Saturday, January 23, 2010

Reporters without Borders say Arab TV police plan "disturbing"

"Cairo - Media watchdog Reporters without Borders said Saturday that the Arab joint proposal to create a regional office to monitor satellite channels is a 'disturbing' move.

'This proposal is disturbing,' Reporters Without Borders said in a statement. 'The danger is that this super-police could be used to censor all TV stations that criticize the region's governments. It could eventually be turned into a formidable weapon against freedom of information.'

Arab information ministers will meet in Cairo on Sunday to discuss an Egyptian-Saudi proposal to create a regional office to supervise Arab satellite TV stations.

Reporters Without Borders said the proposal comes after the US bill that could brand satellite operators as 'terrorist entities' if they broadcast anything by television channels classified as 'terrorist' by the US Congress.

The Paris-based organization said that the main TV stations targeted by the proposal are the Qatar-based al-Jazeera, al-Aqsa TV of the Palestinian militant group Hamas and the al-Manar television station of Lebanon's Shiite Islamist group Hezbollah.

Lebanon and Qatar oppose the proposal, Reporters Without Borders said......"

Palestinian PM to participate in Israeli security conference

"In response to Obama’s call for “bold steps for peace,” the Fatah leadership has agreed to circumcision en masse. The Reverend Sun Myung Moon of the Unification Church will reportedly officiate. Expressing concern, Netanyahu demanded as a “confidence-building” measure that Arafat’s corpse be circumcized. The late chairman’s widow Suha Arafat objected that it was a cheap publicity stunt, but privately expressed a willingness to negotiate. Saeb Ereket couldn’t be reached for comment: his phone message stated, “The peace process is dying, the peace process is dying, the peace process is dying.” Abu Ala also could not be reached for comment. His secretary stated that he was negotatiating an important deal with Egypt regarding deliveries of “steel and cement.”.....

"Palestinian National Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad will participate in the Herzliya Conference early next month with Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, organizers of the annual Israeli strategy conference said Wednesday in a potentially encouraging sign that Palestinians might be taking a step toward exploring a return to peace negotiations....."

CounterPunch Diary

Sour Grapes for Goldstone

By Alexander Cockburn

"The Goldstone Report has been excoriated by the Israel lobby, denounced by the US Congress and cheered by the left for its unsparing condemnation of Israel’s conduct during its onslaught on Gaza a year ago. But Goldstone insisted as part of his brief that he would equate the actions of the occupied with those of the occupier. This is the premise of his report, and in our latest, subscriber-only newsletter, Jennifer Loewenstein describes the consequences of this fatal flaw.

“Operation Cast Lead,” Loewenstein writes, “is rarely characterized as an act of illegal and unjustifiable aggression. In fact, ultimately Goldstone’s depiction of Israel’s assault on Gaza as exercising its legitimate ‘right to self-defense’ is entirely consistent with what both U.S. and Israeli governmental and media spokespeople claimed from the beginning. …The 36 war crimes selected for careful review by the Goldstone Commission were but a sampling of thousands of illegal and unspeakable acts of savagery committed against the civilian population of Gaza; indeed, they defined the operation by being the rule rather than the exception. The entire operation was one monstrous war crime, but this plain fact eludes Justice Goldstone just as it is overlooked today in our memorials and analyses of what happened to an imprisoned and defenseless population, 56 per cent of whom are children. The ‘defensive’ nature of Israel’s military operation is rarely questioned or even noticed, and because Justice Richard Goldstone himself never undertook to question whether Operation Cast Lead had any legitimate basis from the start, the overall legal value of the Goldstone Report is seriously flawed.”

You’ll find Loewenstein’s full, brilliant analysis in this latest, subscriber-only newsletter....."

Gaza's thin red line one year later

A Palestine Red Crescent Society ambulance, destroyed by Israeli bombing at the al-Quds hospital and PRCS station, Tel al-Hawa, Gaza City.

The ambulance which Arafa Abd al-Dayem was loading when he was fatally struck by an Israeli-fired dart bomb.

Ahmed Abu Foul in the destroyed Palestine Red Crescent Society station, Ezbet Abed Rabbo.

Eva Bartlett, The Electronic Intifada, 22 January 2010
(Eva Bartlett is a Canadian human rights advocate and freelancer who arrived in Gaza in November 2008 on the third Free Gaza Movement boat. She has been volunteering with the International Solidarity Movement and documenting Israel's ongoing attacks on Palestinians in Gaza. During Israel's recent assault on Gaza, she and other ISM volunteers accompanied ambulances and documenting the Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip.)

"....Like Hammouda, Graith speaks wryly of the Israeli explanation for such attacks.

"Why shoot at ambulances? Why destroy them? Why kill medics?" he asks. "The Israelis say we are militants or are carrying militants, that's the reason they give for targeting medics. Lies, all lies. In our ambulances there are only ever wounded or martyred."

While the destruction of ambulances is a major obstacle to medics' work, Graith calls for more than mere aid.

"We don't want new ambulances from the international community. We want you to see what Israel does and apply pressure to stop Israel from firing on ambulances."

He emphasizes, "Go to the root of the problem.""

U.S. Policy in Gaza Remains Unchanged

(Click on cartoon by Carlos Latuff to enlarge)

By Charles Fromm and Ellen Massey

"WASHINGTON, Jan 22, 2010 (IPS) - One year ago Thursday, the last Israeli tanks were lumbering out of the Gaza Strip, ending the 22-day Gaza War and leaving in their wake a decimated landscape and population.

A year later, the humanitarian and security situation in the devastated coastal enclave remains dire, yet the Barack Obama administration continues to overlook the crisis in Gaza, an approach which some experts say is an extension of the previous administration's policy.

This policy has also done little to alleviate what human rights groups warn is a growing humanitarian crisis, plunging the Gaza Strip further into poverty and insecurity.

Sworn into office in the midst of the Gaza War, President Obama gave early prominence to the Middle East peace process in his administration's foreign policy. Yet that rhetoric has failed to materialise into progress on the peace process or relief for the people of Gaza....."

The never-ending exodus of Christians from the Middle East

One of the oldest sects in the world is still fleeing sectarian violence for the West

By Robert Fisk

"I have usually found that the closer a religious Christian, Jew or Muslim comes to the Middle East, the madder they become..... that crazed, glazed, faith-based lunacy that must have inhabited the eyes of the Crusaders when they slaughtered their way across the Holy Land, dropping off near modern-day Homs in modern-day Syria to consume – literally – some of their Arab enemies.....

Was I the only one to react with a total lack of surprise to the news that Muslim Afghan soldiers are fighting Muslim Taliban fighters with a coded inscription on their rifle sights from the Bible's Book of John?.....

Not since the Serbs and Lebanese Phalangists set off to massacre and rape their Muslim enemies over the past three decades with pictures of the Virgin Mary on their rifle butts has there been anything so preposterous......Indeed, 'twas I who first spotted two American M(12A)1 Abrams tanks parked in central Baghdad in 2003 with "Crusader 1" and "Crusader 2" painted on their barrels. But since the man who sent them there – check out Bush's lunatic conversation with Chirac – believes in Gog and Magog, what's new? Don't tell me no one in the Pentagon (or the British Ministry of Defence, which has an order in for another 400 Trijicon sites) didn't query that weird "JN8:12" on the equipment.

No wonder then – and here's a real tragedy – that Christians are in a state of perpetual exodus from the Middle East.....

Courtesy of that great Bible-reader George W Bush, the Christians of post-invasion Iraq – one of the oldest sects in the world – are still fleeing sectarian violence for the West. They've been murdered and burned out of their homes. Why, even the head of the superior Islamic council of Iraq, Ammar al-Hakim, turned up in Beirut this week to tell the Maronite Catholic patriarch of Lebanon that he was doing "all he could" for his Iraqi Christian brothers and sisters......

The Christians of Lebanon would say the same, forgetting their own murderous militias of the civil war.....of Malaysia, where Christians are now under attack for being allowed to call their God "Allah". The fact that Muslims and Christians both believe in the same deity has no apparent value. Indeed, in God's name – quite literally – the very name of the very patriarch of the Lebanese church is Nasrallah Sfeir – the "allah" bit meaning exactly what it sounds like. Ye Gods, I suppose we must say!

But I was heartened to read a fine article by my wise old journalist friend Jihad Zein in the Lebanese newspaper An Nahar last week. He believes that governments in the Muslim world have been repressing societies but – and I hope I have grasped his complex argument correctly – repressed societies are now repressing minorities.....

The British tolerated – and in some cases actually covered up – the genocide of Assyrians in northern Iraq by their installed Iraqi monarch's army in 1933.....In any event, the Zein thesis is that Middle East governments have abandoned the idea of cultural authority in the interests of safeguarding the security of their political society. The Fisk thesis is that minorities don't count any more.

But don't bet on it. Was it not the army of Israel which named its 1996 bombardment of Lebanon "Grapes of Wrath", an operation which included the atrocity at Qana, when 106 Lebanese civilians, more than half of them children and including mothers and old men, were torn to bits by Israeli shells? And did not Grapes of Wrath take its name from chapter 32, verse 25 of the Book of Deuteronomy in which it is said that "the sword without, and terror within, shall destroy both the young man and the virgin, the suckling also with the man of grey hairs". All in all, a good description of the massacre at Qana. Or of those innocent Afghan villagers torn to bits in Nato's heroic air strikes. Indeed, I wouldn't be surprised to hear that DY32:25 is inscribed on Nato's bombs. Work that one out."

Israelis protest over 'fascist' Jerusalem settlements

Demonstrations against evictions of Palestinians to make way for Jewish settlers

By Donald Macintyre in Jerusalem
The Independent

"At least 15 protesters were arrested yesterday as several hundred left-wing Israelis held their biggest demonstration yet against demolitions and evictions of east Jerusalem Palestinians designed to make way for Jewish settlers.

Police moved in to force back the noisy but largely peaceful protest in Sheikh Jarrah, the inner-city district that has rapidly become the main flashpoint of the struggle to prevent further government and local authority-approved inroads by settler groups in the city.

Organisers of the demonstration, which had been kept behind a police cordon at the entrance to one of the neighbourhood's residential streets, said that two Palestinians had been injured by stone-throwing settlers further along the road and beyond the barrier......"

Friday, January 22, 2010

Ammar Al-Hakim in Beirut

By Angry Arab

"I saw a press conference by this leader of the Badr Shi`ite sectarian militia in Beirut. He met with everybody there. But the press grilled him. He paid tributes and praised armed resistance against Israeli occupation. He even laid a wreath at the tomb of `Imad Mughniyyah. He may receive a number of lashes on his buttocks upon returning to Iraq.

He said that there is no need to criticize the American occupation because 1) it is in the past--kid you not; 2) Bush and Rice admitted mistakes; 3) there are no more US military bases in Iraq--kid you not. He said that.

For those who catalogue the crimes in the Middle East, especially the crimes against the Palestinian people: remember that this is a commander of a militia that terrorized and expelled the Palestinian population in Iraq. For that alone, and for the use of torture, and for serving as tools of occupation, this sectarian militia should not be forgiven....

`Ammar Al-Hakim spoke on NBN TV. He said that he supports resistance "in the right frames and contexts." I kid you not. This is like Dahlan speaking about Palestinian resistance. He said that his movement pursued "political resistance." Not to be outdone, Antoine Lahd--speaking from his restaurant in occupied Palestine--said that he pursued collaborationist resistance against Israel in South Lebanon. "

Latin American leaders say US occupying Haiti

Press TV

"Venezuela, Bolivia and Nicaragua say the US is using the international relief operation in Haiti as a cover-up for a military takeover.

Bolivian President Evo Morales said that he will request an emergency UN meeting to reject what he calls the US military occupation of Haiti.

"It's not right that the United States should use this natural disaster to invade and militarily occupy Haiti," Morales told a press conference on Wednesday. "If you have all these problems with the injured and the dead from the earthquake, you have to go there to save lives, and you don't do that from a military standpoint," he added.

An outspoken critic of US policies, Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez also had accused Washington of occupying Haiti "under the guise of the natural disaster."...."

U.S. troops to help oversee Haiti ports, roads in earthquake relief

By Colum Lynch
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, January 22, 2010

"The United States on Friday secured formal approval for the U.S. military to help oversee all Haitian air and sea ports, and to help secure Haitian roads in support of international relief efforts, according to an agreement signed in Haiti by the United States and the United Nations.

The pact gives Haitian authorities and the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Haiti primary responsibility for maintaining law and order in the earthquake-ravaged country. But it grants the United States broad scope to intervene in civil disturbances, subject to a request by Haitian authorities......"

Current Al-Jazeera (Arabic) Online Poll

This poll asks:

Do you really see that some Arabic satellite (TV) stations constitute a threat to American national security?

With over 1,800 responding so far, 79% said no.

Security ‘Red Zones’ in Haiti Preventing Large Aid Groups From Effectively Distributing Aid

Democracy Now!
With Amy Goodman

"As thousands of well-equipped U.S. soldiers pour into Haiti, there is an increasing concern about the militarization of the country, supporting the soldiers and not the people. Or, as one doctor put it, ‘people need gauze, not guns.’ We take a look at aid distribution in Haiti and the effect on Haitians fighting to survive in the aftermath of the earthquake....."

Real News Video: Obama's human rights record Pt.1

One year later, Michael Ratner assesses President Obama's human rights record

More at The Real News

Haiti Again

January 22, 2010
By Phyllis Bennis

"....But the reality is, on the ground, some of the same problems that we've seen so many times before have already emerged, as U.S. military forces take charge, as the United Nations is pushed aside by overbearing U.S. power, as desperate humanitarian needs take a back seat to the Pentagon's priorities. Saturday morning's New York Times quoted Secretary of State Clinton saying, "we are working to back them [the Haitian government] up but not to supplant them."

That was good. But then she said she expected the Haitian government to pass an emergency decree including things like the right to impose curfews. "The decree would give the government an enormous amount of authority, which in practice they would delegate to us," Clinton said. So much for "not supplanting them."

Already the U.S. military controls the airport. That means, according to the UN's World Food Program, that of the 200 flights in and out each day, "most of these flights are for the United States military. Their priorities are to secure the country. Ours are to feed."....."

Lebanon activists launch campaign targeting Egypt's "wall of shame"

Ahmed Moor, The Electronic Intifada, 21 January 2010

"The Campaign to Stop the Wall of Shame, a newly-formed activist movement based in Beirut, Lebanon, held a press conference this morning to publicize the Arab Contractors construction company's role in the building of an underground steel wall along the Egypt-Gaza border.....

The alleged role of Arab Contractors in assembling the steel wall was first reported by Al-Jazeera and Egyptian journalist Lina Attalah. Local sources identified the Egyptian company by name. According to the BBC, the wall's steel panels were engineered and manufactured in the US. Press reports also implicate French engineers in the construction of the wall......

Activists pledged to pressure Arab Contractors and by extension, the Egyptian government, for their role in the siege of Gaza. Rania Masri told The Electronic Intifada: "Arab Contractors is more vulnerable and more capable of being influenced than the Egyptian government ... But one protest, one press conference, one article will not be transformative and will not cause dramatic policy shift. Our actions must be measured to have an additive effect. This is one more step in a long journey.""

Full house for Gaza Freedom March report back at Judson Church, NYC. #GFM

World Report: Abusers Target Human Rights Messengers

January 20, 2010

"(Tel Aviv) - Governments responsible for serious human rights violations have over the past year intensified attacks against human rights defenders and organizations that document abuse, Human Rights Watch said today in its World Report 2010.

The 612-page report, the organization's 20th annual review of human rights practices around the globe, summarizes major human rights trends in more than 90 nations and territories worldwide, reflecting the extensive investigative work carried out in 2009 by Human Rights Watch staff.....

Local and international human rights groups working in Israel have experienced a more hostile climate than ever before after documenting abuses committed by Israel, as well as Hamas, during the December 2008 - January 2009 fighting in Gaza and Israel and in connection with Israel's ongoing blockade of Gaza.....

In Gaza and Israel, Human Rights Watch documented laws-of-war violations by both Israel and Palestinian armed groups. Israel's military assault of a year ago included the unlawful use of white phosphorus munitions, the killing of civilians with missiles launched by drones, and the shooting of civilians waving white flags....

In Egypt, where the government holds an estimated 5,000 to 10,000 persons without charge, Human Rights Watch monitored the suppression of political dissent by arbitrary detention and unfair trials. Authorities harassed rights activists and detained journalists, bloggers, and members of the Muslim Brotherhood, the banned Islamist organization that is the country's largest opposition group.

In Saudi Arabia, Human Rights Watch reported on indefinite and arbitrary detention and unfair trials on charges ranging from "sorcery" to terrorism. The report documents the systematic suppression and failure to protect the rights of 14 million Saudi women and girls, eight million foreign workers, and two million Shia....."

Click Here to Download Report (pdf)

Coulda Been A Contenda

My life as a politician

by Justin Raimondo, January 22, 2010

"......More than a decade after my quixotic bid, the political class – of which Pelosi is the exemplar – are trembling. A wave of anti-incumbent, anti-Washington populism is sweeping the country, and the pundits – the equivalent of courtiers at the palace of Versailles – are in a tizzy trying to explain it away, hoping against hope that it will go away so they can go back to their lives of complacency and cronyism. But I have news for them: it isn’t going away. As I wrote in November of last year:

"Our ruling elite is on a collision course with the citizenry. There is, at present, no way for disenfranchised voters to register their protest, and have their voices heard, and the pressure is building – slowly but surely – as Americans begin to ask where it will all end. We are headed for an era of unprecedented political and social turmoil, as the economy tanks and the wages of intervention are paid in the form of more ‘blowback’ such as we experienced on 9/11. The America we know and love is rapidly sliding down into the abyss of national bankruptcy and international opprobrium – and our "leaders" are not only helpless to stop it, they are actively pushing us toward the edge."

Will leaders arise to keep us from going off the cliff? No one can say: all I know is that the peasants with pitchforks are on the march. That’s bad news for Coakley, Pelosi, and our regnant elites – and good news for the rest of us."

The age of the killer robot is no longer a sci-fi fantasy

You can't appeal to robots for mercy or empathy - or punish them afterwards

By Johann Hari
The Independent

"In the dark, in the silence, in a blink, the age of the autonomous killer robot has arrived. It is happening. They are deployed. And – at their current rate of acceleration – they will become the dominant method of war for rich countries in the 21st century. These facts sound, at first, preposterous. The idea of machines that are designed to whirr out into the world and make their own decisions to kill is an old sci-fi fantasy: picture a mechanical Arnold Schwarzenegger blasting a truck and muttering: "Hasta la vista, baby." But we live in a world of such whooshing technological transformation that the concept has leaped in just five years from the cinema screen to the battlefield – with barely anyone back home noticing......."

The Empire's Work is Never Done: US says it will stay in Haiti for long term

Press TV

"Despite criticism for the US military presence in quake-stricken Haiti, Washington says it has a long-term plan to stay in the country.

"We are there for the long term, this is not something that will be resolved quickly and easily," US Ambassador to the UN Alejandro Wolff said on Thursday.

Just three days after a magnitude 7 earthquake jolted Haiti on January 12, the United States began to send military forces to the impoverished Caribbean nation.

The head of US Southern Command General Douglas Fraser said on Thursday that nearly 20,000 US troops are due to operate, both on land and offshore, by Sunday......"

Obama holding the fort for now

(Cartoon by Carlos Latuff)
By Marwan Bishara

"Since taking office, President Obama has been more of a manager than a leader. Mostly, he has managed expectations - but also the deteriorating foreign policy he inherited from his predecessor.

He made symbolic foreign policy gestures to please his progressive and liberal supporters, as well as enacting new policies to appease the establishment's military and political heavyweights.

President Obama signed on shutting down Guantanamo but then postponed its closure, extended a hand to the Muslim world, then at his generals' demand, escalated the war in Afghanistan.

He demanded a total Israeli settlement freeze then backed down, announced plans for a world free of nuclear weapons but went on to implement it selectively against Iran.

Obama's foreign policy sermons preached new foreign policy on the basis of "mutual respect and mutual interest" and extended "a hand to those who unclench their fists".

In less than a year, he's seeking to impose more sanctions on Tehran, and extend America's clenched fist to "extremists" in Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen......

And the Pentagon, like the banks, has proven too big to fail. They continue to be subsidised to the tune of $700bn annually, almost double its pre 2001 budget and no less than the combined military spending of all other nations.

Like all great empires, American superpower has been built on financial might and backed by the military. As its debt skyrockets, money dries up, and its military fails to achieve swift military victories against weak opponents, so will its status deteriorate and its might dwindle.

President Obama can hold the fort for only so long."

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Making of History /An ivory tower view of Israel

Last week, a team of researchers at Brandeis University released some unexpected findings about Israel's place in the curricula of American institutions of higher learning. It emerges that in the past three years, there has been a dramatic growth - of 69 percent - in the number of courses that focus on Israel. Together, the more than 300 colleges and universities surveyed in the study offer over 1,400 courses related in some way to Israel, including over 500 courses that focus specifically on the country. All told, these institutions have approximately three million students, of whom some 250,000 are Jews.

Furthermore, the researchers found a conspicuous increase in the number of courses related to Israel even among those institutions where relatively few Jews are enrolled. Such courses have also proliferated at highly prestigious American universities such as Harvard (from two courses to six), Princeton (from one course to five) and Yale (from three to six).
The scholars who conducted the study, which was itself funded by the Schusterman Family Foundation, note with special satisfaction that most of the courses about Israel do not deal with its political situation, but rather with Israeli culture, including literature, music, cinema and cuisine. So this is an Israel without Palestinians - as many Israelis, as well as many American Jews, would like it to be.

Oslo and the end of Palestinian independence

The Oslo agreement aimed to end the Palestinian quest for liberation and justice and continues to pose the most significant challenge to both

By Joseph Massad

(The writer teaches modern Arab politics and intellectual history at Columbia University. This is the text of a speech he delivered at a conference in Oslo in 2009.)
Al-Ahram Weekly

"....Ultimately then, what the Oslo agreement and the process it generated have achieved is a foreclosure of any real or imagined future independence of the Palestinian leadership, or even national independence for one third of the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza who are, at any rate, the only Palestinians that the Oslo agreement claims to want to help achieve it. By mortgaging the Palestinian leadership to US and Israeli sponsorship, by creating and maintaining administrative, legal and financial structures that will ensure this dependence, Oslo has been what it was designed to be from the start: the mechanism of ending the Palestinian quest to end Israeli colonialism and occupation, and the legitimation of Israel's racist nature by the very people over whom it exercises its colonial and racist dominion. Anyone who questions these strictures can be fought with the ideological weapon of pragmatism. Opposing Oslo makes one a utopian extremist and rejectionist, while participating in its structure makes one a pragmatist moderate person working for peace. The most effective ideological weapon that Oslo has deployed since 1993 is precisely that anyone who opposes its full surrender of Palestinian national rights is a proponent of war and an opponent of peace. In short, the goal of the Oslo process, which has been reached with much success, is not the establishment of Palestinian independence from Israel's illegal occupation, but rather to end Palestinian independence as a future goal and as a current reality. Seen from this angle, Oslo continues to be a resounding success."

Q&A: Obama on His First Year in Office

By Joe Klein
Time, Thursday, Jan. 21, 2010

".....The other area which I think is worth noting is that the Middle East peace process has not moved forward. And I think it's fair to say that for all our efforts at early engagement, it is not where I want it to be.....

I'll be honest with you. A) This is just really hard. Even for a guy like George Mitchell, who helped bring about the peace in Northern Ireland. This is as intractable a problem as you get. B) Both sides — the Israelis and the Palestinians — have found that the political environment, the nature of their coalitions or the divisions within their societies, were such that it was very hard for them to start engaging in a meaningful conversation. And I think that we overestimated our ability to persuade them to do so when their politics ran contrary to that. From [Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud] Abbas' perspective, he's got Hamas looking over his shoulder and, I think, an environment generally within the Arab world that feels impatient with any process.

And on the Israeli front — although the Israelis, I think, after a lot of time showed a willingness to make some modifications in their policies, they still found it very hard to move with any bold gestures. And so what we're going to have to do — I think it is absolutely true that what we did this year didn't produce the kind of breakthrough that we wanted, and if we had anticipated some of these political problems on both sides earlier, we might not have raised expectations as high....."

"Jerusalem is in danger"

Nimer Sultany, The Electronic Intifada, 21 January 2010
(Nimer Sultany is a Palestinian citizen of Israel and a doctoral candidate at Harvard Law School.)

"Once again, Israel resorts to show trials. Sheikh Raed Salah, a prominent political and religious leader of the Palestinian minority, was sentenced on 13 January by an Israeli court to nine months of imprisonment. This is his second conviction in recent years. This time the allegation was that he assaulted a policeman and obstructed police work during a demonstration at al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem.

The legal jargon notwithstanding, the persecution of Salah is part and parcel of two processes already underway -- the crackdown on Arab leaders and political activists inside Israel and the Israeli campaign for creating facts on the ground in Jerusalem to entrench the illegal occupation.

Indeed, in recent years Israel has been intensifying its Judaization of Jerusalem by building new Jewish neighborhoods, evicting Arab families from their homes, house demolitions, refusing to grant building permits to Palestinian Jerusalemites to force them to leave, stripping them of their residence status under dubious excuses, isolating Jerusalem from the rest of the West Bank, and restricting the numbers and ages of Palestinians allowed to pray at the al-Aqsa mosque...."

Desecration Unto the Nations: Settlers Desecrate Muslim Cemetery Near Nablus

"A group of fundamentalist settlers vandalized and desecrated on Wednesday a Muslim cemetery near the northern West Bank city of Nablus.

The settlers apparently first ate at the cemetery leaving food remnants behind, and then damaged three tombstones and sprayed anti-Arab graffiti in the cemetery that belong to Awarta town, near Nablus.

Israeli daily, Haaretz, reported that the discovery was made only hours after Israeli soldiers and fundamentalist settlers were seen in the cemetery......

Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, B’Tselem, managed to interview some residents and took pictures of the damage....."

سلام فياض يشارك في مؤتمر هرتسليا للأمن القومي الإسرائيلي

أعلن منظمو مؤتمر «هرتسليا للأمن والمناعة القومية»، أن رئيس الوزراء الفلسطيني سلام فياض سيشارك في المؤتمر الذي تنطلق أعماله نهاية الشهر الجاري.

وينظم المؤتمر سنويا على يد «معهد الدراسات والإستراتيجية» ويعتبر من أهم المؤتمرات الإسرائيلية في شؤون الأمن والسياسية والشؤون الإستراتيجية.

ويشارك في المؤتمر مسؤولون ومسؤولون سابقون إسرائيليون ، وخبراء ومسؤولون غربيون. وأعلن المؤتمر أن وزير الأمن إيهود باراك سيشارك في المؤتمر.

القضايا المطروحة على جدول أعمال المؤتمر هذا العام: المشروع النووي الإيراني ؛ الأزمة الاقتصادية العالمية ؛ أمن الطاقة ؛ مكانة إسرائيل في الساحة الإعلامية العالمية ؛ التوجهات الاستراتيجية في أوروبا والولايات المتحدة وإسرائيل ؛ والعملية السياسية في الشرق الأوسط"

Fayyad To Participate In Israel’s National Security Conference

"Organizers of the Hertzilia National Security Conference in Israel stated that Palestinian Prime Minister, Dr. Salaam Fayyad, would be participating in the conference scheduled to start by the end of this month.

The annually organized conference is hosted by the Strategic Studies Center, and is considered one of the most important Israeli conferences that deal with security, politics and strategic affairs. Senior former and current Israeli officials, Israeli security experts, and western officials would also be part of the conference.

Israel’s Defense Minister, Ehud Barak, is also scheduled to participate.

The conference agendas for this year include “the Iranian nuclear project”, international economical crisis, energy, Israel’s position in world media, the strategic affairs of Israel, the United States and the European Union, and the Middle East Peace Process. "

Bottled Water Supplies in Port-au-Prince Airport Being Distributed…to US Embassy

Democracy Now!
With Amy Goodman

"In the airport in Port-au-Prince, huge pallets of aid, including medical supplies, food and water sit in fields around the tarmac. Amy Goodman reports on how hundreds of cases of bottled water are being delivered to the U.S. embassy...."

Al-Jazeera Video: Palestinians build Israeli homes

"Israel's settlements in the occupied West Bank are one of the main stumbling blocks in the Palestinian-Israeli peace process.

Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, is refusing to continue talks until there is a complete freeze in their construction.

However, some Palestinian workers have no other way to make ends meet othert than to work for Israeli construction companies building the illegal settlements."

Al-Jazeera Video: Militaries use US Biblical weapon sights

"Revelations that US troops have been using guns with a Biblical reference inscribed on part of the weapon throws the claim that their military is a secular force into question. The Pentagon has been buying scopes from a company called Trijicon for at least five years. Its South African founder started the practice three decades ago. The company has continued to insrcribe the parts ever since. Al Jazeera's David Chater has more on the gun sights which are being used in Afghanistan. (Jan 21, 09)."

Israel steps up arrests of grassroots activists

Press release, Adalah-NY, CodePink: Women for Peace, Jewish Voice for Peace and the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, 20 January 2010

"The following press release was issued by Adalah-NY, CodePink: Women for Peace, Jewish Voice for Peace and the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation on 19 January 2010:

Israel must end a wave of arrests of Palestinian civil society members who are organizing protests and boycotts opposing Israeli rights violations, Adalah-NY, CodePink: Women for Peace, Jewish Voice for Peace and the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation said today. While prominent protest and boycott organizers from the Palestinian organization Stop the Wall Jamal Juma' and Mohammad Othman were released last week after nearly one and four months of detention respectively, nightly arrests continue in the West Bank, with eight more arrests on 18 January in the village of Nilin......."

Iran and Latin America: The Media States Its Case

By Ramzy Baroud
Palestine Chronicle

"....The US continues to see the world as its own business. It gives itself and its allies, most notably Israel, the right to geopolitical maneuverability. Iran, on the other hand, is censured, derided and punished for even its own internal policies, within its own borders. Thus, an Iranian move into Latin America is naturally viewed as unwarranted, uncalled for and most definitely dangerous as far as the US is concerned.....

But why the charged, exaggerated commentary?

A seemingly random Economist ‘advertisement’ box embedded with the article, and another long side column at the magazine’s website reminds readers of “The Economist Debate Series – January 11-18.” The topic of the week, presented with an image of a warplane radar zooming in on the Iranian map, asks the question: “Is It Time to Strike Iran?”. After reading such unsubstantiated, yet disquieting analyses, how would most readers respond?"

The Terrorism Conundrum

by Philip Giraldi, January 21, 2010

".....Americans should no longer talk of terrorism or fear it because it is largely an empty threat. One is more likely to be eaten by a shark than killed in a terrorist attack. The effectiveness of the US government in sustaining fear through its combating of terror guarantees continuous war, makes for big government, and blinds America’s policymakers to reality. There are many groups out in the world vying for power. Some are unscrupulous in how they would achieve control, including willingness to employ terror. But most could care less about Washington as long as the United States leaves them alone. Leaving them alone might well be the best foreign and security policy that the United States could embrace."

The Muslim Brotherhood: new leadership, old politics

Egypt's leading opposition movement has elected a new leader, but Mohammed Badie means more of the same

A Good Comment
By Fawaz Gerges, Wednesday 20 January 2010

"There is no better way to take the temperature of Arab politics than to examine the state of the Muslim Brotherhood, the most powerful religiously-organised opposition movement in Egypt and the Arab world. With branches in several Arab and Muslim countries, the Brotherhood portrays itself as a more authentic, viable alternative to secular authoritarian rulers and religious extremists of the al-Qaida variety.

The recent election of a new leader, however, has utterly discredited those claims and exposed a serious rift within the 81-year-old Islamic organisation. After weeks of internal turmoil and infighting, the Brotherhood announced that it has chosen Mohammed Badie, an ultra-conservative veterinarian, as its eighth supreme leader since its founding in 1928, along with 16 members of its highest executive policy-setting "guidance bureau".......

Despite its claims to the contrary, the Brotherhood leadership has failed the test of transparency and accountability. Surely, a political movement that is internally closed and authoritarian cannot be trusted to practice democracy, if and when it gains power. One would hope that reformists like Futouh will weather this painful defeat and save the Brotherhood from self-destruction.

A convincing argument can be made that the Brotherhood and the Mubarak regime are two sides of the same coin. The tragedy of Arab politics is that the secular ruling elite and the powerful Islamic opposition are illiberal and undemocratic. There is no viable third force on the Arab horizon that offers a light at the end of the dark tunnel."

Haiti's suffering is a result of calculated impoverishment

Last week's earthquake was a natural disaster, but the carnage is a result of a punitive relationship with the outside world

Seumas Milne, Wednesday 20 January 2010

"There is no relief for the people of Haiti, it seems, even in their hour of promised salvation. More than a week after the earthquake that may have killed 200,000 people, most Haitians have seen nothing of the armada of aid they have been promised by the outside world. Instead, while the US military has commandeered Port-au-Prince's ­airport to pour thousands of soldiers into the stricken Caribbean state, wounded and hungry survivors of the catastrophe have carried on dying........

In her book The Shock Doctrine, Naomi Klein shows how natural disasters and wars, from Iraq to the 2004 Asian tsunami, have been used by corporate interests and their state ­sponsors to drive through predatory neoliberal ­policies, from ­radical deregulation to privatisation, that would have been impossible at other times. There's no doubt that some would now like to impose a form of ­disaster ­capitalism on Haiti. The influential US conservative Heritage Foundation initially argued last week that the ­earthquake ­offered ­"opportunities to ­reshape Haiti's long-dysfunctional government and ­economy as well as to improve the ­public image of the United States".

The former president Bill Clinton, who wants to build up Haiti's export-processing zones, appeared to contemplate something similar, though a good deal more sensitively, in an interview with the BBC. But more sweatshop assembly of products neither made nor sold in Haiti won't develop its economy nor provide a regular income for the majority. That requires the cancellation of Haiti's existing billion-dollar debt, a replacement of new loans with grants, and a Haitian-led democratic reconstruction of their own country, based on public investment, redevelopment of agriculture and a crash literacy programme. That really would offer a route out of Haiti's horror."

Americans are disillusioned with how government works

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is as unpopular as was Dick Cheney at the end of the Bush era

By Rupert Cornwell
The Independent

"On the face of it, few political turnarounds have been as astonishing. A mere 14 months ago, a tide of fury at George W Bush and eight failed years of Republican rule swept Barack Obama to power.

Tuesday's stunning loss of a seemingly rock-solid Senate seat in Massachusetts suggests voters' anger is now directed with equal ferocity against Mr Obama and the Democrats. In fact, one crucial element has not changed: Americans' disillusion and exasperation with the way their government works......

Where this new populism will lead is the most fascinating current question in US politics. It is similar to Poujadism in France in the 1950s in its disgust at elites (in this case Wall Street). But it is a very American movement, of little guys fed up with deficits and with a government that spends like a drunken sailor when they have to watch every cent. If it lasts, the consequences could be momentous."

Happy First Anniversary, by Dave Brown

The tree-lined bunkers that could change the face of the Middle East

The border looks peaceful, but Hizbollah and Israel are preparing for war

By Robert Fisk

"....Of course, the gentle countryside is an illusion. Benjamin Netanyahu and his colleagues in the Israeli government have been announcing that the only "army" of Lebanon is the Hizbollah, the Iranian-armed and Syrian-assisted guerrilla force whose bunkers and missiles north of the Litani river might just tip the balance in the next Hizbollah-Israeli war. And Sayed Hassan Nasrallah, the chairman of the Hizbollah, has been making some even more interesting threats: that his forces will "change the face of the Middle East region" if there is another war with Israel. No-one is in much doubt about what this means. The newly resurfaced Lebanese roads near the border – courtesy of Hizbollah money – suggest that someone might want to move men at high speed towards the frontier. Perhaps even to cross the border.

That's what the Israelis suspect, too – and it makes sense of Nasrallah's warning last week....

But there's a good deal of "change". Syria is being courted by the Obama administration. Its old allies in Lebanon – Druze leader Walid Jumblatt among them – are uttering honeyed words to Damascus. Indeed, Jumblatt has been meeting both Nasrallah and his old enemy Michel Aoun, and concluding that he is three-quarters of the way down the road to Damascus. And President Assad of Syria has been visiting Tehran again, to assure the Islamic Republic of his ever-loyal support.

You can see the way everyone is thinking. And here's the big question, the camel in the room. If Israel ignores Obama and attacks Iran's nuclear sites – a real aggression if ever there could be – the Hizbollah could fire rockets into Israel, perhaps even revealing its new anti-aircraft missile capacity. Hamas might join in from Gaza. Hamas is a tin-pot outfit; the Hizbollah is not. An Israeli attack on Iran will unleash Iranian military power against America. But part of that power is Hizbollah in Lebanon. This is serious business......"

Peres to Abbas: Resume Talks or Face New Intifada


"21/01/2010 Israeli President Shimon Peres recently warned Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas that continuing the deadlock in negotiations with Israel could lead to a third intifada and that in delaying, Abbas was "playing with fire."

On Wednesday, U.S. special envoy George Mitchell came to the region in another attempt to jump-start talks between Israel and the Palestinians.

At a meeting at the President's Residence on Sunday, Peres told Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Store about his discussions with Abbas.

Store told Peres that Israel should take more steps to support Abbas. "Abu Mazen [Abbas] is vulnerable and feels hurt, and his position needs to be bolstered by American support," Store said, adding: "You have the best psychologists ... How do we read the personality and political mind of Abu Mazen? What will make him move?"

Peres told him about his meetings with Abbas and Saeb Erekat. According to Palestinian sources, Erekat comes to the President's Residence every few weeks for meetings with Peres.

"I am a friend of Abu Mazen. He says the Americans put him in a high tree and took the ladder away. Some of the mistakes were made by him. His expectations of Obama were created by him. He thought that Obama would take the Palestinian side. ... I can understand his feelings of disappointment," Peres said.

Peres said he told Abbas at one point that "postponing peace negotiations is playing with fire. He says that he has time. Something will happen to start an intifada and the two sides will have lost an opportunity." Peres said he told Abbas, "Start the negotiations. What are you going to lose? It's impossible to have a happy end at the beginning."

Peres told Store that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had revolutionized his positions in accepting the two-state solution. "It is a historic step," he said.

Regarding to the Palestinian demand for a construction freeze in occupied East Jerusalem, Peres said, "About the Old City there is no problem, because Israel prohibits building in the Old City. As far as the Temple Mount is concerned, there is no building there," suggesting that Abbas present this as an achievement. Peres told Store that Netanyahu could not freeze construction in occupied Jerusalem because "Jerusalem is under the jurisdiction of the Israeli parliament."....."

Iran sets condition for attending Afghan confab

Press TV

"Iran said Thursday it would take part in a conference on Afghanistan in London providing its viewpoints are fully taken into consideration.

"If Iran's considerations on Afghanistan are completely taken into account in the final statement of the London conference, we will consider taking part in the gathering," Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said.

Mottaki said Tehran is currently studying the statement that will be presented to the conference.

The conference will be co-hosted by British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Afghan President Hamid Karzai and United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, and co-chaired by the UK and Afghan Foreign Ministers and the UN......"

Déjà Vu All Over Again: Following in the Footsteps of Fatah. Now Hamas is Ready to Trash its Charter, Recognize Israel, and Accept 1967 Borders.

From Al-Quds Al-Arabi
قيادي في حماس: الحركة مستعدة لإلغاء ميثاقها الذي يدعو إلى إبادة إسرائيل

"تل أبيب- كشف رئيس المجلس التشريعي الفلسطيني وأبرز قياديي حماس في الضفة الغربية عزيز الدويك أن حماس قبلت بحق إسرائيل في الوجود وقد تكون مستعدة لالغاء ميثاقها الذي يدعو إلى القضاء على دولة إسرائيل.
وذكرت صحيفة جيروزاليم بوست التي أوردت التصريح الخميس أن هذه التصريحات قد تأتي في إطار محاولات حماس كسب اعتراف المجتمع الدولي بها.

وزعمت الصحيفة أن الدويك، الذي أفرج عنه قبل أشهر بعد قضاء ثلاثة أعوام في سجن إسرائيلي، أدلى بهذه التصريحات خلال اجتماعه في الخليل الاربعاء مع المليونير البريطاني ديفيد مارتين أبراهامز، الذي يتمتع بعلاقات طيبة مع عدد من كبار المسؤولين الاسرائيليين والبريطانيين.

ومن المقرر أن يطلع أبراهامز وزير الخارجية البريطاني ديفيد ميليباند مطلع الأسبوع المقبل على نتائج اجتماعه بالدويك، وباقي مسؤولي حماس في الضفة الغربية.

وأكد أبراهامز الذي يعد من كبار المانحين لحزب العمال البريطاني للصحيفة أنه سيطالب ميليباند بالأخذ في الاعتبار مضمون هذه التغيرات الإيجابية من جانب حماس.

وشدد الدويك خلال الاجتماع على أن قادة حماس، وبينهم رئيس المكتب السياسي للحركة خالد مشعل ورئيس وزراء الحكومة المقالة إسماعيل هنية أعربا عن دعمهما لفكرة إقامة دولة فلسطينية على حدود عام 1967.

ونقل عن الدويك القول انه تم وضع ميثاق حماس قبل أكثر من 20 عاما، وقد تكون الحركة مستعدة حتى لإلغائه، موضحا لم يعد أحد يريد أن يلقي الآخر في البحر.

كما أعرب عن رغبة حماس في الدخول في حوار مع المجتمع الدولي، وخاصة الاتحاد الأوروبي، واعترف أن حماس تتلقى دعما ماليا من إيران، إلا أنه أكد أن هذا هو النتيجة المباشرة للمقاطعة والعقوبات المفروضة عليها.
I have never liked this Dwaik character. His release from an Israeli prison a couple of months ago and the declarations he has been making since his release, are suspicious to say the least. I suspect that his release was part of a deal; expect to hear more from the "moderate" Papa Dwaik.

The case of Jared Malsin - expelled by Israel


"It probably has not made the headlines in most press around the world, but Israel has recently decided to expel an American journalist working for the respected Ma'an News Agency, based out of the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
For the first time in a week, journalist Jared Malsin (left) was allowed to use his mobile phone on Wednesday morning to inform Ma'an that he was being placed onto an El Al flight to Prague.
The case of Jared Malsin has implications for foreign journalists who work in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT). When the story of his detention first emerged, I spoke to a diplomatic source with knowledge of the case. He told me, Jared's deportation was politically motivated based on his work.
Israeli officials I have called regarding this case have not provided any explanation regarding the deportation. From court documents attributed to the Ma'an News Agency, Israel is deporting Jared on "security" grounds that stem from his political beliefs.
Interrogators gathered online research into [Jared's] writing history, which the transcripts indicate included news stories, "criticizing the State of Israel" among other allegations that he "authored articles inside the territories"
This could have serious ramifications for journalists who work and cover the OPT, and who are sometimes critical of the policies carried out against Palestinians by the self-proclaimed Jewish State.
International journalists have come to Jared's defense.
As if the daily physical risks of working in Israel/Palestine were not hard enough, now the Israeli government is willing to go to greater lengths to silence those who are critical of its Occupation."

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Caught on Tape: UN (Jordanian Troops) Fire Rubber Bullet into Crowd

Courtesy of Angry Arab

Watch CBS News Videos Online

"Controlled chaos turned to confrontation when UN peace keepers were ordered to clear the street filled with Haitian men seeking jobs...."

Coakley Loses and a Good Job Too

A Richly Deserved Humiliation


"Republican Scott Brown takes over a seat held by the Kennedy family for over half a century and the dark cloud already hovering over Obama's White House thickens. By any measure the energetic Brown's emphatic defeat of Martha Coakley, believed only a month ago to be a sure thing as Ted Kennedy's replacement, is a disaster for the Democratic Party and for President Obama.....

Obama richly deserves the rebuke from Massachusetts. Armed with a nation's fervent hopes a year ago, he spurned the unrivalled opportunity offered by economic crisis to do what he pledged: usher in substantive change. He's done exactly the opposite . Wall Street has been given the green light to continue with business as usual. The stimulus package was far too weak. The opportunity for financial reform has passed. Trillions will be wasted in Afghanistan...."

Journalist Kim Ives on How Western Domination Has Undermined Haiti’s Ability to Recover From Natural Devastation

"Shortly after Haiti was hit by a 6.1 aftershock earlier today, Amy Goodman and Kim Ives of Haiti Liberte report from the Port-au-Prince airport. Amy and Kim discuss how centuries of Western domination of Haiti has worsened the impact of the devastating earthquake, from the harsh reaction to Haiti’s independence as a republic of free slaves in 1804 to the U.S.-backed overthrow of President Jean Bertrand Aristide in 2004. Ives says: “This quake was precipitated by a political earthquake—with an epicenter in Washington, D.C.”...."

With Foreign Aid Still at a Trickle, Devastated Port-Au-Prince General Hospital Struggles to Meet Overwhelming Need

"One week after Haiti suffered the worst earthquake in over 200 years, a strong aftershock hit this morning. Initial reports said the latest quake measured 6.1 on the Richter scale—one of the strongest aftershocks since the 7.0-magnitude quake crippled this country eight days ago. While tens of thousands of the wounded await medical help the survivors are still burying the dead. The death toll is now estimated at a staggering 200,000. Some three million Haitians–a third of the country’s population–have been directly affected by the earthquake, with one and half million now homeless. Amy Goodman files a report from the general hospital in Port-au-Prince....."

World Aid Agencies Appeal to Israel to Unlock Gaza

by Nidal al-Mughrabi

"......One year after Israel's offensive on Hamas-ruled Gaza, U.N. agencies and the Association for International Development Agencies (AIDA), representing over 80 NGOs, on Wednesday highlighted the health impact of the continuing blockade there.

They again called on Israel to relax its tight control of the Gaza Strip's borders to allow in a sufficient supply of essential items and access to care not available in the enclave.

Max Gaylard, resident Humanitarian Coordinator for the Palestinian territories, said the blockade undermines the local health care system and puts lives at risk.

"It is causing on-going deterioration in the social, economic and environmental determinants of health," he said. "It is hampering the provision of medical supplies and the training of health staff and it is preventing patients with serious medical conditions getting timely specialized treatment..."...."

Al-Jazeera Video: Interview: Sirajuddin Haqqani, Taliban commander

"Al Jazeera has obtained an exclusive interview with Sirajuddin Haqqani, a powerful Taliban commander fighting US and Nato forces in Afghanistan.

The US has put a $5 million bounty on his head.

David Chater has the latest from Kabul."

Al-Jazeera Video: The Cost of War

Part 1:

Part 2:

"The Cost of War examines the longer term legacy of Israel's war on Gaza.
By following characters associated with buildings that were targeted in the war, the film explores the humanitarian and economic situation in Gaza and the impact of the war on human development.
How has the destruction of universities and schools impacted education? And what about hospitals, clinics, electricity grids, sewage works? "

Real News Video (with Transcript): Israel's assassination policy

TRNN interviews relatives of recently assassinated men in Nablus, Occupied Palestinian Territories.

More at The Real News

"In recent weeks Israel has escalated its practice of assassinations in the West Bank and Gaza. At the end of December, Israeli special forces broke into the Nablus homes of Anan Subih, Raed Surkaji, and Ghassan Abu Sharekh and killed them. Official Israeli sources linked the three to the killing of Israeli settler Meir Avshalom Hai who was killed while driving to the illegal outpost in which he lives. The killings are the latest in Israel's long-time practice of assassinations, illegal under international law. Many contradictory reports have surfaced over the December 26th assassinations. The Real News' Lia Tarachansky spoke to the families of two of the killed."

American Journalist, Jared Malsin, Deported by Israel

"The following is the latest press release from Ma'an News Agency concerning the status of chief English editor, Jared Malsin. Mr. Malsin has now been deported.

For the first time in a week, journalist Jared Malsin was allowed to use his mobile phone on Wednesday morning to inform Ma'an that he was being placed onto an El Al flight to Prague.

He sounded shaken and confused. He said he did not know why he was being flown to Prague, saying only that flying there "would create problems." He said he was in an armored vehicle that was transporting him to the airport gate....."

What Massachusetts Got Right

By Robert Scheer

"president got creamed in Massachusetts. No amount of blaming this disastrous outcome on the weaknesses of the local Democratic candidate or her Republican opponent’s strengths can gainsay that fact.....

Of course, the public is right. In the midst of the worst economic crisis in 70 years, why waste enormous political capital battling to pass a health care plan that is modeled on a proven failure in Massachusetts, as voters there clearly registered? Meanwhile, the president has dropped the ball in the effort to make bankers act responsibly by forcing them to forego outrageous bonuses and help homeowners stay in their homes......

To salvage his presidency, Obama must reverse course and make solving the “toxic political problem” of Wall Street greed that’s bankrupting the country his highest priority. "

Israel Crushes Local Dissent, Attacks Global Criticism

By Mel Frykberg

"RAMALLAH, Jan 20, 2010 (IPS) - Israel is lashing out at international criticism and attempting to crush local dissent in what appears to be growing sensitivity to reproach of its policies.

Several recent incidents have dominated media headlines, including the arrest of a Jewish-American journalist on the grounds of security, threats by an Israeli minister against international diplomats and the arrest of Israeli and Palestinian peace activists.

The raid on a foreign activist’s home in Ramallah, supposedly under full Palestinian control, by a large Israel Defence Forces (IDF) contingent allegedly for a visa infringement, and her subsequent arrest at gunpoint and deportation has also raised eyebrows.

"We will not allow a situation where every country will kick us. If there will be an attack on Israel, we will leave all options open, including the expulsion of ambassadors," Israel’s deputy foreign minister Danny Ayalon said on Saturday.....

In a further crackdown on an increasingly critical media, the arrest and detention of Jared Malsin, a Jewish-American journalist and English editor at the Palestinian news agency Maan, at Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion airport last week has sparked outrage.

Malsin, who has been based in the West Bank for two years, was accused of being a security threat for writing reports hostile to Israel and reporting from within the Palestinian territories.

On Friday, the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) called for Malsin’s deportation order to be revoked while The Committee to Protect Journalists called for his immediate release. "We condemn this intolerable violation of press freedom," said Aidan White, IFJ general secretary. "The ban of entry in this case appears to be a reprisal measure for the journalist's independent reporting and that is unacceptable."

Meanwhile, in another development Hagai Elad, the Israeli head of the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, was amongst a group of 13 activists arrested last week for a peaceful assembly in East Jerusalem against Palestinian home demolitions and expulsions. "

The Two Faces of Interventionism

(US Troops 'Establishing a Position' at Haiti Presidential Palace)

Dr. Jekyll, Mr. Hyde, and public relations in the service of empire

by Justin Raimondo, January 20, 2010

"As the US military arrives in Haiti, with only the French and Hugo Chavez raising objections, our foreign policy of global intervention gets a new lease on life – especially on the home front, where it’s needed most. Even the hardest heart cannot be closed to the sight of Marines lifting the dead and the near-dead out of the rubble, handing out provisions to starving children and patrolling the lawless streets of Port au Prince amid scenes of desolation out of some post-apocalyptic Hollywood epic. We’re saving lives, not taking them. How can anyone be against that?.......

This conception of the American military as an institution capable of performing any task, no matter how far removed from its legitimate functions, is a delusion shared by liberals and conservatives alike. It is a specifically American conceit, born of post-cold war hubris and an older tradition that can be traced all the way back to Presidents Teddy Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson. "Send in the Marines!" is an almost magical invocation, a panacea capable of solving most if not all the world’s problems. Like all magical incantations, however, it is not based on reality – as we will learn in due course if our Haitian mission of mercy turns into a long-term or even medium-term project......"