February 09, 2007

Chinese Resisting Starbucks

A web blog post by Rui Chenggang, an English news anchor with China’s CCTV-9, titled “Why Starbucks Needs to Get Out of the Forbidden City?”, has stirred heated debates among Chinese netizens and been picked up by China’s local and national media. According to the Beijing News , Rui believes that having a Starbucks within the Forbidden City makes a mockery of Chinese traditional culture because an icon of a foreign mass-consumption fast food culture is discordant with a sacred symbol of Chinese civilization. Covering over 7 million square feet and housing 1.5 million relics, treasures and artifacts spanning five thousand years of Chinese history, the nearly 600-year-old former Chinese imperial palace (now known as the Palace Museum) is China’s most comprehensive historical museum. It was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987. The Starbucks outlet is located close to the Hall of Military Eminence, where imperial military officials gathered as the Emperor held court. Perhaps that’s what makes it the company’s only store that is un-mappable. The same newspaper article quotes Rui publicly confronting Jim Donald, Starbucks Chairman and CEO, at the 2006 Yale CEO Leadership Summit. “I wonder if you have plans to open stores in Taj Mahal, Versailles or Buckingham Palace,” Rui said. “But, first, please remove your outlet from the Forbidden City.”

Donald responded to Rui’s letters of protest, writing that Starbucks has shown “great sensitivity to, and respect for the heritage of the Forbidden City since it was invited to open a store there by museum officials six years ago.” Eden Woon, Starbuck’s Vice President for Greater China, tells the Beijing News, “As our contract with the museum has not expired, we have no plan to move out. Rui Chenggang’s proposal is only his personal opinion.”

Museum officials, though defensive, have taken note of the controversy. They tell the Beijing Morning Post that negotiations are underway between the museum and Starbucks, and expect the dispute to be resolved within the first half of this year. Amid the strong support of Rui’s stand on preserving national cultural integrity in the age of global integration, increasing questions are being raised about the management of China’s increasingly market-driven cultural institutions.

An article from China Daily reports that pressed by local dignitaries in 2003, a KFC outlet bid farewell to Beihai Park, an imperial garden in Beijing, after the expiration of a ten-year contract. Rui told the Beijing News that he hopes Starbucks will do the same. If Starbucks voluntarily moves out of the Forbidden City, he wrote in his blog, it will gain the heart-felt respect of the Chinese people who deeply love their traditional culture. He also notes that his personal protest is not a one-off occurrence. He believes that at present the West frequently misreads China, mostly due to the silence of the Chinese people. He says that he voices his opinion this time in order to help eliminate those misunderstandings, and will continue to do so in the future.

See related photo slideshow for this story.

Posted Feb 9 2007 at 04:40 PM
Categories: China , Values&Identities
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April 05, 2006

People Daily: we should be aware of Americans' victim-like psychology

The way Chinese people view Americans has been continuously changing and reached a stage that they feel Americans are lagging behind in a game with rules set by the Americans, People Daily run a comment today, before Chinese President Hu's visit to U.S. later this month.

People Daily is the mouthpiece of Chinese Communist Party and regarded as one of the most authorized media in China expressing the government's policy and point of view.

The piece is written by an economic researcher in the U.S. Research branch of Chinese Academy of Social Science. Wang, the writer, raised three reasons for Americans' victim-like psychology to explain the current tight Sino-US relationship and suggested a "new" thinking for China to deal with U.S. in trade issues as preparing for a long time friendly relationship.

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Posted Apr 5 2006 at 09:50 PM
Categories: China
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February 26, 2006

Sharing responsibilities for Abu Ghraib

It was only some hours since the latest video about tortures in the prison of Abu Ghraib was shown on channel Rainews24, at 7 a.m Feb 22, when the Italian government denied any involvement. The video by Sigfrido Ranucci (author also of the reportage on the use of napalm during the Falluja siege) contains an interview with the sadly famous ‘hooded’ detainee of the Iraqui prison, whose picture has appeared all over the world. The former detainee, Ali Shalal al Kaisi, states that some Italian contractors did play a role in the tortures of Abu Ghraib, by taking part in aggressive interrogations of prisoners and committing abuse together with some American soldiers.

“The Italian government doesn’t know anything about the presence of Italian citizens at Abu Ghraib – they point out from Rome – In any case we absolutely exclude that these people are soldiers or public officers”.

Several national newspapers such as La Repubblica, Il Corriere della Sera and La Stampa gave the news about the video one day in advance on their web sites. The left leaning paper L’Unità wrote on that day that “Italian mercenaries, too, tortured prisoners in Iraq”, then adding that “these people get paid a huge amount of dollars to kill and wage war under the flag of the United States of America”. The article also described the government’s attitude as “an attempt to avoid responsibilities, not a real denial“.

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Posted Feb 26 2006 at 09:54 AM
Categories: Terrorism
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February 24, 2006

China: awareness of IPR for competition with India

In a recent interview by a Chinese newspaper Economic Oberver, James Gradoville, the vice chairman of The American Chamber of Commerce in PRC, talked about the Intellectual Property Right in China, which he said has brought damages to many memebers of the Chamber. James said Chinese government should play an active role to resolve this problem.

Not long after that, on Feb. 23, China Vice Premier Wu Yi "vowed to intensify her fight against illegally copied goods -- not to fend off complaints from Washington but to spur her own country's ambitions to become a technological power," according to a report by Reuters.

Reuters also said a report issued this month by the United States Trade Representative Rob Portman that promised concerted action."IPR protection is one of China's greatest shortcomings," said the report. "The volume of counterfeit goods from China seized at the U.S. border continues to rise."

This IPR issue, among many others related to China's crippled legal system, has become a critical issue for American companies doing business in China, esp. at a time when India boasts its more completed and westernized legal framework to attract FDI (Foreign Direct Investment).

According to a Financial Times report on Feb. 22, India could achieve sustained economic growth rates of up to 10 per cent – at which it would keep step with China – if the government quickened the pace of reform, as predicted by the International Monetary Fund in Feb.21 released a report.

Posted Feb 24 2006 at 08:03 PM
Categories: China
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January 31, 2006

"Gangsters and silence"

So sounds the title of the article by the Italian journalist Giulietto Chiesa which deals with the scandal of CIA flights in Europe and the inquiry the Swiss parliamentarian Dick Marty has been conducting since November 2005 and reported before the Council of Europe last week. In the inquiry Marty accused the United States of “gangster tactics” and the European governments of turning a blind eye to “CIA’s illegal anti-terror activities in Europe”. (see the text of the speech)

Italy is involved in the first place as an investigation is underway in Milan into the disappearance of an Egyptian cleric allegedly abducted by CIA agents. Other 11 cases are reported to have taken place and the Italian secret service is suspected of having known it. In the article on the left-leaning il manifesto the journalist argues that “the European intelligence agencies must have been aware of what was happening in their territories with the ‘extraordinary renditions’. Now we’ll see how they’ll cover it up and tamper with the evidence”. Chiesa goes on by adding that this is the way Europe is acting now: “slavish governments willing to support the international war on terror and, consequently, the violations of fundamental human rights”. George Bush is depicted as "an emperor ready to breach any international regulations and, together with Dick Cheney, to trample on the American laws and Constitution". But, the journalist concludes, “Europe is guilty of letting the American gangsters damage democracy and Western values as a whole”.

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Posted Jan 31 2006 at 09:26 AM
Categories: Foreign Policy
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January 25, 2006

Two Views of One Phonecall

Monday's recent election, in which Steven Harper's Conservative Party ended the 13-year rule of the Liberals, continues to dominate headlines in Canada. The two major national papers - the right-leaning, Calgary-based National Post and the center-left Globe and Mail of Toronto - offer telling differences in their coverage of the election's aftermath.

The Globe and Mail leads with a cover story on a 20-minute phone call between George W. Bush and the Prime Minister-designate. No details of the conversation are availible, but the paper runs a photograph of a smirking Bush talking into the phone, obviously pleased with what he's hearing. This picture dominates the front page and, given the unpopularity of Bush in Canada, can't but be interpreted as a provocative gesture. In some ways, this is an oblique reference to the Liberal campaign's strategy of trying to link Bush and Harper, with the suggestion that a Conservative victory will serve to bolster the un-Canadian Bush, and may lower resistance to such unpopular, US-backed initiatives as national missile defense, the war in Iraq and domestic surveillance.

How does the right respond? What is the National Post's take on the phone conversation between the two leaders? We don't know - the Post runs an inoccuous wire version of the story, without picture, stuffed in the back pages of its print edition.

Posted Jan 25 2006 at 11:46 PM
Categories: Americas , Politics
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January 19, 2006

La Paz Effect in Pakistan

The ripple effect of Evo Morales’s stunning presidential win in Bolivia is being felt – and closely watched – as far away as Pakistan, as shown by a recent op-ed in The News, one of Pakistan’s leading English dailies.

The recent sweep of left leaning presidents in Latin America (referring to the election of anti-neo liberal candidates in Brazil, Argentina, Ecuador, Uruguay, Venezuela and Chile, as well as Bolivia, over the past year) is instructive for Pakistan, writes Farooq Sulehria: “Latin America was the first continent turned into a laboratory for neo-liberal experiments. Ironically, it also is the first to stand up in rebellion.” While Pakistani President Musharraf is “busy implementing…come what will” the free trade and privatization directives of the World Bank and IMF, Sulehria argues that there are lessons to be learned for Pakistan about the rising of Latin resistance to this model:

“By opening up economies to ‘market forces’, Latin American countries were promised significant poverty reduction. In fact, what happened was a significant increase in the hold exercised over Latin American economies by multinationals, especially US corporations. Between 1990, and 2002, multinational corporations acquired 4,000 banking, telecommunications, transport, petrol and mining interests in Latin America.”

Sulehria closes with this warning:

“For the last two decades, Washington has forced neoliberalism (read poverty) down third world throats in order to make the world better for US business. To many the US economic empire, spreading at gunpoint, seemed unassailable. But now, unable to defeat rag-tag Iraqi militias and rapidly losing allies in Latin America, the empire stands exposed to others on the globe. Others, including Pakistan, are watching and learning.”

DAVID MONTERO reports from Islamabad, Pakistan for the Christian Science Monitor.

Posted Jan 19 2006 at 10:55 PM
Categories: Americas , Politics , South East Asia , United States
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January 16, 2006

MLK's legacy undone?

The Guardian marks the 20th celebration of Martin Luther King Day with an examination of what many consider to be one of his most lasting legacies, the racial integration of American schools. Despite the widely-held belief among Americans (78% of whites and 66% of Blacks) that progress is being made towards greater integration, the article references a new Harvard study that indicates there has been a steady increase in school segregation over the last 15 years.

[T]he percentage of black students attending schools where most students are non-white increased across the US from 66% in 1991 to 73% in the 2003-2004 school year, according to the report by Harvard's Civil Rights Project and released at the weekend. In the south, where the desegregation effort was concentrated, the number of black students in schools where most students are non-white rose from 61% to 71% over a 12-year period. More than three-quarters of intensely segregated schools serve children from poor families, the report said.

School desegregation is one of the signal achievements of the 1960's Civil Rights movement, both within the US and throughout the world. That there could be increasing segregation, even a return to late-60's levels, strikes at one of the great symbols of America's commitment to racial equality and domestic reform.

Posted Jan 16 2006 at 10:17 PM
Categories: United States , Values&Identities
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A strategic view from Peshawar

It is generally difficult for those without Arabic, Urdu or Pashtoo language skills to guage public opinion the swath of the greater Middle East that represents the heartland of political Islam. But for those English-speakers curious about the Islamist worldview, and especially that of Al Qaeda and its Afghan and Pakistani sympathizers, there is hope in the form of Pakistan's Peshawar-based Frontier Post. Like any newspaper, it reflects the attitudes and values of its readers, who happen to also represent the regional constituency most sympathetic to Al Qaeda and the former Taliban rulers of Afghanistan.

The Frontier Post has recently run an editorial about US involvement in the region, titled "How the US views India and Pakistan?" The question mark seems to be a pure formality, since the author, Mohammad Jamil, prefers the declarative mode, and hammers in his points with authority. He sees the US manipulating India against Pakistan, in effect betraying Pakistan, loyal ally in the Cold War struggle in Afghanistan and in the War on Terror. Indeed, far from commited enmity, the piece strikes a tone of hurt betrayal.

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Posted Jan 16 2006 at 04:25 PM
Categories: Middle East , Terrorism , United States
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American rocket strike in Pakistan draws fire

On Friday, January 13th an unmanned Predator drone fired a number of Hellfire rockets into a house in Damadola village, in the Bajaur region near the Afghan border. The target was Ayman al-Zawahiri, the second-in-command of Al Qaeda and, since Osama bin Laden ceased issuing statements last year, the public face of the extremist movement. The CIA was working off of intelligence indicating that Zawahiri would be having dinner at the house. This information proved inaccurate, and no major Al Qaeda figure has been identified among the 18 dead, which include women and children, although some reports suggest that up to 11 may have been lower-ranking Islamic militants.

Pakistan has reacted with shock and anger. In the border provinces, protests sprung up the day after the attack, spreading to major Pakistani cities - Karachi, Islamabad, Lahore and Peshawar - by Monday. In the Western press, the Guardian has published a fairly comprehensive overview of the attacks and the reaction. The largest crowds assembled in Karachi, where 10,000 people marched shouting slogans against the US and Pakistani leader Pervez Musharraf. DAWN, a Pakistani newspaper, gives approximate turnout at protests across the country.

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Posted Jan 16 2006 at 03:58 PM
Categories: Middle East , Terrorism , United States
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January 14, 2006

La Paz Effect: Latin Tremors

The ripple effects of Evo Morales’ election as President of Bolivia are continuing to be felt throughout Latin America—most poignantly in the ongoing dissection of the economic reform model known as the ‘Washington consensus’ that was one of Morales’ favorite targets.

Bolivia was supposed to be a laboratory for the ‘consensus’ economic reform model of tight social spending and export-oriented growth. But it was those who perceived themselves as 'disenfranchised' from those policies--millions of small farmers, urban poor and the country’s large indigenous population--who put Morales into the presidential palace in La Paz, and toppled whatever remaining legitimacy for the ‘consensus’ remained within the continent. Shortly after Morales’ election, Argentine president Nestor Kirchner announced that he would pay off the country’s outstanding $9.8 billion debt to the International Monetary Fund, thus unhinging the country from IMF/World Bank constraints; a left candidate for the Peruvian presidency, Ollanta Humalla, surged into second place in the polls; and the Zapatistas, in Mexico over new years, launched “the other campaign” in parallel to that country’s presidential race to highlight issues of indigenous rights--an effort widely perceived as having received a considerable boost from the election results in Bolivia. By January 14, the Colombian newspaper El Tiempo featured a debate between John Williamson, the U.S. economist, affiliated with the Institute for International Economics in Washington, DC, considered to be one of the primary architects of what’s become known as the Washington Consensus; and José Luis Machinea, Secretary General of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean at the United Nations, over what, if anything, remains of the “Consensus’.

The changes in Latin America—long in the works, but also intensified by Morales’ election—are not merely ones of rhetoric. Even John Williamson admitted that the World Bank made mistakes in not paying enough attention to the ‘social factors” involved in economic reform. The “Washington consensus,” a complex set of policies so tied to the United States that they bear the name of our nation’s capital, is unraveling just as quickly as a new term is being introduced to suggest a somewhat more welcome economic power in Latin Power: “Chindia,” the combined economic might of India and China. The turn of many Latin countries east—toward Asia as well as toward the European Union—has gone largely un-reported in the United States. But, El Tiempo suggests, such new trading partners offer not only growing and increasingly affluent markets, but none of the political baggage associated with the long history of U.S. intervention in the region:
“Since the end of the communist system in the USSR, the United States has been dreaming of a world dominated by one superpower: the U.S. That is not coming to pass.
The rapid transformation of China into an economic power, with India following in its footprints, signifies that the U.S. better prepare for a different future, one in which it will have to understand how to share power among others like never before. It’s a change that will not be easy.”

Posted Jan 14 2006 at 06:32 PM
Categories: Americas , Economy , International Institutions & Networks , United States
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January 03, 2006


The leftist newspaper Il manifesto denounces that some Italian soldiers in Bosnia arrested a Muslim student, Nihad Karsic, suspected of terrorism and then handed him over to the Americans who kept him for one week in a Cia secret prison and tortured him.
The author of the article, Andrea Rossini, cites the magazine of Sarajevo Dani as the source of the information. On the 16th of December the Bosnian paper ran an article with the story of Karsic, dating back to December 2001. Only after the scandal of Us “black sites” broke out on the international media, did the student understand that he had been kept in a secret prison and decide to speak.

Karsic was working for an Islamic humanitarian organization when the Italian army force “Carabinieri”, arrested him allegedly for his links with terrorist groups. They questioned him without getting any information, so they handed him over to the Americans. He spent one week in a place he later realized was the base “Eagle” in Tuzla. He was kept in a cell, continuously questioned, forbidden to sleep and beaten. On the seventh day of his detention they freed him asserting “they had made a mistake”, gave him 500 dollars and made him sign a document where he promised not to say a word about what had happened.


Posted Jan 3 2006 at 11:15 AM
Categories: Terrorism
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December 23, 2005

Common Threads - 2005: End of the Enlightenment Consensus

2005 has been a big year for news. Apart from the ongoing misery of the Iraq occupation and the broader War on Terror, big events took place. The Pope died. New Orleans was destroyed. Angelina Jolie stole Brad Pitt from Jennifer Anniston.

Big events like this stand out in the collective memory, but will these be the things for which 2005 will be remembered? Often history is driven less by discrete events, no matter how momentous, and more by processes, often of obscure origins, that tip the world between one period and another. This year one such process has matured, and may have crossed the point of no return. I'm speaking of the breakdown of the Western alliance and, on an even more fundamental level, the idea of the West itself.

During the Cold War, the Western institutions - NATO, certainly, but also the EU - represented not just a security alliance, but also a community of nations sharing a common set of values. These values were based on an Enlightenment consensus around rationalism, individualism and democracy. Although sometimes human rights and democracy could be compromised for tactical reasons, there was no question that the ultimate goal was the universal realization of these values. To this end the United States led in the formation of the UN, the Europeans enshrined rights and freedoms in EU accords, and Jimmy Carter pioneered human rights as an international relations issue. These shared, trans-Atlantic values were real, and gave the Western model its appeal against a utopian Marxism. But the battering of the transatlanticism and the recent behavior of the US administration is calling into question the strength, even the existence, of these shared values.

Continue reading "Common Threads - 2005: End of the Enlightenment Consensus"

Posted Dec 23 2005 at 02:01 AM
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December 18, 2005

Common Threads: Of Torture and Security

One of the goals of this blog has been to discuss the changing role of security, and the torture debate is not inseparable here or when otherwise analyzing global perceptions of the United States.

Stateside, the debate about the Bush Administration's war on terrorism seems to have hit an upsurge with reports from the New York Times that the President allowed the National Security Agency to spy on its citizens. This is, of course, coupled with the news that certain sunset provisions ofthe Patriot Act will probably not be renewed. And though his recent series of speeches on the Iraq War have attempted to redraw connections between a concerted military action and disperse terrorist ones, this effort does not appear to be as trenchant as it once was.

Of course, the international coverage of these stories has yet to coalesce, perhaps because their implications are domestic. It appears that said news media has been captivated far more by the question of the CIA black sites. This is fitting considering how many countries were potentially involved, as noted in Francis Pisani's post.

When Sec. of State Condoleeza Rice made her trip to Europe over a week ago, one can assume responses to black site revelations were not at the top of her agenda. Nevertheless, she was met by an avalanche of criticism after every stop she made; from Berlin to Bucharest to Kiev, and everywhere in between. Much of it focused on the method of extraordinary rendition, which was a catchphrase difficult to explain in legalese, let alone in any extant language. In the end, as Nagomi Onda observes in her post on an Asahi article, both the U.S. and European countries had much face-saving to accomplish given their professed regard for "humanitarianism."

Continue reading "Common Threads: Of Torture and Security"

Posted Dec 18 2005 at 03:16 AM
Categories: Common Threads
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December 13, 2005


Condoleeza Rice spoke her truth: if Europeans want to wage a war on terror they have to rely on the intelligence and accept all the consequences. The Italian weekly magazine Panorama runs an article by Giuliano Ferrara - a leading right-wing journalist – who supports Rice’s view in connection with the scandal of Us “black sites” and the “extraordinary renditions”.
The journalist accuses the Italian media of being naive (“angelic”, he says ironically) if they believe the war on terror can be fought with soft measures. Intelligence operations are secret or are not at all, he states. At the beginning of the war in Iraq, pacifists called for less violence and more intelligence without realising what intelligence really is.
The journalist belongs to the group of intellectuals close to the prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, who has always been in favour of Bush’s foreign policy and, by the way, is the owner of the publishing house of the magazine.

Posted Dec 13 2005 at 07:28 AM
Categories: Terrorism
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December 10, 2005

The Age offers: Who's the real villain?

A rare positive treatment of the US torture debate is given in The Age, one of Australia's largest dailies.

Employing a different tactic than most right-wing American opinions on the issue, namely that the CIA should be the only entity at fault given its damaging leaks, writer Tony Parkinson draws parallels between the Saddam Hussein regime and his subsequent treatment under the rule of law, and the excoriation of the American prosecution of the war on terror abroad.

An interesting point in this editorial is made about the use of extraordinary renditions, which as mentioned in previous posts is something of a befuddlement to the European legal establishment. (Eric Umansky in Slate notes that this confusion is felt on the part of the leading U.S. media as well, including the leading gray ladies.) Parkinson's defense of the practice relates to the notion that the U.S. has been exercising rendition since 1984, so why should it stop at the beck of the European community?

He also mentions China and the global media's relatively lax coverage of the UN's report on Chinese torture, though this hasn't been taken up by the Administration for the apparent reason that the Chinese state is not an obvious source for emulation in the area of human rights.

He ends by noting:

it sometimes seems the intelligentsia of the Western world care only for those Iraqis killed, maimed or imprisoned by US or British forces. To those victims of Saddam Hussein's reign of terror, this must seem a very selective morality.

Posted Dec 10 2005 at 12:44 AM
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December 08, 2005

What secret prisons? Poland finally takes a look

It has been over a month since the Washington Post broke the story of the world-wide network of CIA "black sites," or secret prisons. Two such prisons were said to be located in two Eastern European countries. It has been almost a month since Human Rights Watch identified the two countries as Poland and Romania. It is only now, prompted by the ABC website's possibly accidental posting of a list of Al-Qaeda prisoners with the location of their detention identified as Poland, that Polish newspapers are beginning to act on the story. Both Gazeta Wybrocza and Rzeczpospolita, the two Polish papers with pretensions of national significance, are now running major stories about the prison scandals.

One of the most remarkable things about the two pieces is how heavily they rely on American media sources. Both of them use the original Washington Post story as their base, and beef it up by citing pieces from ABC news, the New Yorker and the Associated Press. From these sources, the Polish papers present the now-familiar facts of the case: that the CIA had run a secret prison in Poland since 2002, housed in the Stare Keijkuty Polish secret service base; that suspects were flow into the country on CIA-run Boeing planes at Szymany airport, 20km away; and that these prisoners included senior members of the Al-Qaeda leadership, including Khalid Sheik Muhammad. It has also been alleged that "harsh interrogation" - torture - of these suspects occurred while they were in Poland.

Continue reading "What secret prisons? Poland finally takes a look"

Posted Dec 8 2005 at 02:57 AM
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US-Poland Security Meeting

Gazeta Wyborcza reports on a meeting between US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsefeld and his Polish counterpart, Radek Sikorski. Poland has a substantial contingent in Iraq - 1,700 men - and has apparently agreed to say on for the medium term, albeit with some reductions and a shift from security operations to training. Sikorski insisted that this was a measure to enhance Poland's security, and not a dig for increases in US aid. Having said that, he then noted that he and Rumsfeld also discussed Poland's expecations of the US, which apparently include help in procuring advanced weapon's technology, communications equipment and smart bombs. Also a Polish priority is American cooperation in the development of the joint Polish-Ukrainian batallion, with the goal of upgrading it to a Polish-Ukrainian-American brigade. This may seem like a distant triviality to American observers, but the Polish goal is actually quite audacious - such a unit would help anchor Ukraine in the Western alliance, and bring US influence right up to the western borders of Russia.

Posted Dec 8 2005 at 02:46 AM
Categories: Europe , Foreign Policy , United States
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December 06, 2005

The challenges of Condoleeza Rice in Europe

The discussion about the CIA flights and secret prisons is growing as U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is beginning an official visit in Europe. Recent allegations about the use of German airports to transport suspected terrorists will particularly hamper her first step in Berlin.
After the designation of Angela Merkel as German Chancellor, this visit was a good opportunity to “repair the damaging rift between the countries over Iraq,” remarks the British newspaper, The Guardian.
But the trip has been overshadowed by the growing dispute about the CIA's use of rendition,” the transport of suspects to countries where US laws do not apply. “The controversy comes at the worst possible time for Ms. Merkel, who was looking forward to a swift transatlantic rapprochement. Ms. Merkel is seen as an economic liberal, an Atlanticist and an honest broker in the mould of Helmut Kohl, her mentor,” adds the Financial Times. It is then no surprise if the German government is attempting to downplay the issue. But it will be difficult for Ms. Merkel to ignore German public opinion, which has been even more shocked with the first kidnapping of a German national in Iraq last week, reminds the FT.
Moreover, another problem threatens European governments. “If the former government were found to have known that Germany was being used as transit point for captives on their way to being tortured, it might be found to have breached international law,” says the FT.
That could also be the case for the British government. And The Guardian cites a report of the New York University Law School’s Center for Human Rights and Global Justice, which explains that London could face legal sanctions in the case that it allowed secret CIA flights to stop in Great Britain.

Posted Dec 6 2005 at 11:27 AM
Categories: Europe
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A new rendition

The Guardian runs a story about how the Bush Administration's much-touted European offensive appears to be faltering already a day into Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice's visit.

Focusing on the legal defenses of the administration, the reporter repeatedly mentions how Rice continues to frame the debate in terms of rendition, or the transportation of alleged terrorists to clandestine sites where they are suspected of being tortured outside the bounds of any legal system.

One of the most gaping flaws in the use of rendition, according to some legal experts, is the claim that it was "necessary in instances where local governments did not have the capacity to prosecute a terror suspect, or in cases where al-Qaida members were operating in remote areas far from an operational justice system."

But the suspects were generally all obtained in dense urban, and therefore infrastructurally sound environments for legal prosecution. One, of course, can argue whether Karachi, and therefore Pakistan, is a suitable location for the due process of law to be enacted, but either way Rice's logic appears to be loosening in the wake of international criticism over such methods.

Interestingly, this and other sources in the European press appear to be unable to ascertain what Washington's (self-admittedly) unique definition of torture is.

Posted Dec 6 2005 at 01:38 AM
Categories: Europe , Foreign Policy , International Institutions & Networks
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December 04, 2005

Rice to address CIA on Europe trip

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will try to turn the tables on critics of U.S. terrorism policy in Europe this week, arguing that the United States acts legally and does not ship suspected terrorists around the globe to be tortured.

One of leading newspaper in Japan, Asahi, is paying attention to the travel across Europe by Secretary Rice as well, since awaiting Rice on her stops in Germany, Belgium, Romania and other destinations will be questions about alleged human rights violations supposedly engineered by Washington.

Citing human rights abuses in its handling of detainees at Guantanamo Naval Base in Cuba and Abu Ghraib Prison in Iraq by the US and also the prison camps during the civil war of the former Yugoslavia , Asahi's Sunday editrial says "If these same countries fail to take a stern and critical look at their own actions, the so-called humanitarianism of the United States and Europe will be condemned as two-faced hypocrisy."

Secretary Rice owes the EU a clear explanation of what has taken place, followed by immediate action by Washington to rectify any wrongdoing.

At the same time, the EU should conduct its own independent survey. Until the whole truth about the secret jail claims is told and the citizens of Europe are satisfied with what has been done to rectify the matter, it will be difficult to declare the Continent has truly taken to heart the sad legacy of the Holocaust.

The time has likewise come for the United States and Europe to mend the rift that has widened over the Iraq war and promote greater cross-Atlantic cooperation in rebuilding that shattered nation and on other fronts.

Vague and evasive responses to the current secret jail claims won't serve to move things in that direction.

Posted Dec 4 2005 at 11:39 PM
Categories: Europe , United States
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