KOLKATA: The Army’s special forces were the first to receive them. It was then the turn of security personnel in J&K. Finally, CRPF personnel [Central Reserve Police Force paramilitary force] operating in Maoist-infested Lalgarh have got access to sophisticated weapons imported from Israel.
Senior officials believe that the 5.56mm Tavor guns, manufactured by Israel Weapon Industries Ltd (IWI), will give their men that much-needed edge over the guerrillas who use the terrain to their advantage. The INSAS, AK-47 or 7.62 mm SLR used by the CRPF till now have not proved to be too effective in close quarter battles (CQB). Indian ordnance factories have been trying to come up with an effective solution, but their latest products have not yet cleared field trials by the armed forces.
In 2009, Union home minister P Chidambaram cleared the procurement of 10,147 assault rifles from IWI in a `144-crore deal. The defence ministry had also imported similar weapons for use by its special forces.
“The INSAS is a good weapon for an infantry soldier. However, it is too cumbersome for personnel involved in counter-insurgency operations. The AK-47s are easier to carry, but are not accurate enough. The weapons imported from Israel are not only accurate and lightweight, they also have a rate of fire to match the AK-47s. They are ideally suited for the CQB environment when personnel have only a spilt second to react,” an official said. Continue reading →
DAMASCUS/RAMALLAH, Sept. 26 — The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) suspended its participation in the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) meetings on Sunday to protest direct peace talks with Israel.
“PFLP refuses to work as a cover for the Palestinian National Authority’s (PNA) policy,” Maher al-Taher, leader of the Damascus- based PFLP, said during a sit-in in support of the Palestinian prisoners in the Israeli jails. The decision of suspending participation in the PLO meetings is a response to the resumption of direct peace talks with Israel, Taher said.
The U.S.-brokered talks started on Sept. 2 are “concessions, especially as the negotiations were imposed as an alternative to the reference of the United Nations and its resolutions,” Khaleda Jarar, a senior PFLP leader, said in a press conference in Ramallah, following a meeting of the PFLP’s Central Committee.
The PFLP is the second largest member of the PLO after the PNA President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah movement.
The peace talks which are not aimed at protecting the Palestinian refugees’ right to return will actually serve the interests of the United States and Israel, Taher said. Continue reading →
Decisive strike at labour office on September 27 : Strike to be carried on till demands are met
Reaching no conclusion after eleven days of strike in more than fifty power loom factories of Ludhiana’s Gaushala, Kashmir Nagar and Madhopuri areas the workers in the leadership of Karkhana Mazdoor Union organised a big meeting in front of Vardhman Mill yesterday which was attended by more than a thousand workers of different areas. It was decided in the meeting that a strike shall be called at the labour office today (September 27) which shall not be called off until the demands of the workers are met even if the strikers have to spend the night at the labour office.
Rajwinder, President Karkhana Mazdoor Union, said that the immorality of the labour office has reached its limit and they have no regard for their constituinal duties. The workers have been protesting for the last 11 days and their demands are very little and legitimate. There has been no significant increase in their wages for past 10-12 years while cost of living has gone up many times. The profits earned by owners at the expense of the workers have been soaring high but they are not willing to give a penny to the toiling workers. The workers live like slaves in this independent country whose rulers take great pride in calling it the biggest democracy of the world.
While the owners only care for their profits the labour office is even less concerned about the condition of the workers. The labour officers shamelessly take the side of owners in every dispute between the owners and the workers. Rajwinder brought out the contrasting fact that the representatives of the people (Members of Parliament) recently voted to increase their salary by more than 300 per cent but they do not wish to give the majority of people living in wretched conditions even a rupee more. He said that enough was enough and the workers were not ready to tolerate it any more. They will not relent until their demands are fulfilled.
The meeting in front the Vardhman Mill today was attended by representatives of Naujawan Bharat Sabha, Moulder and Steel Worker’s Union, Lok Ekta Sangthan, Mazdoor Chetana Manch, Bharatiya Kisan Union (Ugrahan), D.I.F., D.T.F., AITUC and INTUC and they promised to provide every support to the strike of the power loom workers of Gaushala, Kashmir Nagar and Madhopuri areas of Ludhiana and announced their participation in the strike to be held today at the labour office. Rajwinder said that now no factory owner has the courage to suppress the striking workers any more.
Released by Lakhwinder, Mobile: 096461 50249 Secretary, Karkhana Mazdoor Union
In a speech during a Peace and Security forum held at the Mandarin Hotel last April 22, 2010, then presidential candidate Benigno Aquino III outlined his National Security Policy, which he said focuses on four key elements:
Governance – “The government must be present and accountable to its citizens especially those living in the poorest and most remote areas.”
(An effective political strategy focuses on strengthening the government’s capability and capacity to respond—and be seen to be responding—to the needs of its people.)
Delivery of basic services – “To alleviate the plight of innocent civilians caught in the conflict, we must renew government programs that build access roads, school buildings for basic and adult education, provide potable water and sanitation facilities, basic health care, electricity, assist in shelter reconstruction, and provide temporary livelihood interventions.”
Economic Reconstruction and Sustainable Development – the national government, in partnership with international donor organizations, must assist the new ARMM regional government in building a capable bureaucracy with streamlined and transparent procedures to increase the region’s absorptive capacity for development projects that will come its way. Continue reading →
A top Maoist leader on Wednesday appealed to Naga troopers of the Indian Reserve Battalion [from the northeast state of Nagaland] to defy orders and not take part in the ongoing security operations against the ultra left rebels in West Bengal’s Junglemahal region.
In an open letter to troopers of the Nagaland Indian Reserve Battalion – who are on duty in the mountainous terrain of Purulia district to fight the ultras, Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) politburo member Kisanji asked them to “revolt against the orders to battle against the people, desist from pumping bullets into the bodies of your brothers and sisters and defy all orders to dispatch you from one place to another at the diktat and whims of superiors to kill people and get killed”.
“The government considers you as ambush expert Nagas who can easily kill and get killed in the battle zone of the Ayodhya Hills of Purulia district,” Kisanji observed.
Two companies of NIRB troopers were deployed in the Ayodhya Hills of Purulia district recently to flush out the ultra left rebels from the area as part of the anti-Maoists operations launched June 2009 in Junglemahal (forested Maoist-affected areas of West Midnapore, Purulia and Bankura).
The Ground Zero Synagogue–Lebanon Becoming More American than America
“There shouldbe no mosque near Ground Zero in New York so long as there are no churches or synagogues in Saudi Arabia. The time for double standards that allow Islamists to behave aggressively toward us while they demand our weakness and submission is over.”—Newt Gingrich
Has Lebanon officially become more tolerant and progressive than the United States?
Let’s talk about Lebanon’s Ground Zero and you can decide for yourself. One must first understand what “Ground Zero” means to most Lebanese.
In a country with about the same land mass as Los Angeles County which has been at war off and on for nearly four decades, “Ground Zero” for the Lebanese is arguably their entire country—and at the center of their Ground Zero is downtown Beirut, captured and occupied by the Israeli Defense Force in 1982 and which was almost entirely reduced to rubble from Muslim West Beirut to Christian East Beirut, and all points in between.
Israeli bombing of Beirut, 1982
Once upon a time not too long ago, there was scarcely a building left standing or unscarred by shrapnel in all of Beirut. I know, because I was in Beirut in 1991, and witnessed first hand a city once described as “the Paris of the Middle East” reduced to ruins, pock marked with unexploded munitions and a haphazard “network” of open sewers. Continue reading →
The food crisis of 2008 never really ended, it was ignored and forgotten. The rich and powerful are well fed; they had no food crisis, no shortage, so in the West, it was little more than a short lived sound bite, tragic but forgettable. To the poor in the developing world, whose ability to afford food is no better now than in 2008, the hunger continues.
Hunger can have many contributing factors; natural disaster, discrimination, war, poor infrastructure. So why, regardless of the situation, is high tech agriculture always assumed to be the only the solution? This premise is put forward and supported by those who would benefit financially if their “solution” were implemented. Corporations peddle their high technology genetically engineered seed and chemical packages, their genetically altered animals, always with the “promise” of feeding the world.
Politicians and philanthropists, who may mean well, jump on the high technology band wagon. Could the promise of financial support or investment return fuel their apparent compassion?
The Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) an initiative of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation supposedly works to achieve a food secure and prosperous Africa. While these sentiments and goals may be philanthropy at its best, some of the coalition partners have a different agenda. Continue reading →
Weekly News Update on the Americas, September 28, 2010
Cuba: Government Describes Private Sector Expansion
On Sept. 24 Granma, the official newspaper of the Cuban Communist Party (PCC), published an article describing policy changes intended to expand Cuba’s small private sector. The changes are part of a plan announced on Sept. 13 to lay off some half million public employees, about 10% of the total labor force, over the next six months; the government expects about 465,000 of the laid-off workers to move to the private sector or to form cooperatives, according to unofficial sources.
The plan is basically an expansion of the “self-employment” (TCP) policy instituted during the “special period” in the 1990s after the collapse of the Soviet Union. The government will now issue licenses for 178 job categories in the TCP–which includes small businesses in addition to actual self-employment. Most of these occupations were authorized in the 1990s, but some were closed off again in 2004, and there are currently just 143,000 licenses for TCP businesses, down from a high of 210,000 in 1995. Much of the work authorized under the new policy is currently done in the black market; the changes will bring these jobs into the tax and social security systems.
What is probably more important than the increased number of TCP occupations is the lifting of several restrictions on private activity. Some seem minor, such as raising the number of seats at family restaurants from 12 to 20, but others are substantive. A small business will no longer be limited to hiring workers who live with the owners or are family members, and businesses will be allowed to operate in more than one municipality. People will be able to rent out entire houses and apartments instead of just renting rooms in their own homes. Continue reading →
The National Democratic Front-Eastern Visayas today described the $434 million granted by the US to the Aquino government as “war funds” in line with the US Counter-insurgency Guide. Of the grant facilitated by the Millenium Challenge Corporation headed by US State Secretary Hillary Clinton, $214.4 million will go to the rehabilitation of the Samar Road while the rest are earmarked for other construction projects and improvement of tax collection.
But according to NDF-EV spokesperson Fr. Santiago Salas, “The MCC grant is another addition to the long history of US aggression and intervention in Samar, dating back to the 1901 Balangiga Uprising we commemorated last Sept. 28. It is really US assistance for the Aquino government’s counter-insurgency program in lieu of Oplan Bantay Laya, where the whole island of Samar remains a priority area. Such a program is copied from the 2009 US Counter-insurgency Guide, which comprehensively pushes “counter-insurgency” by emphasizing massive psywar propaganda in tandem with brute military force.”
Fr. Salas noted that no fundamental changes are being undertaken by the Aquino government, while it actively hews to US political and economic interests. “President Benigno Aquino III is no different from Arroyo and other predecessors in being a puppet of US imperialism. It is even laughable for the MCC to give the grant as a gesture of support for Aquino’s supposed anti-corruption.
But not even a hundred days into his office, the people can see through Aquino’s emperor’s new clothes into his own corruption, puppetry and fascism. He has neglected bringing Gloria Arroyo to account for massive corruption and human rights violations. His government is riddled with cronyism through the Kamag-anak Inc. and Kaklase Inc. He is beholden to the interests of big landlords, big business, and US imperialism. He has not resumed peace talks with the NDFP but seems inclined to all-out war coupled with cosmetic reforms.” Continue reading →
“Know Your Rights” is a song by The Clash released as a single prior to the release of the album, Combat Rock, on which it appears. The song was the first single from the album.
The song begins with the words “This is a public service announcement…with guitars!” The structure of the song revolves around the rights held by the poor and disenfranchised, in which the speaker of the song, presumably a villainous civil servant (whose identity is assumed in the song by vocalist Joe Strummer), is only able to name three rights, which are all provisional anyway. At the end, the notion that more rights should be granted is rebuffed by the speaker.
The three rights are:
1. The right not to be killed, unless it is done by a policeman or an aristocrat.
2. The right to food money, providing of course, you don’t mind a little investigation, humiliation, and, if you cross your fingers, rehabilitation.
3. The right to free speech (as long as you’re not dumb enough to actually try it).
The song is featured on the compilation album, Songs and Artists That Inspired Fahrenheit 9/11, which followed up the 2004 documentary film Fahrenheit 9/11 by filmmaker Michael Moore, where the track listing was selected by Moore based on the songs and the artists he listened to while creating the documentary.
[Wikipedia: "Bandh (Hindi: बंद), originally a Hindi word meaning 'closed', is a form of protest used by political activists in some countries like India and Nepal. During a Bandh, a political party or a community declares a general strike. Often Bandh means that the community or political party declaring a Bandh expect the general public to stay in their homes and strike work. The main affected are shopkeepers who are expected to keep their shops closed and the public transport operators of buses and cabs are supposed to stay off the road and not carry any passengers. There have been instances of large metro cities coming to a standstill.Bandhs are powerful means for civil disobedience. Because of the huge impact that a Bandh has on the local community, it is much feared as a tool of protest."]
Maoists support Kashmiris, call strike
Times of India, September 27, 2010
NEW DELHI: In an attempt to show solidarity with protesting Kashmiris who have been demanding “azadi” and attacking security forces, Maoists have called for a 24-hour bandh in six states on September 30.
In a statement dated September 23, the CPI (Maoist) said September 30 will be observed as a bandh in six states — Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh and Orissa — and also in Gadchiroli, Gondia and Chandrapur districts of Maharashtra and Balaghat in Madhya Pradesh in protest “against the killing of Kashmiri youth by security forces since June 11″.
The statement was issued by Abhay, spokesperson of the central committee, and Anand, central regional bureau spokesperson. The party said there would be a “closedown of all rail and road traffic, banks, government and private offices, industries, educational institutions and business establishments”. “We are excluding essential services like hospitals and other services from this bandh call,” the statement said.
The statement justified the stone-pelting in Kashmir and called it democratic. It has been a Maoist strategy to join forces with all manner of protests, particularly if they are directed against the state.
In their attempt to gain support from Kashmiris, the party demanded “immediate end to massacres by Indian armed forces in Kashmir, withdrawal of military and paramilitary forces, repeal of AFSPA, plebiscite for Kashmiris and release of all political prisoners”. Continue reading →
Aquino’s promised jobs from US companies, “consuelo de bobo”-CPP
September 29, 2010
The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) today dismissed as “consuelo de bobo” Benigno Aquino’s promise of 40,000 new jobs in the next three years with $2.4 billion in projected new US investments from his week-long US trip.
Said the CPP, “This is a drop in the ocean of unemployment drowning the Philippine economy. Consider that just last March, some 30% of more than half a million new college graduates, a bigger number of high school graduates and as many dropouts have ended up unemployed.”
“Close to half of the Philippine labor force of 39 million are either unemployed or seeking additional employment,” the CPP added.
“Aquino enticed US companies to invest in the Philippines promising them higher returns due to cheap Filipino labor,” said the CPP. “As it is, the current minimum wage rates are hardly one-fourth of what is needed for a family to live decently. Philippine labor is already one of the cheapest in Asia. With its thrust to keep wages low in order to attract more foreign investments, the puppet Aquino regime will surely just keep rejecting the workers’ just demands for wage hikes.” Continue reading →
WASHINGTON: Go for a Kashmir solution and help bring stability to the region for a ticket to UN Security Council membership and fulfilling your big power aspirations. That’s the broad message President Barack Obama will be bringing to New Delhi during his upcoming November visit to India, preparation for which are in full swing in Washington DC.
The Kashmir settlement-for-seat at high table idea (euphemism for UNSC membership) is being discussed animatedly in the highest levels of the US administration, according to a various sources. President Obama himself has decided to revive the process of a US push in this direction, albeit discreetly, because of New Delhi’s sensitivities.
Key administration officials are confirming that the UNSC issue will be on Obama’s agenda when he visits New Delhi. The US President is expected to announce an incremental American support to India’s candidature during his address to the joint session of India’s parliament, depending on New Delhi’s receptiveness to resolving the Kashmir tangle.
“[UNSC reforms] is something that is under discussion as we prepare for the President’s important visit,” US Assistant Secretary of State Robert Blake confirmed on Monday during a read-out of the meeting between Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her Indian counterpart S.M.Krishna, saying the two had agreed the “President’s visit will be a defining moment in the history of our bilateral relations.” Continue reading →
“On the execution of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani: a woman at the centre of the national and international policies of the anti-woman Islamic Republic of Iran”
Following are edited excerpts of an article by Azar Drakhshan, an activist with the 8 March Organisation of women from Iran and Afghanistan. The unabridged article in Farsi is available at www.8mars.com.
Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani was sentenced to Qesas (revenge punishment) in connection with the killing of her husband. But she was forgiven by her husband’s family [and therefore considered innocent under Islamic law]. She also was sentenced to 99 lashes and 10 years jail for “illicit relationships” with two men after her husband’s death. One of the men was sentenced to 20 lashes and the other 40.
However a few months later, the justice department pulled together another dossier accusing her of committing “adultery” when her husband was alive and sentenced her to death by stoning. No man was named as an adulterer in this case. After broad international protest, the legal authorities withdrew the sentence of stoning and replaced it with execution [by hanging]. From the time Sakineh′s lawyers first got out the news about her sentence, her fate has been tied up with international politics.
Many heads and high officials of Western states, including U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, have protested against this stoning sentence and declared it an indication of the abuse of human rights in Iran. The Iranian regime’s response makes it clear that for them the essential question is no longer what happens to Sakineh, but that she has become a symbol in the larger conflict between Iran and the West. At the same time, the Islamic regime is also holding Sakineh hostage in order to take revenge against all those women and girls who have been in the forefront of the recent struggles and dared question the old and rotten values of the anti-women Islamic Republic system. Continue reading →
An aid ship carrying eight Jewish activists from Europe, Israel, and the US was apprehended by the Israeli navy just miles off the coast of Gaza after being warned by a warship. Navy commandos boarded the Irene, and then the passengers were led off the boat.
Rich Cooper, an organiser with Independent Jewish Voices, told Al Jazeera that his group is now demanding the immediate release of the activists. The ship had left the port of Famagusta in Turkish-held northern Cyprus on Sunday afternoon.
The Israeli army had said it would offer to transfer the ship’s aid supplies to the port of Ashdod and then ask the crew to turn back. Ehud Barak, Israel’s defence minister, had repeatedly warned that Israel will intercept any ship nearing Gaza, which is governed by the Palestinian group Hamas.
“In the tradition of the civil rights movement … we assert our right to continue to Gaza under international law,” Glyn Secker, the Irene’s captain, told Al Jazeera on Monday. Continue reading →