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Good Reads: Karzai's loya jirga, Occupy Wall Street protests, and Putin's peace prize

At a traditional loya jirga meeting of elders, Afghan President Hamid Karzai makes the case for continued partnership with US, while a New York judge orders city officials to shut down Occupy Wall Street's tent city.

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And while the Afghan president gathers old men to endorse his policies, a US judge in New York has told a group of young Occupy Wall Street protesters in New York City’s Zuccotti Park to disburse – sort of. The judge told the protesters that their constitutionally protected right to “assemble” does not include the right to set up tents, camp stoves, and drum circles.

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As Ron Scherer writes in the Monitor, New York State Judge Michael Stallman ruled that protesters “have not demonstrated they have a First Amendment right to remain in Zuccotti Park, along with their tents, structures, generators, and other installations to the exclusion of the owners’ reasonable rights and duties to maintain Zuccotti Park, or to the rights to public access of others who might wish to use the space safely.”

City officials say the battle for Zuccotti Park is "far from over,” but one wonders whether the potency of this protest – the literal taking and holding of territory that mimics the Tahrir Square demonstrations that brought down Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak – will be diminished by this court decision. Certainly the public anger over America’s current economic crisis, and the US financial sector's role in that crisis, are undiminished.

A time for peace prizes?

And finally, in the category of peace prizes awarded to men of war, Jonathan Watts – the Guardian’s man in Beijing – writes today that the China International Peace Research Center has named Vladimir Putin as this year's winner of the Confucian peace prize. The prize was created to laud those who "promote world peace from an eastern perspective."

As Mr. Watts notes, Mr. Putin is a curious candidate, given his role in “two wars in Chechnya, one conflict in South Ossetia, and two of the deadliest hostage relief operations in modern history.”

He adds, tartly:

The 16-judge panel said that Putin deserved the award because his criticism of Nato's military engagement in Libya was "outstanding in keeping world peace", regardless of the fact that it had no bearing on the outcome of the north African conflict.

Typical journalist, quibbling over "facts."

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