Jun 23 2011

Six In The Morning

Afghanistan: France follows US in troop withdrawal

French President Nicolas Sarkozy has announced the phased withdrawal of its 4,000 soldiers serving in Afghanistan.

The BBC   23 June 2011

A statement said the French would follow the timetable of US withdrawals announced by President Barack Obama.

Mr Obama said 10,000 US troops would pull out this year, with another 23,000 leaving by the end of September 2012.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai welcomed the move, but the Taliban dismissed it as “symbolic” and vowed to continue fighting until all foreign forces left.

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Our mission will change from combat to support”

President Obama

As it happened: Speech reaction

At least 68,000 US troops will remain in the country after the 33,000 have been withdrawn, but they are scheduled to leave by 2013, provided that Afghan forces are ready to take over security.

+Thursday’s Headlines:

Net neutrality enshrined in Dutch law

Dissident artist bailed after ‘confessing his crimes’

Journey Through a Divided Syria

Sudan army arrests six UN staff

Political party of youth splits from Egypt’s Brotherhood

Net neutrality enshrined in Dutch law

Netherlands becomes first European country to ensure web providers cannot charge more to access certain services

Associated Press

guardian.co.uk, Thursday 23 June 2011  

The Netherlands has become the first country in Europe to enshrine the concept of network neutrality into national law by banning its mobile telephone operators from blocking or charging consumers extra for using internet-based communications services.

The measure, which was adopted with a broad majority in the lower house of parliament, will prevent KPN, the Dutch telecommunications market leader, and the Dutch arms of Vodafone and T-Mobile from blocking or charging for Internet services like Skype or WhatsApp, a free text service. Its sponsors said that the measure would pass a pro forma review in the Dutch senate.

Dissident artist bailed after ‘confessing his crimes’

Ai Weiwei released after global outcry allows China’s regime to save face

By Clifford Coonan in Beijing

Thursday, 23 June 2011

China is seeking to muzzle the outspoken artist Ai Weiwei after he was freed from prison yesterday, 80 days after being detained following his repeated calls for democratic reform. “I’m fine, I’m out. I’m very happy. I can’t say anything more, because I’m on bail. Please understand,” Ai told reporters outside his home in Beijing last night.

His release comes just before Premier Wen Jiabao arrives in Britain on a European tour and follows a sustained campaign for Ai’s release by supporters outside China. The country’s most high-profile prisoner, the Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo, remains in jail on subversion charges.

Journey Through a Divided Syria

‘They Can Only Kill and Hope’


In the Syrian city of Ariha, the cherry trees are covered with deep red fruit. It is harvest time and the cherries are sweet, but no one comes to pick them

Two weeks ago, after the regime’s elite troops had transformed peaceful demonstrations in the nearby provincial capital Idlib into bloodbaths, two young men tried to save the cherry harvest. They loaded their small truck full of cherries and took off for the port city of Latakia in western Syria.

They didn’t make it very far. A military patrol stopped the two men in front of a sugar refinery and shot them dead.

Sudan army arrests six UN staff


The arrests came amid heavy fighting in the ethnically divided border state, where the conflict between government forces and troops aligned to the south has threatened to torpedo a 2005 peace deal that is set to deliver independence for the south on July 9.

The six men detained at the airport in the state capital Kadugli were among 23 Sudanese UN staff being flown to the southern city of Wau as part of the relocation plan of the beleaguered UN Mission in Sudan (Unmis).

Political party of youth splits from Egypt’s Brotherhood

The Irish Times – Thursday, June 23, 2011


YOUNG EGYPTIAN Muslim Brotherhood dissidents have formed their own political party to contest parliamentary elections set for September.

The manifesto of the Egyptian Current party (Hizb al-Tayyar al-Masry) makes it clear the party is not rooted in religion, as is the Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party, the political vehicle of the 83-year-old movement.

The Current party is “civil” (secular) and democratic. Its manifesto does not mention Muslim canon law (Sharia) but refers to Arab and Islamic civilisation.