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I think it is interesting that in just a few days we heard from the daughter of Emir of Qatar that MENA radical intervention into Syria was turning into a ruination of a legitimate struggle because of the violence and barbarism of the religious extremists. Then we heard from the daughter of Khomeini, father of the Iranian Revolution, that the current leaders may be ruining the revolution and replacing it with a dictatorship. What’s up with the new daughters of MENA? These women are not radicalized hippie eighteen year old children of farmers from the countryside. They are from the top elite of each country’s leadership. What gives with these women’s preference for nonviolence? Could this be a kindler, gentler effect of the Arab Spring? Or perhaps the culmination of longer processes at work? 

The answer is that the slow and steady increase of women’s voices …

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A Guatemalan court on Friday found former dictator Efrain Rios Montt guilty of genocide and crimes against humanity during the bloodiest phase of the country’s 36-year civil war.

He was sentenced to 50 years in prison on the genocide charge and 30 years for crimes against humanity. It was the first time a former head of state had been found guilty of genocide in his or her own country.

Rios Montt, 86, took power after a coup in 1982, and is accused of implementing a scorched-earth policy in which troops massacred thousands of indigenous villagers. He entered the court on Friday to boos and cries of “Justicia!” or justice.

Prosecutors say Rios Montt turned a blind eye as soldiers used rape, torture and arson to try to rid Guatemala of leftist rebels during his 1982-1983 rule, the most violent period of a 1960-1996 civil war in which as many as …

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I think today a great deal about the conviction of Charles Taylor, the first head of state to be convicted by the Hague.

Mr. Taylor was the first head of state convicted by an international court since the Nuremberg trials after World War II.

Prosecutors had sought an even longer sentence of 80 years. If carried out, the term decided on Wednesday would likely mean the 64-year-old Mr. Taylor will spend the rest of his life behind bars. Asked to stand as the sentence was read, he looked at the floor.

At a news conference after the hearing, Salamba Silla, who works with victims groups in Sierra Leone pleaded for more help for former child soldiers, orphans and other victims of the country’s war. “You can see hundreds of them begging on the streets of Freetown,” she said. “Many who suffered horrendously need help to return to the provinces,

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Ineffective tightening of sanctions on Iran

by mgopin on December 12, 2011 · 7 comments

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This article originally appeared on the Al Jazeeera English website on Dec. 12, 2011.  You can view it by clicking here .

Washington, DC – There is a long record of the grim effects of sanctions in international struggles against those states deemed as “rogue”. Sanctions are seen as righteous instruments, a non-violent way to pressure problematic regimes to change. But when you really don’t care about a country or its people, then your true attitudes emerge in the way in which you use the sanctions instrument of policy.

Let’s take Iraq. Based on estimates of the massive increase in child mortality rates through the years of the sanctions in the 1990s, anywhere from 300,000 to a million people lost their lives. But no one in Saddam’s inner circle, none of the wealthy, and none of the killers, died from those sanctions. Such sanctions were touted as an enlightened and …

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“…he was surprised by the housing protests across the country, ‘because the economy is doing well.” Time for a Jewish period of rebellion against the macroeconomics of super-wealth. Marie Antoinetzky meets real Jewish people–and their Arab neighbors. This is healthy for Israel and for peace. I love it when GDP and other measures fall right on their face in broad daylight. Harder to refute their nonsense about who is doing well and who is not, when the society is adding millionaires and billionaires like crazy and average people are going homeless. It is ironic, even astonishing, that just as the “Labor” Party in Israel has died under the able leadership of the ever altruistic Ehud Barak, that Tahrir Square, sorry Rabin Square, becomes too small to contain the nonviolent rage of the people. No big surprise:

At present, the richest people in Israel pay the least

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By Hind Aboud Kabawat (Senior Research Analyst and Expert in Conflict Resolution, CRDC, George Mason University).

Damascus, Syria

May 20, 2011

Can our beloved Syria be saved from the brink of destruction? This is clearly the question on the minds of millions of our fellow countrymen (and countrywomen). And it is truly astonishing how quickly events have transformed the so-called “facts on the ground” in this country. One of the most locked-down societies in the Middle East quite suddenly erupted in rage, anger and frustration after forty years of political repression and economic stagnation. Just think of it: the first demonstration was on March 15, just a mere two months ago. But so much has changed in the minds, hearts and aspirations of the Syrian people that it is impossible to think that we can ever return to the status quo ante—the Syria of March 14th.

What the …

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Reflecting on 2010, it’s clear that racism in Israel has reared its ugly head. A recent poll published by the Israel Democracy Institute found that only 51 percent of Israelis support equal rights between Jews and Arabs, while 53 percent think the state should encourage Arabs to emigrate from the country. Thepoll also established that Jewish Israelis find the idea of living next to an Arab more troubling than any other minority, and that in the event of war, 33 percent of Israelis support the idea of putting Arabs into internment camps.

In the last few months, these findings were given concrete expression in a number of incidents. These include:

A religious ruling signed and endorsed by 50 state-appointed rabbis forbidding Jews from renting or selling apartments to non-Jews. “Racism originated in the Torah,” said Rabbi Yosef Scheinen, head of the Yeshiva in Ashdod and one of the endorsers …

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Israel and Palestine Transforming the Rhetoric

by mgopin on September 22, 2010 · 2 comments

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By Kobi Skolnick

This summer serious and even fatal events took place surrounding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but even more significant ones are upon us now. These of course include the renewal of direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians and the growing nonviolent movement on the ground. Just Vision’s film, Budrus, which is being released in the US and the UK, documents a part of this movement.

Whereas political negotiations represent the current leaders in power, the film represents the struggle of the people on the ground. Leaders on both sides have failed their people again and again. This is the right time for them to listen to those who are raising the option of pragmatic peace based on human interactions. As the official peace talks take place under the eye of the mainstream media, people in the US and the UK who view this film will see the growing …

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The recent news of a rogue group of American military personnel murdering Afghans for sport is a sign of America’s war fatigue. The more the war drags on without attainable goals the worse the “quality control” of American troops. American troops are exhausted and over-stretched, and we must ask, what is there to be done?

The clear answer is deep engagement with the people of Afghanistan, engagement that wins the war through winning the people from the insurgents, and even winning over many of the insurgents. Here is how:

Vastly Expand CERP Funds

CERP stands for Commanders’ Emergency Response Program. These funds are being used by forward thinking commanders to reconstruct mosques and other basic construction needs. General Petreaus should significantly increase the quantity of these funds and the flexibility of their usage, particularly supporting commanders and chaplains in particular regions that have engaged the community, tribal and religious leaders …

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Trying to figure out why I am always trying to clean up messes that I did not create, messes that I predicted. So here we go again with the dance of clashes that others crave. I will be on Al Hurra at 4 because there are demonstrations happening in response all over the world.

The Obama administration has said that it is concerned about the proposed burning of the Koran by a US church group.

On Tuesday, the White House said that it supported recent comments from General David Patraeus, the chief commander of US and Nato troops in Afghanistan, that the torching could put US troops in the country at risk.

“It puts our troops in harm’s way, any type of activity like  that that puts our troops in harm’s way would be a concern to this administration,” Robert Gibbs, the White House spokesman, said.

A Church group in

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