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PUP Students Triumph over Proposed Tuition Hike March 25, 2010

Saturday, March 27, 2010

PUP Students Triumph over Proposed Tuition Hike

Published on March 25, 2010

Following a series of protests, Commission on Higher Education (CHED) chairman Emmanuel Angeles said that no tuition hike will be approved or implemented in the Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP).
The PUP administration has proposed a 1,700-percent increase in tuition or from P12 to P200 per unit hike.
Angeles, who is also the Chairman of the PUP Board of Regents (BOR), vowed that he will vote against the proposed tuition increase on March 29, the scheduled BOR meeting to discuss the proposal.

“This is an important victory of the Iskolar ng Bayan. We attribute this victory to the resounding unity and protest of students against the 1,700% tuition hike proposal in PUP and other fee increases,” said Kabataan Rep. Raymond Palatino.

On March 19, thousands of students from PUP walked out from their classes to denounce the proposal to increase their tuition. Students threw armchairs, tables and papers from several floors of the school building to the ground. Some of these were burned to the ground after the students’ demand to have a dialogue with the PUP BOR was denied.

On Wednesday, students from PUP and University of the Philippines stormed the CHED office to demand an answer from Angeles. Students were forced to destroy the entrance gate and splattered paint in the vicinity of CHED before Angeles finally gave in to the demands of the students.

Forced Expulsion
At the Bulatlat’s webcast with Kabataan partylist on Wednesday, Palatino defended PUP students from negative comments on their protest action.

“I won’t describe it as violent; nobody was hurt. It was a mere bold display of anger, disappointment, frustration,” he said, adding that the protest action was only a product of the Arroyo administration’s gradual neglect of state universities and colleges (SUCs).

Palatino told Bulatlat that the proposed tuition fee hike would mean forced expulsion of thousands of students coming from poor families, especially from the working class.

Even with the present P12 per unit tuition, Palatino said students and their families are already having a hard time supporting their studies. “They also have other needs to pay,” he said.

“I understand where they are coming from. They told me those armchairs and tables were already dilapidated and were no longer of use,” he said.

Quoting one of the students who joined the protest, Palatino said: “Those that we burned are only things but the tuition increase, if implemented, would destroy our lives and our future.”

State Abandonment

Palatino said he also understands that administrators of SUCs are also torn between their mandate to provide quality and accessible education but are forced to raise funds to maintain their operations as the national government continues to lessen the budget due to them.

The youth representative added that the PUP administration and students should in fact join hands in criticizing the national government for the dwindling budget allotted to PUP and other SUCs. The national government, he said, adheres to the imposition of World Bank and International Monetary Fund that higher education should not be subsidized.

“They are imitating United States where only elementary and secondary education is subsidized by the state,” Palatino said. He insisted that tertiary education is a right, not privilege, adding that in some industrialized countries, governments invest heavily on higher education.

He denounced what he called a systematic attack on higher education. State abandonment on higher education is Arroyo’s legacy, he said.

While the group welcomes CHED’s categorical announcement on their promise not to increase tuition for PUP, Palatino said they will remain vigilant.  

(Reprinted with permission from Bulatlat.com)

Source: Bulatlat.com

URL: http://www.bulatlat.com/main/2010/03/25/pup-students-triumph-over-proposed-tuition-hike/

Military Accused of Harassing Kin of Morong 43 to Force NPA Admission March 23, 2010

Military Accused of Harassing Kin of Morong 43 to Force NPA Admission

Published on March 23, 2010
Five of the Morong 43 who admitted to being rebels were tortured, their families harassed, according to relatives. The children of one of the detainees have allegedly disappeared, according to their grandmother.


MANILA — Five of the Morong 43 who recently “admitted” that they are members of the New People’s Army (NPA) were subjected to interrogation and pressure by the military, according to relatives, lawyers and other detainees.

Elenor Carandang, Cherilyn Tawagon, Valentino Paulino, Jenilyn Pizarro and Jhon Mark Barrientos have been separated from the rest of the Morong 43 and have not been presented to their lawyers from the Public Interest Law Center (PILC) and National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL).

In an interview with Bulatlat, Carandang’s mother, Norma Orgena, said three out of four of Carandang’s children have been missing. A neighbor, she said, told her that a van fetched her grandchildren together with Carandang’s sister Grace from their house in Lopez, Quezon, on March 8.

“The military might have taken my grandchildren,” Norma said in Filipino. “And they may be using them to force Elen to admit something that is not true,” she added.

Norma said she last saw her daughter on March 5 during the supposed arraignment of the Morong 43 before the Morong Regional Trial Court. “She was crying then. I could not talk to her because the soldiers pulled her away from me,” Norma said.

On the same day, to Norma’s surprise, Atty. Cyrus Jurado and Atty. Hilda Sacay-Clave presented themselves as the counsels of her daughter and two other detainees, Tawagon and Paulino.
Norma said she has not also seen her grandchildren aged 13, 11 and five and Grace, too.
Meanwhile, Paulino was presented by the military in a press conference on February 11 in which Paulino admitted he is a member of the NPA.

On February 25, Adoracion, Paulino’s mother, told Commission on Human Rights (CHR) chairwoman Leila de Lima what her son had told her: “Mother, I am afraid for our family. They beat me repeatedly that is why I was forced to tell a lie… I did what the soldiers instructed me to do because they told me that they already deployed men to our place.”

Still quoting her son, Adoracion added: “They torture me mentally.” She joined the filing of complaint before the CHR.

Based on sworn affidavits attached to the supplemental complaint of the PILC and NUPL lawyers filed before the CHR, Tawagon and Carandang were taken out of the detention facility on March 1, Pizarro on March 4 and Barrientos on March 5.
The other detainees conducted a noise barrage in protest, and Maj. Manuel Tabion shouted at them. “He told us not to test his patience, that we have only seen his kindness and we have not witnessed his being violent and if we do not stop, he told us that we would be electrocuted,” Mercy Castro, one of the Morong 43, said in Filipino in her affidavit.
Since March 2, the lawyers for the Morong 43 have not been allowed to see the three detainees Paulino, Carandang and Tawagon. Starting March 7, Pizarro and Barrientos have not also been presented to their lawyers.
Junie, Pizarro’s brother, told Bulatlat that he last saw his sister on March 4. “She was separated from the rest. She told me that me that many had been talking to her, forcing her to turn against her companions,” Junie said in Filipino.

The next day, Junie said he sensed something different. A certain Lt. Nelmeda was looking for him. “It usually takes us two hours before we get to see our loved ones but that day, the soldiers were the ones inviting me to come in. I did not go with them. If I did, I might not be able to come out again.”

The whereabouts of the five detainees had not been disclosed to their relatives and lawyers. On March 20, the five were interviewed by a media outfit at a safe house inside Camp Capinpin, admitting they are NPA.

Same Tactics 

The same tactics have apparently been used on other detainees.

On March 6, another detainee, Miann Oseo, was forced by Tabion and the soldiers-guards to transfer to the cell previously occupied by Pizarro. When Oseo refused and invoked Republic Act No. 9745 and her right to counsel, Tabion ordered the guards to bodily carry Oseo. Oseo held on to the metal bars. The soldiers-guards physically dragged Oseo causing her to sustain bruises on her arms, hands and feet and other parts of her body.

Another detainee, Samson Castillo, also held on to the metal bars when he was being forcibly taken by Tabion and four soldier-guards on Feb. 28. Lt. Col. Crisobal Zaragosa told Castillo in Filipino: “I pity you but I cannot do anything for you if you do not cooperate with the government.” In his affidavit, Castillo also said that Tabion and Zaragosa were always threatening him that his children would not be spared.

Detainees Angela Doloricon, Jacqueline Gonzales, Ma. Teresa Quinawayan and Ma. Elena Serato are still under solitary confinement. In their affidavits, the detainees also complained of relentless interrogation.


Lawyers of the Morong 43 said that the respondents committed the following violations: Violation of the right of counsels to visit and confer privately with victims-detainees; violation of the right to be informed of the right to remain silent and to have a competent and independent counsel; violation of the right to remain silent; violation of the right to have a competent and independent counsel; violation of the right of detainee to be visited and to confer privately with family members for a sufficient period of time; violation of the right of family members to visit and confer privately with the victims-detainees for a sufficient period of time; violation of the right to prompt medical services; violation of the right to be visited by a priest or religious minister of the detainee’s choice; violation of the right not to be taken out of a detention facility without any court order.
Violation of the right not to be held in solitary confinement; violation of the right not to be subjected to threats; and violation of the right not to be subjected to physical and psychological torture.

The supplemental complaint was filed before the CHR on March 18. 

(Reprinted with permission from Bulatlat.com)

Source: Bulatlat.com

URL: http://www.bulatlat.com/main/2010/03/23/military-accused-of-harassing-kin-of-morong-43-to-force-npa-admission/

Arroyo’s UMID: A National ID System in Disguise? March 21, 2010

Arroyo’s UMID: A National ID System in Disguise?

Published on March 21, 2010

MANILA — From the Radio Frequency Identification System (RFID) scheme, which was blocked last January due to its questionable usefulness and the dubious processes it underwent to become a “requirement” in motor registration, the Arroyo government now turns to imposing another ID system. Dubbed as the Unified Multipurpose ID (UMID), it is slated for implementation this month, drawing suspicions and protest actions from both public and private sector workers who stand to be immediately affected.
The UMID will initially be adopted by the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS), Social Security System (SSS), Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (Philhealth) and the Home Development Mutual Fund (Pag-IBIG). These government entities have a combined membership of approximately 49.5 million, or more than half of the Philippine population, according to the Confederation for Unity and Advancement of Government Employees (Courage). GSIS has 1.5 million members; SSS, 27 to 28 million; Philhealth, 10 million; and Pag-ibig, 10 million. Costing P180 ($3.95) each, the Unified Multipurpose ID will generate P8.91 billion ($196 million) in revenues for the government.
“We fear that this multimillion project will be another campaign kitty for the Arroyo administration and also an avenue to skirt the unconstitutionality of the National ID System which was already rejected by the Supreme Court during the Ramos regime. This could be the initial phase of the National ID system, considering that the membership of the four workers’ fund totals to almost 50 million,” said Ferdinand Gaite, Courage’s national president.
On Dec. 12, 1996, then president Fidel V. Ramos signed Administrative Order 308 titled “Adoption of a Computerized Identification Reference System” purportedly to facilitate the delivery of government services. Because of fears that it would be used to violate the right to privacy and to monitor people critical of the government, AO 308 resulted in a groundswell of protests. This forced the Ramos administration to go slow in its implementation. The last nail in the coffin was hammered by the Supreme Court when it declared Administrative Order 308 as unconsittutional.

Doubtful Usefulness

In a statement, Courage voiced their doubts about the “promised results of the UMID.” They said that efficient and better services from the GSIS, SSS, Pag-ibig and Philhealth can be better felt by the fund owners through increased dividends and benefits rather than a mere ID replacement. “Although the government presents the project as simple and necessary, we deem that this will bring more problems than solutions. It is expensive, impractical and shall subject the people to surveillances and other forms of political harassment,” Courage said.

Critics hold a demonstration against the UMID, calling it useless and a waste of people’s money. (Photo by Marya Salamat / bulatlat.com)
To illustrate, Gaite said the UMID is just the third in the line of ultimately useless cards being pushed by the government to GSIS members since 2004, when it sold them the e-card; then in 2007 the so-called e-GSIS card, and this year, the UMID. “Despite these cards, employees are still complaining, up to now, of the very slow processing and services of GSIS,” Gaite said.
“The UMID will not really fast-track the delivery of services to members,” said Anakpawis Representative Joel Maglungsod. Instead, he said, it could even be used as an excuse to deny or delay the approval of loans or assistance. According to Rep. Maglungsod, the information embedded in UMID cards, similar to what the government wants to implement with the National ID system, would have to be checked and double checked with the DILG, for instance.
“UMID can help hit two birds with one stone,” Maglungsod said. Aside from being a money-making scheme to help defuse the Arroyo government’s burgeoning deficit problem, he said the UMID, just like the National ID system, would likely be used, too, in conjunction with the government’s counter-insurgency program.
“This new project is highly questionable since there are lots of GSIS-related problems such as the underpayment of premiums, delayed posting of premiums and loan amortization, and the most recent scrapping of the survivor pension for dependents, spouse and family of members,” said Gabriela Women’s Partylist Representative and aspiring senator Liza Maza.
“Before entering into another project, the GSIS should first solve the problems that have long been plaguing the agency and until now are burdening its members, as well as improve its services,” Maza said.
Showing his own SSS card, Joselito Ustarez, vice president of KMU (May First Movement), explained that the “present ID in SSS is sufficient for any transaction with the SSS.” He said that adding other required data field in a new ID “is another way of worsening the lack of benefits,” such as “what the SSS members suffered in the aftermath of Ondoy and Pepeng.” He stressed that the P4.8 billion ($105,413,418) projected cost of UMID to SSS’s 28 million members could be put to better use if made available to members as benefits instead, and not as a double-edged ID card.

Ustarez added that the billions of money to be “spent” on UMID may only be used by Arroyo for her own gain in the coming elections, especially since the SSS is under Romulo Neri. Neri is widely perceived as being loyal to the Arroyo government especially after he refused to reveal his conversations with the president regarding the bribery-ridden NBN-ZTE contract.  

(Reprinted with permission from  Bulatlat.com)


URL: http://www.bulatlat.com/main/2010/03/21/arroyo%E2%80%99s-umid-a-national-id-system-in-disguise/

15 Years After Death of Flor Contemplacion, OFWs Remain Vulnerable as Ever March 21, 2010

15 Years After Death of Flor Contemplacion, OFWs Remain Vulnerable as Ever

March 21, 2010
OFWs and domestic helpers are still going through the same nightmare that Flor Contemplacion suffered. Many rot in jail. Several have been sentenced to death. Thousands suffer abuse from their employers and neglected by their government. To these OFWs, the Arroyo regime is “chief executioner of the rights and welfare of OFWs.”


MANILA — The case of Flor Contemplacion, an overseas Filipino worker (OFW) who worked in Singapore and who was sentenced to die after he was accused of killing a fellow Filipino domestic helper, is still etched in the people’s minds even.
Her death by hanging in Singapore was met by huge protest actions that shook the foundations of the Ramos administration. Contemplacion became a symbol of the hardships and sufferings that befall on OFWs. It should have been a wake-up call for the government. Yet, 15 years since her tragic death, OFWs are still suffering from worsening work conditions, abuse, and government neglect. And the same tragic stories are repeated over and over again.

OFWs denounce the abuse they continue to suffer. (Photo by Janess Ann J. Ellao / bulatlat.com)
While the hanging of Contemplacion happened during the Ramos administration, Migrante International, the biggest organization of OFWs, still see President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as the “chief executioner of the rights and welfare of OFWs.”
Migrante chairman Garry Martinez said in a statement that six OFWs have been beheaded under the Arroyo administration, 26 are in death row in the Middle East alone and hundreds are in jails. Migrante said OFWs who are accused of crimes are eventually convicted because the Arroyo government failed to provide them with legal assistance.
But this year’s commemoration of Contemplacion’s execution is also marked by another death of an OFW. According to news reports, the body of a Filipino woman domestic helper was discovered last Monday March 15 in an apartment in Bencoolen Street, Singapore. The body, which had multiple stab wounds in the chest, was identified as that of Roselyn Pascua.
“We hope that justice will be served in this case and will not add further to the long list of mysterious deaths where the perpetrators have never been identified or punished,” Martinez said.
Some 72 percent of the 144,312 OFWs in Singapore are women, most of them are working as domestic helpers. Since 2008, Migrante has counted 51 cases of mysterious deaths in Singapore.

To OFWs, Arroyo is their “chief executioner.” (Photo by Janess Ann J. Ellao / bulatlat.com)
To commemorate the death of Contemplacion and to protest the continuing abuses and government neglect being suffered by OFWs, Migrante, OFWs and their kin marched last Tuesday March 16 from Morayta to Mendiola bridge near Malacanang, The protesters denounced the worsening plight of overseas migrant workers and accused the Arroyo administration of being the “top violator” of the United Nations Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families.
Another Story of Abuse

Heidi Simpron, 37, also an OFW, knows the story of Contemplacion. But she never expected that after working in the Middle East for so long already, she would come close to suffering the same fate as Contemplacion’s. .
Simpron left for Riyadh on Aug. 22, 2009, to work as a domestic helper. It was not the first time that she would work as a migrant worker. “My recent employer was very nice to me during my first month. But when I reminded them that my salary was already due, things began to change,” she told Bulatlat. A few days later, Simpron was given her first salary, 1,500 riyals. But “I could feel that they were talking about me behind my back but I was not sure then what it was all about.”

OFWs call an end to the Arroyo regime. (Photo by Janess Ann J. Ellao / bulatlat.com)
On Oct. 16, 2009, Simpron finally understood what was happening. She was brought to the police station and was accused of robbery. As part of the “procedure,” her employers took off her clothes, despite Simpron’s plea that she had menstruation, purportedly to check if she has really stolen anything from their house. “I was harassed. I felt violated,” she said.
Since there was no proof that she stole anything, despite her employers’ repeated alleged attempts to plant evidence against her, she was brought to the Riyadh office of her employment agency on Nov. 1, 2009.
“During daytime, we were being offered to other possible Arab employers,” Simpron said. But on Nov. 15, Simpron said one of the staff in the agency slapped and threatened to kill her. She escaped the next day and took refuge at the Bahay Kalinga of Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) in Riyadh.
Simpron remembers that she did not have anything with her at that time. “All I had was myself,” she said.
Soon she was transferred to the deportation center in Riyadh where Simpron stayed for a month. “I returned home on Feb. 17, 2010,” Simpron said, “But has not received any further help from OWWA.”
“My family is hurting,” Simpron said, “If I was not strong enough to escape my conditions there, I would have been dead by now.
Migrante said despite exacting a mandatory $25 OWWA fee for each OFW, its services remain limited. Migrante cited the case of the health workers of Annasban, who had to camp out in front of OWWA’s office in Pasay City just to get what is due to them.

OFWs are demanding the junking of the OWWAs Omnibus Policy, which only perpetuate the abuse, they say. (Photo by Janess Ann J. Ellao / bulatlat.com)
“The OWWA Omnibus Policy, enacted two years after Arroyo became president, made OFWs into virtual milking cows,” Martinez said. The P63 million ($1.3 million) daily collection from fees imposed on Filipinos who apply to work abroad and the billions of dollars in remittances that keep the Philippine economy afloat are the reasons why, according to Martinez, the present administration continues to pursue labor markets abroad instead of ensuring the protection of OFWs and generating enough jobs at home.
Migrante is challenging presidential bets to generate domestic jobs by pursuing genuine agrarian reform and developing local industries. They are also calling on presidential bets to make a stand against the OWWA Omnibus Policy.
(Reprinted with permission from  Bulatlat.com)

Source: Bulatlat.com

URL: http://www.bulatlat.com/main/2010/03/21/15-years-after-death-of-flor-contemplacion-ofws-remain-vulnerable-as-ever/

Noynoy faces disqualification By Marie A. Surbano 03/27/2010

LP bet, NP exceed airtime limits

Noynoy faces disqualification

By Marie A. Surbano

Liberal Party (LP) standard bearer Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino faces disqualification from the presidential race, as he has violated the election laws, having exceeded, as of March 12 , the TV airtime allotted for each presidential candidate under the Fair Elections Law.

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) is empowered to immediately disqualify a candidate if he is found to have violated election laws. 

The penalty is six years in jail, as stated in Section 264 of the Omnibus Election Code.

Aquino has exceeded the 120 minutes allowable time to place political advertisements on ABS-CBN.

The Nacionalista Party (NP) has also exceeded its allowable airtime of 120 minutes for every TV station, although the Comelec claimed that NP bet Manuel “Manny” Villar, using his personal and not party funds, still has to use up his allowable time in ABS-CBN.

At a press briefing yesterday, Comelec spokesmanJames Jimenez warned Aquino against airing any more of his political ads in ABS-CBN as he can no longer place an advertisement in the said television network using his personal funds. 

Aquino, however, will still be allowed to air his political ads, but it will have to be his party that will finance his ads.
“According to our broadcast logs that we have received from the TV stations, he (Aquino) has logged more than 290 minutes already,” he said.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

 URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20100327hed1.html

Gloria, a force to reckon with in House By Gerry Baldo 03/27/2010

Gloria, a force to reckon with in House

By Gerry Baldo

Win or lose, outgoing President Arroyo will still be a force to reckon with.
Even if Arroyo loses the Speakership fight when the 15th Congress opens, she will still be a power to contend with.
If Mrs. Arroyo succeeds in winning a House seat in the Second District of her home province Pampanga, she could be a strong force, enough to oust a sitting president, Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino vice presidential candidate Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay said yesterday.
Binay added that whether or not a “Rep. Gloria Arroyo” gets the House speakership, she and a few loyal followers of around 90 lawmakers could prove to be a potent group that could threaten the next president with an impeachment case.
“If Arroyo captures just one-third of the House of Representatives, then she will hurdle the constitutional threshold of impeaching the Malacañang’s occupant,” he warned.
“Whether she is Speaker of the House or minority leader with 90 congressmen behind her, she is in a position to undermine the next president.” Binay added.
Binay posited that Mrs. Arroyo would still have the edge in both instances when she gains the speakership or loses the fight to become the minority leader with only 90 allies behind her..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20100327hed3.html

Exceeding TV airtime now a problem EDITORIAL 03/27/2010

Exceeding TV airtime now a problem

Click to enlarge
Less than 45 days to go before the scheduled polls but according to a media monitoring firm checking on political ads on television, AGB Nielsen Media Research, the so-called survey front-runners, Manny Villar and Noynoy Aquino, have already exceeded their maximum airtime of 120 minutes per TV channel, although the exceeded time covers only two TV networks: GMA-7 and ABS-CBN.

The monitoring agency’s data showed that from Feb. 9, the official start of the campaign, to March 24, Villar, presidential bet of the Nacionalista Party has already used up 122.5 minutes of the allotted 120 minutes for his political ads in ABS-CBN and 128.25 minutes in GMA-7, already an infraction of the election law and the Commission on Elections (Comelec) rules.
Noynoy, Liberal Party standard bearer, is in the same infraction boat, with AGB Nielsen’s data showing that he had used up 129 minutes in ABS-CBN, or 6.5 minutes more than Villar in ABS-CBN, but still has 2 minutes left over for GMA-7.
The data cover only airtime up till March 24. There have been some more political ads featuring both, appearing in these two TV networks, which would translate to their having exceeded even more on extra minutes of airtime.
Will the Comelec sanction these two presidential candidates, for their having violated the fair elections law on campaign spending, or will it simply dismiss these infractions?
Chances are, they will merely be given a slap on the wrist.
But what is more problematic for both Aquino and Villar is the fact that, with the proof that they had exceeded their alloted airtime, for them to place more ads on these two TV channels — and for these TV channels to accept them, would mean a deliberate violation of their allotted ads for airtime..... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

 URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20100327com1.html

Mob rule mentality FRONTLINE Ninez Cacho-Olivares 03/27/2010

Mob rule mentality

Ninez Cacho-Olivares

Knowing that they have lost the battle with the high court that can’t be expected to reverse its decision vesting Gloria Arroyo the power to appoint the next Chief Justice, which translates to their not having their way in the next president’s appointment of their preferred CJ, the critics of the Supreme Court, mostly consisting of the yellows, and the usual civil socialites who don’t care a fig about the Constitution and its interpretation — unless Supreme Court (SC) decisions jibe with their unconstitutional nature — their idea now is to destroy the high court and its justices, save for one or two justices whom they favor and who they make out as being independent.

Because if these same civil socialites truly believe in democracy and the rule of law, as well as respect for institutions, they would have followed the usual procedure, which is to file a motion for reconsideration, then accept whatever the SC final decision would be.

The yellows refuse to do so. Instead, they stage protests and burn tarpulins with the pictures of the justices who voted in favor of the incumbent Malacañang tenant’s right to appoint the next CJ, saying that the SC is now an Arroyo court, no different from the Marcos court; that the SC should not interpret the Charter but merely do as it states and that these justices have destroyed the institution — the last bulwark of democracy.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

 URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20100327com2.html

US standing firm in row with Israel focus 03/27/2010

US standing firm in row with Israel


WASHINGTON — The US appears in no mood to blink first in its tense showdown with Israel after reportedly handing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a blueprint to kickstart moribund peace talks, experts said Thursday.

“The United States thinks it can’t compromise with its national interests,” political analyst Amjad Atallah from the New America foundation told AFP. “I’m not sure the Israelis have adjusted yet to this.”
Netanyahu was met with widespread media derision Thursday as he returned home after three days of meetings in Washington with no signs of a break in the impasse, triggered by Israel’s refusal to back down on settlement building.

As Israeli media said he been showered in humiliation, the White House sought to give an upbeat tone to Netanyahu’s trip.

“We are making progress on important issues,” spokesman Robert Gibbs insisted as President Barack Obama flew to Iowa on Air Force One... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20100327com3.html

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