Saturday, November 15, 2008

VIDEO: Pennyland - Echoes of the Great Depression

Global Research, November 15, 2008

"A poignant movie by Frank Thomas inspired by "Pennyland" a song written by his brother, Eddie Thomas featuring Depression Era photographs from the Library of Congress and audio excerpts from Franklin D. Roosevelt's 1933 inaugural address. "

Abbas to meet Olmert despite IOF escalation in Gaza

(Cartoon by Ben Heine)

"RAMALLAH, (PIC)-- PA chief Mahmoud Abbas is to meet with Israeli premier Ehud Olmert in occupied Jerusalem on Monday to discuss the American-backed settlement process, Saeb Uraikat, who is in charge with the PLO's negotiation, said on Saturday.

He did not elaborate further in his radio statement.

Olmert is currently an acting premier after he resigned his post over corruption scandals on 21/9/2008. He was quoted by Israeli officials as saying that he would continue in the negotiations process until his last day in office. The Israeli general elections are scheduled on 10/2/3009.

The Abbas-Olmert meeting follows a series of military escalation strikes by the Israeli occupation forces on the Gaza Strip that killed a dozen Palestinians over the past week other than tightening the siege on the Strip."


By Mairead Maguire (Nobel Peace Prize Laureate) Date : 11-14-2008
The Free Gaza Movement

(Cartoon by Carlos Latuff)

"......Our reception by the people of Gaza was deeply moving. Their gratitude to The Free Gaza Movement was shown by their great warmth and hospitality. They Were particularly grateful that Dr. Barghouti had come from West Bank, and that Gideon Spiro an Israeli from Tel Aviv, had arrived with the boat. (On his Way home through the Erez crossing he was arrested by Israeli Authorities, held overnight and charged with illegally entering Gaza). The following 4 days was filled with events ranging from pure joy (like the Concert with the children singing and one of our group an Italian Opera singer holding everyone in awe by the magic of his voice) to events of deep sadness such As our visit to Shifa hospital. Here the doctors explained they have shortage of basic Medicines, no parts for machines as they are blocked by Israel, and we met Patients dying from cancer and preventable diseases, if only the medicines And equipment were available. A half built new hospital stands slowing Disintegrating, as cement and wood and basic materials are not allowed Into the Gaza strip for over 16 months now and everything is slowing Falling apart........"

Video: Leaden sunset (postcards from Israel)

The Free Gaza Movement

"Leaden sunsetslethal postcardssent from Israel to the fishermen in Gaza.
Stamped by zionism, they brand the guardians of human rights with stamps of antisemitism.
The postman in these waters is armour-plated and covered in hatred,the mailboxes look more like floating coffins.

I've never seen sunsets as crimson as those offshore from the Gaza coast.
***We accompany the Palestinian fishermen offshore almost every day.We’re attacked by Israeli war ships every time, taking pot-shots at us with their whole arsenal. Lately they’ve started firing chemical-biological weapons at us.All this to prevent poor, but dignified people from providing themselves with something to feed their families.

The “civilised world’s” silence is more deafening than the shots you hear in the short film.

Vittorio Arrigonicontact in Gaza : guerrillaingaza(at)
Source: Vittorio Arrigoni"

Buzzwords, Politics and US Elections

By Ramzy Baroud
Palestine Chronicle

"......In fact, Obama’s picks for his future administration seem, thus far, consistent with the choices he made for his campaign advisors. Early news reports already speak about an Obama team consisting of Washington’s ‘experts” and “old guard.” An early ominous sign greeted hopeful Obama supporters just hours after he was declared a winner, when he chose Rahm Israel Emaneul as his White House Chief of Staff. Not only is Emaneul the opposite depiction of unity, hope and change, but one must also question his true commitment to the United States. “His volunteer service in Israel during the 1990s Gulf War is no fiction, with the Jewish press hailing Emanuel's ascension as a sign that Israel will have its own man in the Obama White House,” wrote Elana Schore in the British Guardian on November 6. In fact, theories are already rife regarding the relationship between Obama’s choices and the support he received from the pro-Israeli lobby in Washington during the campaign, despite his ‘irksome’ middle name and his unsettling ‘ties’ to world-renowned Palestinian intellectuals Edward Said and Rashid Khalidi.

It needs to be said, if Obama’s rise to power provides any positive indications at all, it is that the popular mood has been fundamentally altered in its perceptions regarding race and gender in politics. But the elections tell more about the American voters, than those for whom they voted. The fact that Obama is half African-American or that Biden supposedly grew up in harsh circumstances – or that Palin is a woman and McCain’s airplane was shot down – should be of no essence at all insofar as their policies, decisions and leaderships are concerned. That would be determined by time and experience, although the early signs are hardly promising. "

Current Al-Jazeera (Arabic) Online Poll

The question is:

Do you support the plans of the Egyptian government to privatize the public sector and to give its shares to the citizens?

With about 4,000 responding, 63% said no.

توظيف ذوي السوابق الجنائية من فيتنام الى العراق

توظيف ذوي السوابق الجنائية من فيتنام الى العراق

مقاله رائعه
هيفاء زنكنة

اذ قام احد جنود الدورية الامريكية، المتوقفة عند نقطة تفتيش عراقية في منطقة الزنجيلي، وسط مدينة الموصل، باصدار الاوامر الى برزان بطريقة مهينة وعندما احتج برزان شتمه الجندي الامريكي وبصق عليه ثم ضربه امام الآخرين، فما كان من برزان غير ان يجيبه برشه والآخرين بنيران رشاشه، مما ادى الى قتل اثنين من جنود الاحتلال وجرح ستة آخرين قبل استشهاده.
ومن المتوقع ان تزداد شراسة وعنجهية جنود الاحتلال كلما شعروا بانهم محاصرون من جميع الجهات بالكراهية والرغبة المتزايدة والملحة برحيلهم السريع. وفي حالات اطلاق النار المتبادل ما بين جنود الاحتلال والجنود العراقيين، تذكير مهم خاصة للطرف العراقي بان جنود الاحتلال، عموما، ينظرون باحتقار الى المتعاونين معهم من العراقيين سياسيين كانوا أو من اجهزة الشرطة والحرس والجيش، خاصة من يقوم بتنفيذ العمليات العسكرية الهجومية وعمليات المداهمة للبيوت، كما تختلط مشاعرهم تجاههم بالخوف وعدم الأمان حتى ولو كانوا من أكثر المتعاونين طاعة لهم.
ولعل افضل من يوضح مشاعر عدم الثقة والاحساس بقلة الامان هم جنود العدو نفسه، اذ كتب احد جنود المارينز المتقاعدين، في موقعه الالكتروني، عن حادث قتل الجنود الامريكيين في الزنجيلي، قائلا: 'هذه مسألة شائكة حقا. لقد عملت في فيتنام مع العديد من اهل البلد الذين تعاونوا معنا ضمن القوات الخاصة.
بشكل عام، لقد اوليتهم ثقتي من ناحية وان كنت من ناحية اخرى اشعر بالخوف دائما، خاصة اثناء عملي مع كشافة كت كارسون، أي العدو السابق الذي انتقل للعمل معنا، كما كنت اخاف حتى من جنود فيتنام الجنوبية المفترض انهم بجانبنا. كنا نعلم بان في صفوفهم جواسيس وارهابيين. انه موقف صعب جدا. أصلي للعوائل التي فقدت ابناءها في هجوم الزنجيلي الجبان'.
وكشافة كت كارسون التي يتحدث عنها جندي المارينز هم الفرقة الامريكية الخاصة المكونة من مقاتلي المقاومة الفيتنامية (الفيتكونغ) واطلق عليهم باللغة الفيتنامية اسم
(الاعضاء العائدين) أو (الصحوة) في حالة العراق، أي الذين تخلوا عن المقاومة وتعاونوا مع قوات الاحتلال على مستويات مختلفة من بينها تزويد العدو بالمعلومات والاخباريات والرصد والقاء القبض على افراد المقاومة واشاعة الصورة الايجابية عن القوات الامريكية بالمقارنة مع البقية. وقد اطلق الاسم، لاول مرة، على احد افراد قبيلة للهنود الحمر الذي عمل مع الجيش الامريكي كمرشد لتسهيل وصولهم الى مناطق القبائل المقاتلة وساعد في حملة الابادة الشاملة التي استهدفت اهل البلد الاصليين عند وصول المستوطنين البيض الى اراضي أمريكا الحالية. ويعتبر ذلك اول عمليات (مكافحة التمرد). واستخدم الجيش الامريكي الاسم والاسلوب ثانية في فيتنام وها هو يستخدمه في العراق لتقسيم اهل البلد وبضمنها ما يسمى بقوات الصحوة ضد المقاومة العراقية المستهدفة لقواته.
واذا كانت قوات الصحوة العراقية التي قرر بعض افرادها من ابناء المقاومة سابقا، التحول الى مرتزقة برواتب وعقود تجدد مرة كل ستة شهور، تواجه حملة اغتيالات واعتقالات لم تضعها في اعتبارها عندما ربطت مصيرها بوجود العدو الزائل، فلعلها ستحذو حذو الجندي برزان عبد الله في عمليته التي اعادت اليه الاعتبار بين اهله وابناء بلده. وتدل دروس التاريخ المستخلصة من حروب التحرير الوطنية ان تكتيك خدمة العدو فاشل لا محالة ودرس التحاق بعض مقاتلي الفيتكونغ بقوات عدوهم وفرقته الخاصة المسماة كشافة كت كارسون لا زال ماثلا في الاذهان.
ففي مقالة نشرتها صحيفة 'التايم' الامريكية بتاريخ 23 آب/اغسطس 1968 بعض التفاصيل المهمة عما اسميه بقوات الصحوة الفيتنامية. اذ قامت قوات المارينز المحتلة لفيتنام الجنوبية بتشكيل فرق الصحوة من مقاتلي الفيتكونغ الذين تخلوا عن المقاومة لإضعافها وتمزيق صفوفها واشاعة اليأس بين ابناء الشعب ولتقليل خسائرها المتزايدة. وكان انضمام المقاتلين السابقين يتم وسط ضجة اعلامية كبيرة وبعد دقائق من وصولهم توفر لهم الخدمات الطبية ووجبات الطعام والمكافأة المالية. خلال اربع سنوات انضم الى الفرق 83 ألفا من الفيتكونغ. أي ما يعادل 33 فرقة قتالية. كما قامت القوات الامريكية بمنح مكافاة لكل قطعة سلاح يقوم بتسليمها المقاتل الفيتنامي. وتختلف قيمة المكافاة حسب نوع قطعة السلاح.
وقد استلم احد مقاتلي الفيتكونغ مبلغ 16 ألف دولار عندما أخبر عن مستودع سري للسلاح. ولا يطلب من الفيتكونغ المشاركة بالمهمات القتالية فحسب بل يعمل أيضا في المجال الدعائي مؤكدا لابناء الشعب تحسن احواله لتخليه عن المقاومة وتعاونه مع القوات الامريكية. وقد تم تعيين عدد من النخبة في مناصب حكومية.
الا ان التعامل لم يكن وديا مع الجميع واقتصر تعيين العملاء في مناصب محددة لاسباب امنية ولانعدام الثقة بهم فضلا عن الشعور الامريكي بالاستعلاء العنصري تجاههم. وقد وصف احد الكشافة تعيينهم بانه 'يشبه توظيف ذوي السوابق الجنائية'.
وكانت كراهية اهل فيتنام الجنوبية واضحة ايضا ضدهم نتيجة سنوات الحرب الطويلة. وقد بدأ التناقص في اعدادهم وبشكل كبير متزامنا مع احساس الجميع بحتمية الخسارة الامريكية واقتراب رحيل قوات الاحتلال. وهو يشبه الى حد كبير التخلي الامريكي التدريجي عن قوات الصحوة وتركها رهينة حكومة الميليشيات من جهة وكراهية الناس من جهة ثانية.
وعن المنظور الامريكي للتحالف مع العراقيين، وان كانوا من المتعاونين معهم، يقول الكاتب جورج ميلنغير، وهو جندي سابق حارب في فيتنام: 'تشير الدلائل باننا سنخوض حربا ضد ايران في المستقبل القريب. مما يجعلنا بحاجة ماسة الى التعاون مع دولة الامارات مثلا. ان الكثيرين من ابناء جيلي يتذكرون مصطلح كشافة كت كارسون. واذا ما خانتكم الذاكرة دعوني اذكركم. انهم الاعداء السابقون ولم تأت الثقة بهم بشكل تلقائي الا اننا كنا بحاجة ماسة لمساعدتهم لذلك عملنا معهم، او على الاقل تظاهرنا بذلك. وان كنا بشكل عام لا نثق اطلاقا باي فيتنامي. أما اليوم، فان الكثيرين منا يشعرون بان الثقة بالعرب والمسلمين ليست مسالة طبيعية ولكننا في وضع معين يتطلب منا ان نثق بهم او نتظاهر باننا نثق بهم لاننا بحاجة ماسة الى مساعدتهم لمحاربة الآخرين منهم ممن نعلم باننا لا نستطيع ان نثق بهم. هل تفهمون ما اعنيه؟'.
أن منظور قوات الإحتلال وعنصريته، والتقاليد العسكرية الأمريكية منذ كشافة كت كارسون، لم تتغير منذ إستيطان الولايات المتحدة، وقد نجحت مع الهنود الأمريكيين، غير انها لم تنجح الا جزئيا في تغطية الخروج التدريجي للقوات الأمريكية من فيتنام في السنوات التي سبقت خروجهم المذل بطائرات الهليكوبتر من على سطح السفارة الأمريكية في سايغون
. "

Yes We Con!

Hope and change

"'Change is happening in America. It is happening because many Americans are sick and tired of the policies their administration has pursued for the last eight years. It is happening because Americans are fed up with the arrogance of power, neoconservative obsessions, military invasions and the unfair distribution of wealth'

The former, yes; the latter, well don't hold your breath

By Azmi Bishara
Al-Ahram Weekly

....Obama is the product of two major changes. His election is a change, or an expression of change. It is a historical change and it will fire the imagination of many around the world who are discontent with their current reality. But will he, personally, change anything? Does he have anything to offer but himself? It is too early to say. So far we have not seen any sign of the change he has promised, apart, perhaps, from the ingenuity with which he ran his campaign and bested Hillary Clinton. As for his policies, he has promised to change Bush's policy but not American policy up to Bush. The fact that he was elected is a good sign: he, personally, is not a good sign yet."

Valedictory hot air

Rice's last and final visit to Israel/Palestine is conclusive proof that the neocons achieved nothing and could offer nothing

By Khaled Amayreh in Ramallah
Al-Ahram Weekly

(Cartoon by Carlos Latuff)

".......Commenting on the "failure of the sides" to reach a breakthrough, despite high-level international involvement and several high-profile peace conferences in the US and Europe as well as the Middle East, Rice claimed that Israel and the PA were now "closer to reaching peace than ever before". Some of Rice's Palestinian hosts and interlocutors couldn't hide their frustration. One official close to chief Palestinian negotiator Ahmed Qurei remarked: "This woman is just giving out another dose of lies."

"She may think that we believe her lies; otherwise, what makes her utter the same lies every time she comes here?" the man added. The Palestinian official was not merely voicing his own opinion, but reflecting widespread disillusionment with Rice's fruitless visits and unfulfilled promises.

......Giving Rice the benefit of the doubt, as usual, Abbas said he would continue to honour "our commitments under the roadmap".

The PA has been unilaterally honouring the Quartet-backed roadmap by arresting and persecuting Hamas supporters, closing Hamas-affiliated institutions and establishing an unprecedented close cooperation -- even collusion -- between the Israeli occupation army and PA security forces against the "common enemy", which is Hamas. Far from reciprocating PA measures against Hamas, Israel kept expanding settlements while giving Nazi- like Jewish settlers virtually free rein to terrorise Palestinians and vandalise their property, including the olive harvest.......

...... Rice said she was "especially proud of the situation in the Palestinian territories".

Proud? In 2006, during the Israeli war on Lebanon, Rice reacted to the widespread destruction wreaked on Lebanese population centres, including the dropping by the Israeli air force of 2-3 million cluster bomblets, enough to kill or maim 2-3 million children, by saying that "Israel has the right to defend itself". She described the annihilation and maiming of thousands of Lebanese civilians as representing "the birth pangs of a new Middle East".......

"I have decided to visit Jenin because it is the first Palestinian town in which Fayyad was able to achieve security and economic reforms, with international assistance," she said. Tellingly, Jenin remains one of the most -- if not the most -- impoverished Palestinian towns, mainly due to the restrictive measures of the Israeli occupation.

Fayyad, who was speaking during a joint press conference with Rice at the local hospital in Jenin, described Rice's visit as "historic". He also heaped praise on the Bush administration for helping the Palestinian people, ignoring the scandalous embrace by the Bush government of the most extremist policies of the Israeli government, including settlement expansion, the building of the annexation wall, and the continued Judaisation of East Jerusalem........ "

A Very Interesting Real News Video: Media giant tries to muzzle parody

Mordecai Briemberg on battle with Canadian media major over satire of Middle East coverage

"In early November, Canadian media giant Canwest Mediaworks dropped its lawsuit against Mordecai Briemberg, a lawsuit which alleged that he infringed on Canwest's trademark rights. The case pertained to the creation of a parody of one of Canwest's many papers, the Vancouver Sun. The parody satirized what its creators see as Canwest's biased coverage of the Israel-Palestine conflict; and while there was no evidence that Mordecai had any role in the creation of the paper, Mordecai posits that it was the building of public pressure that caused Canwest to drop the suit, as they had known about the absence of evidence for months. While Mordecai suit was dropped, Canwest has refused to drop its suit against the two others who have taken responsibility for the creation of the parody. Mordecai contends that parody is a cherished tradition of dissent in the society and that Canwest's lawsuits amount to an attack on freedom of speech."

The Last Summit, by Dave Brown, The Independent

(Click on cartoon to enlarge)

Chronic malnutrition in Gaza blamed on Israel

Donald Macintyre reveals the contents of an explosive report by the Red Cross on a humanitarian tragedy

The Independent

"The Israeli blockade of Gaza has led to a steady rise in chronic malnutrition among the 1.5 million people living in the strip, according to a leaked report from the Red Cross.

It chronicles the "devastating" effect of the siege that Israel imposed after Hamas seized control in June 2007 and notes that the dramatic fall in living standards has triggered a shift in diet that will damage the long-term health of those living in Gaza and has led to alarming deficiencies in iron, vitamin A and vitamin D.

The 46-page report from the International Committee of the Red Cross – seen by The Independent – is the most authoritative yet on the impact that Israel's closure of crossings to commercial goods has had on Gazan families and their diets.

The report says the heavy restrictions on all major sectors of Gaza's economy, compounded by a cost of living increase of at least 40 per cent, is causing "progressive deterioration in food security for up to 70 per cent of Gaza's population". That in turn is forcing people to cut household expenditures down to "survival levels".

"Chronic malnutrition is on a steadily rising trend and micronutrient deficiencies are of great concern," it said......

The Red Cross report says that "the embargo has had a devastating effect for a large proportion of households who have had to make major changes on the composition of their food basket." Households were now obtaining 80 per cent of their calories from cereals, sugar and oil. "The actual food basket is considered to be insufficient from a nutritional perspective." The report paints a bleak picture of an increasingly impoverished and indebted lower-income population. People are selling assets, slashing the quality and quantity of meals, cutting back on clothing and children's education, scavenging for discarded materials – and even grass for animal fodder – that they can sell and are depending on dwindling loans and handouts from slightly better-off relatives.

In the urban sector, in which about 106,000 employees lost their jobs after the June 2007 shutdown, about 40 per cent are now classified as "very poor", earning less than 500 shekels (£87) a month to provide for an average household of seven to nine people........"

There is no end to the centuries of savagery in Afghanistan

By Robert Fisk

"......and suggested that those who commit reprehensible acts see themselves as victims, that this then gives them the right to act savagely against their opponents. Certainly, this might apply to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, very definitely to the Serbs of Bosnia – I'm not so sure about Georgia – and quite definitely to the Taliban (not least when we've been bombing more wedding parties)......

There is nothing new in all this. At the Battle of Omdurman – where the British executed all the Arab wounded – the young Winston Churchill wrote of a sight which is familiar today in a land which was then called Mesopotamia and in another which was already called Afghanistan. He described "grisly apparitions", of "horses spouting blood, struggling on three legs, men staggering on foot, men bleeding from terrible wounds, fish-hook spears stuck right through them, arms and faces cut to pieces, bowels protruding, men gasping, crying, collapsing, expiring...". To the men can now – this very week – be added the suicide-bombed schoolgirls of Baghdad.....

Yet it pays to remember that Afghan wars have always been dreadful. Sir Mortimer Durand – he who created the Durand line which masquerades as the Afghan-Pakistani border, crossed with such impunity today by Americans and Taliban warriors in order to kill each other – witnessed the cruelty of the Afghan war at first hand.....

Of course, it did Roberts no harm at all. In the age of "shock and awe" – when a Canadian general can call his Taliban opponents "scumbags" – it still doesn't seem to worry Nato officers. They should know better. Montgomery never cursed Rommel; he kept a photograph of the Afrika Korps commander in his caravan to remind him of the man he was fighting. But then again, didn't Montgomery fight in the age of the Holocaust, of industrial killing, of the Hamburg and Dresden firestorms? Indeed, the very Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949 were supposed to end the mass destruction of human life. And President Bush has torn them up......

....Victimhood sits easily on all our shoulders. If Osama bin Laden had a conscience, it would be quickly eased by the destruction of the last Caliphate, the colonial occupation of the Muslim world, the deaths of millions of Arabs. And if we have a conscience, what do we say? Remember 9/11. And so on we go."

Friday, November 14, 2008

Gaza, by Naser Jafari

Pakistan torn over its tribal areas

By Syed Saleem Shahzad
Asia Times

"As in the Bajaur Agency tribal area, the Pakistani military is fighting a losing battle against militants in the Swat Valley. Militants are also streaming into the provincial capital of Peshawar, where this week they abducted an Iranian envoy. The top brass in Islamabad realize their troops face a long hard winter of attrition if they stay put, but pulling out is equally unpalatable....."

Israeli Defense Official: We Won't Let Iran Go Nuclear


"14/11/2008 Israel will not tolerate a nuclear Iran, Amos Gilad, the head of the Israeli Defense Ministry's Diplomatic-Security Bureau, has stressed to Israeli daily The Jerusalem Post in an unusually hard-hitting interview.

For now, Israel is backing diplomatic and economic efforts to thwart the Iranians, Gilad added, but it doubts these will work and it is keeping all options open......

Beyond that, he said, "I can't go into details... Elaborating directly assists the enemy in its war against Israel. The test will be in the result - whether we are able or not to prevent this grave threat. The more we talk about it - however seductive that may be - the more we brag, the more we weaken our capacity to achieve. We cannot accept a nuclear Iran. We cannot be reconciled to it." "

The Interview in the Jerusalem Post:

Defense Ministry's Amos Gilad: We won't let Iran go nuclear

Surprise, Surprise!

Barak approved settlement expansion despite Road Map

"Defense Minister Ehud Barak has approved dozens of construction projects in the West Bank in recent months, contradicting Israel's commitments to the Road Map, Haaretz has learned. Barak also approved the marketing of hundreds of housing units in settlements.

Some of the permits for construction projects were granted in settlements to the east of the separation fence, which are beyond the areas the state defines as "settlement blocks" and it expects to retain under Israel's control following a permanent agreement with the Palestinians......"

EGYPT: Ruling Party Delivers More Disappointment

Analysis by Adam Morrow and Khaled Moussa al-Omrani

"CAIRO, Nov 13 (IPS) - The ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) of President Hosni Mubarak promised a "new style of thinking" at its fifth annual party congress last week, but critics in the opposition say they saw little of it.

"As was expected, the party conference featured empty words and promises intended for domestic consumption, with very little basis in reality," Essam Al-Arian, a leading member of the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt largest opposition movement, told IPS......"

With Iran, Obama Needs More Carrot, Less Stick

By Scott Ritter

"The American people have spoken, and the next president of the United States will be Barack Obama. Running on a platform of change, the president-elect will be severely tested early in his administration by a host of challenges, be they economic, military, environmental or diplomatic in nature. How Obama handles these issues will define his tenure as America’s chief executive, and there will not—nor should there be—a honeymoon period. The challenges of these times do not permit such a luxury, something the president-elect had to know and comprehend when he chose to run for office. John McCain and Hillary Clinton, Obama’s defeated rivals, were both correct when they noted that the next president would need to be ready to govern on day one. Barack Obama has until the 20th of January to get his policies in order, because at one minute past noon on that day, he becomes the most powerful man in a volatile world. While the problems he will face are many, I will focus on what I believe are the four most critical issues that will need to be addressed in the first weeks and months of the Obama administration: Iran, Iraq, Pakistan and Russia. This will be done in a series of articles, the first of which will deal with Iran......."

Torture – Yes We Can?

Obama and the national security question: the sellout accelerates

By Justin Raimondo

"Most politicians wait at least until they've been sworn in before they start breaking their campaign promises. In this sense, as in so many others, Barack Obama represents an entirely new phenomenon: the politician who preemptively reneges.

A recent Wall Street Journal piece describing the transition process as it relates to intelligence-gathering reveals we aren't going to see much change in this vitally important realm, the one in which the Bush administration truly made its blackest mark. This will "create tension within the Democratic party," we are told, apparently because even the worst party hacks will have a hard time going along with the revised Obama Doctrine on the issue of torture......."

Take The Bastard With You to Crawford and Keep Him There!

Al-Jazeera Video: Inside Story - Gaza humanitarian crisis - Nov 14

Part 1:

Part 2:

"Inside Story questions the 'blame game' being played by the parties while the people of Gaza continue to suffer.

Israel has refused permission for a convoy of trucks containing basic humanitarian supplies to deliver their loads to the Gaza Strip. Initially, the authorities had said they would allow passage for the 30 truckloads of drugs and food.

As the United Nations warns that it is going to run out of food for its aid programmes, all the parties, Hamas, Fatah, Israel and Egypt are blaming one another for the mounting humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip.

Israel has said that as long as rocket fire continues from Gaza into Israel, the border crossings will stay closed. The UN insists that this amounts to collective punishment, which is illegal under international law.

Christopher Gunness, the spokesman for the UN refugee agency UNRWA, said: "This has become a blockade against the UN itself." "

The Real News Video with Pepe Escobar: The lame duck economic summit

Bush brings the G-20 to Washington; but world leaders would rather talk to Obama

"A who's who of world leaders representing the G-20 - the G-8 industrialized economies plus leading developing countries - descend on Washington this Saturday, invited by the Bush administration, to discuss what should, in theory, become the first step towards a Bretton Woods 2 agreement. The problem is these world leaders would rather be discussing policy with the US President-Elect, Barack Obama, who will dispatch two high-level emissaries to the summit. The disparities among the players may be huge, but the global economy's profound crisis affects them all. Mark Weisbrot, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington tells Pepe Escobar the summit will not accomplish much. He also forcefully criticizes the International Monetary Fund (IMF), mostly controlled by the US Treasury, as the coordinator of a huge transfer of wealth from developing to developed economies. Weisbrot argues that any new efforts towards a new global financial architecture would have to explore alternative solutions, and institutions."

The Real News Video: World in recession

OECD: Developed countries are facing prolonged economic trouble

"The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) forecast that economic output will shrink this quarter for the 30 market democracies that make up its membership. The contraction is expected to continue until the middle of next year. That would be the first time since the mid 70’s oil crisis that the U.S., Europe and Japan have fallen into recession around the same time. Germany, Europe's largest economy, is the latest developed country to announce it has fallen into recession."

(Click on cartoon to enlarge)

By Dave Brown, The Independent

Ditch the smooth transition. The people voted for change

Instead of accepting the corrupted bail-out and reassuring Wall Street, Obama's team must start doing the hard stuff now

Naomi Klein, Friday November 14 2008

"The more details emerge, the clearer it becomes that Washington's handling of the Wall Street bail-out is not merely incompetent: it is borderline criminal....

Yet the Democrats are either openly defending the administration or refusing to intervene. "There is only one president at a time," we hear from Barack Obama. That's true. But every sweetheart deal the Bush administration makes threatens to hobble Obama's ability to make good on his promise of change. To cite just one example, that $140bn in missing revenue is almost the same sum as Obama's renewable energy programme. Obama owes it to the people who elected him to call this what it is: an attempt to undermine the electoral process by stealth.....

I suspect the real reason the Democrats are failing to act has less to do with presidential protocol than with fear: fear that the stockmarket, which has the temperament of an over-indulged two-year-old, will throw one of its world-shaking tantrums......

Take Obama's choice for chief of staff. Rahm Emanuel, the House Democrat who received the most donations from the financial sector, sends an unmistakably reassuring message to Wall Street. When asked if Obama would be moving quickly to increase taxes on the wealthy, as promised, Emanuel pointedly did not answer the question.

This same market-coddling logic should, we are told, guide Obama's selection of treasury secretary. Fox News and MNSBC explained that Larry Summers, who held the post under Clinton, is the man "the Street would like most". Let's be clear why. "The Street" would cheer a Summers appointment for the same reason the rest of us should fear it.....

One thing we know for certain is that the market will react violently to anyone likely to impose serious regulation, invest in people, and cut off the free money. In short, the markets can be relied on to vote in precisely the opposite way that Americans have just voted. (A recent poll found 60% strongly favour "stricter regulations on financial institutions", while just 21% support aid to financial companies.)....."

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Book Review: A Doctor in Galilee: The Life and Struggle of a Palestinian in Israel, by Hatim Kanaaneh, Pluto Press, 2008.

Review by
Dr. Khalil Nakhleh, Ramallah

Independent writer and researcher. He may be reached at

Allow me first to contextualize my comments, briefly. Hatim and Didi are our personal friends, with whom we socialize, whenever we have the chance, and share our passion for gardening and preservation of nature. I came to know Hatim in the context of mustering funds for the work of the Galilee Society in which, as the book shows, he was fully immersed, professionally, passionately and politically. I was in Geneva then; he was between Arrabyeh and Rameh. Later, Lois and I got to know Hatim and Didi as friends.

This is a rich ethnographic and experiential narrative of local village culture, Hatim’s own village, culture and society. It is documented with immense passion, sensitivity, worry and a high level of personal doubt and torment. This is a narrative of what anthropologists dub as “little culture”, distinguished that is from “big culture”, or systems of beliefs, values, political economic structures, etc. Hatim does well in focusing on the “little culture”, and alludes to the rest.

At the political level, Hatim’s memoirs are an indictment of the racist system in Israel, by allusion. However, as the narrator progressed towards the conclusion of the narrative, and under the cumulative weight of racist and overtly discriminatory practices by the Jewish Zionist system towards the Palestinian Arab minority, his “allusions” became more pointed, clearer and less ambiguous, which led him to conclude (on p. 255): “I find myself needing to shake myself violently to snap out of the hypnotic trance I have been lulled into by all the sweet talk of coexistence—our coexistence as the lesser partner in the ‘Jewish first’, meaning ‘Jewish only’ democratic state”.

Since I accepted to comment on Hatim’s book, based only on the initial reading of small parts of it, and since I finished reading the whole book, I debated with myself on how to proceed. At first, I could not resist the temptation to expand, and attempt to put flesh on, the political allusions that abound in the book, at the risk of diverting the listeners from the richness and complexity of the “little culture” of which Hatim’s book is an invaluable record. However, following my wife’s insistence, I consented to divert my focus, without abandoning it.
Hatim’s memoirs urged me to frame the overall context by posing two interrelated questions to which Hatim alluded in the book: (1) what does it mean to be a Palestinian Arab in Israel? And (2) What does it mean to be a part of an indigenous minority that is a remaining fragment of the Palestinian people, living in a country—Israel—that is directly responsible for this historical evil?

By focusing on the “little culture”, Hatim addressed various, intermingled elements that could constitute the answer to these questions, for example:

* By putting together the various comments he makes about land, you start feeling and smelling the land, not as an abstract concept, but as a living thing, interacting with its people and they with it. You start feeling it as the anchor of subsistence and steadfastness, and as the keeper of its peoples’ history. It is symbolized by the olive trees, or, more accurately, by the “ancient olive tree” that graced the entrance to Hatim’s and Didi’s yard, which became the headpiece for their friends and relatives to come and visit, and which had to be protected from the evil eye of “jealous admirers” (p. 258).

* Reading one episode after another, you get a “real time” feeling what a traditional Arab extended village family, planted in its land for generations and solidified through history, is, how it works, and how it is lived and living. In one of the entries Hatim records: “Today I visited my old cousin, Abu-Faisal, who is the nominal head of the Kanaaneh clan though he has little actual influence these days. Every morning he still prepares a new pot of black Arabic coffee and sits in the clan’s traditional guesthouse or diwan, al-Zawieh, handed down since my grandfather established it. He shares his coffee with his daily circle of visitors, his elderly friends, and with the occasional passer-by …”(p 3-2).

* Village ethos, with all its stereotypes and blemishes, jumps at you from Hatim’s memoirs: “The residents of Sakhnin, Arrabeh’s larger neighbor, are known for taking much pride in their village. … In the Galilee, frictions between Sakhnin and Arrabeh are legend. Sakhninis look down on us for lacking both valor and the traditional Arab generosity when receiving guests. In return, we find them haughty and contentious. Their men strut around, noses in the air and head dresses … tilted to the side, walking in the middle of the road with an obvious chip-on-shoulder demeanor” (p. 88-9).

* At the personal level, Hatim’s narrative is very open. He takes you deep inside of him in his recurrent doubts, fears and worry … his constant vacillations between being back in his village and being in Hawii drawn by the spell of its beauty and the warmth of Didi’s family, and running away from the discrimination that the Jewish racist system practices against non-Jews.

Some concluding remarks

Upon finishing reading Hatim’s memoirs, I felt more compelled to draw these memoirs to their logical conclusion, by answering the two questions posed at the onset of these comments, namely, what does it mean to be a Palestinian Arab in Israel? And, what does it mean to be a part of an indigenous minority that is a remaining fragment of the Palestinian people, living in a country—Israel—that is directly responsible for the historical evil that transformed us into a minority?

In his introduction to Fouzi El-Asmar’s book “To be an Arab in Israel” (1975), Uri Davis wrote: “To be an Arab in Israel is to confront a political reality which excludes a priori … equal participation of non-Jews, first and foremost, the native population of the land: the Palestinian Arabs. To the extent that the state is Jewish it must deny equality of economic, political and national rights from its native non-Jewish population. It is not incidental that to be an Arab in Israel is to be thrown into the shadow either as a refugee or as an internally colonized, materially and culturally disinherited ‘Arab minority’” (p.5). This applies, of course, across the national board, to all of us, whether one is a “doctor” or not.

The only future for us, as an indigenous national minority, where we can exercise our inherited basic human rights, and where we can achieve true justice and equality, is to regain our status as a part of our national majority, in historical Palestine, after the dismemberment and dissolution of the Zionist racist system. Our future, as a national minority in our land, and as part of the Arab nation, is organically connected to the future of the Arab nation, and to the entire Palestinian people—the communities in the West Bank and Gaza, the refugees, and all those dispersed throughout the world; and it has to be realized in a democratic society in historical Palestine, where we would be ready to co-exist with non-Zionist Jews. Deconstruction of the racist Zionist-Ashkenazi system is a precondition for such a just solution. The existing Israeli system is, by definition, racist, exclusivist, and inherently and structurally incapable of providing justice and genuine equality to our people.

(Author’s note: This comment was first presented at the Friends International Cultural Center inRamallah at the launch of Hatim’s book, and then it was posted on Hatim’s blog:

Soros: "Depression Possible"

"George Soros, billionaire money manager, had his turn to join fellow hedge fund managers testifying before Congress. Soros made a point of scaring the hell out of them.

According to Reuters, Soros said "a deep recession is now inevitable and the possibility of a depression cannot be ruled out." He added "hedge funds will be "decimated" by the current financial crisis and forced to shrink their portfolios by 50-75 percent." "

Abdullah and Peres....
The Secret Love is Secret No More.....
How Sweet and Touching
, but This is Only the Beginning......

Obama's ambiguity

OP-ED By Ali Abunimah
The Washington Times

"Sons are not responsible for the racism of their fathers. But they do have a responsibility to let others know that they disagree vehemently with such sentiments. This is certainly the case for individuals in public service, particularly the man President-elect Barack Obama has chosen as White House chief of staff. Yet, Rep. Rahm Emanuel has not said a word regarding the troubling statement his father made to the Israeli newspaper Ma'ariv.

In a recent interview, Dr. Benjamin Emanuel asserted that his son's appointment would be beneficial to Israel. "Obviously he will influence the president to be pro-Israel," the elder Emanuel said, according to the Jerusalem Post. "Why wouldn't he be? What is he, an Arab? He's not going to clean the floors of the White House."

The public has a right to expect Mr. Emanuel to reject such raw racism especially given the historic resonance of Mr. Obama's victory. It's especially important for Arab and Muslim Americans who came through the election campaign feeling they are the last group of Americans who can still be publicly denigrated...... "

Obama and the Rogue Regime

A Phenomenon of Systemic Criminality


"......Nearly two years ago Senator Obama, contrary to what he knows and believes, vigorously came out against the House commencing impeachment proceedings. It would be too divisive, he said. As one of one hundred Senators who might have had to try the President and Vice President in the Senate were the House to impeach. He should have kept impartial and remained silent on the subject.

As President, he cannot remain silent and do nothing, otherwise he will inherit the war crimes of Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney and become soon thereafter a war criminal himself. Inaction cannot be an option.

Violating the Constitution and federal laws is now routine. What is routine after awhile becomes institutionalized lawlessness by official outlaws......"

Used S.O.F.A., by Khalil Bendib

(Click on cartoon to enlarge)

All Roads Lead to Rahm, by Khalil Bendib

(Click on cartoon to enlarge)

Reinstalling the Traitor Abbas in Gaza

Army officials: “War with Gaza could take place in the coming two months”

"Senior Israeli military officials stated on Wednesday that they believe that the Gaza Strip will witness a new war in the coming two months. The officials said that this war could happen although Hamas, in control of Gaza, is not interested at all in ending the truce......

Meanwhile, Israeli Defense Minister, Ehud Barak, said that Hamas leaders should understand that any strike against Israel will result “in dozens of painful strikes against Gaza”.

The Israeli army already prepared a plan for a possible attack against Gaza, the plan was prepared several months ago and includes several scenarios. One of the scenarios put forth is a full invasion to the Gaza Strip and imposing full Israeli military control over it. This plan would also be accompanied by a series of assassinations that would target military and “extreme” political leaders of Hamas. The pan would also include reimposing the Israeli military control over the “Philadelphia Route” along the Gaza Egypt borders.

Yet, Barak said that Israel is interested in the continuation of the truce and rejected demands from the Israeli right wing to reoccupy Gaza in order to free the captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. He also said that military officials will have a free hand to decide any military measures they deems essential.

Israeli political analysts said that any successful military offensive against the Gaza Strip will help Barak in the upcoming Israeli elections, as Barak and his Labor party are losing public support. The analysts also said that the Israeli public would forget all of the “medals of courage decorating Barak's chest” and will chose Benjamin Netanyahu. They added that Barak wants to remind the Israelis that he “is number one among Israeli political and military leaders in the country”."

Video: "Nahr al-Bared: Transitions"

a-films, Electronic Lebanon, 13 November 2008

Part 1:

Part 2:

"More than a year after their homes were destroyed during the battle between the Lebanese army and the militant Islamist group Fatah al-Islam, the majority of the Palestinian refugees from the Nahr al-Bared camp in northern Lebanon find themselves in a difficult situation. Not able to return to their homes, stuck in pre-fabricated housing units and mostly unemployed, many feel frustrated and hopeless that things will improve.

Being subjected to aid organizations and external political decisions, many refugees have started to criticize the humanitarization of their political problem and voice opposition to the politics of the humanitarian aid coming into the camp.

This short film, produced in October 2008, documents the experiences and thoughts of several young residents of Nahr al-Bared refugee camp, as they talk about current developments in the camp and their personal situation."

Gaza border crossings closed for sixth day

Press release, PCHR, 12 November 2008

"The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) is deeply concerned over continued policies of collective punishment imposed by Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) on the Palestinian civilian population in the Gaza Strip. These policies have included ban on delivery of food supplies and basic goods, including energy fuel required for electricity generation, grains and wheat. Following the halt of fuel supplies to the Gaza Strip in the past six days, more than 30 percent of the population of Gaza was in complete darkness last night, and people lined up in front of bakeries to buy flour and bread. Although IOF allowed the delivery of 427,410 liters of energy fuel this morning, which is enough to operate Gaza's power plant for a single day, PCHR in concerned that humanitarian conditions in the Gaza Strip may further deteriorate.

IOF have closed all commercial crossings of the Gaza Strip since Wednesday, 15 November 2008, banning the delivery of the limited quantities of supplies that had been allowed into the Gaza Strip. IOF have also stopped the delivery of fuel supplies that had been already reduced, which has caused further deterioration to humanitarian conditions in the Gaza Strip that had been deteriorating since 15 June 2007 when IOF imposed a total siege on the Gaza Strip......"

The Danger of Keeping Robert Gates

By Robert Parry
November 13, 2008

"Press reports say Barack Obama may retain George W. Bush’s Defense Secretary Robert Gates as a gesture to war-time continuity, bipartisanship and respect for the Washington insider community, which has embraced Gates as something of a new Wise Man.

However, if Obama does keep Gates on, the new President will be employing someone who embodies many of the worst elements of U.S. national security policy over the past three decades, including responsibility for what Obama himself has fingered as a chief concern, “politicized intelligence.”...."

Disaster of Israel's Making

By Sonja Karkar - Melbourne
Palestine Chronicle

"The illegal settlement movement, supported by every Israeli administration to date, has burgeoned out of control and its right wing leaders are vehemently opposed to negotiating land for peace.

We will probably see the present Foreign Minister and Kadima party leader, Tzipi Livni - if she forms the next government and takes over from Ehud Olmert, now interim PM - use the same stalling tactics with the Palestinian Authority that have, up until now, allowed land grabs from the Palestinians for the Zionist dream of a greater Israel. After all, Livni was nurtured on that dream....."

Gaza: A Flicker of Power

By Eva Bartlett - Gaza
(Eva Bartlett is a Canadian human rights advocate and freelancer who spent eight months in 2007 living in West Bank communities and four months in Cairo and at the Rafah crossing. She is currently based in Gaza, after the third successful voyage of the Free Gaza movement to break the siege on Gaza)

Palestine Chronicle

"Gaza is host to a new power outage.

It came the evening of the day when a delegation of 11 European Members of Parliament had visited Gaza's only power plant, which supplies about 1/3 the electricity used in Gaza (the amount used, not the amount needed. People are making due with regular power cuts, particularly in the northern areas of the Strip).

The plant used to supply 50% of Gaza's needs before Israel bombed it in June 2006, destroying all 6 of the plant's large transformers. Since then, ten smaller, temporary transformers have had to function, inadequately, as permanent replacements. With the siege on Gaza, importing new transformers, or even replacements parts, has become impossible.....

Aware that I would have no power later to do any writing, I was acutely more aware that hospitals would be at the mercy of their expensive, diesel-powered generators; that water would continue to go un-treated in many areas or, if treated, that it could not be pumped to those needing it; and that many, if not most, Palestinians would be in the dark......

UNRWA worries about more than the implications of no electricity. Supplying 80% of Gaza’s population with food aid, UN authorities warned that unless Karni crossing, designated for foodstuffs, re-opens after the week’s closure, they will have to halt food hand-outs in a matter of 48 hours....."

Don't Let Barack Obama Break Your Heart

By Tom Engelhardt

".....If Iraq remains a sorry tale of American destruction and dysfunction without, as yet, a discernible end in sight, Afghanistan may prove Iraq squared. And there, candidate Obama expressed no desire to wind the war down and withdraw American troops. Quite the opposite, during the election campaign he plunked hard for escalation.....

So, after January 20th, expect Obama to take possession of George Bush's disastrous Afghan War; and unless he is far more skilled than Alexander the Great, British empire builders, and the Russians, his war, too, will continue to rage without ever becoming a raging success......"

Obama Pressured to Back Off Iraq Withdrawal

by Gareth Porter

"The promotion of Robert M. Gates as President-elect Barack Obama's secretary of defense appears to be the key element in a broad campaign by military officials and their supporters in the political elite and the news media to pressure Obama into dropping his plan to withdraw US troops from Iraq in as little as 16 months.

Despite subtle and unsubtle pressures to compromise on his withdrawal plan, however, Obama is likely to pass over Gates and stand firm on his campaign pledge on military withdrawal from Iraq, according to a well-informed source close to the Obama camp......"

مواعظ 'الحاخام' بيريس

مواعظ 'الحاخام' بيريس

عبد الباري عطوان

"مارس الرئيس الاسرائيلي شمعون بيريس ابشع انواع الكذب والخداع اثناء القائه خطابا امام المشاركين في مؤتمر 'حوار الاديان' الذي ينعقد بمبادرة سعودية ورعاية الامم المتحدة وامينها العام في نيويورك حاليا. فقد صوّر اسرائيل على انها حمامة سلام لا تقتل ولا تجوّع ولا تحاصر ولا تحتل اراضي الآخرين،
من المؤكد ان بيــــريس لا يقصــــد اسرائيل عنـــدما يشير الى اولئك الذين يذبحــون الناس كالشياه، وانما يقصد الآخـــرين، اي العـــرب والمسلمـــين، فاسرائيل وقواتها تقصف اطفال غزة والضفة وجنوب لبنان بالورود والرياحين، وترسل لهم علب الحلوى والالعاب الالكترونية في الاعياد، وليس القنابل العنقودية والصواريخ من مختلف الاحجام والأوزان
ان هذه الحوارات السياسية التي تتم تحت مظلة تعايش الأديان، وتصالحها، وتعاون اتباعها، تصب في مصلحة الممارسات التوسعية الاسرائيلية، من حيث توفير المنابر للمسؤولين الاسرائيليين لكي يخاطبوا العالم كما لو انهم اناس ابرياء لم يرتكبوا ذنبا، ولم ينتهكوا حقوق الآخرين، بل ومبادئ المنظمة الدولية وقيمها التي يلقون كلماتهم تحت سقفها
ان أكثر ما يغيظنا، ويستفز مشاعرنا، كعرب ومسلمين، بل كبشر، هو اسهاب الرئيس الاسرائيلي في الحديث عن احترام حقوق الانسان في خطابه المذكور، الذي لقي تصفيقاً حاراً من رئيس الوفد الفلسطيني وأعضائه، مثلما ظهر عبر شاشات التلفزة مباشرة. أي أن الضحية تصفق للجلاد على سلخها
لا نعرف ماذا جرى ويجري في الغرف المغلقة، فقد كان واضحاً أن هناك تعليمات صارمة بابعاد الكاميرات ورجال الصحافة عن معظم الفعاليات، وشاهدنا أبشع أنواع الرقابة تمارس علينا كمشاهدين، حيث لم تنقل لنا الكاميرات تعبيرات وجوه العديد من الزعماء العرب المشاركين، اثناء القاء كلمة بيريس، تماماً مثلــما حدث أثـــناء لقاءات مؤتمر أنابوليس للسلام في شهر تشرين الثاني (نوفمبر) الماضي، ولكن ما يمكن ان نتكهن به ان الاجواء السائدة هي اجواء تصالحية، وربما لم يكن من المناسب تعكيرها بالحديث عن قضايا مثل حصار غزة او الحفريات تحت المسجد الاقصى، او سقوط الشهداء بعـــد ذبحهم مثل الشياه بأحدث أدوات القتل الاسرائيلية
حوار الأديان خطوة حضارية، ولكن يجب ان يتم بين العلماء والفقهاء من اتباع جميع الديانات، وعلى ارضية المساواة والرغبة في التعايش، والانتصار للضعفاء والمظلومين برفع الظلم عنهم. اما ان يشارك في هذا الحوار اناس اياديهم ملطخة بدماء الأبرياء، او حكام طغاة مستبدون، فهذا امر مرفوض ويعطي نتائج عكسية تماماً.

Al-Jazeera Video: Gaza's nervous wait for aid - 13 Nov 2008

"Trucks carrying basic supplies are waiting to enter the Gaza Strip, ending an Israeli food blockade which has lasted more than seven days.

Al Jazeera's Sherine Tadros reports from Gaza, where the constant shortages are taxing the emotional and physical health of the Palestinian residents. "

Real News Video: The war without an objective

Eric Margolis: Obama's only option is to make an agreement with Taliban and withdraw from Afghanistan

"Barack Obama was elected as the next president of the United States with a foreign policy platform based on the refocusing of US military might from Iraq to Afghanistan. In the second part of our interview with Eric Margolis, Eric tells the new president-elect that he needs to abandon his support for a strategy of military intervention in Afghanistan, make a deal with the Taliban and move his attention to areas of greater significance to US interests. The war, says Margolis, is now with the Pashtun people of Afghanistan, who make up half of the country's population, not a small group of largely disbanded terrorists known as al- Qaeda. Margolis ends by pointing out the potential for the conflict to destabilize Pakistan and potentially even draw India into a larger regional conflict."

Double agents, car bombs and antics worthy of James Bond

A mystery visitor leads our man in Beirut to wonder what Syria was up to when it aired a mass confession on state TV

By Robert Fisk

"When it comes to spy stories, Ian Fleming couldn't match Lebanon – and Sister Syria – for the kind of head-spinning espionage and murder mystery now engulfing the Levant.....

Yet this weekend, Chakar Absi's chadored daughter Wafa, along with 10 dozen rueful-looking men, appeared on Syrian state television to announce that Fatah al-Islam and its "head of security" – a certain Taha Hussein Abdel-Baki al-Hussein al-Walid – had organised the suicide bombing of civilians in a Damascus street on 27 September in an attempt to overthrow Bashar al-Assad's Syrian regime. The bombing was carried out by a Saudi and the organisation, according to the somewhat frightened men on the television screen, obtained funds from "Salafist groups" and Saudis and – here was the dagger in the story – from the Future Movement and the Lebanese BankMed financial institution, both run by Saad Hariri, son of the Lebanese ex-premier killed in 2006.

The US journalist Seymour Hersh has already hinted in The New Yorker that Hariri money – and even American money – had been given to Fatah al-Islam, but Syria's TV spectacular was on a far greater scale. Hariri immediately denounced the claim.

No one, of course, doubts that Syria's principal concern remains the UN's international tribunal into Rafik Hariri's murder....

The young man, who described himself as a reporter for Syria's first non-government television station – an institution I had never heard of – left without learning anything more than I had myself reported in The Independent. But his questions mirrored Syria's own preoccupation with the UN inquiry. Already, one of the UN's regular reports was censored in New York to delete the names of Syrian officials who might have been involved in Hariri's murder, and there is a growing fear in Lebanon that the Americans – in their desire to persuade Syria to hinder the flow of insurgents into Iraq – may be prepared to close down the UN tribunal. All of which makes the US helicopter strike into Syria this month against alleged al-Qa'ida fighters all the more mysterious......."

Yes We Con!

The slow plod back to sanity

An outbreak of pragmatism under Obama could bring results in Afghanistan but things are set to get worse before they get better

Simon Tisdall, Wednesday November 12 2008

"......Nudging Obama, the Afghan government has its own plans. Kabul is calling urgently for more combat soldiers in the south and east – American or European, it makes no odds. But this time there must be no caveats limiting their activities, said the foreign minister, Rangeen Dadfar Spanta. "These troops have to be fighter troops."

Anticipating similar pressure on Britain from the Obama camp, Gordon Brown and the defence secretary, John Hutton, this week urged European Nato allies to share more Afghan burdens. Obama may end up deploying 15,000 to 20,000 additional US soldiers by next summer, depending on what Petraeus proposes and the speed of Iraq withdrawals. He will want back-up......

The Taliban, too, are awaiting the new act in the White House – though they seem to have misread the script. An internet posting this week claimed Obama's victory demonstrated "the collective willingness of American people not to continue the current despicable and inhuman wars in Afghanistan and Iraq". That may be so. But Obama is committed to escalate the former even as he winds down the latter.

Intensification of the war, and what is being called a "more overt and forceful US military leadership role" in southern provinces where British forces operate, is only part of the president-elect's still evolving strategy......."

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Beware of the Obama hype. What 'change' in America really means

In his latest column for the New Statesman, John Pilger writes that the lauding of Barack Obama has a history and that 'historical moments' ought to be less about their symbolism and accompanying histrionics than what they really mean. The question is: what is Obama's true relation to unchanging American myths about the imposition of its notorious power?

A Great Piece
By John Pilger

".....That is the subtext of Barack Obama’s “oratory”. He says he wants to build up US military power; and he threatens to ignite a new war in Pakistan, killing yet more brown-skinned people. That will bring tears, too. Unlike those on election night, these other tears will be unseen in Chicago and London. This is not to doubt the sincerity of much of the response to Obama’s election, which happened not because of the unction that has passed for news reporting from America since 4 November (e.g. "liberal Americans smiled and the world smiled with them") but for the same reasons that millions of angry emails were sent to the White House and Congress when the “bailout” of Wall Street was revealed, and because most Americans are fed up with war.

Two years ago, this anti-war vote installed a Democratic majority in Congress, only to watch the Democrats hand over more money to George W Bush to continue his blood fest. For his part, the "anti-war" Obama never said the illegal invasion of Iraq was wrong, merely that it was a “mistake”. Thereafter, he voted in to give Bush what he wanted. Yes, Obama’s election is historic, a symbol of great change to many. But it is equally true that the American elite has grown adept at using the black middle and management class. The courageous Martin Luther King recognised this when he linked the human rights of black Americans with the human rights of the Vietnamese, then being slaughtered by a liberal Democratic administration. And he was shot. In striking contrast, a young black major serving in Vietnam, Colin Powell, was used to “investigate” and whitewash the infamous My Lai massacre. As Bush’s secretary of state, Powell was often described as a “liberal” and was considered ideal to lie to the United Nations about Iraq’s non-existent weapons of mass destruction. Condaleezza Rice, lauded as a successful black woman, has worked assiduously to deny the Palestinians justice.

Obama’s first two crucial appointments represent a denial of the wishes of his supporters on the principal issues on which they voted. The vice-president-elect, Joe Biden, is a proud warmaker and Zionist. Rahm Emanuel, who is to be the all-important White House chief of staff, is a fervent "neoliberal" devoted to the doctrine that led to the present economic collapse and impoverishment of millions. He is also an “Israel-first” Zionist who served in the Israeli army and opposes meaningful justice for the Palestinians – an injustice that is at the root of Muslim people’s loathing of the United States and the spawning of jihadism.

No serious scrutiny of this is permitted within the histrionics of Obamamania, just as no serious scrutiny of the betrayal of the majority of black South Africans was permitted within the “Mandela moment”. This is especially marked in Britain, where America’s divine right to “lead” is important to elite British interests. The once respected Observer newspaper, which supported Bush’s war in Iraq, echoing his fabricated evidence, now announces, without evidence, that “America has restored the world’s faith in its ideals”. These “ideals”, which Obama will swear to uphold, have overseen, since 1945, the destruction of 50 governments, including democracies, and 30 popular liberation movements, causing the deaths of countless men, women and children........

Today, merely insert “Obama”. As for historic moments, there is another that has gone unreported but is well under way – liberal democracy’s shift towards a corporate dictatorship, managed by people regardless of ethnicity, with the media as its clichéd façade......"

Ensuring salaried 'sovereignty'

By Imad Khadduri

".....It may be surprisingly "curious" for Al-Chalabi who knows all about the cosy relationship between some of the Iraqi security forces and the US. He himself brought the 'startup team' to Iraq, posing as his own militia. These were several hundred Iraqis trained by the US in Hungary before the war. Many incidents are attributed to Chalabi's 'own militia' acting outside the law and with impunity.

But then again, Hadi al-Ameri is one of Iraq’s most notorious armed-militia leaders who is working in close connection with Iran’s Revolutionary Guards. He is the Iraqi Interior Ministry who is widely believed to be under the control of the Badr Organisation and its political face SCIRI. See this two years old posting: "Will the US have to reinvade Iraq to depose him?" November 21, 2006

For the record, and to avoid Al-Chalabi any more embarrassing curiousities, there are other Bremer appointed high government officials that have been receiving their salaries, for more than five and a half years now, directly from the Americans and the CIA and not from the Iraqi government. They are:

* The above mentioned head of the "Iraqi" National Intelligene Service - Al-Shawani (see previous posting: The Genocide Option February 05, 2007
* The head of the "Iraqi" Central Bank - Sinan Al-Shibibi
* The presidential advisor - Mowafaq Al-Rubaie
* The head of the High Judicial Council
* The head of the Elections Committee

Which other "sovereign" state can boast such paid loyalties, but a SOFA one? (Well, maybe Obama'a Rahm Israel Emanuel)"

Saudis step into Pakistan's quagmire

By Syed Saleem Shahzad
Asia Times

"The first part of the Washington-backed plan worked perfectly - the rise to power in Pakistan of liberal, secular political parties. In the next step, to define and implement a strong response in the United States-led "war on terror" against militancy, the coalition government has failed miserably. The US has been forced to call on Saudi Arabia to act as a middleman, lest the whole initiative spin completely out of control...."

Gaza Again Plunged into Darkness, Hunger as Israel Blocks Fuel, Food to Suffering Population

Democracy Now!
With Amy Goodman

"The United Nations refugee agency which distributes food to half of Gaza’s 1.5 million people has warned that it will run out of food in a day if Israel’s blockade of the Gaza strip does not stop. It called the blockade “a physical as well as a mental punishment."

Israel is now allowing limited amounts of fuel after Gaza’s sole power plant came to a halt Monday, plunging the area into darkness. But Israel is still blocking food deliveries and aid agencies estimate the new supply of fuel will run out within a day-and-a-half.....

The Bush administration has strongly backed Israel’s stranglehold on Gaza. It’s unclear whether this policy will change under an Obama White House. Obama’s first major appointment was to select Congressmember Rahm Emmanuel as his chief of staff. On foreign policy, Emanuel is thought to represent the right-wing of the Democratic Party. He has vocally backed Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza and its 2006 attack on Lebanon. Emmanuel’s father, Benjamin Emmanuel, was a member of the Irgun, a right-wing group that carried out attacks on Palestinians in the years leading up to Israel’s establishment as a state in 1948. Benjamin Emmanuel recently made some controversial comments on his son’s appointment. In an interview with an Israeli newspaper last week, he said: “Obviously he will influence the president to be pro-Israel. Why wouldn’t he be? What is he, an Arab? He’s not going to clean the floors of the White House.”

We’re joined in the firehouse studio by two internationally recognized human rights advocates. Diana Buttu is a Palestinian-Canadian lawyer and used to work with the Negotiations Support Unit of the Palestinian Liberation Organization or PLO. Reverend Edwin “Eddie” Makue is General Secretary of the South African Council of Churches. He was involved in the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa from 1982. In 2005 he traveled to the Palestinian territories to monitor the elections. Diana Buttu and Revered Makue are on an anti-apartheid speaking tour across the country for the next two weeks.

Diana Buttu, Palestinian Canadian lawyer. She used to work with the Negotiations Support Unit of the Palestinian Liberation Organization, or PLO.

Rev. Edwin Makue, General Secretary of the South African Council of Churches."

Insurgents Seize Port City in Somalia

Contributed by Wilbur

"NAIROBI, Kenya — A Somali official appealed for urgent help Wednesday as residents reported that the key port city of Merka had fallen to Islamist insurgents.

Hundreds of fighters rolled into the port in heavily armed pickup trucks, meeting no resistance because government-allied militias had fled the night before, according to residents. Merka is only 60 miles south of Mogadishu, Somalia’s bullet-pocked capital, and Somali officials said the Islamists were now planning to lay siege to Mogadishu......"

Four Palestinians Martyred By Israeli Troops in Gaza


"12/11/2008 Israeli occupation troops killed four Palestinian resistance fighters in a gunbattle on the Gaza border on Wednesday that rattled a nearly five-month lull, the Israeli occupation army and Palestinian medics said.

"Four fighters were killed and were transferred to Nasser Hospital" in the south of the Gaza Strip, a medic said.

Witnesses said the fighters were from the Islamic resistance Hamas movement which controls the Gaza Strip......"

The only way out

Eva Bartlett writing from Cyprus, Live from Palestine, 12 November 2008

(Eva Bartlett is a Canadian human rights advocate and freelancer who spent eight months in 2007 living in West Bank communities and four months in Cairo and at the Rafah crossing)

"Over the past year, Muhannad Omar al-Helo has twice petitioned the Israeli government to leave Gaza in order to study in Europe for a master's degree. He has also contacted Israeli lawyers and human rights groups about his case. On 2 November aboard the SS Dignity, the third Free Gaza boat, he was finally able to leave Gaza and the 16-month Israeli siege, which has imprisoned the 1.5 million Palestinian residents of the tiny coast territory, and sail to Cyprus.....

In their two successful trips, Free Gaza has brought a student, and a patient and his family from Gaza, all of whom had no way of exiting due to Israel's closure of the borders. But one Free Gaza organizer, Greta Berlin, knows that the boats cannot be the main means for Palestinians to leave Gaza.

"It's outrageous that more than one thousand medical patients and students cannot leave for study and for treatment unavailable in Gaza. We are doing what we can, but it's frustrating to realize that we can only help a few at a time. Our intention has always been to bring the plight of the Palestinians to the world stage, in hopes that others would follow us and open up a continuous sea-route exit from Gaza, and that the land borders would be opened.""

When the Two Fat Boys Meet, What Else do They Talk About Besides Food?

Iraqi FM in Syria over deadly US raid

Press TV

"Iraqi FM Hoshyar Zebari, in a meeting with his Syrian counterpart has said Iraq will never be a base for attacks against its neighbors.

"The Iraqi government wants to reassure neighboring countries that Iraq will in no circumstances be a base for the launch of aggressive acts", Zebari was quoted by SANA as saying in talks with his Syrian counterpart Walid al- Muallem.[What a joke and a farce! -- Tony]......"