Saturday, July 2, 2011

From the US Boat to Gaza: A July Fourth Shame on the Founders

by Ray McGovern

"Yes, that was I standing before the U.S. Embassy in Athens on the eve of the July Fourth weekend holding the American flag in the distress mode — upside down.

Indignities experienced by me and my co-guests on “The Audacity of Hope,” the American boat to Gaza, over the past ten days in Athens leave no doubt in my mind that Barack Obama’s administration has forfeited the right to claim any lineage to the brave Americans who declared independence from the king of England 235 years ago......

That President Barack Obama would have popularized the phrase “audacity of hope,” after which we named our boat, now seems a cruel hoax, particularly as many of us recalled the high hopes we had once harbored for Obama the candidate. Instead of an “audacity of hope,” Obama the president has often displayed a “paucity of courage.”....

The difficulties, which we on “The Audacity of Hope” have encountered at the hands of the Greek government, are clearly a result of Israeli pressure with a likely assist from Obama’s diplomats.

In my own writings, I have highlighted what I have learned about the extraordinary power of joint U.S.-Israeli influence. But it is something quite different to watch that influence be brought to bear on the government of Greece, a seafaring nation normally devoted to unfettered navigation.

And for what purpose? To prevent our “ally” Israel from being exposed for its brutish behavior vis-a-vis the people of Gaza.....

Before leaving the United States, I was cautioned by a source with access to very senior staffers at the National Security Council that not only does the White House plan to do absolutely nothing to protect our boat from Israeli attack or illegal boarding, but that White House officials “would be happy if something happened to us.”

They are, I am reliably told, “perfectly willing to have the cold corpses of activists shown on American TV.”....

The instructions, of course, come from a weak Greek government unable to stand on principle because of the economic damage that can be done to Greece by the U.S.-dominated IMF, the European Union and Israel, a major trading partner.....

On Friday, the Audacity of Hope did make a move to set sail, before being turned back by the Greek coast guard. On Saturday, we were on a coast guard wharf with the boat impounded, the crew restricted, and the captain facing some significant charges.

The authorities said the guests were free to leave the boat, but it wasn’t clear that we’d be allowed back on. So, we decided not to leave the captain. We remain determined to go to Gaza.

It would be a fitting way to celebrate the Fourth of July. "

Al-Jazeera Video: Gaza flotilla activist: Ray McGovern

Al-Jazeera Video: Interview: Adam Shapiro on the Gaza flotilla

"Adam Shaprio, an International Flotilla Committee organizer and spokesperson told Al Jazeera: "The captain has been charged with a felony. Initially it [the charge] was a misdemeanor, but it has been upgraded to a felony.""

Nasrallah implies Israel behind Hariri murder

The leader of Hezbollah has implied that Israel was behind the killing of Rafik al-Hariri, the former Lebanese prime minister who was murdered in 2005.

Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah was speaking for the first time since the indictment on Thursday by the UN Special Tribunal for Lebanon of four members of the Lebanese movement over the murder of Hariri.
Discussing the tribunal's investigations into Hariri's murder, Nasrallah said: "We mentioned the possibility of having Israel involved in the murder and the fact that [Israeli] agents were present at the murder scene one day before the murder.

"No one in the STL even asked the Israelis anything. This is normal, why? Because the tribunal, since its formation, had a precise goal and no one was allowed to talk to the Israelis ... Instead of investigating the Israelis, [the STL] gathered information from them."

Speaking on Saturday in a telelvised speech, Nasrallah said that computers related to the case investigated by the STL were transported through Israel on their way out of Lebanon and asked why they had not been shipped out of a Beirut port?

He said Hezbollah would produce a document that proving the computers were transported from South Lebanon to Israel.

Speaking from Beirut, Jamal Wakim of the Lebanese International University told Al Jazeera that the charges over computer data were "the most important point" in the speech.
He said: "It proves the implication of Israel in trying to divert and manipulate the international court."
Nasrallah said the tribunal aimed to spread sectarian strife in Lebanon but that it would fail to inflame conflict between Sunni and Shia Muslims [It does not take for the tribunal to inflame sectarianism in the Arab world , all it takes is for Nasrallah to keep supporting the Murders of the Syrian people by his beloved Bashar, and Saudi to actively support the oppression and murders of Shia in Bahrain,  Hassan who is a head of a sectarian party has no right to speak against sectarianism ,  this is like the head of KKK speaking against racism , or the Saudi mufti talking about women's rights , both Saudi Arabia and Hizbullah are inflaming sectarianism in the Arab world and it is essential for any progress in the region to curb the influence of both ]

Chomsky Turns on Chavez

Hugo Chávez has long considered Noam Chomsky one of his best friends in the west. He has basked in the renowned scholar's praise forVenezuela's socialist revolution and echoed his denunciations of US imperialism.
Venezuela's president, who hasrevealed that he has had surgery in Cuba to remove a cancerous tumour, turned one of Chomsky's books into an overnight bestseller after brandishing it during a UN speech. He hosted Chomsky in Caracas with smiles and pomp. Earlier this year Chávez even suggested Washington make Chomsky the US ambassador to Venezuela.
The president may be about to have second thoughts about that, because his favourite intellectual has now turned his guns on Chávez.
Speaking to the Observer last week, Chomsky has accused the socialist leader of amassing too much power and of making an "assault" on Venezuela's democracy.
"Concentration of executive power, unless it's very temporary and for specific circumstances, such as fighting world war two, is an assault on democracy. You can debate whether [Venezuela's] circumstances require it: internal circumstances and the external threat of attack, that's a legitimate debate. But my own judgment in that debate is that it does not."
Chomsky, a linguistics professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, spoke on the eve of publishing an open letter (see below) that accuses Venezuela's authorities of "cruelty" in the case of a jailed judge.
The self-described libertarian socialist says the plight of María Lourdes Afiuni is a "glaring exception" in a time of worldwide cries for freedom. He urges Chávez to release her in "a gesture of clemency" for the sake of justice and human rights.
Chomsky reveals he has lobbied Venezuela's government behind the scenes since late last year after being approached by the Carr centre for human rights policy at Harvard University. Afiuni earned Chávez's ire in December 2009 by freeing Eligio Cedeño, a prominent banker facing corruption charges. Cedeño promptly fled the country.
In a televised broadcast the president, who had taken a close interest in the case, called the judge a criminal and demanded she be jailed for 30 years. "That judge has to pay for what she has done."

Sniper kills civilian camera man in Homs filming from his balcony

The guardians of resistance in action.

US BOAT TO GAZA_The Audacity To Love

حول سوريا والواجب الاخلاقي

نمر سلطاني

A Good Comment
By Nimr Sultani


"لا يملك المرء إلا أن يشعر بالفخر الشديد ببسالة المتظاهرين السوريين وهم يتحدون المزيد من القمع بالمزيد من الإصرار والتضحية وبازدياد رقعة المظاهرات لتشمل الكثير من أنحاء الوطن السوري من درعا إلى حلب إلى حماة إلى حمص إلى اللاذقية إلى بعض أحياء دمشق إلى دير الزور وغيرها. هذه الانتفاضة التي وصفتها "لجان التنسيق المحلية" في بيانها الصادر في 23 حزيران بمناسبة مرور مئة يوم على انطلاقتها بـ"ثورتنا من أجل الحرية والكرامة والمواطنة". ومع تواصل التحدي الشعبي لنظام الاستبداد يزداد الامل بأن هذا النظام سيزول آجلا أم عاجلا وأن ما سيحلّ مكانه سيكون أفضل منه.

لكن لماذا نجد هذا الانقسام في الآراء تجاه ما يحدث في سوريا بشكل لم نعهده إبّان الانتفاضة المصرية ومن قبلها التونسية؟ خاصة وأن النظام السوري لم يشذ كثيرا عن الوسائل والأساليب التي استعملها النظامان التونسي والمصري قبله في مواجهة الازمة التي تعصف به وارتكب من الصلف والغرور ما ارتكباه. فقد قال، مثلما قالوا، إن المعارضين قلة. وقال، مثلما قالوا، إنهم مندسون ومتآمرون. واختار، مثلما اختاروا، الحل الأمني بدل الحوار والإصلاح (وإن توفرت له العوامل التي لم تتوفر لهما كتركيبة المجتمع والجيش المختلفة مما سهل تنفيذ الحل الأمني).
إن سبب دعم المتظاهرين هو أخلاقي بالدرجة الاولى ولا علاقة له بموازين القوة أو بالحسابات العددية. سبب دعمنا لهم هو عدالة قضيتهم وإنسانية مطالبهم إذ يطلبون التحرر من نير الطغيان وقد سئموا الحجج الباهتة والمجترة لتبرير عبوديتهم، فقد تغيّرت المسميات والعبودية واحدة.

قد يكون السبب في الانقسام في الآراء هو درجة الانغلاق الأعلى في سوريا (ففي مصر كانت هناك درجة أعلى من الحرية الصحفية وبعض التعددية الحزبية، ولو الواهية، وتواجد أكبر لوسائل الإعلام الخارجية) وبالتالي القدرة على التعتيم، وبالتالي المساحة الأكبر للتضليل. وقد يكون السبب هو أن التفرقة بين الأنظمة في وعي الكثيرين من العرب تكون بناءً على مواقفها وسياساتها الخارجية لا سياساتها الداخلية (وبالتالي مدى ديمقراطيتها) خاصة أن هذا الوعي لم يجرّب الديمقراطية كثيرا، وبدا أن مطالبة الأنظمة بالديمقراطية أمر تعجيزي وخارق للمألوف، على الأقل حتى جاءت انتفاضة الشعوب العربية الأخيرة.

بالإضافة إلى هذه الأسباب، سأدّعي فيما يلي أن بالامكان قراءة بعض ردود الفعل المؤيدة للنظام السوري على أنها مجموعة تمثيلات خطابية مترابطة ومتكاملة يمكن تقسيمها بشكل تحليلي إلى ثلاثة أنواع سأسميها مجازا: العقل التبسيطي والعقل الاتكالي والعقل التبريري.
تنضم هذه التمثيلات الخطابية الثلاثة إلى جملة العوامل التي سمحت باستمرار الاستبداد في العالم العربي حتى حالتنا الراهنة. وبدون تجاوزها لن يكون بإمكاننا تجاوز العجز العربي والتأخر العربي القائم. هذه الأنظمة المدعومة بهذه العقلية تنتج شعوبا مفتتة ومتهالكة لا تسمح بإنتاج السياسات التي تتعدى الإنتاج الخطابي إلى الممارسة التي بإمكانها أن تسيّر ركب العرب نحو مستقبل أفضل باستغلال الموارد الطبيعية والانسانية وتوزيعها بشكل عادل. ومن دواعي المفاجأة السارة أن هذه المجتمعات المفتتة والمتهالكة ما زالت تملك من القوة والإرادة ما يكفي للإطاحة بهذه الأنظمة الفاشلة والفاسدة. ولكن إذا تخلصنا من هذه العقلية فقد تتحول عندها الانتفاضات إلى ثورة فتطيح لا بالنخب الحاكمة فحسب بل بالبنى الاقتصادية والاجتماعية والسياسية التي تسمح بإنتاج هذه النخب

Syria Protests July 1, 2011 : A Video Roundup

(60 videos)

Friday, July 1, 2011

Al-Jazeera Video: US Gaza flotilla ship halted

VIDEO – In front of the Interior Ministry أمام وزارة القتل والبلطجة

From Hossam El-Hamalawy

"Thousands demonstrated on Friday in Tahrir Square, demanding public trial of Mubarak, his interior ministry Habib el-Adly, and other regime figures.

The square and the surrounding streets since early morning have been emptied from all police and military presence. Most of the established political forces, most notably the Muslim Brothers, did not take part in the demonstrations.

The families of the martyrs were present, and demanded speedy trials of the police murderers, as it’s becoming clear day by day that they will get away with what they did. More shockingly, most police officers who are currently undergoing trial still hold their positions (or have been promoted)! Demonstrators also denounced the brutal police crackdown on the protests in the square on Tuesday night and Wednesday.

Protesters marched, in solidarity with the detainees, by 4pm on the ministerial cabinet headquarters and the interior ministry. Policemen from inside the interior ministry’s compound threw rocks and were making provocative gestures with their hands. Protesters responded by rocks and a shower of insults and chants against both the military and the police.

I’ve heard very strong chants, demanding the execution of Mubarak, Adly and Field Marshal Tantawi. While some are staging a sit in at the moment, others will resume protesting on Saturday, in the run up to the mass protests planned next Friday 8 July."

Syria defies Assad with largest protests so far

Regime looks increasingly embattled as security forces open fire on crowds of hundreds of thousands.

Khalid Ali reports
The Independent

......................................Roasted Rabbit?.............................

"The Syrian regime was looking increasingly isolated yesterday as hundreds of thousands of protesters took to the streets in some of the largest rallies of the uprising, despite an unprecedented attempt by President Bashar al-Assad to reach out to his political opponents.

Marchers massed in city squares up and down the country, facing the bullets of Mr Assad's security forces, with at least nine people reported killed. A video posted on YouTube showed residents from a town in north-west Syria – a region which has been subject to a relentless army operation using tanks, troops and helicopter gunships – chanting "Bashar is a vampire" and holding anti-government placards.

Another film from Hama, north of Damascus, posted online by activists purports to show the city centre packed with tens of thousands of anti-government demonstrators. An enormous flag is stretched out above the heads of protesters gathered in al-Assi Square, while crowds of cheering, banner-waving demonstrators are hemmed-in for as far as the eye can see [See Video posted just below]....

Other activists told the Reuters news agency that injured civilians were being taken to hospitals on the outskirts of Homs to avoid the troops stationed at emergency wards in the city centre....."

شام حماه مليونية حماه بجمعة أرحل 1 7 ج1

شام حماه مليونية حماه بجمعة أرحل 1 7 ج1

Tens of Thousands of Syrians Protest in Central City of Hama

N Y Times

"BEIRUT, Lebanon — In what may mark a decisive turn in nearly four months of unrest, tens of thousands of protesters gathered Friday in the central city of Hama for what activists called the country’s biggest demonstration so far, returning the city that bore the brunt of a ferocious government crackdown a generation ago to the forefront of rebellion.

Estimates of the crowd were difficult to verify, and activists have sometimes exaggerated the turnout in protests challenging more than four decades of rule by the Assad family. But the scenes of protesters pouring into a central square in the city, captured by activists and circulated on the Internet and Arab satellite channels, seemed to signal a new stage in an uprising that has so far only aspired to rival the mass protests that ousted authoritarian leaders in Egypt and Tunisia.

Leave! Leave!” protesters chanted to a hip-hop beat....."

A Sample of Fresh Videos From Inside Syria, Documenting Protests Against the Bloody Regime July 1, 2011.

شام - حماه - مظاهرات جمعة أرحل بأكبر حشود 1-7 ج4

شام - حماه - مظاهرات جمعة أرحل بأكبر حشود 1-7 ج5

شام - مدينة إدلب - مظاهرات حاشدة في جمعة إرحل 1-7-2011

شام - دير الزور - مظاهرات الثوار بجمعة أرحل 1-7-2011 ج4

شام - حماة - جمعة ارحل ساحة العاصي و منظر ساعة حماة

U.S. Ship in Freedom Flotilla Leaves Greece Headed to Gaza, Despite Threats and Risk of Sabotage

"The U.S.-flagged ship "The Audacity of Hope" left a Greek port today bound for Gaza, but the status of the 10-boat flotilla remains uncertain. At least one boat has already pulled out due to sabotage, another is still being repaired. All 10 ships were supposed to set sail earlier this week but the Greek government — already facing a financial crisis and public uproar over austerity measures — blocked the ships’ departure under international pressure. On Thursday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel is entitled to stop the flotilla as part of its “full right to operate against efforts to smuggle” weapons into Gaza. Democracy Now! Producer Aaron Maté and videographer Hany Massoud are in Greece covering the journey of “The Audacity of Hope.” They were there Thursday as it was publicly unveiled. They spoke with novelist Alice Walker, Holocaust survivor Hedy Epstein and others...."

Ali Abunimah Responds To Israeli Claims That Gaza Flotilla Is A “Provocation”

"As the 400 international activists wait to set sail from Greece to Gaza on the Freedom Flotilla, Israeli media has been full of reports speculating about the activists’ character and motivations for participating in the humanitarian aid mission. Israeli newspapers have charged that the flotilla is carrying sacks of chemicals on board because passengers plan to kill IDF soldiers. The reports come after Foreign Ministry officials informed Israeli cabinet ministers that there was no information about members of "terrorist groups" planning to take part in the flotilla. “Israel is trying to present the flotilla as a military threat, whereas nobody in the world believes that,” says our guest, Ali Abunimah, co-founder of The Electronic Intifada, “not even Israeli cabinet ministers.”......"

Al-Jazeera Video: Inside Story - Succumbing to pro-Israeli lobby?

"Inside Story discusses with Farooq Bajwa, the lawyer for Sheikh Raed Salah; Ian Black, the Middle East editor of the Guardian newspaper; and Charlie Wolf, a Conservative political commentator and columnist for the Jewish News."

Al-Jazeera Video: Hamas accused of torturing man to death

Al-Jazeera Video: US boat part of the Gaza flotilla prepares to embark

Real News Video: Libyan People's Aspirations and a Forgotten UN Resolution

Hamid Dabashi : The US/NATO pushed a militarization of the Libyan struggle which has turned into a civil war

More at The Real News

Current Al-Jazeera (Arabic) Online Poll

This new poll asks:

Do you believe that France's arming of the Libyan rebels violates the Security Council's decision to protect civilians?

With about 1,000 responding so far, 67% said no.

Afghanistan: What Defeat Looks Like

It's the beginning of the end

by Justin Raimondo
, July 01, 2011

"Critics of the war in Afghanistan are fond of asking: "What would victory look like? How will we know when we’ve won?" In view of the latest events in that war-torn country, it’s fair to stand that question on its head and ask: What would defeat look like?

It looks like this: as Afghan government officials gather in Kabul’s fanciest hotel, the place where foreign journalists and other high mucka-mucks take up residence when in the capital, a group of Taliban fighters storms the lobby, kills at least 12 civilians and police officers, and sends Afghan officials scurrying for their lives. A five-hour gun battle ensues, which is ended only when NATO forces launch a helicopter attack on the assailants, strafing the hotel from the air....

Our empire, like that of the Soviets, is on the way out, inevitably receding before the tides of nationalism — and economic decline — on the home front. Yet still we persist in nurturing the illusion that we’re in control, that we can manage the scope of the unfolding disaster and delay indefinitely the day when, like this Soviet official, we’ll be forced to admit defeat:

"’It’s a defeat, no question about it,’ an aide in the Communist Party’s Central Committee told an American friend this week. ‘We had your experience in Vietnam right before our eyes, and we still went in like fools. The only thing we’ve been able to avoid is having to evacuate the last people from our Embassy in Kabul on helicopter skids.’"

We had the Russian experience right before our eyes, as well as our own bitter memories of the Vietnam disaster, and yet we still went in — like even bigger fools. Not only did we go in, but we stayed in — long after the last remnants of al-Qaeda had fled — and attempted to set up a puppet government, confident we would succeed where the Soviets failed. Yet "President" Hamid Karzai – or whoever is in office when Kabul falls – will share Najibullah’s fate, of that we can be sure.

As to whether our imperial delusions will implode in the same way the Russians’ did – and with the same rapidity – remains to be seen. However, I suspect – or, rather, fear – we’ll know soon enough. "

Palestinian activists: unwelcome guests?

In arresting Mr Salah for remarks he denies he made, a British home secretary is being even more intolerant than Israel

Editorial, Thursday 30 June 2011

"Sheikh Raed Salah, an Israeli citizen who leads the Islamic Movement in Israel, is currently in the immigration removal centre at Heathrow airport. He was three days into a visit during which he addressed public meetings in London and Leicester and the House of Commons when he was arrested and informed that he was the subject of a deportation notice issued on the grounds that his presence in the country was not "conducive to the public good".

What has made our government so agitated by his presence? Is it the fact that the sheikh was accused in some British newspapers and one website of making antisemitic statements, which he says were fabricated, and for which he has started libel proceedings? If so, the home secretary is applying a higher threshold for the public good in Britain than Israel itself applies to a man it has not been shy of prosecuting on other issues. Repeated attempts to outlaw the Islamic Movement for incitement have failed in Israel's high court. Mr Salah has not been convicted of antisemitism, and spoke recently on a platform in Tel Aviv University.....In apparently arresting Mr Salah for remarks he denies he made and which it has yet to be proved in a court of law that he did make, a British home secretary is being even more intolerant to the representatives of Israel's Arab minority, 20% of the population, than the state of Israel itself.....

Both Mr Salah and Mr Nofal were due to speak at an annual Palestinian festival in London. In a separate celebration, Jerusalem Day, rightwing Israeli activists marched into the Arab Old City shouting slogans such as "Muhammad is dead", "May your village burn", and "Butcher the Arabs". This is racist incitement for which no action is being taken. Should Britain be taking lessons from Israel on incitement?"

Iraq: Attacks by Government-Backed Thugs Chill Protests

Security Forces Offered No Protection; Joined Assaults

Human Rights Watch

June 30, 2011

"(Baghdad) - Iraqi authorities should order a prompt and impartial inquiry into the role of state security forces in attacks by pro-government gangs against peaceful demonstrators in Baghdad on June 10, 2011, Human Rights Watch said today. The groups of mainly young men, armed with wooden planks, knives, iron pipes, and other weapons, beat and stabbed peaceful protesters and sexually molested female demonstrators, witnesses told Human Rights Watch.

In the days following the attack, Human Rights Watch interviewed more than 25 demonstrators who said they were punched, beaten with sticks or other weapons, or stabbed during the June 10 assault. Human Rights Watch observed and witnesses said that security forces stood by and watched in several instances. Several organizers told Human Rights Watch that the attacks have had a severe chilling effect on people exercising their right to peaceful assembly. In the two Friday demonstrations since then, on June 17 and 24, many regular protesters and organizers have stopped attending the demonstration, mainly because of fear of attacks, they said.

"Instead of protecting peaceful demonstrators, Iraqi soldiers appear to be working hand in hand with the thugs attacking them," said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. "The Iraqi government needs to investigate why the security forces stood by and watched as thugs beat and sexually molested protesters - and take action against those who did so."....."

VIDEO – Police and thugs team up against Tahrir البلطجية والأمن المركزي في مواجهة الثوار

From Hossam El-Hamalawy

Today's Cartoon by the Syrian Cartoonist Ali Ferzat

(Click on cartoon OR ELSE!)

The Regime's Intellectual

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Syria: US-backed plan for reform leaves Bashar al-Assad in place

US state department encouraging discussion of draft document which circulated at opposition talks, sources say

Ian Black, Middle East editor, Thursday 30 June 2011


"The US is promoting a "roadmap" for political reforms in Syria which would transform the regime of Bashar al-Assad but leave him in place for now – despite demands for his overthrow during the country's bloody three-month uprising.

Syrian opposition sources have revealed that the US state department has been discreetly encouraging discussion of the unpublished draft document which circulated at an unprecedented opposition conference held on Monday in Damascus. The US ambassador is urging dialogue with the regime, the sources say.

Assad would oversee what the roadmap calls "a secure and peaceful transition to civil democracy". It calls for tighter control over the security forces, the disbanding of "Shabiha" gangs accused of atrocities, the legal right to peaceful demonstrations, extensive media freedoms, and the appointment of a transitional assembly.....

Others warn Assad may be flirting with these ideas to buy time and improve his battered image. "This is a blueprint for reform in Syria that would leave the regime in place," warned one opposition figure. "It's the minimum to keep the west happy. The regime wants to co-opt the opposition and independent intellectuals to create an official opposition and sideline others and paint them as being in collusion with foreign enemies. How can I give legitimacy to Bashar al-Assad when there are a million people on the streets demanding he be removed?""

A roadmap for Syria (in English)
(9 pages)

"Syrian sources have revealed that the US state department is promoting a roadmap for political reforms that would transform Bashar al-Assad's regime – but leave him in place...."

A roadmap for Syria (in Arabic)

Exclusive Tour of Gaza-Bound U.S. Ship, Audacity of Hope; Saboteurs Damage Other Ships in Flotilla

"Organizers of the humanitarian flotilla to the Gaza Strip say another one of their ships has been sabotaged. The engine of an Irish ship docked in Turkey was reportedly so badly damaged it would have sunk in the middle of the ocean, threatening the lives of the passengers on board. It’s at least the second flotilla vessel to be targeted this week following damage to a Greek-Swedish ship docked in a port near Athens. Activists have accused Israel of orchestrating the sabotage, but say they have no direct proof. The Israeli government is trying to stop the ships from leaving port and has vowed to intercept them should they set sail. An Israeli official quoted in the Jerusalem Post said, the more "[they] have to run in place in Athens, the better it is for Israel." One of the ships in the 10-vessel flotilla is the U.S.-based "The Audacity of Hope," named after President Obama’s best-selling book. At least three dozen U.S. citizens are on board, carrying letters from Americans to the people of Gaza. Democracy Now! producer Aaron Maté and videographer Hany Massoud are in Greece to cover The Audacity of Hope’s journey. On Wednesday, Yonatan Shapira — a former Israeli Air Force pilot turned peace activist who is now a crew member on the U.S. boat — gave Democracy Now! a rare look inside the ship and talked about the threat of sabotage. “I see it as an obligation of me as an Israeli and a Jew to help steer the wheel of this boat into Gaza in order to challenge these war criminals, and to send this message to the Palestinian people, to the Palestinian children in Gaza and the rest of the world, that they are not alone and we support them, and one day, they will be free,” Shapira said....."

Debunking the Israeli-US Effort to Thwart Gaza Freedom Flotilla: “We Are Committed to Non-Violence”

"In addition to fears of ship sabotage and threats from the Israeli military, the U.S. citizens trying to sail to Gaza aboard U.S.-flagged ship “The Audacity of Hope” in the humanitarian flotilla are dealing with another challenge: their own government. The U.S. Department of State has warned U.S. passengers they could face "fines and incarceration" for taking part in the flotilla and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton appears to have given Israel the green light to use force. Last week, Clinton said the flotilla would be [provoking] actions by entering into Israeli waters and creating a situation in which the Israelis have the right to defend themselves." The threat of violence comes just one year after Israeli forces killed nine passengers in the first flotilla to Gaza after storming their ship. The passengers aboard the U.S. ship this year are a diverse group — parents, grandparents, young people, lawyers, doctors, nurses, social workers and peace activists. They include a Jewish survivor of the Nazi Holocaust, 87-year old Hedy Epstein; and the acclaimed writer, poet and activist Alice Walker, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of "The Color Purple." As The Audacity of Hope prepares to depart from Greece, Democracy Now! producers Aaron Maté and Hany Massoud spoke to crew member and former Israeli air force pilot, Yonatan Shapira, about the Israeli-U.S. effort to thwart the ship’s journey....."

Live Update From Jewish Holocaust Survivor on U.S. Ship in Gaza Flotilla

"Democracy Now! producer Aaron Mate and 86-year-old Jewish Holocaust survivor Hedy Epstein are on the U.S. ship, “The Audacity of Hope,” as it sits moored in an Athens port, draped in American flags, waiting to set sail for Gaza, joining nine other ships in a humanitarian flotilla to challenge the Israeli naval blockade of Palestine. Asked why she is attempting to go to Gaza, Epstein says, “If I can go anywhere in the world, why not to Gaza? Because the Israelis do not want me to go there? That is not a good reason for me not to go.”...."

Scorecard: Egypt's army and the revolution

Five months after protests broke out, has the military met demands for political reform and social justice?

Evan Hill

(Click on table to enlarge)

".....In the five months since protests began, the military has met some of the revolution's most important demands. Parliament has been dissolved and the Mubarak regime's top echelon imprisoned. But the hated state of emergency remains, and protesters have edited their most well-known refrain to reflect their new target: "The people want to bring down the regime" has become "The people want to bring down the field marshal."...."

Al-Jazeera Video: Court delays Egypt brutality case verdict

"Court postpones verdict on policemen charged over death of Khaled Said, whose case helped spark Egypt's revolution."

Real News Video: Violent clashes after Greek austerity vote

EuroNews: Violent clashes between police and Greek protesters continue, with attempts to set fire to the headquarters of the finance ministry

More at The Real News

Real News Video: Protesters and security forces clash in Tahrir Square

Al-Masry Al-Youm: Central Security forces re-deployed in Tahrir Square on Tuesday night, closing off all roads leading to the square

US Invigorates Policy at Gaza's Expense

By Ramzy Baroud
Palestine Chronicle

"....Now Clinton is back, speaking in a lucid language which leaves no room for misinterpretation. When it comes to the security and interests of Israel - as opposed to those of the entire Middle East region and all its nations - Clinton, like other top American officials, leaves no room for error. Israel will always come first.

Clinton's forceful language was triggered by the decision of humanitarian activists from over 20 countries to travel to Gaza in a symbolic gesture to challenge the Israeli blockade of one of the poorest regions on earth. The 500 peace activists on board 10 boats will include musicians, writers, Nobel Laureates, Holocaust survivors and members of parliament.....

In a region that is rife with opportunities for political stances - or at least a measurable shift in policy - the US State Department and its chief diplomat have offered nothing but inconsistency and contradiction. Now, thanks to a group of peaceful civil society activists, including many pacifists and elders, the State Department is getting its decisive voice back. And the voice is as atrocious and unprincipled as ever."

Egypt Rejects IMF Conditions

Analysis by Emad Mekay

"CAIRO, Jun 30, 2011 (IPS) - Egypt has cancelled plans to borrow 3 billion dollars from the International Monetary Fund because of conditions that violated the country’s national sovereignty and a public outcry that warned against terms that were blamed for impoverishing many Egyptians.

According to several Egyptian newspapers, General Sameh Sadeq, member of the country’s ruling military council, said the country turned down the loans, and those under discussion with the World Bank, because there were "five conditions that totally went against the principles of national sovereignty." Gen. Sadeq didn’t detail what these conditions were....

General Sadeq’s statements on Tuesday contradict statements by the government of Prime Minister Essam Sharaf and his Finance Minister Samir Radwan, who both served under ousted president Hosni Mubarak, that the new loans came with no conditions. Both officials have advocated publicly for more loans to ward off the specter of a budget deficit, a staple argument in many countries for IMF and World Bank loans.....

The Council for Revolutionary Trustees (CRT), a non-governmental organisation formed after Mubarak’s ouster of Internet and democracy activists who faced up to the powerful security forces of Mubarak over 18 days of revolution, issued statements saying "outside borrowing contradicts the principles of the Egyptian Revolution that called for freedom from all sorts of local and foreign pressure."

"The Egyptian people who are about to begin a new era do not want to start their new life with a new set of loans," the CRT said. "We prefer to live in hunger than to extend a begging hand to those institutions."

The move to borrow by the Sharaf government was surprising because it has been appointed as caretaker for less than six months and is widely believed to lack enough delegation from the Egyptian people. A host of columnists rebuked the government for taking such major decision without representation from the Egyptian people......."

Winners and Losers

by Philip Giraldi, June 30, 2011

"John Bolton, former United States Ambassador to the United Nations, is again calling on the United States to attack Iran even though he acknowledged that doing so would likely ignite a much larger regional war. But, characteristically, he dismissed the costs as worth it, a phrase reminiscent of former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright’s defense of the killing of half a million Iraqi children through sanctions.....

The United States of America, a country whose founders sought to create a nation free from the vices of old Europe, has instead been turned into a monster, with a president who declares war unconstitutionally and gets away with it, who attacks and kills people in still other countries without a declaration of war, who approves of extralegal assassination of citizens, who advances the stripping of constitutional rights through military tribunals, and who regularly engages in invocation of states secret privilege to cover up government wrongdoing. Meanwhile the country is on the verge of bankruptcy and the American people have been stripped of many of their liberties in what is rapidly moving towards a police state. Yes, the United States has been the biggest loser over the past ten years.

Given his dismal record, one has to wonder why a Congressional committee wants to listen to John Bolton at all, but the workings of the Imperial City are inscrutable, particularly to the public that foots the bill. Bolton and his friends in congress and the media have brought us nothing but ruin and despair and now they wish to bring us more of the same. The polite answer to their demands should be “No thank you,” though there are certainly more colorful ways to express that sentiment."

Greece Will Not Steve Bell

(Click on cartoon to enlarge)

Egypt, Syria and Middle East unrest - live updates

The Guardian

"Some residents of the central Syrian city of Hama say the regime has already been toppled in the city, writes Nidaa Hassan.

"For two or three weeks, security forces have left Syria's fourth biggest city largely alone. "There are currently no posters of the president, no security forces and no checkpoints," said one young woman.

Activists say at least 70 peaceful protesters were killed on June 4 when security forces opened fire in the city during Friday protests. Two security guards were killed in revenge attacks after funerals, but when tanks approached the city the following weekend, they did not enter, according to some reports.

Others say the tanks entered for a day last week before withdrawing again. Residents say thousands of protesters now turn out for Friday demonstrations in the Town, with sit-ins in al-Assi square and demonstrations every night.

"The atmosphere is like a carnival," said a person who attended last Friday's protest. "There are old and young people, women, men and children; the whole city is out."

Syrians surmise that the government is leaving Hama alone because it doesn't know how to deal with a city deeply scarred by a previous crackdown in the 1980s. In the face of an Islamist uprising the government of then-president Hafez al-Assad launched a brutal army assault on Hama which killed at least 20,000 people, many of whom were civilians.....

Hama is not the only town which security forces appear to have withdrawn from. Residents of Deir Ezzor, a tribal city in the east also report the absence of security officials on recent days.....

Homs, Syria's third city, remains pinned down by army and security forces. Damascus and Aleppo have been largely free of mass uprisings but the security presence has been bulked up."
....Syrian troops have withdrawn from the cities of Hama, Deir Ezzor and some Damascus suburbs, according to Wissam Tarif, from the human rights group Insan.

He claimed the move was not tactical but a sign that the army is over stretched.

"It's exhaustion, it's an operation that is not sustainable," Tarif said in a Skype interview from the Hague, where is compiling evidence of human rights abuses in Syria.

Tarif pointed out that although the Syrian army is "huge" it is only the infamous 4th division and the republican guard who can now be relied upon to put down the unrest. They number about 60,000 troops, Tarif said.

He claims the withdrawal from areas raises big question about how the regime can finance the army. The withdrawal from Hama also potentially opens up an opposition base, Tarif said.

The regime does not know how to handle the opposition Local Co-ordination Committees, Tarif claimed.....

On human rights abuses, Tarif said the evidence was overwhelming. "So far we have presented evidence [to the ICC prosecutor's office] which shows that the crimes in Syria are systematic, widespread and define crimes against humanity."

He says there is evidence that 1,457 civilians have been killed by the security forces. The victims include 98 children....."

29 6 Hama أوغاريت حماة الاعتصام المسائي الحاشد في ساحة العاصي أربعاء حرق الفواتير , دقة عالية ج2

Egypt urged to investigate fresh protest violence

29 June 2011

"The Egyptian authorities must immediately launch an independent and impartial investigation into the conduct of security forces at demonstrations, Amnesty International said amid continuing protests in central Cairo.

An Amnesty International team in Cairo witnessed riot police charging demonstrators in Tahrir Square, firing tear gas randomly, beating protesters with sticks and firing shotguns. Some protesters threw rocks and occasionally petrol bombs.

The Ministry of Health and Population said more than a thousand people were injured, including some 40 members of the security forces.

This heavy-handed response is reminiscent of the violence in January and is a chilling reminder of their inability to deal with protests, ahead of calls for mass demonstrations on 8 July. This latest incident spotlights the urgent need for reform of the security forces so Egyptians can begin to trust them,” said Amnesty International.

“Many want to see law and order maintained but this cannot be done by cracking down on protesters or by ignoring the demands for justice from victims of violence during mass protests earlier this year.

The demonstration appears to have been triggered by the security forces’ violent dispersal of relatives of those killed during the “25 January Revolution” yesterday....."

In Pictures: Clashes return to Tahrir Square

More than 1,000 people arrested as protesters and security forces clash in Egypt's capital.


(12 photos)

(Click on photo to enlarge)
Just Like Under the Pharaoh! Nothing Has Changed.....

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

VIDEO – Tahrir Intifada انتفاضة التحرير

From Hossam El-Hamalawy

An Israeli trap for Britain

In arresting Sheikh Raed Salah, the UK authorities support the persecution of Arab citizens of Israel

Haneen Zoabi, Wednesday 29 June 2011

"The decision to ban the Palestinian leader Sheikh Raed Salah from entering Britain, and then to arrest him, was transparently not based on any serious examination of his political activities. It was an ugly kneejerk response to the growing hostility of the Israeli establishment and its supporters abroad towards anyone opposing its racist policies – and a rising tide of Islamophobia in Europe....

The British authorities have fallen into an Israeli trap. Instead of supporting our leaders and their campaign for freedom and democracy, they are supporting Israeli persecution of the Palestinian citizens of Israel. Until now, Palestinian citizens of Israel have been struggling for our political rights in our country, and confronting Zionist racism inside Israel. But now it seems we have to confront Zionist racism abroad as well.

The pro-Israeli lobby must not be allowed to determine politics in Britain. Palestinians in Israel see the arrest of Salah by the British authorities as backing Israeli policies against us. We ask the British people to reject this, not to allow Israeli racism to inform them and support instead our just demands for democracy in our own land."

Cairo street clashes leave more than 1,000 injured

Fighting between police and protesters is worst since Mubarak's fall as new leaders accused of same slow tactics on reform

Jack Shenker in Cairo, Wednesday 29 June 2011

".....In what analysts have labelled a "critical turning point" in Egypt's ongoing revolution, several thousand people clashed with heavily armed riot police in and around Tahrir Square on Tuesday night, leading to dozens of arrests.

The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces blamed "sedition" for the unrest and vowed to hunt down those responsible. Throughout Tuesday night and yesterday morning protesters chanted demands for the resignation of Egypt's de facto leader, Field Marshall Mohammed Hussein Tantawi, as security forces fired tear gas and rubber bullets into the crowds.

The demonstrations follow five months of accumulated frustration among many sections of the Egyptian public over the slow pace of reform since an 18-day uprising toppled Mubarak and ushered in a military junta, which has promised to hand over power to a democratically elected civilian government later this year.

There has been particular anger over the perceived lack of accountability for stalwarts of the old regime. Although some former government ministers have been found guilty of corruption, the trials of the former justice minister Habib al-Adly and Mubarak himself – the two men many hold responsible for the killing of unarmed demonstrators by police – are yet to take place, while police officers accused of unlawful killing continue in their posts and families of the victims report being bribed or threatened to drop their legal cases.

"These clashes are the result of Egypt's new regime trying to reproduce the authoritarian policies and brutal, unaccountable security apparatus that were the tools of dictatorship for the old regime, and they are a critical turning point for the revolution," said Nabil Abdel Fattah, a political analyst at the al-Ahram Centre.

"We are seeing the same tactics – tear gas, bullets, state violence – that Mubarak used, and more importantly we are hearing the same discourse from Egypt's interim rulers. 'This is a plot to destabilise the country, there are shadowy groups trying to sow discord,' claim the cabinet and the army generals, but where is this plot and who is writing it? In fact the only 'plot' is the anger of the people against a political elite that has initiated no real change, and a government that marginalises the poorest in Egyptian society and has little credibility in the eyes of the masses."

The Guardian has spoken to residents in the downtown area who claim that central security forces (CSF) asked them to come and help defend the interior ministry from "criminal thugs"[Sounds just like the Syrian Regime!] who were allegedly smashing up shops and cars in the area. "We stood with the police for some time and threw rocks at the civilians on the other side," said one man who preferred not to be named.

"We genuinely thought the CSF needed our help [The CSF was using them as human shields!] – they told us that if the thugs saw ordinary people standing side by side with the police, they would be scared off and calm would be restored. But the CSF then made the situation much worse by deliberately firing into the crowds, which brought lots of peaceful protesters on to the scene and it turned into a big battle. I don't know why the CSF did that but it felt like they wanted to make trouble."

Demonstrators claim that far from being criminals, the civilians on the street were families of those killed during January's uprising. For the past few months the terms "thugs", "criminals" and "counter-revolutionaries" have been regularly deployed by the authorities to describe anyone deemed to be provoking instability in the post-Mubarak era.

The events of the past 48 hours are likely to increase the pressure on the interim prime minister, Essam Sharaf.

"Sharaf is honest and gentle but has offered nothing substantive in terms of change; he's been reduced to a mouthpiece of the military and he must resign," said Abdel Fattah.

"People are realising that despite the rhetoric, no reform is going to be initiated by the political elite. It has to come from the street and I think the next major demonstration in Tahrir which is planned for 8 July will be an example of that.""

Fierce Street Battles In Egypt As Families Demand Justice for Loved Ones Killed During the Uprising

"In Egypt, nearly 600 people have been reported injured in Cairo’s Tahrir Square after security forces attacked a large group of protesters overnight with tear gas and rubber bullets. Tensions erupted over the lack of accountability and justice for the nearly 1,000 people people killed during the 18-day popular uprising that led to the fall of former president, Hosni Mubarak. Many of those attacked on in the ongoing clashes are family members of protesters killed during the uprising. We speak with Democracy Now!’s Sharif Abdel Kouddous who reports from Cairo....."

To Buthayna Sha`ban: on the collateral damage

By Angry Arab

"I am still pissed at the interview with Skynews that was conducted with Buthayna Sha`ban. I posted it yesterday. She referred to the innocent civilians killed by regime soldiers as "collateral damage", very much the way the US dismisses the scores of civilians who are killed by its bombs and rockets in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, and Yemen and many other places. Here is an intellectual recruited by the Asad regime and is standing by it in those times. But when she lends propaganda help to the regime in its killing of its citizens she becomes part of the killing apparatus of the regime. This is another low of the Asad regime and its lousy propaganda. "Collateral damage" was invented to dismiss and justify the murder of brown people by the White Man. Now we see it used to dismiss the killing of civilians by the Syrian regime. Sha`ban achieved a record of baseness of the Syrian regime, and when the regime falls she will be made to account for this terrorist language....."

Al-Jazeera Video: Interview: Tahrir square clashes

Al-Jazeera Video: Al Jazeera World: Staying Human

"A documentary about Vittorio Arrigoni, the Italian peace activist whose passion for helping the Palestinian people, lead to his death.

He moved to Gaza in 2008 to work for the International Solidarity Movement. He was kidnapped and killed by a Salafi group in April 2011."

Al-Jazeera Video: Exclusive: Yemen government bombed villages

"Al Jazeera has uncovered evidence of government forces bombing villages surrounding the Yemeni capital, Sanaa.

At least 20 people have been killed and many families have been forced to live in caves as they fear dying in their homes in the next attack.

We investigated the story just as a UN team begins a 10-day mission in Yemen to investigate claims of human rights violations since the crackdown began on pro-democracy protesters.

Al Jazeera's Charles Stratford has this exclusive report on the bombed villages surrounding Sanaa."

Real News Video: Austerity in Greece Meant to Break Workers' Resistance

TRNN Replay: Leo Panitch: Greece will default on its debt, banks want to make Greek people pay a heavy price

More at The Real News

Saudi Drive, by Khalil Bendib

(Click on cartoon to enlarge)

WANTED! .......By Khalil Bendib

(Click on cartoon to enlarge)

April 6 Youth Movement moves up July protest in response to clashes

Al-Masry Al-Youm

"The April 6 Youth Movement plans to stage an open sit-in in protest of the deployment of security forces and their use of violence against protesters downtown Tuesday night.

In an online statement, the group described the security reaction to protests by families of those killed during the revolution as "unfathomable and unconvincing". Security forces, which were deployed in large numbers, used tear gas and rubber bullets against those gathered in Tahrir Square.

The group said that the protests it had previously planned for 8 July will begin instead on Thursday following the dawn prayer.

April 6 also called on authorities to cease the escalation of violence and withdraw security forces from the square until the crisis is resolved......"

SCAF head meets with US deputy secretary of state

.................Virginity-Tester-in-Chief Field Marshal Tantawi..............

Al-Masry Al-Youm

"Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, head of the ruling Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF), met on Wednesday with US Deputy Secretary of State William Burns and his delegation.

The meeting tackled the democratic transition process in Egypt and the importance of US investment to Egypt's economy.

Participants also discussed recent local and regional developments as well as methods to support Egypt and boost cooperation between the two countries.

Several SCAF members and US Ambassador to Cairo Margaret Scobey attended the meeting....."

No Turkish boat to Gaza as Ankara, Tel Aviv mend fences

Barbara Slavin
The Electronic Intifada
Washington, DC29 June 2011

"WASHINGTON (IPS) - Turkey and Israel are close to resolving their dispute over last year’s flotilla attack, but the partnership that existed between them for more than a decade will almost certainly stay submerged.

As a new flotilla of ships prepared to set sail for Gaza Tuesday, Turkish and Israeli officials and analysts said that only a major breakthrough on Israeli-Palestinian peace could begin to revive a relationship that once featured joint military exercises and hordes of Israeli tourists visiting Istanbul. Even then, the officials said, they doubted that the warmth of the 1990s and the mid-2000s would resurface....."

Video: WATCH: Ali Abunimah, UNRWA’s Chris Gunness and Jerusalem Post’s Yaacov Katz debate Gaza flotilla

Ali Abunimah

"Israel's propaganda war against the Gaza Freedom Flotilla heats up. The Electronic Intifada's Ali Abunimah appeared on Russia Today's Crosstalk with Chris Gunness, spokesman for UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestine refugees, and Yaakov Katz of The Jerusalem Post....."

It’s ‘Kinetic,’ So Don’t Get Frenetic

Throw away your dictionary – we’re not at war in Libya

by Justin Raimondo, June 29, 2011

"....To Obama and his minions, the Constitution is an obstacle to be ignored, where possible, and “reinterpreted” when necessary. During his presidency, the US military is the instrument of a militant internationalism, one that murders civilians in the cause of “human rights” and seeks to spread “democracy” abroad even while ignoring basic democratic precepts on the home front.

This administration, armed with an ideology so far removed from American traditions and sheer common sense, is far more dangerous than its war-maddened predecessor. At least Bush spared us the verbal gymnastics and never denied he intended to take us to war. The current occupant of the Oval Office wants us to consider him a modern Gandhi while besting Bush at his own game. The pretentious doubletalk engaged in by this White House is an insult to the American people, and yet another measure of Obama’s monumental arrogance. "

The hoax video blog and the plot to smear a Gaza aid mission

By Catrina Stewart in Jerusalem
The Independent

"A bizarre video where a gay activist claims he was prevented from taking part in the upcoming Gaza-bound flotilla because of his sexual orientation has been exposed as an Israeli hoax.

It appears to be the latest in a dirty-tricks campaign that includes sabotage and legal challenges orchestrated by groups seeking to derail and discredit efforts by activists to sail into Gaza's waters to challenge Israel's blockade of the Palestinian territory....."

A short story of academic oppression in Egypt

The real scandal at Cairo University is not the lesbian scene in a reading list text, but the cynical propaganda launched against it

Amira Nowaira, Wednesday 29 June 2011

"Academic freedom comes once again under attack in Egypt. An article published in the state-owned al-Akhbar newspaper under the provocative title "Teaching homosexuality at Cairo University" launched a frenzied attack on the university's English department for including a short story containing a lesbian scene on its curriculum.

This is by no means the first time that literature departments have come under fire from self-appointed guardians of public morality.....

The elected dean is not only a professor in the English department but also a woman. If her appointment becomes ratified, she will be the first female dean of the faculty of arts at Cairo University. One wonders if a fabricated moral scandal is not being used to discredit a department that has a majority of women on its staff, including the head of department as well as the teacher of said course.

The president of Cairo University has not ratified the election results yet and it is still unclear whether he will. Many university professors are vowing to take action if their call for democratic elections of university leadership is ignored.

Since the publication of the Akhbar article, English students and graduates have been increasingly vocal in rejecting any interference in academic curricula. They have created several Facebook groups that denounce any form of academic censorship at Cairo University.

"To fight for what we believe in, to take charge of our destiny and to make a difference, these are a few of the many lessons we have learned in the English department," wrote a student on one of these forums. "With our increasing numbers we have proven that we are willing to stand up and fight the good fight against ignorance and intolerance."

A radical Islamist cleric has recently called for the abolition of foreign literature departments because, according to him, they produce human beings who are culturally and intellectually deformed. But if the ability to think and argue and form independent opinions is a mark of intellectual deformity, then let us all hail such deformity.

To this cleric as well as to all the others who wrongly believe that they can close all the windows and shut all the doors, I can only say that they cannot take away our keys. They will have to understand that academic freedom is non-negotiable."

Battle breaks out in Tahrir Square, once again

Security forces and demonstrators clash in Cairo after former interior minister's trial is put off without explanation

Jack Shenker in Cairo
The Guardian, Wednesday 29 June 2011

"Clashes between protesters and security forces engulfed Cairo once again on Tuesday night, as the fiercest street battles since the fall of Hosni Mubarak left dozens injured.

Fighting began after dark, following earlier protests by relatives of those killed during this spring's uprising.

Armed central security police showered Tahrir Square with tear gas canisters and fired bullets into the air as several thousand demonstrators amassed and called for the resignation of Egypt's de facto head of state, Field Marshall Mohamed Hussein Tantawi.

Some members of the crowd tore up paving stones and threw them towards police lines.

The Guardian witnessed successive volleys of tear gas launched into the square and surrounding streets by government forces, including towards areas where ambulances had congregated to treat the wounded. Injured protesters, mostly with head wounds and gas inhalation, were carried to safety on the shoulders of fellow demonstrators.

"Mubarak was nothing – this is the revolution," said one man caught by tear gas.

The interior ministry blamed a group of "thugs" for the unrest [The same language used by the Pharaoh!]......

Protesters vociferously denied that suggestion, insisting that the police had attacked unarmed relatives of the martyrs – an account seemingly backed up by unverified videos posted on YouTube.

The violence came after the trial of the former interior minister, Habib al-Adly, on the charge of unlawfully killing pro-change protesters had been delayed by a judge this week, with no reason given to the public. "People are saying that we've replaced one Habib al-Adly with another," said Mostafa Hussein, a 30-year-old activist in Tahrir.

"They believe the interior ministry has returned to its former incarnation under the Mubarak regime."....."

Protesters clash with riot police in Tahir Square, Cairo – in pictures

Egyptian protesters flee as teargas is fired at them by riot police in Cairo

The Guardian

(10 photos)

VIDEO – Tahrir Intifada 29 June morning صباح ٢٩ يونيو – شارع محمد محمود

فيديو من قلب أحداث صباح 29 يونيو
Courtesy of Hossam El-Hamalawy

VIDEO – Tahrir Intifada انتفاضة التحرير

Courtesy of Hossam El-Hamalawy

أحداث التحرير 28 يونيو - 1

Seeing Syria through the sniper's sights

.....................................................Chief Butcher: Maher Assad........................................

"Being told to kill peaceful civilians is the most brutal thing that ever happened to me," says defected former sniper.

Hugh Macleod and Annasofie Flamand

"In the dead of night in southern Syria, on a road near the town of Izra', a truck driver is flagged down by a group of men.

It's May 25 and the men, clearly agitated, explain why they need a lift urgently: The group of 21 are soldiers defecting from the army's Division 47 after a month deployed in Deraa, the cradle of the Syrian uprising.

This is the story of how one of those men, a sniper, took the decision to flee the bloodshed and the orders to kill protesters he said came to him directly from President Bashar al-Assad's brother Maher.

"Being told by officers to kill peaceful and unarmed civilians is the most brutal thing that ever happened to me," said the defected former sniper, a member of the special forces of the army's Division 47, which he said was deployed from Damascus to Izra', 30km north-east of Deraa, on April 25.

Al Jazeera spoke twice to the soldier by phone from his exile in neighbouring Turkey and has corroborated his testimony with that gathered by Insan, a leading Syrian human rights organisation and Avaaz, the global rights organisation.

At the request of the soldier, Al Jazeera agreed not to reveal his name, military ID, hometown and other personal details, though the organisation has seen them, as it has the names of the sniper's commanding officers.

"The decision to desert the army was a life and death decision for me," he said. "It was impossible for me to continue watching people dropping dead in front of my eyes every day - even if they were not killed by me."...."

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

It Takes People On the Outside: Prestigious Author Alice Walker to Confront Israeli Naval Blockade of Gaza on U.S. Aid Ship

"Israel continues to threaten a group of international activists planning to sail to Gaza this week with humanitarian aid. Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said participants in the 10-boat flotilla are seeking "confrontation and blood." Last year, Israeli forces killed nine people aboard the Gaza-bound Mavi Marmara. Meanwhile, activists say one of the 10 boats scheduled to sail to Gaza has been sabotaged in a Greek port. Saboteurs reportedly cut off the propeller shaft of a ship shared by Swedish, Norwegian and Greek activist. Organizers say the boat will be repaired in time to sail to Gaza. One of the other ships that will try to reach Gaza from Greece is the "Audacity of Hope." It’s set to carry up to 50 U.S. citizens carrying letters to Gaza residents. One of the ship’s passengers is the acclaimed author, poet and activist Alice Walker. She has written many books, including “The Color Purple,” for which she was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for fiction. On Monday, Alice Walker spoke at a Freedom Flotilla news conference in the Greek capital of Athens. “I am going to Gaza because my government has failed to understand or care about the Gazan people, but worse than that, it is ignorant of our own history in the United States,” Walker said. “For instance, when black people were enslaved for 300 years, it took a lot of people in the outside of our communities to help free us.”...."

Today's Cartoon by the Syrian Cartoonist Ali Ferzat

The View of the "Opposition" Meeting in Damascus..

Al-Jazeera Video: Interview with ICC's Moreno-Ocampo on arrest warrant for Gaddafi

Al-Jazeera Video: Protesters call on Israel to lift blockade on Gaza

"Israel's security cabinet has voted to prevent an international flotilla from reaching Gaza, by any means possible.

The group of boats is due to leave Greece in a few days.

Ehud Barak, the Israeli defence minister, says any resulting confrontation will be the responsibility of the organisers.

The Freedom Flotilla II is part of the "Free Gaza movement" - a coalition of human rights groups which sends ships to break Israel's strict naval blockade of the Gaza Strip.

In 2008 it successfully entered Gaza five times.

However, the movement has been intercepted on the past four voyages - including the lethal attack by Israeli forces on the Freedom Flotilla last year on May 31. Nine people, mostly Turkish activists, were killed and many more injured.

Al Jazeera's Barnaby Philips reports from the Greek capital, Athens. "