Zambian Opposition Parties Lobby for Suspension from the Commonwealth

President Sata as a victim of the Public Order Act when he was an opposition leader.

President Sata as a victim of the Public Order Act when he was an opposition leader himself. Picture courtesy of Zambian watchdog.

Zambia’s opposition parties have called upon the Commonwealth to suspend the country amid claims of a deteriorating political environment. They accuse Michael Sata’s Patriotic Front (PF) government of using the Public Order Act to severely curtail opposition party activities. Ironically, the Public Order Act was a piece of legislation that the Zambian President had to contend with as an opposition leader. However, since coming to power, he has stated that he has now “fallen in love” with the Act.

Two opposition leaders – the Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD)’s Nevers Mumba and United Party for National Development (UPND)’s Hakainde Hichilema – are currently on trial for various political offences covered by Public Order Act. Mumba and Hichilema also attended the recent gathering of opposition leaders in South Africa – known collectively as the Coalition for the Defence of Democratic Rights (CDDR) – that made the demand for Zambia’s suspension from the Commonwealth. » More

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US and South Korea: A Show of Force, But Running Out of Options?

US troops rendering honors to the Republic of Korea Navy destroyer (ROKS). Photo: US Navy/flickr

North Korea’s third nuclear test provided the ideal opportunity for the United States and South Korea to respond with their own displays of military muscle. Two days after the test, South Korea showcased a cruise missile that Seoul claims can hit targets anywhere in the North. This month was also the first time in almost two decades that an American nuclear submarine armed with Tomahawk cruise missiles entered South Korean waters.

Thus, the endless cycle of North Korean provocation, joint military drills and verbal war continues. Yet it remains difficult to find to find good analysis on next steps that need to be taken to address the impasse on the Peninsula. » More

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A Futile Gagging Order for the ‘Prisoner X’ Scandal

Graffiti of Israeli newspaper reader. Photo: Helga Tawil Souri/flickr

After Australia’s ABC aired an exposé on ‘Prisoner X’ on February 12, Israeli media was quick to follow up on the shocking claims that Ben Zygier, an Australian-born Israeli citizen who worked for Mossad, was secretly detained in a maximum-security prison for months before allegedly committing suicide in 2010. However, reports on the scandal were pulled soon after they emerged. The Prime Minister’s Office called an urgent meeting of the editors of all major Israeli news outlets to ask for their cooperation in silencing the story. For a whole day, Israeli media were forbidden from reporting on the story, even as it was making headlines worldwide and Israelis disseminated  the news in social media and blogs. Only after three leftist members of the Knesset used their parliamentary immunity to speak on the issue did opaque headlines appear, and an Israeli court lifted the gag order.

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Iran’s New Stealth Fighter Soars Across Fake Sky

News photo of Iran’s Qaher-313 flying across a photoshopped sky.

Iranian bloggers revealed earlier this month that an official photo showing Iran’s recently unveiled stealth fighter, the Qaher-313, in flight is in fact a fake photoshopped image. Despite claims by the Iranian government that the aircraft is patrolling the skies, sharp-eyed bloggers spotted that the image was taken from the unveiling ceremony in Tehran and superimposed onto a different background.

While many Iranians (possibly including the military) have taken to Facebook to excitedly promote the Qaher-313,  many bloggers view the image as an opportunity to mock the Tehran regime.  Adding substance to their mockery are allegations that the photograph of a monkey that Iran supposedly sent into space is also a fake. » More

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India Gears up for a Heavyweight Clash at the Next General Election

Voter reads an election pamphlet

Voter reads an election pamphlet. Photo: Al Jazeera English/flickr.

India’s next general election, scheduled for 2014 at the latest, is already shaping up to be one of the most anticipated in decades. Over recent weeks, the two main parties – the ruling Congress and opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) – have hinted at who might lead them once campaigning officially starts. Although the two likely contenders are not household names outside India, both Rahul Gandhi and Narendra Modi are heavyweights on the domestic political stage.

The two men are as different as can be. Rahul Gandhi is the youthful upstart without much experience, but who holds the backing of a powerful political family. Narendra Modi is possibly India’s most divisive political figure – adored by many for overseeing unprecedented economic growth in his home state of Gujarat, but equally reviled for his alleged involvement in the worst communal riots in India’s recent history. » More

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