News & Current Affairs

March 30, 2009

US to consult Pakistan on strikes

Filed under: Latest, Politics News — Tags: , , , , , , , — expressyoureself @ 2:35 am

US to consult Pakistan on strikes

US President Barack Obama has said he will consult Pakistan’s leaders before targeting militants in that country.

“If we have a high-value target within our sights, after consulting with Pakistan, we’re going after them,” Mr Obama told CBS television.

But Mr Obama ruled out deploying US ground troops inside Pakistan.

On Friday, the US leader announced a major policy review on Afghanistan and Pakistan, saying the situation on their border was “increasingly perilous”.

Kabul and Islamabad have welcomed the review, but Pakistan has urged the US to halt recent cross-border missile strikes by unmanned Predator drone aircraft.

Pakistan accountability

Mr Obama told CBS television’s Face the Nation that the main thrust of US policy was “to help Pakistan defeat these extremists”.

He noted that Pakistan was a sovereign nation and added: “We need to work with them and through them to deal with al-Qaeda. But we have to hold them much more accountable.”

US drone

Unmanned drone strikes have triggered fury in Pakistan

Senior US military officials have alleged links between Pakistan’s military intelligence, the ISI, and militants on the country’s borders with both Afghanistan and India.

The BBC’s M Ilyas Khan in Islamabad says Mr Obama’s remarks suggest the US may be willing to take the one-year-old Pakistani civilian government on board regarding a highly sensitive issue.

On Saturday Pakistan’s President Asif Ali Zardari said his country would not allow anyone to violate its sovereignty, although he did not specifically criticise the US missile strikes as he has done in the past.

He also said Pakistan would not allow use of its soil for militant activity.

Meanwhile, gunmen killed five people, including a district police chief and former local mayor in the troubled North-West Frontier Province, Pakistani officials said.

Abductions

The incident occurred in Lower Dir, near the Afghan border, as militants attacked police chasing them after an attempted kidnapping, said a government official.

In a separate attack in the same province, officials said 11 police officers had been abducted from a checkpoint in the Bara area, near the Khyber Pass.

Tribal areas map

It came a day after Pakistan’s army said troops, backed by artillery and helicopter gunships, had killed 26 militants in the Mohmand area of the restive province.

Earlier on Saturday, the Taleban destroyed 12 parked trucks laden with supplies for Nato personnel in Afghanistan – the latest in a series of similar attacks – near Peshawar, capital of North-West Frontier Province.

Broadcast on Sunday, Mr Obama’s CBS interview was filmed on Friday as he unveiled his new strategy for the region.

He said the border area was a haven for al-Qaeda and Taleban fighters and the most dangerous place in the world.

The strategy includes plans for 4,000 more troops to be sent to Afghanistan, as well as increased development aid for border areas of Pakistan.

It also sets out what analysts say is an ambitious goal of boosting the Afghan army from 80,000 to 134,000 troops by 2011.

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March 29, 2009

Colombia shocked by incest case

Colombia shocked by incest case

Colombia map

A Colombian man has appeared in court accused of imprisoning his daughter and fathering eight children with her.

Arcedio Alvarez is said to have abused his daughter, now in her thirties, since she was less than 10 years old.

The case has shocked Colombia, and the 58-year-old needed police and army protection for his court appearance.

Mr Alvarez, who the press have dubbed the “monster of Mariquita” after the area he comes from, denies incest and rape, saying his daughter was adopted.

“We agreed to have a romantic relationship because we really loved each other. But she was not my own child,” he told the court in the central Tolima province.

It is not clear whether his claim is true, or whether it would affect the charges he faces, but the woman says she always saw him as her father.

“I always respected him as my father and he is my father,” she said.

“He never spoke about [incest], about why we were doing it. Sometimes I would ask him and he would say it was God’s will.”

The woman told police how her mother died when she was five years old, leaving her in the care of Mr Alvarez.

She says she was raped repeatedly and had 11 children – three of whom died.

The woman and her children are now under state protection.

Child welfare campaigners have called for a life sentence if he is convicted, saying there are hundreds of thousands of child sexual abuse cases in Colombia not being prosecuted.

Spain court mulls US torture case

Spain court mulls US torture case

An unnamed inmate sleeps in his cell at Guantanamo, file image

Some inmates were subjected to controversial interrogation techniques

Spanish judges have agreed to consider charging six former US officials with providing legal justification for alleged torture at Guantanamo Bay.

Human rights lawyers brought the case against the six, who all served under former President George W Bush.

Among those named was former defence official Douglas Feith, who said the charges against him “made no sense”.

Spanish courts can prosecute offences such as torture or war crimes even if they occurred in other countries.

The former officials – who include ex-Attorney-General Alberto Gonzalez – could face arrest on leaving the US if the courts decide to issue warrants.

‘Controversial position’

The lawyers who brought the case accuse the six of providing legal cover to allow the security services to use techniques of interrogation such as “waterboarding”.

They say the methods amounted to torture.

Mr Feith, a former under-secretary for defence, rebuffed the accusations.

“The charges as related to me make no sense,” he said.

“They criticise me for promoting a controversial position that I never advocated.”

The lawyers took their accusations to Judge Baltasar Garzon, who agreed to allow state prosecutors to decide if the case has merit.

Judge Garzon was responsible for bringing a prosecution against former Chilean leader Augusto Pinochet, who was arrested in the UK in 1998.

Spain’s courts have also launched investigations over alleged crimes in Argentina, Tibet, El Salvador and Rwanda.

Biden appeals to G20 protesters

Biden appeals to G20 protesters

Prime Minister Gordon Brown meets US Vice-President Joe Biden (R) in Chile on Saturday 28 March 2009

Joe Biden (right) asked protesters to give G20 leaders a fair hearing

US Vice-President Joe Biden has called for G20 protesters to give governments a chance to tackle the economic crisis.

At a G20 warm-up meeting in Chile, Mr Biden said heads of state would agree proposals to remedy the crisis at next week’s meeting in London.

As they spoke, tens of thousands of protesters marched in the UK capital and in Germany, France and Italy.

US billionaire George Soros told the news the G20 meeting was “make or break” for the world economy.

“Unless they do something for developing world there will be serious collapse in that part of the world,” Mr Soros said.

Massive security operation

At a news conference in Vina del Mar, Mr Biden said he hoped the protesters would give the politicians a chance.

“Hopefully we can make it clear to them that we’re going to walk away from this G20 meeting with some concrete proposals,” he said.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said he understood why people were demonstrating in the UK.

“We will respond to [the protest] at the G20 with measures that will help create jobs, stimulate business and get the economy moving,” he said.

But Brazil’s President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva told the Chile meeting that everyone was suffering from the recklessness of those who had turned the world economy into “a gigantic casino”.

“We are rejecting blind faith in the markets,” he said.

In London on Saturday, demonstrators demanding action on poverty, jobs and climate change called on G20 leaders to pursue a new kind of global justice.

Police estimated 35,000 marchers took part in the event.

A series of rallies are planned for Wednesday and Thursday by a variety of coalitions and groups campaigning on a range of issues from poverty, inequality and jobs, to war, climate change and capitalism.

There have been reports that banks and other financial institutions could be targeted in violent protests.

British officials have put a huge security operation in place.

‘We won’t pay’

Before the London summit, Mr Brown has been visiting a number of countries trying to rally support for his economic plans.

In Chile on Friday he said people should not be “cynical” about what could be achieved at the summit, saying he was optimistic about the likely outcome.

But in an interview, German Chancellor Angela Merkel dampened expectations of a significant breakthrough.

She said one meeting would not be enough to solve the economic crisis and finish building a new structure for global markets.

In Berlin, thousands of protesters took to the streets on Saturday with a message to the G20 leaders: “We won’t pay for your crisis.”

Another march took place in the city of Frankfurt. The demonstrations attracted as many as 20,000 people.

In the Italian capital, Rome, several thousand protesters took to the streets.

In Paris, around 400 demonstrators dumped sand outside the stock exchange to mock supposed island tax havens.

March 28, 2009

G20 protesters marching in London

G20 protesters marching in London

Young World Vision supporters from Luton and Milton Keynes gather with Yes You Can placards and t-shirts by Westminster Bridge

Children are also joining the heavily-policed march

Thousands of people are marching through London demanding action on poverty, climate change and jobs ahead of next week’s G20 summit.

The Put People First alliance of 150 charities and unions are marching from Embankment to Hyde Park for a rally.

Speakers will call on G20 leaders to pursue a new kind of global justice.

Police say protests over the coming week are creating an “unprecedented challenge”. Campaigners have rejected claims the march could turn violent.

Marchers gathered near Embankment spoke of “a carnival atmosphere”.

“The sun is shining – there are lots of banners and flags and everyone is in good spirits,” said Chris Jordan, an Action Aid campaigner.

A huge security operation is being launched before and during the G20, at which world leaders will discuss the global financial crisis among other issues.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown has said he is optimistic that a consensus can be reached on how to tackle the problem but other leaders are less convinced.

In an interview with Saturday’s Financial Times, German Chancellor Angela Merkel dampened expectations of a significant breakthrough.

She said one meeting would not be enough to solve the economic crisis and finish building a new structure for global markets.

Ahead of the summit, there are fears that banks and other financial institutions could be the focus for violent protests.

Organisers of Saturday’s Put People First march say police have no evidence anyone intends to take part in violence or disrupt the march, which has been organised in full co-operation with the authorities.

Commander Simon O’Brien, one of the senior command team in charge of policing security, said: “It’s fair to say that this is one of the largest, one of the most challenging and one of the most complicated operations we have delivered.

“G20 is attracting a significant amount of interest from protest groups. There is an almost unprecedented level of activity going on.

“The unprecedented nature is about the complexity and scale of the operations over a number of days.”

TUC general secretary Brendan Barber, who is due to address the rally, said there was no room for violence at the march.

“If there are other groups who want to cause trouble, I don’t want to see them anywhere near our event,” he told the Today programme.

He said he wanted to see G20 leaders agree a plan of action to deal with the financial downturn.

“Where I hope we will see a consensus emerge is in the recognition that unless they act together, then the problems are only going to get worse.

“This, unlike any other recession, is a recession right across the world.”

The Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Miliband, who has met some of the groups taking part, said he expected “the vast majority” to stage a peaceful protest.

He said he agreed it was important for the G20 to make commitments on helping the environment as well as the economy.

“There are some people who will say you can either tackle the economic crisis or the climate crisis.

“But the truth is that both come together with this idea of a Green New Deal, of investing in the jobs of the future, which are going to be in the green industries of the future.”

‘Better world’

Actor Tony Robinson suggested the talk of violence was distracting from protesters’ demands for greater government commitment on the environment and local communities.

Jake Corn, from Cambridge, said he was joining the march to show his support for a more sustainable future.

“We feel this is an important moment with the G20 coming here. We want to get our message across to as many people as possible,” he said.

Italian trade unionist Nicoli Nicolosi, who had travelled from Rome, said: “We are here to try and make a better world and protest against the G20.”

Saturday’s march will be followed by a series of protests on Wednesday and Thursday by a variety of coalitions and groups campaigning on a range of subjects, from poverty, inequality and jobs to war, climate change and capitalism.

In the run-up to the summit, Prime Minister Gordon Brown has been visiting a number of countries seeking support.

On Friday, during a visit to Chile, he said people should not be “cynical” about what could be achieved at next week’s summit, saying he was optimistic about the likely outcome.

Map of the march


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