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Daily Archives: 10/09/2010

Indonesian Playboy editor arrested to serve sentence

 

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October 09, 2010 (KATAKAMI) — The former editor of Indonesian Playboy, Erwin Arnada, has been arrested on the island of Bali.

Police had been looking for Mr Arnada, who ignored orders to surrender after being sentenced to two years in jail for indecency in August.

He had first been tried in 2007 and cleared of all charges.

Islamist groups forced Indonesian Playboy to close down after only a few issues in 2006.

The Islamist Defenders Front (FPI), a hardline Muslim group in Indonesia, had said Mr Arnada was a “moral terrorist”, and the group criticised the authorities for failing to track him down.

South Jakarta chief prosecutor Mohammed Yusuf said Mr Arnada had ignored three orders to turn himself in.

“We picked him up from Bali today to fly him to Jakarta”, Mr Yusuf said on Saturday.

Mr Arnada’s acquittal in 2007 was seen as a victory of freedom of the press in Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim nation where Islamist extremists launched violent protests when the magazine appeared in 2006.

But the FPI and other Islamist groups lodged an appeal with the Supreme Court, which found him guilty of public indecency after publishing a handful of issues of Indonesian Playboy, which contained no nudity.
“We are being forced to act by the FPI as a plaintiff in this case”, Mr Yusuf said on Saturday.
The Indonesian parliament passed a controversial anti-pornography law in 2008, which was backed by Islamist groups.

But the law also prompted protests across Indonesia, particularly on the predominantly Hindu island of Bali – a favourite destination for tourists.

BBC

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President Obama’s Weekly Address: Strengthening Education, Not Cutting It

President Barack Obama ( White House Photo, Samantha Appleton, 10/8/10)

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October 09, 2010 (KATAKAMI / WHITE HOUSE.GOV) — The other day, I was talking about education with some folks in the backyard of an Albuquerque home, and someone asked a question that’s stayed with me. He asked, if we don’t have homes to go to, what good is an education? It was a heartfelt question, one that could be asked by anyone who’s lost a home or a job in this recession.

Because if you’re out of work or facing foreclosure, all that really matters is a new job. All that really matters is a roof over your head. All that really matters is getting back on your feet. That’s why I’m fighting each and every day to jumpstart job-creation in the private sector; to help our small business owners grow and hire; to rebuild our economy so it lifts up a middle class that’s been battered for so long.

But even as we focus on doing all that; even as we focus on speeding up our economic recovery; we also know that when it comes to jobs, opportunity, and prosperity in the 21st century, nothing is more important than the quality of your education. At a time when most of the new jobs being created will require some kind of higher education; when countries that out-educate us today will outcompete us tomorrow, giving our kids the best education possible is an economic imperative.

That’s why, from the start of my administration, we’ve been fighting to offer every child in this country a world-class education – from the cradle to the classroom, from college through a career. Earlier this week, I announced a new Skills for America’s Future initiative that will help community colleges and employers match what’s taught in the classroom with what’s needed in the private sector, so we can connect students looking for jobs with businesses looking to hire.

We’re eliminating tens of billions of dollars in wasteful subsidies for banks to administer student loans, and using that money to make college more affordable for millions of students. And we’ve launched a Race to the Top in our states to make sure our students, all of them, are graduating from high school ready for college – so we can meet our goal of graduating a higher proportion of students from college than any other country in the world by 2020.

And yet, if Republicans in Congress had their way, we’d have a harder time meeting that goal. We’d have a harder time offering our kids the best education possible. Because they’d have us cut education by 20 percent – cuts that would reduce financial aid for eight million students; cuts that would leave our great and undervalued community colleges without the resources they need to prepare our graduates for the jobs of the future.

Now, it is true that when it comes to our budget, we have real challenges to meet. And if we’re serious about getting our fiscal house in order, we’ll need to make some tough choices. I’m prepared to make those choices. But what I’m not prepared to do is shortchange our children’s education. What I’m not prepared to do is undercut their economic future, your economic future, or the economic future of the United States of America.

Nothing would be more detrimental to our prospects for success than cutting back on education. It would consign America to second place in our fiercely competitive global economy. But China and India aren’t playing for second. South Korea and Germany aren’t playing for second. They’re playing for first – and so should America.

Instead of being shortsighted and shortchanging our kids, we should be doubling down on them. We should be giving every child in America a chance to make the most of their lives; to fulfill their God-given potential. We should be fighting to lead the global economy in this century, just like we did in the last. And that’s what I’ll continue fighting to do in the months and years ahead. Thanks, everybody, and have a nice weekend.

To restart peace talks, Israeli, Arab leaders look for compromise

Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas (left) listens to Qatari foreign minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani during a meeting of the Arab League yesterday. Photograph: Khaled Desouki/AFP/Getty Images


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October 09, 2010 (KATAKAMI) — Israeli and Arab leaders Friday continued to search for a compromise that would allow peace talks to continue this weekend, but both sides acknowledged that the current negotiations were making no progress.

As Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sought consensus within his Cabinet, possibly for a brief extension to the expired settlements freeze, the Arab League announced it was drafting alternative plans for continuing the peace talks.

“We will meet to formulate the beginning of alternatives within the framework that the negotiations are not bearing fruit,” said Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa, after a meeting Friday in Libya.

Anonymous officials quoted in the Arab news media said Arab countries would allow up to one month to search for alternatives, effectively delaying a decision amid international pressure for the peace talks to press forward.

The Arab League had been expected to vote on the position of Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas to suspend the talks until Israel agreed to freeze all construction in the West Bank settlements.

Egypt and Jordan had already decided to back Abbas’ position, but Moussa said the Arab League would take more time to continue to find compromises.

“There are no talks at the moment because the position of the Israelis is very, very negative. They are not cooperating in the negotiations,” Moussa said.

The apparent decision by the Arab League represents a small victory for U.S. Mideast peace envoy George Mitchell – buying him time to try to find a way for the direct talks to continue.

Israel’s most recent, 10-month freeze on settlements expired Sept. 26. For much of that time, Israeli and Palestinian leaders held indirect “proximity” talks, mediated by Mitchell.

President Mahmoud Abbas & PM Netanyahu in Washington (September 2, 2010)

Israeli and Palestinian leadership had agreed to start direct negotiations with great fanfare at the White House on Sept. 2.

But the looming end to the settlement freeze cast a shadow over the talks before they got under way. As settlers celebrated the end of the freeze by launching hundreds of building projects in the West Bank, Palestinians confirmed that they would not begin to meet to talk peace until that building stopped.

Settlements have long been a major stumbling block in peace negotiations.

Palestinians see them as a land grab by Israel. Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat has stated repeatedly that it is “pointless” for Palestinians to continue negotiations while settlements continue to expand on land earmarked for a future Palestinian state.

Israel, meanwhile, remains torn on the settlements with a recent poll by the Israeli company Dahaf finding that 54 percent of Israelis support their continued growth. Netanyahu, meanwhile, heads a largely right-wing coalition that is close to the settler movement.

While a number of Israeli lawmakers have spoken out in support of the settlements, few within Netanyahu’s inner Cabinet have agreed to speak publically about the behind-the-scenes negotiations to reach a compromise.

Israeli news media reported that the White House was putting “significant” pressure on Netanyahu, and had offered him a package that would include key security promises in exchange for extending a freeze on the settlements.

“We are considering a number of options at the moment, and are in daily communication with both the U.S. and other parties who want to be involved in the peace process,” said one Israeli official, who spoke anonymously because he was not authorized to discuss the negotiations.

He confirmed that several compromises had been suggested that would institute some form of a freeze on settlement construction for “a limited time.” Abbas has said that a “three- to four-month” freeze would be necessary to “give peace a chance.”

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Arab League urges US to call halt on Israeli settlements

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, center, listens to Qatar’s Foreign Minister Sheik Hamad Bin Jassem, right and Amr Moussa, Secretary general of the Arab League, during the Arab Foreign Ministers Peace Initiative meeting, in Sirte, Libya, Friday, Oct. 8, 2010. (Getty Images)

 

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October 09, 2010 (KATAKAMI) — Arab foreign ministers have given the US another month to persuade Israel to halt settlement activity in the occupied territories – backing the decision by Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, to suspend peace talks.

Talks in Libya produced a statement by the Arab League last night urging the Obama administration to carry on working for an extension of Israel’s 10-month settlement freeze, which expired last month, so that the already faltering negotiations can continue.

Abbas had urged ministers of the 22-member league to back his call for more time before pronouncing the talks a failure, as many observers predict they eventually will be.

Qatar’s foreign minister, Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani, who chaired the meeting in the coastal town of Sirte, told reporters: “The committee endorses the decision of President Abbas to stop the talks. It urges the American side to pursue efforts to resume the peace process and put it back on the right track, including stopping settlements.”

The league committee will meet again within one month to study alternatives proposed by Abbas.

The effect of the Arab decision is to allow the quest for negotiations to go into extra time despite what had appeared to be an early and potentially terminal crisis over the ever-intractable settlement issue.

Direct Israeli-Palestinian peace talks were ceremonially relaunched early last month in Washington and just two working sessions were held in Egypt and Jerusalem before the expiry of the settlement moratorium.

The US has urged Israel to extend it, but the prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, has refused to do so, arguing that the housing needs of Jewish settlers were simply a matter of “natural growth” and blaming the Palestinians for making an unreasonable demand.

Abbas and other Palestinian officials had made clear they would not be able to carry on negotiating with Israel without an extension of the freeze, even for two or three months.

Palestinians see the presence of 500,000 Israelis in some 120 settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem as a threat to the viability of their future state and a freeze as a key test of Israel’s good faith.

Diplomats and analysts say that while both sides are deeply pessimistic about prospects for success, neither wishes to be blamed for the collapse of the peace process. That would be a grave blow to US prestige and risk political chaos and a possible slide into violence on the ground.

“There are no talks at the moment because the position of the Israelis is very, very negative,” said the Arab League’s Egyptian secretary-general, Amr Moussa. “They are not cooperating in the negotiations.”

Abbas’s position was backed by Egypt and Jordan, which both have peace treaties with Israel, as well as Saudi Arabia and most Gulf states, which do not. But Libya and Syria have reservations. Syria’s foreign minister, Walid al-Muallem, conspicuously stated away from the Sirte meeting.

In the West Bank town of Hebron, meanwhile, Israeli troops shot and killed two Palestinians who were described as members of the military wing of Hamas, the Izzedine al-Qassam Brigades. The two were reportedly part of the cell responsible for an attack which killed four Israeli settlers on the eve of the relaunch of the talks.

Obama signs defense trade deals with UK, Australia

U.S. President Barack Obama speaks during an East Room event October 8, 2010 at the White House in Washington, DC. (Getty Images)

 

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(KATAKAMI / Reuters) – President Barack Obama signed defense industry trade agreements on Friday with close allies Britain and Australia, the White House said.

The pacts, designed to remove bureaucratic barriers and export license requirements between the nations’ defense industries, had been held up in the U.S. Senate after being agreed to by then-President George W. Bush in 2007.

Obama assured British Prime Minister David Cameron during a White House visit in July that he was working hard with the Senate to get the treaty passed, which he said would be good for workers and troops in both countries. The Senate approved the pacts late last month.

Cameron to make veterans a priority

Prime Minister David Cameron spoke to Russ Roberts, who served in the Army in Northern Ireland

 

October 08, 2010 (KATAKAMI / ShropshireStar.Com) – The Prime Minister has met veterans suffering the mental scars of battle and said helping them is a “priority”.

David Cameron has made the comments after speaking to ex-servicemen suffering from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and related conditions at a centre in Leatherhead, Surrey.

After helping some make poppies ahead of Remembrance Sunday, the PM said the mental health of those who have served in the Armed Forces needed to be taken “much more seriously”.

The visit to a centre set up by the charity Combat Stress comes days after Defence Secretary Liam Fox announced new services for veterans. A 24-hour helpline and additional mental health nurses have been pledged under the new provisions.

The Prime Minister has said the move was needed, even though it comes at a time when Government departments are under pressure to find spending cuts.

He said: “It is a priority to do more to help the mental health issues that veterans in our country have”Da.

“The fact is, for many people the mental scars that they have from the time they have served can be as serious or sometimes even worse than the physical scars and we need to take it much more seriously as a country.”
Just how much additional support helps those suffering from mental health problems associated with their time serving their country has been brought home to the PM.

Touring the centre, which cares for 30 patients at any one time, Mr Cameron spoke to those still suffering flashbacks and depression resulting from their time fighting in places such as Afghanistan and Northern Ireland.

Combat Stress currently helps around 4,400 ex-servicemen and women at three treatment centres in the UK.