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Thursday, December 21, 2006

Smith: New State Dept. Policy Puts Internet Repressive Regimes on Notice

Also in the news: [Somali fighting is 'full scale war' - Islamist] - [Many Ethiopians take dim view of burgeoning war with Somalia]

International: [U.N. Council Renews Liberia Diamond Ban] -[Obama ad hits New Hampshire & D.C.] - [Iraqi bloggers react to the violence] - [U.S. to declassify secrets aged 25 and older] - [The Lennon Files: The FBI and the Beatle] and more of today's top stories

Map locating the latest violence in Somalia. Somalia's Ethiopia-backed forces and Islamic fighters have clashed near the seat of government in Baidoa with both sides claiming inflicting massive casualities.(AFP/Graphic)


Exiled Journalists' Network: Public Order, State Security and Press Freedom in Ethiopia - 27 & 29 September 2006 (London,UK)

Somali fighting is 'full scale war' - Islamist

Mogadishu - A leader of Somalia's Islamists has called fighting near the government's base 'a full scale war,' blaming neighbouring Ethiopia for starting the violence.

Fighting between the Islamists and forces loyal to the transitional government continued Thursday, a day after both sides agreed to return to peace talks.

The two sides exchanged missile, artillery and mortar fire for a second day near the interim government's seat of Baidoa about 250 kilometres west of the capital Mogadishu.

'It seems that Ethiopia started the full scale war,' said Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys, the leader who is charged by the US of having ties to al-Qaeda. 'The fighting will spark the entire region and it will be disastrous for Ethiopia.'

Several hundred Ethiopian troops were sent to Somalia, said to be training the government troops but the Islamists claim there are thousands of them fighting alongside the government forces. The Islamists have vowed to wage jihad (holy war) on any Ethiopian soldier in Somalia. (More...)

Many Ethiopians take dim view of burgeoning war with Somalia
By Stephanie McCrummen, Washington Post

ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA - As Ethiopia and Somalia's Islamic Courts movement inch closer to all-out conflict, a widespread view among people here in the capital is that Prime Minister Meles Zenawi is using the conflict to distract people from a vast array of internal problems and to justify further repression of opposition groups, including ethnic Somalis in Ethiopia.

In particular, opponents of war say he is playing up the claim that there are Al-Qaida operatives within the Islamic Courts in order to maintain the support of the U.S. government, which relies on a steady flow of Ethiopian intelligence that some regional analysts say is of dubious value.

A recent attempt by Congress to sanction the Ethiopian government for human-rights violations failed after former Republican House leader Dick Armey of Texas argued that the United States needs Ethiopia to fight terrorism. (More...)

Smith: New State Dept. Policy Puts Internet Repressive Regimes on Notice

"There are two pillars to every dictatorship - secret police and propaganda. The Internet companies that comply with these regimes enable dictatorships to impose both pillars by allowing them to spread lies and find people whose only crime is wanting freedom and democracy,"Chris Smith

Washington - Representive Chris Smith (R-NJ) said he plans to reintroduce the "Global Online Freedom Act" today after the U.S. State Department announced its new strategy on global Internet freedom organized around three priorities that is designed to expand access to the Internet by spotlighting and protesting abuses of Internet freedom, pressing the message of Internet freedom in official dialogue and promoting innovative approaches to combat Internet censorship.

"This is a historic day. Today, the U.S. is taking the first step toward tearing down the Great Firewall. The repressive regimes and the businesses that enable the censorship, political persecution and stifling of human rights need to understand that there will be more scrutiny to follow and they must change their ways," said Smith.

Smith, who in February of 2006 held a landmark seven-hour hearing on the issue of internet freedom, said this strategy "sends the message that the U.S. government means business."

Smith added, "This new strategy puts internet repressive regimes on notice and shows we mean business, but it also sends a message to the corporations that are enabling these abuses that it is good business to promote human rights."

Iraqi bloggers react to the violence

(Iraqi Rocker or "Meemo" is a 19 year old man living in Baghdad): "Good Bye Blue Sky:

I leave Baghdad in two days. I'm going to Syria as a first step to the world.

I'm not going to see death anymore; I'm not going to hear car explosions again; I will come back to life again. I'm not living dead anymore, I'll be back to humanity in two days. Goodbye Baghdad, I hope that you will recover soon and that peace will return. I wish you peace, Baghdad, for the New Year."

(Chikitita is a 27 year old woman living in Baghdad): "Monday, December 18, 2006: Am I the only one who believes that the post-invasion crimes committed by the government-backed militias have kind of desecrated the memory of the mass graves victims?

Isn't it ironic that such an appalling crime makes Saddam look like an angel, compared to today's Satans. At least the bodies were buried when he was in power; he didn't give orders to dump them in piles of trash with the three bullets to the head trademark.

On second thoughts, I think Iraqis should be thankful to the democratically elected government.

But for them, we wouldn't have felt the sense of equality; when bakers and academics, the rich and poor have all become victims of the militia-infiltrated security agencies as well as hard-line insurgents."(More...)

Today's Top Stories

-U.N. Council Renews Liberia Diamond Ban
-Obama ad hits New Hampshire & D.C.
-UK soldier accused of giving secrets to Iran
-Ahmadinejad allies last in final Tehran vote count
-North Korea Talks Hit a Significant Obstacle
-U.S. to declassify secrets aged 25 and older
-N Korea's Kim Jong-il gives karaoke boost to army morale
-The Lennon Files: The FBI and the Beatle