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Anwar Ibrahim

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Anwar Ibrahim


The Un-American Way: On the Anti-Democratic ‘Trans-Pacific Partnership’

Posted: 23 Aug 2013 03:25 AM PDT

CommonDreams 

Why the TPP deal threatens food safety and public health

The United States is negotiating a NAFTA-style trade deal that should be alarming to American consumers. The main reason it's not getting much attention is that the mainstream media is largely ignoring it.

This pact deserves more news coverage. It threatens to undermine our own laws and increase the opportunity for corporate takeovers of public resources in the United States and abroad. The worst part? These negotiations are taking place behind closed doors.

This controversial agreement is called the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). It's comprised of the United States plus 11 other nations that border the Pacific Ocean. The TPP would boost liquefied natural gas exports and food imports. This increases the real dangers posed by reckless fracking for natural gas and the growth of imported food from several countries whose safety standards fall far short of our own.

The TPP could become the biggest corporate power grab in U.S. history. This deal would establish a regime under which corporations would acquire an equal status to countries, allowing them to take legal action against governments both at the national and local levels.

With this power, multinational corporations — especially energy companies — could overturn laws enacted to protect the public and the environment if they were to deem that those protections violated the profit-based terms of this trade agreement.

The United States currently has enough challenges plaguing our food system, with many of our would-be TPP partners shipping unsafe food even without these so-called free-trade agreements. Seafood imports alone have been particularly troubling. Much of the seafood we import is farm-raised using antibiotics and hormones that are illegal in our own country, and a mere 2 percent of those imports are actually inspected by the FDA.

The TPP would encourage increasing the amount of seafood we take in without requiring the trading partners to ban the use of illegal chemicals.

This could also hurt the American consumers through the expansion of the oil and gas industry, as it tries to increase its land use at home to frack more gas for export to our new TPP partners.

This pact could quickly undermine local, state, and even federal laws that protect public health and the environment. Many localities have recently passed laws to ban fracking. Unfortunately, a lot of the companies that are pursuing hydraulic fracturing in the U.S. are either foreign-owned or have foreign investors.

The TPP would potentially give companies the power to sue local governments, granting them their own permission to exploit natural resources and undermine local laws.

Treaties like the TPP undermine important efforts by grassroots movements and governments to protect people and the environment against the dangers of infecting our food system with increased use of antibiotics and hormones or the risks associated with fracking for natural gas.

Protests against this trade accord have already gotten started in other countries, including Japan and Malaysia, as concerns grow over its expected negative effects. The bottom line is that TPP will bring little, if any, benefit to small-scale growers and producers.

As negotiations near completion, it's critical that we let our members of Congress know that we don't support this kind of corporate power grab. President Barack Obama is asking Congress to grant "fast-track" authority, allowing him to negotiate the TPP and other trade deals without otherwise requisite congressional oversight. We must stop that from happening.

Undermining laws that U.S. citizens voted to put in place isn't the American way.

So, who killed Altantuya? And why?

Posted: 22 Aug 2013 10:29 PM PDT

TMI

Seven years on, no one has paid the price for the death of Altantuya Shaariibuu. And no one knows why the pretty Mongolian was killed one night in October 2006.

But today’s Court of Appeal decision does not close the file on her mysterious murder.

Instead, the ruling to acquit former chief inspector Azilah Hadri and former corporal Sirul Azhar Umar raises more questions than ever.

 Who killed her? Why?

She was shot dead and C4 explosives were allegedly used to blow her to bits but both police commandos said they had no access to the explosives. So what happened? Were there others involved?

She came into the country but there were no immigration records with her name. Did she use another passport? Can the authorities explain this?

Some of these questions could have been answered if the likes of DSP Musa Safri had been called to give evidence.

The prosecution did not call him and the appeal court today allowed the appeal because material witnesses were not called to testify, including Musa.

Musa would have been able to say what sort of help political analyst Abdul Razak Baginda had asked of him to fend off Altantuya.

The interpreter had become Abdul Razak’s lover but later hounded him. He had to hire private investigator P. Balasubramaniam to keep watch on her. When Altantuya turned up that fateful night on October 19, 2006, the policemen took her away and that was the last time she was seen alive.

What followed rocked Malaysia’s political establishment. Abdul Razak was held in connection with the murder and both police commandos Azilah and Sirul were later charged for Altantuya’s murder.

Their connection to each other was simply Musa, who was aide-de-camp to then deputy prime minister and defence minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak.

Now prime minister, Najib has denied any links to the case although Abdul Razak was closely associated with him. Will today’s ruling provide closure for him too?

Will it also provide closure for Abdul Razak, who was the first to be acquitted of conspiring to kill Altantuya? He had admitted to fending her off but not asking for her death.

Interestingly, the prosecution never appealed his acquittal.

But the prosecution has said it would appeal today’s ruling that freed Azilah and Sirul, both of whom were hooded and shielded from public view during their 159-day murder trial.

That again raises more questions. And endless possibilities.

Erdogan breaks into tears over slain young Egyptian girl

Posted: 22 Aug 2013 10:26 PM PDT

Today’s Zaman

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdo?an broke into tears on a televised program aired on Ülke TV late on Thursday when senior Muslim Brotherhood politician Mohammad al-Beltagy’s letter to his daughter, who was killed by the Egyptian security forces in a crackdown in Cairo on Aug. 14, was read at the end of the program.
Speaking on a wide array of issues ranging from the recent alleged use of chemical weapons in Damascus to the surging number of Syrian refugees crossing the border to Turkey, Erdo?an broke into tears at the end of the program when a video was aired in which Beltagy’s letter to his daughter following her death was read.

Erdo?an, who could not speak for a few minutes, said the video reminded him of the difficult days of the late 1990s, when he was banned from politics and sent to prison.

Erdo?an said he could rarely meet with his children during his busy and turbulent political life. He said his daughter one day complained about the situation.

Commenting on the recent alleged use of chemical weapons in the suburbs of Damascus, Erdo?an slammed Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for perpetrating massacres against his own people.

Noting that more than 100,000 people were killed since the beginning of the uprising against the regime, the Turkish prime minister said the Syrian president is bent on destroying everything in the country.

The regime is slowly destroying the historic sites across the country, Erdo?an said, expressing his frustration and exasperation over the unabated killings perpetrated by the regime as well as the inaction of the international community.

Erdo?an said Turkey now hosts 500,000 Syrian refugees and has spent more than $2 billion to meet the needs of the refugees accommodated in a number of camps across south and southeast Turkey.

Erdo?an also lambasted the Iranian leadership for its unwavering support for the Syrian regime, saying that Tehran didn’t appreciate enough Turkish support for Iran in the international arena just a few years ago.

Emphasizing Turkey’s rejection of any sectarian-based policy, Erdo?an told reporters that he expressed his distaste and disappointment over Iran’s policies in the region to Iranian officials, including Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamanei during his visit to the country.

The Turkish prime minister did not hide his exasperation over the inertia that has engulfed the international community when he vehemently criticized the United Nations for its inability to issue a strong condemnation of the chemical attack, let alone conducting an immediate investigation at the site.

Erdo?an has reiterated his call to other countries across the globe to restructure the UN in an attempt to overcome deadlock on critical global issues, in an implicit reference to the impasse in Syria.

The Turkish prime minister also argued that the simmering political conflict in Egypt could be part of an international plot to detract international attention from enduring atrocities in Syria.

As for the release of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, Erdo?an said it could have been preplanned following the military coup that toppled Egypt’s first democratically elected leader, Mohammed Morsi.

“It always happens in the same way. We also witnessed it during military coups in our country. It seems the roadmap [for Mubarak's release] was drawn up by the military junta following the coup,” Erdo?an said.

‘AK Party would get 51 percent of votes if election held today’

As 2014 — an election year with local, parliamentary and presidential elections — nears, polls have been increasingly conducted to measure how many votes political parties in Parliament would get if an election is held today.

Erdo?an said his ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) would get more than 50 percent of votes in the upcoming parliamentary elections, three different polls show.

He said three different surveys, which were conducted upon request of the ruling party, indicate that AK Party respectively would get 51.4 percent, 51.9 percent and 51.5 percent of votes if an election is held today.

The poll results suggest that, Erdo?an says, his party still has a strong popular mandate despite mounting criticism against his government policies over the past months.

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