Saturday, June 19, 2010

At what point does it become too close for comfort?

Photo comparison

By Norman G. Finkelstein


Definitely worth seeing the comparison; it will send a chill down your spine. Many more comparisons

Arab-Israeli Parliamentarian Fights Death Threats

By Mel Frykberg

"RAMALLAH, Jun 18, 2010 (IPS) - "I stopped counting after I had received 50 death threats. I told my secretary not to tell me about them any more," Arab-Israeli Knesset (parliament) member, Haneen Zoabi told IPS.

"As a result of the death threats I’ve been given personal body guards both within the Knesset and outside," adds Zoabi.

Zoabi, a member of the Arab-Israeli political party Balad, was on board the ‘Mavi Marmara’, part of the Free Gaza (FG) flotilla, when it was attacked by Israeli commandos in international waters as it tried to deliver humanitarian aid to Gaza several weeks ago.....

As Israel’s increasingly right-wing Knesset tries to pass more draconian legislation, much of it with racist overtones, against dissenters and what it labels "traitors", Israeli-Arabs are being placed in an untenable situation.

"They are forcing the Palestinian minority to choose between loyalty to Zionist values or being labelled "terrorists and traitors".

‘’This either or situation is not only undemocratic but will also backfire on Israel. Israeli-Arabs can’t be expected to follow the Zionist narrative or disassociate from their Palestinian roots," says Zoabi. "

Al-Jazeera Video: No barrier to enjoyment

"Israel's separation wall, twice the height of the former Berlin Wall and more than 750km-long, is a much hated barrier in the Palestinian West Bank.

Now, a restaurant owner in the occupied Palestinian West Bank has come up with unique way to please World Cup fans: he has been showing every match of the tournament on a section of the wall, transforming it into a giant screen.

Al Jazeera's Bernard Smith reports from Bethlehem. "

Al-Jazeera Video: The Listening Post - The Gaza flotilla video wars

"June 19, 2010 — In this week's episode of The Listening Post, we take a look at the on air video wars following the Gaza flotilla attack and we dip into our archive to give you an excerpt from one of our favourite interviews: Wael Abbas on the Egyptian blogosphere...."

Al-Jazeera Video: Turkey's regional popularity soars

"Turkey's popularity in the Middle East has soared following its denunciation of Israel's deadly raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla last month.

Turkish flags and posters of Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish prime minister, have been prominent in demonstrations around the world protesting the Israeli attack.

In the Gaza Strip, a growing number of newborn babies have been named after Erdogan.

Meanwhile Turkey says it will not send its ambassador back to Israel unless it receives a formal apology for the attack, that left nine people, mostly Turks, dead.

Al Jazeera's Rula Amin reports on Turkey's rising popularity in the region. "

Real News Video with Transcript: US troops by day, Taliban by night

Junaid: People of Kandahar caught between US army and Taliban; will not support US offensive

More at The Real News

The unholy story of Israel's City of God

'Ajami' reveals the brutality of life in Tel Aviv's ethnically mixed Jaffa neighbourhood through the eyes of those who live there. As the film is released in Britain

Donald Macintyre meets its stars

(Left: Jaffa before 1948)

".... For this is the Ajami district of Jaffa, the eponymous setting for the relentlessly gripping Jewish-Arab feature film of crime, poverty and violent feuding in an ethnically-mixed community. It took less than a month to shoot on a shoestring budget with local amateur actors
, but has won a string of awards and was nominated for an Oscar. It went on release in Britain for the first time yesterday.....

The film grew out of Jaffa's streets as well as being filmed on them. Scandar Copti, the co-director with his Jewish colleague Yaron Shani, is from here. He is a Christian, Palestinian-Israeli son of a local school principal who trained as a civil engineer before becoming a film-maker.
The story captures with vivid authenticity what the producers describe as the "the tragic fragility of human existence in the enclosed community of Ajami, where enemies must live as neighbours"......

Every Palestinian in Jaffa believes that eviction orders have been served on around 500 houses, including Mrs Saba's, to make way for such developments. In the 1948 war, Jaffa was bombarded relentlessly for three days by Jewish paramilitary forces. The fighting and the flight of refugees from Jaffa reduced the Palestinian population from more than 70,000 to around 4,000 (a number which has now more than quadrupled). Most of those that remained had to rent houses that had been confiscated by Israel after the war.....

Pirates and Pickpockets Unto the Nations....

Gaza convoy activists claim Israeli soldiers using debit cards stolen in raid

Boarding party troops in deadly flotilla raid confiscated cards and spent on them, claim campaigners who were on board

Haroon Siddique, Friday 18 June 2010

"Israeli troops have been accused of stealing from activists arrested in the assault on the Gaza flotilla after confiscated debit cards belonging to activists were subsequently used....

Individual soldiers appear to have used confiscated debit cards to buy items such as iPod accessories, while mobile phones seized from activists have also been used for calls....

"They've obviously taken my card and used it," Musaji told the Guardian.

"When they take things like people's videos and debit cards and use them, and their mobile phones, it becomes a bit of a joke.

"We were held hostage, we were attacked, and now there's been theft. If the police confiscate your goods in the UK, they're not going to use your goods and think they can get away with it.".......

Activists say Israel still has possession of at least £1m of goods and cash, comprising aid and personal possessions, including laptops and cameras.

Some passports, three of them belonging to British citizens, have still not been returned...."

‎'Obama continues Bush's Mideast policy'‎

Interview with Jennifer Loewenstein
Press TV

"The Muslim world's confidence in US President Barack Obama has dropped drastically, according to results of a new poll conducted in seven Muslim countries.

The poll results released by the Pew Global Attitudes project, shows that more than eight out of ten people in Egypt, Turkey, and Pakistan do not trust the United States and its president.

The poll indicates Obama's failure to have a new beginning with the Muslim world, despite his vow to do so in a speech in Egypt last year.

Press TV has conducted an interview with Jennifer Loewenstein, from the Middle East Studies Program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, on the issue....."


It Took Them a While.....
But the Muslims Now Realize....
That He is Not Abu Hussein.....
But He Really IS Abu Shlomo!

Video: California University suspends Muslim student group

Press TV

California University suspends Muslim student group

Friday, June 18, 2010

Gulf oil spill: A hole in the world

by Naomi Klein

Everyone gathered for the town hall meeting had been repeatedly instructed to show civility to the gentlemen from BP and the federal government. These fine folks had made time in their busy schedules to come to a high school gymnasium on a Tuesday night in Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana, one of many coastal communities where brown poison was slithering through the marshes, part of what has come to be described as the largest environmental disaster in US history.

If Katrina pulled back the curtain on the reality of racism in America, the BP disaster pulls back the curtain on something far more hidden: how little control even the most ingenious among us have over the awesome, intricately interconnected natural forces with which we so casually meddle. BP cannot plug the hole in the Earth that it made. Obama cannot order fish species to survive, or brown pelicans not to go extinct (no matter whose ass he kicks). No amount of money – not BP's recently pledged $20bn (£13.5bn), not $100bn – can replace a culture that has lost its roots. And while our politicians and corporate leaders have yet to come to terms with these humbling truths, the people whose air, water and livelihoods have been contaminated are losing their illusions fast.

(12) بارجة حربية أمريكية وإسرائيلية تعبر القناة للخليج

(12) بارجة حربية أمريكية وإسرائيلية تعبر القناة للخليج
معارضون يحذرون النظام المصري من تسهيل مرور القوافل لضرب طهران

"القاهرة ـ لندن ـ 'القدس العربي'

ـ من حسام أبوطالب:

أكدت مصادر ملاحية في مدينة السويس الجمعة إن 12 بارجة حربية أمريكية من بينها بارجة إسرائيلية عملاقة عبرت قناة السويس في ساعة مبكرة من فجر الجمعة، في طريقها للبحر الأحمر وقد شهد ساحل القناة أعدادا كبيرة من الجنود.
وقالت مصادر وشهود عيان 'إن حركة الملاحة بقناة السويس تعطلت لساعات في الفترة الصباحية خلال عبور الأسطول الأمريكي الذي يضم حاملة طائرات عملاقة، وسفن جنود ومشاة، ومدرعات وذخيرة، قادمة من البحر المتوسط في طريقها للبحر الأحمر'.
وكشفت مصادر عن أن العديد من السفن التجارية تعطلت بها السبل خارج القناة لحين الانتهاء من الأسطول الحربي الذي أشار مراقبون الى أنه يعد الأطول منذ عدة أعوام. وأضافت المصادر الى أن حركة الصيد في البحيرات المرة وبحيرة التمساح والملاحة بين ضفتي قناة السويس فوق كوبري السلام بالقنطرة والمعديات الخاصة بالأفراد والسيارات قد توقفت تماما.
وصاحب الأسطول تأمينات أمنية مصرية كبيرة على جانبي قناة السويس، وطوال مروره في القناة حتى وصوله السويس، وقال شهود عيان 'إن بارجة حربية إسرائيلية شوهدت بين السفن الحربية الأمريكية إلا أن مصادر رسمية لم تؤكد المعلومة'.
وفي تصريحات خاصة لـ'القدس العربي' أكد اللواء أمين راضي أمين لجنة الأمن القومي في مجلس الشعب أن 'قرار إعلان الحرب على إيران ليس سهلاً وإن كانت إسرائيل المشهود لها بصلفها وعربدتها قد تقدم على تلك الحرب من أجل الإبقاء على ريادتها في المنطقة باعتبارها قوة الردع النووي الوحيدة'.
وقال راضي 'ينبغي أن تنزع شأفة إسرائيل بحيث لا تترك مطلقة اليد وينبغي أن تجبرها الأسرة الدولية على نزع سلاحها النووي قبل المطالبة بتوجيه ضربة لإيران'.
وفي سياق متصل حذر معارضون من مختلف قوى المعارضة النظام المصري من أن يسمح بتكرار خطئه التاريخي حينما فتح قناة السويس أمام عبور الأساطيل الأمريكية لضرب العراق وفي هذا السياق قال عبد الله السناوي رئيس تحرير 'العربي الناصري' لـ'القدس العربي' إن 'المصريين لن يقفوا مكتوفي الأيدي هذه المرة وهم يرون نظام الحكم يورطهم في فضيحة كبرى تتمثل في التنسيق مع إسرائيل وأمريكا بفتح قناة السويس للاعتداء على ايران الإسلامية'.
وعبر عن دهشته من عبور هذا العدد الضخم من البوارج الأمريكية ومعها غواصة إسرائيلية تحمل رؤوساً نوويه وتساءل، ما سر توجه تلك الاعداد الضخمة من السفن الحربية إلى الخليج، وأعرب عن اعتقاده بصعوبة ان تدخل امريكا التي تواجه مشاكل كبيرة فى أفغانستان والعراق بفتح جبهة مع إيران.
من جانبه حذر المرشد العام لجماعة الإخوان المسلمين من مغبة توجيه ضربة لإيران مشددا على ان قبول العالمين العربي والاسلامي بمثل هذا الامر امر غير مقبول ولا ينبغي ان تصمت الجماهير اذا ما رضخت الحكومات لارادة واشنطن وتل ابيب.
وندد السيد البدوي رئيس حزب الوفد بأي حرب تشن على إيران مشدداً على أن الجماهير في العالم العربي والإسلامي ضد شن تلك الحرب وأعرب عن مخاوفه من أن تنساق الأنظمة مثل كل مرة تحت الجبروت الأمريكي.
وكانت وسائل إعلام دولية قد أشارت إلى اتجاه غواصة نووية إسرائيلية من طراز 'دولفن' تحمل رؤوسا نووية وبوارج إلى منطقة الخليج العربي في ظل التوتر مع إيران.
فيما حذرت ايران الجمعة من أن أي عمل ضد مصالح الشعب الايراني القانونية والمشروعة سيترتب عليه رد فعل قانوني وإجراءات مناسبة من قبل ايران، قال وزير الدفاع الامريكي روبرت غيتس الخميس ان معلومات المخابرات الامريكية التي تشير الى انه من المرجح ان تحوز طهران القدرة على مهاجمة اوروبا 'بعشرات بل وربما مئات الصواريخ' أخذت في الاعتبار في قرار حكومة اوباما تعديل منظومة الدفاعات الصاروخية.
وكانت الولايات المتحدة تذرعت بتزايد خطر الصواريخ الايرانية عندما اعلنت في ايلول (سبتمبر) الماضي عن خطط لدمج الدفاعات الصاروخية في البحر والبر في الدول الاعضاء في حلف شمال الاطلسي في اوروبا وحول تلك الدول فيما اطلق عليه 'منهج التكيف المرحلي'.
وقال غيتس في جلسة في الكونغرس 'من بين عناصر المعلومات التي ساهمت في قرار منهج التكيف المرحلي إدراك أن ايران اذا شنت فعليا هجوما صاروخيا على اوروبا لن يكون ذلك مجرد صاروخ او اثنين او بضعة صواريخ'. واضاف 'بل سيكون على الارجح هجوما بوابل من الصواريخ حيث من المحتمل ان نتعامل مع عشرات بل ومئات الصواريخ'.
وعبر غيتس عن يقينه من ان الصواريخ الاعتراضية التي يجري تطويرها 'ستعطينا القدرة على حماية قواتنا وقواعدنا ومنشآتنا وحلفائنا في أوروبا'. وقال غيتس ان لنشر هذه الانظمة الاعتراضية بحلول 2020 تقريبا أهمية حاسمة لا بسبب خطر صواريخ ايران وكوريا الشمالية فحسب وانما لاعتقاده 'انه بحلول 2020 قد نرى هذا الخطر من دول اخرى خصوصا اذا لم ننجح في منع ايران من صنع اسلحة نووية'.
وقال السكرتير الصحافي للبنتاغون جيوف موريل في مؤتمر صحافي 'اننا نتعامل بوضوح مع بلد لم يخف رغبته في بناء ترسانة صاروخية قوية وموفورة وذات قدرات متزايدة'. واستدرك بقوله ان معلومات المخابرات الامريكية بشأن برنامج الصواريخ الايرانية كانت 'معرفة غير كاملة'.
واضاف موريل قوله 'لقد ثبت خطؤنا من قبل. وكان علينا اجراء تعديلات'.
وقالت ايران في بيان صادر عن الأمانة العامة للمجلس الأعلى للأمن القومي، على قرار مجلس الأمن الدولي فرض عقوبات على ايران 'ان الجمهورية الاسلامية الايرانية تعلن بوضوح أن أي عمل ضد مصالح الشعب الايراني القانونية والمشروعة سيترتب عليه رد فعل قانوني وإجراءات مناسبة من قبل ايران'.
COMMENT: Is Obama planning an October Surprise?

With his approval ratings sinking fast, and with the BP crude disaster haunting him, what could rescue Obama and the Democrats in the mid-term election?

Nothing works in a situation like this as well as war; an attack on Iran would certainly do it!

This Arabic report describes a huge convoy (the largest in years) of 11 US Navy ships, including an aircraft carrier, and a large Israeli destroyer, crossing the Suez Canal to the Red Sea, on their way to the Persian Gulf. This took place at dawn today, and it disrupted normal commercial and fishing activities.

Egyptian troops, as expected, provided protection. After all, why pay the Pharaoh otherwise?

This is How This Was Reported by Ynet, in English:

Report: US battleships cross Suez Canal

"According to Al-Quds al-Arabi report, 11 American warships, one Israeli vessel, crossed Suez Canal into Red Sea...."

Wikileaks founder fears for his life

The man behind whistleblower website Wikileaks says he is not in a position to record an interview amid claims his life is in danger.

ABC News

"Julian Assange, the Australian-born founder of Wikileaks, is said to be under threat with reports that the site has hundreds of thousands of classified cables containing explosive revelations.....

Life in danger

Daniel Ellsberg, who leaked Pentagon papers in the 1970s showing government deceit over the Vietnam War, says he believes Mr Assange has reason to keep his whereabouts secret.

"I think it's worth mentioning [that there is] a very new and ominous development in our country," he said.

"I think he would not be safe, even physically, entirely wherever he is.

"We have, after all, for the first time ever perhaps in any democratic country... a president who has announced that he feels he has the right to use special operations operatives against anyone abroad that he thinks is associated with terrorism."

Mr Ellsberg told a US TV network Mr Assange's life may be in danger.

"I was, in fact, the subject of a White House hit squad in November on May 3, 1972," he said.

"A dozen Cuban assets were brought up from Miami with orders, quoting their prosecutor 'to incapacitate Daniel Ellsberg totally' on the steps of the Capitol.

"It so happens when I was in a rally during the Vietnam war and I asked the prosecutor 'what does that mean - kill me?' He said the words were to incapacitate you totally, but you should understand these guys, meaning the CIA operatives, never use the word 'kill'."....."

Current Al-Jazeera (Arabic) Online Poll

The poll asks:

Do you see the Israeli attack on the Freedom Flotilla increasing the chance of regional war?

With over 1,100 responding, 62% said yes.

Better Never Than Late

Amr Moussa Finally Visits Gaza


".....After the ouster of Abbas’ U.S. and Israeli-supported fighters, both Israel and Egypt sealed their border with Gaza. A crippling land, sea, and air embargo was instituted and remains in place today.

After Gazans had been sufficiently deprived of basic humanitarian necessities, Operation “Cast Lead” was launched by Israel in late December 2008. Many Arab countries quietly hoped that democratically-elected Hamas, an Islamist party rejecting acquiescence to Israel, would be swept aside—irrespective of the civilian toll it would exact.

Gazans withered in the aftermath of this devastating war and continue to do so under the three-year-old siege. Although there have been increasingly vocal calls to lift it, the Arab League has been largely mute, as have its member states.

Although Moussa did not have the decency to visit the beleaguered territory before now he nonetheless had the temerity to declare, “The siege must be lifted. All the world is now standing with the people of Palestine and the people of Gaza.”

The motive behind Moussa’s trip was, of course, worldwide outrage over the Israeli commando raid of the Gaza Freedom Flotilla, resulting in the killing of nine activists aboard the Mavi Marmara with scores more injured.

Indeed, Moussa was shamed into going to Gaza. Still some will see his presence as a sign the Arab League has finally recognized they can no longer stand on the sidelines while the deplorable conditions there worsen, especially when Turkey receives accolades for taking a demonstrable stand.

So, better late than never?

Gazans who have endured the collective punishment meted out by the U.S, Israel and the Arab states since 2006 probably had a much different take on the timing of the Secretary-General’s visit. I suspect they would say: better never, than late."

Tom Engelhardt on "The American Way of War: How Bush’s Wars Became Obama’s"

Democracy Now!
With Amy Goodman

"We discuss the latest in the ongoing US war in Afghanistan, the longest-running war in American history, with Tom Engelhardt, creator and editor of the website TomDispatch and author of The American Way of War: How Bush’s Wars Became Obama’s. Engelhardt says the US war in Afghanistan has troubling parallels with the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan of the 1980s....."

Al-Jazeera Video: Israel's siege of Gaza

"June 17, 2010 — Gaza has been under Israeli blockade since Hamas took control of the Strip in 2007.

The siege has forced Gazans to rely on supplies smuggled through tunnels that go underneath the territory's border with Egypt.

On Thursday, the Israeli government announced its decision to let in some items, but Hamas dismissed it as "just propaganda".

Al Jazeera's Nicole Johnston's reports from Gaza. "

Real News Video: Hezbollah and the modern history of Lebanon

Traboulsi: Hezbollah joins the Lebanese political system - but keeps their arms

More at The Real News

"Fawwaz Traboulsi is Associate Professor teaching history and politics at the Lebanese American University in Beirut and American University in Beirut. is an associate professor of Political Science and History at the Lebanese American University in Beirut. Dr. Traboulsi has been a visiting professor at New York University; University of Michigan, Columbia University and Cairo University and a visiting fellow at St. Antony’s College, Oxford. Dr Traboulsi has translated several works, including Edward Said’s Out of Place and Humanism and Democratic Critique. He writes in both English and Arabic on Lebanese history, Arab politics, and social movements, with his most recent book A History of Modern Lebanon (published by Pluto Books, London, 2007)."

Video: Dr. Fintan Lane describes raid on Challenger I

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:

"June 17, 2010 — Dr. Fintan Lane describes raid on Challenger I. IPSC meeting "Gaza - After the flotilla, What Next?", Dublin, June 12, 2010. Audio: IPSC "

Israeli Concessions on Gaza Fall Short of a New Policy

By Eli Clifton

"WASHINGTON, Jun 18, 2010 (IPS) - Israel's announcement Thursday that it would ease the restrictions on goods entering Gaza has been received by NGOs and the international community as a move in the right direction, but as not going far enough in lifting the Israeli siege on the Gaza Strip.

Details of the plan have not been fully disclosed but Israeli media has reported that restrictions on items such as jam [flavors to be permitted are to be decided by the Israeli cabinet in a meeting next month.], pasta and milk would be lifted......

"Oxfam recognises the Israeli security cabinet's announcement as a welcome step in the right direction. However, it is a far cry from the full lifting of the blockade that is urgently needed," said the aid group's head Jeremy Hobbes.

"Only a full opening of all crossings to people and goods, including exports, can be the breakthrough that will enable Gazan civilians to restore their economy and escape the poverty the blockade has entrenched. The international community must press for the blockade to be fully lifted, rather than only eased," he continued....

Sami Abu Zuhri, spokesperson for Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, said in a statement that the Israeli announcement was "media propaganda" and "the Israeli decision to increase varieties and quantities of goods to Gaza is aimed at decorating the blockade and ensuring its continuation ... in addition to misleading the international public opinion by giving the impression of easing the blockade."....."

Cowadly EU: EU Considering Aid to Israeli Military

By David Cronin

"BRUSSELS - A leading Israeli supplier of warplanes used to kill and maim civilians in Gaza is in the running for two new scientific research grants from the European Union....."

Turkey and the Neocons

By Stephen M. Walt
Foreign Policy

"It couldn't be more predictable. Back when Israel and Turkey were strategic allies with extensive military-to-military ties, prominent neoconservatives were vocal defenders of the Turkish government and groups like the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and AIPAC encouraged Congress not to pass resolutions that would have labeled what happened to the Armenians at the hands of the Turks during World War I a "genocide." (The "Armenian lobby" is no slouch, but it's no match for AIPAC and its allies in the Israel lobby). The fact that the ADL was in effect protecting another country against the charge of genocide is more than a little ironic, but who ever said that political organizations had to be ethically consistent? Once relations between Israel and Turkey began to fray, however -- fueled primarily by Turkish anger over Israel's treatment of the Palestinians -- the ADL and AIPAC withdrew their protection and Congressional defenders of Israel began switching sides, too..........

Although the United States and Israel do share certain common interests, it is becoming increasingly clear that their interests are not identical. This situation puts die-hard neoconservatives in a tough spot, as it could force them to choose between promoting what is good for America or defending what they think (usually wrongly) will be good for Israel. And insofar as prominent neocons continue to beat the drums for war, it behooves us to remember both their abysmal track record and their underlying motivations."

The Snitch Syndrome

Did Wired target Bradley Manning?

by Justin Raimondo, June 18, 2010

"The more one looks at the Bradley Manning case, the stranger the whole thing seems....

Yeah, sure, tell that to Dan Ellsberg, who I know doesn’t have low self-esteem: and, indeed, this whole concept of the whistleblower as having little sense of self-worth seems crazily counterintuitive. After all, here you are going up against a powerful force – the government – and its sycophants and supporters, who will do exactly what they are doing now: smearing Bradley as a "traitor" and a "spy" – when in fact he was spying on behalf of the American people, on a government that perpetually keeps them in the dark. It seems to me that one would have to have an oversupply of self-esteem in order to pull it off as Bradley is doing, i.e. virtually alone.

Ah, but he isn’t alone, now is he? Here’s a web site set up by his friends and supporters, and, while I can’t vouch for its legitimacy, I’m putting it out there anyway because this is such an important issue. If indeed Manning leaked those cables then we are in for a treat: we get to look at the inside story of American foreign policy at a critical juncture, the very point when our old republic morphed into an empire. For that, alone, he will go down in history as a hero: now let’s make sure he’s not a martyred hero. "

Roadside bombs: weapons of the weak

IEDs, which accounted for three-quarters of British deaths in Afghanistan last year, may make the war impossible to win

James Denselow, Friday 18 June 2010

"Immortalised in popular culture by the Oscar-winning film The Hurt Locker, improvised explosive devices (IEDs) are the ideal metaphor for the American-led wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Despite all its firepower and money, the US has been unable to defuse these weapons of the weak.

What Viet Cong punji sticks were to napalm in Vietnam, IEDs are to unmanned drones in Afghanistan and Iraq. They remain the biggest killer of western troops. Of British casualties in 2009, 75% were a result of IED explosions.....

The unpopularity of the war (which will surely increase once the 300th British life is lost) makes it extremely difficult for the counterinsurgency enthusiasts to keep their soldiers in harm's way in order to sustain the surge into Taliban-controlled areas. Until this paradox is addressed, western policy will continue its deadly drift in Afghanistan."

US losing faith in Obama, poll shows

Press TV

"Americans are losing faith in the US President and Barack Obama is sinking over his failure to handle the oil spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, results of a new poll shows.

Almost a half of Americans believe Obama is not tough enough to handle the crisis, according to the CNN poll.

The poll, released on Thursday, shows that the public's view of Obama's leadership is following the same pattern that former President George W. Bush experienced after Hurricane Katrina.

Being conducted after the president's Tuesday night prime-time address, the poll indicates that the number of people who currently think Obama is a strong and decisive leader has dropped from 60 percent in January to 53 percent now.

The results show that Americans' belief in Obama being tough enough to handle crisis and also in his ability to manage the government effectively is less than before.

The belief in Obama's ability to manage the government also experienced a nine point drop compared to last year; currently being 49 percent....."

بهدلة أصحاب الـ"في آي بي" (VIP)../

د.عبد الستار قاسم

"لتعريف القراء من خارج فلسطين أشير إلى أن عددا كبيرا من الفلسطينيين في الضفة الغربية بخاصة من العاملين في السلطة الفلسطينية يحملون بطاقة صادرة عن الاحتلال الصهيوني تسمى (VIP) وهي اختصار للتعبير الإنجليزي (very irresponsible person) أي شخص عديم المسؤولية.

هم يقولون إنها تعني (very important person)، أي شخص مهم جدا. هذه ترجمة غير صحيحة من الناحية العملية لأن هناك أناسا كثرا في فلسطين مهمين جدا جدا ولا يحملون هذه البطاقة.

الذي يحمل هذه البطاقة يجب أن يتميز بمواقف أو بأعمال يرضى عنها الاحتلال، أو أنها منسجمة مع سياساته.

مسألة المهم ليست مهمة، وإنما المهم هو ما يقوم به الشخص المعني: هل أعماله ضمن السياسة التي ترضى عنها إسرائيل أم لا؟ هل هو مؤيد للاتفاقيات مع إسرائيل وشروط الرباعية والتنسيق الأمني، وله موقع يساهم من خلاله في تثبيت اتفاق أوسلو وما ترتب عليه من اتفاقيات؟

دأب الاحتلال على إصدار هكذا بطاقات قبل قدوم السلطة الفلسطينية، وكان يحصل عليها بعض الجواسيس الذين يمتهنون تتبع أخبار المناضلين والإبلاغ عنها للاحتلال، والعملاء الذين وظيفتهم فهم سياسة العدو والعمل على تطبيقها بطرق شتى من خلال تضليل وخداع الشعب الفلسطيني.
طبعا نحن المواطنين المساكين نتعرض لإهانات كثيرة جدا من الصهاينة على الحواجز وغير الحواجز، لكننا لا نتوقع منهم غير ذلك، ونحن نعي أن هذا الصراع ينطوي على هكذا ممارسات، وما علينا إلا أن نتحمل حتى اليوم الموعود الذي ينقلب فيه السحر على الساحر، لكن مشكلة أصحاب الـ "في آي بي" أنهم يظنون أنهم بالفعل مهمون، ونحن نراهم كيف يتصرفون أمام الناس العاديين بنوع من الكبر والشعور بالعظمة.

بعض هؤلاء العظماء يتفاخر بأنه يحمل بطاقة "في آي بي"، ويتحدث في المجالس عن عظمته التي أوصلته إلى هذا المستوى الذي ينبذه الشعب الفلسطيني بصورة عامة. وليت هؤلاء يستمعون إلى ما يقوله الناس عنهم، والأوصاف التي يوصفون بها، والألقاب التي تعبر عن تندر الناس وازدرائهم لهم
أفيقوا، وعودوا إلى شعبكم. عملكم هذا لا يصنع إلا الذل والهوان، وأنتم واهمون إن تصورتم أن هذا الجندي الذي يتعمد تذكيركم بحجمكم سيصنع لكم دولة
. "

Lebanon: Seize Opportunity to End Discrimination Against Palestinians

Remove Restrictions on Owning Property and Working

Human Rights Watch
June 18, 2010

"(Beirut) - Members of Lebanon's parliament should vote to end restrictions on Palestinian refugees' rights to own property and work, Human Rights Watch said today. The Progressive Socialist Party (PSP) introduced a bill on June 15, 2010, that would cancel prohibitions on property ownership and social security benefits for Palestinians, and ease restrictions on their right to work.

Following a heated debate, the speaker of the house, Nabih Berri, referred the bill to the parliament's Administration and Justice Committee for further study. The full parliament will vote on it in a month. The National Syrian Socialist Party (NSSP) says it plans to introduce a second bill in the coming days that would go even further in easing restrictions on Palestinian refugees....

"Lebanon has marginalized Palestinian refugees for too long," said Nadim Houry, Beirut director at Human Rights Watch. "Parliament should seize this opportunity to turn the page and end discrimination against Palestinians."

Lebanon's estimated 300,000 Palestinian refugees live in appalling social and economic conditions - most of them in crowded camps that lack essential infrastructure.....

An extensive study by the Norwegian social welfare research organization Fafo found that just 15 percent of adult Palestinians have employment contracts. Forced to work illegally and without legal protection, Palestinians face severe discrimination in wages and hiring. Many employers pay them less than their Lebanese colleagues, or refuse to hire Palestinians..... "

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Turkey freezes defense deals with Israel in wake of Gaza flotilla raid

Turkey has frozen billions of dollars worth of defense deals with Israel in the wake of the Israel Navy's deadly raid on a humanitarian bound flotilla to the Gaza Strip, according to Turkish media.

Some of the 16 scrapped projects include a $5 billion deal in which Ankara was to receive 1,000 Merkava Mark III tanks from Israel, a $50 million plan to upgrade Turkish M-60 tanks, and a $800 million agreement to buy two Israeli patrol aircrafts and an Airborne Warning and Control System aircraft.

Segregated school affair: Fathers arrive in jail, mothers fail to show

[If they are so racist among themselves can you imagine how they feel about Arabs?]

Thirty five men, fathers to Ashkenazi girls attending an illegally segregated school in the West Bank settlement of Immanuel, arrived at the Ma'asiyahu prison Thursday evening to serve a two-week sentence. Parents of European, or Ashkenazi, descent at the all girls' school don't want their daughters to study with schoolgirls of Mideast and North African descent, known as Sephardim.

The Ashkenazi parents insist they aren't racist, but want to keep the classrooms segregated, as they have been for years, arguing that the families of the Sephardi girls aren't religious enough.

With Rumored Manhunt for Wikileaks Founder and Arrest of Alleged Leaker of Video Showing Iraq Killings, Obama Admin Escalates Crackdown on Whistleblow

Democracy Now!
With Amy Goodman

"Pentagon investigators are reportedly still searching for Wikileaks co-founder Julian Assange, who helped release a classified US military video showing a US helicopter gunship indiscriminately firing on Iraqi civilians. The US military recently arrested Army Specialist Bradley Manning, who may have passed on the video to Wikileaks. Manning’s arrest and the hunt for Assange has put the spotlight on the Obama administration’s campaign against whistleblowers and leakers of classified information. We speak to Daniel Ellsberg, who’s leaking of the Pentagon Papers has made him perhaps the nation’s most famous whistleblower; Birgitta Jonsdottir, a member of the Icelandic Parliament who has collaborated with WikiLeaks and drafted a new Icelandic law protecting investigative journalists; and Glenn Greenwald, political and legal blogger for"

Jeremy Scahill on Blackwater Owner Erik Prince’s Rumored Move to UAE and Obama Admin’s Expansion of Special Forces Operations Abroad

Democracy Now!
With Amy Goodman

"The Justice department has told a federal appeals court there was more than enough untainted evidence to justify a trial for the five Blackwater Worldwide guards involved in the 2007 Nissour Square massacre in Baghdad. In court papers seeking to reinstate criminal charges that were dismissed last year, the Justice department said the judge "unjustifiably drew the curtain on a meritorious prosecution." This legal development comes amidst a report that Erik Prince, the owner and founder of the the notorious private security firm, could be planing a move to the United Arab Emirates, a country that has no extradition treaty with the United States. We speak to independent journalist Jeremy Scahill...."

Israel's Palestinian Minority Thrown into a Maelstrom

By Jonathan Cook

"The first reports of Israel’s May 31 commando raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla surfaced among the country’s 1.4 million Palestinian citizens alongside rumors that Sheikh Ra’id Salah, head of the radical northern wing of the Islamic Movement of Israel, had been shot dead on the lead ship, the Mavi Marmara. Salah is alive, but at the time his demise seemed confirmed when it emerged that large numbers of police had been drafted into northern Israel, where most of the Palestinian minority lives, in expectation of widespread violence....

If the blockade on Gaza is justified in the minds of Israeli Jews as collective punishment of the enclave’s Palestinian population for supporting Hamas, a similar skewed logic is being applied to Israel’s Palestinian citizens. According to this thinking, those who sent Zu‘bi to the Knesset and those who revere Salah should be held accountable -- and punished -- for their representatives’ actions. The minority seems only too aware that the calls to expel Zu‘bi from the Knesset or revoke her citizenship will not end there. A poll by Haifa University in May showed that 62 percent of Palestinian citizens feared they are under threat of expulsion from Israel. And Israel’s mood is likely to grow darker still."

Give That Man a Medal!

By Mike Luckovich.

Video: Smuggled footage of MV Rachel Corrie prior to its hijacking by Israeli forces

"Footage smuggled out of Israel by Irish MV Rachel Corrie passenger and filmmaker Fiona Thompson. The four minutes of footage, shows the radio exchanges between the Rachel Corrie's first mate Irishman Derek Graham and the Israeli navy prior to the hijacking of the Rachel Corrie and ends with the approach of several warships

Ms Thompson managed to smuggle several video tapes out of Israel after her kidnap by Israeli commandos in international waters while she was taking part in the Freedom Flotilla to Gaza last weekend...."

Turkey Accepts the Challenge; Middle East is Changing

By Ramzy Baroud
Palestine Chronicle

"'Even despots, gangsters and pirates have specific sensitiveness, (and) follow some specific morals.'

The claim was made by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in a recent speech, following the deadly commando raid on the humanitarian aid flotilla to Gaza on May 31. According to Erdogan, Israel doesn’t adhere to the code of conduct embraced even by the vilest of criminals.

The statement alone indicates the momentous political shift that’s currently underway in the Middle East. While the shift isn’t entirely new, one dares to claim it might now be a lasting one. To borrow from Erdogan’s own assessment of the political fallout that followed Israel’s raid, the damage is “irreparable.”......."

Is Benjamin Netanyahu Rational?

by Philip Giraldi, June 17, 2010

"Is Benjamin Netanyahu rational? The question has to be asked because Netanyahu, the leader of a country that is paranoid about its own security, controls a secret nuclear arsenal and has the capability to bomb just about anybody....

Unfortunately the arrogance of Bibi Netanyahu and the behavior of the Israeli government would seem to suggest strongly a belief in a manifest destiny granted by God. Israel is prepared to charge recklessly ahead to do whatever it takes to intimidate and instill fear among all its neighbors. Tel Aviv wants to be a combination of a mad dog and the school bully, suggesting that its contempt for Washington made evident in the Lavon Affair and the attempted sinking of the USS Liberty in 1967 was the rule rather than the exception and could easily happen again. And Israel appears to have little concern about doing whatever is necessary to drag the United States down with it if that is what is required. It is we Americans who should be fearful. Each American should be very concerned about what Bibi is actually thinking, particularly as our Congress and media have already been bought and occupied and we have a president who is so unsure of the support of his own party that he is afraid to face down an Israeli prime minister."

Wikileak Case Echoes Pentagon Papers

By Coleen Rowley and Robert Parry

"Almost four decades after Defense Department insider Daniel Ellsberg leaked the Pentagon Papers – thus exposing the lies that led the United States into the Vietnam War – another courageous “national security leaker” has stepped forward and now is facing retaliation similar to what the U.S. government tried to inflict on Ellsberg.....

Though there are historic parallels between the actions of Manning today and those of Ellsberg in 1971, a major difference is the attitude of the mainstream U.S. news media, which then fought to publish Ellsberg’s secret history but now is behaving more like what former CIA analyst Ray McGovern calls the “fawning corporate media” or FCM....."

Canada: Israel's new defender

Muted support for Palestine, funding cuts for Arab groups, now a ban on the phrase 'Israeli apartheid': what's going on in Canada?

Jesse Rosenfeld
(Jesse Rosenfeld is the editor of, an English on-the-ground news and analysis site. Currently based in Jaffa he is a Canadian journalist working in Israel/Palestine), Thursday 17 June 2010

"At a time when many countries are becoming more critical of Israel's policies, Canada seems to be moving in the opposite direction. A general reluctance to engage in open debate about the Palestinian issue is exacerbated by pro-Israel groups' efforts to shut down discussion and the federal government's unprecedented penchant for defending Israeli actions.

Since the beginning of 2010, the federal government has systematically cut funding to Arab-Canadian organisations and to UN relief works in Gaza. In March, the Ontario provincial legislature issued a unanimous condemnation of Israeli Apartheid Week, while the federal government considered introducing a similar motion....."

Steve Bell on BP

Israel to ease Gaza blockade: Barbeque-Flavored Potato Chips (but not other flavors) are Now Allowed in!

• Human rights groups say new measures do not go far enough

The Guardian

"....Gisha, an Israeli human rights organisation, suggested the move was merely cosmetic.

"The time has come for Israel to ask serious questions about how three years of closure have promoted the goals it declared for itself and what has been the effect on 1.5 million people whose right to travel and to engage in productive work has been denied. We don't need cosmetic changes. We need a policy that recognises the rights of Palestinian residents of Gaza not just to consume but also to produce and to travel."

Chris Gunness, UN spokesman, said the blockade should be lifted entirely. "We need to judge the Israeli authorities by deeds not words because there have been many words in the past," he said.

"What we've been getting into Gaza is a drop in the bucket and, given the scale of the humanitarian task, we need to see the blockade ultimately lifted not eased."....."

Will Afghan mineral riches appease war opponents?

Interview with Dilip Hiro
By Press TV

"The news released earlier on Afghanistan's vast riches of minerals is the last card the US plays to appease the war-weary mind of the American nation fed up with the cost of war, analyst Dilip Hiro says.

American geologists say that Afghanistan is filled with minerals, including iron, lithium, and gold. The value of the minerals is reportedly estimated at a trillion dollars.

Press TV invited author and analyst Dilip Hiro in London to discuss whether the new finding would affect the US-led war efforts in Afghanistan. The following is a rush transcript of the interview.

Press TV:Is the recent discovery of massive minerals in Afghanistan true and if it is, what could it mean for Afghanistan?

Dilipi Hiro:If this is a question of American program, you see there are two points to it. One is that...."

The meaning of strangulation

By Mark LeVine

"....Thomas was forced into retirement for declaring that Jews "should get the hell out of Palestine," but New York Senator Chuck Schumer, one of the most powerful politicians in the US, has avoided any criticism or even major press coverage for remarks he made only days later that supported the continued "economic strangulation" of Gaza; in part, because, he essentially argues, the inhabitants of the benighted Strip are not Jewish.

Schumer made his remarks during a brief talk to the Orthodox Union, a well-known politically conservative Jewish educational, outreach and social service organisation.

The talk covered several foreign policy issues, including Iran and Israel/Palestine. When the topic turned to the Israeli attack on the Gaza aid flotilla Schumer began by explaining that the "Palestinian people still don't believe in the Jewish state, in a two-state solution". But that is not all, he continued: "They don't believe in the Torah, in David.".......

......powerful senator who serves on some of that body's most powerful committees, such as banking and judiciary.

Moreover, through his representation of New York, the state with the largest Jewish population in the US, he is a leading pro-Israel voice in congress who has the ability directly to impact the nature of US policy towards Israel and the Middle East more broadly.

In other words, what Senator Schumer says actually can cost people - Palestinians, Israelis, Americans - their livelihoods and even their lives......

To consider the implications of these comments, it is worth considering what would happen if any Arab or Muslim, never mind a US senator, explained that because Israelis do not support a two-state solution, and do not believe in the Quran - that is, have not converted to Islam - and have voted in one of the most right-wing governments in their country's history, the US, or the world more broadly, is justified in trying to "strangle Israel economically" until it moderates its policies.....

Official bigotry unchallenged

These are among the most ethnically and religiously bigoted and even inciteful public remarks by a senior American politician I have heard in a long time.

And the fact Schumer could make them without a hint of anger, as if he was merely stating the obvious, and feel no need to recant them after video of the talk was circulated on the internet (several calls to Schumer's press secretary asking for clarification were not answered), is as telling as it is worrisome....."

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Israel Investigating Itself, by Emad Hajjaj

Afghanistan: The Longest Lost War

by Prof. James Petras
Global Research

"....A Failed Mission: The Incapacity to Build a Reliable, Effective Afghan Mercenary Army

A US government audit published in late June of this year demolished the Obama regime’s claims that it is succeeding in building an effective Afghan mercenary army and police capable of buttressing the current client regime in Kabul. The Report, based on a detailed analysis and field observations argues that the Obama Pentagon relies on “standards [which are] woefully inadequate, inflating the abilities of Afghan units that Mr. Obama called “core to our mission” (Financial Times, June 7, 2010, p1). In other words, Obama continues to play the con game, which he inaugurated during his electoral campaign with his phony promises of ‘change’ and “ending the wars”, and continued with his bail out of Wall Street in the name of ‘saving the economy’. He followed up by escalating the war in Afghanistan by sending 30,000 more troops and increasing military and police expenditures to $325.5 billion, approximately 132% higher than the last year of the Bush Administration (Congressional Research Service, FY 2010 Supplemental for Wars … June 2010).....

Despite the most advanced military technology, the drones, the Special Forces, the increase in the number of trainees, advisers, NGOers and the building of more military bases, the Resistance is winning. The White House by adding to the millions of displaced and murdered and maimed Afghans is increasing the hostility of the vast majority of the Afghans. Civilian killings are turning more and more of their military recruits into deserters and “unreliable” soldiers. Some of whom are ‘turned’ into committed combatants for the ‘other side’. As in Indo-China, Algeria and elsewhere, a popular, highly motivated guerrilla resistance army, deeply embedded in the national-religious culture of an oppressed population is proving more resistant, enduring and victorious over an alien high tech imperial army. Obama’s ‘rule or ruin’ Afghan War, sooner rather than later, will ruin America and end his shameful presidency."

The NYT and the Flotilla Inquiry

Another Compromised Reporter


"The New York Times, whose regional bureau chief has a son in the Israeli military, reports that Israel has just appointed a panel charged with investigating its attack on an aid flotilla that killed nine aid volunteers, including a 19-year-old American.

Isabel Kershner, who is an Israeli citizen and has refused to answer questions about her possible family ties to the Israeli military, writes the report..... "

Al-Jazeera Video: Riz Khan - Israel silencing internal critics

"June 16, 2010 — What really happened aboard the Mavi Marmara aid ship when Israeli commandos raided it and killed nine activists? "

Al-Jazeera Video: UN to distribute flotilla aid to Gaza

"The United Nations says it will distribute 10,000 tonnes of aid bound for Gaza that was seized by Israel in a bloody raid on the Freedom Flotilla that tried to break its siege on the Palestinian territory last month.

Israel has agreed to release all of the seized goods - including construction and building materials -- and the UN is to supervise its delivery and distribution in Gaza, although a delivery date has not been set...."

Citizen Voices from 26 Countries in Europe Express Outrage Over Israel's Actions

Free Gaza Movement

".....We, as individuals who are not members of activist peace organizations but simply cherish the ideals of peace and justice, are deeply disturbed by what the Israeli government and its military have done and by the disinformation it and its supporters have spread in trying to legitimize acts of crime.

It is for these reasons that we are giving our names. By doing so we join, with anguish and outrage, the many fellow citizens around the world who feel as we do. We salute those Israelis who courageously object to the dangerous policies of their government and who condemn the recent attacks against the flotilla of peace for Gaza. We appeal to the Israeli Government to accept the ideals of peace and dialogue and to respect the dignity of others. There is no other way to find a solution in the conflict with Palestine and to end the suffering and the loss of life in Palestine and in Israel.

Dr Marin Marinow (Bulgaria)
Liljana Milanovic (Serbia)
Frank Farrelly (Ireland)
Carl Erich Wiberg (Sweden)
Alexei Sayle (United Kingdom)
Margherita Amodeo (Malta)
Elena Gallego Fernández (Spain)
Tatjana Teterwa (Belarus)
Alex Stuyven (Netherlands)
Zarema Katuschewa (Ukraine)
Birgitte Arnvig (Denmark)
Ragnval Dahl (Norway)
Marie-France Sangouard (France)
Pierre A. Krenger (Switzerland)
Dr. Anita Schächter (Germany)
Andrej Bekenjow (Russia)
Laura Cardone (Italy)
Jan Pelech (Czech)
Dr. Norbert Rozsenich (Austria)
Andreas Kourakis (Greece)
Kristrun Heimisdáttir (Iceland)
Eva Rizea (Romenia)
Dr. Tanja Gorakova (Slovakia)
Damir Hajric (Bosnia & Herzegowina)
Prof. Dr. S. de Henauw (Belgium)
Anita Campo (Estonia)

When year after year promises are not fulfilled, when instead demographic cleansing is the order of the day, when symptoms become the pretence for force and causes are ignored, when military action replaces peaceful dialogue, when honesty becomes travesty, there comes a time when the outcry of ordinary citizens no longer remains a whisper but becomes a crescendo. This time has come.

Hans von Sponeck
Former United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq
June 2010"

Video: Lubna Masarwa, Survivor of the Mavi Marmara Massacre Speaks Out.wmv

Part 1:

Part 2:

"June 14, 2010 — Palestinian, Lubna Masarwa was the Free Gaza Movement representative aboard the Turkish ship Mavi Marmara which was carrying a cargo of humanitarian and construction aid as well as letters from Turkish children to the children of illegally besieged Gaza when it was murderously attacked in international waters on May 31st 2010. Lubna witnessed the many crimes of the Israeli military aboard that night: Blood was pouring from the bodies of the dead and the injured. We wanted to help them, but we had no medical equipment to treat them. There was nothing we could do. One Turkish woman was crying and saying goodbye to the body of her dead husband, petting his face and reading the Quran over him. Another man had a bullet wound in his head and was dying. They (the Israeli commandos) were standing around us with the blood of their victims on their boots, joking and making lewd sexual suggestions to each other about the female prisoners. Lubna is currently under house arrest in Kfor Qara, Palestine and is barred from leaving the country for 45 days. "

'Gaza Blockade Must Go'

By Mel Frykberg

"RAMALLAH, Jun 16, 2010 (IPS) - Under intense international pressure Israel declared last week that it would ease its crippling blockade on Gaza by permitting an additional but limited number of daily items, including food, into the coastal enclave.

Following Israel’s deadly assault on the Free Gaza (FG) flotilla several weeks ago in international waters, during which nine activists were shot dead and dozens wounded, as the flotilla tried to deliver desperately needed humanitarian aid to the besieged strip, Israeli authorities came under enormous pressure to lift the blockade....

Cecelia Goin from the Red Cross in Jerusalem says that any easing of the blockade is a step in the right direction but there are bigger issues at stake.

"The only way that Gazans will be able to rebuild their lives and livelihoods is for the siege to be lifted completely," Goin told IPS.

"There is currently on average seven hours of power cuts daily. The power cuts pose a serious risk to the treatment of patients – and to their very lives.

"It takes two to three minutes for a generator to begin operating, and during that time electronic devices do not function. As a result, artificial respirators must be reactivated manually, dialysis treatment is disrupted and surgery is suspended as operating theatres are plunged into darkness," says the ICRC.

"Additionally, it took us five months to get permission to bring in a mammograph for Shifa Hospital, Gaza’s main hospital. It took another five months before the Israelis would allow in a dialysis machine, and it took us eight months to bring in spare parts for ambulances," Goin told IPS.

"There is a shortage of essential medicines such as anti-epileptic drugs, and a shortage of medical equipment such as ventilator tubes. More than 110 of the 700 disposable items that should be available are also out of stock. The health situation is critical."......."

Is Afghanistan really the next El Dorado?

By Stephen M. Walt

"Color me skeptical. The past few weeks have seen a spate of news suggesting that the US/NATO effort in Afghanistan isn't going well at all. For starters, the assault on Marjah last spring failed to achieve any decisive strategic goals. The much-heralded summer offensive in Kandahar has been delayed and downgraded, and U.S. officials have been steadily lowering expectations. We learnt over the weekend that U.S. intelligence is increasingly focused on uncovering corruption, which means we are getting sucked back into "nation-building" instead of focusing our assets on destroying al Qaeda (which is what President Obama said he'd do when he (foolishly) decided to increase the U.S. commitment in Afghanistan. The Taliban managed to bomb Afghan President Hamid Karzai's semi-bogus "peace jirga," and Karzai himself is said to be losing faith in our ability to prevail and hoping to cut a deal with the Taliban.

So today -- surprise, surprise -- comes news that Afghanistan isn't a poor country whose primary strategic asset is its ability to grow opium poppies. Nope, turns out Afghanistan is just brimming with iron ore, lithium, cobalt, copper, and other strategic minerals. This report -- which comes from "a small team of Pentagon officials and American geologists" may well be completely correct, but isn't the timing of the release a mite suspicious? This looks to me like an attempt to provide a convincing strategic rationale for an effort that isn't going well......"