By Professor Richard Falk (UN Rapporteur for Palestine)
Countercurrents.org, May 31, 2010
This incident should serve as a wakeup call for a complicit international community. There are three political imperatives that need to emerge with a sense of urgency: condemnation of the Israeli attack and an accompanying demand for the immediate end of the Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip, appropriately by a decision in the UN Security Council; an authoritative launching of an investigation of war crimes allegations against Israel by the International Criminal Court; the widest possible endorsement and strengthening of the already growing worldwide boycott, divestment, and sanctions campaign directed at Israel’s occupation policies in Palestinian Territories.
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This letter is now illegal in Pakistan
From Tanveer Ansari | London Review of Books, Vol. 31, No. 15, August 6, 2009
Tariq Ali’s Diary notwithstanding, Asif Ali Zardari’s misdemeanours can no longer be satirised (LRB, 23 July). Helpless citizens who have been exchanging anti-Zardari jokes in which he is referred to as a dacoit, Mr Ten Per Cent, Mr Thirty Per Cent, as a US drone, a thief, a liar, a womaniser, a murderer, are to be deprived of this liberty. Rehman Malik, Zardari’s business associate, whose day job is to act as the country’s interior minister, has pushed through a new law that makes the circulation and transmission of ‘ill-motivated and concocted stories against the civilian leadership’ illegal; the authors of such stories will be ‘punished’.
It is a truly atrocious law and a serious blow to what few civil liberties and modes of expression we have left. It is unbelievable that it should have been passed so quietly, without any opposition in the National Assembly. Spoofing, spamming, and having an email address registered to a name other than the one on your passport are also punishable with jail sentences. The real joke is that these measures will increase the circulation of satirical jokes a hundredfold: they will travel by word of mouth, as they did in the days before mobile phones and the internet. Those who have been texting Zardari directly will, sadly, now have to search for other means to communicate with their leader. This letter is now illegal. Whether articles such as Ali’s are also proscribed has yet to be determined.
Meanwhile Muhammad Aslam, Benazir Bhutto’s former protocol officer and himself a lawyer, who was on guard duty on her jeep’s running board the day she was murdered, has publicly accused Rehman Malik, among others, of being a prime suspect in the case. Aslam has demanded that the police register a case against the interior minister. The worms are crawling out of the can, which might help explain the rush to introduce the new law.
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at 6:11 pm
Earlier this month, Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced a plan to reorient defense spending away from lucrative boondoggles for contractors and toward systems that are proven to work and are needed in present-day military situations. Conservatives immediately cried foul; Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) went so far as to claim that the Obama administration “is willing to sacrifice the lives of American military men and women for the sake of domestic programs.”
Right-wing pundit Bill Kristol was among the conservatives fearmongering about the supposed “cuts.” Following North Korea’s test launch of a missile, Kristol declared that “it is scary to have a president” talk about cutting the defense budget. “It is a very dangerous moment,” he said. Today on Bill Bennett’s radio show, Kristol said he hoped that the pirate crisis would make President Obama think twice before following through on the proposed budget reforms:
KRISTOL: Unfortunately, given the world we live in, this [military funding] is not something we can skimp. And that’s another thing I hope the president realizes —
BENNETT: Budget cuts. The defense budget cuts, right?
KRISTOL: Well I hope he thinks about that. I mean, a lot of things that don’t look necessary — who needs the a big destroyer, the U.S.S. Bainbridge? Who needs Seals getting hours, weeks, months of training being snipers, isn’t that something that went out of fashion 70 years go? You can imagine people making these arguments. And it turns out, a lot of these things turn out to be important. … And I do hope it makes him sort of understand that there’s no substitute for having a strong and large military, honestly.
AUDIO & MORE HERE
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