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Al Jazeera English – Europe – EU endorses Goldstone report.


From Al Jazeera

Lawyers for Charles Taylor have begun their defence of the former president of Liberia against charges including murder, rape, and the conscription of child soldiers during Sierra Leone’s civil war.

Taylor, who will take the witness stand on Tuesday, is on trial at The Hague in the Netherlands.

“We are here to defend a man who we say is innocent of all these charges,” Courtenay Griffiths, Taylor’s lawyer, told the court, adding that the prosecution case “is lacking in proof”.

The former leader denies all 11 charges against him arising from the 1991-2001 civil war, in which about 120,000 people were killed.

He is expected to argue that he was trying to broker peace rather than foment violence.

Stephen Rapp, a prosecutor at the UN-backed court for Sierra Leone, has insisted that Taylor was “an exceptional violator of human rights”.

‘Arming rebels’

Prosecutors, who closed their case in February,  said Taylor armed and supported the Revolutionary United Front (RUF), a rebel movement that sought to destabilise the government, and attempted to gain control of Sierra Leone’s diamond mines.

“We were very pleased by the testimony that was presented and the breadth and strength of it,” Rapp said.

Taylor has been on trial at The Hague since June 2007 at facilities provided by the International Criminal Court.

The court is headquartered in Freetown, the Sierra Leone capital, but the trial is taking place in the Netherlands due to concerns it may trigger violence in Sierra Leone.

In May, judges at the Special Court for Sierra Leone ruled against a defence request to acquit Taylor of war crimes charges, saying the prosecution had produced enough evidence supporting a conviction.

However, Judge Richard Lussick has stressed that the ruling does not mean Taylor would be convicted.

Taylor is the first African head of state to be tried by an international court.

Source: Reuters
* Five arms export licenses revoked * UK denies move constitutes embargo (Adds new British comment) By Dan Williams JERUSALEM, July 13 (Reuters) – Britain has scrapped the sale of some military components to Israel as part of an export review prompted by the war in the Gaza Strip, officials said on Monday. Of 182 arms-export licenses, five were revoked, an Israeli official said. All involved equipment for the Saar 4.5 class Corvette, a naval vessel that took part in the December-January offensive in which more than 1,400 Palestinians were killed. The British embassy in Tel Aviv confirmed the revocation of a “small number” of export licenses but said this did not constitute an embargo on Israel. “There are no security agreements between the UK and Israel,” an embassy spokeswoman said. “UK policy remains to assess all export licences to Israel against the consolidated E.U. and national arms export licensing criteria.” She noted that Britain had also revoked some export licenses to Russia and Georgia following their border war last year. Israel has weathered international censure over the civilian toll of the Gaza war, arguing that Palestinians provoked the violence by firing rockets across the border. Thirteen Israelis were killed during the 22 days of fighting. Israel’s Defence Ministry had no immediate comment on the British decision. Interviewed on Israel Radio, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman brushed it off. “Israel has known many cases of embargo in the past,” he said. “We always knew how to get by, and there is no need to get excited about this.” British Foreign Minister David Miliband announced the review in April after some legislators pressed for an arms embargo on both Israel and the Hamas Islamists ruling Gaza. British exports of sensitive products that are for military use or that can have both civilian or military applications need a licence. Britain says it will not grant a licence if there is a clear risk of exports being used either for internal repression or for external aggression. (Editing by Richard Balmforth)



The company is also rumoured to be testing the Android operating system.

Dell on Friday said it would consider testing Google’s upcoming Chrome operating system, but didn’t commit to offering the Linux-based OS in future products.

“Dell constantly assesses new technologies as part of managing our product development process and for consideration in future products,” company spokesman David Frink said in an email.

Dell’s absence was noticed in a list of PC makers that Google is working with to support the OS. The list included PC makers Hewlett-Packard, Acer, Lenovo and Asus. HP and Lenovo haven’t yet committed to offering the product with future PCs.

Chrome is a thin version of a Linux-based operating system that is designed for people who mostly rely on the Web for computing. It is designed for devices like netbooks, which are low-cost computers designed to run basic computer applications like the web browser.

Dell is also rumoured to be testing Google’s Android operating system, which is mostly designed for smartphones and mobile internet devices.

There has been a lot of confusion regarding Google’s hardware partners on the Chrome OS. Google’s list of partners included chip makers like Freescale Semiconductor, Qualcomm and Texas Instruments, but Intel was missing, although it actually has been working with Google and had prior knowledge about the OS.

“Yes, we’ve been privy to the project for some time and obviously work with Google on a variety of projects, including elements of this one,” Intel spokesman Bill Kircos said Thursday.

Dell currently offers Canonical’s Ubuntu operating system with its desktops and laptops. Canonical’s web-centric Ubuntu version is Ubuntu Netbook Remix, which is designed for quick access to applications and the web.




L’Aquila (Italy), 10 July 2009 – UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has welcomed the G8 agreement on a long term goal to reduce emissions by 80 per cent by 2050, but says it is still not enough to reach a fair, effective climate agreement in Copenhagen Summit in December.

Mr. Ban called for more ambitious mid term emissions targets in order to ensure that a climate deal can be sealed at the Copenhagen meeting.

He urged developed countries in particular to lead by example by making firm commitments to reduce their emissions by 2020 on the order of 25-40 per cent below 1990 levels.

Nevertheless, he acknowledged that developing countries had their part to play by undertaking national efforts to cut their emissions and devising appropriate solutions to climate change challenges.

“Developing countries need funding and technology assistance. Funding is also needed to assist vulnerable developing countries adapt to the harmful effects of climate change.” Mr. Ban said.

At a recent meeting held at the UNEP Headquarters in Nairobi, African Environment Ministers pegged the cost of climate change adaptation at between $1 billion and $50 billion per year.

In their final declaration on Friday, G8 leaders identified financing as one of the three main tools to address climate change challenges along with technological innovation and capacity building. The leaders also stressed the need to move to a low-carbon economy in order to achieve continued economic growth and sustainable development – a move advocated by UNEP through the Global Green New Deal initiative.

The emphasis on climate change was echoed by the Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate, which met in the margins of the G8 Summit and stated that “climate change is one of the greatest challenges of our time”.

“As leaders of the world’s major economies, both developed and developing, we intend to respond vigorously to this challenge, being convinced that climate change poses a clear danger requiring an extraordinary global response, that the response should respect the priority of economic and social development of developing countries, that moving to a low-carbon economy is an opportunity to promote continued economic growth and sustainable development, that the need for and deployment of transformational clean energy technologies at lowest possible cost are urgent, and that the response must involve balanced attention to mitigation and adaptation,” the declaration says.

“We resolve to spare no effort to reach agreement in Copenhagen, with each other and with the other Parties, to further implementation of the Convention,” the Major Economies Forum added.


From ISM


12 pm, Monday, 13 July 2009: Israeli and international solidarity activists will set up tents on King George St. in West Jerusalem as part of a coordinated campaign in solidarity with Palestinians facing home evictions and demolitions in East Jerusalem.

4 pm, Monday 13 July 2009: A press conference will be held at the Sheikh Jarrah protest tent.

Speakers will include:
Sheikh Raed Salah – President of the Islamic Movement inside the Green Line
Mr. Maher Hanoun – Owner of one of the house in danger of eviction, Sheikh Jarrah
Mr. Fakhrie Abu Diab – Owner of one of the houses in danger of demolition, Al Bustan , Silwan

Maher Hannoun, a Sheikh Jarrah resident facing eviction and imprisonment, said:

As refugees and people living under occupation, we are asking the Israeli and international public to help us with our struggle for our rights. It is unbelievable that in the 21st century, Israel’s authorities can get away with demolishing the homes of Palestinians in order to build settlements or national parks. The price we and our neighbours have to pay is too high, we are faced with two impossible choices – either we throw our kids out on the street or we go to prison. If we lose our homes, there is nowhere else for us to go, the only option we have is to live in tents.

Later in the evening a play for children by the Sanabel theatre will be held at the tent.

Similar actions will be happening on the same day in the USA, the UK, Sweden, the Czech Republic, Ireland, France, Spain, Denmark, Holland and Egypt.

Tents have become a powerful symbol of the struggle of Palestinian people living in occupied East Jerusalem. They have been set up as centers of protest in neighbourhoods threatened by Israel’s policy of ethnically cleansing East Jerusalem of its Palestinian population through house evictions and demolitions. A number of the tents, notably the one in Sheikh Jarrah, have been built by Palestinian residents forcibly displaced as a result of this policy. Palestinians, who became refugees in 1948 & 1967 are, once again, facing dispossession from their homes and land as the international community stands by.

The neighbourhoods most severely affected are Sheikh Jarrah, Silwan, Ras Khamiis, Al Tur and Sur Beher however house evictions and demolitions are not uncommon in the Old City itself. In Silwan, 88 homes in the al Bustan quarter are facing immediate destruction in order to create space for a planned national park. A total of 1500 residents would be displaced if this plan went ahead. In Sheikh Jarrah, 28 families are living under the threat of house evictions which are part of a plan to implant a new Jewish settlement in the area, close to the Old City. After the Al Kurd family has been forcibly removed from their home in November 2008, it is now the turn of the al-Ghawe and Hannoun families who face imminent eviction, while others are awaiting further court decisions. Fathers of the two families with current eviction orders also face imprisonment, should they not leave the houses voluntarily by the deadline (19th July) issued by the latest court hearing.

In Beit Hanina, Al Tur, Ath Thuri and Wadi Yasul, a combined total of more than 3,600 persons are affected by pending demolition orders – this includes two apartment buildings in Al Abbasiyya, housing 34 families.


From Reuters


WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The CIA withheld information from the U.S. Congress about a secret counterterrorism program on orders from former Vice President Dick Cheney, a senator said on Sunday as Democrats called for an investigation.

Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein told “Fox News Sunday” that CIA Director Leon Panetta disclosed Cheney’s involvement when he briefed members of Congress two weeks ago. She said Panetta told them he had canceled the program.

President Barack Obama, a Democrat, appointed Panetta to head the agency early this year. The still-secret program, which The New York Times said never became operational, began after the September 11 attacks on the United States in 2001.

The Wall Street Journal said the secret initiative terminated by Panetta was an effort to carry out a 2001 authorization by then Republican President George W. Bush to capture or kill al Qaeda operatives.

Citing current and former government officials, the newspaper reported the CIA spent money on planning and possibly some training but the initiative had not become fully operational. Panetta ended the CIA effort after learning about it on June 23, the Journal said.


News of Cheney’s involvement, reported by the Times on Sunday, prompted an outpouring of criticism by Obama’s fellow Democrats and support by rival Republicans in Congress.

Feinstein, who chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee, said: “Director Panetta did brief us two weeks ago — I believe it was on the 24th of June … and, as had been reported, did tell us that he was told that the vice president had ordered that the program not be briefed to the Congress.”

Asked if the matter should be investigated, Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin said: “Absolutely.”

“The executive branch of government cannot create programs like these programs and keep Congress in the dark. There is a requirement for disclosure,” Durbin said on ABC’s “This Week.”

“It has to be done in an appropriate way so it doesn’t jeopardize our national security. But to have a massive program that is concealed from the leaders in Congress is not only inappropriate, it could be illegal.”

Feinstein and Democrat Patrick Leahy, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, insisted no one should go outside the law.

Asked about Cheney’s alleged involvement, Leahy told the CBS program “Face the Nation”: “I’d like to know if it’s true or not. I mean, nobody in this country is above the law … You can’t have somebody say, well, if you’re vice president, you don’t have to obey the law.”

Feinstein said Congress “should have been told.”

“This is a big problem, because the law is very clear. And I understand the need of the day, which was when America was in shock” after September 11, she said on Fox. “But … I think you weaken your case when you go outside of the law.”



From The Huffington Post

TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras — Honduras’ interim leader accused Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez of instigating his nation’s crisis and lawmakers tightened a curfew aimed at stemming unrest, as coup leaders showed few signs of bending to international pressure to restore the exiled president.

Roberto Micheletti, who was named by Congress to replace President Manuel Zelaya after his ouster, has fought a largely losing battle to win international support for his government. The Organization of American States has given him until Saturday to step aside before Honduras is suspended from the group. The Obama administration halted joint military operations, and France, Spain, Italy, Chile and Colombia all recalled their ambassadors Wednesday.

The fiercest criticism has come from Chavez, the socialist president of Venezuela who has called for Hondurans to rise up against the “gorilla government” and vowed to do everything possible to overthrow it and restore his leftist ally, Zelaya.

Honduras’ interim leader struck back at this foreign critics Wednesday, accusing Chavez of exacerbating Honduras’ problems.

“Chavez has had a clear and definite intervention in the situation that Honduras is currently living through,” Micheletti told reporters.

On Sunday, the day of the coup, Micheletti suggested Zelaya’s support for Chavez, and vice versa, was at the center of the problem. Micheletti said then that Zelaya would be welcome to return to Honduras as a private citizen on one condition: “Without the support of Mr. Hugo Chavez, we would be happy to take him back with open arms.”

Honduras’ opposition has accused Zelaya of moving sharply to the left since taking office, allying himself with Venezuela and Cuba, accepting oil on preferential terms from Chavez and bringing Honduras into the regional leftist ALBA trade alliance.

Chavez and Zelaya, in turn, have accused right-wing forces in Honduras of toppling him, and Chavez has denounced the allegations that he is stoking the flames in Honduras.

Thousands of Hondurans on both sides of the fight mobilized Wednesday, with a large pro-Zelaya march in the capital and pro-Micheletti demonstrations held in other cities. No violence was reported.

The largest pro-Micheletti rally was in Choluteca, 75 miles (120 kilometers) south of the capital, where demonstrators wore the blue and white of the Honduran flag.

Seeking to stem internal unrest, Congress approved a bill Wednesday that toughens a nighttime curfew in place since the coup. The law gives authorities the power to conduct warrantless arrests and removes constitutional rights to assembly and movement during the 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew.

Soldiers stormed Zelaya’s residence and flew him into exile Sunday after he insisted on trying to hold a referendum asking Hondurans if they want to change the constitution. The Supreme Court, Congress _ which is led by Zelaya’s own party _ and the military all deemed his planned ballot illegal. Zelaya backed down Tuesday, saying he would no longer push for constitutional changes.

Zelaya had said he would try to return home Thursday accompanied by the presidents of Ecuador and Argentina and the heads of the OAS and U.N. General Assembly, but later announced that he was delaying the move until the weekend to give the OAS time to seek a negotiated solution.

The new government was on a long-shot diplomatic offensive, ordering home Honduras’ pro-Zelaya ambassadors to the U.S., the United Nations and the OAS.

The U.N. ambassador, Jorge Arturo Reyna, refused, saying he took orders only from Zelaya. But Honduras’ ambassador to Washington returned home and said he was recognizing Micheletti’s government. “This is not a coup d’etat, but rather a process in which a judicial order has been carried out,” envoy Roberto Flores Bermudez said.

The ambassador to the OAS could not be located for comment.

The Obama administration also sided clearly with Zelaya, despite criticism from Republicans that this puts it on the same side as Chavez and the Castros in Cuba. Micheletti told The Associated Press that he has had no contact with any U.S. official since the coup.

Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said joint U.S.-Honduran military operations were on hold “as we assess that situation.” The U.S. has close relations with Honduras’ military and has some 800 personnel at an air base north of the Honduran capital used primarily for anti-drug operations.

Many pro-Zelaya protesters said authorities were trying to prevent the ousted leader’s supporters from converging on the capital for demonstrations. Natalie O’Hara said her caravan was stopped at five military checkpoints on its way into Tegucigalpa. She said they were let through only because they hid their signs and told soldiers they were for Micheletti.

Protesters lined up outside a Burger King that their comrades had ransacked in previous days because the franchise is owned by Micheletti supporters. Some sat in the frames of smashed windows, moving the bandannas covering their mouths to eat their hamburgers and fries.

There were heavy police and army patrols throughout Honduras’ main cities and highways, and some hospitals and schools were closed due to walkouts by pro-Zelaya teachers and health workers. But it was life as usual for most of the capital.


Associated Press writers Marcos Aleman and Freddy Cuevas in Tegucigalpa, Kathia Martinez in Panama City and Ricardo Reif in New York contributed to this report.


From Al Jazeera

North Korea has test-fired two ground-to-ship missiles from its east coast, the South Korean Yonhap news agency has reported.

One was fired at 5.20pm (0820GMT) and the other at 6.00pm (0900GMT), a South Korean defence ministry spokesman said.

Leonid Petrov, a North Korean specialist from the Australian National University, told Al Jazeera: “We had been expecting the test fire of a medium-range missile in early July.

“These were short range missiles, which are a defensive measure, and may have been done … to impress [North Korean leader] Kim Jong-il who was visiting.”

Growing tensions

South Korea’s joint chiefs of staff could not immediately confirm the report on Thursday.

North Korea had earlier issued a no-sail zone in waters off its east coast through July 10.

The move comes a week after the United States extended economic sanctions against North Korea for another year as tensions grew over the communist state’s nuclear activities.