Millions of Egyptians vote in historic presidential elections
Al Jazeera - After decades or even centuries of single rule, Egyptians are on the verge of a new period of their history, voting for a new president for the country on a democratic basis. After counting 90 percent of the votes the Muslim Brotherhood group said that the candidate for the Freedom and Justice Party obtained 25 percent of the votes, as opposed to candidate Ahmed Shafiq, the last prime minister in Mubarak’s era, who obtained 23 percent. The group said Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh ranked third place, with 20 percent and Hamdeen Sabahy came in fourth with about 19 percent.
Iran's nuclear talks moved to Moscow after reaching a stalemate
Dubai - Amid 'significant differences' between the P5+1 group and Iran, over the latter's nuclear program, the talks were moved to Moscow. This news comes after two days of intensive negotiations in Baghdad failed to bring about a solution to the nuclear crisis. Iran has agreed in principle, to discuss the issue of uranium enrichment at 20 percent, only if the UN recognizes its right to enrich uranium. The two sides agreed to hold a new round of talks in Moscow next month.
After suicide bombing, Yemen marks National Unity Day
Al Jazeera - It was the first time that a military parade was held to mark the unification of Yemen without Ali Abdullah Saleh, who was toppled by a popular revolution. President Abd Rabbu Mansur Hadi attended the parade that was held at the Institute of Aviation instead of the al-Sabeen area, which was subjected to a bombing that led to the deaths of dozens of soldiers, and injured hundreds, during the preparatory exercises for the parade. While the investigation into the al-Sabeen Street bombing continues, the head of the National Security Council confirmed that the al-Qaeda organization was behind the attack.
Bahrainis continue to protest against US arms shipment to al-Manama regime
Al Alam - Bahrain's revolutionaries called for demonstrations on the Friday of ‘rejecting the U.S. arming of the regime’, which crushed protests in numerous regions. The revolutionaries called for taking to the streets to express loyalty to political prisoners. The revolutionaries shut down some of the vital roads to protest the continuing arrest of women by the regime. The marches were soon confronted by the regime with gunfire and teargas, wounding a number of protesters and many others were arrested, mostly women. Bahraini cleric, Sheikh Isa Qassim, asserted that the crisis will not end until authorities submit to the people's demands.
Israeli protesters attack African migrants in Tel-Aviv
Al Jazeera - Hundreds of Israelis demonstrated in central Tel Aviv, against the increasing numbers of illegal African immigrants in the country, and called for deporting them immediately. These protests came several days after the Interior Minister Eli Yishai called for arresting all African immigrants, and deporting them from Israel. Israeli sources estimate the number of Africans in Israel at 60,000 ranging from various countries. The scene was not free of aggression against Africans and local shops that employ them. The recent crimes and rapes committed by Africans instigated the Israelis to come out in protest.
Image: An Egyptian man folds his ballot paper before casting his vote in a school used as a polling station in Cairo May 24, 2012. Egyptians, choosing their leader freely for the first time in history, voted for a second day on Thursday in an election that is a fruit of last year's popular revolt against Hosni Mubarak. The words on the Al Ahly club jersey read, "Glory to the martyrs". REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh
(Mosaic Video Alert: April 22, 2011) Iraqis demonstrated in Mosul City's Ahrar Square or Square of the Free for the ninth consecutive day to demand "the unconditional departure of occupation forces from Iraq" and the release of detainees. In Sulaymaniyah province's Hurriya or Freedom Square, protesters demanded that the government and parliament be dissolved and asked for political reform. Al Iraqiya reports:
(Euronews: 0751 PST, April 6, 2011) The Freedom Group in Libya has released a video showing Libyan air force Brigadier General Ali Atallah al-Obeidi who has apparently defected to them. In the tape he says he quit because Gaddafi gave orders to kill civilians and as he did not want the blood of his own people on his hands.
It is claimed the former general walked for 15 days from Tripoli to the besieged city of Misurata. It is the only major town in Western Libya where the revolt has not been crushed amid accusations from the rebels that NATO have been too slow with air support for them.
(Euronews: 1226 PST, April 5, 2011) The situation in Misurata -- the rebels' last major stronghold in western Libya -- is increasingly catastrophic as the latest amateur video footage shows. Evacuees from the city said forces loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi are staging a "massacre" there.
A resident of the besieged city, a spokesman for the Libya Freedom Group, talked to Euronews and described conditions: "The water has been cut off for about two weeks and the electricity is cut off for about three days and the food is running low for the people right now.
As thousands of outraged demonstrators poured into the streets of Ankara and several capitals across the globe in the aftermath of Israel's bloody attack on an aid flotilla bound for the Gaza Strip early Monday, an Israeli sergeant stood in front of reporters claiming that the activists on board "were armed with knives, scissors, pepper spray and guns." He said he was armed only with a paintball rifle.
"It was a civilian paintball gun that any 12-year-old can play with," he said; yet, at least nine activists were killed, including a 19-year-old American who was shot in the head four times, and scores were injured.
Soon after, a video was released on the official website of the Israel Defense Forces and was made available to the media. It showed Israeli paratroopers jumping onto the international Gaza aid flotilla; a clip showing IDF commandos being beaten as they boarded the ship and one thrown overboard was looped endlessly. The military video did not show how and when the activists were shot, although the Israeli helicopters' infrared cameras would have easily recorded the flashes caused by gun discharge. Instead, the IDF has selectively released only a portion of the tape that showed its commandos under attack but has omitted the killings. Both Al Jazeera and reporters from Turkish TV news channels were reporting that the Marmara was under gunfire.
The "lynch" scenario came next. The victims were not the nine dead activists, nor the dozens of internationals who were beaten, humiliated, and dragged against their will to the Israeli port of Ashdod, instead they were the IDF's finest. What a departure from the days of Entebbe, when Hollywood made legends out of Israeli commandos.
Israel's Foreign Ministry then started showing pictures of sticks, knives, slingshots, and bottles which they said were the activists' weapons. The message is that several hundred activists gathered from all over the world to confront one of the best equipped and trained militaries in the world with these. But we are then told that the activists weren't really activists at all, but rather terrorists with ties to Hamas and al-Qaeda.
Yediot Ahronoth, one of Israel's most widely circulated papers broke with the headlines, "A Brutal Ambush at Sea." Arutz Sheva, the official news site of the settler movement attacked Associated Press for its "biased" reporting with an article entitled "Media War on the Flotilla Clash: AP Anti-Israel Bias Exposed." And the IDF website had this blaring story: "Attackers of the IDF soldiers are found to be Al Qaeda mercenaries," later to be reported in the Jerusalem Post as, "IDF: Mercenaries to blame for violence."
Israel's hasbara at its best. But is it working?
"Hasbara is only succeeding in Israel," says veteran journalist David Michaelis.
Michaelis believes that there is a disconnect between the way Israel sees itself and its actions, and the way they are viewed by the rest of the world.
"That was not a love boat. That was a boat of hatred," said Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. A nice sound bite for FOX News, and headlines for the New York Post but this time hasbara is not working...not after the War on Lebanon, Operation Cast Lead in Gaza, and a Mossad assassination caught on tape in Dubai.
In this week’s special edition of Global Pulse, host Erin Coker reviews 2009 news stories that will matter in 2010. Watch the episode, and share your thoughts, below!
Between the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, an upsurge in violence in Pakistan, Iran’s political upheaval and the global financial crisis, 2009 has been tumultuous to say the least. Even for someone immersed in global media, it was difficult at times not to hit the cheap (and the not-so-cheap) wine just to get through the daily barrage of bleak news.
Which is why I took it upon myself to drum up 10 of the year’s more positive stories. Some were widely reported, others warranted only a fleeting mention, but all stand out as bright spots on an otherwise challenging year. A good reminder that even in the darkest of times, a silver lining can be found if you look hard enough. I’ll drink to that!
1. A Different Kind of Hotel Rwanda
Following the instability and brutal civil war that plagued the central-African nation in the late-1990s, tourists are returning to the country to marvel at its mountain gorillas and lush landscapes. Tourism revenues rise 11 percent in the first quarter of 2009, compared to the same period last year. Even better, the Cartagena Summit on a Mine-Free World announces that Rwanda is officially “landmine free” – a distinction that is doubtless welcomed by tourists and residents alike.
2. Afghanistan and Pakistan Get More Schools
Non-profit activist Greg Mortenson and his Central Asia Institute (CAI), continue to build schools in rural Pakistan and Afghanistan, even in Taliban areas. Because CAI schools rely heavily on community involvement, militant groups have largely avoided destroying or damaging what are perceived as locally-backed projects. To date, the CAI has built 130 schools in the two countries. To learn more about CAI or to get involved, visit www.ikat.org.
3. Aceh Rebuilt
Five years after the Indian Ocean Tsunami devastated communities in Aceh, Indonesia, rebuilding efforts in the hardest-hit province are wrapping up. In November, aid group CRS announces that it has met its reconstruction goals in Aceh.
4. Karadzic Faces the International Criminal Court. Sort of.
Although the alleged Bosnian Serb war criminal boycotts the opening of his trial, claiming that he did not have sufficient time to examine the evidence against him – 10 years on the lam wasn’t enough time? – Radovan Karadzic does appear in court on November 3. The trial is expected to resume in March of next year.
5. Kidnapped Aid Workers Released
After being seized by Somali gunmen in Kenya, three aid workers with Action Against Hunger are released three months later. In a similar bit of good news, assailants also free kidnapped aid workers snatched in Sudan’s Darfur region.
6. U.N. Demands Halt to Rape as War Weapon
Unanimously voted in, resolution 1888 reflects the 15-member body's "demand for the complete cessation by all parties to armed conflict of all acts of sexual violence with immediate effect." Plans are in the works to create a special U.N. post to front the effort.
7. Detained Journalists Freed in Iran, Iranian Writers Honored
Following domestic and international protests, jailed U.S./Iranian journalist Roxana Saberi is released from a Tehran prison. Saberi had been originally sentenced to eight years in prison for “having collaborated with a hostile state.” Newsweek journalist Maziar Bahari is also released after being held for nearly four months following Iran’s June elections. In November, Human Rights Watch honors four Iranian writers with prestigious Hellman/Hammett awards for their courage in the face of political persecution.
8. Latin America Takes Steps Towards Equality
Mexico City backs a gay marriage bill, making the city the first in Latin America to legalize gay marriage. In another first, Uruguay passes a same-sex adoption bill, granting same-sex couples the right to adopt children.
9. Zimbabwe Slowly (Very Slowly) Improving
Following political instability, runaway inflation and a devastating cholera outbreak, Zimbabwe is making some inroads to recovery. HIV prevalence rates continue to fall and inflation is dropping. After months of fruitless negotiations, Zimbabwe’s rival leaders reach an agreement on commissions for human rights, election and the media, possibly putting an end to ongoing political deadlock.
10. Child Brides Take a Stand
A Saudi court rules in favor of an 8-year-old girl seeking to divorce her 47-year-old husband. Soon after the decision, the Saudi justice minister announces plans to enact a law protecting young girls from marriages. In rural India, young girls follow the lead of Rekha Kalini, who attracted widespread attention after refusing a forced marriage.
For more news highlights from 2009, catch the Global Pulse year-end special Once and Future News 2009-2010.
Is misogyny an inherent part of Afghan culture? No, it's not. As far back as the 1920s, the Afghan government showed support for women. Mahmud Tarzi, Afghanistan's Foreign Minister and the King's father-in-law, was an "ardent supporter" of women’s education. In the late 1970s the Soviet-backed People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan gained power and expanded women’s rights substantially.
After the Soviet war, fundamentalist "Mujahideen" warlords gained power. "Serious wide-spread violations of 'women's rights' by Mujahideen soldiers included rape and torture," writes Sonali Kolhatkar in Change Links. Eventually, the Taliban seized power, further eroding human rights and basic freedoms, especially for women.
The situation of women in Afghanistan has improved since the Taliban rule, but even now remains desperate. Many are still routinely raped, abused and treated like second-class citizens. Then it was the Taliban, now President Karzai has passed a law backed by fundamentalist parliamentarians and clerics that legalizes abuse towards Shiite women.
When boys grows up seeing how their fathers, uncles or brothers mistreat women in the family, they cannot be expected to see that a women has rights or opinions. By passing laws that further instill abusive treatment of women, Afghan men find justification to continue mistreating them. Karzai himself is part of this mindset, as is indicated in this Times of London editorial: "[Karzai's] wife, Zinat Karzai, a medical doctor...has no voice, is rarely seen in public and is reported to have told an activist that she did not leave the house because her husband did not like it and did not give his permission."
Malalai Joya, an Afghan ex-MP and champion for justice and women’s rights who is featured in this week's Global Pulse episode, said in an interview with the Belfast Telegraph, "Karzai rules only with the permission of the warlords. He is 'a shameless puppet'...the only people who get to serve as president are those selected by the US government and the mafia that holds power in our country." She goes on to say that there is no difference between the Taliban and the warlords that are in power now, and that they were the ones that introduced the "laws oppressing women followed by the Taliban."
In a country where 85% of women have no formal education, where women are so desperate for justice that they set themselves ablaze and where women cannot even step outside of their house without their husband's permission, how can we in the West really believe that Afghanistan is really a democracy and that things are getting better for Afghan women?