10 Mar

News and Analyses, A Foreign Perspective


Hillary Clinton in New York

Hillary Clinton speaks during a Gates Foundation event in New York. Clinton is expected to address the email controversy at the UN on Tuesday. Photograph: Lucas Jackson/Reuters

Clinton’s former legal adviser deflects questions about private email account

Harold Koh, senior adviser while Hillary Clinton was secretary of state, invokes attorney-client privilege but legal expert says ‘it’s not as clearcut as he suggests’

Hillary Clinton’s most senior legal adviser while she was secretary of state has refused to disclose advice he gave her on the legality of operating a private email system, arguing that the secrecy of their discussion is protected by law.

Harold Koh, who was legal adviser of the Department of State between 2009 and 2013, declined to discuss “advice I gave as a lawyer to my client” as Clinton prepared to address the controversy at a press conference in New York on Tuesday.

“This is attorney-client privilege, I can’t answer that question,” Koh said, during a brief telephone interview with the Guardian. “You know, what as a lawyer you say to your client … I can’t answer that question.”

Legal experts said the protection that government attorneys enjoy under the centuries-old doctrine, which prevents lawyers from being forced to disclose information that could be damaging to their clients, remained subject to debate.

Clinton, the presumed frontrunner for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination, is under pressure to explain why she never used a government email address during her four years as America’s most senior diplomat, and to disclose all emails relating to her work in response to inquiries from congressional investigators and public records requests.

According to multiple reports, Clinton is planning to address the controversy at a news conference following scheduled remarks to the United Nations on Tuesday. She may face questions on whether she considered legal advice on her email system’s compliance with federal records laws…………………….


Mohammad Javad Zarif and  John Kerry

Mohammad Javad Zarif, pictured with John Kerry earlier this month, expressed astonishment that Congress members would write directly to a foreign power. Photograph: Reuters

Obama denounces Republican letter on Iran nuclear talks

White House accuses senators of making common cause with Iranian hardliners, while Tehran expresses surprise at Republican tactics

The Obama administration has reacted furiously to an open letter to Iran from Republican senators aimed at derailing nuclear negotiations. The White House accused them of seeking to circumvent the constitution and trigger a “rush to war”.

Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, also poured derision on the Republican letter in a statement expressing astonishment that members of Congress would seek to undermine a US administration by writing directly to a foreign power, and suggesting that the letter’s authors had much to learn about international and even US law.

However, the sharpest reaction to Monday’s open letter came from the White House. President Obama accused its 47 Republican signatories of “wanting to make common cause with the hardliners in Iran”.

The US vice-president, Joseph Biden, said the letter, drafted by Tom Cotton, a freshman senator from Arkansas, was “expressly designed to undercut a sitting president in the midst of sensitive international negotiations”.

It was “beneath the dignity of the institution I revere”, Biden said in a statement.

The letter was published as the 18-month-long negotiations on the future scope of Iran’s nuclear programme approach a deadline at the end of this month for a framework agreement. The document, signed by all but seven of the Republican Senate majority, suggests that the Iranian leadership does not understand America’s constitutional complexities and warns that any agreement signed with the Obama administration could be overturned “with the stroke of a pen” by the president’s successor………………………..


Jimmy Wales

Taking on US government snooping … Jimmy Wales. Photograph: Sukhi Dandha/Sukhi Dandha

Wikipedia to file lawsuit against NSA and US Department of Justice

Jimmy Wales and co will be joined by Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International USA in a challenge against mass surveillance by the US government

Wikipedia will take legal action against the National Security Agency and the US Department of Justice challenging the government’s mass surveillance programme.

The lawsuit, to be filed on Tuesday, alleges that the NSA’s mass surveillance of internet traffic in the United States – often called “Upstream” surveillance – violates the US constitution’s first amendment, which protects freedom of speech and association, and the fourth amendment, which protects against unreasonable search and seizure.

The NSA’s Upstream surveillance scheme captures communications with “non-US persons” to acquire foreign intelligence information.

“By tapping the backbone of the internet, the NSA is straining the backbone of democracy,” Lila Tretikov, executive director of the Wikimedia Foundation wrote in a blog post.

“Wikipedia is founded on the freedoms of expression, inquiry, and information. By violating our users’ privacy, the NSA is threatening the intellectual freedom that is central to people’s ability to create and understand knowledge.“………………….



The Selma Confederates: ‘I want to protect, defend and preserve my white race’ – video

As marchers commemorated the 50th anniversary of ‘Bloody Sunday’, elsewhere in Selma another tribute was taking place: to Nathan Bedford Forrest, the lieutenant general in the Confederate army and first Grand Wizard of the ?Ku Klux Klan. Paul Lewis visited the Live Oak Cemetery to talk to a small band of activists with their own interpretation of history.

The white Confederates defending the south’s honor in Selma

As civil rights campaigners marked 50 years since Bloody Sunday, elsewhere in Selma a small band of southerners were mourning the loss of the Confederacy

As thousands marched across Selma’s Edmund Pettus bridge this weekend, a small band of white people were less than a mile away, mourning the loss of the Confederacy and guarding a memorial to a white supremacist.

Live Oak cemetery is a burial site for Confederate soldiers in the civil war and contains the grave of Edmund Winston Pettus, the general – and member of the Ku Klux Klan – after whom the town’s bridge was named.

There has been a growing campaign to rename Selma’s bridge given its association with the Confederate south, and dozens of students had planned a peaceful march to the cemetery. They quickly changed plans after discovering the neo-Confederates were waiting for them.

“‘March’ is a military term,” explained Todd Kiscaden, 64, who had traveled to Selma from his home in Tennessee to defend the memorial site. “In any military context, if you’re going to march on my castle, I’m going to man my barricades.”

Selma is most famous for the violent assault on peaceful civil rights marchers on the town’s bridge in 1965. But the Alabama town was also the site of another clash: a notorious civil war battle in which Union forces defeated the pro-slavery Confederate army.

The cemetery where Pettus is buried also contains a memorial to the fallen soldiers, and a controversial monument to Nathan Bedford Forrest, the lieutenant general in the Confederate army and first Grand Wizard of the Klan.

The graveyard has long been a flashpoint between African Americans and pro-Confederate historians in the town. The graveyard has been the focus of protests before; the memorial has been vandalised and, three years ago, a bronze bust of Forrest was stolen. Kiscaden, from the group Friends of Forrest, which tends the memorial site, said they were in the process of replacing the stolen bust.

Sunday’s aborted march to the cemetery was organised by Students Unite, the Selma-based youth group behind a viral online campaign to rename the Edmund Pettus bridge. They planned to march peacefully and respectfully to the graveyard, to draw protest against the Pettus bridge name and the existence of a monument to a white supremacist. …………….


Rima Karaki

Rima Karaki. Photograph: PR

Lebanese TV host Rima Karaki: I don’t feel like a hero, it was self-respect

In Guardian interview, al-Jadeed presenter who cut off Islamist guest says she had a duty to stand up for herself

When Rima Karaki cut off the mic after her guest, Hani Sibai, an Islamist sheikh, ordered her to “be silent”, little did she expect it would become a viral video sensation in Lebanon and around the world.

Supporters online have hailed her for standing up for women’s rights and against a patriarchal religious establishment that sought to subjugate them. But for Karaki herself, it was a simple question of self-respect.

“Had I not answered, I would have hated myself, and I don’t want to hate myself,” she told the Guardian in an interview. “When he said shut up, it was no longer possible to shut up because I would be insulting myself and would lose everything.”

During the television interview, Karaki, donning a veil at Sibai’s request, asked her guest a question about how Islamic State managed to attract Christians to its ranks, after reports emerged that two Christians had joined the militant group. Sibai then launched into a historical monologue that the anchor felt was not relevant to the question.

“I asked him to focus on the current era so we don’t lose time,” she said. “This caused him to get angry and he thought I was cutting him off, and I tried to calm him down and tell him not to be angry, and that I want to get the most out of your presence in the programme. I told him it’s up to you.”…………………


Issa Amro (centre) during a non-violent protest with his organisation

Issa Amro (centre) during a non-violent protest with his organisation.

Palestine field post: ‘I am not your normal human rights campaigner’

When Issa Amro came across Gandhi’s philosophy of non-violence, he realised this would be his life’s work

Two years after the start of the second intifada the Israeli army designated the Palestinian Polytechnic University a military zone and sealed all its gates. At that point I was in the final year of a five-year engineering degree. I had dreamed of being an engineer since I was six years old, and I knew I couldn’t let this happen. After four years of hard work, just at the moment that I was on the cusp of graduating, my university had become another casualty of the occupation.

I decided to organise sit-ins to get the university reopened. I convinced fellow students that we had to resist this. For six months we moved into classrooms, organised protests and demonstrated. We would conduct lessons while surrounded by soldiers. We agreed that it had to be peaceful and non-violent, and in the end we won. The army moved out and the university reopened. After so many defeats against the occupation, that one campaign was a great moment.

This experience was important for me because I learned about the importance of tactics and became convinced about the value of non-violence as a way to resist. I read books by Martin Luther King, Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela. I became convinced that their non-violent method was the best strategy for community resistance. …………………


Atlanta-area police shoot dead unarmed and naked African American man

  • Dekalb County police say Anthony Hill, 27, was ‘acting deranged’

  • Police chief says the man ran an an officer before he was shot dead

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation has opened an inquiry into the police shooting of a naked, unarmed and possibly mentally ill man on Monday in DeKalb County.

Anthony Hill, 27, was shot by a police officer at The Heights apartment complex where he lived, just east of Atlanta. Police arrived and encountered Hill after a 911 caller reported a nude man wandering the complex and “acting deranged”, at about 1pm on Monday, according to DeKalb County police.

A seven-year veteran of the county police force responded to the call. Hill reportedly ran at the officer who ordered him to stop before shooting him twice in the upper torso.

“The caller reported the man had taken off all of his clothes and was just running throughout the entire complex during the time we received the call,” said DeKalb County police chief Cedric Alexander in a press conference. Alexander said the officer, who has not been named, was suspended pending an investigation.

Hill was “running around” the complex, “crawling around on the ground naked” and hanging off of balconies when police arrived, according to Alexander.

On Twitter, activists picked up the man’s name as a hashtag in calls for change, and others reported he may have had a history of mental illness.

The shooting comes on the heels of a police shooting in Wisconsin, where a 19-year-old unarmed man was shot by police over the weekend, prompting several days of protests.

DeKalb County police have faced criticism over their response to other 911 calls. In January, police shot a man who called 911 after coming home to find his girlfriend stabbed. The man allegedly confronted a police officer, who he thought could have been the intruder, with a gun only to be shot himself, according to local media.

Alexander said the investigation was immediately handed over to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation “as a result of what’s going on here, across this country”……………….


Other News & Analysis



University of Oklahoma

George Henderson, professor emeritus, joins students at the University of Oklahoma to protest against racist chants by fraternity members. Photograph: Steve Sisney/AP

Why it’s time to shut down poisonous US college fraternities

The video of University of Oklahoma Sigma Alpha Epsilon members singing racist chants is yet another example of how the Greek system fosters deadly inequalities

The University of Oklahoma announced this week that it has severed all ties and affiliations with the Sigma Alpha Epsilon (SAE) fraternity, after a video surfaced of frat members singing a racist chant. The video, which was released on Twitter by a campus black student alliance, shows SAE brothers on a bus, using the N-word and chanting, “You can hang him from a tree, but he can never sign with me.”Odd, since fraternities, we’re told any time anyone lodges a criticism, are nothing but social clubs, public service organisations, leadership programmes. They are, supposedly, a net gain for society. But whose society? Whose gain?

When I started college, at a small school in southern California, I had a real chip on my shoulder about the Greek system. (The “Greek system” is the catch-all term for the network of fraternal social organisations at American undergraduate colleges and universities – basically, institutional friend groups that you audition to join based on your social capital.) “Nice try, SHEEP,” I’d scoff, “but I know how to make my own friends. I don’t need to pay dues to some club to tell me who to hang out with.” I wasn’t a conformist. I wasn’t shallow. I wasn’t insecure. I wasn’t a jock or a mean girl or a young businessman or one of those impossible gazelles loping across the quad together in matching miniature shorts. I was better than that……………….


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