Thursday, March 18, 2010

Clinton in Moscow for Mideast, nuclear arms talks

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Hillary Rodham Clinton AP – U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton walks following her arrival in Moscow's Vnukovo airport …
MOSCOW – U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Thursday opened two days of talks with Russian leaders on nuclear arms control and other security issues, and separately with top international diplomats on the outlook for bringing Israel and the Palestinians back to peace talks. Clinton arrived in the Russian capital after an overnight flight from Washington and was to be joined by the Obama administration's special envoy for Mideast peace, George Mitchell, to participate in talks with diplomats from Russia, the European Union and the United Nations. They were discussing the crisis in U.S.-Israeli relations and stalled efforts to restart Mideast peace negotiations. Clinton was meeting one-on-one with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, and the two were then dining with their U.N. and E.U. colleagues. Together they form the so-called Quartet of Mideast peacemakers; they are scheduled to hold formal talks on Friday. The Quartet meeting was intended to lend support for the start this week of indirect talks between the Israelis and Palestinians. But those talks fell apart before they began — a casualty of Israel's provocative approval of new housing in east Jerusalem. The diplomatic crisis erupted last Tuesday, when Israel announced during a visit by Vice President Joe Biden that it would build 1,600 apartments for Jews in disputed east Jerusalem, the sector of the holy city that the Palestinians claim for a future capital. Clinton called the announcement an insult and "a deeply negative signal" for the peace process; she even questioned Israel's commitment to its relationship with the U.S. Clinton's spokesman, P.J. Crowley, said she was awaiting a phone call from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for clarification on how the Israeli government intends to respond to a U.S. call for rescinding the east Jerusalem housing decision and to make a gesture of renewed commitment to engaging seriously with the Palestinians in peace talks. In an op-ed published Thursday in The New York Times, Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren reasserted his government's opposition to any restrictions on building in east Jerusalem. But he denied that U.S.-Israel relations were "at a historic low point" because of the dispute. "Because we share fundamental values — democracy, respect for individual rights and the rule of law — our friendship can sustain occasional disagreements, and remain unassailably solid," Oren wrote. Clinton's trip also was focusing on another high priority on the Obama administration's foreign policy agenda: nuclear arms control. The U.S. and Russia are said to be close to concluding a follow-up to the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, or START, which expired in December, but the final bargaining has been rocky. William Burns, the undersecretary of state for political affairs, told reporters traveling with Clinton that her visit to Moscow was an important opportunity to advance the arms talks, but does not necessarily mean an agreement is imminent. "We are getting closer," Burns said on the flight from Washington, but he added he could not estimate how much longer it would take to settle the remaining issues. He declined to identify the specific sticking points. The agreement is expected to reduce each side's long-range nuclear weapons by about one-quarter from levels set in a 2002 treaty that superseded the earlier START pact. The newer treaty did not include an extension of agreed measures to verify each side's compliance. The current negotiations include verification measures that would replace those in the 1991 deal, which expired last December.

Mosab Hassan Yousef, Hamas Spy, Tells Story In New Book 'Son Of Hamas' Despite Likely Threat Of Death

ADAM GOLDMAN | 03/ 4/10 06:38 AM | AP
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Mosab Hassan Yousef
NEW YORK � Mosab Hassan Yousef, who helped Israel's security forces kill and arrest members of the Islamic militant group Hamas, is probably marked for death.
He should be keeping silent. But he's got a story to tell, one he delivers in his new book published this week, "Son of Hamas."
"To be honest with you, being killed is not the worst thing that can happen," he said Wednesday in an interview with The Associated Press. "If they want to do kill me ... let them do it, and they will be responsible for my blood."
In his memoir, Yousef, the 32-year-old son of a Hamas founder, claims he was one of the Shin Bet security agency's best assets and was dubbed The Green Prince, a reference to his Hamas pedigree and the Islamists' signature green color.
During his 50-minute interview, for which he arrived with armed security, Yousef took shots at Hamas leaders including political chief Khaled Meshaal. He lashed out at Hamas, saying the organization lives in the Middle Ages.
And he hurled his most inflammatory comments at Islam, which he called a religion that teaches people to kill.
"It is not a religion of peace," said Yousef, who converted to Christianity. "The biggest terrorist is the God of the Quran. I know this is very dangerous and this will offend many people. The more you follow the steps of the prophet of Islam and the God of Islam, the more you get close to being a terrorist."
Yousef said he started working with the Shin Bet after he was arrested and witnessed Hamas brutalities inside prison. When he was released in 1997, he started meeting with the Shin Bet and gravitating toward Christianity.
Yousef thought he could do some good, preventing the deaths of Israelis and Palestinians.
Story continues below
"I got a chance to stop killing," he said.
In his book, Yousef clearly relished his importance to Shin Bet and even designed his own missions, one involving duping Meshaal, who lives in Damascus.
"I love this spy stuff, especially with Israeli intelligence paving the way," he wrote. "In this way, a new communications channel was established with Damascus, even though Meshaal had no idea that he was actually on a party line with the Shin Bet listening in."
Yousef said Hamas has no idea how Shin Bet operates and accused Hamas of killing innocent people suspected of collaborating with Israel.
The U.S. government considers Hamas a terrorist organization. Hamas says it provides schools and other social benefits to residents in the areas it controls.
Yousef declined to discuss certain aspects of his intelligence relationship with the Israeli security organization, saying he didn't want to hinder its operational capabilities and give Hamas a "free gift."
"They're facing a dirty, difficult war," he said, referring to the Shin Bet battles with Hamas. "I don't agree with everything that they do. But their job is very important."
His relationship with the Shin Bet lasted for more than a decade until he decided he'd had enough. He ended his lonely and dangerous existence as a spy in 2007.
Yousef said the Israelis allowed him to leave the region for a few months to take a break from his harrowing job and travel to America, where he stayed, working as a security guard at a grocery store.
When he told his story to his new friends in America, people didn't believe him. But folks seem to be believing him now. His father, a senior Hamas leader, disowned him Monday.
Sheik Hassan Yousef said in a letter that his family had renounced "the one who was once our eldest son, who is called Mosab."
The son "disbelieved in God" and "collaborated with our enemies," said the father, who's serving a six-year term in an Israeli prison.
Mosab Yousef said he didn't take it personally.
"I know his heart," Yousef said. "My dad is a loving person. He would never disown me. At some point we will be together again. I love my father, and he loves me."
Yousef blamed his father's decision on the Quran.
"The God of Quran is trying to unskin Muslims from their humanity," he said, later adding, "Muslims are good people. But their God is absolutely bad."
Yousef's claims have rocked Hamas and exposed its vulnerability. His book comes on the heels of the assassination of a top Hamas operative in Dubai in January. Yousef denounced this latest killing in which Israel has been blamed and said the timing of the book was just a coincidence, not some Israeli scheme to generate even more paranoia among the ranks of Hamas.
Israel has not commented on Yousef's claims or on widespread speculation that it carried out the Dubai assassination.
Asked about why people should believe his book, which was displayed at a Manhattan bookstore's Christian inspiration section, Yousef said: "I am not expecting everybody to believe this story. Some people will doubt it."
Yousef said Hamas had no idea how to govern and he hoped the violence between the Palestinians and the Israelis would end. He said he thinks his traitorous efforts will pay off.
"A change," he said, "will happen for the next generation."
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Video de la represion y golpiza a las damas de blanco

Watch this video for a taste of human rights in Cuba.

Our hearts break for Reina Luisa Tamayo. MSM are you paying attention? How many more Cuban mothers will have their hearts ripped out by these bastards while the international community kisses castro's ass?
Zapata Vive!

Lady in White Beaten, Arrested (UPDATED)

Here's how that big softy pragmatist raul castro treats a peaceful protester in Cuba, a woman participating in a peaceful march for the release of her imprisoned loved one:
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More from Breitbart via AFP:
Police detained about 30 people as they marched in Havana Wednesday in a protest led by the mother of a political prisoner who died in a hunger strike, an AFP journalist witnessed.
The so-called "Ladies in White" were heckled by hundreds of government supporters as they marched through Havana with the mother of Orlando Zapata, who died in a prison hunger strike February 23.
Police moved in and female officers forced the dissidents into two buses, which drove off to an unknown destination.
"We are protesting peacefully and we are not going to get on the bus of a government that has kept our family members in prison for seven years," said Laura Pollan, the leader of the group, just before being forced on.
As police were taking the women away, Margarita Rodr?ez, a housewife in a crowd of some 300 pro-government demonstrators, shouted: "Board them by force, it's what they deserve. This is a provocation."
The Ladies in White, a group of wives and mothers of political prisoners, had been staging marches every day this week to mark the anniversary of a 2003 crackdown that jailed 75 opposition activities, 53 of whom are still behind bars.
The women began the day Wednesday with prayers in a Catholic church before setting out, apparently intent on visiting dissident Orlando Fundora, who was jailed in the 2003 crackdown but later released for health reasons.
At the head of the march was Reyna Luisa Tamayo, Zapata's mother, who has charged that her son had been tortured in prison and that his death on the 85th day of a hunger strike amounted to "premeditated murder."
The incident sparked international outrage and new calls for Havana to free political prisoners.
The government says there are no political prisoners in this Caribbean nation of more than 11 million people, and claims there is no torture and that dissidents are paid pawns of the United States.
A day after Zapata's death, activist Guillero Fariñas, 48, began his own hunger strike to press for the release of 26 political prisoners in need of medical care.
Hospitalized a week ago in the central city of Santa Clara, he is being fed intravenously on doctors' orders.
Meanwhile, a virulent campaign launched by state media to counter what it says is a "defamatory" campaign against Cuba in Europe intensified last week after the European Parliament passed a resolution deploring Zapata's avoidable death.
Every day, the Cuban media has denounced the mistreatment of immigrants or "police brutality" in countries like Spain, France and Germany.
They accuse Europe of pursuing a "neo-colonial" and "subversive" policy together with the United States to "destabilize" a revolution already struggling with a serious economic crisis.
"After the Americans, it is now our turn to experience a degradation in our relations with the government" of Raul Castro, said a European diplomat, who said he was unsure what would happen at a meeting of the European "troika" with Cuba in Madrid April 6.
In Madrid, Oscar-winning Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodovar has signed a petition calling for the immediate release of all political prisoners in Cuba, his production company said on Tuesday.
Several personalities, including Spanish-Peruvian writer Mario Vargas Llosa, are among some 5,000 people who have already signed it.
The petition calls for "the immediate and unconditional release of all political prisoners in Cuban jails and the respect of the exercise, promotion and the defence of human rights throughout the world."
But if Zapata's death has upset Havana's traditional relations with the European left, Cuba still enjoys broad support in Latin America where elected governments in Brazil, Uruguay and Bolivia have come to its defense.
"Imagine what would happen if all the bandits detained in Sao Paulo went on hunger strike and demanded their freedom," said Brazil's President Luis Inacio Lula da Silva, a friend of the Castro brothers, refusing to intercede on behalf of some 200 Cuban political prisoners.
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S:babalú


A symbol of the slave trade joins US and Cuba

FILE - In this Dec. 9, 2007, file photo, the Freedom Schooner 
Amistad, a near-replica of the ship that sparked a 19th century slave 
revolt, flies Sier AP – FILE - In this Dec. 9, 2007, file photo, the Freedom Schooner Amistad, a near-replica of the ship that …
WASHINGTON – Days from now, a stately black schooner will sail through a narrow channel into Havana's protected harbor, its two masts bearing the rarest of sights — the U.S. Stars and Stripes, with the Cuban flag fluttering nearby. The ship is the Amistad, a U.S.-flagged vessel headed for largely forbidden Cuban waters as a symbol of both a dark 19th century past and modern public diplomacy. The Amistad is the 10-year-old official tall ship of the state of Connecticut and a replica of the Cuban coastal trader that sailed from Havana in 1839 with a cargo of African captives, only to become an emblem of the abolitionist movement. Its 10-day, two-city tour of Cuba provides a counterpoint to new and lingering tensions between Washington and Havana and stands out as a high-profile exception to the 47-year-old U.S. embargo of the Caribbean island. For the Amistad, it also represents a final link as it retraces the old Atlantic slave trade triangle, making port calls that are not only reminders of the stain of slavery but also celebrations of the shared cultural legacies of an otherwise sorry past. When it drops anchor in Havana's harbor on March 25, the Amistad will not only observe its 10th anniversary, it will commemorate the day in 1807 when the British Parliament first outlawed the slave trade. The powerful image of a vessel displaying home and host flags docking in Cuba is not lost on Gregory Belanger, the CEO and president of Amistad America Inc., the nonprofit organization that owns and operates the ship. "We're completely aware of all of the issues currently surrounding the U.S. and Cuba," he said. "But we approach this from the point of view that we have this unique history that both societies are connected by. It gives us an opportunity to transcend contemporary issues." It's not lost on Rep. William Delahunt, either. The Massachusetts Democrat has long worked to ease U.S.-Cuba relations and he reached out to the State Department to make officials aware of the Amistad's proposal. U.S.-flagged ships have docked in Havana before, but none as prominently as the Amistad. The Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control has periodically approved Cuba stops for semester-at-sea educational programs for American students, and the Commerce Department has authorized U.S. shiploads of exports under agriculture and medical exemptions provided in the Trade Sanctions Reform Act of 2000. "Obviously we have serious differences, disagreements," Delahunt said. "But in this particular case the two governments, while not working together, clearly were aware of the profound significance of this particular commemoration." The original Amistad's story, the subject of a 1997 Steven Spielberg movie, began after it set sail from Havana in 1839. Its African captives rebelled, taking over the ship and sending it on a zigzag course up the U.S. coast until it was finally seized off the coast of Long Island. The captured Africans became an international cause for abolitionists; their fate was finally decided in 1841 when John Quincy Adams argued their case before the Supreme Court, which granted them their freedom. Miguel Barnet, a leading Cuban ethnographer and writer who has studied the African diaspora, said it is only appropriate that the new Amistad would call on the place of the original ship's birth. Indeed, he said in an interview from Cuba on Wednesday, it is the horror of the slave trade that left behind a rich common bond — not just between the United States and Cuba, but with the rest of the Caribbean — that is rooted in Africa. "That's why this is an homage to these men and women who left something precious for our culture," he said. The new Amistad has crossed the Atlantic and wended its way through the Caribbean since 2007. It has worked with the United Nations and UNESCO's Slave Route Project. Using high technology hidden in its wooden frame and rigging, the ship's crew of sailors and students has simulcasted to schools and even to the U.N. General Assembly. It will do so again — with Cuban students — from Havana.