foreign-affairs

OTTAWA – Canada has formally opposed Palestinian attempts to join 15 different United Nations treaties and conventions – a position that puts the federal government on the wrong side of history and at odds with its citizenry, the Palestinian envoy in Ottawa says.

Canada is objecting in writing to the UN because it maintains Palestine is not a legal state. The Palestinians have formally replied to Canada’s objections in writing, issuing a pointed reminder that they won non-member observer status in November 2012 at the UN General Assembly.

The dispute has sparked the most scathing Palestinian criticism to date of the Harper government’s unwavering support of Israel.

“It pains the Palestinians to know that Canada is trying to exclude us from our rightful place in the family of nations. It is awkward to see a great country like Canada relegated to the role of cheerleader for Israeli extremists at the UN,” Said Hamad, the chief representative of the Palestinian delegation to Canada, said in an emailed response to questions.

“When future Canadians look back at Canada’s positions during this time they will be appalled that their country was so boldly opposed to justice and so far on the wrong side of history,” he added.

“We invite Canada to pursue a position of its own – rather than parrot policies developed by the Likud Party and its ultranationalist allies – on the matter of Palestinian freedom.” […]

It’s the most frustrating thing to be a teenager who wants to change the world, since we have little power. We watch movies with children soldiers, starvation, murder, diseases that could be cured easily in America. We drive down the streets and see people with no home, no shoes. We sit on a comfy couch with our Iphones, left overs on our plates, an education being part of the law. We complain about school, we complain that our computers are too slow, we even complain that we don’t have the latest model phone; which people in the Congo are literally being killed in the process of gathering the materials. We complain and complain. All the while, here are these people. Here are these people who are brainwashed into killing, people who are born into a world where they must walk two miles every morning just to get dirty water. And we sit and complain about the things we are blessed to have. We may not be able to stop wars. We may not be able to solve the problems of the world. But we damn sure can change our attitudes. We damn sure can change ourselves.
—  an 18 year old who is fuirous at what this world has become
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The Truth About Obama’s Failed Foreign Policy in 2014

The Canadian government is refusing to say whether it obtained assurances that light armoured vehicles being sold to Saudi Arabia in a massive $15-billion deal would not be used against the Saudi people – a key guarantee required by federal export controls when arms are destined for countries with a “persistent record of serious violations of the human rights of their citizens.” […]

Canada is developing stronger ties with the Saudis. Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird’s department has made a get-together between him and Turki al-Faisal, a leading member of the Saudi royal family, a “Priority A” goal for his visit to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, this week, documents obtained by The Globe and Mail show. […]

The government is required to demonstrate “there is no reasonable risk that the goods might be used against the civilian population” before it approves applications for export permits to countries with persistent records of violating the rights of their citizens.

Ottawa, however, won’t say whether it has determined this to be the case with the light armoured vehicles (LAVs) heading to Saudi Arabia. […]

The Crown corporation brokering the deal refuses to say how many LAVs Canada will supply to Saudi Arabia, citing a confidentiality clause in the deal, although Ken Epps, with Project Ploughshares, an anti-war group, estimates it’s hundreds, if not thousands. Ottawa also won’t say whether Canada is installing weapons on the LAVs before they’re shipped, again citing confidentiality.

Mr. Epps, who tracks arms shipments as part of his work, said he does not believe Ottawa could have assured itself the LAVs wouldn’t be used against Saudi civilians before approving the transaction.

“The sole remaining conclusion is that the Canadian government deliberately ignored its own guidelines to allow this unprecedented military sale to proceed,” Mr. Epps said.

Max Moncaster, spokesman for International Trade Minister Ed Fast, noted that Canada’s history of supplying LAVs to the Saudis dates back decades, to at least 1993.

He said Canada always ensures that exports of controlled goods such as arms are “consistent with Canada’s foreign and defence policies.”

Alex Neve, secretary-general of Amnesty International Canada, points to how the Saudis have used armoured vehicles in the past. “[They] are known to use armoured vehicles and other weapons in dispersing peaceful protest, such as the role that Saudi security forces played in helping crush popular protests in Bahrain during the Arab Spring,” he said. […]

A new military doctrine signed by President Vladimir Putin identified NATO as Russia’s number one military threat and raised the possibility of a broader use of precision conventional weapons to deter foreign aggression.

The new doctrine was signed on Friday, and it maintains the provisions of the 2010 edition of the military doctrine regarding the use of nuclear weapons.

The doctrine, which came amid tensions over Ukraine, reflected the Kremlin’s readiness to take a stronger posture in response to what it sees as US-led efforts to isolate and weaken Russia.

Russia’s relations with the West have plummeted to their lowest level since Cold War times, and NATO cut off ties to Moscow after it annexed Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula in March.

The doctrine says Russia could employ nuclear weapons in retaliation for the use of nuclear or other weapons of mass destruction against the country or its allies, and also in the case of aggression involving conventional weapons that “threatens the very existence” of the Russian state.

For the first time, the new doctrine says Russia could use precision weapons “as part of strategic deterrent measures”, the Associated Press reported.

Examples of precision conventional weapons include ground-to-ground missiles, air- and submarine-launched cruise missiles, guided bombs and artillery shells.

The document does not spell out when and how Moscow could resort to such weapons.

Cuba’s Impressive Role on Ebola


Cuba is an impoverished island that remains largely cut off from the world and lies about 4,500 miles from the West African nations where Ebola is spreading at an alarming rate. Yet, having pledged to deploy hundreds of medical professionals to the front lines of the pandemic, Cuba stands to play the most robust role among the nations seeking to contain the virus.

Cuba’s contribution is doubtlessly meant at least in part to bolster its beleaguered international standing. Nonetheless, it should be lauded and emulated.

The global panic over Ebola has not brought forth an adequate response from the nations with the most to offer. While the United States and several other wealthy countries have been happy to pledge funds, only Cuba and a few nongovernmental organizations are offering what is most needed: medical professionals in the field.

Doctors in West Africa desperately need support to establish isolation facilities and mechanisms to detect cases early. More than 400 medical personnel have been infected and about 4,500 patients have died. The virus has shown up in the United States and Europe, raising fears that the epidemic could soon become a global menace.

It is a shame that Washington, the chief donor in the fight against Ebola, is diplomatically estranged from Havana, the boldest contributor. In this case the schism has life-or-death consequences, because American and Cuban officials are not equipped to coordinate global efforts at a high level. This should serve as an urgent reminder to the Obama administration that the benefits of moving swiftly to restore diplomatic relations with Cuba far outweigh the drawbacks.

The Cuban health care workers will be among the most exposed foreigners, and some could very well contract the virus. The World Health Organization is directing the team of Cuban doctors, but it remains unclear how it would treat and evacuate Cubans who become sick. Transporting quarantined patients requires sophisticated teams and specially configured aircraft. Most insurance companies that provide medical evacuation services have said they will not be flying Ebola patients.

Secretary of State John Kerry on Friday praised “the courage of any health care worker who is undertaking this challenge,” and made a brief acknowledgment of Cuba’s response. As a matter of good sense and compassion, the American military, which now has about 550 troops in West Africa, should commit to giving any sick Cuban access to the treatment center the Pentagon built in Monrovia and to assisting with evacuation.

The work of these Cuban medics benefits the entire global effort and should be recognized for that. But Obama administration officials have callously declined to say what, if any, support they would give them.

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Mariano Vidal

25 minutes ago

Another pro-Castro article from the folks who brought us the 50-plus year reign of King Castro and now his humble servant the dauphin Prince…

Ian MacFarlane

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Regardless the propaganda we generate, since Castro overthrew Batista Cuba has always put America to shame, but we are just too smug and…

mary louise reynolds

25 minutes ago

I have never understood why as a government we have been so opposed to Cuba. The Cuban government has always been quick to respond to world…

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The Cuban health sector is aware of the risks of taking on dangerous missions. Cuban doctors assumed the lead role in treating cholera patients in the aftermath of Haiti’s earthquake in 2010. Some returned home sick, and then the island had its first outbreak of cholera in a century. An outbreak of Ebola on the island could pose a far more dangerous risk and increase the odds of a rapid spread in the Western Hemisphere.

Continue reading the main story Continue reading the main story Continue reading the main story

Cuba has a long tradition of dispatching doctors and nurses to disaster areas abroad. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the Cuban government created a quick-reaction medical corps and offered to send doctors to New Orleans. The United States, unsurprisingly, didn’t take Havana up on that offer. Yet officials in Washington seemed thrilled to learn in recent weeks that Cuba had activated the medical teams for missions in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea.

With technical support from the World Health Organization, the Cuban government trained 460 doctors and nurses on the stringent precautions that must be taken to treat people with the highly contagious virus. The first group of 165 professionals arrived in Sierra Leone in recent days. José Luis Di Fabio, the World Health Organization’s representative in Havana, said Cuban medics were uniquely suited for the mission because many had already worked in Africa. “Cuba has very competent medical professionals,” said Mr. Di Fabio, who is Uruguayan. Mr. Di Fabio said Cuba’s efforts to aid in health emergencies abroad are stymied by the embargo the United States imposes on the island, which struggles to acquire modern equipment and keep medical shelves adequately stocked.

In a column published over the weekend in Cuba’s state-run newspaper, Granma, Fidel Castro argued that the United States and Cuba must put aside their differences, if only temporarily, to combat a deadly scourge. He’s absolutely right.

Revolutionary Eye:- The source for this article is The New York Times.I would take this article is a signal of impending rapprochement between the USA and Cuba.

Like a lot of Canadians, I watched Tuesday evening as Parliament voted to endorse the government’s plans to contribute CF-18s and personnel to the fight against Islamic State in Iraq. And like a lot of those Canadians, I was appalled by the tub-thumping tone of the closing debate — the way the government bench seemed determined to treat this as a ‘win’, rather than the most solemn and serious step a government can take.

Over the past several weeks the debate in the Commons over the appropriate role for Canada to play in this widening conflict hasn’t always reflected the fact that sending troops into harm’s way carries enormous consequences — for those doing the fighting and for the governments doing the sending. But once the ridiculous phase of the debate was safely past, Question Period started to resemble a serious exchange of ideas — which is what it’s supposed to look like. This was welcome, as was the government’s acknowledgement that it ought to seek Parliament’s support before ordering any combat mission.

The debate surrounding Tuesday night’s vote, however, was a long step backward. Government members jumped to their feet, smiling and cheering, as the prime minister rose to vote. The usual sequence of ridiculous Commons stunts followed — the thumbs-up gestures, the cat-calls. When Speaker Andrew Scheer rose to announce the motion’s passage, the government benches erupted in cheers and triumphant laughter.

If you hadn’t known better, you wouldn’t have thought this was a vote about a war. You might have assumed we were shaving another point off the GST. […]

Preventing Haiti's Next Crisis | Foreign Affairs

Preventing Haiti’s Next Crisis | Foreign Affairs

Martelly, a duvalierist, or an heir to the François (Papa Doc) and Jean-Claude (Baby Doc) dictatorships, is now ruling by decree, an unconstitutional situation that harks back to Haiti’s long tradition of violent, authoritarian rule. In mid-December, Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe resigned, and on Christmas day, in an attempt to salvage his presidency, Martelly appointed Evans Paul, a…

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Morning Headlines for Wednesday, March 4, 2015

AFP

“Netanyahu U.S. speech impresses many Israelis, but not all”

“Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s impassioned speech Tuesday in the U.S. Congress impressed many Israelis in Jerusalem but drew criticism from others who said he was interfering in American affairs.”

Reuters

“China hopes novice environment chief will be breath of fresh air”

“One year after ‘declaring war’ on pollution, China has appointed an inexperienced outsider as its new environment minister tasked with breathing life into a massive clean-up campaign that even optimists say will take decades to complete.”

Washington Post

“Gunshots hit building at National Security Agency campus in Fort Meade”

“Gunshots struck a building at the National Security Agency campus on Tuesday, a U.S. Park Police spokeswoman said. The Park Police said no injuries were reported, and police had no information about who might have fired at the building in Fort Meade, Md.”

Reuters

“Western leaders hint at more Russian sanctions over Ukraine”

“U.S. President Barack Obama and European leaders on Tuesday warned Russia that they were ready to step up sanctions if there were further violations of a ceasefire agreement in Ukraine, officials said.”

Washington Post

“In defiant ruling, Alabama Supreme Court stops same-sex marriage in state”

“The Alabama Supreme Court ordered a halt Tuesday to same-sex marriages in the state despite a U.S. Supreme Court order allowing them to proceed. The ruling capped a wild month of confusion and resistance in Alabama following a January decision by a U.S. district court invalidating Alabama’s ban on gay marriage.”

Al Jazeera America

“Pay gap widens most in North America and Asia, study says”

“The pay gap between senior managers and lower-level employees has widened much more sharply in North America and Asia than in Europe since the financial crisis, a study showed on Wednesday.”

Reuters

“Target to cut thousands of jobs as seeks to cut costs by $2 billion”

“U.S. retailer Target Corp, which has been battling back after a massive data breach and sluggish performance, on Tuesday said it will eliminate several thousand jobs, mainly from headquarters locations in the United States and India, as it aims to cut $2 billion in costs over two years.”

New York Times

“Leader of Emily’s List, a PAC built to elect women, faces her biggest test in 2016”

“Perhaps no other political organization is more poised — or under more pressure — to capitalize on Hillary Rodham Clinton’s likely presence at the top of the Democratic ticket in 2016. After losses in the midterm elections, and seeing abortion rights threatened across the country, Emily’s List is treating a Clinton candidacy as its best chance yet to convert enthusiasm among Democratic donors into funding for women running in federal, state and local elections.”

Associated Press

“Apple, Android browsers vulnerable to ‘FREAK attack’”

“Millions of people may have been left vulnerable to hackers while surfing the web on Apple and Google devices, thanks to a newly discovered security flaw known as ‘FREAK attack.’”

Reuters

“Democrats, State Department defend Hillary Clinton over email flap”

“Democrats scrambled on Tuesday to contain the fallout for Hillary Clinton, their favored 2016 presidential candidate, after allegations she inappropriately used her personal email for work while secretary of state.”

Reuters

“China defense budget rise to defy slowing economy”

“China’s defense budget this year will rise about 10 percent compared with 2014, a top government official said on Wednesday, outpacing the slowing economy as the country ramps up investment in high-tech equipment such as submarines and stealth jets.”

Associated Press

“Egyptians race to expand Suez Canal, hoping for trade surge”

“While the government’s goal of more than doubling annual canal revenues to some $13 billion in less than a decade appears overly ambitious, shippers and analysts say the reduction of waiting time to almost nothing will draw some vessels. Any major increase, however, depends on something unlikely to happen soon — a large jump in European demand fueling greater shipping from Asia.”

Reuters

“Syria’s Nusra Front may leave Qaeda to form new entity”

“Leaders of Syria’s Nusra Front are considering cutting their links with al Qaeda to form a new entity backed by some Gulf states trying to topple President Bashar al-Assad, sources said.”

AFP

“450 killed in China’s Xinjiang last year, mostly Uighurs: group”

“More than 450 people were killed in China’s restive mainly Muslim Xinjiang region last year, a rights group said — with three times as many deaths among members of the Uighur minority than ethnic Han Chinese.”

Associated Press

“China plays down U.S. concerns over anti-terror legislation”

“China played down U.S. concerns that proposed anti-terror legislation would give the Chinese government sweeping power to police electronic communications and marginalize foreign companies fighting for a share of China’s $465 billion technology market, saying Tuesday that the law is purely designed to address domestic security issues.”

New York Times

“Japan’s growth in solar power falters as utilities balk”

“Solar use in Japan has exploded over the last two years as part of an ambitious national effort to promote renewable energy. But the technology’s future role is now in doubt. Utilities say their infrastructure cannot handle the swelling army of solar entrepreneurs intent on selling their power. And their willingness to invest more money depends heavily on whether the government remains committed to clean energy.”

AFP

“Father says no proof his son is ‘Jihadi John’”

“The father of ‘Jihadi John’ said in an interview published Wednesday that there was no proof that his son was the Islamic State executioner, adding there were a number of ‘false rumors’ circulating.”

Reuters

“Day after Netanyahu warning, U.S. and Iran make ‘some progress’ on nuclear talks”

“The U.S. and Iranian foreign ministers wrapped up three days of talks over Iran’s nuclear program on Wednesday, a day after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the deal being negotiated was a serious mistake.”

AFP

“France gets rap on knuckles over smacking children”

“A top rights body said Wednesday that France was in violation of a European treaty because it did not fully ban the smacking of children, reigniting debate over the divisive issue.”

Reuters

“Two Malaysians identified in I.S. beheading video from Syria”

“Mohd Faris Anuar and Muhamad Wanndy Muhammad Jedi, aged 20 and 25 respectively, were identified as the men involved in the beheading of a Syrian man in a video posted to Facebook on Feb. 22, said Ayub Khan Mydin, the police counter-terrorism division’s deputy chief.”

Reuters

“U.S. private sector adds 212,000 jobs in February: ADP”

“U.S. private employers added 212,000 jobs last month, lower than market expectations as well as January’s revised figure, a payrolls processor report showed on Wednesday.”

Washington Post

“Awash in cash, Bush asks donors not to give more than $1 million – for now”

“The move reflects concerns among Bush advisers that accepting massive sums from a handful of uber-rich supporters could fuel a perception that the former governor is in their debt. The effort is also driven by a desire to build as broad a pool of donors as possible among wealthier contributors.”

Washington Post

“Curiosity rover on Mars down for the count after a short circuit”

“No more selfies for Curiosity – for now, at least. The famous little Mars rover is taking a few days off after a short circuit on Feb. 27 set off its fault-protection procedures. The rover was transferring rock powder from the drill on its arm to internal instruments when the malfunction occurred. The sample transfer process has been completed several times before, but this time something went wrong.”

AFP

“Mexico nabs Zetas drug cartel leader ‘Z-43’”

“Mexican federal forces captured Zetas drug cartel leader Omar Trevino in the northeastern state of Nuevo Leon early Wednesday, two federal officials told AFP.”

Bringing Back the Palestinian Refugee Question

Jerusalem/Ramallah/Gaza/Brussels  |   9 Oct 2014

With Palestinians increasingly doubtful that the refugee question can be resolved within a two-state framework, the Palestinian leadership should seek to reinvigorate refugee communities as well as to reclaim its representation of them. When diplomacy emerges from its hiatus, the leadership will be able to negotiate and implement a peace agreement only if it wins refugees’ support or at least acquiescence.

In its latest report, Bringing Back the Palestinian Refugee Question, the International Crisis Group examines what could be done on the Palestinian side, without compromising core Israeli interests, to mitigate the risk that the Palestinian refugee question would derail a future agreement. For most of the 66 years since the Arab inhabitants of historic Palestine were displaced with the establishment of Israel in what Palestinians call the Nakba (catastrophe), the refugee question was at the forefront of the Palestinian national agenda. It no longer is. Refugees feel alienated from the Palestinian Authority (PA), doubt the intentions of Palestinian negotiators, and resent the class structure that the PA and its economic policies have produced.

The report’s major findings and recommendations are:

  • Calcified refugee camp leadership committees ought to be renewed by election or selection. While their predicament is largely a reflection of the dysfunction of the overall political system, the relative isolation of the camps could facilitate a more representative local leadership. Given the limited resources of the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), credible local leadership is needed.
  • Palestinian elites, particularly in the West Bank, should combat the notion that refugee political claims can be advanced only by isolating camps from the broader social fabric. Refugees increasingly have come to believe that socio-economic deprivation is not the only way to maintain identity; reinvigorating political structures to better represent them would be more effective and humane.
  • Donors should continue to fund UNRWA. Its support cannot solve the refugee problem, but the precipitous decline of services could exacerbate it and provoke regional instability. Palestinian political elites should undertake measures to improve daily life for refugees and ensure that economic reforms benefit rather than further marginalise them.

“Only a Palestinian leadership perceived as legitimate, inclusive and representative by all Palestinians will be considered authorised to negotiate a compromise with Israel” says Nathan Thrall, Senior Middle East Analyst. “The lull in talks gives the national movement a chance to reconstruct itself so Palestinians of all sorts, particularly refugees, can influence negotiating positions”.

“The Palestinian leadership, the Israeli government and the international community need to understand that their current approach to the refugee question is a recipe not only for failure and strife, but for further undermining the two-state solution”, says Robert Blecher, Middle East and North Africa Acting Program Director.

FULL REPORT

Foreign Affairs || @muhyeob

Out for a few errands, Shinra stiffled a yawn at such a boring and every-day sort of view. People dressed in muted colors walking around hand-in-hand at times as they shopped with their significant others. He envied them at times but in the end when he went home he would see his beloved as well. For now he could spare a few moments to focus on something essential to living- like his food.

But as he made way for the grocery store not too deep into Ikebukuro, he ntoicced something a bit more… extraordinary than everything else. He had seen a black rider emit smoke from a neck with no head, he had seen a head with no body, and even grew up with two friends who were borderline insane but never had he seen something like this. As the young man stood there in the middle of Ikebukuro he couldn’t help but wonder if he was lost or maybe a foreigner overwhelmed by the buildings and crowds.

Abadoning his plans for grocery shopping Shinra felt compelled to see if he could possibly help this young man. He approached with a short wave in his direction and large smile on his lips.

"Hey, are you lost or something? It’s a bit dangerous to stop in the middle of the sidewalk like this. You might piss off the wrong person and get yourself sent to the hospital with some broken bones." Although in reality maybe he was just trying to avoid having this boy end up in his home with those broken bones. It then occured to him that he might not even know what he’s saying. "Um… You speak this language, right…?"

Over 10 bags with skeletons were recovered from a locked room of a building, which used to be a hospital, local police reported. The room was used as the hospital’s post mortem area and has been locked since the building was converted into a police station.”I have come to know that there was a hospital in this building up until 2008. The police department will make a report on this. We are also sending the skeletons to laboratories to find out details,” Saumya Agrawal, the chief of police for the district of Unnao where the incident took place, told reporters.

The Indian Ministry of Home Affairs has sought a detailed report from the state government on this issue.

Last month, more than 100 bodies were found floating in the river Ganges in Unnao. Police said that the bodies were given traditional water burials by families that could not afford a Hindu cremation.