|SAfrica school rethinks Israel ties|
University of Johannesburg threatens to sever ties with Israeli Ben-Gurion University if certain conditions are not met.
Azad Essa Last Modified: 30 Sep 2010 01:21 GMT
The South African University of Johannesburg (UJ) senate has threatened to end its relationship with the Israeli university, Ben-Gurion (BGU), unless certain conditions are met.
In a statement released on Wednesday, the South African university's highest academic body said Ben-Gurion University would have to work with Palestinian universities on research projects and stop its "direct and indirect support for the Israeli military and the occupation".
"The conditions are that the memorandum of understanding governing the relationship between the two institutions be amended to include Palestinian universities chosen with the direct involvement of UJ," the university said in a statement.
"Should these conditions not be met within six months, the memorandum of understanding will automatically lapse on April 1 2011," UJ said.
Describing the afternoon senate meeting on Wednesday as mostly "tense", the UJ senate also called on BGU to "respect UJ's duty (and) to take seriously, allegations of behaviour on the part of BGU's stakeholders that is incompatible with UJ's values".
Adam Habib, the UJ's vice-chancellor told Al Jazeera that the decision was based on two principles.
"Firstly it was important to identify with an oppressed population and secondly, it was about creating an enabling environment for reconciliation and the achievement of human dignity."
Habib said his university will be engaging Palestinian academic institutions in a bid to solicit advice on mapping a way forward, and that the current memorandum of understanding (MOU) between UJ and Ben-Gurion would have to broaden.
"For instance, we know that the BGU has collaborative projects with the Israeli army and we also know that the university implements state policy, which invariably results in the discrimination of the Palestinian people," Habib said.
"Crucially, there can be no activities between UJ and an Israeli educational institution that discriminated against the Palestinian people."
Habib said that while the decision still had to be ratified by the university council, these changes would have to happen over the next six months, or the existing MOU would collapse.
Salim Vally, a senior researcher at the Faculty of Education and spokesman for the Palestinian Solidarity Committee (PSC), told Al Jazeera that the move to sever academic ties with BGU "has created an unprecedented momentum and has galvanised academics towards fighting for social justice".
"While the PSC supports an unequivocal and unambiguous boycott of all Israeli state institutions, this is a move in the right direction and we are confident that it would lead to a more comprehensive boycott of Israel in the future.
Relations between Ben-Gurion University and the University of Johannesburg, formerly the Rand Afrikaans University, a formerly all-white university under South Africa's apartheid system, began in
The University of Johannesburg, created in 2005, took over various campuses including Rand Afrikaans University and a university in the black township of Soweto as part of efforts to ensure higher education was transformed with the rest of South Africa after the end of apartheid.
The current partnership with Ben Gurion dates back to August 2009 when the universities signed an academic cooperation and staff exchange agreement, concerning water purification and micro-algal biotechnology research.
The re-established relationship drew sharp criticism from the university community and catalysed the formation of a petition that has drawn some of the biggest academics, authors and social activists in South Africa.
Desmond Tutu and around 250 other prominent South African academics have supported ending UJ's links with the Israeli institution.
"Israeli universities are an intimate part of the Israeli regime, by active choice,'' Tutu wrote in an essay that appeared in a South African newspaper on Sunday.
"While Palestinians are not able to access universities and schools, Israeli universities produce the research, technology, arguments and leaders for maintaining the occupation.''
Academic boycotts of Israeli universities have been inspired by boycotts of South African institutions during apartheid.
Two years later Britain's Association of University Teachers voted to boycott Israel's Haifa and Bar Ilan universities. That decision was overturned only a month later under fierce international pressure.
The moves have prompted sharp criticism. Harvard University law professor Alan Dershowitz once threatened legal action that would "devastate and bankrupt'' anyone who boycotts Israeli universities.
The New York-based Anti-Defamation League described the British moves as anti-Semitic, arguing Israel was being singled out while human rights violators such as Iran, Sudan, Venezuela and Zimbabwe were ignored.
October 2, 2010
|US 'sorry' over syphilis experiment|
President Obama apologises to Guatemalan counterpart over tests that deliberately infected hundreds of people in 1940s.
Last Modified: 02 Oct 2010 03:06 GMT
Barack Obama has personally apologised "for all those affected" in a US-led study that deliberately infected hundreds of prisoners, soldiers and mental patients in Guatemala with sexually-transmitted diseases.
The US president telephoned Alvaro Colom, his Guatemalan counterpart, offering deep regret for the experiment conducted by US health researchers in the Latin American nation in the 1940s.
Obama and other US officials voiced their outrage over the "reprehensible research", in which hundreds of people were infected with gonorrhea or syphilis and then allowed them to have unprotected sex.
"This is shocking, it's tragic, it's reprehensible," Robert Gibbs, a White House spokesman, said.
Obama vowed that all human medical studies conducted today would be held to exacting US and international legal and ethical standards.
In an impromptu news conference in Guatemala on Friday, Colom denounced the study and said he was told of the gruesome years-long experiment by Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state.
However, he acknowledged that the experiments were not the actions of those in power now.
Clinton called Colom to express her deep regret, saying the injection of Guatemalan citizens was "clearly unethical".
"Although these events occurred more than 64 years ago, we are outraged that such reprehensible research could have occurred under the guise of public health," Clinton said in a joint statement with Kathleen Sebeliu, the health human services secretary.
"We deeply regret that it happened, and we apologise to all the individuals who were affected by such abhorrent research practices."
Clinton said a thorough investigation was under way and that current regulations would prevent any repeat of similar experiments.
The federal-funded experiment, which ran from 1946 to 1948, was discovered by Susan Reverby, a Wellesley College medical historian, who stumbled upon archived documents on it.
It apparently was conducted to test whether penicillin, then relatively new, could prevent infection with sexually transmitted diseases.
"When few of these men became infected, the research approach changed to direct inoculation of soldiers, prisoners and mental hospital patients," background documents on the study show.
A total of some 1,500 people took part in the study, which lay hidden for decades.
The research was led by John Cutler, a US public health doctor, who was involved in the highly-controversial Tuskegee experiment from 1932 to 1972.
In that study scientists tracked 600 black men in Alabama who had late-stage syphilis but who did not know it, and were never given remedial treatment.
Francis Collins, the director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the US government body that funded the study, called it "deeply disturbing" and "an appalling example in a dark chapter in the history of medicine".
Collins said the US surgeon-general in the 1940s, Thomas Parran, appeared to have been aware of the experiment, as were "components" of the Guatemalan government at the time.
He said independent experts under the umbrella of the US Institute of Medicine will conduct a fact-finding probe of the Guatemala study.
The US Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues will convene international experts to review standards surrounding human medical research, he added.
October 1, 2010
Solidarity with Ecuador!
The World Federation of Democratic Youth has received the news of the attempted coup d’etat that is taking place in Ecuador by the police forces, the air force and the patriotic forces lead by Lucio Gutierrez, attempting to defeat the process of change that has been taking place in the country.
We are facing an attempt to repeat what took place in Honduras and we are sure that it is the US imperialism, hand by hand with the submissive bourgeoisie of the country, that is behind all these maneuvers to destroy the process of change lead by President Correa.
WFDY expresses it total rejection and condemnation of this attempt of coup d’etat and underlines its full support to the Ecuadorian government, calling upon all its member and friendly organizations to join the worldwide solidarity and demonstrate in front of all Ecuadorian embassies in support of the Citizen Revolution lead by President Correa and the people of Ecuador that struggles to build a better society with wide participation of all!
September 30, 2010
By Dan Molinski Of DOW JONES NEWSWIRES
CARACAS (Dow Jones)--Venezuela President Hugo Chavez on Thursday condemned a "coup attempt" on Ecuador President Rafael Correa and said the fellow leftist leader is being held against his will.
"Correa's life is in danger ... he's been kidnapped," Chavez said in a telephone interview on state television. "Venezuela is with him."
Officials in Ecuador said Correa is in a military hospital, after being affected by tear gas.
Chavez said he's been in communication with Correa by telephone throughout the day and said he and other South American leaders are "mobilizing" to reject the coup attempt. Chavez said he's spoken with Brazil President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and Argentina's leader, Cristina Fernandez.
Venezuela's president said he was preparing to leave immediately for Buenos Aires, Argentina, where an emergency meeting of Unasur would condemn the actions in Ecuador. Unasur is a loose union of about a dozen South American nations.
Correa says the protests in Ecuador Thursday are an attempt by the opposition to destabilize his government.
The government declared a five-day state of emergency, mobilizing armed forces to guarantee order after protests and strikes led by police and some military officials. The protesters are unhappy with a planned cut in benefits.
Chavez' first public announcement on the unrest in Ecuador came via his Twitter account.
"They're trying to take down President Correa," Chavez said on the social-networking site, where he has about 900,000 followers. "Long live Correa."
Read more http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2010/10/04/101004fa_fact_gladwell?currentPage=all#ixzz112gmDrZC
September 29, 2010
Víctor M. Carriba
UNITED NATIONS, September 22.—UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon today described Cuba’s achievements in completing the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) as impressive.
Ban Ki-Moon expressed that recognition in a meeting with Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla, who participated in the MDG Summit that ended on Wednesday.
Regarding those goals established in the year 2000 to be reached by 2015, both parties agreed on the need to strengthen political will in order to realize them, according to an official note circulated by the UN.
In the interview, Ban Ki-moon saluted the island’s impressive progress with respect to the MDGs, and expressed his appreciation for the aid that Cuba is giving Haiti, devastated by an earthquake this last January.
They also discussed climate change and other humanitarian issues, according to the release. (PL)
More than 20,000 nuclear weapons are in the hands of eight countries —the United States, Russia, France, the United Kingdom, China, Israel, India and Pakistan—, some of which have significant economic, political and religious differences.
The new START treaty, signed in Prague in April 2010 by the biggest nuclear powers, only represents an illusion with regards to the situation threatening humanity.
The nuclear winter theory, developed and brought to its current stage by the eminent researcher and professor from Rutgers University, New Jersey, Dr. Alan Robock (a modest scientist who prefers to recognize the merits of his colleagues rather than his own), has proven its veracity.
The theory postulates that the only way to prevent the use of nuclear weapons is by eliminating them. Living in a privileged place on the planet, which allows them to enjoy the highest standards of living and the world’s riches despite the their incredible waste of non-renewable resources, the American people should be the ones most interested in the information provided by the scientists. But how much time does the mass media devote to this task?
According to Robock, “If such weapons did not exist, they could not be used. And at present, there is no rational argument to use them at all. If they cannot be used, they must be destroyed and in this way we would protect ourselves from accidents, mistaken calculations or any bouts of insanity.”
“Computers that used ultramodern models became the only available laboratory, while historical events, including cities ravaged by fires caused by earthquakes and war time bombardments, smoke columns produced by forest fires, and clouds from volcanic eruptions, became the yardstick for scientific evaluations.”
The proliferation of nuclear weapons at a time when Israel, India and Pakistan have joined the nuclear club, and other countries aspire for membership, have forced Robock and his colleagues to review their initial research projects. The results of these revisions, published in recent articles, are astonishing.
While the United States and Russia each committed to reducing their operative nuclear arsenals down to some 2,000 weapons in April 2010 in Prague, the only way to prevent a global climate catastrophe from taking place would be by eliminating nuclear weapons.
“…any country that at present may be considering the nuclear option must acknowledge that by adopting such a decision, it would be endangering not only its own population but the entire world. It is time for the world to once again reflect upon the dangers of nuclear weapons, and this time follow the path to peace and eliminate the possibility of a global climate catastrophe induced by nuclear energy, for the first time since mid-last century.”
"... the use of nuclear weapons in the event of a total attack against an enemy would be a suicidal action due to anomalous cold and darkness caused by the smoke from the fires generated by the bomb. In fact, it has been evidenced that the more nuclear weapons a country possesses, the less secure it is."
Albert Einstein said: “The unleashed power of the atom has changed everything save our modes of thinking and we thus drift toward unparalleled catastrophe.” Carl Sagan has said that our nuclear arms policy was “a path where no man thought.”
At the end of the lecture I asked Professor Alan Robock, “How many people in the world are familiar with this information?” He replied, “Very few.” I went on, “In your country, how many?” “The same,” he answered, “it is not known.”
I had no doubt that this was the sad reality, and added: “It makes no difference if we know about this, the world needs to know. Perhaps psychologists need to be brought in to explain why the masses do not understand.”
“I have an answer —said the scientist— it’s called denial. It is so horrible, that people do not want to think about it. It's easier to pretend it does not exist.”
During his nearly one-hour lecture, aided by charts, figures and photos projected on a screen, Robock’s words were clear, precise and eloquent. And I said: "What does it mean to raise awareness, which we talk so much about? What does it mean to create culture? And how discouraging it must be for you scientists that people don’t even know what you are doing; so many hours invested."
I told him that back then, when there was no radio, television or Internet, it was impossible to broadcast a lecture like this one taking place in Cuba or in the world. Much less when many people did not know how to read or write.
We promised the professor that we would spread the information he had provided us about the nuclear winter theory —a topic we know a little about due to our concern over the possible outbreak of a global nuclear war, a concern that drew us to his lecture— in a language that even eight-year old Cuban children could understand.
No other time in human history comes close to the present. Certainly, if these risks are not understood by those who make decisions in the heights of the immense power that science and technology have placed in their hands, the next world war will be the last one, and it would take, perhaps, tens of millions of years before new intelligent beings would attempt to write their history.
As chance would have it, yesterday, September 20, I received news that the Peace Boat passenger ship was to arrive in the Port of Havana at dawn on September 21 after being delayed several hours by cyclones on its voyage from the Canary Islands. The peace boat is a Non-Governmental Organization with Special Consultative Status to the United Nations. Since 1983, it has been organizing cruises around the world to promote peace, human rights, and the fair and sustainable development of the environment. In 2009 the organization was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize for its global campaign to prevent war.
In a letter written to me by Peace Boat director Yoshioka Tatsuya and presented by Nao Inoue, the head of the group of visitors, Tatsuya states: “Our organization has been working for years, recently in cooperation with the ALBA countries […] which have clearly expressed their commitment to nuclear abolition, the prohibition of foreign military bases and peaceful resolutions for international controversies […] Japan, as you know, the only country that has endured an atomic bombardment, to this day maintains a pacifist Constitution that, by virtue of Article 9, formally renounces war and prohibits the use of force in international disputes…
“A focal issue in our activism is the removal of foreign military bases: a situation that affects Japan and several countries around the world. These foreign bases, such as the ones in Guantánamo and Okinawa, cause irreversible environmental damage and encourage war instead of world peace.
Including this voyage, Peace Boat has organized 70 trips around the world beginning in 1983 with the participation of no less than 40,000 people who have visited more than 100 countries. Their slogan is “Learn from Past Wars to Build a Future of Peace.”
Over 20 years, the Peace Boat has visited our country 14 times, overcoming obstacles and hurdles imposed by the United States. During this time it has promoted campaigns to raise significant amounts of money to donate towards the health and education sectors primarily. It is active in the numerous international forums and solidarity with Cuba gatherings. They are truly proven friends of our country. In May 2009, responding to a proposal by the Cuban Friendship with the Peoples Institute (ICAP), the organization was decorated with the Order of Solidarity granted by the Council of State of the Republic of Cuba.
It was a great honor for me to receive an invitation to meet with a group of the visitors which I proposed holding at the Havana Convention Center. Mr. Nao Inoue and Ms. Junko Watanabe both addressed participants. Junko Watanabe is a survivor who was just two-years-old when the first atomic bomb was launched on the city of Hiroshima. She was with her little brother in the yard of a house located 18 kilometers from the place where the bomb was dropped; an event that made the majority of the city vanish, instantly killing more than 100,000 people and seriously injuring the rest of the inhabitants.
Junko Watanabe shared her dramatic memories, when years after the attack, she saw the images and learned about the details of the bombing that caused so much suffering in so many innocent people who had nothing to do with that brutal event.
It was a deliberate act to terrorize the world with the unnecessary use of a weapon of mass extermination at a time when the Japanese empire was already defeated. The bomb was dropped, not on a military installation but rather a defenseless civilian objective. The images that documented that horrifying crime do not express what the voice of Junko Watanabe narrated about the events. The meeting was an opportune time to exchange our points of view and tell our friendly Japanese visitors —ardent combatants in the struggle to abolish nuclear arms, military bases and war— about the efforts carried out by our country to stop a nuclear conflict that could bring about an end to the existence of our species.
Fidel Castro Ruz
September 21, 2010
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