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China guarding against “color revolutions”

BEIJINGChina has suspended plans to allow the domestic publication of foreign newspapers due to what officials are calling the threat of “color revolutions” backed by the West.

 "When I think of the ‘color revolutions’, I feel afraid," Shi Zongyuan, head of the General Administration of Press and Publication, told the UK‘s Financial Times.

Shi was referring to the growth of opposition movements that have toppled regimes in Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, and the Ukraine. China’s leaders compare these "color revolutions" -so named because of the color and flower symbols adopted by protesters – to the uprisings that led in the late 1980s to the fall of Communist governments in Europe, and claim that Pres. George Bush’s repeated calls for the global promotion of democracy fuel such revolts. read more

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UN rejects Guantanamo visit conditions

NEW YORK – The UN’s Special Rapporteur on Torture has cancelled a planned trip to the Guantanamo detention center on Dec. 6 due a refusal by U.S. officials to allow private contact with detainees. According to Agence France Press, a UN inspection team led by Manfred Nowak had set a Nov. 17 deadline for acceptance of specific conditions, including interviews with some of the more than 500 prisoners being held at the detention facility within the U.S. naval base.

Deutsche Presse Agentur, Germany‘s national news agency, notes that only representatives of the Red Cross International Committee have been allowed to talk to the detainees in private. International conventions require that they not discuss thee conversations. read more

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CIA’s Castro intelligence flawed

HAVANA – The CIA has recently issued a report that Cuban leader Fidel Castro is suffering from Parkinson’s disease. "The assessment is that he has the disease and that his condition has progressed," an unnamed official told Reuters and other news outlets.

The news quickly spread around the world, accompanied by a rehashing of Castro’s fall last year, which resulted in a fractured kneecap and right arm.

But mainstream news outlets were less eager to report that the 79-year-old spoke on his feet for several hours last week, addressing University Student Federation leaders, students and teachers during a 60th anniversary ceremony for his entry to Havana´s University. read more

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Israel’s barrier fences off tourism

BETHLEHEM – Just in time for Christmas, the birthplace of Christ has been sealed off from Jerusalem by a 25-foot wall and huge iron gate resembling a nuclear shelter, reports the UK Times. The wall and sentry posts are the latest addition to the controversial 423-mile barrier that Israel is constructing through Jerusalem and the West Bank.

Israel‘s government sees the wall as the key to separating itself from the Palestinians, and points to its recent success in stemming the flow of suicide bombers and gunmen. But it also means that Bethlehem‘s 30,000 Palestinians are walled off from Jerusalem, two of the most popular destinations for visitors to the Holy Land. read more

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Chavez offers Caribbean cheap oil

PUERTO LA CRUZ, Venezuela – Fresh from his confrontation with Pres. George Bush at the Summit of the Americas, Venezuelan Pres. Hugo Chavez is using his most powerful asset – oil – to challenge U.S. dominance in the Caribbean. His latest move, according to the BBC, is a regional oil initiative to provide fuel at cheaper prices to 15 Caribbean nations. 

Venezuela, a leading oil supplier to the United States, is the world’s fifth largest oil exporter, producing 3.1 million barrels a day. Chavez is using that position to develop diversified energy ties with the Caribbean, Latin America, and Asia. He has named the new plan Petrocaribe, and describes it as “an energy alliance” that will offer highly preferential oil prices, with Venezuela picking up 40 percent of the cost if oil is selling at more than $50 a barrel. That could mean further price breaks for Cuba and other nations. read more

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Secret prisons spark outrage – about leaks

WASHINGTON – As Democrats press for an inquiry about cooked” pre-war intelligence on Iraq, the House Intelligence Committee, chaired by Rep. Peter Hoekstra, R- MI, has decided to probe into the recent leak of classified information about secret CIA prisons.

On Nov. 2, the Washington Post revealed the existence of so-called “ghost prisons” used to interrogate terrorist suspects in eight countries, including at least two in Eastern Europe. The revelation didn’t only disturb only the president’s allies – downcast by the news of torture and the indictments handed down as a result of the leak of a CIA agent’s name. Some liberals were also upset, since the Post agreed to a request by senior U.S. officials not to name the countries involved. read more