(MSNBC) U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has been in discussions with the White House about leaving her job next year to become head of the World Bank, sources familiar with the discussions said on Thursday.
The former first lady and onetime political rival to President Barack Obama quickly became one of the most influential members of his cabinet after she began her tenure at State in early 2009.
She has said publicly she did not plan to stay on at the State Department for more than four years. Associates say Clinton has expressed interest in having the World Bank job should the Bank’s current president, Robert Zoellick, leave at the end of his term, in the middle of 2012.
“Hillary Clinton wants the job,” said one source who knows the secretary well.
A second source also said Clinton wants the position.
A third source said Obama has already expressed support for the change in her role. It is unclear whether Obama has formally agreed to nominate her for the post, which would require approval by the 187 member countries of the World Bank.
The White House declined to comment.
A spokesman for Clinton, Philippe Reines, denied she wanted the job or had conversations with the White House about it.
Revelations of these discussions could hurt Clinton’s efforts as America’s top diplomat if she is seen as a lame duck in the job at a time of great foreign policy challenges for the Obama administration.
However, the timing of the discussions is not unusual given that the United States is considering whether to support another European as head of the World Bank’s sister organization, the IMF.
The head of the IMF has always been a European and the World Bank presidency has always been held by an American.
That unwritten gentleman’s agreement between Europe and the United States, is now being aggressively challenged by fast-growing emerging market economies that have been shut out of the process.
The United States has not publicly supported the European candidate for the IMF, French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde, although Washington’s support is expected.
Neither institution has ever been headed by a woman.
If Clinton were to leave State, John Kerry, a close Obama ally who is chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, is among those who could be considered as a possible replacement for her.
Clinton’s star power and work ethic were seen by Obama as crucial qualities for her role as the nation’s top diplomat, even though she did not arrive in the job with an extensive foreign policy background.
She has embraced the globe-trotting aspects of the job, logging many hours on plane trips to nurture alliances with countries like Japan and Great Britain and to visit hot spots like Afghanistan and countries in the Middle East.
She has long been vocal on global development issues, especially the need for economic empowerment of women and girls in developing countries. She has made that part of her focus at State. Her husband, Bill Clinton, has also been involved in these issues through his philanthropic work at the Clinton Global Initiative.
The World Bank provides billions of dollars in development funds to the poorest countries and is also at the center of issues such as climate change, rebuilding countries emerging from conflict and recently the transitions to democracy in Tunisia and Egypt
(Al Jazeera) – Scores of Bahraini doctors and nurses who treated injured anti-government protesters have been charged with attempting to topple the kingdom’s monarchy.
The 23 doctors and 24 nurses were formally charged on Monday during a closed door hearing in a special security court.
The 47 accused have been in detention since March, when the country declared martial law in order to clamp down on a wave of demonstrations that swept the tiny kingdom earlier this year.
Though the emergency law was lifted last week, Bahraini authorities have warned opposition activists of “consequences” in case of any further challenges to the government.
‘Firing on marchers’
On Sunday, Bahraini police clashed with Shia marchers at religious processions in villages across the country, the country’s opposition al-Wefaq movement and residents said.
Police used tear gas, rubber bullets, sound grenades and bird shot to break up the marches, which were taking place in several Shia villages around Manama, the country’s capital, residents and members of al-Wefaq said.
Residents said that some gatherings were purely religious, while at others marchers shouted slogans against the ruling al-Khalifa family, including “The people want the fall of the regime”, a chant that has become the symbol of similar protests in Tunisia and Egypt which dethroned long-time rulers.
In Sitra, residents said that several people were injured and that a house was set on fire.
“We condemn this attack, this kind of attack will make the situation even worse,” said Sayyed Hady of al-Wefaq. “This event is so, so normal in Bahrain, we’ve been doing it for centuries … the authorities said they won’t attack religious events, but this is what they did.”
On Sunday, a government official denied that widespread clashes had taken place.
“There are no clashes really, there were some outlaws who caused some problems but these were small incidents that were quickly stopped. The situation is stable and back to normal,” he told Reuters.
Journalists have been unable to verify the reports, as police have set up checkpoints sealing many Shia-majority areas. From outside those areas, the Reuters news agency reported that its reporters heard shouting and smelled tear gas.
The Shia villagers, some beating their chests and chanting religious verses, were marching to commemorate the festival of one of their 12 Imams.
Months of unrest
The fresh unrest comes just two days after the country’s Formula One Grand Prix was reinstated. The race had been postponed from its original March date due to widespread protests at the time.
As that decision was announced, security forces were engaged in a fresh crackdown, firing tear gas and rubber bullets at activists gathered in Manama for the funeral of a protester they said had been killed by tear gas inhalation.
In March, Bahrain’s Sunni rulers asked for military support from its Gulf Arab neighbors to suppress the protests, which have in particular called for democratic reforms and more rights for the country’s Shia-majority citizens.
Bahrain is home to the US Navy’s Fifth fleet, and as such is a key ally for that country in the region. Saudi and Emirati forces appear to be set to remain the country indefinitely in order to ensure that the protesters do not achieve their goals.
(AlJazeera English) – Israeli forces have opened fire along the Syrian frontier to disperse a large crowd of pro-Palestinian demonstrators attempting to breach the border.
At least 20 protesters were killed, including a 12-year-old boy, and 220 others were wounded as they marched from the Golan Heights on Sunday, Syrian state TV said.
The crowd had approached the border on Sunday, a day observed as “Naksa day” or “Day of Defeat”, marking the 44th anniversary of the 1967 war, when Israel occupied the area.
Al Jazeera’s Andrew Simmons, reporting from Jerusalem, said Israeli forces opened fire in the air, but made no comment on any casualties.
“Although Syrian television is reporting casualties, there is no way of verifying it at this stage,” he said.
“But we have seen this advance of a large number of protesters who managed to breach one line of razor wire and then effectively got positioned in the centre of it all in a trench area.”
Protesters, most of them young men, eventually managed to cut through coils of barbed wire marking the frontier, entering a buffer zone and crawling toward a second fence guarded by Israeli troops.
Every so often, demonstrators were seen evacuating a dead or wounded protester.
Mustafa Barghouthi, an independent Palestinian politician, told Al Jazeera: “What we saw in the Golan heights, in front of the checkpoint to Jerusalem, were peaceful Palestinian demonstrators demanding their freedom and the end of occupation, which has become the longest in modern history.
“And they were encountered by terrible violence from Israel. They have used gunshots, tear gas, sound bombs and canisters emanating dangerous chemicals against demonstrators.
“They also beat us. I was one of those who was beaten today by the Israel soldiers today while we were peacefully trying to reach the checkpoint to Jerusalem.”
Ghayath Awad, a 29-year-old Palestinian who had been shot in the waist, told the AP news agency at a hospital: “We were trying to cut the barbed wire when the Israeli soldiers began shooting directly at us.”
Mohammed Hasan, a 16-year old student wounded in both feet, said: “We want on this occasion to remind America and the whole world that we have a right to return to our country”.
The United States State Department on Sunday expressed its concern over the clashes.
“We are deeply troubled by events that took place earlier today in the Golan Heights resulting in injuries and the loss of life,” the State Department said in a statement.
“We call for all sides to exercise restraint. Provocative actions like this should be avoided.”
The US statement emphasised that “Israel, like any sovereign nation, has a right to defend itself”.
The recent protests are designed to draw attention to the plight of Palestinian refugees who fled or were expelled from their homes during Israel’s war of independence in 1948.
Now, around half a million Palestinian refugees live across 13 camps in Syria.
Avital Leibovich, the Israeli army’s spokesman, told Al Jazeera: “We [the military] saw near 12 noon an angry mob of a few hundreds of Syrians trying to reach the border fence between Israel and Syria.
“We did three steps. We first warned them verbally, we told them not to get close to the fence in order for them not to endanger their lives.
“When this failed, we fired warning shots into the air. When this failed, we had to open fire selectively at their feet in order to prevent an escalation.”
The Israeli military accused the Syrian government of instigating the protests to deflect attention from its bloody crackdown of a popular uprising at home.
“This is an attempt to divert international attention from the bloodbath going on in Syria,” said Leibovich.
Israel had vowed to prevent a repeat of a similar demonstration last month, in which hundreds of people burst across the border into Israeli-controlled Golan Heights.
More than a dozen people were killed in that unrest, in which protesters had gathered to mark the 63rd anniversary of the “Nakba day”, to mark the expulsion of an estimated 700,000 Palestinians following Israel’s 1948 declaration of statehood.
Original Article – http://english.aljazeera.net/news/middleeast/2011/06/20116591150521659.html
(AlJazeera English) Anonymous’s rapid rise from the depths of geekdom to becoming a catalyst and nerve center for real-life revolutionaries is one that has taken even some of its own members by surprise.
The loosely-knit hive brings anonymous techies, hackers and, increasingly, activists together under a single appellation, united in their non-violent but often illegal collective action.
With high-profile campaigns, centered on “distributed denial of service” (DDoS) attacks that knock target websites offline, it has been transformed from a fringe group of law-breaking pranksters that emerged in 2006 into an international movement that draws new recruits by their thousands.
In an interview with a group of Anons conducted on their home turf, Internet Relay Chat (IRC), they tell Al Jazeera that they are fighting, above all, for the free flow of information.
“You can’t make a decision on something if you don’t know anything about it,” one Anon says.
“I’m into this because it’s a more modern and technical approach than traditional activism like protesting against [the] G8 or something like that,” another adds.
While some traditional activists have criticized the group for its methods, few would argue that its unique cocktail of anonymous civil society and collective action has proven to be powerful agents of change.
Indeed, Amnesty International, the prominent human rights NGO, chose to focus its 2011 annual report on what it describes as the “critical battle [that is] under way for control of access to information, means of communication and networking technology”.
Widney Brown, senior director of international law and policy at Amnesty’s international secretariat, told Al Jazeera that Anonymous’ outrage over government and corporate pressure against WikiLeaks underlined the hotly contested power dynamics that surround information.
“The desire to be able to speak freely about what is going on in your life is something that’s always there, but what we have with social media is the ability to amplify it,” she says.
“Governments are obviously threatened by the fact that activists have become so effective at using these new technologies and social media,” she says.
Amnesty considers the use of non-conventional methods by cyber-activists in defense of these principles as justified, so long as they are not violating other people’s legitimate right to privacy and security, Brown says.
Yet for Anonymous, personal privacy is not always sacred, as the very public nailing of the HBGary security firm – the firm’s CEO’s had his email hacked and his reputation destroyed in a stinging revenge attack, after threatening to reveal the identity of leading Anons – in February demonstrated.
The antithesis of the rampant individualism that the internet has fostered, through the likes of Facebook and self-promoting blogs, Anonymous represents the untameable wild west of the web, a world where geeks teach the corrupt and powerful a lesson.
Using pseudonyms, the Anons gather in the virtual space created by IRC, a type of online chatroom where they discuss technology, politics and activism, all with a dose of sexual banter and “lulz”(a play on LOL – laugh out loud – that describes the thrill of mischievous, and sometimes nasty, pranks).
The Anons are very much a product of this type of chat, says Gabriella Coleman, an anthropologist at New York University who has been following the group for several years.
“If you didn’t have IRC, you wouldn’t have Anonymous. That’s where they co-ordinate, that’s where they socialise, that’s where they have fun, that’s where they get to know each other,” she explains.
In the parallel, more manicured universe of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg has insisted that users make their real names known or face deletion, a principle that internet activists condemn as potentially life-threatening for activists in many parts of the world.
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange recently called Facebook an “appalling spy machine”, condemning the way in which the social network stores such extensive information on its users, information which can potentially be used against them by authorities.
For those who frequent IRC, in contrast, anonymous free speech is a fundamental value, and one for which they are willing to fight.
Most Anons take precautions to ensure that their identities remain hidden from the authorities, and from their fellow Anons.
“There’s definitely people involved who don’t care about the politics, but who want to create a kind of space where people can do politics,” Coleman says.
And it is a space to which many activists have turned to in recent months.
“Many people come here [be]cause they don’t know [an]other door where to knock to be listened when nobody else hears,” one Anon said.
Anonymous and the Arab Spring
While mainstream media was slow to tune in to the revolutionary drumbeat that has been rising in the Arab world, Anonymous was present from the beginning.
Tunisian Anons collaborated with their international counterparts on Operation Tunisia, which was launched on January 2 – well before most Western media outlets had clicked onto the fact that there was a revolution underway.
“We did initially take an interest in Tunisia because of WikiLeaks, but as more Tunisians have joined they care more about the general internet censorship there, so that’s what it has become,” one Anon told Al Jazeera in the midst of the DDoS attacks on selected Tunisian government sites.
As Anons realised the significance of what was taking place in Tunisia – and the fact that it was being ignored by foreign media – they collaborated with Tunisian dissidents to help them share videos with the outside world.
Anonymous quickly created a “care packet”, translated into Arabic and French, offering cyberdissidents advice on how to conceal their identities on the web, in order to avoid detection by the former regime’s cyberpolice.
They used their collective brainpower to develop a greasemonkey script – an extension for the Mozilla Firefox web browser – to help Tunisians evade an extensive phishing campaign carried out by the government.
After Tunisia, Anonymous’ interest in the wave of protest movements did not wane.
In Algeria, where internet use is more limited and web users have been slower to embrace trends like Twitter than their Tunisian neighbours, Operation Algeria never really kicked off, much like the protests on the street.
Operation Egypt, meanwhile, was launched on January 25 at the request of Egyptian activists and is viewed by many Anons as a success. Reflecting the mood on the streets of Cairo, it was decided from the outset not to attack media or to promote violence.
The Anons worked in collaboration with Telecomix, a cluster that uses legal means to promote free speech, to restore mirrors and proxies to help restore Egyptians’ access to sites being censored by the government. They even used faxes to communicate important information when the internet was no longer an option.
In the operations for Egypt and Tunisia, some lulzy methods were used that harked back to Anonymous’ past, including placing massive orders for pizza to be delivered to the countries’ embassies.
In contrast, the IRC channel for Operation Libya took on a more militant tone, particularly before NATO agreed to impose a no-fly zone when rebels were on the defensive.
“Libyan freedom fighters came to Anonops as a safe meeting point,” another Anon explains, referring to how some members of the Libyan opposition used IRC as a virtual shelter early on in the uprising.
“They were really thankful for listening to them and their problems and helping them, although we could only do so much,” another Anon adds.
Several Anons interviewed for this article agreed that Anonymous’ interaction with activists in the Arab world had changed the nature and demographics of their own movement.
“Previously, I’d say that Anons were pretty evenly distributed among North America, Europe, and Australia,” an Anon says.
“But since Anonymous’ actions in Tunisia especially, a lot more have taken up the Anonymous banner, around the Muslim world especially.”
Anonymous did, however, have a history of involvement of rallying in support of protest movements against authoritarian governments.
Operation Iran was founded during the protests which followed the country’s 2009 contested presidential election. The cyberactivists launched their subgroup to take down the “hitlist” websites of protesters’ photos which were being published by the Iranian government’s supporters.
Al Jazeera spoke to the founding member of Anonymous Iran, who says his group has around 15 dedicated members, mainly Iranian nationals living overseas, who are joined by hundreds of “seasonal” supporters whenever it launches a campaign.
“We don’t accept users from inside Iran because of the risk,” he says in an email interview.
“We are fighting for freedom of speech and ideas inside of Iran.”
Coleman says that, despite such precedents, Tunisia marks a turning point.
“[Anonymous] went to Tunisia because of the censorship. But in some ways, they stayed beyond censorship questions, and that enlarged the types of operations they’d be willing to engage in,” she says.
“It really shifted the realm of possibility.”
Anons in the West found they shared a common goal with those fighting oppression elsewhere in the world. And crucially, she says, regardless of nationality, religion or politics, Anons the world over are avid geeks.
Jacqui True, an associate professor of international relations at the University of Auckland, affirms that Anonymous’ involvement in the Arab Spring has been an exceptional case of kindred spirits meeting in cyberspace.
“They’ve been led into the Arabic-speaking world by Arabic-speaking activists, who they’ve found common ground with,” she says.
“The internet knows no borders, so even those who come to questions of political freedom and democracy from really different vantage points and from really different experiences can have a common cause.”
Interactive Timeline of Anonymous – http://english.aljazeera.net/indepth/interactive/2011/05/2011519182744550587.html
Original Article – http://english.aljazeera.net/news/middleeast/2011/05/201151917634659824.html
(MSNBC) TEHRAN, Iran — Telegraphing Iran’s negotiating stance entering key talks about its nuclear program in Turkey later this week, Tehran’s chief negotiator is charging that the United States was involved in a cyberattack that he said disrupted a peaceful program aimed at creating nuclear energy, not weapons.
In an exclusive interview with Richard Engel, chief foreign correspondent for NBC News, this week in Tehran, Saed Jalilli said that Iran’s investigation has determined that the U.S. was involved in the cyberattack using the Stuxnet computer worm, a virus which targeted centrifuges used to enrich uranium as part of Iran’s nuclear program.
“I have witnessed some documents that show … their satisfaction in that (the U.S. was involved),” he said.
Jalilli indicated, however, that the cyberattack was not as successful as some media accounts have portrayed it.
“Those who have done that could see now that they were not successful in that and we are following our success,” he said. He added that Iran is not the only country vulnerable to cyberattacks, as evidenced by the WikiLeaks release of U.S. diplomatic cables. “They are also weak and vulnerable,” he said of the United States.
Jalilli also fingered Iran’s enemies in deadly attacks against scientists working on Iran’s nuclear program, saying that the killings in Iran followed identification of the scientists in U.N. resolutions involving Iran’s nuclear program.
“We believe that there is a meaningful relation between the U.N. Security Council resolution and these kind of activities,” he said of the attacks, which have killed at least two Iranian scientists.
“It is a big question for the international community, and a big kind of question in that the name of the scientists of a country mentioned in the United Nations council resolution and then following that the terrorists assassinated them.”
Despite the tensions over Iran’s nuclear program, Jalilli said he is optimistic that progress can be made at the second round of international talks, which begin Saturday in Istanbul.
“The Islamic Republic of Iran is for talk around and on common points … which are accepted by both sides,” he said. “… Therefore we are ready to talk for whatever is important from folks.”
The cyberattack and the killings are likely to be discussed by Iran at talks in Istanbul with six major powers over its disputed nuclear activities. The talks follow U.N., U.S., and European Union sanctions imposed last year that target oil and gas sectors vital to the Iranian economy.
In the wide-ranging interview, Jalilli also discussed these aspects of the international row over Iran’s nuclear program:
- He maintained that the international sanctions have not had a serious impact and indicated that Iran will press for their removal at the upcoming talks. “Basically speaking the means of tools of sanctions is something for the old times,” Jalilli said. “… It’s a kind of indication of frustration … and with this view in mind we have invited them to return to the negotiation talks. And we believe that putting aside the wrong approaches and attitudes and adopting and choosing the approach of interacting and engagement with people is the best way to go.”
- He indicated that Iran would not agree to halt the enrichment of uranium – a key process in building a nuclear bomb – and maintained that Iran’s decision to begin producing 20 percent enriched uranium was strictly aimed at “covering our need for medication and isotopes,” to treat between 850,000 and 1 million Iranian cancer patients.
- He insisted that Iran has no interest in obtaining or building nuclear weapons. “We frankly and bluntly mentioned that nuclear weapons are illegitimate and inefficient and they could not help those countries which have the nuclear weapons,” he said. “Those countries and the powers who want to pursue their rights of relying on the nuclear weapons they are backwater nations and countries. … They are not capable of solving their issues and problems. Adding to that they are illegitimate and against humanity.”
- He said Iran has fully cooperated with the International Atomic Energy Agency by opening its nuclear facilities to inspection, rejecting suggestions that the country is operating other secret facilities as part of its effort to build nuclear weapons. “There is no report released by the IAEA, which show(s) that Iran is short coming of cooperation,” he said.
ROCHESTER HILLS, Mich. — A Michigan man who says he learned of his wife’s affair by reading her e-mail on their computer faces trial Feb. 7 on felony computer misuse charges.
Thirty-three-year-old Leon Walker used his wife’s password to get into her Gmail account. Clara Walker filed for a divorce, which was granted this month.
Leon Walker tells The Oakland Press of Pontiac he was trying to protect the couple’s children from neglect and calls the case a “miscarriage of justice.”
Oakland County Assistant Prosecutor Sydney Turner says the charge is justified.
Privacy law writer Frederick Lane tells the Detroit Free Press the law typically is used to prosecute identity theft and stealing trade secrets. He says he questions if a wife can expect privacy on a computer she shares with her husband.
(MSNBC) NEW HAVEN, Conn. — Sexual assault pervades the military, but the Pentagon refuses to release records that fully document the problem and how it is handled, the American Civil Liberties Union and other groups said in a federal lawsuit that seeks access to the records.
Tens of thousands of service members have reported some form of sexual assault, harassment or trauma in the past decade, according to the lawsuit filed Monday in New Haven against the departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs. The plaintiffs include the Service Women’s Action Network, the ACLU of Connecticut and Yale Law School students.
The groups that filed suit want information on the number of acquittals, convictions and sentences, the number of disability claims related to sexual trauma that were accepted and rejected, and the number of sexual harassment complaints. The records are needed to determine the extent of the problem and what has been done to address it, the groups say.
“The government’s refusal to even take the first step of providing comprehensive and accurate information about the sexual trauma inflicted upon our women and men in uniform … is all too telling,” said Anuradha Bhagwati, a former Marine captain and executive director of SWAN. “The DOD and VA should put the interests of service members first and expose information on the extent of sexual trauma in the military to the sanitizing light of day.”
Messages were left Monday with the departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs.
The government prosecutes 8 percent of military sex offenders, while 40 percent of civilian sex offenders are prosecuted, according to the lawsuit. Post-traumatic stress disorder claims related to sexual trauma are often denied for failing to prove the case, even when men and women in uniform have been diagnosed with the disorder, the lawsuit said.
The Department of Defense said there were 3,230 reports of sexual assault involving military service members as victims or subjects in fiscal year 2009, an increase of 11 percent from the prior year. The report said part of the increase stemmed from a social marketing campaign aimed at preventing sexual assault.
The lawsuit contends sexual assaults are nearly twice as common within military ranks as in civilian society, and surveys show that nearly one in three women report being sexually assaulted during their time in the military.
About 80 percent of unwanted or threatening sexual acts are not reported, according to the lawsuit. Victims who report abuse to their superiors often face social isolation, retribution and counteraccusations, the lawsuit says.
Sexual abuse is the primary causes of PTSD among female service members.
“Much of the information about the extent and cost of the (military sexual trauma) problem, along with the government’s reluctance to prosecute offenders and treat victims, is not in the public sphere,” the lawsuit states. “The public has a compelling interest in knowing this information, given the potential enormity of the problem, the emotional and financial cost that it imposes on military service members and the increasing number of women serving in Afghanistan and Iraq.”