Cold … feet

That Sri Lanka won’t be present at the award ceremony on Friday, when jailed Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo receives the Nobel Peace Prize is no surprise. But here’s the logic: One diplomat from Sri Lanka initially told The Wall Street Journal that its embassy in Oslo was sure to send someone "if nobody had a cold," but later said that no one would attend, saying: "We are a small country and China is now our friend."

Arresting visiting war criminals is moral right and international duty

“We are appalled to learn that the [UK] government is pressing ahead with ill-considered restrictions on judicial powers to order the arrest of suspected war criminals. Not only is it morally right, but it is also our international obligation to bring war criminals to justice, wherever their crimes were committed. … “Requiring the prior consent of the director of public prosecutions before an arrest warrant can be issued introduces delay, making it easy for the suspect to leave the country, and risks introducing political interference. … “We urge all parliamentary political parties to reject...

Microcredit - now usury’s respectable face

“Not credit as a means to advance a positive social outcome, but credit as a means to create the profit-spinning foundation of a company.” See the Toronto Star’s report here on what has happened to the microcredit dream three decades after it began. “The concept of microcredit is being blatantly abused. Now any traditional loan shark anywhere can easily claim that they are the promoters of microcredit. What we created to fight loan sharks now is being used to give loan sharks a respectable identity.” Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammad Yunus , founder of microcredit pioneer Grameen Bank , warning earlier this year that turning microcredit into a high-profit, high growth business would devastate the poor. (Separately, Prof. Yunus has become mired in controversy after Norway last week began investigating claims Grameen had diverted aid given by Oslo for microcredit projects to other, commercial, parts of the bank. The bank denies the claims).

Amnesty slams UK changes to war crimes laws

Amnesty International Wednesday slammed Britain’s announcement of new measures restricting the issuing of arrest warrants for suspected war criminals and torturers visiting the UK as “dangerous and unnecessary.”

South Sudanese expats in US can vote in independence referendum

Refugees from southern Sudan will be able to vote in the United States on an independence referendum on January 9 that could split Africa's largest state, AP reports . Registration in Omaha began Tuesday, and expatriates are turning out in 'droves' to register, reports said. Most observers expect the South to opt for independence, an outcome even the United States has labeled "inevitable", AP reported. China has also endorsed the referendum, calling for it to be 'peaceful and transparent'. The United Nations Security Council on Nov 16 reaffirmed its "strong commitment to the sovereignty, independence, peace and stability of Sudan" – while at the same time welcoming the start of registration for the referendum and encouraging "further efforts to ensure" that it takes places.

Aung San Suu Kyi appeals to India

“I am saddened with India. I would like to have thought that India would be standing behind us. That it would have followed in the tradition of Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru.” The Indian Express spoke to Myanmar’s opposition icon in her first interview to an Indian news organisation. Having initially supported Nobel Laureate Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy, New Delhi shifted its strategy in the early 1990s to court the military regime, Reuters reports . Suu Kyi’s comments follow similar remarks last month from US President Barack Obama who, noting that states with global...

India to claw back fees amid telecoms storm

Indian and foreign phone companies could be forced to pay more than $1bn each to the New Delhi government after a critical audit of a controversial allocation of mobile licences, the Financial Times reports. The decision comes amid one of India’s biggest corruption scandals in the Congress-led government’s six years in power, which has damaged the ruling party’s image and strained ties with a crucial coalition ally, Tamil Nadu’s DMK.

Chennai emerges as automobile manufacturing hub

Having drawn over $3 billion investment this year alone in car manufacturing facilities, Chennai and its suburbs will in the next five years become a key automobile exporting hub, with investments expected to reach $15bn, the Tamil Nadu government says. Tamil Nadu presently makes almost 1.3 million vehicles per year, the Economic Times reports . “Rapid progress is expected in industrialisation over the next decade,” Chief Minister M Karunanidhi says, adding, “the State will rank highly with newly industrialised countries in the next five years.” Currently, US automaker Ford, Korea’s Hyundai, German luxury car manufacturer BMW, and Franco-Japan automakers Renault-Nissan and amongst those who have set up manufacturing facilities in the area. Mitsubishi owns a plant in Chennai making SUVs and sedans, and Nissan is to produce a new MPV at its plant there.

200 Israeli soldiers named on Gaza 'war crimes' site

Against the backdrop of senior Israeli politicians and army officers avoiding visits to European countries fearing arrests for war crimes under universal jurisdiction laws, a new website has published names and photographs of 200 soldiers whom it said were involved in Israel’s onslaught on Gaza two years ago. The site, which Israeli media reported was initiated by anonymous British activists and hosted by a US-based internet service, dubbed the soldiers listed as ‘war criminals’. The website drew wide coverage in Israel because, unusually, it listed not only the army's top-ranking officers, but also commanders of battalions, companies and platoons, and even conscripted soldiers, The National newspaper said. " From now on, European travel may entail some risk even to a young platoon commander from the paratroopers' brigade, who may have in the meantime been released from the army and was considering studying abroad," wrote Amos Harel , a commentator in the Haaretz newspaper.

Diasporas' role will grow in global politics

“Modern diasporas challenge notions of how political life should be organised. … Such transnational engagement is likely to grow as a part of political life in the coming decades.” “Diasporas linked to states and those that are stateless have distinct differences. Some of the most highly mobilised networks support movements to liberate a homeland, as among the Tamils, Eritreans, Palestinians, Irish, Armenians and Kurds." " In these cases the perceived danger to one’s kin and the absence of a state to organise the nation’s defense foists that responsibility onto those in the diaspora who can...

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