunger.

    Posted by Laurence Simon at 09:54 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    Security Concerns Close U.S. Embasy In Syria

    The Associated Press reports that the U.S. Embassy in Damascus was closed for security reasons on this 25th anniversary of the start of the hostage crisis in Iran.

    An embassy spokesman could not say whether there was a specific threat.

    From California Yankee.

    Posted by Dan Spencer at 08:46 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Arafat Comatose

    Yasser Arafat is being reported by CNN Asia TV as “Slipping into and out of consciousness”.

    More later as details come to hand.

    UPDATE : From CNN :

    Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat has been in a coma since Wednesday night in the intensive care unit at a military hospital in Paris, a senior Palestinian aide told CNN.

    UPDATE:
    Haaretz news ticker says:

    Medical source at hospital where Arafat is being treated says Arafat has no chance of emerging from coma.
    Posted by Alan Brain at 06:17 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

    November 03, 2004

    Arafat's health deteriorating again?

    In the Haaretz news ticker, the following enigmatic headline has appeared:

    Arafat`s health has seriously deteriorated

    HAARETZ: Arafat in intensive care due to sudden deterioration in health

    The health of Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat seriously deteriorated Wednesday night.

    He was placed in an intensive-care unit at the French military hospital where he is being treated.

    Arafat was flown to France for treatment last Friday after his health worsened.

    The sudden deterioration came a few hours after Leila Shahid, the Palestinians’ permanent envoy to Paris, reiterated that doctors carrying out tests on Arafat in the suburb of Clamart, southwest of Paris, had ruled out leukemia or any other form of cancer and said his health was improving.

    “We are happy that his health is getting better.” she said. “Now we have to continue the examinations to find the reason for his general fatigue and the weakness of his blood. But I think we are going in the right direction.”

    Also:

    ISA: Arafat to convalesce in Tunisia

    Ailing Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat will convalesce in Tunisia after undergoing medical treatment in France, Palestinian foreign minister Farouk Kaddoumi said on Wednesday.

    “After undergoing treatment he will need time to rest,” Kaddoumi said before leaving for Paris in the company of other Palestinian leaders.

    “He will be here in Tunis, soon, God willing.”

    Posted by Laurence Simon at 05:20 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

    November 02, 2004

    Russian Scientist Surrenders Arms-Grade Plutonium

    Reuters reports that a Russian scientist has surrendered eight containers filled with after keeping it in his garage for eight years:

    Leonid Grigorov found the 14 ounces of plutonium-238 in a heap of rubbish at his laboratory near Russia’s border with Kazakhstan, Itar-Tass news agency said.

    Interfax news agency said the lab, looted after the Soviet collapse in 1991, was eventually closed and deserted.

    From California Yankee.

    Posted by Dan Spencer at 01:08 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

    Report: UAE President Sheik Zayed Dies

    AP: Report: UAE President Sheik Zayed Dies

    The president of the United Arab Emirates, Sheik Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, has died, according to Abu Dhabi TV. He was 86.

    Sheik Zayed, who has been absolute ruler of the United Arab Emirates for more than 30 years, had been ailing for several years and did not attend Arab summits. He had a kidney transplant in August 2000.

    His eldest son, Sheik Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, has been heir apparent since his father named him in 1969 crown prince of Abu Dhabi, the capital and richest of the seven emirates.

    Abu Dhabi TV interrupted regular broadcasting to break the news of Sheik Zayed’s death, but no cause of death was provided. The announcement was followed by an Islamic cleric appearing on TV reading verses from the Quran.

    Posted by Laurence Simon at 11:12 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Sudan Denies Surrounding Refugee Camps

    AP: Sudan Denies Surrounding Refugee Camps

    The Sudanese army and police have surrounded several refugee camps in the war-torn region of Darfur and denied access to humanitarian groups, the United Nations said Tuesday. The Sudanese government denied its security forces closed off the camps but said angry Arab tribesmen have gathered in the area.

    The U.N. World Food Program said three camps were surrounded — apparently in retaliation for the abduction of 18 Arabs by Darfur rebels — and that it was forced to pull 88 relief workers from those areas.

    The WFP fears the government may start forcing people from the camps back to their home villages, where there is less protection from government-backed militias known as Janjaweed that have been attacking towns, said spokeswoman Christiane Berthiaume.

    The camps were cut off “at 3 a.m. without any warning,” she said. “Agencies have been denied access to these camps since this morning.”

    At least 160,000 refugees in western Darfur cannot be reached by road “because of insecurity,” Berthiaume said.

    Posted by Laurence Simon at 11:08 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Director Theo van Gogh murdered in Amsterdam

    According to a story here:

    Film director Theo van Gogh was shot and killed in Amsterdam on Tuesday morning, his production company said.

    […]

    Locals claim the assassin looked like “a Muslim” and that a letter was left on Van Gogh’s body. The letter allegedly had Islamic text, but this has not been confirmed.

    Van Gogh, 47, directed the controversial movie Submission — written by Somali-born MP Ayaan Hirsi Ali — which criticised the Koran for sanctioning domestic violence in Islamic communities.

    The assailant has been taken into custody, according to the story.

    Posted by AlexPGP at 10:45 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    South Korean Navy Fires Warning Shots Past DPRK Intruders

    From Reuters via the ABC :

    North Korea has accused the South’s navy of a grave provocation that could lead to a maritime skirmish after South Korean patrol boats fired warning shots to repel military vessels from the North.

    South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said on Monday three North Korean patrol boats had crossed the so called Northern Limit Line in two separate incidents in just over an hour in the West Sea.

    A communique from the North Korean navy, published by the official KCNA news agency, condemned the South and said the North’s boats had been on routine patrol in North Korean waters.
    […]
    The South Korean armed forces deliberately committed this armed provocation which may give rise to another skirmish in the West Sea,” the North’s statement said.

    It described the incident as grave and reckless, saying the South Korean navy had fired shells at a North Korean patrol boat.

    “Such military provocation committed by them in broad daylight in the sensitive waters in the West Sea where two skirmishes occurred is an unpardonable provocation and a blatant challenge to the North in the light of the present inter-Korean relations,” the North’s communique said in English.

    Posted by Alan Brain at 06:23 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    November 01, 2004

    Arafat Aides Resume Talks With Israel, Fight Over His Fortune

    Follow the money…

    ARAB NEWS: Arafat Aides Resume Talks With Israel, Fight Over His Fortune

    As Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat waited for results of tests conducted on him by French doctors, his senior aides have resumed contact with Israel to revive the US-backed road map for peace.

    Senior Palestinian and Israeli leaders held separate meetings yesterday to plan a path forward in Arafat’s absence. Palestinian officials have been convening a series of top meetings in recent days to show that their institutions continue to function, while Israeli officials scrambled to plan for the possibility that the West Bank and Gaza could erupt into chaos if Arafat dies.

    At the same time sources close to the Palestinian leadership said a bitter fight had broken over who should control the ailing leader’s fortune estimated to be between $4.2 billion and $6.5 billion.

    Read the rest.

    Posted by Laurence Simon at 12:50 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    IDF Intelligence: Arafat is 'very sick'

    JERUSALEM POST: IDF Intelligence: Arafat is ‘very sick’

    Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat is “very sick,” a senior IDF intelligence branch officer said Monday. Military intelligence believes he has a type of cancer not yet identified, or a virus.

    He said that IDF intelligence has “a lot of details on his illness” but not enough to reach a diagnosis like Arafat’s doctors in France.

    He said that despite the impression the Palestinian are trying to give, they themselves are unsure of Arafat’s condition.

    An ailing Yasser Arafat entered a fourth day of emergency treatment Monday at a French military hospital specializing in blood disorders, but the cause of his precipitous decline in health remained unexplained.

    Palestinian officials say their leader’s condition has improved markedly since he was rushed from his battered Ramallah headquarters in the West Bank to Paris on Friday - and that he does not suffer from leukemia or cancer. But that has not been publicly confirmed by French physicians involved in his treatment.

    Sources are still claiming that he’s improving.

    Posted by Laurence Simon at 10:55 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    Elections Elsewhere

    The win for the left in Uruguaycould cost U.S. an ally

    Ukraine
    U.S. Watches Ukraine Elections with Concern
    U.S. Dept. of State
    Richard Armitage, Deputy Secretary
    Op-ed published in the Financial Times
    Washington, DC

    EFENEWS is regularly updates on election in South America

    currently,

    Brazil

    Preliminary returns: Lula’s PT loses in Sao Paulo, Porto Alegre
    Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s Workers Party (PT) suffered a serious reverse Sunday during a second round of municipal elections after losing the mayoralties of Sao Paulo and Porto Alegre, his principal strongholds.

    Chile

    Gov’t coalition wins municipal vote in Chile
    Chile’s governing Coalition of Parties for Democracy (CPD) won the nationwide municipal elections on Sunday with the vast majority of the votes counted.

    Venezuela

    Low turnout, extended polling hours, mark Venezualan local vote
    Venezuela’s regional elections Sunday were being held in a climate of calm, but low voter turnout marked them with Hugo Chavez’s ruling party expecting to achieve gains reinforcing the president’s triumph in the recall referendum last August.
    Voter turnout in the regional and municipal elections could be less than 50 percent, some 20 percent lower than in the presidential referendum, National Electoral Council (CNE) sources said.
    The CNE on Sunday afternoon extended the hours that the precincts would remain open by one hour, and the polls closed with no major incidents reported at 5:00 p.m. (2100 GMT).
    Posted by Robert Mayer at 07:22 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Uruguay's Left Celebrates First Presidential Win


    ruguay’s left celebrated its first presidential victory into the wee hours Monday while partial election returns indicated Tabare Vazquez would win and his main challengers conceded on exit poll results.

    With half of the votes tallied, the charismatic 64-year-old doctor was just short of the 50 percent needed to win in first-round balloting Sunday. But he should surpass that level when more votes come in from the capital Montevideo, his stronghold and home to half of the country’s voters.

    Backed by encouraging exit polls and projections, Vazquez declared himself winner a few hours after compulsory voting ended in the nation of 3.4 million.

    Read more…

    Posted by Michele at 05:28 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

    Explosion Kills Four in Tel Aviv Market


    n explosion went off Monday in a crowded open-air market in Tel Aviv, and a TV report said at least four people were killed.

    Paramedics said dozens of shoppers were hurt in the blast in the Carmel market.

    The cause of the explosion remained unclear, and police were still checking whether Palestinian militants or criminals were involved, or whether it was an accident.

    Read more…

    Posted by Michele at 05:25 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack