The Supreme State Security Court has used sham trials to prosecute activists, bloggers and citizens accused of “insulting the Syrian president” in private conversations, and it should be abolished, Human Rights Watch said Tuesday. The group said the court “criminalizes freedom of expression” and allows lawyers to play only a ceremonial role. The court has tried thousands of people since it was re-established in 1992, after a hiatus during the 1980s.
Saturday, February 28, 2009
"Focus on Gaza offers a rare look at what life is like for ordinary people inside the Gaza Strip. In this episode: It has been two months since Israel's war on Gaza began with a devastating air strike on a police academy. Lauren Taylor reports from Gaza on the impact of that strike on the affected families and on the job of policing itself. Also, host Imran Garda talks to Usama Hamdan, a senior Hamas official, about attempts at Palestinian reconciliation. And, in the first of our weekly glimpses into family life in Gaza, we catch up with the incredible story of the Samouni children."
(Sami Abu Shehadeh and Fadi Shbaytah are residents of Jaffa, and members of the Jaffa Popular Committee for the Defense of Land and Housing Rights.)
A view from the sea at Jaffa looking east onto the city, 1898-1914. (Matson Collection)
"Jaffa was the largest city in historic Palestine during the years of the British mandate, with a population of more than 80,000 Palestinians in addition to the 40,000 persons living in the towns and villages in its immediate vicinity. In the period between the UN Partition resolution (UNGA 181) of 29 November 1947, and the declaration of the establishment of the State of Israel, Zionist military forces displaced 95 percent of Jaffa's indigenous Arab Palestinian population. Jaffa's refugees accounted for 15 percent of Palestinian refugees in that fateful year, and today they are dispersed across the globe, still banned from returning by the state responsible for their displacement.....
Reversing the ongoing Nakba
Today the estimated number of Palestinian refugees from Jaffa hovers around 700,000, which is one-tenth of the Palestinian refugee population. While most of these refugees are in Gaza, the West Bank and Jordan, many are further away with foreign passports that can enable them to visit what remains of their city. Perhaps one of the most important steps in reversing the Nakba, which involved shredding up the Palestinian body and dispersing us to various far corners of the earth, is to intensify efforts to reconnect this body. If it is not physically possible because of Israeli travel restrictions on Palestinians, the Internet and other communication technology can play an effective role in this process.
At least as important is the international solidarity needed to stop the Israeli policies and practices that constitute the ongoing Nakba. In Jaffa, the ongoing Nakba has brought about ongoing resistance. This resistance may not be able to turn back the clock, and we may not be able to live as if the past 60 years never happened, but at least we can work to prevent further suffering and destruction of our city and our society, and we can work to rebuild the eminence that was the Bride of the Sea."
16.00 (GMT) Saturday 28th February 2009
"After a smooth crossing of the borders into Libya, the convoy was overwhelmed by the large number of people waiting to greet and welcome them.
Trade union officials, Palestinian representatives, thousands of ordinary Libyans showed up and waited from the early hours to see their heroes.
According to the Libyan press, the Libyan Government has prepared a program full of activities for the convoy throughout its journey across the country lasting 5 days. I am told by Rabah, that people are out on the streets of every city they pass showing their love, affection and appreciation of this mammoth task.
As I am writing, the convoy was just arriving in the city of Az Zawiyah about 40 km west of Tripoli. I can hear the brass band of the scouts playing a welcoming tune.
A huge tent has been set up which is a traditional Libyan welcome for VIP guests. The convoy will have lunch and then settle down after yet another tiring journey.
Farid Arada and others Update archive here"
"WASHINGTON, Feb 27 (IPS) - President Barack Obama has given military commanders a free hand to determine the size and composition of a residual force in Iraq up to 50,000 troops, apparently including the option of leaving one or more combat brigades or bringing them from the United States, after the August 2010 deadline for the ostensible withdrawal of all combat brigades now in Iraq.
Although the ostensible purpose of the combat brigades remaining in Iraq would be to protect other U.S. troops in the country, they would also provide the kind of combat capability that U.S. commanders have wanted to maintain to deal with a broad range of contingencies......"
By Robert Fisk
(Herr Pope cartoon by Khalil Bendib. Click on cartoon to enlarge)
".......And what do I make of all this? Well, I don't think the Pope is as innocent as he seems, nor so ill-advised. He sees Christianity as a superior, "Western" religion and is prepared to demean other religions to prove it. I think he knows exactly what he is doing. I think he knows what he is saying. I used to think he was a silly old German. Now I am beginning to suspect he might be a very nasty piece of work. "
Nick Young in Gaza
(Nick Young is chief executive of the British Red Cross redcross.org.uk)
The Guardian, Saturday 28 February 2009
"......The saddest sight was Samouni Street, home to the extended family of the same name, and now a pile of smashed concrete. Three small girls told us a heartrending story of terror and death: troops moved them out of their houses; their new shelter was bombed; a brother was run over by a tank; and a mother decapitated, her daughter left sitting by the body.
The task of reconstruction is daunting and the magnitude of the work cannot be underestimated. However, the truth is that efforts to rebuild Gaza can only succeed if accompanied by credible political steps to resolve the crisis.
It is not enough to just go back to the way things were before the conflict. What is needed is sustainable economic development; but this will be possible only if political steps prepare the ground. The first and most urgent measure should be to end the isolation of Gaza, particularly the restrictions on the movement of people and goods. In Israel, the targeting of civilian areas must also end......"
Friday, February 27, 2009
By RANNIE AMIRI
The tragic events which occurred in Medina are sobering evidence of the grip that the Wahabi religious establishment has on Saudi society, its police, and judiciary. The wanton discrimination and violence which continues to be meted out against Saudi Shia citizens make the reforms of King Abdullah—no matter how well intentioned—appear empty and hollow. Saudi columnist Najib al-Khonaizi remarked, "There's a feeling that the Shiites' ambitions have not been realized as hoped, and that could have played an indirect role in inflaming emotions. We have to admit that there's tension in the Shiite street."
As a result of the clashes, arrests and killings in Medina, there are now reports of protests breaking out in the Eastern Province with demands for increased freedom of expression and equal rights becoming more vocal. As reported by the Associated Press, demonstrators were even seen carrying banners reading “down with the government” and spray painting anti-government slogans on billboards—all unheard of in the tightly controlled nation.
It may very well be that spreading anger over the harassment and violence directed against Shias in Medina—insultingly juxtaposed against King Abdullah’s purported reforms—will become the real nidus and driving force behind meaningful change in the Kingdom.
Until then, it will be Saudi Arabia’s Shia Muslims who will point to King Abdullah and the litany of his reforms and remind everyone that truly, “the emperor has no robes.”"
"In his Saturday morning meeting with the special US envoy to the Middle East, George Mitchell, Likud party leader in Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, said that any upcoming Palestinian unity government must implement the conditions of the Quartet committee......"
"WASHINGTON (IPS) - Strong majorities of people in predominantly Muslim countries reject terrorism but support key goals of al-Qaeda, notably expelling United States military forces from the Islamic world, according to a major new study of public opinion in seven nations and the Palestinian territories released here Wednesday.
Nearly 90 percent of Egyptian respondents, 65 percent of Indonesians, 62 percent of Pakistanis, and 72 percent of Moroccans said they agreed with al-Qaeda's goal of "push(ing) the US to remove its bases and its military forces from all Islamic countries," according to a detailed survey carried out late last summer by the University of Maryland's Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA)......"
"This month The Electronic Intifada, an independent online publication about Palestine and the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, marks its eighth anniversary. When we started, the co-founders did not realize that we were engaging in an early experiment in what is now called "new media" or "citizen journalism" before those terms were coined.
EI built on earlier pioneering uses of the Internet by Palestinians and their allies who for the first time had the means to communicate with each other, and with Palestinians inside the homeland, circumventing enforced separation and pervasive media censorship. The Internet provided me, as a Palestinian who grew up in the Diaspora, with a real sense of community, connection and empowerment. It became in one sense a virtual country where Palestinians could meet, debate and even coordinate joint action in defense of their rights. Many of the people whose work I hold in highest regard I first met online.
Palestinians readily took to the Internet because their narratives and analyses were -- and still are -- systematically shut out of the mainstream media....."
".....According to Essam Al-Arian, prominent member of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood opposition movement, Hamas's steadfastness during Israel's recent three-week-long assault on the Gaza Strip served to bolster the group's negotiating position.
"Hamas's unexpected persistence served to increase its popularity and show regional and international players that they have no alternative but to deal with it," Al-Arian told IPS. "This is seen in the fact that the Cairo talks received official backing from both the U.S. and the EU."
He added that Hamas, despite its frequent designation as "extremist" in the news media, had shown considerable flexibility in its approach to reconciliation with Fatah.
"Hamas has shown it is more than willing to share with Fatah in a unity government," said Al-Arian. "Hamas has also voiced its readiness to accept a PA presence at the Rafah crossing," he added, referring to the sole transit point along Egypt's 14-kilometre border with the Gaza Strip.
Nevertheless, fundamental differences between the two factions remain - particularly in regards to their respective approaches to Israel......"
"RAMALLAH, Feb 27 (IPS) - Red-faced and unusually tongue-tied Israeli officials were forced to try and explain to U.S. Senator John Kerry during his visit to Israel last week why truckloads of pasta waiting to enter the besieged Gaza strip were not considered humanitarian aid while rice was.....
"Israel is not making enough effort to improve the humanitarian situation in Gaza," a senior U.S. official told Israeli counterparts last week. He reiterated Washington's view that the U.S. expects Israel to meet its commitments on this matter.
When asked whether the U.S. believed that Israel was holding up humanitarian aid as a tool to secure the release of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, State Department spokesman Robert Wood answered, "Aid should never be used as a political weapon."
Further criticism came from an unusual quarter when U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, renowned for being staunchly pro-Israel, expressed anger at the obstacles Israel was putting in the way of aid delivery......."
By Justin Raimondo
".......After all, Obama's war is going to be taking place on a much larger, more difficult canvas than that of his predecessor's, which was confined in large part to Iraq. All of Afghanistan will soon be teeming with newly-arrived US soldiers, sent there – direct from Iraq – to fulfill the President's pledge to start fighting the "right war" in the right way, a "smart" way. Oh, these guys (and gals) are the Best and the Brightest, alright, aren't they?
The smarty-pants tone and style of this administration is already beginning to grate on my nerves, as they pander to their base on the symbolic issues – like the coffin question – in hopes no one will notice as they backtrack on more important matters. So far, it doesn't seem to be working out all that well.......
Most of the Obama-zoids are happy, however, because, after all, Keith Olbermann assures them we've entered the new millennium, the Dear Leader is in the White House, and all's right with the world. But is it?
Not by a long shot. Has anyone noticed Obama's vaunted 16-month withdrawal-from-Iraq plan has already stretched into 19 months – and the "residual force" he kept talking about during the campaign, as if it were a mere afterthought, turns out to be 50,000 strong?
Originally, none of those "residuals" were supposed to be combat troops – yet now we are told "some would still be serving in combat as they conducted counterterrorism missions." You have to go all the way to the very end of this New York Times report before you discover that, according to Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell, "A limited number of those that remain will conduct combat operations against terrorists, assisting Iraqi security forces."
In short: we aren't leaving. ......."
A Good Comment
By Ramzy Baroud
Let historians contend whether Arafat was tricked by a peace ploy that saw the softening of the PLO's position while the Israeli position continued to harden unchecked. The fact is, the seeds of Palestinian division were planted during those years and Palestinians were compartmentalised -- between moderates, extremists, maximalists, minimalists, pragmatists, rejectionists and so on. Further, the political gains of the PLO were made irrelevant, and were later used exclusively for personal gain, starting in 1974, passing through Oslo, the subsequent "peace process" years, and finally reaching today's dead end.
World media is now reporting that European countries are in direct contact with Hamas leaders, although officials are insisting that this contact is independent and not linked to larger government initiatives. More, several US congressmen visited Gaza, again with similar disclaimers. US Senator John Kerry, who led the US delegation, claimed that the US position regarding Hamas has not changed, and repeated the conditions that Hamas must meet before any engagement is possible.
One has to be wary of the history that rendered the once influential PLO the trivial organisation that it is today. History often repeats itself, true, but it doesn't have to if one remembers such historical lessons. Peace is not a "process", at least not in the Kissinger sense, and true dialogue and positive engagement require no stipulations and conditions. Hamas is now in the same precarious position that the PLO was in earlier years. Its future decisions shall influence the coming stage of this conflict, and thus the fate of the Palestinian people, in countless ways."
فبعد قطيعة امتدت لعامين تقريباً، وحروب اعلامية شرسة، وتسخين امني على الساحة اللبنانية كاد يؤدي الى حرب أهلية، نجح تصريح واحد أدلى به السيد وليد المعلم وزير خارجية سورية وقال فيه انه سيشارك في مؤتمر شرم الشيخ لبحث اعادة اعمار قطاع غزة، وأكد فيه عزم بلاده تعزيز جهود الحكومة المصرية على صعيد الحوار الفلسطيني، حتى ذابت معظم الخلافات المصرية السورية، وتغيرت اللهجة كلياً، وتوقفت الحملات الاعلامية المصرية ضد سورية التي خرجت عن كل الاعراف وآداب الخلاف.
السيد احمد ابو الغيط الذي كان يقود حملات التأزيم ضد سورية ومحور ما يسمى بدول الممانعة، اشاد فوراً بهذا الموقف السوري وتصريحات السيد المعلم الايجابية، ولن نستغرب عقد قمة ثلاثية مصرية ـ سورية ـ سعودية لتكريس المصالحة، وخلق اجواء جديدة تؤدي الى انجاح القمة العربية المقبلة في الدوحة.
واللافت ان الحكومتين السعودية والمصرية ظلتا طوال الاشهر الماضية تتهمان سورية ونظام الحكم فيها بخدمة طموحات ايران، وتحذران من نمو النفوذ الايراني عبر البوابة السورية الى المنطقة. الآن توقفت هذه الاتهامات، وهدأت الحرب الاعلامية والسياسية، وسنشاهد عناقاً على شاشات التلفزة، وافتتاحيات تشيد بعصر المصالحات العربي الجديد.
لم يتغير شيء على الاطلاق، سورية ما زالت في المحور الايراني، وحزب الله ما زال يحظى بدعمها، ومكتب حماس السياسي ما زال في العاصمة دمشق، والطموحات الايرانية في بناء قدرات عسكرية ونووية تتصاعد وتقترب من ذروتها.
المصالحات العربية التي تطل برأسها مفيدة، لا شك في ذلك، ولكنها تكشف في الوقت نفسه عن ضحالة النظام الرسمي العربي وانعدام بصيرته، وغرقه في التفاصيل الشخصية والثانوية، والابتعاد كلياً عن الاهداف والخطط الاستراتيجية، وهذا ليس جديداً او مفاجئاً على اي حال.
"The United Nations Relief and Works Agency apologised to the US government last night after it was criticised for passing to a US senator a letter from a Hamas representative intended for President Barack Obama.
Karen Koning AbuZayd, the agency head, said she "deeply regrets any awkwardness" the transmission of the letter may have caused for the government, which has refused any direct contact with the Palestinian Islamist faction that rules Gaza.
The agency denies claims by Israeli officials that it was embroiling itself in politics by passing the letter to John Kerry, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations committee, when he visited Gaza last week. Mr Kerry left the letter with the US consulate in Jerusalem. He said he had not read it because it was sandwiched among UN promotional papers he had received.
Christopher Gunness, the agency's chief spokesman, said guards at the agency's front gates sometimes received envelopes addressed to people outside Gaza. "Provided there is nothing to suggest anything untoward, our practice is to forward these letters, in good faith, as best we can."
The letter to Mr Obama, with a Palestinian Authority return address, had been handled in this way. Mr Gunness said the incident did not detract from the UN agency's neutrality. "
War is Peace and a "Withdrawal" is 50,000 "Non-combat" Troops Remaining. This is a Change We Can Believe in; Oh Yeah!
Dismay at Obama plan to leave 50,000 US troops in Iraq after 2010
Ewen MacAskill and Daniel Nasaw in Washington
guardian.co.uk, Thursday 26 February 2009
"Democratic Congressional leaders have expressed dismay that President Barack Obama is planning to leave as many as 50,000 US troops in Iraq even after the long-awaited withdrawal of combat troops next year.....
But the Congress members, most of whom were opposed to the war, expressed regret afterwards that so many, between 35,000 and 50,000, are to be left behind.
According to one congressional official, lawmakers were told that General David Petraeus, head of US Central Command, and General Ray Odierno, the top commander in Baghdad, believed the plan presented moderate risk but supported the 50,000 figure......"
COMMENT: Instead of burying the collaborationist PA and starting a new chapter based on resistance and liberation, Hamas throws the PA a lifeline. Disgusting!
I will write a longer comment about all these "peace" and "reconciliation" moves breaking out all over, and what could be behind them.
The more things change, the more they stay the same: Hamas wants recognition and a place at the Table and the Pharaoh will deliver a domesticated Hamas.
"CAIRO, (PIC)-- Palestinian factions, including Hamas and Fatah, among other Palestinian factions meeting in Cairo have agreed Thursday to form an interim national unity government that would manage the Palestinian affairs till next PA election is held......."
Thursday, February 26, 2009
By PATRICK COCKBURN
"President Obama is likely to announce in the coming days that he will withdraw all US combat troops from Iraq by August 2010. Many of these soldiers will end up in Afghanistan where the Taliban is getting stronger and the US-backed government weaker by the day. How much has the US learnt from its debacle in Iraq?
One lesson not learnt in Washington is that it is a bad idea to become involved in a war in any so-called "failed state". This patronizing term suggests that if a state has failed, foreign intervention is justified and will face limited resistance. But the greatest US foreign policy disasters over the last generation have all been in places where organised government had largely collapsed......."
"على الذين يتباكون على منظمة التحرير الفلسطينية أن يرفعوا قبضاتهم الخانقة عنها أولاً، قبل أن يطلبوا من الفلسطينيين تصديقهم. عليهم أن يكفوا عن الحديث باسم المنظمة ورغما عنها وعن الفلسطينيين!
على الذين يمسكون بزمام منظمة التحرير أن يحترموا عقول الفلسطينيين وأن يوضحوا لهم لماذا وصلت المنظمة إلى الحالة البئيسة التي نراها؟ ولماذا تمّ "قتل" مؤسسات المنظمة وتفريغها من محتواها؟ ولماذا تمّ تعطيل المجلس الوطني الفلسطيني؟ ولماذا تمّ اتخاذ قرارات عطلت قيادة المنظمة بموجبها ميثاقها الوطني وألغت عمليا الفكرة التي قامت المنظمة على أساسها؟ وكيف أصبحت منظمة "التسوية" لا منظمة التحرير؟
إن على الجبهتين الشعبية والديمقراطية المنضويتين تحت المنظمة أن تمارسا مزيدا من الضغط باتجاه إصلاح المنظمة، خصوصا أنهما تشاركان حماس والجهاد الكثير من الرؤى تجاه التسوية وتجاه برنامج المقاومة وإصلاح المنظمة.
ولا بأس أن يصل الضغط حدَّ تجميد العضوية أو الاستقالة من اللجنة التنفيذية والمجلس المركزي بانتظار خطوة جادة من قيادة المنظمة لدى فتح نحو الإصلاح.
وأخيرا، فإن قيادة المنظمة مدعوة للانضباط بميثاق المنظمة وقوانينها ولوائحها قبل أن تدعو غيرها لذلك، وهي مدعوة لإحياء المنظمة وتفعيلها قبل أن تتهم الآخرين
"A report by the US National Intelligence Council (NIC) reveals that Egypt may have lost its leading role among Arab states and that power in the Middle East is passing to Saudi Arabia."
"While the US commits 17,000 more troops to Afghanistan, in part to seek out terrorist training camps, many in the US and Latin America are demanding that President Obama shut down what they believe is a terrorist training camp run on US tax dollars, the School of the Americas. One such person is Pablo Ruiz, who spoke to The Real News during his first-ever trip to the US, where, as a survivor of torture carried out by SOA graduates, he is laying out his argument for the immediate closure of the school.
Watch out for Part Two of this interview later this week, addressing the school's current focus and the movement to shut it down."
Global Research, February 25, 2009
"Enough is enough. After 61 years of Palestinian slaughter, displacement, occupation, oppression, and international dismissiveness and complicity, global action is essential. Israel must be held accountable. World leaders won't do it, so grassroots movements must lead the way.
In 2004, Archbishop Desmond Tutu wrote:
"The end of apartheid stands as one of the crowning accomplishments of the past century, but we would not have succeeded without the help of international pressure - in particular the divestment movement of the 1980s. Over the past six months, a similar movement has taken shape, this time aiming at an end to the Israeli occupation."......
Nor can we abstain from boycotting, divesting, sanctioning, and expelling Israel from the UN System until it complies with international law, recognizes Palestinian self-determination, ends its illegal occupation, disbands its settlements, dismantles its Separation Wall, grants Israeli Arabs equal rights as Jews, and lets Palestinian refugees return home to their property or be paid just compensation if they prefer. A vibrant, committed, grassroots global BDS movement is crucial to achieving these goals."
"United States President Barack Obama - even without being an expert on the Afghanistan-Pakistan theater - has got to be clever enough to see the surge there as a suicidal gambit. The problem is that he still seems to believe the war is winnable, and his newest definition for victory is to defeat al-Qaeda. Well, if that is the mission he must pursue, the key is Pakistan, not Afghanistan.....
Everyone's talking about US fighter jets and CIA Predator drones raising hell out of three secret Pakistani air bases - with Islamabad's complicit silence. But nobody talks about the "humint", or human intelligence, component of the US's covert war in Afghanistan, conducted by what the New York Times defines, with spectacular hypocrisy, as "military units operating outside the normal chain of command".
US special forces are part of this deadly mix. A recent UN report identifies these US commandos as the key culprits as far as the killing of Afghan civilians is concerned. Washington happens to identify similar outfits - if they operate under a different banner, or religion - as "terrorists".
In the case of this new American breed, it's fair to expect the Pentagon and the Washington establishment to sooner or later start calling them - in a sinister echo of recent Afghan past - "freedom fighters". "
"Khoza'a, Khan Younis , Gaza Strip: Palestinian farmers, accompanied by international Human Rights Workers (HRWs), were fired upon by Israeli forces in the village of Khozaa, near Khan Younis, this morning. The farmers and HRWs were attempting to work on land around 300m from the Green Line.
Four Palestinian farmers have been shot by Israeli forces while working within 700m of the Green Line since the 27th January 2009. On the 18th February, farm worker Mohammad Il Ibrahim, 20, was shot in the right leg as farmers, together with the international Human Rights Workers, attempted to leave the area having worked on their land for 2 hours in full view of the Israeli forces.
On the 18th January, Maher Abu-Rajileh (24) from Khozaa village, was killed by Israeli soldiers while working on his land 400m from the Green Line. On the 20th January, Israeli soldiers shot Waleed al-Astal (42) of Al Qarara (near Khan Younis) in his right foot, while on the 27th January, Anwar al-Buraim was shot in the neck and killed.
Later on the sameday that this video was filmed, the Israeli Soldiers shot 17 year old Wafa Al Najar from Khoz'a. Wafa was 70 metres from her home, and and 800 metres from the border fence. were 3 shots, a neighbour who was 900 metres away says they were fired from two army jeeps and he saw a soldier shooting from the top of one. The first two bullets hit the ground beside Wafa. The third destroyed her kneecap, and she collapsed to the ground."
"GAZA CITY, Feb 26 (IPS) - Ghalia Hussein's husband refused to evacuate their Rafah home near the Israeli border amid heavy bombardment during the recent 22-day siege. Struck by a missile at the top of their stairs, he bled to death while ambulances attempted to reach him. He left Ghalia three children, a destroyed home, and no income to speak of.
"I had to flee with the children. There was nothing we could do," Ghalia said from the United Nations (UN) school in Rafah where she took refuge during the conflict. "Now, I have nothing. How will we survive?"
Making up half of the coastal enclave's 1.5 million people, Gaza's women - and their children - bore the brunt of Israel's deadly Operation Cast Lead. They are the post-war period's most vulnerable population, says the UN......."
"RAMALLAH, Feb 26 (IPS) - "They started smashing down doors at 2am last Wednesday before moving through homes and destroying property," says the mayor of Jayyus, Muhammed Taher Shamasni....
Jayyus, an agricultural community of 3,500 inhabitants, located in the Qalqiliya district of the northern Palestinian West Bank, was invaded by Israeli soldiers using police dogs and backed by military helicopters.
The village has been the scene of frequent clashes between local youths, their Israeli supporters and international sympathisers on the one hand, and the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) on the other. Dozens protesting Israel's continued expropriation of village land were injured last Friday by Israeli soldiers firing live ammunition, rubber bullets and teargas......"
"......Meanwhile, Egyptian Foreign Minister [Break their legs] Ahmed Aboul Gheit said Egypt was now focusing on Palestinian reconciliation as its top priority, rather than the negotiations on a cease-fire agreement between Israel and Hamas. "We decided perhaps to change our priorities," he said in a press conference. "The first priority was the tahdiyah, followed by the reconciliation, followed by the reconstruction conference, followed by the process of launching the peace efforts again. Today, we are concentrating on the reconciliation, but the cease-fire and the exchange of prisoners is not far from Egyptian efforts."......."
"25/02/2009 Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem said on Wednesday after visiting Saudi Arabia on Tuesday that both Damascus and Riyadh "are working for security and stability in Lebanon and for scheduled parliamentary elections there to go ahead" on June 7.
During a joint press conference with EU Foreign Policy chief Javier Solana in Damascus on Wednesday, Moallem told a news conference in Damascus that Syrian and Saudi officials discussed many regional issues, including the situation in Lebanon....."
"Rival Palestinian movements Fatah and Hamas have agreed on a prisoner swap deal on the eve of a Palestinian unity meeting in Cairo.
The two rivals late Wednesday reached an agreement on resolving their prisoner issues ahead of Thursday's start of reconciliation talks that may pave the way for forming a unity government......"
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
By Mark LeVine
This massively unbalanced mechanism was not only rooted in the financial sector but the manufacturing and service industries as well.
Richard Wolff, a University of Massachusetts economist, says the crisis "grows out of the relation of wages to profits across the economy. It has profound social roots in America's households and families and political roots in government policies".
Since the 1820s, the US economy has experienced steady gains in productivity.
This led not only to steadily increasing profits for corporations but also to rising working class wages and, with it, consumption levels.
As wages and consumption rose, the "Protestant ethic" that had helped to generate capitalism's unprecedented economic power was discarded in favour of an ethic of commodity consumption.
People's identities were now increasingly defined by what they consumed rather than their religious beliefs or social actions.
The size of one's home, car and flat-screen TV, or the price of one's clothes, mobile phones and holidays became of paramount importance.
This economic ideology - based on the possibility, and desirability, of limitless growth - created an ethos of rampant materialism and individualism....
...Obama's biggest challenge, then, will be to figure out how to create millions of jobs while steering the US economy away from the economically and environmentally unsustainable model of growth that helped generate the present crisis.
To do this will require more than spending hundreds of billions of dollars on rebuilding crumbling infrastructure and encouraging "green" technologies.
It will require designing an architecture for a 21st century economy that much more equitably distributes limited resources among an expanding population than has the debt/consumption system that is now collapsing globally.
It is hard to imagine how such a system could be devised, and put in place with public approval in time to stop the projected loss of tens of millions of jobs globally that now seems the likely, if not inevitable, outcome of the current recession
Another weapon which bothers Amnesty is a mysterious munition, filled with cubic particles.While it's impossible to say for certain, we can make a very educated guess that where the shrapnel came from -– and also evaluate the claim about maximum injury.
One likely candidate is the Spike missile, made by the Israeli company Rafael (not to be confused with the U.S. Navy's Spike missile we featured previously) . Originally designed as an anti-tank missile, it is comes in several versions -- including a man-portable one and a vehicle-mounted version. It has also been shown fitted to the Israeli Heron drone. A naval version is featured in this video, being used against targets in Gaza. .......
Perhaps what is more alarming is the number of civilian deaths that Amnesty documents related to the new weapon. This type of ultra-precise strike capability is supposed to limit collateral damage and civilian casualties. But, as with the "focused lethality" DIME weapon, this does not seem to be happening. So we turn once again to Garlasco's comment, from an earlier conflict:
"It is unfortunate that these weapons are being developed specifically for use in densely populated areas which may negate the intended effect.""
Nobel Prize-Winning Economist Joseph Stiglitz: Obama Has Confused Saving the Banks with Saving the Bankers
With Amy Goodman
"We get reaction to President Obama’s speech from Nobel economics laureate and former World Bank chief economist, Joseph Stiglitz. Stiglitz says the Obama administration has failed to address the structural and regulatory flaws at the heart of the financial crisis that stand in the way of economic recovery. Stiglitz also talks about why he thinks Obama’s strategy on Afghanistan is wrong and that Obama’s plan to keep a “residual force” in Iraq will be “very expensive…the result of that is the savings that they had hoped won’t materialize.” On healthcare, Stiglitz says a single payer system is “the only alternative.”......"
With Amy Goodman
"We speak to former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and former president of Ireland, Mary Robinson. Robinson is president of the International Commission of Jurists, which has released a report that finds the so-called war on terror has eroded human rights worldwide. Robinson also addresses the ongoing Israeli siege of Gaza and takeover of the West Bank, the need for an independent investigation of Bush administration crimes, the global economic meltdown, and the humanitarian crisis in the Democratic Republic of Congo...."
"BAGHDAD - Iraqi policemen shot dead four US soldiers and their local interpreter in the main northern city of Mosul on Tuesday, an interior ministry official said.
"Four US soldiers and their Iraqi interpreter were killed by two Iraqi policemen who opened fire at them in the Dawasa district of (central) Mosul and then fled," the official told AFP, declining to be named...."
By NADIA HIJAB
"......No mention is made of the fact that an informal ceasefire between Israel and the PLO had kept the border quiet for nine whole months. Then Defence Minister Ariel Sharon used the excuse of an attack on the Israeli ambassador to London by a renegade Palestinian group -- one that was also anti-PLO -- to launch his Lebanon invasion.
Does any of this sound familiar? In December 2008, Sharon's political heirs launched a hellish assault on Gaza ostensibly to stop the rockets against Israel's southern towns. Yet an informal ceasefire between Israel and Hamas that began in June 2008 had brought quiet to those towns -- until an Israeli incursion on November 4 killed six Hamas fighters and led to a resumption of rockets, providing the excuse for the assault.
Waltz does not question the reasons for the Lebanon war, or even Israel's role beyond its "indirect responsibility," as an Israeli inquiry put it, for the massacre at Sabra and Shatila at the end of the war. But some 18,000 Lebanese and Palestinians were killed during the 3-month war for which Israel was directly responsible......"
"Angry protesters are taking to the streets in cities across the world - a perilous consequence of the crash of 2008 is increased civil unrest and ethnic strife. Governments are talking of "swollen rivers of anger" and "summers of rage", and it could get a lot worse......"
Apartheid Week Poster by Carlos Latuff
"Over 40 universities in Canada will be participating in activities to mark 'Israeli Apartheid Week', beginning on Sunday. Students from the participating universities are calling for a boycott of Israeli academic and cultural institutions until Israel ends, what they call, apartheid policies against the Palestinians....."
"Sunday evening the Women's International Zionist Organization and other pro-Zionist groups organized a meeting in Amsterdam with Ron Edelheit, an IDF spokesperson, as speaker. Edelheit was one of the people who rushed to Sderot during the Gaza massacre and contributed to the Israeli propaganda machine. According to international law and elementary moral values he should be considered a war criminal.
When activists received word of this war criminal coming to Amsterdam they organized, and succeeded in convincing the hotel where the meeting was planned originally to cancel his talk. A different "high society" hotel - the Apollo hotel - was more than willing to give this criminal room for his propaganda, though. Outside more than 50 protesters were shouting and handing out leaflets. Even the people inside the hotel had to acknowledge that there were more people outside protesting than inside attending the talk. This was not all though......"
For Freedom and Justice.For Palestina.Amsterdam 22.02.09
"NAZARETH, ISRAEL // It is not entirely surprising that Amos Gilad, an Israeli general who once sued his own government for “irreversible mental damage” caused by his role in the 1982 invasion of Lebanon, has publicly courted controversy again.
On Monday, Ehud Olmert, Israel’s outgoing prime minister, suspended Mr Gilad as his envoy to Egypt, responsible for negotiating a ceasefire with Hamas, after Mr Gilad called the prime minister’s truce conditions “insane”......
However, the false intelligence revelations, as well as claims of mental impairment, did little to dent Mr Gilad’s subsequent influence. He went on to become the army’s co-ordinator in the occupied territories and helped Mr Barak’s successor, Ariel Sharon, engineer the reoccupation of the West Bank and crush the Palestinian Authority.
He also promoted the view that Israel was on the front line in the “war on terror”. In Feb 2003, a month before the US invasion of Iraq, he stated that Mr Arafat and Iraq’s dictator, Saddam Hussein, “believe in the same path, the path of terror meant to break Israel”......"
Jordan Flaherty, The Electronic Intifada, 24 February 2009
"In neighborhoods around New Orleans, there's a buzz of excitement gathering among this city's Arab population. A new wave of organizing has brought energy and inspiration to a community that is usually content to stay in the background. The movement is youth-led, with student groups rising up on college campuses across the city, but also broad-based, with mass protests that have included more than a thousand persons marching through downtown's French Quarter. Activists say that their goal is to fight against what they see as a combination of silence and bias from local media, and -- more broadly -- for a change in US policy towards the Middle East. They take inspiration from other movements in the city -- joining in the struggle against the continued displacement of much of the city as well as the slow pace of recovery -- while also following activism across the US and around the world...."
Eva Bartlett writing from the occupied Gaza Strip, Live from Palestine, 24 February 2009
(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 the Gaza Strip after having arrived with the third Free Gaza Movement boat in November. She has been working with the International Solidarity Movement in Gaza, accompanying ambulances while witnessing and documenting the ongoing Israeli air strikes and ground invasion of the Gaza Strip.)
"Amer al-Helo smiled wanly while saying he is broken inside. Twenty days after Israeli soldiers shot dead his 55-year-old father and his one-year-old daughter in front of him, also shooting his oldest daughter in the elbow and his brother in the shoulder, the pain of the 29-year-old had not diminished. Then again, he'd only just recovered the rotting corpse of his father six days earlier; his entire area of Gaza City's Zeitoun neighborhood had been cut off from ambulances and emergency teams until Israel unilaterally declared an end to the extensive bombing of Gaza and pulled ground troops out of occupied areas on 18 January.
"It was a nightmare," al-Helo said of the experience. From the afternoon of 3 January until 5am the next day there was "non-stop shelling in our area. We had F-16 firing missiles out front, tanks shelling all around.".....
A shattered al-Helo added, "You couldn't ask me anything more painful: to see my father shot before me, my daughter. To hear her cries. They killed me three times those two days, you know: first they killed my brother, then my father, then my daughter.""
By Justin Raimondo
".....To listen to Andrei Illarionov tell it, however, we don't have enough enemies. One more needs to be added to the list, and that is Russia.......
.......Russia is emerging from the nightmare of Communism astonishingly intact. It's a miracle the country survived the Yeltsin years, when the nation was looted by "former" communist apparatchiks who seized control of the nation's resources in a series of rigged "privatizations." There is hardly any democratic tradition in Russia, and liberalism is a minority viewpoint rather than the majority mindset: long-standing habits die hard, particularly in a nation as mired in history and tragedy as Russia. Given all this, it's amazing they have elections – relatively free and open ones – in Russia at all. It wasn't so long ago that Stalin's gulags held millions. Now Illarionov wants us to go to war with the Kremlin over a grand total of 80 "political prisoners" of dubious provenance. What a joke – except nobody's laughing. These are deadly serious matters, and it's disturbing that Congress would even entertain the rantings of someone so manifestly un-serious."
"......The bottom line is simple: Richard Perle is lying. What is disturbing about this case is is not that a former official is trying to falsify the record in such a brazen fashion; Perle is hardly the first policymaker to kick up dust about his record and he certainly won't be the last. The real cause for concern is that there are hardly any consequences for the critical role that Perle and the neoconservatives played for their pivotal role in causing one of the great foreign policy disasters in American history. If somebody can help engineer a foolish war and remain a respected Washington insider -- as is the case with Perle -- what harm is likely to befall them if they lie about it later?......."
guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 24 February 2009
"If the EU has an answer to the intensifying financial firestorm in eastern Europe, it is keeping it to itself. But the longer member states fiddle about, the greater the risk of a pan-continental conflagration – and of lasting damage to the EU's core aspiration for wider and deeper union.....
In other words, faith in the vision of a Europe whole and free is in danger of eroding. The crash of '09, not unlike previous historical calamities, is calling into question the future of a united Europe."
- السعي نحو القطبية- العضوية في الرباعية- تأييد إسرائيل- شك روسيا في الأحزاب والدول الإسلامية- التجربة السوفياتية مع العرب
" هل علمت روسيا بأن إسرائيل قد شنت حربا على غزة؟ يبدو أن الروس قد تعمدوا تجاهل الحرب على غزة على الرغم من أنهم عضو في الرباعية الدولية التي من المفترض أنها ستأتي بحلول للقضية الفلسطينية.
لم نسمع خلال الحرب من قادة الروس تعليقات إلا النزر اليسير الذي لا يشكل سياسة روسية أو موقفا روسيا واضحا تتبناه موسكو وتدافع عنه. فقد قال أحد قادة الروس بأن على حماس أن تتوقف عن إطلاق الصواريخ على إسرائيل، لكن هذا القول لم يرتق إلى سياسة روسية تؤدي إلى حراك سياسي ونشاط دبلوماسي.
وقف الإعلام الروسي مع إسرائيل إلا فضائية روسيا اليوم التي تبث بالعربية وبعض وسائل الإعلام غير الأساسية، ودافع عن أهداف إسرائيل من ضرب المقاومة والقضاء على الصواريخ.
وقال بمجمله إن الإرهاب الفلسطيني هو السبب في الحرب، وإن من حق إسرائيل أن تدافع عن نفسها بمختلف الوسائل.
روسيا لها حساباتها الإقليمية والدولية، وهي لا ترغب في اتخاذ قرارات هناك شك في استمرارية نهج تتطلبه، وهي ليست جاهزة بعد لكي تكون لها كلمة مسموعة في كل أنحاء الأرض، إذ هناك ما تقدر عليه مثل جورجيا، وهناك ما يدعوها إلى التريث مثل التدخل الواسع في أميركا الجنوبية.
هذا ينطبق على منطقتنا العربية الإسلامية التي يضاف إليها خذلان الأنظمة العربية لشعوبها، وعدم جديتها في مواجهة إسرائيل. (ولو) كنت روسيا لسألت نفسي: لماذا أقدم دعما لمقاومة عربية تقف أنظمة عربية ضدها، وتشجع إسرائيل على محاربتها؟
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
As Israel is becoming more and more difficult to defend, a growing number of young Jews are expressing staunch opposition to the Israeli government and Zionism, shouting "not in my name!" for all the world to hear.
Hannah Mermelstein is one of these young Jews. Together with co-founder Dunya Alwan, Murmelstein created an organization called Birthright Unplugged in 2005, in part to counter Birthright Israel and the skewed picture it paints in the minds of young Jews.
Open to both Jews and non-Jews, Birthright Unplugged takes participants to see the devastating effects that Zionist colonization and occupation have had on the Palestinian people in the West Bank and within what is now the state of Israel.
"Zionism is failing. It's on the decline." says Mermelstein. "Our role is to speed up the fall of Zionism," she added, “while at the same time standing in solidarity with the Palestinian struggle to survive and resist Zionist policy."
So while Birthright Israel continues to bring thousands of Jews around the world on their “birthright” each year, the mounting frequency of Diaspora Jews to unplug from Zionism and emotionally divest from Israel is emerging as a serious challenge to the Zionist project and its infrastructure of indoctrination.
Iranian officials made the request while George Bush was in office, Erdogan said, adding that he had passed the message to the White House at the time. He said he was considering raising the matter with Barack Obama, who has said he wants to engage with Iran at a G20 summit in London in April.
• Product gets Fairtrade certification for first time
guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 24 February 2009
"In an unintended consequence of Israel's offensive in Gaza last month, sales of Palestinian olive oil in Britain are soaring, importers have said....."
by Ann Wright
"How do you rebuild 5,000 homes, businesses and government buildings when the only way supplies come into the prison called Gaza is through tunnels. Will the steel I-beams for roofs bend 90 degrees to go through the tunnels from Egypt? Will the tons of cement, lumber, roofing materials, nails, dry wall and paint be hauled by hand, load after load, 70 feet underground, through a tunnel 500 to 900 feet long and then pulled up a 70 foot hole and put into waiting truck in Gaza?....."
By PAUL CRAIG ROBERTS
(Cartoon by Khalil Bendib)
If truth be known, the “banking problem” is the least of our worries. Our economy faces two much more serious problems. One is that offshoring and H-1b visas have stopped the growth of family incomes, except, of course, for the super rich. To keep the economy going, consumers have gone deeper into debt, maxing out their credit cards and refinancing their homes and spending the equity. Consumers are now so indebted that they cannot increase their spending by taking on more debt. Thus, whether or not the banks resume lending is beside the point.
The other serious problem is the status of the US dollar as reserve currency....."
By JONATHAN COOK
".....Sitting in her home in Nazareth, the effective capital of Israel’s 1.2 million Palestinian citizens, she is dismissive of her predecessors, two women elected on behalf of Zionist parties. “They were worse than decorations,” she said. “Decorations don’t do any harm, but these women damaged our society. They were no role models at all.”......
But she is critical of the Palestinian minority’s dominant political demand for many decades: equality. “The struggle solely for equality treats me as a number, it reduces me to part of a mathematical formula. It ignores my history, identity and narrative as a Palestinian. I want to be a full Israeli citizen, but it must not come at the expense of my people’s collective rights to an identity and a past.”"
With Amy Goodman
"The Obama administration has revamped the terms of its emergency aid to troubled financial firms that could lead to the government nationalizing some of the country’s largest banks. With nationalized banks on the horizon, we speak to Robert Johnson, former chief economist of the Senate Banking Committee, and former investment banker turned journalist, Nomi Prins..."
"The US is fighting against many fragmented groups along Afghanistan's north-eastern border.
Many of them fight under the Taliban leadership, but are not themselves Taliban.
But Whether you can deal with the Taliban as one entity remains to be seen....."
"Inside Story looks at the eviction of 1500 Palestinians from East Jerusalem and the prospect for peace under Netanyahu's leadership. "
"Reporting independently from the front lines of war is an increasingly rare engagement for journalists working for major international media outlets. From Iraq to Afghanistan, reporters are increasingly embedded with Western military forces, operating without independence.
When Israeli military forces launched an invasion into the Gaza Strip, international journalists were barred entry into the territory by the Israeli government for the majority of the conflict, despite a ruling from the Israeli Supreme Court that called on the government to allow international reporters into the territory. Major international media outlets, including CNN and the BBC, ended up reporting from hilltops in Israeli-controlled territory kilometres away from the actual conflict.
British journalist Robert Fisk has offered fiercely independent accounts of conflicts throughout the Middle East for decades. Stationed in Beirut, Lebanon, Fisk reports for the UK-based Independent newspaper and is widely read around the world. Fisk spoke with community activist and journalist Stefan Christoff about the media response to the recent war on Gaza......."
"In an apparent effort to sound “balanced” and “unbiased,” the London-based human rights group, Amnesty International ( AI ) , has urged the international community to halt arms sales to the Israeli apartheid regime and the Palestinian Islamic liberation movement, Hamas.
A report issued by the group on Sunday, 22 February, pointed out that arms supplied to “the two sides” were used in attacks on civilians and civilian objects” which constituted war crimes.
Non the less, a careful examination of the report shows a clear propensity on the part of AI to create a false symmetry between Hamas, a small liberation movement resisting a decades-old Nazi-like foreign military occupation, and Israel, a manifestly criminal state armed to the teeth, which has been committing every conceivable crime under the sun for the purpose of maintaining its colonialist occupation and brutal domination over the Palestinian people......
Indeed, instead of blaming the victims for resisting their oppressors, the world, including AI , ought to tell Israel that it can’t just incarcerate 1.5 million civilians within the confines of an open-air prison, surrounded by barbed wire, watchtowers, tanks, landmines, and other state-of-the-art machines of death, and then expect the victims to display love and understanding toward their tormentors and oppressors.
Israel did transform the Gaza Strip into a real concentration camp, by denying the prisoner population access to fuel, electricity, food, medicine, medical care, and basic consumer products.
Meanwhile, the Israeli death machine never stopped murdering innocent Palestinians, nearly on a daily basis......"