Saturday, December 18, 2010
Hedges delivered a rousing speech about the nature of hope (in contrast to what certain campaign slogans might have suggested in recent years), pointing out that “hope has a cost, hope is not comfortable,” before joining other supporters of Veterans for Peace who chained themselves to the White House fence. When asked why he chose that course of action, Hedges replied, “Because it’s all we have left at this point. ... The normal mechanisms by which democratic participation are rendered possible in this country have been closed shut, and if we don’t do this, we die. This is what’s left of hope in this country.”....."
AN EXCELLENT VIDEO:
(Click on cartoon by Khalil Bendib to enlarge)
"Can anything be more dismal than prospects for any decent resolution of the Israel/Palestine issue? Seemingly not. The hopes of January, 2009, at the dawn of Obama’s presidency, are dead. Washington has now given up all efforts to restart the direct Israeli-Palestinian talks and has wearily begun a new round of mediated talks instead.
Across the past two months Obama inscribed one solid achievement in history’s ledger, where all said the feat would be impossible. He actually raised the bar for Presidential acts of craven ass-kissing towards Israel. In mid-November he was offering the Israelis $3 billion to pretend for 90 days that they'd stopped settlement construction. The Israelis would be paid $33 million per day for every day they agree to back the lie he is suggesting.
There has been no limit to the servility of Washington to Tel Aviv. On July 8 the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz revealed that the Obama Administration was planning to start transferring nuclear fuel to Israel in order to build up Tel Aviv’s nuclear stockpile. In other words, amid an unrelenting campaign against Iran -- the Wikileaks files reveal it to be the US’ prime diplomatic obsession – for enriching uranium and planning to make a nuclear bomb, Washington is flouting the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) by aiding Israel’s nuclear weapons program......
....but what alternatives are there? 2010 has been the year when the phrase “peace process” have been definitively exposed as the fraud it always was. There’s nowhere to go but up. "
"WASHINGTON - The Barack Obama administration's claim of "progress" in its war strategy is based on the military seizure of three rural districts outside Kandahar City in October.
But those tactical gains have come at the price of further exacerbating the basic U.S. strategic weakness in Afghanistan - the antagonism toward the foreign presence shared throughout the Pashtun south.
The military offensive in Kandahar, which had been opposed clearly and vocally by the local leadership in the province, was accompanied by an array of military tactics marked by increased brutality. The most prominent of those tactics was a large-scale demolition of homes [Just like the IOF] that has left widespread bitterness among the civilians who had remained in their villages when the U.S.-NATO offensive was launched, as well as those who had fled before the offensive.
The unprecedented home demolition policy and other harsh tactics used in the offensive suggest that Gen. Petraeus has abandoned the pretense that he will ever win over the population in those Taliban strongholds....."
AN IMPORTANT PIECE
By Kim Sengupta, Defence Correspondent
".....Now the fate of the whistleblowing website’s founder, Julian Assange, who has very much held the centre-stage, lies in the hands of the 23-year-old former army intelligence analyst.
Yesterday US sources revealed that prosecutors are awaiting a decision from the American Attorney-General, Eric Holder, on what form of plea bargaining they should offer to Manning in return for him incriminating Mr Assange as a fellow conspirator in disseminating the classified information.
Officials at the US Justice Department, who are under acute pressure to prosecute, privately acknowledge that a conviction against Mr Assange would be extremely difficult if he was simply the passive recipient of the material disseminated by Private Manning. Any evidence that he had actively facilitated the leak, however, would make extradition and a successful case much more feasible.
Friends of Private Manning stress that so far he has refused to co-operate with the prosecutors. However, they also say that after seven months of solitary confinement in at the Quantico Marine Base in Virginia he is in an increasingly fragile condition....."
"...It was fascinating, though, to watch Hillary Clinton initially denouncing the WikiLeaks flood as an "attack on the international community". She twice warned journalists that they might also find their names in the embassy cables – so no more bleating about freedom of the press when WikiLeaks might betray the warriors of the media..........
That La Clinton should want her State Department slaves to play secret agents on the poor old UN donkey – the beast that forever clip-clops on stage to mop up America's failed policies in the Middle East, this decrepit skyscraper on the East River packed with enough asbestos to kill a nation of peacekeepers, this bureaucratic shambles with its pathetic Secretary-General whose English is still in need of vast improvement – shows what an utterly worthless institution the US State Department has become......
By Patrick Cockburn
"During the mid-1960s, America's goal during a crucial stage in the Vietnam war was to defeat the enemy militarily. But it had no realistic political strategy to underpin the goal, and it was this which ultimately led to failure.
America's strategy in Afghanistan is now suffering from a similar weakness. Barack Obama made the edgy claim this week that the US army is stabilising the military situation, but neither he nor his national security advisers show any signs of understanding the speed at which,politically, the US is losing ground.
Again and again in Kabul one hears Afghans say that the Taliban may not be liked, but that the Afghan government and its US allies are increasingly distrusted, even hated, by the mass of the population.....
Body counts of enemy dead, a notorious and discredited measure of success in Vietnam, are back in favour. The US military proudly announced this week that it had killed 952 Taliban and captured 2,469 in the 90 days up to the beginning of December. One general boasted: "Every 24 hours on average, we're killing three to five mid-level enemy leaders."
Bizarrely, it is the US commander in Afghanistan, David Petraeus, who is leader of this campaign which aims for success through military force alone....."
Afua Hirsch, legal affairs correspondent
guardian.co.uk, Friday 17 December 2010
"The international criminal court has proved one of the most controversial international institutions since its creation in 2002, drawing fire from some for its exclusive focus on Africa, and accused by others of pursuing the policy objectives of America and Europe.
But America has also been hostile to the court, refusing to join it for fear its own citizens could be put on trial for war crimes. The cables reveal American preoccupation with the personalities in the court and an attempt to discern their views on Iraq from the outset.
One cable, sent in July 2003, three months after Luis Moreno-Ocampo was elected as chief prosecutor, offered an "early glimpse" into his stance and reveals American unease about the possibility that he could pursue cases over British actions in Iraq....."
guardian.co.uk, Friday 17 December 2010
"WikiLeaks may be breaking new ground to promote freedom of information by releasing leaked US diplomatic cables, but Arab governments have been resorting to old tricks to ensure that nothing too damaging reaches their subjects.
Friday, December 17, 2010
Bolivia has recognized a sovereign Palestinian state on the 1967 borders with Israel, following neighboring Brazil and Argentina's suit.
Bolivian President Evo Morales made the announcement during a conference with regional leaders in Brazil on Friday, the Palestinian Authority's Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
Listen to This Idiot From Hamas (Former "Foreign Minister"): Time is on our Side, Says Hamas Leader Zahar
".....Hamas says it has adhered to the ceasefire it negotiated after Israel's 22-day war on Gaza which ended in January 2009, and Zahar said the group had no intention of violating it. "We are here, and really we have to reconstruct what was destroyed by Israel -- houses, hospitals, schools." He pledged Hamas would continue to "resist the occupation" but insisted resistance was more than military confrontation. "One of the methods of resistance is to reject the occupation as an idea [Wow! What a revolutionary idea; why didn't I think of that??], one is to educate yourself and your people in their culture[such as wearing the burka? Now that is resistance; yes sir! Does that also include oppressing Palestinian women? That is a higher level of resistance!], one is to prepare yourself for the war if it happens. "This," he said, "is resistance.""
With Amy Goodman
"WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been freed from a London prison after a High Court ruled he could be released on bail. Assange spent the past nine days in solitary confinement following his arrest on an international warrant to face sex crimes allegations in Sweden. In a brief statement outside the courthouse, Assange thanked his supporters and vowed to continue his work..."
"Julian Assange is a free man for now, and the emperor's frustrated fury is a palpable thing. Washington is frantically seeking a way to put a legal veneer on its drive to strap Assange and WikiLeaks to the waterboard. If it succeeds, the tattered remnants of our press freedoms will be going under too...."
"Over the past month, journalist and activist Jody McIntyre has joined a growing number of students, workers, activists and others in the United Kingdom in protesting a government decision to cut public sector funding, especially in the field of education. Last week, as tens of thousands of students took to the streets of central London, parliament voted in favor of a plan that will raise tuition fees by 300 percent.
Jody, who spent months alongside Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip protesting the Israeli occupation, has been a frequent contributor to The Electronic Intifada. Now back in London, Jody has been attending and reporting on the various student-led protests and other actions against the government's spending cuts. EI's Matthew Cassel spoke with Jody at his south London home......"
By Ali Abunimah
Israel's deputy minister of foreign affairs, Danny Ayalon, paints a picture of an innocent Israel yearning for peace, virtually begging the intransigent Palestinians to come negotiate so there can be a "two-states-for-two-peoples solution" ("Who's stopping the peace process?" Dec. 14). But it's one that bears no resemblance to the realities Palestinians experience and much of the world sees every day......"
"In a talk at the Dubai School of Government in May of this year James Zogby analyzes the business environment in the Arabian Gulf states that make up the Gulf Cooperation Council. He does not mention that governance in the UAE and the other Gulf states he discusses in this video is tribal, anachronistic, corrupt, and autocratic, but these omissions are the least troubling aspect of his talk. Zogby’s discussion is based on interviews with 150 senior executives in “Saudi Arabia”, Qatar, and the UAE which in those countries means 150 spoiled brats that are the sons, nephews, and friends of Zogby’s beloved oil-Sheiks. As usual Zogby is armed with scientific polling data to support his latest assertions about a trivial matter nobody cares about, in this instance to defend the Sheikdom of his favorite Arab Emir, and concludes public opinion in the Gulf firmly believes “The UAE sets the standard for being business friendly” (5:10). Zogby does not tell us if being “business friendly” includes promoting sex tourism, trafficking in women, and exploiting foreign laborers all of which also go unmentioned.
Zogby then goes on to say (5:20) that in the future further probing to determine what “business friendly” actually means would be well advised. We at IKHRAS have taken Jim’s advice and looked into what business friendly practices actually means in the UAE.
To help us answer the question Jim suggested deserves further inquiry, and better understand the business friendly practices of the city-state, we turned to a reliable source, a member of the UAE ruling family, Sheikh (“Shake” as Jim says) Issa Bin Zayed Al-Nahyan. In the video above the Prince, the brother of the UAE’s crown-Prince, mercilessly tortures a helpless Afghan with whips, electric cattle prods, and wooden planks with protruding nails. The Afghan was beaten to near death as a result of a business dispute.
So now we know what “business friendly” actually means in the UAE. This also helped us shed even more light on the corrosive impact oil-Sheiks have on the cheap and opportunistic members of the “Arab Lobby” in Washington best personified in the despicable James Zogby."
guardian.co.uk, Thursday 16 December 2010
Thursday, December 16, 2010
"LONDON - London's High Court granted WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange bail Thursday after rejecting an appeal to keep him in jail while he fights extradition to Sweden to answer allegations of sex crimes.
The 39-year-old Australian was in court to hear the judge reject an appeal on behalf of Swedish prosecutors against a ruling Tuesday by a lower court that he be bailed.
"I am going to grant conditional bail," judge Duncan Ouseley said.....
Inside, the judge rejected the assertion by British lawyers acting on behalf of Sweden that Assange was a flight risk.
"The court does not approach this case on the basis that this is a fugitive from justice who seeks to avoid interrogation and prosecution," the judge said.
Another condition of bail was that Assange live at the country estate of Vaughan Smith, an ex-British army officer who founded the Frontline Club, a media club in London where WikiLeaks has based part of its operations......"
"It has been observed that the elites that prowl the streets of the nation’s capital and proliferate in the universities and think tanks nationwide have little in common with most of the American people. The talking heads whose fraternal banter can be best observed on Sunday morning television represent the inner circle punditry, all of whom embrace the view that the United States should be engaged worldwide and forever for the good of mankind, a view that large portions of the public do not necessarily share as the economy sinks and boys and girls from small towns are increasingly coming home in coffins. Of course, among the advantages in being a television personality are a high income and status, good benefits, and relative job security, particularly if one is prepared to stroke the powers that be, underlining the fact that inside-the-Washington-beltway reality has little to do with the rest of the world.....
To his credit, Steve Clemons has thought long and agonizingly about the Middle East imbroglio and has done some excellent work in debunking the global war on terror but his desire to craft a solution based on accepted notions about the Palestine-Israel conflict means that he will never grasp the nettle. The Washington Note should not really be blamed for its failure to understand that there is no peace process apart from a permanent bureaucratic engagement intended to go nowhere while Israel steals more Arab land. Even if there were such a thing, no one in Washington would be serious about it anyway. The Note‘s failure is intrinsic in that it does not dare to challenge why Washington should be involved in the conflict in the first place. To do so would question the fundamental operating principle of Washington’s elites, always eager to back global interventionism and the huge cash flows that imperialism generates. To discern what everyone outside Washington sees clearly requires stepping back and observing that Emperor Obama has no clothes, and nor does anyone else in the Washington establishment, something difficult for a beltway insider to assimilate. It means admitting that there is no longer any rational and sustainable foreign policy being generated by the elites who surface in The Washington Note and just about everywhere else in the media. If the Note were to make that indigestible point, all the obliging insiders that currently provide their valuable insights to give the blog its gravitas would melt away, so it is an observation that will never be made.....
.....If there has been any lesson emerging from WikiLeaks it is that the corruption in Washington goes down to the bone, starting with the politicians, working its way through the bureaucrats, and ending up with the enabling media and think tank experts. It would be worthwhile listening to some of them if they were making sense but their real objective is to sell the establishment line, a viewpoint that they passionately share because it gives them their status and a high standard of living...."
The Guardian, Thursday 16 December 2010
" The Middle East peace process died a quiet, undramatic death with the statement last week that the US had given up trying to persuade Binyamin Netanyahu to stop building on occupied land as a prerequisite to direct talks with the Palestinians. Few, however, are interested in burying the corpse.
guardian.co.uk, Thursday 16 December 2010
"While the US has given up pressing for a freeze on illegal settlement building, one Israeli minister has been cranking up the volume on an issue he apparently considers more pressing. The deputy foreign minister, Danny Ayalon, recently launched a new initiative to demand that Palestinians "recognise Jews who exiled from Arab lands as refugees".....
There are significant points to make about the Jewish experience in Arab lands, caught in the crossfire of both Zionism and Arab nationalism: you could, for instance, look at why some Arab governments at the time did not handle the issue smartly, why they sacrificed Jewish communities for short-term political expediency, or did not sufficiently resist the rapid conflation of "Jewish" with "Zionist".
You could also flip it around, and explore how much resistance existed in those countries, among Jews and Muslims alike, to the idea of Jews leaving Arab countries, or review how this departure was experienced as a loss, for both sides.
Or – and this is deeply unfashionable – you could study the long, vibrant experience of Jewish life in the Arab world and ask what went right, as a way of seeking templates for how to make things right again.
There's no space for any of that in the "Jewish refugee" frame as endorsed by the Israeli government. And that's yet another reason why it is so wrong-headed, anachronistic and possibly the worst sort of advocacy for Middle Eastern Jews."
"The US government should not prosecute WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange for releasing classified US State Department cables as this would imperil media freedom everywhere, Human Rights Watch said in a letter today to President Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder. Human Rights Watch urged the US government to reject overbroad interpretations of national security that clash with the freedom of expression guarantees of the US Constitution and international law.
"......Sayyed Nasrallah stressed “we have bargained on the resistance and we’ve triumphed. The people of Palestine will also triumph as long as there is will and determination.”
The S.G. reminded of the recent Israeli threats to Lebanon and firmly said that “such threats don’t scare us and cannot weaken our will. The time when you could scare us is over. Today, we stand in the position of realizing victory. Israeli that is threatening the resistance was defeated by this same resistance in 1993, in 2000, and in 2006. The resistance has defeated all of your generals and will do so again. These threats are a pitiful psychological war that can never have any effect on our hearts and minds. We tell the Zionists that we are in our best shape, our morale has never been better and our preparations and ability to confront you are optimum.”
His eminence underlined Hezbollah’s adherence to the well being of Lebanon and to national unity as well as the sound and humane relationship between the components of the Lebanese people. “We adhere to this dear country which we sacrificed for and we will always be ready to sacrifice for. We declare our rejection to strife between Sunnis and Shiites and we stress the necessity to confront any plans to sow sedition by the US and Israel. We have never resorted to instigation; in fact we believe that those who resort to sectarian instigation are weak. What we need today is to be conscious and overcome challenges. The new conspiracy has an international title and it is meant to target Lebanon and the resistance. We have spoken elaborately about so called Special Tribunal for Lebanon in the past few months. We refuse to be falsely accused and we shall thwart the objectives behind such indictment. We will protect our country against sedition and the conspirators. The conspiracy of the STL will go with the wind just like the fate of previous conspiracies.”......"
كان كثيرون قد أخذوا يعتقدون أن جهود بعض "معتدلي" حماس الرامية لإضفاء مزيد من المرونة على مواقف الحركة قد آتت أكلها في قطاع غزة. فما قاله إسماعيل هنية أمام مراسلي وسائل الإعلام الأجنبية مطلع هذا الشهر كان جديدا إلى حد ما، ولا نعرف إن كان قد نسق ما قال مع بقية أركان القيادة في قطاع غزة والضفة الغربية والخارج والسجون، أم اكتفى بالتنسيق مع مستشاره القادم من أميركا الذي يعتقد أنه سيأتي بما لم يأت به الأوائل فيما يتصل بتعقيدات القضية الفلسطينية، وأنه سيكون أذكى من ياسر عرفات وكل الذين مضوا في طريق الحل السياسي من بعده فما حصدوا غير الوهم والخيبة
جديد هنية كان الحديث عن استفتاء على الحل في الداخل والخارج سبق أن رفضته حماس، وفي حال قبل به الشعب الفلسطيني، فإن حماس ستوافق عليه كما قال، وهذا نوع من الذكاء الذي تفتق عنه عقل المستشارين إياهم للالتفاف على سؤال الاعتراف الذي ظل يواجه الحركة، وما زالت ترفضه حتى هذه اللحظة.
الآن، ومن خلال "بروباغندا" قوية تستثمر تصريحات من هذا القائد من حماس أو ذاك، حاولت حركة فتح وتحاول إقناع الجميع بأن الحركة على استعداد للاعتراف بالكيان الصهيوني، وأنها تخفي ما لا تعلن، واستغلت في هذا السياق ما نسبته إحدى وثائق ويكيليكس لأمير قطر نقلا عن السيناتور الأميركي جون كيري من أن الحركة على استعداد لتقديم ذلك الاعتراف، الأمر الذي نفته أيضا
في المقابل تستحق تصريحات هنية وعموم المواقف المشابهة بعض الملاحظات، أولاها أنها تأتي مثل عادة كل التراجعات السابقة أمام جهات أجنبية (كانوا إعلاميين هذه المرة)، ما يذكرنا بتجربة حركة فتح التي دفعت هذه التنازلات وبهذه الطريقة، ودائما في ظل الضغوط والحصار حتى لا يتحدث أحد عن الحصار والضغوط التي تتعرض لها حماس من أجل تقديم بعض التنازلات.
ملاحظة هامة هنا تتعلق بسؤال الكيفية التي تدار من خلالها المسائل الإستراتيجية في الحركة، إذ لا ينبغي أن تكرر حماس تجربة فتح التي كان عناصرها يفاجئون بالتراجعات دون مقدمات، وأحيانا ببعض المقدمات، ثم تفرض بالطريقة البهلوانية المعروفة من خلال أطر الحركة، وتاليا المجلس الوطني لإقرارها من قبل منظمة التحرير.
الأصل أن يكون لحماس آلية واضحة في تحديد المواقف الهامة والكبيرة، وفي المسائل الإستراتيجية لا بد من استفتاء قواعد الحركة، إذ كيف يجرى استفتاء من هذا النوع فيما يتصل بقرار دخول الانتخابات، ثم يفاجئ إسماعيل هنية جميع أبناء الحركة في كل المواقع بتراجع من ذلك النوع (مسألة الاستفتاء) دون تشاور مع أحد؟
الملاحظة التي لا تقل أهمية تتعلق بالعجز المؤسف عن قراءة تجارب الآخرين، إذ إننا هنا إزاء قوم يجربون المجرب، و"من يجرب المجرب عقله مخرب" كما يقول المثل الشعبي، لأن سياسة التراجع هذه لم تجد نفعا في حالة فتح، وهي لن تجدي في حالة حماس، لأن الصهاينة ليسوا (ضمن الظرف الراهن) في وارد منح الفلسطينيين دولة كاملة السيادة على أراضي عام 67 بما فيها القدس، مع حق عودة اللاجئين، بل حتى من دون حق عودة اللاجئين.
ولو كان لدى نتنياهو أقل من ذلك لعانقه محمود عباس صباح الغد ووقع معه الاتفاق، أعني لو منحه جزءًا من القدس الشرقية مع سيادة ليست كاملة على حدود 67، وبموافقة على بقاء الكتل الاستيطانية الكبيرة في الضفة تحت مسمى تبادل الأراضي (لم يحتمل الصهاينة دراسة تؤكد أن حائط البراق ليس يهوديا فاضطرت السلطة إلى إزالتها من موقع وزارة الإعلام).
والحق أننا إزاء تنازلات مجانية تحرق الشعبية ولا تحقق شيئا، اللهم إلا بعض الابتسامات من طرف بعض الغربيين، أكانوا سياسيين سابقين أم حاليين، أم باحثين ومفكرين، وكلهم كما يعرف العقلاء يأتون وفي عقلهم شيء واحد هو أن حماس، وكما كل الحركات الراديكالية في العالم، ليست عصية على التدجين، وحين يسمعون أمثال أحمد يوسف يقول لهم بصراحة يحسد عليها إن التغيير يحتاج وقتا، فهم لن ييأسوا، وهاهم يحققون نتائج جيدة على أي حال.
لماذا تتبرع حماس بتكرار الخطأ؟ لماذا لا تقول لرموز الوفود الغربية إن عليهم أن يسألوا المحتلين ماذا لديهم ليقدموه للشعب الفلسطيني؟ وإننا (حماس) لن نكرر أخطاء فتح. إذا وافق المحتلون على الانسحاب حتى حدود 67 بما فيها القدس مع ضمان حق العودة، فتعالوا واسألونا عن موقفنا، أما عندما يرفض نتنياهو مجرد تجميد الاستيطان في الضفة لتسعين يوما، فإن السؤال عن موقفنا نوع من العبث. ثم أليس من المهم مجاملة جمهور العرب والمسلمين قبل مجاملة الوفود الغربية؟!
ما ينبغي أن يتذكره قادة حماس ولا أظنهم يجهلونه ومعهم كل العقلاء هو أن شروط الرباعية ليست قابلة للمساومة وينبغي أن توافق الحركة عليها كاملة، بما في ذلك رفض المقاومة والاعتراف بدولة الاحتلال وكل الاتفاقات الموقعة، وعندها فقط يمكن أن يفتح الباب بعض الشيء، وأقول بعض الشيء لأن هناك من يملك قابلية أكبر للتنازل، وهو الطرف المعترف به عربيا ودوليا (منظمة التحرير وحركة فتح وسلطة رام الله وجميعها رأسها واحد)، والمعضلة أصلا لا تتمثل في قطاع غزة الذي يريد البعض الحفاظ عليه بأي ثمن، بل في الضفة الغربية، ويمكن للتسوية أن تمضي حتى لو بقي القطاع كيانا مستقلا يترك شأن التعامل معه لمصر ما دام لا يأتي بأي إزعاج يذكر.
أعتقد أن مهزلة التنازلات المجانية يجب أن تتوقف،
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
"Many people say Hamas's transition into a political party has reduced its appeal.
Now the group has also taken its image campaign into the streets and classrooms.
Nicole Johnston reports now on Hamas's efforts to bolster its image."
With Amy Goodman
"WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange remains in a London prison after Swedish authorities challenged the court’s decision to release him on bail with conditions. Assange’s attorney Mark Stephens joins us to discuss his possible extradition to Sweden for questioning on alleged sexual crimes amidst rumors the Obama administration has convened a grand jury to indict Assange in the United States....."
With Amy Goodman
"The award-winning investigative journalist and documentary filmmaker John Pilger is one of many high-profile public supporters of Julian Assange and his organization WikiLeaks. Pilger has attended Assange’s court proceedings in London and has offered to contribute funds for his more than $300,000 bail. Pilger’s latest film, The War You Don’t See, includes interviews with Assange. Pilger says that WikiLeaks is revolutionizing journalism and galvanizing public opinion to stand up to global elites......"
Richard Holbrooke Dies at 69: Remembering Veteran Diplomat’s Overlooked Record in East Timor, Iraq and the Balkans
With Amy Goodman
"Since his death this week at the age of 69, veteran U.S. diplomat Richard Holbrooke has been remembered for a storied career that includes brokering the 1995 Dayton peace accords that ended the war in Bosnia. But little attention has been paid to his role in implementing and backing U.S. policies that killed thousands of civilians. Independent journalists Jeremy Scahill and John Pilger join us to discuss Holbrooke’s record in carrying out U.S. policy in Vietnam, East Timor, the Balkans, Iraq and Afghanistan and Pakistan. Scahill says Holbrooke "represented the militarization of what is called 'US diplomacy.'"....."
by Jonathan Cook
"The pretty two-storey home with a red-tiled roof built by Adel and Iman Kaadan looks no different from the rows of other houses in Katzir, a small hilltop community in northern Israel close to the West Bank.
But, unlike the other residents of Katzir, the Kaadans moved into their dream home this month only after a 12-year battle through the Israeli courts.
The small victory for the Kaadans, who belong to Israel's Palestinian Arab minority, dealt a big blow to a state policy that for decades has reserved most of the country's land for Jews.....
Arab citizens, meanwhile, are largely restricted to living in 124 towns and villages, and control 2.5 per cent of Israel's territory.
Planning and building laws confine the development and expansion of Arab communities, leading to overcrowding. Tens of thousands of Arab families, forced to build in non-zoned areas, live in homes under demolition orders.....
But the rightwing Jerusalem Post newspaper backed the legislation, saying Israeli Jews "should have the right to live in a community where they are not threatened by intermarriage or by becoming a cultural or religious minority"."
"Despite being granted bail, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is still behind bars in Britain, the victim of a Swedish legal system that few believe is serving real justice. The empire has been humiliated, and will prove to be even more vindictive than a woman scorned as it fights to regain its information hegemony.....
Yet make no mistake: it's not only Ancient Rome that's burning. It's the whole empire. Hardcore hyper-capitalism may be simultaneously a Terminator and a giant with clay feet. Progressives must solve the riddle of how to fight this paradox. Sun Tzu's Art of War meets Gilles Deleuze and his underground war machine. Nomad information-technology guerrillas are already deployed. The US counter-insurgency is being turned upside down. Netwar is a go. And don't forget the condoms."
"CAIRO - After the separation barrier against Palestinian territories, Israel has begun to build a new wall, this one to keep migrants from Africa out. The new wall is coming up on the Egyptian border, and with Egyptian support.....
Over the last year, Egypt has been building an underground steel barrier along its 14-kilometre border with the Gaza Strip with the ostensible aim of disrupting smuggling operations. Since Israel - and later Egypt - hermetically sealed its border with the strip in 2007, Gaza's roughly 1.5 million inhabitants have come to rely on cross-border tunnels for their most basic needs.
"The frontier zone is becoming a region of walls and fences," Ayman Abdelaziz Salaama, international law professor at Cairo University, told IPS. "For the last ten years, Israel - ever obsessed with its own security - has surrounded itself with walls and fortifications.
"But no country in history has been able to build walls high enough to keep out those determined to get in," he added...."
"President Barack Obama hailed Richard Holbrooke, who died Monday, as “one of the giants of American foreign policy.” The President’s kudos reflected the Establishment gravitas that Holbrooke, the special envoy overseeing U.S. policies in Pakistan and Afghanistan, had acquired in his long career — fact and reason to the contrary.
Apologies to those who think it is boorish to speak in anything but the most glowing terms of dead “giants.” In this case, however, the stakes are so high that it will dishonor all those at risk, if we yield to convenient convention.
There will be many more dead and wounded in Afghanistan and Pakistan by the time you read this. Sadly, Holbrooke is one of the Establishment “giants” responsible...."
Published 15 December 2010
At every turn, Assange's basic human rights have been breached. The cowardly Australian government, which is legally obliged to support its citizen, has made a veiled threat to take away his passport. In her public remarks, the prime minister, Julia Gillard, has shamefully torn up the presumption of innocence that underpins Australian law. The Australian minister for foreign affairs ought to have called in both the Swedish and the US ambassadors to warn them against any abuse of human rights against Assange, such as the crime of incitement to murder.
In contrast, vast numbers of decent people all over the world have rallied to Assange's support: people who are neither misogynists nor "internet attack dogs", to quote Libby Brooks, and who support a very different set of values from those espoused by Charles Reich. They include many distinguished feminists, such as Naomi Klein, who wrote: "Rape is being used in the Assange prosecution in the same way that women's freedom was used to invade Afghanistan. Wake up!""
By Mark Steel
"The police like to set their public relations department a special Christmas challenge, don't they? Because that's the only explanation for them being filmed on the anti-fees demonstration, chucking a disabled man out of his wheelchair and shoving him along the road, unless it was to enjoy telling their PR team, "Stick a positive spin on that for us, could you?"
Ben Brown of the BBC tried his best, when he interviewed Jody McIntyre, the man who was dislodged, and said aggressively: "There's a suggestion that you were rolling in the direction of the police." Now, let's suppose this was the case (which I can't help but doubt), how much force is needed, I wonder, to stop a man with cerebral palsy who keeps rolling, even when asked to stop?
Presumably the police turned to each other in shock, spluttering: "Oh my God, he's rolling straight for us. These riot shields and helmets with visors offer woefully inadequate protection against such a persistent rolling machine. If we're lucky our batons can buy us some time, but his momentum is terrifying, it's like a cerebral palsy tsunami."
Maybe this is how to win in Afghanistan. We recruit a multiple sclerosis battalion to roll mercilessly through Helmand province and the Taliban will run away shrieking in fear....."
"The diminutive figure of Bianca Jagger pushed her way through the scrum as a man with a megaphone repeated "Exposing war crimes is no crime" and hundreds gathered outside City of Westminster magistrates' court chanted back "Free Julian now". It was, banners proclaimed, "Democracy on trial".
Albanian, Japanese, French and American media jostled to glimpse the WikiLeaks founder as he was brought from Wandsworth prison. A supporting cast of celebrities – Jemima Khan, John Pilger, Ken Loach, Tariq Ali – also made an appearance.....
Captain Vaughan Smith, a former Grenadier Guards officer and founder of the journalists' Frontline Club, insisted that Mr Assange was "a very honourable person, hugely courageous and self-deprecatory" as he offered a surety of £20,000 and residence at his estate, Ellingham Hall, in Suffolk.
Outside, Khan and Pilger paced expectantly. "The whole thing is bizarre and absurd," said the campaigning journalist, insisting that any case against Mr Assange was politically motivated: "People aren't stupid, they understand."
Mr Assange was returned for another night in jail after Swedish prosecutors appealed against his bail. His solicitor, Mark Stephens, said: "The Swedes will not abide with the umpire's decision and they want to put Mr Assange through yet more trouble... This is turning into a show trial."
Outside court, Hazel Sabey said: "It is not just about one man on trial, it is about a whole concept of freedom and civil liberties. We are all on trial. He doesn't stand alone. We stand with him shoulder to shoulder." "
(Vaughan Smith is the founder of the Frontline Club. He has personally stood surety for Julian Assange in court and provided his bail address.)
They made him out to be the internet’s Bin Laden. The likeness might be poor, but that was OK because the colours were familiar and bright. Now the focus is on Julian’s court fight, instead of on the opaque political system that his leaks have exposed. The charges that Julian faces have already been dropped once, from a Swedish court that even Glenn Beck, the incendiary US Fox News TV host, rubbishes.
Julian is different to most of us. He is clever and obsessive but also funny and self-deprecating. But he has started something seismic but inevitable, a consequence of modern communications that cannot be stopped. One day we might be governed better as a result. Vengeance by the authorities is weakness here and will not help us face the challenges of the times.
I resolved then, and on that ugly spot, that I would never abandon Julian. It wasn’t any more about whether Wikileaks was right or wrong, for good or bad. It was about standing up to the bully and the question of whether our country, in these historic times really was the tolerant, independent and open place I had been brought up to believe it was and feel that it needs to be. If to fight for this country we will have to fight for its fundamental principles of justice then I declare my position in the ranks."
US embassy cables: every day's revelations at a glance
• In 2007, the American ambassador in Egypt dares to call the government a dictatorship and foresees problems with President Hosni Mubarak's son, Gamal, succeeding his father as head of state. The Egyptian army profoundly dislikes Gamal, someone "who hasn't even finished his military service". The cables reveal a possibility of a coup d'etat should the president die without having established his succession...."
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
"We planned on the film opening in December but in looking at the landscape of blandishment, conflict, and confusion, it felt like we needed to spend more time preparing the audience and psyche of our fellow world citizens for the film and that way somehow left Reula’s book dangling without a movie to support it, so I find myself reading…
"We’re actually going to show the film on March 15 before the General Assembly of the United Nations for 2000 people. That’s where the movie will open." There will be other screenings before that, the painter-cum-director said. It was at the Council on Foreign Relations last week, and will be at the 92d Street Y in February.
“We wanted to cuddle the world in some sort of way and form some kind of coalition and find some kind of post-right, post-left dialogue about this issue…. I guess you will see the movie some day. I hope you’ll see the movie."Read more-Mondoweiss
"For decades news organisations in the US have published government secrets - without the government coming after them. So can WikiLeaks or its founder be pursued in American courts? And if it is true that WikiLeaks is a threat to the US, why is the US administration turning a blind eye to the New York Times and other newspapers who are publishing information from WikiLeaks every day?"
" Standing in front of a huge banner of an Israeli flag merging into the American Stars and Stripes last Friday, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gave yet another set-piece speech laying out how US "engagement" would help bring peace in our time.
Speaking at the Brookings Institution's Saban Center in Washington, DC with Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak and key Israel lobby figures looking on -- including Salam Fayyad, the puppet "prime minister" of the US- and Israeli-backed Palestinian Authority -- Clinton asserted that "a Palestinian state achieved through negotiations is inevitable" ("Remarks at the Brookings Institution's Saban Center for Middle East Policy Seventh Annual Forum," 10 December 2010).
What Clinton laid out in diagnosis and prescriptions, however, ensures that a Palestinian state is anything but inevitable. It is vanishingly unlikely.....
For the discredited Palestinian Authority "leadership" which rushed to Washington as soon as Clinton beckoned, the secretary of state had these instructions: "To demonstrate their commitment to peace, Israeli and Palestinian leaders should stop trying to assign blame for the next failure, and focus instead on what they need to do to make these efforts succeed." She warned Palestinians specifically, in reference to efforts to get more states to recognize Palestine: "Unilateral efforts at the United Nations are not helpful and undermine trust." Recently, Brazil and Argentina joined more than a hundred countries that recognize the nonexistent "State of Palestine" declared by the Palestine Liberation Organization in November 1988.
In other words, Palestinians must continue to take it on the chin as Israel does what it pleases with American support. Only Palestinians intent on committing national suicide could go along with such a charade. Those who support genuine peace for Palestinians and Israeli Jews, based on universal rights, equality, restitution and the decolonization of the relationship between the populations, must escalate the real peace process: boycott, divestment and sanctions to force Israel to respect Palestinian rights and obey international law."
".....The Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas has finally realized what everybody knows that the US government would not use its influence on Israel to abide by the international laws; and that the Israelis are very clear about their negotiating positions. Israel would not accept anything more than a symbolic Palestinian state consisting of disconnected Bantustans, no return to the 1967 borders, no removal of settlements and no to the refugees’ right of return.
It is time to consider the call made by many well-respected Palestinians for the PA to “dissolve itself” [It will not; Only USrael will dissolve it after the last drop of juice has been squeezed out of that sour lemon called the PA.], and I add: rescind the PLO’s recognition of Israel and return the keys to the UN. The Palestinians shouldn't recognize Israel if Israel does not recognize their right for self-determination, something they have been fighting and dying for since 1917 when they constituted 95% of Palestine’s population."
"Israeli police have been criticised over their treatment of hundreds of Palestinian children, some as young as seven, arrested and interrogated on suspicion of stone-throwing in East Jerusalem.
In the past year, criminal investigations have been opened against more than 1,200 Palestinian minors in Jerusalem on stone-throwing charges, according to police statistics gathered by the Association of Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI). That was nearly twice the number of children arrested last year in the much larger Palestinian territory of the West Bank.
Most of the arrests have occurred in the Silwan district, close to Jerusalem’s Old City, where 350 extremist Jewish settlers have set up several heavily guarded illegal enclaves among 50,000 Palestinian residents.....
Last year the United Nations Committee Against Torture expressed “deep concern” at Israel’s treatment of Palestinian minors, saying Israel was breaking the UN Convention on the Rights of Children, which it has signed.
Over the past 12 months, Defence for Children International has provided the UN with details of more than 100 children who claim they were physically or psychologically abused while in military custody. "
By Gideon Levy
"Every cloud has a silver lining: Maybe lessons will be learned from the fire. Not only fire extinguishers, fire trucks and new planes, but also new thinking, and fire retardants that douse the really big fire.
The home front's weakness should teach us that Israel apparently has no military option. This is a much more fateful lesson than all the fire's other lessons, and it should be dealt with. The apocalyptic descriptions of a missile attack on the home front if Israel attacks Iran or Lebanon appear even more apocalyptic in light of Israel's conduct when handling a medium-sized forest fire....."
Europe must emerge from US' shadow (Dream on Lamis, lately you have indulged in a lot of wishful thinking.)
"Several senior European politicians have urged the European Union (EU) to threaten Israel with sanctions if it continues to build Jewish settlements on occupied Palestinian territory.
A letter signed by, among others, Mary Robinson, the former EU commissioner, and Javier Solana, the organisation's former foreign affairs chief, calls for a European peace plan based on the establishment of an independent Palestinian state on the equivalent of "100 per cent of the territory [Israel] occupied in 1967, including its capital in East Jerusalem".
The demands made by the group of 26 former European leaders are not vastly different from the EU's declared position, but this call represents a push for a more assertive policy that includes measures designed to pressure Israel to comply.....
It is time for Europe to regain its role, for Palestinians do not stand to be the only losers from continued European subordination to Washington.
Monday, December 13, 2010
"Is the growing isolation of Wikileaks the start of the end for the online secrets site? Is the cyber-backlash by WikiLeaks fans enough? What right do companies like Mastercard and Paypal have to refuse to do business with it?"
Abu Rahma spent 18 months behind bars; he was forced to pay a 6.000 NIS fine....
The Israeli prosecution accused Abu Rahma of “obstructing the work of the army” and of “incitement” in addition to participating in protests against the Wall and settlement....."