Palestinians to Try to Relaunch Peace Process With Israel

Palestinians want to try to relaunch stalled peace talks with Israel, a senior official said Monday.

Senior negotiator Saeb Erekat told Voice of Palestine Radio that a joint Palestinian-Arab delegation will visit the United States, China and Britain next month with a new initiative to resume talks for up to six months.

The initiative is the first since the Palestinians were granted non-member status at the United Nations last month, in effect recognising Palestinian statehood.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas praised the decision as a boost to peace efforts. Angry at what it called a unilateral move, Israel has announced plans to expand settlements in a contentious West Bank area and withheld taxes it collects on behalf of the Palestinians.

Israeli-Palestinian peace talks have been frozen since September 2010, when Israel refused a Palestinian demand to extend a 10-month partial moratorium on settlement building.

Attempts to get the talks going again have floundered; the Palestinians insists on an Israeli building freeze in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, while Israel insists the talks restart without preconditions.

Even if accepted by Israel, the Palestinian initiative is unlikely to get underway soon. Israel holds parliamentary elections on January 22, and it is doubtful a new government will be in place before mid-February.

Source: Copyright 2012 dpa Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH

Peace Leader Calls State Police Presence ‘Real Concern’

From By Todd A. Heywood

LANSING – In the day before thousands of union members and supporters are expected to flood the state capitol in an attempt to stop right to work legislation from being passed, hundreds of state police troopers have been on the grounds of the capitol marching in formation, wearing gas masks on their sides, and carrying brand new riot batons. This, says Rev. Peter Dougherty of the Michigan Peace Team, could instigate violence at Tuesday’s rallies.

“It’s an incitement to behave violently,” says Dougherty in an exclusive interview with Between the Lines. “It angers people.”

Dougherty says the police presence is indicative of the militarization of the police happening across the U.S.

“When riot gear is put on by the police, because they think they might need it, they always end up using it,” says the longtime peace activist and Roman Catholic priest. The Michigan Peace Team has conducted peace team interventions all over the U.S as well as in Palestine and in Mexico. Peace team members are trained to intervene in situations where violence is likely to happen or is happening and to de-esulate the potential for violence in the situation.

Thousands are expected to attend a rally and protest at the Capitol Tuesday to protest so-called right to work legislation. The legislation would end closed union shops, allowing workers in a union business to receive all the benefits of union representation without having to pay dues or membership to the union. Democrats and union leaders say the proposed law is about destroying unions, but Republicans and conservation organizations like Americans for Prosperity say the law is about freedom for workers and making Michigan attractive to new businesses.

Rep. Mark Meadows (D-East Lansing) reports Americans for Prosperity reserved the Capitol steps for the remainder of the year. Under Capitol rules, the group with a reservation has pre-emptive use rights to the steps. As a result, this sets up a possible tense confrontation between anti-Right to Work protesters and supporters of the legislation, including AFP.

He says the police presence in preparation for Tuesday’s protests at the Capitol have a “chilling effect” on free speech rights, and called on legislative leaders to diminish the police presence. BTL reached out to spokespersons for Gov. Rick Snyder, Sen, Gretchen Whitmer and House Speaker Jase Bolger for their response to Dougherty’s concerns.

“They’re our elected leaders. We respect them and they should respect us and keep the police in the background,” says Dougherty. “Their presence only instigates. It adds to the climate of intensified anger.”

“Public safety is under the purview of the Michigan State Police, an organization in which Speaker Bolger has full confidence,” wrote Ari Adler, spokesperson for Speaker Jase Bolger (R-Marshall), in an email.

Incoming Democratic House Minority Leader Rep. Tim Greimel (D-Auburn Hills) says while he believes protesters will remain peaceful – and encourages that – Dougherty’s concerns are “fair.”

“It’s import to expect the police to respect the freedom of assembly and freedom of speech of those coming exercise those rights,” he says. “Part of that respect is expecting law enforcement to refrain from any intimidation.”

Taliban ‘could govern parts of Afghanistan’ under new peace deal

The blueprint, obtained by the McClatchy news agency and confirmed by a source close to the talks, would also see Islamabad take over Washington’s role in co-ordinating talks between insurgents and the government in Kabul.
Pakistan has long been viewed as a hindrance to peace, accused of backing insurgents in order to maintain influence in their backyard. However analysts and diplomats increasingly believe it is becoming a more positive influence.
Details of the proposals emerged ahead of talks due to start on Tuesday between the presidents of Afghanistan and Pakistan in Turkey. The talks are being held to resolve a row after Kabul claimed an attack against its spy chief was planned in Pakistan .
Drafted by the Afghan High Peace Council, set up by President Karzai to co-ordinate talks, the “Peace Process Roadmap to 2015″ sees Pakistan taking over from America’s stalled peace efforts, with direct negotiations between the starting next year.
“By 2015, Taliban, Hezb-e-Islami and other armed groups will have given up armed opposition, transformed from military entities into political parties, and are actively participating in the country’s political and constitutional processes, including national elections,” says the plan, according to McClatchy.
“NATO/ISAF forces will have departed from Afghanistan, leaving the ANSF (Afghan National Security Forces) as the only legitimate armed forces delivering security and protection to the Afghan population.”
It also proposes allowing senior insurgents to become cabinet members and provincial governors, conferring significant power on militant commanders.
However, observers remain sceptical of an early breakthrough or that any one of a number of proposals in ciculation can be implemented.
Imtiaz Gul, an analyst in Islamabad, said: “There’s a long way to go before presidential elections in 2014 and the pull-out of troops. There are still a lot of ifs and buts.”
Afghan leaders and Western diplomats in Kabul said they had witnessed a welcome shift in Pakistan’s attitude to securing peace over the past six months.
The agreement to release some Taliban prisoners last month and hold a council of influential Pakistani clerics early next year with the aim of denouncing suicide bombings have both been viewed as helpful.
But cautious optimism has been tempered by the assassination attempt last week on Asadullah Khalid, head of the Afghan intelligence service. Mr Afghan president Hamid Karzai has said the attempt was planned in Pakistan.
“The quality of the conversation with Pakistan has been completely different,” said one Afghan official familiar with contacts.
“We have seen for the first time Pakistan taking concrete steps in the peace process.
“Now we have to see if they will deliver on those initial concrete steps, and deliver in a timely manner, not six months from now.” This article was distributed through the NewsCred Smartwire. Original article © The Daily Telegraph 2012

Congolese Peace Talks Falter

Peace talks between Congo’s government and rebels faltered Monday when rebels did not show up for the second day of negotiations.

The delegation from the M23 rebel group stayed in their hotel in the Ugandan capital, Kampala. They did not say whether or not they would show up for the talks on Tuesday.

The negotiations got off to a tense start Sunday, with M23 rebel representative Francois Ruchongoza blaming the country’s conflict on poor governance and a lack of what he called “visionary leadership.”

Congolese government officials insisted on being allowed to rebut the charges on Monday. However, when the rebels did not show up for Monday’s talks, government officials did not deliver their response, saying they must do so in front of the rebel delegation.

M23 withdrew from the eastern Congolese city of Goma last week, but has threatened to retake the city if the government fails to begin negotiations.

The rebels defeated the Congolese army in a series of battles this year.

A panel of United Nations experts has accused Uganda and Rwanda of supporting the rebel group, something that both countries have denied.

M23 is made up of former rebels who were integrated into the Congolese army in a 2009 peace agreement. The rebels deserted the army earlier this year, complaining of discrimination and poor treatment.

The fighting has displaced more than 100,000 people in Congo’s North Kivu province, aggravating an already serious humanitarian situation in the region.

Nobel Peace Prize Winners Protest EU Award

Mon, 10 December 2012


Peace News Now: The Daily Peace


Episode 002

Nobel Peace Prize Winners Protest EU Award

Link to show notes here

Direct download: PNN_TDP_002_2012-12-10_Nobel_Peace_Prize_Winners_Protest_EU_Award.mp3

Category: Podcast — posted at: 10:42 PM

Students protest teachers’ protest

From The Standard by Marlene Bergsma

Thousands of high school students across Niagara are taking to the streets Monday in protest, saying they feel they are being used as pawns in a labour dispute between their teachers and the government.

Students at Laura Secord, Sir Winston Churchill, Grimsby Secondary and Westlane secondary schools are among those who are are skipping classes or organizing other events to say they oppose their teachers’ cancellation of study help and extracurricular activities.

In Niagara, members of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation District 22 recently voted to reject a tentative agreement negotiated between their union and the District School Board of Niagara.

Effective Monday, the DSBN secondary school teachers are suspending all extracurricular activities, which means the end of after-school clubs, sports teams and academic help.

“We are fighting for ourselves,” said Drew Chapelle, one of the organizers of Sir Winston’s student protest that’s being dubbed Project Mayhem.

“We will not just stand by and be dragged into a fight that is not our fault,” said Chapelle. “It’s everything that makes a school fun. It’s everything that brings a school together.”

In some schools, the student walkout is being billed as a protest against Bill 115 — the government legislation that has earned the teachers’ ire — but organizers of Sir Winston’s protest say they aren’t taking sides.

They just want people to know it’s their university admissions, scholarships and high school sporting events and fun that are at stake.

“This is our way of standing up for ourselves,” said Tyler Davis, one of the Sir Winston organizers.

“We know you guys are fighting, but don’t bring us into your mess.”

Both Davis and Chapelle are in Grade 12 and say this a crucial time for their post-secondary futures. University offers of admission or scholarships can be affected by the loss of extracurricular activities.

“Some scholarships ask for a brag sheet about yourself,” Davis said. “And some schools, like Queens, look at extracurriculars for admissions.”

Some students rely on after-school help from teachers to pass courses or bump up their grades, they said. That after-school help has been cancelled.

But other students are conflicted about the immediate harm the walkout might cause their academic standing.

“I fully support this, but I may not be able to attend,” posted one student on the Sir Winston group’s event page on Facebook.

“Teachers aren’t being as understanding as people may think. With two quizzes and an in-class essay on Monday, it’s not right for me to go. Good luck everyone, plead our cause and stay warm.”

Chris Godin of Niagara Falls is another one of the students who is trading his textbooks for a protest sign. He will be among the students from Westlane walking along Lundy’s Lane, armed with signs urging “Kill Bill 115.”

“We’re not choosing sides,” said the Grade 12 student. “But we’re students and we’re the reason the teachers are there. They should definitely put us first in consideration.”

Students at Grimsby Secondary School and Laura Secord Secondary School in St. Catharines have also said they are walking out or organizing events on Monday.

Similar walkouts are planned at high schools across the province, including Oakville and Waterloo. The students are using social media such as Facebook to spread their message. By Sunday afternoon, more than 400 Sir Winston students had confirmed on the Project Mayhem Facebook event that they are joining Monday’s protest.

Chapelle said their teachers told them it had to be a legitimate protest with signs and a clear message, and not just a way to skip class.

Meanwhile, on Tuesday about 1,600 elementary teachers with the District School Board of Niagara are staging their one-day strike protesting Bill 115, with classes cancelled for all elementary students.

— with files from QMI

Twitter @marlenebergsma

Nei til EU (No to the EU)

No to the EU is the Norwegian No Movement; an antiracist and pan political organization which strives for Norwegian sovereignty and independence from the European Union.

No to the EU is a member-based, nationwide organization with 27.000 members (2012), regional offices in each of the 19 Norwegian counties, and a staff of 21 employees.

The organization No to the EU is a non-governmental organization. Simultaneously the organization functions as an arena, a resource centre and as a coordinator for all organizations and political parties opposing Norwegian EU-membership. No to the EU is also an information centre for the public, with organized discussions and debates. No to the EU is a well-known participant on the Norwegian political debate.

Norway has since 1994 been associated with the EU inner market through the agreement on European Economic Area (EEA). No to the EU wants a more limited and bilateral relationship with the EU, and is working to promote alternatives to the current EEA agreement.

The people’s movement

The basis of the Norwegian society is democracy. Norway has come to learn how self-governance is the wise foundation of our decentralized, elongated and scarcely populated country. As a sovereign nation, Norway can cooperate and trade with other nations.

The Norwegian population has twice voted no to membership of The European Union. Referendums where held both in 1972 and in 1994. No to the EU strives to ensure a truly influential democracy, where important decisions are made with an effective democratic control.

No to the EU aims at being a widespread and diverse people’s movement. No to the EU has its own youth organization (Ungdom mot EU) and student organization (Studenter mot EU).

Policy of the Nei til EU:

  • No to the EU wants to ensure democracy and Norwegian sovereignty.
  • No to the EU wants to ensure a continued Norwegian independence in international politics.
  • No to the EU strives for fairness and equality in international trade and cooperationllaboration, and urges Norway to play an active role on the global arena in obtaining and ensuring such qualities.
  • No to the EU strives for Norwegian natural resources to be administrated by Norwegian authorities and institutions.
  • No to the EU promotes a broad international cooperationllaboration, not restricted by the boarders of Europe.
  • No to the EU is engaged in women politics and information tasks promoting gender equality.

Former Nobel Peace Prize Winners Join hundreds in Protest of EU

By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff

(NEWSER) – The European Union officially received the Nobel Peace Prize today in an Oslo ceremony attended by some 20 EU leaders, including Angela Merkel, Francois Hollande, and UK deputy PM Nick Clegg. The prize committee applauded the EU’s efforts toward peace in Europe after World War II, and called leaders to work together amid the economic crisis, the AP notes. This year’s ceremony was more austere than usual, with prize money cut 20% and fewer chauffeured cars for winners,Reuters reports. Protesters in Oslo and worldwide voiced opposition to the award.

Previous winners, including Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Northern Ireland’s Mairead Maguire, and Argentina’s Adolfo Perez Esquivel, said the $1.2 million in prize money shouldn’t be paid out this year; the EU, they said, uses military power for security, which isn’t in keeping with the prize’s ideals. Yesterday, hundreds of protesters took to the streets in Oslo, chanting, “The EU is not a worthy winner,” the New York Times reports. Peace activists argued that a prize initially aimed at disarmament shouldn’t go to the bloc, while a Greek MP said the EU had “pushed my country and the whole of southern Europe back to the Middle Ages.”

Hundreds of Sudanese in protest call for ‘revolution’


Hundreds of Sudanese called for “revolution” on Monday, the second day of protests in support of four dead students originally from the conflict-plagued Darfur region.

Their deaths, following a crackdown on a tuition protest at Gezira University south of Khartoum, have sparked the largest outpouring of Arab Spring-style discontent since anti-regime protests in June and July.

A crowd of about 700 people came out of Nilien University shouting “Revolution until victory” and “Killing students is the killing of the nation!”, an AFP reporter witnessed.

Police responded with tear gas and some protesters were beaten with batons, he said.

Some scattered into the city’s main bus terminal nearby, where several truckloads of riot police were already on standby.

An AFP reporter also observed pickup trucks with plainclothes security agents in the area, the scene of violent clashes on Sunday.

The main road through the bus terminal was charred from a fire which burned during Sunday’s unrest when, an AFP reporter said, six people were injured, a bus was torched, and police fired tear gas.

Official radio said 47 people were detained on Sunday when hundreds also protested.

In June and July demonstrations began at the University of Khartoum over high inflation and then spread to involve scattered protests throughout the country, calling for the fall of the 23-year regime of President Omar al-Bashir.

They petered out following a security clampdown.

In 1964, the death of student activist Ahmed al-Qureshi sparked the “October Revolution” which ended the military regime then in power after tens of thousands protested.


Destroying Syria to Save it

Sun, 9 December 2012

Visit to see the shownotes for today’s episode, or click here.

On today’s show, I discuss:

Direct download: PNN_PRR_001_2012-12-09_Destroying_Syria_to_Save_it.mp3
Category:general — posted at: 10:25 PM