Thursday, September 28, 2006

Pakistan: Enforced disappearances in the 'war on terror'

In cooperating in the US-led 'war on terror', the Pakistani government has systematically committed human rights abuses against hundreds of Pakistanis and foreign nationals. As the practice of enforced disappearance has spread, people have been arrested and held incommunicado in secret locations with their detention officially denied. They are at risk of torture and unlawful transfer to third countries.

"The road to Guantánamo very literally starts in Pakistan," said Claudio Cordone, Senior Director of Research at Amnesty International.

"Hundreds of people have been picked up in mass arrests, many have been sold to the USA as 'terrorists' simply on the word of their captor, and hundreds have been transferred to Guantánamo Bay, Bagram Airbase or secret detention centres run by the USA."

The routine practice of offering rewards running to thousands of dollars for unidentified terror suspects facilitated illegal detention and enforced disappearance. Bounty hunters -- including police officers and local people -- have captured individuals of different nationalities, often apparently at random, and sold them into US custody.
More than 85 percent of detainees at Guantánamo Bay were arrested, not by US forces, but by the Afghan Northern Alliance and in Pakistan at a time when rewards of up to US$5,000 were paid for every "terrorist" handed over to the USA. Often the only grounds for holding them were the allegations of their captors, who stood to gain from their arrest. Some 300 people -- previously labelled as "terrorists" and "killers" by the US government -- have since been released from Guantánamo Bay without charge, the majority to Pakistan or Afghanistan.

"Enforced disappearances were almost unheard of in Pakistan before the start of the US-led 'war on terror' -- now they are a growing phenomenon, spreading beyond terror suspects to Baloch and Sindhi nationalists and journalists," said Angelika Pathak, South Asia researcher at Amnesty International.

Many detainees remain unaccounted for, their fate and whereabouts unknown. Three women and five children were arrested alongside Tanzanian terror suspect Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani in Punjab province in July 2004. They included a baby and a 13-year-old Saudi boy called Talha, according to reports. More than two years later, nothing is known about the fate and whereabouts of Talha and the other children and women. Ahmed Ghailani was one of 14 individuals transferred from secret CIA custody to Guantánamo Bay in September 2006.

"These and other children have been detained in Pakistan's pursuit of the 'war on terror' -- and not even the children, let alone the adults, have been presumed innocent and allowed to challenge the legality of their detention," said Angelika Pathak. "Rather, they have spent months and years imprisoned without trial."

Pakistani politicians, media and civil society need to take a stand and hold the government to account so the practice is ended and the fate and whereabouts of all victims clarified.

The non-governmental Human Rights Commission of Pakistan has noted a new tolerance to abuses and suggested it might be attributable to the "impact of the war on terrorism on the public psyche".

Terror suspects held in secret are especially vulnerable to torture in Pakistan. Victims have been hung upside down and beaten and deprived of sleep and food. Agents from other countries, including the USA, appear to have known of, or been present during interrogations of people held in arbitrary and secret detention.

"The Pakistani government must set up a central register of detainees and publish regular lists of all recognised places of detention so that in future nobody can be secretly imprisoned and face the risks of torture and other abuses that secret detention involves," said Angelika Pathak. "Foreign governments, including the US, must investigate all allegations of torture in which their agents may be complicit."

Relatives have few places to turn in searching for those who have been abducted. Police have refused to investigate or register complaints. Those who challenge detentions through the provincial high courts find that security forces deny all knowledge of a person's whereabouts and judges have frequently failed to challenge these denials.

Khalid Mehmood Rashid, a Pakistani national, was handed over to Pakistani officials in South Africa on 6 November 2005 and flown to Pakistan. He has not been seen since. Despite official acknowledgements that he is being held by the Pakistani government, the Ministry of Interior has not responded to his family's inquiries as to where he is being held.

The clandestine nature of the "war on terror" makes it impossible to know exactly how many enforced disappearances, other arbitrary detentions or unlawful killings have been committed in Pakistan, but Pakistani military spokesperson Major-General Shaukat Sultan said in June 2006 that since 2001 some 500 "terrorists" had been killed and over 1,000 had been arrested.

To see the report, 'Pakistan: Human rights ignored in the 'war on terror' please go to:

To see the text of a US flyer offering substantial rewards for the capture of suspected enemies, please go to:

For more information about Amnesty International's campaign against the use of torture and other ill-treatment in the "war on terror", please go to:

Further information :
To see the text of a US flyer offering substantial rewards for the capture of suspected enemies, please go to: (opens in a new window).
For more information about Amnesty International's campaign against the use of torture and other ill-treatment in the "war on terror", please go to:

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Renegade archbishop rejects pope's excommunication

Reuters reported today that:

WASHINGTON - A renegade African Catholic archbishop who was excommunicated for ordaining married men as bishops said on Wednesday he rejected the
Vatican's censure and would continue his campaign to force the church to accept married priests.

Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo, who made headlines in 2001 when he was married in a mass ceremony conducted by the Rev. Sun Myung Moon's Unification Church, was excommunicated on Tuesday for ordaining four married men as bishops at a ceremony in Washington.

"We do not accept this excommunication and lovingly return it to his holiness, our beloved Pope Benedict XVI, to reconsider it and withdraw it and join us in recalling married priests to service once again," Milingo, the archbishop emeritus of Lusaka, Zambia, said in a statement read at a news conference.

Asked later about the excommunication, he replied: "I'm not excommunicated. Who says? No, I'm not excommunicated. I'm in line with God."

A person excommunicated from the Roman Catholic Church is forbidden from receiving the sacraments or sharing in acts of public worship, but Milingo said he continued to celebrate mass and conduct the faith healing services for which he is noted.

"Myself, I have never stopped saying Mass. Never. Even this morning I have celebrated Mass," he said.

Milingo surprised the Vatican in 2001 when he was married in a mass ceremony in New York to Maria Sung, a 43-year-old Korean woman chosen for him by the controversial South Korean-born evangelist Moon.

Milingo later left Sung, rejoined the Catholic Church and had lived in near seclusion for several years at a convent near Rome before he disappeared in June.

He resurfaced in the U.S. capital in July, where he held a news conference to announce the formation of a new group, Married Priests Now!, and discuss his new mission of trying to persuade the Vatican to allow priests to marry.

The Roman Catholic Church insists that its priests remain celibate and has ruled out letting them marry, which advocates say would make some men more willing to join the priesthood and ease the shortage of priests in many parts of the world.

"We do not accept what we call the obligatory celibacy but to give option and to recognize that it is a gift, celibacy is a gift," Milingo said on Wednesday.

Priests had been permitted to marry during the First Millennium, but marriage was condemned by the Church at the Second Lateran Council in 1139.

Milingo said the Vatican's stand had led to crisis in the church, with the average age of priests at about 74 years.

"In 20 years there will be few priests left," he said in a statement. "Who is going to provide the sacraments and the Eucharist to the people?"

He said many priests forced to leave the priesthood because

they married would be willing to return to the ministry.

"There is a desperate need for priests now and in the future, but we have almost 25,000 married priests in the United States and almost 150,000 worldwide who are not being called to service because of a Medieval, church-imposed regulation that priests be celibate," Milingo said.

Several bishops who support Milingo attended the news conference and said his group Married Priests Now! was still organizing but hoped to remain within the Roman Catholic Church rather than form separate congregations.

They noted that some former Anglican, Episcopalian and Lutheran ministers had been allowed to become priests despite being married.

Archbishop Milingo excommunicated after "illicit" ordinations

CW News reported today that:

The Vatican has formally announced the excommunication of Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo, after the troubled African prelate ordained four married men as bishops.

A September 26 announcement from the Vatican press office noted that by ordaining bishops without the approval of the Holy See, Archbishop Milingo had incurred the automatic penalty of excommunication.

The four men whom he ordained in the illicit ceremony on September 24 are also excommunicated, and the Vatican announced that it would not recognize them as canonically ordained bishops.

The Vatican statement indicated that the Holy See had been following Archbishop Milingo's recent activities with "great concern," and Church leaders had made repeated effort "to dissuade him from persisting in actions that provoke scandal." The Vatican hoped that "fraternal influence" would bring the wayward archbishop back into the fold, the statement said.

However, despite the "vigilant patience" of the Vatican, the African archbishop had continued to show a pattern of "irregularity and of progressively open rupture of communion with the Church, first with his attempted marriage and then with the ordination of four bishops on Sunday, September 24," the statement continued.

The Vatican statement concluded with a call for prayers that Archbishop Milingo would "rethink and return to full communion with the Pope." However, it acknowledged, "Unfortunately, the latest developments have made these hopes more unlikely." Archbishop Milingo was pressed to resign his post as Archbishop of Lusaka, Zambia, in 1983, because of erratic behavior. He had lived for more than 20 years near Rome, without a pastoral assignment.

In 2001 the archbishop traveled to New York, where he participated in a mass wedding ceremony organized by the cult of Sun Myung Moon. Later that year he returned to Rome, met with Pope John Paul II (bio - news), acknowledged that his marriage to Maria Sung was invalid, and was restored to regular status in the Catholic Church-- although he now lived under the watchful eye of Vatican officials.

In June of this year Archbishop Milingo disappeared from his residence outside Rome. He appeared in Washington in July, joining with George Stallings-- a suspended priest of the Washington archdiocese, who now leads his own sect from a church near Capitol Hill-- at a press conference calling for the Catholic Church to end priestly celibacy.

Archbishop Milingo recently disclosed that he had received an urgent communication from the Congregation for Bishops, warning that he could face severe disciplinary action if he continued to defy the Holy See. Nevertheless he proceeded with the unauthorized ordination of four men, including Stallings, at the latter's church in Washington.

The four newly ordained bishops claim affiliation with the "Synod of Old Catholic Churches," a group that has no connection with the Holy See.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Clinton Administers Spanking to Chris Wallace and Fox News

We thought our readers might enjoy the transcript of a recent "interview" conducted by Fox News Reporter, Chris Wallace of former President Bill Clinton on September be the judge of who won this smackdown....

WALLACE: Mr. President, welcome to Fox News Sunday.

CLINTON: Thanks.

WALLACE: In a recent issue of The New Yorker you say, quote,

I’m 60 years old and I damn near died, and I’m worried about how many lives I can save before I do die.

Is that what drives you in your effort to help in these developing countries?

CLINTON: Yes, I really — but I don’t mean — that sounds sort of morbid when you say it like that. I mean, I actually…

WALLACE: That’s how you said it.

CLINTON: Yes, but the way I said it, the tone in which I said it was actually almost whimsical and humorous. That is, this is what I love to do. It is what I think I should do.

That is, I have had a wonderful life. I got to be president. I got to live the life of my dreams. I dodged a bullet with that heart problem. And I really think I should — I think I owe it to my fellow countrymen and people throughout the world to spend time saving lives, solving problems, helping people see the future.

But as it happens, I love it. I mean, I feel it’s a great gift. So, it’s a rewarding way to spend my life.

WALLACE: Someone asked you — and I don’t want to, again, be too morbid, but this is what you said. He asked you if you could wind up doing more good as a former president than as a president, and you said, Only if I live a long time.

CLINTON: Yes, that’s true.

WALLACE: How do you rate, compare the powers of being in office as president and what you can do out of office as a former president?

CLINTON: Well, when you are president, you can operate on a much broader scope. So, for example, you can simultaneously be trying to stop a genocide in Kosovo and, you know, make peace in the Middle East, pass a budget that gives millions of kids a chance to have afterschool programs and has a huge increase in college aid at home. In other words, you’ve got a lot of different moving parts, and you can move them all at once.

But you’re also more at the mercy of events. That is, President Bush did not run for president to deal with 9/11, but once it happened it wasn’t as if he had an option.

Once I looked at the economic — I’ll give you a much more mundane example. Once I looked at the economic data, the new data after I won the election, I realized that I would have to work much harder to reduce the deficit, and therefore I would have less money in my first year to invest in things I wanted to invest in.

WALLACE: So what is it that you can do as a former president?

CLINTON: So what you can do as a former president is — you don’t have the wide range of power, so you have to concentrate on fewer things. But you are less at the mercy of unfolding events.

So if I say, look, we’re going to work on the economic empowerment of poor people, on fighting AIDS and other diseases, on trying to bridge the religious and political differences between people, and on trying to, you know, avoid the worst calamities of climate change and help to revitalize the economy in the process, I can actually do that.

I mean, because tomorrow when I get up, if there’s a bad headline in the paper, it’s President Bush’s responsibility, not mine. That’s the joy of being a former president. And it is true that if you live long enough and you really have great discipline in the way you do this, like this CGI, you might be able to affect as many lives, or more, for the good as you did as president.

WALLACE: When we announced that you were going to be on Fox News Sunday, I got a lot of e-mail from viewers. And I’ve got to say, I was surprised. Most of them wanted me to ask you this question: Why didn’t you do more to put bin Laden and Al Qaida out of business when you were president?

There’s a new book out, I suspect you’ve already read, called

The Looming Tower. And it talks about how the fact that when you pulled troops out of Somalia in 1993, bin Laden said, I have seen the frailty and the weakness and the cowardice of U.S. troops. Then there was the bombing of the embassies in Africa and the attack on the Cole.

CLINTON: OK, let’s just go through that.

WALLACE: Let me — let me — may I just finish the question, sir?

And after the attack, the book says that bin Laden separated his leaders, spread them around, because he expected an attack, and there was no response.

I understand that hindsight is always 20/20…

CLINTON: No, let’s talk about it.

WALLACE: … but the question is, why didn’t you do more, connect the dots and put them out of business?

CLINTON: OK, let’s talk about it. Now, I will answer all those things on the merits, but first I want to talk about the context in which this arises.

I’m being asked this on the Fox network. ABC just had a right-wing conservative run in their little Pathway to 9/11, falsely claiming it was based on the 9/11 Commission report, with three things asserted against me directly contradicted by the 9/11 Commission report.

And I think it’s very interesting that all the conservative Republicans, who now say I didn’t do enough, claimed that I was too obsessed with bin Laden. All of President Bush’s neo-cons thought I was too obsessed with bin Laden. They had no meetings on bin Laden for nine months after I left office. All the right-wingers who now say I didn’t do enough said I did too much — same people.

They were all trying to get me to withdraw from Somalia in 1993 the next day after we were involved in Black Hawk down, and I refused to do it and stayed six months and had an orderly transfer to the United Nations.

OK, now let’s look at all the criticisms: Black Hawk down, Somalia. There is not a living soul in the world who thought that Osama bin Laden had anything to do with Black Hawk down or was paying any attention to it or even knew Al Qaida was a growing concern in October of ‘93.

WALLACE: I understand, and I…

CLINTON: No, wait. No, wait. Don’t tell me this — you asked me why didn’t I do more to bin Laden. There was not a living soul. All the people who now criticize me wanted to leave the next day.

You brought this up, so you’ll get an answer, but you can’t…

WALLACE: I’m perfectly happy to.

CLINTON: All right, secondly…

WALLACE: Bin Laden says…

CLINTON: Bin Laden may have said…

WALLACE: … bin Laden says that it showed the weakness of the United States.

CLINTON: But it would’ve shown the weakness if we’d left right away, but he wasn’t involved in that. That’s just a bunch of bull. That was about Mohammed Adid, a Muslim warlord, murdering 22 Pakistani Muslim troops. We were all there on a humanitarian mission. We had no mission, none, to establish a certain kind of Somali government or to keep anybody out.

He was not a religious fanatic…

WALLACE: But, Mr. President…

CLINTON: … there was no Al Qaida…

WALLACE: … with respect, if I may, instead of going through ‘93 and…

CLINTON: No, no. You asked it. You brought it up. You brought it up.

WALLACE: May I ask a general question and then you can answer?


WALLACE: The 9/11 Commission, which you’ve talk about — and this is what they did say, not what ABC pretended they said…

CLINTON: Yes, what did they say?

WALLACE: … they said about you and President Bush, and I quote, The U.S. government took the threat seriously, but not in the sense of mustering anything like the kind of effort that would be gathered to confront an enemy of the first, second or even third rank.

CLINTON: First of all, that’s not true with us and bin Laden.

WALLACE: Well, I’m telling you that’s what the 9/11 Commission says.

CLINTON: All right. Let’s look at what Richard Clarke said. Do you think Richard Clarke has a vigorous attitude about bin Laden?

WALLACE: Yes, I do.

CLINTON: You do, don’t you?

WALLACE: I think he has a variety of opinions and loyalties, but yes, he has a vigorous…

CLINTON: He has a variety of opinion and loyalties now, but let’s look at the facts: He worked for Ronald Reagan; he was loyal to him. He worked for George H. W. Bush; he was loyal to him. He worked for me, and he was loyal to me. He worked for President Bush; he was loyal to him.

They downgraded him and the terrorist operation.

Now, look what he said, read his book and read his factual assertions — not opinions — assertions. He said we took vigorous action after the African embassies. We probably nearly got bin Laden.


CLINTON: No, wait a minute.


WALLACE: … cruise missiles.

CLINTON: No, no. I authorized the CIA to get groups together to try to kill him.

The CIA, which was run by George Tenet, that President Bush gave the Medal of Freedom to, he said, He did a good job setting up all these counterterrorism things.

The country never had a comprehensive anti-terror operation until I came there.

Now, if you want to criticize me for one thing, you can criticize me for this: After the Cole, I had battle plans drawn to go into Afghanistan, overthrow the Taliban, and launch a full-scale attack search for bin Laden.

But we needed basing rights in Uzbekistan, which we got after 9/11.

The CIA and the FBI refused to certify that bin Laden was responsible while I was there. They refused to certify. So that meant I would’ve had to send a few hundred Special Forces in in helicopters and refuel at night.

Even the 9/11 Commission didn’t do that. Now, the 9/11 Commission was a political document, too. All I’m asking is, anybody who wants to say I didn’t do enough, you read Richard Clarke’s book.

WALLACE: Do you think you did enough, sir?

CLINTON: No, because I didn’t get him.


CLINTON: But at least I tried. That’s the difference in me and some, including all the right-wingers who are attacking me now. They ridiculed me for trying. They had eight months to try. They did not try. I tried.

So I tried and failed. When I failed, I left a comprehensive anti-terror strategy and the best guy in the country, Dick Clarke, who got demoted.

So you did Fox’s bidding on this show. You did your nice little conservative hit job on me. What I want to know is…

WALLACE: Well, wait a minute, sir.

CLINTON: No, wait. No, no…

WALLACE: I want to ask a question. You don’t think that’s a legitimate question?

CLINTON: It was a perfectly legitimate question, but I want to know how many people in the Bush administration you asked this question of.

I want to know how many people in the Bush administration you asked, Why didn’t you do anything about the Cole?

I want to know how many you asked, Why did you fire Dick Clarke?

I want to know how many people you asked…

WALLACE: We asked — we asked…

CLINTON: I don’t…

WALLACE: Do you ever watch Fox News Sunday, sir?

CLINTON: I don’t believe you asked them that.

WALLACE: We ask plenty of questions of…

CLINTON: You didn’t ask that, did you? Tell the truth, Chris.

WALLACE: About the USS Cole?

CLINTON: Tell the truth, Chris.

WALLACE: With Iraq and Afghanistan, there’s plenty of stuff to ask.

CLINTON: Did you ever ask that?

You set this meeting up because you were going to get a lot of criticism from your viewers because Rupert Murdoch’s supporting my work on climate change.

And you came here under false pretenses and said that you’d spend half the time talking about — you said you’d spend half the time talking about what we did out there to raise $7-billion-plus in three days from 215 different commitments. And you don’t care.

WALLACE: But, President Clinton, if you look at the questions here, you’ll see half the questions are about that. I didn’t think this was going to set you off on such a tear.

CLINTON: You launched it — it set me off on a tear because you didn’t formulate it in an honest way and because you people ask me questions you don’t ask the other side.

WALLACE: That’s not true. Sir, that is not true.

CLINTON: And Richard Clarke made it clear in his testimony…

WALLACE: Would you like to talk about the Clinton Global Initiative?

CLINTON: No, I want to finish this now.

WALLACE: All right. Well, after you.

CLINTON: All I’m saying is, you falsely accused me of giving aid and comfort to bin Laden because of what happened in Somalia. No one knew Al Qaida existed then. And…

WALLACE: But did they know in 1996 when he declared war on the U.S.? Did they know in 1998…

CLINTON: Absolutely, they did.

WALLACE: … when he bombed the two embassies?

CLINTON: And who talked about…

WALLACE: Did they know in 2000 when he hit the Cole?

CLINTON: What did I do? What did I do? I worked hard to try to kill him. I authorized a finding for the CIA to kill him. We contracted with people to kill him. I got closer to killing him than anybody has gotten since. And if I were still president, we’d have more than 20,000 troops there trying to kill him.

Now, I’ve never criticized President Bush, and I don’t think this is useful. But you know we do have a government that thinks Afghanistan is only one-seventh as important as Iraq.

And you ask me about terror and Al Qaida with that sort of dismissive thing? When all you have to do is read Richard Clarke’s book to look at what we did in a comprehensive, systematic way to try to protect the country against terror.

And you’ve got that little smirk on your face and you think you’re so clever. But I had responsibility for trying to protect this country. I tried and I failed to get bin Laden. I regret it. But I did try. And I did everything I thought I responsibly could.

The entire military was against sending Special Forces in to Afghanistan and refueling by helicopter. And no one thought we could do it otherwise, because we could not get the CIA and the FBI to certify that Al Qaida was responsible while I was president.

And so, I left office. And yet, I get asked about this all the time. They had three times as much time to deal with it, and nobody ever asks them about it. I think that’s strange.

WALLACE: Can I ask you about the Clinton Global Initiative?

CLINTON: You can.

WALLACE: I always intended to, sir.

CLINTON: No, you intended, though, to move your bones by doing this first, which is perfectly fine. But I don’t mind people asking me — I actually talked to the 9/11 Commission for four hours, Chris, and I told them the mistakes I thought I made. And I urged them to make those mistakes public, because I thought none of us had been perfect.

But instead of anybody talking about those things, I always get these clever little political yields (ph), where they ask me one-sided questions. And the other guys notice that. And it always comes from one source. And so…


CLINTON: And so…

WALLACE: I just want to ask you about the Clinton Global Initiative, but what’s the source? I mean, you seem upset, and I…

CLINTON: I am upset because…

WALLACE: And all I can say is, I’m asking you this in good faith because it’s on people’s minds, sir. And I wasn’t…

CLINTON: Well, there’s a reason it’s on people’s minds. That’s the point I’m trying to make. There’s a reason it’s on people’s minds: Because there’s been a serious disinformation campaign to create that impression.

This country only has one person who’s worked on this terror. From the terrorist incidents under Reagan to the terrorist incidents from 9/11, only one: Richard Clarke.

And all I can say to anybody is, you want to know what we did wrong or right, or anybody else did? Read his book.

The people on my political right who say I didn’t do enough spent the whole time I was president saying, Why is he so obsessed with bin Laden? That was wag the dog when he tried to kill him.

My Republican secretary of defense — and I think I’m the only president since World War II to have a secretary of defense of the opposite party — Richard Clarke and all the intelligence people said that I ordered a vigorous attempt to get bin Laden and came closer, apparently, than anybody has since.

WALLACE: All right.

CLINTON: And you guys try to create the opposite impression, when all you have to do is read Richard Clarke’s findings and you know it’s not true. It’s just not true.

And all this business about Somalia — the same people who criticized me about Somalia were demanding I leave the next day. The same exact crowd.

WALLACE: One of the…

CLINTON: And so, if you’re going to do this, for God’s sake, follow the same standards for everybody…

WALLACE: I think we do, sir.

CLINTON: … and be flat — and fair.

WALLACE: I think we do.

WALLACE: One of the main parts of the Global Initiative this year is religion and reconciliation. President Bush says that the fight against Islamic extremism is the central conflict of this century. And his answer is promoting democracy and reform.

Do you think he has that right?

CLINTON: Sure. To advance — to advocate democracy and reform in the Muslim world? Absolutely.

I think the question is, what’s the best way to do it? I think also the question is, how do you educate people about democracy?

Democracy is about way more than majority rule. Democracy is about minority rights, individual rights, restraints on power. And there’s more than one way to advance democracy.

But do I think, on balance, that in the end, after several bouts with instability — look how long it took us to build a mature democracy. Do I think, on balance, it would be better if we had more freedom and democracy? Sure I do. And do I think specifically the president has a right to do it? Sure I do.

But I don’t think that’s all we can do in the Muslim world. I think they have to see us as trying to get a just and lasting peace in the Middle East. I think they have to see us as willing to talk to people who see the world differently than we do.

WALLACE: Last year at this conference, you got $2.5 billion in commitments, pledges. How’d you do this year?

CLINTON: Well, this year we had — we had $7.3 billion, as of this morning.

WALLACE: Excuse me?

CLINTON: $7.3 billion, as of this morning. But $3 billion of that is — now, this is over multi years. These are up to 10-year commitments.

But $3 billion of that came from Richard Branson’s commitment to give all of his transportation profits for a decade to clean energy investments. But still, that’s — the rest is over $4 billion.

And we will have another 100 commitments come in, maybe more, and we’ll probably raise another, I would say, at least another billion dollars, probably, before it’s over. We’ve got a lot of commitments still in process.

WALLACE: When you look at the $3 billion from Branson, plus the billions that Bill Gates is giving in his own program, and now Warren Buffet, what do you make of this new age of philanthropy?

CLINTON: I think that, for one thing, really rich people have always given money away. I mean, you know, they’ve endowed libraries and things like that.

The unique thing about this age is, first of all, you have a lot of people like Bill Gates and Warren Buffet who are interested in issues at home and around the world that grow out of the nature of the 21st century and its inequalities — the income inequalities, the health-care inequalities, the education inequalities.

And you get a guy like Gates, who built Microsoft, who actually believes that he can help overcome a lot of the health disparities in the world. And that’s the first thing.

The second thing that ought to be credited is that there are a lot of people with average incomes who are joining them because of the Internet. Like in the tsunami, for example, we had $1.2 billion given by Americans; 30 percent of our households gave money, over half of them over the Internet.

And then the third thing is you’ve got all these — in poor countries, you’ve got all these nongovernmental groups that you can — that a guy like Gates can partner with, along with the governments.

So all these things together mean that people with real money want to give it away in ways that help people that before would’ve been seen only as the object of government grants or loans.

WALLACE: Let’s talk some politics. In that same New Yorker article, you say that you are tired of Karl Rove’s B.S., although I’m cleaning up what you said.

CLINTON: But I do like the — but I also say I’m not tired of Karl Rove. I don’t blame Karl Rove. If you’ve got a deal that works, you just keep on doing it.

WALLACE: So what is the B.S.?

CLINTON: Well, every even-numbered year, right before an election, they come up with some security issue.

In 2002, our party supported them in undertaking weapons inspections in Iraq and was 100 percent for what happened in Afghanistan, and they didn’t have any way to make us look like we didn’t care about terror.

And so, they decided they would be for the homeland security bill that they had opposed. And they put a poison pill in it that we wouldn’t pass, like taking the job rights away from 170,000 people, and then say that we were weak on terror if we weren’t for it. They just ran that out.

This year, I think they wanted to make the questions of prisoner treatment and intercepted communications the same sort of issues, until John Warner and John McCain and Lindsey Graham got in there. And, as it turned out, there were some Republicans that believed in the Constitution and the Geneva Conventions and had some of their own ideas about how best to fight terror.

The Democrats — as long as the American people believe that we take this seriously and we have our own approaches — and we may have differences over Iraq — I think we’ll do fine in this election.

But even if they agree with us about the Iraq war, we could be hurt by Karl Rove’s new foray if we just don’t make it clear that we, too, care about the security of the country. But we want to implement the 9/11 Commission recommendations, which they haven’t for four years. We want to intensify our efforts in Afghanistan against bin Laden. We want to make America more energy-independent.

And then they can all, if they differ on Iraq, they can say whatever they want on Iraq.

But Rove is good. And I honor him. I mean, I will say that. I’ve always been amused about how good he is, in a way.

But on the other hand, this is perfectly predictable: We’re going to win a lot of seats if the American people aren’t afraid. If they’re afraid and we get divided again, then we may only win a few seats.

WALLACE: And the White House, the Republicans want to make the American people afraid?

CLINTON: Of course they do. Of course they do. They want us to be — they want another homeland security deal. And they want to make it about — not about Iraq but about some other security issue, where, if we disagree with them, we are, by definition, imperiling the security of the country.

And it’s a big load of hooey. We’ve got nine Iraq war veterans running for the House seats. We’ve got President Reagan’s secretary of the navy as the Democratic candidate for the Senate in Virginia. A three-star admiral, who was on my National Security Council staff, who also fought terror, by the way, is running for the seat of Kurt Weldon in Pennsylvania.

We’ve got a huge military presence here in this campaign. And we just can’t let them have some rhetorical device that puts us in a box we don’t belong in.

That’s their job. Their job is to beat us. I like that about Rove. But our job is not to let them get away with it. And if they don’t, then we’ll do fine.

WALLACE: Mr. President, thank you for one of the more unusual interviews.

CLINTON: Thanks.

CCR to Senate Judiciary Committee: Restore Access of Detainees to Court in Military Commissions Bill

WASHINGTON - September 25 - Today, the Center for Constitutional Rights issued the following statement on the efforts of the Bush Administration to strip the right to challenge their detention from those held in U.S. custody outside of the U.S.:

Last week's compromise on The Military Commissions Act of 2006 is a complete capitulation by Senators McCain, Warner and Graham to political pressure from Karl Rove and the White House. Not only did the compromise allow President Bush to issue his own interpretation of the Geneva Conventions by executive order, but it immunizes CIA and military personnel from prosecution for past violations of the Geneva Conventions. Further, and most important for the many men currently in U.S. custody, the compromise bill would eliminate the right of detainees to challenge the legality of their detention through habeas corpus - a fundamental right guaranteed by our Constitution.

If this bill passes, the President's mere labeling of someone as an "enemy combatant" would permit the President to lock him up indefinitely. His innocence would be irrelevant. We now know all too well the dangers of this kind of unchecked executive power. Last week, the Canadian government completely exonerated Maher Arar, a computer software engineer sent by the U.S. government to be tortured in Syria. He was detained there for a year based on a mere executive assertion. And we know that the overwhelming majority of men currently detained in Guantánamo are men who were guilty only of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. The President called them the "worst of the worst" and wants this unchecked assertion to justify their detention. It must not.

This legislation would set a dangerous precedent. It would invite our enemies to treat our own troops the same way if they are captured. It would be contrary to our values and dangerous for foreign policy. As others - including Senator Graham - have said before, how we treat those we detain says more about us than it does about them. We must continue to be a nation that prizes the rule of law and allows those we detain an opportunity to prove their innocence. We urge the Senate Judiciary committee to remove the habeas-stripping provisions from the bill.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Executions spark Indonesia unrest

Thousands of protesters took to the streets of eastern Indonesia after three Christian militants were executed in religiously divided Sulawesi.

The BBC reported today that:

Protesters torched cars, looted shops and set prisoners free from a jail.

But Palu, where the executions took place, remained calm. Mourners attended church services to pray for the men.

The three men were convicted of masterminding a series of attacks on Muslims in central Sulawesi in 2000 that killed at least 70 people.

A spokesman for the Vatican, which had appealed for clemency, described the executions as a defeat for humanity.

The human rights organisation Amnesty International also expressed disappointment.

The three men - Fabianus Tibo, Marianus Riwu and Dominggus da Silva - were taken before the firing squad before dawn on Friday morning, according to police officers.

The bodies of Tibo and Riwu were then flown to their home towns, while Da Silva was buried in Palu, the provincial capital.

The attacks the three men were accused of instigating, in Poso, was part of a wave of violence triggered by a brawl between Christian and Muslim gangs in December 1998.

The violence left more than 1,000 people dead. The two sides signed a peace deal in 2002, but there have been sporadic incidents since.

As news of the execution emerged, at least 1,000 mourners packed the main Catholic church in Palu to pray for the three men.

Rioting broke out elsewhere, including on the island of Flores, the men's birthplace, and in Tibo and Riwu's Sulawesi villages as well as in Poso.

The worst violence broke out in the Christian-dominated town of Atambua in West Timor, where Da Silva was from.

At least 1,000 people took to the streets, throwing stones and looting shops.

Rioters damaged the state prosecutor's office and broke into the jail, freeing some 200 inmates. Only 20 prisoners had so far returned, police said.

One Catholic priest in Atambua told the AFP news agency he and three colleagues had managed to placate the rioters and they were now heading home.

National deputy police chief Adang Daradjatun stressed that the violence was being directed at the authorities, not at Muslims, and Indonesia was not witnessing a resurgence of the religious conflict of six years ago.

The case against the men has raised questions in Indonesia about the different sentences handed down to Christians and Muslims.

Few Muslims were ever punished for the violence in Sulawesi, and none to more than 15 years in jail.

The complete story may be found here:

Friday, September 22, 2006

McCain and Company Fail to Protect Geneva Conventions in Compromise on Military Tribunals Bill

Spin Aside, Republicans Capitulate to Bush Administration in Debate over Geneva Conventions

WASHINGTON - September 22 - In as statement issued today, Michael Ratner, President of the Center for Constitutional Rights said:

The compromise reached yesterday is a nearly complete capitulation by Senators McCain, Warner and Graham to political pressure from Karl Rove and the White House. The compromise allows President Bush to issue his own interpretation of the Geneva Conventions by executive order and immunizes CIA and military personnel from prosecution for past violations of the Geneva Conventions. Most importantly for the many men currently in U.S. custody, the compromise bill would eliminate the right of detainees to challenge the legality of their detention through habeas corpus - a fundamental right guaranteed by our Constitution.

If this bill passes, the President's mere labeling of someone as an "enemy combatant" would permit the President to lock him up. His innocence would be irrelevant. We now know all too well the dangers of this kind of unchecked executive power. Earlier this week, the Canadian government completely exonerated Maher Arar. Mr. Arar was sent by the U.S. government to be tortured in Syria. He was detained there for a year based on a mere executive assertion. And we know that the overwhelming majority of men currently detained in Guantánamo are men who were guilty only of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. The President called them the "worst of the worst" and wants this unchecked assertion to justify their detention. It must not.

This legislation would set a dangerous precedent. It would invite our enemies to treat our own troops the same way if they are captured. It would be contrary to our values and dangerous for foreign policy. As others - including Senator Graham - have said before, how we treat those we detain says more about us than it does about them. We must continue to be a nation that prizes the rule of law and allows those we detain an opportunity to prove their innocence.

Iran: Juvenile Offenders Face the Hangman’s Noose

Despite Two Reprieves, Iran Leads the World in Juvenile Executions

CAIRO - September 22 - The scheduled executions in Iran this week of two juvenile offenders – and their last-minute reprieve – highlight the country’s status as the world leader in juvenile executions, Human Rights Watch said.
In what would have been at least the 15th such execution in the past five years, Sina Paymard was scheduled to be put to death by hanging on September 20, two weeks after his 18th birthday. The second youth was Ali Alijan, now 19. Each was convicted of a murder committed under the age of 18. According to Paymard’s lawyer, the sentencing court did not properly consider evidence that Paymard suffered from a mental disorder.

Both youths received reprieves on Wednesday by the families of the victims, who exercised their option under Iran’s Islamic penal code to seek blood money in lieu of the death penalty. If an offer of blood money meets certain formalities – it must be in writing and notarized, for example – and the individual found responsible for the crime pays, there is no possibility of imposing the death penalty in the future for that crime. Capital punishment is by hanging for most crimes in Iran.

“Although these two youths were spared by last-minute acts of mercy, Iran has earned the dubious distinction as the world leader in executing child offenders,” said Clarisa Bencomo, children’s rights researcher on the Middle East at Human Rights Watch. “The Iranian authorities should abolish this repugnant practice at once.”

When a defendant has been sentenced to death in Iran, the victim’s family members are asked just before execution is carried out if they wish to offer forgiveness. Paymard’s pardon came after he was granted a final request to play the ney, a Middle Eastern flute. According to press accounts, his playing greatly affected those present to witness the execution, including the victim’s family members.

A third youth, who was either 20 or 21 at the time of his execution this week, was not granted a pardon by family members. It is not known whether he was under the age of 18 at the time of the crime for which he was convicted.

Two core international human rights treaties, the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, prohibit the imposition of the death penalty for crimes committed before the age of 18. Iran has ratified both treaties.

Iran has executed more juvenile offenders in the last five years than any other nation. It is known to have executed 14 juvenile offenders since 2001, including at least one earlier this year and eight in 2005. About 30 juvenile offenders are on death row in the country.

The United States, China, and Pakistan are the only other countries known to have put juvenile offenders to death since 2001. Pakistan has conducted two such executions, including one this year. China has executed two juvenile offenders. Five juvenile offenders were put to death in the United States during this period before the U.S. Supreme Court declared the juvenile death penalty unconstitutional in March 2005.

For five years, Iran’s parliament has considered legislation that would amend the civil code to prohibit executions for crimes committed under the age of 18. Human Rights Watch, which opposes capital punishment in all circumstances, urged Iran’s leadership to support these reforms.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

CREW Reveals What the White House Has Not Released about the Abramoff Secret Service Records

Many More Abramoff-Related Visits Took Place Than Have Been Disclosed

WASHINGTON - September 21 - It was reported yesterday that the White House had released White House visitor records of certain Republican operatives, including Grover Norquist and Ralph Reed, to settle Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuits brought by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) and Democratic National Committee (DNC). It was actually the Secret Service, a component of DHS, and not the White House that released the records.

CREW sued the Secret Service on May 9, 2006 for its failure to respond to a CREW FOIA request for Worker And Visitor Entrance System (WAVE), Access Control Records (ACR) and other visitor records for a number of prominent conservative activists, including Jack Abramoff, to the White House, executive office buildings and the Vice President’s house. The DNC sued for a smaller scope of documents.

Once in litigation, the Secret Service took the remarkable position that all records were off-limits. When pressed in similar lawsuit brought by Judicial Watch, the Secret Service acknowledged that the agency had, in fact, destroyed records after making copies for the White House – a practice it discontinued only after the National Archives and Records Administration, the agency charged with ensuring that agencies properly preserve records, intervened in October 2004.

In settlement discussions with the Secret Service, CREW learned that the full body of visitor records shows that Norquist visited the White House far more than the 97 visits disclosed yesterday. The full complement of Secret Service records, including those the Secret Service destroyed (but which are still with the White House), shows that Norquist visited the White House a minimum of 155 times, Similarly, rather than the mere 18 meetings revealed yesterday, Reed visited the White House on at least 49 separate occasions.

The Secret Service is now arguing that the records are not the agency’s to provide. This flatly contradicts the position taken by the agency during the Clinton administration, when the Secret Service provided such records to Judicial Watch in litigation over Filegate. CREW will continue to litigate until the Secret Service explains what records have been destroyed as well as why and at whose direction they were destroyed.

CREW’s executive director Melanie Sloan stated, “Why is the White House stonewalling? What are they trying to hide? The American people deserve to know the truth about who has been peddling influence at the White House.”

House Approves Strip Search Bill

WASHINGTON - September 21 - A bill approved by the U.S. House yesterday would require school districts around the country to establish policies making it easier for teachers and school officials to conduct wide scale searches of students. These searches could take the form of pat-downs, bag searches, or strip searches depending on how administrators interpret the law.

The Student Teacher Safety Act of 2006 (HR 5295) would require any school receiving federal funding--essentially every public school--to adopt policies allowing teachers and school officials to conduct random, warrantless searches of every student, at any time, on the flimsiest of pretexts. Saying they suspect that one student might have drugs could give officials the authority to search every student in the building.

DPA supporters and others who opposed this outrageous bill called their members of Congress this week to express their disapproval. However, House leaders circumvented the usual legislative procedure to bring the bill to a quick vote. It did not pass through the committee process, but went straight to the House floor. There, it was passed by a simple voice vote, so constituents cannot even find out how their Representative voted.

The bill moves next to the Senate, but it is unlikely to be considered there this session.

Bill Piper, DPA's director of national affairs, said, "It looks like this bill was rushed to the House floor to help out the sponsor, Rep. Geoff Davis (R-KY/4th), who is in a tight re-election race. This vote lets him say he's getting things done in Washington. But I would be surprised to see a similar push in the Senate."

HR 5295 is opposed in its current form by several groups, including the Drug Policy Alliance, Students for Sensible Drug Policy, the ACLU, the American Federation of Teachers, the National Parent Teacher Association, the American Association of School Administrators, and the National School Boards Association.

DPA will be watching the bill so that if and when it does come up again, this wide array of opponents can mobilize to stop it.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Pope Backlash Deals Blow to Interfaith Ties

The angry response to remarks on Islam has undermined efforts to forge better relations between Christians and Muslims, many say.

The L. A. Times reported today that:

ROME — At churches in Baghdad, parishioners hung signs to say they disagreed with the pope.

In Egypt, priests of the Orthodox Coptic Church denounced Pope Benedict XVI's remarks about Islam and said they wished he had considered the reaction before speaking.

In Lebanon, where bloody demonstrations erupted early this year over a Danish newspaper's caricatures of the prophet Muhammad, a Christian-Muslim dialogue committee asked imams to keep their Friday sermons calm.

The enraged response to the pope's speech last week, in which he quoted a 14th century Byzantine emperor who regarded teachings of Muhammad as "evil and inhuman," has dealt a stinging blow to decades of efforts by the Roman Catholic Church and others to ease tensions and open lines of communication between Muslims and Christians.

An apology by the pope Sunday has only partially quelled the anger.

In Christian communities in predominantly Muslim countries, many believers, leaders and laymen alike, have thought that safety required distancing themselves from the pope and his comments.

In Egypt, where 10% of the population of 79 million is Christian, residents remember days of sectarian fighting that erupted this spring in the normally genteel city of Alexandria, a sign of how volatile Muslim-Christian relations can be.

"Some of my best friends are Muslims, and so far we have adapted to live here as minorities," said William Harb Jaleel, 59, an employee of the Finance Ministry in Cairo and a Coptic Christian.

"But with the presences of Al Qaeda and its followers here, it really makes us an easy goal for these fanatics to target and kill us," he said. "So the last thing we need is for the pope to provoke anybody and escalate the already tense situations; we just hate to be the victims of stuff we were never responsible for."

In Lebanon, where nearly 40% of the population is Christian and where religious differences have long cleaved the country, there have been no calls for demonstrations and no violence associated with the pope's comments.

"But in the long term," said Father Samir Khalil Samir, director of an Arab Christian research center at St. Joseph University in Beirut, "there is a fear that Christians in the country and in other Arab states will feel insecure and encouraged to emigrate."

Building ties between Christians and Muslims was a hallmark of the papacy of the late John Paul II. He was the first pope to enter a mosque, and he often embraced believers of the three major monotheistic faiths — Judaism, Christianity and Islam — as brothers, all children of Abraham.

His efforts led to widely recognized progress in terms of dialogue, education and cooperation, which many scholars, clerics and ordinary worshipers say is now in jeopardy.

"This could nullify decades of efforts by the church to open up and reach out," said Paolo Branca, professor of Islamic studies at the Catholic University of Milan. "This is a gaffe that could damage the image of the pope's church, a church that is always careful and balanced in expressing itself."

The former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger is a very different pope than his predecessor, with a different approach, especially when it comes to Islam and interfaith dialogue. His priority is to condemn the extremist fundamentalism that he believes has hijacked Islam, part of a wider conviction that religion should not be used to justify violence.

The pope's supporters contend that the trouble that erupted after his comments proves his point, that some elements of Islam respond with violence before reason. But critics say Benedict's decision to illustrate that point by quoting was the decision of the theologian and professor that Ratzinger always had been, and not that of a politically savvy world leader.

Many in Rome believe Benedict signaled his diminished interest in interfaith dialogue when he demoted the Vatican office that handles it and dispatched its former president, Archbishop Michael Fitzgerald, to Cairo. Fitzgerald is considered a leading Catholic specialist in Islam, and his expertise is clearly missing in the Vatican today, critics say.

The complete story may be found here:,1,370541.story?track=crosspromo&coll=la-headlines-world&ctrack=1&cset=true

Group Claims: Mexico is haven for U.S. pedophile priests

Reuters reported today that:

MEXICO CITY - Weak law enforcement and compliant Church authorities make Mexico a haven for U.S. pedophile priests fleeing justice, a victims' group said on Wednesday.

The Survivors' Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, which helped bring a lawsuit this week against two of North America's top cardinals, said it knows of 46 mostly U.S. priests hiding out south of the border.

"Mexico has really become a secure place because here judicial authorities don't track them down and nothing happens," said group spokesman Eric Barragan.

The U.S. Catholic Church has been tarnished by a pedophile priest scandal that erupted in Boston in 2002 and spread to almost every diocese in the nation.

Several U.S. Catholic priests have been prosecuted, multimillion dollar payouts have been made to scores of pedophile victims and church files revealed that some bishops repeatedly transferred priests accused of abusing minors to other parishes rather than reporting them to police.

Barragan said Mexican pedophile priests, to a lesser degree, often flee to the United States.

His U.S.-based group helped filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles on Tuesday that accused Cardinal Roger Mahony of Los Angeles and Mexico City's Cardinal Norberto Rivera of allowing a priest wanted for multiple sex abuse to flee California for Mexico.

Rivera is Mexico's most senior Catholic clergyman and was mentioned as an outsider candidate last year to succeed Pope John Paul II.

The suit was brought by Mexican former altar boy Joaquin Aguilar, 25, who says he was raped by Catholic priest Nicolas Aguilar in Mexico in 1994.

It claims that Mahony facilitated Father Aguilar's flight to Mexico in 1988, when a U.S. warrant was issued for his arrest, without notifying law enforcement in Los Angeles.

Prosecutors were investigating allegations that he had abused more than 20 boys in the Los Angeles archdiocese.

Mahony's spokesman, Tod Tamberg, said the conspiracy charge was "preposterous and without foundation" and the Mexico City archdiocese said Rivera "feels at ease because there was no cover up."

SNAP said it had hired private investigators who tracked down Aguilar to rural southern Mexico where he has been saying Mass at a convent and three different parishes and living out of his car with no fixed address.

State of Female and Minority Media Ownership a ‘National Disgrace’

FCC Commissioners and civil rights leaders react to new study on lack of diversity among TV station owners

WASHINGTON - September 20 - Two Federal Communications Commissioners and a group of civil rights leaders today praised a new Free Press study for shining a light on the lack of female and minority-owned television stations in the United States.

The new study, Out of the Picture, criticizes the FCC for abandoning its responsibility to monitor and foster the diversity of media owners, while ignoring the impact of sweeping rule changes it has proposed.

"This is a very important study, but it is one that we should not have had to write," said S. Derek Turner, research director of Free Press and co-author of the study. "The FCC has the duty and responsibility to monitor and foster female and minority broadcast ownership. But the FCC has failed."

FCC Commissioners Jonathan Adelstein and Michael Copps — who have crisscrossed the country over the past three years to attend numerous local hearings on media consolidation — joined a press conference call today announcing the study's results.

"A bad situation has gotten worse while the FCC sat idly by and did nothing," Commissioner Adelstein said. "We have a legal and moral obligation to take immediate steps to make broadcast media and coverage more diverse. This study shows that allowing more media concentration will only aggravate what is already a pitiful lack of minority voices over the airwaves."

"There is something terribly wrong when women and minorities comprise such substantial parts of the U.S. population but own so few broadcast television stations," Commissioner Copps said. "This isn't just a problem. It's a national disgrace. This time the FCC needs to look before it leaps into another abyss. We just should not be voting again on changing media ownership rules unless and until we have tackled this problem and come up with initiatives to redress a crying national need."

The commissioners were joined on the call by civil rights leaders from the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, National Council of La Raza, Rainbow/PUSH and the Minority Media Telecommunications Council. Women's and religious groups also reacted to the results of the study.

"The findings here — the low levels of female and minority ownership — should be a national embarrassment," said Nancy Zerkin, deputy director of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights. "And the fact that some on the recent FCC have been more interested in giving more power to those who already have too much, rather than addressing decades of discrimination and ensuring that the little guy will get a chance, should be a national scandal."

"There are so few women's voices on broadcast television, and part of the absence of women's perspectives stems from the absence of women owners," said Kim Gandy, president of the National Organization for Women. "We are half of the population but only 5 percent of station owners. And the problem is getting worse — the increasing consolidation of ownership is making women invisible."

"In addition to being morally wrong, the lack of minority ownership is anticompetitive and inefficient," added David Honig, executive director of the Minority Media and Telecommunications Council. "It deprives America's television viewers of the entrepreneurial, managerial and creative skills of a third of the nation's people."

"Today Americans are realizing that it is important that each of us own a stake in America," said Cheryl A. Leanza, managing director of the United Church of Christ, Office of Communication Inc. "Yet some of us are still being left out of the most influential industry America has produced to date. This study demonstrates something we already intuitively realize that the people running the media industry do not represent most Americans and are not based in our communities."

Read Out of the Picture: Minority & Female TV Station Ownership in the United States at

Researchers reveal 'extremely serious' vulnerabilities in e-voting machines

Princeton University reported Sept 13, 2006 that:

In a paper published on the Web today, a group of Princeton computer scientists said they created demonstration vote-stealing software that can be installed within a minute on a common electronic voting machine. The software can fraudulently change vote counts without being detected.

"We have created and analyzed the code in the spirit of helping to guide public officials so that they can make wise decisions about how to secure elections," said Edward Felten, the director of the Center for Information Technology Policy, a new center at Princeton University that addresses crucial issues at the intersection of society and computer technology.

The paper appears on the Web site for the Center for Information Technology Policy.

The researchers obtained the machine, a Diebold AccuVote-TS, from a private party in May. They spent the summer analyzing the machine and developing the vote-stealing demonstration.

"We found that the machine is vulnerable to a number of extremely serious attacks that undermine the accuracy and credibility of the vote counts it produces," wrote Felten and his co-authors, graduate students Ariel Feldman and Alex Halderman.

In a 10-minute video on their Web site, the researchers demonstrate how the vote-stealing software works. The video shows the software sabotaging a mock presidential election between George Washington and Benedict Arnold. Arnold is reported as the winner even though Washington gets more votes. (The video is edited from a longer continuously shot video; the long single-shot version will be available for downloading from the center's site as well.)

The researchers also demonstrate how the machines "are susceptible to computer viruses that can spread themselves automatically and invisibly from machine to machine during normal pre- and post-election activity."

Felten said that policy-makers should be concerned about malicious software infecting the Diebold AccuVote-TS and machines like it, from Diebold and other companies. "We studied these machines because they were available to us," the researchers wrote in their Web posting. "If we had gotten access to another kind of machine, we probably would have studied it instead."

Felten said, "There is reason for concern about other machines as well, even though our paper doesn't directly evaluate them. Jurisdictions using these machines should think seriously about finding a backup system in time for the November elections."

Felten, a professor of computer science and public affairs who is known for his groundbreaking work in computer security, said that some of the problems discussed in the paper cannot be fixed without completely redesigning the machine.

Other problems can be fixed by addressing software or electronic procedures. "But time is short before the next election," he said.

According to the researchers' paper, the Diebold machine they examined and another newer version are scheduled to be used in 357 U.S. counties representing nearly 10 percent of all registered voters. About half those counties, including all Maryland and Georgia, will use the exact machine examined by Felten's group.

Felten said that, out of security concerns, the Diebold machine infected with the vote-stealing software has been kept under lock and key in a secret location.

"Unfortunately election fraud has a rich history from ballot stuffing to dead people voting," he said. "We want to make sure this doesn't fall into the wrong hands. We also want to make sure that policy-makers stay a step ahead of those who might create similar software with ill intent."

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

A warm welcome on Back to Church Sunday

From the Official Church of England Site:

19 September 2006

Sweet temptation for returning worshippers.

People are inviting friends and family to join them in church on Sunday, September 24th as part of Back to Church Sunday.

Returnees will receive a warm welcome and free chocolate – all part of the special day.

Hundreds of churches across the Dioceses of Derby, Ripon and Leeds, Manchester, Wakefield, Oxford, Guildford, Hereford and individual churches around the country have taken delivery of their Back to Church Box.

Resources include invitations, posters and banners bearing the love-heart logo and the message ‘wish you were here’.

Churchgoers will use the resources to advertise the day and invite family and friends who have lost touch with church.

Gifts for newcomers include a goody bag with brochures featuring different aspects of church life – and a free bar of Traidcraft fair trade chocolate.

Researchers at the University of Staffordshire will measure the responses from people returning to churches and build up a picture of how and why people reconnect with church after a time away.

The Bishop of Ripon and Leeds, the Rt Rev John Packer said: “People lose touch with church for all sorts of reasons. But we know some are looking for a way back to church and a personal invitation can make all the difference.”

One person who came back to church last year was Stuart Dormand, 24, from Wakefield. Stuart got to know Elsie when they worked together in Leeds and she invited him to come back to church with her. Stuart had sung in the church choir as a boy, but he’d never considered church was for him until Elsie invited him.

Stuart found the church, Christ Church, South Osset in the Diocese of Wakefield, warm and welcoming.

He said: “Going back to church for me was the best decision I have ever made – I really love it. I would never even have considered it without the invite from Elsie.”

Peter Collins, Traidcraft’s head of church relations said:

“People in churches have been at the forefront of Traidcraft’s work around the world for years: helping people to help themselves. So it is with this gift of chocolate - it’s a gift that makes a difference for good.”


Back to Church Sunday was first trialed in the Diocese of Manchester in 2004, when more than 900 people came back to church. In 2005, the Diocese of Wakefield joined in with similar results. Downloadable images and stories are available.

Traidcraft was established in 1979 as a Christian response to poverty. It works with people of all faiths by trading with them directly, supporting them with training and information, and by influencing policy makers to pull down the barriers which stop the poor enjoying their fair share of world trade.

Malaysia says Pope's apology over remarks on Islam is acceptable

The AP reported today that:

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia Pope Benedict XVI's expression of regret following his remarks on Islam and violence is acceptable, but the pontiff should avoid making future comments that could offend Muslims, Malaysia's prime minister said.

"I think we can accept it and we hope there are no more statements that can anger the Muslims," Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi told Malaysian journalists late Monday in New York, where he is attending the U.N. General Assembly.

Malaysia, which chairs the 57-member Organization of the Islamic Conference, the world's biggest Muslim bloc, previously demanded that the pope offer a full apology and retract what he said.

Abdullah's comments, carried Tuesday by the national news agency Bernama, came after he met with U.S. President George W. Bush, who told the Malaysian leader he believed that Benedict was sincere in apologizing following the angry response of Muslims to his recent speech.

"When I touched on the matter during our discussions just now, I noted that it sparked intense reactions because the one who uttered it was the pope himself," Abdullah said. "The pope is not just any other person. That's why there has been much anger."

Benedict has said he "sincerely regrets" offending Muslims with his reference in a speech last week in Germany to an obscure medieval text that characterizes some of the teachings of Islam's founder as "evil and inhuman."

He said Sunday that he was "deeply sorry" about the angry reaction and that the remarks came from a text that didn't reflect his own opinion.

But the statement stopped short of the apology demanded by Islamic leaders around the globe amid one of the biggest international crises involving the Holy See in decades.

Canadian terror suspect tortured in Syria after 'rendition' by US

The Independent Online reported today that:

Campaigners have demanded that the Bush administration be held accountable for the illegal seizure of a Canadian citizen who was handed over to Syrian authorities and subsequently tortured.

They said the case of Maher Arar, who was cleared by a Canadian public inquiry of being any threat to that country's national security, exposed the faults of President Bush's "war on terror".

The inquiry concluded that Mr Arar, who was seized by US agents while changing planes at a New York airport in 2002 and incarcerated in Syria for 10 months, was the victim of false information about his alleged link to al-Qa'ida being passed by Canadian police to the US.

"I am able to say categorically that there is no evidence to indicate that Mr Arar has committed any offence or that his activities constitute a threat to the security of Canada," Dennis O'Connor, the Associate Chief Justice of Ontario who carried out the inquiry, said in the report.

Mr Arar, who was born in Syria, has detailed how he was tortured, beaten and whipped with electrical cable during his incarceration. The commission concluded Mr Arar's experiences in jail "fit squarely with the publicly reported Syrian practices of torturing prisoners".

At a press conference after the release of the report on Monday, Mr Arar said: "Justice O'Connor has cleared my name and restored my reputation. I call on the government of Canada to accept the findings of this report and hold these people responsible."

He added: "I have waited a long time to have my name cleared. I was tortured and lost a year of my life. I will never be the same. The United States must take responsibility for what it did to me and must stop destroying more innocent lives with its unlawful actions."

The conclusions of the inquiry - with which the US and Syrian authorities refused to co-operate - include a number of recommendations for the Canadian authorities, particularly the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. But campaigners said the inquiry exposed the unaccountability of the Bush administration and its ability to seize foreign citizens without a court order and arrange for their incarceration by governments known to have a record of torture.

Julia Hall, a campaigner with Human Rights Watch, said: "[The report] is only half justice for Maher Arar. There will not be justice until the US government is held accountable for these illegal transfers... Until there is a full exposé of the US's role there will only be half justice for Maher."

The US has been condemned for its "rendition" of prisoners to other countries where they have been covertly incarcerated and sometimes tortured.

The inquiry concluded that there was no evidence that Canadian officials participated in or agreed to the decision to send Mr Arar to Syria. But it recommended that in future cases information should not be provided to a foreign country where there is a risk that it could lead to a person being tortured.

Justice O'Connor recommended that the Canadian government file formal complaints with the US and Syrian governments. "They removed him to Syria against his wishes and in the face of his statements that he would be tortured if sent there," he said.

The complete story may be found here:

Monday, September 18, 2006

Ney resigns from 2 committee posts

The AP reported today that:

WASHINGTON - Rep. Bob Ney, who has agreed to plead guilty to federal corruption charges, stepped down from two House committee positions Monday but did not say whether he would leave Congress.

The Ohio Republican said in two letters to House Speaker
Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., that he would immediately give up his positions as chairman of the Housing and Community Opportunity subcommittee, which oversees the U.S.
Department of Housing and Urban Development, and as head of the Franking Commission, which governs lawmakers' use of public money to express opinions in mailings.

Ohio Republican Party Chairman Bob Bennett called on Ney to resign Friday, soon after it was announced that Ney would plead guilty to making false statements and conspiracy to commit fraud, make other false statements and violate U.S. lobbying restrictions. The congressman is expected to plead guilty Oct. 13.

Ney has not participated in House floor votes since Sept. 12, House records show. The House returns to session Tuesday.

When asked if Ney was working Monday, his chief of staff, David Popp, said he could not comment on whether Ney would return to his elected duties before his term expires in January. Ney earlier dropped his re-election bid.

Ney's lawyer William Lawler declined to comment on the committee resignations or if the congressman had made any decisions about keeping or leaving his House seat. Last week, Lawler said Ney wasn't ready to resign and was seeking treatment for alcohol abuse.

Hastert was in Russia on Monday and not available for comment on whether he wants Ney to resign, spokesman Ron Bonjean said.

Archbishop Milingo defies warning from Rome

CWNews reported today that:

Sep. 18 - The Vatican has warned Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo that he risks suspension if he continues to flout Church discipline, the African prelate has told Associated Press.

Archbishop Milingo spoke on Sunday evening, September 17, at a New Jersey conference organized by proponents of a married priesthood. He was accompanied by Maria Sung (who now identifies herself as Maria Milingo), the Korean woman to whom he was joined by Rev. Sun Myung Moon in a mass ceremony organized by the Unification Church in 2001.

Since his return to the Catholic Church after that attempted marriage in 2001, Archbishop Milingo had lived quietly outside Rome until this summer, when he unexpectedly left Italy, traveled to the US, and appeared at a forum in Washington, DC, arguing for married priests. He has continued to lobby for an end to priestly celibacy, while telling reporters that he has joined other former Catholic priests associated with the Moon cult.

Archbishop Milingo showed Associated Press a letter from Cardinal Giovanni Battista , the prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, warning him to cease his activities, which the cardinal described as "completely contrary to the obligation of every bishop." The African archbishop said that he had no intention of complying with the Vatican demand.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Pope stops short of apology to Muslims

The AP reported today that:

Pope Benedict XVI "sincerely regrets" offending Muslims with his reference to an obscure medieval text that characterizes some of the teachings of Islam's founder as "evil and inhuman," the
Vatican said Saturday.

But the statement stopped short of the apology demanded by Islamic leaders around the globe, and anger among Muslims remained intense. Palestinians attacked five churches in the
West Bank and Gaza over the pope's remarks Tuesday in a speech to university professors in his native Germany.

An Iraqi insurgent group threatened the Vatican with a suicide attack over the pope's remarks on Islam, according to a statement posted Saturday on the Web.

"We swear to God to send you people who adore death as much as you adore life," said the message posted in the name of the Mujahedeen Army on a Web site frequently used by militant groups. The message's authenticity could not be independently verified. The statement was addressed to "you dog of Rome" and threatens to "shake your thrones and break your crosses in your home."

In a broader talk rejecting any religious motivation for violence, Benedict cited the words of a Byzantine emperor who characterized some of the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad as "evil and inhuman," particularly "his command to spread by the sword the faith."

The pontiff did not endorse that description, but he did not question it, and his words set off a firestorm of protests across the Muslim world.

The new Vatican secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, said the pope's position on Islam is unmistakably in line with Vatican teaching that says the church "esteems" Muslims.

Benedict "thus sincerely regrets that certain passages of his address could have sounded offensive to the sensitivities of the Muslim faithful and should have been interpreted in a manner that in no way corresponds to his intentions," Bertone said in a statement.

He noted that earlier during his German trip, Benedict warned "secularized Western culture" against holding contempt for any religion or believers.

Bertone said the pontiff sought in his university speech to condemn all religious motivation for violence, "from whatever side it may come." But the pope's words only seemed to fan rage.

Bertone's statement, released Saturday by the Vatican press office, failed to satisfy critics, although British Muslim leaders said it was a welcome step.

Mohammed Bishr, a senior Muslim Brotherhood member in Egypt, said the statement "was not an apology" but a "pretext that the pope was quoting somebody else as saying so and so."

"We need the pope to admit the big mistake he has committed and then agree on apologizing, because we will not accept others to apologize on his behalf," Bishr said.

There was no indication whether the pope would do so. His first public appearance since his return from Germany was set for Sunday, when Benedict planned to greet the faithful at Castel Gandolfo, the papal summer residence in the Alban Hills near Rome.

Morocco recalled its ambassador to the Vatican on Saturday to protest the pope's "offensive" remarks, and Afghanistan demanded the pope apologize.

Turkey cast some doubt on whether Benedict could proceed with a planned visit in November in what would be the pontiff's first trip to a Muslim nation.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan insisted the pope apologize to the Muslim world, saying he had spoken "not like a man of religion but like a usual politician."

Asked if Muslim anger would affect the pope's trip to Istanbul, where he hopes to meet with Orthodox leaders headquartered there, Erdogan replied, "I wouldn't know."

The complete story may be found here:

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Friends of the Earth State:Singaporean Crackdown Jeopardizes World Bank Credibility

SINGAPORE - September 14 - The World Bank's credibility is in jeopardy. Most of the 500 campaigners accredited to attend the Sept. 19-20 Singapore World Bank and International Monetary Fund annual meetings, usually attended by hundreds of campaigners, will boycott their meetings with the Bank.

As of today, the boycott that Friends of the Earth International and others called for has been joined by more than 80 social, environmental and small farmers' organizations from around the world.

They will boycott all meetings planned with the World Bank in Singapore, to protest the city-state's expulsion and ban of international activists who were officially accredited by the World Bank to attend the meetings.

"The World Bank's demand to Singapore to accept the banned campaigners is too little and comes way too late. The Bank ignored calls not to choose Singapore for its Annual Meeting while knowing that a ban on protests was likely to be put in place. What is happening in Singapore is another blow to the little that was left of the World Bank's credibility" said Longgena Ginting, who coordinates Friends of the Earth International's Financial Institutions campaign.

Singaporean authorities set up a list of at least 28 people to be banned from Singapore because they would pose a 'security risk'. These campaigners were accredited by the IMF and World Bank.

"In solidarity with those denied entry into Singapore and denied the exercise of their fundamental rights to freedom of expression and association, we will stay away from all meetings and seminars in the official programme at the World Bank and IMF 2006 annual meetings," the groups said in a joint statement.

Friends of the Earth International considers the Singaporean government's ban a grave violation of the principles of democracy and good governance.


Chona Ramos from GCAP Asia and Booby Diciembre from Jubilee South , who were organizing the International Peoples's Forum (a Sept. 15-17 event due to take place in Batam, Indonesia, in parallel to the World Bank/IMF meetings) have been deported from Singapore. Filomeno Santa Ana, an established economist and academic on development finance and economic governance from the Philippines is currently being detained by the Singaporean immigration authorities at Changi international airport, as is a representative of ActionAid Vietnam.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

No Deal at Episcopal Meeting

The AP reported today that:

NEW YORK - Inching toward a break with the church over homosexuality, conservative Episcopal bishops failed to win approval Wednesday for their request to stay in the denomination without answering to its national leader, who supports gay relationships.

The proposal was the subject of a private meeting of 11 Episcopal bishops, organized at the request of Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams. Williams is trying to keep the Episcopal Church and the world Anglican Communion unified despite deep rifts over how to interpret Bible verses on gay sex.

In a joint statement, the bishops said they recognized the need to accommodate the seven dioceses that have rejected the authority of Presiding Bishop-elect Katharine Jefferts Schori. But they said they "were unable to come to common agreement on the way forward."

They pledged to "work together until we have reached the solution God holds out for us."

In a separate statement, Williams, the spiritual leader of the communion, said it was a "positive sign" that the talks occurred and that the "process at work" will continue. The Episcopal Church is the U.S. arm of the global Anglican fellowship.

In 2003, the American denomination caused an uproar when it consecrated its first openly gay bishop, V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire. This past June, the divisions intensified when the Episcopal General Convention elected Jefferts Schori, who will be installed Nov. 4.

The first woman elected to lead the church, Jefferts Schori is open to gay ordinations.

The seven conservative dioceses at odds with the denomination are asking Williams for alternative oversight from an Anglican leader who shares their traditional views. The dioceses are Dallas; Central Florida; Fort Worth, Texas; Fresno, Calif.; Pittsburgh; Springfield, Ill., and South Carolina. Two more dioceses - Quincy, Ill., and Albany, N.Y. - are considering a similar request.

Among the bishops who participated in the three-day talks were Jefferts Schori and Pittsburgh Bishop Robert Duncan, leader of a network of Episcopal conservatives. Williams also sent a representative, Canon Kenneth Kearon, the secretary general of the Anglican Communion.

In a phone interview, Duncan said that Jefferts Schori and outgoing Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold "genuinely wanted to do something" to help conservatives, but believed they did not have the authority to do so without consulting church governing bodies first. Instead, Williams and world Anglican leaders will have to take up the proposal, Duncan said.

Anglican archbishops are scheduled to meet next February in Tanzania.

The seven dioceses issued a joint appeal to Williams in July, describing themselves as "threatened by a hostile" national church which they accused of "arrogance" in their response to conservatives. The dioceses noted that many U.S. parishes that oppose ordaining gays have already broken away and joined conservative Anglican dioceses in Africa and Latin America.

"There are two churches under one roof," Duncan said.

Griswold said it was clear after the meeting that the church needed a "changed environment in which controversial points of view are not treated as beyond the community."

"They have a place within the community to be taken seriously and respected as held by genuine people of faith," he said.

Conservatives are a minority in the 2.3-million-member U.S. church, but a split could still cause extensive damage. A break would likely prompt expensive and bitter legal fights over parishes that want to take their property with them as they leave.

The complete story may be found here:

Christian Aid Joins Call for Boycott of Finance Meetings as Singapore Crackdown Intensifies

WASHINGTON - September 13 - Christian Aid is urging a boycott by civil society groups of this year’s annual meetings of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank (WB) in Singapore as authorities there continue to ban their representatives from entering the country.

Overnight (between Tuesday and Wednesday) the number of supporters of development and human rights groups who have been refused entry to Singapore has risen from 19 to 28. This includes Christian Aid partner Focus on the Global South.

‘This is an extremely disappointing development by the Singaporean authorities,’ said John McGhie, Christian Aid’s Campaigns Editor. ‘We are now keen to lend our full support to the international call for an immediate boycott of all formal talks with either the Bank or the Fund in Singapore. It would be a travesty to hold cosy chats with their officials while so many of our colleagues are being denied entry to the country.’

The decision by the IMF and WB to site talks in Singapore, a country which has previously proved robust in quelling dissent, has aroused widespread suspicion that the organisations are keen to suppress criticism of their work.

The IMF’s practice of attaching damaging economic conditions to its loans has proved extremely controversial. Christian Aid is holding a march in London tomorrow (Thursday) to highlight these issues and it had been hoped that the criticisms would have been aired at a series of multilateral meetings in Singapore between civil society groups and the IMF.

But now, in the wake of the refusal by Singaporean authorities to let the 28 people attend the meetings, Christian Aid is adding its voice to the call for a boycott of all civil society dialogues with either the IMF or the WB.

The move is bound to embarrass Bank officials in particular. The WB’s new Director General, Paul Wolfowitz, a former member of US President’s George Bush’s cabinet, has spent his first few months in office pursuing a ‘governance’ agenda that sought to eliminate corruption in developing countries. In order to achieve this he was leaning heavily on civil society groups for both credibility and implementation..

‘It is farcical for the Bank and the Fund to meet and discuss human rights in a country where human rights are restricted. It shows how out of step with reality they are and underscores our argument that the UK government should withdraw funding from both the IMF and the World Bank. These organisations are illegitimate because they seek to impose damaging conditions on loans. It is high time they reformed, ‘said Anna Thomas, Christian Aid’s senior policy manager.

Meanwhile fears are growing that legitimate members of civil society groups who make it through could be attacked by street thugs when they attend an alternative Forum to be staged in nearby Indonesia.

The Indonesian newspaper Batam Post last week (Sept 8) reported a local police chief promising to disrupt the meeting of 500 or so civil society supporters with the help of a notorious local youth group who have a long history of street fighting and violence.

Impressive Gains in Global Ban on Antipersonnel Mines

But Global Mine Action Funding Falls and Reported Mine Casualties Increase

GENEVA - September 13 – There was a decrease in use of antipersonnel mines by both government and rebel forces in 2005 and the first half of 2006, according to a 1,230-page report released today by the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL). The report details impressive gains in the global ban on antipersonnel landmines, but highlights areas of serious concern as well. “International rejection of antipersonnel mines continues to take hold more and more firmly,” said Steve Goose, director of Human Rights Watch’s Arms Division. “More than three-quarters of the world’s nations have embraced the Mine Ban Treaty, and even most of those who haven’t yet joined are largely obeying it,” he added. The treaty prohibits use, production, and trade of antipersonnel landmines. It requires clearance of mined areas within 10 years and the destruction of stockpiled antipersonnel mines within four years.

Since December 2005, Ukraine, which has the world’s fourth biggest stockpile of antipersonnel mines, and three other countries have ratified the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty, bringing the number of states parties to 151. Four countries have completed destruction of their antipersonnel stockpiles: Algeria, Democratic Republic of Congo, Guinea-Bissau, and Nigeria. In addition, more than 740 square kilometers, an area the size of New York City, was demined in 2005, a new record. Guatemala and Suriname completed clearance of all their minefields.

However, international funding for mine action fell for the first time in 2005, raising concerns about future efforts to eradicate antipersonnel mines. Donors provided $376 million in 2005, the second highest level ever, but a decrease of $23 million (about 6 percent) from the previous year. Moreover, the number of reported landmine casualties increased to 7,328 in 2005, up about 11 percent, mostly due to expanded conflict in a number of countries. Because many casualties go unreported, Landmine Monitor estimates the true number to be some 15,000-20,000 each year.

Landmine Monitor Report 2006: Toward a Mine-Free World, the eighth in the annual series, documents compliance with the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty, as well as efforts to deal with the consequences of antipersonnel mines in all countries. Human Rights Watch is a founding member of the ICBL, which received the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize, and is one of four ICBL organizations coordinating the Landmine Monitor project. In particular, Human Rights Watch tracks landmine policy, use, production, stockpiling, and trade for Landmine Monitor.

Only three governments are confirmed to have used antipersonnel mines in 2005 and the first half of 2006: Burma (Myanmar), Nepal, and Russia. The most extensive use was in Burma, where the army reportedly planted antipersonnel mines in civilian areas to terrorize the local population. Use in Nepal halted with the May 2006 cease-fire, and both the government and the Maoists agreed to a Code of Conduct that prohibits use of landmines. Russia’s use of antipersonnel mines in Chechnya appeared to be limited. At least four governments used antipersonnel mines in 2004 and 2003, six in 2002, nine in 2001, and 13 in 2000.

Landmine Monitor recorded use of antipersonnel mines, or antipersonnel mine-like improvised explosive devices, by non-state armed groups in at least 10 countries in 2005-2006: Burma, Burundi, Colombia, Guinea-Bissau, India, Iraq, Nepal, Pakistan, Russia (Chechnya), and Somalia. In 2004, rebel groups used landmines in at least 13 countries; in 2003 in 16, in 2002 in 11, in 2001 in 14, and in 2000 in 18.

Guinea-Bissau, where Senegalese rebels used mines against the Guinea-Bissau Army in March and April 2006, was added to the list of rebel uses this year, while Georgia, the Philippines, Turkey, and Uganda were removed. The biggest mine users were FARC in Colombia, and the Karen National Liberation Army and a handful of other rebel groups in Burma. Landmine Monitor is investigating allegations that Hezbollah used landmines in Lebanon during the conflict with Israel in July and August 2006, but most reports seem to indicate use of antivehicle mines and command-detonated devices rather than antipersonnel mines.

The number of producers of antipersonnel mines remained at 13, including Burma, China, Cuba, India, Iran, North Korea, South Korea, Nepal, Pakistan, Russia, Singapore, the United States, and Vietnam. Although Vietnam told a visiting delegation from Canada in November 2005 that it has stopped production, it has not made an official declaration. In some cases, such as the United States and South Korea, the countries have not actually produced antipersonnel mines in a number of years, but reserve the right to do so. In the United States, Congress put on hold the Pentagon’s plans to begin production of a new munition called “Spider” that can function as an antipersonnel mine. At least 38 states have stopped production of antipersonnel mines, including Finland, Israel, Poland, and most recently Egypt and Iraq – none of which have joined the Mine Ban Treaty.

A total of 74 states parties to the Mine Ban Treaty have now destroyed their stockpiled antipersonnel mines, for a combined total of about 39.5 million antipersonnel mines, including about 700,000 in the past year. Only 13 states parties still have stocks to destroy.

There were no confirmed instances of antipersonnel mine transfers in 2005 and 2006. However, in May 2006, the U.N. arms embargo monitoring group on Somalia reported that the government of Eritrea – a member of the Mine Ban Treaty – had delivered 1,000 antipersonnel mines to militant fundamentalists in Somalia. Eritrea, which has officially declared that it no longer possesses any antipersonnel mines, strongly denied the charge. For the past decade, global trade in antipersonnel mines has consisted solely of a low-level of illicit and unacknowledged transfers.

In addition to Ukraine, recent additions to the Mine Ban Treaty are Haiti, the Cook Islands, and Brunei. Three countries have signed but not yet ratified the treaty; of those, Indonesia and Poland have initiated the procedures to ratify in the near future, while the Marshall Islands status is less clear.

Forty countries remain outside the treaty, including China, Russia, and the United States. In one notable indicator of the expanding acceptance of the ban on antipersonnel mines, in December 2005, more of the 40 non-signatories to the treaty supported the annual U.N. General Assembly resolution calling for adherence to the Mine Ban Treaty than abstained on the vote (18 in favor, 17 abstaining, and five absent). Among those voting in favor of the pro-ban resolution for the first time were China and Azerbaijan; others included Armenia, Finland, Georgia, Iraq, Kuwait, Morocco, Nepal, Singapore, Somalia, and Sri Lanka.