South Sudan: Peace Talks Rescheduled as States of Emergency Declared

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States of emergency have been declared by President Kiir in Jonglei and Unity states, while the delegations from both sides of the South Sudan conflict have assembled in Ethiopia for peace talks now rescheduled for Thursday.

Peace Talks in Addis Abada will begin Thursday at the earliest. The talks had been originally scheduled to begin Wednesday. The talks will focus on “monitoring mechanisms for the ceasefire.”

The peace talks will be the first to host representatives from both President Kiir’s government and Riek Machar’s rebel opposition. The talks are being brokered by IGAD, the East African trade organization. Lazaro Sumebeiywo, a retired Kenyan general, will mediate the talks.

The delegation for Kiir is led by a former associate of the John Garang. Former ally of Machar, Lam Akol, is also among Kiir’s delegation. Machar’s delegation is led by a former governor of Unity State, accompanied by the widow of Garang.

John Garang was the founder of the SPLA and leader of the SPLA during the Second Sudanese Civil War. Garang served briefly as the first President of Sudan after the peace agreement in 2005, but died that same year in a helicopter crash.

Political prisoners being held by Kiir have still not been released. This release is a primary goal of Machar, who has stated that the release is a precondition for peace negotiations. The African Union has also urged Kiir to release the prisoners, as have ISAD mediators and the international community in general.

The President, for his part, has stated that he definitely will not share power with Machar. The President stated that Machar does not deserve power because Machar attempted to take power violently, although democratic means exist–notably the elections coming in 2015.

Bor, which was retaken by the rebel White Army Tuesday, was the scene of renewed clashes Wednesday.

The government of South Sudan partially withdrew from Bor, but reported that they were still fighting in the suburbs.

The South Sudanese government issued a statement that the SPLA had tactically withdrawn from Bor but that the SPLA was advancing back to attack the rebel army in Bor. The rebel army, which was removed from Bor last week before retaking the city Tuesday had issued a similar statement during the interim.

The humanitarian situation in Bor is worsening, as water, food, medicine, and sanitation needs press aid organizations to their limits.

Bor is a city of strategic importance. Bor lies 75 miles (120 kilometers) from Juba, capital of South Sudan.

Civil war is a major concern for the UN and U.S., who have both warned all warring factions in South Sudan that they must cease hostilities to prevent a civil war. The African Union has expressed the same concern.

The U.S. government has stated that it will hold responsible for their actions the leaders of any force that tries to seize power. The AU has threatened sanctions against any initiator of violence.

Uganda’s President Museveni has threatened Machar with Ugandan military intervention if the rebels persist. International mediators told Machar Tuesday that the Museveni threat would come into play if Machar’s forces moved beyond Bor toward the capital.

Several locations in South Sudan were the site of battles Tuesday and Wednesday.

In Mayom, rebels were dislodged and the SPLA is advancing, according to Information Minister Michael Makuei Leuth.

Bentiu, capital of Unity State, which is in the hands of the rebels, is also within range of a SPLA attack, according to army statements. On Tuesday, Colonel Philip Aguer told state TV Tuesday that the army was being moved toward Bentiu and Wednesday an army spokesman said that the SPLA can “advance any time” on the city.

Three tanks were captured by the SPLA after an offensive against the rebels in Nyeil Payam, Parieng county, Unity State, Wednesday. The rebels had attacked a village in Payam but had been resisted and forced to flee after three tanks belonging to the rebels were destroyed, reportedly. The locals of that area, mainly Dinka groups, had joined with the SPLA and battled the rebels. Both sides suffered heavy casualties and an American citizen was killed, according to UNMISS.

The conflict has affected all aspects of South Sudanese life.

Trade in South Sudan has been affected on a large scale. Foreign and local traders have suffered from looted markets, disrupted banking, and closure of roads.

Air travel in South Sudan was suspended by the government Tuesday. The suspension affected flights to all areas where there was rebel fighting, including Bor, Panyagor, and Akobo. The reason for the suspension was not provided by the government, but commenters suspected the reason was that Bor had fallen to the rebel forces. Air travel remained open to the rest of South Sudan; only flights to Unity State and to some parts of the Upper Nile state were cancelled.

(Correction based on comments below: only flights to Unity and Johnglei States have been cancelled.)

Kenya Airways announced the resuming of flights to Juba January 2. The airline had suspended flights December 24 due to the armed rebellion.

Sudan has announced that it is ready to begin receiving refugees from South Sudan.

Donations for SPLA soldiers have been requested from all South Sudanese who can give by a committee in Northern Bahr El-Ghazal state, one of the areas in South Sudan so far unaffected by the civil conflict. Last week SPLA spokespeople announced that 1000 SPLA soldiers had been wounded recently, mainly from Jonglei, Upper Nile, and Unity states and Juba.

South Sudan peace talks, rescheduled for Thursday, will convene in Addis Abada, Ethiopia, as states of emergency have been declared in Jonglei and Unity states, the two states in which rebels hold the capital cities.

By Day Blakely Donaldson

Sources:

Land and Sea Journal
Voice of America
Chimp Reports
Chimp Reports
Susan Page
Radio Tamazuj
Radio Tamazuj
Sudan Tribune

South Sudan: Peace Talks Begin After Bor Taken by Rebels

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Peace talk delegates from both sides of the conflict in South Sudan arrived in Ethiopia as Bor was taken by White Army rebels Tuesday.

At dawn Tuesday, conflict broke out between the Sudan People’s Liberation Army and the White Army rebels just outside of the city of Bor, capital of Jonglei state. The rebels managed to retake Bor after heavy gunfire. This battle flew in the face of a deadline demanded by the African Union and the South Sudanese President, Salva Kiir, for cessation of hostilities

The news was first reported by text messages sent by one of Machar’s aides, Moses Ruai, and confirmed by Bor residents independently. The government later confirmed that the rebels had taken the city after a long period of silence on the matter.

Bor city is seen as a strategic location and a gateway to the capital, Juba.

Aguer had made statements over previous days that he anticipated the White Army was preparing to make a fresh attack on Bor, but that Aguer was confident the rebels would be prevented from taking the town. The progress of the White Army across Jonglei state towards Bor had been monitored over their days travel.

Many civilians have fled and are fleeing Bor to neighboring states and to the UNMISS compound just outside Bor. UN reports state that the UNMISS compound resident population has fallen from 17 000 last week to 8000 Monday, as people are moving to other locations.

Bor airport has been closed for the second time.

A meeting between representatives of the South Sudan government and Machar’s forces have arrived in Addis Abada, Ethiopia to negotiate an end to the civil violence.

Machar, who is currently in hiding, was clear that he would not meet with Kiir directly–at least until after the Addis Abada talks–and warned that his forces would continue to fight.

“Our forces are still marching on Juba, there is no cessation of hostilities yet,” said Machar by satellite phone, explaining also that any cessation of fighting would need to be negotiated. Machar expected that the Addis Abada talks would have this purpose.

Huusein Mar Nyout is among the delegation for Machar. Machar also publicly named Rebecca Nyandeng, the widow of John Garang, but she later said that she wasn’t leading the delegation to Addis Abada.

IGAD, the East African development organization, has been demanding that Machar cease hostilities by Tuesday. IGAD is also pressuring the Kiir government to release his political prisoners. IGAD has threatened possible sanctions.

The African Union stated that it would, “take appropriate measures, including targeted sanctions, against all those who incite people to violence, including along ethnic lines.”

Tuesday IGAD announced to Reuters that both sides had agreed to cease hostilities, but there no timeframe for such a cessation was detailed.

Machar has responded that he and his group welcome IGAD’s calls for cessation of hostilities: “We are ready to ceasefire immediately to stop the bloodletting once the Government of Salva Kiir reciprocates,” said a statement written by the rebels.

Machar warned regional leaders, however–particularly Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni–against involving themselves in the conflict. Machar warned that such involvement would only fuel hostilities and compromise IGAD’s position as a peace broker between the two warring parties.

Museveni had been the most vocal of the East African leaders who had participated in talks with the South Sudan government last week dealing with conflict resolution plans. Museveni had frankly warned Machar that Machar must stop within the four days given him or face defeat.

Machar also has repeatedly stated that he will not negotiate with Kiir unless certain political leaders held by Kiir are released. The political leaders were jailed in the early days of the conflict in Juba.

Machar’s delegates to Addis Abada as well as the African Union have urged Kiir to release these prisoners. Nyout pointed out that by keeping the men prisoner while stating a desire for peace, Kiir was not projecting a good message.

Other recent developments in South Sudan: Unity State, a major oil producing region, has seen a partial shutdown of operations, according to the Ministry of Petroleum. Central Equatoria State’s curfew has been extended to 8 p.m. instead of 6 p.m.

Aid Agencies taking care of South Sudanese refugees are calling for more funds and expressing concerns over lack of water, food, sanitation, and medicine. Awerial County, Lakes state, has issued warnings of a humanitarian emergency due to lack of food, water, and shelter for the thousands of people who have arrived there. Over 60 000 people from Bor and Janlei state in general have moved into Lakes state.

Peace talks are expected to start Wednesday in Addis Abada, Ethiopia, and will be participated in for the first time by both sides of the South Sudan conflict, one day after rebels retook several positions, including the highly contested city of Bor in Jonglei state.

By Day Blakely Donaldson

Sources:

Land and Sea Journal
Sudan Tribune
Voice of America
Radio Miriya
Yahoo

South Sudan: Rebels Retake Bor After Battle Tuesday

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Rebels have retaken the South Sudan city of Bor after a battle that started at daybreak Tuesday morning.

The SPLA stationed in Bor had been expecting the White Army rebels, who had been marching toward the city for days.  Army Spokesperson Philip Aguer had made statements about his confidence that the South Sudanese army would be able to prevent the rebels from retaking the town.

Tuesday was the deadline announced the South Sudanese government and the East African trading bloc IGAD, who had threatened repercussions if rebel leader Riek Machar had not called off his violent opposition by that day.

By Day Blakely Donaldson

Land and Sea Journal
Voice of America
Gurtong
Sudan Tribune

South Sudan: Update In-Depth: Rebels Advance on Bor as Uganda Warns Machar

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As rebels advance on Bor and Uganda warns Machar, those on the ground watching the situation unfold are anxious for an in-depth South Sudan update. The remnants of the White Army that have been marching toward Bor over the past days have gotten within miles of the city.  Observers expect a serious battle within the next 24 hours.

The two forces–the Sudan People’s Liberation Army and the rebel army–had engaged in a limited manner Sunday, Dec. 29, when the SPLA soldiers stationed in Bor had come out of that city to attack the approaching White Army.

The White Army is Lou Nuer, a tribe loyal to former Vice President rebel leader Riek Machar.  On Dec. 30, army spokesman colonel Philip Aguer announced that the rebel forces were expected to attack the city soon, but that Aguer was confident that the government army would keep them from taking Bor.

The White Army had advanced toward Bor over the previous days. South Sudanese Information Minister Michael Makuei reported that the rebel force, initially 25 000-strong, had been largely convinced by Nuer tribal elders to discontinue the mission. 5,000 of the youth army continued, dislodging SPLA troops from Mathiang, a town near Bor, before proceeding another 18 miles to the city. The rebels have 30 vehicles and are armed with machine guns, according to Aguer.

Bor had been taken by rebels days after the South Sudanese conflict originally broke out Dec. 15 and was retaken by the SPLA on Dec. 24. On Saturday the rebel forces commented on this, saying that their troop withdrew briefly for tactical reasons but that the rebels would reclaim the town in time to prevent lynchings of Bor residents suspected of rebel support.

During the days after the rebels were forced out of Bor, they staged several attacks on the city, but civilians had begun returning to Bor, according to SPLA spokesmen. However, in fear of the White Army’s advance, civilians have again fled, this time across the White River into the neighboring state, according to UN reconnaissance.

Gadiang, north of Bor, also had seen clashes between the two forces on Dec. 29. The rebel group in this instance was believed to be loyal to rebel leader David Yuayau. In addition to killings, workers in the area were warned by the rebel leader to cease work, and people’s phones were taken.

Yauyau, a politician who failed to become representative of his home country Pibor in last year’s elections, is one of three men who rebelled against the government in May last year.

Malakal was retaken by the government Sunday, Dec. 29 after a fierce battle, and the SPLA had pursued the rebels outside of the town, according to the South Sudanese government. Malakal had been partially controlled by both forces during the previous week, during which time the two forces had engaged several times.

Juba, the capital of South Sudan, is under maximum security control, according to the Aguer.

The current number of displaced South Sudanese is 180,000, according to the UN. 75,000 are receiving refuge in UN compounds around the country; 20,000 around Bor and 22,000 around Malakal.  According to the army, 1,000 government soldiers have been wounded.

Aid organizations working in South Sudan have asked for $209 million to provide for the next three months. They have received $43 million so far.

Both President Kiir and Machar are facing growing international pressure to resolve their dispute.  The UN delegation in Juba has repeatedly urged Kiir to find a means to engage Machar in dialogue to avoid further turmoil.  The UN fears that the conflict could escalate into a tribal civil war.  Other South Sudanese and international activists and organizations have also been vocal about seeking immediate conflict resolution.

The UN, who has the largest international presence in South Sudan, has had some success in mitigating the conflict.  The UN mission started conducting aerial reconnaissance flights Dec. 29 to monitor the White Army’s progress through Jonglei state. UN representatives contacted the White Army to convince them to halt for the sake of avoiding further escalation, according to UN spokespeople.

The UN is doubling its peace-keeping force in South Sudan to nearly 14,000, which should be fully installed in South Sudan within two weeks. The troops will be redeployed from other UN missions in Liberia, Darfur, Haiti, Cote d’Ivoire and elsewhere.

Other East African nations have begun to involve themselves in the conflict. At a meeting last week held in Nairobi, attended by the six nations of East Africa’s IGAD organization, several resolutions were made regarding the rebel uprising. According to South Sudan’s Cabinet Affairs Minister, “The government accepted in principle to do four things. First, we accepted to stop hostilities as [a] priority. We also accepted to release political detainees; some of them have already been released. Thirdly, we accepted and commit ourselves to peaceful dialogue without preconditions. The fourth one is to provide access to all areas for humanitarian assistances and operations.”

Monday, the Ugandan President, Yoweri Museveni, threatened Machar, stating that if Machar fails to heed the ceasefire demanded by IGAD, that region’s leaders would band together against Machar’s forces. Museveni has sent Ugandan troops to fortify Kiir’s SPLA.

“We gave Riek Machar four days to respond and if he doesn’t we shall have to go for him, all of us, that is what we agreed in Nairobi,” Museveni told reporters, referring to the deadline of Dec. 31 by which time IGAD members wanted Machar to call off his attacks.

The intentions of neighbor states in South Sudan have been questioned by some activists and politicians who suspect that IGAD leaders have double standards and are not interested primarily in ending South Sudan’s current conflict. One political prisoner released by the South Sudanese government last Friday, former Minister for Higher Education Adwok Nyaba, alleged that Uganda had close to 3,000 troops and some war planes active in South Sudan. The Ugandan government dismissed these allegations.

“That remains speculative and I have no idea that we’ve engaged in such an action at all,” said a spokesman for the Ugandan army.

A Ugandan MiG-29 bombed rebel-held positions near Bor before Kiir’s SPLA retook that town from the rebels, according to Machar in an interview given Dec. 27. Marchar complained that Uganda was interfering in the internal affairs of South Sudan.

Ethiopia, fearing a civil war, began evacuating its 15,000 citizens who reside in South Sudan in the hundreds. 650 Ethiopians have been evacuated from Nasir town in Upper Nile state, 300 Ethiopians have been flown out of Bor to Juba on UN helicopters, and 800 Ethiopians were evacuated from Bentiu, the capital of Unity state, to Heglig oil field on the northern border.

Other international residents have also evacuated hundreds of their citizens from South Sudan during the past weeks.

Although EGAD and the South Sudanese President have called for immediate peace talks, President Kiir has flatly refused any possibility of sharing power with Machar. Kiir stated that sharing power was “not an option.” Kiir cited his claims that Machar had attempted a coup and stated that Machar did not deserve to share power in South Sudan: “These men have rebelled. If you want power, you don’t rebel so that you are rewarded with the power. You go through the process.”

Machar, for his pary, stated on the 29th that he would not participate in any talks with the government until all political prisoners were freed from Juba.

The origin of the South Sudanese conflict lies in hostilities that broke out in Juba between the guards of South Sudan’s President Kiir and former Vice President Machar Dec. 15. The conflict quickly and spontaneously spread across South Sudan’s 10 states.

By Day Blakely Donaldson

Sources:

Land and Sea Journal
New York Times
UN
BBC
Washington Post
Reuters
Sudan Tribune
Sudan Tribune
Sudan Tribune
Oman Observer

 

South Sudan: 987 Wounded Government Troops

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Currently, 987 SPLA government soldiers are being treated in Juba Military hospital in the capitol of South Sudan, according to Vice President Wani Igga.

The news comes after a day of reports that a 25,000-strong Nuer tribal youth army loyal to Riek Machar had been marching towards the capital city, Juba, in the capitol of South Sudan and reports that the forces had ambitions to attack Bor city.

Bor is the capital of South Sudan’s Jonglei province.  Bor was captured by the rebels on December 18.  The rebels were not able to hold the city when the government army attacked and soon left without much resistance.  Philip Aguer, army spokesperson, had earlier Saturday stated that the rebels were preparing for a fresh offensive to retake the city of Bor.

Jonglei officials have appealed to humanitarian organizations to provide food to Bor residents after the Bor market was devastated by fighting.

The SPLA army announced that it has initiated a force to recapture the rebel-held capital of Unity State, Bentiu.

The government also announced that it has agreed to release to the rebel forces; 11 political prisoners, up from its previous offer of 8, which offer was declined by Machar.

The 987 wounded government troops are being treated at the Juba military hospital, South Sudan.

By Day Blakely Donaldson

Sources:

Land and Sea Journal
Eye Radio
Eye Radio
Guardian LV

South Sudan: 25 000-Strong White Army Marches as UN’s 6000 Troops Begin to Arrive

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The White Army, 25 000 strong, is moving toward Juba, the capital of South Sudan, as the first of the UN’s 6000 troops arrive.

The army is a tribal militia local to the Lou Nuer sub-clan. Former Vice President Riek Machar is also Lou Nuer.

Information Minister Michael Makuel Lueth stated that Machal had organized the White Army in the name of his tribe. Opposition leader Machar is Nuer and President Kiir is Dinka.

Juba was the initial site of the rebel outburst of violence when on December 15 President Kiir accused his former Vice President Riek Machar of attempting a foiled coup. Forces loyal to Machar began violence against Kiir, according to the government. Machar’s forces charge that the violence began when Kiir’s guards tried to disarm Machar’s guards.  Machar and his party have since called for the end of Kiir’s presidency.

Since that time, in Juba a door-to-door search was conducted and hundreds were arrested from houses and hotels.

Friday, the governments of South Sudan and other East African nations announced that they were ready for “a ceasefire to begin immediately.” IGAD, the 8-country regional trading bloc in East Africa, demanded that negotiations begin before the year’s end.

The South Sudanese government also promised to release eight political prisoners that were arrested since the fighting began. Two of the eight were released already. Machar had demanded the release of 11 political prisoners as a precondition for negotiations. At this point, the government was unwilling to release the former Finance Minster, former Cabinet Affairs Minister, or former Secretary General.

Machar responded to the announcements of the Kiir government in a BBC satellite-phone interview stating that any negotiation would have to be participated in by both sides of the conflict, not just the South Sudanese government and neighbor nations.

Machar said in the interview that a mechanism to monitor any ceasefire would also be necessary: ”For the ceasefire to be credible there is need for a mechanism, or else we will be deceiving ourselves,” said Machar.

The South Sudanese government complained that Machar was putting obstacles in front of a genuine call for peace and that the “main issue now is to stop violence.”

The UN estimates that around 1000 have died in the two weeks of fighting. 63 000 are seeking refuge in UN compounds around South Sudan. 120 000 have been displaced.

UN reinforcements also arrived Friday. This 72-member contingent of UN police is the first to arrive since the UNSC voted last week to double its peacekeeping force in concerns that South Sudan may slide into civil war. 6000 more troops are expected to arrive Saturday.

Bor, in addition to Juba, is also believed to be a target of the rebel forces. Jonglei’s provincial capital was taken by the rebels December 18. The army defeated the rebels there without much resistance December 24. Philip Aguer, army spokesperson, stated his belief that the rebels are preparing their forces for a fresh offensive to retake Bor.

The White Army in 2011 announced that the Nuer would fight until their rival tribe were completely eradicated and that the government should stay out of their way.  The White Army was formed as early as 1991 to protect Nuer cattle and to fight as a minor participant in the Second Sudanese Civil War.

The bulk of the UN’s 6000 troops is expected to arrive Saturday, as the 25 000-strong White Army march toward the capital of South Sudan.

By Day Blakely Donaldson

Sources:

Land and Sea Journal
USA Today
Press TV
Antara News

Court on NSA Surveillance: 10 days, Two Judges, Two States, Two Rulings

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Two opposite court judgements have been handed down regarding the NSA surveillance program in 10 days by two US district judges in two states.

On December 27, US District Judge William Pauley in New York ruled in ACLU v. James R. Clapper that the NSA’s metadata program is lawful under Section 215 of the Patriot Act. The ACLU sought a preliminary injunction against the Government’s program, but this was denied.

On December 16, US District Judge Richard L. Leon in DC ruled in Klayman v. Obama that the NSA program was “likely unconstitutional.” Leon found against the NSA’s metadata program and granted a preliminary injunction, but stayed the ruling to allow for appeals.

James R. Clapper was filed June 11 by the American Civil Liberties Union against the director of National Intelligence, James Clapper. Days earlier, Edward Snowden’s leaks were published by Britain’s Guardian newspaper, revealing the NSA’s telephone data collection program, which records in dragnet the numbers and duration of calls Americans dial, but not the content of those calls.

Pauley cited several reasons for his decision.

Pauly framed the NSA program within a group of counter-measures the government had effected in order to combat the threat posed by a new enemy: terror networks. The September 11 terrorist attacks, Pauly reasoned, might have been prevented if the metadata program had been in place at that time.

Pauly stated that the “blunt tool”–the metadata program–works only because it collects everything.

Pauly found that, putting aside the public and government discussion and litigation taking place in the wake of the unauthorized disclosures of Edward Snowden, the question Pauly was tasked to deal with in James R. Clapper was specifically whether the bulk telephony program is lawful. Pauly found that it was lawful, but noted explicitly that “the question of whether that program should be conducted is for the other two coordinate branches of Government to decide,” referring to the legislative and executive branches of government.

Pauly concluded by quoting Justice Jackson: “the Bill of Rights is not a suicide-pact,” observing that the Forth Amendment right against search and seizure is “fundamental, but not absolute.” Pauly framed the question of government surveillance in terms of reasonableness. Pauly cited the voluntary giving of information more personal than telephony metadata by most Americans to various trans-national corporations. There was no evidence that the government had used any of its collected data for any purpose other than investigating terrorist attacks – violations, Pauly said, stemmed from human error and the complex nature of the information tool – and that the metadata program was subject to responsible oversight and monitoring. Pauly reiterated his concern over the “cost of missing such a [useful piece of information against a terrorist plan]” that could be horrific, referring to the 9/11 attacks.

Pauley dismissed the ACLU’s complaint and denied the ACLU’s motion for injunction.

The ACLU commented after Pauley’s decision, complaining that the decision misinterpreted relevant statutes and understated the privacy implications of the NSA program. The ACLU also complained that Pauley’s ruling relied on and misapplied the precedent of Smith v. Maryland (1979), which is the precedent referred to in cases where third-party disclosures are at issue.

Smith v. Maryland continued a tradition in U.S. law that “a person has no legitimate expectation of privacy in information he voluntarily turns over to third parties.” In Smith, the Supreme Court found that no warrant is required to obtain information from phone companies for metadata those companies hold as business records. FISA has also upheld this ruling in secret, one-sided courts conducted since 2006.

Klayman v. Obama, ruled on by Judge Leon on December 16, had an opposite result. Leon called the NSA program “almost Orwellian” and said that the program probably violated the Fourth Amendment. Leon observed that James Madison would be “aghast” at the program.

Leon stated that the government had not shown any case where the program actually stopped an immanent terrorist attack. This function is the primary rationale for the program that Leon found to probably infringe on Americans’ constitutional rights.

Leon noted Smith v. Maryland, but found that the meaning of telephone use had changed substantially since the 1979 case–beyond what could even be conceived at that date–and so should not be relied on in the trial.

Leon warned the government that he was providing six months for the government to prepare for eventual defeat if the appeals Leon expected the government to make did not succeed.

Klayman was brought by a conservative lawyer, Larry Klayman and the father of a soldier killed in 2011 in Afghanistan, Charles Strange.

Law Professor at George Washington University, Orin Kerr, commented on the two rulings, calling them “dream rulings” for each interested party respectively, “Point and counterpoint” of the issue. Kerr explained that both opinions were material for the appeals courts to take up.

President Obama has voiced his intention to state publicly in January what reforms to the NSA program he supports. Obama’s personally appointed review panel recommended last week that the NSA should conduct significant reforms and no longer store the metadata in question.

From here, the losing parties of the two trials on NSA surveillance will proceed to appeals courts; the ACLU said that it intended to appeal James R. Clapper and the government is expected to appeal Klayman in the upcoming months.

By Day Blakely Donaldson

Sources

New York Times
Guardian LV
Memorandum Opinion of Judge Pauly
Memorandum Opinion of Judge Leon

South Sudan: Rebels Hold out in Malakal, Seize Oil Wells

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Malakal, South Sudan – In the capital of the Upper Nile State, fighting continued for the third day as the rebel forces held out against the government army; rebels have also seized oil wells in the region.

Oil production in the Upper Nile State has been shut down due to this weeks fighting. Oil output is down a fifth to 200 000 barrels per day. The rebels-held oil wells are a concern to the government and oil companies, who fear the rebels may damage the facilities.

South Sudan’s army spokesman Philip Aguer stated again that the rebels, who control half of Malakal, will be defeated soon.

South Sudan’s President Kiir met with Uhura Kenyatta and Hailemariam Desalegn, Kenya’s President and Ethiopia’s Prime Minister. This meeting was set in Juba and lasted three hours. It is not known whether Riek Machar, the former Vice President of South Sudan, was involved in the talks. The current whereabouts of Machar are unknown.

The two opposing leaders have stated that their disagreement is political, and leaders from neighboring countries have spoken out against foreign press who might be creating the impression that the conflict is inter-ethnic.  However, both Dinka and Nuer people are in fear of tribal (aka ethnic) violence at each others hands during the political conflict, according to the personal testimony of many of those affected on the ground.

Civil strife began in Juba on December 15 after President Kiir accused former Vice President Machar of attempting to stage a coup and Machar accuesd Kiir of attempting to purge his rivals.  South Sudanese loyal to Machar began violence against the government in several cities.  The rebels were forced out of Juba and Bor but have been able to hold half of Malakar; the government holds the other half.

Currently, 58 000 civilians are seeking refuge in UN compounds, according to UN spokespersons. 93 000 people have been displaced by the nearly two weeks of fighting.

The UN is awaiting military and personnel reinforcements. UN officials are working to finalize the details of the reinforcements that were voted on Tuesday. The vote was to increase the peacekeeping force to 12 500 soldiers and 1300 police officers. This is a doubling of the current UN force in the country.

UN officials commented on their concern about recreating “nightmares of the past” in African peacekeeping and their surprise at the rapidity and scale at which the deterioration of order in South Sudan has occurred.

UN top official in South Sudan Hilde Johnson, whose task it is to oversee the protection of civilians in the UN camps said, “All peacekeepers are under instruction to use force when civilians are under imminent threat.”

The first UN reinforcements are expected in two days.

China has announced that it will spend a special envoy to South Sudan. China has a significant stake in oil production in South Sudan.

Australia has offered two large military transport aircraft, a Globemaster and a Hercules, to assist with the in- and outflow from South Sudan. Australia is awaiting UN instructions before sending the aircraft.

Nairobi will be the location of the next international meeting between South Sudan and its neighbors. This meeting is scheduled for Friday.  The goal of these talks will be to end the rebel hold out in South Sudan.

Written by Day Blakely Donaldson

Sources:

Land and Sea Journal
Reuters
ABC

South Sudan: Fighting Continues in Malakal After Bor Recaptured

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Malakal in the Upper Nile State of Sudan is the site of the most recent fighting, continuing the now-10-day struggle for power between the Kiir government and the Machar-led rebels. Malakal is the capital of the Upper Nile State, an oil region.

On December 24 the South Sudan army defeated the rebels without much resistance in Bor, which had been under siege for a week after the rebels took it late Wednesday. The violence in Bor prompted 17 000 civilians to flee to UN compounds. Information Minister Michael Makwei said, “We recaptured Bor on Tuesday evening, just before sunset, and this morning there are currently operations against some pockets of rebels within the airport area,” also announcing that the remaining rebels were on the run.

The Sudanese government has stated that Malakal has not fallen to the rebels, but fighting continues. Much of Jonglei state is still held by the rebels.

The unrest began 10 days ago on December 15 and quickly spread from Juba. The country was divided between Nuer and Dinka ethnicities.

Fighting began Tuesday between rebels and government loyalists after President Kiir accused his former Vice President Riek Machar of attempting a coup. Machar countered that Kiir was on a campaign to purge his rivals. Machar vowed to oust Kiir and called on the army to carry out this purpose. A powerful army commander mutinied last week, joined Machar, and seized Bentiu.

A mass grave was reported to have been discovered in Bentiu. On Tuesday UN officials stated that the remains of up to 75 Dinka soldiers (Sudan People’s Liberation Army). Bentiu is the capital of the rebel-held Unity State. Two other mass graves were found in Juba. UN officers have not been able to visit the two Juba grave-sites, in Jebel-Kujur and Newside, near Eden. These killings followed ethnic violence. (The reports of the mass grave in Bentiu is currently under review after being denied by the UN mission in South Sudan. The report was initially issued by the office of the UN Commissioner for Human Rights, and was later revised to 34 bodies and 75 missing persons.)

UN Human Rights High Commissioner Navi Pillay stated, “Mass extrajudicial killings, the targeting of individuals on the basis of their ethnicity and arbitrary detentions have been documented in recent days.”

Pillay also talked about the hundreds of civilians were who arrested from houses and hotels in Juba during a house-to-house search.

The same Tuesday a resolution was passed by the UN Security Council to send an additional 5500 peacekeepers to South Sudan. The force will likely be assembled from peacekeepers currently stationed in other African countries. The UN also intends to boost contributions.

Currently, 40 000 Sudanese are sheltered in UN bases. Civilians of both tribes fear being killed by ethnic enemies. Relief organizations are struggling to handle thousands who are caught in the fighting or have fled from violence in the capital. 80 000 Sudanese have been forced to leave their homes.

Responding to allegations of “death squads” carrying out ethnicity-targeted massacres, South Sudan foreign minister, Barnaba Benjamin, replied, “This is not an ethnic war frankly speaking…. It is true that this is a struggle for power, a political struggle.” Benjamin admitted that there were isolated cases of genocidal killing, but asserted that this was not the main theme of the conflict, and reminded observers that the army was mixed-race.

U.S. Marines have been moved to Djibouti in preparation for the evacuation of Americans and to protect U.S. facilities.

December 15, President Kiir accused former Vice President Machar of attempting a coup in Juba, which attempt Machar denied. Kiir is Dinka and Machar is Nuer. Both leaders have indicated their willingness to talk peace.

President Kiir announced, “Innocent people have been wantonly killed. People are targeting others because of their tribal affiliation. This is unacceptable…. These atrocities recurring by now have to cease immediately.”

Machar announced December 24: “Yes we are ready for talks. I have formed my delegation.” This delegation would likely attend talks in Ethiopia, with whose government Machar had been in communication. Ethiopia was decided on as a site of “neutral ground.” Machar himself would not go to Ethiopia, he said.

However, Machar announced that he was willing to negotiate only on condition that detained political prisoners were freed by the government. Kiir rejected this condition.

A spokesman from the army stated that within a few days the army would attack Bentiu.

Americans and UN officials members of every level have called for peace. Commentators have started to voice concern over the compatibility of the Sudanese situation with the Central African Republic and other African nations which slid into genocide and lawlessness. For now, fighting continues in Malakal after Bor was recaptured yesterday.

By Day Blakely Donaldson

Sources:
Voice of America
ABC Reuters
New York Times
Google ABC
Reuters

Fortune Teller Sued for $1 Million

Fortune Teller
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Lawyer Michael Busby is seeking $1 million in damages from a Houston fortune teller after a ritual to reunify Busby with his wife went awry. The Houston lawyer filed the lawsuit December 16 against several defendants allegedly associated with the Houston psychic services business, Psychic Love Spell Center.

Busby, a certified attorney since 2002 and currently a bankruptcy and family law practitioner at Busby & Associates, is suing Melena Thorn, the fortune teller. Busby allegedly states that fortune teller, Thorn did not return $2,700 Busby gave her in order to be ritually reunited with his wife.

The $2,700, Busby says, was to be cleansed by the psychic and then returned and placed under the marital bed. Busby alleges that he “filed suit not because the ritual failed, but because the contract was not honored and the woman lied about services being sold.”

Busby first paid $30 for a tarot reading, after which the psychic advised the husband-wife reunification ritual. Busby paid for the tarot reading he said, to “give [him] an edge.” The fee for the ritual was $500, which Busby paid by gift card.

Busby is seeking a class action suit, alleging that over 100 people have been defrauded by Psychic Love Spell Center.

Thom has responded that she never received the $2700 from Busby, and that the $500, which was used for candles and other materials involved in the ritual, would be refunded when she could get the money together.

Busby has published the work up of the case, in which he notes that “The defendants are a family of Roma…. The family have strong gypsy roots…. I believe that all the names used are not birth names, nor has there ever been a court order granting name changes for any of the defendants….” Busby also notes that he has not found any listed corporate entity for the defendants, no “doing business as filings,” and no records of sales tax paid to the state.

Busby filed his original petition December 16, in which he seeks “monetary relief over $1 million” and a permanent injunction against the named defendant from fortune telling within the state of Texas. Busby is also seeking a “permanent injunction prohibiting the defendants from practicing or advertising Psychic abilities within the state of Texas.” On December 20 subpoenas were issued to the Houston Better Business Bureau and the Bellaire Police department.

Busby is reaching out to prospective co-plaintiffs: “Texas and Houston residents, I have stuck my chin out there and they are taking swings at me. If you need help with this family, now is the time to come forward.”

Commenting lawyers have noted that the proceeding may not succeed as a class action suit. There is not sufficient commonality (under rule 23(b)(3) for class actions that require that “questions of law or fact common to class members predominate” over individual concerns and make the class action a better method than individual adjudication. The prospective co-plaintiffs will be hard to find because of the high level of potential embarrassment and the low potential of recovery. Busby has addressed this issue, “If you do not want to go public about your dealings with the family, I understand. You are welcome to discuss concerns with me privately should you be undecided.”

Lawyers have also commented about the practice of tarot readings to “get an edge” in legal proceedings. Some argue that it is a breach of attorney ethics, others disagree because oracles are available to both sides.

Busby expects to see class action certification before February 2014. Fraud, violation of Texas consumer law and breach of contract are among the causes of action in the lawyer’s lawsuit for $1 million against the fortune teller.

By Day Blakely Donaldson

Sources:

Busby Law
Busby Law
ABA Journal

South Korea Claims Airspace Overlapping Japanese and Chinese Claims

South Korea Claims Airspace Overlapping Japanese and Chinese Claims
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Dec 8. South Korea has announced the extension of its air defense zone (to take effect Dec. 15).  The new zone overlaps the zones claimed by Japan and China.

In the East China Sea a dispute arose Nov. 23 when China announced new borders for its air defense zone, and warned that all aircraft entering this space must notify the Chinese authorities in advance, and that China’s air force would be on high alert to firmly protect its airspace.

This warning was directed particularly at Japan, who has held an air zone which is overlapped by China’s recent claim.  This zone was decided by the victors of WWII, and is protected by America through the Japanese-American Treaty of Mutual Protection.  The new Chinese zone also claims a submerged rock and research station belonging to South Korea.

The Senkaku Islands were annexed by Japan in 1895, before which no country had pronounced any claim over them.  America occupied them for a period after the 1945 Japanese surrender.  The islands have been used for ecological surveys and US military bombing sites since the 1940’s, when the last residents stopped fishing there.  The islands were privately owned by Japanese entrepreneurs since 1900 and rented by the Japanese government until 2012 when the Japanese government bought the islands.

Taiwan and China have claimed the islands since 1971.  China and Taiwan claim ownership from 1534 and claim that the islands, though signed over to Japan in the first Sino-Japanese war, should return to China because after WWII Japan released certain of its territories.  Japan rejects both claims.

No details specific to these islands are contained in the treaties wherein Japan gained or ceded control of her empire.  What is stated in both the 1895 and the 1951 treaties is that Japan gains and then relinquishes Formosa and “all islands appertaining to or belong to Formosa.”

America administered the area from WWII to 1972, when it returned ownership to Japan.  The US does not have an official position on the competing claims.  However, the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security between the US and Japan binds America to protect these islands (confirmed by US government officials 2004, 2010, and 2012, when the US senate amended the National Defense act for 2013 to specifically cover the Senkakus as protected Japanese territory).  The US government has also mentioned the Senkakus specifically since the discovery of nearby oil reserves in 1969 and since the Taiwanese and Chinese contentions in 1971.  Before that time, the Senkakus were not mentioned; only the Ryukyu island chain was mentioned as Japanese territory.

Recent years have seen protests and clashes between Chinese and Japanese boats and in some cases air craft.

Nov. 23 after announcing their claim, China sent an air force mission to patrol the area.  Japanese commercial flights were ordered to disregard the Chinese warnings.  Nov. 26 America, who declared the airspace international, flew two unarmed B-52s through it.  The US military stated that they would continue to do so and without identifying themselves.  South Korea and Japan have also sent military aircraft to the area.  Commercial airlines have been using the area uninterruptedly since China’s warnings.  America, Japan, and South Korea have protested China’s statement claiming new airspace.

South Korea possesses the submerged rock called Ieodo, upon which rests a South Korean research station.  The rock is also claimed by China.  The South Korean air defense zone was established by the US during the Korean War.  The US, Japan and China have agreed that the expansion of the South Korean air zone is in line with international law.

Many commentators note the importance of the islands as oil and gas reserves.  In 2009 the US sanctioned Iranian oil and gas.  Japan had been importing oil from Iran until then (so had China, which bypassed US sanctions).  Some commentators point to the economic gains that come from military expansion as a motivation for increasing tensions in the area.

By Day Blakely Donaldson