Tuesday, February 28, 2012

  • Report from Kabul: Deadly Protests over U.S. Koran Burning May Be Turning Point for U.S. Occupation

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    The U.S.-led NATO occupation in Afghanistan is facing a storm of violence and outrage over the burning of copies of the Koran by U.S. troops at the Bagram Air Base last week. Retaliatory attacks and public protests have swept Afghanistan, leaving more than 40 Afghans dead. On Sunday, six U.S. soldiers were injured in northern Afghanistan when a demonstrator threw a grenade at a U.S. base. Two senior U.S. Army officers were shot dead on Friday inside the Afghan Interior Ministry. In private, U.S. officials are expressing worry about the situation in Afghanistan. We go to Kabul to speak with John Wendle, a reporter for TIME and photographer for Polaris Images. "I think we’re going to continue to see attacks," Wendle says. "[This] makes it difficult for the United States to pull out and achieve the one goal that it’s kind of set for itself, which is training the Afghan security forces so they can stand on their own two feet and provide security in this country." [includes rush transcript]

  • WikiLeaks: Leaked Emails Expose Inner Workings of Private Intelligence Firm Stratfor, a "Shadow CIA"

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    The whistleblowing website WikiLeaks has begun publishing what it says are 5.5 million emails obtained from the servers of Stratfor, a private U.S.-based intelligence-gathering firm known to some as a "shadow CIA" for corporations and government agencies. The emails were reportedly obtained by the hackers group, Anonymous. WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said the files implicate some of the world’s largest firms in corporate espionage. Firms with ties to Stratfor include Coca-Cola, Goldman Sachs, Dow Chemical, and sectors of the U.S. government, including the Department of Homeland Security, the Marine Corps and the Defense Intelligence Agency. Coke asked Stratfor to keep tabs on the protest plans of the group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. "We’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the stories based on the material. They will come out in the next coming days and weeks," said Kristinn Hrafnsson, a WikiLeaks spokesperson who has been a key member of the project to release the Stratfor emails. "What we were doing yesterday was introducing the project, the nature of Stratfor and how they operate and their ties." [includes rush transcript]

  • WikiLeaks: "Private Spies" Stratfor Helped Dow Chemical Monitor Bhopal Activists, The Yes Men

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    Emails leaked by WikiLeaks from the private intelligence firm Stratfor reveal the chemical industrial giant Dow Chemical closely followed the work of activists around the 25th anniversary of the Bhopal chemical disaster, the 1984 gas leak that killed anywhere between 3,500 and 25,000 people. Of particular interest to Dow was the group, The Yes Men, the anti-corporate pranksters who pulled off a famous 2004 hoax that led the world to believe Dow had finally taken responsibility for the Bhopal tragedy. "With us, they were carefully paying attention to every move that we were making publicly, especially anything to do with Dow and Bhopal," says Andy Bichlbaum of The Yes Men. "What surprised us in those emails, though, was that we would have assumed that Dow would be really concerned with the exact issue of Bhopal and Dow’s responsibility, stuff that could directly impact their bottom line. But what Sratfor seems to be really a bit obsessed with is whether we or other organizations are going to draw this into a bigger critique of corporate power." [includes rush transcript]

  • Senegal Faces Runoff Election After Youth-Led Protests Against Abdoulaye Wade’s Bid for Third Term

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    Senegal appears headed to a runoff election after a heated first round of voting and a year of protests against President Abdoulaye Wade’s decision to seek a third term, despite a constitutional two-term limit. The protests are "the most bloody and blood-filled campaign that the country has ever known," says Arame Tall, a Senegalese analyst. Over the past year, a movement led by a number of Senegalese rappers has helped mobilize the country’s youth against Wade, joining the main opposition and civil society group, the June 23 Movement, or M23. "The reference is not really the Arab Spring here, but rather the history of renaissance in Africa and the history of political change, which we’ve started, but now which we really need to substantiate," Tall says. We also speak with Ken Silverstein, a contributing editor at Harper’s Magazine, a fellow at the Open Society Institute and investigative journalist with the group Global Witness. [includes rush transcript]