|Sunday, April 16, 2000,
Clinton hails Duma approval of
Clinton: visit led to Sikh carnage
90 bodies in mass graves
France backs India on UN council
West Bank talks: Jiang calls for
Kashmir key to ties: Musharraf
Black side of US justice system
Clinton hails Duma approval of START II
WASHINGTON, April 15 (PTI) US President Bill Clinton has welcomed the approval of the START II treaty by the Russian Duma, saying the development will "intensify" discussions on START III and the ABM treaty.
"Together with the START I treaty, START II will result in a two-thirds reduction in the strategic nuclear weapons that the Soviet Union and the US maintained at the height of the Cold War," Mr Clinton said in a statement last night.
Congratulating Russian President-elect Vladimir Putin, the lower House of Parliament and the Russian people, Mr Clinton said the approval would give an opportunity to "intensify our discussions on both START III and the ABM treaty".
The Russian Duma yesterday approved the long-delayed strategic Russia-US START II nuclear arms reduction treaty which would halve US and Russian nuclear arsenals to about 3,000-3,500 warheads each by the end of 2007 and enable both nations to step up efforts on working out START III.
Under START I, Russia and the US had an upper limit of 6,000 each for their strategic arms arsenal.
Mr Putin had warned that Moscow would pull out of the treaty should Washington violate the 1972 ABM anti-missile defence pact.
START III, which the two countries are to negotiate, would reduce the limit of arms arsenal to 2,000-2,500 each.
MOSCOW (AFP): Russia would not dismantle any of its strategic nuclear weapons before 2007, even though the now-approved START II treaty would take effect the following year, Mr Putin said today.
"Not one strategic missile will be removed from its launch pad before the deadline expires if we find that our partners are not meeting their targets at a comparable level," the Interfax news agency quoted Mr Putin as saying.
"Whether or not we ratified START II, we would have dismantled all these missiles in 2007," the President-elect said.
The START II treaty was initially due to become effective at the end of 2003, but a treaty clause signed in New York in 1997 by US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and the then Russian Foreign Minister, Mr Yevgeny Primakov, pushed the date back to December 31, 2007.
The US Senate, which ratified the START II treaty in 1993, has not yet accepted the additional 1997 protocols.
Clinton: visit led to Sikh carnage
ATLANTA, April 15 (AP) President Clinton has said his recent trip to South Asia was the impetus for a massacre of 35 perfectly innocent people in Kashmir.
Im sure they were murdered because I was there, Mr Clinton said yesterday during a fund-raising luncheon for Georgia Democratic Rep. Cynthia McKinney. Those people lost their lives because I went to India and to Pakistan.
Mr Clinton visited nuclear rivals India and Pakistan last month, but dashed Pakistans hopes of mediating in their decades-old, border dispute over Kashmir.
The police said militants massacred at least 35 persons in the Sikh village of Chatti Singhpora on March 20, as Mr Clinton began his weeklong trip.
Mr Clinton expressed outrage over the Sikh killings at the time. But he said he would not be dragged into the Kashmir dispute by acts of violence, and would not intervene unless both countries asked.
Although Mr Clinton did not directly accuse Pakistan of conducting cross-border terrorism, a US think tank, the Centre for International Studies said: The long term outlook depends partly on whether the Pakistan Government is willing or able to discipline militant groups. If it cannot or will not, prospects for US-Pakistan relations and for regional stability are poor.
Praising the Indian effort to penetrate computers in remotest of its villages he said, I was in remotest of Indian villages and I saw how computers worked there and the use of Hindi, the mother of languages in the computers.
The way the internet is transforming life, Mr Clinton said no country could be isolated from it. Two years ago there were 2 million internet users in China; last year there were 9 million; this year there will be over 20 million; within two years there will be over 100 million.
The Centre for Strategic and International Studies said about 65 per cent of the software requirements of the USA come from India or Indians, and some 30 per cent of the worlds software engineers are of Indian origin.
90 bodies in mass graves
BUENOS AIRES, April 15 (Reuters) More than 90 cadavers that were buried for more than two decades in mass graves in a forgotten Argentine cemetery have been identified as victims of the countrys last military dictatorship.
Seemingly destined to spend eternity without a name in the graveyard in the small town of Lomas de Zamora just south of here, their stories did not come to light until after a new cemetery director, Mr Juan Hrchan, took over last December.
"The last director pointed toward one grave and said, Dont mess with this one because its full of subversives and those old ladies (human rights activists mothers of the Plaza de Mayo) will screw things up if you do, Mr Hrchan told Reuters yesterday.
Between 10,000 and 30,000 Argentines "disappeared" during the 1976-83 "dirty war" according to human rights groups. Some were tossed out of planes into the Atlantic Ocean and others were buried in mass graves, their bodies never found.
The Police acted with total impunity during the dictatorship, and cemetery directors knew not to ask questions when shady officers appeared in the middle of the night with dead bodies.
It was not until Mr Hrchan took the reins of the premises that the secret finally slipped out.
"In a notebook that we have here it says Grave 60, Jane doe number two, John doe number three, do not disturb. Signed Cecilio A. Moreira, Municipal Cemetery Director," Mr Hrchan read.
In one mass grave, ledgers filled out by the police in Lomas de Zamora listed nine anonymous victims with the same official death date Christmas Eve 1976 who lived only a few blocks away from the feared pozo de Banfield clandestine torture centre run by the military, Mr Hrchan said.
While waiting for a federal judge to order an exhumation and the identification of the more than 90 bodies, Mr Hrchan has remained vigilant, not allowing anyone to disturb the sites.
"All the graves were unmarked. I marked them as anonymous and I painted a red streak across the sites so that the whole world would know that these tombs do in fact exist, he said.
Mr Hrchan has faced criticism from past directors who resent the publicity caused by the graves discovery.
France backs India on UN council seat
PARIS, April 15 (PTI) France has said Indias emergence as a power centre in a multipolar world is inevitable giving New Delhi the right to be in the UN Security Council as a permanent member.
"India as an emerging power is evident from the interests it creates in the European Union, USA and Asian countries.In the changing international order India has a right to be in the enlarged Security Council," French Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine said in an interview to PTI ahead of President K.R. Narayanans five-day state visit to France beginning on April 16.
Elaborating on tomorrows multipolar world, the French Minister said the European Union, India, China, Japan and Russia along with others would emerge as power centres paving the way for an equitable relationship in world affairs.
Commending the new
momentum in Indo-French relations, the minister insisted
that the ongoing dialogue between the two countries would
be very valuable both at the bilateral and global levels
in a multipolar world.
West Bank talks: Jiang calls for flexibility
BETHLEHEM (West Bank), April 15 (DPA) Chinese President Jiang Zemin today called on both the Palestinians and Israelis to show flexibility in their talks so that they can reach a peaceful agreement to their conflict.
Speaking to reporters in Bethlehem following a one-hour meeting with Palestinian President Yassir Arafat, Mr Jiang said that "force cannot solve the problem," stressing that China supports the principle of negotiations to solve the conflict.
He, however, said China believed that Israels conflict with the Palestinians and its Arab neighbours "should be resolved on the basis of pertinent UN resolutions, the principle of land for peace and the signed agreements."
Mr Arafat, meanwhile, expressed the hope that China would play a bigger role in the peace process. He thanked the Chinese President for Chinas support for the Palestinian people over the years.
President Arafat described as "not true" reports that Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak had agreed to a Palestinian state on 65 per cent of the West Bank.
President Jiang, on a
six-day visit to Israel and the Palestinian areas,
arrived in Bethlehem this morning and was to visit the
Church of the Nativity later, before addressing a special
full session of the Palestinian parliament, which has
been brought to Bethlehem to hear his speech.
Kashmir key to ties: Musharraf
DUBAI, April 15 (UNI) Pakistans military ruler Pervez Musharraf has said a solution to the Kashmir issue was the key to normalisation of relations between India and Pakistan.
settlement of the Kashmir issue between India and
Pakistan must take into account the wishes of the
Kashmiri people and relevant UN resolutions", he
said in an interview to an Egyptian daily on the eve of
his three-day official visit to Cairo.
Black side of US justice system
GENEVA, April 15 (IPS) A Washington-based organisation of human rights lawyers has denounced the US justice system before the United Nations Human Rights Commission of acting in a discriminatory and racist manner.
US Attorney William B. Moffitt said on Thursday the International Human Rights Law Group was turning to the UN for support because "when the richest country in the world systematically disregards the human rights of blacks, it offends the dignity of all the worlds citizens".
Although all forms of slavery and segregation have been eradicated, racial discrimination is still prevalent in the USA, according to the law group.
The human rights group asked for support from the UN Human Rights Commission the highest human rights body in the UN system which is currently holding its annual sessions in Geneva.
Mr Moffitt told IPS that his group was turning to the international community due to the lack of willingness within the USA to address the problem.
Racial profiling, in which racial origin turns into a presumption of guilt even in the absence of evidence of criminal behaviour, has become endemic throughout the USA, the law group stated in its petition to the human rights commission.
From 1989 to 1994, the number of women of colour in prison shot up by 78 per cent, said the human rights group. But "perhaps the most outstanding statistic is that today one-third 33 per cent of Afro-American males between the ages of 20 and 29 are currently under some form of incarceration or course of revision, it added.
In his speech to the human rights commission, Mr Moffitt pointed out that 50 years ago, black males accounted for five per cent of the US population and 30 per cent of the prison population, compared to six per cent of the total population and a full 50 per cent of the prison population today.
The unequal treatment is even more glaring in cases involving drug charges, Mr Moffitt told the representatives of the 53 member states of the human rights commission.
The so-called "war on drugs in the USA is "primarily a war against minority people, said Mr Moffitt, who is also the president of the National Association of Criminal defence Lawyers.
Mr Moffitt said since 1997, the US federal justice system had been based on a system of sentencing guidelines and mandatory minimum sentences. In the case of drug offences, the system is governed by a mathematical orientation based on the weight of the drug in question.
Despite lack of scientific rigour, the guidelines make one gram of crack equivalent to any other kind of cocaine, for sentencing purposes. "It was completely arbitrary. There was no science involved, no discussion, he complained.
Crack, meanwhile, is the cheapest form of cocaine, which means those affected most heavily by "this disparateness, this one hundred-to-one situation, are generally those at the bottom of the socioeconomic scale who tend to be first, poor, and second, minorities, said Mr Moffitt.
Thus, a youngster possessing 15 grams of crack is given the same treatment as someone caught with 100 times more of any other kind of cocaine.
An overwhelming majority, 85 per cent, of those prosecuted according to these guidelines are Black or Latino. "Our children go to jail for much longer and are treated much more harshly, the lawyer protested.
The law group also told the human rights commission that there was irrefutable evidence that capital punishment was applied in an arbitrary, unfair and discriminatory manner, based on racial or socio-economic origin.
George H. Kendall, an
adviser to the National Association of Criminal Defence
Lawyers, said if the victim was White, whoever was
accused of the murder was four times more likely to be
sentenced to death than if the victim was non-white.
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