Two days before a tentatively scheduled summit between Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, Israel declared Sunday that although it saw the parley as important, it would not make any hasty decisions regarding key concessions to the Palestinians.
Sources in Jerusalem believe that Israel has an interest in holding the summit, as it wishes to push ahead the negotiation process, but has no intention of agreeing to last-minute demands regarding the release of Palestinian prisoners and the redeployment of its troops from West Bank cities.
Israel refuses to discuss the release of prisoners or handing over control in West Bank cities until after the summit. The prime minister stressed Sunday that he would not make moves that he believes threaten Israel's security.
"There are gestures that Israel can and will make, and there are gestures that it won't," Sharon reportedly told his cabinet.
According to the sources in Jerusalem, the Palestinians would find it difficult to cancel the summit, as they have promised both the U.S. administration and Jordan's King Abdullah II that the meeting would go ahead.
The above is from Arnon Regular and Aluf Benn's "Israel: No hasty decisions on prisoners, IDF pullback ahead of summit" (Israel's Haaretz) and Kara e-mailed to note it. It's Sunday, we're taking a look at reporting from outside the US mainstream.
The excerpts here are provided by members who find an article that they think is worth noting. Members, not visitors, because there's usually too many e-mails in the private e-mail account to even think about going over to the pubic account. Nadine submitted a book review on a topic that she found relevant. Hopefully, I would have seen the point to her selection on my own, but she was smart enough to write a paragraph explaining why she thought the review was worth highlighting. There's never enough time to include everything (we have enough submissions each weekend that we could do these round ups all week long) so if something means something to you, please note that in your e-mail. I'm scanning through the e-mails as quickly as possible to pull these entries together (another will, as it does every Sunday, focus on Iraq) and am working on several screens (doing both this entry and the Iraq one at the same time) so if something means something to you, make a few comments on why to be sure the point penetrates my dense head. (And if you'd like your comments to be quoted here, please give permission to be quoted.)
Skip e-mails to note "Three teenagers shot dead by troops" (Australia's Herald Sun, credited to
"From correspondents in Gaza City"):
THREE Palestinian teenagers were shot dead by Israeli troops patrolling the southern section of Israel's border with Gaza, Palestinian medical and security sources said overnight.Palestinian medics discovered the bodies of the three youngsters next to the security fence near the Kissufim crossing in southern Gaza. Although the three were not carrying identity cards, they appeared to be in their early- to mid-teens, they said.
Security sources confirmed they were civilians and said none of them were armed.
Polly e-mails to note the BBC's "Norway activist 'was Mossad spy':"
A leading Norwegian pro-Palestinian activist has said she once worked for the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad as a double agent.
Karin Linstad, member of the Norwegian Palestine Committee, is said to have provided details of Palestinians in Beirut before Israel's 1982 invasion.
Mrs Linstad gave no further information to the media, but said she was always loyal to the Palestinians.
Polly also notes "Bush's God controversy stirs press fury" (BBC) which (after the excerpt below) contains pull quotes from various editorials:
Papers in the Arabic world recoil at remarks attributed to President Bush by a Palestinian official, to the effect that God had told him to invade Iraq.
The White House denied the alleged comments were ever made, and Nabil Shaath, the Palestinian official who said the president had told him he was "driven with a mission from God", later said he never thought that Mr Bush's remarks should be taken literally.
Other papers in the region comment on Mr Bush's assertion, at a speech in Washington, that Islamic radicals were seeking to establish an empire of terror from Spain to Indonesia.
Dominick e-mails to note The Irish Examiner's "Nepal's King announces election date:"
Nepal's royal government -- which seized absolute power earlier this year -- announced today the date for municipal elections, a tentative step towards restoring democracy in the Himalayan kingdom.
The Elections Commission said the polls, to be held in all 58 municipalities across the country, were scheduled for February 8, 2006, despite opposition threats to boycott the poll and an escalating communist insurgency.
It would be the first such polls in nearly eight years.
The election announcement comes at a time when most of the major political parties have been organising street protests against King Gyanendra’s power grab.
Lynda e-mails to note "Turkey slaughters birds amid flu fears" (Aljazeera):
The Turkish authorities have started slaughtering poultry at farms near a western village as a precaution after the agriculture minister confirmed the country's first bird flu case at a turkey farm in the region, news reports say.
Military police on Sunday set up roadblocks at the entrance to a village near Balikesir, western Turkey, checking all vehicles entering and exiting. A three-kilometre radius was quarantined while a seven-kilometre radius was put under close watch.
Journalists were kept at bay while veterinarians and other officials began destroying poultry at two turkey farms.
It was not known how many animals would be destroyed, but the Anatolia news agency reported that the authorities had slaughtered 600 out of 2500 turkeys on one farm by noon on Sunday.
Olive e-mails to note "Australia to host meeting of regional bird flu experts" (Australian Herald):
Australia is planning a regional meeting on bird flu to coordinate an Asia-Pacific response to a potential pandemic.
The foreign minister says the conference is planned at the end of the month in Brisbane.
Nadine e-mails asking if it's okay to note a book review that she found interesting? Absolutely, here's Gabriel Gorodetsky's "Intelligence Design: Stalin's failure to predict Hitler's 1941 invasion of the Soviet Union was a classic mistake of 20th-century intelligence: the projection of one's own values upon an opponent" (The Moscow Times):
Few Soviet specialists can draw on the kind of personal experience that distinguishes former CIA officer David E. Murphy, who headed his agency's base in Berlin before taking over Soviet operations at U.S. headquarters in Langley, Virginia. Murphy used his insider's perspective to admirable effect in "Battleground Berlin: CIA vs. KGB in the Cold War," a chronicle of espionage co-authored with his KGB counterpart, Sergei Kondrashev. Alas, his venture into less familiar territory exposes the severe shortcomings of a practitioner turned historian.
In "What Stalin Knew: The Enigma of Barbarossa," Murphy steps back to June 22, 1941, the day Adolf Hitler launched his devastating surprise attack on the Soviet Union. Caught off balance, the Red Army suffered some 5 million casualties within the first six months. Yet as has become increasingly clear with the opening of the archives, Stalin's failure to prepare his country for war was not due to a lack of intelligence about Germany's plans. Murphy provides an excellent overview of the personnel and activities of the Soviet agents then in Europe, profusely cataloging the warnings they submitted to Stalin in the months and days preceding the invasion. Unfortunately, he fails to assemble the puzzle into a coherent analysis of Stalin's colossal intelligence blunder.
If the errors of 20th-century intelligence had anything in common, it was the failure of analysts to set aside their political and cultural prejudices. Intelligence involves three major phases: the acquisition of material, its selection and collation and, finally, assessment and evaluation. How these phases are integrated determines the decisions made in response. Yet all too often, the process of integration incorporates preconceived ideas that bind the intelligence into a straitjacket detached from strategic and political realities. Ultimately, cultural constraints inhibit intelligence far more dramatically than the nature of the regime at hand.
The consequences of preconceived ideas are equally calamitous when it comes to analyzing events in retrospect. Murphy's distinct Cold War perspective on Operation Barbarossa is best illustrated by his axiomatic, unsubstantiated assumption that Stalin was oblivious to the danger posed by Hitler because he was "blinkered by Marxist-Leninist ideology and a conspiratorial cast of mind." Such premises have been contested by prominent Western researchers such as Michael Jabara Carley, Geoffrey Roberts, David Glantz and John Erickson, who have argued that Stalin's foreign policy was in fact pragmatic and based on a crude, almost Machiavellian, realpolitik.
Rena e-mails to note "NZ to help victims of quake and storm" (The New Zealand Herald):
New Zealand will contribute $750,000 to the relief effort underway to help victims of a massive earthquake that has devastated parts of Pakistan and India.
The death toll from the quake, which struck on Saturday afternoon NZ time, has spiralled out to an estimated 20,000, mainly in the Kashmir region of Pakistan, according to reports from there. Caretaker Aid Minister Marian Hobbs today said government aid agency NZAid would make an initial contribution of $750,000 to the international relief effort.
"The situation in Pakistan is very serious and there is a great need for the international community to assist in efforts to find the injured and care for the survivors." Ms Hobbs said the money would most likely be spent on essential supplies such as tents, blankets and medicines, which Pakistan had requested.
"New Zealand knows well the devastation large earthquakes can bring and it is important that we help Pakistan and its neighbours as quickly and appropriately as we can," Ms Hobbs said.
Ben e-mails to note "Pentagon Wants Powers to Spy on US Muslims" (Islam Online):
The US Defense Department is seeking congressional approval to have massive intelligence powers to spy on US Muslims and foreigners in the US, Pentagon officials have said.
"We believe there are people in the United States who have information of value to us," Jim Schmidli, deputy general counsel for operations at the Pentagon's Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), told Reuters.
"That information is within different ethnic communities in this country -- recent additions to our population from distressed areas of the world, primarily the Middle East."
The Pentagon is seeking to amend the 1974 privacy law that prevents defense intelligence from recruiting informants because they must identify themselves to American citizens and resident aliens at the first contact.
The change would provide Pentagon officials with the same powers already granted to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
Pentagon officials argue this could help fight "insurgents" in Iraq and Afghanistan more effectively as they could gather key intelligence from potential informants in the US Muslim population.
Other potential targets for defense intelligence operatives would be foreign-born US nationals with ties to Iran and North Korea.
"What we want is to find a green-card holder who has relatives back in the old country, so that person can get information from a relative who works back in the old country in a nuclear arms development program," said George Peirce, DIA general counsel.
Ben: I thought about the thing on the Pike report this morning when I was reading this and then I saw this in the middle of the article:
Civil liberties advocates say the Pentagon is simply using troubles abroad to reacquire domestic espionage powers that Congress revoked in the wake of Vietnam-era abuses.
Ben: I hadn't heard about spying on Muslims in my local paper and might have missed it if I wasn't fooling around online.
Glad you found it too and thank you for e-mailing to share. Gareth found something that made him wonder how it will go over in America -- from Alan Beattie and Raphael Minder's "US trade chief offers to cut farm subsidies" (Financial Times):
The US will on Monday offer to end farm export subsidies in five years and slash its domestic subsidies by more than half, in an attempt to revive the flagging Doha round of trade talks.
The US proposals will be discussed at a meeting of trade ministers in Zurich, just nine weeks before a crunch ministerial meeting of the World Trade Organisation in Hong Kong.
Agriculture, one of the most protected areas of world trade, is a sticking point in the negotiations, with the European Union and US at odds about cuts in tariffs and subsidies. The constraints on the US's main negotiating partner became clear from a memorandum circulated by France urging the European Commission to consult with EU member states before offering similar concessions.
Gareth also notes "Bullies Without Borders keeps marching" and steers us to Guy Dinmore's
"US 'seeks new Syrian leader' as pressure mounts" (The Finanical Times):
As it steps up pressure on Damascus, the US is actively seeking an alternative who would take over from President Bashar al-Assad, according to sources close to the Bush administration.
Washington has consulted its allies in an inter-agency search co-ordinated by Stephen Hadley, the president's national security adviser. The US is also said to be considering military strikes on the Syrian border in response to its alleged support for Iraqi insur-gents.
"They are tasking inside and outside the administration with finding an alternative. They would like to find someone to give them a soft landing," said a former official who asked not to be named. "They would probably accept a military figure but it would be very hard to identify someone to step in and work with the US."
Gareth, I agree with you, the New York Times will write about this after it happens and act as though it came from within Syria.
Pru notes, in ref to this morning's entry on the Times, that it was one Sunday in September when the articles were noted and there were two (one from Haaretz and one from Aljazeera). Thanks for finding that, Pru. (She says no spoonfeeding so anyone looking for the articles can search the archives.)
Pru e-mails to note "Government tries to split unions over pensions" (UK's The Socialist Worker):
The first major battle over public sector pensions could be about to begin.
The government is insisting that talks over the local government scheme are finalised by next week and that a new scheme comes into effect next April.
Local government unions were recently presented with a series of changes that were worse than the ones which led to by 1.25 million workers voting for stikes earlier this year.
The proposals included more of workers' pay being deducted as pension contributions, and the abolition of the "rule of 85" which allows retirement for some workers at 60 if they have 25 years service.
In March the government said it wanted to phase out the rule of 85 by 2013. Now it wants to remove it immediately.
Deputy prime minister John Prescott has also ruled that a separate set of discussions on the principles that should govern changes to public sector pension schemes in general should exclude the local government. He wants to break the unity of workers against the assaults.
It is crucial that unions fight together and do not allow any one section of workers to be picked off.
An even wider struggle over pensions is coming soon.
On 30 November Adair Turner will present the findings of the pensions commission. In January the government will respond.
If it gets away with attacking local government workers' pensions, then it will be encouraged to make us all retire later and receive less.
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