Saturday, April 21, 2012

Al-Jazeera Video: Insie Story - Bahrain's 'days of rage'

Guardian Video: Bahrain protester's family: 'we were not allowed to see the body'

The brother-in-law of Salah Abbas Habib, the anti-government protester found dead on the eve of the Bahrain Grand Prix, says the family were told a body had been found inside a compound but they were not allowed to identify it. An investigation has been launched after Habib's body was found on a roof in Shakhura late on Friday night, Saturday 21 April 2012

Al-Jazeera Video: Satellite images reveal ruined deserted Homs

"Government forces' continued shelling of the Syrian city of Homs has left some neighbourhoods unrecognisable.

Satellite images taken this March reveal a deserted city centre, destroyed areas and heavy deployment of tanks across the city.

This contracts to the images shot in August, which showed a busy city of around a million.

The latest imagery, commissioned by Al Jazeera, provides a snapshot of what appears to be an increasingly dire situation.

UN observers have so far asked to be allowed in Homs to provide an assessment, but the government has so far refused.

Al Jazeera's Steve Chao reports."

This is politics not sport. If drivers can't see that, they are the pits

Supposing it was Assad shelling out £40m for a race. Would Ecclestone be happy to give him a soft sporting cover for his repression?

By Robert Fisk

"When the Foreign Office urges British motor racing fans to stay away from Bahrain, this ain't no sporting event, folks, it's a political one. The Bahraini authorities prove it by welcoming sports reporters but refusing visas to other correspondents who want to tell the world what's going on in this minority-run, Saudi-dominated kingdom.....

The days have gone when sportsmen and sportswomen can dissociate themselves from the moral values in which we claim to believe in the 21st century. If they want to behave like the sporting clods of 50 years ago, they should be forced to drive round the Bahrain circuit in Alfa Romeo 6Cs, Triumph Roadsters and Crosley Hotshots. Cars of the past for men of the past."

Counter-revolution – the next deadly chapter

By Robert Fisk

"It was my old Jordanian-Palestinian chum Rami Khouri who first spotted what is going on in the Middle East right now: it's the counter-revolution. Bahrain is crushing dissent. Syria is crushing dissent. Mubarak's former head of intelligence, the sinister Omar Suleiman, is standing for president in Egypt – the cancellation of his candidacy last week by a dodgy "electoral committee" may well be overturned. Libya is at war with itself. Yemen has got its former dictator's sidekick back. Sixty-one dead in a battle between soldiers and al-Qa'ida last week – in a single day. All in all, a pretty mess.

But let me quote Khouri. "In Washington-speak, a 'crisis' is like love: you can define it any way you want, but you know when it happens to you. So a popular revolt in Bahrain for full civil rights is a crisis that must be crushed by force. But a revolt in Syria is a blessed event that deserves support. Similarly, this peculiar mindset warns against Iranian support to the Houthi rebels in Yemen, while accepting as perfectly logical and legitimate for the US and its allies to send arms and money to their favourite rebel groups around the region – not to mention attacking entire countries..."

And there you have it. As Khouri notes, there's now a new group called the "Security Cooperation Forum" linking the US with the Gulf Cooperation Council. La Clinton turned up to assure the oil states of Washington's "rock solid and unwavering commitment" to the GCC. Now where have we heard that before? Why, isn't that what Obama is always saying to the Israelis? And weren't Bibi Netanyahu of Israel and King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia the two guys who called Obama to ask him to save Mubarak?.....

If this seems a pessimistic horizon, then so be it. I suspect that the Arab Awakening will still be going on after we've all died of old age. But eventually, I think, there will be real freedoms in the Middle East, yes, and dignity for all its peoples, and an astonishment among the next generation that their fathers and grandfathers tolerated dictators for so long. And they will ask what happened to missing fathers and grandfathers....."

Real News Video : Disqualifications narrow Egypt race to the Islamist and the 'Felool'

With the elections six weeks away, two candidates have emerged as favorites after ten others are disqualified.

More at The Real News

Bahrain protester found dead on eve of grand prix

Opposition group al-Wefaq says Salah Abbas Habib died after being beaten by riot police on eve of Bahrain Grand Prix

, and agencies, Saturday 21 April 2012

"An anti-government protester has been found dead following clashes with riot police on the eve of the controversial Bahrain Grand Prix , according to opposition activists.
The opposition group al-Wefaq named the dead man on Saturday as Salah Abbas Habib and said his body was found on the roof of a building after he and other protesters were beaten by riot police who suppressed a demonstration in the village of Shakhoura late on Friday night......

Dozens of armoured vehicles have been deployed on the main road leading to the Bahrain International circuit in Sakhir and in the capital Manama after protesters promised "days of rage" against the Formula One event. Activists say barbed wire has also been installed near some parts of the road.......

"The government are using the Formula One race to serve their PR campaign," said rights activist Nabeel Rajab. "It's not turning out the way they wanted."......"

Friday, April 20, 2012

The Will of Syrians

I admire most about Palestinians is their relentlessness and their ability to be steadfast against all the odds. I am seeing some of that with the People of Syria , 14 month after the most brutal war on civilian population by a regime on its people this is what the people of Homs did today

Activist in Homs Documenting all the historic sites damaged by Assad regime

 هذا ملف جدا عن تراث وأثار حمص الذي يقصف أرجو إيصاله إلى منظمات أممية بالأخص اليونسكو

لحماية تراثنا و إرثنا الثقافي من هجمية النظام الحاكم في سوريا قمنا بتوثيق بعض الانتهاكات التي حدثت بحق آثار مدينة حمص , وكل الانتهاكات المدرجة هنا موثقة إما بصورة أو بفيديو .
كما نعلم أن هناك العديد من المواقع التي تعرضت لضرر ما نتيجة القصف المدفعي بالهاون و الصواريخ من النظام على مدينة حمص , لكن لم ندرجها هنا لأنها لم توثق عن طريق الصورة حتى اللحظة بسبب صعوبة الوضع على الأرض

•جامع كعب الأحبار
الحقبة التاريخية : العهد الأيوبي
الضرر : تدمير المآذنة الآثرية
المكان : باب الدريب
تتميز المئذنة بأنها من الحجر البازلتي المثبت بعضه بالطين والكلس وتنتهي المئذنة بقبة بشكل مخروطي تنتهي بهلال.

•مسجد ذي الكلاع الحميري
الحقبة التاريخية : العهد المملوكي
الضرر : ضرر في باحة المسجد و حرمه نتيجة القصف
المكان : بستان الديوان
مسجد يعود للفترة المملوكية وهو عبارة باحة صغيرة مرصوفة بالحجر البازلتي في قسمها الشرقي يوجد الحرم .

•الأسواق الآثرية
1. سوق النوري (المسقوف) :
الحقبة التاريخية : العهد الأيوبي
الضرر : تضرر في العديد من محلات السوق و احتراقها و تهدمها نتيجة القصف العنيف و المتعمد عليها بالهاون .
المكان : الأسواق الآثرية
يعود بناء السوق النوري المعروف بين العامة بالسوق المسقوف و هو الملاصق للجامع النوري الكبير إلى العهد الأيوبي يعتبر من أهم الأسواق في مدينة حمص كما أنه من جزء أساسي من آثار مدينة حمص .
2.سوق القيسرية ( القيصرية ) :
الحقبة التاريخية : العهد الأيوبي و أوائل العهد المملوكي
الضرر : حرق العديد من المحلات و أجزاء السوق نتيجة القصف
المكان : الأسواق الآثرية
ينقسم هذه السوق إلى ثلاثة أقسام الأول منه يعود على الفترة الأيوبية و الثاني إلى العهد العثماني الأول أي إلى العام 1600م .

•جامع الشيخ كامل
الحقبة التاريخية : العهد المملوكي
الضرر : باحة المسجد
المكان : بستان الديوان
مسجد يعود فترة بناءه إلى ستمائة سنة على الأقل, مساحته 869 متر مربع وهو مسجل لدى دائرة الآثار السورية على أنه من المباني الأثرية و التاريخية
•مسجد عكاشة
الحقبة التاريخية : العهد المملوكي
الضرر : إصابة المآذنة الآثرية
المكان : باب تدمر
مسجد مبني في الفترة المملوكية ذكر في يوميات الشيخ عبد الغني النابلسي 1693م. اسمه على اسم الصحابي الجليل "عكاشة بن المحصن" الذي يقال أن المقام الموجود في المسجد عائدٌ له .
و المسجد مسجل في دائرة آثار حمص على انه من المباني الآثرية و التاريخية.
•مسجد وحشي وثوبان
الحقبة التاريخية : العهد المملوكي
الضرر : إصابة المآذنة الآثرية
المكان : باب الدريب
بناء المسجد يعود للفترة المملوكية وفيه ضريح الصحابيان الجليلان وحشي و ثوبان رضي الله عنهما و هو مصنف من قبل دائرة آثار حمص من ضمن الأبنية الدينية الآثرية .

•مسجد أبي ذر الغفاري

الحقبة التاريخية : العهد العثماني
الضرر : إصابة المآذنة التاريخية و قبة المسجد نتيجة القصف
المكان : باب تدمر
المسجد يعود إلى الفترة العثمانية بناؤه من الحجر و اللبن و هو عبارة عن فسحة سماوية فيه حرم للصلاة و غرفة كانت تستخدم للتدريس .

•منزل آل النجار
الحقبة التاريخية : العهد المملوكي
الضرر : في باحة الدار
المكان : باب تدمر
يعود بناؤه إلى القرن التاسع الهجري , يتكون من قسمين شرقي و غربي فالشرقي بناؤه من حجر بازلتي مع حجارة بيضاء متناوبة مع وجود باحة و يعلو هذا القسم طابق مع إيوان فيه قاعتين , أما الغربي يتألف من طابق فوقه غرفة و تحته قبو .

•جامع عمر النبهان
الحقبة التاريخية : العهد المملوكي
الضرر : ضرر في باحة المسجد و جدرانه البازلتية نتيجة القصف
المكان : باب الدريب
تعود فترة بنائه إلى سبعمائة عام حيث بني في الفترة المملوكية سنة 1327م مساحته 128متر مربع , مبني من الحجر البازلتي الأسود و هو عبارة عن فسحة سماوية بها مصلى و بئر ماء .

    F1 grand prix: Bahrain denies entry to journalists

    Sky News chief correspondent among non-sport reporters refused access in attempt to stifle coverage of protests, Friday 20 April 2012

    "Bahrain has denied entry to a number of journalists from news organisations including Sky, which holds the UK TV rights to broadcast this weekend's controversial Formula One grand prix from the Gulf state, as the regime attempts to stifle coverage of political protests.

    Bahrain's authorities have granted permission for journalists who regularly cover Formula One to enter the country but have denied visas to other reporters from news organisations including Sky News, CNN, Reuters and the Financial Times....... "

    Iran parades its internet fears with military precision


    Tehran's anxieties all too evident during army parade featuring placards proclaiming 'damages of the Facebook internet site'

    The Guardian

    "Casual users of Facebook might dismiss the social network as a distraction and a time-sink, but most would acknowledge that it has a significant if limited role in the history of the Arab spring and other social movements. For the Iranian government, however, it has become another symbol of the west's "soft war" against the Islamic Republic...."

    Guardian Video: Syria's security forces 'attack protesters in presence of UN'

    Amateur footage purports to show President Bashar al-Assad's troops shooting at demonstrators who are surrounding UN vehicles in a suburb of Damascus. The video, uploaded on 18 April, shows what appear to be protesters gathered around UN observers' vehicles when a loud noise is heard and the crowd quickly disperses

    Bahrain: Formula None

    "Stop Racing on Our Blood"



    "Bahrain’s royal family hopes you too will believe the 14-month uprising that began (or more properly stated, resumed) last February in the tiny Gulf nation, is now over.

    Order, peace, tranquility and the legitimacy of monarchal rule are what they desperately want the international community to think have been restored. The unrest that followed last year’s violent eviction of peaceful protestors encamped in Manama’s Pearl Roundabout by Bahrain’s imported security force and Saudi troops is a thing of the past. The majority’s demand for serious democratic reform, proportional representation, equality between Sunni and Shia, and an end to the policies of sectarian gerrymandering are issues best left for another day.

    The reason for the public relations push is that Bahrain’s showcase event, the Formula One Grand Prix, is set to begin this Sunday. Last year it was cancelled due to widespread clashes......

    But let the royals have their day. Let them think their reign is secure. Let the voices of their cheering partisans, their American and European enablers, and the roar of engines drown out the cries of the oppressed and make inaudible the chants of “Leave Hamad, leave.”

    The rest of Bahrain will instead stand behind the quiet dignity of Abdulhadi al-Khawaja’s 10-week-old hunger strike, a single day of which is nobler than all 228 years of al-Khalifa rule."

    Exclusive: National Security Agency Whistleblower William Binney on Growing State Surveillance

    Democracy Now!

    "In his first television interview since he resigned from the National Security Agency over the its domestic surveillance program, William Binney discusses the NSA’s massive power to spy on Americans and why the FBI raided his home after he became a whistleblower. Binney was a key source for investigative journalist James Bamford’s recent exposé in Wired Magazine about how the NSA is quietly building the largest spy center in the country in Bluffdale, Utah. The Utah spy center will contain near-bottomless databases to store all forms of communication collected by the agency including private emails, cell phone calls and Google searches and other personal data.

    Binney served in the NSA for over 30 years, including a time as technical director of the NSA’s World Geopolitical and Military Analysis Reporting Group. Since retiring from the NSA in 2001 he has warned that the NSA’s data-mining program has become so vast that it could “create an Orwellian state.” Today marks the first time Binney has spoken on national television about NSA surveillance. This interview is part of a 4-part special. Click here to see segment 2, 3, and 4....."

    Whistleblower: The NSA Is Lying–U.S. Government Has Copies of Most Of Your Emails

    Democracy Now!

    "National Security Agency whistleblower William Binney reveals he believes domestic surveillance has become more expansive under President Obama than President George W. Bush. He estimates the NSA has assembled 20 trillion "transactions" — phone calls, emails and other forms of data — from Americans. This likely includes copies of almost all of the emails sent and received from most people living in the United States. Binney talks about Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act and challenges NSA Director Keith Alexander’s assertion that the NSA is not intercepting information about U.S. citizens. This interview is part of a 4-part special. Click here to see segment 1, 2, and 4....."

    Video: Palestinians turned away from Dead Sea resort as Israelis, Europeans and dogs enter freely

    By Ali Abunimah

    "An Israeli-run Dead Sea beach resort in the occupied West Bank turned away a number of families on Friday, 13 April, apparently just because they were Palestinian.

    This blatant act of racist discrimination at “Kalia Beach” (map) was personally witnessed and caught on video by Hazel Cameron, a Lecturer of International Relations at Scotland’s University of St Andrews.

    Cameron was traveling with a group of students and threatened to withdraw them from the beach resort unless all visitors were allowed in regardless of their ethnicity....."

    The Prisoners in Gaza – Their Blackout Nightmare

    By Ralph Nader

    Common Dreams

    "Have you heard much lately about the 1.5 million Palestinians illegally imprisoned by the Israeli government in the world’s largest open-air Gulag? Their dire living conditions, worsened by a selective Israeli siege limiting the importation of necessities of life – medical items, food, water, building materials, and fuel to list a few – has resulted in an 80 percent unemployment rate and widespread suffering from unlawful punishment, arbitrary arrests and imprisonment in Israeli jails......

    It is remarkable how successful the Israeli propagandists have been in controlling the news coverage. They have even sidelined prominent retired Israeli security, military and political leaders, who along with civic and peace advocates are seeking a two-state solution, an end to confiscation of Palestinian land and houses, and debunking war talk against Iran, designed for domestic political purposes in Israel and the U.S.

    For example, Meir Dagan, director of the Mossad – Israel’s CIA – from 2002 until 2010, called bombing Iran “the stupidest thing I ever heard.” In agreement are many other Israelis in the know. But, as in the U.S. during the months before the invasion of Iraq in March 2003, experienced voices of realism and sanity are not heard. Nor are sobering words of candor, as voiced by Israel’s founding father, David Ben-Gurion, who said, of the dispossessed Palestinians years ago, “we have come and we have stolen their country. Why would they accept that?

    Isn’t bringing these prominent Israeli truthsayers, peace advocates and military refuseniks to the U.S. Congress for their first-ever public hearing way overdue? At stake is peace or more wars in the Middle East. Also at stake is the possibility of another U.S. “war of choice” against Iran and the likely uncontrollable consequences that such belligerency would provoke. Would members of Congress let the AIPAC lobby block Israelis from coming here to present such testimony?

    Or are the Senate Foreign Relations and House Foreign Affairs Committees, chaired respectively by Democratic Senator John Kerry and Republican Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, satisfied with following their party lines?"

    Current Al-Jazeera (Arabic) Online Poll

    Is the visit of Arabs and Muslims to Al-Aqsa mosque (under occupation) normalization with Israel or affirmation of the identity of Jerusalem?

    With over 600 responding, the vote was equally split 50/50.

    UN Observers in Syria, by Emad Hajjaj

    (Click on cartoon to enlarge)

    Real News Video : Right Wing Billionaires Push Israel's Agenda in 2012 Elections

    Right-Wing Neoconservatives and former Democrats from Wall Street are teaming up to defeat Obama, but can their attacks on his Israel policy divide his funding base?

    More at The Real News

    Real News Video: Inequality and Instability - Part 3

    James K. Galbraith on link between inequality and instability: Societies that are more egalitarian are more stable

    More at The Real News

    An insult to revolutionary Egypt

    The paucity of decent candidates in presidential elections highlights the lack of choice facing Egyptians

    Mona Eltahawy, Thursday 19 April 2012

    "The circus otherwise known as the presidential elections in Egypt is making an anarchist of me. There isn't a single candidate I find either qualified or deserving to lead revolutionary Egypt, and I don't believe the elections will be free or fair – how can they be, under a military junta that has run Egypt since 18 days of revolution forced Hosni Mubarak to step down on 11 February 2011?

    Concerned with guaranteeing itself immunity from trial for crimes against the people and protecting its legendary budget from civilian oversight when it hands over power after next month's presidential elections, the junta – according to which conspiracy you believe – is machiavellian in its evil-genius ability to manipulate the public into voting for its preferred candidate, or as confused as everyone else.

    It has certainly been helped by the Islamists' endless missteps. Again, according to which conspiracy you favour, those same Islamists – be they Muslim Brotherhood or ultra-conservative Salafis – are either in cahoots with the junta in an attempt to guarantee their own slice of power, or as hapless as the rest of us trying to end military rule.

    From where I stand, it's not just a slice but a desire to swallow the cake whole that has hamstrung the Islamists – who control 70% of parliament – and highlighted how Mubarak and his predecessors gutted Egyptian politics......

    Now that the rollercoaster has dipped many are surveying the scene, and the strongest candidates are a former regime man (Amr Moussa, also ex-head of that club of dictators otherwise known as the Arab League), and a former Muslim Brotherhood man (Abdel-Moneim Aboul-Fotouh, who was kicked out of the movement back in the day when it still maintained that it wouldn't contest the presidency).

    I look at this "choice" and hear the tortured justifications made in their favour and they sound awfully similar: hollow.

    The whole point of overthrowing Mubarak was that we had ended fear. The revolution continues, not just to end military rule but to provide alternatives to the best of the worst. We still have a way to go."

    Egypt women to demonstrate in Cairo for representation in new constitution

    Bikya Masr

    "CAIRO: A number of women’s organizations and movements are marching on Saturday, and too, calling for fair and equal representation of women in the new constitution.

    The Egyptian Women’s Union said the march will start at noon from Talaat Harb Square to Tahrir Square, with the participation of many leading feminists figures including renowned writer and feminist Nawal al-Sa’dawi and the virginity tests fighter Samira Ibrahim. The march is titled “beware of the Egyptian women anger.”

    The march that will see a great number of activists and equality advocates in Egypt aims to pressure the state to include women in the committee responsible for writing it. The march will also be calling for specific bands that ensure and preserves women’s rights and grants them legal and social representation, especially concerning family laws.

    Many members at the newly-elected, and majority Islamic parliament have been launching attacks against women rights in the country. They wish to cancel many, if not most, of the laws that promote women’s rights, most notably that law that allows to obtain a divorce without her partner obstructing the process. The law, also known as Khol’e, is recognized as an Islamic right, and has been implemented a little over a decade ago, ending years of hardship and legal battles that women had to go through to obtain a divorce. In Egyptian law men are the one who can end a marriage, but the law allowed women to get out of an unhappy or abusive marriages, without the obstruction of their partner. It was normal for women to spend 10 or 15 years in the slow-moving Egyptian courts, which openly favor men’s interests in domestic law; and this, to rid themselves of their married life.

    The Islamic MPs accuse these laws of “aiming to destroy families” and said it was passed to please the former first lady of the fallen regime. The parliamentary attacks on women’s rights drew great criticism from women’s organizations, whom, dismissed the calls and accused the MPs of wishing to destroy the little gains Egyptian women attained after long years of organized struggle."

    Thursday, April 19, 2012

    Bahrain: chequered flag

    Formula One's grand prix in Bahrain has backfired before it has even begun

    Editorial, Thursday 19 April 2012

    "Formula One's grand prix in Bahrain has backfired before it has even begun. If the Bahraini authorities wanted to use the race as a symbol of business as usual after their crackdown on anti-government protesters last year, they are in for a disappointment. The race has become a magnet for protest, a magnifying glass of dissent bubbling away below the surface. "Don't race over our blood," the slogan goes in Manama, but that is what Formula One teams propose to do today.

    John Yates, the former assistant commissioner of the Met employed by the Bahrain government to advise on police reform, should hang his head in shame for saying that protesters were not being abused by the police, because if they were they would be on YouTube. If Mr Yates had spoken to the Human Rights Watch team gathering evidence of the latest cases of abuse, he would have learned that the beatings have not stopped. They have merely changed venue from police stations, where CCTV has been installed in interrogation rooms, to the parking lot on the way. The beatings in police jeeps can last from two minutes to two hours, and the latest case recorded by HRW took place two days ago. Had he inquired, Mr Yates might have got a similar answer from Amnesty too, who wrote in a report this week that human rights violations continued unabated......"

    Guardian Video: Bahrain protests continue after night of clashes

    Protesters in Bahrain's capital Manama take to the streets in anti-government demonstration ahead of this weekend's grand prix.

    Unverified footage obtained from social media purports to show clashes on Wednesday night between police and protesters, Thursday 19 April 2012

    النفوذ الصهيوني في الأمم المتحدة والولايات المتحدة


    "فيما يشير إلى نفوذ اللوبي الصهيوني في الأمم المتحدة والولايات المتحدة، تناولت "هآرتس"، اليوم الخميس، رسما كاريكاتوريا نشر على صفحة الفيسبوك الخاصة بحركة "احتلوا وول ستريت"، واعتبرته على أنه "ذو مركبات لاسامية واضحة".

    ورغم أن الكاريكاتير يشير إلى نفوذ اللوبي الصهيوني في الولايات المتحدة والأمم المتحدة، إلا أن "هآرتس" اعتبرت أن الرسم الكاريكاتوري يتضمن سائقا لمركبة يبدو أنه "حريديا" وعلى قبعته نجمة داوود، في حين يقبض بإحدى يديه على المقود الذي يتركب من شعار الأمم المتحدة، في حين يقبض بيده الثانية على رأس ذراع علبة التروس الذي هو رئيس الولايات المتحدة باراك أوباما.

    كما كتبت الصحيفة أن نشر الكاريكاتير يأتي في توقيت مقلق، بادعاء أنه يتزامن مع إحياء ذكرى المحرقة.

    يذكر أن نشر الكاريكاتير كان في مدينة تمبا التي تعتبر أكبر مدن ولاية فلوريدا

    Photos of Soldiers Posing With Afghan Corpses the Latest Outrage Over U.S. Occupation of Afghanistan

    Democracy Now!

    "We get reaction to two photographs published by the Los Angeles Times that show U.S. soldiers posing with the corpses and body parts of dead Afghans. "They keep talking about rotten apples,” says journalist Anand Gopal of the Pentagon’s attempts to distance itself from the images. “But you have to wonder how many rotten apples you have to see before you realize that the tree itself is a problem.” Meanwhile, several NATO allies have promised to underwrite Afghanistan’s armed forces after foreign troops depart. The United States and other nations plan to retreat from Afghanistan by the end of 2014 and hand the security issue over to Afghan security forces. "If we don’t address the agreements that the U.S. and Australian governments and other governments are making for long-term war strategy in Afghanistan, we are heading for an increase in violence in this part of the world … more serious than the Kabul attacks," says Hakim, Coordinator for Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers, based in Kabul, Afghanistan....."

    Back From Syria, Journalist Anand Gopal Warns Protesters "Face Slaughter" by Assad Regime

    Democracy Now!

    "Journalist Anand Gopal has just returned from Syria, where he interviewed survivors of last week’s bloody battle for the town of Taftanaz in northern Syria. Reports say government forces continue to attack rebel strongholds in Homs, Hama and other cities in violation of a U.N.-backed ceasefire that took effect last week. On Wednesday, Syrian security forces opened fire on anti-regime demonstrators surrounding the cars of a U.N. team in a suburb of Damascus....."

    Al-Jazeera Video: Egypt's electoral shakeup

    Al-Jazeera Video: Syrian protesters surround UN vehicles

    "This video was posted on YouTube by Syrian activists on April 18, it shows anti-government protesters in a Damascus suburb surrounding UN observers during their mission to monitor a fragile ceasefire in the country.

    A crowd of people chanting: "May God support the Free Syrian Army" (referring to the group of armed opposition fighters and defectors from the Syrian army), swarmed the cars before the sound of an explosion sent them running for safety.

    It is not clear what caused the blast. Demonstrators took shelter behind the UN vehicles just before they sped off."

    Al-Jazeera Video: Groups protest against Bahrain's Formula One race

    Real News Video (with Transcript) : Inequality and Instability - Part 2

    James K. Galbraith: The Bush years - Growth demanded new markets among debtors who previously had not qualified for mortgages

    More at The Real News

    Jenny Tonge's Victory over the Lobby

    By Ramzy Baroud
    Palestine Chronicle

    "'My Lords, I was in Gaza six weeks ago,' began Baroness Tonge, when she spoke at the House of Lords in January 2009. 'Now, as a result of the impotence of the international community, not just in Gaza, but…over 40 years of occupation of Palestine by Israel, those institutions that I visited are rubble and many of the children with whom I played are dead.'

    Jenny Tonge, then a member of the UK’s Liberal Democrat party, was a dangerous British politician as far as Israel was concerned. She not only dared to use strong language while referencing Israeli actions in the occupied territories, she also demanded action from her government.

    For this she was subjected to the same, predictable verbal abuse by Israeli officials and media, by the pro-Israeli British lobby, and even by some of her peers. However, calling Tonge ‘anti-Semitic’ was never going to be convincing. The formidable woman has spent years of her life serving her community – as a doctor, MP and spokesperson for Health for Liberal Democrats in the House of Lords – and has amassed far too much credibility to be shaken by defamatory accusations.....

    It is important to remember that Tonge’s battle is not a skirmish within the ranks of the political elites. Rather, it’s a war of narratives, where Israel and its ‘friends’ insist on silencing any meaningful debate on Palestine-Israel. The other side, encompassing Tonge and numerous others, is slowly encroaching on Israel’s well-guarded discourse, and making serious inroads.

    A recent episode in the war of narratives involved Gunther Grass, German author of the widely acclaimed anti-Nazi novel, The Tin Drum. Grass has now done what many others, especially in Germany, never dared to do. He criticized Israel for its aggressive posturing towards Iran. Israeli officials responded by calling the man every bad word in the book of defamation.

    The typical ‘storm’ created by Israeli responses has, however, not managed to enact a typical response this time....

    While Israel does occasionally succeed in silencing critics, the tried and true tactic of the past is becoming less effective. In the final analysis, neither Tonge nor Gunter have actually lost to the lobby. In the world of ideas, only the credibility of one’s views actually makes a difference. The rest is hasbara. "

    The Disappearing Terrorists

    by , April 19, 2012

    ".....But the greater and more important agenda is to blacken Iran and create from whole cloth one more phony reason to go to war. It is the same reasoning that was used against Saddam Hussein — that he was “supporting international terrorism.” This cart-before-the-horse form of analysis starts with the fact that Hezbollah is an ally of Iran. The allegation that it is preparing to carry out terrorist actions inside the U.S. is taken to mean that it is really acting as a proxy for the mullahs in so doing. Tehran is therefore sponsoring a new al-Qaeda. Those who want a new war with Iran consequently argue that Tehran’s terrorist agenda must be stopped at all costs lest there be another 9/11.

    Ironically, Hezbollah is, as terrorists go, a paper tiger, while both the United States and Israel with a wink and a nod are supporting actual acts of terrorism inside Iran. So one should be asking folks like Hillary Clinton and Richard Armitage who really constitutes the “A-team” of terrorists: is it Hezbollah, or is it actually the United States and Israel?"

    UN mission hopes fade as Syrian regime mocks peace plan

    Loveday Morris Beirut
    The Independent
    Thursday 19 April 2012

    "The likelihood of a fully fledged United Nations observer mission being dispatched to Syria rapidly diminished yesterday as the regime continued to make a mockery of Kofi Annan's peace plan.

    Hours before an advance team of monitors was due to report back to the UN Security Council, its members were forced to flee as shots rang out in the Damascus suburb of Arbeen. Opposition groups said a government sniper was responsible. No more monitors will be sent unless the ceasefire is deemed to be holding. Hundreds of anti-government protesters crowded the UN vehicles before the cars sped off after gunshots rang out, online videos showed.

    The international community has been reluctant to declare the ceasefire dead – despite the bodies piling up – as the UN-Arab League envoy's six-point peace plan is seen as the last hope for a diplomatic solution to the conflict. But pressure is mounting for an alternative as the Syrian government continues to flout the ceasefire, while playing lip service to the initiative....."

    Britain's duty to the Palestinian people

    I came to the UK to talk about the plight of the Palestinians but ended up fighting deportation. This is what I wanted to say

    Raed Salah
    The Guardian, Wednesday 18 April 2012

    "In June 2011 I came to Britain to begin a speaking tour to draw attention to the plight of my people, the Palestinian citizens of Israel. The tour was meant to last 10 days. Instead I had to stay for 10 months in order to resist an attempt by the home secretary, Theresa May, to deport me – itself the result of a smear campaign against me and what I represent. I fought not just for my own sake, but for all who are smeared because they support the Palestinian cause.

    Since 1990 I have visited the UK several times to speak publicly. On this occasion I was arrested, imprisoned, and told I was to be deported to Israel because my presence in the UK was "not conducive to the public good". A judge later ruled that I had been illegally detained, but bail conditions continued to severely restrict my freedom, making it impossible for me to speak as I had intended.

    After a 10-month legal battle, I have now been cleared on "all grounds" by a senior immigration tribunal judge, who ruled that May's decision to deport me was "entirely unnecessary" and that she had been "misled". The evidence she relied on (which included a poem of mine which had been doctored to make it appear anti-Jewish) was not, he concluded, a fair portrayal of my views. In reality, I reject any and every form of racism, including antisemitism.

    I have no doubt that, despite this, Israel's cheerleaders in Britain will continue to smear my character. This is the price every Palestinian leader and campaigner is forced to pay.......

    The Palestinian issue can only be resolved if Israel and its supporters in Britain abandon the dogmas of supremacy and truly adhere to the universal values of justice and fairness. Britain has a special responsibility in this, because it is uniquely responsible for our suffering: our national tragedy began with the Balfour Declaration.

    While Britain enforced the first part of the declaration, which promised Palestine as a homeland for the Jewish people, but ignored the part that states: "It being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine." If there is any lesson to be learned from this sordid affair, it is that there is nothing to gain from putting false words into my mouth, or casting me out of the mainstream of public discourse."

    Activists call for days of rage as F1 arrives in Bahrain

    Police scatter 200 protesters with stun grenades after rally as Bernie Ecclestone calls country 'peaceful', Wednesday 18 April 2012

    "Bahrain was recently described as a "quiet and peaceful" place by the most powerful voice in Formula One, Bernie Ecclestone, and passed as a safe venue to race by Jean Todt, president of the FIA, the sport's governing body.

    On Wednesday, however, about 200 protesters confronted police for more than an hour before being scattered by stun grenades. They chanted "down with the government" and "we want freedom" as they waved posters supporting the hunger striker and human rights activist Abdulhadi al-Khawaja.

    The demonstration took police and government officials by surprise as it happened in the middle of the main shopping area in the capital, Manama. Most unofficial demonstrations have been confined to outlying villages.

    "Formula One here is the sport of the ruling family, the sport of the crown prince, the son of the king, who is considered to be the biggest violator," said Nabeel Rajab, one of the country's leading activists, who was at the demonstration. Not far off riot police carried batons and teargas guns.

    Rajab said: "Because of crimes committed last year Bahrain was in international isolation. Now Formula One is used as a PR tool to come out of international isolation. The race is helping the ruling family. Yes, people are angry. Yes, it is a negative message to the people of Bahrain who lost a lot of people, it sends the wrong message to the people."......"

    Don’t kid yourselves: Bahrain hasn’t changed

    The grand prix organisers cannot shut their eyes to widespread human rights abuses

    "The stubborn determination of Formula One’s governing body to press ahead with the grand prix in Bahrain has delighted the country’s rulers, who portray it as a sign that the Gulf state is back to normal. It is anything but.

    While levels of violence in Bahrain are down from their peak early last year, human rights abuses across the country remain widespread and popular protests are rising again, with thousands of Bahrainis taking to the streets in recent weeks. The response of the authorities has been swift and often brutal. Three teenagers were wounded, apparently by shotgun pellets, at a post-funeral rally last Friday; many others have been taken into detention.

    This is consistent with the way the Bahraini authorities have responded to unrest over the past year. Among those on the receiving end of the crackdown have been members of the medical profession (attacked, detained and tortured for helping injured protesters) and academics (abused for failing to show sufficient fealty to the ruling family).......

    The British Government still declines to impose a complete ban on military equipment exports to Bahrain and it continues to talk up the prospects for Bahraini national dialogue and reconciliation. It is hard to see how either is remotely feasible while so many of Bahrain’s opposition are behind bars and with citizens imprisoned for the “crime” of wanting free elections.

    It is time for the UK to recognise the limits of its quiet diplomacy with Bahrain and to step up the pressure on a government that continues to deny the basic rights of its citizens and seems fully prepared to let an activist die in detention for demanding democracy.
    If the grand prix does nothing else for Bahrainis, it should at least keep their country’s plight in the headlines and embarrass governments, such as the UK, to do much more to uphold their human rights."

    Egypt’s Samira Ibrahim named TIME influential person

    Bikya Masr

    "Egyptian activist Samira Ibrahim was chosen as one of TIME Magazine’s 100 most influential persons of the year. Ibrahim who battled the state and its military for over a year as a result of the virginity tests she and six women went through after their arrest in March 2011, recently lost the case, with the military court acquitting the doctor and those involved in the tests.

    Actress and UN peace ambassador and an advocate to end violence against women Charlize Theron wrote on why Ibrahim was added to this year’s list.

    Too often women suffer in silence; their struggles stay hidden behind forced smiles and stoic faces. This is not something Samira Ibrahim is willing to allow. After Egyptian soldiers detained her and subjected her and other female protesters to forced ‘virginity tests,’ the 25-year-old marketing manager refused to stay silent. She sued the military, and in December a civilian judge ruled the humiliating practice illegal. Her fight is not over, though: In March, a military tribunal acquitted the doctor who allegedly performed the ‘virginity tests.’ Samira has sworn to pursue the case using international law,” Theron wrote......."

    Syria's carnival that ended in bloodshed

    A year on, Syrians are remembering the sit-in in Homs' New Clock Square and the ensuing crackdown that left several dead.

    Basma Atassi

    "Syrians in Homs are remembering a day that began with a funeral, developed into a sit-in and ended in bloodshed.

    The events in the New Clock Square on April 18, 2011, evoke both bitter and sweet memories for the thousands who participated in the largest demonstration in the city centre since the country-wide uprising against President Bashar al-Assad had started.

    "It was a day where we thought the Syrian regime was two days from collapsing. A day when all remaining barriers of fears were broken," Ammar, an employee at an internet cafe in Homs, said.

    The sit-in in the New Clock Square began as a funeral for seven anti-government protesters killed by the regime forces a day earlier. Tens of thousands participated in the burial at al-Kateeb cemetery.

    "On our way back from the cemetery, we started chanting ‘to the clock, to the clock’ and ‘sit-in, sit-in’. And when we passed by the Christian neighbourhood of Hamidiyeh we started chanting “the Syrian people are one’."

    "Our Christian brothers were throwing rice, rose petals and water drops from the balconies. It was beautiful," Aboudi, a 17-year-old student in Homs, said.....

    'Angry city'

    However, despite attempts to restore the business-as-usual mode, Ammar said Homs was forever changed.

    "Homs became an angry city. While the upper class had not yet been very involved in demonstrations, the sit-in near their homes moved them. They became an integral part of the protest movement in the city," he said.

    The brutal crackdown on the sit-in, Ammar said, was meant to deter activists from attempting to occupy the city centres of the capital, Damascus, and Aleppo, the country’s second city Aleppo.

    "I think that Assad saw the new trend of sit-ins and wanted to stop it. Before the Homs protest, there had been a large rally in [the coastal city of] Latakia and another one in [the Damascus suburb of] Douma, but they were not comparable in numbers to the New Clock Square sit-in.

    "Assad wanted to teach a lesson to all Syrians through Homs."...."

    Wednesday, April 18, 2012

    Palestinian Pundit Upgrade Complete

    I hope you like this new look and feel of the blog. We always pride ourselves by our contents and Tony does an incredible job doing most the updates. Enjoy reading and Thank you for your support.

    Video: International Letter & Petition to Asma al-Assad

    Walid al-Muallem: Syria 'has respect' for Annan plan and I Am Really Manorexic! I Wouldn't Lie to You, Would I?

    Foreign minister Walid al-Muallem says deployment of 250 UN monitors is "reasonable and logical", during visit to China.


    "Syria's foreign minister has pledged to respect UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan's peace plan and to co-operate with a UN team sent to monitor a fragile ceasefire between government forces and opposition fighters.

    Walid al-Muallem's comments, made as he met his Chinese counterpart in Beijing on Wednesday, came as both the opposition and authorities reported violations of the truce....."

    Race and Empire

    The legacy of the “white man’s burden”

    by Justin Raimondo, April 18, 2012

    ".... It’s a paradoxical fact of life in Imperial America that the more intolerant we are of racism – real or imaginary – here on the home front, the more blatantly ethnocentric our foreign policy becomes. This is reflected in the US government’s shocking disregard for non-white lives. The politically correct mandarins of Washington thought nothing of imposing murderous economic sanctions on non-white Iraq, a blockade that literally took the milk right out of the mouths of babies: many thousands perished. Our drones roam the skies over the Middle East and Africa, taking out scores of innocents in the pursuit of “terrorists.” Can you imagine a similar drone strike aimed at a terrorist cell in Hamburg, or Britain? Thought not.

    Racism of the variety under discussion is the belief that a white life is worth more than a non-white life, and if the history of US military interventions in the post-9/11 era illustrates a single consistent principle, then it is surely that. When Robert Bales murdered 17 Afghan civilians, more than half of them children, the US government immediately cut the families checks for $40,000 for each victim – which, parsimonious as it is, represents a marked increase over what is usually offered. Imagine the uproar if they tried to get away with that in a white country. ......"

    Israel rides the rollercoaster of mass hysteria

    Ilan Pappe
    The Electronic Intifada
    18 April 2012

    "Spending a week in Israel these days is like being trapped within a scene from the movie One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.

    Like Jack Nicholson in the lead role of that classic film, you might not be insane but the doctors and nurses who run the psychiatric ward manufacture every few minutes a collective hysteria to keep everyone in the grip of fear and hatred. Everyone is an enemy, every a visitor an existential threat.....

    Advanced stage of disease

    But Israel in 2012 is in a far more severe and advanced stage of the disease, whether the one imagined by Orwell in 1984, reported by Peled about 1967 or summarized historically by Feldman in the US in 2012.

    The hysteria manufactured in Israel has become a constant state of mind and nothing less than a strategy. Its main purpose is to keep both the Israeli Jewish and Palestinian populations within a certain, permanent, anxious existence. The Palestinian population under occupation is denied contact with those who want to show solidarity with their plight, so that the ghettoization of the West Bank would be as effective as the one achieved in the Gaza Strip by a military siege, and yet at the same time would not be too bothersome for the international allies of the Jewish state.

    Life there has to be oppressive enough to encourage people to leave or to remain jailed in the largest mega-prison on earth, but more seemingly plausible so as to discourage another uprising.

    The Jewish population has to be constantly distracted from what pushed almost half a million of its members to protest massively in the streets of Tel Aviv last summer and continue to be oblivious to the oppression of the Palestinians on the one hand, and the growing global moral repugnance towards Israel, on the other......"

    Al-Jazeera Video: UN wives appeal to Asma al Assad

    "An appeal has gone out to the wife of the Syrian president to do what others have so far failed to achieve. The wivs of two UN ambassadors have released a video urging her to "stop your husband".

    Al Jazeera's Kristen Saloomey reports from New York."

    Al-Jazeera Video: Inside Story: Israel: for the fear of a 'flytilla'

    "Why is Israel so nervous about these activists from abroad? Could their protest really make a difference on the ground? Guests: Mick Napier,Gregg Roman, Mustafa Barghouti."

    Real News Video : Inequality and Instability

    James K. Galbraith presents his study of the world economy just before the great crisis

    More at The Real News

    Morocco's second spring

    Morocco's king was hailed for deftly avoiding revolution. But as other Arab regimes found, promises of reform only go so far

    Issandr El Amrani, Tuesday 17 April 2012

    "There are cautionary tales in the Arab uprisings, as Syria has shown: not every revolution can be as successful as Tunisia's, not every aftermath is rosy. And then there are also questions raised about those places where revolution did not take place. Was it averted because there is wise and popular government, or has some kind of social shock merely been postponed?

    Last year Morocco seemed for a while to be following the path of its eastern neighbours. Protests were proliferating, with public participation unseen since the 1970s. King Mohammed VI, whose legitimacy was never targeted by the protests – even if that of his regime was – deftly retook the initiative by proposing, and hurriedly passing, a new constitution. Elections that followed led, for the first time, to victory for the moderate Islamist Justice and Development Party (PJD by its French acronym), which is now in office. Surely, some observers marvelled, here was a model to follow for countries faced with demands for change, one that offered fewer dangers than revolution?.....

    Disappointingly, the new government has been a lot less critical of such things in power than when it was in opposition. Some fear that it has already been tamed by the makhzen, as once were opposition leftist and nationalist parties. There may have been no revolution in Morocco last year, but the thirst for change and accountability is real. As other Arab regimes discovered, promising reform can only get you so far before it becomes a matter of re-arranging the deckchairs on the Titanic. Perhaps Morocco still has more lessons to learn than to teach after the Arab uprisings."

    Israel to free Palestinian detainee as prisoners launch mass hunger strike

    Amnesty International
    17 April 2012

    "The expected release of Palestinian Khader Adnan after four months in Israeli custody without charge or trial coincides with a mass prisoner hunger strike which Amnesty International says demonstrates anger over administrative detention and prison conditions.

    Adnan, a 34-year old baker allegedly linked to Islamic Jihad, is due to be released in a deal between his lawyers and the Israeli authorities in February in which he agreed to end his 66-day hunger strike protesting at his administrative detention and ill-treatment.

    He had been held since December 2011.

    On Tuesday more than a thousand prisoners began an open-ended hunger strike to mark Palestinian Prisoners’ Day and protest against the practice of administrative detention, denial of family visits, and conditions of detention.

    “Without revealing evidence to justify holding him, the Israeli authorities continued to hold Khader Adnan after he agreed to end his hunger strike, forcing him to languish longer in detention without charge or trial while his life was in danger,” said Ann Harrison, Deputy Middle East and North Africa Director at Amnesty International.

    “The Israeli authorities must cease the practice of holding individuals in administrative detention, and ensure Palestinians in their custody are not subjected to ill-treatment and have access to adequate medical care when needed.”

    Adnan’s action inspired Hana Shalabi, 30, who went on a 43-day hunger strike in protest at her own administrative detention and ill-treatment by Israeli authorities.

    On 1 April, the Israeli military authorities released her to the Gaza Strip in a deal reached with her lawyer, who represents the Palestinian Prisoner Society.

    Amnesty International remains concerned that Shalabi’s transfer to the Gaza Strip may have amounted to a forcible transfer or deportation. She has no possibility of returning home to the occupied West Bank for at least three years......"

    Tuesday, April 17, 2012

    Elia Suleiman's cinema as the premonition of the Arab revolutions

    Exploring the emotive universe from which the Arab Spring finally blossomed.

    By Hamid Dabashi

    Man, Can He Write!!

    "New York, NY - What if Bashar al-Assad does not fall and all these heroic Syrian sacrifices are for naught? What if Omar Suleiman becomes the next Egyptian president - or any other former aides to President Hosni Mubarak come back to power? What if "the Islamists" take over Tunisia, or Egypt, or succeed in Syria? Is Ali Abdullah Saleh really deposed? Maybe he is still running Yemen from behind the scene? What about Bahrain - why is scarcely anyone talking about the brutal repression of the Arab Spring in that tiny island, the home of the US Fifth Fleet? Aren't the Saudis and the Gulf states in cahoots with the US, the Europeans and the Israelis to repress these revolutions where they can or else hijack them where possible? There are reports that prominent Bahraini activists, such as Nabeel Rajab, are barred from entering Egypt by security forces for fear of collaboration between regional revolutionaries.

    Has "the Arab Spring" turned into a winter - already? Did the counter-revolutionary forces - the Saudis, the US, the Russians, the Islamic Republic, Israel, the remaining Arab potentates - turn the tide and kidnap the people's revolution? There are folks on the left who think so, already, and there are people on the right who are doing their damnedest to make sure that it is indeed the case.

    There are many discouraging signs - only if we cling to a linear conception of history, of reason, of progress and if we measure the events we witness in tandem with that invisible line - Ben Ali fell, then Mubarak, then Gaddafi, then Ali Abdollah Saleh, and now Syria is in trouble. So, one after the other - and if this linear order were not to be followed, or followed on the model of a total revolution that will, tomorrow morning, result in free and democratic socialist republics - from one end of the Arab world to another - then, for sure, the counter-revolutionaries have turned the tide, succeeded and revolutions are lost.

    But Arabs - like all other people - have been dreaming of these revolts for a long time, and like all other dreams, their interpreters have been the Arab dreamers themselves - their visionary artists, poets, critical thinkers, philosophers and filmmakers.

    Dreams are not dreamt on a linear trajectory - nor should their interpretations be drawn along such lines.......

    Dreams are nonlinear

    In many respects, ES' silent witnessing of atrocities he faces is reminiscent of the legendary Palestinian cartoonist Naji al-Ali's (1938-1987) creation Handala. Handala too is a silent witness. His back turned to the world, to us, to those watching what he is watching, Handala fixes his gaze on the event: an Israeli bulldozer uprooting a Palestinian olive tree, an Israeli tank rolling into a Palestinian village, corrupt Arab potentates gathering for yet another useless summit. Handala (also known as Hanzala) occasionally joins in action. He is a fighter. He picks up a stone and joins the intifada. Handala survived after the death of his creator Naji al-Ali, who was assassinated in London in the summer of 1987. To this day, you will see Handala adorning the walls of Palestinian refugee camps, asking the residents to keep the camps clean, while cursing the corrupt Arab leaders. When we screened Rashid Masharawi's Tazkirat illa al-Qods ["Passport to Jerusalem"] (2002) at Baddawi refugee camp in northern Lebanon, we projected the film onto a rooftop wall, on which Handala was painted, proclaiming for the wall and for the whole world to know: "al-Qods lana ["Jerusalem is ours"]"

    What Elia Suleiman does with ES is to be more than just a witness to criminal atrocities. Naji al-Ali's Handala is a trope for witnessing....

    The formal destruction of linear narratives

    For Palestinians at the receiving end of one of the gravest injustices in human history, the calamity they have faced as a people, as a nation, has eventually become a matter of the defiant suspension of normativity, morality, normality. What morality? How can ethics and morality have any place in the face of a barefaced banality that steals other people's homeland, murders its inhabitants, ethnically "cleans" their country and then denies their very existence. "Palestinians do not exist", one of their colonisers once said. Palestinians are "invented people", another said recently. The cinema of Elia Suleiman elevates the fact and phenomena of bearing witness in defiance of that barbaric cruelty to an entirely different register. Through an act of cinematic genius, it pulls the very metaphysical rug - upon which stands humanity at large - from under its feet. You become airborne, suspended, in Elia Suleiman's cinema.

    No Saudi patriarch, no Israeli warlord, no US general - and certainly no IMF or World Bank economist - can rob a people of that history of their revolutions writ large....

    At a moment when the right is incessantly plotting how to steal the peoples' revolutions, and the left is stuck against a tasteless, soulless and entirely pathetic cul de sac of discounting Bashar al-Assad's atrocities, or else fearing the phantoms of an Islamist take over here, or a military coup there, or a US/Israeli/Saudi plot to dismantle and roll back the whole project, it is imperative to go way back upstream, where these revolutions started in the indomitable spirit of a people and their visionary dreamers.

    The Arab revolts are not following a linear course towards a total revolution. They are an example par excellence of nonlinear narrative paving the way towards an open-ended revolution - unfolding more like a Bakhtinian novel than a Homeric epic (I have developed this theme more extensively in my forthcoming book on the Arab Spring). But whichever way the events unfold - counter-revolutionaries plotting to steal it, neoliberal Islamists seeking to appropriate it, military juntas seeking to derail it, or US/Israeli plots to short-circuit it - the revolutionary uprising will continue to appropriate more and more of the public space, transform it into active formation of voluntary associations and fine-tune the machinery of societal transformation beyond anything we have seen before. The combined power of US counter-intelligence, Israeli expertise in creating distractions (such as the Iranian nuclear programme) and Saudi money comes nowhere near the revolutionary synergy of what is unfolding right in front of our eyes.

    To learn the courage to face the nonlinear unfolding of these revolutions - the gushing forth of a massive rally here, punctuated by a treacherous plot there - we must revisit visionary masters of Arab dreams, learn their joyous defiance of pain and disappointment and bear witness to our moment in the sun. "

    Al-Jazeera Video: Mike Hannah updates from Cairo

    "75 people are appearing in an Egyptian court
    in connection with football riots that killed more than 70 people in the city of Port Said in February. Al Jazeera's Mike Hannah updates from Cairo."

    Real News Video (with Transcript) : US Isolated at Summit of Americas

    Alex Main: From Cuba to the war on drugs, only Canada supports US policy

    More at The Real News

    Real News Video: Secret prisons in Europe, finds EU special committee

    EuroNews: organised system supporting the CIA's rendition programme were in place in several EU countries

    More at The Real News

    Peace in Syria, by Khalil Bendib

    (Click on cartoon to enlarge)

    Secret Service

    Chris Weyant, Cagle Cartoons, The Hill

    Current Al-Jazeera (Arabic) Online Poll

    Do you expect the violence in Syria to recede with the presence of international observers?

    With over 600 responding, 86% said no.

    Egypt is creaking under the weight of revolution, but it will survive

    Upcoming elections are blighted by paranoia and a national crisis of confidence. It doesn't mean revolution was a bad idea

    Magdi Abdelhadi, Tuesday 17 April 2012

    "In Egypt it's sometimes impossible to determine whether chaos is the work of sinister counter-revolutionary forces, or just normality. There's a big fire almost every week – the latest being in an oil depot in Suez. This immediately sparked fears that "enemies of the revolution" were again at it.

    Chaos, people say, will convince the average Egyptian that the revolution was a bad idea – with the result that he/she will vote for "stability" in the coming presidential election, or even worse, call on the ruling military junta, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (Scaf), to stay in power.....

    Many blame the roadmap imposed by the military with the blessing of the Muslim Brotherhood. Instead of charting a new path with the drafting of a new constitution that laid down a vision for the future and new rules, according to which a parliament and a president should be elected, they both agreed to patch up the old system. But their motives in doing so were at odds.

    While the military sought to salvage as much as possible of the old regime, the Brotherhood saw a historic opportunity to seize power quickly.

    The Brotherhood, along with other Islamists, won the election and looked poised to rule the country. But when the military, fearing real change, refused to let them form a new government, they fell out. That's when their opportunistic love affair came to an abrupt end.

    Both apparently also failed to agree on a compromise candidate for the presidency. That's when the Brotherhood reneged on an earlier promise and fielded its heavyweight deputy leader, multimillionaire businessman Kharait al-Shater. Suleiman, after months in the shadows, also entered the fray, prompting speculation that he was the military's candidate.....

    Close up, Egypt looks a mess. An old elite mounting a rearguard action to fend off its imminent demise. An emerging elite, fragmented and with no experience of parliamentary democracy, let alone running a country blighted with all the economic and social woes you can think of: corruption, poverty, obscene inequality, rampant unemployment, illiteracy, with a hostile military and police force on top.

    The scene appears set for a disaster whichever way it goes, but the long view offers an alternative reading.

    One of the immediate benefits of the revolution has been the exposure of Islamists as politicians who lie and manipulate the public like all others – such as the Islamist MP who lied about his nose job – and thereby damaged their carefully cultivated image as God-fearing do-gooders....."

    Guardian Video: Bahrain F1 grand prix protests continue

    Hundreds of protesters clash with police in Bahrain's capital Manama after a third day of mourning for 22-year-old citizen journalist Ahmed Ismail. Mourners chanted anti-government slogans and criticised Bahrain's hosting the Formula One grand prix this weekend. Demonstrations escalated as protesters threw petrol bombs and police fired teargas, Tuesday 17 April 2012