2011-01-17 BBC: CEO of German partner in the EU Galileo consortium loses job over cable revelations

The BBC reports that Berry Smutny, chief executive of the German partner in the EU's Galileo satellite-navigation project, has been removed by the board of OHB-System because of statements critical of the project that appear in a US diplomatic cable released by WikiLeaks:

... Smutny [is] alleged to have told diplomats at a meeting in Berlin in October 2009 that Galileo, a flagship space programme of the EU, was a waste of taxpayers' money.

The cable, which was published by the Norwegian daily Aftenposten last Thursday, quoted the OHB-System chief as saying, "I think Galileo is a stupid idea that primarily serves French interests", and, in particular, French military interests.

Mr Smutny was further reported to say that Galileo was "doomed for failure" or would "have to undergo drastic scalebacks for survival".

Mr Smutny has denied making the statements reported in the cable.

Via Greg Mitchell at The Nation

2011-01-17 Tunisia's new government

After one month (to the day) of turmoil, Tunisia has announced a new interim government. Mohamed Ghannouchi, the Tunisian prime minister, has announced that the former defense, foreign affairs, interior and finance ministers will keep their key posts, and a number of opposition members will be assigned to ministerial posts

Najib Chebbi, founder of the Progressive Democratic Party (PDP), will be minister of regional development, Ahmed Ibrahim, leader of the Ettajdid party, will be minister of higher education, and Mustafa Ben Jaafar, head of the Union of Freedom and Labour, will be the minister of health. The ministry of information, formerly devoted to suppression of information, is abolished in the new government. There is now a separation of the state from political parties, so the collection of parties will not fall under the control of a ruling party.

The government has committed to releasing all political prisoners and a ban on the activities of human rights groups will be lifted. Anyone with great wealth or suspected of corruption will face investigation. Internet and social media restrictions have been dropped and the government has promised "total freedom" for the media.

2011-01-17 Slim Amamou named Tunisia's Secretary of Youth and Sports

Image

Slim Amamou, the blogger and net-neutrality activist jailed by Ben Ali's outgoing government during Tunisia's Sidibouzid revolution, has been named the new secretary of state for Youth and Sports, reports Anne Brigaudeau.

"Thursday he announced on Twitter, 'I am free.' And Monday: 'I am secretary of state for Youth and Sports. :)'"

Amamou's first tweet as secretary was "My boss is Mohamed Aloulou. Who is he?"

2011-01-17 WikiLeaks in today's media: Cablegate coverage

The Guardian: TNK-BP boss predicted break-up of Russian joint venture

"Leaked comments suggest that BP sees Rosneft as its long-term partner, not TNK-BP, according to cables obtained by WikiLeaks.

BP's top executive in Russia predicted that its TNK-BP subsidiary would be carved up by the end of this year by Rosneft, the British oil company's new partner, acting with Gazprom, according to leaked US embassy cables."

Read more

The Guardian: Turkey let US use airbase for rendition flights

"Turkey allowed use of Incirlik airbase as refuelling stop, US embassy cable reveals, after Turkish denials of involvement.

Turkey allowed the US to use its airbase at Incirlik in southern Turkey as part of the "extraordinary rendition" programme to take suspected terrorists to Guantánamo Bay, according to a US diplomatic cable."

Read more

The Guardian: 'Baby Doc' Duvalier's possible return to Haiti concerned US

"US envoy said in 2006 that return of 'Baby Doc' Duvalier could complicate ability of Haiti's new government to establish itself.

The US expressed its concern about the possible return of Jean-Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier to Haiti as far back as 2006, when the country was about to hold elections, according to a confidential US diplomatic cable."

Read more

Le Monde: Les prédateurs du clan Ben Ali vus par les diplomates américains (The predators of Beli Ali's clan viewed by the American diplomats)

"Une blague circulait à Tunis avant la chute du régime : un jour, le président Ben Ali roulait au volant de sa voiture, dans les rues de la capitale, seul et sans garde du corps. A un feu rouge, un policier l'arrête. Ben Ali explique qu'il s'appelle Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali et qu'il est le président de la République. "Jamais entendu parler de vous ", lui rétorque l'homme en uniforme, avant de le conduire au poste de police. Le chef du poste est là. Il examine les papiers de Ben Ali et les lui remet aussitôt en disant : "C'est OK pour lui. C'est un parent des Trabelsi." (A joke circulated in Tunisia before the fall of the regime: one day, President Ben Ali was driving at the wheel of his car in the streets of the capital, alone and without a bodyguard. At a red light, a policeman stops him. Ben Ali says he is called Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali and he is the President of the Republic. "Never heard of you", the man in uniform answers back before driving him to the police station. The head of the station is there. He looks at the papers of Ben Ali and tells right back: "It's okay for him. He's a parent of Trabelsi.")"

Read more (French)

2011-01-17 Egyptian man sets himself on fire [UPDATE: 1]

A man set himself on fire outside Egypt’s parliament in Cairo. Restaurant owner Abdo Abdelmoneim from Qantara stood in front the parliament building in (downtown Cairo) and set fire to himself reportedly because he did not receive the bread coupons for his restaurant. He was immediately taken to hospital to receive treatment.

UPDATE 1:
AllVoices reports that the man appeared at first as though he had come to sit in front of the Council, then he poured gasoline on the lower half of his body and dove to the ground. Security guards and a taxi driver used fire extinguishers to put out the fire.


The guard said, "Security Council found in his identity card is the name .. Abdou Abdel Moneim Hamada Jaafar Khalifa, born on the tenth of February 1962 from the city west of Kantara, Ismailia, and the owner of a restaurant."

2011-01-17 Mauritanian man sets himself on fire [UPDATE: 1]

A Mauritanian man set himself on fire today in an anti-government protest.


Yacoub Ould Dahoud, 42, stopped his car in front of the Senate, which is several metres (feet) from the presidency in the capital, and set himself alight inside the vehicle, witnesses said.

He had called journalists to tell them he intended to carry out the act because he was 'unhappy with the political situation in the country and angry with the government.'

Police intervened and he was taken to hospital with burns to his face and hands, a hospital source said.

AllVoices writes "a man set himself on fire in front of the West African state's presidential palace. The man, described as a 40-year-old entrepreneur from a wealthy family, was protesting over alleged government mistreatment of his tribe, police sources said."

UPDATE 1:

2011-01-17 Aftenposten WikilLeaks Cable Releases Focus on Haiti [UPDATE 1]

Aftenposten's cable releases for today focus on Haiti. Rather than editorializing, they have posted in full in English the following cables:

07.02.2006: DOMINICAN REPUBLIC FOREIGN MINISTER DISCUSSES HAITI

17.01.2006: HAITI: FM ABRAHAM DISCUSSES DUVALIER PASSPORT ISSUANCE WITH CHARGE

17.01.2006: DOMINICAN PRESIDENT RECEIVES STATE DAS FOR CARIBBEAN

Aftenposten's editorial analysis is reserved for Iran, examining the country's pursuit of materials for their nuclear program (in English). Update to follow.

Update 1:

Jean Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier, inherited power from his father in 1971, and ruled with the support of his father's Tontons Macoutes militia until forced to flee the country to France after a popular uprising in 1986.

The cables highlight U.S. concerns that Duvalier would attempt to return to Haiti, with France receiving the most pressure, as that was where Duvalier was residing at the time (even though the French authorities coud not find him in a hotel). Neighboring Dominican Republic Foreign Minister Carlos Morales Troncoso is quoted as saying Duvalier's return to Haiti (along with Aristide) would be "unhelpful", because supporters of either side might seek revenge, "even after 20 years". U.S. efforts to get Duvalier's passport revoked fell on deaf ears, with Haitian Foreign Minister Abraham stating:

2011-01-17 Die Welt attempts to "Break the WikiLeaks Cartel"

Die Welt Online breaks "The WikiLeaks Cartel"

In an online editorial published today, Germany's Die Welt Online writes:

"Up until now, only a few newspapers and magazines have been allowed to release a small percentage of selected cables under the supervision of WikiLeaks boss Julian Assange. This cartel is now broken. Die Welt Online, thru the Norwegian paper Aftenposten, now has unimpeded access to all cables, without restrictions."

"Aftenposten received access to all of the cables in the middle of december last year. Die Welt Online will now sift through the cables without being bound to the approval of WikiLeaks, and the stories that result will be handled under the same research criteria and ethical guidelines as the rest of our stories."

"The material will be treated as "source material", and the editors of Die Welt Online will decide what is interesting, and what can be released under the standards of security or privacy concerns."

2011-01-17 Press conference at Frontline with Rudolf Elmer and Julian Assange

This morning at the Frontline club, Rudolf Elmer handed over to Julian Assange a set of CDs containing leaked banking materials for 2,000 offshore bank accounts. As we reported on Sunday, "[d]details on the CD's ... include information on business people, approximately 40 politicians, people who have made their living in the arts and multinational conglomerates, from US, Britain, Germany, Austria, Asia" and other currently undisclosed locations. The context of today's press conference, as well as Elmer's previously expressed motivations, can be found here.

Elmer clarified his position as a banker who "has the right" to prevent further "damage to society" by taking steps to inform the public of ongoing unethical activities. He expressed his gratitude to Wikileaks, which he described as a tool that allowed him to tell the people what he thinks "society has a right to know."

2011-01-17: Will the walls of Bank of America be strong enough?

The Swiss news organization Tages-Anzeiger reported today on the potential threat posed by Wikileaks' forthcoming release and subsequent measures which Bank of America has taken to mitigate that threat (previously covered here on WL Central).

Sie setzte im Dezember einen Krisenstab von 20 Computer- und Risikoexperten ein, zog die renommierte Beratungsfirma Booz Allen Hamilton sowie mehrere Topkanzleien bei, um sich abzusichern. (Bank of America had set up a crisis unit in December. The crisis unit of 20 computer and risk experts, pulled from the prestigious consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton has been tasked to access and defend Bank of America.)

Further, the article notes that delaying the release of the Banking information will dilute their effectiveness and potential for harm.

länger Wikileaks zuwartet, desto geringer wird die Wirkung des Lecks sein.

2011-01-17 Advanced Cablegate Resource Sites

Primary Resources for Cablegate

Wikileaks Official Cablegate Site
Wikileaks' Cablegate site is well laid out and easy to navigate, using the metadata navigation links on the left sidebar. This is the most up to date place to search for Cablegate material.

Drawbacks:

  • No search function
  • Some cables are retracted in new updates, and are not retained on the official site

LeakyLinks Mirror Monitor
If the official site is ever down, LeakyLinks keeps an extremely useful list of all of the some 2000 mirrors of Wikileaks site - sites that have signed up for the Wikileaks mass mirroring programme. LeakyLinks monitors each mirror and compares it with the official site to determine which of the mirrors are up to date, and which have fallen behind in their mirroring of all of the cables.

Leakfeed
Leakfeed.com provides a handy assortment of different feeds, in various languages, for those who want to keep as up to date as possible on the cables using a feed system. The feeds include the latest 50 releases, a feed for a specific cable, a feed based on search parameters, or a feed based on filter criteria.

Cablegate Database on Google Fusion Tables

2011-01-16 Panama's Tourism Minister in hot seat over cable alleging drug ties

Image Courtesy of laestrella.com.paNewsroom Panama reports the Secretary General of the Democratic Revolutionary Party (PDR) is calling  for the removal Salomon Shama, the country's Minister of Tourism, because of revelations in cable released by Wikileaks, wherein the US Ambassador Barbara Stephenson voiced suspicion Shama had "suspected links with drug traffickers." [Source]

Panama’s main opposition party has called for the removal from office of the head of the country’s tourism authority following Wikileaks revelations that the former U.S. Ambassador suspected links to drug traffickers.

2011-01-17 Coverage of WikiLeaks Protest Rally in Sydney 15 January 2011

Photos of the rally here.

The mood on the day was convivial, despite the heavy police presence and the memory of the December 14th's rally looming large, which saw some clashes between protesters and police as a result of the NSW police's refusal to issue a demonstration permit.

The thousand-strong crowd began their march from Town Hall, stopping by the headquarters of the U.S Consulate General at the MLC Centre for some civilized but impassioned shouting, before descending upon Hyde Park.

Speakers at the event included David Shoebridge, the NSW Greens MP; Wendy Bacon, Director of the Australian Centre for Independent Journalism; Marcus Strom, reporter from the Sydney Morning Herald and member of the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance; and Antony Loewenstein, independent journalist.

Unfortunately I didn't take notes of the speeches as I was too busy taking pictures, but some of my recollections are as follows:

Bacon spoke of the need to place increased and continual emphasis on the contents of the cable leaks. Although the legal quandaries of Assange and Manning are of serious and global importance, she said , we should not let our focus slip from the scrutiny of those in power that Cablgegate allow us.

Antony Loewenstein pointed out that the hounding and prosecution of whistleblowers in the United States and Australia has increased exponentially during the Obama and Rudd administrations. Loewenstein also remarked on the hostile reaction to Wikileaks from traditional media quarters, noting that many in established media roles see themselves as 'players' and merely cosy up to power when they could be preventing unjust wars from gaining support instead.

The next rally is scheduled for 1pm Sunday February 6th, at Town Hall. Please see our Global Rallies page for upcoming event details.

2011-01-16 Syria, Jordan and Algeria Respond to Protest Threat

Arab leaders are demonstrably nervous as protests continue throughout the Arab world, fueled by hope that other countries can follow Tunisia's example for change. Some are responding proactively to the protests, attempting to appease, rather than quell the unrest.

Nearly one thousand demonstrators rallied outside parliament in Jordan today. Food prices in Jordan have dropped 5% in the 24 hours since Ben Ali fled Tunisia, possibly in response to a government order. Demonstrations in Jordan also brought about the reversal of what had been the ninth increase in fuel prices since 1989.

Syria has announced 12 billion Syrian pounds (US$250 million) for a fund to help the most needy families in Syria.

Around 11.4 percent of the total population of 22 million people, ie around 2.2 million people can not meet their basic needs, according to a report issued by the United Nations Development Programme.

Algeria, rushed through a $225 million package of price cuts last week on types of fuel and goods at government run stores.

Meanwhile, on facebook and in street protests throughout the Arab world, protesters continue to wave the Tunisian flag.

2011-01-16 Protests in Algeria

Algerian man Mohsen Bouterfif died on Saturday. He had doused himself in gasoline and set himself on fire on Thursday after a meeting with the mayor of the small city of Boukhadra who was unable to provide him a job and a house, according to El Khabar news. His death has been followed by protests in Boukhadra and reportedly, the firing of the mayor.


Several Algerian towns, including the capital Algiers, have experienced riots in recent weeks over unemployment and a sharp rise in the prices of food staples.

Official sources say two people have been killed and scores were injured during the unrest, which unfolded in parallel to street violence in Tunisia and demonstrations over high food prices in other North African and Middle Eastern countries.

To calm the protests, Algeria has cut the cost of sugar and cooking oil.

2011-01-16 Protests in Egypt

Al Jazeera reports from Cairo, Egypt, where some are hoping to follow Tunisia's example and have an uprising of their own. "Down with corruption, Down with autocracy, Down with dictators!" they chant.

Egypt's Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit downplayed any risk of a Tunisian style uprising in Egypt.

"The talk about the spread of what happened in Tunisia to other countries is nonsense. Each society has its own circumstances," Abul Gheit told reporters in Sharm el-Sheikh.

2011-01-16 Early reports of unrest in Libya [UPDATE 1]

EA World View is reporting protests in Darna on the northeast coast of Libya, in Beida, the third-largest city, and at the Press Syndicate in Cairo, supporting the rising in Tunisia and calling for a change in Egypt's politics: "Revolution, revolution until victory, revolution in Tunisia, and revolution in Egypt!"

More news is appearing under the hashtag #Libya including the following:

2011-01-16 Murder incitement domain names becoming a fad

Setting up death threats against Julian Assange in the form of a domain name is the new fad.  Just don't try setting up "killobama.org" or "murderthepresident.com".  The site http://vivantleakers.org/ is devoted to tracking these explicit threat domain names. At the moment it lists 6 domains of the "kill Assange" variety.

Here's a summary of coverage:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/01/14/death-threat-domain-names_n_809174.html

From the above HuffPo item:

Go Daddy, the site which registered both killjulianassange.com and julianassangemustdie.com said there is nothing that can be done about either site while they are contentless. Go Daddy registers a domain name every .8 seconds -- any domain name can be registered and there is no human intervention.

More...

2011-01-16 New Miss America spurns WikiLeaks

Teresa Scanlan of Nebraska, newly crowned Miss America, was asked her opinion of WikiLeaks in the final stages of the competition last night.

Here is her answer (video):

You know when it came to that situation it was actually based on espionage, and when it comes to the security of our nation we have to focus on security first, and then people's right to know. Because it's so important that everyone in our borders is safe, and so we can't let things like that happen and they must be handled properly... and I think that was the case.

2011-01-16 Suspected constitutional infringement in Zimbabwe

The Times Live reports that a probe team has been appointed by Zimbabwe's attorney general to determine whether any of the leaked diplomatic cables are in breach of Zimbabwe's security laws.

"I am seeking a professional legal opinion from registered lawyers to see whether there is need to prosecute anyone following revelations by the Wikileaks website," Johannes Tomana, the attorney general told the state-run Sunday Mail.

"People should understand that this is a serious matter...after their recommendations, I will then decide whether there is need to open a docket against anyone.

"This is not a commission of inquiry, but a panel of experts whose recommendations will inform whether to prosecute anyone or not."

Tomana was quoted over the holidays as stating that

[T]he WikiLeaks appear to show a treasonous collusion between local Zimbabweans and the aggressive international world, particularly the United States. With immediate effect, I am going to instruct a team of practising lawyers to look into the issues that arise from the WikiLeaks.

However, he denied having made the statement and insisted that appointing an investigative team was beyond his power:

If you look at the scenarios around the appointment of commissions, it must be of national importance and it is only the president who can appoint a commission. I do not know where all this is coming from"

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