Tuesday 26th April 2011
European Powers Draft UN Condemnation Of Syrian Crackdown | US listed Pakistan spies as terrorists | Guantánamo Bay terrorists radicalised in London to attack Western targets | Ukraine marks Chernobyl nuclear disaster | Devotees fear for Indian guru's charity empire | Gagging orders are out of control, says BBC's Andrew Marr as he abandons injunction over affair | BBC part of 'possible propaganda media network' for Al Qaeda | Barack Obama wasn't qualified for Ivy League claims Donald Trump | Wi-Fi security flaw for smartphones puts your credit cards at risk | Smashing stereotypes of Arab women | 3534 human traffickers arrested in 2009-10: Malik | Why the Israeli-Palestinian conflict refuses to be resolved | Former spokesman in captive soldier's case becomes a Hamas minister | Londonderry priest offers to meet Real IRA members | White House rulers should double-think comments |
European Powers Draft UN Condemnation Of Syrian Crackdown
RFE - 26th April 2011
France, Germany, and Britain are reported to be drafting a text at the UN condemning the crackdown on protesters in Syria.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is also calling for an independent probe after reports that Syrian security forces killed at least 39 people and wounded 70 more in the southern city of Deraa on April 25.
The White House said it is considering fresh sanction against Syria to halt the crackdown.
White House spokesman Jay Carney said the Obama administration has been pressing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for weeks to live up to his promises to enact reforms.
"As it is for all of these countries," Carney said, "it is up to the people of Syria to decide who [their] leader should be. That's what we believe. And the Syrian people should certainly be respected, their rights should be respected, they should not be attacked, they should not be killed as they express their grievances to the Syrian government."
Later, President Barack Obama spoke by phone with Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan and the White House said they expressed deep concern about the violence.
Human-rights advocates say security forces have killed an estimated 400 people since protests began more than a month ago.
Syria sent troops and tanks into Deraa to crush the popular uprising against Assad's regime. It was thought to be the first time authorities have used tanks to quell what has so far been a month of peaceful protests. Independent confirmation of the reports was impossible because most foreign journalists have been expelled from the country.
In the latest violence, a witness told Reuters that he saw bodies lying in a main street near the Omari mosque in Deraa. He said eight tanks and two armored vehicles had deployed in the old quarter of the city, snipers were posted on government buildings, and security forces in army fatigues were shooting randomly at people's houses.
Al-Jazeera quoted a Deraa resident named Mohsen who said tanks at the city's entrance points were shelling targets inside the city.
Amateur video posted on a social media website showed people throwing rocks at slow-moving tanks, scenes of destruction near the mosque, security forces and tanks in firing positions, and the sound of artillery fire.
Al-Arabiya television quoted an eyewitness as saying that there were "20 martyrs" in the city and that five officers and 10 soldiers had refused orders to shoot citizens.
Another witness told Al-Jazeera that he saw a unit commander and his troops protecting civilians while the wounded were dragged off the street.
Syria also closed all its border crossings along its southern border with Jordan. A Syrian woman who lives in Jordan but has family in Deraa told Reuters that "bodies are on the ground" in that city.
"They are telling me that tanks are surrounding Deraa, in the streets of Deraa. They are bombing Deraa. Snipers are everywhere," she said. "Whoever looks from window is shot. They raid houses to arrest injured people. They are doing everything. They are doing everything illegal."
Syrian state television quoted an army official as saying that troops had entered Deraa at the request of citizens to hunt "extremist terrorist groups."
The show of brute force by the authorities comes on the heels of the historic April 21 decision by Assad to lift the country's 48-year state of emergency.
Within 24 hours of that announcement, however, security forces had killed some 100 people across the country who had continued to call for reform.
Amateur video posted to a social media website showed protesters at a funeral in Deraa chanting, "God is greatest!" and "With blood, we defend you, martyr!"
In Washington, a White House spokesman repeated a statement President Barack Obama issued following the April 22 violence, which "condemn[ed] in the strongest possible terms the use of force by the Syrian government against demonstrators" and called the violence "outrageous."
Obama's statement also called Assad's decision to lift the emergency law "not serious, given the continued violent repression against protesters."
The White House said the U.S. government is considering imposing additional sanctions on Syrian officials. As a State Department-designated "state sponsor of terrorism," Syria is already subject to several penalties.
"We're pursuing a variety of options, or looking at, rather, a range of options, including targeted sanctions," Carney said. "What we have seen is that sanctions can put pressure on governments and regimes to change their behavior, and I think that would obviously be the goal of this."
The Associated Press, quoting administration officials, said new asset and travel bans are already being written and will target Assad and his inner circle.
US listed Pakistan spies as terrorists: document
RNW - 26th April 2011
US investigators who screened prisoners considered Pakistani intelligence to be a terrorist group, leaked documents said, laying bare the deep mistrust between the two countries' spies.
A secret 2007 US list of "terrorist and terrorist support entities" listed Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) alongside some 70 other groups including Iranian intelligence, the Taliban, Hamas and Hezbollah.
The list appeared on a memorandum from the controversial US camp for war prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba and was obtained and released by the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks.
The exposure of the private US assessment may cause new strains in the relationship between the United States and ISI, which has longstanding ties to militants but has also worked closely with the CIA.
The WikiLeaks release came just as General David Petraeus, the top US officer in Afghanistan, visited Pakistan and the same day President Barack Obama met top aides for a regular review of strategy toward the two countries.
Top US military officer Admiral Mike Mullen visited Islamabad last week where he was unusually blunt, saying that ISI ties to Afghanistan's Al-Qaeda-allied Haqqani network had caused strains with the United States.
In another part of the leaked document, Guantanamo investigators are told that association with the ISI "in the late 1990s up to 2003" was a sign of Taliban or Al-Qaeda affiliation.
Pakistan helped create the Taliban, who imposed an austere brand of Islam on Afghanistan after taking over in 1996. But Pakistan allied with the United States after the September 11, 2001 attacks planned by Afghan-based Al-Qaeda.
Pakistan, which has received billions of dollars in US aid in the past decade, has bristled at suggestions it is playing a double-game, noting that militants have killed thousands of Pakistanis and even attacked the ISI's headquarters.
The leaked documents showed a complex relationship between the ISI and the United States, which has depended heavily on Pakistani intelligence while at the same time maintaining suspicions.
Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the self-confessed mastermind of the September 11 atrocity and the most prominent prisoner at Guantanamo Bay, was arrested by the ISI and handed over to the United States.
But documents also pointed to Guantanamo inmate Haji Sahib Rohullah Wakil, alleging that the Afghan helped Al-Qaeda members escape into Pakistan and had been given a permit by a Pakistani official for convoys across the border.
A secret document released by WikiLeaks alleged that Wakil "worked in conjunction" with Pakistani intelligence "to undermine the current Afghan government" led by President Hamid Karzai.
In a separate document obtained by The New York Times, interrogators said that Wakil mentioned that the ISI and a Saudi group deposited money in a bank account he jointly maintained in the Pakistani city of Peshawar.
Al-Qaeda guerrillas who fled US-led military action in Afghanistan have set up a virtual safe haven in Pakistan's north Waziristan, a mountainous region that has never been under full control of the Islamabad government.
The United States has relied on unmanned drones to target accused extremists in North Waziristan, infuriating Pakistani leaders who say the attacks violate sovereignty and kill civilians.
The Pakistani military has used force against homegrown Taliban in other areas including the Swat valley after they approached perilously close to Islamabad.
But US officials often voice concern that Pakistan draws distinctions between Islamist movements, with the ISI seen as maintaining ties to militants who are active in Afghanistan and who target historic rival India.
Guantánamo Bay terrorists radicalised in London to attack Western targets
At least 35 terrorists incarcerated at Guantánamo Bay were sent to fight against the West after being indoctrinated by extremist preachers in Britain, secret files obtained disclose.
Robert Winnett, Christopher Hope, Steven Swinford and Holly Watt - Daily Telegraph - 26th April 2011
Abu Qatada and Abu Hamza, two preachers who lived off state benefits after claiming asylum, are identified by the American authorities as the key recruiters responsible for sending dozens of extremists from throughout the world to Pakistan and Afghanistan via London mosques.
The leaked documents, written by senior US military commanders at Guantánamo Bay, illustrate how, for two decades, Britain effectively became a crucible of terrorism, with dozens of extremists, home-grown and from abroad, radicalised here.
Finsbury Park mosque, in north London, is described as a “haven” for extremists. United States intelligence officials concluded the mosque served as “an attack planning and propaganda production base”.
The files will raise questions over why the Government and security services failed to take action sooner to tackle the capital’s reputation as a staging post for terrorism, which became so established that the city was termed “Londonistan”.
The documents show that at least 35 detainees at Guantánamo had passed through Britain before being sent to fight against Allied forces in Afghanistan. This is thought to be more than from any other Western nation.
Of those, 18 were originally from abroad. The other 17 were British nationals or citizens granted residency here after claiming asylum, who were indoctrinated before being sent to terrorist training camps in Afghanistan.
The Government has paid millions of pounds in compensation and benefits to people regarded as highly dangerous by the US authorities.
Qatada, who was paid compensation under human rights laws for being “unfairly detained”, is described as “the most successful recruiter in Europe” and a “focal point for extremist fundraising [and] recruitment”. Hamza is accused of encouraging “his followers to murder non-Muslims”.
Four mosques in London and an Islamic centre are highlighted as places where young Muslim men were radicalised and turned into potential terrorists. Finsbury Park mosque “served to facilitate and training of recruits,” note the files, adding that it was “a haven for Islamic extremists from Morocco and Algeria.”
The Daily Telegraph, along with other international newspapers, is publishing details of more than 700 files on the Guantánamo Bay detainees obtained by the WikiLeaks website.
Earlier, this newspaper disclosed that dozens of terrorists held at the prison had admitted plotting a wide array of attacks against targets in Britain and America. However, it also emerged that more than 150 innocent people had been sent to Guantánamo.
Now, the key role that Britain and British-based preachers played in the lives of many of the Guantánamo detainees can be disclosed.
British intelligence services also provided information, including lists of suspected extremists seized from raids on Islamic centres, to the US military as it interrogated detainees. The information was passed on despite the Government publicly condemning the use of torture at Guantánamo.
The leaked documents also reveal that:
• Sixteen detainees sent back to Britain are regarded as “high risk” by the US authorities and are liable to plan attacks against the West. However, they have been paid a reported £1?million each in compensation by the Government. For the first time, details of their alleged extremist activities, including travelling to Afghanistan to fight against British troops, are disclosed;
• The US government suspected the BBC of being a “possible propaganda media network” for al-Qaeda after details of a phone number at the broadcaster was found in the possession of several suspected terrorists. The number, which now appears to be disconnected, was thought to be for an employee of the BBC World Service, which was then funded by the Foreign Office;
• Terrorist recruits from across Africa and the Middle East flocked to London to claim asylum, often after travelling through other European countries;
• British taxpayers’ money was used to bankroll an Afghan politician who was sent to Guantánamo Bay after being exposed as an al-Qaeda aide. Mullan Haji Rohullah received more than £300,000 to destroy his opium crop – but he sold the drugs and kept the money from the Department for International Development.
• Four of the Guantánamo detainees were “British intelligence sources” who betrayed their paymasters.
• The last remaining British national at the prison is an al-Qaeda commander who directed terrorist forces in Tora Bora during the Afghanistan conflict. His family, who were previously allegedly paid directly by Osama Bin Laden, is thought to have received compensation from the Government.
The files help to explain American anger towards the British authorities, who have been regularly accused of failing to tackle radicalisation in this country.
The top-secret documents show how Muslim men travelled to European countries such as France, from where they obtained fake EU passports. They then crossed the channel to take advantage of Britain’s generous asylum system.
Extremist preachers radicalised the men at London mosques, showing them videos of atrocities committed against Muslims in Bosnia and Chechnya.
According to one document, Finsbury Park mosque was “a key transit facility for the movement of North African and other extremists in London to and from al-Qaeda training camps in Afghanistan”.
They were flown to Pakistan and Afghanistan at the terrorist group’s expense, put up in special guesthouses and sent to the training camps. They were introduced to senior al-Qaeda figures including Bin Laden and taught to fight and make bombs. Wives were arranged for some terrorists and their families received generous payments.
The US government condemned the release of the Wikileaks documents. In a statement, the Pentagon said: “It is unfortunate that news organisations have made the decision to publish numerous documents obtained illegally by WikiLeaks concerning the Guantánamo detention facility. These documents contain classified information about current and former detainees, and we strongly condemn the leaking of this sensitive information.
“The WikiLeaks releases include Detainee Assessment Briefs (DABs) written by the Department of Defence between 2002 and early 2009. These DABs were written based on a range of information available then. Any given DAB illegally obtained and released by WikiLeaks may or may not represent the current view of a given detainee.
“The previous and current administrations have made every effort to act with the utmost care and diligence in transferring detainees from Guantánamo.”
Barack Obama, the US President, previously made a high-profile pledge to close the Guantánamo Bay facility and prosecute in the criminal courts those alleged to have broken the law.
However, the pledge has now been largely abandoned and the US authorities recently announced that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the most senior terrorist at the prison and the alleged mastermind behind the September 11 attacks, will be tried at a controversial military tribunal.
Mohammed, who was tortured more than 100 times, has admitted his involvement in dozens of plots, including plans to hijack aircraft and crash them into Heathrow airport, Big Ben and Canary Wharf, and assassination attempts against Pope John Paul II and former President Bill Clinton. He is among 15 so-called kingpins at the prison who are unlikely to ever be freed.
Ukraine marks Chernobyl nuclear disaster
Tuesday marks the 25th anniversary of the worst nuclear accident on record,
when a reactor blew up, killing thousands.
Al Jazeera - 26th Apr 2011
Black-clad Orthodox priests sang solemn hymns, Ukrainians lit thin wax candles and a bell tolled 25 times for the number of years that have passed since the Chernobyl disaster as the world began marking the anniversary of the worst nuclear accident in history.
Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill led the nighttime service early on Tuesday near a monument to firefighters and cleanup workers who died soon after the accident from acute radiation poisoning.
"The world had not known a catastrophe in peaceful times that could be compared to what happened in Chernobyl,'' said Kirill, who was accompanied by Mykola Azarov, Ukraine's prime minister, and other officials.
"It's hard to say how this catastrophe would have ended if it hadn't been for the people, including those whose names we have just remembered in prayer," he said in an emotional tribute to the workers sent to the
Chernobyl plant immediately after one of its reactors exploded to try to contain the contamination.
The service commemorates the time of the blast on April 26, 1986. The explosion spewed a cloud of radioactive fallout over much of Europe and forced hundreds of thousands from their homes in the most heavily hit areas in Ukraine, Belarus and western Russia.
The explosion released about 400 times more radiation than the US atomic bomb dropped over Hiroshima. Hundreds of thousands were sickened and once-pristine forests and farmland still remain contaminated.
The UN's World Health Organisation said at a conference in Kiev last week that among the 600,000 people most heavily exposed to the radiation, 4,000 more cancer deaths than average are expected to be eventually found.
Several hundred Ukrainians, mostly widows of plant workers and those sent in to deal with the disaster, came to Tuesday's service to pay their respects to their loved ones and colleagues. Teary-eyed, they lit candles, stood in silence and crossed themselves to the sound of Orthodox chants.
"Our lives turned around 360 degrees,'' said Larisa Demchenko, 64. She and her husband both worked at the plant, and he died nine years ago from cancer linked to Chernobyl radiation.
"It was a wonderful town, a wonderful job, wonderful people. It was our youth. Then it all collapsed," she said.
Russia, Ukraine and Belarus have cut the benefits packages for sickened cleanup workers in recent years, and many workers complained directly to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev as he handed them awards for their work at a ceremony on Monday in Moscow.
Officials in Bryansk, the Russian region most contaminated by the disaster, have failed to make necessary repairs at the local cancer hospital, worker Leonid Kletsov told the president.
"It's the only place of rest for us," he said. "Officials promised to renovate it, but these promises are still promises."
Devotees fear for Indian guru's charity empire
RNW - 26th April 2011
Deep grief in India over the death of guru Sathya Sai Baba is compounded by one practical concern among followers: who will run his hugely wealthy trust and its myriad of charitable schemes.
The spiritual leader, whose millions of followers across the globe believe had supernatural powers, used donations to build up a sprawling empire of free hospitals, schools, clinics, prayer centres and other properties and assets.
His trust, which has often been criticised for lack of transparency, is estimated to be worth up to $9 billion. But its future is in doubt after Sai Baba died aged 85 on Sunday without leaving a will or a named successor.
Devotees, who often credit Sai Baba for magically healing them of illnesses or providing free life-saving medical operations, say they worry that any battle for succession may taint the guru's shining legacy.
"We want the trust to continue Baba's work. There are many who are eyeing the top position for the money. This is not acceptable," said Narayanan Ravi, a follower in Sai Baba's hometown of Puttaparthi in India's southeast.
The Andhra Pradesh state government has tried to curb speculation about the future.
"Baba still lives with us and all the matters of the trust are in order," state chief minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy said within hours of his death. "There'll be no change. The trust will continue to function the way it did."
The announcement did little to dampen rumours that the organisation had grown so large that the state government was considering taking it over.
Sai Baba established ashrams in 126 countries as well as hospitals in Puttaparthi and Bangalore, according to his website. The trust also runs a university, museum and aid projects providing drinking water.
Founded in 1972, the trust has always been unclear about its hierarchy but most observers say the key influences are now long-time secretary K. Chakravarthi and R.J. Ratnakar, son of Sai Baba's younger brother.
Other trustees include a retired vice chancellor of the university, a former Supreme Court judge and the trust's accountant.
For the guru's followers, the uncertainty added to distress over his death as they prepared for his burial on Wednesday.
"People would donate money, gold, silver to the trust to express their love and devotion," said Radha Gopalchari, a member of the Sai Baba branch in New Delhi who says he gave a plot of land in 1999.
"I hope the trust will remember to make good use of gifts, which people gave after their prayers were answered by Sai Baba."
Also bound up with the trust's fate is the town of Puttaparthi itself.
It grew from a small village into a hectic pilgrimage site due to Sai Baba's presence and now boasts an airport, numerous hotels and hundreds of other related businesses ranging from travel agents to trinket stalls.
Whether devotees will still pour in without Sai Baba's public meetings and regular appearances is unclear -- and a fall in donations could mean tough times ahead for the trust.
"It's quite natural that the flow of funds is bound to slow down drastically after the Baba," K.A.N. Moorthy, a businessman from Puttaparthi, told the Hindu newspaper.
"The future of his good work in the education and healthcare space depends largely on how the existing funds are managed."
Devotees pour into Puttaparthi, darshan timing extended
With devotees continuing to surge into the town to offer their homage to the late Sathya Sai Baba, authorities on Tuesday extended the final darshan timing till midnight.
Three special trains from Secunderabad, Visakhapatnam and Vijayawada brought in a large number of devotees to the town on the final day of darshan.
Inspector General (Rayalaseema Region) Santosh Mehra said the darshan timing, which was to end at 6 pm today, has been extended till about midnight.
“Devotees are standing in queue of about 1.5 km and their arrival is on the rise. We are trying to ensure that all devotees have an opportunity to have final glimpse of Sai Baba,” who passed away on Sunday after battling multi-organ failure, he said.
“We have spoken to Sai Trust authorities with regards to the extension of darshan timings from 6 pm till midnight and they have agreed for the same,” he said.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna are among the VVIPs who are expected to visit the town this evening to offer their tributes to Sai Baba.
Sai Baba would be buried in the Sai Kulwanth Hall here with full state honours between 9 and 9.30 am on Wednesday.
Gagging orders are out of control, says Andrew Marr
as he abandons injunction over affair
Sam Greenhill - Daily Mail - 26th April 2011
Andrew Marr can today be revealed as one of the celebrities with a gagging order to hush up an extra-marital affair.The 51-year-old BBC broadcaster becomes the first public figure voluntarily to admit trying to conceal his infidelity.
Mr Marr won a High Court injunction in January 2008 to suppress reports of a relationship with a fellow journalist five years earlier.
At the time, he believed he had fathered a child with the woman. He also made maintenance payments – until he discovered through a DNA test that he was not the girl's father.
When challenged by the Daily Mail yesterday, Mr Marr declared he was now embarrassed by his gagging order and would no longer seek to prevent the story being published.
His affair, which ended in 2003, was common knowledge at Westminster and within the BBC, where he was political editor. But the injunction banned publication of his name in connection with the story.
Mr Marr said injunctions should not last 'for ever' and that their increased use by celebrities was 'out of control'.
Almost 30 gagging orders are in place and, in the past fortnight alone, they have been granted to a Premier League footballer, a leading actor and a married television star.
'I did not come into journalism to go around gagging journalists,' Mr Marr said.
'Am I embarrassed by it? Yes. Am I uneasy about it? Yes. But at the time there was a crisis in my marriage and I believed there was a young child involved.
'I also had my own family to think about, and I believed this story was nobody else's business.
'I still believe there was, under those circumstances, no legitimate public interest in it.'
Mr Marr has been married for 23 years to Jackie Ashley, a Guardian columnist, and they have a son aged 21 and daughters aged 19 and 16.
The unmarried woman with whom he had a brief relationship eight years ago is a prominent political journalist. Her daughter is now seven.
As public controversy over injunctions intensified, Mr Marr found himself featuring in newspapers anonymously, with his face published as a silhouette, alongside other mystery celebrities who have cheated on their wives but who could not be named.
That led him to the conclusion that he no longer wished to share their company.
Last night Mr Marr, who once edited the Independent newspaper and now hosts his own politics show on BBC1 on Sunday mornings, called for a 'proper sense of proportion' in injunction cases.
Judges have been criticised for bringing in a privacy law by the back door, when MPs have passed no such legislation through Parliament.
Even David Cameron has expressed unease at the way judges increasingly help the rich and famous to hide their philandering behind a cloak of secrecy.
Mr Marr's move highlights the absurdity of the current law, and critics will hope it helps pave the way for a fundamental rethink.
'I know these injunctions are controversial, and the situation seems to be running out of control,' he said.
Of his original decision to go to court, he added: 'The injunction allowed me and my family the time and space needed to repair and heal itself at a very difficult time.
'None of this has been particularly pleasant, nor am I proud of it, but we are still together as a family and I am delighted about that.
'Everybody involved has tried to deal with this in a grown-up manner.
'There is a case for privacy in a limited number of difficult situations, but then you have to move on. They shouldn't be for ever and a proper sense of proportion is required.'
In reference to one of the latest cases, when a judge last week issued a gagging order which in theory applied to anyone and everyone, Mr Marr added: 'Injuncting the entire universe seems to be going a bit too far.'
Mr Marr is a hugely respected figure at Westminster and has forged a reputation as a wordsmith and a political commentator.
Friends say he would never regard himself as a Lothario.
After the heartbreak of confessing the affair to his wife, Mr Marr and his family were determined it would not tear them apart. They put their children first, and set about rebuilding their relationship.
Mr Marr met Miss Ashley – the daughter of Lord Ashley of Stoke, a Labour peer and the first deaf MP – in 1986 when he was working for the newly-launched Independent and she was working for ITN.
MPs and journalists alike were agog when rumours started spreading about his infidelity. At the time, Mr Marr offered to resign but the BBC refused to accept his offer, and his wife stood by him.
He was one of the first to be granted the privacy injunction, but he has watched with growing embarrassment as it has spawned into a lucrative industry for lawyers and the first port of call for unfaithful footballers and other celebrities.
And although he was never actually named, he was frequently in the uncomfortable position of having his case publicly referred to by other journalists.
Some of them complained that it was hypocritical of him to have a gagging order at the same time as striving professionally to break news and hold politicians to account.
Mr Marr decided to go public after being contacted by another publication – thought to be the satirical magazine Private Eye – which planned to challenge his injunction, taken out in 2008 against Associated Newspapers, publisher of the Daily Mail.
As that would have involved further legal action, he decided, after discussing the issue with his wife, to walk away from the controversial gagging order.
When the Daily Mail approached him, he said he would no longer seek to prevent the facts being reported.
His extra-marital relationship is understood to have taken place over a few months around Christmas 2002. He was half-way through his five-year stint as the BBC's political editor, reporting live from Downing Street most evenings.
Yesterday, Mr Marr declined to discuss his affair or to identify the woman, whom he had known professionally for some time.
Nor would he comment on why he had been paying maintenance to the child for so long before asking for a DNA test.
Some friends cited his sense of honour, while others said it was sheer naivety. Mr Marr stopped making the payments last year.
Yesterday he said: 'This happened more than eight years ago, and we have all moved on ages ago.'
Unlike some of the recent injunction cases, in which women have been prevented from speaking about their affairs with famous men, the woman journalist in Mr Marr's case has never personally been gagged.
She could have written under her own name identifying Mr Marr but has chosen not to.
The BBC broadcaster is considered one of the stars of his generation, his languid charm and sharp intelligence making him a household favourite.
His recent series, The Making of Modern Britain, was a hit for the BBC and his many successes include presenting Radio 4's Start The Week.
In his spare time, friends say his passions include his family, art, painting, literature, politics and cooking.
Mr Marr lives in East Sheen in South-West London where he and his wife often host dinner parties.
In 1995, he was named columnist of the year at both the What the Papers Say Awards and the British Press Awards. In 2001, he was the winner of the journalist prize in the Channel 4 Political Awards.
Wikileaks accuses BBC of being part of 'possible propaganda media network'
for Al Qaeda
Daniel Martin - Daily Mail - 26th April 2011
The BBC could be part of a ‘propaganda media network’ for al-Qeada, according to U.S. files published by Wikileaks.
A phone number of someone at the BBC was found in phone books and programmed into the mobile phones of a number of militants seized by the Americans.
The number is believed to be based at Bush House, the headquarters of the BBC World Service.
The assessment on one of the detainees at the Guantanamo camp, dated 21 April 2007, said: ‘The London, United Kingdom, phone number 0044 207 XXX XXXX was discovered in numerous seized phone books and phones associated with extremist-linked individuals.
‘The number is associated with the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC).’
The U.S. assessment file said forces had uncovered many ‘extremist links’ to the BBC number – indicating that extremists could have made contacts with employees at the broadcaster who were sympathetic to extremists or had information on ‘ACM’ (anti-Coalition militia) activities.
An analyst’s note on the file states: ‘Numerous extremist links to this BBC number indicates a possible propaganda media network connection.
Network analysis might provide leads to individuals with either sympathetic ties to extremists or possibly possessing information on ACM operations.’
The BBC number appears in the file of Turki Mish’awi Zaid Alj-Amri, a Saudi who was ‘assessed to be a member of al-Qaeda, who travelled to Afghanistan to participate in jihad.’
The US files says Alj-Amri had stayed at al-Qaeda camps and had received training there. He had also fought against Coalition forces at Tora Bora in Afghanistan.
'Many of the telephone numbers in his pocket litter have been associated with multiple ACM personnel, indicating he may have played a greater role in multiple activities than previously assessed.’
He was repatriated to Saudia Arabia in late 2009.
The BBC number listed on the file is now dead, but the revelation could further dent the broadcaster’ reputation for impartiality. It has for years faced claims it is biased towards the left.
But this is the first time the BBC has been linked to Islamic extremism.
In September 2006, BBC chairman Michael Grade held an ‘impartiality summit’ to assess whether there was a left-wing bias.
A leaked account of the meeting showed that executives admitted they would broadcast an interview with Osama Bin Laden, the founder of al-Qaeda.
They said they would give him a platform to explain his views, if he approached them.
Former BBC political editor Andrew Marr later said the BBC was not ‘impartial or neutral’, saying it had a ‘liberal bias’.
A spokesman for the BBC said: 'Independence and impartiality are at the heart of all BBC World Service output. The service has interviewed representatives of organisations from all sides involved in the Afghan conflict so it would not be surprising that a number believed to relate to the BBC Pashto service was in circulation.'
Barack Obama wasn't qualified for Ivy League claims Donald Trump
Daily Telegraph - 26th Apr 2011
Real estate mogul Donald Trump suggested in an interview on Monday that President Barack Obama had been a poor student who did not deserve to be admitted to the Ivy League universities he attended.
Mr Trump, who is mulling a bid for the Republican presidential nomination, offered no proof for his claim but said he would continue to press the matter as he has the legitimacy of the president's birth certificate.
"I heard he was a terrible student, terrible. How does a bad student go to Columbia and then to Harvard?" Mr Trump said in an interview with The Associated Press. "I'm thinking about it, I'm certainly looking into it. Let him show his records."
Mr Obama graduated from Columbia University in New York in 1983 with a degree in political science after transferring from Occidental College in California. He went on to Harvard Law School, where he graduated magna cum laude 1991 and was the first black president of the Harvard Law Review.
Mr Obama's 2008 campaign did not release his college transcripts, and in his bestselling memoir, "Dreams From My Father," Mr Obama indicated he hadn't always been an academic star. Mr Trump told the AP that Mr Obama's refusal to release his college grades were part of a pattern of concealing information about himself.
"I have friends who have smart sons with great marks, great boards, great everything and they can't get into Harvard," Mr Trump said. "We don't know a thing about this guy. There are a lot of questions that are unanswered about our president."
Katie Hogan, a spokeswoman for Mr Obama's re-election campaign, declined to comment.
Mr Trump has shaped himself as an ultraconservative candidate, reversing some positions he once held. He now would make abortion illegal, opposes gay marriage and gun control. He advocates repeal of Mr Obama's health care overhaul that became law last year. He wants to cut foreign aid, is highly critical of China's trade and monetary policies and wants to end the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
But he has got the most political traction by latching onto the "birther" movement: those who believe claims initiated by the far-right that Mr Obama was born outside the United States – despite the release of official birth records in Hawaii and other evidence. The U.S. Constitution requires that presidential candidates be "natural-born" U.S. citizens.
Of late, Mr Trump has appeared in interviews on all the major American cable television networks, pushing relentlessly his message that Mr Obama needs to prove he was born in the United States. He points to his rising poll numbers as proof that Americans like what he is saying on that deeply divisive issue.
"I have more people that are excited about the fact that I reinvigorated this whole issue," Mr Trump said, adding "the last guy (Obama) wants to run against is Donald Trump."
Mr Trump is scheduled to travel to the early primary states of New Hampshire and Nevada this week and said he will make a final decision about a presidential bid by June.
Wi-Fi security flaw for smartphones puts your credit cards at risk
BT Openzone and other hotspots can be easily mimicked leaving consumers vulnerable
Charles Arthur and Steve Boggan - Guardian - 26th April 2011
Millions of smartphone users and BT customers who use Wi-Fi wireless internet "hotspot" connections in public are vulnerable to fraud and identity theft, a Guardian investigation has established.
In tests conducted with volunteers – to avoid breaching telecommunications and computer misuse laws – security experts were able to gather usernames, passwords and messages from phones using Wi-Fi in public places.
In the case of the best-selling Apple iPhone 4 and other smartphone handsets, the information could be harvested without the users' knowledge and even when they were not actively surfing the web if the phone was turned on.
BT, the UK's biggest provider of such hotspots with five million of its "Openzone" connections in the UK in train stations, hotels and airports, admitted that it has known of the weakness for "years" and that it is working on a permanent fix. But it has no timetable for when it might be implemented.
Using a £49 piece of communications equipment and software freely available for download from the internet, the investigation established that crooks could set up bogus Wi-Fi "gateways" to which the latest generation of mobile phones would automatically connect. Once a connection is established, all the information passing through the gateway can be either be read directly or decrypted using software that will run on a laptop.
In another test, a fake Wi-Fi hotspot invited people to "pay" for internet access with their credit card – but required them to click a box to accept terms and conditions which clearly stated "you agree we can do anything we like with your credit card details and personal logins".
A number of people entered their details. The Guardian did not retain any users' details in the experiment.
Not only could the information be used to steal identities, hijack email accounts and commit fraud but also to gather information about individuals and company employees. With the information gained in our investigation, fraudsters could have bought goods online or sent multiple e-gift vouchers worth as much as £1,000 each to pre-set email addresses. It is believed that such vouchers are already being traded by crooks over the internet.
The attack works because public Wi-Fi hotspots have no form of identification except their name, which an off-the-shelf device can mimic. Many smartphones are sold with automatic connectivity to BT's Openzone Wi-Fi hotspots to enhance the contract and reduce the load on the mobile carrier's data network from the phones, while offering faster connectivity.
Jason Hart, chief executive of the security company Cryptocard in Europe, said: "An O2 iPhone will automatically connect, because BT Openzone connectivity is usually part of the package for free internet access. It will pass over its credentials and because it can see the internet through the hotspot, it will start sending and receiving data."
BT, which boasts of having 2.5 million Wi-Fi hotspots available to its 5 million broadband customers said: "This hack is known as 'Evil Twin' and has been known to the industry and others for some years."
The company is working with the Wireless Broadband Alliance, an industry group which aims to help hotspot providers deliver a "reliable and trustworthy" service, to introduce a security system known as 802.1x, which forces detailed authorisation when devices connect. But it is not clear whether the devices themselves will be able to detect fake hotspots.
Apple, manufacturer of the top-selling iPhone series, declined to comment. O2 did not respond to requests for comment.
BT broadband customers who agree to allow a part of their Wi-Fi bandwidth to be used publicly are, in turn, allowed to use the Wi-Fi of other subscribers. The resultant Wi-Fi community is called BT Fon and utilises wireless routers – boxes which broadcast the Wi-Fi signals – in people's homes. BT Openzone users have to provide usernames and passwords. Subscribers may use both services through their smartphones. On the first use anywhere, they must give a username and password – but after that, their phones forever hunt out hotspots with the names "BT Fon" and "BT Openzone" hotspots automatically, and will join them.
Stuart Hyde, the Association of Chief Police Officers' lead on e-crime prevention, said: "We became aware of the potential for criminals to use Wi-Fi in this way last year and have become increasingly concerned. All they need is to set themselves up in a public place with a laptop and a mobile router called 'BTOpenzone' or 'Free Wifi' and unsuspecting members of the public come along and connect to them.
"Once that happens, there is software out there that enables them to gather usernames and passwords for each site a user signs in to while surfing the net. And once criminals have access to your email accounts, Facebook account, Amazon history and so on, the potential for fraud and identity theft is very serious indeed.
"Until there are improvements in security, I would advise people to be very wary indeed when using insecure Wi-Fi in public places."
Professor Peter Sommer, a cyber-security expert at the London School of Economics, said: "This is all very alarming. It means that literally millions of people who use Wi-Fi in public could be at risk. If criminals are able to harvest the usernames and passwords of all the websites you visit, they could do significant damage in terms of identity theft and fraud.
"The safest route for existing users of mobile phones, particularly if they use BT Fon or Openzone, is to switch off their Wi-Fi when they leave home and only use it on systems they know to be secure – such as at home or at work. Everywhere else you use Wi-Fi – whether in a coffee shop, an airport, a railway station and especially out in the street – you are taking a calculated risk."
The experiment: how we set up 'evil twin'
Experts commissioned by the Guardian conducted two exploits to demonstrate how crooks could cash in on bogus Wi-Fi gateways. In the first, Jason Hart set up his mobile Wi-Fi router, the size of a cigar packet, at St Pancras International station in London and soon saw half a dozen smartphones try to connect to it.
Only the phones of our volunteers were allowed to connect. Because modern smartphones regularly "push" email and other updates automatically, they sent the owners' usernames, passwords and messages through the bogus BT Wi-Fi gateway, in one case while the phone was in a volunteer's pocket. Free software downloaded from the internet was then used to decrypt and display the information on a computer attached to the router.
The Guardian is withholding details of this software, but was shown details of its workings, which uses the power of modern graphics chips to decode encrypted data.
For the second exploit, Adam Laurie, director of Aperture Labs Ltd, demonstrated how bogus Wi-Fi gateways can be used to harvest credit card numbers. He established a fake paid-for gateway with its own website at Waterloo station. Users are allowed on to a gateway web page but must pay to use it to access the internet.
First they must provide their name and credit card details – including the CCV security code on the back and the expiry date – and agree to a terms and conditions policy. Our usage policy warned potential subscribers that it provided no protection for their private information. Incredibly, during a 30-minute period in the station, three people agreed to the terms and conditions and tried to log on and provide credit card details. To avoid breaching the law, Laurie rejected all these approaches.
Mobile phones data tracking - a cause for concern?
Smashing stereotypes of Arab women
Women have been at the forefront of various Arab uprisings, forging their own identity in the process.
Soumaya Ghannoushi - AJE- 26th April 2011
The Arab revolutions are not only shaking the structure of tyranny to the core - they are shattering many of the myths about the Arab region that have been accumulating for decades. Topping the list of dominant myths are those of Arab women as caged in, silenced, and invisible. Yet these are not the types of women that have emerged out of Tunisia, Egypt, or even ultra-conservative Yemen in the last few weeks and months.
Not only did women actively participate in the protest movements raging in those countries, they have assumed leadership roles as well. They organised demonstrations and pickets, mobilised fellow citizens, and eloquently expressed their demands and aspirations for democratic change.
Like Israa Abdel Fatteh, Nawara Nejm, and Tawakul Karman, the majority of the women are in their 20s and 30s. Yet there were also inspiring cases of senior activists as well: Saida Saadouni, a woman in her 70s from Tunisia, draped the national flag around her shoulders and partook in the Qasaba protests which succeeded in toppling M. Ghannouchi's provisional government. Having protested for two weeks, she breathed a unique revolutionary spirit into the thousands who congregated around her to hear her fiery speeches. "I resisted French occupation. I resisted the dictatorships of Bourguiba and Ben Ali. I will not rest until our revolution meets its ends, for your sakes my sons and daughters, not for mine," said Saadouni.
Whether on the virtual battlefields of the Internet or the physical protests in the streets, women have been proving themselves as real incubators of leadership. This is part of a wider phenomenon characteristic of these revolutions: The open politics of the street have bred and matured future leaders. They are grown organically in the field, rather than being imposed upon from above by political organisations, religious groups, or gender roles.
Another stereotype being dismantled in action is the association of the Islamic headscarf with passivity, submissiveness, and segregation. Among this new generation of prominent Arab women, the majority choose to wear the hijab. Urbanised and educated, they are no less confident or charismatic than their unveiled sisters. They are an expression of the complex interplay of Muslim culture, with processes of modernisation and globalisation being the hallmark of contemporary Arab society.
This new model of home grown women leaders, born out of revolutionary struggle, represents a challenge to two narratives, which, though different in detail, are similar in reference to the myth of Arab cultural singularity; they both dismiss Arab women as inert creatures devoid of will-power.
The first narrative - which is dominant in conservative Muslim circles - sentences women to a life of childbearing and rearing; women are to live in the narrow confines of their homes at the mercy of their husbands and male relatives. Their presence must revolve around notions of sexual purity and family honour; reductionist interpretations of religion are looked upon for justification.
The other view is espoused by Euro-American neo-liberals, who view Arab and Muslim women through the narrow prism of the Taliban model: Miserable objects of pity in need of benevolent intervention from intellectuals, politicians, or even the military. Arab women await deliverance from the dark cage of veiling to a promised garden of enlightenment.
Arab women are rebelling against both models: They are seizing the reigns of their own destinies by liberating themselves as they liberate their societies from dictatorship. The model of emancipation they are shaping with their own hands is one defined by their own needs, choices, and priorities - not anyone else's.
Although there may be resistance to this process of emancipation, Tahrir Square and Qasaba are now part of the psyche and formative culture of Arab women. Indeed, they are finally given a voice to their long-silenced yearnings for liberation from authoritarianism - both political and patriarchal.
Soumaya Ghannoushi is a freelance writer specialising in the history of European Perceptions of Islam. Her work has appeared in a number of leading British papers including the Guardian and the Independent.
3534 human traffickers arrested in 2009-10: Malik
South Asian News Agency - 26th April 2011
ISLAMABAD: Interior Minister Rehman Malik informed the national assembly on Monday that 1755 human traffickers were arrested during 2009 and 1779 in 2010.
He said human trafficking information system has been established in the FIA and interlinked with zonal offices. He said FIA takes stern action against human traffickers, smugglers, facilitators and sub agents.
With reference illegal crossing on Pak-Afghan border at Torkham, the Minister said negotiations are underway with the Afghan Government to set up biometric system at the check posts to stop illegal crossings. However he said despite an agreement the Afghan government is still reluctant to set up biometric check posts.
Answering another question the Interior Minister said misuse of blasphemy laws is always checked and taken care of. He said the convicted persons under these laws have also the right to go to High Court and Supreme Court.
Federal Minister Syed Naveed Qamar told the House that import of used or re-conditioned cars are not allowed under the current Import Policy and the position is unchanged. However he said overseas Pakistanis can either gift or bring it as personal baggage or on transfer of residence a used car not more than five years old once in two years.
Federal Minister Dr. Firdous Ashiq Awan told the House during question hour that a package is being prepared for revival of industrial unites damaged during the floods last year.
Replying to a question she said provision of soft loan is one of the options in the package. She said a total of 146 industrial units were damaged in the floods. She said Nowshera was the most hit area where 56 industrial units out of 190 were damaged.
The Minister said a policy is being formulated for utilization of water in future which is presently being wasted. She said a number of projects are in the pipeline with the help of China in this regard.
Why the Israeli-Palestinian conflict refuses to be resolved
The author argues that peace remains elusive because the conflict is unprecedented in human history.
A.B. Yehoshua - Ha'aretz - 26th April 2011
The question in the headline should ostensibly be directed to a Middle East expert, a political scientist, or even a foreign historian, not a writer whose expertise is his imagination. But because the question is a real one that is painful to everyone in the region regardless of his nationality, I will try to propose an answer.
This question is serious and disturbing for two reasons. First, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is one of the longest-running conflicts in the modern era. If we mark its beginning at the start of Zionist settlement in Palestine in the 1880s, the conflict has been active, in blood and fire, for about 130 years.
Second, this is not a remote conflict in a godforsaken place, but one constantly at the center of international awareness. That means it is one of the most extensively dealt-with conflicts in the world. In the past 45 years alone, the conflict between the Palestinians and the Israelis has been the subject of serious attempts at mediation by many countries and respectable international organizations. Presidents of the United States have tried to mediate personally between the sides. Heads of government from all over the world devote their attention to it; high-level emissaries come to the region to try their hand at mediation and compromise. All this is on top of tireless initiatives by organizations and individuals on both sides in well-meaning symposia and meetings. Studies, books and innumerable position papers have been written and are being written all the time.
And although the sides have come to partial agreements in direct, secret and open talks, and although the formulas for a solution have seemed clear and acceptable, and even though these are two small nations that are ostensibly subject to international dictates, the conflict still contains an inner core that stubbornly refuses to surrender to peace.
It's true that there have been many mistakes and missed opportunities on both sides throughout the years. And because this conflict is cyclical rather than linear - in other words, time does not necessarily bring us closer to a solution, but peace approaches and recedes at historical junctions in the past and future - there is reason to wonder what makes this conflict unique compared to other conflicts, what causes it to persevere so zealously. I do not presume to intimate that my answer is the exclusive one, but I will try to put it to the test.
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict refuses to be resolved because it is a conflict unprecedented in human history. There is no precedent for a nation that lost its sovereignty 2,000 years ago, was scattered among the nations, and later decided for internal and external reasons to return to its ancient homeland and re-establish sovereignty there. Therefore, if everyone considers the modern return to Zion a unique event in human history, that means the Palestinian people or the Israeli Arabs have also been forced to face a unique phenomenon that no other nation has confronted.
In the early 19th century there were only about 5,000 Jews in the Land of Israel, compared with the 250,000 to 300,000 Palestinian Arabs. At the time of the Balfour Declaration in 1917 there were about 50,000 Jews compared with 550,000 Palestinians Arabs. (These numbers are from the Jewish Encyclopedia. ) And by 1948 there were about 600,000 Jews versus 1.3 million Palestinian Arabs.
The Jewish people thus quickly ingathered from all corners of the world. They did not want to expel the Palestinians, and certainly not to destroy them, but neither did they want to integrate them into Jewish society as other nations did with the local residents. Moreover, there was no attempt here to impose a colonial regime, since the Jews had no mother country that had sent them on colonial conquests, as in the case of Britain or France. Here something original and unique in human history took place: A nation arrived in the homeland of another nation to replace its identity with an ancient-new one.
That is why at its most profound level, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not a question of territory, as in the case of many historical conflicts between nations, but a battle over the national identity of the entire homeland - every stone and every part of it. For both sides, and mainly for the Palestinians, the size of the nation confronting them is not clear - whether it consists only of Israeli Jews or the entire Jewish diaspora. And the Israelis don't know whether they are confronting only the Palestinian people or the entire Arab nation. In other words, the demographic boundaries of the two sides are not clear either. This is therefore a fundamental conflict that constantly creates primal and profound mistrust between the two peoples, preventing a possible solution.
Is it still possible to resolve the conflict without ending up in the trap of a binational state? I believe so, but because this is a question I haven't been asked, I won't answer it now.
Former spokesman in captive soldier's case becomes Hamas minister
Xinhua - 26th April 2011
Hamas on Monday appointed an official involved in the issue of a captive Israeli soldier as education minister in its government in the Gaza Strip.
The new minister, Osama Al-Muzini, has got the confidence of Hamas' lawmakers, said Ahmed Abu Halabia, a Hamas legislator in Gaza City.
The 45-year-old academic had been authorized to talk to the media about the situation of indirect negotiations between Hamas and Israel to release the soldier, Gilad Shalit, for a number of Palestinian prisoners.
Egypt and Germany had mediated between Hamas and Israel since Shalit was kidnapped in 2006, but failed to broker an agreement. Hamas is still holding Shalit.
Hamas, which won parliamentary elections in 2006, routed security forces loyal to President Mahmoud Abbas and seized control of Gaza in 2007.
Londonderry priest offers to meet Real IRA members
BBC News - 26th April 2011
A Londonderry priest has offered to meet members of the Real IRA, after the dissident group threatened to kill more police officers. The threat was made in a statement by a masked man at a rally organised by the 32 County Sovereignty Movement in the city on Monday.
The statement also made clear the Real IRA's opposition to the Queen's upcoming visit to Ireland.
Fr Michael Canny said dissidents offered "darkness and despair".
"I would be prepared to meet anybody and talk to anybody, but I have a feeling that these people have set their sights on one course and that is trying to unite Ireland by force," Fr Canny said.
"That is what the agenda is and there is no other room for manoeuvre.
"I am saying that it cannot be done by force, that it can only be done by convincing people and through the democratic process."
The 32 County Sovereignty Movement organised the rally to mark the anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising.
It is regarded as the political wing of the Real IRA, the organisation which claimed responsibility for the Omagh bomb which killed 29 people and unborn twins in 1998.
It also killed two soldiers in Antrim two years ago and exploded a car bomb in Derry last year.
In a statement read out at the City Cemetery in Derry, the Real IRA said police officers would be targeted "regardless of their religion, cultural background or motivation".
On the Queen's visit, the masked man said: "The Queen of England is wanted for war crimes in Ireland and is not wanted on Irish soil."
White House rulers should double-think comments
Tehran, IRNA - 26th April 2011
Iran here Tuesday advised rulers in US White House to double-think before making comments, rejecting Pres. Barrack Obama’s comments on Iran’s involvement in Syria as repetition of Hilary Clinton’s words on subject.
According to the Foreign Ministry information website, the IRI Ministry of Foreign Affairs Spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast reacting to the US President Barrack Obama’s claims on Tehran’s involvement in suppressing the Syrian people’s uprising said that such claims are just a part of the psychological war launched by the united Sates during the past decades against our country aimed at deviating the regional and world public opinion from the unlimited support of Washington for the criminal Tel Aviv regime and the other puppet regimes in the region.
Mehmanparast said, “The background of the US interventions in internal affairs of various countries, military presence, and eventually occupation of them is quite evident and the blood of the freedom seeking nations in Bahrain, Yemen, Iraq, Afghanistan, and… countries, too, are being shed using American facilities.”
He further reiterated, “The regional nations would never forget the unilateral support of the White House for the illegitimate Zionist regime, its occupations, and its crimes during the past six decades against the oppressed Palestinian and Lebanese nations… as well as support for the dictators in Egypt and Tunisia till the last moments, and the massacre of the defenseless Bahraini nation, which are clear instances of the US double standards and hypercritic policies against the regional nations, and they will not be cheated by the White House deceitful games anew.
This report is in part summarised from Radio Netherlands.
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