Archive | June 30th, 2017

Colombia’s Uribe Still Refuses to Give Peace a Chance

Colombia’s Uribe Still Refuses to Give Peace a Chance, Vows to Roll Back Deal with FARC If His Party Wins in 2018 Election
  • Far-right senator and former president, Alvaro Uribe, leads a march against Colombia
    Far-right senator and former president, Alvaro Uribe, leads a march against Colombia’s peace deal in Cartagena, Sept. 26, 2016. | Photo: EFE
Uribe has long defended the fringe opinion that demobilized FARC members should be behind bars and not participating in politics.

Even as Colombia’s largest guerrilla army is just days away from laying down the last of its weapons once and for all, the country’s far-right former President Alvaro Uribe remains unwilling to give peace a chance after over half a century of civil war, vowing Wednesday to roll back the historic peace accords with the FARC is his party wins next year’s elections.

RELATED: Colombia Right-Wing Paramilitary Group Labels Rights Defenders ‘Military Targets’

Uribe, who as president from 2002 to 2010 presided over record-level human rights abuses and number of people fleeing Colombia as refugees, has been the country’s staunchest opponent of the landmark peace deal.

The controversial politician has long argued that the accords — signed last year by President Juan Manuel Santos and FARC leader Rodrigo Londoño, also known as Timoleon Jimenez or Timochenko — offer an “impunity” deal to the FARC by prioritizing truth and reconciliation over criminal prosecutions for demobilized members of the rebel force.

“The accords will not be eliminated, they will be modified,” Uribe, a senator with the right-wing Democratic Center party said Wednesday from Madrid, arguing that what he described as “impunity” for the FARC will give way to more violence.

Uribe was the chief proponent of the “No” campaign in last year’s plebiscite on the peace agreement, which Colombian voters rejected by less than half a percentage point. A modified version of the peace deal was later approved by Congress.

The firebrand former president has advocated for an end-of-conflict deal that would see former FARC rebels put behind bars for their crimes and blocked from participating in politics. He staunchly rejected the peace agreement’s transitional justice measures that offer reduced sentences and community service for armed actors who own up to their crimes, sticking by his characterization of FARC members as criminals and terrorists.

RELATED: ‘Chiquita Papers’ Expose How Banana Execs Fueled War and Terror in Colombia for Decades

Uribe has also been a fierce opponent of the political participation agreements outlined in the peace deal that will grant the FARC non-voting representation in Congress until the 2018 election, when it will debut as a political party with five seats guaranteed both in the lower house of Congress and the Senate. Uribe argued the measures of the deal afford FARC rebels “excessive benefits.”

Supporters of the peace deal argue that agreements on political participation, alongside the other five pillars of the peace accords, are essential for bringing an end to over five decades of internal armed conflict and ensuring that a war of ideas in party politics — not weapons — define Colombia’s political future.

Nevertheless, Uribe has continued to double down on his rejection of the deal, arguing from Madrid Wednesday that former FARC rebels are not “eligible” to participate in politics and fear mongering that their involvement in governing the country would have a negative impact on the economy and “create a second Venezuela.”

Whipping up opposition to agreement in the final months of the peace negotiations last year, Uribe said in an interview with Colombia’s El Espectador that it was cause for “panic” that Santos “has said that (FARC leader) Timochenko could be president.” The fact-checking website Colombiacheck labeled the statement “inflated,” pointing out that Uribe failed to put in context Timochenko’s complicated legal situation in the face of dozens of investigations, the FARC’s low approval rating among Colombian voters, and the international precedent of El Salvador, where it took decades for a former guerrilla leader to win the country’s top office.

But despite being misleading, the comments were emblematic of the kind of misrepresentations of the peace deal and anti-FARC hysterics that has characterized Uribe’s high-profile criticism, including during the “No” campaign against the peace deal ahead of the November 2016 plebiscite.

RELATED: Colombia Denies UN Claim of Paramilitary-Linked Violence

And while Uribe has warned that “impunity” for the FARC could birth further violence as the 52-year-old civil war comes to a close, human rights defenders have long warned that the greatest threat to security and the stability of the peace deal in the country is the resurgence of right-wing paramilitary activity.

Both the Santos government and Uribe’s far-right faction have turned a blind eye to paramilitary violence, labeling the death squad syndicates “criminal gangs.” The characterization, pioneered by Uribe when he was president, effectively depoliticizes the violence of paramilitaries and downplays their role in a spiral of targeted attacks and violent harassment of mostly poor, rural communities.

Uribe has also been accused of links to right-wing paramilitary groups and also oversaw the “false positives” scandal. The shocking scandal broke in 2008, revealing systematic extrajudicial military killings of civilians, including homeless and mentally ill people, and dressing them in guerrilla fatigues to boost the government’s body count in the war on rebels. More than 3,000 people were killed as “false positives” during Uribe’s two terms in office.

Paramilitary groups are said to be responsible for at least 80 percent of civilian deaths in the country’s more than half-century-long civil war that has claimed the lives of some 260,000 people and victimized millions more.

Posted in ColombiaComments Off on Colombia’s Uribe Still Refuses to Give Peace a Chance

Chilean-Palestinians Slam Pro-Nazi Lobby in Chile

  • People rally in Santiago, Chile, on Aug. 2, 2014, to protest against Israel’s military campaign in Gaza.
    People rally in Santiago, Chile, on Aug. 2, 2014, to protest against Israel’s military campaign in Gaza. | Photo: AFP
The incident comes in the wake of a recent pushback against Palestine solidarity activists in Chile.

The Chilean-Palestinian community is decrying pro-Israel adverts in the country’s national press, Hispan TV reported.

RELATED: Chilean Organizations Support Palestine Hunger Strike

The ad in the Chilean newspaper, El Mercurio, came in response to another one published by Palestinian activists in the country, in both El Mercurio and El Observado newspaper, that denounced “50 years of occupation and apartheid in Palestine.”

The incident comes in the wake of a pushback against Palestine solidarity activists in Chile and their involvement in the Boycott, Divestments and Sanctions movement. After El Mercurio published a piece by academic Joaquin Garcia-Huidobro who criticized BDS, the Palestinian Federation of Chile published a response.

View image on Twitter

¿Lo viste? Ayer en Diario El Observador @eo_enlinea
¿Te gustaría que te borraran del mapa?

The advert by the Palestinian Federation of Chile. It reads “Would you like to be rubbed off the map?”

Dismissing Garcia-Huidobro as unable to understand the “experience of being helpless and at the mercy of Israeli arms,” the group defended the movement, saying, “When a people bleeds for several decades under military occupation, condemned in all international forums, but unpunished, and the institutions of the occupying country collaborate with the occupation, there is no other resource.”

In addition, a recent soccer match between Estadio Israelita Maccabi team and Club Palestino as part of an amateur league was transformed into an aggressive dispute between the two communities.

RELATED:  Chile Must Reciprocate Israel’s Travel Ban says Barred Activist

After Jewish members from Estadio Israelita Maccabi leveled accusations of anti-Semitism against the Palestinian players during the match, graffiti was found at the headquarters of Club Palestino, with slogans such as “Arab terrorists,” “Palestine doesn’t exist” and “Am Yisrael Chai” next to a Star of David.

In response, the Jewish community of Chile filed a legal complaint on Friday against the anti-Semitic slurs, while Club Palestino denounced the graffiti, slamming it as a “cowardly aggression.”

According to Radio ADN, the Jewish community also condemned the graffiti and expressed solidarity with the Palestinian community.

The publication of the pro-Israel lobby ads isn’t the first time Chile’s El Mercurio has sparked controversy. According to declassified CIA and White House documents, the conservative El Mercurio newspaper was critical in helping set the stage for the 1973 coup in Chile and ensuring the dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet assumed power.


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Migration, Social Inclusion and Evaluation of Sustainable Development Goals

  • United Nations offices
    United Nations offices

It has been nearly two years since the promulgation of Sustainable Development Goals, but a recently published report, SDG Index and Dashboard – Global Report, shows that there is still a large room available for improvement of quality of data, specifically in SDGs 10. SDG Index and Dashboard – Global Report, shows that the goal 10 was only shown through the lens of Gini Coefficient, an indicator of wealth inequality, which can only describe one target 10.1 of the said Goal. However there were 7 other targets, specifically, 10.2, which focuses more on social inclusion, left without mentioning.

RELATED: US Blockade is the Greatest Violation of Human Rights Against the Cuban People: Parlatino

On the other hand, such vagueness does not exist in other similar Goals; for example Goal 5, which advocate for women empowerment, have very clear and comprehensive targets such as ‘the targets of representation of women in parliament’, suggests a greater degree of tangibility towards goal. Such omission raises the eyebrows of development practitioners, evaluators, academia and other cynics, specifically, those who are close observer of tide of migration and changing demographics of society, regarding the aims for Sustainable Development Goals and raises questions about their credibility.

Since, globalization has caused an inundation of migrants in the developed world, which is yielding in a tangible demographic restructuring of nations’ basic compositions. For example, the Forbes 2012 describes Australia being a fourth most diverse country in terms of its labor market, where every fourth labor worker is migrant. Such a development induced another issue, the acceptance, and inclusion of these new ‘citizens’ in the society and the parameter of inclusiveness. Which consequently made it harder for authorities to formulate, uphold and monitor the track of greater inclusivity in the society. Although, it is a tricky path but in a recent research conducted at Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, which later published in international journal Tarbiya1, provides a lead to loosen up the knots to determine the degree of inequity and non-inclusiveness for Migrants. Hence provides a lead for improvement of indication, specifically for Goal 10.

The conducted research in Australian context finds that migrants are facing a greater degree of exclusion and specifically Muslims migrants are as much as six times worse off from being included in the society and living an equitable life, which is followed by Buddhism and Hinduism consecutively.

In the research paper, Muslim Employment in Commonwealth Government Departments and Agencies in the Context of Access and Equity, the phenomena of exclusion was examined in three spheres for minority religions’ inclusion. At national employment level, national government department’s level and managerial levels of national government employment.

The research reveals that in Australia Muslims population makes up 2.2 percent of total Australian population while facing 12.1 percent unemployment rate, double than the national unemployment and highest amongst religious groups of Australia. It was also noted that Muslims are facing this double deprivation in the national level of employment despite having 1.7 times higher education than the average qualification in the country. It was also revealed that 52.3 per cent Muslims were noted living below poverty line threshold, with income less than US$400 per week, which was highest amongst any minority religious group.

The excerpts of the research shown in the table below represented in multiple times of proportionate displacement of all major religious group in Australia from the average unemployment of 2011. It was quite obvious that follower of Islam were facing 2.2 times exclusion for their part of employment at national level followed by another minority religion Buddhism which stands at 1.5 times exclusion from their share of employment after that Not Defined religious groups, Atheism and Hinduism faces exclusion respectively, as shown in the table.

These figures of the exclusion of employment have also been drawn on the graph to have a quick artifact assessment of exclusion of various faith follower. And it can be comfortably viewed that Muslim, Buddhism, other religions (Not defined), Atheist and Hinduism spot well above the trend line while Christianity and Judaism being major religious group enjoys extra share in employment from the ratio of their proportionate share of society when it comes to the inclusion through employment.

In second step, the matter of inclusiveness of Muslims was examined within overall national government employment structure as being an icon of a supposedly collective owned entity. The results from the data of Australian Bureau of Statistics tells that only 5,462 Muslim employees were the part of the national government employment work force of 413,449 personnel shown in the table below from the 2011 census, which makes up only 1.3 percent of whole national employment of government. This representation remained 1.7 times less than their national proportionate presence. It is interesting to note that at this particular stage all other major religious faith follower’s representation is in accordance to their composition of the nation.

At the third level of inclusion’s investigation, the research was further drilled down at the managerial level of employment the situation found pretty consistent with the previous two rounds. Once again the ABS data utilised here in the following table; where it has been shown that there were only 336 Muslims managers which makes 0.6 per cent of total managerial level staff. Thus again two times centrifuged from their composition in national government employment. This tally clearly speaks that the Muslim managers are amongst the lowest in proportion from all religious faith follower mangers. From this tally it is also became understood that other minority religions; Buddhism, faces second highest exclusion by 1.8 times, followed by Hinduism which is 1.6 times and all other religions by 1.4 times excluded from being part of the participation of the society.

Now for the sake of calculating the totality of exclusion all three rounds’ results have been added, (national level, national government level and national government managerial level), the Grand Sum provides an indication of the total exclusion of minority religious group the society and tabulated as follow.

We can see from the table of all major religious classifications; the total exclusion for Muslim turned up nearly six times followed by the follower of Buddhism 2.3 times and Hinduism 1.6 times, remained out from their due share of participation and inclusion. While mainstream religious group almost maintains their proportionate share in the society for inclusion measured with the above stated framework.

Upon extending the above pattern of research to the ‘Minority Languages’, which complement the conditions of being Cultural Diverse groups of society; results reinforce the above claims of social exclusion of minority groups. For instances, Australia’s population who reportedly speaks English at home makes about 76.8 percent of the whole population, according to the report of Immigration Department, but the same group makes up of about 83.4 percent of national government employment quota which is 1.08 time higher than their national proportionate presence. When it comes to the managerial level posts this share even goes to more than 90 percent.

The data extracted from Australian Bureau of Statistics suggests that minority languages speaker like Mandarin, Vietnamese and Arabic can face up to nearly three times of exclusion from decision making roles for the society.

Despite the availability of such data sufficient for indication of target 10.2 of SDG 10; the avoidances of including such a self-explanatory targets, raises eyebrows over the integrity of these SDGs.

Apparently, there could be two possible reasons for making SDG 10’s indicator a complicated. First the methodology and availability of data. If that’s the issue then the above stated pilot research project can provide an answer and a lead to progress. The second reason could be associated with the developed countries’ concept of self-construed perfection and a deliberated attempt to develop indicators which could cover up their internal flaws. If that’s the case then by 2030, whatever indicators wold reflect; the monitors, evaluators and public on the ground still be questioning the ‘inclusiveness’, despite the results of SDG 10’s indicators would accolade them with medals of ‘ What a great inclusive region or country’?

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John Pilger Lauds Robert Parry’s Journalism at 2017 Martha Gellhorn Prize

  • Journalist Robert Parry
    Journalist Robert Parry | Photo:
Pilger made the following remarks in presenting the 15th Martha Gellhorn Prize to U.S. journalist Robert Parry at a dinner in London on June 27, 2017.

There are too many awards for journalism. Too many simply celebrate the status quo. The idea that journalists ought to challenge the status quo – what Orwell called Newspeak and Robert Parry calls ‘groupthink’ – is becoming increasingly rare.

OPINION: John Pilger: The Coming War on China

More than a generation ago, a space opened up for a journalism that dissented from the groupthink and flourished briefly and often tenuously in the press and broadcasting. Today, that space has almost closed in the so-called mainstream media. The best journalists have become – often against their will – dissidents.

The Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism recognizes these honorable exceptions. It is very different from other prizes. Let me quote in full why we give this award:

‘The Gellhorn Prize is in honor of one of the 20th century’s greatest reporters. It is awarded to a journalist whose work has penetrated the established version of events and told an unpalatable truth – a truth validated by powerful facts that expose what Martha Gellhorn called “official drivel”. She meant establishment propaganda.’

Martha was renowned as a war reporter. Her dispatches from Spain in the 1930s and D-Day in 1944 are classics. But she was more than that. As both a reporter and a committed humanitarian, she was a pioneer: one of the first in Vietnam to report what she called ‘a new kind of war against civilians’: a precursor to the wars of today.

She was the reason I was sent to Vietnam as a reporter. My editor had spread across his desk her articles that had run in the Guardian and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. A headline read, ‘Targeting the people.’ For that series, she was placed on a blacklist by the U.S. military and never allowed to return to South Vietnam.

She and I became good friends. Indeed, all my fellow judges of the Martha Gellhorn Prize  – Sandy and Shirlee Matthews, James Fox, Jeremy Harding – have that in common. We keep her memory.

She was indefatigable. She would call very early in the morning and open up the conversation with one of her favorite expressions – ‘I smell a rat’.

When, in 1990, President George Bush Senior invaded Panama on the pretext of nabbing his old CIA buddy General Noriega, the embedded media made almost no mention of civilian suffering.

My phone rang. ‘I smell a rat’, said a familiar voice.

Within 24 hours Martha was on a plane to Panama. She was then in her 80s. She went straight to the barrios of Panama City, and walked from door to door, interviewing ordinary people. That was the way she worked – in apartheid South Africa, in the favelas of Brazil, in the villages of Vietnam.

She estimated that the American bombing and invasion of Panama had killed at least 6,000 people.

She flew to Washington and stood up at a press conference at the Pentagon and asked a general: ‘Why did you kill so many people then lie about it?’

Imagine that question being asked today.  And that is what we are honoring this evening. Truth-telling, and the courage to find out, to ask the forbidden question.

Robert Parry is a very distinguished honorable exception.

I first heard of Bob Parry in the 1980s when he broke the Iran-Contra scandal as an Associated Press reporter. This was a story as important as Watergate. Some would say it was more important.

The administration of Ronald Reagan had secretly and illegally sold weapons to Iran in order to secretly and illegally bankroll a bloodthirsty group known as the Contras, which was then trying to crush Nicaragua’s Sandinista government — on behalf of the CIA. You could barely make it up.

Bob Parry’s career has been devoted to finding out, lifting rocks – and supporting others who do the same.

OPINION: Getting Julian Assange: The Untold Story

In the 1990s, he supported Gary Webb, who revealed that the Reagan administration had allowed the Contras to traffic cocaine in the U.S. For this, Webb was crucified by the so-called mainstream media and took his own life.

Lifting the big rocks can be as dangerous as a war zone.

In 1995, Parry founded his own news service, the Consortium for Independent Journalism. But, really, there was just him. Today, his website reflects the authority and dissidence that marks Parry’s career.

What he does is make sense of the news – why Saudi Arabia should be held accountable; why the invasion of Libya was a folly and a crime; why the New York Times is an apologist for great power; why Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have much in common; why Russia is not our enemy; why history is critical to understanding.

For his journalism, Robert Parry is the winner of the 2017 Martha Gellhorn Prize. He joins the likes of Robert Fisk, Iona Craig, Patrick Cockburn, Mohammed Omer, Dahr Jamail, Marie Colvin, Julian Assange, Gareth Porter and other honorable exceptions.

Posted in MediaComments Off on John Pilger Lauds Robert Parry’s Journalism at 2017 Martha Gellhorn Prize

German Chancellor Ready for G20 Climate Combat with Trump

  • French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte at the Chancellery in Berlin, Germany June 29, 2017
    French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte at the Chancellery in Berlin, Germany June 29, 2017 | Photo: Reuters
European nations put on a show of unity ahead of next week’s summit.

Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel is preparing for battle with the U.S. President Donald Trump at the G20 summit in Hamburg in a seven days time.

RELATED: US Out: Trump Announces Withdrawal from Paris Climate Deal

Speaking to the German parliament, Merkel said the European Union stands fully behind its commitment to the Paris Climate Change deal.

Trump withdrew the U.S. from the agreement at the start of June.

“We cannot expect easy discussions on climate change at the G20 summit,” Merkel said. “Our differences with the U.S. are clear.””

She added that “the Paris agreement is irreversible and it is not negotiable.”

The chancellor said that nations turning to isolation and protectionism are making a serious mistake and showcased a renewed “spirit of unity” in the EU after the U.K.’s decision to leave.

The French President Emmanuel Macron later reaffirmed his country’s commitment to the climate deal but struck a less combative note.

“It’s pointless to isolate one country,” Macron said.

While Trump needs to be told that Europe disagrees with his stance on climate change, “it’s always preferable to come up with joint statements,” Macron said.

On June 1, Trump announced that he was pulling out of the deal to protect the U.S. economy from an agreement that would cost American jobs.

He also said he’s open to renegotiating the deal on more favourable terms but it’s not clear what that means or if any other country will take him up on the offer.

In a separate development, Germany’s Constitutional Court has ruled that the city of Hamburg cannot completely ban a camp in a municipal park where more than 10,000 demonstrators are planning to gather during the G20 summit.

Camp-Team: “Polizei war in keinser Weise bereit, über die Infrastruktur des Camps zu verhandeln” 

Photo published for Hamburg: Protestcamp im Stadtpark weiter »unvertretbar«
Hamburg: Protestcamp im Stadtpark weiter »unvertretbar«

Nach einer Entscheidung aus Karlsruhe muss über die Protestcamps in Hamburg versammlungsrechtlich entschieden werden. Die Hamburger will die G20-Kritiker weiterhin nicht im Stadtpark zelten lassen.

It said the protest camp should be allowed to the greatest extent possible but must try to prevent lasting damage to the area and denting public finances.

The courts are continuing to review other protest activities planned during the meeting.

German police are bracing for massive rallies and demonstrations, with some 20,000 police officers being deployed.

Dozens of protest events, from water-based demonstrations to blockades of the summit venue, are planned.

The largest demonstration, “G20 Not Welcome Here” on July 8, is expected to attract tens of thousands of participants.

Merkel chose Hamburg, the city where she was born before her father moved the family to communist East Germany, as the location for the summit to send a message of openness to the world.


Posted in USA, GermanyComments Off on German Chancellor Ready for G20 Climate Combat with Trump

New US Visa Rules Come into Force Targeting 6 Muslim Countries

  • A Saudi family embrace as members arrive at Washington Dulles International Airport in Dulles, Virginia, U.S., on June 26, 2017.
    A Saudi family embrace as members arrive at Washington Dulles International Airport in Dulles, Virginia, U.S., on June 26, 2017. | Photo: Reuters
Civil liberties groups express concerns as measures are imposed.

Visa applicants from six Muslim-majority countries must have a close family or formal business ties to the United States to be admitted into the country.

RELATED: US Supreme Court Allows Revised Version of Trump ‘Muslim’ Travel Ban

The State Department issued the guidelines to all U.S. embassies and consulates late on Wednesday, after the Supreme Court on Monday partially restored President Donald Trump’s executive order that barred most U.S. travel by citizens of the six nations for 90 days.

The ban will take effect at 8 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time on Thursday and remain in place until the court issues a final ruling on the matter.

Visas that have already been approved will not be revoked, but new applicants from Syria, Sudan, Somalia, Libya, Iran and Yemen must prove a relationship with a parent, spouse, child, adult son or daughter, son-in-law, daughter-in-law or sibling already in the United States to be eligible.

The guidelines said close family “does not include grandparents, grandchildren, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, cousins, brothers-laws and sisters-in-law, fiancés, and any other ‘extended’ family members.”

The same requirement will also be applied to refugees from all nations that are still awaiting approval for admission to the U.S.

As for business or professional travellers, the State Department said a legitimate relationship must be “formal, documented and formed in the ordinary course rather than for the purpose of evading” the ban.

Journalists, students, workers or lecturers who have valid invitations or employment contracts in the U.S. would be exempt from the ban.

Similarly, those eligible for family or employment based immigrant visa applications are also exempted.

Shortly after taking office, Trump ordered a 90-day travel ban affecting the six countries, plus Iraq, and a 120-day ban on entry to the United States for all refugees, but lower courts in Maryland and Hawaii blocked the order.

On Monday, the Supreme Court partially lifted lower court injunctions to allow the measure to take effect when travellers from the six countries and refugees have no “bona fide relationship” with an entity or person in the United States.

It has granted a full review of the travel ban when it returns for the fall term in October.

The new guidelines have been designed to clarify the Supreme Court’s ruling.

The initial travel ban led to chaos at airports around the world.

Critics say they are watching closely to see how they fare this time.

Omar Jadwat, the director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s immigrants’ rights project, said the new guidelines troubled him, “Initial reports suggest that the government may try to unilaterally expand the scope of the ban – for example, by arbitrarily refusing to treat certain categories of familial relationships as ‘bona fide.’ …These reports are deeply concerning”.

Posted in USA, Saudi ArabiaComments Off on New US Visa Rules Come into Force Targeting 6 Muslim Countries

DPRK: ‘Too Late’ For United Korean Team at 2018 Winter Olympics

  • South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Chang Ung, North Korea
    South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Chang Ung, North Korea’s IOC member at the World Taekwondo Championships in Muju, South Korea June 24, 2017. | Photo: Reuters
“The Olympics should not be used for a political aim,” North Korea’s top Olympic official said.

A leading North Korean sports official believes it is too late to consider South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s proposal to form a unified team for the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, saying that political tension must be resolved first.

RELATED: On Korean War Anniversary, DPRK Urges South Korea to Dialogue

“It took us 22 rounds of talks to set up that joint (table tennis) team for the 1991 games. It took us five months,” North Korean International Olympic Committee (IOC) member Chang Ung, told the Dong-a Ilbo newspaper.

At the opening of the World Taekwondo Championships in Muju on Saturday, Moon said he wanted the Koreas to compete as one team next year and highlighted the 1991 World Table Tennis Championships as an example of a previous merger.

Chang, who is leading the North Korea delegation at the Taekwondo event in a city two hours south of Seoul, also ruled out the possibility of using venues in the North to co-host the Feb. 9-25 Winter Games and dismissed the notion that a unified team would help improve ties by saying: “The Olympics should not be used for a political aim.”

“As an expert of the Olympics, it is a little late to be talking about co-hosting. It’s easy to talk about co-hosting, but it is never easy to solve practical problems for that. It’s the same for forming a joint team for ice hockey,” Chang added.

Moon, who was a senior official in the liberal former South Korean government of Roh Moo-hyun in the 2000s, took office on May 10, winning an election on a more moderate approach to North Korea and a promise to engage Pyongyang in dialogue. He has also said that North Korea must be pressured in order them to abandon their nuclear program.

South Korea’s sports officials said they remained receptive to the idea of competing together, however.

“We are still open to possibilities about forming a joint team,” said Chun Byong-keuk, director general of Sports Corporation of the Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism.

South Korean Sports Minister Do Jong-hwan said last week that he would hold talks with the IOC about forming a joint female ice hockey team for the 2018 Olympics.

South Korea and its northern neighbor, officially called as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, or DPRK, where separated as states in the fallout of World War II, when the occupying U.S. forces pressured the Soviet Union to cede control below the 38th parallel. To prevent the peninsula from falling to leftist forces, the South was put under U.S. control and consolidated as a separate republic.

A brutal conflict to reunify the peninsula ensued and U.S.-backed forces have remained officially at war with the DPRK since an armistice was signed on July 27, 1953.

Posted in North Korea, South KoreaComments Off on DPRK: ‘Too Late’ For United Korean Team at 2018 Winter Olympics

UK Deals Blow to Murdoch’s Media Empire

  • Performers pose outside the Houses of Parliament, wearing puppet heads of media mogul Rupert Murdoch and UK Prime Minister Theresa May in London, UK June 29, 2017
    Performers pose outside the Houses of Parliament, wearing puppet heads of media mogul Rupert Murdoch and UK Prime Minister Theresa May in London, UK June 29, 2017 | Photo: Reuters

Fox bid for television group is said to risk giving the mogul too much power over the news.

The U.K. intends to subject Rupert Murdoch’s takeover of European pay-TV group Sky to a lengthy investigation after an assessment said it would give the company undue influence.

RELATED: UK Media Coverage of EU Referendum ‘Acrimonious and Divisive,’ Study Found

The Media Secretary Karen Bradley said she was persuaded to delay Twenty-First Century Fox’s bid after the media regulator Ofcom assessed its impact.

Bradley said the US$14.8 billion deal risks giving Murdoch too much power over the news.

“The proposed entity would have the third largest total reach of any news provider – lower only than the BBC and ITN – and would, uniquely, span news coverage on television, radio, in newspapers and online,” Bradley said.

Murdoch, 86, and his family have long coveted full control of Sky, despite the damaging failure of a previous attempt in 2011 when their U.K. newspaper business became embroiled in a phone-hacking scandal which forced them to abandon that bid.

A public inquiry into the affair revealed deep ties between Murdoch and the political establishment, making the renewed bid potentially toxic for Prime Minister Theresa May’s government which is fighting for survival after losing its majority.

RELATED: UK: May Pens Billion Dollar Deal to Secure Right-Wing Government Coalition

Bradley had asked regulators to examine whether Fox would have too much control of the media, and whether it would be committed to upholding broadcasting standards if it was allowed to buy the satellite company which broadcasts in Britain, Ireland, Germany, Austria and Italy.

Fox said it was disappointed by the government’s rejection of its plans to maintain editorial independence of Sky News, and said a full investigation could push the deal’s completion date back to next June.

“We will continue to work constructively with the UK authorities,” it said.

Bradley said the parties involved had until July 14 to respond to her concerns before she finally decided whether to go ahead with the full probe.


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Soft Coups Made in USA to Control Latin America

  • Attendees of the book release of  "Geopolitics and Regional Integration — Latin America in the World System."
    Attendees of the book release of “Geopolitics and Regional Integration — Latin America in the World System.” | Photo: Bolivian vice presidency
While the U.S. employs brute military force in the Muslim world to obtain foreign policy objectives, soft coups are reserved for Latin America.

Cesar Navarro, Bolivia’s minister of Mining and Metallurgy, emphasized Wednesday that the main objective of the United States is to implement soft coups in order to reestablish hegemony over Latin America during a speech launching a new book, according to Prensa Latina.

RELATED: Evo Morales Offers to ‘Free’ OAS’ Luis Almagro From ‘Empire’

The official was commenting on “Geopolitics and Regional Integration — Latin America in the World System,” a compilation which includes a variety of prominent Latin American intellectuals.

He noted that while the United States employs brute military force in parts of the Muslim world to obtain foreign policy objectives, soft coups are reserved for its southern neighbors or as top U.S. officials — including former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry — refer to the region as its “backyard.”

To support his claim, Navarro cited the removal of democratically-elected Manuel Zelaya in Honduras; Fernando Lugo in Paraguay; and Dilma Rousseff in Brazil, describing how the United States supported their ouster despite the fact that it goes against all claims of supporting democracy.

Prensa Latina reported that the mining minister stressed that the current strategy of the U.S. government is to destroy the Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela, a nation that has the largest oil reserves in the region.

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He also recalled that the United States is focused on commandeering 40 percent of the planet’s aquifers and other fresh water resources which are located in South America.

The United States has well over 700 military bases around the globe, with roughly 80 of the total number of bases located in Latin American countries.

“Geopolitics and Regional Integration” includes texts by such authors as Atilio Boron, Jose Gandarilla, Alfredo Jalife-Rahme, Monica Bruckmann and Ana Esther Ceceña. The book addresses issues related to varying forms of domination imposed in the Western Hemisphere, natural resource disputes, conflict risks, and other pressing issues of our time.

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Ecuador Lawmakers Reject Trump Immigration Policy, Express Solidarity with Migrants

  • “We express our solidarity with the Ecuadorean community; we reject practices that go against our compatriots’ rights and human dignity," said assembly member Marcela Holguin.
    “We express our solidarity with the Ecuadorean community; we reject practices that go against our compatriots’ rights and human dignity,” said assembly member Marcela Holguin. | Photo: AFP-Presidencia de la Republica del Ecuador
The new resolution aims to protect migrants from human rights abuses by ICE while assisting Ecuadoreans seeking legalization in the U.S.

Rejecting the anti-immigrant policies of U.S. President Donald Trump, Ecuador’s National Assembly overwhelmingly approved a resolution Tuesday in support of deported Ecuadoreans and their families, reiterating the Andean nation’s duty to stand up for the rights of undocumented migrants in the United States.

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The 14-section resolution, which passed with 127 concurring votes out of 137 seats in the assembly, blasted the policies of U.S. immigration authorities that violate the universally-recognized human rights of U.S. residents who are not citizens. Additionally, the resolution supports the Ecuadorean government’s measures to reduce the number of those deported while assisting in the legalization process faced by Ecuadorean nationals abroad.

The resolution also requests that President Lenin Moreno establishes bi-monthly Cabinet meetings for the purpose of dealing with the concerns of U.S. immigrant communities. It also asks that the South American nation’s Foreign Ministry evaluates the deportation processes applied by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and apply diplomatic mechanisms ensuring that those facing removal be treated humanely.

“We express our solidarity with the Ecuadorean community; we reject practices that go against our compatriots’ rights and human dignity but we also call on strengthening and promoting contingency actions to prevent and reduce deportation cases and provide assistance to our compatriots in and outside the country,” assembly member Marcela Holguin of the ruling Alianza PAIS told Andes Agency, adding that the resolution is in line with the concerns of the people of Ecuador.

She explained that the assembly understands its obligation to promote the government’s Contingency Plan to reduce deportees through the Ministry of Foreign Relations and Human Mobility, the Ecuadorean body for ensuring the rights of the country’s citizens abroad and foreign citizens residing in Ecuador.

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“Protecting our immigrants’ rights is our duty and responsibility,” said Holguin.

Assembly member Doris Soliz, also of Alianza PAIS and head of the International Relations Commission, noted that international organizations would be informed about any human rights violations.

Meanwhile, assembly members from the far-right CREO-SUMA party stressed the need to “express solidarity with immigrants (by working) on laws to promote entrepreneurship and creating jobs.

In 2016, 1,137 Ecuadorean nationals were deported from the United States, but assembly members credit the country’s officials with halting the increase in deportations, despite Trump’s tough-talking immigrant-scapegoating rhetoric.

Currently, flights from the U.S. to Ecuador carrying deportees arrive every 15 to 20 days. The flights are conducted by ICE Air Operations, a division of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s detention and removal apparatus. The vast majority of ICE Air flights are destined for Central America and Mexico, with a staggering 33,000 deported to Guatemala over the course of 317 flights in fiscal year 2016 alone.

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